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Questionable teachers in Buddhism

Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal DhammaWe(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

I just discovered that a local authority on Buddhism (mainly due to his status as a fluently English-speaking ex-Theravadan monastic, which gives his opinions more cachet), who hosts meditation/About Buddhism classes (some of which are openly sectarian) and a large Meetup group is now making Hitler apologetics videos.

To give him credit, he does say on his "coming out" post on the Meetup group that he is not representing anyone but himself, but he is lumping his new "interest" under the banner of Engaged Buddhism.

I can't be the only one who has issues with this whole thing.

I don't think that people would necessarily be so naive to think that Buddhist practice involves making up excuses for Adolf Hitler, but I do take exception to the notion that this man seems to be trying to work Buddhism around his conspiracy theory beliefs which seem to hold stronger sway, not to mention that he takes advantage of his "expertise" as a monk for a few months in Thailand to give himself more clout when giving talks.

It just disheartens me that someone with some degree of prominence in the local Buddhist/meditation community seems to want to meld his interests in a potentially harmful way. Harmful to the Dhamma, harmful to his students.

Some might say that one's personal affairs have nothing to do with their spiritual teaching if never the twain shall meet. But personally, I think that humans can't really hold up that sort of cognitive dissonance for very long without something giving eventually.

I see this as similar to the monks in SE Asia and Japan who advocate(d) war and nationalism. Somehow humans manage to find a way to try and justify it. The message of the Buddhadhamma is damaged, etc.

Thoughts?

lobsterEarthninja

Comments

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Really, every sustained monk is a teacher, although the size of their audiences vary. As with any other religion or organization, the quality of the teaching varies from one monk to another.

    In some religions there is a governing body. I'm not sure if there is any in his situation. And that's potentially a big problem.

    lobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited June 2015

    Personally, I don't think it actually damages the Buddha's teachings, or the Dhamma they're pointing towards. The truth of 'things as they are' isn't changed/harmed by poor teachers. What's really damaged are the people who put their faith and trust in those who perpetuate harmful teachings that are contrary to the true spirit of the Dhamma (e.g., those justifying hate, intolerance, or violence), which is truly unfortunate, and we should try to do whatever we can to steer people away from them.

    EarthninjaHamsakaInvincible_summerlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    mmm ... I am not prepared to watch the videos at this time.

    From what I know of this guy he is a Hinayanist or should that be Arayanist? As such those interested can attend his meetings, post counter videos, expose or publicise his position as you have done etc.

    I agree with your point about cognitive dissonance. I could not take seriously an alcoholic rinpoche like Trungpa unless he made his impediment the basis of his teaching regarding spiritual materialism. Central to his teaching. Then a weakness and flaw becomes a practice, example and teaching.

    Another example is the crackpot homo erotic ideology of Edward Lingwood
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangharakshita

    Having attended and benefitted from organisations set up by both Trungpa and Lingwood I feel the flaw is very relevant but I would be more than happy to recommend their centres and if available alternatives.

    In a similar way this issue can be the basis of dialogue and should be central. Not 'and oh by the way I am a Hitler nut' (sorry that is my assumption as I have little interest in watching his material)

    Hope others are better positioned and informed. Look forward to their input. :)

    Invincible_summer
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited June 2015

    @Invincible_summer said: Thoughts?

    You can learn from teachers without having to take on board their philosophy on life. Some of the mindfulness stuff looks interesting.

    BuddhadragonInvincible_summer
  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    First of all, @Invincible_summer, I'm delighted to see you back on the site =)

    Second, yes, some teachers are questionable. My favourite example is Chögyam Trungpa. He was a great teacher but made a mess with his personal life.

    Now that his skandhas have been disseminated and whatever stream of consciousness was left of him has been reborn -or not-, all we have left are his books.

    If you don't get dragged into the details of his life and just take his books, oh my Buddha, you can learn so much, his teaching can impact so strongly in your life, his books are pure gold... I mean, he was such an enlightened soul.

    That's why I am not so much into Teacher worshipping: I think you can take whatever serves to advance you in your practice from different sources, without marrying just one Teacher as sole depository of the Buddhadharma lore.

    karastiHamsakaTony_A_Simien
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    The problem is taking Lingwoods example, he introduced some very dubious practices for his senior straight students. They trusted his judgement as he was an experienced and able teacher. He was also a misogynist and conflicted homosexual IMO.

    His homosexual magical practices might just be considered relevant. Perhaps. Maybe. In the right context.

    Personally I find they are laughable techniques of no value. Similar 'advanced tantric practices' have been nothing more than justified sex and lust in other groups. It is not the homosexuality or sexual feelings that is suspect, it is the contrived 'teachings'.
    http://www.ex-cult.org/fwbo/fwbofiles.htm#properfound

    Should we wash our linen in public. Yes.
    http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t223p150-sex-and-the-spiritual-teacher

    ooh I feel all kinda righteous and superior ... must be time to take a cold shower ... must remember my flagelation whip, carton of Mr Buddha Whippy and picture of Adolf ...

