What Readers are Saying
‘Written with spiritual insight, emotional literacy, and common sense, this down-to-earth, wise, and healing book should be read by anyone who is thinking of joining, is part of, or thinking of leaving a religious group, whether it is Buddhist or not.’ Geoffrey Beatson, psychotherapist.
‘Wise. Wise by virtue of not trying to be. Wise by its swiftness and vulnerability. By its ability to integrate a huge amount of information from different sources – journalistic, scholarly, historical, spiritual. By its unpretentious narrative documentation of the author’s waking up to a grounded view of her own spiritual practice. …
‘There’s no ponderous, abstract bullshit on the nature of the dharma or the human heart, though of course these are the central subjects. Rather, she’s reporting her own “waking up” process, and binding together a huge compendium of resources for victims of spiritual abuse – both within her community and in comparable situations. She’s also documenting a history that happened in part through blogs and Facebook groups and would be lost to future historians: this is excellent sociological data of the participant-observer sort. And it’s also a thorough, well-documented, highly readable telling of the story of the undoing of Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche. …
‘It feels like an act of love. This labor means that this resource will be available in a timely manner to people recovering from the situation she describes. It’s also a great resource to many of us recovering from revelations of abuse in a variety of spiritual communities in the wake of #metoo.
‘The writing is so damn good. With the exception of a few narrative flourishes, it is so straightforward that it’s more or less invisible. This clarity, and ability to modulate her voice in the narrative (it’s her story, but it’s NOT about her), is commendable for someone going through a traumatic process of having her entire worldview torn apart. You get a great sense of Newland’s mind and heart here. But what you never get, reader, is bogged down in rumination or speculation. This is story and good strong critique. She narrates with detail and multiple perspectives while still being direct and a super-fast read. It’s fast because it absorbs you.’ Angela Jamison, academic and yoga instructor.
‘In recent years the long-standing problem of physical, sexual and psychological abuse of students by their spiritual teachers has been revealed and highlighted. Tahlia Newland takes the classic case of Sogyal Lakar and the Rigpa organisation to explore and try to understand the dynamics behind this painful issue. Her report lays bare the harm and anguish left behind in the wake of such appalling behaviour and the subsequent efforts, by those who seek to maintain their power and control, to condone such conduct and meanwhile denigrate the victims. In this feudal outlook, both physical violence and sexual predatory behaviour towards dependents are viewed as acceptable. In certain cases this power-based attitude has sought to be imported into Western Dharma circles. This is a complete distortion of the impeccable Vajrayana path and creates much confusion, disenchantment and pain. So we are grateful to Ms Newland for bravely looking into this controversial issue with such compassion and insight.’ Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo.
‘This fine work reveals the excruciating pain, resistance and fear of those within the Rigpa organisation as they grapple with a huge shift in perspective of the teacher they loved and admired—the insightful, brilliant and yet deeply flawed author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying—and shows how people can come together in the age of the internet to find truth and express love and caring for one another. The author captures this painful moment in Buddhism’s history where cruelty—that most harmful of human flaws and the polar opposite of loving-kindness—has crept into and corrupted the Buddhadharma. She brings both compassion for survivors and deeply penetrating wisdom, dispelling the myth of crazy wisdom and enlightenment-by-abuse with a clear-headed vision.’ Dr Jack Wicks
‘Written with passion and clarity, this shocking expose is a must-read for anyone who has ever been involved with Rigpa and a compelling account of what can go wrong in religious groups for everyone else. Though she pulls no punches, Newland writes with compassion for the victims and makes an attempt at understanding the flawed human beings behind the guru masks. Tibetan Buddhism as always seemed like the ‘good guy’ of religions; to discover corruption of the message at the heart of some groups is painful, even for one who has only ever been an outsider.’ Barbara Scott Emmett, author.
‘This book provides a courageous and disturbing account of disillusionment and eventual break from a Tibetan Buddhist cult. Newland writes with authority and bravery, pulling no punches in her confrontation of the issues. She has put an enormous amount of research into this book, and it shows on every page. Testimonials from other ex-members of the cult abound. This book isn’t just one woman’s story, it’s the tale of an entire community coming to grips with what they’ve endured, and in many cases, enabled. The book is clearly written for the Buddhist community, with terminology and references unique to the religion, but its lessons and insights can be relevant for people from all walks of life. Highly recommended for those trapped in abusive situations, as well as those who want to safeguard their minds against falling into similar traps.’ Amy Spahn, author.
‘Fallout has been to me an unexpected gift of clarity and compassion. As a survivor of spiritual abuse in Tibetan Buddhism myself, I want to deeply thank Tahlia Newland for making this work available to everyone. It’s based on the Rigpa experience but it applies to all Tibetan Buddhism. To me it’s more than a book, it’s a manual for recovering from this kind of trauma. … If you’ve been in a cult, or have been a victim of spiritual abuse and institutional betrayal, reading Fallout could literally be even better than going to a psychologist, because it will go straight to the point, it will take you step by step through a process of recognizing what you’ve been through, in order to deal with it. … Even though I’ve built a new life for myself, this book allowed me to look back without the feeling of being alone, blamed or misunderstood. Finally all this makes sense and I can put a name on all the past experiences and situations! I can now freely say without any regret, “This indeed happened, and it was not my fault, I was right to speak up, and it’s ok not to forgive”.’ Dr J Perez
‘Fallout is a book one can delve into again and again to understand how abusive charismatic gurus come to be and how to avoid their web of abuse. It should be in every school, college and public library and on the curriculum of religious study courses to warn everyone about the dangers lurking on the spiritual path. I couldn’t put the book down.’ Marion McKenna
Everyone concerned about Tibetan Buddhism in the West or the wide issue of abuse in religion in general should read this book. In Fallout, Tahlia Newland, a long time former student of Sogyal Rinpoche, tells with great empathy, clarity and depth from her first hand experience what it means when you have to realise that your spiritual teacher is not who you thought he was. … Regarding the ongoing historical process of transmitting Tibetan Buddhism to the West, Fallout is an important and outstanding contribution to its necessary scrutiny.’ Bernd Zander