“Lock the door.” – I was devoted to a great Buddhist master, and then I quit.

by Mimi, former Dakini

Sogyal Rinpoche is a Tibetan Buddhist master supported by the Dalai Lama. He is the author of the best-selling “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.” He heads the Rigpa Association, a network of centres spreading the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism throughout the world. Mimi’s experience at his side has been partly retold in the anthropologist Marion Dapsance’s investigative book, “The Devout Buddhists” (Max Milot). In this article, Mimi complements the description contained in the book with a more personal account.

Buddhism, as it is taught in Europe, conveys the teaching that we are all able to create an ideal society, perfectly just and compassionate. That we must free ourselves from the capitalist machinery that has separated us from our true nature, which is fundamentally good. Adolescence can nourish the desire to deeply live such an ideal. At least that was the case for me.

When I was 14 years old, my father became a disciple of the great Buddhist master Sogyal Rinpoche. I accompanied my father to retreats to spend time with him. That made him happy. After a few years, during a retreat in Germany, Sogyal Rinpoche noticed me and asked me to come see him. He declared that I had good karma and that I could get intimate access to him directly.

Every night for a week, he invited me into his room to massage his hands while he watched TV. I didn’t refuse; his inner entourage let it be known that his speaking to me was a privilege, an opportunity to touch this incarnation of the divine.

My father was proud, and I knew that I was making him extremely happy. The image that I had of the master was heightened by his own. At the end of the retreat, as the master was getting into his sedan, he gave me his schedule for the coming year and said to me:

You can come find me wherever you want. I would like to see you. I will be teaching in Australia for a while.

I was 22 years old at the time.

Girls followed him everywhere

I met up with him and was received like a princess. Sogyal Rinpoche had rented some vacation houses by the ocean. The place was deserted; I spent my days at the beach. I participated in the prayers without being too eager. I saw the master only for a few hours a day during the meals. He was accompanied by two men, his chauffeurs, and maybe eight women whom we called dakinis. These women are supposed to help the master have revelations. They followed him everywhere. It was at this time that I also discovered his first fits of rage. I was sharing a house a little distance away with one of the girls. She had a child. I thought the master was the father.

During this retreat, my boyfriend sent me flowers for Valentine’s Day. The girls jumped on me, saying

Whatever you do, don’t say that a boy sent you these flowers! Offer them to the master, he will think they were for him.

That night, he organised a Valentine’s Day dinner. The two chauffeurs were not invited. He was alone with us, the girls. I thought that was strange, but I felt relatively free. There was nothing at stake: my father had paid for my airfare and so I had maintained my financial independence from him. I could leave whenever I wanted.

mimi

Mimi. Screenshot from the documentary »In the Name of Enlightenment – Sex Scandal in Religion«

24-hour devotion

Everything changed a few months later, when I lost my grandmother. Her death came as a shock and I fell ill. Sogyal Rinpoche came to visit me at my mother’s, accompanied by three girls. I had just caught rubella for the second time and had been bedridden for three weeks. He invited me to spend the whole summer at his side at the centre in Lérab Ling, in l’Herault, to receive his teachings in person. I accepted.

As soon as I arrived, everything went very quickly. It usually took other dakinis several years to reach the position that I was given that summer. After a few weeks, I found myself supervising the entire team of girls. He assigned me the walkie-talkies and mobile phones, and I ended up being at his side 24 hours a day.

I accompanied him everywhere, except when he was teaching. At those times, I had to organise the cleaning of his rooms, get his clothes washed, arrange his papers and his cabinets, order his meals and reserve his transportation, prepare his bags, fulfill his lists of demands …

I was exhausted but I was passing the tests. His demands became more and more excessive, but I didn’t say anything. The rule was that one had to be devoted in order to achieve enlightenment. Most of all, I think the fact that I didn’t have time to reflect gave me emotional relief. I was in mourning, and I thought that these responsibilities were helping me keep my mind on more important things. But in fact I was extinguishing myself.

“Lock the door!”

The first time we touched sexually, I was cut off from a certain consciousness of myself. He told me to  lock the door. There was a whole delegation waiting in the cars. The only ones missing were him and me.

I had been sleeping very little for two months. I had gotten used to being abused by demands and words. We accepted everything. I no longer listened. I did what I had to do, no longer asking any questions. I was running on the adrenaline of constant desperation and fatigue. After the first sexual relations, he made very explicit threats, prohibiting me from talking about it to anyone.

All the dakinis knew about it, but we were not allowed to bring it up. And yet we covered for each other in monitoring the house when one of us entered the master’s room. Nobody was allowed to approach. The older the girls got, the more they sensed that the end was near. They got anxious.

Loyalty to the group

At the end of the summer, I had a period of amenorrhea and feared I might be pregnant. I talked about it to a disciple who was a doctor. Since I was the girl closest to Sogyal Rinpoche, it was impossible for me to have had any other relations. This doctor ordered a blood sample without asking a single question. In the Rigpa centres, loyalty to the group trumped everything else.

And yet, the community consisted of people who were often educated: doctors, magistrates, lawyers, businessmen or pilots … Buddhist masters don’t go looking for Tibetans living in India on three dollars, but rather for white people with money, in the West.

The adults submerged in this environment have to readapt reality in order to survive. They talk of compassion all day long while witnessing public humiliations. They question and repress every form of instinct or feeling. They share a common resentment and anger at living a life of unresolved deceptions. In order to ease this frustration, the master encourages them to eliminate their empathy for their families and immediate friends. And he then fills that void with a different form of compassion, for a state of humanity reduced to a concept: abstract and distant.

I thought I would die

I distanced myself very progressively from the group, by making excuses. I think that the rupturing process was confirmed to me once I started taking singing lessons. A singer had heard me and decided to give me free lessons once a month. She called me and insisted that I come. I thus started to relive my emotions.

For several years I had been incapable of admitting what had happened. It took the fact that my dreams and my health were being taken over for me to react. I was having nightmares every night, and I started getting asthma and fevers. I thought I would die if I kept all of this to myself.

On a whim, I went to London at the master’s invitation. One of his chauffeurs came to pick me up, and I asked him,

You know very well that all the girls sleep with him. Do you think that’s normal?

He replied,

You would all be prostitutes and drug addicts if you hadn’t found this master. Consider yourself lucky, you have nothing to be angry at him for.

This reaction reassured me that I was making the right decision. When I arrived, I offered the master a drawing that I had made the night before. I had drawn him in the centre, with me on top of him in the lotus position. All around us, in a circle, I had written the names of each of the dakinis. He understood right away and asked me if I wanted money. I left.

The real rage behind the false compassion

My departure started a panic. The power is in the group, not the master. Sogyal Rinpoche is neither cultured nor particularly intelligent. What he does have is hundreds of thousands of people who allow him to assert his sovereignty. I am not even sure that he himself believes what he says. He repeats what the people need to hear.

All of sudden the group was afraid of being called into question, of revealing itself. That the world might realise that these disciples spend all day prostrating themselves and kissing the feet of a master who never went to school, and who strolls around with a bunch of glamour girls that he humiliates. That people might notice all the rage that actually drives this community – behind a front of compassion.

For a long time, I thought that I was alone in being crazy. How was it possible that so many people around the world so adored Sogyal Rinpoche, and that I was the only one disgusted by his presence?

The threats that I received after leaving reassured me: I was doing the right thing.

Public humiliation

It is possible that, in a somewhat twisted way, Sogyal Rinpoche might have been in love; I don’t know. Even if he trapped me, even if only his pleasure mattered. I don’t know how he felt – or still feels – in such situations. I think he can get attached, because he is extremely isolated emotionally.

In any case, he was able to establish a form of confidence and emotional rapport with us, which enabled him to constantly abuse us, both physically and psychologically.

Sogyal Rinpoche beats the dakinis and proudly shows off their scars. The humiliations always occurred in public. I remember one time when we were grouped around him in his private garden. One of the girls was raking leaves. She was moving slowly, a bit like a Brazilian girl. He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her along the ground, before throwing her against the wall to punish her for having “too much ego”.

An incestuous relationship

In my case, and certainly that of the other dakinis, our relationships to our fathers were difficult. They handed us over to a man with the idea that we could do everything for him, and that we should do everything for him. My father was happy that I had a privileged relationship to this older and more authoritarian master. He knew that I was isolated, that we slept in the same room, but he didn’t ask any questions. He didn’t warn me: “be careful …”

Today I have severed the ties to my father. I think he takes me for a fool, someone who is too emotional. He thinks that the master’s only mistake was to not have sufficiently taught me about “crazy wisdom” (the idea that the master’s very craziness makes him a sage, freed from social constraints). 

I have no faith in justice

I didn’t want to attack Sogyal Rinpoche through the courts. One of his dakinis did so in California several years ago. She still regrets it to this day. It destroyed her marriage and her family; she had to restart from scratch. I also have no faith in the justice system. My testimony never sparked any legal proceedings. As for Marion Dapsance, author of Buddhist Devotees,* she sent a file several times to the governmental anti-cult agency Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires (Miviludes). They never responded.

If Sogyal Rinpoche no longer existed, someone else would take his place. This face of Buddhism seems really difficult for some people to accept. Many will continue not to believe it. They will think that it was I who betrayed the master, that I can be bought. On the other hand, if one of them does start to doubt, she might realise that she is not alone: that other information is available and circulating.

A former centre director (who also, like many other top Rigpa officials and stars, benefitted from numerous privileges during his tenure, including, for some, rights to sex) has, this year, unexpectedly turned against Sogyal Rinpoche,** and explicitly admitted the effects of the psychological control and violence that the latter subjected his entourage to, most notably the women. He also denounced the sexual favours and a type of domination that uses infantilisation.

Cruel, bad, torturous

The most important thing for me, today, is not having betrayed myself. These events have left me with the feeling that the inner balance within each of us is fragile. That we have to always be vigilant, to leave no place for doubts, and to especially avoid delegating the responsibility for dispelling them to other people.

It is a very real feeling for me. In every person I meet, I now see someone capable of becoming cruel, bad, even torturous, depending on his capacity to accept who he is emotionally and his need to be accepted by a group.

I see the best and the worst, in the choices to resign or love oneself.

Interview by Julia Mourri

line-gothic

Originally published on le Plus de l’Obs “Ferme la porte à clés.” J’ai été dévouée à un grand maître bouddhiste, avant de m’enfuir, 06.11.2016. English translation by Christopher Hamacher.

* English translation here.
** English translation here.

Comments

  1. A powerful and insightful account. Thank you Mimi for having the courage to speak out – may your words protect others from the abuse of this disgusting, abusive, narcissistic total fraud. Personally I have no interest left in following or studyingTibetan Buddhism as a supposed “spiritual path”. The fact that the Dalai Lama continues to allow his name to be associated with this creep, continues to allow Rigpa to lay claim to his guidance and patronage, to refuse to condemn his behaviour and the spiritual corruption at the centre of his organisation, supposedly to protect the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism(?) beggars belief for me and has had the opposite effect. Nowadays I have turned instead to the teachings of Advaita Vedanta and non-dualism. For me the Advaita teachings, as expounded by modern teachers like Rupert Spira, are a form of secular spirituality which offers real insight and is quite devoid of all the mumbo-jumbo, devotional religiosity, guru-worshiping, “crazy wisdom” claptrap, so prevalent in the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.

    • Hi Laughing Daquini. Thank you for your comment. I agree with your bravo for Mimi and also I share your feelings of disgust.

      I think the Dalai Lama has not so much power to prevent that his name is being abused. It has been abused so often without that he intervened, also when people wrongly claimed they had met him and had sex with him like the confused lady from VICE: http://shanghaiist.com/2015/10/17/broadly_vice_dalai_lama_fail.php

      There is a post here on the blog that might help to understand his restrain or to get a broader perspective on it: The Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche: A Roaring Silence?

      The Dalai Lama is often misconceived as the pope of Buddhism or the pope of Tibetan Buddhism, but he is not. He is not even the head of any particular Tibetan Buddhist school – though on the other hand he is the highest spiritual authority of the Tibetan people. He can’t intervene with the affairs that relate to other traditions. He intervened in his own school the Gelugpas after he was asked for advise about Shugden worship and his recommendations and subsequent actions by others have stirred a great turmoil …

      Moreover, that Sogyal became so prominent in the West, riding in the shadow of the Dalai Lama, has more to do with the skills of Rigpa or SR. According to a source I trust, The Office of the Dalai Lama, has never ever asked SR to teach when HH the Dalai Lama taught in the West. SR and Rigpa managed over years to make Sogyal part of events where HH the Dalai Lama taught in the West. But the Office of HHDL never ever invited Sogyal to do that! So they skilfully used the good reputation of HHDL to brand SR in his shadow.

      That HH the Dalai Lama went to the inauguration of Lerab Ling might have to do more with his role as a representative of the Tibetan people and Tibetan Buddhism than seeing it as siding with SR. However, if you ask me, I would have preferred he had denied to go there. In general HHDL is the most outspoken critic among the Tibetan religious establishment when it comes to degeneration within Tibetan Buddhism. But he rarely mentions any individual whom he criticises. He has not done this even with Kelsang Gyatso of the NKT who run profilic and highly effective international character assassination campaigns against him. For years I’ve looked for any critic by the Dalai Lama against KG which I could quote but there was none – ZERO! So, it looks like, its not very much the style of the Dalai Lama to criticise individuals (in public) but rather to give general statements about signs of degenerations and this he does usually very strongly. So I think, its rather a matter of style / dharma practice / diplomacy that HH the Dalai Lama seems to have a general restrain to criticise others in public and that he rather focuses in others qualities – you can see this also with George Bush or Shoko Ashara and others. While the world is furious with wrong behaviour and tends to condemn people the Dalai Lama has a strong tendency to says something good about such people. He did this recently even with Trump: Dalai Lama has ‘no worries’ about President-elect Donald Trump.

      I am a fan of trying to understand the other side before I make judgements. I think to claim, that HH the Dalai Lama doesn’t condemn SR’s behaviour in public is based on a wish to protect the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism is not a very good judgment or understanding because it has been always the character of HHDL to restrain from publicly criticising people. Then there is also the difference between the Western way and the Asian way of dealing with scandals, one being more focused on the well being of the individual and the other being more focused on the well being of the group/majority. There are more factors that play a role here.

      I don’t want to defend HH the Dalai Lama but I think a fair judgment must start from understanding his background and possible motives and values as good as possible.

      BTW, is Rigpa under the guidance and patronage of HH the Dalai Lama? I think not. If yes, this would be indeed a problem.

      I think the article gives the impression that it is standard in Tibetan Buddhism that tertons (treasury finders) need “female energy” to find termas (treasures) but I think this is an invention by Rigpa/SR, a narrative they set up to justify the widespread abuse. The ladies are no real dakinis, and SR just consumes them for sex. In the past this narrative was nonexistent, e.g. a lady who was SR consort for years wrote me that it was ALWAYS about plain sex, nothing spiritual at all.

      I know a lama who has a dakini. This dakini was pointed out to him by Dujom Rinpoche. The yogi (who meditated 17 years in caves with 2 hours sleep at night and 1 meal a day) didn’t chose just young and pretty girls as his desires told him. Nor did he create a harem. Moreover, the lady and he married. The yogi speaks also of highest respect of her and would not abuse her as a servant or shout, ridicule or humiliate her in any way. This dakini has (as he himself too) healing power and extraordinary siddhis (realisations). He never spoke of her in any other way other than deepest respect. Interestingly, when the yogi made some grave faults, the Dakini scolded him and left him. He was so shocked that again he went into retreat.

      I am happy that you’ve found something very deep and profound outside of Tibetan Buddhism!

      Guru devotion and faith make a lot of sense when properly understood and applied. The same is true for “crazy wisdom”. But both are very dangerous when applied to an unsuitable object of devotion or when there is no real qualification that makes the use of it really beneficial.

      With respect to “crazy wisdom”: if a teacher is really free of the coarsest aspects of the ego and has attained a high degree of mental freedom going along with great compassion, if he has skill in means and profund realisations as well as the capacity / ability to understand thoroughly the mind of his or her student, an unconventional means, well intended, well performed might shock initially the student to the core but very quickly there is a deeper understanding and learning process within the student which really feels as a deep ease and clarity / insight. Having got clear of some deeper mental blockages or patterns the student might even attain profound realisations (see the case of Patrul Rinpoche for instance). This sane and compassionate “crazy wisdom” exists and I met and I know people who have benefited from it (Chime Rigzin Rinpoche was the master who performed it). There has never ever been a slightest irritation or harm in the long run when he performed “crazy wisdom” according to all the stories I heard (the same is true for the late Geshe Jampa Gyatso in Italy). All those people I spoke with had only benefit from it. (I can tell you many stories but keep it brief here.)

      This is very very dissimilar to the rude, bullying and harmful, exploitative and abusive behaviour of SR which has created trauma, deepest pain and putting people off from Buddhism and religion or undermined their faith in even genuine masters or Buddhism at all. This abusive and harmful behaviour is justified by SR and Rigpa as “crazy wisdom” but it is not. The effects show its not “crazy wisdom” because so many men and women have been harmed in the long run.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      Mmh, and Catholic church is to be condemned because there are some priests who sexually exploit young boys, and Islam is to be condemned because some extremists use their religion to justifie killing people?

      But you think that in Advaita Vedanta every member of the clergy behaves saintly????????

      Ah, I see a severe case of wishful thinking…..

      I could without problem name ten Tibetan buddhist teachers who teach in the west who do not exploit anyone and teach genuine buddhist teachings. The one I got attached to after phasing out Rigpa spent 20 years in a Chinese labour camp and nearly died there because he shared the little food he got with the other inmates. So much so your claim that Tibetan buddhism as a whole is oh so horrible…

      • Hi Dharmaanarchist. It feels a bit that you are somewhat frustrated with this comment/ respond.

        Personally, I would leave it to laughing daquini how s/he deals with that. Everyone has his own way to deal with disappointment. I think, the response is rather natural and many seem to think and act that way.

        I am rather noticing it, feeling sad but I can also understand it. I remember a highly intelligent person, a writer, who gave up religion altogether after the NKT and Shugden experiences. He reported for BBC about it.

        I agree there are still many genuine Tibetan Buddhist teachers. This is the reason why I am still following the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

      • It’s not just the abuse prevalent among certain Catholic priests and so-called Buddhist “masters” that turns me off both – it’s their hierarchichal religiosity, period. It was funny when my ex-Catholic mother came to visit me at Madhyamaka Centre, she was quite shocked by all the “idolatry” and deity-worship aspects of Buddhism. She, like me, had thought of Buddhism as more of a philosophy than a religion. But with regard to Tibetan Buddhism, at least, this is not so. It is very much a religion – an organised religion, and like any other organised religion it has so many problems and aspects to it that I find intolerable to the point of revulsion, that I don’t think I want nothing more to do with studying or practising it. Sorry if that offends anyone. Each to their own.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          Erm, also not true. It’s pretty much individual. I could name you enough Tibetan buddhist teachers who are not into any hierarchical games at all.

          No, Tibetan buddhism is not an organised religion. It’s not centralised, every teacher can pass the teachings on in the style he or she prefers. There is no pope-like figure as a highest authority in content or way of transmission of the teachings.

          So what is intolerable up to revulsion about how Garchen Rinpoche, Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, Tulku Pema Wangyal or Tsoknyi Rinpoche run their organisations/teach dharma. Please tell me what exactly about these teachers, their behaviour or teachings you find offensive or revulsive!

          • What is it with you that you have to make this about me being wrong? I’m not trying to prove anything. I am entitled to an opinion, an impression based on my own experience and observation. You, on the other hand, have no right to declare my experience and opinion invalid or “not true” just because you disagree with me.

            The Pope and the Dalai Lama are indeed comparable in status in their brands of organised religion – both are revered as ultimate authorities by followers of the religions for whom they serve as figureheads. The fact that their powers and functions are not EXACTLY the same, makes no difference to their symbolic similarity. Furthermore, the very premiss in Tibetan Buddhism laid down as necessary in the progress of the spiritual seeker to devote themselces to a spiritual guide,
            as per the doctrine of samaya, makes it very easy indeed for the unscrupulous “guru” to abuse the vulnerable and the naive within the framwwork of Buddhism as taught in the Tibetan traditions.

            • very briefly, though I agree with you with that’s totally up to you how you judge and organise your own spiritual path, its in my view totally misleading to compare the DL with the pope. The DL has not the authority as the pope BUT he is highly revered and hold in esteem and formally he is the spiritual head of all Tibetans BUT the real heads are the heads of the respective Tibetan Buddhist traditions. The DL cannot interfere with their business. With respect to his own school, the Gelugpas, he has more power because he approves the Ganden Tripa – the head of the Gelug school. But the Ganden Tripa is suggested by the Gelug monasteries themselves.
              With respect to the Samaya-absue, this can only happen with people who are not well educated. It cannot happen that easily (if at all?) with Tibetans. They don’t buy in because they know the Dharma. Do you remember what Kelsang Gyatso got as a reply when he wanted to manipulate the Tibetan translator Tenzing Wangdak?

              Anyhow, I kept cool and retaliated with the following answer, “If a disciple can not comply with the words of his lama, he can tell this politely to his teacher.” I cited the 24th stanza from the text of Ashavagosha, Fifty stanzas of Guru yoga”.

              “Intelligent disciple, with joyful mind,
              Listen the lama’s words with enthusiasm.
              Explain to him in words
              If you can´t comply with it.”

              For a moment, silence reigned in the room and I took the opportunity to end the conversation with the following comforting words…

              • Thank you Tenpel for explaining the difference between the Pope and DL’s roles and powers. I know that the Pope and the DL have very different formal power roles in their respective religions, but my point remains that SYMBOLICALLY they are not so different: the average Tibetan Buddhist reveres the leadership, words and authority of the Dalai Lama in much the same way as the average Catholic reveres their Pope.

                • They revere him. That’s true. But rarely they heed his advice. Tibetans and western observers stressed this contradiction. Don’t know how it is with the pope. However, the fundamental key difference matters very very much in this case. The pope can name or send / approve cardinals or priests and he can excommunicate them or withdraw his approval or remove them from their positions or jobs (I don’t know the exact Catholic Church terminology for these actions/governing powers), so the pope has tremendous real power in church matters!!! The Dalai Lama can’t do that at all. He can deny to approve a suggested head of his own school (only his school!!!), he has the power to approve a head (Ganden Tripa) he feels he is right. But he can’t kick him out later, when he is misbehaving. So in fact, his power regarding (misbehaving) clergy is totally different to that of the pope. As far as I can see and understand it, any comparison pope-Dalai Lama in the context of power abuse of Tibetan lamas invokes misleading concepts and will lead to poor or misleading judgements that don’t empower to understand but lead one away from a sober understanding which is a basis for good criticism or good judgements.

