HH the Dalia Lama Mentions Rigpa again.

On the 6th of Sept 2017 at his residence in Dharamshala, His Holiness mentioned Rigpa in a talk to some students from the University of California. Among other things he said that “If [institutions] use name of Dharma [for] exploitation, they, themselves, not properly practised  Dharma, including some Tibetan Lama.”

It’s short, so doesn’t take much time to watch.

A viewer made the following transcript:

“In the west when I use the word ‘secular’ some of my friends say secular means a little bit negative towards religion. You see, it’s understandable, during the French revolution and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia there is some sort of tendency [of a] negative attitude towards religion. That actually is not religion, but religious institution. Religion, real religion, means love. Even animal[s] appreciate love. So nobody can [be] against religion, or love. But, you see, these institution[s], frankly speaking, I think [in] many cases religious teachers or religious spiritual leaders or institution[s], frankly speaking, in some cases [are] rotten. [HHDL puts his tongue out]

So, it’s worthwhile to [HHDL makes a fist] against these things. During French Revolution, before that, the elite, or kings or queens, elite people very much related with religious institution. So, they got benefit from these group[s] so automatically they support them. So, when people really suffer due to exploitation, then people should develop courage in order to topple that institution. They also need courage to [go] against religious institution. Isn’t it? What do you think?

Now recently in Haryana some problems, now you know [HHDL points towards audience]. So the Dharma, if [institutions] use name of Dharma [for] exploitation, they, themselves, not properly practised Dharma, including some Tibetan Lama also like that. Now recently in America, Rigpa, you may [have] heard Rigpa Dharma Centre, the leader, I know him. Now recently one open letter, or against, full of criticism about that person. So, therefore, religious institution quite often, you see, spoilt, not caring [about] the real sort of message of religion, but rather use the name of religion, religion used [as an] instrument for exploitation. So French Revolution and Russian Bolshevik Revolution, some tendency against religion because of that.

So, when I say ‘secular’ some of my friend[s] have a little sort of reservation. But in this country [India] secular means respect [for] all religion and also, I think, one unique thing is according [to the] Indian concept of secularism, secular [is also] respect [for] non believer.”


 

Be sure to check out the What Now? References page for links to a wealth of articles in the topics related to abuse in Buddhist communities. For links to places to assist in healing from abuse see 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. Please use the email address you use on Facebook.

 

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54 thoughts on “HH the Dalia Lama Mentions Rigpa again.

  1. For the past weeks, after the letter, I really have been struggling with a lot of conflicting emotions regarding my being a student of SR for 24 years. The letter triggered so much; it’s been a difficutl time. I also turned to this page several times to find inspiration, to hear different perspectives and maybe learn from them for my own process. This post now has helped me in finding new stability concerning my spiritual path. The couple mentioned is the epitome of fake and phony, what they write is just so incredibly deluded I am lost for words. I’m sorry to lose the eight as I have spent years with them and I really wish you all the best but I’m quitting this page, if there is people out there who actually believe in this ‘lineage’, I might as well stay with Rinpoche! Good bye to all.

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    1. What have the eight to do with the Aro gTer? The eight posted HHDL‘s second statement on SL/R.

      It’s quite a strong emotional up and down and struggle between what’s right what’s wrong. I‘ve gone through this many years ago myself. It includes also to question oneself and facing different types of unsettling feelings including being without direction, insecurity, feeling lost, confused, disoriented, fear, guilt, anger, disappointed etc.

      Usually, I describe it as a tension between the plus and minus poles of a great energy source. I am myself between the plus an minus poles. The truth of the group is so utterly different to the truth of the whistleblowers, victims, critics or survivors that its very hard bear the tension. It was so hard for me that sometimes my body trembled. It’s plain pain. People respond differently to pain. From a spiritual POV, pain is good because it opens up for true spirituality. I found these lines by Bhikkhu Bodhi helpful at that time when I went through these pains:

      The search for a spiritual path is born out of suffering. It does not start with lights and ecstasy, but with the hard tacks of pain, disappointment, and confusion. However, for suffering to give birth to a genuine spiritual search, it must amount to more than something passively received from without. It has to trigger an inner realization, a perception which pierces through the facile complacency of our usual encounter with the world to glimpse the insecurity perpetually gaping underfoot. When this insight dawns, even if only momentarily, it can precipitate a profound personal crisis. It overturns accustomed goals and values, mocks our routine preoccupations, leaves old enjoyments stubbornly unsatisfying.

