SANGHAPALA in IRELAND
This document was prepared quite some time ago. Due to recent interest from a number of different interested parties I have found it necessary to readdress some of the earlier entries and modify according to changing circumstances. So for the time being consider it to be still as a work in progress.
In recent times Sanghapala, Ron O’ Murchu entered mistakenly into a very public debate concerning myself and my family on the internet through a news base, Indymedia. I feel the need, therefore to address some of the issues which he raised and, as they say ‘ put the record straight ‘ At the outset I’ll insert a brief example of his misguided thinking :
‘Sadly, there are a number of untrue quotes on this website and on ‘Dialogue
Ireland’ which are presented as though they came from 3 or 4 separate
individuals when in fact they all come from the same man complaining about the fwbo and
complaining about me.
This man is my partner’s ex of 16 years ago’.
Throughout the course of this lengthy debate he wrestles with quite a number of different individuals of mixed gender and faith systems in an attempt to justify his erratic and irrational behaviour since his arrival here in 1990. I was completely unaware that this debate was under way until it was brought to my attention by Mike Garde of Dialogue Ireland. Mike is well known in Irish society for the invaluable work that he engages in, bringing to public attention the activities of various nefarious groups taking advantage of societies most vulnerable in their efforts to seek peace of mind. I do not know any of the people with whom Sanghapala argues and offends. To the best of my knowledge the only untrue quotes are his. Both himself and Paola Catizone have undertaken an unnecessary campaign of character assassination against me personally over many years in an attempt to justify their salacious and lascivious behaviour and it is only in recent times that some elements have been preserved to record along with further material not directly pertinent to this situation but relevant nonetheless. As a direct result of this my relationship with my children has been damaged. Hopefully with the passage of time they will reach a clearer and more objective understanding of how this unfortunate situation has come to pass. I believe that there is a ‘bigger picture’ here other than a personal one which merits comment. In this respect I have taken some trouble to research even further back in time in an effort to reach a better understanding of the situation myself.
In relation to the FWBO ( Friends of the Western Buddhist Order ): As the debate about the continued existence of the fwbo doesn’t rage as much as it did following the expose in the ‘Guardian’ some points are still worth profiling. Sanghapala, one of Sangharakshitas most dedicated and devoted disciples continues to practice in Ireland and abroad. Numerous references have been made in relation to Sanghapala over the years and it is worth remembering at least some of them. The FWBO FILES, a comprehensive compilation and account of the activities of Sangharakshita and his associates continues to remain in print to date despite the disparagement and unsuccessful intervention of Sanghapala and his cohorts.
“The Guardian” printed an expose on October 27, 1997 titled ‘The Dark Side of Enlightenment’. Curiously and conveniently enough Sanghapala did a disappearing act at the same time, citing ill health in a vainglorious attempt at soliciting undeserved sympathy for himself.
“In late 1997, Sanghapala, another long-standing disciple of Sangharakshita, who had also been extremely sexually active at Padmaloka and who had been subsequently appointed Chair of the FWBO’s Dublin group, went ‘into retreat’ after being accused of repeatedly using his position to coerce members of his congregation into having sex with him. Having emerged from retreat he was immediately reinstated as chair of the group.”
It is quite obvious from this that the abuse which the FWBO have been accused of did not just occur at the hands of one person in one place for a short period in the 1980’s. Various fwbo teachers and senior figures have repeatedly engaged in sexual and psychological abuse since the early 1960’s and this abuse continues right down to the present day. The order claimed in the ‘Guardian’ article that ‘structural reforms’ had been set up in place to ensure that there could be no recurrence of the Croyden scandal. Sanghapalas activities for example, prove that these reforms are not working. How the order can declare then that the basic ethical principles of the fwbo can clearly not be used to legitimise sexual and emotional abuse is a mystery that even the great sages of the past and indeed the present would have found and find it difficult to fathom.
Despite attempts on my behalf, I have not been able to establish if a comprehensive manifesto is in existence, however it is possible to establish from varying sources a general framework within which the order views its role in modern society. A policy of ‘Kalyana Mitrata’ was established which essentially encouraged a sexual relationship between teacher and pupil and supported the belief that this would facilitate ‘spiritual growth’ amongst participants. This unfortunately opened up the potential for abuse amongst those most unscrupulous. Traditional family structures were viewed with nothing short of contempt and I now feel as though we had become unwittingly and unwillingly part of an fwbo experiment in the restructuring of societal norms. Metta Bhavana was practiced rigourously at pre arranged times wherein group members engaged in the transmission of love towards one another in order to strengthen and reinforce the group during times when they were not in each others company in the physical sense. Catizone was always reluctant to discuss this practice with me. It was somewhat of a private affair to which outsiders were not welcome which seemed to me to be a contradiction of purpose considering that the practice of MB purports to be for the benefit of all. This, I believe, is a point which merits serious consideration. Such practice may be one of Sanghapalas own devices by which he isolates group members from family members and creates an enclosed circle with himself central. As the importance of the group grew for Catizone so the importance of the family diminished.
