Why didn’t they leave?

One of the questions we often hear about those in Rigpa who attested to the abuse they experienced is: “If they felt abused why did they stay so long?”
To cast some light on this we have a post by an ex-student and UKCP Registered Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Energy Psychotherapist.

Why didn’t they leave?

For those with histories of abandonment, the thought of further abandonments is terrifying and anxiety provoking. People with a background of insecure attachment in childhood, often struggle to fully respect themselves and often feel they do not deserve better treatment.  Abuse also creates attachment to the abuser, so that people will endure unacceptable treatment and cling on. Intransigent dysfunctional attachment patterns may stretch back over many a generations resulting in feelings of hopelessness, emptiness and despair of ever being loved, so attachment to the Lama becomes even more important.
The traumatic humiliations at Rigpa would activate these family patterns. I know for myself when I was at Rigpa that when I was regularly publicly shamed, I would completely dissociate, including disconnecting from my Vajra nature, and instead I would get stuck in ‘fight flight freeze’ – a trauma mode for ‘survival’. For me it was generally the freeze variety of trauma mode which renders us helpless and immobile – it played right into my own patterns where I was regularly humiliated by both parents. This public shaming did not help me at all to become liberated from these traumatic patterns. Instead, when I left Rigpa, I had no sense of a healthy self, and it took me many years to build some self-esteem – although I will nonetheless always grateful for the introduction to the nature of my mind which kept me sane.

Attachment to the ‘bad object’

Bullying, which creates ‘victims’ and ‘abusers’, is a particular feature of some attachment disorders. Research in attachment theory shows very plainly that if people are bullied and treated badly it creates attachment and dependence on the bullies. (e.g. Stockholm syndrome where people who are being  tortured become attached to and dependent upon their torturers). People often wonder why people remain in situations of domestic violence, where the combination of abuse followed by love is very toxic and creates further dependency, especially if it mirrors attachment patterns from the person’s own traumatic childhood.
In the psycho-analytic language of ‘object relations’ theory, this is a well know problem which is termed “attachment to the ‘bad object’“ ( theorists Fairbairn, Sanders  and others write extensively about this.) Research shows unequivocally that the primary need of human beings is for connection (i.e. Love). This need for connection is a survival issue which takes priority over anything else, and is more important even than the need for food.

Better the devil you know

Since the bully destroys any sense of self of the person they are bullying, when the bullied person gets used to the situation, it ironically feels  ‘safer’ to  stay with what  is familiar – what we know and retain attachment to/connection with the abuser – than to leave. So bullying relationships twist us up. If the person who bullies (parent /vajra master/sadistic torturer) is also at the same time your object of safety (dependence/taking refuge) it becomes very confusing. Better the devil you know, than abandonment and no connection/attachment at all.
This is further compounded when we add the spiritual dimension. Since the word tantra means thread – our sacred link or connection – it becomes even more traumatic when a teacher abuses that link of trust, particularly if students feel they may go to Vajra hell if they speak out. When we impose on this the view that “everything the teacher does is a teaching”, and that we must maintain our “pure perception”, students end up losing their discriminating wisdom and accept abusive behaviour as normal. This is a very twisted dynamic.

The Rigpa ‘dysfunctional family’

The dynamics of the Rigpa ‘dysfunctional family’, with its incestuous undertones of ‘keeping everything in the family’ plays its part in keeping everyone in place.
When students are required to witness group humiliations meted out to ‘errant’ students as part of their ‘training’, many  similarly freeze, and end up resorting to the defences of their  ‘adapted’  compliant  self –  what Winnicott  ( a psychoanalyst) termed  the ‘false’ self’ as a defence against facing the truth of how terrible such public shamings actually are. It also means that those who feel abused rather than more enlightened from a public shaming do not feel they can talk to anyone about it; after all, hundreds of people watch the proceedings without batting an eyelid. If everyone else thinks it’s okay, then to step outside of that dynamic and say, ‘No this is not okay,’ is very difficult.
It may be useful to reflect on how individually and collectively we have all contributed to this situation. A spiritual teacher’s narcissism becomes inflated by blind devotion from close students who model how students are supposed to behave. Both teacher and student then are caught in a dysfunctional double bind which makes it difficult for people to leave.  In the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ phenomena, we may have felt too frightened to own our perceptions, and instead, deferred to the group norm or someone else’s supposed ‘authority’.

