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.
It was a nice surprise to find this letter from Dagpo Rinpoche in my inbox this morning. His reply is traditional, but also kind in my opinion. His concern is clearly for the suffering of students as they struggle with this situation. When viewing his advice about anger and using the Dharma to help heal from this, it might be good to remember that this is also the approach that Tibetans have taken (and continue to take) to years of torture and imprisonment from Chinese communists. Some attribute their lack of PTSD to these practices. And Aaron Beck, founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also advises that anger can be counter-productive to mental health.
At any rate, hearing something other than silence is very good!
Here’s the letter:
Dear Friends of Rigpa centers,
Regarding Sogyal Rinpoche, last year I heard some news of the situation but your recent letter in Tibetan clarified the matter. I fmd the entire state of affairs is very regrettable and I am very sorry about the predicament in which you now fmd yourselves.
It seems to me that what matters now is the way you cope with it. You have all studied the Buddha’s teachings and know the importance of overcoming anger and resentment , whatever the circumstances. As you have benefitted from Sogyal Rinpoche’ s kindness in receiving the Dharma from him, I believe it would be good to try and deal with the bad feelings that you have toward him. I don’t know whether you will be able to maintain your past teacher-student relationship with him. If you think that is not possible, the next best would be to try and keep your feelings for him neutral, free of anger and resentment.
To prevent this kind of situation from recurring, perhaps it would be advisable to let it be known as much as possible what the Buddha taught regarding the process of establishing a spiritual teacher-student relationship, the importance beforehand of maintaining a period of mutual observation. etc.
Regarding Sogyal Rinpoche’s conduct, I have nothing to add over and above what His Holiness the Dalai Lama has clearly stated on several occasions , and I am in full agreement with what he has said.
It is my sincere hope that your present troubles may soon end, that you may find peace and harmony within and among yourselves, and that you may at least have a cordial relationship with Sogyal Rinpoche from whom you have received many teachings. I pray that it may be so.
Venerable Dagpo Rinpoche