Very sad news: Letter to Sogyal Rinpoche / Abuse allegations

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Karma Dorje
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Re: Very sad news

Post by Karma Dorje » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:58 pm

dzogchungpa wrote: In all seriousness, what hemming and hawing? The only reason I pointed out that thing about NK was to stimulate thought regarding whether or not "realization" really guarantees as much, behaviorwise, as some would like to think.
Not directed at you, but at the hand-wringing in general that we are Western practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism engage in when faced with behaviour that in no way accords with what Shakyamuni Buddha taught. If we cant be direct and forceful when confronted with clearly wrong behaviour, how can we pretend to have bodhisattva vows?

Dogshit wrapped in satin is still dogshit.
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smcj
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Re: Very sad news

Post by smcj » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:12 pm

I think that going forward a safe prediction is in America lawsuits will be effective in curtailing further abuses. The legal system does not recognize Vajrayana principles.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Re: Very sad news

Post by treehuggingoctopus » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:26 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:With all due respect, if this fat, abusive Sogyal prick was a Mormon we would all be going on about how degenerate the Mormon religion is and not hemming and hawing about whether he "has realization".

I am sorry, but all of the equivocation on this is not good for Tibetan Buddhism in the West. The ridiculous level of sexism and misogyny in Tibetan culture has to stop, if not in Tibet and the diaspora, then certainly among western practitioners. This is not a case of he said/she said. There are years of reports from some of his closest students that substantiate Sogyal's abusive, predatory behaviour.

If we can't draw clear lines against behaviour like that, it is no wonder that western sanghas with a few exceptions are the domain of aging hippies and GenX'ers. Even if this alleged tulku has the realization to carry on like this without harm to himself, he is clearly harming others. I mean, Jesus H. Christ have we learned nothing from the Osel Tenzin fiasco? This is not a difficult topic.

What would we say about abusive Catholic priests molesting young boys? That it was OK because it brought the boys closer to God? Give me a break.

Whether you are Sogyal Lhakar, Younge Khachab or Osel Tenzin if you can't keep your pants on, don't call yourself a Dharma teacher.
:good:
To offer care and affection to sentient beings
In desperate situations who lack protection
Brings just as much merit as the meditation
On emptiness with compassion as its core—
So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by kirtu » Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:49 pm

Karma Dorje wrote: Whether you are Sogyal Lhakar, Younge Khachab or Osel Tenzin if you can't keep your pants on, don't call yourself a Dharma teacher.
This final statement in your excellent post is too far. Not all teachers are celibate or must be forced to be.

Teachers must be compassionate, minimally well-behaved and not engage in abusive behavior but celibacy is not a requirement unless they are a monastic (and then not in Japanese lineages).

Kirt
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"Even if you practice only for an hour a day with faith and inspiration, good qualities will steadily increase. Regular practice makes it easy to transform your mind. From seeing only relative truth, you will eventually reach a profound certainty in the meaning of absolute truth."
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by gb9810 » Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:57 pm

kirtu wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote: Whether you are Sogyal Lhakar, Younge Khachab or Osel Tenzin if you can't keep your pants on, don't call yourself a Dharma teacher.
This final statement in your excellent post is too far. Not all teachers are celibate or must be forced to be.

Teachers must be compassionate, minimally well-behaved and not engage in abusive behavior but celibacy is not a requirement unless they are a monastic (and then not in Japanese lineages).