Blessing or abuse?

The other factor in this spiritual environment that keeps students in place is the idea that the behaviour that looks to any normal Westerner like abuse is not abuse but ‘crazy wisdom’ – the unconventional behaviour of an enlightened being exhibited for the purpose of bringing a student closer to enlightenment. Students believe that they are special for being singled out for this kind of treatment, and they do not see it as abuse, they see it as a blessing, indeed as a form of great love. They believe it is a teaching for them, and so they genuinely try for years to use it as such. This is why people remaining in the organisation even if they have been subjected to the same behaviour as that attested to by the Eight may still deny they have been abused. For some, since they use it for that purpose, such treatment may well unblock something. For those it does not have a beneficial effect on, however, it takes some time for the realisation to dawn that it is not bringing them closer to enlightenment, but rather closer to physical and emotional breakdown. After that realisation, they still face the difficulties of leaving, which for those financially reliant on the organisation or valuable to its functioning can be considerable.
Though it is relatively easy for the general student to leave. It is not a simple matter for someone trying to escape a situation with the dynamics of domestic abuse. Fear is a real factor in remaining in an abusive situation.

The domestic violence answer

Note Leslie Steiner’s rationalisation of her situation. “I never once thought of myself as a battered wife. Instead, I was a very strong woman in love with a deeply troubled man.”
She didn’t see the abuse as abuse. In Rigpa the rationalisation is that it is ‘training’ or ‘crazy wisdom’.  The general pattern is that students ‘close to the fire’ have emotional or physical breakdowns before they leave, and even then, they will not see what they experienced as abuse. For so long as their trauma goes unacknowledged they are not in a healthy state of mind.
This link is to the specifically relevant part of Leslie’s TED talk posted on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TED/videos/10159481226450652/?fref=gs&dti=118333772112331&hc_location=group
This is her full talk.


35 Replies to “Why didn’t they leave?”

  1. Some weeks ago, I asked Rigpa de if they do agree with K. Namdrols Statement. No answer came. If someone pretends demonic forces to be ultimately real, he or she is not in the view of pure reality, shunyata. So no one needs to fear at all, in reality.
    The only way to heal all this is in public. Together: the ones who feel abused, Rigpa org and S.R. / They split to avoid it. Mistake. May this be truly healed.
    Remember, 15, 20 years ago, Sogyal said many times: “The only one who can help you is you! ” True.
    If Rigpa agrees with KN, i can’t take them seriously anymore.
    If Dzongsar writes such things like the “sex contract”, i can take him serious anymore too.
    May this be healed. For the sake of others.
    Remember, no chains to be real. Remember pure reality inside any bloom and remember the words of the Buddha: its all just in the mind.
    What they all call hell is not following the deepest intuitiveness.

    1. Thank you so much Him Weber, your post describes how I feel too. My experience of ‘hell’ is also what happens when you don’t follow your own deep wisdom or intuitiveness as you say.

