BRIEFING DOCUMENT ON SOGYAL RINPOCHE

BRIEFING DOCUMENT ON SOGYAL  RINPOCHE FOUNDER

OF THE  RIGPA  ORGANISATION

Lerab Ling sr

The renowned Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche, whose organisation Rigpa runs various groups throughout Ireland (See http://www.rigpa.ie/) and indeed elsewhere around the world.Sogyal’s book, ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,’ has opened innumerable doorways for Rigpa in the field of palliative care and he and his organisation are now prominent players in the burgeoning industry offering help for professionals who shop in the spiritual supermarket in the area surrounding care for the dying: take a look at http://www.spiritualcareconference.com/ for instance.  Seemingly, Sogyal can do no wrong.

However, there is a darker side to Sogyal, a side that Dialogue Ireland first became aware of some years ago at the London School of Economics’ Inform ‘Seminar on New Religious Movements (NRMs) and Violence,’ held on May 3, 1997. Inform is a New Religious Movements Centre based at the LSE and which was founded by the prominent NRM authority, Professor Eileen Barker. At the conference, a Frenchwoman,  who had been Sogyal’s assistant for some years offered a most distressing account of the indignities she claimed to have endured at the ‘Golden Child’s’ hands.

Despite his public portrayal as a traditionally trained Buddhist meditation master from the East, Sogyal has spent the majority of his life in a Western cultural context. He was educated primarily in English schools in India then at Delhi University and then, having moved to the UK in the sixties, studied comparative religion at Cambridge for two years (undergraduate courses usually last a minimum of three). His Western education then far exceeds his formal Buddhist training. He is deeply steeped in Western ‘cultural’ norms, and fully comprehends Western notions of propriety and what constitutes an abusive relationship, for example.

‘Rigpa’ was born quite early on in Sogyal’s Buddhist career in London, after news of his sexual predations and misbehaviour filtered back to the late Dudjom Rinpoche — then head of the Nyingma and one of the world’s greatest meditation masters. At that time, Sogyal had dedicated his London centre, Orgyen Choling, to Dudjom, but when the latter heard of Sogyal’s  misdemeanours, he suggested he give up teaching for a while and return to India to ‘ripen his practice’. Sogyal’s response was to remove his centre from Dudjom Rinpoche’s tutelage and change its name to Rigpa with himself as head, accountable to no-one except himself.

In 1994 the Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama hosted a conference for Western Buddhist teachers. One of the items on the agenda was how to deal with the increasing number of charlatans posing as qualified gurus who were using their positions of power to inflict physical and mental abuse on unwitting disciples: a question prompted in part by Sogyal Rinpoche’s ‘enlightened activities’. The Dalai’s advice?  ‘Criticize openly,’ His Holiness declared. ‘That’s the only way. If there is incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing, teachers should be confronted with it. They should be allowed to admit their wrongs, make amends, and undergo a rehabilitation process. If a teacher won’t respond, students should publish the situation in a newspaper, not omitting the teacher’s name,” His Holiness said. “The fact that the teacher may have done many other good things should not keep us silent.” Again, in 2001, when answering a similar question, he advised potential converts to check a guru’s qualifications carefully; ‘The best thing is,‘ the Dalai Lama said, ‘whenever exploitation, sexual abuse or money abuse happen, make them public.’

There can be little doubt that Rigpa’s workshops have brought great benefit to many in the field of palliative care and, moreover, that none of this could have happened without Sogyal Rinpoche’s input. However, there are other areas where, metaphorically speaking, his input has proven significantly less satisfactory and so, in accord with the Dalai Lama’s instructions and DI’s policy of ensuring that the public are fully aware of all aspects of the different religious groups operating in Ireland, below are excerpts from critical pieces that have appeared in the media over the last decade. It is hoped that these will ensure that those with an interest in Rigpa’s Buddhism have a fuller knowledge of the group and, more particularly, its leader’s background, before they take the decision to become involved. Somehow and thus far, much of the rather disturbing information about Sogyal’s exploits has remained hidden, beyond the scrutiny of the public eye. In the interests of balance and the public good, DI is working to rectify this situation by gathering together as much of this information together in one place and then disseminating it.

Probably the most favourable and equally uninformed pieces concerning ‘Lama’ Sogyal appeared in the Press nearly 10 years ago was written by one of Ireland’s most astute political commentators, Eoghan Harris, in the Irish Sunday Times in 2000 (‘Time for lreland to See the Light’ p.20, July 23). (See full article at end of post.)

The piece waxed lyrical about the Tibetan prophet and could almost have been written by his own professional PR team. Most notably, it mentioned nothing of the multiple allegations of abuse against Sogyal, indeed it appeared that the journalist was unaware of them; it was somewhat reminiscent of those reports by supporters of the Soviet Union following visits, where seemingly, everything in the garden was rosy.

DI contacted the editor of the Sunday Times to point out the discrepancies and contradictions between the public and private faces of Sogyal Rinpoche, an act to which Eoghan Harris took grave and immediate exception. He responded directly, implicitly confirming Sogyal’s wrongdoings , but arguing that he had no time for furthering what he called, ‘…American victim culture, of which weird sexual suits are an integral part…. I do not believe gurus are perfect, nor the women who follow them, do not believe that adults who make messy choices are victims of anybody except themselves, do not believe that adult women (or men) who have consensual sex with a gurus, superiors, bosses, film producers etc are really in the same boat as Cuban refugees who are sexually exploited because they have no real choice, and certainly not in the same boat as rape victims. I have no doubt but that Rinpoche, like many priests, ministers, gurus, comes onto women. But he comes onto adults. It is not nice, but it is not unusual and it has no bearing on the general message of Buddhism, no more than Paisley behaviour can discredit the message of Christianity.’

Adult Ritualised Sexual Abuse: A Contemporary, Western Phenomena?

A consultant to Dialogue Ireland wrote concerning Eoghan Harris’s view:

‘While all sexual abuse is immoral, it is obvious that the depth of the immorality varies in dependence on the context of the abuse: the abuse of an adult is immoral, but that of a minor is significantly more so. Here, sexual activity at first seems to have occurred between two, consenting adults and, generally speaking, such a consensual act would not be considered immoral; this is certainly how your correspondent Mr Harris appears to perceive it.

However, where a religious figure in a position of trust engages in a sexual act with a follower, that person’s status transforms a seemingly consensual act into an abusive one. It is blatant abuse where a person in a position of trust engages in sexual relations with another, both from the perspective of the abuse of power and the abuse of the individual victim.

The status of the teacher too contributes to determining the depth of the abusiveness of the act. If relations occur between a ‘mere mortal’ teacher and an equally mortal student, that is one thing. But where the teacher is perceived as a ‘tantric master’, and the act is accompanied by the promise of spiritual benefit, this moves everything to an even deeper level of abusive depravity. Mr Harris appears to have not understood this.

If the multiple allegations are true and were accompanied by promises of a ‘tantric experience’, or as the Janice Doe suit suggests, victims were told they ‘would be strengthened and healed by having sex’ with Sogyal, the relations were abusive and ritualized.

It is clear that in groups of all religious traditions, this type of abuse has existed for generations. To be a victim of such then, does not render one part of what Mr Harris mistakenly portrays as contemporary ‘American victim culture’, though no doubt such a culture exists. Rather it renders one yet another unfortunate victim of that serious and calculated deception that, while as old as the hills, remains as improper and immoral as it has done for the millennia it has existed throughout mankind’s different cultures and creeds.

That it has existed for so long however renders it no less immoral. In fact, with religion in the advanced state of decline that it is, this renders the act even more so, for it destroys what little is left of what is good in the world.  If the faiths are to survive and assist the spiritually needy, we have a responsibility to rid all of the traditions of those who engage in such selfish and irreligious acts in the name of their faith. Mr Harris may be correct in his assertion that such abuse, ‘…has no bearing on the general message of Buddhism’. However, it certainly does have a bearing on the purity and future existence of the faith: while it may not destroy ‘the message’, it damages ‘the medium’ irreparably.’

This therefore, is no crusade against Buddhism; rather it is a crusade against Sogyal’s abuse of his position within that noble religion to procure pleasures for his personal gratification. DI has found the same adult ritualised sexual abuse in Yogic, New Age, Christian and Hindu groups.

‘This (abuse) is in large part a result of the naiveté of westerners when it comes to visiting Asian gurus. People who are deeply suspicious of western organized religion suspend all scepticism when it comes to smiling brown-skinned men telling them to let go of their attachments as they slide their hand onto their knee. People in the West are so desperate for spiritual salvation they are prepared to blind themselves to the rogues and charlatans making millions of dollars through the New Age industry in the last 30 years.’

