Friday, 1 October 2010

The Lights are Going Out...

Sangharakshita's sexual shenanigans are too well-known now to need elaborating on, as is his ongoing refusal to issue any kind of apology or regret. Last year's “Conversations with Bhante” show a complete inability to understand what he did. The only step forward was a "Sorry if..." And he chose to repeat his comment that he had no memory of having had sex with Yashomitra. Why say this? Does he want people to think Yasho is making it up? Insensitive is hardly the word.

After some years of quasi-discussion within the TBO, orders have now come down from Subhuti that any public discussion of this area is now off limits. One member was recently told by his Preceptor that by doing so he was putting himself outside of the Order. The Pope could learn a thing or two here.

It is the collective self-deception over "Bhante's" sexual shenanigans that have led to the recent resignation letter below from a long-standing member of the TBO.

The regular TBC newsite will not of course be reporting the resignation (though it did for a while report, without their given reasons, Order resignations.) It is therefore our duty, as the conscience of the TBO, to publish the letter (Hey, that was a bit pompous!) The pictures are ours.

Dear Mahamati,

I am writing to ask you to withdraw my name from the Order list, etc. As I expect you know I have had nothing to do with WBO/TBC activities for well over a decade now, and minimal involvement for some time before that, and I wish to make it clear that this position is a matter of choice rather than forgetfulness on my part. I have regarded myself as no longer a part of ‘the Order’ for a long time and it is now probably overdue for me to make this absolutely clear to all concerned.

My decision to do this is, amongst other things, connected with the subject of various materials now in the public domain, most notably the self-deceiving document "Conversations with Bhante", and the character of the collective response over the years to the issues that are raised therein. While I fully accept the well-meaning and good faith of members of the WBO/TBC, there is also a collective self-deception at work in connection with certain past events and present attitudes which I regard as deleterious to the welfare of all those involved, past and present. I would summarise my concerns as being focused in the areas of sexual misconduct, inadequate boundaries and cultic or controlling group behaviours, compounded by the lack of informed and truly moral leadership on how the Order should understand and respond to these problems, as shown for example by your and Subhuti’s rapturous endorsement of “Conversations...”. It is particularly damning that no-one addresses the crucial factor of the breach of fiduciary duty and teacher-disciple boundaries. Everyone inside the WBO/TBC, it seems, is engaged in denial of how destructive such behaviour can be and has been.

I note in a recent document that Sangharakshita laments that a resigning member does not write to him as his preceptor. He clearly does not understand that where he has ‘cashed in’ his spiritual status for personal sexual gratification, no obligation remains on the part of the ordinand.

I have written about aspects of all these issues at some length but here is not the place in which to go into further detail. I do understand that many members believe (or is it hope?) that by remaining uncritical of Sangharakshita’s sexual misconduct and other aspects of TBC/WBO behaviour they are exhibiting a kind of spiritual strength. Unfortunately this is not the case, and they are merely exhibiting their indifference to the moral issues raised in these areas, and clinging cravenly to the identities given by their often lengthy membership of the TBC/WBO.

I hope you are able and willing to reflect on the truth of what I have written.

With my best wishes,

Andrew Skilton (ex-Sthiramati)

I would be most grateful if you would publish this letter in Shabda so that other members of the WBO/TBC are unambiguously informed of my position.


  1. Excellent letter from Andrew Skilton. I concur with it wholeheartedly.

    Mark Dunlop (ex-Vajrakumara)

  2. I feel it would be in the interests of everyone who has an interest in Buddhism and the Truth, that ex and current members of the FWBO document their experience of it.
    I for one have no idea how many people ordained only to resign. The reasons for their resignations would also (in my opinion) be of interest to those who are seeking a spiritual path. I have recently decided to stop attending the Manchester FWBO Buddhist Centre and follow the Theravadan path, not through ordination, but by supporting a monk who appears to me to embody the ideals of the Dhamma. I am dismayed when the Truth is obscured and have no interest in lies, innuendos or gossip - please provide accurate and truthful information for those who wish to know.

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  4. It is perhaps worth noting that some years ago, before he resigned, the FWBO/TBC described Andrew Skilton as one of 'a number of respected and well-known Buddhist scholars within the Western Buddhist Order itself. [ 52 ]'

    Note 52 on the above FWBO webpage says: '...Andrew Skilton (Dh. Sthiramati), author of A Concise History of Buddhism, co-translator of the Oxford Classics Bodhicaryavatara, now teaching at the University of Cardiff ...' [this was written in about 1998]

    I believe Andrew Skilton is currently teaching at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

  5. I seem to remember Andrew Skilton from Aryatara (a community/centre in Purley near Croydon, England) in 1977. We were painting a reception room with Padmaraja - in that May/June I recall.
    It took me almost as long as he, to realise that serious ethical transgressions have historically afflicted the FWBO/TBC at its heart. I believed in Sangharakshita, only to discover, painfully slowly, that he was a cold-hearted sexual predator: with a taste for heterosexual young lads – some of whose lives he damaged. Moreover, he must have known about the “fierce friendship” – aka psychological bullying – fiasco, which instilled long-term feelings of betrayal of trust amongst some mitras queuing up for ordination – including myself.
    Since finally leaving the FWBO/TBC in 2000, I have been an avid follower and supporter of the Vipassana Trust (SN Goenka’s teaching outlet). The consideration and courtesy I have been shown by those at the heart of the Trust, contrasts strongly with the psychological and emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of some members of Sangharakshita’s order; especially in the 1980’s – and NOT at the Croydon centre!
    It is a duty of those of us with an inside, long-term knowledge of the inner – not public – culture of the FWBO/TBC, to warn the general public of the dangers they face, in becoming involved in an organisation, and the “order” at its core, that has consistently failed to FULLY face up to its own past behaviour.
    Please look elsewhere for Buddhism and meditation classes and courses. Trust my word on this.
    An ex-veteran-mitra