Project Sunshine's Final Report and the Importance of Sharing Your Story

The Buddhist_Project_Sunshine_Phase_2_Final_Report is out and is something that anyone concerned about abuse in Tibetan Buddhist communities should read as it relates not only to the Shambala community but to any Tibetan Buddhist community where abuse, such as we saw in Rigpa, is perpetrated by those in power, facilitated by the way certain teachings are interpreted, and covered up by the inner circle.
If you were abused, particularly if you had sexual relations with Sogyal Rinpoche/Lakar that you were uncomfortable with, this report is a ‘must read’.
The report is well considered, well written, and has contributions by professionals working in relevant fields as well as stories by students who were abused.
The Buddhist Project Sunshine is a grass roots independent healing initiative started by second-generation Shambhalian, Andrea Winn, in February 2017 for the Shambhala Buddhist community and people who were forced to leave this community. She wrote the Phase 1 Final Report at the end of the first year of the project, and this caused the Shambhala leadership to publicly acknowledge the widespread sexualized violence in the community.

Chogyam Trungpa

This caused people to look more closely at the teacher many of us respected for his books. Most of us knew he was a womaniser and a drunk, but we didn’t know details of his behaviour until the stories of abuse started coming out.
Here’s one:
And here’s the story about him torturing a cat.
By now, you’ve probably all read the story of the couple at the party being stripped and beaten.  ( and  It’s horrific behaviour from someone who has set himself up as a spiritual teacher, and like Sogyal Lakar/Rinpoche it’s the kind of harmful behaviour that, despite the attempts of those who consider these teachers enlightened, cannot be justified  by religious philosophy.  There is no justification for causing harm. None. Especially for a Buddhist who’s first vow is to do no harm.
If these teachers were enlightened, they would realise the results of their behaviour. The fact that their behaviour did cause harm, indicates that they are not enlightened. I’m not buying the ‘I’m a lesser being so how can I tell’ line. I have discernment, and the Buddha encouraged his disciples to use their intelligence, not follow in blind faith.
Sogyal Rinpoche and Dzongsar Kyentse and who knows who else in the Tibetan Buddhist religion look up to this guy!

Sogyal the disgrace

Sogyal Rinpoche is also mentioned in the report, along with a list of other Buddhist teachers who have also behaved in abusive ways:

“Sogyal Rinpoche has been among the ranks of the most famous Tibetan lamas in the world and his Rigpa community has been one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist communities in the world for many years. The first public revelations regarding Sogyal’s abusive behavior arose during the early 1990’s when Sogyal was sued by one of his female American students and settled out of court.
Over twenty years later, a group of eight of his senior students published an open letter decrying his “unethical and immoral,” “abusive and violent behavior,” “physical, emotional, and psychological abuse of students,” “sexual abuse of students,” and “lavish, gluttonous, and sybaritic lifestyle,” concluding that Sogyal’s “actions have tainted our appreciation for the practice.”nSogyal would be one of the first of several Tibetan lamas exposed for clergy sexual misconduct, including Lama Norlha, Thomas Rich, and others.
Although Rigpa attempted to do damage control, when an audience of thousands witnessed Sogyal punching a nun in the belly, a global public condemnation ensued. Sogyal and Rigpa became the paradigm case for abusive gurus and their circles of complicity and collusion, a model of disgraced dharma. The Dalai Lama himself has publicly denounced Sogyal as a disgrace, and vehemently criticized the conditions, beliefs, and behaviors which allow Sogyal-like behavior to fester and damage sentient beings.”

Why sharing stories is important

The report includes two anonymous survivor impact statements and a story submission that are people’s experiences.  These are very powerful because they show exactly how the teachings are used to facilitate abuse, how the inner circle students facilitated it, and how the power difference plays out to negate any idea that there is consent involved.
The stories tell the same kind of tale as those told by women abused by Sogyal. The pattern is the same.
These impact statements are very powerful. They cut through any preconceived notions you may have about the abuse, because the person’s own words as they describe their actual experience. It takes us from the realm of hearing into the realm of experiencing as our empathy kicks in and we identify with the survivor. That, were circumstances different, could have been us.
And we need to hear more of them. Why? Because the pattern is virtually the same regardless of the guru, and the more such stories that we hear, the more we are unable to ignore the fact that these stories tell us the truth. And once we have accepted the truth, we can no longer sit by and allow it to continue. Our sanghas may be reticent to look at the beliefs that allowed this kind of thing to happen, but the voices of truth will remain and the power of their truth will eventually result in change.
Project Sunshine would never have happened had Andrea M. Winn, MEd, MCS not been prepared to break the silence, and the Rigpa sangha would still be in ignorance of the true nature of their lama had 8 people not spoken up. And there are many, many more with similar stories to tell. Stories that people must hear if something is to change at a fundamental level: the level of behaviour of those in power and the power structures that give them total control.
I encourage anyone who has been abused to contact me and share their story anonymously on this blog. Doing so will be a healing process for you and for others with similar stories who read it, a great service to the development of a Vajrayana Buddhism relevant to the modern day, one where such abuses can never happen again.  When women know how they may be manipulated into a guru’s bed, they will be more likely to avoid it. Speaking up will save other women from the same trauma.
The #metoo movement showed the extent of sexual abuse in society in general, and only the same kind of unreserved breaking of the silence will show the extent in Tibetan Buddhism as well. And only once the full extent of it is known will the lamas be moved to do something about it from their end, so please, do speak up. Contact me now.
The report is dedicated to the women who have been abused by their guru. I know you have struggled alone, some of you for decades, and I hope you have found a way to come to terms with your experience. I also hope that our efforts in breaking the silence now will help you be able to finally finish with the repercussions of that phase of your life.

This report is dedicated with honour to the brave women who each found her own way to survive sexual abuse by her guru.
May each of these women find a true and lasting peace and benefit from the deep healing of the truth coming to light.”

An analysis of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s essay on Sogyal Rinpoche & Rigpa

One of the appendices is an analysis of DZK’s essay on Sogyal and Rigpa and it is  brilliant. Andrea Winn states, with great clarity, what most everyone I have spoken to about that essay have observed as regards to it. It’s another reason to read this report.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s pseudo-apology”

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s ‘apology’ is included in this report, but, like Sogyal’s attempts at apology,  it is another pseudo-apology. I read the whole thing and at the end, I said to myself, ” Where is the apology?”
He says: “I have recently learned that some of these women have shared experiences of feeling harmed as a result of these relationships. I am now making a public apology.”
That’s it. He says some women have felt harmed and that he is making an apology, but there is nothing that says, “I’m sorry I hurt you. I really regret my actions. I feel ashamed that I behaved like that, and I will refrain from behaving like that again.” Why do lamas find this so hard to do?
Have they ever actually engaged in the practice of vajrasattva? If they had,  they would have internalised the importance for purifying negative karma of accepting responsibility for their negative actions, feeling regret that they caused harm (not just a feeling of harm) and vowing never to repeat the action.
Either they don’t practice or understand the teachings they give or they really don’t think they have accumulated any negative karma. If that’s the case, given all that we know now, their arrogance is incredible.

From page 266 of The Words of my Perfect Teacher.
Confessing without regret cannot purify them, for past misdeeds are like poison within; so confess them with shame, trepidation and great remorse. … Without resolve for the future there is no purification.

What kind of Buddhism do we want in the West?

