Sogyal Rinpoche & Rigpa – An interview with the former director of Rigpa France Olivier Raurich

Translation of an interview with the former director of Rigpa France Olivier Raurich which appeared in the French magazine “Marianne”¹

Q: When did you become interested in Buddhism and how did you encounter Sogyal Rinpoche?

I studied mathematics at l’ecole normale superieure (teacher training college) in the Rue d’Ulm, aiming to become a scientific researcher. At 24, I had an existential crisis leading to a spiritual quest. When I first discovered Buddhism, I really liked the idea of “verifying with your own experience.” At first, it wasn’t about belief, but getting benefit from meditation. I went to conferences and encountered Sogyal Rinpoche. He spoke English and something resonated.

Sogyal Rinpoche, 2008 Wikipedia Commons

Sogyal Rinpoche, 2008
Wikipedia Commons

After several years, he said that I am very hard-working and spoke very good English. I became his translator in France, without having any personal relationship with him, because Sogyal Rinpoche immediately imposes absolute dominance in relationships. He was the master, inaccessible and irritable — it’s all about carrying out his instructions, full stop.

Q: So you have been a privileged witness to his rise and the growing success of his organisation, Rigpa?

Over the years, I actually became increasingly active in Rigpa, as a meditation teacher and president of Rigpa France. I appeared several times on the television show “Buddhist Wisdom” on France 2.
At the same time I had my job teaching maths, because almost everyone is a volunteer in Rigpa, and the few salaried jobs there are very poorly paid. To make offerings in money and labour is part of Buddhism and it seemed great to me to offer service for free. Later I realised that under this pretext Westerners became veritable milk cows.

The big retreat centre, Lerab Ling, situated in L’Hérault, opened in 1992. The same year, “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” appeared. It was drafted by Patrick Gaffney, a brilliant and modest English scholar, and a man I greatly admire, from teachings given by Sogyal Rinpoche and other masters.

It became an international best-seller, and people flocked to Sogyal Rinpoche, who became a global Buddhist star. I was excited — I had the impression we were going to spread Buddhist wisdom throughout society.

Q: Considering his behaviour, especially with his closest disciples, did it ever shock you?

He’s a charismatic communicator, but what shocked me immediately was the disconnect between his rhetoric and his character. He loves luxury, fashion and violent American films. Ecology and social issues do not interest him at all. He is not at all shy about singing his own praises — to excess and in front of everyone. He stays in luxury hotels, surrounded by the most expensive electronic gadgets. I struggled to accept this behaviour, because at the same time some people in Rigpa were very poor. He preached that he had the same contentment, simplicity and renunciation in this life, without needing to practice. For a long time, I thought his behaviour it was related to cultural conditioning from his origins as a Tibetan aristocrat.

He blew hot and cold with me — sometimes he praised my translation to extremes – and sometimes he humiliated me in public. He was always very authoritarian. There were consistent rumours that he abused young women — not by physical violence, but by a huge psychological hold over them. This was officially justified by the concept of “crazy wisdom,” which maintains that great masters can commit acts which are incomprehensible to ordinary mortals.

This applies to everyone — “If the master humiliates you, it is to liberate the ego, to purify the disciples” and “There is no greater action than the will of the master” and so on … the traditional Tibetan texts are very clear on this point.

I was primarily interested in Buddhist teachings. I hosted internships and that side of things, with the team of instructors. We did a good job of spreading Buddhism. That’s what made me stay so long.

Q: How is it that Sogyal Rinpoche was not worried? Why has the Dalai Lama never reacted?

Several crises have occurred. There was the lawsuit for sexual harassment in 1993 in the United States. Subsequently, some former students have told their stories and a lot of people left Rigpa on those occasions, particularly in 2000 and 2007.

Then in 2011, an article appeared in “Marianne” — after this Sogyal Rinpoche decided not to appear at the meditation retreats for newcomers at Lerab Ling.

Many people left. Rigpa paid a very expensive professional agency in Paris, specialising in crisis communication, to train a few spokesmen, including myself, to respond to the allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse. We were advised not to answer questions, but rather to endlessly repeat certain key phrases – and to quote the Dalai Lama as much as possible for moral support.

Q: The Dalai Lama clearly says (in “Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship” , 1993; Healing Anger, Snow Lion, 1997 pp. 83-85) that the abusive behaviour of masters must be exposed publicly and explicitly. Why has he not reacted himself?

My hypothesis is that he cannot discredit Sogyal publicly, because it would undermine Tibetan Buddhism. Sogyal Rinpoche has managed to make himself indispensable in the Tibetan community.

Q: When did you start to have doubts?

I stayed all these years despite my reservations, because I hoped  Rigpa would be able to share profound wisdom with the greatest number of people, which would benefit society as a whole. But it became more and more difficult to invite people to his teachings, because his behaviour became impossible at times — pretentious, even in public. I had begun to write my first book, to illustrate how authentic Buddhist wisdom can be open to the world, adapted to the west, and conforming to humanist ideals.

Beginning with the article in “Marianne,” I felt the tension ratchet up a notch within the Rigpa leadership. All the secrecy and manipulation of information weighed heavily on me. I had come for teachings on humility, love, truth, and trust, and I found myself in a quasi-Stalinist environment and permanent double-talk. His dictatorial side and anger worsened and I was increasingly disturbed by it. He did not hesitate to brutally silence and ridicule people in meetings. Critical thinking is prohibited around him — the door is locked. Negative feedback never reaches him — only praise is reported because people in the close circle are afraid of him. It can make him angry or he would humiliate those close to him. He can also be friendly and full of humour if everything conforms to his wishes.

In the summer of 2014, during a retreat for the older students I made my decision to leave because I saw through him clearly — I saw his falsity. He demanded abundant offerings, specifically in cash, in front of 800 students. Each had to write their name on the envelope, so that he could check the amount.

There is also increasing control over regular students. They are made to feel guilty if they do not come to retreats. There is a lot of pressure — the Rigpa computer database identifies participants in retreats, practices, past meetings, etc. If a student does not attend, it must be justified – if a student leaves in the middle of a teaching, someone has to find them and ask why. This has driven a lot of people away.

Q: What is your assessment of that experience which lasted twenty-eight years?

The fact is that my spiritual education happened through him. Even though he didn’t write The Tibetan book of Living and Dying, he was it’s driving force. It is a very good book, it has helped thousands of people, even if it does contain some elements of Tibetan superstition.

I do not dismiss these years because I have studied, practised and shared meditation, the teaching of the spirit of compassion, the basis for Buddhist philosophy —  impermanence and interdependence. That’s why I asked Sogyal Rinpoche to write the preface for my first book. But for the last few years, he has insisted on more and more religiosity and absolute devotion to the master. Authentic Buddhism is wisdom, founded on experience and reflection, as explained frequently by the Dalai Lama, who embodies exemplary Buddhism.

Today, I have left behind the abusive or traditional aspects which are not adapted to our times. I participate in spreading a secular wisdom for the west in a collaborative and egalitarian manner, without gurus or magic charms, where everyone strives to embody what he preaches. I am finally at peace with myself.

Interview by Élodie Emery
English translation and edited in March 2016

¹ Bouddhisme : l’imposture Sogyal Rinpoché

See also


  1. Wow! Very damning indictment. I just sent an email to a local Tibetan dharma center here that has been hosting and providing him with a platform from which to teach. It’s not the first letter I’ve written; I can think of two others in the last several years. Sadly, all previous emails went unanswered and obviously had no effect. This time around, I sent them a link to this interview and once again urged them to cut their ties to such a disgraced teacher as it not only damages their reputation, but also puts their students at risk as well. Perhaps I will get some sort of response this time around, though I will not be holding my breath. It’s mystifying and frustrating how such teachers continue to teach and profit financially off of unsuspecting students who often pay high prices to attend their teachings.

    • It is deeply saddening, the whole thing. All the damage that has been done to women and faithful seekers of the Dharma (and also the damage for Rigpa). With respect to the latter, Rigpa had abundant time to clear things up but missed all the chances and chose instead to blur and distort those issues.

      In my eyes it is very courageous that Olivier Rauprich distanced himself after all those years, and that he finally speaks about what he witnessed and experienced. The interview contains a lot of interesting details too, and it fits all those reports which were made over the last years (decades) already.

      It seems to me that how Tibetans respond to this is mainly a cultural issue: 1) the student is in charge not to follow misleading teachers [the teacher on the other hand seems to be less responsible]; 2) the welfare of the community / group is more important than the damage to an individual.

    • To ask Sogyal R. to write the preface and now to talk that way seems very hypocrite…sad, all this. After all its a teaching of life, reality itself. Him

      • There is a contradiction. But you will often get aware of contradictions when people write or talk about their experiences of highly demanding groups or so called cults. It’s rather natural. I think this is because you are still in struggle with the past and you have modes of conduct/patterns deeply ingrained from the past that create these contradictions once you move out and want to leave all behind or start anew. Especially in this case the pace is a bit breathtaking. However, I find this rather normal.

      • The book was published in 2014, written probably 2012 or2013, as well as the foreword by esolf aka SR.

        Olivier Raurich left Rigpa in spring 2016 or end of 2015, so I see not such a contradiction.

        • Thank you. I didn’t know this and also (mis-)understood that he asked him for his foreword after he left.

        • …the whole issue is a teaching how interdependence works in reality. The source of all wisdom, reality is. O. Raurich should take the preface out of the book, soon. I do not know if its just (ego) marketing, but… not much about the book in the interview, almost everything deals with S.R.. It seems pretty selfish, very sad, all that. No excuses for nobody, please. Everything is clear to see and all the time for those who are willing to see. I pray with compassion, SR will clarify himself and he and his will get out of that “trap”, which is completly self-made. Rigpa means “brilliant mind” (too). Censorship is not brilliant mind. A contradiction in itself is about to be healed. I said and I wrote it many times: to Rigpa Berlin, to Lerab Ling, to SR and others. This is not the end of the day, not the end of the world…but everything has to be healed according to the law of cause and effect and it will. Which is not buddhist fantasy, it is the law of true reality. We should be strong and trust…in healing, in compassion and honesty! It is about 7 Billion people plus…not about one Teacher, his former student and a book…its is not just about Buddhism…

          • For me it rather teaches how self-deception, manipulation, dynamics of blind devotion and a type of narcissism unfold to a huge deceptive and harm creating system. This doesn’t mean that there are no good experiences. Also the students of Andrew Cohen, Shoko Ashara, or Jim Johns made and had good experiences, extraordinary types of “insight” etc.

            For a healing self-awareness, honesty, self-reflection going along with an open & brave inquiring attitude is needed. I can’t see that unfolding in any way at the moment. So healing is far off at the moment.

            Whistleblowers – like Olivier Raurich – contribute to more public awareness and to make people think. Instead of being silent they speak up. This contributes more to a possible future healing than silence which supports the status quo. That’s why I wonder why you are so upset with him?

            There are different types of whistleblowers as you can see with Snowden, Assange & Manning. No matter what their motives are, they can serve greatly the public & the institutions they talk about (not from the pov of reputation but to correct wrong modes of conduct). However, if their motives are really selfless, it is even more useful and less harmful what they do – for others and themselves.

            • dharmaanarchist says:

              The question is, is Olivier Raurich a “whistleblower” with a pure intention of informing the public, or just another deluded individual with his own agenda in all this.

              Raurich is trying to make an outing as a dharma teacher in his own right. The question is, is what he teaches genuine dharma or not.

              It’s not uncommon that a dissatisfied ex cult member splits off to start his own cultish organisation, as you very well know. And if we assume that Rigpa is one of those bad apples, then Raurich should not start teaching dharma on his own. Even split offs from perfectly unquestionalbe groups like FPMT can turn cultish, as seen in Michael Roach.

              • The point I wanted to raise is, a whistleblower is a whistleblower. The motivation is another issue – usually hard to judge. The motivation is also not a minor issue for the outcome of things as you can see when you compare for instance Snowden with Assange. However, even a whistleblower with an egoistic motivation can serve the public. I think this is the point I wanted to make. Why jumping on Raurich as a person and speculating about his motivation instead of thinking about what he has to say?
                I agreed already that his new occupation is also for my taste far too quick. There is indeed a huge risk of not having got rid of unaware destructive patterns developed in a cultish system, to depart from a cult just to found a new one because you didn’t recognise, understand and worked on your inner rucksack of destructive modes of conduct, like a sense of being special, manipulative skills etc.. This happened to my teacher. I take her way as a great inspiration to not to become like her, to be extremely cautious etc.

            • Dear Tenpel, S.R. made some mistakes…(like) we do. Public healing is far off, yes. But it will come, or a boat will sink. All this is poisoning, especially for those who seek outside. True devotion is free of any censoring, inside and outside, it´s just wonderful, wherever it is. It does not depend on others at all. Like Buddha demonstrated. Rigpa has never been a sphere without censorship, never. / I am not upset with O.R., i just believe, a person who is in this for 20 years (director rigpa france) knows what is going on and somehow was a part of it. He is not a whistleblower. All those appearing signs are not a good and somehow point back towards the “Chief”:). What to do? Healing starts always in us and i think, i promise:): nothing will happen in Rigpa and from S.R. according to the issue. To read the signs (for those who fear) is: to look inside again. Like the Buddha said, and to develop a new path. Some people jump into the mouth of a “crocodile”:) and wonder what happens. They might learn this way do be more aware of themselves. To trust themselves. S.R. always said, warned:): “The only one who can help you is you!” That´s true. No one can give us what we already got. Buddhism is sometimes pretty proud and selfish to forget: no two legged Buddha enlightened this reality, it always has been. “She” is the unlitmate refuge, where healing begins, inside and outside. If the being is truly centered it sees and hears through all deceiving inside and outside. I am not a buddhist but i am very, very grateful for the teachings, which are so close to reality. Pointing on reality always, Pointing even beyond Buddhism. I am so grateful to Padmasambhava and the Dalai Lama. The cure-it-all…true reality is.

              • Wow, so much inept theorising.
                But what about the victims!

                • When I understand Him correctly, the victims will be healed if they have the same amazing “devotion” as Him has ;-) Because “True devotion is free of any censoring, inside and outside, it´s just wonderful, wherever it is.”

                  But, as far as I can see, this “true devotion”, as Him understands it, makes you a blind self-indulging fool who only sees good things even if there are bad things.

                  Luckily the Buddha was an extremely wise and sane person and explicit in whom to place devotion and in whom devotion should not be placed at all. But maybe, according to Him, the Buddha doesn’t really know what “true devotion” means?

                  • Hi, so we do not understand each other…:) true devotion can be: towards the pain and the loss of others, can be towards a river, to all appearing and it is wonderful and it is for all of us, it is free and open in true reality! Like the nature of mind is and even the beyond. It is not “courtesy” of buddhism, It does not need a master, everybody has it, but a wonderful master is precious, reality is, nature is, stillness is…like the Buddha did. I wrote to rigpa pers.: “…a lot of trust and devotion will be destroyed, if the whole issue will not be clarified in public”. (done many years ago, many times). But i guess, it will never happen. How sad. I gave it up there. Devotion means…(if you allow me to tell my point of view?) to follow (y)our deepest intuitiveness. Not the intuitiveness of others.
                    I experienced S.R. sometimes losing his temper, loosing compassion and mindfulness. I saw a lot of censoring in rigpa right from the start and i kept always a distance to this org too, to any org. they all develop their own gravity. But the teachings were right. Sometimes he considered his words as “My teachings” and i felt this was somehow ridicules. I told him, always ask directly if something felt wrong. (his behavior to some woman…i only read about…and i felt very sad…) The first point H.H. always teaches is emptiness. So, samsara is empty, nirvana is, rigpa is, the master is, the river is, the victims vision is and the vision of power of S.R. and rigpa is illusory. If there is a feel and evidence of surreal surrounding, we should leave it. We chain ourselves…at last.
                    Light, the deepest intuitiveness still is completely unhurt, it is free and healed. The Buddha-Nature, you might say. Last point, i run out of time too: O.R. is not a whistleblower, he never mentioned to put out the preface and it does not take a lot of guts to tell his story. (Like snowden and others, who sacrifice). But even that is… illusory. Once i said to a friend there: “…run…you are losing your own words…just repeating others…run, leave it, or maybe think about it.” Lots of misunderstanding and deep hurt emotions…. let all this master(y) man controlling man come to an end. In both, in Teacher and student. Peace, we are not in war at all…

                    • Hi Him, thank you for your comment and further clarification. This is very helpful for me.
                      I wrote my comment in a hurry and focussed only on points I found not acceptable.

                      In general, when I discuss in a Buddhist context I stay in that context in order to enable to be precise and not “wischi waschi” (or fuzzy). Cultish groups work in “the realm of fuzziness” (Steven Hassan) and prefer to stay there, they confuse terms and create their own definitions of things just to keep alive their ideological network and its functions. In such a context being precise, leads you out of that “realm of fuzziness” and gives you the needed clarity to understand what’s going on or what’s really wrong.

                      So when you have another understanding of devotion in mind that is not what is meant in Buddhist texts discussing the spiritual relationships between teacher and student, and I speak of devotion (and faith) in Buddhist and that specific context of spiritual relationships between teacher and student, then of course we speak of different things. Good that we were able to clarify that!

                      What you describe as devotion sounds for me rather like the meaning of patience (tib zopa) in Buddhism or just acceptance and openness to what ever arises – a type of equanimity too.

                      Devotion means…(if you allow me to tell my point of view?) to follow (y)our deepest intuitiveness. Not the intuitiveness of others.

                      For me this would be just relying in your intuition or having faith in the proper functioning of your intuitiveness. I can relate to that because cults or manipulative relationships aim to target and destroy exactly that (see the phenomenon “gaslighting“). However, I wouldn’t call this devotion. Though, in a sense, because it is basically faith in your perceptions and understandings it can be a part of devotion or faith or could turn into it …

                      “…a lot of trust and devotion will be destroyed, if the whole issue will not be clarified in public”. (done many years ago, many times). But i guess, it will never happen. How sad. … I experienced S.R. sometimes losing his temper, loosing compassion and mindfulness. I saw a lot of censoring in rigpa right from the start and i kept always a distance to this org too, to any org. they all develop their own gravity. But the teachings were right. Sometimes he considered his words as “My teachings” and i felt this was somehow ridicules. I told him, always ask directly if something felt wrong. (his behavior to some woman…i only read about…and i felt very sad…)

                      Ok, thank you. Good to see that you are open and frank about these points.

                      The first point H.H. always teaches is emptiness. So, samsara is empty, nirvana is, rigpa is, the master is, the river is, the victims vision is and the vision of power of S.R. and rigpa is illusory. If there is a feel and evidence of surreal surrounding, we should leave it. We chain ourselves…at last.
                      Light, the deepest intuitiveness still is completely unhurt, it is free and healed. The Buddha-Nature, you might say.

                      If you look at the healing processes of victims of abuse it becomes quite evident in my eyes that healing doesn’t start with explanations on the ultimate nature of things or illusionary nature of things but getting certainty about the conventional level of experiences. Therefore, such explanation might even further harm victims because you risk to deny, undermine, make non-existent what they experienced (a type of Nihilism). A better way would be to speak from the point of view of dependent arising and the three levels of it (which leads to a correct understanding of emptiness and prevents Nihilism and Eternalism) in case this would be helpful for such a person. It is very easy to brush the pain of others under the carpet by proclaiming “your pain is empty and an illusion” and falling into the extreme to deny it. If you check the life of the Buddha he responded very differently to the physical or mental pain of others – always in a way that was helpful according to the capacities of the listener.

                      Your last point I can’t really understand on the first and second glance. I understand that OR didn’t give up as much as Snowden, which is true. But there are other whistle blowers who didn’t give up much but still they are considered to be whistle blowers… I will think about this further… However, I agree with you, “Peace, we are not in war at all…”

              • Hi Him, some brief thoughts … I run out of time …

                S.R. made some mistakes…(like) we do.

                No! There are a lot of people who don’t abuse their power and who don’t manipulate people for the sake of personal gratification into sexual relationships (which these faithful spiritual students didn’t really want) or who practice sexual misconduct by having sex with the wives of faithful students for years; even manipulating such a wife to promise (to give a vow), not to tell her husband – a vow to lie, a vow to deceive, a negative vow.)

                Though all those who are not fully enlightened make faults – of course, and including me – the very gross unethical behaviour of a supposed “master” who can’t keep the basics of ethics and therefore shows a lack of control over his mind and desires can not be excused by pointing to the minor faults of others. Others – and these are a lot of common Buddhist folk or non-masters – have more mastery over their behaviour than the supposed master. Buddhist texts, Buddhist ethics, common sense are all very clear in that regard. There is no need to whitewash gross harmful actions that indicate a thorough lack of restrain, a restrain even common folk is able to practice – maybe not Donald Trump but such people are an exception not the rule.

                All this is poisoning, especially for those who seek outside.

                No! It is poisoning far more for those who seek inside because their faith is exploited, their trust is been damaged and hurt, as a result their spiritual path can be blocked even for the rest of their life (wich in turn effects future lives) due to losing faith even in genuine teachers or being unable to put trust anymore on any person who can be trusted. (I know such people, I met such people, I spoke with such people. So I know what I argue based on the experiences and reports of those who have been harmed. Please don’t denigrate these spiritual seekers as “those who seek outside”.)

                True devotion is free of any censoring, inside and outside, it´s just wonderful, wherever it is.

                Do you have a clue what true devotion really means? Did you take time to rectify terms like devotion or faith?

                The Tibetan term tenpa (bsten-pa) sums up a healthy relationship with a spiritual mentor. The usual English translation is devotion, hence the term guru-devotion. Devotion, however, carries a misleading connotation. It conjures the picture of a devoted servant or a devotee of a god or a cult. It also implies a combination of emotional fervor and mindless obedience.

                Tenpa, however, is a verb that means to come close to someone in one’s thoughts and actions, and to rely on the person with confidence. It does not imply, however, coming close to a charlatan or a scoundrel, or relying neurotically on someone, even if the person is competent to help us. Thus, I have translated it here as building a healthy relationship. One builds such a relationship not only with a spiritual teacher, but also with a doctor.

                According to Difficult Points concerning Helping and Showing Respect to a Guru, tenpa also connotes pleasing one’s guru in the proper manner. The proper or healthy way for disciples to please their mentors is to come close in the sense of modeling themselves after their mentors and following their advice to transform their minds and help all beings. It does not mean to try to ingratiate themselves with lavish gifts or to practice the Dharma only to please their teachers. As Buddha explained in Special Verses Grouped by Topic: “One may be close to a spiritual mentor for one’s entire life. Yet, if one does not learn the Dharma taught by him or her, [one’s experience of the teachings] is [as meager] as the taste of stew on a ladle.” – Alex Berzin

                BTW, Olivier Raurich is one of the few (now ex) Rigpa directors who confirm the allegations Rigpa now so eloquently denies. Two other directors confirmed these but lack the bravery to speak up. Therefore, for me OR is still a whistle blower. He is an important voice.

                All the best for you.

  2. Zephyr (@Zephyranthos) says:

    Yeah—smacks of the former “Elodie Emery” propaganda piece to me. And on March 9? Gimme a break lol. Sorry–not buying the Chinese thang this time. If you wanted to make it believable, publish it in September or something, and not during HHDL trip to the US ;) Just sayin’.

    • I think you make it yourself far too easy. This is your choice. But you can’t win those who are better informed with your trial to deny. This blog offers enough testimonies and links to further sources which empower any reader to make up their own mind and to built up an informed opinion. Sorry, if this is in coincidence with HHDL’s US visit but the faults described here are not HHDL’s faults. HHDL has been always very clear that you should go to the public if you have proof for what you claim and if the lama doesn’t change his behaviour. So the whole post is in line with HHDL’s own advice and suggestions regarding abuse and going public.

  3. Dear Tenpel la. Yes, you are very right saying that this is in line with HH Dalai Lamas wishes.
    Now I would like to take the opportunity, to thank you for your work with this homepage. It has been of great help to me in the recent years. I have been a Buddhist practitioner for 30 years. My story has similarities to Olivier’s …… My experience is the whole story: pressure from the Sangha for offering more work, pressure from SR to stay longer and longer, to donate more and more……
    I stopped attending Retreats in Lerab Ling in the year 2012, because I noticed that it did not do me any good. I was not happy in the Dharma anymore, it rather seemed to be a source for conflict and suffering. SR’s behaviour with his students became increasingly unbearable. In front of several hundred people, SR asked one of his closest students (a man) to put off his pants as a proof of dedication. Another student (a lady) was asked to sit in yab-yum position with her friend in front of several hundred people. Full stop. I left knowing not to return after so many years……I am very sorry for all those hard working people in Lerab Ling. They are getting older, how shall they make their living? Who will care?
    Receiving teachings from great teachers, who visited Lerab Ling, was the reason that I have stayed for so long. But honestly speaking, under such circumstances the visiting Lamas should not visit Lerab Ling anymore.

    • Dear Yangchen la, thank you for sharing your heart breaking experiences. I didn’t hear about such cases until now. But what you report briefly fits well to those stories of power abuse people told me or wrote about via email or shared already in the public.

      It makes me sad to read it but I am also grateful that you share it. Without those who are brave and open to speak out what they witnessed and experienced, those who want to know, those who want to see and those who want to understand, those who want to follow genuine Dharma and genuine teachers can’t make up their mind and might waste their live with misleading lamas, corrupted teachings, which will effect also their future lives.

      Thank you also for your appreciation. Its good to hear that it is/was a great help to you because at times I already wanted to close the whole blog being overcome by doubts if this blog serves any good purpose.

      I agree also that “under such circumstances the visiting Lamas should not visit Lerab Ling anymore”. However, I fear this won’t happen – as the history of similar systems clearly demonstrate.

      All the best, T

  4. Westerners need to ban together to reject unnacceptable Tibetans exploiting Westerner’s faith. So often Tibetan organizations will send their worst teachers to the USA and profit immensely. Westerners are the ones supporting monasteries in exile and it’s time Tibetans take us seriously or we cut off their money. Westerners are not substandard students and that racist view needs to end NOW.

    • I think it will be hard in the whole set up to generalise.

      I have to say, I’ve met and meet excellent teachers. My main teacher does not take any money from our centre but always gives it back. When I gave him money he didn’t want to accept it. I had to insist that he takes it. The far majority of Tibetan teachers I’ve met are extremely caring and kind, compassionate and wise. More concerned about others than themselves. I am only grateful and happy to support them and to give back their kindness. (I am also much interested to give back the kindness of Tibetans whom I owe the most precious part in my life, the rich and profound Indo-Tibaten Buddhism.)

      Then there are some teachers on whose shoulders rests a huge burden to support their monastery or a certain project or group. I can feel that burden at times and then I want to help. I am happy to help or grateful if I can do something. Why? Because I consider myself a very rich person, and I think my country, Germany, is one of the richest country in the world, why should I not support them? They are refugees – and many of them are really very, very poor (for instance Ladhakis). If I have the capacities and means to support them and to give them something back or at least to put myself into their shoes, why not doing it?

      Though there are some Tibetans – I think in general rather very few – that exploit also (or even exclusively) the faith of Westerners for mundane matters or even personal gratifications, according to my observation and experience, what I get is by far greater and more worth than any money or outer wealth. My experience is also that in general the teachers – except those few who misguided me – are much interested in my wellbeing and offer enough and abandoned support for my growth. That’s why for me, what you write, is not really convincing.

      Of course they have their cultural issues and we have ours. But I think any discussion should be based on appreciating the kindness of others – or recognising each others kindness – and by putting ourselves into their shoes. I would also be careful with such a claim “Westerners are the ones supporting monasteries in exile”, for instance, the retreat place where I stayed in India was solely financed by a Korean monk and his friends in Korea. We should not take ourselves too seriously too.

      When I think about that Tibetans are refugees and what they have given to me and others, I cannot really complain but feel grateful. I don’t like this exploitation of faith of some very few of them but I can easily forgive and have patience when I consider the good things.

      BTW, we have also our own racist views …

  5. I was a member of Rigpa. I left because when I asked questions about the allegations that Sogyal Rinpoche abused women students, I never received an answer and the way I was dealt with made me feel more and more uncomfortable. I began to feel I was in a cult. One of the most cultish things was when they got me to have a one to one with an instructor who thanked my for sharing my perspective and then tried to make me look at why I was asking the questions instead of providing answers. She said she didn’t know anything about Sogyal Rinpoche’s private life. It felt like I was the one who was doing something wrong. I didn’t think so. If you can go on YouTube and see a young woman say to camera that Sogyal Rinpoche unexpectedly ordered her to undress and she felt she had to do it to prove her devotion, I think any reasonable person will have questions about that and that’s just one of the questionable things out there.

    What was a revelation to me, reading Olivier Raurich’s account, is the training he he describes being given in how to deal with questions about sexual harassment. He says he and others were trained by a very expensive expensive crisis communication agency not to answer the questions, but just to keep repeating key phrases and using the Dalai Lama’s name as much as possible. I was in Rigpa in a different country, but I totally recognise this approach having seen it in operation during my last period in Rigpa. I was told on several occasions that the Dalai Lama supports Sogyal Rinpoche and it was clear that I was supposed to conclude from this that all the allegations are false. Does the Dalai Lama know that this is how he is being used?

    I knew I was being deceived, I could feel the manipulation and the attempt to control me, but I had no idea that behind this there was a public relations strategy devised by highly paid consultants which was specifically devised to deflect questions and prevent anyone finding the truth. I think this is a disgrace. The conclusion I came to, even before reading Olivier Raurich’s account, is that something rotten is being hidden. We deserve better than this.

    • Thank you. I fully agree.

      • dharmaanarchist says:

        Though the question is, why didn’t Olivier Raurich phase out Rigpa in favour for one of the great teachers he met though Rigpa but stayed for nearly three decades, putting so much effort and time of his life into it when he wasn’t satisfied and had so many other options readily available….

        I mean, he was in Rigpa when they hosted events with Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche. He met them all! He could have done three year retreat under the guidance of the very humble and ethically impeccable Nyoshul Khenpo in France etc. If he decides Tibetan buddhism is not for him, there is Plum Village.

        Apart from the facts of SR’s very questionable female relationships and his authoritarian leadership style (again something you can take or leave, if you can’t stand it, why stay there??? There are other options with different leadership styles) the rest of the accusations is blown out of proportions. In earlier years he visited my town once a year and he always stayed at private homes, not at expensive hotels. Rigpa holds a lot of events over the internet, so the lama having state of the art electronic equipment seems adequate. The electronic devices for the apartment where he stayed (big flat screens when they were still expensive) were always borrorwed from sangha members (I know that, I volunteered with the German transport crew).

        • I mean, if the guru manipulates you to follow him and insists to be your guru etc etc. it is hard to leave such an environment of manipulation. I experienced this myself that’s why I have a clue what can hold you in such a relationship. However, it is hard to understand or to judge from the outside but I can’t agree with any attempt to reduce the complexity, manipulations and powers of such relationships. Karma is also a force here of course.

          I don’t know if the luxury level is blown out of proportion or not. But what you experienced in the past is no argument to refute a state of the presence because this can change over time. People from Rigpa told me stories in how SR is accommodated and what services it requires to accommodate him, it sounded like welcoming and servicing a spoilt prince.