Kirt
it seems fairly obvious that the implied context is with students, not generally.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by TRC » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:09 am

  • • XX, student for 33 years, Three Year Retreatant, former Director of the International Rigpa Online Courses & Rigpa US Teaching Services for 5 years, International Senior Instructor

    • XX, student for 16 years, Three Year Retreatant, Buddhist monk for 14 years, Codirector of technology for Rigpa International


    • XX, student for 15 years, Three Year Retreatant, Buddhist nun for 10 years, personal assistant to Sogyal Lakar

    • XX, student for 19 years, former Rigpa US Board Member, author of Fearless In Tibet: The Life of the Mystic of Tertön Sogyal


    • XX, student for 18 years, Head of Sogyal Lakar’s household in US for 15 years, National Director for Rigpa US for 7 years, Director of Zam America for 5 years, Rigpa Instructor

    • XX, student for 20 years, Sogyal Lakar’s personal attendant and driver


    • XX, student for 21 years, Rigpa Instructor, Sogyal Lakar’s personal attendant and driver in the US

    • XX, student for 23 years
Source: http://openboeddhisme.nl/wp-content/upl ... -2017-.pdf

Above is the list of the people (minus names) that composed and sent the letter to Sogyal. All of them are long-standing students of his, with an average of 21 years in Rigpa. Among them are some very senior figures within the Rigpa organisation (E.G. National Director, Board Member, etc) and close personal attendants, those who would have intimate knowledge of Sogyal’s abuse and who would have witnessed his behaviour and the behind the scenes machinations over an extended period. Therefore these people might actually know what they are talking about.


So if there are others who are posting here who know better than the above people about the situation in Rigpa, it would be good to hear what you have to say by way of refuting their claims, otherwise it is all just speculation that was has been described in explicit detail in the letter is false.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by Karma Dorje » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:32 am

kirtu wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote: Whether you are Sogyal Lhakar, Younge Khachab or Osel Tenzin if you can't keep your pants on, don't call yourself a Dharma teacher.
This final statement in your excellent post is too far. Not all teachers are celibate or must be forced to be.

Teachers must be compassionate, minimally well-behaved and not engage in abusive behavior but celibacy is not a requirement unless they are a monastic (and then not in Japanese lineages).

Kirt
Hi Kirt, I didn't mean to say that teachers must be monastics. I meant that they should not be screwing everything that moves. If they want to have consensual sexual relationships with peers, its really none of my business. If however they are abusing a position of power to get laid by all and sundry, and have their attendants and other girlfriends groom new sexual conquests this is truly galling. It's a huge problem even in a secular setting-- how much more so when we are supposed to be focused on the benefit of others, not merely our own appetites?

Don't they have any shame? What kind of example are they providing for their students?

The world doesn't need more pelvic missionaries, "saving" beings from samsara one conquest at a time. We need more realized saints, not more realized assholes.
"Although my view is higher than the sky, My respect for the cause and effect of actions is as fine as grains of flour."
-Padmasambhava

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Re: Very sad news

Post by smcj » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:48 am

Am I missing something? Is somebody disputing the letter?
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Re: Very sad news

Post by dzogchungpa » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:53 am

I've been having a look at https://whatnow727.wordpress.com/ and just to lighten things up a bit I thought I would point out a nice story about Mingyur Rinpoche I read in a comment there:
TENPEL wrote: I had the good luck to be with him together for 12 days almost around the clock many years ago. That’s why I was able to see how he responded and dealt with daily life situations, from swimming to people who sought his help (for whom I often translated), from travelling with the train, visiting a sight up to a violent situation and how he dealt with that. Here is the latter story (abbreviated): When we wanted to go by the subway a young man wanted to hit him right into the face with his fist. When the man and his aggressive friends came nearer (I was paralysed knowing something violent will happen), Mingyur Rinpoche, who walked in front of me was totally calm. He just walked on as he uses to walk totally open, aware and relaxed. When the man put forward his fist and arm to hit Mingyur Rinpoche right into the face, at the almost last moment, Mingyur Rinpoche grabbed the arm of the man, moved the fist beside his face and joyfully smiled at him with a move of his own fist only softly suggesting to hit him too – like a friendly child game or children who only PLAY boxing. The man was utterly perplex, his aggression fell off of him, and due to the power of his move he fell almost down. Mingyur Rinpoche gave him a slight push so that he could continue to walk without falling down. Them Mingyur Rinpoche moves on in awareness or meditation, totally relaxed as IF NOTHING HAPPENED AT ALL. He didn’t say a word, his body didn’t shake. There was not the slightest excitement or nervous reaction, fear or arrogance or any word about the whole thing.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Very sad news

Post by TRC » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:17 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
Karma Dorje wrote:With all due respect, if this fat, abusive Sogyal prick was a Mormon we would all be going on about how degenerate the Mormon religion is and not hemming and hawing about whether he "has realization".

