Is it true or is it just a rumour?

We have discovered that some rumours have been presented as fact in some Rigpa centres. We don’t know where the misinformation came from or if it is just a case of misunderstanding, but we feel that it is in everyone’s interest to stick with facts rather than hearsay and rumour, so here are some clarifications to hopefully circumvent some of the misinformation that has been circulating.

 

A few facts you should be aware of:

  • No single person wrote the email that exposed the abusive behaviour. It was a group effort made by all 8 students and worked on together over a period of time.One of the Eight said, “The eight of us spent many, many, days and hours carefully writing, suggesting edits, rewriting, discussing, rewriting, editing again, over and over and over until we felt it was done. It was a painful, exhausting process. The “response” we received from Sogyal Lakar was anticlimactic… we received an email that to my eyes appeared to have been carefully crafted by a lawyer, admitting to no wrong doing while vaguely “apologizing” for any “misunderstanding” that might have occurred. (Gary)Another said: “the letter was the result of many hours of collaborative effort and consensus. We worked diligently to make sure all our voices were heard, respected and included. We constantly checked our motivation and intent to be certain that we were on firm ground from an ethical point of view. This included not reporting anything that was not experienced personally and first hand.”  (Michael)
  • The Eight students did not scheme to discredit or overthrow SL and Rigpa. Their letter was sent only to SL himself, the Rigpa Dzogchen Mandala Students, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and some other lamas such as Mingyur Rinpoche and Dzongzar Kyentse Rinpoche. Had they wished to discredit or overthrow SL and Rigpa they would have sent the email to a mainstream newspaper, instead they purposefully kept it within the sangha, and carefully wrote only about things they had seen or experienced themselves. Later, someone unknown to them leaked the letter to a Buddhist magazine without their permission.
  • Any action or words of an individual who may be part of the group, does not represent the group as a whole.
  • Sogyal Rinpoche/Lakar (SL) has not written individually to the Eight signers of the letter that exposed the abusive behaviour. On the 18th July, he sent an email addressed to all of them that, though it was emailed to each of them, was not an individual response. They all received the same email. He has not contacted any of them since.
  • No apology has been made by either SR or Rigpa, only an acknowledgement “that there are feelings of hurt”.
  • Rigpa management have not contacted any of the Eight either individually or as a group. The only conversation occurred when one member of the Eight contacted one senior student in Lerab Ling to clarify his status after being refused entry to a Dzogchen Mandala study group.
  • The seven of the Eight are not moderators of the What Now? group and blog. One of them is a moderator of the Facebook group only.
  • The What Now? moderators have a policy of only permitting first-hand accounts of behaviour in Rigpa or accounts given to them directly by the person who experienced the behaviour. We wish to avoid hearsay, gossip and rampant negativity.
  • The What Now? moderators also do not wish to ‘bring down’, ‘overthrow’ or ‘destroy’ Sogyal Rinpoche or Rigpa. We aim to educate students and help them process the situation, and we seek full transparency and positive change.
  • It is not a Chinese plot. The attestations are true accounts of what people have actually experienced; they are backed up by many other similar complaints over the years, and many others who have since shared their testimonies in the What Now? Facebook Group or privately to one or other of the moderators.
    One moderator counted 25 first hand accounts that she alone had received, and another student mentioned hearing many complaints in her time in Rigpa.

If in doubt as to the motivation of the Eight, re-read the original letter

Anyone who questions the intentions of the Eight should first ask themselves what could they possibly stand to gain from this and then re-read the original letter in which they state: “We write to you following the advice of the Dalai Lama, in which he has said that students of Tibetan Buddhist lamas are obliged to communicate their concerns about their teacher:

‘If one presents the teachings clearly, others benefit. But if someone is supposed to propagate the Dharma and their behavior is harmful, it is our responsibility to criticize this with a good motivation. This is constructive criticism, and you do not need to feel uncomfortable doing it. In “The Twenty Verses on the Bodhisattvas’ Vows,” it says that there is no fault in whatever action you engage in with pure motivation. Buddhist teachers who abuse sex, power, money, alcohol, or drugs, and who, when faced with legitimate complaints from their own students, do not correct their behavior, should be criticized openly and by name. This may embarrass them and cause them to regret and stop their abusive behavior. Exposing the negative allows space for the positive side to increase. When publicizing such misconduct, it should be made clear that such teachers have disregarded the Buddha’s advice. However, when making public the ethical misconduct of a Buddhist teacher, it is only fair to mention their good qualities as well.’ The Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India March 1993”

Then they go on to say that “A number of us have raised with you privately, our concerns about your behavior in recent years, but you have not changed.”

