Ato Rinpoche Replies

On November 22, we received a reply from Ato Rinpoche. It was short and to the point, clearly responding to our request. Here is the response:

Greetings to the signatories of the letter below!
I am reticent by nature and by training reluctant to criticise the behaviour of others.  In the present circumstances, however, I do now plainly state that the abusive behaviour outlined in the letter by eight Rigpa students last year – if it is true, and I have no reason to doubt it –  is not acceptable to me.
For sound advice on the Teacher/Pupil relationship I would recommend reading Patrul Rinpoche and heeding the advice repeatedly given by the Dalai Lama.
Ato Rinpoche.

67 Replies to “Ato Rinpoche Replies”

  1. Well, good for Ato Rinpoche!
    There is no way to know if he is a hypocrite or not, (behaving differently than he speaks), but at least his letter *sounds* good. He doesn’t suggest that people try to reconcile or “make up” with Sogyal. Also, he doesn’t make any excuses for him, or give any holier-than-thou lectures, hints, or instructions on not feeling angry. So, I give a thumbs up to his response. It’s short, but to the point.

  2. Now I am curious to know what Patrul Rinpoche said on the Teacher/Pupil relationship. Which specific text is Ato Rinpoche is referring to?

    1. It will be The Words of My Perfect Teacher. It’s a traditional text which you would probably hate because it says that once you’ve taken empowerments from a teacher, you shouldn’t criticise and should serve them with body, speech and mind and all that kind of stuff. However it also makes it very clear that this only applies after you have carefully and rigorously chosen a genuine teacher, not a fake, and he makes it clear what the difference is between them.
      Had I actually looked at that section on discriminating between real teacheres and fakes with any sort of clear head before I got snagged by Sogyal, I would have seen that he never came up to Patrul Rinpoche’s guidelines – even without knowing what went on behind the scenes – but I never had that book at that point. And when I did get it, unfortunately, I believed that section irrelevant to me because I’d already had an introduction and been told by Sogyal that I was his teacher and I was stuck with him. Also I was being brainswashed from my first retreat to see the abuse that I did see as kindness. We studied that text, but, of course, skipped over that section pretty quick, and it was not emphasised as it should have been, for reasons that are obvious to me now – the rest of the book is kind of a treatise on unquestioning devotion and so it can easily be manipulated for a teacher’s gain. The integrity of this whole system depends on choosing a worthy teacher and worthy teachers are in short supply these days.
      Since beginners would never buy that book, they don’t know how almost imppossible it is to find anyone who warrants that kind of devotion, and unscrupulous lamas like Sogyal use that ignorance to their advantage, as you know, and that’s why it’s so vital that we get behind the scenes and share what we find publically. Without that, students have no way of knowing what these guys are really like.
      And looking at some of DZK’s students these days, I can also see that even when the bad qualities are staring students in the face, some will ignore the evidence and rigorously defend someone who clearly doesn’t fit the bill. Some students are too easily blinded by an entertaining personality and/or seduced by the crazy wisdom guru concept (as many of us were), which is why we need to temper Patrul Rinpoche’s teachings with the Dalai Lama, Mingyur Rinpoche and Tenzin Palmo’s interpretation that even after taking a teacher, you still should never give up your discernment, and always keep your common sense, and understand that, in the words of Tenzin Palmo, “It is not a breakage of samaya to say, ‘No.'”

      1. Well said, Tahlia. I was told by a Nyingma lama to read that text three times in the space of a month, along with its commentary. When he asked me what I had gotten out of it, my mind went blank and all I could think of was “devotion.” It didn’t help me sadly.
        That said, Patrul Rinpoche himself lived a life of renunciation. There is a story of how once his monastery became too crowded with devotees and he took off and disappeared. His students went searching for him and they came to the house of an elderly woman and asked her if she had seen him. She told them that she had only seen a monk who was a beggar and he was working for her in exchange for his room and board. At that moment he came out of the house carrying her chamber pot to empty it and it was Patrul Rinpoche.

      2. @Moonfire,
        Yes, I have heard ‘The Words of My Perfect Teacher’ at least quoted quite a bit. I personally think that this text is a set up for abuse, since it promotes unquestioning devotion to the guru, etc. This text is probably not for beginners, at the very least.

