What Did the Dalai Lama Say?

HHDL Remarks on Sogyal Rinpoche

Could the feudal system be influencing what happens in your Buddhist community?  This is one of the questions Bernie Schreck asks in his new article, What Did the Dalai Lama Really Say?  That might sound outrageous at first, but stay with me to take a deeper look at this and all the other parts of the Dalai Lama’s advice for Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche.

In his September 1 address in Ladakh, His Holiness said that some lama institutions {including Dharma organizations in the West] may still be under the influence of the outdated feudal system and this must end.

In his article, Schreck outlines the feudal system in the following way, encouraging us to consider if any of these features occur in our own Buddhist organizations:

“What are some of the main features of a feudalistic system?

  • Physical beating was a common form of punishment in monasteries, the primary place of education in Tibet.
  • In feudal systems, men treat women as objects of pleasure and expect sex on demand.
  • In most forms of feudalism, rulers had complete authority.
  • People in high positions had numerous servants and felt entitled to have every whim indulged.”

Schreck continues to walk us through the remainder of the Dalai Lama’s statement piece-by-piece, looking at ethics in the student-teacher relationship, the Dalai Lama’s connection to the Dzogchen teachings, and  Sogyal Rinpoche’s personal reverence for the Dalai Lama.   He also considers how the seemingly disparate advices from the Dalai Lama, Mingyur Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche can be reconciled.

Schreck says,

“It can feel tempting to quickly read each piece [of advice] and move on to the next without taking time to study the main advices and let them fully sink in. When I go too quickly, I’m left with a confusing canvas of different points of view that seem incompatible at first glance.”

If you’ve been caught in the same trap, take some time now to examine and reflect on the Dalai Lamas remarks.  Read the full piece, What Did the Dalai Lama Really Say here.


Be sure to check out the What Now? resources page and the sangha care resources page.

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.

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34 thoughts on “What Did the Dalai Lama Say?

  1. Has anyone else noticed that most of what is now being written about SR is starting to read like a series of long-winded excuses?…..whether it’s coming from lamas or students, whether it’s about crazy wisdom, samaya, the feudal system or any of the other painfully obvious attempts at sophistry.

    There’s something quite sad about witnessing people who consider themselves to be spiritual and thus moral, desperately trying to use convoluted obscurantist argument to try to somehow minimize the seriousness of decades of rape, abuse, bullying, violence, exploitation and deception…..just to take the edge off their own embarrassment or suffering.

    Where’s the compassion for the victims? Where’s the sense of moral responsibility to speak out clearly to try and prevent it happening again? Where’s the real honesty in all this?

    Most lamas have known about SR for a very long time, but kept silent because they either thought it might be bad for business, were compromised by endorsing him and taking money from him, or were just indifferent. For them it’s mildly embarrassing, but there’s no personal suffering involved at all.

    But for his students it is suffering: many years ago, when the first scandal broke, many of us were deeply disgusted and just left, it was painful but we didn’t feel there was any choice, given the grotesque disparity between what he was supposed to be and the suffering he was causing. It wiped out trust very quickly and for some of us the weak ambivalent attitude of other lamas also destroyed trust in them and so the Tibetan tradition itself began to appear as inherently corrupt.

    The DL belatedly ‘discovering’ that Feudalism in Tibetan Buddhism might be the problem is hypocrisy when it comes so long after the fact and the opportunity to speak out years ago was deliberately ignored out of self-interest. How much abuse could he have prevented if he had found the courage and integrity to denounce SR then……rather than now when he has no longer has any choice?

    Why didn’t previous DLs or other high lamas abandon feudalism, and would the present DL have done so if he hadn’t been forced to…..and has he really fully abandoned the mindset that goes with it even now…..or is this just another convenient posture?

    Does it even occur to apologists to ask: if Tibet really was so full of enlightened and highly realized beings and profound dharma, then why exactly did it stay such a savage and backward society until circumstances forced change ?

    And if SR has really understood and realized the nature of mind to an extent that he is able to magically transmit it, then exactly what possible use is that understanding, if it doesn’t prevent such savage and backward behavior?

    There’s a kind of intellectual corruption common to some people in religious groups…..a perversely stubborn belief in the infallible truth of their religion, the self-inflated significance of artificially induced, transient changes in their brain chemistry and the moral innocence that they naively think results from these subjective experiences and blind faith alone.

