Basic Goodness - Episode 1

Episode One looks at sexual abuse allegations that surfaced in the Shambhala Buddhist community and explores the power imbalances in guru-student relationships. We ask why this keeps happening in spiritual communities around the world and hear from Shambhala's board of directors.

“You’ve pledged your body and soul”: sexual abuse allegations in the Shambhala Buddhist community

A sun sets behind a Buddha statue in Phuket, Thailand. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

At the heart of Shambhala Buddhism, there lies a beautiful idea: every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness. 

This teaching has been severely tested by reports of sexual abuse at the highest levels of Shambhala world headquarters in Halifax, N.S. and beyond.

Episode One examines the very particular kind of damage caused by abuse within a spiritual community. What happens when your meditation practice requires you to visualize the face of your abuser as a divine being? What is it about the way spiritual groups are organized and their practices that can help lay the groundwork for abuse?

Guests include:

Carol Merchasin — retired lawyer who investigates allegations of abuse in spiritual communities

Phil Cass — a member of the Shambhala Board of Directors

Carol Penner — Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Conrad Grebel University College. She worked as a pastor in various Mennonite congregations

Matthew Remski — author of Practice and All is Coming: Abuse, Cult Dynamics, and Healing in Yoga and Beyond