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.
On second reading, however, I saw that he was questioning Sogyal Rinpoche’s qualifications as a Vajra master and saying that even if he is a genuine Vajra master that if the student never got the 4th empowerment from him, then he has no samaya with them. That is clearly letting Rigpa students who are critical of their teacher off the samaya-breaking hook, because, correct me if I’m wrong, but Sogyal Rinpoche always got other lamas in to do the formal empowerments with the full traditional structure. Did he ever do a full formal empowerment anywhere? At Myall Lakes they were always essentialised, nothing like the empowerments I had with other lamas where each of the four empowerments were very clear.
I also felt that he was asking us to look at Sogyal Rinpoche’s education and ask ourselves, ‘What training does he have that qualifies him to give tantric empowerments?’
There is a lot in that article to consider, and blaming Westerners for the decline of Buddhism is, I feel, a bit harsh when it’s a Tibetan Lama that is behaving badly—and he’s not the first and likely isn’t the last.
What did you get out of the article, and what is your answer to the questions I raised above? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Read the article here https://www.facebook.com/djkhyentse/posts/2007833325908805
Note: Photo from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s Facebook Page
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102 Replies to “Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche On the Situation in Rigpa”
Here is my take:
Gone are the medieval days when fear could be used to say that someone who questions the guru will go to hell.
Someone sitting on a throne mainly because he came from the right father and trying to instill fear into his « subjects ». It does recall me something. In France, we solved the problem in a very sharp way. And afterward, common laws APPLYING TO EVERYONE were established to protect people from those wolves and other dominant predators.
Viva la Revolution!
And the way you dealt with it is called killing. Maybe you should contemplate, if the medieval ways didn’t lead to further problems in WWI and WWII and just keep the problems and carmic implications from rising? Maybe the sharp way could have been solved by locking them up instead?
Sorry, this is french history. After all we invented the guillotine…
Well, being buddhists maybe we should try to communicate as DJKR well said in his article and find a peaceful solution.
On the other hand, don’t forget that Lerab Ling is in France and this is still not a buddhist country so the common laws apply and there is even a law against cults and tax frauds.
Today got the same idea: Did I ever receive any formal initation by Sogyal Lakar.
I checked: and my result: Trulshik Rinpoche and other great Lamas gave all that empowerment. So for many students is that tie not so strong as they believed and its easier to leave R. .
I agree.I don’t know what the 4th empowerment means.But I agree SR only gave Guru Rinpoche empowerments and Tendrel Nyesel empowerments. The other empowerments were given by Trulshik R Yangthang R and Sakya Trinzin;
As for the article, I feel uneasy.First, it is too long.Reading it is exhausting. He begins by explaining what Vajrayana is, pure perception, samaya, etc.and you feel guilty. Then he says things about SR that are really relevant and helpful for us. But it reads as if he were tired and this part of the article is not so clear.I mean, he does not advise us what to do.
This article may not be helpful if those who are stubborn advocates of SR only focus on the first part. There is a danger here, that only pure perception and samaya will be quoted and used to defend abuse.
But, for me, the article was, to a ceretain extent, helpful and I am grateful to DKR for writing it.Anyway, I prefer Mingyur R.’s article.He clearly says, “just leave” just as HHDL says!
With love.I have not read The Guru drinks bourbon.Maybe he used an extract from his book and added comments about SR.That may explain why the second part is not so “well written,”???
I hate to chery-pick since it is what DKR asked us not to do, but some analysis is required.
Maybe the most relevant sentence for many, is halfway through the article.
“Sogyal Rinpoche’s misbehaviour may be his ruin and, sadly, it may be the ruin of some of his students”
One of the problems with this article, is that it is written with many hypotheticals.
Therefore, it is very easy to read it as saying that he thinks the hypotheticals hold true, in the case of SR and his students, when that is NOT the case!
“IF this holds true, then it implies this is true”.
He leaves it to the students themselves to decide that for themselves, by educating them in what that relationship really means. IF students consider themselves to be at risk of the “vajra-hell”, THEN they absolutely MUST verify that the special relationship described in detail holds.
But actually he very strongly suggests that a student-vajramaster relationship doesn’t genuinely exist, and actually never existed, with SR, as does the author of this article, if given that all the conditions (warnings, full formal initiations, checkings etc.) did not occur.
So other students, who dare use this article to suggest someone else broke their samaya, is being stupid at best, and actively deceitful at worst. They are in very dangerous territory.
Now is should have been made very be clear that the behavior described in the letter is unconditionally unacceptable for those students who say it is unacceptable, but it wasn’t really.
Stupid is the wrong word….
RH – you are hardly an expert from what i said. Accusing when on shaky ground might be stupid, might not. Mis-informed amounts to people being ignorant and stupid is acting (speaking) from ignorance or without “thinking through” the implications. I’ve constantly accepted what I’ve been doing may be stupid or that I’ve been stupid for years not to do it. Leave people to compose their own comments without adding comments to comments everywhere. I’ve been asked to kind of be a voice of reason in this section.
That comment was a correction on my own first comment (since I couldn’t edit it), because it sounded harsh, on those who pass judgements on the letter writers.
“So other students, who dare use this article to suggest someone else broke their samaya, is being stupid at best, and actively deceitful at worst.”
This was actually a defense of you! There are those who accuse you of breaking your samaya, and could try to use the first part of this article, but that means they didn’t read it fully. What I’m saying is, who are they to decide that? They cannot look in your heart. They cannot say this is not part of your path, with S.
They cannot attack you, particluarly from DJKR’s viewpoint, even though they do try.
All they can, and should, do, is look at the situation, as it is. Which, it clearly is not defensible. If people give testimonies that they are being abused, sometimes in very serious ways, no one should try to defend the abuser! And yet, they do! I saw it even on the facebook page of DJKR.
The fourth empowerment is the nature of mind empowerment.
A simple empowerment or an elaborate empowerment contains all four empowerments.
SR used to give the TN empowerment through a very short two page empowerment text, that is part of the TN terma.
Hope this helps.
“A simple empowerment or an elaborate empowerment contains all four empowerments.” That might depend on what you mean by a “simple empowerment”. Lamas do give initiations which are more like blessings.
Yes you are completely right. And here, the TN empowerment that SR has given on a number of occasions is this kind of un-elaborate empowerment. I have the text. It was written by Guru Rinpoche and revealed as a terma by Terton Sogyal, along with the TN terma.
So Buddy my point is that such “un-elaborate” empowerments don’t carry the obligation of samaya which has been the focus of these discussions.
Could be like a long-life empowerment that’s like a blessing? I’m not sure because I’ve only ever received one and don’t remember any commitments etc.
My understanding is that once one receives an empowerment, no matter how un-elaborate, like for e.g a GR empowerment, then you are qualified to practice the vajrayana i.e. visualise oneself as GR and do the practice. It seems to me that this is entering the path of the vajrayana. But forgive me if I’m wrong.
Lets leave it at that – each with their own understanding.
All the best to you
He has given the highest of high empowerments to some of the students in the 3YR – but on the other hand this has the Dzogchen samaya and is also not exactly as described as vajrayana samaya. What really has to be understood is that if your teacher introduces you to nature of mind and you can stabilise that you won’t have to contrive devotion – you simply will have gratitude. For me – it was inspiring and educational – i was lucky to see/hear it but it didn’t cement me into a permanent state of memorable devotion because I was still ill at ease with a lot of the missing education and explanation of dharma to make sense of all this.
Others may have practiced, studied and found that it did bring them – so it really is for students to decide for themselves and this is the essence of giving a lot of detail and advice for students to find their way to contemplate where they are on their path.
The information I got regarding tantric empowerments by SL are:
SL gave indeed some few empowerments, e.g. Guru Rinpoche and Tendrel Nyessel. Like Mahamudra, Dzogchen is part of the highest Vajrayana (Atiyoga). Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche transmitted qiote a lot of the Dzogchen lineage to SL, transmissions which were also given to DJKR und YMR and some few others. BUT the latter two did regular retreats and studied the Vajrayana. SL doesn’t have these foundations.
On the contrary, SR received deep vajrayana teachings from Dudjom Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Those of us who were on the 3 year retreat received them from SR. DR gave them to SR before SR did rigdzin dupa nyenpa.
Now, when NKR transmitted to SR the dzogchen lineage, he would give it to SR and tell him to practice that and only come back when it was realised, as NKR did under his own masters. Once it was realised by SR, then NKR would continue on to the next bit. This is what he did with YMR too.
So why would a master of the stature of NKR be fooled by SR? Would NKR not have told SR to go and do his ngondro and some vajrayana practice?
