Process and the Belief at the Core of the Problem

Cloud_Mountain

The Good and the Bad

Though I will always love Sogyal Rinpoche (just as I love my child regardless of any poor behaviour she may exhibit) and honour the benefit I have gained from my association with him, the more first-hand accounts I hear from people who have found themselves harmed by their association and those within his ‘inner circle’, the more difficult it is to accept that the good this spiritual teacher has done outweighs the bad. Sometimes, it seems to me that the only ones that have benefitted from his despicable/enlightened (choose which word choice suits you best) behaviour are therapists and psychiatrists.

However, regardless of how you see his qualifications as a teacher, we cannot deny that he did introduce a great many people to Buddhadharma, the teachings of which are a huge benefit to all who hear them.

The Extent of the Hurt

He was always kind to me, even in personal interactions, up until the point where he betrayed my trust that he wouldn’t harm anyone. And in a similar fashion he has hurt every single one of his students, even those who are still in denial that anything wrong has occurred. But no one has suffered as much as those who experienced the stated behaviour first hand, and their difficulty in extricating themselves from the situation can be better understood by looking at the issues people face when escaping cults.

The Emotional Process

I’m not saying Rigpa is a cult, just saying that there are similarities in the emotional process for those who have left and also for those who are re-evaluating their involvement. Referring to this material can be very helpful for those trying to process this. Where are you in this process?

  • Disbelief/denial: “This can’t be happening. It couldn’t have been that bad.”
  • Anger/hostility: “How could they/I be so wrong?” (hate feelings)
  • Self-pity/depression: “Why me? I can’t do this.”
  • Fear/bargaining: “I don’t know if I can live without my group. Maybe I can still associate with it on a limited basis, if I do what they want.”
  • Reassessment: “Maybe I was wrong about the group’s being so wonderful.”
  • Accommodation/acceptance: “I can move beyond this experience and choose new directions for my life”
  • Or … Reinvolvement: “I think I will rejoin the group.”

More on this in the following article. http://www.icsahome.com/articles/post-cult-after-effects-singer Another helpful article from the same website is this one on post-cult problems http://www.icsahome.com/articles/cult-problems-giambalvo

Those who are still seeing the behaviour outlined in the letter from the Courageous 8 or experiencing it and still not seeing it for what it is are those most in need of our compassion. To extricate themselves from the beliefs that have taught them to see harm as benefit is extremely difficult because they have suspended their critical thinking. The good thing is that this kind of wake-up call might eventually force them to get to the reassessment stage.

The Power of Beliefs

I was lucky, not just because I was never directly harmed, but also because I never thought SR was enlightened. I always saw his making students wait for hours, humiliating people publically, driving his team to ill-health, and his insistence on perfection in the most ridiculous of small details as indications that he was merely a man, flawed like us all, but also a Buddha in essence, like us all. My devotion was to the teacher who taught the dharma from his wisdom mind, not to the man with questionable behaviour. I accepted that in order to get the best of him—his teachings—I had to accept that he was also a grumpy little man. So when the crunch came, though shocked, I had no trouble accepting that he was capable of the behaviour documented in the letter by the 8. I also had no trouble accepting the good along with the admitting the bad, because I had seen it that way all along. The ‘bad’ was just much worse than I had thought, so much so that I knew immediately that my time as his student was over. I had it easy.

But those who had believed him enlightened—and many still do—have a much harder task in processing the fact that the behaviour of their enlightened master has been declared to be abusive. And processing this would be most difficult for those who have personally seen and even experienced the behaviour. Their belief in him as an enlightened being was (is) so strong that they were able to witness or experience the behaviours outlined in the letter from the 8 and not see it as abuse but as enlightened action.

Ego and Karma

The denial that any harm occurred, as professed by many, is not surprising, especially when that stance is solidified by emphasising certain religious beliefs. It’s a form of self-protection, an attempt to stop the sense of self constructed around their religious beliefs from crumbling. To question the person and the beliefs you have based your whole life around for decades requires enormous courage, a courage that is very hard to find in an environment that does not support such questioning—hence What Now?

My heart truly goes out to those still close to the fire, and those in Lerab Ling at present. I believe they are doing their best, but their perception is distorted by their belief that Sogyal Rinpoche is an enlightened being, and, therefore, he has done no harm. It also goes out to the cause of the problem. If Sogyal Rinpoche has become even a little aware of the extent of the pain his actions have caused, then he must be suffering indeed—and if not now, then when the karma eventually plays out.

“Although there is no self in absolute terms, in terms of the relative one still has to suffer the results of one’s past good and bad actions.” Progressive Stages of Emptiness, but Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, P22

The Belief at the Core of the Problem

Many, including Mingyur Rinpoche, have presented an alternative and more reasoned view of the teachings commonly used to support the ‘no harm has been done’ idea, but many times that has just turned into an argument, one fostered by different teachers in the tradition stating different views or seemingly confused themselves.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama with his characteristic simplicity and directness called out the issue back in 1993 when he said: “Seeing all actions of our teacher as perfect is like poison and can be misused. This attitude spoils our entire teachings by giving teachers a free hand to take undue advantage.”

Holding rigidly to such a belief suspends our common sense and stops us from using out innate wisdom of discernment, a situation that this debacle in Rigpa makes clear is very dangerous indeed. And this is the belief that has allowed this situation to go on for so long. This is the belief that for so long as it is held by those running Rigpa means the poison has not been removed. Why? Because if they hold such a belief, they will not be able to see abusive behaviour in their teacher as abuse, even if it is happening right in front of their eyes. If they can’t admit the harm they have done by enabling and covering up the attested abuse, they should resign. We cannot trust someone to clean up a mess if they don’t see the cause of the mess.

