RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

JP, modified 1 Year ago.

Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 175 Join Date: 3/31/17 Recent Posts
The Dharma Treasure Board of Directors sent out the following email yesterday:
Dear Dharma Treasure Sangha,

It was recently brought to the attention of Dharma Treasure Board members that John Yates (Upasaka Culadasa) has engaged in ongoing conduct unbecoming of a Spiritual Director and Dharma teacher. He has not followed the upasaka (layperson) precepts of sexual harmlessness, right speech, and taking what is not freely given.

We thoroughly reviewed a substantial body of evidence, contemplated its significance, and sought confidential counsel from senior Western Dharma teachers, who urged transparency. We also sought legal advice and spoke with various non-profit consultants to draw on their expertise and objectivity in handling this matter. As a result of our process, the Board has voted to remove Mr. Yates from all positions with Dharma Treasure.

In a series of Board meetings as well as written correspondences with Mr. Yates, he admitted to being involved in a pattern of sexual misconduct in the form of adultery. There is no evidence that this adultery involved improper interactions with students or any form of unwanted sexual advances. Rather, adultery with multiple women, some of whom are sex workers, took place over the past four years. The outcome was extended relationships with a group of about ten women. Relationships with some continue to the present day.

He has provided significant financial support to some of these women, a portion of which was given without the prior knowledge or consent of his wife. Mr. Yates also said he engaged in false speech by responding to his wife’s questions with admissions, partial truths, and lies during these years.

After we brought this misconduct to the attention of Mr. Yates, he agreed to write a letter to the Sangha disclosing his behavior, which would give students informed consent to decide for themselves whether to continue studying with him. However, after weeks of negotiations, we were unable to come to an agreement about the content and degree of transparency of his letter.

At the end of this entire process, we are sadly forced to conclude that Mr. Yates should not be teaching Dharma at this time. Likewise, we are clear that keeping the upasaka (layperson) vows is an absolutely essential foundation for serving as the Spiritual Director of Dharma Treasure. With heavy hearts, the Board has voted to remove him from this role, from the Board, and from all other positions associated with Dharma Treasure.

We also acknowledge the benefit of Mr. Yates’ scholarship, meditation instructions, and the personal guidance he has provided for so many earnest seekers, including ourselves. People from all over the world have been deeply impacted by the Dharma he has presented, and we do not wish to minimize the good he has done. We are forever grateful for the study and practice we have all undertaken together with Mr. Yates.

We know people may feel disbelief and dismay upon learning about this pattern of behavior. However, it is our strong wish that we all use this time as an opportunity to practice patient inquiry, compassion, and discernment. Our goal in sharing this information with the Sangha is to provide each of you with enough information to make your own informed decision about whether or how to work with Mr. Yates as a teacher. We hope this transparency about Mr. Yates’ behavior can help us all move toward a place where we honor teachers for their gifts while acknowledging they are complex human beings who make mistakes.

You can imagine this has been a long, methodical, and distressing process. Moving forward, we feel it is in the best interest of the organization to form a new Board that brings fresh perspectives and energy. The current Board will resign after vetting and electing new qualified Board members to carry on the mission of Dharma Treasure.

Finally, we hope this disclosure about Mr. Yates’ conduct does not shake your confidence in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The transformative strength of refuge in the triple treasure can sustain us through this challenging time. Many other communities have walked this difficult path and emerged wiser and stronger. The ancient and modern history of Buddhism is filled with examples of the Dharma’s liberating individual and social power and compassion. Let us never forget that.

In service,

The Dharma Treasure Board of Directors
Blake Barton
Jeremy Graves
Matthew Immergut
Eve Smith
Nancy Yates

There are also discussion threads on this on the TMI subreddit and streamentry subreddit.  Culadasa left a personal response on the TMI thread:
Please do not take this letter as fact. It includes false information, and distortions and misrepresentations of fact. I, in fact, resigned from the Dharma Treasure Board due to irreconcilable differences including their refusal to engage in mediation. Rather than accept my resignation as tendered, they chose to vote me off the Board and remove me as Spiritual Director of Dharma Treasure. A fuller and more complete explanation will be forthcoming. In the mean time, I strongly recommend everyone hold off on jumping to conclusions or engaging in analysis or commentary. We are taking our time (myself and my advisors) so as to respond in the healthiest and most appropriate way with the best interest of all parties in mind. Thank you, Culadasa

I personally will be wishing the best for everyone affected, including Culadasa, his wife, and the Dharma Treasure community.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
That's truly a shame, and sad for all concerned. It does illustrate the fact that there's no escape from being human as long as we're still alive.
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Based on these statements it doesn't sound as big as it seems. He had sex with professionals, didn't abuse his students, apparently lied to his wife, broke his vows and that's why he was forced to leave?
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Dada Kind, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 634 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
People have different standards of big deal, but this seems like a big deal to me.

Also, "some of whom were sex workers". Not all. (According to this letter).

He has provided significant financial support to some of these women, a portion of which was given without the prior knowledge or consent of his wife.

https://www.patreon.com/culadasa

Well-meaning people give money to Culadasa to support his cancer recovery, his new book, etc. Not to, frankly, financially support hookers. When I looked at that patron count yesterday it was 342.
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Dada Kind:
People have different standards of big deal, but this seems like a big deal to me.

Also, "some of whom were sex workers". Not all. (According to this letter).

He has provided significant financial support to some of these women, a portion of which was given without the prior knowledge or consent of his wife.

https://www.patreon.com/culadasa

Well-meaning people give money to Culadasa to support his cancer recovery, his new book, etc. Not to, frankly, financially support hookers. When I looked at that patron count yesterday it was 342.

Sure. Based on the letter some of them were sex workers, some sex partners, to whom he gave money to. I actually think that this is a notable upgrade to all teachers who seduced and abused their students. When reading of Sogyal Rinpoche's case, for example, I thought that why he didn't just go to sex professionals, rather than force his students. He had the money, like Culadasa. The obvious difference to Culadasa is his long academic career which I believe made him wealthy.

He is a human being and these women, whether pros or partners are also human beings with all kinds of issues and problems. If and when he had the opportunity and means to help them with money, with whatever needs they might have had for it, why shouldn't he have helped?

It's not a black and white world we are living in. Often in scandals it looks like monastic and christian views of seeing sex and sexuality as something bad, affect people's mind in understand these things. As far as I understand Japanese and Tibetan cultures, for example, that meditation teacher has extra-marital relationships would be a non-issue. It's a completely different situation in christian culture because people have subconsciously bought into christian beliefs.

Maybe new information about this comes out which makes it clearer why he chose to leave or was kicked out but as it seems now, it looks like the board and the sangha made a big mistake.
neko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Kim Katami:
Based on these statements it doesn't sound as big as it seems. He had sex with professionals, didn't abuse his students, apparently lied to his wife, broke his vows and that's why he was forced to leave?

This is a good question, so I think it is worth unpacking it a bit.

Having been in the TMI-TT (TMI Teacher Training), and having quit it* a few weeks before rumors started to transpire that something bad was going on behind the scenes, this is my take, in case anyone is interested.

In the teacher training classes, and I hear on Patreon too, Culadasa was focussing a lot of his teaching on ethics and behaviour, mostly in the form of the five hindrances and ten fetters, to the point where I would actually say that he spent much more time talking about actions, emotions, philosophy, and psychology than about actual meditation practice, which is by the way one of the many reasons I have quit the TMI-TT*. Because of Culadasa's emphasis on ethics and behaviour, he has a self-selected audience of students and teachers-in-training who place a huge importance on those things, while simultaneously practioners who are interested in the deep end of contemplative practice get bored, disappointed, or turned away eventually.

Now put all of this together. His alleged behaviour explicitly contradicts his upasaka vows, his teachings, and his claims to attainment, which is what makes this a big deal in context. If he hadn't taken upasaka vows, hadn't been letting it on that he was a ten-fetter arahant, hadn't been teaching that you cannot get into jhana unless you banish the hindrances first; If he had been talking more about practice and less about his psychology-based models of enlightenment... if his teaching were different, his behaviour would be taken differently.

It's as if it turned out that you (Kim) are not actually capable of reading bhumis by looking at pictures of practioners vs. if it turned out that Shinzen Young can't. Shinzen has talked about occasionally being able to recognise something about the depth of people's practice by looking at their faces and body language (you know the youtube videos), but he does not place any emphasis on it, so no-one would be surprised or outraged if it turned out that Shinzen's skill at that is unreliable. But in your teaching, that aspect plays a huge role, so people would be holding you liable for that.

