From Crowley, sex magick flowed via the Agape Lodge into Scientology...
The way out invisible insurrections and radical imaginaries in the UK underground 1961-1991, Kasper Opstrup Frederiksen
NPR:A Look At The #MeToo Movement In The Shambhala Buddhist Community
July 15, 20185:48 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered
NPR's Michel Martin speaks with Andrea Winn, who started investigating sexual abuse allegations within the Shambhala branch of Buddhism. Recently, that group's religious figurehead stepped down.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
As the #MeToo movement has spread, more and more women - and some men - have been coming forward from more and more workplaces and other institutions to share their stories and to demand change.
This is the case in the Shambhala Buddhist community. It's one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the West, with many followers in the U.S. and Canada who gather to learn from faith leader Mipham Rinpoche.
Recently, Mipham, who's also referred to as the Sakyong, which loosely translates as king, took a leave of absence following allegations of sexual misconduct. The entire governing council of Shambhala International resigned following the publication of Buddhist Project Sunshine. That's the name of an unofficial yearlong investigation into the problem of sexual abuse in Shambhala Buddhism undertaken by former member Andrea Winn, who says she's a survivor of sexual abuse. She spent all of 2017 researching sexual abuse in the community and published her findings in February 2018.
Since then, many more survivors have reached out along with a trained investigator. And together, their findings implicated Mipham and pointed to a serious and systemic problem. And Andrea Winn is with us now from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Thank you so much for speaking with us.
ANDREA WINN: Thank you for inviting me in, Michel.
MARTIN: So tell us about your relationship with this community. You were raised in it, as I understand it.
WINN: I was. I was part of the first group of kids growing up in this community. And even though when I started talking about the sexual abuse problem in the community in the early 2000s and I was pushed out of the community, I've continued practicing on my own. So my heart is totally with Shambhala, and that's why I've come back to help clean up this problem. And at this point, I'm not an active member.
MARTIN: What made you think of compiling a report and publishing it?
WINN: You know, when I first started the project last year, I wasn't sure where it was going to go. And so I just decided, well, I'll just write up a report of everything I learned. And in the end, it turned out to be very effective. And so it was shared very widely
MARTIN: As you've thought about this, is there something about the way the community is organized that you feel contributed to this? I mean, as we've said at the beginning of our conversation, I mean, many institutions are having to think through this and think about how they may have contributed to an environment where this went on. And for example, you know, in Hollywood, a lot of people have pointed to the fact that there's a very narrow career funnel, which is in the handful of a very few powerful men and some have used that power in a really malignant way. Whether that's true or not true, I'm just wondering if you have come to any conclusions about what - is there something that allowed this to go on?
WINN: There is something systemic that's happening here. But one thing that's really clear is that in Tibetan Buddhism, there is this guru figure which plays such a central role. Like, when I think about Christianity, it's a bit similar to Jesus except it's an actual living person. That's what people are taught. And they're taught that if you see some kind of problem in your guru, then it's a problem with your perception. It's not actually that they're doing something wrong. So that right there is creating an environment where somebody could get away with murder.
MARTIN: Can I ask you, has this compromised your faith?
WINN: Of learning about Sakyong Mipham?
WINN: Not for me personally because he was never my guru. His father is my guru - his deceased father. So this has not compromised my faith. But certainly what I went through when I first spoke about the sexual abuse problem and was forced out of the community, my faith has taken a heavy, heavy blow from that. So I do have to say that this is extremely challenging. I mean, I know in my bones that there's something very good about the Shambhala teachings. There's something that needs to be protected and to be brought forward out of all of this mess that has happened.
MARTIN: How do you think you will - and other believers - will move on from here?
WINN: What I'm seeing is people drawing on their own personal connection with these teachings to finding steps forward as a community. And actually, the community is in shock. We're going through a process of grief. But at the same time, I'm seeing some very positive conversations happening - people saying that this is worth saving and that they are going to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with these survivors - they believe the survivors - and that they want to sort this out in a good way to preserve the tradition, even if Sakyong Mipham has to step aside.
MARTIN: And what about you? You indicated that you had been forced out of the community for bringing these allegations to light initially. Would you go back?
WINN: I would love to go back. I mean, it is my spiritual home, so I would love to go back.
