Rigpa Cult Practice Testimonies

DI would like to direct readers to two very insightful testimonies, which have recently been posted on another site:

http://thedorjeshugdengroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/a-former-rigpa-students-thoughts-and-cultivating-discernment/

http://thedorjeshugdengroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/thoughts-on-leaving-rigpa/

Indeed, the news is trickling out of Rigpa that all is not well, something like the way news trickles out of Tibet. A couple of brave, courageous individuals step forward to speak out about what they have observed while being insiders at Rigpa. The glimpses we receive show us a reality that any decent Rigpa student must deny in order to continue within the ranks. It seems to be a closed reality now, a world of deceit and repression unto itself, something like communist China.

Lerab Ling sr

However, unlike the brave Tibetans who make the journey to leave China or who risk arrest and torture within China by speaking out, these brave individuals from Rigpa have no support from the Tibetan Buddhist community, no acknowledgement of their pain or of their right to leave an intolerable situation and speak out. Of the two who recently posted, one has found a new lama who is good and decent and has treated her well and re-instated her trust in the dharma. The other hasn’t said. However, there is a concerted effort by Rigpa to bring people back. And there is always that samaya threat being made at Rigpa, the threat of hell if you speak out against the lama. Above all else, students need clarity about that.

Our informed understanding was always that samaya was a protection of the precious bond existent between a lama and his/her disciple, which is particularly necessary in the vajrayana. It is a bond based on trust and confidence and honesty. When I’ve inquired further about its meaning and scriptural sources, however, I find everyone has a different idea and there are few scriptural sources.

“When our informant wrote to Alexander Berzin, asking him what samaya means, he wrote back:

“I don’t know of any specific sources, but the word comes from the Sanskrit verb sam+i, which means to come together in the sense of making an agreement. Samaya, the noun derivative from it, then, is an agreement, sometimes in a legal sense, sometimes in a general sense. That is why I translate it as a close bond. It is a close bond or mutual agreement between a teacher and disciple, or it is a set of practices that make a close bond between a practitioner and a spiritual practice.”

Q: How can a “close bond” or “mutual agreement” look so much like a threat? How can a bond based on the precious relationship between a teacher and his/her disciple become a corrupted tool in the maintaining of a cult? According to one woman who posted, there has been an increase in teachings on devotion and samaya at Rigpa lately. Both women have expressed fear that by leaving Rigpa and speaking out about their concerns that they risk breaking samaya. I fear that this is why there isn’t a greater exodus.

Our informant is no expert in dharma, but is strongly repelled by the idea of samaya being used in the ways that it seems to be used in Rigpa. They used to say that at least SR is not giving initiation, at least he allows students dharmic freedom to turn away and criticize him. However, it appears that this is not the case. It appears that in Rigpa, samaya is being used to control, repress, dumb down and imprison—while the Buddha himself instructed us to question, use our critical faculties, cultivate wisdom and gain freedom. There is a huge discrepancy happening and students are suffering, desperate for clarity. It is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Our informant is ignorant and has no authority and authority is what is needed. I believe that we Westerners now are out of our depth with this trouble in Rigpa, that we need help badly from the Tibetan Buddhist community. We need someone to stand out and help students navigate their way out of confusion and repression. The trouble over samaya is just one example of how complex and confused and dangerous the situation has become and how poorly equipped we in the West are to deal with it.

Over the past fifty years, the Tibetan community has been appealing to the world for help against the atrocities committed by the communist Chinese. Some of us have answered that appeal, contributing funds, putting bumper stickers on our cars, signing petitions, writing letters to our politicians, joining organizations and staging demonstrations. We’ve done what we could. I wonder today if we could ask the same of the Tibetan Buddhist community, if they could do what they can to help?

The situation that is being described by X-Rigpa students is not contained to a few illicit sexual affairs. It is no longer about one man’s sex life, nor is it just about the women who are in these affairs, some of whom feel abused and some of whom don’t. It is a situation where secondary abuse is occurring, probably on a large scale, and where people are confused and wounded and losing faith in the dharma, in humanity and in themselves. The dharma is being twisted and contorted in order to maintain an empire and good, sincere practitioners will suffer—and are suffering—as a result.

We need help from every corner. So my question to all who read this is: How can we elicit the help of the Tibetan Buddhist community? How can we penetrate their loyal silence?

DI has no expertise in Buddhism and this site is not about Buddhism per se rather it is about the cultist practices, tendencies and attitudes which can emerge in any group. As our correspondent has suggested it is now beyond the sexual peccadilloes of Sogyal and is now about the cultist nature of Rigpa.

45 Responses

  1. This comment has been moved to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion post

    “This discourse will be moved over to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion thread, it has nothing to do with the thread”

    The inability to connect the dots and see how the “Cult of Tibetan lamaism/priesthood ……

    Like

  2. This discourse will be moved over to a new post called Tibetan Buddhist debate. It has nothing to with the thread ~ Rigpa Cult Practice Testimonies

    Like

  3. 1. The master-slave paradigm gives most credence to the slave, not the master.