Wikipedia SR

The Politics of Well Being


www.politicsofwellbeing.com/2008/05/gurus-behaving-badly.html

In 1994, a $10 million civil lawsuit was filed against Sogyal Rinpoche in the US. It was alleged that over a period of many years, Rinpoche had used his position as a spiritual leader to induce large numbers of female students to have sexual intercourse with him. As well as alleging sexual impropriety, the particular complaint included counts of intentionally inflicting emotional distress (as had been the case with the French assistant DI encountered at the LSE Inform conference) plus one count of assault and battery. In December 1995, the issue was settled out of court through mediation.It is believed that, while initially and as a result of the mediation, it was agreed that Sogyal would retire from public life and not teach again, eventually sufficient funds, amounting to several millions of US dollars, were procured to ensure Sogyal’s continued liberty to teach.

In his defence, his supporters have repeatedly argued that lamas of Sogyal’s Nyingma School are not required to take vows of celibacy and indeed, Sogyal is not a monk.Nor in fact, was the central role model of the school, its founder, Padmasambhava, who had five tantric consorts who were also his students.Moreover, his supporters claim, while there is a precept against sexual misconduct in Buddhism, with respect to a non-monastic lama this precept is rather limited in scope and would apply ‘only if the female is not free but rather under the protection of her father, mother, husband, king or herself bound by a vow of celibacy.’

This calculated response however, does not take into account the fact that, a) Sogyal Rinpoche may not possess the same level of tantric realisation of as the ‘Second Buddha’, Padmasambhava (despite, as we shall see, his claims to the opposite), and b) as well as the above precept, there are further precepts for Buddhist tantric practitioners which prohibit engaging in sexual acts with unqualified partners, precepts which Sogyal’s supporters would probably have been well aware of but, for some strange reason, neglected to refer to. While the eighth century milieu of Padmasambhava was primarily a tantric Buddhist one and would therefore have led on occasion to his encountering qualified consorts, it would be highly unusual for so many young and inexperienced Western victims of Sogyal to possess all of the relevant qualifications, particularly as many were new converts to the faith and therefore could not have possessed any of the numerous necessary prerequisite teachings and initiations.

If Sogyal is not a great tantric yogi and had plain old run-of-the-mill sex with these unqualified victims, while at the same time the latter were expecting to be healed by the ‘tantric experience’ his supposed status promised, then, despite his disciple’s protestations, these acts would amount to nothing more than adult ritualised sexual abuse at the hands of a very ordinary, fat and balding, middle aged man with a penchant for beer, food, praise, TV, and sleep. The 10th century Buddhist master Dharmarakshita’s ‘Peacock in the Poison Grove’ demonstrated the traditional Buddhist position on such devious acts:

‘For the sake of material gain you assume the guise of a noble one: Like dogs and pigs you indulge in lustful acts, Deceiving all with the claim that this is tantra— You should be burned in a hearth by vajra holders….Those who lead the foolish with no graduated stages of the path should be brought to the level of dogs by the learned ones.’

It is hoped that, in acting in the way he has, Sogyal is actually skilfully leading his female tantric students along the path to enlightenment. If he is, thus far, some have clearly yet to feel the benefit. If he is not then, according to his faith’s forefathers, it may be that, sooner rather than later, he finds himself in canine rather than feminine company.

Below are two Press articles about the original Janice Doe case, plus the testimony of an ex-close follower of Sogyal. One would have hoped that the Janice Doe experience would have caused Sogyal to rethink his ways. However, allegations continue to surface concerning his behaviour right down to the present day, as a quick glance at: http://troismondes.canalblog.com/archives/2007/10/07/6443357.html demonstrates. This site is in French, but has English post as well. We had access to other sites which also allude to Sogyal’s activities, but because of their lack of corroboration we must leave out. Far too much hearsay and not enough evidence are adduced.

It should be borne in mind that the fact that millions of dollars were paid to one accuser to silence them is no indication of moral purity or a lack of culpability on the part of Sogyal nor does it absolve him of the crime he allegedly committed; rather, it demonstrates that everyone has their price and that price is certainly one that some are willing to pay to preserve their empires. Moreover, for those whose silence can be bought, it demonstrates that for some, money is clearly more important than truth and preventing the suffering of others.

Finally, those who claim that, just because there is smoke it doesn’t mean there is fire, should bear in mind that, when smoke does rise from behind a mountain, there usually is a fire behind it; as they say, ‘if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.’

BEST-SELLING BUDDHIST AUTHOR ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ABUSE

By Don Lattin

San Francisco Free Press November 10, 1994

$10 million civil suit filed in Santa Cruz by a woman who says Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, “coerced” her into an intimate relationship.

With the blessings of the Dalai Lama, a group of American Buddhist women have launched a campaign to expose the alleged sexual misconduct of a prominent Tibetan lama and best-selling author.

Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, is accused of “physical, mental and sexual abuse” in a $10 million civil suit filed last week in Santa Cruz County Superior Court.

According to the lawsuit, an anonymous woman identified only as “Janice Doe” came to Rinpoche for spiritual guidance last year at a retreat sponsored by the Rigpa Fellowship meditation center in Santa Cruz, but was “coerced into an intimate relationship” with the Tibetan guru.

“Sogyal claimed (she) would be strengthened and healed by having sex with him and that to be hit by a lama was a blessing,” the lawsuit states.

The suit — which accuses Rinpoche of fraud, assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress and breach of fiduciary duty — also charges that the Tibetan lama has “seduced many other female students for his own sexual gratification.”

Sandra Pawula, spokeswoman for the Rigpa Fellowship of Santa Cruz, one of many meditation centers in the United States, Europe and Australia, declined to comment about the allegations, but said that Rinpoche is not married and does not claim to be a celibate monk. Rinpoche, who lives abroad, could not be reached for comment. The lawsuit follows a letter-writing campaign to the Dalai Lama by American women concerned about alleged sexual exploitation by Rinpoche…

“What some of these students have experienced is terrible and most unfortunate,” said Tenzin Geyche Tethong, the Dharamsala-based secretary to the Dalai Lama.

Jack Kornfield, founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County, was among a group of two dozen Western teachers who discussed the sexual misconduct of Buddhist teachers with the Dalai Lama last year in India.

According to Kornfield, the Tibetan Buddhist leader told the Americans to “always let people know when things are wrong. Put it in the newspapers if you must do so.”

Another woman allegedly abused by Rinpoche, Victoria Barlow of New York City, said she is “disgusted by the way the Tibetans have manipulated the reverence Westerners have for the Buddhist path.”

Barlow, 40, said she first met Rinpoche in the mid-1970s, when she was 21, and that she was sexually exploited by him during meditation retreats in New York and Berkeley.

“I went to an apartment to see a highly esteemed lama and discuss religion,” she said in an interview with the Free Press. “He opened the door without a shirt on and with a beer in his hand.”

Once they were on the sofa, Barlow said, the Tibetan “lunged at me with sloppy kisses and groping. I thought I should take it as the deepest compliment that he was interested and basically surrender to him,” she said.

Sources say the Tibetan Buddhists were trying to handle this issue within their community but decided, especially after the Dalai Lama made the comment about going to the press, to go public now.

SEXUAL HEALING
by Mary Finnigan

From the London paper, The Guardian, 10/01/95

The Tibetan lama Sogyal Rimpoche is being sued for $10 million in the United States by a woman who alleges sexual harassment, coercion and abuse. Sogyal (Rimpoche is

an honorary title meaning Precious Jewel) has been teaching Buddhist meditation for more than 20 years, with a world-wide following and meditation centres known as The Rigpa Fellowship in London, France, Ireland, America and Australia. He is the author of a best-seller, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and appeared in Bertolucci’s film Little Buddha. The Rigpa Fellowship in London has issued a letter informing its members that a suit has been brought against Sogyal Rimpoche. Although he is not a monk, and has not taken vows of celibacy, he is accused of using his position to obtain sexual favours. Allegations like these threaten to blow a hole in the aura of asceticism and austerity surrounding Buddhism in the West.

In the late 1960s, western hippies seeking spiritual enlightenment were drawn to the Tibetans’ exuberant, colourful style. Tibet was seen as a Buddhist Shangri-La — a far cry from the reality of a country under repressive Chinese occupation. In the seventies, rumours started to circulate about other globe-trotting Buddhist gurus, who were said to be seducing their students and behaving more like spiritual barons than spiritual mentors, exercising droit du seigneur among their followers….

Although not all Tibetan teachers are monks – many have renounced their vows and some are from non-celibate traditions – if a sexual relationship arises, the imbalance of power in the teacher-pupil relationship can lay the student open to abuse. Many Buddhists see this as a contravention of the moral code which frowns on all actions that cause harm. At a conference of western Buddhist teachers in India last year, the Dalai Lama urged delegates not to be afraid of criticising corrupt gurus. “If you cannot find any other way of dealing with the problem,” he said, “tell the newspapers.”

Last year, an American woman and former pupil of Sogyal decided to bring a civil case anonymously, and were allowed by the court in Santa Cruz, California, to use the pseudonym Janice Doe. She says in her suit that she approached Sogyal at a time of a time of confusion, shortly after her father’s death. According to the suit, Sogyal told her that “through devotion and his spiritual instruction, she could purify her family’s karma”. The woman alleges he seduced her the next day, claiming that she would be “strengthened and healed by having sex with him”.

