Vulnerable Adults and Dzogchen Beara opening a discussion

Glossary of Terms

Child: Any person under the age of eighteen.

Vulnerable adult: A person aged 18 years or over who is unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation, who is unable to take care of him or herself, or who is in need of extra care due to a learning or physical disability or a mental or physical illness.

Lerab Ling sr

Child and Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy

Dzogchen Beara is fully committed to safeguarding the well being of all its community, guests and visitors. Every individual at Dzogchen Beara should at all times, show respect and understanding for the rights, overall development, safety and welfare of individuals and the community. We aim to do all in our power to create safe environments for all, including children and vulnerable adults, in order to secure their protection and enable their full participation in appropriate activities and events.

Dzogchen Beara is currently in the process of implementing a formal Protection Policy for Children and Vulnerable Adults, adhering to the recommendations of Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children , published by the Department of Health and Children. Relevant staff training will be completed in 2013 .


First we note that Dzogchen Beara follows the guidelines Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children.

It is in the process of implementing these guidelines. However, on reading the guidelines it is clear its focus is on Children and does not mention Vulnerable Adults at all?

So the question must be asked what are they doing about vulnerable adults who are the main category of people using their services?

In Irish society there was such revulsion to child abuse scandal that we tend to only look at children and neglect to go onto to look at Adults at all.


First we look at a Glossary of Terms

Child: Any person under the age of eighteen.

Vulnerable adult: A person aged 18 years or over who is unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation, who is unable to take care of him or herself, or who is in need of extra care due to a learning or physical disability or a mental or physical illness.

Certainly a child is clear but when we come to vulnerable adults we find the definition is weighted to a definition which emphasises physical disability or a mental or physical illness. Though this definition is important it fails to see that any adult is vulnerable to good and bad or undue influence. The person could be Germaine Greer or Einstein and still be vulnerable. Here vulnerability relates to issues like family break up or divorce, an incremental conditioning into a religious or philosophical viewpoint which removes the use of critical thinking. Also if the person is in an environment which they are not used to it is far easier to influence a person. A place so distant from contact with other people other than those present for a common purpose like Dzogchen Beara makes group think very easy.



We need then to move from a pathological understanding of vulnerability to an influence based one.

These definitions of what can happen is a helpful beginning to our understanding of this phenomenon.

                    Key to Significant Terms:

  What do we mean by Child / Vulnerable Adult Abuse?

 Five recognised main categories of abuse:

 Sexual Abuse: Involves forcing or enticing a child / vulnerable adult  to take part in sexual activities i.e. encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways

 Physical Abuse: Is the deliberate physical injury to a child / vulnerable adult or the wilful or neglectful failure to prevent physical injury or suffering

Emotional Abuse:  Is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child / vulnerable adult, which adversely affects their emotional development

Spiritual Abuse:   Spiritual abuse is the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining, or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment  

Neglect: Is the persistent failure to meet a child / vulnerable adult’s physical, emotional or psychological needs, which is likely to result in significant harm.

Now coming specifically to Rigpa, led by Sogyal Rinpoche, which was set up with the purpose of transmitting Dharma in the West.

They are superficially committed to protecting vulnerable adults, however, as noted above they have yet to define or give any direction on how they will do this.

 A newspaper article BAD KARMA by Gabrielle Monaghan published by the Sunday Times June 12, 2011 about Sogyal Rinpoche was posted on Dialogue Ireland,  headlined “BUDDHIST LEADER FACES CLAIMS OF SEX EXPLOITATION MADE BY WOMAN WHO WAS ASKED TO UNDRESS” reports “THE Tibetan spiritual director of a Buddhist Centre in Cork, has been accused of sexual exploitation by two women in a new documentary. Sogyal Rinpoche, who is in Ireland this week to lead a nine-day retreat, is the founder of the Rigpa movement, which has 130 centres worldwide. Its Dzogchen Beara centre in west Cork is listed as a tourist destination by Tourism Ireland and was opened by President Mary McAleese in 2007.”

“A woman identified as ‘Mimi’ in the documentary said she met Rinpoche at the age of 22 when she began working at a Rigpa centre in France in 2000 to be near her father. She became an “attendant” to Rinpoche after passing what she took to be a “test of devotion” to join a group of women close to the spiritual teacher. “Women close to Rinpoche were considered to have good karma,” she said in the documentary. “After working at the centre for two months, I was invited into his room. He ordered me to undress, which I thought was a test of devotion. “Some Buddhist masters have this crazy wisdom where they use beatings as a way to open your chakras and open your way to enlightenment. If he beats you or has sex with you, he’s actually opening your path to enlightenment. He asked me to swear never to speak about it to anyone. I f I talked about it, it would sever this connection. I feel very sad because I lost myself and I was in a group of girls who had lost themselves even more.”

 What we gather from this narrative is that young women are claiming that as vulnerable adults they were subject to pressure to have sex with Sogyal using religious beliefs to subvert the rational mind.

Another method which is common in his centres is a classic form of subverting the mind, namely, crazy wisdom. The person is subverted and their boundaries are overwhelmed. This not crazy wisdom but a premeditated assault on the mind of someone coming for religious purposes and then finding themselves subverted.

Also we have had reports on our site of a woman who witnessed this and had to leave early as she saw too clearly the direction he was taking people.


Irish people and specially women are much more vulnerable to a Lamaist location as they flee from the Catholic Church with a vengeance. Why should they become subject to another equally abusive religious mind-set where subtle indoctrination is obvious? Vulnerable victims of clerical abuse have made it clear to us how difficult it was to prove or have others accept that Catholic clergy are capable of sexual abuse.  Is it another case of the worst damage being inflicted before someone who is knowledgeable about cultist practices has the courage to expose the full extent of Lamaist abuse in all of it forms to the Irish people in such a manner that forces them to take it seriously?

Due to the lack of clarity on this issue we need to take heed of experiences reported that point to disturbing elements of Sogyal’s methods of influence. We have already noted he is referred to as “a crazy wisdom master” with unconventional ways of teaching. The following report gives reason for concern:

 “A former Rigpa student’s thoughts and cultivating discernment” on January 13, 2013

 “Rigpa is a well organised structure for the transmission of the Dharma in the West. For the last few years I have been a student of another teacher of Tibetan Buddhism and it was only by being on retreat with him that I realised it wasn’t the normal thing  for there to be such a focus on teachings on devotion,  the guru – student relationship and the unconventional nature of a crazy wisdom master. I feel that these teachings were used to justify Rinpoche’s behaviour and to discourage the questioning of such. There are also teachings that to criticise a Bodhisattva and to cause discord among the Sangha (the spiritual community) will cause you to be reborn in the Vajra hells, so that was quite a strong factor in repressing this questioning of him even in my own thoughts, let alone voicing my misgivings publicly. I noticed in the last few years that as more of these allegations came to light there was more and more focus put on these kinds of teachings.

So who is vulnerable? Everyone is. The secret when on a Retreat is to discern that you are under not so much crazy wisdom but cultist control.

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