    2. Not a single western practitioner accepts gross poverty as their karma.

    3. The idea that 500 years of western progress is somehow free of misogyny is clearly deluded – just look at the rape figures for the U.S. Army – Misogyny is as alive and well as it ever was in the 14th Century.

    4. “In 22 years, and two million dollar lawsuits , Sogyal is still going strong”
    Does this tell you something? – either the judicial system is at fault, or the claims are not proven.

    5. “You haven’t a clue yet about their ambitions, their long term plans, and their relentless pursuit of a lama buddhocracy.”
    Yes, you are right, I have no clue about this, and I couldn’t care less because it is no threat to me. Many people in my world are ambitiously seeking power, whether I choose to give them this power is entirely up to me.

    Like

  4. This comment has been moved to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion post

    When you are still in the cult of lamaism……………..

    Like

  5. This comment has been moved to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion post

    Sure Chris, it’s all a big …………………

    Like

  6. This comment has been moved to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion post

    As an addendum, you will notice that all this groups…………

    Like

  7. This comment has been moved to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion post

    When your ready to being to extricate yourself…….

    Like

  8. This comment has been moved to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion post

    When Psychology Today in the U.S………………….

    Like

  9. When Psychology Today in the U.S. publishes an article like the one below on the Dalai Lama this year, you can see that the ‘beginning of the end” of the Tibetan lamaist myth is over.

    What is happening in Myanmar , i.e. the genocidal murder of minorities by Buddhist monks in former Burma, will accelerate the process of ending our love affair with the cute little ewok buddhist monks we have projected so much fantasy and wishful thinking on. It’s about time,

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/one-among-many/201301/the-dalai-lama-brand

    For the lastest buddhist violence and monk atrocities in Myanmar see:

    http://www.thenation.com/article/174104/buddhist-violence-burma

    Like

  10. This comment has been moved to the Tibetan Buddhist Discussion post
    Asking for help from the Tibetan Buddhist community….

    Like

  11. Spiritual dilemma or psychological crisis? Buddhism doesn’t have answers to all… or you have to look further. Being a Buddhist doesn’t mean one is a savior.

    I was once faced with a woman, who was supposed to be my friend. At the same time she was playing games, trying to pick up my man and other men too at the same time. Afterwards she explained: “but you are a Buddhist. Aren’t you suppose to forgive?” I may be Buddhist but I am no angel nor am I a carpet that you can walk over.

    Don’t expect Buddhism or Buddhists to be your angels and saviors and what ever else. Look for help from different directions. Something may work better than Buddhism.

    Like

  12. Thinking of leaving rigpa due to lack of support during a life crisis. The abuse claims didn’t bother me so much as this has. Being left to sort out my self despite voicing that I am in spiritual dilemma. Dharma has helped me a lot. But lack of warmth within the sangha has made my mind up to take a step back at least. I have felt that everything was my fault and anything that happened was karma so I let a lot of things that happened pass by. The thing about samaya has started to bother me and it feels very cultish what I am experiencing due to this.Thanks for the posts.

    Like

  13. Good to see you back Sankappa, this article was very helpful as it goes beyond Buddhism and can be applied to any dynamic. No doubt it will receive its usual naysayers!

    Like

  14. Excellent analysis as usual by Stephen Batchelor, directly relevant to the sexual abuse situation occurring at Rigpa and others: http://sweepingzen.com/buddhism-and-sex-the-bigger-picture/

    Like

  15. Anonymous, hope your fiance is not finding it too difficult to leave and it’s amazing the amount of issues and emotions it can bring up for a person. It really floored me for some time the way things would hit me or I’d realise something after I had left Rigpa. Best of luck to him, if he wants to contact me to talk about it, let me know and I’ll send you on my email address.

    Like

  16. Hi, thank you to everyone for posting and sharing. My fiance is also quietly leaving Rigpa after 10+ years for various reasons and this helps me understand.

    Like

  17. I only hope that for the future lives you are intelligent enough to learn that by coloring things and exaggerations you will not win anybody on your side.

    Journalistic ethics seem to be in our day and age mad person’s ethics. I have no wonder why journalists are on the list for top psychopathy in professions. In order to sell, you have to lie, if you are not really a respected journalist. Yellow pages sell the cheap stuff, but nobody bought BTT, not even the Yellow pages…

    Also sources like Barlow are not the ones to listen to. SR’s example about an accused lama going to prison and then set free is an example he has used many times. Only now that I got to understand who Barlow is, I understand why he told that story.

    As for Mimi, I think you coloring things just made you look bad yourself. It was finally when I read that BTT blog that I deeply understood the amount of lies one is able to use in their propaganda. I feel disgusted as did my friends. That is what you can provoke: disgust – and I myself wasn’t disgusted by SR, but the lies written there. How low can you go?

    Do you understand that plain, simple truth is enough? (Real truth, not Barlow’s which you allowed yourself to be lured for decades – or didn’t you just care?)

    Truth hits everybody. It’s all one needs. I hope you learn that from your stumbling over the decades.

