Thank you for your response to our letter of July 14. We have since met and are of one mind in what follows.
We are encouraged by your willingness to engage in a dialogue with us and that you are taking very seriously the harm your actions have caused. We agree with you that you should seek advice and guidance from the masters who have a genuine care and concern for R, such as DKR and MR. We too have confidence in a number of well respected lamas, whose support and concern have been extended to us.
We are confused that you did not mention that you will seek advice from HHDL, your eldest and senior most teacher. You have always spoken of him with such deep devotion. Certainly at this critical moment his guidance would be precious. Will you seek counsel from His Holiness the Dalai Lama?
As you know, it was out of deep concern for our companions on the path, and the Buddha Dharma in general, that we felt compelled to write to you. Over the last two decades many close students have voiced their concerns to you about your behavior, but their efforts have been to no avail.In your response to us, you wrote, “… it was never, ever, my intention to hurt you or any other person, and if this is how it appears, then I am deeply shocked.” We did not question your motivation, nor did we write about the “appearance” of harm. What we said is that we clearly observe your actions and the consequences. You also repeatedly mentioned the manner in which your actions have been “perceived.” Again, the critical issue here is not about our and others’ perception; it is about how your actions have caused actual harm to many people.
The few examples in our first letter provided a small glimpse behind your public persona and represent just a fraction of the harm caused. You have not, in your response to us, nor has anyone within Rigpa, denied that you have done the things that we asserted.
While we have brought to light your actions, in accordance with HHs’ advice, we also want to say that we do not deny that you have benefited us and many other students with your teachings, and that you are a very skilled communicator. Still, at the same time, you have created very deep pain for many students. Knowing what we know, we could not remain silent any longer or else we would be complicit in any future harm you cause.
You said in your letter that we should all keep in mind “the greater vision” of Rigpas work and that Buddha Dharma should not be affected negatively. We could not agree more. If anything we said in our first letter, or this communication, is untrue, then, being one of the most prominent Tibetan Buddhist lamas in the world, you are obliged to clearly and compellingly refute our assertions. If you do not refute them, are you not risking the Buddha Dharma being harmed? If, however, our assertions are true, they must be acknowledged and fundamental corrections of behavior must be made.
Or, there is another way. You could say to the entire Sangha, “This is who I am and how I act. I can use violence how I want. I can coerce students to have sex. I will have sex with any young woman I meet, even your daughters who you proudly offer to me in service. I can live and act as I wish. You make the choice if you want to study with me or not.” We consulted with a number of Chogyam Trungpa students and it seems he was 100% out in the open with his less than conventional behavior; students could then make their own choice after knowing this behavior.
We have been heartened in recent days by the support from and discussion with senior Dharma teachers around the world, including Tibetan lamas. We will continue to follow their counsel in our communication with you and in our actions. We are following the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in bringing the behavior of our teacher into the light of day. We harbor no ill-will toward you. And, we want to be clear; we do not feel that we have broken samaya, trust, or our heart connection with you and others. We are clear that it is your actions towards us that have broken that trust. In your response to us, we had hoped that you would take responsibility and begin to try to repair this. However, instead of moving towards repairing, you ask for forgiveness for our misunderstanding, not for your actions. What kind of forgiveness is this?
We have not made public your response to us, or any of our communication with other Tibetan Buddhist lamas, or senior Western Dharma teachers. We have also received many requests for media interviews and we have not spoken to anyone yet. We have considered this an internal matter from the outset and because of the gravity of the situation, we hope that you will act with a sense of urgency in the coming days and either explain to everybody how your behavior, that we elucidated in the first letter, is acceptable, or else immediately refrain from such harmful actions.
The letter that was sent to you a few days ago by a group of Australian Ngöndro and Dzogchen mandala students offered specific suggestions to you, and a way forward for the R leadership and Sangha. We support their suggestions completely.
We look forward to hearing from you.
In the Dharma
If you have any thoughts to share, let us know in the comments. Please use initials rather than full names when referring to teachers and organizations.
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.