Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:40 am

Letter to Sogyal Rinpoche
by Abused Students
July 14, 2017



Sogyal Lakar,

The Rigpa Sangha is in crisis. Long-simmering issues with your behavior can no longer be ignored or denied. As long-time committed and devoted students we feel compelled to share our deep concern regarding your violent and abusive behavior. Your actions have hurt us individually, harmed our fellow sisters and brothers within Rigpa the organization, and by extension Buddhism in the West. We write to you following the advice of the Dalai Lama, in which he has said that students of Tibetan Buddhist lamas are obliged to communicate their concerns about their teacher:

If one presents the teachings clearly, others benefit. But if someone is supposed to propagate the Dharma and their behavior is harmful, it is our responsibility to criticize this with a good motivation. This is constructive criticism, and you do not need to feel uncomfortable doing it. In “The Twenty Verses on the Bodhisattvas’ Vows,” it says that there is no fault in whatever action you engage in with pure motivation. Buddhist teachers who abuse sex, power, money, alcohol, or drugs, and who, when faced with legitimate complaints from their own students, do not correct their behavior, should be criticized openly and by name. This may embarrass them and cause them to regret and stop their abusive behavior. Exposing the negative allows space for the positive side to increase. When publicizing such misconduct, it should be made clear that such teachers have disregarded the Buddha’s advice. However, when making public the ethical misconduct of a Buddhist teacher, it is only fair to mention their good qualities as well.

-- The Dalai Lama, Dharamsala, India March 1993

This letter is our request to you to stop your unethical and immoral behavior. Your public face is one of wisdom, kindness, humor, warmth and compassion, but your private behavior, the way you conduct yourself behind the scenes, is deeply disturbing and unsettling. A number of us have raised with you privately, our concerns about your behavior in recent years, but you have not changed.

Those of us who write to you today have firsthand experience of your abusive behaviors, as well as the massive efforts not to allow others to know about them. Our concerns are deepened with the organizational culture you have created around you that maintains absolute secrecy of your actions, which is in sharp contrast with your stated directive of openness and transparency within the Sangha. Our wish is to break this veil of secrecy, deception, and deceit. We can no longer remain silent.

Our deep and heartfelt hope is that this collective note might yield a more tangible result than any of our individual discussions with you have. We hope that long lasting and sincere changes may come about rather than short-lived pledges.

Our primary concerns are:

1. Your physical, emotional and psychological abuse of students.

2. Your sexual abuse of students.

3. Your lavish, gluttonous, and sybaritic lifestyle.

4. Your actions have tainted our appreciation for the practice of the Dharma.

1. Physical, emotional and psychological abuse

We have received directly from you, and witnessed others receiving, many different forms of physical abuse. You have punched and kicked us, pulled hair, torn ears, as well as hit us and others with various objects such as your back-scratcher, wooden hangers, phones, cups, and any other objects that happened to be close at hand. We trusted for many years that this physical and emotional treatment of students – what you assert to be your “skillful means” of “wrathful compassion” in the tradition of “crazy wisdom”– was done with our best interest at heart in order to free us from our “habitual patterns”. We no longer believe this to be so. We feel that we and others have been harmed because your actions were not compassionate; rather they demonstrated your lack of discipline and your own frustration. Your physical abuse – which constitutes a crime under the laws of the lands where you have done these acts – have left monks, nuns, and lay students of yours with bloody injuries and permanent scars. This is not second hand information; we have experienced and witnessed your behavior for years.

Why did you inflict violence upon us and our fellow Dharma brothers and sisters? Why did you punch, slap, kick, and pull our hair? Your food was not hot enough; you were awakened from your nap a half hour late; the phone list was missing a name or the font was the wrong size; the internet connection was slow; the television movie guide was confusing; technology failed to work; your assistant wasn’t attentive enough; [1] we failed to “tune into your mind” and predict what you wanted; or you were moody because you were upset with one of your girlfriends. There are hundreds of examples of trivial incidents that have set you off and your response has been to strike us violently.

Your emotional and psychological abuse has been perhaps more damaging than the physical scars you have left on us. When we have worked for you while organizing and setting up the infrastructure for you to teach at different places around the world (Europe, North America, Australia, and India and Nepal), your shaming and threatening have led some of your closest students and attendants to emotional breakdowns. You have always told us to be appreciative of the personal attention that you give, that you were “pointing out our hidden faults” in our character, and freeing us from “our self-cherishing ego.” We no longer believe this to be so. It was done in such a way that was harmful to us rather than helpful, a method of control, a blatant means of subjugation and undue influence that removed our liberty. You have threatened us and others saying, if we do not follow you absolutely, we will die “spitting up blood like Ian Maxwell.” [2] You have told us that our loved ones are at risk of ill-health, or have died, because we displeased you in some way.” [3] At public teachings, you have regularly criticized, manipulated and shamed us and those working to run your retreats. You have told us for years that this is part of your unique style of “training” students and that this shaming is part of the guru-disciple relationship. We no longer believe this to be so.

As more students verged close to emotional breakdowns because of your “trainings”, you introduced “Rigpa Therapy” for your closest students. Trained, practising therapists (who are also your students) were given the task of dealing with the pain that was being stirred up in the minds of those who you were abusing physically, emotionally and psychologically. During oneto- one sessions, the therapist heard from the student of your “crazy wisdom” methods and the trauma that it caused the individual. One such “Rigpa Therapy” method for processing the trauma was to negate the validity of seeing you, the teacher and instigator, as the source of the trauma. Instead, we were instructed to see old family relationship histories as the issue. In effect, our very tangible and clear discernment of seeing you as an abuser was blocked and instead we were blamed and made to feel inadequate. On the occasions when the “therapy” did not result in a student changing their view of you, you shamed the therapist into feeling that they weren’t doing their job properly and were not skilled.

2. Sexual Abuse

You use your role as a teacher to gain access to young women, and to coerce, intimidate and manipulate them into giving you sexual favors. [4] The ongoing controversies of your sexual abuse that we can read and watch on the Internet are only a small window into your decades of this behavior. Some of us have been subjected to sexual harassment in the form of being told to strip, to show you our genitals (both men and women), to give you oral sex, being groped, asked to give you photos of our genitals, to have sex in your bed with our partners, and to describe to you our sexual relations with our partners. You’ve ordered your students to photograph your attendants and girlfriends naked, and then forced other students to make photographic collages for you, which you have shown to others. You have offered one of your female attendants to another lama (who is well known in Rigpa) for sex. You have had for decades, and continue to have, sexual relationships with a number of your student attendants, some who are married. You have told us to lie on your behalf, to hide your sexual relationships from your other girlfriends. Publically you claim that your relationships are ordinary, consensual, and proper because you are not a monk. You deny any wrongdoing and have even claimed on occasion that you were seduced. [5] You and others in your organization claim this is how a Buddhist master of “crazy wisdom” behaves, just like the tantric adepts of the past. We do not believe this to be so and see such claims as attempts to explain away egregious behaviors.

3. Gluttonous lifestyle

Your lavish lifestyle is kept hidden from your thousands of students. It is one thing for you to accept an offering of the best of everything (that we may have) as an acknowledgement of our gratitude for spiritual teachings. It is quite another to demand it from us. Much of the money that is used to fund your luxurious appetites comes from the donations of your students who believe their offering is being used to further wisdom and compassion in the world.

As attendants, drivers, and organizers for you, most of our time and energy is taken up providing a steady supply of sensual pleasures. You demand all kinds of food be prepared for you—at all hours of the night and day—by your personal chefs and attendants (who Rigpa pays for) who travel the world with you. You demand all forms of entertainment; this includes having detailed TV guide schedules for the shows that you often watch for hours on end each day; elaborate movie lists so you know what’s playing in theaters near you at all times; continual supply of take-out restaurant food; drivers and masseuses on call 24-hours a day to serve you and deliver you and your companions to theaters, expensive restaurants, venues to shop and secretive places where you can smoke your expensive cigars.

With impatience, you have made demands for this entertainment and decadent sensory indulgences. When these are not made available at the snap of a finger, or exactly as you wished, we were insulted, humiliated, made to feel worthless, stupid and incompetent, and often hit or slapped. Your behavior did not cultivate our mindfulness or awareness, but rather it made us terrified of making a mistake. You tell your students that you spend most of your time engaging in Buddhist study and practice, but those of us who have attended you in private for years know this is not the reality.

We feel it is unethical that ours and others’ financial contributions to you—believed to be furthering the Dharma—are used to support this lavish lifestyle. Please stop living a duplicitous life. If you have no shame about your behavior then let it see the light of day. Allow the rest of your students to see who you really are, and let them make their own informed decision about whether you are the teacher for them.

4. Tainted our appreciation for the practice of the Dharma.

Please understand the harm that you have inflicted on us has also tainted our appreciation for and practice of the Dharma. In our decades of study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism with you, we trained our minds to view you as the “all embodied jewel” and the “source of all the teachings and blessings” of the Buddha-Dharma. We trusted you completely. Yet, we struggled for years because your actions did not square with the teachings. Today, for many of us who have left you, the Lerab Ling community, and Rigpa the organization, our ground of confidence in the Buddha- Dharma has been compromised. Some of us, who chose to depart abruptly Lerab Ling, left all of our possessions, because we were desperate to break away from your abuse and the community that supported it. Whether we departed abruptly or have faded away from you and Rigpa, we struggle to rekindle an appreciation for the transformative teachings and teachers we encountered. Often when we sit down to meditate and practice, we feel polluted with trauma from our experience with you; some of us relate to the Vajrayana with deep suspicion; and some of us are at work rebuilding from scratch the foundations of our study and practice recognising that your manipulation was intermingled with all that we were taught. Others of us seek conventional therapy as a means for processing. So quite contrary to your aspiration to bring the true Dharma to beings, the effect of your methods is that our relationship to the Dharma has been tainted. We now see clearly the many ways that you betrayed our trust, manipulated and abused us and our Dharma brothers and sisters.

We are not showing a lack of trust and respect, being a “trouble-maker” with “negative talk” as you often assert when anyone has dared to object to your methods. In fact, we have trusted you too long, given you the benefit of the doubt over and over again. When we’ve attempted to raise these concerns you’ve shamed us, and threatened to withhold the teachings from all the students because we had “doubts.” You have encouraged us to defame others, in particular in France, who have spoken out against you in recent years. We have seen how you hold the teachings “hostage” and demand that students show their devotion through continuous “offerings” in the form of money and free labor. You tell us this is how to become an authentic Dharma practitioner. We do not believe this to be the path of the Dharma.

With regards to your abusive behavior, your sexual misconduct, and your lavish lifestyle, we see no clear or identifiable ethical standards or guidelines to which you are held. There is a vacuum of accountability. We hope that sending you this letter, sharing it with your peers, and the Rigpa Dzogchen mandala students, will serve to fill that vacuum.

What you have taught in the last thirty years, and in particular The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, has brought immense benefit to so many people including those who write to you today. If we are wrong in what we write, please correct our mistaken view. If your striking and punching us and others, and having sex with your students and married women, and funding your sybaritic lifestyle with students’ donations, is actually the ethical and compassionate behavior of a Buddhist teacher, please explain to us how it is. If, however, we are correct in our assessment, please stop your behaviors that we believe to be harmful to others.

What used to be called simply, "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" is now a trumpet being blown by a Narcissist: "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: A New Spiritual Classic from One of the Foremost Interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism to the West," by Patrick Gaffney (Editor), Andrew Harvey (Editor), Sogyal Rinpoche (Author)

Oh puleeeez, what hogwash! It should be called, "The Tibetan Art of Lies and Lying."

As far as I know from "Jane Doe" and others who contacted me in 1993, and 1994, Andrew Harvey wrote most of the book and Sogyal put his name on it. Andrew is an ex-cult devotee of Sogyal's who opted OUT.

-- Letter to Tiger Lily by AmLearning [Victoria Barlow], January 13, 2004

In closing we want to acknowledge that most of the public critique of you that is found on the Internet is factual. Some of us, who have held positions of responsibility within Rigpa, struggle with our own part in having covered for you and “explained” away your behavior, while not caring for those with traumatic experiences. Our past motivation to see all the actions of our tantric teacher as pure obscured us from seeing the very real harm that you are inflicting. We are each taking a long and serious look at our own behaviors, trying to learn from them, and supporting each other on our journey. We can no longer stay silent while you harm others in the name of Buddhism. Our deepest wish is to see Buddhism flourish in the West. We no longer want to indulge in the stupidity of seeing the Guru as perfect at any cost. The path does not require us to sacrifice our wisdom to discern, our ethics and morality, or our integrity, on the altar of “Guru Yoga.”

Our heartfelt wish is that you seek guidance from the Dalai Lama, other reputable lamas of good heart, or anyone who can help to bring you back onto the true path of the Dharma.

With deep respect for the Dharma,

● Mark Standlee, 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

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

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

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

● Joanne Standlee, 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

● Graham Price, student for 20 years, Sogyal Lakar’s personal attendant and driver,

● Michael Condon, student for 21 years, Rigpa Instructor, Sogyal Lakar’s personal attendant and driver in the US

● Gary Goldman, student for 23 years



1. Sogyal Lakar gut-punched a nun in front of an assembly of more than 1,000 students at Lerab Ling in France, August 2016.

2. In December 2005, in a live streamed teachings from the unfinished temple, Sogyal Lakar said that Ian Maxwell, one of his oldest students, was “an asshole”, as Ian lay dying in the hospital in Paris. After Ian’s death Sogyal Lakar said that Ian, “died spitting up blood” because he had defied him in the past. Sogyal Lakar regularly used this incident, saying, “Do you want to end up dying spitting up blood like Ian for defying me?” as an example to other students when he threatened them with dire consequences if they did not obey his commands.

