What Now received the following update on the Lewis Silken independent investigation from someone who has been supporting the process of negotiation around the investigation. The writer is not one of the 8 letter writers and does not represent all those involved in negotiations, so the following should be taken only as one viewpoint.
Since the investigation commissioned by Rigpa from London law firm Lewis Silkin was announced, five months ago, not much has been said in public about its progress. The reason for this is that there has been a protracted period of negotiation back and forth via the Lead Investigator, Karen Baxter, between those who would like to participate and the Rigpa “Investigating Committee”. This committee consists of trustees Rich Snow and Liz Acosta in the US and Russell Blakely and Susan Burrows in the UK. Although in contact with the Rigpa leadership, to fulfil their obligations the Investigating Committee has to act with independence from them and their decisions in relation to the investigation are final.
The areas of negotiation have been around who participates and how, protection of confidentiality, protection from prosecution and the publication of the report.
WHO PARTICIPATES AND HOW
When Rigpa announced the investigation, they presented it as being centred around the eight letter writers and announced that these would be participating. However, there had been no discussion with these eight people about whether they wished to participate and, if so, on what terms. Furthermore, all of the issues raised in their letter had already been raised multiple times over past decades, so it seemed important that people with a historical perspective on these issues should also be included to give a more rounded and nuanced picture. Meanwhile there were other current and former students who wished to share their testimonies about experiencing or witnessing abuse or financial misconduct. So, it was agreed that the investigation could be broadened to include a greater diversity of contributors. It was also agreed that whilst the preference of Karen Baxter, the Lead Investigator, was to meet people face to face where possible, people could contribute in whatever way they felt comfortable with, including giving written submissions.
PROTECTION OF CONFIDENTIALITY
The kinds of information and stories that people wish to share are difficult and often traumatic. Victims feel a variety of emotions about discussing their experiences – including fear, shame and anxiety – and many would not wish to be identified as this would add to their trauma. For this reason, it was agreed that each person who participated could chose to what extent they were identifiable or anonymised in the final report. No information about the participants would be shared with Rigpa, unless permission was explicitly given. This means there is the possibility of sharing testimony to provide context, that would be useful in giving the Lead Investigator a clearer picture, with the proviso that none of it can be used directly in the final report, if that’s what people prefer.
PROTECTION FROM PROSECUTION
Another reason that people have felt inhibited about coming forward with their experiences is the concern that what they say may be used against them by Rigpa and they may be threatened with being sued for defamation, despite telling the truth – an intimidatingly costly process for most people to defend. The Investigating Committee offered guarantees that this will not happen. Immunity from prosecution by Rigpa was offered to the letter writers but, on request, the committee has extended that and has stated in recent days “We confirm that no legal action will be taken by or on behalf of Rigpa against any of the 8 letter writers or against any other victim of abuse who comes forward, as a result of their providing witness evidence to Karen [Baxter] as part of the investigation.”
PUBLICATION OF THE REPORT
The final, and initially insuperable, obstacle to many people’s participation in the investigation was that Rigpa would not agree to publish the full report once it was completed – and furthermore, neither the letter writers nor any other participants would be allowed to see it. They would only commit to publishing the “recommendations”. Understandably, many people felt this was totally inadequate and that after decades of failure to deal with these issues or even talk about them openly, this would constitute more of the same and sounded like a cover-up, so participation would be a pointless exercise in which victims were effectively being mistreated yet again. For this reason, many people who had initially offered to participate no longer wished to. Fortunately, there was a change of heart by the Investigating Committee and/or the Rigpa leadership and they recently released the following statement via Karen Baxter, the Lead Investigator at Lewis Silkin:
“The investigating committee has asked me to highlight to you that its members wholeheartedly share your desire to ensure that your concerns are investigated and addressed thoroughly. The committee has absolutely no desire to facilitate a whitewash and its members are clear that that cannot be allowed to happen. There is a need to balance a desire for an open and transparent process against the highly personal, sensitive and confidential nature of the information that might be provided; where witnesses come forward on condition of anonymity or confidentiality, that needs to be respected.
As a result, the investigating committee has agreed to commit to making a copy of the final report available to each of you and to the public. This is on the understanding that I will be asked to ensure that any highly personal or confidential information is redacted, anonymised or otherwise dealt with in a way which respects these sensitivities in the final report. It has been agreed that the way that this is done will be left to my discretion and not determined by the investigating committee or Ripga.”
So, the report will not only be available to participants but also to anyone else who is interested. As a result, the people who had withdrawn their cooperation are now participating and the process of the investigation has begun in earnest. The Rigpa “Vision Board” have stated that they hope the report will be ready “by the summer”. This seems quite a tight deadline, given the work that needs to be done. Although it is understandable that all parties would like to see it as soon as possible, it is more important it is done as well as possible.
Inevitably, some people will still feel wary of being involved in the investigation, given things that have happened in the past. Ultimately it is a question of trust – on both sides. But beyond that, given what the Investigating Committee and the Rigpa leadership have committed themselves to, any attempt to renege on these promises would leave the individual members of the committee, the Rigpa leadership and even Lewis Silkin open to damaging legal action – so it is unlikely.