    Because after all, Buddhism is just another religion, a human fabrication from a very ignorant and superstitious society with a rigid and cruel caste system, two and a half millennia ago. It’s now advertised as a supposed ‘science of the mind’ but manifestly it’s no such thing: in that two and a half thousand years, not one mention of the brain

    And in all that time, Buddhist teachings, for all their supposed truth and compassion have still apparently done little to truly eradicate superstition, credulity, an acceptance of religious feudalism and inequality in the mindset of all those who follow them whether teachers or students.

    No matter what happens, there’s always a complicated excuse to be found somewhere in the texts for anything uncomfortable or threatening. This is what keeps justifying the abuse, and it is this continued complicity that has enabled it. This sadly is what has come to characterize SR as a person and R as an organisation.

    SR has run away but some of his students will hang on at all cost, but it’s a very heavy cost indeed and one that they have to keep on paying constantly to keep doubt and clarity at bay.

    How can there be any peace of mind on that path?

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    1. The present Dalai Lama (who is very different from his predecessors, reincarnation or no reincarnation) is a product of Gelugpa monastic politics, and is still limited by it to some extent, although he’s done his best to reach beyond it. It’s hard to imagine what he would be like if old Tibet hadn’t fallen to the Chinese, but if he survived to adulthood (many DL’s didn’t), it’s easy to imagine the theocratic system controlling him rather than vice versa. He lacks the commanding personality of the 13th, for example.

      Yes, the DL should have spoken out in the 1990s, when the scandals surrounding Sogyal first came to public attention. But the DL is a politician–a diplomat, if you will–whose priority is maintaining unity among exile Tibetans. At the time, there was a real sense that some sort of agreement with China might be possible. He wasn’t about to jeopardize that by sticking his neck out to intervene in a scandal that didn’t involve him. Consider that the Shugden controversy (which very much did involve him) came out around the same time, and was a big embarrassment.

      It wouldn’t have been possible for a DL to have just…abandoned feudalism, at least not without a revolution and/or invasion from outside (which is in fact what happened), and that didn’t really solve their problems. The best-case scenario would have been for Tibetan society to peacefully modernize, just as other societies have (Japan, for instance, though Mongolia offers a more likely parallel).

      Although Tibetan Buddhism has been struggling, it has actually evolved a lot, both in exile and within the PRC. Not all the evolution has been good (hello, capitalism!), but such is life. Its adherents are no more (or less) “enlightened” or “superstitious” than those of any other religion, IMHO, but there is much within the tradition that is worthwhile. Of course it is a human fabrication–but then, so are shoes. A lot of the rhetoric (such as Buddhism being “scientific,” or a path to “peace”) should be taken with a grain of salt, but that’s true of just about everything.

      To my mind, the biggest scandal in Tibetan Buddhism is the sexual abuse of children in the monasteries and other institutions. It is hard to know how widespread it is, but there is reason to believe it is very widespread indeed. (Cf. the similar problems in the Catholic and Anglican Churches, to name just two.) It’s harder to do much about this in the case of a decentralized religion spread among various countries, some of them third-world.

      Another major scandal has been the situation in Bhutan, where Buddhist leaders (hello, Mr. Norbu!) mostly went along with the fourth king’s program of ethnic cleansing of non-Buddhists. Today we have the Rohingya issue (although the Buddhists in this case are Theravadin), which has attracted some attention from Western Buddhists as well as the DL. Unfortunately, many of the petition signers seem mainly interested in calling attention to their own liberal bona fides–“virtue signalling,” as the kids say.

      If Western Buddhists want a different kind of Buddhism, they could make it happen. They could organize democratically run centers, hire or train their own teachers, etc. So if they continue to languish under feudal institutions, this is not entirely the fault of the Tibetans. There’s nothing in the Sogyal case that hasn’t happened among the Baptists, for instance.

      So here we are, surrounded by choices–choices of who to affiliate with, or identify with, and who to believe. Over time, these choices define us. No outsider can tell you whether to be a Tibetan Buddhist, for example (and if so what kind), any more than they can tell you who to marry. It’s a difficult decision, and you may never really know if it was “right.” Such is life!

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      1. This ‘choice-choice’ is actually a massive thought control ‘double-binding’ that has been going on in ALL these Tibetan Tantric Lamaist sanghas for decades. It is how these lamas got us to give up our own sanity and reason about this abusive behavior that most of these high lamas engage in. That is why there is always two choices that negate each other essentially. Double binds, one of the most effective forms of paralyzing all these women and men who have taken vajrayana vows to obey their lamas in all things.

