More Students Respond to Latest Plans from Rigpa: "Not Ready to Trust"

Not everyone is entirely pleased with the two letters received by the Rigpa Sangha on August 11, one announcing Sogyal Rinpoche’s resignation as a spiritual director of the organization, and the other explaining Rigpa’s plans for moving forward with an independent investigation of abuse allegations.
Some feel hesitant to trust, and others feel the matter goes beyond trust.
This long-time former student, expresses her hesitations after reading an optimistic post in the What Now? Facebook group, recently shared on this blog.

“Thank you for upholding such positive determination to move forward. Without exaggeration I can say that to me that the way you appear in this forum seems deep and genuinely balanced, respectful, discerning, goodhearted and very compassionate. It makes me able to naturally and genuinely rejoice in your positive outlook and will to move forward.

In my heart I don’t really see any division between people ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. Sometimes I see people ‘inside’ to be acting more harmful to Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa (even if their intention obviously is to ‘protect’ and ‘defend’) than some people ‘outside’ who respectfully have expressed concerns and pointed out action points to work towards establishing confidence and credibility and vice versa. There’s no black and white, and I think it’s impossible to really know and judge, what is inside other peoples’ heart.

One of the very most essential things I learnt from studying the Dharma is ‘Things/phenomena are never as they appear.’ Again and again I experience it to be true (and I get ‘hit’ by it whenever I forget), but it’s freeing for me because it lessens the power of getting too much caught up in hope and fear and also to go beyond ‘inside’-‘outside’.

I myself have not directly experienced harm or abuse but I think for people who have and who have also been traumatised over a period of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years it is very painful to see, that it is still the very same core people leading and speaking about these new steps/intention of changes, who have strongly been active in the covering up (while fully knowing about the issues) for more than 30 years. As several people have expressed, they have been more tough to deal with and taken as much part in the harm and traumatisation as have Sogyal Rinpoche.

So please forgive me and others who can’t as quickly jump into having such a clear positive outlook as you can. I do also think it really is a step in the right direction, but since this unhealthy ‘culture’ has been built up over more than 30 years, I think it will also take some time to become more confident that this change will really and genuinely spread from the core and out in the whole organisation without subtle underlying inferences of martyrdom, anger and/or blaming.

I am not writing this for you to change any stance (because I am really happy to be able to rejoice in your positive outlook and will to move forward and in my heart I would love for you to be completely right). I’ve never really used FB before because I’ve not found it especially enriching or beneficial to engage in. I love the What Now? forum and find it very meaningful. I think this forum will only become stronger and prove its credibility because we can have open and honest dialogues from different perspectives. So again a deep thanks and appreciation for all your sane, inspiring and compassionate contributions in this forum and for giving me this opportunity to have this dialogue with you. A heartfelt sense of gratitude to everybody in this forum for this possibility and learning from all the dialogues unfolding.”

Responding to the same post, another student says this isn’t a question of trust, and expresses her concerns about the neutrality of those currently in leadership positions.

“For me it isn’t a question of trust. If a person has been enabling abuse whilst in a role they must be removed from that role, e.g. resign or replaced, otherwise to me it reflects Rigpa as being a farcical! More importantly what message does it send to all the abuse victims! How can we we protect others from abuse if enablers are still holding roles? Frankly it is thoughtless, disrespectful and makes me angry. I feel there should be an independent inquiry like the child sex abuse Royal Commission here in Australia.”

While the reports of abuse remain allegations, the question still remains regarding the current leadership in Rigpa.  Confidence in them has waned for a significant segment of current and former Rigpa students.
Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Be sure to check out our resources page and the sangha care resources page.
More personal and private support for current and previous students of Rigpa can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite. Include a link to your Facebook profile or the email address you use on Facebook.

