Added: August 15, 2009 – Last updated: June 4, 2016


Author: Robert Aitken

Title: Original Dwelling Place

Subtitle: Zen Buddhist Essays

Place: Washington, DC

Publisher: Counterpoint

Year: 1996

Pages: 256pp.

ISBN-10: 1887178414 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | Types: Clergy Sexual Abuse


Link: -


Author: Author's Personal Website, Wikipedia

Abstract: »An essay written in 1995. Explores the phenomenon of the Buddhist teacher who sexually exploits his students as a violation of the third of the Pañcha Shila, the Five Precepts that Buddhists vow to follow: “I take up the way of not misusing sex.” The Buddhist teacher who is a sexual abuser: 1.) displays attachment; 2.) conceals Dharma from the student; 3.) manipulates transference to create an ultimate kind of loyalty. He recognizes the inherent vulnerability of a student: “To be vulnerable, to be naïve that is the Tao.” Identifies as factors: meaningful consent by a student vs. dynamics of transference to the teacher; power differential between men and women historically and culturally; the difference between “a one - time incident, ...a love affair between the Buddhist teacher and student” and “willful actions that stand in for love but that are actually ruthlessly exploitative.” As interventions, explores: 1.) the possibility of brahmadanda, i.e., shunning, by the abuser’s colleagues; 2.) an intervention analogous to that in the case of a substance abuser; 3.) informing those in a position of authority, e.g., senior members of the sangha or the sangha’s board. The goal of an intervention is “to encourage the liberation of the teacher, as well as those for whom he has caused trouble.” In a case where an “appeal to compassion and ordinary decency” fail, he allows for a lawsuit and the setting aside of the “traditional Buddhist distrust of the adversarial approach to the conflict.” Calls for the sangha to support financially the therapeutic treatment of the victim. Calls for regular sharing meetings in a sangha to create a safe setting in which betrayal can be disclosed by a student. His analysis of Zen history points to multiple factors related to the occurrence of sexual abuse by teachers: women historically were shut out of positions of power; there is a failure to address the power of sexuality, and where it is addresses, it is trivialized or exploitation is minimized.« (Source: James S. Evinger. Annotated Bibliography of Clergy Sexual Abuse and Sexual Boundary Violations in Religious Communities 21st Revision. Rochester 2012)


  Brahmadana, Intervention, and Related Considerations: A Think Piece (pp. 160-170)

Wikipedia: Types of rape