A Response to the blog Behind the Thankas

Preface: In publishing the Behind the Thankas materials, Dialogue Ireland offered a right-of-reply to the Rigpa organisation. This offer has so far not being taken up. We have, however, received the following material from a current Rigpa member which we are publishing in lieu of an official response.

A View from a Parallel Universe

The story in the blog Behind the Thankas begins with the description of the inauguration day in Lerab Ling in August 2008. His Holiness of the Dalai Lama was coming to inaugurate the newly built Tibetan Buddhist temple and many guests were invited. My own memories of those days begin earlier, when there was a drastic weather change: on the evening before His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s arrival the clouds were “storming away”. The day of his arrival to Lerab Ling was a completely cloudless day, which was a miracle by itself in the region. We lined up with our khataks to receive him. Everything in nature and in humans was at peace.

The next day hundreds of guests arrived. There was a massive security operation with policemen all over the mountains to secure the guests’ arrival. Some French politicians, many human rights activists, Tibet supporters, many religious leaders of different faiths and friends were invited. Since there were 2000 attendants many of us had to stay outside the temple. The author was nowhere near the inauguration, but writes like he/she had been there. The “reality show” has been watched on YouTube and the author’s description follows the TV camera’s point of view. That is not the view of anybody who was present in the event.

When HH Dalai Lama spoke in the event he was moved into tears while talking about the situation in Tibet. The event was heart warming, even though the sad situation of the Tibetan people was the background of it all.

The next day the special guests were gone and I had the chance to join in the temple. There were present many Tibetan government authorities and many Tibetan Buddhist teachers like Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Sechen Rabjam Rinpoche, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Rigdzin Namkha Gyatso Rinpoche. After the opening Sogyal Rinpoche invited all of them to say something. The atmosphere was great, like being in one big family: everybody was deeply touched and happy. Many stories were told about how the teachers had ended up in the West and many memories were told about Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche said that the earlier demonstrations against HH Dalai Lama in Nantes were organized by the Chinese. The Chinese were in the frontline with their swords shouting (like the Dorje Shugden himself) and some Tibetans at the back joined in shamefully. Orgyen Tobgyal was sad that some of the teachers demanded their students oppose HH Dalai Lama, even though some have even received initiations from him. The students are in difficult position he said.

The idea of the Temple was to be in the spirit of rimé, so that different schools could come together and even different faiths. That was the view of HH Dalai Lama and his wish. All present were worried about the situation in Tibet and agreed that all schools should work together, supporting each other.

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche had a strong effect on the design of the Temple and he helped acquiring relics, statues and so on. During the visit he had asked HH Dalai Lamas’ opinion on the Temple. Many times he had heard HH commenting that a certain temple was too small or too big, but not this time: he was very pleased and said he would come back again, before anybody even had had a chance to invite him.

The author of the blog continues:

“So how did a 63 year old man in poor health…”

Finally it has been admitted that there are health problems that could be the cause for his weight. Sogyal Rinpoche’s health problems caused him to gain weight at an early age. He had an operation in his stomach that was unsuccessful. He is repeatedly called “fat, sleazy, balding, little man” by his critics. How would somebody react if I called him/her “thin, dry, gray, old harp”? The author continues to claim Sogyal Rinpoche “had only a basic education in India” and again he/she forgets that Rinpoche studied Comparative Religion in the Trinity College in Cambridge University. In India he had attended Catholic School in Kalimbong, and then university in Delhi before coming to the west.

“How did he become to be the head of a multi-national organization with tentacles in five continents?”

One explanation in which the Tibetans believe: it has been predicted that Sogyal Rinpoche will achieve a lot in this life as the reincarnated master Terton Sogyal, who was a teacher of the 13th Dalai Lama. The author should be also aware of the concept ‘karma’.

“How did he manage to raise 10 million Euros to build a huge temple in southern France?”

It was an American private donor who thought that the Temple was an important project and, among other people, donated the funds. Have a vision and make it happen! Just choose carefully what kind of vision you’re after!

Finding Sogyal Rinpoche through his book

The author believes that the students feel devotion toward Sogyal Rinpoche because of his charisma and his humour – or because he is famous. That is a very superficial look reflecting more the author’s own agendas: maybe the person likes to follow celebrities around. It shows clearly that he/she hasn’t spoken to anyone. Which spiritual seeker would say: “I’m here because that man is charismatic and funny!” At least I wouldn’t. I would say: I looked for a spiritual path, but I didn’t want to settle with anything I already knew, since I couldn’t relate to the teachings. I wasn’t looking for a cult or a hippie gang that I would fit into and feel at home among my kind. No. Sogyal Rinpoche has commented at times that his students are “so individualistic and stubborn”. That is probably the reason why I am not first one to not buy into the critics’ stories. Of course I have the benefit that I can compare things with my own experiences. I read Sogyal Rinpoche’s book and I thought: this is a truthful book. That is why I wanted to meet him and by chance it happened. The timing was perfect.

Other people who have been inspired by the book have lost a relative, have been faced with terminal cancer or other health problems and found comfort in the book. The author wants to make everything look bad, even Rinpoche’s book, claiming it was made with a motivation to gain riches and not to help people, even though in reality it wouldn’t have touched thousands if it was a shallow book. Many Tibetan Buddhists in the West today have become Buddhists after reading his book. The critics are constantly trying to dishonor the people who wrote the book. Sogyal Rinpoche gave the content and others edited it. Even with the straight forward response Harvey gave, the meaning had to be twisted into something bizarre, ‘an inconclusive response’:

“Sogyal participated totally in every level of the creation of the book and as the representative of his tradition was the indispensable transmitter of its wisdom. The process was a totally mutual collaboration in which Sogyal gave everything and had the final word on every word. It is a very hard process to describe. Any suggestion that Sogyal did not write this book is -I think, absurd and dishonouring of his genius and passion. Both Patrick and I worked tirelessly and I hope, selflessly to honour Sogyal’s brilliance and the wisdom of the tradition. And the book could not exist without the transcripts of Sogyal’s talks that were it’s foundation.”

…but Harvey’s words do not confirm Sogyal as the author” the author insists. He/she thinks that when he/she edits other people’s stories that he/she is actually the “author”, but he/she is an editor. In his/her case it is of course so that he/she becomes the “author” since he/she changes the story line to suit his/her own agenda best. Therefore he/she can’t understand that the more important person – especially in this TBLD case – is the authentic informer. In TBLD Sogyal Rinpoche’s life story is told and is told by him, with his language and voice. It’s not Harvey’s life story: it’s not about his life and he didn’t give the teachings contained in the book.

According to the Blog, Grant, a former Rigpa member, recalls spending time with Harvey “when he was writing the book”. Grant adds: “Could anyone who knows Sogyal imagine him being able to quote the German mystical poet Rainer Maria Rilke? Or the Sufi sage Jalaluddin Rumi? He simply doesn’t have that level of education.” Yes, I can. I have heard him quoting even many more mystics. He did study in Catholic School and Comparative religion in UK. He might even discuss things with Western people like Patrick, Andrew or a Christian priest friend. He happens to meet a lot of people all the time. Is that forbidden? Should he live in a vacuum and all knowledge should just drop down from the sky?

Ngakpa Chogyam: “The book was cobbled together from more than a decade of Sogyal’s teachings,” he says, “I worked for a while on transcribing the tapes. There were a fair few mistakes which I corrected as I went along – particularly about Dzogchen and precise definitions of Buddhist doctrine.” Chogyam is an English speaker, Sogyal Rinpoche is not. Buddhist terminology is still in the process of being translated and corrected. Now Chogyam has corrected some spelling mistakes and he thinks that correcting some definitions of Dzogchen in English puts him up as a transmitter of Dzogchen. Why then are his books are only circulating among their group? Why have I never seen – and, as I believe, will never see – a Tibetan lama quoting him? I don’t know how Ngakpa sees himself, but sounds a bit self-important to me.


The author seems to have found writings on the Internet that she/he refers to. Quite a few are posts written during the past two years on the Dialogue Ireland blog. These people are referred to as authentic informants, so I might as well refer to other anonymous persons on Internet forums. The ones who have given their names or faces in the documentary “In the name of Enlightenment Sex Scandal in Religion”, I do not consider reliable.

Mary Finnigan is mentioned in the blog as a source, and she was also one of the main speakers in the documentary “In the Name of Enlightenment”. She is also the main critic of Sogyal Rinpoche and holds importance in this discussion. Let’s establish some facts: she was drawn to famous people like David Bowie and other stars, and met Sogyal Rinpoche in his youth during the 70’s (she is herself about 10 years older than Rinpoche). After that she has had no contact with him at all. She has claimed to have tried contacting Sogyal Rinpoche several times for an interview. This can’t be verified, but I have spoken with some of the main people in Rigpa and they have told me they have tried to communicate with her many times, although unsuccessfully. Since I know the style she writes, I wouldn’t wonder if Sogyal Rinpoche refuses to give her an interview.

How can one form an opinion about somebody when one hasn’t met the person for four decades, like she hasn’t? She has heard hearsay by people who have written to her or she has met them. How have I formed my opinion about her, whom I have never met in my life? I have read her writings in the newspapers and in different blogs and forums. These are my conclusions.

Finnigan is very sure about her view on Sogyal Rinpoche and his motivation. But can one really say they know somebody well when they haven’t met the person for four decades and probably even in the 70’s they were not very close? Is it possible? At least I can say about myself that I was quite different when I was 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of age. She has said on the Dialogue Ireland that she holds a thick dossier of people who have been sexually abused by Sogyal Rinpoche. She states her goal and shares her ideals with 30 people.

“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.” Mary Finnigan, May 18, 2009

This means that instead of the thick dossier of victims, there are 30 people who did not like Sogyal Rinpoche’s teaching and style. I bet there are many more since he is a very provocative teacher, too direct to many. That is part of being a Dzogchen Master. Can’t get away with that. Many people do not enjoy the rough ride when the Master places a mirror in front of them. It simply isn’t pleasurable to see one’s own hidden traits. How a Dzogchen teacher should approach people? Tapping them on the shoulder and saying: “please continue to grow your ego’s defense mechanisms: arrogance, pride, aggression, evasion, denial and so forth”? I have understood that ego’s task is to make us feel unique and separate from the fellow beings and the universe – and the Buddhist teachings are about countering that ‘false view’.

Even the said victims do not hold special meaning in Finnigan’s mind. Even though she has claimed to hold a dossier of personal stories by sexually abused victims, she can still say things like this:

“Hi Kapasi, If all the women came forward they’d fill the Royal Albert Hall…

And imagine what will happen to S in the bardos…all those screeching harpies….” Pema, August 27th, 2009

This is meant as a joke but on the other hand reveals her thinking. For me it seems this is almost as entertainment to her, not at all serious. I think it is also an indication that she doesn’t know any of those claimed victims, because they are too abstract for her and she can jokingly call them “harpies”.

“Sogyal could not have scaled the giddy heights without the help of his long-term right-hand man Patrick Gaffney”, writes the author of the blog: “Some former insiders, like the journalist Mary Finnigan, go further: “Patrick is the real brains behind Rigpa,” she says, “Sogyal is merely the public persona.” Finnigan surely is an old former “insider”. Now she is an outsider who has no idea of what is going on. Patrick respects Sogyal Rinpoche deeply and he knows a lot better than the Finnigan the reasons for this respect. Sogyal Rinpoche is not just a public persona – he is the holder and the leader of it all. If you arrived in a strange country wouldn’t it be best to seek advice from the locals, how to manage there?

“In the winter of 1973 Sogyal turned up in London, announcing that he wanted to set up a centre where teachings could be given by some of the great Tibetan meditating yogis. Around this time he met Patrick Gaffney and another faithful acolyte, Dominique Side.”

These people, Patrick Gaffney, the “brains” as Finnigan calls him, and Dominique Side, a published author, have deep devotion toward Sogyal Rinpoche. Since they stuck around they have reaped the benefits of knowing such master and received the blessings of the lineage.

“According to Mary Finnigan, Sogyal already had a reputation as a playboy with a penchant for pretty girls when he arrived in London.”

Which young man wouldn’t have sexual appetite and also an adventurous nature? At least I had, when I was young – and I’m a Western woman. I also heard that women practically threw themselves at him, if they had a chance. One of these women was Victoria Barlow, who is constantly referred to and who is one of the main speakers for the cause.

“Yet in 1994 an American woman known as Janice Doe sued Sogyal for sexual assault and battery.”

This case has been settled. No one knows what has happened. We have only Victoria Barlow’s words echoing the story, but are her words trustworthy? The lawyer of the Janice Doe was the husband of the Zen priestess, who wanted to pursue the court case for Janice Doe. Many think she had an agenda: Tibetan Buddhism attracted more followers than her Zen Buddhist courses. Even in this conversation there are Theravada Buddhism supporters demonising Dzogchen and Tantric methods.

Professors Thurman and Simmer-Brown depicted them as western teachers with dubious motivation who are jealous of the Asian teachers. I have never heard of any mainstream Tibetan Master claiming that Sogyal Rinpoche was a fraud or otherwise unqualified.” Let’s Be Fair, July 9, 2009

“The glorification of Sogyal suffered a serious setback and in order to silence Janice Doe, Rigpa was forced to part with a large sum of money. Just how much money was involved in the out-of-court settlement is a closely guarded secret, but it is alleged to run into millions of dollars.”

