by Anonymous* (meditation instructor, kusung)
I feel it is finally time for me to say something. I’ve had a lot of time to think. For many of you, you have perhaps paid cursory attention to the disintegration of the Dharma Ocean community, or, perhaps some of you reading were close participants in that, or varying degrees in between. I am not any of the people you have heard from before in personal public letters, nor has my name been signed on to any such letters. I have read all of them. I am, however, a former extremely close student of Reggie Ray. I know all of the people who have spoken up. Many of them I have been very close with in the past, and of course, have had many, many shared experiences with these folks, in retreat, at social gatherings, and all of the other experiences that made up our lives in that community.
I am speaking up now because of the lingering sense that more truth needs to be told. I want to be very clear that while I do not deny any other former community member’s experience, I am not speaking up for any other reason than to share my experience, and I want what I have to say to be taken as wholly separate from others’ efforts to speak about their experiences. Though there are some similarities, there are also stark differences. Though I will leave it to the reader to find the common threads.
I do feel, however, that I need to make some bold statements, which I will do shortly. Before I do, I want the reader to know I not make these lightly. I also want the reader to know that I was an extremely sincere and devoted student for over 15 years. I used to be teased for how devoted I was. I was praised by Reggie, and he never, ever, doubted my devotion. At the time, I felt myself to have sacrificed, willingly, and happily, my entire life, and specifically the prime of my youth, to my training with Reggie, to our community, but also, and importantly, to the future I thought we were all committed to building. It is with a deep sense of betrayal that I look back on the whole of that time and what became of it, or rather, how coldly and vanishingly fast Reggie abandoned that project, and his students.
Here is what I can now boldly say about it: all of it was a scam. Reggie Ray is a fraudulent teacher. Reggie Ray exhibited, as revealed over time, a deep and profound disloyalty to his community, and to me personally. He positioned himself as the leader of, according to him, the most precious, profound, special, rare, and powerful spiritual lineage of teachings in the world, and asked his students to trust him with their souls. He completely and profoundly betrayed my trust that I regretfully gave him.
I will not be divulging details or making an argument or pleading a case as to why this is. Others have done such dissections, and I respect that they did. I also respect that that was right for them to do in a public way. I however, simply want to make a statement of warning for any people considering trusting Reggie Ray in any kind of way as a teacher or spiritual guide: I strongly caution you against that.
Reggie Ray uses false spiritual teachings to manipulate people into emotional openness and passivity in order to take their energy and fill an emptiness inside himself, which I believe is actually caused, or at least perpetuated, by the very false teachings he practices and propagates. This last statement might be a differentiation in some readers’ minds between my message and that of other former community members. I do not just make the claim that Reggie Ray is a personally flawed or abusive person. I make the claim that the very “teachings” he professes are a weapon he uses to harm people. The problem is not just Reggie Ray. It is Reggie Ray and his false teachings.
Nearly every single one of my former very close friends (some are still friends) and community members feel some version of this. The sense of betrayal is deep. It takes many forms in people’s experiences. But the common theme that I see is that of deception. Simply put, the project of the spiritual training and community building that Reggie Ray enlisted all of us in was a lie.
I am likely only able to see these things because I have been blessed to have found an actual, wholesome, truthful spiritual tradition and community. In my new community, I am struck by the lack of all of the things that, in Dharma Ocean, were framed as evidence of the “profundity” of the lineage. For example, the intense paranoia that was framed as “groundlessness”. Reggie Ray uses these false spiritual teachings to constantly keep his students in a state of uncertainty, and he frames that uncertainty as a spiritual value. In reality, it is an intentional attempt at keeping his students off balance and weak.
One very interesting trend I began to notice over the years in Dharma Ocean is that people were not thriving in their personal lives. And the ones that were, tended to move on from Dharma Ocean and Reggie Ray. The few who might be said to have been thriving were the exception, and often they were the ones granted special status within the community, and had really given up almost every other pursuit in their lives to have that status. Some were teaching a version of Reggie’s teachings in a professional capacity, or just working full-time for Dharma Ocean itself. But, there were no community people that were just regular, normal, everyday, people, with regular jobs, that stuck around, and thrived. And especially, I can’t think of a single example of a young person who came to Reggie in their youth, found his teachings, became healthier, found their way in life, and thrived professionally and personally outside of Dharma Ocean, and built a family. Dharma Ocean was a way station for lost souls, and not a place that led people to growth and healing. I was one of those. Reggie Ray was not a good shepherd.
I wish you all blessings as you seek, and deserve, healing. God bless you all.
*for information on why some students protect their identities see our BITE model