Dzongsar Khyentse & his Dance with Nihilism

Today we have a post by Joanne Clark inspired by the release of Dzongsar Khyentse’s latest book. Thank you, Joanne. It’s high time we challenged Dzongsar Khyentse for his support of abusive behaviour by vajrayana masters. Dzongsar Khyentse’s followers show all the signs of people caught in a destructive cult, which might tell us why Dzongsar Khyentse is so intent on supporting abuse as a legitimate part of his religion – at least for the varjayana student-teacher relationship. Read on for Joanne’s article.

“The late Professor Joshi in his book, he cites one of the factors that led to the degeneration of Buddhism inside India was the popularization of tantric practices, particularly leading to unethical behavior.” HH Dalai Lama

It is possible that Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse has reached a point of realization whereby he can sit down to a meal of faeces and a drink of urine and consume it as if enjoying a delicious feast. It is possible then that he could rape a princess in the same manner that Tilopa killed fish, such that no harm would result.[1]

In the same way, it is possible that his Vajrayana students, those who have taken vows of pure perception, are advanced enough in their own realizations that they are no longer at risk of confusing the madyamaka views on emptiness with nihilism—no longer at risk of failing to maintain a coherent view of conventional truth and karmic laws of cause and effect and failing to recognize harm as harm.

It is also possible that Dzongsar Khyentse’s realization and powers enable him to ensure that his latest statements and instructions, freely available in the public domain, don’t fall in the way of those unable to comprehend them and discern the difference between pure perception and harmful nihilism.

If these possibilities are all true, then I apologize for what I have to say. However, for now, I will assume that we are living in a reality where conventions cannot be miraculously transformed and karmic causality is intact as it is perceived. In this reality, the rape of a princess—and observing that rape without intervening or feeling compassion—both have karmic and moral consequences.

Dzongsar Khyentse shows a lack of basic moral decency despite extensive teachings on ethics

I continue to be amazed that within a religion possessing extensive teachings on ethical behaviours and vast compassionate views, there continue to be teachers challenging boundaries of the basic norms of moral decency. Because here we are again, yet to assess the extent of harm to students, Kagyu students this time, by yet more allegations of sexual assault ( —whereupon Dzongsar Jamyang Kyentse publishes yet another book on crazy wisdom, Poison is Medicine. Once more, he promotes the practice of “pure perception” within Vajrayana—to the public at large—in which any action the guru does is perceived as pure even if those actions are, in conventional fact, harming another sentient being. 

Here is an explanation of his book, freely available in the public domain, in a recent interview on the book with the German Buddhist Union (translation by deepl):

Q: “What should learners do if their master not only drinks liquor or asks them to tease a princess – you tell a story to that effect in your book – but commits physical violence against his students or rapes them?”

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche: “As I said, if you have not examined this guru and if you have not decided to accept him completely as your guru, then you should call the police and make his behavior public. But if after intense examination you have fully accepted this person as your guru, then at that moment when he is drinking liquor, teasing a princess or doing whatever, you will not consider his behavior as inappropriate. Because in the meantime, your projection, your perception has changed.” (

Dzongsar Kyentse’s nihilist view and indifference to the damage

The problem here is that, unless the teacher is highly realized—such as Tilopa allegedly being able to liberate each of the fish he ate live—then harm is harm. Asking a student to view harm “purely” as no longer harm, where one can walk coldly past a sentient being in distress (and not call the police to rescue her), then that is surely a nihilistic view? Then a line has been crossed. Decades ago, HH Dalai Lama spoke out strongly against the criminal actions of his regent, who was also his Vajra master. He continued to practice on the cushion visualizing his regent purely as his master, but he took action when action was needed to prevent harm. Because harm is harm.

Any religious instruction taken too far is fundamentalism. Emptiness taken too far is nihilism and can cause harm. I am appalled that Dzongsar Khyentse continues to fail to account for that risk. He also shows serious indifference to the growing number of students who have turned away from the Dharma entirely because they have been harmed themselves or they can no longer participate in a culture that allows harm to others. These are good people, smart people, people with spiritual potential. Perspectives like DJK’s insure that they will never return to Buddhism, despite the fact that one of Buddha’s core instructions is to commit no harm. Despite the fact that this is a religion with extensive explanations of what “no harm” means.

Dzongsar Khyentse’s mocking and disparaging attitude towards Western culture and values

There is a fire burning and Dzongsar Khyentse is busy finding fuel instead of placing his finger on the pause button and addressing the danger. To address a problem, it first needs to be acknowledged and understood. He claims that his hero, Chogyam Trungpa, understood the Western mind better than any Buddhist teacher. He ignores the legacy of harm Trungpa left behind. At the same time, he demeans many good and decent aspects of the Western mind, mocking “liberal” thinking and disparaging Abrahamic religions ( ). Instead of finding a more solid ground for the growth of the Dharma in the West, one based on the strengths of Western value systems, he is promoting his path of “groundlessness,” which seems to actually strip students of their traditional moral compass.

Student’s disenchantment and exodus

When the revelations of Sogyal Lakhar’s abuses first emerged four years ago, I witnessed many long-time Rigpa students working hard to find a path forward, one that honored their years of commitment to Dharma and practice—and one that honored their core values of no-harm. However, as it became clear that there would be little support from teachers within the Dzogchen lineage, and when Khyentse drew his line in the sand and stated that longtime Vajrayana students who turned away from Sogyal Lakhar’s harmful behaviors were doomed to hell, I witnessed a large exodus from the religion entirely.

Hell for the student who cannot stand by and tolerate harm; liberation for the student who tolerates the rape of a princess. What is going on?

And there has also been an exodus from Shambhala because of sexual abuse, Trungpa’s legacy. And there are now students struggling with their spiritual path in the face of allegations of rape involving Orgyen Trinley Dorje Karrmapa. I am part of some of these communities of exiles and I would like to tell Dzongsar Kyentse that many of these students are struggling, really struggling, as anyone would who has lost faith in their longtime religion. All of these ex-students would not be struggling right now if there had simply been a serious acknowledgement from the Dzogchen/Kagyu community that harm is harm.  

Dzongsar Kyentse’s inability to condemn abuse in a vajrayana guru

Dzongsar Khyentse’s recent comments and publication insure that this problem becomes even more embedded. The Vajrayana looks like a prison of sorts in some communities. Several years ago, I and over a hundred ex-Rigpa wrote a letter to some thirty lamas, simply asking them to make a statement as to whether or not they condoned Sogyal Lakhar’s harmful actions. Attached to this letter, we included the extensive findings in the Silken Report in which Sogyal Lakhar’s abuses were verified. We also went to considerable effort to obtain a translation into Tibetan of the letter from eight ex-Rigpa disclosing Sogyal Lakhar’s abuses ( ).

We only wanted reassurance from the Tibetan Buddhist community that harm was harm and not acceptable. They didn’t need to mention Sogyal Lakhar by name. They could be circumspect. We just needed reassurance. Sadly, only two lamas responded with clear statements condemning the actions. Those lamas, in addition to Mingyur Rinpoche and HH Dalai Lama were the only Tibetan Buddhist leaders prepared to draw a clear line delineating safe conduct within Tibetan Buddhist communities.

Many of us have not been harmed directly. Many simply cannot tolerate being part of a religious community in which harm is tolerated. I remember reading once a comment from one of the writers of the letter from eight ex-Rigpa, in which he stated that he could no longer just walk past the screams coming from Sogyal’s residence. This is the simple point, the groundswell.

Is it seeing purely or seeing nihilistically?

So when I read Dzongsar Khyentse’s recent statement about “purely” perceiving a rape, I think of walking past the screams. I think of instructing our children, as I did once, that we can no longer identify and judge harm as harm. And I think of those many students who are struggling, students with their moral compasses now intact, but their mental health torn.

Perhaps in the context of a remote monastery in Tibet or Bhutan, where cultural contexts and privacy might mitigate any harm in such instructions, these instructions by Khyentse could be acceptable. However, his book is in English, promoted in the public domain and in the context of his frequent disparagement of Western ethical culture. The groundlessness he promotes with provocative statements mocking liberal values and Abrahamic religions and other Western ethical systems thereby also destroys students’ traditional moral compasses. This is fertile ground for nihilistic views.

Dzongsar Khyentse presents his views publicly to naïve students

Because not only is Dzongsar Khyentse presenting otherwise secret and otherwise advanced practices in a very public way, he is presenting them to students who are gullible, naive and relatively quite new to the religion as a sort of challenge. “The groundlessness challenge.” Here an example in a quote from years ago posted on his public Facebook page:

“If you are uncomfortable with the non-dual groundlessness of Buddhism—you might just as well follow one of the Abrahamic religions. These are the religions that follow a clearly grounded dualistic path and say thing like “don’t eat pork, do eat fish, and women must wear burqas.” If the label ‘religion’ is altogether too ambarassing for your elitist so-called progressive mind, you might try some kind of quasi-atheistic secularism, coated with moralistic ethics and bloated with dogmatic liberal self-righteousness. Or you could blindly allowe yourself to be swallowed up by existentialist angst, then get annoyed with those who get blissed out on hope. ( )

Aside from the cringe-worthy and offensive smear of other religions evident in this statement, since when is the Dharma ever so narrow as he describes? Since when are those who are not ready for teachings on emptiness or advanced Vajrayana practice disparaged and sent away to Christianity or Islam? Not only does the Buddhadharma have much in it, even for Vajrayana practitioners, that could be described as a “clearly grounded dualistic path” that “says things such as don’t eat pork, do not eat fish, and women must wear burquas” (e.g. no garlic when practicing White Tara, no eggs in some Varjayana situations and monks/nuns must ear robes in specific ways etc.), one of the great features of the Dharma is the fact that there is a place of practice for anyone at any stage of practice.

Buddhism is nothing if not an inclusive religion and within the Mahayana, that inclusiveness is quite vast and does not need to include Vajrayana vows or practices. Narrow statements such as this one by Dzongsar Kyentse also feel like an abandonment of students (e.g. no place for you within Buddhism if you can’t give up your “moralistic ethics”) And this statement particularly feels like an abandonment in the context in which it was made, as a response to those disclosures made by eight ex-Rigpa students in 2017 of serious harm and abuse by Sogyal Lakhar. It was also made in the context of DJK’s clear statement that these students, as advanced Vajrayana students, were destined to hell.

Failure to acknowledge the full truth

During that same time, following the publication of the letter from 8 ex-Rigpa, an incident happened on Khyentse’s Facebook page that was particularly alarming. In response to many who objected to his categorical statements condemning ex-Rigpa students to hell, he posted a short video clip from the 1993 conference between HH Dalai Lama and Western Buddhist teachers. In this clip, the Dalai Lama clearly stated that if one is a Vajrayana student, speaking out critically against one’s teacher is wrong. The response to this FB post was many prayer emojis from his students. However, a few of us attempted to clarify for Dzongsar Khyentse that this was not a complete truth because later in the same conference, the Dalai Lama revised this position and clarified ways to respond in situations of harm. Here is the dialogue that Khyentse left out:

Tenzin Palmo said, “For example, in Chogyam Trungpa’s organization, many students became alcoholics, in addition to indulging in promiscuous sex, which simply created a lot of chaos in their lives. After all, Padmasambhava said, ‘One’s view should be as wide as the sky and one’s conduct as—”

Whereupon His Holiness interjected, “yes, exactly!”

Tenzin Palmo: “As fine as barley flour.”

His Holiness then replied, “Really it’s a serious matter. It reminds me of the late Professor Joshi.”

And he continued in Tibetan, with Thubten Jingpa translating as follows: “The late Professor Joshi in his book, he cites one of the factors that led to the degeneration of Buddhism inside India was the popularization of tantric practices, particularly leading to unethical behavior.”

In the context of this, the following statement, which you can hear in the video, has added urgency:

“Now, what our aim is—purify—Buddha Dharma. The interests of the Buddha Dharma and interests of one individual lama—other is much bigger. Isn’t it? So, with sincere motivation, in order to save Buddha Dharma, in order to save at least a few hundred disciples of that particular lama, with sincere motivation, with salutation, then criticize. I think that’s the proper way.”

Sadly, Dzongsar Khyentse failed to acknowledge his error and revise his own Facebook post to include this more complete, nuanced perspective. In short, he failed to acknowledge the full truth, which was that the survival of the Dharma actually depended on these problems being resolved—and by implication, that Chogyam Trungpa’s behaviors threatened that survival.  I want to be clear that this is not about the value of practices such as pure perception in the Vajrayana or the importance of commitments and vows. I’m not questioning those. I don’t pretend to be able to judge how these practices can be made more safe in Western communities—but they MUST be made more safe.

Vajrayana can be upheld without “crazy wisdom”

Teaching a “crazy wisdom” view of pure perception at this time in the history of Vajrayana’s transmission to the West, without placing his teachings within the context of the large number of students who have been harmed and turned away, is a lapse in Dzongsar Khyentse’s duty of care as a religious teacher, in my opinion. The Buddhist canon is vast. Tibetan Buddhism has proudly translated many volumes of the Kangyur and Tengyur. The Vajrayana can be upheld without any suggestion of raping a princess. Please, surely.

This “crazy wisdom” strain of Tibetan Buddhism upheld by teachers such as DJK is narrow and founded on a few exceptional cases, such as Milarepa and Tilopa and few other mahasiddhas. Sometimes I fear that teachers forget that these cases were exceptions rather than main lineages of practice. For example, while Marpa purified Milarepa’s vast negative karma by demanding great challenges of him, Milarepa himself never resorted to such challenges in relationships with his own students. In fact, his heart son Rechungpa was very rebellious at times and milarepa never responded with any harshness. So that crazy wisdom “lineage” wasn’t passed on by Milarepa!

The farce of investigating a Vajrayana master when one’s moral compass has already been shaken by that teacher

Now, before anyone says, “But Dzongsar Khyentse is instructing students to investigate their Vajrayana master before committing to him/her”, I would like to address the problem of students being capable of investigating anyone within a Dharma culture that disparages those “who are coated with moralistic ethics”, one that seeks to shake the core of a student’s moral compass as I explained above. How can we discern clearly if we are busy doubting our own perceptions of right and wrong? There are simply too many prayer emojis on Dzongsar Khyentse’s Facebook page. He is already training students, publicly, to respond to his provocations with faith—the “groundlessness challenge.” How can they discern with clear, independent thinking?

In my early days in Rigpa and other Buddhist centres, I personally was incapable of discerning anything clearly about my experiences because of the force of my faith, which resembled something of a Christian-style, born-again faith. The dynamics of religious communities with such cross-cultural elements and how they seriously affect students’ ability to discern critically is complicated and has been discussed at length in other articles. I suggest, as writers have suggested many times before, that Tibetan Buddhist teachers pause to better understand these dynamics as part of their own education into the culture of Western Buddhist students. Meanwhile, perhaps there can be a pause—seriously!—on crazy wisdom practices (e.g. on raping princesses) until the harm stops..

[1] The Dalai Lama gave this analogy at the 1996 conference held with Western Buddhist Teachers, as a possible “pre-requisite” to test lamas engaged in what are called “crazy wisdom” practices. He also described similar tests when questioned thirty years ago about the behaviors of Chogyam Trungpa in an interview with John and Nancy Steinbeck.

He quoted from The Other Side of Eden, Life with John Steinbeck, kindle location 4672: “I would say if you are going to follow a teacher, you must examine his behavior very carefully. In your case, with following Trungpa Rinpoche, you had a lama who was drinking alcohol. We say, in our tradition, that a lama is never supposed to drink. Now, occasionally there have been some teachers who drink alcohol and claims to turn it into elixir, or excrement to gold, I would insist on seeing this happen. I would never follow him. The student has to take the responsibility of examining the behavior of the teacher very carefully, over a long period. You cannot be hasty about these things.”

And there’s a lot more that can be said to challenge Dzongsar Khyentse for his distructive views. Mathew Remski’s post from the 7th of July is worth reading on the topic. Share your comments below.

152 Replies to “Dzongsar Khyentse & his Dance with Nihilism”

  1. Thank you Joanne for your compassionate and insightful article.
    A few weeks ago, when I saw the title of Dzongsar Khyentse’s new book “Poison is Medicine”, I was surprised by it, because it is that of an instruction given in the Mahamudra. An instruction which is secret, not because it is extraordinary or reserved for an elite, but simply so that the meditator can follow an authentic progression, and is not hampered by an intellectual understanding, before having the necessary stability and experience to practice this instruction.