      3. The big no according to Patrul Rinpoche would have been that there is no way to check SR for qualities, personality and behaviour because you have zero chance to have personal contact with him and hang out around him to observe how he behaves in normal social situations of everyday life.

        1. @thewindhorse,
          There is really no way to check the teacher, unless you are already close enough to be able to hang out with them in different personal situations. How do you become part of the inner circle unless you’re already a close student, lol? The whole thing is illogical to me.

          1. Mmh, not true. For example Tulku Pema Wangyal, I have been present when he helped take down the decoration of the big tent where some events had been conducted, he even helped sort the trash (he just laughed when he saw my jaw drop as I rounded the corner, it seems others had the same reaction before me), then later he personally served the food in the evening when we all sat around the camp fire and told us stories of the 84 mahasiddhas to our meal.
            Those are fairly normal everyday situations and the way he treated any person being present, old student or complete newbie equally this day was pure kindness.
            Now of course after observing that he could theoretically still be hiding some serious personal vices but based on these personal observations of everyday interactions with a range of people I find it extremely unlikely.

            1. @thewindhorse,
              I knew a lama where I was able to share some of the same kinds of experiences you described above. However, I wasn’t naive enough to think that relaxing and kind of “hanging out” with a lama in an informal context is the same thing as really *knowing* them on a truly personal level, or “spying” on them, as the Dalai Lama recommends. What you describe isn’t enough to really *know* someone. Also, are you a guy or a pretty girl? I have a feeling he might behave differently with a woman, but maybe that’s just the skeptic in me.

              1. @thewindhorse,
                I meant to say if he was *alone* with a pretty woman he might act differently. You’re talking about semi-public gatherings where he is still going to be on his best behavior.

        2. @thewindhorse,
          So the same would apply to just about ANY Tibetan teacher that one wold meet on a tour, giving teachings, etc. There is no way to check ANY of them, other than to just listen to what they say, etc. Most people can’t just run off to India and study with a teacher personally in some kind of private retreat setting.

          1. (And by the time you’re in a retreat with a teacher, you’ve already taken them as a guru, or you wouldn’t be in a retreat in the first place, lol!)

  3. This inner dialogue reduced her anxiety, allowing her to trauma bond (Stockholm Syndrome) with her abuser, to the point that she will even protect him from the outside world if people attempt to rescue her or encourage her to leave
    “very often there will be sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse and psychological abuse. He or she doesn’t see them as individuals but as objects. They are there to (ab)use” says Christine in:

    Let us heal, forgive and better protect ourselves

  4. The most important is the advice given by the daila lama, the mixing of the culture of feudalism with buddhism must be addressed. I think that when he is referring to Patrul Rinpoche the words of my perfect teacher, he has that section in mind about how to rely on a teacher ” don’t rely on a teacher but his words, don’t rely on the words but the meaning etc etc. This is in accordance with the balanced view of the dalai lama who said if you criticise a person, besides the wrong points it is also fair to address the good points of someone.

  5. There’s another quote from Patrul Rinpoche’s book that says that those who are considered tulkus, or who style themselves that way, should devote themselves to study and retreats, and not just run around looking for offerings “as soon as they’re big enough to ride a horse.”

    1. @beenthere
      The words of my perfect teacher has a whole chapter about the practice of Vajrasattva, everything can be purified that is hopefull and counts for everyone who goes astray.

  6. By the way, the much-anticipated gathering of Tibetan Buddhist lineage heads (at which the problems of Sogyal, etc., were to have been discussed) has now been postponed owing to the recent death in an accident of Kathok Getse Rinpoche, the official “head” of the Nyingmapas in exile.

    1. I was wondering what happened to the November meeting they were going to have. Of course, you realize that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Dalai Lama’s plans for his succession plans, and that was the main reason for calling the meeting. They were going to discuss other things to, but the main focus was to be the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation, etc.
      So, now what? Are they going to have to wait until a new head of the Nyingma sect is named and installed? That could take some time.