-----------


* My reasons for quitting are largely off-topic now and a story for another time, but for the record, I think that there are serious flaws in Culadasa's teaching, his standards for awakening (which range from highly diluted on one end to completely unrealistic on the opposite end), his standards for authorising people to teach (which are sometimes dangerously low, although he does have a few good students), in the depth of his own personal practice, and in the many subtle and not-so-subtle ways he discourages open discussion about practice and dismisses practices other than his own.
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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 142 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
My reasons for quitting are largely off-topic now and a story for another time, but for the record, I think that there are serious flaws in Culadasa's teaching, his standards for awakening (which range from highly diluted on one end to completely unrealistic on the opposite end), his standards for authorising people to teach (which are sometimes dangerously low, although he does have a few good students), in the depth of his own personal practice, and in the many subtle and not-so-subtle ways he discourages open discussion about practice and dismisses practices other than his own.

This is interesting. Maybe actually this is the opportunity to share the details? If you weren't planning on starting a new thread, of course.
neko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Griffin:
This is interesting. Maybe actually this is the opportunity to share the details? If you weren't planning on starting a new thread, of course.

I understand the interest, but I will not say more about that, as:

1) I don't want to kick a man when he's down.

2) I don't want the current drama on ethics and behaviour to get mixed up with the much more important discussion of the deep end of contemplative practice.

3) I am not sure it would be a skilful use of my time to start a discussion that would potentially see me facing an organisation of hundreds of people.

4) My negative opinions should goad me to direct my energy into creating something good rather than on destroying something that I consider not so good. Not that it'll be easy, as I have the unhealthy inclination to be more critical than productive.

So definitely no more details on that now, and possibly not ever. My only goals in writing that were to distance myself publicly from the TT and Culadasa, as I feel having taken part in it does not reflect positively on me, and to clarify that the reasons are unrelated to whomever Culadasa has beeh having sex with, his relationship with his wife, and how he uses money.
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Ben V., modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 351 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
Read that letter yesterday and still digesting it. Somewhat shaken. Even though the Pragmatic Dharma movement has made it a point that the belief that awakening does not necessarily mean good sila (and are different lines of development), I am still somewhat puzzled here. If awakening allows one to see through the empty (3cs) nature of phenomena, then it should be easier (perhaps even automatic) not to buy into lust or other mind phenomena. To have arisen lust, grasp it, then make it into a plan of execution to nourish it, then develop long-term unfaithful relations with many partners, sounds like a lot of identification and solidifying of lust to me. There has to be strong 'selfing' in this.

It's one thing to say morality does not become perfect with awakening, but to do continuous misbehaviors involving obvious strong and continuous grasping, it's hard for me to reconcile that with awakening (or full awakening). To misbehave, it seems to me that there must be first a state of greed, aggression or delusion that arises, and then grasping of it, for misbehavior to occur. Where is the "liberation" (Mokha/Moksha) in this??

The idea of serious misbehaviors and high awakening being compatible is becoming more and more suspicious to me. 

Well, this rant of mine is from a still not fully awakened dude (me). I'm open for responses.

I guess in the end we should stay focused on one's own practice and how it helps us, and use teachers for what good they can give us, but not cling to any ideas of how attained they are. "Pragmatic studentship" should be about taking the good aples from a tree and not bother (and be bothered) by the bad apples in the same tree. TMI is still on my llist of books I look forward to read...
Edward, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 90 Join Date: 6/10/19 Recent Posts
Completely agree Ben. I don't think we're doing anyone any favours by glibly shrugging our shoulders when men setting themselves up as spiritual exemplars show an inability to understand very basic moral principles. 
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
JMHO --
I don't think we're doing anyone any favours by simply shrugging our shoulders when men setting themselves up as spiritual exemplars show an inability to understand very basic moral principles. 

If there's nothing else you get out of this latest example of a dharma teacher taking advantage of their position to do some form of harm to other humans, this is it: stop putting these people on a pedestal. They have demonstrated that they are as human as everyone else, and just as prone to lapses in judgment, to err, to cause harm to others.
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Richard Zen, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 1627 Join Date: 5/18/10 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
JMHO --
I don't think we're doing anyone any favours by simply shrugging our shoulders when men setting themselves up as spiritual exemplars show an inability to understand very basic moral principles. 

If there's nothing else you get out of this latest example of a dharma teacher taking advantage of their position to do some form of harm to other humans, this is it: stop putting these people on a pedestal. They have demonstrated that they are as human as everyone else, and just as prone to lapses in judgment, to err, to cause harm to others.
I just saw this now! LOL! Oh well. It's actually a relief. Looking down from above or looking up from below creates its own distortions in the mind. I definitely looked up to him, but that's just my own projection. To want what we don't have is very powerful. If there's not enough disenchantment in the practice then the desire has a way through.

I think a lot of people should be happy they have a good wife and have sex. If one wants to renounce sex then a disgust practice has to be in place or it's not likely to work. Sex is one of the most powerful desires, which is why we are all born. emoticon

EDIT: Even more important: Keep practicing as if you are never Enlightened. There's always room for improvement. The feeling of "done-ness" must be an illusion.
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Ben V., modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 351 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
One thing in all this that doesn't seem to be addrssed, at least directly, is the pain that the wife must be in right now, if the allegations are true.

This is not just about the topic of Dharma teachers misbehaving, or about students being disappointed that their teachers displayed misbehaviors.

It is not first and foremost about a discussion of how awakening and ethics are or are not related.

Nor is it about ethical reflections around polyamory (I don't see any polyamory in the allegations anyway).

I imagine, if the allegations are true, that the most pain inflicted in this situation is to the wife, who must be devastated. 

If the allegations are true, she needs our compassion and empathy, at least in thoughts. May she and all others involved get whatever healing they need.
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Jordi, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 84 Join Date: 9/17/17 Recent Posts
Not too good, not too bad, just a human being.

This last time, for diferent sutations in my life I trying to understand what is desire and why is an strong impulse that drives to act in certain ways. 

When I was traveling 2 years ago in south-asia I was in Thailand and someone recomend me a temple in Udon Thani. People said that the monk master was full awakened and has powers and everything, the full pack. So I went there with the idea to learn Jhanas, so we have like two meetings a week, every time I ask about how to enter into the Jhanas He start speaking about Sila and the four immeasurables, how important is compassion and love, give oneself to others etc. I got pissed off becouse he always talk about that and he didnt tell me to much about jhana. He always repeat the same thing in all the talks we have: "Sila is my shield".

This last time this "Sila is my shield" start to make more sense to me, and I see how important is. A shield to protect ourself but also to protect others. At the end I think is about being honest and clear with onself and do our best with our defects of character without trying to hurt other people.

Ironically the most "good persons" I know; people who has genuinely a good heart, that gives with expect nothing in return, that have always time for you, that  radiates compasion and love; they never done any kind of meditation practice and dont know nothing about that topic. This made me think a lot about that. I meditated quite a lot and I still see myself selfish and self-centred ( here Im talkin about me hehe) driven by plesure and my own personal benefits.

So yeah...why he did all this stuff? Who knows, maybe subconsciously he wanted to sabotage himself and kill the character he created or other people push him to be. Or maybe he just want to have sex and enjoy life emoticon. Being the "archetype of Buddha" is not easy. Culadassa goes back to stage 1 haha! No-no just joking...

Anyways what he has given with his book, talks, inspiration and everything is in some way is immeasurable too emoticon
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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I’m sad to hear this, for all parties involved. I don’t personally see any ethical problem in having many partners per se as I’m polyamorous myself, but lying about it and betraying confidences is not okay and probably doesn’t make anyone happy (including Culadasa himself). Paying for sex, as I see it, often (albeit perhaps not always) involves exploiting of somebody's bad situation. For me that would be the worst part, but of course I don’t know the circumstances here. Transparency was a wise choice. As for the rest, that’s not for me to judge. I can understand, though, why people might be unwilling to financially support someone who alledgedly spends his money according to what was described here. I’m not going to blame anyone for seeking lust, regardless of how much, but I have principles for how to do that in order not to harm others. At the same time, there are a lot of judgements around people whose hearts do not adhere to the monoamorous norm. Therefore I can understand the need to keep relationships secret, if that is what this is about (love). That doesn’t make it okay to go behind people’s backs, but it makes it human.
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 904 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
This looks like an enormous mess. The letter seems very strange to me.

