Finding Independence in the Interdependent

I've put this picture of Chogyam Trungpa in this landing page because a lot of people have written about his hidden side. Since I left Rigpa, and Sogyal Lakar, the leader of Rigpa ... i've had 1000s of interactions with students. When I spoke of independence, thinking for myself and being an adult one student said "but doesn't that go against interdependence" ... and that made me begin to understand how language is like a prison - when many of the words we thought were supposed to unlock the subtle and deeper reality they can also just dumb down students to believe that to think for themselves is wrong.

Language and public relations "spin" is, to me, the antithesis of truth and the life of a contemplative. Trungpa's students are slowly releasing their blockade on the reality of all the downfalls of their leadership. For people who stand to make a lot through selling books that reorganize a variety of teachings by Trungpa they minimize his crimes by saying he was "contraversial'. If that was a fair word to use then it implies sexual abuse is merely contraversial instead of illegal. The word contraversy also implies that there is debate and the right answer is not yet accepted. Contraversy also makes for a celebrity status, an edgy hipster side to these teachers, a forbidden fruit or inner circle.

It is an attitude of being "above the law" when abuse comes in a so called "spritual" context. This site is one of many which is designed to help people recove from spiritual abuse or as some medical professionals like to say "spiritual trauma" which can result.

Victims of (Rinpoche titled) lamas including Trungpa Mukpo, Sogyal Lakar, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and their respective "organisations" Shambala, Rigpa and NKT are only 3 famous names. There are many more lamas who have been or are in the process of being exposed. Some are only young and yet hold very "high" titles in the Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation system. A system that His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains as one that is so abused it should be discontinued.

Trungpa and many Buddhist teachers since him have used this principle of "crazy wisdom" as a free ticket to bypass any questions about harm, abuse of power and general criminal behaviour. When people are hurt many can't see that as the result of wisdom. Teachers like Orgyen Tobgyal continue to instruct students that violence is a blessing, abuse is a teaching method while others have spoken out rejecting such notions. Many younger lamas are refugees from their own organized religion having been sexually abused as children.

Trungpa created an organization that spawned many subsequent cult leaders following in his footsteps. My teacher Sogyal Lakar was ultimately revealed an abusive teacher and witnesses reported that he "wanted what Trungpa had" and subsequently set out to get it - simply telling his students to call him "Rinpoche" a grand title soon after.

If you've come this far - read on a little further.

This is not an attack on Buddhist groups - it is resource, the right place to start asking questions!

Is harm the buddhist way - when most teachers seem to explain clearly that Buddhism as a path of non-harm? Its simple, just re-write what harm means or deny that peoples perceptions are real. We may become confused about what our special branch of Buddhism is even saying and how it connects to what originally attracted us to Buddhism. A cult leader tends to mock people for wanting pleasure, clarity, compassion and love and offer them hardship, pain, indifference and trauma as "training" and it does seem that challenging and difficult is an indicator the right path. That was

What would seem to be an easy answer turns into a long discussion after the way these teachers "train" their students, grooming them to accept harm as mere "difficulties on the path" eventually revealing themselves as mere criminals with powerful psychological tools amplified by the use of many techniques. These techniques are referred to by cult researchers but often need to be explained based on experiences for us to look at our own world and where things may have been going very wrong.

Not Sure ... that's normal

One of the things that takes time to understand is how trust is abused. Experts in recovery tend to explain that we need to return to objective, rather than subjective appraisals of facts. That means that lack of trust or faith is only a sign we haven't really looked into a lot of areas that should be exposed. Groups tend to say they have nothing to hide, then proceed to hide an enormous amount of management activity and "the private life" of leaders. It can take decades before someone or several people bring facts to light. So at that time we can continue to ignore the facts or be fair and investigate, often going against instructions that we should not look or read about anything negative said in the press.

The flip side is that feelings and subjective awareness tends to be screaming at us from inside that things have gone wrong. We may have a lot of trauma that is buried through the years of having boundaries crossed relentlessly until we start to fit the mold of "good student". Later we discover that many higher authorities will have said that this is in fact a sign we have been stripped of what makes us a good student, critical intelligence. That we have fallen into the allure of letting someone think and make decisions for us.

If you, the reader, are definitely sure aren't in a Buddhist cult - no problem. It can take years to even be ready to explore where things go wrong and how groups transition from love and kindness into abusive cults. The most important thing is to be free to get your questions answered and you might need time and space to even get started. Many cults don't allow their members to read anything negative that refers to them ... that is the biggest sign there is a problem.

