Air France pilot Gerard Dubois was coming to the end of his career as a 747 captain. Since the year 2000 Gerard ran his professional and spiritual lives in tandem – off duty he spent his time as a serious, bordering-on-fanatical student with Sogyal Rinpoche. The extent of his commitment is illustrated by the fact that it spilled over into air time — he accomplished the gruelling Tibetan Buddhist preliminary practice known as the ngondro by using his rest periods during long distance flights to complete 108 thousand full body prostrations in the crew space behind the flight deck.
Gerard worked his way through the Rigpa hierarchy to the point where he became a dharma teacher himself, alongside other members of the French elite, including Olivier Raurich, Phillipe Cornu and the late Francois Calmes.
“I was looking for answers”, he says, “ trying to find a way to make my mind free and open. I have to admit that I was hypnotised by Sogyal for six years. As I became more involved, I distanced myself from my family and friends and devoted myself totally to Rigpa – with my time, energy and money. As a result, I became completely anti-social, turned in on myself and one-track minded”
Gerard points out that following the Rigpa path is extremely expensive:
“You have to buy ritual objects and constantly update study material. You pay for courses, study days, statues, food offerings for the temple – the list is endless. You have to sponsor people who can’t afford retreats and for those who can, the price is exorbitant. They never stop asking for money – and its done with subtle persuasion – pretty speeches scripted specifically to make you put your hand in your pocket.”
Other former Rigpa insiders confirm that there is relentless pressure to donate money. According to one of them (Kapasi Das):
“I even heard Sogyal say to one man ‘just shut up and give me your money’ “.