                  • dharmaanarchist says:

                    Plus the lineages and sub lineages have very little business with each other. Karma Kagyu and Drikung Kagyu operate totally independent from one another, the Nyingma lineages of the various terma traditions intermingle a bit more, the head of the Nyingmapa is chosen by the main lineage holders when the previous one has died or resigned the position.

                    HHDL is holding a lot of Nyingma teachings and is transmitting them, as he is holding techings from all 4 lineages, but he has no doctrinal authority over the various lineage holders.

                    The fact that he is unable to interfere with “bad apple” teachers in the various Tib. buddhist traditions is proof that he does not have any central authority over doctrin, individual teacher’s behaviour or personnel decisions in groups.

                    That people revere him, that’s a very much individual decision of all the individual people who do so. I live in a free country, I can choose to revere whoever I want.

                • Having spent my life in the four traditions at various periods, I can assure you that there are plenty of Tibetan Buddhists in the west who DONT consider HHDL as head man, indeed some consider him to be simply a senior monk in another sect ( or worse!) while I personally hold him in the highest esteem, I respect the right of others to hold their views regarding him. He is certainly no pope and even though I respect him, I consider his opinion on what represents tibets highest philosophical teaching for instance to be wrong!,! Please stop characterising ALL TBs as glassy eyed Dalai robots. That’s just as brainwashed as the imaginary people you criticise.

                  • It might be a residue of the NKT influence… The NKT – as some conspiracists or ill informed left wing anti-religious people – ascribe omnipresent power to the Dalai Lama which he never had! Tibetologist Sobisch estimates that all of the Dalai Lamas together had about 45 years of unrestricted government power.

                    Q: How strong is the power of the Dalai Lama in the exile community, is he an autocrat who can do as he likes; does he order and Tibetans obey?

                    Tibetologist Dodin:

                    Thierry Dodin: The allegation that the Dalai Lama controls every aspect of Tibetan society has no reflection in tangible reality. There is no doubt that his moral influence on the very large majority of Tibetans in exile and in certainly equally high number of Tibetans within Tibet is indeed enormous and historically, it is likely that no Dalai Lama before has ever had so much direct influence on his people. However, the nature of this influence and the nature of his power have to be qualified. The Dalai Lama is not a potentate with fanaticised followers as it is sometimes depicted in particular in Chinese propaganda as well as by some of his opponents, for instance among the Shugden cult followers. This type of leader is in fact widely absent in Tibetan history and hardly matches with Tibetan mentality as we know it. Although the Dalai Lama on occasions correctively intervened in current matters, he has kept himself away from day-to-day government business. In fact, most observers of the Tibetan exile society agree that the Dalai Lama is a more convinced democrat than the average Tibetan. The Dalai Lama is regarded by most Tibetans as a guarantor for the existence of Tibet as a distinct cultural entity. Historically, the Dalai Lama was widely segregated from the population. Even when he was carried through Lhasa for some ceremonies, for instance during the new year festivities, his face would remain veiled from the populace. Only few very high dignitaries had ever seen the face of the Dalai Lama at audiences held in his palace. This traditionally distant, almost other-worldly presence stand in stark contrast to his almost permanent omni-presence of today on portraits in each and every Tibetan home and his strong media presence. That any Tibetan can attend his teachings and speeches is completely new in Tibetan history and will widely explain the one-time influence which he has upon Tibetans in comparison with his predecessors. However, even for Tibetans, there is a large field of interpretation between the words of the Dalai Lama and the way they will be implemented in society or by individuals. When a decision or a statement of the Dalai Lama appears inacceptable, the typical pattern will be that those who consider it so will insist on this decision or this statement as having been made under the influence of ›wrong advisors‹. This pattern by the way is not new in the exile society, it also existed in old Tibet.

                    • Hi laughingdaquini; I know the quote above does not really clarify the difference between the pope and the Dalai Lama. However, it gives some background. I am on the way to get something more reliable from a scientist or an known author who are experts in this. This pope-Dalai-comparission is often made but its totally misleading. I couldn’t find any online source that explains it well. So, I use this part of the discussion to try to provide sth. well thought out in the future. Nevertheless, I hope you can see why I am stressing this point?

                • jigmeyeshe says:

                  Laughing Dakini….It’s easy to make wide generalisations about ‘revering leadership, words and authority’ but having lived in a highly Catholic society for several decades and also seen some of the reactions by Tibetans to the Dalai Lama, I think one major aspect of difference is that His Holiness the Dalai Lama also represents the Tibetan people as a people in exile, deeply betrayed by their oppressors. This aspect is missing for the Pope. He only represents his church.

                  I have also never seen that aspect of ‘punishment’ from Tibetan religious authorities that is in any way similar to that utter power and control of Catholic clerics. Excommunication. Torture in the name of the church. Economic privilege. Just look at the Vatican, it’s own city, packed with both political, economic and religious power. That kind of power simply does not exist in the Tibetan world. Catholic authorities exert much more control over their peoples.

                  And have you actually tried studying with a proper master, Tibetan, live? Or is it your ‘idea’ of what that would be like – because of the messes people make of Buddhist groups – that causes you to reject going any closer to a real Tibetan teacher?

                  There is far more respect for the capacities of any individual to ‘make up their own mind’ about things in Tibetan Buddhism too. The Catholic church, however, even if people don’t actually agree or follow what is said, does tell its followers exactly what to think and do.

                • Dear LD,
                  thank you very much for the discussion because this pushed me to do something about it to enable more clarity about the differences between the Dalai Lama and the pope in Catholic church. I think this article by Alexander Norman The Dalai Lama from a Catholic perspective, could help to have a more nuanced view on it.

                  There is only one direct sentence touching this topic in the article but the whole article explores the background of Catholic and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, their differences, similarities and the role of the Dalai Lama. The sentence touching our discussion is:

                  So far as their own position within the Tibetan spiritual tradition is concerned, the Dalai Lamas are members of the dGe lugs (pronounced gelug) school. This is one of four principle schools or sects within Tibet (the others being the Nyingma, the Sakya and the Kagyu). Perhaps surprisingly, however, he is technically just an ordinary member of a monastery of which he is not abbot. Nor does he appoint other lamas, as the Holy Father appoints all bishops.

            • dharmaanarchist says:

              “as per the doctrine of samaya, makes it very easy indeed for the unscrupulous “guru” to abuse the vulnerable and the naive within the framwwork of Buddhism as taught in the Tibetan traditions.”

              So what?

              As per the inherent dangers of motorized road traffic it’s very easy to kill another person with a car or, as a pedestrian get killed by a car. That’s the reason why we have driving schools, people who want to drive have to pass tests and we educate our children from small onwards how to behave in traffic. We also have strict regulations about driving under the influence. Sure, accidents still happen. But nobody would consider it so dangerous as to not leaving the house because of the dangers of traffic.

              If something has the potential to be dangerous what is needed is education and rules for responsible handling. Check if the guy who will drive the car is sober and has a driving license. Use the traffic lights to cross the street. That kind of thing.

              Same is true for vajrayana. Check the person who is driving, get educated yourself.

            • I would like to offer an apology to laughingdaquini on behalf of this male dominated arena – it would seem the irony of this kind of territorial and competitive behaviour invalidating women’s voices is particularly inappropriate in this setting.

              I have tried to address the issues of the horizon within which this occurs, but of course, all the points I have made have been misinterpreted as objects within the field, and the horizon itself has remained unchallenged.

              Just as nobody seems to have appreciated the irony of excluding the feminine from this masculine oriented discourse, neither do they seem to appreciate the ineffectiveness of trying to address this issue within a patriarchal style of Buddhism while being thoroughly immersed in the same masculine field and having no perspective whatsoever on their own immersion, let alone on these issues raised.

              • Soenam, I deleted your comment at first. Now I was thinking, it might be better to approve it and to point out to you the facts. Any further comment like this will definitely be blocked because it doesn’t lead us anywhere.

                There is no need to start a gender debate and to bring the discussion into a new direction. Why? Your idea about a »male dominated arena« or »masculine oriented discourse« is based on speculations and its not true.

                If you are a woman at least 5 women (including laughing Dakini) have partaken in the debate. Two of them, laughing Dakini and another one who posted here, I know personally. With others I had email exchange or I can see their first name in their email address. To respect their gender identity I don’t point out who they are. But everybody can feel free to declare his or her gender to Soenam if they wish so, just to help Soenam out of his/her mistaken judgement.

                However, besides this temporal help no further comment that extends this type of discussion will be approved. As I said, I feel as being responsible to keep the discussion reasonable, sane and to the point and can’t allow that it is hijacked with fuzzy, erroneous, unrelated or distractive topics that aren’t really helpful.
                Thank you for your understanding!

                • Tenpel, consider this only for yourself, or publish it, it matters not.

                  – laughingdaquini said she felt invalidated, my response was to her.

                  – the idea that this is about gender, meaning what is between one’s legs, is not what I am referring to, but it is both the mistake you have made and the one Sogyal also makes.

                  – this is not a new direction, it is the same thing, again you miss the point, and again you get distracted by the details. I speak about the structure taking masculine and feminine forms – this is not about individuals or their genitalia. My points have been about the frame of reference, your replies have focused only on the content – the points were missed and this pattern has continued to repeat itself ad infinitum.

                  – this issue is central to understanding what is going on with Rigpa and Sogyal, but you haven’t received those teachings yet and they are self-secret to you. I know because I practice them and received transmissions and empowerments from the same lineage. You wish to quote vinaya rules and think you will get somewhere, ok – I do not need to convince you, I offer you a different point of view, you can take it or leave it.
                  Maybe one day you will read again what I have written here and understand it better, or maybe someone else will – it is pointless for me to repeat it. Thank you for allowing me to post and showing me some patience at least – I cannot say too much more or be any more explicit than I already have for obvious reasons.

                  • Hello Soenam

                    I have really difficulties to understand your last contribution. Probably its my limited understanding, but eventuelly its worth you show your piece to 2 or 3 friends and ask if they clearly understood what you are saying.
                    It could be a useful feedback.

                    • I see, that would of course assume that my friends had studied the various tantras and understood the difference between a literal and a symbolic understanding of yab-yum imagery.

                      The literal interpretation takes feminine energy as its object, places it outside itself, and so results in addiction. In that case, the entire structure of tantra would be misunderstood – the aim is to transform an object for consciousness into the very field of consciousness itself.

                    • I studied the tantras but still can’t follow ;-)

                    • oh, better watch out for the vajra police!

                      the bottom line is – which I have worked out through discussing this – is that Sogyal is basically addicted what he perceives as female energy, which he believes he needs for certain tantric purposes.
                      It does pose a problem of power to stop him, but knowledge and education could play a part.

                      One issue is, as with many socially unacceptable addictions, that public shaming may not necessarily produce the desired result.

                    • Mary Finnigan says:

                      Erm — Sogyal’s sex addiction has nothing to do with Tantra. He is not at that level. He never trained as a lama, never did retreat, never meditates. His addiction is 100% self indulgent. He has a narcissistic personality disorder.

                    • Exactly this is what also one of his former sexual partners wrote to me. It’s interesting to see how even those who are critical buy into this narrative.

                    • Sönam. Ok. I can understand this. I can follow – and also believe – he is addicted. But I don’t believe he is addicted in “what he perceives as female energy, which he believes he needs for certain tantric” but that he is addicted to simple mundane sex. As I told you, one of the former partners wrote to me that it was only about sex, nothing “tantric”. As far as I can see and got from the different accounts, the narrative of this plain sex being “tantric” was invented later to justify this addiction and behaviour mainly for Rigpa followers. So, I fear you as well as the article unconsciously perpetuate an untrue, an invented narrative about supposed “tantric practices” and mingle Tantra in here, where it is all about very basic human attachments and sexual desires.
                      My aim for posting Mimi’s report is not “public shaming” but to inform the public – to empower them – as well as protecting potential future victims to make an informed decision. It’s also a matter of justice for me.

                    • Oh I get it; I just don’t see the value of imposing endless theorising about the ‘tantric’ significance of the issue. Invariably, this gets used to either justify condemnation of survivors or provide support for the abusers positions. Even if it used to recontextualise the whole issue, where does that lead?” Mimi/ victims nee to rebalance their ‘energies’? ” Sogyal is simply manipulating energies in his students ‘field of consciousness”?
                      No, it’s more psycho babble, more theorising that leads nowhere

                    • dharmaanarchist says:

                      Finnegan, I find it quite uncalled for that you “diagnose” mental illnesses in other people.

                      Firstly, you are not a psychiatrist. Secondly, a psychiatrist would only diagnose a patient after a personal diagnostic interview. And thirdly, if we postulate a mental illness, then the person is sick, just as someone with cancer or rheumatism and sick people deserve that we do not treat them with personal nastiness.

                      Sex is only tantric in the buddhist tantric sense if you practice completion stage union practice. Everything else falls into the category of “normal sex”. There is no “tantric” non completion stage union practice sex to be had in buddhism.

                      Although I am quite sure that an advanced practitioner can enjoy his or her ordinary sex with love and compassion for all beings or a direct insight into emptiness nature, just like you can eat a good piece of cake with love and compassion for all beings or a direct insight into emptiness nature. But it’s still normal sex, not tantra.

                    • Dharmaanarchist, I wonder why you are so harsh on Mary?
                      I agree, in general its the domain of psychologists to diagnose a addiction or a narcissistic personality disorder. However, its also possible to judge that if you know a person well and if you have some knowledge about addiction and narcissism.

                      I said also different times that my two teachers suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder. The hint was given to me by two psychologists and then I read material about this and evaluated the cases and came to the conclusion that it seems to be correct. Since that I am also confident to say that – though I am aware how risky it is. Being risky to decide/evaluate doesn’t mean you can’t judge it.

                    • Mary Finnigan says:

                      This rude pompous guy is a typical example of why I steer well clear of discussion groups these days. You are doing a great job Tenpel but I will not participate again. Keep in touch and happy solstice.

                    • Thanks for your reply Mary, you may well be right about Sogyal, however for me there are wider issues raised here.

                      There are clearly traditions of sexual practices within tantra, both Buddhist and Shavite forms, which have been kept secret and have been practised for a long time – for example, Maitrīpa, Marpa’s Lama, was banished from Vikramashila for practising with a yoginī during the time of Atīśa’s abbothood around 1000 years ago.

                      June Campbell wrote extensively about this in her book, “Traveller in Space: Gender, Identity and Tibetan Buddhism”, and she seems to oscillate between views in trying to make sense of it. She says that she consented on the basis that she was participating in a sacred and secret tantric practice, but that she later came to view as an abusive sexual relationship – on the one hand there seems to be a view that she was deceived and that it was just ordinary sex, however she does go into great detail in her analysis of the beliefs surrounding the “ritual” which she reveals to be quite patriarchal and misogynistic.

                      Irrespective of the physical reality, she says, “The women believe that they too are special and holy. They are entering sacred space. It produces good karma for future lives, an is a test of faith”, which she describes as a type of catch 22 of psychological blackmail, and this description would seem to echo Mimi’s description of the attitudes she encountered.

                      June Campbell also claims that the secrecy serves not only to protect the lineage but also to maintain control over the women who participate in initiation rituals and activities designed to promote the enlightened state of the lineage holders – the imagery is that of the man reversing the normal flow of energy, about which she says, “expresses the relative status of the male and female within the ritual, for it signals the power flowing from the woman to the man”, and she describes this as “a symbolic rape of the female”.

                      It seems to me that we could get caught up in speculation about what really goes on there, whether is it sacred or not, whether the male really does literally steal the energy of the female or not, whether even Sogyal’s psychological state is either a cause or result of this, or whether his position of power at the centre of that mandala is a product of this practice or simply a symptom of the enabling beliefs and individuals which surround him.

                      Certain things do seem very clear though, there does seem to be a host of beliefs surrounding this, and whether Sogyal really does believe them or not, they do appear to serve to maintain this situation. It is my view that there are certain unsymbolised and misunderstood aspects which serve to mystify the situation, and I believe that if the West is to successfully integrate Vajrayana then it must transcend the Tibetan understanding of what is really going on there on the psychological level rather than the physical.

                      These aspects that June Campbell highlights strike me as remnants from the origins of Buddhism in Tibet, which have incorporated various shamanic elements, Bon, and Shavite tantra to some degree – it strikes me that incorporation is incomplete, and so have been allowed to continue to exist as mythological relics of the past.

                    • I would prefer to say that according to what I expercienced and other people experienced, and after a long time of thinking about it that Esolf has a strong Narcissistic Personality. This is a not “scientific term”, but a term used to describe a persons character quite well.

                    • Also dharma anarchist, there exist maha yoga sadhana that include visualisation/ practices that incorporate the embrace in the nine vehicle classification of the Nyingma
                      Maha yoga does not correspond to the completion stage; if anything, it is a kye rim or generation stage practice

                    • dharmaanarchist says:

                      “I would prefer to say that according to what I expercienced and other people experienced, and after a long time of thinking about it that Esolf has a strong Narcissistic Personality.”

                      That I find totally acceptable as it’s firstly not a medical diagnosis but a description of behaviour you perceive and secondly it’s clear that it reflects your opinion to the best of your knowledge, not an absolute truth.

                      The reason why I am so touchy with the casual use of psychiatric diagnoses is that, firstly I have a diagnosed psychiatric disease, I have been misdiagnoses with mental illnesses I do not have. As someone very personally involved with the subject I find it deeply troubling how casual mental illnesses are used in conversation and are ascribed to random people that behave in ways that you do not like. Psychiatric diagnoses these days are quite often used to denigrate people.

                      Now personality disorders are among the most complex mental illnesses and are therefor sometimes the hardest to diagnose correctly. And, not everyone who displays some kind of antisocial behaviour has a diagnosable mental illness. Not everyone who displays egoistic behaviour or can not control his sexual urges or acts impulsively has a narcissistic personality disorder.

                  • “Not everyone who displays egoistic behaviour or can not control his sexual urges or acts impulsively has a narcissistic personality disorder.”

                    I agree, and I would even add that these behaviours have become so “normal” these days that one has to consider the underlying causes. How is it even possible for the selfie generation to identify a narcissist when the entire society is founded on narcissistic behaviour.

                    People do also use these terms quite flippantly, recently, someone who was a bit neurotic told me they had OCD, clearly they had never actually encountered anyone with that diagnosis.

                    • While it is true that these terms are used nowadays quite quickly, I don’t think that behind the judgement in that case is a superficial, flippant, arbitrary or not well thought out judgement. You miss that Mary knows him from the start and has dealt with that case for a long time. There is a good basis of knowledge about patterns of behaviour to judge this.

                      BTW, Tibetan Buddhism and the guru devotion are perfect means for people with a predisposition to narcissism to nourish and mature that narcissism to the highest degree while enjoying wide acceptance among followers and colleagues. Usually nobody would dare to think the own guru is mentally sick – which contributes, combined with other factors, to a narcissistic setup and potential or lingering or developed or fully developed narcissism at the side of the leadership.

                    • As a “lay-psychiatrist”, I had heard that we live in the aera of narcistic behaviour. It has ended the aera of hystericism. It is 25 or 30 years ago, as this was said,by a real psychiatrist.

                      So now, we live in the aera of supernarcism.

                      As long as the antidots are not applied exhaustively, comprehensive and worldwide, properly, our world will remain as it is now.

                      Despite the fact that the western hemispere is full of halfdone buddhists, including myself.

                    • The antidotes are out there, e.g. Lojong. But here we sadly witnessed, how a big Buddhist organisation and its leadership use Lojong to take the victory and to offer the defeat.

                    • oh, I wasn’t including Mary in the phrase “the selfie generation” – apologies if I gave that impression!!!

                    • one other thought – I don’t think he is aiming at a tantric union practice, it seems more like a long life practice.

                    • “one other thought – I don’t think he is aiming at a tantric union practice, it seems more like a long life practice.”
                      what does this mean? clear answer please

                    • Based on what s/he wrote I guess, Soenam means sth around he sucks out »female energy« to attain a long life or so. I read this type of view in different anti-Tibetan Buddhism environments. But I’ve never heard or read about that in the context of Tibetan Buddhism.
                      However, as it was said by Mary also, I think there is no spiritual idea behind his activities in that regard, just very basic sexual self-gratification. Its amazing to see how even critics seem to buy in narratives that distort these activities into pseudo-spiritual things …

                    • thanks Tenpel, yes, that what I was referring to.
                      I’m less interested in what critics might think and more concerned with the beliefs of the enablers which fuel this situation.

  2. The Dalai Lama IS the Patron of Rigpa, Tenpel. There is this at the end of the Rigpa press release which you can see here. https://lerabling.org/images/PDFs/2016/RIGPA-Press-Release-September-2016.pdf

    “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–in an environment that allows one to experience these teachings fully–to all those who are interested in Buddhism. Likewise Rigpa examines how the wisdom and compassion of Buddha’s teachings can be used in the many areas of contemporary life. Rigpa has more than 130 centres and groups in 41 countries around the world.”

    As was explained by Olivier Raurich, who was one of the top Rigpa people in France, Rigpa trains its spokespeople to refer to the Dalai Lama as much as possible if they are asked questions about sexual abuse. It was my experience that it is a big deal in Rigpa that the Dalai Lama is a Patron and visited Lerab Ling twice. There is even a whole glossy Rigpa magazine about the Dalai Lama’s last visit to Lerab Ling.

  3. note this says:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Advaita

    Advaita Vedanta, and it’s offshoot neo-Advaita are just as vulnerable to these issues of abuse as Buddhism or any other spiritual tradition.

    Master Poonja’s most famous Western disciple was Andrew Cohen of ‘evolutionary Enlightenment “. This organization was responsible for terrible abuse, there is a documentary about it.Poonja was just as unable to stop Cohen as the Dalai Lama was unable to stop Sogyal.

    Changing spiritual paths is every person’s right but doinG so because one believes the new tradition to be free of dangerous history seems naive.

    Rather, one must evaluate a teacher of any spiritual traditions carefully before investing time or money in them

    • I think we knew that

    • I’m sure any tradition will have its charlatan “masters”. I’m not even changing traditions as I haven’t really been following Tibetan Buddhism at all since I left NKT more than 20 years ago. I am attracted to the Advaita Vedanta teachings, particularly as expounded by western teachers, because from what I have learnt hitherto, there is no religiosity about the teachings whatsoever. After all, I got involved with NKT all those years ago because I bought the lie that they continue to peddle about the teachings offered being “scientific” – only to find, of course, that if I wanted to progress on the supposedly “scientific” Buddhist path, I’d have to spend the rest of my life reciting prayers and prostrating to gurus and deities, just like a proper Catholic. Pffff.

