The Abuse Continues. Upper Management Must Resign.

The section on Lotsawa House’s posting of an article on Samaya was edited 9th October.

Please note that this article does not represent the feelings of all members of the What Now? group.

Sogyal Rinpoche has resigned from teaching and from Rigpa, so the discussion has moved away from him and onto Rigpa as an organisation. The question became, “What are they going to do about it?” It’s been partially answered by their stated initiatives to institute a code of conduct, employ a third party to conduct an investigation, and form a new spiritual advisory body, which all sounds very nice, but the question as to how far these changes will actually go is still open, and it’s not looking hopeful that it will go very deep.

Senior students behaving abusively

What is clear is that some senior members of the organisation have, since these attestations of abuse came to light, further abused not only those who spoke out but also those who have supported those who spoke out. The 8 and many of their supporters have received both public and private abusive messages on Facebook, abusive emails and even abusive phone calls, and these are invariably from long term students.

Students close to SR have called them samaya-breakers (with the insinuated threat that they will go to hell,) have complained that they harmed the students spiritual path and the Vajrayana, called them arrogant, uncaring, ignorant, misguided and more. Though they have also received many communications of support, the abusive communications come always from those who are remaining in the organisation. Their concern has been entirely on protecting SL and their belief in him as an enlightened being.

Some of those who felt abused while within the organisation are feeling further abused due to this hurtful behaviour. Some who never felt abused while within the organisation are now feeling abused, not by SL, but by such students. One wonders what they actually learned, certainly this behaviour is not in accord with the Buddha’s teachings.

Why upper management must resign

It is clear from the attestations of abuse gathered over the years (see links in the Reference Material page) that those in upper management not only knew about the abuse (how could they not?) but also enabled it and covered it up. Clearly they didn’t see it as abuse, so with such a distorted view, how can they possibly be objective with the results of any investigation?

Evidence that they have not changed their attitude came in a disparaging message sent to one of the Eight from one of the members of the top level of management in Rigpa. It was not an official communication, just a personal message from one individual to another. However, this knee-jerk response to an email about an unrelated topic indicates that this person is in no position to make measured decisions when it comes to Rigpa’s future.

These people cannot be trusted to lead this organisation. If Rigpa is truly to regain public trust, the present upper management must resign. For so long as they are there, nothing that comes from Rigpa can be taken at face value.

An example that might show that Rigpa’s official position on Lama devotion/worship has not changed is the recent posting from Lotsawa House, A Brief Guide to Samaya Commitment by Lala Sonam Chödrup in which it is stated: “Avoid contradicting anything the guru says, even if it is seemingly unrelated to the Dharma. … Consider any critical comments or reprimands as a Dharma teaching and take them to heart. If the guru is in residence nearby, do not embark on anything independently without seeking his or her approval. Whatever the guru says, guard it carefully as if your very life were at stake, and carry it out unfailingly….”

Edited 9th October
Some of the What Now? group wondered why this was posted now, and suspected it was to guide students as to the ‘correct’ understanding?  However a spokesperson for Lotsawa House told me that he decided to post that translation without any contact with anyone from Rigpa’s management, senior or otherwise because there was a lot of discussion online about the meaning of samaya, and seemingly some confusion as to what you might call the traditional Tibetan viewpoint.

He went on to say that Lotsawa House tries, whenever possible, to provide authoritative sources on various topics as a reference for students of Tibetan Buddhism in general and that he chose that text (together with another text which deals with samaya from an absolute perspective) because it is relatively short and more interesting than other works which typically consist of long lists of one category of samaya breakage after another. How people interpret the texts Lotsawa House publishes is obviously beyond our control. But if anyone has been using them to condemn or even abuse others that is not only wrong, it is contrary to what Lotsawa House’s main advisor, Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, sees as the central purpose of the Dharma: i.e. a way to look at oneself, not a way to view the supposed faults of others.

I am extremely pleased to have this clarification and are very grateful to Lotsawa House for their willingness to contact us.

 

Cult-like behaviour

Added to this outright abuse, unsuitability of their leaders to lead, and indications that Rigpa is sticking to the very beliefs that allowed the abuse to occur is observable cultic behaviour. If Rigpa wishes to be seen as a genuine dharma organisation not a cult, management needs to address the following issues.

  1. What we are seeing is only the appearance of openness and communication, because members of the What Now? facebook group have reported that underpinning the apparent openness in many (not all) centres and individuals is defensiveness, passive aggression and attachment to rigid beliefs which means that even where there is listening, there is little hearing, and even where there is hearing, there is not the will to act on what is heard. And there is little actual communication in that though students say how they feel they get no or little response back, just vague soothing words.
  2. People in Rigpa centres are talking, yes, but discussion is in a highly controlled fashion, kept strictly to set questions and allowable responses – eg sharing only feelings and personal stories not broader concerns – and only within the context of set workshops with set parameters. Many students frustrated with this limited discussion and faced with antagonism (sometimes veiled sometimes overt) from other students have left.
  3. Online, official and unofficial Rigpa groups have been shut down or tightly controlled, immediately ejecting anyone who is seen to be questioning beliefs or saying anything ‘negative’ about the organisation or Sogyal. This shows dogmatism and intolerance towards different thinking.Efforts by some to bridge the gap between reformists and fundamentalists have met with silence from those who support the status quo or thinly veiled aggression.
    Some people are banned from certain groups simply because they are known to be part of the What Now? group. They are not even given a chance to say something positive. It’s the ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ mentality that allows no room for those with a moderate approach and removes all dissenters.This behaviour indicates that there is no real interest in healing the rift between the reformist and fundamentalist factions. Reformists are being made to feel unwanted. Once they all leave, there will be no impetus to change from within.
  4. Limiting information to only that that supports the existing culture. The only information being shared within the organisation and on social media from associated Lamas reinforces the culture that allowed SR’s behaviour to go unchecked for decades. We’ve seen statements on samaya from ‘respected’ Lamas associated with Rigpa that lack any compassion for the victims and, given the present circumstances, look a lot like victim blaming, scare tactics to keep people in line, and support existing power structures. Since Rigpa has not responded by saying that those statements do not necessarily reflect the approach of the organisation, or released other teachings that provide a broader perspective, then these are seen as the official position.Links to His Holiness’s replies to specific questions on this exact situation from the Western Dharma Teachers conference in 1993 have not been shared with the whole sangha. Why not? What do they have to fear from a Lama who says you can speak up without fear of going to vajra hell so long as you keep respect for the person and the good you received?
  5. Denigrating those who are seen as negative and making them feel guilty. The victim blaming continues and is supported by the messages to the sangha from the Lamas mentioned above. One, in speaking about demons and negative forces, virtually demonised those who had spoken up. This has gone as far as dismissing criticism from Lamas previously treated as supporters such as HHDL.
  6. Personal attacks on those who have spoken up or who have supported those who have spoken up have come from all levels of individuals from within the organisation.
  7. Evidence of brainwashing in those who use beliefs as a reason to deny that the attested behaviour constitutes abuse, despite the fact that any normal Westerner has no difficulty assigning that term to the behaviours outlined in the letter.

These points are only those that are easily observable by any student. What is happening at the core of the organisation is, as before, not something the ordinary student knows about. But certainly leaving is not so easy when you are financially dependent on the organisation and important to it.

 

Still a complete lack of concern for those who feel harmed.

There has been no apology and no indication of concern for those who feel harmed, just communications that have clearly been checked by a lawyer in order to protect the organisation and the people involved.

They failed in their duty of care to the people who felt abused and they are still failing now. Remember that nothing official has been said to the Eight from management, no enquiries as to their present well-being. Nothing. The organisation is involved in discussions with members on cultural change, but they are not including those most able to see the problem.

The way Rigpa has acted since they received the letter from the Eight goes a long way to confirming that everything in that letter is real.

Is this a healthy environment for walking the spiritual path?

Rigpa students must decide two things: whether they can in all conscience still receive teachings from SL (Rigpa uses video recordings in their courses) and whether they can stay in a community where senior students use abusive language to threaten and demean those who question, and where upper management are the very people who enabled and covered up the abuse for decades. Such behaviour shows a personal lack of commitment to ethics at the core of the organisation.

Is there still a chance they could turn this around?

Only if those at the centre of the organisation for the last few decades resign and are replaced with people who are willing to apologise.


Be sure to check out the What Now? Reference Material 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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78 thoughts on “The Abuse Continues. Upper Management Must Resign.

  1. Are we the problem?

    It seems that much of the posts in “What Now?” and “How Did it Happen?” already think they have the answer and that the answer lies elsewhere. The problem is either in the institutions, in the teacher, in the organization, etc., but the problem isn’t looked for in ourselves.

    When times are good, this works in reverse. The Tibetans are amazing, the teacher is beyond words and so powerful, the people running the organization are so kind.

    However, if we were to notice how we treat one another when times are good or bad, we might see the discord and disharmony lies just below the surface with each of us and how we relate to one another.

    It might not be the Teacher or institution that needs to take a radically different approach, but ourselves.

    “Drawing from long histories of creative resistance and generative living in even the worst circumstances, people everywhere found themselves profoundly tired of waiting of external, never materializing solutions to local and systemic problems.”
    — Donna Haraway, Staying With the Trouble, p. 137.

    “If you had a considerable number of people who really could see through this, they would have an effect immensely beyond any one person. We don’t really know how much impact this will have, but there are real possibilities. There is currently a great deal of cynicism and pessimism about the human race, which has its point. But this cynicism can easily become false. The human race has great possibilities, which are being destroyed by some rather trivial things.”
    — David Bohm, On Dialogue, p. 94

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    1. Let’s not forget what started all this – a man corrupted by power. That is the problem, not the students he duped. Those writing this blog are human; they don’t pretend to be otherwise, and emotions are part of that. It appears to me that the people writing this blog are ordinary students of a religion they thought they could trust; their teacher destroyed their trust by behaving in an unethical way, and on top of that those they thought were friends and reliable leaders are further destroying their trust in their community. Of course they are disappointed. They have good reason to be.

      But those leading an organisation through this kind of scandal need to be above reproach – just as their teacher should have been beyond reproach. Shareholders in a normal business wouldn’t have their trust restored for so long as those in leadership roles had this kind of conflict of interest. It’s the same here; if they really want trust restored, management has to do a lot more to achieve it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Moonfire,

    Thank you for calling these behaviors into question. They are not acceptable on the part of people who are in key leadership roles. I know not everyone in Rigpa management acts in these ways. But if they do, it’s highly questionable if they can oversee the independent investigation in a clear and object way. Of course, we all need to work with our own minds too. There’s no question about that.

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  3. “Online, official and unofficial Rigpa groups have been shut down or tightly controlled, immediately ejecting anyone who is seen to be questioning beliefs or saying anything ‘negative’ about the organisation or Sogyal. This shows dogmatism and intolerance towards different thinking.
    Efforts by some to bridge the gap between reformists and fundamentalists have met with silence from those who support the status quo or thinly veiled aggression.
    Some people are banned from certain groups simply because they are known to be part of the What Now? group. They are not even given a chance to say something positive. It’s the ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’ mentality that allows no room for those with a moderate approach and removes all dissenters.”

    What, like you haven’t stopped my comments over the past few posts? Hypocrites

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    1. Name calling? Really? No wonder you’ve had comments removed if that’s the level of your communication.

      There is a difference between removing reasoned dissention and removing aggression that simply isn’t helpful to a reasoned conversation. Cutting off dissenting voices inside a community is not healthy in any shape or form. In a public blog, however, removing aggressive comments is a necessity or the blog is in danger of being destroyed by a few extremists. I see plenty of diverse comments here, so clearly it’s not dissention that is the cause of moderation but aggression. I saw some pretty disgusting things here a while back and thankfully they were removed. I thank the moderators for that. I think they make it quite clear in the statement about the blog in the side bar that aggressive tone that is the issue when moderation happens, so if you’ve had something removed, I suggest you watch your tone.

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      1. No, I haven’t had any comments removed.

        I’ve been blocked before because I mentioned that Matteo has stood down from the “8”.

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  4. So why do you get upset?

    It’s humans and samsara, what do you expect?

    The only thing this shows is that none of the people involved have realized the teachings of the buddha.

    Just take a step back, watch and see how this plays out. Report what is visible with cool detachment and without judging. Don’t join the mud-slinging.

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  5. Also, I am wondering why all this is so terribly group based and collectivized????????????

    Your relationship to the guru is between you and the guru. If other people have a guru relationship crisis or lose faith, that’s entirely their business and between them and the guru.

    It’s totally a mistake to collectivize the students of one teacher.

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    1. Solenodon, you are wrong! Collectivising is absolutely the way to argue for change. United we stand, divided we beg! (That’s a trade union creed & in this instance, the ‘we’ doesn’t involve moi). Clearly, you’ve never been an activist!

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      1. Correction: It should read: United we BARGAIN, divided we beg!

        In any case Solenodon, your point doesn’t make much sense. Obviously the R students who united on this issue had a shared and strongly-held viewpoint that SL needed to lift his game. It was probably impacting on their practice and their overall wellbeing and it was time to take a stand. Not speaking on their behalf but surmising from the outpourings and what we’ve known for years.

        Solenodon, if you don’t believe in collectivising, then why do you spend so much time contributing to this collective blog?

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      2. There is no “united” or trade union in dharma. It’s an individual path. Sure, you can come together for certain group practices and monks and nuns are supposed to live in harmony with their fellows.

        But lay practitioners are not supposed to be “united”. As a dharma practitioner everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, own relationship with the guru and own practice. Trying to interfere with somebody elses spiritual path is inappropriate. If two opinion groups about a matter like this form, so be it.

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        1. The slogan i offered is about the power of community – any group of like-minded people can achieve a lot when they pool their energy, know-how and resources.

          Clearly no-one is interfering with anyone else’s spiritual path. I think you’re making stuff up as you go. Looking for points of difference in order to assert critical viewpoints regarding the purpose of this blog.

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          1. If adherents of two differnt opinion groups start throwing mud at each other, that’s not respecting the opinion of the other.

            In the name of dharma nobody has a right to demand of somebody else to change an opinion about some dharma related topic.

            Instead of slinging accusations at other people they should go into retreat and do the only thing dharma is meant for: Taming their own minds.

            Dharma isn’t a club that needs defending or being taken down, dharma is a means to get rid of deluded mental activity for individual people.

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  6. Sounds like a “collective” cult to me. I think Rigpa as an organization should fold and the whole thing collapse. it is corrupt and cannot be saved, imo. The leadersip obviously cannot be trusted and frankly, I wouldn’t trust anyone who took their place either.

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    1. Has nothing to do with cult. VW is a totally worldly company and their reaction to their own scandal is rather similar or worse.

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        1. Cult is in the minds of people.

          It’s a way of thinking, becoming emotionally dependent of an ideology, developing a sense of superiority based on a group or ideology affiliation, which compensates a lack of self confidence.

          Even in non cult-like situations individuals can start to behave as if they were in a cult group.

          For example chemtrail believers act very much like cult members from a psychological pov.

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          1. Why do you bring up ‘chemtrails’ (a disinformation term) again? This is a blog for those discussing abuse within Rigpa as you said yourself!
            If you practise what you preach you wouldn’t bring up off topic subjects.
            You also wouldn’t condemn those who have an opinion differing from yours rather you would respect it.
            Your tone throughout your comments on this blog have been arrogant and even aggressive frankly.

            Also you have no authority to patronizingly call something a ‘conspiracy theory’ when just a little intelligent research into a subject proves you immediately wrong.
            (For yours – and others benefit you can
            read a US Senate document discussing theory and implementation of weather mod since 1947 amongst the hundreds of patents and scientific papers on it at geoengineeringwatch.org)

            Hopefully you can drop the subject now and move on? Others are entitled -as you said, to research and form their own opinions without your interference and judgement.
            No doubt you will have to have the last word again though 😉

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  7. Something said by Patrick Gaffney during the recent retreat concerns me. Partially quoting HHDL’s comment about Sogyal Rinpoche being his “very dear friend”……. unfortunately Patrick seems to have misled and lied to the whole Mandala by not mentioning the rest of HHDL’s quote “and now he in disgrace”.

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  8. I think it’s pretty clear what’s happening. There are three, maybe more, recognized Dzogchen lamas who have stood by SL and condemned the actions of the eight. So these are clearly the “new advisory board” and so Rigpa management have plenty of leadership and prestige to help them continue with business as usual. However, I am not sure that they are going to go far with HHDL speaking out as strongly as he is speaking out. And I am not sure that SL won’t be feeling the need for comfort and guidance from senior lamas such as HHDL as he faces his own mortality.

    I think it is good not to expect too much from those who simply aren’t capable of moving out of their stuck places at this point. That they are angry just means they feel threatened and not confident with their own position. This is a work in progress. You don’t reform a deeply entrenched religious organization without great, huge patience. I think patience is the spiritual practice most needed for everyone involved. I know it’s easy for me to say because I moved on from Rigpa almost twenty years ago. However, patience has been my practice for most of that time, so I have some idea about it.

    I say give everyone some time. HHDL mentions this trouble frequently, and he leaves room for no excuses for SL, so it is on the Tibetan community radar. In Asian cultures, much is done behind the scenes. And I cannot imagine SL tolerating HHDL’s condemnation for long. Something just has to give, even if we have to wait for the next chapter.

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    1. As you’ve said Joanne – much will be happening behind the scenes. I just can’t feel as positive in that regard though. SL will conceivably be networking for support with Nyingmapa dignitaries and given their etiquette traditions and spiritual bonds – along with the outer success of Rigpa as a flourishing centre of Dharma – it’s possible that he will garner the required support.

      Concerning HHDL, surely his criticism will prevent SL from reaching out. Didn’t he & Dudjom become distant due to Dudjom’s criticism and request for him to enter retreat etc? Then there’s also the sectarian card…. Time will tell whether i’m just unnecessarily pessimistic or realistic!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you Joanne. Patience is indeed good advice at this time, and I think having no attachment to outcomes. What will be, will be.

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    3. The tension is almost unbearable, Joanne.

      How can the direct and public statements by HHDL be ignored?

      Obviously, they can’t be. But it can take time for the effect to be seen.

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    4. For my own edification, do you feel comfortable, Joanne, naming those lamas who continue to stand by SL? I would place Khenchen Namdrol and Orgyen Tobgyal in this camp.

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  9. And by saying practice patience, I don’t mean that people need to let up on the pressure– nor stop speaking out.

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  10. The board members in each of the countries where Rigpa operates have a duty of care to their members, and not defense of “the master” at all costs. It’s understandable there will be a period of shock for managers, or waiting for instructions from Lerab Ling or waiting to see how these codes of conduct are developing. However how about some initiative and compassion in action at the local level – and not just prayer!

    In each of the countries where Rigpa operates, it is registered as a charity. So please stop procrastinating. Wake up and take responsibility! What about taking some initiative? Are you even checking whether any of your city or country members have similar issues? If you want Rigpa to survive as an organisation, you need to comply with all the local laws in your countries. Out of compassion and care for your members, have you even checked whether laws have been broken in your organisation in your country?

    Signed: a concerned Rigpa member

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    1. They do know laws have been broken, they are hiding out. They don’t know what to do and Patrick and his band of fools are counseling them to ride it out. Let it go, they are sick, they deserve each other. Decent human beings have seen the truth, they have been warned, no more needs to be done. Move on…pray for them…

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  11. I thank HHDL again and again for standing strong on this matter. His voice should be the final voice here. The words ‘rotten’ and ‘spoilt’ were used …not just about Sogyal, but about the whole organization. If you think about it, once something has gone rotten then it cannot be saved; it is fruitless and impossible to try to save a rotten apple, a spoilt fruit. In the process precious time will be lost in your lives, and endless grief and frustration created.

    In this case I think it’s better to just let it dissolve entirely and people can find a cleaner environment to begin again elsewhere under qualified and compassionate teachers. Get on with your lives, don’t lose time in your precious lives, don’t lose heart in the dharma.

    Listen to HHDL again to remind yourselves. Just a few words and HH hits it directly.

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    1. Maybe because there is nothing to be charged?

      Talking women into sexual relationships with stupid promises, exploiting “spiritual superiority” is ethically problematic but not illegal where I live. For that to be illegal he would have to be a psychotherapist or physician.

      About the physical violence, suing him would at least bring out what is true and can be proven in these allegations and what is not.

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    2. Because someone has to bring formal charges, and who wants to go through that nightmare, not to mention the expense? Also I expect people are waiting for the outcome of the investigation.

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    3. Because SL will never be held accountable, just his minions who are too pathetic to bother with…

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  12. I was the national director of rigpa holland between 1995 and stepped away in 1999. I have observed everything that is discussed. I stepped away very naturally because my gut did not felt happy to be an enabler. Nothing in me doubted that I could live a spiritual life and growing elsewhere. It is that simple LEAVE. The ones who want to stay let them stay. They will never apologize or change there perceptions, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I admire sincerely the ones who create a platform for the people who experienced pain and emotional hurt. May you all settle into the heart-mind and love you own heart. For those who feel the pain of conflicting thinking and pressured by opposing believe systems and believe you can’t leave based on the samaya stories ,you can always take a distance. When consciousness sinks into the magnetic field of the heart there is no conflict. I know out of my own experience it was not easy. If I look back then everything in my life happend for me to be who I’m today. And I’m not living in hell and I can say in all honesty that some of life stuff was pretty tough to swallow. But we always have a choice what we do with it. About rigpa: if they can’t change: it will self implode. I choose to remember the good.

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    1. “About rigpa: if they can’t change: it will self implode.”

      We will now find out who in this is really practising and applying dharma and who isn’t.

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    2. Thanks so much for your kind, helpful post, Alexandra. May you be happy and well, may all beings be happy and well. Time does heal all wounds if we let it.

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    3. Thank you for this clear advice, Alexandra. Thanks for having the courage to take a stand and remove yourself. Send you best wishes, always.

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  13. I agree completely. It’s apparent the culture of abuse has been either ignored or covered up by those closest to SL,so this ‘turning a blind eye’ and failing to intercede is a tacit encouragement of further transgressions. The members of SL’s inner circle, have shown by their collective failure to recognise their own complicity in his actions, or to acknowledge the harm caused by the abuse of his position, that it is unlikely that many of them will step down voluntarily.

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  14. Some of the What Now? activists were the main enablers while I was attending a lot of Rigpa retreats in the early 1990s.

    In fact, I felt much more “abused” by the enablers than by Sogyal Rinpoche. The enablers has a bossy “all or nothing” extremism in the way they ran things at the time.

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    1. Hi Gold Star,

      Thank you for posting.

      My experience was similar and it seems to me this approach may be continuing on.

      The communication was “positive” then and is “negative” now, but still seems primarily focused on the teacher and the organization. We ignore one another except in relation to how we were affected by the teacher or organization.

      It seems we might have a unique opportunity to change this approach right now; to find a way to focus on one another and the deep conflicts (that for some reason) exist in those that are making an effort to turn toward Being.

      Can we face the difficulties in ourselves and one another and stop spending our time together praising or blaming someone or something else?

      We don’t need for others to change, who ever feels inspired can find a way to take up this exploration at any time, ideally, with others interested the same exploration.

      “It seems that the key is that we are going to have to pay attention to this whole thing. However, we may pay attention to something quite well but then everything seems to go to pieces when there is trouble. At that point, instead of condemning ourselves, we’ve got to find out how distraction was part of the same process.”

      “…there is the possibility of transformation of consciousness, both individually and collectively. It is important that it happen together — it’s got to be both. And therefore, this whole question — of communication and the ability to dialogue, the ability to participate in communication — is crucial.”

      — David Bohm, On Dialogue, p 95.

      Thanks,

      Rick

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      1. Those ‘bossy’ people were under tremendous pressure to placate a maniac, their main failing was believing that somehow there was wisdom behind it. Now that they are brave enough to speak out they deserve our love and support, not scorn.

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        1. Dear Not so hopeful anymore,

          Yes, this is a good point, thank you.

          Perhaps it need not be about praising or blaming those that were in charge then, but taking a close look to see if we are creating conditions for the same situation now? Speaking out now may be much more akin to the previous “bossy” behavior than it appears.

          The content may be clouding the possibility of seeing the similarity in the movement of thought active then and active now.

          Regards,

          Rick

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          1. Please say more, I don’t think I understand what you’re saying because it sounds like victim blaming and comparing behavior prompted by ‘belief’ to a sincere attempt to see the truth, whatever that is…

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              1. Hi Not so hopeful anymore,

                Thank you for your post.

                “A sincere attempt to see the truth…”

                Yes, perhaps this is what many (or most) of us are trying to do here?

                As in the story of the blind men and the elephant, a sincere attempt to see the truth may require being open to many different points of view.

                One way might be to see the patterns we were participating in then, and explore the relation to similar patterns now.

                Posting in blogs is perhaps a good gateway, but also has many limitations. Exploring the truth about how other people are (those that aren’t here on this blog) seems like it has many limitations, too.

                However, coming together, by Skype or in-person, may allow us to a) communicate more deeply and b) focus on those that are present in the conversation c) through displaying that openness, perhaps create a more inviting space for those ‘on the other side’ d) etc., etc.

                There are many variations of the above that we could all come up with to create a better environment for our sincere attempt to see the truth.

                I’m asking is that by keeping the focus on the lama, the institution and those in charge, rather than one another, if we aren’t repeating many the same patterns that helped create this situation?

                Regards,

                Rick

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                1. I completely agree that it took more than a village to create the dysfunctional relationships, scaffolding one violation on top of the other for more than 40 years. BUT that’s not the question. the question is what is rigpa going to do about the crazy dysfunctional mess it has become, and can the architects of the disaster, Patrick, Philip, Dominique, actually have any hope of doing anything but try to ride this out, the same way they have done so for 40 years? The lama, the institution and those in charge are holding ALL of the cards, regarding rigpa’s fate, and that still matters to a LOT to a LOT of people.

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                  1. Hi not so Hopeful anymore,

                    Thanks for your reply.

                    Yes, the owners, managers and architects of Rigpa organization are holding all the cards in terms of the Rigpa organization. They can define what the Rigpa organization is and isn’t. That is their role in terms of the organization. I agree that still matters to a lot of people and is important.

                    However, it also seems to me the question asked by this website “What Now?” is a more open approach than declaring “this is the question and this isn’t the question.”

                    Isn’t this approach shutting people out who may have different questions, those who define the problem differently?

                    Might this approach be related to the root of the problem, that we exclude those who don’t think like us? Isn’t that what we are accusing the Rigpa organization of doing?

                    It seems like we all have a hard time listening to one another AND letting ourselves be changed by what we hear.

                    Might we, who have felt the brunt of a more closed approach try something radically different? It seems to me that reorientation could possibly help us to realize we still have the cards and we can still work together with the inspirations that brought us to the dharma in the first place.

                    For those that are interested, David Bohm has a wonderful book called “On Dialogue” and “Thought as System” which goes pretty deeply into the kind of difficulties we are facing here and offers some meditative possibilities for exploring this kind of situation.

                    Many regards,

                    Rick

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    2. Gold Star. I know. If I go back in time I remember that we had to implement perfectly and follow orders. And if you wouldn’t or could’n you would get the wrath. When I was in the bubble it was my body making me turning away, when I was outside of the bubble I knew it was enabling taking place. It was like moving to a different planet. I don’t think the ones in there are able to see enabling. Gold star I hope you found your way in life and balanced out the cazy stuff of the 90th.

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  15. On the matter of the recent posting of a teaching on Samaya at Lotsawa House: a spokesperson for Lotsawa House told me that he decided to post that translation without any contact with anyone from Rigpa’s management, senior or otherwise because there was a lot of discussion online about the meaning of samaya, and seemingly some confusion as to what you might call the traditional Tibetan viewpoint.

    He went on to say that Lotsawa House tries, whenever possible, to provide authoritative sources on various topics as a reference for students of Tibetan Buddhism in general and that he chose that text (together with another text which deals with samaya from an absolute perspective) because it is relatively short and more interesting than other works which typically consist of long lists of one category of samaya breakage after another. How people interpret the texts Lotsawa House publishes is obviously beyond our control. But if anyone has been using them to condemn or even abuse others that is not only wrong, it is contrary to what Lotsawa House’s main advisor, Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, sees as the central purpose of the Dharma: i.e. a way to look at oneself, not a way to view the supposed faults of others.

    I am extremely pleased to have this clarification and are very grateful to Lotsawa House for their willingness to contact us.

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  16. Individual transformation and connection with people at work and “strangers” on the street has always been much more important to me than Dharma Center community.

    But, that’s just me. In my experience, the Dharma Center Sangha is waaay overrated. Maybe it’s better to find Sangha in the everyday world?

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  17. I’m so sorry, because I can’t take part at Winterberg rigpa-members meeting. It’s only for those, who are able to join the retreat. For me, retreat is too expensive and the meeting is too far away from home to reach after work on a friday afternoon. So, am I part of something new? Closed society instead.

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  18. Moonfire, I love your analysis and clarity. Much of the comments afterwards dwell between buddhist concepts, or even illustions, as if these are our insights. Especially the anonymous Solenodon is a master in this, to mix clear rational information with Tibetan Buddhist wrongly understood arguments.
    |t is clear that these do not contribute to any insight or solutions. It distracts us from our responsibility for the harmed people. Moonfire rightly points this out too. A lot of what has happened happens on many places although we wish and have expected very much different. In a place for contempation and trust people have been misled and abused. That is a fact. To heal the traumata may take far more time than the actual participation in RIGPA or other ‘spiritual schools’. The people involved are only on two sides: the victims, that is one, and the perpetrators, in which we may include all who knew about it and looked away – many of them still do and accuse the victims or make them co-responsible.
    This is a terrible phenomenon, and we know this already from quite some other processes, like in the Roman-Catholic Church.
    What can we do, express our compassion, express our solidarity. Provide help, listen, understand and
    never ever judge the victims.
    I have been involved in the early years of the teaching of LSR, I was for over 21 years organising director for Tibetan Buddhist teachings in Kosmos, Amsterdam, but did not recognise at that time the shadows that were around him. I regret that and apologise for that.
    A lot of harm is done, by this and so many others, to the integrity of the Buddhist Way. It is time to clean the house. And may be it is time to work on a white list (as opposite to a black list) of genuine schools and teachers. We miss the guide….yet.

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    1. Those ‘bossy’ people were under tremendous pressure to placate a maniac, their main failing was believing that somehow there was wisdom behind it. Now that they are brave enough to speak out they deserve our love and support, not scorn.

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    2. Why not a black list? Hopefully it is much easier and shorter to compose and maintain. Decency should and can be the normality not the exception.

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      1. Because being on a blacklist could be considered libelous/open to litigation, whereas NOT being on a whitelist would not be.

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  19. This essay is full of strong statements. The original draft commented on a recent post about samaya on Lotsawa House, saying “Why has this been translated and posted now, if not to guide students as to the ‘correct’ understanding?” Lotsawa House reached out to What Now and clarified the reasons for the posting, and the essay was updated to reflect new information.

    This incident might remind us that other statements in this essay are estimates of what may be happening within the Rigpa organization. If we had more information, they might or might not turn out be accurate.

    I am one of the people in the middle. I’m a long-term Rigpa student. I see that some people have been harmed, and I would like to find ways to contribute to healing. At the same time, the July 14 letter says many things that are completely different from my own experience, and I don’t know what to believe.

    I am certain Rigpa is going to change. The fact that the letter was written has uncovered problems that need to be addressed. The organization needs more flexibility, a greater variety of teachings, and support for people in a variety of Dharma paths, including those who decide to leave the organization. These changes are underway. They are going to take a while because Rigpa is a large organization. I won’t be surprised if different countries end up with different flavors of study and practice.

    I live in the United States and will attend our national retreat, which starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving. At that retreat I’m hoping to talk to other people who want to reach out to those who have been harmed, as I do. I don’t know what form this might take. I don’t know what percentage of those at the retreat will share my feelings. I’ll only find out when I get there.

    Joanne says “patience is the spiritual practice most needed for everyone involved.” I agree. I’d like to propose an exercise in patience that might be useful for all of us who participate in online discussions about the future of Rigpa.

    When you write something, especially if it’s a long post, print it out and set it aside for an hour. Then come back, read it again and ask yourself, how would I hear this if I were someone with a different viewpoint? What would it say to me? You might decide to change a few words before you actually post it online.

    People who I respect, and have known for many years, believe every word of the July 14 letter.
    They include people who encouraged me when I first became a Rigpa student. They include people who became Rigpa students themselves in part because of my outreach. You know, I still see us, those who believe the letter and those who see things differently, as one whole. When you write your essays, please remember that your readers include people like me.

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    1. This open discussion is healthier than anything else has been, in years. Maybe since the 1993 meeting with HHDL.

      But it is interesting to think about the samaya situation more.

      When OTR wrote to Sangye, he said very directly, that writing the letter was a breakage of samaya.

      In OTR’s post on Sogyal Rinpoche’s Facebook, not even one day after SR announced he had cancer, OTR wrote:

      “If a student breaks his or her samaya, it has a very harmful effect on the master’s life”.

      He is DIRECTLY blaming the letter writers for harming SR’s life.

      The clarification from Lotsawa house is very good, because it points out:

      – here is the traditional Tibetan view. And it should *only* be considered in the context of how one considered samaya in one’s own practice.

      There was no indication whatever of the cause/effect relationship OTR is publicly using.

      That’s why Moonfire is calling this out as continued abuse.
      Who is OTR to say anyone actually broke samaya, and why is it posted on SR’s public Facebook page?

      It couldn’t be more clear! The message is, shut up about the concerns or issues you have, or you’re getting the blame for damaging your master’s health.

      Contradicting what HHDL, and Mingyur Rinpoche, said, also.

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      1. Though people who have samaya have to be careful how they make abuse public.

        I don’t believe that making public that the lama is exploiting naive young girls for sex and is using violence on students outside a Marpa/Milarepa style enlightened situation is in itself a breakage of samaya as long as there is a pure, altruistic motivation and no hate, spite or malice involved.

        But if the student has a samaya relationship with that misbehaving teacher any malice or hate against him will have negative consequences for both.

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        1. It is a breakage of bodhisattva vows to have malice or hatred, never mind samaya.

          But to push the point about these public, “official” communications on samaya further, Ven C Tsewang wrote this a few days after; also posted on SR’s public page:

          “I have recently heard that Sogyal Rinpoche’s health condition is very serious and dire. He has been diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo an extensive operation to remove the tumours.
          I would like to remind all Dharma friends who have already received teachings from him to be mindful and vigilant in upholding the Samaya, no matter what. Please be cautious of the fact that it would be of grave harm to the Guru’s life if the students break the Samaya.”

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        2. Again you state an interpretation on Tibetan Buddhism as true. First of all, a student can not have a Samaya relationship with a corrupt teacher – so this can never be applied.
          Next to that I suggest that you leave supposedly dharma insights to the few integer teachers that are willing to share insights, as HH the Dalai Lama has done before.
          Abused students will have to go through a rather deep process of healing, and could use a real good psychotherapist.
          Do not scare victims, do not blame them. We are here for help, not for warnings.

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          1. You’re right, Solenodon has been noted by a number of people on here….
            he/she takes the tone of the absolute authority on the truth.
            Humility, openness and genuine care and warmth is what will really be of benefit in this conversation.

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    2. Why haven’t you reached out to the letter writers? If you live in the US you must have some way to contact at least one of them. Do you want the truth or do you want your fantasy? Just how many people have to tell the same basic story for you to let go of your fantasy?

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  20. Okay, let’s face it: not replying, igonoring someone’s question or concern, labeling them or (I really hope you did not do it on purpose) even censoring their comments is not respectful communication. In fact it’s one of the criteria of abusive communication style. How could something positive, constructive of truthful ever be the consequence of such a kind of communication?

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  21. sorry to read about your experience, veggiegirl16. sounds a bit strange though… as far as I can tell, all my comments have been published here, so maybe there was some technical mistake. don’t let it discourage you. looks like moonfire and his friends are really interested in what you have to say, dear.

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  22. Firemoon. I think you are completely right, when you write and claim that the upper management of Rigpa should resign. They are responsible for the cover up of the misconduct of Sogyal for decennia. So how can it be that they remain in their leading position? It is time for a real transformation. How sad all of this is for all students involved.

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