A major part of healing from the cult experience is deconstructing your experience in the cult to see how you were manipulated and examining the beliefs you subscribed to that kept you under the control of the leader and the group.
Below is a list of some of the beliefs that I and other devoted students of Sogyal Rinpoche subscribed to to some degree. I never examined those beliefs at the time, but now it’s important to do so.
This short vlog tells you why.
So basically, not examing the beliefs you held while in a cult is not good for your psychological health as you move forward with your life. And this is not just me saying it, it’s in the recovering-from-a-cult literature you can find by searching the web.
Here’s a list of beliefs that I and others will be examining in the coming weeks. We’ll also be looking at key teachings and asking whether or not we understood them correctly.
- A great master acting in an unconventional (abusive) manner that would be unacceptable in normal circumstances can bring enormous spiritual benefit to the student;
- A true vajrayana master points out your hidden faults and that’s what Sogyal Rinpoche is doing when he gives public dressing downs;
- Everything a mahasiddha does brings benefit;
- What appears as abuse is actually highly sort-after training that the students experience as love and find transformative;
- You need a master in order to recognise the nature of mind;
- Devotion is the key to ‘getting’ the nature of mind;
- The degree of your devotion is a mark of your realisation;
- Sogyal Rinpoche is Guru Rinpoche in the flesh;
- You must see your master as the Buddha if you want the blessings of the Buddha;
- Sogyal Rinpoche is a great crazy-wisdom master;
- Great merit is gained by serving your master with your body, speech and mind;
- You should never criticise your teacher;
- To criticise your teacher is a breakage of samaya;
- Breaking samaya is the worst thing you can do for your spiritual life;
- If you break samaya you will go to hell;
- If I see something the master does as wrong, it’s proof that I don’t have pure perception;
- If I speak up about anything in his behaviour that I feel uncomfortable about, I prove that I lack sufficient devotion and so are unworthy of receiving the highest teachings;
- Not having ‘risings’ (thoughts and emotions) about what I see is proof that the practice is working.
- The intention behind an action makes it good or bad.
- Sogyal is a holder of the prestigious lineage of masters in the Nyingma tradition.
Can you think of any other beliefs held in Rigpa that contributed to a situation where abuse could flourish? If so, let me know and I’ll add them to the list for examination. I think we have some interesting conversations coming up!
Here’s some additions that came to me privately or in the comments below:
- The teaching ‘Let it go’ concerning your risings. Did this become repression of emotions?
- Did we misuse the Lojong teachings?
- If the teacher has been recognized as a tulku, they are, therefore, enlightened, and such a teacher’s behavior can only be beneficial, no matter how it may appear.
- Sex between teacher and student is part of our lineage. Such sex is good for the lama’s health and for the woman’s spiritual advancement.
- There is no truth, there is only individual perception.
- The guru is the “face” of your enlightenment, so that if you doubt the guru, you doubt your own enlightened nature. And the paradigm behind this is: “You cannot trust your own perception, because you are deluded, neurotic, etc. I know better what is right for you than you. I know the way to your happyness, and therefore you must obey and trust me.”
- Teachings on Karma such as:
- If you don´t follow the master´s instructions you and your loved ones will suffer physical torture or even die.
- Everything you perceive materially or in your mind is the result of your karma, the result of ripening karma.
- When the teacher treats you badly it´s because of your karma.
- devotion and pure perception mean blind faith
- you can tolerate and hide breaches of the ethical conduct of a master for the better good of the propagation of the Dharma
- any contact with the guru is beneficial
Private discussion on this and other related topics can be had on our Secret Facebook Group. Is is only for current and previous students of Rigpa, however, and we do moderate it closely. If you’re interested in joining, please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite.
Ex-Rigpa students and their Rigpa dharma friends who want to move on from the discussion of abuse in Rigpa can stay in touch through the Dharma Companions Facebook Group.
The What Now? Reference Material page has links to a wealth of articles in the topics related to abuse in Buddhist communities. For links to places to assist in healing from abuse see the sangha care resources page.
Those of you who are interested in ‘keeping Buddhism clean’ could ‘Like’ the Dharma Protectors Facebook page.