  4. Tsultim Namdak says:

    I was surprised to see the very prominent position that Sogyal had during HH Karmapa’s visit to Berlin a couple of years back. I might be wrong but I think that Karmapa even stayed some of the time at the local Rigpa centre. I am aware that Karmapa has to tread very carefully but some of his handlers ought to have kept a bit more space between him and Sogyal IMHO.

    • True. Rigpa Berlin helped our center and without Rigpa we wouldn’t have made it. So we are grateful and in debt to Rigpa people and their kindness. (Which brings me in a very complicated position too …) Very complicated… I think I can’t say more about that.

      • jigmeyeshe says:

        In this podcast Mary Finnigan explains why Sogyal’s behaviour is ‘nothing to to with the Dalai Lama’. The NKT also say that they ‘teach the same Dharma as the Dalai Lama’ to newcomers. Hopefully this nasty mess can be cleaned up with the transparency and clarity the discussions on this blog generally bring. Thank you for keeping this a safe and open space, Tenzin.

        http://www.mythicistmilwaukee.com/mythicistmilwaukeeblog/2016/11/12/jqxrww2sh7z8pfgowiorn65v3wr5s6

      • Yes. It makes Rigpa fellowship more powerful in terms of “relationships”, that protect Rigpa very well.

        And it gives very enjoyable feelings if one can help other Dharmacenters and therefore enjoys gratitude and special treatment and so on.

        Thats a effective way of making Dharmapolitics.

  5. “Buddhism, as it is taught in Europe, conveys the teaching that we are all able to create an ideal society, perfectly just and compassionate. That we must free ourselves from the capitalist machinery that has separated us from our true nature, which is fundamentally good. Adolescence can nourish the desire to deeply live such an ideal. At least that was the case for me.”

    Already, alarm bells are ringing when I read this – is it trying to say that she was completely deluded from the beginning?

    It seems very poorly translated – perhaps by google? – and this really does the account no favours. I am of the opinion that Sogyal Rinpoche is a very self-centred and abusive person who seems to possess neither any learning nor wisdom associated with Buddhist teachings… but to me, this account comes across as a disjointed list of unconnected phrases with many hints and no real direction.

    What is really meant by phrases such as, “The first time we touched sexually…” and “I had a period of amenorrhea and feared I might be pregnant….” – are we supposed to infer that they had sex and she became pregnant? – was it consensual sex or was she raped? – was she actually pregnant and if so, was she forced to have a termination?

    Maybe this is the French way of phrasing and the meaning is lost in translation, or it may be the case that she is still in the middle of coming to terms with her traumatic experience and is not yet able to fully express her meaning – I simply cannot tell from this article, it raises more questions than it answers and speaks in half-hidden truths.

    • It might help to watch the documentary here which reports also about Mimi and her father:

      Mimi was 14 years old when she entered Rigpa, in the documentary she says she wanted to be closer to her father. However, Sogyal and Rigpa managed that she got into bed with Sogyal. At one point Sogyal commanded her: »Undress!«, the father asked Sogyal if its true that he used/abused her. He confirmed it. The father asked him then if he used condoms. I think this is quite explicit. In general, I think, its hard to speak about this in public with all the details.

      —-

      … “is it trying to say that she was completely deluded from the beginning?”, first of all, she was 14 years old when she entered Rigpa. What do youngsters or teens usually think or imagine? They have idealistic imaginations, a good feeling for justice, and many want to make the world a better, a juster place. Very very often they fall pray to organisations that ride on these good intended wishes, increase them and abuse them to make them free working slaves. (Christian organisations do this too…) So what do you expect and how should this question help? Aren’t we all “completely deluded from the beginning?”

      • Yeah… I have seen that video on “Soygal” (sic.) before and read many different versions of “Mimi’s” story and others’ besides – this doesn’t really address the main points I was highlighting, which are;

        1. the phrase we use in English would be something like, “the first time we had sexual contact” but when translated as, “the first time we touched sexually” it reads more like a romantic novel or pop song by Serge Gainsbourg, which I am sure is not the most appropriate tone for this article.
        This is just one example of many where the sense seems a little distorted by the translation. Feel free to email me a copy of the original.

        2. Maybe because of the translation, it still seems as if “Mimi” has some rather strange ideas about Tibetan Buddhism and these come across as disinformation in the article. I think it would be useful to check the translation and possible give some kind of clarification here.

        • The translation was made by a professional, state proven (“staatlich geprüfter”) translator. The original French article is linked at the end. So you can check for yourself by reading it.

          • IT strikes me that the author of the critical post is attempting to discredit the author and undermine the veracity of her statement by attacking the translation. I found the piece clear in its content and intent. I.smell a rat. The claim to neutrality may not be all that it appears to be

            • I wondered also if his or her motivation and how explicit content he needs to understand.

              • paranoid much?

                as I explained clearly, I believe Sogyal to be a serial abuser and find it frustrating to read a piece that is requiring me to read so much between the lines – there are several possible interpretations of this article, clearly the role played by preconceived ideas and even prejudice will influence the reader to give more weight to one of those readings over the others.

                The fact that this translator gets paid for the work is really no guarantee of professionalism, thank you for referring me to the link for the original.

                Concerning the second point, for example, I read in the comments section such like, “I know a lama who has a dakini.” – I don’t think so. He may well call his girlfriend or consort a dakini, just as someone else might call theirs “angel” but there is no way he “has a dakini” – this is just sloppy use of language which encourages a disrespectful form of cultural appropriation and which leads to such idealistic nonsense believed by teenagers who are then disillusioned to discover that Tibetan Lamas make great capitalists and even serial abusers. What is the point in this site if not to try to dispel such myths? Yet it seems that you are highly resistant and question my motives for bringing this to awareness. Regardless of your becoming distracted by imaginary attributions to an imaginary self, the point remains unaddressed.

                • No not “paranoid much” but you need to be open for all options why people post comments and what their agenda might be. We have our experiences with people who pretend to be open or supporting people being harmed but turned out to be just group members or representatives or teachers of criticised groups or followers of criticised teachers. So I would call it realistic scepticism going along with a kind of radar for contradictions or possible agendas in a comment.

                  Interesting though how easy you apply denigrating psychic categories like paranoia. I know this from the adherents of groups with abusive behaviour, like the NKT, they have a strong tendency to portray their critics as mentally unstable of mentally ill … guess, why?

                  Thank you however, for clarifying your hardship. For me as an East German, I am used to read between the lines, it was our culture, we are experts in this. However, for a court case it must be more explicit but here is not a courtroom.

                  For me it is already enough what the documentary showed. A girl who wanted to be closer to the father and was pushed by the organisation and by Sogyal himself (as this article shows) closer to Sogyal, ending up that he commanded her to »Undress!« Just this is the abuse of power, it might be harder for others like you to see that, but that’s not my problem. The interview could have been clearer and better structured said two scientists I asked but all scientists I asked found it still good because it reveals very well the dynamics and how these things of power abuse unfold. If you cannot make use of it, so be it.

                  I wonder, why you are riding so much on “the role played by preconceived ideas and even prejudice”, the whole interview reveals mainly the abuse of power and how this happens. Why do you care so much about Mimi’s supposed “preconceived ideas and even prejudice” and not of “the preconceived ideas and even prejudice” that Rigpa sets up to make Sogyal an untainted master who can do as he pleases and needs all the young girls for his “welfare”?

                  Your comments intends to sow doubts in the report of the victim. After having done this, you again – without ANY sober reason – sow doubt in the translator by saying:

                  The fact that this translator gets paid for the work is really no guarantee of professionalism, thank you for referring me to the link for the original.

                  So, what is your intention to write this? What is your reason to sow doubts without any prove of a fault in the translation by a professional?

                  Now, you also sow doubts in my judgements, when you write: »Concerning the second point, for example, I read in the comments section such like, “I know a lama who has a dakini.” – I don’t think so.« Sorry,Soenam, you have no clue. I know what I am writing about but you seem not to know what you are writing about. In general a dakini refers to a women who has tantric realisations and is able to manifest the most subtle mind through completion stage practice (however, there are different levels of realisations so its not too fixed). A sign of such dakinis is that they have tantric realisations (which can manifest in visible aspects of certain qualities). They are also extremely humble and don’t make in general a big fuss of themselves. (of course one should not generalise too much, there might be exceptions.)

                  Now, you behave like a teenager, not having understood what a real dakini is, having no experiences you claim others who have some clue or experiences about it are teenagers. Well, what a wonderful projection, and of course you want to denigrate with that my person as a stupid, naive teenager. But I am not.

                  Of course, the term dakini can be abused like the term “medical doctor” can be abused; or like any label like “Buddhism” can be abused too. But this doesn’t make women who have deeper tantric realisations and who (might) form a relation with a man who has also deeper tantric realisations and both practicing together and also using sexual activity (if qualified) as a means to reach higher levels of spiritual realisations non-existent.

                  BTW, the yogi I mentioned had two wives. He is married with both of them and they lived together having kids together, but only one of these two wives was the tantric consort pointed out by Dujom Rinpoche to him. And as I said she had (among others) healing powers and the yogi spoke of her with highest respect as if she would be HIS object of faith – not the other way around!

                  Therefore, the concepts of “dakini” is not a myth. However, the concept can be abused. “Crazy wisdom” is not a myth but the concept of crazy wisdom can be abused. “Medical doctor” or a “PhD” is not a myth but the concept of Medical doctor or PhD can be abused.

                  Yet it seems that you are highly resistant and question my motives for bringing this to awareness.

                  Who is highly resistant? Who is denigrating others with negative coined labels? Who misses to understand to what basis the concept of a (true) dakini is referring to?

                  Regardless of your becoming distracted by imaginary attributions to an imaginary self, the point remains unaddressed.

                  For whom?

                  • thank you for your in depth reply Tenpel.

                    As you yourself say that, “The ladies are no real dakinis” and highlight how the, “concept can be abused.” and then you reinforce the exact point I was making about the yogi being the possessor of the dakini by writing, “she would be HIS object of faith – not the other way around.”

                    This is however, just one example of how critical thinking, which I take to be wholly in line with Buddhism, seems all too often to evaporate when emotions run high in a case such as this.

                    It was certainly not my intention to suggest some kind of mental illness such as paranoid schizophrenia, but rather to question the partisan idea that critical thinking necessarily meant that I was, “attempting to discredit the author and undermine the veracity of her statement.”

                    I have twice stated very publicly and clearly my view concerning Sogyal and my concerns regarding this article, yet you argue for your realistic scepticism on the basis that I dare to question something that is unclear to me.

                    I did not claim neutrality, but neither do I wish to uncritically accept the veracity of any statement – I said nothing about Mimi’s supposed “preconceived ideas and even prejudice” and not of “the preconceived ideas and even prejudice” that Rigpa sets up, rather, when I wrote about the possible interpretations of what I consider ambiguities in the article, I was including those readers whose minds are already made up, both for and against, and also the perspective of someone without prior knowledge or expectation coming across this issue for the first time.

                    As the article is translated into English, presumably for speakers of English, I fail to see how your East German ability to read between the lines is particularly relevant except maybe for the fact that a German speaker has translated this from French into English.

                    Having read the original I have now seen the clarity in that version, which seems to have been somewhat lost by the above translation. As an English speaker who wishes to gain a clear picture I believe that it correct for me to point that out to you for the benefit of any other English speaker who may also read this article.

                    You are right that this is clearly not a courtroom, however it does not therefore follow that it should lack all rigour and descend into binary thinking – I do not see how it would benefit the case against Rigpa, nor promote Buddhist thinking in general, to turn this into some kind of tabloid-style cause célèbre.

                    It comes as no surprise then to read that the translator, Christopher Hammacher, has previously been critiqued for claiming that all Zen meditation necessarily leads to the formations of cults, and Buddhist thinkers have claimed that his work takes a materialistic and biased view based upon false premises.

                    That seems quite sobering to me, but it’s your site and your choice if you wish to create the atmosphere of supporters at a football match in the style of Dialogue Ireland.

  6. Soenam, your comment made me aware of possible subtle downplays in the translation that çould undermine Mimi’s credibility and the serieusness of it all. Maybe Tenpel is aware that cult rethoric can take a lot of subtle forms. Maybe you can understand his concern that in his experience some of your concerns can subtly sow doubt also. I can see that though i read you you express a genuine concern to do credit to the truth especialy seen your words ”I am of the opinion that Sogyal Rinpoche is a very self-centred and abusive person who seems to possess neither any learning nor wisdom associated with Buddhist teachings…”

    • Thank you dakini & Soenam. I have no time currently to read comments or to engage in discussions. Will take me a week or so to read new comments and if needed to write a reply… I hope other people find time or can engage…

    • Thank you Dakini,

      I would refute the concept of her credibility being based upon veracity as it would seem impossible for consciousness to accurately apprehend it’s object independently of the interrelationship between the two.

      That Mimi’s story changes every time she tells it suggests to me that she is still in the process of working through her experience, and the attempts to use her story as leverage against Sogyal would seem to detract from considering the truth of her experience.

      It seems to me that the nature of these publications tends towards the atmosphere of a public trial in a way that is potentially unhelpful and seems to encourage this idea of a weighing of the truth by the readership.

      Not only does quibbling over the facts lead us into subjectively compromised, biased positions, which are ultimately unverifiable, but also, due to a subject-object model tending towards a static and unchanging view, it may have the unintended consequence of slowing the process and prolonging her feelings of disempowerment.

      It also seems to play into the hands of those who would question the veracity of her story, which is an undesirable situation not only because it uses her as a pawn in dharma politics, but also because it promotes a view of objectivity that Buddhism refutes and which therefore poses no real threat to the very institution it aims at debunking.

      The fact that this is all done in public also seems to make it up for grabs, for example, we see Stephen Batchelor commenting in the above video, and his agenda is very clearly to paint Tibetan Buddhism as an outdated remnant of feudal society and promote his own secular-humanist viewpoint.

      It seems to me that there is a gamble in taking such a viewpoint, so while it may appeal to the majority of the non-Buddhist readership, simplifying things into good and bad, victim and perpetrator, ascribing inherently static properties to people and taking a rigid moralistic stance, by abandoning a Buddhist view it tends to focus on the symptoms, and on blame and retribution, instead of gaining insight into the causes and methods of prevention.

      This not only fails to help Mimi and provides a rationalisation for the Sogyal faithful, but perhaps more importantly, it places us in the position of squabbling children who are all disempowered and who therefore require the intervention of an adult who will step in, administer punishments, and restore a good moral order from above (i.e. in this case the Dalai Lama as some kind of authoritative father figure enforcing a universally accepted morality), in other words, the very social structure that we are criticising Rigpa for, and which as Buddhists, we are trying to move beyond.

      • And what is your proposal towards a better way of handling such a matter?

      • Profesor Soenam
        Rather dry, highly intellectual and patronizing advice-perhaps a little more empathy might not go amiss. It comes with age and experience
        It might be easy to rationalize away other peoples suffering but the reality is Mimi is not alone in feeling she was abused. A good starting point is to listen to allegations and see if they are recurrent, widespread and manifold. In Sogyals case, there is no doubt that they are

        • I do not mean to suggest that any single approach is better than any other, simply that certain approaches are more appropriate and consistent with the perspective taken. Certainly there is a place for investigative journalism, however it would seem that a multifaceted approach could also be useful.

          Clearly, whichever approach is taken will also depend on the intention and desired outcomes.

          In the above piece of writing, they are not entirely clear to me, and I think that much as we might like to claim that the members of Ripga who are invested in perpetuating this situation are somehow at fault, possibly deluded, or at least buying into a problematic ideology, I think there is a problem with simply trying to dictate our own morality and disrespecting their personal choices.
          If the ideology is suspect then I think it would be useful to be explicit about this – but that would mean engaging with the ideas rather than the individuals.

          I think it may also be useful to see it terms of karma, where both Sogyal and his followers seem to be playing out their own father issues, perhaps not in a particularly progressive or healthy way – but I have seen something similar to a lesser extreme in many sanghas where the position of the lama/father/”god” has become somewhat sacred and unquestionable, and I have no easy answers to this. It would however seem that the more such a group is attacked and blamed, the tighter and more insular they become.

          One curious thing I am perceiving in the kind of journalistic style of writing, which as I said before, may simply be down to the technique or may be an indication of Mimi’s processing of the past, is the apparent absence of her subjective voice.

          I do see a role for objectivity and for facts, and it is good to read from Rob about the lawsuits being brought in the Netherlands, (I’m not entirely sure what the comment, “Let’s hope for your sake your motives are pure.” is supposed to mean. I hope you are being inappropriately over-familiar, because otherwise it’s a bit creepy – and quite telling that you freely question others motives and yet complain about feeling patronised at the same time – is it possible that you too have swallowed the Vajrayana hierarchical social structure?).

          I also know full well that, “the reality is Mimi is not alone in feeling she was abused” however it would also seem to be the case that some people who are possibly being abused do not feel it as such – as I say, I believe there is a place for both objective and subjective approaches, and I would like to hear about the perceptions of those involved as well as a factual account. My issue here is not against anecdotal evidence, but rather the attempt to dress it up in journalistic neutrality.

          • Empathy is core to compassionate, equanimous journalismrather than current hard faced pseudo neutral journalism

            • I will read Soenam’s comments later (in the next 5 or 7 days). The angle he seems to come from seems a bit more complicated so it needs more time and thinking from my side to read and to reply to it. I want to be just to him as well as to the topic of discussion.

              In general – from the first impressions of his comments – he denigrated almost every party who wants to shine some light on this painful issue. My stance is, that if a person being harmed by sexual abuse or the abuse of power speaks up, you applaud and encourage that person because silence is the response that contributes to the space that abuse can continue. To think about journalistic “neutrality” or how to phrase things more clearly or explicit is of secondary rank for me – though not unimportant.

              In general, siding with the person being harmed by giving him or her a voice is perfectly fine for me, because, as I said, the perpetrators have not only a loud voice and a lot of power but they have also an army of defenders and an army of people who are silent. Therefore, it is right to give the person who has been harmed or who observed abuse a megaphone – in the metaphorical sense. The silence seems to be the worst option in such cases. Therefore, non-silence is highly appreciated and should be welcomed. If someone cannot understand this I wonder what he/she can understand in such a context?

              • Studies of abuse have shown very clearly that there is very often a cycle of abuse – that the abusers were themselves abused.

                They have demonstrated how a simplified view of the guilty perpetrator deserving of anger and the poor innocent victim deserving only sympathy, is unhelpful, judgemental, lacking insight, and only serves to perpetuate this continued cycle.

                – not only does the anger reflect the perceived abuse straight back at the abuser, but sympathy for the victim can also unwittingly maintain that person in a position of childlike impotence.

                – in focusing purely on the level of the individual, the patterns of behaviour are obscured and therefore are allowed to continue, both for the abuser and the abused.

                It does seem particularly abhorrent that someone calling themselves a Buddhist master would uncritically perpetuate this cycle of abuse.

                What I am finding equally incredible though, is that despite these above ideas – the cyclical nature of negative karma, equanimity, compassion for all sentient beings, looking beyond individual selves to see the wider inter-relatedness, and the cultivation of insight over the venting of anger – being entirely Buddhist concepts, they seem to be entirely absent from the whole debate.

                It is not that I fail to understand your concept of a metaphorical megaphone which has been protesting to the closed doors of Rigpa for over 20 years with very little effect, it is simply that I disagree.

                • You are right on one level Soenam but the point is that in Rigpa, the dharma you perceive as absent is actually used to justify abuse ( tantra/. Dakini etc) So this space here isn’t ignoring the dharma side of things. Rather it’s providing the relative world response to counteract this abuse of dharma
                  You also seem to equate compassion with not speaking out about abuse. This shows inadequate, narrow understanding of how compassion should be applied
                  Ditto your application of karma and interdependence- should we remain silent about people abusing others because it’s their karma? Or because the abuser and the abused are interdependent? I think not. Your intellectualism makes me think there is room for more practical altruism in your path which currently verges on some kind of nihilism, where suffering is ignored because it’s a dependent arising
                  That it may be and, in the relative though illusory world, the proper response is to expose it

                  • dharmaanarchist says:

                    Since SR as far as I know has not revealed any termas the idea that he needs a dakini for inspiration is a bit of a no brainer to me.

                    Most of the terma revealing lamas were married by the way.

                    The Tibetan buddhist tradition has prominent historical lamas who were famous for their promiscuous lifestyle, for example Drukpa Kunleg. It sounds like some of his female disciples attained realisation as meditators. No idea if any of those relationships had an abusive component.

                    What I don’t really get together is that the content of the dharma teachings he is giving is not flawed and he is capable to transmit vajrayana and dzogchen. It seems that the man has two different personalities that operate quite independently of each other. Like some guy who during the day is a nice family man that everybody in the neighbourhood likes and at night he goes robbing banks.

                    • Since SR as far as I know has not revealed any termas the idea that he needs a dakini for inspiration is a bit of a no brainer to me.
                      Most of the terma revealing lamas were married by the way.

                      Thank you dharmaanarchist. These were thoughts that also came to my mind.

                      —-

                      If the young, pretty ladies who were lured into a intimate relationship with Sogyal attained realisations surely they wouldn’t complain afterwards ;-)

                      —-

                      Sogyal – though some of the impact he makes on others go back to cheap psychological tricks, manipulation or a type of hypnotisation – seems to have helped others deeply. But this you can find also with Shoko Asahra or other so called “cult leaders” – including the former abbot of the Pagode Path Hue, Thich Thien Son in Frankfurt. (I met people who said: “he saved my life, he healed me.” I also saw a lot of documentaries, read newspaper articles, books, research etc where people describe extraordinary good experiences within deeply destructive, manipulative and damaging systems and cult leaders). I think this goes back to two things: 1) those leaders have qualities but sooner or later their shadow sides take over – especially when they have unquestioned power, 2) the mental factor faith in itself – even faith in a placebo – has strong healing effects and can bring you to deep experiences even if the faith has no basis in reality – i.e., even if the object of your faith doesn’t exist or you just imagine qualities though they do not exist in the object. So, people who follow types of “cult leaders” (or manipulative / power abusing teachers) have it extremely hard to understand the causes and conditions for their good and bad experiences and to put these into the right context. Moreover, manipulative, power abusing systems and their followers tend to increase their own confusion by ascribing the good experiences to the leader and the bad experiences to the individual. The bad experiences you made, they claim or believe, is your own bad karma (or the devil, demonic influences etc. – so your own fault any way) or your lack of faith in the guru etc.…

                      On top of that, it is also possible, that a person can have the experience of the nature of mind but is a total asocial person. (The latter was said btw by Khandro Rinpoche herself – in another context, not in the context of SR.)

                      I don’t know about the qualities of his teachings, so I cannot commend on that in any way.

                    • dharmaanarchist – “What I don’t really get together is that the content of the dharma teachings he is giving is not flawed and he is capable to transmit vajrayana and dzogchen.”

                      I found the opposite, for example, on a talk about the nature of mind, his only focus was only on self-centred spiritual materialism – which is totally in keeping with his pathological narcissism.

                    • Thank you. Very interesting to read these different views, experiences and judgements.

                    • “Most of the terma revealing lamas were married by the way”
                      While the majority, though not all, terms revealers were Nyingmapas, it is incorrect to suggest they were “married”..Certainly, the Tibetan people had the custom of marriage. However, there is no traditional Buddhist marriage ceremony; lamas or monks may.bless a marriage but marriage itself is seen as a secular contract.
                      It is more correct perhaps to say “Many of the terms revealing lamas had female companions”.
                      On a related issue, for those who condemn the terma tradition as a Nyingma accretion, the account of Nagarjunas recovery of the Perfection of Wisdom scriptures from the nagas under the sea after they were placed in their care by the Buddha himself deserves scrutiny
                      Again “The Tibetan buddhist tradition has prominent historical lamas who were famous for their promiscuous lifestyle, for example Drukpa Kunleg. ”
                      The reason such lamas are famed is because they were extremely rare, highly realised beings who were able to lead others to realisation through unusual methods and to perform miracles beyond normal human comprehension Their stories are told, not because they were the norm but rather because they were the exception to the rule.
                      As far as I am aware, none of Sogyals ‘dakinis” have demonstrated high attainments as a result of their encounters nor has Sogyal parted the Red Sea or invoked earthquakes. Rigpa use these stories to justify Sogyals aberrant behaviour, claiming it was quite acceptable in Tibet and considered the norm for Nyingmapas. This is incorrect; it is a twisting of historical facts to justify impropriety and is disingenuous.

                    • Thank you.

                • Interesting. I think I come closer to from where you come (I have still to read your former comments).

                  For me its a matter of fact that the perpetrator is a victim. Yes, and there is a high possibility that the abuser was abused too as a child. Therefore, indeed the abuser deserves compassion – as does the victim.

                  But while the abuser, when still in power and on the way to continue the abuse, needs forceful means to be stopped, the abused person needs support, encouragement and people who listen and show compassion and understanding. Part of the healing process of the abused person is to really understand what injustice has been done to him or her. When this clarity comes to mind, they feel naturally angry and psychologists see this anger as a good sign in the process of healing because abused persons tend to blame themselves for the abuse and are stuck in feelings of guilt and shame. Therefore, its important to understand who was the wrongdoer, not the abused person but the abuser.

                  Your comment is not differentiating the stages and steps, the situations and what is needed at the different stages and steps for both sides. Therefore, I think, it comes with an unrealistic or black-and-white judgement of the whole process. There seems not to be a good understanding of the dynamics of abuse, when I read your comment.

                  The abuser is stuck in his own dynamics which are very powerful and deep, he is stuck by an environment that ignores or supports the continuation of abuse.

                  So, foremost, what needs to be understood is what the situation for both sides is, where they are at the moment and what they need at the stages where they are. As part of the healing process it can be very helpful to go to public and to speak about what happened and as part of stopping the powerful abuser it can be the right means to make his name known in public if there is no other way.

                  As an outsider, for understanding this process you need an understanding of dependent arising and looking onto the situation with compassion for all sides (if possible). However, for most it will be hard to have compassion with the abuser. This is the special challenge you can take but can’t force others to take.

                  In the context of abuse, most find it counterproductive to speak about karma because abused persons have a very strong tendency to feel guilty and to blame themselves. A misunderstood concept of karma might keep the victim in the trap of self-destructive self-blaming that prevents healing. So it needs the right time when to address karma. The perpetrator creates a lot of negative karma but what does it help to tell this to the perpetrator as long as he is stuck in his (or her) own inner dynamics and he and his environment justify the deeds as good or acceptable?

                  I think, most of the people have compassion for the victim here and this is very good! Though it might be a partial compassion that does not extend to the perpetrator, its better than having no compassion for the victim which is the thing which those being abused experience the most! Therefore, compassion for the victim is of paramount importance. I wonder how you can say people don’t show compassion for Mimi? They might not show compassion for Sogyal, and you can criticise that if you wish so (I wouldn’t do that because I can understand how hard it is to feel compassion for a perpetrator). Then people might have compassion for Sogyal but don’t express it because it is not suitable to be expressed at this stage or context.

                  However, I deeply sympathise with an approach that is compassionate to both sides and this is also what the Conference of Western Buddhist Teachers concluded:

                  5. Particular concern was expressed about unethical conduct among teachers. In recent years both Asian and Western teachers have been involved in scandals concerning sexual misconduct with their students, abuse of alcohol and drugs, misappropriations of funds, and misuse of power. This has resulted in widespread damage both to the Buddhist community and the individuals involved. Each student must be encouraged to take responsible measures to confront teachers with unethical aspects of their conduct. If the teacher shows no sign of reform, students should not hesitate to publicize any unethical behavior of which there is irrefutable evidence.

                  This should be done irrespective of other beneficial aspects of his or her work and of one’s spiritual commitment to that teacher. It should also be made clear in any publicity that such conduct is not in conformity with Buddhist teachings. No matter what level of spiritual attainment a teacher has, or claims to have reached, no person can stand above the norms of ethical conduct. In order for the Buddhadharma not to be brought into disrepute and to avoid harm to students and teachers, it is necessary that all teachers at least live by the five lay precepts. In cases where ethical standards have been infringed, compassion and care should be shown towards both teacher and student.

                  Now you insinuate or charge that the whole debate seems to be “entirely” lacking from “compassion for all beings,” or “looking beyond individual selves to see the wider inter-relatedness, and the cultivation of insight over the venting of anger”. I can’t see that. The entire debate is lacking official acknowledgement by Rigpa that these allegations are true, that women such as Mimi but also many others as well as men have been harmed, and compassion and insight that this is the wrong way, damaging and must be stopped NOW! Instead of entering another cycle of denial and continuation of abuse. The wider inter-relatedness is that the majority of Buddhists are silent and by their very silence support the continuation of this very damaging and sick cycle of abuse. The compassion for all should include the women and men, the couples or families who have been harmed by Sogyal. The compassion should also include Sogyal (if possible), who is a victim of his own desires and power. Based on strong compassion and understanding of karma it is best to stop him immediately, isn’t it? So, are those who don’t do anything about it not those who lack “compassion for all beings” because it does not include the victims and the abuser – creating an environment of silence and denial instead that enables the perpetuation of the cycle of abuse?

                  Interesting though, so far, I have never seen you expressing here a word of compassion for those been harmed. But you used a lot of your writing to either criticise the victim or those who stand with her / or with them. Why? Why are you doing this?

                  —-

                  BTW, just to understand my background. Since 2000 I go regular to prisons and give courses there, sometimes I give also individual support. I did this with others or alone. Among the participants of my courses (or the individuals I tried to support) are bank robbers, murderers, rapists, sexual offenders and pedophiles. So I know that side. However, I also have an ear for victims and act to help them in all ways possible. I think I am rather used to see abuse from both sides, and I am capable to think from both sides and to get a clue about the complex dynamics in such processes. Therefore, I know why – as long as the abuser is not stopped – it is more important to side with the victim and to do all things possible to stop the abusing person. The latter can be done also out of compassion or just based on “the wider inter-relatedness, and the cultivation of insight”.

                  —-

                  HTH

                  • Thank you Tenpel, it would seem that you are very clear on the stages of progression of the healing process, and so you know better than most what is required to move beyond the stage of anger.

                    My focus is not on any of the victims at all here, but on the community as a whole which seems rather stuck at that stage and which, in making progress conditional on Sogyal’s behaviour, has thereby placed him again in a position of power.

                    I sincerely hope that the victim’s themselves have managed to complete the healing process, and yet, seeing the community as a whole become somewhat stuck at that stage, I do wonder whether using the victims’ stories to promote this cause is really encouraging that progress.

                    It is completely understandable to have promoted these stories to try to motivate the entire community to put a stop to this abuse, however it also appears to me that this has had limited success – the general perception seems to be that Sogyal has not stopped – and so the determined anger risks becoming stagnant frustration.

                    To that end, the big issue for me here is whether such a strategy has the effect of opening up the debate in order to develop insight and understanding into the issues and offer any alternatives as to what might be required to put an end to the abuse.

                    In comparison to the healing process of the victim, there would seem to be a stage at which the person abused is able to take back power for themselves and move beyond the stages of blame and anger, guilt and recrimination. This is not to say that their regaining of their own equanimity is in any way to condone the actions of the abuser, but rather that their regaining of that equanimity is no longer dependent on those external factors, and in this way, the question of addressing the issue of abuse may be approached more effectively.

                    • Thank you Soenam. I share your doubts about the outcome.

                      Before I posted both articles I asked some scientists whom I trust for feedback. All of them saw Mimi’s report as helpful though one commented that it could have had a better structure and that it could be clearer. One also said that the interview with her might help Rigpa people to wake up, at least for some.

                      Now, not posting Mimis’s report and to support silence in the context of Rigpa’s strong denials, claiming that these are “unjust and totally false claims”, “false accusations”, that “Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche have been the victims of a malicious media campaign” etc etc. – attacking now Marion Dapsance and denigrating all those who spoke up based on truth, like Mimi – would it have been better not to post this interview?

                      I think not.

                      Would it open up any debate to be silent? Or, do you think you can achieve anything behind the curtain with kind words?

                      I don’t think so because the structures that enable the abuse of power were formed and work now for many many years and they and the underlying indoctrination and justifications are very strong. For most people from Rigpa there is more to be lost than won by being open for questioning the whole system and these matters. The system is rigid not flexible which is demonstrated also by the strong denials of their recent press release though Rigpa officials can openly agree with you when asked that all of this with the young ladies is true!

                      With respect to the healing process for a person being harmed by the abuse of power or sexual abuse – this is in general a very very long process. As part of it, to write about it (maybe with the wish to protect others from similar damage or just to give the experience a way out of the mind or with other motives) can be very much part of the healing process, and a stepping stone in it. To move beyond the stage of anger is even harder.

                      Some take years just to arrive at the stage of anger which comes, when you realise that it was not you who has done wrong but the perpetrator. It might take you years to deeply realise / feel / get clarity about that there is no need to blame yourself and to feel guilty or ashamed, to realise deep within your heart: “He was wrong, not I!” I spoke with a women who was in the fourth year of therapy and still blamed herself… She said, this is the step she has to learn first: “He was wrong, not I!” This is what she is working on for four years now with her therapist …

                      I think I would not expect too much. What you write about the process of healing for a “victim” sounds like wishful thinking or unrealistic to me. It can take decades(!) to heal. And being angry, though its not a virtuous mind, should be understood as a natural response that should invite compassion from an observer. That someone is angry (I don’t know if Mimi is angry, I didn’t think about it so far) should be no basis to put the person being harmed down or portraying the person as uncontrolled or backwards or accusing him or her directly or indirectly (indirectly by demanding too much!) of not having have finished the process of healing.

                      However, I am no therapist. I am not a psychologist. Maybe I am totally wrong. So I am open to be corrected.
                      However, I listened to people who have been harmed by sexual abuse or the abuse of power, I try to understand them. And I do the same with those who created such harm. This is where I come from.

                    • To understand these dynamics better, maybe this speech by MP Michelle Thomson can help:
                      http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-38253461

                    • as I have said several times, the focus on individuals can sometimes obscure the wider issues – the people traumatised by this abuse of power may be working through their experience, the community as a whole is not limited in its view or response.

                      it is interesting that you say you don’t know about the qualities of Sogyal’s teachings – I do not suggest that the voices of the abused should be silent, rather, that there are many perspectives that can be explored.

                      my own viewpoint has been influenced by several “dakinis” who have experienced abuse and who have attained what I consider to be a degree of realisation. the consensus is generally that a lawsuit is the best way to aim at some concept of justice, but that failing that, the campaigning can become vengeful and it is one persons word against another – this is not beneficial for anyone, not only because it can lead to a stalemate, but also because it addresses the surface phenomena rather than the underlying structure.

                    • Abuse can be only stopped by someone who is more powerful or if people withdraw their support.

                      For that those people need some clarity … therefore, testimonies are as important as to listen to those being harmed by the abuse of power. If nobody listens to them, its still good to have testimonies easily accessible, isn’t it? Aren’t there good reasons for having testimonies easily accessible?

                      The problem with a law suit is that he spiritual leaders or teachers are operating in a legal gray zone. While it is against the law (in some countries like Germany) if a state licensed therapist has a sexual relationship with his or her client, self-appointed therapists or therapists who do not owe a state license for therapy are not legally chargeable, even if the abuser (ab)used promises of healing, religious or other concepts to manipulate a person or to lure a person into a sexual relationship. This legal gray zone hinders legal punishment in these cases. But this legal gray zone doesn’t make the actions morally ok or can deny the damage been done… Its just not legally covered.

                      —-
                      My opinion is influenced by “dakinis” who have been harmed. None of them told or claimed nor did I observe that they “attained a degree of realisation”.
                      —-

                      it is interesting that you say you don’t know about the qualities of Sogyal’s teachings

                      When I was in India for the first Global Buddhist Congregation, Rigpa organised an event there (which was not part of the official schedule/panels) where SR gave a speech. I was there at that time and I was rather shocked about what appeared to me as cheap psychological tricks to get people’s attention and to posit himself as powerful guru. This had nothing to do with Buddhism. It was so disgusting to watch and to experience that I and others left.

                      I am happy about all different types of perspective, and to explore them.

                      However, I will be oppose all types of relativism that undermine reasonable ethical judgements or that deny the pain and harm people have experienced or that humiliates or puts down those who have been harmed.

                      campaigning can become vengeful and it is one persons word against another – this is not beneficial for anyone,

                      Yes, campaigning can become vengeful and its everybody responsibility to not contribute to that.

                      BUT, only when there is a single case of abuse “it is one persons word against another”. Please note, here we speak and observe a repeated pattern of abuse. “No name” has made that already very clear and I agree in that with him. You see, I see this statement by you “it is one persons word against another” as relativism. Its not true. It are many voices that say quite the same and report about the same patterns. Moreover, some Rigpa officials have approved these accusations. So please don’t tell me or us, its “one persons word against another”.

                      Now, while you focussed so much on the possible damage of people speaking up or about the dangers of anger or “campaigning” (btw there is no campaign – at least not from my side nor do I think Mimi or Marion are campaigning) etc. please tell us about your insights about “the underlying structure”. I like to know more about that perspective.

                    • I have a similar issue with listening to Sogyal’s talks, they are very difficult to sit through, and as you say, they have nothing to do with Buddhism and are disgusting to watch, also for me very boring.

                      Everything I’ve written has been pointing to the underlying structure, and it would seem to indicate a wider problem for me, that even in this thread it is difficult to be clear – questions are asked the details of the story itself at the expense of the wider purpose and position the story occupies within consciousness.

                      So when I ask about the aims, you say that it is to give a voice and to bear witness to testimonies – but there is something unsaid here, and there seems to be some confusion.

                      In looking at the summary of Marion Dapsance’s book on the MaxMilo website, one writer sees it as unravelling the myths projected onto Buddhism by the tired and spiritually poor West, but in the very next paragraph, there is a quote from a Rigpa lecture by Sogyal grabbing a woman’s hair and shaking her head, saying, “I am your master, you are my slave. Oh, it may not be politically correct as you Westerners say, but in Tibet it’s like this, you have to submit totally.”

                      It seems either the West is at fault, naive and idealistic, or the Tibetans are feudal and medieval – consciousness has difficulty transcending binary oppositions.

                      The Rigpa press release exploits this confusion by claiming that the book unfairly targets Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Rigpa and Sogyal, and so they portray this as Rigpa defending Tibetan Buddhism in general as well as the reputation of the Dalai Lama.

                      The earlier comments on this page also reflect this confusion with some posters dismissing the entire edifice of Vajrayana, while others view it as a problem only with specific organisations.

                      This confusion also seems to be reflected in the interview between Marion Dapsance and Julia Mourri which you posted recently. There are a number of statements which are slightly true, but also myths, which when taken as a whole show up the kind of gaps that abusive Lamas are able to exploit.

                      We read that,
                      “In the minds of Westerners, Buddhism is… something perfectly rational.

                      …we Westerners think of Buddhism, as practiced for the purposes of personal development. The Asian masters propose rituals that are very complex and also in Tibetan. They summon deities and demand absolute devotion to the master.

                      I had to learn about Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture, but also about the Western religions that had made it possible to reclaim Buddhism and raise it to the rank of a “secular religion”.

                      Rather surprising for a spirituality that rejects materialism.”

                      Now, I do not agree with any of these statements, they are a distortion of partial truths both from the Western and the Tibetan viewpoints, and I see them as directly supporting the same confusion found in the quotation by Mimi in the initial sentence at the top of this page. This is why I started posting by questioning why this view went unchallenged, and which you agreed was idealistic. As I said, I see these gaps in the perception of Tibetan Buddhism as structural blind spots within which abuse is allowed to go unchallenged.

                      The issue of my focus is neither about the specific details of either the Western or Tibetan consciousness, but rather the position of the relationship between the two and the symbolic roles which lead to the misapprehended expectations from both sides.

                    • Hi Soenam,
                      thank you for this comment (I still have to read other comments by you).

                      … there is a quote from a Rigpa lecture by Sogyal grabbing a woman’s hair and shaking her head, saying, “I am your master, you are my slave. Oh, it may not be politically correct as you Westerners say, but in Tibet it’s like this, you have to submit totally.”

                      Wow, thank you for this. Incredible!

                      As far as I observed and witnessed, read or heard it, genuine masters don’t command a slavelike “devotion” as this quote demands it. The Buddhist texts on Guru devotion in Vajrayana context as well as the examples in biographies clearly show that students disagreed with their masters and even corrected them in public.

                      Actual this type of feudal-slavish obedience Sogyal demands is not what devotion is all about. For me it indicates an unhealthy submission that is a perversion of the meaning of devotion as understood in the Vajrayana context, and it plays with the tendency of many women in the west to be ready to submit themselves. Alex Berzin:

                      The Issue of Submission

                      Some Westerners enter relationships with spiritual teachers along the model of Catholic nuns who marry Jesus and vow total unquestioning obedience to higher authority. They feel that if they surrender, open their hearts, and let their mentors act through them, they will be able to serve the world. On a psychological level, this syndrome sometimes derives from low self-esteem and from feelings that self-worth comes from “belonging” to a spiritually superior being. Although the syndrome is more typical of women spiritual seekers in relation to male teachers, it often arises also in men.

                      Voluntary submission to an idealized person and the wish to belong to someone greater than themselves may easily open spiritual seekers to various forms of abuse. If abused, either sexually or in less severe ways, the experience may reinforce low self-opinions: they may feel that they deserved the bad treatment. Alternatively, the abuse may cause them subsequently to close their hearts to anyone else. On the surface, submission may seem like a loss of ego and therefore a Buddhist virtue. However, if the submission is for unconsciously gaining a sense of self-worth and for self-affirmation through belonging to someone greater, it undermines rather than strengthens a healthy sense of self. A feeling of self-worth comes primarily from acknowledging one’s own potentials and from using them to benefit others as much as one can.

                      Moreover, Western disciples who presume that Buddhism shares the Biblical approach to ethics may mistakenly imagine that Tibetan lamas morally judge them. This may lead to inappropriately introducing the concept of guilt into the dynamics of the relationship. If students fail to do everything their mentors ask, they feel guilty and unworthy. Therefore, fearing rejection because of being “bad disciples,” they feel they must submit without question and always obey.

                      From a Buddhist standpoint, behavioral cause and effect function without a higher authority passing judgment. A person avoids destructive behavior not because of fear of punishment, but because of wishing to avoid the suffering that unhealthy behavior brings. As explained above, obedience to laws created by God or promulgated by an elected legislature is a culturally specific virtue, not a universal one.

                      A healthy relationship with a spiritual mentor, then, does not entail submission or belonging to the mentor. Nor does it entail guilt-based obedience. One must differentiate clearly between being a mentor’s disciple and belonging to a mentor.

                      You write:

                      It seems either the West is at fault, naive and idealistic, or the Tibetans are feudal and medieval – consciousness has difficulty transcending binary oppositions.

                      Mhm. Neither exclusively the one nor the other, I think. I wouldn’t start with such a dichotomy because, I fear, it invites rather black and white patterns of thinking and these don’t help to understand the complexity of the whole issues. There are naivety and projections in the West and there seems to be a feudal pattern in this case and maybe in some other cases among some (I guess few) Tibetan teachers. There is also naivety and projections among Tibetans and a willingness of Westerners to submit to higher authorities … its a complex cross cultural issue / confusion.

                      The Rigpa press release exploits this confusion by claiming that the book unfairly targets Buddhism in general and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as Rigpa and Sogyal, and so they portray this as Rigpa defending Tibetan Buddhism in general as well as the reputation of the Dalai Lama.

                      They are very clever ;-) But in fact, those who wrote the statement exploit Buddhism, the Dharma and the reputation of the Dalai Lama to defend themselves at the costs of others.

                      The earlier comments on this page also reflect this confusion with some posters dismissing the entire edifice of Vajrayana, while others view it as a problem only with specific organisations.

                      I guess most Westerners didn’t understand the “entire edifice of Vajrayana” ;-) Therefore, what they criticise (or write= might just be their own naive or superficial understanding of Vajrayana. Most criticism I’ve read about Vajrayana told more about the lack of understanding of the writer than about Vajrayana. If there is any “confusion” in an earlier comment about Vajrayana please give a precise example and lets discuss it instead of making general assumptions or claims that can’t be addressed or investigated.

                      This confusion also seems to be reflected in the interview between Marion Dapsance and Julia Mourri which you posted recently. There are a number of statements which are slightly true, but also myths, which when taken as a whole show up the kind of gaps that abusive Lamas are able to exploit.

                      I agree with that.

                      We read that,
                      “In the minds of Westerners, Buddhism is… something perfectly rational.

                      …we Westerners think of Buddhism, as practiced for the purposes of personal development. The Asian masters propose rituals that are very complex and also in Tibetan. They summon deities and demand absolute devotion to the master.

                      I had to learn about Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture, but also about the Western religions that had made it possible to reclaim Buddhism and raise it to the rank of a “secular religion”.

                      Rather surprising for a spirituality that rejects materialism.”

                      I don’t agree with these very generalising claims either. When I read it, I wondered what forms the basis of such claims? What data there are to support these claims?

                      Now, I do not agree with any of these statements, they are a distortion of partial truths both from the Western and the Tibetan viewpoints, and I see them as directly supporting the same confusion found in the quotation by Mimi in the initial sentence at the top of this page. This is why I started posting by questioning why this view went unchallenged, and which you agreed was idealistic. As I said, I see these gaps in the perception of Tibetan Buddhism as structural blind spots within which abuse is allowed to go unchallenged.

                      I cannot really change the articles, can I? Therefore, we can discuss this only here in the comment section. As you see, I challenged / questioned at least the distorted concepts of “Dakini” and “crazy wisdom” a bit as transmitted in the articles which perpetuate – even strengthen – wrong myths and misconceptions. It is crucial to address these myths and misconceptions. I totally agree in that and I am happy if others or I find time to continue with this. (My last contributions were about the term “devotion” and the misconception that it means one has to “submit to a guru”.)

                      However, for me these misconceptions are not “blind spots” of “Tibetan Buddhism” but expressions of the ignorance of Westerners and in the worst case the result of the abuse of parts of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism to enable the abuse of power by an abusive Buddhist teacher. Its crucial to address as many as possible of these misconceptions and to clarify them. (Alex Berzin has done this already to a very wide and also very profound degree.)

                      The issue of my focus is neither about the specific details of either the Western or Tibetan consciousness, but rather the position of the relationship between the two and the symbolic roles which lead to the misapprehended expectations from both sides.

                      Cool. Then lets discuss. When I remember so far I addressed:

                      1) Dakini
                      2) devotion
                      3) Crazy wisdom
                      4) The Issue of Submission
                      5) some aspects of cross-cultural confusion

                      What else needs discussion or is there more to be said about these four issues?
                      Let’s try to follow a structured discussion. I lack time and for me its rather easy to loose the thread of the discussion.

                      HTH

                    • So where are you going with this Soenam? Is your final argument perhaps that Tib B is a medieval feudal system which allows the noble lords of the religion to have their evil and abusive way with gullible westerners who should’ve known better? If so, I think we’ve heard that argument before.

                    • No, No Name, I don’t have a final argument, I’m making it up as I go along, so thank you for this opportunity to develop some of these ideas.
                      I will spare you the patronising lecture on the entire history of western thought and just focus on one aspect as an example.

                      The idea of personal self-development is a consequence of romanticist individualism, which stands in opposition to rationalism.
                      Our current dominant world view seems to be a combination of both a scientific-materialist subject-object viewpoint taken from rationalism, and the concept of individuality taken from romanticism.

                      Buddhism does offer an alternative viewpoint on both of these issues precisely because it is not about rational self-development. Buddhism is critical of both a rationalist viewpoint and an individualist one, and yet Marion Dapsance is observing that this is a common view among westerners, and one which seems to be going unchallenged.

                      This opens up a huge space for potential exploitation, or simply just disillusionment – it is like a marketplace full of people wandering around with lots of money and time to invest, but who are quite unclear about what they want to buy.
                      On listening to Sogyal talk, he seems to promote this idea of the individual self who is seeking happiness, and of course many people are buying into that – and by contrast, Lamas who are not taking that easy path are not so popular – this is not the manipulation of only one person who has cleverly brought about the causes and conditions for their own selfish exploitation, it is an effect produced by the situation I am trying to describe here, and so it seems that the remedy to this situation is to tackle it on the level which will have an impact.

                    • “No, No Name, I don’t have a final argument, I’m making it up as I go along”
                      Sounds very like intellectual trolling
                      I”iwill spare you the patronising lecture on the entire history of western thought and just focus on one aspect as an example.”
                      Or ‘ I will just use one example to patronise you’
                      “The idea of personal self-development is a consequence of romanticist individualism, which stands in opposition to rationalism.”
                      Says who? So, was the Buddha to be a romantic individualists?
                      Your whole mail/ all your mails are rammed full of intellectual theorising. Are you here to help anyone or are you here to spout theories? Are you here to find solutions or to ramble on endlessly about your theories about dharma in the west? Are you here to help survivors or promote your ego?
                      Are you genuinely here to help or are you a troll?
                      Actually, either way, I don’t care. I have my space and don’t waste much time reading your posts- they drag me into old ways of thinking that no longer interest me. But I get the distinct impression that this is your intention.
                      In the words of the great Led Zeppelin song. “Ramble on”( give it a listen…..but don’t listen to the words; they’re pretty meaningless
                      Peace

    • I want to add here that Esolf comes from Central Asia. It is a strong belief there, that it is good for the life forces and the lifespan that a man comes in contact with the vaginal secrets of woman, especially of young woman. They call it Yin Shui (Vaginalsecrets), to enforce the Yang, the source of Power and longlife.

      And to have a haremlike club of young woman indicates unfaillable how strong the power and capacity of the haremholder is. It is a display of strength and so on.

      One should not forget the centralasian context the vast majority of tibetans seem to still live in.

      A strong leader is to be considered to be a very desirable attainment. It can show and indicate how great a family still is.

      Plus it shows clearly how little any western value would be accepted by centralasians ever.

      When I read the autobiographie of Chögyam Trungpa wife, Diane Mukpo, it came to my mind that
      of course a tibetan guy in Britain at that time was exposed to racism.
      They called immigrants wog and dago and so on.

      What better could be done then marry a girl from upperclass and have their daughters in bed, in return.

      Tibetans have lots of pride, with or without any visible cause for it. So why should a Tulku from a great centralasian clan be concerned with lower middle class philistine values?

      Almost every lousy rockstar can have his groupies, and nobody cares. Why should a tibetan nobleman do?

      Better give them a runaround!

      • dharmaanarchist says:

        To me it also looks very much like a groupie phenomenon that SR began to cultivate and use for his own convenience a long time ago. I find it most likely that he indeed believes that it’s a blessing for the girls and good for them too.

        And yes, I believe it has to do with this oriental machismo idea that a lot of sex with young girls is good for a man’s health. (hey, is it good for the long life of older women when they have a lot of sex with various young, handsome men???)

        • I find it most likely that he indeed believes that it’s a blessing for the girls and good for them too.

          Not so sure. I think he has some intelligence… though you never know how deep self-deception can go …
          ****
          Wish you all marry Christmas full of love and joy.

          • I have seen, even in Tibetan organisations that are considered more forward thinking, the women still serve, and are expected to be grateful for that “blessing”.

            • Blessings for what, for serving ?

              • yes Tenpel, there seems to be an idea of “good karma” by taking on certain jobs – when on retreat, there are a group of people who make sure the Lama is looked after, cooking for him, cleaning the room etc. – which can be a source of pride rewarded by closer proximity to the Lama.

                • Yes. The cult like organisations inflate the ego of their followers but in a way that binds them to the organisation and the guru (of whose grandiosity you become a part of: if the group is so special, you’re so special too). And then of course they claim the cult leader’s violent arbitrary outbursts are “skilful means” to subdue the ego (or to get the devil out of you) but in fact, these are not means to subdue the ego but to make followers obedient slaves – by manipulating their feelings of guilt and fear through arbitrary inconsistent actions. These feelings of guilt and fear are nothing else than the ego too. So at the end , the ego is not tamed or transformed, its just manipulated … The individual narcissism is replaced by a group narcissism or a “my guru is so special”-“I am also special”-narcissism. If you check carefully after a while, you can see you had been more sane before you entered the cult…

                  I don’t know how it is in Rigpa. It looks like there is a tendency to these patterns.

                • This isn’t cultish behaviour- it’s just normal set up in a society where these outdated roles still exist
                  If women make sandwiches at church, is it a cult?

                  • I agree. But it can be part of cultish behaviour- it depends…

                  • True what you say here No Name, it isn’t necessarily producing a cult – but to place it in context, people are believing they are accumulating “good karma” when they are, as you say, reinforcing outdated roles, instead of increasing awareness they are there possibly reinforcing unconscious habits which are disempowering, and which could make them vulnerable to exploitation.

                    Equally, for those Lamas who might take advantage of this, they too are stuck in their own cultural conditioning, disempowering others as a failed strategy to try to empower themselves.
                    At the very least, this seems to simply reinforce conditioning, so no progress is made.

                    • I agree with both of you. No name, »it isn’t necessarily producing a cult« … and you, »it could make them vulnerable to exploitation«, and »Lamas might take advantage of this« …

                      At the end its the mixture of plenty, complex conditions that creates a destructive, harming social system and to unthread it and to be just with one’s evaluation and judgement of it is rather hard work.

                • This imagined spiritual hierarchy , based on how much administration one does, is a fact of life in most religious communities

                  • Yes.

                    In our culture the motto seems to be, the more I work, the more I am. Or, I work, there for I am. (iWork=iAm). Moreover, there is a tendency to long for attention, love and feeling cherished and valuable / being worthy. These longings can serve as a basis for self-exploitation also in rather healthy groups. Especially in our culture were women are expected to sacrifice themselves in selfless service for others like husband, children, family and work. Dharma centre work is mostly done by a majority of women.
                    A psychologist observing the patterns at a (rather healthy) Dharma center known to her said: As long as the people working there don’t understand that they will never get the amount of gratitude and love they are longing for, the people working there will continue to behave in self-exploiting, unhealthy ways and will be unhappy and complaining.

                    So, all of these things are rather complex. You have hierarchy (which is not necessarily bad), you have inner factors, outer factors, cross cultural confusion. If on top of it a guru exploits all of this for his own sake …

          • I think he is very intelligent, very smart, lots of chupze. But what is Inelligence really?
            I know a few higly intelligent people, but it doesnt mean “social intelligence” or being wise or so.
            Mainly such intelligence ist related to a few specialized fields .

            Otherwise he lacks some intelligence because he destroys his own work regularly.

            I saw such a passage and discharge of people in my time in Rigpa only because of his behaviour, not that thing that people come and like and forget everything three days after, as it happens everywhere.

            He seems to be able to memorize the texts of contemporary tibetan master quite well and repeat them mixing it up with his own works in a very clever way, probably is there a few people in charge to select the best pieces of others for him to repeat.

            And there is lot of building a reputation within his followers with creating such legends that he cares day and night for his people and so on.

            As a example: I remember a teaching in Lerab Ling, and after it was done people lined up for the blessing.

            In his entourage were to people that informed him about certain followers coming next, so he could make jokes like: ” Oh ist smells like curry” here, when a cook came along and so on.
            He didnt know one of this people personally, but left the impression he knows almost everybody.

            Sure, only a little cuty trick, but we all fall easily prey to such tricks when we want to establish a high idealistic picture of someone, as all followers are permanently find to be compelled to, in order to see the Lama as the highest blessing.

            If its only create a cult i do not call it Dharma anymore.

            But be be fair: I observe a strong tendency by eastern and western followers to do so.

            It seems even to be considered outlandish behaviour if on gets not crazy about the lama, in some more western lay communities, and many Lamas seems to expect and desire such behaviour, as taught informally by other Lamas, when they exchange how to cope with western idiots äh students…..

            • Thank you, Adamo.

              The legend is rather the other way around, his people care day and night for him and so on ;-)

              In his entourage were to people that informed him about certain followers coming next, so he could make jokes like: ” Oh ist smells like curry” here, when a cook came along and so on.
              He didnt know one of this people personally, but left the impression he knows almost everybody.

              Interesting mechanism which fits well into the other stories.
              My manipulative and narcissist teacher built up an information spy network. All what new people said to her followers is being reported to the teacher. When those new people met the teacher, she was well informed and she used the amazement of the people (how could she know all of these details about me without ever having met me?) to leave the impression she has clairvoyance and super human powers. In that case such a behaviour is devastating because this type of deception goes into the direction of what is called a »great lie« and if you are a monk or nun and you have deliberately deceived the other to believe you have super human powers without that you have it, you commit a root defeat.

              The example given here by you seems not so heavy and could be interpreted also as a trial to relate to people. But at the end its a matter of intention and how its been done that determines if this is a type of deception or lie, just done for the sake of one’s reputation, respect or for material gain etc. (I fear the latter remembering other stories, and what I witnessed…)

              If it is so, true, it’s not Dharma anymore. Dharma is sticking to honesty, being guided by truthfulness.

              Westerners also want to have a very special guru, its a type of spiritual materialism. I want the best, the most impressive, most famous lama, I am a disciples of this great lama etc. If this egoistic and deluded longing combines with a lama who can serve that need and is intelligent enough to play the role and serve it … you will have a powerful self-deceptive system that fulfils the non-dharmic needs of both sides …

  7. Mary Finnigan wrote on Facebook about this article:

    Translated item from Le Novel Obs. Mimi (below) was one of Sogyal’s sex slaves for several years. She managed to extricate herself and has spoken about her experiences to me and to Marion Dapsance. There are errors in this item: Sogyal did not write The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Mimi’s father is misrepresented. He was horrified when she told him about her sexual relations with Sogyal. He left a 3 year retreat as a result and challenged Sogyal in a state of fury. Sogyal insisted that Mimi had demanded to have sex with him.

  8. Yesterday, ‘Dagblad Trouw’, a Dutch national newspaper that focusses on religion and philosophy, ran a background article on sexual abuse by Buddhists by religious reporter Koert van der Velde:

    http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/4464/Religie-filosofie/article/detail/4428096/2016/12/05/Door-de-meesters-van-de-zwijgzaamheid-wordt-misbruik-niet-gemeld.dhtml

    ‘Trouw’ is one of our biggest national newspapers, some 120.000 copies in print. It is well read by readers with a specific interest in religious matters and other journalists. The article presents much information on the sexual abuse by Thai Vipassana teacher Mettavihari, and also on Sogyal and Rigpa. The piece has two references to the recent ‘silent protest’ against Sogyal during his visit to Amsterdam (November 16th, 2016).

    Van der Velde also referred to my own investigative reporting on sexual abuse by Buddhists teachers, and quoted Dutch Buddhologist Henk Blezer.

    • Making quite a name for oneself eh Rob? Let’s hope for your sake your motives are pure. Otherwise, things could all go horribly wrong. Bon chance ;)

      • I asked him to share his this here, no name!

        • Rob no doubt leapt at the opportunity.

          • You speak as if you know who I am, No Name, whereas in fact we are complete strangers. So, first of all, who are you, really? Are your motives self-evidently pure?

            Do you read Dutch? Besides innuendos, do you have any specific questions or responses to the content of the article in Trouw?

            • Dearest. Rob
              In fact I know who you are and what you do. I also read what you’ve written and know about the harm you have caused to others, as well as the good. I know you are very fond of reading your own name and are driven by an ambition to be recognised as a Buddhist cult buster.
              My advice to you is to be careful about your motives and don’t harm others who disagree with you.
              Also, if you really want to do good, work anonymously; the desire for recognition poisons even the most seemingly pure actions
              Love to you
              Van Helsing

              • Mhm.

                I am not happy with these types of comments. I would prefer to stick what people say in their comments and just to comment that instead of judging their personality – even if you have background information. (Though to know about the background is valuable.)

                It’s especially unfair – I feel – if someone posts under his real name to attack or question his personality as an anonymous contributor.

                Another thing, being anonymous or not – I don’t trust much anonymous people. To increase the credibility of my own work I decided to not to hide my identity- who is running the blog. Though this brought me under attack. So not being anonymous can be as good or bad as contributing anonymously.

                At the end it’s a matter of motivation & discrimination what is best in the long run.

                I would like to ask you, no name, to stick to the topic and to restrain to judge or to attack the character of people contributing here.

                What matters for the reader is the content related to the topic.

                Thank you.

                • Well, I think you know how I work Tenzin and whether or not I’ve been successful
                  It’s a bit like when your quarry is sitting round a campfire- if they get shot at from the dark,they don’t know where the enemy is, how many of them there are etc etc. If they know who and where you are, it limits your portential in several ways Otoh, I understand your approach and respect. For me, anonymity stops me seeking reputation or fame, something which can be a very powerful drug which feeds ego. That’s why I advise others to do the same
                  As to your request, I agree

                • dharmaanarchist says:

                  Then ban comments under a real name, as some internet forums do.

                  • Thank you for this suggestion. But in a way, I feel its the person’s responsibility to decide not mine. What I ban is if one person uses different names to manipulate a discussion. I think for using real name or pseudonym – for both cases there are good reasons and both cases can be abused. Therefore, I think its better to leave the decision in the hand of the contributor.

                    • dharmaanarchist says:

                      The problem with people using real names on the internet is also, a not so very wellmeaning human could usurp the identity of someone else.

                    • Thank you. True. There is opportunity for abuse in both ways. The tendency is to force people rather to use their real name. Some US media force you to use a Facebook account for comments. Facebook forces people to use real names. The tendency is clearly away from anonymous posting due to such and similar policies, isn’t it?

              • There is no such thing as anonymous journalism, as I’m sure you know No Name. Also, there’s no transparency in anonymous innuendo, nor sincerity. I gather you’re not at all interested in discussing the content of the Trouw article, so let’s leave it at that.

                • Anonymous are one of the most powerful lobbying groups on the planet
                  While the world enters into a new era of ‘cyber war’ the overwhelming number of cyber warriors remain anonymous
                  Some of the worlds greatest authors employ pseudonyms
                  Some of the worlds worst crimes and criminals have been exposed by anonymous whistleblowers
                  Never underestimate the power of anonymity

  9. This is a link to a video of the ‘silent protest’ against Sogyal before his lecture at RAI Amsterdam, November 16th, 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ55RVzCf6U&t=44s

  10. There is a letter with an attached press statement on Rigpa’s Lerab Ling web-site, which can be found here. https://lerabling.org/images/PDFs/2016/RIGPA-Press-Release-September-2016.pdf

    I am commenting on the version there today (December 10), but this is the third version of the document that I have seen posted there although confusingly they are all dated 17 October 2016 and there is no indication that the document has been edited. The first version was signed by Dominique Side, Head of the Congregation Rigpa Lerab Ling and Sam Truscott, General Manager – Lerab Ling Retreat Centre. The second version only had Sam Truscott’s name on it. The third version had Sam Truscott’s name plus Judith Soussans, Public Relations Manager – Rigpa / Lerab Ling. It may get edited again, but I assure you that the quotes below have been taken from the letter and press statement as found today without any editing by me. I also downloaded and kept all three versions. It is interesting to compare them and think about why it keeps being altered.

    I could write a lot about this response and I may do later, but for now I want to point out a couple of things. The letter states (referring to Sogyal Rinpoche).

    “But in the face of false accusations and criticisms, 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.”

    Then the press statement attached to the letter states (referring to Marion Dapsance’s book, ‘Les dévots du bouddhisme’).

    “Both Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche categorically reject the assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour that have been made in this book.”

    Sogyal Rinpoche says he has no wish to retaliate or respond, and also says he categorically rejects what has been said about him. This is contradictory and nonsensical.

    He categorically rejects everything! Are we really supposed to believe that people all over the world just decided to lie about Sogyal Rinpoche?

    The truth does seem to slip out at one point in this letter. It says.

    “We are now confronted with a real problem: how can we face these false accusations, show them to be false and reaffirm to the public who we really are and what we stand for? How should we respond to a bona fide witch hunt orchestrated by a tiny handful of people whose claims do not in any way reflect the experience of the overwhelming majority of people who actually know Sogyal Rinpoche and the work that Rigpa does?”

    In saying that the claims do not reflect the experience of the overwhelming majority, Rigpa is, I assume unintentionally, confirming that a minority will have experienced what is alleged. Sexual abuse does not have to affect the overwhelming majority before it becomes unacceptable. The way Rigpa is responding to these allegations is affecting many people, even if the ‘overwhelming majority’ in Rigpa are going along with Sogyal Rinpoche’s categorical rejection of everything negative that has been said about him.

    If the letter gets edited for a fourth time, I assure you that all the quotes above are exactly as I found them today.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      Mmh, even within Rigpa SR’s promiscuous lifestyle is a well known fact, even if it’s a bit of a shamefully hushed up pseudo-secret.

      Now considering that even in a worldly context most women are not happy in “open relationships”, common sense has to tell you that among the surely hundreds of females involved in the previous decades, some must have been less than satisfied in the end. To express it in the most neutral terms possible.

      This hypocritical claim of “oh, he has done absolutely nothing to bring this upon himself” is apalling.

      • It is difficult for me to express what I felt when I saw that Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche had categorically rejected the assertions of abuse and cult like behaviour described in Marion Dapsance’s book, ‘Les dévots du bouddhisme.’ Either Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche are lying or all the people who described abusive and cult like behaviour are lying. What kind of organisation, other than a cult, would organise such an obviously dishonest cover up?

        • Yes. This is very painful.

          By claiming all the allegations are untrue, Rigpa accuses those who were harmed by SR and Rigpa and who spoke up and made their story and experiences of manipulation, power abuse (incl. sexual abuse) etc known (or who reported about it to give them a voice or to stop the abuse of power etc), to be liars and part of a conspiracy / “Campaign”. This means Rigpa & SR try to rescue their own reputation by attacking and slandering those who reported about the harm SR and Rigpa have inflicted on the faithful.

          On top of it Rigpa white washes SR’s/Rippa’s own misbehaviours with the Dharma, claiming to be superior to the world by “develop[ing] compassion to its very fullest extent, and thereby emulate the courage, benevolence and big-heartedness of the great saints of the past”. While in fact the compassion with those human beings they have harmed is very weak or non-existent and the whole statement is using lies and slander to defend the own fame and reputation.

          Could it get more non-dharmic?

          On the other hand, I am not surprised. A women told me how she witnessed how Sogyal boasted in a pool about being a supreme Dzogchen master and how better he is than Namkai Norbu Rinpoche, whom he ridiculed. (Can’t remember the exact words the lady heard…) When she told the story I remembered immediately the first Bodhisattva root vow, not to praise yourself or denigrate others out of attachment for fame and material gain. My thoughts were: “what is this for a ‘master’ if he is so unaware of even the very first Bodhisattva root vow, that aims to tame the coarsest aspect of ego clinging?”

          Therefore, I didn’t expect ethical behaviours. Sadly, the Rigpa defence is rather fitting well in the over all image. I wished it were the other way around and Rigpa had proved me to be wrong in my judgements of the situation.

          I would be far more happy to be proved wrong and to honestly excused than seeing more and more that my judgements seem to be rather correct.

          • To point out the overall tactic:

            Rigpa has only pure motivations and critics are hard-headed close minded people with only sinister motivations as expressed among others in the press releases’ final sentence:

            It is probably futile to even attempt to debate with those who seem primarily motivated by their desire for fame and sensationalism. Instead, Rigpa will remain focussed on its core mission to present the wisdom and compassion of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings in ways that are most beneficial to the lifestyle and needs of modern men and women.

            “We are so pure, others are so impure!”

            I know that defence tactic from the New Kadampa Tradition against their critics. This tactic of claiming only pure motivations for oneself while attacking critics to have only sinister or impure motivations turns the whole factual debate into a motivation debate which makes the debate more tricky because how can you prove motivations to be pure/impure or good/bad?

            Because the facts can’t be denied (that women and men have been harmed by the abuse of power) the tactic is to change to the personal level and to attack critics on the personal level. While Rigpa accuses the critics not to be open for debate, it is Rigpa who is not open for debate. All the arguments they throw on the critics fall back on them – attachment for fame, reputation, not being open for debate, lying and slander. Übertragung würde der Psychologe vielleicht sagen. Transference might be the diagnosis by a psychologist, the redirection of own feelings and modes of behaviour to the other.

            • “Transference might be the diagnosis by a psychologist, the redirection of own feelings and modes of behaviour to the other.”

              Yes Tenpel, I agree completely with this and this have been trying to address this in my posts. Finding an adequate response is problematic and the issue is often misunderstood by psychologists, it is all too easy to get “caught in the counter-transference”, for example, a situation where each party questions the purity of other’s motivation results in an infinite loop of speculation, claims and counter claims, with both sides becoming increasingly frustrated and outraged, no proofs can ever be final and no ground can be established – at least for the imaginary, egoic mind – creating the illusion of a post-truth universe.

              The way out of the transference is to suspend judgement and take things at face value, so let us assume for a moment that Sogyal does really believe that what the undisciplined westerners need is a master like him to show them the way, that he truly believes what he is doing is beneficial and is able to rationalise away the accusation of abuse by the partial truth that the “stupid westerners” are themselves blind to their own motivations.

              This suggestion is by definition unimaginable to us as we do not share this perspective, however he cannot see this if his point of view is entirely defined by the feudal hierarchy that seems to accompany Tibetan culture.

              The fact that this is unimaginable to us is also an indicator of our own blindness – we uphold an ideal of egalitarianism, and yet we (westerners) also freely engage in dominance behaviours that often are unacknowledged unless they transgress the law and are prosecuted.

              It comes as no surprise then that those most complicit in the Rigpa organisation are the aspirational middle classes such as doctors, lawyers, etc. who are enticed by the lure of a secret inner circle of the powerful elite.

              The fact that these two blind spots overlap in Tibetan and Western cultures is what creates the conditions for this situation to develop and to be maintained.

              Viewed in these terms, it seems that the claims against Sogyal – that he is a power mad dictator who enjoys exploiting his power – would actually run the risk of increasing his high profile status as a Vajrayana “wizard” – he is the Donald Trump of Tibetan politics!

              • As I suggested
                NO NAME says:
                December 10, 2016 at 8:54 am
                So where are you going with this Soenam? Is your final argument perhaps that Tib B is a medieval feudal system which allows the noble lords of the religion to have their evil and abusive way with gullible westerners who should’ve known better? If so, I think we’ve heard that argument before.

                And now here It is, I rest my case- intellectual troll with a grudge against Tibetan Buddhism is my diagnosiss

                “This suggestion is by definition unimaginable to us as we do not share this perspective, however he cannot see this if his point of view is entirely defined by the feudal hierarchy that seems to accompany Tibetan culture.

                The fact that this is unimaginable to us is also an indicator of our own blindness – we uphold an ideal of egalitarianism, and yet we (westerners) also freely engage in dominance behaviours that often are unacknowledged unless they transgress the law and are prosecuted.”

              • Hi Sonam.
                I see. I can understand why you like this term because you said in your last comment:

                The issue of my focus is neither about the specific details of either the Western or Tibetan consciousness, but rather the position of the relationship between the two and the symbolic roles which lead to the misapprehended expectations from both sides.

                Ok. True. Transferences are at work in this context. Alex Berzin’s book speaks a lot about that. So there is good material already out there, that deals with that. I agree that accusing each other of the purity of one’s motivation is a senseless approach and will highly likely lead to what you describe here “infinite loop of speculation, claims and counter claims, with both sides becoming increasingly frustrated and outraged, no proofs can ever be final and no ground can be established”.

                I prefer that’s why to focus on facts and have very often criticised here on the blog for judging others’ motivation. Though sometimes I speculated or judged also the motivation of others but I did this based on what the person really said, when I felt, this expresses his motives or I did this based on clearly visible patterns of behaviour which indicated for instance hostility or a superior view of oneself etc. So it is not totally unreasonable to think, speculate and jugde others’ motivations but it is harder because the mind and the motivation can’t be seen (for those who do not have clairvoyance) and you have to deduce motivations from physical and verbal behaviours. Projections can easily misguide you. The whole set of accusation of the New Kadampa followers against the Dalai lama was an example par excellence for transference.

                So, being careful in this area is reasonable. However, I don’t agree with you, that

                The way out of the transference is to suspend judgement and take things at face value,

                Suspending judgement is not the way, I think. The way is to get aware of your own motivations, needs, desires, thoughts. To get aware what you expect and why you are so frustrated. For this you need to see that, to get aware of it. Then you have to see, where the other person is coming from – which needs a lot of knowledge and openness to understand + a lack of bias. Then you have to put all of these (+ cultural background knowledge) together and you must try to understand the whole as what it is. How can you understand without evaluating the information you have gathered and judging it? Of course, it should be a careful judgement. Buddhist ethics function based on judgements. By asking to suspend judgement you are basically calling for suspending ethics. (I don’t say that it can’t be useful to suspend judgement or to question judgement and to see its relativity.)

                so let us assume for a moment that Sogyal does really believe that what the undisciplined westerners need is a master like him to show them the way, that he truly believes what he is doing is beneficial and is able to rationalise away the accusation of abuse by the partial truth that the “stupid westerners” are themselves blind to their own motivations.

                This is a hypothesis and you ask me to suspend my judgement to evaluate this hypothesis? By suspending my judgement and following blindly this thesis you can lead me to utterly absurd non-existing realities. I won’t follow that and I will question this thesis. BTW, just to bring some quick cracks in your thesis, it follows the young Mimi didn’t have the motivation to be closer to her father but she wanted to be in bed with Sogyal. Having understood that this “stupid westerner”, Mimi, is herself blind to her own motivation, Sogyal and Rigpa – out of sheer kindness – helped her finally to be in bed with Sogyal. I guess you can explain why Sogyal doesn’t share his kindness to be in bed with him with less pretty and less young ladies?

                So how can I evaluate this statement by suspending judgement?

                However, I see, you want to lead me to totally utter grounds, after having asked me (and others) to suspend our judgement:

                This suggestion is by definition unimaginable to us as we do not share this perspective, however he cannot see this if his point of view is entirely defined by the feudal hierarchy that seems to accompany Tibetan culture.

                The fact that this is unimaginable to us is also an indicator of our own blindness – we uphold an ideal of egalitarianism, and yet we (westerners) also freely engage in dominance behaviours that often are unacknowledged unless they transgress the law and are prosecuted.

                You miss some points here, Sonam: 1) you find the same with non-Tibetan leaders who abuse their power, so you don’t need a “feudal hierarchy” to enable such harming systems. Therefore, it can’t be a matter “entirely defined by the feudal hierarchy”… 2) aristocrats from the royal family of Bhutan as well as Tibetan aristocrats have clearly expressed their utter disgust and horror about Sogyal’s behaviour, therefore “feudal hierarchy” doesn’t condone that behaviour [if it is correct to speak of Tibet as a feudal society is controversial btw], 3) There are very good, compassionate and kind Tibetan lamas and teachers with not the slightest similarities like what he is doing, so if it were a matter of “feudal hierarchy” it should be widespread but I can’t see that. It seems not to be widespread.

                So, I wonder where your thesis – which you asked me not to judge – will lead me?

                It comes as no surprise then that those most complicit in the Rigpa organisation are the aspirational middle classes such as doctors, lawyers, etc. who are enticed by the lure of a secret inner circle of the powerful elite.

                The fact that these two blind spots overlap in Tibetan and Western cultures is what creates the conditions for this situation to develop and to be maintained.

                You can find aspirational middle classes such as doctors, lawyers etc also in Scientology or other groups with power abuse. Its not a matter of “feudal hierarchy” that enables that. Your thesis is not tenable because there are so many counter examples where the same or similar things happen(ed) without a “feudal hierarchy”-background. However, I could imagine that Sogyal, being from an aristocratic family, might have indeed “feudal hierarchy”-tendencies or at least feels a liking to them. It is true, that Tibetan society is a lot about hierarchy (a very complicated too) and this creates some order but also some problems… However, not all Tibetan aristocrats behave like Sogyal. Therefore, you can’t put the blame solely on a supposed “feudal hierarchy”-background, can you?

                However, it would be similar wrong to leave considerations of Tibetan society and Western society and cross cultural transferences out of the discussion or not to consider them or take them into consideration… But (see my thoughts above), I find it not convincing to see “feudal hierarchy” as the core problem.

                Viewed in these terms, it seems that the claims against Sogyal – that he is a power mad dictator who enjoys exploiting his power – would actually run the risk of increasing his high profile status as a Vajrayana “wizard” – he is the Donald Trump of Tibetan politics!

                The Donald Trump in Western presentations of Tibetan Buddhism or the Donald Trump among Tibetans, yes. One can see it that way. (BTW, this is a judgement, isn’t it?) But with the label “Donald Trump of Tibetan politics”? I have some problems, because its not Tibetan politics what he is doing. It is his very own matter, based on his own mental drives and status. It would be also good to consider, he has almost NO Tibetan follower or Tibetan disciples, similar to Ole Nydahl. So its not so much a matter of Tibetan politics but of Westerners who allow him to fool themselves. So I arrive now at this thesis: “He is the Tibetan Donald Trump for the Western middle class that seeks salvation and has suspended critical thinking and judgement”.

                What he does in that context has nothing to do with Vajrayana. He is also no Vajrayana “wizard”. It looks like, he abuses Vajrayana and the teacher-student-relationship to form a universe of obedient, slavish, uncritical followers, and his followers allow him to do that. I have Vajrayana teachers who don’t do that at all. So its mainly his story and that of those who follow him. Though I would agree, there is a high potential for abuse in that context!

                • And “The fact that these two blind spots overlap in Tibetan and Western cultures is what creates the conditions for this situation to develop and to be maintained” is the old ‘exonerate the guilty party by claiming abuse is a dependant arising” argument: if there is no victim there is no abuser, the victim therefore creates the abuser.
                  While from the viewpoint of karma, this might be a valid argument ( or not) from the relative worldly viewpoint it is as arrogant as the argument that, because women wear provocative clothing, they are ‘asking’ to be raped; it’s their own fault. Which is good old fashioned bs by the way.
                  The logical conclusion to that argument is to dress women in black cloaks ( sound familiar) or, in a Buddhist context, for young western female students not to associate with Tibetan lamas.
                  Using high falutting intellectual terminology doesn’t hide your actual position Soenam. It doesn’t take an intellectual to detect the strong sense of bs and bigotry

                  • Abuse is dependent arising and dependent arising can’t be neglected when considering abuse.

                    However, if dependent arising leads to blaming any party, I am of the opinion, then it is not really well understood and the misunderstanding will delude and misguide oneself and it will increase the afflictions like anger, hate or ignorance and attachment etc. However, if dependent arising is applied correctly, it overcomes confusion and therefore it overcomes the basis and the fuel of the afflictions. As a result you are able to understand, to let go, you learn something, you can’t really blame any party, your mind settles and there will be peace and not an increase of the afflictions. Therefore, seen from that perspective, it would be absurd to claim in the context of a sober understanding and application of dependent arising “the victim therefore creates the abuser”.

                    Dependent arising helps excellently to understand abuse! Here a very brief analysis going into this direction: Because there was sexual desire and low compassion on the side of the offender and he is / was not able to master these … and because there was a deluded, manipulative social system created by confused people that undermines critical thinking, intuition and sane judgments, making additionally the leader an unquestionable authority, and because there was naivety or confusion on the side of the person being harmed, and because there were also some karmic forces (though hard to say what exactly here is karma and what is just cause and effect) the abuse happened. If you see it that way, its easy to have compassion for all those involved. Neither you denigrate the person being harmed, nor do you blame anybody. You can also see that the offender is a victim of his uncontrolled mind. If you see the context of the offender, its obvious that he might not have receive the needed help or is resistant to receive such help (due to arrogance for instance).

                    To make it clear – though you address Sonam here – what you say here is 100% not my thinking at all.

                    I am a big fan of considering dependent arising. It is that which helped me to understand the power and spiritual abuse I and other experienced in the NKT and with two abusive spiritual teachers (one Tibetan, one Westerner). I do neither blame myself, nor do I blame them. I understand what happened, why it happened, what was my part it it. If you see the complexity of the situation the abuse is as natural as a natural disaster, e.g. an earthquake. You won’t complain about or blame the earthquake, you just understand, when all these conditions come together, this will happen. Therefore, you can accept it, even though it can be so painful… On top of it, it enables you to have compassion for yourself and for the person who harmed you. (This compassion might need some additional thoughts like: “at that time I (or he/she) couldn’t do it better. I (or he/she) was stuck in these emotions and I (or he/she) became a victim of these emotions (or afflictions, skt. kleshas).” If you understand how powerless you (or others) are under the influence of kleshas, it is easy to have compassion. And then you wish you can get rid of the control of the kleshas, to be free from kleshas, and also that others are free from the kleshas and their grasp on them. Reading Shantideva’s chapter on patience can help tremendously…)

                    • Tenpel wrote, “As a result you are able to understand, to let go, you learn something, you can’t really blame any party, your mind settles and there will be peace and not an increase of the afflictions. Therefore, seen from that perspective, it would be absurd to claim in the context of a sober understanding and application of dependent arising “the victim therefore creates the abuser”.

                      Dependent arising helps excellently to understand abuse!”

                      Emaho! This, and the rest of the post is flawless – thank you for these insights Tenpel.

                    • My point was that Soenam appeared to be justifying inaction/blaming the victim by using the argument of dependent arising.
                      Of course, I am in full agreement that it is an excellent means of understanding how and why appearances arise. However, to use it to justify inaction where abuse is occurring is to turn a god into a demon

                    • no name – I didn’t propose inaction or blaming anyone. I was just trying to work out a strategy that might be more effective at addressing the issues raised than just aimless ranting.

                    • Hi Soenam, no name & Adamo!
                      Thank you for your comments.

                      @no name:

                      Its interesting to see how what Soenam wrote appeared to you and how it appeared to me. I didn’t perceive it as justifying inaction/blaming the victim. When I read your comment, I thought, mhm, maybe you have a better detector of subtle traces of such instances than I?

                      From my side, I try just to take it as it is and to make sense out of it. Points I understand and accept I says so, points that seem to be not well thought out, illogical or incorrect, I say so too.

                      As Soenam also said, it seems that Soenam just wants to make sense of these topics and their backgrounds and tries to find another (a better) strategy in working through these topics. He/she might come from a total different angle than you or me. This might be a bit unexpected or unusual and might need effort to get used to it – or to tune into it.

                      But it won’t serve the discussion to put Soenam into a box of categories of commentators which we know already or which we are used to. It seems that Soenam doesn’t fit into those categories we are used to here on the blog or from our backgrounds.

                      There were times where I thought Soenam is “the Netherland troll” whom we had already banned from the blog and I was on the edge to block Soenam. Then I checked the IPs and thought about some points. This idea was not really consistent, so I dropped that idea. At times I thought, Soenam might be a troll from another forum/blog who wants to gather statements from us/me in order to use it in another context (against the blog or against me). There were also times where I though Soenam might be a Rigpa follower that just wants to acquaint with us – going along a bit into our direction of thinking – and then pulling us into the Rigpa view. So I have also to struggle with my understanding where Soenam is coming from.

                      At the end, if nothing of our usual modes of dealing with or judging unexpected or uncommon comments works, I think openness and assuming good faith is the better response (except we have clarity about we are dealing with a troll or someone with a sinister or questionable motivation) because with such an approach we don’t risk to hurt others or we don’t risk to put them down, especially if they are truly, honestly struggling with a topic. Therefore I agree with Adamo, when she writes: “But when trying to understand what he wants to say might be open up [y]our mind a little bit.”

                      My motto is in general: its easier to condemn others than to understand others. (“Es ist leichter andere zu verurteilen als andere zu verstehen.”) Therefore, I try to put my effort in trying to understand others. This is good for nourishing a humanitarian attitude as well as for increasing one’s understanding and learning. There is more to learn by trying to understand the other side than charging it. I love the motto of Hannah Arendt: “I want to understand!”.

                    • dharmaanarchist says:

                      Bad publicity in this case is also a question of dependent arising.

                      If SR didn’t have a promiscuous lifestyle, there wouldn’t be ex-es with a bone to pick (for whatever reason) and nobody would write derogatory articles about his sex life.

                      I mean, nobody writes derogatory articles about the sex life of lay lamas like Dzongsar Khyentse or Sakya Trizin. Why? Because they do not leave behind a trail of ex sexual partners. Even if he was not exploiting or pressuring his bed partners in any way, with so many ex-es, there have to be some with an axe to grind afterwards. Why? When a sexual and emotional relationship ends it’s not always peace and harmony because very often the end is not by mutual agreement and the end is caused by the dissatisfaction of one of the two. With so many ex partners, some have to have left dissatisfied.

                      Even if there had not been any exploitation or pressuring, what happens is still SR’s very own responsibility because in our society a “Casanova act” like that just simply doesn’t fly and is the cause for all the bad publicity and accusations.

                      Even if all those young women had come to him by their own initative, if he was great in bed and he didn’t pressure or manipulate them in any way, shape or form it would still be morally wrong towards those women in most cases because he allows the girls to get into a lot of expectations that have to be disappointed in the end. Which is causing them pain. Relationships without much expectation is really advanced, if tons of people could do it, we didn´t need monastic orders.

                  • Please noname, consider that Soenam might not have your ability to express him/herself, and your eloquency, as it appears to me.
                    She/he might not even be a an native english speaker, as i am. Please try to understand what he tries to say by the meaning and not by all possible weaknesses he provide while speaking here.

                    Of course, what is written offers a lot of theoritical gaps to plow it down. But when trying to understand what he wants to say might be open up your mind a little bit.

                    The blog is not about being right or wrong, verbally.

                    I appreciate your comments really, but please be downtoearth, if possible.

                    • I. Just can’t hack intellectual theorising about people’s pain. If you get struck by an arrow, don’t ask questions; pull it out!
                      Talk doesn’t cook the rice as they say
                      But thanks
                      I will not pay too much attention from now as excessive theorising really twists my melon
                      All this theorising. It’s so…..German;)

                    • He he he, its so German ;-)

                    • Yes Tenzin, you’re quite right: Soenams approach differs from what we are used to. I am guilty of seeing this blog as a place where abuse is exposed and debated, hopefully with the intention of bringing it out into the open and ending it. I have never considered it a place for intellectual speculation and theorising. It remains to be seen as to what value such theorising holds and what its outcome may be. Personally, I am more concerned with ending suffering. Of course, tto end suffering we must first understand it’s cause. I note frequently and in the West, the tendency to dwell on suffering and its causes rather than emphasising bringing it to an end. I sincerely hope that all the discussion you engage in with Soenam will be effective in that regard. However, as they say, I will not be holding my breath.
                      Just to remind you….,
                      “It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him”
                      This Buddhist parable from the short Malunkyovada Sutta might prove relevant.

                    • Thank you no name. We seem to have different approaches.

                      Since I don’t know the people who comment, I take them seriously and assume good faith as good as possible. Behind comments are human beings and I don’t want to give people bad feelings or hurt them. On the other hand I have to balance that this doesn’t invite trolling, downplaying, attacking, slander, propaganda, manipulation etc. or that people abuse the openness to start endless discussions that are not related to the topic only consuming our and the readers’s attention thereby undermining a straight forward discussion.

                      So, while you are concerned with ending suffering I am also concerned not to contribute to new suffering. That’s why I have a looser approach and maybe more tolerance with unexpected things or new voices. You never know where the other is and what his or her situation is. To give the other a chance I see of paramount importance. This is based also on experiences.

                      To give an example: When the New Kadampa Survivor Forum started, the exchange was greatly undermined by NKT followers who either spread propaganda, tried active conversion or tried to discredit the moderators; or these “NKT trolls” went a bit along with the thinking of individuals who sought clarity until faith was built up and then tried to turn these people’s mind again to the NKT view. It needed a lot of time, energy and analysis to understand who is a troll/NKT propagandist and who is not.
                      Maybe we also made faults, but we did our best. At one occasion an NKT nun wrote comments. It sounded all totally like NKT propaganda, and the moderators were of the opinion to ban her. We were in contact via email. I checked the comments and replied, that its true that this sounds all like NKT propaganda but the person seems to have an honest spiritual quest and seems to be genuine in trying to understand but might not be able to express herself better than in the common NKT agit prop language (or “NKT newspeak”). So, I recommended to give her a chance and to let us see how it unfolds. It had been easier to ban her or to accuse her of being an “NKT troll” than investing all of this time and effort. It turned out in the long run, that it was as I assumed it is, and in the long run the person could be really helped to get out of the NKT. Not only this, the person became a main contributor in educating people about the NKT.

                      You see, being careful, investing time & energy, having some restraint, being generous in dealing with what appears to be short comings or limitations. , having patience, giving rather the benefit than following the doubt can be extremely beneficial for the individual and for the community. It can be also exploited. And even if this approach is more exploited than bringing benefit. When this approach works for one or two persons and doesn’t harm them, for me, its still a good approach. Alex Berzin stressed in his talks: behind these pseudonyms, avatars are REAL people. So act with compassion and kindness to them. I agree with him.