    Like

  18. There is hope where once there was despair. I speak personally.

    Like

  19. Anonymous and Joanne, thanks for your comments – they all ring true with me. We are all interconnected and there are layers of issues with this, I am only really realizing it now, even though it’s almost 2 years since I left. I feel every now and then something will hit me about my time in Rigpa or I’ve find something in my papers and think to myself, what was I thinking, that’s absolutely crazy. I am hoping that for every student that questions, breaks out or leaves that it will shine a light and give others permission, courage and insight to do so. The cognitive dissonance/internal conflict is precisely what makes staying so difficult and it also strangely makes leaving and the after shock of leaving so painful – a very difficult experience for all concerned. I wish there was more honesty and openness about these issues.

    Like

  20. Thank you Anonymous for your contribution– and Vajrakilaya as well.
    There are just so many dimensions to this trouble at Rigpa! This trouble has layers and layers and layers and it effects everyone who has ever walked into a Rigpa teaching in some way. As Buddhism teaches, we are so interconnected. Every misdeed at Rigpa effects everyone.

    For those Dakinis still involved sexually with SR and for those close Rigpa insiders with their entire lives invested, the pain of stripping away the deception is possibly just too great at this time– we can only hope that courage has a momentum and that for every Rigpa student who breaks away and then returns to empower others with wisdom, as you two have just done, then more will follow. That’s my prayer. That’s what makes these comments so valuable. Let’s keep it up!

    Like

  21. I also hear from other Tibetan Buddhist groups that keep collecting money and having a price for all courses. Rigpa also offers support for those ones that cannot afford to attend (low prices, study-work and so on). Check out other Buddhist groups and see for yourself. There is variation.

    I think SR wants to build Tibetan Buddhism here that would last: Buddhism moves to the West. There are all kinds of threats for the survival of Tibetan Buddhism, because those people are refugees or under the Communist rule. The temple doesn’t vanish so quickly, even though SR and Rigpa would vanish. There will be hopefully other teachers for the future.

    What bad is in the court case, where every stone has been turned?

    Having spent so much time myself on guessing, listening to all kinds of stories, read mainly anonymous rumors in the internet, I’m completely ready for The End of the Story. I wonder how “Anonymous” can see something negative in that too? I guess you are still not bored enough to move on but want to dwell on the issue. If you have recently left Rigpa you of course need to work on the sorrow.

    “However, once I allowed myself to think the unthinkable, there was no turning back. I could only hear Sogyal manipulating us.”

    Mind is like that. When one decides something is bad, then every action of the person seems bad. It happens to me too when I read anything from Finnigan. Mistrust cannot be turned back: at least not easily.

    Like

  22. Vajrikilaya, really do ignore Bellab, you are not the first who has tried to engage with her, and you won’t be the last. I commend your taking the time to write of your experiences within Rigpa. In all likelihood we know each other. I left Rigpa some years ago, as the cognitive dissonance and internal conflict I felt, which I had managed to ignore or stifle, became unbearable. It was a long process and very painful. For years, I was able to dismiss the allegations, and selfishly, it probably suited me to do so. I saw it as a test of devotion. I didn’t know the women who made the allegations and didn’t question what the party line was at that time. Though even then I wondered why Sogyal kept giving teachings where he repeated ad nauseum, something that Buddha said, and it is along the lines of:

    “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me of my property. Whosoever harbor such thoughts will never be able to still their enmity.
    Never indeed is hatred stilled by hatred; it will only be stilled by non-hatred — this is an eternal law.”

    It was the constant repetition of this and the stories about how some Zen master accused of rape, said nothing , was jailed, and when he was released years later, the woman said she had been lying, again the master said nothing, that were all too pointed. We were being told what to think about Janice Doe.

    I felt unsettled -simply because at that time the Janice Doe case was in the background, not spoken of but still the proverbial elephant in the room. He was telling us directly what to think by using the teachings. There were other things which disturbed me…the requests for money which never ended,the teachings on generosity. Everything within Rigpa had a price. Anyone who questioned it, was given a teaching on generosity or dismissed as having money issues. Unlike you, for all these reasons I found myself stepping back, not admitting to myself the reasons for not throwing myself into it, like my peer group. I still kept going back, but the disquiet that had been there became more intense over the years. The phone call I got from a fund raiser after the death of a loved one : “Why not get a boring job where you can practice all day, and give your money to Rigpa..then you will be benefiting beings” . Even then I considered it long and hard.

    A few other things happened which made it impossible to dismiss the feelings that all was not well within the Rigpa sangha, and in particular with Sogyal…try as I might it became clear that I had to leave. The signs had been there from the beginning, but like so many others what Rigpa was offering was also quite rich for the spiritual seeker. The sense of community, of belonging, of friendship with people with a common goal-you know it all, and of course, the other teachers who visited Rigpa. Great teachers.

