Welcoming All in Their Practice

In Support of a Sangha in Recovery from Teacher Misconduct

GBZC is a sangha recovering from the misconduct of our former spiritual director. For those who remain or have joined since the misconduct took place, some common responses include:

  • Deep sense of betrayal and spiritual trauma
  • Concern for those affected 
  • Curiosity but no personal stake
  • Triggering of personal wounds
  • Lack of interest and desire to leave the situation behind

It’s important that we as a sangha honor each other’s experiences and don’t seek to create a unified emotional response. Our job as a sangha is to make room for everyone in the sangha to befriend what arises. 

While we commit to welcoming all emotional responses, we do not welcome all interpretations. We are a community that stands up against clergy abuse and adheres to research-backed understanding of the absolute responsibility of clergy to maintain appropriate boundaries.

Some activities that are ok:

  • It’s ok to wrestle with Josh’s legacy during GBZC programming, including dharma discussion, dharma talks or opening and closing circles. The teacher who transgressed was a public figure engaging a professional role, and his legacy is complex and living. 
  • It is ok to mention your wounding, hurt, or betrayal related to our former teachers. There is no time limit for expressing these feelings, and there is no frequency that is excessive. We all take our own time in grieving, in our own way. 
  • It is ok not to feel wounds or grief. You are not less a part of this community because this did not affect you or because you weren’t here at the time of these events. Your response and your story are part of our story, too. 
  • If peace or other positive states are arising for you, it is also “turning toward” to be with them. 
  • Although we are welcome to speak from our own position and experiences, we still engage the practice of discerning the right amount of what to say when. This isn’t something that can be prescribed or perfected, and is an ongoing practice. This practice entails being open to hearing our impact on others.
  • All positions within the sangha can bear witness to each other with compassion and listening. This is a central practice of sangha and never wears out.

As a note, it is part of our practice of caretaking to know the limits of our training. If you are experiencing psychic distress due to what happened in our community, we encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional for support. Counseling and other forms of therapy can offer valuable adjunct practices, as we turn toward grief and pain in the service of becoming more fully awake.