On the 29th of October, Rigpa management sent out an email to the Rigpa sangha. Titled Sangha Connection, it began with a quote from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. “…In the midst of clouds of impermanence and illusion, dances the lightning of life. Can you say you won’t die tomorrow? Practice the Dharma.”
Lovely quote, but unfortunately it’s one that reminds me of how terribly Rigpa is doing on the score of practising the dharma. Many may be still doing their many sadhanas, but one wonders what they are actually doing when they practice. The results of genuine dharma practice is that we become more compassionate, more kind, freer of defensiveness, negative emotions, hope and fear and so on, and yet as an organisation we see Rigpa focused entirely on defending themselves and maintaining their business interests. This is the bad news: they still show no indication of applying the four healing powers of Vajrasattva to actually heal the situation.
As Chatrul Rinpoche said: “The authentic Dharma is not in the monasteries, it is not in the books and not in the material world, but within the mind. There is a need to awaken it through practice and to realise (actualise) it, in order to be called the continuation or preservation of the Dharma.”
Despite the chatty, (or for some perhaps insultingly jubilant) tone, the lack of compassion still shines through. Still there is nothing in the communication to indicate that management has taken any responsibility for their lack of care of students in the past and in the present. An organisation that cares more about keeping the money rolling in than facing their mistakes and caring for those that have been harmed while working for the organisation is hardly practicing dharma, no matter how many mantras they accumulate.
The communication seems to be designed to sooth readers into complacency by talking about lineage and higher purpose. The subtext is, “Look how wonderful we are; look how much we’ve done; look what new initiatives we’re undertaking; aren’t we grand? Aren’t we worth supporting?” All this communication does is entrench themselves into the position they’ve taken all along – minimise the damage in whatever way you can, make it look like you’re doing something to distract people from the fact that nothing is ever going to change, carry on as usual and wait for it all to blow over. Will it blow over? Or are people sick enough of these kinds of debacles in Buddhism to make sure that the talk will not stop until the issues are properly addressed once and for all.
They list the names of Lamas that have agreed to teach for Rigpa. Do these lamas realise that in Western eyes this indicates their support for a lama accused of abuse and for an organisation that allowed unethical behaviour to flourish in the name of dharma? These teachers need to make some statement about where they stand on the issue of abuse of power in Tibetan Buddhism if they are to retain any integrity in the eyes of Westerners. Sadly, the list includes reputable and excellent teachers: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongrul Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, OT Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Khenchen Pema Sherab. Notably absent are Mingyur Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalia Lama. I’m left hoping that at least some of them will actually address the issue, rather than continue as if it doesn’t exist.
Only two lines are given to the upcoming investigation, and they tell us only that “the independent consultants carrying out the internal investigation will be announced shortly, with the aim of commencing in November. The investigation will compassionately and thoroughly investigate the allegations of abuse that were made against Sogyal Rinpoche and take into account first-hand experiences gained through confidential interviews.” Nothing new there. Another stalling tactic that contributes to a terrible feeling I have that this investigation might be just another cover up. Any investigation where the bill is being paid by Rigpa has to be suspect. Only a police investigation would really be reliable.
Code of conduct
We’re told that the code of conduct will be ready by the end of the year and that they are encouraging everyone to participate in the workshops in order to have their say. The trouble with the workshops is that the discussion is highly restricted. Even when run well, they are very limited in scope. Students are confined to talking only about set topics, and then only about what they themselves have experienced, so they can’t raise the issue of what happened to someone else, or what was reported in the letter from the 8. Many students have reported that during all the sessions designed to provide points for cultural change, the word abuse was never mentioned and would not have been discussed at all had the student not raised it. Others reported that their questions were not answered or they were asked to speak privately about their concerns. So though the workshops have the appearance of openness and listening, their scope is very limited and seems designed more to sooth the students, to make them feel good about the situation than to actually address the problem. It’s as if there is a huge unhouse-trained elephant in the closet that everyone is ignoring despite the stink that taints everything.
The root of the problem – the beliefs that ask students to set aside their discernment and ethical values – are not being discussed. I suspect that those people running the workshops with the best of intentions do not realise that these are cult tactics, designed to keep everyone happy and paying their fees. These workshops are not dealing with the problem, they are carefully avoiding it.
The communication responds to requests by students that there be a place for online communication amongst the whole sangha, and rather than make a new group, which will be of great relief to some, the suggestion is that the All Encompassing Path Facebook Group is the place for such coming together. Will we see a truely open communication happening there? Only time will tell. I expect that many of those within Rigpa are sick of talking about it. It seems that the general focus is to get on with their own path to enlightement, ignoring the fact that unexamined and unquestioned aspects of that path has caused harm to some students.
Developments in Rigpa
Lodyi Gyari Rinpoche and Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche are mentioned as lamas that have been consulted on the matter of putting in place the new spiritual body. If you have been paying attention to what OT has said on this matter you can see what a disaster his involvement is for the future of Tibetan Buddhism in the West – or at least for any healthy future for its students. He’s the one that told the Rigpa sangha in Paris that there was no problem, that Sogyal had done nothing wrong, that the 8 were samaya breakers (how can he tell; he’s not in their minds?) that if a great being kills someone it’s not a problem, and suggested that dharma law is higher than worldly law. Just the sort of person you want running a dharma organisation, right? (Sarcasm!)
Rigpa senior instructors will lead the programmes at the national retreats and “The great news is that these retreats will include specially recorded teachings from Sogyal Rinpoche.” I thought he had retired from teaching! But then his devoted students will be very pleased about this. Also some of these students leading the retreats are likely burying trauma, still in denial about the nature of their treatment at the hands of their teacher. Hardly psychologically healthy role models. If I sound somewhat scathing, it is only in order to point out just how unhealthy the institutional denial of the attested abuse is. Some members of the What Now? group have expressed great concern for the mental health of many still involved in the organisation at its upper levels. Rigpa needs to look very seriously at this.
If anyone is reading this who is unsure of whether or not they have been abused, or who needs assistance to remove themselves from service to Sogyal or Rigpa, please refer to our healing resources page, and feel free to contact us privately via our contact page.
The letter mentions Sogyal’s health but gives no further information than that he is undertaking chemotherapy. We are also informed that Rigpa aims to have closer ties with Lerab Gar in Tibet.
To make Rigpa look good?
The communication announces that “where public courses have recommenced after the summer, instructors have informed new people about the controversy and difficulties Rigpa is currently facing so they can make an informed choice whether they want to continue. This openness has been well received.”
Why was this included? It’s basically saying, “Look how open we are.” But are these students given the link to this blog, to Mingyur Rinpoche’s article, to DZK’s article where he questions S’s qualifications? When existing students aren’t given links to these resources it seems highly unlikely that new students would be given the full picture either. Do they hand out copies of the letter written by the Eight attesting to the abuse?
Twisting words in an attempt to discredit the Eight?
Apparently many students had asked if anyone had “reached out to the long-standing students who wrote the initial letter of grievances to Sogyal Rinpoche.” Instead of saying that no one from Rigpa management has made any attempt to reach out to them, they divert attention from this fact by mentioning S’s group email to the Eight in response to their letter, and they share it to the sangha as an attachment. As their reasoning for sharing S’s reply now the communication states: “The eight students made the reply from Rinpoche public by emailing it to many other people.”
This is not strictly true; that letter is not public. Search for it right now and you will not find it posted on line anywhere.
It was sent openly along with the Eight’s response to S’s letter to the monastics, national directors and international management of Rigpa, not as a Bcc email. Since none of the Eight had heard from Rigpa management they assumed that they knew nothing about this communication and so shared it in the interests of transparency. That openness has been turned against them in this communication by the use of the word ‘public’, which insinuates not only that it was posted publically somewhere, but that sharing the email to Rigpa management was somehow reprehensible. This sentence is entirely unnecessary. It appears that the reason for including it is an attempt to discredit the Eight. Why else is it there?
On the 15th of September the letter did appear on the secret Facebook group, but that is also not public, and as one of the 8 said, “we didn’t agree to let it be posted in the group until the rumors of how we were all being well cared for by S personally became wide spread, then we agreed to post it to set the record straight.”
However, all of this diverts attention from the fact that those running Rigpa, those who failed in their duty of care, have still not reached out.
It is, in fact, Rigpa management who have made S’s letter public by sharing it with the whole sangha.
Watch out Rigpa students; sweet words can have hidden barbs.
P.S. Just to make it completely clear and in an attempt to stop the misinformation circulating within Rigpa, the Eight DID NOT post the original letter outlining the abuse they experienced on the internet or share it on social media. Since the letter went to all Dzogchen mandala students and many of them shared it with other students and likely ex-students, any one of them could have leaked it, but the intention of the Eight was for it to be kept within the sangha.
Current and previous students of Rigpa wanting personal and private support in regards to the abuse issue can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite using the email address you use on Facebook
If you would like to stay in contact with and support ex-Rigpa students, we have created the Dharma Companions Facebook Group. The group files include lists of online courses with reputable teachers, and members can join monthly Skype meetings and retreats. If you’re interested, click the link and ask to join. You will need to answer some questions before being admitted to the group.