3. Sogyal Lakar told Graham Price that his beloved partner, Elena, got sick (and died a year later) because Graham had shouted at him. In reality Graham didn’t even raise his voice.

https://behindthethangkas.wordpress.com ... ni-janine/ is just one example
https://behindthethangkas.wordpress.com ... r-retreat/

“Gerard demanded an interview with Sogyal, who was initially wary, but then admitted he had had sex with Janine. He tried to shift the blame onto her – claiming that she had seduced him and that he was at first resistant, but later gave in to her demands.”

Lerab Ling residential monastics Ani Damcho Drolma and Ngawang Sangye struggled for many years to fulfill Sogyal Lakar’s ever increasing demands while receiving physical and emotional abuse. They asked for help from the community but were victim-blamed, and viewed as being unappreciative of the blessing of working close to the lama. There was extreme pressure to stay and conform. They both felt as though they had to “escape” the predicament as there was no arena in which to negotiate their position, or find resolution in how to tolerate their working relationship with Sogyal Lakar.

As a gesture for support and with an understanding for the many emotions and issues that could arise for individuals as a result of reading this letter we are sharing some resources and helpful links - https://sanghacare8.wixsite.com/sanghacareresources

As well as a blog where concerned students can connect with each other https://whatnow727.wordpress.com/ [not the writers of this article, but former and present students of Soygal Rinpoche; no real dissent allowed]
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:43 am

Dakini Janine
by behindthethagkas.wordpress.com
November 20, 2011



The person who was probably most affected by Gerard’s obsession with Rigpa is his daughter Janine. Aged 22 in 2000 and outstandingly beautiful, she was already feeling parentally deprived because of Gerard’s professional absences. Determined to take every opportunity to be close to him, 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.

In 2009 Janine spoke at length about her experiences with Sogyal in a series of recorded interviews. The way she was treated is identical in most respects to what happened to Dierdre Smith.

“We were at a retreat in Germany. He sent for me during his rest period and asked me to massage his hands and feet,” she says.” Afterwards he gave me his schedule and his phone numbers – and almost immediately I was invited to join him for a holiday in Australia. This seemed like a nice thing to do so I said yes.

“I was met in Sydney by a wealthy family who were obviously under orders to look after me – and I was treated like a princess. They have a fabulous house where I was given a room and they arranged everything I wanted – yoga classes, shopping etc”.

Did Janine query this – and wonder why it was happening?

“Not really”, she says, “ I assumed Sogyal was being paternal in an Asian way. But I still hadn’t seen him. Then suddenly, in the middle of the night, he decided it was time to go to the beach.”

A convoy of cars set off. Janine found herself crammed into one of them with five other people, including Sogyal:

“I didn’t get a good impression” she says, “he virtually ignored me, which was not at all the Asian papa way – I think this was the moment when he started to manipulate my feelings.”

The time at the beach coincided with Valentine’s day. Janine was ordered to wear a best dress and turn up at Sogyal’s house for dinner. At this moment she realised the whole set up was somewhat bizarre:

“There was Sogyal surrounded by five or six young pretty girls and there were no other men,” she says. “it was quite fun actually, we had nice drinks and we danced for him. Then at a certain point he asked me to go upstairs with him and massage his head.

I made some sort of smart reply and he became angry. He said I was too proud and he would have to break my pride.

A few months later Janine got a phone call asking her if she would like to take part in a special training.

“I accepted because it seemed to clarify my relationship with him. It turned out that the people involved were all women. We were put to work in the “lama kitchen.” We called it hell, because it was an underground bunker – a horrible place. A Swiss woman (Renata) was in charge of us and the first three weeks were pure slavery – we worked non-stop doing the cleaning.

“We never saw Sogyal, but they gave us documents listing all the instructions he has given about caring for him around the world. There was nothing about Buddhism, but we were told the whole process was a teaching.

“They made us work so hard we didn’t have time for proper meals. We had to grab food and eat standing up. We were constantly being told to run here or fetch this in a haphazard way – because basically Sogyal is not very organised.

He says he wants something and you have 50 people panicking to get it in five minutes.”

As Janine’s induction into the inner circle unfolded, she was assigned work inside Sogyal’s compound at Lerab Ling – two chalets and a garden surrounded by a high fence. The next stage involved being Sogyal’s personal servant – bringing his food and looking after him in minute detail – in the same manner described by Dierdre Smith.

“He made me the only person to interact with the other people. By this time I was sleeping on the floor in his room…every time he had a thought, I would write it down and communicate it. I had control of the phones and the walkie talkies.”

Sogyal is pampered like a medieval monarch – with a clique of women trained to respond to his slightest whim – day and night, 24/7. He is never alone and never lifts a finger to do anything for himself. After grooming her at record speed (other girls complained she had been fast tracked out of ‘hell’s kitchen’), Sogyal pounced on Janine for the first time at a high stress moment:

“We had arranged to go to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate one of the other girls’ (Minou) birthday. Whenever Sogyal does something like this it is a major operation, involving anything up to 20 people. We have to send an advance party to the restaurant to make sure everything is exactly how he wants it, we have to polish up the big cars, pack his bags, wash him, dress him, collect his pillows, tissues and so on.

I was at the centre of the storm, co-ordinating the various strands and at that time I had had only about three hours sleep a night for the past month.”

When everything was ready and the people were waiting to leave, Sogyal and Janine were alone in his chalet:

“He ordered me to take my clothes off. I thought it was another test, so I did as I was told. He told me to get onto the bed and we had sex. As this was happening he said ‘look into my eyes, this is the moment you connect with your master.’ There were no preliminaries, he did not use a condom, my pleasure was not in the picture and it was all over in about three minutes. Afterwards he made me swear to keep it a secret, even from the other girls, and said if I did not keep the samaya it would be very bad for my karma and for the karma of my family.

“It happened again of course, especially at times of stress – before a teaching for example he has to have his fix. Sometimes it was every day, sometimes less often depending on how many girls he was into, or what was happening.

He is very selfish — he never asks what you would like, it’s always him giving orders. Sometimes there is some petting afterwards and he reminds you how lucky you are. Its not comfortable being in the same bed with Sogyal because he’s an anxious character and he doesn’t sleep well. He keeps waking up and wanting things, medicines or food and so on.

“I blanked out my feelings for a while, but then I became very troubled, which was extremely difficult because I’d been sworn to secrecy and couldn’t talk about it with anyone. Things started to go wrong with my body. My periods stopped. I was in shock. I had to sneak out of Lerab Ling to do the test because I was scared I was pregnant.

“A young lama married to an American woman came to teach at Lerab Ling. He was by himself in the courtyard and I really needed to talk to someone because I knew something was really wrong. So I decided to talk to this lama, hoping he would explain it for me. I asked him ‘what’s a consort?’ He looked at me and he knew exactly what I was talking about. I burst into tears and that bastard said ‘if you are the consort of a master you are very lucky’ and that was it. That’s all he said.”

Dakinis who were in the harem (Alison, Anna, Minou, Nee, Lillie, Jackie, Renata, Lorraine) 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. The other women pressurised her, insisting that they had to do whatever ‘Rinpoche’ wanted:

“They were terrified of being beaten” says Janine. “During the time I was with him continuously, one of us would be beaten every day – because you forgot something or did something wrong. For one girl it was because the way she walked was too proud. I got a little less than the others – some would get a serious, really bad beating.

He got irritated with me because when I did something wrong I would hand him something to hit me with and that would spoil the fun.”
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:09 am

The three year retreat
November 20, 2011



While the Sogyal-Janine saga played out, Gerard was participating in Rigpa’s first three years, three months and three days retreat.

This is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist training programme, designed to bring about deep contemplative realisation and yogic insight. The retreat, involving intensive practice and seclusion from the outside world, began on August 9, 2006 and ended on 21 November 2009.

However, true to form, Sogyal adapted the retreat to dovetail with his version of Tibetan Buddhism as a marketable commodity.
One of Rigpa’s web sites described it thus:

“…the purpose of such a break is to re-emerge into the world refreshed and re-inspired, having further developed the mind’s innate qualities of peacefulness and clarity, and deepened the heart’s innate capacity for empathy and compassion.”

It does not mention any of the profound aspects of Buddhist meditation– ‘primordial emptiness’ for example, or ‘integration beyond duality’. In comparison with the way other lamas present Tibetan Buddhism, Sogyal’s programme could be equated with studying for primary school exams.

Gerard Dubois – retired from flight duty and free from family obligations – sorted his external affairs and settled into Lerab Ling with every intention of staying the retreat distance, in the expectation that it would move his spiritual practice into a fresh dimension. Instead he found himself in a situation where the emphasis on group rather than solitary practice was wholly unproductive:
 “I had no experiences” he says, “at the start I went along with what was happening, but eventually I gave up and instead of doing Tibetan meditation, I concealed a Zen text in my prayer books and read that when I was supposed to be meditating.”

The coup de grace on Gerard’s involvement with Rigpa came when he read a letter from Janine – three weeks after it had arrived. In it she confessed to her father that she had been in a sexual relationship with Sogyal.

“I was very angry” he says.

Gerard demanded an interview with Sogyal, who was initially wary, but then admitted he had had sex with Janine. He tried to shift the blame onto her – claiming that she had seduced him and that he was at first resistant, but later gave in to her demands.

Gerard was inclined to believe his daughter’s version of what happened and this, coupled with his disillusionment with Tibetan spiritual practice, made him decide to leave the retreat – but not before he had shared his feelings with other retreatants:

“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.
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:28 am

Sogyal Rinpoche Has Resigned from Rigpa: The resignation follows accusations of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse from longtime students.
by Wendy Joan Biddlecombe
August 14, 2017



Sogyal Rinpoche Has Resigned from Rigpa
Sogyal Rinpoche in 2013 | Photo by Olivier Riché

The Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche has resigned from Rigpa, the international network of practice centers he founded.

The resignation letter, sent to Tricycle by an undisclosed source, is addressed to the sangha and dated August 11, a month after several of the lama’s longtime students publicly accused their teacher of decades of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. After the allegations came to light, Sogyal Rinpoche entered a “period of retreat and reflection.” He nonetheless made an appearance at the World Youth Buddhist Society in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.

Today, in a separate letter addressed to the sangha, Rigpa’s board stated, “Rinpoche has made it clear that this decision has only been made after deep personal reflection, seeking the advice of many of his masters, and with the best intention for the future of our community.”

UPDATE: Rigpa has confirmed that Sogyal Rinpoche has stepped down, effective immediately, in this press release. Rigpa organizers wrote that the abuse accusations will be investigated by a third party. A new code of conduct and spiritual advisory group will be established for the sangha.
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:31 am

New Allegations of Sexual Abuse Raise Old Questions: Students of Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche have accused him of improper conduct.
by The Editors
July 25, 2017



In a July 14 detailed letter to Tibetan teacher Sogyal Rinpoche, eight of the famed lama’s longtime students accused their teacher of a decades-long pattern of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. According to a July 21 press release issued by his community in response to the charges, Sogyal Rinpoche, the 70-year-old author of the bestselling Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and founder of Rigpa, an international network of practice centers, has made a decision “to step back and to enter a period of retreat and reflection.”

What used to be called simply, "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" is now a trumpet being blown by a Narcissist: "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: A New Spiritual Classic from One of the Foremost Interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism to the West," by Patrick Gaffney (Editor), Andrew Harvey (Editor), Sogyal Rinpoche (Author)

Oh puleeeez, what hogwash! It should be called, "The Tibetan Art of Lies and Lying."

As far as I know from "Jane Doe" and others who contacted me in 1993, and 1994, Andrew Harvey wrote most of the book and Sogyal put his name on it. Andrew is an ex-cult devotee of Sogyal's who opted OUT.

-- Letter to Tiger Lily by AmLearning [Victoria Barlow], January 13, 2004

“We respect Sogyal Rinpoche’s decision to enter a period of retreat and reflection,” Ringpa said in a statement. “During this time Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa will seek professional and spiritual advice and look into whatever steps might be necessary. We have already initiated open discussion within our community about the letter and the issues it raises.”

The accusations are not new. They have been known for years not only to many of Sogyal Rinpoche’s students but also to ranking lamas in the Tibetan community. (One Tibetan lama has suggested that the students have violated their samaya vows.) Similar reports about Sogyal Rinpoche have appeared in the press, particularly with regard to the Lerab Ling practice center in France.

How does abuse in a community continue unchecked for so long? And what makes it possible in the first place?

In the fall of 2013 we made an attempt to address these questions in “Sex in the Sangha . . . Again.” In the introduction to the roundtable discussion on patterns of sexual abuse in Buddhist communities, features editor Andrew Cooper wrote:

Scandalous activities seem to thrive when individual communities isolate themselves—socially, ideologically, or in other ways—from the bonds of broader communities, both religious and secular. In such an atmosphere, assumptions tend to go unchallenged not because they are seen as valid but because they are not seen at all. They are just taken for granted. Scandals feed off isolation in another way too: when individuals within a community who try to raise questions about how things are done and what gets done are isolated—marginalized, discredited, even banned—the concerns they raise are readily dismissed. Sooner or later, this way of doing things proves detrimental to all concerned.

The roundtable included Lama Palden, founder of the Sukhasiddhi Foundation, who shed light on why, in her own tradition, abuse is so difficult to combat: “In the Tibetan Buddhist world,” she said back then, “even when the head of a lineage does hear about a problem and comes to talk to their lamas about it, they’re ignored. Because each center is like its own little kingdom.”

Jack Kornfield, cofounder of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, pointed out that “[t]here have been a number of instances in the last 25 years where senior teachers in the Buddhist world, even the Dalai Lama, have spoken out against certain teachers, and it hasn’t made a lot of difference, because there haven’t been any consequences. Since the community where it is happening is usually isolated, that teacher is still seen as the great authority.”

As in the case of Rigpa, it usually takes a number of brave students who are willing, at the risk of alienating themselves from communities they have worked and lived in often for decades, to come forward publicly.

We’re making “Sex in the Sangha . . . Again” available with the hope that it will add some context to events that otherwise are so disheartening, particularly to those in communities most affected. The discussion is by no means complete, and issues as complex as this are dealt with fully only in open dialogue over time.