I am sorry, but all of the equivocation on this is not good for Tibetan Buddhism in the West. The ridiculous level of sexism and misogyny in Tibetan culture has to stop, if not in Tibet and the diaspora, then certainly among western practitioners. This is not a case of he said/she said. There are years of reports from some of his closest students that substantiate Sogyal's abusive, predatory behaviour.

If we can't draw clear lines against behaviour like that, it is no wonder that western sanghas with a few exceptions are the domain of aging hippies and GenX'ers. Even if this alleged tulku has the realization to carry on like this without harm to himself, he is clearly harming others. I mean, Jesus H. Christ have we learned nothing from the Osel Tenzin fiasco? This is not a difficult topic.

What would we say about abusive Catholic priests molesting young boys? That it was OK because it brought the boys closer to God? Give me a break.

Whether you are Sogyal Lhakar, Younge Khachab or Osel Tenzin if you can't keep your pants on, don't call yourself a Dharma teacher.
KD in da house! :smile:

In all seriousness, what hemming and hawing? The only reason I pointed out that thing about NK was to stimulate thought regarding whether or not "realization" really guarantees as much, behaviorwise, as some would like to think.
What do you think dzogchungpa, do realised beings still have the capacity to harm and abuse others?

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Re: Very sad news

Post by dzogchungpa » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:22 am

TRC wrote:Wat do you think dzogchungpa, do realised beings still have the capacity to harm and abuse others?
Well, it depends on what 'realised' means and, I might add, 'harm' and 'abuse'. If you want a straightforward answer, I will say: I don't know. I'm inclined to believe that "realization" is not necessarily enough to guarantee acceptable behavior although a sufficiently "high" realization would be. That is why, IMO, teachers need to be kept in check by something, their students, the society, their own teachers etc.
There is not only nothingness because there is always, and always can manifest. - Thinley Norbu Rinpoche

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Re: Very sad news

Post by TRC » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:36 am

dzogchungpa wrote:
TRC wrote:Wat do you think dzogchungpa, do realised beings still have the capacity to harm and abuse others?
Well, it depends on what 'realised' means and, I might add, 'harm' and 'abuse'. If you want a straightforward answer, I will say: I don't know. I'm inclined to believe that "realization" is not enough.
Thanks for the straight answer. In light of compassion being such a central tenet in Tibetan Buddhism (and all paths for that matter), I wonder how the idea of a realised being can include one who still harms others?

I don't think there is any doubt that Sogyal has harmed others, because individuals are saying they have been harmed. I give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what has happened to them. Not to, is a real slap in the face for them and further amplifies their distress.

Edit: I see you were still formulating your reply while I was replying.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by emaho » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:49 am

TRC wrote:... I wonder how the idea of a realised being can include one who still harms others?
I have absolutely no intention to defend Sogyal, and I'm not claiming that he's realized. However I think "realized" is one of the most ambiguous terms in Tibetan Buddhism. Some people use it as synonym for "enlightened" (which doesn't neccessarily make it much clearer because that term is ambiguous, too), but in other contexts I have heard teachers define "realized" as "having a clear visualization of the deity". In the latter sense I think somebody who is realized can still have serious faults. :shrug:
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

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Re: Very sad news

Post by smcj » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:07 am

TRC wrote:...do realised beings still have the capacity to harm and abuse others?
Simple answer: No.