  7. @ Rick New
    A belated reply to your comment about context ( among other things ) in the last thread.
    There are several comments that I think are very perceptive here, about this advice to take time to evaluate a teacher before making a commitment. It’s currently being used as a subtle way of saying: “Well; if you’d have read the right texts and done your homework, you’d never have been taken in by Sogyal”………once more it’s veering close to victim blaming.
    Except by now most of us have understood the obvious contradictions and practical impossibilities of this, directly from our own costly experience. And of course most of those giving this advice are the very same teachers who tacitly or actively endorsed Sogyal for years, long after the first scandal and that well-publicized out-of-court settlement.
    How many of our doubts about him were very effectively neutralized by thinking: “Well if all these widely respected lamas from different schools and all the lineage heads are turning up, he must be authentic and reliable.”
    Realistically, given this collective, universal high-level endorsement ( and even if we already knew Patrul Rinpoche’s advice by heart ) who would have actually said: “No, I’ll keep checking ’d for another 10 years…..just to be safe.”? …….it’s pure nonsense.
    It reminds me too much of: “Obviously you didn’t read all the fine print did you?” and as such has made my default mode much the same as if I was dealing with a corporation which will do everything to get your business but nothing to help and wriggle out of their responsibilities when you complain.
    I once queried a defective product sold with a ‘lifetime guarantee’ only to be told: “No you’ve misunderstood, it means the lifetime of the product.” So, with a little cunning and sophistry, even reading the small print won’t make any difference.
    It might seem outlandish to compare Tibetan Buddhism to a network of interlinked corporations, but after all it’s now global in reach, worth billions of dollars, seeks permanent expansion and behaves in much the same way in terms of spin, PR and evasiveness, and it doesn’t even have any internal system of checks and balances, nor any sanctions for criminality or corruption. Interestingly, there’s no central authority as such, just an efficient commonality of purpose and method.
    It has hundreds or maybe thousands of executives and senior management who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and their lifestyles.
    I met Ato Rinpoche several times and received teachings from him, he always struck me as someone with a great deal of humanity, kindness and integrity and I don’t have the slightest doubt that he’s totally sincere, but I wonder what impact a few isolated individual voices like his, a tiny minority, no matter how genuine, can possibly have on the vast, complex institution of Tibetan Buddhism with its collective ambition.
    By way of comparison: since its creation around the 4th century the Catholic Church has waged wars, committed genocide, blocked progress, fostered intolerance, misogyny, bigotry and obscurantism, burnt people for disagreeing and in recent years been exposed for institutionalized paedophilia……… yet it has never ceased to get bigger and richer with each passing year, until now it’s thought to be one of the richest organizations on the planet.
    This is the nature of religion, and Tibetan Buddhism has a more benign history than Catholicism, but it shows all the same signs of a kind of unregulated religious capitalism so I can’t see any reason to believe that this scandal will do much more than give a few lamas a brief pause for thought before they carry on with business as usual.
    So that’s what the context is for me now.

    1. Thanks, @Pete. As always, I appreciate your replies.
      I share your context re: religious institutions, corporations, unregulated capitalism and include almost any type of organization that seeks to “grow.” as groupthink seems to be a built in requirement within this context. That was (and is) the biggest shock from me in terms of the Rigpa Organization: how conventional everything was in terms of power and structure. It’s as if we don’t have another way to think or act together.
      Within that shared context, what is our response-ability?
      One response might be to go back to our individual or family world, be kind to others and disassociate from these larger structures.
      This may do well for ourselves, however it seems to me some kind of larger response is required. Whether we participate or not, these larger structures are subsuming the entire planet and all creatures along with it.
      The contexts we set up seem like doorways to other questions. How do you think we might respond to our current context?