          A Buddhist teacher couple told me also how they expelled SR decades ago when he checked in with his young girls and forbade him to ever cross the threshold of their Buddhist centre again. And then people told me stories of the retreats which resonate with Olivier’s account, to give an example: In 2010 SR offered spontaneously a hug “Shall I give you a hug?” and then his students (those who wanted to receive a hug) lined up to receive a hug. And while people were in the process of lining up he suddenly asked them “Where is your offering?”. Then those students ran to their places to get money from their wallets and lined up again. (Theoretically they could have just returned to your place and stayed there, thinking “No, not that way!”. Probably nobody would have even noticed. Yet psychologically in such an atmosphere of a hurry and stress it would have been quite difficult and rather unlikely that one would be able to go through such a process of radical mind change within a few minutes, which probably would go along with stressful feelings of be wilderness, irritation, disappointment, guilt or shame. So there would be rather a tendency to suppress those feelings and be conform with the majority.) That’s how the person, who witnessed the situation explained it.* (Similarly, SR strokes the ego of his students (especially powerful ones) in order to manipulate them. He praises them privately to create a bond with them but to prevent that they become too powerful (especially if they are rather sceptical or critical thinkers), he humiliates them in public when his students gathered with him. Or he uses them to increase his own fame by name dropping …)* However, what are these power games compared to the report of a three year retreatant who reported that SR frequently had sex with female three year retreatants?

          However, I have to say I don’t mind if he likes luxury or not, this is his business, however, I mind if people are harmed, manipulated, exploited or abused in the name of Dharma and enlightenment.

          * This section was corrected and updates on September 28, 2016

          • dharmaanarchist says:

            I met Olivier Raurich on several occasions in his function as a main instructor and he didn’t seem the meek, emotionally dependent person who is manipulated into something. He always gave me the impression he immensely enjoyed presenting in front of a crowd.

            My opinion is, he decided for Rigpa because he got something out of it for himself, and that’s the position he could hold there (which he wouldn’t have had somewhere else). And if that’s the case his complaining afterwards is hypocritical because his motivation was not so selfless and humble from the beginning.

            He himself writes he was critical from the beginning, and if he was, there isn’t much space for the emotional dependency you now claim because he never had the idealized, unrealistic image of him that you need for emotional dependency.

            • Of course, you stay in a group because you get something out of it for yourself. And people can stay in extreme destructive groups under extreme destructive teachers and can get something positive out of it. They can stay until the end of their life there or leaving after decades (see Feet of Clay – A Study of Gurus or Robert Lifton’s account on AUM/Shoko Asahara), this is nothing uncommon.

              Lets suppose it is true what you say, then there is a contradiction, because also what you describe here would be an emotional dependency – not to SR but to the organisation / position – and this dependency can be well exploited and manipulated too.

              Then there are some other issues to consider: 1) Motivations are usually not one dimensional but complex and can be mixed 2) it is quite of a common phenomenon that Westerners have a rather low self-esteem and escape that by taking on positions and responsibility in an Buddhist organisation, enjoying it (the question is if the practice of Dharma and the support of a healthy Sangha can contribute that this can transform over time); however, enjoying it can be also a joy for having found some meaning in life, not feeling worthless or not useful anymore 3) It is not uncommon that narcissistic personalities join Dharma centres or the Dharma. (I don’t say that Olivier is that type of person!)

              Now, if you construe a moral judgement like »My opinion is, he decided for Rigpa because he got something out of it for himself, and that’s the position he could hold there (which he wouldn’t have had somewhere else). And if that’s the case his complaining afterwards is hypocritical because his motivation was not so selfless and humble from the beginning.« I see some problems in how you construe your moral judgement: 1) I can’t remember to have met a person whose motivation was »selfless and humble from the beginning« when joining a Dharma centre; to expect that is »idealized, unrealistic«. 2) It is totally fine to get something out for yourself, the (spiritual) problems start if you do it at the costs of others or if it increases your mind poisons, corrupts your ethics etc., 3) coming with a motivation to find something good for yourself and not being selfless and humble is the condition of most human beings who enter Dharma organisations. It follows no one whatsoever under such conditions would have the moral right to criticise the organisation later because »complaining afterwards is hypocritical because his motivation was not so selfless and humble from the beginning.«

              • dharmaanarchist says:

                That’s all true. We all have mixed motivations.

                But what I see in Olivier now is like blaming a drug addiction on the dealer that sells the stuff when the person actively chose to take it. If I like the effects of cocain, then I can’t blame my habit on the guy who sells it.

                I can totally see that young, inexperienced, gullible girls fall for the “inner circle” trap around SR and get blinded, emotionally dependent and then harmed. But this here is something else entirely.

                • Cults function like drug addiction. Actual, powers and patterns of drug addiction is a perfect example to describe the functioning of cults. (I don’t say that Rigpa is a cult.) Now, with respect to your example. If I am a drug addict I am weak. If I allow my weakness to be exploited and if my weakness creates a condition to be exploited by a drug dealer, the drug dealer exploits my weakness and makes his business based on my weakness. But the drug dealer obviously doesn’t care because his own advantage or that of the organisation he is working for matters more. Now, if a drug addict leaves the vicious circle of this exploitative setting, why can’t he point to the damaging setting that exploits the needs of people for their own sake? Is moral judgement only possible if you have perfect ethics yourself and if you are beyond all weaknesses?

                  In general, the drug addict is in a weaker position and the drug dealer exploits that. Like the student is in a weaker position than the Dharma teacher as long as the Dharma teacher knows more than the student or has more insights than the students. Why can’t a weak person criticise a more powerful person? If the powerful person has the right to criticise the weak person, even ridicule him or her, is the job of the weak person whose weakness (or faith, naivity etc) was exploited to be silent about the drug dealer’s deeds and his environment?

  6. I don’t know why it took Olivier Raurich nearly 30 years to leave, but I do understand how this can happen. Olivier is not the only long-term student who eventually left.

    This is what I saw happening over 10 years. The authoritarianism was slowly ratcheted up. There was no critical discussion at all, so problems festered under the surface. Secrets were well kept, even from long-term members. Demands for money increased. Teachings on Guru Yoga got more extreme. We were monitored as part of ’sangha care’ with information kept in a database, but some of the information could only be entered by instructors who had interviewed us or administrators. I can understand how a long-term student might begin to feel trapped, but by then many years have gone by. What to do then?

    All long term students belong to something called the Dzogchen Mandala. This is what Rigpa currently says to those joining the Dzogchen Mandala, “The key essential point is this: by becoming a member of the Dzogchen Mandala, you pledge to follow all of Rinpoche’s instructions, to the best of your ability, for the rest of your life.”

    The problem is that this is a pledge made by people who don’t know what is going to be asked of them, or what is going on behind the scenes, because so much is kept secret. At least now there’s the internet, although the strong culture in Rigpa is to ignore or dismiss anything negative found there. We now know from Olivier that Rigpa spent a lot of money trying to deflect attention from the negative information on the internet. How can the student check the teacher out when the teacher’s organisation is actively hiding and distorting information?

    We can learn a lot from trying to understand how someone could leave after twenty eight years. We should also try to understand those who stay. Some can’t find a way out, but others want to stay. In my experience many are only managing to survive by practising “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” and are are happy to be reassured by the Dalai Lama support soundbites we now know were written by an expensive crisis communication agency.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      I have known Rigpa since the mid 90ies to now and I have to say that a certain authoritarian leadership style unfortunately was necessary at one point.

      In the 90ies the main people in Germany were a bunch of hugely ego trippy folks and those were the only ones that offered to do the amount of work needed to run a larger organisation like Rigpa. A lot of money was wasted for stupid projects, people were bullied etc. It was quite out of control and nasty. There are a variety of methods to deal with this and one of them is taking those people and putting them on a very, very tight leash. You simply couldn’t let them do things the way they saw fit and there was a need to critisize what they did and micromanage the organisation from top to bottom. You can find that authoritarian, but in my opinion (and I am the type who hates an authoritarian attitude and therefor never got more deeply involved in the organisation) at that point with those people (most of which I wouldn’t have liked to work with), it was one of the few reasonable options.

      I got the impression the leadership style got a bit more relaxed over the last five or so years, not more strict and I can certainly see some progress of some of these egotistical old timers that remain toward being more bearable. This authoritarian leadership style is geared at a certain type of personality that can indeed profit from it and heavily attracts this type too. If you are not that type of person, better stay away.

      • I guess this is the reasons why you throw plates with food onto the cook or why you have to have sex with three year retreatants or why you sleep with the wives of your students and asking even one of them to vow not to tell her husband – a vow that is a vow to lie, a vow to deceive, a vow which is spiritually extremely harmful because you accumulate day and night negative karma (see Abidharmakosha); a vow created to enable and to cover up sexual misconduct. A vow that manifests a misbehaviour, lying and dishonesty, that destroys the spiritual path of a person. I guess this all – as well as to command a young, pretty woman to “undress” – is needed to tame “a bunch of hugely ego trippy folks”.

        BTW, the proper application of “crazy wisdom” by a genuine Buddhist master leaves the person in a calmer and relieved state of mind, with new insights or a temporare cessation of mind poisons or narrow mindedness but “crazy wisdom” does not leave people in confusion, pain and mental turmoil as women experienced it. If that happens it was no “crazy wisdom” at all.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          Again. You have to see the sex escapades/his private household seperate from the general running of the organisation because SR keeps them seperated.

          Being an authoritarian boss has nothing to do with crazy wisdom, you will find this style of running things in tons of worldly work situations, too.

          • Dharma anarchist, you seem to justify everything that Sogyal does, all the abuse and misdmeanors perpetrated by him or in his name, by appeals to skilful means or blaming the victims. This is just deluding yourself with cultspeak publicly. ANYTHING can be justified by recourse to such arguments and frequently is by those unwilling to face the truth about a group or individual they have committed themselves to without thinking clearly in the first instance. Its easier to do this than to live with the consequences of ones own mistakes.

            Maybe take a moment to examine the facts, or listen to the voices of the dozens of women who claim they have been abused, instead of deluding yourself publicly.; try the duck test-if it swims like a duck and quacks like a duck,its probably a duck.

          • SOGYAL procured these women at PUBLIC teachings, then abused them in PRIVATE. SO THAT MAKES IT OK?

          • Dharmaanarchist, though my impression is that you try to justify the whole and to rather blur it + wanting to silence OR (he has no moral right to say sth.), there is one point that came to my mind that might underlie some of your comments or at least a point that came up in me as a thought after I read your comments: you cannot just leave an organisation without reflecting deeply what brought you in, what kept you there, what have you done, what was your part in that system and how you have contributed to the whole. Just leaving and pointing to the other side without considering your own contributions is quite incomplete.

            IMO, those who want to really understand an organisation they were part of must also see their role and contributions to its existence, to the damage done to others, and to its spread. However, usually this is a task done privately and it didn’t form a part of the interview. It might have been good the journalist had asked some questions regarding this. In general, I think, all learning processes regarding destructive structures start from seeing the whole and one’s own role in it. Its a lot of work and needs a lot of reflections and the accumulation of a lot of knowledge etc etc.

            • dharmaanarchist says:

              I report what I observed.

              And if that’s not as uniformly abusive as other claims, that’s not something you can blame on me. I stick to the truth of what I have personally seen.

              Don’t start to get one sided in only believing the most horrible things people have to say. And by the way, in the end of the day you can never be sure who is telling the objectively verifiable truth and who is not anyway. Don’t be so naive to believe absolutely everything people say just as long as it’s negative and fits into the overall negative view you have about Rigpa. Because people leave religious organisations out of all kind of personal/emotional reasons, and after you left, it’s probably not unlikely that you will paint that organisation in the worst possible way, just like you paint your ex partner with who you broke up in the worst possible way, even if that person has never done anything seriously abusive to you that objectively justifies your hate.

              After all, you have not been personally involved in the organisation. So if you begin to believe the “everything there is horrible” sayers and don’t believe what I have witnessed (or have not witnessed) in nearly 20 years just because it doesn’t fit your image of the organisation, where is your objectivity and where is your right view and speech? When you basically blame me I am not telling the truth because my personal impression of the organisation over 15 years is overall apparently “not negative enough”? Yeah, sorry for in 15 years in attending events every year not having witnessed certain thing some other people have claimed (named donation envelopes, hugs for money, money wasting luxury lifestyle, frequent requests for donations by SR personally, negative consequences if you don’t donate), while having witnessed clear signs for other problematic behaviours (his relationships with women, his tendency to create a strong split of inner circle and “ordinary” followers, his in my opinion unhealthy general pedantism, I don’t count his authoritarian attitude here because while I and many other people don’t like it and it’s not good for them/me, there are people for who this approach is helpful, so I can accept that there are teachers/vajra masters out there who work in that way, just I personally will steer clear of them, with no further blame).

              • Yes, and others reported what they observed. Your experiences do neither invalidate their experiences nor do their experiences invalidate your experiences. Good and bad experiences can coexist.

                Members of the group under criticism tend to use their own good experiences to invalidate the experiences of those who report about their bad experiences. But I think this is a mistaken approach because it denies the possibility of the coexistence of good and bad.

                Don’t start to get one sided in only believing the most horrible things people have to say.

                The same to you. Don’t start to get one sided in only believing in your own experiences, rejecting what others have to say. I received enough testimonies, reports and personal stories to assume (or to conclude) rather safely that there is a pattern of abuse; also, many of the stories resonate well with each other, instead of contradicting each other. Therefore, for me, there is more reason to doubt Rigpa / SR than to doubt those who reported their bad stories because there are many, many similarities in the stories of ex-Rigpa; and the dishonesty and lack of transparency in how Rigpa deals with it does not invite any faith but doubts. BTW, Mary Finnigan – an established journalist working of The Guardian – said that she has for every of the claims she made double checked sources. (Its a while ago when I read it but it was the starting point of my own investigations and nothing I heard, read or listened too, contradicted the over all image she portrayed. [Of course you have to ignore the deep feelings of disgust in her writings and focus on what she claimed had happened.])

                Therefore, pls do also what you ask others to do:

                So if you begin to believe the “everything there is nice” sayers and don’t believe what others witnessed (or have not witnessed) in nearly 30 years just because it doesn’t fit your image of the organisation, where is your objectivity and where is your right view and speech?

                Now you say:

                And by the way, in the end of the day you can never be sure who is telling the objectively verifiable truth and who is not anyway. Don’t be so naive to believe absolutely everything people say just as long as it’s negative and fits into the overall negative view you have about Rigpa. Because people leave religious organisations out of all kind of personal/emotional reasons, and after you left, it’s probably not unlikely that you will paint that organisation in the worst possible way, just like you paint your ex partner with who you broke up in the worst possible way, even if that person has never done anything seriously abusive to you that objectively justifies your hate.

                I see. You claim that I am naive and that I have an overall negative view of Rigpa, that I use ex-Rigpa’s account to fill my “overall negative view about Rigpa”. By this you wrongly insinuate that I can’t judge this, that I am negative, deluded, carried away by negativity, and therefore totally wrong. But the point is that you ignore all of the work I have done and my background. I have spoken with Ex-Rigpa, with Rigpa and a Rigpa official. I see also the good things Rigpa followers are doing and I like them – I have not the slightest aversion against any Rigpa follower. I rather admire their dedication and hard work and sometimes I joke – but with a sense of appreciation – “To learn from Rigpa means to be victorious!”, reminding that they are well organised. I have also friends among Rigpas. The centre I support is befriended with Rigpa too and they helped us tremendously during the Karmapa visit. I read different accounts, I’ve asked Buddhists who know or met SR or invited him. Women and inner Dzogchen Mandala members shared their stories with me.

                I have also some experiences with cults and I know how they distort the facts and undermine one’s critical faculties. So, you sow deliberately doubts about my investigations and those who speak about their experiences but you don’t doubt the slightest your own perceptions or level of knowledge or perspective. At the same time you accuse me to “get one-sided” … Mhm, not very convincing to me.

                Moreover, you fall into the same damage control tactics of the NKT (or cults in general): you accuse those who left the organisation and who report about their negative experiences to be led by hate but you don’t have any proof for this claim. (And even if they are led by hate, this would be no proof whatsoever that they lied. A woman being raped might be full of hate, but when she speaks about the rape with anger, this anger does not deny the fact that she was raped.) Again, this approach – to insinuate hate as a motivation of ex-groups members or critics and thereby suggesting they have a bad motivation and can’t be trusted – reminds me strongly on cults and their way to deal with critics and it does in no way convince me but makes me even more suspicious. You can leave a group and speak about your experiences without hate. I know that from myself. But what NKT followers regularly throw on me is this wrong accusation I would be led by hate, “a disgruntled ex-member” – though all who know me, know also that this is not true. BTW, one of those who spread this claim in the internet that I am full of hate, later contacted me and realised that it is not true. He settled, listened to the arguments, checked with his experiences and observations, understood, left the organisation and founded an important self-help group for ex-NKT.

                After all, you have not been personally involved in the organisation. So if you begin to believe the “everything there is horrible” sayers and don’t believe what I have witnessed (or have not witnessed) in nearly 20 years just because it doesn’t fit your image of the organisation, where is your objectivity and where is your right view and speech? When you basically blame me I am not telling the truth because my personal impression of the organisation over 15 years is overall apparently “not negative enough”? Yeah, sorry for in 15 years in attending events every year not having witnessed certain thing some other people have claimed (named donation envelopes, hugs for money, money wasting luxury lifestyle, frequent requests for donations by SR personally, negative consequences if you don’t donate), while having witnessed clear signs for other problematic behaviours (his relationships with women, his tendency to create a strong split of inner circle and “ordinary” followers, his in my opinion unhealthy general pedantism, I don’t count his authoritarian attitude here because while I and many other people don’t like it and it’s not good for them/me, there are people for who this approach is helpful, so I can accept that there are teachers/vajra masters out there who work in that way, just I personally will steer clear of them, with no further blame).

                No, I haven’t been in the organisation. Its enough for me what I got from reports or testimonies (orally or written or read) and the discussions I had with the groups of people I already listed – including Buddhist teachers –, occasional attenders, and how I experienced SR myself during teachings in India 2006 and in Copenhagen (2004?). However, I believe also in your experiences. For me there is no contradiction. As I said and as accounts of abusive systems demonstrate, good and very bad experiences can coexist, they do not necessarily invalidate each other. But to understand them needs more investigation and thinking and you need some knowledge about destructive group structures. Though I respect your experiences I don’t buy in this artificial separation of privat and public Rigpa because this inner secret total obedience circle is nothing that can be separated from Rigpa and it is a very dangerous thing because it offers absolute power to SR and it gives space to all types of abuse.

                With respect to the authoritarian style, I have reports of people who were damaged really badly by it, including their family, or who had to seek therapy. Damaging others in such ways, damaging women is not the Dharma. However, this does not deny that you and others made good experiences and that you didn’t experience what others reported. This does also not deny that Rigpa followers do good things and are very devoted and diligent people who want to achieve at the end only goodness.

                • BTW, having layers closer to the leader like in this case opens up the potential for various kinds of abuse – with those on the outer edges of the group having very little knowledge or experience of what it is like to be part of the privileged ‘inner circle’. Those on the outer edge perhaps envying those with access to the leader.

                  Some of those on the outer edge could also long for to be part of the ‘inner circle’ and this longing can give rise to all types of (unhealthy) promises or commitments just for the sake to become a member of the ‘inner circle’ and to be closer to the leader. Once committed to (unhealthy) promises or to an (unhealthy) ‘inner circle’, it will be very hard to cultivate the clarity and bravery to admit that you corrupted your own moral compass and that you made wrong decisions.

                  An academic wrote once that an example of multiple levels of groups that is well documented in the public domain is Ananda Marga. This person recommended a well researched article in the South China Morning Post:

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          As far as I understand it a vow to conceal an unethical action of another person is null and void.

          Again: What is going on in the organisation and in SRs private inner circles are two different affairs. As Olivier Raurich mentioned, those not directly in the personal inner circle of SR, for example national directors, employees of the national branches of Rigpa don’t have any access to SR’s inner circle where the sexual misconduct happens and they are not sexually exploited. They are just exposed to SR’s style of leadership, nothing else.

          And as far as the financial requests go, I have attended events with SR regularly every year for about 15 years and I have never witnessed a “hugs for money” scene. There were regular requests for donations from Rigpa, mostly when finances got tight around one of their big projects (they are all rather miscalculated when you ask me) and mostly they came through begging emails from Rigpa national or Lerab Ling, or through the instructors at local events at home, hardly ever from SR directly. People who wouldn’t donate were not ostracised and I have never witnessed, that donations were requested in named envelops.

          • As far as I understand it a vow to conceal an unethical action of another person is null and void.

            If you vow a negative action like here to lie and to deceive your husband, then this is a negative vow (technically called “non-vow”) that functions and you will accumulate day and night negative karma. That the vow came into existence with the wish to conceal a negative action makes it only more perverse.

            The Abidharmakosha states:

            Non-vows are acquired
            Through the activities or a pledge. [4.37ab]

            QUESTION: In relation to what are non-vows acquired?
            RESPONSE: If a butcher, for example, is born into that caste from the beginning, they are acquired by engaging in such activities. Or, if one is not born into such a caste from the beginning, they are acquired through going before the head of the area, for example, and pledging, “I will make my livelihood by this,” and, having generated a wrong mind, to actually engage in such activities.

            I don’t think that these are two different affairs what is going on in the organisation and what you call here the “private circle” because, as MS rightly pointed out there is the Dzogchen Mandala, the inner secret heart of Rigpa, where you promise to follow all of SR’s commands (to the best of your abilities). The dynamics of such a secrecy club will pull people to it (it creates an undertow, a desire to be part of that elitist circle, and people readily will ignore their healthy gut feelings or common sense just for the sake to be part of this elitist circle). As the very inner core of a few totally committed followers who promised to obey it has quite of a power and quite of a drive for the organisation and it cannot be be separated artificially from the organisation. It’s its heart. OK, separate it and then the organisation will be dead like separating a being from its heart …

            The “hug for money” scene was directly reported to me by a person who was in Lerab Ling where it happened. Just because you are not aware of it doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen because to be sure that it never happened you must have been at all events. The person also reported that there was a high level of pressure, after having been offered and received a hug and then being scolded not to offer money for it. Those who were already on the stage had to go quickly to their places to get to their wallet and to fill an envelope with money.

  7. In my opinion, the authoritarianism goes through the whole organisation, from Sogyal Rinpoche’s household right down to the person cleaning the center. You just do not say ‘no’ to Sogyal Rinpoche if you want to be any part of his organisation and that includes people who have only signed up for an open retreat. It includes, to give just a few examples, the young woman who feels she can’t say no to sex, down through the worker who accepts a public telling off to the student who cooperates with ever more intrusive organisational monitoring and demands for money.

    dharmaanarchist, you must have seen the public humiliations. These have not stopped or reduced in recent years. New people are not immune from public humiliation if they express doubts or try to ask a question during the teachings. As successive scandals hit the organisation in recent years the Dzogchen Mandala has been increasingly tightened to try and ensure that every member follows Sogyal Rinpoche’s instructions and maintains a pure view of him. All the members had to reapply in 2014. For me, this was one of the clear signs of increased authoritarianism.

    I understand that you have seen a more relaxed leadership style over the last five years or so dharmaanarchist. I honestly did not.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      Yes, I definitely saw those public critizism sessions. My impression is that this was most frequent and intense in the earlier 2000er years, where it happened nearly every session and sometimes took a substantial part of the teaching time, and began to get gradually and consistantly less frequent and less intense around 2008 or so. Don’t know how it continued since 2013, that was the last year I attended a retreat.

      The reason those didn’t make me leave immediately is that firstly, I had seen quite a lot of BS going on in Rigpa on the organisation level, so I assume that critizism of what they are doing is not undeserved. But I was asking myself if this type of pressure really improves the quality of the work. The other reason why that didn’t make me leave, it seems I am quite attached to this lineage in general, as most of the teachers I ever felt connected with are mainly Longchen Nyingthik lineage. I’m definitely loyal to that and will always be.

      I have said “no” to stuff they were throwing at me on occasion (mainly during my time on the volunteer team), it never had any negative consequences. They were maybe a bit surprised but swallowed the fact quite nicely. I questioned stuff at meetings on the local level too, including on occasion what SR said in teachings videos when it was discussed afterwards. That made me a bit of an oddball because I was usually the only one, but it never had any negative consequences, I was never ostracised, questioned etc despite everyone knowing about my critical mindset. I was never put under any pressure to make me one of the cheery party line crowd. (And they will certainly NOT get rid of me anyway because I am part of that lineage just like they are, we share samaya, they will have to put up with me forever, whether they like it or not.)

      I can’t say anything about the Dzogchen mandala, I know several people who are in it (and still have regularly contact with them), but I myself was not included when it was introduced in the year 2000 (people at that point were selected for it, they didn’t apply themselves) and never applied because I always had other teachers beside SR and I never felt so personally close to SR (probably I felt too weary of him on a personal level to permit the type of mind to mind transmission that is needed for dzogchen transmission).

  8. Yangchen says:

    Dear MS and Tenpel-la

    I absolutely agree with your point of view.

    Knowing SR for 30 years, it has been my experience, that the public humiliations have even become worse. I have witnessed “training sessions” of students in front of hundreds of people, which have really broken my heart. If he were a responsible teacher, he would not give his students such a hard time. Life is hard enough, why make it even harder for the students? It is really unbelievable. It is as Dharma became tainted with delusion, injustice, lack of heart, competition, fear and all the rest. What a disgrace for the Buddha Dharma.

    However, being aware of interdependence, SR is not the only one to be blamed. An insatiable need for love, gratification and belonging on the part of the student has to be considered. BUT SR is supposed to be the teacher, the refuge, the guide to Enlightenment. In the case of the Dzogchen Mandala, he is demanding life long devotion. His behaviour makes it hard for the students to fulfil this commitment.

    Having left SR and Rigpa I have learned to be happy in the Dharma again………..But honestly speaking, there is still a nagging feeling of unease in my heart, because after all, I have promised and somehow broken the promise. It is really hard to get rid of this feeling. However, I always remember the Dalai Lamas words regarding the teacher/student relationship. This gives me a lot of comfort and confidence.

    Actually we should have compassion for sentient beings and devotion to the teacher. In this case having compassion for the teacher protects my heart.

    • In this case having compassion for the teacher protects my heart.

      Thank you for your comment, Yangchen la.

      Not cultivating compassion for my abusive teachers over years was the worst thing I did. The Tibetan texts encourage not to train in compassion towards one’s teacher but in “faith and respect” (in the Theravada, your teacher is recommended as the object of metta). This Tibetan approach not to cultivate compassion and love to my (abusive) teachers didn’t help me at all. But to cultivate love and compassion to them (after I had left them) really helped me and it protects my heart too – until today. I can only agree with you.

      I think, I know this feeling you describe “I have promised and somehow broken the promise. It is really hard to get rid of this feeling”. I had a deep doubt or uncertainty or feeling of guilt or so in my heart if I did right or wrong by leaving my teachers. Though I had enough reasons and knew intellectually it was right, my heart couldn’t feel it and doubted somewhat this decision deeply. It needed a really good Dzogchen master, Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche, to get rid of this feeling. When Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche taught Patrul Rinpoche’s “Words of My Perfect Teacher” in Berlin 2003, he came to the point where the wrong teachers were explained and when he taught about “Like the frog in the well”-teacher, it was as if he told what I had experienced and then he summed the whole (some people said he looked all of the time at me when he explained it while I was busy to make notes while carefully listening): “These teachers must be abandoned because they lead students onto wrong paths.” When he said this, my feeling of unease or guilt or doubt (whatever it was) was totally released at once, and I felt like a big burden has gone from my heart. This release was thorough and prevailing. The feeling of doubt or uncertainty or guilt – what ever it was – came never back because I deeply realised (though his blessing or power of speech or so), I did the right thing. It was the right decision I made when I left my abusive teachers. Though I knew it intellectually until this point my heart could not see or feel it, it was blocked due to all of this “brainwashing” and poisoned Dharma that had only been used to bind people to unhealthy teachers and their unhealthy organisations.

      • Later the day it came to my mind what important teaching I received too from the Dzogchen master, HE Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche. I thought it might be good to share it because it really teaches something.

        I went to Hamburg to receive Dzogchen teachings from him. Having made a certain experience in the break of the course, I approached Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche and asked him about it. He explained it and gave me an instruction what to do next time. Then I said to him: “I think I experienced this due to your blessings?” He replied: “No. This has nothing to do with me but your faith in the teachings and the lineage.” This was the first time a teacher didn’t ascribe good experiences I made to himself, he even rejected immediately the trial from my side to do so.

        My misleading teachers and their followers incorrectly ascribed all the good experiences to the teacher and all bad experiences to the student’s negativity / negative Karma.

        • SR whatever he did and is doing wrong seems to be protected and supported by almost the entire tibetan supposed elite and by political leaders…as Trungpa and his regent were.
          Dear Tenpel, don’t give any importance to your experience in meditation , it takes years of deep guided practice to gain real experience and understanding of the true nature of mind, and years to be more and more ignorant playing a kind of realisation. I have no confidence in all the masters who teach in SR presence, or Trungpa before. There are still some few lineages who are not connected with what few people may think corrupted and decadent since decades. Good luck!!!
          Read :

          • There are also few critical voices in the Tibetan elite … however, too few …

            Most Westerners might interpret what you describe here (“doing wrong seems to be protected and supported by almost the entire tibetan supposed elite and by political leaders”) as a selfish or ignorant motivation at the side of the Tibetan lamas. I would be careful to claim this. In general, Tibetans as well as Asian culture have different values and stress different things than western societies. Tibetans in general – especially educated lamas or practitioners – see things also much from the pov of kindness. Who was kind to them or helped them, towards them they cultivate or feel an immense sense of gratitude. In general they really aim to repay that kindness. So if SR helped different lamas or political leaders they will remember that and won’t easily do sth. that might harm his work. Another matter is how much they are informed about these things, and how much they believe in the accusations of Westerners – this includes the question: Whom do they see as more reliable, one from their own nation or Westerners? One of the Rinpoches, who was made aware of the SR saga, replied, he doesn’t believe in the accusations. When being made aware of the SR part of the documentary “In the name of enlightenment” he concluded, that the group/person who uploaded it on YouTube must have had a negative motivation in doing so (hostile against Buddhism). The concept of European enlightenment is very often not familiar to them either, so it is hard for them to understand why someone has a wish to enlighten / make aware people of the shadow sides of a person. Another issue to consider is: in Asian cultures the welfare of the group/family/society matters more than the welfare of the individual, that’s why, individual damage is not much stressed if the over all benefit seems to be great, and there is a tendency among the Dharma practitioners to focus on the good sides of a person and to rather oversee shadow sides or to have tolerance towards them. I think, these and some other factors contribute to the responses at the side of Tibetans. It will be very hard to pin point a negative or selfish motivation behind why they support SR, and I guess, most don’t have one. Context, culture etc. is important to consider if one wants to understand the whole.

            PP, I only mentioned the background of the story – nothing special from my side – but special was for me how Rinpoche responded to it. I expected already that people might misunderstand it. I will delete parts of the comment now to prevent further confusion.