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.
Those of you who are interested in ‘keeping Buddhism clean’ in general could ‘Like’ the Dharma Protectors Facebook page. Links to posts on this blog will be posted there as well as links to other relevant information related to the wider issues involved.
143 Replies to “Watch out for sweet words with hidden barbs.”
Thank you for clarifying… unfortunately it feels as if anyone who might benefit from your astute summary is highly unlikely to read this.
The deception of others begins with self-deception and denial. Abuse of others often begins with having been abused. Thanks, Moonfire, for giving people the opportunity to cut the cycle. Many may not have the courage to do the work, of course. It’s neither easy nor comfortable to make the break. And we in the West are conditioned (or even feel we are entitled!) to the comfortable option. So keep up the good work- could be a long haul! ❤️
“reminds me of how terribly Rigpa is doing on the score of practising the dharma. Many may be still doing their many sadhanas, but one wonders what they are actually doing when they practice. The results of genuine dharma practice is that we become more compassionate, more kind, freer of defensiveness, negative emotions, hope and fear and so on, and yet as an organisation we see Rigpa focused entirely on defending themselves and maintaining their business interests. ”
Before I left R.: I asked myself what all my Dharmafriends in R. had been doing all the time in their cushion seat when doing something. I wondered about the outcome, the results, something visible. After wondering for a while, I started asking friends about their feelings toward such a question.
After I while then did I quit R., for to leave silently without much remarks.
In return received I a lot of bad mouthing, bad aftertalk, as many others.
When I met finally Sogyal for a final word: No interest why I left or so, just telling me not to turn against the Lama, as many others do.
When I learned about the abuse: A lot of pictures fell to their places, a whole scheme appeared very clear to me. I understood what had happened.
Some years after I left it came to exist the “group of eight”, then the “how did it happen” and so on. Especially the “https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/” made things more clear quite early.
And now: Its still a long way to go to find a common ground with former R. friends to me.
I still wonder what so many nice people are doing while seating on a meditation seat and what is in their mind while “practizing” informally the rest of the day and night.
Not that I am unrealistic about my own doings, but at least did I throw my “gloriole” into the dustbin adressed to the next recycling site.
For those still within R. and reading here: Try to put honesty with yourself into work, not publicly or so, just for yourself, every day a little bit, like keeping a door a little bit open, for a couple of minutes. Please try it.
In one way, yes these are so much the actions of a cult. But then there are all the lamas giving support, many of them, lamas we all have received teachings from and believed to have integrity. Because they are silent, it’s hard to know what they think. But if Rigpa is even thinking of giving OT a say in spiritual advising and directing, then we might just have to stop fooling ourselves. They are moving backwards, not forwards, and there seems to be a team of lamas supporting them.
The other thing that is worrisome is how easy it is these days to create alternative realities. Students will just believe what is expedient to believe. Makes me want to cry.
I have no doubt that some of the lamas are thinking: yes this is bad, but without the money these idiots are bringing in, nothing is possible elsewhere.
Milk them so we can help our friends and families back home. And if they actually listen to what we say, they will break free on their own anyway, so no guilt.
I am becoming more and more sad reading these texts.
I am just on the Winterberg retreat in Germany and experience openness, compassion and other wonderful qualities especially regarding the sangha including the managment. Especially dealing with “the situation”
You all would be welcomed and be embraced with your pain and suffering and doubts.
Although this is not always easy of course.
And yes, you did not put the letter not into the social medias in the first place
– put to a huge number of people without a pledge for keeping it confidential.
To expect it would not go widely public I would regard as at least pretty naive.
“You all would be welcomed and be embraced with your pain and suffering and doubts.”
The German sangha may be slightly more open, but some of the letter writers gave already been turned away from Rigpa centers. Others who have spoken out have been denied membership renewal to Rigpa.
If you were truly interested in welcoming them to be admitted to a Rigpa retreat, or center, then please, go ahead and try.
Just make sure it is on the condition that they are allowed to speak without censorship.
So when you hear people people criticizing SL’s systematic sexual abuse and violence ( or “the situation” as you so delicately call it ) it makes you sad.
That upsets you, but not the sexual abuse and violence itself?…..and with that kind of attitude you seriously believe critics will be “welcomed and embraced”?
You’re obviously not a victim and you can’t or don’t want to feel empathy for victims, neither do you have any experience of how Rigpa reacts to people who speak out against abuse.
In this context “Openness, compassion and wonderful qualities” are just empty buzz words to make people who are complicit in or indifferent to abuse feel better about themselves.
Those who have understood this “situation” aren’t interested in being “welcomed and embraced” by them, that’s just patronizing hypocrisy.
What we are interested in is the current continued abuse in the form of victim-blaming and medieval threats by Rigpa’s pet fundamentalist lamas, being stopped, the historical abuse being fully acknowledged and justice done, redress made and the abuse prevented from happening again.
That will be “dealing with the situation”.
Bravo Peter — well said. You know better than most about what goes on in the dark corners.
@Chris. I tried to return but it was made it quite clear to me that I wasn’t wanted. I have heard good things about the German and Dutch sangha being more open than the others, so you are in a good place, but still, be careful. Remember that those running the organisation enabled and covered up the abuse for decades. Ask yourself if these are trustworthy, ethical people. Even though there are many good people in the organisation, what comes down from the top may be a subtle attempt to manipulate you into maintaining your financial support rather than allowing you to really consider the fact that they have not addressed the problem of their ongoing lack of care for students who felt harmed.
Thank you again Moonfire for your painstaking, time-consuming analysis of the most recent coat of Rigpa whitewash. Your perspective resonates with me — and with my associates who have, from the start, seen through the spin, the manipulation and the many distortions of Tibetan Buddhadharma. We have a lot in common, most significantly Follow the Money. In my (deeply cynical) view the Bottom Line is the only thing that matters to Sogyal and his cronies — the sex, the adulation and everything else are icing on the cake. As you suggest, the so-called “independent” investigation will be anything but independent . It will have a precise remit to neutralise dissent and to anaesthetise the doubters. I am convinced that Sogyal is directing everything that happens and that his acolytes are obeying orders. I have total contempt for the “lamas” who have agreed to circle the wagons around him by accepting to teach at Rigpa next year. Again as you suggest without doubt the only way to exert effective pressure for root and branch reform is via the laws of the various countries where Rigpa operates. Police investigations are underway in the UK and in France. But they will not be successful without direct, recent evidence. So I appeal to everyone here to spread the word and take action. If you were assaulted or sexually abused in France RECENTLY please contact
Commandant Carbonneaux, Head of the police department in charge of the investigation, who is in liaison with the Procureur of Montpellier;
Email address : Laurent.email@example.com
Phone number : (0033) – 01 57 44 11 64
A specialist lawyer is working on the case with ADFI of Montpellier :
Phone number: 04 67 79 70 68
Laurent Carbonneaux investigated sexual abuse allegations against Sogyal a few years ago, but had to drop the case for lack of evidence. Now he is in pursuit again. But he will not be able to convince the French prosecutors that there’s a case worth further action unless he has recent, corroborative evidence.
As some of you are aware I do not pussyfoot around the Sogyal saga. And I will not give up.
I am not that surprised from what I read so far on this blog, since it is simply the display of samsara in its full splendor. But what surprises me, is for the long term Rigpa students of yours, how little you got from studying the wonderful dharma for years. Indeed, it seems you missed the essential points and only remember the more or less skillful means which made you feel uncomfortable. It is quite incredible that you do not understand that the whole point of the dharma is not to remove the people or outer circumstances which make us suffer, but to remove the one who is suffering. It is not about removing suffering itself, but about transforming our perception of suffering. Actually, there will always be people abusing or trying to abuse us in samsara. What you are doing by exposing the so called abusers, is trying to “fix” samsara. But samsara can’t be fixed. By nature, samsara is suffering. This is the first teaching of the Buddha. But what the Buddha amazingly discovered, is that there is a way of transcending this suffering. By transforming our minds. Why? Because despite suffering might seem to be caused by external conditions, in fact it primarily depends on the mind. So you might hunt abusers your entire life, but you will still feel abused. And you will suffer from that. Not because somebody truly abuses you, but because you see abuse in others behavior, due to your habit of seeing abuse everywhere. That way, your life will become the “hell of feeling abused”.
There is this traditional story of a wise man leaving near a village:
A foreigner comes to him, asking: “what type of people leave in that village?” The wise man asks in return: “what type of people leave in the village you come from?” The foreigner to answer: “oh, where I come from people are very pleasant, nice to talk to and wonderful”. The wise man then says: “it is the same here, people are very pleasant, nice to talk to and wonderful”. Then a second foreigner comes by and asks: “what type of people leave in that village?” The wise man asks again in return: “what type of people leave in the village you come from?” The foreigner to answer: “where I come from, people are not pleasant, not nice to talk to and very mean”. The wise man then says: “it is the same here, people are not pleasant, not nice to talk to and very mean”.