    So I read the book, and what I read in it, is very far from the instruction I received from a genuine master (an old Tibetan yogi, wise and compassionate) and that you can find in the works of the IXth Karmapa, which is undoubtedly one of the most reliable references. There is nothing very crazy or extravagant about the pointing out instuction. This instruction requires humble, serious, diligent and intelligent reflection and meditation.
    It is possible later, that meditators must expose themselves to extravagant or difficult situations in order to verify their level of accomplishment, and they will have to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions (if they have stolen and go to jail, too bad for them !). But in no case should they forget love, compassion and the dependent origin of causes and effects.
    One of the other instructions that comes later after “Bringing the five poisons to the path” is “Emptiness arising as an enemy”. I take the liberty of giving an extract here. I think it can save many practitioners, so I hope the Dharma protectors will forgive me:

    “Therefore, intelligent one are not veiled by the faults of a nullifying view of emptiness. They recognize that there is no inherently exist nature, and yet they are also aware that the key point concerning the unceasing brilliance and expressive power of appearances is that on the relative level the dependent origination of causes and results and virtue and evil is infallible. The realization of such persons equals space, yet they train in unifying it with the positive interdependent connections of scrupulous conduct. While not moving from emptiness, they train in the path that integrates the view and conduct. ” [Translation by Elizabeth M. Callahan ]

    I have anything to add to what the Ninth Karmapa left us as a written legacy in order to help his disciples in the future. As a Kagyupa disciple, I trust him, not people who damage the faith of the disciples, and discourage them from practicing the six paramitas; and who end up writing provocative and fuzzy books, that divide people and spark conflicts, with the help of their close disciples.

    Evil is evil, whatever dharmic excuse one gives to make people believe the opposite (refer to : Pratyavekṣaṇa-jñāna, the wisdom of Investigative Awareness). The disciples who suffered at the hands of unscrupulous Buddhist masters and their blind faithful disciples know this terrible truth. Some manage to overcome it through their Dharma practice or by other means, others less fortunate collapse. However, I hope with all my heart, that all will find the way out of this nightmare.

    1. What an excellent quote. It’s very clear. Thank you so much for sharing.
      And, yes, the instructions on bringing the 5 poisons onto the path are easily misinterpreted if taken without the proper prerequsite understanding. I have no desire to read the book myself as I’m pretty sure that it will be as you say ‘provocative and fuzzy’ and designed to ‘divide people and spark conflicts’. He seems to like doing that and in a truely twisted fashion seems to pride himself on his appaling lack of good qualities. Of course, if we can’t see his greatness, then, according to him, it’s the fault of our perception not the lack of good qualities in him. What a convenient stance to take if you don’t want to have to take any responsibility for your actions.

      1. Dear Tahlia and her friends,

        two days exchanging with you guys, reading your stuff and watching your videos, and its become perfectly clear none of you give a hoot about buddhism,

        am deeply thrilled to realise I do sincerely care about Lord Buddha’s teachings and give all the credit to my Completely Brilliant Guru dwelling in full bloom beyond name and form!

        I thank you from my heart for reflecting this profound and happy realisation and remain as ever disposed toward you all!

        1. If we needed any more proof that Dzongzar is running a dangerous cult, you’re it. That guy wouldn’t understand empathy, compassion, or decency if it bit them in the butt. Dzongsar’s fans are some of the most rabidly sycophantic and cruel people.

    2. the following questions remain, dear Luce24,

      how do we know that DK has forgotten love, compassion and cause and effect?

      I figure that, since we are not able to read DK’s mind, we have to go by DK’s actions.

      So what exactly did DK do that we interpret as a fact that DK forgot love, compassion and cause and effect?

      admittedly, we want or need a very specific set of responses from DK,
      were not really interested in what DK has to say,
      but we’re interested in what we need to hear;

      have we just bagged DK along with Sogyal on account that we didn’t get what we wanted?

      It’s like they said to Garcia Lorca in the civil war: you can’t be a poet about it, you have to take sides. Implying poets are unrealistic, dreamy, and useless when it comes to the real stuff, like war.
      In this situation there is a similar positioning: either you defend our side or we shoot you.

      OBVIOUSLY because Sogyal misusing ‘the religion’ is unpardonable and puts at risk all of us naive believers.

      But this is already a very dense contextual layering, (why should buddhist be regarded as naive, and potential victims? I mean we all believe in something, so there’s some weird extra information surreptitiously slipped in there)
      the context is something like a gun and we are putting these gurus up against the wall, and obliging them to give us the rhetoric we expect.

      and DK did not give us the rhetoric we expect.

      gosh! poor man, why not?

      In truth, whom among us knows.
      But we are very happy to think we know!

      And why is that?

      maybe because we don’t really care about buddhism, we’re quite happy to chuck the whole circus, I mean there’s so much going on, who needs ‘the religion’, who needs cultish crap. This is also an opportunity to emancipate ourselves, renew, why not write articles and books of our experiences, maybe even make a buck!

      And lots of this creative release is inspired by demonising buddhism,
      and demonising DK, as he found the responsibility to defend Buddha’s teachings fell to him.

      Is this right, honest, ethical?

      Other than not say what we want to hear, has DK ever acted anything like Sogyal,
      ever? in 60 years?

      Does DK deserve to inherit all Sogyal’s wrong doing?
      Sounds to me like scape goating.

      Moreover, if you were a father or mother being terrorised by a child, would you just give into them, knowing that you were offering them wrong information?
      what if you had sworn to your own parents never to give wrong information, even at gun point?

      I think some injustice is at play in this house.
      Possibly, very great injustice…

      1. Yes, Louise, it all comes down to “we didn’t get what we wanted” and like petulant children, we became angry and lashed out to wrongly scapegoat those who have not met our unreasonable expectations. That’s the agenda here. Seems like a reasonable, reality-based explanation. :0)

        1. Indeed it does.

          Am very satisfied to hear you say it William.

          Which ever wisdom you practiced all these years is speaking through you now and I bow to this.

          To the indestructible power of the truth we label Buddhadharma.

          I thank you from the heart dear William,.

            1. Tell you what sweet friend,

              This is just a theory of course but I think DK as he was Sogyal’s teacher in his previous life, by the power of the truth of the mental continuum and the power of completing the two accumulations, kept his vow and came to his students aid not approvingly but without bias, without failing for an instant to uphold the teachings of the lineage, fully knowing how those seeking an exact truth-lie would liberally linch him with reckless wrong views.

              Am so moved by the courage of such genuine mastery, genuine love, genuine compassion and genuine knowledge of cause and effect, and have you, Tahlia and friends to thank for thinking this,

              It is no doubt the merit of your practice, that I say this to you

              Thank you dear William,
              May all be well with you!

              1. PS: and please, Tahlia, do not label me (or others) as a follower of Dzongsar Khyentse just because I disagree with the way you understand and interpret what he says. I have never met this guy, he is not my Guru. He seems cool though… and you seem to be very angry… at the wrong person.
                I do feel for you, it must be hard, but you’ll manage to make sense of it all eventually, no doubt. Take care of yourself.

                1. Angry? Ah, no. We’re merely discussing our understanding of these subtle points of dharma here. I have no problem if you have a different point of view, but I do find it a shame when someone’s devotion to a guru (often expressed overtly in this tradition) means that they cannot respond without simply parrotting what their guru teaches. One cannot truly examine a cult while stuck within it. The web of dynamics that bind people to cults are subtle but insidious. That said, however, there is a time in people’s spiritual development when they need to learn how to work with their mind, and whoever they choose to teach them is up to them. The thing I wish I had realised myself – before circumstances kicked me into the realisation – is that these relationships with teachers and their community actually don’t have to be for life, and really ought not be. I suspect that most of these TB gurus will not tell you when you don’t need them anymore (though a genuinely realised teacher would), so it’s up to the student to recognise that it’s time to graduate, and move on to genutinely following the teacher inside them – their own wisdom mind. But then, how many get to that point anyway? So what I’m saying is that there is a place and a time for people to be seduced by vajrayana, but they should, as the teachings say, examine carefully and find a teacher that is more than a showy exterior. And yet, I learned from such a guru. Or maybe despite him. And in the end I learned that my trust was misplaced.

                  And I can assure you that I’m not looking for a guru, and I do not read or have anything to do with any of these gurus anymore. I do, however, retain the understanding and experience of dharma and these teachings I gained during my 20 years of intensive study and practice. So don’t wory about me. I’m fine. I do care, however, about others being drawn in by charismatic gurus who appear ‘cool’ and ‘trendy’ and ‘modern’ but who think it’s okay for a guru to abuse a student so long as he is their vajra master. It’s a trap. Cult 101, and people need to be warned.

      2. I agree a 100%, thank you Louise.
        Good luck to you Tahlia, wishing you the best. If you don’t like DK, just don’t read him or follow him, you are wasting your time and energy, there are plenty more teachers out there with a different style of teaching that could suit you best.

    3. if the disciple is as Luce24 defines a humble, diligent, intelligent and reflexive disciple who has received from their guru an intimate instruction on the nature of their mind;

      why does Luce24 then emotionally defend a generalised disciple-type who’s faith can be damaged?

      It’s like describing and orange and then brandishing a banana!

      it’s like imagining a buddhist and then being sermoned as a christian!

      this isn’t (what I understand is) a scrupulously made connection.

      substituting one meaning for another and pretending it’s the same is one sure way to divide people and spark conflicts,

      not to mention ‘with the help of close disciples.’

    4. Dear Luce24,

      All that wonderful Buddhist insight just for you to conclude that « evil is evil”.

      How about nonduality is nonduality ?

      Dualistic thinking divorces appearance and emptiness, this is the fundamental cause of evil, by the way, and of ignorance, and of samsara.

      Dualistic thinking has two tendencies, the materialist’s tendency of focussing on appearance’s ‘realness’, which is pretty much the solidification of samsara;

      And the nihilism of more depressed types who tend towards the meaninglessness aspect of samsara.

      Both views and the whole spectrum in between, divorce Buddha’s nondual view of appearance and emptiness indivisible.

      And thereby lose bodhicitta and technically break samaya with Buddha’s teaching, as they actively endorse a dualistic engagement with reality.

      So your saying “evil is evil” and Joanne saying “harm is harm”, is just like saying a rock is a rock, there is no nondual understanding there, it’s the perfectly expressed materialism of the samsaric world.

      Why quote Buddhism to say all that?

      Because you think the samsaric materialistic view is more real that the nondual truth of appearance and emptiness together.

      So you also solidify emptiness, as if it was a concept used as an excuse by Buddhists to do harm.

      This is the classic example of the materialist’s argument against Buddhism.

      I guarantee you that any genuine Buddhist sees your pretension clear as day.

    5. Reality

      There are two concepts fundamental to the Buddhist view on the nature of reality, or the world as we experience it.

      The first is that all things have no inherent existence. They are Empty; they have no eternal nature. Secondly, that things appear to be what they are because of our own conditioning.

      Hell R Us

      In the Buddhist world, between the 4th and 5th century there appeared The Sutra of the Remembrance of the True Law which presents the subject of the hells as a journey into the self.

      The hells (Jap. Jigoku) are viewed as a creation of the mind, filled with self-deception and egocentrism.

      1. Why are you using a different name Louise? Is it so you can tell yourself that you’re in this hell of self-deception and egocentrism. And please, don’t forget that the whole point of this conversation is that the term ‘no inherent nature’ or ‘no eternal nature’ does not mean that things don’t exist. It simply means that they exist in dependence on causes and conditions, and so are, of course, impermanent. It’s when people become fixated on the ’emptiness’ part of ‘Form is emptiness; emptiness is form; form is no other than emptiness and emptiness is no other than form,’ that they fall into nihilism. Notice how form and emptiness are equally mentioned here in this essence of the Buddha’s view. You cannot have one without the other. And you cannot separate them. There is no more an ’empty’ nature than there is an ‘eternal’ nature.

  2. I would not want people to believe, according to my comment above, that in order to receive the instruction “Poison is Medicine”, or its equivalent, it is necessary to follow an arduous course reserved for only a few people, having the time to do, for example, the three-year retreats. If we follow, for example, the teachings of Mingyur Rinpoche, and read his books, we will very quickly have an explanation of this instruction, which he presents in a progressive manner and which is in a way the heart of his teaching. He can call it “self-antidote”.

    1. Thanks for the clarification, and the call out for Mingyur Rinpoche. People who want the benefit of the teachings on mind – the gold in TB – want to know who they can trust, and MR, though he also has his faults, is one I’d recommend as well.

    2. Luce24,

      Mahayana is considered the arduous course that takes three countless eons during which the bodhisattva’s practice is to see everything that comes your way, all phenomena and all beings too, as pure appearance and emptiness indivisible, just how the heart sutra clearly teachers.

      And the Vajrayana is considered the easy course which, if you can take refuge in your Guru with the certainty that no matter what happens you trust the guru will personally lead you to your tailor made liberation, then just strap into the ride, like at six flags magic mountain, every gut tipping, terrifying, elating, orgasmic, sickening, discombobulating and satisfying turn of the fariswheel that is already in you, you enjoy as it is, and thereby abandon all hope and fear.

  3. Thank you Thalia 🙂
    Djkr was recognised by Sakya Trizin, himself very close to Sogyal Lakar for decades even giving advices for SL funerals..
    Its a system where many high Rimpoches benefited SL Money…which had no smell,even after the lawsuit in USA.
    Djkr can be seen as a perverse jerk and a destructive buffonneer of Vajra Yana.
    His own guru Dilgo Khyentse was very close with Trungpa…what a mess for honest and sincere practitioners…
    He should be carefull…


      1. Thanks for the link. I don’t want to watch it myself since I never want to watch a TB lama ever again, but I’m interested to know what you found appaling about it. Would you like to fill us in a bit?

        1. What I found appalling about Yangsi Rinpoche’s interview was his excessive, fawning, obsequious praise of TR only made possible by his utter whitewashing of this man’s shameful, abusive legacy that left so many damaged in it’s wake.

          And yet, today, we continue to see those like DKR and YR, not to mention countless former students, still so eager, and even proud, to proclaim the “greatness” of this failed teacher.

          1. I like to read you William, something about you is definitely blessed.
            Could it be could it be, that if countless former students are still so eager and proud to proclaim the greatness of their teacher, it is because they really deeply feel gratitude and love.

            I think we all know how you feel appalled; like this site for example, it offends lots of people who are very into the Buddhadharma. All that appears here is very offensive to them, and quite traumatising. Is like finding a nest of defamatory phantasmagoria about your parents, your self, and your family on social media.

            This unbridled emotionality is a very great part of the sadness of the world. At least countless people who feel gratitude and love don’t need communities that foster negativity.

            Given the choice, I’d much rather be them.
            Cheer up dear William!

            1. As far as fostering negativity, look to those teachers who have engaged in unethical behavior and violated the trust their students have placed in them. Lots of example of students choosing to stay with such teachers despite their transgressions. One can only have compassion for their lack of discerning wisdom.

              1. Sweet William,
                you are the only one here who still accepts my posts.
                Thank you!

                when you say ‘look to those teachers and students’ I find myself looking over (I don’t know bad gurus, but I don’t look for them) and I have to say I just don’t know. I am a buddhist with a fantastic teacher and I know what that feels like, so maybe those who follow their teachers feel the same.

                If they look happy then, I think let them be happy.

                You can listen to someone and disapprove, I mean I think this site is full of very negative and unfounded stuff about buddhism, there is not one buddhist here, and yet blatant wrong views are exchanged on a topic I take very seriously. They know I feel this way, and they don’t mind!

                Negativity shortens your lifeline and no one else’s.
                why trust anyone who asks you to be negative?
                Just for this sad blog to keep going?

                Nothing here makes me want to leave Buddhadharma.

                Take care sweet William, it was nice to meet you.

                1. We’re not trying to make anyone leave Buddhadharma, we just hope you’ll follow with your eyes open. I used to think I had a fantastic teacher too. Then I discovered I’d been fed a lie, and that he and his main people were more interested in money than actually following the core teachings of the Buddha. Tibetan Buddhist lamas have hurt a lot of people, and that is really sad, so I’m glad you see that sadness here, because when I look back, when I think of how it could have been, how it should have been, I am really sad. For any of us to fully trust a lama or their organisation again is too big a thing to ask, so be aware of that when you read the comments here.