  2. Many of them are probably prone to narcissistic abuse themselves or have been raised by such parents. In general many persons in lead positions, doctors, psychiatrists, teachers, managers etc. are predisposed to enter dysfunctional relationsships, because they fit in like magnets.
    One exception is Ross Rosenberg who overcame his codependency, he wrote the book “The human magnet syndrome” which describes the dynamic of such alliances. This can probably also be extended to a collective level, where narcissistic abuse or dysfunctional relationsships are not recognised as such – because people are used to it from early childhood and have been brought up to accept it as “normal”.
    To interfere with that, means to run-down your own clan and confront yourself with your own deepest blind spots.
    That’s why it won’t happen.
    As I commented in another thread:
    colon: The whole “story” can probably be boiled down to “spiritual bypassing”

    1. @ gedundblog Why don’t you let people answer that questions themselves ? The question why someone does not leave a potential harmful situation could have as many individual reasons as there are people on the planet.
      Why patronising them by delivering any generalised answer ? Even if there might be a grain of truth in it – I would not accept such second hand solution. Everybode has to find out themselves if or if not they suffered or enabled any kind of abuse.
      Just in case they want find out whatsoever.

  3. For some people, it was their Karma to either:
    A.) Choose the wrong Guru
    B.) Get too close to the right Guru, or,
    C.) Stay too long with the right Guru
    Trigger Warning. Every person that feels more burned than blessed by Sogyal Rinpoche is partly to blame.
    No, I’m not fully blaming the “victims” Yes, I am asking the adult “victims” to learn to take some responsibility for the relationships that they forge in their lives. We are intersubjective Beings.

  4. Thanks, this is a really useful article.
    It’s the kind of clear psychological analysis needed and precisely the sort of insight so completely absent from Tibetan Buddhist teachings….and we might wonder why that is?
    A pity, but not surprising I suppose, ( it was their ‘karma’ ) that only 4 comments into the thread we get a classic example of pseudo-spiritual, victim-blaming gibberish by someone who:
    A) Didn’t bother to read the article properly;
    B) Read it but couldn’t understand it.
    C) Just likes making excuses for abusers.
    I’m not fully blaming the “person” Yes, I am asking the adult “person” to learn to take some responsibility for the relationships that they forge with their bigotry.

  5. @Gold Star,
    You are blaming the victims, and it’s clear that you don’t consider them victims because you put quotes around “victims” just like Dzongsar Khyentse did in his long-winded, victim-shaming article. It’s true that adults should take some responsibility for their relationships, but even adults can be fooled and get into abusive relationships with narcissistic abusers.

    1. Correction….Dzongsar Khyentse put quotes around “Vajrayana students,” but it is the same sort of thing. Putting quotes around something shows that you don’t consider them sincere.

      1. @EuDawn
        Very witty, and perhaps the only response to such an insensitively stupid posting which is actually quite offensive and typical macho-spiritual posturing.
        I’m sure if he’d been the victim of abuse he wouldn’t be putting the word in parenthesis either.
        Worst one so far.

  6. This is such a timely article. During my years of discussions with people on lama abuse, this subject comes up over and over. It’s the same with understanding the psychological dynamics of cults as well (because I think both dynamics are happening here). If people don’t understand the dynamic involved then they cannot even pretend to understand the abusive situation. For myself, I can now view my past troubles in the context of Buddhist terms such as karma, but in the beginning Western psychology spoke to me more. And I think that’s true for many in this situation. So thanks to the author.
    This context is also helpful for those of us who are feeling frustrated at the lack of progress. I compare our frustration to that of family members of a person in an abusive marriage. We want it resolved quickly and decisively because it seems so clear to us– but the process is often so long and complicated and murky and huge patience is needed.

  7. Perhaps you’re right…… but on the other hand what GoldStar is doing is victim-blaming, this is hurtful to the people following this blog who are those victims he arrogantly puts in parenthesis.
    It’s appalling, so with all due respect, I prefer to take issue with it, just in case the commenter isn’t fully aware of the consequences of what he’s doing and letting him know might give him pause for thought.
    Also it deserves ridicule because with a certain mentality, like in Rigpa, silence can be misinterpreted as tacit agreement.
    But as you suggest, if someone keeps going on that track just because they want attention, we can ignore them or better still they could be moderated.

    1. Makes sense. These points repeatedly made are important to refute, if you care to. It’s just that when someone says the same thing, even the same line over and over, my eyes glaze over and I want the conversation to not get sidetracked.