Here the author goes again. Alleged by whom? Where can we verify that ANY amount has been paid – and to whom? If it was written 50$ was paid, we would think the harm done was very small, but since the amount “MILLIONS of dollars” is repeatedly written by the critics we are truly convinced a great tragedy had occurred. They keep coming up with “millions” because there’s an agenda: removing Sogyal Rinpoche out of circulation. But it’s not the critics, fortunately, who determine if Sogyal Rinpoche teaches. There are the dedicated students who ask him to teach.

Many have justified their view on Sogyal Rinpoche for a long time through the testimony of Victoria Barlow. Victoria has not only claimed of having had sexual relationship with Sogyal Rinpoche, but also with His Holiness Sakya Trizin. According to her writings on Internet forums she wasn’t satisfied with either of them, since she ended up talking about her private life in public. Both of the teachers were “grounting” during sex, she says. Many critics have denied her stories about HH Sakya Trizin, but continue to believe her stories about Sogyal Rinpoche. Talking about one’s private life in public might be an indicator of a person without boundaries, which is quite common trait among those that have been sexually abused as children. Victoria has claimed innocence in her story: she as a student came to talk about Buddhism with a lama.

“I went to an apartment to see a highly esteemed lama to discuss religion”, she said, “he opened the door without a shirt on and with a can of beer in his hand.” Once they were on the sofa, Barlow continued, “Sogyal lunged at me with sloppy kisses and groping. I thought I should take it as a compliment so I surrendered to him – but it had a horrible effect on me and caused a lot of depression.”

Depression is the aftermath of sexually abused children, and as adults some seek new partners in order to find acceptance and get rid of the depression – but in fact it leads to more depression and in some cases to sexual addiction if the person doesn’t seek treatment. On the other hand sex in general might feel abusive to them, no matter what were the circumstances, because of the past memories.

I have serious doubts about that particular view on the events described by Barlow, since she also claims that Sogyal Rinpoche was borrowing her mother’s phone card. A regular student doesn’t lend one’s phone card to Sogyal Rinpoche. I also believe the following comment is Victoria describing how she met one other informant, Deidre or Janine. It clearly indicates she considers herself a girlfriend and not a student. Their relationship happened (if it happened at all) when Sogyal Rinpoche was under 30 years of age, in the 70’s. I also wonder if she told him she has been abused as a child? This kind of information would cause a difference in any man.

“I have been in contact with Mary Finnigan for a number of years now and have given my permission for her to use my statement of my experience of Rigpa and Sogyal under a pseudonym, Last year she brought to my house the young woman mentioned above who told me of her own time as an attendant “dakini” to Sogyal. I was profoundly shocked. Her account rang true because I had been a girlfriend of Sogyal’s many years ago and knew what he could be like and how the devoted students of Sogyal would cover up his behaviour.” Tiger Lily, July 6, 2009

In the documentary “In the name of Enlightenment Sex Scandal in Religion” there are the journalist Finnigan and two of her female friends there: Victoria Barlow and a young woman who uses pseudonyms “Mimi” on the video and “Janine” in the Behind the Thankas blog. I haven’t seen the whole documentary, which has only been broadcasted on Christian based TV stations. On the video Barlow shows the innocent face of “an unsuspecting student” visiting her lama. I don’t know if her motivation is caused by disappointment that the relationship didn’t last or anger from childhood traumas.

Before I discuss “Janine”, let’s continue with “Deidre”. Deidre claims that Sogyal Rinpoche was begging her to have sex with him for six hours – and he was lying in his bed all the time! Which one of you, who have met Sogyal Rinpoche, believes he would act in this way: begging for sex for six hours?

“He ground me down”, she says, “it was the same thing over and over – Do you love me? Do you trust me? It must have gone on for about six hours. Eventually I was exhausted and gave up resisting. The whole thing revolved around surrender to him and I was scared of losing the opportunity to heal my family.

I think a woman who lasted in resisting sex for six hours, could have as well walked away. Unbelievable story, I must say. During the six hours there must have been gaps where Diedre would have heard her inner voice and summoned her strength to say: “No!” If she didn’t act in this way, I think she was open to the idea of sex. I still must say I can’t imagine Rinpoche with his busy life would waste six hours begging a woman. It doesn’t sound like him.

“Dierdre was told by Rigpa devotees that if you have negative feelings, you destroy your relationship with the guru.”

I have NEVER heard anybody telling me anything like that in Rigpa. And gosh, I have had my fair share of projections towards him! I can feel what ever I feel in Rigpa. That is part of the whole package: tantric methods are about transforming the emotions, not rejecting them! If you were not allowed to feel and think what you want, then how can you heal and how can you evolve spiritually? Where is all the understanding? What ‘Buddhist’ invents these stories?

“I only left the house to go to the teachings, where I saw 500 people prostrating themselves to the lama. The rest of the time I listened to him on tape, saying things like ‘pray to me, see me as the Buddha, love me, trust me, be obedient to me’“

That doesn’t sound like a Rigpa tape! Rigpa tapes are teachings – not some “guru” begging people to worship himself… I don’t know who still believes these stories? This is ridiculous – and I’m not afraid to say it. This is so ridiculous that I don’t believe this woman even exists.

“Mimi” is a name that the young woman “Janine” uses on a documentary. There is in reality a real Mimi working in Rigpa, so I think it was an intentional choice of pseudonym. Now in the blog her name has been changed into “Janine”, which is close to Janice Doe – a clever choice again. We might be fooled into thinking there are more than one young female. When reading her description of events one can notice many things that are not a facts but invented stories. I won’t even bother to repeat the Harlequin stories.

“Indoctrination into the inner circle is designed as a life sentence. A young, vulnerable woman is programmed to accept Sogyal’s god-like status and to be compliant with his wishes and whims, slave-like in her willingness to accept a punishing workload and available for sex on demand. She is separated from her family and friends, discouraged from contact with the outside world and persuaded to see Rigpa as her family, with Sogyal (confusingly as father-lover) in absolute power and control.”

In the majority of cases, it works.” Do you believe it works? Are you a bit naive? A life-sentence? Someone, who has this sort of ideas, must be a bit imbalanced. People work in Rigpa, some stay and some don’t. Some find their true calling outside Rigpa helping people. That was one of the things Rinpoche said in 3-year retreat: first we mature the Sangha and then we can benefit beings in the outside world. I have seen many family members of workers and nuns visiting Rigpa. It’s not a closed world of it’s own.

“By the time these women realise they are being abused and exploited and are deeply embedded in a coercive cult, it is too late for them to extricate themselves. Their investment is total and their chances of making lives for themselves beyond Rigpa have dwindled into non-existence.”

I am aware that ‘battered, abused women’ are often suffering from low self-esteem that comes from the subjugation. Their self-respect is taken away and it’s hard for them to reveal their situation to anybody. There’s fear, shame and quilt: how come this is happening to me, am I to be blamed? They begin to identify themselves with their experiences and become depressed, which could cause them to be unable to seek help. I know a few women in my life outside Rigpa who have been or are in a violent relationship. I know it’s very difficult for them to seek changes, if their lives are under a threat or they feel they need the abuser in some way in their lives: to avoid loneliness or something else. I also know a woman who chose not to continue a violent relationship. Different women have different responses to violent men. I guess it has something to do with overall circumstances around the relationship and timing.  According to my own experience through friends some of the women who stay in abusive relationships may have mental or emotional problems already prior to their present relationship. By saying this I don’t mean to blame anyone, but there are many factors involved.

I do not believe all of the ‘claimed victims’ are weak. Especially when I’ve seen those “Mad Harem” women, who are radiant and strong. They do not look fearful, evasive, beaten and bruised: that would be so obvious and people would eventually notice it. On the contrary I find many of those women empowered and joyful. At times some of them are reading out teaching notes and their voices are beautiful and confident – not shaking in fear and pain. These women have their own children and husbands or boyfriends. They are not socially isolated. They don’t all live in Lerab Ling, but outside and also abroad. They do not fit into the category of domestic violence victims, where abused, bruised house wives with kids have no one to turn to.

If a woman was so much in pain she would run away, eventually. People are mostly kind and caring in Rigpa. There are psychologists who work in Rigpa who would help someone wanting to escape! There would be many ‘Janines’ every year! Remember the circulation of women is constant. As the critics claim: filling The Royal Albert Hall.

May I also remind you that Europe is not America, where social security is practically non-existent and people end up in the street once they loose their homes or jobs. Here we have social security, social networks for helping people starting a new, if they didn’t have relatives and friends they could seek help from. One can always start a new life.

Janine, 22 years old, was

“Determined to take every opportunity to be close to him (her father!), Janine started attending Sogyal’s teachings with her father – usually falling asleep against his back. Inevitably Sogyal’s lasciviously roving eye alighted on Janine and in due course she was lured into the brainwashing process that leads to his bedroom.”

This description of a girl falling to sleep on her father’s back sounds like someone under 12 years old! Which 22-year old is not leading her own life with studies, friends and boyfriends and so on – but sleeping against her daddy’s back in Buddhist teachings! But then later she takes her distance to her father (must be the approaching puberty) as she takes her place in the Mad Harem – and the father has no clue! Amazing.

Fortunately one of those young women – in real life – who work in the lama kitchen today has her mother living and working in Lerab Ling. The mother is a therapist in Rigpa, and I doubt she would be as blind to her daughter’s destiny as Janine’s father was. The mother has been around for decades and she knows all secrets in and out since she treats quite many people.

The Behind the Thankas episode is just really madly inventive. I think Sogyal Rinpoche prefers Thankas better than girlie pictures. Why would he need girlie pictures if he had “an orgy with his harem consisting of eight women”? Don’t you think the workers who are constantly arranging the Thanka paintings in Lerab Ling wouldn’t notice those ridiculous images?

“Dakinis who were in the harem (eight female names, known persons in Rigpa) before Janine’s arrival gradually came to accept her as a team member. Eventually they announced that she should join them in an orgy. Janine was not keen.”

They announced it to Janine? Only Janine was not keen. Is it a Harlequin book or what she has been reading? These people are really not a group, you know? They have their own busy lives, different working areas and men in their lives. Did these eight women inform their male friends that they couldn’t come home today, because there’s an orgy at Rinpoche’s? Instead of drawing pictures I think Janine should write Harlequin books: the terrible dark Beast kept us Princesses in a chamber of evils….

What about the times when Rinpoche is not in Lerab Ling? He is travelling all the time, at times spending moths in a row in different countries, like US and Australia. Maybe the “victims” could use these long periods of his absence planning their escape route? Sogyal Rinpoche is not and cannot control “his claimed victims” in a way that a husband at home could: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – since he is simply not there and he is too busy with other matters in the Universe.

One might in all decency ask themselves: how many women like orgies in general? It’s mostly a male fantasy. At least I wouldn’t like to share my sex life and partner with other women. It’s an amazing co-incidence that those few women are Buddhists and also workers in Rigpa.

My best friend, whom I have known longer than I have spent in Rigpa, works in Lerab Ling many months a year. Knowing him has made me trust men again after my youth. He knows these claimed ‘harem women’. He told me the background stories of these women – and they do not belong to any harem.

The thing about writing anonymously about people you mention (as your co-victims) by their name is that it is cowardice. Who would do such a thing? I think it’s valid to question the moral character of a person who claims to have been part of a harem (even if she claims she didn’t want to), and she puts out publicly the names of similar people in similar positions that she herself claims to have been in, while not mentioning her own name. Why do that? Why not to leave the names of the “victims” out? To show the readers she knows the names of those people and making it look like she knows them personally? Or to practice public humiliation which they criticize others of? Anybody who opens their ears during the teachings would have known – and in the future will know – the names of these people. They will think these people have something to do with a mad harem.

Janine is revealing:

“After this a lot of important Rigpa people called me. There were all sorts of threats and I heard that men were claiming I’d slept with them and were calling me a whore. But they should know that Sogyal is very possessive about the women he likes – he only lets the ones he wants to get rid off sleep with other men. I know now that many of the things he does are punishable by law. I am not afraid of him”.

Men in Rigpa are the kindest gentlemen one can find on this Earth. Nobody is calling women “whores”. People have their own relationships and they are not offered “left overs” from Sogyal Rinpoche.

Sogyal Rinpoche’s child’s mother:

“It was window dressing,” says one former Sogyal dakini, “the Dalai Lama blessed the relationship, but Sogyal was never monogamous. One of his other women – (name removed) — saw herself as the ‘wife’ and she would not have allowed him to stop having sex with her.”

In this episode it’s not Sogyal Rinpoche who is forcing women to have sex with him, but it’s one of the Dakinis who is demanding Sogyal Rinpoche to have sex with her? Interesting. How many of those Dakinis are victims and how many are in a position of making demands on Sogyal Rinpoche? Sometimes abusive relationships of course are binding both parties in some strange way. Since most of the “harem victims” have male friends of their own, are they seriously after an elderly man? Aren’t their own younger partners enough? How often women principally want sex from their human relationships? According to my limited experience it’s quite often so that men are after sex, but women are after other things too. What about the mentioned “dakini’s” long term boyfriend? How did he feel about these events? She and the younger man seemed so close together and everybody in Rigpa knew them: they were an item. They don’t even live in the same country as Sogyal Rinpoche. Their relationship began and lasted during and after Rinpoche’s relationship to his child’s mother. Now the young man has a new relationship and a child that he brought to be blessed by Rinpoche a few years ago. Sogyal Rinpoche’s child’s mother has been visiting Lerab Ling during the past years. She also lives in another country.

Dakinis are considered to represent wisdom – and I have seen Sogyal Rinpoche asking advice from the so called “dakinis” many times during the teachings. He asks their opinion sometimes, if he should teach something or not, if he should reveal some information or not. Sometimes he also asks similar questions from the audience. It’s communication between the students and the teacher – not dominance.