The report also includes steps for the future on a personal and organisational level. It truly is a ray of sunshine in that respect. Some of us these days find it very hard to feel positive about the future of such organisations. I hope that Shambala has better results than Rigpa, but I can see from the report that similar dynamics are playing out. What they do have is the benefit of Project Sunshine. Well done, Andrea and the other contributors.
I found the section titled ‘Ahimsa: Envisioning A New Buddhism In The West’ by Dr. Elizabeth Monson inspiring. She basically asks what kind of Buddhism do we want in the West, and makes it clear that it is up to us to not settle for anything less. I include here an excerpts for your reflection:

It is important to bring our own misunderstandings and naivete, as well as the abusive behaviors perpetrated by teachers, into the light and out of the darkness of collusion and secrecy. This is not only to prompt teachers to take responsibility and stand accountable for their actions, but also to encourage all the practitioners who put their faith and love in a teacher who has triggered experiences of profound pain and suffering to participate in the processes of change that must take place. Whether we love and respect a teacher or not, we should recognize that anyone who serves as a Buddhist teacher and role model is responsible for upholding a standard of moral behavior and a vision of what true liberation, true compassion, and true wisdom really look like on a practical, daily level. Whether the teacher’s teachings are brilliant or not, his or her actions must be in accord with the view. As Padmasambhava taught back in the eighth century, “Though the view should be as vast as the sky, keep your conduct as fine as barley flour.” Ahimsa: Envisioning A New Buddhism In The West – Dr. Elizabeth Monson By Lopon Eli

We welcome Shambala students and other Buddhist students disenchanted with their teacher and their organisation to join our Dharma Friends  Beyond the Temple Facebook Group.  See description below.
What did you think of the report?

Private discussion on this and other related topics can be had on our Secret  What Now Facebook Group. It is only for current and previous students of Rigpa, however, and we do moderate it closely. If you’re interested in joining, please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite.
People from other sanghas can join the Dharma Friends Beyond the Temple Facebook Group . It’s a support group for anyone who has left their Buddhist sangha after hearing revelations of abuse by their teacher or after experiencing such abuse. It’s for people who see ethical behaviour, love, compassion and introspection as the core of their spiritual path. The aim of the group is to support each other in our spiritual journey wherever it takes us. Click here and request to join.
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.

74 Replies to “Project Sunshine's Final Report and the Importance of Sharing Your Story”

  1. The report itself is in Dutch, but investigative reporters Jolien de Vries and Wil van der Schans of current events programme ‘Reporter’ on national Radio 1 covered the sexual abuse by Namkha Rinpoche of Rigdzin Community under the moniker #MeToo Guru (17 June 2018):
    One victim, Cecile, shares her story about fleeing her sangha and Namkha Rinpoche, suffering from psychoses. The Swiss woman who first shared her story on Facebook was also interviewed.
    As soon as I have time, I’ll make an English transcript of the entire broadcast available. Meanwhile, Namkha Rinpoche’s name can be safely added to the list of Tibetan lamas who have been accused of sexual abuse.
    And those two brave women sharing their story can be added to the list of trailblazers who empower other male and female survivors of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers.

  2. In 2002 a sexual abuse case was breaking news in the Netherlands. It involved a 14-year old girl, who was placed under the care of Dhammawiranatha, a Theravada (faux-)monk.
    The newsletter-item announcing that the girl had moved to his monastery to live with Dhammawiranatha said: “Lately, a cub was seen pottering about in the lion’s den”.
    When the story broke, Dhammawiranatha was accused of sexually abusing many women in his sangha, of verbally and psychologically abusing men, and of having had sexual relations with this underaged girl.
    As the centre collapsed and Dhammawiranatha was forcibly disrobed by his own sangha, a formal report was compiled by a foundation investigating cults. The accusations of the abuse of an underaged girl were notably lacking from this report, so I asked the erstwhile investigator why. His answer was: ‘If we would have included this in our report, the police would have intervened.’
    My own investigation made clear that this matter had been brought to the attention of a board member of the Dutch Buddhist Union (BUN), who made a note in his diary [my translation]:
    ‘The stories about Dhammawiranatha were really disturbing: brainwashing, belittlement, provocation, squeezing dry (for instance, letting people move to the monastery in Friesland and have them donate the proceeeds of the sale of their home), false signatures, sexual relations with (mostly psychologically dependent) women, but with very young underaged girls as well (such as a four year old sexual relationship with a girl from the age of 14), fear of importunity with own young children (daughters), having women get abortions, and the like.’ The board member concluded at the time: ‘Besides the fooling around with little girls few things are punishable, for everything happened “voluntarily”.’
    Needless to say, the BUN board member, the cult-investigator, and sangha members did not involve the police or child welfare office.
    Similar situations occurred within in the sanghas founded by the Thai (faux-)monk Mettavihari through the 1970s-2000s, and as recently as 2015: a young boy (9) was invited by a Thai monk for a sleepover inside his bedroom in the Buddhavihara temple in Purmerend, and accused him of sexual abuse the day after. The monk was arrested, the case was criminally investigated and dismissed: it was the boy’s against the monk’s word, with no forensic evidence. It had occurred to no one that having a very young boy sleep in a monk’s bedroom is a liability in and of itself.
    Currently, I’m investigating several other cases involving the abuse of minors by Buddhist teachers in the Netherland.
    Recently, for instance, the confidential advisor of the BUN blabbed about the abuse of a minor by a Tibetan teacher. Allegedly, the BUN advisor said, the mother reported the case to the police after having been discouraged to do so by a Dutch Tibetan doctor. As of yet, I’m unaware of any arrest of a Tibetan teacher in the Netherlands having been made, so apparently he’s let loose on other children.
    All of these cases exhibit the same patterns.
    Adult Buddhists are fully capable of doing nothing to prevent minors from being abused by their teachers. Even while sangha members intervened and stories about sexual abuse broke so that the lid was lifted, the abuse of minors was hushed up by them. Likewise, Buddhists teachers and leaders who know about the abuse of minors are capable of doing nothing. It does not even occur to them that they might be morally and legally bound to report the sexual abuse of minors to the police or child welfare office—not even anonymously. It doesn’t occur to them to start looking for other victims and survivors who were sexual abused and traumatized for life by their venerated Buddhist teachers.
    So, the bottom line of all of my findings is: within more than a few Dutch Buddhist sanghas, children are the least protected of all. It’s highly plausible, I think, that the situation outside the Netherlands is no better.
    And, to end on a personal note, as a Buddhist I’m heart-broken and utterly ashamed of this, every single day.
    So, therefore, my message to practicing Buddhists is:
    Wake up.
    Speak up.
    Empower one other.
    Take action.
    At least do something.
    Here are some sources for those of you who read and speak Dutch:

    1. Thanks Joanne.
      Refreshing and heartening to hear the sane, appropriate and compassionate responses from these two powerhouse Lamas!

      1. I don’t trust the empty words of any “powerhouse” lamas. They seem to change their tune as quickly as politicians trying to get elected, lol! Didn’t Tenzin Palmo come to Rigpa after the scandal broke out and make an enabling speech which fit in very nicely with DKR’s agenda? Also, didn’t Tsulrim Allione get bought off with a title in the past when she tried to expose some abuses before? So I guess they are all about talking and sweet, soothing words, with no teeth or actions behind it. Just more talk, talk, talk.

    2. Words i have been longing for! I know it is strange but somehow i really really yearned to hear something like this from my master SR. After 25 ys of offering (work your behind off) not to be worth more than a couple of general press releases is dissappointing and adds to the pain and confusion. The words of these women are so comfortingt and actually healing.