In line with His Holiness’s advice, the What Now? blog aims to walk the middle way of honouring the good SL has done, while being clear that ethical misconduct has occurred.

 

How do the authors of the letter feel about the situation now?

“Personally, I am both astounded and saddened at the frantic efforts by so many to discredit our efforts to bring light to the dark underbelly of Rigpa’s inner circle. Our original intent was to effect positive change in order to save Rigpa, but to date, the official response seems to be obfuscation and the maintaining of the status quo. The “unofficial” response has been an outpouring of personal stories from many, many members and former members of instances of wrong-doing and abusive behavior by the Rigpa hierarchy and Sogyal Lakar.” (Gary)

 

Another (Michael) said: I find it sad that not one person from an official position has ever contacted me to ask me about the letter or any support I may need as I am still a Rigpa member. I feel that there is a conscious effort not to clarify or investigate so as to keep things cloudy and gray. Most of this innuendo can be cleared up in seconds.”

 

Another angle on motivation and intention

In a recent post on her Facebook timeline about an article by Martha Beck on freeing your heart, one of the moderators of the What Now? Facebook group said, “This article really resonated with me. This is why I do what I do; I follow my heart. And I know the sense of clarity of which Martha speaks. The desire to make people aware of the full picture in the Rigpa debacle comes directly from my heart.”

In the article Martha Beck says, “Our hearts are imprisoned for just one reason: The only language they can speak is truth. Unlike the mind, which can be persuaded to accept the most bizarre ideas (“Look, it’s the Hale-Bopp comet! Time to kill yourself!), your heart tells it like it is, without bothering to be tactful or socially appropriate. Free hearts rock boats, break rules, do things that disrupt the system—whether that system is a dysfunctional family, a bloated bureaucracy, or the whole wide world.”

“A heart is imprisoned not by being broken but by being silenced.”

Read the article here: http://marthabeck.com/2011/09/set-it-free/


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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51 thoughts on “Is it true or is it just a rumour?

  1. Thanks for correcting the misinformation. It’s such a painful and delicate situation. Misinformation just contributes further to schisms in the sangha. it’s good to hear from some of the eight!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for clarifying this.It’s a crucial point. During the dzogchen retreat in LL, I heard people asking such questions as:Why did they write so many lies? What’s their aim? I don’t understand?etc.I recently had a talk with a person who lives near LL and often practises in LL.She also told me:I don’t understand, she was sincere.She was at a loss.There is a misunderstanding about the reasons why the letter was written.I suggest writing another letter saying, for example, “We wanted the harm to stop, we wanted to protect you, we wanted to be able to join Rigpa again and study with you etc…”There are so many thing you could say to try and be heard. Why not try?????

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    1. I would suggest reading the letter again.

      The reasons it was written are very clearly stated, along with the changes that need to happen.

      Of course, there are people who refuse to even read it, and instructors who have advised against reading it. So it is understandable that they will be confused.

      https://www.lionsroar.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Letter-to-Sogyal-Lakar-14-06-2017-.pdf

      If there needs to be another letter, it won’t be from just the eight this time.

      Like

  3. Dear Ladybird,
    I can see your confusion… I do not relate to the dismissal you seem to express in your respond regarding what they díd actually say. It seems you are blaming the apparent broader confusion on the people you are adressing in your post; the 8 who wrote the letter to Sogyal and Rigpa. It seems to me your respond directly reflects the misundertandings and mistrust regarding their motivation, honosty and sincerety that is causing them to write the above. So i suggest you read it again very carefully with an open mind. Best wishes to you.

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    1. @Ann Hart Please do share it widely. As RH says, it’s a public blog. Everything here is information that we believe Rigpa students need to have access to.

