The French magazine “Marianne,” asked Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk, author, translator, and photographer to comment on The Letter from 8 former and current students of SL, asserting allegations of physical and sexual abuse.
These excerpts are from a lengthier response:
“Regarding the recent letter concerning the behaviour of Sogyal Rinpoche written by some of his close disciples, I cannot judge the intentions of Sogyal Rinpoche and can not say whether he actually meant to harm his students. But I have also no reason to doubt the truth of these facts and testimonies, which describe the abuse that various people have suffered at his hands. I know two of the authors of the letter and I consider them honest and trustworthy. The behaviour described in this letter and in the other past testimonies is obviously unacceptable—from the point of view of ordinary morality and especially from that of Buddhist ethics. This is all the more so given the considerable suffering that has resulted from such actions.”
He also recognizes that many people have benefited from the teachings of SR by saying:
“The fact that a number of authentic masters have given teachings at Lerab Ling is, in itself, a very good thing for all who have encountered them. Likewise, it must be recognized that the teachings given by Sogyal Rinpoche, as well as his books, have benefited many people. But this does not in any way excuse the harmful actions that he may have perpetrated in other contexts.”
And, Ricard shares his experience of having lived with great spiritual masters himself for extended periods:
“Speaking for myself, I was able to live for seven years in the presence of a great master, Kangyur Rinpoche, and for twelve years in that of another master, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and I can testify that I never witnessed the slightest word or action that could conceivably be of harm to other people. These masters perfectly embodied the teachings that they gave.”
In his comments, Ricard also shares the qualities of an authentic spiritual master as well as the qualities considered to be harmful, according to the Buddhist tradition, and explains why there’s an absence of authoritative oversight in the Tibetan Buddhist system:
According to the bio on his website, “Matthieu Ricard has dedicated his life to the study and practice of Buddhism following the teachings of the greatest Tibetan spiritual masters of our time. He has been the French interpreter for the Dalai Lama since 1989. He is the author of several volumes of Buddhist texts translated from the Tibetan, such as The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin, The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, and The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva (teachings by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche).”
[Image from matthieuricard.org]
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