There is no mention of an independent investigation, or of controls put in place to handle conflicts of interests within the board. There are implied judgements and criticisms about polyamory or prostitution, which has nothing to do with the dharma or five precepts as far as I can see (provided all parties are consenting adults under their own care). The letter notes that other parties knew of at least some of the financial support, and received at least some admissions, and this really raises more questions than it answers. There appears prima facie to be a breach of privacy principles in the content of the letter.

Given all this, it is very difficult to see this letter as right speech.

Aside from Chris' excellent point about not putting human teachers on a pedestal, I would just observe that sangha's and boards are not necessarily any better. The anarchic decentralisation of the DhO has its points ... 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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As for conflicts of interest, I just noticed that one of the directors who wrote the letter shares the same family name as Culadasa. Is that a coincidence, or is it his wife?
YCR, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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It's his wife.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Oh. Ehm... That’s problematic.
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
YCR:
It's his wife.
What if Culadasa sought sexual relationships because they didn't have sex with his wife? That story we've all heard before.

neko:

...Culadasa was focussing a lot of his teaching on ethics and behaviour, mostly in the form of the five
hindrances and ten fetters, to the point where I would actually say that he spent much more time talking about actions, emotions, philosophy, and psychology than about actual meditation practice...

Now put all of this together. His alleged behaviour explicitly contradicts his upasaka vows, his teachings, and his claims to attainment, which is what makes this a big deal in context. If he hadn't taken upasaka vows, hadn't been letting it on that he was a ten-fetter arahant, hadn't been teaching that you cannot get into jhana unless you banish the hindrances first; If he had been talking more about practice and less about his psychology-based models of enlightenment... if his teaching were different, his behaviour would be taken differently.

A lot of really experienced meditators end up emphasizing ethics. How long did you study with him? Did you just see a small slice of his teaching career where he put too much emphasis on ethics, while not discussing meditation practice as much as other times?

Did he make the claim of being fully liberated? Is that what you're saying?

Despite of vows and many talks on ethics, if one is not fully liberated, one's going to have sexual drive and desire.
neko:
...As far as I understand, Culadasa was in a monogamous marriage, and the allegation is that he was lying to his
wife and spending shared finances on sex workers without his wife's consent.
Sexual drive is at the center of all of this. What kind of practices did he teach or practice to purify it? 
neko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Kim Katami:

How long did you study with him?

The expression "study with him" does not seem to capture the dynamics, as I do not feel that I have learnt much from him besides what was already in TMI... a good part of which I have gradually come to realise I disagree with. Anyway:

* I have spent about two weeks on retreat with him, but as co-adventurers and not in a student-teacher relationship.

* About a year and a half of TMI teacher training, meeting twice monthly for two hours each time. Makes about 80 hours, I guess.

I would prefer not to go into more detail because of the reasons I listed above, sorry.
neko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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curious:

There are implied judgements and criticisms about polyamory or prostitution


I couldn't disagree more. As far as I understand, Culadasa was in a monogamous marriage, and the allegation is that he was lying to his wife and spending shared finances on sex workers without his wife's consent. If true, those are behaviours that are considered unacceptable in the polyamorous community and the sex workers communities too. Actually, I would say that those communities are even more sensitive to these topics, because of the strong culture of awareness of the risks of STDs and the emphasis on obtaining the consent of all the parties involved.
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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neko:
curious:

There are implied judgements and criticisms about polyamory or prostitution


I couldn't disagree more. As far as I understand, Culadasa was in a monogamous marriage, and the allegation is that he was lying to his wife and spending shared finances on sex workers without his wife's consent. If true, those are behaviours that are considered unacceptable in the polyamorous community and the sex workers communities too. Actually, I would say that those communities are even more sensitive to these topics, because of the strong culture of awareness of the risks of STDs and the emphasis on obtaining the consent of all the parties involved.

Sure, he might be a scumbag. Or might not. Hard to tell from the letter. But the rather pious dharmic condemnation in the letter doesn't sit well with me. There are worse things in the Suttas. Like a monk abandoning a wife and child, and sitting in meditation ignoring the wife putting the child in front of him while she wails in despair and demands support for their livelihood. The response from the sanga - "What a true brahman he is to avoid distraction from his meditation, and how badly the wife is behaving."  To me that is grossly immoral - but it is nonetheless consistent with the dharma.

So condemn him by all means, if the evidence is there. But let's not cloak it in the dharma. And let's have our eyes open to the rather strange processes recorded in this letter. Anyway, just my view, I don't expect anyone to agree. And of course I am at a distance, whereas I acknowledge you have more direct experience.

With deep respect to you Neko (and I do mean that)

Malcolm
neko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
curious:
But the rather pious dharmic condemnation in the letter doesn't sit well with me.

Fair enough. But do notice that the letter was written by Culadasa's students, and that kind of piety was inculcated into them, or at least systematically reinforced, by Culadasa himself.


curious:
There are worse things in the Suttas.

Oh, absolutely. There's loads of bollocks in the suttas. That's not a very strong defence, though, is it?



curious:
But let's not cloak it in the dharma.

I am not a Buddhist, nor am I a particularly big fan of the word dharma, so I don't have much a dog in that fight.

There are more basic and universal laws than the dharma, one is if you talk the talk the talk, you've gotta walk the walk. This is a principle of dignity, virtue, and personal responsibility that applies to all domains of life and human interaction. Since Culadasa makes it all about 5 hindrances, 10 upasaka vows, and 10 fetters, he has to stand up to his own standards.

(Besides, again, I believe that there are more serious flaws in Culadasa, TMI, and his TT.)



curious:
With deep respect to you Neko (and I do mean that)

Appreciated and reciprocated. emoticon
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 3180 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
I have no idea to what degree all the allegations against Culadasa are true, but I do know some of the people on the board and have much respect for them. It would be extremely surprising to me if they were making this up, and, in fact, not surprising if in some ways what they put out wasn't at least slightly euphemistic.

Nancy, his wife, was a particularly strong example of kindness, nurturing, and support to Culadasa and everyone else she came in contact with during the month I stayed at Dharma Treasure last September. Her capacity to defend and rationalize his relatively toxic behavior to me then was also a strong demonstration of her love and commitment to him and her obvious wish for people to get along and feel ok.

Regarding STDs, I spent a year online at the National AIDS Hotline, so can't help but have those memories of some calls I took return when I read about all of this.

I have been wishing everyone involved well in this obvious challenging situation. As you all likely know, I have written extensively about the fact that mammals are mammals, but that is not the same as excusing behavior that harms, and I think it is clear that, however you slice it, harm has been done. That said, perhaps people will learn from this, grow into their own practices, and be lights unto themselves.

I am inspired to quote from this reddit thread, with typos corrected, which quoted one of my most inspiring teachers, Bill Hamilton, from his book Saints & Psychopaths, and echoing Neko's ethic valuing those who try to walk their talk:

PSYCHOPATHS SAY MEAN DO disparity:

Breaks own rules
Many bad debts
Writes bad checks
Break promises
No true regard for truth
Tell close associates to lie
Push philosophy aggressively
Attractive and drawing
Comes on with unsolicited advice
Good reputation fades in time
Projects & organization degenerate
In the long run things turn out badly
People are damaged by long term association
Are unconcerned for effect of actions on self and others
Apologize as last resort
Ignore their own mistakes and apologizes only if cornered
If trapped will do or say anything to escape
Typically have variable exotic health problems
Typically have many accidents and injuries
Felt unloved when a child
Can sit still only when center of attention
Enslave people around them
Substance abuse common
Compulsion to become the center of attention
Adopt many aliases

Do your own math, reach your own conclusions, make your own decisions, choose as wisely as you can, realizing that every choice has some downside to it, though some clearly may be better than others. Think about what sort of world you want to live in and what you wish to promote. Finding some way to balance forgiveness and paths to redemtion with real, just consequences for harm is clearly an ongoing debate that we must all engage with carefully.

Things I liked about Bill:

Kept his dharma extremely clean and uncorrupted from a financial point of view, asking nothing for his teachings.
Didn't seek to tell people his way was the best, just a good one.
Referenced and respected lots of other works and teachers that were not his own.
He didn't seek widespread fame or admiration, and so died relatively unknown, which, while clearly a loss for people who didn't know him, clearly demonstrated a certain humility that I had great respect for despite my own obvious lack of ability to emulate it.
He was reluctant to talk about his own practice, which I sometimes found irritating, but at least he didn't say he was one thing and blatantly turn out to be another.
Would talk about the dark side of the path and the downsides of meditation and the Dark Night.
Would talk a lot and honestly about shadow sides of meditation practice, traditions, and communities.
Admitted his own mistakes and used them as a way to teach others so they could hopefully avoid similar problems.
Had powerful depths of meditation and could speak from that place with a great deal of nuance, richness, and sophistication.
In short, he seemed to all appearances to walk his talk, to be what he said he was, to meet his own high ideals.


