Concerned about a certain letter you read recently?
Here is where you can share your concerns, your personal experience, your beliefs, and your support for those who have so bravely come forward and shared their testimonies. Even if you disagree with their perception, please honour how painful their experiences have been and how difficult it is for them to break the silence. Honour their truth.
On hearing this for the first time, I experienced shock, anger, betrayal, bitter disappointment and finally sadness, so please support your dharma brothers and sisters as you pass through whatever this situation raises for you. You may read words written from intense emotional states, and that’s fine. Honour them, but don’t get caught up in them. Let them come, and let them go.
Working out what this means for us individually is a process, and this blog is a place where we can help each other through that process to whatever outcome is best for where we are as individuals at this time.
And remember: Up above the clouds, the sky is always blue.
Love and Respect
I don’t want to have to moderate this blog so please look after each other with love and respect. I expect we’re all hurting in one way or another over these revelations. Allow all opinions, and try not to react to each other or defend or denounce or deny. Instead support each other by listening without judgement. If someone oversteps the mark, feel free to point it out.
Lean into what is uncomfortable and use it to grow.
To share how you feel click here.
This blog is hidden from search engines in an attempt to keep this conversation within the sangha. Be discerning about who you give the link to. We do not want trolls here. And please do not refer to our organisation or our teacher by name, only by initial. Please do not share comments or posts.
More personal and private support can be found in the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite. Include a link to your Facebook profile or the email address you use with Facebook.
The What Now? Facebook Group has secret-level privacy, meaning that it can’t be found and if someone does manage to find it, no one can see members names or discussions. It is a moderated group created to ensure that people are not alone in their hurt and concern, that they have a place to process their concerns in a supportive atmosphere, and that if they choose to speak out, members will listen to them and not judge their experience, their perception or understanding of the teachings.
For some it may be helpful for your practice at this point to expand your idea of lama by looking at teachings from others in the tradition. For example Mingyur Rinpoche has lots of videos on You Tube. I also recommend reading His Holiness’s guidelines for dealing with this situation.
Check out our Resources page for more help in processing this, and also see the Sangha Care Resources Website
At this stage, we’re not sure what will happen with this blog, but if you don’t want to miss any future posts, sign up at the bottom of the page to get them in your inbox. If you’re interested in writing a blog post to share your reflections or perspective, please contact us via the form on the contact page.
So how are you feeling about all this?
We would love to hear in the comments. Please use initials instead of names when you refer to teachers and organizations.
41 Replies to “What the hell are we going to do now?”
Thank you to all the people who have responded with words of gratitude and support via the private contact form. We aren’t able to respond to you individually at this time, but your comments have been sent on to those who have spoken out. Everyone who has contacted us has indicated their gratitude that a group of people have had the courage to end the silence. Thank you. This has not been easy and your support is greatly appreciated.
Dear all, especially Damcho,
having left R December 2012 for same reasons. I was abused in my youth
and by “fortune” came to know all this and even proved it with personal research.
Met an former director of R England personally, a german, with the direct question
whether all this written in the net was true and he said: yes as a authentic witness.
But now, after 5 years coming in contact with other true Dharma and true teachers,
i am still happy for all “my” experience in R, even with R.
It shows, that true Dharma never is separated from ethical conduct.
To learn from everything and everyone is the Motto. We, who left, had to trust our perception. We needed discriminating wisdom as newcomers in the The Dharma.
Today i can see R as a messenger, who brought the message.
For all the messages i can be very grateful. Even for Your message !!!
I am very happy, that the shadow now becomes visible after all this years,
due to Karma. In the age of fakenews, we need a discriminating wisdom
and a good intuition. You made it to go and to write this open letter.
And You, who wrote the letter and spread it out to the sangha were very
courageous. That is so wonderful. You are not alone, for all Dharmaprotectors
are with You and all the people, who left for the same reasons.
If You need any help or an ear to listen to, do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours sincerely Ulrike
This is very wise, Ulrike. The teachings are precious indeed.
Thank you so much for this message where you address me directly. I am only just reading it today, and so I hope you don’t feel like I have ignored you.
I too remain grateful to SL yet it has taken a number of years for me to discern between the ‘baby and the bathwater’. That’s an english expression so I’m not sure if everyone that reads this will know what I mean when I say that?… I mean that when I left Lerab Ling, in real desperation, I felt like the abuse that had become so much of my daily experience of being around SL had really tainted my appreciation for the teachings and the blessings of being a monastic at Lerab Ling. The ways in which I was constantly suppressed and had a lot of pressure piled on me (with no chance for release) meant that I even lost confidence in having the Buddha Nature. And as SL had so much come to represent Buddha Nature as ‘outer lama’ when I recognized that his ‘training’ was abuse, then my confidence was really shaken.
Therefore, I really feel for all the people who are facing this reality since the letter was shared. I understand how it can shake the core of our experience of Buddha Nature and cast a huge question over the validity of everything that we have studied and practiced and connected with in our time as students of SL.