Once Sogyal Rinpoche asked one of the women to say something and she said: “I remember I had some (negative) patterns of thinking in the past, but somehow they are gone. I just can relate to them anymore, because they seem like gone.” I think she has evolved as a person, her experience has changed regarding some things in her past, so that also speaks against victim hood. Victims of abuse do not evolve, they are stuck in emotions, in the prison of their situation.

Everybody in our culture knows about the teachers’ power over the students and they may be in position where they could use their power wrong. Many of us have personal experiences of such events or “invitations” by teachers in our Universities and so on. How many of those women who have been abused by their teacher have gained a permanent position in the teacher’s life? Some are abused and thrown away. If they haven’t been thrown away, they can’t say they were abused, if their relationship ended up in a marriage. The abuse happens, when the woman is told what to do and told that she will be rewarded somehow. These situations do not usually last for years, since the victims are thrown away, if they complain and do not obey. Soon enough they are being replaced by the next victim.

Many critics feel the need to show the foreign men their place and educate how women should be treated. I could join them eagerly since I have known a few men from non-Western cultures personally and through my friends. But then I must also say that I have never seen Sogyal Rinpoche treating his “dakinis” without respect. They are not thrown away, but have remained for years or decades. He usually doesn’t send anybody away. He accepts followers and doesn’t pick and choose like some teachers do. He wants to help sentient beings regardless of their faults and failures. Like we all know, most of the interaction between Sogyal Rinpoche and his students happens publicly – and not behind some doors. Sometimes the students complain publicly about things, they resist and so on. Sogyal Rinpoche then shows how to do things, explains until they and us, the audience, understand what he is up to.

The last story is picked up from an anonymous poster ‘lalatee’ on the Dialogue Ireland blog:

“The last straw for me was when he called a senior assistant to come to the dais. She’s a respected professional in her 60s doing amazing work with the bereaved and the dying. She was forced to kneel beside Sogyal, while he embraced her closely and put his hand on her chest.” (lalatee, July , 2011)

It’s a new line in the story, because the old stories repeat that he is only after young women.

Mental abuse

The old story was the sexual abuse, but since there seems not to be too many victims (that would fill the Royal Albert Hall) the critics have gone for something else. Now it’s mental abuse or financial abuse. Two years ago he was still “an alcoholic, porn viewer, over eating fat sleazeball” according to critics.

Sogyal Rinpoche has many skills. He is not only a great teacher who can reach many people, which means having a lot of experience and psychological understanding. He is also skilled in visual arts and calligraphy. What puzzles people mostly is that he is not a monk – he doesn’t look like a fragile saint and he has management skills that saintly beings usually do not. It seems like people have gotten used to dividing different skills between different people, and it’s somehow incomprehensible when there are multitalented people. There was Leonardo da Vinci, but such multitalented people can’t exist today can they? How many people at the top of the business world are just single talented? How come Dzongsar Khyentse is able to make movies? He is supposed to be a Buddhist teacher.

“He was a slave driver”, says one squatter, Jack, “he had us working flat out, restoring the house, building a shrine, putting up shelves and so on – while he sat around directing operations.” 

In no Buddhist organization is the teacher, and in no Christian church is the priest, doing the brickwork. It’s obvious that he is not ‘hands on’ in everything. He is the teacher and he is teaching and travelling around the world. There were paid construction workers, Bhutanese and Western artists, gardeners and the rest, who had somebody responsible as a head of each team. Sogyal Rinpoche was not there telling people to lift the bricks! People worked voluntarily and they were paid.

An anonymous poster, who visited Rigpa and afterwards wrote about her experience on the Dialogue Ireland, is alarmed:

“I couldn’t help thinking that if he’s really a Vajra Master why does he need to follow a precise order of events? Why are the prepared readings and video excerpts so important? I really think there’s something else going on.”

There is something else going on. Well noticed. It’s a shame the person didn’t stay long enough to know what it is all about.

Sogyal Rinpoche has an overall vision about situations, he is able to see very quickly to the point of things. He has also been teaching business people how to work more efficiently. I guess it has to do with being present and being able to cut to the point. If one’s mind is all over the place one is blurry and can’t be present in the moment. It’s not a conducive state for anything. Being strict with students and demanding presence is part of the training where he points out the weakness in a practical manner. Remember, that he knows his workers quite well. There are people who have made a life choice: they have left ordinary Samsaric working life and they have decided to be in the presence of the Master. If he allowed them to sit back and continue as they were, what would be the use of that life change?

Buddhist teachings are about getting rid of the ego. There are different methods for removing that self so that the nature of mind can dawn from within. One could practice the Theravadan method, meditation, but the Tantric and especially Dzogchen are considered faster methods. If one has tried Tantric visualization and it has worked, the person is convinced of the effect. If one hasn’t tried then there’s nothing much to argue there. People seem to know a lot about Dzogchen methods, and claim to have authority to criticize Dzogchen Masters. At the end of the day there has to be devotion – and if there isn’t a connection between teacher and the student it just doesn’t work. There will always be a block, a lack of understanding that can’t be explained away. It’s almost like somebody trying to explain to a cat that they should become vegetarians. People, based on their own standards, criticize others who have a deep connection, a deep devotion and have a path ahead of them. It just doesn’t make sense to criticize others, but of course people are entitled to their own experiences and opinions.

This one is my own experience of the so called “mental abuse”, which I consider the Dzogchen Master pressing the student’s buttons. It happened on a retreat where we did strong group practice for 10 days. One night I saw two strong dreams and I woke into them at 2am. In the first one I received instructions how to dive very deep, 20-30 meters, into a pool. After I surfaced again I flew on a boat above the ocean to the infinite sky (just like the view in Dzogchen Beara). In the other dream I asked a question about a certain practice which is not practiced in Rigpa, after which SR turned into a wrathful form with big eyes, trying to kill me, I thought (trying to kill my ego, I guess). In the dream he chased me around and tried to hit me with something. I noticed that it was an umbrella (symbol of refuge and protection). Then I turned around and I told him that I’m not doing the practice I asked questions about. Then he calmed down in my dream and said: “At least you understand.”

The next day in real life SR was really pressing all my feminist buttons, and I was boiling inside. I wanted to give him a private message where I would tell him how I felt about him. I also spoke to a worker. In the evening I went outside to eat in a restaurant and when I sat down on the chair I thought: “Oh, never mind. Now I just want to let go of my anger and relax.” What happened next was that I just felt this incredible all-pervasive feeling of love. It was so extraordinary that I thought: “where is this coming from?” Then I remembered the teachings that it is inside oneself, the abyss of love. That love was so wide it had no borders and had no object to grasp onto. It just went right through me.

One could consider like me, that the pressing of people’s buttons might have a deeper purpose than what meets the eye? Maybe I was so bull-headed that I needed all my feminist protective cover removed? Maybe he used it in order to crack me (and my self-preserving ego) open? At least I’m truly happy about my experience which lasted for about five minutes. I was in the presence of my best friend and I told him about my experience in wonder.

My own experience reminds me of the old Buddhist story:

One great master in the nineteenth century had a disciple who was very thick-headed. The master had taught him again and again, trying to introduce him to the nature of his mind. Still he did not get it. Finally, the master became furious and told him: “Look, I want you to carry this bag full of barley up to the top of that mountain over there. But you mustn’t stop and rest. Just keep on going until you reach the top.

The disciple was a simple man, but he had unshakable devotion and trust in his master, and he did exactly as he had been told. The bag was heavy and it took him a long time.

At last, when he reached the top, he dropped the bag. He slumped to the ground, overcome with exhaustion, but deeply relaxed. All his resistance had dissolved, and with it his ordinary mind. At that instant he suddenly realized the nature of his mind. He ran back down the mountain, and, against all convention, burst into his master’s room.

I think I’ve got it now . . . I’ve really got it!

His master smiled at him knowingly. “So you had an interesting climb up the mountain, did you?

Critics blocking away the other side, the reality

The author of the blog bases his/her opinions about Sogyal Rinpoche’s skills to teach Dzogchen: a friend of theirs who has been in Rigpa didn’t have any experience of the nature of mind. Having an experience is not an automatic event, nor a guaranteed service you will receive after you’ve paid the retreat fee. Having an experience requires devotion and other circumstances in order to happen. One can’t naively blame the teacher for their own lack of practice, devotion and so forth. I think it is quite self-important to claim to know the level of any lama’s realization – especially when they haven’t obviously even been in the presence of the lama in question. Some critics haven’t even seen him for four decades.

The critics have shown many times insensitivity towards other people with differing views. They block away information that disturbs the image they are fighting hard to paint. For example Finnigan said after ThomasKent had cleared her mistakes in various matters that she claims as facts: “You and I must be inhabiting parallel universes.” That is how I chose the title for my response.

ThomasKent (Nov 6th, 2011) corrected Finnigan about the author of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. In the Blog it is also claimed Sogyal Rinpoche didn’t write the book, rather that Andrew Harwey and Patrick Gaffney were the authors even though in reality they merely edited the public teachings that the book was based on. It is also claimed that Sogyal Rinpoche is unable to read Tibetan. The fact is that his reading is perfect and he works as a head of the translation team Lotsawa House that is working with many Tibetan Buddhist texts. The widely sold Rigpa Calendar has his eloquent calligraphy all over the place. The Tibetan font used in the Calendar is designed and written by him. He has said he learnt painting calligraphy in his childhood. Calligraphy is part of his esthetic skills that can be seen influencing the many Rigpa publications.

“Ever since then, allegations around his private life, financial affairs and credentials as a lama have surfaced from disillusioned former disciples.”

Fortunately we have practicing Buddhists who disagree with the author and whoever those people are. The people who work in the administration and are in the highest positions in the Rigpa organization have been there for decades. The critic’s friends never worked in the management department of Rigpa. How could they know a thing? They can’t. In Rigpa there are Western people working – and those people know where the money is going. It goes to bills, salaries, as offerings to very poor monasteries in India and elsewhere and to visiting lamas, like Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Of course a person with a poverty mentality would feel deprived when some poor nunnery in Manali gets a little support. The Chinese especially would be happy if the Tibetans were poor and helpless.

Finnigan claims such events have taken place:

“Sogyal was at Merigar some years ago. I hear that this visit went down like a lead balloon. Apparently he had about 5 people at his *teachings* (plagiarised from ChNN and other lamas) and they were so banal he was laughed off the premises. I don’t have feedback on this latest one yet — but it will happen in due course. When it does I will post again here.” Pema, September 22nd, 2009

Plagiarized from ChNN? I thought that Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and Sogyal Rinpoche didn’t spend much time together in the early days. Somebody also taught Dzogchen to Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Others, like Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, taught Sogyal Rinpoche. That is how the lineage is formed, or did they also skip that particular point about Tibetan Buddhism? Teachings originate from past and continue from one generation to another.

“She makes the claim that Chögyal Namkhai Norbu knows everything about the allegations around Sogyal Rinpoche and therefore shuns him” Let’s be fair, July 10th, 2009

Obviously it wasn’t so bad since Sogyal Rinpoche was invited to teach at the Dzogchen Community again. This August (2011) Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche taught in Rigpa.

Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche has said more than once in my presence that Sogyal Rinpoche is a fully qualified Dzogchen master.” TomasKent, 6th November 2011

This picture of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche and Sogyal Rinpoche doesn’t need explanation:

“I am confident that the journalistic treatment I am currently undertaking, together with a book project, will be effective in taking Sogyal out of circulation as a teacher and denying him access to his sexual hunting grounds.” Mary Finnigan, July 6th, 2009

She thinks that Sogyal Rinpoche teaches for the purpose of getting laid. He has a vast vision, not limited to what Finnigan is able to comprehend – unfortunately she takes herself too seriously. Students ask the teacher to teach and not the other way around, remember? Buddhism is not an obligatory subject at school.

Now Western Buddhist lama Ngakpa Chogyam has been dragged into the filth in the Blog. His own group has been criticized for inauthentic lineage and teachings, but it seems like they have settled into their own practice and they are not going to change. It still seems easy to start siding with someone who criticizes Ethnic Tibetan Buddhist teachers, but quite unwise unless the comment was made decades ago. Recently a Tibetan lama said that one mark of an authentic teacher is the fact that they don’t talk badly about other teachers.

“Ngakpa Chogyam also became aware of gaps in Sogyal’s knowledge: “He asked me a lot of questions about Dzogchen”, he says, “and I was surprised by the way he’d enquire – almost, I thought at the time, as if he didn’t know the answers. I ended up talking a lot when we were alone together – but it occurred to me later that he never asked questions like this when anyone else was around.”

It didn’t occur to Ngakpa Chogyam, who is not Ethnic Tibetan, that the lamas question students on their knowledge? It is a common way of checking the students. Did Ngakpa Chogyam already then state that he is a teacher himself, authorized by Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche? Authorization was a false claim and for the claim he has been widely criticized. Today they no longer make the claim so there’s no reason to debate it, but I want to bring it to people’s attention, so they can consider Ngakpa’s reasons for siding with such a Blog.

“You have some silly stuff about Sogyal Rinpoche’s teacher Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche allegedly “suggesting he give up teaching for a while and return to India to ‘ripen his practice’.” Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche would never make public his personal practice advice to any of his students let alone one of his close Tulku disciples like Sogyal Rinpoche. It isn’t even a cultural probability. This story is just someone’s fabricated spin. Sogyal Rinpoche remained one of Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche’s close disciples and continued to serve him even after Rigpa was established. To this day Rinpoche receives frequent counsel from Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche’s Sangyum (wife) and enjoys close relations with other members of the family. They would laugh if they heard this ridiculous claim.” Sogyal Rinpoche is Amazing’, July 5th, 2009

Now in the Thanka Blog the girl called Janine, Mimi in the ‘documentary’, obviously, reveals that she is part of Sogyal Rinpoche’s harem. Girls are said to have been sexually harassed and strange games are being played. They are supposedly washing him and wiping his ass. The whole story is like from a cheap movie. So cheap that I wouldn’t bother to look.