Seriously, when you read this, please let this absorb a little before you answer (even if you do). I know it’s not what you want to hear and you’ll pick holes in my comment. But the proof is in the pudding – one of the greatest masters fully looked into his student, SR, as he did with YMR etc, and gave the transmission of his entire wisdom mind to SR over the course of many years, again and again. NKR used to follow SR to many retreats SR was holding and be with him for months on end. This went on for years.
I know people aren’t going to like this either, but here’s what NKR said to Orgeyn Tobgyal Rinpoche, “…Sogyal Rinpoche’s level of practice is extremely high, he is extremely realised—Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche told me this himself”.
You can find this on this page in the 3rd section, 9th paragraph in the link below:
I would love to see a debate between yourself and NKR on what you said! I know that’s an absurd comment I made, but it equals what people are saying when you take the example of what NKR did for SR.
I’m just stating some undeniable facts regardless of whatever is being levelled at SR.
For me these questions of whether or not he is a qualified Vajra master or whether we got a full traditional empowerment or not may for helpful for newer students if they are fearful, but for me and many of the older students who had nature of mind introductions many times, the question is irrelevant because we know in our hearts that we ‘got’ the ultimate empowerment, the empowerment to the nature of our mind and, the 4th empowerment. Because of that we know we have samaya. At least I do, because I feel it like a tangible thing in my heart.
I also know that his abusive behaviour is wrong, and that knowing and my committment to breaking the silence and stopping the abusive behaviour does not break my samaya. Others say it does, but they do not know what is in my heart, and they cannot judge anyone other than themselves. SR said that samaya is your heart connection with your lama, keep that pure and everything is fine.
At the same time, though he was my teacher and I will always respect that, he is not my teacher now. I cannot listen to his teachings anymore, and I cannot be part of the organisation that allowed this to go on for so long. I do not see this dualistically. Both knowings can be held at the same time. I can love someone dearly and still be quite comfortable with pointing out their unskilful behaviour in order to help them stop accummulating negative karma (as I did with my child when she was young). My motivation for helping to break this cycle of abuse is to benefit everyone concerned.
As for whether this speaking out will send me to Vajra hell or not. Clearly it is a matter of who you want to listen to. My ordinary tells me this is nonsense, a relgious control mechanism; my wisdom mind tells me that my heart connection with my lama is still there, that I have not renounced the empowerment he gave me or my practice of it so no samaya has been broken. I have spoken out about his behaviour, not about him as a teacher. I have always honoured his good qualities. As for listening to lamas, I have HH the Dalia Lama and Mingyur Rinpoche on my shrine these days. From my perspective now any lama that says once I am your teacher you must do everything I say is not to be trusted. As HH said in 1993, that idea is poison and can be misused. This is what we have seen here, and this is the teaching for Westerners. This is the idea we must disgard if we are to avoid this situation in future.
As for how pure perception comes into this? My understanding is that it is ‘not a white wash’. It means seeing ‘what is’ directly without the veils of beliefs, seeing the Buddha nature/ shunyata in everything not just in your teacher. In that state one honours the wisdom in oneself as well as the wisdom in others, and the ultimate perfection in the whole situation. That does not mean, however, that abuse is acceptable.
Tulku Urgyen says it better than I ever could.
“Padmasambhava said: ‘Though the view should be as vast as the sky, keep your conduct as fine as barley flour.’ Don’t confuse one with the other. When training in the view, you can be as unbiased, as impartial, as vast, immense, and unlimited as the sky. Your behaviour, on the other hand, should be as careful as possible in discriminating what is beneficial or harmful, what is good or evil. One can combine the view and conduct, but don’t mix them or lose one in the other. That is very important.
“‘View like the sky’ means that nothing is held onto in any way whatsoever. You are not stuck anywhere at all. In other words, there is no discrimination as to what to accept and what to reject; no line is drawn separating one thing from another. ‘Conduct as fine as barley flour’ means that there is good and evil, and one needs to differentiate between the two. Give up negative deeds; practice the Dharma. In your behaviour, in your conduct, it is necessary to accept and reject.”
~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Sally A. Wang
The Journal of Religious Ethics
Vol. 3, No. 1 (Spring, 1975), pp. 141-155
Tahlia, that is beautifully written. I felt very moved reading it. Thank you.
Your comment moved me very deeply as well.
I feel exactly the same, and I am also no longer part of the organisation. And SR himself said very clearly in a teaching 2013, the devotion should not go to the person of SR, “who might have many faults”, he said, but to the “inner SR”, who is identical with your Nature of Mind.
And BTW, even if everything he does is to be seen as a teaching, maybe the lesson is, to say “no” in this case.
Sometimes what the Teacher wants us to learn is not what it appears to be. And I am sure, that secretly in his innermost essence he will smile at you as to the 8 writers of the letter for having “got it”.
Or as Khandro Rinpoche said in 2014: “You are holding on to the Outer Teacher way to long. It’s time to move – on the basis of gratitude – from the Outer Teacher to the Inner Teacher.”
Well put Lola
Thanks Lola, your comment is very helpfu.
dear Lola, there is INDEED some mysterious going on all-along… thank you for pointing us at that. Myself posted this on bernie’s website, which concluded in a similar fashion
thanks for your respons on my post. Would very much like to know how your view is on the specific points mentioned in the letter by the courageous 8 regarding:
a) improper motivation, following improper examples like Chogyam Trungpa & a mother who advises him ‘to go to the west to make money’ ? Somewhere I read that in Tibet the Dudjom Rinpoche, Khandro and Chatral Rinpoche ‘saw’ he was a pervert and tried to persuade him NOT to go to the west ?
b) misuse of funds and donations
c) misuse of the sacred feminine
d) mixing things up, complicating things by improper use of the teachings like ‘crazy wisdom’, ‘dakinis’, ‘Vajra-hell threat’ etc.
e) making false pretentions like taking Chatral Rinpoche as example but continuing allowing intoxicants (coffee, alcohol… sex(orgies) ?!) and much meat&fish-eating to take place at his own main retreat compound Lerab Ling. Have written a whole letter to Rinpoche beginning this year & gave this to Seth at the end of public A’dam evening gathering in RAI A’dam. I think his ‘answer’ (because he HAS strong psychic abilities to my experience) was to work in the lama kitchen which wasn’t planned as such but
thankyou very much to you & Sandra
will make a separate post I sent to befriended owner of biological shop closeby. He has written a book about going without any Guru. Somehow it seems that the age of being guided by the Inner Higher Being has finally broken through. Read this in the book of revelations by Johannes as well…
Love & joy, Stefan”
Now that Sogyal Rinpoche has been retired, I do feel for the potential students that will never experience SR’s Dzogchen transmission.
If for no other reason, maybe it would have been better to have allowed the “abuse” to continue?
This is a very important comment from Matt Morse:
“Now that Sogyal Rinpoche has been retired, I do feel for the potential students that will never experience SR’s Dzogchen transmission.
If for no other reason, maybe it would have been better to have allowed the “abuse” to continue?”
It is the rationalization of evil.
Possibly one of the most selfish – fear of missing out – baseless statements. How can one receive the blessings or even be part of the mahayana (of which Vajrayana and so on are part of) if they are willing to let others be hurt to placate a “teacher” to offer them some texts and comments which are actually available and coming through other teachers anyway.
It’s a rationalization, a justification, for something that is not justifiable.
That was my point – by calling it evil, I thought I made it clear, that it is unacceptable.
You can’t rationalize evil. It’s like the Nazi or Japanese scientists who did horrific experiments on prisoners, and found some information about the limits of the human body. Even if that information is useful, the end is not justified by such means, something greater is not created, the world is worse off.
Especially in a spiritual path, a path base on mahayana, to say that the abuse of others may be an acceptable price, is the opposite of what Buddha taught.
Matt. I am gobsmacked. Speechless that anyone could say such a thing. Your use of inverted commas also indicates that you have not accepted that abuse has occurred. I suggest you reread the letter sent to the sangha by the 8 students, who, don’t forget, had nothing to gain by speaking out.
Matt Morse , in response to your comment about whether it would have been better to allow abuse to continue so that others could receive SR’s Dzogchen blessings. I can see that this thinking may definitely have allowed this abuse to continue by so called respected students within Rigpa who were willing to sacrifice anything (including the wellbeing of others) to get the teachings. I received such a Dzogchen blessing from SR but then I have been totally disillusioned and disappointed once having been told about SR’s unacceptable and ongoing behaviour that harmed others or as some would call accurately call it ‘abuse’.
I am not willing to receive any blessings on the back of someone else’s suffering.