      1. @ Rick New
        I had exactly the same response as you when I realized that Rigpa and by inference Tibetan Buddhism in general, was so conventional in structure and power, ( I’d add ambition too.)
        That was a long time ago, but since then I’ve never encountered an organization that didn’t display most of these dynamics if examined closely. Whether this and the cult-like behaviour that seems to be a part of it is inevitable in humans I really don’t know for sure, but from the evidence I think it is.
        With our intelligence as a species we should be able to see how destructive this is, but I think our evolutionary biology is just too strong. By the time most people are old and experienced enough to grasp it, they’re at the sidelines and exhausted, and new generations are rearing to go, naive, full of hormones and ready to be manipulated into the same shit we’ve been doing for most of history.
        Hyper-intelligent predatory mammals with opposable thumbs, but also fore-knowledge of our own death. The former makes us dominant, the latter creates enough insecurity to crave the relief of transcendence and create religion. I suppose that could work, but it seems the predatory drive is so powerful it spills over into religion, co-opts it until it’s just another tool for accumulating power over others and their assets.
        This is predominantly a male activity, ( not necessarily a judgement but an observation ) I once read a piece by a woman who had spent her life working as a forensic pathologist, investigating brutal crime. She said she thought testosterone was the most dangerous molecule on the planet, it may have been facetious but it’s true in so many ways.
        This male hegemony is so entrenched, cult-like and abusive that a lot of women vote for Trump for instance:
        This makes a lot of sense but it’s grim reading.
        So in answer to your question about how we might respond………I honestly haven’t got a clue, no idea whatsoever.
        Individually we could walk away from Rigpa and stop experiencing the immediate effects, but when so many of the dominant political and financial systems of the entire world are run on the same principles, there’s nowhere left to walk to. We can only do so much to avoid the worst and try not to make it worse. It’s one thing to advocate individual, family and local activism, but until and unless our collective consciousness makes some sort of exponential surge, the effects are limited.
        I’m not sure we’re that intelligent…..basically lemmings with Dunning-Kruger syndrome.
        Apologies for such a pessimistic reply. But in terms of anyone who feels bad for getting drawn into such a shit-show as Rigpa: there’s definitely no need to be self-critical, it seems to happen to everyone everywhere at some time or other. It’s not your fault, just the way our species is.

        1. @ Pete
          Thanks for your reply.
          “I had exactly the same response as you when I realized that Rigpa and by inference Tibetan Buddhism in general, was so conventional in structure and power, ( I’d add ambition too.)
          That was a long time ago, but since then I’ve never encountered an organization that didn’t display most of these dynamics if examined closely. Whether this and the cult-like behaviour that seems to be a part of it is inevitable in humans I really don’t know for sure, but from the evidence I think it is.”
          It seems we see the way organizations develop in a similar way. This seems like a pretty big step forward. In fact, it’s only the second time I’ve heard someone recognize this as a problematic structuring. Though M. Moore did go some of this structuring in “Where To Invade Next?”
          You wrote:
          “Individually we could walk away from Rigpa and stop experiencing the immediate effects, but when so many of the dominant political and financial systems of the entire world are run on the same principles, there’s nowhere left to walk to.”
          “We can only do so much to avoid the worst and try not to make it worse. It’s one thing to advocate individual, family and local activism, but until and unless our collective consciousness makes some sort of exponential surge, the effects are limited.”
          Again I think we find ourselves in a similar spot. Again I’m asking if those arriving here, with some level of clarity and composure might continue to follow some of those threads, renew our energy and support one another in our efforts to engage.
          Perhaps that is precisely what you are doing here and I’m glad we had a chance to converse a bit about these things that seem so closely connected to What Now?
          Many regards,

  8. @ Pete and speaking of corporate think and its infectious ways, how much are we all infected? What are we doing here?
    From Matt Taibbi
    Manufacturing Consent was a dissection of propaganda at the structural level. It’s a macro-analysis.
    Hate Inc. – what I started off calling The Fairway – increasingly focused on deceptions that were more at the sentence level. It returned frequently to one theme: What most people think of as “the news” is really a particularly twisted wing of the entertainment business.
    In the Internet age, we in the press have mastered the art of monetizing anger, paranoia, and distrust. We’ve learned how to wind you up for profit.
    Because I spent so much of my career covering elections, and this happens to be the subject matter where this kind of manipulative media activity is most egregious, the book turned into a taxonomic survey of the tricks of modern American political journalism.
    I’m renaming this book Hate Inc. a) because I can, i.e. because b) the Substack formula allows it, and c) because I want to focus more on the theme of how shattering your peace of mind is our business model.
    Heading into a 2020 election season that promises to be a Great Giza Pyramid Complex of invective and digital ugliness, I want people to understand this book as a guide to all the unseen manipulations you will see and hear by the truckload in the 2019–2020 election season, and beyond.
    During my second campaign assignment, in 2007–2008, I started a secret hobby. As I followed candidates around the country, I’d grab a red pen and whatever paper I could find in the hotel lobby – a USA Today, frequently – and see how quickly I could mark up the deceptions on the front page. By the end of a campaign, I’d have most papers covered in red in under a minute.
    I want readers to be able to spot the same things. Does a 1200-word piece that is the last New York Times article before the Iowa caucus cite poll numbers eight times, and make only passing references to policy? Is the well-funded candidate with a history of flip-flopping “nuanced,” while the poorly-funded candidate with detailed and earnest proposals called “kooky”? Does a paper use a term like “highly delegative” about a politician when what they really mean is, “Too slow-witted to independently make decisions”?
    The modern media business is all about identifying demographics and serving them a steady diet of affirming opinion. If you feel negatively about any group or subject, we will serve you information that enhances that feeling. When you’re angry, we’ll make you angrier.
    When we think you’re thinking on your own too much, we’ll nudge you back toward the sensational and the non-reflective. The goal is to keep you spinning in an endless cycle of disgust and impotent anger. It’s the ultimate Orwellian trick: a consumer business in which the product is your own frustration. You are our power source.