The author said the “brains” behind Rigpa is Patrick, but in this new sequence written by Janine (must be the 4th season in the series) he is the dumb “cuckold” boyfriend whose woman is abused. This series is getting more interesting as the seasons develop.

The Three Year Retreat. Gerard claims:

“We were not allowed to talk” he says,“but we found ways to communicate.” “As a result some of the 200 people present also left the retreat – some shocked at the revelation, others realising that their pre-existing doubts were well founded.“

In reality NOBODY left the retreat, except him. There were only 300 people in the first place.

There are many workers in Rigpa – and I doubt they all are wearing a blind-fold. There is the office with the administration, the reception, the ordinary kitchen for retreat food. There are the people who work with the teachings and texts. There’s also the documentation team: the people who transcribe the teachings and the people who film the teachings on video. There’s a huge archive. There’s a translation team, which works with ancient Buddhist texts. There are people who plan retreats and events. There are people who do graphic design. There are people responsible for the buildings, the Temple and the garden. There are dozens of positions and areas where people work, not only the lama kitchen.

Lerab Ling is a calm place and there’s no way any parties and Harem Orgies are happening. In the past, at times, there were parties where retreatants could socialize, but not so much anymore. In one of those parties I recall Sogyal Rinpoche coming to stop the party because of the noise at late night (before 1 am).

During the summertime the retreats are happening non-stop. Sogyal Rinpoche teaches during 99% of the days, and retreat programs require a lot of work from everybody. There are also other events and projects that Rinpoche needs to take care of, like the Tenzin Gyatso Institute and visiting Lamas and Buddhist events outside Rigpa. I wonder how he could have time for the extra-curriculum activities described.

Other testimonies from people he has helped

For me personally it seems contradictory and hard to put the two pictures together. I have met only people Sogyal Rinpoche has helped. I met Sogyal Rinpoche for the first time on a weekend teaching. I was quite active from the beginning and wanted to find out about the nature of this ‘religion’. I had read Rinpoche’s book and it alone convinced me, but I still was not open to become part of some weird cult if this happened to be one. I talked with one woman who had had suffered from depression and she told me that “he has shown me who I really am, and for that I’m really grateful”. My first contact with a Rigpa person was with someone who had suffered and who had found help and hope in her life. I thought: “Maybe the teachings in the book talk about real things.”

I have been visiting Rigpa every year for the past 10 years. At times I have spent weeks or over a month there. I have been in Ireland too, which is my favorite retreat place. Mostly I visit Lerab Ling where the Temple is and where Sogyal Rinpoche lives. Since I’ve been there so many times I have become familiar with all those main workers and have spoken with some of them. My best friend works there for many months a year. He knows those people quite well and, as I have said before, Rigpa is no gossip-free zone.

In the article Janine mostly talks about lama kitchen. There are many more working areas in Rigpa – not just a lama kitchen like I stated before. There is the kitchen, which has many functions: food for retreats is prepared. Then there is the lama kitchen, which makes food not only for Sogyal Rinpoche but also for his elderly mother, his son, the past Khandro Rinpoche, visiting lamas and many other people who permanently live in Lerab Ling.

There is also a Care Program, which includes many therapists who work with people. During the Three Year Retreat there were many who shared the work with 300 retreatants. Not every retreatant needs therapy and Rigpa is not fundamentally offering therapy as its main focus, but there is certainly quite strong emphasis towards healing. We practice Ngöndro and especially Vajrasattva, the healing and purification practice, has a strong emphasis in Sogyal Rinpoche’s teachings. Many might think Guru Yoga (and misunderstand it as lama worship) and Mandala Offering (and again misunderstand that gaining riches is the reason for it) would be central Rigpa practices. I really want to emphasize that healing is in the front line. Many Tibetan Buddhist lamas notice that people are not feeling mentally well in the West, with worries and stress, so they recommend psychological work first before one hires the “assassin for their ego”.

I heard about the accusations during my first or second year in Rigpa. I was shocked of course, like many people here, when they come across these kind of rumors. Then I decided to speak with one of the attendants who I felt I could relate to. She said she had heard about the accusations too, some years ago. She hadn’t confronted him about those things, but she said what she had done was to “check out the lama”. She decided to keep her eyes open. At some point she had the experience of the nature of the mind, which confirmed to her that she was dealing with an authentic lama. After that she decided to go ahead with the path and committed herself to work for Sogyal Rinpoche. She had suffered from abuse when she was young, so she was also really careful about those matters. Ever since then she has worked closely with Sogyal Rinpoche and never faced issues regarding abuse of females. Sogyal Rinpoche of course knows her past and is very fatherly with her, like he is with others too, and protects her from fear by comforting her and explaining things as they are, in public so I have seen it happen. Since I have spoken with her I pay attention to her treatment by Sogyal Rinpoche.

I have spoken to other women too. Someone who has been there for 30 years told me she used to work as his masseur. Sogyal Rinpoche never harassed her in any way and she is still working in Rigpa in different fields. She knew Sogyal Rinpoche’s girlfriends too – and she has never seen them treated badly or heard them complaining.

In Dialogue Ireland two courageous female students have written their posts (‘Sogyal Rinoche is Amazing’, July 5th 2009 and ‘Survivor’, July 6th, 2009). In the stories one can also sense the protective fatherly attitude Sogyal Rinpoche has shown towards his students. Of course there are more positive statements, but since people in Rigpa know Finnigan’s agenda they consider it a wasted effort to write here. I’m the only fool trying to bring another side of the story here. I’m not doing it in order to change Finnigan’s mind, I can see that is a complete waste of human resources. Let’s see in the future if her mind changes.

‘Sogyal Rinpoche is Amazing’ has known Sogyal Rinpoche for 25 years.

On occasion I have travelled with him, he has frequently stayed in my home and to this day I consider him one of the most compassionate, wise and amazing buddhist masters I have ever met. I have had the unbelievable good fortune to have studied with many of the greatest masters including masters such as Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabjé Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, and of course His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All of them spoke very highly of Sogyal Rinpoche and encouraged me to study with him. In all the time I have known him I have never seen him do anything to anyone for vulgar, selfish gain. However, I have seen him perform inspiring, selfless acts of kindness and charity helping people and showing them how to live better, healthier and more productive lives.”

Survivor’s story:

When I began to study with Sogyal Rinpoche about 17 years ago, I was a young woman who had been considered especially attractive since being a young girl. It’s a bit awkward to say something like that about oneself – but here I just want you to know where I was coming from: being a beautiful young woman also meant to constantly have predators around and having to be on guard.

And I was especially on guard, because I had been badly traumatized. As a child – actually I had been brutally gang-raped at age 8. Needless to say that I had grown extra sensitive antennas to any sexual vibes coming towards me and always erring on the side of feeling threatened. On top of that, my father had been quite abusive and I grew up with a constant fear of abusive males in general.

So At the age of 23 I had already had one mixed experience with a Buddhist group. But after attending a talk by Sogyal Rinpoche in Berlin I knew I wanted to study further with him. In a short time I became quite close to him, often spending periods of time alone with him in my home and other places. If Sogyal Rinpoche had even remotely resembled an abusive sexual predator, I would have smelled that right away and left feeling sorry for his students.

But instead I haven’t felt unsafe around him for a single instant. No one has ever shown such profound respect for me nor treated me with more love and kindness. Just through this, Rinpoche disarmed my patterns of shame and self-hate again and again. Having a keen sense of what each individual needs, he has always been especially gentle with me, allowing me to heal in my own time. And – just in case you were wondering I was never his lover.

Sogyal Rinpoche saved and healed my life with his wisdom and kindness. He constantly inquired about why I was so fearful and in pain all the time – and then he didn’t get tired of showing me ways to heal, until I truly got it.”

In real life I have only encountered similar stories of healing and hope.

Ethics of the Blog – ‘Buddhists’ who don’t respect anyone

If the author calls him/herself a Buddhist then they clearly do not hold respect for anyone in the Tibetan Buddhist world. The article begins with description how HH Dalai Lama enters the ‘temple of evils’. They criticize the judgment of HHDL and other teachers who associate with Sogyal Rinpoche. Some critics are said to be students of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, who actually supports Sogyal Rinpoche. If they were able to ask advice from Namkhai Norbu I wonder what kind of response they would get.

The author looks at Tibetan Buddhism from an exceptionally critical and one-eyed view. I don’t mean people should be blind and expect a miracle world – the Shangri-la that some have experienced in their youth in the 60’s and 70’s – to appear. People are people, even the Tibetans, and we should have patience with each other and ourselves. But there is another view about the human condition that Tibetan Buddhism can reveal to us which we do not have in the Western culture. Sogyal Rinpoche himself doesn’t support new age hippie stuff, he wants to ground people and doesn’t want them to “go off” to shangri-la and other la-la-lands.

“In October 2011 the French news magazine Marianne carried a six page feature on one of Sogyal’s teaching retreats at Lerab Ling. It was compiled from material gathered by an undercover journalist, Elodie Emery. The tone of the reportage alternates from coy to sarcastic to ‘shock horror’ and contains allegations which would not get past legal scrutiny at mainstream British media.”

It almost sounds as if Emery was told in advance how to see things. Now in the Behind the Thankas blog the long article is summarized into one sentence: “his ruthlessly cruel treatment of one participant, who was stumbling towards an agonised confession in front of 500 retreatants”.

The real story in Marianne goes like this:

“The people present in the room choke with laughter at these tips illuminated with wisdom. But the session takes an expected turn when the man starts talking about what provokes his wife’s wrath: “I have worked for 25 years with mentally handicapped children. One day, I abused my position with one of them.” The audience squirms with embarrassment. “I told my wife, and that’s why she puts terrible pressure on me, she is terrified about the possibility of me abusing our 4 year old daughter.” In answer to this the master chooses to remain silent. He has run out of jokes.”

The author just can’t keep to the facts – not even in a text that has been already translated from French into English! This is a textual example of the author’s methods of constructing stories. Unbelievable!

“In 2011 Sogyal’s sex life came under mainstream media scrutiny again” the author writes. I wished they were a bit more honest and added: “…because of our own writings.”

The Big Question

The important question when we evaluate the work of Sogyal Rinpoche is to ask whether he is working for personal gain, like the author claims, or whether he is here to help other beings. Is it possible, that someone who is able to see, recognize and identify people’s suffering, someone who is able to help and support abused women could also be completely blind to himself and be abusive? I believe my own eyes and the people around me. Even at this very moment (I heard from my friend) Sogyal Rinpoche has decided to help and work with a woman, who is suffering and can’t be reached and helped by anyone else in her surroundings. I believe the encouragement of various lamas who happen to know Sogyal Rinpoche personally. I have heard them saying that Sogyal Rinpoche has strong Bodhicitta, compassion. I do believe there are many different people and we are all humans at the end of the day. What has brought us all into Buddhism is the recognition of suffering, wanting to remove suffering and help sentient beings to gain liberation. I’m confident Sogyal Rinpoche is aware of this basic Buddhist principle and that it is the motivation behind his actions.

Pseudonyms are used to protect some individuals. Their words are on record and their identities are known.

120 Responses

  1. Vindicators?

    Freudian slip?


  2. I’m quite surprised that the two vindicators or SR are still active here. Some people just don’t know how and when to say “stop”. I’m starting to think that they’re on a payroll at Rigpa. Per post or smth.
    O, yeah and don’t feed the troll, he’s just becoming bigger and more fearsome.


  3. It’s like – – you either believe in your cause, or you don’t.


  4. Yeah, that ‘Anonymous’ he’s everywhere.


  5. [Real name] + troll = oxymoron, all the more so when bestowed by the valorous crusader “Anonymous.”


  6. methinks the pot calleth the kettle black, oh Shigley troll (Psst-be careful; hid bow tie is really a camera)


  7. Methinks thou dost protest too much.


  8. Nuff said,Troll? you know tmd is Chinese-Chinese troll Nuff said BTW what the f is tmd ( PS Not interested) Troll
    Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD or TMD)…ahhh so!


  9. Wow, you knew tmd was Chinese? Nuff said.


  10. troll sleepy?


  11. Ooooer coded text and Chinese spies=still raining, still trolling Zzzzzzzz (Thats secret coded snoring BTW (Thats Boring Troll of Wisconsin)


  12. Lmao tmd 5mao. C u on utube.


  13. Is it because trolls are tiresome?


  14. Nah, we’re just tired of you – now why could that possibly be


  15. Yeah, but…just saying “troll” doesn’t accomplish anything.

    You’re a flesh and blood person, I’m a flesh and blood person.

    My theory continues to be proven out…as the situation escalated in Tibet, activity here tanked.


  16. troll


  17. The escalation statistic stands. Interpret as you see fit.


  18. or sober but as always a troll


  19. alcoholic troll


  20. Also funny how activity here is in indirect proportion to the escalation in Tibet.


  21. Ah yes, if I commence writing “By gods, you’re right, SR is a terrible abuser and I support all these allegations, though I have zero proof or experience!” you will accept my support wholeheartedly.

    You’ll cite me as one of the “countless women” who “support allegations of abuse,” even though I have never met Sogyal Rinpoche nor received any teachings from him, nor even met a single member of the Nyingma school.

