I too was in Rigpa for a long time and had different experiences, also difficult ones that were similar to some of the things already expressed in this blog. That was more by witnessing what he said and did to others or in some of the teachings or what others had to endure in Rigpa than my own experiences. But the doubts and irritations that derived from that were the same as if those things would have happened to me.
(I can say that to me personally he always was very polite and friendly in the few encounters we had. He seemed to completely ignore any misbehaving, which also occurred, but clearly showed his appreciation when I was in alignment with myself. And even one time when he corrected me he did it in a friendly and welcoming way so I didn’t feel bad about myself, but rather uplifted.)
During that time of struggle Tenzin Peljor really helped me a lot by being there for me and providing a space, where I was able to process my experiences. And also I read this page back and forth, which was tremendously helpful for me as well to come to terms with my doubts and perceptions. At the end it turned out to be really a maturation and awakening process for me, where I could see, that I was the one, who has given my power and discernment away to the lama (S.R.) and I finally could take it back – I hope for good this time… It seems like many people are going through similar processes in these times of change.
The most important aspect in this process was to become aware, that at the beginning it was MY OWN experience, intuition, choice and responsibility to choose S.R. as my teacher. At that moment there was no notion of “crazy-wisdom-master”, no “you get to vajra-hell, if you leave the master”, no “if -you-don’t-go-to-the-tsok-that’s-negative-karma”, no “samaya-breaking”, nothing. It was just pure experience, gratitude, beginners-mind, great dreams, expansion, surrender, joy, trust, presence.
But at one point in time that wasn’t enough. There came a moment, when I – out of an inner feeling of insecurity and fear – wanted to find some tangible security according to the pattern: “Your master knows better than you. And if you follow certain rules, you are safe and you don’t get to hell, you come out of suffering; you are out of risk, etc.” I just wanted to play it safe and was grasping to those rules that were meant to give that security. And that’s “pure ego, and it get’s purer and purer und purer” – as one teacher of mine once jokingly said.
(I think, there is no shortcut to enlightenment and no alternative to taking a risk by relying on and trusting your own judgment and at the same time be honest with yourself, be aware and willing to learn and change.)
Of cause all that was triggered by some of the teachings we got, certain statements in the KLS. But then – like new research has shown – there is a kind of a “loop” between certain centers in the brain and the hormonal centers in the body. And therefore as Joe Dispenza put’s it “you can only accept, believe and surrender without analysis to those thoughts that are equal to how you feel”. And: “If you were truly in a different state of being, that (negative) statement or comment wouldn’t make its way past your brain-stem into your body.”
And back to S.R.
I know others that have chosen to focus on those parts of the teachings, where he speaks about the importance of self-love, of love for others, care, of non-judging, forgiveness and the illusory nature of reality and even said things like “You are your own master.” Or: “If you think, S.R. is angry with me – THAT is just a THOUGHT. And if you think: S.R. is happy with me – THAT is just a THOUGHT.” And he invited Jetsün Khandro for teachings, where last year she said things like: “You are holding on to the outer Lama way to long and it’s time to – on the basis of gratitude – move from the outer Lama to the Inner Lama.” And even after that teaching he invited her again and showed much appreciation for her.
During my process I also went through a phase of accusation, grief and anger, and this was helpful to become aware and to accept and to allow myself to feel these emotions to find the strength and decisiveness for the separation and cutting through some belief-systems I had adopted, that were not helpful for me. And a friend of mine went through a similar process.
The purpose of becoming aware of what one doesn’t agree with, for me is to find trust in myself and my own perception, to become clear on what I don’t want and thereby becoming clear of what my true values are and what I really do want.
But ultimately I know that I cannot blame what I went through on anybody, not on Sogyal Rinpoche or anyone in Rigpa, because in that case I would turn myself into a victim. They just mirrored my patterns and gave me an opportunity to learn this important lesson.
What good is faith without discernment? Is it even possible? Who else decides what path to take or what to have faith in? … We do…. The Buddha recognized our basic instinct for happiness as the seed of discerning intelligence.
– Elisabeth Mattis Namgyel: “The power of an open question”
As research also has shown, especially at the Heartmath-Institute negative emotions like anger and resentment are really detrimental to the body and create very incohearent patterns, whereas only 10 minutes of gratitude can boost the immune-system for 7 hours. It’s more effective than a flue-shot.
I also like that statement of Wayne Dyer when he forgave his father: “He did what he knew how to do best. And you cannot expect anything more of anybody. From now on I only send him love.”
As to my observation, Sogyal Rinpoche is positive for many people at least for a certain time.
And I know he has a deep and heart-felt commitment to spreading the Dharma and to his Masters, and he is undertaking tremendous efforts to perform this. It’s probably not always fun to sit there and give teachings. I wouldn’t want to do this for anything in the world ;-)
For many years my time in Rigpa was a time of growth, expansion and syncronicities. Shortly after I joined Sogyal Rinpoche, p.e. at first my job-situation deteriorated, and I couldn’t stay there anymore. But then I got the job that I always wanted without having to do much for it. It was somehow presented to me on a silver-plate. And I witnessed a similar process with other people. I had great dreams, experiences and insights, found new friends. And without him I would not have had the inspiration to go to Dharamsala and Tibet, which were great and very valuable experiences for me.
In the last years it became more difficult and signs became clear to me that my time in Rigpa was ending. The gap between my life and Rigpa became bigger, and the processes I went through were no longer in alignment with Rigpa. And I could only partly communicate about them with a few people in Rigpa.
Since then I have began to study the new and amazing research on the brain and the mind and also epigenetic done by geniuses like Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, the Heartmath-Institut and the practices on that basis developed by Dr. Joe Dispenza, the real meaning and significance of Dharma, esp. Vajrayana, became much clearer to me. It’s really fascinating and I feel like this is the next much needed step in implementing the Dharma to the West. And HH Dalai Lama once again showed his wisdom and foreseeing by recognizing the importance of that at a very early point in time. These are tools that were not available to Buddhist teachers in earlier time. And they open the doors to a whole new understanding as well as new possibilities of development. Actually that scientific approach is not alien to the Buddhist teachings. To my understanding counting prostrations or accumulations in the Ngöndro is already an attempt of measuring spiritual commitment and progress and by that giving you feedback. And the feedback-tools that exist today (like brainscans or HRV-measurements, etc.) are just much more precise.
All together I feel grateful to have both, these new revelations as well as the deep grounding in the traditional Buddhist teachings – thanks to Sogyal Rinpoche – and that helps me a great deal to stay in balance.
As an inspiration for those who have experienced trauma, but also for others, I insert a link to a video on YouTube (actually an audio), that I felt was so inspiring and eye-opening in relation to how to deal with trauma and PTSD, that I wanted to share it with you:
In this video Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about PTSD and how to overcome it, and especially the story starting at minute 27 was really mind blowing for me and moved me to tears. This part is only 2 – 3 minutes.
I hope this is of benefit for many people.
I now also want to express my gratitude to Tenzin Peljor for all his help and his great motivation and skillful way to help those people that go through difficult times in Buddhist groups. As well as to provide unbiased information for people so they make more clear and informed decisions, if they join a group.
For me, if those information’s would have been available 20 years ago, I probably still would have made the same decision to join Sogyal Rinpoche, because he was in alignment with me and my karma and therefore touched me more than other – even maybe more evolved – lamas. But I would have been more aware and conscious and trust myself more in that process.
The challenge for all of us, who leave a Teacher, in whom they have put trust and devotion, is to find a new way to live those qualities, to find a true spiritual grounding and the trust in something greater than our ego. Otherwise there is a danger to get lost in depression and meaninglessness.
All the best