(The Dalai Lama is pointing at you NKT!)
This is our fourth foray into the land of Buddhism, Cults and Cult-like behaviours across mainstream Buddhist groups. Let’s be honest, this topic is always perversely interesting. If you missed out on our past episodes covering these topics, there are links and short intros below to those past episodes, which were a lot of fun to record with old co-host Stuart Baldwin.
For our latest journey, we interview Dr Michelle Haslam, PhD, a clinical psychologist who ran afoul of the machinations of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and has since written a psychological report on their tactics and set up a resource site filled with testimonies from ex-followers along with articles to warn the general public about their oft dysfunctional behaviour. She shares some of the horrendous tactics employed against her after leaving the group and discusses some of her psychological analysis of the NKT, their practices and group dynamics.
Michelle has had a dreadful website put together by a phantom psychologist (a hungry ghost perhaps?), who doesn’t actually appear to exist in the real world. This was done immediately after she published her report on the NKT. It’s defamatory and quite sad and makes awful claims about her. Be your own judge of it should you stumble on it. She is also currently working in an undisclosed location despite mentioning that she has worked in safeguarding in the interview previously.
The introduction for this episode involves an added presentation on cults that ties together the multiple themes from our last episodes on the topic and concludes our forays into cult-land. If you have heard it all before, you can skip it by jumping to the interview proper at 37.10.
Note: Those who critique the New Kadampa Tradition often end up being trolled, attacked, and threatened by folks who hide their identities and usually claim to not be any part of the NKT. It is obviously difficult to prove that they are, so I am putting this here as a potential warning so that you dear listener can make up our own mind about who is to blame if this podcast should come under attack. Trolling is highly likely in either case.
Here are the links to Michelle’s sites and other resources, which are all highly recommended;
Our past episodes on cults;
04. IBP: cults, cultish shennanigans & Buddhist groups
In this first episode on cults, Stuart & I discuss Buddhist cults and cultish behaviour across Buddhist groups. We look at how cultish behaviours manifest in even innocuous Buddhist groups. We discuss the wider implications of the tradeoff between belonging and autonomy, and the three core theories that explain why people get involved in cultish groups in the first place. We also look at the difference between cults and new religious movements and the difficulty in the academic world of naming the former. To avoid such a trap, we focus on cultish behaviours and ask to what degree each of the organisations we discuss exhibits them. We invite listeners to consider to what degree their own Buddhist group may exhibit such behaviours and why they are present. We cover the NKT, Rigpa, Shambhala, Michael Roach and Maitreya Ron Spenser.
05. IBP: Tenzin Peljor on leaving a Buddhist cult
In this episode, we interview the wonderfully insightful Tenzin Peljor, an ordained German Buddhist monk. Tenzin is no ordinary monk, however, he is a crusader for clarity and right information, particularly in the world of Tibetan Buddhism, where he is committed to shining a light on untruth. He runs two English language sites which provide a wealth of information and resources including interviews with noted Buddhist Studies academics, and exposes of cultish behaviour. He is also one of the best informed individuals regarding the New Kadampa Tradition and as an ex-member himself writes with great clarity in order to dispel the myths propagated by that group. Here he tells the story of his involvement with the NKT and what it was that drove him to leave. We also discuss aspects of a monk’s life and explore important texts that help with leaving behind western romanticism of Tibet.
27. IBP: Why not join a cult? Stuart & Matthew go deep into cult-land.
Why wouldn’t you want to join a cult? That’s a question Stuart and I get round to addressing in this episode of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. We also find time to cover Alison Mack and life after Smallville in a sex cult, the enigmatic guru Miranda, the latest mew age Maitreya to turn up, and a number of other cults we missed out on the first time round. Stuart brings his new found insights into super-powered hypno-wonder, and I reveal my disappointing IQ as we skirt around topical issues such as…IQ and the Alt-Right, existential crises and why being in a cult can actually be fun. We get in some conspiracy theories, give a mention to Michelle Pfeiffer, and even manage to spend a few words on Buddhism in the process.