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Thread: Independent investigation confirms “physical, sexual, emotional abuse”

  1. #1

    Independent investigation confirms “physical, sexual, emotional abuse”

    from "Lion's Roar" website:


    Independent investigation confirms “physical, sexual, emotional abuse” by Sogyal Rinpoche

    .
    An independent investigation into allegations against the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Lakar (known widely as Sogyal Rinpoche), founder of the Rigpa community, has found that he committed acts of “serious physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.”

    The report by law firm Lewis Silkin details multiple allegations of physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse, as well as accounts of “living a lavish, gluttonous and sybaritic lifestyle,” and “tainting the appreciation of the Dharma.”

    The 50-page report found that “senior individuals within Rigpa… were aware of at least some of these issues and failed to address them, leaving others at risk.”

    Continues at the link:

    https://www.lionsroar.com/independen...ampaign=buffer

  2. #2
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Thanks for the article, Aloka.

    This is a shame held apparently in common with all too many so-called celibate monastics / priests ( for example recent issues within The Catholic Church).

    The so-called revelation is not at all surprising to me. I have read accounts many years ago of the Tibetan Monastic Community sexual abuse problem being so endemic that senior monks were actually fighting over young (children aged) novices within their community. These accounts go back to the 1800s and are nothing new to this community. This is also not unlike and all too unfortunately in accord with practices within prison communities where young prisoners are taken under protection of gangs in exchange for sexual and physical protection favors.

    reference: http://tantrismuskritik.blogspot.com...-buddhist.html

    I am personally concerned that if the The Buddha did in fact recommend celibacy as cited in The Buddhist Monastic Codes for monks, that he might not have been very enlightened in that regard, because there appears to be a biochemical explanation for all of this abusive sexual behavior of children and women within the sanghas. In pure biology laboratory sexual research it was clearly found that this behavior is primarily driven by the presence and level of Testosterone, a male hormone. In one such study I remember from college biology in the 1970s an experiment was conducted with female rats (sisters) that were injected with Testosterone. The injected female rats almost immediately began humping other females in an apparent attempt to reproduce, whereas without the testosterone they had never before exhibited such behavior. Apparently, this sexual urge is irresistible, when Testosterone is present at levels required to initiate sexual conduct.

    My personal conclusion: The idea that any animal (including the human animal) can live an asexual life while under the influence of Testosterone is fallacious, and scientifically unfounded. There are many such studies which refute such erroneous assumptions. Following is just one example:

    https://spectrum.library.concordia.c.../1/MR63291.pdf

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon
    This is a shame held apparently in common with all too many so-called celibate monastics / priests ( for example recent issues within The Catholic Church).

    Sogyal isn't meant to be a celibate monk, he's a Nyingma lay teacher.

    Sakyong Mipham (Chogyam Trungpa's son) of the Kagyu Shambhala centre abuse reports, is also a lay teacher and he has a wife and family.

    Nevertheless, the fact that they're not monks doesn't make the reports of their behaviour any less shocking.

  4. #4
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    Any organisation needs checks and balances which are embedded within the system, and which work. Otherwise we are dependent on the individuals in charge being perfect in their behavior towards others.

  5. #5
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    It is as though you have an eye
    That sees all forms
    But does not see itself.
    This is how your mind is.
    Its light penetrates everywhere
    And engulfs everything,
    So why does it not know itself?

    Zen Master Foyan (1067-1120)

    A central question in Zen. Can the mind know itself? Are we incapable of knowing from the inside, as it were, or is there a way of breaking free, letting go even of the self, so that we can finally know our own minds?

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    Quote Originally Posted by philg View Post
    Any organisation needs checks and balances which are embedded within the system, and which work. Otherwise we are dependent on the individuals in charge being perfect in their behavior towards others.
    The whole problem of physical, sexual, emotional abuse, is that it is endemic in the power relationship. It is rife where ever there is a power imbalance in a relationship.

    It is not confined to religious organisations, but is everywhere there is one person who feels they can exercise power or authority over another. It is found in all organisations that have an hierarchy, and in individual relationships such as domestic violence / abuse

    The first noble truth asks us to understand suffering, this problem is a very human manifestation of the way power is abused.

    The problem is, it seems, often systemic, for many years there was a common belief in the movie industry that a short cut to the top was the casting couch, Harvey Weinstein was a manifestation of this, I believe that all the checks and balances in a system only work when they are independently administered, I doubt that many organisations are large enough to afford professional independent oversight that would be effective at preventing such situations from arising, even if there was a will to subject the organisation to outside scrutiny and the procedural requirements that would prevent abuse

    In short I do not think governance works in these situations, I believe organisations that have been caught use governance as a fig leaf to hide behind.

    So I think, it does come down to the individuals involved and their behaviours, in the Buddhist context I think the dhamma is the greatest protection, the problems that seem intractable all have a similar modus operandi, charismatic guru figures that promote a cult like following interpreting the dhamma in a highly individualistic way which promotes a kind of guru worship.

    I think that until there is a coherent, central, authoritative and well advertised source for warning people of the dangers of these types of organisation that is able to warn people, albeit after the event, then we can expect these kinds of embarrassing revelations to continue

    There are a number of independent web pages, where individuals do their best to warn the unwary, however these are not exhaustive, up to date, only found when looked for, and can easily be dismissed by the organisations as disgruntled former members venting.