Why does the wise man answer this way? Because what truly matters is not how people truly are in the village, but how the foreigner is used to consider people. We could add the following to the story:
Then a third foreigner comes by and asks: “what type of people leave in that village?” The wise man asks again in return: “what type of people leave in the village you come from?” The foreigner to answer: “where I come from, people are very abusive”. The wise man then says: “it is the same here, people are very abusive”.
Now for those who recognize the truth in this story, it is crucial to learn how to acknowledge how things went wrong. It is not about judging or blaming oneself, but acknowledging with dignity, self compassion and honesty the mistakes we made. Not because someone decided the mistakes we did were sins, but only because they bring suffering upon us, we have to put an end to it. When we manage to face ourselves this way, only then are we true spiritual practitioners and the healing can take place. We have to learn how to find the healing within our own hearts, how to find the inner kindness, which brings the purification of our destructive habits. Nobody else can do that for us. Nothing else can bring us true healing. Not even sending the people who made us suffer to jail. If we stick to our judging and blaming habits, then it makes it very difficult to look within, it makes it very painful to look at our own faults, it is almost impossible. By training in replacing judgment by love and compassion, blaming by taking responsibility and forgiving, not only will we become more at peace with ourselves, but we will also stop judging and blaming others. We will begin to understand the confusion in others, realize that exactly as we are, they are just victims of their own ignorance.
As a reminder of how uncompromising the dharma is, I would like to bring here the words of the Lord Buddha himself:
“Bhikkus, even if bandits were to sever you savagely limb by limb with a two-handed saw, he who gave rise to a mind of hate towards them would not be carrying out my teaching.”
Majjhima Nikāya, Kakacūpama Sutta, §20
This unfortunately deluded individual has lost contact with the relative world. Moral and ethical values for example? If this person’s POV is an example of Rigpa “teachings” then it really is time for root and branch reform — or consignment to the dustbin of history.
A truly terrible post, demonstrating the ethical abyss into which some practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism have fallen.
Taken to its logical conclusion, the argument presented here would mean there would be no need to intervene in any circumstance, ever, no matter what horrendous acts are taking place. This is a perverse reading of the dharma, but one, it appears, that all too many argue for.
I’d like to be shocked, but the regularity with which this and similar ideas have been out forward in recent months precludes that.
It’s not all Tibetan Buddhists of course. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has spoken out very strongly against this attitude, and again Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche.
What we see here is a form of sado-masachism, or perhaps we can start calling it homeopathic sado-masachism: the view that more suffering brings relief from suffering.
You just have to learn how to stop thinking and love the pain.
It has been suggested that the inner circle around Sogyal are a BDSM clique minus a safe word. There may be some actual truth in this, but your comment hits the nail on the head — homeopathic S&M — brilliant.
It’s almost like these people have never met a cluster-B personality in real life before!
This being the Year of the Trump has exposed so many of the strategies and behaviors to the world.
@ shit lover
you are right in that forgiveness is necessary to become free of the trauma. And yes, ultimatly you can only change a situation if you are willing to assume a 100 % responsibility for absolutly everything you experience, because you are the creator of your reality.
1.) Forgiveness is different from denial. First you have to acknowledge the situation as it is and be willing to experience all the emotions attached to it. No qualified therapist will ever start by telling people that they need to forgive.
2.) It’s true that suffering can – for some people – push them into enlightenment or closer to it, if they are able to use it and stay completly present with it. (Eckhart Tolle expands on this.)
BUT, it doesn’t need a Bodhisattva to inflict suffering on people. There are enough people these days, that are willing to do the job. The job of a Bodhisattva is to REDUCE suffering and ultimatly to bring an end to suffering through teaching. Many teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche were great, and nobody says anything against that. The 8 writers of the letter explicitly acknowledged that.
3.) Forgivness is an attitude in the heart. It does not mean condoning the infliction of harm on the external level. To stand up against injustice and abuse and to stand for the truth is the job of a Bodhisattva. As the Dalai Lama always says, we have to see the difference between the person and his or her actions. The Dalai Lama was very clear in that, when he said: “Sogyal Rinpoche – my very good friend – but he disgraced.” Seeing the inhearent purity of the person and therefor loving the person is forgiveness. But even in the best interest of the person it is sometimes necessary to stop the harm. Love sometimes says “No”.
4.) Ultimatly in essence we are all one. There is no point where I stop und you start. So criticizing a person from that perspective is not different from seeing you own shortcomings and mistakes and trying to correct them. You would not call that “judgment”. Judgment comes from the illusion of separation, not from clearity.
5.) The teachings we received in Rigpa were not clear enough and not differenciated enough on that topic – to my opignon. But that’s just me. I like to dive deep. And I found much additional cleariry and deeper understanding from the lectures of Marianne Williamson.
6.) BTW: What you write about forgivness, taking responsibility, not judging and applying the teachings should also apply to Rigpa itself. I must say that I heard ill speach from members of the Rigpa Sangha about the 8 writers of the letter as well as of others who left Rigpa. And also Sogyal Rinpoche – at least in the past – saw himself rather as a victim of those people criticizing him, than taking 100 % responsibility for the situation. But I am sure – when time comes – he will do so. In essence he has good heart. And the Universe is helping all of us to get there.
A little fictive story ;
Once upon a day, a person named GreatLover enters a police station, covered with blood, and says, crying : ” Sir, please help me, somebody robbed me, beat me and… and… raped me !”
The policeman : ” You know it is simply the display of samsara in its full splendor. Do you suffer ?”
GreatLover : ” Yes a lot, please call a doctor !”
The policeman : ” Here is my advice, you just need to remove the one who is suffering. Do you understand ? It’s very painful to look at our own faults, but try.”
GreatLover : “But, but, you won’t call a doctor !?”
The policeman : “NO. Stop judging and blaming others. You have to find the healing withing your own heart. GET OUT OF HERE. ! “
thats saying all !!!
Moonfire, thank you for your clear essay on the situation now. It must be a hard job to keep knocking on doors that do not (yet) open. But know, that you have a great amount of supporters that may not be so eloquent and sharp in analysis.
From all dialogue so far I just want to add two considerations that may be helpfull to understand the toughness of getting a honest answer. First there is the fact that all are students or followers of a supposedly master that is trusted and leading on a way to development and liberation not to think even the promise of enlightenment. When are we able to distinguish between truth or deception or even to let doubt in to consider that you may have been misled.
A second aspect that I encounter is even more thought provoking. That is to consider that the path or way of the teachings is not leading to liberation, but to dependency. Not to autonomy but to a unbreakable leash with the teacher, within a social system that empowers this.
It is my experience of so many years that I have been in charge of organising (Tibetan) Buddhist seminars, teachings and lectures at the Kosmos Center in Amsterdam, that only very few, really rare teachers do exist that teach as a first lesson to stay awake, to listen with ears wide open and critical thinking at work. To teach with the invitation to not believe, to not accept what is suggested.
For me these principles are distinctive for true teachers.
I know though how difficult it is to say farewell to a learning relation that you may have worked on for years.
‘Lost contact’….yep, looks like they’ve started spiking the muesli on retreats. This is Jim Jones all over again.
As Homer Simpson would say: “mmmm….Kool Aid…..”
Thanks, I’d never heard it referred to as ‘Cluster B’ before, and when I started reading up on it, I found some really fascinating information on the varying ways in which Narcissistic Personality Disorder presents.
As has been pointed out many times before, SL’s behaviour conforms very closely to the DSM definition of NPD, but what was notable for me was the current understanding of the causes, some of which pretty much describe what happens to a small child selected for the Tulku system who goes on to become a well-known lama.
The list of suspected causal childhood factors includes:
Excessive admiration, never balanced with realistic feedback.
Excessive praise for good behaviors or excessive criticism and punishment for bad behaviors in childhood.
Overindulgence and overvaluation by parents, other family members, adults or peers.
Being praised for perceived exceptional abilities by adults.
Severe emotional abuse in childhood.
Unpredictable or unreliable caregiving from parents.
Learning manipulative behaviors from parents or peers.
Valued by parents or other adults as a means to regulate their own self-esteem.
For anyone not familiar with the key traits of NPD :
Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from other people
Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc.
Self-perception of being unique, superior, and associated with high-status people and institutions
Needing continual admiration from others
Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others
Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain
Unwilling to empathize with the feelings, wishes, and needs of other people
Pompous and arrogant demeanor
Constantly manipulative behaviour forms a large section of the narcissist’s strategy, and it’s well understood that they can mask their personality traits very effectively when it’s to their advantage to do so by appearing kind, charming or even charismatic.
Apparently when exposed and confronted by authority they can pretend to be contrite.
The more you read the more it looks as if Tibetan Buddhism is a factory for churning out men with personality disorders,and (as if we didn’t already have enough problems), these men have set up an international web of organisations to allow them to indulge their narcissism…..and make a lot of money into the bargain.