And it took me time – there is so much to reconcile within oneself…. ‘To not throw the baby out with the bathwater’ means to find inside oneself that part that has truly connected with the authentic dharma; to give that space to rise above it’s insecurities (I have had so many, based on SL’s continuous denigration and beating); to let go of the guilt of feeling like you’ve abandoned your friends on the path; to let go of the heavy trips about breaking Samaya… The Dharma is the truth, and so in the end I have found the confidence to relax and know that what is true will endure.
I would very much like to see you again someday Ulrike. I hope it’s not too long until our paths cross again.
thank You very very much for Your reply, which reached me just today, when my friend
left to Lerab Ling. (talking everything over and over…from all sides)
When i ´ve seen You last time, it was, when H.E. Garchen Rinpoche visited LL.
When You disappeared and nobody could tell me why. (or just kept the mouth closed)
I was shocked since then. I knew intuitively, that something was wrong, for i
always had admit Your conduct and devotion. And so did many !!!
When i left in 2012, i was going through the same stuff, like You discribe.
Yes and i also was very shaky about my samaya, but i had a dream of Garchen Rinpoche and thats why i moved to the Drikung Lineage, which is very much based on Bodhicitta and that brought a lot of healing. One day, on a weekend with Ontul Rinpoche i asked him, about the samaya and learned, that samaya is about gratitude for the Dharma and the one, who´`s given. So natural. The way we learned about Samaya and devotion, was just an interpretation. Other teacher had a complete different way of communication about it.
But true Dharma is true love, when i took refuge with Garchen Rinpoche it was written : i take refuge in transcendant awareness, the heart essence of Buddha, i take refuge in compassion, which is the heart essence of Dharma and i take refuge in spiritual friends (Plural), the heart essence of companions. He has a always loving conduct.
But that You only can find out , in comparation, when Your outside R.
At least, Your inner Buddha took us out, i believe. The Lotus growed out of the mud.
And Yours shall grow very strong. Finally we realize “mind turned inwardly and look to
the inner Buddha face to face, the transcendant awareness in our mind. Tara has never given up on You and me, i know. Our history taught us the wisdom of discernment. We found the true, cause we experienced the false. And for all i am grateful, thats “my” samaya, which i hold . I am very happy, that You found Your way and healing could take place.
So Damcho means Dharma and therefore i wish great great love and Dharma for You
and loving teachers too. Yes hope to see You again since we are connected.
Ulrike (Damcho Jungney)
Dear Damcho and all,
sorry have to correct myself,
there was nothing false with the teachings given, with an extraordinary teacher or any
other “Dharmabath”, studymaterial, practice…the “false” was Your suffering as the
consequence of a lot of unwholesome action towards You and others.
The “mud” was to experience it and not being able to free Yourself from it.
I have been so called good student since 2005, and did whatever SL told us to do. I saw him as living Buddha, I prayed to him all the time, I had dream of him, and he has been my breath of my life. How could he betray me so. I am hurt, frustrated, confused, lost and very very sad. I am going to cancel my trip to LL. I am sorry that I am going to miss Khentse Namdrol Rinpoche’s teaching, but I have to attend SL’s teaching at least later part of August in order to receive KNR’s teaching, and my devotion toward SL is so shaky I don’t think I will be able to listen to him without defiance feeling.
Since I have read this letter, I am not able to focus on anything, I just not able to practice at all. My mind is so disturbed. I feel very alone if I had lost my parents all at once.
Please, let’s talk about what should we do from here.
Understanding all Your emotions, there is something to know.
Please do not hesitate and lose Your faith in the Dharma.
I was going through the same and please be very selfcompassioned towards You .
You prayed to a person, but now You can pray to a real Buddha for help.
Please take a good refuge to Guru Rinpoche or the Buddha now.
We have to understand that the Buddhanature is in our mind, but we projected it
onto R. This made us very dependent on him.
Now instead of trusting him. You begin to trust Yourself.
All what You learned from him, is true, but now You can realize it in Yourself instead
through him, through his person.
Please give Yourself time. You will overcome all that. It will definitively change.
If You like, You can watch, how Your emotions, Your thoughts are changing.
Just watch the change.
I had the same and noone believed me, even my husband did not.
All is now over and that is good to know : Definitively it will pass.
You know better, what hlps You most in a crises : a walk in nature, a talk with a good friend,
a holyday in greece, doing something normal… ??? Please take care, do not leave
Yourself alone now, hold Yourself and care for good reasons.
Yours sincerely Ulrike
I am glad to find you here. I remember you when I was in LL in 2012 for two months retreat. You were so gracious, calm & so perfect nun w/ the way you’re attending to R.
Then following year I did not see you anymore. I often wondering what happened to you, and now there you are helping me on my spiritual crisis.
Yes, I am taking in all your advices. I know that SL.’s teachings were all authentic, and no one will dispute that. That’s why it’s so difficult to understand how could he behave such way while he can teach Dharma so authentically. I am very conflicted about that. One minute I get angry, then in another, I miss him. I am so confused at this moment.
