Is It Really the Nature of Mind?

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Translator, Author, and Buddhist Teacher, Erik Pema Kunsang has provided important clarifications on the meaning of root guru, the nature of mind, and samaya in his article, Club Nondualité.
First, Kunsang clarifies that a root guru is not automatically the teacher who gives you refuge. He further explains that a root guru is not necessarily a teacher from whom you’ve received an empowerment or even the introduction to the nature of mind, if it has been given in a large crowd.
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A Heartfelt Response to Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche on "Guru and Student in Vajrayana"

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A number of  Rigpa students have said they resonate with Bernie S’s honest and heartfelt response to Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s 10,000 word Facebook post on  “Guru and Student in Vajrayana.”  Some feel he’s uncannily described their own experience and written what they have been unable to fully express themselves.
Bernie has studied with Sogyal Rinpoche for almost thirty years, and held various positions in Rigpa U. S., including Study and Practice Director and Director of the Distance Learning Program.  He also was an Instructor and an Instructor Training Facilitator.
This is how Bernie’s begins his message to Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche: Continue reading “A Heartfelt Response to Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche on "Guru and Student in Vajrayana"”

Process and the Belief at the Core of the Problem

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The Good and the Bad

Though I will always love Sogyal Rinpoche (just as I love my child regardless of any poor behaviour she may exhibit) and honour the benefit I have gained from my association with him, the more first-hand accounts I hear from people who have found themselves harmed by their association and those within his ‘inner circle’, the more difficult it is to accept that the good this spiritual teacher has done outweighs the bad. Sometimes, it seems to me that the only ones that have benefitted from his despicable/enlightened (choose which word choice suits you best) behaviour are therapists and psychiatrists.
However, regardless of how you see his qualifications as a teacher, we cannot deny that he did introduce a great many people to Buddhadharma, the teachings of which are a huge benefit to all who hear them.
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Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche On the Situation in Rigpa

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On the 15th of August, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse wrote an article on his Facebook page about the situation in Rigpa, called “Guru and Student in the Vajrayana.” His approach to the topic was, as expected, the same as what he expressed in The Guru Drinks Bourbon, that you have to be careful in choosing your lama, but once you have received empowerments from him you must see him as a Buddha, do whatever he tells you to and see everything he does as enlightened action.
On my first, rather quick, reading I saw nothing new or particularly helpful there for someone who didn’t know what his or her lama was until after they had taken them as their teacher, and I felt that Dzongsar Khyentse was somewhat confused himself.
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More Students Respond to Latest Plans from Rigpa: "Not Ready to Trust"

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Not everyone is entirely pleased with the two letters received by the Rigpa Sangha on August 11, one announcing Sogyal Rinpoche’s resignation as a spiritual director of the organization, and the other explaining Rigpa’s plans for moving forward with an independent investigation of abuse allegations.
Some feel hesitant to trust, and others feel the matter goes beyond trust.
This long-time former student, expresses her hesitations after reading an optimistic post in the What Now? Facebook group, recently shared on this blog.
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Students Respond to the Latest News from Rigpa: "Content to Wait and See."

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I was extremely pleased with the two letters received by the Rigpa Sangha on April 11, one announcing Sogyal Rinpoche’s resignation as spiritual director of the organisation, and the other explaining the position of the Rigpa management and how they intended to proceed.
After His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that Sogyal Rinpoche had been disgraced and that his students had done the right thing in publicising his unethical behaviour, stepping down was the only way to give Rigpa, the organisation, a chance to continue without continuing to be tainted by Sogyal Rinpoche’s unethical actions into the future. Now that he has done this, it is clearly the students’ responsibility to clean up the organisation. Rinpoche suggested that Rigpa could continue by bringing a range of teachers to the West from all the Tibetan traditions, a direction I always saw as the way forward for the organisation. So I feel this is very good.
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Rigpa Announces Plans for Independent Investigation of Abuse Allegations