The consensus of professional opinion is that there is only one effective way of dealing with a narcissist and that is to break all contact with them permanently.
Did you follow the Rob Titchener thread on the Archers? Extremely painful listening but extremely educational re NPD. Sogyal and many other TB lamas fit the model.
No, too far south for the BBC, but apart from Sogyal I’ve known a few others, and of course the world seems to be run by them these days……and they’ve got nukes.
If as some people think, there’s been positive evolutionary selection at work for similar personality disorders and they may represent as much as 1% of the population, then I suppose that could explain a lot of human history: one man’s hubris, everyone else’s nemesis. Sobering thought.
@ Pete Cowell
You are right insofar as considering the narcissistic individual, but it is useful to also consider the context – what we see among the group which enables this sort of behaviour is a very strong group identification similar to football fanatics or ultra-nationalists – in other words, an excessive group narcissism which acts as a supplement to the individual narcissism of the leader.
this article, “watch out for sweet words with barbed” mind is written with a crystal clear intellect and I would agree to many arguments and thoughts in this posting.
but I miss the analysis of why you – or me or anyone – was attracted by this master – teacher – initially, why they were drawn to the sangha and a membership.
seems that nobody is getting it – you, me, everyone who had been drawn into that relationship, even if they left in the meantime has to ask themselves that one question if they ever want to leave the cycle.
now to diagnose other people – i.e. their counterpart – as narcissists or whatever mentally dysfunctional, leaves out the part or role that they might have embodied themselves in it.
but i guess it’s useless to hint at this…
so again, a lot of spiritual or intellectual bypassing from all participants. including the rigpa sangha.
Your question is right, but in a way obvious. Why seek people insight? Why do people want to understand life, or the meaning of life? Why are people searching for salvation?
Yes, because people are human.
These questions brought in millenia people to churches, temples, masters and teachers. Who could lead us from the dark into the light?
Without doubt, most people that went to seek for answers in Buddhism may have been looking in other religions too, or just turned away from other religions because they could not find answers there.
Tibetan Buddhism seems to offer a way to insight, awareness and -sometimes said- enlightenment.
This promiss, is offered in an attractive way and setting, and practiced by a great amount of kind and sensible people. Who can resist that, if you -on your soul search- feel invited and welcomed?
The practice that comes with the teachings does lead to results. If these are small or great, effort pays off.
Within the system of a school, and a teacher that leads that, it is almost inevitable that the teacher gets an aura of authority. And, this is supported by the teachings self, that have been transferred maybe through centuries, and supported by the claims of lineage, tough studies and not to leave out: reincarnation.
And there it all starts.
Students may have real questions of life and find a master that offers help. As I wrote before, here also starts a process of adaptation, adoption, believes and much more. Without question also a process of projection and many times of admiration and love.
The setting is there, people open up, give all trust to the teacher. And then it happens.
Many times, as we have seen throughout the last 20 to 30 years, with great damage. To all involved, in the first place the students, and to Buddhism in general.
It is less public, still, then the metoo wave. But it is more then severe, as people are harmed physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual.
All ethical values have been lost. And still the organisation(s) and responsible people in it, non the least the teacher(s) try to escape. They work on damage control, denial, tell us that it is not so serious, it comes with trhe teachings, crazy monk wisdom, and then blame the victims, make the victims (co)responsible and more.
It may still be a long way before we hear excuses and words of comfort, and find help that is effective.
But, I am sure it will come, as long as we keep asking, knock on closed doors and speak.
Publish. Write, talk. Listen.
I myself are very disappointed by the information I get, but even more by the teachers that I have trusted personally in the past nearly fifty or so years, that I walk among them and worked with many of them closely together.
Quite right, I agree with this…
Many people went to a Rigpa reteat because they read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and found it resonated with them. Once at retreat, they found more of the same wisdom – yes it’s true we had good teachings – we saw some behaviour that made us think S was a bit of a grumpy guy, but we also experienced a sense of peace in his presence. That sense of peace is what caught/attracted people and perhaps you could say addicted people. What most of us saw was just grumpiness (from my POV) enough to make me quite sure he wasn’t enlightened, but I accepted his personality because the teachings were good. I got a lot out of them. I had no idea how bad his behaviour was behind the scenes, and everything seemed geniuine and people were kind and supportive. That is the experience of the general student. The problem of people accepting this behaviour as somehow okay was at National level and in the inner circle. Once there the dynamics of an existing belief system had them in their grip. There was place and certianly no time for questioning. At that level your questions were supposed to have all been answered. And yet some had never really questioned and they certainly didn’t know they were going to be beaten. The post on Why didn’t the Leave expalins the rest.
If you missed that analysis, that simply means you didn’t look at the other articles in the blog.
There’s about 40 articles in total. Feel free to take your time. Don’t bypass them.
Try “Confessions of a Devoted Student” for starters.
Or, do you expect each article to contain a summary of every previous article? Because that would probably be unreasonable.
, o yes, sorry, my mistake, masters of celebration.
no one could hold a candle to you 😀
Honestly don’t know what point you’re actually trying to make.
Maybe you’re not trying to make a point, just run-of-the-mill trolling.
I hope you took the time to read Eckart’s response because it’s a very humane and thorough precis of what has happened and if you take it to heart it might help you. And as EuDawn said: you obviously didn’t read the previous posts that might answer your questions about why we were all drawn to Buddhism.
I agree with them, but my take on your comments is also that you’re trying to blame the victims in an underhand way while trying to appear neutral. You’re not, as you think, hinting at it, your intention is actually quite obvious and your tone condescending.
So, here’s a simple analogy for you to think about:
You’re in distress as a result of trauma and you decide you need therapy, you choose a therapist because he’s completely accredited by the entire medical establishment, highly successful, popular and has even written a highly acclaimed self-help book.
Your therapist gradually gains your confidence and trust, then sexually assaults you and punches you. You then find out that he’s never completed his training, forged his own qualifications and has already assaulted many patients throughout his career, but the medical establishment has ignored it.
Would you believe you had any responsibility at all for what happened?
Would you accuse other victims who didn’t believe you had any responsiblity and tried to help you, of “intellectual bypassing”?
Chrillerx informed us on gendublog that he had anwered the comment yesterday, but it wasn’t published.
Another comment again has not been published. But you can find it on gendunblog.
Gendunblog? Sounds like it’s quite a party over there. YOu, veggiegirl, Chriller – which is funny cos i’ve always associated ‘gendun’ with the monastic life. My bad.
For those who missed it, here is the answer from Tenzin Palmo about her visit to Rigpa UK planned next May 2018.
The main jokes:
“Nowadays the situation of Sogyal Rinpoche has already been dealt with”.
“Must we persecute his followers too?”. Sure, to have to take the subway to receive teachings from Tenzin Palmo in another dharma center would be a real unfair persecution for Rigpa members!
“This Sogyal issue is not my concern so please do not involve me from now on”. So, why do you go to a Rigpa center? Don’t you know that the money you’ll receive from Rigpa come from Sogyal’s goodwill? Are you going to feel comfortable to sit on Sogyal Rinpoche’s throne with his picture behind you?
Bottom line, Tenzin Palmo is a westerner, so she fully understands the context. What a different answer than the position from Matthieu Ricard! I feel her justification lacks one main aspect: the total amount of money and donations her organization has received from Rigpa and Rigpa members throughout time…
As she said: “The unethical conduct of Sogyal Rinpoche has been known for many years” and it never seemed to bother her when she visited Sogyal centers before.
@French Observer. People really also need to read the email sent to Tenzin Palmo. It was damning of Tenzin Palmo and didn’t leave any room for dialogue on what has actually been going on at Rigpa in recent times. If you want to engage and persuade someone, you won’t succeed by being irate and judgemental in the first instance. The basic rule is to cut your emotions out of the equation and that’s Buddhism 101. It’s pretty much shut the door on the matter, from TP’s side, as evident in her response. Not skillfull at all.
The What Now people have managed to assert their point of view in far more elegant and considerate terms while still being incisive. Chalk and cheese.
Matilda that really is not a fair assessment. I wrote that email. It did not originate in emotional overload. It was written in the light of the absence of any semblance of integrity on the part of the people in control at Rigpa at the moment. .and the lazy, supine responses to the crisis of confidence in Tibetan dharma since the publication of the 8 signatories letter. OK. .I am aaware of Tahlia’s efforts and Sandra and Bernie. Their approach is fine and and a useful addition to the overall response. Mine is different. Call it a blunt instrument if you like but it has its value and it’s relevance in the overall scheme of things. The slimeballs who have perticipated in, condoned and enabled Sogyal’s depravity for decades are still in charge at Rigpa. By accepting an invitation from them to teach at Rigpa London Tenzin Palmo is endorsing that culture of denial and deception. That’s the nuts and bolts of it. Why are you offended by the fact that I and others are offended by this? And that we articulate our view in unequivocal language?
