Dalai Lama says I knew about clerical sexual abuse

This 22 July 2017 Dutch video says about itself (translated):

Ex-members of the [Tibetan Buddhist] Rigpa movement accuse the spiritual teacher Sogyal Rinpoche of physical violence and sexual abuse. Former Rigpa member Oane Bijlsma is investigating whether she can file a complaint against the guru jointly with others.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Dalai Lama about abuse: I know it since the 1990s

The Dalai Lama says that he has long been aware of stories about sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers. “I already knew all those things, they are not new”, he answered the question from the NOS about what he learned from his conversation with four victims of yesterday. Follow-up questions and other questions about the subject were not allowed to be asked at a short press conference in the Nieuwe Kerk church in Amsterdam.

The Buddhist leader says he discussed accusations at a meeting with Western Buddhists in 1993. “I think that was probably about Sogyal Rinpoche.” That man is one of the best-known and most controversial Buddhist teachers. According to the four victims, the Dalai Lama said yesterday that he now has a reason to do something.

Dozens of victims

Furthermore, the spiritual leader repeated that self-discipline is important for teachers and that victims must make their stories public. “Then teachers would be worried about being shamed.” Dozens of victims have come out in recent years with complaints about teachers.

The Dalai Lama‘s office has been receiving letters from victims of abuse since at least 1992. The spiritual leader has in any case seen no reason to keep his distance because of the warnings about Sogyal.

whose center in France he opened in 2008.


Oane Bijlsma, former follower of Sogyal Rinpoche and initiator of the conversation with the Dalai Lama, is disappointed. “We have already come out with this, no matter how difficult it is because of, eg, the shame. Nothing seems to have changed.”

Bijlsma thinks it’s time that “the interests of victims prevail over political interests and relations between the Dalai Lama and teachers”. “Although the Dalai Lama has publicly dropped Sogyal, it remains to be seen whether something really changes.”

She is also amazed about the answer that the clergyman already knew. “For example, he clearly did not know anything about OKC yesterday.” That is a Belgian Buddhist cult into which one of the four victims [at the conservation with the Dalai Lama], Ricardo Mendes, was born. Mendes says that yesterday he told the spiritual leader several times that OKC uses photographs of the Dalai Lama as legitimation.

The Dalai Lama confirmed that he will discuss the problem in November at a meeting with Buddhist teachers in his Indian residence Dharamsala.

1 thought on “Dalai Lama says I knew about clerical sexual abuse

  1. This is sad, but H. H. the Dalai Lama has no real authority over other Lamas. He’s right to assert that the duty to report (and I mean to the POLICE) is on the adult victims, witnesses and other sangha members, not on His Holiness.

    Only when the students stop putting up with assault, rape, and other criminal behavior and report their criminal teachers can we all be safer.

    Get rid of bad teachers. Grow up. Putting up with such appalling, atrocious behavior for DECADES? Really? Unconscionable and unfathomable, to me.

    No, I’m not “blaming the victims.” But, THESE victims were VOLUNTARILY there. They were ADULTS. They could have left, reported Sogyal, yelled, complained in public: they had options to go public long before last summer. .Why didn’t they?

    I am a Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhist. I understand Guru Yoga and its pitfalls. I am also an abuse survivor. I understand confusion, feeling paralyzed and suffering from PTSD.

    But, everyone involved was not a “survivor.” SOMEONE should have yelled “STOP!” long before last summer.

    Shame on all those who knew and did NOTHING.

    But, mostly, shame on Sogyal. Horrible.

    Sally Ember, Ed.D.
    practitioner with Chagdud Gonpa since 1996.


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