Is Rigpa a Cult?

I have been reticent to use the cult word for Rigpa publically because I wanted to allow them a chance to prove that they didn’t deserve this label. However, their actions since July have raised the cult question in the minds of many who previously would have scoffed at the idea that Rigpa might be a cult and confirmed the perception of those who have suspected or considered it as such for many years. A deeper examination of some aspects of this question will come later, but present circumstances have dictated that we must address the broad issues now.
To be clear, I am not calling them a cult in this article—I could hardly do that in light of a lawsuit which, regardless of what they say, is a warning to those who criticise publically—instead I am simply presenting what is, from my own experience and the experience of friends, common student experience. The reader can make up their own mind.

Why ask this now?

Lerab Ling have brought the discussion on themselves by filing a lawsuit for defamation of the French Lawyer who was assembling testimonies from people harmed by their time in Rigpa. The Lerab Ling community said in a recent letter to the sangha that he made defamatory statements against Lerab Ling in the local newspaper, the Midi Libre, in December. France doesn’t look kindly on cults, and the Lerab Ling community is no doubt suffering financially from the word being bandied about. Since they have decided to bring up the cult question, so must we, and such an examination by necessity focuses on the areas where there is a match between Rigpa tactics and cult tactics, not on the benefits the organisation might bring people. This public examination of the negative aspects of Rigpa is the result of Lerab Ling’s legal action.
The email says: ‘In the 9th December article, Lerab Ling is accused by the lawyer of abuse of power, breach of trust and fraud. …
‘This article can be seen as the culmination of the allegations against us in the sense that these words come from the mouth of a lawyer and therefore carry weight. As a result, Lerab Ling is now widely considered to be a cult by people throughout the region because they have no reason not to believe what they read in the paper. We feel that the time has come to stand up to defamatory statements against us, to defend who we are and what we do, and to set the record straight.’
Later the communication says, ‘We simply wish to make clear that Lerab Ling is not a cult, and that the people who attend courses and events here—and that might be you!—are not brainless social misfits, as the lawyer claims.’

Manipulation of the faithful

The lawyer, however, in the interview that is the cause of the defamation suit did not call anyone a brainless social misfit. So to say that he did in an email asking for testimonies to help prove that Rigpa is not a cult is a blatant attempt at manipulating the students into action. Making the general sangha member feel that they have been personally called a ‘brainless social misfit’ is appealing to their emotions, to their sense of injustice, and their desire to protect themselves and their temple. The words ‘and that might be you!’ really hammer that point home. The lawyer did not say that even by inference, since as stated in a Cultwatch article “many cult members are very intelligent, attractive and skilled. The reality is that all sorts of people are involved in cults.”
Rigpa students and management who haven’t researched the matter would have no idea whether Rigpa is a cult or not, and so they would not be aware of the point where management’s tactics might cross the line between those of a genuine Buddhist organisation and a cult.

What makes a cult?

Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and emeritus adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has counselled and interviewed more than 3,000 current and former cult members, relatives and friends says in a talk published on You Tube that “the difference between cults and religions is that in religions the devotion goes to an abstract principle whereas in a cult the devotion is to an individual. … The follower turns over their decision-making and give complete obedience in return for having secrets revealed to them.”
Like secret Dzogchen teachings.
Ronald Enroth in ‘Churches That Abuse’ identifies five categories commonly used to identify cults. I examine each one below:

1.      Authority and Power

‘Abuse arises when leaders of a group arrogate to themselves power and authority that lacks the dynamics of open accountability and the capacity to question or challenge decisions made by leaders. The shift entails moving from general respect for an office bearer to one where members loyally submit without any right to dissent.’
In Rigpa with Sogyal Lakar as the focus of student devotion there is no accountability for his actions either to his students or to any outside authority, and students have no ability to challenge his decisions. We were taught that it was vital for our spiritual development to please the lama in all ways, to see his every action as that of a Buddha, and to follow the exact letter of all his instructions without question.

2.      Manipulation and Control

“Abusive groups are characterized by social dynamics where fear, guilt or threats are routinely used to produce unquestioning obedience, group conformity or stringent tests of loyalty. The leader-disciple relationship may become one in which the leader’s decisions control and usurp the disciple’s right or capacity to make choices.”
The letter by the 8 outlines the kinds of behaviour that contributed to a culture where fear, guilt or threats are routinely used to produce unquestioning obedience and group conformity. Although ordinary students did not experience the extreme behaviour outlined in the letter, most students who attended a retreat with Sogyal would have seen him publically humiliate at least one of the management team for failing to live up to his expectations in one way or another.
If people expressed their horror or concern over such behaviour, senior instructors would tell the assembly that what we saw were the actions of a crazy wisdom master—spontaneous enlightened action—which were, should we have sufficient devotion, an opportunity for ridding ourselves of our ego. The longer one was a student, the more ‘handling’ such outbursts, either as the recipient or observer, was seen as a test of our devotion. Many of my friends didn’t ask questions for fear that they might be singled out for such treatment.
Of course, there is also the emotional manipulation I flagged in the email mentioned above and other manipulative use of language as discussed in a previous post.
We have all seen the silencing of dissent actively engaged in Rigpa managed social media, and only positive, emotional outpourings of devotion were shared as feedback at retreats—never was a bad word heard about Sogyal.

3.      Elitism and Persecution

“Abusive groups depict themselves as unique and have a strong organizational tendency to be separate from other bodies and institutions. The social dynamism of the group involves being independent or separate, with diminishing possibilities for internal correction or reflection, whilst outside [of] criticism.”
Sogyal and his devoted students depict him as unique, as a mahasiddha, a crazy wisdom master who is above all normal moral boundaries. The idea that was instilled in us is that there is no other group that does quite what Rigpa does and we were also not permitted to have any other teachers unless we saw Sogyal personally and asked for permission. The only way, we were told, that we could realise Dzogchen was through devotion to him.
Of course, as with all Tibetan Buddhist communities, there is no higher authority to check if the lama is behaving appropriately and even advice from other lamas can be ignored with impunity. Rigpa no longer has the support of His Holiness the Dalia Lama.

4.      Life-style and Experience

‘Abusive groups foster rigidity in behaviour and belief that requires conformity to the group’s ideals.’
One student told me that ‘In Rigpa you have to do what the group does and it is particularly that way in Lerab Ling. You have to show up for practices and are pressured if you are failing to. Your view is molded to fit the ideals. You might live off site but there are all these devotees and they report on dissent. When I left I was threatened, guilt tripped and they tried to bribe me to stay.’
Certainly those who have spoken out have faced aggression, character smears, and isolation from the group. The denial that there is a problem in many students and lack of willingness to examine their beliefs in others is an indication of the rigidity in belief.

5.      Dissent and Discipline

‘Abusive groups tend to suppress any kind of internal challenge to decisions made by leaders.’
Students raising concerns find it hard to get a meeting with anyone in authority. They are re-directed countless times—passed from one person to another—and it is virtually impossible for the ordinary student to meet with Sogyal privately. When they do get to talk to someone the usual response is that their concerns are only their perception and that seeing anything wrong with the lama indicates a lack of devotion and pure perception in the student raising the concern.
This is so expected that many, if not most, students feel they cannot raise concerns or that there is no point in doing so. The fear was always there that should the student’s concern be taken to Sogyal that he will publically humiliate them as they have often seen happen to others. He is not teaching for now, but that is not the long term intention as indicated in the ‘About the Vision Board’ document of January 2018 sent to the sangha: “We all pray, however, that once Rinpoche has recovered and regained his strength, he may continue to teach his students as much as possible.”
Recent shut downs of criticism take the form of removing social media comments, preventing students from attending retreats or meetings and limiting face to face discussions with a rigid adherence to session forms or a declaration that time has run out.
The Vision Board is almost exactly the same people as have been in control for over 30 years, and early calls for their resignation from students within the organisation were simply ignored—not even discussed or taken seriously. Polite emails I sent to one of the Vision Board have never been replied to. And though we can send emails to Sogyal, has anyone received a reply?
And then there are the beliefs that shut down criticism, like those that say that if we criticise our teacher we will go to the worst kind of hell, that we will then be samaya breakers and the rest of the sangha will shun us as such. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has publically refuted this belief, and yet Rigpa and their advisors still subscribe to it. Fear of hell is a powerful form of discipline for those who believe it, and it certainly keeps people from speaking up about their experiences.

The specific allegations

The email asks students to send testimonies ‘that addresses your personal experience of Lerab Ling in relation to the specific accusations that characterise us as a cult, namely:
– abuse of power, breach of trust and fraud
– cutting people off from their families
– rendering people incapable of integrating into society
– taking away people’s bearings.’
This article is already long enough, so I’ll not be examining these points individually. Someone who lived at lerab Ling told me, ‘If you have given it all, your money and your time, your life like I have – it is indeed a challenge to find your way outside of the “cultist” group. They are very disturbed by you leaving and you may find that there is a whole cultist personality overlay that has been installed that you need to undo. I’m not brainless but I found that I had to do a lot to get back my independence and say “no, enough now, I am not your property, your slave.”’
If you feel you have information on these specific points that might help the lawyer Jean-Baptiste Cesbron to fight this case. Please contact him via email
Click HERE to download a form to use.
If you want to support Lerab Ling’s case, they will have already sent you contact information where you can give your attestation.

The real problem

The problem Rigpa has is not the criticism in the media or whether they win or lose a defamation case, it’s that those running the show have unquestioning obedience to a man facing multiple attestations of abuse, that they believe, against all indications to the contrary, that he has done no wrong, and that their beliefs allow their leader to behave as he wishes without moral restraint. Whether the word ‘cult’ fits or not, the real issue remains.
Article by Tahlia Newland, editor and author.

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144 Replies to “Is Rigpa a Cult?”

  1. Lojong out the window eh? Anyone here surprised that I have been using much stronger critical language about Sogyal/Rigpa for 30 years and there hasn’t been even a whisper of legal action? Must be obvious by now that Rigpa spends money on lawyers only when their cash flow is affected. There is not a scintilla of doubt that Rigpa is a cult. It ticks all the boxes.

  2. I agree, there should be at least some reward for “using much stronger critical language about S/R for 30 years and there hasn’t been even a whisper of legal action?” The winner’s podium has at least 3 pedestals. But at the top, there can only be one.

