Response to the Observer Article (21/07/2019) from the Interkula.
The Interkula have noted the Observer’s use of its report based on the results of our Survey intended to “assess where the Triratna community currently stands in relation to allegations of past sexual misconduct in Triratna’s history” in an article in this Sunday’s Observer Newspaper.
We were saddened to see an article so critical of Triratna, particularly because we feel that if the issues discussed in the article had been effectively addressed, a very different, much more favorable article could have been written about us. We would likely have been perceived as exemplars of good practice, in this time of reports of abuse arising from other sanghas, such as Shambhala and Rigpa.
In response to today’s Observer article, we would like to reiterate the four recommendations we made in our report:
1. Consult organizational communications professions to help restructure method and systems for information communication to the Sangha, so that people feel more informed and involved.
2. Establish teacher training in prevention of sexual harassment and misconduct.
3. Establish a robust system of reporting concerns as they arise that the Sangha feel able to use without any conflict of interest. As part of this, a Committee independent of Triratna or an Ombudsman to handle misconduct reports is suggested.
4. Hire an external party trained in investigating misconduct in religious organizations to conduct an inquiry into past misconduct and implement that party’s recommendations.
We received virtually no response to these recommendations from the Ethics kula or the College when we first sent them to the then-Adhistana kula on Dec 3, 2018 and distributed them as widely as we were able to the Order. However, our recommendations can still be implemented, and we firmly believe all four are necessary to heal the harm caused by past unskillfulness and prevent future recurrences.
Finally, we wish to correct the description of us as disaffected Order members. Each Interkula member has a long history with Triratna and positive friendships within it. Our surveys intend to collect information from the Sangha then distribute that information to whomever the survey was open to, along with other relevant bodies. Our recommendations come out of the data collected, and our hope is that people in the Sangha will continue the conversation in their own contexts and pick up on the results that may lead to action. As we said in our introduction to the report referenced in the Observer article:
‘We also wish readers to know that all the stages involved in this process, from creating the survey to compiling and sharing the results, has been done from a place of deep metta and concern for all those touched by Triratna and a wish for the Triratna Community to be the best it can be’
Our work is informed by deep care for the Order and community.