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.
Dear Senior Students, Instructors and Administrators,
What you say and do right now is of upmost importance, given the current crisis surrounding allegations of abuse. Many people are waiting and watching to see how Sogyal Rinpoche, Rigpa International and National Rigpa organizations respond after SR’s initial letter to the sangha, to decide whether to remain a Rigpa student or to leave.
Silence, denial, and exclusion of certain voices may very well tip people further and further away from Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa or cause them to leave entirely.
For example, here’s feedback offered by one student after the first delayed stream of the Ngondro Retreat in Lerab Ling:
“Not once in recent weeks had I lost interest in being a part of the Rigpa Sangha. I consistently felt optimism about the possibility for connection and renewal offered by the cracking-open that is underway.
That came crashing down when I saw ‘The Important Message Regarding the Delayed Streaming’ at the outset of the delayed streaming of the Ngondro Retreat.
Thank you for your response to our letter of July 14. We have since met and are of one mind in what follows.
We are encouraged by your willingness to engage in a dialogue with us and that you are taking very seriously the harm your actions have caused. We agree with you that you should seek advice and guidance from the masters who have a genuine care and concern for R, such as DKR and MR. We too have confidence in a number of well respected lamas, whose support and concern have been extended to us.
We are confused that you did not mention that you will seek advice from HHDL, your eldest and senior most teacher. You have always spoken of him with such deep devotion. Certainly at this critical moment his guidance would be precious. Will you seek counsel from His Holiness the Dalai Lama?
As you know, it was out of deep concern for our companions on the path, and the Buddha Dharma in general, that we felt compelled to write to you. Over the last two decades many close students have voiced their concerns to you about your behavior, but their efforts have been to no avail. Continue reading “Response to Sogyal Lakar (Sogyal Rinpoche)”
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”
A small group of Australian students is attempting to get this letter, which expresses their concerns, requests, and constructive suggestions, to SL. 22 more student voices from the What Now? Facebook Group agree with the sentiments expressed in this letter.
This group of 13 Australian Dz and Ng mandala students had 2 weeks warning of the contents of the recent email from long term students on the issue of abuse in our sangha. We have met twice in this period to process our mutual pain and concerns, and to begin a dialogue on what this means for the sangha.
In the first meeting we shared feelings of shock, confusion, anger, betrayal of trust, bitter disappointment and sadness. All stated vehemently their continuing faith in the teachings, love for R, and gratitude for all he has done for us, but made a clear distinction between the teacher and the behaviour. We feel strongly that no one is above the law.
What follows are notes from the second meeting of the points that we all agreed on. As a small group, we were able to mobilise quickly, and we hope that the results of our discussion will help in the process of healing for all concerned: Continue reading “Feedback and Constructive Suggestions from a Group of Concerned Students”
The letter was written to Sogyal Lakar. A copy of the letter was shared with longterm Rigpa students, and some senior Tibetan Buddhist lamas. We have not shared it publicly or with the media. Sharing the letter publicly is a violation of the wishes of the signers.