    However, once I allowed myself to think the unthinkable, there was no turning back. I could only hear Sogyal manipulating us. The fact that he had built Rigpa up, into an empire, which many saw as a manifestation of his greatness and activity, I could see only as a manifestation of ego. Donald Trump too could build an empire, you don’t have to be a great master to do so. I realised that what I was involved in was no more or less than a personality cult. I think people will stay within Rigpa, possibly because to take the scales from their eyes would be too painful. The women who have been sexually used by Sogyal and those of us affected by it, will always be dismissed, as the problem. It is time Rigpa woke up and told the truth rather than stage managing their PR and looking for damage limitation. People love the truth, love the admission of human failure, of repentance and then the resolution. But maybe it’s too, too late for some of us.

    Like

  23. Vajrakilaya, I guess there is one option alone, but it’s a difficult one, since bedroom issues are not public information but very private matter.

    Instead of Finnigan stirring a soup of her own, I think Mimi and SR should go to court, where things would be recorded in detail. Then the judges would get statements from psychologists, the people involved and witnesses. It would become very clear, once and for all.

    This gossip stuff and useless speculation just drains people.

    Like

  24. thanks sankappa, it’s a difficult process and it does take time and space to realise what has been realised, the impact of that and also to realise it’s possible and wonderful to still have faith in the dharma outside of this experience. it has been sad to lose people and friendships through this decision but the sort of radical honesty i found myself working with did not allow me to continue to hold the way in which allegations about rinpoche were been held in one part of my head and continue to be a rigpa student in another.

    we all have different perspectives and experiences but i know for sure that in the past two years, a lot of people have left rigpa because of the allegations and how they have been handled. these people are extremely wounded and upset by their experiences and they are starting to speak to each other about how they can best heal from these experiences and move forward, i think that is to be commended.

    the only thing i will respond to in bellab’s positing is with regards to the training weekends and answering questions. yes, a totally tough job to answer these questions in front of group, much harder than being on a computer keyboard – i know as i’ve been put in a position on numerous occassions in rigpa settings, before, during and after training. honestly, after training was the most difficult as the stage managed responses we were given to deliver were the final straw for me and two others that weekend. we were so confused and could not get answers or any understanding of our confusion – we got blank stares and the same responses over and over again. i am sorry it did not feel authentic or real and i discussed this with several instructors, including one who had come from Lerab Ling to deliver this training weekend. i know how difficult it was to answer questions and i always tried to be honest and open with people but it became too difficult to do this once i realised the full impact of what was up for discussion.

    Like

  25. 5 post mentalism!

    Like

  26. SR has taught for many decades now. He is an experienced teacher. Of course his workers have given him feedback about people and their experiences. I am certain that he knows that those students who have devotion, have realized the nature mind. It’s like that.

    Other people can look for other teachers, they are free to go. Hopefully they also find what they are looking for.

    Like

  27. About Vajra Hells….

    “I don’t believe this anymore, I really don’t, I don’t believe that by following my own wisdom and instinct which tells me the cult-like nature of how the allegations about Rinpoche’s behaviour is handled is wrong is going to cause me to break my samaya or send me to a vajra hell. We live in a free world – I think it’s fine for people to stay in Rigpa and to follow Sogyal Rinpoche if they are open and honest about what is going on there but this constant baiting of people online and also the re-education of people who question and the cold shouldering of those who leave, all of whom leave quietly, it has to be said, that behaviour is just wrong and so very disturbing.”

    I have never believed in Vajra Hells. And why? Sogyal Rinpoche has NEVER emphasized that kind of thinking at all. I’m myself against any threats that come from priests and Christianity: you’ll go to hell, if you don’t believe in Jesus. Therefore I’m no fertile ground for hell speeches. I’m glad SR has never spoken about them. He is not an idiot.

    Devotion, if you truly have it, can open your heart and mind quickly. It’s a tool.

    There is no other reason for devotion, but cracking the nature of mind open and free. Vajrayana is a quick path and lama is there for a reason. Hopefully some other lama can explain this to you.

    SR may not be here for long, since he is aging, so there might other reasons for talking about devotion: reaching out to as many people as he possibly could and showing them. Not wasting time with complicated philosophical debates. That is how I see him: really wanting to people to get it. He is not suppressing it all thinking that only the privileged people, the few near by, are allowed to see it and experience it. He is very generous. I hope people would realize that, but I guess it will happen only when he is gone, when it’s too late.

    Like

  28. “I have been at training weekends for instructors where these issues were discussed over a course of two days – we went through exercises where one person was someone asking a question about rinpoche and another gave the answer. It was roleplay for how to answer the questions about these allegations – we were given a list of guidelines to use in this exercise, it was deeply disturbing. Something is true, tell the truth, something is wrong, tell the truth – why is there a need for such spinning and scripted behaviour ? It is because there is something to hide.”

    Or it is a difficult issue? Instructors are being asked about the allegations at times.

    How would you respond to the person?

    “I don’t know if the allegations are true or not, since I haven’t been in his bedroom. Other students have told me that Rinpoche helps people and his intent is not harming.”

    “I don’t know, since I have never met any person who would be abused. All I can say that I have never seen him being abusive.”