      At first such changes generally are not welcome. We try to deny our vision and to smother our doubts; we struggle to drive away the discontent with new pursuits. But the flame of inquiry, once lit, continues to burn, and if we do not let ourselves be swept away by superficial readjustments or slouch back into a patched up version of our natural optimism, eventually the original glimmering of insight will again flare up, again confront us with our essential plight. It is precisely at that point, with all escape routes blocked, that we are ready to seek a way to bring our disquietude to an end.

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    2. @soulondre If you are referring to the comment posted referring to a statement by the teachers of Aro Ter. That has been deleted as the statement was from teachers not recognized by HH the Dalai Lama and Nyingma lamas, therefore we feel that it is not appropriate for this page. In future please use the form on the contact page to report inappropriate comments.

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      1. The irony is delicious. If you want a Dalai Lama approved Lama you get Sogyal Lakar.

        There are however a few points:
        ❶̂ Where is the list of Dalai Lama approved Lamas?
        ❷̂ Where is the list of Nyingma Lama approved Lamas?
        ❸̂ How is one to know where there are Lamas who approve of lamas or not?
        ❹̂ There was an attempt—by the Tibetan Government in Exile—at such a list but it was boycotted by so many Lamas that it was abandoned.

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        1. I think there is no such list nor will there ever be such a list. The understanding is that it is the task of the student to check a teacher properly. Everybody can become a teacher in Buddhism if he finds students. Buddhism is basically anarchic. In a way I can even understand – if true – that the list was boycotted. (Which doesn’t mean it could be useful to have such a list – however, its extremely tricky and can easily go wrong.)

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          1. The PRC maintains such a list, for what it’s worth.

            I’ve often felt that I must be some sort of Rinpoche. Then one day, it hit me: Maybe I could be the reincarnation of Shakyamuni’s horse. You know, the one who carried him out of the palace…? I don’t think anybody has claimed him yet. So, you should all feel lucky to bask in my darshan, and receive the pellets of wisdom which periodically drop from…wait, bad metaphor. Anyway, please notify your Brony friends.

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          2. BTW, a funny sidetrack. There was an attempt to create a website with accepted genuine teachers. My own highly abusive NKT teacher – now “Lama Dechen Rinpoche” – was listed on that site. When I contacted the website owners they didn’t believe the details and arguments I sent to them and left her there pinned as a genuine teacher 😉

            I don’t know how she managed to be listed there either…

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        2. @Godzilla,
          It’s not that a lineage has to be on a “list” approved by the Tibetan Government in Exile, but an accepted lineage has teachers going back for hundreds of years, who are recognized by mainstream lamas. Any new lineage that seems to pop up out of nowhere, without teachers going back a long way, isn’t trusted by the mainstream.

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          1. Indeed. So when you look at the biography of Dudjom Lingpa he was for most of his life not accepted by his fellow practicioners in Tibet (see ‘A Clear Mirror’). He was coming from nowhere and was not trusted at all. 100 years later the Dudjom Tersar had become one of the most widely practiced lineages within the Nyingma tradition. So what does this tell us about the importance of being recognized by the ‘mainstream’?

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            1. Did Dudjom Lingpa have a similar history of abuse and harm to faithful students of the Dharma as SL? SL also doesn’t come from nowhere, so how much can these cases really be compared?

              Basically, I think, we have to judge for ourselves after we have informed ourselves as good as possible and investigated as unbiased as possible. Judging for ourselves is a bit difficult if people, managers or lamas insist to be non-judgmental 😉

              BTW, also to judge SL as genuine is a judgement.

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              1. I fully agree with you. I did not have the intention to defend SL in any way. He has been – at least in public – fully endorsed by many important Tibetan lamas for many decades. This in itself is highly problematic. I was referring to the argument of Catlover, that “Any new lineage that seems to pop up out of nowhere, without teachers going back a long way, isn’t trusted by the mainstream.” That statement appears to be correct but the opinion of the ‘mainstream’ is not always the best yardstick to judge the authenticity of lineages in Vajrayana.

