Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Letter from the Board of Directors of Refuge Recovery.org:
“As most are aware, the Board of Directors of Refuge Recovery and Noah have had differing views about the path forward. But neither claims to be the only authority on recovery from addiction.
The Refuge Recovery program and movement, as founded by Noah, are not ending. The existing Refuge Recovery non-profit will be dissolved.
Noah’s team is creating a new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Refuge Recovery World Services, and will apply for 501(c)(3) non-profit status, to provide support services to all interested Refuge Recovery groups moving forward. Noah and others vow to adhere to the program as outlined in the book authored by Noah, “Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction,” that includes peer-led, democratically run, local recovery meetings, and that also includes associated teacher-led meditation retreats and professional treatment options.
The Board will foster a new grassroots movement by forming a non-profit organization called Recovery Dharma Collective to provide support to local recovery meetings based on Buddhist practices and principles. The Collective will be entirely peer-led and democratically run, will not be engaged in designating specific or approved teachers for retreats or study and will leave the provision of treatment options to others. The Board also has supported efforts for the community to create its own literature that may serve to augment or provide an alternative to that contained in the Refuge Recovery book.”
So Noah gets to keep Refuge Recovery, the treatment program and the book, even though we could have beat him both in court and on the street. And the current Refuge Recovery is dissolved, and will now become Recovery Dharma Collective. I have a lot of mixed and conflicting feelings about this outcome.
First, Noah got away with all the shit he pulled, and he is still a NARCISSISTIC SOCIOPATH and a sexual predator. But here’s one thing I’ve learned from this whole process. Noah, like Sogyal and Chogyam Trungpa and his son Mipham, and all the other malignant narcissists who run Buddhists organizations are NOT THE EXCEPTION in Buddhism; THEY ARE THE RULE.
Buddhism is a corrupt and totally deformed religion. I’m not talking about ‘the Buddha’ whoever he might have been, or the things he might have taught. I’m talking about institutional Buddhism, which is not about liberation, but power and control. And this whole turn of events just proves that to the letter.
So here’s what I like about the situation. I was never convinced by the whole Refuge Recovery spiel. I didn’t like the book or the program–it had its good points but it was badly written and mostly irrelevant. From my perspective, as someone with 28 years in recovery and 10 years of meditation and Buddhist study under my belt, very little of it resonated with me or made any sense for the treatment of a complex disorder like full-blown addiction. Frankly, I could do better, and so could lots of other people. Many others in the Buddhist Recovery Network who have decades of recovery and Buddhist practice could get together and write a far better book that is far more relevant and effective at treating complex developmental trauma, which is the true ’cause’ of addiction. I hope that is one of the outcomes of this process. The Buddhist Recovery Network is far greater than Noah and his ego and has the expertise to come up with a truly effective program.
Coincidentally, I had stopped going to the Refuge Recovery group in my own town a couple of months ago. I was about to start a new ‘Meditation and Recovery’ group in my town, not identified specifically as ‘Buddhist’ recovery, not connected in any way with Refuge Recovery. Refuge Recovery is pushing a religion, as I have said many times but no one wanted to hear me. I don’t want to push the Buddhist religion on people who are trying to recover from addiction. They are extremely vulnerable and have enough problems to deal with without being subjected to the further abuses of a coercive and authoritarian religion. My approach would include secular meditation and a dharma program where the ‘dharma’ is not a simple reading of the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path, but a clinically-proven treatment program that addresses the core issue: trauma, emotional pain and disregulation and brain/CNS disregulation.
A PIPELINE FOR PREDATION
Here’s the upshot of this deal: most people will stick with Refuge Recovery because it is a recognizable “brand.” Recovery Dharma Collective, or some version of it, will work in a few places with a few small groups, but I don’t expect it to grow, or ultimately survive.
But here’s the real heartbreak of this deal: what Noah did will happen again because Noah hasn’t changed, and Buddhism hasn’t changed either. People in Refuge Recovery WS (World Services), mostly women, will be sexually assaulted. Other forms of gaslighting, brainwashing and coercive manipulation will be done to people in Refuge Recovery WS, as they are in every Buddhist organization. That Noah has set this up with a system for training teachers and teacher-led retreats almost guarantees that this will happen. Noah has created a PIPELINE FOR PREDATION. “Victims” will be groomed for compliance, sent to retreat centers with Noah and his hand-picked proteges who will do what he did: take advantage of vulnerable, needy, traumatized people, manipulate them and sexually assault them, and then gaslight them afterwards. This is all the more certain now that Noah has had no consequences for his past sexual predation. He realizes now that he can get away with it, so he and his cronies are certain to do it again.
I’ll give it about 2 to 5 years, and we’ll be reading another round of stories in the Buddhist press that multiple women and others in Refuge Recovery WS who have been coerced, manipulated, abused and sexually assaulted.
Mark my words: the first time we get a report of sexual predation by Refuge Recovery WS in the Buddhist or other press, I will revisit the article and say it loud: it was totally predictable.