Best wishes to all impacted by this.
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
...
Nancy, his wife, was a particularly strong example of kindness, nurturing, and support to Culadasa and everyone else she came in contact with during the month I stayed at Dharma Treasure last September. Her capacity to defend and rationalize his relatively toxic behavior to me then was also a strong demonstration of her love and commitment to him and her obvious wish for people to get along and feel ok.
...

I am inspired to quote from this reddit thread, with typos corrected, which quoted one of my most inspiring teachers, Bill Hamilton, from his book Saints & Psychopaths, and echoing Neko's ethic valuing those who try to walk their talk:

PSYCHOPATHS SAY MEAN DO disparity:

Breaks own rules
Many bad debts
Writes bad checks
Break promises
No true regard for truth
Tell close associates to lie
Push philosophy aggressively
Attractive and drawing
Comes on with unsolicited advice
Good reputation fades in time
Projects & organization degenerate
In the long run things turn out badly
People are damaged by long term association
Are unconcerned for effect of actions on self and others
Apologize as last resort
Ignore their own mistakes and apologizes only if cornered
If trapped will do or say anything to escape
Typically have variable exotic health problems
Typically have many accidents and injuries
Felt unloved when a child
Can sit still only when center of attention
Enslave people around them
Substance abuse common
Compulsion to become the center of attention
Adopt many aliases

Do your own math, reach your own conclusions, make your own decisions, choose as wisely as you can, realizing that every choice has some downside to it, though some clearly may be better than others. Think about what sort of world you want to live in and what you wish to promote. Finding some way to balance forgiveness and paths to redemtion with real, just consequences for harm is clearly an ongoing debate that we must all engage with carefully.

Hello Daniel.

Are you saying Nancy Yates discussed Culadasa's sexual conduct with you last year?

Are you implying that Culadasa is psychopathic? That you bring out a list like that in this thread does make it seem so.
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JohnM, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 83 Join Date: 1/7/18 Recent Posts
Thank you Daniel for these pithy reminders. Very helpful to me at this time.
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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 142 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Dear Daniel,

You mentioned Culadasa's "toxic behavour". Based on your november online discussions, I got this impression: Culadasa percieved your playfull wish for exchange of different opinions as some sort of aggression. It seems that he is over-sensitive to criticism and keeps his feelings bottled up until he "explodes" at some point.

However, this didn't leave the impression to be so severe as a personality disorder.

During the time you were on retreats together, did you notice any other "red flags" about his behaviour, that you feel comfortable sharing? By contrast, first time you met Culadasa, your experience was positive ("Again, a remarkable work by a remarkable guy. I was lucky enough to meet him at the recent Dharma Teacher's convention in New York this June, and the maturity, depths and stability of his practice was clear.").
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I’m thinking that maybe it was more of a callout to be mindful of any tendencies in that direction in all our communities rather than labelling someone with a diagnosis, but I don’t know. I’m thinking that most people have at least some minor tendencies and that some circumstances might reinforce them. Putting somebody on a piedestal as a collective and expecting them to live up to that standard might contribute. I’m not talking about expectations of being honest to one’s family now; those are very reasonable expectations. I’m thinking more in line with never even thinking about the kind of stuff that he would have needed to communicate in the first place. But I know too little to say much about this particular case. I was thinking more about general tendencies to put people on piedestals and the consequences of that - both in terms of what it creates and in terms of what warning signs it makes us miss.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 3180 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Griffin:
Dear Daniel,

...

During the time you were on retreats together, did you notice any other "red flags" about his behaviour, that you feel comfortable sharing? By contrast, first time you met Culadasa, your experience was positive ("Again, a remarkable work by a remarkable guy. I was lucky enough to meet him at the recent Dharma Teacher's convention in New York this June, and the maturity, depths and stability of his practice was clear.").

Yeah, there's that. There is clearly a learning curve in this life regarding these issues, as nearly everyone here is noticing, and that applies to me as well, clearly. Might check out this thread, in which I belatedly realized that, as an INFP, I am probably at some significant starting deficit in sorting out such people, given my natural initial tendency to give people some benefit of the doubt. There have been other examples of my blindness in this regard that have had substantial negative impacts on my life and work also, as some here will recall from the some previous dramatic sagas.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
I’m an INFP too. Cool.
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Laurel Carrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 441 Join Date: 4/7/14 Recent Posts
I’m an ENFJ on the Myers Briggs scale, and when I met Culadasa, I felt an overwhelming sense of love that at the same time was both personal and impersonal. I was with him for a week in a retreat-like setting where Daniel was also present, and did not interact with him personally until he was about to leave. He took my hand and we exchanged a few words, and his eyes and his smile were utterly kind and accepting. 

So I have to ask: who is the “real” Culadasa/John Yates? I’ve made clear on this thread that I see his behavior as destructive, but is this all there is to the man? Daniel just used the term “such people,” and I gather that he has Culadasa chalked up as a fraud at the very least, if not a psychopath. I’m not willing to go there. 
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spatial, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 609 Join Date: 5/20/18 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Yeah, there's that. There is clearly a learning curve in this life regarding these issues, as nearly everyone here is noticing, and that applies to me as well, clearly. Might check out [url=]this thread, in which I belatedly realized that, as an INFP, I am probably at some significant starting deficit in sorting out such people, given my natural initial tendency to give people some benefit of the doubt. There have been other examples of my blindness in this regard that have had substantial negative impacts on my life and work also, as some here will recall from the some previous dramatic sagas.
I think you accidentally linked to the current thread...

I'm also surprised to see you label yourself as an INFP, since your public-facing persona is so clearly a textbook ENTP.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
I'm also surprised to see you label yourself as an INFP, since your public-facing persona is so clearly a textbook ENTP.

Personal observation: Daniel's writing voice is very different from his in-person persona  emoticon
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curious, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 904 Join Date: 7/13/17 Recent Posts
neko:

There are more basic and universal laws than the dharma, one is if you talk the talk the talk, you've gotta walk the walk. This is a principle of dignity, virtue, and personal responsibility that applies to all domains of life and human interaction. Since Culadasa makes it all about 5 hindrances, 10 upasaka vows, and 10 fetters, he has to stand up to his own standards.


Neko, you are right. If that is how he is presenting himself, that is how he should live.

An interesting contrast would be Drukpa Kunley's Flaming Thunderbolt of Wisdom - he talked the talk and walked the walk. Of course it was a rather different regularly intoxicated and extremely polyamorous talk, but he was at least consistent ...  I am surprised he doesn't get more discussion in western buddhism.  emoticon

Poem about happiness

I am happy that I am a free Yogi.
So I grow more and more into my inner happiness.
I can have sex with many women,
because I help them to go the path of enlightenment.
Outwardly I'm a fool
and inwardly I live with a clear spiritual system.
Outwardly, I enjoy wine, women and song.
And inwardly I work for the benefit of all beings.
Outwardly, I live for my pleasure
and inwardly I do everything in the right moment.
Outwardly I am a ragged beggar
and inwardly a blissful Buddha.

Drukpa Kunley
neko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
curious:

An interesting contrast would be Drukpa Kunley's Flaming Thunderbolt of Wisdom - he talked the talk and walked the walk. Of course it was a rather different regularly intoxicated and extremely polyamorous talk, but he was at least consistent ...  I am surprised he doesn't get more discussion in western buddhism.  emoticon

Poem about happiness

I am happy that I am a free Yogi.
So I grow more and more into my inner happiness.
I can have sex with many women,
because I help them to go the path of enlightenment.
Outwardly I'm a fool
and inwardly I live with a clear spiritual system.
Outwardly, I enjoy wine, women and song.
And inwardly I work for the benefit of all beings.
Outwardly, I live for my pleasure
and inwardly I do everything in the right moment.
Outwardly I am a ragged beggar
and inwardly a blissful Buddha.

