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GSTF statement on the broadcast of the film “Buddhism – abuse in the name of enlightenment” on SRF Sternstunden Religion

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On January 01, 2023, Swiss television SRF broadcast a documentary entitled "Buddhism - the law of silence" - the creators of which also published a book of the same name. The behavior of individual Buddhist clerics described in the report and in the book, who are accused of sexual abuse and physical violence, are completely unacceptable for the GSTF and those who practice them, in our opinion, are beyond any true spirituality. We particularly condemn acts against children and young people in their care. It is the responsibility of the law enforcement authorities in each country to prosecute any illegal activity as soon as it becomes known.

«The Tibetan Buddhism" does not exist. The specifically Tibetan form of Buddhism knows different schools of practice, which, however, do not have the authority to issue instructions to higher authorities. The Dalai Lama, as a spiritual authority for Tibetans, has no formal "oversight" over these Buddhist clerics. On the contrary, he keeps asking practitioners to examine and question not only religious teachers, but also himself!

In several documented statements, the Dalai Lama has spoken out strongly against practices accused of abusing the trust of their students by Buddhist clerics. He has also called on people affected by abuses to report such acts to law enforcement. The allegations are characteristically sectarian excesses from which no religion, including Buddhism, is immune.

We don't want to question the credibility of the victims in this documentary in any way, let alone attempt a victim-perpetrator reversal. However, the GSTF is of the opinion that the filmmakers, by including the Dalai Lama and some interviewees from his environment, are exploiting his worldwide fame and constructing responsibilities that do not factually exist. The makers are pushing those who are actually accused of abuse out of focus. The main allegations of abuse in the documentary target individual Buddhist teachers. The Dalai Lama is only accused of belatedly distancing himself from these people.

There is also no justification for creating references from abuse incidents to the large Tibetan community in Switzerland.

The GSTF hopes that victims will quickly receive the justice they deserve through the legal processes in each country where abuse has occurred.

Thomas Büchli, President of the GSTF and Lhawang Ngorkhangsar, Vice-President of the GSTF

Statement of the GSTF from January 1.1.2023st, XNUMX:

Criticism of monasteries in Europe 20230102SRF article by Christian Walther and link to the film in Sternstunden:

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