  3. I do understand French, and I have read the article in the “midilibre”. And in fact to my opinion unfortunatly one can interpret the last paragraphe in that sense as “brainless social misfit” by only exagerating a little bit what is written there.
    Jean-Baptiste Cesbron made some remarks in answering the question, if it wouldn’t be better to close the centre at Lerab Ling.
    And then he said (approximately), “no, because people would have to integrate themselves into a society where they have no more anchor to. Like in all cultish movements they have been deprived of their identity and cut off from their families”.
    (My English is not so good. Maybe someone else can translate it in a better way.)
    I think it was not so skillful to say it in that way.
    He should have said something like: “There is a danger, that for some of the residents…”
    His intention was positive and in favour of proventing people to fall into a crisis, by closing down Lerab Ling as proposed by the jounalist, but the way he said it was – as I see it – unprudent as it made him vulnerable to the accusations of Rigpa.
    And then it was not clear whether he refered only to those living at LL, resp. the close environment or also to those people that live abroad and only come to LL occasionally to a retreat. Because for the latter that definitly doesn’t apply. In the Sangha, where I was, most of them had jobs and a family and a social life apart from Rigpa.

    1. @Lola
      Thank you for your translation, I agree I wish he had been more circumspect. I completely agree with what he said but it’s like poking a beehive, intellectually limited beings will come after you and sting you, even if it leads to their death.
      As MF said, she’s been using very strong language for many years to no avail. On the other hand the initial letter that was very clear and unflinching but lacking invective has garnered the attention of the entire TB world.
      One would think people might see that if you come off as hateful with a personal agenda people switch off. I know I did while I was a rigpa student.

    2. @ Lola
      It’s true that (with hindsight) he might have made a less generalized statement, but even so he’s obviously referring to permanent residents rather than occasional visitors, and there’s absolutely no wording in the text, even by inference, that describes these people as “brainless social misfits.” As you say, it’s actually expressing his compassionate concern rather than denigration.
      He was speaking as an individual and as such he’s protected under French law in terms of his right to free speech and the expression of his opinions.
      Here’s the text for people who read French:
      La vie continue à Lerab Ling, faut-il fermer le centre ? Non. Car ce serait forcer ceux qui fréquentent le temple à intégrer une société où ils n’auraient plus leurs repères. Comme dans tout mouvement sectaire, les gens sont privés d’identité et sont coupés de leur famille. On constate d’ailleurs qu’il n’y a pas d’hémorragie des adeptes. Il faut aller au bout de l’enquête, et faire œuvre de pédagogie.
      He suggests, with a lot of consideration, that if Lerab Ling was forced to shut, then people who had lived there for some time might no longer have sufficient support or reference outside to make it easy to cope with the sudden change: the word “reperes” can mean any of the following: points of orientation, landmarks, emotional connections to a place or people such as family, friends, or social network, accommodation, employment and so on. It’s a reasonable point because many of those at Lerab Ling will have given up their work and homes to move there.
      He does say that they could be lacking identity and cut off from their families, which is a questionable generalization, but again some people may have changed their priorities to such a degree as to become estranged from their families, friends or abandoned their old, non Buddhist network of friends. ( Involvement in Rigpa certainly destroyed a lot of relationships that I knew of )
      As already pointed out: it says more about their lack of understanding of what a cult is and their deliberate attempt to provoke students into a defensive mode with emotive terms that the lawyer never actually used. If it goes to court, soliciting testimony in this manipulative way by falsely attributing pejorative speech to the defendant is unlikely to escape the notice of a judge.

  4. The message speaks for itself
    Teaching by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
    28 February (2.30 to 5pm) Vajrayana Buddhism in the West, the challenges and misunderstandings of our times. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche will teach on the following:
    Is Vajrayana Buddhism a cult religion?
    How can we reconcile western values of independence, free will, critical intelligence and transparency, with the core Vajrayana principles of devotion, loyalty, secrecy and surrender?
    Given the pre-eminence of science and secularization in the West, what place is there for a spiritual tradition steeped in faith and ritual?

    1. The words surrender, faith and rituals are doubrfull.
      In my own words I thought the Buddha said: use your own brains to test my message or teachings.
      The only thing to surrender is your own buddhanature, if there is anything to surrender to.

      1. @ Jan
        Good point about only surrendering to ones own buddhanature.
        Of course Western values as DKR outlines above are irreconcileable with the Vajrayana path – as he has stated many times. Is he going to water down his previous stance after the public backlash on social media to his response to the Rigpa-Sogyal issue and to his other recent Facebook postings?
        How hypocritical that he is teaching on these things. Well, there certainly wasn’t room for independence, critical thought or transparency in my experience with Rinpoche or SIA. To lie, obfuscate, shut down and ignore is ok though apparently.
        The issue of moral relativity is also key…
        Wow, Pandora’s Box n’est ce-pas?!

  5. It’s interesting to read the 5 categories. I wonder which Vajrayana communities don’t manifest most if not all of these traits??

  6. Thanks Tahlia, an excellent article, which not only summarizes this issue neatly but presents enough perspective for any rational person to conclude that: Yes, Rigpa definitely is a cult.
    This question also applies to Tibetan Buddhism in the wider sense and it’s obviously fast becoming a threat to the status quo ( not to mention the cashflow ) so, as we might expect, Dzongsar Khyentse on behalf of himself, Sogyal, Rigpa and everyone else on the payroll, is desperately trying to get ahead in the game……..
    ( I’m afraid I’ve been unable to resist providing my own answers to this advert for the forthcoming teaching/indoctrination session at Lerab Ling )
    Teaching with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche –
    Vajrayana Buddhism in the West: The Challenges and Misunderstandings of our Times.
    * Is Vajrayana Buddhism a cult religion?…………….Yes it is. ( so sue me )
    • How can we reconcile western values of independence, free will, critical intelligence and transparency, with the core Vajrayana principles of devotion, loyalty, secrecy and surrender?…………..You can’t.
    • Given the pre-eminence of science and secularization in the West, what place is there for a spiritual tradition steeped in faith and ritual?……..If it’s an excuse for abuse and exploitation, then no place at all.
    IMPORTANT – Please register in advance if you are planning to attend. We will not be able to register anyone on the day of the event
    ( Translation: we need to check who you are because we don’t want any journalists, people asking awkward questions, anyone possessed by demons or generally working for the forces of darkness.)
    This is the next stage in DK’s frantic efforts to stem the rising tide of scepticism and disillusionment, probably using his trademark cheap sophistry and quasi-intellectual obfuscation:
    Along the lines of: “ No it’s not a cult that’s a misunderstanding…. but also yes it is a cult, but it’s for your own good and what do you mere westerners with your political correctness, morality and rationality, know about it anyway, you’re not highly realized a tulku who’s transcended duality like me are you?
    He’s going to posture and sneer a lot, no-one in the tame adoring audience will ask any difficult questions or point out the inconsistencies and everyone will leave with a smug feeling of reassurance that they’re right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong and a deluded samaya-breaker.
    Perhaps I’m unfairly pre-empting what he’s going to say…..I suppose he could say: “Ok, it’s a fair cop, we’ve been taking you all to the cleaners and now Sogyal’s gone and blown it for the rest of us. Anyway, we’ve had a good run and it’s been fun for us while it lasted……but I’d better sort out my CV and be off down the Jobcentre.”
    Behind all the convoluted, flatulent rhetoric, it seems that the essence of Vajrayana promoted by these lamas at the moment can be neatly, but very crudely, summed up as: “Put up, shut up;…..or fuck off.”
    Just ‘Challenges and Misunderstandings’…….

    1. Jeez Pete, if only DKR read your comments – you’ve really nailed it with your summary at the end.
      The Vajrayana cat is totally, completely and irreversibly out of the bag.
      Who would have ever thought that those of us who were so very devoted would ever feel actually grateful to be out? It’s the strangest thing having the conditioning fall away…. perhaps impermanence can be a friend sometimes

        1. @ Gluckaufrezept
          No need I’m sure he trawls the net compulsively for anything about himself.
          What does ‘Gluckaufrezept mean by the way?

            1. @ Gluckaufrezept
              Many thanks, not surprisingly the only translation I could get from Google was : “Good luck with the recipe” which I guessed was wrong.
              I’d love to read your book, it’s a subject that fascinates me, but sadly, I can’t speak German or Dutch, Nothing of what I learnt at school has survived and my only German is: “Ich bin ein sumpffrosch” from The Enigma of Casper Hauser…….this is obviously an indication of something about my brain, but I have no idea what it might be..

              1. Hi Pete, I am amazed about your energy. Sometimes I wonder if I see a pattern in argumentation of the people who keep defending or downplaying Rigpa’s wrong doings. It reminds me of little children, but also grownups, who seem to think that endlessly saying the same stands for having a solid argument or a solid fact. So, becase they lack that the keep saying things like “ no, it is perhaps in some cases not always like that” and the think that when you stop engaging in the discussion, that they “ have won”. Also it is this childlike “ i’ve won, you run away from the discussion” is a fenomena which I see, sadly enough, too often in discussions with adults. In Germany they have a nice expression, it is called “ eine kompetente Meinung” . It translates like “ an opinion from someone who is qualified” .
                Some decades ago it was quite normal that one would shut up or at least would be very modest if his/her opinion was not based on expertise but on “ having an impression about something” . Nowadays having an opinion about everything, even stuff you have no background in, seems to some sort of new law. I learned how to deal with this from a very learned consultant in health care economics. After he held a presentation about a scientific analysis method, someone from the audience questionned it and asked why the peaker thought that that was a correct way of doing it. The answer was that his was the state of art to do it and that he merely explained how it can be performed. If the honorable listener in audience could not live with the fact that this method is THE state of art method, it would be his problem, a problem he could not solve.
                How translates all of this to us? Well, I your endless patience and energy sometimes drained by people who give me the impression that they don’t want to understand why Rigpa’s wrong doings were wrong. Perhaps they need to talk a lot en express their frustration on blogs and Facebook pages and groups in order work themselves free from the past. Change, as we have learned in Rigpa, is one of most difficult processes for most of us. One would of course prefer not to give up the comfort of Rigpa, it would mean that many comfortable assumptions turned out to wrong, what a crisis that would be! And indeed, that is what it is.
                I hope that my long text here makes sence to everybody. I believe we have to diffentiate between those in the process who are looking for a new Rigpa and those who are still not that far in the process of letting go. It has different objectives if you discuss with persons of one group or with persons of the other group. Perhaps even one can choose to put a lot of energy on one and less in the other, energy is limited, isn’t it.
                Anyway, I wish that users of your fantastic blog are a bit cautious with eachothers energy and especially with the energy of the Moderator who is doing a great job! It would be my proposal to all to try not to “win” discussions, but first of all to understand why you are here on this blog yourself. What do want from the other, ask us how can we help you, tell us why you say things. It may make This blog even more “ productive” then it already is.
                Again, Pete, you have my admiration for the way you run this blog! Thanks a lot for doing that.

