Is Vajrayana Buddhism a Cult Religion? Part 1

Does Vajrayana fit the definition of a cult?

‘Cult’ is a word that has different definitions, but the definition that concerns us here is the negative one. According to the Google Dictionary a cult is “a system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object, in particular a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or as imposing excessive control over members.” Also a “misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular thing.”

‘A system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object’ does apply to vajrayana as a whole but also equally to Christianity, so that aspect of the definition is not the key point here, neither is the fact that TB is strange to many in West. The aspect that makes the difference between religion and cult is ‘imposing excessive control over members,’ and ‘misplaced or excessive admiration.’

So what is ‘excessive’ and what is ‘misplaced’? To answer this we have to look further.

The Family Survival Trust has a succinct checklist for cults that is useful for separating a religion from a cult:

  1. Cults are dissociative, separating members from families, friends and colleagues—this is not a requirement for vajrayana practice since it can be done alone (caves are the traditional place) or within one’s own society and family, but when a lama keeps a group of attendants or people he relies on around him and doesn’t permit them to engage in normal social and family relationships or leave at will, or tells them what they can and can’t do particularly in terms of their personal relationships, then they have slipped into cult territory.
  2. Cults tend to be psychologically manipulative or abusive in order to exploit and control members commercially or sexually—this is pretty clear. There are plenty of vajrayana communities around where the lamas do not abuse their students, therefore abuse and psychological manipulation are not part of the religion. If anyone is being abused by a lama and members don’t see it as abuse (when it is quite clear to anyone outside the group that the behaviour constitutes abuse), then the members are being psychologically manipulated and the group has become a cult. (Abuse is NOT crazy wisdom—as Mingyur Rinpoche said in his article on the Lion’s Roar, “The results of genuine “crazy wisdom” are always positive and visible.”) If members’ money is not being used for the purpose for which is was given, those members are being commercially exploited and the group has slipped across the line into cult territory.
  3. Some cults can also be physically abusive—also clear. If the lama is regularly hitting or punching people, it’s a cult. Vajrayana does not require students to be hit or punched. It can be practiced without the lama abusing his students in any way. Even if you believe the abuse is ‘crazy wisdom’, even if you believe it is transformative, that is irrelevant when determining cult status. A cult is determined by how it acts, not what it believes. If your lama regularly hits and punches people and the beliefs to which you subscribe make his or her hitting and punching (or any other abusive behaviour) acceptable, your vajrayana community can be called a cult.
  4. The guru and/or upper ranks of the cult are supported in a relatively comfortable lifestyle by the exploitation of lower ranking members—a comfortable lifestyle is not necessary for vajrayana practice, in fact a humble lifestyle and generosity to others are more in line with the marks of a great practitioner. A lama who has his feet massaged by two women while another massages his back and two others work on his hands has slipped into cult territory since one masseur is quite sufficient. Other signs are such things as demanding better food than others in the household, expensive accommodations and so on.
  5. Cults are totalitarian in structure and thrive on master-slave dependency—certainly Tibetan Buddhism is totalitarian and the master-slave roles are embedded in the feudal system in its history. The feudal system is cultural, however, not religious. Vajrayana can be practiced without either of these. Not all lamas treat their students as slaves. Institute a democratic model where the lama is ‘employed’ by the board and remove the ‘obey or else’ emphasis that some lamas subscribe to, and the issue is solved. The lama will still have spiritual authority, but not temporal authority. There is a good reason why the church is separated from the state in Western democracies. This point pinpoints the area in which Tibetan Buddhism as a whole must make changes.
  6. Cults are “socially addictive” and the harm they cause is similar in some ways to other forms of addiction such as gambling, and even drug or alcohol abuse—I guess people could become addicted to Vajrayana—all those beautiful images and sounds are very alluring—but few practice diligently enough to get ‘hooked’ on the actual practice, and, if they did, such an addiction is not harmful in the worldly sense, though it wouldn’t help one spiritually to be stuck in practice that is contrived. Dependency on a lama to the extent that members cannot make decisions for themselves, however, is harmful. Though the magic of it is alluring to some, vajrayana itself is not inherently addictive, and it is only harmful if people feel that their lama can do anything they want irrespective of the laws of the land.

My conclusion in terms of this checklist is that vajrayana as a religion is not a cult, but that a vajrayana community can become a cult in the same way that a Christian community can. But this list doesn’t give much weight to the ‘religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure’ aspect of our original cult definition, and this aspect is particularly relevant in terms of vajrayana, particularly in ascertaining what turns a vajrayana community into a cult.

Devotion to an abstract principle or an individual?

As I quoted in the article titles Is Rigpa Cult? Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D, a cult expert, says “the difference between cults and religions is that in religions the devotion goes to an abstract principle whereas in a cult the devotion is to an individual. … The follower turns over their decision-making and give complete obedience in return for having secrets revealed to them.”

Though vajrayana may look as if the student’s devotion must be to an individual rather than an abstract principle, my understanding is that this is not the most transformative way of understanding the object of one’s devotion in vajrayana, at least not in these times. The idea that our devotion is to the personality of the teacher, the person, rather than to the teacher principle that he embodies can, especially if he or she is not a qualified teacher and demands that the students have only one lama, bring the vajrayana community into cult territory.

When teachers were more reliable, and in a society where the word ‘cult’ in its meaning as an abusive community employing manipulation tactics and excessive control over its members did not (and still doesn’t) exist, there would be no need to make a distinction between the teacher as he represents the teacher principle and the teacher as a person, but now, in the West, I believe there is. The Words of My Perfect Teacher is about how to relate to a perfect teacher, but should we take those teachings literally when our teacher is more likely to be imperfect?

Even Patrul Rinpoche said on page 138, “As times have degenerated, nowadays, it is difficult to find a teacher who has every one of the qualities described in the precious tantras.”

I had an imperfect teacher. I always knew he was not perfect, so for myself, for my own practice I had to work this point out. Maybe I got it wrong, but I completed my Ngondro and two of my three roots with my devotion to my teacher in his role as teacher, not to the person, and for me it was the only way I could feel the transformative power of the practices. Specifically my devotion was to my teacher when, in the state of devotion to his masters and resting in the true nature of his mind, he was a Buddha, and in that state he introduced me to the nature of my mind. I distinguished this Sogyal from the one that came late to teachings, made us wait hours for lunch, yelled at people, and, as I discovered last year, much worse.

Some may question this separation of man from teacher, but the Dalai Lama appears to have taken the same approach in his practice.

“On the level of our personal spiritual practice, it is important to have faith in and reverence for our guru and to see that person in a positive light in order to make spiritual progress. But on the level of general Buddhism in society, seeing all actions of our teacher as perfect is like poison and can be misused. This attitude spoils our entire teachings by giving teachers a free hand to take undue advantage. If faith were sufficient to gain realizations, there would be no need for qualified teachers. … have had many teachers, and I cannot accept seeing all their actions as pure. My two regents, who were among my sixteen teachers, fought one another in a power struggle that even involved the Tibetan army. When I sit on my meditation seat, I feel both were kind to me, and I have profound respect for both of them. Their fights do not matter. But when I had to deal with what was going on in the society, I said to them, “What you’re doing is wrong!” We should not feel a conflict in loyalties by acting in this way. In our practice, we can view the guru’s behavior as that of a mahasiddha, and in dealings with society, follow the general Buddhist approach and say that that behavior is wrong.” HHDL Dharamasalla 1993

Rigpa Wiki explains the four kinds of teachers as taught to us in Rigpa:

  1. the individual teacher who is the holder of the lineage
  2. the teacher which is the word of the buddhas
  3. the symbolic teacher of all appearances
  4. the absolute teacher, which is rigpa, the true nature of mind

On page 148 of the TBLD Sogyal says: “Remember that the master—the guru—embodies the crystallisation of the blessings of all buddhas, masters, and enlightened beings.”

So who should our devotion really be to? The individual teacher or the teacher principle which is a much broader concept? It would be nice if it could be both, but isn’t it ultimately not to the person who gives the teachings but to something more profound?

“The guru is the nature of our mind.” Dilgo Khyentse. Primordial Purity

Guru Rinpoche (not our physical teacher) is who we invoke in Guru Yoga, and he ‘is the universal master’ who ‘embodies a cosmic timeless principle.’ (TBLD p 149). When understood this way, our devotion in practice is to an ‘abstract principle’ not an individual and therefore does not fit the cult label, but in Rigpa, devotion to the person of Sogyal was emphasised. This is the point at which vajrayana can become a cult. Beware if your teacher suggests you visualise them in your practice rather than the embodiment of the wisdom and compassion of all the enlightened beings in the form of the representative of the teachers of your lineage, such as Guru Rinpoche or Vajradhara.

“Once we have realized the nature of our mind, it is no longer necessary to search for the guru outside. If the view of the mind is maintained beyond meditation and post meditation, the guru is present beyond meeting and parting.” Dilgo Khyentse. Primordial Purity

It seems important to me that to avoid slipping into cult territory we need to separate the teacher as a representative of an abstract principle from the human being with their human deficiencies.

In an article about Buddhism Dagyab Rinpoche said, “We Tibetans are aware of some Western followers who believe that Tibetan lamas are enlightened buddhas and infallible gurus, despite their all-too-human deficiencies. It is disillusioned Westerners, who in the course of their lives have experienced the total collapse of their ideals, and who cling to the wishful image of a holy and healing Tibetan tradition. Wherever angst, insecurity, and despair are strong, there is a corresponding desire for something superior, and Westerners project fatherly power upon the lamas. A false understanding of Buddhist teachings, especially that of the Vajrayana, has impelled these projections.”

Hopefully our lamas can give us the true understanding of the vajrayana teachings, not teach a ‘false understanding’ that does nothing for the student, only makes the lamas kings of their own kingdom with slaves that do their bidding without question. If we misunderstand, it is because we were not taught correctly or our lama did not clear up our confusion. Perhaps some of our lamas are confused themselves. In giving talks to the modern world that adhere slavishly to possibly provisional teachings given for people in ancient feudal cultures, rather than teaching from a definitive understanding of the teachings, they may be harming the dharma they think they are protecting.

Chatral Rinpoche said “Support and take refuge in those spiritual masters who focus their practice in solitary retreat. Before one attains enlightenment, one should also enter into solitary retreat to focus on one’s practice under his or her close guidance and mentorship. If not, it will be just like now, where everywhere is flooded with Khenpos who give empty talks. Those ignorant ones, who run after fame and fortune, and establish their own factions, will cause people to have aversion for Buddhism and lead to the extinction of Buddhism sooner or later. Hence, it is said that the authentic Dharma is not in the monasteries, it is not in the books and not in the material world, but within the mind. There is a need to awaken it through practice and to realise (actualise) it, in order to be called the continuation or preservation of the Dharma.”

Misplaced or excessive devotion

An article in the Buddhist Controversy blog gives traditional teachings on teachers to avoid, but  Lifehacker in their article on what constitutes a cult gives a helpful modern perspective on teachers to avoid if you want to avoid a cult.
“Cults are formed around strong leaders, so take a serious look at the motives and personality of the person in charge. According to Morantz and other cult experts, control-freak cult leaders are nearly interchangeable.

  • Narcissistic personality: Dangerous cult leaders usually hold grandiose notions of their place in the world.
  • Ability to read others: “A guy like Charles Manson had the ability to spot who, at a party, that he thought he could control. It just seems to be in his personality,” Morantz said. Cult leaders “have the ability to size you up, and realise your weaknesses and get to your buttons”.
  • Claims of special powers: If a leader claims he’s smarter, holier and more pure than everyone else, think twice about signing up.
  • Charisma meets anger: Dangerous cult leaders can be extremely loving, charming and affectionate, but often turn angry and abusive with no warning. This mercurial presentation keeps members off balance.”

In the hands of someone with this kind of personality, vajrayana is dangerous indeed. Certainly such people are not a healthy focus for one’s devotion. Especially if one forgets that devotion should not be mindless adoration. On p 140 in the TBLD Sogyal says, “It [devotion] is not an abdication of your responsibility to yourself, nor undiscriminating following of another’s personality or whim. Real devotion is rooted in an awed and reverent gratitude, one that is lucid, grounded, and intelligent.”

Wise words, but in practice this is not the kind of devotion I saw in Rigpa.

The take away here is that the temptation for someone with this personality profile to use vajrayana for his or her own personal gratification would likely be too hard for them to resist. If they also allow their students to think and act as if pure perception means that the teacher is pure and the student is not, and if they also have a nihilistic view of emptiness, we have even more likelihood that such a teacher will abuse their power.

Minguyr Rinpoche in his Lions Roar article on Sept 24th 2017 reminds us of the essential points of samaya and pure perception. “Many people misunderstand samaya and think it refers only to seeing the teacher as a buddha, a fully awakened being. That is part of samaya, but it misses the key point. Samaya is about seeing everyone and everything through the lens of pure perception. …The sole purpose of viewing the teacher as a buddha is so we can see these same awakened qualities in ourselves, in others, and in the world around us. It is a tool that helps us to gain confidence in the purity of our true nature.”

And on the nihilistic view, Traleg Kyabgon in Moonbeams of Mahamudra. (Pages 272,273) says. “Meditators who take emptiness as an object of conceptual understanding abstract the concept of emptiness from their immediate experience of the phenomenal word. They deny the validity of karma because of this misunderstanding. They think ultimate reality must go beyond our normal concepts of good and bad, since it is empty and therefore, anything goes. This delegitimises the whole notion of morality. This fixation on the concept of emptiness leads to a denial of relative reality in the empirical world.”