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    2. I couldn’t agree more.
      Everything you’ve written here hits the nail straight on the head, and mirrors my own thinking.

      Thank you for such a clear and direct post!

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    3. This is what we are dealing with:

      Here is the another sexual abuse enabling nun, one of the links on the new “healing ” for Rigpa students “What now” blog .It sums up the view and continuous brainwashing inside these sanghas of how this thought control inside these TB cults has worked for the last 40 years that has allowed this institutionalized sexual abuse to continue.

      Imagine this silly woman, without her nun’s habit,. How ridiculous she would sound.

      These women are what is keeping this abuse continuing inside these sanghas, spewing this confusion of Tantra and deity talk and seeing Sogyal’s abuses with “pure perception” They believe, once again that they can handle this internally with the usual,brainwashing. Instead of Sogyal being in jail. They will be all over Western sanghas as damage control as though they are wise dakinis to get these lamas off the hook: These enabling nuns are the most dangerous to women’s rights in the western world now. They are as dangerous as the lamas.

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    4. https://m.facebook.com/dangersofTantra/

      This is a massive damage control operation by the Lamaist hierarchy with the usual players, the perpetrators, the lamas, the enablers: the former sexual consorts and Tantric nuns, and the thought controlled deniers who are, again being massively brainwashed inside these sanghas with the usual ” pure perception” “don’t judge” “just let it all fall apart”, In other words, don’t use your own western reason, ethics and sense of right and wrong but instead rely on the Medieval view of a master slave paradigm of guru worshiping Tantra, that has allowed this sexual abuse to continue. This is massive thought control that is going on, once again to keep lamas like Sogyal out of jail for what he has done.

      It is time to regain our own,Western Enlightenment and the reason that it depends on that gave us our freedom from religious tyrants like these. And stop letting the Dalai Lama off the hook. Notice he has never called out his favorite Lama, and benefactor Sogyal, yet by name?

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  2. I dont want to apologize anything,but say that from my point of view the DL has started to “renew” tibetan politics, society and Dharma some decades ago, but probably only step by little step, as much as the tibetans and westerns folks could stand. I call it reforming. I have heard by a very long time student that DL would be much more direct and quick in his approach to change that “system” when it would be feasible.

    Happy wishfullfilling dreams of Tibet are over now, for many. Those making a religion and whatever else of Buddhas teaching have one more time shown a deep misunderstanding of besaid teachings. Sorry for all of us.

    But its not the end of the world, Dharma will survive since its indestructible. If its blossoming might not be so secure.

    But its really interesting: Its always written “alleged”, even by people who say somewhere else its only “crazy wisdom”. So please stick to one or other.

    Allegedly yours.

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  3. Also, Alex, have you noticed? Months after the publication of the letter by the eight, HH Dalai Lama is still the ONLY lama to speak out against SR by name. Not only that, there’s a highly respected, famous lama directly contradicting the Dalai Lama’s advice and telling his followers that if you have samaya with SR then even if he beats and rapes naive, young women in front of you, you must see him as perfect and say nothing– that if you speak out, you will go to hell.

    So I don’t think you’re correct when you say that the Dalai Lama could have stopped it years ago. His authority has limitations, particularly in lineages other than Gelug. And even amongst Gelug lamas, he was criticized when he made the following extraordinary statement OVER THIRTY-FIVE YEARS ago:

    “What the Chinese did to us was bad, but not as bad as the effects we would create by taking Dharma and using it for sectarian purposes or to exploit people. This rots the foundation. In this contex, the great yogi Milarepa said, “When Dharma practitioners do not abide within their practices, all they do is harm the teachings.” Just as intestinal worms can kill a lion, using the teachings for sectarianism and exploitation can easily destroy the Dharma. We erect elaborate altars and make extensive pilgrimages, but better than to do so is to remember Buddha’s teachings: “Never create any evil; always create goodness; aim all practices at cultivating the mind….

    “It is sometimes said that a major cause of the decline of Buddhism in India eight hundred years ago was the practice of Vajrayana by unqualified people, and sectarianism caused by corruption within the sangha. Anyone teaching Tibetan Buddism should keep this in mind when they refer to the precept, “every action of the guru to be seen as perfect.” This is an extremely dangerous teaching, particularly for beginners.”