  8. @Starshine
    It’s true that it’s very easy to get sidetracked and sometimes it’s a subtle process: before your realize it the discussion veers off at a tangent.
    My feeling about this kind of victim-blaming is that it’s a continuation of the abuse, and especially now there are lamas unambiguously telling Rigpa students that people are possessed by demons, threatening them with hellish rebirth, OT saying it’s ok to beat or kill students if it leads them to enlightenment……it’s sick and all part of the same attitude, and I think it needs to be called out.
    I notice this blog has now notched up nearly 180,000 hits, that’s excellent, but evidently far more people read it than actually comment and among those there will be quite a few vulnerable and distressed students who don’t yet feel confident enough to contribute.
    Sure we can debate, disagree strongly and have very different opinions, but that kind of comment is attacking them specifically, so for me, it can’t go unchallenged.

    1. I agree Pete. Not challenging is a little like being a bye stander. There’s been enough of that. And convincing a survivor that they are not to blame often takes years. They also struggle with that.

      1. @Joanne Clark,
        I was really struck by what you said in a previous comment: “If people don’t understand the dynamic involved they cannot even pretend to understand the abusive situation.”
        That sums it up very concisely because this is about precisely that problem……pointing out and challenging a complete personal and institutional lack of understanding.
        Frankly I can think of a lot of people who might benefit from having your phrase inked backwards across their foreheads so they could see it everytime they look in the mirror.
        I think it’s mostly, although not exclusively, a male problem. We’re so much less likely to have even experienced any kind of harassment let alone sexual abuse and in a situation of men being bullied even by someone as aggressive as SL, there’s always the underlying possibility of physical retaliation at some point so the abuser limits his tactics and chooses his victims carefully.
        That’s demonstrated by SL’s violence being mostly sexual and directed at women. He and those closest to him and many lamas (mostly male ) are experientially and even intellectually incapable of understanding that dynamic, but I suspect even if they had it explained to them they might not care.
        For all it’s great wisdom, this kind of fundamental understanding is entirely missing from traditional Tibetan Buddhism.
        That’s why to me, Rigpa is an unreformable organisation that needs external judicial intervention to limit the damage and bring redress to it’s victims.

        1. Is that true Pete? Does SL refrain from physically abusing men? I hadn’t thought of that– doesn’t that automatically discount any claims that these beatings are part of some dzogchen awakening (e.g. Mahasiddha practice)? Interesting.

          1. I don’t think it’s true that the violence was mainly sexual in nature. And it’s not true that it was mainly directed at women, if you judge by the original letter writers’ genders. 6 are men, 2 are women, and they all experienced physical abuse.

        2. Pete, the abuse was not mostly sexual and directed at women. He beat anyone within striking distance when he was in a mood, this escalated noticeably in the early 2000’s when he was diagnosed with diabetes. He ignored all advice about eating and exercise and refused to have his blood sugar tested. He would fly into diabetic rages over the slightest provocation. I remember one time he said that someone moved a rug so he lined up 3 of us, two men and me, and was hitting each of us in turn demanding to know who moved the rug. One of the men tried to shield me so sl grabbed me by the ear and dragged me out from behind him, tearing the connective tissue all along the back to show him that I’d get hurt even more if he tried to protect me…none of us had moved the freaking rug. I think that he’s also experiencing signs of dementia/Alzheimers, and or he sustained brain damage while in a coma in 2005.
          The point is he’s a very sick man on a lot of levels, and all of us who put up with his abuse for so many years have a responsibility to call out the behavior and warn others. We also have a responsibility for assessing why we were complicit?
          The very worst abuse was the constant psychological and emotional torment, he inflicts that on everyone all the time. He’s a self absorbed self aggrandizing bully. He can also be incredibly charming, he uses kindness and flattery to suck people in and then he pulls the rug out from under them. I put up with it because he told us that he was working with our egos, the less we liked it the more it was helping. Only it didn’t help most people most of the time as evidenced by how many people have had physical, emotional and psychological breakdowns that included hospital stays for physical illnesses and mental illness.