And from HHDL from 1993 in Dharamsala, “Emptiness is not nothingness. On one side, a thing is empty; on the other it arises dependently. Emptiness is not empty of existence; it is empty of independent existence. So it must depend on other things. It is important to make sure one has the correct understanding of emptiness. Those who understand emptiness correctly as meaning dependent arising see that if they misbehave, they will have to face the consequences. Thus they will refrain from acting in an unethical manner.”

In part 2 of this topic, I look at unquestioning obedience, removal of the right to criticise and respect for worldly law in relation to vajrayana and cults, then I provide a conclusion to the two posts.

Post by Tahlia Newland, editor and author


Current and previous students of Rigpa wanting private support are welcome to join the What Now? Facebook group. Please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite.

Ex-Rigpa students and their dharma friends who want to move on from the discussion of abuse in Rigpa can stay in touch through the Dharma Companions Facebook Group.  

The What Now? Reference Material page has 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.

Those of you who are interested in ‘keeping Buddhism clean’ could ‘Like’ the Dharma Protectors Facebook page. 

 

Advertisements

157 thoughts on “Is Vajrayana Buddhism a Cult Religion? Part 1

  1. This is really well written Tahlia. Thank you so much.
    Powerful reminders and, particularly for me today, it’s that quote from Dagyab Rinpoche which rings so true as a lapsed catholic!
    It’s funny but I’ve been around a lot of CEOs and senior executives in my professional work, who can sometimes seem narcissistic and throw their weight around. So I always had some sort of mental distance from SL when we would see him berate someone in public. Some of it just seemed so daft!
    Now it breaks my heart still that I didn’t check more as to what was really happening behind the scenes. I just somehow assumed that people could look after themselves. However seduction is like a slow drip and when someone has a lot of charisma and magnetism… Before you know where you are, you are caught in a spider’s web….

    Like

  2. Is it a cult? A semi-cult? Not really a cult at all?

    In Tibetan Buddhism, it’s easy to cite a text or a lama to justify or contradict almost any point of view, there’s so much to choose from.

    It’s even possible to do both by citing the same lama on different occasions : Science one day…..Hell realms the next……..use your critical intelligence to evaluate your lama today……..see him as the Buddha tomorrow…….something for everyone.

    Instead of naively trusting what Vajrayana Buddhism says, why not just be pragmatic and look at the results of what it actually does ?

    A thousand years of it’s total dominance in Tibet produced a primitive, brutal, feudal theocracy built on slavery and exploitation, where a religious elite used violence, superstition and fear, to wield absolute power over a servile population.

    A country so backward impoverished and that even the ruthless British Empire wasn’t particularly interested in it.

    And as this religion has spread throughout the West for the past 50 years, why haven’t we yet seen the slightest enthusiasm among it’s proponents for democracy and social equality ?

    What we have seen is the rapid ascendancy of individuals like Sogyal and Trungpa, endorsed and supported by the entire Tibetan establishment from the top down, in their relentless drive to recreate the power, status, dominance and wealth of a religious elite, most of whom either hold the values of modern secular societies in barely disguised contempt, or at best are simply not interested in them.

    So whether we think Vajrayana is a cult or not is much less important than asking what it actually does and whether it’s even capable of being of any use in our society or is it structurally unreformable, doomed to stay as it was in Tibet: a parasitic, elitist, and self-serving religion.

    Like

  3. Vajrayana was never meant to be McVajrayana. This became a problem for Tibet too for those of you who want to dig into the history. The institutionalization of Vajrayana in the west (I have no clue about China where it seems to be growing by leaps and bounds; but I am wondering what happens when wealthy Communists become Buddhists and when Buddhism becomes another totalitarian ideology) has many obvious and complex problems, precisely because of its proponents and institutions not being willing to deeply engage, *interface* with, or held to societal standards/structures consensually established as optimally functional in non-totalitarian contexts.

    Has anyone ever seen the documentary One of Us? It’s about what happens within closed religious communities. Anything that erodes one’s critical faculties or rational development needs to be considered with care.

    Would you say Vajrayana requires blind faith? If so, then what’s the difference between an evangelical Christian and a Vajrayanist? I believe it was in a DKR book that it was said (paraphrasing): Vajrayana is about believing impossible things, in that case what’s the big deal about the Virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ?

    We need to look at the performative contradictions issuing from some of these writings and claims such as: believe impossible things (while dismissing others who do the exact same thing).

    The longevity and stability of a religious tradition will depend on how it treats its underprivileged. For a chilling presentation of the culture which gave us bodhicitta teachings (via India), see the documentary Blindsight (2006), about a German activist who discovers the way ordinary Tibetans treat and interact with their disabled and underprivileged. It’s easy to identify with the greatest meta-perspective ever (the two bodhicittas) while not rolling up our sleeves and serving in real ways on the ground as if living beings actually matter, in spite (or because) of their ultimate status.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At this stage in the discussion of topics raised by the revelations of abuse in Rigpa, the moderators (and some readers who have contacted us) feel that those continually commenting from an obvious anti-Tibetan Buddhism agenda are not contributing to the kind of positive dialogue around change that we would like to see here. We have clearly stated all along that this blog is for those interested in change not for those who want to demolish Sogyal Rinpoche, Rigpa or Tibetan Buddhism, therefore we request that those interested only in destruction of these people and institutions take their comments elsewhere.

      Like

      1. @ Moonfire

        “we request that those interested only in destruction of these people and institutions take their comments elsewhere…”

        Hi Moonfire,

        Of course, you control the reins here, but excluding people with views you disagree with (that aren’t here to just be trolls) seems very dangerous for all of us.

        Strongly disagreeing is one thing, but excluding or asking people to leave a public forum is a huge step, a step in history, the beginning of many problems much larger than we are facing here.

        As M. Seres (who lived through the Nazi occupation in France wrote) “I beseech you, do not say “eliminates”, I consider exclusion as history and mankind’s worst action. No, let us not eliminate, on the contrary, let us include.”

        I welcome and need ALL the voices here, to try and embrace the full range of sincere expression and would be deeply saddened to see anyone excluded that is sincerely expressing their views.

        Please Call Me by My True Names

        Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow—
        even today I am still arriving.

        Look deeply: every second I am arriving
        to be a bud on a Spring branch,
        to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
        learning to sing in my new nest,
        to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
        to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

        I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
        to fear and to hope,
        the rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
        of all that are alive.

        I am the mayfly metamorphosing
        on the surface of the river,
        and I am the bird which, when Spring comes,
        arrives in time to eat the mayfly.

        I am the frog swimming happily
        in the clear water of a pond,
        and I am the grass-snake
        that silently feeds itself on the frog.

        I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
        my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
        And I am the arms merchant,
        selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

        I am the twelve-year-old girl,
        refugee on a small boat,
        who throws herself into the ocean
        after being raped by a sea pirate.
        And I am the pirate,
        my heart not yet capable
        of seeing and loving.

        I am a member of the politburo,
        with plenty of power in my hands.
        And I am the man who has to pay his
        “debt of blood” to my people
        dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

        My joy is like Spring, so warm
        it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
        My pain is like a river of tears,
        so vast it fills the four oceans.

        Please call me by my true names,
        so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
        so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

        Please call me by my true names,
        so I can wake up
        and so the door of my heart can be left open,
        the door of compassion.

        T.N.H.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Moonfire, congratulations for these clear words. Where have you been all the time? I missed such a statement in previous blogposts when other tibetan teachers and even other commentators of this blog were offended. But I think it is not necessary at all to “ban” certain commentators as this appears to be onesided, arbitrary and precarious! Is there no nuance inbetween, no middle way, no mediation?

        Like

  4. @Moonfire Agreed. I think the saddest thing is that people will walk away from scandals within traditions because of such painful associations, never having gotten past the fire-breathing dragon at the entry of the treasury. So sad. Where else will you find the exquisitely beautiful story of Asanga and Maitreya? The Advice to the People of Dingri? The many beautiful texts on Mind Training?

    @Pete, the religions evolved over centuries as ordering principles and orienting frameworks, to provide structure, harmony, and social cohesion, since the absence of those invites unimaginable chaos and treachery.

    Facile dismissals of vast swaths of human history, culture, creativity and experience cannot erase the beauty and truth provided by them thanks to the hard work of countless dedicated people striving to make things better for everyone. Have you never seen the Pietà or wept listening to the 9th Symphony? Have you never been to Notre Dame? The Pyramids? Gone to Assisi or Borobodur or the Ajanta caves? All of these inconceivable extraordinary places that blanket us with a sense of the Vast Sacred issue from religious ideas and the inspiration that guided individuals not yet talked out of the mysterious treasure of cultivated awareness.

    But alas negativity bias makes us prone to remembering the bad and forgetting completely the good, the true, and the beautiful.

    Like

  5. @Rick beautiful. _()_ Thank you. I want to make clear that by Agreed re: Moonfire that my intention is not and has never to bash religions, institutions, teachers, or teachings, and that I am aware that is not the purpose of this blog, in case my posts were the offenders.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. @Pete Actually Pete, not sure it was aimed solely at you. And for what it’s worth, Chandler’s book is replete with denied shadow, unquestioned givens, and serious distortions of the author’s own. It is yet another tract that completely misses the point of the universal call to do the inescapable work (for those serious about waking up). I empathize and know the need to walk away from religions and their corruptions, but remember that inside of you is an impulse to both transcendence and chaos, however masked, as vital as your breath which you cannot for long ignore without frames of reference to navigate it.

        @Thalia, wow. Whatever little credibility this blog might have had is now gone. Poof! @Catlover you get your way. I am now kicking myself off of this blog so as to spare cementing foolishness and willful blindness.

        Like

        1. @ Nan

          A wise decision, I’ve enjoyed your thoughtful comments. I’ve really had my fill of transcendance and chaos, but I know what you mean.
          Good luck.
          Pete

          Like

        2. @Nan,

          What do you mean by, “Catlover, you get your way?” Did I ask you to leave the blog? I just said we should all try to stick to the subject more without getting lost in debates about philosophy that lead nowhere. That even includes myself, since I sometimes get lost in these debates too. I’m guilty as charged. I am all for discussing philosophy sometimes, but OVERTHINKING can just go around in circles and it’s exhausting. If you’re gonna go off in a huff, that’s your decision.

          Like

  6. @ moonfire

    The way we talk to others is a reflection of how we talk to ourselves. If we tend to ignore or exclude external voices, opinions, feelings, we probably tend to suppress or deny them within our own mind. What I deny will probably come after me and bite me in the back later. So why not face it here and now, there might be a chance to learn and get over it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “Is Vajrayana Buddhism a Cult Religion? ”

    I still consider Vajrayana as a valid path, as long as its not understood as religion but as a mean to realize the Buddhas teachings. Even for westerners.

    But not as toy for people like me that follows uncritical an tibetan who is trapped by his own delusions. And so on.

    It seems to be a method for ripe adults who can take care for themselves. On both sides of the party.

    What is really positive with the “Rigpa-Soggy” case is what we all can learn from it. Tremendous.

    I mean even tibetans can learn a lot from it.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. @Tahlia/Moonfire

    Firstly Tahlia, I have to thank you for running this blog, because it’s been useful for reasons I don’t think I need to elaborate. I also have to say that you deserve some credit for having resisted the temptation to block my comments up until now, I do understand how difficult that’s been for you.

    The most significant thing is that I’m always polite and I never criticize anyone personally, I only take issue with their beliefs.

    This is a completely normal and accepted practice in any forum run by people who are mature enough to understand how essential this is in a democratic society. Silencing dissent is the first step on a very dark road and I think that’s what Rick New is trying to explain by his post and the beautiful poem he included.

    I wonder how this fits in with your much stated aim to compassionately help all victims inclusively.
    .
    Remarkably, in the present context, it seems you want me to be quiet just because my views threaten your beliefs.

    And it’s not convincing to justify that with the bizarre inference that discussion of the links between Sogyal’s abuse and the wider context of Tibetan Buddhism is not something we can discuss.

    Since you don’t seem to be able to produce any convincing counter-arguments, the only option that appeals to you is to make a rather sanctimonious request for me to take my comments “elsewhere”….. and then not give me the choice by blocking them anyway, as you’ve just done. That way it can appear that I’ve accepted your authority.
    ( which I’m afraid I don’t.)

    When you asked in a private email for permission to use my comments in written form, I gave it without hesitation, but that was before you understood that I think reform of Vajrayana, Rigpa and any rehabilitation of Sogyal is a naïve and dangerous fantasy.

    You asked my wife to post far more intimate details of her personal experience with Sogyal on your What now? ‘Secret’ facebook page, and when she declined, you blocked her immediately using the same pretext. I hear you’ve purged well over 100 other people too. Your position seems to shift slightly from week to week, to the extent that it’s rather difficult to be sure what it really is.

    You talk a lot about reconciliation and healing but it looks like that’s mainly a coded way of saying you’d like to preserve some version of the status quo; probably you’re hoping for the rehabilitation of Sogyal and the reform of Rigpa….. and of course my comments don’t fit into that scheme at all.

    Perhaps you’re hoping to mine all this for a book or use it to your own advantage in some way, but you have no idea how potentially dangerous that is.

    Many of us warned about Sogyal a long time ago and partly because of people who had the same ambivalence as you have now, our warnings were ignored and he was free to go on sexually abusing, beating and exploiting with impunity.

    Those 20 plus years of added damage have been considerable, and it was precisely the same short-sighted self-interest and lack of moral and intellectual clarity that you exhibit now that made it possible then and will allow it to happen again in some other form in future.