    This statement– and his approach to Dharma and to life– saved my life twelve years ago, when I badly needed to stand up out of the gutter and find my own voice after damaging relationships with lamas. So I have strong feelings when people disparage the Dalai Lama for not doing more at reforming Tibetan Buddhist culture. Adamo is right– it is slow, slow, slow.

    But this has nothing to do with the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. You obviously have little knowledge of this tradition– nor do you have knowledge of how difficult it is for people to extricate themselves from abusive spiritual relationships or cultic structures. If you had a better understanding you wouldn’t have spoken so disparagingly of those who are struggling through this time in courageous and honest ways.

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  4. Ah, Joanne. Here to get the Dalai Lama off the hook again. Please show where he has named Sogyal as wrong by name? I must have missed it.
    Does that mean he is going to close down Sogyal’s Tenzin Gyatso Institute, here in The U.S. that is going to train hundreds more sexually abusive lamas to engage in their higher practices with young western females? Or that he is going to renounce the belief that one can only reach enlightenment by using young females in the sexual act so the Lamas can have their Hindu Shakti big bang experience that they are driven to keep trying to achieve?

    I don’t think this new limited hang out blog like Tenpel’s is going to work this time. Westerners are not going to be so easily fooled judged by the comments.

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  5. The Dalai Lama addressed Sogyal Rinpoche in his talk, saying “Sogyal Rinpoche, my very good friend. Now he is disgraced.”

    The usual doublespeak of the Dalai Lama
    This is not calling him out as an abuser, at all. It is to confuse people in the sanghas by saying ” my good friend is disgraced” please explain how he has called him out with this passive remark? Saying he is disgraced doesn’t make him responsible for any thing. In fact, in Tantra’s view those who have taken Tantric vows with him have now disgraced him and are at fault for not having pure perception in viewing his behavior as beyond good and bad.

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  6. Hi Joanne,

    I’m glad to hear that you feel that the DLs teachings saved your life at a difficult time, but what helped you was utterly useless to me.

    Like you, and many others, I initially tried to shift focus to other lamas and other teachings but once I’d already started to turn a critical focus on the Tibetan tradition, analyse what was there rather than what I wished was there, it all disintegrated very quickly, I saw it as just another patriarchal religion, composed of a mixture of truth, half-truth and outright nonsense; and teachers as just ordinary men who were priests of that religion….many of them with all the corruption, misogyny, arrogant hypocrisy and casuistry that goes with the job.

    From that point on, I gave up believing that any of them were exceptional or had some special sort of wisdom that entitled them to give advice to other people on how to live their lives while themselves being venerated and mostly insulated from what most of us have to deal with.

    I acknowledge that many people can’t manage without an external structure presided over by a father-figure who has all the answers, an off-the-peg belief system that explains everything and promises all sorts of wonderful things…..at some point in the future…… if they’ll just do what they’re told. I just don’t think it’s a good thing.

    It’s true that Buddhism has a lot of selling points: Karma ( cosmic justice and an overarching explanation for everything that makes the randomness of life so troublesome) Rebirth ( basically eternal life) until you reach Enlightenment ( The ultimate fantasy god-like state)…..but after two and a half millennia, or about a hundred generations, I wonder where all these enlightened people are. I never met any, although I met many, who people said were enlightened and even some that obviously believed themselves to be. Never any evidence whatsoever though.

    All the feel-good stories about incredible spiritual super-heroes who supposedly did amazing things: diligently, became realized, achieved super-powers and performed miracles…..the subtext is that you too can be like them…..if you’ll just do what you’re told. It’s all rather macho and frantically obsessive, often veering towards mental illness.

    But this was apparently all a long time ago and the people who saw it are all conveniently dead. It seems nobody does miracles these days………most of the ‘enlightened ones’ I saw couldn’t run for a bus let alone fly.

    Is it really ok to be that credulous?

    Of course there are a few unpleasant bits too….. like hellish rebirth…….if you don’t do what you’re told. The DL often mentions hell, and this, taken with his posturing as a moderniser and the way he likes to talk about modern scientific disciplines and psychology, just means he’s playing a double game.

    I stand by what I said: the DL could have and should have spoken out years ago, because what kind of man deliberately refuses to speak out against abuse when he has all the authority and credibility of the DL? So he may have been criticised, he may have upset a few people or been accused of sectarianism…..so what? Was he really so worried about his reputation, or mere criticism and gossip that he decided to look the other way? Is he that vain?