Mary, we know what’s going on at Rigpa,but the tawdry crisis doesn’t justify putting it all on Tenzin Palmo’s shoulders. I get the feeling she hasn’t read the letter from the eight. If you wanted Tenzin Palmo to reflect and be fully aware of the crisis, you’ve gone about it in entirely the wrong way. Put yourself in her shoes, if you received such a shitty email, would you be persuaded to the point of view of the writer?
No — I’d be shocked and make it my business to find out about the agenda behind it. Shock tactics — not shit tactics. As one commentator on Open Buddhism put it, TP is either a culpable accessory to criminal behaviour or naively disingenuous. (I paraphrase).
With all respect, as a Rigpa member I read what you wrote years ago but I didn’t believe it because I hadn’t seen any abuse personally, nor had I heard of it. Something about the way you wrote seemed unbelievable to me and I thought it sounded deeply angry. I understand now why you felt and feel that way. But I do think it’s important to be able to not offend people and turn them away. I don’t mean this as a criticism, just as something to consider. Sometimes it takes a dialogue.
Thanks Starshine for your kind words. I’m glad you now realise that my direct unequivocal style has been vindicated. Lots of Rigpa people mistake direct communication for anger. In my case I acknowledge anger as a genuine reaction to the circumstances I am dealing with re Sogyal. I will definitely not change my style to fall in line with the pussyfoot school of Tibetan Buddhism! This emphasis on the respectful bordering on obsequious is a control mechanism. It is not Right Speech in the way I interpret the Buddha’s teachings.
Oh, come on! Do you really think Tenzin Palmo didn’t know for years what was going on at Rigpa? They ALL knew what was going on at Rigpa, so to say that she needs to be made aware of it is really being naive. For her to say she has nothing to do with it is a very UN-compassionate answer, imo. It just shows that she is just going along with the fundies, same as DKR. I am disappointed in her. There is NO excuse for her to ignore it and be so snippy about it. She isn’t even Tibetan, so no one can say it’s just a “cultural” thing.
As for Mary’s email, it’s true that one can sometimes catch more flies with honey, so to speak, so I don’t know whether the email could have been worded better, (I didn’t read it yet). But why shouldn’t people be outraged and start writing angry letters, at this point?!?!? It’s just STUPID how long this has been going on and how far it has gotten out of hand!
@Catlover, where have i stated that TP didn’t know what was going on at Rigpa? I wrote that i don’t think she’s read the recent letter. My point is exactly about catching flies with honey. What is the point of getting Lamas, who have many of the credentials to be helpful witnesses in the quest for reform, offside with an unnecessarily unpleasant communication?
In TP’s response to MF, TP mentioned Sogyal’s unsavoury reputation. But she also claimed the situation at Rigpa had been resolved, which is obviously wrong. Hence, it would have been good to calmly and reasonably outline the concerns.
Look, if we’re going to have this debate, can people please read what i’ve actually written and not go off into the realm of magical thinking? Catlover, please read what’s on the page,instead of coming to hasty conclusions.
Apologies if I misunderstood what you said. It sounded to me like you believed she didn’t know the details. In any case, TP seems to be supporting the “party line.”
It would be interesting to read the email, so where is there a link?
Sign up to the FB group Open Buddhism. The TP message strand has (so far) generated 100+ comments.
@matilda7, I agree with you that an effective communication is assertive and non-aggressive.
Now, to put the answer from Tenzin Palmo in perspective, Here is the letter I have sent to Tenzin Palmo on October, 26. I have still received no answer.
And here is the joined letter to Khamtrul Rinpoche:
That’s excellent — except for the Venerable and Eminence guff. I am re-posting this on Open Buddhism.
Tenzin Palmo already made it quite clear that she wants nothing to do with this issue. She has removed herself and she doesn’t want to be involved. What makes you think she will respond? I wouldn’t waste my time trying to get her help. Instead, try writing to Mingyur Rinpoche instead.
That message was meant for French observer.
Hi @Catlover, maybe you didn’t realize that these letters were sent well before Tenzin Palmo’s response.
Of course it would be nice to receive an answer or a receipt confirmation but we don’t know them personally and they may not be ready to make some further public statements. Anyway, nothing can never undermine my deep respect and admiration for the practice journey of Tenzin Palmo and the Tokdens.
I think the most important was to provide them with some information they may have missed. We can only try to create the best causes and conditions…
Maybe, we have also to realize that the visiting Masters have the financial responsibility to sustain their own communities and they won’t confront directly the situation. Rigpa is such a strong cash cow and powerful distribution network to western practitioners.
If Rigpa organization wanted to solve its own problems, it would be so easy. Just inviting the Dalai Lama or Mingyur Rinpoche for one teaching, it would be all solved. Clearly, they don’t want despite the fact that the Dalai Lama may be the last living master of Sogyal Rinpoche and there is still his photo as a Master in the Rigpa centers.
Once Rigpa students are fully informed of the facts and situation, ultimately it is their choice to go to those centers. It is just not correct to lie to them as Rigpa management still do for the time being.
“Maybe, we have also to realize that the visiting Masters have the financial responsibility to sustain their own communities and they won’t confront directly the situation. Rigpa is such a strong cash cow and powerful distribution network to western practitioners.”
So as long as a lot of money is involved, it’s okay to just go on endorsing corrupt institutions and teachers? That’s what it sounds like you’re saying, so correct me if I misunderstood you. But to me it sounds like you are excusing business as usual as long as they have to make their $$$ to prop up their own “sanghas.”
I don’t think having the Dalai Lama or Mingyur Rinpoche visit would solve anything. If they visited Rigpa, it would make them look like they support Rigpa and Sogyal, and it would seem like all their recent statements against abuse were just for PR purposes and nothing else. (I would take it that way if they visited right now at this time.) I think ALL the respectable teachers should boycott Rigpa and make a public statement that they are not going to visit or endorse the center at all until serious reforms are finalized. It’s not like Rigpa’s students can’t find teachings elsewhere, and by continuing to prop institutions that have not reformed yet, visiting teachers are just is must making the problems within TB all that more entrenched. That’s my opinion, and you can certainly disagree with me and are entitled to your own opinion. But I am not going to change my mind. I see teachers visiting Rigpa as an endorsement of Sogyal, especially at this particular time.
Also, I think it’s clear that Tenzin palmo is not going to respond or help out anyone in this situation. She made it quite clear how she feels about it, regardless of whether she made her statement before you sent you letter or after.
I would try writing to Minyur Rinposhe first. Then maybe you could try Khadro-la (Tseringma, who is actually a Nyingma practitioner herself), the Dalai Lama, (although people have tried writing to him and they got no response, but he is a celebrity, so maybe he can’t ever respond). Then there is Lama Zopa, who seems to have some integrity, (who also practices nyingma), and maybe some of the other FPMT teachers in that small circle of teachers. (I know they may not be considered strictly Nyingma themselves, but it’s possible that they could direct you to Nyingma teachers who might be able to respond. Maybe Yangsi Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche would respond. You could also try Yangsi kalu Rinpoche. (He was abused himself, so he might be sympathetic, and even though he is Karma Kagyu, he might know of some way to help.) If any of those teachers can’t/won’t help, it’s hopeless, imo. (Btw, isn’t Tenzin Palmo Karma Kagyu?)
Also, Venerable Robina Courtin is a Western Buddhist nun, who has sometimes stood up for women’s rights in Buddhist issues, so she *might* help somehow, even though I believe she is strictly Gelug.
Totally agree. There’s been a tsunami of opinion re high profile teachers accepting invitations from Rigpa since I posted the exchanges between me and TP on Open Buddhism. You state the most significant aspect. The shock horror possibility that the cash flow generated by global organisations like Rigpa might be reduced or eliminated is their primary motivation. Boycotting Rigpa would be a matter of principle — but that’s wholly counter productive to the Bottom Line.
@Mary, as stated in the letter I don’t think that boycotting Rigpa would be the best solution. Can you indicate the place where we can find information about those teachers accepting invitations from Rigpa?
Erm — their individual web sites? Maybe I was muddled by so much input here I confused your comments with someone else’s.
OK Mary, I didn’t understand the “opinion re high profile” but I guess it was just a typo. Sorry for my weak english, I am just a french guy…
If you learn about any new teacher accepting an invitation, please share the info with us.
@Catlover, yes you misunderstood me. I was not making any judgment but just an observation.
On the other topics, we don’t have the assessment of the situation which is perfectly OK.
Sorry, I meant: we don’t have the same assessment of the situation which is perfectly OK.
French Observer, the list of lamas agreeing to teach at Rigpa is listed in the article above:
“They list the names of Lamas that have agreed to teach for Rigpa. Do these lamas realise that in Western eyes this indicates their support for a lama accused of abuse and for an organisation that allowed unethical behaviour to flourish in the name of dharma? These teachers need to make some statement about where they stand on the issue of abuse of power in Tibetan Buddhism if they are to retain any integrity in the eyes of Westerners. Sadly, the list includes reputable and excellent teachers: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongrul Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, OT Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Khenchen Pema Sherab. Notably absent are Mingyur Rinpoche and His Holiness the Dalia Lama. I’m left hoping that at least some of them will actually address the issue, rather than continue as if it doesn’t exist.”
