The vajra: cutting through to the truth

3 Sangharakshita’s Teachings in Theory and Practice

III Theory and Practice

d | Sex and the FWBO

The Croydon Buddhist Centre

Appendix 2 comprises an article by Vishvapani giving a personal account of the culture of the Croydon Buddhist Centre in the 1980s. Discussion of this Centre was indeed, central to The Guardian’s article about the WBO , which was based on three case studies, two of which concerned the CBC.

There is no intention for this Response to minimise the seriousness of the unethical behaviour that occurred at the CBC. However The FWBO Files is wrong to ascribe these problems to the teachings and personal example of Sangharakshita [ The FWBO Files p.24f ]. To do this it seeks to describe the tragic example of Matt Evans, the young man who committed suicide, in terms of its fictitious version of WBO homosexual conditioning. The FWBO Files appears to have fabricated the references to homosexuality in its account of him. [ 151 ] It is harder to imagine anything more distasteful than such tendentious exploitation of a personal tragedy. While “Tim” appears to have been the victim of genuinely abusive behaviour, the problems in Croydon were much broader than their sexual aspect and describing them solely in these terms is misleading. The FWBO Files claims that the WBO sought to evade the sexual aspect of the CBC’s abusive culture. In truth, it is hard, even now, to say how important the sex was, as the Centre’s chairman was secretive about his sexual behaviour. Although several senior Order members grew increasingly concerned about the CBC, their focus was the CBC’s strong group mentality rather than sex.

The FWBO Files claims the WBO did not act sooner for fear of losing an asset:

Clearly, the organisation’s leader considered power and wealth to be more important than the happiness and well being of his followers. [ The FWBO Files p.25 ]

Like all WBO centres, the CBC was legally and financially autonomous. Because the Chairman had developed such a strong personal following, there was a danger that he would simply take them outside the WBO altogether, leaving no way for them to be influenced from the outside. Sangharakshita’s concern was for the well-being of his followers and eventually he succeeded in changing the CBC. [ 152 ]

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Footnotes

151 ]
With the kind permission of Denise Watson, Matt’s mother, we have had the opportunity to inspect his diary and other documentary accounts he left, and these make no mention of homosexuality.
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152 ]
The FWBO Files claims that When the truth about Croydon emerged in the Guardian the WBO admitted that at least 30 people had been left severely mentally damaged by their experiences there. To get this in perspective, this figure was estimated as the number who were adversely affected by the CBC. However The Guardian stated that they had been badly damaged psychologically. In reality, only a handful of individuals could accurately be described as having been severely affected. As we sadly acknowledge, this was a handful too many.
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