‘Rigpa’ Reborn? What a Viable ‘Rigpa’ Might Look Like.

With the results of the independent investigation into Sogyal Lakar/ Rinpoche’s abuse tabled clearly in the Lewis Silkin report, no one can deny now that “based on the evidence available to me [Karen Baxter of Lewis Silkin], I am satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities:
a. some students of Sogyal Lakar (who were part of the ‘inner circle’, as described later in this report) have been subjected to serious physical, sexual and emotional abuse by him; and
b. there were senior individuals within Rigpa who were aware of at least some of these issues and failed to address them, leaving others at risk.”

Karen Baxter recommendations include the following clear directions for Rigpa: 

  1. Sogyal Lakar should not take part in any future event organised by Rigpa or otherwise have contact with its students; 
  2. Rigpa should take steps to disassociate itself from Sogyal Lakar as fully as is possible (having regard to any legal arrangements which may for the time being connect the organisation with him);
  3. Rigpa leadership in each country (being the trustees or equivalent) and the Vision Board should, as necessary, be refreshed in order to ensure that;
    1. its members are unconnected with the harmful events referred to in this report and so can credibly lead the programme of changes required;
    2. its members are all publically committed to the concept that abuse will not be tolerated by anyone, or against anyone, within Rigpa (including teachers); and
    3. wherever possible, the leadership should include some members who are unconnected with the student body, for example lay trustees as such would be recognised in the United Kingdom.

And in their statement on the report Rigpa states that “Rigpa commits to act upon the report’s recommendations.” 

What acting on these recommendations means.

  1. Sogyal must be removed from course materials, and no more audio or video teachings by him should be shown at Rigpa events. Rigpa needs to publicly denounce Sogyal’s abusive behaviour and make it clear that they are no longer a sangha of his students.
  2. And ALL those who were in management roles up until this year need to remove themselves from their roles – not just the three stooges at the top, and they must not still in the background directing behind the scenes in an advisory or any other capacity.
    ALL those senior instructors who still believe and therefore will still teach the ‘crazy wisdom’ excuse for abuse, and ALL who participated in the cover up by delivering the ‘Representing Rigpa’ cover-up sessions need to go – unless they publicly denounce Sogyal Lakar’s behaviour, apologise for their role in the cover up,say that they realise that they were wrong to do so, and that they are now ‘committed to the concept that abuse will not be tolerated by anyone, or against anyone, within Rigpa (including teachers)’
  3. Is self-explanatory.

But what would a Rigpa without Sogyal  look like? 

Some people remain in Rigpa simply because they can’t imagine life without the support of the community and/or because they don’t want to see the infrastructure dismantled, but if you take away Sogyal and all those in management and teaching roles who are not willing to stand up in public and say that they now realise that Sogyal’s behaviour was abusive and that they are committed to not allowing anything like that to happen again, what is left?

Barbara van Schaik has a vision that she agreed to shared with us. I hope Rigpa management read it and take this vision on board, because it’s a vision that could inspire people who are presently terribly disillusioned. 

‘Rigpa’ Reborn

By Barbara van Schaik

There’s a lot of writing and thinking out loud about Rigpa at the moment. Most address the abuse suffered by so many, abuse of a power we all believed in and held in our hearts.

What the outcome will be no-one can say at present – bits and pieces appear, newspaper articles are ‘out there’ now and various people have various pieces of information that don’t amount to a real conclusion. Solution seems as far away as ever.

The big questions

But how CAN Rigpa continue? Really? Sexual abuse, charities seeing fraud, loss of funds as Rigpa is publicly denounced? Yet it seems those in charge are hanging in, hanging on, hoping against hope perhaps that it will all ‘blow over’ and amount to not much, as long as Sogyal stays out of the picture (at least as far as those outside the inner circle of devotees would be aware).

Can they re-form? It’s so hard to know where we stand at present.

But if they can’t, if they don’t – then what of all those physical remains – the centres around the world and the great Mother Ship – Lerab Ling.

Since someone has pointed out that all the centres operate separately it seems there may not be one outcome affecting them all in the same way.

But – RIGPA?? Surely the name is tainted beyond repair now. Another name? Possibly – but wouldn’t people, the ones who would be interested, know? It has to be more than that.

I personally feel the inner circle/devotees, including those who ‘stepped down’ will not give him up.  That is, if he is around and does regain his health. They will find some kind of different way of being with him – I once (jokingly) mentioned holograms.

But that leaves those buildings – if RIGPA as we know it were to disappear, ‘leave the premises’ to do something secretive elsewhere – what of them?  And in the case of Lerab Ling – so big, so grandiose, so decorated, so TIBETAN – hung and filled with all kinds of precious things – not to speak of the energy generated there – what of that? What could it become?

I was thinking about this and some thoughts did come up. Here they are, for what they might be worth.

Lerab Ling as a true rime centre

Perhaps LL, with all its ‘Tibetaness’ could become a Centre for the preservation of Tibetan thought (Buddhist) and culture.  There would be a Library, bringing together ancient texts, their translations, published books, blogs and videos, articles written, articles about to be written – research materials.

A place where scholars from both East and West would come to sit and read, research, compare, be inspired and confer. There could be screens which would show films relating to TB (not of the ‘7 Years in Tibet’ variety) – although ‘Kundun’ might be an exception! Peoples’ journeys recorded, recent trips into Tibet as well as historical material. There could be lectures from Tibetan ‘experts’ and scholars, open to the public.

Beside the Library, LL could be seen as a meeting place of lamas, khenpos, wandering ngakpas (if they could interrupt their wanderings) lecturers and all involved in the serious study of TB. They would be from all sects, a true ‘Rime’ organization where perhaps new understanding between scholars could take place – debates too, along classical lines, although perhaps without the performance aspect!

Of course students would continue come –  to study (lots of accommodation), to listen to a lama expounding on a topic of choice, and more ‘open’ events where new people could come to hear and see.

There could be ‘residencies’ for various teachers, along the lines of artists’ residences, or writers’ residences. Anything from a few weeks to a few months.

A store house of Tibetan culture

Then I had the thought that LL (in particular since it is so Tibetan in every way) could be a storehouse of the culture of Tibet. Tibetan Medicine (my own particular interest) could be represented with visiting doctors from Asia – India, Nepal and Bhutan for example. They could hold surgeries, so helpful for people unable to reach them in their home countries. They too could hold talks about the basics of TM. And bring supplies of the marvellous little brown pills! I am particularly interested in those European plants which correlate to some of the Tibetan ones.  Plant-finding expeditions could take place and there could be a medical department.

There is Tibetan thangkha painting, artists could come and stay, too – holding classes and giving lectures on the subject. There is one Bhutanese-trained thangkha painter already living in France.

There is Tibetan food, dance, costume, jewellery… I remembered the magnificent ‘tormas’ made for pujas, sand mandalas, all that space to create these things, and involve groups wanting to learn more about their history as well as ‘how to make’. All these are of course subsidiary to the Library, but could provide a ‘way in’ for the public: held outside in the grounds in the summer months, a way to open the windows and let in the air, after all that secrecy and shutting away.

There are holy relics and all the paraphernalia of TB – I could see a Museum too  – there are already precious things at LL and this could be built up with people who have spent time in those countries where Tibetans have their culture donating their items as they might wish.

Open to the public of course – no secret ‘lama’s room’ any more.

So this is how I could see LL rise again, in a different form, but building on the best of all that energy over the years, devotion properly channeled, away from a charismatic leader who brought so much to so many, particularly in his youth, but in later years became a travesty of what he set out to be.

Other centres

The other centres could be more diverse in terms of their lecturers and focus – maybe a look at Buddhism from other sources, Theravada, Zen, the Pali canon from Sri Lanka. Each one could choose its own particular style. Certainly, they could invite teachers from all traditions and become, rather than a centre for the students of any particular lama, a centre for dharma teachings in general. True Rime.

… and a Board: Karen Baxter’s (Lewis Silkin) suggestions for a board, including some lay people, representation from charity – sounds excellent.

And – of course – a new name!

This has gone on longer than I thought it would.  Thoughts, sketches – let’s see what happens.

Thanks Barbara for sharing your vision.

Perhaps such an organisation could be called whatever the Tibetan word for Phoenix is. Certainly it’s time to put the word rigpa back where it belongs as a word meaning the true nature of mind/pristine awareness, not the name of a cult. To give up that name, and choose a new one and a new vision would be the only way I can see that Rigpa can survive this with any integrity. Their integrity as an organisation is as shot as that of their lama. If they are to survive, they need this kind of radical change, not bandaids and half-hearted attempts at appeasing the Charity Commissions.

Over to you my vajra brothers and sisters who still have some faith that there is something worth saving.


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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164 thoughts on “‘Rigpa’ Reborn? What a Viable ‘Rigpa’ Might Look Like.

  1. I think the first priority for the use of the considerable assets Rigpa has internationally is to properly compensate the victims of Sogyal’s abuse. What can happen after that depends on what is left.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So simple. For the sake of all beings? So ask the beings, the students…people, what they want, about their wishes…so simple…:-)

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  3. To me it is a rather difficult question, what should or could happen to Lerab Ling. The place is completely interwoven with the time and life of Sogyal Rinpoche, and like other historical places, it is a place with guilt. Whatever new destination, the guilt will not go away. Not even by recreating the place into a new center for Tibetan Culture, as in the past this was mis-used too. May be the best idea is, to sell it to a company that can transform the place into a wellness center and spa. Of course the revenues should all go to the victims and charity. Still this is without any value as long as the people involved do not plea guilty. To begin with Sogyal, and followed by all people that are co-responsible. Next appropriate balance will be needed, to create by all that were part of this horrible history, that yet is present.
    There is no need to be careful of cautious – only firm decisions will lead to liberation.
    Eckart

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    1. That’s nonsense. We can talk about Dachau or Auschwitz as places of guilt, that are forever tainted by the atrocities that happened there. To compare Lerab Ling with that is absolutely ridiculous.

      Plus, long term sexual abuse of children or physical violence against family members is going on in tons of houses all around us, in most cases unknown to us. So should we tear down all our cities because probably in every large living complex children were sexually exploited and wives beaten? There wouldn’t be any places for us left to live if we tear down or no longer use any building that has this history.

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    1. I was recently given a bunch of these by a Lama and will not now use them for a different reason but am interested to know how you know these pills are toxic?
      Pesticides? Chinese waste?

      (I know about the mercury already)

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        1. @Rose

          Indeed, Men Tsee Khang has an excellent reputation for their highly trained doctors who prescribe medicine that is manufactured with great understanding, care and attention. They’ve benefitted countless people for over a century, and they continue to do so in exile. They’re the real deal.

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  4. Sogyal still teaches at Rigpa, just got this email from Rigpa UK about the Dzogchen mandala days ;

    “Dear ——-
    The next year of the Dzogchen Study Programme will run from October 2018 – June 2019.

    As promised, the session in October will feature some ‘Highlights from the Dzogchen Retreat’:

    —the concluding message Sogyal Rinpoche sent to the retreat
    —two short & recent teachings on meditation from Sogyal Rinpoche

    —a teaching on the importance of Narak Kong Shak for the Rigpa Sangha, by Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche last July.

    In November we begin the second year of the Dzogchen Study Programme on the Tsik Sum Ne Dek teachings. We will be sharing the teachings on the second & third word, ‘Meditation’ & ‘Action’. Like last year, this will be based on Sogyal Rinpoche’s teachings, mainly from 2010-2012. ”

    As you can read for yourselves Sogyal sent a message to the Dzogchen retreat at Lerab Ling this year. And (despite having ‘stepped down’ and the Silken report recommending that Rigpa has nothing to do with Sogyal) they use videos of him teaching – including RECENT teachings.

    The arrogance of Sogyal and Rigpa is amazing.
    Rigpa shouldn’t continue, and Lerab Ling should be close down / knocked down.

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    1. Hi, is there evidence, a copy, a document ect. to proove it? Would be okay to use good videos but it would be devastating to pretend the opposite in public. Healing will come and it will include everyone. Even Sogyal and it will be deeply transforming, or there will be no healing at all. The one and only safe Refuge still is Prajna Paramita, pure reality, ever was. The deepest challenge is yet to come….