      1. @ Rose
        Thanks, do you think it would make a good title for a book ? or maybe an advert for a Rigpa retreat ?
        I think I must have plagiarized it subconsciously from Timothy Leary.

        1. @Pete – I reckon you actually could have a book in you – settling on a title alone would provide hours of fun.
          But what about a kind of ‘pop-up’ blog as a commentary to DK’s facebook page?
          See how far you can go without having a lawsuit thrown at you 😄

          1. @ Rose
            It’s very nice of you to say so, but no, that might start as fun but it would rapidly become work, and there are so many other things I prefer to do than work. I’m already at my limit posting briefly here and somehow I kind of resent spending too much time doing even that.
            I’ve got a deep revulsion for everything bad that’s happened under cover of Tibetan Buddhism and I feel somewhat obligated to help counteract all the lies and obfuscation, but I don’t think I have too many illusions about how far that goes. The Catholic church is still going strong after all.
            A lot of people will slowly understand and come to their senses, a few never will.
            Unfortunately, it’s now a big international business with an endless supply of fresh young lamas, or ‘missionaries’, being churned out in the monasteries like a factory production-line and they’re learning to better adapt with each generation….. and as the cynical saying goes: ” there’s one (re)born every minute.”
            Unlike before when we started, at least now the information is there if people want to find out for themselves.

            1. Yes, it was said in jest really – just fun to imagine it. Really appreciate all the energy you have poured into the comments here and can see it may become tiresome/difficult to sustain but much benefit surely already accomplished!
              Cheers 🙂

              1. @ Rose
                Thanks, I hope so, but that being said I’ve noticed that quite a few people who are apparently clear about many things one day, can express a shocking degree of ambivalence about them the next.
                I understand that the process of spiritual disillusionment can be disorientating, unfold only gradually and it can even be reversed if people’s attachment to Tibetan Buddhism is very acute. So my involvement is tempered by that awareness…….and cynical British humour obviously.

    2. Perhaps these lamas give only a perverted version of vajrayana for their own benefit.
      Rigpa is considered to be a money machine and its director was at the end of his term because of age and sickness. And now this scandal accelerates the take over.

          1. I meant the word “ Perhaps”, it can be read as a cautious start of a sentence, but also as a cinical joke. So: do you really mean “ Perhaps” or could this laso be “ most certain “ . Thats about what I meant.

            1. @GluckaufRezept
              I meant it cautious, with in my mind the question why does Tibetan Buddhism relies so much on reincarnated lama’s. Did this system also excist in India e.g Nalanda. Why doesn’t it play a role in Zen Japan.
              I don’t think that in the west children could be given away because a lama recognises this child as an important reincarnation. So the west is dependend on this system orking in the east.
              Did the indian teacher realy brought this aspect of vajrayan to Tibet or is it a Tibetan thing.
              If it is only a tibetan thing than you could see this as perverted.

    3. I hope DK will read Pete’s comment.I’m eager looking forward to DK’s answer.It will certainly be as witty and funny as his” Fuck without being fucked” post he sadly deleted from his Facebook page.Yes, people have to register and I would tend to think that taking notes will be forbidden! 🙂

      1. @ Ladybird
        ‘Fuck without being Fucked’?
        Wow, so inspiring.
        So refined.
        Reflects so well on the Buddhadharma right?
        Oh, that’s right, it’s Kali Yuga Tantra for us degenerate beings in the West 😉

  7. FWIW, I’ve been part of the Rigpa Organization since 1984 and never had any feeling I was in a cult.
    I could come and go as I pleased and think whatever I wanted, there was no pressure other than the pressure that goes along with being in a group that has a particular belief structure.
    My surprise in the Rigpa Organization is how strongly folks adhere to any belief structure (see S.Batchelor. in the Buddhist Atheist) though having beliefs seems to be how many or most people in society function.

    1. It depends on where you are in the hierarchy. It’s a bit like Armin Risi describes the structure of Freemansions in his book “TranscENDING the global Power-game”. There in the lower levels everything seems o.k. They have good projects and people live a normal life. That changes when one moves closer to the inner circle.
      And also in Rigpa. As long as you are in a local Sangha, occasionally come to a Sangha-day or open meditation, everything is cool. But even to enter the DM, you have to give certain commitments and promises, fulfil time-requiring prerequisites, accept S.R. as your teacher until enlightenment, etc. And I guess that gets more the higher you get in the hierarchy, all for the sake of being worthy to receive higher teachings.
      The bottom line seems to be – or was it for me – how much can you resist the temptation of ambition and competition and follow instead your inner guidance? I know one woman, she had finished he Ngöndro twice, but never applied for the DM. She kept her freedom within Rigpa, but she also said to me that she paid a price for this as well and that it was not an easy process.

      1. > how much can you resist the temptation of ambition and competition and follow instead your inner guidance?
        Similar to my experience, too. This seems to be the same in many organizations, if you want to climb the ladder, enorous sacrifices are required.

        1. I am glad, I am not alone with this recognition.
          To me we are all here to learn some crucial lessons.
          For me it was this one as well as to understand that I can never give up the responsibility for myself to an external authority for the sake of safety and because I am afraid of wrong decision and bearing the consequences. Because even the decision to let someone else (one person among billions, whom I defined to be an enlightend master beforehead) decide for me, is my own decision for which I am responsible and have to bear the consequences.
          And also whatever belief-system there is in Rigpa or any other organisation, it’s always my choice to accept it for myself or not.
          I have understood these things through my process in Rigpa, and I hope the process was long and intense enough for this understanding to stay with me for good.

      2. @ Lola
        Some of us were not allowed to opt out of dzm. Not only did I say I wasn’t qualified I said that I could not make that kind of commitment back in early 2000’s when teaching services staff travelled to each sangha interviewing people. I didn’t request an interview, she asked to meet with me and told me that I was automatically in dzm because I had a close relationship to sl.
        I made it clear that I wasn’t pledging to anything, she said that’s between you and sl. All I wanted to do was be helpful. My former teacher was involved in a sex scandal and I thought TB was safe because of the oversight by HHDL, which was a complete misunderstanding on my part.
        My biggest critique of sl is that he used our good intentions and selflessness to manipulate us. My hook had nothing to do with recognition or wanting to feel special, it was all about feeling as if I was doing something beneficial, that I was making good use of this human life in service to others by creating a good environment for sl so that he could be free to teach. Students regularly lost all common sense around him, he told me about trying to travel light and not having any underwear because someone took them to wash and lost them, asking for a toothbrush and not getting it for 3 days, that’s the kind of organizing I was good at, but I had no delusions about that meaning I had any special qualities, I’m just a good organizer and hard worker.
        When I started in hospitality he travelled with only one international companion. He always stayed at a students house, he rarely went out.
        I know people who were very close to him in the 80’s, they said he studied all the time.
        I think that he has always had a distorted view of women and sexuality but the sybaritic lifestyle built gradually. I remember ironing his clothes in the early 2000’s full of patches. Things changed for all of us once he was diagnosed with diabetes and worsened significantly after 2005 hospitalization.
        Things are rarely as simple or clear as we’d like them to be.

        1. @ Lola
          My wife and I joined around ’79, she used to cook for him and take care of hospitality, so we knew him well in the ’80’s…….don’t believe anyone who told you he studied all the time, he didn’t…..unless spending hours on end watching American soaps and eating counts.
          He started off then as a callous, ignorant self-indulgent bully and we thought it was ‘Crazy Wisdom’.
          It just got gradually worse over the years as he realized how much people would tolerate.
          At the start, he was so completely ignorant of the dharma that his ‘teachings consisted of him reading long passages out of Trungpa’s ‘Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism’ and Suzuki Roshi’s ‘Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind’ and other books,….it was very tedious. Then he started meticulously taping every teaching he could get from other lamas for source material, especially Nyoshul Khenpo…..he used that for the TBLD and NK’s students were very unhappy about it. To be fair, he’s been a very accomplished plagiarist.

          1. Yes, I’ve heard that too, but the people I know were in the household in the US so their POV is also credible. Perhaps he was trying to impress someone 😊
            I recently had to read a few chapters of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and somehow it contains high level dzogchen advice, almost verbatim, clearly pg read it and it made its way into sl’s notes.
            I also observed plagiarism. I sent him an advanced copy of a book by another master and content from it was in his notes before the book was published which led devotees to assume that the other lama had ‘borrowed’ content from sl.

            1. We need a Rigpa version of Tom Lehrer.

              “I am never forget the day I first meet the great Rinpoche.
              In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!
              Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
              Remember why the Buddha made your eyes,
              So don’t shade your eyes,
              But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize…
              Only be sure always to call it please “teachings”.

        2. I believe every bit of what you are saying.
          My perception was also that the control and all those problematic things develloped over time. Even with money: at the beginning there was only one envelope for all the donations, and I witnessed that there was not much in it at the end of the day. Later on every single person received a white envelope, in which to put his/her donation and deliver it personally during the blessing.
          But as you said in a previous post, I also believe that whatever you do with a good intention is never lost and at the end will pay off.
          My intentions were not always so pure, and social status was an issue for me because of low self-esteem. So I got the lesson I described. But as an introvert and inquisitory person, I had a strong motivation to understand and to learn to listen to my inner voice. So I think, that paid off as well (even though it took me a long time to learn…).
          I have once read a quote of Albert Einstein:
          “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

          1. @Lola
            I have once read a quote of Albert Einstein:
            “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
            For me that is a question that I could not answer myself so far, but it seems to be essential.
            When looking into science and philosophy there seems to be no proof, that the universe is either friendly or hostily by itself. It rather seems to be kind of neutral.
            What I mean is that nature and the cosmos just seem to “be” without valuing or judging. The cycle of existance does not really seem to be based upon warm or friendly feelings in terms of the universe. Neither is is really hostile, just by itself, although nature can be really brutal and even animals kill each other without any empathy whatsoever.
            Therefore in my opinion it’s the human experience and the human spirit that has the capacity to make or value things “friendly” or “hostile” and create such environments, respectively.
            Would you disagree or what’s your perspective in this regard?

            1. @Veggiegirl2016
              I definitely agree with what you wrote. SL used the phrase, with our thoughts we make the world, which still resonates with me.
              That’s why, despite years of abuse I simply can’t hold sl or even SL and his long term henchmen solely responsible. We might have all had different intentions but it took literally thousands of students willing to look the other way or indulge in magical thinking for them to get away with it.
              I’ve referenced the Nazi Germany affect more than once. Hitler could not have murdered millions unless millions of otherwise good people looked the other way. His power built slowly, I am sure that there were many opportunities to stop him early on.
              Interdependance is a bitch.

