At the Guardian, Mary Finnigan informs us that a senior Buddhist monk of Kagyu Ling monastery near Dijon, France, has been arrested on charges of rape. Yes, it appears we have another sex scandal involving a Buddhist monk, but let us remember that people are innocent until proven guilty.
We've discussed this issue before, and needless to say this behavior is not to be tolerated. But I think Ms. Finnigan's framing of events at Kagyu Ling are not much more tolerable.
After describing the charges against the Kagyu Ling monk, she then brings up nearly every sex scandal (there is one I can think of that she missed) involving Tibetan teachers in the West, going back decades, including unproven allegations and rumors. There is, then, a clear implication that Tibetan Buddhism is uniquely rife with sexual exploitation, which Ms. Finnigan attributes to the "Shangri La factor." The victims unwittingly are being seduced by all that Oriental exoticism.
In the past several months we've discussed sexual misbehavior in Zen teachers and also Theravada monks in temples serving communities of Asian immigrants. And, of course, this sort of thing happens in Christian churches and in private business and among public officials and many other places where people are divided into authority figures and followers. I doubt Tibetan Buddhism is harboring more sex offenders than any other human institution.
The little-understood practice of tantra does give an opening to the unscrupulous -- some phony teachers, some not -- to sell sex as a means to enlightenment. But I also think that if there were no such thing as tantra these same people would just find another sales pitch. Don't blame tantra, in other words.