                  1. Dear Tahlia,

                    thank you very much for continuing.

                    it’s only apparently unclear whether you want me to follow the Buddhadharma with my eyes, or with your eyes.

                    as our experiences (of Buddhadharma) respectively invalidate each others, while we use common words I’ve come to understand we don’t share the same language.

                    hoping to convert anyone to one’s own phenomenal experience is not reasonable, it also doesn’t reflect awareness of the wisdom Buddha tirelessly teaches.

                    we are antipodes here, yet we can still let each other practice the six paramitas to honour the ultimate perfection, the perfection of wisdom.

                    seeing wisdom is always what’s at stake, anywhere and at any time, wisdom is the only shared hope.

                    if it isn’t then there’s no need to communicate, or to pretend practicing any kind of perfection.

                    for the sake of wisdom then, let’s grab your thought;
                    like catching a fish in a bowl,

                    the statement ‘Tibetan Buddhist Lamas hurt a lot of people’ is a generalisation made where no such generalisation is true.

                    cause there is not one thing to be found that goes by the name ‘Tibetan Buddhist Lamas’,
                    also there is not one thing to be found that goes by the name ‘many people’,
                    and there is no ‘hurt’ or ‘sadness’ that can be applied to mere concepts.

                    those words are conceptual fabrications that seem true because words seem true.

                    the same words that seem true to you, will seem equally untrue to some, and empty of meaning to others, because words are syphons, and any meaning invested in them is entirely relative to the user’s conditioning.

                    words are the children of many people, the poet noted.

                    why is this woman theorising on our suffering?? you may ask.

                    because the suffering you underwent is the same suffering all persons undergo.
                    this is why Lord Buddha kindly said ‘all emotions are causes of suffering’.

                    Lord Buddha said: everything that arises has a cause, there is a cause to end all causes, this is the teaching of the buddha.

                    this does not mean Buddha causes the end of our conditional suffering according to what you (or I or we) imagine our suffering to be, or its cause to be, or its end to be.

                    Buddhadharma is not a free for all, you can’t make it up as you go along, to please self and friends.

                    de-conditioning is as painful as the conditioning (or more painful even) precisely because you and me are wholly conditioned, and that includes everything we believe and imagine, beginning, middle and end.

                    believing ‘self’ to be truly real, and furthermore to believe ‘self’ suffering is caused by outer phenomena from which we are separate like victims, is the mother cause of suffering!

                    deconditioning awareness wisdom from such erroneous computing is not an easy nor a happy process, is not for the faint of heart, and is not for those who prefer to cling bitterly to self as being true, and prefer blaming outer causes that are really self’s projections.

                    Buddha said this many times.
                    Buddha was reluctant to teach.
                    Buddha knew ordinary ‘childish’ people would be outraged.

                    may all experiences no matter what they are, lead to awareness wisdom!

                    from ‘The Rice Seedling sutra’:

                    “Venerable Śāriputra then said to the bodhisattva mahāsattva Maitreya, “Maitreya, here today, the Bhagavān, gazing at a rice seedling, spoke this aphorism to the bhikṣus: ‘Bhikṣus, whoever sees dependent arising sees the Dharma. Whoever sees the Dharma sees the Buddha.’ Having said this, the Bhagavān fell silent. Maitreya, what is the meaning of this aphorism spoken by the Sugata? What is dependent arising? What is the Dharma? What is the Buddha? How does one see the Dharma by seeing dependent arising? How does one see the Buddha by seeing the Dharma?”

                    (… I selected for brevity)

                    “Similarly, inner dependent arising also arises from two principles. From what two principles? From a causal relation and a conditional relation.

                    “What, then, is the causal relation in inner dependent arising? It starts with ignorance causing formations and so on, until finally, birth causes aging and death. If ignorance does not arise, then formations do not manifest and so on, until finally, if birth does not arise, then aging and death do not manifest. Likewise, from the existence of ignorance, formations occur and so on, until finally, from the existence of birth, comes aging and death.”
                    “Venerable Śāriputra, whoever sees with perfect wisdom this dependent arising, perfectly taught by the Bhagavān, as it actually is—as always and forever without life force, devoid of life force, true, unmistaken, unborn, not arisen, uncreated, uncompounded, unobstructed, imperceptible, tranquil, fearless, incontrovertible, inexhaustible, and by nature never stilled—whoever fully and truly sees it as unreal, vain, hollow, unsubstantial, as a sickness, a boil, a thorn, as miserable, impermanent, painful, empty, and self-less, such a person does not reflect on the past thinking, ‘Did I exist in the past, or not? What was I in the past? How was I in the past?’ Nor does such a person reflect on the future thinking, ‘Will I exist in the future, or not? What will I be in the future? How will I be in the future?’ Nor does such a person reflect on the present thinking, ‘What is this? How is this? Being what, what will we become? Where does this being come from? Where will it go when transmigrating from here at death?’

                    “Whichever dogmas mendicants and brahmins hold throughout the world, whether they involve belief in a self, belief in a being, belief in a life force, belief in a person, or belief in ceremonies and festivities, such dogmas, prone to agitation and dullness, are all abandoned at that time. Fully understood as false, these dogmas are severed at the root and wither like the head of a palm tree, never to arise or cease in the future.”

                    from ‘The Ten Bhumi sutra’
                    (Vajragarbha describes the first bhumi, named JOY)

                    “On attaining this bhūmi they become free from five fears:
                    They are free from the fear of having no livelihood, of death, of not being praised,
                    Of the lower existences, and of assemblies, and thus they are without fear. Why is that? Because there is no presence of the self.”

                    dear Tahlia, what kind of truth would I build by thinking :

                    – I used to think this
                    – now I think that
                    – because I found that such and such believes such and such
                    – when I look back
                    – when I think of now
                    – how it should have been
                    – how it could have been

                    a very fragile, wobbly and undependable one

                    if to follow Buddha’s teaching I stop going to gatherings and festivities, simultaneously I have to drop the self and all its concerns, otherwise renouncing anything is just changing a pastime, it doesn’t mean I have renunciation mind.

                    with no renunciation mind all you do is cling to cyclic existence.

                    that is disappointing.
                    that is sad.
                    that is the root of suffering.

                    for the sutras please do read them in full on 84,000

                    HAPPY LHABAB DUCHEN

    1. Unfortunately, he’s taken Trungpa’s example and is running with that, no sense of caution or responsiblity and no sense of the damage he’s doing. It’s incredibly immature. And yet people follow him!

      1. I see parallels in the US political arena. The one politician that comes to mind is Trump, from his response to Covid to his insistent that he won the 2020 election. This man has blood on his hands. And yet, most of the GOP continue to stand with him as does his adoring base. Surely there are cult-like elements at play in both instances.

        1. Dear William, now you are making more sense.
          As you see Trump with such deep emotionality, it stands to reason that, if you don’t shift the level of your mental continuum when you look at followers of Buddha, just as Trump is ordinary so are the guru’s you despise.

          If your mind is pure,
          Everyone is a Buddha.

          If your mind is impure,
          Everyone is ordinary.

          Kyabje Truslhik Rinpoche

          Why would a genuine follower of buddha tell you what you want hear?
          why is everyone shocked that DK didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear?
          Does teacher tell people what they wanted to hear, or does a teacher tell people what they needed to hear?

          Basically DK told people to stay away from vajrayana, isn’t that what you all say yourselves?

  4. Where can I find more information about HH Dalai Lama condemning the criminal actions of his regent and vajra master?

  5. Interesting videos,–U

    Appaling: if you are not happy with an abusive guru, leave but don’t disturb the sincere students…
    Dilgo Khyentse said HHDL, Trungpa was a bit strange but had somme realisation..but .we know what happened with him and his vajra (Aids)regent…

    See carefully the links between all these high lamas and their interaction in mutual lineage transmission, find one who was not polluted by CT ,or SL…and their supporters, beneficiaries., accomplices, etc…

    Make your mind with what you ear and see on these videos, thank’s to Youtube 😉
    We do live a sad period for genuine Vajrayana indeed.
    I would like so much to be wrong…

    1. take heart friend, you are surely wrong.
      since we believe in the truth of cause and effect, it is not reasonable, plausible nor possible that you be right and Dilgo Khyentse be wrong about vajrayana.

    1. Tenzin Palmo asked such a great follow-up question, then it flips to another video, same event but i’m just not sure whether HHDL is answering that question or not. The bit about a teacher who’s using sex & alcohol on the path should also have ‘one taste’ towards eating excrement is relevant but i’m wondering whether some parts in between are missed or not?

        1. Thanks for the link Luce, yes I’ll check out the full conference. The sound is a bit challenging at times, mainly I guess cos the interpreter has a soft voice.

  6. Dear Tahlia,

    I look forward to reading your article, but to start, I would request you to please go back to the beginning of this movement, the critique of Dzongsar Khyentse, that I note is supporting some more unsavoury scenarios, which I think starts when Dzongsar Khyentse was requested by Rigpa sangha to write a clarification of vajrayana in the wake of the Sogyal Affair.

    Because there are two subjects on the table, in this case there is the Sogyal Affair, and there is the vajrayana.

    As I recall, Dzongsar Khyentse dutifully indulged Rigpa sangha by writing a clarification of vajrayana, unfortunately at the time when the emotional community needed to hear that Sogyal was a monster and vajrayana was dangerous. Dzongsar Khyentse was consequently misinterpreted as having given his personal opinion on Sogyal Rinpoche.

    But this is highly unlikely, since a vajrayana practitioner, especially one requested to clarify vajrayana, cannot give an opinion this way, because vajrayana is not based on knowing in the ordinary sense.

    H H Dalai Lama and Myingur Rinpoche were not asked to clarify the vajrayana, they were asked to react to the Sogyal Affair in particular. So no comparison should be made.

    The founding text of your discontent is a practical, terribly humble and thorough clarification of the term vajrayana – as requested by a select group at a particular time. That request was based on the Rigpa sangha’s trust that Dzongsar Khyentse is the one most likely to explain vajrayana how it is. Which is exactly what Dzongsar Khyentse did.

    Another thing we have heard, and should constantly recall, and finally accept, is anyone not open to certain fields of knowing (or unknowing as the case may be) will not understand. So they say esoteric fields are self-protected, or self-secret.

    I reiterate my request for you Tahlia, to kindly clarify what seems to me to be a decontextualisation made at that very emotional time, and which seems to be happily developing into a crazy belief system at the expense of… well, things that are actually very precious.

    I would like to be sure this gathering of minds know if it is based on misunderstandings.

    Thank you very much for your very kind consideration and time,

    1. I didn’t write this article, and personally I’m totally over all this Tibetan Buddhist bullshit. My life is far better without it, and don’t assume that I’ve discarded the ‘very precious’ things. It’s the garbage I’ve thrown out – and I do know the difference. In answer to your question: I’m not interested in engaging in discussion on this. In the past many have engaged me and others in such discussions merely to try to convince themselves that their adoration of their guru is warranted. I’m not longer willing to play that game.

  7. Dear Tahlia,
    thank you for your answer. Your tolerance to still entertain passionate buddhists, even if you have discarded the discourse, is very much appreciated. Since just like when our parents quarrel, we are all victims of whatever disharmony arises within what we believe is good. Buddha taught that the path should eventually be discarded, as it is merely a means, not an end. I will not assume you have discarded very precious things; whatever very precious things we are referring to, they are upheld by our beliefs. Whatever very precious things we are referring to, they are inseparable from our beliefs. In this fundamental way, to look on the bright side, you Tahlia and I Louise are offering words to each other for the sake of goodness not necessary to define, and all arguments aside this is very precious. Thank you for this share of wisdom. Thank you also for identifying the garbage you threw out, as what happens to be precious to me. It’s perfectly ok, I understand our relativity as dependently arising. My genuine concern for you and others on your forum, as well as for me who is the object of discontent, is how can you positively throw out garbage if you continuously recycle it into garbage? If you threw out the garbage, shouldn’t this site be dissolved? What game is being played on this site, if not the very one you say you are no longer willing to play? I will have to keep thanking you for keeping me in your thoughts, albeit as garbage, and remain by profession endlessly disposed toward you! Louise

    1. I agree with Joanne on this, but to answer your questions to me. This isn’t my personal site, it’s a community site. The fact that I am no longer personally interested in the machinations of the Buddhist world doesn’t mean that others aren’t. Plenty of people are involved in various ways in Tibetan Buddhism, and the abuse issue has not gone away. It has not been addressed in the religion as a whole, and so the information on this website is still relevant to anyone considering attending teachings as well as those recovering from a TB cult.

      The purpose of this site is:
      – to provide the kind of transparency on Sogyal’s abuse and the behaviour of Rigpa management that Rigpa doesn’t provide (still);
      – to maintain a historical record of the events and a record of the psychological trauma experienced by a group of people when the walls of illusion fell away, which is why it will never be taken down;
      – to provide information and a forum for discussion on the topics of abuse in Tibetan Buddhism, Rigpa’s management of the abuse, recovering from abuse and cult membership, and living life beyond the temple;
      – to update the community of any developments.

  8. Louise, I know your comments are not directed towards me, but as the author of the article (except for the headings, which Tahlia wrote), I would like to make some replies. My orientation is similar to yours because I stubbornly hold to and value the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition, I seek the safe transmission of the Vajrayana to the West– but also similar to Tahlia’s because I will no longer tolerate the use of Vajrayana terms and symbols and meanings as a tool to deny that harm is harm. This is where I believe that Dzongsar Kyentse’s approach is a serious risk.

    In fact, my article is exactly directed towards his so-called “clarification of the Vajrayana.” which I see as a dangerous and narrow fundamentalism– and nihilism– at a time when we need clear vision moving forward. This is why I included stories of Tilopa and Milarepa– and why I included comments from HH Dalai Lama, whom I see as a lama who is willing to steer students in ways that insure better safety, while still honoring the practices. Dzongsar’s Kyentse’s narrow approach to this crisis– and we have to view it as a crisis!– is to simply dig deeper into rigid instructions that cause students to become less able to discern and avoid being harmed. His deceptive quoting of the Dalai Lama is an example of this.

    I tried to make clear in my writing that practices of pure perception and tantric commitments are important– but when they come at the cost of discernment and basic moral decency, then we have a problem. This is when we need clear sighted leadership from Tibetan Buddhist leaders. I honor Dzongsar Kyentse for putting himself forward to “clarify”, but I cannot, as a Buddhist, accept his orientation.

  9. Dear Joanne,

    Mahayana is the path to realise the heart sutra, form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form.

    Mahayana vajrayana admittedly uses emotions, which occur even as you walk the path, to realise the heart sutra (not as a nihilistic view of emptiness, but as a realisation of Buddha nature.)

    While Mahayana is the great vehicle of Buddhism, the vajrayana part is specifically not meant for everybody.

    So the idea of ‘making vajrayana a safe way forward’ is nonsensical. This ‘not meant for everybody’ part is its safety feature.

    Buddha never said liberation from the human condition is easy, and we need all the help we can get. You really should lay off teachers that are well loved for excellent reasons.

    As for the rest, the Buddha needs no defending.

    1. Sad that so many Western students, including yourself, continue laboring under this false and mistaken, dare I say, delusional impression that entering the vajrayana essentially means surrendering yourself to whatever sick and inappropriate behavior the guru wishes to perpetrate upon his students. The damage and harm that has been done by such Vajrayana teachers as SL, CT, and DKR is beyond measure; some have died, many continue struggling psychologically, while others have renounced the Buddhist path altogether. Your wrong-thinking not only harms yourself, it also harms those who are impressionable and lack discerning wisdom. What comes to mind is a distortion bordering on a cult.

      1. Am sorry to disappoint but I don’t believe you know anything about Vajrayana.
        And neither do I for that matter.
        And since Joanne’s point is that Vajrayana should not be available to potential Vajrayana victims, I really don’t understand why you all keep talking about it. Let the professionals make people like you and me never go near the Vajrayana, and everything is settled! We should be grateful! We’re safe! DK has made sure we will never go near the Vajrayana, so what’s all the fuss about?

        1. Right, I received my first anuttarayoga tantric initiation in 1978 and have been a Vajrayana practitioner since then. How presumptuous of you to make such ridiculous statements.

          1. On the contrary, am adopting the right view that safeguards potential victims of vajrayana, which is that sitting in on tantric empowerments doesn’t necessarily make you an initiate of vajrayana, or bind you to it’s conditions. I think if you pick and chose what those conditions are, you are only bound to what you believe. I think it would be presumptuous to think that is Vajrayana.

            1. “For one to enter the Vajrayana there is no teaching but initiation.”
              ~Sakya Pandita

              Moreover, there are root and secondary tantric vows which those entering this path promise to keep until reaching enlightenment and which continue on our mental continuums into future lives. In such initiations, one also reaffirms one’s Individual Liberation and Bodhisattva vows.

              1. Thank you William for your thoughtful reply, and fantastic quote.

                Please let me know which of the following you don’t agree with :

                – The word ‘initiation’ in Sakya Pandita’s quote doesn’t imply that if you sit in, you get initiated.

                (We have heard many times that) initiation doesn’t happen just because you sit in.
                Cause ‘initiation’ is not fairy dust bestowed on objective heads by a magician, it must be just as you say,

                – initiation is a self-understanding of one’s own potential to liberate from (the illusion of) suffering,

                and moreover,

                – thinking that all beings have the potential (to liberate from illusory suffering) initiation is a self-commitment to always view others as (indivisible from) their own potential.

