Protecting yourself from Arnaud Maitland


In a previous blog, I have shared an overview of Mr. Maitland’s ways of insinuating himself with people, and how he tends to operate.

To help people who choose to continue to study with Mr Maitland, this blog offers some additional information and advice on how to protect oneself when he interacts with students inappropriately.

Note: someone from within the community left a comment on this blog about Mr Maitland, confirming that his behavior is known within the community, and has gone on for some time. Partially this is due to the fact that he brings in much-needed money – your money. There are other, better ways to contribute to the TNMC community, to Tarthang Tulku and the ongoing projects of preserving the Dharma and the Tibetan culture. Please consider using these ways to support the preservation of the Dharma, rather than giving money to someone who, after 40 years, is still not able to put into practice one of the most basic practices – apparently necessary for progressing to Enlightenment, according to Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche and often documented in texts  – that of ethical moral conduct.

Mr Maitland is a master manipulator. His bio often contains the information that he obtained a degree in Nyingma psychology. If this is true, then he seems to use that information manipulate people. He will tell you something that seems insightful about you, or something about himself that seems to connect you to him. Be very careful if he starts to pay a lot of attention to you, asks you to participate more, provide assistance directly to him, organize something so that you have to be in touch with him regularly – as flattering as it may seem, this may be a sign that he is preparing to escalate his level of interaction with you.

The usual things when dealing with someone who might cause harm – mental or physical – is to never meet with them on your own. It is also better to not listen to Mr Maitland’s recordings – mantras or retreat recordings. As we know from advertising and music industries, the voice can be mesmerizing, and repeated listening to something (advertising, songs) creates a receptivity to that thing that lowers our defenses. That’s why advertising works, that’s why we generally like the songs that are played the most. It works the same way with voices – so that if you’ve listened to his recordings a lot, when speaking with him or even interacting via e-mail, you will be more likely to allow things that are inappropriate to go unchallenged.

From a Dharma perspective – if you are really interested in the Dharma, there are better ways to develop a connection to Tarthang Tulku, Longchenpa, Padmasambhava, the Nyingma Lineage and the Dharma in general. Tarthang Tulku mentions in several different books what some of the foundational texts are that every Dharma practitioner should read and be familiar with; Lalitavistara Sutra, Bhadrakalpika Sutra, and Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava are all on this list. The Crystal Mirror series is intended to provide fundamental information about the Buddha, his life and times, and the Nyingma lineage; they are clearly written and easy to read. Tarthang Tulku mentions also how important it is to begin to develop the four limitless qualities of compassion, loving-kindness, empathetic joy, equanimity – something Mr Maitland rarely talks about and freely admitted to not being able to do. Similarly the paramitas of generosity, discipline, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom are also important practices.

To connect more directly with Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, although he does not teach anymore, the books containing collections of his essays are great ways to connect (or re-connect) with the vision  and aspirations that Rinpoche had and may still have for the Dharma in the West. Enlightenment is a Choice, Mind over Matter, and Teachings from the Heart all offer Tarthang Tulku’s wisdom (almost) directly from his own mind. They are very inspiring and good reminders of what the Dharma can and should be.

If you love the Dharma and want to support Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, it is probably best to find other ways to do that than by studying with Arnaud Maitland. It is said that in the dark times of the Kaliyuga (time when virtue wanes in the world), that destruction of the Dharma will come from within – teachers who are masquerading as Dharma practitioners. One might reasonably deeply consider whether Mr Maitland is an example of just this very phenomena.


