I received this guest post from a person who when I said I would post it, replied “Thank you for this tremendous opportunity to finally speak.”
We all know how hard it is to speak publically about our concerns about Tibetan masters especially anyone with whom we have a personal relationship or who is well-known and generally respected. But the urge to protect those who may otherwise fall under the spell of someone who may abuse them is strong and comes from compassion for both victim and perpetrator. It is not only the desire to protect potential victims but also to call out the perpetrator to give him or her the opportunity to examine themselves and recognise that certain aspects of their behaviour are causing harm, something no genuine Buddhist practicioner would aspire to. This is why I agreed to share this post.
Also, along with the charges and convictions mentioned below that took place at Samaye Ling, I also know of a Western woman who experienced severe bullying by a Western senior instructor at Samaye Ling. As far as I know at this point, that issue was never resolved.
Read on for the concerns.
The fine creative talent of celebrated Dharma artist Tashi Mannox (previously known as Tsering Tashi) is clear and cannot be denied. However, the real reason for his quiet dismissal from his position of Senior Monk at Kagyu Samye Ling back in 1998 on grounds of sexual misconduct and the charges he faced thereafter remain somewhat obscured at the time of writing –
This article mentions abuse of two monks. Personally, I knew of three. There were, of course, others who felt unable to speak. Beyond that, many more were affected in diverse ways, some long term. What compounded this was the fact that it was hushed up as best as it could be and he was quietly shipped out without having to really face anyone directly. There was a community meeting, but that’s all I recall. This, naturally, undermined the trust of many and became a principal catalyst to my own abandoning of robes, as well as others’. Of course, Dharma communities are only now beginning to understand how to properly handle these situations and I have no desire to criticise the organisation as a whole, though some of it’s actions may well be ripe for critique. I will certainly criticise the lingering silence, however.
As Mr Mannox is actively teaching in several countries – both Dharma art and Meditation – it is right that the general public are made aware of this aspect of his past, primarily for safeguarding reasons. We all need to make fully informed choices. Given the opportunity in an interview to say why he left monastic life, he was not at all honest. This inspires me to feel that he may well still represent a risk. Centres have the responsibility to do due diligence, of course, but there is precious little information regarding the incidents online. Were I in the position of doing due diligence prior to booking him, I would have to refuse him as his past pattern of behaviour constitutes a huge red flag and we know how these patterns can often simply morph into a new form under a new guise. Many of us who knew what he was like feel quite certain that he would have carried on with the same pattern of manipulation and abuse had the young man not spoken out. It was a relief for us all.
Personally, I would say this – he is equal parts creative talent and twinkling charm, inclined to manipulate. I noticed this the very first time I met him – an odd occasion where he announced to the small group gathered that he’s not really supposed to sit on his upper robe as a cushion but giggled and did it anyway, eyes sparkling; a minor act but I took it as an indication of something deeper, an instinct that sadly bore out over time. People should be aware. He’s a big name dropper – lamas, celebrities, royals – likes to impress. One likely reason that he has been so well protected is that he sows the best robes, designs the best seals, does the best calligraphy etc and this is very useful to people in prominent positions who desire such objects.
To Mr Mannox, I would like to say – your sweet reminiscences on social media regarding your monastic days smack those negatively impacted by that time in the face as not completely honest or true, more an individual fantasy that pays into the image you create for your followers. Please stop. Please be honest. Be where you are now. It’s for the benefit of all, yourself included. To centres and those individuals seeking artistic commission of a tattoo design, for instance, I would say do your due diligence and don’t necessarily trust the well curated appearance.