Sangharakshitas ( Dennis Lingwood ) attempts at merging Theravedan and Mahayanic traditions to suit the drug culture prevalent at that time was, in my opinion, doomed to failure. One of the many weaknesses in his approach was the fact that he was prepared to manipulate those most vulnerable to satisfy his perverse nature. Ethics and mores were sacrificed. Dishonesty was acceptable as long as it remained concealed. Unfortunately there were many ‘acid casualties’ during the great LSD experiments of the 60s and 70s. Many went ‘up’ and even less came ‘down’ despite the age old adage. Sangharakshita and many of his earlier followers were present at Hyde Park when the Stones played there, ” E’s not dead, e’s only sleeping” and were also present at the renowned Isle of Wight gig shortly before Hendrixs premature demise and tragic reversal of Jaggers borrowed homily to Brian Jones. Lingwoods dabbling with sex, drugs and rock and roll conferred upon him an acceptable infamy which made him much desired company for the likes of Ginsberg and his contemporaries He was surrounded by admirers and O’ Murchu was one of his most ardent and dedicated disciples. Gradually his following gathered momentum and in all probability he was swept along himself on a wave of success to an unpredictable future.
Below are a number of examples of fwbo dogma and also examples of Sanghapalas stock in trade one liners, some of which he would refer to whilst holding court. I attended a number of his ‘classes’ wherein he employed the use of ‘daka’ in my select direction without effect, I’m glad to say.
Sex and the sect
‘ If you set up a community, you abolish the family at a stroke….the single sex community is probably one of our most powerful means of assault on the existing social set up’- Sangharakshita.
The heterosexual couples….’neurotically dependant on each other and (the) relationship, therefore, is one of mutual exploitation and mutual addiction’- Sangharakshita.
‘Some people might decide to keep clear of unhealthy attachment by happily enjoying a number of different sexual relationships’- Subhuti.
…’a fragile and unwholesome unit. It offers little real stability and happiness and, by virtue of the clinging and delusion that it embodies, is antithetical to spiritual life’- Subhuti.
‘Sexual interest on the part of a male Order member for a male mitra ( novice ) can create a connection which may allow kalayana mitrata ( spiritual friendship) to develop.
‘Some, of course, are predisposed to this attraction, others have deliberately chosen to change their sexual preferences in order to use sex as a medium of kalayna mitrata- and to stay clear of the dangers of male- female relationships without giving up sex’- Subhuti (1986).
” we are after all a sexually active order, always have been, we also have an active dimension of Brahmacharya so we probably have a pretty complete range: order members having sex with each other, with mitras, with friends; with same sex, opposite sex; we have transvestites, and at least one transsexual, etc. etc. We’ve all been ‘experimenting’ away like mad all these years and long may it continue.”
The goings on at Padmaloka, an FWBO community near Norwich where Sangharakshita was resident for much of the 1980s, were more reminiscent of a San Francisco gay bath-house than a ‘Buddhist retreat’. ‘David’ who lived at the centre until 1989, spoke of a general ethos at Padmaloka which clearly facilitated the fulfilment of established Order members personal sexual desires. He himself had been seduced there by Order member Vajrananda when he was only 19 years old. According to David, Vajrananda had a “prolific sexual appetite and engaged in numerous sexual relationships with other young recruits”. He added that at least half of the 20 residents of the centre were involved in similar activities. What is of interest here is the nature of the sexual acts perpetrated by Vajrananda, which exactly replicated the behaviour of the ‘founder’. Quite obviously, these are instances of ‘learned behaviour’.
“I still have a pretty high regard for my teacher” Sanghapala.
In June, 2007, I came upon a number of postings on an unknown site to me at the time. This is the Indymedia site. The initial posting was made by an fwbo stalwart and to the best of my understanding a lecturer at Maynooth, Laurence Cox. Cox is a devotee of Sanghapala, an fwbo aspirant and an anarchist. Rachel Kearns added a piece of her own. I had become aware that the fwbo and Sanghapala had been under investigation for some time and considering that he had played such an instrumental role in bringing about the downfall of my family in his efforts to establish a sexual relationship with my partner and the mother of my children, I also felt that I was entitled to add a piece of my own. I had kept my own counsel about the matter for more than a decade, however the recent behaviour of both Catizone and O’ Murchu prompted me to make a posting. It was a reasonably innocuous piece and to the best of my knowledge that was the end of the matter. Sanghapala had been Paolas personal teacher in the meditative practices as approved of by the order and had cultivated a close intimate relationship with her without my knowledge initially. I suppose that I was a bit naive at the time and should have realised that when they started to ‘practice’ privately at his flat on Raglan Road that something other than an interest in the ‘Dharma’ was under way. It is interesting to note that on his personal blog he continues to promote and encourage ‘one to one’ engagement between himself and clients in private. These are circumstances in which people who may be experiencing personal difficulties are at their most vulnerable and opportunists their most dangerous. In situations wherein personal weaknesses may be revealed trust is paramount otherwise exploitation may occur. It is important therefore to examine practitioners bona fides and track records. Does Sanghapalas track record stand up to scrutiny?
Initially Catizone and myself had met as students of philosophy and shared a great deal of interest in common well before the children arrived. I have been well versed in many differing belief systems over a great number of years as has Catizone. We had studied Taekwando together . Her preferred form of expression was yoga and dance and mine, Tai Chi, music and art. Buddhism was also a high point of interest which we both shared, yet it was not always necessary for us to do everything together. Regardless of how much interest we might have shared in any particular field, I have always believed that a couple also needs ‘space ‘ in which to grow independently so the fact that Paola joined the fwbo without my company seemed perfectly natural to both of us at the time. I was not familiar however with the order’s ‘ethos’ and did not investigate it as much as I should have. I never found ‘personality’ based groups attractive and in this particular case a high degree of arrogance and spiritual snobbery was very much in evidence. However, let’s first begin with the posting which Cox made.
Dublin – Event Notice
Dé hAoine Márta 02 2007
Buddhists for Peace
Cox; email : lcox@ iol. ie
An evening of meditation, Dharma talk and discussion
Friday, March 2nd, 7.30 – 10 pm
Dublin Buddhist Centre, 42 Lr Leeson St (basement), D2.