—The Editors
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:02 am

"Lamas, in their role as ecclesiastic or political administrators, were disliked. Their position seemed dictatorial, almost totalitarian, in its fusion of blatant power with absolute ideological and spiritual control. The situation was described as 'despotic', as 'spiritual terrorism' and 'unlimited tyranny'. Landon was severe in his criticism.

'No priestly caste in the history of religion has ever fostered and preyed upon the terror and ignorance of its flock with the systematic brigandage of the lamas. It may be that, hidden away in some quiet lamasery ... Kim's lama may still be found. Once or twice in the quiet unworldly abbots ... one saw an attractive and almost impressive type of man; but the heads of the hierarchy are very different men, and by them the country is ruled with a rod of iron.'

Tibet seemed a country of slavery, severe punishments, torture, political assassinations, mutual distrust. Grenard reported: 'The lower orders, in general, display towards the magistrates and the agents of authority a crawling servility which I have never seen equaled in either Turkestan or China.' Lamaism was believed to be both the agent for this terror and its cause. That scrupulous ethnographer Rockhill, for example, vividly described the action of some police-monks at a market gathering:

'Suddenly the crowds scattered to the right and left, the lamas running for places of hiding, with cries of Gekor lama, Gekor lama! and we saw striding towards us six or eight lamas with a black stripe painted across their foreheads and another around their right arms -- black lamas ... the people call them -- armed with heavy whips with which they belaboured anyone who came within reach. Behind them walked a stately lama in robes of finest cloth, with head clean-shaved. He had come to enforce ecclesiastical law by knocking down a Punch and Judy show and other prohibited amusements, the owners of which were whipped.'

With some understatement, Grenard mused: 'the Lhasa government is not a tender one'. Indeed, the focal point of this totalitarianism seemed to be Lhasa, and even the Potala itself. Whilst on the one hand Lhasa was the sacred city, the Rome of Asia, it was also seen as the dictatorial centre of a police state. William Carey, as usual, painted a vivid picture: 'The holy city is more than the home of metaphysical mysteries and the mummery of idol-worship; it is a secret chamber of crime; its rocks and its roads, its silken flags and its scented altars, are all stained with blood.'

-- The Myth of Shangri-La, by Peter Bishop
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:25 am

Why I Quit Guru Yoga: Does elevating the guru to the same status as the teachings themselves set the stage for teacher-student abuse?
by Stephen Batchelor
Winter, 2017



The mahasiddhas Tilopa and Naropa; Central Tibet, 16th century, pigment on cloth | Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art
“If I had a disciple worthy of the name,” said the 11th-century Indian tantric adept Tilopa to his student Naropa, “he would jump off the roof of this building.” Naropa immediately jumped and ended up in agony on the ground. Tilopa then explained to Naropa how his suffering was due to attachment to conceptual thought. This well-known story is cited as an example of how students of Vajrayana Buddhism should practice devotion to their guru. Now imagine a contemporary teacher—let’s call him “Rinpoche”—asking the same of his disciple Mary today. As a result Mary jumps off the roof of a dharma center in San Francisco and fractures her spine. Fortunately for Naropa, Tilopa was able to heal him through his magical powers. Mary is hospitalized and may not walk again.

How are we to understand such accounts of guru devotion? Am I to believe that the story of Tilopa and Naropa actually took place? Can I imagine Buddhist societies in India or Tibet that did not object to religious teachers behaving in this way? Or should it be read as an inspiring fable to strengthen one’s faith? Is it any different from the biblical account of Abraham being told by God to sacrifice his son Isaac? Like Naropa, Abraham obeys the command. Yet just as he is about to cut his son’s throat, Isaac too is spared by magic, in this case the intervention of an angel and the appearance of an unlucky ram. Did this event happen in a historical time and place? Or is it too just an allegory?

Both stories emphasize how the kind of faith needed to embark on the path to enlightenment or salvation must be as unwavering as that of Naropa and Abraham. Yet the point is not to imitate the outward behavior of Naropa or Abraham but to emulate their heartfelt inner commitment to the dharma or God. The stories graphically illustrate how remaining true to one’s deepest values is the most important consideration. This is what makes the difference between a person who practices mindfulness in order to realize her ultimate goals in life and someone else for whom it is a means to improve his golf handicap.

After eight years as a student of Tibetan Buddhism, I chose to leave that tradition and pursue my training elsewhere. One of the main reasons for this decision was that I could not accept the doctrine of guru devotion. From the outset, I was uncomfortable with the practice of taking refuge in the lama (the Tibetan equivalent of Sanskrit “guru”) in addition to the conventional triple gem of the Buddha, dharma, and sangha, for it raised one’s teacher to the same status as the three traditional jewels. Tsongkhapa, the 14th-century founder of the Gelug tradition, opened one of his best-known poems, The Ground of All Excellence, with this praise of the guru:

You, kind Lord, are the ground of all excellence, Right devotion to you is the root of the path.

His magnum opus, The Great Exposition of the Stages on the Path, likewise places guru devotion at the very beginning. The late Nyingma teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche affrmed that “devotion is the essence of the path, and if we have in mind nothing but the guru and feel nothing but fervent devotion, whatever occurs is perceived as his blessing.” As much as I loved my own teacher Geshe Rabten, no matter how hard I tried, I could not surrender my will to him in these terms.

My difficulties were exacerbated by having already received higher tantric initiations from Serkong Tsenshap Rinpoche before I began studying with Geshe Rabten. As a condition for receiving those initiations I had to accept Serkong Rinpoche as my Vajrayana guru, promise to recite the sadhanas (prayers) of certain deities every day for the rest of my life, and take vows of allegiance (samaya) to him, the first of which is “never to disrespect the Vajra master.” To break any of these vows, I was told, would result in my being reborn in Vajra hell.

I was encouraged to take these initiations at the age of 21, at the height of my youthful enthusiasm for everything Tibetan. I greatly admired Serkong Rinpoche but did not know him well. I was reassured that even if I were unable to practice such advanced teachings in this life, the initiations would plant seeds in my consciousness that would result in a fortunate rebirth in the next. In retrospect, at that point in my life I had insufficient experience in dharma practice, was spiritually idealistic and immature, and was quite unprepared psychologically to take such a step. The traditional requirement that the student first thoroughly investigate the qualities of the guru before receiving an initiation was ignored.

Because I knew about the centrality of guru yoga in the Tibetan tradition, my inability to practice it in a heartfelt way made me feel fraudulent, burdened by negative karma, and effectively barred from making much progress in this life. I recognized that my resistance to this practice stemmed from an upbringing in a secular, democratic culture that privileged independence of mind, reason, and personal responsibility. I also recalled the injunction of the Buddha, often cited by Tibetan lamas, to “examine my teachings as carefully as a goldsmith would assay gold, and not to accept them just out of faith in me,” which had inspired me to pursue my training in philosophy and dialectics with Geshe Rabten. I had likewise memorized the Tibetan text of the Four Reliances, a pithy four-line verse from the sutras about what to rely upon in one’s practice. The first line says: “Rely not on the person, rely on the teaching.” I was equally aware that in Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, which I was translating from Tibetan at the time, guru devotion played no significant role at all. What I was being taught seemed to be pulling me in two opposing directions.

Eventually, these tensions inside me reached a point where something snapped. I clearly recall the moment when I was rapidly chanting the various tantric sadhanas and mantras I was obliged to recite daily and it struck me with irrefutable force: this is ridiculous. At that moment I stopped. I never again spent an hour or more of my day intoning my “commitments.” I was relieved to have recovered my own authority for living my life. I realized that I had been intimidated by a culture of fear. I no longer needed to ask my teachers’ permission for what I could and couldn’t do with my mind. If this means that I will go to Vajra hell, then so be it.

The validity of a teaching has nothing to do with the qualities of the teacher. All that matters is whether, when put into practice, it can effect a real change in the way you live.

I then spent four years as a monk in Songgwang Sa, a Son (Zen) monastery in South Korea, under the guidance of my teacher Kusan Sunim. Compared to Tibetan Buddhism, Korean Son had an entirely different feel to it that I found difficult to put my finger on. On the surface there were many obvious differences: the form of meditation practice, the philosophy that underpinned it, the Chinese-Taoist flavor of much of the teaching, the organization of monastic life, and so on. Affectively, though, what made the crucial difference for me was the way in which students related to the teacher.

I found it curious that everyone at the monastery related to each other as though they were members of an extended family. This was quite explicit. My teacher was my “father,” his “brothers” were my “uncles,” and so on. Once I was accepted into the monastery I became part of this family and was warmly received and cared for. But I also found myself tied by a strong sense of familial allegiance to which my individual preferences and desires had to be subordinated. My first duty was neither to myself nor my teacher but to the family. I was once told in all seriousness: “If the assembly of monks decides to go to hell, then you must go to hell too.”

It was never once suggested that I had to devote myself to Kusan Sunim as if he were a buddha. At no point did I have to make an oath of allegiance to him in order to receive instruction. Everyone in Songgwang Sa nonetheless held him in high esteem. The monks acknowledged the depth of his insight, respected his authority as the “grandfather” of the monastery, and accepted his guidance as a Son master. I slowly came to realize that what made the affective difference for me was that Korean Son had evolved and was embedded in a Confucian rather than a feudal matrix of values.

Confucianism is an ethical and political philosophy based on the principle of maintaining harmony within five core social relationships: between ruler and subject, father and son, brothers, husband and wife, and friends. For harmony to prevail, each person must understand their place in the social order and behave accordingly. In this way, authority and responsibility are more widely distributed throughout society rather than being concentrated in a single figure or elite group. The Tibetan (and Japanese) traditions, by contrast, evolved and were embedded in a feudal society, where unquestioning loyalty and obedience to the feudal lord were of paramount importance in maintaining social order.

As Buddhism has moved from one culture to another in the course of its history, it has come to adopt the social frameworks of its new hosts. Neither a feudal nor a Confucian model is thus intrinsically more suited to the practice of the dharma. If we go back to the time of the Buddha in 5th-century BCE India, we can see how Gotama sought to found his community on the republican model of society that still prevailed in the Vajjian confederacy of clans rather than adopt the new form of imperial monarchy that was emerging throughout the Eastern Gangetic basin. The history of Buddhism in India, however, shows that over time it adopted increasingly monarchic and feudal models of organization, particularly as Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of the dharma became more widespread.

Before he died, Gotama told his followers: “After I am gone, do not think you will have no teacher; the dharma will be your teacher.” Unlike a king, he did not expect any one person to be his successor. Instead, he envisaged a community that would be governed by the impersonal law of the teachings he had delivered, just as a republic is ultimately governed by a rule of law rather than any individual ruler. In the Discourse to the Kalamas, he explicitly warns against believing something “because my guru said it.” The validity of a teaching has nothing to do with the qualities of the teacher. All that matters is whether, when put into practice, it can effect a real change in the way you live.

While the concept of the guru was present in the Upanishads that predated the advent of Buddhism, Gotama rejected it in favor of finding a good friend (kalyanamitta), whose role was to help you enter the eightfold path and thereby become independent of others in your practice of the dharma. Yet for Vajrayana Buddhists, these teachings belong to an “inferior vehicle” (hinayana) for people of middling capacity.

The student is still required to pass through these Hinayana stages of practice, but for the sole purpose of advancing to the superior Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings that can lead those of great capacity to complete enlightenment in a single lifetime. And for that, devotion to the guru is indispensable.

By the time Buddhism made its way to Tibet in the 8th century CE, it had fully incorporated the guru model of spiritual authority that prevailed in the Indian tradition. As Buddhism further evolved in Tibet, the doctrines and practices of the Vajrayana were merged with feudal structures of power, which together produced the distinctive teachings and institutions of Tibetan Buddhism that we know today. This resulted in the emergence of a Buddhocracy (initially called “Lamaism” by scholars), where, for the first time in Buddhist history, dharma and politics were fused and a monk became head of state. Coupled with the system of reincarnating tulkus, a spiritual aristocracy emerged whose autocratic rule extended into every valley, village, and town of the land.

The problem is systemic. It lies in the synergy of tantric doctrines and feudal structures that allow a teacher to legitimate abusive behavior to himself and his students.

In 1993, I was invited with 21 other Western Buddhist teachers to a conference in Dharamshala with the Dalai Lama. By this time I had disrobed, was married, and lived in an experimental Buddhist community in Britain. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to address issues of ethical misconduct among Buddhist teachers. The Dalai Lama was concerned about the number of letters he had received from Western students who claimed to have been mistreated by Tibetan lamas. In most cases, this had to do with alleged sexual abuse. One of the teachers mentioned in this regard was Sogyal Rinpoche, who in August 2017 was forced to resign as the head of the Rigpa community because of these and other allegations. Although Sogyal had been invited to attend, neither he nor any representatives of Rigpa came to the gathering. Only three other Tibetan lamas were present, none of whom was prominent in the West.

At the beginning of our three days together, the Dalai Lama made the point that it is meaningless to consider anyone a teacher unless they have students. He emphasized how it is thus the student who invests the teacher with authority. For the teacher then to use that authority to take advantage of the student for his own personal ends constitutes a profound betrayal of the trust invested in him. In the Vajrayana, where you are required to devote yourself completely to the guru, the degree of vulnerability (on the part of the student) and potential for abuse (on the part of the teacher) are ratcheted up considerably. Since you have vowed not to criticize the guru and have been instructed to regard whatever he says or does as the enlightened activity of a buddha, there is nothing, in principle, that he could not ask of you. Were he to tell you to jump off the roof of a building, you should jump.

In reality, however, this kind of thing rarely if ever happens. As long as student and teacher treat each other with mutual care, trust, and respect, which is generally the case, the guru-disciple relationship in Vajrayana works well enough. The problem is systemic. It lies in the synergy of tantric doctrines and feudal structures that allow a teacher to legitimate abusive behavior to himself and his students. The lamas can thus behave like princes or kings who expect unquestioning loyalty from their subjects. Old Tibet was a society that tolerated serfdom and cruel and unusual punishments; there was little if any freedom of religious or political expression; and the authority of the lay and clerical aristocracy was absolute and largely unaccountable. The Dalai Lama has condemned these features of pre-1959 Tibet. I can imagine that few Tibetans today would seek to restore them as they once were.