Of course now because of this blessing I do have a spiritual connection to SR and I can be very grateful for it but it may have saved me much pain if I had not. Having now gone through all of this with Rigpa and SR it will make me very wary of other dharma teachers, this may not be a bad thing. However thanks to my bad karma (according to DKR) it has probably also put me back in my spiritual path too. Never mind, I’ll take responsibility for that. However once I knew about this behaviour I never referred anyone to SR’s teachings because I wouldn’t want to inflict the same pain I went through on others. I would say go and see HHDL, if you want to have the ‘transmission’ of a truly humble, compassionate and incredibly strong practitioner, sit in his presence for awhile.
Of course Matt you may just want to keep stirring the pot and not be serious in making this comment. It’s hard to tell.
But I am left with the question: What is the point of receiving and realising such deep teachings if one still acts so unkind, causes so much trauma in people, so much so that they turn away from the Dharma. Wisdom needs to be balanced with compassion surely?
What is the point of having such an “extremely high” level of practise if one’s actions are unkind and cause students to turn away from the Dharma? Wisdom must surely be balanced with kindness and compassion.
Hi Buddy, I no longer believe in this line of reasoning. People thought that Kalu Rinpoche was a highly realised master and then we hear later after he died that he effectively gave a death threat to June Campbell if she ever spoke about their secret tantric sexual “relationship”. Read June’s interview with Tricycle buddhist magazine. Of course we should not trust her as she was merely a nun and not a a “highly realised master”.
These “masters” seem to protect each other as they mutually inhabit a system of authority and privilege. It is possible that NKR had some realisation but did not have the telepathic powers to foresee that SR would create significant harm and damage. If the “proof is in the pudding” as you say, then look at SR now.
Your only fact is that SL had teachers – not that he received everything. In fact he studied a lot with Mingyur Rinpoche and always came out with new material after then … so if you are going to make assumptions about where he was up to just because you assume this is how it goes and so on … that is the only undeniable fact. The fact is that people can realize a lot and get somewhere with the guidance of a great teacher and yet, they can go on to be highly unconventional (the nicest possible way one can call sexual abuse, fraud, abuse of power and violence – indiscrimant and unrestrained). So there are some undeniable facts for you that you dismiss with the “whatever” like a teenage school child. People can study and practice and attain and still go backwards – this is described in many teachings – even of some people who have made it very far and seen emptiness. The point is that when you see that they are being unethical you can’t assume that it is their special realization when all your other teachers say – caution – that isn’t a sign of realisation! Realized people have more awareness of how to benefit and work with students.
If I have been benefited in unexpected ways i believe it is that i’ve been pushed to decide how to respond to this situation and now I’m actually exercising discernment rather that just letting someone else do all the thinking. A teacher doesn’t think for you, they lead you to do your own thinking, then they listen to what you discovered and help you by explaining further – the process you describe with Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Sogyal Lakar didn’t do that – he different students he taught in different ways but he had a kind of lectures for everyone and “testimonials” – approach. Mostly he showed no interest in answering questions of a deep or technical nature – he usually just said “I don’t see what you are asking” or even misunderstood. When he did share materials that were well translated from Nyoshul Khen or Mingyur Rinpoche the source and wisdom were blinding and amazing and I felt lucky to be there. I still appreciated many of Sogyal Lakar’s teachings but as I keep trying to say – it all got very vague and diverted into things about being his slave.
During little more than 5 years i stayed in Rigpa deeply involved in it in Paris & Lerab Ling center (as volunter & paid position as well) i never ever saw Sogyal Lakar give any empowerment (the 4 abishekas) nor even giving refuge or vows to anyone ! All always were performed or given from others Rinpoches. So i deepy feel i never really have samaya with him in a deep vajrayana sens of it & he broke the engagement i had with his numerous abusives behaviours.
This is a great point – so you aren’t beholden to stay with Rigpa if you feel uncomfortable if you didn’t receive empowerments from Sogyal Lakar. However, others may. He did have periods when he gave empowerments – sometimes very essentially, other times a bit more elaborately and rarely he gave special empowerments. What we need to avoid is the way some people say things like “I never saw him do anything unethical so I don’t believe it” – a terrible fallacious logic. Similarly we can’t say “I had no empowerments so there were none” because there were for some. Really we just have to remember that even if there were they may not have been for people who were ready so even in one room of people everyone may have received the empowerment at different levels, understood or not, took it as a blessing or made strong vows and aspirational pledges, taken commitments, not taken commitments or even recognised their own true nature – or just have been hypnotically entranced by the awe and spectacle.
As a former student of “DJKR” (or KDJN according to his passport) in his “Dharma Gar Asia” program, I did receive a couple of initiations from him. They were required for the program, and I had to look up what they were (and am still not sure). I have since repudiated him as my teacher, so according to what he has written, he and I are both going to Vajra Hell!
No, I am not aware of any major scandal surrounding him (but perhaps readers will correct me). The worst I have heard about him as that he advised one of his students to keep silent about her experiences of the Sogyal situation, that he continues to praise Chogyam Trungpa, that he or his students have covered up the outbreak of some sort of disease at his Australian retreat center (this was in a comment somewhere here on this site), and that he continues to wear misleadingly monk-ish robes despite considering his former ordination invalid, and thus living as a layman with girlfriends. On the positive side, he supports (or organizes support for) apparently worthwhile programs like the 84,000 translation program, or his scholarships for language students and practitioners of various types.
More basically, Mr. Norbu (as I suppose he should be called) is one of any number of Tibeto-Himalayan gurus who has amassed a following of students who mostly do not know him personally, but view his videos and messages in much the same way that we consume other media products. To use Bromley’s language, SI is largely an “audience cult,” much like those of American TV evangelists. The fact that Norbu’s fame came initially through his movie “The Cup” may not be entirely coincidental. Is it right to have a “guru” who does not know you, or vice versa, and is not very approachable? (His online programs refer participants with questions to more senior students.) While I recognize that such arrangements are not new to Tibetan Buddhism, I no longer think so. I also believe that it is unhealthy for a Buddhist organization to be dominated by one person. Even some of the Baptists practice congregational democracy–why is this impossible for Buddhists? And why do Western liberals turn to Buddhism, of all things?
Beyond that, I have come to realize that Norbu is a fundamentalist–by which I mean that he identifies certain fundamentals, without which one cannot legitimately call oneself a Buddhist (“What Makes You Not a Buddhist”). While this does not make him close-minded, let alone dangerous, as certain other fundamentalists are, it does bother me that he considers skeptical critical approaches to Buddhism such as Stephen Batchelor’s to be dangerous–more dangerous, in fact, than the Sogyal scandal. Sure, Norbu can be critical as well (as when he questions the tulku system, for example). On the other hand, he obviously benefits from the social cachet that results from being such a tulku, which his remarks about guru devotion seem calculated to reinforce. The very name “Siddhartha’s Intent” suggests a return to some sort of pure, primitive Buddhism, in much the same way that a Baptist believes himself to be following the primitive gospel of Jesus. (In fact, ironically, this project is typical of Buddhist modernism a la MacMahan.) Norbu would perhaps be surprised to learn that the Brahminical name “Siddhartha” is doubtful (as Jayarava Attwood points out).
But he is quite right that this sort of questioning threatens the very basis of Buddhism. Most aspects of Buddhism–reincarnation, the nature of consciousness, perhaps even liberation–turn out to be culture-bound assumptions, like the pious belief that lamaistic reincarnations can be identified, or that practices ought to be done in the context of disciplic chains of transmission (whose origins are obviously fictive). What, after all, makes Dzongsar more qualified than you or me? Why should we regard his opinions as superior to ours? Because he “trained” or “took teachings” with a number of equally famous, and similarly accredited lamas (often related to him)? And the same question could be asked of any such figure–even the Dalai Lama. I wonder if we have not all allowed ourselves to be dazzled by the colorful robes, the mountains, and purple devils drooling blood and having sex–the whole “Grateful Dead” type ambiance. Not that Tibetan Buddhism lacks virtues, but I know I’m not the only one who approached it from an Orientalist fantasy perspective.
Not that this is only a Western problem. While in Bhutan, I came across newspaper reports about the illegitimate children of lamas, and their difficulties. And Buddhist leaders of all types were noticeably useless when the regime there began ethnically cleansing Nepali-speaking Hindus in the 1990s. Is this what we are supporting? Maybe the whole religion does deserve to die. Or at least, maybe there is no way for it to be healthily practiced in more than a nominal way. Okay, I’ll stop ranting now.
Good questions & points, from my perspective, ZLA’OD. Yes why can’t Tib Buddhism be more democratic? I suppose the answer might be that unless one has pure devotion to a realized teacher, one can’t receive the mind transmission. That seems to be the catch.