However unconvincing such an argument may sound, the Zen priest Yvonne Rand, who is counselling Janice Doe, points out that the relationship between guru and disciple is one of power and submission. People who seek guidance from a spiritual master want to believe what he or she tells them.

“Many women who seek out spiritual teachers come from dysfunctional families. They may have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse, had no father or bad father relationships, and so is looking for a good father. This creates blind spots in their perception of a teacher.”
Rand is emphatic that such high risk relationships rarely benefit both parties. This opinion is shared by other women who have had sexual liaisons with their gurus. “I was touched by his need for me,” says one, who had a long relationship with a lama, “but it was difficult and strange, in no way a normal relationship. It fuelled my fantasies about having special qualities, but he debunked them. I felt empowered by him but though he treated me with respect, I was always aware he had other lovers.”

Another woman speaks of the confusion that arose from being first a humble devotee, then an exalted sexual partner, then back in the ranks again. “I felt used,” she says “He put his needs above mine.”

More recently, a young English woman attended a residential retreat. She thought she had been singled out for special attention only to discover that she was being invited to join a harem. “At first I was flattered, and very open and trusting. He encouraged me to fall in love with him – but I realised that he was toying with me. I noticed several other young, pretty women going in and out of his apartment, when I confronted him with this; he dropped me for the rest of the time I was there.”

Did she learn anything from her intimacy with the guru? “He gave me good advice, but I am left with a hangover of pain and confusion. I also have doubts about Buddhism. If anything, I have learnt to be more cautious.”

Rand and the British Buddhist teacher Ngakpa Chogyam Rimpoche share the view that the majority of westerners sign up too quickly with their gurus and find themselves in a much more intense relationship than they had bargained for. This is especially true of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism which, at an advanced level, incorporates sexual union into spiritual practice.
Rand believes that westerners often fail to make the distinction between a teacher who helps along the way and a guru who is an enlightened being. “Some Tibetan lamas do not see themselves as accountable in the western sense of the word,” says Ngakpa Chogyam. “They get blown off-centre by too much adulation.”

This potential for adulation makes it vital that teachers accept responsibility for the well being of their students. Responsibility must include, if not celibacy, then extreme care with sex. According to psychologist Deborah Clarke, everyone who enters into a spiritual or therapeutic relationship is vulnerable to exploitation.

“I’d be furious if a guru made a pass at me,” she says. “They should all know by now that people with that sort of power have a moral and ethical duty not to abuse it.

Below is the personal testimony of one of Sogyal’s close personal assistants who ran one of Riga’s European centres for several years, before leaving after becoming increasingly disenchanted by Sogyal’s actions.

In the mid 80’s, during my seven years with Rigpa and 4 years as founding director of a national Rigpa branch, I had slowly discovered that Sogyal Rinpoche had sex with very many disciples. Even though I was very close to SR, it took me some time to notice the obvious. Even though I am a professional counsellor, it took me quite some time to notice it at all, and then it took me even more time to take action. First, at the same time I was shocked and kind of amused, I had mixed feelings about it, because in the beginning I saw that some women tried to get him. First I thought, they are mature woman, they know what they are doing, and I simply am too inexperienced in the exotic ways of Tibetan Lamas to be able to judge. It was much later that I heard stories and saw things which were not based on consent, and saw that he was cheating all the time on the women. Also I noticed that he had sex with young students who just had come to Rigpa retreats for the first time.

There was the harem, and the women seemed to be able and ok with their role in the game. At least I wanted to believe this, still trying to see SR as a holy man. On the other hand, I always found obstacles to consider SR as my guru. I considered myself at that time more like a Buddhist manager and some kind of assistant to SR, rather than as a disciple of his. I could see Dilgo Khyentse or the Dalai Lama as true masters, but SR appeared to me to be just a teacher who teaches Buddhism, or more likely a salesman who sells Buddhism. When I was in charge of my national Rigpa branch, I always exaggerated his qualities in the flyers I produced. I said to SR: either you are true and good and people will find out themselves, or if not they will also find out. So don’t tell them what they should think or how good they should think about you. True quality will speak for itself. With me, he accepted such words, but I heard my successors had to write up his qualities.

I confronted Sogyal first jokingly, then half-heartedly, with my concerns about his behaviour, and I said to him that as a therapist I knew about the transference phenomenon: students see the teacher as kind of a father figure, so sex with the student is psychologically seen as incest.  Also, that in the West, the relationship between teacher and student, or priest and the parishioner, must be kept pure, and does not allow for intimate relationships involving sex in any way.  He was not amused, and tried to avoid the subject, but he first tried to justify his sexual behaviour spiritually.

First he said that because he is one of the incarnations of Padmasambhava, and that Padmasambhava had many “spiritual consorts”, he would be somehow entitled to do so. Then he played the cultural card: in Tibetan culture women are seen as Dakinis, and they would happily serve the Lamas for enhancing their spiritual power and so on. I am ashamed, but first I wanted to believe all this. I was brought up in a prudish, bourgeois Catholic environment. I was used to playing roughshod with the truth, and to idealize and respect people of position even more than supposedly “holy” men. My spiritual and emotional hunger made be blind to my own values and my professional standards – at least where the standards of the Lama were concerned, however, fortunately not in my own work.

For some years I was blinded by my position of power.  I felt that I was establishing a very well-run organisation together with other dear friends which was benefiting many people. I was happy. I was in a very special position. I honestly tried to use my position to the best of my ability. I felt I was chosen, and because of karmic connections with Sogyal, I was finally realising my full potential.

The bitter irony is that because other students saw me as a rather independent, seemingly critical, and reasonable person and because of my professional status as a psychotherapist, some people viewed me as endorsing Sogyal. In fact they envied my special access to SR. I could no longer ignore what was happening.  On one occasion Sogyal wanted me to lie on the phone to a woman, who wanted to contact him after having had sex with him but had found that he was in bed with another woman. I refused to be a party to his affairs.  He became very angry and yelled at me, but I was not impressed. Basically, he always treated me very well.  He seemingly respected me, but now I think he was clever enough not to treat me badly like some of the other students so I would remain loyal. He gave me the feeling that he appreciated my views at least as long I helped him to please the audience and the students. But he never was open to criticism concerning his personal behaviour. Also, he never answered any of my personal spiritual questions. I got more and more the impression that he simply could not answer them. Also, when I attended sessions where he should answer questions from his students, he often gave very stupid answers, and showed that he had not much understanding of what people were really asking. Sometimes he ridiculed people to cover this up.

One of the worst things I experienced was at a winter retreat in Germany. A long term student of his was in emotional distress and asked in obvious pain, vulnerability and confusion for his help, and he forced her to speak louder and then to come forward to the stage where he put her down completely. In my view, he was totally afraid of her, and could not deal with the situation at all. But instead of putting her into safe hands, he tried to save himself by putting her down and ridiculing her, and then played the strong teacher who can deal with everything. That same night, we had to rush her to the emergency ward of the nearest psychiatric hospital with a nervous breakdown and a psychotic seizure.

As a therapist and as a student, I was horrified by his behaviour and his complete lack of compassion and skill. Before I left Rigpa, an American woman told me confidentially and in great distress that she had just lost her husband and had come from US to France to SR to get help, and that SR, during a private audience, had tried to violently force her to have sex with him. Fortunately, she managed to escape being raped. She left the retreat in even greater despair and completely shocked. This was the worst incident which I heard at first hand.

SR did not respect any limits: he had sex with most of the wives of the leading students at Rigpa. I tried to keep myself and my private life out of his.  I tried not to get mixed up with his affairs. Sogyal had a classical harem, and he knew all the tricks to make the obvious invisible, or if that did not work, to change the context of the students’ values, giving the whole thing a spiritual excuse, and abuse fears and naivety, or the good belief of his students to get what he wanted. It’s 12 years ago since I quit Rigpa, so I have no first-hand information of SR’s activities now, but I must say I have little doubt that everything is the same today, because I consider him an addict.  He is hooked on sex and power.

When I have more time I will write more professionally on the psychology of the guru-student relationship and of abuse. What interests me most is why people “allow themselves” to be abused and what hinders them to see the truth. And how to help others to discover their own truth, and how to stop people like SR from going on.

Time for lreland to see the Light

July 23, 2000

Eoghan Harris

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell takes a taxi. Recognising the face of his famous fare the cabbie sits back comfortably in his seat,

emits theexpansive sigh of one who is willing to be enlightened as long as the meter is running, and intones the immortal line: “Orright guv,

wot’s it all abaht then?” Last week, I was longing for somebody to ask me the same question.For the first time since 1970 when it

took me five minutes to explain the foundations of historical materialism to Con Houlihan of the Evening Press I wanted to make an

attempt at an answer. My confidence came from completing an intensive nine-day retreat conducted by the great Tibetan teacher,

Sogyal Rimpoche, at Dzogchen Beara, the Buddhist centre on the BearaPeninsula.

A late interest in religion can mean either last-minute nerves or an indication of incipient insanity.- But in this case let me try to take the miss out of your conceptions.No, I have not converted to Buddhism because you can’t.Buddhism is not really a religion, more a set of spiritual teachings.And the main reason I went to Dzogchen Beara was because it was where my late friend Jonathan Philbin Bowman had found spiritual solace.

Dzogchen Beara is not some Shangri-la staffed by shavenheaded nubiles in saffron robes.Its other name is Garranes hostel, and it’s a rucksack-friendly renovated farmhouse, five miles outside Casltetownbere.The only difference is that after breakfast you can take part in a guided meditation in a shrine room.This is what I did for a few days in May in memory of Jonathan.

While doing so I began to read Rinpoche’s book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.I already knew dying was some- thing Buddhists did really well.Back in May, Bob Collins, a former colleague of mine from RTE and a Buddhist, was suffering from cancer with courage beyond my comprehension.He has since died, but having read Rinpoche’s book I now know why he was able to die like a warrior.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, already an accepted spiritual classic, is one of the few books we need to read before we shuffle off the mortal coil.It belongs on the short shelf of timeless spiritual testimony, beside the Confessions of St Augustine, Thomas a Kempis’s Imitation of Christ, Pascal’s Pensees, John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress and James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

By the time I had finished the book I knew Tibetan Buddhism deserved closer study.So I signed up for a nine-day July retreat by Rinpoche, a teacher from the same great classical tradition as the Dalai Lama. Thanks to the Chinese invasion, Tibetan teachers, like Soviet dissidents 30 years ago, now tour the western world, teaching us how to think about the way we think, and showing us what it has to do with dying with dignity.

Rinpoche’s retreat was as stimulating as lunch with Conor Cruise O’Brien. In the flesh Rinpoche bears a dis-concerting resemblance to Pat Rabbitte. Beaming at you with a benign gaze he breaks down your belief in western dualism and explains why Buddhists believe that mind is the matter.An experimental rather than expository teacher (like Brendan Kennelly or the late Gus Martin) Rinpoche does not bake the same boring bread every time he talks.His teaching tapes reveal, Rinpoche has taken Aristotle’s advice and -uses comedy as a teaching tool.Fluent in English and French he pokes pointed and politically’ incorrect fun at national characteristics which are no longer supposed to exist. In Paris he ponders the French passion for talking about the theory of meditation, adding: “But maybe you are not so good on the practice.” Rinpoche rejects esoteric meditation practices, and recommends that Westerners sit on a chair, minus mantras, eyes wide open to the world, and let their minds settle “spaciously”. In Amsterdam he tells Buddhist groupies to get a grip, doing a deadly take-off of dropouts drooling as they “meditate”.In Stockholm he warns his audience against “sauna” meditation, telling the Swedes to stop looking so glum, and warning them to stop looking for instant insights.”Monday I come to Stockholm and its raining.Tuesday I commit suicide.Friday the sun shines.But it’s no good, because I am not around any more.”

Rinpoche’s real business is bringing the four noble truths of Buddhism to the Western world. (Brace yourself for a bit of necessary reductionism.) Life is suffering.Suffering is caused by craving.Stop craving and you stop suffering.To do that you must, master your mind and adopt an ethical existence. Don’t bother writing to tell me Christianity says the same thing.It does not, or at least not as) baldly as Buddha does. (Buddha means merely one who is aware.), Buddhism says that suffering, starts in the mind.Ego is always egging us on, distorting reality and making us slaves of the delusions which dog our daily lives.

Buddhism in short is not so much about loving your neighbour as not labelling him so that you don’t have to love him. The historical Buddha sat under a tree 600 years before Christ was born, and said: “We are what we think.With our thoughts we make the world.” The integrity of that insight needs no Christian prop. There are two reasons why we in Ireland should reflect on the teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche.First, even Celtic tigers have to die.Rinpoche’s book is about getting ready for the day we have to do it.Second, we all suffer. Buddha says we suffer because we want things to be, not what they are, but what we want them to be. I think nationalists and unionists might meditate on that with profit. At the risk of becoming a Buddha bore I shall look at Irish politics from now on with slightly slanted eyes.

Sunday Times Irish Edition

“Comment”

Eoghan Harris

Time for Ireland to see the light;

July 23, 2000. p 20

DIALOGUE IRELAND

APRIL 2009

www-home-llbuddha

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71 Responses

  1. Congrautlations Dialogue Ireland. You must have spent many hours on research and writing to produce this item. I have a great deal more hard, corroborated evidence of Sogyal’s sexual depravity, self-indulgence and financial preoccupation.
    There are now more than 30 people willing to join forces to make sure that Sogyal is taken out of circulation as a teacher effectively and permanently. I would be grateful if you could email me any further information that comes your way. I am especially interested in women who are willing to testify about their sexual encounters with Sogyal. Thei anonymity is guaranteed.

  2. An excellent piece, DI. Thanks for that. You have raised many important points. I think there is a huge amount of denial within Rigpa concerning Rinpoche’s alleged behaviour. Sadly, I think it is in part a way of thinking common in society..that generally it is the woman’s fault. Also, I think people think that if he did do something his motivation was pure at the time. Because there is a lot of rumour and little fact, and because he tells people it is none of their business what he does in his private life,. people let it go.

    To my mind the whole thing rests on the matter of fiduciary duty and trust. If this is betrayed, then something is very, very wrong. I doubt anyone objects to sexual liasons, but when it is with many women and the power imbalance is as great as it is between a student and master/teacher, then it seems to me to be an abuse of power, and benefits no one. Even is some of the women are desiring a sexual relationship with such a teacher, surely it is up to the teacher to maintain boundaries that are in the best interest of the student? When those boundaries don’t exist it all gets very messy.

    For the most part, I think a lot of Rigpa students don’t feel it concerns them, and those who do know about it and remain, will not look on the web to see even what the Janice Doe case was about. Students have invested so much and it doesn’t touch them. It hasn’t happened to them. I find it ironic that sexual misconduct is one of the five basic tenets of non-harming, yet when it arises within the sangha by the teacher then students turn away or dismiss it. If women are being damaged by this then it does matter.

  3. I didn’t look away. I’m a female student of Sogyal Rinpoche and the accusations did bother me for some time. They mainly bothered me, not because he would have done something to me, but because other men in my youth had done something to me. It took some time to let go of my pain. Now I’m not touched by it anymore. It is strange: mind can change.

    By the way, I have never heard Sogyal Rinpoche defending himself about the issue. He just doesn’t comment on it, so what ever you read in the internet that would have been said by him, is not true.

    I have also spoken with close students of his and they have said they have never witnessed anything even remotely related to abuse of female students to have happen.

  4. Is it Sogyal Rinpoche that this person is talking in the article: “… at the hands of a very ordinary, fat and balding, middle aged man with a penchant for beer, food, praise, TV, and sleep.” I was told by Sogyal Rinpoche in a public teaching that he doesn’t need a lot of sleep, he also cannot drink alcohol, he does practice hours per day, teaches and travels, works daily as the spiritual leader and the boss of the multinational organization called Rigpa… Students can’t have private audiences with him, since he is a BUSY person. I really wonder if the author KNOWS who she/he is talking about…

    “I could see Dilgo Khyentse or the Dalai Lama as true masters, but SR appeared to me to be just a teacher who teaches Buddhism, or more likely a salesman who sells Buddhism.” Too bad she stayed even a year there, if she didn’t see Sogyal Rinpoche as a ‘Buddha’. I can see him as a great master with multiple talents both on an ordinary and spiritual level.

    “As a therapist and as a student, I was horrified by his behaviour and his complete lack of compassion and skill.” I also know another councellor and therapist in Rigpa and she doesn’t talk about Sogyal Rinpoche in the same way as you. She would say the opposite about him than you. Most students would speak against you – and not out of naivete, but out of positive experinces, which you seem never to have had in the first place. Your story is a sad one and I don’t know what motivates you.

  5. Mary Finnigan,

    I hope you would try to find your informants from Tibetan Buddhists, who follow the Tibetan tradition – and not from Ngakpa Chogyam, whose group ignores Ngöndro-preliminary practice and starts the practice in faschinating practice called Chöd. For young new people the ‘ghost hunting’ is probabaly interesting, but is it really a good idea?

    “Some Tibetan lamas do not see themselves as accountable in the western sense of the word,” says Ngakpa Chogyam. “They get blown off-centre by too much adulation.” What does this mean? Who is off-centre in his opinion? I would like to see Ngakpa Chogyam approaching Sogyal Rinpoche and telling him he is off-centre. Would be a sight! :D

    http://www.rickross.com/reference/general/general739.html

  6. Many of guys write about this subject but you said really true words.

  7. I agree that the media has a role to ‘expose’ irregularities in any spiritual community. But my question: why is this case settled out of court mediation? Common sense tells me it must be greater than a $10 million awards.
    I am impressed by the fact that Sogyal Rinpoche did not potrayed himself ‘holier than thou’, hiding himeself behind a holy robe or used in Rigpa website to potray what high monastic training he received, or published articles revealing other practitioners ‘faults’ and sex abuse (which is one of the most sensational topics in the public domain) etc.
    In retrospection, this scholar at website linked mentioned below, who was disrobed and still using the ‘respected past’, able to position himeself in other organizations? why? In my opinion, generally, Eastern Buddhists have respect towards known ‘spiritual’ teacher even similar positional abuse might had happened – that refrained them from publishing in the media publicly but settled within the Buddhist Community locally. This forgiveness had given this teacher a chance to start a lay life, may be happier life – even though his Buddhist training was from traditional strict monastic order. But i was amazed by one article published in the Dharmafarer.org website which the page now cannot be found after many attempts (as at 4 Nov. 2010). May be The Kalama Sutta is the answer to many religious abuse reports in the media.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piya_Tan

    Web Essays
    1.Piya Tan (2006, 2010). “Bad friendship: avoiding unwholesome teacher-pupil relationships”. http://dharmafarer.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/34.1-Bad-friendship-Piya.pdf.
    Sincerely
    S.E. Asian reader

  8. bellaB
    “I hope you would try to find your informants from Tibetan Buddhists, who follow the Tibetan tradition – and not from Ngakpa Chogyam, whose group ignores Ngöndro-preliminary practice and starts the practice in faschinating practice called Chöd“Some Tibetan lamas do not see themselves as accountable in the western sense of the word,” says Ngakpa Chogyam.” “They get blown off-centre by too much adulation.” What does this mean? Who is off-centre in his opinion? I would like to see Ngakpa Chogyam approaching Sogyal Rinpoche and telling him he is off-centre. Would be a sight! :D”
    Agree, i like to add another question: where is the heartful chant of 10 thousands ) or 1 million) taking Refuge to the Three Jewels? The Buddha, The Dharma and The Sangha which is the core practise of all traditions of Buddhism? In Malaysia, a spiritual Sangha might just shy away with ‘no comments” from press interviewing on such similar taboo. – to uphold the unbroken lineage of Sangaha for more than 2500 years. On much greater Sangha spirit, those friends from Rigpa and Compassionate Ones had generously ‘ giving to collect the not small sum of expenses – in my opinion, a true test of friendship, not cultship. Kudos to bellaB – your courage!

    S.E. Asian reader

  9. Is it invasion? No,it isn’t.

  10. One of the precepts in Buddhism is to avoid sex misconduct, that means not entering in a sexual act in a relationship that is not based in mutual love and long term commitment. Another precept of Buddhism is to avoid alcohol consumption.

    ‘He opened the door with a beer in his hand and we ended up having sex’….

    Is this his fault? Her fault? We want to blame someone when actually they were both wrong. They were both ignorants.

    Am I going to choose him as my spiritual teacher? Most likely not, because I lost the trust one must have in a master. Am I going to think the worse of him? No I feel deeply compassionate and that helps me to understand his suffering.

    My message is to the people that are interested in Buddhism: Don'[t lose your faith, It’s a beautiful religion, but don’t be blind and always listen to your ‘head’ if something doesn’t sound right to you, then it probably is not the right path for you to follow.

    I started studying Buddhism by myself and I’m quite happy by not been part of any lineage or following any master. I believe in what I feel is right and what is not I just don’t waste my time.

    I hope you all find what you are looking for.

    A hundred hugs

    Kati

  11. An investigative documentary about Sogyal will be aired on Vision TV in Canada on 23 May. It will also be on Bold TV in Canada. Deals are pending with broadcasters in the USA, France and Australia. The programme will be on a web site which for legal reasons is only accessible in Canada.

  12. I would like to knw how to view the Vision TV documentary investigating Sogyal Rinpoche on May 23rd 2011

  13. Unless you live in Canada or have Canadian friends who could record it, you will not be able to see the programme until it is broadcast elsewhere.

  14. May 18 2011
    @dialogueireland. Thank you so much for posting this. I joined Rigpa in1995, and left in 2000 after experiencing his disrespectful and bullying behaviour at a Canberra visit and a retreat in northern NSW (Myall Lakes). I didn’t know at the time of the sexual abuse allegations, but I left because of his behaviour.

    I joined a different group, and guess what …. after ten years … we find our own local lama is (and has been) engaged in the same disgusting behaviour. http://www.ethicalbuddhismandsakyalamas.com/ (not my website but I know the person who created it)

  15. @Moira Smith. Thank you for your comments. It seems to me that a tsunami of revelations is gathering momentum at the moment. Not just Sogyal and not just sex. As a long-time Tib Budh practitioner I find this deeply depressing. One can only hope that as more corruption comes to light there will be less of it around and devotees who have shielded abusive/exploitative lamas will re-connect with their common sense.

  16. Short clips of the documentary “In the Name of Enlightenment” to be shown on Vision TV in Canada on Monday can now be seen.
    http://www.earthbook.tv/religion
    Sex Scandals in Religion
    Scandal Newsfeed (on R.H. side of screen) lists:
    1) In the name of enlightenment
    2) Stephen Batchelor interview
    3) Martine Batchelor interview
    Or similarly go to Vision TV Canada website.
    Apologies for not being able to give direct link, but you should be able to get through following these steps.

  17. i heard dat sogyal rinpoche is married wif two kids. is dat true?

  18. http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gurus.blogspot.com/2011/07/sexual-healing.html

    Good to see someone else exposing Tibetan Buddhism. I started a blog also and hope you don’t mind my using a few posts and you can do the same if you come to my website.

  19. @ Josey. I visited your website and tried to post but couldn’t because I don’t know what URL is. Anway you can get more threads about Sogyal/Rigpa by going to the start of the Dialogue Ireland Briefing Document and looking at the list of groups/cults on the right hand side of the page. Scroll down to Rigpa where you will find 27 further threads. Mary Finnigan’s latest article in the Guardian is the second one down. “Lama sex abuse claims call Buddhist Taboos into question”.
    It has the link to where you can comment on the Guardian page.

  20. I was in a love relationship and a drikung kagyu tulku had sex with my girlfriend even though he knew i was with her. she has such faith in him. i dont anymore. this messed me up alot. a recognized tulku with a 3 year retreat under his belt. all my devotion and faith we’re such a powerful factor in my life that it was a hugely painful process to be able to beginn to really accept that i was not misunderstanding the situation, that even with so many house of pujas and practice this guy was being so selfish and destructive…that was really hard to understand.

    so beware people…to someone who wants to give their life to the dharma, to keep their vows and then be betrayed by those we look up to the most is really devastating. i dont recommend it! so BELIEVE the texts when they say you should be VERY VERY thourough when checking the qualifactaitons of masters

  21. and maybe i should mention i talked to him about it afterwars and his lame excuse was that it just happened and admitted to having broken his vows by doing it. he was quite unapologetic and told me to reflect on impermanence as a cure for my ills. and thereafter did not answer any calls anymore.

  22. his name: rigal rinpoche, drikung kagyu

  23. Another abusive “Rinpoche”.Thank you for exposing him.As I posted on the thread “lama sex abuse claim,” titles mean nothing and having done three year retreat neither.I met the worst thugs there and heard the same stories of abuse from other 3 year retreat places.We need to check teachers ‘s behaviour and characters and also look at their students.It shows a lot.Sexual predators like Sogyal Rinpoche are left unpunished and provide justification for the new generation of Rinpoches to perpetuate this pattern.While in 3 year retreat, the lama in charge,very traditionnalist, told us “it was wrong to talk about lamas sex lives”.Basically, we were not to judge the conduct of a young Rinpoche,married, who was gathering groupies.Fortunately, there are still authentic masters with impeccable ethics and realisation.

  24. Josey
    Nobody here is exposing ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ They are exposing individuals who hide behind the robe of sanctity within that tradition and perpetrate abuse, You may have an axe to grind with Tibetan Buddhism but that does not mean everyone else here does, It may well be time for ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ to start sorting these things out but I am afraid there is no ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ in the way that there is a Roman Catholicism. TIbetan Buddhism is composed of numerous sects and sub-sects and none of these are accountable to a central, pope like figure. Therefore, in the case of Rigyal Rinpoche, for example, one would have to contact the head of the Drukpa Kagyu (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drukpa_Lineage#Contemporary_organisation)

    In fact, in Sogyal Rinpoche’s case, the head of the Nyingma, the late Penor Rinpoche WAS contacted and agreed that Sogyal should not be allowed to teach and that he should immediately retire from public life. Sadly, Sogyal’s wealthy WESTERN benefactors raised enough funds to pay off J Doe and so the feudal lord continues his antics.

    In that case then ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ (more accurately, the Head of Sogyals tradition) DID do something about Sogyal but arrogant Westerners who were no doubt to spiritually weak to admit to themselves that they had been duped, overrode the decision. So, if your looking for someone to blame in that case, look West, not East.

    The sick thing is the so called lamas who continue to teach/support Sogyal. As to their behavior, some are greedy, some are ignorant and others want to take his disciples. At least the latter MIGHT be construed as potentially virtuous. However, the reality is that the face of Tibetan Buddhism is being increasingly blackened and one of the persons responsible for this more than any other is Sogyal Lakar, the spoiled little boy, chosen because his family was connected and wealthy, who thinks he can continue to behave like Hugo Baskerville. And all in the name of the Dharma

    BUT……..I am a Tibetan Buddhist and I have TOTAL CONVICTION IN THE EFFICACY OF THE FAITH AS A PATH TO LIBERATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT. As far as outing the charlatans mentioned above, I am 100% with those whose aim it is to do so. But these charlatans DO NOT represent my faith,. DOWN WITH CULTISH BEHAVIOUR but HANDS OFF TIBETAN BUDDHISM. STOP MIXING THE TWO UP

  25. And if you ar ethinking blaming the Kagyus for ‘Rigyal Rinpoche’, sorry but the current head of the Drukpas has disassociated himself and his tradition from the Kagyus:

    In March 2008, the spiritual head of the Drukpa Lineage, H.H. Gyalwang Drukpa, declared his preference that:

    “ .. The spiritual lineage [should] be known throughout the world firmly and clearly as “Dongyu Palden Drukpa”, meaning the Spiritual Lineage of the Glorious Dragons or simply the “Drukpa Lineage”. I hope and pray that as holders of the Dragon Order, all of my colleagues would be mindful of their activities and their efforts. They have to know and be clear about which household they belong to, and surely they need to be aware of others’ ulterior intention. ”
    He goes on to note that the “different lineages within a major Tibetan Buddhist branch are like brothers, of course some brothers do better than others, but that doesn’t mean that those doing better could self-appoint themselves as the heads of other weaker brothers’ households and take over their assets, wives and children, in the name of ‘helping’ and in the name of ‘supporting’,” and for that reason it is better that dKar-brgyud not be used any longer.”

    So thats the Man to speak to, not the Dalai Lama, not the Karmapa(s).WHO HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RIGYAL.

  26. what is the story with Rigyal Rinpoche Anon?

  27. oh ok, havent seen above, sorry

  28. Sogyal Rinpoches nonrespect towards other peoples life doesn t stop with sexabuse:

    My life was and is manipulated by Sogyal Rinpoche since my childhood. I would be a Bodhisattva and should have potential for enlightenment – therefore I should have been taught by him in my private life without knowing anything about it.
    I have been attending to a meditation retreat in 2005 and following courses in Lerab Ling and Montpellier from 2005 until 2006. In may 2006 I have found out. If I wouldn t ever have met him I would not have found out.

    I am watched by people in his order who are able to:

    read peoples mind
    transmit thoughts
    create and transform emotions and will
    create physical pain and damage
    see you everywhere

    They employ satellite brainweapons which are used by secret services. You can find a lot of informations about these technologies on the internet. Unfortunately I am not the only victim.

    More informations on:

    http://www.jaccarddotorg.wordpress.com or
    http://www.brittaleiajaccard.com -Homepage-english and german

  29. This is very interesting, You’re an excessively skilled blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and look forward to in search of more of your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks

  30. I am very shocked. I have been following him since 2005 and I made vow to follow him until I get enlightenment. I am trying to make excuse for him by saying : He might have a lot of faults but if his teachings are authentic I should ignore his relative site.”

    anyone disagree?

  31. I agree, JJ, it’s complicated, once you commit to a teacher, but you can’t practice the dharma in blind faith. It’s impossible. I wonder about this vow to follow him– was it a tantric vow?

  32. follow ur buddha nature not a guru

  33. I am shocked by all I have read here and elsewhere, but in a way thankful too. Some of the things I have read resonate with me. I have never really felt deeply connected to SR despite following him since 2004. Also I found that things were disorganised sometimes and not well explained so that I was unclear on retreat whether or not I had just taken the Bodhissattva vow or just heard a teaching on it! The same for empowerments. The people who taught me meditation at Rigpa were lovely, but far from realised practictioners. But I accepted it all because they were good people and I didn’t know anything else.

    I have had some concerns for years as a Rigpa member about how expensive everything is with Rigpa and I had witnessed on several retreats, SR’s bullying behaviour towards his ‘inner circle,’ and how rudely he spoke of people at times. He spoke ill of someone who had recently died and told someone else in front of 300 people that her husband was no good. I accepted all of this as him being a master, who knows best, but I can safely say that I found SR quite frightening.

    As a Rigpa member since 2004, I have been ignorant in the sense that I have never heard or come across any of the alleged sexual expolits until they came up on an internet search. Since then I have started to listen to teachings from other lamas and find that for me they are clearer and better teachings and the lamas are kinder. I have learned enough to leave Rigpa and am in the process of joining my partner’s sangha in another more authentically Tibetan lineage. Rigpa is very western and is practically run by westerners. Incidentally I was recently looking into doing a Rigpa online course, the cost for just one month was equivalent to a whole year’s course with another lineage. Rigpa is very expensive and way too dependent on one lama. As for the sex scandals, whether or not it is all true, I think there must be truth in it, as SR and Rigpa has not defended themselves adequately and there is too much smoke for it to be nothing. I wish I could say that the good they do at Rigpa outweighs the bad, but is are these exposes really good for Buddhism and the Dharma?

  34. I should also add that the less expensive course I found seems much better. I always felt that the courses at Rigpa were mostly written by westerners, the hard working Rigpa instructors. SR said his teachings were the best of the best, but having just begun to look at another course, I find that already I feel that I have got something better from higher lamas and that really starts from the beginning with great thoroughness.

  35. When will westerners understand that “one should not look at the hand that is pointing toward the moon but, rather, at where it is pointing”? In other words, Rinpoche’s actions are not our business. What he is teaching may be.

    The very puritanism of westerners, together with their critical tendencies, can easily be their downfall.

    From a westerner with Asian lifetimes —

  36. DI does not look at the moon , but down on earth we do look at actions and influence rather than doctrines and beliefs. It has nothing to do with East or West but abuse.

  37. Don’t judge anything by what you read on the internet. Dont start spreading rumors around until you really know the truth.

    By the way, Buddism is a way of life and westerners seem like they dont have enough patience to practice it. You guys can do just anything to get enlightment right away. You should spend some time to read general teachings of Buddha before joining any religious organizations. By then you’ll know right away if something goes wrong.

    Ps: some of famous dalai lama’s quotes on the internet do not come from him. So grab a book, not some random texts on the internet.

  38. You should spend some time to read general teachings of Buddha before joining any religious organizations. By then you’ll know right away if something goes wrong.

    So you believe that holding the right doctrine will address the issue of abuse. Unlikely outcome, and it indicates a naive view of what happens when someone is abused.

  39. Having over 30 years experience in the “spiritual” trip and seventeen practicing Tibetan Buddhism with a high lama I think I can add my own take on lamas running amok.

    A lama or guru can indeed be highly realized and still be a jerk. Maybe, on some occasions, a lama acting like a jerk can have a beneficial effect on a student. However, it is up to the individual student to realize when their own mind is deceiving the owner of that mind. The women who say they were abused by Sogyal should take more responsibility for their own gullibility. Also maybe a good slap in Sogyal’s face would have done him some good at some point.

    My understanding of the “guru and the foxy young babes” thangs I have personally known of is that the women lined up to become part of the harem. Willingly! To me it seemed some of the women gained status in their own eyes based on their closeness to the teacher. A woman would be Queen of the Harem and proud of it. Then, some time later, she would swear that she was misled and taken advantage of by the teacher saying, ” I was under his spell and he told me it would benefit me so I went along with it. I was crazy then but now I’m sane.”

    To tell the truth here, women chasing after powerful men and giving them whatever they want in return for the “privilege” of being near them has its own rewards and penalties.

    In my opinion Sogyal is a great teacher and also jerk.

  40. In my opinion Sogyal is a great teacher and also jerk

    Yes you have a very conflicted position. You actually are still totally unaware of the power of influence. You may want to have your cake and eat it, but it does not make it less misogynistic.
    You are still part of the school of thought that views women as having brought it on themselves.

    In my opinion Sogyal is a great jerk

  41. People who give away their own power to someone else must be ready to accept the consequences of that action. I’ve talked to a number of women who have had sex with gurus and the vast majority of them said they would do it again. Were/are they deluded. You’d have to talk to them to decide for yourself.

    You may think I am part of “the school of thought that views women as having brought it on themselves.” I would say that, yes, they had a role to play in that particular dance. It takes two to do that particular dance. Acquiescence or going along with what you are told you should do is how a lot of negative things transpire in this world.

  42. What is most obvious to me is that those who see this problem based in consensual conduct are men. The status of a spiritual teacher is one based on his or her conduct which we all assume is in keeping with whatever tradition Christian or Buddhist. The relationship dynamic is one of respect and even awe for those in power. This is not two adults on the same playing field. “Victimization” is not about Americans Eoghan but about the way women are treated by men all over this planet.