A Sensible View of the Same Belief

We CAN be students of Vajrayana without holding tightly to a belief in the actions of our teacher as a manifestation of enlightened action (and therefore not harmful even if it appears so to us). As the Dalai Lama says: “I have had many teachers, and I cannot accept seeing all their actions as pure. My two regents, who were among my sixteen teachers, fought one another in a power struggle that even involved the Tibetan army. When I sit on my meditation seat, I feel both were kind to me, and I have profound respect for both of them. Their fights do not matter. But when I had to deal with what was going on in the society, I said to them, “What you’re doing is wrong!” We should not feel a conflict in loyalties by acting in this way. In our practice, we can view the guru’s behavior as that of a mahasiddha, and in dealings with society, follow the general Buddhist approach and say that that behavior is wrong.”


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63 thoughts on “Process and the Belief at the Core of the Problem

  1. Sorry, maybe someone likes to translate…

    Wenn ich mir vorstelle, ich wäre bei Rigpa voll eingestiegen und hätte ehrenamtlich oder beruflich mein ganzes Herz in diesen Verein gesetzt, der Boden würde mir jetzt unter den Füßen wackeln oder schwinden. Ich habe große Dankbarkeit für diesen Personenkreis, die Rigpa aufgebaut haben und betreiben, weil ich seit 15 Jahren Nutznießer eurer Arbeit bin.

    Das ist auch ein Grund, warum ich seiner Zeit  Mitglied geworden bin, und auch jetzt nicht austreten werde. Meine Dankbarkeit gilt denen, die mir den Zugang zu den Texten ermöglicht haben. Mein Herz hängt an den Texten. Ich hatte eine diffuse Vorstellung davon, was Buddhismus bedeutet. Durch die Texte weiß ich, dass ich die Welt in meinem Kopf verändern kann. Ich bin sozusagen für mich zuständig geworden.

    Es gab in meiner Wahrnehmung von Sogyal (Lakar sowohl als auch Rinpoche) Unstimmigkeiten, die mich auf Distanz gehalten haben. Unstimmigkeiten haben mich auch der Sangha gegenüber auf Distanz gehalten.  Das könnte sich durch die gegenwärtige Situation ändern.

    Bei meiner ersten Teilnahme an einem Retreat in der Raketenstation Hombroich gab es eine Einführung in die wahre Natur des Geistes, bevor ich noch meinen Lehrer prüfen konnte, hat er mich zu seinem Schüler gemacht. Das ist in meinen Augen nicht rückgängig zu machen.

    Ich habe mich sehr aufgewertet gefühlt, weil er mich in dieser Menge hunderter Menschen gesehen hat. Er hat eine kleine Gruppe aus der Münchener Sangha zu mir geschickt, und sie haben mich des Diebstahls bezichtigt. An den Sturm in meinem Kopf erinnere ich mich bis heute. Thema dieses meines ersten Retreats war der Text „Glück und Leid in Erleuchtung verwandeln“. Diesen Text lese ich immer wieder bis zu der Zeile,“ firstly, get rid of the attitude of only wanting yourself not to suffer“ , seit 15 Jahren mühe ich mich den Sinn dieser Zeile in mein Leben zu kriegen . Was ich sagen möchte ist, er prüft seine Schüler, das ist sein Unterricht, sein Stil. Was zurzeit geschieht, ist die Prüfung der kompletten Sangha.

    Sind wir fähig in einer Zeit, wo Diktatoren an die Macht kommen, „führungslos“ aus uns selbst heraus zu bestehen, im Vertrauen auf die Kraft der Praxis und des Studiums der Texte?

    „Ein spiritueller Krieger zu sein bedeutet, eine besondere Art von Mut zu entwickeln, eine Courage, die intelligent, sanft und furchtlos zugleich ist. Spirituelle Krieger kennen die Furcht sehr wohl, sind aber mutig genug, dem leiden nicht auszuweichen , mit ihren grundlegenden Ängsten umzugehen und ohne zu zögern aus Schwierigkeiten zu lernen“  Textauszug auf der Rückseite von der Abb. Gesar auf einem roten Pferd vor schwarzblauem Grund

    Der spirituelle Lehrer ist das eine, das Ehrenwerte, der Popstar mit den Groupies, den Allüren und Verfehlungen das andere, es schmerzt schon beim Lesen der Berichte. Es ist Samsara in der volle Pulle Version. Was lehrt uns das?

    Ich schreibe, weil ich hoffe, dass diese Gedanken beim Aufräumen helfen, Susanne Troesser   

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  2. I’ll never really know whether Sogyal Rinpoche’s and, by extension, the Rigpa Sangha’s Crazy Wisdom antics were abuse or enlightened action.

    I am, however, deeply grateful that I was able to find the appropriate distance from SR and his community. The end result is that I feel much more deeply blessed than burned by SR.

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  3. I agree with your thoughts in this piece. I am probably having an easier time than some, because I always saw his behaviour as impure. Whilst I have no doubt in the authenticity of the teachings that I received, I have never been able to reconcile the love and compassion in the teachings with the behaviour(s) of the man who delivered them.
    I saw through the constant power games that he played (making us wait for hours for him, taking personal calls in the middle of teachings, reprimanding and insulting close students publicly, constant dialogue/pressure around devotion etc). Whilst he often threatened to leave and go off into personal retreat, I never felt that he would enter into a formal retreat (certainly not one like MR). On retreat this year I recall thinking that I would love for him to go off and do a personal retreat as his behaviour seemed to be far from dharmic and appeared to be escalating. I hoped that by him taking time out and going on retreat that he (personally) would reconnect with the teachings and adjust his behaviour accordingly. Unfortunately I think that he is far too accustomed to luxury and having his every whim attended to, to engage in a true retreat. I would be very interested to know exactly what kind of ‘retreat’ he is in at the moment, and whether he is still enjoying the lifestyle benefits provided by Rigpa.
    I am grateful to MR for his clear response to the situation and his clarity around what is acceptable behaviour for a teacher. I am hopeful that with time, more R students will see the situation with clarity and rediscover their own inner wisdom of discernment.