  9. @Pete and @Rick, I agree. However, Pete, while the Catholic church has been dug in for centuries, Tibetan Buddhist culture is still in its infancy in the West and has pretty much crumbled in Tibet and is in various states of reform in India. Several major tulkus have bailed out, from the Kagyu and Gelug lineages. In all of those situations, there are real, historical challenges that will determine its future. So we can be dismal or hopeful about that future– but the real job for me is what I do each day waking up. And in this sense I am hopeful. As long as there is even one humble, good and decent lama, such as Ato Rinpoche, as long as there are texts that truly represent the teachings of the Buddha, then there is a spiritual life I can embrace. I think we owe it to ourselves to still honor something of what drew us to the Dharma in the first place and not let corruption interfere with our own spiritual potential.
    I have this little reminder written on my desk:
    “This is my simple religion.
    No need for temples.
    No need for complicated philosophy.
    Your own mind, your own heart, is the temple.
    Your philosophy is simple kindness.”
    HH Dalai Lama

    1. @ Joanne
      Yes, that’s a good point, I suppose the Catholic Church has a 500 year start on Tibetan Buddhism and has availed itself of every invention from gunpowder to digital technology, to pursue its missionary imperial ambitions. Also it’s only fair to say that nothing I ever heard of in Tibetan Buddhism comes even close to the violence of the Old Testament, the vicious zeal of some forms of Christianity and the dark corruption of the Catholic Church.
      Nobody expects the Tibetan Inquisition…..
      Anyway, I hope you’re right about the possibility for reform too, although I’m not optimistic about that myself. We’ve discussed this before, but I’m going to try my best to express something else about how I think we might differ.
      What you seem to be able to do that I can’t, is to make a clear separation between your own positive experiences of the path and all the other aspects that you understand to be destructive.
      I have to say, that’s a remarkable achievement, because you haven’t allowed yourself to be diverted from what you value by the negative context it was embedded in. I couldn’t even begin to do that, in fact it never occurred to me to try.
      Maybe this was because I was very closely involved indeed and when I left, I couldn’t compartmentalize or disentangle my experience like that at all, because the associations were just too many and too strong. I couldn’t tolerate anything that reminded me of what I had come to understand as deep and pervasive corruption and the awful damage it had wreaked on so many people. ( Of course at that stage I had no real idea how bad it would end up being.)
      The more I looked at Tibetan Buddhism without the wishful magical thinking and automatic deference that had sustained my commitment for so long, the more absurdly pretentious it appeared. Much of the philosophical system and world view seemed irrational and designed to create dependence and subservience. All very bloke-ish…..macho even.
      I realized that I had originally just been looking for peace of mind, clarity and simplicity but somehow ended up with a huge practice book of sadhanas that were meaningless to me, the size of a telephone directory, and obligations to recite hundreds of mantras, endless rituals… if I’d unthinkingly signed a life-long contract to act out a form of religious OCD and devote any spare time and energy to an increasingly pompous, bloated organization led by a little tyrant, that didn’t seem to have made anyone else happier either.
      Almost immediately, saying a single mantra seemed irreversibly tainted and praying to anyone or anything hollow and ridiculous. On a functional level this attitude helped a lot and I was able to resume my life very quickly, although I can’t claim it was by will-power or some sort of moral determination, it was just a character trait and I was very pissed off.
      That said, for other people with different experience, or different reactions, I can understand that there are benefits in Buddhism that can and do help them and apparently the physiological and psychological mechanisms are beginning to be quite well understood, from simple techniques like abdominal breathing reducing cortisol levels to the way that complex ritual has profound effects on the brain and changes perception.
      So, if anyone can, like you and others seem to have done, disentangle all that to their own satisfaction and whatever remains contributes to their well-being and happiness, then even a cynical, hard-line apostate like me can have no argument with that at all.
      In that respect maybe for you it doesn’t matter so much whether Tibetan Buddhism reforms itself, because you’ve already gone ahead and done the work for yourself. Could be a trend…….cut out the middle-men.