                – to view everything positively, basically. Keeping to Lord Buddha’s sweet words that we should never indulge in a negative turn of mind.


                – in Sakya Pandita’s quote, ‘there is no teaching only initiation,’ implies that there isn’t an object out there to hem and haw about, let alone a general subject to teach.

                As you say, initiation means,

                – ‘one reaffirms individual liberation and bodhisattva vows’.

                – as an initiate, in it for the long run, your definition of initiation as ‘taking root and secondary vows’ is not contradicted by any clear and exhaustive clarification of those vows and why you took them. And is useful to know if you took them or not.

                – until we do effect liberation from the bewilderment of the human condition, as long as the mental continuum endures, it is imperative to encounter lineage masters as well as clarifications and reminders of our vows.

  10. Dear Joanne,
    I very briefly struggled through your DK and nihilism piece.
    I imagine you also very briefly struggled through Poison is medicine.
    Buddhism doesn’t teach that you should get engrossed in your fantasies.

    If you are intent on practicing buddhism, when your emotional mind gets stuck you apply mindfulness. If you really want to effect a change, you stop fabulating altogether. Fabulation doesn’t inspire trust, even a victim will flee you.
    A victim really wants to change their suffering mind, not hear biased imaginings.

    1. Your advice to Joanne, stop fabulating, is pure projection! That’s exactly what you’re engaged in, but don’t see the forest for the trees. You yourself are a victim…. but don’t even know it.

  11. As an initiate of Buddhism who tries to remind herself of the four noble truths, I agree that everything is projections, and this doesn’t make Joanne’s projections less so.

    1. Ok, I understand. The Middle way includes an in-depth study of truth and perception as there are various kinds of both. If you intend to establish the validity of certain perceptions in the Buddhist spheres, just as you would using western logic, it’s best to study those closely or you won’t make much sense. It is the same in the ‘real’ intuitive nontechnical world, projections are known to be so, whether we like it or not. But in small groups like this, we let each other fantasise freely. It can be cathartic but It’s much better not to use scape goats. If you have a good understanding then you shouldn’t need one. Buddhism never rejects argumentons, but relentless person bashing, that’s neither here nor there.

      1. Louise, you can’t see your entrapment in a set of beliefs because you are in the grip of cult dynamics. Yet for those of us who have broadened our education on the mind and stepped beyond Tibetan Buddhism or seen it in a new light, the way your beliefs limit your perception is obvious. There may not be any evil intent in any of it, but TB is set up to keep the lama in power and everyone else disempowered – which is not consistent with the teaching that we all have Buddha Nature btw, but is very consistent with cult dynamics.

        Unfortunately, the teachings that were meant to free us turned us into slaves of our masters. The last veil to fall away is that of conceptual obscurations, but religions have a set of beliefs that members believe in, and that belief keeps concepts firmly in place. It takes a while to see it, and many never do, but at some point, if we are truly to follow the teachings, we must step beyond the limitations that any belief system imposes on our mind. This is why this blog is called Beyond the Temple. But that doesn’t mean that you still can’t follow the Tibetan Buddhist way, it just means that you can see beyond it’s limitations.

        1. Dear Tahlia,
          It’s good that you bring all this up, it helps to see certain things very clearly.

          The cult for example, if I understand, a cult for you is when there is a lama in power and everyone else is disempowered.

          Personally speaking, this has not been my experience of Tibetan Buddhism, but i understand my personal experience is disempowered here, so let’s move on to the beliefs.

          Looking at worldly structures, point out one that doesn’t fit this description:
          a governing power and everyone else is disempowered – ?

          Also what defines a cult, is believing that everyone should think the same, even though this is obviously completely unreasonable and impossible. Nowhere in Tibetan Buddhism is this demand ever made, that everyone should think the same.

          Tibetan Buddhism is not the free world’s great conditioner, the conditioning is far deeper and more serious.

          If you do read Lord Buddha, birth sickness old age and death are the great conditioners, and mind is the great condition, that is ignorant or awakened.

          This is seriously vast stuff, because there’s no escaping birth, sickness, old age and death, no matter what cult you belong to.

          Knowing things as they are, and I mean everything pertaining to oneself, is the only way through.

          The oracle of Thebes said the same, Know thyself, but that’s all it said.

          What you call Tibetan Buddhism are a panoply of means tailor made through centuries with heart wrenching care for our degenerate age so that we can pursue paths of knowing ourself.

          Such precious means and their lineage holders are invaluable support for anyone who can’t help but wish to go beyond conditioning.

          In any case Dear Tahlia and friends, Lord Buddha taught so many times to guard the mind from negativity, and while I understand the Sogyal Affair was shocking, maintaining a stream of negativity for any reason definitely goes against Lord Buddha’s sweet words.

          If you truly are intent on other’s good, then you must have a positive way to express it. As long as you revert to negative trends, you ignore Lord Buddha’s council, (and risk sounding just disgruntled and bitter.)

          Am certain HH the Dalai Lama would cry hot tears if he saw your page, since you use him and other teachers to discredit their revered friends and revered endeavours with shameless out-pours of negativity.

          I have been privy to HH the Dalai Lama’s reprimand just for one such negative thought and I won’t soon forget.

          Talk about empowering a belief that disempowered all the rest, here you have it at your finger tips. Please take care!

          Thank you very much for your time.

        2. Oh Dear Tahlia and friends,

          about the particulars of the ‘Tibetan Buddhism cult’ as you delineate them,
          we should set up some zoom meetings to read together Poison is Medicine or The guru drinks bourbon.

          Or if you prefer DK’s clarification of Vajrayana, since in each there is several times typed out in black and white about hierarchy in Vajrayana and the rest.

          As it stands, when you say ‘to those of us who have broadened our education’, it sounds like you mean ‘to those of us who haven’t read through any of those texts’.

          It also makes DK’s concern that ‘the Vajrayana’ – already this is mistaken speech, like saying ‘emptiness’ is an independent thing – nonetheless since this error momentarily appears, let’s go along to remember DK saying ‘the Vajrayana’ should never have been exposed to the general public.

          If we read any of those books we should find out exactly why. And we might find you share the same concern.

          Why not adopt a positive teaching that doesn’t depend on defaming what is not a teaching, as Sakya Pandita said, and William quoted.

          Demonising Vajrayana and DK and other lineage masters or for that matter demonising anyone or anything, should be a great embarrassment for anyone who means to be ethical and morally sound.

          You can’t make up a monster when it is portrayed in black and white. Another reason why DK must have undergone the effort to write it all down.

          We should read any of those texts together and actually get through them. What do you think?
          If you are right then I will change my mind!
          If you are wrong about what Vajrayana is, then you’ll be delightfully free of negative attachment!

  12. Dear friend,

    I do go to bed every evening with the guru in my heart, and I do dream each night enough to see my mind, and I wake each day to the pang of Buddha’s first noble truth, and say preliminary prayers before my feet touch ground, which they do as I utter my guru’s name out loud,

    Though I am not separate from conditioned suffering I wouldn’t wish myself otherwise,

    Thank you friend for inspiring me to share what I do outside any kind of dominion.

    1. Louise:

      Let me offer a hypothetical: Imagine a student of DKR’s who comes upon a situation in which DKR is being assaulted by someone on the street. Does one with pure perception walk on by or do they compassionately intervene and stop the beating of DKR? And what do you imagine DKR would say?

      Another hypothetical:

      What if DKR was convicted of rape and had to pay restitution to the victim and spend years in prison? How do you think he would feel about groundlessness under those circumstances? Moreover, how would you feel about DKR’s teachings at that point? And without having the benefit of your teacher nearby?

  13. I have heard a similar story:
    A (well know historical) guru and his disciple were walking the mountains in Tibet back in the day, and as night fell they were assaulted by a bunch of bandits.
    The disciple, who happened to be quite strong, was so angry at the bandits who jumped on his guru, he attached them with fists flying.
    The guru who absolutely didn’t want his disciple to be violent in anyway tried to stop him.
    The disciple blinded by anger started to fight his guru.
    Meanwhile the bandits found themselves watching the two guys they had attacked, the guru (they didn’t know was a guru) and the disciple (they didn’t know was a disciple), were now wildly fighting each other.
    The bandits stood around very confused and after a while they went away.
    After this for days the disciple suffered terrible anger, he just couldn’t calm down. Then suddenly out of the blue something shifted in him, and he had a profound realisation of reality that never went away.
    The moral is, never underestimate the blessings of the guru.

    1. Louise:

      Let’s do the math: decrease ignorance of inherent existence, attachment and anger. Then, positive states of mind such as peace, love, joy, compassion, and wisdom associated w your primordial nature will arise spontaneously and naturally one will be compelled to develop skillful means to help all living beings, even DKR!

  14. So then, the implication is to walk on by and let dkr get beat up.? So, similarly, you would also prefer me not to help you in a similar situation and just walk on by? And, generally. we should not help others in similar situations, whether the guru or not, and maintain pure perception?

    Please tell me how this develops skillful means, compassion, and the wisdom required to accumulate merit for Buddhahood?

    1. Dear William, as promised, a quote from the vajrayana in the west teaching at Rigpa 2018 Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche says :

      «my primary reason (for being) here is – yes we have an issue, am not going to pretend nothing is happening, yes there is an issue, there is a problem.
      But the main reason (for my involvement) here is really to clarify some of the interpretations of Vajrayana and its philosophy. That has always been my aim. 

      I did (try to write a 19 pages clarification) with good intention. But that also got interpreted as if I didn’t care about the alleged victims, and this is not true. Of course I care!
      And I care beyond normal emotional hurt, (and) physical hurt, I care for the seed of the path of enlightenment of those people. I care for the continuity of their spiritual path.
      I care (that) due to this situation many people have suddenly doubted Buddhadharma in general and specifically Vajrayana. I care so much!

      By caring, you don’t want just to lend your shoulder to cry on and pat (the person) and write a few things. You want to do something more.
      You want to really go to the root of why this is happening.
      There’s no point to just (produce) sound bites, like everybody just says the same thing cause it’s the good thing to do, like a candle vigil, something like that.

      You have to really try to tackle the issue.

      And by the way I also thought when (Rigpa) originally invited me, many of you know i am not so fond of going to a lot of dharma centres to teach, because it’s just not in me (to do that); but when I received the invitation I thought this is a good chance, people are paying attention, the issue, the disappointment, the hurt, I don’t know if you will understand, (but) this alone shows how much the west has entered and cares about the Vajrayana. This is a good chance for us to talk about it. »

      This quote starts within ten minutes of the teaching. To my ear you can hear DJKR is already under the strain of others’ negative assumptions.

      Joanne in her article makes a big deal of the words ‘alleged’ victims. Because Joanne interprets those words as meaning DJKR is denying there are victims and therefore denying any wrong doing has occurred.

      From such misinterpretation sordid fantasising of rape, beating, and all these monstrous Tibetan Buddhist lamas in cahoots to abuse brainwashed cult members densifies like a mirage that we think is really real. What for?

      This is Joanne’s interpretation of two words isolated from everything else DJKR takes the trouble to say for those alleged victims, and this just to support her lengthy exegesis of DJKR that amounts to nothing more than character defamation.

      But I f we imagine DJKR really does care about repairing the spiritual paths of those persons as he says he does, « alleged victims » is arguably a means of telling them: Wait! Don’t look at yourselves as victims! Look at yourselves as practitioners and stay on the path of enlightenment!

      A genuinely caring analyst would not tell the person each time they met, you poor victim, you really got suckered, you really got abused, you really had the wool pulled over your eyes, you will never get over this, you’ll be a basket case forever.

      They would immediately help that person envision their strong side, their brave side, their ability to transcend confusion, and turn their bewilderment into the very wisdom they were initially drawn to.

      They would start by saying, you shouldn’t consider yourself anyone’s victim; and go on to explain exactly how to avoid seeing themselves as victim.

      Analysts educate themselves by in-depth analysis, not mere reacting.
      If you don’t study any clarification of Vajrayana, you really can’t pretend you know anything that can truly help anyone who feels bewildered by what happened to them.

  15. Ok since we must address DK, dear William, here the scenario appears to be some people angry and traumatised by the Sogyal affair like to beat up DK while friends watch or encourage it; and then Buddhists like me come along who try to stop this.

    So no I don’t think it’s ok to beat up DK, and I’d rather not walk on by, and I’d rather no one beat up DK cause to beat up anyone is not a solution.

    It’s just passing on the sting, or becoming an abuser from having been abused.

    Which is why I think a person ultimately has to figure out for themselves what is really happening, not be codependent on others who encourage the continuum of painful and agressive projections.

    DK has never beat up anyone. DK has never walked on by anyone getting beat up. Sogyal on the other hand, and as far as I know they were not by any means friends, did what he did – I didn’t know him myself so can’t comment in a meaningful way – and DK came to the rescue, not of Sogyal, but of Buddhism. I don’t think you can call that walking on by.

    The reason you think DK walked on by, is because on the one hand you expected a specific reaction that you didn’t get, so you figured DK ignored you; and also I think you don’t give DK the benefit of the doubt that he has wisdom and knows what he is doing. You see DK as an ordinary person, or worst.

    Was your Vajrayana guru an ordinary person?

    So, there are some issues here that condition your view, and these cause you to beat up and walk on by quite realistically.

    DK meanwhile has no agenda but staying true to genuine Buddhadharma for the benefit of all beings.

    DK explained everything about how to work through the crisis as a Buddhist. He also mentions several times why what he is doing is to help those who have lost their bearings. But because of anger you haven’t yet heard anything DK said for your benefit, the obstacle arose that you judged him compulsively.

    DK gave his own approach profound consideration. But because you see him as ordinary you don’t see this and cause you gave up being a Buddhist, you are stuck in a cycle of agression.

    DK just makes this apparent. One day this will help you a lot. Because you will liberate from this cycle.

    This is my view on that. Later I will quote you how I came to see it. I hope then you will actually hear what DK is saying to you, out of genuine concern, kindness and wisdom.

    You don’t need to hear anything, I mean you don’t have to, no one is forcing you. But for your and other’s benefit, you might at least liberate from a negative turn of mind. Heal if you will.

    Thanks William for your kindness in asking. I am fast developing appreciation of you.

    1. Oh William, just in case you might be tempted to think that my fast developing appreciation of you means I am slowly coming around to abandoning my cult and falling into this site’s healing embrace, this is not what I mean and that scenario, like other scenarios entertained here, will never manifest.
      Because these are mirages and because I am an irreversible Buddhist.
      Who knows how much time has passed since I first took the bodhisattva vow and entered the transcendent gateway of bodhicitta, possibly eons..
      That is my ability, and my genuine irresistible joy, to love you regardless of your believing am brainwashed beyond my knowing.
      Ha ha!

  16. Oh dear, Louise, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll try to focus just on the fact I think we agree on, which is that the Vajrayana is in something of a crisis in the West. What you miss in my article is that I was very very careful throughout my article never to disparage Vajrayana practices or its vows and commitments (the headings were written by Tahlia). My objections are with the so-called “Crazy Wisdom” practices. This is why I mentioned Tilopa and Milarepa. Somehow, those crazy wisdom practices are becoming confused with mainstream Vajrayana. Within crazy wisdom practices, Vajrayana masters are given a degree of license that in the present situation– e.g. bringing the Vajrayana into a new culture with a serious lack of understanding of the foundational teachings– are a risk to the safety of students.

    Students are being harmed, seriously harmed, and something has to shift. My perspective is that the focus first needs to be on crazy wisdom, on instructions such as the idea that we, as bodhisattvas could walk past a rape and not intervene to prevent harm.

    You write: “Joanne in her article makes a big deal of the words ‘alleged’ victims. Because Joanne interprets those words as meaning DJKR is denying there are victims and therefore denying any wrong doing has occurred.”

    Ha ha, how could you contort a simple word like “alleged”? “Alleged” is simply the truth when an action has not been proved and also the responsible word for a writer to write. My goal in all of this is two fold– to tell the truth and to end the suffering. Thus, care with unproven allegations.

    I also have to tell you that I abhor attitudes such as yours in the following — “A genuinely caring analyst would not tell the person each time they met, you poor victim, you really got suckered, you really got abused, you really had the wool pulled over your eyes, you will never get over this, you’ll be a basket case forever.”

    I worked in counseling survivors of sexual abuse and I would never tell survivors any of those things you suggest. I would help her/him explore for her/himself how best to move forward, help to empower because power has been taken away. Such attitudes as these you just stated are very cult like, very un-Mahayana, very demeaning. The path to survival after significant abuse is a long and arduous one and every survivors will find her/his own path. Telling survivors to just get over it is unkind, maybe brutal– and demonstrates a common brutal trend in cults.