    3. I am a little surprised nobody has said this yet and it could be part of the healing process to spread more awareness of this – a basic point in Vajrayana that many in the West, from these stories, seem to be unaware of.
      Not just privately – if necessary tell the news, radio etc. Even if he is your vajrayana guru. Even while all the time seeing him as the Buddha. Privately as Buddha, publicly as someone you criticize.
      The Dalai Lama talks here about how you must criticize the Lama in a situation like this. With sincere motivation and necessary salutation, in order t save Buddha dharmal, save maybe 100 students of that lama. That’s the proper way. And if you are disciple, cool, go straight to the lama and say “I did this with sincere motivation and I apologize”. And then the lama, if a very sincere lama, will acknowlege the apology. If the lama is furious – that also is an indication – just say “Goodbye” …
      Any vajrayana vows don’t get in the way of that. You can do all that with pure mind, seeing them as Buddha. But that’s for private practice to do that as best you can if you are in a situation where they are your personal lama. Publicly, in accord with the dharma, you must criticize them just as with anyone else who does serious wrong doing, and more so to protect the dharma.
      And another thing – if a lama asks you to do anything counter to the dharma – you have to refuse to do it.
      The Dalai Lama talks here about the lama institutions have influence of feudal institutions must end.
      Lama individual disgraced – doesn’t matter. But it’s a very bad impression about monasteries and monks. So you should not say
      “This is mhy guru, whatever my guru says I must follow”
      That is totally wrong. Buddha himself said “you must examine my teaching”. In the same way if some particular lama says something, you examine whether it goes well according to Buddha teaching and circumstances in society.
      If it is not proper, even the Dalai Lama’s teaching, you should not follow, if you find some contradiction, should not follow.
      Tspong Khapa said:
      “If the lama’s teaching is against the dhama, in discord with the lama, it should not be followed. If the lama’s teaching is in accord with the dharma, it should be followed.”
      He then mentions something he said in an earlier conference, Tibetan lamas and zen teachers who had
      “Only thing is to make public, through newspaper, through radio. Although they don’t care about Buddha’s teaching, they may care about saving face”.
      He goes on to talk about Tsogyal Rinpoche in that video.
      I have never entered on the Vajrayana myself, but I have a good teacher and he explained these points to his students carefully., some of whom went on to take him on as a Vajrayana teacher.

      1. Who is your lama Robert? I think it is good for others to know who is following this advice– because too many lamas aren’t.

        1. Oh, I’d rather not say. It’s advice for students rather than Lamas. If a student follows the Dalai Lama’s advice then they are fine. If everyone did this then teachers who behave badly and disgrace themselves will be “outed” right away.
          I have had several teachers, and the one I was talking about here is a Westerner who was a Buddhist in the UK before the first Tibetan lamas came to the country, so that’s a long time back now. Before there were any centers, before there were any Tibetan Lamas at all in the West. He has been a vajrayana teacher for a long time now. So he has a foot in both camps and he knows what Westerners have to be told – that maybe some of the Tibetan lamas don’t realize.
          I think it goes both ways. There are Tibetan lamas misbehaving – and then there are Westerners who maybe need things explained to them that Tibetans would just take for granted as part of their culture. So they may not realize that these things have to be explained to us.
          I think this may be an important part of the healing process. To find a way of helping Westerners to realize these essential points in the dharma that the Dalai Lama highlighted in his talks.

          1. Joanne, not sure I answered you properly. I thought you were asking who was my main teacher because you are looking for lamas who follow this teaching which didn’t make sense to me – but re-reading I think you mean lamas who teach in this way? If so, I thought this was basic advice that all teachers would give. It goes back to the sutra to the Kalamas in its essental point so it is there in the Pali canon already – the same teaching that Je Tsong Khapa gave, about testing teachings by the effects they have on your lives.
            The Dalai Lama teaches like this. My teacher did. If some don’t give this teaching, it may be because they think their students already know it. I’d have thought most lamas teach like this if they teach about the Vajrayana at all.
            The reason I’m not keen on saying who my teacher is is because it is like setting up a list of “good” and “bad” teachers. Don’t want to get involved in that. If you follow the Dalai Lama’s teaching here, which is also the Buddha’s teaching, then it protects you automatically. Nobody can ask you to do something counter to the dharma. If they try, then you evaluate what they asked you to do and just say you couldn’t do it because it didn’t accord with the dharma for you and ask for advice on that. And if they have bad conduct, absolutey you call them out on it, just as the Dalai Lama said. With respect.
            Then the whole thing matters much less and if you get caught up in a situation like this, you might end up being one of the people who help the others involved in it and help find a way out of it together.
            In any case if there are many teachers available wherever one is, then you can go from one to another and find out which of them is best suited for you. I tested many teachers before I settled down to one as my main teacher for many years. But that’s not based on who is the most charismatic or who you like best or find most attractive, or who is the one that has most students, or gives the fanciest teachings or the most elaborate ceremonies, or is most famous, or has the nicest facilities or is in the poshest part of town or whatever.
            The best teacher is the one who is connecting you to the dharma. if when you listen to them they teach in ways that you find you can put into practice in your life, and if the results are good and in accord witht the dharma – that’s the teacher for you. Even if they have few students. Even if nobody else can understand what you see in them. Still, you have found your teacher for that phase of your life at least. That’s why I’m not keen to say who my teacher is as a way to try to compile a list of good or bad teachers. Hope you understand.

            1. @Robert Walker,
              I hope you don’t take offense, but I think it’s a bit strange to be so secretive about who your teacher is. It makes me wonder if your teacher misbehaves, so you’re really ashamed to admit who he/she is because you don’t want people to criticize your guru. I think there SHOULD be a list of “good” and “bad” teachers so that people know who to follow and who to stay AWAY from. If people are afraid of such a list, how do people know who to trust. Unless you’ve got something to hide, why not let people know about a good teacher and let them decide from there? As for Joanne and her question, she just asked you who your teacher is, and she wasn’t looking for a teacher. HHDL is her teacher, from what I understand, so she’s not looking for one, as far as I know.

              1. And I would add Robert that very few teachers– a handful I think– are giving the same advice as His Holiness in this situation. Some big level teachers have told students who speak out that they are going to hell or are possessed by spirits. The issue of whether or not one can speak out critically regarding one’s Vajrayana lama is actually covered differently in the scriptures to how His Holiness advises. So this is new ground and as Catlover said, it is relevant in that regard to know which teachers are following His Holiness’s lead. There are students leaving abusive situations and wanting to know if there are teachers to be trusted. So it’s actually a very relevant and important question I asked– and as Catlover pointed out, not for myself.