      1. Well said, Pete, thank you for sharing. In my experience on the “inside” I actually saw more corruption than I have disclosed or was willing to acknowledge until after I had left. So I totally get what you are saying. For myself, I was lucky that my rebellious tendencies interrupted my fast track to Vajrayana commitments etc. The lamas basically kicked me out right after I finished Ngondro. So when I stumbled away, all I had was my mental health in shambles and my bodhisattva and lay vows. Those vows made sense to me and they were part of my self worth. They didn’t belong to any lamas, they belonged to me. So I built it up from there– with the teachings of ancient Indian philosophers such as Santideva and Nagarjuna. Just basic logic and compassion and it was an approach that proved its worth for me. And I have a sense of stubborn justice that nobody was able to ruin my chances at the spiritual life of my choosing– and yes, I have a sense of devotion and respect for the Buddha and teachers, such as the Dalai Lama, who stay close to the basic, core teachings.
        It has been my experience that mis-use of the Vajrayana is the biggest part of the problem— or rather, how the Vajrayana is being used in the West for power and wealth and sex. That’s what I hear from you and Stephen Batchelor and so many others. I used to be sad that I missed out on the Karma Pakshi practice, but now I realize that I’m lucky. But of course there are other problems in the monasteries as well… I also like to read Milarepa’s songs before bed, because he reminds me that the Dharma really is about a solitary cold cave and exploring the worth within instead of focusing too much on externals.
        For myself, I haven’t stepped foot into a Dharma center since that day it nearly killed me and the closest I imagine I will come to one this lifetime will be when I start donating meals to a Thai monastery down the road.
        I totally agree with you, this whole situation stinks and it’s just tragic.

        1. @Pete, just to conclude, I am sure that we will continue to disagree– but disagreeing is just fine as long as we agree on the basics of human decency and our common need for peace of mind.

          1. @ Joanne
            Thanks for your thoughtful reply, I’ll respond when I have enough time to do it justice, but in the meanwhile: I’m sure that we do agree on those basics.

        2. @ Joanne
          Given your description of your experiences it’s even more surprising that you’ve managed to maintain any kind of spiritual path at all, let alone remain a Buddhist, I don’t imagine it’s been easy.
          The interesting thing is that it’s possible and that should give hope to all those who find themselves in similar situations…..that’s a lot of people these days.
          My own reaction to the corruption in Tibetan Buddhism that started to reveal itself in the 90’s has been entirely negative, ( apart from learning the hard way not to be a target for exploitation ) there’s nothing that I was taught that I’ve retained as being of value from all those years. It all seemed so toxic that I deliberately threw the baby out with the bath water, then the bath, after stripping out the plumbing and the tiles.
          That said, there’s plenty that I have in common with Buddhist ideas, but once I thought about it, I realized they were beliefs and behaviour that I had before becoming a Buddhist and they’re universal, but the problem is of course that they get appropriated by religions.
          If you can convince people you’ve invented and have a monopoly on something, it effectively becomes a commodity that they think belongs exclusively to you, and if they forget they have it too then it’s not difficult to make a good living constantly selling it back to them in slightly altered versions.
          “New Dzogchen removes those stubborn delusions and unsightly karmic traces that other practices just can’t shift.”
          I often used to wonder why we kept being given such a huge load of practices instead of just one that we could concentrate on….but now it’s obvious to me that marketing a business and retaining customers needs a constant supply of novelty items… our case a tantalizing, never ending list of wonderful practices each one guaranteed to work better than the previous one that you’d never had time to do thoroughly anyway.
          To avoid having to go out and get a job like the rest of us, Lamas have to keep their students coming back for more and so they have to make them psychologically dependent for life, ironically by hope and fear….and this is where realization, spiritual attainment, fortunate rebirth, devotion, samaya and the hell realms come in.
          It’s a very well thought-out and lucrative business model, a bit like being a drug dealer.
          Anyway, it’s encouraging to know that it’s possible to be a non-exploitable practitioner and student of Buddhism, it sounds so much healthier and closer to what I understand the original message of Buddhism to be.

