Not everyone is entirely pleased with the two letters received by the Rigpa Sangha on August 11, one announcing Sogyal Rinpoche’s resignation as a spiritual director of the organization, and the other explaining Rigpa’s plans for moving forward with an independent investigation of abuse allegations.
Some feel hesitant to trust, and others feel the matter goes beyond trust.
This long-time former student, expresses her hesitations after reading an optimistic post in the What Now? Facebook group, recently shared on this blog.
“Thank you for upholding such positive determination to move forward. Without exaggeration I can say that to me that the way you appear in this forum seems deep and genuinely balanced, respectful, discerning, goodhearted and very compassionate. It makes me able to naturally and genuinely rejoice in your positive outlook and will to move forward.
In my heart I don’t really see any division between people ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. Sometimes I see people ‘inside’ to be acting more harmful to Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa (even if their intention obviously is to ‘protect’ and ‘defend’) than some people ‘outside’ who respectfully have expressed concerns and pointed out action points to work towards establishing confidence and credibility and vice versa. There’s no black and white, and I think it’s impossible to really know and judge, what is inside other peoples’ heart.
One of the very most essential things I learnt from studying the Dharma is ‘Things/phenomena are never as they appear.’ Again and again I experience it to be true (and I get ‘hit’ by it whenever I forget), but it’s freeing for me because it lessens the power of getting too much caught up in hope and fear and also to go beyond ‘inside’-‘outside’.
I myself have not directly experienced harm or abuse but I think for people who have and who have also been traumatised over a period of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years it is very painful to see, that it is still the very same core people leading and speaking about these new steps/intention of changes, who have strongly been active in the covering up (while fully knowing about the issues) for more than 30 years. As several people have expressed, they have been more tough to deal with and taken as much part in the harm and traumatisation as have Sogyal Rinpoche.
So please forgive me and others who can’t as quickly jump into having such a clear positive outlook as you can. I do also think it really is a step in the right direction, but since this unhealthy ‘culture’ has been built up over more than 30 years, I think it will also take some time to become more confident that this change will really and genuinely spread from the core and out in the whole organisation without subtle underlying inferences of martyrdom, anger and/or blaming.
I am not writing this for you to change any stance (because I am really happy to be able to rejoice in your positive outlook and will to move forward and in my heart I would love for you to be completely right). I’ve never really used FB before because I’ve not found it especially enriching or beneficial to engage in. I love the What Now? forum and find it very meaningful. I think this forum will only become stronger and prove its credibility because we can have open and honest dialogues from different perspectives. So again a deep thanks and appreciation for all your sane, inspiring and compassionate contributions in this forum and for giving me this opportunity to have this dialogue with you. A heartfelt sense of gratitude to everybody in this forum for this possibility and learning from all the dialogues unfolding.”
Responding to the same post, another student says this isn’t a question of trust, and expresses her concerns about the neutrality of those currently in leadership positions.
“For me it isn’t a question of trust. If a person has been enabling abuse whilst in a role they must be removed from that role, e.g. resign or replaced, otherwise to me it reflects Rigpa as being a farcical! More importantly what message does it send to all the abuse victims! How can we we protect others from abuse if enablers are still holding roles? Frankly it is thoughtless, disrespectful and makes me angry. I feel there should be an independent inquiry like the child sex abuse Royal Commission here in Australia.”
While the reports of abuse remain allegations, the question still remains regarding the current leadership in Rigpa. Confidence in them has waned for a significant segment of current and former Rigpa students.
Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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. Include a link to your Facebook profile or the email address you use on Facebook.