Home » Guru Yoga – What’s the problem? » A refresher on the scandals

Quick refresher on some of the breaking scandals:

Sogyal Lakar has been disgraced. It was for him that the “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” was ghost-written by Andrew Harvey and Patrick Gaffney, so turning him into probably the world’s second-best-known teaching figure in Tibetan Buddhism after the Dalai Lama. Rumours of heavy sexual and physical abuse of his close students have circulated for years, and there has been at least one case settled out of court. Eight of his inner circle broke ranks in July of last year (2017), publishing a letter detailing their reasons. Sogyal has “resigned” (although exactly what this means is not yet clear), and the Dalai Lama himself has pointed out that Sogyal is “disgraced”.

Some, such as Orgyen Tobgyal, have rallied around; there have been assertions that any of the victims of the abuse who have complained are to blame for Sogyal’s current illness; that they are bound by a “samaya” vow never to criticise him, and will therefore be going to vajra hell; that in Tibetan Buddhism there is no way to leave a teacher; that unfortunately in Europe we don’t have the tradition according to which “beating hard increases wisdom”.

There are also teachers such as Dzongsar Khyentse, whose criticism of Sogyal has been so ambivalent and mealy-mouthed that he again seems to suggest that the victims are to blame.

Then again, there are cases like that of Robert Spatz, who built up an empire of centres in Europe and who has recently received a sentence (unfortunately suspended) for the ghastly way he has treated children who supposedly were in his “care”.

There can be little doubt about the general outline of Sogyal’s case, but there is some doubt about the specifics. That will remain until the day when enough of the victims are clear enough in their minds that the matter is brought to court. Unfortunately there is not yet any very strong sign of that happening.

And then there is the Shambhala International organisation, presently on the defensive against Andrea Winn’s “Project Sunshine”, which describes itself as an “initiative to bring light and healing to sexualized violence embedded within the shambhala community”; the disturbing scandals seeming to surround Namkha Rinpoche in Holland… It goes on. Google will dig for you.

If you are so inclined there is plenty of information to rummage through with the aid of a search engine. More interesting, perhaps, is the question of the causes.

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