Sogyal Rinpoche Warning

Posted: 11/03/2012 in Insight
Tags: ,

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
Lila An Enquiry into Morals (even though first reading I dismissed it – reflection on me)
Journey to Ixtlan
The Four Agreements
Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

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.

Here are some more links I found, make your own assessment:- 1, 2, 3, I am not sure they contain more.

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.

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Comments
  1. www.strahlenfolter.blogspot.com says:

    If his students would know about what criminal mind Sogyal Rinpoche has in reality then only few students would stay with him. He will never be brought to court fro this horrible crime he has committed to me.

    Please help in publishing this article.

    My homepage german/english: brittaleiajaccard.com

    • Eva Ross says:

      I think Britta’s website makes my point, don’t you? Unfortunately Buddhism attracts many people who are unstable.

      Thank you 🙂

  2. Eva Ross says:

    Oh please. If you are going to write a blog post then at least know your stuff rather than referring to another blog as your source of information.
    Let’s make this plain and simple. If Sogyal Rinpche was abusing, having sex with or harming his students the first person to come down on him would be His Holiness the Dalai Lama. only three years ago His Holiness went to France and inaugurated the Tibetan Buddhist temple that Sogyal Rinpoche has built. If there really was an issue, trust me His Holiness would not show such open and public support for Sogyal Rinpoche in front of guests who included the French Presidents wife and many high ranking French government officials.

    I have been around Sogyal Rinpche for many years. I know the intimacies and the ins and outs of his life. I know these women who have made complaints. They have been disturbed women who have thrown themselves at him and been furious at his refusal to comply. I know them personally, have witnessed their actions, and am disgusted by their handling of the situation.

    Sogyal Rinpoche has contributed in an immeasurable way to the lives of millions of people with his ground breaking book. This is undeniable. His students are highly respected in the Tibetan Buddhist circles for their integrity, goodness and achievements as practitioners. Spend some time with them. Go to his centre in France and see for yourself what an incredible place it is. And spend some time with Rinpoche and witness his complete devotion to his students and their welfare. And then, and only then, give your opinion once you actually know what you are talking about.

    • zandtao says:

      Dear Eva,

      I genuinely thank you for taking time to reply to my blog. You are absolutely correct when you say I have no personal evidence to support my blog post, and I now realise that I should have been more circumspect concerning the blog entry because as you point out I am only quoting another blog. I assure you that I will edit the blog accordingly including reference to your comment if I may, for the moment I will take the blog down.

      I now see that what I did was react to the fact that I found the book useful, and then if the allegations were true my respect was undermined. Reading the evidence it looked compelling, and as I said I was not circumspect enough. In the spiritual world there has been much discussion of inappropriate behaviour, some of which I have noted in other blogs referred to in this blogentry.

      But the problem is I am now unsure. As you say the only way I can be sure is to visit his centre in France, and I am not likely to do that – even then would I be able to know? I am not sure how I resolve the situation but let me assure you that I appreciate your comment and will give this blogentry – and others I write concerning such allegations much more careful thought than I did this one.

      zandtao

  3. zandtao says:

    I emailed my reply to Eva, and got the following:-

    “This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

    A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:

    Email address removed as requested.
    SMTP error from remote mail server after RCPT TO::
    host mx1.hotmail.com [65.54.188.110]: 550 Requested action not taken:
    mailbox unavailable”

    Should I read anything into that?

    • Eva Ross says:

      No idea why my email address failed. There is nothing to read into it. I am currently travelling in Asia and used a secondary email address that i ise occassionally to post on your blog. The last thing I wanted was spam.

      I appreciate very much your reply to my message. It always shows integrity when a person is able to say they are unsure. None of us are sure of anything. But the teachings of the Buddha tell us if we cannot help then never to harm.

      I hope one day we see you at Lerab Ling in France and if not that you can see beyond any rumours the wisdom that the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying holds. I would hate you to miss out on that wisdom due to fears.

      With much respect
      Eva Ross

  4. Eva Ross says:

    And please, in the future, don’t publically post my email address as you have done here. This is why we use another email address for such posts. I’d appreciate you taking it down.

  5. zandtao says:

    Apologies for publishing the email address. It was not an intentional “outing”, simply quoting the reply. You are of course quite right, I should not be publishing your address.

    “I think Britta’s website makes my point, don’t you?” There are no doubts in my mind that Britta needs some constructive support.

    I am pleased that you have replied again as I had drawn the wrong conclusion, not only about yourself but about Sogyal Rinpoche. The further I investigate on the internet the more damning the information. You would not have been happy with the edited blog that I wrote today that I will not now publish.

    You said “I know these women who have made complaints. They have been disturbed women who have thrown themselves at him and been furious at his refusal to comply.” I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the situation in general with you. I am the last person who wants to add fuel to a fire caused by “disturbed women” – a group that are part of my own nemesis.

    If you have the time please feel free to contact me at billz at zandtao.com.

    Enjoy your travels in Asia. I live in Thailand, am happily retired here, and have spent a number of days on the beach in 2010 studying “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. http://zandtao.com/bzblog/natins2009.htm#114 up to 120 gives an indication of how I appreciated the book.

  6. […] Sogyal Rinpoche Warning […]

  7. zandtao says:

    Here is a clip about Sogyal. I have no idea of the truth, I am only presenting the clip – judge for yourself:-

  8. […] they still study Sogyal’s teachings. As soon as I read the allegations I stopped studying him – discussed here (there are pertinent comments). I thought then as I do now, if there is doubt that a teacher cannot […]

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