One of the excellent things someone in Rigpa management did immediately after the letter came out was to set up an email address where students could send emails about their concerns. Even better was that for some time people actually got replies. Pleasant respectful replies but all with the same message, which essentially was to talk to someone in the sangha.
Unfortunately a letter sent to one of the holding group requesting that we set up a liason between Rigpa International management and the What Now? group did not receive a reply. Nor has Patrick Gaffney replied to an email send a week or more ago requesting, an opening of communication with What Now? But those in the What Now? group are very concerned that the soon to be commenced (or so we believe) investigation be conducted properly, and we wanted to have some input into that.
So, a representative of the What Now? Facebook group sent the following email to whoever reads what comes into the email address set up for student concerns.
Please note that this does not represent the feelings of all members of the group, just some of them. So read ‘we’ in this letter to refer to ‘some members of the group.’
Dear Rigpa Share
The ‘What Now’ group is much relieved that an independent investigation will commence in the coming few weeks. In recent days we have asked members, what are their most pressing concerns about this pending investigation? There has been much feedback which we feel obliged to share before the investigation does commence.
In the lead up to this, Rigpa has indicated that any team leading the investigation would be comprised of several specialists with proven experience in this field, those being, people who have a background of investigating breaches of normal ethical codes in large religious or spiritual organisations. Prior to the actual start of the process, it would be best, in the interest of transparency, that some of our initial questions be answered.
Can Rigpa presently elaborate on the backgrounds and qualifications of this investigative team? And if not presently, when so?
Can Rigpa confirm if the organisation known as ‘An Olive Branch’ will be part of the investigative team?
Can Rigpa clarify the methods and procedures that will be applied in this investigation?
Can Rigpa clarify that despite Sogyal Rinpoche being on retreat, that he will be able to, and required to, answer any questions the team may have.
What measures will be taken to ensure no additional unnecessary suffering will be inflicted on those who already feel traumatised by actions against or involving them?
How does Rigpa intend to approach, protect and provided witnesses that are required to give testimony. How will assurances of fair treatment be provided?
Above all else, can Rigpa elaborate on the safety measures that have been taken to ensure that there remains a complete separation between the investigative body and a Rigpa management team, that has by circumstance, been involved in choosing the make up of, and directive’s of this body, while still knowing they themselves will also be investigated by that very same body for any possible wrong doing?
‘What Now’ group members have already highlighted many area’s, in specific detail, they would like to see covered in the investigation, however, there is little purpose in expressing these to Rigpa unless some clarity is first provided on the points we have just raised.
We trust that Rigpa understands the necessity for an ongoing dialogue in this process with ‘What Now’ members despite an understandable desire for things to be left unsaid until the completion of the investigation and publication of it’s findings.
It is, we believe, essential for Rigpa to acccept that any investigation that does proceed ‘without’ the support and input of ‘What Now’ members, would simply be a great waste of time and effort for all parties involved.
We look forward to your response with both anticipation and appreciation.
Update: A reply was received with the message that the letter would be forwarded to those organising the investigation for them to consider the points. Cheers!
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.