          1. Wow, just WOW! This makes it even worse that the lamas heard these kinds of stories about Sogyal for years, (because people reported it and asked the lamas for help), and the lamas just ignored it and supported Sogyal anyway. It seems they only withdrew their support, or made any comments about him at all, when the media exposure became too much to ignore, so they had to say something. Most of them didn’t even have anything decent to say. It’s very disheartening.

          2. And Not So Hopeful, that’s what those of us watching from the outside thought as well, that it was some sort of ego work. I remember in 1999 I brought my 16 year old daughter to a teaching and she was horrified by his behavior. I told her we couldn’t judge how he “worked” with his close students. This is the deep damage of his behaviors, that even those viewing them are leaving their compassionate discernment behind and twisting reality to justify harm. I had raised my daughter to be a caring and kind human being– but there I was re-teaching her this new horrible reality, reneging on my responsibility as a parent and human being.

            1. Joanne, you’re definitely not the only one; I think all of us without exception did this in our different ways, I just can’t believe there was no one who stayed long enough who didn’t at some point suppress their misgivings about SL.
              It’s something well understood now, there’s a book about ignoring what we know as a stress avoidance strategy, It’s called ‘Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception’ by Daniel Goleman.
              Like your daughter, the pre-teenage daughters of some of our friends called SL “the old pervert” because of his habit of touching them whenever possible, their perception was much more accurate than the adults.
              I brought several people to the teachings, and some of them had a similar reaction, they couldn’t understand my attitude at all. They were right too…..

          3. @Not so Hopeful/Starshine/Joanne
            Thank you for pointing out where I’m wrong. I left over 20 years ago, I never saw him hit men, but it’s wrong of me to assume he never did, just because I didn’t witness it. I once saw him slap a women during the last teachings I attended in LL, it was shocking but by then I was getting quite disillusioned anyway.
            I left because I was sickened by the first revelations of sexual abuse. Back then for me, it effectively constituted physical as well as psychological violence and that was directed against women.
            When I read the letter from the 8 I knew it had become worse but Not so Hopeful, your description makes it even more vivid, that degree and frequency of violence is something else. To be honest I’ve had such a entirely critcal view of him for so long that I evidently didn’t pay enough attention to the letter.
            I also wondered about some form of dementia and I watched a short clip of one of his recent teachings; he looked very heavily medicated. Your analysis is certainly accurate.
            Your point about our complicity is very important too, and it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. It prompted me to do a lot of reading on narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy, mind-control, religious experience, dissociative states, Stockholm syndrome and other factors related to religious cults. SL, Rigpa and Tibetan Buddhism itself tick many of the the boxes.
            Even now, I can’t say I completely understand my own involvment nor exactly why I tolerated as much as I did, even though he wasn’t as deranged then and I never experienced the degree of suffering that you and others have since.
            I can only speak for myself, but I think the main factors were a craving for another type of massive buzz after the psychedelic drugs had become unmanageable, a bit of social alienation, a lot of youthful naivety and arrogance and no experience of abuse or exploitation of any kind, which meant I had no template to recognise or defend myself against such a manipulative, ambitious individual from a culture that then seemed exotic and wise rather than just obscurantist and backward as it does to me now.
            15 years is still a very long time though, but I suppose the social structure around Rigpa was an important anchor too. In all that time I never did experience any thing as powerful and transformative as LSD, no matter how much I practised and after I walked away all my ‘dharma friends’ suddenly evaporated. So many years wasted.
            Everything valuable I learnt was by default, inspite of the teachings rather than because of them.
            The important thing now is to help victims and prevent it happening again. With the prospect of a fundamentalist like OT taking a leading role in Rigpa the process could easily be repeated all over again with a transition from a violent sexual predator to a kind of traditional sadist.
            The very fact that some of those closest to him allowed him to continue unchecked and hid his serious condition for years, means that they have no scruples at all and no concern for others when it comes to keeping the business going and maintaining their status, jobs and lifestyle. That really doesn’t bode well for the future of Rigpa at all.
            Your post is very important, and it’s the kind of testimony that’s needed at the moment by the Procureur of Montpellier ( the equivalent of a Distrtict Attorney ) for the dossier that’s being compiled.