That sounds like a very convenient belief for a lama to promote. It also involves the assumption that talk of “realization” is meaningful, and that particular categories of religious professionals are a good place to find such people. (Certainly nobody argues that MY opinions ought to be respected, because *I* might be a realized teacher. I think it’s because I don’t have a cool hat.)
This is something to investigate, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse said in his text : « I have to say that none of the gurus from whom I received initiations and teachings ever abused me financially, sexually, physically or emotionally ». But did he ever abused his own students ?
Are there some old students from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse who can share their experience ?
A nice quote from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse’s book, “The Guru Drinks Bourbon?”:
SEX AS AN OFFERING
In the tantric texts there is not one single shloka that says a student should offer gold but should not offer sex to the guru. Similarly, there is nothing that says you should offer tomatoes but not onions.
Thank you Zla’Od I very much appreciate your perspective.
I also think Tibetan Buddhism is far too authoritarian. The combination of the Indian tantric guru concept with Tibet’s feudal and theocratic society has rarely been a good thing in my view, especially when unleashed on Western society. The TB system essentially pushes the student to go and find an authority figure and that is the start of your path. I can accept putting God up that high or the Nature of Mind or a true Buddha or Christ etc. But putting humans up there is fraught with danger. And almost all “gurus” these days have very little realisation and are only too happy to abuse the immense authority we grant them. Even Kalu Rinpoche effectively gave June Campbell a death threat if she revealed their secret tantric sexual “relationship” – how enlightened is that? It just sounds authoritarian to me and leads into many other issues, if you read June’s interview with Tricycle Buddhist magazine.
A helpful take on samaya.
Have a read about the 4th empowerment, samaya and the root guru in the recent article by Erik Pema, a Western student of Tulku Urgyen, Chatral Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Vajrayana was never intended as a mainstream phenomena or practice. It was a radical and highly contested recasting of Buddhist thought within pre-medieval India that functioned within close-knit communities in which transcendence of caste-bound, societal norms may have had a deeply liberating effect – for those who were ready. But the emancipatory social transgressions that once served proud and uptight Brahmans – such as Naropa – may have little meaning in a globalised 21st century world. Contemporary social values, ethics, and human rights – at least in theory – excel anything that existed in 8th to 12th century India or Tibet. Tantra will continue to offer a powerful loom on which the tapestry of non-dual awareness can be woven, or spun. But by all accounts, Tantra is subtle. Vajrayana was therefore a secretive, initiatic tradition that was never designed for pod-casts, social media, or mass empowerments. Confusion and misappropriation of the teachings are all too easy. If enlightenment is arriving at a stranger’s door in a G-string and with a live fish protruding from your mouth, as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche amusingly implies, maybe we are better off with the 18th century Western ‘Enlightenment’ that overthrew the tyranny of religious institutions and opened a new era of intellectual inquiry and scientific discovery. The dazzling ritual, pageantry, and vested power of Vajrayana reflects in many respects an unacknowledged nostalgia for everything that preceded the Enlightenment in Europe – a subjugation of the self to a ‘higher’, and often abusive, authority. Letting go of outmoded tyrannies and traditions ushered in the modern age, for better and worse. Although Vajrayana, at its best, promotes a mode of awakening that embraces, rather than rejects the world as it is, many of its forms are transplanted anachronisms that, in absence of historical perspective, can instill confusion more than enlightenment. Vajrayana in the 21st century is an ongoing experiment that links its adherents to the Orientalist promise of pre-medieval India and Tibet. The irony, however, is that Vajrayana’s rituals developed as means for transcending then-prevailing caste-bound identity and consequent self-limiting modes of thought. In its origins, Vajrayana was a bold and creative vision of human nature and possibility that challenged early Buddhism’s more renunciatory disposition. The uncomfortable question that all those who have been ‘brought up’ within the Vajrayana world must now ask themselves is whether Vajrayana’s ritualized, and often reified, narratives of transmission and practice continue to serve. These were the same questions that Vajrayana’s famed progenitors – such as the Mahasiddha fisherman Tilopa – asked in their own time, leading to vital distillations of the Tantric Buddhist teachings that transcend time, place, and teacher. In the meantime, beyond all such socio-cultural and historical ponderings, there is always the breathing of the wind, the flowing seas and rivers, and the inescapable illuminations of our most intimate human and transhuman interactions. It’s in those ever-present, adamantine realms that we dwell in our truest nature as interconnected beings of infinite light. As the oral teachings of Vajrayana make clear, empowerment doesn’t come through being bonked on the head with a gilded vase by a spiritual preceptor who may not even know our name, but by waking up to our essential nature and manifesting it in all our actions.
I do not like cherry-picking quotes, but I’m seeing some of you misusing DJKR’s book, so I add a contribute. If some of you has the time, the energy and the money to buy “The Guru Drinks Bourbon?”, and maybe read it, on page 689 (“Saying NO to the guru”), Rinpoche says: “If a guru asks you to do something and you can’t do it for whatever reason, you should know that you are allowed to say no. And that guru has a responsibility to not insist. If you really can’t obey and the guru insists, it is the guru who is creating the seed of breaking samaya.” This answers many of your questions.
Thank you for the quote. If one day a guru asks me for sex I think I will say YES. I have been told that you can receive many blessings being close to the guru. It is even written in some Vajrayana books that you can make some sex offerings to the guru.
At first I thought that being an old male he wouldn’t appreciate this type of offerings. But I forgot that for an authentic guru, everything is of one taste! Of course he won’t have sex with me for his own pleasure, He has found the best way to help me.
That’s what happens when eight clever and compassionate people put up a blog, and then leave trolls rule it.
Just take it with humour, be spacious and not fixated to blackandwhite-thinking.
The most dangerous trolls are those that speak sophisticated at length.
Should there be people who criticize or hate your teacher, do not treat them as friends. If you are capable of changing the attitude of anyone who has no faith in him or who disparages him, then you should do so. But if that is impossible, avoid being too open or having familiar conversations with such people.
— Patrul Rinpoche, “Words Of My Perfect Teacher”, pg. 148
I hate that book. Mr. Norbu had some of his students recite from it every day, and a big part of it was about the horrors of all the different hells, ghost realms, etc.. I realize that these are traditional beliefs, but this is hardly the side of Buddhism that I think should be emphasized.
Barbara, I respect completely your position and wish you sincerely the best in your practice. After all, we have all this aspiration to be able to benefit others so that everybody will reach enlightenment.
I am sure that in the WOMPT, you know that Patrul Rinpoche give very wise advices about how to chose and follow your teacher. He talks also a lot about pure and impure Dharmas. So I find it also a very good reading.
I never met DJKR and have no personal critics toward his person. But certainly I question some of his positions, practices and writings. I wish him also the best for the guidance of his students.
Sorry Barbara if my communication was not sufficiently skillful. Certainly the point you made is also very important and valid. I agree with you that the best way to get a proper perspective is to read the full book.
I thought also you were trying to justify this concept of accumulating merit through the practice of offering sex to the guru. Or maybe you are? So I am respectfully curious to know your perspective.
Trolls? I don’t see any trolls. Just people having open discussion.
Hi…I mean, Namaste. I hear you’re looking for a guru?
PS. Don’t tell my wife–she doesn’t understand “crazy wisdom.” Well, okay, she does, but her interpretation of trechko (“cutting through”) makes me cringe.
In his defense, in his old “Dharma Das” online program, one of the recommended readings for the first unit was a book about cults. Not the one that discusses Trungpa’s group among the cults, a different one. (Can’t remember titles.)
I have to say how much I enjoy the open and often intelligent discussion on this forum. And especially the humor. Humor helps us all to step back and see spaciously and that help us to let go of the attachments that prevent us from seeing clearly.
I also see love and respect here -at least from most people – and I particularly greatly respect those who can apologise when someone feels hurt by their words even when they meant no harm. I pray that SR and his senior students will one day find the same magnanimity and care for others.
However I feel it is very sad when people say things without consideration for how those who have been abused might feel should they read our comments. Please understand that still there are people on the sidelines reading but not commenting, unable to speak yet of their suffering from their time in Rigpa, and anything that makes them feel that they would be doing a diservice to someone by talking to someone about their trauma delays their healing.
Anyone who does not understand what I am saying and wishes to or who wishes to understand the dynamics of the situation better would find it helpful to study the subject of domestic abuse and cults. Then they would have a better understanding of what is appropriate in a forum like this.
As far as I am concerned and, I believe, the majority of the Western world, there is no excuse and no justification for abuse. Unfortunately DZKR thinks there is. We in the West have to decide whether or not that is a belief we are prepared to buy into.
