Vajrayana Buddhism in the Modern World.

Dzongsar Kyentse’s talks in Europe have begun. The first, in Berlin, was titled “Vajrayana Buddhism in the Modern World” and it has been uploaded unedited to the Rigpa videos You Tube channel in both English and German. It also appears on the Sidharta’s Intent channel.

It’s 3 hours, so quite a committment to watch, so my house got cleaned from top to bottom while I listened on my phone.  Depending on how you feel about DZK, you might feel some aversion to the idea of listening at all, but I found it well worth listening to. He did make some important clarifications and needed critical commentary on the issue of the translation of Tibetan Buddhism into the West.

How to listen

I feel I do have to mention this, since my last post could be interpreted to mean that we listen only to see what isn’t true, which wasn’t my intention. In it I reminded you to not believe everything you hear out of respect alone, but to use your wisdom of discernment. Today I remind you to listen without ‘poison in your cup’, without hatred or aversion in your heart, but rather with the intention of trying to understand his points. As he points out, if we watch with a positive mind we will see the positive, if we watch with a negative mind we will see only negative. Our challenge is to listen with an open mind, not obscured by any assumptions or projections and with the intention of understanding what he is saying and whether it rings true for us or is helpful in light of the present situation.

I suggest you don’t expect anything either, because if you expect anything, you will probably be disappointed.

[Some of the following was edited and republished on March 1st 5.37pm AEDST]

I don’t want to say too much about it, because it’s better you consider it for yourself, but I feel I need to warn you about the begining or some of you you may not get past it, and the edifications and criticisms of how lamas teach come later. So stick with it. There are some good dharma teachings here; the issues in my mind are not the varjayana when correctly understood, but our attitudes towards it and how we apply it.

Stuff to wade through

Something that might scream at some of you is that in the first hour he appears to denigrate the teachings of the shravakayana and Mahayana by calling them Cinderella teachings, teachings the Buddha didn’t really mean. He referred to the vinyana as for babies with a lot of desire and equates the Vajrayana with the real thing, the teachings the Buddha meant, the ones equated with wisdom. I looked past his inflamatory use of language, but if you don’t find that so easy, note that he does later say that all the shravaka and mahayana teachings are the basis of vajryana and cannot be discarded. The perceived arrogance could just be a poor choice of words.

He claims to care about the ‘alleged victims’ a lot, but that he cares beyond emotional or physical hurt; he cares for their seed of enlightenment and continuous spiritual path. He cares about the doubts they have about the Buddhadharma and Vajrayana. ‘I care so much,’ he says, then he adds: ‘By caring you just don’t want to lend your shoulder to cry upon, you want to do something more.’

Victims could find this an ignorant denigration of their situation and sufferings because he appears to belittle their immediate needs for care as just needing a pat on the back and a shoulder to cry  on, and he seems to denigrate any comforting form of compassion as irrelevant to the bigger picture of their spiritual path. I expect after being abused to the degree that some people have here, their spiritual path is the least of their worries, and despite his best intentions, this kind of attitude can come across as cold and uncaring. Christian missionaries attend to the needs of their communities for food, shelter and clean water, why can’t Buddhists also attend to the immediate needs of those suffering, especially when the suffering has occured at the hands of the Buddhist they were supposed to revere. Also to use the words ‘alleged’ at this stage does not even acknowledge the truth of their suffering. Worse, this is the exact attitude that caused them so much pain when trying to get help within Rigpa.

This really is a major point that DZK and those running Rigpa need to understand. Spouting absolute doctrine does not help someone suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome from trauma caused, in part, by people’s belief in and misguided application of that very doctrine. And it’s not a matter of changing the doctrine, but of making sure it is taught completely so it does not deny relative existence.

It seems to be a case of placing absolute doctrine over the actual needs of a person, a hallmark of a fundamentalist attitude (a strict literalism applied to an ideology). And yet, right at the end, he describes how we should deal with a situation where a sangha member comes to us saying they are in fear of being raped by the guru, and you might find his advice surprising.
I absolutely do not want to appear negative here, and so I mention this only  to encourage you to watch past the bits you might take issue with. And note that these are things that were insinuated by word choice and lack of clarification, not things he stated outright, and so may possibly be only your own projections.
He does say some very useful things that should provide food for thought for Tibetan lamas as well as vajrayana students and Rigpa management.

The nature and responsibility of the guru

I didn’t want to say much, damn it, I need to get on with an editing job for which I’m actually being paid, but in the interests of balance and of encouraging you to watch the whole thing, I also want to mention his important clarifications on the nature and responsibilities of the guru, and the issues of how vajrayana has been taught in the West.

DZK reminds us of a vital point, that of the outer, inner and secret aspects of the guru, and of the point of guru yoga. He clarifies what a tantric guru actually is, and the difference between that kind of relationship and the relationship you have with the head of an organisation. They are not the same thing, and confusing the two has caused a lot of our problems. He even admits that Tibtan lamas are severely lacking in their understanding of Western people and have misused the guru ‘system’.

Despite the issues raised previously (which I point out not in order to criticise, but because for the sake of the dharma DZK needs to be made aware of them) there is much of worth in this talk and we must remember that it is only the beginning of a series of talks.

This is a talk about vajrayana, not about applying it to the situation of abuse by a guru. Rather than talk about the guru’s behaviour, he talks about the guru’s responsibilities. Only at the end where questions are read out do we get closer to the issue.

When asked if a guru has the right to beat his students, DZK replies, “If the guru’s actions damage even a little bit the seed of bodhicitta, pure perception, guru devotion, the guru will have to take the responsibility more than the student because he should know better.”

He gives some interesting insight into OT as well.

So here’s the video.

Opinions

There’s a lot in this talk that could be discussed, like the point that DZK really does need to talk to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Mingyur Rinpoche. Joanne Clark goes into this point in a post on the Buddhism Contraversy Blog.

And here is a short video that was posted on the Sogyal Truth Channel by someone who was clearly expecting more than they got. I have no idea who made it, and I feel it’s a bit mean in that it does not give any credence for the fact that DZK does actually say some very useful things, and that the talk was about vajrayana in the modern world, not specifically on abuse. However, I include it because it may bring some humour to the situation, and I think their point is that we are still a long way from addressing the actual issue of abuse in Tibetan Buddhism. Even so, I suggest that when watching DZK’s talk that you look for what he does say, not at what he doesn’t say.

The question that won’t go away

DZK also talks about secrecy and admits that it’s a difficult word. He explains to some extent its meaning in the context of vajrayana, but it still affirms the ‘don’t criticise’ dogma. After reports from DZK’s talk to the sangha in Berlin (which will be shown only to the Rigpa sangha) one point becomes glaringly obvious.

When students are silenced by a code of secrecy, such that they are not allowed to tell others what their teacher does to them and others, we can’t know what a teacher’s private ‘methods’ are, in which case how can we evaluate him or her? It’s not possible.

This is where the injunction against not criticising your teacher falls down – could vajrayana students not be ‘permitted’ to tell someone, ‘He hit me,’ with the good-hearted motivation to assist others in making an evaluation (as I believe the 8 letter writers did). Do we not have a responsibility to others to make sure that they have the information they need to evaluate fully?

And if we do decide that we are willing to take a lama as our guru and in true tantric fashion we are willing to ‘accept that anything can happen’ (quote from the talk), how can we trust that the teacher will not abuse our open acceptance and by their actions ‘damage the seed of bodhicitta, pure perception, and guru devotion’ in us?

The core of the cult issue must be addressed

Note – this section is not a commentary or criticism on the talk or an opinion on it. It’s just noting a topic that I would like to see DZK address in the future.

Since DZK has taken the role of advisor to Rigpa, he needs to tackle the core reason why in the eyes of some Rigpa slips over the line between a beneficial religious organisation and a cult that causes harm. I believe that it lies in the way that some Rigpa members have and still do use the vajrayana teachings to judge, denigrate, blame, manipulate and ignore the suffering of others (not to mention defending their own little kingdoms) all in the guise of being true to the vajrayana. According to some reports, this behaviour is so entrenched in the higher levels of the organisation that they are probably not even aware that they are doing it. I doubt they intend to do it, either, but it’s what some have experienced and why many do not trust those who stood by and allowed the abuse to flourish and continue. So as well as clarifying the meaning of vajrayana, what is needed in Rigpa is to examine how beliefs in samaya, pure perception, devotion and the very nature of vajrayana have been used as weapons against others – and note that I have seen this kind of judgement and condemnation in an email from someone in the highest level of management to one of the 8 letter writers.

For example; judging those who thought that Sogyal had caused people harm and declaring that they lacked pure perception, didn’t have enough devotion, didn’t understand vajrayana, didn’t have the capacity to be a vajrayana student and were samaya breakers who would go to vajra hell. Take a look at the comments on some of my You Tube videos and on the Dharma Protector’s Facebook page to see the kind of vehemence with which these kinds of ideas can and have been be wielded.

Whether or not the statements are true or not for any individual person is not the point, the point is that such statements have been used in Rigpa to legitimalise all sorts of sordid behaviour and to silence those who saw it as wrong. Anyone can believe what they want, but if they use their beliefs in a way that causes harm, it is not only the mark of a cult but also, as the Buddha said in the Kalama Sutta, something we should abandon.

So, as I said, Kalamas: ‘Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.” When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering” — then you should abandon them.’

Please note that I am not talking here about the vajrayana as something to abandon, or about DZK’s talk, but about the teachings of the vajrayana being used in a harmful (and presumably wrong) way. Despite all attempts at change, and despite some recent indications of positive moves in the right direction in Rigpa,  in some parts of the world people are still leaving Rigpa because this is what they see, so if Rigpa is to ever be truly healthy, this kind of thing must be addressed.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some pretty mean comments flying towards Rigpa as well, often from people who were victims of abuse there themselves – that’s karma for you! But DZK is not in the role of advisor to those people, and if they have given up Buddhism all together, how they behave does not reflect upon it, and so is not his concern.

We are all unenlightened beings struggling with our own projections so I do not expect anyone to be perfect (their true nature excepted), and I have certainly not always acted skillfully myself, but anyone running a spiritual organisation needs to look very closely and honestly at their own hopes, fears and motivations, particularly in light of how they might be using their beliefs to judge, denigrate, blame, manipulate and ignore the suffering of others, for surely this is not the sort of application of the teachings that the great masters invisaged.

Just the start

The Berlin talk was, however, only the first in a series of talks.

Here’s the Lerab Ling talk.

I’ve listened to some of it, and I wonder if DZK realises that by saying that ‘Buddhism is above the law’, he has said that practictioners are exempt from the law, that the law does not apply to us. In other words that we can murder, rape, steal and abuse with impunity. I hope that is not his meaning, but unfortunately, that is what is meant by saying it is ‘above the law’.  Such a statement waves a red flag to a cult investigator. It’s also in direct contradiction to what HHDL and Mingyur Rinpoche have said. I really wish he would speak to them, for they are both very clear on the importance of staying true to the teachings, but both of them have said we must abide by the laws of the land. To say that we are ‘above the law’ is so extreme, so dangerous an idea, (remember the tantric practitioner Charles Manson? That’s what he thought), that I can only hope he does not really understand the full English meaning of what he has said. I don’t think the French police will be happy to hear such a statement.

Anyway, people have told me that there are many gems in this talk and that it is well worth listening to. I respect DZK for tackling the problems, but I think he needs an English language advisor – just to be sure he knows what he’s saying.

May all those who were harmed be healed. Tahlia.


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.

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73 thoughts on “Vajrayana Buddhism in the Modern World.

  1. Thank you for your care, your intelligence amd your open mindedness, Tahlia. And so much hard work.

    The Lerab Ling talk is up now.

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    1. Why three hours?

      Why not start with the most crucial and central issue of abuse and then move outward to ‘ Vajrayana in modern times’ or whatever?

      I think we all know the answer to that one.

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    1. Re the funny tape: how much like the rest of us is DKR? When confronted with difficult matters, rather than dealing with them directly and courageously, he reaches for distractions like his phone and chocolates!

      A sugar hit never saved anyone from dealing with their demons, DKR. Just man up and do the thing.

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  2. In is response to Bernie DZK said :
    ” Western psychotherapy and other spiritual and psychological paths are all fine so long as their methods crush ego. If they do that, they are valid paths. Any path that does not crush ego is spiritual materialism even if it is coated with all kinds of Buddhist jargon.”

    In is recent talk at Lerab Ling “Vajrayana Buddhism in the West” : ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXwLJdBxSj4 – 2:56 ), DZK answered to a question : “We don’t talk about crushing the confidence, we talk about crushing the ego, and by the way there is no ego to crush, so don’t panic, and this is not so wise for you to think that there is an ego because this is an illusion.”

    So it’s clear that DZK is playing with words, intentionally or not.
    In fact, disciples who have been abused by Gurus (in Rigpa and other lineages) lost confidence in the Dharma, in others and in themselves. This is the issue, and according to what I heard DZK never address it properly.

    Personally, I don’t think that DZK can help to improve the situation (I listened two of his long recent talks), he is too far from the real issue, and his followers are too much blindly obedient (my humble opinion). This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel deep compassion for them ! (an answer to something DZK said).

    I met DZK once, and he badly put me down during several days, just because he believed calumny on me. I was isolated and vulnerable (he knew it). This was this last blow that make me fall. It was a bad trauma psychological an physical. It took me years to recover, and to come back to the Dharma, even if I was a practitioner who did two times 100 000 x 4 nondros, and studied a lot (sutras, abhidharma, shastras tantras).

    Now I listen the teachings of a wise teacher, and even so I keep a constant discriminative wisdom. My mind is my own Guru, and the main teacher is the Buddha.

    My wish and dedication : In this life and in all my future lives may I never be fooled by a Dharma teacher (and by anybody by the way).

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    1. I wrote “It took me years to recover, and to come back to the Dharma, ” I should say : “to formal Dharma practice.”

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    2. Julia.

      So sad to hear your story. You are right about losing confidence. HHDL heard this from us, as ex NKT – & understood this as the worst result of bad experience – that people lose trust at such a deep level; in themselves and in others.

      It sounds like your sangha betrayed you. And DJKR became implicit in this. When we are that isolated we can become too paralysed to fight. And I sympathise in how long it takes to recover.

      DJKR doesn’t have the personal resources that HHDL has. But hopefully that question can be asked of him – what to do about damaged trust. HHDL did not have an answer.

      It’s difficult to feel safe anywhere, even in safe places, after traumatic experiences. The question is how can we create sanghas that do not exclude and judge others? If the sangha is strong and ethical a manipulative teacher can’t get away with it so easily.

      But the teachers seem to set the atmosphere though, don’t they.

      I am happy to hear you have recovered..

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    3. Yes. I was talking to a friend today and we both agreed that we would never again give such unconditional devotion to anyone. We felt we’d been manipulated and our trust betrayed on a such very deep level. How much more soul destroying must it be for someone who experienced the abuse first hand?

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  3. Dzongsar is useless and self-serving. I don’t see the need to reverence his utterances and call them “gems.”

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  4. Thanks for sharing this article, with good reading flow and well-balanced phrases, Critical thoughts are reflected so neutral and well-meaning as if they went through some fine filters and should not be able to harm anyone. Also thanks for informing about the Thoughts and speech of Dzongsar in Berlin at the Rigpa event.

    Questionable for me: “Of course, let’s not forget that there are some pretty mean comments flying towards Rigpa as well, often from people who were victims of abuse there themselves – that’s karma for you! But DZK is not in the role of advisor to those people, and if they have given up Buddhism all together, how they behave does not reflect upon it, and so is not his concern.”

    Did he say that or is it the opinion of the author? If it’s the opinion of the author, it could be interpreted in such a way that victims of abuse who are no longer buddhists or behave maladapted don’t qualify to be included in Dzongsars concern or mind.

    This sounds to me like “excluding” certain victims of abuse or people from being worth considering or discussing with or even think about or acknowledging them…- that’s karma for them? Who defines that?

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    1. That was the author’s comment, but I think you are reading more into it than was intended. I meant that from his point of view they were not the people the talks were for. He was teaching to Rigpa students after all.

      The karma comment was meaning to say that if you abuse people then you will get abuse in return.

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  5. Or, to put it more simply, who controls and determines if and whether another (spiritually abused) human being qualifies to being treated the same way – or differently – as an obviously or apparently or allegedly sophisticated buddhist?

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  6. DJK has often said that Buddhism and Buddhists are totally different things. So “Buddhism is realy above the law!”, especially Dharma. You will not get any use to swim through a huge ocean that has countless currents whose trajectories are impossible to decipher. It is of no use to praise DJK, and less use to criticize him. You consume too much of your energy in the wrong direction.

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      1. “I would like to talk a little bit about Trungpa Rinpoche. Even when he was very young, he was extremely knowledgeable. He gave the Rinchen Terdzö empowerment when he was very young, which is very long and very difficult. He learned all the different aspects of buddhist philosophy very easily, and he learned dzogchen meditation from Khenpo Gangshar, who was a very great siddha. After he left Tibet, he studied English and he developed great insight into how to teach dharma in the west. He is the one who first opened the gates of dharma in the West. He was a great scholar, and a very great teacher.”
        ~ Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

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        1. Lawrence.
          You give the full text found in the “The Chronicle of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche”, for the “Tributes to Chögyam Trungpa”, by YMR in 2007. The author of the article don’t even say from where he got this text.

          In 1987 when Trungpa died, Mingyur R. was only 12 years old, and I never heard that he received teachings from him or knew him.

          Even if by habit Tibetan Lamas make flattering statements, they also discover that there are issues in Buddhist centers and with other Tibetan Lamas, they learn from it, and they change their mind.

          So, I think that taking what Buddhist Centers or Lama’s supporters say on their websites as the gospel truth isn’t a good idea.

          https://www.chronicleproject.com/yongey-mingyur-rinpoche/

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          1. They all worship Trungpa, or at least that’s the impression I get. Why should anyone be surprised that Mingyur also thinks Trungpa is great. of course he does! Also, Trungpa is gone now, so they can glorify his memory, since he is no longer alive and doing awful things. They can whitewash over the things he did in the past, and glorify the good things he did, and make excuses for the bad things. He is kind of a “safe” hero because he isn’t around anymore to do any MORE bad stuff, so they can turn him into a legend.

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  7. And here’s DKJR’s response to Tahlia:

    First he quotes from Tahlia: “Some lamas do place Vajrayana above the law and this belief that Vajrayana has its own rule separate to the rule of law is the single most dangerous aspect of Vajrayana for both students and society.”

    Then he says, “I’m sorry to say, not only Vajrayana, whole Buddhadharma is above the law. If you want [to] put one foot firmly on the ground of samsara and have the little advantage of Nirvana, I would suggest you download mindfulness APPs. Don’t become– don’t follow Buddha– it’s really, it’s a bad news. I actually don’t understand why there’s this question, because if people like Martin Luther King– “Human law that is not rooted in eternal law”. You know he believed there’s more beyond human law. I”M TALKING ABOUT MARTIN LUTHER KING.”

    I think in his efforts to be understanding of Westerners he’s just making himself more confused. That quote came in the midst of Martin Luther King’s efforts to change US laws to be more compassionate. If DKJR saying we will change laws to allow murder and rape?

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    1. MLK was fully willing to go to jail for his beliefs and behaviors, which he aired to the world.

      “Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all of the tension its exposing creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

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      1. Yes, and I don’t think this is going to help Lerab Ling very much with their court case, trying to prove they are not a cultic organization. Statements such as being above the law are red flags in that regard. I hope someone has notified the lawyer defending?

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    2. And is he really telling those who have a strong moral compass, who have some conviction in the laws that people like Martin Luther King have fought for and that help keep a compassionate society, to find another religion? Is he really saying that Buddhism is not for us, sending us away? Does he know that Martin Luther King devoted his life to changing laws that lacked compassion?

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  8. Here’s a conversation in the 1993 conference between Western Buddhist teachers and HH Dalai Lama about whether Vajrayana is above the law:

    Western Buddhist Teacher: “Unlike the Theravadans, who take the Buddha and the Arhats as their role models, and who therefore have a clear code of behavior, knowing even precepts in a slightly dualistic way, what is right and wrong, very clear. In the Vajrayana traditions, it’s much more complicated because some practitioners take for example Guru Padmasambhava, Tilopa, Gantripa (? Unclear) etc. as their role models and look on their sometimes wild and unorthodox behavior as an excuse for indulging themselves in sex and drink and so on. I mean that’s their excuse, well Tilopa did it, why not me?

    “So stories told about mahasiddhas like Drukpa Kunley can create this condition where some teachers consider themselves above and beyond ordinary, moral laws—due to their deep realization of shunyata and nonduality. So, what is actually meant by this idea of crazy wisdom and is it ever valid to break the precepts? Stories of the mahasiddhas of the past show that their wild behavior resulted in a spiritual benefit to the object of their seeming abuses. For example, their sexual partners gained realizations and those that they killed were liberated and so on.

    “However, in the present time it seems so often that the unrestrained behavior of certain lamas leads to pain, humiliation, confusion and conflict—even to the rejection of the Dharma. So how can this be skillful means or compassionate activity? And again, sometimes women are forced into a sort of “Dakini role”, which leads to jealousy, competition, and also, this shuts a Dharma door for them. Right, it does not help them. And also, even if the lama himself is above ordinary, moral restraints, as a result of his higher realization, even if—does he not have a responsibility to his lesser developed students to set an example of how a Dharma life should be lived? For example, in Chogyam Trungpa’s organization, many students became alcoholics, in addition to indulging in promiscuous sex, which simply created a lot of chaos in their lives.

    Afterall, Padmasambhava himself said: “One’s view should be as wide as the skies and one’s conduct as —

    Whereupon His Holiness interjected “Yes, exactly!”

    And the teacher continued “fine as barley flour.”

    His Holiness: Yes, yes. Really it is a serious matter. It reminds me of the late Professor Joshi.

    Thubten Jingpa translating for His Holiness: “The late professor Joshi in his book he sites one of the factors that led to the degeneration of Buddhism inside India was the popularization of tantric practices—particularly leading to unethical behavior.

    His Holiness: So therefore, basically the tantric teaching as itself is called the “secret doctrine” so must remain secret. So secret means only those few individuals who really have the basic foundation, core basic qualifications, then give them that practice. Not for public or many people. Then basically as Buddhadharma now I think the—

    Thubten Jingpa translating: One of the more clear cut things that we could do as a Buddhist, which does not require any complicated philosophical justifications or explanations is to simply site the example of the Buddha and say, ‘how did the Buddha act? What did he do?’ And then follow this example. So as a Buddhist, we cannot maintain that Buddha did not know tantra, nor did he not practice tantra, but the Buddha’s own lifestyle depicted, demonstrated a very serious respect to the ethics.

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    1. @Joanne
      Thanks for sharing this, do you know the tittle of this book?
      The profeesor his findings are important for the discussion about vajrayna in the west. Why make in the west the same mistake as in India.

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      1. Jan, he wrote a lot, but I think it’s this one “Discerning the Buddha, a Study of Buddhism and of the Brahmnanical Hindu Attitude to It” (Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi). But I haven’t read it and it looks pretty impossible to obtain. He was a pretty reputable scholar — and this isn’t the first time I have heard HH refer to it and the conclusion that Buddhism became extinct in India due to the mis-practice of Tantra, particularly in terms of ethics.

        But you’re right, it would be good right now to have some good scholarship on the dangers we’re in right now, which I believe are significant.

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        1. And here’s another comment from the 1993 conference:

          HH Dalai Lama, translated by Thubten Jingpa: “The Guhyasamaja tantra explicitly states that an ideal practitioner of the tantra should be some one who outwardly observes the precepts of a shravaka– and then inside engages in the path of Guhyasamaja Tantra….In the Kalachakra Tantra as well, it states that if there are two Vajra masters, one ordained Vajra master and one lay Vajra master, then the disciples must receive the empowerment from the ordained Vajra master, not from the lay Vajra master.”

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          1. I don’t know Matilda, I’m just quoting HH who is quoting a scholar 🙂 I think it was a large scholarly work however, that put a new view on some of the assumptions. We would have to be experts.

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          2. matilda7, An Indian friend who was Buddhist (he past away), once told me it was both : the invasion and the misunderstanding or Vajrayana.

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          3. Matilda, it was the Moors, not Moghul’s and it was already deteriorating before they arrived.

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            1. Not sure about that. The invaders are generally termed Mughal/Mongol. Moor isn’t a label that i’ve come across in terms of the Islamic invasions of India. Of course the rise of Hinduism was also a major factor. I’m just aware that during the numerous Muslim invasions of India, which seem to have started round the 11th century, they were responsible for the destruction of Buddhist temples etc, or converted them into mosques.

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              1. I used the wrong term, Muslims were referred to as Moors in their incursion into Europe not India.

                My information may well be incorrect, I got it from something Lodi Gyari said in lerab ling about not blaming the decline of Buddhism in India on the Muslim invasion because it was already in decline.

                I did a google search and came across this, but I have no way of checking its accuracy.

                “The very first Muslim attack on India in Sindh in the year 715 A.D was by Arabs led by Mohammad Bin Qasim. They displaced Raja Dahir who ruled Sindh from his capital Deval (near modern Karachi). Arabs even unsuccessfully tried to attack Malwa. After this invasion, which was limited to Sindh, for a period of 300 years, kings like Raja Bhoja and other Gurjara Kings thwarted further Muslim attacks. The next invasion was by Turk Sabuktagin. He had established himself in Khorasan and extended his kingdom to Kabul and Ghazni. In 986 AD he came into conflict with Raja Jaipal of Bathinda. In 991 A.D. Raja Jaipal allied with other Hindu king including Rajyapala the Prathira king of Kannauj and Dhanga the ruler of the distant Chandela kingdom but they too were defeated.”

                You mean the resurgence of Hinduism right? Because Hinduism predates Buddhism.

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                1. Of course! But at some point (around 3rd C, BC) Buddhism experienced popularity partly due to its opposition to the caste system and King Ashoka’s conversion but eventually Buddhist influence waned, while it’s claimed that many of its practices were incorporated into Hinduism.

                  So while i don’t claim to have the full bottle on why Buddhism declined (think when Ashoka died, its popularity was dealt a blow) the Mogul’s plunder of sacred sites didn’t help matters.

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  9. The point or view of a French Buddhist Leaving in France (not so far from Lerab Ling), after listening DJKR talk carefully.

    We have laws in France who protect people from criminals, it’s not perfect but it’s already very good.

    Being ostracized by some so-called Tibetan Dharma masters, and left alone ill and without money (after I gave them my money, my work and above all my trust), it’s my country who helped me, gave me free health care and social aid. Those Lamas wanted to crush my ego because I disagreed with their wrong deeds (financial, moral and sexual abuses…), they just broke me with the help of some obedient disciples. DJKR doesn’t understand why some people dislike blind obedience, I do !

    Luckily, I kept strong confidence in the Buddha and his teachings, and it helped me to recover. But I’m also very grateful for the help I received from a lay and fair administration. Living in countries like France, with fair laws and social aid, is the result of good karma, and I will not spit on it.

    So if people like SL or DJKR don’t respect that, or even despise it, they are welcomed to leave France. If they don’t, because it’s a free country with religious freedom, they should understand however that wise people will turn their back to them and to their very obedient and blind disciples. In 2016 Lerab Ling had already a deficit of around 280 000 € in donations.

    Their are honest Tibetan Lamas (we need to check them carefully by ourselves). I hope that they will not mix with those teachers who brag about the highest wisdom, despise the so-called lower teachings and treat badly disciples, and who nevertheless would not be able to let their hand in a fire for a few minutes without screaming of pain. “All is empty ! Ethic doesn’t matter. ”, they say. Great, show us.

    I feel that it’s time for Rigpa’ students to make a choice, DJKR gave his advice. What now, what more ? People who disagree with his (and Rigpa) interpretation of Dharma don’t need to defend themselves endlessly (unless they have some personal reason, it’s not my call of course).

    Concerning the victims there are laws, courts, lawyers, if they want; or medias. This doesn’t mean that those who defend themselves have no compassion or wisdom, it means that they are aware of their good karma (if still Buddhist) or luck to live in France, and of their responsibility to protect others from criminals (let’s call a cat, a cat).

    May the true and pure Dharma flourish all around the world.

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    1. Of course you should read : The point or view of a French Buddhist LIVING in France (not so far from Lerab Ling), after listening DJKR talk carefully.

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  10. Anyone who says HHDL hasn’t addressed this directly simply doesn’t want to hear what he’s been saying for 25 years!

    TAKEN FROM: Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship: The Responsibilities of Teachers and Students
    From notes taken during the meeting of H.H. the Dalai Lama and Western Buddhist Teachers in Dharamsala, 1993

    Historically, although some Buddhist saints have acted with strange modes of ethical conduct, they were fully realized beings and knew what was of long-term benefit to others. But nowadays, such conduct is harmful to the Dharma and must be stopped. Even though one’s realizations may be equal to those of divine beings, one’s behavior must conform to convention. If someone says that since everyone has Buddha mind, any kind of conduct is acceptable, or that teachers do not need to follow ethical precepts, it indicates that they do not correctly understand emptiness or cause and effect.

    Everyone is accountable for his or her behavior. For someone with full realization, ingesting urine, feces, alcohol, and human flesh are all the same.² But if those Buddhist teachers who ethically misbehave were to eat feces or drink urine, I doubt they would enjoy it!

    The practice of tantra is never an excuse for unethical behavior. If one understands Vajrayana well, there are no grounds to excuse bad behavior.

    One of the tantras states that the ideal lay tantric practitioner should follow all of the Vinaya (monastic discipline), but without wearing robes or engaging in monastic ceremonies. On a very advanced level of highest tantric practice, the joining of the male and female organs is a technique used to manifest the subtlest mind and gain the deepest wisdom of reality. This is using the physical body as a mechanical device for furthering insight, but there is no desire, emission, or orgasm. In fact, this is a method for overcoming desire.

    In the past, in Tibet, a practitioner had to be able to demonstrate supernatural powers, such as flying through the air, to qualify for such practice. If someone could not do that, they were not permitted to use these techniques. At present, there are very few Tibetan masters at that level. Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, whom I respect, commented that there are a few highly realized practitioners nowadays who can practice like this. I do know that some meditators in the mountains who keep the Vinaya strictly have attained extraordinary realizations.

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    1. @norsohopeful
      Thanks for the post, but what is your conclusion now?
      For me there is still why , why why did this all hapen?

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  11. @ Jan de Vries, your guess is as good as mine. On some level it’s a question with a different answer for each one of us, one that we can only answer for ourselves.

    Lojong verse 20 – “Of the two witnesses hold the principle one”

    Human frailty, our need to elevate someone to an almost divine position and turn a blind eye to what is obviously right in front of us to support the delusion.

    Also human bravery, the desire to really overcome our egos, to put up with abuse because you trust that it is actually going to make you a better, more useful person.

    Magical thinking, that there’s someone, something outside of ourselves that can transform us. Arrogance, hubris, wanting to be special, a ‘chosen’ one. ALL of these things come into play.

    Interdependence, impermanence, when things go as wrong as sl and rigpa there were many, many players, it’s very complex, which is why I’m loath to keep hammering away at the defects of sl. He could not have gotten away with it for so very long if others had cared enough to say no,you must go no further.

    In the end that’s why the letter was written, there was no moralistic judgement, at least some of the letter writers have no personal interest in being vindicated, are not seeking recompense, they simply came to the awareness that he was harming self and others and that they had to create transparency around the issue.

    I get really tired of the endless rounds of discussion about him when the real discussion should be about us. What is it about us, humanity, that can be so ignorant and cruel? How can we disarm the negativity in each of us? That doesn’t mean white washing or turning a blind eye, Bodhicitta requires us to do all that we can to prevent harm.

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    1. Thank you for both your comments, Notsohopeful. They give me heart– hope!. Sometimes, it can feel like things are going a little crazy. For me, when I hear wisdom come from others, when I start to struggle and doubt my own heart and mind, it is encouraging– so we should not lose track of the value of that.

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    2. Very well said, Notsohopeful!
      That’s exactly the point and the lesson, how ever hard it might be. But very encouraging that more and more people get it 🙂

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  12. @ the Mods;

    I was browsing through the comments on the last four threads, and some of the comments I posted earlier, such as pertaining to the Dalai Lama, Dzogchen, and the 5th DL, etc., as well as Sogyal’s psychic vampirism, seem to be gone from the threads. I don’t believe I said anything THAT offensive, so am I being censored?

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  13. @Mods,

    I apologize for my last comment.

    I realize now that I am getting the “What Now?” and “How Did It Happen?” forums mixed up, lol! 🙂 The comments I made, (which aren’t here on the “What Now?” forum), are on the other forum, so that’s why I didn’t see them here. You are not censoring me, (at least not yet, lol). 😀

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  14. If anyone is interested in hearing His Holiness speak about criticizing one’s Vajra master, I’ve found some comments that I’ve transcribed in the 1993 conference with Western Buddhist Teachers. On the afternoon of the first day, he states the traditional stance that once you’ve taken a lama on as your guru, (implying initiation) then you cannot criticize openly, but just distance yourself quietly.

    Then in the sixth session, day three, he changes this stance in response to further questioning.
    http://meridian-trust.org/video/the-western-buddhist-teachers-conference-with-h-h-the-dalai-lama-6-of-8/ This is session 6 of 8, starting at minute 113:00:

    A Western teacher questions His Holiness in a general way on crazy wisdom behaviors and speaking out.

    His Holiness: As I mentioned earlier about my own example, two tutors you see, due to hunger for power, they fought, even utilize army, Tibetan army, disgraceful. On public, I took firm stand, these are wrong! But my individual practice—to me—both very high lama, doesn’t matter.

    Western Buddhist Teacher: This was not the point. Students will think that he IS the exception, so it must be OK that he does that.

    His Holiness: But even, I think, the individual student, the belief, this is something really marvelous, the Buddha—sort of siddhi, mahasiddhis you see behavior. This should not—public—

    Thubten Jingpa translating for His Holiness: But one should not take it on the public sort of level. One may individually view such actions of one’s guru as skillful means of a mahasiddha, but one should not take it as a public stand and try to sort of explain it—justify it.

    His Holiness: In public, we must follow the general you see Buddhist [view]—unless you see that lama, some really genuine, authentic, miracle things perform. Then all right. With some scientist, carry test, of genuine miracle we can I mean we have to accept. Otherwise, we cannot allow these things.

    [Skip a few minutes of tape, then]:

    Western Buddhist Teacher speaks of a crazy wisdom-type tradition in the Korean Buddhist tradition and concludes: “So it seems every tradition [has] created a loophole>”

    His Holiness: As I mentioned earlier—Professor Joshi, the Indian history, so I think we must take every care, every care. Every precaution. [On day one, HH spoke of Professor Joshi’s historical account of Buddhism dying out in India partly due to mis-practice of Vajrayana]

    Western Buddhist Teacher: Your Holiness, two days ago, I believe you said that it would be a good idea to publish in a newspaper if a teacher would not respond and change his behavior. Then it would be best to make it a public issue. I thought you said with a higher initiation of tantra that if one accepts a lama as guru, then he should not publicly publish it in a newspaper—

    Other teacher interjects: He’s your guru—if you have taken him as your guru—then can you still publicize? What you said before—before you take as a guru, you can criticize, but after you take as a guru [hand gesture indicating ‘no criticism’]

    His Holiness: Now, I think, now one example, my own case—I received many initiations from one of my regents, yes—yet when I talk—

    Thubten Jingpa translating His Holiness: Let me give my own example. I’ve taken many initiations from one of my regents. And yet, at the same time, on a number of occasions, I have made public statements where I am criticizing, pointing out the wrongdoings of this teacher, especially my autobiography.

    His Holiness: I also mention—I think I mention. But one thing is quite sure, I never praise these wrong things as good. Now, what our aim is—purify Buddhadharma. The interests of the Buddhadharma and interests of one individual lama—other is much bigger. Isn’t it? So, with sincere motivation, in order to save Buddhadharma, in order to save at least a few hundred disciples of that particular lama, with sincere motivation, with salutation, then criticize. I think that’s the proper way.

    “And if you can, that individual disciple, go… go straight to the lama, ‘I’ve done this with sincere motivation and I apologize.’ Then that lama, very sincere lama, then he or she will—

    Thubten Jingpa translating: Will acknowledge.

    His Holiness: If that lama—furious, then that also another indication. Then just say [His Holiness waves his hand] ‘Hello, bye-bye.’” [And] go.

    [Laughter, session ends]

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    1. @Joanne Clark Thanks for the transcript. 1993 is a very long time ago. HH his ideas might have evolved further now. Is it not better to focus on his recent comments.
      For myself I think to a certain extend faults of a master might train your patience, but for me there is a but, if it becomes really detrimental than I take the right to be responsible for myself.
      I think HH meant to say that recently.

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      1. Yes, what Jan wrote about the time lapse since these remarks was also my reaction. The Dalai Lama’s experience with his Junior Tutor being a Shugden devotee is certainly a good example of a situation where one might defy one’s guru but so much has happened since then…..

        Joanne, have you found the section where Tenzin Palmo addresses the group? I thought her remarks were featured in ‘Cave in the Snow’ but i no longer have access to that book. I’m interested to locate her talk as i’m pretty sure she brought the house down when pointing out how tantric (sexual) practice is just a means of enhancing the male’s shakti, and there’s not much in it for the woman, who’s just the vehicle!

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        1. Jan and Matilda, in comments recently, HH has referred to this conference and his advice to students to speak out, so I think it’s still fresh in his mind! And this is the only occasion that I know of in which he specifically addresses whether a student should criticize publicly a lama with whom he has a tantric commitment. When DJKR was asked about HH’s view, he dismissed the idea that HH would or had ever advised students to speak out.

          On the other hand, HH has on a few other occasions given the advice that DJKR gave, which is that one should just leave the lama quietly if one finds ethical violations– which is the traditional advice.

          So I think this comment is very relevant still for this particular occasion, particularly in light of him speaking out critically of SL.

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          1. Joanne, recently HH talked about bringing down religious institutions exploiting their followers.
            You can do that by speaking out and other means. Together with the statement disgraced I thought this was an evolvement, because he sees now more clearly the danger of feudal influences.

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            1. Yes, Jan, absolutely. Also, the part of the 1993 statement where he says that if we are looking at the welfare of the Buddhadharma vs the welfare of one lama, then the welfare of the Buddhadharma and at least a few hundred students is more important than the welfare of one lama. I really believe he has been working towards this situation for many years. If you listen to the 1993 conference, except for the youthful faces of Bob Thurman and others, you could easily be listening to a conference of complete relevance now. There’s even a discussion about Trungpa. It’s like everything is coming to a critical point.

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        2. @matilda7,

          Yes, there isn’t much in tantric sex for the woman, if the woman is the consort of a male lama. She is just serving him by giving him energy. It is basically a sort of vampirism, (the way I see it). But what about cases where the woman is the guru with a male consort, lol? I think it works the other way around too. If the guru is a woman, then the man is just a vehicle for her. Jetsunma had male consorts, and it was clear that they were serving her in the same way that women consorts serve the men.

          I think what is missing in these so-called “tantric” rituals is love between two partners. Without love, there is no enlightened sex, in my opinion. If there isn’t love between partners, it is just a cold ritual, without “attachment.” I suppose that there have been cases where two tantric partners genuinely loved each other, but you don’t hear much about love in any of the tantric texts when they talk about using sex on the path. I think love is what is missing from tantric rituals, and that’s a big reason why I am turned off from the whole thing.

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  15. Yes, but DJKR has claimed that these statements are not regarding Vajrayana and that they are “misinformation.” I have also heard that DJKR requires his Vajrayana students to sign a contract stating they will not criticize. I am concerned that under his guidance, Rigpa will move forward with a culture of silence, so I think it’s really important to make HH’s position really clear. Riga students, the ones who remain, need to be very clear that there is dissonance between HH and Rigpa on this matter. For example, it would be very easy for Rigpa to provide students with at least two comments from HH that I know of, in which he advises students to quietly leave and not criticize. There’s even one during the 1993 conference. This is why I think it’s important.

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    1. Signing a contract not to crititicize? really true?
      In what age are we living?
      Horrifying!
      You must be very vulnurable if you sign this.

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    2. @Joanne,

      I think DKR believes that what HHDL says is mistranslated, or misinterpreted by people. I think he means it’s a “mistranslation” or a “misunderstanding” taken out of context, or something like that.

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      1. Yes, Catlover, and that’s why I am fussing so much about communicating exactly what HH has said. Because it would be very easy for Rigpa to take a few quotes out of context and claim that HH is saying that only students who are not Vajrayana students may speak out. Whereas, in fact, he was questioned exactly on that point and clarified it at the 1993 conference. On one hand, yes he does advise students to refrain from speaking out if possible, if there is no potential harm to others or the Buddhadharma. But he is also very clear that Vajrayana students must speak out if harm is being done.

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  16. This is the first statement HH has made about SL– and he refers to the 1993 conference in this statement: ”
    Many years ago in Dharmasala at a Western [Buddhist] Teachers Conference, some Western Buddhist teachers mentioned some Zen masters and Tibetan Buddhist masters had created a very bad impression among people. Then I told them then; these people do not follow Buddhaʻs advice, Buddhaʻs teaching. We cannot do. So, the only thing is to make it public, through newspapers, through the radio. Make it public!

    These lamas, although they don’t care about Buddha’s teaching, they may care about their face [points at his face, indicating shame]. I told them at that conference, almost 15 years ago I think. Now, recently Sogyal Rinpoche, my very good friend, but he’s disgraced. So some of his own students have now made public their criticism.”

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  17. Joanne: yes this past recent statement from HHDL is very clear.

    I hadn’t heard that DKR is asking people to sign a legal contract not to criticize. Is that some sort of joke?!

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    1. Concerned, it’s just something I heard. So it could be just rumor? Can’t imagine such a thing could be a legally binding document, but maybe just something like a samaya ceremony or something, to insure students really know what he expects? A DKR student should be asked, particularly if something similar were being considered with Rigpa students?

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        1. @ Vajrayana buddhism in a modern world. According to DKR there is a lot of critical thinking in the present world. The only reason he mentioned for the validity of vajryana in the modern world was the use of critical thinking when it comes about choosing a guru. DKR made some remarks about the timespan the investigation of a guru could take. It could last 12 years in ancient times and we didnot have the patience and take time for reading his 19 pages.
          But how can we in the west analyse a teacher who lives in the east and speaks a different language.
          Newspapes in the west don’t give the information.
          How can we analyse a teacher when his behaviours ( the bad ones) were actively hidden for us in Rigpa.
          It all boils down to trust, trust in basic human goodness. This trust has been given. To trust is a good human quality.
          Where is the trust in DKR talk?

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          1. The best way to show the importance of vajrayana buddhism in a modern world is by revealing how it can be used to solve the problems in Rigpa and how it can reunite people and reveal basic human qualities like forgiveness, trust, respect, compassion. How it can purify an organisation, to make it better. So on and so on.

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  18. The whole concept of analyzing a teacher and then committing to the teacher as a guru has become very problematic to me. First of all, how can you analyze a teacher when you don’t know him/her and that teacher is based in India or Nepal? One would have to actually live with a teacher to really KNOW that person well enough to be able to give them COMPLETE trust. Even if a teacher has a glossy, perfect image in public, how can you know that they act the same way in private? How do you know he isn’t beating his students, or mistreating women? If the teacher is based in the US or Europe, the situation isn’t much different. If you’re not living with a teacher, you can’t really know what goes on behind the scenes. If that teacher is a celebrity teacher, all the more reason that getting to know them is impossible. Even if one has an occasional “audience” with that person, it isn’t enough to get to know somebody personally. So the big question is, how does one analyze the teacher? One could go to their teachings for 12 years and STILL not know them personally!

    In the case of Marpa/Milarepa, they had a personal relationship. All the other legendary gurus had personal relationships with their disciples. (Who knows if these relationships were really abusive in real life, and for all we know, history just paints them up to be genuine “crazy wisdom” relationships. But the thing they all have in common is that they were all PERSONAL, one-on-one relationships.) Regardless of the true nature of these classic, legendary relationships between guru and disciple, the fact is that in the modern world, there aren’t many genuine opportunities to get to know any of these celebrity lamas, so unless you somehow have the unusual chance to spend lots of personal time traveling around with them, and seeing them day to day, how can people realistically expect to get to know ANY of them? It is for this reason that I have come to realize that I can’t really “trust” any of them because I do not (and never will) know them personally, no matter how good or nice they may seem in public. There is NO WAY for me to know what they do in their private life, so when I hear about these scandals there is always a niggling doubt in my mind that says, “what if my teacher does the same thing?” The problem is, there is no way to really put my doubts to rest because the truth is that I really DON’T know.

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    1. I so much agree with what you write here Catlover. On top of what you write, what about when the organisation deliberately keeps things secret, which seems to be the case with Rigpa? How is the student supposed to know what they are getting into?

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