              1. @Not so hopeful anymore
                Yes. The long, long film called “Shoah” touches on that.
                As Rebecca Traister writing about abuse spoke about that recognition “…And that’s before we get to the real mind-fuck: the recognition of how we’ve participated in this system.”
                We’ve left the Rigpa Organization, but how do we leave ourselves? How do we come to deeply understand our own participation, together?

              2. Yes, maybe interdependance is a bitch, though I would rather call it a dilemma and in some cases even a “chance”.
                We don’t have to refer to Hitler to understand how masses of people can be directed by a psychopathic criminal leader, but of course he is one of the most significant and horrific examples.
                And it is shocking and almost incomprehensible how people supported and obeyed him for such a long time.
                Scientists have found out about the phenomenon of “mass-hypnosis” that occurs when a big crowd of people gathers and parties (e.g. in football games in big stadions) there is the moment of “ecstasy” where people lose kind of their separate identities (egos) and join in another energetic flow.
                When that state of mind is manipulated or led into a specific direction (by any leader or event) they might be capable of unbelievable things. Good or bad, horrible or wonderful.
                Most of us are aware of it.
                When it comes to our thoughts creating our reality – for me this does not imply that I might have contributed to the manifestation of the car that comes along the corner and might run me over, because the driver was drunk. That’s actually an accident, an incident that I did not create with my thoughts and wishes. (at least I hope so)
                I have a different concept: the universe and all things in it exist without my contribution, I can only contribute to HOW I perceive things that happen to me and how I handle them.
                But that does not automatically mean that I “created” them myself.
                Maybe the word “co-creator” comes closer to it, Maybe I can be the co-creator of my reality.
                Does that make sense to you? Greetings

                  1. I have a very different, much less literal translation of with our thoughts. For me it means I get to chose how I react to things and the value I place on things. Two people get hit by a car and lose the ability to walk, one plunges into depression, blame, hatred, the other finds great inner strength that they never knew they had, they become a motivational speaker, they are filled with compassion for the driver that hit them.
                    Why such different reactions? Genetics, early childhood conditioning, current support system, spiritual beliefs…
                    The point is there are very few absolutes, we do have a choice about how we react to things.

                    1. @not so hopeful anymore
                      “The point is there are very few absolutes, we do have a choice about how we react to things.”
                      I agree. If any, we have the choice about how we react! Well said.
                      I admit, refering to your example I am not sure if I would be able to be the person who regains their strength, finds new meaning in life after an accident and even develops compassion for the driver who hit them. But I sometimes heard about people who were capable to do so. Amazing and admirable.
                      But although I seem to be the more “depressive” type who needs very long time to get over things and recover I still am aware that it’s somehow my own decision or choice to sometimes get caught in self-sabotage. Depression can become a part of life 😉
                      One thing I can say for sure: I am glad that I learnt a little bit of self-control and self-reflection which prevents me from reacting all the time to each and every potential “provocation” or projection. I am a living example that things can get better in that respect.
                      I had to learn the hard way that my anger led to (self-)destruction. The paradox was that even though I knew that, I could not let go of my resentment. I could not solve that intellectually, it is an inner emotional switch that was blocked. It was a very dark and lost place to be.
                      To fight back and forth in arguments and personal conflicts was even a way for me to avoid confronting myself, Today in hindsight it seems that I kind of needed those conflicts and probably sometimes actively kind of provoced them. When I realised that I felt quite ashamed and still do about all the bad things that I projected onto other people at that time, many years ago. At the same time it’s quite understandable when considering my upbringing, so I have some compassion for the person that I used to be back then.
                      But I think that goes beyond the scope of our conversation.
                      For today I think it has been a good decision to reply to your comment and thank you for answering 🙂

                    2. @not so hopeful anymore
                      “The point is there are very few absolutes, we do have a choice about how we react to things.”
                      I agree. If any, we have the choice about how we react! Well said.
                      I admit, refering to your example I am not sure if I would be able to be the person who regains their strength, finds new meaning in life after an accident and even develops compassion for the driver who hit them. But I sometimes heard about people who were capable to do so. Amazing and admirable.
                      But although I seem to be the more “depressive” type who needs very long time to get over things and recover I still am aware that it’s somehow my own decision or choice to sometimes get caught in self-sabotage. Depression can become a part of life 😉
                      One thing I can say for sure: I am glad that I learnt a little bit of self-control and self-reflection which prevents me from reacting all the time to each and every potential “provocation” or projection. I am a living example that things can get better in that respect.
                      I had to learn the hard way that my anger led to (self-)destruction. The paradox was that even though I knew that, I could not let go of my resentment. I could not solve that intellectually, it is an inner emotional switch that was blocked. It was a very dark and lost place to be.
                      To fight back and forth in arguments and personal conflicts was even a way for me to avoid confronting myself, Today in hindsight it seems that I kind of needed those conflicts and probably sometimes actively kind of provoced them. When I realised that I felt quite ashamed and still do about all the bad things that I projected onto other people at that time, many years ago. At the same time it’s quite understandable when considering my upbringing, so I have some compassion for the person that I used to be back then.
                      But I think that goes beyond the scope of our conversation.
                      For today I think it has been a good decision to reply to your comment and thank you for answering

              3. I’ve made another comment here, but it is waiting moderation. I think for 2 links, one to the film Shoah and another to an by Rebecca Traister entitled:
                “Your Reckoning. And Mine. As stories about abuse, assault, and complicity come flooding out, how do we think about the culprits in our lives? Including, sometimes, ourselves.”

    2. @ Rick New
      Strange, I never thought I was in a cult either, but I didn’t really know what defined one back then because my thinking was influenced by religious dogma……because I was in a cult.
      Now I adhere strictly to what Grouch Marx said:
      “I’d never belong to a group that would have someone like me as a member.”

      1. @ Pete Cowell
        Yes, but that is going on here, too and we’ve barely gotten started. Wait till we organize or get some ambition to write a book or form another group.
        Those that don’t agree Rigpa Organization was a cult or feel like they respect Rinpoche will be pressured to conform. Those that don’t are the “others” the bad guys maintaining the abusive system.
        The approach is the same, each side feels they have the truth.
        We all treat the other with differing views as if they are wrong.
        You’re message implies you think I’m brainwashed because you have woken up from religious dogma. It’s the same thing, we just don’t recognize it when we do it and as long as we keep the focus on other people, we don’t have to see our ongoing cult like thoughts.
        There is pressure to conform everywhere. You lose your livelihood if you don’t conform to the company you work for, you lose your friends if you shift from democrat to republican, you get thrown out of a university if you won’t use one of 30 gender pronouns, etc.
        “Fascism, in shaping the micro-forces and micro-machines which produce desire (yes, desire is socially produced), gives rise to desires which desire nothing else but their own repression. I find in this a great reminder that the political (and therefore also acts of political resistance) are not to be found merely in large aggregate bodies (courts, executive branches, voting booths, etc), but in our local communities and daily relationships–with our neighborhoods, our coworkers, our families, etc.” -
        “We” are “them” and it seems that sooner or later we are going to have to face ourselves. Hopefully, this could take place in a supportive environment where our failings are a source of inspiration, a place to start, together.

        1. @ Rick New
          It suppose it might sound as if I’m implying you’ve been brainwashed, but that’s an emotive term that I wouldn’t use…….unless, for instance, you started saying that Sogyal had pure intentions and only benefited the people he abused……or other ‘miracles’…… any of that would qualify for me.
          For myself I have no trouble saying I was brainwashed just because I put up with his weird moods for so long. But in the end I woke up and saw it for what it was.
          So I’d define it as believing a lie to be true because you’ve been told repeatedly it is true by a person or institution you respect, and you’ve accepted that lie because of your naivety, ignorance and importantly, because you really want it to be true.
          It’s a combination that varies from person to person but the salient factor is faith: belief without proof or in the face of evidence to the contrary. It can be self-induced too.
          I’m not talking about the cliché of ‘brainwashed’ intellectual or emotional zombies……. I’ve never met any.
          Two of your phrases stand out: “The approach is the same, each side feels they have the truth. And we all treat the other with differing views as if they are wrong.”….. both correct observations.
          But the conclusion you seem to draw:….. that in this case both automatically sides have equal standing… good old moral equivalency, a false logic that in this case ignores the fact that dichotomies like truth and falsehood, right and wrong do exist and have different values for us as humans.
          One side can have the truth and can be justified in treating the other as wrong. Society functions on that basis for very good reasons.
          For example if anyone believes violence and sexual abuse can ever be ‘Crazy Wisdom’ they’re wrong, and yes, they’ve been brainwashed by religious dogma and they really do need to wake up.
          I’m fine with “conforming” if it’s to the general view that their belief is wrong and needs correcting, because at some point they’ll either do it themselves, stand by and be a passive witness or just be indifferent.
          And no, in that case we are not them, at that point we are different because we’re right and they’re wrong. There’s nothing complicated about that.
          This conventional moral attitude may upset spiritual people……but often only until they become victims themselves, when they suddenly understand that they no longer have the luxury of this woolly ‘non-dual’ kind of fence-sitting. Or when they witness it enough times……I’ve seen this happen in Rigpa.
          It’s often a cover for indifference or just hypocrisy.
          These days I can “face” myself because I try to see things in this way without more complexity than is necessary and entirely free of any religious belief. The reason being that Religion is just a tool invented by men to get others to obey them.
          The section: “Fascism, in shaping the micro-forces and micro-machines which produce desire (yes, desire is socially produced), gives rise to desires which desire nothing else but their own repression.”
          …….well, I’m afraid I haven’t a clue what that might mean because I understand “Facism” to be the combination of Nationalism, Militarism and Capitalism, and I don’t understand how it desires its own repression or relates here to separating truth and falsehood or telling morally right from morally wrong.)
          ( Deleuze? I’m more Sokal and Bricmont myself.)

          1. @ Pete Cowell
            Hi Pete,
            Thanks for your message.
            Yes, I agree, the use of the word brainwashed was perhaps a shortcut and not as subtle as you meant it.
            My point is the move, that critique, is a dismissal. Those dismissals are part of our incapacity to listen to one another.
            > that in this case both automatically sides have equal standing…
            Yes, as I was writing it, I thought the statement could be heard in that way, but I’m not trying to talk about sides in such a way. Sogyal Rinpoche and the Rigpa Organization aren’t here, it is just us.