            1. Not to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I imagine “not so Hopeful” was hoping that Rigpa would “do the right thing”, given the implication is that it’s possible for certain people to basically destroy the organization with the multiple forms of evidence available.
              “Do the right thing” meant, acknowledge the abuse, help those affected, and move on in an ethical and responsible manner. Others have also pointed out what this would involve: https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/opinion-how-rigpa-can-redeem-itself-in-the-wake-of-sogyal-rinpoches-resignation/
              However, instead we’ve seen a double-down on victim blaming, with such highlights as OTR essentially blaming samaya-breakers for reducing SR’s lifespan, Khenchen Namdrol invoking “non-human magical entities” (demons) as an explanation for the behavior of those who spoke out, and DJKR making jokes about sexual assault. OTR then speaking in Paris about how beatings increase wisdom etc.
              Rigpa is, apparently, on the verge of announcing who will carry out an investigation.
              This blog has had several pages with questions for the investigators, and management, to answer.
              So far as I can see, there hasn’t been much response or acknowledgement of any of that to date.
              Pete, you can probably see how this is playing out. Rigpa has been given every chance to “do the right thing”, and is not really getting it. Maybe this “investigation” is their last chance to pull up the controls and not crash into the mountainside.

              1. @RH
                Yes, it’s certainly the last chance they have to behave with any decency, but I’ll believe it when it happens.
                ( I’d be even more surprised if it made any difference if it does happen). So far it’s pure PR and very inept PR at that. Anyway how could they defend the indefensible? It’s just a feeble attempt at mis-direction.
                I’ve recently read SL’s private letter to the 8, which by the grammar and syntax was probably mostly written by Patrick Gaffney. It’s one of the most cringingly awful, whining attempts at self-exoneration thinly disguised as an apology that I’ve ever read.
                I don’t believe him or they are sincere at all, otherwise as you point out, why the victim blaming and threats? By drafting in these lamas they’re showing their true colours, it’s remarkably heavy handed.
                Whatever they might do, it’s irrelevant now except internally to mollify or intimidate students who aren’t disgusted enough to leave but need some sort of token gesture to keep their loyalty and their subscriptions going.
                In any case matters are no longer within their control now the Police and Judiciary are involved, and given the seriousness of the abuse that’s how it should be .
                On which subject: For anyone wanting to help stop abuse in future, get redress and eventually closure by testifying:
                The contact details for the lawyer working in conjunction with the Police and the Procureur de Montpellier: jean-baptiste.cesbron@avocat-conseil.fr
                Also you can cc emails to the Commandant de Police: laurent.carbonneaux@gendarmerie.interieur.gouv.fr
                Please don’t hesitate to share these details, it’s quite safe, it’s the French government so all information and your ID will be completely protected and confidentiality assured.

  9. Is it possible that psychic abilities may have something to do with the way cult leaders and spiritual leaders are able to control and influence otherwise decent people? I believe we all have these abilities, and they have nothing to do with being enlightened or special, (contrary to what many Buddhists believe). But it’s true that those who meditate a lot, or dabble in shamanic practices, tend to develop more better concentration than the average person on the street, so they are able to use those abilities more effectively. It’s also true that cult leaders and spiritual teachers can use these powers to hypnotize and control others. Is it possible that the psychic abilities of some of these lamas may be a factor in why people are being controlled and manipulated so easily? Maybe you think I sound crazy, but I do believe that psychic abilities are real, and Sogyal has quite a big dose of them, imo. (After seeing him personally, I can attest to that.)