Drukpa Kunley

Oh, absolutely: If someone publicly presented himself thusly, it'd be totes kosher AFAIC. Let consenting adults do consenting adult stuff.
Jinxed P, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 346 Join Date: 8/29/11 Recent Posts
neko:
curious:

An interesting contrast would be Drukpa Kunley's Flaming Thunderbolt of Wisdom - he talked the talk and walked the walk. Of course it was a rather different regularly intoxicated and extremely polyamorous talk, but he was at least consistent ...  I am surprised he doesn't get more discussion in western buddhism.  emoticon

Poem about happiness

I am happy that I am a free Yogi.
So I grow more and more into my inner happiness.
I can have sex with many women,
because I help them to go the path of enlightenment.
Outwardly I'm a fool
and inwardly I live with a clear spiritual system.
Outwardly, I enjoy wine, women and song.
And inwardly I work for the benefit of all beings.
Outwardly, I live for my pleasure
and inwardly I do everything in the right moment.
Outwardly I am a ragged beggar
and inwardly a blissful Buddha.

Drukpa Kunley

Oh, absolutely: If someone publicly presented himself thusly, it'd be totes kosher AFAIC. Let consenting adults do consenting adult stuff.

It's an interesting phenomenon where the people who we thought of as pristine, go down hard for things like adultery (think Tiger Woods, Hugh Grant). But JFK, rock stars,  get away with it without much of a second thought. It's almost part of their charm. Same with spiritual teachers.

Osho demanded blowjobs at forty-five minute intervals from his acolytes, but he owned it and boasted to have had more sex than any man in history.

We care more about the supposed inconsistency than we due about the action itself. 
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
There is no mention of an independent investigation, or of controls put in place to handle conflicts of interests within the board. There are implied judgements and criticisms about polyamory or prostitution, which has nothing to do with the dharma or five precepts as far as I can see (provided all parties are consenting adults under their own care). The letter notes that other parties knew of at least some of the financial support, and received at least some admissions, and this really raises more questions than it answers. There appears prima facie to be a breach of privacy principles in the content of the letter.

Jumping in to agree with curious, and as someone who often deals with small organizations under duress for various reasons, this is not uncommon. It's true, however, that having innate conflicts of interest makes the duress far worse, and introduces more and deeper emotional conflict and potential liability. The letter does contain actionable information. Legally actionable, that is. I hope they all have professional liability and directors and officers insurance.
Paul, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 71 Join Date: 1/24/19 Recent Posts
Wow, disturbing!

I noticed no one has addressed the matter of Yates’ apparent response on Reddit saying it’s mostly false and he’ll respond in time. Presumably he intends to deny the allegations or some part of them. This means either (a) he’s doubling down and trying to recoup some dignity by lying, or (b) there’s something fishy about the whole thing and he wants to clear his name.

The message asked that people don’t jump to conclusions, yet the rest of the thread here does precisely that. I’m in no way defending anyone, and like everyone else, this reads to me as pretty damning information. Still, is it not wise to wait and see what Yates has to bring to the table? Is it not possible that this is all a dispute between a warring couple who are at each other’s throats, and the board and community have been dragged into it? 

It strikes me as interesting that, at his advanced age, and battling cancer, it appears he’s decided to go for one last lap of youthful fun before it’s over. If he was someone prone to sexual misconduct, does it not say something interesting that no such allegations have emerged from his decades of work/service as a spiritual mentor who must’ve had countless opportunities for indiscretions while he was younger, healthier, and more capable? It looks odd to me, little that I know anyway. I’d be interested to know more before settling on a view on the matter.

Ok. Sad and unhappy news. All the best for everyone involved.
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Ryan, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 76 Join Date: 2/21/19 Recent Posts
As I’ve said elsewhere, it would be wise to withhold judgments and speculation until we hear from Culadasa on the matter, so long as his in depth response comes reasonably soon. I don’t know any of the people involved, so I can only speak to this as an outside observer, and while this isn’t a courtroom, it is nonetheless unfair to judge someone before they’ve at least had a chance to fully address allegations against them. Given that it sounds like there are privacy/confidentiality agreements in place at Dharma Treasure (DT), a prudent person would consult with an Arizona attorney prior to making a big public statement on the issue, so it may take a little bit of time. Moreover, the letter mentions financial support of these women. If there turns out to have been improper comingling of funds, criminal liability is not impossible. At the federal level, I’m thinking tax charges, assuming DT is a 501(C)(3), and maybe wire fraud + conspiracy to commit (of course, everything is wire fraud to DOJ, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). I don’t know much about Arizona criminal law, but wouldn’t be surprised if there were similar potential criminal liability there. All that is of course the type of speculation we shouldn’t put any stock into until/unless more facts come out, but maybe will serve as a few reasons why it’s best to wait a while before drawing any final conclusions.

But from broader perspective, this has obviously shocked a lot of people and maybe that’s not entirely a bad thing. Dharma teachers preaching psychological perfection models are doing a disservice to the extent they are setting students up for disillusionment and abandonment of spiritual practice when what they learn doesn't deliver as promised. For my part, I’m once more grateful for Daniel’s MCTB which so clearly emphasizes how morality is a totally separate training from insight/wisdom. I think we have enough anecdotal evidence to say with a high degree of confidence that while insight may help one to see and drop some of their unskillful behaviors, you shouldn’t bank on it, and you’ll still have to put the work into the first training regardless.
S., modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 21 Join Date: 6/26/14 Recent Posts
Dharma teachers preaching psychological perfection models are doing a disservice to the extent they are setting students up for disillusionment and abandonment of spiritual practice when what they learn doesn't deliver as promised.

Here here.
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts

Dharma teachers preaching psychological perfection models are doing a disservice to the extent they are setting students up for disillusionment and abandonment of spiritual practice when what they learn doesn't deliver as promised.
This is mostly theravada forum and the goal of that is different than that of mahayana and vajrayana. Nevertheless, this statement is in direct contradiction with the idea of buddhahood as an attainment which by definition is marked by psychological perfection. Pick any teacher or text from mahayana and they all are teaching this. That it wouldn't be possible is an idea entertained by secular buddhists and such.

Mistaken analysis of one's or other's attainment is a different question.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 3877 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
... psychological perfection.

This is like using the term "objective reality." 

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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Chris Marti:
... psychological perfection.
This is like using the term "objective reality." 


Presumably everyone here knows what the term buddhahood alludes to.
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Ryan, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 76 Join Date: 2/21/19 Recent Posts
Kim Katami:
Chris Marti:
... psychological perfection.
This is like using the term "objective reality." 


Presumably everyone here knows what the term buddhahood alludes to.
Maybe yes, maybe no. I've never met one myself and, given the zen admonition to kill on sight, I sort of hope I never do.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 597 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Kim Katami:

Presumably everyone here knows what the term buddhahood alludes to.

Everyone knows what it alludes to, though I expect most have different ideas of where buddhood begins. IMHO, expecting anyone who appears to inhabit a human body to behave impeccably (according to YOUR standards) is simply folly, regardless of your aspersions about their attainment. Some of the greatest teachers have seemingly had very human failings. What is more important, from my perpective, is what these apparent failings show us about our OWN characters, not about theirs. We are always surrounded by dharma. emoticon


-


General Question: Was the dharma from Culadasa good enough for you BEFORE these allegations?
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Stirling Campbell:
Kim Katami:

Presumably everyone here knows what the term buddhahood alludes to.

Everyone knows what it alludes to, though I expect most have (1) different ideas of where buddhood begins. IMHO, expecting anyone who appears to inhabit a human body to (2) behave impeccably (according to YOUR standards) is simply folly, regardless of your aspersions about their attainment. (3) Some of the greatest teachers have seemingly had very human failings. What is more important, from my perpective, is what these apparent failings show us about our OWN characters, not about theirs. We are always surrounded by dharma. emoticon

-

General Question: (4) Was the dharma from Culadasa good enough for you BEFORE these allegations?
Hi,

1. What do you mean with "different ideas of where buddhahood begins"? I'm not a scholar but out from the top of my head I can't think of any differing views about this within mahayana schools.
2. No, I don't think it is foolish to expect perfect behaviour from buddhas, incl. those who inhabit physical body. However, it's a completely different question who are buddhas and who are samsaric beings. Even a drop of poison spoils a tank of clear water.
3. Do you mean "greatest teachers" who were attained buddhas or just people who were great teachers? Who do you mean specifically?
4. I have his book which I've read a bit and watched a bunch of his lectures online. I always liked him and his style of teaching. I even applied for his teacher training, though was rejected.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 597 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Kim Katami:

1. What do you mean with "different ideas of where buddhahood begins"? I'm not a scholar but out from the top of my head I can't think of any differing views about this within mahayana schools.
2. No, I don't think it is foolish to expect perfect behaviour from buddhas, incl. those who inhabit physical body. However, it's a completely different question who are buddhas and who are samsaric beings. Even a drop of poison spoils a tank of clear water.
3. Do you mean "greatest teachers" who were attained buddhas or just people who were great teachers? Who do you mean specifically?
4. I have his book which I've read a bit and watched a bunch of his lectures online. I always liked him and his style of teaching. I even applied for his teacher training, though was rejected.