Thank goodness that Mingyur Rinpoche and His Holiness have given a more realistic perspective. Their perspecitive indicates that we can practice Vajrayana without setting aside our discernment and without opening ourselves up to abuse.
“Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse are not teaching tools.” Mingyur Rinpoche https://www.lionsroar.com/treat-everyone-as-the-buddha/
Matt Morse , in response to your comment about whether it would have been better to allow abuse to continue so that others could receive SR’s Dzogchen blessings. I can see that this thinking may definitely have allowed this abuse to continue by so called respected students within Rigpa who were willing to sacrifice anything (including the wellbeing of others) to get the teachings. I received such a Dzogchen blessing from SR but then I have been totally disillusioned and disappointed once having been told about SR’s unacceptable and ongoing behaviour that harmed others or as some would call accurately call it ‘abuse’.
I am not willing to receive any blessings on the back of someone else’s suffering.
Of course now because of this blessing I do have a spiritual connection to SR and I can be very grateful for it but it may have saved me much pain if I had not. Having now gone through all of this with Rigpa and SR it will make me very wary of the dharma teachers, this may not be a bad thing. However thanks to my bad karma (according to DKR) it has probably also put me back in my spiritual path too. Never mind, I’ll take responsibility for that. However once I knew about this behaviour I never referred anyone to SR’s teachings because I wouldn’t want to inflict the same pain I went through on others. I would say go and see HHDL, if you want to have the ‘transmission’ of a truly humble, compassionate and incredibly strong practitioner, sit in his presence for awhile.
Let’s face it, students and non-students of DZKR are not in the same position when commenting about this article or other writings from DZKR.
When I hear a lama talking about “offering sex to the guru as a way to accumulate merit”, I am perplex. Maybe I can understand this practice if he accepts sex from any type student, of course not only pretty young girls or boys. Like a vegan monk would accept any type of food offered and even meat. But even in this case I would still question whether he is not using dharma for his own interest.
Now if I look for some advices, HHDL is very clear on the subject. I think he said it was OK as long as the lama was so realized that he could drink pee as if it was water. I can’t even imagine what would have been the take of Patrul Rinpoche on this practice. Anyway, who has ever justified such a practice?
Bottom line, even the students of DZKR can have as many gurus as they want. Nothing in the Dharma say otherwise. If they don’t understand this teaching, they should at least ask their teacher to provide further explanation. Isn’t this the approach of the whole path?
As I am not a student of DZKR, I don’t need really to understand his position. But how not to be sensible to the tremendous amount of suffering that such a practice has and will generate?
Not sure if this detailed response to DKR is already posted here, but if not, thought it could be part of the conversation. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/2017/08/the-merit-of-pointing-out-abuse-in-buddhism-dzongsar-khyentse-rinpoche.html
I wish DJKR edited his response into a clear, concise, courageous, definitive response. It was tedious wading through the murky gray…. so much of it was needless distraction from the serious abuse wandering about with only a few relevant points sprinkled later in the letter. I suspected there was an element of his own personal self protection in it.
I personally feel there is the danger of, and have witnessed consistently amongst his students, the trend toward lamaism. It is a strange phenomenon to observe. Ask his students what teaching they just got and they may have no idea or parrot something. After the book came out the students went out to buy bourbon. Or he mentions going to Brookstone and they all go there. It is bizarre. Similar to Rigpa, there seems a lot of elbowing to get to his ‘inner circle’, a certain level of arrogance with position, a certain conceit and attitude, a stance that DKR is the only being in the world that matters, that no other lama is important, and certainly they tend to downtalk and dismiss HHDL which is a big deal breaker for me. If it is true that DJKR was approached by a student about SL abuse in the past and told her to keep quiet…. then I’m at a loss for words. Mainly I feel he lacks courage to stand strong and take a stand… but the Tibetan culture is still very much within him, much as he denigrates it.
I much prefer Mingyur Rinpoche’s very clearly stated response to the situation, directly hitting each point. And HHDL doesn’t mince words but is clear, direct, right to the point. There is no hypocrisy. Actually this whole situation brought me closer to my devotion to HHDL and great respect for Mingyur Rinpoche (whom I have never seen).
Thanks I’M OVER IT. I’m over it too! I totally agree with all of your comment.
I inserted an email to the American Buddha website (now only on web archive) about DKR in one of my other comments. Since it is relevant here I will insert it again. I know many people find American Buddha distasteful. The site owner used it as a creative expression of her anger over the abuse in TB. It had very early testimonials on Sogyal which all turned out to be true. If the letter below is true, I think it goes some way to explaining DKR’s present attitude:
“March 31, 2003
Thank you for your inspiring and comforting comments in your last email.
Dzongsar Khyentse was the one who wounded me most. He just became too spoilt. When we first met he confided in me a lot. He wanted out. Two interesting things he said were:
a) His father Trinley Norbu never helped anyone;
b) Dzogchen doesn’t work.
He used to joke that he had been brainwashed. He was a lovely man then. Then he suddenly decided he would become a great Rinpoche. He started writing crap articles rather in the style of Trinley Norbu. All he wanted to do was to make films, and he cleverly drew very wealthy Hong Kong students. I guess that was the way for him to get his freedom, but hurting a lot of people along the way. If you stick in with dogged devotion, and are prepared to be treated badly or at least taken advantage of, you will certainly have “good karma” with Lamas! I had completely trusted him but he just abandoned me having said, “It looks like I’m abandoning you but I’m not” ha ha! I was so bitterly disappointed when I read his truly awful article “Distortion,” and I felt he had fallen under the influence of Trinley Norbu. Now he says he’s gay….I think that is the real reason I was dumped. What a deceitful mixed up man. I read an article on his webpage recently about the making of his latest film in Bhutan, calling him a Saint. At least he’s a good actor. I was very surprised and relieved to read his article in reply to yours. Still pompously written but basically supportive. Maybe he’s got a conscious after all.
Love — [anonymous]”
BTW I don’t agree that Dzogchen doesn’t work! Just bad teachers.
THE ABUSE OF SAMAYA
After so many supplications from his devoted students (and the Press) the long-awaited response from Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche has arrived, but it’s a confusion-inducing concoction, hardly intended to alleviate any of the real heartache or real pain of witnessing or experiencing the downfall of one’s guru. DJKR’s comments are loaded, but unfortunately, not with Compassion. Reading DJKR’s Facebook response through to the end I found it a package that is intentionally not-so-neatly-tied-up, so it is impossible to unravel or understand as a whole, which DJKR “kindly” invites us to do. As I read the letter, his words wound round and round (and round) the issues at hand squeezing the life out of them, holding the reader in a ritual-like, attention-diverting death-grip of convoluted language. Concerning the main issue of Samaya, just looking at the early comments from students you can see with heartbreaking clarity that these intelligent and thoughtful students of DJKR, OTR and Sogyal L are trying very hard to use their power of discernment and split hairs along with him — but it is as if knowing there are a billion-fold buddhas resting on the tip of each hair, they are deathly afraid to break down even one of his arguments lest they “harm a buddha” and break their broken Samaya all over again.
In the photo accompanying his Facebook article, DJKR is so neatly dressed in the sacred colors closely associated with Guru Rinpoche and the Dharmakaya Buddha in the Nyingma/Dzogchen Tradition, Samantabhadra/Kuntuzangpo. The expression on DJKR’s face, so well-known to his students, carries a Button-Your-Lips Message to keep quiet.
The magnitude of the crushing reality that is DJKR’s Letter in response to the Courageous 8’s Letter to Sogyal Lakar is difficult for many of us to process. I heartily agree with the reactions of several others that there is so much distraction in this think-piece infused with his usual flamboyant and provocative style. The writing is not straightforward and is embellished, as seems to be DJKR’s habit, with suggestive & racy images conjured up from the Dharma stories he chooses to cite. Suggestive language has no place where sexual abuse is one of the central issues being addressed by Students of Sogyal L. No doubt, DJKR’s assertions are bold, though it’s hard to believe that the truth could be covered up with so much “kaki” or cockiness — but that is the point, isn’t it?
That DJKR seems to want to take us with him on a downward spiral by talking in circles seems to have a mesmerizing effect on many who don’t know what to make of his utterly contentious and confusing comments on what is or is not Samaya. Like Thalia and I’M OVER IT, I also find His Holiness the Dalai Lama unequivocal comments and Mingyur Rinpoche’s clear and compassionate writing on the guru-disciple relationship a great solace and the best and most appropriate antidote to the confusion still brewing around Samaya in the wake of Sogyal L.’s abuse. What I have come to realize is that the critical issue of Samaya in the case of Sogyal Lakar’s abuse as outlined in the Courageous 8’s Letter is not about whether those who broke their silence also broke Samaya — the critical issue is Sogyal L.’s “ABUSE OF SAMAYA” — Sogyal L.’s abuse of the sacred bond between guru and disciple. Following the Law of Interdependence the scale of the tragic consequences of Sogyal’s abuse is seemingly endless, and indeed its catastrophic ramifications are a wake-up call to us all. The Buddha Dharma is indeed in peril if precious human life is going to be sacrificed to protect a Guru’s name. Human sacrifice as a means to increase one’s wealth, fame or lifespan was outlawed in Tibet a long time ago.
