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Rigpa - Sogyal Rinpoche, Abuse

  • #1
    Registered Users Posts: 28 ✭✭✭ jungatheart

    For anyone who has been involved with Rigpa and has left due to concerns with long term discussion of issues around abuse and how it was managed in a covert way, please know that things are finally coming to light. The Lion's Roar, an established and trusted Buddhist magazine has published details of the letter sent to Sogyal Rinpoche by many senior students who have left due to various issues.

    The letter is clear "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."

    Apparently, Sogyal Rinpoche is now entering a period of retreat and reflection at this time in light of these allegations. The letter from these senior students detail a number of concerning incidents including gut-punching a nun in front of an assembly of more than 1,000 students at Lerab Ling in France, August 2016. In December 2005, in a live streamed teaching from the unfinished temple, Sogyal Lakar said that Ian Maxwell, one of his oldest students and someone who many people loved in Rigpa as he was a lovely kind person, was “an asshole”, as Ian lay dying in the hospital in Paris. After Ian’s death Sogyal said that Ian, “died spitting up blood” because he had defied him in the past. He 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. He 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. Lerab Ling residential monastics Ani Damcho Drolma and Ngawang Sangye struggled for many years to fulfill his 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 him.

    For those who are still in Rigpa, please know there are many people who have left and are happy to talk with you. It can often feel so confusing in these situations, what happened was abusive and it's not your fault. The experience is akin to manipulation and gaslighting. The cover up has to stop and those who have left have detailed how practicting psychotherapists in Rigpa were put to work with those who raised concerns and to get them to see that their concerns and seeing of abuse was not real but the enactment of patterns from childhood. Rigpa is currently building a temple in Ireland and is fundraising. The actions of Rinpoche are his alone and do not jeopardise Buddhism in the west, Rigpa is not the only place to experience Buddhism and its teachings. Please know you are not alone and reach out if you have concerns. Some of these ex-students include nuns and monks who saw abuse happen and they have established a safe space and network for people to connect and support each other. It can be found at