Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds /Milk Tea Alliance

Teachers and Refuge Recovery

[Editor: The discussion that has taken place in the Comments section on Noah Levine and ATS/Refuge Recovery needs some background for clarification. The complicated history and relationship between ATS and Refuge Recovery is summarized here, in the 2017 Budget Report:


[Editor: What concerns me most is the whole issue of “teachers” and especially “paid teachers” in Refuge Recovery. This is apparently something the Board of Refuge Recovery is currently wrestling with. If I can have any say at all, I would like to make it known that Refuge Recovery should never have any designated or privileged teachers, and especially no paid teachers. Allowing ‘dharmalebrities’ to run Refuge Recovery events (retreats, conferences, etc.) runs the risk of introducing the same cult-like power dynamics into Refuge Recovery that we find in other Buddhist organizations, a dangerous and self-defeating dynamic that is not conducive to peer-based recovery.]

Below are selections from the last three months Board of Directors Meetings of Refuge Recovery on the issue of teachers and RR. It is not yet a settled issue:

(April 7, 2018) Dave asked that we consider the relationship(s) Refuge as an organization wanted to maintain with Dharma Teachers, particularly Teachers who were paid for their participation in Refuge-sponsored events. This will be added to the agenda for the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board.

(May 12, 2018) The draft bylaws were submitted by the committee (Jean, Rosy, and Don). Don explained that much of the language was either required of non-profits by the IRS or had been previously adopted by the Board, and these sections were highlighted in the draft sent to Board members.

Daniel moved adoption, Rosy seconded. Joseph moved to amend the proposed by-laws by deleting the section on solicited funds, asking us to decide whether Refuge is fully self- supporting or not. Jean reminded us that the Guiding Principle suggesting self-support was in reference to Refuge Groups and did not apply to the Board. Daniel also reminded the Board that this conformed to the recommendations of the committee that was formed to recommend action by the Board on guiding principles. Motion was not seconded.

Joseph also asked that we delete Article VI, Section F, “Teachers,” which contained no recommended language pending Board discussion. A number of members stated they were opposed to having bylaws mention “teachers” at all, both those who wished to leave it up to local groups and those who wished to exclude dharma teachers from Refuge at all. Joseph moved, and Brent seconded that the section be deleted. Board adopted, with Don dissenting.

Jean called for a vote, and the Board unanimously adopted the by-laws as amended to exclude VI(F).

By-laws as adopted will be published and accessible to Refuge membership.

 Don presented the interim report. It contained three recommendations: first taking no immediate action regarding the specific grievances of which the Board has been on notice; second, to adopt policy language regarding dharma teachers and their use by Refuge Recovery; and third to eliminate the position of President from the Board. After discussion, members of the committee withdrew the third suggestion and no action was taken on eliminating the position of President. 

Further discussion involved the use of Dharma Teachers in Refuge. The Board by consensus took no action on this recommendation, but instead moved to establish an ad-hoc committee to report to the Board at its next meeting recommendations regarding this issue. Finally, the Board adopted the first recommendation of the committee.

Joseph, Brent, Gensho, and Chris will form a committee to make a recommendation to the Board regarding adoption or exclusion of a policy regarding Dharma Teachers

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This entry was posted on 2018/07/08 by .


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