    And what is obvious here concerning SR is a genuine lack of honesty and sincerity and indeed the emotional maturity to deal with his personal problems. Having attended lectures and workshops since the mid-eighties, Sogyeal has always struck me as a protracted adolescent.

    For us in the west is it a challenge to feel the Dharma that he can channel or emanate. My understanding is that he is an incarnation of a principle disciple of Padmasambava, who was known at that time to have the same sexual proclivities. This is not to excuse him but to place this in a karmic context.

    Lastly, there is an adage the “bigger the light the bigger the shadow”. I agree that SR has a presence due to his “mind stream” and previous incarnations. There is a practice called Chod that was created by a 12th century Tibetan female yogi, Machig Labdrön. This is designed to confront our very own shadows that for her were seen our an inner demons. I have found it very helpful. Perhaps someone could suggest this practice to SR.

    Peter

  43. For us in the west is it a challenge to feel the Dharma that he can channel or emanate. My understanding is that he is an incarnation of a principle disciple of Padmasambava, who was known at that time to have the same sexual proclivities. This is not to excuse him but to place this in a karmic context.

    Yeah nice theory Peter, except that Tulkuism is a complete crock. Invented by the Vajrayana for the Vajrayana, and having its roots in the atman of Brahmanism.

    So where does that leave Sogyal Rinpoche? I have more than a few ideas.

  44. That is what I mean , that westerners can actually ‘believe’ this , that these Lamas are incarnated emanations, of past incarnations , all the way back to Padmasambhava, an Indian soccerer, is amazing!

    Even by the principles of reincarnation, whether you believe in it or not, from a buddhist perspective, giving the role ‘impermanence’ plays, it was never meant to be that a ‘soul’ reincarnated, i.e. the same ‘soul’ or energy, over and over, that is totally a Hindu concept, not a Buddhist one, yet these Lamas perpetuate this about themselves, that they come back , again and again, (purely for their own greedy reasons, so they can ‘recognize’ a relative or someone the ‘handlers of the Labrangs , i.e. family trust, can ‘control,’ to keep their wealth hoarded by their lineage. it is sheer nonsense from a buddhist perspective and yet Tibetan Buddhists never even notice this absurdity , or notice that it is Hindu based. the majority of teachings of these Lamas is Hindu-based and they don’t even know that what they , themselves are teaching , is not buddhism.

  45. Sogyal r’s lineage was one of ‘wealthy patrons’ lineage, That is what he still is to the Lamas, and they bow deeply to money, as they have us bow deeply to them. He was not of the ‘lineages’ of reincarnated high lamas, coming back again and again. His family lineage goes back to Ladhak , where the family supported the Lamas, he is one of the gaggle of ‘aristocrats’ , by Tibetan standards, families, that left with the high Lamas who ran away from their people when the going got tough and the ‘game was up’ in Tibet, which they realized after nine years of playing nice and cozy with Mao, as long as they thought their kleptocracy would continue untouched. When the serfs started “burning those debt notes of 24% interest” issued by the Lamas and their gaggle of wealthy land and serf owners, and with Chinese approval, they knew the game was up, and so fled to ‘greener pastures” and now they are doing what they always did, garnering the ‘wealth and labor and money”, and cuckolding the male populations in every country they attach to like the leeches and mesmerizing people, worldwide, like they did in Tibet into believing they are the “high incarnation of this or that past Lama,” a totally non-buddhist belief! Amazing that we have been so gullible. We throw away Christianity, because we say it is too theistic, and instead slavishly prostrate to a bunch of manipulative peasants in robes from Tibet, with a medieval education in astrology, calligraphy , and tantric Hinduism that supports a master slave caste system with medieval pedantics, fables about themselves and about cosmologies that never existed except in their medieval imaginations.

    And a part of the west so wants to believe this fantasy, that will make slaves of them, that they criticize anyone mercilessly who tries to wake them up and get them to see through this by saying the Emperor has no Clothes. I guess no child of the last few generations every reads that fairy tale.

  46. I think that people who love the tantric practices, would have oriented toward Wiccan , if this hadn’t been a choice, and TB is so much more ‘esoteric’ and has societies approval, currently.

    By the way Peter, the current holder of the Machig lineage was raising holy hell about the sexual abuse in TB for several years, she was then publically humiliated at gatherings , by the Lamas, brought down to size (she had been ‘elevated’ because she was a smart and good teacher, but also because she was very wealthy, of course) and then she was ‘rehabiliated’ to keep her mouth shut, but being ‘recognized as a reincarnation of Machig and holder of the Chod practice by some obscure Lama in Mongolia. That is what the Lamas are expert in the ‘carrot and the stick.” Now she not only keeps quiet about the sexual abuses rampant in TB, which she well knows about, but is on a throne, with a big hat, just like the rest of them. These Lamas know e more ways than one to ‘skin a cat’ ,

  47. And very convenient Peter, this Chod practice incorporated from Hinduism, as a way to confront our own shadows, and not look at the very real and GIANT shadow side of Tibet Lamaism. After all the main practice of TB is to make everything ‘our shadow” right. Anything we see that is ‘critical of the Lamas” is ‘our shadow’ , our projection, our impure perception!!! Nothing to do with them, and if we, according to the theory , because very very good at submissiveness to them, and perfect our emotional attachments to them, and infantilize ourselves to them, they we too will be fast on our road to an enlightenment that never never comes. Have you ever notices that, no westerner is ever declared as enlightened? We have actually been told , by these Lamas, and have believed it, that it is because of our ‘impure karma’ collectively! That this has never happened. And because we have so much self-hatred which they purposely reinforce in these ‘sanghas’ to make perfect slaves of us, we believed that too. So keep right on doing your Chod practice , which by the way Tsoknyi r used to scoff at in retreats, because in order to do Chod practice, he said, you have to actually believe in ghosts, like Tibetans do, they were terrified by ghosts in Tibet, thus the practice was popular, and westerners don’t have a real belief in ghosts.

  48. Sorry to try and burst your bubble Peter, but every westerner that continues to believe in this nonsense perpetrated by these Lamas, is one more person , in my book , reinforcing the weakening of western civilization and contributing to its destruction, , something ‘my ancestors”, my lineage and probably your own, fought and died for over centuries, i.e. to come out from under the superstitions and the tyranny of kings and their handmaiden priests. You might want to someday contemplate ‘that’ again, You are contributing to the ‘regression’ back to medieval times where superstition and irrationality reigned, keeping the vast majority of people under the thumbs of tyrants and their priests. So the sooner your bubble bursts, by reading the real history of these Lamas, and what they did with this mumbo jumbo to enslave their own people , the better.

  49. The Tibetan people also didn’t ‘do practices’ like Chod, only the lamas did, they kept a monopoly among themselves of the ‘practices’ so they could ‘market them” and be given offerings by the already impoverished people to “practice for them”.That’s how the more trained monks (and there were not many of them, most were illterate and only learned to memorize the chants to be a big machine of chanters) could supplement their upkeep. So the Tibetan people themselves, weren’t given practices to do , like westerners, they didn’t have time, they were too busy slaving away for the Lamas, tilling their land, feeding them , giving their sons to their monasteries and their daughters to the High Lamas for their ‘bliss practices” to keep the ‘engine’ of exploitation of their own people going, and so the actual Tibetans, kept illiterate , only ‘twirled ‘ their prayer wheels to ward off every imagined ghosts, and evil spirit, that they might encounter or ‘step on’, The Tibetan people were constantly terrified of evil spirits, and ghosts, a terror the Lamas reinforced constantly, to keep them terrified and therefore not rising up against the Lamas, Semi-starvation is also helpful to keep people in line and prevent uprisings against the horrible treatment of their own people, for centuries, that they called ‘compassion.”

  50. This is designed to confront our very own shadows that for her were seen our an inner demons. I have found it very helpful. Perhaps someone could suggest this practice to SR.?

    How about suggesting to these enablers , the western Tibetan Lamaists, that Sogyal should be arrested and tried for his using his position of authority to sexually abuse his students? , Ssince he is perpetrating these atrocities on women and using his position to do it in western countries? I don’t give a damn about how much these women go along, there were many that didn’t and they are made to feel ‘helpless’ by the larger society that looks the other way now.