Inevitably, the raison d’être of any culture forced into exile from its homeland is the safeguarding of its threatened traditions, which in the case of Tibet includes its unique form of Buddhism. Since preservation has become the priority, loss of self-determination as a nation-state has constrained the freedom of Tibetans to adapt their religion to the changing conditions of modernity. The Dalai Lama speaks passionately about the need to reform elements of Tibetan religious culture, but in practice he has little power to enforce much change. And when he does try to impose his views—as in the case of condemning the Gelug protector deity Dorje Shugden—he risks unleashing a conservative backlash that arguably makes the situation worse.

At the conclusion of our meeting in Dharamshala, an open letter was drafted to address the issue of misconduct among teachers. “Each student must be encouraged,” it says, “to take responsible measures to confront teachers with unethical aspects of their conduct. If the teacher shows no sign of reform, students should not hesitate to publicize any unethical behavior of which there is irrefutable evidence. This should be done irrespective of other beneficial aspects of his or her work and of one’s spiritual commitment to that teacher. . . . No matter what level of spiritual attainment a teacher has, or claims to have reached, no person can stand above the norms of ethical conduct.”

The publication of this letter had little effect at the time. Neither the Dalai Lama nor any of the other Tibetans present at the meeting signed it. Now, nearly a quarter of a century later, it is being cited to support the eight students who in July 2017 published a detailed account of the “crazy wisdom” of their teacher Sogyal Rinpoche. In the interim, however, many senior Tibetan lamas, including the Dalai Lama himself, appeared in public with Sogyal Rinpoche and taught at his centers. For many Western students, the ongoing presence of these teachers was taken as an endorsement of Sogyal’s behavior and lifestyle and thus as a slap in the face for those who had complained of abuse. Among the responses to the students’ allegations, both Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche appeared to be more concerned about the students breaking their oath of allegiance (samaya) to their teacher than about the suffering of those who said they had been mistreated. Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche has denounced them as agents of demonic forces, accusing them of the heinous sin of causing schism in the sangha, which is morally equivalent to killing one’s parents, killing an arahant, or drawing the blood of a buddha.

If I were a Tibetan lama I would not appreciate being lectured to on these topics by an apostate like me. It is not my responsibility to reform Tibetan Buddhism; that belongs to the lamas and their students alone. In his own response to these allegations, the Dalai Lama has said: “I feel some of these lama institutions have some sort of influence of the feudal system. That is outdated and must end—that feudal influence.” It is encouraging that the Dalai Lama identifies feudalism as one of the roots of the problem, but he offers no suggestions as to how it might be ended. In practice, can the “outdated” influence of feudalism be removed without a fundamental restructuring of Tibetan Buddhism itself?

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s response to the crisis suggests one way forward. He explains that the only reason for seeing one’s teacher as a buddha is in order to recognize how the same awakened qualities permeate oneself, other human beings, and the very world in which we live. The guru, in this sense, ceases to be exclusively identified with one’s flesh and blood teacher. The teacher’s role becomes that of helping his or her students see every single life situation as their true teacher. Such a perspective, Mingyur argues, is the “life-blood” of the Vajrayana tradition and the “very highest ethical standard” to which practitioners can aspire.

The eight students who wrote to Sogyal concluded their statement with these words: “Our deepest wish is to see Buddhism flourish in the West. We no longer want to indulge in the stupidity of seeing the Guru as perfect at any cost. The path does not require us to sacrifice our wisdom to discern, our ethics and morality, or our integrity, on the altar of ‘Guru Yoga.’” In the light of these concerns, it may be helpful to reconsider the Four Reliances:

Rely not on the person, rely on the teaching.
Rely not on the words, rely on the meaning.
Rely not on what’s cryptic, rely on what’s clear.
Rely not on opinion, rely on wisdom.
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:23 am

Buddhist temple of the Hérault: confidences of the former right hand man
by Sophie Guiraud
Midi Libre
October 8, 2016




The former right arm of Sogyal Rinpoche, Olivier Raurich, confides on the revelations about the Buddhist temple in Lodeve. He warns about what he calls a "sham".

He was the French voice of Sogyal Rinpoche, an echo familiar to the flow of words of the lama during the teachings given to Lerab Ling. For thirty years, Olivier Raurich, a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and Associate of Mathematics, mixed his teaching activity in "prep" at the grandes écoles and the teaching of meditation at Lerab Ling, an unwavering commitment to Rigpa France, whose presidency he will hold for a time while working closely with his spiritual director. "I always had a professional life in parallel, I had the impression to do a good job ... I was never attracted by the personality of Sogyal Rinpoche, it is the message which interested me", indicates this "privileged witness" who now warns about the "deception perpetrated by Sogyal Rinpoche".

"I tried to believe for years"

"When I came to Buddhism, it seemed like Sogyal Rinpoche was one of those who could bridge the gap between Tibetan Buddhism and modern wisdom, and he was one of the few English-speaking lamas, which bothered me because I thought that bigger things were being played. I tried to believe for years," says Olivier Raurich. What did he "put aside" before understanding that there is "deception" on a character "hungry for sex, power and money"? "Sogyal Rinpoche has always been authoritarian and a bit brittle. We knew he was a man who loved women, but we were not aware of the manipulation."

"I finally realized that the relationship with Sogyal Rinpoche was not a factor of spiritual evolution, but rather of long-term infantilization."

"Little by little", "unacceptable things" appeared. Olivier Raurich has collected "testimonies", explicit, which tell "how he uses his position of grandmaster and what is the "sacred" to "obtain sexual favors". There is also this strange scene, at the end of a retreat that brought together 800 students in August 2014 in Roqueredonde, where Rinpoche asked "very abundant offerings, in cash, thick envelopes where you had to mark your name". Earlier in the summer of 2011, this uneasiness when Lerab Ling followed him, "a training not to answer the embarrassing questions of journalists," after the publication of a critical article in the weekly Marianne. He still chooses to stay.

A "factor of infantilization"

"Maybe Sogyal got into his game, he believes in his own story," says Olivier Raurich, who came back from organizing "the Tibetan institution as a religious institution," with "wonderful people and black sheep, which the institution covers ". Has he himself been blinded by the concept of "crazy wisdom" that allows great masters to "break the ego" of others to bring them to spiritual "awakening"? Marion Dapsance recalls that Olivier Raurich invited the students to "not to be critical", "to accept all that will be said and done by Sogyal Rinpoche as a teaching", to integrate that "a great teacher is not a human being like the others", but a "special "being."

The "crazy wisdom" and its excesses: "I finally understood that the relationship with Sogyal Rinpoche was not a factor of spiritual evolution, but rather of infantilization in the long term". End of the story: "When I tried to talk to Sogyal Rinpoche, I felt like I was facing a dictator. He did not listen to me, it was me who "thought badly," and you had to be "wary" of me ... "Olivier Raurich received no threat, no physical constraint, everything is in the grip", he insists. "I hope that the languages ​​will be untied, I hope that Sogyal Rinpoche will be at least discredited, if not sued," continues the former right arm of the lama. Who wants above all "that the people who attend the temple know what is going on there".
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:54 am

Part 1 of 2

Sexual assaults and violent rages... Inside the dark world of Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche
by Mick Brown
The Telegraph
September 21, 2017



Sogyal Rinpoche as a guest speaker at a healing seminar in Melbourne in 2004 CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

In August last year, Sogyal Rinpoche, the Tibetan lama whose book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying has sold more than three million copies around the world, and made him probably the best known Tibetan Buddhist teacher after the Dalai Lama, gave his annual teaching at his French centre Lerab Ling.

Sogyal’s organisation Rigpa - a Tibetan word meaning the essential nature of mind - has more than 100 centres in 40 countries around the world, but Lerab Ling, situated in rolling countryside in L’Hérault is the jewel in the crown. Boasting what is said to be the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in the West, it was formally opened in 2008 by the Dalai Lama, with Carla Bruni Sarkozy, then France’s first lady, and a host of other dignitaries in attendance.

Sogyal is regarded by his students as a living embodiment of the Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion, but a man who teaches in a highly unorthodox way, known as ‘crazy wisdom’.

Sogyal Rinpoche

At Lerab Ling, more than 1000 students were gathered in the temple as he walked on stage, accompanied by his attendant, a Danish nun named Ani Chokyi. Sogyal, who is 70, is a portly, bespectacled man who requires a footstool to mount the throne from which he customarily teaches. Approaching the throne, he paused, then turned suddenly and punched the nun hard in the stomach.

‘I guess the footstool wasn’t in exactly the right position,’ says Gary Goldman, an American student of more than 20 years standing, who was seated in one of the front rows. ‘He had this flash of anger, and he just punched her - a short gut punch. It just stunned me. I thought, what the hell’s that about? Everybody around me kind of sucked their breath in. She started crying, and he told her to leave, get out, and then he started to talk.'

‘To see the master not as a human being but as the Buddha himself,’ Sogyal has often told his students, ‘is the source of the highest blessing.’ Those attending his teachings are cautioned not to be surprised or to draw ‘the wrong conclusions’ about the way he might behave. Apparently irrational, even violent conduct, it is said, should be viewed as ‘mere appearance’.

But punching a nun in the stomach... ‘Afterwards, everybody was trying to make sense of what had happened,’ Goldman says. ‘People were very upset.’ It was customary for students at the retreat to email any thoughts or questions they might have on the day’s teachings to Sogyal’s senior instructors.

As a young man, Goldman was a US Army Ranger who served in Vietnam. ‘We all wrote something up,’ he says. ‘I said, I understood his methods were unconventional but punching Ani Chökyi was knocking the ball out of the park.

'I’ve seen this kind of thing in the military and we don’t do that anymore - at least not legally. But on the other hand, if this was another part of his ‘crazy wisdom’ teaching, we seriously needed to talk about it...’

The next day, one of the Rigpa hierarchy addressed the doubters. Sogyal, he said, was upset that people should be questioning his methods. If people didn’t understand what had actually happened, then they probably weren’t ready for the promised higher-level teachings, and Sogyal would not teach again during the retreat.

‘This is what he does,’ Goldman says, ‘when something comes up he’ll very skillfully manipulate his students to get them back in line. I just thought, I’m done with this...’

A catalogue of damning allegations

Largely thanks to the benign, smiling example of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism has grown enormously in popularity in the West over the past thirty years, largely escaping the scandal that has dogged other religious institutions - at least publicly.

Within the Buddhist community, however, Sogyal Rinpoche has long been a controversial figure. For years, rumours have circulated on the internet about his behaviour, and in the 1990s a lawsuit alleging sexual and physical abuse was settled out of court.

Yet his position as one of the foremost Buddhist teachers in the West has remained remarkably intact - until now. In July, eight senior and long-standing current and former students sent a 12-page letter to Sogyal. ‘Long simmering issues with your behaviour,’ it began, ‘can no longer be ignored or denied’, going on to list a catalogue of damning allegations against him.

The Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche, talks with French Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Kouchner during the inauguration of the Buddhist Lerab Ling temple CREDIT: PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Sogyal’s habitual physical abuse, the letter alleged, had ‘left monks, nuns, and lay people students of yours with bloody injuries and permanent scars.’ He had used his role as a teacher ‘to gain access to young women, and to coerce, intimidate and manipulate them into giving you sexual favours’. Students had been ordered to strip, ‘to show you our genitals’, ‘to give you oral sex,’ and ‘to have sex in your bed with our partners’.

Sogyal, it went on, had led a ‘lavish, gluttonous and sybaritic lifestyle’, which had been kept secret from the large body of his followers, and financed by donations by students ‘who believe their offering is being used to further wisdom and compassion in the world.’

‘If your striking and punching us and others, and having sex with your students and married women, and funding your sybaritic lifestyle with students’ donations is actually the ethical and compassionate behaviour of a Buddhist teacher, please explain to us how it is.’

Copied to the Dalai Lama, and Sogyal’s most senior students, the letter quickly went viral, shaking the foundation of Rigpa to the core. For Sogyal Rinpoche himself it was the prelude to the most spectacular fall from grace.

From Tibet to Cambridge

More than just a sordid story of an errant spiritual teacher, the case of Sogyal Rinpoche is a symptom of the perils that may arise when Westerners fall in thrall to esoteric spiritual teachings they may not fully understand, and when Eastern teachers are exposed to the glamour and temptations of celebrity worship.

Sogyal Lakar was born in Kham, in the east of Tibet, into a family of traders. Among his followers, he is believed to be the reincarnation of Sogyal Terton, a Tibetan lama who was a teacher of the 13th Dalai Lama (the present Dalai Lama is the 14th). But according to Rob Hogendoorn, a Dutch academic and Buddhist who has researched Sogyal’s background, the only authority for that claim appears to be Sogyal’s own mother. Sogyal had little formal Buddhist training, and it is notable that few in the Tibetan community have ever attended his teachings.

Sogyal Rinpoche pictured with Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax and Richard Gere in Switzerland, 1985 CREDIT: JOAN HALIFAX

When he was six months old, his mother put him in the care of her sister, Khandro Tsering Chodron, who was the young consort - or spiritual wife - of an eminent Tibetan lama, Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, who became Sogyal’s effective guardian.

In 1954 the family fled from the invading Chinese army to Kalimpong in West Bengal, where Sogyal was educated at a Catholic primary school, St Augustine’s. Jamyang Khyentse died when Sogyal was around 10 or 11, and his education continued at an Anglican school, St Stephen’s College in Delhi. In 1971 he arrived at Trinity College Cambridge, taking a course in theological and religious studies, although he never graduated.

It was in Cambridge that he met Mary Finnigan, then a young Buddhist student, now an author and Sogyal’s fiercest critic, who has been assiduous in her chronicling of his alleged misdemeanours.

