August was a difficult month for many in the Western Buddhist world. Two esteemed Tibetan teachers have stepped down from leading their organizations after students came forward with allegations of sexual and physical abuse, among other things.
For many, hearing about a teacher being accused of such acts will bring confusion. Isn’t this teacher awakened? Is this gossip? Will reporting him (or, very rarely, her) cause karmic or social harm to me or to my religion?
Luckily, many trustworthy and wise teachers have spoken out. The Dalai Lama, who has issued statements before about the need for Westerners to confront ant report abusive teachers, clearly stated that all teachers should have their teachings questioned and that any harmful conduct should be publicize. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Lama Rod Owens and Justin von Bujdass, and Dr. Miles Neal have also spoken out eloquently about the need for contemporary students to confront abusive teachers.