Ivo - on the Sogyal controversy and the reactions of various lamas


19 August 2017

I was privately asked by some of my students about the ongoing scandal in Tibetan Buddhism, so in order not to repeat myself all day I just decided to publish my “official” stance on the matter. Not that it matters to anyone that much, but since the big lamas are writing BS, it seems that it is up to us non-lamas to say it straight…

In short, I find Sogyal’s behavior totally inexcusable, criminal and frankly, childish. I find the reaction of lamas like Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche hypocritical and wrong. Especially Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s long-winded article on the topic is, I think, a total disgrace, and made me lose the last trace of respect for him. I have sent a lot of students his way over the years, I will not do that anymore. I cannot support him any longer in any way.

This scandal is much bigger than most people seem to realize. The culprit is the Tibetan “tulku” system, which creates the perfect conditions for this kind of abuse, hypocrisy and nonsense to continue. This is what all these lamas are defending, no matter what they say, and this is precisely the thing which must go. Every Nyingma lama who has set foot and has taught in Rikpa is complicit in this and there is no escape from that fact, as Sogyal’s personal “qualities” and behavior have been well known to everyone for decades. He thrived entirely because of the perceived support of all those lamas, there is no denying that, no mater how many pages of babble we write online. Although I am happy to say that I have no samaya connection of any kind whatsoever with Sogyal, with Dzongsar Khyentse or Orgyen Tobgyal, I must say that some of my teachers were also among those lamas who supported Rikpa. For this, I sincerely apologize.

The proposition that the students broke their samaya is also ridiculous, as there was obviously no samaya to break in the first place. In Vajrayana there is a certain place for the so called “crazy wisdom” activity and for unconventional actions on part of a lama. However, this requires a highly qualified lama, who not only has credentials, but real realization. It also requires a perfect disciple with the highest capacity and unconditional devotion. This obviously is something which happens once in a blue moon, or almost never in the present times we live in. Invoking the stories of Tilopa/Naropa, Marpa/Milarepa or even the great Trungpa Rinpoche as an excuse for indulgent behavior on part of ordinary fools will get us nowhere.

Please everyone, first strive to understand what “samaya” really means. Then keep it to the best of your ability, but never lose your common sense and dignity. There is no freedom in delusion.

Yours in Dharma,