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Innocence Lost

by the Ven. J.M. Dharmakara Boda, Mahabodhi Maitri Mandala in America, The Buddhist Channel, July 30, 2007

Los Angeles, CA (USA) -- Sadly, the story about the Taiwanese monk jailed for sexually abusing pupils should be a wake-up call for the greater Buddhist community at large, as this clearly brings to light the need for reform.

In Western society this has finally begun to be addressed, especially in the Roman Catholic Church, which has been shaken to it's very core by such scandals, but when it comes to institutionalized Buddhism this is not an isolated event.

Though such abuse is not epidemic within Buddhist practice, it does occur with alarming frequency, but rarely sees the light of day in journalism, long enough within the court system. A point in case can be found in "The Work of Kings", a book by H. L. Seneviratne which mentions the sexual abuse of young novice monks in Sri Lanka at the hands of the older Theras, where their cries to the civil authorities are typically ignored.

Certainly, it's an unsavory subject, but what needs to be addressed is what has been done on the behalf of these children after they have been abused, for the damage from such encounters leave scares which fester for years.

Another question that needs to be asked is whether or not the sentence that the Taiwanese monk received is even fair, especially as a figure of authority who abused that authority in the worst way --- there were twenty-five allegations of abuse, eight of which led to convictions, but even his original sentence was less than a year-and-a-half for each young life he destroyed.

Is this the value of innocense lost?

There is this tendency to "whitewash" such events, a form of censorship in which errors are deliberately concealed or downplayed under the guise of past karma from a previous life, but this would be blaming the victim and a complete misunderstanding of what the Buddha taught

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