At that time there were only four Tibetan lamas living in Britain. ‘There was nobody teaching in London and there were no centres,’ Finnigan says. She arranged Sogyal’s first teachings, in the squat where she was living in London, and would remain his student until 1979.

Approaching the throne, Sogyal Rinpoche paused, then turned suddenly and punched the nun hard in the stomach.

Sogyal was an exotic presence; a Tibetan who could speak fluent English and seemed to know what he was talking about. His following rapidly grew, and with a £100,000 donation from a well-known English comedy actor he was able establish his first centre in London.

Assuming the honorific Rinpoche (it means ‘precious one’) Sogyal set himself up as a teacher in the Vajrayana
, or tantric, tradition - a deeply esoteric aspect of Tibetan Buddhism, through which, it is believed, a student can unshackle the chains of ego and attain enlightenment in a single lifetime - ‘the helicopter to the top of the mountain’, as Sogyal has put it.

It involves the student giving total obedience to the lama in the belief that whatever the lama does, no matter how irrational or incomprehensible it may seem, is for the student’s benefit. Whatever doubts might arise in the mind of the student about these methods is due to ‘impure perception.’


Tibetan Buddhist lore is filled with stories of great masters - or mahasiddhas - bringing their pupils to enlightenment by methods that appear to verge on madness. One of the most famous involves the 9th century mahasiddha Naropa, whose teacher Tilopa subjected him to a series of ordeals including leaping from the top of a temple and breaking his bones, jumping into fire and freezing water, and giving his wife to Tilopa as an offering.

According to these stories every time Naropa was broken or near death, Tilopa would heal him with the wave of a hand, giving him an instruction that would bring Naropa’s mind to a more advanced level.

Fundamental to this relationship between master and disciple is the bond of samaya, or trust, in which the pupil not only vows total obedience to the guru, but the guru vows to act only for the benefit of the pupil. Breaking samaya is held to have the most grave consequences, including banishment to ‘vajra hell’ and an infinity of unfortunate rebirths.

Wearing robes you have one arm bare, and he touched me there, as if I were sexual object. It made my skin crawl. I saw that the way he related to me could change completely

‘Once you enter into the hermetic world of Tibetan Buddhism, you somehow burn your bridges to Western rationality,’ says Stephen Batchelor, an English Buddhist teacher and academic who was himself a Tibetan Buddhist monk for eight years. ‘You enter a world that appears to be entirely consistent internally; everything makes sense; the structures of power seem to be in the service of these high ideals of enlightenment, and the relationship with the guru is the key element in your capacity to follow this path in the most effective way.’

But the Vajrayana is recognised as a particularly hazardous path, particularly to Western students without the deep grounding in Tibetan culture.

In characteristically light-hearted style, the Dalai Lama has spoken of his own caution in discussing the Vajrayana path. ‘I have to be careful what I say in teaching, as there are some seekers who might take the Naropa story literally and jump off a cliff, thinking the guru was hinting about it. Not only do I not have the ability to heal the broken body with a wave of my hand, but here in Dharamsala we don’t even have a proper ambulance service!’

The Dalai Lama has cautioned putative students that a good test of a teacher who is beyond attachments and the temptations of self-gratification is whether they can eat a piece of excrement with the same equanimity as a piece of food. Asked which Tibetan teachers were of a sufficiently high level of self-realisation to do this, he replied ‘Zero.’

In… Christianity and Buddhism terror and nausea are a prelude to bursts of burning spiritual activity… ecstasy begins where horror is sloughed off. A sense of union with the irresistible powers that bear all things before them is frequently more acute in those religions where the pangs of terror and nausea are felt most deeply. [28]

“St Catherine of Sienna, when she felt revulsion from the wounds she was tending, is said to have bitterly reproached herself. Sound hygiene was incompatible with charity, so she deliberately drank a bowl of pus.” [29] The self-proscribed magical ordeals that were Crowley’s focus in the summer of 1920 were motivated by a similar impulse, and were designed to have a similar effect. Bataille notes that “the underlying affinity between sanctity and transgression has never ceased to be felt. Even in the eyes of believers, the libertine is nearer to the saint than the man without desire.” As flagellation, starvation and the dark night of the soul are the mystic’s prelude to the experience of God, so Crowley’s experiences at Cefalù, including the proliferous sickness, his coprophagy, the affair with the goat, his daughter’s death, and the extreme financial trouble he found himself in, were the prelude to his attaining the grade Ipsissimus (the highest possible Grade in the Great White Brotherhood of Light) and experiencing Samadhi. [30] There is a relationship between the lowest physical degradation and the highest spiritual attainment. The horror must be experienced that one may rise above it; indeed the horrific and nauseating are the most potent ways of accessing the divine. Crowley himself saw the process as parallel to psychoanalysis. In the tourist brochure he produced for the Abbey at Cefalù, Crowley wrote the following description for La Chambre des Cauchemars, the very room in which he performed his night of coprophagy, and many of the other sex magical acts in which he engaged in the summer of 1920.

Those who have come successfully through the trial say that they have become immunized from all possible infection by those ideas of evil which interfere between the soul and its divine Self… they have attained permanent mastery of their minds. The process is similar to that of “Psycho-analysis”; it releases the subject from fear of reality and the phantasms and neuroses thereby caused... [31]

The experiments in the chamber were thus an attempt to free his soul of all the last vestiges of fears and inhibitions – the ones he had “sunk so deep,” for he believed that only through this process could one actualize the divine self.

For Crowley, the excesses and abysses into which he plunged himself served in particular one key process; the mastery of mind over matter. Crowley wished to free himself from natural physiological reactions to physical matter, to prove that his will was stronger than his animal self. Crowley, the paradigmatic figure of libertine excess, was in fact pursuing the ascetic ideal. “Thou strives ever; even in thy yielding thou strives to yield and lo! Thou yieldest not. Go thou unto the outermost places and subdue all things, subdue thy fear and thy disgust. Then – yield!” [32] Crowley felt himself flawed by the sense of sin and disgust, so did all he could to evoke these feelings that he might overcome them. He thus describes how playing Leah’s lesbian slave “revolted even my own body, and made me free forever of my preference for matter, made me Pure Spirit.” [33] The summer’s magical ordeals were Crowley’s experiments with different ways of bringing to the surface that which had been repressed, laying bare the most insidious of his negative emotions, the deepest of his hidden weaknesses. They also represented his attempts to cross the line of the animal, and prove his will stronger than his own physicality; to uncover the places where instinct and physiology were still stronger than his theology, faith or will. Although Crowley is popularly portrayed as the poster-boy of physical excess, his description of the coprophagic act does not suggest a celebration of the physical world but a refusal to acknowledge its power and further shows a resentment of humanity as a physiological existence. Crowley understood that the thin air at high altitudes imposed physical restrictions upon the mountaineer; however he refused to accept that coprophagy similarly imposes physiological conditions upon the body. Although disgust at feces is a learnt (or rather taught) reaction, it is not an arbitrary one, and when one does force oneself to break this taboo there will be physiological consequences.

Crowley believed that it was his doubt and his spiritual failure that caused the coprophagic act, about which he had fantasized so lengthily and waxed so eloquently, to remain so horrific. He refused to recognize the naturalness – and practical necessity – of the physiological reaction to coprophagy. He conceived of the coprophagic act as a sacrament; thus the consuming of feces would be an outward sign of his elevated inward grace. In his Magical Record of the Beast, in an entry for 5 July 1920, Crowley declares “In my Mass the Host is of excrement, that I can consume in awe and adoration.” [34] It would be easy to declare such statements simply the ultimate form of sacrilege, but Crowley’s concept of the excremental host has far more significance than this. It is not, in fact, a matter of taboo or sacrilege, but the taking to its logical end The Gnostic Mass’s claim that ‘There is no part of me that is not of the gods.’ The Eucharistic host is the body of god; excrement may bear this title as much as any other physical thing.Thus we can understand Crowley’s frustration when his non-divinity was proven; he was unable to understand why that which appeared to be ambrosia to Leah’s tongue burnt and ulcered his. It could only be through the failure of his will.

-- Aleister Crowley and Coprophagy: The Limits of Transgression, by Georgia van Raalte

A guru who drank like a fish

In 1976, Sogyal visited America to meet with another Tibetan lama, Chogyam Trungpa, who was regarded as the most extreme exemplar of ‘crazy wisdom’ teachings. Trungpa drank like a fish (he would die in 1987 from complications arising due to alcoholism), openly slept with his students and ran his organisation like a feudal court, surrounding himself with an elite bodyguard, sometimes amusing himself by dressing as a Grenadier guard. ‘The real function of the guru,’ he once said, ‘is to insult you.’ ‘Sogyal looked at what Trungpa had,’ says Mary Finnigan, ‘and said “That’s what I want.”’

Tibetan lama, Chogyam Trungpa, who was regarded as the most extreme exemplar of ‘crazy wisdom’ teachings CREDIT: REXFEATURES

Like Trungpa, he adopted an unorthodox, often jokey, teaching style, but he was a compelling orator, with an ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand and convey the Buddhist teachings in a clear and understandable way. ‘There are three kinds of people who show up for spiritual practice or information,’ Gary Goldman says.

‘You get the intellectuals who are curious and want to learn something about it; you get the people who are actively seeking truth, and looking to figure out what life and the world is about; and then you get the people who are totally psychologically f-d up; they’ve been abused; terrible things have happened to them. Sogyal was able to satisfy all three groups, very well and very compassionately.’

The book that made Sogyal a celebrity

In 1992 he published The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, a book that presented traditional Tibetan teachings on a happy life and good death for a Western audience. Clinicians, hospice workers and psychologists applauded it for the comfort it brought to the terminally ill. John Cleese, an early supporter, described it as ‘one of the most helpful books I have ever read.’

It was a runaway success. But quite how much Sogyal himself had to do with it is debatable; according to those close to the project, most of the work was done by ghost-writers - Sogyal’s closest student, and now his right-hand man, Patrick Gaffney, and the author Andrew Harvey.

What used to be called simply, "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" is now a trumpet being blown by a Narcissist: "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: A New Spiritual Classic from One of the Foremost Interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism to the West," by Patrick Gaffney (Editor), Andrew Harvey (Editor), Sogyal Rinpoche (Author)

Oh puleeeez, what hogwash! It should be called, "The Tibetan Art of Lies and Lying."

As far as I know from "Jane Doe" and others who contacted me in 1993, and 1994, Andrew Harvey wrote most of the book and Sogyal put his name on it. Andrew is an ex-cult devotee of Sogyal's who opted OUT.

-- Letter to Tiger Lily by AmLearning [Victoria Barlow], January 13, 2004

The book made Sogyal a celebrity. He appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci’s film Little Buddha, and he travelled the world, establishing new centres. The combination of Sogyal’s charisma - a purveyor of ancient wisdom in touch with the modern world - and the mystique of Tibetan Buddhism proved a potent lure for new followers. Those signing up for his courses had little idea that, as one former follower puts it, Sogyal was ‘using meditation as a gateway drug into a cult of personality.’

But the first storm clouds were already gathering. Sogyal is not a monk, and there is theoretically no prohibition on him marrying or having sexual relations. But his sexual conduct was becoming a cause of increasing controversy in Buddhist circles - not least his surrounding himself with an effective harem of young women, whom Sogyal described as his ‘dakinis’ - a Tibetan term meaning spiritual muse.

In 1994, an American student using the legal pseudonym Janice Doe brought a suit against Sogyal, alleging that using the justification of his spiritual status he had sexually and physically abused her, turning her against her husband and family.

By sleeping with the teacher you get a closeness to him which everyone is hankering after

This, the charge alleged, was merely one example of a pattern of abuse against a number of women. The Telegraph Magazine published a cover story on the case in which two English women spoke about their own sexual encounters with Sogyal.

‘You’re chosen, which makes you feel special,’ said one woman. ‘Because he was my spiritual teacher I trusted that whatever he asked was in my best interests… You want to progress on the spiritual path, and by sleeping with the teacher you get a closeness to him which everyone is hankering after. I saw it as part of the teachings on the illusory nature of experience and emotions. But in fact it caused me a lot of pain that I wasn’t able to dissolve.’

Another spoke of her distress at discovering, shortly after he initiated a relationship with her, that Sogyal was also having sex with three other students. Sogyal, she said, had ‘used the teachings to attempt to keep me in a sexual relationship with him - one that I did not want to be in.’

Physical abuse and verbal humiliation

The Janice Doe case was settled quietly out of court. And in an age before the internet, most readers of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying remained happily oblivious to any hint of scandal. Rather, the book was to prove a powerful medium in bringing him new followers.

Among them was a young Australian woman, who would later become a Buddhist nun, taking the name Drolma.

Drolma first read Sogyal’s book as a 21-year-old. ‘I thought that’s all very nice, but I don’t need this, and put it back on my bookshelf.’ Two years later, with her life ‘falling apart’ following an abortion and the break-up of a difficult relationship, she attended a retreat where Sogyal was teaching in New South Wales..

‘My life was at a point where I had no understanding of the suffering I was going through, and this provided some answers, and some practical steps, like meditation.’

The Lerab Ling temple in Roqueredonde, Hérault, in southern France CREDIT: PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

She became more involved in Rigpa, travelling to Lerab Ling for retreats and facilitating study groups. In 2002 she turned her back on a flourishing career as an artist to become a nun. ‘There was this aspect of devotion for the teacher that I felt very strongly. I felt it as the fire of the love of God. And I chose Buddhism because I felt I’d met an authentic example, someone I could follow.’

Even before taking monastic vows, she had witnessed an example of Sogyal’s ‘crazy wisdom’ when he publicly humiliated a male attendant during a teaching session. ‘He’d forgotten to put a full stop on the travel plans or something; Sogyal got him to kneel at the foot of the podium and then run backwards and forwards across the tent. And he did it with his tail between his legs. I felt terribly uncomfortable but I also thought he was very fortunate to have such close attention from the teacher.’

Sogyal made Drolma his personal assistant, handling his schedule. She would later become responsible for caring for his mother and aunt, Khandro, when they came to live at Lerab Ling. Her duties entailed maintaining a careful rapprochement with the inner-circle of Sogyal’s dakinis.

‘Their lives were incredibly pressurised,’ she says, ‘There was lots of jealousy, lots of secrets. If one of them was unhappy or in a mood, then all of us would feel the repercussions, so we also had to do our best to keep them supported.’

Sogyal Rinpoche and Lama Yonten conduct a ceremony at the opening of the Sukhavati Spiritual Care Center in Bad Saarow, Germany, May 2016 CREDIT: ALAMY

The first time Sogyal hit her hard on the head with the backscratcher that he carries everywhere, Drolma says, she accepted it as part of his ‘wrathful’ training. ‘I thought, wow, he really trusts me...’

It was the beginning of years of physical abuse and verbal humiliation. ‘If he became anxious about his mother, or over a relationship with a girlfriend or some financial thing, he would slap me across the face, or hit me over the head with his backscratcher.’ On one occasion he pulled her by the ear so violently hard that it drew blood.

The first time he punched her in the stomach was in the ante-room of the temple at Lerab Ling, where Drolma was preparing his ritual objects prior to an important ceremony for a visiting lama and his retinue of monks.

Like Trungpa, he adopted an unorthodox, often jokey, teaching style, but he was a compelling orator, with an ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand and convey the Buddhist teachings in a clear and understandable way

‘He got out of the car, furious for some reason, slammed the door and just punched me. Then he got dressed in his robes and we went in. I was walking behind him in tears, feeling completely humiliated, with these Tibetan monks there, thinking “Flakey Western nun…”’

Such incidents of violence and abuse were common for those closest to Sogyal, explained away by senior instructors within Rigpa as the lama employing ‘skillful methods’.

‘There was definitely a very well thought-out structure within the Rigpa system that would block the perception of abuse, either by using those historical stories, or making you feel really special if this was the attention you were getting,’ Drolma says. ‘People would say “please train me, Rinpoche.”’

The Telegraph has been given numerous accounts of similar abuse meted out to Sogyal’s closest students: a woman being beaten violently around the head with a backscratcher. A man being kicked, punched in the face, pinned against the wall by Sogyal with his hands around his throat, and hit so hard on the head with a hardbound practice book that he fell to the floor.

‘One goes back to one’s room at the end of a day of it, thinking what the hell was that about, but still hanging on to the trust that this is part and parcel of the purification of negative karma,’ said one man, who was a student for 20 years.

The thought of reporting Sogyal to the police, he said, never crossed his mind. ‘These are criminal acts. But the problem is we’ve been complicit, we’ve allowed it, and he keeps doing it.’

In this environment, everything would be rationalised and accepted as ‘a teaching’. Several people told the Telegraph how Sogyal would sometimes address his closest students while defecating - like a Tudor monarch, ordering his ‘dakinis’ to perform the appropriate ablutions as a demonstration of ‘service’.

The analogy with a monarch is not misplaced. It is further alleged that among his inner circle, Sogyal frequently practiced a sort of droit de seigneur, taking the wives or girlfriends of his most loyal male followers as his sexual partners, either openly or covertly. Men were expected to accept this is as part of the teaching. When one complained, Sogyal told his partner the man was ‘possessed by demons’. The eight-signatory letter further alleges that on at least one occasion, Sogyal had offered one of his female attendants to another lama for sex.

For a woman to be chosen by Sogyal as a sexual partner was regarded as ‘an honour,’ Drolma says. ‘It meant they had dakini qualities, and you’re said to be prolonging the life of the master.’

Travel, excess spending and 'a modest life'

The offerings expected from followers maintained Sogyal in a lifestyle of profligate extravagance. At Lerab Ling, he lived in a chalet, decorated with cedar wood panels, which overlooked his own heated swimming pool. There was a giant television on which he enjoyed watching his favourite American action movies. In the ‘lama kitchen’ attendants were available day and night to provide his favourite dishes at a moment’s notice.

Attendants and his inner circle were worked to a point of physical exhaustion serving him. In the months that Sogyal was at Lerab Ling, or whenever she travelled with him, Drolma worked 14 hour days, six days a week. ‘It was always about survival and addressing his most immediate needs for fear of the repercussions if you didn’t.’

On foreign trips, he travelled first class, his retinue with him. Oane Bijlsma, a Dutch woman who joined Rigpa in 2011 going on to become one of Sogyal’s attendants, describes how for an Easter teaching in Britain in 2012, Rigpa took over Haileybury, the public school in Hertfordshire. Sogyal was installed in the music teacher’s house.

The Dalai Lama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy with Sogyal Rinpoche, at the inauguration of Lerab Ling temple, 2008 CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

On his instruction, his students carefully photographed each room, then moved every stick of furniture into storage, replacing it with furnishings more suited to Sogyal’s tastes, including a large flat-screen tv with satellite connection. At the end of the six day teaching, the rooms were restored to their original state. Oane, who was in charge of provisions, was instructed to visit local butchers, taking photographs of the best joints of meat, which she had to submit for Sogyal’s approval, before buying them.

‘I was shopping for groceries with hundreds of pounds in my pocket in cash. I was buying ridiculous amounts of the best meats I could get. And the wine and the roses and the chocolates... And then people in the inner-circle would be on stage at the teachings talking about Sogyal living a modest life, and keeping nothing for himself. It was totally obscene.’

'In Tibet a lama would have been under much more control,’ one former follower told me. ‘The system would have curbed his excesses. But Sogyal has been surrounded by Western followers who believe that everything he says and does is perfect. It’s a disaster for him, and a disaster for everybody else. He completely lost touch with reality.’

Reaching saturation point

For some within Rigpa, the paradox between being beaten and abused while being told it was for their benefit was causing predictable problems. ‘It creates split personalities in people,’ one student told told me. ‘People feel a loyalty to the teachings which is constantly being contradicted by Sogyal’s behaviour; their hearts are split in two.’

MKUltra used numerous methods to manipulate people's mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation and verbal abuse, as well as other forms of psychological torture....

Another MKUltra effort, Subproject 54, was the Navy's top secret "Perfect Concussion" program, which was supposed to use sub-aural frequency blasts to erase memory....

Physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use....

-- MKUltra, by Wikipedia

In 2007, Sogyal introduced a programme that he called ‘Rigpa Therapy’, in which a number of qualified psychotherapists, who were also Rigpa students, were assigned to treat those entertaining doubts about the teachings. Drolma was among them.

‘The crux of every session,’ she says, ‘was exploring how what Sogyal did related to other past relationships in my life. It was all about that, and how my difficulties were nothing to do with Sogyal, and how his blessing was letting me go back to that time and work through it. Basically, the therapists had been been brought in to stop people leaving.

Meanwhile Dr Lawrence had been given highly unusual instructions by Gabriel to attend all of the appointments of community members whenever they were able to see any doctors outside the community. While this would give him a needed education regarding these various medical practices, he would also know exactly what was going on with each patient/community member, which would be reported, like everything else, to Gabriel Niann, and the community psychologist, giving them a considerable advantage over the individual, and greatly contributing to their ability to be in control. I was always disturbed by the fact that there was never a "doctor-patient confidentiality agreement", since all medical records are shared by Lawrence and Cunningham, (the psychologist), with Gabriel and Niann. (It reminds me of the required detailed 'confessions', sometimes requested in writing a comprised list of all the negative things that the member thinks they may have done, not only in this life, but how they may have offended Gabriel, or others, in past ones. This compounded information places the subject-member in a compromising and susceptible situation, and gives those who have placed themselves in a position over them further control. Blackmail, would not be an inappropriate definition.)

-- Follow-Up Article Re Question 10, by John Thurstin
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Re: Randy Sogyal Rinpoche, Best-Selling Lecher

Postby admin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:32 am

Part 2 of 2

If he became anxious about his mother, or over a relationship with a girlfriend or some financial thing, he would slap me across the face, or hit me over the head with his backscratcher

-- Drolma

At around the same time, Drolma appeared in a German film about Sogyal, Ancient Wisdom For the Modern World, discussing her relationship with him. ‘Sometimes he’ll be like my father, like my mother, like my boss, like my friend - like my enemy, because he pushes my buttons,’ she said. ‘But I know always his heart and his motivation is so pure.

'He’s always showing me who I am and who I’m not. The buttons he presses are not who I truly am. The buttons he presses are what needs to be removed. Sometimes there’s a joy when they’re pressed, because it’s showing what needs to be peeled away. Whenever there’s any pain that’s not the real me hurting; that’s the ego that Rinpoche is trying to eradicate.’

Senior instructors congratulated her on her appearance. But her doubts were hardening. ‘I’d reached saturation point.’ She confided her feelings to a visiting Spanish nun. ‘I’d always been trained to keep everything secret from anyone outside; but I ended up telling her everything. She said, “that’s straight out abuse. You’ve got to leave.”’

Dechen borrowed her mother's white minivan the next morning and drove to the town house in Darnestown where the Monk was living with five other monks. She parked on the street and went inside. "I'm going to see Khenpo," she told the Monk, "and I think you should come, too."

On the drive together there were long periods of silence. When directly confronted on the phone, Dechen had told Alana about the affair. And when Dechen insisted that she had not "broken her vows"--meaning her root vows--Alana had accused her of obnoxious hairsplitting. "You were together alone on a bed in a hotel, and you say you didn't break your vows?" There were several rounds of this until Alana simply said, "I can't talk to you anymore," and hung up. Dechen then called the Monk and told him what happened.

"You told Alana?" he said, in horror.

But later that night Alana called again to say that a meeting with Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso had been scheduled for noon the following day and that Jetsunma would see her in the evening. Nobody had suggested that Dechen bring the Monk along. That was her idea.

The drive to the temple seemed very long, and dreadful. Now she saw that it was a mistake not to have confessed. This was the worst possible outcome -- to be found out by Alana and dragged before Khenpo, the venerable Tibetan scholar. She had memories of India, of having gone before the very same man once before with news like this. The irony staggered her.

Dechen and the Monk walked inside the temple together and found Khenpo upstairs, in a suite of rooms he always used when visiting. He ushered them inside and sat down on a purple sofa in his bedroom. Khenpo was a short man with a small mustache and a perfectly round head. He was younger than most Tibetan scholars -- still in his fifties -- and while he seemed easygoing and simple, he was also known for having one of the best minds in the Nyingma school. There didn't seem to be an esoteric point that he couldn't elucidate or a question he didn't have an answer for. More than anyone, the Monk had been awestruck by Khenpo's intellect and wisdom, by his subtlety and clarity. The Monk had hoped to stay by Khenpo's side and keep working on translations with the scholar. As a teacher he was revered in both the United States and India, where he ran the monastery in Bylakuppe and the large university as well. For the last couple of years he'd been coming with greater frequency to Poolesville to give teachings and instruction. For a while now the Monk had suspected that Khenpo's trips to KPC were designed to keep Penor Rinpoche informed of the students' progress there, and--in light of some of the New Age overtones to Jetsunma's teachings--make sure that her students were also offered something more traditional.

Dechen sat at Khenpo's feet. The Monk sat farther behind, in a display of great humility and modesty. Khenpo seemed to want no further details--he'd already heard enough from either Jetsunma or Alana--and launched immediately into an angry diatribe. His face looked pained.

"How could you do this?" he said to the Monk. "You've been a monk for twelve years! . . . You may have some realization, but without moral discipline you have nothing."

"And you!" he said to Dechen. "You knew! You knew you needed to confess!" She looked back at the Monk. He said nothing.

Khenpo explained that it was true: their root vows had not been broken. They had broken a branch vow, which would now remain forever broken. But he was clearly appalled. "The hiding! The secrecy!" If they had come forward and confessed, the negative karma could have been purified. But because they didn't come forward and were found out after a confrontation, the vow would forever be broken, and forever unpurified.

Dechen listened very hard for instructions and advice from Khenpo during the twenty-minute meeting. "Do Vajrasattva practices," he finally said, but he didn't suggest an amount. They could try to purify the karma, but, basically, "Nothing can be done at this point."

Driving home, Dechen said, "I won't say I told you so."

"Good, " said the Monk. They said nothing else.

Dechen didn't mention the meeting she had scheduled that evening with Jetsunma. She assumed it would be one on one, and assumed she'd be reamed out. The Monk came from another school of Tibetan Buddhism, and it wasn't really Jetsunma's place to reprimand him. He had already pondered this himself. Technically, Khenpo was the only person in Poolesville--besides perhaps Alana-who should ever know what had happened between the Monk and Dechen. When vows were broken it was a private matter. If it became public it would be an insult to Khenpo, suggesting that his advice alone wasn't enough--and showing a lack of respect for his ability to handle the situation properly.

Still, the Monk had a bad feeling about this vow breakage. He had a feeling it wasn't going to remain a private matter. Jetsunma didn't seem to care about doing things in a traditional way. And Poolesville wasn't like the other Dharma centers; it didn't feel like the other Dharma centers. It was the kind of place where anything could happen.


After she dropped the Monk at the town house, Dechen began the drive back to her mother's. She felt small behind the wheel of the lumbering minivan, and the burgundy robes felt heavy on her skin, a demanding weight that engulfed her small body. She drove on Quince Orchard Road and began thinking about whether she should remain in Poolesville. But she worried. If she couldn't make it as a nun at Kunzang Palyul Choling, the largest concentration of Tibetan Buddhist nuns in America, where could she?

The sky was dark, the color of fresh wet concrete. It was about two o'clock on the afternoon of February 9, 1996. She made the left-hand turn onto Longdraft Road and never noticed the small beige car in the oncoming lane. It was going fifty miles per hour. When the two vehicles collided, the minivan was totaled. So was the other car -- its front end was flattened up to the windshield.

Dechen was dizzy when she squeezed out of the minivan, and she brushed the broken glass off her robes. She stepped over to the small beige car. "Are you okay? Are you okay?" she asked. The driver was a middle-aged blond woman in a business suit. She looked dazed. "I can't really feel my leg," the driver said. Dechen stood next to the car and worried--until other cars began to stop and their drivers told Dechen to get back into the minivan. Her face was covered in blood. When the paramedics came, they put her in a neck brace and carried her to the ambulance, where the driver of the other car was already stretched out. Together they were taken to Shady Grove Hospital in Gaithersburg. The driver of the car had a sprained leg and a bruise on her shoulder. Dechen had lacerations of the face and head from the broken windshield glass--she had forgotten to wear a seat belt--and after receiving fourteen stitches and being given Vicodin for pain, she was told that she was still in shock and needed to rest.

Sherab and Dawa arrived at the hospital--they'd driven by Quince Orchard Road and recognized the crushed white minivan as Ayla Meurer's. At first the two nuns assumed that Ayla had been in an accident, but once they realized that it was Dechen who'd been driving -- and that she was going to be okay -- both nuns turned critical. "How could you get in a car accident?" they asked her. It was more evidence of the negative karma that Dechen had been accumulating lately. They immediately called Alana from Dawa's cell phone. Dawa spoke with Alana for a moment, then handed the phone to Dechen.

Alana's voice was cold and stern. "Don't think that this means you can get out of tonight's meeting," she said quickly. "Jetsunma says you aren't hurt that badly."

By the time Ayla arrived at the hospital, her daughter was being released. As they drove, Dechen felt her shame and despair drifting into numbness. Scattered around her face and short, dark hair were shaved marks and cuts, and the thread of the stitches. " I already heard that you're fine," Ayla said, "so I can say that I'm really mad at you. How could you break your vows?"

Ayla handed Dechen a folded bundle of yellow robes -- the robes the ordained wore for ceremonial and special occasions. She'd been called by Alana and instructed to get her daughter out of the hospital, give her the yellow robes, and take her directly to Ani Estates. There was going to be a meeting. In the car with her mother, Dechen stared straight ahead at the road. A meeting. She felt nothing. She never got hysterical when unexpected things happened like this. Her reaction was always delayed. And, anyway, the last thing she was going to do was cry.

"You know," Ayla said as she dropped Dechen off, "you're in serious trouble."

It was about four-thirty when Dechen arrived at Ani Estates, the large, beige stucco-and-wood tract house on Spates Hill Road where five nuns--Dawa, Dara, Aileen, Alana, and Dorje--lived. Dechen walked into the house alone and saw that activity had already begun. Several nuns were in the kitchen washing large offering bowls. Atara was standing in the middle of the living room, repeating Jetsunma's instructions. "Jetsunma says there should be chairs lined up in here, like this," she was saying. "And Jetsunma says there should be an offering out for the ordained" -- so pretzels and chips and other refreshments were to be set out. The table in the dining room was to be removed, "and under here," where the dining room table was, "Jetsunma says there should be two chairs."

Dechen had been inside the house many times, for all kinds of reasons. She'd come frequently to borrow movies there from Aileen's video library. She'd exercised on the Health Rider. She'd helped with some Tibetan translations there. She'd even lived there for a week once, when she had no other place to live--and she had cleaned the house to make money. When Jetsunma and Sangye got together, their Consort Engagement Party had been there. And over the summer Dechen had attended the meeting of the ordained at Ani Estates where everyone was asked to sign a paper relieving the temple of any responsibility for taking care of them. But never had Dechen--one of the mousiest of the nuns -- been the center of any attention like this. She sat on the floor in the corner and watched the preparations. She watched Atara stage- direct and everybody follow her orders. She noticed that the vertical blinds were drawn.

The house grew darker as night fell. As the monks and nuns began to trickle in, it was clear most of them had very little idea of why they had been called to Ani Estates. The meeting was mandatory for all ordained. Only Sangye Dorje--later admitting that he had a sense of what might transpire--quickly volunteered to take the prayer shift and remain at the temple. As the rest of the nuns and monks arrived, they saw a table of food and began picking at the snacks. Dechen had moved to a spot on the carpeted stairs that overlooked the room and tried to keep her head down. She was feeling a bit woozy. She kept touching the stitches on the top of her head, and it was weird that they didn't hurt. One cut on the left side of her face kept tickling her. She overheard whispers among the monks--they were always the most clueless. "What's going on? Do you know?"

The Monk was among the last to arrive. He came with Konchog and was told to sit away from Dechen until the meeting began and not to speak with her. He sat on the floor in the front hallway and furtively looked up to the stairs, trying to catch Dechen's eye. She only looked away.

Then Atara led them to the dining room and told them to sit on the chairs under the lights. Dechen found herself looking around the room, and at the monks and nuns in the chairs lined up facing her. One by one she looked at their faces. She had known many of them a decade, since she was seventeen. She had sat beside them, prayed beside them, learned to prostrate beside them, been ordained beside them. It felt like they'd been through the wars together. They'd followed the voice of Jeremiah, made the move to Poolesville, enthroned their lama, watched Michael's leaving, built the stupa garden, and seen Jetsunma marry Karl. They'd done all-night prayer rounders together, floated through the exquisitely beautiful White Tara retreat and the amazing Rinchen Ter Dzod, and sat together through last summer's Nam Chu empowerments. They'd kept a twenty-four-hour prayer vigil going, without a break, since it started in the dark basement of the little brick house in Kensington ten years before.

Here was the largest collection of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in America. They were kind people, good people. Dechen admired so many of them, for wanting to dedicate their lives to something good, for building such a beautiful Dharma center. For trying to live by their ideals.

A broken vow wasn't a small matter. The results would be profound and long-lasting. The bad karma would spill inevitably into the path of everyone in Poolesville and create obstacles. It would cause ripples that would produce more suffering. Dechen and the Monk had not just betrayed themselves and their own Buddha nature but defied the guru and hurt the entire sangha. Why hadn't Dechen been able to see that all along? Why hadn't she come forward months ago?

Most of the lights in the house were dimmed. And the lights in the living room were shut off. Only the lights over Dechen and the Monk were kept brightly lit. Alana was wearing burgundy robes and stood in the dining room before her fellow ordained.

"There has been a vow breakage," she said.

The room became utterly quiet. "Nobody is ever to speak of what happens here tonight. And remember, everything you see is compassionate activity." Alana looked squarely at the Monk. "You are not to speak--either of you--or defend yourselves in any way."

Some headlights flashed behind the windowpane in the front door. Dechen saw that Jetsunma had arrived. The front door flew open, and the room of ordained rose to their feet. Jetsunma quickly pulled off her black overcoat in the foyer and tossed it to Atara. Underneath she was dressed entirely in black, too-black wool and black leather.

"You fool!" she shouted at the Monk, as she ran toward him, then struck him hard on the head with her open hand. The Monk lost his footing and staggered momentarily. When his balance was regained, he realized that his wire-rimmed glasses had been knocked to the floor and he couldn't see.

Jetsunma studied him briefly. With his glasses off the Monk looked like a mole-soft and blind. "Sit down!" she yelled. The Monk and Dechen began to drop onto the seats of their chairs, and Jetsunma yelled again. "No! Sit on the floor! You don't deserve to sit on the same level as these other ordained!"

Dechen sat on her knees. The Monk sat cross-legged on the ground, with the large lights swinging overhead. "I brought you into our hearts!" Jetsunma yelled at him, then bent down to punch the Monk again hard on the side of the face. "We took you into our homes! And this is how you repay our kindness? I should throw you through that sliding glass door but you don't have the merit."

The ordained were quiet, barely moving in their chairs. Dechen looked out into the living room; in the shadows she could see the outlines of a few nuns who were holding their stomachs. One monk had his hand over his mouth.

"This is a stain on all of us--and has harmed all ordained forever." Jetsunma yelled, continuing to punctuate her comments with blows to the Monk's head. "This has shortened my life, the lives of our sangha, and made it harder for all future ordained to keep their vows. And it's shortened their lives as well. They worked so hard to keep their vows purely, and now you've made it so hard!"

Dechen looked up again and heard Tashi sobbing.

Jetsunma turned to face the little nun. Dechen stared up at her. "And you!" she yelled. She struck Dechen across the side of her head with the heel of her hand, not far from a few stitches. "I've taken you into my heart! I've done everything I could for you!" She slapped her again on the forehead." There are words for women like you, but I won't use them!" she yelled. "It disgusts me to see you in those robes. It disgusts me to see your face!"

Dechen looked up into Jetsunma's face and never broke her gaze. Jetsunma had a look that Dechen never remembered seeing before. She was almost. . . smiling. But it wasn't a smirk as much as a leer. "What you said happened to you in India before, what you told me," Jetsunma shouted, "that isn't what really happened, is it? You lied to me." She backhanded Dechen again.

Jetsunma began listing instructions for Dechen to follow. The young nun felt herself focusing on all of Jetsunma 's words, all her advice and instructions, hoping to remember every moment. Dechen was never to look at or speak to the Monk again. She was to put her yellow robes on her altar and prostrate to them every day. She needed to get a job and payoff all of her debts. She had to stop "leaning on" the other ordained. She needed to do one hundred thousand Vajrasattva practices, but Jetsunma wasn't sure that was enough. As a punishment, she and the Monk were going to clean the temple every day--the bathrooms, the floors, the kitchen. And every moment that Dechen wasn't either cleaning or working to pay off her debts, she was to be practicing. As for reading or TV or any other "enjoyments," there were to be no more than four hours per week. She talked about how little remorse Dechen had. "You have never done a single thing that I have ever told you to do," Jetsunma yelled angrily, "so I have no confidence that you'll do it now."

Dechen followed her lama's eyes. She soaked up her lama's words. These were blessings, she told herself. Each word was a great blessing. Each slap and slug, a great, great blessing. Dechen tried to be as submissive as she could be and tried to find a posture of accepting all the blessings as they came her way. This wrathful display--as it was called--would only help to purify any negative karma that had been created by her contact with the Monk.

The Monk had been very still, but he turned slightly to see if Dechen was okay. She was cowering. She was humiliating herself: He wanted to yell at her, "Get up! Get up!"

Jetsunma turned to him again. "You may keep your robes but not wear them," she said, "and if you were in better health, I'd make you clean every toilet at the temple eighteen times a day with a toothbrush." She pointed to the crowd in the chairs. "Their toilets!"

Dechen was to clean toilets, too, she said. "I can't tell you not to come to teachings, but if you do, sit behind an umbrella or something. I don't want to see your face. . . . And I've talked to Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso about this--you may not keep your robes!"

At this Jetsunma walked out.
The room remained perfectly still. Alana returned to center stage. She announced that Jetsunma wanted the ordained to tell Dechen and the Monk how this evening had made them feel--sharing their anger and outrage would help Dechen and the Monk "with their remorse."

Ani Rene spoke first and addressed her comments to the Monk, with whom she had studied. "Driving in the car with you one time," she said, "you criticized some lamas and poisoned my mind with gossip!" she said, shaking with rage. "I felt sick for an hour, and I could have just ripped you apart. " Tashi was so overcome with emotion that he could barely get the words out. He was horrified by what had happened, particularly by the fact that Jetsunma's life would now be shortened. Then came Konchog, the young monk who did press relations for the temple and who was a scholar. He also addressed his remarks to his friend, his housemate, his fellow monk. "I had so much faith in you, " he said, fighting back tears. "You kept your vows for so long. And you talked about how the Dharma texts were more important than Jetsunma, and you almost turned my mind away from my teacher."

The nuns of Ani Farms each spoke to Dechen. Palchen said that Dechen needed to face her total irresponsibility and lack of thought for anyone but herself. Alexandra mentioned Dechen's thoughtlessness. She had never contemplated how her breakages would affect anybody but herself. Sherab was the angriest. "You're always rebellious, and everything has to be Dechen's way!" she yelled. Another nun talked about how she'd helped Dechen out when she broke her vows last time, how supportive she'd felt. This was different. "Countless sentient beings," she said, "will be hurt because of this."

But most of the comments were directed at the Monk, and they continued for forty-five minutes after Jetsunma's departure. In the following ten days there were two more meetings--where Dechen and the Monk were required to confess the details of their affair to the entire ordained sangha. At one point, as Dechen tried to give an account of exactly what had transpired between them sexually, the Monk began shouting; "Shut up! Shut up! It's none of their fucking business!" And it was this attitude, his indignation and pride, which seemed to fuel the anger of his peers. One by one in all three meetings, the ordained told the Monk how they really felt about him, how egotistical he was, how deluded, how he lorded his knowledge of Tibetan and all his studies and retreats and expertise in Tibetan Buddhism over everybody and made them feel bad, how he'd tried, with all his talk of tradition and other teachers and other Dharma centers, to turn them against their lama. He had taken many empowerments, but he'd somehow missed the boat.

The Monk didn't know these people well--he had been in Poolesville only eight months--and it shocked him that they would have such intense hatred for him. It also surprised him that Jetsunma should feel so strongly--to scream at him, and slug him, to threaten to throw him through the sliding glass door. He had refused to give her instruction in some high teachings, and he'd ignored what he felt had been her romantic advances: was that the explanation for her rage? But what had he done to the rest of these people to make them so angry? The attacks on his character were personal, and brutal. This is like something out of the Spanish Inquisition, he was thinking. He knew what Jetsunma would say, of course, that to strike a student was to give him a great blessing. There was a long tradition of teachers hitting students in Tibetan Buddhism. He had heard that in Tibet students were sometimes beaten unconscious with logs and clubs. Penor Rinpoche himself, the legend went, had cured one of his students of cancer by beating him to a bloody pulp--then collapsed outside on the grass and sobbed. But hitting a student in this country, wasn't that a great risk? Was this monastery life in Tibetan Buddhist America?

-- The Buddha From Brooklyn: The Great Blessing, by Martha Sherrill


In 2010 she travelled to Taiwan with three other nuns from Lerab Ling for monastic training. She returned to France, but not to Lerab Ling, hiding out in Paris, ignoring Sogyal’s telephone calls, ‘ranging from “Dear Drolma, I love you, we can talk about this”, to “where the f-k are you and you’re making me really angry, and you’d better come back otherwise you’re going to hell...”’

She fled to India, living in a nunnery, before finally going home to Australia. In 2011, she summoned her nerve to go back to Lerab Ling, for the cremation of Sogyal’s aunt, Khandro. ‘It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,’ she says. ‘I was in nun’s robes and still keeping my precepts.

'Wearing robes you have one arm bare, and he touched me there, as if I were sexual object. It made my skin crawl. I saw that the way he related to me could change completely.’ The cremation over, she returned to Australia, and gave up her robes.

‘Looking back,’ she says, ‘I think I’d lost all faculty of being able to discern clearly what was going on. He absolutely ground me down. I’m generally someone that’s very trusting of people. And he really took advantage of that.

‘And I felt ashamed to leave my friends, ashamed to go back to my family and say I’d made a mistake.’ She pauses. ‘There’s so much shame in all of this.’

Secrecy, denial and further allegations

Within Rigpa, a culture of secrecy and denial prevailed among Sogyal’s inner circle, the worst excesses of his behaviour kept hidden from the thousands of more casual followers who would attend retreats and teachings.

‘It’s like an incestuous family, where you keep the secret in the family,’ one woman who claims she was sexually abused by Sogyal told me. But, inevitably, allegations of impropriety began to leak out on the internet.

In 2011 Mary Finnigan, the English author and former student, published a document Behind The Thankas, charting Sogyal’s history of alleged sexual abuse, and claiming that there was a sub-sect within Rigpa known as Lama Care, set up specifically to make sure that women were available for sex with him wherever he travelled, and that ‘dakinis’ had been pressurised against their will to take part in orgies.

Tibetan culture is such that it will never criticise another lama, especially one within your own group
-- Stephen Batchelor

In the same year, a Canadian documentary called In The Name of Enlightenment was broadcast with more allegations of sexual abuse by former devotees.'

-- In the Name of Enlightenment

In 2015 the President of Rigpa France, Olivier Raurich, resigned, explaining in an interview to the French magazine Marianne that ‘I had come for teachings on humility, love, truth, and trust, and I found myself in a quasi-Stalinist environment and permanent double-talk’. Sogyal, he said, ‘did not hesitate to brutally silence and ridicule people in meetings. Critical thinking is prohibited around him. Negative feedback never reaches him - only praise is reported because people in the close circle are afraid of him.’

Within Rigpa, students were allegedly instructed to kneel before Sogyal and swear they would not listen to Raurich’s accusations. He was denounced as an opportunist who was simply seeking publicity for his own career as a meditation teacher.

The following year, a French academic Marion Dapsance published a book, Les Dévots du Bouddhisme, containing further allegations of abuse, and the ‘cult-like’ behaviour of Sogyal’s inner circle.

A response posted on the Lerab Ling website described her portrayal as ‘extremely prejudiced’ and ‘unrecognizable’, invoking the Tibetan teaching of training the mind in compassion, called lojong, with its core principle of ‘give all profit and gain to others. Take all loss and defeat upon yourself.’

In this context, the letter went on, Sogyal, following the example of ‘great saints of the past’ would never respond to such allegations.

Sogyal Rinpoche visits Paris CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Ignoring the scandal altogether, in November 2016, Patrick Gaffney instead wrote to members of Rigpa, explaining that another lama, and close friend of Sogyal’s, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, believing that the next few years represented ‘a critical period in [Sogyal’s] life’ had consulted ‘a unique clairvoyant master’ in Tibet for advice on what should be done to avert ‘any obstacles to Rinpoche’s life, health and work.’

The ‘clairvoyant lama’ had recommended a number of different ritual practices to remove these obstacles. The most important was for Sogyal’s followers to ‘repair any impairments of the samaya’ - their vow of trust between guru and student - by embarking on an intensive practice of reciting mantras. The goal, Gaffney wrote, was to accumulate 100 million 100 syllable mantras every year - a practice that would require 3,000 students chanting for 40 minutes a day.

‘If the practices he recommends are done,’ Gaffney went on, ‘then there is every chance that Rinpoche will live until at least the age of eighty-five.’

Some saw it as a subtle way of dampening the growing scandal, and coercing doubting students back in line. ‘It was shifting the responsibility for the consequences of Sogyal’s actions onto the students,’ one former student told me.
‘To turn your back on the guru is the worst thing you can do. No-one wants to go to Vajra hell.’

Sogyal's open response

In July, as the eight-signatory letter spread like wildfire, Sogyal wrote an open response to members of Rigpa. He had spent his whole life, he wrote, ‘trying my best’ to serve the Buddha’ teachings, ‘and not a day goes by when I am not thinking about the welfare of my students.’ But in light of the controversy, and following the advice from his own masters about the obstacles arising for his health and life in general, he now intended to enter into retreat ‘as soon as possible.’

He would also, he went on, ‘pray and practice for healing and understanding to prevail, and in the spirit of the great...masters of the past, take the suffering upon myself and give happiness and love to others.’

Through all the years of rumours and revelations about Sogyal’s behaviour, one group maintained a conspicuous silence. His fellow Tibetan lamas. Sogyal’s large following and considerable wealth made him a powerful figure within the Tibetan Buddhist community. Over the years he has been generous in his donations to monasteries in Nepal and India, and other lamas have frequently given teachings at Lerab Ling, their visits lending authority to Sogyal’s credentials.

‘Tibetan culture is such that it will never criticise another lama, especially one within your own group,’ Stephen Batchelor says. ‘But the root of the problem lies in the tantric, aristocratic structure of old Tibetan society that they are seeking to preserve in exile. They’re in the business of holding on to their traditions, not reforming them.

‘The problem facing other lamas is that if they accept these criticisms they are basically accepting criticism of the whole system that in a way underpins their own authority; and if they say nothing they know they will be perceived as turning a blind eye to what looks, quite blatantly, like abusive behaviour.

‘It’s a terrible thing if this discredits Tibetan Buddhism, because Vajrayana is a very rich part of Buddhist heritage. But at the same time these abuses have to be addressed. And the Tibetan tradition has to come to terms with that.’

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy And The Dalai Lama Inaugurate The Lerab Ling Temple On August 22, 2008 CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

The Dalai Lama has frequently condemned unethical behaviour among Buddhist teachers, and urged students to speak out against it - ‘through the newspaper, through the radio. Make public’ - while never specifically commenting on Sogyal by name. But last month, speaking in Ladakh, he talked of the need to reform the ‘influence of the feudal system’ in Tibetan institutions. Followers, he said, ‘must not say, “this is my guru, whatever my guru says I must follow.” That’s totally wrong.’ If a teacher is behaving unethically there was a duty to make their behaviour public.

‘Now recently,’ he went on, ‘Sogyal Rinpoche, my very good friend, but he is disgraced....’

To the outsider it might have seemed a fleetingly incidental reference; to the Buddhist community it was tantamount to excommunication.

Just a few days after the Dalai Lama’s speech, Sogyal announced that he was ‘retiring’ as spiritual director of Rigpa, citing the ‘turbulence’ the allegations around him had caused. There was no acknowledgment of abuse, and no expression of apology or regret.

While no longer spiritual director, he said, he would continue as their teacher. ‘Please understand that I am not and never will abandon you! I have a solemn commitment to help bring you to enlightenment and I will never renege on that!’

Everybody wants to be happy in life. So you join an organisation; you feel good, people are nice, you start to participate more; you invest a lot of time, perhaps a lot of money

The Telegraph magazine contacted Rigpa with a detailed list of the allegations contained in this article, asking for a response. The organisation replied saying they had no comment to make on the allegations. Instead, they referred The Telegraph to the press release announcing Sogyal’s retirement as spiritual director.

Having sought ‘professional and spiritual advice’, that statement went on, Rigpa would be setting up an investigation by ‘a neutral third party’ into the various allegations; launching a consultation process to establish ‘a code of conduct and ‘grievance process’ for Rigpa members; and establishing a new ‘spiritual advisory group’ to guide the organisation.

Rigpa declined to specify what form this independent investigation will take, and also whom the ‘spiritual advisory group’ is likely to be comprised of, saying only that ‘independent professionals will be engaged to lead the internal investigation and this will probably commence mid-autumn.’

Sogyal’s last public appearance was on July 30, in Thailand, speaking at the Seventh World Youth Buddhist Symposium. His speech, on the subject of meditation and peace of mind, made no mention of the scandal that had engulfed him. ‘If your mind is relaxed and at ease,’ he told his young audience, ‘no matter what crises you are facing you will not be disturbed. Even when difficulties come you will be able to turn them to your own advantage.’

Quite how he could that now do that is open to question. Following submissions from former Rigpa members, The Charity Commission has opened a case on The Rigpa Fellowship to assess whether a full investigation into the affairs and governance of Sogyal’s organisation is required. At the same time former students are exploring pressing criminal charges.

Recognising 'this is abuse'

One leaves a spiritual organisation, Drolma says, with a mixture of feelings - relief, shame, guilt for those left behind.

‘I haven’t turned my back on the Buddhist teachings,’ she says, ‘but it was important to let people know what was going on. Sogyal is an abuser, he’s delusional, and he has created real, deep harm for people, and that’s not right in any place at all.’

‘It’s like the Buddha said,’ Gary Goldman says, ‘everybody wants to be happy in life. So you join an organisation; you feel good, people are nice, you start to participate more; you invest a lot of time, perhaps a lot of money. At some point it becomes interwoven into your psyche. It’s a part of who you are. And to give that up is incredibly difficult and painful. I saw [Sogyal] as a friend, and on some level I still admire him as an accomplished teacher; but he’s lost his way, and it’s very sad.

‘Right now, I’m very unhappy. There’s a hole in my heart. But a lot of people just can’t give it up; they’re tied to him; they’d be giving up an authority figure, probably a father figure; psychologically, it would be a huge loss.’

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy with Sogyal at the opening of the Lerab Ling Temple On August 22, 2008 CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

In July, as the furore over the damning letter from the eight students gathered pace, stories circulated on Buddhist sites of the incident in 2016 when the nun, Ane Chokyi, was punched in the stomach. In response, Ani Chokyi posted a reply on a closed Facebook page, saying that Sogyal’s teachings at the retreat had been ‘loving beyond any ordinary description,’ and the punch to the stomach was ‘taken out of a greater context.

‘I have agreed to the skillful means of my master to purify and transform my delusions into clarity and uproot my attachments,’ she wrote. ‘Sometimes these means can be wrathful and not always a pleasant experience, but that is what I need to be able to see through all the layers of ignorance that keep me blinded and stuck.’ Sogyal, she went on, ‘was definitely not in a fit of rage, there was just a single moment of wrath, which manifested in a soft punch, but it was neither violent or abusive, at least not to my feelings.’

Drolma posted a reply. She could understand Ani Chokyi’s perspective completely, she wrote, because that was how she had once justified Sogyal’s behaviour to herself. ‘If the student getting this kind of “special training” has a history of abuse in other relationships in their life (as seems to be the case of many of us, including myself), then it is so much more natural, even comforting to receive wrathful attention from someone who is also telling us they love us deeply.’

But then, she wrote, ‘just like the flick of a switch, I recognised that “this is abuse”. And with that, I started to reflect on all the ways in which I had allowed it to happen. It was like in The Wizard of Oz, when the curtain is finally pulled back and you realise there is no “all-mighty Oz”, there is just a little man shouting into a microphone…’

A history of abuse allegations Sogyal Rinpoche


November 1994
A $10 million civil lawsuit was filed against Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa by an anonymous plaintiff, who was given the name “Janice Doe” to protect her identity. The complaint alleged infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty, and assault and battery.

Mick Brown’s 1995 article in the Telegraph Magazine, called “The Precious One,” looked at the abuse allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche and shared anonymous allegations of sexual abuse from two additional women.

The Canadian company Cogent/Benger produced a television documentary with new allegations of abuse against Sogyal Rinopche called “In the Name of Enlightenment.” It aired on Vision TV in Canada.

Senior student, instructor, translator, and former director of Rigpa France, Olivier Raurich, left Rigpa in 2016. In an interview in the French magazine “Marianne,” Raurich spoke of secrecy in the Rigpa organization, manipulation of information, and rumors of sexual abuse. He said Sogyal Rinpoche’s dictatorial side and anger worsened after a 2011 exposé in “Marianne.” He also claimed that Sogyal Rinpoche brutally silences and ridicules people.

August 2016
Sogyal Rinpoche hit a nun in the stomach in front of 1,000 students during a teaching session at his retreat center, Lerab Ling. More than a year later, following abuse allegations made by eight long-time students, which mentioned the incident, she issued a statement describing what happened as a soft punch. She says it was not abuse because she had agreed to let her teacher work with her in this way, and that it helped her move through a blockage.

However, several students sitting within a few feet of the incident perceived it differently. They heard the wind knocked out of her, saw her immediately double over, and witnessed her running off the stage in tears. They felt deeply disturbed by the incident.

Some of them sent letters of complaint to Sogyal Rinpoche via his feedback system. He responded in the teaching the next day by saying anyone questioning his teaching methods was probably not ready to receive the Dzogchen teachings.

June 2017
The Dutch current affairs program “Brandpunt” featured the testimony of former Rigpa student, Oane Bijlsma, in a program called Abuse in the Buddhist Community: This Victim Tells Her Story for the First Time.

Bujlsma made claims of abuse of power and sexual intimidation by Sogyal Rinpoche. Although Oane was not abused herself, she experienced sexual harassment and she said she witnessed other women being abused, intimidated, and exploited.

July 2017
A 12-page letter signed by current and ex-members of Rigpa details abuse allegedly committed by Sogyal Rinpoche. It was sent to Sogyal Rinpoche, a small selection of his peers, and his closest students.
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