The Dalai Lama and the Empowerment of Students

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s recent meeting with some survivors of abuse by Tibetan Buddhist lamas led to some articles emphasising that he had known about abuse in Tibetan Buddhism for decades. This led to a rise in anti-Dalai Lama sentiment, particularly the accusation that he should have done more to stop it. On fact value, that’s a reasonable reaction, but when we understand the reality of HH’s position within the Tibetan cultural and religious system, we see that in actual fact, in terms of Tibetan culture, that he has been very outspoken.

Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, a representative of HHDL in Europe, said during his European tour that the Dalai Lama “has consistently denounced such irresponsible and unethical behaviour”.

At the conference with Western Buddhist Teachers in Dharamsala in 1993, HHDL spoke quite clearly about the need to publically expose lamas who acted unethically. It was due to his responses on the matter then that the 8 close students of Sogyal Lakar wrote the letter exposing his abuses. The importance of HH’s words then cannot be overemphasised. Without them, that letter would never have been written. 

If you accuse the Dalai Lama of not doing more to counter the abuse, you need to understand that he bears the weight of cultural and religious expectations, such as supporting the building of temples, and that he actually has no power over the lamas; even in his own school of Tibetan Buddhism, he can only make suggestions. It is up to the lamas whether or not they pay attention to what he says. And that aside, as this post by Joanne Clark explains, there is more compassion and wisdom in the way he has handled the abuse issue than appears on the surface. 

Thanks Joanne for sharing your perspective.

The importance of empowering abuse survivors

The cause of abuse of all kinds, and particularly sexual abuse, is misuse of power. This fact is widely accepted amongst therapists. When I worked as a counselor for survivors of sexual abuse on a university campus in Massachusetts, we used the “Empowerment Method.” In this method of counseling, power that has been violently taken away from a survivor is given back. We don’t advise any survivor on their course of action. We give them options and information and support them in whatever choices of action they want to take. This—and providing safety—are the two essential tools we used as we sat beside survivors in the hospital or police station or received their calls in the middle of the night.

In this context, if one views the actions the Dalai Lama has taken over decades, they are all focused on empowering survivors and empowering students to prevent abuses. Yes, one could criticize him for not stepping in sooner and speaking out over what he had heard about Sogyal Lakhar’s abuses. However, this might simply have resulted in another big power figure taking charge of an already top-heavy situation—and further disempowered students. Instead, he waited for survivors themselves to make the move—and then spoke out in support of their actions.

Challenging power stuctures in Tibetan Buddhism

In fact, it has been now almost four decades since His Holiness first began challenging certain power structures within the institution of Tibetan Buddhist culture—specifically, the very power structures that have allowed abuses to occur. In a publication on Lamrim dated 1982, he stated clearly and categorically that the practice of seeing the guru as a perfect Buddha is a dangerous practice, particularly for beginners, and that it should not be emphasized. The reaction against these statements from within his own lineage was strong, with people claiming that His Holiness “did not understand Lamrim”.

Then in 1993, the Dalai Lama met with Western teachers to discuss problems within Western Tibetan Buddhism and dramatically added a caveat to an instruction that insured lamas of absolute power—the instruction to never criticize one’s Vajrayana lama. At this conference, he stated clearly and unequivocally that in order to stop harm, students may speak out, even if they are tantrically bound to a teacher. Further, he advised students to make abuses by lamas public, saying that this is the only way to stop them.

Support for speaking out

In the context of Tibetan culture, speaking publicly about someone’s harmful actions is an extreme measure. In the West, it is more commonplace—and the media is set up for it. By suggesting this as an approach towards stemming lama abuses, the Dalai Lama is skillfully navigating cultures and acting dramatically to empower Western students. He is handing Western students a powerful tool.

When the eight ex-Rigpa students wrote their letter of disclosure, they used the Dalai Lama’s instructions from 1993 as support for their actions. The response from most in the Tibetan Buddhist establishment has been either silence or to condemn the eight for this letter. Some have claimed that they are doomed to hell. One has claimed that they are possessed by demons. However, the Dalai Lama has spoken out in support of their actions. He is the only Tibetan Buddhist leader to speak out in support of the eight. (Mingyur Rinpoche’s Lions Roar article did not mention Sogyal by name.)

He is the only Tibetan Buddhist leader to even acknowledge that there is a serious problem of abuse within Western Tibetan Buddhist organizations—and he has spoken about this frequently and consistently in teachings and conferences over decades. All of his comments target the institutional power structures that have allowed abuse to occur and all have empowered survivors. He even spoke once in dramatic ways about toppling old Tibetan feudal systems and compared this situation to the French revolution.

Steps in reformation

In fact, much of his life has been devoted towards democratizing Tibetan culture and reforming institutional structures. He voluntarily relinquished his position as “god-king” of the Tibetan people in 2011, after years of initiating democratic reforms within the government. He has helped establish the Mind and Life Institute, which is devoted to seeking better understanding between contemplative practices and science. The result of this has been to challenge aspects of blind faith within Tibetan Buddhism, such as a belief in Mt. Meru as the center of a flat world and many other erroneous facts of cosmology in the Abhidharma. He has brought science into the monastic curriculum and consistently encouraged students to be ‘21st Century Buddhists” by being better educated and more discerning. Practices that promote blind faith over critical discernment are another means of dis-empowering students in ways that can lead to abuses. This is what he has worked to undermine.

In a text published this year, co-authored by Thubten Chodron, His Holiness writes candidly and realistically about the problems with abusive lamas in the West and in Taiwan. Throughout fifty pages devoted to the topic of reliance on a spiritual master, he suggests possible reforms, identifies specific problems and reiterates his call for Western and Taiwanese students themselves to take action and take their power. At one point, he suggests that the West could initiate a certification program for all who teach in the West.

Here is a quote from that text:

“Because students are new to Buddhism, they may have blind devotion and obedience to spiritual mentors. Hearing about the great merit gained from making offerings to spiritual mentors, they may give them many donations and gifts– things that someone living in India would not have. The teacher becomes spoiled by the gifts and esteem of the students and if he is not careful, this could lead to his taking advantage of well-meaning students.

“I have received many letters from people in other countries asking me to do something about this, but it is not in my control. Tibetan Buddhism is not organized like the Catholic Church with a pope and Vatican administration. I cannot make someone return to India or force him to stop wearing robes. When I teach, I give clear instructions about suitable behavior for teachers, both monastic and lay. If people do not listen to me then, it is doubtful that they will heed instructions from my office or the Department of Religious and Cultural Affairs…” (2018, The Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron, The foundation of Buddhist Practice, p. 119)

“Tibetan Buddhism is not organized like the Catholic Church with a pope and Vatican administration …” This is certainly now being demonstrated in the context of Rigpa’s current position. Rigpa leaders are not interested in hearing anything he has to say! After declaring years ago that His Holiness was one of his “principal teachers,” Sogyal Lakhar, with the full support of Rigpa management, is now acting as if His Holiness has no advice to give and is no part of his or the Rigpa landscape. Rigpa has now changed its mission from “Rime” to “ancient Nyingma.” It’s hard to imagine that if His Holiness had refused to attend the Lerab Ling inauguration ten years ago, that this would have changed anything either. It would have been a good political move perhaps—but not an effective one.

A precarious balance

At the same time in the text quoted above, His Holiness upholds traditional teachings on the preciousness of the student-guru relationship. For those who want to move forward out of abusive relations with a lama and remain within the Dharma itself, his perspective is hugely beneficial and empowering. Abuse within a spiritual domain has a twofold impact, one from the abuse itself and the other from the harm to one’s spiritual path. For many, being able to retain that spiritual path is important and empowering and very healing.

It is probably this precarious balance he is maintaining that causes people to criticize him for not doing more. He is deeply invested in the survival of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. That is clear. He sees the extraordinary, precious features of this tradition, established over centuries by brilliant scholars and realized yogis and is working tirelessly to preserve them. However, right now, the silence from leaders of all four lineages is palpable. It is clear that the Dalai Lama does not have the support of many Tibetan lamas in his advice on ending abuse. It appears that only Mingyur Rinpoche and Tsoknyi Rinpoche openly agree with him on whether students can speak out to stop harm. This also must be factored in, when we judge how His Holiness has chosen to act over the years. He is acutely aware that words from him are not going to move the dial very far in terms of changing lama behavior—while knowing that actions from students themselves have greater power in moving the dial in dramatic ways.

An ally

So I think we want to be careful and not forget that His Holiness is our ally. He wants the abuses to end certainly as much as we do and probably more. And he wants to help us heal. And I think that he has a lot to offer as advisor but not as power figure as we move forward towards safety in Western Dharma Centers. Truly, the ball is in our court now, we can take our power.

Thanks Joane. 

And now a post script from Tahlia.

A clarification of recent comments

A transcript I received of the exchange between reporter Nicole le Fever (NOS) and the Dalai Lama during the Meet & Greet in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam today (15 September 2018) says that HH said, “So, these people, they don’t care about Buddha’s teaching. So, now the only thing is: make public, these things. Then people may be concerned about their shame, their embarassment. So, I told, so yesterday also I mentioned, since many years ago I already mentioned that: ‘Now you make things clear, so very good, I don’t care.'”

The “I don’t care” means that if a lama abuses students and it is publicized, he doesn’t care that the information gets out and makes them look bad. He didn’t mean that he didn’t care about the situation. 

A good article on His Holiness’s position from a Tibetan Perspective is this one from the Tibetan Feminist Collective. http://www.tibetanfeministcollective.org/2018/09/18/dalai-lama-statements-refugee-abuse/

The next step

I have since heard that he is definitely placing abuse on the agenda for his meeting in Dharamsala in November with all the important religious leaders of Tibetan traditions. And in that interview with Nicole le Fever he told us what our next steps should be: “So at that time, you see, they should appeal, I suggested. So, I think the religious leaders, I think, should pay more attention, like that.”

So he feels that that is the time, during this meeting in November, for students to petition the lamas, that there they (the lamas) should pay more attention. I sure hope that someone is arranging to go there and speak to the lamas directly. Anyone? Anyone sending a letter to them all?


Current and previous students of Rigpa can participate in private discussion on this and other abuse-related topics on our What Now? Facebook Group. If you’re interested in joining, please contact us via the contact page and ask for an invite.

People from any Vajrayana sangha can join the Survivors of Vajrayana Abuse and Allies Facebook group for support. Click the link to request to join.

Anyone who has left a Buddhist sangha that had an abusive teacher can join the  Beyond the Temple Facebook Group. The focus in this group is not on the abuse, but on ourselves and our spiritual life as we recover from our experience 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.

 

 

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134 thoughts on “The Dalai Lama and the Empowerment of Students

  1. As Joanne has written above about taking our power and Tahlia asks whether anyone has written a letter, i’m going to re-post what i wrote earlier today, buried in another recent thread, in order to generate some thought and hopefully action on how we can potentially have input into this November meeting:

    ” I’m wondering whether others might be interested in composing a group letter for this meeting of important lamas with the DL in November.

    As i see it, pressing issues are the failure of the majority of teachers to speak out and condemn sexual abuse perpetrated by their fellow Lamas. In particular, the failure of most Nyingma lamas to publicly condemn this behaviour is reprehensible as the conspicuous predators seem to most strongly identify as Nyingmapa (Sogyal, Sakyong).