    “The allegations are true: my friend was abused, but I forgave him and here I am working as an instructor!” (joke.)

    How would you respond in front of a group? Tough job. Much more so than writing in the internet.

    One can be more personal when one discusses things alone with the person who asked.

    Like

  29. “I am asking you bellaB to have some compassion here – can you imagine for one minute what it is like to have been so involved with Rigpa and then have to make the decision to leave because you can no longer hold the contradictions in your head and heart ? It is truly heart-breaking, I cried for days when I realised I could no longer stay in this organisation.”

    I have been involved for over ten years, heard about the rumors on my year 1-2. I was shocked. Especially when that kind of thing, sexual abuse can happen to any woman. Two men have tried to rape me and others in my youth have been just bastards in different ways, so I had my own load of experiences. These allegations hit me very hard. I had been ACTIVELY looking for years for a spiritual path where one could evolve. When I stumbled upon Sogyal Rinpoche, it happened as a result of complicated events and felt destined. I didn’t just walk into a neighborhood center and started meditating. The thing that I found him involved many coincidences over the years that I will not tell here.

    For me it was terrible: finding the spiritual path, finally, and then stumbling into these allegations that I was trying to escape from in my own life: abusive males in my youth. After my youth I had also met good men, so I had already found hope and things had been good for some time (7-8 years).

    So, my way of reacting was: I talked first with two of my Rigpa friends. We did internet research. Later I and my friend elsewhere spoke with close students. One was not helpful. I could hear her words echoing what some people said here: the response was not a personal response, but some “party line”. I also understand that, because not everybody is terribly involved emotionally in this subject. Maybe they just don’t have their karmic vision or buttons involved in the issue and they don’t know how to emotionally respond.

    But I have found people who have been thinking deeper about these issues, and clearly I can see in them that it has been difficult for them to deal with these issues personally too. These responses were not party lines. I’m glad I stumbled into those people. Those people have been in Rigpa or they have been Buddhists for over 15-25 years. They have also chosen to work in Rigpa. They are very close to SR and all these people. They have told me in detail how Rigpa people have tried to talk with Finnigan without any success. Like I myself have noticed finally here (and BTT blog) that her stories about these people are mostly invented, so I have no respect toward her at all. I also wonder how many anonymous stories are invented by herself in the internet. Therefore if I’m in doubt, I ask details of stories. I question every line, thanks to Finnigan.

    Early on I had started my Vajrasattva purification practice and saw pretty clear dreams in relation to purity/impurity. My emotions intensified as the purification process went forward. SR has said: “when you have never used soap, and then we you begin, there will be dirt, but it has to come out.” One can also use these emotions as the path: face them and try to deal with them. For me it has all been eye opening process: both about men, what kind of creatures they are, and about myself: what was my own responsibility (or lack of awareness in my youth) that lead me into these situations. This is why I have tried to see situations from different angles: not just from the woman’s emotional view and how that pain blurs oneself from looking at reality. I have also learned to defend myself, look straight into people’s motives. If I sniff an attempt of manipulation, I lose respect toward that person immediately (yes, it includes some journalists too).

    I do not accept abuse, and I think that many men are really selfish and they are grown into that thinking that they can subjugate women. Their own needs are more important than women or women’s need of safety. That is problem worldwide. We have just witnessed an Indian woman being gang raped and so on. Millions of sick stories. Western porn with gang bangs doesn’t help us at all, but worsens everything for women.

    What I have seen in Rigpa, I tell here. If I know things to be different than represented here, I’m not silent.

    At times it might look as if I completely dismiss somebody’s emotional experiences. I don’t dismiss them completely. I can be sorry for these people, but I also question everything. Just because I have met the people in Rigpa who I have met, and because of my own experiences I can see another side too. These people work really close to Rinpoche and I trust their account about seeing any abuse. They have seen – since they are there all the time – many times more cases where SR has truly and selflessly helped people.

    I don’t know Mimi, and therefore I cannot say weather she is a balanced person and I can trust her account. Nobody in Rigpa has called her imbalanced or dismissed her in anyway. If it is a real story (except the Finnigan’s invented orgies… sigh…) then it’s a bizarre and sad story. There are also many other bizarre stories, but with a happy ending. Hard to say what SR has been up to, but I very much doubt he ignored Mimi and wanted to harm her. He has tried to contact her, which means that he is not a coward and he has wanted to find peace with her.

    Like

  30. “…would just like to add that back in 2010, at my first (and last) Rigpa retreat, the push was very much on then, to motivate students to have unquestioning, unwavering trust and devotion in Sogyal Rinpoche. It was one of the main themes of the retreat, with Sogyal Rinpoche speaking directly about faith and devotion for the guru on several occasions. That was three years ago now, and in hindsight I realise that it was indeed aimed at shoring-up support for those that were wavering and beginning to have doubts in Sogyal’s integrity.”

    Sankappa that is your interpretation about the events. One can see them like that especially if one is too afraid to stay longer.

    What SR is here to do? I think he is not here to talk difficult Buddhist concepts and philosophy. He is here to show people the nature of mind.