As warfare continues in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Israel / Palestine…
As the fear of terror remains part of everyday life in the West…
As soldiers, weapons and torture flights pass through Shannon…
What does Buddhism have to offer….
Rachel Kearns added a piece :
Dublin Buddhist Centre/ FWBO
author by Rachel Kearns
Before anyone goes to meditation for peace in Dublin Buddhist Centre, they might want to read this. Family members of people involved in the centre in Leeson Street have been on RTE radio a few times this week talking about issues such as those outlined in this article. I have no gripe with Buddhism or any other religion but believe people should know the full story on groups before diving in.
From “The Guardian” on October 27, 1997
The Dark side of Enlightenment
Exclusive investigation by Madeleine Bunting
In a small network of streets around the old fire station in Bethnal Green, East London, can be found Britain’s last revolutionaries. But these are no socialist workers – they are the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, one of Britain’s biggest and fastest growing Buddhist organisations. They believe they are evolving the Higher Individual and the New Society according to the 2,500-year-old principles of the Buddha, as adapted for the late 20th century by their revered leader, Sangharakshita – formerly known as Dennis Lingwood. They might be called the last remnants of sixties’ hippie idealism.
Some – and they include many senior Buddhists – watch their success with alarm, and privately accuse them of peddling a quixotic ideology which owes as much to Nietszche and 20th century psycho-therapy as to a highly eclectic pot-pourri of eastern Buddhist traditions.
The nerve centre of this now international religious organisation – with bases in Spain, Germany, the US and Australia, as well as in 30 UK locations – is an enormous Victorian house on a leafy street in Moseley, Birmingham. There, Subhuti (formerly Alex Kennedy), widely regarded as Sangharakshita’s righthand man, admits that he has been waiting for a journalist to stumble on this murky past. “Thank God it’s not the News of the World,” he comments.
Nine years ago, one of the flagship FWBO centres spectacularly imploded in a welter of allegations of homosexual abuse, personality destruction and manipulation. It bore all the characteristics of a cult as Subhuti admits, and it left at least 30 people badly damaged psychologically. “People got caught in a collective delusion, a group psychosis which was very interesting but distressing,” Subhuti says.
Subhuti insists that the scandal was unique and due to a follower of Sangharakshita, a manipulative individual who subsequently left the movement. It can never be repeated, he emphatically asserts. But there are others who disagree and who argue that Sangharakshita’s teachings – which are intensively studied by members – can be used to legitimise sexual and emotional manipulation.
What makes these revelations potentially so damaging to the FWBO is that they implicate its very founder. The 700 Order members and 1,400 mitras (novices) perceive Sangharakshita as a man of great spiritual insight and compassion. But Mark Dunlop tells another story. In 1972, as a 22-year-old curious about Buddhism, he started a FWBO meditation class. Singled out by Sangharakshita, he became his virtually constant companion for years.
“He would want to have sexual contact about twice a week on average. He usually said something like, ‘Let me just lie beside you for a while’. I dreaded hearing this but felt mean and selfish if I thought of refusing. It was distressing, but some of the other Buddhist practices I had recently learned were themselves strange, such as meditation, but there were apparent benefits.
“He would get into my bed and perhaps stroke my chest for a while. Then he would get on top of me and rub himself against my stomach until he had an orgasm. I found the whole business repellent but at least it didn’t take very long – only about four or five minutes usually. I was completely passive throughout, just waiting for him to finish.
“I felt on balance I had to take his ideas on anti-homosexual conditioning seriously. If I protested he would admonish me that I should not give into conditioning and allow it to inhibit the development of our ‘spiritual friendship’. I kept thinking I would have a breakthrough and would get aroused. I was very embarrassed by the sexual relationship and I saw this as my not being able to accept myself as I was – bisexual. I felt it was my duty to Buddhism and Sangharakshita as the person who was bringing Buddhism to the West.
Sangharakshita, who officially retired last year, although he continues to be the FWBO’s guiding influence, refuses to comment on Dunlop’s allegations, which were first made a decade ago. But he has admitted several times that, after his return from India to England in 1967, he broke his monastic vow of celibacy and “experimented with sex” – “I was just exploring certain things for my own benefit, for the satisfaction of my own curiosity.”
Senior Buddhists have been worried about the FWBO for many years. While unaware of the scandal in the eighties until now – remarkably, no hint of it appears to have gone beyond the FWBO – they had feared just this eventuality, and believe that Sangharakshita’s interpretation of Buddhism can be used to licence sexual and psychological abuse.
Sangharakshita’s and Subhuti’s published writings reveal an extraordinary agenda on sex, family and women. The heterosexual couple is scorned as “mutually addictive and neurotic” and the family is the “enemy of the spiritual community”. Rearing children is dismissed by Sangharakshita in a memorable analogy as being as spiritually significant as a rainy day.
There are other parts of FWBO teaching which gained currency in the seventies and eighties from which it is now anxious to distance itself. Subhuti argued in an FWBO internal magazine in 1986 that a teacher/mentor could use sex as a way of opening up communication with their pupil. Some members tried to raise the alarm, warning that novices were being damaged by sexually predatory teachers.
It is not hard to see how one FWBO centre became a cult. Like any new religious movement, there is a strong tendency to denigrate the outside world in order to strengthen its adherents’ commitment to the movement – Sangharakshita reserves his most contemptuous scorn for a host of evils which include “pseudo-liberalism”, feminism and Christianity. There is always a danger that this leads to a self-referential introversion in which an unscrupulous, charismatic and sexually manipulative personality can run amok.