    Abuse is a problem that is inherent in the human condition, positive action in making people and organisations properly accountable is I think the only way to affect the problem

  7. #7
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    "The whole problem of physical, sexual, emotional abuse, is that it is endemic in the power relationship."

    I agree. It's nearly always a man too, as the power structure is usually a male at the top, and that is in most any lineage, and in most any religion. Maybe not pagan, but in all the religions I know of. Not sure if this is cultural (it doesn't seem to be) or biological.

    In the 60's, would it have been this way? We all remember Trungpa's indiscretions, but maybe because those were looser and wilder times it either didn't happen as much as it does now, or w/o the internet it wasn't as known perhaps?

    Humans are humans, whether celibate, religious or irreligious. We make mistakes. It's that old maxim that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. How to cut down on this sort of thing? I think we should start by removing whatever power and privileges these "leaders" enjoy. You can't abuse something you ain't got. It's telling that when we reflect back on two major religious leaders in history, Jesus and Siddhartha Gautama, they were both essentially penniless and homeless. They enjoyed no power or privileges from their work.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by steve marino

    We all remember Trungpa's indiscretions, but maybe because those were looser and wilder times it either didn't happen as much as it does now, or w/o the internet it wasn't as known perhaps?
    Tibetan Buddhism was a new religion in the west in the '60's and 70's and partly because of the fascination of some westerners in connection with "gurus", their "magical powers", "enlightenment" - and all things exotic, it was a likely open door for sexual exploitation when obeying the guru's wishes in all things.

    Information about the attitude to the guru can be found in "The Guru-Yoga Which Rapidly Confers Blessing" (one of the "four special foundations" of practice), in Section 5 of "The Torch of Certainty," to see how Tibetan Buddhists are traditionally expected to treat their gurus :

    http://promienie.net/images/dharma/b...-certainty.pdf

    As communication between western women who were involved with Tibetan Buddhism increased on the internet, they began talking to each other about their personal experiences with Tibetan lamas. I can remember there was a website which I used to read, where women were sharing their experiences of how various Tibetan lamas had propositioned them for sex .

    The first Kalu Rinpoche's former Scottish female translator June Campbell wrote a book in 1996: "Traveller in Space :In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism"

    From the book's description at Amazon:


    June Campbell began studying Buddhism in the 1960s and was among the first western students to study Tibetan Buddhism in India with exiled lamas from Tibet. In 1977 she travelled throughout Europe and North America as a Tibetan translator during the time that Tibetan Buddhist centres were being established in the West. As a university lecturer she later combined her interest in gender and religion by teaching both Religious Studies and Women's Studies.

    She also revealed that she had been his sexual partner. See the article "I was a Tantric Sex Slave" from the Independent newspaper in 1999:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-e...e-1069859.html.

    Additionally, there's a 1996 article from Tricycle magazine which is worth reading :

    "An Interview with June Campbell on Codes of Secrecy and Silence "

    http://www.anandainfo.com/tantric_robes.html

    Excerpt from the interview:

    My relationship with Kalu Rinpoche was not a partnership of equals. When it started, I was in my late twenties. He was almost seventy. He controlled the relationship. I was sworn to secrecy. What I am saying is that it was not a formal ritualistic relationship, nor was it the "tantric" relationship that people might like to imagine.

  9. #9
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    Regarding the first Kalu Rinpoche and his encounter with June Campbell, I appreciate that you posted these articles, Aloka. My original lamas are members of the Shangpa lineage. Years ago, when I read about this situation with June Campbell, I asked one of the lamas (they are both female) what she thought of this. She basically told me that she thought June Campbell had been unready for the sexual encounter with KR and that this doesn't happen nowadays (the so-called tantric sex). While I didn't really buy this explanation, I stayed with these lamas for years (starting in 2009).

    I slowly migrated away from that center, but still maintained a relationship of sorts with them - until this week. I realized after reading and reading and reading about the other abuses in Rigpa and Shambhala, and the collusion of people in the inner circle and also Pema Chodron's most recent display of denial of the abuse, I felt that that I was also colluding by not breaking with these other lamas. So, as of last week, I made the break. I feel guilt and a sense of sadness, but ultimately I know this is the right thing to do. I have read posts in a couple of Facebook groups I belong to from the survivors of the abuse in these groups. It is very distressing to say the least. I know I am making the right decision, and am now questioning my next move. I am presently "following" Venerable Thubten Choderon and the nuns at Sravasti Abbey in Washington State. They have a channel on Youtube and a couple of websites. I have taken one, very basic online course from them, which I found very useful. (And, it was free!). So that is where I am headed right now. Still within Tibetan Buddhism but with what seems to be a safe group.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by lisehull
    I feel guilt and a sense of sadness, but ultimately I know this is the right thing to do.
    Hi Lise,

    I'm really happy to see you posting here again and I think you've definately done the right thing, good for you! There's nothing more to be said really, its all there in the harrowing reports over the years, as well as in one's own personal experiences and insights.There's definately nothing to feel guilty about.


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