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Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

Fears mount over scale of Buddhist-sect sexual abuse

“Followers allege they were coerced into sex in [the] 1970s and 80s with elders of UK’s Triratna order, … one of the UK’s largest Buddhist orders, [which] has been forced to report allegations of sexual abuse after a former follower claimed he was coerced into sex with one of its elders. In a separate development, the group’s founder has apologised for having relationships with its members—some of which, he has previously acknowledged, may have been against their will. Triratna, which has tens of thousands of followers, is battling to protect its reputation, both in the worldwide Buddhist community and among its own members who are questioning the extent to which the coercion was perpetrated and how long it continued. Founded by Dennis Lingwood in the 1960s, the sect, formerly known as the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO), is a wealthy community with 30 retreats in the UK and a further 20 in countries including Australia, the US, Germany, and Mexico. In the 1980s its Croydon centre was closed down amid newspaper reports that its members were being manipulated. Now its troubled history has resurfaced after Lingwood, 91, known by his Buddhist name, Sangharakshita, made a shock confession late last year. After being treated in hospital for pneumonia, Lingwood issued a statement expressing ‘deep regret for all the occasions on which I have hurt, harm[IT 8.2]ed, or upset fellow Buddhists, and ask for their forgiveness.’” (The Guardian, 2/19/17)