Food for thought:
“O monks and wise men, just as a goldsmith would test his gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so must you examine my words and accept them, not merely out of reverence for me.
My teaching is not a philosophy. It is the result of direct experience…
My teaching is a means of practice, not something to hold onto or worship.
My teaching is like a raft used to cross the river.
Only a fool would carry the raft around after he had already reached the other shore of liberation.
If you were to follow the Dharma purely out of love for me or because you respect me, I would not accept you as disciple. But if you follow the Dharma because you have yourself experienced its truth, because you understand and act accordingly – only under these conditions have you the right to call yourself a disciple of the Exalted One.”
From Old Path, White Clouds by Thich Nath Hanh
Dzongsar Kyentse’s talks at Rigpa will be available on You Tube for us all to listen to, and many Rigpa students are probably looking to his words in the hope that he will provide the answers they are looking for, but let’s not forget to examine what we hear, and let’s not forget the main point: a Tibetan Lama abused his close students for decades, and he isn’t the only one to do so. There is something wrong with a religion that not only allows this to happen in the first place but also has teachers that teach that there is nothing wrong with the behaviour, (though let’s also not forget that many teachers have made it quite clear that abusive behaviour is not vajrayana – see links to such statements on our Reference Links page.)
DZK said in his First Facebook post on the topic, “However you describe Sogyal Rinpoche’s style of teaching, the key point here is that if his students had received a Vajrayana initiation, if at the time they received it they were fully aware that it was a Vajrayana initiation, and if Sogyal Rinpoche had made sure that all the necessary prerequisites has been adhered to and fulfilled, then from the Vajrayana point of view, there is nothing wrong with Sogyal Rinpoche’s subsequent actions. ”
It’s clear from his reply to Bernie’s letter that DZK is not going to change his mind about that. He will just elaborate on the idea, and we are supposed to believe him. We are supposed to believe that the issue is lack of preparation, not the behaviour itself. So let’s not lose sight of the fact that no matter how elequently you speak and no matter what philosophical ideas you share, people have been traumatised by emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and (unless you have been brainwashed to ignore common human sense) we all know that is wrong, no matter what spin you put on it.
In the Kalama Sutta, the Buddha said:
“Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.”
Why should we believe that DZK or any other lama has some moratorium on truth. Haven’t we learned from this that we must never give up our own discernment? We need to test what we hear, not swallow it whole just because the words come from a lama.
Those most badly burned by Sogyal Rinpoche find it hard to trust any lama who has not stated clearly that Sogyal’s behaviour was unacceptable, and for good reason since they are cut from the same cloth. This You Tube Video makes me aware of just how subtle manipulation can be, and how we must question whether or not be are being brainwashed to believe something contrary to what out own discernment tells us Are we being hoodwinked again? Is this just another way to secure the power of the lamas?
“As the voice of your discriminating awareness grows stronger and clearer, you will start to discriminate between its truth and the various deceptions of the ego, and you will be able to listen with discernment and confidence.” Tibetan Book of Loving and Dying p 120.
Yes, even Sogyal honoured our wisdom of discernment/discriminating wisdom, but don’t let someone else tell you what is your ego and what is not. After decades of study and practice of this tradition, if it does work, you should have some connection with that wisdom, so use it. Don’t just believe what someone else tells you.
In a recent Facebook post Hridaya Artha talks about DZK’s ascertion in his reply to Bernie that Dzogchen is vajrayana and can’t be separated from it, that they come as a package deal. I do not know who Hridaya Artha is or how correct his information is, but he suggests that what we are told as being indispensible to Dzogchen is actually a later addition. I post here just his conclusion, but I suggest that you click here and read the whole thing.
“If old style Dzogchen or Mahāmudrā are being taught, since they are a path of direct perception and natural luminosity, beyond sūtra and tantra, then samaya legislation simply doesn’t apply. Gampopa used to give mahāmudrā instruction to those who were not (tantrically or otherwise) « prepared ». Samaya and lack of preparation don’t come into the picture at all. It is not through old style Dzogchen and Mahāmudrā that one gets caught up in samaya troubles.
For those following « package deals », things may be differently according to the specific small print of those « deals ». Fortunately direct perception and natural luminosity are beyond deals.” Hridaya Artha
Regardless of the truth of anything else he says, the last sentence is undoubtably true.
True or not, reading this reminds us why we need to connect with our “inner voice, our innate wisdom of discernement” (TBLD p120) and trust only what rings true to us on the deepest possible level – or at least not to accept as truth anything unless “these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness”.
I repost here a comment on DZK’s reply to Bernie’s letter that was posted on the How Did it Happen Blog:
“The very basic moral framework in Buddhism is to not harm others. On that ground we can meet, on that ground we can start any discussion. Were others harmed in long term and short term perspectives by SR? Yes! How were they harmed? Basically through the actions of SR and by (the abuse of) Vajrayana and its concepts or means. A genuine discussion should therefore address these points: the harm been done, how that could happen (from the POV of dependent arising) and what means or concepts of Vajrayana play a key role in that in order to prevent future harm. But such a discussion is totally side tracked by DKR, Rigpa and also by anyone who wants to sale the harm as the result of clashing cultural values.
May I remind everybody on the clean clear statement by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche on Lion’s Roar who is both, a fully qualified Dzogchen and Mahamudra master? (It might be good to read it again and again…)
What YMR stresses are the ethics; what DKR stresses are the “beyond ethics and concepts”.
Funnily DKR‘s statements still involve ethics and concepts which are to totally abide by the view of the guru as enlightened, not to even think “abuse“ and to re-interprete even the vilest actions of the guru as enlightened. You can’t do that by going beyond concepts. You need concepts to do that. (You need many concepts to achieve such a type of “brainwashing”… !!!) You need to ignore ethics, your perceptions, intuition, judgement, moral compass etc. in order to do that, but ignoring ethics and avoidance of even to think of abuse are still ethical guidelines and not beyond ethics and concepts. Such demands, I think, are also not beyond “dualism” either.
DKR‘s approach basically serves the total power of the guru and the submission of the student; it lacks compassion by denying harm. YMR‘s approach stresses ethics, empowers the students, does not deny harm and is also very compassionate and makes far more sense.
So, everybody can think for herself what approach reflects more the teachings of the Buddha or core Buddhist values. It’s not as DKR and also Rigpa want to make us believe a matter of (poor / not well thought out) Western cultural values. I won’t fall pray to that trick and I hope others see through such tricks too.
“Not to do any evil, to cultivate good, to purify one’s mind, this is the teaching of the Buddhas.” Dhammapada v. 183
What rings true for you?
PS; yes this is posted by Tahlia, and no, I haven’t started writing posts for the blog again, all I’m doing here is sharing what others have sent my way. If you have anything you think is relevant to the ongoing discussion that you think should be shared here, please feel free to use the contact form to send links or even a post of your own for consideration for posting.
Oh, and, Pete, you can comment again, just please remember the point of the blog and the rules for commenting .
Current and previous students of Rigpa wanting private support are welcome to join the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite.
Ex-Rigpa students and their 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.