    Female teachers have also failed to publicly condemn the behaviour, with the exception of Tenzin Palmo & Lama Tsultrim Allione.

    Secondly, surely this eminent gathering of Lamas needs to address the question of why casual sex, which can often lead to abuse, has become a routine indulgence for so many lamas. Young western women are being passed around like plates of mo-mos, to be devoured and then discarded once their allure has faded.

    As Tenzin Palmo told an audience, “it’s your Dharma”. Most of us have practised over many years to the best of our abilities and in spite of numerous obstacles such as financial penury and isolation from our authentic teachers in the East. Haven’t we earned the right to question why Vajrayana has become corrupted? I can’t see much self-reflection from the offenders, including DKR, yet surely self-awareness is a key fruit of meditation and the Bodhisattva path.

    I would be interested to know what other women here regard as the most crucial issues.”

    This meeting presents the opportunity of a captive audience: if we don’t seize this window of opportunity to overtly question and challenge the behaviours that have led to abuse, these learned teachers seem unlikely to engage in discussion that would threaten their colleagues.

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    1. Matilda, it would be good to just have a response from each lineage leadership. I’m not certain that they could come together and form a single response? But to have even just a statement or statements that acknowledges abuse on some level and its harm would be a game changer. To have them break the silence in a real way would be a big step. The silence is a killer imo.

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    2. A letter is vital. I’m hoping to have the Tibetan translation of the letter by the 8 ready to send out before November. Accompanying that would be a request for each lama to make a statement for this blog on their position on the abuse. Once that letter is composed and refined through discussion in the What Now? Fb group, I’ll post it here so you can all let me know if you want your name on the bottom.

      So the group letter is happening, and I’ll be asking HH to read it out at the meeting so that anyone who didn’t get it will hear it and it can be the basis of the discussion. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to use some of what you said above as a starting point for what to say.

      Afterwards, we will publish here (on a page that is easy to find for later reference) any lama responses and will also leave a list of those who did not comment, so everyone will be able to see which lamas to avoid. We can speak with our money, and not go to teachings by lamas who do not categorically make a public statement against lama abuse.

      So watch this space.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Also, Tahlia, I wonder if some reference to the Silkin Report could be added in some way? It seems an important dimension. So lamas know the extent of the crimes in terms of Western legalities etc.

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  2. It is correct to state that HHDL is outspoken “according to Tibetan standards”. It is also correct to state that he is not a Pope/patriarch and has no authority over the movers and shakers in the Tib Budh lineages. This is an informed perspective from within the Buddhist bubble. It is not how the public outside the Buddhist bubble see HHDL. His public persona and the way he is (often erroneously) portrayed in the mainstream media lead most people to believe that he has both influence and power over how Tibetan Buddhism functions worldwide. The truth is that he has lots of influence but only limited power. I have read many of Joanne’s lengthy expositions as a self-appointed champion of HHDL. She articulates a valid point of view, but she also dodges anything that might be construed as criticism. In my opinion HH made a serious error of judgement when he publicly denounced Shugden practice. Her blundered when he refused to sign the manifesto that followed the 1993 western teachers conference.In my opinion stating publicly that he knew about sexual and other abuses by Tibetan lamas since the early 90s was a PR disaster. HH is human. We are in danger of making the same mistake about him as 1,000s of people did about Sogyal — deifying a human being and ignoring human fallibility. But don’t get me wrong — I have deep long term respect for HH. The things he gets right exceed his mistakes by a wide margin.

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    1. @Mary Finnigan

      Mary, I have always been an admirer and strong supporter of your tireless and invaluable work. Just this one time, however, I disagree with an opinion of yours relating to His Holiness the Dalai Lama publicly denouncing the practice of Dolgyal (Shugden).

      His Holiness has stated that, in his influential position with a special concern for the Tibetan people, it is his responsibility to speak out against the damaging consequences of this kind of spirit worship that is known for its fierce sectarianism. If the trend of aggressively propagating this practice went unchecked, innocent people could become seduced by its cult-like practices, and the danger is that the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhism may degenerate into the mere propitiation of spirits. Whether or not his advice is heeded, His Holiness has made clear, is a matter for the individual.

      A huge amount of information relating to Dolgyal, including exactly what His Holiness advises, can be found on his official website: https://www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden

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      1. Re Shugden — the law of unintended consequences. Hundreds of NKT activists demonstrated at locations across the world. They introduced Shugden to untold numbers of people who would otherwise have had no knowledge of an obscure protector deity who has been a focus of schism within the Gelug tradition for a long time. Shugden is also anathema to The Nyingmas — so you are right about the sectarian element. The late Trijang Rinpoche (junior tutor to HHDL), Lamas Thubten Yeshe and Zopa Rinpoche (founders of the FPMT) were Shugden practitioners. So too are large numbers of ethnic Tibetans to this day. Several friends of mine suffered acute conflict of loyalty when the ban was announced because they revere HHDL but were also students of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso when Conishead Priory was an FPMT centre. Personally I have maintained strict neutrality on this issue, while all around me have been getting hot under the collar about it! I think it is a bad idea to be affected by the propaganda around Shugden. Its not relevant for westerners to take sides in Tibetan religious politics.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Mary, you say “I think it is a bad idea to be affected by the propaganda around Shugden. Its not relevant for westerners to take sides in Tibetan religious politics.”

          I think survivors of the NKT cult would disagree with you. Surely, you of all people would not want to turn your back on survivors?

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        2. Mary your information is out of date. Lama Zopa has written extensively about how via investigation he came to understand HHDL’s decision to speak out about the practice:
          https://www.lamayeshe.com/advice/dorje-shugden
          People who want to understand the broader political and social implications of the issue could read these press articles.
          https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama/
          https://www.google.com/amp/s/foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/13/buddhists_hate_dalai_lama_china/amp/
          Generally, however one could say perhaps it is adviseable not to get too shall we say immersed in this issue. As, shall we say, the propenents will make any dialogue about it as unpleasant as possible to shut it down.
          The issue has cooled recently and one could, shall we say, recognize the benefit of this.for both parties so I agree with you Mary that best to leave it be. Hence, my last comment.

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        3. @Mary Can we please keep the Shugden issue out of this thread, as it’s not actually relevant to the blog post. How we can take the power HH has handed to us and use it is what I’d like to see discussed here.

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        4. I’ll come to NKT survivor issues in a moment. As always, anything NKT is complicated by the Shugden issue but it’s not the whole story by any means. We need to reveal our ‘survivor’ issues from behind that wall of shouting. I think the protests themselves show exactly why HHDL needed to flag up Shugden practice as problematic for his own students. These weren’t ‘normal’ protests and show what Shugden does to people, what problems ‘Shugden’ creates and what the NKT world does to people.

          Note: HHDL’s not limited the religious freedom of any person – Tibetan or otherwise – and to prove this it can be noted that he supported the establishment of Shugden monasteries within the Tibetan settlements in India, with monastic resources. That’s not a ban.

          Whenever the protests are mentioned most people are astounded at the harsh ridicule and defamations the protesters use, which is why the NKT rename themselves to do this. The NKT lost hundreds of followers due to the protests, both long term and new students who found themselves pushed into a behaviour that they would not normally condone in themselves. It also repelled many who might have been attracted to their easy access ‘Modern Buddhism’. Numbers in the NKT always go down when they protest. In fact, if His Holiness hadn’t cancelled his US tour in 2015 I think that the NKT might have gone into such excess in their protesting that certain boundaries might have been crossed. It’s taken a while for NKT followers to calm down from such an ‘entertaining’ international lifestyle and the NKT were forced to make a public separation with the Tibetan Shugdenpas afterwards as some senior NKT teachers even started to follow Trijang Rinpoche’s reincarnation through their acquaintance with Tibetans at the protests!

          Unfortunately these issues have shrouded the NKT ‘survivor’ issue and no one who has suffered the sexual abuse within the organisation has been confident enough to come forwards publicly as yet. There is extensive abuse on deep psychological, emotional, spiritual and financial levels. We talked personally with HHDL about these in 2014. He gave us full support and wanted to extend our conversations in the future (which we have unfortunately been unable to do). It was clear that he could give us very helpful explanations about the Dharma and how this was warped by the NKT and personal advice on how to recover but not advice on the praticalities of dealing with the NKT’s deceptive expansion in the UK. I think it’s good to understand where and how HHDL is most effective in helping. I hope we can support and connect to these new initiatives in some way that is useful to all survivors. Abuse in Tibetan Buddhist centres in the West goes beyond the sexual abuse of the teachers.

          The NKT and its teachers often behave in legal but unethical ways. Like the protests – right on the edge. And their harassment of survivors is usually anonymous and often connected to other Shugden groups. It’s quite a different picture from the sexual abuses presented to HHDL recently. Hopefully there will be bridges at some point. The recovery process is similar, and heart wrenching. [Carol]

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    2. Mary, I don’t think this article is really about the Dalai Lama at all. It’s about us, about the West taking charge of how Dharma moves forward in the West. The Silkin report was a powerful start. We have the tools, the legal systems and free medias. The Dalai Lama has just pointed them out and adjusted the Dharma to accommodate them. If you look at the history of Buddhism, as it moved to different countries and cultures, it necessarily took on the features of those countries and cultures.

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  3. Mary, Shugden is an extremely toxic practice. I am very relieved that he denounced it, as i would imagine, are all Guru Rinpoche devotees.

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    1. matilda7 – I do agree with you. There is and should be a place for different aspects of Tibetan Buddhism – but the Shugden practice is not one of them. And I do think – although accepting that HH is human and not a deity – that his preparedness to be so outspoken regarding the cult of spirit shows just how dangerous he felt it was.

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  4. @Joanne
    Thank you for that very enlightening article and sharing your knowledge and professional expertise. It made me understand and appreciate the Dalai Lama’s wisdom, far reaching and visionary approach and the deep trust he has in our evolutionary potential, the importance of which at the time almost nobody really understood, me included!

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  5. I think Chogyam Trungpa has a lot to answer for with all this stuff that has happened with the lamas. He was seen as a Tibetan form of Elivs Presley, he was charming and had great one-liners, he had fame, power, and women (and men) throwing themselves at him. He also drank himself to death, forced his students to engage in humiliating and sexual acts, had armed guards who intimidated and controlled his students, tortured animals, he rode around on a white horse in military costume and wanted to print his own money, and he got away with it all under the guise of crazy wisdom. Many lamas including SR have been quoted as saying they wanted to emulate his style. You don’t hear too many lamas saying they want to emulate the Dalai Lama because there aren’t the same perks of the sex drugs and rock n roll lifestyle when you’re a simple monk just trying to be a good and kind person! I once thought like DKR and Pema Chodron and considered Trungpa as some sort of genuine crazy wisdom master. But I have heard the same horror stories about Trungpas abusive behaviour and the traumatic impact it had on his students that I can only conclude now that Trungpa was just plain crazy.