Kim,

1. I mean in general, or amongst those on this board - not specifically in the Mahayana view. I personally agree with Dogen, and actually think this applies nicely to the entire question of Culadasa's behavior:

As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, birth and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings. 

As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. - Dogen, Genjo-koan


2. Arhats are considered Buddhas in some traditions. An arhat would abide in no-self (IMHO) but still act as a human, flaws and all. I am not saying that this is Culadasa. As for a true "Mahayana" Buddha... I have not met one to the best of my knowledge, so cannot comment.

3. I think you could say it was either. Even the Buddha lost his temper, if we are to believe some accounts. I consider both Sogyal Rinpoche (who I have seen teach) and Chogyam Trungpa to be some of the greatest teachers (as an example) and yet many would agree that both had their flaws from a human behavioral perspective.  

4. I meant to ask this question to the entire board, so don't feel singled out. Thank you for your answer. emoticon
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 698 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
Stirling Campbell:

Kim,

3. I think you could say it was either. Even the Buddha lost his temper, if we are to believe some accounts. I consider both Sogyal Rinpoche (who I have seen teach) and Chogyam Trungpa to be some of the greatest teachers (as an example) and yet many would agree that both had their flaws from a human behavioral perspective.  

Impossible to discuss Shakyamuni because none of us here has firsthand knowledge or experience of who he was, what he did and whether he had fits. Also, the notion of someone being a fully liberated buddha is a complex question because there is no way (other than OHBM, afaik) that people could agree on that. But considering Soggy and Trungpa... Well, I'm just going to have to strongly disagree on either of them being great teachers. Sure, they taught dharma, among all the nasty things, but I do not consider either of them "great" in any way.
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Stirling Campbell, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 597 Join Date: 3/13/16 Recent Posts
Kim Katami:

Impossible to discuss Shakyamuni because none of us here has firsthand knowledge or experience of who he was, what he did and whether he had fits. Also, the notion of someone being a fully liberated buddha is a complex question because there is no way (other than OHBM, afaik) that people could agree on that. But considering Soggy and Trungpa... Well, I'm just going to have to strongly disagree on either of them being great teachers. Sure, they taught dharma, among all the nasty things, but I do not consider either of them "great" in any way.

Exactly - this is what I am saying. There will be many ideas about it, but the qualities of THE Buddha (or any historical Buddha) can only be assumed or imputed, never known... 

You are naturally free to choose whatever teachers you prefer - but in my experience the dharma perfumes the fabric of every phenomena.
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svmonk, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 396 Join Date: 8/23/14 Recent Posts
Right.

However, I am suprised to note that no one commented on the qualitative difference between this case and the cases of Richard Baker at SFZC in the '70's and early '80s, Sogayl Rimpoche more recently, and the Sakyoung, head of Shambhala until he was removed last year for, among other things, allegedly raping some of his female students. Since I know two women involved in two of these cases, I can pretty much say that these were not "he said-she said" stories, but rather involved sustained and systematic abuses of an asymmetric power relationship over many years that the sanghas involved chose to explain away and ignore rather than deal with. One of those women was the Zen teacher that I took tokudo (monk) vows with, and she spent the first year I studied with her periodically talking about the harm that such abuse does, both to the individual and the group. She insisted I read Raven, the story of Jim Jones and the People's Temple, and told me that if she ever started behaving like that, it was my job to call her out on it.

From the description of the allegations in this thread, nobody is accusing Culadasa of that. This is not to say that his behavior is at all acceptable in a Dharma teacher, or that there might not be legal implications (if, for example, some of the money he paid to prostitutes was embezzled from temple funds). I personally find his behavior unacceptable in anyone, much less a Dharma teacher, and if a unbiased investigation and trial does result in proven law-breaking, then he should naturally suffer the consequences. And Daniel's report on his inhospitable behavor last September is indeed puzzling. Why did he invite Daniel if he was going to behave like such a jerk?

With respect to his teachings, I found TMI to be quite helpful in clarifying my own practice with respect to jhana. I have never been able to do the "stable luminous ball at the nostrals" visualization (what Culadasa describes as the "luminous" jhanas), and in TMI, Culadasa describes some other types of jhana that I have experienced. I've never actually met him, and just briefly viewed one of his Youtube videos (wasn't very impressed). But actually, I can say the same thing about Richard Baker. Several years ago, I read one of the best commentaries on the Heart Sutra I have ever read, written by him (he now has a center in Crestone, Colarado and Switzerland). Some folks further up thread commented on the "saints and psychopaths" aspect so I won't say more.

It is best that the board requested his resignation, and if he broke any laws, he should be prosecuted, but I hope people will keep this in perspective. The amount of psychological and spiritual harm to others that can come from systematically abusing a power relationship is several orders of magnitude worse than the kinds of behavior Culadasa is being accused of.
YCR, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 20 Join Date: 7/15/19 Recent Posts
What a shame he is not able to teach. I hope I will still be able to meet him one day.
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Shaun Steelgrave, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 121 Join Date: 7/7/19 Recent Posts
He did nothing wrong.
S., modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 21 Join Date: 6/26/14 Recent Posts
I am a little surprised there seems to be many people on this thread who seem to think that what is legal and what is ethical are the same thing.

Curious that some people might think that harming your wife through an affair is not unethical, or does not violate a precept to do no harm through sexual heedlessness and deceit (two precepts).

I find it surprising and unsurprising at the same time that people are more worried about financial shenanigans, though I would agree financial shenanigans are a more serious issue than non-traditional sexual lifestyles. This does not just sound to me like some people are being prudes. Even if monogamy is not the right or preferred lifestyle by some people who conscientiously live differently, that doesn't just excuse arbitrary behavior and harmful actions in arbitrary marriages. Even in polyamorous contexts I think explicit and implicit boundaries grounded in the consent of multiple people beyond those involved in a particular sex act are pretty common (how many polyamorous people but the most idealistic would be comfortable with their primary partner sleeping also with the first partner's siblings or their boss or coworkers, or engaging in very risky behaviors)?

It is also curious that some people here think that violating Culadasa's privacy in this way is egregious and that a legally rigorous standard of proof should be required for any discussion. I might avoid plenty of people for bad juju and bad reputations (such as their wife and former colleagues dismissing them for ethical misconduct from a religious organization) without legally admissable evidence.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
S.:
I am a little surprised there seems to be many people on this thread who seem to think that what is legal and what is ethical are the same thing.

Curious that some people might think that harming your wife through an affair is not unethical, or does not violate a precept to do no harm through sexual heedlessness and deceit (two precepts).

I find it surprising and unsurprising at the same time that people are more worried about financial shenanigans, though I would agree financial shenanigans are a more serious issue than non-traditional sexual lifestyles. This does not just sound to me like some people are being prudes. Even if monogamy is not the right or preferred lifestyle by some people who conscientiously live differently, that doesn't just excuse arbitrary behavior and harmful actions in arbitrary marriages. Even in polyamorous contexts I think explicit and implicit boundaries grounded in the consent of multiple people beyond those involved in a particular sex act are pretty common (how many polyamorous people but the most idealistic would be comfortable with their primary partner sleeping also with the first partner's siblings or their boss or coworkers, or engaging in very risky behaviors)?

It is also curious that some people here think that violating Culadasa's privacy in this way is egregious and that a legally rigorous standard of proof should be required for any discussion. I might avoid plenty of people for bad juju and bad reputations (such as their wife and former colleagues dismissing them for ethical misconduct from a religious organization) without legally admissable evidence.