                1. Oh I didn’t see this before. Part of what my teacher taught me was to evaluate everything according to the dharma and my own understanding. So, using that touchstone what the Dalai Lama taught is right and what the others teach, if this is indeed what they say, is wrong, as in, not the dharma, not the path of the Buddha. It’s as simple as that.
                  If any of my dharma teachers had taught me as you say those vajrayana gurus do, I’d have run a mile, I’d have just said “That can’t be right, Vajrayana scripture or not, this is mistaken and can’t be the dharma”.
                  Even vajrayana scriptures have to be evaluated by consistency with the dharma and ones own understanding of the path. Indeed, if I understand right, isn’t that the main way that they ensure that the much later Vajrayana inspirations are a present day continuation of the dharma? If a vajrayana teaching is inconsistent with the dharma one would start to doubt its validity I think.
                  Is it possible that these scriptures are either mistranslated, or widely misunderstood, or are not authentic?
                  And I would not be worried about a threat that I will go to hell for following the dharma and common morality and ethics :). Again – for me that would be a clear sign to me that they are not teaching the authentic dharma. I’d ask them to explain how it is consistent with the dharma to say that, privately or publicly as appropriate to the situation. I’d mention the Dalai Lama now that I know about what he said and the kalama sutra and the other cites. If I didn’t get a satisfactory answer, I’d just not come back again and stop attending their sessions and start looking for another teacher.
                  But what about e.g. Ringu Tulku – Surely he would teach like the Dalai Lama? I am very surprised, indeed if this is true, I’m shocked, that the teachers who teach like this are so rare that you need to follow up examples of such a teachers to find out who they are.
                  I have only good things that I know about my main teacher and any of the named teachers.
                  I doubt if anyone would find anything bad about my main teacher in a google search either. I tried as an experiment just now and found nothing.
                  He keeps a low profile and is not even listed as a dharma teacher in Wikipedia which is a bit of a magnet for allegations (true or false) about dharma teachers. Some of his students are, and his wife, but not him. That is another reason I was not too keen to mention him. A teacher who teaches in a quiet way, follows the path almost the direct opposite of a crazy yogin – living the most conventional life you could imagine – and does not seek publicity. There are other teachers like him who teach in a quiet way, and do not seek publicity, or compete for the limelight, or do anything crazy or outlandish.
                  But you never know, you do get false allegations sometimes, amongst the true ones, Also you get false memories too, just through people honestly trying to recollect more detals of what happened, as in the example of the fake balloon ride false memory experiment. It happened to me once as a child – I mean that’s not the only occasion when I’ve remembered something that conflicted with what others remember and sometimes it is hard to know which memory is true – but this was one of the first times and I remember it vividly, and there was no doubt that it was me that was mistaken.
                  I was sure I had left my spade on the beach a mile or two from our house. Was so sure I went out searching for it, a long walk for a young child. But it was a false memory. Perhaps a confusedly remembered dream. It happens to adults too.
                  My teacher was one of the very first students of Trungpa Rinpoche when he came to the West. You can hear him talk about that encounter here:

                  And that perhaps will help you understand the context and why I was a bit shy of mentioning him here.
                  As is – anyone who follows that link will see his name but it is not encouraging people to search the web to try to dig up allegations about him so hopefully that’s okay. Doing it this way lso means anyone who finds out who he is also gets an opportunity to hear him teach as well right away on the spot. Also to hear him giving his own perspective on his own teacher and on Trungpa Rinpoche’s inspiring teachings on complete openness.
                  And if they find him inspiring as a result and decide they want to try to get teachings from him, great. I don’t know how easy it is to get to hear him speak in person. He used to give public talks once a week when I first went to his teachings but as he got older he did this less often. I have not heard him teach myself for several years now. I live in a different part of the world, but I did get to meet him two years ago for the first time for several years and ask him a few questions. There are several videos by him on YouTube. And one can surely get to hear some of his students teach if perhaps rare to get to hear a teaching by himself.
                  So – the indirect connection I mentioned was with Trungpa Rinpoche. I only heard Trungpa Rinpoche teach once myself, in a public talk in London not that long before he died. I have only heard good things about him when my teacher talked about encounters with him. E.g. about his cremation, and about visiting him in hospital before he died. My teacher only went over to the States occasionally, perhaps once every few years, to visit Trungpa Rinpoche, and very occasionally he came to the UK to visit my teacher. It was on one of those occasions that I heard Trungpa Rinpoche teach in London.
                  Especially with my main teacher talking in that video of the importance of always being open to people in all situations – maybe I was being a bit closed in with my shyness? Hopefully this is a good connection to mention him like this with some care.
                  Please don’t use this as an occasion to try to get me to comment on Trungpa Rinpoche or to defend my teacher’s teachings, or what he says about Trungpa Rinpoche – it stands for itself! Doesn’t need any comment from me.
                  Also, I simply know nothing, have nothing to comment, on the allegations – just feel sad about them but don’t want to comment about something I know nothing about.
                  However. I am very interested in continuing a discussion of the Buddha teachings and the dharma and how this relates to modern students following modern teachers that disgrace themselves and about the advice for those students and what they should do.
                  I am more interested in how to do something about this going forward than in reflecting on the past in spirit similar to “truth and reconciliation” – I do understand the value of what you are doing but I think the most important aspect of all this is raising awareness of the situation and helping students to recognize the true dharma and to follow the dharma. If you have a good connection to the Buddha dharma – then that is all the protection you need, the dharma itself protects you from false teachers because you recognize them and simply walk away if needs be. And can recognize true teachers because like the Dalai Lama they teach in accord with the dharma and follow their advice on how to deal with such situations. As you are doing.
                  You can also email me at if anyone wants to continue this in private rather than in public for any reason.

              2. Oh, sorry. I’m just not here to advertise one of my teachers to everyone else :). He is a good lama but there are many good lamas. He is my main teacher in the sense in which a Therevadhan Buddhist would be likely to have a main teacher who they find especially helpful and whose teachings they follow.
                Generally, I don’t think we need a list of “good” lamas because most of them are. It would lead to people thinking “my lama is not on the list, is he okay, how do I get him on the list” etc. Setting ourselves up as a higher authority to vet the Tibetan lamas. I would talk about him to others in any other conversation but I don’t feel that this is the time and place. There are additional reasons too. I once went to a teaching once by one of the named lamas which I found inspiring. And have an indirect connection to them. This is enough reason for me to not want to get involved in a discussion such as this, about something I know nothing about. I hesitated about saying anything but felt what I posted was important and nobody else had said it.
                Is nobody interested in discussing the advice of the Dalai Lama and of the Buddha here? Do you agree that it would help the situation? Don’t other lamas give this advice? After all it does go back to the Buddha in its essence and is rather basic teaching on how to follow the dharma and how to relate to teachers including vajrayana gurus for those who have them – and a basic teaching that would eliminate most of these issues before they can escalate.

                1. @Robert,
                  Okay, if you want to remain silent and secretive about your teacher, that’s your right, but don’t be surprised if other people wonder why. Also, I wonder why you speak of your teacher as a lama, but mention a connection with Theravada as well. Is he one of those mix ’em up and match the different Buddhist traditions types? I’m not saying that makes your teacher “bad” but it sounds like he is a Westerner who is not a traditional Tibetan lama. Am I right?
                  Sure, a lot of people are interested in the Dalai Lama’s advice and they would ALSO be interested to know about the teachers who are actually following it. So, what would be wrong with having a list of teachers who follow his advice instead of having to play detective to figure it out? It’s not that there has to be a list of “good” and ‘bad” teachers because, as you correctly pointed out, everyone would be trying to get their own, precious “guru” on the list, lol! 😀 You do have a valid point! But what would be wrong with a list of teachers who follow the Dalai Lama’s advice? That would be enough to give someone a clue about that teacher’s moral compass, (if one can actually trust anything they say).