    He is not in Tibet doing this. If this were a college professor, or a psychiatrist, or a psychologist or a counseling priest or minister doing this, he would be tried and be probably in prison for this. Instead Sogyal is given a ‘free pass’ by western society, AND the psychologists and academics, and in no small part by the critical mass of people who have been duped and fooled in these sanghas, who not only say nothing, cowered as they are and thought controlled, but actually go and write books, females who have been taken advantage of , and spread the word about ‘what a blessing it is’ to have been the sexual slaves of these Lamas Well , yes, I guess if you are getting the ‘consolation prizes’ of being on the Lama/Psychology lite book circuit, or gaining the vicarious power of being ‘elevated’ within these sanghas, of being a teacher on ‘emptiness”. More like teachers of ‘emptiheadedness” in my opinion. We have gone insane as a culture. INSANE. and in no small part due to this Tantric Hindu influence through Yoga Centers and Lama centers, bringing their medieval influence to ‘purposely dumb younger generations down’ since the late 60s. when that generation was demanding more equality for everyone. That couldn’t happen , so the wealthy 1% , that always controls things, says its a trade off, sexual abuse for quelling populations into stupidity. THAT is what is reinforcing it, not the misogyny rampant in all societies. George Soros is a big donor to the Dalai Lama, so is Prince Charles, and all the neoliberal right of center poltiticians love the Dalai Lama. Sarkozi’s wife all ‘kozi’ with the Dalai Lama, and mean really ,start connecting the dots. It’s the same paradigm as in Old Tibet. Lama leeches hooked up with a wealthy ‘aristocracy’ of keptocrats, this is NOT rocket science. to keep the masses subdued and “dumbed down”.

  51. Chris, you said,

    “Sorry to try and burst your bubble Peter, but every westerner that continues to believe in this nonsense perpetrated by these Lamas, is one more person , in my book , reinforcing the weakening of western civilization and contributing to its destruction, , something ‘my ancestors”, my lineage and probably your own, fought and died for over centuries, i.e. to come out from under the superstitions and the tyranny of kings and their handmaiden priests. You might want to someday contemplate ‘that’ again, You are contributing to the ‘regression’ back to medieval times where superstition and irrationality reigned, keeping the vast majority of people under the thumbs of tyrants and their priests…”

    Are you serious? Are you really saying that modern, western civilization can stand laud itself above other cultures? Really? Replace “tyranny of kings” with “corporate power” or “drone warfare” and replace “handmaiden priests” with “religious right” and you might get some gist of the work you have ahead of you to promote that view of cultural supremacism.

  52. Correct, Sarkozies wife all ‘kozi’ with Sogyal AND the Dalai Lama and at the ‘celebration’ and opening of his Harem for Sexual Exploitation, Lerab Ling, so he can continue cuckolding western men and exploiting western women ,. THAT is what is allowing it to happen, the same 1% that allowed Tibet to become a slavocracy to the Lamas. This is not ‘rocket science’ just follow the money and the power connections.

  53. Joanne:

    you, as usual you don’t get anything I say. The Lamas are in cahoots with corporate powers, our western plutocracy. You would miss that. They will always be in cahoots with the 1% of any government to survive as a kleptocracy.

  54. Joanne do you always have to misrepresent everything you read? But are you finally admitting your addiction to DI?

  55. By the way Joanne have you anything to say to our Taiwanese, non Communist party Chinese, Buddhists who protested against CIA backed DL and Chinese infiltrating Lamaist?

    http://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/tantric-couple-copulation-lamaism-is-not-buddhism/

  56. And without knowing it Joanne, your post also reflects the self-hatred of your own western societythat the Lamas have reinforced in their ‘dutifully self-abasing subjects” over the decades , repeating the ‘memes’ of self hatred as a westerner, that were purposely reinforced in these groups,- a hatred of western society, that you would trade in for a medieval misogynistic tyranny in a heartbeat , apparently. rather than wake up from your Lama coma and be part of western society that works again to improve conditions.

    You have done so much to be an ‘example’ of exactly what I have been talking about. No comprehension left about what you’ re reading. (a side affect of thought control in the Lamaist groups, as critical thinking skills are weakened and become non-existent , only knee jerk support of the Lamas left, and the ability to use your education only for that now.

  57. Yes Joanne, what about the film that the Taiwanese , non Communist party Chinese Buddhists from the Chan lineage , one of the real stream of Dzogchen Buddhism by the way, not the Lamas version that uses Dzochen to hook people into their cult of Lama exploitation and Hindu Tantray, and , who protested against the CIA backed DL who plays it both ways between China and the U.S., hedging his bets as always ?

    Did you bother to even watch it, you who are so concerned about the sexual abuses of Sogyal? And his couples bliss tantra?

  58. I was simply responding to your cultural supremacism. You can calm down now.

  59. Calm down? So did you watch it? You who are so concerned about Sogyal’s abuses? Or not anymore? Back in the fold? Keeping quiet. except when your Lama loving button is pushed, to come back and hysterically engage western bashing, and non comprehening support of your Lamas.
    Cultural supremacy? You are associating with the “avatar race” that looks down on the whole human race. That see themselves literally above everyone, even sitting on thrones above them. And you talk about cultural supremacy of me?

    So what about the film Joanne? Can’t watch it?

  60. I guess I didn’t expect that you would understand the term “cultural supremacy.” Chris, we are not talking about the entire human race, but an entire culture, thus the term.

    One could also say that you are busy forming a hate group.

    Here is a definition of that:

    “The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) definition of a “hate group” includes those having beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_group

  61. They are Buddhists, non Communist Buddhists going right to the heart of the problem of the sexual abuse, “Lamaism” , they are not “hysterical, virulent anti-cultists” or “Chinese Communists” all the Lama implanted ‘memes’ used to hur at critics of Lamaism and thus dismiss what they are saying , so have you watched it?

  62. Your ‘cut and pasting’ to bulwark your thought control is not answering the question, did you watch it?

  63. And for you to use a definition that was addressing the -rascism against blacks in this country to support another ‘supremist organization’ that ‘enslaved their people like Lamaism did, is so ridiculous its pathetic. And is an example of your constant ‘maligning’ of anyone critical of Lamaism, which is like being critical of the Incas and their human sacrifices. Which , by the way, may havealso continued in Tibet into the 20th century under Lamaism, See “The Taming of the Demons” Violence and “Liberation” and what ‘liberation really meant under Lama Tantra, by Jacob Dalton, a Lamaist still. That he didn’t run as far away as possible from this group after discovering this, shows the power of Lamaism and its thought control, but hey , he’s a ‘neutral academic’ who doesn’t even know what he is exposing.

    So Joanne , did you watch it?.

  64. full Title “The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism” by Jacob Dalton.

    He is one of the ‘culturally neutral academics” and Lamaists, that doesn’t even think this might be a problem, i.e. that a group that was performing ‘human sacrifices’ in the 20th century, should be ‘idealized.” He is another academic , despite uncovering this, that is actively ‘protecting and promoting Lamaism, and the Nyingma lineage of Dzongsar r. That’s how crazy making Lamaism is for even educated people.

    So did you watch it Joanne, we are waiting?

  65. Geez, all this from someone who wasn’t sexually abused by Sogyal…Sogyal IS the thread. right?

  66. Comment from Sockpuppet from House of Prayer has been moved to http://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/commenting-policy

    We note with interest that after a period of prolonged attacks they vacated this site, however, this crude and misguided person is back with irrelevant comments about Masons. We note that they have not furnished us with the recording they claimed contradicted our testimony in Thurles

  67. What about Tara Kadampa Buddhist Centre Ireland?
    Want to criticize that one too?

  68. Are we feeling a bit threatened?
    Do look at our Lamaism section. It is all about Hindu Tantraism and not about Buddhism. You are all at it

    http://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/category/buddhist/tibetan-buddhism-lamaism/

  69. You can download an essay about Sogyal Rinpoche “When fraud is part of a spiritual path – A Tibetan lama’s plays on reality and illusion” here https://www.academia.edu/8283817/_When_Fraud_is_Part_of_a_Spiritual_Path_A_Tibetan_Lamas_Play_on_Reality_and_Illusion_
    The essay is a chapter in the book Minority Religions and Fraud – In good faith, published by Ashgate UK 2014

  70. Alice

    Thank you for academic link.

  71. This is an excellent link , that illuminates how Sogyal uses technology ( since he has incorporated this into his ‘theatre of fraud’, a theatre that all the Lamas engage in ) with his large screen T.V. images of himself, that is the most unique thing about it, otherwise it is ‘cookie cutter’ Lama theatre and a delineation of the systematic thought control techniques that all the lamas use, to turn ordinary westerners into puppets for the Lamas , but Sogyal has developed this theatre into a highly sophisticated and systematic thought control repertoire that is being deconstructed and de-mystified with this Chapter in the book , an excellent description of what they all do, some less and some more sophisticated about it, like Sogyal , She was obviously doing ‘field anthropology and attended the Rigpa retreats and more ‘undercover’ journalists and investigators ought to start doing this.

    It also captures the importance of the ‘older group of advanced students’ of Rigpa, and the essential role of the ‘western student enablers ‘ in all these Lama sanghas, in perpetuating the fraud of the Lamas, both as role models,administrative enablers and stage managers of the fraud .

    Also good explanation of ‘crazy wisdom’ which becomes the primary ‘meme’ planted inside a person to get them to accept any behavior as ‘enlightened’, and how it is used within Lamaism to confuse and disable common sense to deny what is in front of one’s face.

    ‘Crazy wisdom’, and ‘all is an illusion’ both from the tradition of vajrayana tantric Hinduism, are two of the most potent thought control techniques of Lamaism to get a majority of people to become slaves and putty in these Lamas hands.

    http://www.extibetanbuddhist.com

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