In Praise of Matthew Remski

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In Praise of Matthew Remski

Post by Admin » Fri Mar 29, 2019 6:18 am

When I discovered that the Shambhala organization had hit an iceberg, and saw its leadership frenziedly moving deck chairs around in an effort to keep students from heading for the lifeboats while the Sakyong paddled away with all of the biscuits, I wondered, "Can anyone help these Shambhalians understand their predicament?" It wasn't that big of a discovery to find that the only person really working on analyzing the situation from an objective viewpoint was not, in fact, a Shambhalian. When I found out that he'd been a student of "Geshe" Michael Roach, I was a bit surprised, because following Mr. Diamond-Hustler is not something I associate with intelligence. But be that as it may, Matthew is plenty intelligent.

His analyses are quite good, so of course, the attack-creatures have been sent out to hound him. Interestingly, as I just finished writing about Shante Paradigm Smalls on the art of "holding space," I see that she's rather careless with her speech on Instagram, slamming around the racial epithets with some sneering nastiness. She's definitely not holding space for Matthew Remski! Or "white practitioners" of any sort.

Instagram chat wrote: shanteparadigm
Y’all: this is why I can’t with white practitioners. Y’all are so comfortable with letting white supremacy slide, all the while crying about patriarchy. Meanwhile, those of us who are battered at the intersection white supremacy and its arms of misogyny and capitalism, are putting in WORK, while y’all are asking “what do I do?” Honestly, fuck white people and your laziness.
shanteparadigm
@oceanoftruememing only old white man can save us. Remski is the Bernie Sanders of white Buddhism.
janmorrison46
@shanteparadigm You will never be white but you will get old. I'll never be other than white but I'm old. I will give myself and others shit for being asleep but not for being white, black plaid, or young.
shanteparadigm
@janmorrison46 this is antiblack and ignorant. White supremacy is real. Commitment to whiteness is real. Refusal to exam your white complicity is real. And your conflation of Black/white/young/old demonstrates your ignorant attachment to the violence of whiteness. You come for me with this liberal racist bullshit and I reject it. I will always call out white supremacy. Now, go learn about the ways white women come to protect whiteness with their slick words and lacking knowledge.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BvFdvwcncto ... e=ig_embed


This is really pretty funny. Little Miss Paradigm here is trying to sell us the Sakyong's suck and fuck cult as the place where black people will get a fair shake. Awesome. Take a look at this photograph from the "Children and Families" on the Atlanta Shambhala page. Y'know, Atlanta being the one of the cities in the country where black people not only outnumber whites, but also do fairly well in terms of income and living situation. But somehow, Shambhala can only find white people to join their crew.

Image

Little Miss Paradigm has some pretty sharp elbows, and she seems to be pursuing a line of attack that springs from some serious desperation at the core of Shambhala. Let's not talk about the white women who got fucked over! No! Let's talk about all the black people who never even got into Shambhala because it's got "institutional racism" problems. White bitch problems! But I digress. Remski's the topic here, and I just found this page where he did one of those, "Answer questions on Reddit" things, and cross-posted his responses to his own website at http://matthewremski.com/wordpress/tag/ ... rnational/

I will cherry pick some of the good stuff from his response to the first set of Questions from the Redditors (in bold), answers from Matthew.

Question 1: Is there any future for Shambhala?
Do you think there is any future for Shambhala after such institutional betrayal has taken place at the highest levels of the organization?

Is the future of Shambhala to simply dismantle it and go elsewhere for spirituality, or as some have begun, to engage a reform movement divorced from Shambhala International and engaged in a thorough critique of its founder while continuing its methods?

What role does Naropa University play in all this, given that they have divorced themselves from Shambhala several years ago but still have many overlapping people involved in both Shambhala and Naropa, and that Naropa was founded by Chogyam Trungpa?


The first thing to say in response to this big question, as well as every other on this page so far, is that survivors of institutional betrayal should be at the front of the line to answer. If they aren’t, the question may encourage a bias towards preservation instead of reform or dissolution. It may draw out answers that prematurely focus on repair instead of reparations. *** If spiritual organizations with abuse histories truly listened to their survivors, they would actually learn a thing or two about the actual spirituality the organization has failed to convey.

So what can be preserved? Throughout the crisis communications, Shambhala representatives have consistently relied on the assumption of shared values, practice goals and emotional affect amongst community members as a fallback source of reassurance. They do this by continuing to silence survivor’s voices with their own concerns for institutional continuity. Simmer-Brown provides consistent examples here. This single line from her recent post should win a gold medal for genteel selfishness: “And now, the conduct of the Sakyong that has surfaced is definitely threatening the future of the terma.” Note the passive construction “that has surfaced”, which avoids naming or crediting survivors who spoke out. Note the implication that the real victim of Mipham Mukpo is not the women he assaulted or the Kusung he bit and battered, but the content she is paid to teach.

All Shambhala members have to now grapple with the question of what exactly Chögyam Trungpa had to offer beyond a charismatic mirage of care, confounded by addiction and trauma-related mental illness, and punctuated by interpersonal violence. Today’s Shambhala members have to ask what Trungpa’s most prominent followers were actually supporting, beyond their idealizations of him, the contact-high they got from his grandiosity, and, tragically, their likely addiction to the disorganized-attachment-loop chemistry of seeming love and actual danger flowing from the same presumed caregiver.