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                1. @Daniel,
                  Dudjom Lingpa was the reincarnation of one of Guru Rinpoche’s disciples. He just had to be recognized by the establishment, which didn’t happen right away, until he received recognition from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, who was already a respected teacher from a respected lineage. That was what established DL as a respected lama. Your example confirms what I already said.

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                  1. Oops, I am getting two stories of two different lamas mixed up. Sorry about that. In any case, they generally have to be part of a lineage already, a reincarnated tulku, or recognized by someone who is already part of an established lineage. There may be exceptions, but that is the general rule.

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                    1. I was mixing up the stories of Dudjom Lingpa and Chokgyur Lingpa.

                      Anyway, I am not saying that someone new couldn’t ever come along, but it is rare that they would get mainstream recognition without first having some established lama recognize them first. That’s just how it works, whether some people think that’s fair or not.

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                  2. Catlover, as you’ve noted below, you’ve confused Dudjom Lingpa with Chokgyur LIngpa. However, i think Daniel’s anecdote about Dudjom Lingpa still stands.

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          2. In Taiwan we’ve got a lama whose lineage is very real, dating back to the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, his connection with it is quite dubious–it looks like he picked an extinct subschool to resurrect. If you’re wondering about his personal character, think “garden variety cult leader.”

            In Malaysia there’s a guy kind of like that. He claims his lineage to go all the way back to Tsongkhapa, and has a list of lamas who supposedly endorsed him. It is possible to suspect him of inventing all these claims.

            So what if these two recognize each other? Then I guess they’d be considered mainstream? anyway, that’s not too far removed from what we’ve got. Did you know the Dalai Lama has appeared onstage with Steven Seagal Rinpoche?

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            1. To be fair to HHDL, there is probably no one he won’t appear on stage with. He is a bodhisattva. But that is not the same as “endorsing” them. But you did make me lol.

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            2. Steven Seagal was officially recognized by the head of the Nyingma lineage, (at that time), not the Dalai Lama. (Although I don’t know if the DL considers SS a lama or not.)

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      2. I’m torn. I like the *idea* of Aro, just as I like the *idea* of the FWBO. But I have no direct experience of either, have read some credible negative reports, and can well believe that the execution falls short of the ideal. (The fact that Aro promotes Trungpa’s books hardly endears them to me.) Whether the Dalai Lama recognizes them or not doesn’t matter to me, though. If Tibetan Buddhism ever truly reforms itself, I have to think it would look a lot like Aro. At least they’re making an honest effort.

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  2. Soulondre, is your argument really that because two people who you don’t trust take a negative view of SL that this gives you license to more or less declare that the allegations of The Eight (and the many more over the years) are baseless? That is a total breakdown of critical analysis.

    I am *so* thankful to The Eight and all the responses, including the site owner(s)’ recent decision to start editing and deleting posts. I want NOTHING to do with any of this any longer. I thought I could continue to read posts and educate myself further, but the content is becoming genuinely disturbing. Goodbye all!

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    1. @Joseph, the comment has been removed. Please understand that people commenting here do not necessarily (and often don’t) represent the views of those who run this site, and we do not watch the site 24/7, therefore inappropriate comments ts don’t get removed immediately. Sorry, it’s the best we can do.

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      1. @Joseph and others. A friend of mine observing the debate here on the What Now? Blog wrote that people with an Anti-Dalai Lama or Anti-Tibetan Buddhism stance have started to “invade” the blog and disturb the “nice tone” it had so far. She wrote today “It seems to me that there’s something of an invasion sadly. The tone has become harsh.”

        So, the moderators of the What Now? Blog might have to take care for a closer moderation.

        On my own blog – to keep the discussion sane and the tone friendly – I approve every single comment (the blog has almost 15.000 comments). This (to approve every single comment) might be the only way to keep a good and save atmosphere on a blog where such sensitive, tricky and also hurtful topics are discussed.

