This is not my original blogentry. Eva Ross commented on the original blog entry, and I have used her comments in making this revised blogentry:-
It was a sad day for me Friday 9th March . I had woken up thinking about dreams that I have regularly. I used to fly quite a bit and I was always prepared and early, because you can’t just hop on the next one. So I have had a number of dreams in which I have left things to the last minute, was not prepared, and it was affecting the flight. I had downloaded some Toltec dream symbols, so flight meant a change and I wasn’t prepared for the change. I was wondering whether this meant I was not prepared for death, and death means diving for Sogyal Rinpoche’s “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. I went hunting an eBook.
In the process I was directed to this site where Sogyal Rinpoche’s alleged sexual indiscretions were discussed, for a complete list of entries concerning Sogyal go to http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gurus.blogspot.com/ and search for sogyal rinpoche. I became angry at this blog because yet another book that was important to me have had doubts cast. Look at this list:-
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance AND
I have read other books , such as the Theravada books, Thich Naht Hanh talks and books, or Krishnamurti books and talks, that have impacted a great deal (perhaps more) in their entirety, but these 5 books, as individual books stand out. That is not to ignore HHDL, Eckhart Tolle or Fritjov Kapra. But when you look at these, Pirsig never claimed to be a spiritual teacher even though he is, it is questionable as to whether Castaneda had a genuine source of wisdom and whether all his books were written through discussion with Don Juan, K had a dubious relationship with a lifetime colleague’s wife, Fritjov Kapra’s analysis was not spiritual, and then I read this stuff about Sogyal whom in previous blogs I reverently called HHSR.
I now consider the issue is that sex has got to be completely off the table in a spiritual context. Suppose a spiritual teacher is prepared to get involved sexually, then the devotion to spiritual studies is diluted. And if your spiritual audience involves westerners then the point of sex being off the table is even more important as western culture can be promiscuous – especially if the people themselves are lost. Off the table. As I have now insighted enlightenment and desire are the same stuff, then the more that desire is allowed then enlightenment is reduced. This is a very loose statement as I don’t understand it properly, but it does give a clear direction. Off the table.
To the particular case. Eva describes women throwing themselves at Sogyal Rinpoche. I wasn’t there but it doesn’t sound like sex is “off the table”. She implies that the allegations have grown from these scorned women. Maybe that is so.
There are a number of points that my research has raised, I don’t have an answer to them and they create doubts.
1) Mary Finnigan. She apparently helped setup Sogyal Rinpoche in London in the 70s. She reacted to his practices and has since tried to expose him. This could be vindictive. Here is her Guardian profile, she writes about Tibetan Buddhism in general and not just Sogyal Rinpoche. Judge for yourself.
2) In 1994 there was a sex abuse civil suit brought against Sogyal Rinpoche, discussed here. It was settled, why? For me the integrity of a spiritual teacher (sila) pervades all that teacher represents, so how can settling be acceptable? Judge for yourself.
3) “In the Name of Enlightenment” is a recent Canadian documentary in which further allegations were made. I cannot find the documentary but here is a trailer. Rigpa gave out this public statement that did not counter the allegations but argued that it was not appropriate to get involved in a public argument on TV. I don’t know why they took this approach but it is not an approach that attempts to establish sila. Judge for yourself.
4) The president of Ireland visited Dzogchen Beara in 2007, and according to this article then distanced herself from Sogyal Rinpoche. Maybe this doesn’t mean anything as she would have to distance herself from controversy, or maybe her backroom staff discovered “dirt”. Again I can never know. Judge for youself.
So I need to try to assess in some way. Firstly I can never know, as Eva quite rightly says if I don’t go to Lerab Ling, France, how can I know? Mind you could I know even then? The title of this blog was always warning although originally I wrote the blog as if the allegations were true. Now thanks to Eva’s intervention I more correctly must describe this discussion as allegations.
So what do these allegations mean to me? Quite simply I doubt his integrity, and when I doubt integrity I doubt the teachings. Eva says she hopes that I “can see beyond any rumours” to “the wisdom that the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying holds. I would hate you to miss out on that wisdom due to fears.” This one I have not been able to resolve, and to my mind this is the issue of having sex “on the table”; off the table there is no possible confusion.
And the issue brings HHDL into question. He visited Lerab Ling in 2008 (watch this clip) as Eva pointed out. On the net people have questioned HHDL’s integrity as a result of his not “excommunicating” Sogyal Rinpoche – even giving him continued support. HHDL’s books have helped me, do I question them as well?
In fact should I be questioning the wisdom at all? If the allegations are true does that affect the value of the wisdom? I have previously discussed the Bhagwan (42 and 43 as well). I am sure there is much knowledge in his teachings, but can you be sure when he is directing you on the wrong path? I am unsure of the allegations, I am unsure of integrity, I am unsure of the teachings, because sex is not off the table.