            The book you link is not very convincing for me. I read parts of it – especially the Dalai Lama and the Ch. Trungpa chapter.
            I think my knowledge is good enough to jugde the Dalai Lama chapter, and it is really very weak, mistaken and questionable. Having read this chapter twice in the past already and seeing its weaknesses and the desperate trial of the author to gather under all means things from here and there together that have nothing to do with the person of the Dalai Lama or his character but using these bits and parts from here and there only for the purpose to attach in an unfair manner a shadow side on him, it is hard for me to take the rest of the book seriously, because a subject I know well is so badly and questionably presented that I cannot trust the rest of the content easily.

            However, I noted that this book exists. I wrote a while ago a more detailed critic about the DL chapter of that book. If anybody is interested I will try to find it and post it here (or I write it anew). For the time being I could only find this comment with some thoughts about it:

            • Tenpel,i want to thank you for for this very interesting answer.
              You insist on the cultural habits of tibeto-tibetans relations, and what i see from my westener side is quite different. The mutual tolerance in the tibetan “Elite” for the obvious misbehaviour of some of it’s members is schoking to me. I will give you a short example that you can find on your blog too:
              In the name of crazy wisdom so many abuses were obviously sadly accepted…as “wisdom” proofs.
              Poor westeners with two karamapas but one SR ;-)
              I wont dicuss about HH Dalai Lama way of life, his visit to SR, Sakyong, and so on, because i really don’t know him and i’m not interested and a little bit disgussed by mundane-political-financial activity of tibetan monks in general
              .The chapter of Falk book speaks from other funny cases like Jetsnuma and others…
              I wish you the best.

              • There are even more different cultural things to be considered which include the different dealing with sexuality and relations. This topic was already mentioned in Sir Charles Bell’s book about the 13th Dalai Lama though he doesn’t go into details. I am not an expert about it but made some few observations. So, I don’t know all the details about these topics, sexuality and relations, but it seems in general many Tibetans don’t see a contradiction to heal others AND to have sex with them. I remember stories of a teacher and healer from the Nyingma tradition in Germany, I think it was a lay Rinpoche, who healed people and had sex with some of his female clients. For him this was not the slightest problem but for the women it became one. The problems seem to have arisen because the women expected to be the only ones and to be treated special afterwards but he engaged with them and then “dropped” them. You might think this is brutal. Not necessarily, from the pov of not clinging and not building big expectations there are fewer problems by engaging and then letting go. So for the person who does not cling and who has no expectation afterwards, there are no problems. Western psychologists might interpret this as anti-social or so. But this could also be a cultural projection …

                Another healing lama and teacher from the Nyingma school who was invited by some friends and me – he had clairvoyance and healing powers, he was extremely kind, compassionate and also funny and easy (I really love him!) – had also sex with some of his patients. He was warned before he started his healing business to not have sex with female clients by a person who knows the Tibetan culture well, but he ignored that advice and didn’t like to be taught about the problems this can or will bring in Western society. And it brought problems. Two women got pregnant, one aborted the child. The lady with the kid insisted on his role as a father (she is a feminist) and demanded some things from him. After an angry and demanding telephone call by her he never contacted her again. This healer (Ngakpa) had two women in India and kids together with them. They lived together in harmony. However, one of the women (she was suggested by Dujom Rinpoche to him as a consort and wife) who had also healing powers and she knew (or got to know or saw) what happened in Germany, scolded him and left him when he came back. I, as a monk, could not invite him either because one of the women was made pregnant in my own bed (without my knowledge) and I didn’t know about what can happen on that level if you invite such a person. However, he helped a lot of people and he was really kind and compassionate. I truly love him.

                I remember an interview he had (I translated for a lot of people). People asked a lot about relationships. Then one person asked about advice because a certain woman he wanted to be in relation with but who didn’t want to be with him in relation … He looked at him, saw the pain of clinging so much to her and replied: “Oh, why don’t you just take another wife? There are so many women! You don’t have to be in relation with her, there are plenty of other women.” The man looked surprised, and then the healer continued: “Make it like me. Look, I have two wives, one for the left side (pointing to the left side of his body), one for the right side (pointing to the right side of his body).” and he made gestures how nice and comfortable it is in-between the two women, and he laughed and laughed. The man didn’t understand. But I understood, that if there is too much clinging, there will be all of these problems, if there is less clinging you can just enjoy in the condition you and others share or have.

                I guess you know that there were women in Tibet who had different husbands; or that brothers in Tibet shared one woman as their wife – based on mutual agreement. So this topic and the different cultural habits and approaches need to be considered too.

                I don’t feel poor that there are two Karmapas. If you understand how this can be possible then there is not too much of a problem.

                With respect to crazy wisdom. Crazy wisdom exists and I have friends who were disciples of such a lama – a genius who was also a great philosopher. You cannot imagine how many stories I heard and how strange they appeared to me as a Gelugpa and a German ;-) However, all of the stories had one shared characteristic: all of the persons who became objects of crazy wisdom, had a type of an insight, new understanding, a letting go of a bad habit, a deeper mental freedom, a healthy learning process and not the slightest problem afterwards nor a long term problem with it. So true crazy wisdom will always lead to a benefit and never to a long term harm. (There was no report at all by the way about this Nyingma teacher, that he had sex with his students. He was a lay teacher and Rinpoche.)

                As I said, I noted Falk, but Falk is not even able to write a sane chapter about the Dalai Lama, and how he wrote that is unethical and unfair. Things must be started to be explored by understanding the inner logic of a system, culture, nation, society, their values etc and then they must be presented in a fair manner. I can’t see that.

              • BTW, being shocked, I see it that way:
                To be shocked, is a reflection of one’s own expectations. Obviously, you expected something else and what you expected comes from your inner world and culture and its values etc, and what you face comes from another world and culture and it values etc. To be shocked is a sign of that the mind was not in line with reality. Therefore, I think, it is better to respond to a shock by getting better knowledge about reality than being disappointed. Because nothing will be learned from being disappointed but a lot can be learned by putting yourself into the shoes of another person, society, nation, culture … and to really try to understand how they function and why they function like this …

                • Thank you Tempel for your kind answer.
                  I won’t follow your advice of “putting myself in others shoes”, especially in what appears to me as the roten theocratic part of tibetan religious culture and its mutual clanic and financial interconections, and hypothetical lineage transmissions.

                  I saw since 40 years so many poor sincere westeners spending their youth and money building splendid temples for holy liars, sexploiters, drugs and money addicts, and who were asked to think these crooks were Mahasiddhas, lamas, and Buddhas. In full “harmony” with the tibetan leaders often invited.
                  For example about crazy wisdom, i can’t compare Trungpa,SR, and Virupa…if you see what i mean.

                  In the 80’s, I remember Dudjom Rimpoché giving a teatching in Paris, translated in English by SR, who used repeteadly the word orgasm ( for Dewa), and the pink face of the westener monk translating this flow of erotic terminology in front an astonished public.
                  I still laugh when i remeber this silly SR hysterical behaviour.
                  But, i wont bother you anymore , gentle Gelug monk,and wish you not to loose your way if there is one. Mangalam ! ;-)

                  • Thank you for the discussion and your kindness, PP, and for your flexibility in discussing this!

                    Putting yourself in the shoes of others is the essence of Mahayana-Dharma (great compassion), I think. It is needed on the one hand so that compassion and wisdom/understanding can grow. But it is also needed on the other hand to find peace with yourself and the world by not getting attached to negativity and been carried away by negative phenomena (to stay de-attached while at the same time see what there really is but to see that with inner peace – see this patience description). Those who can understand others cannot really get angry or upset with them, nor will they accept misdeeds but they won’t look down on them or condemn them, feeling elevated by a feeling of superiority to be better than the object they are condemning. So this will help to see humans as humans without an inhuman perspective that lacks compassion, understanding/wisdom.

                    Condemning is very easy, its the path of the lazy who don’t want to understand and to change perspective.*
                    Understanding is hard and needs work but finally it will help oneself and others in growing in wisdom, compassion, acceptance, healthy disillusionment, inner peace and it leaves the door open to deal with things in a healthy way without feeling down, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, learning and focusing on the good sides which enable further inner growth.

                    We are living in Samsara, the desire realm, dominated by the desire for food and sex (as the Abhidharmakosha defines it), there are the forces of karma. Nothing is easy, no easy answers can be found. So we all have to make the best out of it and to focus on what helps us to grow I think.

                    With respect to crazy wisdom, it is how I understood it but maybe I am wrong. However, with respect to Trungpa I decided not to involve myself. Virupa seems to have been genuine. He was also able to restore faith by using his siddhis. Virupa and Trungpa are dead already. However, SR is living and damage has been done and seems to continue. He was also not able to restore faith by siddhis but he/Rigpa used an expensive PR agency for damage control – ha ha ha. However, there are/were Siddhas, and I believe in the Siddhas. The problem is, that some claim to be Siddhas without being so and that Western naive fools believe easily in such self-proclamations while Tibetans don’t do that easily!

                    Our Western society is also rotten as any society is because sentient beings are pervaded by greed, ignorance and anger (some more some less) – “But power and greed and corruptible seed Seem to be all that there is” (Bob Dylan in Blind Willie McTell). However, there are good things and I focus mainly on those because they form the basis for a positive change for myself and society. The bad things have to be faced, I think, from the point of view of understanding, having a human, compassionate yet wise perspective, not allowing to be carried away by disgust and condemnations. And then one has to think if one wants or doesn’t want to engage and when it is time to do sth or to shut up or focus on other topics. Not easy.

                    With respect to your Dewa/orgasm story, this matches well with what a Tibetan translator told me recently. SR was on a stage (as the star) and then he suddenly invited a well educated Geshe to speak on the stage and offered to translate for him. The Tibetan translator observed that SR could not grasp the Dharma terminology and started to improvise the translation …

                    My final thought as a westerner with deep appreciation for Indo-Tibetan Buddhism as well as our own cultural achievements, enlightenment starts from the goal to understand. I like Hannah Arendt’s approach, she started from “I want to understand!”.

                    Thank you for your good wishes.
                    May all your spiritual wishes be fulfilled.
                    Sarva Mangalam! ;-)

                    * A Western Buddhist nun and a teacher of me quoted different times Anselm Grün:

                    Who condemns others has not met himself yet. (Wer andere verurteilt, ist sich noch nichts selbst begegnet.)

                    • What I want to add here is following observation: After having Rigpa left, I started to study intensively from other teachers, by books and so on.

                      While reading books of Thrangu Rinpoche (, It happended that certain parts appeared quite familiar to me.

                      Then I realized, that ESLF (Eldest Son of Lakhar Familiy, the title Rinpoche is considered inapprobiate to me nowadays) had been quoting quite extensively from the books and teachings of Thrangu Rinpoche.

                      Nothing bad about it, so far, but when continuing my “studies” with books of other masters, the same happened to me.

                      So i got the feeling that ESLF is very effectively using the words of others, but leaving his students in the believe its his own words.
                      As I know there is nothing bad in reapeting the teachings of others, but if it happens to such extent as I knew then, I start doubting the qualification of a teacher, when nothing seems his work.

              • joanneclark7 says:

                PP I agree with you that the problems with Sogyal cannot be addressed without addressing the culture of loyalty and silence that continues to support him. I am many years out from my last teaching with him– and I only stayed with him for a year or so– but even today, I wish from my heart that I had never walked into a Rigpa event. Part of my problems came from Sogyal himself and his emphasis on complete guru devotion, as well as his horrid habit of abusing students in public– and part of my problems came from my own excessive need to be completely devoted and “born again.” So I do acknowledge my own culpability, my own part. But there’s little help from the Tibetan establishment regarding Sogyal’s part.

                The Kagyu teacher that I turned to after leaving Rigpa said, “Sogyal Rinpoche is a great teacher– but if you want to practice here, you can do that.” And I slaved and I prostrated and I put everything I had into following this lama’s advice, but I never progressed with him– or with any of the others at that monastery. I only became more confused and more troubled. This is because I really had gone a little mad during my time with Rigpa– and they simply saw me as a mad student and they treated me very strangely, never looking me in the eyes, giving me odd, cryptic answers to all my questions etc. If they had looked closer they might have seen that I had simply been led astray by Sogyal. And that a sane, stable, straightforward, honest and authentic approach to Dharma, such as that provided by HH Dalai Lama, was all that I needed to get back on my feet, find trust and recover from Rigpa madness.

                So for me, the failure of other Tibetan lamas to acknowledge the real harm caused by Sogyal’s approach to Dharma meant that they could not help me recover. They saw my problems as all my own doing. And I think the same thing happened with NKT survivors in the early years. Until other Tibetan lamas could acknowledge the harm, they couldn’t help ex-NKT.

                Right now, even HH Karmapa praises Sogyal. I don’t think such staunch loyalty is helpful at this stage. At the same time, I agree with Dharmaanarchist that Sogyal does help some students. I think Kelsang Gyatso has helped students as well. And probably that is why HH Karmapa praises Sogyal. But surely at some point, harm needs to be acknowledged so that the burden is not carried alone by the survivors. We can say that a good cook helps nourish people– but if he has a bad habit of adding poison to some dishes, then we simply can’t keep giving compliments and standing loyally by his dishes. People have to be warned and supported.

                • dharmaanarchist says:

                  You claim it’s SR’s fault that you got yourself into a mental illness in the one year you have attended Rigpa events, which completely messed you up and prevented you from being able to practice with other lamas afterwards?

                  Honestly, if you develop a mental illness, you can not blame that on attending Rigpa events for one year. Some things you describe (like people deliberately not looking in your eyes, giving cryptic answers etc) sound outright like paranoid schizophrenia. And if got “a little mad” in a psychiatric sense, a religious group is in general not the place where you find treatment for it. People in religious organisations are not trained to handle someone who for example develops mania, schizophrenia, clinical depressions. They don’t know what to do with a sufferer and for this reason might treat the sufferer not adequately. But that’s not something you can blame on them or their religion.

                  Please get yourself psychiatric and psychotherapeutic help for your problems. A social worker might also be helpful. I can assure you, dharma teachers/dharma practice (or other priests) can not help you with acute mental illness.

                  • joanneclark7 says:

                    Good grief, Dharmaanarchist, calm down. This is the sort of marginalization people with issues of mental illness experience all the time and it’s very sad. I actually have a valid point of view you know– and I am quite stable now, without ever needing a social worker or psychotherapist. How can you know what I need or what I experienced? In fact, the Dharma was all I needed. That was my point. If Rigpa had simply provided me with Dharma– and left out all the guru hype and the trauma of watching public humiliations, then I wouldn’t have run into trouble. I know that now, I know that Rigpa is not a particularly healthy Dharma environment. In fact, I watched other people in much worse shape than myself.

                    As a Dharma practitioner and as a counselor myself, I believe that it’s important to treat everyone with respect and to validate their points of view. The attitude that you just exhibited is precisely why I stay away from Dharma centers.

                    • I agree with you Joanne. The Guru hype and public humiliations create a completely unhealthy environment. Then when the constant demands for complete guru devotion begin to collide with the allegations that Sogyal Rinpoche sexually abuses young women students, it get’s worse. I don’t know how I kept my sanity and I know other students and ex-students who describe themselves as going though hell. In my experience a year is plenty of time to lose your reference points and experience severe mental distress. I admire your recognition, Joanne, that part of you problems came from your “excessive need to be completely devoted and “born again.”” A healthy sangha and teacher would recognise this possibility, which many are susceptible to including me, and wouldn’t do things to exacerbate it.

                      There is a terrible tendency in Rigpa to blame others and take no responsibility themselves. From my experience I can say that this comes from the top, from Sogyal Rinpoche himself. So I am not surprised to see your experience being blamed on your so called “mental illness.” Going a “little mad” in an insane situation is not madness in my view, although the suffering is still terrible. I also think Sogyal Rinpoche has done good things, so you, me and dharmaanarchist can all agree on that, but I find the total refusal in Rigpa and apparently in the whole Tibetan Buddhist establishment to recognise that he has done harm scandalous.

        • to tenpel (about dzogchen H H)…thats simply experiencing shunyata. I must say, even if some may not like it? S.R. always said and pointed out clear: it its not himself who’s blessing, it is the devotion of the student the true bliss, it is the blessing. He always said: now let all desolve into emptiness. That´s true. The true art of devotion is on both sides necessary. For the safety of the student and the teacher. I heard S.R. asking the students many times to be unique. But i felt, the whole ambitioned system of “instructors” does not work truly. A human being needs a direct contact to the master. Now i say goodbye to this blog. I hope you stay on the path of buddhist mindfulness and take care of yourself. A practitioner should see all this as part of the practice. Stay calm and mindful (thundering), respect others and never loose the vision of the true self in others too. But first…never loose it in yourself. May all heal, it is the law of karma.

          • Hi Him,
            SR can say very meaningful and inspiring things. Sometimes I quote him myself. However, there is also a shadow reality which includes manipulation and cheap psycho tricks a true master would never apply because they are based on a cheating mind that wants to impress others. Also his boasting and putting others down is against the first of the 18 root Bodhisattva vows. So, as in so many such cases of controversy around a “guru” you have also here a combination of qualities and faults, while the students focus on the qualities and tend to ignore the faults, the critics do it the other way around. According to the texts you should only accept someone as your teacher if he/she has more qualities than faults. To see how it actually is, is very hard. Its hard to judge if someone has more qualities than faults as long as the mind has a biased perception or doesn’t have a good knowledge of the dharma being thereby able to discriminate right from wrong teachings, its even harder to judge properly and fairly if the “master” and his followers created a system that increases a biased perception …

            There are three qualities a student must develop in order to be able to judge masters or teachings correctly. What are these three? They are:
            1) being non-partisan (not taking sides due to attachment or aversion), 2) intelligence which includes to discriminate right from wrong teachings, 3) diligence or joyous effort in one’s striving for enlightenment. If one of these qualities is missing the student will be in trouble and is NOT a properly qualified student to receive Mahayana dharma.

            A human being needs a direct contact to the master.

            And what if the supposed master is not a master?

            Thank you for your contributions and I wish you also all the best. May all your spiritual wishes be fulfilled.

            • The defining characteristics of the student who relies upon the teacher

              Aryadeva states in his Four Hundred Stanzas (Catuh-sataka):

              “It is said that one who is nonpartisan, intelligent, and diligent
              Is a vessel for listening to the teachings.
              The good qualities of the instructor do not appear otherwise
              Nor do those of fellow listeners.”

              Aryadeva says that one who is endowed with the three qualities is
              suitable to listen to the teachings. He also says that if you have all
              these qualities, the good qualities of one who instructs you in the
              teachings will appear as good qualities, not as faults. In addition,
              he says that to such a fully qualified person the good qualities of
              fellow listeners will also appear as good qualities and not as faults.

              It is stated in Candrakirti’s commentary that if you, the listener, do
              not have all these defining characteristics of a suitable recipient of
              the teachings, then the influence of your own faults will cause even
              an extremely pure teacher who instructs you in the teachings to appear
              to have faults. Furthermore, you will consider the faults of the one
              who explains the teachings to be good qualities. Therefore, although
              you might find a teacher who has all the defining characteristics, it
              may be difficult to recognize their presence.

              Thus, it is necessary for the disciple to have these three
              characteristics in their entirety in order to recognize that the
              teacher has all the defining characteristics and in order then to rely
              on that teacher.

              With respect to these three characteristics, “nonpartisan” means not
              to take sides. If you are partisan, you will be obstructed by your
              bias and will not recognize good qualities. Because of this, you will
              not discover the meaning of good teachings. As Bhavaviveka states in
              his Heart of the Middle Way (Madhyamaka-hrdaya):

              “Through taking sides the mind is distressed, Whereby you will never
              know peace.”

              “Taking sides” is to have attachment for your own religious system and
              hostility toward others’. Look for it in your own mind and then
              discard it, for it says in the Bodhisattva Vows of Liberation

              “After giving up your own assertions, respect and abide in the texts
              of the abbot and master.”

              Question: Is just that one characteristic enough?
              Reply: Though nonpartisan, if you do not have the mental force to
              distinguish between correct paths of good explanation and counterfeit
              paths of false explanation, you are not fit to listen to the
              teachings. Therefore, you must have the intelligence that understands
              both of these. By this account you will give up what is unproductive,
              and then adopt what is productive.

              Question: Are just these two enough?
              Reply: Though having both of these, if, like a drawing of a person who
              is listening to the teachings, you are inactive, you are not fit to
              listen to the teachings. Therefore, you must have great diligence.
              Candrakirti’s commentary says “After adding the three qualities of the
              student to the two qualities of being focused and having respect for
              the teaching and its instructor, there are a total of five qualities.”

              Then, these five qualities can be reduced to four:
              (1) striving very diligently at the teaching,
              (2) focusing the mind well when listening to the teaching,
              (3) having great respect for the teaching and its instructor, and
              (4) discarding bad explanations and retaining good explanations.

              Having intelligence is the favourable condition that gives rise to
              these. Being nonpartisan gets rid of the unfavourable condition of
              taking sides.

              Investigate whether these attributes that make you suitable to be led
              by a guru are complete; if they are complete, cultivate delight. If
              they are incomplete, you must make an effort to obtain the causes that
              will complete them before your next life. Therefore, know these
              qualities of a listener. If you do not know their defining
              characteristics, you will not engage in an investigation to see
              whether they are complete, and will thereby ruin your great purpose.”

              Je Tsongkhapa. Lamrim Chen Mo, The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment”, the page 75-77, Snow Lion Publ.

    • I am deeply sorry to hear about the nagging feeling of unease in your heart, Yangchen, that you feel you have broken your promise. I found your last statement, about how having compassion for the teacher protects your heart, very moving.

      Tenpel has already given good advice, so I don’t know if anything from me will help, but I will offer something anyway.

      If you write to Sogyal Rinpoche or send a message via whatever Rigpa network you were in and explain why you needed to leave, he has to let you go if he is an authentic teacher. If he doesn’t reply or says you can’t go, he’s not an authentic teacher so no need to worry about any promise made to him. The real promise is to your own wisdom mind and heart and to whatever supports that. If Sogyal Rinpoche doesn’t support your spiritual path, he has to let you find a different path and release you from any obligation you feel. If he is a Buddha or Bodhisattva he has to act only for your benefit and if he’s not, there’s no need to feel uneasy about no longer following him.

  9. Mary Finnigan says:

    Adamo — Sogyal plagiarises lots of lamas. Trungpa R, Ch Namkhai Norbu, Trinley Norbu, HH the late Dudjom R, HHDL etc etc etc He doesn’t have the capacity for original thinking and he was never trained as a lama. He doesn;t meditate and as far as I know has never done a solitary retreat. He did not write TTBOLD. Christine ~Longaker had the idea, Patrick Gaffney did the research and Andrew Harvey write the book.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      Sorry, but what you say here is just part of your campaign and sign that you clearly haven’t got an idea what the transmission in the Tibetan tantric buddhism lineages is about.

      Tibetan buddhism is not at all about coming up with something original AT ALL. That may be the point of western scholarship or funny esoteric archangel channelings, but not about the education in Tibetan buddhism. The more closely you stick to the traditional material of your lineage the more authentic you are. That’s the reason why more traditional teachers always use a root text of one of the renowned figures of the lineage and interpret it stanza for stanza when they teach.

      That’s the reason why a lot of lamas (particularly if you take lamas from the same lineage/that had the same root lamas) quote the same root texts, use the same traditional examples etc and sound similar in what they quote. Sogyal Rinpoche is not doing anything out of the ordinary in this respect, I have heard several more of the Dilgo Khyentse/Dudjom Rinpoche/Nyoshul Khenpo disciples. It’s not at all a criterium for not being authentic, in fact if he would not quote the original sources and invented his own stuff, that would be a sign for the unauthentic

      Why is that the case? It’s assumed that only if you are VERY far on the path, have stable direct understanding of emptiness nature, have developed clairvoiance etc you can teach authentic tantric buddhism without the basis of what your root teachers have transmitted and compiled.

      There is no such thing as plagiarising in Tibetan buddhism because the techings of the lineage lamas are not copyright protected. This is not Hollywood movie making, every student/teacher of the lineage is very much encouraged to use them and stick to them.

      • I don’t think it is fair to say that what Mary Finnigan has written is just part of her campaign. It is a standard Rigpa position that the reason Sogyal Rinpoche is facing criticism is because Mary Finnigan is running a one woman campaign against him. This is one of the things I was repeatedly told when asking questions in Rigpa, along with the sound bites about HH Dalai Lama being a Patron of Rigpa.

        I agree with dharmaanarchist that it is traditional in Tibetan Buddhism to quote the previous masters. However, this does not justify plagiarism. The master being quoted is usually acknowledged traditionally, which would also be the convention in the modern western world. Masters over the centuries have interpreted and explained Buddha’s teachings in many different ways. If it was traditional to only rely on the teachings that had been passed down then there would have been no need for anyone to write anything original in subsequent generations. Later teachers have provided interpretations, have their own ways of explaining and bring their own examples.

        I have heard Sogyal Rinpoche use in his teachings material from contemporary teacher’s books without attribution. A lot of his teaching on meditation appears to come from Mingyur Rinpoche’s books.

        Mary Finnigan is a journalist and journalists sometimes run campaigns. There are many things that would never see the light of day without journalists and their campaigns. This is one of the most valued freedoms in the modern world and HH Dalai Lama is a strong advocate of western style journalistic investigation. The most important thing is not whether a journalist is running a campaign or not, but is whether what they say is true or not. I checked for myself if there is evidence to corroborate Mary Finnigan’s assertion that Sogyal Rinpoche did not write the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

        I read Patrick Gaffney’s own account of how the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying was written on the Rigpa blog ‘The Tibetan Blog of Living and Dying.’ Patrick Gaffney is credited as one of the book’s editors, but his contribution, from his own account, went well beyond editing.

        In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, there are references to Rumi, the Upanishads and Rainer Maria Rilke. Despite attending several Rigpa retreats I never heard Sogyal Rinpoche teach on any of these. Andrew Harvey, who is credited second as editor of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, however, is expert in these areas as can be seen from his other published work.

        My independent assessment from the primary evidence would be to agree with Mary Finnigan’s conclusion that Sogyal Rinpoche did not write the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Most of it would be better described as ‘ghost written’ by Patrick Gaffney and Andrew Harvey with the exception of some parts which appear to have been wholly written by Andrew Harvey.

      • Maybe she meant parroting? There is a difference in using good sources (scriptures and good reasons) to explain the Dharma or parroting it. The NKT are masters in parroting the Dharma.

        What I received during public lectures from SR in Copenhagen (2004?) and India (2006) was embarrassing, weak, showman like (Copenhagen) or manipulative (India). However, I can’t judge his qualities regarding teachings in general. I can only remember what I directly experienced with him and this was really not convincing at all.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          The quality of his teachings is highly variable. It can go from really brilliant to completely uninspired and boring.

          About his book? My guess is that he supplied the raw text/material and Patrick & co put it in nice language for him. He is quite fluent in English, but he doesn’t use a language that is sophisticated enough for a book, so while I believe he supplied the content, I don’t believe that he has supplied the actual words..

          • Thank you!

            • dharmaanarchist says:

              I think it’s good to specify it a bit more.

              It seems with SR the question is, does he get “into the groove” or not. If he does not, he spends two hours hopping from topic to topic, from point to point in a way that it’s very hard to follow and afterwards you wonder what he has talked about.

              If that happens or not seems partly to depend on the audience. He is very reactive in that way and easily influenced by his environment.

              There is one thing he can not do AT ALL and that is teaching based on a text (like most traditional teachers usually do). If he decides to get out written material of any kind to comment on it, fasten your seat belts, it will get uninspiring, tedious, boring and un-followable to the extreme. He knows that and doesn’t do it very often.

              I believe people get hooked by good ones and then simply sit through their share of bad ones. Maybe a lot of those that got hooked don’t dare to admit to themselves that as a lecturer SR is a very mixed bag? If you come to a teaching, you can never be sure beforehand what you will get. That’s why when teachings are used in video or streaming, they don’t pick random ones on a topic (like you could do with teachers like Pema Wangyal Rinpoche and be certain you get always the same quality) but good ones with editing.

    • I want to add: I was surprised when I saw how enormous ESOLF used his capacitiy to copy and paste teachings of others Lamas.

      Not the traditional way, but he left his followers believe it are his own words.

      So far is nothing bad in repeating words of scolars and wise masters, as long you know your copy and your students know as well.

      Otherwise, a reputation is built on sand.

  10. One of the most disgusting aspects of the reaction I got when I asked questions in Rigpa about Sogyal Rinpoche’s alleged abuse of young women students was exactly this ad hominem approach. They won’t answer any questions, but they will tell you bad things about everyone who has said anything critical of Sogyal Rinpoche. They seem to know lots about everyone who has complained, but nothing about what actually happened. Sogyal Rinpoche himself seems to take no responsibility at all for the situation.

    • We have full confidence in the sincerity, authenticity and conduct of Sogyal Rinpoche as a Buddhist teacher. We have only ever seen him act for the benefit of other people, and with their best interests at heart.

      Nonetheless any allegations of inappropriate behaviour are taken very seriously by the organization.

      A statement from Rigpa

      In what way are they taken »very seriously«? By denial and ad hominem attacks?

      »Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing.«

      »Hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing.«

      • I am amazed by the Rigpa statement. I assume it was written by the same crisis management professionals who devised the Dalai Lama soundbites which Olivier describes being trained to use to avoid of answering students questions about allegations that Sogyal Rinpoche had sexually abused young women students.

        I saw nothing in Rigpa to suggest that allegations of inappropriate behaviour are taken seriously, other than serious attempts to hide what goes on, disguised as attempts to support students with doubts. I ended up in no doubt that Rigpa was a cult.

        The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) has an Ethical Policy which is signed by everyone in a position of authority, including Lama Zopa the Spiritual Director. All students can see it. It’s posted on the internet here

        The issue of sexual relationships between teachers and students is dealt with in the FPMT Ethical Policy. Any problems are dealt with via established Grievance and Disciplinary procedures.

        Other Buddhist organisations have similar policies and procedures. You will not find anything like this in Rigpa. And why not?

        • Thank you MS! I didn’t know about FMPT policies. Here are two other good policies:

          You won’t find this with Diamond Way either ;-) Why?
          Because Ole Nyadahl also wants to have sex with his students …

          In both cases the teachers want to have sex with their students and the students agree with the desire of their teachers and turn a blind eye on the harm women might experience.

          What Rigpa wrote in that statement is IMO a mere PR joke and can’t be taken seriously:

          We have full confidence in the sincerity, authenticity and conduct of Sogyal Rinpoche as a Buddhist teacher. We have only ever seen him act for the benefit of other people, and with their best interests at heart.

          In a discussion I had, even Rigpa agreed that women have been harmed by SR’s behaviour.

          To give a blank cheque to SR’s behaviour and stating at the same time they take “any allegations of inappropriate behaviour” “very seriously”, isn’t this a contradiction in itself?

          And as you said, what has been really done to prevent further cases since Rigpa wrote this?
          How many women had to experience sexual predatory by SR after this statement?