Thank you for your warm advice. I will give some time to myself.
sorry for the missunderstanding regarding my dharmaname, but i am not Damcho Drolma,
who was a personal assistent to SR.
But i was 12 years an intensive follower, home retreatant, LL and Kirchheim visitor a.s.f.
You shall “survive” after a period of sadness and all Your other emotions and still
be able to hold the gratitude of what You have received. All that Dharma Richness !!!
And from this teaching one can learn not to accept everything and allow oneself
“strange feelings” about something, we would not expect from a Sangha, a Teacher
and a situation in a Dharmic environment. Until now, everything of that was just wiped away…ignored.
Hi JJ – I’m the Damcho that you remember from LL. Ulrike said some wonderful things in her advice to you…. So, although she didn’t intend to, I guess she was speaking on my behalf.
If you, like, read the response I wrote to Ulrike in the thread of comments above.
My heart goes out to you. Naturally, many different feelings are coming up and it’s good not to suppress them. At the same time, it might be good to let your feelings settle for awhile before you make any final decisions about whether to go on retreat. It’s also possible the organization will respond in a constructive way. And be sure to get some support so you don’t feel alone. You can join the What Now? Facebook Group for more personal and private support by making a request using the Contact Form on this site (see link in the menu at the top of page). I know you feel alone, but you’re not alone and we’ll find a good way to go forward.
I hear and feel your pain, JJ, having left R 3 years ago totally unsupported. Can recommend psychological help, if you can find someone you get on with and can trust. The support material attached to the letter has been very helpful, especially material by HHDL, Rob Preece and an article entitled “Communal Abuse and Cults”, found under the heading “Traumatic Bonding”. You will regain your strength and power little by little and find joy again.
I love you dearly Paige, and I’m so sorry that I didn’t see, didn’t know, what you were going through. I should/could have recognised the signs had I looked with more care, but I just didn’t think actual abuse was, could, would, happen until Sangye said he had been hit. That’s what woke me up. Before that I never framed anything I saw (which wasn’t much) that way in my mind . We get so caught up in our own little roles and we’re worked so hard that we don’t have time to care properly for others.
I feel dreadful for not pushing harder to find out where you’d gone and how I could contact you.
That is what i want to add : Every Dharma Word, Course, Practice, Empowerment,
Teaching and spiritual experience, i am very grateful for.
That is the reason we should be grateful for. Please do not let this slip out of Your hand.
That was R’s Gift : He was a Dharma Messenger and therefore we
must be grateful, not to forget !!!
Do no let the other side dominate this gratitude, otherwise one creates harmful consequences. His Dharma was true, but not his behaviour.
Also all this years with all this experience taught me a lot, which i cannot relealize now.
In the Lojong it is said : Be grateful to everyone. Please do so to SR.
Thank you for your courageous letter to R. Hope he will change and practice the Dharma. In the end there allways will be the absolute truth. We have immense wisdom and compassion in the Sangha. Thank you all … May love and mercy unclose his eyes.
I am grateful and rejoice that this movement is happening, and in such a still way.
We should all delight in the peaceful, loving-compassionate and wise approach we are taking together here.
I have always wanted to share how i feel with you, my Vajra brothers and sisters. Where to begin…
I am a Buddhist Philosopher by training, first at Trinity College Dublin then simultaneously under the wings of my THREE Dharma teachers: SR, RTR and TNH.
After HHDL’s teachings at LL around 2000 i decided to volunteer my time and energy. So for many years – amongst other things – i was managing director of R Dublin, Ireland and a senior instructor/presenter at SR’s Summer Retreats in DzB under the guidance of CW and AW.
R was the first and only dharma center i ever frequented regularly as a student. From the moment i took root there in the early 90s until know, i have been so grateful and switched on. But R never really knew how to cope with me as i obviously had 3 masters.
However, when i first became a regular student in R in the early 90s there were no study materials and no courses… can you imagine? no videos of SR? no TBLD?
In fact it was an extremely open and free dharma environment in which to explore the teachings and oneself.
As a sangha we had meditation instruction from SB and MJ.
As a study group there were no proper courses, so SR advised us to contemplate and discuss: Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind [Suzuki Roshi] and The Miracle of Mindfulness [Thich Nhat Hanh]. There were teaching visits from RTR, and others. Our embryonic dharma life was very good indeed.
Thanks to SR and his approach at that time, i felt empowered and encouraged to find TNH and RTR, reach out to them and become their student too.
But the real problems started for me the very first moment i set foot in DzB and encountered SR and his outlandish teaching style in person.
I somehow knew exactly what was going on with him from the word Go.
All the trademarks of an abusive guru gathering an adoring cult following were falling into place IN PUBLIC, SHAMELESSLY, and even from the earliest days.
I was so disappointed! I was so disappointed in myself too. I’d left my teaching job without holiday permission to drive 9 hours in the rain and the dark down to DzB to ‘meet’ SR for the first time. But when i arrived, as a recovering catholic, i felt i had simply jumped out of the frying pan and straight into the fire. It was supposed to last 10 days. I lasted two.