    If I feel like accusing him of something, I don’t need proof! I don’t need experience! I will be welcomed into your warm circle!

    Only if I defend the concept of innocent-until-proven-guilty, must I provide reams of proof to show that I am not an evil, CIA-funded, card-carrying member of “Women For Women’s Abuse!”

    Funny how the real law is just the opposite.


  22. “I’m too old for this shit”: Dalai Lama
    12 November 2010
    Religion Correspondent

    DELHI (China Daily Show) – Former anointed leader of Tibet and spiritual guru of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama yesterday shocked onlookers by announcing his imminent retirement from public life.
    Speaking at a press conference in Delhi, India, the Dalai Lama answered a routine question about Burma by telling world media that it was “probably time to throw in the towel.”
    “As far as [Tibetan] independence goes, we’ve done all we can. God knows, we’ve tried: from armed uprisings to painting to Richard Gere, we’ve done all we possibly can,” the exiled Tibetan religious leader told assembled press. “Maybe it’s time to focus on what’s really important in life.”
    Sipping from a can of 7-Up and wearing a pair of shades, the Tibetan spiritual leader seemed calm and relaxed, refusing to be drawn any further on the subject. But appearing an hour later, having changed from his usual saffron robes into a checked shirt, corduroy flat cap and stonewashed chinos, the Dalai Lama answered media questions in rapid-fire succession.
    Chinese President Hu Jintao? “No hard feelings. As they say, don’t look for me in the morning, baby, as I’ll be gone, solid gone.” Asked about Nobel Prize-winning jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the Dalai Lama shrugged. “Shit happens. He’ll be out in ten years. After that, who knows?”
    Asked if he would miss his role as leader of the Tibetan Buddhist community, the charismatic spiritual leader said to laughter, “Certainly not those butter candles. They reek worse than a yak’s tuckus. And on the bright side, no more Richard Gere, obviously.”
    The words came as a surprise, despite having told a CNN reporter in Florida late October that “I’m a human being. … Retirement is my right”. It also marks a major career change for the Dalai Lama, since he was declared the living incarnation of the highest power in Tibetan Buddhism and made de facto spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people seventy years ago.
    The grey-haired and much-admired face of Tibetan liberation has remained a thorn in the Chinese government’s side since his flight from the troubled region following a failed uprising against Communist rule in 1959.
    The Dalai Lama insisted that the plight of the Tibetan people remains close to his heart, but that he also felt it was important to devote his time to other causes. “It’s all been happening while I’ve been busy: Facebook, Hot Pockets, Simon Cowell, Team Edward… where to even begin? I’ve got a lot to catch up on. What am I going to be doing?” He smiled. “Having some serious me-time.””


  23. Anyone who refers to anyone or anything that S Shigley supports is a Chines spy-she doesnt need evidence-she says so


  24. We are all responsible for that collective denial of abuse perpetrated by SR.
    By refusing to see the truth of the allegations and keeping silent, we are also encouraging SR to continue in his sick ways instead of giving him a chance to change, we encourage other teachers to behave in the same way ( yes, you might know who I am talking about) and ultimately we betray our teachers and the Dharma.


  25. Most posters referring to “excrement” and “Dalai Lama” in the same sentence are Chinese. Not all, but most.


  26. Troll. ‘No conspiracy theories’?? All supposed victims are liars, spies, Chinese puppets. Troll.


  27. With a detraction like that, who needs support.

    You guys are supposed to keep your involvement with the Sogyal Rinpoche issue private, by the way. If your carelessness leads people to realize some of it is state-supported, all the careful groundwork your employers have done will be lost, just like the Shugden case.


  28. Yeah hes a God and has never done anything wrong-perfect in every way-even his excrement smells sweet-all those women who claim abuse are liars and deserved to be abused-slags.


  29. Martine Batchelor doesn’t know Sogyal Rinpoche or nothing that is going on. We can agree on most parts with her in general about groups of people.

    Can you prove that SR has said once anything like this: “Oh, you are special. You are so special, that if you have sex with me I will be even more awakened, and you will be closer to awakening.”

    You know, on the contrary I have heard him saying to the audience in public: “So you are afraid you will be abused? You think that you are so special I would use you?”

    He knows exactly what people are thinking and turning it upside down: Look in the mirror! Your ego is fantasying! (And: it’s sarcasm.)


  30. From Martine Batchelor’s talk on Debi Goodwin’s Blog
    On the other side, what is it about the women that allow this to go on?
    Martine Batchelor: I think what is very important to see is that it is not just individual to individual. It is not like you are in a bar and someone comes to you and says, “Hey do you want to go and have sex with me?” And then the woman – unless she is thinking that the guy is fantastic or attractive or she has fallen in love – she says, “Wait a minute, I don’t know you!” If you are two individuals meeting each other – you are relatively equal.
    But imagine; you are in this room, you have 100-200 people looking up to this figure, looking up to this great guru. And then this great guru singles you out saying, “Oh, you are special. You are so special, that if you have sex with me I will be even more awakened, and you will be closer to awakening.” Some might be crasser, I don’t know what they do. They never did it to me, I have never been a young, pretty lady! So I don’t have any experience of how it works.
    But I think it is a question of the group. Not only is it the seduction of the teacher, but it is the seduction of the group who says “Hey, this guy is special.’ And whatever he does is special. So even if it doesn’t make sense, its special, he’s awakened”. So what happens is that in a way you enter a parallel universe. If you were in your universe, you would know that this is right, this is wrong. “I don’t want to have sex with this fellow. He is fat! He is weird. Why should I have sex with him?”
    But if you are in this parallel universe where the guy is glorified into this amazing person, then anything he wants – you should give it to him. Because by this you are surrendering your ego, you are showing your spirituality. I think its often the way – it is underhanded, coercion. And it is a cultural coercion, a group coercion.
    Sometimes you can nearly have the teacher grooming, being very nice, very nice. And you feel so comfortable with this teacher. And then suddenly, bang. The pay time comes. And by then you are so far that you think, “well, maybe I can also do this.” Or you cannot even question it in that moment.


  31. I would have more faith in whatever’s going on here if people expressed even the slightest disappointment in what seems to be the fact that Victoria Barlow completely invented a false allegation of abuse against a well-known teacher.

    I can tell you right now that if I became convinced Sogyal Rinpooche abused even one person, I would sing it to the high hills. Yet these people remain absolutely mute on what they themselves feel is Victoria Barlow’s outright fabrication against an innocent man. That tells me their mission is to “get” teachers, and they don’t care if their are innocent casualties along the way, except as far as it risks some kind of libel suit.

    If they can’t even defend HHST openly, how is anyone supposed to have confidence their stories on anyone are fair and balanced? This is a witch hunt in every possible sense, which totally destroys confidence in any genuine allegations. I just don’t understand how they can be blind to that central fact. Even if the allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche are totally false, it would be painfully easy to present them more convincingly. I guess I should be grateful that’s not happening, given my own disbelief in the stories.


  32. It’s a bit bizarre.

    Anyway, I found this:

    “This investigation is a case study of one police agency in a small metropolitan area in the Midwestern United States. This city was picked because it offered an almost model laboratory for studying false rape allegations. False rape allegations were investigated from 1978 to 1987. A ranking police official notified the investigators whenever a rape charge was declared false and provided records of the case. In the study, 41 percent of the total disposed rape cases were officially declared false. The incidence figure was variable from year to year. The data showed that all the complainants were white, largely of lower socioeconomic background, and a majority was modestly educated. The study of the 45 cases of false rape allegations led to the conclusion that these false charges were able to serve three major functions for the complainants: providing an alibi, a means of gaining revenge, and a platform for seeking attention/sympathy. This tripartite model resulted from the complainants’ own words during recantation and does not constitute conjecture. False rape allegations are not the consequence of a gender-related aberration, as frequently claimed, but reflect impulsive and desperate efforts by women to cope with personal and social stress”


    I have no answers to all claims, but I think the rape claim regarding SR is false.

    If someone claims a rape, one can question the person’s moral. One could also question those people’s morals who join forces with such person to pursue a variety of claims of which most can be refuted easily.

    “False and Unfounded Allegations
    It is all too easy for people to make an unfounded allegation and leave the accused person with the problem of having to prove their innocence.”
    (by alternative solutions. UK’s Leading Female-led Private Detective Investigation Agency)


  33. Mr Garde, I received an email from someone else, which, given the thread it contained, seems to indicate you are forwarding my emails conversations with you to other people. I’m curious why?

    This is especially odd given your statement above that simply referring to an email conversation is a violation of privacy, much less forwarding entire conversations to others.

    You have every right to forward emails as far as I’m concerned – privacy is never guaranteed in email conversation, and I’m assuming this means you have put some kind of team together to investigate me? I’ve made it quite clear who I am; there are no mysteries here.


  34. I did send you a long email in response to your first inquiry.

    To be honest, it’s quite stressful enough participating in the discussions here. I really don’t want to engage in what promised to be further private arguments and debates with no one else listening in to provide balance. I do apologize if this seems rude.


  35. Mr Garde, saying we emailed each other is hardly a violation of privacy.


  36. Dear Ms Higley,
    Not only is it rude, but it is a violation of privacy. I sent you a private email in which I was attempting to address issues you have raised off topic directly.
    As you know you did not reply to my first communication for a month and then acted as if you had responded when I wrote to you last week. The issues you raised with me will remain private. However,the manner and attempt to publicise this private communication raise questions about the genuineness of your communications.


  37. Dear Sheila,

    Interesting you want to avoid duplication, so in the interests of clarity:

    On January 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm, Spartacus said:

    issues about the police and legal action have been addressed here before-

    On January 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm, Agony Aunt said:

    Sheila, as anyone who has attempted to launch abuse proceedings will tell you, the problem with just walking into a police station is that it is your word against the accused, especially when the events may have taken place some years ago.

    In such a case, what is required is that a group of individuals claiming abuse get together and launch a joint action. Then, with corroborative evidence, the likelihood of prosecution is increased; conviction is even more difficult to procure,

    In Sogyals case, the abuse supposedly took place globally and therefore gathering all the victims together is very difficult
    It has also been referred to in other places.

    Hope that’s clear. It has also been addressed in other places, on other threads. Beyond this I do not want to speak with you, as you twist things, contradict yourself and generally pay no consideration to the other people who have posted here.


  38. Mr Garde, I’m sorry if this sounds rude, but I’d rather keep our conversations public at this point to avoid duplication of effort and stress, as well as circumventing “he said/she said” complications.


  39. Spartacus, the problem is they haven’t been addressed at the police station.


  40. Youre going round in circles again Sheila-issues about the police and legal action have been addressed here before


  41. that depends on the charge


  42. Btw someone said here earlier that the French woman didn’t bring charges because in France you have to have “five people complain” before the case will be heard (something to that effect).

    This is not true – any woman in France can bring charges against a man at any time. In May, 2011, two separate women, for example, brought individual charges against a junior minister in government.


  43. We simply have no idea whether Sogyal Rinpoche had sex with any specific woman, much less whether he or anyone discussed tantra as part of the process.

    We can foment all day, but it doesn’t answer the basic questions of who did what–and who didn’t do anything.

    Anyone can say anything they like – they may be painting an accurate picture, or they may not be. We can’t possibly judge any fellow human without knowing more.

    I really believe there is no single act more damaging to women’s safety than to fill the air with allegations–not having the foggiest which, if any, are true. It all but guarantees that people will not take it seriously.

    If you personally have been abused, or know someone who has, you must tell the police. If you don’t tell the police, people will always suspect (rightly or wrongly) that it wasn’t that serious. This is just legal and judicial reality–it’s not a desire on anyone’s part to be harsh or cruel. It is civilized society’s best effort to protect all from harm, in the end.


  44. Define a ‘newbie’.

    People who start working as SR’s assistants are not newbies. You just don’t walk in and start working there.


  45. So you dont think it was ‘ordinary desire’ that motivated Sogyal, rather it was something more spiritual. more ‘selfless’

    OK Lets unpick that.

    Lets say he had sex with those women (some of whom you believe) because he wanted to alleviate their suffering-er, sorry sexual desire, like any other desire is tthe cause of suffering, not the cure. And some of these women were already in realtionships-therapeutic sex? Dont think so. more like sexual misconduct.

    Or maybe it was tantra. But the tantras state that the female must be properly qualified (initiated, realsed) and yet some of these girls were newbies. SO how could it be ‘tantra’?

    face it: Sogyal is an opportunist that knows the offer of ‘a tantric experience’ is a sure way of bedding as many women as possible, especially if they think youre some kind of tantric master. I would suggest this is what actually went on.

    You, on the other hand., seem to think Sogyals motive was ”selfless’ OK
    If it wasnt sex out of compassion or tantric sex, what exactly was it. Please be specific and do share with s exactly how it fits in with Buddhist teaching


  46. Neasod, you say I am “deranged,” and yet if women here followed some of my (and others’) suggestions, they would have more traction.

    Interesting that you’d consider that deranged.


  47. Spartacus, at what venue are his accusers asking him to face them?


  48. Spartacus, are you truly saying that you trust the accuracy of the these descriptions?

    I don’t. I believe some, most not.

    I don’t know what was the motivation of SR. I doubt that it is the critic’s claimed ordinary sexual desire. I don’t think it’s addiction either. I believe his intention is a bit deeper – and not necessarily selfish.

    Still I wouldn’t want to be part of it, since my relation to sexuality and human relationships is quite ordinary and maybe a bit more possessive than people in general have. It’s very intimate area, so security and trust are quite important. I guess those security-issues are quite central here. If some women have the ability to trust SR in that way then I don’t feel any need to judge them. Those with deep security and trust issues should not even think about it.