This was exactly the outcome Stephen Batchelor, a prominent Buddhist commentator and author of Buddhism without Beliefs had always feared in the FWBO as a “potentially totalitarian system”. He says: “They operate as a self-enclosed system and their writings have the predictability of those who believe they have all the answers. They are structured in a rigid hierarchy and do not seem to question the teachings of their leader. As with many new religious movements, their enthusiasm and unconventional convictions have the potential to lead to problems associated with ‘cults’.
A leading Buddhist teacher who did not wish to be named is particularly concerned by the FWBO’s belittling of the family and child rearing, which he argues has traditionally been perceived as a enormous valuable “spiritual training ground” within Buddhist tradition.
It seems that where the FWBO becomes dangerous is when people begin to apply such teaching literally. Some have done so in the past – with devastating consequences. Could they again?
Mike Garde of Dialogue Ireland took an active interest in the debate and made a number of contributions himself. Catizone, at this point, believing that I was cognizant of the situation took it upon herself to write a scurrilous letter about my character to him. I am presently in possession of a copy of this document and will not disclose its content here. Mike became quite concerned at this juncture and wrote to me several times in an attempt to inform me of the situation. When I logged on to the site I was genuinely disbelieving at first. I immediately wrote a short piece, in effect a disclaimer with an addendum that I would write a more informed piece as soon as possible. This piece was printed initially but disappeared overnight. It had in effect been censored.
After some investigation I succeeded in tracing the censorial link back to Laurence Cox. The piece was a simple expression of bewilderment on my behalf with regard to a debate in which I had no part nor knowledge of. On the grounds that this piece might constitute libel against Sanghapala, his meditation teacher, Cox made representations to the editorial team at Indymedia and had it removed. This, of course, confirmed for me that the long finger of the fwbo still stretches out and meddles in the lives of many despite denials on the part of its activists.
This debate is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, It gave me some solace to realise the depth of feeling that many had in relation to the activities of Sanghapala and the fwbo . The fact that this was a public issue of some proportion came as a surprise to me. I had not been aware of the existence of the Files until 2007 and only then realised the contrivance of some of the circumstances behind the breakdown of my family. Up to this point I had felt totally isolated. I would rather that none of this had ever come about, yet I felt some peace of mind knowing that I was not alone in my experience. In subsequent correspondence with Cox he admitted that he had made approaches to the Indymedia editorial team out of ‘concern’ that my contribution had no connective ‘thread’ to the original posting which he was responsible for. He also conceded that he had been approached himself and was apparently acting under instruction. Three guesses as to who is pulling his strings! However, he made no objections to the ensuing postings made by his mentor in relation to mine and these remained and continue to remain in print. The debate was mysteriously frozen denying me the right to reply.
It is interesting to note that the fwbo has an agenda with regard to the indoctrination of children and are pursuing an active campaign targeting educational institutions. Cox is instrumental in this regard and promotes activities focusing on children in such venues as Seomra Spraoi and the Dublin Buddhist Centre on Leeson St. On a site established by Cox ‘ Tools for Change’ he declares that the dept. that he works for teaches childcare. On the same site he also states that he regards Sangharakshitas views as being ‘remarkable for their mildness’.
So who am I?
I’m a first generation Dubliner with both of my parents hailing from Meath, the Royal county so noted for its many historical and geographical places of interest. Most notably the Hill of Tara, the seat of many of the High Kings of Ireland. Newgrange and Kells are just two other geographical places of note amongst a multitude.
My Mother comes from Kells and I spent many memorable Christmas and summer holidays there right up to my Grandmothers demise. Kells is well known for its Round Tower, High Cross and of course the world renowned ‘Book of Kells’ permanently housed at Trinity College.
I was named Colm after ‘Colm’ who established his monastic site there and I had the privilege of visiting his ‘cell’ there and sat upon his ‘seat’ of meditation on many occasions as a very young child. Special permission had to be granted then to access his cell so it was with a sense of privilege that I found occasion to consider and imagine what purpose such a life choice had to offer an exceptionally insightful and intelligent human at that particular point in time. Coincidentally or synchronistically many others such as Boddhidharma were similarly active at that time also.I was always happy with my birth-name and chose not to change it even though Catizone suggested that I should. It is noticeable that many of the people with whom she has engaged in sex with have ‘stage names’.
My Grandmothers house was clothed in multicoloured ivy with the ubiquitous magical hawthorne in the back garden upon which I would hang my shoes by their laces only to discover them resoled and re-heeled the following morning courtesy of the ‘Faerie Folk’ who thrived in abundance everywhere. Such industrious behaviour never seemed to trouble the town cobbler who by chance only happened to live two doors away.I most definitely discovered that there was much more going on in the world apart from the exploits of Roy Rogers and Calamity Jane being just two of the multitudinous heroes that excited and fuelled our imaginations in Dublin, a city governed by Teddy boys, Mods and Rockers
The Round Tower, if the expression may be pardoned, was a mere stones throw away and perhaps in our own fashion we emulated the marauding Vikings by pillaging (progging) the local orchards until we got stomach ache.
The Book of Kells proved to be an invaluable aid to me in my artistic pursuits , the facsimile copy of same having been purchased for me by Catizone in a moment of generosity, and much of the artwork that I ornamented many of the harps that I crafted was inspired by the wonderful work contained therein.
A brief history of my relationship with Paola Catizone.