    How could that particular little storm in a Tibetan teacup ever have been worse than allowing SR another twenty years plus of rape, abuse and exploitation? Because that is precisely the choice the DL made……strange priorities indeed.

    In any event, he has now been forced to denounce SR anyway, so it’s all well and good to quote Milarepa and warn about the decline of Buddhism, and the dangers of Vajrayana, but if this was thirty years ago then it’s taken him a very long time to take those words seriously……as you said: ‘slow, slow, slow’ indeed. What’s the point of noble sentiments if they aren’t translated into action when circumstances call for it? Just empty posturing.

    Whichever way you look at it, the DL kept quiet, took money from SR, actively endorsed him very publicly and in so doing, abdicated his moral responsibility and as before, many others paid the price.

    So Joanne, some (rhetorical) questions:

    Do you think it’s reasonable of you to say that because the DL wrote something that you as one person found helpful, then no one else should ever criticize him for the harm he did to many others by his indifference….. because it makes you angry?

    Doesn’t this remind you of how some people react to criticism of SR?

    If this doesn’t concern the Tibetan tradition what exactly do you think it does concern?

    You know nothing at all about me, yet make very specific assumptions about me, deny my experience entirely and call me an uninformed liar just because I said something that annoyed you……don’t you think that’s rather self-absorbed and arrogant behaviour?

    Where do I disparage people who have recently found out about SR, and are trying to work through it? ( I’ve been through that myself, so why would I? )

    However, I most certainly am disparaging many individuals in the current R sangha: senior students who have known full well for many years what others are only just understanding now, but they’ve chosen to not just look away but actively convince vulnerable students that the abuse was their problem of impure perception. They’ve enabled abuse out of self-interest. You could say that they’re also victims, which might be true in a sense, but they’re either paid and/or addicted to their status…..and twenty years plus is a long time.
    I knew many of them quite well: intelligent, articulate people who were even then, very cynical and self-interested; some of us spoke openly about what was going on and why we were leaving, but they shrugged it off.

    So yes, I’m disparaging about them because of their long-term complicity with a serial abuser and sexual predator.

    Ironically Buddhism contains something which makes this easier for them: Karma, the idea that you can’t experience something if you haven’t created the causes for it. This is makes it easier to ignore abuse because it’s actually an ancient version of blaming the victim, in practice it poisons empathy. It’s one aspect of the teachings that has particularly repulsive implications, yet strangely no one ever asks the DL: “ So for instance: you mean Jewish people were actually responsible for the Holocaust themselves?”……..I wonder why that is?

    There are so many glaring inconsistencies like this, but of course, like the SR problem, or the DL’s attitude to it, once you start to really look, it can get very uncomfortable. But if you don’t look, you can waste your entire life chasing fairy tales, expecting other ‘wise’ people to think for you and even being subservient to them. There’s a very high probability that’s going to end in disappointment……or much worse.

    My apologies if this upsets you…..or anyone else for that matter, but I feel obliged to speak my mind because fifteen years of my life were wasted being a Buddhist, yet as soon as I left, things improved immeasurably and I’ve never regretted leaving, not even for a moment, because I stopped mortgaging my present for an imaginary future and in so doing regained my life and my freedom.

    I no longer believe in Enlightenment or Buddha nature, I believe our one life is sometimes subject to entirely random events and ends at death, and I appreciate it all the more for that. For me the universe has no ultimate ‘meaning’, inherent goodness or system of cosmic justice, just infinite, intensely complex beauty.

    Perhaps this is not for everyone, but I’d recommend at least giving it a try.

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    1. These female enablers, these Women of Folly and Foolishness, not Women of Wisdom are all about confusing and making the people at Rigpa, NOT EVER WAKE UP and continue to let these lamas do whatever they want. That’s what all sexual abuse perpetrators get their victims to do.

      I wrote a whole book to explain these cult techniques, and they hope the Rigpa students, never read it.

      https://www.amazon.com/Enthralled-Guru-Cult-Tibetan-Buddhism/dp/1511543469/

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    2. Alex, you said: “the DL kept quiet, took money from SR”. You have to bring some evidence to this statement or retract yourself.

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      1. @french observer:
        ‘The DL kept quiet’…if you think about it….it’s impossible to prove a negative, which means you have to disprove that statement by providing evidence that he did speak out about SR when he was told over 20 years ago…..good luck with that.