    I am still struggling myself after my experiences in Rigpa and a Kagyu Centre. I work daily on it, I hold on to my small Vajrayana commitment, but it doesn’t just go away, twenty years later. Some days are very very hard. This is also an understanding lacking from teachers such as DJK, also why people respond so strongly to attitudes such as yours.

    And along the same lines, I wonder about this statement you make:

    “Mahayana is the path to realise the heart sutra, form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form.

    “Mahayana vajrayana admittedly uses emotions, which occur even as you walk the path, to realise the heart sutra (not as a nihilistic view of emptiness, but as a realisation of Buddha nature.)

    “While Mahayana is the great vehicle of Buddhism, the vajrayana part is specifically not meant for everybody.”

    Where is the method side of the path? The Heart Sutra has both an explicit meaning, wisdom, as well as an implicit meaning, the six perfections and heroic paths of a bodhisattva, who cannot bear to see suffering. And all you speak of are “emotions” in the Vajrayana, which are nothing to do with cultivating bodhicitta. You seem to lack balance in your perception of where the Vajrayana fits in the overall path– seem to weigh too heavily on the side of emptiness. I see this imbalance frequently and thus my concerns about nihilism.

  17. Oh dear, Louise, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll try to focus just on the fact I think we agree on, which is that the Vajrayana is in something of a crisis in the West. What you miss in my article is that I was very very careful throughout my article never to disparage Vajrayana practices or its vows and commitments (the headings were written by Tahlia). My objections are with the so-called “Crazy Wisdom” practices.

    This is why I mentioned Tilopa and Milarepa. Somehow, those crazy wisdom practices are becoming confused with mainstream Vajrayana. Within crazy wisdom practices, Vajrayana masters are given a degree of license that in the present situation– e.g. bringing the Vajrayana into a new culture with a serious lack of understanding of the foundational teachings– are a risk to the safety of students. Students are being harmed, seriously harmed, and something has to shift. My perspective is that the focus first needs to be on crazy wisdom, on instructions such as the idea that we, as bodhisattvas could walk past a rape and not intervene to prevent harm.

    You write: “Joanne in her article makes a big deal of the words ‘alleged’ victims. Because Joanne interprets those words as meaning DJKR is denying there are victims and therefore denying any wrong doing has occurred.” Ha ha, how could you contort a simple word like “alleged”? “Alleged” is simply the truth when an action has not been proved and also the responsible word for a writer to write. My goal in all of this is two fold– to tell the truth and to end the suffering. Thus, care with unproven allegations.

    I also have to tell you that I abhor attitudes such as yours in the following — “A genuinely caring analyst would not tell the person each time they met, you poor victim, you really got suckered, you really got abused, you really had the wool pulled over your eyes, you will never get over this, you’ll be a basket case forever.” I worked in counseling survivors of sexual abuse and I would never tell survivors any of those things you suggest. I would help her/him explore for her/himself how best to move forward, help to empower because power has been taken away. Such attitudes as these you just stated are very cult like, very un-Mahayana, very demeaning. The path to survival after significant abuse is a long and arduous one and every survivors will find her/his own path. Telling survivors to just get over it is unkind, maybe brutal– and demonstrates a common brutal trend in cults.

    I am still struggling myself after my experiences in Rigpa and a Kagyu Centre. I work daily on it, I hold on to my small Vajrayana commitment, but it doesn’t just go away, twenty years later. Some days are very very hard. This is also an understanding lacking from teachers such as DJK, also why people respond so strongly to attitudes such as yours.

    And along the same lines, I wonder about this statement you make: “Mahayana is the path to realise the heart sutra, form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness is no other than form. “Mahayana vajrayana admittedly uses emotions, which occur even as you walk the path, to realise the heart sutra (not as a nihilistic view of emptiness, but as a realisation of Buddha nature.) “While Mahayana is the great vehicle of Buddhism, the vajrayana part is specifically not meant for everybody.” Where is the method side of the path? The Heart Sutra has both an explicit meaning, wisdom, as well as an implicit meaning, the six perfections and heroic paths of a bodhisattva, who cannot bear to see suffering. And all you speak of are “emotions” in the Vajrayana, which are nothing to do with cultivating bodhicitta. You seem to lack balance in your perception of where the Vajrayana fits in the overall path– seem to weigh too heavily on the side of emptiness. I see this imbalance frequently and thus my concerns about nihilism.

  18. Dear Joanne, thank you for your thoughts;

    Since you mention it, I don’t agree that the Vajrayana is in crisis in the west, and I think there is a problem here, which is until we clarify the term Vajrayana we don’t know what we are talking about.

    As it stands, on what basis are we claiming to know the Vajrayana?

    Not on the basis of the Sogyal Affair, cause everyone knows that’s a problem and only bewilderment comes from there.

    And if we can’t agree to read DJKR’s clarification of Vajrayana then,
    How do we know we are talking about Vajrayana?

    Without checking with DJKR’s clarification of the Vajrayana, for all we know we are inventing a ‘mainstream Vajrayana’ and defining it as the Sogyal affair and creating a cult out of our confusion and calling it Buddhism.

    Buddhism is only a label, but in respect of the billions who use it, hijacking a word like this is a mistake, especially if we mean to tell the truth for others’ sake.

    The same goes for the word Varjayana.

    Until we share an understanding of the term Vajrayana, we just don’t know what is happening here.

    For example am quite sure:
    Sogyal is not DJKR;
    ‘mainstream Vajrayana’ is not Vajrayana;
    buddhism is not the Sogyal affair;
    emotions are not awareness wisdom;
    bodhicitta is not morality based;
    and Joanne saying DJKR walks by a rape scene does not mean DJKR walks by a rape scene.

    So, much as I would love to discuss with you, I don’t believe we use the same language.

    If you wish to make a point about Vajrayana, or explain to me how it is in crisis in the west, we need to reference DJKR’s clarification.

    Any well intentioned seeker of truth would insist on it.

    Aversion is a defilement, as far as I know.

    If you prefer, we can define a meaning of the word bodhicitta; or if you prefer, a meaning of the word victim.

    I have already done both, just let me know what topic suits you, and I will share.

  19. Louise, is DJK the only teacher who can clarify what is the Vajrayana? I have read the three volumes HH Dalai Lama has written on this, as well as his two volumes on Dzogchen, as well as his volume on Mahamudra. Soon he will come out with more volumes in his series on the Buddhist path, a series that is already on Volume Five– imagine, five volumes and two more coming before he and nun Thubten Chodron explore the Vajrayana!

    I have also read Patrul Rinpoche’s Words of My Perfect Teacher, as well as the commentary on that.

    And I have read DJK’s Facebook response to the letter written by ex-Rigpa students. in which he claims they are destined to hell. Take it or leave it, he says, there’s no compromising in the Vajrayana. In the present context, I find that view harsh because of the vast numbers of students who are struggling right now, who need a path forward..

    I have also read some of his unpleasant Facebook posts, where he seems to believe that if he shakes students up by shocking their moral decency that this is a good practice of “Vajrayana.” I have no desire to read his explanations on why he believes this is a Buddhist approach. I have heard some of his students try to explain it to me and it’s like walking through a crazy maze.

    Sometimes I feel that Vajrayana in Dzogchen is used to bi-pass conventional reality. Rarely do I hear of Patrul Rinpoche’s practice of renunciation and bodhicitta, rarely of the six perfections and the importance of ethical discipline etc.

    And I never spoke of DJK walking past a rape– the picture he’s given us is of a student with so-called “pure perception” walking past a rape.

    If you believe there is no crisis within the Vajrayana, you are not looking. You are not seeing the hundreds of advanced Vajrayana students who are turning their backs on the practice because they cannot condone harm done to others. That’s not a choice they should be required to make.

    I study from the Dalai Lama because I feel he’s one of the few teachers acknowledging that there’s a problem. Look at the quote from him in my article– he feels there is a risk to the future of the Dharma.

    And here is another favorite quote from him: “It is not healthy, of course, for disciples to deny serious ethical flaws in their guru, if they are in fact true, or his or her involvement in Buddhist power-politics, if this is the case. To do so would be a total loss of discriminating awareness.” (The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra; p.210)

    This is not only about our compassion and moral decency, but also about our discriminating awareness. Pretending harm is not harm is a little like zoning out, like cultivating ignorance. There are two truths, not one.

  20. And here’s the thing, Louise. If DJK, along with the other lamas who had long associations with Rigpa, had simply stepped forward and provided students with a tolerable way forward after the disclosures of Sogyal’s abuses, many would not have turned away from the Buddhist path.

    In the beginning, I saw many Rigpa students looking for that tolerable way forward. And “tolerable’ meant simply recognizing harm as harm, Vajrayana or not. And tolerable meant never having to witness with indifference harm being done to another. Just those two simple reassurances.

    Not only were these not provided, but teachers like DJK told students there was no way out but to view it purely and say nothing.

    In that context, DJK’s recent comments about a student observing a rape with “pure perception” are simply not acceptable. And in this context, your statement that the Vajrayana is not in crisis seems heartless– it means, “I am happy with my practice so everything’s fine”?

    1. Dear Joanne,

      I’ve been writing to you for hours, and just read your latests missive.

      So once again I’ll answer in the moment.

      Firstly I do understand everything that you are saying, but I see how you still misconstrue the intentions and the actions of DJKR;
      and also of the Vajrayana as I have understood it.

      Secondly I want to thank you for making me think all this out by writing, it’s been a form of practice and I gladly dedicate any merit straight to you.

      Writing gets so long winded though, anyway.

      Please consider this:

      – your saying ‘DJKR’s long association with Rigpa’, personally i couldn’t imagine two more different Lamas.

      If you intend even a tiny drop to imply they were in cahoots in any way, if you think their minds, temperaments, or anything about them was in some kind of telling association, I most firmly disagree.

      If it’s because Sogyal invited DJKR to teach once or twice as he did most of the Buddhist world, including my irréprochable teacher Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, then your wording that ‘DJKR had a long association’ with Rigpa unduly flirts with intrigue.

      If you mean DJKR should have policed Sogyal during this long association, then you are going against the grain of the world. No one goes around assuming someone is guilty.

      Furthermore, if DJKR appears to be controversial while teaching; while not teaching he is in constant retreat and so there’s no reason why he would have been connected to Sogyal or Rigpa.

      You don’t know DJKR at all.

      – as for DJKR ‘stepping forward and providing students with a tolerable way forward’; if you are a Vajrayana student who encounters an obstacle like the Sogyal Affair, the most helpful and supportive way forward would be a clarification of the Vajrayana.

      You could tolerate this precious clarification, even if it helps you to know you are not a Vajrayana student.

      If you are not a Vajrayana student, and what you need is a pat, sound bite and a candle vigil, then you should not be irritated by DJKR, since DJKR is admittedly a vajra master, he is admittedly not a pat, sound bite and vigil teacher.

      You could at least give him that, which he expressed with sincerity;
      and for those students who really need a clarification, you could tolerate that DJKR wrote 19 pages for them.

      You could tolerate that keeping his place as a vajra master, not assuming the role of HHDL, or any other, DJKR answered the needs of vajra students.

      You say ‘tolerate’ means ‘not having to witness with indifference harm being done to others’.

      Who says DJKR is indifferent?
      DJKR says and I quoted ‘I care so much that I didn’t just want to pat, say a sound bite and do a candle vigil. I wanted to do more!’

      The indifference you see in DJKR must be your own projection. In truth it is unthinkable that DJKR be indifferent to a sentient being. It also goes against the counsel of lord Buddha who said buddha returns in all genuine teachers of Buddhadharma.

      If it were true that DJKR is indifferent to any sentient being, then Buddhadharma is a total sham and we are all insane.

      Even toying with the idea that DJKR is indifferent is toying with insanity. For the sake of all sentient beings, you should not witness yourself doing this with indifference. And all your friends here should rush over to change your mind.

      – if DJKR said ‘there is no way out but to view things purely’, it is because this way of seeing ‘everything purely’ is perfectly supported by the Buddhadharma, if you know how to listen or hear it.

      DJKR said if you adhere to the Vajrayana view, then you should view everything purely. But dear Joanne if you refuse clarification on the Vajrayana, how can you expect yourself to know what DJKR means?

      DJKR spoke within the understanding of the Vajrayana. It is a statement made for vajra students, and they fully understand it doesn’t imply you should walk by a rape scene indifferently.
      They fully understand it means that, as you stop the rapist and save their victim, you should keep in mind the whole scene like all of reality is primordially pure.

      Pure view is beyond ethics and morality, cause it’s beyond jugement. It’s beyond jugement cause purity is the essence of mind. Remember, Buddha said mind, no mind, mind is luminosity.

      So to view the rapist’s victim and the rapist also as primordially pure is the greatest compassion of all.

      How do you think a bodhisattva converts the thief and the killer? Seeing them with pure view, the thief and killer suddenly see themselves as (potentially) pure and they (begin to) change. That’s the healing power of pure view.

      Vajrayana as long as genuine practitioners engage with it, is not in crisis.

      Mainstream Vajrayana, such as one without pure view, is a crisis.

      But since there is no Vajrayana without pure view, I don’t worry.
      I worry about people who are negative from mistaken reasoning.

      Bye for now dear Joanne!

    2. Dear Joanne,

      let me remind you, Yeshe Tsogyal who as you know was the Tibetan consort of Guru Rinpoche and an awakened being, when she was gang raped by seven guys on a mountain road, by the power of her practice of pure view she liberated them right then and there.

      Just to show, for any serious or aspiring practitioner, even hearing about pure view is not at all irrelevant.

      With a modicum of faith and trust, pure view could transform a trauma into an empowerment, not a planned one obviously, but better than dwelling on being traumatised, for sure.

      Especially if you are attacked as a Buddhist practitioner, you should definitely bring that onto the path of self- liberation.

      That’s what a Buddhist practitioner does, they bring everything they experience, every moment of time ideally, onto the path.

      Whether it’s a guy in the street or your alleged guru who attacks you physically, the same practice applies. Because in Vajrayana the hierarchy of teacher and student switches sides without difficulty.

      When you get the practice perfectly, everyone is pure and everyone and everything teaches you; as there is no remarkable difference between Buddha and sentient being.

      If that shocks you to the point of intolerance, then you are not a vajra practitioner and not a Mahayana practitioner either.

      Bodhicitta being the realisation that emptiness and appearance are indivisible, as a Mahayana student you should practice applying the view of emptiness on all phenomena no matter what they are. This is also practicing pure view.

      It’s ok because, by the power of impermanence, mind changes all the time. So there’s always hope.

      All this I have been taught.

      1. Probably I should express myself more gently, this is surely true, since am not at all a teacher, am a rough theorist to a degree, but have had a real enough life to help me understand the theory.

        I also studied western philosophy which doesn’t help me sound nicer.

        I can imagine how my words will make no sense, it’s only due to my very poor delivery.

        Am very sorry.

          1. Ah dear William!

            You’re right, making sense is a social commitment. You make sense for others.

            It’s a struggle if others don’t want you to make sense, and you know this.

            But you also know you have to try, because you know you are right.

            You know it beyond words. Your being is dedicated to understanding the truth.

            I think that’s the Buddhist path William.
            At first Buddha stayed silent.

            He said no one will understand. But Indra and Brahma convinced him to teach.

            Their said some sentient beings might have a karmic connection to hear you.

            So he agreed. And i’m from Buddha’s family. Dear William. Is that ok with you?

          2. You’re very wise William,
            It is indeed beyond words.

            Please tell me what did you practice all these years?

            Am very impressed and would like to know what practice brought you wisdom.

              1. Hmm, very dear William,
                there are several ways to approach an understanding of vajra hell as being ‘reasoning and logic that keeps you from seeing the truth’;

                within a Buddhist understanding that virtuous thoughts and actions are those that get you closer to the truth of nonduality;

                (for strict Muslims a woman covering her hair is virtuous, but if it doesn’t bring her (or us) closer to nonduality, it’s pointless)

                Vajra means thunderbolt, we are talking about mind’s quality to change, to see in lightning flashes.

                Dear William, in your comment on my sarcasm, there is an emotional reasoning and logic that is keeping you from seeing that I genuinely mean to praise you,

                because I hear the alchemy of nonduality in what you say, possibly due to the power of our tendrel, and of our practice, and the blessing of our vajra Gurus;

                am genuinely fond of hearing you, am not at all burdened by sarcasm and all that.

                Since i have no intention to be sarcastic, if you think I am sarcastic, then you are caught in that reasoning and logic, and you think it’s the truth;

                thinking this is keeping you from realising that am not at all sarcastic.

                (Yes I believe thinking is indeed useless in shamatha practice, other than to get used to an awareness of pure impermanence.
                Hell is different, it’s a negative cycle that’s held there by reasoning and logic.
                And vajra hell is more acute as it is the reasoning and logic of destructive emotions.)