    Invincible_summer
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    ^^^ good thing I did not mention the kinky stuff . . . O.o

    Earthninjayagrdantepw
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @lobster said: The problem is taking Lingwoods example, he introduced some very dubious practices for his senior straight students. They trusted his judgement as he was an experienced and able teacher. He was also a misogynist and conflicted homosexual IMO.

    I was regularly encouraged to "explore my sexuality" back in the 1980s.

    lobsterWalker
  • In the worlds of Alan Partridge... 'The more I hear about Hitler, the more I dislike him... he was crazy!'

    lobster
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited June 2015

    There is no good thing so good that there won't always be someone to screw it up. Take for example this militant fellow in Myanmar or the Japanese invasion of China (1937-1945) which claimed credibility in part from its occasional Buddhist trappings.

    There is nothing so good that it cannot be fucked up. The bottom line, from where I sit is, "just don't YOU be the one to fall into the trap." Though this is sometimes harder than it sounds, still ... just DON'T DO IT.

    Invincible_summerlobsterperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2015

    @Invincible_summer, looked at some of the links you posted. :dizzy:

    This 'buddhist meditation teacher', channels the higher teachings of Adolf Hitler? This is not a monty python sketch, it is not an elaborate joke. We can not parody or make a joke ... surely ...

    A while ago I might have questioned such a kook. Shamballah would do well to ensure no association with his channelling. However that might not happen. He also has some nasal problem? Is he channelling something up his nose?

    What can be said? [shrug]

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Jayantha said:

    and I'm well aware of Mr. Ruhe, found his videos a few years ago. If you are a local of him check out Ajahn Sona, who is his monastic teacher and is very good. He was actually ordained and lived here at Bhavana Society years back.

    Ajahn Sona is no longer his teacher as far as I am aware? Ajahn Sona is a reputable and sane Buddhist meditation teacher and monastic as far as I am aware.

    Mr Ruhe is a Hitler kook. Should Hitler kooks be allowed to teach Buddhist meditation to for example David Icke or lizard people? I do not think you can stop crazies that easily but 'delusional' people like this are potentially very dangerous. He made the statement in one of his videos 'Nazis are good people'. Que?

    Should he be watched, exposed and isolated from any self respecting healthy sangha? Or should we have a dharma sign 'kooks welcome'?

    Is my judgement kooky? Picnicking in hell ... fun for all the family ...

    Invincible_summerCinorjer
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited June 2015

    Well, he's just another weirdo out there who takes a bit of guru-speak and mixes it with whatever obsessions he's really interested in. I've seen someone try to do it with Zen (I wonder if zenmar is still kicking around?) and I suppose if we can have a Tulku movie star who drives tanks into people's houses, a kook who wants to worship Hitler isn't going to make a difference.

    It's been my observation that most people have a pretty good "inner compass" where even a teacher who insists on absolute trust can fail to pass the smell test. If it smells bad, don't do it. It it seems stupid and crazy, don't believe it.

    lobsterInvincible_summerRowan1980
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Aren't ALL Teachers in Buddhism, questionable...?

    Cinorjerajhayes
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    You wouldn't think so to listen to some people who just seem to bow down.

    Invincible_summer
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Cinorjer said:
    It's been my observation that most people have a pretty good "inner compass" where even a teacher who insists on absolute trust can fail to pass the smell test. If it smells bad, don't do it. It it seems stupid and crazy, don't believe it.

    Agreed.
    Beginners mind. Common sense. Good reminder. B)

    Cinorjer
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I think that's true, if it evokes curiosity...

    "Wait...what...? Hang on......"

    If I'm honest - and I don't mean to start a religions debate - this is partly what led me away from Catholicism... The 'wait, what, hang on' questions were either never answered satisfactorily (for me) or they were swept aside as infantile, ignorant, irrelevant and trivial. probably because whomever I was asking, actually didn't have a clue either....

    It's not so much the questions we ask that matter.
    It's the answers we get....

    lobsterCinorjer
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @federica said:
    Aren't ALL Teachers in Buddhism, questionable...?

    Yes, and this point has been brought up several times (sorry to pick on your specific reply, federica). But I feel like that is sort of beside the point, since "questionable" in this instance does not mean "free to scrutinize," but more along the lines of "dodgy."

    @Jason said:
    Personally, I don't think it actually damages the Buddha's teachings, or the Dhamma they're pointing towards. The truth of 'things as they are' isn't changed/harmed by poor teachers. What's really damaged are the people who put their faith and trust in those who perpetuate harmful teachings that are contrary to the true spirit of the Dhamma (e.g., those justifying hate, intolerance, or violence), which is truly unfortunate, and we should try to do whatever we can to steer people away from them.

