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Judith Simmer-Brown Talks About Community - Fails To Address Harm (the bolded/italicized text is retained from the original post)

February 24, 2019 at 8:37 pm 

Judith Simmer-Brown

In the intensity of day-to-day communications, I know that I and others go up and down, pulled one direction by one passionate email, and then another with the next that comes from a completely different point of view. What to do with all of this?

One week ago, I was presenting a paper at an academic theology conference for socially engaged Buddhists and Christian liberation theologians at Denison University. The topic assigned to me almost a year ago was about spiritual warriorship according to the Shambhala teachings, for a book on social engagement. When the allegations emerged last summer, I knew that my paper would present the Shambhala view, but also how this is manifesting in #MeToo Shambhala. It was extremely difficult, but somehow healing to take the large view on what we are going through. I wanted to share some thoughts from that experience.

I did not speak in detail about the Sakyong, the survivors, the reports—as that would be more like the tabloids–and instead focused on how we as a community are working with this painful and groundless time. It was tough, especially in a formal academic environment with colleagues I have known professionally for years. Trying to depict the whole range of responses, I spoke about how we are struggling to apply our practice and teachings to the situation. Especially I focused on 1) the genuine heart of sadness, that does not fall into extremes, but dares to feel the pain and difficulty and beauty of human life; 2) interdependence, recognizing that this entire situation arose from a variety of causes and conditions that we are all part of; 3) basic goodness, seeing that everyone involved is fundamentally good, even when conduct of abuse or cover-up occurred; and 4) creating enlightened society, recognizing that we are frauds if we do not acknowledge the harm that has happened in the community and not take radical steps to address them both personally and structurally, in order to manifest the vision we so deeply treasure.

In the many circles of conversation I have taken part in, I truly see the beauty of our community, even when we disagree about solutions and feel outraged about opposing points of view. This is such a painful and groundless time, and it’s easy to fall into extremes. But underneath everything, our caring and alive human hearts are communicating how important our connections are. Thank you, all of you, for caring so deeply about our life as a community.