    2. @ Pete @ Joanne
      Thanks for your posts.
      The crux of the situation for me is wholeness.
      Despite the initial positive quality that word seems to evoke, by just thinking about it for a few more minutes, it takes on a fiercer tone. Wholeness, by definition, seems like it must include everything.
      If we look for confirmation that violence is not part of who we are, and try to separate out from the situation in which we are entwined, then it seems that move adds to the violence in the world, despite our sincere wish for it to be otherwise.
      When we activate wholeness, violence isn’t out there anymore, it isn’t someone else, it is a deep part of who we are. It seems to me that if we can embrace violence as the compost for our work together, there is more hope for deeper change. There aren’t good guys and bad guys anymore, just the soup in which we find ourselves (together.)

  10. @Joanne
    Not letting corruption interfere with our own spiritual potential — that’s beautifully said, and what a great reminder of the power we have to keep our own path on a proper course!

  11. Taking the logic of silent complicity to extreme:
    DJK praises Aung San Suu Kyi’s silence in the face of atrocities and journalist imprisonment, and uses the coverage of the Rohyinga to launch into a whataboutism triade that Putin would be proud of, against the entire history of Western civilization.
    “We have to seek out westerners’ weak spot, which appears to be their pride and guilt.”

      1. I think this blogspace should be reserved for words concerning directly Ato Rinpoches reply, but nevertheless is Norbu as well a figure representing tibetan culture.
        While reading the well done response of the burmese buddhist and thinking of Norbus statement cant I stop of saying to myself: Once I admired Norbu and supported his projects, and nowadays I do consider him a person that desperately wants to attract attention to himself and that wants his followers to look up to him for his incredible output of smart sounding formulations.
        I consider his ongoing output of statements alike a kind of mental environment pollution. Sure, he just joints a big crowd of such people doing so, but he might end as a person not to be taken serious anymore.

  12. @RH,
    What would you expect from DKR? Of course, people admire people just like them, or at least who represent who they would like to be. So, why wouldn’t he admire a woman who made herself look so good, and then turned around and mastered the art of hypocrisy so perfectly, lol? Just like him! They are made for each other, so when is the wedding, lol? 😀
    By the way, I don’t know how relevant this is, but Aung San Suu Kyi was married to a Tibetan Buddhist, lol!
    (To think that Václav Havel (a true hero) gave up his Nobel Prize for her! Of course, he didn’t know her true colors then and he would be just appalled if he were alive today!)

    1. *I should say he was a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, Micheal Aris. So, Aung San Suu Kyi should feel right at home with DKR hanging out in Bhutan, (where she visited before with her late husband).

    1. Agree.
      Not all DKR ‘victims’ have remained blind to his character – to some he has revealed himself as a cold, cruel, manipulative, deceitful narcissist.
      Oops, that’s harsh speech!
      To the naughty corner – I mean ‘vajra hell’ – tout de suite!

  13. DK’s mind-set isn’t difficult to understand: as Oscar Wilde said: ” The only thing worse than being talked about……it’s not being talked about.”

  14. Before I read “The Words of My Perfect Teacher,” I had heard it praised to the skies by a number of devout Tibetan Buddhists (some of them Westerners) and put forward as required reading by several lamas. When I read it (having been instructed to read aloud parts of it every day) I threw the book down and abandoned my practice. That was the section on the horrors of hell–like a medieval Inquisitorial fantasy, or some garish Chinese temple tableau of torture scenes. The teacher-devotion motif is deeply feudal as well, although it made less of an impression on me. I thought to myself, is this the kind of religion I’ve been following? Is this really an improvement over secularism / other religions?
    Many (over half?) of the most prominent lamas out there strike me as worthless individuals, and yet they seem to be in charge of Tibetan Buddhism (or are deferred to as if they were), with the collective power to determine its ethos and beliefs. I now have a vexed relationship not only with Tibetan Buddhism, but with Buddhism in general. It is mainly romantic nostalgia that holds me back from repudiating them altogether. Maybe it would be better for me to move on, and damn them all to their own hell.