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    2. The students in the dzogchen mandala are all old students of SR, they all know fully what has been going on and decided they want to continue with him as teacher.
      They have every right to continue having teachings by him, particularly in that closed environment where no new people get involved.

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        1. It’s their choice, and since SR is their dzogchen guru who they wish to continue their dharma path with I don’t see how they can act differently.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. There is no purpose in persecuting ordinary Rigpa students who after all have a fundamental human right (law) to follow a belief system of their choice, in this case a path of teachings that they have attended for many years.

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  5. Rigpa always plays for more time and talks about changing, then we just see basically nothing different except perhaps defensive moves and people who have been caught out stepping down officially. Yet, unless they are really gone, I think they don’t have anything else than to be invited to meetings where they don’t belong to keep influencing.

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  6. The people who despite the abuse history see SR as their main teacher and wish to continue on the path of dharma with him as their root guru have a legitimate right to do so. It’s their personal choice and Rigpa is the body of the students of SR.

    The main issue is the prevention of any future abusive behaviour. So Rigpa should be whatever the SR disciples in it who wish to stay in it want it to be (by democratic decision), plus strict anti abuse measures in place.

    People are allowed to follow the teachings of Osho, they are allowed to follow the teachings of Trungpa, they are allowed to be Jehova’s Witnesses or Scientologists. We have religious freedom. Staying or leaving then is everyone’s personal decision.

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    1. Yes its their right. But for the newer and new students should be a full explanation of Rigpas story of abuses, they should declare openly and publicly not to apply the advice of lewis/silken, plus become fully transparent in terms of moneyflow and how its spended, organisational bodies, structures and power hierchies laid down open, and Sogyal Lakar should clear all his stories of abuse in full, in order to become trustworthy.

      Eventually two Rigpas, one for the newer students,if they have, separated from old Rigpa, and another Rigpa for the old students where they can do whatever they want.

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      1. The issue is now public enough and also discussed within Rigpa by the students that everyone newly involved will hear about it and have VERY easy access to all the data of what’s going on.

        Since SR will apparently not return to his travelling-teaching lifestyle what mainly attracted people into Rigpa (hearing him speak somewhere and getting interested) the influx of new people drawn explicitely by SR will be small in the future, probably through people reading the book (it was already reduced when he reduced his travelling schedule some years ago due to age and health)

        In the recent sangha days I attended this summer the video material presented was about 50:50 SR and other teachers. If that continues, new people will not see SR as the “main” teacher within Rigpa as it was in the past. Plus, as a vajrayana path, you can’t really get vajrayana or dzogchen transmissions from a video. So new people who want to go deeper than basics will bond with one of the hopefully suitable and qualified successors who take over the live teaching events. Which would have happened eventually anyway, due to SR’s old age.

        So SR becoming the root guru of newly joined people is in my opinion not likely going to happen. New cases of abuse are also not expected to happen.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Dear Windhorse, In response to your stating that: “The people who despite the abuse history see SR as their main teacher and wish to continue on the path of dharma with him as their root guru have a legitimate right to do so. It’s their personal choice and Rigpa is the body of the students of SR.” I would like to point out that we all can do whatever we want, but there are consequences. Your use of the word “legitimate” is not fortunate here, to say the list. Plus, yes, they can further their wish, but if they want to do so overground (i.e. in the open), and if they want to have Rigpa, or whatever, recognised and registered as an official organisation (charity), they better learn to observe the laws of the land of its registration. In all the years I have followed the Dharma I have never heard a lama who would propose that a crazy-wisdom adept or follower should be above the law. On a contrary; And I hope I do not need to quote Padmasambhava here. Otherwise, all we end up with is a perversion of the Dharma. Care to respond? Kind regards, Marek

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      1. ” and if they want to have Rigpa, or whatever, recognised and registered as an official organisation (charity), they better learn to observe the laws of the land of its registration.”

        Since SR was the only perpetrator and is no longer present, no further violations are to be expected.

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        1. And what about collusion, financial improprieties, and the like? Plus I would not be so sure that further violations are not to be expected, especially with statements like those made publicly at Rigpa venues by DKR.

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          1. And just one more though: You are basing your entire argument on two premisses: (i) that SR was the only perpetrator, and (ii) that he is no longer present. Both of these appear to me far from sound.

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            1. There were never any allegations, not even rumours about other perpetrators. So no, highly unlikely. The structure of Rigpa also doesn’t support it because instructors don’t have much authority teachingwise. There are hardly any old students appointed teachers in their own right that might also abuse power, what made it go epidemic in Shambala.

              And yes, so far SR is holed up somewhere in Asia with no access for students and I haven’t heard about any indication that this might change in the forseeable future.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Dear Mr/Ms Wind Horse, I feel that you and I have gotten it all wrong, and our exchange of views has been reminiscent of two dogs barking up a wrong tree thus far. Although being a Dharma anarchist myself I share your libertarian fascination with rights and freedoms, including the freedom of choice, there is more to Rigpa that just the body of SR’s students. You see, Rigpa is in reality the body of both, customers and purveyors of the Dharma, so to speak. And like with a counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbag, anyone ought to be, and is free to buy one, pedlars of counterfeit goods ought to be, and are prosecuted in the so-called civilised world. Likewise, there is no one in the whole world who truly can, nor should there be anyone who could, stop anyone from following SR or anyone else for that matter. But the society, whether an Eastern or Western one, traditional or modern one, ought to deal harshly with pedlars of counterfeit goods, especially when realisation and liberation is at stake. And just as well that they do.

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                1. So who is to judge whose religion is “genuine” and whose is “counterfeit goods”?

                  Remember, these inner circle people were not hurt by the spiritual aspect going on in Rigpa, the teachings given, they were hurt by the personal, worldly actions and depravedness of SR, that very much opposed what was taught within Rigpa.

                  The basic teachings spread in the seminars, meditation retreats and courses are genuine Tibetan buddhist teachings (I know because I have been attending Rigpa events as well as events by other Tibetan teachers for 25 years). The majority of the vajrayana transmissions were given by renowned teachers like Trulshik Rinpoche, so they are genuine too, have nothing to do with Sogyal.

                  So besides the inner circle abuse, as a vehicle to transmit the tibetan buddhist teachings, Rigpa is functional and legitimate.

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                  1. Dear Wind Horse, (i) “So who is to judge? it is very simple. There is ether a genuine line of transmission or there is not. The results are as they supposed to show up or they are contrary to that. There are many more litmus tests like that in Vajrayana for those who want to follow the genuine path. Do you? (ii) Rigpa is neither functional nor legitimate, so who are you trying to kid here? Kind regards, Marek

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                    1. The teaching lineage (sutrayana and vajrayana) in Rigpa is valid and functional. The sutrayana material because very simply, there is nothing doctrinally incorrect in the materials that are used. And the vajrayana lineage because almost all of it was given not by SR but by lamas like Trulshik Rinpoche.

                      Yes, having the ability to transmit dzogchen or vajrayana while being a partially deluded, possibly exploitatively hedonistic human being is indeed possible. If that wasn’t possible, the teachings (like for example Words of my Perfekt Teacher) wouldn’t warn people so extensively to test the teacher until you can be certain about him.

                      It also is the reason why, while practicing vajrayana, you are strongly recommended to practice the bodhicitta and compassion teachings to not end in a place where you fool yourself about the level of your accomplishments and start acting recklessly by giving up conventional morality BEFORE attaining the sufficient high level of realisation that will make you technically unable to harm someone (a high level that probably not many living teachers have, what to me seems to be the reason for this whole ugly mess)

                      You also have to consider karmic connection. I believe that SR is indeed the valid reincarnation of Terton Sogyal, the problem isn’t a false recognition, the problem is that he never got the dharma education and retreat time someone needs to be properly qualified to be a lineage holder. For that reason “worldly temptation” totally got him hooked when the occasion arose. But since he is the valid reincarnation of Terton Sogyal, the people who committed to him as their root guru are mostly people who inherited this relationship from their previous lives. If you made tantric commitments in previous lives your “freedom of choice” about teachers gets limited in future lives. This is a bit of a shitty situation in case the teacher fucks up and the people who are in it have to make the best of it, because varjayana connections can never ever be quit.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. There is no purpose in persecuting ordinary Rigpa students who after all have a fundamental human right (law) to follow a belief system of their choice, in this case a path of teachings that they have attended for many years.

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  7. @windhorse
    How do you see the Dharmakosha site and the all encompassing path for new students without any mea culpa of SL?
    The only way I think to resque Rigpa is a mea culpa of SL and the students close to him whatever it cost, don’t you think?

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    1. That study program is not for completely new people. Plus you have to become a member to use it and I assume that people wanting to become new members have heard about the problems and have seen all the relevant material like the link to the Lewis Silkin report that is on the Rigpa website, easy to find under “news”

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      1. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can assume that new people know anything about it. I read the TBLD 20 years ago and I looked up Rigpa because of what was written in the back, I never checked the internet. Mind you, it wasn’t well-established back then, but the point is that I didn’t go looking for dirt on the man or organisation. Now I would, but I suspect that people could still read the book, be inspired by it, see some advertising by a Rigpa centre and go in blind. Sogyal may not teach face to face again (I hope) but at the core of the organisation are the same attitudes that enabled the abuse in the first place. As you progress through the levels, at some point the teachings on crazy wisdom, serving the teacher without complaint or criticism, and pure perception with the distorted meaning of abusive behaviour being not actually abuse for so long as it’s coming from a master. All that will still be taught for so long as it’s run by the same people.

        And look at the lamas they are inviting in, look at what they have said. DZK only said that he wouldn’t abuse anyone because he wouldn’t want to risk being caught out – he didn’t say it was wrong. OT said that if a master killed someone it ‘wasn’t a problem’ and that ‘beating increases wisdom.’ And the teacher teaching the DM this summer is the same one that said that the 8 must be possessed by evil spirits. I don’t think we can assume that abuse will not occur again for so long as the teachers feel entitiled to behave as they wish, and for so long as the code of conduct has that nasty little section in the accompanying document about there being a special category for tantric teachers and students where students request the tantric level of instruction and where their applicaiton is taken as ‘consent’. Consent for what is never mentioned. No matter what they say about the main document still applying, it clearly doesn’t, because they have made this special category for the level of relationship at which the abuse happened.

        Yes, people can believe what they want, but if they think they are above the law as OT clearly does, then they are a danger to society, and to those who niavely enter the group thinking it will be beneficial. They probably will not end up being abused by Sogyal, but they will be taught and exposed to many lamas with the same beliefs as Sogyal, and if Rigpa continues using the same cult tactics – and they have shown no inclination to drop their lies and manipulation – then they are a cult, and those joining it will still be in a situation where the dharma is used to manupulate and control. It’s not genuine dharma and it’s not a healthy situation for anyone. Nevertheless, only those running Rigpa can decide their future. We have done what we can to wake them up, and whether or not they will open their eyes is up to them.

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        1. The enabling happened in the inner circle and the people so close to the inner circle that they witnessed the behaviour.
          In a large organisation that was a small minority.

          20 years ago the internet was still a new phenomenon. Today googling things you are interested in has become common practice, most people have mobile phones with the function. These days people google just about anything they get interested in.

          You find Khandro Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche and the late Trulshik Rinpoche somehow problematic?

          Apart from the inner circle that was personally exploited and where there were cult structures, Rigpa has never used cult tactics on it’s normal members, like for example claiming to be the only source of the truth, using emotional pressure to exploit financially or making people psychologically unable to leave.

          SR invited plenty of other, more qualified and abuse free teachers. Anyone dissatisfied with Rigpa could have easily switched allegiances and continued the path with that one. I met quite a few people over the years who did just that. For example there is a group of more or less ex Rigpas who turned to Garchen Rinpoche. I know two people personally who returned to Christianity after a considerable time in Rigpa. There is no harm done to the normal members, physical, monetary or spiritual, It’s totally unproblematic to leave Rigpa.