      Like

  4. I think for many longterm students it is very difficult to change their opinion. If SL was the only teacher you ever had and you relied fully upon him, it is difficult to give him up. You get confused or even helpless. One may have thought he had pure view and then some people tell, it is abuse. One has to ask himself: Why did not I see the abuse? Am I also guilty by not seeing? That is very confronting. People do not like to hear painful truths. It is more comfortable to deny it or say the 8 were wrong. It is the problem of the whistleblowers, they often have to leave the organization. (Shoot the Messenger). But I am very greatful to them, they had the courage to tell the truth. However I lost my sangha. I heard from other sanghamembers, that now there is a special evening for students who do not want to leave the sangha because of the friends they made there. They have a meditation evening but they do not want to see videos of SL. Very complicated.
    Rumours come from students who cannot stand the truth. There is not a lot to do about that.

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  5. It still baffles me how anyone got burned by Sogyal Rinpoche. He was just so easy to read: gifted, if not blessed, moody, testy and polyamorous in the extreme.

    Where was the mystery? I repeat: Where was the mystery?

    Can someone please help me to understand this?

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    1. Matt, you make the same kind of comment on every blog, on the facebook group, on people’s facebook page.

      I think everyone gets that you don’t get it, or don’t want to get it.

      That’s fine. You should just move on so. No answer is ever sufficient for you. You always make your point that you weren’t deceived. Congratulations! Why not give yourself a gold star?

      🌟

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        1. @Matt Morse Calling it a ‘blame game’ is a way to dismiss the conversation, but no one is blaming here, we are having a conversation designed to bring about needed change in an organisation and clarification of the religion. We aren’t even talking about Sogyal Rinpoche in this post, this is about the sangha and their unwillingness to see what is clearly evident to people outside the sangha.

          I was not abused, but that does not mean that others were not abused or that I should not concern myself with doing whatever I can to help them to heal and the organisation that caused it to root out the cause of the problem. And the fact that I see that does not mean that I don’t also see what benefit I and others gained from my time with SR.

          What I don’t understand is how people who claim to be Buddhists appear to have no concern for those who were harmed. Those running the organisation have not even reached out to them! And there are files of complaints going back decades. How could they not have cared for these people?

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          1. Moonfire – true enough…I have largely dismissed the conversation.

            Sogyal Rinpoche was a wild and crazy man, he hurt some people (victims) and now he’s retired.

            The great lesson in all of this is that each Dharma student has to be more discerning when it comes to choosing all-powerful teachers and groupthink spiritual communities.

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  6. I personally think, the letter of the 8 was as clear and direct as it could possibily be. I cannot imagine bringing the point across more clearly.
    So if people are then still chosing to stay in deny one has to accept that. Maybe they need more time and will be ready to accept the truth at a later time. Then life will provide another opportunity for them.
    Everyone in Rigpa has to move through this learning-process for him- or herself and in his or her own speed, and the people in higher positions in Rigpa have probably a much harder time, because they have more to lose than a Rigpa-student somewhere in a distant sangha, who still has a life, a job and a familiy outside of Rigpa.
    I feel it is such an amazing accomplisment that the 8 have written that letter and that through this blog and the facebook-group Rigpa-students who need help can now have it.
    And thank you so much for correcting the rumours! And I also appreciate to hear from the 8.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This post says, “we aim to educate students and help them process the situation and we seek full transparency and positive change.” One author of the letter says “our original intent was to effect positive change in order to save Rigpa.”

    LadyBird suggests the letter writers could say, “we wanted the harm to stop… We wanted to be able to join Rigpa again and study with you…” Tiny says, “I heard …there is a special evening for students who do not want to leave the sangha…They have a meditation evening but they do not want to see videos of SL.”

    Personally, I am a longterm student of Sogyal Rinpoche. The people who signed the letter believe that people have been harmed and they want the harm to stop. I agree that people have been harmed and I also want the harm to stop. I would like to do whatever is most appropriate to help people heal.

    However, it seems to me that people have widely varying opinions of what this means, varying images of what they want to see happen within Rigpa. I’d like to ask you all, when you say you want to see positive change in Rigpa, what does that mean? “To join Rigpa again and study with you…” What would be needed to make that happen?

    There are a substantial number of Rigpa students who’ve found that the debate over Sogyal Rinpoche has strengthened their commitment. There are a substantial number of Rigpa students who value the teachings they received in the past, but are dismayed by the July 14 letter and no longer consider Sogyal Rinpoche their teacher. And as Tiny mentions, there are some people who want to continue as part of the sangha, but without watching videos of Sogyal Rinpoche.

    I consider Sogyal Rinpoche my heart teacher and that isn’t going to change. Even though you may have a different viewpoint, are you willing to sit alongside me at sangha meetings – can we still pray together?

    I want to attend Rigpa retreats that include videotapes of Sogyal Rinpoche, teachings from other masters, and our traditional practices. If you don’t want to watch Sogyal Rinpoche, if you don’t want to practice Tendrel Nyesel, that’s fine with me. I do intend to continue learning from the videotape archive – I intend to continue doing the practices I’ve learned. Is that fine with you?

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    1. @Sunflower I can only speak for myself, but of course that is fine by me. My perception of others in the What Now? group is that that would also be fine by them. No one I know is trying to stop people from practicing their Rigpa practices or watch videos of SR. If your devotion is strengthened, that’s also fine. Of course I can sit with other members of the sangha; they will always be my vajra brother and sisters, just as Sr will always be my tsawe lama, even if I no longer take teachings from him. It hurts that so many of the sangha have tried to shut down communications despite Sr and the management’s desire that we open up and hear each other.

      What I do want is for the sangha to admit that some members of their sangha have experienced abuse and have not been cared for by either their teacher or their sangha. Following that, I want an apology from Rigpa management for the harm caused. I also want them to look deeply at the beliefs that allowed this to happen and to re-examine if they understood those beliefs in a healthy way. I’m not asking anyone to abandon their beliefs or their teacher or sangha, just to take teachings from other teachers who explain those beliefs in a way that does not demand we leave our discernment at the door, a way that reflects Western sensibilities and is firmly grounded in a broad view of the Buddhist teachings, not just on the word of one lama. Look out for the next post here which will be on this topic.

      As for the curriculum, it will need to have teachings by other teachers, not just because some students will not want to watch Sr again, but also because Sr wants the organisaton to become truly Rime, which means taking a broad view. The curriculum will also need to be more grounded in the foundation and mahayana vehicles, so that students do not rush into Vajrayana before they have a real understanding of how it works and what is involved. The emphasis on taking empowerments and participating in sadhanas will need to be re-examined in light of this, but that doesn’t mean that those who are presently doing them should stop, not at all. They can keep going, but it shouldn’t be something everyone is expected to do. The whole situation needs to be much more fluid and individually orientated. There are a huge number of teachings of SR on video that students can watch over and over if they want, but they do not need to be the only teachings offered. Students will benefit from teachings by other lamas. Why do you think Sr invited all those lamas to LL?

      Work practices and expectations will also need to be evaluated to make sure that the working environment is healthy for everyone, and bad habits that contribute to volunteer’s health issues will need to be dropped. Care clearly needs a complete overhaul because it has failed spectacularly. Probably everyone should do compassion practices for a while and practice actually caring for each other, most especially those they may like to call ‘trouble makers.’ Are they not our best teachers?

      From my perspective, none of this threatens what is already there. It only improves it. It clarifies core beliefs and extends Rigpa to make it more relevant to a wider range of students. If these changes don’t happen, then there is no place in Rigpa for anyone with humanitarian ideals ( which would be the majority of Western spiritual seekers). For so long as the Rigpa sangha appears to be a bunch of people who don’t understand the importance of ethics on the spiritual path, how can it be a true Buddhist vehicle? We are talking here, not about whether or not we do sadhana practice, but just how well we understand the teachings. And instead of arguing over our interpretations as has happened in the early days of the social media conversations, we could simply read or listen to many lamas talking on these topics and take the view that is most healthy for the modern situation.

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      1. Moonfire, as I mentioned in my comment below, your vision for a future Rigpa is really inspiring and I thank you for sharing. This vision gives me hope for the future of Dharma Centers in the West, centers where Western students themselves will take more of a leadership role, in terms of organizational structures and community building.

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      2. @Moonfire

        I agree with so many of the things you say. In particular:
        ** broad curriculum with teachings by other teachers
        ** curriculum to be grounded in the foundation and mahayana vehicles (this is already embodied in the most recent version of the Rigpa curriculum)
        ** sadhana practice continues but not as something everyone is expected to do
        ** whole situation needs to be much more fluid and individually orientated
        ** work practices re-evaluated so that the working environment is healthy for everyone

        Let me add one item that’s not on your list. My perception is that over the years communications to SR have been somewhat filtered. There’s been a tendency to emphasize praise, based on the desire to encourage him to give more teachings. Comments about difficulties were probably less likely to reach him. In the future I hope Rigpa will emphasize honest communications, even when that means we have to talk about difficult situations.

        Many of these changes are already underway and are widely supported in the discussions that have been going on throughout the summer retreats.

        However, you also mention something I think is not likely in the near future. You say “I want an apology from Rigpa management for the harm caused.”

        I see posts on various websites saying that Rigpa should be destroyed, that Sogyal Rinpoche should be put in jail. Under these circumstances prudent managers must consider every word very carefully.

        Your response encouraged me so much!! but I wasn’t able to respond immediately because I was traveling. In the meantime, I think I’ve seen about 50 posts (on this website and others) predicting that the Rigpa organization will never change. Posts asking why there hasn’t been a stronger, more immediate response from the organization.

        My perception is: the July 14 letter arrived while Lerab Ling was hosting a ngondro retreat. Then there was a one-month retreat for Dzogchen Mandala students, followed by about three weeks of teachings by Khenpo Namdrol. It’s not surprising if the people currently coordinating Rigpa (who have suddenly stepped into difficult, unexpected roles and responsibilities) focused primarily on the needs of the retreatants.

        I think you will see changes in the Rigpa organization over time. I expect to advocate for those changes and to be part of those changes. I think there are many people who are committed to the Rigpa organization, who see the need for changes and the opportunity for change to really happen.

        For those who are doubtful, I hope you will maintain an open-minded viewpoint a while longer. Please include us in your prayers, that needed changes may happen auspiciously and in a way that includes and meets the needs of as many people as possible.

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  8. Moonfire, I appreciate your ideas, it would be great if things could change. But the problem is, that is needs a power struggle. As an ordinary sanghamember it is almost impossible to change the organization. For that, you have to be in a leading top position. Westerners are brought up with humanitarian values but what about Tibetan lamas. They are very hierarchical and want the absolute power. Unless you are a saint, you do not give up your power and privileges voluntarily. What about building big expensive temples? Do Westerners really want this or only when we are manipulated by the lama?

    Another question: You speak about rushing into Vajrayana. I followed the R. curriculum fully and entered then almost automatically into Vajrayana. I trusted my inspectors that it was good for me. But now I think I skip the Vajrayana totally until I have a higher level and until I really know what it is all about. Is it for enlightenment, is it to impress Westerners, is it for power? In Tibet tantra was only for advanced practitioners. Only for a little group invited by the lama. The lama checked their improvements. How is it possible to get V. in such huge members? In the Dzogchen mandala retreat are always more thant 1000 students.

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    1. @Tiny,
      Maybe I sound cynical, but I believe that have good reason to be. I think the numbers in Vajrayana are big because almost everyone wants to get into the Vajrayana. The teachings are “juicy” (I am not just talking about the sex) and it feels special to be included in the “highest” teachings. Also, since the lamas often stress how Tantra is a faster, superior path to enlightenment than sutra, everyone wants to practice the best, right? In addition to that, the hint of secret sexual practices makes it all the more attractive for many. Since students have to give $$$ for these classes and retreats, it brings in a lot of money for the teachers. I think that’s the real reason that lamas are so willing to allow many (unqualified) people into Vajrayana. It’s a real money-maker. For the predatory lamas like Sogyal, (I am not saying ALL lamas are like Sogyal, although there are quite a few who are more or less like him on some levels), it is an easy way to attract “dakinis” for their sexual adventures. I realize that tantra *should* be just for a few advanced students, but the way it works out in real life is quite different.

      Like

  9. Thanks Catlover. You are very clear about Vajrayana. I think I skip my tantra practices. I think I am not qualified for it. SL did not check anything. It is really scandalous that lamas give tantra especially for the money or the sex. It means that several lamas are not pure if one uses the Vajrayana to get a lot of money. How can one be a rinpoche when one is greedy, it is not according to the dharma. They sell their religion as if it were bread.

    Like

  10. In tricycle daily on 20-9-2017 How R. can redeem itself after SR’ resignation? By Lobsang Rapgay.
    An interesting article.

    Like

  11. I have to admit that I start myself to question the level of corruption of the whole tibetan system. The number of lamas who stood up with integrity is just too small. The western world is not Asia and those archaic problems are surreal in our modern world.
    The Dalai-lama with his intent to reform seems pratically alone. This whole situation is unacceptable. How can you find a pure lineage within all this mess?

    If these situation doesn’t evolve, I will follow just a few spiritual leaders and continue my practice but I will keep my distances from Tibetan Buddhism and its customs. I don’t want to be a part of all this perversion of the Dharma. The Rinpoches and lamas don’t show enough integrity and respect for basic ethics. So basically, I will stay in a kind of modern cave as far as I can from “tibetan buddhists”.

    Like

    1. FO, this is the decision I was forced to make twelve years ago. After leaving Rigpa, I tried studying and practicing with other centers, but was burned by them as well. Now, every time I step foot in a Dharma center I recoil, faced with the power dynamic and realizing how little is changed. So now, I study on my own with HHDL, practice a tiny Tantric commitment I have with him, and practice being of service to others as best I can.

      It has appalled me, in the context of what I knew of lama abuses, that HH has been the ONLY lama over the years to speak out and acknowledge that there even exists a problem with lama abuse and also advise students on what to do about it.

      After saying that, I am inspired by what is happening here. I was really really inspired reading Moodfire’s last comment about her/his vision for the future of Rigpa. Every Rigpa trouble that I have identified over the past twenty years was addressed in that vision. In this vision, less emphasis will be place on one single, powerful lama– and more emphasis will be place on the Dharma itself, on better education and a broader, more inclusive curriculum. In addition, that horrible problem of throwing students into the deep end of Vajrayana would also be addressed. And most important, the Buddha’s precious ethical ground will be re-established.

      It is tragically ironical to me that SR was the first lama to provide me with this quote from the Buddha, a quote I have never forgotten:

      ‘Commit not a single unwholesome action,
      Cultivate a wealth of virtue,
      To tame this mind of ours,
      This is the teaching of the Buddha.’

      Like

  12. This is what we need in the west: Vajrayana with ethics. The rest of the circus and business is cultural, societal but not about becoming a Buddha. We don’t need to go back 400 years ago, just because the transmission of the vajrayana went through Tibet.

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    1. The problem is that ‘Vajrayana with ethics’ wouldn’t STAY ‘Vajrayana with ethics.’ Humans would mess it up and turn it into something else sooner or later, as they do with everything. Even in the traditional Tibetan Tantra, the ethics and rules seem to be quite strict already, yet it is still corrupted. If you study the vows, (which I did after taking empowerments), it seems like there could be no room for any kind of abuse or corruption because everything is covered. The 14 root vows do not cancel out the Bodhisattva and Refuge vows. If you break the other vows, it’s a violation of the tantric vows too. Yet at the same time, there are things in some of the teachings which are used to justify bad behavior and those things will always be used as excuses, no matter how much ‘ethics’ you put in. If the ethics actually took hold in the West and we really did have something called “Vajrayana with ethics” then the ‘crazy wisdom’ stuff would just go underground and become more secret. It would still exist and it might even be worse because they wouldn’t have it out in the open for all to see.

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      1. I don’t really agree catlover because most religions have strong ethics foundations. Of course after men misbehave. But this is recognized as misdeeds and those foundations are not corrupted.

        There will be always crazy people and corruption. The problem is when it is not anymore marginal (say 5% of the lamas) but becomes the norm (like more than 80%). Then a reform of the system is necessary.
        By the way, according to the classics, making a business of the dharma is not OK.

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        1. @French observer,

          Tibetan Buddhism does have a strong ethical foundation, even Tantra. The problem is that they don’t seem to read their tantric vows, lol! If ALL the tantric vows were understood and followed strictly, there would be no problem, (in an ideal world). These vows are actually very strict, if they are actually followed. It’s possible that at some point, all the vows are cancelled out and the lamas no longer have to follow any rules. I don’t know, but it sure seems that way sometimes.

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          1. @catlover, I have found the chapter about samayas in Rainbow Painting from Tulku Urgyen as an informative source.

            In fact at the beginning it is impossible to respect your samayas and you need to always repair them. This is a very intensive practice. The more enlightened you are, the more “naturally” you follow them.

            As I said, the problem is when misdeeds and corruption become the norms.

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        2. The other aspect of Tibetan Buddhist ethics, one that I like a lot but has room for lots of abuse, is their exceptions clauses. If there is reason to believe that acting against an ethical law would cause more benefit than harm, it is permitted. In the Mahayana context, it is mandated (e.g. if going against a vow will help a sentient being it is required). So the man would lie to the hunter about which way the deer went in order to save the deer’s life. That is clear, no problem. But then I sat through a town board meeting while monastery officials lied to the town in order to obtain a permit to build their huge monastery expansion. I question this– but in their minds, the temple was a higher good. So the very precious quality of Buddhism– that it doesn’t lay down narrow-minded, black and white laws, is also what gives people room to abuse.

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          1. Once more disappointed by Tibetans. Of course you have to abide the rules in the country. I think there is also a statement of the Buddha that says so. You should avoid conflicts and accommodate to the new country. What they did, may work sometimes, but at the end buddhism gets a very bad reputation. Also people live near the temple that do not have anything to do with buddhism. They will become angry and protest.

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  13. I am also very much disappointed with the Tibetans. I wonder whether HHDL is the only pure person. Is not that a kind of worship? Do you know him personally? How can you judge him? What about the Dorje Shugden? It cannot be all false what they say? There seems to be a lot of conflict and agression in the Tibetan community about it? This does not have to do with freedom of religion and with pacifism.

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    1. Tiny, yes the slandering of the DL etc is most definitely “all false”, whilst worldly truths, being subjective, are always in the eye of the beholder. The practice you refer to is particularly harmful to devotees of Guru Rinpoche whilst it seems to bring good luck to its followers, at least for a period of time. I’m pretty sure the organisers and participants of this blog don’t wish to engage in a discussion of Shugden worship so i suggest you hop along to tenpel’s blog, https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/ where you can get your fill on this topic (tenpel is a survivor of NKT).

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      1. “worldly thruths being subjective are Always in the eye of the beholder. you wrote matilda. But we live in the relative world with relative truth. You change from relative to absolute truth. In the absolute truth nothing is good nor bad.It is beyond duality. Even SL is not bad nor good in the absolute truth. But in the relative world you have to judge with your relative mind.

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        1. Yes exactly. I actually changed my wording from ‘relative’ to ‘worldly’ as I was getting at the subjective nature of the slander that has been thrown at the Dalai Lama by the NKT, etc. Yes he ‘banned’ the practice of Shugden but for very sound reasons.

          For what it’s worth, while i can warm to the current DL, I’m not so keen on actions carried out, possibly in his name, in previous times. The Kagyus always point to the destruction of their stupas by Gelug monks during the previous DL’s incarnation (i think this occured in Lhasa, but the stupas were associated with the Karma Kagyu, i can’t find a credible reference for this now, but it is often recalled by some Karma Kagyu teachers).

          There’s a few things the current Dalai Lama has said that i have been disappointed in but generally he’s been a wise figurehead for TB and an inspiring presence on the global stage. His contribution in the current crisis has certainly been a breath of fresh air.

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  14. I was happy with DL contribution on SL behaviour. But why did it take so long time? He once said that he would not come to lamas who abused their students sexually, but he came to the opening of LL. I do not understand why the DL always gave initiations to all people during his teachings. No warning for people that they engage in Tantra, not even for the kalachakra tantra. I studied 20 years with the gelugs. Geshes always warned us not to take initiations too easily because of the negative effects (hells and so on). Who understands this?

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    1. Tiny, if thé people don’t visualize and understand what’s going on, nothing is really going on in their mind. If you go on dharmawheel forum, you will find a wealth of information on most of those subjects.

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    2. If the Dalai Lama said he wasn’t going to visit any lamas who engage in sexual abuse, then the list of lamas he *can* visit is very small indeed, lol! 😀

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    3. When did he say that Tiny? (that he wouldn’t come to lamas who abused their students sexually)?. I’ve never heard him say that or anything like that. Maybe you can direct me to where he said that?

      And about HH giving empowerments, he gives plenty of warnings and frequently no commitments. People are always given the option to receive a blessing instead of an empowerment (because there are often people from other religions present etc.) and if commitments are given (I’ve only seen this once), they are very clear.– and also, those without prior highest yoga tantric empowerments are told they will simply be receiving a blessing. He will not give people their first highest yoga tantra initiation, and that’s the one with the heavy duty vows and commitments (such as Kalachakra). I was at a highest yoga initiation with him and I simply received it as a blessing. No problem, no commitment.

      Also, I think HH waited to speak out himself until Rigpa students came forward with their concerns– as he had instructed students to do. Until then, it was mainly allegations from outside of Rigpa. And if you look at what is happening now– silence from most TB lamas and two Nyingma lamas condemning the letter signatories– HH is really alone in speaking out, accompanied only by Mingyur Rinpoche, and really he doesn’t have power over what happens inside Rigpa. From the way things are looking, I think in the end he’s only going to be able to offer support and guidance to those students who are leaving Rigpa.

      So there would have been absolutely no point in him speaking out earlier based on allegations and with no significant concerns being raised from within Rigpa. Even as it is now, I think it is quite extraordinary how lamas are actively rebuking his position on this. They are taking no notice of him and his stance on this.

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      1. Joanne, again you react with suspicion when somebody has critics on HHDL. Why do not you accept that he is not a saint without any failures. Whenever you do not want to believe critics, you ask for proof. Is that to make suspicion on the writer? I do not ask you whether you have proof that HHDL always explains what the initiation is all about. I have been several times to teachings of HHDL and he never explained the initiations .
        That the DL did not want to go to lamas who had sexual abuse, was maybe said on a meeting when you were not there. I have it from Namkha rinpoche. Probably it was no a meeting of lamas.

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        1. Tiny, my suspicions are grounded in years of experience. Years first investigating the allegations made by the NKT protestors and then in “discussions” with Chris Chandler. Only recently, I received a vicious diatribe from Chris in my inbox– a comment she made here that was quickly deleted. I welcome those who are seriously questioning and I try to be not blind in my admiration towards HH– but I also don’t like it when people come on with an agenda. (Which I am not accusing you of)

          And my question regarding his alleged comment that he would not visit lamas who sexually abused students is simply because it is not something I could imagine him saying. It isn’t his type of comment, that’s all.

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  15. HHDL mentioned SR again in his teaching just now in Riga Latvia. In the context of assessing the qualifications of a teacher and in the context of feudalism and after telling a story of Patrol Rinpoche. Again, saying he was “disgraced.” and saying definitively that he abused students. I don’t have exact quote.

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      1. Here, Catlover:

        His Holiness said, via translator, in Riga:

        “So, Sogyal Rinpoche was disgraced recently in America and so he may be learned but without any practice and experience of the teaching. Therefore being… abusing disciples… deceiving them. And so there were people in Taiwan and other places, in Tibet also this happens.”

        It starts from minute 2:24:30. (however, to get the full context of the comment, it is good to start earlier on)

        Day 1 of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s two day teaching on Kamalashila’s “The Middling Stages of Meditation” and Tsongkhapa’s “Concise Stages of the Path to Enlightenment” at Skonto Hall in Riga, Latvia on September 23-24, 2017.

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  16. Thanks for the link, Joanne. I’m glad he is speaking out on this, more than once. It does seem like he is quite a lone voice, along with Mingyur Rinpoche, and a few Westerners as well.

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