In those 2 days, all the usual nonsense unfolded: teachings cancelled or starting hours late, people waiting in the shrineroom in silent agitation for SR to come, when he did come all the verbal abuse and brutal treatment that is now so familiar unfolded, there didn’t even seem to be a train of thought in the teaching itself…
But there were reports desperately trying to be suppressed by the organisers about him shouting and throwing stuff at attendants in his cottage and a shocking report of ‘something happening’ to a young female first-timer from my own R class in Dublin who had somehow ended up in SR’s bedroom!
I demanded a refund of my money, jumped in the car and drove like a demon up to Dublin to beg for my old job back.
Within weeks, there was a starngely quiet and dignified split in the Dublin group. The young lady, her sister and friends joined the KSD group and the rest of us stayed, bewildered and dreading what we had gotten ourselves into.
Turned out this young woman had been hand-picked by SR’s female attendants from the audience because she was his type and very much resembled his ex-girlfriend from France.
Flattered at the chance to meet SR face to face, she went to his cottage with the group of women attendants that night. In his bedroom, SR was reclining surrounded by women all massaging a different part of his body. She was instructed how to massage his hand and say Hello. He flirted. I was afraid to ask what actually occurred. She was so shocked she ran away and never went back.
In time, since i turned a blind eye to his carry on and got more and more involved in R, I came to see SR’s real power as a true dharma conduit and powerful dharma presence in the world, a genuine mirror for the Buddha Nature to see itself. That is true. But i never accepted the abusive drama or the brutal abuse.
I must admit, the sexual scandals were far too easy to dismiss as a non-monastic layman taking advantage of his rockstar status to get bewitched superfans into bed. At that time I couldn’t bear to think of SR as a predator, and still don’t know what to make of him. But the basic question remains: If it’s not predatorial sexual abuse, what do these beautiful young women see in him sexually?
In my senior roles at R Dublin and DzB, i tried my best to help those who came to me for support and advice as one scandal after another broke online, in the media and spread like wildfire through the wider sangha.
I always hoped i was a positive force at that time and that nobody stayed in R because i was staying and they liked or respected me. I always made sure i told people that this and this is what R have instructed us say if we were ever asked [there were guidelines, documents, sample Q&As] and that i would remain for the time being. But ultimately i instructed people to stay informed, follow their heart-minds and move on if/when they felt it was right.
However, in time i just drifted away quite naturally from that whole scene but i’ve always felt ashamed of all i knew and that i never spoke out publicly. I have always wanted to share this testimony with others but, even to tell my other masters, i always felt it might create more harm than good.
I am still in the Dzogchen Mandala and consider myself to have 3 teachers. I consider you all my dharma brothers and sisters. I feel i know many of you personally and hope some of you remember me fondly too.
Sending Love and Light always!
Thanks for sharing that. I’m so glad that you can finally tell your story. The more I hear stories like this, the more I feel as if I have been duped somehow, and yet, I can never deny the power of the man to transform my mind, and I will always be grateful for that and for the dharma education I got over 20 years as his student. It’s hard, but we have to hold those seeming opposites at the same time, for that’s the truth of it.
Dear Moonfire and everyone,
I am not in Rigpa and have never met SL. But I met other Buddhist teachers who did not follow the teachings they were teaching others, and I became a victim of more than Sogyal-style abuses, I actually became the crime victim of one such Buddhist guru. He was not even my own guru, but that does not mean I did not have respect and love for him. This caused that I was vulnerable, and he could misuse my lack of alert. So I am very grateful to you all that you bring the abuses by SL to light!
When I was reading your reaction above about the 20 years of Buddhist education that SL gave you, one thought came to my mind. I think that in Buddhism (and other religions) today the problem is the cult of personality of the teacher. Instead of simply learning the subject (Buddhist teachings), we get infatuated with the teacher’s personality. But Buddha hardly taught anything like this. Please correct me if I am not right, but I think there are only three things to bow to in original Buddhism: Buddham Sharanam Gacchami, Dharmam Sharanam Gacchami and Sangham Sharanam Gacchami. Tibetan Buddhism added a fourth one: Lama, maybe out of the remembrance and gratefulness to those who brought Buddhism to Tibet. Did this cult of the person of the teacher, originally not required by Buddha himself, sneak out of its limits, maybe?
If it was really about the teaching itself, than why are we all so shocked that the teacher has many human faults, even doing sinful actions? When we attended college and university, did we consider our maths teacher a god? And still, we could pass the exams. One of my teachers was divorced, another was an alcoholic: yet it did not effect my learning of the subjects they were teaching.
So who or what is redirecting Buddhist students’ attention away from the teaching and the founder of the teachings, the perfectly enlightened Buddha, and towards a mere “math teacher”, whose only task is to share with us a big volume of intellectual information? If the “math teacher” claims he is Buddha Himself, should not the school director give him a notice…?