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          1. You seem to be relentless in your apologetics on behalf of Rigpa. No amount of your whitewashing will remove the ugly stains. No amount of your twisting the reality will win you adherents here. You can of cause believe in Santa Claus, and never grow up, if you want. But please, do not insult your readers discernment with your confused and confusing pronouncements. It will not do.

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            1. I don’t have to believe in Santa Claus, I have seen Rigpa from within (normal attendee, fairly regular, including voluntary work, not inner circle) for 25 years and I have the comparision with other Tibetan dharma organisations because during the whole time I was also attending other tibetan buddhist groups.
              What I write comes from first hand experience with, thanks to regular contact with other groups, rather objective view on the whole thing.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Dear Wind Horse

                In reply to your replies to my post which you have posted above today, 5 October 2018, at 8:54 pm:

                I regret to inform you that (i) you do not seem to understand the concept of a lineage and its mechanics in Vajrayana/DzogChen; (ii) Your claiming that “having the ability to transmit dzogchen or vajrayana while being a partially deluded, possibly exploitatively hedonistic human being is indeed possible” is so off the mark that it defies believe; (iii) Your referencing, in support of your invalid argument, Words of my Perfect Teacher is equally skewed; (iv) Your proposing that “attaining the sufficient high level of realisation […] will make you technically unable to harm someone” is not only not true but a dangerous perversion of the Dharma indeed; (v) Your referencing “karmik connection” and its supposed implications stands in direct contrast to your earlier waxing lyrical about rights and freedom of choice; (vi) You must be one of the very few hard core believers in SR being “indeed the valid reincarnation of Terton Sogyal” left on this planet; Not that it matters whether he is or he is not; (vii) Your claiming that “the dharma education and retreat time” is what “someone needs to be properly qualified to be a lineage holder” is again of the mark (see par. (i) above; (viii) Your proposing that “since he is the valid reincarnation of Terton Sogyal, the people who committed to him as their root guru are mostly people who inherited this relationship from their previous lives” is your sheer fantasy as the rest of your argumentation that follows (plus you give up your cherished “freedom of choice”, yet again; (x) And then the best one as yet, the cherry on the cake so to speak: “Vajrayana connections can never ever be quit” You must be joking! You leave me no choice but to conclude that either you are purposefully mudding up the water, or you are badly (half-ass) trained. Kind regards, Marek

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Indeed, SR is not my vajrayana teacher. I am neither a member of Rigpa (quit the membership about 10 years ago because I was dissatisfied with certain decisions around the Berlin center and events) nor am I a member of any Rigpa practice or study group.

                  Well, apparently you are one of the people who consider tantric buddhism not a buddhist teaching at all.

                  Your past life dharma connections are very much the reason for which lineage, teacher, religious path in general you feel drawn to. And in the vajrayana you EXPLICITLY commit to travelling the path to enlightenment with that chosen teacher AND his or her other students, until liberation. That karmic connection is the reason why you meet them again and again.

                  I mean, how naive are you? Even worldly relationships like marriage and children are based on karmic connections from the past. You simply will NOT come together with someone with who you don’t have the suitable karma with. And then you seriously want to tell me that in every lifetime you can reset your spiritual career to zero and choose freshly as if nothing had ever happened before?

                  Liked by 1 person

                2. Marek in your comment you mentioned Windhorse’s statement : cherished “freedom of choice” : as stated previously, the law makes religious choice for any student/practioner of a belief system/religion a fundamental human right it seems rather ridiculous to ridicule that, and instead only use the law when it suits! we are talking about valid traditions and valid lineages, and what seems to be a judgement of ordinary Rigpa students who just want to study and practice teachings is quite alarming and is well of the beaten track !

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          2. Hi windhorse,
            Please remember it wasn’t just the ‘inner circle’ of students or mere ‘people’ who enabled the abusive behaviour by Sogyal, it was also other lamas who wield great power of influence such as Dzongsar Khyentse.

            Also, you mention other more ‘qualified’ and ‘abuse free’ teachers were invited to teach at Rigpa. You cannot know for a fact that these gurus are not abusing their own ‘close’ students who are also silenced and controlled by samaya and pure perception ‘teachings’. This is why the circle of Lamas close to Sogyal need to be very closely examined indeed.

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            1. You seriously think that Trulshik Rinpoche or Khandro Rinpoche or Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche have abused students? You have some truly ugly fantasy there.

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              1. @windhorse
                Never mentioned those people did I?

                To clarify – Dzongsar Khyentse and Orgyen Topgyal are hugely influential in that circle and a good place to start when identifying enablers and possible perpetrators.

                It is only wise to research thoroughly from whom one would take teachings – and have enough flexibility of mind, humility and genuine open-heartedness to listen to those who out of a wish to prevent others suffering, may speak out on other lamas – from long experience – not ‘fantasy’.

                That’s all I have to say on the matter and I too agree with Moonfire’s statement above.

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                  1. @thewindhorse

                    I certainly DO NOT believe that all of Rigpa’s past and present visiting teachers, such as Trulshik Rinpoche or Khandro Rinpoche or Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, have harmed anybody in any way. I agree with you 100% there. I think everybody in the know agrees with you! They’ve lived up to their titles of Rinpoche; Precious ones indeed!

                    Like most things in life, it’s always the minority who give the majority a bad name. All that I can say is that in my forty years of being around lamas, primarily in Nepal and South India, I’ve found that nearly all of them really are wonderfully inspirational people. Their contentment, equanimity, wisdom and compassion far exceeds that of any folk over here in the UK, where I now live.

                    As for the unethical tiny minority of so called lamas, like Dzongsar for example, due to the global reach and influence of today’s internet age, their highly questionable actions are tainting Tibetan Buddhism faster than ever before, and this has become a very serious problem.

                    For example, look at what Dzongsar did, for the whole world see online! He clearly demonstrated that he is capable of gross manipulation and covering up anything, even Sogyal’s abuse. That much is undeniable. Sogyal and Dzongsar are very close, and I’ve no doubt that they must have struck up a few deals behind the closed doors of Lerab Ling. How else can you explain Dzongsar’s defence of Sogyal during his complete and utter farce at Rigpa earlier this year? So for as long as the likes of him teach at Rigpa, one still has to step into its centres with caution.

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                    1. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, had a child with some south Korean pop star. Whom he later refused to see.
                      She ending up trying to take her own life – he still refuses to see her (and the child).
                      They keep that one very quiet, have covered it up.

                      All these ‘teachers’ are so corrupt. Khandro Rinpoche backs Sogyal and has said nothing about the abuse – so she supports it.

                      Your starry eyed devotion to these people is laughable.

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                    2. “Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, had a child with some south Korean pop star. Whom he later refused to see.
                      She ending up trying to take her own life – he still refuses to see her (and the child).
                      They keep that one very quiet, have covered it up.”

                      Are you the only resource person for this story ?

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                    3. @Hague, are you sure you don’t mean Dzogchen Ponlop? Chokyi Nyima’s a bit old to be sowing his wild oats.

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                    4. @Marge

                      Quite bitchy arn’t we?
                      I’m no troll. But yes, silence people, ban them, shut them up – which is what’s been going on for years hasn’t it?
                      Sorry but the cat is out of the bag now – people will be warned about TB and it’s crazy followers.
                      And if just a few can be saved from its bullshit then it’ll be worth it.

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                    5. Hmm, I do actually recall reading about a young Tibetan Rinpoche marrying an attractive famous asian woman a couple of years ago but can’t remember names.

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                    6. @Hague

                      Your complete and utter BS reminds me of an old tactic politicans often deploy…. when caught redhanded engaging in unethical conduct, their PR teams will deflect unwanted media attention by fabricating some complete and utter BS about their peers.

                      Who is your teacher, Hague? Is it Dzongsar?

                      Or have I got this all wrong, and you’re just another moronic troll who has nothing better to do?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    7. @Marge
                      you’re obliviously not reading my post right are you?
                      I don’t have a ‘teacher’, I’m not buddhist – I was involved with Rigpa for many years, but left some five or six years ago after seeing the bull crap first hand.

                      The only bullshit here, and the only troll is you.
                      Your obliviously a very confused and irate person, sad.

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                    8. @Hague

                      You did the right thing by leaving the cult of Rigpa after “many years”. But as Rigpa does not represent the true face of Tibetan Buddhism, you’re not qualified to talk about Tibetan Buddhism, let alone judge the majority of the lamas you’ve never met.

                      You’re just another moronic troll, Hague……

                      …… or a Dzongsar devotee

                      Either way, you’re full of BS.

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                    9. @marge

                      “you’re not qualified to talk about Tibetan Buddhism” and you are?
                      And how to do you what other lamas I’ve met or not? (After some 20 years in it!)

                      Your stuck up and arrogant attitude speaks volumes of the buddhist devotees.

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                    10. @Hague

                      20 years you say? who are you then Mr Hague? What’s your name? Which so called Rigpa sangha were you in? And what years were they?

                      Or has the cat got your tongue?!

                      Yup, I thought so. You are full of BS.

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                    11. @Hague
                      You wrote :
                      “Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, had a child with some south Korean pop star. Whom he later refused to see.
                      She ending up trying to take her own life – he still refuses to see her (and the child).
                      They keep that one very quiet, have covered it up.”

                      I think that you refer to the pop singer who jumped into a river. I read the story in an Asian newspaper. But she was not Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s girlfriend ! 😲 😃 (this made me laugh !) she was a Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche ex-girlfriend. I don’t know if what she claimed was true, but except for the possible father you are right, it’s what the journalist wrote.

                      Somebody mentioned Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. He is married to a Taiwanese actress and they have a daughter. Since this time he wears lay clothes. There is absolutely no problem with this. People were just surprised because he kept it confidential for a while, which is understandable from both sides. I really appreciate Dzogchen Ponlop. When I had some big problems with some other Tibetans Lamas he was the only one who listened to me kindly and supported me. He is a fair minded and humble person according to my experience. I wish him a lot of happiness with his family.

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                    12. @Rose,
                      I believe what you say about DKR, I already read your story on this blog, and I sympathize with you.

                      As I already said in other commentaries, DKR has also been very unfair and rude with me at a time when I was vulnerable, isolated and needed help, because some Tibetan lamas were creating problems to me .

                      It’s a pity that DKR has this behavior because he is also doing some good things for the Dharma… Luckily for him !

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                  2. @ thewindhorse, has Khandro Rinpoche ever spoken out critically about Sogyal’s abuse? Previously, in one public teaching she effectively victim-blamed a student who’d agreed to meet her teacher, naked down by the swimming pool.

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                    1. @Adamo.

                      Nope, it was reported in a south Korean newspaper several years ago – she was quite well know there.
                      But trying finding out about it now….. silence…
                      Money talks (or this case shuts people up).

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                    2. @Julia – yes, it must have been DzPonlop Rinpoche’s relationship I recall reading about.

                      The possibility that the article is actually referring to Dzongsar Khyentse is interesting as he seems to have ‘ghosted’ numerous female students, myself being one.

                      In posts earlier this year, Pete C mentioned he knew of a couple of other women who DKR turned his back on also. Of course we don’t know the terms of their relationships or any other circumstances. However, I can say that in my experience it was when I tried to bring to light some harmful actions of his sangha and a harmful situation that he turned his back and refused communication. (Contrary to his public statements on how one should never cease dialogue in difficult circunstances!) To clarify, this was after promising to be my vajra guru and protector and to never abandon me no less, so not merely a frivolous, sexual relationship.

                      This obviously constitutes a total violation of trust and the tantric samaya. It is an extremely destructive and shattering experience. Therefore, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear of women attempting self harm following his ‘ghosting’ /cutting them off.

                      So, it seems possible that there could be a pattern of very harmful behaviour by DKR towards his female students that we can identify here…

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                    3. @Rose,
                      I believe what you say about DKR, I already read your story on this blog, and I sympathize with you.

                      As I already said in other commentaries, DKR has also been very unfair and rude with me at a time when I was vulnerable, isolated and needed help, because some Tibetan lamas were creating problems to me .

                      It’s a pity that DKR has this behavior because he is also doing some good things for the Dharma… Luckily for him !

                      Like

                    4. Hi Julia,
                      I was sorry also to read of your suffering at the hands of DKR especially when you were so vulnerable. It seems unskillful at the very least!

                      I have to say though that I had many years of relationship with him as my vajra guru where many promises were made so that the violation of those promises was far more egregious than being ‘rude’ and ‘unfair’.

                      I do wonder how many others he has betrayed at this level?
                      Hearing that a woman felt driven to self harm after DKR shut her out concerns me greatly. There have been other accounts of him doing this such that it seems to be a pattern of behaviour – which is clearly the total antithesis to the conduct of a wise and compassionate teacher or even just a decent human being. It could actually be termed abuse and as Mingyur Rinpoche says the outcome of skillful ‘crazy wisdom’ is not suffering but benefit and abuse is not a teaching tool.

                      So it is difficult for me to say that his benefiting ‘the Dharma’ through his teaching role outweighs the spiritual/psychological harm to those he has treated in that way also due to his position as vajra guru.

                      Liked by 1 person

            2. As I heard HHDL inaugurated the temple in Lerab Ling and gave public teachings to those present (not all Rigpa Sangha …. ) as I understand many lamas of many traditions attended, Gelugpa, Kagyu, etc : so not quite sure what you are suggesting ?

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        2. @ Moonfire

          I have to say that your comment is the most balanced, lucid and realistic assessment of the current state of Rigpa I’ve read here so far. It’s excellent, and I hope many people will read it…..several times, because it’s got much wider implications.

          There’s now a lot of criticism of what appear to be serious structural faults in Tibetan Buddhism, which many people, ex-Buddhists and Buddhists alike, are convinced allowed Sogyal to abuse and flourish unchecked for decades, but if those who practise it can reform it in the real sense, in that it stops being used by some lamas and their inner circles to abuse and exploit, then the main basis for our criticism will no longer exist.

          I think everyone who still has an active interest and hope that this could happen has to adopt your attitude of unflinching, honest analysis: seeing what’s ( still ) there rather than ignoring uncomfortable truths and pretending everything’s just going to be fine now Sogyal’s gone to ground….as if he had functioned for all those years in a vacuum without drawing on beliefs that are actually an integral part of the Vajrayana and the support and endorsement of almost the whole establishment.

          I’ve got no idea if it’s possible, but without your type of clarity I’m convinced it certainly won’t be.

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          1. @ Lauren Auder

            > but if those who practise it can reform it in the real sense

            Yes. We have always had this capacity.

            However, when we we fragment this capacity through lack of communication with one another, then authority always ‘wins’ and we find ourselves in the same cycle.

            The seeds of that authority are ever-present here, with very little power at stake. We are so accustomed to this structure of ownership and debate that we don’t notice it in play or recognize its side effects down the road.

            What happened in the Rigpa Organization was inevitable as over time we collapse and organize into different beliefs about ‘how things are.’ We can watch this in action in our declarations of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are.

            “In spite of this worldwide system of linkages, there is, at this very moment, a general feeling that communication is breaking down everywhere, on an unparalleled scale… What appears is generally at best a collection of trivial and almost unrelated fragments, while at worst, it can often be a really harmful source of confusion and misinformation.”

            “Different groups … are not actually able to listen to each other. As a result, the very attempt to improve communication leads frequently to yet more confusion, and the consequent sense of frustration inclines people ever further toward aggression and violence, rather than toward mutual understanding and trust.”

            — David Bohm

            If our scope is too narrow and short sighted, at best we will be applying a bandage to the deeper problem. Attempts at reform will create further problems and fragmentation. It seems we might consider starting at home and exploring together, perhaps beginning with the compost in which we are intertwined.

            Otherwise our attempt at reforms seem likely to produce further division until the next scandal to emerges in our Buddhist community and in the wider world.

            What might have happened if we’d engaged in this kind of communication 30 years ago? Perhaps, we have the same opportunity now.

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          1. I personally would suggest that SR gave himself colon cancer with his long term lifestyle and if you wish to bring breakage of tantric commitments into play, his own, to the students he mistreated in a way that they not only experienced suffering but also lost faith in the dharma.

            As Khenchen Namdrol goes, Tibetans find it quite okay that lamas are harsh to students, which is traditionally part of that culture and as far as I have seen is tolerated a lot better by the rather mentally robust Tibetans.
            These traditional Tibetan teachers have mostly zero insight into the western mental condition and that for example a lot of traumatised westerners get into buddhism because they seek emotional healing, a situation where any kind of pressure, in whatever form, is totally uncalled for.
            It may also very well be that the khenpo had really ZERO information that SR has for decades sexually molested and exploited female students. They live with their books in their monastery ivory tower and are mostly simply not interested in anything other than their study and teaching.

            The thing with the evil spirits, that’s a cultural belief system about any kind of mental disturbance. You also find this explanation in the texts of Tibetan medicine. You even find it in the story of the buddha, when he was, just before he found liberation, was tempted by the maras.

            Now if you have followed the teachings, you should know that while buddhism acknowledges the existance of nonhuman entities, this also always refers back to one’s own negative emotions/klesha.
            It’s just simply the culturally coded expression that he believes these people have some kind of emotional problem. Which is caused by his cultural conditioning and the fact that he is one of those ivory tower inhabitant who was never even interested in more worldly affairs or western culture.

            With these traditional Tibetan teachers it’s a bit like with western development aid workers who go to some third world country and at times totally botch it because they have no idea about the culture of the people they are dealing with.

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          2. Oh and by the way, that video is complete bullshit.

            The indoctrination/sick group pressure thing was only ever a problem in that inner circle. Those people really HAD an emotional problem to leave when the bad started to outweigh the good, for various reasons.

            I know plenty of people who are definitely neither indoctrinated nor are they somehow pressured with a scare tactic to stay. They could easily switch to other teachers, they are not scared of samaya breakage or other pressuring methods, they decided to stay fully voluntarily.
            You may not like to hear that, but it’s fact. Again, SR is NOT my root guru, I have been critical of a lot of things in Rigpa for a long time. I know a ton of long term Rigpa students quite well so I know what motivates them because we have talked about it.

            The Dalai Lama has not and can not “excommunicate” someone form the buddhist sangha. Nobody can. This isn’t the catholic church. Nor does, like in the catholic doctrin any particular “sin” make you no longer a buddhist.
            Stumbling and slipping back into some kind of unwholesome behaviour while on the path is to be expected on the path. You can not shed habit and karma like a snake sheds it’s old skin just because you took refuge to the buddha and then practiced for a while. Otherwise, why would there be confession rites and monastic vows if reliable non harming behaviour was such an easy task.

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            1. For all the dharmaanarchists here:

              ” The indoctrination/sick group pressure thing was only ever a problem in that inner circle. Those people really HAD an emotional problem to leave when the bad started to outweigh the good, for various reasons.”

              Nope. Everybody attending the retreats had been slowly indoctrinated towards blind believe, blind trust, blind subjugation by Sogyal and his main attendants toward becoming a blind devotee of ” crazy wisdom”.

              Sometimes it feels as the whole Rigpacircus was just maintained to gain new people to be drawn into the club of ” crazy wisdom devotees”.

              Of course did not everybody fall prey to it and many just practiced Dharma. A few things came together hand in hand.

              But its true, it was always easy to leave Rigpa, as I wachted many people to leave before I did.
              Many have left due to this subtil indoctrination and that, as I felt, “sick” behaviour” of many of the Rigpa officials and the inner circle.

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              1. “Nope. Everybody attending the retreats had been slowly indoctrinated towards blind believe, blind trust, blind subjugation by Sogyal and his main attendants toward becoming a blind devotee of ” crazy wisdom”.”

                In no way more than for example Christian religious groups do. Telling people that they will gain some spiritual benefit from attending/following is the core activity of every last religion on this earth.

                What makes a cult a cult is that they add unfair psychological pressure. Like you will go to hell if you don’t believe xy. Or making them isolate themselves from the rest of society and then the threat that the member will lose all familial and social contacts when leaving. Or making them pay ridiculous amounts of money to the group and then people find it hard to leave because they have already invested so much.

                So called “crazy wisdom” was never a big thing in the circles of Rigpa I visit and was never really discussed because absolutely none of them, including me, have ever had much contact to SR or were exposed to his peculiar “behaviours”. So his behavioural problem were never a subject for discussions, it didn’t need an explanation because lacking exposition it was never the big question. Even the people attending dzogchen mandala events from what I have heard (not part of it) didn’t have much personal contact with him and with it the necessity of whitewashing of something they might have experienced.

                For the average attendee the signs that something was not quite right were quite subtle. In hindsight I can say I noticed them because I found even the non abusive interaction with people sometimes “off”. If I look back, these inner circle folks gave me the impression of being rather stressed and servile and so much happy, filled with bodhicitta and compassion for all beings.

                What was also noticeable was that he often put totally unsuitable people in responsible positions. For example he put a deeply narcissistic, unstable woman in charge of sangha care, turning that insensitive, needy, ignorant woman into the person attendees in emotional trouble were supposed to turn to, for help and couseling (she had professional training in some social job, psychologist or something). I had a very very bad experience with her after SR on stage praised her great qualities and abilities. That was the point where I personally started to doubt in SR’s qualification. Because this left only two options. He had no clue how crazy and unsuitable for a job like that she was, which is bad, or he knew it and deliberately put her in that postion as a learning experience, at the cost of people already in emotional suffering, which is equally bad.

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                1. “What was also noticeable was that he often put totally unsuitable people in responsible positions. For example he put a deeply narcissistic, unstable woman in charge of sangha care, turning that insensitive, needy, ignorant woman into the person attendees in emotional trouble were supposed to turn to, for help and couseling (she had professional training in some social job, psychologist or something). I had a very very bad experience with her after SR on stage praised her great qualities and abilities. That was the point where I personally started to doubt in SR’s qualification. Because this left only two options. He had no clue how crazy and unsuitable for a job like that she was, which is bad, or he knew it and deliberately put her in that postion as a learning experience, at the cost of people already in emotional suffering, which is equally bad.”

                  I know, Sangha Care main people had been the hardest nut to crack. I really thought for a couple of years that Sogyal brought so many people in positions they had been totally unqualified for only to push the buttons of his devotees ( including me then).

                  Now, after I had experiences with other Sanghas do I feel that tibetan Lamas have no clue what the people the put in positions really do and do not.

                  But Sangha care, that person you mentioned is a very good example for Sogyals uncaring attitude towards his followers.

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                  1. This inadequate sangha care person wasn’t German, she was Dutch, apparently had enough money to spend tons of time in LL, also “worked at” the other European reterats like Kirchheim where she “resided” in a room in the hotel on SR’s floor, where my bad experience happened.
                    If you have been involved in the mid 00 years and attended these international events like Kirchheim but also LL you may know who I mean.

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                    1. Whatever her name is, there had been many more Gretels like her in Rigpa.

                      To sad a human being but what a mess when given a wildcard in buddhist Sanghas.

                      A archeotype, or how thats called ?

                      I met that kind of people in all those Sanghas I had the fortune to know a little better.

                      Now I have that rule: If there is more than one person like this in a powerful position within a Sangha, I choose not to apply for membership.

                      Guess how many Sanghas are left over ?

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                    2. Try Garchen Rinpoche. In the center here there is a very nice Tibetan lama running things, the nuns are nice too and the people working the office etc are also nice. The sponsor who bought that whole building is also a nice person. If there are crazies, they are not in any positions I have seen.
                      Very pleasant atmosphere, peaceful, non demanding, calm and friendly.

                      For that reason it has become my lama/group of choice, even if they are Kagyu (I don’t mind Kagyu at all, but I feel no desire to do Kagyu vajrayana)

                      Like

                2. Sogyal is a menace to society.

                  Bring him back to France and put him before a jury of sane, ordinary, ethical people. They will be dumbfounded what happened there (like the rest of us are). Don’t let him play the cancer card- he can easily get any treatments in France if he even needs it. I question if he is harming someone right now in Thailand or wherever he is hiding and I question where he got the money that is funding his stay there. And he still has the ability to teach and psychologically harm over the phone or internet. He is a menace.

                  As to what he built through lying, manipulation, conning, deceit, and serious abuse.. well a rotten person can only built a rotten empire that became a cult, so just shut the whole thing down. Not a dharma place. And stay clear of his pals…

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              2. Forgot to say, the reason why this “offness” didn’t alarm me more is that over my time in Tibetan buddhism, none of the lamas I had personal interaction with did so in the “normal” way you expect from people around you.
                Even with totally saintly ones like Tulku Pema Wangyal, Garchen Rinpoche or Choden Rinpoche, certain expectations you may have with “normal” folks won’t be met. I found all of them markedly “different”, so the differentness of SR wasn’t alarming me that much, or I rationalized it away as personal projection of mine, which such reactions can indeed be (but were not in the case of me and SR)

                As I said, I started to doubt when I had first hand experienced how he harmed people in emotional need turning to spiritual care by putting that totally inadequate person in charge of it.

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              3. @Adamo

                “Everybody attending the retreats had been…”

                Ethnologist Marion Dapsance wrote her doctoral thesis about Rigpa’s fraudulent ways. When she once expressed skepticism about Sogyal’s teachings in a Rigpa discussion group, she was accused of not having a “connection” to him.”

                “The pressure to comply didn’t only come from above, says Ben: “The real pressure comes from the sides.”

                https://bit.ly/2FSOO1P

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            2. @thewindhorse, I was only in Rigpa for two years, twenty years ago, never in the inner circle, but even then, I saw plenty to put up red flags. There wasn’t a single teaching, both in New York and Lerab Ling, where we didn’t have to sit through a rant from Sogyal against someone. Looking back, I see that as abusive to all who passively watched.

              And in Lerab Ling, he made quite a show of keeping us on edge and vigilant, calling “teachings” out of the blue, “teachings” that began with attendants running frantically to meet his every command. Once we watched him eat yoghurt in his undershirt while he raged about some unclear fault that we all had. I was in emotional trouble at the time and that session did me no good at all.

              And he also made quite a show of demonstrating to students that there was a inner circle. Twice I have seen him pull his supposed “longtime” students in close (one had only been there as long as I) and letting the rest of us view from the outside some secret devotional thing. There is a lot of power when an inner circle is set up in that way.

              So these are not normal or healthy behaviors and normalizing them was part of the problem. The act of normalizing them was something that we all did– not good for those who were being abused and not good for ourselves watching in silence.

              Cults start when we start blurring those lines between acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors, when we start compromising our ethical framework. So I also disagree with your idea that there was some healthy place within Rigpa.

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              1. @ Joanne

                Your description sounds so familiar. Embarrassingly, I put up with it for fifteen years……and I was one of those in the front line.

                Your point about everybody being abused is very important, because absolutely everyone witnessed abuse and everyone was affected to different degrees. I suspect if people don’t grasp that it’s because they haven’t yet fully understood what happened to them personally and are still ambivalent about Sogyal.

                The effects of their experiences may take time to surface, but they will eventually.

                I think the words from your penultimate paragraph are so apt they should be included in all Rigpa material as a motto beneath the vajra logo:

                “Rigpa – normalizing unhealthy behaviour.”

                Like

      2. A friend wanted to do this course and attend SD but there are prerequisite foundation courses before doing that which seems very responsible and that has been for a number of years

        Like

  8. I am dismayed to see that Rigpa are still showing recent teachings of SR at their events. I was disappointed at the Australian retreat in January that they showed recent teachings and actually raised my concerns by saying that in ANY organisation someone who had allegations of (serious) abuse against them would be stood down until a formal investigation was conducted. Well, that investigation has now been completed and SR was found guilty of abusing students. He should never be allowed to teach again. I am horrified that Rigpa seem to be behaving like it’s business as usual. The way they have responded shows their lack of compassion for victims and their lack of awareness of the seriousness of the situation. I am one of those students who is extremely grateful to SR for all he taught me, but that does not mean that he gets a free pass and is not accountable for his actions and the damage that he has caused to others. Rigpa needs a damn good shake up and a total clean out of the organisation because otherwise it is doomed to repeat the same failures as it has in the past…

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    1. I just want to clarify: are you saying that you have seen teachings of SR being used at events since the publication of the report? Or are you only referring to the January retreat? If you have heard of his teaching being used in the last month, or any new recordings of teachings, that would also be good to know. Thanks.

      Like

    1. Can anyone who speaks French give a summary? Was that maybe about financial irregularities? If there was a search warrent surely there must be an indictment?

      Like

      1. Here is a translation of the first article, which concern the raid. (Google translation with some corrections). https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/occitanie/herault/herault-temple-bouddhiste-lerab-ling-roqueredonde-sa-communaute-perquisitionnes-1546754.html

        (Title)
        Hérault: the Buddhist temple Lerab Ling of Roqueredonde and its community raided

        (Resume)
        The tranquility of the Buddhist community and the Lerab Ling retreat center in Roqueredonde in the Herault was again undermined. In mid-September, the police raided the site on Larzac. They found a lot of cash and collected testimonials.

        (article)
        A fortnight ago, a search was conducted in Roqueredonde, within the walls of the Buddhist temple.
        The gendarmes heard several people and seized accounting and notarized documents.

        They also found in a safe of the community, a large sum of money in cash, several tens of thousands of euros, apparently justified in the accounts of the center.
        Banknotes in euros and dollars, also for several tens of thousands of euros, as well as gold, were also found in a temple accommodation. All the cash has been seized.

        (subtitle) Rumors and testimonies, without complaint

        For several years, the Buddhist center of Roqueredonde faces rumors and testimonies concerning alleged physical and / or mental violence, even rape, on former members of the Lerab ling community.
        Sogyal Rinpoche, the founding Lama of the Hérault center, is specifically accused of physical and sexual assault by former followers.

        To date, a gendarmerie investigation carried out in 2016-2017 over a year, has collected information and testimonies from the 90s on this case. However, no official complaint has been lodged either against Sogyal Rinpoche or against the temple.
        The investigation file is on the office of the Prosecutor of the Republic of Montpellier, since February 2018.

        Does this search augur for judicial action or not against the temple? Will there be additional auditions?
        So many questions that remain unresolved for the moment.

        The founder of the Lodève center has been removed from the management of the site. He left the temple for about a year and is living in Thailand, where he would be treated for cancer.

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        1. Sorry, an other correction of Google translation : At this time (not To date), a gendarmerie investigation carried out in 2016-2017 over a year etc…

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  9. What is Khandro Rinpoche’s stance on this? There has been no word on her, yet she is on the vision board. Does anyone feel to comment on this?

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  10. I believe the name of the Dutch ‘Rigpa therapist’ is Grete de Wit-Weiss. She’s seen in this documentary, together with her son Bram de Wit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB7u1zqEdUY

    I’ve not been able to corroborate that she’s a registered psychotherapist or a clinical (health care) (neuro)psychologist in the Dutch BIG-register, nor that she has been registered as having an academic degree in psychology by the NIP (Dutch Institute for Psychologists).

    It may well be true that Grete de Wit-Weiss is liable to criminal prosecution and/or civil liability herself for the way she took Rigpa members under her ‘care’ as ‘Rigpa therapist’.

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    1. I could have mentioned the name but I explicitly wanted not to.

      Her behaviour in the time she was acting in that sangha care role got the closest to abusive I have seen in members being, because what she did was not exactly at a verbally horrid level techically, but she did it to people in very emotionally vulnerable situations.

      Interesting that she is indeed not a psychologist, as was claimed. Thank you for finding out! In my opinion, from the behaviour I have observed and communication style, she is very probably herself severely mentally ill, may have a personality disorder, Borderline or similar.

      Now if she spread the fairly tale in Rigpa that she was a psychotherapist or psychologist, they never asked the diploma. But why they believed her is a total riddle to me. Maybe because she has money (she apparently bought her way into the upper echelons)

      I have to ask my dzogchen mandala contacts if she is still in LL.

      Like

    2. As she is German, she might be registered as a therapist there. She has been trained in some therapeutic method, and in Germany it is not at all necessary to have studied psychology for that. If you have learned a technique and find clients who are willing to pay you that’s it.

      Like

  11. Hallo Tahlia, how to unsubscribe??…don’t want to be notified by new comments…anymore. But the unsubscribe link does not work…

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  12. @ thewindhorse

    My translation skills are very basic, but this will give you a rough idea:

    A fortnight ago, a search was conducted in Roqueredonde, within the precincts of the Buddhist temple.
    The police took statements and seized accounts and legal documents*.

    They also discovered in a safe belonging to the community a large sum of money in cash, amounting to several tens of thousands of Euros which was apparently recorded in the accounts. . Also gold and cash both in Euros and Dollars also amounting to tens of thousands was also found in accommodation at the site. All the cash has been seized.

    For several years, the Buddhist center of Roqueredonde has been the subject of rumours and testimonies submitted to the police concerning alleged physical and mental violence, even rape, on former members of the Lerab ling community.
    Sogyal Rinpoche, the founding Lama of the Herault center, has been specifically accused of physical and sexual assault by former followers.

    To date, a police investigation carried out in 2016-2017 over about a period of a year, has collected information and testimonies related to this case dating as far back as the 90s. However, to date no official complaint has been lodged either against Sogyal Rinpoche or against the temple.

    The dossier relating to this inquiry has been with the office of the Prosecutor of the Republic of Montpellier, since February 2018.

    Does this search mean there will judicial action or not against the temple? Will there be additional interviews? So many questions that remain unresolved for the moment.

    The founder of the Lodève centre has been removed from his position , having left the temple about a year ago and is living in retirement ** in Thailand, where he is being treated for cancer.

    *The French says literally “notarized” that is documents that have been signed by a notary or solicitor.

    **This can also mean “on retreat” but it’s not clear to me which meaning is intended.

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  13. This is the other article, it’s by Elodie Emery a journalist who went undercover to Lerab Ling to see for herself and has also written elsewhere in the French press about Sogyal. I’ve corrected the Google version a bit, the tone in French is quite flippant and dark.

    MeTooGuru: Nothing to upset the Dalai Lama
    By Elodie Emery,
    published on the 05/10/2018 at 16:00

    Disciples abused by Buddhist masters? “Nothing new there,” said the Dalai Lama dismissively during a meeting …

    What’s great about sexual abuse is its universal character. Around the world, people from all walks of life are imposing their will on others and taking advantage of their power to abuse them. The aggressors target men, women and even children, they are rich and poor, young and old, blacks, whites or Arabs; Sexual crimes and offenses function as links, they are what human beings have in common.*

    At first sight, one would have thought that Buddhism was going to stay away from the party. That advocating benevolence and compassion did not fit well with the basic principles of sexual assault. Well, if only! Buddhist masters don’t leave priests the monopoly of the perversion, they also use their spiritual ascendancy to abuse their followers. Not all, of course. But enough for victims to organize themselves, write a petition and launch in early September the hashtag #MeTooGuru on social networks.

    Their idea was to alert the grand master of Tibetan Buddhism: the Dalai Lama. Taking advantage of his visit to the Netherlands, a group of twelve people from ten different countries asked to be received to share the actions of different masters. The meeting took place on September 14, as reported by a few media outlets.

    The Dalai Lama, this great sage

    Here again, the naive would have thought that the Dalai Lama, world figure of wisdom and kindness, Nobel Peace Prize-winner, would fall off his chair when he learned that teachers of Tibetan Buddhism were raping their followers, most often claiming it was to help them gain enlightenment. But oh no: “I was aware of all this,” he told Dutch television, “nothing new in that,” adding that he known about the charges for twenty-five years.

    In France, it was indeed in the 90s that the first voices were raised against Sogyal Rinpoche, master of international fame and author of a spiritual bestseller The Tibetan Book of Life and Death, who despite this nevertheless opened a retreat centre in the Herault, located in the mountains an hour’s drive from Montpellier. The Dalai Lama, obviously not bothered by all Sogyal’s accumulated scandals went in person to the inauguration of the site, in 2008. It was only in July of this year, and after yet another scandal broke , that the spiritual master of Tibetan Buddhism finally publicly disowned the guru.

    Conclusion – not very inspiring – Buddhism is the same as all other religions when it comes to Omerta.

    *Really not sure exactly what she’s saying here in the original French, other than it’s a common experience.

    Like

    1. @ Lauren Auder

      “What’s great about sexual abuse is its universal character. Around the world, people from all walks of life are imposing their will on others and taking advantage of their power to abuse them.”

      You are one of the few here to go wider and include all of Buddhism. This article goes wider still and points to the universality of abuse and also expands the definition of abuse to “imposing […] will on others.”

      Despite our best intentions, If we don’t go wide enough, history shows we simply cause those power systems to further entrench. The United States now has 1/3 of its male justices accused of sexual abuse. Despite fierce, organized opposition, it seems that the win/lose scenario just strengthens those being fought against. We see this globally and in our own situation, too.

      At what point will we (seriously) look for another way to approach our shared predicament?

      Regards,

      Rick

      Like

      1. @ Rick New

        Hi Rick, I’m not sure what that would be or what you mean. For example: you can have a Judge accused of abuse or a judge that isn’t, what’s the third alternative?

        Is our predicament really “shared”? Victims of abuse don’t share their predicament with their abusers, the dead victims don’t share any kind of predicament with their killers either and so on.

        Outside the win/lose what are you referring to? Nobody wins? Nobody loses? and everybody agrees and gets on just fine. That’s an idealized imaginary state that’s never going to happen is it? We don’t have any alternative but to stand up to wrong and injustice as best we can, because without resistance those things will not just become entrenched but crush us completely.

        Of course in a perfect world education might help but our species is naturally predatory and fighting for resources because our population is increasing exponentially in a rapidly changing climate that we’ve disrupted. What’s your solution?

        Like

        1. @ Lauren Auder

          Thanks for your email 🙂

          Trying to build off what you’ve written…

          “What’s great about sexual abuse is its universal character. Around the world, people from all walks of life are imposing their will on others and taking advantage of their power to abuse them.”

          “Is our predicament really “shared”? Victims of abuse don’t share their predicament with their abusers”

          You wrote:
          “Your point about everybody being abused is very important, because absolutely everyone witnessed abuse and everyone was affected to different degrees. I suspect if people don’t grasp that it’s because they haven’t yet fully understood what happened to them personally”

          Again, trying to build off what you’ve written.

          You want folks to see that it is the system of power called Buddhism that lends itself to abuse. This universal character of power does affect us all and we can go wider than religion and systems of power.

          When you make this move to go wider, you encounter a lot of resistance from many. When in the Rigpa Organization it was, “those are other types of teachers, not ours”, then it becomes, “OK it was our teacher, but it isn’t everyone teaching,” it isn’t all religions, it isn’t all systems of power, etc.

          Each wider step, encounters a resistance to making that step, but the failure to go wider has serious consequences. When you suggest all of Buddhism is suspect, you aren’t meaning to ignore the instances of abuse, you are pointing out that if we don’t go far enough, the abuse will continue.

          I’m not proposing a solution, yet clearly we have not touched the deeper causes of our situation and just doing things the same old ways isn’t proving very effective.

          “We don’t have any alternative but to stand up to wrong and injustice as best we can, because without resistance those things will not just become entrenched but crush us completely.”

          I’m not proposing anything imaginary, just that we face what the current approach has brought us: an abuser in the White House and on the Supreme Court, the Vatican keeps the priests coming, as does Hollywood with its moguls, etc., the list is endless. The type of resistance we employ seems to be strengthening those we struggle against. To say “what else can we do?” seems like giving up and not claiming responsibility for the capacity we have.

          We all built the Rigpa Organization and many here will be part of building the next organization. When we don’t understand “What Happened?” that organization will generate the same power structure out of which abuse will emerge.

          We had the power then, we have it now, but if we use this power just to topple an organization or two, more will take their place and we’ll continue to participate because we don’t see the roots in our authoritarian structures.

          Best regards,

          Rick

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          1. @Lauren Auder – aka Pete C

            Although I do not trust Sogyal or the cult of Rigpa one little bit, this newspaper article is utter trash and evidently written by a tabloid journalist who knows very little about His Holiness the Dalai Lama, yet she makes moronic sweeping generalisations, thereby ripping stuff way out of context.

            I mean, honestly, as if His Holiness the Dalai Lama doesn’t care….
            OF COURSE HE FUCKING CARES!!!!!!! HE ALSO CARES ABOUT PEOPLE PRACTISING THE TEACHINGS THAT ALLEVIATE SUFFERING!!!!

            The only person who doesn’t care is you, Pete. You’ve already admitted that you’re not a practitioner and that you think it’s a waste of time. Your only intention is to bring down Buddhism, ever since Sogyal seriously pissed you off. And since you had invested so much of your time in the cult of Rigpa, you now can’t separate Sogyal or Rigpa from Buddhism per se, and your contempt now just moronically leeches out towards anything Buddhist.

            Your personal little crusade to destroy Buddhism is not helping anybody Pete, as you continue to tenaciously incite in-fighting by spreading your out of context sweeping generalisations and BS.

            WAKE UP READERS !!!!

            PETE IS HARMING THE VERY THING THAT CAN BRING BENEFIT

            Like

          2. @ Rick New

            I understand what you’re saying Rick, but I’m afraid I don’t have any solutions that haven’t been proposed and used before: basically resistance to structures that are by their nature abusive or have become so over time.

            I think that sadly you’re right, that there are other equally destructive organisations or individuals waiting to take the place of each one that’s toppled: Trump is a horror show but Mike pence could be worse because he’s more intelligent ( not saying much I know) If Kavanaugh hadn’t been confirmed I’m sure the GOP had a line of equally corrupt middle-aged men as condidates going round the block. It’s depressing.

            But there are plenty of things that have happened through history that we can take as encouragement: The end of feudalism in Europe ( mostly the Black Death there I suppose) the separation of Church and State, the end of Slavery, the defeat of Fascism, the toppling of authoritarian regimes, the establishment of Democracy, the global spread of secularism, rationality and science, the extraordinary advances in medicine and technology, the eradication of diseases and so on. None perfect or definitive and all provisional but far better than the previous alternatives.

            I can’t think of anything worthwhile of that nature that’s not involved a conflict of some sort and I’m not able to see that resistance automatically strengthens what’s being resisted but I suppose it can seem like that temporarily.

            I’d be interested to hear what this “capacity we have” that you mention means to you.

            Like

    2. “MeTooGuru: Nothing to upset the Dalai Lama
      By Elodie Emery,
      published on the 05/10/2018 at 16:00”

      Can I ask for a link ?

      kind regards

      Like

  14. It’s a month since the Lewis Silkin report came out and as far as I know all the ‘senior individuals within Rigpa who were aware of at least some of these issues and failed to address them, leaving others at risk’ are still there. We have been told that three of them are standing down from their governance positions, but that they will still be there to ‘support.’ We shouldn’t forget that the risks others were left to face were found by the report to include ‘serious physical, sexual and emotional abuse’ from Sogyal Lakar.

    Rigpa hasn’t implemented any of the report’s recommendations. They say they will ‘act on’ the report’s recommendations, but they know that doesn’t commit them to anything.

    Sogyal Rinpoche himself is still promising to be the ‘teacher.’ He says he doesn’t ‘recognise’ himself in the descriptions of abuse. What does that mean?

    How can Rigpa have any viable future without separating itself from the abuser and the facilitators of abuse?

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  15. Oh, dear……my just replying to someone’s request for translations of the articles someone else posted links to, has provoked another….shall we say: ‘intemperate’ response, some of it in capitals no less, which strikes me as the online equivalent of shouting at the top of your voice.

    This doesn’t bother me at all, but I hope people who value the free flow of information and exchange of opinions, even if it’s information and opinions they vehemently disagree with, won’t be discouraged from posting anything they think relevant here by the prospect of this kind of clumsy attempt at censorship, which they might find intimidating.

    If anyone finds it unpleasant, it’s good to remember that it may not be as personal as it seems, sometimes people are like dogs, they bark most when they’re afraid.

    Like

    1. @Pete – aka Lauren Auder

      Everybody who has politely and passively spoken to you about your grossly misleading generalizations, your barrage of obstinate BS becomes even stronger.

      I exhausted all passive avenues with you months ago before you got banned for doing exactly what you’re doing now. THAT IS WHY I SHOUT

      (Tahlia, I haven’t a clue why Pete isn’t banned again, particulalry as this blog advertises its facebook page called, “Dharma Protectors”. Pete’s sheer number of verbose ramblings and incessant anti-buddhist BS is causing your blog to fast lose its credibility.)

      Like

      1. @ Marge

        Hi Marge,

        Though I disagree with much of what Pete writes, I’ve found him to be one of the more open and thoughtful ‘members’ of our little group.

        The tendency to discourage folks from speaking outside a certain range of discussion tends to go on in any group, just as it did in the Rigpa Organization. There is a pretty wide range of the way this happens, from the grosser “ban the fool!” to the more subtle versions “what has this got to do with the post?” asked in a rhetorical way.

        As these various approaches discouraging wider ranges of dialogue played an important function in what went on and continues to go on in the Rigpa Organization, we might consider going the other way here, i.e., encouraging a wider range of voices and trying to become more curious about why each of us might be expressing various points of view.

        This requires good faith in one another and can lead to unexpected revelations and movements of a group. This unstuck quality is what distinguishes a healthy group from one with more cult like tendencies.

        Steelmanning is a simple, but difficult technique to encourage this deeper listening.

        https://bit.ly/2ORugPj

        Regards,

        Rick

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        1. And to add here that online textual dialog is the most difficult form of dialogue. Much can be cleared up very quickly by spending just a short time in real time conversation. A combination of text and conferencing could add a lot of lubrication here.

          I think some of the ‘leaders’ here do have more direct conversations ‘offline’, but I’m not sure. Regardless, expanding that approach to everyone could help with many of the rough edges and perhaps generate positive change.

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        2. Hi Rick, Thank you for providing that link; vary valuable information indeed. I am going to take the ideas expressed there on board. Regards, Marek

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          1. Its really a useful link. Thanks for it.

            Unnecessary to add that, according to my own stupid opinion, it is part of the path of the Buddha to apply such things as honest and truthful speech with a mindful attidude is imperative or at least vital to ones own speech and mind.

            That goes to practioners of any level, even the most sophisticated tibetan and western blatherers.

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        3. @Rick

          Thanks, Rick. I do agree with you.

          But one thing that I can’t accept is that Pete (Lauren/Marek) will not listen. Come on, Rick… How many attempts have you made to discuss the small yet profound nuances with Pete, and how far has it got you? Pete won’t listen to anybody, he’s notorious for it. And of course I respect and accept that it’s his choice, as he has a right to that choice. But I can not respect and accept that this blog benefits from his incessant amount of verbose anti-Buddhist ramblings and scaremongering, when this blog is supposed to be Buddhist.

          Like

          1. @ Marge

            Hi Marge,

            Thanks for your post.

            I’ve found Pete to be quite communicative. His position hasn’t shifted much, but he is willing to spend a lot of time going into why he’s writing what he’s writing.

            As we all know, communication is arduous and it takes time. Online communication via text seems 10x more fraught with potential for misunderstandings. There is a lot the owners of the blog could do to mitigate this, but those suggestions are usually met with silence. I’m not sure why, perhaps we are still afraid of one another?

            We miss each other here a lot and we missed each other when in the Rigpa Organization. If we’d deeply communicated with one another in the Rigpa Organization days, I think the odds of “What Happened?” happening would have been greatly diminished. As we move forward, communication still seems a much more important action than who we can topple and who we can put up on another pedestal.

            I appreciate your comments here Marge (maybe not the banning ones! :-)) but Pete isn’t a troll or trying to be disruptive just for the sake of it. Like you, he’s trying to be helpful, as it seems we all are.

            Regards,

            Rick

            Like

            1. “There is a lot the owners of the blog could do to mitigate this, but those suggestions are usually met with silence.”

              The mods aren’t babysitting this blog every minute. To complain you have to send them a direct message.

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              1. Thanks, Catlover. I think they’ve heard me 🙂 At one point I had a call scheduled with one of the leaders here, but she cancelled a few times and we never crossed the threshold.

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      2. Hi Marge, It is the continuous presence of people like you on these pages who make this blog’s credibility questionable at best. As someone insane enough to deny my very existence, in spite of repeated requests from me to ask around, your should look in a mirror. Kind regards, Marek PS What is happening here with an old fashioned exchange of views, putting forward arguments and counter arguments, fact based search for truth? Even more, where is the spirit of Buddhism you seem to adhere to?

        Like

        1. @Pete/Marek/Lauren

          You are throwing the baby out with the bath water, and no matter who tries to discuss this with you, or how they approach it, your obstinance is unmoving. The problem was that it was sheer number of your posts that swamped the threads earlier this year, which caused you to get banned, and now that you’ve sneaked back in under a plethora of pseudonyms, I fear it’s happening again… causing any positive dialogue to disintergrate into anti-Buddhist propaganda and scaremongering BS.

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          1. @Marge

            I can confirm that Marek is both real, and is a different person to Pete. You should be able to see that they are not even the same nationality, from their style alone.

            As am I, for what it’s worth.

            I am a supporter of HHDL, but I absolutely welcome his actions being questioned.

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            1. Hi RH, I thank you. I feel relieved. I will not need to start practicing “no-self” then. And yes, I am not British, though I used to live amongst Brits here and there some years ago. I am Polish, born and raised there. Kind regards, Marek

              Like

      3. Hi Thalia, Would you please state for the record that I am a real person? Perhaps Marge would have one less worry to worry about? Kind regards, Marek 🙂

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  16. Hey, True Believers, and anyone else who likes a challenge!

    My challenge for y’all is to look up ANY lama you respect and see who they are connected to. It’s all written openly in their bios, since they generally love to tell you about who their teachers were and where they received their empowerments. When you start looking them up (on their own websites) and reading about how they are all linked together, it may slowly sink in that they are part of a Good Ol’ Boy Network. You don’t need Chinese propaganda or any kind of anti-Tibetan Buddhist crusaders to come to this conclusion because the lamas do a great job of exposing themselves. It also might be helpful to draw a “family tree” which shows how all the lamas are connected to each other.

    A bit of digging into Tibetan history is also very helpful. You don’t need to read the Chinese government propaganda version either. Read Tibetan history from just about any scholar or any source from someone who has done extensive research, (regardless of whose “side” they are on), and you will see how corrupt the Tibetan system was.

    Hang around a Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana sangha for a while and watch how they act around their lama, how the lama treats people in general, or listen to what the lama’s close students say about what goes on behind the scenes. (People always will gossip, even when you don’t ask for it!) They will also tell you about what goes on in India and Nepal too, not just in the West! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what kind of a system they have and that it has always been a problem, even before TB came to the West. Tibetans in general are great people, and I’m not saying they are worse than anyone else, but the ordinary folks gave their power away to corrupt, old religious men for too long and this is what happens to any society that gives away their rights. That’s why we in the West had better keep our eyes open and not let it happen in our own culture. Take the blinders off and realize that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and this applies even in Tibetan Buddhism, whether it is transplanted to the West, or anywhere else. It also applies to any other religion or political ideology as well.

    I haven’t been posting here for a while. I choose not to get into the discussion, but I wanted to add my two cents because of all the “True Believers” here who feel their religion is being “attacked” by pro-Chinese spies, or whatever label you want to put on the critics. Sheesh! Who needs Chinese spies, lol? The lamas are doing a great job of destroying their own reputation!!!

    No, I am not Pete pretending to be me, lol! 😀

    Like

    1. Of course the now middle age or slightly older generation is all linked together. After the Chinese invasion only a limited number of really top masters escaped. And those, now dead, were mainly responsible for the training of the current generation.

      In the Nyingma school that’s Dilgo Khyentse, Dudjom Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche and a few others and nearly all the now active lamas of the Nyingma lineage have those as their teachers.

      One has to say that the opportunities to do long term retreats for these contemporary exile lamas in training was by far worse than it used to be in old Tibet, where each important teacher has a decade or so of retreat time to them before becoming the lineage holder. Read the biographies in Masters of Meditation and Miracles, how much time the important teachers used to spend in meditation retreat. And read the complaints of Dzongsar Khyentse about the corrupting upbringing of tulkus today.

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      1. Dear Sir, Which lama do you have in mind exactly when you reference Dudjom RInpoche here? Kind regards, Marek Czepiec

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    2. Hi Catlover, I completely agree. I would like to add one more thought to the above. TB had an old standing rule: you were either a practitioner, or a sponsor. I can expand on that if need be. We in the West did not have, and still do not have, such a division of Buddhist labour as it were. Thus, the vast majority of Tibetan lamas see the so-called Western practitioners as sponsors, even when the said practitioners see themselves otherwise. Again, I could expand on that, but one could practically write a book on the subject, and still not exhaust it. All I want to point out to is the existence of yet another source of many perversions we are witnessing today within TB, as it relates to the West, and Westerners (namely the commodifying of the Dharma), whether in the West or in the East. And those who will cry: “we are not being charged for the teachings; these are donations” would do well to see the depth of the drama we all have gotten ourselves into, the lamas involved included. And to those who will say: “it is the West (capitalism) and everything is a commodity here, and is treated as such”, I want to point out that Tibetans started this process of commodifying the Dharma themselves (for example Trungpa comes to mind). Kind regards, Marek

      Like

    3. @ Catlover

      Hi Catlover, I’ve been wondering where you were recently, it’s good to read one of your posts again.
      ( I was going to compliment you on it but I’d better not as that definitely would get you accused of being one of my aliases)

      As you can see it’s been getting a bit weird and McCarthyite here, so I can understand why you wanted to take a break. Anyway I’m relieved to hear you’re not me, this multiple personality disorder was getting out of control.

      Like

      1. Hi Pete and Catlover, I fully subscribe to your joy Pete seeing your return Catlover, as well as to your worries Pete about what my ensue (vis-a-vis McCarthy at al.) Marek Czepiec (aka nobody in particular but his worn out old self) 🙂 PS Should I start practicing no-self? 🙂

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    4. @catlover
      Well I’m Buddhist and just anti abuse. It is so unfortunate that a few rotten apples have abused their power but I still find the dharma precious and HHDL and many others precious. Were you trying to mock those of us who are Buddhist practitioners in calling us “True Believers”? I question your motivation.

      I know you never found a lasting connection to a teacher and I’m sorry for that though sounds like you attended teachings in different groups and it also sounds like you like to read a lot and dig up dirt. But if you were face to face with someone like the Karmapa what would you tell him? That you read he was connected to such and such person therefore you don’t have any respect for him? Would you show him the tree you drew?! Maybe I just cannot understand your point.

      Buddhism is such a personal path. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be Buddhist and sure the feudal structure is outdated and needs to change. But perhaps you and Pete and any others who are so anti Buddhist should convene and start a blog about it? It is not helpful for the rest of us (who just want to stop the abuse of a few bad apples) to read such comments.

      Attacking the dharma though is like attacking the sky and your own true nature. There is not much benefit in that…

      Like

      1. Hi Concerned,

        Thanks for your message.

        I too am a practicing Buddhist and find the criticisms of Buddhism to be quite helpful.

        Don’t you think it might be possible that if we’d allowed more criticism while in the Rigpa Organization we might have worked with the situation much earlier, perhaps stopped a lot of suffering?

        Many regards,

        Rick

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        1. @rick
          No I really don’t think anti Buddhist sentiment with sweeping generalizations which paint it all black would have helped the abused students. Nor do I find it helpful here – but perhaps if they had their own blog where they could vent it might make them feel better. Still that is just more suffering in this already difficult world.

          I don’t think Rigpa is open to any kind of criticism as look at the legal report and their response to that. But of course previously if people felt safe to speak out and if Rigpa listened to and properly responded to abuse allegations earlier then of course it would have played differently. I think now we see the best is to report abuse immediately to the police.

          @Marge
          I feel your pain sister. And I appreciate your efforts. I too feel this blog has shifted.

          Like

          1. Hi Concerned,

            Thanks for your message.

            “But of course previously if people felt safe to speak out and if Rigpa listened to and properly responded to abuse allegations earlier then of course it would have played differently.”

            “No I really don’t think anti Buddhist sentiment with sweeping generalizations which paint it all black would have helped the abused students.”

            The above seems like a strawman argument. I don’t think Pete would agree with your assessment, but I might be wrong, we could find out.

            Maybe we could try the steelman argument with Pete. Let’s try working together to spell out his arguments as clearly as possible until he says, “yes, that’s what I’m saying!” Then, let’s see what holds up with his arguments and offer a challenge to what we feel is missing?

            Or we could try that approach with you, or me, or Marge. What do you think?

            Regards,

            Rick

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            1. @concerned,

              Also, I wasn’t necessarily saying YOU are a hot headed “True Believer” or an “Ostrich True Believer” just because you’re a practicing Buddhist. I don’t know you well enough to judge your “True Believer” status. 😀 Practicing a religion in of itself does not necessarily make one a “True Believer” in that sense, so I didn’t mean to insult all practicing Buddhists.

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      2. @Concerned,

        I wasn’t mocking ALL Buddhists as “True believers,” just the ones who get all hot headed and lose their meditative cool when they think Buddhism is being “attacked” and go off the deep end and accuse people of being Chinese spies, or whatever name they choose to call a critic.

        You don’t know me or my history. How do you know I never had a connection with a teacher? Also, you don’t know what Dharma centers I have been connected with or how many, etc. It’s not for you to judge my life or my history with Buddhism. I can say that I used to be a “true Believer” too and I was very devoted. That started to change slowly when it finally dawned on me that the “bad” lamas and “good” lamas are all part of a big, extended group who support each other, and there is no separation between any of them. Sorry to say that I no longer believe it’s just a “few bad apples” anymore. That’s why I can no longer trust any of them.

        What would I say to the Karmapa you ask? Well, I wouldn’t be so rude as to say anything disrespectful right to his face, but frankly if any lama praises Trungpa, or supports abusers in any way, I am so done with respecting that lama! I don’t care what his title is, or who he is supposed to be. I have no patience for all of the covert support of abusers anymore, so if I ever found out that the Karmapa has remained silent or supports any of those thugs, like Sogyal or Trungpa, I would lose respect for him (or her) in a minute! I am not sure what his position is on these issues, but how vocal has he been against abusers in Tibetan Buddhism?

        Like

        1. “Him or her” meaning any lama that supports abusers, not just the Karmapa. Sorry my sentence got garbled a bit. I didn’t mean to imply the Karmapa was a “her.” Of course, I realize that the Karmapa is a “he” and not a “her” lol! 😀

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        2. “True Believer” also means someone who refuses to see what is obvious, even though the facts are right in front of them. An ostrich with their head in the sand, so to speak. (That’s the type I was. I didn’t usually get hot headed when people said negative stuff about Buddhism though.)

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          1. OK thanks for the clarification on what you meant by “True Believer”. I tend to call them ‘ blind sheep’ if they blindly follow a power hungry lama. I don’t get why they tolerate it but they must have their reasons. I find so many of these guys so revolting and can’t imagine following them much less helping to bathe Sogyal- that visual alone gives me nightmares.

            I’ve also no idea what the Karmapa believes on this subject. Or Khandro Rinpoche who is on the vision board (no one has any comment on her for some reason). Didn’t the previous Karmapa send Trungpa to the US? So there’s that….!
            I guess I would ask him what he thought of Trungpa’s methods and include some of the horrific stories, what he planned to do to help stop this from happening in the future. As bodhisattvas they are supposed to DO something to stop suffering… this is so upsetting to learn that so many look the other way… seems hypocritical to the bodhisattva vows. And more upsetting to learn certain lamas think it’s fine to pass women around. So I get what you are saying about the lamas. It is truly distressing- believe me I know. I am so done with a fair few of them due to this. If I was in front of each one of them I would not hold back either.

            On the upside it has helped me to define my path and stay clear of trappings and bad apples. And stay clear of organizations and centers! It has been a turbulent time for so many people and I think everyone in their own way is dealing with this. But I find the dharma too precious to let these bad eggs spoil it for me… it really can’t be spoiled anyway.

            Like

        3. Hi @Catlover,

          I’m going to try my own suggestion of that is OK with you? Please just ignore my post if you aren’t game 🙂

          ***

          You are saying that at one time you had a connection with Buddhism and were quite devoted. You are also saying you were a believer in something and now you are kind of the opposite of that?

          It sounds like something happened that caused you some harm or harm to those around you?

          It seems like you are also saying that sometime after this, you began to notice that ALL the teachers were part of an extended group that would support one another regardless what had taken place.

          Because of this you’ve lost any trust in any of the teachers.

          A few clarifying questions.

          What exploration did you undertake that caused you to come to the conclusion that ALL teachers were part of the same group?

          What do you think about Buddhism apart from the teachers?

          Do you think Buddhism requires you to believe in something? Do you think it is possible to practice Buddhism without beliefs or if beliefs are seen to be self critical of them?

          I’m not trying to “catch” you in anything and will keep trying until I can state your view very clearly. I’d like to also try and state some of the feeling behind what you are saying as well (which is hard to do online) but will do that after clarifying.

          I’m could also meet via Skype or Hangouts and then come back to the blog and post. It could speed things up. Again, assuming you are up for trying out this experiment.

          Thanks!

          Rick

          Like

          1. @Rick,

            I don’t use Skype, but I can try to answer some of your questions here.

            “You are saying that at one time you had a connection with Buddhism and were quite devoted. You are also saying you were a believer in something and now you are kind of the opposite of that?”

            It is kind of like when you suddenly realize that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are fantasies. It all comes crashing down and there’s no going back.

            “It sounds like something happened that caused you some harm or harm to those around you?”

            I guess you could say both happened. I experienced some negative things, and witnessed things happening to others as well. It all adds up over time, and at some point, it ain’t a pretty picture.

            “It seems like you are also saying that sometime after this, you began to notice that ALL the teachers were part of an extended group that would support one another regardless what had taken place.”

            I noticed it over time, and it started to bother me. After a while, I had no doubt that this was true.

            “Because of this you’ve lost any trust in any of the teachers.”

            Yes, because of that and many other things. Like I said, it all adds up. it wasn’t just ONE thing that made me distrust. It was a whole lot of things over many years.

            “A few clarifying questions.

            What exploration did you undertake that caused you to come to the conclusion that ALL teachers were part of the same group?”

            Talking to sangha people about teachers, hearing the teachers talking about teachers, looking online at the teacher’s sites, or any biographical info about them. NOT Chinese propagand, but just their bios and their lineage histories, etc. Just that info alone tells a LOT about who they are and who they are closest to. It becomes obvious after a while.

            “What do you think about Buddhism apart from the teachers?”

            I have a problem with some aspects of Buddhism. Also, the teachers in particular make me feel like Buddhism doesn’t work. After all, if the enlightened saints can’t get enlightened on their own teachings, what chance have I got, lol? 😀

            “Do you think Buddhism requires you to believe in something? Do you think it is possible to practice Buddhism without beliefs or if beliefs are seen to be self critical of them?”

            Buddhism is a religion and the beliefs are woven into the philosophy. You can’t really practice true Buddhism without the beliefs that go along with it, (such as karma, rebirth, etc.) I know there are people who practice “Secular Buddhism” but I don’t believe in that. “Secular Buddhism” isn’t really Buddhism, as far as I am concerned. others may disagree, but in that way I am very much a traditionalist. I believe that Buddhism is either Buddhism or it isn’t. You can have something that is Buddhist influenced, but if you strip away the beliefs, it is no longer Buddhism.

            “I’m not trying to “catch” you in anything and will keep trying until I can state your view very clearly. I’d like to also try and state some of the feeling behind what you are saying as well (which is hard to do online) but will do that after clarifying.”

            My feeling is disgust! I am totally disgusted with the lamas for behaving the way they do and supporting each other the way they do. (I am talking about the abusive activities.) I am also frustrated with people who cling onto their fantasies about fairy tale holy beings, who simply don’t exist. I simply no longer believe that humans are holy.

            “I’m could also meet via Skype or Hangouts and then come back to the blog and post. It could speed things up. Again, assuming you are up for trying out this experiment.”

            Thanks for trying this out. Now if you could try it with other people here too, that would be good. 😀

            (I don’t use Skype.)

            I think this will be my last post for a while, unless someone attacks me, lol! So no need to get me banned, lol! 😀

            Like

            1. Thanks @Catlover

              I think I’ve understood you.

              I’ve got a remaining few questions and then I’ll try and rewrite what I think you are saying.

              ” I am also frustrated with people who cling onto their fantasies about fairy tale holy beings, who simply don’t exist. I simply no longer believe that humans are holy.”

              Since you were also in the same boat as above, how do you wish people had acted toward you when you were in the believer stage?

              “but in that way I am very much a traditionalist. I believe that Buddhism is either Buddhism or it isn’t.”

              Is believing how Buddhism is or isn’t and being a traditionalist still a part of a belief in Buddhism? Is there a ‘part of you’ that has lingering beliefs (other than Buddhism is a fantasy) in Buddhism ?

              Do you think someone like Stephen Batchelor (author of Buddhism Without Beliefs) is a Buddhist?

              Thanks for doing this,

              Rick

              Like

              1. @Rick,

                I’ll reply to your reply, but after this, I think we just need to end this conversation. i don’t feel like going on and on with it, although i appreciate your attempt to try and understand people better. (I wish everyone here would do that.)

                “I’ve got a remaining few questions and then I’ll try and rewrite what I think you are saying.
                ‘I am also frustrated with people who cling onto their fantasies about fairy tale holy beings, who simply don’t exist. I simply no longer believe that humans are holy.’

                “Since you were also in the same boat as above, how do you wish people had acted toward you when you were in the believer stage?”

                Well, of course I would have wanted them to support my beliefs and support my fantasies. We all want that, of course. But lately I wonder just how dangerous these fantasies can be when we allow ourselves to believe in “perfect” humans and give all our power away to them. I think it’s dangerous, which is why I think we can no longer just stay silent and humor people. I think it’s a serous threat to democratic values and the hard fought for freedoms that we now take for granted and could easily be lost.

                “Is believing how Buddhism is or isn’t and being a traditionalist still a part of a belief in Buddhism? Is there a ‘part of you’ that has lingering beliefs (other than Buddhism is a fantasy) in Buddhism ?”

                I guess you could say that I have lingering opinions about Buddhism. Belief IN Buddhism? I don’t know if I have lingering beliefs. At least you could say I have beliefs ABOUT Buddhism. 😀

                “Do you think someone like Stephen Batchelor (author of Buddhism Without Beliefs) is a Buddhist?”

                I think he THINKS he is a Buddhist, but a lot of traditional monks or lamas would say he isn’t. I would tend to agree with them on that point and in fact, I watched a debate between SB and a Theravadin monk where they discussed that very issue. I found myself agreeing with the monk that you can’t have true Buddhism without the beliefs that are integral to the philosophy. I think SB has taken Buddhism and created his own secular take on it because that’s what he is comfortable with. That can work for some people, but it doesn’t interest me.

                That’s it. Goodbye, Rick.

                @everyone in general,
                If anyone attacks me or twists what I said, I might defend myself, but otherwise I am dropping out of the conversation for now. So, if any of you were thinking you might try to get me banned, don’t bother. The best way to get me to shut up is to just not keep on replying to me. 😀

                Like

                1. Hi Catlover, why on earth would you get banned or harassed for sharing your personal experiences in such a straight forward way? I am sorry you feel that way! I think the conversation might have become a little edgy at times, but I don’t think any of it was totally off the rails. These are hard times and people are resolving them in different ways for themselves. Some, like myself and @concerned and @Marge, find that staying true to my religion is a way of honoring myself, showing self-respect insisting that Buddhist virtue is virtue and cannot be destroyed– and I certainly don’t want to let abusive lamas destroy that! For others, discarding the entire enterprise is their way of showing self-respect and moving forward, finding virtue without the Buddhist language.

                  I don’t think that either approach needs to attack the other– but we’re all a little sensitive at this time and so it is easy to feel attacked and easy to lash out. And that’s when the conversation gets edgy.

                  Like

                  1. @joanneclark7,

                    You’re the same Joanne who usually posts here, right? Why don’t you use the same “nick”?

                    Thanks for saying I am not “off the rails” yet. 🙂 I really don’t know where the “line” is drawn on this forum, and since Pete was banned before for expressing his own views about Buddhism, it has made me cautious about expressing my own. I never felt that his behavior on this forum was worthy of being banned, so it makes me wonder when I will cross that invisible line that gets someone banned. That’s why I keep making comments about being banned.

                    As I said earlier, I really just wanted to put in my two cents because some people (not everyone) were getting a bit intense, and I felt that they just don’t look at the facts, imo. I am still reading the posts here, but I would generally prefer to remain out of the conversation because I am tired of debates with “True Believer” types (and I explained what I meant by that). I’ve already made my points about Tibetan Buddhism, lamas and corruption, and people will either agree or disagree. For now, I would rather just watch and listen. Occasionally, I might add in my two cents, if I am motivated, or if I feel I need to defend myself against having my comments twisted or misunderstood. So hopefully I can remain a passive participant. 🙂

                    Good luck with helping to moderate this group. I hope you can help to keep things civil. 😀

                    Like

                    1. Hi @Catlover,

                      I’m still practicing Traditional Buddhism and find it very precious (for me), however I agree with many things you said above. You express it well. I’m not an English speaker so it’s much more difficult for me to find the right way to say what I think.

                      Why would you get banned ? you bring a lot to this blog.

                      We already shared our ideas in previous posts, and I found it great.

                      I don’t know how to explain in a few words why I’m still practicing Buddhism, while in the same time I share many of the ideas you have, but I will try.

                      For me, Buddhism, even traditional Tibetan Buddhism doesn’t belong to the present Tibetan Institutions. This is what some people who are part of these Institution want us to believe but it’s a lie. They have the responsibility to preserve TB and spread it, and they should not use it to take advantage on others and for their own selfish aims, as many do, not only some rotten apples.

                      Tibetan Buddhism is the result of the practice and efforts of thousands of famous or unknown women and men in the past who had an altruistic mind ( any of us could have been one of these men or women), thus it’s an universal heritage. TB is also the fruit of mistaken practices and wrong aims of some women and men, thus it has also been distorted, as well as the Institutions which preserve it.

                      However I believe according to my own experience that the core is still here and that it still brings results. Like in Christianity, there are the Institutions and there are people who practice their religion, in or out the Institutions. They influence on each other, but nevertheless they are different.

                      When I went in Bodhgaya I met some unknown Tibetan practitioners, they were humbly practicing apart, indifferent to the high tulkus who were celebrating with great ceremony. My first teacher was also an humble person with a realization that he showed me when needed, but he pasted away quickly after I met him. These encounters helped me to come back to Buddhism when I felt that I needed it. .

                      I believe that there is a false and dangerous image of TB which has been artificially fabricated (a fairy tail, or a diplomatic and commercial tail ?), and there is also the image of TB we have when we discover this falsification, which is a total disappointment and disgust. I had both !

                      Now, I practice traditional Buddhism with the firm image that it is mine and doesn’t depend on groups or Institutions, or on what teachers or ‘true believers” are doing or think. I listen to teachings with respect and analyze them with care, but I also stand up, and dare to say (peacefully): ” Tibetan Buddhism is mine ! It’s my karma to receive it correctly and to practice it in peace, and I will never accept anymore lies, abuses or wrong behaviors in its name. “

                      Like

  17. @Pete,

    “Anyway I’m relieved to hear you’re not me, this multiple personality disorder was getting out of control.”

    LOL! 😀

    If I turn out to be you, please let me know! I would hate to think I have another personality I don’t know about, lol! 😀

    Like

  18. And just for the record, Tahlia has asked me to help with moderating and though I haven’t been much help during my busy day today, I can assure everyone that Pete is Pete, with no aliases, Marc is Marc, Catlover still loves cats and Lauren is Lauren……

    Like

    1. @joanneclark7,

      I think Pete already admitted that he was “Lauren Auder” (which was a play on “law and order”). Pete, please correct me if I am wrong. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I still love cats very much. They are generally a lot nicer and easier to get along with than most people, imo. 🙂

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