Sogyal Rinpoche and the abuse accusations rocking the Buddhist world

alkhemst

Dagobah Resident
A colleague was asking me about any good resources about death, and I immediately mentioned the "Tibetan book of living and dying" by well known monk and author Sogyal Rinpoche. Searching for a good link to send her, I came across this article as well as many others that surprised me: Sogyal Rinpoche and the abuse accusations rocking the Buddhist world

That it surprised me - is to understate it, as the book for me was a very compelling perspective on how death can be seen as a positive transition. Reading it as while ago now, I presumed it was written by someone much more compassionate, spiritually and/or emotionally advanced than myself. So to hear about Rinpoche accused of what he has been, makes me feel perhaps somewhat hoodwinked, even though I can't say I know the truth of what is alleged.

Anyhow, I didn't see any mention on the forum of this, so figured others here might have read Rinpoche's work too and might want to know about these allegations. For now I held back on sending my colleague more info on the "Tibetan book of living and dying". Here's some extracts from the article:

on July 14 this year, Rinpoche's world came crashing down, and soon thereafter the faith of thousands of his devotees and admirers. That was the day he received a 12-page letter from the eight former senior students accusing him of years of violent and abusive behaviour.
"This letter is our request to you to stop your unethical and immoral behaviour," they wrote. "Your public face is one of wisdom, kindness, humour, warmth and compassion, but your private behaviour, the way you conduct yourself behind the scenes, is deeply disturbing and unsettling."
The letter then laid out in spectacular and shocking detail the nature of the Tibetan master's alleged abuse: "We have received directly from you, and witnessed others receiving, many different forms of physical abuse. You have punched and kicked us, pulled hair, torn ears, as well as hit us and others with various objects such as your back-scratcher, wooden hangers, phones, cups and many other objects that happened to be close at hand."
"Your physical abuse – which constitutes a crime under the laws of the lands where you have done these acts – have left monks, nuns and lay students of yours with bloody injuries and permanent scars. This is not second-hand information; we have experienced and witnessed your behaviour for years."
...
"If anything went wrong and his anxiety got the better of him, he would take it out on me. One of those times he grabbed me by the ear and it was torn all the way along the back. There was blood pouring down my neck."

Also I remember some forum discussion on "The Shadow of the Dalai Lama" by Victor & Victoria Trimondi. Again, I also take these as allegations (rather than fact). However I don't discount the possibility of being real accounts either. Gross abuse of power is clearly rampant and the high capacity for psychopaths for doing so, hiding it, and having a public face that's completely opposite - kind and moral etc. isn't unheard of. Osho is another that springs to mind. So now I'm led to believe there might be something more to these allegations, including those at Dalai Lama. I just don't know for sure of course. Here's what Victor & Victoria Trimondi wrote about Rinpoche well before these new allegations:

But there are more and more examples where women are beginning to defend themselves. Thus, in 1992 the well-known bestseller author and commentator on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Sogyal Rinpoche, had to face the Supreme Court of Santa Cruz, alleged to have “used his position as an interpreter of Tibetan Buddhism to take sexual and other advantage of female students over a period of many years” (Tricycle 1996, vol. 5 no. 4, p. 87). The plaintiff was seeking 10 million dollars. It was claimed Sogyal Rinpoche had assured his numerous partners that it would be extremely salutary and spiritually rewarding to sleep with him. Another mudra, Victoria Barlow from New York City, described in an interview with Free Press how she, at the age of 21, was summoned into Sogyal Rinpoche’s room during a meditative retreats: “I went to an apartment to see a highly esteemed lama and discuss religion. He opened the door without a shirt on and with a beer in his hand”. When they were sitting on the sofa, the Tibetan “lunged at me with sloppy kisses and groping. I thought [then] I should take it as the deepest compliment that he was interested and basically surrender to him”. Today, Barlow says that she is “disgusted by the way the Tibetans have manipulated the reverence westerners have for the Buddhist path” (Lattin, Newsgroup 2). The case mentioned above was, however, settled out of court; the result, according to Sogyal’s followers, of their master’s deep meditation.
The Shadow of the Dalai Lama Part I 3

What do you guys feel about these allegations? Could it be there is more to the case made by the Trimondis (I think they are really called - Mariana and Herbert Röttgen)? How likely is it that behind Tibetan Buddhism’s compassionate and spiritually advanced facade, is a system of control that promotes and legitimises violence and exploitation?
 

Hi_Henry

Jedi Council Member
Late to the Party but what the heck.

I'm also familiar with the book by Sogyal Rinpoche "Tibetan book of living and dying". This book had a very positive effect on me. Prior to finding this book I had already been influenced by Buddhism many years earlier. What this book did for me however is that it crystallized some of my Life experienced in literally few sentences (in the book). Must admit it was an amazing experience.

It was at least 10 yrs. after finding the book at a used book store that I came across an article about the sexual abuse rumors and Rinpoche. Is it possible ? Of course it is possible but I have no way to corroborate the allegations. It is not too hard to reason that temptation may have found a weak spot in Sogyal Rinpoche. He might have rationalized it all utilizing Buddhist theology. Who knows. I know one thing though, it could be done. But did he ? No way to answer the question.

All groups, organizations, collections of people under hierarchical power structures are vulnerable to abuse. The abuse may be very direct or at the other extreme very very subtle. Beware !!!!

Michael Roach who "spawned" Christie McNally Phenomena and other "incidences" Cutting Diamonds.

Then we have another "bright star" called David Lynch who was an unhappy hero in the documentary "David Wants To Fly" .

Beware of gurus with too much star quality and gold around them :-)
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
Sogyal Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama were already mentioned in the 2009 book Stripping the gurus written by Geoffrey D. Falk, available as HTML-file here: Stripping the Gurus and also available as a PDF download at the bottom of that page.

Rinpoche is mentioned in Chapter XXVI (26), i.e. on page 297 of the PDF file. The Dalai Lama has his own Chapter, XXII (22) starting on page 176 in the PDF version.

It's about nine years now that I first read it, and it seems to me things got severely worse since then.
 
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