                2. @Robert,
                  “I once went to a teaching once by one of the named lamas which I found inspiring.” Okay, so what?
                  You mean you were inspired by a talk by Trungpa, Sogyal or the Shambala lama? Well, that’s okay. They said some good things and it’s not a crime to find what they said inspiring. That doesn’t make them saints, and that is where the problem lies for some people. I’m not saying you do this, but a ot of people elevate those who say inspiring things. I think it’s important to separate the good WORDS of wisdom from a speaker and the actual CHARACTER of the speaker. A lot of speakers and authors have said some very profound things, which are worth taking on as advice. They contribute many worthwhile thoughts and ideas. The danger lies in placing those speakers or authors on a pedestal and thinking they are somehow more than human and investing them with some kind of divinity. People do it with political heroes too. Some of the great heroes of history have lead inspiring movements and said some really wonderful things, but they were terrible people on a personal level and you wouldn’t ever want to know them personally. I think the same can be said of a lot of gurus. they say some good things, but they aren’t so fun to get close to. So, no one is condemning you, even if you found a talk by one of those creeps inspiring. You can find their WORDS inspiring without worshiping at their feet. The important thing is not to get too close to the fire or it will burn.

                3. @Robert,
                  Sorry for the multiple replies. I just keep thinking of more things to add.
                  “He is a good lama but there are many good lamas. He is my main teacher in the sense in which a Therevadhan Buddhist would be likely to have a main teacher who they find especially helpful and whose teachings they follow.”
                  I think I see what you mean here. You’re not saying he mixes up the traditions. You’re just saying you follow him the way a Therevadan would follow a teacher, respectfully but not in a bowing, scraping, worship-the-guru sort of way.

                  1. That’s no problem. Yes, that’s what I meant. I have a separate interest in the Therevadhan teachings and the Pali canon as a personal interest. By a good lama I mean good. In good standing with his lineage, authorized to teach, been a teacher for decades in his tradition. One of many such.
                    But it’s important to know that that bowing, scraping, worship-the-guru approach is not the way to follow a Vajarayan guru either. Not if you mean it in the sense of
                    “This is my guru, whatever my guru says I must follow”
                    That way is counter to the teachings of the Buddha. The Dalai Lama said that himself. The Buddha said that. It is a basic teaching of Buddhism. When people prostrate to a Buddha image or to a guru, then it is to do with inviting the Buddha as teacher into their life which they then follow themselves and it is to do with bringing their teachings into their own lives and the path of enlightenment, recognizing their own potential as a future Buddha. So- if you just have half of that- inviting the Buddha into your life but not recognizing your own potential as a future Buddha, it can go wrong. Learning to always examine teachings for yourself is part of that process of recognizing your own potential and self worth.
                    I transcribed / paraphrased (because of his somewhat broken English) what he said in one of his videos.
                    I think some of these lama institutions – have some sort of influence of the feudal system.
                    So you should not say
                    “This is mhy guru, whatever my guru says I must follow”
                    That is totally wrong. Buddha himself said “you must examine my teaching”. In the same way if some particular lama says something, you examine whether it goes well according to Buddha teaching and circumstances in society.
                    If it is not proper, even the Dalai Lama’s teaching, you should not follow, if you find some contradiction, should not follow.
                    Do have a listen if you haven’t heard his teaching on it here. He also talks about Sogyal Rinpoche briefly at the end.1 hour and 15 minutes into this video

                4. The regular commenters here are all very aware of HH’s advice. If you look back at early posts you will see that he was referred to a great deal, and is the basis of the willingness of so many to actually speak pu locally about these issues. Also links to the videos from 1993 and transcripts are on the reference link page. It is not being discussed because we all accept his wisdom in this matter.

            2. The issue here is that Sogyal did not teach that way and neither does DZK who, in his talks in Rigpa centers set himself up as the expert on what vajrayana really is, and he made it quite clear that as far as he was concerned once you’ve accepted a teacher as your vajra master you couldn’t criticize them and your relationship becomes secret.
              The reason the letter by the 8 was written was due to the advice HHDL gave in 1993 in Dharamsala which is what you said, but this is not advice that was ever given to Rigpa students, and plenty of vajrayana students, at least in Rigpa and DZK’s sangha, believe that not criticizing is an integral part of vajrayana. I prefer to listen to HHDL, but until all TB Lamas do the same, some students will still think they have to give up their discernment to follow a TB lama.

              1. Okay that’s a little strange. However we have the dharma to handle situations like that. I’m not talking about fixing the past here, but about trying to help with education of Buddhists in the future so that such situations can’t happen again.
                You have the words of Buddha himself in the Kalama sutra etc. So it’s more than a matter of personal preference of which teacher to follow – it’s in the dharma that is the basis of all their teachings. So long as they do teach the three (or four) refuges, with the dharma as one of them they should recognize this.
                It’s why I could listen to HHDL and hear him give exactly the same advice my own teacher gave on this matter. And then go to the sutras and again read the same teaching. For the Tibetan Buddhist tradition we have later commentators too.
                So I see you have the Kalama sutra in your background material. I wonder if it might be worth adding HHDL’s Tsong Khapa cite there? And the Dalai Lama surely has other cites – as a trained Tibetan Buddhism scholar himself with the highest qualifications, he probably has many such cites.
                Maybe someone could get together an online summary “dharma support” page?
                That might help students who are unsure to have greater confidence that it is right to follow HHDL’s teachings on this matter.
                I can see it could be confusing as there is an element of “not criticizing” in the teachings on seeing your teachers – and others also, as the Buddha. My teacher would sometimes talk on this subject to. It’s something you can be inspired by even without following the path of Vajrayana. As a kind of poetic inspiration :). And just to know that it is possible to see dharma teachings in everything. That this is something the great teachers can do and that it is possible for any of us to do, if we can relate to it. When you see someone who is angry, involved in what seems harmful action etc – say president Trump. Conventionally he is no Buddha. But – would you know if he was? If he was a mahasiddha, how would you know he wasn’t? Helps with humility, and patience. You don’t have to kind of try to squint and distort your vision to see your teacher and others as Buddha. Just have it as that you don’t know that he isn’t. And so can if you wish to, treat him as such. But doing that doesn’t mean surrendering critical thought as Buddha himself said to examine his teachings as in the Kalama sutra etc – and when it comes to a teacher who disgraces himself, does something seriously unethical, then as the Dalai Lama said through his translator
                > “One may individually view the actions of ones guru as mahasiddha but one should not take it as a public stand.”
                All the way through the process of even reporting your teacher to the police if that is needed, you can still see their behaviour as that of a mahasiddha, so individually, you have that non critical mind but your activity is resonding to theirs in a way that is appropriate and is in accord with the dharma. And if they are a genuine mahasiddha then that is their aim for their studdents to act in accord with the dharma. So they can certainly handle it.

  3. “Remember, the Dharma is yours. It’s not his.” What a great line, and so important to remember.

  4. Realising that many in the Shambala community will be reeling as we have done and may want the support of those who know how they feel, particularly if they feel they can no longer be part of Shambala, the Dharma Companions Facebook group has decided to open up to any Buddhist students disenchanted with their teacher and their organisation due to abuses of power, no matter what their sangha or tradition.
    We’ve also renamed the group Dharma Friends Beyond the Temple. It’s for people who see ethical behaviour, love, compassion and introspection as the core of their spiritual path. The aim of the group is to support each other in our spiritual journey wherever it takes us. The focus is not on the abuses, but on ourselves and our spiritual path as we move forward.