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  4. For me the question is not, whether SR is an aswhole or an enlightend master. Because in both cases it’s an assumption and a judgement. I cannot know, what is in his mind ultimatly.
    And frankly speaking I don’t care about this either.
    It’s about non-judgement, not judging another person, but also not judging myself (as being unenlightend or confused or deluded or whatever).
    We are all very much capable to make decisions for ourselves and we can trust our own perception and take responsibility for ourselves. (That does not mean, we don’t learn from others. And where we are wrong we can correct it as soon as we become fully aware of it.)

    So the lesson for me in this case is to never again give my power away to anyone else to make decisions for me or even deeper to tell me, who I am, what I have to think or feel or perceive or what not.
    And it’s also about ‘hope and fear’.
    That means giving up the hope of being saved or becoming enlightend or healed by someone else. And with that also the fear of not being good enough may go. I fell into this trap (based on hope and fear) myself many times, thinking that other people or “experts” know better, what is good or right for me, and I hope, that in future I will be aware enough, that this won’t happen to me again.
    That also includes the risk of being wrong sometimes, making decisions that I regret later, and that can be painful. But that’s how true learning works, and I don’t think I can avoid that risk and that pain.
    I believe there is no shortcut to enlightenment. I have to start from where I am now instead of wishing or pretending I were somewhere else.
    I need to be true to myself to find out what I want and what my values are and stick to that, and look in the mirror and check every day, if what I am doing still corresponds to that. It’s simple, but it requires quite an amount of awareness on a moment to moment basis.
    The teachings can help me with that, and then they become a part of who I am.

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    1. “So the lesson for me in this case is to never again give my power away to anyone else to make decisions for me or even deeper to tell me, who I am, what I have to think or feel or perceive or what not.” Yes, indeed. What a beautiful post, Lola. I am inspired by your words.

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      1. Thank you so much for your appreciation, JM. It’s really so comforting, if someone resonates with what you try to express.

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    2. The thing I found out was that only I can live my life.When I’m living it,it feels ordinary and it feels natural and from time to time I feel like me.I notice that I do things in my own way naturally,which is really quite interesting-that I’m doing things in my own way naturally.Nothing big or special,but doing the things to get by which nobody else can do-well live.
      Only I can live my life,experience my life,no matter how mundane or samey it is.It’s my only life experience.No matter how many people are doing it,doing it myself is is not the same.Only I can experience doing these things,experience these things,no matter how often these things are done by others.
      I feel anxious,coerced,not myself,intimidated,insecure,scared,incapable,which involves recovery from my history.
      Living like somebody else thinks I should,or to impress,be liked is to stop living.I can’t live like someone else.When I do I’m no longer living.I can only live as I am which I find very demanding with colossal incomplete knowledge and limited awarenes,but with conviction that I am developing,becoming more of who and what I am. And living too.
      Up to this point,I know when I’m going into false life mode,and am committed to transitonal recovery-no either/ors for me.I embrace transition and kindness.

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  5. What you described in The Emotional Proces and in The Power of Beliefs makes me clear why it is so difficult for long term students to have a healthy judgement about the situation. I left R. when I read the letter but I could not understand why other sanghamembers could not find a way out of the problem or even to confront the problem. They must be very confused. We cannot expect the inner circle and students around them to solve the problem. They are too much involved. They have a very big struggle for themselves.
    At the other hand your lama is not your saviour. As buddhism says: He shows you the way, but you have to walk the path yourself. The dharma is more important than the teacher. If he could save without you having to work yourself, attaining enlightenment would be very easy.

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  6. I too think it’s extremely difficult for those close to S (or even those at some remove but who have been long term practitioners) to even form a question in relation to potential abuse, let alone believe it might have actually happened.

    I’ve been in contact with someone in my sangha who has been involved for a long time, and he didn’t even *consider* abuse as a possibility, and therefore couldn’t even begin to conceptualise some of the potential implications for and about the alleged victims, the organisation, senior students etc.

    As far as I’m concerned, Rigpa is holed below the waterline. With my utmost respect to The Eight, even if one were to give the benefit of any doubt to S (which legally he is entitled to), the response of the organisation and it’s students reveals so much that is profoundly problematic.

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  7. Perhaps I can attempt a translation of Susanne’s post. Forgive my poor German, and by all means, please correct it if I’ve missed the sense of something:

    ————————————————————————
    If I imagine I had fully entered into Rigpa, and had voluntarily or professionally set my whole heart in this community, the floor would still be shifting or shrinking under my feet. I have a lot of gratitude for this circle of people that Rigpa has built and maintained, because I have been the beneficiary of your work for 15 years.

    That is also a reason why I have been a member during this time, and won’t run away now either. My gratitude applies to those, who made it possible for me to access the texts. My heart hangs on the texts. I had a diffuse idea of them, of what Buddhism means. Through the texts I know that I can change the world in my head. I can become responsible, so to speak.

    There was restlessness in my perception of Sogyal (either Lakar or Rinpoche), that held me at a distance. Restlessness also led me to hold the Sangha at a distance. That may change through the present situation.

    During my first participation in a retreat in the Hombroich Missile Station [a disused NATO missile base turned into a museum], there was an introduction to the true nature of spirit, before I could examine my teacher, he had made me his pupil. That is in my eyes not to be undone.

