As allegations continue to surface against Sakyong Mipham and the leadership of Shambhala International, it is worth looking a bit more into the structures of a Tibetan Buddhist organization where widespread physical and sexual abuse was recently exposed.
Rigpa (Tibetan for “wisdom” or “knowledge”) is a large Tibetan Buddhist organization founded in 1979 by Sogyal Lakhar. It has grown to be one of the largest single organizations dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism in the world with groups and centers in 41 countries around the world. Last year, Lakhar was deemed a “disgrace” by the Dalai Lama after a letter signed by 8 students detailed decades of abuse at his hands. Since then, a number of writings have come out, principally at the blogs “What Now?” and “How did it Happen?“, established explicitly to deal with questions stemming from the allegations and fallout in Rigpa; as well as at the Buddhism Controversy Blog, which features articles discussing a wide range of contemporary Buddhist groups.
Additionally, two documentaries, both in Dutch with English subtitles, explore the dynamics of power, Buddhist teachings, and personality of Sogyal Lakhar.
The more recent of the two is from the Dutch series “Brandpunt” (Focal Point) and was broadcast in June 2017:
All rights belong to Brandpunt TV and KRO-NCRV. The page for the programme, which included the written response from Rigpa is here: https://brandpunt.kro-ncrv.nl/brandpu…
And the older of the two is titled “In the Name of Enlightenment – Sex Scandal in Religion”:
The two serve as a good reminder to be careful when entering into any religious group. And to listen when members and ex-members speak out.