    1. If you find hells unacceptable, then buddhism is probably not the religious path for you, because the 6 realms as possible rebirth condition are teaching of all traditions of buddhism.
      You should check the doctrin of the new religion you want to follow BEFORE you get involved and then feel the need to bash it once you notice that the doctrin has parts you can’t stand.
      Not everyond needs to follow tantric buddhism, nor buddhism in general. You’ll probably find something else that is better suited to your personal tastes.

    2. @Beidawei, the Dalai Lama recommends that if people find it difficult to accept the existence of other forms of beings such as hell beings and hungry ghosts and gods, then it’s best to leave it aside for awhile and concentrate on other aspects of the Dharma. He says that he himself doesn’t believe in some of the descriptions of the hells. He also reasons that we have no way of absolutely knowing about these forms of beings we can’t see, because by the time we have died, it is too late. So he then concludes that we might as well live our life virtuously, because then there is nothing lost and everything to be gained, even in this life.
      The things that are required for a fortunate rebirth, such as being honest, kind and generous etc., are not unreasonable from their own side.

      1. Then that makes repeated devotional reading of this particular text counter-productive, doesn’t it? The point of these readings, as I understand it, was to contemplate the horrors of hell (and the ghost realm, animal realm, etc.), so as to build the resolve not to go there. Instead it made me conscious of how much Buddhist practice is based on things that I don’t, can’t and won’t believe.
        The DL’s argument as you present it resembles Pascal’s Wager. But we can do him one better: Fundamentalist Protestants believe that non-Protestants (including Buddhists) are destined to burn in hell forever. Buddhists believe hell to be temporary, and anyway hold that all sentient beings will one day be rescued by the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Since we can’t know the prior probability of either belief system, the logical thing to do would be to become a fundamentalist Protestant, because that maximizes the expected value of all afterlife possibilities. (In general, we should choose the most intolerant religion available, and also the religion with the best heaven and the worst hell.) To sketch these out:
        If I choose fundamentalist Protestantism and they are right –> eternity in heaven (best outcome possible)
        If I choose Buddhism and Buddhism is right –> hard to say. A slightly better rebirth? Pure Land?
        If I choose Buddhism and fundamentalist Protestantism is right –> eternity in hell (worst outcome possible)
        If I choose fundamentalist Protestantism and Buddhism is right –> hard to say. Depends on my moral behavior?

      2. “While Pascal deserves his reputation as a brilliant mathematician, his wager was never more than a cute (and false) analogy. Like many cute ideas in philosophy, it is easily remembered and often repeated, and this has lent it an undeserved air of profundity. If the wager were valid, it could be used to justify any belief system (no matter how ludicrous) as a “good bet.” ”

  15. @beidawei
    You can see the hells in the words of my perfect teacher as a vivid description of different mental states or situation humans can have. Like the hell of a heroin addiction, the hell of a dictator who becomes paranoia and kills out of fear. The hell of being too rich like cao’s with brains quite the same as drug addictors. You can imagine more hells, but what they have in common is that there is no practice or lack of practice, that is what I learned so far in Rigpa. You can translate the book to the present time, how applies the message in this book to this modern high technical time.

    1. I forgott the the hell of a sex addict, the hell of not be able to cope with being famous.
      In one of the short suttra’s the buddha asks if a particular master is famous, because the buddha said when a master is or becomes famous he is in great danger! That is whatbwe see today

    2. And if a person like that dies and has no longer a body these destructive states start to create an outer reality. And there you have your hell, if the state is destructive enough.

    3. These are modernist glosses which avoid the issues of reincarnation and karma. The point of the original text was to make choices with an eye to their afterlife effects. The point of your glosses is what, that suffering is ubiquitous? Not to take heroin or become a dictator?

  16. @beidawei
    Glosses or not, we need to look for a solution and Ato Rinpoche advocates that. Forgiving is important and the act of forgiving and the will to be wanted forgiven is important.
    We cannot go on foreever with this blog.

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