    I felt very refreshed, because he saw me amidst hundreds of people. He had sent a small group from the Munich Sangha to me, and they accused me of theft. I remember the storm in my head to this day. The theme of this, my first retreat, was the text “Changing Good Fortune and Suffering into Enlightenment.” I always read this text again up to the line, “firstly, get rid of the attitude of only wanting yourself not to suffer.“ Since 15 years I’ve hoped to get the sense of this line in my life. What I would like to say is, he examines his students—that is his teaching, his style. What happened on the side is the test of the whole Sangha.

    Are we able, in this time when dictators are coming to power, to “leaderless-ly” stand outside of ourselves, trusting in the power of practice and the study of the texts?

    To be a spiritual warrior means to develop a special kind of courage, a courage that is simultaneously intelligent, gentle, and fearless. Spiritual warriors gladly know fear, but are brave enough not to dodge sufferings, but to deal with their basic fears without hesitating to learn from difficulties. Text verses on the back, like the image of Gesar on a red horse before a black-blue ground. [?]

    The spiritual teacher is the one worthy of honor, the popstar with groupies, the object of the attitudes and failures of others, it hurts already when reading the reports. It is samsara in a full bottle. [?] What does that teach us? I write, because I hope that these thoughts can help with purification. Susanne Troesser

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    1. Perhaps I can attempt a translation of Susanne’s post. Forgive my poor German, and by all means, please correct it if I’ve missed the sense of something. *Only very few words to change, thank you very much! So once more:*

      ———————————————————————— If I imagine I had fully entered into Rigpa, and had voluntarily or professionally set my whole heart in this community, the floor would still be shifting or shrinking under my feet. I have a lot of gratitude for this circle of people that Rigpa has built and maintained, because I have been the beneficiary of your work for 15 years.

      That is also a reason why I have been a member during this time, and won’t run away now either. My gratitude applies to those, who made it possible for me to access the texts. My heart hangs on the texts. I had a diffuse idea of what Buddhism means. Through the texts I know that I can change the world in my head. I can become responsible, so to speak.

      There were discrepancies in my perception of Sogyal (either Lakar or Rinpoche), that held me at a distance. Discrepancies also led me to hold the Sangha at a distance. That may change through the present situation.

      During my first participation in a retreat in the Hombroich Missile Station [a disused NATO missile base turned into a museum], there was an introduction to the true nature of mind, before I could examine my teacher, he had made me his pupil. That is in my eyes not to be undone.

      I felt very enhanced, because he saw me amidst hundreds of people. He had sent a small group from the Munich Sangha to me, and they accused me of theft. I remember the storm in my head to this day. The theme of this, my first retreat, was the text “Changing Good Fortune and Suffering into Enlightenment.” I always read this text again up to the line, “firstly, get rid of the attitude of only wanting yourself not to suffer.“ Since 15 years I try to get the sense of this line in my life. What I would like to say is, he examines his students—that is his teaching, his style. What happened currently is *the test of the whole Sangha*.

      Are we able, in this time when dictators are coming to power, to “leaderless-ly” stand out, self-reliant, trusting in the power of practice and the study of the texts?

      “To be a spiritual warrior means to develop a special kind of courage, a courage that is simultaneously intelligent, gentle, and fearless. Spiritual warriors gladly know fear, but are brave enough not to dodge sufferings, but to deal with their basic fears without hesitating to learn from difficulties.” This text from the backside of a printed image, which shows “Gesar” riding a furious red horse in front of a black-blue ground.

      The spiritual teacher is the nobel one worthy of honor, the popstar with groupies, attitudes and failures the ordinary other one, it hurts already when reading the reports. It is samsara in full speed. What does that teach us? I hope that these thoughts can help with purification. Susanne Troesser

      2017-08-21 16:44 GMT+02:00 What Now? :

      > Zla’od commented: “Perhaps I can attempt a translation of Susanne’s post. > Forgive my poor German, and by all means, please correct it if I’ve missed > the sense of something: —————————— > —————————————— If I imagine I had fully” >

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  8. This is scary, I wonder according to your experience how many points SL checks in the “Tactics and Traits of a Cult Leader” section.

    I wonder if an objective and widely recognized checklist doesn’t exist so that followers can check by themselves whether their organization is a cult.

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  9. for the english readers, concerning france, there is a list of 173 suspect movements ( cults ) established in 1996, propably more today. But even if this list is “officiel”, remains the fact that nothing can’t be done unless the law has been broken, thus one HAS to go to court and prove !

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    1. There is no scholarly agreement as to what counts as a “cult” in the pejorative sense, and probably most researchers into “New Religious Movements” avoid the word as hopelessly opinion-bound. (J. Gordon Melton says a cult is “a religion I don’t like.”) A few countries have drawn up blacklists, but these vary widely, and are often driven by fear of competition on the part of some national church (like Orthodoxy in Greece).