MARTIN: Well that's Andrea Winn. She's the creator of Buddhist Project Sunshine, which exposed allegations of abuse in the Shambhala Buddhist faith community. And we spoke with her from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Andrea Winn, thanks so much for talking with us.
WINN: My pleasure. Thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: And we would like to mention that in an open letter, Sakyong Mipham publicly apologized for engaging in, quote, "relationships with women in the Shambhala community," stating that he is committed to healing these wounds.
https://www.npr.org/2018/07/15/62928201 ... -community
Caves all the way down
Do psychedelics give access to a universal, mystical experience of reality, or is that just a culture-bound illusion?
I am a fan of the mystical theory of psychedelics. I have accepted it since I first read Huxley’s Doors of Perception as a mushroom-munching teenager. I have had mystical-type experiences on psychedelics that have been deeply important in my life (as well as some awful experiences). However, like all academics, I need to be able to hold my ideas to critical account, or otherwise stop pretending to be a researcher and leave the academy to start a religion (as Timothy Leary did in 1966 with the League for Spiritual Discovery, which used LSD as its holy sacrament). So, in the spirit of critical enquiry, I want to suggest that there are several problems with the mystical theory of psychedelics.
Firstly, there are problems with the perennial philosophy. It is not accurate to say that there is a ‘core mystical experience’ of unitive consciousness found at the esoteric heart of all religions. As Steven Katz, a professor of religion at Boston University and the editor of Comparative Mysticism: An Anthology (2013), has pointed out, many mystical traditions are dualist rather than unitive. Jewish, Muslim and Christian mystic writings tend to involve an individual’s ecstatic encounter with a spiritual entity (God, an angel, a demon, a saint or spirit), an encounter that can be terrifying. Shamanic cultures also frame mystical experiences in more local and less universal terms – not a dissolution into transcendental Mind-at-Large, but a local encounter with a local spirit.
Perennialists tend to rank religions and mystical experiences hierarchically. All religions are one, but some are more one than others. Unitive non-dual experiences are more true, while dualist experiences (ie, personal encounters with God or a spirit) are less true. Accordingly, Buddhism, Hindu mysticism and Taoism are more true, while Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Shamanism are less true. The psychedelic research at Johns Hopkins follows this theological ranking. It uses the Hood Mysticism Scale to rate people’s psychedelic experiences – unitive experiences are scored as higher and more ‘complete’ than dualist experiences. In Sacred Knowledge, Richards writes that dualist experiences are the ‘foothills surrounding the mountainous peak of mystical consciousness’. That’s not science, it’s theology. You might accept that theology, but you can’t prove it scientifically.Indigenous American cultures have framed psychedelics very differently
Secondly, there is not one universal psychedelic experience that people from all cultures reliably and predictably have. It’s more varied than that. Different substances lead to different forms of experience. On dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the main active ingredient of ayahuasca, for example, people are much more likely to meet entities or strange creatures than to have a unitive mystical experience.
But even with the same substance, different cultures frame psychedelic experiences in different ways, leading to different experiences, as Andy Letcher argues in Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom (2006). The idea that psychedelics predictably lead to a unitive experience beyond time, space and culture is itself culture-bound – it’s the product of US culture, and the perennialism of Huxley, Dass, Ralph Waldo Emerson and others. Other cultures have framed psychedelics very differently.
Indigenous American cultures have been taking psychedelic substances for millennia, and have developed their own frames for psychedelic drugs. The West rediscovered magic mushrooms in the 1950s when the amateur mycologist Robert Gordon Wasson travelled to Mexico in 1955 and took part in a mushroom ritual, guided by a Mazatec healing-woman called María Sabina. Wasson was sure he’d had a mystical experience, an encounter with the transcendental Divine, and this universal experience was at the root of all religions. He wrote up his experience in an article in Life magazine in 1957, which helped to instigate the psychedelic revolution.
But Wasson’s interpretation of his experience was quite different to the typical Mazatec interpretation. Sabina said: ‘Before Wasson, nobody took the saintchildren [what Sabina called the mushrooms] only to find God. They were always taken for the sick to get well.’ Rather than a connection to cosmic consciousness or some such mystical goal beyond time and space, Mazatecs took (and occasionally still take) mushrooms to connect to local saints or local spirits, to help with local problems in their relationships, work or health. In anthropological terms, theirs is a horizontal transcendence, rather than the vertical individualist transcendence of Wasson, Huxley et al.