            1. Hi Rick,
              I don’t think we’ll find common ground here because I’m quite comfortable with a critique and the implied dismissal if it’s based on sufficient evidence that a person’s actions have recklessly hurt others.
              I don’t have an incapacity to listen to them, but I’ll evaluate what they say in the context of what they’ve done and subordinate it to that.
              By having harmed others they certainly don’t have equal standing in any respect. Once they act as perpetrators they forfeit that equality that would be automatically assumed before their victims were harmed.
              Yes, Sogyal and Rigpa aren’t here, it is just us, but I don’t understand your point because that doesn’t make our discussion of them any less valid.
              They choose not to participate because they can’t control the discussion by framing it exclusively in their terms and Sogyal has run away because he’s a coward.
              If a drunk driver crashes into you, you’re under no obligation to stay at the site of the car crash sitting quietly in the wreckage and politely discussing it with them or their passengers who were . ( In this case the driver has already run away.) You call the police.
              I don’t mean to sound irritable, this is a genuine question: Why are you seeking to avoid the basic principles of criminal justice, and why do I have to explain them to you ?
              What makes you uncomfortable here and why do you insist on this notion of equal standing when it’s so patently false and irrelevant to the issue of criminal abuse?

              1. @ Pete Cowell
                Hi Pete,
                Thanks for your email. I appreciate your forthcoming words and capacity to stay with dialog.
                Pete: “I don’t think we’ll find common ground here because I’m quite comfortable with a critique and the implied dismissal if it’s based on sufficient evidence that a person’s actions have recklessly hurt others.”
                We have common ground here, I’m comfortable with that, too. (except for the dismissal part, but for a different reason than you might think) Or perhaps a different kind of dismissal, in other words, there is a lot to learn here.
                I also think there is the possibility of finding common ground, because I think you are misunderstanding what I am trying to say.
                I’ve tried to write many times, I’ve got no argument with what you are saying.
                Pete: “Why are you seeking to avoid the basic principles of criminal justice, and why do I have to explain them to you ?”
                I’m not, as I’ve tried to say, “let’s imagine Sogyal Rinpoche meets justice and the Rigpa Organization disbands.” Now what…life goes on, what prevents this from happening again, and again, and again?
                Pete: “What makes you uncomfortable here and why do you insist on this notion of equal standing when it’s so patently false and irrelevant to the issue of criminal abuse?”
                I’m not insisting on equal standing. You are misunderstanding what I’m saying. I’m trying to look at the source of the problem. The source of the problem may be something we share with those in power.
                What I’m saying is that if you get the things you want, Rinpoche in prison, the Rigpa Organization disbanded, and even all of Tibetan Buddhism destroyed or ignored, nothing fundamental will have changed. This is actually the case in Tibet and not much seems to be going on there that is more positive than before the destruction of religion there.
                You are looking at the result, which I’m NOT arguing with to any significant degree. I’m asking if we can ALSO focus on the source.
                If we created something negative (and there is no doubt WE helped create the organization) perhaps it is important to tear it down (no disagreement) but it seems also crucial to understand what happened and approach that question with a radically open mind.
                This isn’t meant to negate what you are saying, but to ADD TO what you are saying.
                Please remember, I’ve lived on the receiving end of abuse in my family for many years. I was shamed and humiliated within the Rigpa Organization, so, it isn’t I want some abuse to continue. I want us to create an environment where it doesn’t occur again.

                1. I agree, until we uncover how we keep creating these situations together they will keep arising. It’s of limited use to vilify the perpetrators, YES hold them accountable, but stop imagining they are magical beings able to force us to play along.

                2. @ Rick New
                  Ok, if you say so, I seem to be constantly misunderstanding what you say, but I don’t want to try and create any kind of environment at all.

        2. @Rick New
          “the pressure to conform” is lurking almost everywhere in society, I would agree on that.
          Even among the nonconformists there are elements to agree upon with some kind of uniformity, be it in regards to outfit, behaviour or philosophy.
          The fight for individuals seems to be endlessly if they want to resist against such pressures.
          Sometimes I just decide to ignore the pressure to conform and be just like I want to. If that results in letting other people also having their way (as long as they don’t harm anyone) that brings almost something close to a relaxed atmosphere,
          I have never seen that it really worked out trying to pressure people into something they don’t want. That could only have short term “success”.

  8. Though RIGPA and its Leader is not (yet) standing in court, it is easy to judge RIGPA just by its function and appearance. The article of Thalia Newland sheds a lot of light on this matter. A slightly different modell of criteria I developed some years ago, to help people involved to think more on their relation with a Teacher and/or Organisation.
    These criteria I organised in a so called Cult-Matrix, in which you can (scale) give points on every level, and make your own conclusions afterwards, in how far this is a cult. I did not find in my own experience 100 % cults, though I know they do exist.
    1. On the Leader
    Is a leader chosen by an open and/or democratic procedure, or is the leader self-appointed, e.g. by education, training and/or descent
    2. On the Teachings
    Are the teachings empirical, scientific and not-secret developed or are these based upon transmission, transferration and need believing, assumptions, surrender and are secret upon a certain level or on all levels
    3. On the Norms Values and Rules
    Are these open, negotiable and on basis of agreement or are these determined by the Leaders, the Teachings and the Organisation, needs it acceptance and surrender (dedication, vows?!)
    4. On the Participation
    This is open, free accesible, no ballotage, or is it invitational, are there levels, classifications, circles and secret sections. Are there sanctions upon leaving – inherent the teachings or applied by the organisation
    5. On Influence on the Organisation
    Can you influence the oirganisation on every level, or can you have influence on the organisation on no level at all
    6. On the Organsiation and its Purpose
    Is the core of the organisation for education and benefit of all people and society or is the core directed to benefit a few more then others.
    These six criteria usually supply enough fuel to discriminate and help a critical process of reflection. Applied to the teacher only it might need some small extra’s, concerning behaviour and that includes
    communication in- and outside.
    I did apply this matrix to a number of Teachers/Schools and Organisations. Some came out as being not so bad, say lightly, others as quite heavy and with some or a lot of shades of darkness.

    1. Yes and under this criteria, most businesses are totalitarian.
      My early and continued surprise in the Rigpa Organization was just how much it ran like a traditional business. In the early days, this was pretty shocking to me as I expected something different and more creative.
      If I’d wanted to participate in a business, I could have attempted to climb the corporate ladder. Reconciling this conventional approach with the unconventional dharma stories was impossible. I was and am, still surprised that fellow sangha members accept this approach so readily.

      1. Hi Rick, may I change your first line: most businesses are “top down”. From my professional experience I cannot agree with your statement that they are “ totalitarian” . Unfortunately Rigpa is not at all run as a professional enterprise should be managed. I’m tempted to make a list with differences but I would appreciate if you don’t require that and would take my word for it. Perhaps there are some croocked companies run like Rigpa, but they should not be used as an example for good business practices.

        1. @ GlückaufRezept
          Yes, “top down” is good and I agree there can be companies run with good business practices. Thanks for challenging that.

    2. @ Eckart Dissen
      Your Cult Matrix is excellent, I think it should be sent to everyone on the Rigpa mailing list, so they can make a balanced judgement before sending their testimonials back.

  9. great article, the criteria of totalitarian structures, patterns and leaderships have been brillantly laid out.
    someone hand me the boxing gloves, please !!! i am ready to scalp them once and for all 😮

      1. o dear, … of course, I do not intend to fight against this blogpost, but against the totalitarian structures !!!
        time, to stop rambling here, I guess.
        anyway, great article, thanks for publishing.

  10. Can a cult be changed, is that realistic? A cult has deep roots in an organisation. Is it perhaps better to assemble that section of members that want to have the same organisation but without the stuff that has caused Rigpa to be a cult and to let that grow to become what we – and I mean WE – want it to become ( so buttom up is stead of top down) ?

    1. Yes, but once you give that kind of approach a try, you see the real difficulties are in us. It takes a lot of work to get this kind of different approach to function, but it is possible and I think especially for those who practice meditation.
      “Some time ago there was an anthropologist who lived for a long while with a North American tribe. It was a small group of about this size. The hunter-gatherers have typically lived in groups of twenty to forty. Agricultural group units are much larger.
      Now, from time to time that tribe met like this in a circle. They just talked and talked and talked,apparently to no purpose. They made no decisions. There was no leader. And everybody could participate. There may have been wise men or wise women who were listened to a bit more – the older ones – but everybody could talk. The meeting went on, until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed.
      Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do, because they understood each other so well. Then they could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things.”

      1. That is very Intersting! How would that translate to us? Something like
        – we bring every body who (definition e.g. was in Rigpa or would like to join Rigpa and who wishes no ties to the past exept for the Dharma, perhaps even Nyingma, etc.etc ) together op a vertual platform, could be a blog, could be FB to start with
        – locally people could easily and freely meet, to meditate or just to talk, or to do whatever the want, just like a Sangha
        – in due time ideas concerning leadership, organisation structure, funds etc can come from it, but there is no hurry.
        The big advantages would be:
        – not just “talk” but also “do”
        – creating a structure for the opportunity of a new Rigpa
        – low investment, organic growth and maintanance
        – organizational recognition of a new direction for the new Ripa.
        – memebers don’t have to decide to leave the old Rigpa, they can do both if they do not have the courrage yet to completely abandon the old Rigpa.
        – it would perhaps even set a standard for modern Buddhist organisations and drain the power of feudal traditions
        – the organisation could do cherrypicking concerning their spiritual teachers.
        These are just some brainstorming lines, certainly not complete. May I invite you all to fill in? ( dear moderator: if this thread is not appropriate for this topic, please tell and perhaps we can – if you would agree, start this discussion elsewhere on the blog. Thank you )

        1. Out of all your good ideas, one that stood out for me was, “[don’t have to decide to leave the old Rigpa, they can do both…” It is simple and doesn’t require much initial change.
          I’d always envisioned this kind of circle(s) as the center of the Rigpa Organization.
          The place where everyone, whatever their level of authority (including the teacher) etc, could speak equally. Where we all come to gather, speak and listen. If a gathering like this was treated seriously, things would change over time.

            1. We could just begin by meeting up via Skype or Hangouts and start practicing dialogue together, see where it takes us, and report back. The focus would be the online or ideally, face-to-face. The blog could mainly be a reporting place, sharing what happens. Or some other approach…?
              David Bohm’s work on Dialogue could be a good place to start.
              “A basic notion for a dialogue would be for people to sit in a circle. Such a geometric arrangement doesn’t favour anybody; it allows for direct communication. In principle, the dialogue should work without any leader and without any agenda. Of course, we are used to leaders and agendas, so if we were to start a meeting here without a leader – start talking and have no agenda, no purpose – I think we would find a great deal of anxiety in not knowing what to do.
              Thus one of the things would be to work through that anxiety, to face it. In fact, we know by experience that if people do this for an hour or two they do get through it and start to talk more freely.”