    That will help in everybody’s dying process. For some to heal from extreme traumatic events (like childhood sexual abuse which changes the whole personality) getting in touch with the love inside themselves can be seriously transforming issue. Maybe that is the only honest good thing they have ever experienced, honest love without manipulation and lies.

    That is his gift and it’s an important one.

    If one wants to see the devotion as guru worship, they are just completely misunderstanding. I hope they can find a lama who can make them understand.

    Like

  31. BellaB= Latin for war B class soldier: Did you ever think of doing an interview with Oprah Winfrey like Lance Armstrong=SR?

    Like

  32. Dear vajrakilaya,

    It takes guts and honesty to do what you have done. No doubt there are still many at Rigpa who are aware of the issues just like you, but haven’t had the courage to face the truth of the situation. To practice Dharma requires uncompromising honesty, most particularly with one’s “self”, and if it is important to you to progress in the Dharma, you have made the difficult but right choice. Perhaps for others the choice boils down to a lifestyle decision taking precedence over what’s in accord with the Dharma. But the nagging question must remain, how can you practice Dharma when living a lie?

    I find this “vajra hell” threat that you mention quite disturbing. Not only is it complete and utter superstitious nonsense and will only have as much power as you allow fear to give it, but the fact that it is used as a means of coercion and control within an organisation meant to be propagating liberation, is beyond disgraceful . Your detailed description of the weekend of role-play on how to protect the “guru” must surely qualify Rigpa for cult status, and hopefully will serve as a real warning to others.

    vajrakilaya, I am sure the more time and space you put between yourself and Rigpa, the more it will confirm that you have made the right decision, as difficult and uncertain as it may seem in the short-term. I admire your courage and thank you for taking the time to make this revealing post. It will stand as an example for others who are in your situation or maybe having doubts about Rigpa. It will also stand as an example of propagating Truth/Dharma and as a stark contrast to what may have been incumbent upon you, to perpetuate dishonesty, misinformation and the cult of personality of Sogyal Rinpoche, if you remained at Rigpa.

    With metta and karuna to you,
    Sankappa

    P.S. As many posters have found at DI, it is extremely tempting to reply to and engage with bellaB. At all costs, avoid this temptation, as she is absolutely beyond being convinced of anything about Sogyal Rinpoche or Rigpa. If we hold the line on this she will further fade into insignificance and irrelevancy.

    Like

  33. iI was reluctant to post here as the dismissal of real feelings and experiences by bellaB is so strong and hurtful but here goes. i spent about 20 years in Rigpa and I left as it was no longer tenable for me to continue in an organisation in which I did not feel comfortable. I did not feel comfortable because the more I read and saw about the allegations about Sogyal Rinpoche, the more I could not reconcile the truth of my feelings about this, the truth of the Dharma and the substance of these allegations and how they were dealt with in Rigpa. I spoke to several senior instructors about this, it was a difficult, heartbreaking decision for me to leave – I have lost friends who I really cared for as a result of leaving and that really hurt for a while but I realised in hindsight, they only wanted to be friends when i was in Rigpa. I left quietly, I didn’t make a fuss. I asked instructors I trusted about the allegations and they all said the same things – he is entitled to a private life, this is your ego reacting, the women consented or one person even said, he has lots of women who want to be with him. There are two things wrong with these responses – one is they are all the same answers, almost word for word from different people ie. it is a script, a party line and secondly, people have been deeply wounded as a result of their time with Rigpa if and when they decide to discuss these allegations honestly and ultimately if they decide to leave. I am asking you bellaB to have some compassion here – can you imagine for one minute what it is like to have been so involved with Rigpa and then have to make the decision to leave because you can no longer hold the contradictions in your head and heart ? It is truly heart-breaking, I cried for days when I realised I could no longer stay in this organisation. I spoke to one instructor who actually admitted that Rinpoche has a lot of girlfriends and he said so what, look at that issue compared to all the people who benefit from the teachings. I think there is a so what to this – people have been hurt and continue to be hurt by this behaviour. Cover up does not help, willful disbelief does not help. I have been at training weekends for instructors where these issues were discussed over a course of two days – we went through exercises where one person was someone asking a question about rinpoche and another gave the answer. It was roleplay for how to answer the questions about these allegations – we were given a list of guidelines to use in this exercise, it was deeply disturbing. Something is true, tell the truth, something is wrong, tell the truth – why is there a need for such spinning and scripted behaviour ? It is because there is something to hide. It is heart-breaking for me and it was taken me a lot time to be even able to talk about it with one other person I really trust. Tibetan Buddhism has had a profound and meaningful impact on my life and I continue to use it as a reference point in my life on a daily basis but the development of Rigpa in recent years around the management of the allegations against Rinpoche is wrong. Having been around for such a long time, I am in a position to say that compared to the early days, the amount of teachings on devotion and guru yoga has definitely expanded. The teachings on samaya have also been positioned to create a feeling that this is a relationship that cannot be violated at any time, no matter what happens. I have the notes from Rigpa on this and if you read “the words of my perfect teacher” and also some teachings from Dudjom Rinpoche, you see that breaking samaya is one of the worst things that a Buddhist can do and yes, it does involve the vajra hells. I don’t believe this anymore, I really don’t, I don’t believe that by following my own wisdom and instinct which tells me the cult-like nature of how the allegations about Rinpoche’s behaviour is handled is wrong is going to cause me to break my samaya or send me to a vajra hell. We live in a free world – I think it’s fine for people to stay in Rigpa and to follow Sogyal Rinpoche if they are open and honest about what is going on there but this constant baiting of people online and also the re-education of people who question and the cold shouldering of those who leave, all of whom leave quietly, it has to be said, that behaviour is just wrong and so very disturbing. I know that feeling that no one is forcing you to do anything, to choose anything and so on – that’s true, it doesn’t feel like that. It ‘s subtle and nuanced and we don’t notice it but on a subtle level, things are been said and done to engender feelings around samaya, insiders-outsiders and all those issues that can be extremely troubling if you decide to question.