        Maybe you’re right, and despite the fact that every lama who ever visits a R centre always gets an ‘offering’ (in other words an envelope of cash), well probably because it was only the DL and….well…. nobody’s ever heard of him, they just gave him a cup of tea and a sandwich.

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        1. Alex, don’t you know that when the DL gives a visit there is full transparency about the financial accounts of the event? Or do you think it is all fake and he would take some money on the back.
          Anyway, you don’t have any evidence of what you are saying. From my perspective, this is just calomny.

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          1. Alex, you are not making any distinction between assumptions and facts. Now, if you think that someone is corrupt but you have no evidence, it would be more honest to present it as an assumption. You said that HHDL has received money from Rigpa, but you are just guessing.
            Concerning the CIA, I am not surprised that the exiled Tibetan government has received fundings from other states. Where is the big deal?
            Anyway, all the leaders whatever their qualities are always criticized. It is part of the game so feel free to do it as much as you wish. Now, I think the moderators should intervene against the calomnies, just to keep a minimum of decency.

            That’s all I had to say.

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    3. @Alex,
      AMEN! (LOL) I agree with much of what you say here, especially the part about Tibetan Buddhism being just like any other religion, complete with fairy tales of super human beings, threats of hell, and corrupt priests covering up abuses, etc. I am totally disillusioned.

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  7. @Chris Chandler,
    I want you to know that at first I didn’t believe you and I thought you were an angry, crazy person, but as I kept on reading your posts, (and the posts of others who aren’t so taken with Tibetan Buddhism), I began to slowly realize there is a lot of truth in what you are saying about the lamas and their agenda. I have been involved with Tibetan Buddhist groups for a long time and I was “enthralled” and fooled just like a lot of people are. I was never an “insider” in a lama’s inner circle, but I could see how the people in these sanghas worshiped the gurus. However, I couldn’t see that I was doing the same thing myself. I want you to know that your words are not falling on deaf ears and that your message is reaching people, like me, who are still struggling to come out from under their influence, even if it wasn’t direct influence. At this time, I realize that I have not come completely out, but I am trying. Sometimes I slip backwards and then I keep on moving forward. It’s really difficult when it seems like everyone around me is either converting, or they are “fans” of the lamas without knowing much about their real history, or how they behave when they think no one is watching.

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    1. @catlover
      Thanks, your post is very important because despite the real motives behind this thread being open to question, it shows that commenting here isn’t a waste of time.

      ‘Disillusioned’ is very good, because if you don’t have illusions it’s very difficult for others to exploit you.

      You were lucky not to be ‘an insider’ that should make it somewhat easier and quicker to get back to normal. It’s not something anyone can do immediately but it can be done and it will definitely pay off in the end.

      Once you’ve really left maybe you’ll look back and it’ll seem a bit crazy and you might wonder what on earth you were doing, but there’s really no point feeling bad about yourself because it’s not just Buddhism…..almost everyone gets involved in something that seemed like a good idea at the time that later turns out to have been be a mistake, youthful optimism, naivety, inexperience: work, relationships, schemes of all kinds…..we’re only human and we’re not so good at seeing into the future but luckily we have a sense of humour, and sometimes we can help one another.

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    2. Dear Catwoman:

      It took me another 10 years to come completely out. It is a long journey to recognize how deeply and profoundly these lamas fooled us, and stole our natural compassion to put to their own uses. There is shame, a sense of complicity and all the stages of grief, one has to go through, including all the hell realms the lamas planted in our minds, to begin to even dare to have negative thoughts about them, let alone speak these thoughts aloud. Sadly, I had to leave all my friends in these Tibetan lama sanghas, people I came to love dearly, but couldn’t be with them anymore, because it was like being with literally fellow guru-worshiping addicts, while I was trying to become addiction-free. At sixty years old I had to make a painful choice to give up social connections I had formed over nearly 30 years, in order to be free. That is the hardest thing, giving up the tightly connected social groups, that one has formed over the years. What made it easier, was how fanatic my old vajra family became, once I started speaking out, calling me a ‘heretic’ and revealing their fundamentalist and yes, very theistic belief system. I then was determined to research everything the lamas had tried to prevent me from knowing about, how they were using classic cult techniques, and their real history, ( I found the Trimondis’ Shadow of the Dalai Lama: http://www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Index.htm, particularly helpful) as I read every book I could on eastern cults and on the lamas’real history, not the spoon fed fairy tales we had been soaked in as Tibetan Tantric ‘Buddhists’; a history that is still being repressed in the mainstream press. perhaps because the Dalai lama’s Mindfulness movement, the first cult technique these lamas’ use to get us ‘not to judge’ them, is now a billion dollar commodity being pushed by corporatism. It is a dangerous movement that is sweeping our western nations not knowing its roots and how it gets people ‘not to judge’ and give up their reasoning minds for emotionalism, and an anti-intellectualism and particularly, anti-individualism to create a Group Mind. It is why the Dalai Lamas have been admired by Totalitarian regimes, throughout history.