  5. @notsohopeful,
    Is it really surprising that DKR would speak glowingly of Trungpa? It seems that ALL the lamas sing Trungpa’s praises and glorify him as a “crazy wisdom” master, no matter who they are, especially the Nyingmas and the Karma Kagyus. If the lamas aren’t praising him, I have never heard a single lama EVER criticize him. Name just ONE lama who EVER said anything against their “savior” who “brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West.” Of course DKR loves Trungpa and was inspired by him, just like our “friend” Sogyal, who was also inspired by him. (Some of the worst dictators are inspired by Hitler, lol!) Likewise, some of the worst lamas are inspired by Trungpa. Go figure.

  6. I just saw a news item saying that SMR has stepped down “temporarily” as of last night, and that the Kalapa Council, Shambhala’s governing body, is going to disband in a “phased” dissolution. It will be interesting to see what all of this really means.

  7. It means they want to put everything off for as long as possible and see what direction the A”winds” are blowing.
    Is SMR going on “retreat” until it all blows over? (He hopes it will blow over.)

    Communication #2
    June 2018
    The second meeting of the Rigpa Vision Board took place in Berlin last month, over the weekend 25-27 May. Patrick was unable to join us, for health reasons, however all other members of the group were present. We had allotted three days for our discussions and benefited hugely from the excellent facilities of the Dharma Mati centre, where most of us stayed. We’d like to thank Gabriele and the centre team for their very kind hospitality and support. It was a wonderful place to meet.
    Auspiciously, we joined Ringu Tulku’s teaching on Buddhist ethics and the Guru Rinpoche day tsok practice on the evening before our meetings started.
    Continuing with our mission to model a way of working that is inspired and balanced and sustainable, we allowed ourselves more breathing space around the meetings, especially since the topics that we were due to discuss were of such great complexity and significance. Added to this, some areas are emotionally charged and the impact of looking deeply into them cannot be underestimated. Therefore simple routines like making breakfast together, going for walks, or swimming in a nearby lake, helped to keep us grounded, connected and reasonably fresh.
    Our focus this time was to take stock of what we have learnt so far and to begin to clarify our forward perspective. By summer, we expect the result of the independent investigation to have been shared, and we will have published our code of conduct and grievance procedure. Even though there is still much to process concerning all that has happened in the past year, we are sensitive to a growing wish from within our sangha to move forward, to have a clear sense of how we can continue. This was very present in our minds during the meetings.
    Specifically, our agenda focussed on: summarizing the advice we have received to date from our spiritual advisers; clarifying questions submitted to us by the Rigpa curriculum team; and supporting the sangha in its process of healing and moving forward. There were also more pointed tasks for us to attend to, such as giving feedback to the code of conduct drafted by the international working group, and composing our Vision Board charter.
    Checking in
    We began the meetings by checking in with each other, to share experiences and to explore what the past year has been like for us—what we have learned and how we wish to move forward. We are each involved in different spheres of work and have different points of contact with the sangha—sharing our experiences in an open and personal way helps us to appreciate each other more and to enlarge our perspective.
    In this sense, we are modelling the open exchanges that have taken place in Rigpa throughout the past year, to positive effect.
    Guidance of our Spiritual Advisers
    Since last summer, we have been able to meet and seek advice from all three of our main spiritual advisers—Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche and Khenchen Namdrol. We have also taken advantage of opportunities to receive guidance from several other eminent teachers, including Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, and Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro. Some of these meetings were deliberately planned, while others happened by fortunate coincidence.
    By now, a great deal has been said and shared, and we thought it timely to summarize the most salient points that we have heard—especially those that can help guide our future steps for Rigpa.
    Firstly, we’d like to express our immense gratitude to the teachers who have made themselves available to us and who have showed genuine concern for the welfare of our sangha. Meeting them has been very reassuring. They have all emphasized just how important it is for Rigpa to continue and flourish as a Dharma organization. They have encouraged us to use whatever challenges we face now as an impetus to integrate the teachings on an even deeper level. Of course, we need to learn from the past and make definite changes, and in this respect, they have helped us greatly in pointing out what form these changes might take. It has been reassuring to hear from them also that, on the whole, the steps we have taken so far have been in the right direction.
    We will share our summary of advice separately. It should be noted that this advice is provisional and we intend to continue our consultations through the summer and autumn of this year, in particular with Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, when she visits Lerab Ling in July, and with Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, when he visits Paris in October.
    We plan to compile a fuller résumé in the autumn. By that time we also hope to produce a clear vision for how Rigpa can move forward in the next 5-10 years.
    Clarification of the Rigpa Path of Study and Practice
    A number of questions were submitted to us from the team responsible for the development of Rigpa’s curriculum of study and practice. We considered it a priority to answer these questions as best we could, since studying, reflecting upon, and practicing the Dharma, is what binds us together as a community and is our very raison d’être. We didn’t want to lose sight of this amidst our many other organizational concerns.
    Before discussing the questions in detail, we reminded ourselves of the challenging question that Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche had posed to us during her recent visit to Berlin: ‘What is your plan for Rigpa in 50 or 100 years time?’
    We thought it important to reflect upon and begin to articulate our long-term vision of Rigpa’s curriculum, since whatever guidance we might share now, needs to be aligned to this perspective.
    We understand Rigpa’s main aim is to offer a complete and authentic Buddhist education that is accessible to the modern world. This has always been Sogyal Rinpoche’s deepest aspiration and is valid now more than ever.
    Efforts have been made in the past to map and describe what this path might look like. We tried to take a fresh perspective, current to the situation we find ourselves in today, and informed by the recent advice we have received. The result was a sketch, not a painting, but it helped us to orient ourselves in relation to the immediate questions that we have been asked.
    A summary of our reflections/discussion will be shared later. We are by no means saying this is a definitive picture. The main lead for Rigpa’s curriculum will come from the teachers, instructors and team responsible for its development. This is simply our contribution to the process, at this moment in time.
    Faculty of Teachers and Instructors
    A point of great importance to our Vision Board is the need to establish a proper platform for the teachers and instructors of Rigpa. A clear, unequivocal message from our spiritual advisers has been the need for our own teachers and instructors to take the lead on delivering Rigpa’s educational programmes. We should not become over reliant on ‘importing’ Tibetan teachers to fulfil this role.
    We also feel our main teachers and instructors are deserving of greater recognition and support. As a clear statement of intent, we wish to instigate the formation of a Faculty of Teachers and Instructors that would lay down clear policies for training, accreditation, accountability and financial support. It would make sense for this Faculty to be integrated into plans for the new Rigpa Federation, currently in progress.
    The Vision Board recommends that a project leader be appointed to undertake the consultations that may be necessary to specify clearly, within a limited timespan, how the Faculty can best be set up. A brief will be prepared by the Vision Board and presented for further consideration.
    Code of Conduct
    At the request of the international working group responsible for drafting the Rigpa Code of Conduct, we reviewed the latest version and made suggestions for an accompanying summary that would be more readily understandable to the public and government regulatory bodies. The effort to bring together our Buddhist values
    with the contemporary norms and standards expected of a public service organization, has been a challenge. We appreciate very much the diligent efforts made by everyone involved—in particular the process that was set up to engage the entire worldwide sangha in the consultation process. This modelled the way similar such consultations can take place in the future. Establishing this code of conduct, which is a positive expression of our identity and values as a community, is an important step for Rigpa.
    Vision Board Charter
    As pledged in our previous communication, we have prepared a draft charter for the Vision Board that has been agreed by all our members.
    Closing thoughts
    One point that we discussed during our meetings and would like to underscore is just how open and diverse our Rigpa community is. There is a core of students who follow Sogyal Rinpoche’s teachings and the Vajrayana/Dzogchen path; there are members of our community who follow our public courses on meditation, compassion, and so on, at their local Rigpa centre; and there is the wider Buddhist community who attend our programmes with visiting teachers. Serving everybody in our community is a very important dimension of Rigpa’s work.
    We feel it important, therefore, that we better understand and appreciate the needs and wishes of the different communities who attend our programmes and feel connected to Rigpa’s work. Our regard, as a Vision Board, needs to be as broad, and inclusive, and unbiased as possible.
    Even within the core of our community (students who share a connection to Sogyal Rinpoche as their teacher) we can find ourselves in different places. For some, their devotion and commitment remains as strong and resolute as ever, while others are going through a process of reflection, looking for clarification of doubts and confusion. In accordance with the advice we have received, we have tried to share information (teachings), foster peer sangha support, and encourage students to continue their path of study and practice. We try our best not to judge or take sides or marginalize anyone. We try to nurture an environment of openness and mutual respect. This spaciousness and respect extends equally to anyone who has left our sangha or who is critical of Rinpoche or Rigpa. We are open to listening, reflection, and taking on board any changes that may be necessary.
    When there is greater clarity about the best way forward for Rigpa (we hope by late autumn), we will hold true to that path. Until then, however, we will resist calls to ‘take a position’ that we feel may be premature or insensitive. We sincerely hope this will be understood.
    We will reach out to the sangha this summer opening a process where we can all input to the forward vision of Rigpa.
    Our next meeting will be in August, at Lerab Ling, when we will all be present for the Drupchen and Dzogchen Retreat. This will be an important time for us and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible then.
    Please feel free to send us any comments or feedback that you may have.
    We send you our warmest greetings and best wishes,
    Rigpa Vision Board