          • If Rigpa was a reputable organisation they would have no problem saying that it is not acceptable for a teacher to order a woman to undress and have sex and that if this did happen there would be sanctions against the teacher to redress the harm and to prevent it happening again.

            Rigpa told students that Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa were not given the opportunity to respond to the ‘In the name of enlightenment’ documentary’ when it is clear from the Rigpa statement and what is said in the film that they were given opportunities, but other than writing the statement declined these.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          Nope, indeed. Nothing has changed within Rigpa, at least not officially. If SR is handling his sexual life a bit more carefully now, he doesn’t publicly state it. Actually he can not because there has never been an official acknowledgement of any misdemeanour or problem in the beginning.

          I believe that SR has never left behind this old Tibetan, patriarachal, feudal attitude, where figures like Drukpa Kunleg were famous. In his native culture behaviour like this would have been socially acceptable so he does not see the need to question it, probably because it would be inconvenient for him. He completely ignores the fact that in our culture it is not seen as proper or acceptable, when he happily accepts parts of our culture when they suit him (like the technical possibilities)

  11. There is a hospice project in Germany called Sukhavati which appears to be one of Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa’s projects, but this is not not made clear on the project’s web-site.

    On this page there are the biographies of nine people who form the team running the project. Sogyal Rinpoche’s name does not appear anywhere on the page, but from researching the information that is there it appears that at least six of the nine are Sogyal Rinpoche’s students. There are references to a three year retreat at Lerab Ling, or in one case simply to a three year retreat in the South of France, which is certainly also Lerab Ling, as well as references to the Spiritual Care programme and to Dharma Mati. This retreat and these projects are all Sogyal Rinpoche led. Philip Philippou makes no mention of the fact that he is one of the main leaders in Rigpa and has been so for decades. None of these team members mention Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa. WHY NOT? I think the public should be clearly told who is behind the project.

    • Interesting. I received an email by a journalist who asked me what I know about the Sukhavati project and I found this question a bit strange because I felt its self-evident or self-explaining that the project is a Rigpa project. But checking a bit the website – though Sogyal Rinpoche is either quoted or announced to give a lecture – indeed the site does not tell at all that Rigpa is running the project or that it is a project run by Rigpa. When you click a link to get to know more about the project, there is no Rigpa mentioned but only SR quoted:

      Interesting. The reason I guess is because Rigpa lost the support for (at least) another project because of the accusations that can be found online. Maybe they just wanted to prevent that the controversies slop over this project.

      • dharmaanarchist says:

        You know, this Sukhavati place is a bit of an absurd joke anyway. Because the people who need it most, the chronically ill very often can’t afford to spend time there.

        I also find it more than a bit strange that they vaguely call themselves “buddhist” but disclose completely what tradition the founders, and the people running it belong to. Even if they see themselves as ecumenically buddhist or even ecumenically spiritual, they should state which tradition they come from.

        I think in a legal sense Sukhavati does not belong to Rigpa eV. It’s not one of their branch centers so there is no need to mention Rigpa eV. on their website.

        • Thank you.
          With respect to your last sentence, they might be legally independent, on the other hand the Rigpa Center Berlin gives the promotional material (brochures, flyers) for Sukhatvati to visiting lamas and introduces Sukhavati to them clearly as their very own project …

      • I don’t think it is right that is is not made clear that Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa are behind Sukhavati. I would like to hear about any projects that lost support due to them being controlled by Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa.

  12. The Dutch internet site Open Boeddhism, postes an article in Dutch, “Rigpa-directeur leaves“. Don’t know how good it is. A post “Hotline sexual harassment in boeddhism community has opened” is totally empty …

    • The dutch article is hard to read for non-dutch people, Google translator didnt make sense.

      Is there anyone here speaking dutch and english who would translate?

      I would be very grateful!

      By the way: I have mentioned earlier here in this blog of a group of people(6) of Ex-Rigpas, who started writing a book, collecting our experiences.

      Actually we have more than 1000 pages, and a publishing company ( a sincere one) accepts our proposal as a book, if we make not more then 350 pages text of it, plus list of sources etc.

      It will take more then 14 month to finish, even more.

      • It is good news Adamo that this book will be published. I would be interested to hear some of these stories. Could some of them be shared here? Or maybe some already have.

        • Actually, we try to engage not to much in juicy stories, but to describe how a crowd of people become
          a kind of sect members, turning more and more to a kind of neurotic “Rigpa- Behaviour”, with a “Boss” driven by megalomania, egotism and narcistic behaviour.

          At the end, it has to do a lot with mental sanity, honesty and the opposites.

          Here a link again, quite interesting , I Quote here a part: ” I was recently having a conversation with a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism here in Italy and I used an analogy in our conversation which I would like to expand on here to explain further the reasoning behind a post-traditional approach to Buddhism and the sort of ideas we are exploring in the Imperfect Buddha podcast.

          The teacher made two standard concessions when we spoke about traditional Buddhism and the sort of approach I and others take. They were Authority and Tradition. Implicit in his discourse were three factors;

          Authority is a given and unquestionable. The guru/master holds authority
          Expectation others ought to recognise this authority as it is given, followers must act on blind faith
          History tradition is ancient and this antiquity justifies its position and guarantees the first two.

          The link:

          This tibetan teacher is at least honest with his statement. No whitewashing and and sugarcoating.

          • joanneclark7 says:

            It’s excellent that your book will be taking that approach, Adamo. I remember a few years after I left Rigpa (in abject despair) I started working in a Kagyu monastery. Shortly after, a group of Rigpa inner-circle people, along with Dzongsar Kyentse Rinpoche, came to visit our monastery (Rigpa had just bought a big block of land in the area and DKR was blessing it). I was working in the front office at the time, so I organized serving them tea etc. Two of the inner circle people recognized me and were a little surprised (I think they had decided I was a lost cause). When they found out that I was studying, practicing and working at the Kagyu monastery, one of them said, “Traitor.” He was joking, but underneath that joke was an attitude that I recognized, what you call “Rigpa-behavior”. Certainly it is strange that an organization priding itself on connections to the rime movement has this underlying cult-like, us-them attitude. At least that’s how I see my Rigpa experiences.

    • To clarify: I’m Rob Hogendoorn, the author of the article Tenpel mentioned (and indeed all other articles on I’m a practicing Buddhist. I work as a an investigative reporter and academic researcher focussing exclusively on Buddhism (and Buddhists) in the Netherlands. As an investigative reporter, I collaborate with other journalists at Dutch news outlets such as national and regional news networks on radio and tv, national newspapers, magazines, etc., on a regular basis. You will find some of my writing in English here, under ‘In English’:

      May 2015, together with the NOS Achtuurjournaal (the ‘Eight O’Clock News’ on national TV), I exposed the sexual abuse by Mettavihari, a Thai vipassana teacher who, between 1974 and his death in 2007, sexually abused very many Dutch young male students and at least one 12-year old boy. I’ve also reported on the cover-up of the sexual abuse since 1981 by the 14 Dutch vipassana teachers who were named ‘successors’ by Mettavihari in 2006.

      Before that, I’ve reported on the sexual abuse by the (supposed) Tibetan Lama Kelsang Chöpel in the city of Middelburg in the Dutch province of Zeeland. This ‘Lama’—who was ordained as a monk by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (NKT) around 2001 and subsequently went rogue—sexually abused and agressively intimidated some 15 female students between 2001-2008. At present, I’m investigating quite a few other cases of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers who are active in the Netherlands.

      Meanwhile, I’m in the process of creating a parallel English version (, which will contain articles in English on Buddhism (and Buddhists) in the Netherlands—as soon as I find the time for that, that is. The creation of the parallel website is a work in progress, during which I’ve experimented with automated translations (which clearly are not the way to go).

      I’d be glad to answer any questions that you might have. Be aware though, that my investigative work is extremely time-consuming. Right now, I simply lack the time to corroborate my findings as thoroughly and extensively in English as I’m used of doing in my articles and other work in Dutch.

      • Thank you Bob.
        It looks like you have done some really valuable work.
        Thank you for it!

        However, I have some questions:

        1) Why should any Buddhist Union be forced to accept a cultish organisation such as NKT which has a lot of ex-followers who have reported to be seriously harmed and misled by the organisation?
        Why should any Buddhist Union accept a group that runs a worldwide slander campaign against a respected member of the community (HHDL) by spreading a lot of untruths, lies and hate?
        The NKT has in so many ways violated Buddhist principles why can’t Buddhist Unions refuse to accept such a group? Why should they accept a group that actively creates schism and discord?
        Any head organisation or Buddhist Union can refuse membership according to their constitutions. The NKT-International Kadampa Buddhist Union does the same or will it accept any non-NKT centre as a Kadampa centre?
        So what does any reasonable rejection of a membership makes it a matter of “religious discrimination” so that the Ministry of Justice & Safety-BUN have to get involved?

        2) Did Stephen Batchelor really say: “Most unions are headed by the same kind of Buddhist groups: Tibetan groups, but not all. All national associations that I know of, reject one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist organizations, the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) enabled. The only reason this organization is represented in any of these associations is that the Dalai Lama speaks out against the NKT. That is why they are excluded.”? He is not really right. In fact, its misleading and partially far from reality.

        For instance 1) in the UK NBO the NKT is an integral part (and harmed NKT people were advised to seek counselling from NKT teachers which the NBO suggested for their healing process), 2) NKT is part of the Italian Buddhist Union, 3) in Germany the German Buddhist Union rejected membership based on the cultish structure of the group (and not at all because of the DL) … 4) The NKT is part of the Swiss Buddhist Union. And then, as far as I am aware of, the Dalai Lama has never spoken out against NKT. I have researched for years for any statement he made against NKT. There was just none. And if he said anything (with respect to the NKT protesters who disturbed his teachings) it were statements such as these (France 2008): “I am extremely happy for them that they have freedom of speech. I rejoice in their freedom of speech. And maybe they have also some holiday too.” In Australia when asked he said: “I don’t lie. Ask them why they think I would lie.” He was extremely restraint and didn’t say anything negative about the NKT – unlike the NKT who spoke over years very badly and very noisily about him – a type of public bullying.

        Also your conclusion is plain wrong, »As with other European national organizations, the Dalai Lama’s supporters also dominates the Dutch umbrella organization: the BUN.« Just three examples : 1) wrong for UK NBO, 2) wrong for the German Buddhist Union, 3) wrong for the Austria Buddhist Religious Community.

        IMO, such undifferentiated and either plain wrong or partially wrong or too much generalising claims won’t help to get a sober and deeper understanding of such matters and can therefore not really contribute to enlightenment (in the Kant sense) but rather they contribute to the continuation of conspiracy myths as the NKT has now issued them over a very long time and to which many people – due to their lack of knowledge or a lack of ability for complex thinking – have subscribed too.

        I see it as dangerous to continue such claims the NKT put into the world that are basically and most often just a mixture of untruths, semi-truths and some truths.

        • I have to correct my claim with respect to the NKT membership in the UK NBO.

          Footnote 347 of The Dolgyal Shugden Research Society. Dolgyal Shugden: A History (Kindle Locations 4454-4470). Kindle Edition states:

          Despite the undeniable links between the NKT and the WSS, as late as March 2009, the NKT continued to vehemently deny the association. In a letter to the UK Network of Buddhist Organizations in that month, they accused the NBO of falsely blaming the NKT for the 2008 demonstrations against the Dalai Lama and reaffirmed their stance that the NKT and the WSS were “legally independent” entities, that the NKT had “no connection with these demonstrations”, and that the NBO’s “mistaken” belief that the NKT were responsible for organizing the demonstrations was “completely wrong”.

          The letter arose as a result of the NBO’s decision to draft a code of conduct to be signed for groups joining or renewing their membership in 2009. The code asked that these member groups sign a declaration stating: “In keeping with the aims of promoting harmony, as a member of the NBO, we undertake that our members will not publicly defame another group’s teacher, through harsh speech or actions. We also undertake that our members will not intentionally promote disharmony between organizations by inappropriate public criticism through the media”.

          The NKT responded by claiming that allegations that they were causing disharmony between Buddhist people were “completely incorrect and baseless” and that they were victims of “religious discrimination” In fact, they argued, it was the NBO and “some Tibetan Buddhist people’” who were the creators of the disharmony, and this was created “not by the NKT at all”. The NKT refused to sign the undertaking which they said violated their democratic right to freedom of speech and action.

          They offered to use ‘peaceful methods’ to help the NBO “understand the truths of this situation” but threatened, should they” fail to resolve this situation through peaceful methods, there is no doubt that we will therefore need to engage in legal action to clarify the issue … and to achieve a final resolution.” Finally, a deadline was given, by which time the NKT clearly expected a ‘peaceful resolution’ (letter from NKT-IKBU trustee Linda Cay to the Chair, Activities Committee and Treasurer of the Network of Buddhist Organizations (UK) 17th March 2009). At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the NBO on March 20th, the NKT reiterated its unwillingness to sign the code and did not renew its membership.

          So this makes clear that the NKT didn’t want to subscribe to the ethical code of conduct of the NBO and from their own side did not renew their membership. Before that they lied, deceived and threatened the NBO with legal action too. It is hard to portray this in any way as “religious discrimination”.

          For a current membership list see:

        • The Dutch Buddhist Union (BUN) is in a (legal) bind, because the Dutch government gave it formal recognition as a ‘contactorgaan’ (‘contact office’) for the entire Buddhist community in the Netherlands, not just it’s own members. As such, the BUN held a license for a government-funded national Buddhist television and radio network, the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation (BOS). Since January, 1, 2016, this license and network no longer exist. The BUN, though, still serves as a ‘zendende instantie’ (‘sending institution’) for government-funded Buddhist chaplains in prisons and a government-funded academic education of Buddhist chaplains. As such, the Dutch government requires that the BUN remains strictly impartial to any and all religious views. No matter how unique or self-evident or self-important certain views might seem to Buddhists, to a secular government they are just views.

          In recent years, the BUN did in fact refuse membership to a Buddhist centre that is linked to Kundeling Rinpoche, even though it already ranked one member whose members worship Shugden. I suspect that the reasons that were in fact given at the time would not stand in court, though. As far as I know, the Dutch NKT never was a BUN-member, and, as far as I recall, never applied for its membership. There may well have been ‘overtures’ by board members of the BUN towards the NKT, because the BUN has strong institutional motives to be (or at least seem) as big and representative as it can get.

          I’m not sure what the exact factual basis for Stephen Batchelor’s remarks about the European unions (at the time) was, but my remarks and conclusions (at the time) were directly attributed to him. As far as the BUN is concerned, Batchelor’s views are in fact true: the BUN membership and the foundation’s board membership are highly dominated by Tibetan Buddhist groups, all of which are staunch Dalai Lama loyalists. My translation of this particular quote from Batchelor runs as follows: ‘Most unions are run by the same kind of Buddhist groups: Tibetan groups, but not åll. Every national union that I know of, refuses the membership of one of the largest Buddhist organizations, the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). The one reason why these unions do not represent this organization, is that the Dalai Lama speaks out against the NKT. Thís is the reason why they are shunned.’

          Loosely speaking, my personal view of the Dorje Shugden issue is this: most opponents and supporters that I know of do not debate whether Shugden does in fact exist. Instead, they argue over Shugden’s ‘true’ or ‘real’ nature: is he a benevolent deity or perhaps a fully enlightened Buddha, or is he a malevolent spirit? To me Dorje Shugden is a ghost. Ghosts do not exist, and have never existed, I think. So: Shugden never was. Also, I seriously doubt whether any Western convert actually believes in Shugden the way a Tibetan would. Converts might well belief in the belief in Shugden, though. But that’s different.

          As a practicing Buddhist, I do not feel obliged to even entertain the question what the figments of the imagination of many generations of Tibetans ‘really’ amount to—and I wouldn’t expect the same from Tibetans or other ethnic Buddhists either. To me personally, the Dalai Lama’s views of Shugden and those of most his supporters ánd opponents make little sense at all. And as far as (religious) discrimination is concerned: there’s no excuse for that, and there’s no point in generalizing. Each and every instance will have to be judged on its own merits. Fortunately, though, debates about (religious) (in)tolerance do not require a belief in ghosts. It’s intellectually dishonest to suggest otherwise, I think.

          • NO NAME says:

            A rather sweeping conclusion based as it is on an admission of little understanding of the intricacies of the situation is hardly informed comment; good journalismn should be based on extensive research,not a fleeting understanding botrn of next to none. I suggest Mr H studies the history of the NKT ISC Shugden issue for a few more years before commentng on the rights and wrongs of the situation. Murder, lies, collusion weith the CPC, hatred and political demos directed from Beijing are not really great qualifications for membership of any union, other than union with the devil

            Re Bachelors comments, while a seemingly disproportionate number of Tibetan groups have been NBO members, this should not come as any surprise since Tibetan Buddhism is probably Europes most popular form of Buddhism. Nevertheless, the leadership of the U.K. NBO has NOT been dominated or driven by Tibetan groups [ despite the protests of tibetan members, the NKT were admitted to the NBO for example]. The dominant characters in the UK NBO are members of SGI UK. the former FWBO and of Theravadin/ secular Buddhist lay groups. Senior members of these held/hold positions of power almost since the founding of the self appointed umbrella group and were in their positions, not due to holding dominant market share but rather because of the strong desire to hold positions of power in a body which appeared to grant them kudos in the wider Buddhist world and, especially, beyond. This was the reason the NKT, who immediately attempted to assume a dominant position upon echieving membership status joined and made efforts to forge alliances with the SGI and FWBO leading members throughout their membership,ultimateley much to the regret of the latter

            Nevertheless, While the aims and intentions of the NBO exec were far from selfless, the coincidental outcome of their spat with the NKT demonstrates the value of democratic selectivity in such unions for, by it, a group with a record of causing disharmony, division hatred and infamy in the Western Buddhist world was outed as such and its ability to further its own reputation status and opinions was reduced.

            The NBO itself is an extremely controversial addition to the uk Buddhist scene and the motives of its leadership remain highly questionable. Of recent, several exec members have resigned having realised that allegations concerning their ulterior motives have proven to be true

            The remaining leadership are desperate to strengthen the image of the NBO and will use any opportunity to do so. In actuality, the ending of the NKTs membership was just another accidental episode in the mess which the NBO has made. In actuality, the only people really represented by the uk NBO are the SGI and FWBO leaders who, strangely enough, also hold leading positions in the EBU. I wonder why the EBU do not recognise this. Is it because, apart from people interested in self furtherance, no one else is willing to make the effort? For me, the jury is still very much out on the question of whether we need such bodies

            The politics of these ‘umbrella’ faith bodies is always very interesting – they are hardly ever representative of the true diversity of the faith groups under that tradition and more often represent ‘those who can shout the loudest’… but the media and (at least the previous UK governments) wanted some official ‘representative’ to which to turn to be seen to have a relationship with faith-based constituents iN Britain the NBO dates to when the Blair government was throwing a lot of money and energy to negotiating with such representatives of faith-based groups. Of course without government support it still often comes down to ‘who shouts the loudest’

            As they say, ‘ Not in my name” thank you very much!

          • joanneclark7 says:

            Rob, I think there’s some assumptions you’re making that need to be clarified: 1. The Dalai Lama does not and has not spoken out against the NKT or even against its leader Kelsang Gyatso; he has only spoken out against Shugden worship in his role as a spiritual leader; 2. The NKT’s claims of discrimination are largely not born out by fact and the lies they create in their efforts to “prove” these claims are quite extraordinary (like claiming that the Dalai Lama is secretly Muslim and that Shugden monks were made homeless in India). Both Amnesty International and the Indian Delhi High Court have investigated their claims of discrimination and found insufficient evidence for those claims.

            Also, if you are interested in abuses done in the name of Buddhism, you really should look closer at the NKT and its behaviors– and listen to accounts of survivors. People have been psychologically damaged by their experiences in the NKT. The organization is big, as you say– and if you look closely, you will find remarkable similarities between NKT and Scientology. It’s big because the focus is on expansion (like Scientology).

            For example, there’s a bit of a power vacum in the organization currently because Kelsang Gyatso hasn’t been seen for several years and no one will tell members what’s going on, why he can’t be seen, whether he’s too sick or has dementia or is dying etc.. One of the likely successors of Kelsang Gyatso, Neil Elliott, was a monk and teacher years ago until he engaged in sexual activities with a nun and then he was disrobed and expelled from the organization. NKT rules and guidelines at the time stipulated that monastics who broke their celibacy would have those consequences. Recently, however, those rules and guidelines have been changed in order for Elliott to return and teach and hold a position of authority.

            Every year it seems that NKT are writing new guidelines and redefining themselves. So the fact that it’s such a large Buddhist institution might better be viewed in that angle– that it actually has a cult-like focus on expansion and power– and is looking less and less like the Tibetan Buddhist tradition it arose from.

            • Joanna: that’s exactly my point. Abuse of any kind will have to be judged on its own merits. No special treatment is warranted—or even needed—just because those who abuse claim that their behavior is religiously inspired. I’ve looked deeply into the NKT, and I’m sure it has many, many serious flaws and that many of its members are very, very confused.

              Of course, the Dalai Lama speaking out as a spiritual leader on some doctrinal issue or religious practice has many side-effects besides enlightening the minds of his audience—some of which effects are highly predictable—but his involvement doesn’t absolve anyone from personal responsibility for inappropriate actions, never mind abuse and violence.

              But, again: we don’t need Dorje Shugden to address—and, if need be, publicly condemn—all that.

              I’m inclined to think that the Dalai Lama’s personal involvement would have been much more effective, had he focussed on the (de)merits of (in)tolerance (without having Shugden do some heavy lifting), or the (de)merits of belief in any supernatural Buddha, deity, spirit or ghost (without having Shugden do some heavy lifting).

              The problem with such an approach is, of course, that the Dalai Lama himself continues to believe that Dorje Shugden is real. He’s never argued otherwise—perhaps Tibetans won’t let him argue otherwise. He may have endeared some Western Buddhists while expressing his views on Shugden, but he may have estranged many more. This does have a virtue, though, because it heightens the awareness of how complex a (putative) Western reception of Tibetan Buddhism really is.

              We’ve gone widely off topic, and I’m not sure we should continue this discussion right here. After all, the topic here is Sogyal (and hís behavior). If you’re interested, I’ve shared my understanding of the Dalai Lama’s engagement of modernity, in particular Science elsewhere:

              • NO NAME says:

                “The problem here is that the Dalai Lama continues to believe that Shugden is real” Sorry but the problem is that individuals who believe themselves to know better than the Dalai Lama make such statements. Personally, if HHDL tells me he believes something to be real, I will stick with him. Bearing in mind that the contemporary gods of modern science only just managed to work out the Big Bang, for example while, without their aid, Indian religious thinkers worked out that particular problem thousands of years ago, I know who gets my vote. Buddhism does not need sciences approval.Thats a fantasy of western materialist philosophers. If the two disciplines agree, fine. If they do not. Fine!
                The claim that ghosts don’t exist is equally based on the arrogance of western materialist scientists. If you can accept that different sounds are audible to different beings at different frequencies, while remaining imperceptible to others, and can apply the same principle to olfactory, gustatory and visual stimuli, why is it not possible for ghosts to exist?

                • Exactly. If you consider the limits of the sense faculties, if you compare it with the vaster range of objects animals can perceive (or even the fact that the colour blue is the latest colour humans learned to discriminate and that there are still native tribes who cannot discriminate blue from green – blue appears as green to them), it is clear that we cannot be sure that only that exists what we perceive with our current sense faculties and unstable mental consciousness. To claim only what we can perceive or prove by matter detecting technical apparatuses exists is a reductionist materialist pov.

                  Since our capacities to perceive are limited, the likelihood that there is more out there than we can currently comprehend is quite high. Therefore, nobody with limited capacities can disapprove spirits. It will be hard to prove spirits either.

                  But here in the context of Buddhism, the concentration and absorptions and the perceptions of the Buddha, the experiences of those who have committed themselves to tell the truth (not to lie), says that they can perceive spirits and they can give details accounts on that. (I met such persons, these are no liars or people who are crazy.) I would hesitate to claim that my perception is more reliable than theirs …

                • No Name, Tenpel: anything is possible and humans are capable of believing anything. But this type of reasoning can be—and is in fact—used to argue for the existence of God, Yaweh, Allah, Vishnu, Wodan, Thor, Jupiter, Xenu and countless other gods, take your pick:

                  Why would you believe in Dorje Shugden rather than, say, God or Alllah? Because the Dalai Lama tells you to? Is he in fact telling you that? Do you believe that believing that Shugden is real, is good for you? Who gave you that idea? Why?

                  As Carl Sagan, used to say, paraphrasing Laplace: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. People who believe they perceive spirits need not be crazy or lying: they may simply be mistaken. It happens all the time. Could the Dalai Lama be mistaken about anything? I’m sure he can: after all, he’s just a simple Buddhist monk, as he himself so often says. Why don’t you believe him on his word whenever he says that?

                  To repeat, in my view any discussion on the (supposed) real nature of Dorje Shugden is superfluous and a distraction. Non-Buddhists (and even non-Tibetan Buddhists) couldn’t care less if Dorje Shugden is real or not, but they do care about issues such as abuse, sectarianism, religious discrimination and such. To insist on furthering 17th century Tibetans’ discourse on spirits and ghosts very likely estranges them from (Tibetan) Buddhism altogether. I see no added value in that at all.

                  • NO NAME says:

                    Whatever gets you through the night
                    i believe Shugden exists, you do not.
                    I believe the Dalai Lama knows better than you, you do not
                    I see no value in debate with you. Good luck

                    • NO NAME says:

                      Re the goblet illusion, I see two males. Other people see to females, others a couple. Some see a goblet, others a cake stand………and the list goes on

                  • Hi Rob, no, it cannot be used to proof that there is a god who created this world. A permanent god who created the world is a contradiction. In Buddhism there are the teachings on pramana, valid cognizers etc., and ways to realise hidden and very hidden phenomena. Its quite of a complex but also reasonable way to realise existing as well as non-existing phenomena.

                    Shugden cannot be a creator like god or Allah in any way because there is no permanent god who created the world … However, Buddhism (especially Mahayana Buddhism), excepts enlightened beings, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, spirits, gods, beings of the desire realm, form and formless realms and you can read also in the Pali texts that Buddha saw and talked to Nagas, and described those beings like spirits or gods of the desire realm etc. as existent – but not Shugden of course ;-) Buddha’s disciples with supramundane powers (Shariputra, Maudgalyana) were also able to appear in different realms not accessible for ordinary beings without such powers. Do you think they fantasised?

                    Buddhism excepts these supramundane powers achieved in general through concentrations. (I had contact with at least two persons who had those powers and these powers and what they perceived were reliable – reality proved for me that it was true.)
                    Buddhism excepts the existence of things which are not accessible to beings who don’t have these powers but are realised by valid cognizers of beings who have these powers.
                    If babies cannot realise objects adults can realise, why shouldn’t there be a person with higher developed faculties who can realise objects a common adult can’t realise?

                    What a nonsense,

                    People who believe they perceive spirits need not be crazy or lying: they may simply be mistaken.

                    It follows a dog who perceives a smell, an eagle who perceives a form, a cat who can hear a sound, an insect who perceives a colour that cannot be perceived by human beings is either crazy or lying or mistaken. It follows only the perception of humans is reliable and valid. Ha ha ha. But even human beings have different strengths in their faculties, e.g. people below the age of 21 can hear frequencies older people cannot hear. So does the sound the elder person cannot hear not exist? Is the young person – annoyed by the sound which the elder person can’t hear – crazy or lying or simply mistaken?

                    If you understand the three levels of dependent arising to a certain extend and how phenomena come into existence (you don’t need Buddhism for that there are similar ways of thinking in Anthropology for instance) you will understand that things can arise as this or that in dependence. That’s why there is a great variety of phenomena – and of course some exist, some do not exist and are totally fabricated … But to claim only that exists which is 1) perceptible by a human being with average faculties and 2) an undeveloped mental consciousness and 3) the material apparatuses he or she uses to validate material phenomena, is an ordinary-human-centric-materialist perspective – ergo, an extremely limited and reductionist way of thinking and for sure not a save way for realising what phenomena do or do not exist ;-)

                    Could the Dalai Lama be mistaken about anything?

                    As long as he is not a Buddha, yes. For Buddhists, Buddha cannot be mistaken.

                    Its not about my belief in his words. I think for myself. Non-human entities exist according to my investigations, observations, experience and faith in the Buddha. But because the existence of Shugden and his nature is not perceptible for ordinary beings (like me) it will be hard to say for sure if he exists or not and what his nature is. This is were the problems start.

                    However, IF Shugden exists, and IF he is harming sentient beings, even if I cannot perceive him (like X-rays) he will perform functions that might harm me. Just ignoring a functioning thing which I cannot perceive but that can harm me (like X-rays) is highly likely not a good idea.

                    Your last paragraph insist that issues such as abuse, sectarianism, religious discrimination are more real and valid than non perceptible things which are hard to perceive for ordinary beings – like if Shugden exists and his nature – but as long as Shugden really exists (like in the case of X-rays) and is not a total fantasy he is as real as these things.

                    • Tenpel: I’m well aware of Tibetan Buddhist—or, rather, Gelug—epistemology and logic, and I’ve studied it myself. However reasonable, it’s not as transparant and watertight as you might think. The same goes for your own reasoning here, I’m afraid. Besides, you’re fighting a straw man. I see a clear danger of estranging would-be supporters in the West by harping on Dorje Shugden’s putative nature, you don’t. Let’s move on.

                    • My main argument is that you cannot exclude with certainty that Shugden exists because a reason based on a materialistic view cannot do that job. Of course, it is also hard to prove with certainty that Shugden exists. Contrary, to that, a claim that a almighty, all powerful, all merciful and permanent god who created this world exists bears a lot of contradictions.

                      Now, even if Shugden does not exist, for most Tibetans it is a reality. And then there are lamas who have supramundane powers and can perceive things ordinary beings can not perceive (if you believe that or not is your business). As I said, I met such people. For them Shugden is an existing entity.

                      However, to focus on the nature of Shugden for ordinary beings seems to be a fruitless battle. On the other hand, those who take this entity seriously, have to find a way to cope with that and will highly likely rely on the perceptions (or claims) of a lama of their choice.

                    • BTW, whats more real, the goblet or the two faces? Can it be both or only one or the other? Is there a third or fourth possibility? Or can we for sure exclude this?

                    • Since phenomena are always coming and going, all ideas about the universe are temporary appearances, so any idea can exist. Western science cannot say that Eastern mystics are wrong, since it is only conception. Instead of debating about differing explanations of the universe or phenomena, it is better to let others think as they wish. There is no need to be concerned if some people think the world is round and moving, and others think the word is flat and still, since it is all delusion. It is not necessary to explain each detail of phenomena: just to understand that all phenomena, including all material judgements, can be recognized as manifestation, so there is no reality to each single explanation and no need to endlessly analyze conceptions.
                      Thinley Norbu

                    • Tenpel: I’ve never claimed certainty, of course, and I never would. Neither would any practicing scientist that I know of. No wonder: these days, outside religious circles, certainty on anything is a rare commodity indeed. Besides, it doesn’t ‘follow’ that some answer being uncertain, some other answer ‘must’ be true. It might just be that the matter at hand is ill-conceived.

                      I’ve expressed my ‘personal view’ on Shugden—’loosely speaking’—as a courtesy, because I like to be upfront about my motives. I’m not a believer either way, and besides, I do not think that practicing Buddhists ‘need’ to be in either camp.

                      In a non-Buddhist society and culture such as ours, it’s an uphill battle to argue that, say, the Dalai Lama, is epistemically privileged above, say, Jesus or Mohammed. The same goes for their followers. As the Dalai Lama himself points out on a regular basis, it’s a given that beliefs differ and that some of these differences can’t be bridged. In fact, he actively discourages people from converting to Buddhism.

                      I think it’s counterproductive to argue that followers of Dorje Shugden are ‘more right’ about his ‘true nature’ than Muslims are about the ‘true nature’ of Mohammed, or Christians about the ‘true nature’ of Christ. At best, it doesn’t help you make your case about abuse, discrimination, etc. At worst, it will estrange you from your friends, family and neighbors and fellow-Buddhists.

                      Consider this from your own perspective: not being a Buddha, each and every religious follower is as unenlightened as the next. A Tibetan Buddhist might well argue ‘I don’t know, but my Lama says so’ or ‘I don’t know, but my Lama does’, but how does this improve upon ‘my Imam says so’ or ‘my Bishop says so’? Do you really think that it’ll help convince those who are persuaded otherwise to say ‘But my Lama’s episteme is better’ or ‘My Lama is more enlightened’?

                    • Dear Rob,
                      Since you are so willing to express opinions and point to your numerous writings on the subject, there can be little doubt you consider yourself some kind of expert in Buddhism.
                      Fair enough; that’s a delusion most of us Westerners with a minimum of actual experience adhere to,
                      However, my question is this. How can anyone possibly be qualified to make such judgements as the ones you make when you have approached dharma from an already fixed perspective, where anything dharmic is first judged to see if it concurs with ones own fixed set of preconceived expectations?
                      Surely, to be able to genuinely experience the wisdom of the Buddha it is necessary to abandon preconceptions and give oneself over to the teaching, like leaping into the abyss that surrounds ego?
                      As long as you hold western scientific materialist concepts up as your measuring stick, you cannot possibly gain first hand experience. The egotistic assumption that everything must fit with the egos preconceptions of right and wrong guarantees that.
                      It’s far simpler and more effective to simply apply the teaching and see it work. Then, if it agrees with science, OK. And if it does not, who cares?the world beyond the ego stretches far beyond the boundaries set by pre judgemental scientific expectationsTry it, you might Like it!

                    • No Name: You’re fighting a straw man too, and there’s no point in answering rhetorical questions. You have already decided what the answer must be, so why don’t you satisfy yourself with that? Let’s get back on topic.

                  • NO NAME says:

                    I suspect there is more than one person here who has already decided what the answer is
                    My suggestion stands- try Buddhism without the ego filter of western scientific materialism. You might be surprised

                    • Who knows, No Name, but as it happens I’m not that interested in just anyone’s answer to your rhetorical questions,. In fact, I think there’s something wrong in posing them. You’re fighting a straw man. Leave it be.

  13. Melodious says:

    I only found out about the scandal involving Sogyal Rinpoche a few days ago. I’ve been transfixed because it explains a lot to me about my experience with Rigpa. My Buddhist path started with Rigpa around 2003 and I stayed until early 2005.

    I actually left because I was disliked by the cliche of students who ran the centre. The first year was fine but in the second year there was a growing sense of animosity towards me. The main instructor had told a story about how Sogyal Rinpoche received letters from his students in various Dharma centres outlining the conflicts they were experiencing in the centres.

    His remedy was to get the students to watch endless Laurel and Hardy shows as a way to demonstrate how we all have difficult behaviours that set each other off. People just had to not behave in a difficult way or react to difficult behaviour and that would calm the friction down.

    I tried in vain to work out what I was doing ‘wrong’ to explain why one instructor rolled his eyes when I asked questions, I got screamed on a number of occasions by one student in the core group, got told to shut-up by a young lady who ended up being an instructor the next year, had an empty water bottle thrown at me in anger that hit me in the head. There was just a negative sentiment toward me by the core group.

    Two years after I started at Rigpa I realised that I had a problem with binge drinking and it was getting worse. As a result I went to Alcoholics Anonymous and started with their 12 step program. I started to find it very difficult to do all the work set up by Rigpa and learn the AA program and do the 12 steps. At that point Rigpa had their students doing a modules of study each ‘semester’ and another study pack we did in our own time that consisted of listening to SR’s teachings many times over to absorb them, and the Nongdro practise (which included the tantric Vajrasattva practice).

    Luckily for me I had also been doing workshops at the local FPMT centres and decided to stop going to Rigpa and go to the FPMT centres instead. That way I could pick and choose the topics that fitted into my AA program. I felt too intimidated to go to Rigpa anyway and the FPMT centres were so much more welcoming.

    I found that the FPMT centres tend to do a lot of workshops on relationships, controlling emotions, making yourself a socially acceptable person to be around (my words not theirs), applying virtues to your everyday life etc., so while there still is friction in these centres it is a not like the animosity I experienced at Rigpa; meaning people may get cranky but not to the point they throw things at someone else.

    When I look back at Rigpa there was not the same emphasis on how to develop healthy relationships with people in the Sangha. I was too green to question why Rigpa taught the tantric Vajrasattva practice (the one with the consort) and the FPMT only did the practise without the consort and forbids people to view the certain tantric images unless they are initiated into that practise.

    At one point two of the core students asked me if I would like to learn the skills to volunteer in a hospice for the dying, they made a snarky comment about how it would teach me to ‘get out of myself a bit’ as in I thought of only myself. I was totally shocked at their suggestion and attitude because I wasn’t in a great place emotionally and would’ve been the type of person to sit beside a dying person and complain about all my problems. I had no mental stability to comfort a dying person or their family or to be in a hospice environment.

    Looking back, the weirdest thing happened at the retreat at Myall Lakes (Australia). Every year SR holds retreat around January. The full retreat lasts for ten days but the short one only goes for four (at that time anyway); I went for the four day retreat. The last session I attended was a discussion group. I had planned to leave shortly after it ended because I had to catch a bus back to QLD.

    After the discussion group I was approached by a lady who was part of Rigpa. She explained that concerns had been raised for my welfare due to some comments I made during the discussion group. I can’t remember how she expressed it but she was basically saying there were concerns that I was suicidal or going to ‘self-harm’. I became really confused because I couldn’t remember what I’d said during the discussion group and hadn’t felt any strong emotion.

    When I asked her for clarification about what I said (because I was so confused) she was very vague but insisted that from what I said there were concerns about my welfare. Dumbfounded I pleaded ignorance and apologised if I’d made a throwaway comment that had caused concerned. At this point I had to collect my bags from the campsite office and get a cab to the town so I could get my bus so I managed to get away from this upsetting and confusing interaction.

    Now after finding our SR is a sexual predator I am wondering if I had become a target at that event. I am counting my lucky stars that I could only afford to stay at the retreat for four days. I would’ve found it a distressing and overbearing situation to have been preyed on by SR’s enablers. That was the first and only time in my life I’ve had someone say that concerns were raised for my welfare that I was going to self-harm or was suicidal.

    It would be interesting to find out if SR has his enablers procure young women for him. Hopefully more women will find the courage to speak out about how they were procured for SR because I believe he must’ve had enablers procuring women for him somehow.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      Wow. Compared to the Australian Rigpa people you describe the German ones were always tame and civilized, just a lot of elbow mentality, self righteousness and arrogance from a lot of main people. But I have to agree that the time where you experienced these things was probably the peak of egoism and nastiness. And, the atmosphere and group dynamic of the different local groups varies greatly.

      In my experience you were never in danger of becoming a target for SRs appetite for young girls. It’s apparently mostly people who through some means make an entry to SRs “inner circle”. That happens very often through previously existing connectins with people already in there. The inner circle is a very reclusive group of people and he does not usually pick random young retreat participants.

  14. deleted – double comment

  15. I found these extracts from the original 1994 ‘Janice Doe’ lawsuit. Is anyone able to get a copy of the whole lawsuit and upload it? It is a public document and any member of the public is entitled to a copy, but I am not in the US and can’t work out how to get it.

    The suit was filed on November 2, 1994 in the Superior Court of California/Santa Cruz, USA, Action No. 129647.

    The lawsuit accuses Sogyal Rinpoche of physical, mental and sexual abuse.

    Paragraph 13:
”In addition, defendant Sogyal physically and mentally abused plaintiff and required her to perform degrading acts to prove her complete devotion and belief in him, all of which he claimed were necessary to purify her negative karma and bring her closer to a state of enlightenment, and he said that by dedicating her life to his satisfaction and needs, she would relieve the pain and suffering of herself and her family. Sogyal further claimed that plaintiff would be strengthened and healed by having sex with him and that to be hit by a lama was a blessing.”

    Under COUNT 3 (Assault and Battery):
”defendant Sogyal willfully, intentionally and maliciously assaulted and battered, and committed sexual assault upon plaintiff.”

    The plaintiff is described as a married woman who was in a state of bereavement over the recent death of her father at the time she first met Sogyal Rinpoche. The lawsuit says that she came to Sogyal’s retreat:

    “in an effort to benefit from the healing practices for the living and the dead Sogyal described in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and in reliance upon defendant Sogyal’s reputation enhanced by the Dalai Lama’s preface to the book.”

    Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa chose not to answer these allegations, but instead to settle out of court together with an agreement that the settlement was confidential, so the lawsuit remains the only official public record of the un-refuted allegations.

    As many similar allegations have surfaced since then and as the original allegations have never been refuted, I think it is important that the public record is made accessible somewhere on the internet so that people can see it for themselves.

  16. Today is Saga Dawa Düchen, the day we celebrate Buddha’s enlightenment and his parinirvana. On this day, it is said, the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times.

    I would like to ask Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa to tell the truth. I don’t want any more of the endless repetition of certain key phrases quoting the Dalai Lama as much as possible for moral support that Olivier Raurich described being trained in by a very expensive professional crisis communication agency, that Rigpa paid for instead of responding honestly to the allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse.

    The straightforward truth will be better for everyone. That’s the essential first step, which has not yet been taken. Saga Dawa Düchen would be a good day to start.

    • Lets listen to the Buddha:

      Abstaining from false speech (musavada veramani)

      Herein someone avoids false speech and abstains from it. He speaks the truth, is devoted to truth, reliable, worthy of confidence, not a deceiver of people. Being at a meeting, or amongst people, or in the midst of his relatives, or in a society, or in the king’s court, and called upon and asked as witness to tell what he knows, he answers, if he knows nothing: “I know nothing,” and if he knows, he answers: “I know”; if he has seen nothing, he answers: “I have seen nothing,” and if he has seen, he answers: “I have seen.” Thus he never knowingly speaks a lie, either for the sake of his own advantage, or for the sake of another person’s advantage, or for the sake of any advantage whatsoever. – AN 10:176; Word of the Buddha, p. 50.

      Why is it so important to not to lie and to tell the truth?

      Bhikkhu Bodhi:

      The Buddha’s stricture against lying rests upon several reasons. For one thing, lying is disruptive to social cohesion. People can live together in society only in an atmosphere of mutual trust, where they have reason to believe that others will speak the truth; by destroying the grounds for trust and inducing mass suspicion, widespread lying becomes the harbinger signalling the fall from social solidarity to chaos. But lying has other consequences of a deeply personal nature at least equally disastrous. By their very nature lies tend to proliferate. Lying once and finding our word suspect, we feel compelled to lie again to defend our credibility, to paint a consistent picture of events. So the process repeats itself: the lies stretch, multiply, and connect until they lock us into a cage of falsehoods from which it is difficult to escape. The lie is thus a miniature paradigm for the whole process of subjective illusion. In each case the self-assured creator, sucked in by his own deceptions, eventually winds up their victim.

      I find the commentary by Bhikkhu Bodhi utterly inspiring and to the point:

      Sarva Mangalam!

  17. I think it is a shame that this discussion has gone off the topic. Other issues are important, but this is a rare opportunity to discuss Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa. There are a lot of us who have been badly affected by Sogyal Rinpoche’s behavior and what goes on in Rigpa. We didn’t get any opportunity to properly look at this in Rigpa, so the discussions here are really important for us.

  18. “… This was officially justified by the concept of “crazy wisdom,” which maintains that great masters can commit acts which are incomprehensible to ordinary mortals.

    This applies to everyone — “If the master humiliates you, it is to liberate the ego, to purify the disciples” and “There is no greater action than the will of the master” and so on … the traditional Tibetan texts are very clear on this point. …”

    We have to check all texts and if there is dualism (eternalism and nihilism) it simply can’t be wisdom/dharma and to practice this can’t effect compassion and wellbeing.

    So within wisdom there is always compassion and it effects transformation/healing/liberation or healing activities of mind, speech and body.

    Due to karma also purification happens, means that all the stuff from the past actions come up and this is something we can’t escape anyway and bad karma is not easy to purify just like that.

    So vajrayana is also about purification, not only invoking compassion to pacify ourself and just having a warm heart like a smile to go.

    If you are new to dharma and you have never experienced purifying your harmful actions (karma), then you might be scared because it effects your perception and experience of reality.

    Here you need to be able to continue to practice dharma instead of getting lost into karma and making it worse by doing the opposite.

    So some people go or might go crazy, blame the dharma, blame the teacher or others and so on but they just need to continue to practice dharma to go thru this purification instead of making it worse.

    Of course it is not easy to purify karma of harmful actions but there is no other way out than dharma anyway.

    So no matter what happend, happens or will happen, just continue with dharma, just go thru this process, you can do it.

    So don’t give up your inherent wisdom and compassion because of the teacher or whatever. Just continue with dharma, even after you have left a teacher, just continue for yourself – for your own freedom and wellbeing.

  19. dharmaanarchist says:

    There is news on this topic apparently.

    Olivier Raurich seems to have returned into the folds of Rigpa/SR, I have been told he attended some event where he asked SR to bless his new marriage.

    • This would not really surprise me and is a rather common move in such systems – especially after such a long time and if you didn’t really examine critically (at least what is available in public) your own role and how it sustained “the system”.

      I am curious what comes next and if this is true. Let’s see.

      • dharmaanarchist says:

        The French are notorious for having a short fuse on their emotional life. They tend to be real drama queens and kings. (compared to the German and particularly English people I know)

        It’s possible he was just very frustrated about something that didn’t go the way he wanted and this is simply an unfiltered 1:1 report of the emotional flareup he had right after it, that he has stupidly made public before calming down and thinking about it for a few days.

        Because this interview sounds awfully like an emotional flareup, not a calm, sober evalutation of a situation. Sounds like the hot stuff you shout at your husband or wife or tell your friends about your ex when you break up a relationship. A few months or years later, when the emotion has died down, the whole outlook at the situation can be a bit different.

        As I mentioned, the story of SR’s supposed luxury lifestyle is really just not true. A travel lifestyle with a schedule like he has is seriously taxing on someone’s health on the long term and he has been doing this for decades. It’s only fair that a teacher is made as comfortable as possible when he travels that much. HHDL always lives at a famous top hotels of my town when he is here, is he accused of a luxury lifestyle? SR practically didn’t have a true home for those decades. His authoritarian leadership style and attitude towards young inner circle women is one thing, unfairly blaming him for staying in hotels of the better category, in the cases where he stayed in hotels, which most of the time he doesn’t do is quite outrageous. I have seen him accomodated in a normal, simple rural guesthouse that was chosen for it’s quiet location, not for any particular luxury. I have seen him always accomodated at a local sangha members apartment for free whenever he visited my town. For years. I have seen the technical equipment that was borrowed from sangha members because I was in the transport crew that hauled the stuff for about 15 years. If there is a problem with SR or Rigpa, he should stick to the facts otherwise he is just embarrassing himself, just like those questionable folks who jump on the bandwagon of what is actutally to critisize, claiming SR is illiterate, stages BDSM style sex orgies, has never studied any dharma etc.

        • I see. You are already in the mode of re-interpreting his interview.
          Though it is good to differentiate – thank you for the details – you missed to consider that what he says in general fits generally very well with other reports and if you want to compare SR’s accommodation abroad with HHDL you must consider:
          a) unlike SR, HHDL has high security standards that need certain environments,
          b) unlike SR, HHDL is the highest representative of Tibetans, and they want to accommodate him in the best possible ways,
          c) there is another fundamental difference, there is not an organisation like Rigpa that sees it as a part of the lama welfare to offer women for consumption.
          So far, it is only a rumour what you said. If it is true I can understand it because – this is how I see it currently- it is a common phenomenon for cult like systems that members who left turn back. He is not the only one – in case it’s true – who did it. I know of another person who also did it with respect to Rigpa.
          Let’s see how the story unfolds…

          • dharmaanarchist says:

            Yeah. But if a list of claims has one clear lie/untruth, how credible will the rest be?

            The chance for an objective evaluation of a situation/problem is greatest when no acute hurt feelings or otherwise strong personal emotions or interests are involved.

            • Yeah. But if a list of claims has one clear lie/untruth, how credible will the rest be?

              I think it is not necessary a lie or untruth that SR lives (in general) in luxury and that he likes it, is it? ;-)

              If you find one untruth or a less differentiated description, of course this should invite to be cautious but for me it would be too extreme to conclude in a way “because there was one error all other points must be wrong too”. I know this type of black-and-white thinking well from the Shugden camp who say, if Trijang Rinpoche was wrong (with Shugden), then he must be wrong, then he must have erred elsewhere too and then the whole lineage is at fault … this cannot be. Ergo he did not err from the start and his stance on Shugden must be correct.

              Though you didn’t directly issue such a logic, you insinuate it by using one (likely) inaccuracy (less differentiated point) to raise doubts about the other points too. (All of your comments target the creditability and reliability or Olivier Raurich – btw., this a common technique of cult followers to their ex-members …)

              The chance for an objective evaluation of a situation/problem is greatest when no acute hurt feelings or otherwise strong personal emotions or interests are involved.

              Ex-members’ accounts usually are not treated or considered to be objective because they stress a certain view usually not stressed – especially a view or information not shared or expressed by the organisation and its leader.

              Also followers’ accounts usually are not treated or considered to be objective because they stress a certain view usually not stressed by critics or not-involved and informed outside observers.

              Nevertheless both can give perspectives on the whole that might help to get a more holistic picture of the phenomenon, like if blind people touch and describe an elephant. The accounts of those who describe the trunk, the tail or the leg or the ear etc might differ and appear contradictory on the first glance but if you put the information of all of them together, it can make perfectly sense and its not contradictory at all but gives you an idea about how the elephant looks like.

              And when it comes to facts, like, let’s say, someone being robbed or raped, even if the person is emotional – “strong personal emotions or interests are involved” – this doesn’t make the fact of being robbed or raped a “less objective evaluation of a situation/problem”.

              However, I agree a lack of bias, factual accuracy and precision, no emotional involvement increase greatly the creditability of a person’s account.

              However, I would not expect these qualities from a person who just left a group or teacher after having been devoted to them for almost 30 years …

              • I continue to be impressed, tenpel, with your grounded, carefully-crafted, well-reasoned responses to each and every somewhat desperate effort from the other side to rationalize their distorted views and undermine the truth of simply what is. I applaud the others here as well who are committed to clear-headed rebuttals and refutations around a cult-like organization and it’s seriously-irresponsible, abusive leader.

              • dharmaanarchist says:

                Honestly, a luxury lifestyle is something else entirely than SR lives. A luxury lifestyle is for me excessively buying and owning expensive luxury goods, like expensive watches, suits etc, frequently dining in expensive restaurant with stars, owning expensive cars, owning villas and yachts, having expensive hobbies etc. I don’t see him owning considerably more than what a middle class German can buy off his income. Sangha members drive him in their private cars, I don’t think he owns one (he doesn’t have a driving license afaik), he is frequently accommodated in private homes. His personal possessions fit into the suitcases he travels with.

                As for the untruths. If you have a reason to accuse a person of some truly existing morally problematic behaviour and then add to those accusations a list of accusations that are not true (intentionally or unintentionally) you will reduce the subjective credibility of the substantiated accusations, too. Because everyone who is aware that not all of the allegations are true will wonder what on the list is truth and what is not and what can be believed at all. And if someone believes all of them while not all of them are true, it turns into a slander campaign.

                • I agree with Dharmaanarchist.

                  But I want to add: Part of the lifestyle of S is, to have permanently between 3-20 people available as personal “assistents” for whatssoever commands,24hours7daystheweekallyearlong, giving them a hard time, called “crazy wisdom teaching”.
                  As a example: the car in Lerab Ling he uses, has to washed 3Xdaily inside and outside, when enough staff is available.
                  Whereever he is, he want all people focusing only at him, watching carefully that he is the only number one around.
                  His wishes, as there might be countless wishes on a long day, has to be fulfilled on the spot, even 5 or 10 times, if he dislikes the attitude or manner of the person.
                  He acts like the star of all stars, what I believe, he really would like to be.

                  This is to be continued endless…….

                  So not particular the material lifestyle is exclusice, but the “psychological”livestyle.

                  As I feel, most people who underwent such a treating, has not changed much, but even remain more confused.

                  • Thank you Adamo.

                  • dharmaanarchist says:

                    “But I want to add: Part of the lifestyle of S is, to have permanently between 3-20 people available as personal “assistents” for whatssoever commands,24hours7daystheweekallyearlong, giving them a hard time, called “crazy wisdom teaching”.”

                    The number of assistants (the majority of them pretty and female) is indeed factual truth. I’m not entirely certain what these people are doing all the time, but a lot of it seems to be genuine work for the Rigpa organisation and it’s activities and not merely being personal servants or entourage.

                    I don’t think what you describe has anything to do with what’s called “crazy wisdom” as I have heard that very conservative Tibetan teachers can be very demanding and give their personal students a hard time. That appears to be more of a common vajra master style of educating students.

                    What I have seen of “crazy wisdom” didn’t actually seem that crazy to me. Most of what I encountered I found quite humorous, playful, hilarious, anarchistically outlandish, destroying conceptual thinking more with a seriously good joke about the absurdity of samsara than with harassing anyone. Like for example Tulku Pema Wangyal picking up a garden hose and with the broadest grin on his face giving the gathered people a good shower on that hot afternoon. I think crazy wisdom can take any shapes and forms of behaviour that helps deluded people to loosen up their conceptual thinking. I personally definitely prefer the funny side of crazy wisdom.

                    • The women who told to me their stories and observations said that SR is highly demanding and gets very angry if his demands are not fulfilled. His rude and uncontrolled behaviour creates an atmosphere of fear and insecurity and a high pressure to please him in any way. When I remember correctly, its well described also in this post: One Year With Rigpa – A Testimony.

                      I don’t think what you describe has anything to do with what’s called “crazy wisdom” as I have heard that very conservative Tibetan teachers can be very demanding and give their personal students a hard time. That appears to be more of a common vajra master style of educating students.

                      No, it has nothing to do with crazy wisdom, rather with craziness.

                      One of the women who told me her story cooked for him (for sure she gave her best). Sogyal being displease with the food took the whole plate together with the food and threw it violently with insulting words on her. The women was utterly shocked and could not find peace for a long time. She finally had to find another teacher who consoled her from the deep inner conflicts and shock that blocked her mind and inner peace.

                      Sorry, what you do is, that you try to whitewash such rude and inappropriate – violent – behaviour as normal. Can you tell me what is the education in that context? No Vajra-master has any permission to harm sentient beings, and Soogyal has harmed women. This fact is not even denied by Rigpa. So please stop to declare such rude, insulting and harming behaviour as “a common vajra master style of educating students.” BTW, I have different Vajra-masters and none of them acts like this in any way.

                      You also downplay the sexual harassment by Sogyal when you describe his actions as “quite humorous, playful, hilarious, anarchistically outlandish, destroying conceptual thinking…” To give a clean clear example: Sogyal has abused his power to manipulate women who did a retreat in Lerab Ling to have sex with him. What is “quite humorous, playful, hilarious, anarchistically outlandish, destroying conceptual thinking” in that context? Its not funny either.

                    • dharmaanarchist says:

                      I think Marpa was pretty demanding with Milarepa, no? There are stories like those about plenty of recognized Tibetan masters.

                      Honestly, you are so worked up about the whole SR story, that you don’t even notice when I write about crazy wisdom in general that I have encountered with Tibetan lamas personally, not about claims that SR’s demanding behaviour is supposed to be crazy wisdom.

                    • I think Marpa was pretty demanding with Milarepa, no? There are stories like those about plenty of recognized Tibetan masters.

                      You miss two important things here: 1) Marpa was a genuine master and Milarepa was prophesied to Marpa as his main disciple 2) Milarepa had abundant merit from previous lives; Milarepa had also a strong fear to be reborn in hell for the misdeeds he had done in that life and he had genuine renunciation and great compassion before he even met Marpa. Milarepa also checked Marpa (by asking people who respect him – but not his students because they praise their master anyway – and who criticised him) before he followed him. Additionally, Marpa was recommended to Milarepa by another teacher …

                      Now tell me who of those women (or Western students of SR) who have reported to have been harmed by SR have the qualities of Milarepa and checked SR in that way or were recommended by other Buddhist teachers to rely on him? If they had the qualities of Milarepa, why did they complain to have been abused? Maybe these Western Milarepas are a bit confused? Or if they didn’t have the qualities of Milarepa why did SR not realise that – maybe SR was confused and then what type of master can he be if he cannot see and understand the real potential of his students and harms them?
                      [In general, isn’t there a great risk to be misled by one’s own pride and ignorance to think oneself would be like Milarepa or Naropa?]

                      It appears to me like the people in the NKT who defend the abusive behaviour (power abuse and exploitation) of Kelsang Gyatso, you try to defend misbehaviour with the life stories of great masters and disciples like Marpa and Milarepa (or Tilopa and Naropa) but you totally fail to see the specific and very different contexts of those life stories. With a superficial approach “I think Marpa was pretty demanding with Milarepa, no? There are stories…” you take those life stories out of context in order to justify misbehaviour – be it intentionally or because you don’t know it better …

                      With respect to those stories … Naropa btw, was an abbot and great Pandita who was able to discriminate Dharma from non-Dharma before he even met Tilopa. Tilopa was prophesied to Naropa by a Dakini who appeared to him while he read a tantric text. When Naropa met Tilopa, Naropa doubted Tilopa because Tilopa caught and killed fishes. But Tilopa read Naropa’s mind (thoughts) and replied to them, and then Tilopa showed supernatural power by reviving the fishes he just killed. In that way – by showing 2 times supernatural powers during their first meeting – Tilopa invoked the faith of Naropa. This is obviously quite different to for instance the case of the pretty young women in the documentary who didn’t look for SR but to be closer to her father (because she missed him) and who finally ended up in a room with SR alone who ordered her to “Undress!”.

                      Do you think honestly, Western Buddhist newcomers are indeed like Naropa and Milarepa? Do you know why these two are stressed so much in Tibetan Buddhism? Because they are an utter exception not because they are a common phenomenon – the exception is both: an extraordinary and genuine master and an extraordinary and genuine student.

                      Now, if you want to tell me that its not about sexual exploitation what you are discussing but about “demanding behaviour” (or justified harsh treatment in order “to break the ego”), I know at least of one man who is in therapy because of the bullying of SR, and as I said already, there are others who reported to have been seriously harmed by his bullying. Now you could say, the bullying has nothing to do with the “demanding behaviour” but it has, because the “demanding behaviour” includes harsh treatment (or bullying).

                      Honestly, you are so worked up about the whole SR story, that you don’t even notice when I write about crazy wisdom in general that I have encountered with Tibetan lamas personally, not about claims that SR’s demanding behaviour is supposed to be crazy wisdom.

                      I knew that you wrote about crazy wisdom in general and I knew that my answer was not really to the point when I sent the comment. I felt its ok, because I interpreted your comment to be a trial to downplay what can be rightly criticised and I don’t like such trials and relativism. – I also lacked time, was a bit too quick (superficial) and I was tired to be more precise. However, you have a point here, I acknowledge this.

                      PS: This comment was changed after it had been posted.

                    • Just some quotes related to the case we are discussing and “crazy wisdom” in general:

                      Recently, several cases surfaced in which seemingly reputable spiritual teachers have coerced their students into having sexual relations with them. Many Westerners became deeply confused. They read in texts, such as Kongtrul’s Lamp for the Definitive Meaning, that proper disciples must obey whatever their tantric masters tell them to do, as Naropa did when Tilopa told him to jump off a cliff. Tilopa, however, had the power to eat a live fish, snap his fingers over the bones, and bring it back to life. Moreover, Naropa was an ex-abbot of Nalanda Monastery and one of the most learned practitioners of his day. If our teachers and we are at these levels, that is one matter. When we are not, however, then Buddha was very clear that advice for higher level bodhisattvas does not pertain to practitioners of lower levels of attainment.​ – A. Berzin

                      if the teacher is with one student one month and another the next, that is not right. Also, imposing or forcing sexual contact is wrong. So is misusing the idea of dakinis by saying things such as “You have signs of being a qualified dakini,” or flattering the student, “You have very great Dharma potential.” Women should not be afraid to say no!​ – HH the 14th Dalai Lama

                      There is an interesting link to an interview about “crazy wisdom” with Steven Goodman:
                      However, Goodman fails to see and to acknowledge that the concept of “crazy wisdom” can be abused to justify harming and uncontrolled, ego-based behaviour of abusive teachers. It was told to me that he is also a student of Sogyal Rinpoche, this might explain why he avoids this topic. A bit funny to post this one-sided piece on a site called “inquiring mind” ;-)

                      The trick is to know what is indeed “crazy wisdom” and what is not “crazy wisdom” but crazy, egodriven or mind poison driven behaviour …

                      Barcley Powers, more critical than Goodman, writes:

                      Buddhist monasteries are well known for sexual abuse of young monks under the code of celibacy throughout Asia. Generally, these examples of what we could call the actual practice of religious belief are not discussed anymore than the long-term psychological effects of Judeo-Islamic ritual genital mutilation practices. It should be noted, however that amnesia, Stockholm syndrome and various forms of psychosis are well-documented results of war as well as cult abuse, that often cause the victims to identify with the oppressor. The justification of crazy wisdom as an excuse for abuse appears to be a clear example of ego inflation, based on confused pseudo enlightenment, which in practice has often amounted to a narcissistic sadomasochistic personality disorder masquerading as spiritual truth.


                      At this point in the Western acceptance of Eastern spirituality, the word guru has often come to represent authoritarian sadism, which is caused by the shadow, an alleged dark area of the human psyche, which is responsible for the rampant abuse of power that has occurred repeatedly within spiritual groups/cults. Currently, the term spiritual teacher as opposed to guru is preferred because religious tyranny is no longer acceptable to non-brainwashed postmodern definitions of authentic spirituality. Unfortunately, this entire American experiment in pursuit of spiritual awakening has largely failed as proven by the complete lack of a clear definition of the union of the three bodies – physical, subtle and super subtle – as genuine enlightenment. The fact that American Buddhists have no idea that the super subtle body is the dormant Embryo of Enlightenment, the oldest structure of consciousness within the human body, is proof of a general absence of true realization. The central flaw of the Integral experiment is the senior leadership actively promoting what has amounted to mental and physical spiritual slavery in the form of masochistic submission to a supposedly enlightened authoritarian figure that represents the achievement of permanent higher consciousness. Allegedly, becoming a masochist will enable you to transcend the ego, which will allow you to experience your true identity, which is enlightenment currently blocked by your selfishness. Confused and dishonest American writers and teachers have created a completely false pseudo definition of enlightenment, which actually prevents the spiritual evolution or enlightenment of the students. The ridiculous nonsensical myth of transcending the ego has been used as the means of spiritual enslavement to control the gullible for power and profit. When the celebrity status of the guru is more important than the happiness and illumination of the students the entire spiritual narrative of genuine enlightenment is corrupted. ​

                      John Powers – quoting also HH the Dalai Lama:

                      Tantric texts stress that practice with consorts is not a form of sexual indulgence, but rather a form of controlled visualization that uses the special bliss of sexual union. It is restricted to very advanced practitioners, yogins who have gained control over the emanation of a subtle body and have awakened the mystical heat energy, or ›dumo‹ (gtum mo, candali). Those who have not advanced to this level are not qualified to practice with an actual consort; people without the necessary prerequisites who mimic tantric sexual practices thinking that they are practicing tantra are simply deluded, and may do themselves great harm. Sexual union is only appropriate to advanced levels of the stage of completion, and so those who have not developed sufficient realization and control over subtle energies are unable to generate the blissful wisdom consciousness realizing emptiness that is the basis for this practice. They may succeed in fooling others—or even themselves—but they will be utterly unable to use sexual energy in accordance with the practices of highest yoga tantra.

                      According to the Dalai Lama, only a person who views all the phenomena of cyclic existence with complete impartiality is qualified to engage in tantric sexual practices:

                      »Truthfully, you can only do such practice if there is no sexual desire whatsoever. The kind of realization that is required is like this: If someone gives you a goblet of wine and a glass of urine, or a plate of wonderful food and a piece of excrement, you must be in such a state that you can eat and drink from all four and it makes no difference to you what they are. Then maybe you can do this practice.«

                      When asked to name any lamas who he thought were at this level, he admitted that he could not. He mentioned that there are well-known stories of great teachers like Tilopa who had transcended all attachment to conventional thinking and so were able to engage in sexual practices without harming themselves or their students, but he added that such exceptional individuals are very rare. – John Powers, »Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism«, Snow Lion Publications, 1995, p. 252. Deutsche Übersetzung: Religion und Kultur Tibets. Das geistige Erbe eines buddhistischen Landes, O.W. Barth Verlag, 2002

                    • NO NAME says:

                      Dear DA
                      ACtually, the whole issue is very simple and does not need complicating or excessive analysis.
                      It boils down to two main questions
                      Is it appropriate for teachers to have sex with students?
                      If circumstances exist where such behaviour is permissible, do the sexual relationships under review fulfil the appropriate criteria?
                      With regard to the former, in a relationship such as the guru disciple one, where there is a need for the exercising of fiduciary care, such acts are not permissible. The exception, in the tantric context, is where such acts further the realisation of the parties involved. For this to happen, both participants must be highly realised beings with extensive meditative experience and who have both received the same appropriate initiations.
                      Were those ladies who claim to have been abused by Sogyal qualified and willing participants in such acts? No, they were not.
                      Therefore, Sogyals acts were abusive and amounted to a failure to adhere to proper moral principles on his part. These acts were not merely the cause of bad reputation for Sogyal. They have also caused others to lose faith and have severely damaged the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism ( and by association HH the Dalai Lama)
                      Is such behaviour acceptable/ justified/ permissible?
                      No, no, no.

        • So, Olivier is just a French drama queen and there’s no validity to his concerns. Thanks Adamo, I feel much better now.
          As for staying in remote rented cottages in the countryside, living in hotels and staying for free at disciples apartments- yes, that really does sound like Sogyal is living a humble, impoverished lifestyle (doesn’t it?)
          Sometimes, as they say, you can’t see the wood for the trees.
          A is for Adamo, and Apologist

        • I can say from my experiences, that I do not consider the lifestyle of S as exclusive in terms of material matters.
          I would not say he indulges in expensive material goods.

          Compared with the Rinpoches I know a little bit, he lives a expensive style, but compared with western standards, the lifestyle (material) is not such big deal.

          So far, I confirms dharmaanarchists statement, as S luxury lifestyle is discussed.

          His way of treating his students, and teaching and so can be considered extremely wasteful.

    • Rumour. Solid, tangible confirmable ( or otherwise ) evidence please

    • From my point of view does Raurich suffer from a kind of narcissistic disorder.
      If one has a tendency towards such disorders, you can fall easier prey to cults or cultlike organisations,
      once you live in system of dependencies and co-dependencies, you cant get out so easily.

      But now, with the blessing, everything dissolves into peace and harmony.

      A king of narcism might attract such people ( even people with selfhate have narcissistic disorders, in a little bit more twisted manner), and creates so a mess as Rigpa is and
      humble person attracts just humble people and nobody speaks about it.

      • Hi Adamo,
        do you know him?

        I would be careful about such claims. I might not be in the position to ask to be careful because I claimed a narcissistic disorder with respect to my former Buddhist teachers too. However, with one of them I was together for 6 ½ years and that she might suffer from a narcissistic disorder was suggested by two psychologists to me who heard my story or met her. With respect to Kelsang Gyatso (whom I met only once but very intensively) I claimed also a narcissistic disorder but here I had enough personal experience, accounts and stories from others which give some basis for such a claim and I could still list the signs of that disorder and tell what criteria both of them meet individually.

        In general, however, there might be a pattern that many Westerners might be more or less inclined to or at the edge of that disorder or have developed it partially or even fully. If they meet a teacher who has that disorder more or less too or if the uncritical, blindly devotional environment stimulates such a disorder in the teacher, for both teacher and students there is the risk that they at the end suffer both from a fully fledged narcissistic disorder. To get an idea about the role of environment see for a first glance:

        So, in a way, what you describe sounds very reasonable to me with respect to its basic structure or how such a system might unfold and function but I wonder how can you be so sure to judge O.R.? Do you know him well? Do you have enough information to substantiate such a claim?

    • I have seen that dharmaanarchist has heard that Olivier Raurich has returned to Rigpa/SR and even asked SR to bless his new marriage. If that is true, I wonder why Olivier Raurich is still using his personal web-site to warn people about SR. This is what Olivier Raurich currently has about Sogyal Rinpoche on his personal web-site. He calls him a fraud and false spiritual master. You can have a look here.

  20. UPDATE July 23, 2016
    I updated the post by adding two links to the post and by removing a wrongly set link. The interviewer of Olivier Raurich, Élodie Emery, refers in a question to an interview with HHDL from 1993 which you can find here:, and she refers to an excerpt of HHDL’s book about “Healing Anger” which you can find here:

    Based on a hint from MS, I added also a link to the website of Olivier Raurich where he made his own statement/comment:

  21. I believe some of the stories are true if not all. If I were subject to sexual abuse I’d probably resist (and I’m also strong enough to resist at my age). Young women often are not strong enough. I would just like to remind you people of one thing: the teacher shows the student the nature of mind. Many students have reported having glimpses during the teachings and practices with Sogyal Rinpoche. These experiences also develop devotion and gratitude towards the teacher. It is not that easy to abandon such a teacher. One needs quite a lot of proof that things are not right. There’s also karma in the positive experiences.

    About the outrageous behavior in front of the audience: I think there are different teachers to different students. Some like soft approach, where the teacher creates a kind of a safe environment to feel good. Some need that kind of space and it’s okay. I just don’t know if it’s the kind of teacher student relationship that I have understood Vajrayana Buddhism (or any other form of Buddhism) is all about. Sometimes the mental obstacles are too great and/or intellectual. Maybe then a teacher must use the outrageous ways to clear the way.

    To make it clear: I do not accept sexual abuse of students.

  22. Sogyal Rinpoche is being advertised as one of the main speakers at this conference taking place at the University of Potsdam 16-18 September. Is there no interest in Sogyal Rinpoche’s background from the German press?

    Events like this give him a big credibility. I think it is wrong that Sogyal Rinpoche can get away with using events like this to maintain his position as a respectable religious leader.

    One of the other main speakers, Kirsten DeLeo, is described as having “under the guidance of Tibetan meditation master Sogyal Rinpoche, completed a three-year meditation retreat.”

    Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa are positioning themselves as leaders in the care of the dying without properly answering questions about the widespread concerns in the Buddhist community and beyond about the behaviour of Sogyal Rinpoche and the way Rigpa operates. The press should not just report what the press releases tell them.

    Thanks to Oliver Raurich, we now know how the press is manipulated by Rigpa. Olivier wrote, “Rigpa paid a very expensive professional agency in Paris, specialising in crisis communication, to train a few spokesmen, including myself, to respond to the allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse. We were advised not to answer questions, but rather to endlessly repeat certain key phrases – and to quote the Dalai Lama as much as possible for moral support.”

    Good journalists would look behind the professionally constructed sound bites to get to the truth.

    • Thats mainly a “Rigpa-Event”.

      • Not really, this is a congress run by the German Buddhist Union … (see their footer and also their newsletters …)

        • Yes, of course, its DBU.

          But about 50% of the representers are Rigpa-Folks, Beate Dirkschneider, Holger Sieler, Esolf,Maren Repenning,Beauregard, Lisa Freund,de Leo.

          Baker Roshi had his share of scandals of abusive behaviour, then there is 1 or to of the Nydals groups.

          I mean this way represents eventually the average of DBU-members, so its only fair.

          But if you “Rigpa” a little bit, you know how smart they are to produce a public image of “Ripa”, by representing very well.

          Thats fine if you have something to offer, really to offer.

          But then, if you know what is behind, its a big show with nothing profound behind.

          Thats why I say its mainly a “Rigpa-Event”.

          Sorry for the DBU, they seam to have no clue of whats behind the scenery.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          Rigpa is a member organisation, like Diamantweg/Nydahl. So unless they kick them out, they are obliged to host them on DBU events.

          • It is often the case that disreputable groups use their membership of such umbrella groups to assert their legitimacy. In the uk, the network of Buddhist Organizations was eventually taken over by undesirable groups such as the NKT, FWBO and SGI solely for this purpose
            FWBO/Triratna seniors have also manoeuvred themselves into positions of power in the European Buddhist Union, just as the late Rev Jack Austin predicted they would in the late sixties.
            Sadly, the ‘organised’ side of western Buddhism is as corrupt as the Catholic Church when it comes to sex abuse for example Study the FWBO history and you will see this to be the case

  23. A new book about Rigpa / Sogyal was published by Max Milo Editions, preface Charles Ramble, “Les dévots du bouddhisme: Essais – documents”. It was written by anthropologist Marion Dapsance and reports her experiences and investigations in the Rigpa community –

    Sogyal Rinpoche & Rigpa

    • Interesting to see how this book is once it’s available in English. It’s not available through that link.

      I’ve been watching this dialogue – it’s much fairer than that on other blogs and website. My heart goes out to those in Rigpa who don’t know what’s going on. It really is mostly behind the scenes to my knowledge, at least the worst parts.
      For lots of reasons members accept this behavior. It’s 2016, surely it’s time for a change! Especially in how women are treated by the master.
      I’m writing this because people who are involved need to know that it’s all still happening. It casts a shadow on Tibetan Buddhism, which is sad and shouldn’t be allowed by the group to continue.
      Peace to all.

      • Thank you Pema.
        I checked the link to Amazon and it works. I can’t read it and I have also to wait until there is an English version …

      • After being told repeatedly in Rigpa that the Dalai Lama is Patron of Rigpa and fully supports Sogyal Rinpoche, I decided to write to His Holiness and ask him. First I wrote to the email address here I asked the Dalai Lama if it was true that he is Patron of Rigpa and that he fully supports Sogyal Rinpoche. I received no reply. Then I wrote to the Office of Tibet in London at the email address here, forwarding the original email and asking if they could supply answers to my questions. I received no reply.
        What to make of this? For some reason, no one at The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala or The Office of Tibet, London will confirm that the Dalai Lama is Patron of Rigpa, or that he supports Sogyal Rinpoche.
        I cannot believe that Rigpa would claim the Dalai Lama was their Patron if he was not, but what is stopping his representatives confirming this? It follows that if it is true that the Dalai Lama is Patron of Rigpa, he must support Sogyal Rinpoche, but his representatives also are not confirming this.
        Unfortunately, the Rigpa organisation, as described in Olivier Raurich’s account, is hiding behind the alleged support of the Dalai Lama to avoid responding to questions about sexual and other abuses, but from the Dalai Lama himself, nothing. The Dalai Lama has said things in general about tulkus who are a disgrace, such as “Today, there are recognized Tulkus in all the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Sakya, Geluk, Kagyu and Nyingma, as well as Jonang and Bodong, who serve the Dharma. It is also evident that amongst these Tulkus some are a disgrace” I can understand that the Dalai Lama might not want to name names, but why is he allowing one of the most controversial Tibetan Lamas publicly claim he has the Dalai Lama’s support and then at the same time adopting a policy of not confirming or denying this. What on earth are we all supposed to make of it all?

  24. Very interesting statement/ response from lerabling to the new book of mrs. Depsance. Its on (response)..i am sorry, can not link it.

    • Note: I changed my comment below and added some additional thoughts to the Rigpa statement and press release. (I guess there are some people who would like to hit me for that comment. I am sorry, if it causes any pain to you. It is not my intention to cause pain to you. I have the pain of those in mind who were harmed by SR & Rigpa and who are not as powerful as you/they are. So I decided to stand with those who have been harmed by SR/Rigpa. Please accept that stance of mine and please practice forbearance and compassion with me. If those who feel hurt by what I wrote have any good argument, please post it! I am always open to learn and to correct my errors or misperceptions. Thank you.)


      Thank you, Tickel. The link works.

      …ultimately, the way a group reacts to allegations of misconduct may be a better indicator of its underlying dysfunction than the content of the allegations themselves. – Christopher Hamacher, author of Zen Has No Morals

      Very interesting to witness, how the official management falls into a mode of denial and attack … It reminds me of NKT tactics: we are the good and pure ones, we haven’t done anything wrong, our attitude is pure, the faults are only on the other, they have impure motivations, we have only pure motivations…

      I can’t read Marion’s book because I cannot read French but hopefully there will be an English translation available soon. Then everybody who can’t read French but at least English can make up their own mind about what Marion has to say, or as Rigpa put it “applying their own intelligence and logic to what is being said.” He he he!

      However, I agree, the accusation made by victims or witnesses of the abuse of power (including sexual abuse of young women) within Rigpa are not in line with Rigpa’s promoted “true identity”. And yes, there is “a real problem”, how can Rigpa proof that women were not harmed (which is even acknowledged by some of their own directors)? So, “how can we face these false correct accusations, show them to be false and reaffirm to the public who we really are and what we stand for?” You can’t. There are just too many witnesses and victims of abuse.

      There is no “bona fide witch hunt orchestrated by a tiny handful of people” but there are WOMEN, MEN, REAL PEOPLE who reported and told about the abuse of power – facts, even acknowledged by current and former Rigpa directors. Indeed, claims of abuse being made “do not in any way reflect the experience of the overwhelming majority of people” because the overwhelming majority of people are not young pretty women who are lured into sexual relationships with SR and not all of them experienced the damaging bullying by SR.

      We can only repeat even more forcefully that the names of Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche cannot possibly be associated with assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour.

      Those being harmed by the organisation might say the opposite ;-)
      I would like to ask those who formulated the statement and press release: Did you forget all those reports or testimonies? There are also more recent reports (it is wrong when you claim “unfounded rumours and accusations that have been posted on the internet since the past fifteen years which, in fact, always originate from the same sources.”). Recent reports from other sources include the interview with Olivier Raurich… or the lady who wanted to be close to her father and who was commanded by SR to “Undress!”… or pressurising women in retreat at Lerab Ling to have sex with him…

      It’s ridiculous to deny that women (and men) have been harmed because there are REAL PEOPLE who reported they have been harmed, e.g. SR having had sex with two wives of two of his students for many years. Their reports not only ring true but share quite similar patterns of abuse, manipulation and harm with other reports or testimonies… Not only this, Rigpa itself didn’t deny these events in those circles where they were witnessed or happened but declared them to be ok to those circles, claiming that these actions are ok because SR is a lay person and a genuine master and can therefore do these actions. So in public you practice denial, but internally you can’t deny these events, you accept them to be true, but you insist on your view that these actions are ok. Obviously, you know for yourself that the latter claims won’t be accepted by the public, therefore you invent another narrative for the public. The narrative of denial and attack.

      On top of this dishonest denial you tell SR practices Lojong “Give all profit and gain to others. Take all loss and defeat upon yourself.” Sorry, using Dharma to consecrate wrong doings is a bit perverse, isn’t it?

      I see, this attitude (to consecrate wrong doings by quoting the dharma and manipulating the facts) “is quite different from today’s mainstream thinking, is practised by men and women who are seeking to develop compassion to its very fullest extent, and thereby emulate the courage, benevolence and big-heartedness of the great saints of the past.” I don’t agree with that. “The great saints” who are “seeking to develop compassion to its very fullest extent” don’t abuse their power to bring young ladies to sexual activities, which these young ladies didn’t really want or were looking for. Since many women (and men) reported to have been harmed by SR and his activities, the real “great saint” would excuse for having brought harm onto other sentient beings, isn’t it? A Bodhisattva who erred or harmed others will be “shocked” about having caused harm and pain, isn’t it? He will be truthful and apologise if there was any harm, isn’t it? He will be honest or truthful and humble enough to excuse, isn’t it? But no excuse has ever been given so far. Then, where is here “the great saint” who is “seeking to develop compassion to its very fullest extent”?

      This is all a pot of contradictions what you write. As far as I can see, Rigpa has clearly a problem and women have been abused and need help and support + an official excuse and means that prevent further abuse have to be made.

      I mean, if you genuinely “feel only warm-heartedness, love and compassion toward them”, please EXCUSE for the harm you have done and don’t deny the harm you have done.

      In a discussion with a Rigpa director I had a while ago, that Rigpa director acknowledged that women has been harmed. So, how can you then officially deny the obvious and blur the facts with a pseudo-dharma attitude? Isn’t it time to be honest and fair, instead of attacking this/those source(s) who criticise(s) you as being “opinionated, incomplete, and biased”, lacking “thorough and objective research” and being “financed by Chinese benefactors”?

      This principle is captured in a verse from a very popular teaching by Atisha:

      Do not bother examining the faults of others, but examine your own faults. Purge yourself of them like bad blood. Nor should you concentrate on your own virtues; rather respect those as a servant would.

      As you say, “of course, this approach may be difficult for many people in our modern day to understand.” But luckily, the blame lies only in others (for you) because “Rinpoche has always said that he bears not the slightest resentment, anger or ill-will, and nor does he wish to retaliate or respond to any of these accusations, no matter how strange, shocking or untrue they may be.” – Sorry, but this sounds like the statement from the “concrete heads” of the East German Communist Party or communist devotees who have a need to toss the party line. “Honesty and transparency are the basis of faith” – as HH the Dalai Lama has put it. Dishonesty and in-transparency, lies and dissimulation undermine faith and the development of ethics.

      BTW, it is true that the same publisher released a vicious attack on HH Dalai lama under the title “Dalai Lama Not So Zen” a few years ago. And this might undermine to a certain degree the reputation of Editions Max Milo and indirectly the reputation of the book by Marion Dapsance. But, you take a wrong way to deny your own faults of having repeatedly harmed women (and men) through the abuse of power, by pointing to a former fault of the publisher. The fault of a publisher can’t white wash or make your own faults non-existent ;-)
      Moreover, Marion Dapsance is a researcher and anthropologist. Charles Ramble, who wrote the preface, is an anthropologist and former University Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at the Oriental Institute, Oxford University. These are not insane people ;-)

      However, to fully judge her work, I need to read it. From what I learned so far from Marion and her earlier paper, she made field research in your organisation and she spoke with a lot of people, so there is a basis for her work that is not fiction but the experiences of human beings which can’t be denied by stressing good experiences other Rigpa followers made. Good and bad experiences can coexist. Good and bad books from the same publisher can coexist. A bad book can still contain valid information and a good book can still contain errors. Your trick is to weight good against bad, but the world, relationships and existence in general are not black and white but very very complex…

      • Rigpa can’t openly deal with allegations. Most of the members of Rigpa don’t know what’s going on. It’s mostly very well concealed. The behavior by Rinpoche that is public is explained over and over within the group in Dharma terms. The teacher being a Vajrayana teacher and therefore unconventional is only one of them.
        Good-hearted, intelligent people have dropped their judgement over and over. What they’re given, believe it or not, is an incredibly rich Dharma experience and education, so it’s hard to let that go for most students.
        People in the group just don’t know. I don’t think even Rinpoche is aware that his actions are abusive, perhaps.

        Only by discussing things openly within the group, instead of following PR protocol, can the organization change. And if it doesn’t change I fear it won’t survive.

        • Thank you.

          There may be two key problems. Those who know things in Rigpa not speaking out, and the lack of censure from any Tibetan teacher of Sogyal’s actions.

          It might be true that SR thinks he is doing right. Trump thinks this as well I guess.

        • The question here in your contribution is for me: Are the teachings of Esolf really authentic Dharma or not?
          Yes, because he uses mainly the teachings of others, real good teachers, while parroting those teachers in a very clever way, so that people think, he has created such teaching.
          So one can get a good grounding in tibetan Buddhism.

          No, because he is absusive in many ways.

          Esolf : abuses Dharma for restoring the reputation and power of the Lakar-family
          : to build him as Lama number two after HHDL worldwide
          : to feed his need for being an important person
          : nurturing his desire for young naive girls
          : his money and relations for making politics instead of something useful
          : abusing that way relationships between the tibetan Lamas are handled
          “If you helped one person, this person can never speak out about you”
          and so on…..

          He lacks any capacitiy for being selfcritically, from my point of view in a very unhealthy way, he seems to be even selfconvinced to a insane degree.

          For all those “good people” in Rigpa; each of them is responsible for him/herself to tay or not, whatever reasoning they apply to justify to stay there.

          If one wants to follow Dharma in a way that brings results, one need to become honest with oneself, in all possible ways, otherways it ends in playing games with the rest of the “Sangha” mates.

          So longer the time since I left Esolfs playground, I can see more and more clear to what degree many enthusiastic followers just follow their their own carot of blindness and selfdeception….

          And, after a timespan in this mode, one need to become stubbornly defending this state of mind…
          collectively, to avoid realizing ones own stupidity and naivity and so on..

          Of course, those who are Rigpa Officials, and help actively to hide away the rotten story, are very problematic.

          It would be different to admit to oneself that one was just a naive subject to manipulations, or to realize one was active part of such a insane group.

          And with regard to other tibetan Lamas: It looks to me as if critics from western side is unacceptable in general.

          To bring my statement to an end: I can remember very good, when Esolf repeated many times a day, of how his son Yeshe is allready “a natural born leader” and so on. He was fascinated by this term and its meaning.

          Later on, I consider this as a good example how Esolf works: He want to play a certain role in worldy games in certain matter, and a term like “natural born leader” is part of this role he wants to play desperatly.

        • “Good-hearted, intelligent people have dropped their judgement over and over”

          Unfortunately I want to add that I experienced that many of such people as decribed above and almost everybody admired and loved them, could show a very different side of their personality: As soon their position within Rigpa seems threatened, their mental approach seems to be questioned, a person might become a danger for Rigpas reputation and so on; if something like that happened, one can see very quickly the difference between attitude and whats really moving a person…

          To experience such a quick change from wise and moderate person to just the opposite can be quite shocking.

      • Just to let you know, I changed a passage in my long comment above (commenting on the statement and press release) and I added a new one at the end…

  25. Hello Tenpel,
    You wrote:
    “Very interesting to witness, how the official management falls into a mode of denial and attack …”

    Except for paying homage to SR or Rigpa absolutely no mandala-student really is allowed or has courage to give official statements to the public in a selfresponsible way about any critical points concerning rigpa. And everybody in rigpa, with the exeption of Guru Sogyal, is a student, regardless of his position or job. SR is an absolute controll freak pulling all the important and relevant strings behind and in front of the curtain. Of course he himself (and his pr-agency) is the only responsible author of that official “LerabLingResponse”. Sogyal, the great bodhisattva, who never defends himself! Ha! he only tries new tactics: still remaining the great bodhisattva, who not defends himself, but who instructs his closest students how to defend him, now very actively in the public too!
    maybe its a dangerous game he begins to play ,because more bad press could be developed. .. seems he is a little bit desperate.

    • Yes, keeping in mind the Rigpa structure and dominance and control attitude of SR (similar to KG in his NKT) of course, this statement is highly likely exactly what he himself has to say about himself.

      Actually, I don’t wonder that he praises himself – there are some stories people told me where he praised himself and denigrated others – e.g. in a swimming pool where – according to the story – he mocked about Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and praised himself as the greater and better Dzogchen master. When I heard this story from a witness who heard it directly and who was present I remembered the first bodhisattva root vow: “praising oneself and belittling others” (out of attachment for praise, reputation or gain.) Needless to say, that this didn’t increase my faith ;-)

      Its also true, the statement is a bit desperate and in a way it shows something more effective is taking place, Rigpa can’t ignore anymore.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      “Except for paying homage to SR or Rigpa absolutely no mandala-student really is allowed or has courage to give official statements to the public ”

      What do you mean by “Is allowed”. No, in 20 years I have not seen any repression used on non conforming students. Those that were for some reason or another dissatisfied usually left and were not heard again. Those who stayed are apparently satisfied with what they get, so why would they complain?

      What do you mean with “the public”? The average Rigpa student neither gets to see SRs sexual life nor is the normal student at the receiving end of his “correction” sprees. So why would they complain and to whom? And what exactly could they complain about, except being witness to some harsh treatment of some disciples. Which, by the way you only qualify for if you explicitly ask for it. You have to petition to be in the group that gets this treatment, everyone else has to f… up really good in some position to get attention like this.

      In fact, why I have phased out Rigpa mostly was the non-treatment I (and the average Rigpa student) got from him over the years. I have done voluntary work for Rigpa for years and not ever gotten a word of recognition or anything personal from him. He actually almost seems to look through people without any recognition or personal interest you when you encounter him, very aloof looking. Now I don’t know what’s going on in his mind, that’s how he comes across for me. I am certainly not one of these neurotic attention seekers and am quite satisfied with a little tidbit here and there and then a place in the back row. I don’t do voluntary work to get a medal out of it but I do it because I like to do that work and find it worthwhile.
      But on an outer level, I can not work with a teacher that gives you zero occasion for some kind of personal relationship or recognition for anything or showing any interest in my person and my being there at all.

      Like for example when SR dines with the sangha when there is a party, he is ALWAYS seated at his special table where only his close intimates have access. He won’t exchange a word with anyone else. Whereas, Garchen Rinpoche was here in my town some weeks ago, I helped at the event and after the drupchen was finished he stayed for a few days and he always took his meals with the people still there, the cleanup crew and ate the same food as we did, cooked from the remains form the events, being very kind to anyone who was there, no matter who, even if there was nobody there to translate for him. This “special table with his special people” mentality is, for me, a lot more offputting than some occasional very direct and unpleasant words from the lama when it is deserved.

  26. “*Rigpa is a network of centres and Buddhist groups open to the wisdom of all Buddhist schools and traditions. Under the gracious patronage of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Rigpa offers a complete path of Buddhist study and practice…” and so on.
    Their Explaination what rigpa “really” is…attached in small letters Rigpa press Release 16.9.2016
    “Under guidance of Sogyal Rinpoche” is lost:)
    The Dalai Lama card wherever and so often as possible.

    • If you work for Rigpa, it is very strict handled that one never give a free personal statement or so, for example to newer students. One is directed to quote the master.

      Of course is this not a written rule, but its works its way on many subtle levels. That include then social self control in the groups. Without a solid standing and high degree of selfworthiness sooner or later one become prey to such a supressive system.
      If one want become an instructor, you are really taught how important it is not express ones own understanding of Dharma, but only repeat the words as taught.

      This makes sense to a certain degree, otherwise people mix easily all kind of esoteric green alternativistic psychostuff with Dharma, but within Rigpa I experienced it as controlling measurement.

      This leads, together with some other means to quite a suppressing atmosphere.

      • dharmaanarchist says:

        My observation too. Though there was a problem within Rigpa that course leaders began to implement non dharma “stuff” in their presentation of the buddhist teachings.

        This is a problem in a big group that needs “instructors” and group leaders for a course system while having hardly any people who have done extensive study and meditation retreats to teach dharma genuinely from their own experience.

        Only citing the teacher, not giving one’s own personal interpretation in Rigpa is by the way not reserved to the words of Sogyal Rinpoche. You can equally quote classic literature of the lineage like Words of my Perfect Teacher, some Sutra, some other approved teacher like Dzongsar Khyentse etc.

        • To avoid that representers mix all kind of stuff, especially personal favorites, with Dharma seems not to be questionable.

          But , as everything else, it depends on the motivation behind it.

          From my point of view, in a organisation that is extremely focused on the person on the top, more or less people give up common sense and start to copy the person on the top, or part of the persons behaviour. Thats the trick with the living example. To all the projections people might have towards the topperson comes in addition more adaptions of all things the person on top wants.

          This can lead, when the environment is accordingly, to a whole atmosphere of artificial unauthentic bahaviour, where many people starts to control others with social pressure.

          I underwent instructors training too, and remember very well how rigid every little move was assessed, but not in helpful manner but in terms of control and suppression.

          Of course, other people perceive different, but I have made this experience many times, and many people who left Rigpa sooner or later joined this point of view.

          Another example: It was made necessary to join the home retreat to undergo a interview. It happened then that complete new persons had to answer questions to almost new people, questions that did not make any sense, but could serve to give the interviewed ones a feeling of be low and subject to semi-instructors.
          This interviews clearly hadnt been the idea of Esolf but of his underlings. It is very clear to see for me how a rigid control centered environment is created, started from the top down to a small group of people newly intersted in Buddhism.
          The persons in charge want to do right, follow their leader strictly, or what they think is to follow, and in consequence the whole sangha things mirrors such a mode of mind.

          This is not unknown within larger groups, some research was done already on that issue, this is exactly a tool group dictators and cult gurus use very clever.

          “Implement a atmosphere of mutual control, and this will be applied from the top to the lowest realm of followers!”

          I wnat to give an example how slightest things can have so different effects, since it depends of what is behind in terms of motivations.

          I made the experience that in case of Rigpa that, as was said here in this blog the fish always rots from the head.

          It was Esolf who trained some main people to understand that they are even responsible how others perceive them, whatever they are doing.

          When applying this wise idea, then the person on top is co-responsible for organisation, in terms of the unspoken and subtle rules.

          And this is the point, some Rinpoches do not understand from my point of view that the impact the have can cause many not so dharmic results, especially when the behave in the “crazy wisdom” style.

          What I want to express here again is, that there might no point in playing down certain aspects within cultish organisations.

          Of course can one spent 20 years within Rigpa and still the harmonious atmosphere, and love everything, but eventually this changes quickly, when brought under pressure, become attacked by some sanghamates for whatever reason, or as Olivier Raurich, become subject to some disciplining measurement.

          A person might experience a inner riot, run away from Rigpa, and become critical, and slowly fall the scales from the eye, on is debunked.

          • dharmaanarchist says:

            “I underwent instructors training too, and remember very well how rigid every little move was assessed, but not in helpful manner but in terms of control and suppression.”

            I have heard that from a reliable source some years ago too. In my country at that time there was a humourless control freak party-line hardliner at the helm of the whole instructor system. She’s out of it for several years now, but I got the impression the culture she had implemented over nearly two decades is still to some extent there. And it’s her doing, not SR’s. He is only to blame that he didn’t notice it/didn’t find it problematic and didn’t correct it.

            Though one has to acknowledge that since more and more students in Rigpa have done long term meditation retreats or traditional study programs these days in the recent years the overall quality of a lot of courses has improved due to the increase of knowledge and experience of the people holding it.

            I used to call the instructors “disc jockeys” because they were not allowed to do more than playing tapes and reading pre-prepared materials off the sheet. I was told by an instructor in training that he was chided for telling a harmless joke in a session he held. He quit instructors training shortly after.

            • Just as a brief observation & some thoughts… as SR can be extremely rude and harsh / really bullying people, it doesn’t make me wonder that his students can have similar patterns especially when they are in positions of power. An controlling or rude/sometimes aggressive culture therefore has a lot to do with him and is not ONLY the fault of the faithful student. I observed that behaviour myself and found it very disturbing and totally unnecessary- how a rigpa manager who had something to say shouted at a lady. This lady served coffee in a rigpa shop but was very busy. So, I said to her: no need to bring me the coffee outside, I’ll take it myself. When this rigpa manager saw her not bringing me the coffee outside he harshly and unkindly shouted on her. I’ve never experienced that even in an ordinary coffee shop. SR sets with his bullying tactics IMO a very bad example. People learn from this bad example and are going to emulate him. As the Buddha warned, be careful whom you trust because you become like the object of your devotion. Don’t underestimate that the basic culture of any enterprise reflects very much the mentality right at the top.

              • “As the Buddha warned, be careful whom you trust because you become like the object of your devotion.”

                This true, form my observation. Could you tell me, please, where I can find this in the scriptures ?

                “Don’t underestimate that the basic culture of any enterprise reflects very much the mentality right at the top. ”

                It turns out that this is a fact, not just hearsaying or fairytales. Its even commom knowledge.

                But unfortunately, western lay practioners as well as eastern Lamas tend to ignore such a phenomen quite consequently.

              • dharmaanarchist says:

                It’s true. SR’s authoritarian behaviour sets a bad example for older disciples in positions.

                Again, I am not opposed to a dharma teacher who critisizes students who do something wrong or a dharma teacher who genuinely displays wrathful skillful means to help sentient beings.

                But in my opinion there are a few caveats connected with those. Firstly, the qualified teacher should be skillful enough to not act like that in public when he might cause a loss of faith in people witnessing this. Secondly, he should not act like that around people who mistake it as an invitation to emulate seemingly similar “wrathful” behaviour towards others without the realisation behind it.

                As Padmasambhava said:

                Though the view should be as vast as the sky, keep your conduct as fine as barley flour

                Behaving in a way that have a potential that people lose faith in the teachings and the teacher or that they misunderstand the teachings should be avoided. And that’s the point where in my opinion SR fails.

            • Well I made they same experiences in parts or main parts of the Rigpa followers in France,Suisse ( even more rigid), GB , of course depended the degree of it on the persons involved.

              BUT THIS IS A SYSTEM IMPLEMENTED FROM THE TOP! Do you really believe that within Rigpa a few single persons can act on their own for a longer time? Really?

              There is to much social control from others, they all know people in Lerab Ling, to whom they more or less report, even if its only on level of chatting. Sooner or later the people in control know and they report to Esolf.

              And, as a person fascinated by ideas of strong leadership and a person gifted with many talents, he controls his crowds by having different strings of “networkers” or “older students network” that control each other suspicious.
              Of course, on the outer level, they all treat each other with love, peace and respect, but on a mor inner level not. Its not on surface. The surface is for those who wants”Kindergartenidylle”

              Of course is this infiltraded by really good people, some of them even seeing this things or at least not involved and trying to cope with, making just a spirituall challenge out of it, as I dit.

              Couldnt you see how strict the people right on the top of Rigpa control the whole? Who gets what kind of job, who is doing what and how? and how money and time does she/he give? and so on?

              Please dont be such naive. I dont want be the bashing part of the post here und you shouldnt be the whitewashing part.

              The person you mentioned, of course I know the person. You described on an earlier part here of your experience with the “Caresystem”, especially the woman in charge then.

              I know what you described and I want tell you that your fate was not the exception but the general teratment.

              We write about the care system 2 chapters, because we can show here how easily goodwilling people can change to quite agressive lying and manipulative characters, when in charge.

              Usally I dont want fingerpoint to persons a an individual, but it is sometimes unavoidable.

              There was for a few years a woman in charge in Berlin who, as I was learned, is a teacher of Rosenbergs nonviolent communication.

              Well, I hardly can remember a person who was said to be excellent in lying, manipulating and playing dirty tricks on others. On the surface so softspoken, devoted, even almost helpless, but as soon you looked inside: just the opposite. Wow, what a experience.

              But I want to say something very positive about Rigpa: As long the retreat in LL was running, was a home retreat in most Rigpa countries.

              And the people of Rigpa responsible for it did a very good job. We got from different masters parts of their work, systematically going trough “Words of my perfect teachers” and so on. The first time one could study and practice in an non-chaotic way for a longer time.

              The best Rigpa ever produced, and Esolf seems not to be so part of it.


              • dharmaanarchist says:

                Yes, in my experience, despite the “control” of SR, the individual higher up responsible people are quite free to do things as they see fit.

                This unpleasant attitude implemented in the German instructor system can be traced to one person, who ran the instructor program for long years. I have no experience with other countries so I can’t make a comment on problems like this in other countries or how it was handled there.

                The care system was a mess when it was implemented, as so often, they put the absolutely wrong people in charge of it. I have first hand negative experience there. It seems to have greatly improved in recent years though.

              • The home retreat WAS excellent.
                To the earlier discussion about how those at the top acted, I can say that at least in the US the top officials, instructors, and facilitators have been very compassionate and kind for many many years. As have sangha members.
                That’s the hard part about this criticism of the group–parts of it are really true. But within the group the culture of support and understanding has grown so much.
                I don’t know how it is in other countries. In retreat in Lerab Ling there was a lot of kindness but also more feeling of everyone needing to follow rules. That wasn’t my experience in the US.

                • dharmaanarchist says:

                  Interesting. Yes, I have heard that the “culture” in the various Rigpa branches in the different countries is very different. In Germany it tended to be very, very rigid.

                  As I understand dharma, it’s something that is supposed to liberate us from our biases, opinions, concepts about ourselves and the world, without replacing them with new ones to bog us down, that dharma is not a new set of concepts that we have to trade our worldly concepts for. With the organisaton of Rigpa and the course system I very much felt that there was not a lot of liberation going on but rather the implementing of a new layer of concepts. And while they were talking about Dzogchen all the time, the main people that I knew all gave me the impression that they found too “liberated” people suspicious/dangerous and sometimes I joked that if you want to attain liberation in Rigpa you have to ask your instructor if you are allowed to and you have to request admisson into to the proper mandala group beforehand and can only do it once you gained official permission by your superiors. An institution for the prevention of liberation you could say.

                  • “Without replacing them with new ones ”
                    Urrrr, so isn’t there any place for all the wonderful teachings of Paltrul Rinpoche such as the Kunzang Lamai or the Lojong teachings of the Kadampas?
                    Your understanding sounds both absolutist and incomplete, but I could be wrong.
                    It does sound a little like too much Dzogchen and not enough preliminary though???

                    • dharmaanarchist says:

                      Oh, there is very much a place for the teachings of Patrul Rinpoche etc. You are just doing something wrong if you turn them into a doctrin to bind people. You need wisdom AND skillful means, both, without the wisdom aspect the conventional aspect buddhist teachings degenerate into a set of beliefs that are just as binding as any samsaric kind of belief system.

                      Like if you believe that the deities have some solid reality, you completely miss the point of the whole thing and don’t get a healthy result from the practice.

                      I mean, they used the teachings of Jesus to bind people into more conceptual confusion, you can equally use buddhist teachings to do so.

                    • We call it the golden chains of spirituality; its gold, but it still binds you

                  • Yes, and why? As long as the semi-god on top watches jealously that he is in charge with you.
                    Despite all this generous doing, all the teachers coming? Yes, otherwise the big gathering hall in LL would be if existing quite empty.

                    Once I understood that all this approach of “personal knowing and caring” of the students is just a fake, a artificial unauthentic product, a show delivered with many helping hands, a result of planning and inscening, I was not even shocked.
                    I thought, yes, how could he (Esolf) manage otherwise all those people, and many of them wanting and neurotic, always in need of something” higher”, that require a kind of system to manage.

                    Such a system, or at least a management, might ne necessary for every Lama who runs a crowd.

                    But later I understood, that Esolf doesnt care about people, not at all. It cares for his needs, it reputations, it plans ( visions).

                    But why then all this stuff about a Lama that cares……..?

                    It is just show, from my point of view. A tibetan tradition?

                    • dharmaanarchist says:

                      I can’t comment about what’s going on in SR’s head since I don’t know him personally, have never talked with him. I’m not clairvoiant either. I find your claims of knowing his exact motivations highly speculative.

                      All I can do is speculate based on his outward behaviour and the effects his actions have had on people over the years (good and bad). I have seen him inspire some really uncalled for behaviour in his students, I have seen quite annoying people among his students change for the better over the years. And that leads me to the conclusion that most likely he is a teacher of genuine dharma with some blind spots in problematic places.

                    • Yes, of course do I speculate. Based on my own, some group based reflections and discussion, a collection of experiences of a dozen longterm ex-students, comments here in the blog and so on.

                      Still I cant look inside his mind. But so more I realized that he reacts as much as any ordinary being ( Example: A invated teacher in LL has lots success, on th spot reacts Esolf to put himself massive into scene, as was described here)

                      And I think in opposite to you that what he teaches is not his own deep knowing but clever presented, nor has he much realization of what he presents (speculative, its my perception), and abuses his position to maintain abusive patterns and the Dharma to justify it ( Crazy wisdom).

                      Therefore, almost everything is with Esolf possible: On can gain basics of Dharma or not, or just a confused understanding, or get deeper understanding or not, or even become a Dzogchenmaster on ones own, what I doubt strongly.

                      But I do not see him as an authentic master of Dharma, too many people had left his halls headshaking and thinking he represents Dharma, and as a consequence stay away, not only from Esolf but from Dharma as well.

                    • Of course, it might be that the dharma is what changed them, not the all seeing guru

              • dharmaanarchist says:

                One impression I got over the years in Rigpa is, that SR tends to deliberately give incompetent people positions in the hope that it’s a learning experience for them and they can grow while doing the job, I guess because sometimes also there is no truly suitable person available.

                Which is not so bad an idea in itself, were it not the victims of the incompetence of those people. You can put incompetent people to gardening or housekeeping or torma making and allow them to grow on the job, you can not do that with finances and the care for people in emotional troubles because the negative impact will affect the wellbeing of people, the reputation of the organisation and the donors..

                Like for example an insensitive “spriritual care” person talking to a student in a crisis and accidently upsetting the person more rather than helping, when the “spiritual care person” has been publicly approved by SR. I was a victim of that maybe 10 years ago with multiple people and found it a lot less than funny. It basically destroyed my trust in SRs judgement and responsibility for his students because he was the one who appointed those folks and that was the point where I started to drift away from Rigpa. I hold him indirectly responsible if he appoints people and they harm be because they are incompetent.

                • dharmaanarchist says:

                  Oh and what I forgot. I don’t mind if someone makes a mistake, misjudges a person and puts him or her in a position where he then fumbles and things go wrong and I am at the receiving end of it. Hey, we are all human, this is samsara, there is a tremendous potential for things to go wrong in all kinds of ways, mistakes happen!

                  On my complaint (and possibly other people’s too) he told that person that if she can’t help someone, she at least shouldn’t do harm. Okay, but the same could be applied to him. He put that person into a position where she could harm people in the first place. If I release a crocodile into a bathing lake it’s my responsibility if people get hurt.

                  What I mind if this person can not acknowledge he has made a mistake. And to my knowledge SR has never ever publicly directly acknowledged having made a mistake, having misjudged something etc.

                • Welcome to dharma centres in the west, where people misconstrue positions in administration for an indication of status in an imagined spiritual hierarchy. That’s not cultish beviour: it’s Dharma in the West ( and East!)
                  If you think that’s bad, imagine the situation in Triratna, where people are actually vetted by superiors who have been told they are ‘spiritually evolved’! And they believe it, even claiming to be ‘stream enterers’ and so on. If they are stream enterers, how come they don’t have any of the Siddhas the scriptures accord to such a level of realisation? Self aggrandising spiritual ego maniacs- just like their teacher.

                • We ( the group working on the book) gave that approach of putting higly incompetent people in charge the working name “hippie approach”, because it looks like funny theories are exposed to real happening and the results can be breathtaking……

  27. Adamo wrote: “Unfortunately I want to add that I experienced that many of such people as decribed above and almost everybody admired and loved them, could show a very different side of their personality: ”

    yes,when leaving rigpa after 13years i began to ask questions and had several personal talks to instructors concerning the sogyalsexcase. these icecold statements of partly highranking old students/instructors were the second shock after shocked by first discoverys from my Internetresearches. Before my confrontations with them i highly respected these instructors very much, but their behaviour ( smiling understanding) and their allknown phrases let me felt at that time like spiritual dying, like living in a kafkaesque nightmare.
    Meanwhile i know: the fish stinks from the head.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      Not my experience. Everyone has his or her own delusions. I have met hyprocritical non cmpassionate people in leading positons in dharma organisations like FPMT too. And some of the old students of Tulku Pema Wangyal, a bodhisattva teacher without and fault are not people particularly I like to deal with, to express it diplomatically.

      What you experienced with the Rigpa officials, trying to whitewash SRs sexual escapades, the fundamental attitude that makes people behave like that is not at all something you only find with students of “bad” teachers.

      And not all people in Rigpa are like that. For example I have a friend of mine who has been his student for 20 years, still is, but attested that if he knew a young female person interested in buddhism, he would see that she is not introduced to the Rigpa inner circles. He can have SR as a teacher but still admit that he has personal flaws that have to be taken into consideration.

      I mean, there are more apparently competent teachers who are showing some kind of human fault or another. Take the squabble about the Karmapa reincarnations for example.

      When you are advised to see your teacher as a buddha, I think it’s a very immature mistake to assume the person is in fact a true buddha with all the attributes, like omniscience, unable to do a harmful act etc. Mostly you get a bodhisattva on the path who has yet to clarify some portion of ignorance, habits and tendencies, trying his or her best, but with blind spots of this or that kind. To expect absolute perfection from such a person results in wrong expectations that will fail. These whitewasher disciples seem unable to cope with this ambivalence. They insist their teacher is PERFECT, I think that’s some type of psychological mother transferrence, like children experiencing a hard disappointment when they realize that their mother is not a perfect mother, having done things to them that were not up to the standards of a perfect mother. And some will never be able to admit the imperfection of their idealized figure, probably because they would have to admit their own imperfection and the imperfection of their world and beliefs along with their idol. It’s basically a very widespread psychological mechanism driving this behaviour, not something specifically found in followers of less than perfect spiritual teachers. Therapist’s offices are full with people struggling to reconcile the emotional turmoil over assumed perfection vs the reality that shatters those fantasies.

      The best term I found for this is a German one. In their minds they have created their own private Gartenzwergidylle and cling to it with everything they have because they find the real world with it’s ambivalence too uncomfortable. They are not brainwashed, they themselves crave the cultish mindset and you can find this type in perfectly non-cultish groups.

      • I see your points, dharmaanarchist, and mainly I think this points are right.

        To me, the problem starts, when a Dharmateacher wants his students to believe he is a unfaillable Buddha, and everything is done to maintain such a dillusion.

        In such a case, the “Gartenzwergidylle” is not a subject to the skillfull means of Dharma, but a mean to exploit students for your own cause: Sexual desire, srong wanting for reputation and so on.

        Just the 8 worldly occupations.

        The difference is to me, that a teacher is aware of his own faults, or, in the opposite, hide it away, instead building his image as a perfect Buddha.

        Rigpa is a classical case for people nurturing their different neurosis, including “Gartenzwergidylle”, but unfortunately create this the soil for exploitation.

        I know some “Sanghas”, where the teacher is really good, but his students keep on playing their games as in Rigpa too. Its a general thing, not exclusively owned by Rigpa students.

        I havent meet one singular tibetan teacher who can really cope with that, they ignore or avoid to meet this point, or pretend even to be experts on issues like that, but as soon one looks behind the facade, its all the same, only the degree of severity varies.

        I dont know why they do so, since I realized that some even actively avoid to talk about this issue.
        They come, teach, get the special treatment and money and leave their club of western people back again, and the cultish game keep on going.

        Frankly, it appears to me a certain immaturity on both sides.

        Anyway, the group of Ex-Rigpa keep on writing, with low progress, since its time consuming, but
        sooner or later that book will be published.
        I havent read the new Labsance book, but as know form her thesis or whatever she wrote before, that she lacks a good standing in Dharma knowledge, but I admit it is very diffcult to write proberly, when still pissed of with all this trials to cover the facts.

        But with regards to Rigpa: I mean its different that Rigpa main persons who knows whats going own, just dont want to see it or actively supports with all means to hide this rotten stories.

        Thats to me the borderline.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          “To me, the problem starts, when a Dharmateacher wants his students to believe he is a unfaillable Buddha, and everything is done to maintain such a dillusion.”

          To my knowledge SR never has claimed to be an unfailable buddha. People might have misinterpreted what he said in this direction.

          • Yes and know. Esolf wouldnt say such things directly. At 9 oclock you read in the words of my perfect teacher about how to see the Lama , and at 10 Clock Esolf speaks one hour how he work day and night for the welfare of students andthat one gets easily distracted when believing what is said outside Rigpa, and so on. Dharmaanarchist, you should know what I mean.

            The ways to manipulate students towards a artificial view on their Lama are more subtle, then just saying: Oh, I am the Buddha.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          “I havent meet one singular tibetan teacher who can really cope with that, they ignore or avoid to meet this point, or pretend even to be experts on issues like that, but as soon one looks behind the facade, its all the same, only the degree of severity varies.”

          That’s a cultural thing I believe, in my opinion Tibetans are not able to fully look through the typical westen mindest and they don’t know how to correct it effectively on a person to person level. Directly addressing problems and talking about it to the culprit is also not a very Asian thing to do. They will hint at in in the general teachings and expect people to apply those to themselves.
          Which never happens in some cases, which creates people that after some teaching on compassion, blissfully smile in your face and tell you, they are not your taxi, not at all able to reflect how uncompassionate they actually behave.

          This type of issue is more for a western psychotherapist to address than for a Tibetan lama.

          • That means that those teachers do not really know how to teach. Just to repeat the words as learned might be not enough.

            Of course are the teachers not to be held responsible for the psychological and otherwise problem of their students, but it would be better to speak it out.

            Otherwise remain all those teachings embedded in a quite chaotical setting.

            Here a teacher, accepting all the money and the bows and the whatevers, protected from and distanced well from his students by his guarding system, but announced as a person who knows how western people are and so on.

            And as have almost no knowledge of how tibetans receive the teachings, on the few occasions I witnessed, they didnt come for teaching and advice how to train, but for the blessing.

            It occured to me, that the teachers then did not react as well, the just keep talking.

            Of course, as a westerner, I wolud be interested in having a real impact, see slowly results, and in case I get critics, I would try to listen and understand.

            What is it good for having the capacity to teach the Dharma in the west and not make really the best out of it.

            Sometimes I feel, as if any slightest word that could be understood as critics by a low western student, seems to challenge the teachers position and power.

  28. Hallo Tenpel,

    slowly we get things right?! We should not use terms like „wischi waschi“ and should stay mindful. One has to read very open minded and free of all presets. The buddhist way of thinking and writing can become a preset and is sometimes a fassade to hide behind. not in your case, but sometimes. So, what can we do to get things healed?

    I saw people, young women too, being extremly flattered by any kind of attension by the master. My impression: both should learn, Master and students. What makes a person become a victim? What are your pers. feelings and experiences? When and why does a person (you) becomes „blind“, loosing the intuitivness? Why did you lose it and when, why did it return? Tell those victims, if you like, if you want to share it. Maybe beyond the prefix of budhhism ductus and language policy. To reach many.

    1 Many buddhist masters recomended: the student should take refuge to the enlightened beings (sangha) in the enlightened realms. Not to worldy beings. A save advice. It is the ego which brings all censorschip into rigpa and into buddhism. It is the ego which makes people afraid and weak not to speak, not to speak out the truth in front of the master. If a master gets angry…he or she is not right.

    2 To all who feel hurt: intuitviness always returns, unhurt stays, completly from the beginning on. It is the ego which turns a being into a victim, it is not…the true self. No other being is able to close the gates into holy realms for others. No being ever shall. We not fear. We open the gate and we close it ourselves. Buddha-Nature is in every being complete. Holy, the relams are, the nature of mind is and will be always. In every being. Do not fear. It is about to remember….

    3 We could initiate a „open letter“ to rigpa, to Sogyal Rinpoche. Expressing some of the hurt, some of the pain and disappointment, written by the people themselves. (Rigpa declared they are just a few?) I guess there are hundreds, maybe more. This could move something, could be a part of the healing in a mindful way. To express is always part of the healing. We print it and give it to S.R., rigpa, in public. We all write a book and ask S.R. to write a preface, or respond to everyone directly…you see, my humor is limitless…and my prayers for healing too.:)☺

    4 We could suggest a public peace process, a healing process, like in south afrika (Mandela). Would be a complete change…maybe w.w. a film, video. ect…

    Rigpa was such a „preset world“ (above), somehow. For many, but not for all. In my experience: these presets of the mind had never been valid or restricting S.R. (not, when we were in pers. contact). I must say: his giving was limitless and exact, precise and heartful. It was complete. Even if i refused any censoring in rigpa,org. / Example: once there was a selfish, a reckless self praising statement (P. Gaffney) in a public video from a rigpa event in San Diego, according to the 20th year of the Book. I mentioned (via mail) why these statement is embarrassing, degrading former buddhist writings. Rigpa took the video off the website, a week later.

    The court case and all about misbehaving should clarified. Even if it costs money.
    First, we are responsible for ourselves, always. If we give up responsibility, we are very close to become victims. It is not the purpose of being to give up reponsibilty and to be a victim.

    Last point: shunyata. The Dalai Lama always points on emptiness, shunyata, right from the start. Even for beginners, almost every webteaching starts with: understanding emptiness and reciting the Heart-Sutra. Who realises shunyata is immune for any deceiving, inside and outside.
    Shunyata is the healing, is true reality. Always has been. Long before Buddhism appeared…:)
    Lets get beyond this blogg and do some healing…otherwise it is too much effort. So we could go ahead…so good we have Tensin Gyatso.

    • Him,
      I’ve been appreciating the way you think. Actually, this whole dialogue is very good. Perhaps things can change with compassionate dialogue. Have you heard Thich Nhatt Hahn talk of deep listening between groups to diffuse conflict?
      This isn’t just a problem within Rigpa, these are universal problems–power and trust. And the treatment of women. This dialogue about Rigpa is a sign of the times. It shows how much needs to change in the whole world.

      I love the reminder you gave that we can take refuge in divine enlightened beings rather than worldly beings. So good, because it’s easy to lose a sense of refuge when one leaves the group.

    • Hi Him. I lack time to follow the discussion. (Its not only about following the discussion but it needs also time to think and to consider good and back arguments before I can reply.) Will read and pick up your comment highly likely at a later time …

  29. Hi dear Tenpel,
    yes, it is a w.w. issue and is just an example. I call it the wholesome necessary end of all master(y)-man-controlling-man. (Ende aller „Herr“schaft von Menschen über Menschen, it is worldly, it is dust, it is samsara. Must be unchained in this world and inside of us. Cause pure reality is free of it, like the beyond is…like nature of mind is). A part of the path in buddhism is the free discourse, the free contemplation of any issue. It is not blind faith, not blind devotion. But no free discourse is possible in rigpa org. The antidote to this ignorance (not really wanting to know about the thoughts and the feelings of those who feel hurt) is, to confront S.R. and with the diapointments of many, in a mindful way. In written form, video, film ect. of those people who feel a contradiction between words and reality in rigpa and other spiritual orgs and persons. This could cause a healing process and it will be open to S.R. and rigpa too. To express is always a healing. In a mindful, in a personal way. Could help others, to take care of themselves and to benefit from the teachings but not loosing the inner ground. Not loosing pers. responsibility, even in front of a teacher, a master. And to reach their goal inside…again.

    The treasure is in every being. I saw it ( as a volunteer in hospices, to accompany the dying to the estuaries of a life), even the bloom, never heard a word of buddhism, never believed in a god, in golden statues, or what ever…could rediscover, remember that inner intuitviness, the holy certainty in itself. Without using one single buddhist term, without using any religious terms at all. ( i am not a buddhist, but a found dharma the most limitless helpful worldly teaching). The source of all wisdom is, the nature of mind is, pure reality is… in every being entire and safe. Despite all the pain and despair a dying bloom might have, sometimes, in such moments of insight, this place was the most wonderful place of all spheres! It comes from heart to heart and from bloom to bloom, it has always been and long before buddhism appeared. All wisdom is a reminding us. It can happen in one moment, especially for the dying while the inner certainty blossoms…between the worlds, where we all are and all the time. For the dying, a very special opening is possible…beyond belief and religion.

    Any action should be wholesome, soft, mindful and if necessary, mindful thundering. For the benefit of all 7 billion plus…who all are yearning to remember the treasure inside and to free the deceiving chains to this Fire-World. To transform all fears. For the benefit of rigpa and S.R. too.

    We could appeal to all who feel hurt and disappointed: send your expressions and thoughts (in a mindful way) and we will collect and transfer it, saving all privacy if requested, to S.R. and Peolple can make videos (to compile a little film on YouTube), people can write, sing, paint, discuss, what ever…in a personal way and in complete freedom. As long as it is mindful. For pers. healing. Rigpa has to heal itself. To end censoring, to start clarifying and to remember.
    Maybe we all find out something very positive…and go beyond this blogg:)

    • I’m concerned that you are perhaps an ageing hippy, looking at the world through rose coloured spectacles. Maybe I’m too cynical

  30. Hi Tenpel, when you tell people about your meeting with the dzogchen master in H.H., that he was the first master you ever met, not pretending to be the cause for a result, for an insight ect., you imply S.R. would do. But this is completly wrong. He always said it clear, again and again. Have you ever been on a long retreat with him? The blog is full of allegations, i, we can not examine and the tone…is sometimes very unheeding, biased. I know all your remarks about student and teacher, once, a master sent me away, not needing a master. If he was right:) Maybe you, all should take care of what this blog may trigger. The same repeating defaults i refused in rigpa, they are (in a complete other gideline) in all these allegations and sometimes in a very careless tone. Maybe…your inner injury is about to be healed first. Shunyata means…reality mirrors our own perception. If we are biased, we become victims. If we are stable within ourselves, we will not be deceived at all. Thats the reality of Shunyata. So, be carful to heal yourself first and the situation, for your benefit and the benefit of all beings. S.R. is not a devilish person! Maybe sometimes, students are pretty naive☺ and vain. The segregation in good and bad is infantile and simple dualism. No master will carrie us into the enlightened realms. S.R. should learn and clarify in public! Rigpa,org should “tear” down their walls of censoring and pretending. But my compassion is with S.R. as it is with all, with you and with those who feel deeply hurt! Take care…be careful. I felt, the discussions on that blog might go nowhere, i hope not, but…. Best wishes!

    • Him, I don’t know what you’r talking about in your first sentence. And also other parts of your comment I can’t really follow though I understand parts of it. I think you made your points and you said good bye. Best wishes too.

  31. Hi, ja das Englische ist nicht so mein Ding…ich gebe aber ernsthaft zu bedenken: wenn Du von dem einzigen Lama erzählst, den Du kennst, nur einem der nicht behauptet hätte, er wäre der Grund und Auslöser einer Einsicht des Schülers ect., dann deutet das an, S.R. würde diese behaupten. Was er aber nicht tut. Im Gegenteil. Er wies immer wieder drauf hin, dass die Ursache im eigenen Geistesstrom liegt. Das war meine Frage, ob Du je auf einem längeren Retreat warst. Vorsicht, was wir auslösen. Der Ton mancher Beiträge ist unachtsam und gar nicht buddhistisch. S.R. hat echte Fehler gemacht, er ist aber ein tib. Meister und kein böswilliges Wesen. Sonst müsste der Dalai Lama eingreifen. Es scheinen die Diskussionen voller Vorwürfe, die nicht nachprüfbar sind. Was nicht heißt, das sie unwahr sind. Ich wünsche dem Blog, das all das nicht ins Nirgendwo hinführt oder die Sache mehr belastet. Denn Ball der Kommunikation mit Riga und S.R. wird all das sicher nicht ins Spiel bringen. Was ich sehr schade finde. Ich hoffe, all das heilt irgendwann. Mir schien auch, in all dem klingt viel Deiner eigenen Verletzung durch, die ja woanders stattfand. Heilsam wäre, Menschen zu erinnern, wie sie bei sich bleiben. In sich achten und hören. Viele Schüler sah ich, die waren sehr naiv und gleichzeitig auch sehr eitel. Es spiegelt vieles auch die eigene Wahrnehmung. Möge dies einer Heilung nützen.
    Beste Wünsche und viel Glück. Him

    • Ich verstehe die ersten Sätze auch nicht in Deutsch. Die Ursache für was liegt im eigenen Geistesstrom?
      Was ist in manchen Beitragen unachtsam und gar nicht buddhistisch?
      Mit den Frauen seiner Schüler ins Bett zu gehen oder Retreatlerinnen zum Sex zu bedrängen ist unachtsam und gar nicht buddhistisch. Dass es böswillig ist hat keiner behauptet. Es ist unkontrolliert und rücksichtslos. Der Dalai Lama ist nicht der Papst und wird auch nicht eingreifen- das war noch nie seine Aufgabe oder Funktion.
      Ich habe keine Verletzungen, du brauchst da jetzt nicht Küchenpsychologie aus der Ferne zu betreiben. Ich bin sehr zufrieden mit mir und meiner Vergangenheit da ich aus ihr lernte und nunmehr mehr Nutzen als Schaden habe. Leute die mich kennen wissen dass ich weder bitter noch verletzt bin. Ich bin robust.
      Wie sie bei sich bleiben können? Nun, daran erinnere ich gerne: zB in dem man seiner Wahrnehmung und Intuition vertraut und Selbstvertrauen nicht mit manipulierenden Dharma-Erklärungen kaputt machen lässt… dafür ist ja der Blog da. Das Lesen der Erfahrungen von anderen oder von Bewertungen kann sehr dazu beitragen, seinen gesunden Menschenverstand zurück zu holen nachdem manipulative, Machtmissbrauch fördernde Systeme diesen lahm legten.
      Der Schüler ist eitel und alles ist nur seine Wahrnehmung sagst du… Gucken wir uns das am Beispiel und der Perspektive an, wie es 2 seiner Schüler erlebten*: Wenn SR mit meiner Frau Sex hat über Jahre (!) was ist dann bei MIR eitel? Was spiegelt da meine Wahrnehmung? Mein Vertrauen wurde jämmerlichst missbraucht. Ich hab das nicht mitbekommen oder verdrängt. Ok. Aber ist es MEIN Fehler dass er mit meiner Frau schläft? Hab ICH das gemacht? Bin ich eitel weil er mich hintergeht und meine Frau manipulierte?
      Denk doch mal ein bisschen mehr nach und schalte den gesunden Menschenverstand ein. Beste Grüße.
      * So behaupten diese zumindest. Ich sehe keinen Grund dies anzuzweifeln.