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  6. The Dalai Lama has effectively destroyed the Gelugpa tradition by enforcing his superstitious view of Dorje Shugden through his power and charisma. He was instrumental in introducing a ban on the practice based only on his opinion and monks were expelled from their monasteries on his say so. He has destroyed the spiritual lives of millions by forcing them to break their spiritual commitments to their Gurus who gave them the practice so please don’t say the Dalai Lama doesn’t have any power. His followers regard him as a living Buddha and obey everything he says. He knew about this abuse and did nothing but as his persecution of Shugden followers shows, he can get things done and it’s nonsense to say otherwise.

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      1. @Marge

        I think you missed my point. My main point is that the Dalai Lama does have to power to do something about these abuses in Tibetan Buddhism because he has the power to ban things he doesn’t agree with and everyone listens to him, so to claim that he’s the head of Tibetan Buddhism but doesn’t have to power to do anything about the abuses (even though he’s known about them for a decade or more) is simply being an apologist for the Dalai Lama. It’s like claiming that the Minister of Health of a particular country isn’t responsible for the poor health care there – ridiculous!

        I agree with Mary Finnigan – if you start treating someone like a god and disengage your rationality, problems are going to happen.

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        1. @Suggs – who is an NKT member

          Firstly, you evidently did not bother to read or use your critical thinking regarding the content of His Holiness’ website that I posted a link to.

          Secondly, you are talking rubbish about something else now. His Holiness the Dalai Lama does not have the power or authority to do anything that you say. You evidently lack the understanding of Tibetan culture, and of His Holiness’ spiritual and temporal position, and of the workings within the major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

          Please read up and do your research and THINK before you make such statements about His Holiness.

          To quote Venerable Matthieu Ricard; regarding this subject that you had raised:

          “The Buddhist community is not organized in a hierarchical manner as, for example, in the Catholic Church, where priests must account for their behavior to the bishops, cardinals and eventually, at the top of the pyramid, to the Pope himself. Buddhist schools, as these have emerged in different countries are institutionally completely independent of each other. And even within the fold of Tibetan Buddhism, the patriarchs of the four principal schools—while being respected as spiritual authorities—do not intervene in the administration of the monasteries, which function as autonomous entities.

          Among Tibetan masters, H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama is clearly the object of unanimous respect. The teachings and advice that he gives may well be the source of profound inspiration but they are never regarded as commands. No authoritative body goes to check whether a given monastery actually implements his advice. In any case, there exist nowadays thousands of Buddhist centers throughout the world and they are all independent of each other. Only the people who live in such centers, or frequent them on a regular basis, are in a position to say when behavior contrary to Buddhist principles occurs.”

          Please read the whole of this article to understand more, which can be found on Matthieu’s site: http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/blog/posts/a-point-of-view–2

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          1. @marge

            If the Dalai Lama has no authority, how did he ban Shugden practice? Please use your critical faculties instead of simply believing everything the Dalai Lama says because he’s the Dalai Lama and beyond reproach. I have seen videos of the Dalai Lama demanding that people take action and they do. If he had no authority, why do people do as he says?

            If the Dalai Lama is not the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, what is his role?

            He has the authority to stop this abuse, but he didn’t.

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            1. @Suggs – who is an NKT member

              The more you write, the deeper you dig yourself into a hole.

              You haven’t a clue of what His Holiness has or hasn’t done.

              You also haven’t a clue about His Holiness’ complex mix of his temporal and spiritual position in Tibet and in exile.

              You also haven’t a clue about how he has always “tactfully” spoken out about things that cause harm, and how he has brilliantly empowered all individuals to stand up themselves and speak out to the world – which is now happening to great effect, that will go down in history books.

              Try and do yourself a favour and bin your rubbish propaganda. No wonder that your little minority has such a bad reputation for having no critical thinking. If you did, you would feel embarrassed of how you’ve made yourself look.

              I will not reply any more to you. You waste time and hinder progress.

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    1. This is a silly accusation. Shugden is not the measure of whether Gelug Buddhism survives or not. It survived for hundreds of years as the most practiced school before Shugden was popularized. Je Tsongkhapa also never mentioned Shugden which he would’ve if it were essential to his tradition. There is not a single line in his connected works where he does.

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    2. The Shugden issue is not relevant to the blog post. How we can take the power HH has handed to us and use it in our desire to rid TB of abuse is what I’d like to see discussed here. I will delete any further comments on Shugden.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Has a moderator you’ve got things to do! There is some more intervention on this topic and a Sangye ( Buddha himself?) called ‘stupid’ Jan for his post. Good luck!

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    3. @suggs Your views have no logic and are factually incorrect.

      All, just ignore cult propaganda and let them know we use intelligence here.

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  7. I actually remember seeing a documentary a few years back where Ani Tenzin Palmo asked the Dalai Lama if it was true that one could not attain enlightenment in a woman’s body and he said yes. Oh well it just goes to show that no one is perfect and we shouldn’t look to anyone as being completely without flaws or imperfections.

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    1. Troy that’s silly. I am certain you would be unable to find such a statement if you looked back in that documentary….

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    2. @Troy

      Having attended numerous teachings spanning decades I have heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama explicity state a number of times the opposite of what you say.

      I would very much like to see evidence of this footage that you claim exists, so please present a link.

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      1. Here is the link. The relevant section is from about 34 mins onwards. I correct myself that the DL doesn’t specifically state that women can’t become enlightened but clearly Tenzin Palmo is disappointed in the DL’s attitude and lack of action in promoting equal rights and recognition of women in the Buddhist/monastic community. https://youtu.be/-Y57hlgn85o

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        1. @Troy

          Not only that you have been caught red-handed making a slanderous and grossly misleading statement, you now have the audacity to imply some other rubbish.

          There was nothing on that video to suggest that His Holiness the Dalai Lama said anything that was in conflict with Tenzin Palmo’s agenda.

          I have known Tenzin for years, and I know all about her excellent work in helping to re-establish the full bhikshuni ordination. For you to suggest that His Holiness is at fault in any way is absurd. To suggest that he alone can snap his fingers and automatically fix that ancient break in the chain of full bhikshuni ordination is entirely overlooking the complexities of the situation.

          His Holiness desperately wants what Tenzin wants, as he has explicitly stated many times over and over again throughout the years. But it takes a massive collaboration of many individuals, not just His Holiness, to bring it to fruition. Denying this fact is like a somebody waving the gender equality flag while not fully understanding the complexities of the situation, and particularly not understanding the importance of the profound blessings of an “unbroken” lineage of full bhikshuni ordination going all of the way back to Shakyamuni Buddha himself. I wave that flag, but I will not refute those facts.

          Troy, for the sake of progress, please stop posting your incorrect statements, otherwise it will seem that you have infiltrated this blog to deliberately mislead the public about His Holiness in order to support some hidden agenda of yours.

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            1. @Troy

              Is that all you have to say: “Ok point taken. That’s just how I interpreted the clip.”

              Are you really being serious?! Are you honestly that stupid?!

              And then you post a link to an article of a tabloid about when His Holiness made an innocent joke in the context of his audience. What on earth are you trying to do now… take it out of context?!

              You really do have a moronic agenda, don’t you.

              Please do us all a favour and stop wasting our time.

              Like

  8. If the Dalai Lama known about abuse in Tibetan Buddhism for decades (since 1993) why did he conducts the inauguration of the Lerab Ling temple in the presence of 3,000 people, in 2008 with Sogyal Rinpoche???

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    1. @ Marjo

      Oops, you’ve asked that really difficult and embarrassing question again.

      By the way: ‘Known’ means getting a 12-page letter detailing the abuse in 1993, two separate conferences and in fact he went to Lerab Ling twice and wrote the foreword to Sogyal’s book too, just in case you don’t know.

      Let’s see if anyone attempts a convincing answer to this.

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      1. @Lauren these are good (awkward) questions.

        The foreword to TBLD was written by HHDL on June 2nd, 1992.

        A ten page letter detailing abuses by Sogyal was written to HHDL on October 13th, 1992.
        HHDL says he became aware of abuse testimonies in 1993.

        I have heard that the only reason he consecrated the temple at LL is because one of his teachers asked him to.

        This doesn’t explain why there was no follow up on the issues, or other teachings organized by Rigpa that featured HHDL.

        I guess we all have to decide for ourselves what we can and cannot forgive here.

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        1. Just to be clear – HHDL has obviously spoke out against abuse many times, and when I say “no follow up”, I meant specifically about Sogyal and his behavior.

          Personally I think it is too much to expect him to have been head of both a country and religion in exile, and also be the police of abuse. He said what needs to be done; it’s up to us to do it.

          Like

        2. @ RH

          Sorry I missed your reply from several days back on the 26th. You seem very well informed. Thanks.

          Like

    2. @marjo and @Lauren, when people question why the Dalai Lama chose to visit Lerab Ling for that inauguration, it is understandable that there will be those who agree and those who disagree with his decision. This happens to leaders– and we can never go back and do a re-run to find out if the other decision might have been better. So I try to look at all the possibilities and decide from there. At the same time, I like to remember that this is 2018, not 2008, and it’s time to focus on the here and now. Time to stop the recriminations from ten years ago.

      In 2011-2012, I spent a lot of time on blogs trying to open up the minds of Rigpa students to the possibility of Sogyal’s abuses. Believe me, this was not easy at all. The discussions went round and round. There seemed to be very few Rigpa students who were open to the allegations being made in Behind the Thangkhas or the Canadian Documentary. So I can’t imagine what kind of reaction might have been the result of His Holiness boycotting the inauguration and speaking out against Sogyal.

      And certainly, as we are seeing now, there would have been no support at all from any other lama and His Holiness would have simply disappeared from the Rigpa landscape as he has today.

      Yes, there were letters to His Holiness– but he has been receiving letters about abuses from different parts of the world, for decades. I was in a Kagyu monastery where there was lying and money issues and then sexual abuses by Lama Norhla just across the river. The things I saw there and in other places were clear red flags. Where would it have ended if His Holiness had taken on himself the role of accuser?

      So instead, in true Buddhist fashion, His Holiness has chosen to give Westerners the tools to address these problems themselves. This is what the Buddha did. He didn’t run around fixing things for us, he gave us the tools. His Holiness has chosen to support students who expose the abuse and empower students to take command of their own lives and Dharma centers. Only the West can shape how the Dharma moves forward into the future.

      So this is how I see his decision, why I believe it was the correct decision. And there is also the other aspect, which is that it is an infraction of the Bodhisattva vow to refuse an invitation. So he would not refuse the invitation unless he was certain that going would harm more than it would help. From what I see of His Holiness, he does seem to evaluate situations in that way.

      So this is how I view his decision– but that doesn’t mean it was absolutely the right decision. That is something we will never know for sure and people will have different opinions and that is fine. And we also will never be certain about his motivation. Those of us who have learned to trust him because his approach to life and the Dharma is sound and has benefitted many will likely conclude that his motivation to help is sincere. Those who feel otherwise will reach a different conclusion. But we will not ever know for sure– and the job ahead of us is about 2018 and not about 2008.

      Like

  9. Remarkable:

    2018: The planet is burning up, battered by extreme weather and mass extinction, constant warfare, ecological, societal and economic collapse threatens and here are various groups and the Dalai lama himself, disagreeing (violently in some cases) about whether or not to perform complex rituals, chant prayers to and visualize a non-existent being who they believe (or don’t) is…….an evil spirit.