    Like

  34. Once again BellaB you dismiss the concerns and experiences of others. No one on this thread has accused you of BS or being a c***..Is this the only way you can defend your “Guru”?

    How do you know the experience of these people? Were you in the room with them? Some how I doubt that very much.

    I am sure that everyone is glad that you have had an amazing experience with your “Guru” but you can not keep debasing other people to try to get them to go away. They are entitled to post here and if you wish to refute them at least you could try to do it in a decent and respectful way. I don’t see much of Buddha’s teachings in your posts.

    Of course there will be people who will have had a good experience with SR however you can’t keep denying the experience of others especially as the talk has been around for so many years and people are coming out to document their experience of a not so positive nature.

    I doubt you have much of an understanding of cultish tendencies and I would suggest you look deeper before you start referring to people in the manner that you have on these posts.

    Thank you to sankappa for your post in support of Mary and Joanne.

    Like

  35. ………

    Like

  36. Lot’s of – mostly irrational – fears here…

    Like

  37. “The question of coercive cult practices at Rigpa has also been examined and discussed for some time. In the early 90s Stephen Batchlor organised a conference at Sharpham House in Devon to share experience of this and explore ways of dealing with it. Several ex Rigpa people, inclduing me, spoke about the techniques deployed to manipulate people’s responses to concepts like samaya, guru devotion etc: This has been on various individual and group agendas (including mine) ever since. In saying this, in no way do I denigrate or dismiss the current wave of confessional statements and reaction to them.”

    And this was in relation to Rigpa or Buddhism in general? I doubt Stephen Batchelor have had much to do with Rigpa, ever. He likes to be free Westerner and have his own Buddhism without lamas/gurus at all. Therefore the he supports his own organization by talking BS about Tibetan stuff…? He didn’t meet any lama he felt connection to, so therefore nobody else should either?

    I’m sorry, but I have NEVER, not even once heard about SR talking about Vajra Hell.

    Once that paragraph was read aloud by Patrick in some common Tibetan Buddhist text. SR immediately commented: “Never mind about that. Just forget about it. Don’t make concepts and fears about that.” Then we went on with the text.

    That is his view. Not this BS that you invent here.

    You can ask about samaya from other lamas too. What do they think about it? Is it important or not?

    Is samaya important in Vajrayana? Why is it important?

    In Rigpa I have heard many times said that you should check the lama for 12 years before commitment. Nobody has pushed me to take steps forward into that direction. NOBODY.

    At times there’s talking – here among people who don’t have much experience in Rigpa – that they were not being a close student in one year – and how they suffered. How evil SR was because he didn’t marry or talk to the woman that he didn’t probably know.

    Try to decide!

    Too much invitation to be close by, in a cult, or too little?!!

    Like

  38. Well yes, I know you have Mary, and I have made comments to that effect in your defence in the past. I’ve always appreciated your single-handed efforts in taking the ball up the middle when no one else was!

    It seems that good old common sense, discernment and not pulling one’s punches have gone out of fashion, somewhat. And that’s what they wanted me to do at Rigpa, give away my good intuitive sense and discernment and have blind faith in Sogyal Rinpoche.

    The situation there now seems to sinking to new lows. I wonder wether with this type of damage control desperation the whole thing will implode soon, or wether it’s just a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Like

  39. Bravo Sankappa! I’ve been calling a spade a bloody shovel for 20+ years so its wonder-full for me to know that nowadays there are more and more people joining the refrain. Perhaps we need a fresh set of mantras? Like..erm… Om common sense common sense bodhi svaha…or Ah trust your inner voice trust your inner voice Hung…there will be TB fundies (no fun-dies?) who will accuse me of blasphemy here. Do I care? Not one iota. they’ve accused me of far worse than that over the years. Onwards!