As far as I have seen, I’m one of the very few posters that explicitly said that polyamory per se is not a problem, and I did that only because some of the formulations both in the letter and in this thread seemed to say it is immoral regardless of circumstances to have more than one intimate (romantic and/or sexual) relationship. I did NOT say that betrayal of confidence was okay. On the contrary, I explicitly said that it’s not. And to add to the nuances, many polyamorous people do not have a primary partner. In my community, that term is often frowned upon as ethically problematic. I haven’t got the faintest idea as to whether or not Culadasa is polyamorous or as to what happened here. I neither defend him nor accuse him, have only said a few words about my own boundaries.
S., modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 21 Join Date: 6/26/14 Recent Posts
As far as I have seen, I’m one of the very few posters that explicitly said that polyamory per se is not a problem, and I did that only because some of the formulations both in the letter and in this thread seemed to say it is immoral regardless of circumstances to have more than one intimate (romantic and/or sexual) relationship. I did NOT say that betrayal of confidence was okay. On the contrary, I explicitly said that it’s not. And to add to the nuances, many polyamorous people do not have a primary partner. In my community, that term is often frowned upon as ethically problematic. I haven’t got the faintest idea as to whether or not Culadasa is polyamorous or as to what happened here. I neither defend him nor accuse him, have only said a few words about my own boundaries.

A few other posters have focused on (a) the consent of all parties he had sex with as the primary ethical question, or (b) made statements suggesting monogamy is bad or unimportant (saying for example it is an artifact of Christian morality, or that he did nothing wrong sleeping with multiple people). That was my starting point for talking about it. I did not mean to single out your statements about polyamory as an attempt to justify his behavior, or to single out your comments in general. In fact I wanted to suggest that even within a kind of rich, consent-driven framework like polyamory that his behavior is not obviously acceptable. I am sorry if I sounded like I was criticizing you, or polyamory. I have a decent amount of experience with polyamorous people, communities, etc though I do not currently practice a polyamorous lifestyle. I have no particular criticism of it that I would claim is relevant.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Thanks for your kind clarification! I didn’t feel singled out, but just wanted to be clear in case I wasn’t. I appreciate that nuanced perspective. <3

As for the end of my last post, I didn’t mean to adress you in particular, so that part was unclear (still). I got the impression that some posters basically saw the whole thread as either accusing or defending Culadasa, so I thought that maybe I wasn’t clear enough. That felt a bit uncomfortable, because I wouldn’t want to contribute to a polarized discussion.
Blue Jay, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 95 Join Date: 1/19/14 Recent Posts
In my opinion it is not a good idea to speculate on what did or did not happen until all the facts are determined beyond reasonable doubt, especially when we are talking about dharma teachers who might be members of the Noble Sangha.
Edward, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Just in case anyone hasn't seen 'Wild Wild Country' on Netflix. It's brilliant. 
Monsoon Frog, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 58 Join Date: 3/16/14 Recent Posts
As recent events are engaging with aspects of Culadasa's behavior that are bringing his claims and policies into question, I do have a comment. 

I'll preface this by stating I've never had a direct exchange with Culadasa and the little that I do know of him is via a very limited exposure to the dharma media he's produced and various publicly shared opinions of those who've practiced with him … on the whole mostly positive (with some exceptions until recent events). I do own his book based on many recommendations however I've not finished it as I bogged down a short distance into it (likely attributable to having reached a point of over-saturation in dharma reading than to anything in particular about the book ... and it remains in position near the top of my reading cue). I listened to some very brief sections of his YouTube videos and a podcast, but frankly not enough to really get a solid feel for what his teaching and scene are like. 

I recall some time ago reading (where I can’t recall exactly - quite possibly it was on this forum) about Culadasa offering one-on-one Skype teachings which were priced at an hourly rate that was far beyond any fee I’d ever heard of a Buddhist teacher ever charging for the dharma … IIRC it wasn't a sliding scale but rather a fixed fee and it almost approached the hourly fee of a good, experienced, successful NYC attorney. It’s not my place to tell someone how to run their business or how to become a market maker in the dharma, nonetheless my impression was that the fee was outlandish and it was hard to make sense of it in context of a 'Buddhist' teacher (as opposed to a strictly secular-pragmatic meditation teacher unaligned with Buddhism specifically … furthermore I'm not aware of teachers in the latter category charging such high fees). It did leave a very odd taste in my mouth. Very odd. Maybe Culadasa needed the funds for personal expenses and/or maybe he needed them to support his 'harem'? Is that fee structure a manifestation of excessive greed or ambition? Is there an explanation that's reasonable (with an understanding that due to the current allegations of deceitfulness and how it eventually plays out much of what Culadasa henceforth discloses may be subject to skepticism)? I’m sure I don’t know the whole story and maybe his scene and the cost of living in Arizona is more than I’ve ever imagined. It just seemed wierd. I'm honestly not sure what to think but my initial gut impression has never changed: something is 'off'. Maybe as the current scandal unfolds I'll be able to better make sense of this either pro or con. 

No doubt that the TMI brand has been damaged no matter how you slice it. 
Despite that I have the impression that Culadasa has something unique and valuable to share that's suited to this particular moment of the Dharma's unfolding in the West. 
Wishing the very best to Culadasa and all those impacted by these events and that we all grow wiser through them. Perhaps in time the truth will emerge and we'll have another data point to add to our collective wisdom. 


PS: a shout out to Daniel and his evocation of Bill Hamilton's admonitions and example of keeping it real. 
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Siavash Mahmoudpour, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Culadasa once said that that high fee is to filter students that really need to talk to him, and to put a control on how he (Culadasa) spends his time, and to make him use his time more skillfully, because without that, he spends too much time on answering people's questions, and doesn't get enought time for more important works.

I once sent him an email, said that because of US sanctions I am not able to buy his book, but probably I could ask a friend in another country to buy it but they can't send it to me, he responded promptly, and after he gave permission, my friend purchased a kindle version of the book, and after I sent the purchase confirmation to Culadasa, he sent me a pdf copy of the book, and said that my friend can use that copy too.
Fastlane, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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$325 for a 45 minute consultation:
https://dharmatreasure.org/private-consultations/

Oddly there doesn't seem to be any word of the revelations on the Dharma Treasure site or forum. It's all over Reddit of course.  
Monsoon Frog, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Fastlane:
$325 for a 45 minute consultation:
https://dharmatreasure.org/private-consultations/

Oddly there doesn't seem to be any word of the revelations on the Dharma Treasure site or forum. It's all over Reddit of course.  


Siavash Mahmoudpour:
Culadasa once said that that high fee is to filter students that really need to talk to him


Pardon me while I recover from Buddhist sticker shock. 

Based on those figures I’ll modify my assessment and state that Culadasa’s hourly dharma fee is equal to what a high end NYC attorney charges by the hour. 

In other words income and wealth become the filter for a 'real need to talk’? Sounds to me like nothing more than a way to filter out the students without deep pockets. Anyone that can dish out a consultation fee of $433/hr is going to either be in a high income bracket, a desperate sucker, or both ... regardless of 'the need to really talk'. 

neko wrote:
Those are actually standard fees, particularly in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I know several not-so-big names who charge similar fees. If a famous or not-so-famous teacher does not publish his or her hourly rate on his or her website, chances are they charge similar amounts. The only reason you've never heard of similar fees is that mostly people keep quiet about it, for fear of the backlash.

The money flow in modern Buddhism.

I really need to hurry up and get enlightened so I'll have my license to print money : )


And a Bill Hamilton quote: 
“As one of my students said after reviewing the costs of retreats around the country, ‘I can’t afford to be a Buddhist.’ I hope to change this situation.”

Michael, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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I personally would also never pay that much and I can understand why it would make people sceptical.

On the other hand: I (or anybody else) does have no right to another person's time. If I feel I really need help and I think that only talking to a certain person for two hours every day will help me and that person doesn't want to or charges too much money for me.... well, tough luck.

And there is the very real question on how a demanded teacher does spend his time. It's a legitimate point. How would you decide who "really" needs help? Also if somebody needs TMI specific help, there are forums where teachers and teachers-in-training can answer you. I am sure some would also be willing to skype with you for free or for dana.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Based on those figures I’ll modify my assessment and state that Culadasa’s hourly dharma fee is equal to what a high end NYC attorney charges by the hour. 

Just for the sake of accuracy, a high-end attorney in NYC can cost upwards of $1,000 per hour. I have professional experience with paying such people.
neko, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Monsoon Frog:

I recall some time ago reading (where I can’t recall exactly - quite possibly it was on this forum) about Culadasa offering one-on-one Skype teachings which were priced at an hourly rate that was far beyond any fee I’d ever heard of a Buddhist teacher ever charging for the dharma …

$325 for a 45 minutes consultation, according to this web page:

https://dharmatreasure.org/private-consultations/

The cost of his teacher training is comparable: $2000 for the full course of about 50 classes of two hours each, with 20 participants in each cohort gives you an hourly rate of:

($2000 * 20) / (50 * 2 hours) = $400 per hour


Although in actual practice the Teacher Training classes are proceeding at a slower pace than anticipated, so they end up being something closer to 65 classes in actual practice, which gives you:

($2000 * 20) / (65 * 2 hours) = $310 per hour


Those are actually standard fees, particularly in San Francisco and Los Angeles. I know several not-so-big names who charge similar fees. If a famous or not-so-famous teacher does not publish his or her hourly rate on his or her website, chances are they charge similar amounts. The only reason you've never heard of similar fees is that mostly people keep quiet about it, for fear of the backlash.

So in this regard Culadasa stands out not for how much he charges, but for being completely public about it, which is a point in his favour.
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Siavash Mahmoudpour, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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One of the interesting parts of this thing for me, is the mention of 4 years period in the letter. I wonder what was the relationship between publishing TMI, and these behaviors. Did they start after TMI has been published? Also what was the role of that psychological work that Culadasa had done with Douglas Tataryn. Did these activities start after that psychological work, or before it?
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Paul, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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I seen this posted on Reddit but I figured it was worth a cross-post here for discussion purposes.

Watching the July Patreon Q&A, I am struck by something Culadasa said, initially on the subject of shamanism and psychological healing. In this short passage, he is describing how awakening can blind one to shadow stuff that never got "cleaned up."

The most interesting piece is from 58:00 to 1:01:20. The link is 
https://youtu.be/X7brJ8qrLBo 

Just putting this forth as information.
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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mushi:
I seen this posted on Reddit but I figured it was worth a cross-post here for discussion purposes.

Watching the July Patreon Q&A, I am struck by something Culadasa said, initially on the subject of shamanism and psychological healing. In this short passage, he is describing how awakening can blind one to shadow stuff that never got "cleaned up."

The most interesting piece is from 58:00 to 1:01:20. The link is 
https://youtu.be/X7brJ8qrLBo 

Just putting this forth as information.
In the video Culadasa, a veteran of 50 years of practice and one of the most respected teachers of buddhist meditation in the West, discusses The Mind Illuminated, his own version of buddhist sutrayana meditations, and states that it "doesn't go far enough", despite of insight and awakening that the method produces. This lecture was given about a month before he was fired or himself left his own Dharma Treasure organisation due to allegations of misconduct in the forms of lying and extramarital sexual affairs.

Although Culadasa's bio says that together with his hinayana lineage, he also has vajrayana lineage, I have never seen or found a reference that would state that he is a tantric practitioner or that he would teach tantra. If you know that my information lacks in this regard, please correct me. I have sought this bit of information for few years but never found it. In some webcasts he has mentioned vajrayana in general but I have never seen him talk about tantric practices in the sense that it was something that he and his students were actively involved with. 

In the video he says that he has gone through buddhist meditation training and that, despite of some illumination, "buddhist meditation traditions" (in plural) have severe deficiencies. He goes on to say that combination of shamanism and buddhism would tap what his practices leave untapped. In this connection, he also mentions Tibetan buddhism and Bon-tradition. It adds to my belief that he is not a vajrayana practitioner because he doesn't mention his own vajrayana teachings or practices.

To my knowledge, Culadasa is a practitioner of sutrayana, so I cannot take his statement about the deficiency of all buddhist traditions  seriously. I am aware that buddhism in general and Tibetan vajrayana in particular has all kinds of problems but in general based on my own observations vajrayana practitioners as a rule go farther in their practice than practitioners of sutrayana within both mahayana and hinayana. I leave scholars, academics and doctors of buddhism entirely out of this. In terms of bhumi analysis (OHBM) it can be clearly seen that tantrics have more bhumis open and perfected, or in common terms have more clarity and purity than sutrayana practitioners do. By saying this I do not deny the benefits of sutrayana, neither in mahayana nor in hinayana, because I know from my own experience that sutra practice reaps beneftis. However, in my experience as well as Culadasa's, sutrayana leaves a lot of the psyche into the shadow. It just "doesn't go far enough". For this reason I have discussed the greater benefits of tantric practice.

The problem is that sutric meditation practice is built on one's own effort, energy and ability of attention which in the present samsaric condition are very limited. On the other hand, tantric deities that are archetypes of the enlightened mind cannot but reveal all the nooks and corners of the mind or psyche, leaving nothing hidden. This is the potential tantric practice. Some ex-Tibetan buddhists, like Stephen Batchelor, have not understood this so they have renounced tantra.

Culadasa, "As you progress on the paths of awakening, the changes of you recognising them (parts of our pscyhe) as something that needs to be purified, diminishes.".

It is such a strange thing to say but at least he is honest. This precisely is Culadasa's testimony of the insufficiency of his long sutric practice that according to his experience, he is no longer able to find the very inner obstructions and habits that lead him to behave in unethical and destructive ways. 
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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To my knowledge, Culadasa is a practitioner of sutrayana, so I cannot take his statement about the deficiency of all buddhist traditions  seriously. I am aware that buddhism in general and Tibetan vajrayana in particular has all kinds of problems but in general based on my own observations vajrayana practitioners as a rule go farther in their practice than practitioners of sutrayana within both mahayana and hinayana.

You're taking a tragic, terribly unfortunate and painful occurrence that is affecting a lot of people and making a "my dharma is better than your dharma" thing out of it. 
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Chris Marti:
To my knowledge, Culadasa is a practitioner of sutrayana, so I cannot take his statement about the deficiency of all buddhist traditions  seriously. I am aware that buddhism in general and Tibetan vajrayana in particular has all kinds of problems but in general based on my own observations vajrayana practitioners as a rule go farther in their practice than practitioners of sutrayana within both mahayana and hinayana.
You're taking a tragic, terribly unfortunate and painful occurrence that is affecting a lot of people and making a "my dharma is better than your dharma" thing out of it. 
Not exactly, Chris. Are you not hearing what he is saying? I do think it's again really tragic that senior buddhist practitioners screw up like this. Like it or not, one has to have a really selective filter to not see that there are big problems there/here.
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Chris Marti, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Not exactly, Chris. Are you not hearing what he is saying? I do think it's again really tragic that senior buddhist practitioners screw up like this. Like it or not, one has to have a really selective filter to not see that there are big problems there/here.

You're deflecting. It's patently obvious there are problems here but they are exacerbated by people who make the problems out to be anything other than human foibles.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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I have to agree with Chris. You may have the best intentions, but it is probably painful enough for everybody involved without having this turned into some kind of dharma battle. Besides, didn’t you say that this was not that much of a problem? Suddenly you find it really tragic?
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Kim Katami, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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I will not battle with you or anyone else. You are free to disagree with what I say and interpret what I say in your own way.

To me, at the moment, it looks like Culadasa's misconduct isn't even nearly as bad as many of his colleagues, but still it is misconduct. I never said or meant that it was nothing, just that he didn't seem to screw up as badly as others.

I intended my previous message to be constructive and helpful, rather than desctructive or divisive. I am sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings by posting it so soon after the bad news came out. I didn't come to think of this when posting my message.

I wish the best for Culadasa, his family and students. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Oh, okay. Thanks for clarifying! I’m not going to hold you to my interpretations. It is so easy to misunderstand each other on the internet, and predicting what others will make of something isn’t always that easy.
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Siavash Mahmoudpour, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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Culadasa apologized:
Dear Dharma Friends,

I’m writing to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the harm and suffering I have caused my wife and family. I engaged in adultery and wrong speech, and failed to honor my commitment to my marriage. I’m also sorry for the pain I have caused the members of the Dharma Treasure Board, who have all been supportive friends for many years. And I’m sorry for the hurt, disappointment, and confusion this revelation has caused you who are learning about it now. (To be clear, I engaged in consensual relationships with adult women, none of whom were my students.)

Please bear with me as I take time to understand what led me to my choices and address all that’s happened. I intend to enter therapy, and I look forward to hearing and reflecting upon your responses to this letter as a part of my process of cleaning up and growing up. As part of that process I have also begun to work with dharma peers. Please be patient with me as I begin to understand the full impact of what I’ve done. More information to follow, I’ll communicate with you as I’m able.
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Ben V., modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Culadasa Misconduct Allegations

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That's a respectable apology, IMHO. Wishing him the best in his process to come.

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