Joanne Clark Bio
I am American, a mother of three biological daughters and four step-children and most of my life has been devoted to the duties of mother and now grandmother. I also spent nine years living with and caring for my aging mother, who died in 2013. I have a Batchelor Degree in English education and taught for three years in Melbourne, Australia before the birth of my first daughter. I spent much of the following years volunteering and working in alternative education, first within my stepsons’ small community school in the city and later within my daughters’ small, parent-run community school in an outer suburb.
When I moved back to the US to marry my second husband, I home-educated various numbers of our combined family of five daughters. I was one of a small group of parents who started a local home-school co-operative.
My interest in the Dharma began in 1998 when I became involved in Rigpa New York. For reasons that I still don’t fully understand and that are too complicated to discuss in a brief bio, this ended very badly, with my mental health (and marriage) in ruins. I turned to a Kagyu monastery for help, which also ended badly. From then on, I have continued my spiritual path away from Dharma centres, studying and practicing from the teachings of HH Dalai Lama and from the past masters of India and Tibet.
While living with my mother, I completed my Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. I completed my internship and worked for a brief period as a Crisis clinician. I stopped working when my mother’s needs increased. After her death, I volunteered and trained as a counsellor for survivors of sexual assault with the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for two years. I ended this upon moving back to Australia where I am now spending most of my time caring for grandchildren so that my daughter can return to work.
I have been writing about controversial issues within Western Buddhist Dharma Centres for eight years now. Though I feel confident that my mental health is now stable, my experiences within Rigpa and the Kagyu Centre have left a deep mark of harm on my life and the lives of my family members. I am devoted towards better understanding both my own role in this harm and the role that members of Tibetan Buddhist Communities have played. I want to better understand how a religion that I treasure, a religion with such remarkable teachings on love, compassion and wisdom can be used to create environments of ignorance and harm. This is why I write and try to contribute a little to the important conversation Western Dharma students are having about these difficult issues.
[a bio will be posted soon …]