By JO GREEN
In the first part of this post we saw how, in a new video from Lerab Ling to the sangha, Rigpa are continuing to construct a false narrative about the cause of their current difficulties. In this part we see how they are trying to erase the word “abuse” from all discussion.
LOJONG LEADS TO LAWYERS
Apparently, the events of 2016 were not the end of the problems caused by Lerab Ling’s local newspaper. A year later, in August 2017, Dominique Side says Midi Libre published a full-page article “which advocated Lerab Ling should be shut down”. This is an interesting interpretation of that article. It’s an interview with Dominique Cowell, one of Sogyal’s closest and most trusted assistants until 1995, who left when she saw for herself that sexual abuse was happening. She recounts an absolutely horrific incident where Sogyal led a naked woman about by a rope around her neck, making her bray like a donkey. At the end of the interview Cowell does say “We must send the gendarmes to Lerab Ling, close the centers,” and that Sogyal Rinpoche should be brought to justice. But this is a quotation of her words: it is not the main thrust of the article and it is not what the newspaper itself advocates.
Dominique Side cites this article as an example of “people acting against you”. She then goes on to restate the principles of lojong, that Sam Truscott had also explained in his letter the previous year, as being the reason why they had never reacted to negative media coverage. She says this as if this is some great noble thing: to not refute accusations of abuse against a person who has, in fact, abused people.
She explains, “You don’t judge. You don’t immediately set out to attack the other person. This is part of a compassionate Buddhist stance.” Now I find this a surprising attitude from Dominique Side. Not long after The Letter had come out, one of its authors included her in an entirely innocent mailshot about something which had nothing to do with Rigpa. Dominique fired back an angry, insulting response within minutes. Let’s just call that “the gap between theory and practice”.
She goes on to explain that “the turning point” was a December 2017 article in the same newspaper when they interviewed Jean-Baptiste Cesbron – a lawyer who had been gathering accounts of abuse committed by Sogyal Rinpoche, with the aim of bringing criminal proceedings. But what principally concerns Dominique, Sam and the rest is that they feel he characterised Lerab Ling as a cult.
Once again, the Lerab Ling leadership are framing things in a very misleading way. In fact, the lawyer Cesbron never called Lerab Ling “a cult” in that article. If you read it and watch the video interview that accompanies it, he never once spontaneously mentions Lerab Ling. He is asked a question about whether the centre should be shut down and answers “No.” That’s all. He makes clear he is not against Buddhism as a whole. His criticisms relate specifically to Sogyal Rinpoche and the effect his behaviour had.
Nonetheless, Dominique Side has framed his words as a specific attack on the Lerab Ling community: an attack so serious that lojong goes out of the window and you bring in the lawyers.
WHY SUE NOW?
I can’t say I follow her logic. Why could they not issue a statement rebutting the article, yet not launch legal actions? Why could they not focus on acting in such a clearly non-cult-like way that the accusation becomes ridiculous? Apparently, their lawyers said they HAD TO prosecute the newspaper, the journalist and the interviewee. Oh, and 133 people at Lerab Ling have coincidentally decided to take their own joint action against the newspaper (it’s not clear if Dominique is one of them). So that’s four writs out there. But they still really believe in lojong. Honestly.
It seems to me that Dominique, Sam, Lerab Ling and their lawyers have not had it fully explained to them how newspapers work, and I would like to save them some trouble, so here’s a quick guide:
- Newspapers report news stories;
- Journalists research and write those stories;
- To do that, they interview people;
- The journalist reports what interviewees say;
- The newspaper edits and publishes what the journalist writes.
So, if a journalist reports the racist statements of a politician, that obviously doesn’t make the journalist or the newspaper racist and one would therefore not normally prosecute either for racism. The only exception would be if there was editorialising by the paper, supporting these views. In the case of Midi Libre, there was no editorial comment, just reporting of events and statements – by Rigpa and others.
I mean, if they really want to sue this lawyer for what he said, they can try it – although, given how completely unperturbed Cesbron appeared after they started their action, I’d say they’re on a hiding to nothing – but it seems barking mad to go after the newspaper and journalist. Or is it? Dominique commented that “It has already had an impact, although the suit has not been tried. The press coverage is much more balanced than it has been previously.”
In other words, they may have successfully intimidated the newspaper into not publishing anything more about the abuse. It’s not a huge newspaper, perhaps they can’t take the risk of the financial consequences. Maybe that was the main intention of the suit, to gag the press, in which case it worked. Or perhaps the newspaper is biding its time – I note that they have now taken all their articles about Sogyal and Lerab Ling out from behind the paywall, so everyone can see them.
SO, WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?
I’m still a bit confused about something, though. Lerab Ling say they now believe they need to take the legal route to protect their reputation, but that’s not what they’re really doing. On 24th January France 3 Television, in their region, did a report on the legal action being taken at Lerab Ling and the events that caused it. They interviewed the father of “Mimi”, also the lawyer at Lerab Ling who is bringing the group action, and the lawyer Cesbron – who correctly points out that no one in Lerab Ling has denounced the abuse – plus Dominique Cowell, who unequivocally states that Sogyal rapes women. The video and accompanying article are still online, and there is an English subtitled version.
As we have seen, Rigpa defended Sogyal Rinpoche from the allegations of ‘Janice Doe’ against him, with Patrick Gaffney taking a central role, whilst Sogyal stayed away. We’ve also seen that Rigpa rebutted allegations on behalf of Sogyal when criticised by Marion Dapsance, but they have not given any such defence of him with regard to the behaviour outlined in the letter of July 2017 written by 8 concerned students. Instead they are manipulating their members’ perception by sidestepping the main issue – the abuse committed by Sogyal, which is what is really harming Rigpa and Lerab Ling – and focusing on the ‘we are not a cult’ smokescreen they have created.
A LIE UPON A LIE UPON A LIE
The leadership at Lerab Ling has weaved a multiple fiction. Firstly, that Cesbron went out of his way to characterise Lerab Ling as a cult. He did not – he criticised Rigpa as a whole and Sogyal specifically.
The second is that there is some distinction between the notion of Rigpa being cult-like and the allegations against Sogyal. This is like arguing that your cough has nothing to do with your emphysema. Cesbron’s points are clear:
- He has compelling evidence of abuse committed by Sogyal.
- Sogyal’s idea of “crazy wisdom” was used to justify everything from public humiliations to sexual abuse, and one could not really be part of Rigpa without accepting it.
- This group mindset led to the creation of a cult-like environment in which it was very hard for anyone to speak up.
Without the actions and ideas of Sogyal, there is nothing that could be described as cult-like. Rigpa cannot meaningfully fight the notion that they are a cult whilst refusing to discuss Sogyal’s actions.
Thirdly, in the new video Sam Truscott speaks of how relations with the local council, tourist board and neighbours have suffered as a result of what was published. I have no reason to doubt this. However, in their version of events, apparently local people were more or less OK with years of rumours, then serious allegations and national scandal around Sogyal hitting and humiliating students, sexually abusing women and embezzling money, and that this was happening on their doorstep with some of their neighbours and fellow parents at the school gate implicated in it all. But, when they heard the word “cult”, that was too much for them and relations went bad. Is there anyone outside Rigpa that buys that idea?
It is a lie upon a lie upon a lie. And these are the lies that are being fed to the remaining students through internal communications.
According to publicly-available testimonies, Sogyal beat people unconscious, made them bleed, compelled women to do sexual acts they found degrading or raped them, and punched nuns. So, Dominique, if you’re still struggling to pinpoint the cause of Lerab Ling’s current problems, I can provide clarification: Sogyal did this. If you don’t accept that, then please call up those journalists you’re so upset with and demand to be allowed an interview where you categorically deny that Sogyal ever harmed anybody. Tell them you are 100% sure that he never abused anyone sexually or physically, that he never committed a rape or misused funds. Actually, why don’t you get Patrick Gaffney and Philip Philippou to join you and make a definitive statement on his innocence that all Rigpa students can get behind?
In fact, why don’t you mount a media campaign about it?
Thanks for your articles, Jo.
I think it’s really important that people become aware of how Rigpa international leadership is manipulating (or attempting to manipulate) their perception, particularly with the results of the independent investigation coming out soon. We can be sure that whatever that report finds, Rigpa will find a way to spin it to their advantage. It is not a time for students to be niave and trusting of those who have known about the abuse for decades and have already had much practice at covering up the truth. Will they ever come clean? The deeper they dig themselves into lies, the harder it will be for them to do so.
Private discussion on this and other related topics can be had on our What Now Facebook Group. It 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.
People from other sanghas can join the Beyond the Temple Facebook Group . It’s a support group for anyone who has left their Buddhist sangha after hearing revelations of abuse by their teacher or after experiencing such abuse. It’s for people who see ethical behaviour, love, compassion and introspection as the core of their spiritual path. The focus is not on the abuses, but on ourselves and our spiritual life as we recover from our experience of spiritual abuse and look to the future. Click here and request to join.
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, which posts links to related articles as they come to hand.
58 thoughts on “LIES, DAMNED LIES & LERAB LING – part 2”
For information. Just facts.
In the newspaper “Midi Libre” Jean-Baptiste Cesbron answered to this question
of Midi-Libre : Life goes on at Lerab Ling, should the center be closed?
Cesbron : No. Because it would force those who attend the temple to integrate a society where they would no longer have their bearings. As in any sectarian movement, people are deprived of their identity and cut off from their families. Moreover, there is no hemorrhage of followers. We must go to the end of the investigation, and do pedagogical work.”
However he also said before :
Cesbron : The Adfi (Associations for the defense of families and the individual victim of sects) of the Herault, received calls denouncing the behavior of Sogyal Lakar, as well as the national unity, Unadfi.”
… and also :
Midi-Libre : You do not hesitate to talk about sect …
Cesbron : There is no legal definition of the sect, not even with the About-Picard Law of 2001 on Prevention and Suppression of Sectarian Movements. But a priori, we associate the actions that are of the order of abuse of weakness, breach of trust, fraud, all that is a crime if there is rape.
Rigpa and Sogyal are also reported in an official document of the French government, therefore Jean-Baptiste Cesbron is not alone to equate them to a”Sectarian Movement” :
The report of the Miviludes pubished on 22/03/2018 (activity of 2016 and first semester of 2017) mentions Rigpa, and Sogyal on page 19. The Miviludes is an interministerial mission instituted with the Prime Minister by presidential decree of November 28, 2002.
Click to access rapport_miviludes_2017_web_v2.pdf
3-Buddhist Union of France
August 3, 2017
Press release following Sogyal Rinpoche scandal
Posted on Thursday August 3rd, 2017 by UBF
The master of Tibetan Buddhism nyingmapa, Sogyal Rinpoche is subject to concordant accusations, which, as we know and as stated, in no way correspond to Buddhist ethics and are unjustifiable in every respect. views.
In the hope that a happy evolution will be established, the Buddhist Union of France suspends membership of Rigpa Lerab Ling and Rigpa France.
The UBF expresses with sincerity and compassion all its spiritual support to the people concerned by this affair and to the international community of this school.
Thanks Jo, pretty sharp analysis again.
They are trying to go out swinging – giving their remaining financial reserves to lawyers in a pathetic attempt to put a bandaid over the spot they ripped their heart out.
Wow! Shambhala is fucked and the Sakyong is a very sick man who uses his power in deeply sinister ways that harms people, mainly women. So many men complicit in the accounts. I’m not feeling good about what i’ve just read: http://andreamwinn.com/project_sunshine/Buddhist_Project_Sunshine_Phase_3_Final_Report.pdf
TRIGGER warning: I posted the link above but maybe that wasn’t the best move. Please only read the accounts if you’re feeling quite robust.
Could only read some of that.
As soon as I got to “Is BPS a white woman initiative?” my eyes started rolling. They then had a good long rant about the “patriarchy” and how they were all dakinis and were led by Yeshe Tsogyal.
But, the real seal dealer was on page 10, taking Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as some sort of moral guide. This was the guy that started it all, yet they still kiss his butt?
Bonkers, the lot of them.
The biography of jamyang-khyentse-chokyi-lodro gives the same pattern of discrepancy.
There is lot to think over and over again.
Yes page 10 is stunning
@tinytimhaslosthistortoise et al I think the view of CT as a moral guide is more a personal perspective of Andrea Winn (and others)– but cannot necessarily be seen as the view of the general Shambhala community. I think there is division within the community about how much CT’s example is playing out through this trouble.
“But, the real seal dealer was on page 10, taking Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as some sort of moral guide. This was the guy that started it all, yet they still kiss his butt?”
This is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. Unless Trungpa is denounced as the creepy, sadistic, womanizing, alcoholic, animal abusing, self-important dictator that he was, with no denials, and no Milarepa excuses, they will NEVER be able to reform. How can they if they can’t even recognize an abusive person and call a spade a spade? All of his followers will model his behavior for generations to come. The seed has to be completely taken out of the soil, and that “seed” is Trungpa himself. He spawned the whole generations of abusive teachers, not only in Shambhala, but everywhere!
I really wonder what his reincarnation (the young Trungpa “tulku”) is like and I wonder why he hasn’t been reinstalled in his centers, and I wonder why he isn’t teaching in the West. Of course, I suppose that’s a good thing, but it’s curious that he isn’t teaching in the West and has remained so obscure. I wonder if people realize what an embarrassment his last incarnation was, at least on a subconscious level. Are they ashamed to present the new “tulku” in public? Of course his regents aren’t much better, so what’s the difference, lol?
WOW! What an article! Nothing in there surprises me though. Still it’s awful to read these stories in black and white. it just makes it all that more vivid.
Referring to the end of the article where the question is asked: Should there be a full investigation? The answer is”Well, that depends on whether people are satisfied or not.” What kind of stupid reasoning is that?!?!? There needs to be a full investigation whether people are “satisfied” or not. It doesn’t matter how many people think an investigation doesn’t matter. The fact is that serious crimes were committed, so they should be investigated, right?
This link was posted on Reddit, in case any are interested: https://m.imgur.com/a/RpxnbQi
Personally, I find the thought of anyone traumatizing a dog pretty much unbearable to contemplate.
Jacob, have you read the cat story? It’s worse.
Alas, I have… Both are truly shocking to me. :((
Wow, that man was psychopathic! Anyone who would seek out animals to abuse on purpose just to prove some stupid, nihilistic point is sick. What’s scary is that this article is written in such a way that the author views this sadistic torture of a poor animal as some sort of “enlightening teaching?” This is just disgusting! “Everything is illusion,” my foot! How is abusing a poor dog proving anything about emptiness?!?!? I don’t get it. How could that weirdo student create some sort of “mystical teaching’ out of a plain, old abusive action against a dog. It’s just sickening! This man should have been locked up in jail and this cult disbanded by the police! I’m totally FED UP!
It seems to me there are only two possibilities here: 1) Trungpa believed — no, he would have to *know* — that the trauma he inflicted on Myson the dog would ultimately benefit him, in addition to providing a teaching for John Perks and Max. Or 2) Myson was purely an object, an instrument for the teaching to the humans.
Possibility 2 needs no comment. Dogs and cats are highly sentient beings, of course. (For me, dogs especially are as obvious and beautiful a manifestation of basic goodness as exists in the world.) Anyone harming a dog or cat is practicing cruelty, anti-dharma.
That leaves 1. Okay, are we supposed to simply accept on faith that what Trungpa did to Myson — let alone to the cat in the other story — will have the effect of breaking through their habitual tendencies and planting the seed of realization which would otherwise have no way of reaching them? Can’t *anything* be justified that way? How could he *know* this?
What I imagine in reading that story is a dog who will forever afterwards be terrified of the sound of a scraping chair. And probably terrified of people who look to him like Trungpa. How can a dog process what is essentially torture? I’ve always felt strongly that dogs and cats learn through the kindness and devotion of humans, and also through observing our habits more generally, something of what “humanness,” the human realm, is. But instead to be made further bewildered and fearful? I can’t fathom such behavior. It strikes me as horrifying.
Third possibility is
3) Trungpa was high on coke or drunk and then pair that with a head injury from a serious car accident (when he was driving drunk) and further brain injury from a stroke… well it’s a recipe for a seriously mentally and cognitively impaired individual. So the third possibility would be this is not at all a teaching but an act of serious animal cruelty. Yes indeed it is horrific. I hope everyone wakes up from this total nightmare. A true follower of dharma would not hurt the smallest fly. There are many teachers out there who teach without harming any beings and without taking cocaine and drinking.
It is just unfortunate that Trungpa paved a rotten path in America.
Yes there is the famous story of Asanga coming upon the dog infested with maggots. Initially Asanga tried to remove the maggots with a stick or something, but it caused the dog pain, and it risked killing the maggots. So in the end he removed the maggots — one by one — with his tongue.
And of course his actions were endorsed as bodhisattva activity by Maitreya himself, who the dog really was.
I love that story, and aspire to it. The mere thought of scaring a dog or cat is unbearable.
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Also, there is a 4th possibility. Trungpa was severely abused as a child himself, which usually perpetuates the cycle of abuse. The whole system condones abuse and the cycle goes on and on with each generation. (Ever heard the story about how Trungpa’s own “teacher” tortured him with the idea that he had just eaten a childhood friend of his?) Because of growing up in that environment, he developed Narcissistic Personality Disorder and was a psychopath, imo. They lack empathy. Frankly, I don’t care to analyze Trungpa. There is no excuse for his behavior. As far as I’m concerned he belongs right in there with other sadists of history.
As to your other comment. It’s true that the teachings make it clear that it is wrong to harm even a fly. However, I have noticed that a lot of these so-called lama “teachers” would actually care more about flies than they do about people. In Trungpa’s case, I don’t think ANY creature would be would have been safe from him. I am quite sure he would torture any living being he could make an “example” of. He was a psychopath and had no conscious.
I meant to say Trungpa had no conscience. I suppose you could say he had no conscious either because he was hardly ever really “conscious” of anything, lol!
“It seems to me there are only two possibilities here: 1) Trungpa believed — no, he would have to *know* — that the trauma he inflicted on Myson the dog would ultimately benefit him, in addition to providing a teaching for John Perks and Max.”
That’s just magical thinking. This line of reasoning is used to justify all kinds of abusive behavior from lamas and so-called teachers.
“Or 2) Myson was purely an object, an instrument for the teaching to the humans.”
That is probably the correct possibility. Myson, the cat, and any other sentient beings in his path were just objects to be used for whatever purpose he wanted. The narcissist uses people and animals as instruments and nothing more. They have no empathy, so they don’t care about the pain they inflict on others. It’s hard to imagine not having any empathy because most of us have empathy as part of a normal human brain. Either the empathy part of his brain was wiped out when he hit his head (during the accident), or he never had it to begin with. There really are people with no empathy. One area where Buddhism falls way short is to not acknowledge this fact. Buddhist “psychology” assumes that everyone has a conscience, and that everyone “feels bad” about the bad things they do. Buddhist “psychology” fails to acknowledge the dark side of human nature or the existence of psychopaths. Yes, there really are cruel people in the world, and for whatever reason, the empathy part of the brain just doesn’t exists for them, and they really don’t care.
“Or 2) Myson was purely an object, an instrument for the teaching to the humans.”
Perhaps he was just doing it for kicks, that he got some sort of pleasure/ adrenalin rush from harming and scaring animals. I would remove the phrase ‘for the teaching to the humans’. This is definitely not in any way related to dharma or skillful means of any kind. Just abuse.
Oh, I totally agree it’s just abuse. He probably did get enjoyment out of it. At the same time, in addition to the enjoyment he got out of the abuse, everyone in his life was an instrument to be used in his narcissistic game, (which in his mind was part of whatever “teaching” he thought he was imparting). This is what narcissists do. They use people. Everything to them is one, big chess game and everyone on the board are pawns. So, I didn’t mean to imply there was any real “teaching” in all of the abuse. It was only a “teaching” from his point of view, because in his mind everything he did was above any scrutiny and he was a mini “god” with a small “g” (or maybe not even with a small “g” actually) and could do no wrong. His “devoted” followers also saw it that way too.
I would want to think the people with any empathy would just walk out and leave. But there is such a psychological sticky tangled mess in these groups who justify and twist and manipulate what is plain abuse into something skillful and at all related to what the Buddha taught. A small child would have more discernment and empathy than some of these adults! I would learn more from a 5 year old than some of these lamas about basic human goodness. And a 5 year old doesn’t demand devotion or money or sex or attention or tell you not to criticize him/her.
I have met some students of large sanghas with questionable lamas that seem to have a cold demeanor and lack of empathy, self involved and arrogant, disconnected, elbowing to get close to the lama and be recognized in the pecking order… they are all about what their own lama has for lunch but don’t seem to care so much of the person sitting next to them, much less a person who does not have devotion for that lama. It is so ironic. So to me, these people are not dharma students, but they practice lamaism. Big difference.
The students are the reflection of the teacher. If the students would check themselves and check the lama, then the teacher would have no students! So we have a large responsibility in this… it’s not just one sided.
Still, there do exist good lamas and teachers who uphold the vows and transmit the dharma unstained, who don’t abuse their power in any way. They should not be lumped with the rotten apples who give dharma a bad name.
I think for some it might be helpful to walk away for a long while and get back in touch with what is truly important, what their hearts once knew, and slowly decide how to proceed. IMO it is better to have a good heart and practice kindness than practice a sadhana in a cold mechanical way and then not care about your neighbors and animals.
“And a 5 year old doesn’t demand devotion or money or sex or attention or tell you not to criticize him/her.”
Well, actually, a five year old can be a little tyrant, especially if they have parents that spoil them rotten, but I get your point. 😀
“I have met some students of large sanghas with questionable lamas that seem to have a cold demeanor and lack of empathy, self involved and arrogant, disconnected, elbowing to get close to the lama and be recognized in the pecking order….”
You said it! That seems to be their main focus alright!
“Still, there do exist good lamas and teachers who uphold the vows and transmit the dharma unstained, who don’t abuse their power in any way. They should not be lumped with the rotten apples who give dharma a bad name.”
Do we really know if the so-called “good” teachers are well behaved and moral in secret? Vajrayana is all about secrets, and lying is often justified in the name of saving face. The truth is that we really don’t know how the lamas behave in private. Frankly, I think the whole system is so corrupt, and it’s so unhealthy the way lamas are brought up, I really can’t see how ANY of them could become normal, functional adults. I am not saying they are all abusive psychos, but I don’t think there could be many of them who are well adjusted. I also think they are all confused about what is right and wrong, even if they aren’t abusive. That’s why they can compartmentalize and admire people like Trungpa, even if they don’t behave like him personally.
“IMO it is better to have a good heart and practice kindness than practice a sadhana in a cold mechanical way and then not care about your neighbors and animals.”
I certainly agree with that. 🙂
” I also think they are all confused about what is right and wrong, even if they aren’t abusive.”
“I think the whole system is so corrupt, and it’s so unhealthy the way lamas are brought up, I really can’t see how ANY of them could become normal, functional adults.”
These sweeping generalizations with ‘they’ meaning ‘all lamas’ and ‘the whole system’ are entirely too sweeping to even take seriously. Do you believe HHDL is confused about right and wrong? Have you met all lamas and know their minds?! Lol. I realize you are no longer a buddhist and done with the whole of buddhism, perhaps never found a teacher you were close to. I’m fed up too, but not with dharma itself, not with HHDL, not with a few wonderful lamas, just the behavior of a few bad apples.
Maybe it might be healthy to just pursue your happiness at this point? Life is so short- too short! That said, I should take my own advice here- thanks for the conversation and best in your journey.
“…thanks for the conversation and best in your journey.”
Wow, kicking me out the door much, lol? And don’t hit the door on my way out, eh? 😀
It’s true that I can’t see into all the lama’s heads, but I think it’s safe to say that when you’re taken away from your mother (against your will) at a very young age, put into an all-male institution, and probably sexually molested, either by other monks, or by abusive adults, one really can’t have a very healthy state of mind, right? Even when they aren’t personally abused, they may witness abuse. Don’t tell me that it doesn’t go on in Tibetan culture and that abuse is just a Western thing. Also, I didn’t say ALL lamas are abusive, and I thought I made that clear in my comment, but what I DID say is that I doubt any of them are truly “healthy” individuals. And yes, I think most of them have trouble telling right from wrong in some instances. Maybe I should have clarified that I didn’t mean they can’t EVER tell right from wrong. However, I think that in some ways their judgement is impaired because of how they have been taught and the things they have witnessed, repressed, and put up with since childhood. Sorry, but I am not changing my mind on that. I don’t think it’s a healthy way to bring up children and I think it’s pretty safe to make a “sweeping generalization” that when children are brought up in that way, they are going to have some issues. I am not interested in getting into a debate about how many exceptions there might be. If there are any, I think it’s a small number that could endure such an upbringing without any scars.
As for HHDL, do we really know what he’s really like or what his personal problems might be? Before you jump down my throat and say that I am saying he’s BAD, I am not saying that at all. I am only saying that I DON’T KNOW. The same goes for any other lama. You can’t judge them by their public face, so unless you know them personally, who knows if they are “good” or “bad” people in their personal lives?
Of course, with lamas like Trungpa and Sogyal, it’s pretty obvious that they are “bad” ones. I personally think all of them look pretty bad if they praise Trungpa or stay silent on Sogyal. So, I am suspicious even of the “good” ones, and I wonder what they are really thinking. It’s clear that at best, their judgement of right and wrong is impaired if they can’t tell that Trungpa was a total jerk.
It is becoming evident now that a number of Rinpoches have developed potential for sociopathic behaviour due to their barbaric upbringing. Trungpa’s seems to have been a lack of empathy for the suffering of helpless animals. Once these kind of people become all-powerful (as in a corrupted form of Guru Yoga that they espouse) then it seems a deep and dark side to their nature is opened up. We are now seeing the results of the harmful effects upon students in sanghas where this kind of practice was the norm and it is a very good thing that particularly nasty stories of Trungpa’s cocaine filled delusions of grandeur are being made public as a warning to the wider spiritual circles. There is a third factor required to bring about the degradation of once authentic spiritual lineages in the Tibetan tradition and that is a group of gullible students.
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I Think you made a good statement, because it opens the way to see also the good sight of the situation. As far as I understood the dharma training was also very though and If I understood it well reason for it was to transmit the teachings as accurate as possible to preserve the blessings of the lineage. What an enourmous amount of text they have and had to learn by heart as children.
What they learned by heart and what dark sides emurge due to unfavourable circumstances are two different things.
Whether some people like it or not I think the part the lama’s learned by heart and transmiited to us is not wrong only some interpretations. Although they want us tombelieve that their interpretation is the only truth, what we doubt. I would like to know how vajrayana was tought in India at Nalanda. Has a bias developped during the transmission from India to Tibet? Was guru yoga different in India? And are we now in the west unhappy with that bias and are we in the position to change that in a good and healthy way? and what is needed tommake that change?
It also depends on WHAT changes they want to make too.
@Jan de Vries,
My two cents.
“I would like to know how Vajrayana was taught in India at Nalanda.”
I dunno. Wish I did, lol! 😀 I do know that Tantra used to be more private and done in smaller, select groups, not big, huge money-making sanghas. I think it worked better that way.
“Has a bias developed during the transmission from India to Tibet?”
Not sure what you mean by “bias”. If you’re asking whether it changed much, then I don’t really think so.
“Was guru yoga different in India?”
Not much different, as far as I know.
“And are we now in the west unhappy with that bias and are we in the position to change that in a good and healthy way?”
It can’t really be “changed” without dismantling Vajrayana as we know it. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t or shouldn’t be changed, but traditionalists would fight to keep it from changing. (The suffering of change, and not being able to let go of the past! They don’t realize they are suffering from it themselves, lol!)
“…and what is needed to make that change?”
Forward thinking minds, unattached to the past, who realize that change is inevitable. Who knows if the changes would really improve things in the long run?
Without sources or evidence I do not believe you.
@Jan de Vries,
Besides, what did I say that is so hard to believe?
@Jan de Vries,
I know enough about it to at least give an educated opinion. Providing evidence is a bit overkill, wouldn’t you say?
In any case, what did I say that is offensive or controversial?
What are your sources, share them so that everyone can learn from it.
@Jan de Vries,
What? Am I on trial now? I have to provide sources and evidence before just making a comment? “My two cents” is just an opinion, not gospel.
Catlover, sometimes your comments make broad and sweeping generalizations about topics that are complicated and would require a much deeper understanding of the history of Buddhism than any of us have. I think that is what Jan is referring to.
And in terms of tantra in India, one Indian historian concluded that mis-practice of the Vajrayana was one of several causes for the demise of Buddhism in India. From everything I have studied and observed, it is the mis-practice and corruption of Vajrayana that is the problem, not Vajrayana itself. In the same way, we cannot attribute the misdeeds of what is still a minority of Tibetan Buddhist gurus to the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism itself– because Tibetan Buddhism consists of 100 volumes of Kangyur and 200 volumes of Tengyur, along with the works of the past Tibetan Buddhist masters, most of whom were ethical and highly realized.
There is definitely a problem with Tibetan Buddhism in the West (and in the East). There are definitely cultural practices that have to be reformed– and definitely work ahead– and most Tibetan Buddhist leaders are not yet willing to acknowledge the work ,which is a big problem! I’m not diminishing the extent of the problem and the sufferings that have been caused. But I think you sometimes paint over the situation with one black brush and that’s going too far and doesn’t help anyone, only makes for more dejection in my opinion.
Just for the record.
” and most Tibetan Buddhist leaders are not yet willing to acknowledge the work ,which is a big problem! ”
According to Karmapa Orgyen Trinley, they plan to meet in November 2018 in Dharamsala.
In tibetanreview : “The Karmapa hopes to take part in an important meeting of the heads of the major Tibetan Buddhist traditions at Dharamsala in Nov 2018. ”
I make wishes for the best !
Thanks Julia, gives us something to pray for 🙂
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I clicked on the link and read the article, but it doesn’t say anything about what this important meeting is about.
Hi @Catlover, we will see 🙂. I have absolutely no idea of what will be their discussions, and if they think that what happens in and around some westerners TB communities is enough important to be one of their topics.
But if they don’t discuss about it or plan to do it in an other meeting, when they have an exceptional opportunity to do so, it will be a very negative message to people who care.
But again, we will see what happens !
I’m not holding my breath.
Firstly, thank you Joanne for expressing your thoughts so beautifully- I wish I had that ability and eloquence as often my words fall short. Your posting was needed here.
Secondly, perhaps people can exhort the heads of lineages to bring this issue of abuse in the western communities to the table at the Dharamsala meeting in November. Catlover since you are so vocal here and seem to have a deep interest and concern for the future of dharma in the west and seem very connected, seem to know a lot of lamas and people, perhaps you can actively influence some of these lamas? Rather than sitting back and just posting I think it’s critical people take actual action at this point. It’s sort of like writing your politicians.
I do think one of the major issues at play is you can’t properly transmit buddhism to a following that is groomed to practice lamaism. If the dharma is an afterthought, a way to earn money for a center or ‘society’ (indeed it has been very lucrative for Rigpa and many other groups) and just done as a means to serve the lama, that is not a buddhist organization. In the west there seems to be a problem and subsequent confusion with lamaism being disguised as buddhism. IMO.
I’m nobody important and I have no $$$. You think the lamas would listen to a nobody like me? Not in your life, lol! 😀
“I do think one of the major issues at play is you can’t properly transmit buddhism to a following that is groomed to practice lamaism.”
So you don’t think that Tibetan Buddhism is really Buddhism and you call it Lamaism? (Then why defend it when you think someone like me is being too critical? You seem quite critical too.)
“In the west there seems to be a problem and subsequent confusion with lamaism being disguised as buddhism. IMO.”
It isn’t being “disguised” as Buddhism, (although some Buddhists might say it’s not Buddhism). As far as the lamas are concerned, they are practicing Buddhism and transmitting their tradition to the West. They would never call their tradition “Lamaism” which is often how the Chinese describe it.
My words are being completely and totally misunderstood here. This is where I call on the eloquence of other posters- my words fall short and are being totally twisted.
So Catlover, please reread my words. Buddhism and lamaism are totally different. One is precious and one is a twisted version that serves the lama and ultimately harms the students.
If you need money for a stamp to write the Karmapa and other lamas I will send you money.
Seems you denigrate all of buddhism but for what purpose?
I may have misunderstood the way you’re using the term “Lamaism” so apologies if I misunderstood.
“Lamaism” is what the missionaries called Tibetan Buddhism, and they meant to denigrate ALL of Tibetan Buddhism. Later on, the Chinese adopted the term to denigrate all of Tibetan Buddhism as well. When you use the term, I guess you are just referring to a corrupted version of Tibetan Buddhism. The problem is that if you use the term with your own definition, people may not understand what you mean. The reason they’ll misunderstand is because that’s not necessarily how other people use it. So, I was just pointing that out. Sorry for any misunderstandings.
This post was meant to come after my other post at the bottom. I hate it when my posts are out of order.
“If you need money for a stamp to write the Karmapa and other lamas I will send you money.”
It isn’t that I don’t have postage, lol! But I’m not rich and influential. I am sure no one would listen to me or care what I have to say.
A correction about the alleged state of Lerab Ling’s relationship with the local Tourist Office in Lodeve:
It’s been brought to my attention that in the latest edition of Elle magazine in France, doing a meditation class at Lerab Ling gets a mention as a suggestion for holidays in the Languedoc-Roussillon. This was posted on the Facebook page of the local tourist office, Office de Tourisme Lodévois et Larzac, and Lerab Ling reposted it.
From what Sam Truscott and Dominique Side stated about how press coverage has damaged their relationship with the local Tourist Office, one would assume they are no longer promoted by them, but this is not the case at all. For a start, LL still has a special page on the office’s website, including references to Sogyal Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama:
Furthermore, I see that, so far this year, the office has promoted Lerab Ling on Facebook many times:
Winter visits to the temple – February
Holding a tourist office meeting at LL + Temple visits – March
The Open Day – April and May
Temple visits – June
Classical guitar concert – June
New audio guides for temple visits – August
The regional tourist office also hosts a page for Lerab Ling, complete with promotional video:
This hardly looks like a poisoned relationship, especially given the local tourist office has held a meeting with the regional tourist office at Lerab Ling. If anything, the Office de Tourisme Lodévois et Larzac, has been very open-minded and tolerant, given the gravity of the allegations about what took place at Lerab Ling.
I wasn’t denigrating Buddhism, but you’re calling Tibetan Buddhism Lamaism, which is in itself a denigration. I was simply pointing that out. if you’re using the term “Lamaism” to only refer to corrupted sanghas that revolve around abusive lamas, then you’re using it differently than it is most often used. I am confused because it’s generally used to refer to all of Tibetan Buddhism by outsiders who are denigrating it. So, if you use the term, it sounds like you’re denigrating it yourself.
I see how you were confused now. And I absolutely wasn’t denigrating buddhism so glad to have cleared that up. Let’s move on.
I’ve too much deep care for buddhism and dharma and feel it’s better to actually DO something helpful for others to help the situation. I DO think lamas would listen to voices, no matter a person’s socioeconomic background- if you are sincere and you have obvious investment in the matter since you are all over this blog, then please prove me wrong that they will not listen.
However I find it confusing. In past postings you have denigrated the whole of buddhism and said you are done with buddhism entirely. Is that your general message for others- in hopes that you can convince others that every lama is confused as to right and wrong, including HHDL, that the entire system is corrupt? What is your aim here?
Why do I have to have an aim or an agenda? Do you think I’m a Chinese spy or something, lol? Also, what am I supposed to do to change Tibetan Buddhism? Unlike what you seem to think, I have absolutely ZERO power or clout with any lamas. If I can’t even converse with people on the board here, what makes you think a lama would listen to me? If you think they’ll listen why don’t you write to them yourself? Let me know how it goes.
Oh, and FYI, many people have written to lamas over the years and got ZIP response from them, and even the Dalai Lama did not respond. (Of course, I realize that the DL probably does not even receive his mail directly because he gets way too much. His secretary opens his mail and who knows what they give him to read?) But people have gotten very little response form lamas over the years, including when they wrote about about Sogyal’s abuse and other abusive lamas. People have begged and begged for lamas to do something and nothing was done.
Just thought I’d chip in here – my experience as one who was once a longterm and very close student of a famous mouthy Lama is that of being groomed for sexual use as a young neophyte, promised the world, then abandoned, discarded and lied to by said ‘Lama’ upon trying to bring transparency to a serious issue within the sphere of the Lama-sangha matrix.
Attempts to communicate and work through the issue were met with ghosting, evasion and outright lies by this man.
He says one thing publicly but acts the opposite amongst his ‘victims’…
People may be shocked as he’s a great deceiver – the best , although it seems more and more are waking up to the narcissism, games and deep betrayal going on.
So how many well known Tibetan lamas are left who may be capable of listening and hearing??
this blog does not feel healthy or balanced.
@ catlover I do wonder of your wellbeing as you seem to live here and obsess over scandals.
many of your statements, generalizations, and conclusions make me think you are not well. go be happy! buddhism is not for everyone and there’s a whole big world out there with many paths to happiness. I no longer wish to post.
It seems to me that some people who are ‘True Believers’ aren’t very “well” either and judging by your last post, I wonder about your own state of mind. Saying someone isn’t “well” just because their opinion isn’t in line with yours isn’t very healthy, imo. I wouldn’t say someone has mental issues just because their opinion is different than mine.
In my opinion, the whole tradition seems to be corrupted, and I already explained why I believe this to be so. They may not ALL be guilty of abuse, but they are all guilty of covering up, or supporting those who are abusive, for one reason or another. There is always some lame excuse, and people are always willing to believe and accept the lame excuses. This is a problem that effects ALL of Tibetan Buddhism. Cultural differences and “saving face” notwithstanding, I fail to understand why at least 99% of the lamas don’t have the integrity to stand up against creepy sadists like Trungpa or Sogyal. I also fail to understand why people such as yourself aren’t bothered by this. Nothing is wrong with my mental health. In fact, I never felt saner.
Better ‘Rigpa’ the sangha need a rebranding, to arise like Phoenix (or even Garuda), but not to ‘Marigpa’ that sound like it become 😀
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