                    • As yo so ightly observe, our approaches are different. I tend to rely on my own wisdom and intuition. I am not a very compassionate or patient person. but we’re all cool here, no big problems ( for now)

                    • In response to no name,

                      Firstly, Mimi directly describes the peer pressure she felt in the group and also how her perceptions clashed with the reality of the power structures in Rigpa, so it seems to me something to be addressed.

                      What she does not reveal is her innermost feelings as would be appropriate in a private therapy session. It seems to me that focusing on her perceived suffering is not only speculative theorising, but also runs the risk of being somewhat invasive.

                      Secondly, you maintain that your focus is on ending the suffering by bringing it out into the open.

                      What you do not seem to consider, and which I questioned, is the fact that Sogyal’s abuse has been out in the open for over 20 years now – the Janice Doe case was in 1994 – and it has shown no signs of ending.

                      When I scroll through the comments of this thread, what I see is you challenging the others posting here, not only myself, but also Laughingdakini and Rob Hogendoorn. You also seem opposed to any attempts to focus on what Marion Dapsance has written.

                      While insisting that your sole focus is on ending the suffering, you actually seem to be getting sidetracked into debates where you refute other people’s ideas and offer nothing in return.

                      What do you actually propose should be done to achieve this aim to end the suffering?

                    • In some cases, therapy. In others, publicily exposing abuse. In others, legal action and compensation.In all cases, practice the path.
                      I have no comments or opinions on Dapsance, my motives with Hagendoorn were good and sometimes I disagree with laughing dakini, other times not.
                      I am honoured that you have scrolled through things and built up a case against me. Well done!
                      Please feel free to continue if you wish. But only if it makes you happy
                      Sit well

                    • No Name wrote – “In some cases, therapy. In others, publicily exposing abuse. In others, legal action and compensation.”

                      It would seem that all of the approaches you mention have already been used in this case, with varying degrees of success.
                      It is interesting that they also seem to exclusively focus on cure rather than prevention.
                      It does highlight some of the obstacles to raising self-awareness.

                    • Public exposure can be a means of prevention. But to stop the abuse of power needs certain dynamics which have not occurred yet. It looks like, in general only a sentence or the death of the leader can collapse powerful systems in which the abuse of power is predominant. Sometimes abusive systems collapse due to the exhaustion of karma (or causes and conditions) or the ripening of karma or the coming together and rise of new causes and conditions. If the power abuser has enough good karma it will be rather hard to stop him – see Berlusconi for instance. Many people tried to bring him down, he had many court cases… these things are complex!!!

                    • Indeed they are Tenpel – Berlusconi, Trump, and Sogyal have all been exposed as misogynistic abusers and this has not had the effect that might be expected. It is of course possible in these cases that the complex knot requiring public exposure is quite different to how we might imagine it.

                    • Geshe Jampa Gyatso, who lived in Italy and was very open to all issues of society – most are convinced (including I) that he was highly realised and had clairvoyance – is said to have commented on Berlusconi in about the following manner: ‘he has the karma of a desire realm god therefore he can enjoy and do all these things without falling from that status.’ I found that convincing from a Buddhist perspective and I do understand from it that sometimes all the causes and conditions are not coming together to achieve a change. Then it would be stupid to get overly active and to commit one’s life to stop a being. Such a view can help to find a balanced approach. The question is: did I all things possible? If yes, time to relax.

                    • Such expectations of outcome ( death of the leader, collapse of the group) are unreasonable and somewhat naive
                      Experience over the last twenty years for example has shown that. the solution lies more in the gradual degradation of a cult or cult leaders influence and spread. If we look at the dominant scandals in European Buddhism over the last twenty years what we see is the gradual and continuing exposure of the activities of groups such as the NKT, FWBO/ Triratna and individual figures such as Sogyal. These entities have lost power, wealth and influence and their followings have decreased exponentially as knowledge of their activities has permeated the media and society. As a result, the number of victims who have fallen prey to their influence has decreased. Thus, the success of the anti cult movement ( for want of a better term) cannot be measured by abrupt changes such as death, imprisonment or complete organisational collapse. Such expectations are as I said somewhat naive and often reflect the wishes of embittered former members. Rather, the process is a slow and gradual one, with an ever decreasing decline in the number of victims and influence.
                      Yes, these solutions represent cures rather than prevention but the fact is that as long as there is karma and exploitative individuals exist, such situations will arise- as history has shown. And just as history influences current responses to contemporary crises and tempers these responses but does not prevent ALL crises, such remedies as publicising the activities of cults will gradually undermine their influence. It may not cure the problem completely.
                      I am minded of the bodhicitta motivation which, since sentient beings are infinite, will never achieve its final stated goal. Despite this, Buddhist practitioners continue to work towards that goal, in an attempt to CURE the worlds ills, even though they are fully aware that they will never be able to PREVENT future suffering from ever arising again.
                      Are you a keen cyclist Soenam?

                    • Ah yes karma. Of course, in a culture where sexual prowess and dominance are viewed as signs of status, especially when not explicitly acknowledged – such as in a realm of monkeys so evolved that the development of their frontal cortex lead to many of them becoming caught up in the reflection, mesmerised by the image of their own display – the less evolved may well flourish under such conditions.

                    • “in a realm of monkeys so evolved that the development of their frontal cortex lead to many of them becoming caught up in the reflection, mesmerised by the image of their own display – the less evolved may well flourish under such conditions.”
                      I cant decide whether the arrogance of such a statement is only exceeded by the ignorance that motivated it or vice versa. Either way, it demonstrates a total lack of maturity and dharma understanding-despite its philosophical pretensions. I am beginning to trust my intuition. This is trollspeak

                    • Ok, no name, you are again in the mode of giving harsh judgements that denigrate contributors of the blog, “arrogance,” “exceeding ignorance,” “total lack of maturity and dharma understanding”, “philosophical pretensions”… What does tell about you?

                      Soenam just said:

                      in a culture where sexual prowess and dominance are viewed as signs of status, especially when not explicitly acknowledged – such as in a realm of monkeys so evolved that the development of their frontal cortex lead to many of them becoming caught up in the reflection, mesmerised by the image of their own display – the less evolved may well flourish under such conditions.

                      Why not taking it as it is and to think about its meaning? I didn’t find it especially enlightening but the passage “mesmerised by the image of their own display” I found interesting. However, I could not infer from it your list of faults, and even if I had, I wouldn’t throw it on the other.

                      Please stop to attacking people here by creating list of faults that denigrate them in their being and spirituality. At the end – even if the list were true – are we really free from “arrogance,” “exceeding ignorance,” “total lack of maturity and dharma understanding”, “philosophical pretensions”?

                    • For me, the concept of compassion in Buddhism is entwined with the idea of leading all beings towards liberation from samsara, and so any information which raises awareness of the group dynamics described in the article could be considered motivated by compassion.

                      We read in the article that,

                      “Buddhism, as it is taught in Europe, conveys the teaching that we are all able to create an ideal society, perfectly just and compassionate.”

                      …the master encourages them to eliminate their empathy for their families and immediate friends. And he then fills that void with a different form of compassion, for a state of humanity reduced to a concept: abstract and distant.”

                      What strikes me reading this is how the two different ideas of compassion both seem to miss the mark. When viewed in terms of the concept of discipline, one of the five capacities, on the one hand, this stands in contrast to the discursive, rather fluffy concept of compassion as framed by romanticist individualism, while on the other, is clearly not referring to the authoritarian patriarchy of a dictatorial father figure who lacks all self-discipline and is simply self-indulgent.

                      So while it may be tempting to try to redress the balance here, at least in external terms, it would seem to only serve to maintain an internally unbalanced masculine and feminine.

                      This lack of integration is, I am afraid to say, one of the main issues with the outer tantras.
                      This is why Rigpa cannot help anyone to attain rigpa!

                    • Hi Soenam, I start to understand a bit no name ;-) This time this sounds also for me quite “kopfig” (dry intellectual)…

                      Compassion in Buddhism is per definition the wish that oneself or others are free from suffering (and its causes). Compassion to oneself is included in the desire to escape from Samsara – to attain Nirvana (the so called and often misunderstood “renunciation”). I think we agree here and yes, “any information which raises awareness of the group dynamics described in the article could be considered motivated by compassion.” But only the writer really knows what motivated her…

                      I don’t agree with Mimi that “Buddhism, as it is taught in Europe, conveys the teaching that we are all able to create an ideal society, perfectly just and compassionate.” Maybe it was taught that way to her or she understood / misunderstood it that way. An ideal society in Samsara – Samsara being dominated by the mind poisons – is not possible and is undermined exactly by mind poisons such as greed, hate and ignorance. However, a (samsaric) society can be improved if individuals improve and if there are the means and applications to reduce or to overcome the mind poisons. In that way, since compassion is a strong force also to subdue to a certain degree the mind poisons, compassion really matters to improve a society and to reduce suffering. However, Samsara can never be “perfectly just and compassionate” nor an “ideal society” – this is even proved by our history ;-)

                      I think what she wants to say about what happens in Rigpa is, that Sogyal Lakar teaches in a way that people cut off / are cut off from their emotional bonds in their families or intimate friends (as it happened with her and her father according to this interview). Then, after a while, followers might loose their emotional bonds with their direct environment they are used to. Bonds, which are typical for families and intimate friends [in general a mixture of attachment and love], and it is replaced by an abstract idea to help all those beings out there, though they are farer away and more distant then your immediate family members and intimate friends. It sounds like forming an abstract ideal that is neither practical nor really felt. And indeed, this could be true. Once Rigpa is understood to promote world peace and the welfare of all beings (very abstract), working and spreading Rigpa can become the focus of members’ activities. I remember an enthusiastic Rigpa follower after a speech by either Rigpa seniors or Sogyal Lakar. He was totally carried away by the idea: “What more can we do to spread these precious teachings in order to help the sentient beings in this world? These rare, precious liberating teachings! What vision do we have and what force can we built up to spread it in the world?” He said, they were all thrilled after this speech to run into the world to spread “the teachings” (which means to spread Rigpa). I found this very unearthed and missionary. I remembered HH the Dalai Lama at the first Global Buddhist Congregation: “We should not think about how to propagate the teachings outside, we should hink how we can propagate the teachings in our own mind.” – and from a practical point of view, of course you start right in your family instead of abandoning them for the sake of an abstract ideal. The Buddha spoke a lot for lay people how to keep good relations in a family. It looks like this is a twist within the teachings to put people on a missionary trip … (The NKT does the same…, FWBO/Triratna seems to have similar tendencies and all three organisations share a missionary drive…, the abuse of power and (it seems) a narcissistic leadership …)

                      So I agree with you, here seem to be misunderstandings about the concept of compassion in Buddhism. However, other parts of your comment are a bit obscure to me like “outer tantra”, “internally unbalanced masculine and feminine” etc.

                    • This reference to monkeys with developed frontal Cortex is labelling humans as monkeys- the entire human race. It demonstrates an ignorance of karma.All this talk of Rigpa, outer tantras and the occasional eh Ma Ho, when basic karmic teachings are overlooked indicates a juvenile understanding of dharma ( not to mention the fact that this flippant use of tantric phrase publicly and in a mundane context constitutes a downfall)
                      The whole post is founded on Nietzschean ideals of superior and inferior beings and smacks of fascism
                      To dispassionately categorise humans into these higher and lower divisions without recognising that one is of that same race is, to me, arrogance.

                    • Oh. I didn’t understand it that way ;-) But maybe I lack the background of English, Nietzsche or something else and could not detect that Soenam “categorise(s) humans into these higher and lower divisions”…
                      Lets see what Soenam has to say about what he/she wanted to say with the comment…

                      In Buddhism we also say that many beings behave like animals, using their life only to get food, to get sex, raising their offspring and fighting their enemies… This is not been said to humiliate human beings but to inspire to go beyond that very basic way of life, to inspire to use the opportunities for spiritual development. However, such comparisons or thoughts following such concepts could either be perceived as arrogant or could lead to arrogance … But it is not necessarily arrogant to think that way …

                      However, maybe we should now really come back to topic, not making it too complicated.

                    • I think one thing has become clearer to me in this conversation is the relationship we have to a hierarchy of views.

                      I think that in Tibetan Buddhism there is a far more explicit, established, and well developed hierarchy of views.

                      It seems that No Name, being an experienced practitioner, also employs a hierarchy of views – mature, immature, etc. – but is less comfortable being explicit about it.

                      It seems that the West struggles with establishing any clear hierarchy of views, and seems to fall into an endless (relativistic) struggle which is then displaced onto a struggle of hierarchy of individuals.

                      It also seems to me that Sogyal exploits this somewhat, it seems he is halfway in the Tibetan camp, but not particularly high in his view, but he also seems to play on the Western ambivalence, and so establishes a hierarchy of individuals with himself at the top.

                    • So we have reference to superior ‘monkeys’ and ‘less developed’ ones. Compare unter and übermensch in Thus spoke Zarathustra. Alongside this comes reference to Mimis New Society ( see Nietzsches Will to Power.
                      None of his is Buddhism, except in a certain cult.
                      But enough of this. I’d be more interested in whether our contributor is a keen cyclist?🎉😁😁😁

                    • The idea that writing about the relationship between symbols is somehow “empty intellectualising” while talking about personal perceptions of the “real world” as if they are the objective truth of experience, strikes me as a fundamental misunderstanding which leads only to grasping at imaginary objects with their correlative attachments and aversions – the very definition of ignorance.

                      This forum is about the issue of cults, and here specifically, that of the organisation “Rigpa”. On that basis my focus is on uncovering the symbolic relationships which influence and distort perceptions of this matter.

                      I am not opposed to anyone else focusing on their imaginary and non-existent objects if they so desire, but I will not be joining them.

                    • The idea that writing about the relationship between symbols is somehow “empty intellectualising” while talking about personal perceptions of the “real world” as if they are the objective truth of experience, strikes me as a fundamental misunderstanding which leads only to grasping at imaginary objects with their correlative attachments and aversions – the very definition of ignorance”

                      Actually, both views are empty intellectualising. Both are ignorant
                      The fact remains though that symbols and interpretations are highly.subjective common to a minority ( often of one) These are really ‘ imaginary objects’ of intellectual speculation, whereas perceptions of the so called real world are a shared reality that we collectively adhere to. Though ultimately unreal they function as a subliminally agreed existent world of subject and objects
                      They are/appear tangible, workable, measurable and can be manipulated. When understood properly.

                      The world of symbols otoh is a world of psych babbling philosophers, where one theory leads to another theory, leads to another, as infiinitum It is self indulgence, narcissistic egotism, attachment to views,- “the very definition of ignorance

                      Your view I think leans towards nihilism. You don’t seem to understand that, for cult survivors, abuse, cults, propaganda, mind control techniques exist relatively and function. Symbols can’t cure their ills any more than pictures of food can quash hunger. What survivors seek are tangible ways to deal with their anguish not lectures on symbolic relationships

                    • I agree with you no name. “What survivors seek are tangible ways to deal with their anguish not lectures on symbolic relationships”, and I agree also, it sounds like Nihilism what Soenam writes.

                      What Survivors don’t need are people who question their experiences and tell them they are imaginary and non-existent … This type of brainwashing they know already from their (Buddhist) cults!

                      Soenam:

                      I am not opposed to anyone else focusing on their imaginary and non-existent objects if they so desire, but I will not be joining them.

                      Ok, Soenam, your writing also expresses just your own “imaginary and non-existent objects” and “I will not be joining them” because we deal here with real experiences of people and not mind games. Please do this type of strange intellectualising at another place but not here on the blog.

                      I can’t see how this can help anybody effected by the harm or the structures we discuss here. It appears to me, “no name” was right with his accusation of “dry intellectualisation”. I don’t need this, I guess anybody else than you don’t need this, and I think survivors also don’t need it, so it serves only you but this forum is not been maintained to satisfy your needs at the costs of others or for excessively consuming our time, attention, thinking and energy with no real practical outcome.

                      Therefore, I won’t approve any further comment by you if it doesn’t have much substance for our discussion.

                    • that’s fair enough Tenpel, I have no wish to be pressured into answering personal questions from someone who posts anonymously.

                      “What Survivors don’t need are people who question their experiences and tell them they are imaginary and non-existent”

                      I wasn’t referring to survivors, I was questioning No Name’s repeated speculations and dismissive remarks. Twice he has asked me about my cycling activities – I fail to see how this is in any way relevant, that is why I attempted to underline that my focus is on cult formation and in this case Rigpa.

                      When I reference Darwin’s widely accepted work on evolution, I get called a fascist.

                      I will repeat what laughingdaquini wrote,

                      “What is it with you that you have to make this about me being wrong? I’m not trying to prove anything. I am entitled to an opinion, an impression based on my own experience and observation. You, on the other hand, have no right to declare my experience and opinion invalid or “not true” just because you disagree with me.”

                      This is not a safe place for survivors, it is exactly full of the power plays for group status and hierarchies, with a feel of personal insults and bullying.

                      Good luck Tenpel

                • thank you for your response Tenpel

                  I do not understand why you think this idea would lead to Mimi taking Sogyal’s point of view – my explanation was about Sogyal’s position, and the idea that his motivations are not hidden behind anything, but are rather “hiding in plain sight”. I did not consider Mimi in this as her motivation was not to become a member of Sogyal’s inner group, rather I was considering the overall structure of Rigpa and its membership.

                  Yes I understand what you mean and agree that it is a very good idea to become aware of your own motivations, needs, desires, thoughts – what I would add to that is to also become aware of how those factors do not operate in isolation but also through the transference phenomena.

                  Berzin does broach the topic, but his version of Freud is taken from ego-psychology rather than French post-structuralism – rather than the idea of one individual projecting onto a blank slate, what is described is more akin to two mirrors reflecting each other, each with their own distortions.

                  I also agree with the idea that such power issues are everywhere and have no intention to “put the blame on feudal hierarchy” – I was simply trying to describe how those power relations were at work in this particular situation, so you may well disagree – perhaps the only real difference I am pointing to here is that Sogyal is quite explicit about this hierarchy while westerners can often tend to be reticent about them, and this produces the specific effect that we are seeing in Rigpa.

                  Clearly, similar factors are at work in the scientology organisation, or any social structure, particularly in the formation of cults, although the specific forms they take are different. My thinking on this matter was influenced by a study of a cycling club, from which I quote,

                  “The pressure to conform in any social situation is what symbolic domination and symbolic violence relates to. The concepts explain why people behave the way that they do when they want to ‘fit in’ to any social group.

                  …Those who suffer symbolic violence are willing, invested and interested participants in a process that harms them – because they want to ‘fit in’.

                  It is used by dominant group members to set ‘the rules of the game’ and maintain social order often via unspoken means. The origins of symbolic violence is the misrecognition that the arbitrary taste preferences of some individuals are superior to those of others. Individuals with ‘insider knowledge’ of the prevailing taste distinctions, are able to accumulate power…”

                  It is my perception that this way of seeing the situation can provide some insight.

    • Thank you. Can you send me the three versions pls?

      • Dear Tenpel,
        I have sent them to tenzin(at)gmx.org. Is that correct? Please let me know if you receive them or if I should send them somewhere else.
        Thank you for everything
        MS

        • Great, got it, thank you!

          • This portion was taken out of the later edits of the letter. It was not the only edit, but is the only one I will write about here. The master being referred to is Sogyal Rinpoche.

            “For a master who practices lojong, a situation like this is considered an opportunity to practice its core principles. It’s also taken as an opportunity to work on themselves to develop greater compassion, especially towards those who attack them. It is not, however, taken as the chance to speak out and defend oneself. This approach may be difficult for many people in our modern day to understand and could easily be misunderstood as admission of guilt.”

            According to the letter, Sogyal Rinpoche is not speaking out or defending himself. According to the press release he categorically rejects “the assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour that have been made” in Marion Dapsance’s book, ‘Les dévots du bouddhisme.’

            These are the contradictory positions being simultaneously taken by both Rigpa organisationally and Sogyal Rinpoche personally. It is obvious to any fair minded reader that it cannot be true that Sogyal Rinpoche is not defending himself, if he is at the same time categorically rejecting what has been said about him.

            • Thank you.

              I wish to analyse and correct a bit this – what I think is a – perversion of the Dharma:

              For a master who practices lojong, a situation like this is considered an opportunity to practice its core principles. It’s also taken as an opportunity to work on themselves to develop greater compassion, especially towards those who attack them. It is not, however, taken as the chance to speak out and defend oneself. This approach may be difficult for many people in our modern day to understand and could easily be misunderstood as admission of guilt.

              It seems to be a novelty that a “master” has to use lojong to defend himself and makes himself blameless of faults, he has actually really done. Lojong means you are able to see your faults, you are able to stand with your faults, you are able to openly admit your own faults. (The prerequisite for this quality are the absence of “concealment” and “pretence”, two unwholesome mental factors.) Sogyal has shown that he is able to admit actions he has done, for instance, when he confirmed to Mimi’s father after he confronted him with Mimi’s story, that what she said about him having sex with her was true. I heard different cases – though reluctantly – where SR finally admitted what he had done. This is a quality.

              If you harmed others (which goes against your cultivation of love and compassion – if the cultivation of love and compassion really is your motivation) you are rather very shocked when women or men tell you, you harmed them, because it is not in line with your deepest intentions to benefit others. As a result you would openly excuse when people rightly pin point your faults and the damage you’ve done. And you would do everything to avoid any new situation that creates such harm.

              Moreover, if the accusations are wrong, because it is harmful for your activities to benefit others if people loose faith when you are truly following the Bodhisattva path and you didn’t do anything wrong, there is no contradiction to Lojong and the Bodhisattva vows to address that and to correct wrong allegations even in a very straight forward way – but never in an other-people-denigrating-manner as done here with Marion and those humans who had the bravery to speak about the harm they have experienced.

              Taking the statement as it is, it is totally self-contradictory. To claim one would practice Lojong – accepting the defeat and offering others the victory – while only issuing one’s own supposed blamelessness and doing all to accuse those who spoke up of supposed sinister motivations (including accusing them of slander and lies) is an obvious contradiction because what this statement does is offering yourself the victory and others the defeat.

              BTW, the commitments and precepts of Lojong include to not abuse Lojong by claiming you don’t need to practice the basics like ethical discipline. Ethical discipline includes the restraint from sexual misconduct. Lojong verses which stress this are for instance:

              Train constantly in three basic principles.
              Keep the two, even at your life’s expense.
              Keep the three from which you must not separate.

              And what about this lojong training?

              Don’t seek others’ misery as crutches of your own happiness.

              I agree with you, the whole is contradictory. Its a total attack-and-defence approach in which others is offered the defeat and oneself takes the victory.

