Dear Senior Students, Instructors and Administrators,
What you say and do right now is of upmost importance, given the current crisis surrounding allegations of abuse. Many people are waiting and watching to see how Sogyal Rinpoche, Rigpa International and National Rigpa organizations respond after SR’s initial letter to the sangha, to decide whether to remain a Rigpa student or to leave.
Silence, denial, and exclusion of certain voices may very well tip people further and further away from Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa or cause them to leave entirely.
For example, here’s feedback offered by one student after the first delayed stream of the Ngondro Retreat in Lerab Ling:
“Not once in recent weeks had I lost interest in being a part of the Rigpa Sangha. I consistently felt optimism about the possibility for connection and renewal offered by the cracking-open that is underway.
That came crashing down when I saw ‘The Important Message Regarding the Delayed Streaming’ at the outset of the delayed streaming of the Ngondro Retreat.
My body heaved, as if I would be sick when mention of Bodhichitta was not included when the Ngöndro practices being held during the retreat were listed!
How symptomatic, emblematic.
I felt ill, sad, disappointed, stunned. Nothing in all the letters, published articles, Facebook posts and personal discussions of recent weeks has discouraged me as much as that 4-minute video. And then for it to be followed by a (symptomatic, emblematic) sudden shift to re-runs of old teachings interspersed with business-as-usual commentary by a smiling senior student.
I was incredulous initially, to receive the same-old-same-old. But then I realized, this is what is.
As I listen carefully to the teachings in this stream, and listen carefully to the student commentary, and see no evidence of how these teachings are integrated and embodied and then applied to the current situation, I find it unskillful, inept and insane. Listening to so many words like ‘when you learn them, they become part of you’ is such a perversion when this golden opportunity to be creative and present the embodiment of the teachings was squandered.
What is left of the Rigpa team that is putting together the streams is doing what it knows, what it can. No doubt. So be it. But oh how much more the same-old-same-old stings in this current context.
May the team be happy; may the team be well. May the team be filled with loving-kindness. May we all be happy; may we all be well. May we all be filled with loving-kindness.
Grateful for the lineage and the teachings, the universal sangha of teachers and practitioners everywhere, grateful for the The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and the access that Rigpa International has created for the intensive option home retreat, The AEPE, and the delayed streaming of retreats, I am for the first time, ever, truly considering whether to continue to be affiliated with Rigpa.”
Feedback from Marilyn Babcock, published with permission.
Please, senior students, listen to, care for, and include everyone. Please remember, people who have left and people who feel harmed are unlikely to attend formal discussion groups organized by Rigpa. You cannot get the full picture without considering how to open up more widely. How will you do this?
Perhaps you need a neutral third party to assist you? Consider the Olive Branch:
“An Olive Branch brings the calming influence of a neutral third party, inspired by the tradition of Buddhist teaching that stretches over 2500 years.”
Some are wondering why, after promising to go into retreat, Sogyal Rinpoche presented at the 7th World Youth Buddhist Symposium today and streamed a Facebook live with Khenpo Sodargye. Will he keep his promises to us? (You can see photos and the FB live in Khenpo Sodargye’s FB stream.)
Thank you for listening.
To whoever is reading this, let YOUR voice be heard too. Send your thoughts, feedback, and requests for Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa International to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any thoughts to share here, let us know in the comments. Please use initials rather than full names when referring to teachers and organizations.
More personal and private support for current and previous students of R can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite. Include a link to your Facebook profile or the email address you use on Facebook.