                It is your mindset that keeps us segregated by a set of assumptions and emotions, not mine as I am not being sarcastic.

                Why think I am sarcastic?
                Because of conditioning.
                Why is that conditioning a hell realm?
                Because it keeps you from seeing the truth, that I am not sarcastic.

                What is the basis of all conditioning?
                Ignorance, coemergent as we are born, and conceptual as we exist.

                Lord Buddha has made ignorance transcendable by turning the first Dharma wheel in Sarnath with the four noble truths, the first being the truth of impermanence, the second being the truth of suffering, and the third is the truth of no self.

                Since self constantly gets hurt and defends its ego, for Buddhists the reasoning and logic of self and ego is a hell.

                Hell because it is suffering, it is torment, and it perdues. Vajra hell because it is the opposite of the lightning flashes of mind seeing liberating truth.

                You might think you see flashes of truth by your reasoning and logic, but unless it brings you to liberation from self and ego, those flashes is just the lighting of hell;

                Sorry William am not saying you’re in vajra hell, it’s just an example. I think you are in the firm hold of your vajra master.

                There is boundless compassion in those two words Vajra Hell, cause vajra implies impermanence, meaning hell only exists temporarily and can change at a flash.

                We are talking about the mind.

                In the Second turning of the Dharma wheel, at vulture’s peak Buddha taught the Mahayana, the heart of transcendent wisdom, realising the truth of selflessness by realising the emptiness of whatever appears.
                Or if you prefer, realising the emptiness of whatever appears by realising the truth of no self.

                The essence and purpose of the path, Madhyamikavatara, bodhicitta, the six perfections you all fondly refer to, is to realise ultimate nonexistence of self and ultimate non existence of phenomena.
                There is no other virtue on the Mahayana path than those.

                Form is emptiness
                Emptiness is form
                Form is non other than emptiness
                Emptiness is non other than form

                All this I have learned.
                May truth correct the errors.

  21. Dear Joanne,

    Vajra hell is explained as: being caught up in reason and logic that keeps you out of realising the truth.

    The fact that you don’t know this definition, but think it’s some kind of Christian like place of torment, indicates that you should read DJKR more carefully and look to him with more tolerance.

    The truth of what is good or what is bad and the truth of who’s a good teacher or what is ok to say and what is not ok to say.
    All that, unless you are quoting The Teacher Student Relationship or some such text, is almost already part of the reasoning and logic that keeps you out of any kind of realisation.

    Bodhicitta for example, the indivisibility of appearance and emptiness, is not by any means easy to realise.

    Even if there is a mass of vajrayana type students, or a mass of self-professed bodhisattvas out there, am afraid very few have any kind of realisation. So if they have a strong view you can be pretty sure it’s just an opinion. The path is after all to cultivate the view of no view.

    Buddhadharma is difficult, not easy.
    It’s not really a matter of one’s beliefs because thoughts and emotions shift all the time; just last night in my sleep I vividly saw how all my thoughts come from desire aversion and indifference even though I’ve been striving in Buddhadharma for 13 years.

    So I don’t think we have the luxury to be that picky, and since DJKR wrote that clarification specifically for this time, then I think it is the reference of choice for the problematic you are focusing on, whether you like it or not. As a serious student you should try at least to engage with it and curb your distaste.

    If you keep finding excuses not to engage with a text made especially for your problematic, then you end up sounding emotionally challenged. And your speech is just blowing hot air around.
    As for feeling emotionally challenged, well, if you really want to practice vajrayana you’d better get used to that!

    It’s difficult, on this we do agree.

    1. Can you give some sources for this idea you are promoting:

      “Vajra hell is explained as: being caught up in reason and logic that keeps you out of realising the truth.”

      This sounds like the sort of thing I heard from some of my Zen compatriots years ago. Of course there is a place for reason and logic but it’s an impediment to attaining shamatha, a non-conceptual realization of emptiness, and/or primordial wisdom. But. I one with an understanding of the teachings would proclaim that reason and logic aren’t essential for making progress on the path. And aren’t essential for pushing back on some of the ideas you purport about Vajrayana.

            1. so what kind of source do you consider authentic?

              if not your own mind.

              Lord Buddha’s sutras?

              who else?

              Because I know you guys are particular, so you have to tell me who counts for you as a source.

              Am afraid we may not have many sources in common.

                1. Ah dear William! You do know the way to pacify a Buddhist heart.

                  However, I may pull the blanket from you on this one, I don’t know, I’ll see.

                  You may have to use your own noggin.

                  Maybe a big issue here is you didn’t really use it in the past, when it would have been best to do so.

                  Maybe you guys all met at the soup kitchen for the free food.

                  Maybe now you need to think it out.

                  Or stay stuck … you are your own master, you chose to contemplate or,
                  do other things not conducive to understanding the truth Buddha taught.

                  1. Some words that come to mind reading your reply: imperious, condescending, patronizing, smug, and arrogant. Sort of the way DKR acts. You must be that special twinkle in your teacher’s eye?

                    1. I just see now, William, that you asked Louise for her / his source (I did the same earlier today).

                      I am amazed to see how incapable Louise is to provide the source for his / her definition. Though I would’t expect s/he has any valid source for it (from Kangyur or Tengyur).

                      Or to quote Louise “speech … just blowing hot air around.”

            2. but I have to add, dear William my grumpy fellow human being, waiting for dictionary sources to authenticate a most liberating view, a really usable and intelligent understanding of cyclical mental torments, a very modern understanding of mind, free of Judaeo-Christian and superstitious guilt and fear based heaviness, is… just another sign that you don’t want to put one foot forward out of your comfort zone. Negative though it is.
              You laugh that I studied philosophy and literature for years, but I learned a lot about language from my western post modern teachers. Some thoughts aren’t dictionary sources, some ideas like this one is something like a treasure teaching. Either you get it, or you refuse to get it, or you don’t get it. Go ahead William, and believe the hells of real hot and cold; that means you’ll know what its like to endure life as a toad.
              If you think about it though, vajra hell is exactly as I described.
              If you knew just how truly kind DJKR was telling you stuff like this… really liberating stuff, knowing full well you’ll turn him down.
              It’s almost unheard of to be a vajra master with this kind of gentleness, toward people who are so hard cored.
              You haven’t the slightest idea how kind.
              The only reason am here is cause I know a bit just how kind.

            3. And precisely you guys were all appalled that DJKR seemed to mention a vajra hell, then DJKR explained exactly what that means, it is the effect caused by your own mind perpetuating reasoning and logic that locks you from seeing the truth, and this blockage you can changed with your very own mind and the intention to change, but now that’s not good enough!?
              So you’ll keep burping sulphur till you are mere bones trembling in skin sacks? Is that the grand plan?
              What is the plan?

              1. I think am the only one here who is not part of your club, and who still bothers to read you. Because you are so misinformed and uneducated about all of Buddhism.
                And so darn happy being negative.

                How will you survive on this overblown generalising fake view no one intelligent or sensitive would ever adhere to? least of all your children! cause it rides on the back of alleged victims and refuses any kind of healing.

                They will learn more than you with their own lovely minds, it’s inevitable. Whatever horrendous brouhaha you are creating, when they see through it and they will, the further they will naturally flee.

    2. Sorry Louise, but I prefer the slow-and-steady path. I’ve seen far too many people topple off this cliff that you call “Vajrayana”, a cliff I pretty nearly fell off myself. So I will keep to my small Vajrayana commitment, put effort into better understanding the foundational teachings, work at rational discernment, ethical values and a bodhicitta that is clearly defined in both conventional and ultimate ways by authors such as Shantideva and Nagarjuna. I will even dare your “hells” of reason and logic!

      After a while, all this becomes wearisome for those of us who want the abuses to end. Some time ago, my daughter asked me for advice on a safe Dharma Centre in San Diego. And seriously, I couldn’t recommend one. I’m a Buddhist. People such as yourself are not taking this seriously. Very sad.

      1. Well said. As for myself, I’ve stopped looking for a teacher, quite content at this stage to go it alone. Too many disappointments and betrayals by teachers in the past.

      2. Dear Joanne,

        Your keeping to a slow path is perfectly fine with me, I have no argument with you personally.

        I have a problem with how you seem to go about doing (much more than) that, on this negatively minded defamatory intended website.

        As example to all this I note:

        Bodhicitta as defined, ultimately and relatively by Nagarjuna and Shantideva and others, is unremovably anchored in the Mahayana teaching of Lord Buddha, the heart sutra, the perfection of wisdom;

        it is the teaching on emptiness.

        Emptiness of self and emptiness of phenomena.
        The relative part being: self and phenomena appear!
        The ultimate part being that whilst self and phenomena appear: they are empty!

        The nonduality of appearance and emptiness is the very ground from where the bodhisattva path arises.

        Bodhicitta is the acceptance if not the realisation of the nondual essence of all reality.

        And that realisation is the source of loving compassion. There is no source of the true, unconditioned loving compassion other than this.

        Pointing out the mind is non other than pointing out the nondual essence of reality.

        If you read shantideva not as a moralistic exegesis on how to behave socially, based on people’s emotions and cultural expectations the way a non Buddhist or a materialist would approach it, but on the contrary as it is written:

        it is putting into practice the wisdoms of going about in the bewildered world of selfs, emotions, and all sorts of phenomena, whilst applying Buddha’s teaching that form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form is non other than emptiness, emptiness is non other than form.

        That is the structure and meaning and whole point of shantideva’s way of the bodhisattva.

        It is not, never has been and never will be a moralistic tale.

        Yes please put this reasoning to good use as you reread Shantideva’s precious text on how to be a Buddhist in the world. I beg you in fact, without sarcasm, with sincerest virtuous wishes.

        I cannot imagine how your sense of abuse will otherwise end.

        It is just the perpetuation of mistaken computing, that is held and expressed by you as (your) ‘wrong views’.

        And this activity of yours creates harm dear Joanne in the following ways:
        by promoting wrong views as if they are good views for others to embrace,
        by using wrong views against others who mean to be virtuous,
        and by giving fame to yourself by way of others’ suffering.
        Not to mention how you make nonsense of precious Buddhism.

        Am very sorry to be blunt Joanne, but all this is so evidently obvious that no one but me bothers to contradict you.

        As for your daughter being attracted to Buddhism, am very happy to hear it and pray she finds her place. There are plenty of marvellous woman teachers on line.

        You can look at the western Mahayana teacher Elizabeth Matis Namgyel about to do a zoom retreat Opening the Heart Sutra, the Art of Contemplation.

        Or the classic, methodically clear very learned in all matters of foundational teachings, young tibetan lady Jetsunma Jamyang Palmo.

    3. Dear Louise, you write
      “Vajra hell is explained as: being caught up in reason and logic that keeps you out of realising the truth.”

      In what tantric text or tantric commentary do you find this? What is the source of your claim? What is the source of your definition?

      The Buddha himself and all texts suggest using reasoning as long as you can not perceive things directly. So, don’t put down good reasoning because everyone starts from confusion and not from a non-dualistic realisation. It are the cultists who kick out reasoning. Masters have always used good reasons – including the Buddha. Good reasoning puts your mind into a good direction and protects you from wrong or erroneous paths. Maybe you read something about the qualities of a proper vessel of the Mahayana dharma, one is good discriminating awareness that is able to discriminate wrong from correct teachings.

      I wonder also how you can urge “pure view” and at the same time spread “impure views” such as “a mass of self-professed bodhisattvas out there, am afraid very few have any kind of realisation.”

      This seems to be no contradiction for you.
      Now, your own argument falls back on you, to quote you:
      “So if [you] have a strong view you can be pretty sure it’s just an opinion. The path is after all to cultivate the view of no view.”

      Yes, “Buddhadharma is difficult, not easy.” – and btw, this is a view and according to you this is “just an opinion. The path is after all to cultivate the view of no view.”

      With that, actually, because you only express strong opinions, indicating a lack of “realisations” we can safely ignore what you say. Btw, isn’t DKR a master of strong opinions and expressing strong views? Using your argument it follows, he has no realisations and has not realised the “non view”. What about his “pure view” of westerners, why can’t he see the enlightened beings there but only deluded beings?

      So, according to your arguments, what you or DKR says is just empty bla bla, expressing strong views, failing to have “no view” – not abiding in non-duality. So much duality about the own supposed superior views and the bad views of others. Phew!

      If what DJKR wrote is a “clarification specifically for this time”, “the reference of choice for the problematic” etc, isn’t this just a strong opinion indicating your lack of realisations, and shouldn’t we first check if his arguments make sense, are reasonable or do you think what he writes has to be accepted as it is without any scrutiny? Actually, aren’t you calling all of the time for blind faith and blind devotion, skipping good reasoning and scrutiny?

      To sum it, “whether you like it or not”, “as a serious student you should try at least to engage with [good arguments] and curb your distaste.”

      “If you keep finding excuses not to engage with a text made especially for [the problems of abuse and nihilism], then you end up sounding emotionally challenged. And your speech is just blowing hot air around.“

      Further, “as for feeling emotionally challenged, well, if you really want to practice vajrayana you’d better get used to [being challenged in your self-assertiveness and intellectually poor thinking].”

      “It’s difficult, on this we do agree.”

      1. Yikes!
        guys and gals, listen up,

        All the things I wrote here are for buddhist students and admirers of Lord Buddha. I wrote for my friends.

        In my sangha if we happen to be unkind to each other, we feel instant shame, kindness is of the essence!

        Because you use words like Vajrayana and Buddhism I assumed we all care about those, so I freely contested your reasoning and logic.

        Am most definitely not the revered Dzongsar Khyentse.

        Here, the habit is talking negatively about topics you are not interested to learn and believing it amounts to being good.

        Nonetheless by the blessing of my guru’s pure view, you brought me a lot.
        May this cause an accumulation of merit and wisdom all around.

        May all devotion to Buddhadharma never wane!

    1. If this were DKR himself it would be a shame IMO. For me the contents of the comments by Louise rather suggest an immature yet enthusiastic-naive “beginner’s mind” that lacks nuanced and differentiated thinking but thinks at the same time it understood everything so well while the others got it all wrong. It’s a beginner’s naive enthusiasm where the guru and you yourself (or all who follow the guru’s views) are so right and all others are totally wrong and don’t get it.

      1. I think despite all DKR’s learning in Buddhism, he is very immature, psychologically speaking. He reminds me of the year 8 boys I taught in highschool (14 yr olds). His mind works the same way. The Tulku system is probably to blame. He also shows signs (as does this Louise person) of personality disorder.

        1. When I wrote the comment, Tahlia, I had in mind that some might think this is a due description of DRK’s style / behaviour too. I leave that question open for the time being. Why I wrote the comment was rather, my understanding or assumption is that he is too busy to show up in a thread like this and if he would indeed show up he would at least try to have a bit more sophisticated arguments than Louise. In general he likes to provoke but does not respond to counter criticism or counter arguments on his FB posts – he does not engage with any commentator. Is that observation of me correct? If yes, why should DKR show up here. This doesn’t make any sense to me. I would also expect his “position” or self-view would find himself to high to go to a critical article to comment under a pseudonym. Rather I assume Louise is much influenced by his views, holds him in high regards and copy and pastes his views devotionally.

  22. Haha! Dear Oane of the foreboding tone,

    What’s wrong with being married?

    It’s so great that you tweeted all those important quotes.

    Thank you!

  23. Wow. This goes on an on. But we have exposed the core issue here. Dogma from a fuedal religion being used to excuse rape and other harm and even approve it when it’s perpetrated by a guru. Regardless of whether or not the perpetrator is a guru and the victim a student, harm is harm. Rape and other forms of abuse are wrong, always. They are unethical behaviour and against the law – natural law as well as man’s law. To say that there is some other law, a vajrayana law that accepts abuse as appropriate behaviour from a guru to a ‘properly prepared’ student does not change the fact that harm is harm. And belief in such a law, is just that, a belief, and a harmful, limiting belief at that. It is not truth. Truth is that harm is harm, even while being empty of the concept of harm. Having no concept of harm does not make it less harmful when perpetrated or experienced. And when you defend a belief that accepts abuse as appropriate behaviour from a guru to a vajrayana student, you prove you’re fully in the grip of cult dynamics, because that kind of belief appears in all destructive cults. It’s a known marker of a destructive cult.

    Abusive actions, such as rape, are motivated by lust and greed and a desire for power, and to say they are being done as a teaching and motivated by compassion does not make them any less harmful. The point that a bodhisattva cannot do harm is not that he can rape and it isn’t harm, but that a true bodhisattva could not even conceive of harming anyone. They simply would never do these terrible things that Sogyal and others have done.

    And saying that a practictioner will take it on the path does not give licence for rape or absolve the perpetrator of their guilt. How the victim handles it has nothing to do with the crime itself. A crime has still been committed.