For a great, or humble, master, sensitive to his students’ delicate states of minds while still in the middle of a traumatic experience, minds that are ready to be influenced by what their master says, there is no place for sexually-charged metaphors in DJKR’s Response. Taking the Dharma history of Lineage Masters Naropa and Tilopa and using them out of their own historical context as a support for Sogyal L’s abusive behavior and pure perception of abuse is irresponsible beyond words. It is a distortion, like cutting the heart out of the Sacred Dharma. But the Power of Suggestion is Powerful, that’s why it is used, to pacify, enrich, magnetize and subjugate, with white intention or blackest black. Why dare try to “lift” anything out of this huge intricate web of hoodoo mumbo-jumbo. If you understand DJKR’s writing that’s wonderful. But if you question its clarity and intention, Dear and Brave Dharma Brothers & Dharma Sisters, let’s not try to make sense of this mess DJKR has so kindly offered us. Life is so precious. It’s time to move on.
While also very worried for the future of the Buddhadharma on our planet, it is a comfort to turn away from the darkness that ignores basic human values and look instead to our Peerless Guides, Our Wish-Fullfiling Jewels, His Holiness Dalai Lama, His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa, His Holiness Sakya Trizin and precious holy Nyingma masters like His Holiness Dodrupchen Rinpoche, all of whom now and through past lifetimes have upheld the Buddha’s Teachings, protected the Treasures of Guru Rinpoche, and supported the non-sectarian view rooted in Compassion and Light. May virtue and goodness flourish!
“After the book came out the students went out to buy bourbon.” Bourbon is just whisky for wimps.
All I saw mentioned of the terrible abuse was ‘misbehavior’; it seemed he tried to avoid the issue and divert our attention to other topics. Whereas Matthieu Ricard, HHDL, and Mingyur Rinpoche addressed it directly and clearly.
Also I look at the sanghas, as that is a good indicator of the teacher… at Rigpa I saw a lot of tightlipped arrogant suits, short skirts nervously dancing in front of the toad, positioning of those close to the ‘inner circle’ literally positioned in the front seats, and ridiculous secrecy in the very short time I was amongst them. The arrogance and attitude was so off putting.
As much as DJKR talks about non duality and tries to teach his students, they are the most dualistic people I might have met with their us/them mentality. They seem so self absorbed. My family and nonbuddhist friends and colleagues exhibit more warmth, more social skills, more interest in the ‘other’, more kindness and love so what is wrong? If a bunch of Matthieu Ricards were in the SI sangha I would bow down, but I never saw such examples and felt uninspired by all the sheep. It is as if they don’t LISTEN to and internalize the teachings themselves, don’t even care or really know what the teaching is.
But if the guru eats a carrot they all rush to eat a carrot too.
This sort of phenomenon doesn’t happen around HHDL, but HHDL doesn’t try to be ‘hip’ and current to attract a certain western following. He just teaches the dharma straight up.
That said, I cannot compare SL and DJKR as I don’t doubt DJKR’s authenticity. I suppose that’s why I find DJKR’s response disappointing as he could have made an impact had he addressed this abuse directly and succinctly (and long ago!).
Ik stuur je deze mail even door. Het is een lang verhaal van Dzongsar over Vajrayana. Ik moet zeggen dat ik het slecht heb gelezen, maar jij bent een Vajrayana student dus denk ik dat het voor jou misschien interessant is wat hij erover zegt. Wat ik er tot nu toe van begrepen heb maakt het voor mij niet aantrekkelijk, maar jouw Engels is een stuk beter dan het mijne dus ik hoop dan dat je mij er meer over kan vertellen liefs en tot vrijdag M
Op 18 aug. 2017 19:10 schreef “What Now?” :
Moonfire posted: ” 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”
Is it possible to get initiations through internet? I got one from SL this way but I wonder this can work.
DKR will give teachings in LL with the subject: Compassionate living in the modern world.
The most important that we Westerners can do, is to be more realistic and organize the sanghas in a democratic Western way. Do not give lamas that much power. Power corrupts. Be critical towards the dharma. Many things are very good, but it is mixed with getting people obedient and accepting slavery in feudal societies. Why is it so fortunate to give money to the lama and not to the needy ones? Why is it very bad karma to get angry? If one is not allowed to become angry, one cannot resist abuse. I think samaya breaking and hells are also used to dominate ordinary people, because they become very much afraid. Religion can be used to make people happy, but can also be abused to make people obedient or slave. Especially when religion mixes with politics, power becomes more important than salvation. Then an elite lives in luxury and the ordinary people are poor.
From what I have understood from readings, if you don’t know or aren’t sure if you have a samaya, don’t worry there is no samaya. There can’t be any samaya without your active commitment and participation.
Thanks, Tiny. You wrote:
> The most important that we Westerners can do, is to be more realistic and organize the sanghas in a democratic Western way. Do not give lamas that much power.
How will we come together since we are so divided? What steps might we make to begin working together?
My answer to the question of Rick New ” How will we come together since we are so divided? What steps might we make to begin working together?”
We do not have to wait until everybody is on the same line. People are always divived and have different opinions. First we have to do is to become conscious of the fact that feudal systems where the lama has all the power are an easy place for abuse. Many times students behave very dependent of the teacher and his orders. We have to be proud of our own democratic system and insist on making the organisation more democratic. We will have to persuade other students. We should not wait until it is too late and the lamas have settled in the West. Compare the catholic church. It is impossible to get any change there because of the conservative hierarchy. The protestant churches are democratically organized. The clergyman gets an ordinary salary. The protestant church can change, think about the position of women. The catholic church cannot. It is all about democracy and the power of the churchmembers. Stop with donations, they make corruption easy. R. students who resigned after the letter of the 8 showed their power. It is bad for an organisation to loose members. Less volunteers and less money. We need the dharma from Tibet but the lamas need our money. Do not accept lamas sitting on thrones and do not make prostrations to them anymore. In the past people made the same prostrations for the Chinese emperor and the Russian tsar. It is about power, not about devotion. Insist on openness in finances. Also for a retreat. Why should the lama stay in a 5-star hotel when his students hardly have the money to come to the retreat. We could also go to the buddhist umbrella organisations and ask them to do something about it.
In the past Westerners let these feudal organisations exist, thinking it was very exotic and romantic. I know it is a hard and long way to deal with but never before I heard somebody speaking about changing feudal organisations into democratic. Do not look only at the lama when you choose but also at the way everything is organised. When some people are 20 to 30 years on the same place in the board, you might ask if something is wrong. Who controls who?
What about an ethical charter written by western students applying to teachings in the West?
At the beginning it should be a document simple and obvious to limit abuses. Progressively the lamas will adopt it. Some Rinpoches will adopt it right away I am sure.
It would be great that this document be approved and signed by HHDL and the other heads of lineage.
It seems like there are three different issues here.
The first is running the organization. This requires only one agreement from the lamas that is agreeing that the students run the organization. This approach is already suggested by HHDL
The second is the Sangha agreeing to this as well, then agreeing how they will work together. This seems much more difficult and requires good communication with those already in charge.
The third issue is imposing ethics rules on teachers. This is a huge discussion and I think is one of the main topics DKR was talking about in his letter. Without the first and second accomplished, how the third issue would be tackled by the Sangha seems much more difficult than the first two issues. If we start with the third issue (with the Lama) rather than with ourselves (the Sangha) then I think we might be attempting an extraordinarily difficult and historic task without a strong enough foundation.
Maybe not, it would not be an ethical charter specific to one Sangha but common for all tibetan buddhism. The basis of the ethical charter would be the Dharma. If we can embark Matthieu Ricard in such a project, it could go fast.
Sure, at the beginning there will be few lamas but with time it will generalize. Not sure that any Rinpoche will want to be considered as a bad apple on the ethical level…
Regarding Crazy Wisdom
On the surface there might not seem to be, but from my understanding, there is a big difference between crazy wisdom yogis and crazy makers. For one, a crazy wisdom yogi doesn’t pose as a crazy wisdom yogi nor draw attention to himself just so you think he is a crazy wisdom yogi. He doesn’t sit on a throne and say, “Look at me, I’m always in the true nature of my mind which purifies everything I do! Watch what I can do while I’m in the nature of mind and enjoying perpetual joy and bliss!” And then proceed to hurl insults and tease out the tears of nuns and laypeople without discrimination. From a historical context, a crazy wisdom yogi’s provocations and insults and eccentric behavior were often an invitation to be beaten as a way to draw out and purify his own defilements. As a result of his eccentric actions, being arrested or beaten in public or banished to a remote corner of the land was not met with protests by the crazy wisdom yogi, nor Guru Rinpoche, for that matter.
A crazy wisdom yogi wouldn’t punch a nun while inside a temple which he calls home and which has hosted many great masters, in order to purify the obscurations of his devotees who have come from around the world to receive precious teachings on Dzogchen. Moreover a crazy wisdom yogi wouldn’t abuse his students to the verge of suicide in the shadow of a Great Stupa holding the sacred relics of his own root guru’s wife, Khandro Tsering Chodron, who is also his mother’s sister, and is regarded as having the same precious qualities as his master, Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. Moreover a crazy wisdom yogi would not do any of the as-yet unthinkable actions now brought to light in the Letter of the Courageous 8, over the course of many years, while living in the presence of and caring for his own elderly mother. Thinking you are above reproach in doing so is totally crazy and has nothing to do with being a crazy wisdom yogi. When we read the stories of crazy wisdom yogis they make us smile as a court jester might make us laugh during the comic relief between Acts 2 & 3 of a Great Tragedy. The stories surrounding Sogyal Lakar, sadly, do not have this effect of unbridled mirth.
Despite DJKR’s attempt to put them on the same page, Sogyal Lakar is not remotely of the same caliber as the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. For some unexplained reason there is quite a rallying attempt to appropriate the latter’s high regard among great masters, namely the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Taking into consideration the scandals of both, unfortunately we cannot ask the late Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche what he thinks of having his own name spoken side-by-side in one breath with the 2 names previously-mentioned in the context of the crazy wisdom tradition, as presented to us by his own cherished disciple, DJKR (who is also the incarnation of his precious master, JKCL). The intricacy of the guru-student relationships here is heart-wrenchingly complicated. However, DJKR’s invitation for us to compare the two has me thanking Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche for exposing this sham of Sogyal Lakar’s quote/unquote Crazy Wisdom. To sum it up, if Sogyal Lakar were to write a book entitled, Crazy Wisdom, I will take a pass, thank you very much.
In short: Fully agreed, thanks. Hurray.
Go 4 Clarity! Well said!
So WHERE is the SL now? Is he still sitting high somewhere, eating the Rigpa money away?
Someone please share!
Meanwhile, is anyone following up with auditors to closely audit the organization? Someone said they have money in Swiss and other banks?
Is anyone following up with lawyers? Please for the rest of the buddhist world DO IT.
In fact, any lama who is supporting this abusive, lawless, and unethical philosophy should be questioned.
This is not dharma.
This is not vajrayana.
This is not dzogchen.
This is not wisdom.
This is twisted misconduct and manipulation through and through. Not by a lama (as he hasn’t done a 3 year), not by a monk (as he is not). Not by a Rinpoche. Not by a tulku (who actually recognized him? Investigate…). But by a Tibetan opportunistic pervert.
I hope whoever cleans the rooms there removes the pornographic photos behind the thangkas. And mops up the tears and blood of the victims. Someone even reported he hit a child very hard in front of others. There is no allowing for such behavior, no justification. Leave the Tilopa stories for someone who is actually remotely comparable; SL is NOT. Leave the hell realm and vajra hells and samaya breaker scare tactics. These students don’t deserve that. Leave the pure perception bit. Does that mean I am supposed to put a serial rapist on the throne?
Just say it clearly and to the point like MR and HH did.
Very well said, leave the Tilopa stories for someone able to perform miracles. If a Master hasn’t done any miracle, he is not from the same caliber than Tilopa.
If you have any doubt whether your Master should apply crazy wisdom, please test him. For instance ask him to fly or to drink pee everyday.
In a certain way, it is kind of an insult to our tradition to use the legacy of Tilopa to justify the abusive actions. If a Lama claims that he can apply crazy wisdom, he needs to accept that we check whether he is a Mahasiddha or not! Even Naropa checked on Tilopa.
How can so much nonsense be going on, aren’t we educated people?
Thanks for this post — you raise some important questions and nagging points — so much so that I said I was done thinking about these issues for the day, at least in front of the computer, but then had to come back to address the most unsettling points.
1) I am sincerely worried for anyone and everyone who goes to Lerab Ling to attend a teaching or puja or even just for a visit. I have an instinctual feeling that it may not be a safe place for everyone right now. Lerab Ling is quite remote and in the middle of nowhere. It’s not easy to get there even for French locals, and it’s a long taxi ride to and from the airport, which can be a challenge to arrange. Many taxi drivers at the airport don’t know where it is, and/or don’t want to make the 1 hour+ trip there, especially on the weekends. Can’t Rigpa move DJKR’s teaching to Paris or a more central location so vulnerable students are less vulnerable?
2) It seems crazy to me that LL is not put on probation by local authorities for at least a short period while an investigation is conducted by an outside agency. Thinking about everything that went on there made me feel all of a sudden very protective of students attending teachings there, especially by DJKR or OTR. Are students safe going there or living there? For those responsible for planning these events, please take these questions and concerns seriously.
3) GOOD QUESTION: Where IS Sogyal L.? If he is anywhere near Lerab Ling, there is even more reason to stay away!
1. Why did they decide to build LL on such an isolated place, difficult to reach for students and difficult to get away if you do not feel happy there? I hope it was not done to cover SL behaviour. On an isolated place you do not have problems with sudden visitors who can see things you want to hide. If you do not have your own car, it is very difficult to get there. I wanted to go from the Netherlands by plane of train, but then I had to spend a night in a hotel because of the timetable of the LL. bus. Very expensive.
2. Is it ethical to give teachings in LL at the moment? If one refuses to give teachings in LL, one declares not to accept SL behaviour. Rigpa does not move DJKR teachings to Paris because in that case they cannot earn money from the students. The only thing for students to do is to refuse to attending teachings in LL. Hopefully enough students do. But there may be a lot of students who still deny what is going on.
3.I also should like to know where SL is at the moment. Is he still in Thailand of India? Maybe he is afraid of a trial or court and hides there. In France it is much easier for the police to catch him.
I can only imagine that these lamas get such a kick out of turning educated westerners into performance chimps for their own entertainment:
SL: ‘Would you believe the 3 year retreatants lined up to strip for me?’
DKR: ‘Wow! They’ll do whatever you ask them! Didn’t CT used to make his students do that? He is my idol.’
SL (puffing on his cuban cigar): ‘Yeah and check out these fantastic collages of my naked students… I ordered my own students to take the photos!’
DKR (knocking back a bourbon): ‘CT would have loved that! I advised one student to go be a professional stripper. And another to be an escort and get as many boyfriends as she can. And I told one of my male students he should go to strip clubs as much as he can… and of course he does! I tell all my female students they should sway their hips when they walk. You wouldn’t believe what they will do. It’s so entertaining!’
SL: ‘Yeah you wouldn’t dare ask the Tibetans or Bhutanese to do those things. They wouldn’t have it. You must get so bored teaching over in Bhutan and India. But these westerners… well they will buy anything!’
DKR: ‘CT really blazed the way for us. Toast to CT! The more unconventional the better!’
(fade to black)
Strangely these Bunuel-esque scenes are not even that outrageous. They naturally arose from the causes and conditions as a result of Sogyal L.’s behavior and DJKR’s complicity with it, that as implied, make a mockery of pure perception and the “psychology of Westerners”. Oh, but I forgot, for DJKR “outrageous” is the highest form of compliment, as he uses this word to describe his grandfather, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche. And so, Sogyal L. revels in the idea of himself as an outrageous Blood-Drinking Heruka, wishing to be like his guru, Dudjom Rinpoche, as he time and again calls himself, a “Vampire” while sitting on the throne conjuring up the “spitting-up blood” image of poor Ian dying in the hospital — an outrageous and fear-inducing m.o. for subjugation. So these imagined movie vignettes and back-and-forth dialogue using DJKR’s famous tongue-in-cheek mudra (;)) hardly seem over-the-top, since the reality is a much more bizarre horror show. DJKR has said that his movies are mandalas, which is disturbing considering what I heard about all the violence in his latest film, which he aired in Bodhgaya under the Bodhi Tree during his Siddharta Festival last year. Is there a frightening trend we are seeing here of turning the most sacred places and objects into a showplace or display for committing acts of violence and abuse?
