Rigpa Is In Meltdown

I​ published “Behind the Thangkas” in 2010 — more than 20 years after the first wave of evidence against Sogyal Lakar aka Rinpoche emerged.  The delay happened because I wanted to be sure that all the evidence here was at least double sourced. I flew to New York to interview one woman, several conversations happened via Skype and another key witness stayed with my partner and I at our home. Yet another lived a short dive away in Devon, UK.

As a picture of systematic sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual and mental abuse came into focus, so too did my sense of horror that the magnificent Tibetan Buddhist heritage was being exploited and distorted in order to satisfy the self indulgent cravings of a sadistic, narcissistic psychopath.

In addition I felt responsible for this grotesque aberration because it all started at a dinner party at my posh squat in Kentish Town, north London back in 1974. Sogyal asked me to set him up as a guru and I obliged. In those days Tibetan lamas were as rare as hen’s teeth in the UK and we, his first small group of followers, were young, idealistic and naïve.

The evidence I assembled which became “Behind the Thangkas” now seems tame in comparison with the revelations that emerged in a letter signed by eight former long term Sogyal devotees. Datelined 14 July 2017, the letter was addressed to Sogyal, but within hours of its release it went viral across the Buddhist world. Reactions to it range from heartbroken disbelief through indignation to outrage and anger. In my case there was relief, because my long running campaign to take Sogyal out of circulation as a teacher appeared to be in its end game.

This awareness was enhanced when His Holiness the Dalai Lama broke with Tibetan tradition and named Sogyal as “disgraced” in a public speech. The Dalai Lama and his entourage had known about Sogyal’s decadence for decades, but declined to acknowledge it until the letter compelled them to respond.

Listed below are links to the letter and other material related to it. As of August 2017 Sogyal is said to be “in retreat” and his future is unclear. His organisation Rigpa is in meltdown, but seems likely to survive.

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Here is the letter to Sogyal Lakar from a group of students within the community, documenting his history of abusive behaviour:

Letter to Sogyal Lakar – July 14, 2017

This is Sogyal Lakar’s reply to this group of students:

Sogyal Lakar – A letter from Rinpoche to the Sangha – July 19, 2017

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche responded to Sangye Ngawang, one of the signatories of the letter to Sogyal Lakar:

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche – Letter to Sangye Ngawang – July 19, 2017

A small group of Australian students wrote this letter to Sogyal Lakar, expressing their concerns, requests, and constructive suggestions:

Feedback and Suggestions from a Group of Concerned Students – July, 17, 2017

In reply to questions about Sogyal Lakar from several media outlets, French monk Matthieu Ricard,  translator of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, published “A Point of View”:

Matthieu Ricard – A Point of View – July 29, 2017

The Fourteenth Dalai Lama responded to the letter to Sogyal Lakar, 74 minutes into his public speech at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) in Leh, Ladakh, India:

Dalai Lama – Inauguration of ‘Buddhism in Ladakh’ – August 1, 2017

Mingyur Rinpoche explained in “Treat Everyone as the Buddha” what students should look for in a Buddhist teacher, and what to do when serious ethics violations occur:

Mingyur Rinpoche – Treat Everyone as the Buddha – August 9, 2017

The Dutch current affairs program “Brandpunt” featured the testimony of Oane Bijlsma regarding the abuse of power and sexual intimidation by Sogyal Lakar:

Brandpunt – Abuse in the Buddhist Community (with transcript) – June 13, 2017

Investigative reporter Dirk Mostert published an interview with Mary Finnigan on the “Brandpunt” Facebook-page:

Brandpunt – Interview Mary Finnigan – June 15, 2017