    There can be no fuzzy line there. You cannot soften it with words, though vajrayana Buddhists try. You (meaning Tibetan Buddhists who defend guru abuse) use your dogma as if it is truth, but truth is what we perceive when all concepts and beliefs are stripped away. Truth can never been seen while holding tightly to a dogma or by evaluating it through concepts.

    In this instance, your misunderstanding of the concept of the unity of form and emptiness, and your lack of actual experience of the true nature of reality, leads you to nihilism, to believing that harm is not harm because it is ’empty’. But emptiness does not exist without form. Form does exist. Harm does exist. To say that harm has not occured when an injury has been caused is nilhism, no matter what the circumstances – vajrayana teachers and ‘fully prepared’ students included. If you do not understand this, if you fall into nihilism, you have not studied madhyamaka fully or not practiced sufficiently or well enough to genuinely experience the unity of shamatha and vipashyana, form and emptiness, nor seen the truth of dependent arising directly.

    A true understanding of the relationship between form and emptiness makes one far more careful not to do harm, it does not result in someone who harms while thinking they aren’t harming. And that is in your teachings, but you choose to ignore those parts. Instead you use your dogma to support abuse by gurus, and that is what is destroying Tibetan Buddhism. That is what is preventing it from being a respected religion, or even a safe one. Such beliefs are unhealthy; they are essentially victim blaming and guru elevation, which are basic cult tactics, and modern people, who know that clerical abuse is wrong, can see this.

    That is the main thing, that – regardless of it’s cultural significance – this idea that gurus can abuse their students with impunity is a hang over of a fuedal society, and it has no place in the modern world. If the gurus can’t step outside of their dogma and clear away what no longer serves to teach wisdom and compassion, the religion will die out, or become a mere curiosity, and rightly so. I hope the wisdom teachings don’t die with it. I hope they will be carried foward by those who have genuine understanding and have managed to step outside the dogma. The challenge if vajrayana is to survive is to separate the ‘beyond dogma’ teachings from the dogma. To perpetrate the truth stripped of the fuedal power structure, and bring it in line with the Buddha’s fundamental teaching to do not harm. How can one call themselves a Buddhist when they believe that harm is acceptable, or is not harm in certain circumstances?

    Tibetan Buddhists think that their religion is all truth, but it’s high time they looked at the lineage of abuse and asked themselves whether the teachings around the student-teachers relationship have not been distorted by abusive gurus in service of keeping the gurus on their thrones and the money, power and accolates coming in.

    All the lamas need to read the Dalai Lama’s latest books mentioned by Joanne, Dzongsar Khyentse in particular if he can climb down from his throne of arrogance and humble himself enough to do so. He has a lot of power in the religion, if he followed HHDL’s words on these matters, rather than think that lama abuse being acceptable in certain circumstances is somehow fundamental to vajrayana, he could be a force for necessary change in the Nyingma and be a genuinely ‘modern’ lama who could help move the religion forward instead of doing what he is presently doing, which is keeping it in the dark ages.

    What is vajrayana in essence? It is not kowtowing to a lama, holding onto dogma or considering the teacher-student relationship so special that abuse is not consided abuse. Vayrayana is uniting one’s mind with the true nature of reality through practices designed to help one experience the unity of form/shamatha and emptiness/vipashyana directly. The lama’s true nature (not his deluded nature) is merely a conduit, a method, to attain such experience. All this lama worship bullshit is simply not necessary. Respect, yes, but not subservience, not slavery. And the respect should go both ways.

    Let’s face it, respect for anyone who considers abuse acceptable, even if it’s only in one ‘special’ circumstance, is misplaced, unhealthy and dangerous. And having devotion for such a person, means you’re in a destructive cult.

    1. Please let me add,

      Joanne says “Let’s face it, respect for anyone who considers abuse acceptable, even if it’s only in one ‘special’ circumstance, is misplaced, unhealthy and dangerous. And having devotion for such a person, means you’re in a destructive cult.”

      As I consider the ticking clock, the things to do, and a long time spent in this small samsaric enclave, I think:

      who is showing more respect for abuse?

      Those here who establish Abuse with a big A and built a whole new world on its foundation, at the expenses of everything and everyone past present and future who are naturally helpful, kind, deeply concerned and interested in healing, in liberation, and bringing up the emotional scale to actually enjoy non-agression.

      I think Abuse is being abused of here, and used to further abuse without any awareness.

      I wish you best of luck.

      1. You are so utterly wrong about those here who have experienced, firsthand, abuse
        by their Vajrayana lama and had the courage to share their experiences with the rest of us. To accuse the victims of abuse of abuse is frankly obscene. If you count yourself among those you cite as “naturally helpful, kind, deeply concerned and interested in healing, liberation, and bringing up the emotional scale to actually enjoy non-aggression,” you should seriously stop and reflect on what you are saying because those descriptors don’t seem to apply to you.

        The bottomline, in case you missed it, is do no harm. Ahimsa. A vajra master (or any teacher in the Buddhist tradition for that matter ) does not have carte blanche to treat his disciples any way he wishes. It is a distortion of the vajrayana tradition to believe a teacher, under the aegis of “pure perception,” has the right (should he choose to exercise it) to abuse his students physically and/or sexually, but that is what some, like DKR, presumably believe.

        1. Who here is the first hand victim of vajrayana you are defending?

          Can they please speak up?

          Other than your own feelings, who here is a first hand victim?

          Am a student myself, where do you think I get my first hand knowledge?

          From a hammock swinging in the void?

          How does samsaric mind dwell if not as a manufacture of suffering?

          Who is being presumptuous?

          I may just not lock myself in your victim promoting view.

          I may empower myself from experience.

          Am not judging you, am seeing your logic and foreseeing it’s consequences.

          I wouldn’t be a victim for you even if you begged me to.

          1. That question is irrelevant. A diversion.
            We are all victims of abuse, of spiritual abuse, betrayal by our spiritual teacher and those who run his organisation. Betrayal in fact by a whole religion that refuses to deal with this issue.
            But we don’t think of ourselves as victims, but as survivors, and survivors who still care enough about the religion to keep poking in the hope that those in it’s thrall, teachers and students alike, might wake up to the cult dynamics woven into the very fabric of how Tibetan Buddhist communities are constructed around the lama. It takes a genuinely wise lama to step outside of those usual cult dynamics, and a truly humble one to seek out a psychologist to help them work through the issues they have surely developed from being brought up in the Tulku system.

            1. Thalia,

              your whole kaflufel is irrelevant to everything, I think you just enjoy being a king pin and making it all work for you, whatever all is at this point we wouldn’t know, if you didn’t abuse the name of the revered exceedingly kind and stainless DJKR to trumpet your band’s painful ignorance of Buddhadharma.

              I wish you that this change!

              Let me assure you, other than the natural grace of the pervasive moonlight of DJKR’s renown, you and your merry band dwell in perfect obscurity.

              I bow forever at DJKR’s awesome kindness and thank you Thalia and friends for proving my devotion to the Buddhadharma and the Vajra Master a trillion fold!

              Thank you for your fairness in letting me voice my feelings here. I do kind of hope these farewell words aren’t hurtful. To me they are true.

      2. Louise, if you’re going to quote me, please use my words. Otherwise, don’t use quotation marks!

        I have one last comment. DJK’s clarification of the Vajrayana stresses the importance of thoroughly vetting a teacher before committing to him/her. That is an essential, core part of his clarification. And I agree with that. So isn’t this the best way to thoroughly investigate a teacher? Aren’t these conversations necessary?

        If I had known that Sogyal Lakhar had settled out of court for a case of sexually assaulting a woman in 1993, then I would have never stepped into a teaching from him and the trajectory of my life would be quite different. How else are students to investigate a teacher without exposure and discussion?

        I think many students of teachers whose actions we question become stuck on this idea that we’re angry, disrespectful etc. etc. That simply undermines necessary work on difficult issues. And here, I will pass on to William’s good point below…..

  24. Dear Joanne,
    thank you for your clear thoughts, your fine analysis and for combining logic and compassion. I found only time now to read your article and I agree with your analysis. It’s well written, well thought out.
    Actual, it rightly reveals an elitist approach by DKR I was not aware of which reminds me of Ole Nydahl, who also puts people off by his radical (and often also hostile) stances but then defends his own elitism and limitations (or arrogance and sectarianism) by saying that Diamond Way (his organisation) will only accept those who can take that. He doesn’t care of the many people he put off from Buddhism or religion with his hostility, elitism, and fundamentalist attitudes just like DKR does not care. Actually, both Ole and Nydahl are united in their elitist Vajrayana attitude where only those who can accept their elitism and (narrow) views are considered to be the true practitioners and others just don’t get it. Quite cultic IMO. I didn’t see that, i see it more clearly now, only after having read your article. Thanks a lot for writing it.

  25. There is just so much emphasis on a few very sketchy historical characters with magical powers to excuse anything and everything. Once you accept those Tilopa, Milarepa or even Guru Rinpoche you are deep into something akin to a book by founder of Scientology. The magical things outweigh all the other relative correct perceptions that should be the foundation of wisdom. We are not meant to develop our intellect and perception into a prajna that brings deeper understanding – we are meant to dull it with fictions that can never be proven. If they did happen … or did not happen is unprovable so they are equivalent to fictions. We have to accept them because they are from the life story of a master … so random peoples life stories are a canon that usurps whatever religion you thought you were getting into.
    The emphasis and time put on this – or Sogyal Lakar and the dogs tooth story over and over and over and over – you have to get well away to undo the magical thinking it imparts before you start to realize you were entrapped in such fanciful beliefs.

  26. Sangye,
    what you have written here is the perfect example of the logic and reasoning that makes up the ordinary world, and makes the world ordinary.
    This poor materialistic world where everyone dies in the darkest, bleakest ignorance.

    You call your self Sangye, that means buddha, yet should you open any sutra, which clearly you never have (nor have you uttered a buddhist prayer,) every sutra is completely magical, positively stuffed with miracles and marvels, just listen :

    “Homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas!
    Thus did I hear at one time. The Bhagavān was dwelling on the Khalatika
    Mountain, in the abode of the Sage’s hermits, together with an incalculably
    large assembly of monks and of great śrāvakas. Great bodhisattva mahāsattvas in numbers as limitless as the sands of the River Ganges, forming an incalculably immense assembly of bodhisattvas, were also staying there. The moment the Bhagavān completed his prophecy on the splendid vows of the tathāgatas, the Indranīla jewel appeared in the west. Many hundreds of thousands of precious wish-fulfilling jewels spread out and surrounded it. The light of that precious jewel rendered invisible the totality of manifest form in the whole trichiliocosm. Thus, with the exception of the tathāgatas, all gods and humans, śrāvakas, and bodhisattvas, as well as the manifest forms of the great elements of earth, water, fire, and air—however many manifestations there were of the great elements—all without exception were obliterated, and only the precious jewel remained visible. Everything appeared to be limitless, boundless, and ineffable like space. The Bhagavān, too, became most radiant, clear, and brilliant.”

    Indeed, the sentient beings assembled there could not even see themselves, or each other. For them, all visible manifestations of the great elements also ceased and became imperceptible to the eye. They could not perceive their bodies, their features, or shape, nor did they have a sense of touch. Whatever they observed, howsoever they observed it, they saw as empty. They did not even see the orbs of the sun or the moon. The stars and the earth element, water element, fire element, and air element also became invisible to their eyes. Sounds did not resonate in their ears. Odors were not perceived by their noses. They did not take their minds and their mental events as “me,” or take them as “mine,” and the perceptions of the six cognitive bases did not arise. The great elements were also imperceptible.
    Instead, in whichever direction they looked, in all those directions they saw everything as the physical marks, colors, shapes, and bodies of the tathāgatas. Only the precious Indranīla encircled by wish-fulfilling jewels appeared from afar; apart from that, nothing at all was visible.”
    – from The Noble Mahayana sutras; The Akasagarbhe sutra p.1

    I just picked this one of the blue. Not one element of the three vehicles practiced today are not found in the sutras.

    Your reasoning and logic Sangye is yet another indication that, other than me, there are no buddhist present here. Just really boxed up samsaric beings. You’re all in the sutras too by the way. They are immensely entertaining, you should check them out.

    1. “there are no buddhist present here” – well, this indicates you as a type of religious fundamentalist. Your behaviour is just like that of a radical Islamist who proclaims to any person thinking differently than him, “you are not a Muslim”.

      BTW, Sangye’s comment is spot on. But your strong opinions, and strong views, and your impure views, your lack of realisations – to abide by your logic and terminology – hinder you to see that 😉

      Shouldn’t you see here only dakas and dakinis; Buddhas who are speaking to you? Why abiding in an “impure view”? Did you forget all of the time your “Vajrayana practice” while commenting here?

      You remind me of the NKT fundamentalists who are totally entrapped in the NKT indoctrination system, unable to think for themselves, yet, still totally sure how wrong the other, opposing, side is …

      Good luck.

    2. Louise, I am writing this as Buddhist to Buddhist. There is a story once I heard from the Dalai Lama. He was teaching in California many years ago and his driver, a Dzogchen practitioner, was from San Francisco. The Dalai Lama asked the driver about his experiences during the earthquake. The driver replied that it was a “great opportunity to practice Dzogchen.”

      The Dalai Lama then remarked that this appeared more like zoning out (or being “perplexed”) than practicing Dzogchen. And this is the problem I see with your vision of Buddhist practice. You disparage what you call “morality” and the “hell” of reasoning and logic, disparage our Judeo-Christian legacy, and discount any claims of suffering from abuses within Dharma centres. In fact, you have confirmed every claim I’ve made in my article. Your views are a form of nihilism.

      You speak of bodhicitta as a sort of magical phenomena of dependent arising, divorced from the actual messy sentient beings who are its object. In fact, bodhisattvas commit to remain IN samsara in order to benefit sentient beings. That involves engagement with the messy conventional world and the messy minds of sentient beings. It involves engagement with the earthquake and the abused student and the Christian and the Muslim, on their own terms. In the lam rim, there are three types of individuals on the path. A bodhisattva engages with each of those.

      Yes, sometimes it is necessary for bodhisattvas to retreat and practice in caves. Sometimes that might be the best approach to help sentient beings. However, for those of us who don’t have the luxury to retreat, who are involved in the world, then there is a responsibility to be engaged. Bodhisattvas manifest in many ways– not to zone out during the earthquake!

      You speak of Shantideva in strange ways, saying we shouldn’t read him as instructions on “morality.” What on earth is that supposed to mean? How else can one read Shantideva but as a moral guide???? Also, perhaps you could re-read Chapter Nine and see if you can understand it without employing extensive reasoning and logic!

      I find the confusion in your comments disturbing and they are exactly why I have responded as I have to DJK’s latest comment about students “purely viewing” their teacher raping another student. You see, we did that in Rigpa, we watched while Sogyal publicly disparaged and viciously maligned other students– and we are ashamed now that we did nothing, we didn’t protest. In fact, my daughter, 16 years old at the time, complained to me about Sogyal’s behavior and I justified it, to my deep shame.

      So no, I am not going to passively shrug while you malign the Buddha’s teachings as you are doing. I find it wrong wrong wrong.

    3. Ok Louise – i never apparently uttered anything in my 14 years as a Buddhist monk like that nor do I have a clue. Also there was 10 years before being a monk as a Buddhist in another tradition. I’m awake now, maybe that’s why someone gave me that name back then.

  27. Louise, the writers here have done a superb job of vanquishing your arguments and exposing the cult dynamics in which your beliefs are embedded but I’m motivated to chip in based on the horrid slurs you directed to Sangye and I quote: “You call your self Sangye, that means buddha, yet should you open any sutra, which clearly you never have (nor have you uttered a buddhist prayer,) ….”.

    You know nothing of anyone here and the path they’ve trod with various Lamas, yet you guilefully proclaim yourself to be the only Buddhist in the room and defame the spiritual practice and the sincerity of those who dare to challenge the harmful status quo. It’s starting to remind me of Trump, yes, a very stable genius indeed.

    Tenzin has exposed how these personal putdowns amount to religious fundamentalism. In any case, don’t we all possess Buddha Nature? Not on Planet Louise it seems.

    In response to the well-thought out and heartfelt viewpoints expressed here, you quote great slabs of scripture but that’s the refuge of the academic, not of a seasoned practitioner.

    Alternatively, you subscribe to the magical thinking that excuses the abuse suffered by some Tibetan Buddhist students.

    Resorting to highly personal, unfounded character slurs when your arguments are deconstructed instead of sticking to the issues only weakens your position and doesn’t indicate a depth of practice. That’s why I had blocked you on Facebook – at first you seem eager to debate the merits of your guru’s controversial views but debate soon turns into ad hominem attacks.

