Sunday, September 30, 2012

An Open Letter to the Buddhist Community

As a pioneer in translating Buddhist teachings into Western culture, Ken McLeod has shown acute insight and broad knowledge. At the same time he is a human being with reactive patterns and blind spots.

In the matter between Ken and Patricia Ivan: in 2009, teaching and intimacies were mixed in ways that were harmful to both of them. In several private conversations with me during 2011 and 2012, Ken acknowledged that emotional entanglement and physical intimacies had occurred, and he acknowledged it in a conference call attended by Unfettered Mind board member Robert Conrad, myself, and others (May 21, 2012).

Out of concern for those directly involved and for the wider community, I told Ken I would be as discrete as possible but would not participate in a cover-up. I listened and offered advice while Ken struggled to find an ethical and effective response, but he and the Unfettered Mind board have instead offered public silence and private threats, which have further confused the community and multiplied the harm.

What’s been set in motion cannot be resolved by secrecy, scandal, or lawsuits. I understand reluctance and defensiveness. But it’s unfathomably sad that Ken is so recalcitrant to acknowledge the facts, to apologize for mistakes, and to transform the difficulty into something positive and worthy.

There is no pleasure or pride in making these statements or in my own role in events. I could have been more observant, more discerning, more concerned, and more vocal. I apologize for any hurt or harm I have caused, knowingly or unknowingly.

George Draffan
September 30, 2012

[*] To explore the complex psychological and ethical dynamics between students and teachers, and the need to create a safe and effective container for spiritual practice, I recommend careful study of "At Personal Risk" by Marilyn Peterson, and "Sex and the Spiritual Teacher" by Scott Edelstein.

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