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  10. Thanks too for this link Anjali, it explains a lot. I think most people who are deeply involved in R. will need help and it may take a long time. Suppose you were humiliated by SL and thought it was a blessing and a purification, it is hard to see it the other way round. You thought you were a special selected student and you were proud of that. Now it appears that SL only tried to break your will and he succeeded. You believed you had the pure view which others had not. You felt superior. Then the letter of the 8 students came and it appeared that you agreed with severe abuse. You feel ashamed of yourself and you feel guilty if you have the courage to see that your view was wrong.
    Normally people do not read everything about abuse of know the scriptures well before they enter a an organisation. But we believe in democracy, humanistic values, equality of all people and also equality of men and women. We can judge an organisation or a leader by those standards.
    A feudal society as Tibet was, believed that some people had a very high status and therefore earned a lot of luxury. Most people were more of less their slaves and had to work very hard for a little bit of money. HHDL said that SL brought feudal attitudes to R.
    Why do we throw Western standards away for feudal standards? It that romantic and exotic Shangri-La belief? We do not have to do everything leaders ask for. We are dependent of them for the dharma but they are dependent of us for the money. In buddhism it is said that becoming angry is very negative. But you should not suppress your anger when somebody humiliates you or gives you a too heavy workload.
    We should get an ethical code for every sangha and should be able to control finances. I think it is better to give a lama a regular salary. Donations make corruption very easy. Lamas should not sit on a throne anymore. It should not be a honour anymore to sit near the lama during a teaching. We should change feudal organisations into democratic organisations. Mostly the lama wants to have the power and choose the director or the board. I was in an organisation where the lama chose another director every year and the organisation became a mess. He had no idea which qualities were needed. Some students said it was all good but we did not understand the hidden motivation of the lama.

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  11. A close friend of mine always warned people in Rigpa and outside Rigpa about Doormat Dharma and Infantilization, which is built into the hierarchy of the Vajrayana approach.

    Dzogchen is another matter…but few people seem to really “get it” in their bones?

    It took people 25 years to figure things out…it’s all very bizarre?

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  12. If the Sangha members can take control of the finance, they will have solved the biggest share of the problems.

    – I heard that Rigpa was run like a business, sounds terrible.
    – You would get rid automatically of teachers coming for the money and will get the authentic teachers (who consider only the best interests of their students)
    – With the full transparency, you will know exactly what is going on in the organization (no more luxury and “parasites”)
    – Rigpa being of a very large size, you could get several bright gurus. Maybe it is better to get a few (3-4) to keep a balance in the system.

    As soon as there are some money games, it is difficult (even impossible) to have proper ethics in an organization. An independent audit firm should manage the internal controls.

    It is not impossible to take the power if you are majority. You can tell: if we don’t have a proper management of the finances for this date, we are not putting even one more cent in this blackbox and we leave all the centers!

    Why not put an ultimatum to the current board?

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  13. That is exactly what I did after the letter of the 8 students. I left and told not to come back before these things in the letter were properly arranged. But I do not know how many people use the power they have with money and with leaving.
    The protestant churches in the Netherlands are good organised. They are all democratically run. One is with about 5 to 10 people in a committee for around four years and then there is a new election. There are several committees. They are responsible to the church members. A professional clergyman is also there for about 5 to 10 years. Then a committee of church members looks for another candidate. So there is control by quite a lot of people.
    We have in many countries an umbrella organisation for buddhist organisations. Maybe they can arrange these things. Think about a kind of hallmark for an organisation who meets the standard. There should also be an ethical conduct and a professional person who deals with abuse.

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  14. I was not in Rigpa because of the problem of ethics. If the organization becomes transparent, I would very much like to make some retreats there. I tried to come for some teachings, I was told they were not opened to the public. Everyone “qualified” should be able to see the great masters. Let’s open those gates. LL seems great!

    I know many people who took their distance from Rigpa mainly because of the atmosphere which was “weird”. It is a question of trust = transparency + ethical leadership.

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  15. If readers of the comments may permit me to go off on a slight tangent here. I think the traditional advice on discerning a good teacher from a bad one, appended to Matthieu Ricard’s full statement on this crisis, is still very current despite it being written in the 1700s by Jigme Lingpa . I find some of the old texts more to the point and more upfront than some of the modern teachings we get. Although I must also say that there were many problems with old Tibet, including a feudal/authoritarian/theocratic society and misogyny in the monastic system just to name a few!

    I would like to quote the advice below for people who might not have read Matthieu’s full statement.

    “Extracts from a traditional description of the qualities of an authentic master and the defects of a false teacher, taken from the Treasury of Precious Qualities* by Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (1729-1798), with the commentary of Kangyur Rinpoche (1898-1975), Shambhala Publications.

    “Genuine spiritual masters embody the wisdom and compassion of all the Buddhas. They are the roots of all spiritual accomplishments. They act exclusively for the good of everyone. They are like a beneficial rain that extinguishes the fires of karma and negative emotion. Like the sun and moon, they dissipate the darkness of ignorance and like the earth itself, they are the support of all without exception. Like loving parents, they cherish all beings impartially. Their compassion is like a river, immense and swift, aiming to free all beings from suffering and its causes. Spiritual masters are like Mount Meru, they are firm and unswayed by jealousy. They delight in the perfection of beings. Like a cloud of rain, they impartially extinguish the fires of negative emotion with an equanimity untroubled by hatred or attachment.”

    “In this present age of decadence, it is extremely difficult to come upon such masters. Nevertheless, it is essential to rely on spiritual friends whose minds are like excellent earth, well tilled in the knowledge of the precepts, moistened with the knowledge of the sacred texts and their commentaries, and saturated with great compassion and a loving concern for all that lives. True spiritual masters have few activities. They are exclusively preoccupied with the Dharma, fully committed to it in thought, word, and deed. They have a great weariness of samsara and have a powerful determination to depart from it. Their presence has a transforming effect on the perceptions of all who meet them, so that the latter are inspired to seek for liberation. By following such a master, it is possible to gain accomplishment swiftly in this very life.”

    “As for inauthentic masters, there are some who practice Dharma dishonestly and out of pride, merely in order to preserve a line of incarnate lamas or a family lineage, no different from what a Brahmin priest might do. They practice merely out of concern for the reputation of their monastery, fearing that their ecclesiastical residence or tradition may otherwise decline. Their loud and empty boasting of their qualities contributes nothing to the mind’s discipline, just as a wooden millstones are noisy but incapable of grinding barley and producing flour. Such teachers bring their disciples to ruin.”