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  3. Hi everybody, I’m new here, but I’m a student of Sogyal Rinpoche since quite a time. I’m not a good dharma practioner, but I just want to share some common sense. I don’t want you to think that I will defend Sogyal Rinpoche. This is not what HHDL does either, because whatever is, we have to find out by ourselves and not just believe what anybody says. What we need to defend is what is sacred, the Dharma and lineages that are living because no Dharma exists without being realized by beings and eventually learn to see beyond appearances, how difficult they may seem. I have learned that there are many ways to help sentient beings, even by taking the appearance of a wrongdoer. I don’t want to prove that somebody of you did this, but we have to take this into account in our non-judgmental perception, as means Vimalakarti in the Sutra. I believe that if it were not these eight who would have denounced a behavior of Sogyal Rinpoche, it would have been other beings who could not bare it because he would maybe have continued to provoke other beings, who knows for a good reason, because as you have noticed, it provoked in all of those who really felt for Sogyal Rinpoche a return to an inquiry that is much more profound then before. For others, who it doesn’t make (yet) sense and only see wrong behaviours that discredit Sogyal Rinpoche, they have HHDL’s comment on that to soothe their anger. Still, I don’t believe HHDL discredits Sogyal Rinpoche as we could easily think, but he merely mention a situation from a certain point of view of problems with certain institutions and behaviors that have been alleged that disgrace a lama. I don’t say that baring with what Sogyal Rinpoche has done, no matter our perceptoin, is a good attitude, because that would just be mindlessly following someone, but coping with it in an enlightened way like Venerable Thubten Chodron is indicating, is the best way and it may allow to see beyond the appearances and have an other deeper communication with the truth. I personally found that Sogyal Rinpoche’s teachings are very in line with Thubten Chodron’s teachings, but that’s maybe only my perception. Eventually we could maybe recognize we deal with an authentic master and lineage, but if our ideas are arrested before, we will for sure not know. Some of us have a (kind of) Samaya with Sogyal Rinpoche, and Orgyen Tobgyal is saying that the Samaya has been broken by at least one of the letter. A Samaya is to be repaired, deluded beings as us can’t even start a pure Samaya, they have to start with the mud of their perception and the mud of their lives to be able to let the lotus grow and how bad their karma is, we can’t say, but maybe it’s only this Samaya to live up to, that will safe them from falling more into Samsara, how difficult it may be to have a non-judgmental mind and to regain faith. So be careful to not judge that they have to leave that Samaya because you believe it’s a manipulation. Now with respect for HHDL’s point of view, I just want to say that it’s not useful at all, even harmful to be against HHDL. In appearance it may seem to contradict with others like Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche who doesn’t want us to be judgmental and would like us to see that we have to let go our fixated perception and move on to be more careful in searching for a Guru, not really telling either if Sogyal Rinpoche is an authentic Guru or not. The problem is probably that we say too soon to ourselves that we have found one… with all the problems due to our expectations afterwards. It’s so obvious for how Sogyal Rinpoche is announced in the world, that we could have very high expectations being around him. After all, HHDL has not the responsibility either to say if Sogyal Rinpoche is a worthwhile Guru or not. He will never affirm that, nor negate that, but we may tend to interpret his words in this way. Being a disgrace has never altered the Buddha Nature nor the one abiding in it. Did we believe that we should behave like Sogyal Rinpoche and that it should be institutionalized? Is this what he told some of us to do? And if he did, did he really meant it and thought he that it would really work? Or foretold he that he could raise up this question before others do, who are really malevolent, so that such a way of misusing a sangha would have less the chance to occur after this and so that this question with all the questions aside about how to create a genuine community, how to search for an authentic master and how to practice genuinely the authentic Dharma, can be raised and would not have been raised in the West otherwise because of the Kaliyuga, while meanwhile his student, and maybe Sogyal Rinpoche himself at the time of his death, who have maybe really made an authentic and realized connection with the authentic lineage in which Sogyal Rinpoche supposedly belongs, will maybe prove to other masters and themselves and maybe to some other beings, that it was all a teaching, a real-life case study, made by an enlightened being to improve the progress of each on of us and that authentic Dharma can be found at Rigpa. I don’t see how HHDL’s critics on institutions and mentioning Sogyal Rinpoche in this problem, contradicts with that, it even helps in all that. I find it very skillful of both of them. Buddhist communities in the west are very master-oriented communities, due to history, but because of the attention to this vertical relationship, horizontal relationships can be very neglected. Sogyal Rinpoche warned us about that already a long time ago and gave instructions to develop the horizontal relationships, but probably many of us produced this top down way of thinking anyway because many of us, including myself, longed to receive so much from such a high incarnated lama.
    May it, please, dissolve the discord between everyone and may our minds be directed toward peace. May every one of you find an authentic path without ever making interpretations of everything just to have a reason, but go beyond your judgements to find deeper meanings. It’s not worthwhile to combat the evil outside of us, because when we have combated it inside of us, we can bring peace to others, with a bigger picture, and remove the evil outside just by making it more weaker as we don’t give it power, instead of making divides and small minded outward politics, which is certainly not HHDL’s politic either !

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    1. Thank you. I have some questions regarding your comment:

      1) How do you know that HHDL’s comment “soothe their anger”?
      2) What do you mean by being non-judgmental?
      3) How can you reconcile that you have to rely on discriminating awareness to check a guru (even after you have taken him as such as the tantric texts indicate)*, that you ask to be non-judgemental and at the same time you call for “to regain faith” – isn’t this a conundrum? Are you asking for blind faith not based in sound judgment or discriminating awareness (wisdom)?
      4) If you find there is “an inquiry that is much more profound then before”, surely such inquiry will admit that women and men have been harmed – at least two women are even in psychiatry because of sexual violence here in Germany – isn’t it? And what will your “see(ing) beyond the appearances and (a) deeper communication with the truth” tell you about his harmful actions as been pointed out in the letter of the 8 and other testimonies?
      5) If “how Sogyal Rinpoche is announced in the world, that we could have very high expectations being around him” is a problem then why does Rigpa refer to him as Padmasambhava and SL himself skilfully feeds the perception of himself as a super-master?
      6) What is the Samaya? What does it really entail and not entail? What are the marks its been broken? What is the Samaya of the guru, and when has he broken his samaya? When the teacher broke his samaya before the student, can a student break it at all?
      7) Since the Buddha (but also Patrul Rinpoche, Jamgon Kontrul Rinpoche and other Tibetan masters) warned to follow wrong spiritual friends – because we develop the same faults as they possess and risk to totally ruin our spiritual path and future lives(!) – how can we protect ourselves from following wrong spiritual friends (or teachers) when you ask us to “go beyond (our) judgements”?
      Isn’t it better to detect “the evil outside of us” and to stop following it? How can we “combat it inside of us” if the “the evil outside of us” is increasing “the evil inside of us” – for instance by inspiring us to lie, deceive, accept abuse and harm as virtuous deeds and by doing it ourselves because of the bad example of our supposed “virtuous spiritual friend”? How can we “bring peace to others” when we follow a destructive route? And what is “small minded outward politics” in getting clarity about what is wholesome to follow or unwholesome to follow? The Buddha asked us to see for ourselves what leads to the wholesome and unwholesome not matter what teachers, traditions etc. say. What is politics about caring for our own and others spiritual path?
      ———————————————————
      * Since the tantric texts say clearly that you should abandon a guru like you would abandon hell if he misguides you – or if you find out after you have taken him as your guru that he has a bad character or is not suitable as a Vajrayana guru – it follows, you need discriminating intelligence even after you have taken a guru in order to detect your own fault of having too quickly relied on a non-suitable Vajrayana guru. Without sober judgement or discriminating intelligence you can’ t follow this specific instruction of the tantras, can you?

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    2. This “do not judge” philosophy is what leads to this sort of abuse in the first place. If crazy wisdom really exists, we CAN judge it based on the following criteria: does it leave people confused and traumatized, or does it lead to enlightenment? If Sogyal’s students did not benefit from Sogyal’s “crazy wisdom” methods, then it was NOT crazy wisdom and it was simply abuse! I think it’s time to cut out all of the fancy, mental gymnastics, which simply confuse people further, and simply be able to call a spade a spade. If people are traumatized, it can’t be crazy wisdom because crazy wisdom ALWAYS leads to enlightenment and it NEVER leads to the kind of mental state these victims are in. I think that even we unenlightened peasants can discern enough to be able to tell when people are receiving benefit from a certain kind of treatment and when they are not. If even ONE person is harmed, then that teacher does not have the skill and the special insight to be able to use crazy wisdom. A very realized teacher would have to be insightful enough to KNOW what will harm and what will be of benefit. Sogyal has harmed many, so clearly he does not have the ability to distinguish between what will be of benefit and what will be harmful to his students. Even if he means well, and he just keeps on making mistakes, he still lacks the ability to be able to use crazy wisdom skillfully.

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  4. I think it is important to recognize the difference between our judgemental mind, which is reactive, and our wisdom of discernment which sees clearly and cuts through beliefs that obscure what is.

    In Rigpa we were taught to drop our judgemental mind, but, despite being introduced to the nature of our mind, we were not encouraged to trust our own wisdom, and so we ended up without the ability to ‘see a spade as a spade.’

    With the wisdom of discernment there is no judgment, just a clear realization of how things are, including knowing right from wrong. I do not think SR is bad, but I know that he has behaved badly. Seeing this side of him does not, for me, negate any of his kindness. People assume that seeing the human being means you cannot see the Buddha, but that is not true. You can see both, honor what should be honored and heal what needs healing.

    The big test now, especially for those who consider this all enlightened action, is whether or not Rigpa can make the sweeping changes needed for this to be a major positive turning point in translating Tibetan Buddhism into the West. The signs at the moment are that there is too much defensiveness and too little understanding of the middle way, particularly in regards to absolute and relative. Further study and a much larger vision is needed.

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    1. Even before becoming a buddhist, I have always thought that the most important elements of a spiritual journey were integrity and listening to the inner-voice (think for instance Gandhi). Raised in the catholic tradition, I could never stand the double-face behaviours and the games of power. As we practice in groups, men remain men and the aspects of power come automatically into play. For some reason, I have always been sensitive to the control and abuse aspects. So I am always looking how the leader is handling this power and I admire the approaches of Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.

      I feel that hypocrisy is the death of a spiritual development. As a children, I was always wondering about other practitioners: “if you believe, what don’t you practice? Recognize that it is difficult, even impossible for the time-being but at least try”. From my perspective, hypocrisy is the death of a spiritual development.

      I remember discussing with 2 Rigpa friends a few years ago about why I was not going to Rigpa (facts about the actions of SR were easily available on the net). When I was talking about integrity, I was surprised to see that for them it didn’t really matter. More than anything, they had been dazzled by his book and it was their introduction to Tibetan buddhism.

      I approach meditation as connecting to the heart and developing inner wisdom. The nature of the mind is the inner refuge, so I can’t see how an “external” injunction could muzzle this wisdom. In fact, with all of this story about SL, it reinforced my conviction to never compromise.

      About the practice of seeing the teacher as a Buddha, when you reach the final stage and see everybody as a Buddha. Do people really believe that they have to think that all the actions of all sentient beings on earth are OK and beneficial? My interpretation is that you see the essence of each sentient being as Buddha. Even whey they act badly, people are confused but it is an expression of the nature of Buddha. And it is the same with the teacher, this is why we don’t visualize him under his human form in the refuge tree.

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    2. Sogyal may not be “bad” intentionally, bur it’s clear he has issues, and he has caused harm by being very unskillful. He shows that he does not have the skill as a teacher to use crazy wisdom in his methods. There is no way to rationalize or justify any of his abusive actions, even if he “meant well” in the process.

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  5. I had a similar childhood (Angligan) and came to a similar conclusion. It is far too easy to give our trust more to someone else than to ourselves. So much so that it can be a kind of laziness, a way of avoiding looking in – which is where we are supposed to be looking – and at a certain stage of our spiritual development that does us more harm than good. Of course that point is different for different people, and we need a teacher to get to that point, but a truly great teacher is willing to tell us when it’s time to move on.

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  6. Very good points these last comments.
    To me the most important lesson to learn from this situation and probably the starting point to a deeper healing.

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  7. Dear Moonwalkers,

    I have a proposal:
    I feel it would be helpful and timely to give this wonderful blog a little bit of a order by structuring it according to different topics that can then be discussed separately and in depth (like in a working-group) over a longer period of time.

    This would have some advantages:
    1.) The discussions could go deeper, because they are not interrupted by other topics.
    2.) Important aspects and arguments are preserved and not forgotten so easely as when continuing the discussion under the next post.
    3.) A structure that reflects order and mindfulness is also a help for us to stay mindful with our comments.
    4.) People that come later to the page can more easely find the topics and aspects that are important for them.
    5.) This structure would save time for everybody, also for the moderators, because arguments to one topic are all in one place. P.e. when I see, an argument has already been placed, I don’t repeat it, and that saves time for me and the moderators, who would otherwise monitor and read the comment.

    Topics I thought of could be p.e.:
    1. Technical questions and procedure:
    So people who have a technical question can see under this topic if this question has already been asked and answered. And also comments – like this one or further proposals – could be placed there and would not interrupt a current discussion on other contents.
    2. Critics of the structure of Rigpa. This could also include topics like manipulation and brainwashing.
    3. Changes that we would consider necessary and helpful in the organization of Rigpa.
    4. Samaya and topics like “Vajra hell”.
    5. What could it mean to have empathy and “Pure perception” concerning
    – SLR? (An attempt to try to understand what made him act as he acted.)
    – the ‘victims’ (because the ‘victims’ are not just victims, which would turn them into an object and could also be traumatizing, but they also had pure intention as well as a high degree of courage and some of them a willingness to sacrifice themselves for a higher purpose, and I think we should honor that motivation and trust that ultimately it will bear fruits.)
    6. “Finding peace” and reconciling the benefit many of us have received through the teachings and SL/R with a clear standing in respect to the misbehavior.
    7. Feedback and/or gratitude
    Here people who have experienced help through this page can express that – even if the never actively participated in the discussions. A bit like a guest-book in a restaurant.
    8. Miscellaneous
    Here one can post comments that do not fit in any of the other categories
    9. The posts as they come in. Like we have it now.
    But then the comments would really refer to the post they belong to and not bring in all kind of other topics.

    With this I want to thank you all for your wonderful and helpful work. Many problems are already solved by the mere existence of this blog, because people are given a choice of information.

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    1. Hi Lola, What you’re suggesting is a forum format not a blog, but we’ll discuss your idea and see what we can do with it.

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    2. Also, I think help for survivors is missing in all of this. It becomes a little easy to focus too much on the trauma to one’s own spiritual path, too much on one’s own pain, and forget the hard work ahead of acknowledging and supporting survivors– which in fact could be a very healing path for everyone.

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      1. Very true. Rigpa has not reached out to the 8 who wrote the letter at all. SR sent them a version of the email sent to everyone in the sangha as their initial response, but nothing in that could be seen as anything aimed at helping them heal.

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        1. I fully agree. This is really very sad. It is a bad sign for compassion in R. What do students in R. aim? Compassion means helping the victims. But it seems that R. is very busy to help itself to survive and to deny difficult questions. R. needs more courage to confess its compliance.

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    1. I’ve been following this blog and it’s been very interesting.

      The degree of control has increased a bit recently, and there’s nothing to disagree with about stopping people being rude to one another, but so far, no one has been particularly rude here so the reasons seem unclear.

      To me the part in the comments guidelines about ‘pushing an agenda’ seems slightly out of place in a blog that has one itself, ( as it should since everyone has an agenda or a ‘point of view’ ) because this could be misread as saying “We don’t want to hear from you if you disagree with us too much.” It’s going to be difficult to know what will be too extreme and that might put people off who have a valuable contribution.

      I’m not sure how we can freely discuss defects either, without someone sensitive considering it an attack.

      And perhaps more importantly: if the discussion is restricted to only people who have ‘ deep respect for Buddhism’ that automatically excludes anyone who has lost respect because of SR’s behaviour or scandals like this and the way the institutions have handled them, so that effectively excludes victims of SR, and surely they must be considered first among those this blog has been set up to help.
      It will certainly exclude a lot of others too, so the blog might run out of commentators in the not too distant future if it’s taken to heart.

      I’m sure there are good intentions behind this, but there is a natural dynamic that can creep in, often unconsciously, when groups are in crisis: this involves limiting the terms of discussion, selecting who speaks and restricting what they say with the aim of stopping arguments that threaten the status quo.
      The other process is to identify the problem as an aberration by an individual rather than accept that it’s also structural and happened with the complicity of others.
      If the individual is crucial to the organisation’s survival, their behaviour will be explained or even excused in language exclusive to the organisation or in terms that deflect blame or even direct it towards the victims.
      The unspoken aim is to limit damage and return to a pre-crisis state, but inevitably because the real extent and nature of the problem is never acknowledged it keeps happening and gets worse.

      This has already happened in R itself:

      It’s exactly how previous crises have been handled and SR’s behaviour subsequently degenerated to the extent of public displays. He showed clear signs of personality disorder, but instead of being exposed and getting treatment for mental health issues, students acted out this dynamic, thinking they were protecting him and the Dharma, but the strategy never works and the damage now is much greater and more people have been hurt, and the wider perception of Buddhism has also suffered.