I realised the extent to which different cultures interpret psychedelics differently when I took part in a 10-day ayahuasca retreat last October, at a centre called the Temple of the Way of Light, near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. The centre is owned by a British businessman but employs shamans from the Shipibo-Conibo people to conduct the ceremonies. The shamans sing during the ceremonies, but the Western tourists make sense of their experiences mainly through conversations with each other or with the Western facilitators. We arrived at a rather Western consensus that ayahuasca was helping us to ‘confront our shadow’, ‘realise our True Self’, and so on.
Western spiritual tourists can have a culturally naive idea that their experience of ayahuasca is the same as indigenous people’s experience, that everyone goes to the same Magic Kingdom where we all meet the same entity: Mama Ayahuasca. One even comes across this idea in academic work – in her book Listening to Ayahuasca (2017), the American psychologist Rachel Harris insists that whoever drinks ayahuasca ‘enters into a relationship with Grandmother Ayahuasca’.
For Westerners, Grandmother Ayahuasca (or Mama Ayahuasca, or ‘Aya’) is often perceived as a loving Earth-goddess who will guide you to healing and integration, by helping you to confront trauma or energy blockages in your past, forgive difficult loved ones, and realise your Higher Self. She is a totally benevolent life-coach, not dissimilar to the Jesus one meets in contemporary churches.
Buddhist nonprofit spent more than $500,000 on leader they knew was accused of sexual assault
The embattled teacher has stepped down, but his organization won't say if he's still getting paid.
SAKYONG MIPHAM SINGS A BOOK DURING A PROGRAM IN MUNICH, GERMANY, ON FEB. 2, 2007
Does meditation work?
It’s hailed as the panacea for everything from cancer to war. Does research into its efficacy meet scientific standards?
My aim is not to discredit science, but scientists do have a duty to produce an evidence base that aims to be bias-free and aware of its limitations. This is important because the inflated results for the power of meditation fuel magical beliefs about its benefits. Mindfulness websites market it as a ‘happy pill, with no side effects’; it is said it can bring world peace in a generation, if only children would breathe deep and live in the moment. But can we be sure that there are no unexpected outcomes that neither benefit the individual nor society? Is it possible that meditation can fuel dysfunctional environments and indeed itself create a path to mental illness?
The utilisation of meditation techniques by large corporations such as Google or Nike has created growing tensions within the wider community of individuals who practise and endorse its benefits. Those of a more traditional bent argue that meditation without the ethical teachings can lead into the wrong kind of meditation (such as the sniper who steadies the killing shot, or the compliant worker who submits to an unhealthy work environment). But what if meditation doesn’t work for you? Or worse, what if it makes you feel depressed, anxious or psychotic? The evidence for such symptoms is predictably scarce in recent literature, but reports from the 1960s and ’70s warn of the dark side of transcendental meditation. There is a danger that those few cases that receive psychiatric attention are discounted by psychologists as having had a predisposition to mental illness.
In The Buddha Pill (2015), Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm take a critical look at the symptoms of depression, anxiety, restlessness, mania and psychosis that are triggered directly by meditation. They argue that the prevalence of adverse effects has not been assessed by the scientific community, and it is easy to think that the few anecdotal cases that might surface are due to an individual’s predisposition to mental-health problems. But a simple search on Google shows that reports of depression, anxiety and mania are not uncommon in meditation forums and blogs. For example, one Buddhist blog features a number of reports on adverse mental-health effects that are framed as ‘dark nights’. One blogger writes:I’ve had one pretty intense dark night, it lasted for nine months, included misery, despair, panic attacks, inability to concentrate (to the point that it was difficult to do simple tasks), inability to socialise (because of bad feelings, but also because I had a hard time following and understanding what others were saying, due to lack of concentration), loneliness, auditory hallucinations, mild paranoia, treating my friends and family badly, long episodes of nostalgia and regret, obsessive thoughts (usually about death), etc, etc, etc.
In Buddhist circles, these so-called ‘dark nights’ are part of meditation. In an ideal situation, ‘dark nights’ are worked through with an experienced teacher under the framework of Buddhist teachings, but what about those who don’t have such a teacher or who meditate in a secular context?
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest