Reference Material

Testimonies of abuse

The email from the Eight student sent to Dzogchen Mandala students, Sogyal Rinpoche and other Lamas related to Rigpa.
 Sangye’s Story
Reliable sources have verified for us aspects of ch 12-15 of this document

Statements on Abuse in Rigpa and/or Tibetan Buddhism in general

Matthieu Ricard.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

At the National Seminar on Buddhism in Ladakh held at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) in Leh, Ladakh, J&K, India on August 1, 2017, His Holiness said it was totally wrong to blindly follow everything ones teacher says. He said one must examine if the teacher’s teachings are in line with Buddha’s teaching. His Holiness also made reference to Sogyal Rinpoche and the letter from his former students.
The relevant excerpt and transcript is here:
6th of Sept 2017 He mentioned Rigpa in a talk to students from the University of California. He was very clear on the need to have courage to ‘topple’ ‘rotten’ institutions, and said that “If [institutions] use dharma for exploitation, they themselves not properley practice dharma.”
September 14, 2017 during his visit to Germany he answered a question about Buddhist communities’ right attitude towards sexual abuse by Ursula Richard of ‘Buddhismus Aktuell’ Once again, he referred to Sogyal Lakar and Rigpa.
A translation from the German can be read here:

23rd September in Riga

“So, Sogyal Rinpoche was disgraced recently in America and so he may be learned but without any practice and experience of the teaching. Therefore being… abusing disciples… deceiving them. And so there were people in Taiwan and other places, in Tibet also this happens.”

The talk is archived on YouTube and you can find the quote above if you watch from 2:24:00.

A brief summary of HH’s position can be read here:

Mingyur Rinpoche

An article in Lions Roar Magazine that addresses the issues. Aug 9th 2017

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Erik Jampa: An opinon on DZK’s opinon

Erik Pema Kunsang

Though he doesn’t mention the situation in Rigpa specifically, this article is highly relevant as it talks about the real meaning of root guru.

Tibetan psychologist Lobsang Rapgay. What went wrong:

An interview with Tibetan psychologist Lobsang Rapgay about student-teacher relationships that turn abusive

Abuse in Buddhism: Anna Sawertha


Robert Thurman:What such teachers got wrong.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche

Khenpo Namdrol

A Comprehensive article by journalist David Leser

Namgay Dawa Rimpoche

On his Facebook page in reply to a question from a student. “I can only speak for myself when I say to those who have taken refuge with me or to those who hold me in their high regard , If you see me cause injury to others , mental or physical it becomes your sacred duty to protect yourself and your Varja brothers and sisters. Don’t let anyone suppress your free will to reason . Don’t be afraid to question me if you feel my actions and speech are not in accord with the Dharma.”

FMPT Ethics policy, signed by all FPMT teachers.


Issues in the Translation of Buddhism into the West.

Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship: The Responsibilities of Teachers and Students. HH Dalai Lama

Notes taken during the meeting of H.H. the Dalai Lama and Western Buddhist Teachers in Dharamsala, 1993.
Videos from the Western Buddhist Teacher’s Conference with HH Dalia Lama in Dharamsala 1993. This series of videos covers a wide range of topics. Video 4 (from about 40 mins in), the first part of Video 5 and 60 mins into Vid 5 are very relevant to the topic at hand. The main points are noted in the document on Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship: The Responsibilities of Teachers and Students.

Is Tibetan Buddhism in the West Working

Martine Bachelor on cultural issues related to sexual abuse by lamas

Questioning the Advice of the Guru:  H.H. the XIV. Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso

The Guru Question
Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth

Education on Cults

Checklist of mind control techniques. 

Undue Influence Continuum

Traumatic Abuse in Cults.

The BITE model of mind control

How to recognise communal abuse

Crazy Wisdom, Samaya, Pure Perception, Devotion and Abuse

Guru Disciple Relationship Advice from HH the Dalia Lama

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. A series of talks by Venerable Thubten Choden inspired by the revelations of abuse in Rigpa. Her talks help students to gain a correct understanding of the relevant teachings and see the whole situation with compassion and wisdom.


Alexander Birzin

EXCELLENT: the following two links are from ‘Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship’ by Alexander Birzin (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2010). They are essential reading for ganing a correct understanding of these concepts. The rest of the book which deals with further aspects is also available in sections on the website. See links at the bottom of these pages.

Breaking the Silence on Sexual Misconduct

On Gurus and Cults

Dealing with Abusive Behaviour by Spiritual Teachers.

An excerpt: “There are members of spiritual communities who will deny that anything is wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence of abuse. They often come to Buddhism as an escape from the problems of the world, hoping for an ideal world with perfect teachers. Identifying with their projections of wishful thinking blinds them to seeing and accepting reality. A correct understanding of voidness can help them and us overcome a state of denial. Unbiased, discriminating awareness is always essential.”

How Can you Tell if Something is Actually Crazy Wisdom.

A short talk by Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, a Nyingma Dzogchen master and student of Dudjom Rinpoche.

Why I quit Guru Yoga. Stephen Batchelor

Legitimating Mythology and Cultish Behavior

See page 6. About Zen but also relevant for Tibetan Buddhism

Ethics & Discernment in the Teacher Student Relationship

Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship:

The Responsibilities of Teachers and Students: From notes taken during the meeting of H.H. the Dalai Lama and Western Buddhist Teachers in Dharamsala, 1993.

Overview of all angles with quotes from masters.

Stephen Schettini: ‘The inconvenience of Doubt.’

Teachers are not Gods.

Article by Rob Preece in The Lion’s Roar Magazine

“Overcoming Emotional Blocks in Developing Trust, Appreciation, or Respect”

Berzin, Alexander from ch. 10 in Wise Teacher, Wise Student: Tibetan Approaches to a Healthy Relationship (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2010).


How Other Sanghas Dealt With This

How to be proactive in a postive way:
Kagyu Thubten Choling addresses sangha about Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s sexual misconduct with students:

Buddhist Teachers to Avoid

Relevant words of the Buddha

On wise choice of choosing to whom you will devote yourself
The Buddha on using our own discernment. The Kalama Sutta.
Commentary on the Kalama Sutta – the right to ask questions and use critical thinking

Further Perspectives/Resources

Excerpt from Kosmic Consciousness with Ken Wilber by Sounds True. It helps to marry the helpful and unhelpful in a teacher.
Why it’s Important to Speak Your Truth
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love.