    “Again, there are some so-called masters who, though their minds are filled with defilements, no different from ordinary beings, have, as the karmic residue of some trivial generosity in the past, obtained the position of a teacher in this life. They put on airs and persuade themselves that they are somebody after all, preening themselves and becoming puffed up with pride just because they receive offerings, honors, and service from their devotees who go bowing and scraping in front of them—fools who know nothing about the true characteristics of a genuine spiritual master! Such teachers are like frogs in the bottom of a well, who think that their well is as vast as the ocean.”

    “Then there are other imposters—those who have a smattering of the teachings. They have taken the vows and embraced the tantric commitments. But they are ignorant of the precepts, and their discipline is utterly distorted. They have no idea of the three trainings, and their minds, awash with defects, are base and degenerate. They pretend to teach and give instructions, but it is sheer guesswork, and they behave as though they were soaring in the skies of realization. Moreover, they do not actually care for their disciples, and the drawstrings of love and compassion have broken. Attendance on such “insane guides” inevitably leads to the precipice of negativity, to the abyss of the lower realms, and to ever-increasing evil.”

    “The teacher’s knowledge should be greater than that of the disciples. If this is not the case, and if people who are supposed to be teachers are lacking in bodhichitta, it is a great mistake to follow them, attracted perhaps by their fame and personal charisma. It is evident that the blind cannot be led by those who are themselves “blind guides”. Associating with such people and in such a way deprives disciples of any chance of understanding what behavior is to be adopted and what is to be rejected. The followers of such teachers will consequently wander in the darkness of the lower realms.”

    “Aspirants may well be devoted and sincerely interest in practicing the Dharma, but if they fail to check whether their teacher is truly qualified and commit themselves regardless, they will be throwing away their present qualities as well as those to come. Their very human existence, endowed with eight freedoms, which they have only just obtained after waiting to long, will be rendered meaningless. Their situation is someone going toward a dark mass of poisonous snakes thinking that it is the cool shadow of a tree.”

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  16. It seems there are several routes into the Rigpa inner circle, none of which is particularly spiritual. One is to be prepared to work hard for little or no pay. A second is to be young and beautiful and to be prepared to offer yourself for sex. A third is to be famous and to be prepared to associate your name with Rigpa. A fourth is to be rich and prepared to offer massive donations. Just how much it costs can be seen from this public Facebook posting by a Rigpa donor. The benefits he obtained were substantial and his experience was very different from most Rigpa students. You can see the whole post by clicking on the url at the end, but this extract will give you the flavour.
    “Yes I was one of the principal funders of Rigpa in the early days and don’t regret it for one second. I financed part of the launch of Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. (Read by more than three million people! Can’t be bad!) Financed the building of the three month retreat centre at Dzogchen Beara (used by hundreds; even a few sponsored by me. Can’t be bad!) and kick started Rigpa France (Lerab Ling) with $1,000,000. Sogyal Rinpoche introduced me personally and directly to HH Dalai Lama, HH Gyalwang Drukpa, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche, Sakya Trizin, Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, OT Rinpoche and many, many others. Over twenty five years I have received teachings and empowerments from all of them. In addition Sogyal Rinpoche is one of the greatest exponents of Dzogchen in the English language and has fully immersed me in the nature of my mind.”

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    1. It seems the blog makes a preview from the url, so if you click on the picture you can go to the original Facebook posting.

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    2. Hi Marion,

      Maybe SR wanted to thank this great benefactor of the dharma!? If someone brought great benefit to a vision you had or to your work, wouldn’t you like to say thanks in the best way you could? I think you would. I know I would!

      I don’t fit into any those categories you’ve mentioned above, yet SR has held me close with such love and has helped me overcome deep childhood trauma. He listened to all my stories and he finished them for me over the course of about 5 years! For that, I owe SR everything and why wouldn’t I not?

      Did he do that for Robin? Probably not. Did I ever lift a finger for SR or R activity before or during those 5 years? No, I didn’t do a thing in terms of work, money, I’m not famous and I’m a male.

      And I know many other ‘nobodies’ who this has happened to as well.

      I think it’s important to at least have a balanced view.

      Best wishes

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      1. Hi Buddy,

        I am truly happy you had such a good experience and I know many other people also had good experiences.

        I was talking in my post about being in the ‘inner circle,’ which has not happened to many of what you call ‘nobodies.’ There is an undisputed inner circle, which by definition cannot be the majority of students.

        Marion

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        1. I just don’t see how Robin is part of SR’s ‘inner circle’, if SR introduced him to some masters! SR has too given me the opportunity to meet all the masters who have come to Rigpa and receive so many amazing teachings from them.
          And not only that, SR has had me attend many great masters. The last time he came to our centre, he asked for me to stay close to his quarters and be around.
          I’m not part of SR’s ‘inner circle’, and look at how much he has given me, and there’s more!

          My point is Robin did so much for the dharma. I think we can all agree on that, and maybe rejoice! And I didn’t do much and SR rained so many blessings down upon my in many ways….like many others too as you said. I feel that I got more than Robin even though I really didn’t do that much.

          So why does Robin get categorised into the so-called ‘inner circle’, when all he said was that he was introduced to a few masters? Why not me who got the same and lots more when I did nothing? Should I not be boxed into the same category?

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          1. Hi Buddy,

            I am happy to include you in the ‘inner circle.’ I would include everyone who along with Robin (as Robin says) Sogyal Rinpoche introduced “personally and directly to HH Dalai Lama, HH Gyalwang Drukpa, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche, Sakya Trizin, Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, OT Rinpoche and many, many others.”

            I accept that you also had this experience and I rejoice in that, but from my observations this was not something a lot of people experienced. My observation was that most students do not get to speak much to Sogyal Rinpoche, let alone have the kinds of interactions Robin describes. For example, there were often 1,000 at Lerab Ling. How many could be ‘personally and directly’ introduced by Sogyal Rinpoche to visiting teachers. You are truly fortunate that you were one of them.

            Marion

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            1. I’m not sure if I’m part of the ‘inner circle’, but just wanted to show the 4 ways you say is the way into it, didn’t count in my case! I just find there is a lot of judging and putting people into boxes on these sites.
              A person I know who has been around for years, but never really took SR as his teacher, said he went through the sites and the main thing that pops out for him is “there’s a huge agenda”. This comes from someone who was never really fussed on SR.

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                1. if by agenda he means speaking out, telling the truth and having a honest discussion on these issues, well then let it be an agenda…this narrative of the “huge agenda” sounds conspiracy like and maybe indicates that he didn’t read much before reaching that conclusion ?

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                  1. No, he’s been around for 15 years and knows as much as anybody does in terms of the allegations. He just said he read the letter and has since been watching the internet and what stands out is that there’s a huge agenda going along with what is happening. And I agree with him.

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                    1. And again I ask you, what do you mean by the phrase “a huge agenda”?

                      In that last post you simply repeated the phrase without saying what you hold it to mean.

                      To me, the phrase appears to imply that people are attacking S for no good reason. Is that what you mean?

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                    2. You agree on what ? can you define there is a huge agenda ?
                      i may be biased, I have a direct interest to expose such abuses and specially the OKCinfo case (which honestly is even worst because it was done on childrens by a so called vajrayana master recognized by the Nyigma-pa lineage) BUT what is the “huge agenda going along” ?

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              1. That is a strange reply, Buddy.

                I keep telling you I am happy that SR personally introduced you to all those teachers. I just didn’t see him doing that for many people. I know some who have never got to speak to SR at all, just bopped on the head for a second once or twice a year for 20 years.

                This “huge agenda” you are talking about. I don’t know what it means. It sounds as if you might mean that there isn’t a real issue with what SR has done, but that some people have made it into one. Is that what you are trying to say? If it is, I think you should look again, going right back to 1994. This was in one of the UK’s leading newspapers that year. https://info-buddhism.com/PDF/sogyal-rinpoche_mick-brown-1995-telegraph.pdf

                This stuff has come up regularly for over 20 years. Did someone with an ‘agenda’ just make it all up? I really don’t think so.

                Just because SR gave you a lot of attention and you appreciate that, it doesn’t mean that he did that for everyone. Most people didn’t get any attention at all. Then a few, I believe based on all the accounts I have seen, were harmed by the attention they got. I think that’s a simple fact.

                Marion

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                1. Hi Marion,
                  My point was showing that one doesn’t have to be one of the 4 categories that you’ve stated to be close to SR or part of his “inner circle”. I’ve stated that and don’t or didn’t want you to say your glad I got that. I do appreciate what you said, but I wasn’t looking for that. Just proving a point.

                  Re agenda. It wasn’t me who said this, as I said. But, I will ask him his opinion and get back to you.

                  Joseph, I’m not saying it that way.

                  Re Kungyal, I’m not getting into conversation with random people like you, who are campaigners in general and like to expose. So good day to you

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                    1. Not anymore. let’s say I’m the whistleblower in charge, most remain members of OKC hate me or don’t talk to me, that’s the price for leading an initiative to dismantle a sectarian organisation and if I had to to do it a second time I would probably do it otherwise, even better if inspired by this blog and others but at the time, alone and with only weapon communication tools, I don’t regret an ounce of it.

                      wishing you the best too!

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                  1. Dear Buddy,

                    I accept that you didn’t have to work hard for little or no pay, that you didn’t have to be young and beautiful and to be prepared to offer yourself for sex, that you are not famous and prepared to associate your name with Rigpa, and that you area not rich and prepared to offer massive donations. Sogyal Rinpoche. I accept that it was not for one of these four reasons that Sogyal Rinpoche took such a close interest in you and introduced you personally and directly to all the visiting teachers at Rigpa.

                    I have no idea why Sogyal Rinpoche took such a close interest in you. All I can say is that the vast majority do not get such attention and that a lot of those who do get such attention get it for the reasons I suggested. It is obvious that the majority cannot get so much attention. How would that work when there are so many students? Around 6,000 are signed up for the various Rigpa mandalas and there are many others who are not signed up. Even 10% of the signed up membership couldn’t be receiving this kind of attention. You are in a fortunate minority, Buddy. One because you got such attention and two because you experienced benefit, rather than harm from the attention.

                    Marion

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                  2. I don’t LIKE to expose, I HAVE to expose, it’s very different,
                    but I guess what you mean is : you don’t have any argument.
                    you whole “hidden agenda” point is bullshit until you bring some material on the table, until that happens, good day to you sir !

                    ps: I would like to see you in the shoes of a sexual abuses victims, or harsh physical abuse survivor and still find a hidden agenda here. But I guess that’s not part of you agenda.

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    3. Hello Marion –

      Brilliant posting. Quick question: do you think Rigpa can exist without Sogyal Rinpoche at the helm. It seems impossible to me. Thanks much!

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      1. Yes Yes Yes. Rigpa without SoRi, but with you and me and with everybody hurt, connected, because this I isn’t substancial

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      2. He can give teachings and directions online (via Skype), even interactive. He has already done this in a retreat 2011 in Berlin. And older students give the presentations. (My speculation, just for the fun of it.)