Ok, thanks Joanne. Well, it would be interesting to get the complete list of visiting teachers from this Rigpa mail: I see that Tenzin Palmo and Khamtrul Rinpoche are missing.
So ladies, what do you suggest in front of such a situation? I thought first about a petition but finally even if we collect 1’000 to 2’000 signatures, there won’t be much impact.
– One simple solution would be to write a standard informative letter and mail it each time to the teacher. Maybe, making this letter public on the social networks.
– Another more sophisticated answer, would be to prepare a file for the newspapers in each of our country explaining the dysfunctional situation. Of course the names of those lamas would be included.
– Maybe we should just let it go. Because really the Rigpa students are responsible for the present situation. A simple strike or boycott would solve the issue.
Any idea or suggestion? This “dharma as usual” ie cover-up operation is hard to swallow.
@ French Observer @Mary Finnegan
Some members of the What Now? group are working on a respectful letter to be sent to all the visiting teachers. It will include the letter to the 8 and a copy of Mingyur RInpoche’s article and HH’s comments from the conference in Dharamsala in 1993 (and perhaps Mattieu Ricard’s statement). The aim is to make sure they are fully informed, that they know that acceptance to teach in Rigpa along with silence on the matter makes them look as though they support that behaviour in a lama, and to ask them to make a statement on how they feel about ethical behaviour by Vajrayana masters and to teach in a way that will assist the students to cope with the issues. We can’t tell them what to say, but we can ask them to address it. To make their position clear. Then people can decide whether or not that teacher is someone they want to take teachings from.
With silence we assume the worst, if they speak up, at least we know where we stand. If all teachers in Rigpa think S’s behaviour is/was acceptable, then at least we will know, then people can make up their own mind with all the facts at hand. At the moment, they just don’t know where these lamas stand. This we can ask; to ask them not to teach in an organisation that has brought a lot of benefit to a lot of people is too much, I think. It indicates a desire to see Rigpa fail instead of become healthy. What we want is for these teachers to assist in it’s healing. The people still inside Rigpa need their help, and if they get more of OT’s sort of retoric then so be it. We can warn people away then.
I really don’t think having more of that will help Rigpa, but at least OT and NR have shown their true colours. As has JP. Not wanting to have anything to do with it is a very Tibetan way of handling the situation. Only information and education can change that, and communication if it is to be effective must be based on mutual respect. Us showing that is vital if we are to be heard.
Of course, you can write whatever you want personally, but you don’t have to arrange anything as we are doing that.
I think the teachers will accept to answer only if these questions come from MANY students from the Sangha (not an isolated group). They are not going to intervene into a situation where the Sangha seems internally divided. Can’t you contact directly Rigpa students to get their approval? The Rigpa students need definitively to speak up and ask their questions.
Please, inform in this letter about the declarations from Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche in Paris. This is really the core of the problem.
Excellent, perfect, thank you!!!I don’t want to see him in Rigpa if he is not clear!!!Cheers!
OK for the petition!Let them stay home!
TP perfectly nows what happens not only in Rigpa, but in others Tibetan Buddhist lineages – Lamas speak a lot between them and she used the words of HHDL: “disgrace” -. She chooses to close her eyes and to support unconditionally the Institution and authority figures.
Her message is carefully pondered :
– it evades the issue with the overused trick to compare with Schugden cult (surprised that she didn’t mention Chinese spies !) ;
– it demonstrates empathy with the painful situation of Rigpa CENTERS, not people (very interesting phrasing) ; and certainly not with the victims.
– it ostracizes those who dare to speaks against the authority (using expressions like : your endless accusations and recriminations. you are entrenched in your views, a campaign to discredit …)
– it covers the fact that those who complain against the abusers are also nice people with a good knowledge of the Dharma and sincere aspirations. They also participated to spread the Dharma, with their time, money, work, skills… and now they are considered outcasts ;
– it reverses the situation (the bullier become the victim through the sentences “Nowadays the situation of Sogyal Rinpoche has already been dealt with”. “Must we persecute his followers TOO ?” It implies that SL has been persecuted in the first place ?! and that simple requests are considered to be persecutions ! ) ;
– it minimizes the issue ( just “ethical misconduct” ). What about the harm that has been done against vulnerable and confident students ? what about helping those in distress ? what about the general dysfunction of the feudal Buddhist Institution ? What about the future of the pure Dharma ?
This is a classical hierarchy style answer, to keep commoners down. That’s the tradition of kings; it’s not the Buddha dharma tradition. I feel sorry for TP, she worked so hard, and certainly has many qualities.
As a survivor myself, I benefited a lot from this Blog, and others similar. Thank you for your honesty, and much love to my Dharma sisters and brothers. It’s time for me now to tame my own mind.
I wish that every thing will go well for you.
Correction: TP perfectly Knows… bye, bye
I totally agree with your last post. TP KNOWS perfectly well.
You made some very good points.
It’s possible that I made some good points, thank you Catlover, but in an other hand I didn’t read at this time the initial message of Mary, (available in an other blog) which is not the way I would choose to address anybody, in any case.
I agree with the respectful approach of matilda7, Moonfire, Joanne, French… Nevertheless I’m not a Rigpa student, this is not my responsibility to say what should be done. It would be intrusive.
My interest in these discussions was more wide, because there are abusive situations in other Buddhist organizations around the world, and I think that we need a wider approach to solve the issues and help the victims.
However, I discovered by reading posts and messages that it’s not the aim of several people fighting against SL and sometimes wishing the end of Rigpa (for what reason ? It’s not clear). It looks also as if some Lamas behaving wrongly are always spared from criticism.
So this is why I step back now. Mingyur Rinpoche, or Lamas like him, and their organizations are still available, if we want to study Buddhism or deepen our understanding. This is the most important for survivors, we can’t change others, only ourselves.
Speculation about what TP does or doesn’t know is not germane to the issue. What does matter is the message that her acceptance of the invitation to Rigpa sends to the unfortunate people who are still trapped in a coercive cult suffering from acute guruitis. Her presence validates the present regime at Rigpa. The same regime that participated in, condoned and concealed Sogyal’s depravity …for decades.
Good idea to write to the lamas but I take issue with “respectful”. I have zero respect for these guys and for TP. Re the boys in red : Possible scenario given what I know about their attitudes and priorities.
* Tsoknyi and Mingyur (brothers ) have agreed that M covers the moral high ground while T takes care of the cash flow.
*Dzongzar and Dzigar have clan allegiance with Soggy.
*OT is barking mad
Good luck but I am not holding my breath.
Also need to repeat that in my view Rigpa is a busted flush and should be disbanded.
Mary I’m wondering, given you say you have no respect for Lamas, what holds your interest in these matters?
Also why do you think OT is “barking mad”? Just curious.
Did I imply that I have no respect for ALL lamas? In which case I apologise. Let me make this clear: I have no respect for the lamas who are circling the wagons around Sogygal. I have great respect for HHDL, ChNN, Chime R, the late Lama Thubten Yeshe, Lamas Tsultrim Allione, Glenn Mullin and Surya Das. Ngakchang R, HHBigKs16 and 17, Late KaluR and Kalu Yangsi. I could go on but these are the ones who spring immediately to mind– oh and Thubten Zopa R. Re OT — anyone who has read or heard his superstitious nonsense re Samaya should know that he’s off his trolley. Likewise that Khenchen bloke who talked about the 8 being possessed by demons. They are throwbacks to a period in Tibetan history which even modern Tibetans find unacceptable.
Um….the late Kalu Rinpoche, who you mention on your list of lamas you respect, was also involved with a scandal regarding an abusive relationship with June Campbell. Yes, she consented, but she was threatened with hell, and stories about past lives, which were meant to scare her into silence and submission. Around that same time, a young girl he was involved with “disappeared” under suspicious circumstances. He doesn’t sound “respectable” to me. His reincarnation, (who was abused himself), seems to be doing what he can to reform things, but it’s too early to see how that will play out.
I don’t know what to think about Lama Surya Das? Is he respected as a legitimate lama within Tibetan Buddhism? What does he say about lama abuse, and has he made any statements at all? Also, Glann Mullin, while respectable, is not a lama, as far as I know. He is a scholar.
I meant to say Glenn Mullin, sorry.
All human beings are flawed.We all make mistakes. Without exception. Its a matter of degree. I can’t go on writing in detail here. Have other priorities so forgive me if I don’t justify my favourite lama choices!
Sorry, Mary. I didn’t mean to pick apart your list of lamas. It just struck me when you mentioned Kalu Rinpoche, who I personally happen to view as a controversial figure. It’s possible that June June Campbell wasn’t a reliable person, and it might not have been true. We don’t know for sure, but I felt really uncomfortable about him after reading her testimony, especially about the girl who disappeared. (For me, that was the worst part.)