I have been involved with Paola Catizone more or less since her arrival in Ireland. We have three children together. We have shared a somewhat tempestuous relationship for more than twenty years to date. In all of this time numerous individuals have played their part and our relationship was never entirely exclusive although I must say that I never participated in any sexual trysts outside of the relationship as I felt to do so would have been unnecessarily gratuitous. When I met Catizone I was living a very content life. I had been celibate for about five years and neither drank nor smoked. I had lived abroad and spent some six years living in wonderful Copenhagen where I enjoyed a hedonistic lifestyle for the most of it. When I returned to Ireland I had a clear plan as to where my future lay. It was while studying light philosophy at night classes that we met and shared a great deal of interests in common. We met regularly outside of the classes. I discovered that she came from a respectable family . There had been a number of unfortunate developments during her adolescence and so she found herself living in Ireland having travelled on a one way ticket purchased courtesy of her family. At an early stage she developed Bulimia and her weight increased dramatically. To counteract this she began to indulge in amphetamines and cocaine which were in ready supply in the Canaries at that time. She found it necessary to resort to unorthodox means in order to finance this costly expenditure and her family found it necessary to send her abroad whilst the problem was being dealt with. She has made a number of chronological errors in accounting for this episode in her life. For example in her ‘Bio’ she claims to have studied art in Tenerife between 1984/87.A look at the medical records from the Rotunda here in Dublin clearly verify that she was in fact giving birth to twins in ’87 in Dublin. I attended all of the prenatal classes and indeed struck up correspondence with Janet Baleskas covering all eventualities even the possibility of home birth. During a perusal of hospital notes during one of our visits I came upon a request by Paola for Herpes testing. Considering that I had never had such a problem Paola conceded that she was still having sex, in this case she had traded sex for a hand-knit jumper from a handicapped man who was living at the residence of a previous acquaintance. It had been brought to her attention that the children ran the risk of contracting the disease as they passed through the birth canal. To make matters even more absurd the owner of the ‘jumper’ had the audacity to call to our residence to request its return, it had been a hand-knit made by his Mother and he was lost for an explanation as to its disappearance! Paola was extremely sexually active and always seemed to be enveloped in a cloud of hashish or marijuana smoke.This did not suit my own particular lifestyle and our relationship remained completely platonic until one evening when I paid her a visit at her flat. She was behind once again with her rent and decided to cut the evening short so that she might travel to the city in order to ‘generate’ some money so that the rent might be paid. She was a bit ambiguous as to how such monies might be generated and I delicately chose not to enquire too deeply. Of course I later learned that she had been prostituting on an irregular basis. I persuaded her to stay and we shared an intimate night together. Her rent was met. We shared many intimate moments thereafter but these were not exclusive moments. Paola maintained her busy social lifestyle and it was quite some months later that she informed me that she was pregnant. This, of course, presented us with somewhat of a quandary.Considering that she had been sexually active from a very early age and had never used protection she was of the opinion that she could not bear children. Having tried ‘very hard’ to have a child of mixed race with a number of members of the Jamaican community resident in Gran Canaria she was all the more so convinced that childbearing was not possible. I assumed responsibility and we started to make plans together. I had been giving her instruction in Tai Chi and she already had some basic knowledge of Yoga. There was a ‘Yoga Teacher’ course available in Dublin at that time and I persuaded her to apply. She reluctantly agreed and after some insistence I succeeded in bringing her along for assessment. She was accepted and so in a very short period of time had a set of twins on the way and some future prospects for employment. It is true that we enjoyed a honeymoon period of sorts and even went so far as to purchase wedding rings but alas t’was not to be! Paola could not curtail her flirtatious nature and continued to solicit for sex in a not too discreet manner.The truth of the matter is that she was most unhappy about the pregnancy. She had been involved with someone in Las Palmas whom her parents disapproved of, as it was explained to me.This was a Jamaican gentleman with whom she had endeavoured so hard to bear children for. Apparently his excessive consumption of ‘ganja’ had driven Paola to petty theft and she had been caught pilfering some of the families heirlooms in order to finance his habit. In our little flat in Leinster Sq., she had a small shrine dedicated to him with incense burning regularly about it. On one occasion we went to the city for an evening meal. The background music was performed by Bob Marley and Paola burst into tears through which I could still determine a look of pure malevolence towards me. There is no doubt that Paola always resented me for the fact that her wishes to have children of mixed race had not been realised as she had wanted. It took a long time for me to realise how deep these feelings were and indeed how destructive also.She discussed termination with me but I was fundamentally against it. Early on in the pregnancy there were some unexpected complications, Placenta Praevia, and the doctor ordered extreme rest and for Paola to assume a prone position as much as possible. I had to alter my plans and find work as it came,not being in a ‘steady’ job at that time and so I put my artistic pursuits to one side temporarily or so I thought. There were a number of times when I arrived home unexpectedly to find Paola covered in a lather of sweat brought about by her excessive jogging. She conceded to me on more than one occasion that being pregnant was the worst thing that could have ever befallen her.