    Like

  40. …would just like to add that back in 2010, at my first (and last) Rigpa retreat, the push was very much on then, to motivate students to have unquestioning, unwavering trust and devotion in Sogyal Rinpoche. It was one of the main themes of the retreat, with Sogyal Rinpoche speaking directly about faith and devotion for the guru on several occasions. That was three years ago now, and in hindsight I realise that it was indeed aimed at shoring-up support for those that were wavering and beginning to have doubts in Sogyal’s integrity. I am glad to say it was wasted on me, as it was in fact at this retreat that I saw through the whole fabrication and orchestration of events which confirmed to me what a con-job Rigpa and Sogyal Rinpoche were/are. I guess now three years on I am still surprised that more people, as I did, do not see through this charade sooner rather than later. Although, I think it may be the case that I have always had a good nose for bullshit, plus forty or so years life experience prior to encountering Rigpa. Unfortunately though, so many of the new Rigpa recruits are young, impressionable and trusting and this is what makes the whole organisation more insidious, in that it preys on this trust and naivety. I have a lot of empathy for the two latest casualties who have courageously come forward to further expose Rigpa. I know the hurt, confusion and the set-back in the Dharma I suffered after only 10 months, so I know I will never fully comprehend how this feels after 10 or 20 years involvement.

    This then leads me to repeat what I have posted in the past. It is not just sexual abuse that is being committed by Sogyal Rinpoche, and which has previously dominated discussion, it is again apparent through the latest two exposes, and that which has directly been my experience and that of others, it is abuse on many levels: spiritual, psychological, physical, financial and sexual. In fact the whole organisation is predicated on deceit, because at its core is a corrupted individual who’s real agenda is to indulge his ego, while in reality giving only lip service to Dharma, and only to the degree necessary in maintaining the illusion of a spiritual organisation. Rigpa is then further corrupted by having an elite inner circle of enablers, typical to cult organisations. This cultic behaviour is further in evidence now by the damage-control and “re-education” campaigns being waged and now being brought to public attention. So, knowing what we now know and seeing the evolution towards increasingly desperate and deceitful tactics, how is it that I still see the oft repeated sentiment, that there are still “good and worthwhile teachings” through this organisation. This really concerns me. How can these be “good” teachings and a true transmission of the Dharma when they come from a corrupted heart with largely deceitful and ulterior motives? The message might resemble Dharma but its vehicle of delivery is ultimately aDharmic. Saying it’s still “Dharma” amounts to a contradiction.

    The much repeated claim that there are many good, positive and wonderful people involved with Rigpa, is one which I completely agree with and have encountered first-hand. For the sake of these people and the many vulnerable new recruits whom are having doubts about Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa, or for the people that have yet to make a decision to become involved, I believe we need to use the strongest most uncompromising and least contradictory language possible to condemn this organisation. To continue to repeat that there is still Dharma to be found here, is misleading and just plain incorrect. Let’s start calling a spade, a spade.

    Like

  41. Well done DI. Top posting!

    Like

  42. My concern is that in the testimonies that are coming forward, there is no clarity about samaya. Both women spoke of a fear of vajra hell. They spoke of an increase in teachings on samaya and devotion in Rigpa. There is a lack of confidence. At the moment, if people can’t find that initial courage to question and doubt, in fear of breaking samaya, they won’t discover any alternatives. This is where help is most needed from mainstream Tibetan Buddhists I believe.

    Like

  43. There has been considerable support for people leaving Rigpa from a variety of Tibetan Buddhist sources. I stress Buddhist — because as far as I know ethnic Tibetans are not involved. It is alien to their culture to publicly acknowledge that any particular lama has strayed from the precepts they vow to uphold. When I put this question to one of HHDL’s aides in 1997 his reply was “Tibetans don’t approve of sexual abuse but we don’t make a public display of it. If a monk or lama loses the respect of the community, people show their disapproval with their feet. They stop attending teachings and pujas — that sort of thing.” The question of coercive cult practices at Rigpa has also been examined and discussed for some time. In the early 90s Stephen Batchlor organised a conference at Sharpham House in Devon to share experience of this and explore ways of dealing with it. Several ex Rigpa people, inclduing me, spoke about the techniques deployed to manipulate people’s responses to concepts like samaya, guru devotion etc: This has been on various individual and group agendas (including mine) ever since. In saying this, in no way do I denigrate or dismiss the current wave of confessional statements and reaction to them. On the contrary, I view the current wave as long overdue. With this in mind I have asked LSE’s cult information resource Inform to stage a conference on this topic in London this year. I await their response.

    Like

  44. If someone wants to leave Rigpa, SR has asked them to inform him and not just go. There are hudnfreds/thousands of people and some lama could just ignore someone leaving, but not SR. I have heard someone saying that they want to follow some other lama. SR asked: “Who?” He wanted to know if the new lama was a good one. After he knew who the person wanted to follow, he said: “Okay.”

    Stop talking BS when you have no experience at all.

    Like

  45. “And there is always that samaya threat being made at Rigpa, the threat of hell if you speak out against the lama. Above all else, students need clarity about that.”

    BS. Just the kind of C*** only you can invent, who has never even visited Rigpa and doesn’t know Buddhism at all.

    I’ve never heard these things in Rigpa, but only in Dialogue Ireland.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: