Beliefs We Need to Examine

A major part of healing from the cult experience is deconstructing your experience in the cult to see how you were manipulated and examining the beliefs you subscribed to that kept you under the control of the leader and the group.

Below is a list of some of the beliefs that I and other devoted students of Sogyal Rinpoche subscribed to to some degree. I never examined those beliefs at the time, but now it’s important to do so.

This short vlog tells you why.

So basically, not examing the beliefs you held while in a cult is not good for your psychological health as you move forward with your life. And this is not just me saying it, it’s in the recovering-from-a-cult literature you can find by searching the web.

Here’s a list of beliefs that I and others will be examining in the coming weeks. We’ll also be looking at key teachings and asking whether or not we understood them correctly.

  • A great master acting in an unconventional (abusive) manner that would be unacceptable in normal circumstances can bring enormous spiritual benefit to the student;
  • A true vajrayana master points out your hidden faults and that’s what Sogyal Rinpoche is doing when he gives public dressing downs;
  • Everything a mahasiddha does brings benefit;
  • What appears as abuse is actually highly sort-after training that the students experience as love and find transformative;
  • You need a master in order to recognise the nature of mind;
  • Devotion is the key to ‘getting’ the nature of mind;
  • The degree of your devotion is a mark of your realisation;
  • Sogyal Rinpoche is Guru Rinpoche in the flesh;
  • You must see your master as the Buddha if you want the blessings of the Buddha;
  • Sogyal Rinpoche is a great crazy-wisdom master;
  • Great merit is gained by serving your master with your body, speech and mind;
  • You should never criticise your teacher;
  • To criticise your teacher is a breakage of samaya;
  • Breaking samaya is the worst thing you can do for your spiritual life;
  • If you break samaya you will go to hell;
  • If I see something the master does as wrong, it’s proof that I don’t have pure perception;
  • If I speak up about anything in his behaviour that I feel uncomfortable about, I prove that I lack sufficient devotion and so are unworthy of receiving the highest teachings;
  • Not having ‘risings’ (thoughts and emotions) about what I see is proof that the practice is working.
  • The intention behind an action makes it good or bad.
  • Sogyal is a holder of the prestigious lineage of masters in the Nyingma tradition.

Can you think of any other beliefs held in Rigpa that contributed to a situation where abuse could flourish? If so, let me know and I’ll add them to the list for examination. I think we have some interesting conversations coming up!

Here’s some additions that came to me privately or in the comments below:

  • The teaching ‘Let it go’ concerning your risings. Did this become repression of emotions?
  • Did we misuse the Lojong teachings?
  • If the teacher has been recognized as a tulku, they are, therefore, enlightened, and such a teacher’s behavior can only be beneficial, no matter how it may appear.
  • Sex between teacher and student is part of our lineage. Such sex is good for the lama’s health and for the woman’s spiritual advancement.
  • There is no truth, there is only individual perception.
  • The guru is the “face” of your enlightenment, so that if you doubt the guru, you doubt your own enlightened nature. And the paradigm behind this is: “You cannot trust your own perception, because you are deluded, neurotic, etc. I know better what is right for you than you. I know the way to your happyness, and therefore you must obey and trust me.”
  • Teachings on Karma such as:
    • If you don´t follow the master´s instructions you and your loved ones will suffer physical torture or even die.
    • Everything you perceive materially or in your mind is the result of your karma, the result of ripening karma.
    • When the teacher treats you badly it´s because of your karma.
  • devotion and pure perception mean blind faith
  • you can tolerate and hide breaches of the ethical conduct of a master for the better good of the propagation of the Dharma
  • any contact with the guru is beneficial

Private discussion on this and other related topics can be had on our Secret Facebook Group. Is is only for current and previous students of Rigpa, however, and we do moderate it closely. If you’re interested in joining, please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite.

Ex-Rigpa students and their Rigpa 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.

165 thoughts on “Beliefs We Need to Examine

  1. “The difficulty here is that until individuals take responsibility for their own life experience, or at least their experience of their experience, little deep change is possible.”

    “The challenge, when you are dealing with larger-scale human systems, is that collectively people have to take some responsibility. I think it’s a perfect parallel to that therapeutic axiom that a person can see awful things that have happened to them in their life, but until they see their own part, they can never escape a victimology mindset, and a victim mind certainly cannot generate any real creative energies for change.”

    “De Maree used this term sociotherapy. From the standpoint of the purpose or intent or the theory of change, it is probably exactly right. It’s how we collectively learn to take responsibility for the conditions we have created”

    — Peter Senge


  2. Well if he thinks deviations are silly as I-ching, then why does he have OT do his mos for him? And has a deviation done for every actor he selects in his films? What is that about if he thinks deviations are silly-. And why can’t he do the devination himself- does he have no faith in his own deviations? So odd to me that someone who carries the name Khyentse would request someone else to do his mos.

    There are other Khyentse’s who don’t use dharma as a means for their careers. They are quiet and don’t seek mass followings. But I suppose the current followers who want to be entertained would find anyone else boring.

    Lastly, I wonder why DKR kept making comments for his students to consider voting for Trump? Now I see some similarities.


    1. Spell check doesn’t like ‘devination’ … though I suppose ‘deviation’ is also applicable in a sense…


  3. He requests someone else to do the mo’s for him because when the mo is wrong he blames OT or Dodrubchen Rinpoche. This is the only way he can maintain power is if other people believe he (OT) can tell the future. The dharma is accessible to all now, these Vajrayana guru’s only have outdated medieval mysticism to sell. That’s why the titles have changed since the 90s and turn of the millennia from ‘gentle heart’ ‘open mind, open heart’ ‘joyful mind, peaceful living’ to ‘Buddha walks into a bar’ ‘rebel Buddha’ ‘Buddha drinks bourbon’ ‘Not for Happiness’
    They have to come up with new stuff otherwise it looks like they have nothing new. Vajrayana practice and Mo’s is the only thing they have after the secularization of Buddhism in the modern world …I know liberals Bernie supporters who voted for trump because he said he was going to stop the wars, end the Fed, anti monsanto and some other reasonable reasons which turned out not to be true as Trump lied, of all the reasonable reasons DKR likes Trump because he doesn’t like Muslim refugees and ‘speaks his mind’ and is ‘politically incorrect and open about his misogyny ‘ these are all views DKR holds but feels like he can’t express because his followers are liberals. Trump is much more closer to khyentse’s ideology. Actually the libertarian wing of the Conservative party Ron and Rand Paul are much closer to Buddhist ideology than neo liberal/socialist politics.
    What really annoys me is that DKR’s attacks on Muslim’s entering Europe is actually the cause/effect result of US/Europeon interventionism in the Middle East. A compassionate wise Lama would emphasize anti war policies and non aggression and not attack the downstream effect. Rather than attack the root cause, DKR attacked the aftermath, the poor victims fleeing the destructions of their homes, arms and limbs blown off, shrapnel stuck in the skulls of young children much like the Tibetans suffered but even worse. DKR really is a lousy shit for blaming the refugees rather than the western governments that created this mess in the Middle East. He’s pandering to his Christian/Jewish following to fight against their common enemy. Divide and rule so as to turn a blind eye and distract from the reality behind the shangri la myth he and Sogyal tried to create.


  4. He also likes the attention of being controversial and pressing buttons a) mindless students think its a teaching b) other students think he is a dialectical thinker looking at things from many different angles (despite dkr not knowing why he thinks Trump is better) c) it gets people talking and thinking he is a maverick not afraid to speak his mind, like many Americans thought about trump. Trump and DKR share the same ‘grab them by the pussy mentality’ which is why DKR thinks liberals are too soft!


  5. In some way I believe he felt if Trump was publically accepted after the ‘pussygate’ tapes it might vindicate any accusations against him and Sogyal..


  6. It’s like a free for all in the Trump administration. So I can see why that might appeal to him. In some ways I feel like both men are finding themselves in too deep and trying to wade through the muddy waters and mess.

    Sogyal on the other hand decided to just swim away entirely after creating a wake of suffering, leaving others to clean up.


  7. I can see how DKR is trying to be a maverick in presenting the dharma in a new and fresh way to westerners. But in actuality, we are smart and capable and don’t need the whole song and dance and local singers and guitars to come in and films and jokes and costumes and twists of tongue and bourbon and all the fluff to understand the dharma or to visualize. It can feel a little condescending and insulting.
    just give it straight up please.


  8. I agree we like a dharma undiluted…my comment on his divination was not speculation. He actually wanted to do a mo for me, even though I was skeptical as hell and was more interested in the practices. I asked him if the results were definite that nothing could sway the results, if they predestined and inevitable he said yes. So I let him do the Mo. when the results came back overwhelmingly positive, I said you are either just telling me what I want to hear or what you think I need to know. He burst out laughing ‘why would I ever lie to you’ he said.

    Of course the mo was very wrong, when I challenged him a year later in Bir he said I should ‘sue OT, he did the mo’ when I said he was responsible since he told me the Mo is Always right and has never been wrong, he replied ‘the opportunity was there but I missed the timing and now it’s all lost’ when I replied but you had told me that the mo’s answer was predestined and would not change that the result would be inevitable, he replied ‘ ok I admit, I’m guilty I was just telling you what you wanted to hear’ and he started bursting out laughing…the same story goes for an elderly women who was told by him to make a documentary on him when he was unhappy with the results the woman who had quit her job and devoted a lot of time and money chasing him around the world interviewing him was blackballed and ignored by him every visit to her home city. The Mo had given her a positive for the documentary.
    And another elderly woman was told by DKR to write a screenplay on the life of King Gesar, because I am a writer, this poor woman who wrote 120 pages asked me to look at the script that included all sorts of mythical creatures, I could not tell her this is the stupidest project ever, no one would make this movie and he is just doing this to you to keep you occupied because he has no further practices for you because you’ve been his student for 20 years and it’s the dumbest script ever and DKR was playing her (she was an ex Trungpa student!)


    1. Yes but T I’m actually surprised you even thought a mo is predestined and would not change! Everything changes all the time, nothing is permanent, especially not a mo, so what were you thinking? OT is really very good at mos and I would have agreed that the mo was most likely right for the moment. And don’t we all miss the timing- we are human. For that we cannot point the finger at the lama.

      One thing I often wondered is JKW revealed termas constantly, practically shat them out. He did not have a consort. Even with various consorts I have not heard that DKR has revealed anything. It’s very possible I’m out of the loop on that one but wondered if there are any termas that have been revealed that people can share.


      1. @concerned. I never believed in Mo’s being predestined !!! That is what DKR was trying to convince me of. I brought up the point of everything changing all the time so it would not be worthwhile to do a Mo. what’s the point in having your fortune told if a million things can change its course. This is a way out for charlatans. Divination’s, Mo’s it’s all BS, DKR thought he could trick me, so I held him to his word and I called him out on it which no one in his sangha has ever done.


        1. Terma’s are also BS, it’s just a way to establish authority of a viewpoint and a clan or family by linking to padmasambhava


          1. That ‘OK’ remark was towards your mo response.

            Are you buddhist T? Or just entirely disillusioned? Some of us are disillusioned with certain lamas and organizations but not with dharma, including termas, so I’m curious what your position actually is.
            If it’s the latter than maybe you and Pete need to start a blog.


            1. Buddhism does not include belief in terma’s. Nor does belief in dharma include belief in Terma’s. Buddhism has been reinvented across Asia and within Tibet, with many competing ideologies based on the founder. My own family had treasure revealer’s or terton’s supposedly chosen by padmasambhava himself …


  9. I can see these two at a swingers party, and DKR says he ‘is not fit to judge Sogyal’ Yeah right, there are many buddy images over 30yrs. If Sogyal would confide with one Rinpoche about his problems who do you think it would have been? Surely Sogyal must have needed a compatriot from the east to enjoy his western indulgences with. Reports of Sogyal’s degrading women in front of visiting lama’s at lerab ling, are we to believe he kept this all hidden from his young protege??


  10. Getting back to the subject of this post, my personal experience of leaving Rigpa 13 years ago was very difficult. I had to face all my cultish beliefs – it really was an experience of cult deprogramming. There was zero support for leaving inside Rigpa, my only support was American Buddha website. And friends outside Rigpa.

    Makes me think of all the light and dark in this tradition and how it must have operated in Tibet. An interesting point that comes to mind is from a National Geographic in-depth article on modern Tibet about 15 years old or more. The author finished his article by saying that from all his impressions of the people, on balance, they actually felt better off under the new Chinese system as opposed to theocratic feudal Tibet.


  11. Beware the Anti-Cult: the dangers of leaving one extreme for another.
    When I left SJ I was riddled with anxiety, fear, and most importantly, anger. Anger for the community that had made me whole-heartedly believe it was the sole safe and correct way of life, only for me to eventually begin to unravel it’s long thread of winding hypocrisy.

    When you go through a loss, and leaving a community you once believed was genuinely your family is certainly a loss, you go through several stages. These stages are well known as the ‘Stages of Grief’, and one of the major ones being a stage of anger. You are rightfully angry, as you begin to process the abuse and manipulation of the community you left, of how it radically altered your perception of reality to one very fearful and aggressive.

    The stage after, but as I found, can also happen during, is reflection. Where you start to truly begin to process what you had experienced. And during this… it is not uncommon to seek out the other side, the forbidden fruit so to speak – the opinions of those that the SJ community deemed as overwhelmingly impure, people you were never allowed to even consider the opinions of as a mere thought experiment.

    And I did just that. Angry, isolated, silenced, I sought out many anti-SJ blogs as I could dredge up. And some of these people were complete opposite of my political views. Not only did I seek out anti-SJ blogs, I began to consume and digest the opinions of people who were SJ but had the polar opposite opinions of me.

    And it helped. It genuinely, truly did help. Seeing the opinions of the other side allowed me to level out my own sense of reality, my own balance, and find the gray area in between political morals. But during the phase of anger… I became susceptible to the opinions of people who had a strong and fiery hate for SJ or those who had hurt me. Here were people who listened to and agreed with me, people who were genuinely shocked and taken aback by the abuse I experienced. People who listened more than the people back in my own community who claimed they would listen to me.

    During this time of anger and reflection, I found my opinions doing complete 180s, seeming as if I became a different person over night. And I lost friends because of it, people who weren’t completely SJ, but more shocked about… how I had completely flipped my opinions in such a short span of time.

    And I don’t blame them. I regret it, but I understand why it happened. And it took me many months to eventually work out of that anger stage. To realize… the community I went to was the same thing but with different scenery. That the only reason why they listened to me is because my experiences could be used to fuel their own very black and white hate of the other side.

    And that is the danger of the anti-cult. It’s a common phenomenon for people leaving cultic communities to catapult into a cult developed around hating the cult they came from. It happens in all sorts of cults, religious, political, social, etc. It is the result of the anger stage of grief.

    That is why this blog leans so heavily on the fact it would prefer to stay politically neutral. While I feel that reading the opinions of the opposite side is a very IMPORTANT part of recovery, you must be careful to not fall back into your same behaviors with the same kind of people under the opposite flag.

    It IS possible to reach a stage of recovery where you can view politics from a genuinely middle ground point of view, from a point rooted in empathy for both sides. But it takes trial and error. You’re going from a community with extreme political imbalance and trying to find a central balance point, where you stand on your own without the support of a community. But to get there it will take some wobbling.


  12. From all I am reading here about how DZK behaves, I am coming to understand why he regularly contradicts himself. It seems that he wants to position himself as a modern lama, and so is willing to pay lip service to those concerned about abuse, but refuses to give up any of the powerstructure that enables him to be an abuser if he so wishes.

    His bottom line is always ‘once you’re my student you do what I say, never criticize and see me as a Buddha even though I know I am not ‘

    It seems like the thing that gets forgotten is that the aim of seeing your teacher as a Buddha is to relate to their wisdom mind/buddha nature as a way of invoking your own wisdom mind/buddha nature and seeing the same in everyone and everything. Pure perception really has nothing to do with seeing unethical behaviour as enlightened activity. If ones perception is pure one sees clearly and that means you see through the bullshit and recognize when the teachings are being misused.


    1. Pure perception really has nothing to do with seeing unethical behaviour as enlightened activity. If ones perception is pure one sees clearly and that means you see through the bullshit and recognize when the teachings are being misused.


      Pure in general means free from the mind poisons, this included free from ignorance like seeing enlightened activity where there is abuse or to see a trustworthy person where there is a thief.

      Pure perception could be understood in a tantric context to see abuse as the manifestation of an enlightened activity but still as abuse. In that case you see the action as abuse but assume its been manifested by a Buddha so that you can learn to act correctly act upon it.

      Another meaning of pure is, free from the grasping to inherent existence.

      Here is a good article by Alex Berzin on these points:


    2. Yes, anyone of sound mind and a little knowledge of the purpose of the teachings and awareness that as in any religion the teachings can be a platform for abuse. If you can’t see that you are too close to it, but step back and look at it from a distance to see more clearly. Many lamas are self appointed- we all know that. Many lie about their backgrounds- we know that too. Many will wrongly use HH name to give themselves credibility but it is just deceiving others. Many are addicted to money and women – we know that too. Many aren’t really ripe to teach in depth teachings. And many don’t really understand nor want to understand our culture. So from our side we have a responsibility to check (just like we are required to have a background check done for work so should they) and to invite upstanding examples who will not abuse or manipulate western students for their own agendas.

      Also on our side, if people were sincere about receiving the teachings they would not just thoroughly check the lama but thoroughly examine their own motivation and remember their own integrity and core values.

      I would not dress to please my math teacher nor sleep with him if he asked me to. I am there to get an education. If I am a patient, I would not sleep with my doctor to get medicine. There are certain boundaries that are understood in our culture.

      So why is it OK for lamas AND students to freely cross these boundaries in religion? DKR, with his sex contract and his writings and his own behavior condones this, making it more of a free-for-all than it already is. But it makes me not only question his integrity but also his maturity to teach the dharma in the west, not to mention his mastery of his mind. Is he that bored with teaching dharma- so he can spice it up to make it tolerable for himself? His way is only lowering the bar and twisting the teachings to suit his tendencies. So of course he is on the vision board.

      But this vision is obscured.


  13. DKR talks about ‘crushing’ and ‘assassinating’ the ego of the student. If divinations go wrong, the other students then interpret the failed divination to be a ‘crazy wisdom’ teaching. So if the mo is correct, they will take credit, if it’s wrong it will be perceived as a crazy wisdom teaching based on hope and fear. The question is who are these lama’s to think they are in the position to lie to people as a form of teaching…also the methods used to ‘assassinate or kill the ego’ ( it’s so embarrassing these violent action words are used because ego is not something that gets annihilated, it re-emerges in all of our life encounters while we are alive and cling unto our sense of self, it can be eroded slowly only to grow rapidly again with a new job and more karmic interaction. It is not that you permantantly kill the ego, DKR SHOULD know that!) these methods that DKR often are completely arbitrary. Gesar Mukpo was told to travel through the Middle East. Others are told to strip naked and do something embarrassingly sexual. The fact we are not seeing bodhisatva’s and enlightened beings produced from this means pure perception to guru is not justified. Again the catch clause, quote DKR Facebook post ‘the enlightened being can appear to be crazy to everyone, he could be the gigilo in a brothel etc’ that says it all there…


    1. “the enlightened being can appear to be crazy to everyone, he could be the gigilo in a brothel etc”
      Interestingly, none of these supposed crazy wisdom masters seems to have ever considered that a critic of them could be a manifestation of a Buddha or Bodhisattva too 😉

      Hence, “the enlightened being can appear to be crazy to everyone, he could be the detractor or outspoken victim of a power abusing Buddhist teacher etc”


  14. Pure Perception is for the practice of guru yoga and what happens at the end of practice, you dissolve the mandala, the deities and the guru. Therefore pure perception is a method of practice an illusion that dissolved and flows back into ones own mind, therefore the enlightened inspiration is discovered in yourself, you have it in you just as you see it outside of you. But the reason the image dissolved and merged with oneself is to acknowledge the capacity within oneself and the illusory nature of the ‘pure guru’. You do not see young Tibetan women servicing these ‘guru’s’ like you do in the west. In the east respect is there but not devotion in the everyday environment unless they are paid to help.


    1. If pure perception – in the sense of all are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or deities (the practice of the four purities) – is meant to be kept also inbetween Meditation Sessions, then it must be consequently applied. Then, a lama critical newspaper articles, liberal media, detractors, victims of abuse who speak up are manifestations of the B&B or deities too. It’s interesting to observe how inconsistent this training is applied, the abusive teacher is a Buddha, his abuse enlightened activity, detractors or victims who dare to speak up are deluded beings who lack the merit to see abuse as enlightened activity. The same is true for such nihilistic statements as „there is no truth, there is only individual perception“. It’s used to reject the fact of abuse, claiming, there is no fact of abuse, no truth about abuse. The proclaimer herself, however, propounds a truth, which is the critic is wrong, I am right. There is internal contradiction.


      1. Just additionally, the same internal contradictions can be found in how the conception of non-duality is applied. Sober judgement and ethics are denigrated because all is non-dual while at the same time the judgment of the lama acting only holy and the critic being ignorant or erroneous is upheld and the samaya to see the gurus actions as enlightened activity (this is an ethical guideline) is demanded or claimed to be of utmost importance.
        The inconsequence in application and living up to the held or propounded beliefs boils down to establish the party line (just like communist parties or dictatorships), the guru is always right, the student always wrong – except he sides with the guru’s actions or views no matter how wrong these are.


  15. Even if Chatral Rinpoche or Dodrubcen Rinpoche laid a hand on a young female, they would be greeted with a smack. The western lama’s have fooled westerners into thinking that all the prostrations easterners do to them means they will do anything. That is complete bullshit. Which is why they come to the west and prey on the unsuspecting and then say that they do not understand TB. They want to be god kings which is why they came to the west, a wise person has people travel to them and stays put and as the taoists say ‘know the world without stepping out the house’, the charlatan needs to keep traveling less enough people find out and gets the boot. Charlatans need to keep on the move so people can never get too close and be wary. Charlatans need to travel to escape jurisdictions so the police do not know where to serve papers. True teachers teach in depth not breadth. Teach a few disciples really well, who then pass on the torch, they do not need to cover the world and have Centre’s everywhere. Love it how DKR had teachings in Brazil during World Cup :))))


  16. Sorry for typos above:

    I meant Tibetan women would hit back even if a well respect Lama laid a hand on them.

    Charlatans need to travel lest enough people catch on…


  17. The ‘crushing and assassination’ of the ego is also ironic considering that while the guru is crushing everyone else’s, it is actually the ego of the guru that is being reinforced. The guru loses the most when he realizes he is not who he is, the tulku myth and all the devotion around him, the food on his table, the attendants, the relatively easy living all vanishes’ if belief in their ego is questioned. So ironically the guru in order to believe the lucky role that society has chosen him needs to solidify his sense of self and force himself to believe it and therefore eliminate the guilty conscience of being a fraud…his job now is to assassinate everyone else’s ..


    1. Hey T/Tenzin, so you’re the guy who got chucked out of DKR’s London teaching, right?


  18. Better also to remember this advice from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche:

    “Vajrayana in general is training in pure perception—Dzogchen is even much more so. How can you call yourself a practitioner of Dzogchen if you spend your time defaming, finding fault with or criticizing others? Maintain the view of pure sight, sound and awareness. This is how samsara and nirvana actually are, pervaded by the three kayas or three vajras. Sentient beings might not be aware of their Buddha Nature, but they are nevertheless endowed with the three kayas. You need to train in pure perception by accepting and respecting the three kayas in everyone. Great masters do perceive all sights, sound and cognitive activity as infinite purity. Once recognition of awareness is stabilized, there is no more impurity to be perceived. Train in this by thinking: “As the Buddha Nature pervades all beings, not a single being is unsuitable.” The more you respect Buddha Nature in others and train in pure perception, the more your own practice will progress.

    Slandering beings is slandering buddha nature; stop doing that. If due to your own impurity you perceive mistakes in other beings, at least do not voice them. If your awareness practice is too weak to sustain pure perception naturally, try to develop a rapport within an intellectual understanding of Buddha Nature in others. Know that your impure perception of others only happens either because you have not recognized genuine awareness, or because that recognition is not developed. Criticizing and slandering others puts you out of tune with the enlightened essence.

    You mainly harm yourself. The most unrealized so-called practitioner of Dzogchen can at least keep his or her mouth shut, even if he can not actually maintain the view.”


  19. Dear French Observer: Is Tulku Urgyen saying here that if somebody witnesses corrupt and abusive behavior, they should refrain from speaking out? Are you saying this, yourself?


    1. Hi Been there, I think your question is at the core of the problem because it seems to me that with a particular interpretation of pure perception, someone could stay in silence or denial of an abusive situation. I think also we can always be humble speaking about pure perception because I guess the more realised you are, the more you “get it”.

      No I don’t think that Tulku Urgyen is saying that they should refrain from speaking out. But surely, there is a large difference between dealing with an abusive situation with compassion at the best of your capacities and “spending the time defaming, finding fault with or criticizing others”.

      About my personal position, I guess confronted to such a situation my practice would be to try to act like a bodhisattva (of course I would fail). On speaking out, I follow Mingyur Rinpoche’s guidance as mentioned on a post above:
      About criticizing the actions of a teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche had already affirmed that it was not a breach of samaya in his book “Turning Confusion into Clarity”: “Some Westerners have the idea that leaving a teacher is breaking samaya, but this is not necessarily true. If after a period of study, you conclude that the teacher is not suitable, then it’s best to cut the connection. There are no rules in Vajrayana that say you have to stick with a teacher no matter what. Definitely not. If you have 100 percent proof that the teacher is not qualified according to these four considerations, then you should cut the ties, and you can even discuss the situation with other people. This is completely legitimate. If the teacher does not have these four qualities, and we have proof of inappropriate activities, then we are not breaking samaya by telling others. If the teacher is affiliated with a monastery, the best option is to discuss these issues with that person’s superior.”


  20. What everyone seems to be missing here is that each Rinpoche will have their own definitions. There is no authority in religion. It was made up by a group of men for the survival of the group, normally at the expense of women and people outside that racial group. The Buddha certainly did not talk of pure perception but to always Question the teacher. However, much of what is passed down as the Buddha’s words were put down centuries later.
    What you had going on in India is many different spiritual seekers mixing and matching philosophies and practices and adding on to what was the various teachings attributed to Buddha . Much of Vajrayana is influenced by Vedic ideas such as Atman, which in Buddhism would be thought not to exist. Tibetan Buddhists make a distinction now between conciousness and soul. The influence of ideas from Nagarjuna to Atisa and Shantideva’s, Naropa etc and were all brought to Tibet and reformulated by different schools again with different ideas. Tsongkhapa with his and the Nyingma’s with there’s. Within the Nyingma there has never been unanimous consensus. There has never been Dalai Lama’s and Panchen Lama’s that everyone has unanimously agreed on which often resulted in bloodshed.
    If we look at religion or even the Buddha as having some permanent rules set in stone then we are overlooking the obvious that religion was used to unite the people peacefully and work with the mind and emotions. How people do that is individual and different. Dudjum rinponche, Patrul Rinpoche whoever you follow at the end of the day is some dude saying I believe this way works, they were creator’s/artists. DKJR realized that it’s all a reinvention of something that has been reinvented that was reinvented from Buddha. It’s like playing telephone. You can bring up examples of great men and women within certain lineages within Tibetan Buddhism but still they were only human and spoke of their experience/ideas/insights. The dogmatic part of Tibetan Buddhism, the ‘pure guru’ ‘pure perception’ is only one aspect of practice that may benefit some who are really challenged to not see it in themselves or those around them that they need a Santa Claus figure. Yes, the Santa Claus figure was often a very astute, accomplished, philosophical person in a society where not everyone was literate. But at the end of the day it comes down to politics, tying the people together and stop insurrection. This was the way of the Catholic Church, Hitler was acutely aware that the Catholic Church in Rome had used religion to pacify nations to the authority of its leaders who were beholden to the church. If you look at religion and history in the macro, all these confusions around Guru Yoga become immediately obvious. DKJR realized his teachers created their own and so DKJR and Sogyal created their own. So everyone might as well create their own version of Buddhism. Whatever works for you. We were born creative not to inherit creation from narcissistic, mysogonistic, opportunistic ‘authority’ figures. As John Lennon says ‘power to the people right on!’


  21. I liked what Gesar Mukpo wrote on DKJR’s Facebook post last year, ‘let’s face it most Vajrayana practitioners are theists’
    He is absolutely correct, the guru has replaced God to many western vajra students, this in itself is an abberation of Buddha’s teaching and thus should not be called Buddhism but should be called what the early colonialists called it Lamaism.


    1. @concerned,

      I don’t think DKR would agree to a debate because deep down he knows he wouldn’t be able to win. 😀 He also wouldn’t want to talk about anything controversial that might be brought up in such a debate.


  22. I am also interested in how much these cult beliefs are held in other Tibetan Buddhist sanghas and the whole religion of TB more broadly. From my reading of other testimonials and other scandals in TB it seems fairly widespread. It is likely part and parcel of the tradition that came out of Tibet. It was a theocratic and feudal society. Feudalism is not know for treating serfs well or giving them any freedom. To me the purpose of most of these cult beliefs is preserving the authoritarian power of the lama. That’s also how I observed it as a member of Rigpa’s “Dzogchen Mandala”. It’s funny how well the old Tibet stuff, with a few quick modifications, worked on us westerners!

    India’s Buddhism (not perfect either) went to Tibet and became intertwined with the best and worst parts of Tibetan society. It’s funny how many westerners who sought Eastern religions bemoaned the state of Christianity in the West. We are now finding that Tibetan Buddhism is not as pure as we had naively hoped. I may just be speaking for myself in this paragraph LOL!


    1. @Taxila,

      “It’s funny how many westerners who sought Eastern religions bemoaned the state of Christianity in the West. We are now finding that Tibetan Buddhism is not as pure as we had naively hoped. I may just be speaking for myself in this paragraph LOL!”

      I made a similar comment recently as well. I think it’s true that Westerners were looking for something more “pure” than what they found in their own traditions, but the lesson is that human nature is the same the world over!


  23. The important question that leads on from examining cult beliefs, is of course which of the body of beliefs in the religion are true or good or healthy? Thalia touched on that when she said in her vlog “is Rigpa a cult” that the teachings themselves are good, but they were interpreted badly or practiced badly.

    I agree with that on a macro level. But of course the problem is that many of the teachings were written down by human beings, although some lamas or traditions will claim higher origins in order to gain extra legitimacy! For example I remember the secret essence tantra ranked women in order of suitability for practice from the age of 12 years old (can’t remember exact age)and went up from there – older ones being less desirable. And the whole tantra had a strange lowly view of women. Would that reflect the view of women that many Tibetan lamas had? Was this tantra a “pure teaching” or a mixture of things? June Campbell’s experience as a consort of Kalu Rinpoche highlights many of these issues (see her interview with Tricycle magazine), particularly the role of secrecy around sex.

    Ramakrishna said that the Indian scriptures were a huge mix of sugar and sand and it was necessary to find the sugar. And the Buddha always advised to test things for yourself and even to “work out your own liberation with diligence” on his deathbed. He must have known that “pure teachings” get corrupted.


  24. @Taxila,

    I have struggled to find the answer to your questions about Tantra, and I have come to the conclusion that there is really no absolute answer regarding which teachings are “pure” or not. I think you just have to go by what the texts say, and pick the lama who suits your own beliefs the best. Each lama has their own way of teaching it and their own view of what is correct and what isn’t. Not only that, but you usually can’t trust what they say in public about it, especially to a Western, non-tantric audience. For example, they may say they don’t use consorts in their practices, and it’s all just symbolic, but I don’t believe them. There is too much evidence to the contrary.

    One reason that young girls may have been considered so desirable could have to do with the typical age of the male initiate himself. Traditionally, a lot of lamas may have been no older than 12 to 14 themselves when they were first initiated into tantric practices with a consort, so she would ideally be around the same age or younger. However, here is no set age for consorts, even if they talk about young girls in some texts. You’ll always find other texts that contradict those texts and talk about older women. There are also male consorts with female gurus, so even gender roles aren’t absolute either. With Tantra things tend NOT to be set in stone.


    1. Thanks Catlover. Yes tantric sexual yoga opens up another whole can of worms, regarding male female relations. I found the issues that came up in June Campbell’s interview with Tricycle, rather scary and depressing in terms of the depths of the problems and issues. But that is samsara in a nutshell and it doesn’t mean that the practice itself is not efficacious or pure in its own right.


  25. Of course, when I talk about the young ages for tantric practices, I am talking about ancient India, not modern times. Hopefully, lamas have modernized their practices and have older consorts now, although who knows if some still use young girls because the texts say so?


  26. I hope I did not give everyone the wrong impression that I am anti Buddhist or anti Tibetan or think everything is false. I’m just saying the divine right of king’s that was believed in England up until James 1st was also going on in Tibet.
    Tibet was Feudal in the same way Victorian England, Ireland, Russia and France and a lot of the world were feudal. They were living in harsh conditions and Tibet’s defense was a priority, the Chinese and mongols’ kept Tibet feudal and fighting amongst each other, divide and rule. This is not because Buddhism does not work or the Tibetan’s were backwards. But nor do we need fantasy beliefs of a mystical shangri la. I think the current Dalai Lama is excellent and has dispelled a lot of what needed to be dispelled, he has a much more realistic and scientific mind and has moved and ‘reinvented’ Tibetan Buddhism in a more positive direction. The Dalai Lama has been earning everyone to take a realistic look at the religion. The aspects of religion that DKR and Sogyal are evoking are those that in the past were methods of control. The Dalai Lama is more interested in philosophy and practices that benefit. If it does not bring benefit discard. Even though there was a lot wrong in the history of Tibetan Buddhism and the rinpoche’s were not perfect, the philosophical ideas of achieving peace and enlightening the mind, developing spiritually were very well thought out ideas. Take for example the abhidharma texts and the formation of ego and and all the subtleties of the mind. The Dalai Lama has cooperated with neuroscientists to test the affects of different meditation practices. The Tibetan people of the Himayalas are extraordinarily by and large very good, warm compassionate people, Tibetan Buddhism works for them, they understand its value and limitations and the society it grew out of. The Dalai Lama said the religion of ones own culture is the best to practice but short of that just to understand that great Christian works and texts and Jesus’s teachings came out of a very dark religion too, but also has influenced a lot of secular philosophers in the enlightenment as well.
    As @ catlover says nothing is set in stone and there is no absolute authority from one source, you have decide yourself. Thalia is right, there are a lot of good teachings wrapped inside a lot of bullshit from self serving lama’s that emphasize the bullshit. Mingyur Rinpoche has stuck to the points of mind training, Sogyal and DKR are living in a fantasy world they created for themselves to help further delude themselves that they are divine.

    DKR and Sogyal picked ONE text to justify their abuse of power ‘Words of My Perfect Teacher’. Patrul Rinponche does NOT represent ALL of Tibetan Buddhism. He was a great scholar and historian and may have been greatly accomplished. That does not mean we take everything he wrote as gold. A lot of what he did was compiling many practices and beliefs circulating around like a scholar. Some worked for him, other’s were probably written down for historical records:)
    Tibetan history and Tibetan Buddhism is no better or worse than what has happened universally across all cultures. I believe Tibetan Buddhism has contributed immensely and at its best is better and more sound and even more realistic than other religions, at worst it has been used by unscrupulous men for power and control to serve their own ends. Also to clarify I do not believe the Dalai Lama’s, Panchen Lama’s, Karmapas etc of past were all in it for power. Actually they were very accomplished and I believe spiritually minded men who were puppets for power by the neighboring empire’s. I get a sense most rinpoche’s of past were pure in their spiritual quest as we can see from their own works and legacy but they were supported as long as they could tame the populace from revolting against paying taxes to the Chinese, Manchu and Mongolian empires.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Basically, there is a tendency by some to cite only sources or teachers that support the view the vjrayana teacher must be seen as being always right, and the student being always wrong when he perceives really existing faults. Such a view is totally inline with communist dictatorships or communist party lines, it bestows absolute power to the guru and it totally de-empowers a student. Whom does this way of thinking serve? What are the results of such closed absolute power sustaining systems? In reality, vajrayana texts and vajrayana teachers offer also more nuanced views, the question is, why are these ignored by those who propound an extreme of absolute authority?


      1. Exactly Vajrayana texts and teacher’s never claimed absolute authority. Debate was part of the culture. There was far more nuance in the old days, Nagarjuna and the Middle way arose out of debate between extreme’s and even the middle way was up for debate.

        DKJR always accomadetes holistic healer’s, masseuses and acupuncturists well, I remember during drubchen in the evening a different devotee was allowed into rinponche’s quarters and give him a rub down after a hard day’s work of meditation and prayers..of course the devotee felt exclusive to be allowed to pay their impure hands on such a great and pure master.


    2. Thanks T, great comment. Agree about HHDL – he is a shining light. Always annoyed me how Sogyal Rinpoche used him for legitimacy. And the interplay of politics is annoying but essential to understanding the history. Even the Buddha had to deal with big “p” politics as he walked around ancient India teaching with his sangha for 40 years before his death, sorry para nirvana 🙂 I’m sure there was internal politics as well! Poor Buddha.


  27. Sogyal and DKR only cite the 19th century Patrul Rinpoche’s book. They talk of shantideva and atisa but obviously do not practice that. They chose the book of a 19th century scholar and adept to justify everything! Religion needs to be looked at in the context of History, the Taoists did not separate their spiritual philosophy from politics, they did not have deities and all sorts of blind devotion. There are similarities between Taoist thought and Buddhism but politics and societal issues was left out in Buddhism. Taoism has its problems too, women were treated better and more equal in Tibet than India and China, but to say one tradition is better than the other is impossible as all traditions are pure, become corrupted or misguided and then pure. It’s up to us to separate the wheat from the chaff and discover what brings greatest peace and fulfillment to us in relation to society. Much of the problem today and the angst everyone feels and desire to turn to religion is that society is so fragmented now and does not take care of us like it used to. We can’t control the political so we turn to religion for all the answers.
    Another point I want to make. DKR and Tibetan Buddhism in general have nothing to do with liberal/socialist politics. Everyone should have equal rights but the idea of having a state that takes care of everyone is the opposite of Buddhist and Taoist thought where everything is based on merit. Most liberal/socialist dharma practitioners start politicizing ideas under the guise of Buddhism selectively choosing human rights issues while ignoring others. Many western Buddhists are happy to conflate helping refugees with being a ‘good Buddhist’ rather than involving oneself in being anti war and being anti interventionalist. Rather than criticizing central banks and misuse of funds they cry out government does not have enough funds an we need to raise taxes. Many western Buddhists say the government should pay for everyone’s health and education etc, Buddhism and Taoism will say education and health are your own responsibility. I get why DKR likes to provoke liberals, he is completely wrong against victim shaming women and condoning and allowing abuse, he is completely wrong when he attacks Muslim refugees out of the context of NATO wars of aggression, he falls into the same right vs left trap as the people he criticizes, he is not a wise man because wise people will always look to find the root of the problem not the symptom of the problem.


  28. Everyone has good points on this thread and I agree with most of them. I just hope things will change from now on, I’ve met people trying to bring down Sogyal for decades, I hope the status quo belief around the guru gets challenged and that we do not blindly submit to them and turn a blind eye to those women that have suffered. DKR will never allow anyone to challenge him, he will say it is futile to go into debate with someone who does not believe etc, or has made up their mind. DkR knew I was suspicious from the start, hence why he told me I shouldn’t practice. Same with Trungpa’s son Gesar, he needed Gesar to stay in America otherwise Gesar would see through the BS. It’s easier for DKR to maintain a facade for westerners. I saw right through him and questioned him, so he needed me out the way with a divination chasing a fool’s errand. He commonly loses his more intelligent students who catch on after awhile, if they stay despite having caught on to DKR it’s normally because they have been well positioned by dkr or invested themselves in the relationships they formed with other’s and it is hard for them to lose that community of support..


  29. Yes, @tenpel is right, the foundation of Vajrayana is built on the the Mahāyāna and Hinayana and the documented teachings of the Buddha. If one cannot imagine Nagarjuna or the Buddha or Shantideva saying this is the ONLY way to achieve enlightenment must have blind devotion to the Guru and have pure perception then we can assume there has been some corruption. Vajrayana as a method I can accept but if it contradicts the teachings it was built on then there is something wrong.
    As Tenpel points out Vajrayana masters/rinponche’s in the past in whichever school never laid down such ultimate terms surrounding the guru. It’s normally the student which makes up the ultimate rules by being too devotional or respectful.
    Example Sogyal Rinponche:
    Sogyal’s claimed teacher’s Dilgo etc never claimed absolute authority or omniscience. It was Sogyal who spoke of them in such devotional ways, alluding to the fact they were omniscient etc. Sogyal never claimed he was omniscient but by claiming his masters were he inferred that and gained a massive devotional following. Sogyal’s students and Rigpa leader’s then infer Sogyal is omniscient and that attracts more money and more power…I believe there were many genuine students of the past who became master’s that spoke with very praising language about their Guru, again we need to separate between having lots of respect such as someone like Patrul had and taking every word of praise literally. Of course, very wise people appear to be omniscient but a sychopant will use overly embellished language to share his joy and fervour with others. The students are responsible for helping creating the madness because of their high regard to someone who though may be very spiritually minded is still very human…just like some of Christ’s followers took things to the extreme. Christ was not wrong but the people who personified him as the same as God we’re overzealous and created problem’s for centuries.
    DKR and Sogyal have intentionally used westerner’s attitude to religion against them. The Dalai Lama is a very positive reformer. And Tenpel is right the views were more nuanced, there was debate and there were always critics and detractors. None of which are welcomed by DKR and Sogyal.
    If anyone wanted to debate DKR, he would just say if you do not agree or have a problem with me that is okay, I am not for you, you have free will maybe better you study with Theravada monk or Deepak chopra, I have no time to convince you, if you don’t like my teaching maybe best you study with someone like Lama surya Das or Sharon Salzburg..


  30. When confronted with sexual desire, early Buddhism suggested imagining the object of desire riddled with disease and all the negative things associated with attachment: jealousy, conflict etc and then also thinking of the well being of the object of desire and their desire for happiness.
    Compare that to DKJR response to criticism against Sogyal with the ‘bend her boner’ contract ‘rinpoche’s get horny and have hormones too’ one does not need to be ‘spiritual’ to respect other human’s and control impulses, here we have a defense by DKR on such an animalistic view…
    Sogyal will not be teaching again but for the benefit of all sincere practitioners, Tibetans, Bhutanese, Sikkimese, Buddhists I hope DKR does not teach again as this is reflecting poorly on everyone and will undo the respect for the dharma and create more imitation’s of these ‘guru’s’. I suspect he will do one last round of teachings to gather some more funds before resigning and saying he feels he is not appreciated enough..


  31. I know a DKR synchophant whom I believe he found annoying. He sent her off to receive from other lamas various wangs and transmissions- she would come back overloaded and even more neurotic, more loong problems. It made me wonder why he sent her away so much rather than compassionately and honestly helping her to work with her mind with 1-2 practices. There is no need for more than -too many deities and practices and one won’t accomplish even one of them. I felt so sorry for her and for how she was being guided. Not to mention how much it drained her already low finances. It is true I don’t know what his motivation was but I saw the effects and I never saw her change for the better. Yes we all have free will to choose, but when people get to that point of finding themselves in the role of a synchophant it is almost irreversible. It is almost like once well functioning normal people lose their sanity and all common sense when they get sucked into some of these lama’s orbits.

    That said, there are lamas, not just in the past, but right here and now in today’s world, who are masters of Vajrayana, who don’t demand absolute authority, and who can and will properly and carefully guide a sincere student. Those that demand absolute authority and warn students not to criticize indicate a certain insecurity in their mastery of the teachings. No Tibetologist or intellectual that I know of has ever mastered the teachings as they over-intellectualize everything and the heart and the intellect are not balanced to practice properly. I appreciate the history lessons here, but this is not a thing of the past, buddhism is not relevant only for the past but the practices, including termas, are very relevant in today’s world. Time to sign off and go forward. Wishing everyone well and not to lose sight.


  32. That’s a sad story, they pass people on who have too many issues, kind of misses the point of what the practice is supposedly treat…it depends what mastery of the teachings look like to the objective eye. Being an intellectual or learned does not hinder spiritual development as one is often told by lama’s nor does particularly help one forward spiritually one does not exclude the other. Knowing and wisdom is a natural off shoot of spiritual practice, those who know will and can seem pedantic or come across as intellectuals as they explain to sycophants who believe what they are told by authority figures they place their trust in whether religious, political, education/brainwashing and media…
    Intellectualising and spirituality have nothing to do with each other. But until one reach’s enlightenment as the Dalai Lama accurately says use your intellect.
    No one can really tell who has mastered the teachings as every life is different with their own battles, obstacles and conflicts to survival and how many people are dependent on them and who or what values and agenda they serve. Julian Assange’s motivation was to awake people to the suffering of others whether he has peace of mind in his fear of being extradited is another story.


  33. This is probably a little harsh but this take-down of Elon Musk did remind me a bit of the worse aspects of a couple of Tibetan teacher-dudes.

    “He is prone to unhinged Twitter eruptions. He can’t handle criticism. He scolds the news media for its purported dishonesty and threatens to create a Soviet-like apparatus to keep tabs on it. He suckers people to fork over cash in exchange for promises he hasn’t kept. He’s a billionaire whose business flirts with bankruptcy. He’s sold himself as an establishment-crushing iconoclast when he’s really little more than an unusually accomplished BS artist. His legions of devotees are fanatics and, let’s face it, a bit stupid.”


  34. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo has given finally in public her position concerning the recent scandals during a dharma teaching at Dharma Friends of Israel available on youtube.

    She makes reference and adopts the same position than HH Dalai Lama and Mingyur Rinpoche. She gives indications on how to consider a situation of sexual exploitation: do you accept that as skilful means? If the student didn’t benefit, it was not skilful and it was just the lama crossing boundaries.

    Also, even if the lama is considered as a father, incest is not acceptable in this type of relation. You should keep your common sense.

    Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo – “The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra” – p4/4

    from 9:24 to 14:04 (precisely from 10:24 to 11:46 about the controversy).


    1. Interesting also to notice that Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo gives this teaching and makes public her position about the controversy on abuses 3 days before visiting Rigpa UK center…


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