The story of dharma in the West is one of great success, marred by the occasional, but very public, failure. In some cases, entire sanghas have split into warring camps or been torn asunder by the interpersonal conflicts of their members. Over the years, a handful of teachers have been dismissed or disgraced, and countless disillusioned students have moved on. While the vast majority of sanghas continue to thrive, some are finding it necessary to adopt new, non-Buddhist approaches to resolving the conflicts that inevitably arise.
Consider these recent examples:
- When the teenage son of a resident of Salt Lake City’s Kanzeon Zen Center admitted to stealing money from several residents, the sangha formed a “council circle.” As part of this ancient Native American ritual, everyone in the circle took turns passing a symbolic peace pipe—minus the tobacco—and voicing his or her feelings about the transgression.