Buddhist Monk Matthieu Ricard Comments on The Letter

The French magazine “Marianne,” asked Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk, author, translator, and photographer to comment on The Letter from 8 former and current students of SL, asserting allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
These excerpts are from a lengthier response:

“Regarding the recent letter concerning the behaviour of Sogyal Rinpoche written by some of his close disciples, I cannot judge the intentions of Sogyal Rinpoche and can not say whether he actually meant to harm his students. But I have also no reason to doubt the truth of these facts and testimonies, which describe the abuse that various people have suffered at his hands. I know two of the authors of the letter and I consider them honest and trustworthy. The behaviour described in this letter and in the other past testimonies is obviously unacceptable—from the point of view of ordinary morality and especially from that of Buddhist ethics. This is all the more so given the considerable suffering that has resulted from such actions.”

He also recognizes that many people have benefited from the teachings of SR by saying:

“The fact that a number of authentic masters have given teachings at Lerab Ling is, in itself, a very good thing for all who have encountered them. Likewise, it must be recognized that the teachings given by Sogyal Rinpoche, as well as his books, have benefited many people. But this does not in any way excuse the harmful actions that he may have perpetrated in other contexts.”

And, Ricard shares his experience of having lived with great spiritual masters himself for extended periods:
“Speaking for myself, I was able to live for seven years in the presence of a great master, Kangyur Rinpoche, and for twelve years in that of another master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and I can testify that I never witnessed the slightest word or action that could conceivably be of harm to other people. These masters perfectly embodied the teachings that they gave.”
In his comments, Ricard also shares the qualities of an authentic spiritual master as well as the qualities considered to be harmful, according to the Buddhist tradition, and explains why there’s an absence of authoritative oversight in the Tibetan Buddhist system:
Read Ricard’s full comments
According to the bio on his website, “Matthieu Ricard has dedicated his life to the study and practice of Buddhism following the teachings of the greatest Tibetan spiritual masters of our time. He has been the French interpreter for the Dalai Lama since 1989. He is the author of several volumes of Buddhist texts translated from the Tibetan, such as The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin, The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, and The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva (teachings by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche).”
[Image from matthieuricard.org]
If you have any thoughts to share, let us know in the comments. Please use initials rather than full names when referring to teachers and organizations.

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5 Replies to “Buddhist Monk Matthieu Ricard Comments on The Letter”

  1. M.R says :Furthermore, it is necessary to be aware that the Buddhist community is not organized in a hierarchical manner as, for example, in the Catholic Church, where priests must account for their behavior to the bishops, cardinals and eventually, at the top of the pyramid, to the Pope himself. Buddhist schools, as these have emerged in different countries are institutionally completely independent of each other. And even within the fold of Tibetan Buddhism, the patriarchs of the four principal schools—while being respected as spiritual authorities—do not intervene in the administration of the monasteries, which function as autonomous entities.
    But in 2003 : McNally’s mother disapproved of the union (“She did not trust GM,” McNally recalls). And Tibetan Buddhists were also not amused by the relationship. The office of the Dalai Lama issued a rebuke, and Roach’s associates urged him to remove his robes to indicate that he was not celibate. When he refused, Robert Thurman, a former ordained monk, tried to reason with him. “I asked him to meet,” says Thurman, who is married and long ago resigned his robes.
    This is the story of Michael Roach, link: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/sex-and-death-on-the-road-to-nirvana-20130606
    So what now ?

  2. Thank you thank you Matthieu for such sound advice. You are an example for us all.
    You have more training, more study, more practice under your belt than SL and don’t claim any name or demand any attention.
    Additionally, the books you have written are yours alone written by your own hand, and your humble lifestyle, demeanor, and behavior is without deception or duplicity. I applaud you and look up to you.
    I hope all of the Rigpa students take time to read and contemplate his reply in full as there is much content that is important to read. The full reply is posted in the first comment.

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