When the hagiographies of Diana, Hayward, and Midal are fully deconstructed, what will members conclude about one of Trungpa’s root liturgy coming out of a beer-soaked “retreat” in Bhutan, his phallic “Ashe” stroke revelations being fuelled by cocaine, and his teachings on “spiritual materialism” belied by arguably the most materialist display of pageantry in New Religious Movement history? How will they read Leslie Hays’ forthcoming account of Trungpa “channeling” the mythical kings of Shambhala to help him with daily decisions about regalia design and table manners?

For decades, the smartest talking heads in the room have spun these facts into rationalizations for crazy wisdom. That’s not going to wash anymore.

[W]hat part of the neo-Buddhist liturgy that members have been practicing might have come from Trungpa’s own obvious need to benefit sexually and financially from his followers? What aspects of that liturgy were then used to serve the silence required by that abuse? In this world, what is Vajrayogini sadhana really about, folks?

This leads to your last question. The influence of the front organizations that legitimize Shambhala as a secular/humanitarian institution MUST be fully studied. Hannah Arendt wrote that the front organization is any seemingly legitimate business, publishing house, or academic institution that provides social cover for the totalitarian group. They often function as “transmission belts” for recruitment, i.e.: you’re not going to get the explicit Shambhala download as an undergrad at Naropa, but hey, here’s someone passing out flyers for the next Warrior Training. It’s just a few blocks away.

Naropa has to be studied as a front for Shambhala. So too does Shambhala Publications, because although they loudly state that they are not technically related to Shambhala International, their entire back catalogue is the Trungpa & Co. library.


Assessing the overlaps between the group and the fronts will take a long time and several PhDs, if anyone is brave enough to supervise the topic. But it’s important, because the impact of entire disciplines like “contemplative psychotherapy” (emerging from Trungpa’s dubious ideas around exposure therapy, but which has of course developed since then) are pervasive in new-age therapy culture. I’d love to see data on how many people graduated from Naropa in CP and then went on to counsel how many people in the apolitical Shambhala values of nurturing sadness, disappointment, tenderness, openness, and many other dispositions that are ill-equipped to form firm boundaries, resist abuse, and foster structural analysis.

A former Ashtanga person asked me in an interview: “How do we avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater?” She was wondering whether the revelations of institutional abuse in the Ashtanga world meant that she had to abandon her beliefs and practice?

After the thousandth time hearing that question, asked with such pain and sincerity , it suddenly occurred to me that the baby isn’t the Ashtanga series — or the Shambhala curriculum or the Scorpion Seal. The baby isn’t the posture, the mantra, the visualization, mandala, the kusung, or the Kalapa house help.

The baby is you.

You are the baby, and if you had a nice bath for a while that’s because you enjoyed the water. But if the bathwater is now dirty, it’s time to get out and dry off.

If you had a good experience in the cult, how sure are you that it wasn’t a continuation of the male or white or class or intellectual or academic privilege you’ve enjoyed all your life, now framed as spiritual virtue?

To what extent did the cult tell you what the culture at large was already telling you — that you’re special and deserving and smart and can save the world through the goodness of who you naturally are?

Maybe one of the reasons that cults really like to recruit middle-class educated people is because their sense of entitlement can easily be transferred over into the spiritual domain, while their relative sense of invulnerability will blind them to the trauma the cult is causing.
Last edited by Admin on Thu May 16, 2019 7:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: In Praise of Matthew Remski

Post by Admin » Tue May 14, 2019 9:47 am

A little farther down the Reddit Ask Me Anything page, I see how Matthew came to be in Shante Smalls' sights. He said THIS, ABSOLUTELY SPOT-ON AND COMPLETELY UNFORGIVEABLE THING:
Matthew Remski wrote:One alarming thing that’s coming out of the Shambhala crisis communications right now is a kind of “wokewashing”, where a seemingly newfound concern about racism or colonization or misogyny or patriarchy is being used to deflect, abstract, and change the subject from more obvious issues of institutional abuse. Of course Shambhala and every Global North organization should tackle its white supremacy issue, but there’s no excuse for doing that at the expense of delaying the creation of a reparations fund for people who have been abused in the organization, for example.

Sorry: you don’t get to bypass the stories of Buddhist Project Sunshine with trending virtue-signaling designed to make your donors feel like they’re on some progressive moral high ground.

Having said all of this, there are POC activists in or around Shambhala who really are bringing the goods, and they’ve been doing the work for a long time. They are not virtue-signaling, but virture-generating. I don’t know much about Rod Owens, Angel Kyodo Williams, and Professor Smalls, for example, but it’s clear that they and others are adding immeasurable value to the de-cultification process by showing how it’s intersectional with anti-oppression discourse and the decolonization work that would start to unravel what it means, for example, for Shambhala to have commodified and gentrified Tibetan culture to the extent it has.

There’s something dharmic about Shambhala turning to POC wisdom leaders during a crisis, but also something a little strange about asking them for guidance through a largely white mess. I’m concerned that white liberals find it a little too easy to perform deference to POC activists or indulge in feelings of contrition and piety that avoid the nausea of the cultic. Yes: the issues are all connected, but the wisdom of POC activists shouldn’t be used by cult people change the subject. Isn’t this just another theft?


I really could not say this any better. You can see this nonsense churning up dust. No one can fight back against the victims of prejudice making their points. We are going to see so much solicitousness for the needs of the spiritual LGBTQ community, the Meditators of Color community, and somebody like Shante Smalls, who has made a career out of curating her particular niche counterculture, is perfect for the job. This is definitely her moment. Don't let those white bitches who nuzzled up to the Sakyong get first in line! They don't know what suffering is all about!

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