A truly objective third-party investigation if done fully and with transparency by a respected agency should bring closure to the turbulent events in Rigpa and bring much healing to a great many shattered lives.
However, this will not happen, if it’s not begun soon and if it’s not undertaken as extensively and transparently as required.
Who does it, and how wide their terms of reference are will make a huge difference, but anyone doing the investigation, if they’re truly seeking something comprehensive, need to ask the tough questions.
The questions listed below are like doors off a corridor. How many doors will the investigators look into? How many will remain firmly closed? And if the questions are not being asked, then what does that say about the Rigpa of the future?
Questions the investigators need to consider:
- Why did misconduct continue even after a legal case was filed and resolved out of court, with a large financial payment, by Janice Doe in the USA, 1993?
- Who were, and are, the past and present members of Rigpa management that enabled physical, emotional and psychological mistreatment to continue over decades?
- Will the individuals revealed in question 2, who have been complicit in mistreatment or abuse, be removed from the organisation, or not permitted to remain in roles as instructors, managers or other influential positions?
- Why did Rigpa Management repeatedly deny mistreatment and abuse, indicating that they felt there was no problem with Sogyal Lakar’s behaviour, despite being approached by dozens of highly regarded senior instructors, directors and Buddhist practitioners over many decades?
- Why did Rigpa Management and directors hire management consultancy firms to provide training on how best to deny allegations of abuse and mistreatment by Sogyal Lakar?
- Why did Rigpa Management set-up training programmes for qualified therapists to deal with the excessive numbers of victims and the increasing recurrence of people having mental anxiety, depression or neurotic behaviour directly as a result of their relationship and contact with Sogyal Lakar?
- Did these therapists have a hidden agenda to try to encourage their clients to see that their discomfort around Sogyal Lakar’s behaviour lay with them and not with Sogyal Lakar?
- Why were physical assaults committed by Sogyal Lakar, which were witnessed by many people, neither investigated nor reported to the police by Rigpa managers?
- How will victims of abuse or mistreatment be vindicated by this investigation? How will they be able to receive compensation or redress?
- How will victims be given assurances that they will not receive further or additional harassment after the investigation reaches its conclusions?
- How will the investigations findings be permissible in legal cases filed in courts against individuals or Sogyal Lakar?
Perhaps these questions could be forwarded to the investigators, once we know who they are. Let’s face it, those culpable are not going to ask the investigators to ask these questions, are they? But aren’t they the questions that really need addressing here?
Be sure to check out the What Now? Reference Material page for 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.
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. Please use the email address you use on Facebook.
For students who have left Rigpa and don’t want to talk about it anymore, but would like to stay in contact with other ex-Rigpa students, we have created the Dharma Companions Facebook Group. Click the link and ask to join. You will need to answer some questions before being admitted to the group.
Those interested in ‘keeping Tibetan Buddhism clean’ could ‘Like’ the Dharma Protectors Facebook page. Links to posts on this blog will be posted there as well as to other relevant information related to the wider issues involved.