H.H. the Dalai Lama’s Comments on the Troubles in Rigpa

Very important and much-needed post about problems within #Buddhism with #Lamas / #spiritualteachers.

My comments, below.

Thank you so much for collecting and annotating these and other comments/posts about these problems within Buddhism and Buddhist communities. Much appreciated.

Unfortunately, with the teachings about “Guru Yoga” so deeply emphasized among Vajrayana teachers and sangha, the dangers are still prevalent and students are still at risk of “overdoing” the reverence/devotion aspects and not being discerning enough to recognize and call out a teacher’s inappropriate behaviors.

We struggle with this in every sangha, I think. Even when the teachers’ behaviors are not as heinous and obviously abusive or out-of-line as Sogyal Rinpoche’s were, many of us have serious questions about the behaviors and judgments exhibited by our teachers BUT we want to “maintain pure view.”

At what point do we publicly announce that we have concerns about a teacher?

Do lamas have to rape someone, hit students, steal or misappropriate resources/money, have multiple sexual liaisons with students, and other major offenses for us to raise red flags?

What about:
— lamas’ meanness (NOT wisdom-based “wrath”) in speech or behavior?
—public banishment or ostracising of students for spurious reasons?
—inappropriate competitiveness or matchmaking originating from a lama?
—other questionably sourced advice foisted upon students?
—use of divination to make life-altering recommendations for students?
—use of interpretations of astrological charts to make major decisions/advise students?
—inadequately trained or not sufficiently knowledgeable lamas?

These types of spiritual leaders can be dangerous because they provide misinterpretations of the dharma, give away “secret” teachings to unqualified students, make mistakes with translations, give incorrect summaries, misremember teaching stories, mischaracterize the “moral points” of teachings, and/or try to be like therapists or provide psychological counseling without any training or supervision for doing that, turn people toward ‘wrong view,” steer them into life choices that can be disastrous, and worse.

Who assesses, supervises, removes “bad” lamas when they haven’t broken any laws but merely are insufficient to the tasks or are misguiding students?

I’ve encountered ALL of the above among Kagyu and Nyingma lamas, Western and Tibetan, various sanghas.

What to do?

Best to you all,

Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Nyingma practitioner within Chagdud Gonpa sanghas since 1988/96

Tibetan Buddhism – Struggling With Diffi·Cult Issues

By Joanne Clark

For years, the Dalai Lama has been criticized for not speaking out against Sogyal Lakar’s (Sogyal Rinpoche’s) misbehaviors. The idea was that one word from His Holiness could somehow fix things. Now, he has spoken out. He has been speaking out for almost a year. He has been naming Sogyal Lakar by name, saying that Sogyal is now “disgraced.” He has equated Sogyal’s behaviors to feudal exploitation. He has called for the need to topple religious institutions that exploit and named Rigpa as an example of such an institution. He has stated that while Sogyal Lakar might have some learning, he is lacking in practice and realization.

In these statements, not only does His Holiness break his silence, but he also outlines clearly why he has been silent. He outlines the breadth of the problem, as it comes from intrenched feudal systems and cultural norms that…

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