The more people that come forward with compelling evidence and information, the more specific and thorough the final report can be. The investigators can only draw conclusions from the information they are given.
Hopefully this set of assurances will encourage others to come forward who may have felt reluctant until now. If you have experienced or witnessed anything that you feel would be relevant to the investigation, please contact Karen Baxter at Lewis Silkin, via this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have posted this article in good faith after being assured that the information is accurate, but it may not give a full picture of the situation because these assurances are probably not legally binding. I advise anyone participating to only give evidence that is completely accurate, such that you would feel comfortable testifying to its truth in court.
Details on other investigations of Rigpa that you may wish to participate in can be found on our Details of Investigations page.
Private discussion on this and other related topics can be had on our Secret Facebook Group. Is 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.
Ex-Rigpa students and their Rigpa 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.
71 Replies to “Update on the Independent Investigation”
I’ve just added to the post that these assurances have not been given in a legally binding form.
Let’s see, a high powered law firm is hired by pg and pp to ‘investigate’ what they know is true.
The lead lawyer, WHO IS A PARTNER IN THE FIRM, who has been hired to get them off the hook, gives non-binding assurances and people believe them.
How freaking stupid do they think the rest of us are???
Oh yes, by the way, she’s flying all over the world (literally) on rigpa’s dime, because they want the truth, which they already know. Let’s see, does that pass even the most basic tests of logic?
If you believe that then please send me your bank account #’s so that I can deposit 1,000,000 (chose your currency) left to you by a long lost uncle that you never met but that died.
Oh yes, by the way, in order to get the 1,000,000 to you please transfer 3,000 to the following account # so that we can verify your information. The million is coming, I promise, no, really.
What,don’t you trust me???
Not sure why this person is acting as an agent of the dark side of rigpa but rest assured that’s what’s happening.
“Telling your story, no matter what it is, is an important part of recovering from time in a cult, especially if you were traumatised by experiencing or witnessing abuse, so talking to Karen (those who have spoken to her assure me that she is a lovely person) is good for your healing, especially considering that through speaking to her you can help make the truth accepted as truth.”
Telling it to the wrong people could be very unfortunate. karen baxter will share everything you tell her in a court of law, there is no ‘legal advice privilege’ with victims and her. The only protected communications are between karen baxter and the people paying for her services, she could be compelled to share everything that is told to her by everyone but the perpetrators who are her paying clients!
What court of law are you talking about?
Do you think Rigpa could sue people for having a conversation under assumed conditions of anonymity and confidentiality, that it published only after a lawyer weighs its truth?
The report wouldn’t even count as libelous, and if it did, it would be the lawyer who was guilty.
Alternatively, Lewis Silkin’s reputation for impartial investigation would be utterly destroyed if the partner allowed Rigpa to sue for defamation based on what was said to her in confidence.
That’s a considerably more valuable business than could be squeezed from any potential victims.
If not Lewis Silkin, then shouldn’t people at least communicate with the French investigators?
It seems that you are making some assumptions, that are understandable, so here is another perspective.
People seem to think that rigpa is a monolithic entity that kb is speaking for when in fact she was only hired by rigpa uk and rigpa us. At the absolute outside end the assurances she has procured only apply to those entities.
Apparently there is a rigpa investigation committee that is comprised of two rigpa us board members and two rigpa uk board members, no one has seen any legal agreement that what these 4 individuals say is even binding on their boards never mind other separate legal entities around the world with the name rigpa!
Assuming the committee is authorized to make binding decisions for two boards (binding is the key here, a board resolution is not binding until codified by a legally drawn and signed agreement) how is LS going to be willing or able to block litigation from a myriad of unrelated organizations that carry the name rigpa?
Please keep in mind, ALL rigpa national entities were invited to participate in hiring LS and most declined. This sham ‘investigation’ (I’m loath to even use the word investigation which dignifies the deceit filled process that is underway with credibility that is not present) is only under the auspices of two rigpa entities, they can only speak for themselves; each and every rigpa entity is independent with no legally binding agreements or associations, cooperation is completely voluntary.
I promise you this has been well thought out by people who have been dodging this bullet for up to 40 years, they know that everyone is assuming that the investigation has far more power and authority then in fact does. I wonder if kb understands how she might also be being ‘played’?
We don’t even have to look at hypothetical instances to see how these assurances are completely bogus. At this moment rigpa community members at Lerab Ling are suing a lawyer who indicated that he thought they were a sect? LS can, quite rightfully, claim that they have no relationship with rigpa france, australia, holland, italy, switzerland, germany, lerab ling, rigpa international, the vision board. In fact, in a press conference Sam Truscott stated that the allegations are unfounded. They haven’t even waited for the outcomes of the bogus investigation to start their counter measures.
rigpa uk and rigpa us have absolutely no legal standing to speak for anyone but themselves. There are no international legal agreements so they are not even speaking for rigpa international or the vision board.
I have not weighed in up until now because I thought people would be a bit more logical about this, I couldn’t believe they would fall for this obvious rigpa ploy to make groundless assurances.
I guess it’s understandable if people are still operating under the delusion that rigpa is being run by Buddhists who want to do the right thing, as opposed to the fact that its being run by very disturbed individuals, some who have colluded for 40 years, whose livelihood and reputations are at stake. They have nothing to lose by continuing the lies, they have everything to lose if found out.
Allowing all that to be true, about the assurances, the question still remains:
What, exactly, is the advantage to Rigpa of people giving testimony to LS?
So they can sue people? So testimonies can be raised in court?
That avenue is fully available right now – they have lots of letters from people giving their grievances, and the original letter is public!
Look at Mary Finnigans blog for god’s sake.
So they can prepare counter-statements?
Again, we’re already there.
The only reason the French lawyer was sue, was NOT because of the sect statement, but because he said people were prevented from returning home (held against their will), and they believed that statement untrue (and by implication, other statements were true!)
There’s nothing for them to gain, except, as said below, a clean slate that they can proudly display.
My guess is that kb will write an opinion that she doesn’t have enough facts to prove either way because that’s what she’s being paid to do. That’s what rigpa will then blast all around the world.
She’s being paid for an OPINION. All rigpa has to do is line up people to attest to the opposite of whatever is shared with her and she actually won’t be able to say that she’s got conclusive evidence.
Look at what happened to Ane Chokyi. Eye witnesses in the front row, and one on stage, saw her get punched very forcefully, the breath was knocked out of her, she doubled over in pain and started crying and rushed off stage, not to return for 2 hours. A number of months later she wrote a statement that she was barely touched, she was already crying about something else, bla, bla, bla. kb would have to say that there was no proof that AC was abused because she refuted eye witness accounts.
Just think of all the rigbots willing to perjure themselves to ‘save their lama’. They will be told that they are special, that they have a deep understanding, they will be praised for their wisdom and insight.
The point is rigpa will have an opinion written by a high powered attorney from an international firm stating that there is no conclusive evidence either way. All she needs is one refutation for each testimony (which rigpa knows it can provide) to call it all into question.
For example, this is what Lewis Silken wrote as the outcome of their investigation into Kevin Spacey and the Old Vic
“It has also not been possible to verify any of these allegations, and it is important to note that Kevin Spacey has not commented on them. The review cannot therefore make any findings of fact about the alleged misconduct.”
KS was the artistic director for 11 years and no one knew he was a sexual predator who went after young men…really…really????
THAT is what they are after THAT is why it’s worth spending upwards of 100,000 euro/lb/$ on this farce.
pp, pg, ds, ro, go, have decades of lies to cover for, they are not going to admit to the fact that they have not only known but been a party to abuse for decades.
The only way to block them is to refuse to participate.
For the Old Vic report, 20 people were interviewed.
Only one said they had reported any misconduct to a manager, and had asked the manager to not take it further.
“None had raised a formal complaint, legal claim or request for payment at the time, Mr Miskella added. One of the complainants had told a manager of alleged conduct by Mr Spacey but had requested the matter was taken no further.
Mr Miskella said none of the alleged offences included rape. But he said that Lewis Silkin as the agents of the Old Vic had encouraged 14 of the men who complained to also go to the police.”
So yes – if Karen cannot find anyone to state that, before the letter in July, anyone had raised any issues with anyone in management, then that is what she must report.
It’s really not that simple. She will be using a civil law code to assess whether she believes the claims are true or not. If anyone refutes claims, as in the example of Ane Chokyi, then she can claim that there is no conclusive evidence that wrong doing happened.
It’s all been staged to appear as if there is a credible investigation going on when in fact they are paying a LOT to get it on record that it’s not provable. Added to all of this, it’s explicitly stated that it’s all up to her opinion. hmmm, as a firm with a reputation of getting high end clients off the hook, what will she be working hard to establish???
If that’s their goal, they seem to fuck it up very often.
Here’s another example:
I hope that you’re right and the rigpa elite have outsmarted themselves this time and LS proves to be completely credible!
I think it’s important that anyone who shares information knows that there are risks involved based on the fact that the investigation is being paid for by rigpa.
I think that it’s important to follow the money in these investigations. My guess is LS found what the people paying them wanted to find. In the case above misconduct by a few people. In fact it seems that they were so committed to finding wrongdoing LS was the second law firm brought in.
Are you saying that the legal firm isn’t bound by confidentiality clauses around the victim impact statements?
Yes that is what I’m saying.
If kb is called as a witness in a court case to share what she’s been told there is no legal protection that will keep those statements confidential. Only people who have a ‘privileged’ relationship with her, those who hired her, are protected. She would be obligated by a court of law to fully disclose everything she has been told by witnesses.
The same applies to An Olive Branch.
Or really, any investigation, independent or otherwise.
They could be obligated by a court of law to fully disclose everything they had been told by witnesses.
That’s what obligated means.
The person who wrote this blog is obviously not a lawyer and has no idea what a legal agreement looks like.
They wrote, “given what the Investigating Committee and the Rigpa leadership have committed themselves to, any attempt to renege on these promises would leave the individual members of the committee, the Rigpa leadership and even Lewis Silkin open to damaging legal action – so it is unlikely.”
Don’t make me laugh. Rigpa and Lewis Silkin are not frightened of you. You have no idea what you are talking about. Rigpa is going to run rings round you.
You might as well be a drunk making threats in a bar, or my Trump supporting uncle ranting about the Mueller investigation.
M, you definitely have a legitimate point of view, I also feel no trust in any good will coming from Rigpa, but you can be much kinder to the writer of this blog! Please.
This anonymous person is encouraging people to speak to Rigpa’s lawyer by telling them they have legal cover which they don’t have. What would be a kind way of responding to that?
Explain it better and even with law text. Explain the terms they use like agreement etc tec.
I hope my addition at the end of the article that these assurances are not legally binding will stop anyone thinking that.
@ M Exactly!
Joanne Clark, do you think it’s kind to encourage people to do something that could end up playing into rigpa’s hands?
So why are you encouraging a clean investigation result for Rigpa?
This process, that people refer to as an investigation, is part of a plan to discredit anyone who has criticized sl or rigpa, full stop. Perhaps kb is ignorant of the depths of depravity the rigpa elite will go to in order to protect their cozy set up?
This is not an independent investigation. An independent investigation would be paid for by a pool of people who want a credible outcome, that is the only way to get to the bottom of this cesspool.
Every time someone dignifies this process with the word investigation they are doing the work of the people who are trying to obfuscate the truth. HOW CAN IT BE independent when it’s being paid for by the perpetrators?
To further illustrate the point, it would be like Harvey Weinstein hiring an attorney to investigate whether he was a serial sexual abuser, would anyone believe that was unbiased or independent, or that he sincerely wanted the truth to come out?
kb is a partner in an international firm known for getting high profile clients off the hook. This is on their website, apparently written by kb.
“I’m an employment and partnership law specialist with a brilliantly diverse range of clients; although the main focus of my practice is professional services firms.
As such, I represent a number of major law firms and accountancy practices and have extensive experience advising these firms on employment and partnership related matters, especially issues arising from law firm team moves, discrimination complaints and outsourcing. I am also head of our Professional Services Sector Group.
I help my clients to deal with any employment law challenges which come their way and aim to make the process as smooth as possible for them. I pride myself in taking a pragmatic, commercial and business-focused approach to all of my work. I particularly enjoy resolving high value disputes, both before and after the commencement of litigation, including sensitive discrimination cases, whistleblowing claims, and those involving regulatory matters. I also routinely advise on workplace investigations and restructures, negotiate employment documentation, such as contracts and settlement agreements, and provide training on all of these issues.”
I am willing to believe that kb doesn’t understand how she’s being manipulated, she must be quite bright, but it takes a special sort of person to be as deceitful as the rigpa elite have been for decades. She’s used to ordinary run of the mill perverts and law breakers, this group is at a whole different level.
“I am willing to believe that kb doesn’t understand how she’s being manipulated, she must be quite bright, but it takes a special sort of person to be as deceitful as the rigpa elite have been for decades. She’s used to ordinary run of the mill perverts and law breakers, this group is at a whole different level.”
I am sure that kb knows about what she is doing. Those kind of lawyers are well paid and proud to be skillfull enough to manipulate a more or less stupid public opinion.
Its a kind of mental prostitution, as many people are doing so in order to earn a modest living.
Its not a question of moral and ethics. Those questions are not available so easy for everybody as it is supposed widely. Myriads of people are addicted to doing for money and titles and reputation and power anything as long they do not end up in jail without much reflection.
A couple of people, Joanne Clark and Jan de Vries, want me to say what I said earlier in a kinder way. https://whatnow727.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/update-on-the-independent-investigation/#comment-5388
This is the kinder version.
There is no binding legal agreement with Rigpa to protect people who give evidence to the Rigpa lawyer in the Rigpa investigation. The writer of this blog either knows that and has deliberately misled people, or doesn’t understand the law and is unknowingly misleading people.
I thought it was kinder, in my original post, to assume that the writer of the blog didn’t understand the law, but it is possible that the blog is deliberately misleading.
Who is this person who we are now told in the updated introduction to the blog post, “is not one of the 8 letter writers and does not represent all those involved in negotiations”?
Who would benefit if someone was lulled by a false sense of security to tell everything they know to the Rigpa lawyer?
But who are you?
You insinuate we should not trust the blog writer, but why should we trust you?
You call yourself only M!
Your warnings has the effect that people become scary for speaking out what they know.
You could also be working in favour of the Lewis firm and rigpa, because the want to prevent people from saying the truth and you warning has this effect!
So what is younadvise and solution tomthis problem?
@Jan de Vries
Are you suggesting that people shouldn’t be forewarned, that it’s OK to manipulate people for some presumed greater good and give them inaccurate information?
That they should blindly jump into a process because one person, who is keeping their identity hidden wants them to?
Isn’t that the same kind of blind faith that got us where we are today? Can we at least try to learn from our mistakes?
You don’t have to trust me. You can check the original blog for yourself. You won’t be able to find anything to show that Rigpa has made binding legal agreements that will protect people who talk to the Rigpa lawyer. Only someone with no legal knowledge would be fooled by that. I didn’t write anything that you have to believe on trust, but the blog writer did. Nothing I wrote can potentially have negative consequences for victims of Rigpa, but believing this blog writer could have serious consequences for people who talk to the Rigpa lawyer wrongly thinking Rigpa has given them legal protection, which it hasn’t. My advice is, speak out, but don’t be an idiot. Don’t believe you have legal protections you don’t have.
It seems there is a serious misrepresentation from Rigpa presenting the “UK law firm, Lewis Silkin, to act as a neutral, third-party investigator conducting fact-finding interviews”. Is it not just a law firm contracted to protect the Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche brands? Of course Lewis Silkin represents the interests of Rigpa and in no way is neutral.
The 8 letter writters would be well inspired to make a public declaration stating that the supposed “neutral” investigation is biased and that they will accept to give testimonies only to a true neutral party like An Olive Branch. The whole procedure should be made transparent without any manipulation and negociations of the results possible behind the doors. Also, the priority should be put on protecting the victims and their testimonies.
It seems there is serious inability to distinguish what is known as fact, and what is speculation.
For reference, it is the basis of Lewis Silkin’s engagement:
Dear Susan, Russell, Liz and Zanna
Matter: Confidential Investigation
Thank you for your instructions to act jointly for the Rigpa Fellowship UK and the Rigpa Fellowship USA (together “Rigpa”) to conduct an investigation into a formal complaint raised by a number of individuals in a letter dated 14 July 2017 about the behaviour of Sogyal Rinpoche (the “Complaint’).
I confirm that we will be pleased to provide this service and this engagement letter, together with our Terms of Business, sets out the basis on which we will do so. The letter contains certain information which the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) requires us to provide to you.
The scope and purpose of the investigation
We understand that the overall goal of Rigpa is to restore peace and harmony to all who have been affected by the issues outlined in the Complaint, including anyone who feels personally hurt, as well as those within the worldwide Rigpa community. We acknowledge the Buddhist belief that reconciliation can only be achieved through compassion and understanding, and that you see this investigation as a first step towards that goal.
The initial scope of the investigation is to collate the allegations and establish the facts in respect of the Complaint. This will initially involve interviewing the signatories of the Complaint, but may then extend to interviewing additional witnesses or members of Rigpa management as we deem appropriate (and
achievable within the fee budget). In the event that we consider that the scope of the investigation ought to be widened, we will raise this with you and agree how to proceed. It is acknowledged that our report may be a preliminary report, with a recommendation for further investigation to be carried out.
You have made clear to us that the investigation should be objective and impartial. You have asked that we ensure that due respect and sensitivity is to be shown to those who feel they have been harmed. You have made clear that the fact that Rigpa engages us as a client should not be allowed to influence or bias us in any way. We are happy to proceed on this basis.
We understand that the purpose of the investigation is:
* To ascertain in more detail the specific allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche and the potential witnesses to those allegations.
* To understand the extent to which senior members of Rigpa were aware of these allegations and whether they were dealt with appropriately at the time.
* To enable Rigpa to make a first step towards healing and reconciliation with those who feel they have been harmed, by listening to the experiences in an open, impartial and sensitive way.
* To provide an independent assessment of what Rigpa needs to learn and change in the light of these experiences, in terms of structures, processes and the like.
We have agreed that all interviews conducted as part of the investigation will be protected by confidentiality and not shared with Rigpa, or anyone else unless the witness specifically agrees to this, or we are required disclose this information by law. It is agreed that where we consider that the information we are provided suggests a criminal offence may have been committed, we will encourage the relevant witness to speak to the police.
I will act as the lead investigator, assisted by my colleagues Rhian Hall and Marie Hoolihan, both of whom are qualified lawyers. We will conduct the investigations in locations agreed with the complainants and/or witnesses and it is expected that this is likely to require us to travel to the USA and potentially other locations outside the UK. Efforts will be made to ensure that interviews are held at times and locations to contain the cost of such travel wherever possible.
At the conclusion of my investigation we will produce an investigation report setting out:
* My objective opinion regarding the allegations that have been made, based on the testimonies that I have received and my professional assessment.
* Any further investigations which I consider may be required
* Recommendations of any changes that might be advisable or necessary within Rigpa in light of these findings, whether cultural, structural or procedural.
We hope to be able to provide this report within three months from the commencement of the investigation.
My participation in this investigation will be as an external interviewer and on an “open” basis. As such, I will not be involved in giving legal advice and my involvement, including all communications between us, will not be covered by UK legal advice or litigation privilege. Please note therefore that in the normal manner all communications between us relating to this investigation, together with all documents produced in relation to the interviews and the investigation report are likely to be disclosable if there is any future litigation.
You have indicated that you would like my investigation report to set out my key findings, together with any recommendations or learning points for the organisation going forward. You agree that, where appropriate, I may present findings or take actions within the context of the investigation (such as interviewing people who may have unfavourable things to say about your business) which may not be beneficial to Rigpa’s position.
The paragraphs on fees, Expenses, Vat and Liability are not included here.
We shall be entitled to rely on instructions given by any of Liz Acosta, Zanna Yardas, Russell Blakely and/or Susan Burrows (together the “Investigating Committee”) as for and on behalf of Rigpa.
Your continuing instructions will amount to your acceptance of the terms set out in this letter and our Terms of Business in this matter.
If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me
She can be compelled to share everything, that’s a fact. Check the laws surrounding this.
People should not say anything they would not be comfortable saying under oath in a court of law.
If people are unsure of the truth of their own testimony, then I guess Rigpa really has done a number on them.
Also, anything anyone has written can be compelled to be shared in a court of law – that’s also a fact.
Agreed, that is the bottom line, not giving assurances of anonymity that are false.
I know of one women whose current partner has no idea she was involved with sl and wants to keep it that way, she doesn’t want any chance of it getting out no matter how remote. Another doesn’t want other rigpa students to ever know they came forward. Telling them it would be completely safe to share is beyond cruel, they should have all the facts up front.
Anything less is deceitful and has no place in a blog meant to be supportive of the truth.
None of us has the right to decide for others how they chose to process their experiences. Perhaps they will still come forward, if they get exposed it will be a risk they chose to take, not another instance of being manipulated and misled.
Really, I don’t get it. Why would you let Rigpa’s lawyer lead a “neutral” investigation? Why would the victims accept to talk to this lawyer?
The investigation needs to be done by a third neutral and independent party. I am not a specialist but it seems to make sense for this lawyer to be present only to represent the interests of Rigpa when some of his Rigpa’s members are interviewed.
Anyway, the report of this investigation should be made without any intervention of Rigpa and diffused to a predefined list. It should relate no more and no less than the original testimonies. Then this lawyer can do her job of communication and defense of Rigpa’s interests.
Objectively, what defense is required by Rigpa anyway?
As Sogyal used to say, quoting an Irish solicitor:
“Everything becomes irrelevant if you want long enough.”
I could be wrong, but I see the investigation as being initiated by Rigpa folks who were not as “in the know” as the inner circle, and need a legal basis to push out the bad actors.
*wait long enough
That’s what they’d like you to think. Aside from being told by more than one person that pp and pg personally chose the law firm, Susan Burrows (Bunny) has been around as long as pg and is as untrustworthy as the day is long. She’s a sweet bumbling sort of person that they think we’re all stupid enough to 1. forget her long history 2. be stupid enough to be sucked in because she’s ‘nice’
I don’t think people grasp the depths of manipulation, gas lighting and outright lies that have been told for 4 decades. My guess is that Susan is a direct conduit to pp and pg, they always have an ‘inside’ agent on all key boards and national teams, they pull the strings everywhere, nothing happens without their approval.
If anyone doesn’t understand that the Sam Truscott’s press statement,’ the allegations are unfounded’, isn’t part of a carefully crafted pr scheme, then they just aren’t paying attention.
So what is to be done?
Good question, I certainly don’t have any clear answers, I have ideas, but they are no better than anyone else’s ideas.
In my opinion we should all be as informed as possible, ask difficult probing questions whenever possible. I wonder, did anyone at the recent rigpa event in Holland ask pg directly if he knew of the abuse? Because I know for a fact that he did, that he was a victim of it and also an enabler of it. If he says otherwise HE IS LYING. If no one asked then I wonder why, are we all so cowed that we’ve lost our ability to speak up? Are we all going to be manipulated into feeling gauche (pg’s specialty) if we expect the truth from mr lojong himself?
pp is a rather special person getting his friend djkr to do a tour consolidating his power, even saying some rather scathing things about pg in private meetings. But pp is also a victim, for that matter so is sl, a victim of his upbringing, culture, his family loosing their place, escaping to jkcl’s protection only to lose it again, his head filled with fantasies by a mother with 4 different baby daddies.
For me NONE of this is about blame, about ‘getting’ someone convicted, about testifying, it’s about applying the teachings, examining what’s going on inside of our heads, of digging deep for compassion, about putting a stop to the abuse, lying, and distortion of the teachings.
The challenge is that none of this is black and white, there are many shades of grey, almost no one is completely innocent (including brand new students who sat in shrine rooms while sl berated people for using the wrong tea mug, or the wrong size of bottled water, and just sat there stupefied by his greatness).
I really don’t have a good explanation for why I somehow accepted that sl’s abuse was beneficial for anyone but him, a petty little tyrant who couldn’t bear to have anything around imperfect in his eyes. Looking back I can see a very troubled man who was both OCD and who used fear to control people.
How do we as a community dig out of this mess? OR should it all be dissolved like a sand mandala? Is there an unwholesome attachment to ‘rigpa’ the org or community, one that is in direct conflict with the teachings on emptiness.
I have LOTS of questions that I wish were being discussed openly, instead it’s all stalled at square one because the rigpa elite won’t admit to the truth, healing can’t start until that happens.
@notsohopeful, “I have LOTS of questions that I wish were being discussed openly, instead it’s all stalled at square one because the rigpa elite won’t admit to the truth, healing can’t start until that happens.”
Yes! I think everything comes back to that one point. And I would go further and say that as each day passes and nothing is admitted to by Rigpa OR by the bulk of mainstream Tibetan Buddhist teachers, then the depth of the trouble just looks deeper and darker. The hole gets deeper.
When I left Rigpa, I was horrified to find in my next Dharma center another pile of deceptions and abuses. I stumbled around for a while before the penny dropped that this problem is very big and very extensive. I still fall into the hole of my naive belief that things will improve– I still think maybe it was just me that caused the lamas and senior practitioners I met to be so brutal and unkind– but while we do our work to heal and acknowledge our part in these troubles, I continue to see NONE of that work coming from mainstream Tibetan Buddhist establishments in the west. This is much bigger than Rigpa and very sad.
I feel the same
I think it’s quite obvious at this stage that the “Rigpa elite” are taking the Shaggy defense: denial and gaslighting.
It’s effectiveness will depend on just how masochistic (in the psychological sense) the Rigpa Sangha is, without any legal action being initiated.
“We have agreed that all interviews conducted as part of the investigation will be protected by confidentiality and not shared with Rigpa, or anyone else unless the witness specifically agrees to this, or we are required disclose this information by law. ” = What a joke!
Yes,FO, they INTENTIONALLY confuse people, which is so corrupt. They make that statement in the same letter that they make this statement (which I’ve repeated in my response to RH):
“Please note therefore that in the normal manner all communications between us relating to this investigation, together with all documents produced in relation to the interviews and the investigation report are likely to be disclosable if there is any future litigation.”
Thanks, RH. This is the key statement: “Please note therefore that in the normal manner all communications between us relating to this investigation, together with all documents produced in relation to the interviews and the investigation report are likely to be disclosable if there is any future litigation.”
In my mind, that closes any further discussion. That quote from the letter should be published on this blog as well and made very public.
I agree. I think I’ll do that. The contradiction there says a lot.
RH where did you get the letter?
Joanne, the letter was sent by the “International Holding Group” to everyone in Rigpa, on 12/21/2017.
It’s linked in the Files section here:
Here is a question to think about. Why is Rigpa having an investigation into something main people in the leadership already know is true?
Easy to answer: Rigpa has issued a public statement that it will make an investigation. Now, of course the victims must not participate if the process is all rigged…
Until now, Rigpa’s board has not recognized the facts so probably the strategy is to never officially recognize them: alleged facts, alleged victims, bla bla bla…
Why the victims don’t contact directly An Olive Branche and deposit their testimonies directly. If those testimonies are certified letters, it shouldn’t be so expensive.
That would close the mouth of Rigpa’s board once and for all. Bye, bye PR BS strategy!
It’s my understanding that the Olive Branch is only authorized to collect testimony from people in the US.
Ok, maybe there are some certain limits for An Olive Branch due to US law (not sure why). Anyway, if Rigpa wants an investigation done by a neutral independent third party, it should let the “alleged” victims chose this third party and validate the process.
Otherwise, the whole action being completely rigged, the “alleged” victims should certainly not participate to this PR operation to keep the organization running as usual.
The worst case scenario would be Sogyal Rinpoche coming back to Lerab Ling in a couple years once the allegations would have been officially solved or discarded…
The Olive Branch is willing and able to take testaments of truth from people around the world, no other rigpa entity was willing to engage them, they refused to participate. I wonder if it’s a matter of money to mange the ‘listening posts’, if so perhaps people from other countries could raise funds and join in?
If it is the case, it’s not that difficult to tell Lewis Silkin that the victims will communicate ONLY with An Olive Branch. The simple reason being that Lewis Silkin is not a trustworthy, neutral and independent party. Plus honestly it is not even sure this firm is properly qualified, with sufficient experience concerning religious organizations.
No worry for the money, Rigpa has plenty. It should pay as it wants this investigation done.
None of the ruling elite want a real investigation, the ALL know that it’s ALL true. It’s all just part of their strategy, they’ve gotten away with it for decades, they don’t even vary the play list very much.
They ALL refused to hire An Olive Branch, only rigpa US did due to pressure from students. I don’t understand why the rest of the world is asleep at the wheel, why aren’t people demanding an independent investigation, or at least access to the listening posts???
To not so hopeful any more
I have heard in the Netherlands the most strange ideas, like very deep messages are now giving to us or I stay because I want the dharma being thought in the west, or iI don’t want to pollutemy mind with the lettermof the 8.
There are verynweard coping startegies going on.
Yes, they appeal to people’s arrogance and sense of superiority, YOU are SPECIAL ordinary people can’t understand this.
It’s so SICK, it’s straight out of the Playbook of a child abuser. This is our special secret, if you tell anyone people are going to get hurt.
This is what I wish we could surface and show the true believers.
Thanks Notsohopeful for your excellent comments on this post and the whole blog for that matter. Unfortunately your name is very apt.