                1. A time and communication system? Time zone? Skype, Hangouts?
                  I’m on CT in the U.S. Hangouts is easy for me, but can also do Skype.

  11. This could not be clearer, and was posted on Facebook yesterday, by DJKR’s cousin. Essentially Nyingma lamas need to have absolute power, even to kill, free of any criticism, checks or scrutiny. It even has the irony of criticizing those who criticize this attitude.
    Hands up if you agree, because I have another friend who is a recognized tulku, and he wants all your money and access to your daughters.
    Another copy is here:

    1. Yes, here we are being told – again- what is right and wrong, how and what to see and think – absurd!
      It’s just incredibly arrogant and patronizing.
      I’m afraid that these Lamas need to realise we will not be abused and subjugated, nor will we shut up and go away.
      Really, it’s astonishing to see these medieval views put forth with so much hubris. And in the name of love…

  12. The topic “what is a cult” has always been kind of interesting for me, because I am interested in the dynamics and psychological processes in groups.
    Also thanks to @Lola for reminding me of the “Wave” which was quite an amazing experiment. As well as the “Milgrim” experiment and the “Stanford Prison” experience, they are also very telling about behaviour in groups and it’s sometimes frightening to ask myself how I would have reacted in such environments.
    Today I found this video about cult witnesses and it’s very rare that a cult leader ever admits that he got carried away by the idea of his own grandiosity. At least I did not ever hear of it before.
    Minute 12:30 he is giving an interview.

    Sorry, if this does not relate to your experiences in Rigpa, as it is a completely different frame and setting.

    1. OMG, the movies!!! SL didn’t make you apologize if you gave him a movie he didn’t like but he’d express such a sense of disappointment if he didn’t like it, like it was your own personal failing for not being able to read his mind. He’d call me at all hours of the night, usually after midnight my time, just to ask about movies and TV series. He is COMPLETELY ADDICTED to distraction. It’s so tragic that people imagine him studying and practicing when in fact most of the time he’s watching TV, eating, going out to eat, getting a massage, or at a movie. I remember one time when everyone was practicing madly in LL, 16 hours at a time imagining sl was up in his chalet deep in practice. I was called to a meeting and we all had to sit around while he finished watching an episode of I Dream Of Jeannie!!!! You simply can’t make this stuff up…

      1. Maybe he was hoping to get some tips on siddhis from Jeannie. Or, more worryingly, maybe on the master/servant relationship. No you can’t make it up NSH and it is truly shocking.

        1. This only goes to show the wide gulf between imagination, (the guru meditating on renunciation in a state of deep reflection), vs. reality, (the “guru” watching TV and binge eating, and complaining when someone gives him a video he doesn’t like, like a spoiled kid). The moral? Don’t worship human beings. I have discovered that most of my heroes turn out to have clay feet, whether they are lamas, celebrities, or so-called “heroes” of history. How many times do people have to find out that there is no such thing as a perfect human? They all have clay feet…if you get close enough. That’s where the old saying comes from….”don’t get too close to the guru.” I’ve fallen into the trap of guru worship too, so I am not criticizing those who have fallen into that situation. But it’s a lesson we can all learn.

  13. Just an FYI for folks here is that I have an Olive Branch session scheduled next Thursday. I’ll report back my experience here if anyone is interested.

  14. I would like to clarify something that I wrote on January 8, 2018.
    I wrote, “If Rigpa’s visiting Tibetan teachers remain silent while they teach at Rigpa, they should know that they are implicitly endorsing Sogyal, as it is widely known that Rigpa is synonymous with Sogyal’s activities.”
    What I meant is that it is impossible to completely separate Rigpa from Sogyal, as it was all of the way back in 1979 that he himself chose the name “Rigpa” for his work. Therefore, after forty years of his work, many Westerners now believe that Rigpa is synonymous with his activities.
    That is why, if Rigpa’s visiting Tibetan teachers have actually heard about the allegations against Sogyal, and they continue to remain silent while they teach at any Rigpa centre or event, they must understand that many Westerners will naturally presume that their presence at Rigpa is an implicit endorsement of Sogyal, whether these Tibetan teachers are knowingly implicitly endorsing him or not.
    If these teachers do not fully appreciate the Western cultural understanding of implicit endorsement, it is incumbent upon Westerners to inform them, rather than speaking harshly behind their backs.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a visiting Tibetan teacher’s decision of accepting an invite to teach at Rigpa. What they have taught over the years at Rigpa has benefitted so many students. And I’ve no doubt that many of these students may never have met some of these Tibetan teachers if Rigpa did not exist in the eighties and nineties, as Rigpa served as a conduit for them to come to the West.
    I will never go on a witch hunt and start to condemn Rigpa’s visiting Tibetan teachers who remain silent. I admit, I am a westerner, and I want all of these teachers to publicly criticise Sogyal for what he did, but if I ‘expect’ them to, then I’m not thoroughly understanding the totality of our cultural differences.
    I lived in Asian Buddhist countries for over twenty years, and I came up against huge cultural differences between the social norms of East and West, and therefore I will never be blindly cynical and turn the silence of the Tibetan teachers into a conspiracy theory and use it to attack Tibetan Buddhism, which unfortuately I have seen some Westerners now do. Just because they may remain silent, it does not mean that they condone abuse of any kind.
    I am so very grateful for what Rigpa’s visiting Tibetan teachers have taught me over the years. And I will continue to study and practice it everyday. It would be utterly absurd to throw away authentic medicine when I am sick, just because authentic doctors gave it to me in a hospital which was owned by an unethical person.
    Anyway, we are now in the year 2018 – Tibetan Buddhism is so accessible nowadays. We no longer have to go through Rigpa to meet authentic Tibetan teachers.
    I will continue to study and practice Tibetan Buddhism. But from now on, I simply will no longer go through Sogyal and Rigpa. I fully acknowledge the benefit that Sogyal and Rigpa have brought me, and I am very grateful to them for making Tibetan Buddhism so accessible in the early years. But I also have to acknowledge the serious harm that they have inflicted on people and on the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Unless they stand up, admit, and apologise for what they did, I will continue refrain from attending their centres or events. But I will never refrain from the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism itself.

  15. @Margie
    What cultural differences between east and west are you referring to, which could explain why they remain silent.

  16. @ Margie
    I know you’ve already taken the trouble to explain in depth, but If you don’t mind my asking, what brought about this change of opinion? Because you seem to have qualified your previous statement by now absolving the visiting lamas of any moral responsibility at all for endorsing an abuser because they might have done some good at the same time.
    Apologies if you think that’s a superfluous question, I’ll totally understand if you don’t want to reply.

  17. Many scholars avoid speaking of “cults” in the pejorative sense, and instead refer to “New Religious Movements” (on analogy with New Social Movements, although technically speaking, a single organization is not a “movement”). J. Gordon Melton would be an example–he says a “cult” is “a religion I don’t like.” On the other side are the “cultic studies” scholars who deal with the practical reality that some religious groups really are objectively worse than others, and are the sources for these lists of “cult” criteria. I would say the first approach predominates in the USA (which is known for its robust freedom-of-religion laws), and the second in Europe, where “cults” are often called “sects” or the equivalent (and are sometimes the target of legislation).
    The “cultic studies” people sometimes accuse the NRM people of ingratiating themselves with the cults they study for the sake of continued access. Meanwhile, the NRM people tend to treat the “anti-cult movement” as a religious phenomenon in its own right, to be studied rather than debated or reasoned with, and treat “apostate narratives” with special caution (think of 19th-century anti-Catholic pseudo-exposes).

  18. @beidawei
    Interesting comment, particularly: ” J. Gordon Melton would be an example–he says a “cult” is “a religion I don’t like.”
    This made me laugh…..because I don’t like any religion and I think they’re all basically cults to some degree, so he was right. Luckily I’m not an academic so I don’t have to worry about offending anyone.
    I spent some time discussing this with a professional ‘de-programmer’ from the USA, who helped rescue and psychologically re-orient cult members.
    His rather disturbing conclusion was that any group of three or more people contained the potential for cult-like behaviour. This may have been facetious but not entirely.

    1. @ Pete Cowell
      “His rather disturbing conclusion was that any group of three or more people contained the potential for cult-like behaviour.”
      Yes. And we can see that potential emerge in any small group, including right here..
      By understanding that potential together, we might have some chance of not repeating this situation.
      Getting caught by content and focussing primarily on others, is one property of igniting the potential for cult like behavior. Us and others, is part of any cult.
      Seeing cult-like behaviour in action, and understanding its properties, helps prevent it. Like a mechanic who looks for the source of the problem and watches it occur so he can properly remedy the situation. This is what Deleuze is trying to say, it is easy to oppose fascism, but much harder to see and work with our own fascism.

      1. @veggiegirl
        I think it’s got a lot to do with it, and it can help us understand that what happened to us isn’t anything outside the range of common human behaviour, but just a weird inflated version of it, nicely dressed up and perfumed by incense.

      2. @Rick New
        Ok……but I don’t think there’s much chance of this blog becoming a cult because there’s no money, sex or power in it is there? ( My attention wanders sometimes….have I missed something here? )
        My wife says please go easy on the Deleuze, she attended a lecture of his on ‘The Rhizome’ at The University of Vincennes in Paris…..all the rage in fashionable intellectual circles at the time.
        Her typically acid, Parisian comment: ( loose translation by me ) ” Mostly a mixture of unintelligible gibberish and pretentious bullshit….no wonder he threw himself out of a window.”
        I think the millions who have opposed, fought and died at the hands of actual fascists probably wouldn’t agree with him either.

        1. @Pete Cowell
          Thanks for your reply.
          > Ok……but I don’t think there’s much chance of this blog becoming a cult because there’s no money, sex or power in it is there?
          “His rather disturbing conclusion was that any group of three or more people contained the potential for cult-like behaviour.”
          Your friend did not seem to set those preconditions?
          Perhaps our cult behavior begins with an attitude?
          As Deleuze wrote on Spinoza, ” In the Ethics, it is in opposition to what Spinoza calls satire; and satire is everything that takes pleasure in the powerlessness and distress of men, everything that feeds on accusations, on malice, on belittlement, on low interpretations, everything that breaks men’s spirits (the tyrant needs broken spirits, just as broken spirits need a tyrant).

          1. @ Rick New
            Deleuze as he so often did, was talking out of his arse: satire is one weapon against tyrants because they hate and fear ridicule. Spirits are broken by tyranny not satire, they don’t ‘need’ it at all, that’s just incoherent nonsense.
            I love satire.

  19. @ Pete Cowell
    I never suggested a “moral responsibility” of any of Rigpa’s visiting Tibetan teachers. I also never suggested that they had “knowingly” implicitly endorsed Sogyal.
    The reason why I elaborated on my opinion, is that I’ve witnessed one or two people who seem to be blurring the lines between Sogyal’s abuse and the framework of Tibetan Buddhism itself, as if suggesting that the framework of Tibetan Buddhism gives carte blanche to Tibetan teachers to behave in any way that they want without being questioned.
    While everybody is weathering this storm, it is crucial that we must not blur the lines between an individual’s behaviour and the entirety of the framework from which they operate.
    Nobody is denying that a few bad apples have infiltrated the structure of Tibetan Buddhism throughout history. But to be blindly cynical, and to taint everybody who operates from the same structure with the same brush, is just utterly absurd. These bad apples represent a tiny, tiny minority of the many millions of the past and present Tibetan Buddhists who have not only supported this structure, but who’ve reaped great benefit from practising Tibetan Buddhism itself.
    To help explain this, if I may use the rather coarse analogy of football. I remember that in the 1980’s the whole world thought that most of England’s football fans were crazy hooligans, because the world’s media would always zone in on this tiny minority’s violent behaviour, while completely ignoring the majority of England’s ethical football fans who just wanted to watch a game of football.
    I’ve been around Tibetan Buddhism since the 1970’s and I have met the most inspirational people that I’ve ever encountered in my life. It is absolutely absurd to think that some bad apples could even taint these extraordinary beings or the structure from which they operate.
    I just want to clarify two cultural differences that some Westerners may be unaware of:
    1. Just because some Asians refrain from speaking out, it does not equate to them condoning abuse of any kind. I’ve no doubt that some of these ‘silent’ Asians talk behind closed doors though. Some Westerners, on the the other hand, not only speak out, they shout out from every rooftop!
    2. Many Asians are brought up with the teaching on karma, and therefore they accept it, and live by it, much more so than the average Westerner does. A natural byproduct of this understanding is that sometimes some Asians may choose to remain silent, with the understanding that karmic aftermath naturally sorts everything out. But they continue to remain silent with compassion for both the perpetrator and the victim. While most Westerners, on the other hand, see this approach to be far too passive, and instead take the compassion in action approach by speaking out.
    I understand that it is very difficult for most Westerners to fully appreciate how deep these cultural differences are. I lived in Asian Buddhist countries for over twenty years, and for the first few I ran into many problems with my loud Western expectations. Eventually, however, I accepted that some Asians have a more silent and passive, but just as compassionate way of dealing with things, which sooner or later, pans out to a satisfactory conclusion.

    1. Then how come there are no Unitarian Universalist cult leaders? I think you have not only underestimated the number of bad apples, but overlooked larger structural and cultural problems that have allowed this behavior to flourish for so long. Do you honestly think this wasn’t as much of a problem in old Tibet, or present-day Bhutan?

    2. @ Margie,
      Thanks for your considered and detailed response.
      I can see that it means a great deal to you to keep practising and retain your belief in what you see as the essentially benign nature of Tibetan Buddhism and the people who promote it.
      To me you seem to have almost reversed you position, but perhaps I misunderstood what it was. Anyway, I’m guessing you probably don’t want to become involved in a long discussion with me about this.
      The only point I’ll raise is this: because the entire practice of Tibetan Buddhism is wholly based on Guru-yoga: unconditional devotion to the teacher no matter what he does, and there are absolutely no internal checks, balances or sanctions of any kind.
      So your denial that ” the framework of Tibetan Buddhism gives carte blanche to Tibetan teachers to behave in any way that they want without being questioned.” is demonstrably wrong even on a basic scriptural level, and on a material level, there’s now a large amount of evidence to prove it is exactly that, of which Sogyal is just a small part.
      But as long as your views make sense to you and you’re able to reconcile yourself with this, and you personally are not affected by it then obviously for you, that’s the main thing.
      I hope you won’t be disappointed.

      1. @ Pete Cowell
        Pete, again, please let me reiterate.
        I have not changed my position, I have merely elaborated on it, as I’ve witnessed one or two people who seem to be blurring the lines between Sogyal’s abuse and the framework of Tibetan Buddhism itself, as if suggesting that the framework of Tibetan Buddhism gives carte blanche to Tibetan teachers to behave in any way that they want without being questioned. I believe it is absolutely crucial that we must not blur the lines between an individual’s behaviour and the entirety of the framework from which they operate.
        As for guru-yoga, which by the way is not even found throughout all Tibetan Buddhist practices, I wholeheartedly disagree with your radical assertion: “The entire practice of Tibetan Buddhism is wholly based on Guru-yoga: unconditional devotion to the teacher no matter what he does”.
        With the greatest respect, Pete, as I do not know you or your background of Tibetan Buddhist study and practice, I can only go by what you write. I’m guessing that the reason why a noticeable proportion of your focus seems to be based on cynicism and contempt for Tibetan Buddhism, is because you might not even be a practitioner of Buddhism per se. Apologies if I’m wrong, but it does seem that way, as the practitioners that I know have an immense amount of gratitude towards authentic traditions, due to the life-changing benefit that they’ve reaped from them.
        Anyway, rather than digressing from the main topic of this blog’s thread, by becoming involved in a discussion on guru-yoga, I will merely recommned that you read “Relating to a Spiritual Teacher: Building a Healthy Relationship” by Dr Alexander Berzin. Dr Berzin is one of the West’s foremost scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, and his book clears away the West’s misconceptions about this incredibly profound practice. It has been very well received by many of the West’s practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, and you too can read it here:

        1. @ Margie
          Thanks for your reply Margie.
          You’re right: I’m not a practitioner and I am cynical about Tibetan Buddhism, but that might not entirely disqualify me from having an opinion.
          Contempt is another matter. Such contempt as I do have, is reserved exclusively for people who use Buddhism to abuse and exploit others or back up those who do, either by explicitly or implicitly endorsing them ( which I appear to have misunderstood you as saying,) threatening their students with hellish rebirth or using sophistry to justify the abuse. Sadly, that’s now quite a long list.
          Without a guru you could do Mahayana practices, but since every practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism I’ve ever met practises Vajrayana, and lamas teach mostly this, then Vajrayana is what I was referring to. I would have thought that was a given.
          I’m sure you know as well as I do that Vajrayana can’t be practised at all without a guru, and without unconditional devotion, progress is traditionally said to be impossible.
          I can barely remember it now, but somewhere in ‘The Jewel Ornament of Liberation’ it says that even a great pandit who knew everything there was to know about the Dharma would make no progress on the path without unconditional devotion…….this essential devotion is unarguably a recipe for abuse. And as I said there are no checks, balances or sanctions whatsoever.
          Of course in these post-scandal times the Dalai Lama and others now qualify this with reassuring explanations about discernment, unqualified gurus and so on, but since he turned up at Lerab Ling twice and wrote the foreword to Sogyal’s book, while knowing full well that he was one of these unqualified, abusive gurus, all I can hear is the deafening, hypocritical sound of stable doors shutting.
          People talk of all the “great benefit”, but what they mean is that they had some nice mental experiences, were entertained and got an off-the-peg evidence-free world view that they found soothing. I never noticed any dramatic transformations in anyone. Most of us stayed the same, some even got slightly worse. Everyone got much busier.
          If Tibetan Buddhism was truly capable of conferring real tangible benefits on society then Tibetan society itself would never have remained a backward, brutal feudal theocracy for centuries.
          So for me, these benefits, for students at least, are individual and subjective and don’t amount to much. For the lamas they’re much more tangible of course.
          Then there’s also the considerable amount of damage done to set against that. “Life changing” perhaps, but for all the victims, nothing beneficial about it. I won’t even start on child abuse in monasteries…..
          I’m familiar with Berzin, ( whose writing I found tedious and verbose even when I was a practitioner, ) but his supposedly Buddhist perspective of using “sutra-level guru meditation” to heal abuse victims is suspect if not plain stupid.
          “……abuse victims need to see clearly how the situations arose dependently on causes and conditions. The process parallels the conclusion reached in guru-meditation by deconstructing the deceptive appearances that one’s mind projects concerning how one’s mentor exists with his or her faults.”
          ……..“Deceptive appearances “ eh? Questioning the reality of their experience is certainly going to help psychologically fragile victims of abuse. That’s quite creepy stuff.
          Incidentally, as a little background: I started in ’79 and spent 15 years as a practitioner, one of the original close students of Sogyal, I was his main builder and chopon, ( ritual attendant ) and I had traditional teachings and empowerments starting with Dudjom Rinpoche and then a very long list of others too numerous to mention. In terms of “foremost scholars,” Alak Zenkar Rinpoche lived with my wife and myself for around the last 5 years, and we spent hours with him almost every day, so I’m slightly familiar with some aspects of Tibetan Buddhism myself, but of course, it’s entirely possible that your knowledge of it is much greater than mine.
          Anyway, your position obviously suits you personally, so I won’t presume to question it again.

          1. @ Pete Cowell
            You seem perturbed.
            Moreover, in your attempt to coverup your lack of understanding of the fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism, you have inadvertently shown an even greater lack of it, by relaying your very confused presumptions about Buddhist practitioners, and of their practices found within sutra, tantra, and dzogchen.
            By the way, you either obviously did not read Dr Berzin’s book which I sent you, or you’re behaving like a tabloid journalist, who has cherry picked a fragment of a paragraph out, thereby ripping it out of context in order to deliberately mislead the reader. If the reader looks at the whole chapter, or moreover, the whole book, they would understand the absolute opposite of you want them to believe.
            Pete, as it seems that you have left more comments than anybody else throughout this entire “What Now?” blog, it leaves me, and no doubt others, questioning whether you might have a hidden agenda. I accept that you share our view about Sogyal having abused his students, but it seems that you are also using this blog to further your personal crusade against Tibetan Buddhism.
            It is for this reason that I no longer wish to engage in any further dialogue with you on this blog.

  20. @Pete Cowell
    “any group of three or more people contained the potential for cult-like behaviour”..that’s an interesting conclusion of that “de-programmer” from the USA.
    I have heard the conclusion of a person who suffered from abuse in their personal environment and they described the situation with that abuser as a “one-on-one-cult”, because in this relationship there was one “master” and one “servant”…
    In general I think there is a risk in any group to adapt rigid, onesided, authoritarian rules and behaviours.
    A great example is in literature, for example in “Lord of the Flies” from William Golding where he describes how such a cult-like group can develop – the great thing is that he narrates the story without ever even mentioning the terms “cult”, “hierarchy”, “totalitarian” etc. He just paints the picture.
    He just describes what might lead to such situations: lack of orientation, abandonment, missing “education” and love (no mothers, no fathers – not even as internalised instances), fear, anger and the vital desire to belong to a group of peers.
    The devision of the group into two, with one party becoming more and more irrational, threatening and even violent culminates in the death of one of the kids who is killed for being a scapegoat or traitor – as far as I remember.
    What has this story to do with what has been discussed in this thread? Probably nothing, it just came into my mind.