              —–

              Actual, its not really good and I don’t like to write or post this comment because Lojong also includes the commitments “Don’t speak of injured limbs.” and “Don’t ponder others’ flaws.” But if a powerful person and his powerful organisation misinforms the public and the press about the Dharma and turn the things upside down at the costs of others and for their own sake, I think there is a responsibility to correct that also in public.

            • Actual, what do the teachings say if someone points out your faults?

              Even if others should declare before the world
              All manner of unpleasant things about me,
              To speak only of their qualities in return,
              With a mind that’s filled with love—this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

              Even if others should expose my hidden faults or deride me
              When speaking amidst great gatherings of many people,
              To conceive of them as spiritual friends and to bow
              Before them in respect—this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

              Even if others whom I have cared for like children of my own,
              Should turn upon me and treat me as an enemy,
              To regard them only with special fondness and affection,
              As a mother would her ailing child—this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

              Even if others, equal or inferior to me in status,
              Should, out of arrogance, disparage me,
              To honour them, as I would my teacher,
              By bowing down my head before them—this is the practice of all the bodhisattvas.

              The press statement doesn’t sound like declaring the critics’ qualities and bowing down before them, it does exactly the opposite.

  11. I am still reeling from the shock of seeing Sogyal Rinpoche deny everything. There was a lot of smoke and mirrors in Rigpa when I asked questions, but they didn’t say outright that everything was false. Now they are saying that and it is deeply shocking. On top of that, I have never seen the teachings used in this way by anyone else to attack others.

    At first I could hardly believe Sogyal Rinpoche was denying everything, but when I read the letter and press release carefully it was clear that the assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour described in Marion Dapsance’s ‘Les dévots du bouddhisme’ and which Sogyal Rinpoche has categorically rejected included what Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche described as “old, unfounded rumours and accusations that have been posted on the internet since the past fifteen years.” Both Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa have categorically rejected it all in their press release.

    Although many reports have been repeated on the internet, a lot of them have not just been on the internet. There was a $10,000,000 US lawsuit, which Sogyal Rinpoche settled to prevent the case coming to court. There have been reports in major quality newspapers, a television documentary and at least three books. All of these have reported similar stories of abuse and cult like behaviour, which were repeated in ‘Les dévots du bouddhisme.’ Are all the women lying? Then there are the internet blogs. What about Mary Finnigan’s blog, ‘Behind the Thankas?’ She said she double sourced everything in it, as is best journalist practice. Is everyone lying? What about all the people who have written on this blog. Are we all lying?

    Then, to make it worse, we are told that “it is important to know that for many centuries, when masters of Tibetan Buddhism like Sogyal Rinpoche have been confronted with false accusations, they make no public response. This attitude, which is uncommon in the West and is therefore open to being misunderstood, is rooted in the profound and widespread Buddhist tradition of training the mind in compassion, called lojong. The core principle of lojong has always been: “Give all profit and gain to others. Take all loss and defeat upon yourself.””

    So why is Sogyal Rinpoche responding by denying everything? Is it a principle of lojong that you don’t respond if it’s a false accusation, but you are allowed to deny it if it’s a true accusation? Of course not.

    Sogyal Rinpoche first hints that he has been falsely accused. I went to Rigpa retreats and Sogyal Rinpoche often spoke about how great teachers don’t defend themselves when accused of wrongdoing. Once I understood what allegations had been made against him, this seemed to me to be an indirect way of Sogyal Rinpoche saying that the allegations were false. Then, in case you don’t get the hint, he outright denies it with his categorical rejection of abuse and cult like behaviour. He is quite explicit, “Both Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche categorically reject the assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour that have been made in this book.” (Referring to Marion Dapsance’s ‘Les dévots du bouddhisme’)

    What about people who know about Sogyal Rinpoche’s behaviour from their own experience because such things happened to them? What about the Rigpa students who must surely know what has gone on behind the scenes, even if the majority are in the dark? How must they all feel? How can they allow this situation to continue?

    I was commenting here on the letter and press release which can be found here. https://lerabling.org/images/PDFs/2016/RIGPA-Press-Release-September-2016.pdf As mentioned before, this is the third version of the document that has been posted and it might change again. I assure you that the quotes I used are exactly as I found them today (December 16).

    • Thank you. It seems to be a struggle for you to witness this mode of rejection and denial.

      I found it surprising – given the fact that when asked Sogyal Lakar confirmed Mimi’s allegations about their relationship to the father of Mimi (Sogyal Lakar confirmed also other cases, though reluctantly, when asked) and given the fact that also some Rigpa directors confirmed it… But I didn’t find it shocking.

      So there was a mode of whitewashing, downplaying, twisting but not outright lies so far. Now there is a new mode to deny even what was confirmed by them previously and witnessed and reported by people with first hand experiences. This mode goes along with attacking critics by claiming sinister motivations, campaigning or suggesting even China is behind it.

      But this new mode is rather consequential. Once you start a deceptive system, you have to deceive ever more to keep it running, to hide the facts and traces, it gets more and more complicated so that at the end the outright lie, seems to be the way out of it. (And to these lies, more lies will add over time.)

      I cannot quote it often enough it seems, but Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote a brilliant piece about these dynamics:

      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.

      This new mode, however, could awaken some Rigpa followers – who know the details about how rotten and far away from Buddha’s teachings things are …

      • What shocked me was the sudden categorical rejection of everything that had been alleged. Previously, Rigpa stopped short of categorical denial.

        In a previous statement, released when the In the Name of Enlightenment documentary was broadcast, Rigpa stopped well short of a categorical denial. You can find it here. http://cogentbenger.com/sexscandalsinreligion/in-the-name-of-enlightenment/a-statement-from-rigpa/

        This previous statement read like it was probably written by the same public relations consultants Olivier Raurich reported being trained by. There is nothing that you could say is definitely a lie, although the statement is leading the reader to believe the allegations in the documentary are false without actually saying this.

        I feel it is a big change that both Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche are now categorically rejecting any allegation of abuse or cult like behaviour. I thought that they previously had not done this because it would easily be shown to be a lie, but as we have seen in the recent US election it is possible to get away with simply repeating lies until people accept them or give up arguing.

        I am so shocked, not just surprised, that any Buddhist organisation and teacher would tell such an outright lie in circumstances like this. There must be many people inside and outside Rigpa who know that Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa’s categorical rejection of the assertions of abuse and cult like behaviour is false. The big question is what are they going to do about it?

        • Yes. The statement there is well phrased to delude the things without outright denial – or even attack. It doesn’t reject the allegations as done in the new statement. Its very intelligently made, as you say: “There is nothing that you could say is definitely a lie, although the statement is leading the reader to believe the allegations in the documentary are false without actually saying this.”

          Yes, it is a big change, and it is also inconsistent with what the people in their own organisation know, positing themselves as liars to their informed followers. Yes, it is also true, that you can get away with lies (to a certain degree).

          I understand that you are shocked but for me who is acquainted with deceptive systems its not shocking because of the innate drives of deceptive systems. A deceptive system starts with bending fact, twisting facts, inventing facts, mixing facts with semi-truths, untruths, deceiving about things, not telling the truth, being silent about the truth, speaking only the truth when asked and there is no other way you can deny … in these processes, you step over one boundary and corrupt yourself, next time you step again over it – nothing happended? Ok, next level, repetition of the same pattern, you get used to it, nobody really complains? Ok, go on. People get complicit with it, then next level, … Rigpa has now taken the next level – maybe out of despair or the state of corruption reaches now higher peaks rather naturally, I don’t know …

          But I think I can understand you to a certain degree – unlike other organisations with somewhat “cultish tendencies” Rigpa hasn’t outrightly lied and showed some semi-“decency” or semi-honesty in how they dealt with obvious facts. I remember an email from someone, who reported from a retreat with Sogyal one or two years ago in which Sogyal Lakar asked his students in the lunch break of that retreat to discuss about his sexual relationships. The person who wrote the email was at that retreat. This person (and I too) felt very strange about this approach – but at least he didn’t deny or lie about these things. Similarly, when confronted by a husband of one of his “dakinis” about Sogyal’s and her sexual relationship (which she had to promise to Sogyal to keep secret from her husband), Sogyal admitted it to the husband. The husband could also speak and write about it within in Rigpa. And for sure there are more cases like this. Therefore, you’re right, with your question:

          There must be many people inside and outside Rigpa who know that Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa’s categorical rejection of the assertions of abuse and cult like behaviour is false. The big question is what are they going to do about it?

          We will see. For some few it may be a wake up call (hopefully), the majority might turn a blind eye on it and those involved will find their justifications to go along with this new route from which highly likely there is no return. (Except by admitting the truth fully. But it is very unlikely that this happens because too many things – they might fear – are going to be lost.) There was already a cognitive dissonance with what happens and what they say and claim and now the cognitive dissonance might just be deeper and will be dealt with in new ways of justification, denial or self-delusion.

        • Perhaps our actions are all we can rely on. IMO There iis no point in waiting for denunciation or admissions of guilt. All we can do is talk, report, ask questions, name names in newspapers, publish books, build websites to share what is known with mote and more potential victims. Slowly but surely things change. Perhaps not in the way we wish exactly, but things are changing and the darkness of ignorance is slowly being dispelled. More and more people don’t buy into the game and kings of the day are slowly becoming paupers, their empires crumbling- as is the way with things. It’s a slow process, I think, not a sudden change

  12. Another reason I was shocked was the language that was used in the Rigpa press release. They said, “Both Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche categorically reject the assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour…”

    The dictionary definition of ‘categorical’ is “without exceptions or conditions; absolute; unqualified and unconditional” or “Being without exception or qualification; absolute.”

    Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa’s categorical reject of the assertions of abuse and cult like behaviour is the strongest possible rejection. They are saying everything is absolutely untrue without any exceptions or qualifications. It is difficult to imagine what has led them to do this in the face of such a large body of evidence that there is behaviour most people would consider abusive and and organisational characteristics most people would consider cult like.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      I find that shocking too.

      Because even if the many sexual relationships with 20something young, inexperienced female students had all happened without any emotional pressure at all, it’s this promiscuous lifestyle with young students over decades that gave rise to the accusations.

      So even without the exploitative side to it, SR’s behaviour is the reason for the “bad press”.

      I don’t know the exact text, but as far as I remember the teachings advise practitioners not to offend the moral sensiblities of normal people, even when they have attained realisation because it would give a bad reputation to the dharma. So if even realized practitioners are advised to keep their conduct within the social norms to not cause bad blood with the public, this rule has to be applied to any buddhist clergy.

      And why do they include the thousands of normal Rigpa members in this piece of writing? Of course they have nothing to do with it because the vast majority of those has never had any close contact with SR or his inner circle. Rigpa consists of two wholly different “worlds”, the inner circle and the ordinary followers. The vast majority has never been exposed to anything questionable.

      • I think you might be referring to a verse late in the guarding alertness chapter of Shantidevas bodhicrayavatara- v 89? The rough translation afaicr goes something like
        Having examined what is to be adopted and what is to be abandoned
        We should never behave in a way which disturbs the world

        I seem to recall a vow against bringing the dharma into disrepute through ones own bad behaviour
        I forget where: it could be the vinaya, or bodhi vows Any ideas Tenzin?

      • I appreciate your contributions to this blog, dharmaanarchist, but I only partially agree with your view that the vast majority has never been exposed to anything questionable. I think it is true that the vast majority has never been directly exposed to anything questionable such as being ordered to undress and have sex with the teacher, but everyone in Rigpa has been affected by the organisational response to the scandals around Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa.

        There is a whole system of training instructors how to deal with students who have doubts. Three posters on this blog reported being part of training which in effect covered things up. As well as Olivier Raurich’s recent posting there were reports from two more junior instructors. Here https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2013/01/16/thoughts-on-leaving-rigpa/ and here https://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2013/01/13/a-former-rigpa-students-thoughts-and-cultivating-discernment/

        I have personal experience of these trained instructors. They listen politely and thank you for sharing your perspective, but they don’t answer direct questions. I was asked to look at myself and why I might have concerns. Olivier Raurich’s account was an eye opener. He reported how

        “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.”

        This approach seems to have been passed down throughout the organisation. It really stinks when you are on the receiving end.

        Sexual abuse affects the wider society it takes place in. Secrets and lies corrupt the whole atmosphere. This was my experience in Rigpa. The current categorical rejections by Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa of any assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour will only make this worse.

        • Thank you for this straight forward comment!

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          “There is a whole system of training instructors how to deal with students who have doubts. ”

          Yep. That’s indeed appalling!!

          I mean, the out of court settling of SR’s case in the 90ies was very probably paid for with donated money.

          • This thought, ‘did he use donated money?’ to pay for the court settlements came also to my mind. Where did the millions come from? Was the money donated for these purposes?
            However, I have no clue about that.

            • I heard that some of the pay ooff money was provided by John Cleese though saw no evidence
              Several wealthy benefactors contributed
              MF would know more

              • This is what I found out about the money/settlement:
                There is no clarity about the sum in the Janice D. case. However, the sums mentioned in the media are claimed to be exaggerated. The rumour is that American Rigpa people divvied up to make the pay off. There seems to have been no other court cases but police investigations.
                HTH

      • Well, I do not think that there are two completely different circles, that do not relate to each other.

        I know, thats the people running Rigpa worldwide, the core team, run main parts of the inner circle as well, or they know in detail whats going on.
        In my opinion is Rigpas top management involved in both circles, so they are not so innocent but thinking very much in tactical spheres of how to deal with organizing the money, keeping the followers in line, doing the puplic relations and so on.

        I dont think anymore that such people are the right people to run a Dharma organisation. Too much cover up, manipulating, lying and so on. That actual statement is a very good example of lying.
        Sure, there is a psychological moment of believing ones own stories after a while, so they live in a special world and its hard to get out there.

        And not to forgot; The common followers are permanently influenced not to believe in any kind of critics towards the Lama, for reason we know now.

        I think it is not the purpose of Dharmaevents to manipulate people to become totally uncritical.
        In consequence they loose there common sense, if its there, and fall easily prey for further manipulations. Thats why it so much of club of lost common sense people, that believe they are in an elite Dharma club.

        So much of the unspoken but must accept rules of how to behave within Rigpa come from such a “system” of two worlds, a hidden world and an official world.
        That there is such a hidden world means always to cover up what the “Lama” is really concerned with, and what he is claiming to be and acting likewise.
        Its very much what other churches offer as well.

        To be continued.

        • dharmaanarchist says:

          There is no “keeping followers in line” at all.

          People new to Rigpa either like the program they are presented or they leave pretty quickly. Those that stick on agree with what they get as students and will never be confronted with the workings of management or the private inner circle around SR. They will never become witnesses of SR’s private life or be personally exposed to him.

          Nobody needs to “keep them in line”. They get what they signed on to, so they are satisfied. The atmosphere in the local groups is in many places pretty agreeable too, so for a lot of attendants “customer satisfaction” is good. And if it’s in some cases not, nobody is pressured to stay and people do leave (I know a very active long term member in my town that switched to Garchen Rinpoche, something like that is not questioned or condemned)

          The national “management level” is still not the inner circle of SR’s private household and I’m pretty sure that for example the Rigpa Germany main people in Berlin have no access to it and have no direct experience of it. The people ending in the management level are usually ambitious. What that attitude plus a position of influence does to people in all manner of organisations is probably well known (8 worldly dharmas and such…) so tend to turn a blind eye towards everything that might be going wrong within Rigpa

          • Examples for keeping followers in line I have experienced personally:

            A wealthy long time sponsor is likely to leave, due to the stories about Esolf. The local management tells the national management, they tell top management in Lerab Ling, and the person is given a special treatment to keep her in line.
            Not only one case, but a lot of cases.

            New people in a local group ask question about the abuse stories, they have read in internet and so on.
            Local instructors are trained by national head instructors, who are directed by top management, what to say, how to put things down and so on.
            So local new people are managed to stay, on the directive of top management in LL.
            Of course many elder students are prepared already for this case to happen, because on everey event is repeated for many times how to deal with “rumours”, and what real devotion is.

            Many more different examples to tell…..

            What I have experienced in my years: Of course al lot of people leave quite quick, for different reasons.

            But I guess half of them stay interested in Dharma, but stay away from Rigpa because of some strange behaviour of the students and of the shown attitude of the boss.
            So he attracts a lot of people, but many run away quite quick.

            So what I keep on saying is that there is not two totally different Rigpas, the inner circle plus everything else. It is interwoven, and the same people manage both “circles”.

            They show their pretty nice face towards the standart practitioner, but behind the curtains they play their game of buying people, cover up the stories and building the potemkin village of Rigpa as a extraordinary organisation.

  13. There are many ways the scandals around Sogyal Rinpoche affect everyone in the organisation and not just those who end up having sex with him.

    One way everyone is affected is when they go to Rigpa weekends or retreats. You can’t attend these without hearing teachings from Sogyal Rinpoche on seeing the teacher as Buddha or seeing the teacher purely. I heard him once say the students shouldn’t have a single negative thought about the master. Once you know what the allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche are, you can hear that this is what he is really referring to a lot of the time. Everyone has heard him teach about masters who are falsely accused, but didn’t defend themselves, as described in the Rigpa letter and press release. https://lerabling.org/images/PDFs/2016/RIGPA-Press-Release-September-2016.pdf It was obvious he was really saying he has been falsely accused. It also sounds like all the devotional things Sogyal Rinpoche says about his own teachers are an indirect way of telling his students that this is how they should regard him. I have heard him tell students, in a very large group, that he is looking to see how ‘stable’ they are if they hear ‘stories’ about him. This was all before the recent developments where he is now categorically rejecting all the assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour.

    Then there is the whole Rigpa organisation. There are two features, the Dzogchen Mandala and the system of authorising instructors which affect everyone and which are both used to silence dissent.

    The Dzogchen Mandala is the most advanced group in Rigpa. I don’t know how many people are in it worldwide, but but every year around one thousand of them attend a special retreat in Lerab Ling which only Dzogchen Mandala students are eligible to attend. I am assuming this is only a fraction of the total Dzogchen Mandala membership.

    In 2014 they all had to reapply for membership of the Dzogchen Mandala. They had to respond in writing to over thirty questions and then be questioned individually by an instructor on all their answers. I have a copy of the complete questionnaire from a reliable source. One of the questions they had to answer in writing and then be questioned on was

    “Do I know about the allegations against Rinpoche and Rigpa? Where am I at with this?”

    This appeared in a section headed “How is my relation to the Teacher, the Sangha and its role-holders?” Later in that section applicants had to answer the question “Do I know how to regain a pure view when doubt/confusion comes up?”

    Students were clearly expected, if they knew about the allegations, to have dealt with this and still have a pure view, even if any doubt or confusion had come up for them. These Dzogchen Mandala students are in every group within Rigpa and their presence affects the culture of the whole organisation.

    The instructors are a smaller group, most of whom in my experience are also Dzogchen Mandala members. Rigpa courses are run by teams of Instructors, to support each other, but also to ensure that no one ‘goes off.’ According to the Rigpa web-site, there are 130 Rigpa Centres in 31 countries. There are also many different courses, so a large number of instructors is needed. I have heard from a senior instructor that there are over seven hundred authorised Rigpa instructors worldwide. Most of the instructors will have undergone the training in how to respond to students questions about Sogyal Rinpoche which has been described elsewhere on this blog. More precisely, as described by Olivier Raurich, they have been trained how not to respond to questions, but instead deflect the questioner. The instructors have to be able to deal in an approved way with questions about Sogyal Rinpoche. This is another way the scandals around Sogyal Rinpoche are affecting everyone in Rigpa.

    These two mechanisms alone, the Dzogchen Mandala and the authorised Instructors are powerful control mechanisms which affect everyone who has anything to do with Rigpa. Both these mechanisms work to suppress doubt and confusion experienced by students who hear about scandals to do with Sogyal Rinpoche.

    Then on top of that there is a whole management system aimed at controlling information about Sogyal Rinpoche. One ex-Rigpa student writing on another blog described in quite horrific detail how this works. After discovering that the allegations about Sogyal Rinpoche were true and confronting a Rigpa Director about this, but without saying who had told her, this student then found out that her Rigpa informant had been tracked down and dealt with. You can read her full account here. https://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/would-someone-check-this-out-not-death-and-dying-but-the-abuse-of-women/#comment-435

    Up to now, there has been a grey area where the allegations had not been directly refuted and students could rationalise things by explaining it away to themselves as crazy wisdom. Now Sogyal Rinpoche has categorically rejected all the assertions of abuse and cult-like behaviour, the grey area has gone. Sogyal Rinpoche categorically rejects it all! What does a Rigpa student do if they believe some of the allegations are true? What does a Rigpa student do if they know some of the allegations are true?

    Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa are digging a deep hole for themselves by categorically denying things that seem obviously true.

    • Thank you MS, this is very valuable information because it unmasks the structure and dynamics. Could you send me please the questionnaire? I would like to post it here. People should understand better this manipulative system that effects them. I heard from a Dzogchen Mandala member a while ago also that you have to sign something to become a member, something around to see Sogyal as pure or so (its a while ago and I can’t remember precisely). Can you comment on that or share details?

      Thanks a lot for your comment!

    • Thank you for the link to this comment on DI. Very useful to read it. It feels very authentic and confirms also what was told to me a while ago, that S intimidates young female retreatants to have sex with him. Though the story I know, the woman found it hard to keep him away from herself … Here the story goes “they benefited from their ‘special connection’ with him.” …

      The next comment there is also right to the point:

      i think it useful to remember that when Milarepa, Patrul Rinpoche and Naropa received their sartorial blessings, they had all already trained in the path for many, many years, if not lifetimes. My mates girlfriend hadn’t even taken refuge and had been into the Dharma for les than a month. Still, don’t they say that Westerners are very intelligent and dont need….blah, blah, blah…….

  14. Mary Finnigan says:

    This is indeed interesting insight into Rigpa dynamics. Tightly and authentically presented with a loud peal of the truth bell! As an old media hand, trainer and crisis management consultant, one aspect of recent Rigpa behaviour puzzles me. They apparently retain handling the media professionals. In my experience no-one in this professional arena would advise them to adopt their present outright denial position. No journalist who researches the history of Sogyal and Rigpa since 1994 would buy into that. There are huge billows of smoke from multiple sources over an extended period of time. And Rigpa is insisting there are no fires? This beggars belief.

  15. Sogyal Rinpoche (or rather the students who run his Facebook page) has asked for feedback on his book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The survey is here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZKH3PKM

    Perhaps some of the readers of this blog would like to complete this survey.

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