Middling answer: An actual realized being can do things that conventionally appear as if it is harm or abuse, but in reality it is not harm. But basically it is a moot point in that there are very few beings alive today that are on that level--if any. I cannot swear to you that there is even one.

Long answer: In the past there were people of such high realization, and the histories of the Vajrayana have plenty of examples. Tilopa put Naropa through major abusive trials. Marpa put Milarepa through major abusive trials, and Mila was a teenager when he started. But in the end all the abuse and trials were what was needed for the student to attain Buddhahood. So on a theoretical level righteous indignation at the very idea of it isn't appropriate. Thus there are conversations here where not everyone is up in arms about it.

However in today's world having that theoretical view accepted has become license for unenlightened bad behavior to have the pretext of Dharmic activity. Why should Vajrayana orthodoxy maintain the idea that a teacher can do no wrong int he light of the trouble it is causing? I believe (my opinion) it is because at some point the student must learn to put aside their critical, negative, fault finding mind. At the end of the path one sees the entire world as Dharmakaya, or "The Great Perfection". At that point there can be no criticism or fault finding at all. Can you imagine what it would take to not see anything in life as negative? Looking at all of human history with its pain, suffering, horror upon horror, and still not be critical? Well you gotta start somewhere, and seeing past the lama's faults is the place to start. But, as I recently posted above, I believe the American legal system will soon put an end to the traditional acceptance of the appearance of abuse with the interpretation that it is of benefit.

Until then it is best to play it safe and stay away from the lamas that are controversial. Better to have one that you can see them in a positive light without having to play mind games with yourself.
...I have heard teachers define "realized" as "having a clear visualization of the deity". In the latter sense I think somebody who is realized can still have serious faults.
Yep. Having achieved a spontaneously virtuous mind that is free to act for the benefit of others in an unconventional way is a bit more than just having a clear visualization.
Last edited by smcj on Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

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Re: Very sad news

Post by TRC » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:39 am

smcj wrote:However in today's world having that theoretical view accepted has become license for unenlightened bad behavior to have the pretext of Dharmic activity. Why should Vajrayana orthodoxy maintain the idea that a teacher can do no wrong int he light of the trouble it is causing? I believe (my opinion) it is because at some point the student must learn to put aside their critical, negative, fault finding mind. At the end of the path one sees the entire world as Dharmakaya, or "The Great Perfection". At that point there can be no criticism or fault finding at all. Can you imagine what it would take to not see anything in life as negative? Looking at all of human history with its pain, suffering, horror upon horror, and still not be critical? Well you gotta start somewhere, and seeing past the lama's faults is the place to start. But, as I recently posted above, I believe the American legal system will soon put an end to the traditional acceptance of the appearance of abuse with the interpretation that it is of benefit.
Yes, with great equanimity and encompassing wisdom we can realise that all is void other than what we project onto the world, and that, in the ultimate sense holds true, but in the meantime when there is actual abuse applied without skill and benefit that is physical and emotional (as in the case with Sogyal), on the relative level we still need to act through compassion and to benefit and protect others. Prevention is the best route here. Warning others.

So let's not confuse Sogyal's actions with someone who is skillful and awakened, particularly when he is acting through narcissism and his own gratification. And let's hope you are right about the American legal system.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by smcj » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:01 am

TRC wrote:Yes, with great equanimity and encompassing wisdom we can realise that all is void other than what we project onto the world, and that, in the ultimate sense holds true, but in the meantime when there is actual abuse applied without skill and benefit that is physical and emotional (as in the case with Sogyal), on the relative level we still need to act through compassion and to benefit and protect others. Prevention is the best route here. Warning others.

So let's not confuse Sogyal's actions with someone who is skillful and awakened, particularity when he is acting through narcissism and his own gratification. And let's hope you are right about the American legal system.
I wasn't actually speaking of seeing the guru as without fault as from a transcendent view. I did allude that seeing him as such would lead to the transcendent view, but it is more of a Vajrayana skillful means issue. (Again, that's only my half-educated guess.)

The example of skillful means that was given to me was of the process of civilizing a barbarian. You would of course start out by telling him to stop doing crude negative things like stabbing people. You might make it a formal definition such as "never cut someone with a knife". Now say you get him enrolled in school, and he does well. He graduates from college, from medical school and becomes a surgeon. Isn't that also "cutting someone with a knife"? Well yes, it is. And someone that is still a barbarian might see it as such. But because of the education, skill, and motivation what a surgeon is doing is completely different than a thug stabbing a victim--even though he is employing a knife to cut someone. He is doing nothing other than benefitting them.

But to continue with the analogy, the original precept still holds. If this M.D./surgeon goes out and gets drunk and stabs someone in a bar fight he is just as guilty of breaking the original precept as when he was still a thug. Just because he's now a doctor doesn't give him the right to go around stabbing people. And, to take the idea all the way to the ultimate level, a true "Buddha" can not effect actual harm. The scenario equivalent to the surgeon getting drunk and stabbing someone is no longer possible.

How can we tell the difference? With a truly realized being we can't. That's the problem. But as I said, those people are so rare today that it isn't really an issue. But whether or not such people are alive today they have been in the past, and they became that way by applying themselves to the Path that we are being shown today. And a major part of that traditional orthodox Path is seeing everything the guru does as pure.
******
This is all theoretical. Please do not think that I am defending Sogyal R. I do have an opinion on him but I'd rather keep it private.
Last edited by smcj on Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)

TRC
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Re: Very sad news

Post by TRC » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:11 am

smcj wrote:This is all theoretical. Please do not thing that I am defending Sogyal R. I do have an opinion but I'd rather keep it private.
Fair enough smcj, I understand.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by Malcolm » Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:18 am

kirtu wrote:
dzoki wrote:
dzogchungpa wrote:
I am not trying to defend the notion that SR has realization but it is interesting to note the following passage from http://all-otr.org/public-talks/1-follo ... gchen-path:
Statements like these mean nothing. Only buddha can see realization of others.
Only a Buddha can accurately or possibly directly know the realization of others. But Shantideva clearly says "where there is smoke, there is fire (in a positive way). Although we are personally afflicted we can examine the good qualities of others and infer some level of realization (or not). Secondly there are other guidelines and these were apparently used in the mid 1800's by Jamgon Kongtrul and Janmyang Khyentse Wangpo to evaluate each other's levels of realization (probably initiated on the part of JKW).

Kirt
Sometimes smoke is not smoke, but mist.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by Anonymous X » Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:36 am

Malcolm wrote:
kirtu wrote:
dzoki wrote:
Statements like these mean nothing. Only buddha can see realization of others.
Only a Buddha can accurately or possibly directly know the realization of others. But Shantideva clearly says "where there is smoke, there is fire (in a positive way). Although we are personally afflicted we can examine the good qualities of others and infer some level of realization (or not). Secondly there are other guidelines and these were apparently used in the mid 1800's by Jamgon Kongtrul and Janmyang Khyentse Wangpo to evaluate each other's levels of realization (probably initiated on the part of JKW).

Kirt
Sometimes smoke is not smoke, but mist.
And there is still someone trying to make heads or tails out of all of it.

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Re: Very sad news

Post by _R_ » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:30 am

emaho wrote:
Possible, yes, but the problem with this is: how can you check a guru, if nobody says the truth about him? Isn't it funny that most of the times the people who are accusing the students of not having checked the guru are the same people who forbid them to say the truth?

I would say, test him. Give slight insults or whatever, and see how he responds to that. For example, if the Guru is verbally blunt and says he does it because he is straightforward, try the same behaviour on him and see how he reacts to that. If he is okay with it, he really is brutally honest, otherwise - egomaniac.

"Guru drinks bourbon?" book has a lot of useful tricks to use.

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