    I think the whole issue raises a lot of fundamental fear – and therefore the discussion is heated.


  49. “I am a committed Buddhist” No Sheila its ” I am a Buddhist who has been committed”


  50. No-shes just one of these people that believes unless youve seen New York, it cant possibly exist-apparently its because her father was accused of abuse and, despite the fact that he was totally innocent, he was subject to all sorts of inhumanity.

    PS The crime is abuse, the ‘charge’ ahs been brought repeatedly down the years-the only thing missing is the little fat man who doesnt have the guts to face his accusers


  51. Sheila.

    You are deranged.



  52. But neasod, in order to hear SR’s side, someone has to ask him — serve papers, go to the police for a formal investigation, something. Posting scandalous stories on the internet is not a formal act of any kind, and it does not require a response.

    What’s the crime? Who’s bringing the charge? When?


  53. BellaB,
    I totally agree.
    We need to hear SR side of the story.
    Very very soon.


  54. Mentalist, I didn’t say it was false. I said it’s not enough to justify sacking and prison time. Simply put, we don’t know what, if anything, happened. And without formal investigation, we won’t ever know. Absolutely no one–yourselves included–seems interested in a formal investigation. I do know that when Rigpa was put through the California legal system from 1994-1996, no criminal activity was found.

    Interestingly, Janice Doe’s lawyer, Theodore Phillips, was fined $150 by the court just before the case was dismissed. I don’t know why. He received “sanctions” which according to legal sites can be imposed for “violating rules of procedure, or for abusing the judicial process.”

    Mentalist, I am a committed Buddhist; I respect Christianity, but do not mix the two. I believe they intersect beautifully on compassion. As to monikers, you are free to change your name if you want–I just said it doing so gives the impression of a high school locker room. That, and even more so the fact you don’t seem to care about that image, gives the impression of someone who’s not serious, twice over.

    Agony Aunt, I’m sorry you confuse dedication with “NPD.” If length-of-time-pursuing-subject is the criterion, I’m afraid Mary’s 15 years ahead of me. The danger with inventing a label is that we may find it stuck to our own foot ;)

    Yes, there are several dedicated Chinese internet commentators railing against myself or any particular Tibetan/Tibetan supporter at any moment. Those of us who’ve stuck around the longest get the brunt. Unfortunately, that’s neither news, nor surprising. If you’ve decided those guys represent reality, all I can say is gods help you! If you want to join our volunteer effort to counter their state-funded propaganda, we welcome you.

    People, if you don’t want people commenting on an issue, why publish it?


  55. Have you ever looked at the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder? I am deadly serious. I have run a couple of searches on your name on google and there are several sited where poeple question your state of mind. While Im sure you will claim this is the activity of the Chinese, I would be very interested to know which personality disorder your symptoms most closely replicate.


  56. Sheila
    I suspect you are one of these people that mixes Christianity with Buddhism (as eg evidenced by your background) In Buddhism, particulalry the tantric path, the compassionate aspect is tempered by a pragmatic response to the harmful. Hence, there is a vow against ‘showing love to harmful beings’ (If youve taken a Highest Yoga tatra initaition [Kalachakra?], youve taken that one)What this means is, if someone has been warned about their behaviour but do not change tack, then it is quite appropriate to uiblicly condemn them. That was the point of the dalai Lamas advice to Western Buddhist teachers when he said ‘ If all else fails,name names in newspapers’
    Clearly you know better than HH and also clearly, you do not know your tsantric vows (or pick and choose which ones you keep)

    Also, you seem to think that human beings are not capable of making any judgements at all (or at least they are incorrect in doing so) Everything for you appears false unless proven in a court of law. Until that point everyone should keep quiet-like the Germans who knew the Holocaust was underway-I guess the murder of the 6 million only became something that people coud form judgements and comment on AFTER the Nuremurg trial? And Sogyal has gazillions of students? Come on, Most of history’s evil monsters had ‘gazillions’ of followers-the number of people you manage to fool is not an indicator of ones realisation, only ones deviousness Ole Nydahl has ‘gazillions of students too!

    Your angst with regard to ever changing names is a sidetrack from the debate-As the Buddha taught, rely on the meaning of the words. In other words, look at whats being said:it doesnt matter two hoots who says it.

    “What’s the point, honestly?” Well, If you cant take the heat, get out of the kitchen-‘We’ would welcome it because most of what you say is based on obstinacy, blind faith and hubris.Despite mountains ofe vidence to the contrary for example, you still refuse to accept that Sogyal has abused others-how much more evidence do you need; how many testimonies, how many newspaer articles and TV programmes-People in the Buddhist world knew about this while you were still fervently reciting the Lords Prayer. There is little point in discussion when someone has already decided waht represents the truth-so why not retire and live in peace?(Or are you here as adefender of the faith. If so, the big boys can look after themselves, without your help


  57. I’m glad Sheila is in the conversation. She holds the other side steady and firm, even if she doesn’t have personal experience in Rigpa (?).

    I am not decided yet where exactly I am. To know SR’s true intentions would require to hear his story too.

    Sheila is right that Rigpa is not a closed environment: many workers who spend there part of the year working, coming and going. Only a few live in LL with the nuns and monks, the rest live outside. It’s not easy to get to talk with SR, so newbies do not have private talks with him. I’ve seen all kinds of people talking with him after the teachings, but in the shrine room – they are not invited to his house.

    There are nowadays real professional therapists working. In ex-dakini’s case she didn’t obviously find any support, which is a real shame. I just have no idea in which decade that happened. Mimi/Janine could have just walked in and talked with a therapist 24 hours/day, since at least one – a really good one – lives there permanently.


  58. Wow – that’s sweet :)


  59. But do you mean a Gaelic translation? I will def check that out – thanks you…


  60. sankappa, who’s “we all?” There may be only one of you for all I can tell.

    It’s all so bogus – no real people, just endlessly changing usernames. What’s the point, honestly?


  61. Sheila wrote:

    “I’m not concerned with being relevant.”

    Well that’s clear. I’m sure we will all keep that in mind from now on.

    Oh, in case you weren’t aware a translation for The Heart Sutra was posted…


  62. A scandalous sex story is like a magnet – it attracts all kinds of objects in addition to the ones you were after.

    I didn’t say the women themselves were racist, or Christian, or men who bristle at the thought of white women revering Asian men. I said that the issue attracts many types of commenters, including those listed.

    Case in point, the Yet-Another-Anonymous-Crusader above who foams about fatwa and “Pbuh,” which I had to look up.

    An aside, but…is that acronym, then, the source of the phrase, “the grand poobah?”

    I’m not concerned with being relevant. Your magnet drew me in and I’m analyzing the issue. You’d probably like me to go away, but…”Alas, ear wax.” (Dumbledore)


  63. Sheila wrote:

    “If you examine the whole ball of wax closely, and are from America or have been exposed to American history, you can see distinct parallels to the way African-American men were painted in older American society: big, dark, scary, sexually aggressive, preying on white women.

    There are many, many western men who find the idea of western women deferring to, bowing to, or studying from Asian men, to be highly offensive. Even in our new, enlightened age. We’re just not quite there yet.”

    Sheila, of all the irrelevant and sensational arguments you have offered up as debate to date, this would have to be the most desperate and implausible yet. Playing the race card as an argument really shows just how ignorant and out of touch you are regarding this whole issue.
    Yep, it smacks of desperation and it will be seen for what it is.

    Sheila stop clinging and grasping. The debate has moved on. Even bella has moved on, but you are fast becoming irrelevant.


  64. “We are all just tired of bigots abusing their positions and their students”

    He has gazillions of students. I’m sorry, but that many people just are not, statistically, jonesing to be abused. Rigpa is not some closed compound with armed guards and hosts of unsuspecting waifs being moonblunk into staying.

    Adult students come and go to classes, and by and large must obviously appreciate the classes, because they keep going.

    The actions of many thousands of people directly contradict the theory that Sogyal Rinpoche rampantly abuses students.

    Modern people have little time and money for wasting; if they’re choosing to spend either at Rigpa, that is strong evidence in favor of it being a good experience.

    For heaven’s sake, if you don’t like his teaching style, don’t go. It’s really that simple.


  65. No, dear Spartacus, I do not refuse to believe – I refuse to condemn.

    You can’t just throw accusations around and then yell at people for not believing them. This is the internet for gods’ sake, not the Supreme Court.

    No one can possibly know what is true until, to the best of society’s ability, charges have been brought in front of a jury. Even then we can’t know, in the end, what is true, but we will have done the best possible job getting at it.


  66. You seem to think this is a racial issue or a feminist one-this is far greater than that;it is a human issue
    Again, you place great faith in ‘the law; however, as we all know,in the cases of abuse and rape, ‘the law, like the Ritz is open to everyone’.
    You reach so-called rational conclusions, not on the basis of logic, but simply because you refuse to believe, implicitly branding victims of abuse as liars, and then attack those who exercise their discretion and wisdom to formulate what they see as logical judgements simply because they are other than your own.
    Nobody here is ‘out to get’ anybody. We are all just tired of bigots abusing their positions and their students, It is morally right to expose such behaviour because it protects beings. Call yourself a Buddhist?: with an ego like that Im surprised you havent started your own religion


  67. And I do mean “we.” I’m a long, long way from putting into action the ideals which have now been generally accepted, but haven’t fully matured.

    It is difficult – we are still instructed, in so many subtle ways to “defer,” whether that means defer to authority, defer to men, defer to elders.

    Of course the problem is that in some cases it *is* proper to defer. A beginning medical student who doesn’t defer to senior instructors and physicians is being rude, immature, and potentially reckless with other people’s lives.

    I believe that some have a very difficult time doing/seeing things that seem to them to be “deferring to Asian men.” I really, truly believe some elements of western society have a problem with that. You can catch a glimpse of it in the sheer number of non-Buddhists who gravitate to Buddhist forums/threads chiefly to express their disgust at the thought of westerners deferring to Asian men. There is also the compounding issue of Christians who are appalled at westerners abandoning Christianity.

    If you examine the whole ball of wax closely, and are from America or have been exposed to American history, you can see distinct parallels to the way African-American men were painted in older American society: big, dark, scary, sexually aggressive, preying on white women.

    There are many, many western men who find the idea of western women deferring to, bowing to, or studying from Asian men, to be highly offensive. Even in our new, enlightened age. We’re just not quite there yet.

    I have said repeatedly that real abuse happens. What cannot be denied, is that some people claim abuse where none exists.

    You mock the law, and the frustrations of dealing with it, but that law is what keeps nations sane, unlike more repressive societies where at one run-in with your neighbor, you are reported for a “crime” and tossed in the clinker.

    We pay a steep price for that law–one I consider worth paying–and that is that, to prove someone guilty, you must actually prove it. It is hard, and it is frustrating.

    From continued listening, reading and studying, I do not believe Sogyal Rinpoche or any of the other teachers you have named here are guilty of abuse. Further, I believe it’s possible none of the people we have heard from today had any actual sexual experience whatsoever with the persons they name.

    You say that means I’m a cold, heartless whatever, who doesn’t care about abuse, when in fact I’m simply someone who believes these allegations are spurious. How am I supposed to act? I’m not going to go groveling around saying, “Oh, well if he *did* abuse her..” all the time, because I don’t believe he did. It serves no purpose.

    In the case of He Who Shall not Be Named, you also believe, as I do, the accusations were spurious. Oddly you express zero disgust at this sad state of affairs, even though it means someone loudly accused a wonderful, innocent man of committing a long list of ugly crimes–and it wasn’t true.

    Do you honestly believe it’s no big deal that one of the “witnesses” fabricated paragraph after paragraph of utter falsehood against an innocent man? Or is that a small price to pay for “getting” someone else?


  68. There is absolutely no relationship between image you folks have painted of a “harem” filled with “girlfriends,” and the historic tantric dakini figure.

    We all make jokes, but unfortunately joking about dakinis in this way just furthers the misconception that tantra is “about sex.” I consider that a real tragedy.

    Vera, big headlines like “Lama Sex Abuse…?”

    We women do very much have to seize the power that has been won. We aren’t good at doing that yet. I think we’re still in a no-man’s-land between the old paradigm and the new.


  69. “Still Anonymous,
    I believe you are the one person here who changes user name at the drop of a hat”

    Sorry V but Still is not a facet of my Multiple Personality DIsorder


  70. Dear Sheila,
    I wrote “dakinis” in inverted commas to emphasize that ofcourse they are not to be confused with women who manifest true Dakini energy. However consorts of great Lamas are always given the due respect of having Khandro added to their names. Some students apparently do consider Sogyal’s partners to be Dakinis. However in common parlance among those who are more sceptical they are often playfully referred to as “dakinis”, or Dakinis in the making which they certainly are since we all have Dakini wisdom inherent within us.


  71. Dear bellaB,
    I will answer your questions. I have been very busy and didn’t just want to write a reply off quickly. I respect your need to see the full picture and you deserve a considered response which I hope you will find helpful. So please can you wait a day or two and I shall endeavour to give you as much information as I possibly can? It is my hope that at some point some of us really could meet up and talk all this through with senior Rigpa students.
    I personally feel that that is the best way forward. The senior students and Sogyal need to really understand the harm his actions are doing to women. It needs to be handled sensitively all round. The women who have suffered as a result must be able to feel safe in a protected space, and treated with respect and kindness. They simply must be listened to.
    At the moment there is a dark cloud hanging over Rigpa and I feel deep down Sogyal will know that what he is doing is wrong. Imagine how stuck he is if no-one will compassionately explain to him his addictions, help him to understand them and how to move on.
    All his Teachings and the good he has done in setting up Rigpa are besmirched by his sexual activity. How sad this is too for genuine seekers like bellaB and all the excellent people who have worked so hard for Rigpa. Let’s lance the boil, let it heal and move forward directed by our hearts with a view towards reconciliation.


