Sunday, March 29, 2009

unorthodox and controversial

The Essential Sangharakshita, and excellent book, which I highly recommend, says in the biographical sketch by Vidyadevi (Karen Stout):

"During the forty years since his return to England, Sangharakshita has continued to be unorthodox and controversial figure, and many aspects of his life and thoughts have received close scrutiny; he has attracted criticism from some and deep gratitude from others who say they owe their lives to the movement he formed." (p.6)

Part of this might be because of Yashomitra's Shabda Article March 2003.
Shabda is the journal for order memebers of the WBO to report in, and discuss the spiritual life. For those who have asked for ordination, on the men's side there is Jalaka.

My conclusion about the whole business was that I don't have enough information. There's some discussion on the FWBO Discussion site. I think that if what people say is true, that there have been some abuses. It's interesting to think that maybe I've idealized Sangharakshita and being disillusioned is empowering to me.

So I was reading Nancy McWilliams, from her book Psychoanalytic Diagnosis for class, when I came across the following quote:

"The susceptibility of those in a relatively weak position to converting their envy, hostility, and fear of mistreatment into a sexual scenario, on in which they compensate for a relative lack of official power with recourse to a very personal erotic power, is one of the reasons it is socially important to have laws and conventions protecting employees on employers, students on teachers, sergeants on lieutenants, etc.). We all need to be discouraged from the temptations created by our own defenses as well as from the possibility of crass exploitation by the authorities in our lives." (p. 141)

She was writing about the defensive use of sexualization. I thought of all the relationships in the FWBO, mitras who hooked up with OMs. I have a special sensitivity to scandals and corruption, misuse of power. I am attracted in a way to the stories of Zen Centers where priests sleep with the wives, or the sexual proclivities of Chogyam Trungpa.

I also see the other side of the coin, regarding the sex life of the spiritual leader, I think they are allowed to be sexual. The WBO doesn't interpret the third precept as chastity. If you are a leader, where can you go to find a relationship? Obviously, outside the sangha is good. Supposedly in the UK where there are lots of sanghas, people date people from the next sangha over. Sometimes.

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