    Wow.

    The proverbial (and in some cases actually) bald men fighting over an entirely imaginary comb.

    ‘Science of the mind’ eh?

    Like

  10. Just to say you can read much of that book online here including the quoted passage, well worth a read. Thanks for sharing it. I found the google book with a google search for the quote in quotation marks.

    Amongst other things he also talks about how someone who could never be in a position to give teachings or initiations in Tibetan community can sometimes become a “great lama” in the West and how that can be admirable if they remain humble and didn’t have the opportunities to show their great qualities in Tibetan society but sad if someone is merely taking advantage of the opportunity to promote themselves in a new place. And about how education is needed on both sides to do something about the situation and suggesting that measures are put in place to do that by the great monasteries and that teachers traveling to the West prepare themselves for it. And increasing awareness in the West and teaching people to evaluate their teachers and not to rely on blind faith. Which he can only suggest not order as he is not in the position of a pope.

    That paraphrase is just to encourage you to read it, if anyone here is like me and hasn’t before, There is a lot more there.

    The Foundation of Buddhist Practice
    By Thubten Chodron, Dalai Lama
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=poZEDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT103

    Liked by 1 person

  11. If the Dalai Lama knew…why did he took so much time to say – in 2017 ! – that Sogyal Rinpoche was disgraced and at the same time present him as: ; “my very good friend,” ??
    Can a pervert be his very good friend??

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    1. I think by saying ‘he my very good friend’ he was indicating that he knew him well, then “but he disgraced” was indicating that nevertheless he was a discgrace. The two seem contradictory, but just as others can see both the good and the bad in Sogyal, so too can the DL.

      The Buddhist way is to consider everyone your friend and to have compassion for all, the perpetrator and the victim. Tsoknyi Rinpoche also said that though he agreed with Mingyur Rinpoche that the abuse was not acceptable, Soygyal was his friend. I guess it’s like a family member, an uncle perhaps, who you were good friends with and then you discovered that he beat your aunt and cousins. He’s still your uncle, you still get on well, but perhaps rather than having nothing more to do with him, you talk to him about it and try to get him to get help. Turning away doesn’t actually help the situation.

      I have heard that some of the other lamas had talked to him about his behaviour, including Dudjom Rinpoche way back in the 70s, but he didn’t listen. The problem was that the students now running Rigpa allowed his behaviour to continue and worsen. They didn’t stop it, even after HH made it clear that it was up to us to expose the behaviour. It took us 15 years to actually do that, and it was 8 voices together that had the power to shake it up sufficiently for the truth to come out.

      So instead of looking to him to fix this, instead of complaining about what he hasn’t done and what he did that we don’t understand, we need to come together and make it quite clear that we will expose every lama with questionable morals and we will make sure that students avoid those lamas. That’s the way we will rid TB of abuse, not by expecting HHDL to do it for us.

      He is only one voice; he needs us to add our voices to his, not to turn him into an enemy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Dutch judiciary has confirmed to reporters Anna Mees and Bas de Vries (NOS) that it received an international legal assistance request from the French judiciary, to interview Dutch witnesses and/or survivors: https://nos.nl/artikel/2250237-onderzoeker-over-boeddhist-sogyal-rinpoche-misbruikte-leerlingen-ernstig.html

        I know for a fact that at least one person has been questioned by the Dutch police.

        Uncorroborated reports suggest that a similar request was made to the German judiciary. Further reports, as of yet uncorroborated, suggest that Lérab Ling was recently raided by the French police. The status of the (preliminary) inquiry by the French judiciary remains undetermined, for all I know. But: international legal assistance requests are not made on a whim.

        Like

    1. Is this a real question or are you trying to say something else here? If you were in Rigpa you would know that would be impossible. Only Sogyal could change Sogyal or Rigpa. Perhaps that’s your point for the DL too.

      Many people did try to change Rigpa over the years and when nothing came of their efforts they left.

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  12. @Sangye
    Perhaps I missed something, but in which country has SL or Rigpa been legally charged.
    In France Ingotnthe impression it is still,at the police level of ivestigation.
    So If you can provide full information, sites, news papers I like to see it.

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  13. During his meeting with the four survivors in Rotterdam on 14 September 2018, the Dalai Lama invited them to write an appeal which he would help submit to the religious heads of all Tibetan schools and traditions in November 2018.

    These four are members of the group of twelve survivors who succesfully took the initiative to petition the Dalai Lama with four specific requests (https://www.change.org/p/help-survivors-support-the-dalai-lama-s-effort-to-remedy-sexual-abuse).

    Until now, this petition—notice that the title runs as ‘#MeTooGuru – Support the Dalai Lama’s effort to remedy sexual abuse’—was signed by more than 2,100 people world wide. The Dalai Lama, in turn, has granted each of the four requests made, the first of which was that he would accept in person a booklet with survivors’ testimonies penned for his eyes only.

    I’m the liaison for this group. We’re currently determining what such an appeal should look like, and we’ll engage in drafting one shortly.

    While anyone is welcome to write a letter about sexual abuse by Tibetan Buddhists teachers to the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, only the original group can honour the Dalai Lama’s personal request to the four survivors in Rotterdam, of course. In doing so, naturally, the members of this group shall speak on their own behalf and that of those who signed their petition.

    Like

    1. @Rob, There’s no problem there that I can see. More than one letter, more than one approach, all are fine. The problem is big and complex and there will be different needs to suit different approaches. I don’t think the Dalai Lama has two mailboxes.

      The specific approach outlined in Moonfire’s comment above would address a very immediate and direct need– that of students needing to know where they can have some assurance of safety if they want to move on from an abusive situation and study with a different teacher. As she explained, having a “data base” of teachers who are prepared to speak out clearly against abuse and those who are not– and making that clearly public and visible to all– would put great power into the hands of each and every Western student towards the goal of ending abuse.

      Rigpa for years excused Sogyal’s behaviors by saying that “he is not a monk.” But they weren’t transparent— Many of us would have paused before entering Rigpa centers if there had been a sign posted saying that multiple sexual relations between teacher and student was viewed as acceptable here.

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      1. It’s odd to see how quick some are to jump on the bandwagon without even taking the trouble of asking the initiators whose request was granted by the Dalai Lama about their plans.

        After all, the “they” the Dalai Lama referred to during his press conference (“So at that time, you see, they should appeal, I suggested. So, I think the religious leaders, I think, should pay more attention, like that.”) are the four representatives of the group of survivors who he had met the day before. The Dalai Lama did in fact ask these four to do just that, in person.

        Some of the ideas proposed here seem ill-considered—and therefore counterproductive—to me. As I mentioned before, anyone is free write a letter about abuses to the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In fact, the past decades many people did. Anything can be asked. The hard part is to be effective at asking, though.

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        1. @R.Hogendoorn
          This post is only counterproductive and not respectfull to the ones who took their lives.
          In the petition nothing is mentioned about futher plans. So are you talking about your own plans or the plans of the group you say to be their liason.

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  14. HHDL is always so down to earth, so practical. I do trust him a lot. He empowers us students by reassuring us that we can act, that we have power, the power that we in the West have fought for over many years, centuries – the power of free speech, the power of equal rights for all – men, women, disabled, etc etc. Imho this is the best antidote to the feudal and sometimes abusive practices that creep in along with the fabulous dharma currently taking root here in our modern Western countries. In the long run I want to have the power to do something about it myself, to feel okay about speaking out if I was abused (though personally I have had the good fortune to not suffer from that myself), and to not be silenced by some ancient gagging text. He made a stand with his opinion and advice about that text – he took an ‘executive decision’, if you like, if you translate it into modern terminology.! By telling us all that he feels we can ‘out’ all guru abusers if they won’t see sense, he really talks so much sense.. But if he was made into some sort of pope, that adds layers of hierarchy and becomes a ‘system’ that like all systems will have holes. It is really unappealing to me. I am so grateful for his clear mind, and for his advice to me/us that if anything he says is useful to us, that’s great, but if it’s not useful or doesn’t make sense, to ignore his suggestions/teaching. I SOOOOOOOO much appreciate this immense common sense. And I am delighted that I can just appreciate, and be grateful for the right word said at just the right time, without him expecting that I start showing some ‘devotion’ and bowing and scraping. Thank goodness he’s not like that. Thank goodness. So I can take him seriously even after my previous struggles with trying to grow a devotion (to a different teacher) which did not feel natural to me even though I tried, I really did. With the Dalai Lama’s teachings and his general life advice I can just relax, be myself, and trust myself at last. Thank you, your Holiness. (And I say ‘your Holiness’ because it’s his title, and I feel fine and relaxed about it – he makes it into ‘no big deal’ for me, by not playing the high and mighty guru role. So I can just say it and not make a fuss about a random religious title. It doesn’t matter that much to me.) It’s funny in a way that he is so very often seen as being the highest of the high, but for me it’s that very same quality of independent wisdom that he has that makes me feel so relaxed about him..! And I feel he is genuine about wanting us all to be happy and safe and to grow the way we want to. I just do love him to bits, really, for all those things. Lovely man.

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  15. @KDD

    It is conventionally true that water is wet, and fire is hot. No ego involved there when agreeing with that.

    Likewise, Sogyal committed sex abuse, and Dzongsar defended him. No ego involved there either when agreeing with that.

    Facts are facts.

    Like

    1. Fact is that Dzongsar Khyentse called Sogyal “not qualified as a vajrayana teacher” in one of the videos that are on his channel. By far the harshest thing I have ever heard one lama say about another, it’s really harsh criticism. With that comment he rebuked the whole “crazy wisdom” defence that Rigpa uses to justify SR’s erratic behaviour.
      As it is said in the teachings, if you are not a mahasiddha, trying to act like one is a grave mistake and Dzongsar accuses Sogyal of having done just that.

      Like

      1. @thewindhorse

        So now that the shit has well and truly hit the fan, Sogyal is on the run, and the cult of Rigpa has gone down like a sunken ship, Dzongsar’s PR team finally find that it now might be best for him to say that.

        I haven’t seen any evidence of this footage that you say exists, but even if it does, as if that would automatically erase everything that he has said over the past year in defense of Sogyal’s sex abuse.

        Don’t be so naive!

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        1. Yeah, you can edit almost anything to sound like almost anything. You just pick the sentences and pull them out of context. I have listened to all 9 full videos. Twice.

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          1. So do tell us at what point, in which session, does DKR call out Sogyal’s abuse of his students? The rest of us must have blinked & missed it.

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            1. That was in one of the later ones, possibly the last of the batch. In all those videos he was responding to questions by the audience and the full extent of what has been going on and the confusion it left in people got more and more clear for him in the succession of the sessions. He himself said so, he at one point declared that at the beginning he was quite ignorant of the misconceptions western the Rigpa students have about the vajrayana teachings. Plus, this was teaching sessions to clarify misconceptions people in Rigpa had about varjayana, it was never meant to be about the organisation itself.

              You can see a progression in his attitude if you binge watch them back to back, as I did over several days.
              I listened to them half a year ago, so I can not give you definitive explanation of what you can find at what time stamp in which video. I do not plan to re-listen to them right now to make notes of this kind.

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    1. @KDD

      The conventional truth is that Sogyal sexually abused, Dzongsar defended him, and people suffered.

      There is no ego involved when acknowledging the conventional truth.

      If you start to deny the conventional truth you will slip into the crazy and dangerous view of nihilism.

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  16. Double QED
    You are assume you know my axiom and cherry-pickled judgment, as we all do, und so the stories continue in delusory sems:-D

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    1. @KDD

      How you worded your English in your initial post on this message thread (which is supposed to be for messages that are pertinent to the topic discussed) we presumed that you had alluded to the denial of the conventional truth – a gateway into the crazy and dangerous view of nihilism !

      If you would like to study more about the two truths, conventional and ultimate (two aspects of the same reality – how things appear, and how they exist), I can highly recommmend this in-depth article: https://studybuddhism.com/en/advanced-studies/abhidharma-tenet-systems/the-indian-tenet-systems/the-four-buddhist-tenet-systems-regarding-the-two-truths

      Like

      1. What making you think I have not studies them twin truths already?
        As you may recount nothing animate or inanimate are:
        Permanent,
        Singular &
        Independent
        (or Important was added later by SR).
        Before you judge or preaching to someone pleases make sure first you are perfect.
        (Jesus said and same in Kunzan Lama Shelung).

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    2. @KDD

      You’re obviously not aware of this, but by making what you think is a clever observation, ( your ‘axiom’ ) you’ve unwittingly fallen into a common logical trap of your own making:

      Because if as you imply, your assertion is true for all factual statements then the initial factual statement that you made must also be “cherry-picked” ( or indeed “cherry-pickled” as you say) data to suit your confirmation bias and coming from your ego.

      To put it simply: your statement which sets a rule cannot be exempt from itself……and by the way, if you say it can be, then you’ll just be falling into yet another logical trap, which is called ‘The axiom of contradiction’.

      In terms of logic you’ve trapped yourself by a self-defeating ( and therefore meaningless ) statement which cancels itself out. A complete logical dead-end.

      So it’s probably not such a good idea to try to sound intellectually superior to everyone else before familiarizing yourself with at least the basics of logic.

      Of course, you might believe you’ve transcended the need for logic and consider mere facts to be delusory. In which case I apologize, but just to be sure, as a way of checking this, may I suggest not removing your trousers next time you use the toilet.

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  17. There’s a thin veil of reason & logic we all have as Homo-sapiens, even the transient intellectual superior, when our ego is threatened, which then breaks down into Insult, Ad-Homs und eventually violence to get its own way. QED

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        1. @ Rose

          GBR: usually it’s ‘Garbled beyond Recovery’ but I think your version is more applicable in this case because it’s a little bit more than just a translation problem, if you see what I mean. But to be fair, it’s brave to comment in another language.

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  18. @kdd please go and read the works of the biologist frans de waal about copmassion and all of his published works, and keep your nonses for youself

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  19. Although I don’t share some people’s view of the Dalai Lama, I understand what he represents for many Western students of Tibetan Buddhism who are reeling from a series of shocks and value a kind of reference point that they feel they need at the moment.

    These specific arguments are now familiar to all of us and trying to convince one way or another doesn’t seem very productive.

    So I’ll just limit myself to pointing out that even if do you accept that his power is limited and it’s not his function to police or even criticize, it’s still undeniable that by inaugurating Lerab Ling the Dalai Lama went far beyond any diplomatic neutrality and actively and knowingly gave Sogyal and Rigpa the biggest and most effective endorsement they could have hoped for, they benefited enormously. That much is unarguable.

    Given his ample knowledge well before that time, we have a right to ask: Why and what for? and how many of Sogyal’s victims were drawn in just because of the Dalai Lama’s seal of approval? And what good did his visit actually do in the long term to offset that?

    To my mind no-one has been able to suggest any even vaguely convincing answers to these questions so far. So for me the wider implications remain and the danger of just “moving on” is that the signs of an even deeper problem are still being swept under the carpet and ignored.

    Because I think there is a much bigger problem that isn’t being addressed here, and it goes far beyond the judgment of one man or whether we really believe he’s “empowered us” or given us “tools” to deal with abuse.

    I must emphasize that I don’t intend this as criticism, but I’m very surprised by the total absence of the most important element here which isn’t being mentioned at all:

    It’s well understood that abusers have often been victims of abuse themselves, and without understanding the causes and identifying abuse in all it’s forms, the chain of abuse can’t be broken.

    The Monastic and Tulku systems that are the foundations of Tibetan Buddhism involve depriving very young and mostly male children of all maternal affection by brutally separating them from their mothers at a crucial formative stage and putting them into the care of celibate adult men, often for the rest of their lives.

    This is a shockingly backward, violent and psychologically destructive process. Even several Tulkus have described their experiences of abuse, so it’s safe to assume that ordinary children who become monks suffer in the same way and that the abuse is endemic. The consequences of our having blithely ignored this cruel and inhuman aspect of Tibetan Buddhism have become very evident in the West now.

    Our modern society is increasingly coming to experience and reluctantly being forced to confront the results of a psychologically unsophisticated, archaic religious and cultural system that acts as a kind of production line for deeply traumatized and dysfunctional individuals whose elevated status often gives them every opportunity to re-enact the abuse they experienced as children.

    To expect this problem to be amenable to any solution that fails to address this obvious but largely ignored root cause is simply unrealistic. Our Justice system can only be applied to the symptoms rather than the causes and then long after abuse has already taken place and even this is a daunting prospect for the victims, a difficult process with uncertain results.

    Even the widespread information available and all this discussion we’re having doesn’t talk about this and it also doesn’t seem guaranteed to prevent upcoming generations from falling victim to abuse either, it certainly didn’t prevent it in Sogyal’s case.

    It’s not a pleasant comparison but In the same way as treating the symptoms can’t eradicate an infectious disease unless the reservoir of infection is clearly identified, isolated and removed, information and
    education certainly help but on their own they aren’t enough.

    I’ve no doubt the Dalai Lama and everyone involved in the forthcoming meetings will do their best, but can we really expect a group of priviledged Tibetan Lamas to even think about or discuss dismantling their own Monastic and Tulku system with it’s inherent psychological abuse, violence and child-rape or reforming it by only allowing voluntary entry into monasteries after the age of informed consent has been reached?

    They know that given the choice, no small child would ever choose to be separated from it’s mother, the monasteries would empty rapidly and Tibetan Buddhism as it stands would collapse within a generation and with it their power, income and way of life.

    After all, how many of us in the West where the social and economic system is vastly more evolved, would even think of putting our children into this kind of institution, and how many among us genuinely think celibacy and monasticism is an attractive way of life? Very few in fact.

    Why are we still comfortable ignoring child abuse just because it happens in the religion we follow and takes place in a distant country rather than on our doorstep? Terrible though the abuse of Western students is, at least we joined voluntarily as adults and were relatively free to leave, because our indoctrination and abuse didn’t start as toddlers. It’s even more barbaric and even more shocking, so why aren’t we appalled and why aren’t we talking about it?

    And when we do start talking about this, is there any way Western students could ever achieve meaningful reform of a such a pivotal religious and cultural institution from outside it, just by rational persuasion and lobbying?

    Given that it’s taken forty years, an enormous number of innocent victims of abuse and exploitation on all levels: ( not just western students but Tibetan children, monks and the lamas themselves ) and the long-term active complicity or deep-seated indifference on the part of the majority of Tibetan lamas and many of their students, for abuse to even become a topic of discussion, I’m not optimistic at all.

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    1. @Lauren Auder
      Nobody is denying that a few bad apples with their abusive and feudalistic ways have infiltrated Tibetan Buddhism, but to taint its entirety with the same brush is utterly absurd.
      Your narrow outsider’s perspective is one of blind cynicism and gross exaggerations.
      Rather than waste time reiterating, please scroll back this blog’s message threads to a time when a man called Pete Cowell posted, whose comments were strikingly similar to yours; and then read my responses.

      Like

    2. Erm, 10 year olds in boarding schools is common practice in our western societies, and with kind, caring, non violent personnel no harm seems to be done to these children.
      As far as I have seen, Tibetans are quite caring, in fact in many cases a lot more caring and patient towards small children than westerners.
      Tibetan society (like many indigenous societies) has generally asked children at a very young age to be responsible and pull their weight, one Tibetan monk who taught in the west had told us that before he got to the monastery (must have been at around age 10), when he was still rather small , he was, together with the other kids his age expected to look after the family’s flocks and when he got somehow pissed off he would grab himself a horse and disappear, going trail riding for the rest of the day. Compared to what he told us about his life as a young child, children of the same age in our society behave downright infantile. By the way, the same holds for people who tell stories how they grew up in devastated Germany after WW2, the parents working their butts off, while the kids banded together and ran wild in the bombed areas. Punishments includes spanking, that was basically normal until a few decades ago.

      These people often are so much saner, more down to earth than the young generation of today. In fact I think that our western standard of child rearing is really NOT good for the development of children so we are not fit to judge how the Tibetans were doing it.

      Like

  20. @ Lauren Audrey

    This was brilliant, and spot-on on every point you raised, from the beginning to the end of your post. I agree with you completely on all of it.

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    1. @Been there

      Would you mind sharing your insider’s knowledge with this blog?

      Or have you too a narrow outsider’s perspective of blind cynicism and gross exaggerations?

      Hmm, I think it’s the latter.

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      1. @Marge

        Interesting that you would assume a “narrow outsider’s” view on my part. I tend not to post too much on these threads unless I feel I have something worthwhile to say, want to respond to a very particular point someone has made, or feel I can contribute without provoking an emotional and thoughtless response from someone. Without getting drawn into saying anything more about myself, and probably without posting anything here ever again, I will say that I have been an “insider” for more than 40 years, remain a practitioner, am not all cynical, and still applaud and agree with everything that Lauren Audrey said.

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        1. @Been there

          Great to know.

          Can you now please share some of what have witnessed that would validate Lauren Audrey’s generalization, in order to convince us that it’s not just a silly narrow outsider’s perspective of blind cynicism and gross exaggerations?

          Hmm, I thought not.

          Like

  21. @ Been there

    Many thanks for your support. From your perspective of 40 years and still a practitioner and who isn’t cynical, I take that as a compliment.

    It’s to be expected that comments which might challenge some people’s accepted views and make them uncomfortable can provoke an emotional response and the intensity of that emotion sometimes indicates an inner conflict or doubt, or just being in a more sensitive mood like we all are from time to time, so I tend not to take it too seriously.

    People who are confident in their views tend not to be vehemently reactive.

    But it’s true that having baseless assumptions made about you and being accused of being something you’re not by someone who knows absolutely nothing about, you can be unpleasant. It’s a kind of bullying really, but I think it would be a shame to let that discourage you or anyone else from posting here.

    Like

  22. @ Marge

    Thank you for your considered response to my blind cynicism and gross exaggerations.

    As an outsider I’m not familiar with many previous threads and I as much as I’d like to, I don’t have the time to research your previous responses to similar comments to my own, but please be assured that I think I can get a general impression of them from the tone of your reply above, which is quite clear even from my narrow perspective.

    Like

    1. @Lauren Auder

      Hmm, how you write really is very similar to that of Pete C.

      For those of you who are new to this blog, Pete C used to volunteer at Rigpa for a number of years, and he became very involved with its London scene. Pete was intelligent enough to spot Sogyal’s abuse and Rigpa’s cultish ways early on, and he did the right thing and left. But it wasn’t clear at the time how far his contempt for Rigpa would leech out into Tibetan Buddhism per se.

      Earlier this year, having received many complaints for tenaciously inciting infighting in order to support his personal crusade to bring down Tibetan Buddhism, Pete was banned from commenting on this blog. It was upsetting for some, as he really was a great contributor at times, but unfortunately at other times he just couldn’t contain his contempt and grossly misleading generlizations.

      It is now apparent that there is a very high chance that Pete writes under the pseudonym of Lauren Auder.

      Cover blown Lauren, or should I say Pete?

      Like

      1. @ Marge

        Wow, now that’s what I call an ad hominem (or should that be ad feminem?) attack.

        Bearing in mind Moonfire’s recent advice for commenting, which I think is very appropriate here, I’ll just note politely that I find your replies to anyone who you disagree with to be slightly aggressive and a trifle patronizing, and although this doesn’t perturb me in the slightest, I’m sure it will discourage others who have valuable contributions to make that the rest of us would be interested in and appreciate, even if you would rather they didn’t make them at all.

        But it’s ok, I understand that I’ve made you very angry, and indignation and anger are so much easier than actually engaging with my comment or refuting what I say with reasoned counter-arguments.

        If who you think I am is far more important to you than what I’m actually saying, then I’m more than happy to also admit to being Trump’s handler at the Kremlin, the second shooter on the grassy Knoll, Lord Lucan and the author of the Voynich Manuscript…..oh, and I have Shergar buried in my back yard too.*

        None of which makes the slightest difference to what I’m saying of course, but I hope it’ll satisfy your curiosity and replace your outrage with a soothing feeling of triumphant righteousness.

        May I respectfully draw your attention to Joanne’s post below, which is a good example of a thoughtful and considerate reply in which she points out what she believes to be racism on my part but in a polite and restrained way.

        * UK readers only

        Like

        1. @Lauren Auder – aka Pete C

          Come on old chap, you must remember that your narrow minded, xenophobic, cynical gross generalizations were always met with a justifiably forceful response. I’m hardly aggressive, as you say, Pete. In fact I often laugh when I read your verbose BS, and I continue to laugh when I reply. The thing is, if nobody is there to mop up your spilt crap, it would become a health and safety hazard to those who walk by.

          Pete, man up, do the right thing, contact admin, and promise to ditch your anti-Tibetan Buddhist propaganda if they allow you back. Or do you want carry on embarrassing yourself by continuing to hide behind your hysterical pseudonym of Lauren Auder.

          Like

          1. @ Marge

            You don’t seem to be aware of this, but because of the way you express yourself there’s obviously some dissonance between how you see yourself and how you appear to others.

            Here are some examples: ” Narrow minded…..xenophobic……cynical…….gross…….generalizations …..verbose bullshit……spilt crap……health and safety hazard….man up…..propaganda…….embarrassing yourself…..hysterical”……

            And that’s just in one very short comment to me.

            In this thread so far you’ve also called other people: ( not a complete list and some repeated )

            “Stupid….rubbish….utter rubbish…….embarrassing yourself….cynical….haven’t a clue…. propaganda…..slanderous…….grossly misleading……moronic agenda…..waste of time…..rubbish (again several times)…..deliberately misleading…..are you really that stupid?”

            There’s more but you get the idea.

            For someone who denies being aggressive that’s a lot of coarse and rather nasty invective to people who are just expressing their sincere opinions don’t you think?

            It doesn’t sound to me as if you’re “laughing” at all, it sounds like you’re a very angry and unhappy person who’s appointed themselves as a defender of Tibetan Buddhism against anyone they deem to be a heretic.

            I notice that you can edit and re-format your comments after they’ve been posted and your saying: “Earlier this year, having received many complaints…..” as if you were involved in the running of the blog, leads me to suspect you have different access or information from the rest of us.

            This might explain why you feel entitled to behave as if you’re the sole arbiter here of who’s right and who’s wrong and are free to express that in a way that ignores the guidelines of the blog itself.

            Interestingly, despite your aggressive behaviour, which is easily the worst of anyone who has ever posted here, you”ve escaped any moderation whatsoever.

            Your last paragraph ordering me to “contact admin, and promise to ditch your anti-Tibetan Buddhist propaganda if they allow you back.” speaks volumes.

            You may be surprised to learn that I assumed most people would realise my identity almost immediately as I made no attempt to alter the style and content of my posts and I even chose what I thought was a very obvious spoof name……

            No? Did you miss that?……ok, say it quickly and run the words together…….it’s a very old joke, surprised you didn’t spot it.

            And why exactly is it “hysterical?” a strange choice of words, is it because it’s a woman’s name and you’re really a macho bloke who thinks women are hysterical? Do I detect sexist prejudice or is that just one of your gratuitously insulting adjectives?

            (Don’t worry, for me your real identity or your gender isn’t what’s really important here at all.)

            You also seem to know a lot about why I was banned (three times I think) but “tenaciously inciting infighting” is not actually something that makes any sense in the context of a comments thread if you think about it.

            I was banned for what I said, which was considered heretical ( justifiable, but only if you hold a rigid Tibetan orthodox Buddhist view) but unlike you, I was scrupulously polite about it and I’ll continue to be, even to people who are ill-mannered, in fact, especially to them because they’re secretly more fragile and sensitive than the rest of us.

            Anyway, I’m glad to note that ( with one notable exception) the dynamic of this blog and the way it’s moderated has evolved to be more open and inclusive….. even of we heretics, who you believe, rather amusingly, to be dedicated to the complete eradication of Tibetan Buddhism. Not at all paranoid and McCarthyite that.

            By the way, talking of things past, which you like to do, I seem to remember you vigorously defending Trungpa a while back, but you don’t seem to have much to say about him these days. Why is that? I hope you’re not coming down with a dose of heresy yourself.

            Well, it’s been fascinating discussing all this with you, but I have to stop here for today, I have not just one but all world religions to overthrow before tea-time.

            If it makes you feel better, please don’t hesitate to reply with another sparkling stream of invective soon.

            Like

            1. @Lauren Auder – aka Pete C

              Pete, if you had bothered to re-read your comments that you had smothered every thread with earlier this year, and then re-read the many complaints that you had directly received from others about your tenacious objective of wanting to destroy Tibetan Buddhism, it is no surprise that you were banned.

              Mine or others’ forceful words are justifiably used when notorious gremlins, like yourself, infiltrate this blog and use it as an international platform to slander or promote people or systems that you have no idea about.

              Hmm, yawn, yes Pete, Lauren Auder (Law ‘n Order), indeed hysterical, given that you are everything but.

              Pete, you have no objective other than to bring down Tibetan Buddhism – that much we all know. No matter what people write, you will whitewash it with your BS propaganda, and your tenacity will grind those people down until they leave this blog. That is what you did, and that is what you continue to do.

              Anyway, now that you have publicly admitted that you are indeed Pete C, and since your tenacity and xenophobia is as strong as ever, I presume that you will be banned once again.

              Like

              1. @ Marge

                Well, I’m glad you finally got the joke, such as it was.

                I’m also glad to see that apart from calling me “a notorious gremlin”, the insult count has dropped and you seem to have calmed down a bit and adopted a less aggressive tone, which is much better because the exchange with you was becoming a bit like trying to have a conversation with a belligerent drunk and I was going to do what anyone would do in those circumstances.

                You said you wouldn’t waste time “re-iterating”, but here you still are, and you’re even duplicating your comments to Joanne who I’m sure is more than capable of understanding and replying herself.

                So I think perhaps you find my comments annoying but nonetheless just compelling enough that you can’t let it go.

                I know that you’re unlikely to debate as I and most people understand the word and you won’t respond to anything much and you’ll probably continue to be aggressive to people when the mood takes you and continue to justify that aggression as only “forcefulness” needed to deal with “gremlins” such as myself.

                Maybe you see it as wrathful activity to deal with negative spirits, because “gremlin” is close to “demon”. All very Vajrayana,, sounds like Kenchen Namdrol. But to me it looks like fear and anger
                and I understand where it comes from.

                Obviously you’d like me to be banned, but that’s a slippery slope and very reductive as many people have often pointed out. If everyone who doesn’t conform to your world-view here is banned you’ll eventually end up talking to yourself….. and then you’ll have no-one to shout at. ( that’s a joke by the way)

                Please understand that I’m not your enemy at all, just someone whose experience is somewhat different and whose conclusions are very different indeed.

                Anyway, I won’t annoy you further, but you might bear in mind that plenty of other people have previously reacted to my views in exactly the same way as you’re doing, but twenty plus years on many of them now share them completely.

                Best wishes
                Pete

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                1. @Lauren Auder – aka Pete C

                  Pete, you haven’t changed one bit, have you.

                  Like I said, re-read the responses that you had received before you got banned, and all the debates that you had infiltrated with your tenacious propagnada.

                  As you have no objective other than to destroy Tibetan Buddhism, how on earth can you possibly think that this blog benefits from you; a conservative materialist who is on a personal crusade to bring back those who’ve strayed onto an inner path.

                  Like

    2. @Lauren, you write, “After all, how many of us in the West where the social and economic system is vastly more evolved, would even think of putting our children into this kind of institution, and how many among us genuinely think celibacy and monasticism is an attractive way of life? Very few in fact.”

      With this statement I see red flags and start wondering about racism creeping into your outlook.

      Where I come from, a developed Western country, I don’t consider the social or economic system very evolved at all. Also, celibacy and monasticism have a serious role in Buddhist practice where living an “attractive life” isn’t the goal.

      Neither of these facts mean that there aren’t troubles within Tibetan Buddhist culture– but I have no arrogance right now about the superiority of my own culture. I think there’s a lot of work to do throughout the world and best to focus on what is Western. Understanding another culture can only be done with a huge humility and lots of openness and research. Otherwise, racism creeps in too easily imo.

      Like

      1. @ Joanne

        I understand what you’re saying and your concern, but I think it’s a mistake to conflate criticism of a religion with racism although it’s certainly the case that one is often used as a cover for the other and I suspect you’re highlighting this because in the case of Tibetans, Buddhism permeates their society to such an extent that it’s much harder to differentiate what is religious and what cultural.

        When I say: “permeates” I could well use the word; “dominates” because religion has until very recently influenced their society in a way that hasn’t existed in Europe since the Middle Ages when the fusion of religion and power was total. This seems to be changing for the better now but to my mind unless a society has complete separation of Church and State it can’t be either democratic or egalitarian…..and even that’s no guarantee but it’s a start.

        So I don’t have a racist attitude to Tibetans at all, I’m not criticising their ethnicity but I am criticising what I see as pernicious aspects of the religion the majority of them blindly adhere to, and this criticism extends to many other religious groups anywhere in the world, whose beliefs work against a just, humane and egalitarian society rather than towards it. These span all ethnic and national boundaries, race being incidental and associative rather than causal.

        For instance I can criticise the misogyny and institutionalised pedophilia of the Catholic Church but that doesn’t mean I’m being racist towards a large section of the ethnically diverse populations of Europe, Africa, North and South America and Asia.

        In the same way as criticism of ultra-nationalist Zionists and their treatment of the Palestinians doesn’t make me anti-semitic and so on. It’s a category error.

        I don’t know which country you live in but I’m sure there’s no economic necessity or social advantage in putting very young children in the potentially abusive environment of a cloistered religious institution in the abscence of state provision.

        As to celibacy and monasticism, I’m afraid there we must agree to differ because although I can understand that as an informed choice made by a mature adult, but to force young children to accept it is abusive.

        A child can be of Buddhist or Christian parentage but they don’t have the intellectual capacity to make an informed choice to be a monk or a nun, so it’s being imposed on them as indoctrination in the same way as if they were designated Communists or Flat-Earthers by parents who thought it was for their own good.

        Secular, rational education has to come before and take precedence over religious education. Religion requires faith, it’s an adult choice.

        I’m not criticising that adult choice per se but I wonder what real solutions can come from a thousand years of monastic religion that has supported feudalism throughout most of it’s history and doesn’t even have words for the many pressing problems that confront us today.

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        1. So our western religion is capitalism and consumerism and everything, including our child rearing habits is subjected to it.

          The whole psychological-emotional situation for the inhabitants in our societies, including the most vulnerable part, children, is corrupted by the corrosive effects of this capitalism and it’s products and conditions.

          Nearly one in five young university students suffer from depression or anxiety. Our system of raising and educating children into adulthood is a failure!

          Like

          1. @ The Windhorse

            I agree with you, unregulated capitalism is destroying the planet and us with it, and it’s certainly permeated the educational systems of most countries with equally destructive results.

            In the UK state provision of education at least as I knew it, used to be mostly free of interference from the private sector, right up to post-graduate level, but that’s no longer the case and mental health problems are increasing in all levels of education.

            I think there are political ways and initiatives for reversing this, but it’s difficult to say if it’s not already too late, given the extraordinary grip neo-liberal ideology and the financial sector has on the world.

            There are apparently plenty of faith-based schools and private schools in the UK that have very good reputations, but it’s a very contentious issue.

            The obvious problem is the way in which faith-based schools teach the sciences when the particular faith itself has tenets that are incompatible with them. I have no experience of this as my education was entirely secular.

            You’re right, there’s an element of religious faith in terms of irrational belief, about unregulated capitalism and neo-liberal economics, and conversely, I can’t think of any religion that hasn’t grown to become a kind of capitalist system of accumulation of wealth, assets and power too, so in practice they don’t seem to be incompatible.

            But to my mind heavily faith-based education is the very worst option.

            Like

            1. @Lauren Auder – aka Pete C

              Pete, may I remind you of what you wrote on 20/01/2018:

              “I’m not a practitioner and I am cynical about Tibetan Buddhism, but that might not entirely disqualify me from having an opinion.”

              “People talk of all the great benefit, but what they mean is that they had some nice mental experiences, were entertained and got an off-the-peg evidence-free world view that they found soothing. I never noticed any dramatic transformations in anyone.”

              “If Tibetan Buddhism was truly capable of conferring real tangible benefits on society then Tibetan society itself would never have remained a backward, brutal feudal theocracy for centuries. So for me, these benefits, for students at least, are individual and subjective and don’t amount to much.”

              etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

              Pete, as it is clear that you have no objective other than to bring down Tibetan Buddhism, could you please tell us what motivates you. I totally understand your contempt for Sogyal and Rigpa, but why do you find it necessary to tenaciously further your agenda into the path of Tibetan Buddhism per se? Is it compassion for its practitioners who could otherwise be following your worldly view? Seriously, I’m so curious, perhaps in the same way how a psychiatrist would be curious about the mind of a psychopath.

              Like

              1. @ Marge

                Sorry I didn’t reply to your previous post, but it was a statement and the only question was rhetorical.

                I suspect you’re not really interested in my motivation at all and I know if I explain it you’ll ignore the significance but still manage to use it as a basis for criticism, as you’ve made up your mind already and have even escalated to inferring I’m a psychopath.

                Although after that I’m not sure exactly where you could go next…..do Buddhists have anything similar to the Christian concept of the Antichrist…..like the ‘Antibuddha’ ? Feel free to use that by all means.

                Anyway, since I can’t know that for sure, and you’ve obviously been to such a lot of trouble and shown yourself to be more “tenacious in furthering your agenda” than I could ever be bothered to be, in scrolling through all those posts to find one of my old comments, and that must have been very tedious indeed for you, so I feel I ought to give you the benefit of the doubt and treat your question as if it came from genuine curiosity even though I’m sure it doesn’t..

                I ought to warn you that you might find some of the content of my answer disturbing and you may need to look away from the screen if you begin to feel uncomfortable, experience palpitations or become enraged.

                Firstly the idea that I want to destroy Tibetan Buddhism is exclusively your own hyperbole and you repeat it constantly like a mantra that you find reassuring and soothing. It’s as if you hope you can persuade yourself and others that I actually have such an extreme and unattainable ambition then you can dismiss me as insane (you’ve just tried by the way) then you can also dismiss what I say and justify your remarkably aggressive language. Frankly that’s not a good sign.

                I’m sure you spent all that time poring over my comments in the hope of discovering some confirmation of my imaginary mission to destroy Buddhism, but all you’ve been able to come up with is: “cynical”.

                I know that must have been disappointing for you, so to help you out, I’ve been racking my brains for any entire religious culture in history that’s ever been destroyed by criticism; the Achaemenids, the Minoans, the Greeks, Rome, the Aztecs, the Holy Roman Empire and so on….but I’m pretty sure that trenchant observations and a bit of piss-taking wasn’t the deciding factor in any of them. Your grasp,of history is probably as good as mine, so you must know this too.

                Buddhists are doing a very good job of damaging Buddhism without any help from me at all, in case you haven’t noticed, and all I’m doing is pointing that out.

                You try to characterize me as extreme but there really are a lot of people with similar views to mine
                ( Except they don’t and probably wouldn’t bother communicating with you.)

                Very many people first saw through Sogyal and then quickly understood that every lama who, despite knowing what he was, supported and endorsed him was also corrupt. ( He was a standing joke among lamas well before the first scandal broke) From that flows many logical conclusions about the structure of Tibetan Buddhism itself.

                For me that was a very long time ago and there’s been a great deal since that has only confirmed and re-enforced my initial view. The recent revelations made me realise that I hadn’t even understood how bad it was.

                Contrary to your beliefs, I spend a very small fraction of my time indeed writing or even thinking about all this, it just doesn’t concern me enough to divert me from my life to any significant degree. There are people who devote substantial time to it but I’m not one of them.

                The impression you get is distorted and based on what you see as extensive comments, you assume they take up a lot of time but in fact I write them very quickly and to me they’re quite roughly put together. You might be reasonably clear about my views but you hugely overestimate my involvement, which is understandable I suppose.

                I’m under no illusions about my ability to change people’s minds at all, and what you may find really disturbing is that although I do have some feeling of moral obligation to pass on my conclusions, I mainly do this because it’s fun, a kind of an occasional pastime that’s aesthetically satisfying and combines intellectual effort with debate and mild piss-taking, very British I’m afraid and not to everyone’s taste.

                I’m also very fascinated by why people cling to religion over rationality even in the face of obvious dissonance ranging from impossible stories, through evidence-free assertions and beliefs to shocking scandals and endemic corruption.

                The implications of this blog and how people express that are sometimes absorbing and have very wide ranging implications indeed, and although you dismiss me as just a trouble-maker, I’m genuinely interested in what everyone has to say and I learn things all the time.

                You might ask yourself if you’re also interested in listening to people……because to me, you don’t seem to be.

                Ok, that’s as much time as I’m prepared to spend on this, I hope it answers your question but I doubt it’ll make any difference to your opinion. You should understand that I’m not concerned about that either.

                I’ve been very patient with your coarse, repetitious personal insults so far and despite them, I’ve just replied honestly, and if I thought you’d engage honestly too, I’d be prepared to continue our discussion……but I don’t….because you’re not…..so I won’t.

                Good luck
                Pete

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                1. I have promised myself never to post at whatnow727 again , but I cannot resist expressing my admiration for your tenacity Lauren (Pete). Reading your posts over the last few months, and responses that you tend to receive, I am owed by the directness, clarity, patience, sense of humour, and kindness towards others that you bring to the table so to speak. You seem to me to be a true bodhisattva, that many of those so-called Buddhists who are posting here are not. As to the subject matter being discussed, Buddhism is to me these days like an oyster with a pear hidden inside. It is such a tragedy though that we all seem to break our own and each other’s teeth trying to chew through the oyster rather than to behold (enjoy) the pearl.

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                  1. @Marek Czepiec

                    You said that you’ve been reading Pete’s posts over the months, so how did you arrive at your conclusion that Pete has “patience and kindness towards others”, when Pete often states things like, “If Tibetan Buddhism was truly capable of conferring real tangible benefits on society then Tibetan society itself would never have remained a backward, brutal feudal theocracy for centuries.”

                    Where is the patience and kindness, let alone intelligence in that statement? There is none.

                    Pete, is Marek another one of your pseudonyms? How many do you have?

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                    1. Hi Marge, Thank you for your prompt reply. (1) Marek Czepiec is my real name. You can ask around. (2) As for “If Tibetan Buddhism was truly capable of conferring real tangible benefits on society then Tibetan society itself would never have remained a backward, brutal feudal theocracy for centuries”, you can read on this further. There is an ample evidence (material) available on that. So Lauren (Peter) is not pulling a rabbit out of a hat here, or reinventing a wheel so to speak. (3) As for Lauren’s (Pete’s) “patience and kindness towards others” responses like yours to my above post require lots of it. It only took you just slightly more than one hour to respond to me. Your response seems to indicate extreme reactiveness, aggression even. That it is ad hominem, need not be pointed to. That it is not based on a technical merit, is too obvious for words as well. So why do I bother to respond? Because I am curious to find out what is it really that you are trying to achieve? Do you really want to convince me, or Lauren (Peter), or anyone else for that matter that the earth is flat? Or do you need such a conviction for yourself, to save your own (cherished) image of reality, to save your sense of self? If the latter, believe me, I have been there. And further, I still keep on failing into such a trap every now and then. It is a lonely and hellish place, at best. Kind regards, Marek PS If you find my response to personal for your liking, I apologise. I would like to propose it to you though, that a personal response is what you seem to me to invite. So if we are to continue this communication between you and I any further, let me know please, whether you prefer us to stick to well established facts, or deal with issues we seem to be facing on a more personal level?

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                    2. @Marek Czepiec – aka Pete C

                      Pete, how many pseudonyms do you have?

                      This imaginary person, Marek, has popped up a number of times before, particularly when you are desperate for somebody to back your xenophobic agenda.

                      Pete/Marek/Lauren, your writing style is a match, not to mention your BS.

                      Pete, get a life.

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                    3. Dear Marge, Could you please cool down a bit dear, will you?. You can ask around about me as I have told you. And if you do that, you will find that unlike Santa Claus, I do exist, and furthermore, I am in fact a real person. So please, do yourself a favour and do ask around. And If and when you finally cool down, please tell me what is so threatening to you? Would you, for example, be more reassured finding out that I am not Lauren (Pete)? Or would you feel more threatened still, even ganged up on? What can I do for you here short of sharing with you your views? PS Shall I provide you with a list of those you may know who you could consult on my separate from Lauren’s (Pete’s) existence? 🙂

                      Like

                  2. @ Marek

                    Thanks. I’m sorry you seem to have become caught in the crossfire of a kind of drive-by shooting rant here, and being accused of the heinous crime of being me is a terrible accusation that no innocent person should ever be submitted to.

                    You’ll probably be summarily judged, found guilty and subjected to what in legal terms is called “A cruel and unusual punishment” by dear Marge.

                    Get out while you still can.

                    Like

                    1. Thank you for a warning Lauren. On a humours note, I do not dream of becoming you when I grow up, but I do not mind being accused of being you. In fact, I find this to be a complement. It is a pity though that Marge is running wild with her hair on fire; pity for her. But than you and I were perhaps there ourselves before. So I really feel for her. It must be a horror to have one’s reality, one’s self identity demolished, with nowhere to go. Is it not? 🙂

                      Like

                  3. @ Marek

                    Your last comment (October 4, 2018 at 11:53 pm) doesn’t appear to have a reply function.

                    Anyway, for once in my life I’m going to imitate the Buddha when he was asked about the origin of delusion….and remain silent.

                    Like

                    1. @Marek – aka Pere C
                      and
                      @Lauren – aka Pete C

                      Pete, it’s too late, you can contrive your writing styles all you want now, but you forgot to do so before and the matches were already spotted; grammmar, choice of words, and of course your unmistakable BS.

                      Seriously, Pete, you are obsessed. Honestly, the lengths you’ll go to! It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so disturbing.

                      Get a life, Pete… or help.

                      Like

            2. Then please go to an anti Jehova’s Witnesses forum. In Rigpa there was no heavy indoctrination and pressuring of children into buddhism so in this place your criticism is wasted..

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              1. @ thewindhorse

                I referred specifically to the induction of children into Tibetan monasteries, I didn’t mention Rigpa, but I think taking children and adolescents to a centre run by a sexual predator would have risks too, wouldn’t you?

                Like

                  1. @ Matilda

                    I was referring to Rigpa. Specifically Lerab Ling. I’m not sure that they have the equivalent of CRB checks in France and if they did Sogyal wouldn’t have passed one.

                    Like

        2. Lauren, I referred to racism because you were painting the Tibetan culture with one simplistic brush. You are making judgments about their traditions from a position of insufficient understanding and knowledge. Cultures and religious practices within cultures are complex. Any serious academic will give a much more nuanced view of another culture than you have given. It is clear that you are basing your judgment on a limited view and making sweeping statements such as saying that Western cultures are more advanced. That is simply narrow-minded and is the type of language used by racists.

          You simply cannot understand what will and will not traumatize a child within another culture by using the standards of your own culture, by placing it as a superior measure. In many ways, Buddhist psychology far surpasses Western psychology. Tibetans are devoted parents and gentle, humorous people. It is very offensive to me to hear a culture maligned the way you are maligning that culture.

          For example, in many cultures in the world, such psychological problems as PTSD weren’t ever known until Westerners arrived and told people they should be feeling certain ways. For example, Tibetan culture is a collective culture and most cultures in the West are individualistic. The strength of Tibetan communities are very powerful and so you cannot judge where a child might be feeling isolated and alone. What causes distress to a Western child, who has nothing but a nuclear family to identify with safety, is not necessarily going to cause distress to a Tibetan child who identifies safety and security with the wider community.

          And the full vows are not imposed on any monastic. The child lives in the monastery as a novice and receives an education— it was the only place a child could learn to read and write in Tibet.

          Have abuses occurred within Tibetan Buddhist monasteries? Of course. But I was also abused as a young child by my next door neighbor. So I don’t know what you’re saying. Racism occurs when you paint an entire complex culture with one black brush.

          Like

          1. @ Joanne

            I suppose our disagreement is about cultural or moral relativism, which you are obviously more a fan of than I am, but yes this is very complicated, although I don’t think it’s necessary to bolster your argument by invoking racism.

            As I already explained: I’m criticizing just one aspect of a culture not the entire culture, that isn’t racist and I gave you several examples, but if you decide to ignore them and continue to play the race card there’s nothing else I can say about that.

            Also you might consider that criticizing something specific in a culture, doesn’t imply that all other alternatives in all other cultures are automatically superior and and without similar problems. Now that would be a sweeping generalization, but It’s not one I’m making at all, so you’re making another false assumption.

            In this instance we’re talking specifically about the Tibetan practice of taking very young children away from their mothers and entrusting them to the care of celibate adult men. I’m saying this is wrong because it deprives the child of the maternal love and physical contact vital to healthy development and obviously puts it at great risk of abuse. I’m very surprised that you disagree with this.

            There’s plenty of available reading on this including research on humans and primates and the effects of maternal deprivation.

            http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/37819/WHO_PHP_14.pdf;jsessionid=BD9218E159A2B982AC834A5724A2D557?sequence=1

            Basically it seems that constant maternal contact is the norm and removing it causes permanent neurological changes in the brain that are subsequently expressed as anxiety, hypervigilance, aggression, and lack of empathy and so on. This is compounded in the case of Tulkus who are given elevated status.
            By now almost everyone is familiar with NPD and many of us have received teachings from people suffering from it.

            I’m certainly not saying that this problem is exclusive to Tibetan society, or that Western societies don’t have similar problems, in fact I think we have far more but due to different causes, for example social isolation,economic pressures and the lack of supportive community, which you mention in your comment. I’m not disagreeing with you on that, but surely we’ve got enough problems in modern society without clinging to additional eastern religious ones as well.

            What I am saying is why idealize this process and ignore the psychologically and socially destructive consequences just because it’s your adopted religion, it’s a backward model, similar to European medieval monasticism.

            Yes Buddhist psychology has existed for over two millenia, but it doesn’t contain one reference to the brain, has no understanding of physiology, neurology, chemistry, has no scientific method nor investigative tools such as MRI, holds primitive beliefs about demonic possession and spirits, and I find it difficult to understand how you can ignore all that. Your belief that it “far surpasses Western psychology” is the kind of unsubstantiated cultural prejudice you accuse me of.

            Humans all have exactly the same physiological make up, so we all have the same responses to primal experiences like love, affection, rejection, deprivation, fear and so on, so to suggest that Tibetan children respond differently to being separated from their mothers than western ones is simply not true.

            As to PTSD being a western invention that wouldn’t be experienced by people in other cultures if they hadn’t been told about it, well the same applies, and a brief talk to anyone from any part of the world who has been through the trauma of war or genocide, whether Asia, the Middle East, the Americas or Europe might change your mind about that very strange idea.

            “Tibetans are devoted parents and gentle, humorous people.” a sweeping generalization of course but even if it were not and even if putting their children into institutions used to be the only way they could get an education, that shouldn’t still be the case should it? Arguing that economic necessity justifies that is similar to arguing that child labour or prostitution is acceptable in third world countries. I’m sure you wouldn’t do that at all.

            Monasteries are often quite wealthy, their inhabitants spend most of their lives praying, which is an economically unproductive activity that requires huge support from people that are economically productive, so it’s parasitic, Social and economic change and the equal distribution of assets and resources would be able to provide a much better standard of living than this slavish, passive acceptance of an outdated feudal system.

            Whichever way you spin it, Tibetan Buddhism inculcates the acceptance of elitism, privilege, dominance and subservience and the monastic tradition re-inforces this by way of education. What would we think if students in a primary or secondary school were obliged to prostrate full length face down on the floor to their teacher, bow their heads and cover their mouths while speaking to them and leave their presence by walking backwards?

            What exactly is so “complex” about that and why should anyone have a “nuanced” view of it? You can say it’s a cultural tradition and an expression of respect which would be true but it’s also a grotesque demonstration of power and subservience rooted in feudalism.

            All those children crowded together day after day, chanting and muttering prayers, don’t you think they and their society would be far better off by their having a secular education that would enable them to become tradesmen, doctors, engineers or food-producers for instance?

            It’s one thing to take a rosy, benign view of third-world cultures but would you really want to live in one if it meant having to commit your children to life in an institution like a Tibetan monastery?

            Perhaps you might but I certainly wouldn’t.

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            1. I agree with your views on this topic Pete. It would go quite some way in explaining the negligent, hypocritical, deceptive and narcissistic behaviour of my former Guru.

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              1. @ Rose

                Thanks, it’s a fascinating area, and after leaving Rigpa I really wanted to understand what had happened, so I started to read about psychology and a bit about neurology, (which I find much extremely difficult due to….well, not actually being a neurologist)

                The wonderful thing is that even from my educationally limited viewpoint, it seems that the scientific method is to constantly ask questions and challenge orthodoxy, there’s no belief in a definitive state of absolute knowledge and no pretence that you have it either. I appreciate that these days.

                In terms of abusive gurus and NPD, trying to understand the physiological and developmental causes of their behaviour seems to help a lot. I think the problem many of us had was having absolutely no template for this, no experience or understanding of manipulation or predation because it was completely missing from our education. Hopefully that’s starting to change at the moment.

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                1. Yes and on top of it all, we are told to see these individuals as perfect and endowed with superhuman abilities!
                  The perfect storm.

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                  1. @ Rose

                    True, we all might encounter the odd narcissist, but narcissists who are endorsed by almost all their peers, effectively an entire religious elite, are very hard to spot.

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      2. @Joanne

        Lauren Auder is in fact Pete C. If you were around the UK in the early days you may recall that Pete was very involved with its London scene, but had left after correctly spotting Sogyal’s abuse and Rigpa’s cultish ways. However, it wasn’t clear at the time how far his contempt would leech out into Tibetan Buddhism per se.

        Earlier this year, having received many complaints for tenaciously inciting infighting in order to support his personal crusade to bring down Tibetan Buddhism, Pete was banned from commenting on this blog. It was upsetting for some, as he was a great writer, but unfortunately he just couldn’t contain his grossly misleading generalisations which he used to literally smother every thread with.

        Pete will blindly refute what Buddhism brings, and therefore he can’t see the point of a life devoted to practice, or the necessity for conducive environments for practice, such as retreat centres and monasteries.

        People just gave up discussing things with him, as it became a colossal waste of time. However, as he continued to hijack every thread, the moderators justifiably banned him, which I hope they will do again.

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  23. It seems to me that part of the art of contributing to conversations on a blog is to ignore blatantly inflamatory comments and to resist the urge to make them ourselves. A good rule of thumb is not to say anything you wouldn’t say directly to the person’s face.

    If you feel you really need to comment but fear of a backlash keeps you silent, you could just leave your comment and not come back to read what others say about it.

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  24. The number of cases in relation to all lamas teaching westerners is still low. The problem is that it has happened in the two of the largest Tibetan buddhist organisations in the west. That gives the impression that Tibetan buddhism is an abyss of moral corruption when there are tons of teachers who behave morally correct compared to the small number of offenders that have been exposed over the years (for example years ago there were accusations against Kalu Rinpoche)

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