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  17. So SL treats students with money much better than students who offer work or sex. Only when one can donate a lot of money, one can meet a lot of important lamas and receive many initiations. Of course he was never scolded or beaten. He was always treated friendly. This is all about money and not about compassion. How did SL really think about ordinary students like me? I know from another Tibetan buddhist organisation that they thought that people who donated much should sit in the front opposite the lama during the teachings. I remember that during a retreat in Amsterdam students who gave a lot of money for the new centre, were publicly praised and got a buddha-statue. Quite painful for poor students who could not afford this, but also offered money. In this matter Jesus was much better who helped the weak and the poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I worked for Sogyal Rinpoche once…helping to unpack one of his lavish temporary set ups in New York City

      He shared some insider transmissions about Dilgo Khyentse R. and he gave us each some Holy Water.

      Very cool.

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  18. I think those wealthy students do not leave SL and will financially support him. That makes it easier for him to leave R. and maybe start something new in Thailand.
    I also think it is an illusion that many long term students will leave. It is more comfortable to deny everything as they did before than accept that some things are really wrong. If one has the courage to accept the letter of the eight as true, it will cost somebody years to recover of the emotional bond and it is very hard work too. Staying together and go on as usually with a smaller group is much easier.
    So the only thing I can do, is skip SL and R. and search for another teacher. I now follow the on-line teachings for Mingyur rinpoche

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  19. Message from O.K.C :

    At some point NOT taking a position is equal to being complice to criminals so in the aftermath of the #rigpa brave 8 students that found the courage to speak, we at #OKCinfo have some advice :

    – Do not make the same mistake we did by not speaking earlier and by not going to the Police/Justice with a formal complaints.

    – Do not equate going to the Police/Justice to “harming the Dharma”, this is a false argument used by so called Buddhist & Sangha all across the globe to keep hiding the unspeakable acts from their Guru’s, with the excuse to protect Buddhism reputation, Buddhism reputation is suffering BECAUSE of these so called guru’s behaviours todwards their students, not the other way around. Samaya is NOT broken by making a formal complaints to force a serial abuser to face his own action, quite on the contrary ! Samaya IS BROKEN by the guru’s by breaking the trust, the relation, the confidence of students by abusing them, let’s not use Buddhist logics AGAINST victims of sexual abuse.

    – Buddhism does NOT replace the Laws of Men and the Judiciary. Sometimes Karma need a little bit of Help to play his role and staying in silence over grave abuse of power, sex, money etc..

    – “Buddhism does not have a hierarchy” stated by countless Buddhist observers, practicioners or even Dalai-Lama translator Matthieu Ricard is a false argument : of course Buddhism have a hierarchy, just ask anyone in any Sangha all over the world how complicated it is to place different Teachers,Lama, Guru’s in the same Temple : who should be higher ? who should sit next to whom ? who will speak ? who will be teaching ?

    All these questions and all this diplomacy is a living proof there is a hierarchy, there is a lineage, there is an order, there is different schools with different leaders, all together they form the different schools of thought inside the big Buddhist familly. Of course the hierarchy in Buddhism is different in each country but in the West, there is different schools dominating in different countries and each of them have their own structure and autonomy, but that is not per se an argument to affirm there is no hierarchy in Buddhism.

    There is a hierarchy of Importance, of Lineage, of experience, and IF this is not enough to take a position in the case of RIGPA or OKC, then perhaps Buddhism need some serious mutation to abide to some basic Human Laws such as : Integrity, Transparency, Ethics since it seems Buddhism is not enough to provide for such basic protection for students that should not be alone facing the responsibility of meeting with a predator guru under the disguise of the Perfect Teacher.

    http://www.okcinfo.news/tag/OKCinfo

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  20. Hi Matt,

    I am not sure Rigpa will survive this. After seeing the different organisational responses, I am beginning to think it might be best if it folds and someone else completely takes over. I don’t think this committee of ‘trusted senior students’ and Lamas is going to do it. I don’t trust the senior students at all. This could not have gone on for so many years without a lot of them knowing all about it. ‘Crazy wisdom’ behavior that causes trauma and results in people leaving is just crazy, not wise.

    Marion

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    1. Marion- This makes sense. They can sell off the properties and Rigpa students can scatter to the teachings and teachers that they need in order to grow (and dissolve), as it were.

      The seriously damaged “victims” will hopefully get the required outside therapeutic help that they need.

      “Crazy” Wisdom will have to go deeply underground in the West for now. Tibetan Buddhism has taken another huge hit, which is OK, as an evolving Western Buddhism will continue to take its place.

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    1. thanks a lot to share this link Stefan, right now if any money is donated it will be used to make our case visible on the internet and prepare for the appeal from OKC-Spatz against us & the court decision of 4 years suspended sentence. we don’t know when this appeal will take place but any money collected will be used to amplify our case.

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    1. To put this into context, these “official documents” were asked by OKC to the Tibetan Khashag after or just before the police raid in 1997 to attest that Spatz was a legit person and that OKC itself was a legit buddhist center. this document has probably more importance for Buddhist than any legal importance for the system, but still it is one of the key pieces of the OKC defense strategy.

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  21. Rigpa Sangha should be careful no to fall into a status quo similar than OKC:

    – In the summer of 2017 we have proof that OKC Brussels give direct orders to keep the picture of Robert Spatz in the Buddhist Temple, meanwhile OKC claims that Robert Spatz alias Lama Kunzang has nothing to do with OKC anymore, we know for sure, his retirement is only a display to fit a narrative to manipulate the Belgian Justice but also the Nyigma-Pa Tibetan Lineage from which he claim to belong.
    – OKC keeps inviting Tibetan Buddhist speakers and continue to pose as a legitimate Buddhist center even if the organisation is not part of any Buddhist Union around Europe.

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