    And although I do tend to agree with @Cinorjer that people do tend to have a decent inner compass when it comes to kooks, I can't help but to wonder how much responsibility we have to steer people away from said kooks.

    Cinorjer
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @Invincible_summer said:
    I can't help but to wonder how much responsibility we have to steer people away from said kooks.

    Total responsibility. To question, inform, report and allow kooks to provide an explanation of how and why 'channelling Hitler' is anything other than lunacy. The problem with someone like Herr Ruhe, is the lucidity and capacity to provide and facilitate meditation instruction confuses some.

    As a weirdo and kook myself [one of my many kinks] I make it abundantly clear to others not to follow my cushion fetish or other perversions, unless the merit is apparant.

    I think it is unskilfull to take no judgement, no warning, no effort. That makes almost tacit approval or ignorant ignoring. I consider the behavour of the informed Buddhist community is responsible.

    I condemn Mr Ruhe as ignorant and dangerous. Potentially sanity is open to kookendom but he is not practicing any form of Buddhist dharma I recognise and that includes wrathful practices.

    What is your feeling?

    silverInvincible_summer
  • Just out of curiosity, has anyone explored or investigated what and why this guy is saying about Hitler? I haven't. But whenever anyone comes out talking controversial things I do wonder why. It's easy to say someone is nuts or whatever, but there really is no honest substitute for investigation. My feeling is that if I want to condemn anyone or anything then I need to investigate and understand for myself, otherwise I should stay quiet.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited June 2015

    @mindatrisk said:
    Just out of curiosity, has anyone explored or investigated what and why this guy is saying about Hitler? I haven't. But whenever anyone comes out talking controversial things I do wonder why. It's easy to say someone is nuts or whatever, but there really is no honest substitute for investigation. My feeling is that if I want to condemn anyone or anything then I need to investigate and understand for myself, otherwise I should stay quiet.

    I looked at his youtube channel and glanced through his writing. He is making videos with titles like "Zionist lies about WWII" and talks about revisionist history. Also in his rambling he mentions not to donate to cancer cure organizations, because he can point you to the real way to cure cancer. I don't think the jury is out on this one. Whatever good the guy is doing and whatever he's teaching in his classes, it's not Buddhism. It seems to be mainstream neo-Nazi with a touch of mysticism on the side.

  • @Cinorjer said:
    I looked at his youtube channel and glanced through his writing. He is making videos with titles like "Zionist lies about WWII" and talks about revisionist history. Also in his rambling he mentions not to donate to cancer cure organizations, because he can point you to the real way to cure cancer. I don't think the jury is out on this one. Whatever good the guy is doing and whatever he's teaching in his classes, it's not Buddhism. It seems to be mainstream neo-Nazi with a touch of mysticism on the side.

    Oh well I happen to agree on the cancer issue, as I know many do now. I don't think that is too controversial. I might watch his video.

  • Sure. I also don't donate to various large organizations because they've become income generating machines for the people who run them or otherwise care more about politics then helping people. I suppose the question is, can someone divorce their political activism and firmly held beliefs from the meditation hall where you're teaching the Dharma?

    Invincible_summer
  • @Cinorjer said:
    Sure. I also don't donate to various large organizations because they've become income generating machines for the people who run them or otherwise care more about politics then helping people. I suppose the question is, can someone divorce their political activism and firmly held beliefs from the meditation hall where you're teaching the Dharma?

    Maybe, maybe not. I don't even know the Dalai Lama manages that or not. I don't even know if it matters.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Cinorjer said:> I looked at his youtube channel and glanced through his writing. He is making videos with titles like "Zionist lies about WWII" and talks about revisionist history. Also in his rambling he mentions not to donate to cancer cure organizations, because he can point you to the real way to cure cancer. I don't think the jury is out on this one. Whatever good the guy is doing and whatever he's teaching in his classes, it's not Buddhism. It seems to be mainstream neo-Nazi with a touch of mysticism on the side.

    He sounds highly dubious.

    Invincible_summerlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @SpinyNorman is being gentlemanly. Which of course is a high ideal and the epitome of Dharma, understatement and something even us gals, foreign species and lesser hinayanists rightly aspire to ...

    ... meanwhile ...
    http://www.watkinsmagazine.com/after-the-disillusionment-the-spiritual-path

  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    I stumbled upon this post on Dhammawheel that purports that Ajahn Sona had requested Mr. Ruhe to cease his affiliation with Birken Forest Monastery and Ven. Sona himself, which Mr. Ruhe didn't do until recently.

    On Mr. Ruhe's website, now he claims affiliation with the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, and even links to the Forest Sangha website. What a guy.

  • yagryagr Veteran

    I often play devil's advocate for clarity; this isn't one of those times.

    The Buddha told his followers (more or less, I'm sure there's a better translation out there somewhere) believe nothing, merely because you have been told it or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.

    But really, how many people truly do that when confronted with robe covered bald guys? And then we get reminders...like this. If there wasn't anyone dodgy in the religion I was first programmed into by my family, the community I was raised in, and the church - I'd probably still be Catholic.

    We speculate about the harm someone like this does, but is there no benefit?

    Christianity never gets off the ground without a certain disciple betraying Jesus. We can debate the merits of that and probably get to an unskillful place, but without an errant disciple here and there...

    Invincible_summer
  • Invincible_summerInvincible_summer Heavy Metal Dhamma We(s)t coast, Canada Veteran

    @yagr - I suppose one overt benefit is a discussion on Right Speech and the fundamentals of the Dhamma, both of which are not expressed by promoting Hitler as a misunderstood visionary

    yagrlobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    "Thoughts?"

    If that's the way the/their karma flows-that's the way the/their karma flows...It will all come out in the karmic wash....

    Rowan1980
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Invincible_summer said:
    yagr - I suppose one overt benefit is a discussion on Right Speech and the fundamentals of the Dhamma, both of which are not expressed by promoting Hitler as a misunderstood visionary

    Where the heck does everyone think Hitler got his idea for the Nazi swatika...? Saw something great, wonderful and good - and promptly turned it on its head.

    'nuff said.... :rage:

    Invincible_summer
  • Hitler, Stain, and the rest of their ilk were and are ruthless dictators. They have and will usurp and warp whatever they feel will help them gain and hold power. That is the nature of absolute despots and dictators. As for the supposed "teacher" and ex-Theravada monastic, he is dangerous in that he is both bigoted and willing to mislead well intended seekers into his hellish web.

    As for teachers, everyone is a teacher. We must each discern whether the lessons taught are good or bad, positive or negative. As for true teachers or mentors, they do not choose you, you chose your teacher, your mentor, your guide.

    Chose well my friend. B)

    BunksInvincible_summerlobster
  • BrianRuheBrianRuhe Vancouver, Canada New
    edited September 18

    Well! I am the Brian Ruhe you are all so concerned about. After seven years I just now discovered this blog, LOL! B) . I still stand up for my views after all these years. Over 90% of people don't know that we have been grossly lied to about Adolf Hitler. Like my website byline, I claim to be Canada's highest standard of truth and I invite anyone in the world to a debate on that.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited September 17

    Meh. No one is talking about this old thread. Certainly, not concerned.

    I flagged it.

    Still miss Cinorjer. :( . ❤️

    Shoshin1
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited September 18

    @lobster said:

    ooh I feel all kinda righteous and superior ... must be time to take a cold shower ... must remember my flagelation whip, carton of Mr Buddha Whippy and picture of Adolf ...

    Whelp, at least we're all finally getting around to taking our cold showers!

    On the plus side. I missed this the first time around so at least now I know to avoid this apparently anti Semitic, alien worshiping teacher . Thanks @BrianRuhe for making me aware!

    KotishkaVastmindShoshin1lobster
  • Aaawww …
    Do I need to start the following threads:

    • Is David Icke a lizard
    • Are trolls real
    • How knot to think (with examples)
    • Are Christians still suitable lion fodder
    • Unspeakable acts of Silence

    I will be planning my next Pole dance if anybody needs me
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qutb

  • In a sense there are no bad teachers...They all have something to teach, especially when it come to the ego....

    I still stand up for my views after all these years. Over 90% of people don't know that we have been grossly lied to about Adolf Hitler. Like my website byline, I claim to be Canada's highest standard of truth

  • Exactly so @Shoshin1

    This is precisely where the potential for misunderstanding occurs. It is possible to be discerning but some of us are not. Many of us are caught in aspects of our 'experience bubble' or personal preferences. Some are gross or heavily distorted and that is why our beloved moderators protect us from these ridiculous and detrimentally unbalanced egos/beings/delusions.

    Hello and goodbye. Anti-semitism is not welcomed at our site. You can debate this nonsense elsewhere.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited September 20

    It's not even to protect y'all, because I feel like everyone here has enough discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff. My main goal is to make this a safe place for everyone and prevent it from becoming a platform for Holocaust deniers and apologists for Adolf fucking Hitler. lol

    howShoshin1lobsterJeroen
  • Tee hee @Jason

    No compassion for human chaff. I gets it. Nothing more challenging than not engaging with our or others delusions …

    Wait … eh … that is the path … [lobster gone wrong again]?

    Undiscerning crustacean denying Nothing of any consequence …
    https://tricycle.org/magazine/practical-advice-regarding-spiritual-teachers/

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