In parts of India and Nepal even bus drivers are called “guruji”, and simple priests and school teachers as well. The Eastern culture is different, requires many titles and gestures to show respect towards those who are learned in something, anything. Yet, in the same time, there is a healthy keeping of distance which I have seen in Asia, from the “gurus”. Hardly anyone expects them to be perfect, pure, divine, not to have human desires etc. Easterners are very humble on the outside, bowing, worshiping, using long sets of titles, all is done with great reverence, but it does not mean that they throw all their lives to the feet of the guru, and loosen all their safety belts… They are much more pragmatic in attitudes to gurus than Westerners, and never really give (a teacher) 100% of themselves.
When a guru-chela system is torn out of its cultural and geographic context, and forced into the West and on Westerners, it must necessarily create frictions. Teachers are just “math teachers”, not Buddhas necessarily. Even when in Asia people title their Buddhist teachers with exaggerated “venerable this or that”, “buddha of all buddhas” and “tulku of this or that”, I could often see that they do not actually mean it. It is just a cultural thing, which we Westerners take too literally.
I am worried when reading above some other comments, of advice to replace SL with another rinpoche and another Buddhist organization, as part of the solution. Yet that is not a solution but an escape. Sooner or later similar problems could appear. Because what is to be changed is the perception of the “math teacher”, our attitude to the teachers. Replacing the “math teacher” with a “chemistry teacher” is not going to solve it. But in my opinion it is the lineage itself (“the authorities”) which should make a change to this perception, as the individual entering a Buddhist organization around a rinpoche in caught up in an already established “etiquette” and has no other choice than “everything or nothing”.
Maybe it is time to filter out what is culture and what is Dharma, inside the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. And if we find something what is (an outdated) cultural element, and too harmful to apply to a Western community, maybe not to accept it as part of the Dharma. We became victims of some cultural elements, applied in the wrong geography and the wrong era, but we are not victims of Dharma.
A personality cult is a too many times repeated stain in Buddhist communities, and while it stays inside certain healthy limits among Tibetans, Nepalis and Indians, when Westerners are involved, it is followed blindly, as a medical prescription, with a typical Swiss preciseness and Italian passion … It is time to admit that the cult of gurus, rinpoches and tulkus went overboard in Buddhism (and Hinduism) and it happened after Westerners with pure intention became easy subjugates of self-elevating teachers with too human weaknesses and material, bodily desires.
The temptations are simply too big for some “math teachers”, the sudden overflow of money, comfort, good food, entertainment possibilities and supply of women… They could hardly get all this in the East. SL is by far not the first and surely not the last, who could not reject the love, admiration, comfort and sensual enjoyments that Westerners happily gave him in exchange of helping them to enlightenment by reciting a few wise words he heard from his teachers.
Rinpoches often emphasize to Westerners the (Tibetan) culture, instead of emphasizing the Buddha’s Dharma. And Westerners are often ready to switch to it, in the belief that the cultural aspect of Buddhist lineage is the Dharma itself, even if everyone knows that Buddha was not born into a Tibetan culture (not that the old-style Hindu guru-chela traditions would be much better. though).
Healing can happen only when the disease is correctly diagnosed, by calling things by their names. The first step is but brutal: we have to admit that we had been fooled by a classical, so many times defined and described, CULT (this step is painful, shaming, disappointing)! Yet after boldly facing this truth, the next steps get easy, because suddenly everything makes sense…
I find this quite perceptive, thank you very much, it did good to me….
…it should be love…
being very moved from this ethical conduct reactions, it could be a great transformation
for us all. We hold the both sides, the gratitude and allow the shadow to become seen,
so that change can take place : the message that the Nature of Mind has to come together with wholesome actions, is´nt it and everybody is asked to take responsibility in that.
That means much more self-reflection, confession and honesty.
Congratulations, when this will happen through the process.
i would like to express my deep gratitude an appreciation for this corageous and compassionate operation to those who seem to be responsible by signing this sharp and polished letter, that helps me very much to process my own trauma. As this happens, i can see that there is much more in me then i thought before… I’m most notably grateful to the monastics, because i can trust them 100%ly, different from SL…
I’ve been a R-student for more than 15 years since the late 90s. I never had an idea of what was going on in regard of abuse etc…. Eventhough there was allways this abusive behaviour, i was really devoted to SL for quite a long time, somehow he was the love of my life, he was…. Leaving R was a process of several years for me, it was initiated by some personal circumstances and only when i had left R finally about 3 years ago, i heard about that “Mimi-thing” and then started to investigate…. First i could not believe, respectivly explained it to myself using the common phrases like: Mimi is propably pissed because she found out that she is not “Mrs. Rinpoche”, something like that…
(Please forgive me, Mimi, i’m just trying to be honest, i’m also very thankful to you!) Than i read more and more and time was passing by and doing it’s own…. Things were falling into place like SL often mentioned in his “teachings”, but somehow different… Then i found out, that Olivier had also left, i read the interview with him and i could really understand it… But still i was beset by doubts. There were allways coming thoughts to my mind, that it was actually “me”, my “ego”, i was thinking of so many wonderfull situations with SL(i’m sorry, i can’t tell him SR anymore…), all the blessings, there were quite some… And offcause, i’m still grateful for that, BUT, there was allways this strange, slight feeling, that there was something wrong and now i get this letter and it sets me under high-voltage!