  32. Ok, him, auch gerne in deutsch: natürlich ist letztendlich alles leer, und in hundert Jahren kräht absolut niemand mehr nach dir, mir, oder Tenpel oder dharmaanarchist oder diesem blog. Aber zur jetzigen Zeit ist es auch absolut relevant, den Aussagen von Zeugen und Zeuginnen des sexuellen, machtbasierten, finanziellen und spirituellen Missbrauchs eines fast auf allen Ebenen unerreichbaren sogenannten Rinpoches zumindest nachzugehen und sich in einem dafür offenen Blog auszutauschen, kannst du das verstehen? Sobald du als Normalsterblicher sprichst oder dich durch Schrift hier im Blog mitteilst, betrittst du automatisch die dualistische Ebene des Geistes, darüber sind sich hier fast alle einig. Also kein Grund, hier die Leute mit eigenen “glimpses” of shunyata zu beeindrucken. Absolut und Relativ wird gerne mal verwechselt, oftmals, wie man’s gerne braucht. Das tun gerne auch einige Rinpoches, um zB.. Ihre alleinige Verwirklichung zu verteidigen oder die Schüler mit ordentlich Verwirrung unter Zuhilfenahme dieser scheinbaren Extreme an ihre niedrige Stellung im System zu erinnern, Sogyal ist übrigens ein Meister darin. Aber hier im Blog finde ich deine Verweise auf das Absolute recht missionarisch und überflüssig, das Vertrauen darauf, dass hier alle ihr bestes geben, sollte dir doch erstmal reichen. In diesem Sinne noch ein Zitat von Padmasambhava/ Guru Rinpoche , welches Sogyal die letzten 20 Jahre allzuoft und all zu gerne gegeben hat, ohne sich anscheinend daran selbst zu halten: “Obwohl meine Sicht so weit und offen ist wie der Himmel, ist meine Achtung vor Ursache und Wirkung so fein wie Mehlstaub!”. Da du dich hier verabschiedet hast, wünsche ich dir alles Gute auf deinem Weg.

  33. Your Reply: Ich verstehe die ersten Sätze auch nicht in Deutsch. Die Ursache für was liegt im eigenen Geistesstrom? Was ist in manchen Beitragen unachtsam und gar nicht buddhistisch?

    Meine Antwort: Deine Wortwahl (Schulhof, aufgeregt, austeilend nun) z.B.. Wer will beeindrucken? Du selbst? Du bist sehr zufrieden mit Dir, schreibst Du? Wer gibt dauernd Hinweise? Du doch:). Hast Du je an einem längeren Retreat mit S.R. teilgenommen? Es ist wahr, immer hat er betont: aller Segen, alles Erkennen liegt im Geistesstrom des Menschen selbst und nicht in S.R. oder einem anderen Meister! Wer da nicht zuhört, hört nicht zu und träumt. Alle Meister, die vor Schülern anderes behaupten sind Schwindler. Wenn Du berichtest, der Lama in HH war der erste Dir, der dies so ausgedrückt hat, dann deutest Du an, S.R. würde anders behaupten. Also, er wäre ein Schwindler, in diesem Punkt. Da muss man sehr achtsam sein. Okay? An den Aussagen kann man einen wahren Meister erkennen und an der Art, im Klang auch und besonders in einem inneren Echo. Was viele völlig überhören. Darum aber geht es.

    Du beziehst alles was ich sage auf Dich. Warum? Das tue ich nicht. Ich sah viele, auch sehr eitle Schüler und gleichzeitig gar nicht bei sich sein, hemmungslos naiv auch. Typische Gefolgschaft also. Bis sie aus allen Wolken fallen. Aus den eigenen.

    Wenn S.R. Frauen zum Sex bedrängt hat, dann ist das ein großer Fehler und ein großer Fehler ist es, wenn der Dalai Lama das evt. weiß und nicht eingreift! Er ist der “Papst” des tib. Buddhismus. Ein Licht in dieser Welt. Wenn Du, wenn andere auf Deinem Block die Grundsätze des Buddhismus nicht einhalten: z.B. keine No Name Behauptungen, keine Anschuldigungen einfach mit übernehmen (O.R.), sie stehen lassen, achtsame Wortwahl (es gibt keinen einzigen Grund sich zu verstecken, wer schreibt sollte sich zeigen, sonst ist sind beide Seiten gleich…) Mitgefühl, vielleicht auch gegenüber einem „Gegner“ usw., sonst ist das nicht heilsam. Keinem.
    Dann wird alles nur noch mehr „Gestrüpp“, Boulevard manchmal. Das ist schade, sehr schade und liegt auch an der Abschottung von Rigpa und S.R. selbst, wurde so auch mit ausgelöst. Die einzig heilsame Möglichkeit ist, Rigpa /S.R. aufzufordern sich zu stellen. Evt. eine Konferenz zu machen, ein Webstreaming, Berichte der Schüler zu sammeln und sie zu veröffentlichen, zu sprechen, über das Schüler Lehrer Verhältnis und eine evt. mögliche Heilung. Wie es geht einen wahren, einen passenden Lehrer zu erkennen und alles “aus den Wolken fallen” zu heilen. Auf sich zu achten.

    Ich halte mich an das, was ich selbst gesehen, selbst gehört habe. Dazu gehört auch, dass S.R. selbst gesagt hat: er könne alles erzählen, die wenigsten würden wirklich zuhören und er fordere alle auf unique, eigenständig zu sein. So, wie sie wirklich wären. Es gehört auch dazu, dass er Schüler und Rigpa Mitarbeiter (gar nicht buddhistisch) runtergemacht hat und keinerlei Offenheit in einigen Themen war. Zensur war, Fassade auch. Es gehört dazu, das er auch grenzenlos geschenkt hat.

    Mein Eindruck: es liegt ganz an Dir, ob der Blog irgendwo hinführt, etwas Positives auslöst oder nicht. Mein Vorschlag: nach Außen gehen, fordern, sich zu stellen, all das öffentlich (weit über das I Net hinaus) TV, Radio, bis in die spirituelle Szene zu öffnen. Ist doch die ganze spirituelle Szene voller Illusion und Täuscher, auch voller bereitwillig sich täuschen Lassender. Da wäre viel…zu erinnern notwendig. Selbstverantwortung vor allem. Du bist sicher froh, wenn Du meine Statements nicht mehr lesen musst☺ Musst Du ja nicht. Ich wollte diesen Blog doch eh verlassen aus genannten Gründen. Viel Glück aber! Him

    • Hi, Him Weber. I dont want you to extend stay in this blog by commenting and recommenting again.

      But I want to tell you that I have never heard from aside of Rigpa that they are willing to come into an open exchange.

      It is even mor the opposite of exchange. Creating walls of silence……..

      I give you again an example: High ranking Rigpa officials already omitted towards different persons that it is not rumours and allegations and assumptions but facts that Esolf abuses young woman.

      Some satisfy it with some scruptural reasoning, some not. But when I asked some Rigpa officials if they believe for example the story of Mimi and her father leaving Rigpa , more or less most knew of it and that the plan was to cover as much as possible.

      Sofar do I think it was in the hands of Rigpa to be open towards the Sangha and all concerned Dharmapeople instead of building up more walls.

      So I think you adress the wrong people here.

      By they way: I found this youtube video here:

      The person that has translated is well known as Esolfs interpretor in Germany, so I think its the same Him Weber. You do not hide, I respect this very much.

      But please, dont answer me, if you have not to say something

    • Alles Gute Him. Lassen wir das nun mal so stehen. :-)

  34. …die immer wieder zitierten Offiziellen die das Fehlverhalten S.R.s bestätigen, sie sollten endlich ans Licht kommen! Sonst sind sie keine Buddhisten, mitfühlend schon gar nicht. Die Scheuklappen die in Rigpa waren, sie sind auf diesem Blog ähnlich, wenn auch aus ganz anderem Anlass. Alle Berichte sollten sein dürfen. Das ist eine wirklich sinnvolle Tat des Tenpel. Sei sollten aber nicht automatisch als wahr bewertet sein. Wenn Du, Tenpel, sagst: O.R. sei ein “Whistleblower”, ist das eine klare Bewertung. Es kann all das auch ein Marketing gewesen sein und alles andere als eine Heldentat. Ich halte da grundsätzlich Abstand. So wirkt all das sehr negativ auch, leider, ein unsicheres Land auch, ausgelöst, leider durch Rigpa selbst, zuerst. Die Zensur über die Vorkommnisse in Rigpa und das Verhalten danach dort, sie waren eines der traurigsten Erlebnisse mir überhaupt. Was Menschen brauchen, ist ein Weg über all die Hierarchien, über die Vorgaben, über die Religionen und die Machtverhältnisse hinaus um diesen Schatz (Buddhisten nennen es Buddha-Natur), in sich zu erinnern. Er ist in allen Wesen, was ich ja im Hospiz bestätigt sah (was Du Tenpel, überlesen hast) allen zu erinnern möglich und keiner weltlichen, menschlichen Deutung (Buddhismus) ausschließlich. Das ist was nun kommen wird, weil nur das: tatsächliche Wirklichkeit, ohne alle diese negativen Einflüsse ist. Tatsächliche Wirklichkeit, die sich zuerst im Rückzug findet und auch der sterbenden Blüte größtes Sehnen ist, in sich. Die manchmal im Leben wie im Sterben, und von ihr auch ausgesprochen, nichts mehr aus den Tempeln und aus den Gotteshäusern hören möchte. Die Es in sich wieder finden möchte. An diese Menschen, an die ankommenden auch, an alle anderen, an die sollten wir auch denken. Nicht nur an kleinliche Organisationen oder an uns. Die Struktur des tib. Buddhismus befindet sich in einer Sackgasse wenn keine ethische Ordnung durchgesetzt wird. Wenn verhüllt wird, dann ist der Dalai Lama darum zu bitten, aufzufordern, diese Ordnung wieder herzustellen. Was angezeigt werden kann, es sollte angezeigt werden! Dieser Blog und alle sich verletzt Fühlenden, sie sollten endlich in ihrem Namen schreiben und sprechen. Besonders irgendwelche zitierten Offiziellen! Was sind das für Feiglinge? Die gleiche Verbergerei wie in Rigpa, Vorurteile usw.. unachtsamer Ton, ist leider manchmal auch in diesem Blog. Da könntest Du, Tenpel und andere auch, den Satz Padmasambhavas selbst einmal in Dir erinnern. Ich schrieb einmal an Rigpa Berlin das Bild Padmasambhavas abzuhängen, wenn seinen Grundsätzen nicht gefolgt würde. Misstrauen ist ein Krankheit, es ist unwirkliche Staubwelt, Samsara. Viel Glück…und Licht auf diesen Blog auch, der sich auch in eine Art Sackgasse verlaufen hat, mein Eindruck, buddhistische Grundregeln auch manchmal übergeht… viel Glück allen! Him

  35. There was a small protest in Amsterdam…
    Rob Hogendoorn wrote on Facebook

    The Text of the handout reads:

    Literal translation of the flyer in Dutch that was handed out before Sogyal’s public lecture in RAI Amsterdam, 16 November 2016:

    In the name of love, compassion and wisdom, please stop ignoring and tolerating the emotional, sexual, mental abuse and humiliation of women by Sogyal ‘Rinpoche’ and his disciples. This non-spiritual behavior hurts and traumatises on a very deep level. Please wake up and begin acting in a skillful-wholesome way.

    Help stop this! Listen to what’s behind the beautiful words! Keep seeing and feeling with an open heart and mind! Help appreciate what is deep, to help put an end to the wounding of the feminine —also in men.

    Lama Tsültrim Allione, one of the few female Buddhist teachers at this level and a pioneer of the exposure of patriarchal structures within Buddhism, calls the feminine principle of spirituality on a relative level: ‘the sacred feminine’!

    The sacred feminine contains, amongst others:
    a ‘sacred relationship’—with each other and the world;
    a ‘deeper relationship’—appreciation, gratitude, seeing and treating life as sacred; ‘skillful interconnectedness’—mutual dependence;
    ‘sacred sexuality’—most definitely not ‘sex without commitment.

    ‘The sexual aspect of Buddhist tantra, in particular, is subject to a lot of confusion. (…) to practice Buddhist tantra, presupposes a complete control of sexual energy, to transform this energy into wisdom and compassion.’ (website Maitreya Institute)

    ‘Having reached a certain stage in the spiritual practice, an advanced female or male practitioner can look for a suitable tantric partner (supposedly an older, wiser man or woman who practiced for many years). This tantric relation with a secret consort is not practiced at an early stage of practice, when passions are uncontrollable en bewilderment reigns. During sexual tantric practice these energies are harnessed on a subtle level. Because emotions are very powerful, a practitioner using intimate relations for a deepening of awareness prematurely, runs the risk of finding that more of a hindrance than a help’ (according to Tsültrim Allione in ‘Women of Tibet’).

    What about the spiritual and emotional development and example of Sogyal ‘Rinpoche’, who grows older while the age of the interchangeable women closest to him remains the same?

    Indeed, how could these young women—who might have been Sogyals grandchildren—be ‘appropriate’ partners (note the plural) at all if they even have not had enough time for such a sustained and deep practice based on true equality? How could this not raise serious doubt about this man’s spiritual and emotional integrity?

    Likewise, their actual behaviour—much work, much sex—surely points to an imbalance between masculine and feminine aspects. Physiologically speaking the ‘symphaticus’ (Yang)—sympathic nerve system—is to dominant and the ‘parasymphaticus’ (Yin)—parasymphatic nerve system—is to weak, neglected. The balance between them could be restored by replenishing female energy and weakening masculine energy—by giving them rest, for instance. Vipassana (or vipashyana) or the mindfulness of underlying emotions or energies or conditionings could offer deeper insight and liberation, as would a long-term retreat.

    The unconscious acting out of emotions, by (publicly) humiliating others, clearly indicate a lack of compassion and moment by moment awareness, especially when they are hurt in the process— which is an obvious result of such humiliation.

    How are humiliations that happen on purpose, under the pretense of ‘crazy wisdom’, amount to anything else than forgetting and not practicing the intent of the words Sogyal ‘Rinpoche’ repeats so often: ‘Don’t harm others, don’t harm others!’ In those moments, what is the intent behind ignoring two of the five precepts? Does the extent of his pain leave no room for compassion or empathy?

    Obviously, if a person is so out of touch with his consciousness of the heart, he’s lacking in mindfulness of underlying emotions or energies or intentions and vipassana (or vipashyana) and loving kindness. Such a person may need therapy to reconnect skillfully and adequately to his emotions and feelings.

    In other words: ’Wisdom rising’ in stead of ‘crazy wisdom’!
    ‘Compassion implies a ‘yes’, but also a ‘no’, that derive from the same courage of the heart. ‘No’ to abuse, racism and violence—individually, but also on a global level.’ (Jack Kornfield)
    ‘The place to begin is your own heart’ (Jonathan Foust)

    Empathy, compassion in action! Stop supporting this with your money! Stop supporting this with your attention and energy!

    Read ‘Rigpa-directeur weg wegens ‘seksueel, financieel en machtsmisbruik’ Sogyal Rinpoche ‘ door Rob Hogendoorn. View the documentary ‘Sex Scandals in Religion: In the Name of Enlightenment’ (2011).

    Amsterdam, 16 November 2016

    Footnote: Within Rigpa, the third of the five precepts (‘I undertake the training to refrain from sexual misconduct’), has been deleted. Practitioners of other Dzogchen traditions in the West take refuge in all five precepts.

    My comment:
    Just let us be clear, according to one of his former partners it was only about sex and at that time SR did not claim in any way it was about “advanced spiritual tantric practice” or so …

    • These are accounts from two women reported in the Telegraph in the UK back in 1995. They are both describing sexual relationships they allege they had with Sogyal Rinpoche. There is also an explanation from a former student of the pressures that lead to such abuse. The statements corroborate what was alleged in the Janice Doe lawsuit the previous year (November 1994) and also the accounts in the documentary ‘In the name of enlightenment’ and in the blog ‘Behind the Thangkas,’ both of which are easily found on the internet. The Telegraph is one of the leading quality newspapers in the UK and does not make allegations without exhaustive research, although Rigpa is currently claiming in its response to Marion Dapsance’s book ‘ Les dévots du bouddhisme’ that the allegations about Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa are ‘false.’

      Now, this is what the Telegraph reported in 1995.

      One student told the Telegraph Magazine that when Sogyal initiated a sexual relationship with her, she felt she had no choice but to comply.
      ‘It’s a relationship that you haven’t chosen, agreed to or discussed,’ she says. ‘Because he was my spiritual teacher, I trusted that whatever he asked was in my best interests. You’re chosen, which makes you feel special. You want to help the teachings, you want to progress on the spiritual path. By sleeping with the teacher you get a closeness to hime which everyone is hankering after. You want to be a “good student.” It’s a sort of submission.
      ‘I saw it a part of the teachings about the illusory nature of experience and emotions. But in fact it caused me a lot of pain that I wasn’t able to dissolve.’
      Another woman described how Rinpoche would single her out for special attention at retreats and teachings over a period of some two years. ‘While I knew that he had relationships with women, I never thought that he was interested in me in any more that a fatherly way,’ she says. When, at length, Rinpoche made a sexual advance to her she says that she felt ‘confused – surprised, but flattered. I thought that somehow I was special, and that he was choosing me because of my special qualities.
      ‘The few women practitioners that Rinpoche held up as a model were the wives or consorts of great and famous teachers. He made me feel that I had been chosen as his consort. Besides, I had taken him as my guru, and according to the teachings I aspired to see all his actions as those of an enlightened being. I trusted him completely, and trusted that if we had a sexual relationship it would ultimately benefit me.’
      Shortly after the relationship began, however, she was distressed to hear from a friend about three other students with whom Sogyal was having relations at the same time.
      ‘I was surprised and hurt. But then I decided that I had to let go of such “negative emotions” and accept whatever Rinpoche was doing, since he was my teacher.’
      Her understandings of the teachings, she says, did not help her resolve her confusion. But while her doubts grew, she did not feel ‘justified’ in expressing them to Sogyal.
      ‘I told myself that on an absolute level Rinpoche was helping beings and that what I felt was not important. Buddhist practice was the most important and wonderful thing in my life and being this close to a master was said to be an incredible blessing.’
      If the teachings could not help her with her confusion, neither, she says, did the community of practitioners. ‘All of the older students, the people I went to for advice, told me repeatedly that I must “abandon my discriminating mind and use my wisdom mind.” in dealing with Rinpoche,’ she says. ‘Every time I tried to do that I ended up doing what he wanted and feeling bad about it later.’
      She says that although she believed in the teachings and wished to continue with her Buddhist practice, she eventually came to a point where she was unable to continue her sexual relationship with Sogyal. On several occasions, she mad her feelings known, ‘but I began to see that however much he tried, he was incapable of controlling himself. The only way that I could remain in his presence was constantly to refuse to allow him to touch me – which was exhausting and demeaning.’
      Eventually she felt she had no option but to leave Rinpoche and the community altogether: ‘I came to the conclusion that, in effect, Sogyal Rinpoche had used the teachings to attempt to keep me in a sexual relationship with him – one that I did not want to be in. I recognised that I was emotionally wounded, that my self-esteem was low, and that I no longer trusted myself or the spiritual path I had chosen.’
      Another former student talks of the ‘deep distress and confusion’ felt by women students who have had relations with Sogyal Rinpoche. ‘The worst thing you can do is to go against the lama, or speak ill of him. The traditional teachings say that if you disobey the Vajra master’s commands, they you are breaking your spiritual link, harming the master and shortening his life, which would result in endless suffering.
      ‘But within the Vajrayana tradition as it is taught in the West, the master is not accountable to his students, and there is no court of appeal for the students. Some people told me they were too scared to speak out within the organisation about this; and those who attempted to were told it was “their problem”.’
      Telegraph Magazine, February 25, 1995, pages 25-26.

      That is what was reported in 1995, long before the release of the documentary ‘In the name of enlightenment’ and the publication of ‘Les dévots du bouddhisme.’ The allegations are of behaviour over decades. It is time for these allegations to be taken seriously.

  36. Wow, what a load of pure and utter bullish**t. I’ve known Olivier for over 20 years and just wasted 15 minutes of my life reading his puerile drivel. I used to look up to him and now realise he doesn’t know his ass from his elbow. Really shocking that he is purporting to be a ‘buddhist teacher’. This is all about Olivier and his book sales and his HUGE ego – lmao. Well good luck with that monsieur!

  37. “If you have no arguments slander your opponent.” Classical ad hominem and a common cult strategy what you exercise here, CJL.
    Its poor behaviour from YOU.

  38. If Raurich has reverted to his former friendly terms with Sogyal. Why does his personal website refer to him “working with Tibetan meditation masters close to the Dalai Lama” but not to Sogyal? Is he ashamed? Embarrassed? Surely, such phraseology clearly demonstrates a deliberate unwillingness to lead unknowing newcomers down the road to Sogyal?

  39. dharmaanarchist says:

    Honestly, this sentence here

    “I stayed all these years despite my reservations, because I hoped Rigpa would be able to share profound wisdom with the greatest number of people”

    had me personally tripped in that text, because he NEVER gave the slightest impression of someone with reservations. To my observation, he liked his position. Plus, if I’m already long time reserved, I don’t put THAT much of my free time into an organisation, steadily and over decades without anybody noticing that there are second thoughts.

    The part about his own motivation and actions sounds suspiciously like white washing himself. Also, he was in a position where he could have bent/shaped the “party line” to quite some extent (as one of the German main people did for decades) in a direction he personally found suitable, but as far as I have experienced he never showed any signs in that direction. He acted very much like the humble SR devotee, something SR’s first long term German translator, who had a similar position, never did. He was an ex Lama Yeshe disciple, more mahayana than vajrayana oriented, a meditation teacher in his own right and not an obedient character at all. SR didn’t have the slightest problem with Tom Geist or his way of presenting dharma, he is unfortunately dead for a decade now. The “party line” in Rigpa is not exclusively SRs doing at all, a lot of what is going on depends on the head instructors, their personal interpretation and understanding.
    Also, Olivier had every occasion in the world to phase out Rigpa and sneak off to one of the teachers Lerab Ling hosted over the years if he had so many reservations but was still head over heels with the Nyingma lineage. He could have left Rigpa and used his popularity and experience to work with another lama in France, but apparently he didn’t show any inclination in this direction.

  40. Hi dharmaanarchist, after a quick glance on the first two sentences and in lack of time my 2 pennies: not everything Olivier writes is convincing also for me. For instance he says he is fine. But I was not fine after I left my cults because I understood the responsibility I had and how I brought many people into a long term devastating situation. So, if Olivier thinks Rigpa / SR are so harmful or deceptive/abusive of course he must ask himself the question why he didn’t act earlier and what responsibility he has in the whole set up. (He might do this privately, who knows?)

    However, I accept if people deal in their own way with these things and people who leave cults (I don’t say Rigpa is a cult!) are usually experienced as contradicting themselves. Its a rather common sign because usually they were not able to put all the pieces together to give a convincing and consistent explanation. This is one of the reasons why most people can’t cope with people well or take people seriously who left cultlike organisations … It is also a common cult counter tactic to pick up what appears to be an inconsistency in an ex-cult member’s report in order to discredit him or her and to undermine his or her creditability.

  41. joanneclark7 says:

    Rob, also the issue about whether Shugden is real or not is only a white western discussion. For Tibetans, spirits are real. Both Shugden worshippers and non-Shugden worshippers believe in the existence of these, so how relevant is it for a white Western materialist to bring that question into any discussion of the Shugden controversy? It would be like a Western atheist coming into the Sunni-Shia controversy and telling them that Allah doesn’t exist, so what are they fighting about?

    And if you know anything at all about the Dalai Lama’s actions, as you claim, then you would know that at first His Holiness only advised against the practice, saying it was a dangerous practice. But then there was the publication of the Yellow Book. This described all sorts of gruesome outcomes (acted out by Shugden) for those who so much as touched a Nyingma text. And Tibetans were frightened– His Holiness gave a teaching/empowerment in which people stayed away out of fear. So already, he was seeing the sectarian effects of the practice– and that’s when he acted more forcefully.

    So it doesn’t really matter whether there is a “real” spirit or not. The effects of the practice and the threats of Shugden’s wrath were real. The effects are real in my opinion. And for myself, when I read some of the hate-filled writings of Shugden practitioners, when I watch their robotic faces as they demonstrate chanting “Dalai Lama stop lying”– or that hypnotic, giddy tone as they teach “faith faith faith”– or the ruthlessness of such Shugden teachers as Tsem– I don’t need any further proof that the practice itself is dangerous and toxic.

  42. joanneclark7 says:

    Also, Rob, this discussion is leaving out the first person perspective as being valid. Spirits are really only relevant in terms of their effects on the individual’s experience. For example, I myself have had experiences of both divine and malevolent nature. Because I can find no other explanation, I believe that these experiences have been caused by divine and malevolent beings. Of course, because no one else has had my experiences, they are then called “beliefs.” This is the same for any religious practitioner, from a Christian’s born-again experience to a Buddhist entering the first Bhumi (I mean, does everyone hear the ground shake when that happens?).

    In this context, science is now recognizing that in order to fully fathom the workings of the mind/brain/body, we have to incorporate recognition of first person reports. They have to be part of science now. So I think you need to see the Shugden dispute in that perspective as well.

  43. Joanna: So we agree that the topic worth debating is (rabid) sectarianism and its consequences. I also agree that a first person perspective has its own validity—as well as its own limitations. There’s ample room for taking first person perspectives into account, but that doesn’t go to say that subjective experience is the measure of all. Generally speaking, I’m much more interested in a person’s behavior than his or her beliefs. Humans reporting their own motives make notoriously untrustworthy witnesses.

  44. I remember mr. raurich at one of the Last Kirchheim retreats (2005 or 2006?), when he spoke to maybe 500 or 600 People: “we really should understand, that Sogyal Rinpoche is the manifestation of Guru Rinpoche/ Padmasambhava for our times”. And the most of us were so proud and so glad and happy to hear this, because this was another very welcome reminder: we can be so so lucky to be disciples of that unique rinpoche, how great is this?! Mr.Raurich shouldnt forget, that he was a very important part of a very clever system for a long time . So many years later, and in my special case 5 years later after leaving Mr. Two-Face and his cocoon sangha in 2012 inclusive a hard time to reflekt and transform my own naive blindness i hardly can believe, that mr. Raurich is feeling able to leed his own dharma-disciples in a clear and responsibly way short after his spectakular break . Without suitably time of reflecting and checking his own blindness, naivity, blindspots and the results of his work for Rigpa and so on, he is surely going to be another faky,artificial big-ego-lama.(..and don’t forget the millions and millions of mantras, they are working all the time on all levels, isnt it?)… concerning Mr. lakar: I think he is unfortunately too clever and too powerfull and too egomaniac to give up his successful game.

  45. Hi Tickel,
    I agree with you there is a BIG risk – maybe it can be even rather securely prophesied – that someone who was an integral part of a damaging group, if that person does not reflect his role and the causes and conditions that brought him there – which takes a VERY LONG TIME and needs much effort, support and new learning – one might continue with a lot of blind spots, unresolved issues and lack of awareness of one’s own weaknesses that brought one there where one was. Therefore, the person risks highly likely to set up a similar system , finally founding his own “cult” or harmful group. My own techer, who calls herself nowadays “Lama Dechen Chöma Rinpoche” did exactly that and her cult group I see as even more harmful than the NKT because she was able to set up her own group in a way that she can exert an absolute power that not even her own former teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso could exert. Her group is now the biggest monastic group in Germany and a fully fledged cult.

    Getting aware of these risks gradually after I left my cult, I took a long time to do these analyses and self-reflections. I can only recommend to do that.

    I think Mr Lakar has gone beyond a mode where he can be stopped, including his students, only a prison sentence based on our Western laws could stop him, I think.

  46. This is the first I am hearing about Lama Dechen Chöma Rinpoche. Nor did I know that you considered her one of your teachers at some point early on after leaving the NKT. I did some sleuthing on the Web and found an excellent background article written by you from 2008 ( Aside from all the political intrigue, etc., it really underlines how extremely difficult and challenging it is to truly free yourself from a cult. One can erroneously think they are finally free, only to find that they have managed to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. Once again, your own personal story is invaluable for those who have cleared the first hurdle by leaving their own cult but who may not realize that there is likely more work to be done to sever oneself entirely.

  47. Ha, you might hear more from her in the future ;-) I heard she wants to expand outside of Germany. She started to let translate her books. Here is a link to her catalogue: She could be compared with the „Domo Geshe Rinpoche“ (Marjorie Mrs. Quinn-Dadak).

    Dechen (in NKT she was Gen Kelsang Dechen, her mundane mane is Carola Däumichen) was kicked out from the NKT by Kelsang Gyatso personally. But how he did that was so non-dharmic, that – believing I go to hell when I leave a teacher – I had to decide either to follow Kelsang or Dechen. Dechen was the less worse option. But I didn’t have the strength to leave two lamas at once. I was just too brain washed with these distorted and less nuanced and poisoned (mixed with greed for power, reverence, praise, worship etc) guru-Buddha Vajrayana approach. Then Gangchen Lama and Kundeling Lama (the fake Kundeling, nga-lama) supported her and claimed she is a good teacher and should continue. Dagom Rinpoche wrote even a long live prayer for her, writing she would be pure like a white snow mountain or so. I mean, that is not a good setup to question her too. At the end it was like a double nightmare. You have a nightmare and think you wake up (feeling relieved) – this was when I left Kelsang. But it took me 2 further years to realise that in didn’t woke up but was just in another, a second nightmare, a nightmare in a nightmare.

    As if this were not bad enough, I almost followed Michael Roach – but luckily Alex Berzin saved me from this by informing me early (before most realised) that he had gone astray.

    Thank you also for your support and encouragement.

  48. BTW, Jigie, I had different times suicidal thoughts when I was in the groups. Nothing like this happened since leaving the groups (NKT+Dechen) …


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