04 Cults, Cultish Shennanigans, and Buddhist Groups


In this episode Stuart & I discuss Buddhist cults and cultish behaviour in Buddhist groups. We look at cultish behaviours in particular and how they manifest in even innocuous Buddhist groups. We discuss the wider implications of the trade off between belonging and autonomy and the three core theories that explain why people get involved in Buddhist groups. We also look at the difference between cults and new religious movements and the difficulty in the academic world of defining a cult. To avoid such a trap, we focus on cultish behaviours instead and ask to what degree each of the organisations we discuss exhibits them. We invite listeners to consider to what degree their own Buddhist group may exhibit such behaviours and why they are present. We cover the NKT, Rigpa, Shambhala, Michael Roach and HH, Maitreya Ron Spenser. In this episode, someone is bound to get offended, but it's all good as Stuart and Matthew get culty. Second additional note (07/09/2015): Dear Listeners, We recently put out a podcast episode covering cultish behaviour in Buddhism and discussed some of those behaviours along with how they are expressed in a number of small and large Buddhist groups. We also managed to make a mistake which needs clarifying here. In that episode, which has since been edited to remove the offending section, we, or better I, made three assertions concerning the figure of Indy Hack. This was an unfortunate mistake on my part and I wish to clarify that mistake here so listeners who may have heard the earlier edit can be clear on the issue. Indy Hack has asked me to clarify three points and I am happy to do so here for the benefit of mutual understanding and good faith. 1. Fabrication of articles: I wrongly stated that Indy Hack fabricates articles. I have understood from Indy hack that this is not true and I apologise for stating so. This was a mistake on my part. 2. Membership of the NKT: I unwittingly assumed Indy Hack was a member of the NKT. Indy Hack has informed me that this is not true so again this was a mistake on my part. I apologise for making this assumption. 3. CIA & the Dalai Lama: I incorrectly associated a story I had heard about the CIA and Dalai Lama to Indy Hack. This was a genuine mistake. Indy Hack has not told this story and again it was a mistake on my part to have made this link. It is worth noting that Indy Hack has been helpful in clarifying these issues and we at the Imperfect Buddha Podcast will strive to do better with future episodes. We wish Indy Hack all the best with his work. We also wish clarity and wisdom to all those venturing into the public sphere with podcasts. This is the last I will mention of this unless events take a strange turn. 

Matthew O'Connell is a life coach and the host of the The Imperfect Buddha podcast. You can find The Imperfect Buddha on Facebook and Twitter (@imperfectbuddha).

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Matthew O'Connell

Matthew O'Connell is a life coach and the host of the The Imperfect Buddha podcast. You can find The Imperfect Buddha on Facebook and Twitter (@imperfectbuddha).

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