Dharma Teachers: Please Retract Your Homages to Sogyal
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To: Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche, Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche, Khenpo Tashi Tseten, Chagdud Khadro, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Khandro Tseringma, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche
Dear Dharma Teachers:
It was with shock and dismay that we, the undersigned Dharma students, read your homages to Sogyal Lakhar published at https://sogyalrinpoche.org/paying-homage-to-sogyal-rinpoche Several of you describe his death as a "Parinirvana." You advise us that "his enlightened mind never wavers from constantly seeing all sentient beings," that his death provides "the most pithy instructions," that "his transcendent sacred intention will become clearer," and "the time has come for all his students to renew their faith in him."
We have considered you to be especially perceptive human beings, compassionate teachers of kindness, thoughtful men and women who work for the benefit of others. Thus, we are shocked when we read your eulogies of Sogyal, because your words ignore the sufferings of the many people who suffered physical and sexual assaults, financial exploitation, and emotional anguish at the hands of Sogyal Lakhar.
We are surprised that you seem unaware that Sogyal suffered from personality faults that made him unsuitable to be venerated as a spiritual teacher, a vajra guru. Eight close former students and assistants of Sogyal's revealed his "lavish, gluttonous and sybaritic lifestyle," in a detailed 12-page letter. The letter documented how his physical abuse had left "students with bloody injuries and permanent scars," and how he had used his Dharma authority to "gain access to young women, and to coerce, intimidate and manipulate them into giving [him] sexual favors." Rigpa hired a law firm to investigate the charges against Sogyal, and their report concluded that "students of Sogyal Lakar (who were part of the ‘inner circle’, as described later in this report) have been subjected to serious physical, sexual and emotional abuse by him." There have been several articles in international news outlets with titles like "Sexual assaults and violent rages ... Inside the dark world of Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche." A book has been published entitled "Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche."
With all this information available, it is disturbing that you are advising us to imagine Sogyal as our guru, sending comforting blessings to us from the bardo. Some of you project that we are suffering in his absence, but this is not what we are thinking about. Our minds are on his victims, who deserve compassion and respect. You wrote eulogies that implicitly assume that Sogyal had no victims. Your words made them disappear.
The UK Charity Commission took action to protect Rigpa students from Sogyal on April 12, 2019, by disqualifying Patrick Gaffney "with immediate effect," from serving as a Rigpa trustee, "for failing in his duty to protect those who came in contact with the charity." The Charity Commission explained, "the public expects charities to be safe places, where people are free from harm." The Charity Commission disqualified Gaffney because, "where we find charities that are failing in this essential duty, we will take action to remove those responsible." For the same reason -- because students expect Dharma centers to be safe places, where "teachers" will not prey upon them, you should not be rendering homage to Sogyal Lakhar, who injured his Dharma students under the guise of providing them with spiritual guidance.
If you affirm Sogyal Lakhar's conduct, you justify the injuries he caused, and show little respect for those he injured. Because we cannot believe this was your intention, we respectfully request that you retract your homages to Sogyal Lakhar. Your retraction will benefit his victims and the Dharma.
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