I wrote a comment on this blog close to when the letter from the 8 first came out, along the lines of me not believing it was possible for the core of Rigpa to change. The cultish belief structure of the inner circle is remarkably resilient and built for the purpose of protecting the guru. The history of cults does not have many examples where the guru admitted that he caused harm and needed to change.
I left Rigpa 13 years ago after a short but intense involvement with it. So perhaps my opinion is affected by that distance. I left due to the same concerns contained in the letter and this blog. I definitely found it to be a full on experience of cult deprogramming and I wasn’t even in the inner circle. It is all such a tragedy because the teachings are quite pure, if you can identify and discard the corrupted and cultish parts.
Just an idea. I would actually suggest that the people who have been abused should go ahead and press charges. If it’s a criminal offence doesn’t the State prosecute for you? Maybe this has already happened in some people’s cases.
It’s just that the letter doesn’t seem to have resolved the core issues. The lamas may get a stronger message if the pointy end of the law comes after them. And this is the purpose of western countries’ legal systems.
I know our legal systems are not perfect. But if we allow the lamas to escape legal consequences, aren’t we condoning the abuse in some ways?
I understand that some who were abused may not want to put themselves through the legal process. But it could also be a positive thing, although difficult.
Yes, that’s exactly why we have a legal system. What does LL lawyer’s assessment of the situation?
“I can not see this going on without the public prosecutor becoming involved, he has not done this, and no police or gendarmes have made contact with the managers of Lerab Ling “ insists Mr Phung (the lawyer for Lerab Ling)
I don’t see how Prosecuting this in a court of law is going to help with things that are important to me. In fact it will push the True Believers deeper into their delusion. It will make SL and Company into martyrs, which will only increase the Exotic Mystique that has attracted so many people.
There’s also the fact that people have the right to believe what they want to believe, whatever gives them solace and comfort. I think the whole point of the letter was to warn people that their magical mystical experience that makes them special is coming at a high cost to others. Does anyone know anyone who’s been in the Inner Circle who hasn’t experienced either major physical or mental breakdowns, in some cases both?
I only weighed in here because I don’t want victims to be further victimized because people are willing to lie to them to get them to share their stories. As RH has shown, the facts are in the engagement letter we just have to read things more carefully.
Karen from LS has done everything she’s obligated to do as the attorney for rigpa she has no obligation to warn people outside of the publicly shared document.
From what I understand the process that An Olive Branch goes through would be very effective if their outcomes and their reconciliation meeting happened at National Retreats around the world. But of course the rigpa elite will not allow that to happen.
Sogyal went further than just misbehavior and did criminal things, and actual violence against people that would be prosecuted in any normal court of law in any other kind of situation. I think if he broke the law, he should go to trial and the victims need protection OUTSIDE of Rigpa itself before they prosecute. They need REAL lawyers and genuine legal protection. An actual court case might lead to some actual reform, (even if it might make other lamas either keep their business in India/Nepal, (where they are more likely to get away with stuff like that), or drive them underground in some cases. However, at least a court case might delegitimize this kind of abuse and show the world that people are serious about not letting this kind of situation continue within Tibetan Buddhism anymore. Something legal needs to happen here, or this kind of abuse will continue with other lamas in the future, even if Sogyal is too ill now to do much.
“The lamas may get a stronger message if the pointy end of the law comes after them. And this is the purpose of western countries’ legal systems.”
I think what we are experiencing isn’t so different than what is happening in the MeToo movement. I was listening to a reporter who has been helping women to expose the Weinstein abuses and he was saying that every time a case comes to court and wins, such as with Cosby recently, then another piece of the abuse structure is chipped away and it is easier for the next case. So it might be helpful to view things in that way. This is slow– but even in this case, simply seeing Weinstein in handcuffs is helpful imo.
Also, I know definitely for myself that if I had heard anything about these Rigpa shenanigans before I had attended my first teaching, that first teaching would NEVER have happened. So it’s important to view things in this way. I think publicity is just as important as court cases, given how much courage and stamina a survivor needs to bring a suit forward. I have worked as a counselor/advocate for rape survivors and I know that the legal part has to be done in its time and can never be pushed.
@ Joanne Clark
And /Or we cannot imagine the depth of being brainwashed. Everything is so strange in and around Rigpa.
I’m not saying Sogyal’s victims should be pushed into legal court cases if they aren’t ready for that. I’m only saying that IF they want to testify, they need REAL legal help, NOT so-called help from Rigpa.
If they are to be believed, Kalpa seems to be doing a little better than Rigpa at addressing the Shambhala abuses. At least they are not saying “alleged” and are talking about a truly “independent” investigation. Still a long way to go, but Rigpa won’t even get to the most basic kindergarten level of addressing this.
What I just posted are two interviews with Canadian Broadcasting Commission– one with Kalpa and the other with the writer of the Project Sunshine, Andrea Winn.
Sorry, I have never been in Rigpa and I wonder what are those hidden faults you are talking about? Looks to me like a christian idea. From my perspective there is no inherent fault in any being, only ignorance. Why do you talk about faults? Does this concept apply with dzogchen?
I wonder also how can someone on the same time recognize Rigpa and attack willfully someone? Doesn’t seem possible to me.