    1. The story that you talk about reminds me of what happened in a village, for example, when a murder or a crime have occurred.
      People desperately looked for a solution, they wanted the criminal or murderer to be found and punished as soon as possible. That is understandable, because they wanted the criminal to be stopped, potential victims to be protected and make sure that the criminal is punished, secondarily because such anti-social, criminal behaviour has to be punished in a community in order for it not to become a destructive role-model.
      Then when the perpetrator could not be found and arrested by the police, people got worried, afraid and angry.
      So they would rather accept any other “suspected” person being arrested and sentenced to jail (or even to death) than having no culprit at all. Even if the other person did not commit the crimes, people tended to accept him as kind of substitute for the real perpetrator. They “wanted” to believe that he was guilty.
      It seems to be kind of social instinct that longs for justice being served, even if the wrong person ends up in jail.

    2. @veggiegirl
      This situation in Lord of the Flies also reminds me of the situation in a village after a crime had been committed. People were traumatised and desperately wanted to protect themselves and their loved ones.
      So when the police could not get hold of the criminal, people got very upset. In a social community it is of course essential that crimes are punished and a perpetrator gets the punishment he deserves, so that potential future victims are protected and people know that the perpetrator has been convicted.
      Now when the criminal cannot be found, people would rather accept any other „suspected“ person to be sentenced to jail (or whatever verdict would be suitable) than having no perpetrator and no punishment at all – even if the other person did not commit the crime.
      It seems to be a social instinct that longs for justice being served, even if the wrong person has to sit in jail.
      It is similar (by proxy) when someone wants to pick a fight (maybe he got mad about something else or has been annoyed or treated badly by another person) and now he is not able to confront that other person or situation directly (for whatever reason), then he or she might let out his or her anger on any person coming along – if they do not reflect their behavior and are able to process anger in more healthy ways, e.g. in sports, dancing or any other creative activities.
      Instead, some people enjoy arguing, for example in the pub or at home, about any given topic and some enjoy to act out verbally, even if it is “only” by typing words into a computer and competing with a virtual conversation partner. Some even become abusive and feel no shame about it, because in their mind “the other person has started the argument”. The “other person” does not deserve any respect or “understanding”, no, they deserve to be verbally abused, because they had the nerve to reply to their online-comment or their statement and express a different opinion!
      So for some people entering into a discussion seems to justify verbal abuse. Following that logic the mistake would be to reply at all, in the first place, in order to avoid such abuse. That means, to NOT reply can be a self-protective and intelligent solution, sometimes.

      1. @moderators of the blog
        Excuse me, there has obviously been a double-posting. I did not see my comment on your page and therefore posted it again. Please just deleteit. Thank you.

      2. Thanks for the post.
        “The “other person” does not deserve any respect or “understanding”, no, they deserve to be verbally abused, because they had the nerve to reply to their online-comment or their statement and express a different opinion!”
        Yes,online dialogue is tricky, especially talking about matters that are so important to each other.
        Listening to one another is the most difficult challenge of all.
        Tyrants and bullies exist in all kinds of subtle forms. Thanks for reminding me that not replying is often the best response.

        1. Actually I don’t really know, if it is “often the best response” to NOT reply to a bully, but sometimes it seems to be efficient, at least online.
          It is a completely other thing in personal, face-to-face encounters where it is better to react in a self-protective stance without defending oneself overly.
          But I agree, I have met situations and people where it has been a very, very good decision to turn around and leave for good, before things escalate.
          One thing I would not endorse and that is not reacting in a kind of passive aggressive attitude, blocking other people who just want to be sociable, communicating or friendly.
          So some discernment is needed, come common sense or “horse sense” and maybe some intuition, too.

          1. Hello Rick New
            Excuse me, that comment ended up in the wrong column, starting with “Actually I don’t really know, if it is “often the best response” to NOT reply..”.

    @ Everyone
    This is to let you know that the defamation claim for referring to Lerab Ling as a cult, against the lawyer who is collecting testimony from victims of Sogyal’s abuse is going ahead ver soon .
    What’s needed now is for anyone who has been to Lerab Ling and has experienced or witnessed any negative effects as a result, should, if they wish, describe them in written form and send them, dated, signed and scanned to Jean-Baptiste Cesbron at the following email address as soon as possible as it’s a matter of urgency now before the case is heard: Please include a scan of your ID
    Even though some of you may have already sent testimony to Commandant Carbonneaux or to the Charity Commissioner, it’s essential that anyone who wishes to do so, send their additional testimony relating to Lerab Ling since the site was purchased and taken over by Rigpa.
    This relates specifically to the issue of whether it’s a cult, but it’s not considered acceptable practice for this request to include any specific guidelines ( as Rigpa has done in soliciting testimony to support their case.) But this is a very important opportunity, so please feel free to be as wide ranging and detailed as you think appropriate.

  22. @Pete Cowell
    Longtime mate! I am interested in whether you (and or Mary Finnegan) think our generation (pre Rigpa Princess rd orgyen cho ling London, late 70s etc) should come forward with formal statements and whether it would be useful. We were de facto “inner” group because there wasn’t an outer group and we “saw it all” as far as SL and sexual abuse goes. It might seems like unwholesome archeo-forensics after all this time, but maybe it would helpful to those trying to navigate this current iteration …just wondering out loud. No need to say more…If you were there back in the day you know who you are and of what I speak.
    Hope all is well with you and D, JT

    1. @ jonno
      Hello, what an amazing surprise! We were talking about you just yesterday, wondering what you were up to and whether you were following these…..err…..fascinating developments.
      Yes, I’d say everything is useful, especially from someone with your experience and perspective.
      “Unwholesome archeo-forensics” it certainly is for us too, but it seems to be helpful. We always said we’d take an opportunity to try and shed light into the crepuscular world of Tibetan Buddhism if it presented itself…..and it did. Long story.
      We must get in touch, go to the facebook page: Michelle Desmoulins, ( another slightly shorter story) with the photo of a white wolf-dog.
      We’re fine, hope you’re well too.

  23. This is out of context now and probably irrelevant for all here but for my conscience and in the interests of fairness I just need to address some comments I made in another thread re the people in DKR sangha of Siddhartha’s Intent Australia.
    I did make a broad generalisation and it sounded a bit one sided. Obviously whilst I disagree with the behaviour, decisions and apparent attitude of some members of SIA, I don’t mean to imply that they are of bad intentions or ‘nasty’ people generally – just misguided and mistaken in their handling of the Lyme issue at the Gonpa.
    Also, despite the cool and vain demeanour of some sangha members, others are naturally very warm and were genuinely concerned about the disease and peoples’ well being.
    Apologies to anyone who felt unfairly misjudged by my comment.

    1. @Rose,
      I didn’t get the impression that you were demonizing people or making broad, or unfair generalizations. You were just telling it as it happened. I realize the situation was complicated and there are a lot of aspects to it, but I didn’t think you were being unfair.

  24. good evening, veggiepeace just let me know that a few hours ago she wanted to reply to one of the comments addressed to her, but her comment was not shown.
    she says that it’s a pity, but in hindsight she thinks that maybe the comment does not really contribute anything of importance concerning the topic of this blogpost.
    i agree with her on the thought that it’s time for us to say goodbye as we have not really been involved in this whole matter and have probably been interfering way too much.
    sorry if our comments have not been of great help, especially veggie is a bit sad as she says that she had some good intentions, but as we see it, well-meant is not always good. best wishes!

    1. @ gendungblog
      That’s a shame, you can be distant from something but able to understand it clearly, or closely involved and not understand it at all.
      I hope you both might reconsider at some stage.

      1. @hi Pete
        thanks for your reply. i agree on that. and as i see it, many people in this blog and on other platforms have understood clearly what is going on in a large scale:
        the people who stood up against abuse – and that’s many more than the eight students – get support and understanding from many people via social media.
        at the same time they are facing a smear campaign or defamation campaign for having allegedly destroyed the reputation of their master – while it is clear that he destroyed his reputation by himself and/or could not be prevented from it!
        anyone with a an open mind can recognise that the campaign against the eight signees of the letter seems to be a desperate attempt to weaken the statements of the people who stood up against abuse, to unbalance them, to unhinge them and maybe even make them look implausible or unreliable. this could also discourage other people to speak up, because it’s discouraging and frightening to see how they are meant to be ostracised.
        so they better do everything to keep their balance and protect themselves to not get victimised again.hopefully they find supporting resources in their personal environments.
        at the moment there is nothing we – as outsiders in cyberspace – could do about that, as far as i can see. everything has already been said from our part. of course we still support you people “silently”.
        i would like to encourage the “whistleblowers” and all other people who make statements to the french lawyer M. Cesbron to stand their ground and just tell the truth about what had happened to them. if any, it will release at least the burden of carrying that abuse around with them for a long time and prevent that it can continue unrecognised.

        1. @ gendungblog
          Thanks, it’s my experience that the more time that elapses after you leave, the more you realize what you’ve been involved in and the more reassured you feel that it was the right thing to do.
          I’m sure the 8 and others will be fine, they may get some shit from fanatics but they’ve escaped an abusive situation and so as long as they dont return, they’ve reached a safe point to move on from.
          And their courage has given others confidence to speak up as well. It was a remarkable thing to do.
          My concern is for people who are still vulnerable to abuse but may not even realize it.

  25. I just found a whole bunch of comments that had been automatically held back from being posted by the WordPress system. Some had even ended up in the trash for some weird reason. Anyway. I have approved them all now so any lost comments should now have appeared. I’ve changed the settings so that 2 links in a post should get past in future, but not more than 2 links. Sorry about that and thanks to the person who let me know that their comment didn’t get posted.
    They are all supposed to be posted straight away unless they have more than 2 links in them or are nonsense.

    1. @ moonfire
      Thanks for moderating again. Could you please delete one of my postings in the thread above? It repeats itself. That might make it exhausting for any reader to follow the thread of comments as it is an unnecessary repetition. Thanks for your work!

        1. Same with me, I do not understand why your question about moderation of this blog could not be answered. You probably should feel guilty for bothering them and for being so selfish.
          Please don’t, I think you did the right thing and I understand what you mean and where you’re coming from. Take care!

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