telegraph.co.uk_In August last year, Sogyal Rinpoche, the Tibetan lama whose book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying has sold more than three million copies around the world, and made him probably the best known Tibetan Buddhist teacher after the Dalai Lama, gave his annual teaching at his French centre Lerab Ling.
Sogyal’s organisation Rigpa – a Tibetan word meaning the essential nature of mind – has more than 100 centres in 40 countries around the world, but Lerab Ling, situated in rolling countryside in L’Hérault is the jewel in the crown. Boasting what is said to be the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in the West, it was formally opened in 2008 by the Dalai Lama, with Carla Bruni Sarkozy, then France’s first lady, and a host of other dignitaries in attendance.
Sogyal is regarded by his students as a living embodiment of the Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion, but a man who teaches in a highly unorthodox way, known as ‘crazy wisdom’.
At Lerab Ling, more than 1000 students were gathered in the temple as he walked on stage, accompanied by his attendant, a Danish nun named Ani Chokyi. Sogyal, who is 70, is a portly, bespectacled man who requires a footstool to mount the throne from which he customarily teaches. Approaching the throne, he paused, then turned suddenly and punched the nun hard in the stomach.
‘I guess the footstool wasn’t in exactly the right position,’ says Gary Goldman, an American student of more than 20 years standing, who was seated in one of the front rows. ‘He had this flash of anger, and he just punched her – a short gut punch. It just stunned me. I thought, what the hell’s that about? Everybody around me kind of sucked their breath in. She started crying, and he told her to leave, get out, and then he started to talk.’
‘To see the master not as a human being but as the Buddha himself,’ Sogyal has often told his students, ‘is the source of the highest blessing.’ Those attending his teachings are cautioned not to be surprised or to draw ‘the wrong conclusions’ about the way he might behave. Apparently irrational, even violent conduct, it is said, should be viewed as ‘mere appearance’.
But punching a nun in the stomach… ‘Afterwards, everybody was trying to make sense of what had happened,’ Goldman says. ‘People were very upset.’ It was customary for students at the retreat to email any thoughts or questions they might have on the day’s teachings to Sogyal’s senior instructors.
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DALAI LAMA SPEAKS OUT ABOUT SOGYAL RINPOCHE
His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls Sogyal Rinpoche “disgraced” and stresses that nobody should follow the teachings of any lama without question – not even from himself – stressing that they must live up to the teachings of Buddha and what society expects. He also reiterates his advice from 1993 that lamas who behave badly should be exposed in the media. TRANSCRIPT IS BELOW
Recorded at the inauguration of the seminar “Buddhism in Ladakh” @ Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) in Leh, Ladakh, India on 1st August 2017.
For more information on the allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa, see:
(With all due respect to the Dalai Lama’s English skills, I have attempted to correct his grammar, without changing the meaning)
“I feel some of these lama institutions have some sort of influence of the feudal system. That is outdated and must end – that feudal influence. Then eventually a lama institution creates lama politics [DL laughs heartily]. That’s very bad.
An individual lama’s disgrace doesn’t matter, but it gives a very bad impression about a monastery or a monk. Very bad. So we must pay more attention.
You should not say, “This is my guru. What guru says I must follow.” That’s totally wrong! Buddha himself mentioned, “You must examine my teaching”. Similarly if one particular lama says something, you examine whether this goes well according to Buddhaʻs teaching or according to the circumstances in society. Then you must follow. If the lama says something; if you investigate and it’s not proper, then you should not follow the lama’s teaching. Even Dalai Lama’s teaching; if you find some contradiction you should not follow my teaching.
As far as Gelugpa is concerned, Lama Tsonghkapa clearly mentioned; if a lama teaches something that is against the dharma it should be avoided and opposed. If the lama’s teaching is in accord with the dharma it should be followed, if it is in discord with the Dharma it should not be followed.
Many years ago in Dharmasala at a Western Teachers Conference, some Western Buddhist teachers mentioned some Zen masters and Tibetan Buddhist Masters had created a very bad impression among people. Then I told them them; these people do not follow Buddhaʻs advice, Buddhaʻs teaching. We cannot do. So, the only thing is to make it public, through newspapers, through the radio. Make it public!
These lamas, although they don’t care about Buddha’s teaching, they may care about their face [points at his face, indicating shame]. I told them at that conference, almost 15 years ago I think. Now, recently Sogyal Rinpoche; my very good friend, but he’s disgraced. So some of his own students have now made public their criticism.”
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Tks for posting, Hằng.
It is probably less about Sogyal Rinpoche’s devilish abuses, and more about the stupidity of the people who follow him.
Because too many people are stupid, criminals can exploit their weakness to commit crimes.
Beware of religions and religious teachers. You have to be able to think for yourselves.