Openess and Honesty about the Past in the FWBO/TBC

When, in 1998,  the FWBO wrote their response to the FWBO Files,they described SOAS academic Dr Andrew Skilton as one of 'a number of respected and well-known Buddhist scholars within the Western Buddhist Order itself', this being evidence of their great credibility as an authentic Buddhist organization. Here's what  the "respected and well-known Buddhist scholar " had to say on his resigning from the Order a couple of years back

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. 

Dennis Lingwood alias Sangharakshita
Founder of the Order and serial sexual abuser

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) 

Buddha's not smiling


  1. 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 very young heterosexual men – some of whose lives he damaged.

    Moreover, he must have known about the “fierce friendship” or "feedback"– aka psychological bullying – fiasco, which instilled long-term feelings of betrayal of trust among 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 collective behaviour.

    Please look elsewhere for Buddhism and meditation classes and courses; trust my word on this.

    An ex-veteran-mitra

  2. Interesting that these people still play an active role in the European Buddhist Union, flying the UK Network of Buddhist Organizations flag of convenience. Therein, while the NBO deny they claim any representative status, other members perceive them as representatives of UK Buddhists. The NBO is a cabal, up of people united in some close design together, usually to promote their private views or interests in a church, state, or other community, often by intrigue, usually unbeknownst to persons outside their group. Cabals are sometimes secret societies composed of a few designing persons, and at other times are manifestations of emergent behavior in society or governance on the part of a community of persons who have well established public affiliation or kinship. The term can also be used to refer to the designs of such persons or to the practical consequences of their emergent behavior, and also holds a general meaning of intrigue and conspiracy. The use of this term usually carries strong connotations of shadowy corners, back rooms and insidious influenc