Somehow i had the great good fortune to meet two other Dzogchen-Masters, and what they teach and how they teach is a little bit different, it’s just freeing, liberating as it should be, as i had the idea it could be, it’s different, i’m so greatful…
And now this letter, at a perfect instant of time, it liberates me, i’m so grateful…
I could write a novel here, but we all do not have that time…
I would like to make my point of view clear:
To me , R is a sect, a cult. There are many good people in R, some which show signs of realisation also, but the main-problem is, the teacher is not clean. Having worked with my own traumas for quite a while and having used my common sense again and again, and also having some wholesome distance from R and SL now, i see a bit clearer…
To me SL appears to be traumatized and sick. And this is no wonder, if you look on that what you know about his lifestory… I remember him saying: “in Dzogchen, compassion is seeing the other as a Buddha”, that means that by terms of your understanding, you recognize the pure Dharmakaya-beeing in the “relativ”apperance of whomever, and in this way, you can see also your master as a budhha… But not in a dualistic, constructed way, and that is actually, what SL inflicts on us all the time, and that is not true dharma, it’s brainwashing… There are always these contradictions, one day you think you have understood something, the next day you get humiliated, everyone gets humiliated at the appropriate moment, again and again and this is then called: working with ones ego!
You know what? Ego is not a problem at all, its just a designation, as HHDL said, but you can make a problem out of it, by wielding the “ego-club” again and again….
If you just do your practice, you dont need to talk or think about ego, the teacher should give support to his students, not humiliate them all the time, because that “creates” ego…
I coul write a novel, i’ve spent so much time with this, i’ve learned quite a lot, and for that i’m greatful also to SL…
As i see it, at this point there is nothing, that could be healed, the whole thing has gone too long, the damages are too much and too deep, so many people have suffered and still do, the holy Dharma itself is damaged and offcause, you can all this let go into emptiness, but that misses the point, this is not dzogchen, karma in a dzogchen-sense means to act and respond in an appropriate way, and that depends on the relative circumstances….
And this also requires responsibility, a main principle in dzogchen, and then sometimes, maybe you have to become a little wrathful, a little bit, sometimes…
So what to do now? It depends, if you think that all is true, you can leave or stay, but when you stay, there should change something… Do you think SL will change? I don’t, narcisstic
personalitys almost never change, the more narcisstic they are, the less they change, this is the nature of things… And since he’s not enlightened, what he himself said again and again, you have to change something within yourself, and this could be your view on the teacher…
And then, something will change….
It should be Love…
❁‿↗⁀◎⊙ღ๑۩۞۩๑ღ⊙◎‿↗⁀❁ Dear All, thank you for sharing and your courageous activity to speak out ! May you be healed of all sadness, stress … We were first reading about abuses of SL , published on internet around 2000. That is 17 ys ago ! And we certainly hoped that he changed his behaviour ! We strongly beleive that SL has narcissistic psychopat personality disorder and such people almost never change, never regret because they completely lack any empathy toward others . (See dr. Judith Orloff of Energy medicine how to deal with narcissists) … We first encountered SL at EBU congress in Berlin in 1992 which we attended . At the same time there was meeting with SL at Rigpa center Berlin which we attended . Already there we could observe strange behaviour of SL and his close students . SL gave us his bussiness card with a phurba symbol and looked mesmerising . Later Rigpa Germany send us their newsletters and invitation to attend their winter retreats with SL: We are really glad we didn*t went there , but it was continuous few months pressure on us to attend … Its always better to listen to ones intuition and not to follow anyone blindly . As Albert Einstein said :” Blind faith in authorities is the enemy of truth ! ” Buddha nature is in us , we need not project it ontu a guru with abusive behaviours . Regarding SL sexual preferences : Guru Padmasambhava predicted many centuries ago : “Saying that they practice union they will indulge in sexual perversions !” Ask yourself why nowdays almost no Buddhist or Dzogchen master teaches heart advice of Padmasambhava : “Descend with the View, ascend with the conduct !” Wishing you all good and may your Buddha nature shine and vibrate vividly 🙂 ❁‿↗⁀◎⊙ღ๑۩۞۩๑ღ⊙◎‿↗⁀❁
Dear Bruno, Yamaintaka,
So glad to hear what you have to say. The gradual path from delusion to where we may have a clear decision that our doubts were really observation after observation that was reframed to keep us under the thumb.