Also, I have nothing against Glenn Mullin, since I don’t know much about him, except that he is a scholar on Tibetan Buddhism, and I read one of his books. As for Lama Surya Das, I was just interested to know if the Tibetans recognize him as a “real” lama, and what he said about the abuse, etc. I don’t know anything about his character, so I wasn’t criticizing him.
I hope it didn’t sound like I said I’m against Glenn Mullin because he is a scholar, lol! No, I didn’t mean that, lol! I meant to say that I don’t know much about him, except that he is a scholar.
With a growing feeling of displeasure I follow the dialogue in Whatnow. My observation is, that a lot of people struggle with a supposedly Buddhist approach to handle -with care and gloves- the problems around RIGPA and LSR. I miss dearly a straight forward opinion or vision on what should happen. For that reason I will throw the bat in the hen house (a Dutch proverb) by stating that to my opinion RIGPA must be closed down completely and stop with any activity, except for dismantling and selling the properties to compensate the victims. The organisation is a lot to blame and its leaders even more, not in the last place LSR. In my vision it is time to be clear and do not walk around the bush. And do not allow the organisation to continue to work on damage control and denial, also by continuing a programme of teachings by other lama’s, and so creating reasons for existence. It is time to say clearly that it is doubtful if not impossible that a corrupted teacher can transmit uncorrupted teachings. As we see too, that within these teachings a field for abuse and misbehaviour is created.
Why such a rigorous action? The organisation, that is, the people that run it are also responsible, and can not and should not hide behind silk curtains. Why wait for court orders before cleaning the mess?
And then, is this respectful? Yes it is to all the victims and to all the misled people that came to the teachings and the teacher(s), as I myself was once.
Lets step out of the discussion on the right or wrong lama’s, and shift that to a future, where, if any, students seek for new, honest, authentic and genuine teachings and teachers.
If this approach would be brought into action, a great service will have been done to Buddhism in general and to TB specificly.
Meanwhile this would not mean that an independant committee (and who controls that?) should investigate and report (to whom?).
And it would not mean that initiatives and institutions for help would become unnecessary at all.
Hear hear. Online opinion moving steadily in that direction. Let’s keep up the momentum.
Now we have to realize that Rigpa is not only an organization but a Sangha and respect this community for a start.
I knew about crazy wisdom, but I have discovered that some are practicing also crazy anger.
Are you suggesting that anger is inappropriate under the circumstances we are dealing with here? If so I disagree 100%.
Mary, may you be free of your anger and the causes of your anger.
In fact, I have discovered within all those controversies that many people are not at all practicing the same methods of Vajrayana. I thought the practice was to transform anger into love and compassion, wisdom. Certainly, not to act on the basis of anger.
So that’s why that anger is inappropriate from my perspective. Personally I don’t practice nor crazy wisdom, nor crazy anger. Sometimes with my 4 years old kid, I willingly pretend to be angry so he gets the message.
Now, very often I get angry and I do understand others when they get angry. But to willingly stay angry seems to me just crazy. Maybe, it is a survival mechanism like in a wrestling fight. But why to put yourself in a survival mode when you try to help a Sangha?
I don’t think I can really convince or influence you. That’s OK.
Of course you can’t because you know nothing about me except your assumptions. So get off my back please and stop patronising me.
@ French observer, as I once heard Lama Chime say on a teaching tape: “You have a right to be angry but your anger will destroy you.”
I agree, Matilda and French Observer, anger is neither helpful to the situation nor to the angry person. Anger lacks skill and the multi-dimensional perspective necessary to solve complicated and serious problems. Anger sees things in black and white, which is never realistic. Anger is rash, which is never helpful. These are not only Buddhist principles, but psychotherapy principles as well.
Joanne I respect your POV most of the time — but not here. Anger can be and in my case is controlled by intellectual rigor. Have you noticed me thrashing around incoherently? Making wild accusations? Feeling publicly sorry for myself? Shouting? Using cuss words etc etc: ? I think not.
I totally agree that the Rigpa management needs to own up to what they did and dissolve the whole thing, and pay the people they wronged. That is the LEAST that should be done. Also, where is the formal apology? I have heard nothing but non-apologies from them. The students would be better off to go elsewhere. It is like a bad marriage between Rigpa/Sogyal/students. The students who have been victimized are not to blame, but they deserve better than to be stuck in a toxic “relationship” with Rigpa/Sogyal. It’s time for a “divorce” in my opinion.
Directed @ Eckart Dissen (Foundation for Meeting with Tibetan Culture)
You’re patronizing post made ME angry! It is this kind of attitude that makes me turn away from Tibetan Buddhism in general.
Ok, sorry. That was not my intent. I will be more careful with the way I communicate.
You should be more careful and think about what your saying.
Have you ever thought that the reason people are so angry and defensive is because of the continuous dismissing attitude from people who think they know better and who disregard people’s feelings in the wake of disgusting behavior and abuse?
Rigpa never even apologized for what they did. They issued the classic example of what is called a NON-apology. (For those who don’t know what a non-apology is, look it up and see the difference between a real apology and a non-apology.) Then to make matters worse, they add insult on injury and invite a teacher who gives a hell fire speech to pile on guilt and reaffirm their “crazy wisdom” views. So yeah, people are starting to get angry because the problems are never truly addressed in a clear and honest manner.
Well, some people who were not direct victims of Sogyal Rinpoche but are just watchers seem to be very angry. Now, I think it is only up to them to explore the reasons of this anger. I was just saying that to cultivate willingly this anger doesn’t seem to me a sane practice.
I don’t want to hurt the feelings of anyone, this is just the way I perceive the situation. I understand that they may have no other option for the time being.
Self righteous pompous crapola
Ok, it is time for me to step back. I am not going to stay with a group of angry people wishing the end of Rigpa.
Bravo to Moonfire for the excellent articles. Keep up your actions! I hope I will be able to come back to Rigpa centers once the situation will be clear.
@Mary Please don’t leave inflamatory comments. This is not at all helpful to anyone.
Sorry — but this person keeps trying to tell me how to behave. Persistently. Not helpful to me or anyone else.
@ French observer,
Does someone have to be directly involved in order to be disgusted and angry hearing about the abusive behavior and corruption of “spiritual” teachers and their cronies? What REALLY makes me angry is how many people keep their head in the sand, stay in denial and make flimsy excuses.
@catlover, I don’t think people on this blog are making excuses, with the odd exception. Where views differ is on the means required to reform Rigpa.
I’m not only referring to people on this blog, (although there have been a few), but in general, especially teachers and students in charge of Rigpa and other centers, who continue to whitewash and make excuses for the abuses, up to and including that lama (can’t remember his name, but you know the one I mean), who gave the hellfire speech.
French Observer, I think your communication was fine. The heat simply has to be turned down. And I would also add that I liked your comment about the fact that there is a sangha involved. Remember? Human beings. This is not a simple situation where a bunch of angry people can storm Rigpa centers and shut them down. Every member of that Rigpa sangha who has remained has a complex reality, a spiritual reality, that we have no hope of understanding. Some of them might even be struggling and needing compassion. To paint them all with one dark brush is neither realistic nor decent.
It might sound really powerful and cool to claim that Rigpa must shut down, there’s no redeeming it, it’s all corrupt etc., but such statements have no use. They simply have no relationship to reality whatsoever. So it’s a lot of saber rattling to no effect imo.
Brilliant. Thank you for your comment. It feels good and is a relief, if people take responsibility for the whole. I have seen your comment only after I have written mine, and in some aspects they are simular. But I didn’t copy from you 😉
“Self righteous pompous crapola” right back at ya, Mary Finnigan. Just because you managed to screw 2 guys decades ago that went on to become famous doesn’t make you an authority on anything much. All your comments here and elsewhere just scream revenge, hatred, ignorance, negativity, and what have you, the list is endless. You attention craving bitter old crow still trying to make a buck from shagging some pop star are trying to tell me how to view my teacher and my spiritual path is ludicrous. I’d love to enter into dialogue with all my Rigpa brothers and sisters whether they still consider themselves students or not but here is clearly not the place. Too many “unfortunately deluded individuals” around.
Oh, WOW! Is this what your “teacher” taught you?
As I say, Yolanda, the heat has to be turned down. And vicious attack and language like that has no place whatsoever. I fear this is some of the sorts of attacks that some of the eight have been receiving? Sad sad days.
@Yolanda I have come late to this conversation and wish I had caught the inflamatory comment you refer to earlier. Had I done so I would have considered deleting it to avoid this kind of situation, but actually this comment of yours is even worse as it is an obvious personal attack. This blog is not a place for attacking anyone, be it @Mary Finnigan or anyone else. Should you comment with another personal attack on anyone, I will have to block you.
Mary, you also need to tone down your aggression. Please allow people to express their opinions without facing a backlash from you. If you continually alienate people, then your voice is not helpful here either.