    Even then, I’m sure this “positive dialogue around change” as you call it, will be still be going on in much the same way as it is now, and that impotent “dialogue” will still be a soothing anodyne for people who like to just talk about how terrible abuse in the Vajrayana is, without actually doing anything to prevent it happening again.

    Anyway, on a positive note, I’m glad to say that the amount of testimony being received by UNADFI is now quite significant and more is needed.

    Best wishes and thanks to everyone who has sent their testimony.

    Pete

    Further fun reading :

    ‘Enthralled’ by Christine Chandler

    “Qu’ont-ils fait du bouddhisme?” by Marion Dapsance.
    (Currently in French only)

    Like

      1. Just once more again and for the last time: Is there another “whatnow secret” blog ?

        Why I want to know ? It reminds me of my time within Rigpa with so many “secret” little clubs, underclubs, special mandalas and whatsoever.
        People telling other people: “You dont have to know it” and so on.

        I “disliked” it a little bit, and considered it sometimes ridiculous.

        Like

        1. Hi there,

          I wonder why the admins or initiators are not answering themselves, but it’s not the first time that they turn into dead-man-mode.

          About another “what new” blog I have no information, I only read some time ago on this website that there exists a “secret” facebook group. Which people were invited to apply for via moderators and then being approved to enter.

          The information (facebook/email) was somewhere on this website.

          Like

  9. @ Moonfire

    It seems to me all the posters here appreciate your efforts and establishing a blog where we can all talk about these issues. I certainly do. Thank you!

    Perhaps if this blog was entitled: “How can we reform Tibetan Buddhism and Rigpa” instead of “What Now?” many folks would have self-excluded from the beginning.

    But when an open ended question like “What Now?” is asked and when the blog “encourage(s) deep reflection in students as they process the allegations of abuse in Rigpa and what it means for them.” then perhaps you could be open to what that deep reflection brings however difficult that might be (for all of us.)

    Many here have obviously been deeply reflecting for decades and if folks come to different conclusions that you, isn’t that what you are encouraging? Isn’t that “success” for this blog’s intentions?

    Limiting the range of discussion is what those in charge of the Rigpa Organization have done. Isn’t the connection between that approach and the creation of an environment for abuse to occur obvious at this point?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I and many others believe that this blog continues to be the most invaluable source of information for all who have been directly or indirectly harmed by Sogyal and Rigpa.

    Moreover, we believe that this blog has maintained its credibility, now that its moderators have asked the person to refrain from continually posting their anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda, as such propaganda is based solely on their prejudices, and gross level of misunderstanding.

    Sogyal and Rigpa do not represent the face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices.

    Thank you so very much to this blog’s professional and dedicated team for keeping everything on track.

    Marge

    Like

    1. “for keeping everything on track” ?

      What I have noticed here on the part of moderators/moonfire/Tahlia was persistent silence most of the time.

      There have been some cases of verbal abuse, for example, by some other persons than the one who is meant to be scapegoated now.
      It is surely by coincidence, that these verbal slips (in previous blogposts) came mostly from female avatars and I do not know why they have not been criticised by the moderators.

      The sudden strong reaction from moderators now looks a bit arbitrary and harsh to me and I definitely do not think that it is professional or constructive or fair.

      I think that tibetan buddhism does not have to defend itself and it does not have to be protected against “propaganda”, because I think the tradition and philosophy is solid and strong enough to tolerate criticism or enimies. (Of course people should feel free do defend or protect it anyway).

      It is another thing to protect participants of this blogpost, in case that they feel offended. That’s what moderators are for, at least I thought they were.

      Like

      1. @Simona

        Yes, I unequivocally believe that the moderators are keeping everything on track. In other words, they are moderating the comments in accordance with the initial aims and objectives of this blog.

        Unfortunately, there has been one person in particular who has regularly posted comments that often contains anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda, that is solely based upon this person’s prejudices and gross level of misunderstanding. Just scroll back through the weeks, and you can see it for yourself.

        I personally will have no further dialogue with this particular person via this blog, as not only does he seem to be on a personal crusade to bring down Tibetan Buddhism, but his extreme level of tenacity and blind cynicism prevents him from understanding that Sogyal and Rigpa’s destructive behaviour do not represent the face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices.

        Like

        1. Thanks Marge. I have no problem with people who decide to just “have no fürther dialogue with this particular person” who represents or presents point of views that one completely disagrees with. Although it is not the most mature way to deal with different opinions.

          But the decisions or the moderation of this blog seem to be very arbitrary and insecure, because some weeks ago some person was asked to “get out of the way – or get with the programme”, because he asked what was the motivation behind calling some tibetan lama bad names.

          So for the initiators of this blog this opinion “get with the programme – or get out of the way” seemed to be alright and served the purpose of this blog. (?)

          Obviously it depends which person is insulted or verbally abused in order to set some moral standards (for the mods in this blog).

          But I see it this way: either I have moral standards or I don’t. It does not work if I use some rules in some cases and in other cases I don’t. At least in my humble opinion.

          To now – again – identify a scapegoat to blame and to exclude is a sign of disorientation, loss of human values, lack of communication, lack of conflict solving. Argueing is not a problem, it would only be a problem if no rules are applied or arbitrary onesided rules are applied.

          I am with Nan here, who said that this blog lost its’ credibility and that it won’t be solved by excluding people.
          That’s my point here, I hope I could make it more clear now.

          Like

          1. @Simona

            Like I said, if you scroll back over the weeks you will see the many comments that one particular person has left, which on occasions has absolutely dominated the threads with anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda.

            Of course, everybody has a right to their own opinion, but the sheer unrelenting amount of this person’s propaganda serves no purpose other than to clog up these comment threads, thus preventing any fruitful dialogue that others would like.

            Simona, you said, “I have no problem with people who decide to just have no further dialogue with this particular person who represents or presents point of views that one completely disagrees with. Although it is not the most mature way to deal with different opinions.“

            Well, all that I can say is that I thoroughly agree with you. In fact I have never walked away from communication with anybody else before. I had attempted on a several occasions to engage in dialogue with him, and if you scroll back over the recent weeks, you will clearly see why I have come to this decision. Any dialogue with him is futile.

            Like

            1. Okay, Marge, thanks for your reply. I think I can understand where you are coming from and that you now think that a dialogue with Pete seems to be futile for you. Again, I see no problem at all with that decision of yours.

              The other thing is the statement of moderators, as authority figures able to impose rules here (legitimate, as they operate the blog) who kind of impose a ban on a person rather than making clear their pro-TB position without excluding people with a different opinion.

              These two positions are different. With the first one I can agree, with the second one I disagree for various reasons that I will surely define, if the mods should be interested in my opinion about that.
              Best, Simona.

              Like

  11. @ Marge…….and many others

    “Sogyal and Rigpa do not represent the face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices.”

    Really? And so they all supported and endorsed him unconditionally for thirty years because…….?

    (Or is that just “propaganda” and a “gross level of misunderstanding” ?)

    Like

  12. @Marge

    You’ve now posted three comments in succession about what a terrible person I am, with what you call my relentless “anti-Tibetan Buddhist propaganda“and how dialogue with me is “futile” so I don’t expect a reply this admittedly rhetorical question:

    Do you remember who posted this?

    “If Rigpa’s visiting Tibetan teachers remain silent while they teach at Rigpa, they should know that they are implicitly endorsing Sogyal, as it is widely known that Rigpa is synonymous with Sogyal’s activities.”………

    ……..”That is why, if Rigpa’s visiting Tibetan teachers have actually heard about the allegations against Sogyal, and they continue to remain silent while they teach at any Rigpa centre or event, they must understand that many Westerners will naturally presume that their presence at Rigpa is an implicit endorsement of Sogyal,”……..

    I’ll give you a clue……it wasn’t me.

    Pete

    Like

    1. I know, I am not Marge!
      But I think this is a good opportunity for everyone to reflect upon why some dialogues are so exhausting and even seem to be so frustrating that people refuse to continue, because none of the parties feels heard or understood.
      Maybe we could read the book that Rick New just recommended in “Trust, Communication and an Olive Branch” (?).
      Or try to find some commonalities in the content of the many comments, as you have already mentioned in your last comment, which is great, by the way, because you recognised that you find some arguments in Marge’s comments which are not too far from your own thoughts, obviously.
      That’s not always easy to accept, that the counterpart, the one we seek to convince with rhetorical arts, with intelligent and logic arguments, the one that we want to prove that we are right – and then find out, that the other person already understood what we mean, but still has a different approach or draws a different conclusion. Some work for us to do, but if we don’t do it, nobody else will.
      As Blaise Pascal once put it: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” He was supposed to have said that with a grain of humour.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Michael DM: “…I think reform of Vajrayana, Rigpa and any rehabilitation of Sogyal is a naïve and dangerous fantasy.”

    I agree with all this, with the possible exception of the “dangerous” part. After all, how could reforms possibly come about? They can’t be imposed from the top down, because Tibetan Buddhism is so decentralized. They can’t come from the grassroots, because rank-and-file participants (i.e., the customers) don’t insist on reforms. (Some do leave, but many more stay.)

    From a Marxist point of view, many of you are suffering from, and perpetuating, “false consciousness.” That is, you have internalized traditional rhetoric to the effect that certain religious specialists (“lamas”) deserve extraordinary deference, a belief which is particularly convenient to those lamas.

    Imagine, if you will,a kind of Vajrayana Reformation whose articles included such items as the denial that reincarnations can or should be identified; insistence on democracy within all Buddhist organizations, and the equality of all participants; and acceptance of modern scholarship as it pertains to Buddhist history. The lamas would fight this tooth and claw–not because they’re fundamentally opposed to progressive causes, but because this would challenge their political authority. After all, what would Lamaism be without its lamas? Would we care what they think, if not for who they are?

    This is why I say that Tibetan Buddhism will never change. All the Sogyals, Dzongsars, and Trungpas of the world are only extreme examples of a more thoroughgoing corruption that infects even the Dalai Lama, as well-intentioned as he may be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ beidawei

      > After all, how could reforms possibly come about?

      It seems to me there are many possibilities of change taking place, but they require that we recognize when we give up our power. The capacity for change is in our collective potential for coherence, our ability to release our stances.

      “We often find that we cannot easily give up the tendency to hold rigidly to patterns of thought built up over a long time. We are then caught up in what may be called absolute necessity. This kind of thought leaves no room at all intellectually for any other possibility, while emotionally and physically, it means we take a stance in our feelings, in our bodies, and indeed, in our whole culture, of holding back or resisting. This stance implies that under no circumstances whatsoever can we allow ourselves to give up certain things or change them.” — David Bohm

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @ Beidawei

      It’s refreshing to hear someone with an understanding that religion has a political dimension.

      I used to think that Marx was exaggerating when he said that religion was the opiate of the masses, but having had experience of opium and then religion, I think he wasn’t far off the mark. Except that nobody expects opiates to solve their problems permanently. The whole quote is more nuanced and sympathetic, and Marx criticizes the oppression that drives people to religion, where they get fooled into accepting a false promise of future happiness that diverts them from understanding their oppression and rebelling against it.

      It maybe why the idea of reforming Tibetan Buddhism is so popular……it’s more of a religious belief than a practical scheme, it’s another false hope for happiness in some distant future.

      It’s significant that so far, no-one has made any realistic suggestions about how it could actually be done.

      In reality, it’s hopeless, given, as you point out, that those in authority will never relinquish their power voluntarily, and only ever pretend to cooperate with anyone seeking to limit that power, which is exactly what Rigpa is currently doing,

      But it might take a bit longer for that to become fully apparent to people whose optimism, hope and faith still outweighs their experience and knowledge of history.

      Pete

      Like

      1. @ Michel DM

        > It’s significant that so far, no-one has made any realistic suggestions about how it could actually be done.

        There’s been a spectrum of possibilities laid out, from taking over control of the business side (as suggested by the Dalai lama) staying within a Mahayana approach, except perhaps for those who want to take on the risk (https://tricycle.org/magazine/no-right-no-wrong/) coming together (on an ordinary level similar to unions), etc., etc. There are an infinite number of creative ways forward.

        Of course, of one has come to the conclusion it is impossible, then by definition no approach will seem realistic.

        Like

        1. Hi Rick,

          I read the interview with Pema Chodron in Tricycle, I think anyone who would worship someone as dysfunctional as Trungpa and justify his abuse has been thoroughly brain-washed, but her talent for revisionist sophistry is certainly impressive…….. “My undying devotion to Trungpa Rinpoche comes from his teaching me in every way he could that you can never make things right or wrong.”

          Sounds familiar…..

          That idea is so obviously nonsense in so many ways that it’s close to madness, sheer intellectual and moral brain fog. I really hope it doesn’t catch on with doctors, nurses, engineers, politicians, drivers, pilots, teachers, parents……anyone at all in fact……you get the idea.

          Where and when was this ‘spectrum of possibilities’ laid out exactly? I must have missed it, but I’d be interested to hear more. Coming up with theoretical plans is not impossible, but given the power, money and status involved, putting it into practice will be. Can you cite one historical example of an elite voluntarily giving up power?

          Anyway, a few years down the road we’ll see whether anything changes.

          Pete

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @ Michel DM

            > anyone who would worship someone as dysfunctional as Trungpa and justify his abuse has been thoroughly brain-washed,

            Totally agree!

            Why do you think Pema Chodron worships Trungpa? Do you equate devotion with worship?

            Is TNH (in his poem) worshipping the pirate that raped the little girl? No, but the poem spills over with infinite devotion.

            >Where and when was this ‘spectrum of possibilities’ laid out exactly? I must have missed it, but I’d be interested to hear more.

            Let’s talk!

            > Anyway, a few years down the road we’ll see whether anything changes.

            This seems up to us.

            Like

            1. “I don’t think that the military force can remove the wrong perceptions; in fact they can strengthen these wrong perceptions. The only way to remove wrong perceptions is to establish a dialogue. The two instruments that you need to use to restore communication are deep listening and loving speech.”

              TNH

              Like

              1. @ Michel DM

                > Rick, could you explain the difference between worship and devotion please?

                The differences are vast.

                Worship is as Trungpa writes:
                “Taking refuge in a mother or father-principle is truly self-defeating; the refuge-seeker has no real basic strength at all, no true inspiration. He is constantly busy assessing greater and smaller powers.”

                “If we are small, then someone greater can crush us. We seek refuge because we cannot afford to be small and without protection. We tend to be apologetic: “I am such a small thing, but I acknowledge your great quality. I would like to worship you and join your greatness, so will you please protect me?”

                And goes on to describe the final stage of devotion, of relating to the teacher:
                “it is like passing a rock in the road. You do not even pay attention to it; you just pass by and walk away.”

                Devotion is what you are expressing when you want to eliminate religion, it is the powerful energy that appears from seeing through illusions and brainwashing.

                Devotion includes your cynicism, your connection to those still brainwashed.

                Devotion includes your wish that others not go through suffering and your efforts toward justice.

                Devotion is the song of TNH after having faced years of war and violence.

                “Please call me by my true names,
                so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
                so I can see that my joy and pain are one.”

                Finally, it is coming to terms with a non-divided world, not conceptually, but as a way of taking responsibility and expressing our response-ability.

                “So you had better not step onto the spiritual path unless you must. Once you have stepped foot on the path, you have really done it, you cannot step back. There is no way of escaping.” CT

                There isn’t any way to leave our past is there? Where would we go?

                It seems your efforts are fueled by an energy, that energy is devotion, a desire to help, it need not be directed toward something or someone.

                Like

      2. “The concern here is obviously one of not wanting to see students get hurt. Once you become a teacher—just as if you become a monk or a nun—you can’t blindly keep doing what you always did. You have to be more mindful about how your behavior affects others. So that’s one side of it.

        And I’m glad to see this subject discussed. It’s important for students to see that dharma teachers have tempers or aggression or passion. Buddhism isn’t about seeing a world all cleaned up or thinking that the world can be all cleaned up.

        The other side is that it brings up peoples’ moralism, their conventional-mindedness. It concerns me that guidelines like these may become like some government edict or law of the land. My whole training in Buddhism has been that there is no way to tie up all the loose ends. And that comes from my teachers and from the teachings. You’re never going to erase the groundlessness.

        You’re never going to have a neat, sweet little picture with no messiness, no matter how many rules you make. It’s important to have all the different positions expressed, from the left to the right, from the most liberal to the most uptight. ”

        Pema Chödrön

        Like

      3. My guess is that you were banned ( which clearly hasn’t happened because you’re posting as much or more than ever) because of your single minded arrogance that you’ve got it all figured out and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

        Basically end of dialogue, a polite way of saying shut up you’re wrong, over and over and over again.

        THAT’S JUST PLAIN RUDE in any language.

        I’m sorry that you’re unable to see how all traditions are always changing and how some lamas, like Mingyur Rinpoche have already shown that true modernization is not only possible but of immense benefit to all.

        I wonder, will it be possible for you to accept this or will you try to figure out how to discredit and disparage him too? 😊

        FYI, Tergar teachers are westerners and fully empowered to teach. MR lives very simply, he almost died when he took off and tried to do a three year retreat.

        You might have seen this if you weren’t blinded by your single minded obsession. Sure, culturally they are in a very awkward, and protracted transition. Sitting back and throwing stones doesn’t help at all.

        Like

        1. @ Not so hopeful anymore

          We need all our voices, but somehow, we also need a way to not cancel one another out, a way to step out into the wider space that includes the full range of our capacity for good and destruction. This includes the teachers and ourselves.

          This seems to me what Thich Nhat Hanh is saying in his poem, from the wider view a compassion for OUR situation emerges, not someone else’s.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @ Rick New
            I agree we need all voices, but that requires mutual respect, active listening, not constant blanket statements saying the same thing over and over again, dismissing other people’s experience and sensibilities as ignorant over and over again.

            All community groups that I’ve been in start with start with community agreements, in this blog the agreements were stipulated by the moderator who started and maintains the blog. People who consistently ignore the community agreements need to take a break.

            I believe that one of the points of this blog was to encourage dialogue between people who are still fully invested in rigpa, those who were struggling, and those who have left, so that they may benefit from each other’s experience and wisdom. That requires everyone to own what they say as me/mine/I, it’s not a platform to tell everyone that what they think and believe is wrong. Maybe that’s too subtle a point for some, a feather is the most useful tool but some people keep slinging a sledge hammer. Some of the people who need to see this open reflection the most feel brutalized by the sledge hammer approach.

            It’s Tahlia’s blog, if people don’t want to abide by the community agreements that she set then I’m sure they can find lots of other places to rant and rave and condemn an entire belief system out of hand, they are clearly not interested in the discussion going on in this blog so why persist?

            I am not saying that they should refrain from stating what they believe, but as you know the way in which we say things matters, respect for others opinions is integral to dialogue.

            The experts mind, an easy trap to fall into.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. @ notsohopeful

              “I am not saying that they should refrain from stating what they believe, but as you know the way in which we say things matters, respect for others opinions is integral to dialogue.”

              Yes, it sure helps a lot when we make that effort. We are a long way from dialogue.

              Without it, I don’t see how the reform this blog endeavours to accomplish can take place. Do you?

              I think Pete feels dialogue isn’t going to help much and that the bottom line of the court system is all we have. It’s what the Rigpa Organization will listen too. Despite my feeling that this won’t produce much lasting change (especially in this case) I can certainly understand his point of view and single minded frustration.

              Still, I’m also discouraged by his lack of deeper dialogue, as that is part of the approach that got us here too. Change can take place on many edges.

              Like

        2. @ Not so hopeful

          Look I’m really sorry I’ve upset you so much that you’re calling me names and shouting at me in capitals again.

          Anyway, yes, whatever you say……I’m sure Mingyur Rinpoche is a true modernizer, which is obviously why, despite being comfortably off and famous, he spent a whole three years of his valuable time pretending to be a homeless destitute person instead of doing something pointless like studying to become a doctor. And I’m sure he really did do it……and it wasn’t to boost his street cred with westerners either.

          He almost died too…..wow, I bet all those other real destitute people who didn’t have a large monastery and lots of servants to go back to whenever they wanted to, thought he was so brave and cool. And those fantastic spiritual experiences he talked so modestly about on youtube….amazing.

          Yes, a completely modern and entirely sane, meaningful thing to do.

          And you’re absolutely right, all Tibetan lamas are in an awkward cultural transition, and it certainly is protracted.

          You can’t expect them to grasp difficult modern concepts like rational thought, equality, social justice, not implicitly endorsing abusers and so on……after all they’ve only had a few decades and it’s never good to rush these things.

          I hope that helps.

          Pete.

          Like

          1. Not angry at all.

            You’re apparent commitment to shut out anything that doesn’t fit your world view is actually quite sad…basically modeling your own single minded belief system that is beyond reproach. Somewhat ironic in a way, you seem fixed on the idea that your way of seeing the world is better then theirs, full stop.

            It’s no wonder you don’t think it’s possible for TB to adapt, we can only imagine what we ourselves can aspire to.

            Liked by 1 person

  14. the articles here are not bad. skimming some the comments it appears like some dynamics and gravitation of a giant black whole. who would pour their energy into a dark black whole once they got a clue.

    Like

    1. @ bintang

      wow, yes, but it’s also a nice subtle intense smell, something between lynch mob atmosphere and a sadistic teacher in a classroom, operating with reward and punishment. quite exciting, can’t wait to see who is next 😀

      Like

  15. On another note, I just wanted to thank those who have contributed such thought provoking, eloquent articles which have, over the life of the blog, covered so many relevant topics.

    Also thanks to those who have contributed to the comments. There has been much engaging and lively conversation, useful information, poignant stories and genuine attempts at connecting and benefiting one another.

    From what I have read here, no matter how exactly it is expressed, it does appear that most of us wish to be free from suffering and to genuinely help others be free from theirs.

    The diversity of views has been of benefit to me and perhaps others. I hope that no voices will be permanently silenced and that positive outcomes will arise for all who have visited here.

    Om Shanti

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Please watch the Larry Nassar Impact statements on Youtube. Not unrelated. Can someone please explain to me about the Vajrayana phenomenology which at some point in practice requires a consort (preferably around 12 years old with particular proportions)? When unknowing people take Vajrayana vows they have to swear to accept and keep the tantric vows. How does this core feature of the “quickest path to Buddhahood” fit adaptively into our society, where the effects of sexual abuse, however justified or framed, are scientifically documented as contributing to all manner of psychological illness including schizophrenia? I remember a woman in her 30s coming to the center I served (not Rigpa); she was visibly disturbed and extremely anxious and shared that she had been seduced by a Tibetan Lama. She was quickly shuttled away and dismissed as crazy. I so regret not having had the tools or presence of mind to listen to her and support her, it was too threatening to my noobie faith. I am very frustrated that this issue isn’t being confronted head on and that asking these questions is disallowed or discouraged for the most part.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. please consider how the denial of value hierarchies, the “non-judging” mind touted as the the same as being “enlightened,” the gross devaluation of conventional reality/experience, as expressed in the statement from Pema Chodron cited above, furthers abuse by denying what’s actually being experienced, by lying and all manner of lofty spins, causing people to doubt their very experience, conveniently relegated to “bad karma.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for posting, they are very moving.

      As someone physically and emotionally abused from the age of 5 I am moved by these testimonies.

      For those capable, I think we must get beyond our divisions and move into deep dialogue. As long as our deep divisions exist, abuse will continue in various forms.

      “We should keep in mind, nonetheless, that the dialogue – and in fact, all that we’ve been talking about – is not only directed at solving the ills of society, although we do have to solve those ills; we would be much better off if we didn’t have them. If we survive and we want to have a worthwhile life, we have to deal with those problems.” David Bohm

      The first survivor said “…I can’t help but wonder how many little girls could have been spared from this lifelong battle if someone at this university had done the bare minimum and just listened.” I can think of nothing more important.

      Bohm goes on to say, “That’s only the beginning. I’m suggesting that there is the possibility for a
      transformation of the nature of consciousness, both individually and collectively, and that whether this can be solved culturally and socially depends on dialogue. ”

      As students interested in some kind of truth, might we not come together in all the institutions we belong to, in all the settings we find ourselves in, in all our relationships and just try to deeply listen?

      Like

      1. @Rick I hear your vulnerable disclosure, and admonition to deeply listen, and thank you. _()_ I too was moved by the testimonies. Rachael Denhollander’s impact statement on another vid was epic in its grace, clarity, depth, maturity, and wisdom, and I could not help but contrast it with DKR’s letter and “contract”. In her words I found truth and integrity, and not obfuscation or denial.

        What emerges for me is really about mature relationship/relating; social evolution. But that can’t happen without a lot of healing. Buddha as Sangha. Sangha as embodied Dharma.

        But powerful spiritual practices produce a lot of titillation and energy that we in the west often don’t know how to manage or integrate all that skillfully. We can get drunk on the spiritual high, the sense of invincibility, particularly when convinced of the exalted mission we believe we are on, and then think “the laws of the universe (or my town) don’t apply to ME” and then wonder why the fifty car pileup. We can think the ends justify the means. Hazmat. Projects, agendas over people. Taming mind takes time. The Dharma is still new to the west. The operative notion is the institutions need to be grown, quick, before their practitioners mature, as if that’s the best way to preserve the teachings. Maybe. Lots of evidence to the contrary.

        Some time ago I read: “humility without humiliation is vanity.” Maybe framing abuse as humiliation could help us use it to rise from the ashes having conquered vanity and staged humility, and found our real solidarity with all beings.

        All I can do is offer gentle respect and deep acknowledgement to your 5 year old self. I had written before that I wanted to offer your 5 year old self a hug, and was pained at the thought of retriggering you. How would you say you’ve stayed strong? Your insights into working through trauma could help a lot of others here.

        @Pete please can you tell me, are your denunciations more about the Tibetan cultural manifestations or the Buddha’s actual teachings? How do you feel about the Four Noble Truths, tonglen, lojong, mental factors, eightfold path, etc? Your efforts t to dismiss something you perhaps don’t fully understand can’t hurt the Dharma, but can hurt you. I feel that’s what @moonfire might be trying to suggest is unhelpful since healing doesn’t require destruction of something outside of ourselves and not in our control for it to occur, but rather, transmutation. No one is done growing.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @ Gaté

          Thanks for your kind reply.

          Realizing the abuser and the abused aren’t separate and that we are all creating an environment together. Over time, the narrative of being abused has for the most part fallen away. I bring that up here as some sort of credential, like saying hey, I’ve felt that, too. Though really, we all have.

          I’ve been helped by so many voices, Sogyal Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse, Krishnamurti, David Bohm, Pema Chodron, The Dalai Lama, Chogyam Trungpa, Stephen Butterfield, Stephen Batchelor, David Michael Levin, Eugene Gendlin, Peter Sloterdijk, Tarthang Tulku, Donna Haraway, Spinoza, Sam Harris, Toni Packer, Gilles Deleuze, Anna Cox, Lama Tharchin, Lama Tharchin’s wife (can’t remember her name), my wife, all my friends, those in the Rigpa sangha who opened up to dialogue, those who haven’t opened to dialogue, everyone here, my family, I guess everyone I come into contact with that is participating in the world in whatever form. The list is endless.

          Dialogue is going on all the time and the chance to try and open to that is a great gift. Hopefully, we can all keep going deeper together, trying to listen. As David Michael Levin writes:

          “In our present historical situation, there is a pervasive alienation of meaning. And because we are alienated from the production of meaning, oppressive operations continue to control it. This situation constitutes a difficult social and political task. It also articulates the need for a recollection of being. …the development of our capacity for listening is a meaningful way of reclaiming alienated meaning and assuming response-ability for the future.”

          We are all in this together, the abuser and the abused, there are those who won’t listen, but that doesn’t mean we can’t listen to one another and also to those who don’t listen. That opportunity and possibility seems like a great gift.

          “Man’s kinship with the gods is over. Our Promethean moment was a moment only, and in the wreckage of its aftermath, a world far humbler, far less grand and self-assured, begins to emerge. Civilization will either destroy itself, an us with it, or alter its present mode of functioning.”
          Des Pres, The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps

          We are this present mode of functioning and we can begin to alter it right now, by assuming responsibility for this historic task.

          Like

          1. @Rick, I appreciate the myriad things you have found helpful to your process. But it seems to me your way of relating to them is what’s key. Can you speak more to that? Otherwise, it seems too abstract to me. How do those things allow you to experience healing? What specifically takes place for you? And what would assuming responsibility look like on the ground, moment to moment? People like me need a bulleted list as I tend to choke on complexity and want to hide under the covers. Do you feel Buddhist teachings address complexity adaptively? How do you break down the task at hand?

            Like

            1. @ Gaté

              Thanks for your post and questions. I will stay with them for a bit and try to reply in a little while.

              Like

            2. @ Gaté

              Maybe it isn’t personal and as Pema Chodron said, it is ““workable.” All situations are workable. That’s the nature of reality—it’s workable.”

              From that simple move, resentment and blame (of self and others) falls away and a kind of healing starts.

              I’m responsible and am response-able as a birthright, as buddha nature, or whatever you want to call it. We can respond and are responsible for that response.

              “We are human beings, not ‘students’ and ‘teacher,’ coming together and questioning, looking together, not having made up our minds about what we’re looking at, but starting afresh.” –Toni Packer

              Not a concept or belief, rather an affirmative action in each movement, an experiment. An actual trying out, new each time each combination, each situation.

              “no one knows ahead of time the affects one is capable of; it is a long affair of experimentation, requiring a lasting prudence, … Spinoza’s ethics has nothing to do with a morality; he conceives it as an ethology, that is, as a composition of fast and slow speeds, of capacities for affecting and being affected…. That is why Spinoza calls out to us in the way he does: you do not know beforehand what good or bad you are capable of; you do not know beforehand what a body or a mind can do, in a given encounter, a given arrangement, a given combination.”

              Gilles Deleuze

              Like

  18. @ Gaté

    > the gross devaluation of conventional reality/experience, as expressed in the statement from Pema Chodron cited above

    When someone expresses a wide view, it is easier to think they are devaluing conventional reality, but I think this is a misread. If you look at Pema’s life, it seems to be a strong valuing of conventional reality and experience.

    From the article:
    “He encouraged me to be very strict with my vows.

    He never provoked you or needled you about being attached to your vows?

    “Quite the opposite. He actually was very strict and used to say, You know people will be watching you, people will watch how you walk, how you move, and you should really represent this tradition well. In terms of how to be a nun or monk….”

    Like

  19. Someone mentioned silence from the moderators, so I just thought I should say that I simply do not have time to read every comment. My time is limited, and I only check when someone tells me that I need to attend to something, so I apologise to those of you who for some weird reason had their comments withheld by the system. I have approved them now.

    My apologies also to those of you who feel attacked by those who see no redeeming features in Tibetan Buddhism and keep stating their opinon over and over, sometimes in a rude or denigrating way. They will no longer be able to comment here. My apologies to you Pete but as I said before, the aim of this blog is to help Rigpa and Tibetan Buddhism make the changes needed to bring it into the 21st Century, not to destroy it, and consistently and vocally declaring such a thing impossible is not going to help the situation at all. It has become a kind of spam. Let’s have some other voices here.

    Like

    1. @ Moonfire

      >> My apologies to you Pete but as I said before, the aim of this blog is to help Rigpa and Tibetan Buddhism make the changes needed to bring it into the 21st Century, not to destroy it, and consistently and vocally declaring such a thing impossible is not going to help the situation at all. It has become a kind of spam

      I’ve found Pete’s posts and viewpoints extraordinarily helpful in discussing the reform of Rigpa and Tibetan Buddhism.

      “As long as there is alt of dialogue and all the different feelings and views are being presented and are in debate, then it doesn’t become sort of McCarthyism where you have to hold a particular point of view—or watch out. It would be very unfortunate to think that we can smooth out all the rough edges.”

      ” It would kill the spirit of Buddhism if it became uncomfortable or dangerous for people to hold opposing views.” Pema Chodron

      Pete is entering into dialogue despite many criticisms. I find this admirable and part of what can keep the spirit of Buddhism alive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Rick New

        Rick, you said, “I’ve found Pete’s posts and viewpoints extraordinarily helpful in discussing the reform of Rigpa and Tibetan Buddhism.”

        Rick, if you scroll back over the weeks, you will clearly see that Pete has made clear his objective – to destroy Tibetan Buddhism. If you have yet to see that, you have yet to read all his anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda that he has clogged up the comment threads with, week after week, after week. Not only that his propaganda was based solely upon his gross level of misunderstanding, it was the sheer amount of it, and his rudeness and cynicism, that stalled the dialogue of others who want to find a way forward. Therefore, Pete had categorically disrespected the aims and objectives of this blog, time and time again. Everybody has been incredibly patient with him over the many weeks, but there has to come a time when the moderators have to say, enough is enough.

        I also made it explicitly known to Pete that I would not waste any further time in discussion with him, as not only did he seem to be on a personal crusade to bring down Tibetan Buddhism, but his extreme level of tenacity and blind cynicism prevented him from understanding that Sogyal and Rigpa’s destructive behaviour do not represent the face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices.

        Like

        1. @ Marge, I can understand every word that you say, but why isn’t it possible to let Pete have his destructive fantasy and leave it with that. As long as somebody feels challenged to protect TB against HIM – bit absurd, isn’t it? – because tibetan buddhism will not be shattered by the destructive perception of some of their opponents – as long as any person reacts in an emotional way (out of fear that TB could actually be “destroyed” by destructive conclusions), the offender will probably feel suggested to go on with their conversation.

          You might be right, that his “blind cynicism prevented him from understanding that Sogyal and Rigpa’s destructive behaviour do not represent the face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices”, but maybe it is not necessary or possilble to change his mind.
          If Pete does’nt see it that way, that does not affect my own understandig or perception or the perception of anybody else.

          To treat him like a dangerous good that has to be removed hints rather to an unstable conviction about TB of the person that needs to have him removed.
          Only if his destructive vision resonates with something inside of myself – which I have to deny under all circumstances – I would have to fight against him and remove him.

          Instead of looking at what makes me fear and deny the fear.
          It might be my own anger which is so overwhelming and threating that it would be more comfortable to project the destructive anger onto somebody else.
          So even if one culprit is removed, he has been desperately needed. And as long as I do not confront my own anger (which is only destructive as long as I don’t want to acknowledge it) I will need some outer culprits again and again.

          Sorry for this kind of pseudo-psychological explanation, as I am not a psychologist, but I have experienced what I am talking about and don’t know how to describe it otherwise in this short and limited frame.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @el condor well expressed, thank you.”Instead of looking at what makes me fear and deny the fear.
            It might be my own anger which is so overwhelming and threating that it would be more comfortable to project the destructive anger onto somebody else. So even if one culprit is removed, he has been desperately needed. And as long as I do not confront my own anger (which is only destructive as long as I don’t want to acknowledge it) I will need some outer culprits again and again.”

            So true. Cut off the head of the hydra and a hundred more pop out.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Desiring a dialogue and fruitful discussions and not caring for the thread and commentators on a regular basis seems to be very contradictory. It’s a bit like being a parent: if I don’t have time to care for them myself, I ask somebody else to care for my children.
      Moderation in my humble opinion does not mean to give a statement from time to time, but also to follow-up the reactions and to answer comments or questions (from time to time).

      What’s present here reminds me more of a police officer who declares a prohibition or ban and then disappears after the culprit has been arrested.
      I have seen some people leaving this blog, who were engaged in discussions, but apparently felt offended because of a lack of moderation or they were openly offended by other commentators.

      I don’t want to offend you, moonfire, but even a blind man could see, that this way of handling things is counterproductive for any discussion or dialogue.
      Your articles inspire discussions why would you want to extinguish them?

      Like

        1. @el condor pasa

          As you too had commented on Rick New’s post, below is a copy of my reply to him. Best wishes, Marge.

          Rick, you said, “I’ve found Pete’s posts and viewpoints extraordinarily helpful in discussing the reform of Rigpa and Tibetan Buddhism.”

          Rick, if you scroll back over the weeks, you will clearly see that Pete has made clear his objective – to destroy Tibetan Buddhism. If you have yet to see that, you have yet to read all his anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda that he has clogged up the comment threads with, week after week, after week. Not only that his propaganda was based solely upon his gross level of misunderstanding, it was the sheer amount of it, and his rudeness and cynicism, that stalled the dialogue of others who want to find a way forward. Therefore, Pete had categorically disrespected the aims and objectives of this blog, time and time again. Everybody has been incredibly patient with him over the many weeks, but there has to come a time when the moderators have to say, enough is enough.

          I also made it explicitly known to Pete that I would not waste any further time in discussion with him, as not only did he seem to be on a personal crusade to bring down Tibetan Buddhism, but his extreme level of tenacity and blind cynicism prevented him from understanding that Sogyal and Rigpa’s destructive behaviour do not represent the face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @ Marge

            > Rick, if you scroll back over the weeks, you will clearly see that Pete has made clear his objective – to destroy Tibetan Buddhism.

            Thanks, Marge.

            Yes, but Pete’s motivation is based on spending many years as part of the organization. He’s seen much suffering and wants to end the suffering.

            I may disagree with him, but he isn’t suggesting anything that many aren’t suggesting of the Catholic church or that Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens aren’t saying about religion in general.

            https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/16593.Sam_Harris
            https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/christopher_hitchens

            So, Pete’s views are very helpful to me as they are based on sound arguments. Any kind of way forward, must include the full range of arguments.

            As you said, Pete’s style doesn’t seem to be one of listening or much concern for other points of view. He feels satire and cynicism are OK in a setting like this and I’ve felt the brunt of his shutting off other points of view. I also have felt like stopping further dialog with him.

            An individual stopping dialogue is much different from being banned by a moderator, for expressing sincere views.

            That kind of exclusion and banning may have led to where we are. It seems to me that if we want to reform Buddhism, we can start right here, by allowing and encouraging a full range of voices no matter how distasteful they might be to our own approach.

            I was in the Rigpa Organization for many years and attended 2-3 retreats a year for quite a while. Sogyal Rinpoche and the Rigpa Organization seem very much inline with the face of Tibetan Buddhism. How many can be excluded?
            http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/adele-tomlin/dalai-lama_b_3851112.html

            If we don’t face the uncomfortable facts, how can we move forward?

            As Pema Chodron wrote:

            “Maybe he was a madman. And it doesn’t change my devotion because he taught me something about not saying yes or no but resting in groundlessness. And that’s more profound than my saying, Oh, no, he never did anything to hurt anybody, because what do I know, that’s just my projection, and making him wrong—that’s someone’s projection too.”

            For her, that edge works, for others, it is too close to insanity. Not talking about these things will just suppress them, and that just creates the ground for further abuse.

            Like

            1. It’s not his views that are the problem @Rick, it’s the way he expresses them. He dominates the conversation by continually repeating his position, and he attacks everyone with a different view. That makes many feel that they cannot express their view for fear of being attacked, as such it is not condusive to fair discussion. Some have complained that we don’t moderate enough, others complain everytime we insist of fairness. It’s dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t for us, but in the end the important thing is that people feel that they can express their view without fear of attack by others. Free speech must be weilded sensitively or it becomes harassement, at which point protecting the vulnerable becomes more important in my book than allowing people to say what they think however they feel to say it.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. @ Moonfire

                > Free speech must be wielded sensitively

                No, free speech must not be wielded sensitively at all. That is entirely the point of free speech.

                Pete is not a troll, he isn’t just trying to cause trouble, he is trying to be heard and he is trying to protect those who are vulnerable now and will be vulnerable in the future. I could not disagree with him more strongly or think his cynicism and satire are not helpful, but just as you are doing with the Rigpa Organization (who ignores us entirely) it is right to keep speaking.

                They probably feel you aren’t helpful, either. They probably feel you are harming others by bringing up issues of cults, etc. Have you been banned?

                Free speech was suppressed in the Rigpa Organization and that seems to one of the key ways people were made vulnerable.

                I know I feel very vulnerable that Pete has been banned. Who is next?

                Like

            2. @Rick New

              Hi Rick, you posted that quote by Pema Chodron, but you forgot to mention who she was talking about in that quote. She was talking about her teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who was widely known to employ skilful teaching methods during a very radical time in history of the Western world. His ‘crazy wisdom’ approach was very pertinent for the wayward culture of that time, when many of its people would not listen to the ‘traditional’ methods.

              Sogyal, on the other hand, was actually once heard saying that he wanted what Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche had (refering to his number of students and network of activities.) However, Sogyal showed no skilful means, no crazy wisdom, when he continually commited sexual, physical, emotional and financial abuse. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, however, never abused anybody or anything.

              Many of us have continually heard Sogyal’s small number of supporters at Rigpa trying to justify his abuse by saying that it was crazy wisdom, and then trying to liken him to the great Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

              Somebody recently said that trying to liken Sogyal to Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche is like trying to liken the squeak of a mouse to the roar of a lion. Sogyal’s actions were premeditated and fuelled by his disturbing emotions. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, however, quite simply showed the most spontaneous, creative and effortless display of wisdom and compassion that was pertinent for the people of that time and place.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. @Marge,

                Comparing Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to Sogyal is like opening a huge can of worms, imo. One could start a big debate on whether Trungpa was a true mahasiddha, or just another teacher with huge ego issues, but I would prefer not to get into that. It is my opinion, that Trunpa harmed people and I’m not a fan of his behavior any more than Sogyal’s.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. @ Marge

                Thanks, Marge.

                i was thinking of Pema Chodron’s response, more than Trungpa. In that article she is writing on a more horizontal level, speaking of her struggles and slowly developing attitude.

                The rug has been pulled out from under us in a very direct and painful way, by a skillful or unskillful rug puller. What is our “best response” to this whole situation at this time? What is my best response to you?

                How do we work together in this limited communication medium that is fraught with difficulty and the possibility of misunderstanding?

                Like

  20. @Rick Perhaps, but can you see how the “non-judging” mind gets conflated with “anything goes” when it comes to confusing and treacherous scenarios or “displays”? And for the record I respect Pema Chodron’s work, but am also aware that it, like many spiritual claims, can easily be misappropriated to justify unethical conduct by those who lack actual attainment and the prior disciplined training required to achieve it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ Gaté

      “I’m also aware that it, like many spiritual claims, can easily be misappropriated to justify unethical conduct..”

      Yes!

      Like

    1. “We should not be ashamed of anger. It’s a very good and a very powerful thing that motivates us. But what we need to be ashamed of is the way we abuse it.” —Mahatma Gandhi

      Please note that I would not articulate it the way he does, saying we “need to be ashamed” of the way we abuse our anger: I would say, that it would be helpful to “become aware” or to “be aware of our own anger” and how we potentially abuse our anger.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes.

      Same with Hollywood, music industry, educational institutions, etc. So, what do all these institutions have in common and how might we learn from these environments as we create our own group dynamics?

      Like

      1. If vulnerable people can be abused, they will be abused.

        There are people who will find and place themselves in positions of power, if they know they can commit abuses without accountability, or even better, without visibility.

        So we need to expect abuses to happen, identify where they can, and find ways to mitigate that.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes.

          And…

          Can we also work together to create an environment where fewer people feel vulnerable? Where we have a place to be deeply heard and a place to deeply listen.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I think there’s a need for different types of spaces when people are in vulnerable states due to spiritual trauma– and I think Tahlia is trying to keep that in mind. Facing disillusionment over our deep spiritual beliefs can be really really tough emotionally, spiritually and physically. So I think some people need some kind of reassurance about the type of environment they’re going to be exposed to if they make comments. Safety is very important when there’s trauma.

          In the beginning of this blog, there were very deep testimonies given by people– and people were struggling to find their ground. The “mantra” that was repeated a lot was that people could somehow hold onto two Sogyals, the one of samaya held in their heart, and the one that had been exposed in a very harsh way as flawed. So this is a sensitive journey in my opinion. There’s going to be rage and there’s going to be weeping and there’s going to be despair. It seems that a lot of those early people have stopped commenting here much. I don’t know if that’s because they find Pete’s and others’ comments to be too harsh and debilitating or just that they have other venues.

          But I think there is a place for putting boundaries on a healing space. In my early days of recovery twelve years ago, I desperately needed hope and a way forward that wasn’t cynical or angry. I wanted the Buddhism that still glowed warm in my heart to show its strengths, to prove itself, so that I could move forward. And many of the early comments I read here seemed to also be wanting that same journey.

          Now Pete, I am not saying that my way was the right and only way, but it was definitely what I needed for my sanity– and I will say that there has been very little opium in my spiritual journey!. Nor do I believe that this space necessarily has to be a protected space. Nor do I advocate shutting down freedom of speech. There’s a really value in having robust dialogue– in its proper time and place. But there is also a legitimate argument for putting boundaries on a forum for people who might be in vulnerable states of mind.

          Liked by 1 person

  21. @ Joanne Clark

    > But there is also a legitimate argument for putting boundaries on a forum for people who might be in vulnerable states of mind.

    Yes, but isn’t that what the private, Facebook forum is for? This is a public forum and I think those folks must be responsible to some degree for participating.

    Not being heard was the number one tool used at the Rigpa Organization and based on their apparent lack of response to this blog it still is. Blocking people is the most fearful move I’ve felt since participating here. It is part of how the Rigpa Organization functioned. Do we really want to repeat this pattern?

    Pete has a lot of helpful things to consider. We must face the fact that the structure of religion and Tibetan Buddhism may be the root of these problems. We may disagree with that, but it is important to consider that possibility. When someone offers their feelings and insight into that possibility they are offering a gift. We might be curious to find out more.

    “I don’t know. But there are predictions from the time of the Buddha that say that when the rules and regulations become emphasized over liberation or realization it is the sign of the decline of Buddhism.”

    “Historically, there is always tension between things getting too tight and then too loose. From my view, it doesn’t matter what is happening as long as it is all out in the open and we are not feeding into the fundamental source of suffering which is ignorance.”

    “As long as there is alt of dialogue and all the different feelings and views are being presented and are in debate, then it doesn’t become sort of McCarthyism where you have to hold a particular point of view—or watch out. It would be very unfortunate to think that we can smooth out all the rough edges.”

    “It would kill the spirit of Buddhism if it became uncomfortable or dangerous for people to hold opposing views.”

    Pema Chodron

    Pete wasn’t hiding anything, but I fear the owners of this blog may be hiding their agenda to write a book and become teachers. Hidden agendas often color situations in negative ways, can we talk openly about all this while doing our best to maintain a spirit of friendship?

    Like

    1. @Rick New

      Not only that Pete’s anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda was based solely upon his gross level of misunderstanding, it was the sheer amount of it, and his rudeness and blind cynicism, that stalled the fruitful dialogue of others.

      Pete continually sabotaged nearly every discussion on this blog, with vehement tenacity, and then just clogged up any fruitful dialogue that others were engaging in. It’s not that he left one or two comments during each discussion, his anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda literally wouldn’t stop until he hammered the very last nail in the coffin of nearly every discussion.

      By preventing Pete from posting his unrelenting propaganda, the moderators evidently do care about this blog’s comment threads, commentators, and fruitful dialogue.

      Like

      1. @ Marge

        Thanks, Marge.

        Crossing over into censorship is a big step. Those that take it usually feel justified because of many of the reasons you state. You make a very reasonable argument and I’m not denying anything you say. But the proponents for censoring speech usually do. We should feel the magnitude of that step.

        ““It would kill the spirit of Buddhism if it became uncomfortable or dangerous for people to hold opposing views.”

        If the purpose of this blog is to reform Buddhism, we should take care not to kill its spirit. There are other ways to respond to someone you feel is “with vehement tenacity, and then just clogged up any fruitful dialogue that others were engaging in. It’s not that he left one or two comments during each discussion, his anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda.”

        Not reading or responding to his posts is certainly an option.

        Excluding him creates a very dark atmosphere for those (like me) who might want to voice counter opinions. Who is next? Censorship and control is certainly a key reason why I stopped participating in the Rigpa Organization.

        The censorship approach feels all to familiar and could be seen as a key area of the reform in Tibetan Buddhism is being suggested. “Allow and encourage all points of view, even those we find distasteful or disruptive.”

        Like

        1. @Rick New

          Rick, what the moderators of this blog have done is in no way analogous to the destructive control that Rigpa showed.

          Pete’s sheer amount of anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda was an unrelenting hindrance to every frutiful discussion. It just put people off from engaging in the comment threads.

          The moderators of this blog have acted responsibly, like any other responsible moderator of any other credible blog would have done.

          It is hardly “censorship”.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @ Marge

            Thanks for your post. I appreciate your response.

            Pete is not a troll and is making very intelligent arguments about the danger of religion and Tibetan Buddhism. I heard the same arguments from Lama Tharchin’s wife in Seattle 34 years ago.

            How we can ask questions like “Is Tibetan Buddhism a Cult” and not allow talk about wanting to eliminate cults is beyond me. We are asking people to walk a pretty thin line if talk about eliminating Vajrayana Buddhism isn’t a reasonable part of answering that question.

            I’m crushed by this move of banning a reasonable (if cynical and full of satire) voice like his. If you look over the posts, I think you will find quite a few folks supporting Pete’s right to speak here.

            Like

            1. @Rick New

              Rick, you said, “I’m crushed by this move of banning a reasonable (if cynical and full of satire) voice like his. If you look over the posts, I think you will find quite a few folks supporting Pete’s right to speak here.”

              Well, Rick, I and many others have been following this blog closely since its inception, and we see Pete as its most unreasonable commentator, whose unrelenting anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda has done nothing other than to destroy the fruitful dialogue of others.

              Here is a little snippet of Pete’s propaganda, which was taken from this thread. (Bear in mind that this kind of rubbish of his just never stopped)

              QUOTING PETE: “Instead of naively trusting what Vajrayana Buddhism says, why not just be pragmatic and look at the results of what it actually does ? A thousand years of it’s total dominance in Tibet produced a primitive, brutal, feudal theocracy built on slavery and exploitation, where a religious elite used violence, superstition and fear, to wield absolute power over a servile population. A country so backward impoverished and that even the ruthless British Empire wasn’t particularly interested in it.” END QUOTE

              My gosh, Rick, how on earth you can call Pete “a reasonable voice” is beyond most of us.

              Like

              1. @ Marge

                Thanks for your message and for engaging in this conversation! I appreciate it.

                There are many mainstream, liberal papers and writers saying exactly the same thing as Pete is saying. While Pete is taking one side of the argument, he isn’t being extreme in raising these questions.

                I think we need this discussion. The word reform is an ambitious goal and attempts to squash dialogue do not seem helpful. I don’t know what is true, probably a wide range, a landscape of beauty and abuse. We each may often get stuck focusing on one side or the other.

                All I am saying is please let Pete speak, let’s don’t silence anyone that seems sincere. Trolls are another thing, they are only interested in disruption. Pete is interested in helping. I completely disagree with his conclusions and approach and find his manner offensive at times. On the other hand, he forces me to really confront what I think I know, I do wish he would do the same and I think if he did, more people would be willing to listen to him. For now, why not just skim over what he says?

                We are dealing with issues raised by 8 people who say they were deeply abused over a long period of time within a Tibetan Buddhist framework. Pete seems to be speaking well within the context of that discussion.

                “From a human rights point of view, the question of whether Tibet was feudal in the past is irrelevant. A more immediate question is why the PRC does not allow open discussion of whether Tibet was feudal or oppressive.”
                https://info-buddhism.com/Human-Rights-in-Tibet-before-1959_Robert_Barnett.html

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom_in_Tibet_controversy

                https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/feb/10/tibet-china-feudalism
                “Until 1959, when China cracked down on Tibetan rebels and the Dalai Lama fled to northern India, around 98% of the population was enslaved in serfdom. Drepung monastery, on the outskirts of Lhasa, was one of the world’s largest landowners with 185 manors, 25,000 serfs, 300 pastures, and 16,000 herdsmen. High-ranking lamas and secular landowners imposed crippling taxes, forced boys into monastic slavery and pilfered most of the country’s wealth – torturing disobedient serfs by gouging out their eyes or severing their hamstrings.”

                http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html

                Like

              2. @marge, as supportive as I am of the decision to kick Pete off the bench, that quote above is pretty accurate. Have you no familiarity with Tibet’s feudal history? Even the Dalai Lama has acknowledged that it was pretty rough.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I tried to post this reply, but it is still awating moderation. I’ll take out some links and try again.

                  @ Marge

                  Thanks for your message and for engaging in this conversation! I appreciate it.

                  There are many mainstream, liberal papers and writers saying exactly the same thing as Pete is saying. While Pete is taking one side of the argument, he isn’t being extreme in raising these questions.

                  I think we need this discussion. The word reform is an ambitious goal and attempts to squash dialogue do not seem helpful. I don’t know what is true, probably a wide range, a landscape of beauty and abuse. We each may often get stuck focusing on one side or the other.

                  All I am saying is please let Pete speak, let’s don’t silence anyone that seems sincere. Trolls are another thing, they are only interested in disruption. Pete is interested in helping. I completely disagree with his conclusions and approach and find his manner offensive at times. On the other hand, he forces me to really confront what I think I know, I do wish he would do the same and I think if he did, more people would be willing to listen to him. For now, why not just skim over what he says?

                  We are dealing with issues raised by 8 people who say they were deeply abused over a long period of time within a Tibetan Buddhist framework. Pete seems to be speaking well within the context of that discussion.

                  “From a human rights point of view, the question of whether Tibet was feudal in the past is irrelevant. A more immediate question is why the PRC does not allow open discussion of whether Tibet was feudal or oppressive.”
                  Robert_Barnett

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom_in_Tibet_controversy

                  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/feb/10/tibet-china-feudalism
                  “Until 1959, when China cracked down on Tibetan rebels and the Dalai Lama fled to northern India, around 98% of the population was enslaved in serfdom. Drepung monastery, on the outskirts of Lhasa, was one of the world’s largest landowners with 185 manors, 25,000 serfs, 300 pastures, and 16,000 herdsmen. High-ranking lamas and secular landowners imposed crippling taxes, forced boys into monastic slavery and pilfered most of the country’s wealth – torturing disobedient serfs by gouging out their eyes or severing their hamstrings.”

                  Like

          2. @ Marge

            Thanks again for your reply, I appreciate your position, but still question it.

            > Rick, what the moderators of this blog have done is in no way analogous to the destructive control that Rigpa showed.

            It seems to me that discouraging dissenting voices, asking folks to “get with the program”, and banning someone from the forum is much like my experience in the Rigpa Organization, though I wasn’t ever around when the Rigpa Organization banned anyone.

            Pete’s arguments are going to be a part of any serious discussion about religion and reform. I think we need him to understand that point of view more clearly. It would help reform efforts. Perhaps if we encouraged him, asked more questions and tried to understand he would be less abrasive?

            From a another member of the Buddhist sangha:
            https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/369/the-temple-of-reason

            https://www.thesunmagazine.org/about

            Like

            1. @Rick New

              Rick, you said, “I’m crushed by this move of banning a reasonable (if cynical and full of satire) voice like his. If you look over the posts, I think you will find quite a few folks supporting Pete’s right to speak here.”

              Well, Rick, I and many others have been following this blog closely since its inception, and we see Pete as its most unreasonable commentator, whose unrelenting anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda has done nothing other than to destroy the fruitful dialogue of others.

              Here is a little snippet of Pete’s propaganda, which was taken from this thread. (Bear in mind that this kind of rubbish of his just never stopped)

              QUOTING PETE: “Instead of naively trusting what Vajrayana Buddhism says, why not just be pragmatic and look at the results of what it actually does ? A thousand years of it’s total dominance in Tibet produced a primitive, brutal, feudal theocracy built on slavery and exploitation, where a religious elite used violence, superstition and fear, to wield absolute power over a servile population. A country so backward impoverished and that even the ruthless British Empire wasn’t particularly interested in it.” END QUOTE

              My gosh, Rick, how on earth you can call Pete “a reasonable voice” is beyond most of us.

              Like

          1. LOL! 😀 Yes, he is still the center of attention here. he must be reading the posts and feeling pretty good about himself right now. 🙂

            Like

    2. Rick, I don’t disagree with anything you say. I personally am not sure what role this blog should play– but I’m not part of the private Facebook group so I don’t have that to balance what I see here. I totally agree that vibrant, uncensored discussion of all aspects of these troubles is helpful. For myself, I needed that later in my recovery and it would have been dangerous earlier on. But I also acknowledge big time the dangers of continuing the same ole same ole party line of hidden agendas and closed conversations. My comment was to hopefully have the discussion about different needs so that people could understand why some find Pete’s comments offensive and threatening.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @ Joanne Clark

        Thanks Joanne.

        > My comment was to hopefully have the discussion about different needs so that people could understand why some find Pete’s comments offensive and threatening.

        Yes, I do understand how and why Pete’s comments could be seen as offensive and threatening to some and that does seem like a part of the discussion. I wonder if we could hear more from others about their different needs and capacities? What brings us here?

        I appreciate your coming in here at this point.

        Rick

        P.S. I’m trying to say that banning someone is a very big step and changes the conversation from what is being discussed, to one of closing off voices and how that relates to the troubles within the Rigpa Organization, cults, etc.

        Like

        1. You’re right about the dangers of banning someone. Has he actually been banned? That’s a little unclear. However, I was just thinking today that Pete’s voice is the most “evangelical” of all the voices on this blog. He’s the one with the strongest hold on his viewpoint, with little give to anyone else’s needs or perspectives. Many other voices here are more exploratory and open. Pete has made his mind up about the situation and his experiences with Rigpa. Full stop. I think many of the rest of us still have more openness. That isn’t to say he should or shouldn’t be banned, or that anyone should be banned– but I think that’s the line he’s crossed for some.

          Like

              1. Sorry, I thought they gave some free articles. I’ll see if I can post it back. It’s a humorous look at our situation 🙂

                Like

    1. @Rick, actually Jordan Peterson is anything but anti-religion, and anything but absolutistic dismissals and easy reductive claims. JP is also unlike Pete in that JP has done deep and thoughtful investigation over decades in multiple fields including neuroscience, psychology, religion, literature, and mythology. If you want to understand JPs thinking you can see his Maps of Meaning (free pdf on his website), which was motivated largely by the question: how did our beliefs, our inherited and acquired conceptual frameworks, lead to the atrocities of the 20th century? What are the conceptual underpinnings that can produce genocides and mass destruction? Unlike blogs like this, in which responses are often dashed off in the heat of unreflective reactivity, Peterson took 15 years to write his Maps of Meaning, after countless hours of thought, reflection, research, introspection, and study. He understood the stakes. I wonder if we here do.

      Also @Rick, would appreciate to hear more about Lama Tharchin’s wife’s observations and theories.

      @Marge with re: “Rick, what the moderators of this blog have done is in no way analogous to the destructive control that Rigpa showed,” your refusal to see that your thinking is the *seed* of the ideologies and behaviors you detest is exactly the point of Jung’s (and Peterson’s) assertion that we must work at the individual level most importantly by acknowledging and monitoring our shadow. The debate continues in Buddhism about the hidden dimensions of our minds.

      Using trigger words like “propaganda” to characterize dissent is a classic propagandistic approach, (as was mentioned in another comment performative contradiction) also known as gaslighting. *All* absolutistic perspectives are necessarily propagandistic, however noble their intentions.

      So if we value something deeply, we need to be able to see when and how its value is compromised in particular contexts. This is what it means NOT to be fooled by propaganda and ideology. For this Ken Wilber’s AQAL model is extremely helpful. Anyone with true insight into lack of absolute identity (sunyata) knows this, though that does not mean all values are created equal.

      You don’t add to your credibility by casting Pete’s ideas in an *exclusively* negative light without first engaging their content in a reasoned, informed, intelligent way, and inquiring further and inviting feedback. Instead of defending your position, can you please establish rigorously through examples and citations the validity of your position since we can’t abstract ourselves to formless floating in this real world of consequences?

      If you can’t do that might you consider inviting more exploration instead of less? Or leave it to others who have the ability and willingness to do so? @Pete same for you and your absolutistic claims that attempt to reduce immense complexity to digestible conclusions to avoid the work of uncovering important meanings. Razing depth of dialogue is also propaganda; facile conclusions should be left for kindergarteners and we are not in kindergarten anymore. If being fed a diet of false comfort, disingenuous care and concern for victims, and ongoing self-deception is ok for you, fine, it’s truly not everyone’s preferred diet. We can’t fool the psyche forever. Deep healing requires deep understanding, not just vacant staring into space.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @ Gate

        Thank you for jumping in and offering the wider perspective on Jordan Peterson. Yes, what you’ve written about him seems accurately representing his views. When I said he reminded me of Pete I meant in his capacity to confront and hang in there! FWIW I disagree with both Pete’s and Harris views on religion, but fully welcome and need to hear their arguments.

        > Also @Rick, would appreciate to hear more about Lama Tharchin’s wife’s observations and theories.

        This was a short conversation during a drive to the airport from Seattle (about 25 minutes). She and Lama Tharchin were going through difficulties and she talked all the way to the airport about the feudal structure of Tibet. I brought it up by way of saying this topic is very much a part of this conversation that isn’t going away, even if this blog shuts it down.

        “that …thinking is the *seed* of the ideologies and behaviors [one] detests is exactly the point of Jung’s (and Peterson’s) assertion that we must work at the individual level most importantly by acknowledging and monitoring our shadow.”

        Yes. For me, that responsibility is even more important for those interested in change. Otherwise, we see the results in the in the emerging attitude of the radical left toward suppression and control. Ironically, this further empowers the right and we find ourselves in a strange spot in the United States.

        Like

  22. Stephen Batchelor talks about the “lobster” within us, too.

    So, Mara is with us until the end, built into our DNA, a part of everything?

    Yes. Even the evolutionary process itself, and the fact that we have to die, is Mara. The fact that the world is an unpredictable, uncontrollable place is Mara. Mara is identified with all five skandhas, or aggregates: the totality of our psychophysical existence is Mara. That doesn’t just mean our bodies and our minds; it also includes the sensory world itself. This is an idea that a lot of people will balk at. But actually it’s the classical Buddhist doctrine of Mara.

    Then how is it we work against Mara?

    It seems that when consciousness evolves to a certain degree of conceptual self-awareness, we discover a curious freedom in which we are no longer driven by the blind forces of biology. We start asking questions like: “What is this existence?” “How can I lead a good life?” “Who am I?” As soon as we start exploring such questions, and try to put into practice the Buddha’s core insights into no-self, impermanence, and suffering, we find ourselves “going against the stream” of biological drives, as well as the constant shifting and unraveling of the phenomenal world itself. The Buddha called all this “Mara’s stream.”

    Like

  23. And why excluding voices is dangerous:

    “What happens when we do separate them? We fall into the trap of duality. Duality, both philosophically and psychologically, is this tempting idea that if only we could totally eliminate what we find unacceptable and evil, then we would be left exclusively with what we value and regard as good. This is not only naive, but dangerous.”

    From https://tricycle.org/magazine/living-devil/

    Like

  24. This is why, if we want to reduce suffering, we must try to deeply listen to one another. We are here to communicate and explore.

    Deep listening opens us to individuality, to difference.

    Cutting off one of us for the good of the group ironically hurts the group.

    Deeply listening to one another, regardless of the difference in our beliefs, honoring each of our voices, supports the group.

    https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/506/rubbish

    Like

    1. @Rick, from the Batchelor article you posted above (thank you!):

      “Buddha-nature and Mara-nature are inseparable. Like a valve that can either be opened or closed, this organism has the capacity to unfold (Buddha) or shut down (Mara).” Wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I haven’t posted here for months, leaving because some posts were being edited and posters banned. Now that I check in on the site again, I see it’s still happening. I said then it was profoundly undemocratic. It still is.

    On top of that, I see from this and other threads that videos of right wing ideologues are being posted.

    And I see we also have new posters who wish to shut down debate by saying those they disagree with are using “propaganda”, or have “gross misunderstanding”, without ever actually debating the substance of the arguments themselves. This is very disturbing.

    I used to smile wryly when I heard people like Christopher Hitchens say that Buddhism was just like other religions: “Oh, Christopher! How wrong you are! We’re nothing like that!” I was wrong. He was right.

    I am so thankful all of this broke into the public domain when it did. The responses to the allegations are actually more revealing than the content of the allegations. I feel I have dodged a bullet. I want nothing to do with this any more.

    I won’t be posting here ever again. I wish you all well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Joseph

      DEFINITION OF PROPAGANDA: Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.

      That clearly defines what the perpetrator was posting. It is irrespective whether one agrees with the content of it or not. The perpertrator of this propaganda was unrelenting and unwilling to engage in any dialgoue.

      Moreover, his extreme level of tenacity and blind cynicism prevented him from understanding that Sogyal and Rigpa’s highly abusive behaviour did not represent the face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices.

      Here is a little snippet of his propaganda, which was taken from this thread. Bear in mind that it just never stopped:

      QUOTE: “Instead of naively trusting what Vajrayana Buddhism says, why not just be pragmatic and look at the results of what it actually does ? A thousand years of it’s total dominance in Tibet produced a primitive, brutal, feudal theocracy built on slavery and exploitation, where a religious elite used violence, superstition and fear, to wield absolute power over a servile population. A country so backward impoverished and that even the ruthless British Empire wasn’t particularly interested in it.” END QUOTE

      The sheer amount of this kind of anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda was an unrelenting hindrance to every frutiful discussion. It just put people off from engaging in the comment threads.

      The moderators of this blog have acted responsibly, like any other responsible moderator of any other credible blog would have done.

      Like

    2. @ Joseph

      Thanks for the reminder, Joseph. Sometimes responses seem to go afield, but they are part of a response to a particular moment.

      “I used to smile wryly when I heard people like Christopher Hitchens say that Buddhism was just like other religions: “Oh, Christopher! How wrong you are! We’re nothing like that!” I was wrong. He was right.”

      Yes, it’s a good reminder that any belief or concept can function at the same level. Your insights are powerful and your voice is needed, here or where ever you are.

      Take care,

      Rick

      Like

  26. It matters what thoughts think thoughts. It matters what knowledges
    know knowledges. It matters what relations relate relations. It
    matters what worlds world worlds. It matters what stories tell stories.

    What is it to surrender the capacity to think? These times called the
    Anthropocene are times of multispecies, including human, urgency: of
    great mass death and extinction; of onrushing disasters, whose unpredictable
    specificities are foolishly taken as unknowability itself; of refusing
    to know and to cultivate the capacity of response-ability; of refusing
    to be present in and to onrushing catastrophe in time; of unprecedented
    looking away.

    Surely, to say “unprecedented” in view of the realities of
    the last centuries is to say something almost unimaginable. How can we
    think in times of urgencies without the self-indulgent and self-fulfilling
    myths of apocalypse, when every fiber of our being is interlaced, even
    complicit, in the webs of processes that must somehow be engaged and
    repatterned? Recursively, whether we asked for it or not, the pattern
    is in our hands. The answer to the trust of the held-out hand: think
    we must.

    Instructed by Valerie Hartouni, I turn to Hannah Arendt’s analysis
    of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann’s inability to think. In that
    surrender of thinking lay the “banality of evil” of the particular sort
    that could make the disaster of the Anthropocene, with its ramped-up
    genocides and speciescides, come true.

    This outcome is still at stake; think we must; we must think! In Hartouni’s reading, Arendt insisted
    that thought was profoundly different from what we might call disciplinary
    knowledge or science rooted in evidence, or the sorting of truth
    and belief or fact and opinion or good and bad. Thinking, in Arendt’s
    sense, is not a process for evaluating information and argument, for
    being right or wrong, for judging oneself or others to be in truth or error.

    All of that is important, but not what Arendt had to say about the evil
    of thoughtlessness that I want to bring into the question of the geohistorical
    conjuncture being called the Anthropocene.

    Arendt witnessed in Eichmann not an incomprehensible monster, but
    something much more terrifying—she saw commonplace thoughtlessness.
    That is, here was a human being unable to make present to himself
    what was absent, what was not himself, what the world in its sheer notone-selfness
    is and what claims-to-be inhere in not-oneself.

    Here was someone who could not be a wayfarer, could not entangle, could not
    track the lines of living and dying, could not cultivate response-ability,
    could not make present to itself what it is doing, could not live in consequences
    or with consequence, could not compost.

    Function mattered,duty mattered, but the world did not matter for Eichmann. The world
    does not matter in ordinary thoughtlessness. The hollowed-out spaces
    are all filled with assessing information, determining friends and enemies,
    and doing busy jobs; negativity, the hollowing out of such positivity,
    is missed, an astonishing abandonment of thinking.

    This quality was not an emotional lack, a lack of compassion, although surely that
    was true of Eichmann, but a deeper surrender to what I would call immateriality,
    inconsequentiality, or, in Arendt’s and also my idiom, thoughtlessness.
    Eichmann was astralized right out of the muddle of thinking
    into the practice of business as usual no matter what. There was no way
    the world could become for Eichmann and his heirs—us?—a “matter of
    care.”

    Donna Haraway, Staying With the Trouble

    Like

  27. In my opinion, I think people need to stop posting so many irrelevant video links. It’s starting to feel like spam to me. Disclaimer: my post is not directed at anyone personally, and I’m not paying much attention to WHO is posting videos, but I am noticing a lot of them lately. Many of the videos are only distantly related to the topic at hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @ Catlover

      Thanks for the reminder, Catlover. I think specific points were trying to be brought out in specific situations, but it is a good reminder to pull in the range a bit.

      Part of what ignited this was Pete being banned or blocked. That move shifted things for me from the topic to banning, blocking, suppressing, etc.

      How do we talk about that without going afield?

      Thanks,

      Rick

      Like

      1. Is our looking away related?

        of refusing
        to know and to cultivate
        the capacity of response-ability; of refusing
        to be present in and
        to onrushing catastrophe in time;
        of unprecedented
        looking away.

        Like

      2. @Rick,

        Thanks for listening to my post. 🙂

        I think there are ways of talking about suppression here without posting links to videos. I think people can just give their opinions on whether or not they think Pete needs to be banned. Morally, I personally don’t think he should be banned because he has a right to his opinion, whether it’s anti-Tibetan Buddhism or not. On the other hand, if a blog is run by moderators who feel that certain types of posts are inappropriate, they have the legal right to act accordingly.

        Democracy doesn’t say a private blog can’t make rules about what is or isn’t allowed. If Pete was suppressed by the government, that would be unconstitutional, but private businesses, blogs, and websites can make their own rules and regulations about what is allowed. Since this blog seems to be a blog BY Buddhists, FOR Buddhists on how to reform corruption within Tibetan Buddhism, and it’s stated on the front page that anti-Buddhist/religious views are not accepted on this blog. Whule non-Buddhists and some anti-Tibetan views may be tolerated here in moderation, it is up to the mods to decide when things have crossed the line, according to their own stated rules. If Pete started his own blog, he would have the same right to control what is said. He could say that bashing anti-Tibetan Buddhist views isn’t accepted on his blog, lol! 😀

        So, that is my own, personal view on this situation.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @ Catlover

          > Democracy doesn’t say a private blog can’t make rules about what is or isn’t allowed.

          Yes. Though it isn’t about rules or democracy or what rights an owner of a blog has.

          When people speak up or have spoken up in the Rigpa Organization about abuse they were suppressed, not listened to, told they were just repeating the same things over and over, asked to get with the program, stop causing trouble, told they could just go somewhere else, etc.

          This is why this subject is very relevant here and why it has a lot to do with the subject of reform.

          Thanks,

          Rick

          Like

          1. Well, as I said, I *personally* don’t think Pete should be banned, for the reasons you stated, but I am not the mods, so if you disagree with their policies, you need to take it up with them. I am saying they have a right to dictate their blog to some extend, regardless of whether I agree personally or not.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hi Catlover,

              Yes, agreed they have full rights to do whatever they want here.

              Rigpa Organization has full rights to do whatever they want that isn’t illegal. So, teachers can have sex with students, be cruel, act like a cult, whatever our criticisms are of them, they have full rights to do. That is kind of a low bar isn’t it?

              Thanks,

              Rickc

              Like

              1. @Rick,

                How can you compare physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse with moderating an internet blog? Also, many of Rigpa’s abuses were illegal, if all those things can be proven. Simply cutting off comments on a blog does not compare with actual abuse. Pete hasn’t lost his freedom. He can start his own blog, or comment elsewhere. He himself said he was surprised he wasn’t banned already in this group. I’m sure he saw it coming. he just kept commenting as long as possible with the full knowledge that his days here were numbered.

                I personally don’t entirely disagree with a lot of things Pete said about Tibetan Buddhism. I too have been a harsh critic myself, but I toned it down because I realized that this is not the place to air all of my critical views. This is a Tibetan Buddhist blog, so one can expect that sooner or later, they will crack down on anti-Buddhist posts. It would work the same way in reverse. If this were an anti-Buddhist blog, posters with a lot of pro-Buddhist propaganda would sooner or later be removed as well. Are you saying that private blogs and discussion groups cannot make any rules and must allow ANY content to be posted, no matter what the purpose of the blog is?

                Can we drop the debate now? We get it. You don’t approve of Pete being banned. Take it up with the mods.

                Like

                1. @ Catlover

                  > You don’t approve of Pete being banned.

                  I wouldn’t put it this way, not at all.

                  > Can we drop the debate now?

                  Of course. 🙂

                  Like

      3. Rick, do we need to talk about it anymore? Discussing it ad infinitum is not going to change the mod’s decision, nor the perspective of those who felt his agenda was outside the brief of this blog and was drowning out other themes pertinent to the Rigpa controversy.

        Speaking of “drowning out”, there may be other students waiting in the wings with fresh ideas who are reluctant to post due to the dominance of your postings on the above issue. So how about giving it a rest for a while? Thalia’s got a new post up – let’s see if some bright new flowers emerge to surprise us!

        I certainly endorse Catlover’s questioning as to the point of these vids.

        Like

  28. As Tahlia said, this blog is for people who want to reform TB, when someone posts the sentiment that the only option is to destroy TB, along with long winded examples and ‘proof’ in every single post, then they make it clear that they are using the blog as a pulpit to preach hateful rhetoric.

    Would anyone put up with someone slamming Islam in the same way?

    He was allowed to do this for months, being asked to please tone it down, to frame whatever he says as opinion, he was unable to contain himself.

    Like

  29. @ notsohopeful

    Thanks for your post.

    >> As Tahlia said, this blog is for people who want to reform TB,

    The title of this post is “Is Rigpa a Cult?” Isn’t it a reasonable response to want to eliminate cults? For me, that is an reasonable response to Thalia’s question.

    If you simply replace “Sogyal Rinpoche” and “Rigpa Organization” with “Tibetan Buddhism” in each of Thalia’s posts then asking the question, can this institution be reformed or not? seems a very reasonable question we should all be asking.

    Pete was trying to be heard. He has a lot of experience and history in the Rigpa Organization and that could be deeply respected.

    If someone from the outside came and read Thalia’s posts about the Rigpa Organization, might many reasonable people come to the conclusion it should be disbanded?

    Thought I completely disagree with that conclusion, and approach, I think it is a reasonable question to keep asking in a group that is sincerely interested in reform.

    Thanks for listening.

    Rick

    Like

    1. @Rick New

      Nobody is denying that Pete had made many invaluable comments in previous threads, as it is true that he knows a hell lot of information about Sogyal and Rigpa’s highly abusive behaviour. But Pete’s extreme level of blind cynicism prevented him from understanding that Sogyal and Rigpa do not represent the true face of Tibetan Buddhism, or its profound lineages, masters, and practices.

      Rick, let me remind you of what you had said a couple of days ago: “I’m crushed by this move of banning a reasonable (if cynical and full of satire) voice like his. If you look over the posts, I think you will find quite a few folks supporting Pete’s right to speak here.”

      I and many others have been following this blog closely since its inception, and we saw Pete’s unrelenting anti-Tibetan Buddhism propaganda do nothing other than to destroy the fruitful dialogue of others. Here is a little snippet of such propaganda. (Bear in mind that this kind of rubbish of his just never, ever stopped)

      QUOTING PETE: “Instead of naively trusting what Vajrayana Buddhism says, why not just be pragmatic and look at the results of what it actually does ? A thousand years of its total dominance in Tibet produced a primitive, brutal, feudal theocracy built on slavery and exploitation, where a religious elite used violence, superstition and fear, to wield absolute power over a servile population. A country so backward and impoverished that even the ruthless British Empire wasn’t particularly interested in it.” END QUOTE

      Rick, how on earth you can call Pete “a reasonable voice” is beyond most of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. HI Marge,

    Yes, that’s a good quote. Let’s break it down.

    Pete:
    >> “Instead of naively trusting what Vajrayana Buddhism says”

    That could be words from Buddha himself in the Kalama Sutta.

    “Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing (anussava),
    nor upon tradition (paramparā),
    nor upon rumor (itikirā),
    nor upon what is in a scripture (piṭaka-sampadāna)
    nor upon surmise (takka-hetu),
    nor upon an axiom (naya-hetu),
    nor upon specious reasoning (ākāra-parivitakka),
    nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over (diṭṭhi-nijjhān-akkh-antiyā),
    nor upon another’s seeming ability (bhabba-rūpatāya),
    nor upon the consideration, The monk is our teacher (samaṇo no garū)”

    Pete:
    >> “Why not just be pragmatic and look at the results of what it actually does ?”

    And again, I think Buddha concurs.

    “when you yourselves know: “These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,” enter on and abide in them.”

    So far, pretty good, Pete looks like he’s been listening to the teachings!

    Pete:
    >> A thousand years of its total dominance in Tibet produced a primitive, brutal, feudal theocracy built on slavery and exploitation, where a religious elite used violence, superstition and fear, to wield absolute power over a servile population.”

    I think the Dalai Lama has also criticised Tibet’s past in such a way, as many other scholars, too.

    Pete:
    >> “A country so backward and impoverished that even the ruthless British Empire wasn’t particularly interested in it.”

    My history is not so good and maybe Pete stepped over the line and his biting satire comes into play here with the British Empire, but not much doubt that Tibet was backward and impoverished in many ways.

    So, maybe there is argument that “the British Empire wasn’t interested”, but my history isn’t comprehensive enough to know, so I’d need to research.

    If we are talking here about reform, it seems like a history lesson is a good place to start. So, what in Pete’s statements should be suppressed? Is history off the table when talking about a project as large as reforming Tibetan Buddhism?

    Like

    1. It may be correct that the Chinese were able to invade as the Brits weren’t that interested in defending Tibet. Unusual for the Brits to experience Empire fatigue!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. @ Marge

    And let’s grab a quote from Thalia’s most recent:

    “In terms of what constitutes a cult, the reasoning behind such demands is irrelevant, it’s the result of the belief that is looked at, and the result of such a belief is that people fear to raise issues that should be raised, and if they do raise them, they are shut down”

    Doesn’t this criteria apply here, too?

    Like

      1. @Cat Lover

        Indeed, Pete may well write under the pseudonym of Rick, lol 😆

        Continuing to deliberately omit the bigger picture.
        Ridiculous level of defense of what is obviously unacceptable.

        Yup, could well be Pete.

        Like

  32. Catlover & Marge, as Rick has become Pete’s chief defender i can understand how you may conclude that they are one and the same person. Personally i don’t think so as their writing styles & themes generally differed, until recently.

    However, my impression is that some posters here do have multiple aliases. When we are striving for the restoration of integrity and authenticity to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this doesn’t seem to be a very authentic way to present one’s views.

    The blog will be winding up soon so fess up now!

    Like

    1. @matilda7,

      Since you addressed your message to Marge and myself, I was wondering if you asking me to fess up? I only use the name ‘Catlover’ on this blog, although I have used other names on other blogs.

      Like

      1. @catlover

        Don’t worry, I actually thought that @matilda merely mentioned our names as we both had commented on the striking similarity of Rick and Pete’s posts, and therefore I thought that she was just generally speaking… am I right @matilda ?

        Like

Comments are closed.