Indeed the different way it was shared by other Dzogchen masters made it all the more real and it wasn’t a “fervor induction” ceremony designed to lock you into obedience, commitment to the organisation, funding it and giving free work. Taking rather that offering opertunities to work at your own pace and freedom. That difference is well documented – belief teasing and pseudo esotericism in many other cults – why not accept that when someone behaves in this way they have an illness and naturally are pre-disposed to deception and control. That is what makes it into a cult. Remote Dharma centers may be exceedingly pure, innocent and goodly but then as you end up at a retreat you go from 0 to 100 and an experience is squeeze out of your own fondest wishes to find freedom from samsara. To come back down to 0 from bliss 100 is a reality check and then you should be able to see the difference and establish liberating practices – pure to your samaya to remain undistracted.
Actually i am very surprised to find someone who dares say “this is not Dzogchen” while fondly remembering the other flavour of presentation. Yes, most of the time after the Dzogchen time is not in keeping with that way of being, he doesn’t want meditators he wants people to run practices, offer to his dharmapalas, subjegate each other into more submission.
Someone told me “why can’t you be like this man [i wont say] who wants to salvage everything and at the same time stop it. Keep his master and having him miraculously purified and back to basics. Not likely. We need to be independent and invite teachers without a foundation of mind control.
..”We need to be independent and invite teachers without a foundation of mind control.”
Indeed so . We were reading in a letter how Rigpa therapy worked : this is obvious mind control method as used in dangerous scientology . Dangerous cult robbing people of their freedom , finances, positive emotions and empathy . First they create problem for you, then they even give you kind of therapy . Politicians are doing the same : Problem-reaction -solution (See David Icke explanation about this phenomena) . …..
We noticed over many previous years how some Buddhist teachers willingly misused Buddhist philosophy to practice mind control over others : when someone complained they would say : its all in your mind ! Such methods are very dangerous . Its recorded on one of the video tapes when one Buddhist teacher said : “Its so easy for us lamas to cheat you people !” And the German translator translated this as : Es ist so einfach fur uns lamas euch zu lehren …” (He understood this as : Its so easy for us lamas to teach you people !) It was teaching about Samantabharada prayer (Referencelessness) recorded at Rigpa Berlin . …While listening this again and again it opened our eyes and made us more independent . Freedom and liberation are the deepest qualities . May all be well .
I am a student from R for more than 20 years now. I always wondered about his behavior and When I heard about the lawsuite for abuse around 1996, I was ignored and excluded from the Groningen Sangha in the Netherlands. I therefore had a detachering involvement with R and Rigpa from that time on. I think the writers of this letter are very courageous and I want to expres me heartful thanks for doing this. Well done. You are contributing to a healthier sangha and prevent people from getting hurt.
Hello, Karen, I am a former Rigpa student who is happy to have escaped. In your post, you said, “You are contributing to a healthier sangha and prevent people from getting hurt.” Thank you for acknowleding all of the people who have been hurt. Somehow, to me, they have felt lost in the shuffle. And how some of them must have suffered.
Yes, James, so important to remember the people who have been hurt!
Karen, Thanks for sharing your experience and sharing your support!
I brought my children to the 10 day retreats for years, against the advice of my ex, their father who had suspicions about RL. Our retreats were some of the best memories of their childhood and they have not heard about these allegations yet. No doubt their father will tell them and then they will look to me. Me, who always felt a bit uneasy about his behaviour but was told to just see past that crazy wisdom stuff and leave doubt behind…
I left the organisation about 18 months ago due to ongoing uneasiness but I’m still quite upset about all this and I hope it will not taint my kids memories, and view of buddhism, but it probably will.
Dear Kimberlee, may i share some spontaneous thoughts with you, that come up in my mind? I’m also a father and have to deal with similar issues. Things change, good memories of childhood have a power and magic of it’s own, that’s my own experience, once i’ve been a child myself… The time will come, your kids want to decide for themselves(if they don’t do already), and the day will come, they will have to do so. The teachings should free as from those anxieties, your children live their own lifes, we’re all in samsara and if you can do something to support them whenever whatever, someday they will be greatful for that…
…it should be love…
Dear Kimberlee, reading your concerns about your children’s memories becoming tainted touches my heart, so may I suggest to keep the focus on the good things that happened in the first place: as a loving and caring mother you found a spot where your children could make (as I understand from your words) good and maybe even nourishing experiences in the realm of buddhism!
If they themselves did not experience unhealthy contact with the Lama, then all these current revelations could remain on a more “informational” than personal level for them. Maybe it can simply teach them to be very careful when it comes to demands of surrender and devotion. In fact they might be able to use the dharma they received so far to strengthen their connection to their buddha nature (which for one part to me is about being a good and lovable person and knowing about this fact in a humble way) so as to reach a state where they simply do not fall prey to the delusions of such teachers.
And please, do not blame yourself too hard for not leaving earlier. It is human nature to push aside experiences that do not fit the picture. Maybe you can talk to your kids (before your ex does) and explain what made you stay. Look at those deep wishes about love and unity we all have and for which we (talking about myself: sometimes desperately) seek fulfillment. These are good forces and I think for a good part they origin in our innocent (inner) child-like nature and as such they are easy to manipulate.
And in the end you DID leave – quite a while ago. So why not see this as success? And from that point maybe look deeper into what I might need to strengthen or nourish inside myself to be more clear the next time… Because I think it’s not about stop eating berries but learning to avoid the poisonous ones 😉
I hope I did not sound like “I know what’s good for you”, or like wiping away any deeper struggles, I was only trying to offer some point of view I experience as helpful for myself.
I hope so too, Kimberlee. I’m glad you’ve been able to move on so you no longer have to live with this inner conflict.
I also want to share that this is the second Tibetan lama I’ve spent time with that has fallen into disrepute and I spent years with SL trying to suppress my concerns, on a roller coaster of doubt/inspiration – so hard as it’s not the done thing in the sangha to express doubt about the teacher and so what are you supposed to do? Leave I guess, as I did. But I was caught up for a time, even apologising for SL to my partner and explaining as best I could, despite my doubt, that that’s “just the way he is” and that he uses the behaviour as a teaching method maybe, so that we can observe our reactions and mind.
Anyway im really struggling with faith in this branch of Buddhism, not wanting to try and trust a third teacher, feeling always like a square peg in round hole,and wonder if I’m not better off going back to my previous spiritual practice. It’s all very disappointing. But I know ultimately that the teachings are pure and am grateful for exposure to them.
Best wishes to everyone.
Understanding Your disappointment and distrust, why not do it completely different.
If You see a teacher just as a teacher, like for driving, its not such a big deal.
You can be very grateful for a good driving teacher, but wouldn´t see any faught as so
dramatic, because You don´t overgive him/her Your life, all Your power, devotion, money and trust. You just learn driving. Now You can drive another mahayana vehicle, if You wish.
And if You just take to heart, what feels good to You, then its up to You, what You do,
just Your choice AND THATS OK !!! Even if You are not convinced of the teacher, but You agree with the teaching. Trust in that and even reflect on that before trusting.
Can You imagine, that the teachings are all right, but the W A Y the are transmitted, like
the Way of Guru Yoga e.s.f. were not communicated as they should ?
We all believed in SR, for he showed us the Nature of Mind, but, what understood,
was the wisdom in Your mind !! So You were one of the two clapping hands.
But it was all about a kind of dependency on SR, so we continued to look outside on him, instead of mind turned inwardly.
But there are complete different ways !!!
Instead of trusting in a human teacher, why not trust in the refuge, in the Buddha´s teaching, or in a deity like Tara and try this for some time.
Especially trust in Your Buddhanature to lead You !!!
That please would be a heartfelt wish for You.
Thank you so much for your message ❤️
I complete understand, Kimberlee. There are good teachers out there, but I understand why it feels scary to try again. Yes, the teachings are pure! We are so fortunate in that regard.
Dear all. First please sorry for my bad english, but i feel its nessecary, also for my own peace, to express my deepest gratitude to the australian group of rebellions, you’re so brave and strong! and intelligent/clever, how you managed all these important steps to reach a break/ stop in this unwholesome r.-Story. Me and my wife left r. in 2012 after 13 years of membership( in my case) and many many retreats etc. . To read all the touching and important comments on this side feels a little bit like therapy, like “things come together “, find their right place.the mask of that two-face narccistic lama seems to be put down very well.
Personally the trust of me and my wife in the system of tibetan buddhism and dharmic authorities is really damaged, because for us the behaviour/reaction (or better to say non-behaviour/non-reaction) of the tib. lama-community is very strong reminiscent of the classical structures of sexual abuse systems in familys or catholics systems: everybody seems to have his own personal and seemingly comprehensible reasons to be silent about the abuse or to support the abuser or to blame the victim and so on, nobody speeks out, or at least keeps oneself apart.
So we decided to practise the path on our own, our own feet, sometimes not so easy, but it feels quite healthy, all the dharmic teachings are there, and some friends, who also left R.
Theres a life after SL and R. Very fresh and exciting, don’t worry:)
I’m really impressed by the way you are having this conversation. It’s quite a subject but there is no writing in capitals or excessive exclamation marks or anything like that.
I have some exposure to sexual abuse in an eastern religion context, but not as dramatically as the current topic. I guess it is not uncommon, unfortunately.
Wow, so much positive change. Meanwhile the dalai lama spoke out directly about Sogyal (“my very good Friend he disgraced”) and now sogyal retires from Rigpa as a (godlike) spiritual director , and Rigpa Orga wants to set up an independent investigation by a neutral Third Party. congratulations to the brave8! You achieved so so much!
Am I happy now? I’m afraid Not. It must be feared the most of the leading people in the most important positions of this structural -abuse-system will stick to their chair. IMO it needs a total complete replacement of the people who maintained and glorified this schizoid system for so many years, from rigpa international down to some of the instructors…otherwise theres no authentic beginning, development etc. so many names i remember in this moment..dont want to meet them anymore in this life, and definetely not in spiritual contexts. for me personally Sogyals “Rigpa” smells rotten, a little bit reminiscent of the downfall of the DDR.