Finally thank you to those of you who left comments aimed at ‘taking the heat’ out of the conversation. Anger is unavoidable in situations that arouse it, but acting out of that anger is avoidable. Acting in anger may feel good but it really does not serve our purpose, which is resepctful communication
I admit that I have been pressing buttons recently so perhaps this toxic outburst should not be unexpected. The significance of it seems clear to me: the bedrock of the Rigpa cult mentality is based in the mental/emotional state of the leader. It only takes one crack for the rotten core to be exposed. @Moonfire.. I will tone it down.
Is screaming at people and calling them names a great way to express an opinion?
Feelings have gotten hurt all around. In order to keep this space focused on substance, could people take a breath and step away from the keyboard before responding in angry and demeaning ways?
Truly, this is a space for varied opinions, so toes will get stepped on. Try not to let it become “words that wound.”
Well said. Thank you for your timly and needed comment.
@ Yolanda Hayes. Why write such nasty hurtful comments? I really thought this was a deeply unpleasant attack without any of the wit or intelligence that accompany Mary’s missiles.
Exactly why I’ve quit Tibetan Buddhism.
Your words are vomit inducing.
In the interests of starting up on a new note, have people read this excellent interview? Some very astute observations from someone who has bridged the cultural divide in meaningful ways.
Thanks @Joanne A change of topic is a good idea. And this is an excellent article.
Thanks for the link to the article. It’s refreshing to read a Tibetan who is balancing East and West without being condescending toward Western culture. It sounds like he has a sincerely more balanced view, which is good.
It’s an excellent article, Doctor Lobsang Rapgay is full of compassion and insight.
I see… I lost my little pink gravatar because I made a mistake in my email address.
Today I learnt a new english word : crapola ; at first I thought that it was a “little toad” because in French a toad is said “crapeau”.
In the heat of the discussion, emotions have been expressed. Others advice to calm down. I’d like to plea to allow emotions like anger, as I see that of valuable for change. Anger is -as you all know- energy. And change needs energy. We better listen to people that shout with anger and show some compassion. Most of you may not have been involved in the worldwide actions and demonstrations against the Viet Nam war. At the end public opinion, fired by action, energized by compassion, fear ánd anger, was the change maker. So I believe that shared energy can bring change. We do not need to condemn people with anger at all. Let’s drop the veil – and show our true faces!
This is a very good point that you bring. It’s about the difference between anger – based on judgement – and passion (energetic action) based on love.
I can love someone and still passionatly disagree with him. There is much to say about this, and it goes very deep. Marianne Williamson talks about this topic all the time. She is following a spiritual path and is politically active at the same time. She also is in “Sister Giant”. It’s brilliant, what she says.
Coming back to this blog, I don’t feel commentors like French observer or Joanna or Moonfire and others are “condemming” anybody. To me they just take responsibility for the tone of our conversation on this blog. After all this is a public blog, fulfillig a purpose, and not a private dispute.
This concept, that anger is necessary to change a political system is being questioned more and more these days. It has worked in the past, but it doesn’t work in the situation we are in now. The concentration of power on the other side is just to intense. And from this perspective it’s too late.
It’s about a spiritual revolution, a shift in consciousness, that has to take place. Otherwise the planet has no chance of survival. There is very much research being done on this by the heartmath-instute, Gregg Braden, Bruce Lipton, Dr. Joe Dispenza, etc. BTW they also often quote the Dalai Lama.
Sorry, if this goes a little bit of the topic of this blog. I will not expand more on this.
I’m starting to believe this more and more. Not that anger is in itself evil, but that it creates an energy that can lead to separation and objectification. It’s natural to feel it, even to be urged to action by it. But for myself, if I live with anger inside me for very long, it makes me sick and hurts those around me.
I think a new paradigm of how to take action without feeling bound by anger is coming to light.
Not to put anyone down for their anger, of course. I’m just responding to Lola’s comment.
anger is always justified – of cause.
But if we see the devil in them (Rigpa) and they see the devil in us (see the statements of this Khempo) – what’s the point?
We had this for millions of years. It’s called war. And this attidude is about to blow up the whole planet.
And by the way it’s not about “knowing who somebody is”, it’s about the impression we create.
And if people, who come to this blog, get the impression, that we are just a bunch of emotionally unstable people riding on the wave of their stress hormones, they won’t take this blog seriously. And is that, what we want?
@Eckert, Lola, the anger felt on social issues is channelled into passionate campaigns. But the most effective activists are in control of their emotions. Even politicians, whatever we might think of their message, usually deliver it in a calm and controlled manner. When they’re not in control, they look pretty foolish – Donald Trump being a case in point.
Great! Thank you. That’s exactly what I think. Sorry if it came across otherwise.
No, no, you were good, i was just adding to the conversation!
Yes, I agree, Lola and Matilda. Also, anger doesn’t see the reality. It sees the person in an exaggerated way, as all bad. It’s a distorted view. This is the Buddhist view and also the view of leading psychotherapists such as Aaron Beck, founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. And you see it here, the people who are voicing anger are also saying such things as SL is all bad, irredeemable etc. and rigpa is not ever going to change is inherently corrupt etc. In this way, I think anger, unchecked anger, can be a real impediment to reform.
Of course, there is going to be strong emotion here and we are all going to experience anger. But I think it’s important to be responsible about our emotions and not let them harm others.
You are right Lola, this is a public place. I first came here, because even if I’m not a Rigpa student, I live close to Lerab Ling, and as a Buddhist what happen there has an influence on my own life. Medias wrote a lot about it in France, as a result Buddhists get a bad name. Moreover, Rigpa is not the only organization facing scandals in France. And I know what happen in an hidden way in other Buddhist centers.
As a result, and for example, I will never say to my neighbors , or new relations that I’m Buddhist.
I’m myself a survivor from an other lineage. After many years alone, I was thinking to join an other organization to make some Dharma friends, why not Rigpa?
However, when I heard what happened in Lerab Ling, I started to search for information. I read the medias, then the blog Buddhism Controversy, and finally “What now”. I needed to share in oder to come out of my shell. I wanted also to express what an external reader could feel. It’s nice sometimes, and distressing at other times.
But it is now mostly distressing and disturbing. This shows I’m still traumatized, and not ready to share. I have again the feeling that I should stay alone, and go on my Dharma practice without worrying about what happen in Tibetan Buddhist organizations.
I understand the energy of anger, I also understand the wish to maintain a non aggressive atmosphere, and also the fact that people might not agree between them. It’s important to express different opinions. This blog is nice, I think that the people here are great, but it’s not really welcoming for new readers. It is not the purpose, I suppose. And I’m not clear, I also admit it.
I am sorry to hear of your previous experience and believe me, you are not alone 🙂
Fortunately the incredible truth of the teachings remains unsullied and we can draw strength and healing from the message and take some space away from the messengers!
I understand what you’re saying. And personally, I think you can process feelings, feel different ways at different times, and still be an important voice here.
The trauma feeling comes and goes. Take good care.
Okay, that was to @lola’s comment about living close to Lerab Ling.
Thank you for sharing Luce. I am sorry that you had to enter this blog at its most vicious moments. Believe me, most of the time, people share in very supportive ways and I hope that it can be more welcoming for you in the future.
Yes. Maybe that’s what brings us together. It’s not just about Rigpa. We’ve all been through tough times with Lamas.
And what beautiful place to live!
Yes, it’s a wonderful place. Beautiful landscapes. A wild nature with few people.
Newcomers are always welcome to join in, as far as I am concerned. So, welcome. 🙂
It’s interesting that Buddhism gets a bad name in France because in America, it’s just the opposite. It’s almost like it gets mostly very good press and practically zero criticism. The scandals are largely covered up in the media and go unreported.
It sounds like a lot of people have had bad experiences with lamas. I consider myself lucky because I managed to avoid the kind of relationship people are talking about (with a lama), but I was close to people who experienced bad things. I could see how they used and abused people.
I knew two women who married into the culture and they both had their sons taken away from them. The first woman was treated with disrespect, even though she was the mother of a tulku. She finally left because she just couldn’t tolerate the atmosphere anymore. The second woman has also been through hell and back, in a similar situation, if not worse. A third woman was being sucked in and being used to run errands, (taking care of the royal lama’s family, driving them around, and running errands for them), but she left and she is not regretting it, lol!
With respect for Tahlia I will do my best to keep the tone of any comments I post here as low key as possible. Its not my style so it won’t come easy! However, I would like to reiterate that I was first warned about Sogyal’s lack of qualifications as a lama by the late, eminent Tibet scholar John Driver in 1975. I was first requested to investigate Sogyal’s sexual abuses when I was working in commercial radio news and at the BBC in Bristol in 1986. This request came from a member of Sogyal’s sangha in London. Apart from two years off the case while writing a book about David Bowie, I have been collecting evidence about Sogyal’s activities ever since. I published http://behindthethangkas.wordpress.com in 2010 and updated it in 2011. It has been updated 3 times recently, in line with current developments. I have made it clear for many years that it is my intention to do everything I can to take Sogyal out of circulation as a teacher — permanently. The 8 signatories have moved this agenda along significantly and I honour them for it. I am now working with the active support of 3 other people to achieve this objective. I will not give up.