    As I don’t wish to engage in a ‘to and fro’ with you the only other point I wish to make is that I would strongly recommend you to watch the video presentations of the two Chinese/Taiwanese victim-survivors before you continue on your crusade. What have you got to lose?

    1. I didn’t mean to threaten anyone’s beliefs with my perspective … i did say “can’t be proven or disproven” … we all make choices. That’s why i decided to quiet down for most of this year … because I don’t like upsetting people and I hit sensitive points trying to logic it out with various friends who perhaps aren’t so interested in talking to me after that. Truth is important – personally I have read Thich Nhat Hahn complaining to his masters about Sutra’s full of illustrative magical things that have never been seen on this world. I worry when I see groups focus on such sutra and abandon the rest – that to me is a lack of equanimity towards the dharma to favour that which makes one perspective easy and disparages those lesser vehicle followers. If I was actively Buddhist I’d say I’m definitely from the Basic Vehicle.

      1. Spot on Joanne and Matilda.
        If only Louise could actually read what you and others here say with an open mind. If only she could step off her high horse with humility and genuinely seek the truth. If only she had the respect to realise that she is talking here to people with decades of study and practice behind them. Instead she displays the ignorance of closed mindedness, the inability to see the truth, which is the basic issue at the core of Buddhism, the cause of all our suffering.

        Ignorance is not just ignorance of our true nature, it is being unable to see what is true, what is before one (like the earthquake and the abuse) without the overlay of concepts (conceptual obscurations). From ignorance comes attachment and aversion, and she also shows these in her defensiveness and in her negative reactions to the people commenting here. For those of us who have stepped outside the cult dynamics that once held many of us in a similar mindset, this is clear to see.

        I find it such a shame when the teachings of the Buddha (which were designed to help people see truth, see reality as it is), doing exactly the opposite – shutting people down, not waking them up – by them retreating behind the walls of belief and concepts. Teachings are supposed to be signposts to help us realise the true nature of everything; they are not supposed to be something we cling to as if the words and dogma were the truth themselves. And the words and concepts are supposed to be examined, not followed slavishly, and finally, they must be given up. Left behind. Transcended.

        One can never see truth/reality directly so long as one is looking at the world through the veil of concepts and beliefs. And it is only through genuine practice that one can learn to genuinely drop them, to see them for what they are – mere concepts. Strangely enough, I learned that during my 20 years in Rigpa. It seems, however, that many did not. Unfortunately, though he faithfully delivered the teachings, Sogyal emphasised obedience and devotion above study and practice. And when he practiced, it appeared that it was merely a bunch of words he raced through. If that is how one practices, it’s no wonder that one misses the point.

        And yet, we can all have moments when our obscurations drop away (tuning in, not zoning out). When our hearts and minds open, free of any belief. I hope Louise will experience such moments and recognise them for what they are.

      2. Well said, Sangye. This conversation here is the second I’ve had recently with Dzogchen practitioners who have such a narrow, nihilistic view on the sutras. It’s a very scary view in my opinion. A few days ago, I had a bit of an (unrealistic but real) panic attack that maybe these people were right in their interpretation of the Dharma, maybe I was wrong and emptiness and pure perception did entail viewing a rape “purely” and doing nothing to intervene. I panicked because I would have to leave the religion if that were the case.

        Then, I read a passage in Tsongkhapa’s “Ocean of Reasoning”, a commentary on Chandrakirti, in which he warns strongly against the extremes of nihilism and materialism, against denying cause and effect and being attached to nihilistic views. I was much reassured, came to my senses, and saw something of the Nyingma-Gelug historic debate in new ways.

        Tsongkhapa spent much of his life clarifying for himself and for others the madyamaka views and this to me is an example of why I continue to admire the Tibetan-Indian Buddhist tradition, because of all those like Tsongkhapa who thrashed out the sutras and commentaries of others in order to better establish a workable truth.

        And along those lines, the Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron have recently published their fifth volume on the Buddhist path and they haven’t even reached volumes on the madyamaka yet, let alone the Vajrayana. And they make a particular effort to incorporate practices/philosophie from the Pali traditions (e.g. Theravada)– I agree with you, there is much to learn from those traditions.

        So when Vajrayana practitioners claim that everything magically happens–karma purified, bodhicitta realized– if you simply view beyond concepts non-existence, when they claim that reasoning and logic are a form of hell realm– then it’s not a little scary because they don’t have that foundation laid down long ago by the Indian philosophers and practitioners and that’s when cults and atrocities are possible.

        1. And Tsongkapa’s efforts were, I believe, largely an effort to correct the misinterpreations he saw being fostered in the Nyingma. And here we are today.

          1. Yes, Tsongkhapa said some very good pithy clarifying advice in his Lam Rim that we shouldn’t use emptiness analytical analysis to destroy everything. We should use it to destroy harmful things – its just a tool. We shouldn’t destroy the love for our parents – there are Sutra’s (seem to be anyway) emphasising that. We shouldn’t thus destroy ethics … using emptiness. As they advised in Vajrayana that things don’t over-ride they fit together in a very difficult to ascertain way. So difficult it obviously escapes a lot of teachers so they take the easy way out and just say its beyond us when its clearly beyond them to communicate whatever their point is.
            Don’t destroy that which helps you using emptiness. I certainly can destroy using emptiness what I see to be false dharma, false teachings and wrong views that justify a double standard and vague you out if you want to know why some lama justified their behavior as compassionate and yet it wasn’t rare it was an MO of a criminal to find beautiful people and subjugate them into sexual slavery. Now I can relate to why some of the proponents of the Gelug went around smashing images of Nyingma deities – they were obviously combating what we have encountered and finding it to be a pervasive and harmful threat.
            Such ultra-misunderstood behavior would need to be secret wouldn’t it- but the secret is out and there is no explaining it away. Making people lose faith in the dharma is not a mistake of a student – it is the mistake of the teacher. Blanket enforcing a Vajrayana standard to get as much power and control over students because you simply can’t be bothered with the burden of knowing the rest of the dharma and adhering to it. Using endless long life and purification practices to wash away the endless suffering you are perpetuating. If this sounds a bit prosaic you can read so many students or masters writing about these lamas all through history as “posers” and running away.
            In my life – I ran away – perhaps inspired by Mingyur Rinpoche (who is a vajrayana master and has clarified it thank you very much, abuse is not a training tool were his words … voila. My teacher, my preceptor into mahayana vows and varjayana and more qualified than my teacher – tutoring my teacher so obviously his teacher. So any bogus “i know better by some cultist victim” I read above is a bit hard to swallow. I listened to such people for years before I validated my own logic to move on. In fact to move on and meditate on it for years is what I did – that’s surely an admirable thing. Then we all kind of meditated on it together for a while. Joanne – thank you for being ethical and caring. Tahlia – I’m so impressed with your great strides in communicating things with greater confidence and clarity. I think that some of this will penetrate the thick filters of ignorance and sit waiting for observed reality to make a resonance with healthy doubt. Doubt is not the enemy – doubtlessness is just a blind faith quality that cult operators cajole their students into over time after disarming them with many methods.
            Unless you are able to see the thoughts of another you can’t really be accusing them of being wrong or having bad motivation – so it says often in these root texts and commentaries but you really don’t see a lot of that deference to others here. What I’ve learned has humbled me but its really the wisdom result – that was my realization while “away” to find the beauty of seeing the truth and it was the ugly truth. Ugly/Beautiful … just words … it was the truth. I see it as both horrible in the extreme and yet I am not lured by those things now is that a kind of renunciation? The most important foundation to build upon is certainly that.
            I’m not a teacher of dharma – but its merely a collection of many teachings that we have to all decide make sense – that is after all the way these teachers have presented it. When you can explain yourself and make people debate you until they accept your logic then you can help them. If you are illogical and merely use fallacy to claim you are the rightful holder of views of your teacher – well thats going to embarrass them. They have said it enough times that someone shouldn’t be calling themselves a buddhist and debating it … so its really a joke that you think you know DJK. These are his own words.
            I was able to debate and defeat many of these lamas – I know how it went down and how they ran away from the face of truth so fast.
            The only one I never really did it with was Ringu Tulku but he accused us all of lying without really knowing the heart of it so that was a shame. I suspect he has always known Sogyal to be a charlatan and so he feels that you have to just let those types popularize Buddhism and its “good work” – sure makes it easier to travel and get money.

          1. Actually, Tahlia, I don’t think Tsongkhapa had much to do with Nyingpma/Dzogchen in his lifetime. Not clear what his attitude towards Dzogchen might have been. However, he did have an historic “debate” with the Sakya scholar Gorampa over the status of the conventional truth– which is relevant here. And his views on the madyamaka certainly seem to challenge some of the Dzogchen views I have heard.

            On the other hand, this discussion here is really about the Vajrayana. There seems to be a big leap from Madyamaka understanding to the magical-style thinking some employ in the Vajrayana (as Sangye has written). And it is here that Tsongkhapa had something to say, particularly in regards to ethics:

            “To think, ‘To take the bodhisattva vow and put its training into practice is to participate in the vehicle of the perfections, but it is not necessary in order to undertake the tantra, which is not a path common to all bodhisattvas’, is a serious misconception…’

            ‘In other words, when taking the vajrayana vow, it is necessary to generate the thought [of awakening], then to train yourself to train in the three aspects of ethics, and only thereafter to take the [tantric]vow of the five families.” (from The Basic Path to Awakening, Tsongkhapa’s commentary on Asanga’s Chapter on Ethics in the Bodhisattva Bhumi)

            When I took the bodhisattva vow in the Kagyu tradition, there was no mention of the ethics involved in my commitment, which are actually quite extensive as explained in the Bodhisattva Bhumi by Asanga.

            That combined with an approach to the madyamaka grounded in dependent origination, such as that extensively explored by such scholars as Tsongkhapa, could go a long way towards making a more safe and wise foundation to the Vajrayana in the West, in my opinion.

            The passage that gave me relief from my panic was only a brief reminder, not an explanation of avoiding the extreme of nihilism, which entails studying the entire (often challenging) text.

            1. Perhaps it wasn’t his reaction to dzogchen so much as to the lack of ethics he saw in some practicing vajrayana.

              Anyway, I totally agree with this statement of yours:
              ‘That combined with an approach to the madyamaka grounded in dependent origination, such as that extensively explored by such scholars as Tsongkhapa, could go a long way towards making a more safe and wise foundation to the Vajrayana in the West.’

              I haven’t manaed to find a simple and short explanation of madyamaka grounded in dependent origination (I tried to find one for Fallout). I hope HHDL can manage something in this series he’s writing that is easier to diseminate to the average person than doing the extensive study otherwise required to gain a clear understanding, because it is obvious to me that this understanding is what is lacking. And most people either don’t have the time, don’t have the direction of a suitable teacher, or don’t have the capacity to understand the subtle points anyway to get this kind of understanding. That level of education was certainly lacking in the Rigpa education. I had to study myself to come to understand it, and I can see how people can so easily fall into nihilsim. I remember the moment it all clicked into place, but I don’t remember what I was studying at the time.

              1. Tahlia, if the rest of the series is any indication, you can be sure that the explanation of madyamaka in the Dalai Lama’s and Thubten Chodron’s volumes will not be brief. Impossible in a few words to avoid misunderstandings I believe.

                And that pretty much sums up the trouble in my opinion. Lamas gain money and power by offering this “get-out-of-jail-free” card to students in the form of a brief, shallow understanding and foundation for Varjrayana practice, skipping to very advanced practices before students have a thorough understand of the basics.

                Add to that the abuses occurring in too many Dharma Centers and there is real confusion, as students try to wrestle with serious problems, but are unable to engage properly with the external world.

                What I have seen from Louise here (and from someone else recently) is this magical formula where difficult and messy appearances/realities are “zapped” with emptiness– or pure perception– or both– and this is seen as a complete practice and as a form of bodhicitta, seen to be a means to generate love etc. and purify karma and reach realizations.

                The problem is that this view is very simplistic and shallow but also grounded in a valid practice. When a student is at a VERY advanced level of practice, highest Vajrayana practitioners with a strong foundation in the fundamental teachings and a strong ethical basis can accomplish both the method and wisdom sides of the path in union, through nature of mind (Dzogchen)/clear light (highest yoga tantra).

                But what we are seeing instead is a lot of confusion. I mean, today, I thought– are we REALLY having a discussion here with someone about viewing a rape purely such that we would not intervene??? And are we really being accused of not being Buddhist because we object to such practices?


                1. Yes. All true. And yes, yikes indeed. This discussion really does show what a terrible state vajrayana Buddhism is in.

                  I know such a examination of Madkyamika cannot be brief for the reasons you say, but perhaps it will be something accessible for modern readers, more than the ancient texts.

                  And then we have tohope that Nyingma devotees won’t simply say, ‘Oh that’s not Nyingma. We don’t agree.’

            2. Yes, I can’t say with any authority what connections Tsongkhapa had with Dzogchen although, we do know he studied with teachers from all the traditions at that time. As Alex Berzin states, he had both the distant and near lineages of Mahamudra. The distant lineage come down from the Buddha through the line of Kagyu lamas, whereas the near lineage comes from a vision of Manjusri that Tsongkhapa had.

              Anyway , Berzin does a good job with this piece elucidating the Gelug-Kagyu connection/tradition.


              1. Yes William, and in Thubten Jingpa’s biography of Tsongkhapa he says pretty much the same. Though Tsongkhapa certainly had connections with Nyingma lamas, it was not clear what his attitude towards Dzogchen practice was.

                On the other hand, as you say, he had connections with Mahamudra. The fourth Karmapa gave him lay vows at a young age etc. The Dalai Lama also has a text on the “Gelug-Kagyu” practice of Mahamudra.

  28. Dzongsar Khyentse…I used to like this guy. I still do in some ways. But I don’t appreciate his go-to tactic of the denigration of western culture and values. Now all I find with him and people like him is pure disappointment. Welcome to the western world, rinpoche! Truth and accountability matters here; you can’t get away with the same crap that you and people like you are so used to getting away with (in the name of “sacred outlook”) for the past 1,000 years. Things need to change indeed, but attacking the hard-earned checks and balances we’ve developed in the west is definitely not the right way forward.

  29. My husband has been following DKR’s program for about a year and a half. He’s new at Buddhism but studying intensely. 2.5 hours in the morning and all weekend. It has destroyed our family and our marriage . My husband has withdrawn from family, our children and friends. This is the first criticism /questioning those practices I have found online and this article is affirming that something is not right. I appreciate everyone’s comments. And it’s a lot to read honestly. The fact that my husband is one and a half years in and it’s a 5 year program he is going at tenaciously is very concerning. It’s scary. So scary. Feeling devastated. It really feels like he has joined a cult.

    1. I feel for you. My husband watched me do the same kind of intense study, but I never did withdraw from my family. I always put them first. The important thing was that we commnicated. He shared his concerns, listened to my point of view, and never tried to stop me following my passion for learning about Buddhism. Eventually I left the group, but others who got more involved had family issues. To avoid this, I suggest that you ask him what he’s learning. The content is probably really interesting (Buddhism has a lot to teach us about our mind) and so long as it’s not the vajrayana aspect of TB, it’s not harmful. What is harmful are the teachings on devotion and the community of people so caught in devotion that they don’t think straight anymore.

      Anyway, you could research advice for communicating well, and use the advice you find to help you share your concerns with him in a nonthreatening way. It’s things like not accusing the other person but using ‘I feel’ and ‘I need’ statements. For excample, rather than accusing him of abandoning your family, say something like, “I feel that you are abandoning our family,” or “I feel like you don’t care about us anymore,” and “I need you to be here for us,” or “I need to be reassured that you will always put your family first.” That kind of thing. And you could say something like, “I feel scared that you’ve got yourself caught in a cult. I’ve found a blog that talks about the cult aspects of Tibetan Buddhism and I’d really appreciate it if you could read some of the articles, just as a balance, so you can be aware of potentially negative and harmful aspects of Tibetan Buddhism.” These are ‘I feel’ and “I need” statements that help you avoid accusations that lead to defensiveness and arguments.

      And also make sure you do listen to him without assuming that the content of what he’s learning is bad. Look for points where you can relate to his enthusiasm for it, agree that it sounds good, and just be a voice of balance and warning for him, rather than trying to get him to stop outright. If he can do the study without becoming part of the community of devotees and without neglecting his family, it will be fine. But to do that, he needs awareness of the dangers of becoming involved. My advice with this teacher is not to do vajrayana with him. If he wants to study and practice vajrayana – that’s the stuff with deities, visialisation and chanting – then suggest that he do it with Mingyur Rinpoche. His online program is excellent, and his community seems healthy and free of cult dynamics.

      1. Thank you so so much Tahlia for taking time to respond to me thoughtfully. I appreciate it. You made some excellent points and suggestions for me to consider implementing in order to save our relationship and family.

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