HH the Dalia Lama Mentions Rigpa again.

On the 6th of Sept 2017 at his residence in Dharamshala, His Holiness mentioned Rigpa in a talk to some students from the University of California. Among other things he said that “If [institutions] use name of Dharma [for] exploitation, they, themselves, not properly practised  Dharma, including some Tibetan Lama.”
It’s short, so doesn’t take much time to watch.
A viewer made the following transcript:
“In the west when I use the word ‘secular’ some of my friends say secular means a little bit negative towards religion. You see, it’s understandable, during the French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia there is some sort of tendency [of a] negative attitude towards religion. That actually is not religion, but religious institution. Religion, real religion, means love. Even animal[s] appreciate love. So nobody can [be] against religion, or love. But, you see, these institution[s], frankly speaking, I think [in] many cases religious teachers or religious spiritual leaders or institution[s], frankly speaking, in some cases [are] rotten. [HHDL puts his tongue out]
So, it’s worthwhile to [HHDL makes a fist] against these things. During French Revolution, before that, the elite, or kings or queens, elite people very much related with religious institution. So, they got benefit from these group[s] so automatically they support them. So, when people really suffer due to exploitation, then people should develop courage in order to topple that institution. They also need courage to [go] against religious institution. Isn’t it? What do you think?
Now recently in Haryana some problems, now you know [HHDL points towards audience]. So the Dharma, if [institutions] use name of Dharma [for] exploitation, they, themselves, not properly practised Dharma, including some Tibetan Lama also like that. Now recently in America, Rigpa, you may [have] heard Rigpa Dharma Centre, the leader, I know him. Now recently one open letter, or against, full of criticism about that person. So, therefore, religious institution quite often, you see, spoilt, not caring [about] the real sort of message of religion, but rather use the name of religion, religion used [as an] instrument for exploitation. So French Revolution and Russian Bolshevik Revolution, some tendency against religion because of that.
So, when I say ‘secular’ some of my friend[s] have a little sort of reservation. But in this country [India] secular means respect [for] all religion and also, I think, one unique thing is according [to the] Indian concept of secularism, secular [is also] respect [for] non believer.”

Be sure to check out the What Now? References page for 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.
More personal and private support for current and previous students of Rigpa can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite. Please use the email address you use on Facebook.


Help for Students Processing the Attestations of Abuse in Rigpa

The attestations by 8 long term close students of Sogyal Rinpoche that he had emotionally, physically and sexually abused students over a period of many years rocked the Rigpa community.  Early posts in this blog gave an indication of the kinds of issues students faced and how some managed the shocking revelations of abuse in Rigpa, but though some have found a level of equanimity about the situation, others are still struggling to come to terms with it. At the core of their struggle are the teachings on devotion and pure perception that don’t sit comfortably with humanitarian ethics and the behaviour of their teacher. Though many found statements by Tibetan Lamas helpful, their understanding of their Western students and what they are going through is limited simply because they have never been a Western student.
Venerable Thubten Chodron the abbess of Sravasti Abbey in the USA, however, was a Western student (of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa), and she is now a teacher. She has given a series of talks in response to the attestations of abuse in Rigpa that many students have found really helpful in processing the revelations. It clear from her talks that she understands exactly what students are going through and the misunderstandings Westerners tend to have on certain aspects of the teachings.
The What Now? team highly recommend watching the following teachings




Here are the links to the videos on You Tube
When things fall apart. https://youtu.be/WxucVpOV2FY
How could it happen: https://youtu.be/njY9kwgOXpA
Confusion in Tantra: https://youtu.be/b88r4NdHZVU
What it means to see the teacher as a Buddha: https://youtu.be/H9UVSw-OnDU

Be sure to check out the What Now? References page for 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.
More personal and private support for current and previous students of Rigpa can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite. Please use the email address you use on Facebook.

Is It Really the Nature of Mind?

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.
Continue reading “Is It Really the Nature of Mind?”

Process and the Belief at the Core of the Problem


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.
Continue reading “Process and the Belief at the Core of the Problem”

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche On the Situation in Rigpa

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.
Continue reading “Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche On the Situation in Rigpa”

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.
Continue reading “Mingyur Rinpoche Clarifies Ethics in the Student-Teacher Relationship”

Breaking the Veil of Silence that Hides and Sustains Abuse

Abuse is particularly painful to confront when in a spiritual context. Why? Because it’s so hard to believe that those we trust with guiding us spiritually, those that talk about morality or ethics don’t abide by those principles themselves. We trust that, as spiritual advocates, they will have the practitioners’ best interests at heart. When presented with testimonies that indicate otherwise, we simply find it hard to believe.
“But he is such a nice man,” we say. We can’t believe that there is another side to him that only the victims of his abuse see. And we don’t want to confront the possibility that it’s true. Especially if the person accused is someone close to us: our husband, our brother, our father, our revered teacher. Paedophilias get away with their abuse for years because of this.
Continue reading “Breaking the Veil of Silence that Hides and Sustains Abuse”

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.”

Continue reading “Buddhist Monk Matthieu Ricard Comments on The Letter”

Confessions of a Devoted Student – Part 2

Part 2 – Why I didn’t see.

Person Female Closed Human Face Girl Eyes Hair
Why didn’t I see the truth that students were hurting? Because I saw the teacher in person only once a year, and only during a teaching, and because senior students told me those close to him had asked for this ‘special training’, and because I didn’t see anything that clearly stepped over a line: I didn’t see him punching someone hard, several times, in obvious anger while telling them they were useless, as one member of the Australian team recently told me that he observed in the last tour.
Surely, I thought, if they don’t see it as a problem, then who am I to judge? But clearly it was, or became, a problem for some, so much so that they eventually came to see it as abuse. And what happened to them is a great deal more damaging than anything I saw. And they struggled for years before they found a way to get out. Only when reading about trauma bonding and brainwashing techniques did I realise just how badly they had been trapped in a cycle of abuse that was enabled by a system of beliefs that supported it as not only acceptable, but also normal. A belief system adhered to so blindly by those around this teacher that those who recognised the abuse for what it was had no support, but were made to feel that their perception was not pure enough and their devotion was not strong enough. They were made to feel that it was their fault!
Continue reading “Confessions of a Devoted Student – Part 2”

Confessions of a Devoted Student – Part 1

Samaya, Devotion & Beliefs that Alter Perception

The love in the room is palpable. It flows directly from the man on the dais at the front into my heart, and into the heart of the other 300 people sharing this experience. He swivels on his chair and scans the room, looking at each of the students in turn. He does not rush. He holds us all with his wisdom mind. He looks at me and our minds connect. Heart-mind in one. Transformative power flows through him from his masters and from their masters before them. He is a light bulb plugged into the socket of devotion, and the blessings of the lineage flow through him into me. He is all the lineage masters in one. He is Guru Rinpoche. He is also a mirror. He mirrors and evokes my own wisdom mind. I recognise it and smile. His eyes twinkle and the corner of his mouth rises just slightly, then he turns to the next person. I remain in spacious awareness.
In that moment, I hear and see all and every single sound and sight in its own place all at once, in one glance—panoramic awareness—and I hold it all in my heart, aware of every interconnection that brings it all into being and keeps it always changing. The world is luminous, alive with being. Like my lama, my Vajra brothers and sisters are perfect in their primordial nature. This is without a shred of doubt the perfect time, the perfect place, the perfect teacher, the perfect teaching and the perfect students. It still is. It always is. Continue reading “Confessions of a Devoted Student – Part 1”