I am mentioning these matters now for far too long I have maintained a benign image of Paola when in fact it is undeserving.She has intentionally destroyed all and any relationship that I valued with anyone out of malice and continues to do so. Her manipulation of three innocent children has been disgraceful and wholly self-serving. She developed acute forms of pre and post natal depression. The local health authority approved for home help and a woman came for two hours daily while Paola practiced her yoga upstairs.When the twins were born three of her sisters came to live with us for years. Sometimes it felt as though I were living in the waiting room of a continental railway station.Some of them had been raised with Italian as the predominant language and others with Spanish. We were living in a two up two down artisan dwelling in Harolds Cross, hardly palatial! It was not uncommon for me to arrive home after a hard days work to find Paola entertaining her family members and an assortment of others, fwbo etc. with a kitchen full of used dishes and utensils and no food left even to prepare a solitary meal for myself. I had to pinch myself on many occassions in wonder as to how I had arrived at such a point so distant from my intentions not too many years past. Needless to say any and all monies generated by her from her yoga efforts remained exclusively hers, thankfully, she paid for her many weekend ‘retreats’ from this fund. It is not my intention to denigrate or humiliate the Mother of my Children. After many years it did seem at one point that we had resolved many of those early issues until Sanghapala arrived on the scene. It was clear from the outset that he held no regard or respect for the sensitivities of others. He had no difficulty roaming through the yoga class to which he was a visitor touching people ‘correcting’ their posture uninvited. He extended an invitation to Paola to contact him for private meditation classes, a trick which she herself began to employ except that she would select pupils and invite them for ‘private’ yoga classes. With retrospection it became clear to me that there was an element of ‘competition’ in the relationship. Paolas need for recognition superseded almost all else. At one point she secured a position instructing prisoners at Portlaoise. It was unviable economically yet offered other ‘rewards’. Performing before a ‘captive’ audience had its dividends and what constituted her essentials for the class were a leotard and a bag full of cosmetics. Undoubtedly she derived pleasure from these classes as slim line liners were deemed essential lest her natural hormonal responses gave the game away. I feel that I am mentioning aspects of those situations which are unnecessary so I will desist from any further comment. Suffice to say that she had an exceptional sexual imperative which bordered on incontinence.I believe that her feeling that she had not explored her sexuality fully enough at that time became more accentuated after she joined the fwbo and started receiving private initiation and instruction from Sanghapala himself. Her weekend workshops began to increase at an alarming rate but it was only a matter of time before a slip up would occur and the full extent of her sexual activities became known to me.
This was the source of some pain and distress for me personally but not entirely because of the infidelities involved. Catizone undertook a campaign of destruction against me without my knowledge initially. In order to protect and preserve her ‘reputation’ she wrote scurrilous letters about me to others and again it was only a matter of time before they would come to my attention. I suppose what really shocked me in these matters were that both herself and sanghapala were presenting themselves as ‘spiritual’ guides and counsellors to the public. I have found it necessary to collect much of their ‘work’ as evidence of their campaign and it is available for perusal.On reflection I often wonder how I managed to endure the situation for so long . It was undoubtedly for the children yet Catizone eventually succeeded in destroying that association as well. Perhaps our son is ‘genuinely’ homosexual however there is no doubt in my mind that the influence of a domineering woman has had significant impact here. Her promotion of ‘single sex species’ is well known through her own experimentation. I sincerely hope that the road that Jimmy is on does not cause unnecessary heartache.Appeasing Sanghapala appears to have overruled a Mothers natural instincts to look out for her child and not one of her sexual pleasurers. There is not a shadow of doubt that the ‘breakdown’ which I experienced was brought about by Catizones concerted efforts to destroy another fellow traveller on life’s wondrous journey. I believe that I was gradually reduced to chauffeur status driving Catizone indeed to some of her ‘engagements’ believing otherwise with the children in the backseats listening to her harangue about arriving late for her rendevous. Usually because of the secrecy involved she would get directions mixed up and become confused. Extraordinarily one of her complaints was that she was ‘under my thumb’! Hindsight is a revealing thing. Catizone continues to promote herself now in different guises. She now focuses on younger people drawing to the FWBO through her yoga and her involvement with NCAD, the National College of Art in Dublin. She has undertaken the production of short films based on sexual uncertainties which offer the potential for exploitation.As for Sanghpala.
I believe that he continues to promote his maverick brand of Buddhism and whatever his position is today in regard to his reinvention of himself the legacy of his actions continues to live on. The fact that he has chosen to deny that he has deliberately used his position to engage his students in sex regardless of their personal status is one of the reasons which has prompted me to prove otherwise. By denying his actions publicly he is in fact conceding that he himself recognises that his behaviour is inappropriate. In July ’98 following the expose in the Guardian he made a number of statements concerning the practice of kalyana mitrata. Up till this point sex between pupil and teacher had been regarded as one of the ‘perks’ of the job.
‘ My heart and soul rise up in disgust at some of the word play and rationalisation that I have absorbed over the last twenty years’.
Here he is paying lip service to observations which I had made in relation to his behaviour some eight years earlier. Had the rupee eventually dropped? Although he proclaims to have realised the errors of his ways in the past his ongoing activities belie any believable conviction. His re:emergence in recent years show that he simply intended to pick up again where he had left off. It is significant that he continues to engage select groups in prolonged bouts of ‘sitting’ in remote places such as Sandville House, Co. Cavan where the use of Metta Bhavana is employed intensively as was the case almost twenty years ago.
Following the furore played out on Indymedia Sanghapala took it upon himself to contact me directly. The content of these communications are almost self explanatory and I will furnish some pertinent elements here. He states that he has no intention of defending an organisation which he left many years ago yet continues to describe criticism of the same as ‘effluent, sewage and toilet graffiti ‘.
‘I finished with the FWBO in 2000, after twenty years of loyal service.’
On discovering that he now had developed a serious ‘malaise’ Sanghapala made approaches to the fwbo for support and was disappointed to discover that they were not interested. It was a combination of this development and his own shrewd assessment of the situation that prompted him to jump ship in an endeavour to save himself. His ‘shock, horror’ posturings in relation to the sexual abuse that was prevalent at Padmaloka was and remains wholly unconvincing.
‘Why ever would someone involve themselves in an organisation for ten years if it was unsuitable?’
This is an example of Sanghapala ridiculing Guy Jones, one of Barnhams many victims.
‘Where are all the wronged individuals? Where do we see the name of just one single person who is prepared to come forward?’
In relation to the FWBO files ‘Comical and clearly anti- buddhist’?
In relation to his early activities in promoting the FWBO ‘ Comical’
In relation to Sangharakshita ‘ I still have a pretty high regard for my teacher.’
In relation to my expression of concern about his proximity to my three young children
‘You have no jurisdiction over them so you’ll just have to get on with it John’
My name isn’t John, maybe he’s thinking of another family. There is mention in ‘Shabda’, an fwbo internal magazine about some disquiet concerning his involvement with a ‘married woman’ which was the cause of some pain and confusion in Dublin. This is not in relation to my own particular situation.
After arriving in Dublin Sanghapala began scouting yoga classes soliciting for business. I was present the evening that he approached Paolas class. She was not driving independently at the time and I used drive her to the classes, collect her afterwards, sometimes staying and participating and on occasion taking the classes myself if it was not possible for her to do so. He introduced himself and talked incessantly throughout the class, wiggling around the floor showing off to the great amusement of all present during the break, demonstrating the training he had already received, probably at Padmaloka. By the end of the evening he was clearly pleased with himself. He engaged Catizone in conversation about the fwbo and invited her to join him in meditation or at the very least to attend one of his meditation groups which she did. Funnily enough at the time we both agreed on the way home that we had just encountered one serious attention seeker. This is the occasion wherein he claims that he was her student. The fact that he never returned to that class again appears to be of no import. I know that he did not subscribe financially for that one class which would have been the norm. for the time. Rather than accept responsibility for his own actions he has chosen to imply that Catizone herself abused the teacher/pupil association.
One of his submissions to Indymedia and in his correspondence with me he states ‘Like him,(me) she too is not a member of the fwbo and never was. I did not meet her at an fwbo class. I met her long before I started fwbo classes and years before there was any fwbo. I met her as a student at her yoga class and after their relationship had finished.’
He arrived in Dublin in December 1990. In March he started ‘teaching activities’ with a public talk on ‘Buddhist Ethics!’. Three meditation courses followed which led to the establishment of a regular ‘Friends Group’, the first stage of induction into the fwbo. Paola Catizone was by now a dedicated pupil, attending meetings with him at every available opportunity. A photograph in the ‘Golden Drum’ March 1991, clearly shows them sitting beside one another whilst on ‘retreat’ at the Co. Cavan retreat centre ( Sandville House ) where Sanghapala was lecturing ‘Buddhist Ethics’.
‘Myself and my current partner initially met 16 years ago then parted for over a decade.
While we were apart I initially had other partners and I then spent seven years as a monk
practising total chastity of body, speech and mind. This came to an end three years ago when
I once again became involved with my former partner.’
I don’t think that it is necessary for me to state that these accounts of events are peculiarly baffling to say the least.
Catizone always seemed to have some volume of Sangharakshitas work with her and was undoubtedly captivated by his envoy, although her devotion to Sanghapala was not exclusive. I was aware that she was involved with another pupil but didn’t realise the extent of the sexual activities of the group at the time. Apparently it was not necessary for them to be together in the physical sense on a continuous basis.
I felt then and still feel that such behaviour is antithetical to Buddhist practice as anyone who has considered ‘The Eightfold Path’ with sincerity knows, teachings which they both declare to observe. In this respect I do not believe that he is deserving of the title ‘Dharmachari’ nor indeed ‘Sanghapala’ which in its translation means ‘protector of the spiritual community’ and indeed is nothing more than a pompous title which was conferred upon him by a tin pot didactic, his teacher, Sangharakshita. Perhaps a revisiting to the ‘Right Living, Right Action and Right Speech’ aspects in particular might remind him of elements of Buddhism which he has so evidently forgotten. For some strange reason after 35 years of dedicated practice he appears to have missed the essence of the teachings himself.
These relatively recent disclosures have been the cause of some confusion for the children, primarily, as they are unaware of any chronological record of this association. I believe that it behoves both Catizone and O’Murchu to offer some credible and truthful explanation as a sign of respect at the very least now that they have been made aware of it in substance. Perhaps, then, they may arrive at some understanding as to past puzzling events. It is significant that Catizone has withdrawn ALL allegations made against me and has indeed apologised to the recipient of such scurrillious and slanderous allegations for having misled them. No such apology has been addressed to myself, the injured party, which can only lead one to conclude that the apopogies are not worth the paper that they are written on. Yet more subterfuge from such ‘spiritual’ bedrocks.
A recent Sanghapala/Catizone collaboration ‘Mudra’ can be viewed at http://ie.utube.com/watch?v=2vI-r1gQJHc. Sanghapala is present, singing the ‘Heart Sutra’ along with some of his cohorts. These are the WBO. Interestingly it is possible to hear Kalichi, another of Catizones lovers also on the internet singing ‘Dharma man’. It is possible to speculate that this dirge may be directed at Sanghapala. Check it out.
Following the disclosures concerning the activities of the fwbo and its founder, Sanghapala has made a number of claims that he has disassociated himself from the movement, however on the ‘FWBO people: The Western Buddhist Order’ site, Aug. 2006 it is clear that he remains a fully paid up member, alongside his mentor Sanghrakshita. His insistence that he is purely a member of the WBO rings a little hollow. This is also a group which Sangharakshita claims credit for establishing anyway but this remains a point in dispute.
It is also possible to log on to a series of debates on the net in which both Sanghapala and Sangharakshita discuss the concerns of ‘young men’ in a ‘tongue in cheek’ manner as late as 1998, in which it is also clearly evident that Sanghapala relates to his teacher in terms of deference, referring to him as ‘Bhante’. There is also an amusing portion wherein ‘Bhante’ uses the allegory of ‘the wild goose’ to compare the activities of spiritual aspirants as opposed to those of the land bound peacock, resplendent in plumage, yet incapable of soaring high across the Himilayas. To the best of my knowledge birds of such species as the goose, swan etc. are ‘monogamous’? It is my view that Sanghapalas twenty years of loyal service was made up in the most part with soliciting for new recruits ultimately to appease and satisfy the needs of his Bhante. It is not credible that he was unaware of his mentors activities. It was common knowledge among the rank and file of the fwbo that a policy of conversion with regard to sexual orientation was in place in an effort to appease the lusting of Sangharakshita.
In Sanghapalas correspondence with me ( which he terminated on presentation of irrefutable photographic evidence) he chooses to compare himself and Catizone to Bogart and Bacall. The point being that they were in a ‘student, teacher ‘ relationship and engaged in sexual activities which was acceptable to their adoring audience. The fundamental difference here is that Catizone was already in relationship.
” I think that it is completely inappropriate for anyone who could be described as a teacher to have sex with anyone who could be described as a pupil. I think it just does not stack up. (… after a sober period of reflection ) For me what has emerged is a recognition that sex in the teacher/pupil relationship is totally inappropriate though none of us saw it that way at the time.”
Below is another example of Sanghapalas misguided thinking. Neither Mike Garde nor myself know who ‘ Clarity ‘ is.
I do not see any debate here, I just see a bigoted tirade with you and you associates appearing under different names to sound like different wounded souls. So why don’t we just bring it on?
‘Guy’s story’ was presented here as though ‘he’ himself wrote those words to this website a few days ago. Yet, we now learn that, instead, it comes from you or your associate.
Do you have anything new? Do you have anything that is less than ten years old?
You just ran away from the far more rational discussion we were having on your Dialogue Ireland website, an organ that seems to be little more than a personal blog from one solitary Mennonite Christian expressing anger an anyone holding different veiws from himself.
I have been silent about this stuff on the web for the past ten years, but you went too far when you dragged my partner and her kids into this, turning family trauma into a spectator sport. You are soliciting for people to contact your little organ with their tales of abuse and you say that their story will be treated in the strictest of confidence? No Mr. Garde. From your performance so far I don’t think so. At this stage I want to see names, I want to see Court cases and I want to see prosecutions.
I’ll be over to see you when I get back from Spain in early September.’
Another example of Rons paranoia during his ‘debate’ on Indymedia:
‘Just who was this person? And why the utter nonsense about fear of violence? This is her talking about her boyfriend’s religious Group remember! Does that make sense to anyone? It is most certainly a Police matter. One would have thought that a new boyfriend was the answer and that, in the meantime, the Police should be called. I don’t expect she will be getting in touch with this site. But then again, perhaps she already has been on this site somewhere above?’
O’ Murchu needs to grasp the nettle and acknowledge that references made about his behaviour as outlined in the files, which he vehemently denies, are in fact true. It does mean that he, like his mentor, betrayed the Dharma and is not, in my opinion, deserving of teacher status. There is an almost childlike simplicity to Rons suggestion for the resolution of difficulties by simply ‘getting a new boyfriend or girlfriend’. I cannot subscribe to the notion of disposable families nor O’ Murchus ‘Mills and Boon’ version of Buddhism.
For myself, I advocate nothing in this dusty world of ten thousand things. I practice meditation daily and find it to be a very enjoyable, rewarding, transformational and dare I say it ‘enlightening’ experience! I wish no ill on either Sanghapala or Catizone. Perhaps recent comment will give them reason to reflect upon the nature of their actions and how such actions impact on the lives of others. In some respects I am obliging O’ Murchus demands to ‘bring it on’. What next? I can only hope that better understandings lie ahead. Sanghapala generates his income from working in the public arena with Morals and Ethics being his specialist subjects. Does he have anything new? The Chinese say that we cannot hope to change the nature of man only to improve it. It’s the very least that we can hope for.
The fwbo continues to promote itself here in Ireland. They are now operating under the guise of the DBC and are also based at Liberty Corner, on James Joyce St., Dublin. Both Catizone and O’ Murchu are involved in promoting this new venture with Catizone busily encouraging fund raising events. This is a multi million euro rich organisation, just as Buddha would have wished ? I believe that anyone who does work for them should be paid appropriately.
Sanghapala now has a reputation of his own making. Dishonest, opportunistic and disingenuous. He is fully aware of the fallout created as a result of his actions yet is prepared to stand by in the knowledge that the quality of relationship between a father and his children continues to suffer. It is sad also that a woman could sabotage her children’s relationship with their father in order to secure a liaison with a corrupt and discredited monk. This may well be the worst career move that she has made to date. Hopefully Rachel Kearns original intentions have been realised. Perhaps we only have one ‘shot’ at it. May I wish that future followers of the Dharma are not as unfortunate as I have been.
• The FWBO Files.
• Info @dialogueireland.org
• FlameOut.org-Gurus-Hare Krishna sex and drugs paradise.
• Buddhists for peace Indymedia.ie
• You tube Mudra Catizone and the WBO.
• Dharma Man / Kalichi.