On teachers who are not authentic

A link to a recently updated post on different blog with detail about Mr Maitland’s sexual harassment. Over 500 people have viewed that post; it might be helpful to read the comments from people who had similar experiences with Mr. Maitland.
Also, a recent comment from Nov 22, 2016 by a long-time member of the TNMC community:
…I just want to acknowledge what you said as true. As a long term member of the organization I was and am truly shamed with this situation. A classical denial reaction is not what I would expect from us, or from any Buddhist practitioner, not for that extended period of time anyhow. I am truly sorry for your pain
Many people find themselves drawn to Arnaud Maitland and his teaching; he appears to be very charismatic.  But you only have to look a little beyond his surface charm to see that he holds none of the qualities of an authentic teacher in the Buddhist tradition.
The Dharma book Path of Heroes lists what the characteristics are of a qualified teacher (there is a similar discussion in Words of My Perfect Teacher, on examining a spiritual friend):
Necessary characteristics of the Spiritual Teacher
* The spiritual teacher must uphold the moral practice of the Bodhisattva
* The spiritual teacher must have learned the innumerable teachings of the collection relating to the Bodhisattva.
* The spiritual teacher must have realization of these teachings.
* The spiritual teacher must have supreme compassion.
* The spiritual teacher must be fearless.
* The spiritual teacher must have patient forbearance.
* The spiritual teacher must have a completely imperturbable mind.
* The spiritual teacher’s actions and words must accord with one another.
There are very few teachers who have these characteristic, and Mr Maitland is not one of them. If you have had any experience with Mr Maitland, his failures to meet the qualifications on this list are obvious. If you have not, then here are some of the ways in which he has behaved in ways that are completely opposite to these requirements.
* The spiritual teacher’s actions and words must accord with one another.
Mr Maitland frequently, with feigned humility, admitted that he does not uphold the teachings, that he is a flawed human being who is not the best example for anyone to follow. He has been ‘practicing’ the Dharma for 40 years, and teaching for nearly that long. And yet he still cannot and does not display the main characteristics of the teachings he professes to love and has dedicated his life to – something is very wrong with that.
Mr Maitland has stated that Kum Nye can be taught separately from the Dharma; that is a convenience that he himself invented, for in the opening of Joy of Being, it specifically states that the knowledge embedded in Kum Nye is why Dharma is a symbol of healing and transformation. Kum Nye and the Dharma are intimately entwined, so if you learn Kum Nye properly, you begin to embody the Dharma as well. Mr Maitland is neither an embodiment of Kum Nye nor the Dharma.
* The spiritual teacher must uphold the moral practice of the Bodhisattva
It has already been discussed on this blog and in other places how Mr Maitland has repeatedly transgressed this by approaching students for inappropriate sexual relationships, sometimes even under the guise of being special Nyingma practices. This is the very worst abuse of spiritual leadership, and Mr Maitland has done this many times over the years that he has been teaching Kum Nye and the Dharma.
* The spiritual teacher must have supreme compassion.
In the years that I studied and worked for Mr Maitland, compassion was rarely mentioned, and even more rarely displayed. Mr Maitland often expressed a withering distain for his students, his colleagues, and even his direct reports, if they displayed any faults or difficulties. He frequently made very derogatory remarks about his long-time students, about the colleagues he had worked with for decades, and even about the volunteers who had sacrificed and made commitments to work for him.
* The spiritual teacher must have patient forbearance and the spiritual teacher must have a completely imperturbable mind
Those who have studied or worked with Mr Maitland for a long time know that he has neither patient forbearance nor an imperturbable mind. During my service with Dharma Publishing, Mr Maitland got very angry on many occasions, once calling a meeting to rally the entire group to condemn one person who made a mistake; on another occasion, enraged with me for some small issue, he actually swore and yelled at me for nearly 45 minutes.
I post this information because if you are new to working with Mr Maitland, or have not worked with him continually over a period of time, you may not be aware of these things, and they are important to know when making a choice about something as important as a spiritual teacher.

“There have been issues with Arnaud (Maitland) in the past…”

This email was sent by Jack Petranker, longtime member of Tarthang Tulku’s organizations, sent me this e-mail when the organization decided to take action against Mr Maitland after learning (for the second time) about his sexual harassment of and retaliation toward me – the emphasis on the sentence there have been issues is mine:

Jack Petranker <> Sat, May 11, 2013 at 6:21 PM Reply­To:

Hi       ,
Apart from me, Ralph, and Carolyn (and Janet), Leslie has been brought in as well.

What I meant about handling this “with care” is that we want to treat it seriously; there have been issues with Arnaud in the past, as I’m sure you know, and it does not seem right to look the other way.

We will be discussing where we stand by phone tomorrow. If you have any wishes about how you’d like us to proceed, that would be helpful. We’re aware of your wish to stay active at DP and especially with Kum Nye Dancing.

Best wishes, Jack

Jack Petranker, Director

Center for Creative Inquiry

New ways to know . . . . . more ways to experience

Here is an image of the actual e-mail:

There have been issues with Arnaud in the past

As you can see in comments on other entries on this blog, other women have mentioned that they know people who were also harassed by Mr Maitland or that they themselves were.

Mr Maitland is not the only member of the Nyingma organizations who approached students in this way. Mr Petranker made an inappropriate gesture toward me when I was working for him; fortunately, he backed off when I told him it was inappropriate and I hoped it would never happen again.

One has to ask oneself it one wants study with, support, or be a part of an organization that would turn a blind eye to this kind of behavior. It is because people continue to support organizations that allow this type of behavior that it can be allowed to continue. It is bad enough when it happens in ordinary workplaces, but to happen in a space where someone comes for spiritual training and refuge, that goes against everything that the Dharma is about.