      1. Rigpa has this whole spiel about how you’re not meant to defend yourself from claims, and that it is part of the mahayana path. Obviously, it isn’t actually part of the mahayana path.
        But “is that so” is all you’re meant to say, when someone calls you out. Don’t ask for details, don’t give details, don’t apologize, don’t clarify.
        Just stonewall.
        It’s clearly a strategy that has been developed over the years.
        “Is that so”.
        It comes from a story about someone who was given a baby to mind, and didn’t say it wasn’t his.
        Just another tool in the abuser’s box.

    1. How ridiculous is the way the Sakyong is dressing, it reminds me of the yellow robe of Sogyal Rinpoche. One obvious way to look whether a lama is authentic is to check that he doesn’t wear the same type of robe than Hugh Hefner… If on the top he has a huge mansion full of parties and female servants, this is a sure sign!

      1. Ha.
        If you don’t get to live the “Playboy” lifestyle, with sex on tap, what’s the point in even being a guru?

      2. @French Observer,
        I’m not a fan of the Sakyong, but I don’t see anything particularly outlandish about the way he dresses. He dresses are traditional finery for Tibetan royalty, (and while one could say it’s egotistical to constantly show off how royal he is, the clothes are not unusual for a lay lama. In fact, some of his robes are similar to the way the Dalai Lama dressed when he was young (for special occasions). For example, when the Dalai Lama met with Mao when he was in his 20s, (just Google it), he wore very similar robes. Although, since he was a monk, there would have been some minor differences. It’s not unusual at all for a high lama to dress up really fancy, (although we don’t usually see that as much in the West). As for the fancy hats, those are typical Vajrayana lama hats. Nothing unusual at all.

        1. @Catlover, You should look again the photos. I checked: on this occasion with Mao the Dalai Lama didn’t wear the same type of robe than Hugh Hefner…
          Both the Sakyong and Sogyal Rinpoche looked like jerks and I know another one who looks also weird but I don’t want to upset his numerous students.
          In a strange way, vice and power attract people!

          1. I don’t know how Hugh Hefner gets into this. I don’t think either Sakyong or Sogyal look odd or unusual at all, based on the traditional finery that lamas have always worn. Of course, I have not seen the pictures of Hefner that you’re talking about, so I can’t compare.

          2. @French Observer,
            I didn’t say the Dalai Lama wore a High Hefner-like robe. I said the Sakyong’s robes are similar in style to what the DL wore when meeting Mao, and what he wore for other special occasions, although they are not not exactly the same. I never compared the Dalai Lama’s robes to Hugh Hefner, and I am not even sure what you’re talking about in regard to Hugh Hefner. You are the one who made that comparison.
            Also, I want to add that you can’t judge anyone by what they wear. DKR generally dresses in simple “monk’s” robes, or plain lay lama clothes, and he’s also a jerk, so what difference do the clothes make? I do see your point that dressing in a showy style makes them look like show-offs. But ultimately in doesn’t make any difference what these guys are wearing.

            1. @French Observer,
              I meant to say that you are the one who compared the Sakyong’s robes to Hugh Hefner, not that you compared Hefner’s robes to the Dalai Lama. However, I didn’t either.

              1. I meant to say that I didn’t compare Hefner’s robes to the Dalai Lama either. I was comparing the Sakyong’s robes to the Dalai Lama’s dress-up robes, (not the plain ones he usually wears).

    1. And I would like to inform DJKR that already there have been two suicides within the Shambhala community.

      1. He should definitely be informed though doubtful whether at this stage he will change his tune. He set his ship in one direction with Rigpa and has simply continued on that course with his response to the latest Trungpa/Shambhala revelations.
        He’s becoming terribly predictable sadly.

    2. What a load of BS from DKR! Unfortunately, I have heard a similar “spin” before from other teachers and students regarding the Dharma. The only thing that’s going to happen is that because so many have suffered from abusive lamas, (apparently innocent animals were deliberately harmed as well), most of the sane, sensible people will be leaving Buddhism in droves, and as a result, and VERY FEW people will ever “get enlightened.” Frankly, if this is what “enlightenment” looks like, I want no part of it and I will be delighted to remain “unenlightened” forever.

  9. He still seems to be in denial, given his lack of expressed concern for the affected women and the failure to acknowledge the serious, and serial, moral & behavioural lapses of the Sakyong & Sogyal which have led to the suffering and confusion felt by so many in their respective sanghas.
    Dilgo Khyentse’s Bodhisattvic activity has got nothing to do with any of this and i take exception to his name being dragged into the mire to somehow demonstrate that everything is going along just fine at Chateau Vajrayana.
    He cites the stirring words of Pema Chodron, a well-known apologist for everything Shambhala has tried to sweep under the carpet until now. Is that unfair? A facebook Shambalian recently gave the example of approaching PC in a carpark while her attendant was loading her groceries into the car. Pema Chodron had no words of acknowledgement or support for the student, she remained blank and non-commital. There’s so much at stake for these big-time players, they can’t afford to let the dream factory slip from their fingers.
    Meanwhile i’m haunted by DKR’s creepy #metoo meme which encapsulates everything that’s wrong about the way Vajrayana teachers (and many male students, if i may point out) regard women. Exploit their beauty and mock their suffering.
    Finally though, should we not be grateful to OTR for spearheading the Chokyi Lodro namtar? It’s given us insights into the antecedents of the current abuse – the violent, authoritarian and bizarre behaviour that went unchallenged in feudal, monastic Tibet.

  10. @matilda,
    Unfortunately, the whole thing is a corrupt MESS, and since I’ve realized this and finally woken up to this fact, I am disenchanted with the whole entire thing.