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Note:  We are publishing this letter from Sogyal Rinpoche to the worldwide sangha especially for the benefit of those students who have been impacted by the allegations of abuse in Rigpa but are not currently on the Rigpa mailing list.
11 August 2017
Dear Sangha Friends,
The past few weeks have been a very distressing time for our whole Sangha. The allegations that have been made against Sogyal Rinpoche by members of our own community, and which have spread widely in the media and on the internet, are of extreme concern to us all.
By now, you will have received the letter from Sogyal Rinpoche in which he announces his formal retirement from Rigpa as spiritual director. His decision comes as a shock to many of us, and its magnitude cannot be overstated. Rinpoche has made it clear that this decision has only been made after deep personal reflection, seeking the advice of many of his masters, and with the best intention for the future of our community.
For those of us who hold roles of responsibility within Rigpa, this has been and continues to be a challenging time. Not only have we been digesting the shock and emotion of the current situation for ourselves; we have recognized our immediate responsibility to reach out to as many people as possible and offer our support. Over the past weeks, many of us have been trying our best to listen to everyone in our diverse community, and to take on board the wide-ranging impact of these allegations as well as Rinpoche’s decision to enter retreat and step back from Rigpa’s work.

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Sogyal Rinpoche Retires As Spiritual Director of Rigpa

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Note:  We are publishing this letter from Sogyal Rinpoche to the worldwide sangha especially for the benefit of those students who have been impacted by the allegations of abuse in Rigpa but are not currently on the Rigpa mailing list.
11 August 2017

Dear Rigpa Sangha,
I address this letter to all my students and especially to those who hold positions of responsibility on the board of directors of the different Rigpa organizations worldwide.
You are of course aware of the allegations that have been brought against me which have now been made widely public on the internet. This has brought shock and consternation not only to me, but also to a great many of you who are my students and who serve Rigpa and its vision.
I have already communicated to you my decision to enter retreat and step back from the work of Rigpa, in view of the turbulence that these accusations have caused. This instinct has been confirmed to me by many of the masters whom I turn to for spiritual advice and by my most trusted students. I feel that in so doing, space will be created for the right kind of clarity to be brought to bear.
Furthermore, given my deep concern for you all and the work of Rigpa, which you have all contributed towards immensely, I feel the best course of action for me now is to formally announce my retirement as spiritual director of Rigpa. I do not wish the criticism that has been brought against me to jeopardise all that.

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Mingyur Rinpoche Clarifies Ethics in the Student-Teacher Relationship

Mingyur RinpocheMingyur Rinpoche has provided important clarifications about the role of ethics in Buddhism and in particular, about ethics in the student-teacher relationship in a recent Lion’s Roar article published on August 9th. In the introduction to the article, he says,   “The one time people ask me about ethics is when scandals or controversies happen in Buddhist communities.”
He answers critical questions in this piece, ones plaguing the minds of many Rigpa students, including whether it’s okay to leave a teacher and how to do so, how to respond when a teacher appears to be committing serious ethical violations, and how to differentiate between “crazy wisdom” and abuse.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is a master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.  Sogyal Rinpoche holds him in the highest regard, and once asked him to guide his students in the future. In his letter to the Rigpa sangha, penned after allegations of abuse surfaced, Sogyal Rinpoche said he would especially seek advice from Mingyur Rinpoche.
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Dalai Lama Speaks Out About Sogyal Rinpoche

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Recently, author and journalist Michaela Haas asked the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a statement about the current situation in Rigpa, in particular the allegations of abuse made by 8 former and current students.
In response, they referred to the following remarks the Dalai Lama gave at the Inauguration of Seminar on ‘Buddhism in Ladakh’ on August 1, 2017.
This is a transcript of his remarks.  There’s a video clip of this part of his address at the end of this post.
It can be helpful to listen to the video in addition to reading the transcript so you can hear the emphasis the Dalai Lama gives certain points.  For example, he’s quite adamant when he says, “That’s totally wrong,” in reference to following a spiritual teacher blindly.
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