      Individually the process driving this could be described as ‘cognitive dissonance’, a way of managing discrepancy between cherished beliefs and actual life experience that reduces immediate stress but in the long term it can be very destructive to both organisations and their members’ lives.

      Setting up the blog is good and not an easy thing to manage, I respect that and I may well be mistaken, but with all due respect there seems to be some ambiguity here that might not be fully evident to those running it.

      Like some others have said, I think there’s no realistic chance of SR’s victims getting any help at all from R, it didn’t happen in the past and it’s not going to happen now: as has been noted there’s a total focus on keeping things together to save the organisation.

      So ordinary students who are confused and disillusioned will have no choice but to help themselves too. All the principal articles that are subject to discussion here are from lamas, established teachers or people who, however well intentioned they may be, have never experienced abuse by SR or been his students. Some of them could be considered apologists.

      Anyway, seeking an external authority to solve your problems was the part of the reason
      many people became Buddhists in the first place, it’s fraught with traps . We’re a democratic society, so nobody needs anyone’s permission to criticize abuse.

      Some of the more clear-sighted comments are helpful though, because they are the product of experience rather than idealised theory.

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      1. Thanks Micheldm, you raise some important points. I was supportive of the moderators censoring some of the comments recently simply because Chris Chandler had entered the discussion and I knew from experience that her agenda can be hugely damaging. The damage is not because of her point of view, but because she listens to no one else, doesn’t give up, accepts no facts, practices deceptions and dominates blogs. Her agenda is an angry one, simply to convince people that the HHDL (and all Tibetan Buddhist lamas) are evil dictators who want to take over the minds of millions of slavish, devoted followers. My discussions with her in the past quickly became toxic. So I was concerned that such a harsh agenda would be harmful to vulnerable people here, who are struggling with their spiritual path during this time. It seemed that this space needed to be just a little protected. And I speak from experience. When I was at my lowest point over being disillusioned by lamas, the last thing I needed was a harsh nihilistic viewpoint such as Chris’s.

        Sadly, comments from others here who were engaged in conversation with Chris were also deleted, so that left a bad feeling. And sadly, the moderators then had to make a policy decision about what they had done– and about censoring comments in future. In this, I totally agree with you that the policy decision could be a slippery slope. Yes, absolutely, students need to regain their critical voice and a robust blog is good for that. And yes, any hint of censorship rings of business-as-usual in R.

        But hopefully, the moderators here will forge something of a balance. I do trust that they are wanting to give people a chance to speak out strongly and and critically and find their voices and confidence. This is a work in progress. Trust has been lost in the R establishment so it is easy to assume the worst about any censorship. But hopefully the worst will not happen and robust discussions can continue.

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      2. Since I was never a Rigpa person, I am reluctant to tell you guys what kind of blog you should have, but my reaction to the guidelines was similar to MichelDM’s. “Harsh” or “inflammatory” speech? But what could be harsher or more inflammatory than an accusation of abuse? I suppose the ban on “personal criticism” refers to criticisms of other posters, rather than public figures like Sogyal, but am not entirely sure. And what is the difference between “spreading rumors” and reporting news or experiences? (Dharma Wheel used to delete a lot of criticism of lamas on this principle–at least, until some of the rumors turned out to be perfectly true.)

        Do consider the experiences of Tricycle (including the comment boards), e-sangha, and Dharma Wheel, as well as the exes / dissidents fora for other religious groups. On the three Buddhist sites mentioned above, a great gulf emerged between the agendas of the site owners (Tricycle wanted fluff, e-sangha wanted doctrinal purity) and the rank-and-file. On this site, I’ve been watching with great interest what voices the blog owners have chosen to highlight, and which ones have been ignored or repressed (e.g. Aro), and have to wonder about the “backstage” aspects that I haven’t been able to see.

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    1. My pleasure! I’ve been reading around in Chapman’s several websites for the last couple of days, and have had to rethink my whole relationship with Buddhism.

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  8. Joanne has it right fron the moderators point of view. For those who are concerned about moderation, I think only 2 comments were deleted, and we aren’t planning on making a habit of it. And it really isn’t what you say so much as how you say it. Asking questions is a good way to get people thinking about your points without making them feel attacked.

    @micheldm You’re right about the word ‘agenda’ but actually it’s the pushing part not so much the agenda part that has people contacting us and saying that they won’t comment any more if certain people go unchecked here.

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