    1. I have read somewhere that there are differences of opinion within Shambhala regarding Andrea’s perspective. In the interview, she was asked about her feelings over the Sakyong’s behaviors and she replied that he’s not my teacher, his father is my teacher (e.g. so it doesn’t effect me). I imagine there must be some in the Shambhala community who want to air troubles that originate with CTR and others (like Pema Chodron and DJKR and maybe Andrea) who want him left out of it, who want his image to remain unscathed.

      1. Thanks RH, this line is very powerful from her: “In our dual memoir, we describe our experience as Trungpa’s students, as we watched him turn from an eccentric, brilliant master to a degenerate alcoholic, who eventually became an abusive monster.”

      2. Powerful.
        I am wondering about Dzongsar Khyentse’s main partner who I believe grew up in the Shambhala community. What was she exposed to? What are her views on all of this?

        1. @Rose,
          Can you guess, lol? 😀 I am sure her views are just what DKR is looking for. Someone who grew up with SCAMbhala for so long probably would make the ideal partner for him.

          1. Yes, probably true. I just wonder if all of the stuff coming out into the open now will push any buttons, create any cognitive dissonance for her. It would be very awkward surely.
            Absolutely none of my business but really, how do people maintain their faith in these abusive gurus (SL, CTR) when all their rotteness is exposed? Defies all logic. Must be te result of total brainwashing and mind control.

            1. @Rose,
              If they still have faith, it’s only because they believe there is no abuse from the guru. As soon as they wake up and realize there is abuse, it’s impossible to maintain the faith.

              1. Yes Catlover.
                I now think the way the guru and guru yoga has been portrayed and taught in the West – and maybe back in Tibet, is a form of conditioning that also functions as mind control. After being subject to it for some time, our own judgement is subsumed and we begin to relate to the guru and ourselves with fear – of his omniscience, of misbehaving, thinking wrongly and the hellish consequences of this, of wanting approval not rejection etc etc. The whole see the guru as perfect in every (even mundane) situation is brainwashing and blinding us.
                I know the words mind control and brainwashing are heavy but myself and many others have experienced this when trying to see the valid relative reality of some gurus activities and trust our own judgement and gain confidence to speak out.
                The power of certain ‘teachings’ functions to me as unhealthy mind control causing me to this day some doubt and fear.
                So I’ve answered my own question – whjch was really more a rhetorical exclamation because as these abuses by Lamas become more exposed and verifiable, it’s going to require more of the mind control techniques/teachings to be applied.
                The cognitive dissonance will surely become unbearable and will likely cause much psychological stress in my opinion.

  11. @Joanne,
    “In the interview, she was asked about her feelings over the Sakyong’s behaviors and she replied that he’s not my teacher, his father is my teacher (e.g. so it doesn’t effect me).”
    Wow! So Trungpa was her teacher, lol! Well, he was as bad as it gets, so I guess that would explain her self centered attitude about the whole thing. “Since it doesn’t effect me personally, I don’t care.” (That’s basically what she is saying.)

      1. @Joanne,
        It’s amazing to me that these so-called “Dharma teachers” and senior “Dharma students” are so NON-self aware that they don’t realize how self centered they have become. They preach about “loving all beings” and yet they have absolutely ZERO compassion or concern about what happens to the sentient beings they supposedly “love’ so much. If it doesn’t effect them, they just don’t give a flying rat’s doo-doo about whether others are harmed, or how much they suffer.

    1. @Catlover, she definitely cares about the Sakyong’s behaviour, here is an example from her fb page:
      “I’m putting out a call for anyone who has information about any of Sakyong Mipham’s assaults of women. We are concerned that KC’s efforts at this point are to smooth things over and get back to business as usual. If they intended to hire a third party investigator, they would have done so by now.
      So at this point I’m asking for any women who were sexually assaulted by him, or anyone who witnessed his assaults to approach me confidentially. You can pm me or email me at We would like for you to speak with our investigator, and again, our privacy will be completely protected.Thank you.”

  12. Hmmm, not sure about that. Maybe Andrea just has to be really careful about her public pronouncements, she’s been targetted by the Shambhala authorities with thinly-veiled threats already. Please consider the personal toll on her for all her public work.

    1. Good point Matilda. However I had heard on one discussion that some in Shambhala do not consider her an impartial investigator.

      1. Well i’m sure there’s many of the die-hards who don’t consider her impartial as she’s rocking the boat which they have had anchored in the one spot for decades. But surely her unveiling of the abuse prevalent in the Shambhala community since the seventies, and of which she’s a victim, reflects the culture & behaviour that pervaded during Trungpa’s time?

  13. Re-posted from Leslie Hays fb page with her permission:
    “An Anniversary Recollection of my Sangyum Vows
    As the 33rd anniversary of my Sangyum ceremony passes, I am filled with devotion to the great guru who duped us all and the rapist culture that has defined his legacy. I pay homage to the omniscient one who managed to make thousands of people believe he was enlightened and that this way of being was something to aspire to. I pay homage to the sangha who made it their mission to keep the truth about how he really lived and died secret. I pay homage to the dharma that was built on the belief that elevating narcissists who claimed to have so much more knowledge than the rest of us would result in the blinding bright light of enlightenment. I pay homage to the students who devoted their lives and often their livelihoods and their intelligence to a deeply disturbed sociopath. I pay homage to the Mukpo lineage-which began some 40 or 50 years ago, built on the ravings of a madman who appointed a child molester and murderer to hold his seat. I pay homage to the men who drove that sick bastard, tom rich, around the back alleys of cities late at night looking for prostitutes when the secret was out about his deadly infection and he was too arrogant and addicted to power and sex to care about the men he was infecting. I pay homage to the trees and the greenery and so on. I pay homage to Doctor Death who succeeded in allowing this “master” to kill himself with alcohol, cocaine and forced vomiting. I pay homage to my sangyum sister wives who are probably experiencing some pain and anger due their own ignorance about being used as a sex slave by the great enlightened one. I pay homage to his two sons-Gesar and Osel,-who grew up to be violent, abusive sex offenders like their father.
    I pay homage to Tagi-a true innocent here, who’s mother gave birth through the haze of a fifth of scotch and a scalding hot bath. I am sorry his life was ruined the moment he was born to her. I am sorry that she chooses to spend her money on horses rather than her son and that Tagi now lives in a state-funded group home. I am sorry the Mukpo’s think disowning Gesar means they must disown his child, who didn’t get even a birthday card from this heartless, rich family. I pay homage to the ministers and acharyas and shastris and Kalapa board members who managed to cover up Osel’s crimes for 25 years, silencing and kicking his victims aside with false friendships and trinkets. I pay homage to the women acharyas, including Pema, who want this man to come back and continue robbing the coffers of an organization that claims to be founded on kindness and compassion. I pay homage to the women enablers who sold their sisters down the river in order to maintain some seat of import in this rape culture of sham.
    But from my heart, and for real, I stand 100% with the victims of Osel Mukpo. I am broken hearted for everyone who has taken their lives along the way, especially for those who were under the spell of this false idea of enlightened society. I pledge to keep telling my truth, regardless of the deep hatred that comes my way from current defending members of the sham organization. I forgive my younger 23-year-old self for thinking we were all on some grand mission to bring the dharma to the heathen hordes of small people who needed to find a greater meaning in their lives. Please, I hope everyone who is questioning this gets help and support from outside of the cult. You are so much more than this perverted idea of crazy wisdom.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *