Recently, students of Sogyal Rinpoche have writen a letter that details abuse of their teacher student relationship. Matthieu Riccard gives an interesting viewpoint on this issue, as well addressing some criticism that some have launched as to why the Dalai Lama has not publicly taken a stance on the issue.
If, up to the present time, the Dalai Lama has not reacted publically to the testimonies concerning Sogyal Rinpoche, this is not, as has been sometimes suggested, for financial reasons or out of a misguided attempt to protect Buddhism. Those who make such assertions have failed to research the matter adequately and are guilty of misrepresentation. Otherwise, they would have discovered that the Dalai Lama has never accepted the slightest financial recompense for any instruction or talk that he has given. At the end of every teaching, the accounts are read out in public by the organizers of the event, and if any financial profit has been made, it is invariably offered to humanitarian organizations chosen in consultation with the Dalai Lama and his entourage.
Again the Dalai Lama has no personal agenda in the interests of protecting the image of Buddhism. He often declares that he has nothing to hide and that he is open—without the slightest restriction—to any kind of formal enquiry concerning his own life and actions.
He frequently says that any person of integrity should behave in an irreproachable manner both publically and in private. As a human being, in the first place, and then as a Buddhist monk he values above all the keeping of his vows and a way of life that is frank and open. Having served him for the last twenty-five years, I can testify that he is strongly allergic to any kind of duplicity and pretense. On the other hand—and once again—it is not his role to act as an international Buddhist policeman. He can only remain as a teacher and as a point of reference, demonstrating by his own example the qualities of any Buddhist practitioner worthy of the name.
Recently, an obituary was posted on the Guardian for Jon Underwood. He originated the idea of a Death Cafe, where people gather to eat cake and talk about death. This eventually became a global phenomena. He was also helped in managing Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London, after leaving a well paid job in high tech/software development.
Members of IMI House in Sera Je Monastery gives an introduction to debate
Documentary about Buddhist Teacher and filmmaker, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.
In light of recent allegations of abuses of power towards Sogyal Rinpoche, here is an interesting article where longtime practitioner and psychotherapist, Rob Preece, talks about the delicate relationship that students have between their teachers.
Drawing from his own experience of meeting Tibetan lamas, he mentions:
Like many Westerners at the time, I was somewhat lost spiritually and very wounded emotionally. I would have given almost anything to find someone to guide me and give me a sense of meaning and direction. I believed and trusted that this Tibetan lama would do so. I also really wanted to be seen, so that I might have a sense of affirmation about my value and my nature. Part of this relationship to my guru was therefore a huge emotional investment. I became devoted in a way that was akin to falling in love and had a very idealistic view of how special he was. I recall sitting with other students, talking in a kind of romantic haze about all the qualities we felt he embodied.
When I apply a Jungian psychological view to this relationship, I can see that at its heart was a massive projection. That isn’t to say the lama was not extraordinary, but that extraordinariness was the hook for my projection. Jung saw that what we are unconscious of in ourselves, we tend to project onto someone else. In the case of someone who becomes our guru, we project an image of our “higher Self” onto a person who can act as a carrier of that unconscious quality. When this begins to happen, it is as though we become enthralled or beguiled by this projection. In the case of the projection of the Self onto a teacher, we give away something very powerful in our nature and will then often surrender our own volition in order to be guided.
More problematic in this experience was that, like many of my peers, what I had projected was not just the “inner guru”; I had also imbued him with a quality of the ideal parent I dearly needed. In doing so, I gave away other significant aspects of my power: my own volition and my own authority and discriminating wisdom.
In this interesting interview with Mingyur Rinpoche, he explains how to continue one’s practice once retreat is over, and how one prepares for retreat. He mentions:
First, you need to sit in formal meditation every day. It doesn’t have to be for long—perhaps half an hour, depending on your time and willingness. Consider meditating more than what you already do, but don’t promise too much. It’s important to build up the habit, whether ten or thirty minutes, because even if people love meditation, when it comes to regular practice, many do not meditate.
Some people say they don’t like to look at Facebook so often and think that it’s wasting time, but when it comes down to it, they cannot control the habit. In order to end one habit, we need to develop a new one. Building up a new habit will take twenty to thirty days. So set a goal for formal meditation that is doable in your life and keep at it—whether you do or don’t like it—and after thirty days it will become easier to maintain.
In this interesting interview, Lama Tashi, who was previously an attendent to Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Mingyur Rinpoche, talks about his experience of being in a wandering, 3 year retreat. He mentions:
I have learned a lot about who I am, and that previously I was more fixated. Now I am more relaxed and feel more free. Before my retreat I was mostly with the same kind of people, with some degree — even if small — of wealth and education, but during my retreat I was with all different kinds of people, and I learned that satisfaction and happiness are possible in all different circumstances, because they come from within.
HH the Dalai Lama gives advice on living and dying
In this interesting article, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche talks about how to deal with abusive relationships. He mentions:
Once I was translating for His Holiness the 17th Karmapa in India, and His Holiness said that if you tolerate such abusive action from anyone, that’s not compassion, and that’s not patience. He gave the example that some people say if someone hits you on the left cheek, you should show them the right cheek. He said that’s not really compassionate action, or a practice of patience. That’s actually very self-centered, ego-centered because you are only caring about yourself. You’re trying to practice tolerance, patience, love, kindness, or whatever you think. But you don’t care about that person’s karma. You don’t care about that person’s path, or helping to transform that person’s negative habits. You’re kind of encouraging that person to engage in more aggression. So in the end, that person’s path is going further and further downward, while yours may be going up and up––because you’re being more tolerant, more patient, and what-have-you. So His Holiness said that’s really ego-centered.