      Even after, becoming disillusioned with Trungpa’s group, (as these Rigpa students have become with Sogyal) I was so programmed by the Tantra and their cult techniques, that I thought this group was an ‘exception’ and fell into the clutches of Tsoknyi Rinpoche, another trickster lama, and good friend of Lama Sogyal, whom he told us to see as part of our Vajra family. I was again doing full prostrations, and reading about hell realms that I would fall into if had a bad thought about these lamas, from their zealot’s bible: Words of My Perfect Teacher. I didn’t know that all these lamas are working together now, with their enabling western helpmates, their inner circles, nuns and former sexual consorts, with their Dakini Power ruse, teaching at each others sanghas, to keep westerners, and particularly western women, in a mindfulness trance, and using the double binds these groups are so good at: such as ‘its a blessing’ to be groped by a lama, vs. you are at fault if you don’t set boundaries, or: use your own good sense vs. it is your imperfect perception if you see faults in your lamas, etc. etc. etc. Double binds are always used in cult groups.

      If you are able to hear the criticisms now of this cult of Tantra, then you are almost all the way out and close to being really free of them. Congratulations. It is a very painful and difficult journey, but you are not alone, as I discovered once I found my own voice again. I find that the general public is much more willing to hear these truths about Lamaism and its sexual and other abuses, then they were even five years ago. That is a big change.

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      1. Sorry, I meant to address you as Cat lover! Again, thank you for your post. And thank you Alex, for such a clear and funny and so true exposition on Tibetan Tantric Buddhism. It will take those of us who ‘escaped,’ with our reasoning minds still intact, to keep speaking out, until a groundswell forms that can counteract forty years of the Tibetan Tantric Lamaism being given a free pass for their egregious and institutionalized sexual, financial and spiritual abuses, by the mainstream media and Hollywood. When we are at the George Carlin, scorn and ridicule phase, we will have not only freed western female students from the Lamas misogynistic influence , but also the little boy tulkus who are also abused inside this monolithic, androcentric, cult of Tantra.

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      2. Dear CHRISTINE CHANDLER, please tell us more about what you have found abnormal or abusive within the teachings of Tsoknyi Rinpoche.

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      3. Excellent post Christine, and very true: when you leave you find out exactly who your real friends are…..chances are that among those who stay ‘addicted’ you won’t have any at all.

        In the end that’s for the best, because if you don’t tolerate abuse it’s impossible to continue any kind of relationship with those who do.

        Yes, you’re right, there is a big change in attitudes, because years ago the first scandal didn’t seem to make much difference on a wider level but now information is very difficult to suppress, and although groups like R try to ‘manage ‘ it, as can be seen here…..they’re pretty hopeless at it.

        I don’t think Tibetan Buddhism will fade away quite yet, but it’s rapidly, and justifiably, getting the same reputation as the Catholic church. New generations will get drawn in but hopefully in smaller numbers and the information and resources are now in place to help them get out.

        We’re facing much bigger problems than religion now: climate change, environmental degradation, wars, poverty, racism, and predatory capitalism, but since many of those problems themselves depend on obscurantist cult-like thinking and denial, then anything that works against that, even this thread, helps the planet in some small way.

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  8. Alex: “…most of the ‘enlightened ones’ I saw couldn’t run for a bus let alone fly.”

    One of the funniest, most pithy and *accurate* statements (on both a literal and metaphorical level) on this issue I have yet read.

    I’ve been involved in Rigpa for a very short time, and at a very minor level (meditation classes, and one short retreat where I sat at the back). I won’t lie – I was becoming increasingly enamoured with it, as it seemed to offer the promise of a complete spiritual path. Even at this early stage, I had to occasionally turn off my critical faculties and overlook several significant things in order to maintain my positive view. I am responsible for this, and I must look at what this says about me that I was prepared to do this.

    But I am so relieved and grateful that the events of the last two months have unfolded, albeit deeply pained that others are suffering as a result. The Eight’s Letter and the responses to it by senior lamas, teachers, senior students, ordinary students, past students and all the rest have generated so much insight about Tibetan Buddhism that otherwise would have taken me years to accumulate. All of these contributions have – in one way or another – been greatly influential in my thinking. I have come to profoundly question what it is I, and others, are doing. How can something that is supposed to reduce and eliminate suffering and confusion cause so much of it? As Alex said, I have come to look at what it is, rather than what I would like it to be.

    I will continue to meditate, as this seems unquestionably beneficial. I may even, in time, explore other, simpler, expressions of Buddhism. Maybe. But I will take no further part in Rigpa.

    Whether the accusations are true (I have no reason to dispute them, but I am also mindful of everyone’s right to a legal presumption of innocence) is not the only matter of importance to me. The *responses* to the allegations alone revealed enough to walk away: appalling alleged behaviour explained away in arcane language which, when analysed, has all the substance of a puff of smoke; profound mysogyny; blind faith and devotion at significant human cost, to name but a few. I turned away from the religion of my birth for these very same faults.

    I wish everyone well in their endeavours. I hope you all find peace. Everyone. I especially hope that those whose involvement was over a longer period and at a deeper personal level of commitment find happiness.

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  9. @Joseph,
    I agree with a lot of what you said. As I am examining what Tibetan Buddhism IS, instead of what I’d like it to be, I am realizing that there is enough in the lama’s behavior, and in the way they justify bad behavior, for me to walk away. It’s not just Sogyal that creates the problem. If he was the ONLY one, then you could say he’s just one bad apple and it’s not the fault of Tibetan Buddhism itself. But as Christine Chandler correctly points out, it’s the whole mindset and attitudes within this religion that creates a Sogyal in the first place. THAT is the real issue and I am glad she is bringing that up because it’s a very important point to stress. There are many mini Sogyals running around in this tradition, and even if most of them might not be *as* bad as him, they still have a similar worldview and the same predisposition to act in a similar manner when given the opportunity. Even if they don’t actually engage in those actions themselves, they seem to look the other way when their buddies behave badly, so it makes them complicit. The whole thing is very disturbing. Also, the child abuse in the monasteries is something that is even worse than the sexual abuse against adult women. After hearing what Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche had to say about the abuses he suffered while he was a child in the monastery, and especially the way his own “teachers” reacted to it, (which is the most horrible part of all), I was appalled and disgusted. Anyone who hasn’t watched his video should it right away. It is a real eye-opener.

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  10. @Alex,

    Actually, I think religion is at least partially the cause of a lot of the problems you mentioned, especially war and other related problems. Personally, I think religion IS one of the BIGGEST problems we face because it keeps people stuck in the dark ages and unable to cope with the real world. It’s time for humanity to grow up and scrap utopian ideologies, (and that includes the non-religious ones as well).

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  11. @Christine Chandler,

    Thanks for encouraging me on my quest to break free. I can feel that I am not totally there yet. I can so easily slip back. Sometimes just spending time with some of my old friends makes me start thinking and acting as I used to.

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  12. Dear commenters. Unfortunately the tone of some of the comments here are no longer respectful and as such do not contribute to the reasoned discussion that we wish for this blog. Please keep your tone respectful.

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  13. @Christine Chandler,
    Your post are spot on, all I see here is people trying to cover up the bigger problem – lamaism.
    I look forward to reading your book (just orderd it from Amazon!)

    @Moonfire – more control? and more censorship? Just because you don’t like the way the conversation is going? – i.e – just like Rigpa and SL?
    So much for open dialogue…..

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    1. Perhaps the term ‘constructive’ is more appropriate here? People here are trying to get to terms with what has happened: I think they are trying to figure out what Buddhism means to them now. I don’t feel they are ready to throw away the good with the bad.

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    1. Thanks for posting that Joanne.

      It makes sense for the leader of a religious institution that is increasingly being riven by scandals and exposed as being permeated by corruption to finally start talking about the subject when it’s become so obvious that he no longer has any choice if he wants to limit the damage.

      I suppose he can be forgiven for mentioning the French and Russian revolutions but omitting the other big one that also dismantled a brutal feudal theocracy closer to home.
      At least the French and Russian elite diaspora didn’t try to export their obnoxious brands of feudalism under the guise of religion.

      Interestingly he couldn’t even bring himself to mention Sogyal by name.

      If he’d said this twenty years ago it would have been convincing , but now not so much.

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