By the way, the dialogue above wouldn’t be from “Interview with a Vampire” would it?
DKR: ‘What’s that jar of yellow stuff on your bedside table?’
SL: ‘Oh that’s what I have my attendants use so they won’t spread more… well, you know.
I think of it as my special anointment substance!’
DKR: ‘I guess we are learning from our man CT and his regent. At least now we know how not to spread HIV. We’ve made progress there!’ (raising his glass)
SL: ‘I have found from great and repeated experience that spreading the dharma in the west coincides with the spread of other things, too..’ (puffs on his cigar and reflects, chuckling.. then noticing they are getting low on snacks and booze he bellows out to his unfortunate and subservient young female attendant who emerges unhappily from his private gold plated bathroom as she had just been cleaning the shit from his golden toilet).
DKR: ‘well you must remember those that died of HIV probably didn’t have pure perception and didn’t accumulate enough merit, plus they probably broke samaya…’
SL: ‘you can say that again! Cheers to spreading the dharma in the west!’
(fade to black)
I don’t believe that DKR would ever speak this way, But following his way of thinking, it is written nowhere in the tantras that the guru needs to use condoms. It may depend of the type of practice. But more fundamentally would a Tilopa use some condoms?
Hope his students are going to ask him this type of questions. As he says, Vajrayana is not for the wimps!
They did not have condoms in those days nor did they have AIDS.
Well, now we have the condoms but no more mahasiddhas.
You didn’t remark that since we have videos and other scientific tools, there is not much more stories of mahasiddhas flying around? I would really love to see some miracles from mahasiddhas on youtube. In the tibetan history, the mahasiddhas were not so shy.
Perhaps my short spoof screenplay was inappropriate, though there is some truth to the scenes based on reports. I wrote it in frustration that DKR’s letter seemed to evade the horrific abuse and just spoke of ‘misbehavior’. And yes he likes to be seen as ‘outrageous’ and loves when people are ‘daring’, though I don’t see him as being at all daring in this situation, at all daring when he had so many opportunities in years past to address this, at all daring when he was so late to respond to the situation, only after other high beings spoke out.
It often seems he is trying so hard to create a certain mandala (though ironically it is a mandala in which duality is at its worst) and promote a culture of unconventionality amongst his students, many of whom he inherited from CT and many of these CT students are all for being outrageous. You will see them do all sorts of things for DKR’s entertainment yet it just comes off as a big party for all rather than any actual transformation of their minds. At least that is my jaded perspective! But he does not behave like this around the Tibetan and Bhutanese so I do see duplicity. Or some would call it skillful means I suppose. I do appreciate 84,000 and some of the SI scholarships- there are many many people who put their time and energy to translating texts and helping practitioners so I appreciate many things that DKR has stood behind. I must remind myself of all the good he has done, too.
I had assumed Rigpa would hire 3rd party investigators? Rather are they just doing an in-house investigation? If so, that is a mistake. An outside agency not affiliated with Rigpa needs to do an immediate investigation of the abuses, and additionally, auditors need to go through all the books of all the centers – not just LL but internationally. I can only imagine after these recent events the treasurers are frantically going through their books. This whole organization needs to become totally transparent once 3rd party investigators and auditors are through, and it needs to start completely fresh under the guidance of credible lamas. I agree with the idea that an ethics committee should be overseeing dharma centers. I do hope it can be properly resurrected so that the authentic pure dharma can flourish going forward, and may LL be a place for retreats that bring realization.
As far as SL, wherever he is hiding out (I imagine he’s doing quite well somewhere), I do hope legal consequences are pursued as he violated so many (and committed fraud?). He has not taken responsibility for anything and I am concerned he will continue to guide his students from the internet. He should not be allowed to guide anyone at this point; perhaps restraining orders should be placed? The problem is, there are still students that don’t want to know what happened, don’t want to believe the allegations. And looking at his Facebook I have a hard time stomaching how he advertises HHDL’s name writing the forward to the book that he didn’t even write! Leave HHDL’s name out of this, as now HHDL’s position is clear. And it also seems SL is hiding behind the images of JKCL’s khandro which he posts on his Facebook page, somehow hoping the westerners will think he’s untouchable and beyond reproach if he affiliates himself with great beings.
Re: DKR, there were points in his rambling response that were good to read. But it is upsetting that knowing what he did, saying ‘what if I raised the question…’ and ‘what if I asked’ and ‘what if….’ but then as a bodhisattva, knowing the situation, knowing people were being misguided, knowing the previous allegations, then where was his courage? He speaks of his tendency to stay out of trouble and the cultural habits he inherited of keeping quiet and being humble around other Tibetans despite thinking otherwise. My view of a bodhisattva is to have absolute and unwavering courage to do the right thing to benefit beings and to stop suffering. So HHDL and Matthieu Ricard and Mingyur Rinpoche fulfilled that for me and I am so grateful for these great beings. I so wish LL could be offered to HHDL. He would know what to do with it.
May the pure dharma flourish, may the students find their way forward with courage and strength, and may we continue to analyze ourselves and the teachers.
Here is a great idea: “I so wish LL could be offered to HHDL”.
Why the Rigpa Sangha wouldn’t make a vote on this idea?
That would never happen in a million years! You can dress it up however you want but the Dalai Lama is not a Nyingmapa lama, plain and simple. And the people around him certainly aren’t (apart from Matthieu’s contribution).
It didn’t seem to bother Rigpa before that HHDL was not a nyingmapa lama. DKR is neither a nyingmapa. Once the mess fixed, HHDL could give it back to the right lamas. Don’t you trust HHDL?
It’s not about whether i trust HHDL As a bystander, i’m merely surmising that such a proposal would never be acceptable to the Rigpa hierachy. You’ve stated that DKR is “neither a nyingmapa”. While his lineage is Nyingma/Sakya/Rime i would argue that his influences and parental heritage are predominately Nyingma, though i have no idea how he self-identifies in terms of lineage (or what practices he does). Perhaps some idea can be gleaned from his online autobiography. Just google mugwort if you’re interested. Also the teaching OTR gave on DKR, on all-otr describes his spiritual influences. I don’t think he would be in line to manage Rigpa either.
As far as I know, DKR is the primary custodian of the teachings of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (Rime).
The Dalai Lama regards Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche as his principal teacher in the Nyingma tradition and of Dzogchen. Apparently the private temple of the Dalai Lama in Tibet is Dzogchen.
Yep. That doesn’t contradict any of what i’ve written.
Well on the same time, the top Rigpa hierachy should give their resignation. Who cares about their judgment? Don’t they have any ethics? When you fail in such a way, you just take the door.
French Observer, I agree with you. It would be very hypocrite and very opportunistic in my opinion if the the top gives the judgment. They are part of the problem, they covered it for 30 years.
Today I heard from the Dutch sangha, that the boards have decided to do a profound and objective research and they want to consult lamas of the Nyingma traditions and others who are involved. So it may take some time.
On 31th August at the end of the Dzogchen mandala there will be an update about what is happening in LL. It is streamed to the Rigpa sanghas. Is anybody still a member who can provide us with the information.
Can anyone let us know updates from August 31?
Where is SL?
Are legal proceedings being pursued?
What other lama /lamas accepted sex from one of the harem women (offered to the lama by SL according to the letter from the 8 courageous ones)?
Is an outside independent unbiased company actually investigating this matter?
I’m Over It, thank you, for daring to expose the ugly truth, the ugly truth that muffles the voices of those who suffer.
Just like the CEO of a Large Corporation might put his Tax-Exempt Dollars into Environmental Causes, while at the same time raping the landscape and mining out all of Mother Earth’s precious gold and resources to amass wealth and renown, a “Spiritual Leader” can put his name on all sorts of projects that support Siddharta’s intent while at the same time supporting actions that are crimes against the Buddhadharma and humanity in general. With the Long View in Mind, will such “philanthropic projects” serve their communities, humanity, or the planet at large if done in the shadow of violence, corruption and disregard for the suffering of others? Will such amazing projects, even those like 84,000, which seem so pure, truly serve the future of the Buddhadharma if underneath it all these same auspicious projects can hide the potential to destroy the teachings of the Buddha by shifting the golden base on which they stand? I dare say, NO. Let’s not wait for the Earth to quake in protest! When all that the Buddha’s precious teachings stand for are under a pile of rubble it will be too late.
I disagree as I do think 84,000 will benefit many many people for this and the future generations. It is a project I definitely put my money behind. I don’t know of any wrong doings in SI, appreciate many of their projects, and honestly was a little confused by your message.
western lama Rangbar Nyima Ozer explaining different aspects of Vajrayana