My Story

After leaving my Buddhist group, having been a Buddhist monk for 14 years, after almost 4 years of hard work I'm compiling everything I've found and will find in future to aid others. I was a part of the Rigpa Fellowship - which I saw listed on a cult watchlist before I really became a monk - but I didn't take it seriously because I'd already seen the teacher speak and I had no idea that what I found to be good things were very much designed to draw me in. A form of marketing in the guise of educational public talks. Like others I just went to learn to meditate and some other philosophy.

The Sunken Cost fallacy

One of the biggest obstacles Buddhist students face when caught in authoritarian groups that demand complete surrender and devotion is that by the time they have doubts they have already come very far and invested time, money and perhaps left jobs, relationships. So the people running those organizations know this - they make all or nothing ultimatums. Life tends to be better early on - and many people enjoy the community and see it as an upgrade from their previous life. So no matter how bad it gets they feel they have already "invested" too much to back out. My teacher also made spiritual threats calling the Vajrayana Buddhist path that of being a snake in a tube and there was only enlightenment with him or hell. Nobody I know would have really started into Buddhism with that hellfire kind of preaching but once you are there, well you redefine the words as if its just a psychological state or whatever you have to tell yourself to accept "very bad consequences" of not doing what you are told to do.

Following the footsteps of survivors

Many have left and recovered and you can and will if that is what you decide is best for you. Make that decision for yourself and you will wonder how you got caught so deep years later. You will wonder how you put up with the lies and excuses and endless misrepresentations. That is what a cult is - merely a group that misrepresents itself, gradually and more and more deeply. You don't join a cult, it reveals itself to you over time.

The wisdom of many survivors

It was hard for me to hear but my elders and supporters told me "don't see your time in that group as a waste". There are many ways to explain why but I really was sad and heart broken because you are in love with the whole thing, including the philosophy and being "special". What good things I learned - it was my "working towards my own liberation" - and working includes making mistakes. In fact nothing great is done with huge trials and mistakes but starting from scratch, going back to the drawing board so to speak is what survivors do. Once you start to know yourself better again you might find books on reintegrating to life "post-cult" incredibly insightful because they are written by people like you. Survivors have a lot of experience and thus wisdom - and become very honest and harder to fool. They were not fools - they were merely lied to based on a decision to trust.

Why did you make this website?

Since 2016 I left a Tibetan Buddhist group that was abusive but it took me years to understand the methods and extent of the harm to myself and others. At first I just knew I needed time and space and that I had learned too much - people were scared and had been keeping me where they could send various people to "care" for me. I had made a plan, not the first one, that lead to me getting away for 3 months but with a view to stay away for more like 4 years. It was 2016 and I told people, "no, I won't be back until 2020". Now, as I build this site it is almost 2020 and I've talked to almost 1000 other victim/survivors of various Buddhist groups. I've studied cults and their tactics and nature, i've identified complex post traumatic stress disorder and been treated for it. I still respect what I learned that held true through all this but the time away lead to me being free to call out manipulative and confusing "marketing and psychological control" that gets good people where they are vulnerable.

So I'm going to build out sections with books that I've found helpful or others I know. I'll enlist many good writers and thinkers and I hope we can collectively make it swifter and more loving for the next wave of survivors from this ongoing business that takes people who just want to learn to meditate, do yoga, or contemplate the nature of thinking, mind, knowing, gnosis. They do an introductory course, they love it, and more than likely they keep meeting many inspired and kind people who can talk for hours about materials that outsiders just aren't willing to talk much about. They find a home and from there their hopes and dreams are a heavy burden leveraged by the people who are "challenging" and "educating" them until they start to lose their healthy sense of self. These are usually educated, effective people with talent who are really exploited to move the "vision" or "community" further. Cults are not made of misfits and they use that logic saying "we are not a group of misfits" describing some false understanding of a cult. Cults are often full of talented, powerful, rich people - the sucessful people looking for ways to develop spiritual, intellectually or make more meaning.

I came to find that almost all the Tibetan Buddhist groups were part of a cult like culture which corrupts almost all teachers by over-indulging them. The teachers mentor each other but as narcissists this means bad people are corrupting younger people and so the whole culture pervaded abuse of power, sexual abuse, financial abuse because in the past those things were freely accepted by a dominated society. Not everyone in that society thought it was "good" though and many Asians knew to keep up appearances but also keep a safe distance. Westerners often go in deep and whole heartedly because they are told - instructed that to do any less will waste everyones time.

If you want to know more then explore this site. It may still be new and needing a lot of work. I aspire to make it easy for you to find everything you need. I maintain the server, I do research and I'm open to be corrected.