  10. I have experienced what appeared to be clairvoyance and other unusual phenomena around a lama. There was also talk of weather making and then also the ability to introduce the nature of mind. These things can cause major cognitive dissonance, confusion and self doubt if they are believed to be manifestations of an enlightened being who then causes harm/suffering via other behaviours….

  11. Yes, Catlover & Rose, I’ve witnessed some very odd things, which also kept me in a ‘magical thinking’ mode. Yes RH, the letter writers purposely didn’t say anything about rigpa the org because none of us wanted to destroy rigpa or sl, just stop the harm, and yes tragically they haven’t taken the opportunity. The investigation will be the end of rigpa, which makes me very sad.
    Yes Pete, the physical side of the abuse has escalated. I find it really interesting that you mention not having any history of abuse so basically having no context for what was happening, I fit into that category too. It’s not true that it’s just people with a history of abuse that got sucked in. I found this interesting. “It is a myth that members of an abusive community are mentally or emotionally troubled upon joining. Actually such individuals are usually rejected because their sensitivity would lead them to exhibit distress publicly from the maltreatment . What is wanted are individuals that are able to hide their suffering from themselves and others.”
    I find it troubling to see rigpa manifesting as a full blown cult, I really didn’t believe that to be true 3 months ago.
    RH I see the investigation as them all piled in a truck speeding towards the edge of the Grand Canyon, it’s not whether they will go over the edge, the question is how long will it take and how painful will the trip to the bottom will be?
    So aside from being able to hide our pain, which I became an expert at, what are the other components that make this possible? I know what my ‘hooks’ were. The conversation that I wish was happening is how do we bring the Buddha dharma to the west minus the cultural baggage? Tibet transformed Buddhism in a number of ways to make it work in Tibet, what are the key elements for it to work in the west? I think basic ethical conduct is crucial. Somehow I misinterpreted abuse as part of the path when in fact it was a brutal overlay, a consequence of being interpreted through a misogynistic feudal culture.

    1. @Not so Hopeful anymore
      Yes, Buddhism may have left feudal Tibet but feudal Tibet certainly hasn’t left Buddhism yet.
      The question is: even if it were possible to remove it, what would be left and would it still be of interest to many people?
      Most lamas have probably understood that by now and since it’s all they have, naturally they will resist change. Like all religions it’s deeply conservative, often to the point of being reactionary. Fear is a big element in that especially in a diaspora.

      1. Hi @Pete cowell, it’s nice to read you in this blog, you are clear and direct. You ask a question : “even if it were possible to remove it (feudal Tibet), what would be left and would it still be of interest to many people? ”
        It’s quite impossible to answer for the” many people”, nevertheless I’d like to give a personal answer to this question, because it’s a very important one for me, certainly the most important in my life. The answer is the reason why I was able to bear so much hardship trying to find my way in Tibetan Buddhism. (Not in Rigpa, in an other lineage)
        Saying I am a victim would be a wrong shortcut, even if I have been deeply wounded and lost many things (material, financial, social etc). In fact, I see myself as a survivor and a devotee of the Buddha and of his teachings, and I believe that I’m not the only one.
        I removed ( by myself and for myself) the feudal system, what is left is what I was seeking for, since my childhood : that is to say, the answers to my spiritual questions, mainly what is the world, what are sentient beings, who am I ?
        I’m deeply satisfied with what I found. I didn’t realized (actualized) it yet, but I know the way, I know it’s possible, and I follow the path (or more precisely : integrate this understanding), knowing now who are the wolves, where are the snares (not all, but most of them, to be honest).
        The Official Christian churches couldn’t satisfy me with their answers. However, now when I read the Gospel with this new understanding, I believe that the Christ was also giving the same answers in a more hidden way (just my opinion).

  12. Very helpful explanations since this is the question I am
    confronted with all the time to explain why I stayed and why the victims stayed. It really helps me to understand. Thanks for the vivid discussion, too.

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