9 Replies to “More Students Respond to Latest Plans from Rigpa: "Not Ready to Trust"”

  1. I think it’s clear that those who have enabled and covered up the abuse for decades cannot remain at the head of the organisation if it is to regain public confidence. In the corporate world, when a scandal happens, the SEO would resign and so would anyone else culpable for the debacle. Otherwise the investors have no confidence in those running the business and they pull out.
    Here it is the students and other investors who must have confidence in their management, so those who have enabled the abuse and covered it up need to resign and turn the running of the organisation and of retreats over to others. There are plenty of people in Rigpa with the necessary skills.
    The botton line here is that anyone who sees abusive behaviour in a positive light should not be in positions of power in an organisation that needs to rid their organisation of abusive behaviour. That means that either a large shift in perspective needs to happen, or a lot of people need to resign. Rigpa would benefit from either, but for so long as one or other of those doesn’t happen, the unhealthy culture at the heart of this will remain, and people will not be confident in the organisation’s ability to actually do as it says it will. Only time will tell. I hope their choice of a third party is a good one.

  2. I am so glad about this post! You seem to be another me :-). This exactly what I feel and wanted to comment already to the first post. But it was promised to publish more and different posts and therefore I was waiting. Now I totally agree with this post! Thank you! I had a feeling to be the only one who is unable to see and listen to SR and not to have all the allegations in mind. I can not separate this. So I am now unable to follow the teachings from SR with an open heart.
    And I know that everyone in the inner circle has known it all the time. They explaint to the Sangha that they have no answers- this is quite clever. I guess they don´t have any but this is not the point!
    I was a member of R for only 3 to 4 years now. I met SR at the Winterberg retreats and I saw enough to know that the allegations are true. Therefore I left now with a deep disappointment and confusion about my own perception (always had a feelding that something is wrong – but the instructors were alway complaining the bad treatment would be a special blessing for them which they asked for!)

  3. I am happy with these comments and I agree. I cannot trust the inner circle and some Dzogchen mandala students who are also instructors. Some tried to persuade me after the letter of the eight students, that it was all about pure perception which I did not have. If many students cannot see it is all about abuse, the unhealthy atmosphere will remain or even become stronger because students who see it as abuse, will resign. Not much can happen, if the same long term students stay in power. Or maybe they got power because they were willing to close their eyes. Maybe really critical students did not get those positions because they would not agree with what was happening. I am still waiting for somebody at the top, who dares to say in public that people have been severely harmed by SL behaviour. I thought we had feminism in the West. Where are the people protesting against sexual abuse?
    I also do not see any videos of SL anymore although I benefited much from them. It reminds me too much of abuse. And I do not know anymore what is real dharma and what is manipulated to serve SL himself. I prefer to listen to other lamas.

  4. In working through the events of recent weeks, I am repeatedly drawn to read this:
    I have heard that at on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Vesali, in the Peaked Roof Hall in the Great Forest.
    Then Mahapajapati Gotami went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, stood to one side. As she was standing there she said to him: “It would be good, lord, if the Blessed One would teach me the Dhamma in brief such that, having heard the Dhamma from the Blessed One, I might dwell alone, secluded, heedful, ardent, & resolute.”
    “Gotami, the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead:
    to passion, not to dispassion;
    to being fettered, not to being unfettered;
    to accumulating, not to shedding;
    to self-aggrandizement, not to modesty;
    to discontent, not to contentment;
    to entanglement, not to seclusion;
    to laziness, not to aroused persistence;
    to being burdensome, not to being unburdensome’:
    You may categorically hold, ‘This is not the Dhamma, this is not the Vinaya, this is not the Teacher’s instruction.’
    “As for the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead:
    to dispassion, not to passion;
    to being unfettered, not to being fettered;
    to shedding, not to accumulating;
    to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement;
    to contentment, not to discontent;
    to seclusion, not to entanglement;
    to aroused persistence, not to laziness;
    to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome’:
    You may categorically hold, ‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.'”
    That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Mahapajapati Gotami delighted at his words.
    — AN 8.53

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