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A personal message from the new President of the Buddhist Recovery Network
Dr Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John M.A (hon.doc)
It’s with compassion I enter into the first few months of being in office as the President of BRN. My heart cracked open when I read about the allegations of sexual misconduct against a well-loved teacher, Noah Levine, the founder of Against the Stream, Refuge Recovery and Dharma Punx.
My heart’s release is one of empathy for the alleged victims and their families, also for the alleged perpetrator and his family. Whether these allegations are true or false, everyone who has been affected is suffering.
I have spent a good part of my working life, empowering and enabling all genders to come forward and break the silence. I’ve worked with adults to help create safer spaces for vulnerable people.
It takes courage to come to terms with such difficult news because speaking out can split a family, it can throw a community into chaos. Often the people who speak out become demonized, are blamed, told they are imagining it, lying, or are being too emotional. Similarly, often the accused is vilified without people knowing the full facts.
As I settle into my role, President of BRN, I want to acknowledge how new and fragile the Buddhist Recovery movement is. We have a responsibility to cultivate a strong foundation for this transformative movement to stand upon. It’s also important we follow the messages and not the messengers. Heart of Recovery, Refuge Recovery, 8 Step Recovery, 5th Precept, 11th Step, Sit and Share and other Buddhist recovery are some of the pillars of our community with a strong message of how to live a life imbued with abstinence and sobriety of mind. The founders of these meetings are not the Gurus, they are just the channel to communicate the teachings that have been passed down in the Buddhist tradition for 2,500 years.
My mission is to contribute to the dialogue of making Buddhist recovery spaces safer and accessible. We are a vulnerable community, with many still struggling in the hell realms of addiction.
I hope we can re-educate ourselves about the things which are no longer acceptable behaviour in society, like racism, sexism, ableism, classism, genderism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and sexual harassment and assault.
BRN is an organization that lists many Buddhist Recovery meetings from all over the world and from varying traditions. And gives support to people who want to set up new meetings. To help teachers, facilitators and peer leaders conduct best practice at these meetings, I would like to open up space for people to have a place to write to if something inappropriate is happening. BRN has an anti harassment policy that we encourage all our buddhist recovery meetings to adopt.
I invite anybody who has been harmed by sexual misconduct or any of the above unacceptable behaviours by a teacher, facilitator or peer leader, or a person in a meeting, to write to me at email@example.com.
It’s my hope that the Buddhist Recovery communities will become more of a welcoming space, so that People of Color, Women, Queer, people with disabilities are more visible. Addictions affect everybody, it is a dis-ease that has impacted every country, every family. Let’s together build a safer space for all of us to heal and recover.
In the next few months, BRN will be announcing ‘save the date’ for the 3rd Buddhist Recovery Summit to be held in 2019.
Meanwhile, I wish you all well and hope to hear about your new recovery groups and your successes. Check our website out for more information on how to submit a new meeting.