  72. Still Anonymous,
    I believe you are the one person here who changes user name at the drop of a hat, and I think it odd. I know you have said your reasons are you don’t want to be subjected to ad hominem attacks. You will do what you want, but I do find it a bit creepy when you copy a sentence I wrote on another thread word for word, including the lack of comma’s.
    ‘hurt many many (real!) people ‘

    Just wanted to say, this post by Still Anonymous was not written by me.


  73. Bella b. As for the orgies with women, one thing I kept meaning to say to you-you kept saying no woman likes orgies and it’s a male fantasy etc etc. You missed the point, these were for Sogyal not for the women’s pleasure. It was his fantasy they were acting out.


  74. Shiela, you seem intent on railroading this blog and making it into things it is not.First of all, we were allo wumoa’s and then when you fail to nail us with that we are all rabid radical feminists fighting a lost cause. I see you think everything is big and tied up to some huge agenda, Chinese v Tibetans, Women v Men, Male teachers v Female teachers. All big headliners isn’t it. Only life isn’t so black and white.
    You write to Tiger Lily:

    “Look women, we are no longer special. Do you get it? The women’s rights movement has won. We have no fewer, and no greater, rights and protections than men, like it or not.”

    Totally missing the point.
    I won’t waste more time reading your posts, the handy scroll down function will suffice. You are entitled to write here and spread your conspiracy theories, but they are almost embarrasing to read. I do wonder what those Adventists did to your young mind though.


  75. Tiger Lily, I’d really liked to see the true colors of this issue – and therefore I need to get answers to my questions. I think there might be others too. If you remain silent, I am thinking your answer is: “No, Mimi/Janine didn’t talk this way.”

    If you TG were a girlfriend of his at some point, did he ever treat you in the manner as described by Mimi/Janine in BTT?

    The Cause cannot be attained by any means possible, like slanderous talk. Nothing will be made less or more if we try to stick to the truth here. On the other hand it’s anyway hard to find out what is the truth here with anonymous people whom you cannot meet. It might seem like a naive quest or request, but the more detailed stories we hear the more easier it is to see if there is any truth behind the story – and what were the problems and how they could be addressed in the future.

    Lies mislead us away from the truth and any understanding. For any healing to occur one must face the truth. If one feels the need to revenge something, I think it’s best to stay calm for a while, seek help from people who can help – and later talk from the point of understanding something.

    It’s a difficult place to be near a Vajra Master since he might be a mirror to us of many things (fears too). At this point it’s hard to really understand what has been going on and the purpose of it. I would also like to know if any partner of SR really felt he was looking for his own needs for pleasure or if he was acting for some other purpose.

    (And I’m not trying to twist anything into anything, but I’d like to see the true colors or shades between black and white here.)


  76. Tiger Lily, there is nothing pejorative about the tradition of dakini. A dakini is a female vajra master, among other things.

    What is offputting is people referring to themselves as dakinis–especially while trashing the concept of a dakini at the same time, and especially while insinuating that a dakini is merely some kind of spiritual, sexual playmate.

    These women call themselves “dakini” or variants of it on several Buddhist forums, so I’m not sure why you’re insinuating that it is a pejorative term applied by others. People choose their own usernames.

    Look women, we are no longer special. Do you get it? The women’s rights movement has won. We have no fewer, and no greater, rights and protections than men, like it or not.

    If we are in a room with a man and wish we weren’t, do you know whose fault it is? Ours. There are no more knights in shining armor. We demanded equality, and we got it. Along with that equality comes responsibility and power. Unless you were forced in at gunpoint, if you are an adult, the power was yours, is yours, and will always be yours. You can no longer choose to be in a room with a man, and then file a lawsuit after the fact, hoping to find sympathy.

    If you were compelled by physical force to stay in the room, that is a different story–and you have the right to bring charges of unlawful restraint. Anything short of that, is our responsibility.

    Equality is a brutally ally. I believe current generations of women need–and society in general needs–education on this somewhat new reality, and how it shifts power. But the fact remains that women have power equal to men, and that means that if they choose to have sex and then wish they hadn’t, there is no crime unless actual abuse took place.

    Abuse of power is a bogus allegation in the modern age. It implies that you forked over power in the first place.

    These are harsh concepts. But the sooner we fully embrace the power we have won, the sooner we will be free of the paralyzing misconceptions we allow to keep us in situations we are fully capable of neutralizing.


  77. Great post Tiger Lily! It has cut right through the delusional rubbish that is Sheila’s new red herring.

    Flesh and blood Sheila – real people!


  78. Tiger Lily, could you please answer my questions about Mimi/Janine’s story that you heard directly from her?

    Did she mention things like “orgies with other women, breast comparisons, ass wiping, daily hitting (and with what)”?


  79. Sheila. Basically you don’t know what you’re talking about. I do concede however you are correct about the limitations of communicating in forums using aliases.
    What you don’t know is that some of us who first connected on forums are keeping in contact by private emails. What you have said about Mimi and ex-dakini (a name she was using ironicallyt because Sogyal encourages his women to see themselves as consorts and they are known in a slightly perjorative way as “dakinis”) is frankly insulting and deeply insensitive. Mimi is certainly a real woman since she can be seen and heard on the Canadian Documentary “In the Name of Enlightenment” and she is the young Frenchwoman I met. Ex-Dakini is clearly a real woman of flesh, blood and feelings. Neither of them is crying “Rape”, but reporting sexual abuse and abuse of power by a serial abuser. Mimi certainly did try to start a legal case in France against Sogyal, but the Law there is that there must be a minimum of 5 complainants with any one case. At the time other women were too reluctant to come forward. She is a very courageous young woman who is still suffering from the denigrating responses of other women like you.


  80. Dude. I am not in Rigpa.

    You act as if I’m some kind of enemy, yet many things I and others have said, if thought about, would (or could) help you further your cause. I am a regular person responding to your writing the way many will. You ought well be thankful to have a test subject, however aggravating that is.

    I’m telling you, as I’ve said over and over, that the way you’re doing this has not been effective and will not be effective. That is the brutal truth.

    Yes, it’s hard to prove crimes, thank gods. I do not want to live in–and I do not want my girls to live in–a society where people can be sent to jail or stripped of their jobs based on tawdry internet chat.

    You bet there’s a downside to a democratic justice system. The answer is not to attack democracy, or flail about on French tabloids, but follow the steps that a rigorous system demands. I don’t see anyone following those steps, and yes, that makes me doubt the 1) seriousness of the allegations and 2) the commitment of those making them. They are committed to something, certainly, but that something is not a criminal charge.

    Until you people go to the police, this story is just “people may or may not have had sex.”

    You are making extremely serious allegations, and if you do not back those up with extremely serious steps, people will not accept the seriousness of this case.

    Personally, I think the case isn’t very serious.

    Yes, yes, I’m a heinous anti-woman, anti-justice apologist for an organization I don’t belong to who wants to live in a world of free-roaming rapists. Whatever.


  81. Sheila:

    “There are those who deeply resent the fact that most teachers today are male. Most math teachers are male, too. It’s not the end of the world, and it is changing in both cases. If your response is to encourage and cultivate wonderful female teachers, I respect your effort. If your response is to mow down as many male teachers as you can, I don’t respect your effort.”

    All this has nothing to do with “mowing down as many male teachers as you can”…It`s about putting an end to the behavior of ONE particular teacher who has abused his position and the dharma and as a result of that, hurt many many (real!) people (male and female) in devastating ways!!
    The absurdity and one dimensional stupidity of what you have written is really unbelievable and only shows the level of suppression you’re suffering from. It further demonstrates what the brainwashing inside Rigpa does to people who follow Sogyals “teachings”…

    Yes, there are probably some issues with the NKT too, but again: THIS here is about Sogyal and his ongoing abuse and all your brainless attempts trying to blur the issues won’t work!

    “Not that committed”?…Believe it or not: I’m pretty active in the real world too, trying to get informations across to mayors, newspapers other teachers and everyone else who’s listening! No results yet? Well, time will tell…


  82. sankappa/vera/anonymous whoever, the fact that some rapes happen, and some victims prosecute the rapist and some don’t, doesn’t tell us anything about whether another man is or isn’t guilty of rape.

    There is no such person as “Mimi/Janine” and “Ex-Dakini.” I have no idea who they really are, if they even exist, nor what they did or didn’t experience. Personally I think the constant urge of these women to incessantly refer to themselves as “dakinis” is immensely offputting. It announces, “I wish I were an important spiritual sex partner!” while simultaneously fuming that such a thing constitutes odious abuse.

    We all long for achievement; we all imagine ourselves to be an accomplished person, and unfortunately we often confuse “accomplished” with “important” or “famous.” Many westerners, upon finding they were not born Tibetan men (or Native American shamans, or other “exotic” spiritual leaders), turn to some other way of getting attention and status. I believe that when some western women found out there was no such thing as a modern “dakini,” create at first fanciful, and then increasingly bitter fabrications about the concept.

    Note that the thousands of Chinese, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Malaysian, and other Asian women studying from Tibetan teachers, seem not to be having these problems.

    You can see the quest for exoticness acted out here on this very board–people who idolize and obsess over prominent Tibetan figures, convince themselves they are the object of these boys’ deep desires, and then read to us from graphic, mental sexual novels about “experiences” with these boys, going so far as to say that Tibetan boys and men “raped” them in their minds.

    This often happens when people become obsessed with prominent actors and musicians as well. *None* of it means people aren’t really raped; it does means the issue of real rape is constantly obscured by people who fabricate or embellish reality.

    Those who report falsely, endanger women. Those who embellish, endanger women. Those who fabricate, endanger women. Those who jump on the bandwagon of “Get the Abusers!!” without knowing who’s truly guilty, endanger women.

    There are those who deeply resent the fact that most teachers today are male. Most math teachers are male, too. It’s not the end of the world, and it is changing in both cases. If your response is to encourage and cultivate wonderful female teachers, I respect your effort. If your response is to mow down as many male teachers as you can, I don’t respect your effort.

    The teachers in my own sangha, in other regional sanghas, and visiting teachers, including some of the very teachers you people criticize, do not behave in a fashion even remotely resembling what you describe. I have never once observed or experienced even rudeness from Tibetan teachers, let alone abuse. Add to that the fact that you deeply believed “one of your own” only to find out she made the story up, and, yes, I take these particular excoriations of teachers with a big, big grain of salt.

    If you think the general public is going to engage in sweeping acceptance of the guilt of multiple Tibetan teachers (or anyone), based solely on internet articles and Canada-only video clips starring Anonymous, I’m not sure what general public it is you are preaching to.

    If you were truly concerned with any organization abusing women, your most effective shot would be to “go NKT” and stand outside your chosen centers shouting and handing out pamphlets (or at least the latter).

    Finally, your insistance on using ever-changing anonymous monikers instead of your real name says, in my opinion, “not that committed.” You either believe in your cause, or you don’t.

    Acting as an internet ghost, instead of a real person, is inherently unconvincing, and everything else sort of builds on top of that. You might have genuinely good wishes underneath all this, but to be honest, it’s extremely hard to see that through all the negative smoke you insist on generating.

    If you are indeed mature, committed women, you know full well that tawdry embellishment, rudeness, hostility and anonymity utterly destroy any cause you claim to support. Unfortunately, it destroys it for real victims, too.


  83. Well said, Sankappa:
    !You state “Since no one seems compelled to do the latter, I retain an open mind which errs on the side of innocence”. Without pointing out the fact that a mind which errs to any viewpoint is not an ‘open one’, you might take into account the immense difficulties that victims face in instigating a potentially successful action under such circumstances before leaping to any assumptions of innocence.’

    Also, worth noting that when someone like Julie Bindel a renowned feminist and campaigner for womens issues, writes saying that now she if she herself was raped she probably wouldn’t report it, as the process you have to go through is so tough (interrogation, disbelief and so on) and very few men get prosecuted, you have to sit up and listen.


  84. Sheila wrote:

    “…you folks declared her story to be a lie.”

    I for one did not. And you should remember because you were the one who asked me, in a direct question. (Selective memory, Sheila?). Please go back and check if you don’t remember.

    So Sheila, can I ask you a direct question? Do you believe that Mimi/Janine and now Ex-Dakini are lying about their experiences?


  85. I make no assumption the self-declared victims are liars. I make the observation that not a single one of expresses the remotest interest in going to the police, and it is instead third-party “victim gatherers” hoping to write a book on the subject, who alone claim to have interest in going to the police–except they don’t go, either.

    I made no assumption anyone was a liar; I did make the observation that when Victoria Barlow reported graphic, detailed abuse by He Who Shall Not Be Named, you folks declared her story to be a lie.


  86. Sheila, as anyone who has attempted to launch abuse proceedings will tell you, the problem with just walking into a police station is that it is your word against the accused, especially when the events may have taken place some years ago.

    In such a case, what is required is that a group of individuals claiming abuse get together and launch a joint action. Then, with corroborative evidence, the likelihood of prosecution is increased; conviction is even more difficult to procure,

    In Sogyals case, the abuse supposedly took place globally and therefore gathering all the victims together is very difficult

    You state “Since no one seems compelled to do the latter, I retain an open mind which errs on the side of innocence”. Without pointing out the fact that a mind which errs to any viewpoint is not an ‘open one’, you might take into account the immense difficulties that victims face in instigating a potentially successful action under such circumstances before leaping to any assumptions of innocence.