Though the organizations say that they teach and spread the teachings of the Dharma and of Tarthang Tulku, I am fairly certain that neither the Dharma nor Tarthang Tulku would condone sexual harassment. Anyone who would support or defend the position and actions that the Nyingma organizations have taken over the years with regard to sexual harassment clearly does not embody, practice, or even understand the Dharma. People were thrown out of sanghas in the time of Shakyamuni Buddha for repeated transgressions like this, and even lesser ones. That is the standard we need to have in this day and age as well.

Sexual harassment in Buddhist organizations

Yesterday I went to small claims court with a case against Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center (TNMC), to recover funds they offered to pay me after I was sexually harassed by one of their long-time, senior members.

The person representing TNMC was Jack Petranker, lawyer, and another long-time member. Although Mr Petranker was not the person who sexually harassed me, he had also engaged in inappropriate behavior towards me, though thankfully, he had the sense to back off when I told him that it was unwelcome and should never happen again.

I presented evidence that representatives of the organization who were handling my instance of sexual harassment (there apparently have been many) suggested that I go to India on pilgrimage to recover, and offered to pay for the trip and additional money so that I would have resources to re-orient myself when I returned to the US after my travels.

Mr Petranker, who was a party to nearly all the e-mails that were exchanged at the time, in response to my evidence, said nothing about the harassment or the original intent of the committee to help me recover from the harassment and the brutal retaliation that followed when I said no.

In his attempts at putting up a defense to my claim, Mr Petranker showed his character. He tried to lie and misdirect the court from the facts of the case, which were that I was harmed, and the organization was responsible and had offered to provide compensation to remedy that harm.

A wonderful friend who spent the whole day with me, driving me to court and staying in the courtroom until my case was called pointed out that Mr Petranker did not acknowledge the harassment or express any regret or sorrow about what happened. Mr Petranker, a long time member of TNMC and allegedly a long time Buddhist, showed no kindness or compassion. And in his very first statement to the court, he deliberately lied, in an effort to mislead the court into simply dropping the case.

Then the judge asked him “Procedure aside, what would you like to say regarding the merits of the case? Can you dispute the plaintiff’s claim that someone from your organization offered her money to recover from the harassment?” He could not. Instead, he offered more lies and misdirection, which I then refuted.

How different it could have been if Mr Petranker had been willing to apologize and to acknowledge the harm done. How much more humane, let alone Buddhist. You don’t have to be a Buddhist for 40 years to be kind; in fact, if you have been a Buddhist for 40 years and the best you can come up with in the face of someone’s pain and suffering, particularly pain and suffering that you had a part in causing, is lies and denial, then it seems to me that those 40 years have clearly been a big waste of time.

Engaging in right action

You have to ask yourself what kind of organization do you want to associate yourself with, give your time, energy, and perhaps money to. It boggles the mind to think that any organization, let alone a Buddhist one, would allow a person known to sexually harass its customers and employees to remain in their position without doing something. Further, it is also unconscionable that they would make the person subject to this person’s bad behavior suffer even more as a result, by having them leave and treating them badly as well, in the interests of what they probably believe is protecting the organization. All this solely because the sexual harasser brings in a significant amount of money for the organization.

When money is the main motivator, virtue and right action are a distant, perhaps even non-existent second place. A Buddhist organization that does not balance its need for funding with the more important requirement to embody the teachings is in very bad shape indeed. Clearly, those leaders have not understood the Dharma at all. There is no teaching that says that if you need money and you ostensibly use it for the Dharma, you are allowed to discard moral discipline and right action at will. Even the most liberal, modern interpretation of the teachings would not support the idea that sexual harassment and manipulation are included in moral discipline, or that protecting someone who does these things is right action.  And yet, people who would call themselves long-time practicing Buddhists, some for over 30 years, believed that this type of behavior was consistent with what they had be taught and been ‘practicing’ for such a long time. It behooves us to ask whether we’d like to support an organization run by people who operate with these types of beliefs. Actually, what the teachings do say is that if you dedicate yourself to the Dharma, what you need will be provided for you (see The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, and The Life of Shabkar, and many other teachings.)

What can one do? In these degenerate times, it is difficult to find qualified teachers or excellent organizations to join. In the Dhammapada, it says that it is actually harmful to interact with teachers and groups that are not sincere and excellent practitioners. It also says that if you cannot find people (and by extension organizations) that are excellent examples and embodiments of the Dharma, then it is really better to study the Dharma on your own.

Perhaps you have interacted with the organizations that are part of the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center, which are the ones that Mr Maitland has been associated with for nearly 40 years. Or you have interacted with other organizations, Buddhist or otherwise, that have left you uninspired and wondering whether there is any good left in the world. We have to ask ourselves if we want to continue to support organizations that do not meet these simple standards, if we want to continue to give them our time, our energy, and our money, because what we support flourishes. Let’s make a commitment right away to only support those organizations and leaders that are inspiring and truly doing good things in the world.