Today Sangye Ngawang shares the thought processs he went through to come to the conclusion that he had to get out of Rigpa. It’s a process that will be familiar to many. We are proabably all reticent to use the cult word initially, but using that term can also be helpful, something I talk about in the vlog that follows Sangye’s post.
1.There are cults, glad I’m not in one.
2. We are not a cult.
3. Who said we are a cult? Why would they say that?
4. What is a cult?
5. Okay, maybe we are a little cultish but that is to be expected with anything esoteric or counter-intuitive, Eastern. Cults ruined it for groups like us … only brave, open-minded people like me can benefit by taking a chance.
6. Hmm, I’m seeing more cultish evidence … it’s a bit challenging. When I try to talk to anyone I get mixed results, some quite scary.
7. There is a lot of double standards and suspicious stuff, and the group is training me to explain this to new people. Problem is … I’m not satisfied with the explanations. There doesn’t seem to be anyone above the people training me how to “represent Rigpa”. This “who is Rinpoche” stuff is a bit rich too.
8. I’m seeing disturbed people and they aren’t being really taken care of. They seem to be seeing psychologists and counsellors so there is that.
9. Okay – I thought people were supposed to be getting better, but some have run away and left with no explanation. It’s a little upsetting
10. Given what’s happening I’ll ask about some of these stories and allegations from people on the outside who are criticizing my teacher.
11. Nobody has really given me any proof, and now I can see that in the past this has come before the Dalai Lama for advice.
12. Okay, now I’m seeing things directly from my teacher that are just plain wrong. Why would he do that in front of me? Is this some kind of test? He keeps saying, “You only like it when your teacher is nice to you,” Well yeah, I kind of do. Nobody likes a shit sandwich.
13. Is there some kind of secret Lama school that is about putting disciples through all this crap? I’m getting unwell and so are others.
14. There are a lot of red flags. I’m back to reading a document on cult tactics … OMG, this is very much like my life.
15. I think I might stop listening to all these audio and video files for a while, just to decompress and observe my mind. I’m getting a little suspicious that this is a kind of cult programming – the language is off too. Words don’t mean what they should.
16. I don’t see how I can cope with all this work and people are telling me to take care of my health. I think I’d better start finding ways to get some holidays.
17. Okay, now I’ve seen another person come out and tell a story about being sexually harassed. There are photos – this looks terrible. It’s time to walk away.
18. I keep trying to walk away and getting commanded back – people tell me I might be mentally ill. I’ve always considered myself quite mentally healthy, but I have to agree – something isn’t right with me. Physical, emotional …
19. Hmm, apparently cults do all this overwork and people get sick and the symptoms I have are common. Nobody worries too much about nutrition either – it’s a bit of a grab what food you can. You have to beg to be well fed at times.
20. My interactions with the teacher are making me physically ill. He seems to be treating me like some kind of sub-human.
21. I’ve decided to leave – for real this time, but I’m going to take my time getting really prepared for a solid break away.
22. They aren’t happy about me leaving … it really is looking bad, like this is a cult. At least at the core.
23. Now I’m going to start talking to friends about this.
24. Jeez, some people who are leaving are telling me unbelievable things. How could I miss this for so long?
25. People on the inside are being used to try and love bomb, threaten, bribe and demand that I come see the teacher in person. I’m not going to comply.
26. Its clear people are talking about me now; they are saying bad things. So this is what cults really do, all this is written down.
27. Okay, so it’s definitely a cult, but how will I get others to see it?
28. Some people are super grateful to me for sharing what I know and they’re leaving. There’s talk about making some kind of group to help others who wonder “what now?”
Nice ending, Sangye! And we’re still asking What Now? Why are we still asking? Because unfortunately, this isn’t over. It won’t be over until there’s no possibility of abuse occuring in Tibetan Buddhism again. It won’t be over until the lamas realise that we won’t stand for it, that saying that silence and obedience is vajrayana isn’t justification for abuse and cover-ups.
Lerab Ling is trying to prove that Rigpa is not a cult, but whatever is decided legally doesn’t change the experience of people. It doesn’t change what some of us know, what those of us who have educated ourselves on the matter now realise.
Do you think the cult word is a helpful term in the dicussion around abuse in Rigpa?
Current and previous students of Rigpa wanting private support are welcome to join the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite.
Ex-Rigpa students and their dharma friends who want to move on from the discussion of abuse in Rigpa can stay in touch through the Dharma Companions Facebook Group.
The What Now? Reference Material page has links to a wealth of articles in the topics related to abuse in Buddhist communities. For links to places to assist in healing from abuse see the sangha care resources page.
Those of you who are interested in ‘keeping Buddhism clean’ could ‘Like’ the Dharma Protectors Facebook page.
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