    Your assumption is also an implicit assertion that all of the supposed victims are liars/fantasists. Could you pllease confirm whether this is your opinion.

    Again, since none of the allegations relate to incidents that occurred within Tibet, nor before 1959, can you please confirm that any events that did take place during such a time period are completely irrelevant (unless Sogyal himself was abused at such a young age)?

    Straight answers, no sophistry thanks


  87. Thanks SangKappa, to be honest I wasn’t sure…


  88. sankappa, internet conversation doesn’t present a challenge. Walking into a police station does.

    Since no one seems compelled to do the latter, I retain an open mind which errs on the side of innocence.


  89. Hey Shei-thanks for the advice-another self appointed guru rears their ugly head or what? Those young in Dharma usually tell everyone else how to be. BTW If no one can help anyone, why do bodhisattvas practice the generosity of gving fearlessness?


  90. ….I would add to the above though, that although Rigpa and Diamond Way Buddhism (Ole Nydahl) for example, constitute only 2 organizations among many, and seem like a only a small proportion, the very high number of adherents to these clearly suspect organizations is therefore significant, and the reason they need to be challenged.


  91. From that spiel, looks like you’ve missed the irony too!

    There is no “danger in Dharma,” period. Only false Dharma disguised as Dharma for the unsuspecting – plenty of that at Rigpa, from my experience.

    “…most Dharma centers and Dharma teachers are, quite simply, good.” – agree.


  92. BellaB’s advice implies women are smart, are strong, and can choose.

    The other camp feels women are weak, aimless creatures lurching from Powerful Evil Man to Powerful Evil Man, desperately awaiting the long-prophesied Code-Of-Conduct Messiah, their only salvation.

    BellaB’s narrative reflects modern woman; the other reflects the narrative women were fed in the 1930s.

    No man, no woman, no codes of conduct, no magical golden walls can protect you from samsara, from the painful or inconvenient choices in life. The sooner you stop waiting for someone else to save you, the sooner you’ll be on your way to developing habits that will truly strengthen you.

    Dangers will always arise. The best approach is to develop your own skills, not wait for someone else’s to be regulated.

    And I would add that all this fixation on “danger in Dharma” is a bit like watching the evening news–if you listened to half of it you’d think you were in mortal peril 99% of each day, and you’re not. The boring reality is that most Dharma centers and Dharma teachers are, quite simply, good.


  93. bellaB said:

    “Women, get to know your own wishes and desires – and live by them! Do not lose yourself following any man on this Earth.”

    Another tragic example of bella being totally unaware of the irony of her own statements.


  94. neasod,

    You are aware that Agony Aunt was doing a send-up of bellaB in that post? It was a satirical post to show bella’s point of view (some would say in-denial) on how she perceives Sogyal Rinpoche and the abuse claims.



  95. Sheila- Immature???
    Alledged victims of abuse ” were asking for it” and ” secretly wanted it”?
    I think its a bit more than that. I think its dangerous to say that because it shows no interest in the truth, and contempt for the people involved.
    I cant believe that has to be explained…..


  96. “Women, get to know your own wishes and desires – and live by them! Do not lose yourself following any man on this Earth.”

    Beautiful advice. Thank you again for the immense amount of work and thought, BellaB.


  97. Looks like you got the last word again bella.

    bellaB said:

    “I will have a very busy spring coming up”

    How will you get the last word then? I’m sure you’ll find a way.


  98. BTW: I wrote the response where I compiled my view and what I know. I also wished to get rid of this subject. Can you discuss the issue among yourselves? I will have a very busy spring coming up – and wouldn’t want to put a LOT of energy into this. Writing the response took some time.

    And I do not recommend anybody a sexual relationship with a lama. I also know there must be women who are not as strict as I am – and I can’t choose for them: it’s not in my hands.


  99. Bonkers, totally bonkers.


  100. It helps me not to write here if you don’t address posts to me but in a general manner.

    Anybody is allowed to write here what they think. People can judge things for themselves.

    I’ll see what can I respond to the the thread. Problem is – of course – if people don’t write their story in detail, it’s hard to evaluate them. I can quite easily compare BTT to reality, since it is detailed, even though it’s not well done for their cause. Mimi has ended up with 2 people who are not – in my eyes – honest and her own story (who ever wrote it) is filled with incredible points. Why Ex-dakini and others do not compare their own experience to hers and analyze it? Is it too different from their stories or is it a perfect match?

    I do not recommend anybody to become any teacher’s lover. I am myself quite jealous person, so I know I wouldn’t be able to share anybody with other beings sexually and in an intimate emotional way. I’m not that free yet, if it’s even a sign of freedom to be able to do such things. Maybe for men it’s (in general or biologically?) easier.

    Women, get to know your own wishes and desires – and live by them! Do not lose yourself following any man on this Earth. If you are a mature person, you can choose your own way. If being a teacher’s lover doesn’t cause you emotional pain, then I can’t deny you your right to make your own choices, even if I wouldn’t be able to make myself similar ones. Plain curiosity and risk taking nor feeling oneself ‘special’ are not good starting points, even though tempting.


  101. edit:
    It does seem like a colossal waste of your time? Or is it that you find a sense of community here, however conflicted?


  102. Yes, do ignore ed-dakini’s post on the other thread..it isn’t saying what you want to hear. I do wonder, what keeps Bella posting, when it is clear there is nothing in the world that would change her own beliefs…so why bother, why not just go and practice or immerse yourself in Rigpa and ignore all this gossip, Bella. It dows seem like a colossal waste of your time? Or is it that you find a sense of community here, however conflicte?


  103. Keep up those opinions and irrelevancies Sheila.

    Hubris: a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities

    Straight, no chaser?


  104. “The words are hateful, fanatical and dangerous, and render your point of view null and void”

    Neasod, how are they dangerous? I think they’re just immature, with a touch of familiar ick.

    I’m not sure how they render BellaB’s point of view null and void, since they don’t genuinely address anyone’s point of view, except perhaps those with anti-Muslim sentiments.


  105. I didn’t write the “Anythone who says anything…”

    Agony Aunt ‘helped me’ to shorten my long text (View from a Parallel Universe……) – and it’s his point of view about my writings here. He doesn’t like me at all.


  106. ‘Anythone who says anything about His Extreme Holiness,Our Lord and Saviour Sogyal Rinpoche (PBUH) is a liar or a fantasist and had better watch out or theyll be placed on my Fatwah list. Mary Finnigan is the devils daughter and a lying b**tch and all those so called ‘abuse victims’ were asking for it and anyway nothing happened and I bet they secretly wanted it. As for the reason why there has been no legal action, since I cant think of a decent answer to this central question, I’ll just ignore it until it goes away.Finally, I will keep postinghere, along with my colleague Sheila, until everybody else gets bored shitless and gives up.’

    Agony Aunt,
    Where did this come from?
    If you indeed wrote the above passage, you are doing nothing to help Sogyal Rimpoche, the discussion or yourself. The words are hateful, fanatical and dangerous, and render your point of view null and void.


  107. Tiger Lily said she thought Mimi was speaking the truth. That doesn’t mean she was speaking the truth. It doesn’t even say which part of the story she told Tiger Lily. And I must say I believe more my friend’s word than Mimi’s or Tiger Lily’s, whom I don’t even know.

    I meant weather TG is VB or not doesn’t make any difference to the point of my description. Why I quoted TG’s comment was that I thought VB was explaining there how she was SR’s girlfriend and not just some random student. Since VB is described in various web pages as an unsuspecting student or rape victim – but in the doc as his girlfriend, it doesn’t make any difference from my point of view.


  108. Bellab, your denial is so strong that when presented with a correction of your assumptions-don’t forget what Sogyal says: “assumptions make an arse of you”, you go on to say-it makes no difference anyway. You wrote in your missive:
    “I also believe the following comment is Victoria describing how she met one other informant, Deidre or Janine. It clearly indicates she considers herself a girlfriend and not a student. Their relationship happened (if it happened at all) when Sogyal Rinpoche was under 30 years of age, in the 70’s. I also wonder if she told him she has been abused as a child? This kind of information would cause a difference in any man.”
    Then you went onto make out that what you thought was Victoria’s quote, and so it must be unreliable testimony. When Tiger Lily declares she is not VB you say, it makes no difference anyway.
    Your point is if VB says Mimi speaks the truth she lies, but when presented with evidence it is someone else who met Mimi, you ignore it. You are a joke.


  109. Always gotta have the last word bella. I won’t necessarily answer the question, but I have to have the last word, because that will mean I’m right and they’re wrong…


  110. What I have learned from my life is to keep away from liars as far as possible. The further you stay the less you need to suffer from their games.

    The so called ‘harem victims’ are also humans with lives of their own.


  111. Viictoria Barlow alone is perhaps a questionable witness (though I personally dont doubt her with regard to Sogyal) However, she is not his sole accuser. There appear to be many and they are real people with and feelings and lives. MF certainly didnt invent them all-So question her credentials all you want but do you honestly think everyone is lying/a fantasist?. Please answer-Why, if S is innocent, hasnt he ever taken legal action? Valid reasons make sense to people. Silly child ish denials and personal attacks dont really hold water (have credibility)


  112. Thank you for clarification.

    It doesn’t make a difference at the end of the day.

    In different stories Barlow has been in relation to SR
    – an unsuspecting student
    – rape victim
    – girlfriend


  113. Just to clarify. I am not Victoria Barlow whom I have never met. I did meet the young Frenchwoman who later spoke out in the Canadian documentary and I believed she was telling the truth about her experience.


  114. You nailed it there, Agony Aunt. Though you left out this:

    I am speaking out as I am a feminist and those women are doing a great disservice to my feminist principles.


  115. Dear Bella
    Id like to offer you a little help to shortien further your response to BTT.

    ‘Anythone who says anything about His Extreme Holiness,Our Lord and Saviour Sogyal Rinpoche (PBUH) is a liar or a fantasist and had better watch out or theyll be placed on my Fatwah list. Mary Finnigan is the devils daughter and a lying b**tch and all those so called ‘abuse victims’ were asking for it and anyway nothing happened and I bet they secretly wanted it. As for the reason why there has been no legal action, since I cant think of a decent answer to this central question, I’ll just ignore it until it goes away.Finally, I will keep postinghere, along with my colleague Sheila, until everybody else gets bored shitless and gives up.’


  116. Sheila, I was helped in English language and presented a few thoughts by a man in DI, so I thank him for the help too. He left me to do the “talking” from my point of view, so I was not censored nor can he be blamed for anything.

    This is one view from the situation that I have tried to write as openly as possible. It is what I know at this point. Other people have other paths behind them and my view cannot replace someone else’s view.


  117. Bella, this is incredible work, and so thoughtfully done. I barely know what to say. Thanks and due respect must go to Dialogue Ireland, too, for publishing it.

    I think while it may be sad for there to be arguing, it would be much sadder if issues were ignored instead of discussed.

    I do believe many people yearn for family–spiritual family included. Like sharing food and music, sharing spiritual experiences seems to be a natural tendency of many human beings.

    At my gompa, barely a word is exchanged among students during the teachings; but the feeling of sitting in that big, open space, all of us contemplating the lesson, or singing the liturgy together, feels nourishing. It’s what it’s supposed to be–support, friendship.

    We are so fortunate, I think, that these days we can find a teacher and spiritual friends for just about any tradition we could possibly think of studying. We have religious freedom, and the power and opportunity to decide for ourselves.

    It’s much, much harder to help others decide for themselves, which I think is where we get into trouble sometimes. But in the end, most of that comes from a good heart just wanting to help.

    I guess that would be my advice in reading through all these articles–or choosing a path for that matter–does the advice feel like it’s coming from a good heart?


  118. Well said, Elizabeth, as if what each party says here is going to influence its readers. They take themselves too seriously. People will make their own minds up. It is very sad to see earnest buddhists arguing like this.


  119. Gosh! What a lot of energy is being expended here with claims and counter claims.
    As an observer, I can’t help being relieved not to be part of all this.

    I used to be a Tibetan Buddhist and regard His Holiness with deep reverence, but I left in the middle of a Tantric empowerment one day when I suddenly realised that I had been using the elaborate ritual, collecting of rupas, posters, implements (always need something else for the shrine..), attendance at expensive and (in my sudden opinion), empty gatherings as an actual diversion from the main event, which is to sit with oneself and know one’s own mind.

    The deep need we westerners have is to belong to a ‘family’ , which BellaB mentions near the beginning of the blog when she describes Rigpa as a big family.

    Forgotten in all this is that the historical Buddha left his biological family, then his spiritual family of ascetics, in order to become Enlightened.

    Buddhism, like other religions such as Christianity,have long since become social clubs where all these allegations can be made and refuted.

    While we are engaged in all this, our lives are ticking away, no closer to that elusive state we are supposedly seeking to develop.

    May you all have peace and illumination.


  120. Dear bellaB,

    Thank you for your response to the “Behind the Thangkas” document and for your contribution to the ongoing debate regarding abuse by Sogyal Rinpoche. I sincerely believe that you tell the truth and this what you believe to be the version of events as you perceive it regarding your relationship with Rigpa. I don’t however agree with your version of events, from my own experience and time spent with Rigpa, along with the mounting evidence that I believe paints a very different picture of Sogyal Rinpoche. But I would certainly never be arrogant or unkind enough to deny you your own experience, or call you a liar and not believe that you believe, that this how you perceive your relationship with Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa to be.

    Kindest regards,


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