What they promised
The last communication from Rigpa international set out three initiaves in response to the attestations of abuse:
- An independent investigation of the allegations of abuse … [by] a neutral third party to fully respond to the concerns raised and to lay a foundation for restoring trust and confidence in the Rigpa community … fully international in scope and satisfy necessary requirements.
- An international consultation process to establish both a code of conduct and a grievance process for Rigpa … to develop codes and procedures that are appropriate for Rigpa.
- A new ‘spiritual body’ to guide and advise Rigpa.
We want an update on how all their initiatives are progressing, and it needs to be in specific terms not general terms. What some members of What Now specifically want to know about the investigation is:
- Who are doing the investigation?
- What are their qualifications?
- Who chose the people undertaking the investigation? We hope it is not the old management, who, since they may be found complicit in the abuse, have a vested interest in a certain outcome.
- Are they truly neutral with no relationship to Rigpa and no investment in the outcome?
- What is the aim of the investigation?
- What are the terms and scope of the investigation?
- How will it be carried out?
- Will the process be completely transparent
We will post a more detailed look at what this investigation should be and how it should be carried out, either tomorrow or the next day.
Code of conduct and cultural change
We need an update on the process of developing the code of conduct and on the scope of the investigation into cultural change that we are aware is part of the process. In particular some members want to know:
- How far is the consultation process for the code of conduct and cultural change extending? Will they speak to the 8 letter writers? What about others who have left Rigpa in disgust, are they being included in the process?
- Have they consulted His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Mingyur Rinpoche, the two Lamas who have shown a modern understanding of the issue?
- Have they employed a professional specialist in cultural change within organisations to direct the process?
- An update on the development and implementation of a Rigpa complaint policy. Within the policy a requirement for management to regularly and publically report number, type of complaint and type of resolution.
- The big question is: How committed are they to true cultural change?
If they are truly committed to the deep cultural change needed to establish Vajrayana as a realistic vehicle for Buddhism in the West, they need to show their commitment by addressing the cultic and abusive behaviour of some of their members that we outlined in a previous post.
- We want the sangha provided with full information, which means sending them a link to the Reference Material page on this blog as that has links to all the relevant information that has so far not been shared within Rigpa.
- Some attempt to make Rigpa’s finances transparent.
If they are to continue to show teachings/recordings/messages from SR then it is necessary for Rigpa International/management/spokespeople to address several public points that others have made. Namely:
- Comment on HHDL’s recent statements on Sogyal Rinpoche OR announce that HHDL is not a Patron of Rigpa anymore.
- Comment on the points DZKR made about SR’s qualifications as a vajra master, about how he warned, or failed to warn, students.
- Address OT’s reasoning for the causes of SR’s health problems head-on. Does eating very rich food over many years lead to health problems, or is only ‘broken samaya’ a possible cause of health issues? If so, how exactly is what a student does cause such illness? This clarification would entail acknowledging that SR himself said he would not take the tests that were needed. Some student’s lives could be at stake if they believe that the causes of illness reside not in physical causes and conditions but purely spiritual ones.
- Comment on the video of Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche recorded at Lerab Ling in which he said that demonic forces are at play, insinuated that they had taken over the students who spoke out about SR’s behaviour, and threatened them with hell: does Rigpa share that same view about the letter writers, or reject it? Though the video has been removed from You Tube, the damage has been done.
We understand that ‘Rigpa’ is not of one mind on these matters, but just as we state on our About page that the opinions expressed in the blog and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of those who manage the blog, some similar statement could be made to indicate that these are not official views.
The ‘spiritual body’ to guide and advise.
- Who is on it?
- Who was invited? Who accepted and who declined? Did they ask His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Mingyur Rinpoche?
- What are their qualifications for being there?
- Is the ‘body’ balanced in views relating to this debacle or are they all fundamentalist Lamas like Orgyen Tobgyal?
- Rigpa students have already been told that two senior students will be on this body. The trouble is that these students by virtue of their position in the organisation must have enabled and have certainly covered up the abuse for decades, so how are they qualified to guide and advise anyone in spiritual matters when they have so clearly shown a lack of wisdom and compassion? Their being on the board is a farce unless they indicate through an apology that they have looked deeply and seen where they failed in their spiritual understanding and care.
And we want to see some true dharma, some compassion and wisdom
- We want an apology as the start of true spiritual healing. Senior management needs to apologise for their role in allowing and covering up the abuse, or they should resign. Even an apology limited by lawyers would go a long way towards restoring confidence and cutting through some of the cultic and abusive behaviours of members. It is also the first step in the healing practice of Vajrasattva. How can you heal anything without taking this first step? Did they learn nothing from their 100,000 recitations of Vajrasattva, or were they too busy filling Sogyal’s demands to actually do the practice? Not acting according to the four powers of purification (confession, regret, reparation and a vow not to repeat the negative action) indicates that the people running Rigpa have not understood the very dharma they have been teaching.
- We want to see some compassion for those who ‘felt’ harmed, some genuine human care and concern. This has been conspicuously missing from all communications so far. Perhaps some direction for students to practice Tonglen for all concerned especially for those who have been harmed, and a request that Vajrasattva practice to be undertaken with the aim of healing the rift sangha as well as all those harmed and, of course, Sogyal himself.
- A public statement of commitment to all for a zero tolerance of abuse, using the words ‘zero tolerance.’
Be sure to check out the What Now? Reference Material page for links to a wealth of articles in the topics related to abuse in Buddhist communities. For links to places to assist in healing from abuse see the sangha care resources page.
More personal and private support for current and previous students of Rigpa can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite. Please use the email address you use on Facebook.