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Press

Rigpa Statement

January 2018

Spiritual Governance

Following the retirement of Sogyal Rinpoche from the role of Spiritual Director of Rigpa in August 2017, a 'Vision Board' has now been appointed to guide Rigpa into the future.

The Vision Board is made up of seven of Sogyal Rinpoche's long-standing students who share a deep understanding of the vision of Rigpa. Their task will be to oversee the culture of study and practice, care for the Rigpa community, nurture teachers, and strengthen links with other Buddhist teachers and organizations—all in the open and inclusive spirit that Rigpa has sought to cultivate over the last forty years.

The Vision Board is composed, alphabetically, of: Valerie Baker, Mauro de March, Seth Dye, Patrick Gaffney, Verena Pfeiffer, Philip Philippou and Vinciane Rycroft. Read more about the Vision Board members.

To maintain the authenticity of Rigpa's work, the Vision Board will be advised by a number of Tibetan Buddhist lamas including Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche (both key figures in interpreting Tibetan Buddhism in the modern world) and Khenchen Namdrol (a great scholar and lineage holder of the Ngagyur Nyingma tradition). Other Tibetan Buddhist lamas will be invited to advise in the future. 

The Vision Board will commence its role from March 2018.

Although Sogyal Rinpoche is no longer the Spiritual Director of Rigpa, he has an ongoing responsibility as a teacher to his students. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the sacred bond between student and teacher continues until enlightenment. At present, as Sogyal Rinpoche is in a period of retreat and undergoing medical treatment for colon cancer, he may only give occasional pre-recorded teachings to his students.
 

Rigpa Investigation

In August 2017, Rigpa pledged to set up an independent investigation by a neutral third party into the allegations made against Sogyal Rinpoche in July 2017.

Rigpa's heartfelt concern is for the wellbeing of its Rigpa community, including the authors of the letter of allegations, and to ensure that the positive qualities shared in the Rigpa community do not diminish.

The UK law firm Lewis Silkin, highly regarded in Europe for working with harassment complaints, has been appointed to undertake this investigation. Lewis Silkin will act as a neutral, third-party investigator conducting confidential fact-finding interviews, primarily with the eight individuals who wrote the letter of complaint.

The Boards of Rigpa understand that it is their duty to investigate the allegations made against Sogyal Rinpoche in the July letter, according to the laws in the respective countries. While no criminal charges have been made, it is essential that Rigpa follows through with engaging a neutral third-party who can listen objectively to the description of the events as described in the letter.

Concurrently, the Rigpa US Board has engaged An Olive Branch, a Zen-based reconciliation organisation, to help support the Rigpa community in US and in all countries with healing and reconciliation. We consider this to be a crucially important part of the process we need to go through together as community.
 

Code of Conduct and Grievance Procedure

Rigpa has also instigated a consultation process within its international community, through which a code of conduct and a grievance process for Rigpa are being established. The Rigpa community will have the opportunity to review and reflect on the first draft of these procedures in January.
 

Throughout this period of change, Rigpa continues to focus on its vision of making the Buddhist teachings of meditation, compassion and wisdom available to the modern world. Rigpa's centres around the world continue to offer courses, programmes and retreats led by Rigpa teachers and, instructors, as well as and visiting teachers and lamas. More information.


Previous statements

Rigpa Statement

22 November, 2017

Rigpa is an international network of Buddhist centres dedicated to making the Buddhist teachings of meditation, compassion and wisdom available to the modern world. The courses and programmes offered by Rigpa have helped many thousands of people around the world experience relief from suffering and find meaning in their lives.

In July this year, a number of allegations were brought against Sogyal Rinpoche, the then spiritual director of Rigpa, which have been widely shared in the media and on the internet. The governing boards and management teams of Rigpa worldwide have taken this matter very seriously and are working through the current issues with respect and compassion for everyone concerned, and in a way that is entirely consistent with Buddhist values.

We would like to state clearly that there is no place for abuse in our community and we are conscious of our responsibility to provide a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for our members and the public.

Following the allegations, Sogyal Rinpoche decided to retire as Spiritual Director of Rigpa and has entered a period of retreat. The governing boards and management teams of Rigpa, having sought professional and spiritual advice, are currently undertaking the following actions:

  • Setting up an independent investigation by a neutral third party into the various allegations that have been made. We hope to announce shortly further details of this process that will be a first step towards healing and reconciliation.
  • Launching an international consultation process to establish both a code of conduct and a grievance process for Rigpa, which should be finalized by the end of the year.
  • Establishing a new spiritual advisory group to guide the Rigpa organization, comprising an Advisory Panel of Lamas and a Vision Board formed of some of Rigpa’s most senior and trusted students.

Rigpa has also instigated a worldwide consultation process, to listen to its students and to strengthen Rigpa's key values and culture. This includes open meetings for students at our centres and a process for bringing feedback together from across all countries.

Rigpa continues to uphold its membership in Buddhist Unions in many countries in Europe, as well as on the European Buddhist Union. The Union Bouddhiste Française is the only Buddhist Union to suspend Rigpa's membership, however this is only on a temporary basis, pending clarification of the allegations that have been made.


Rigpa Statement

11 August 2017

Rigpa is an international network of Buddhist centres dedicated to making the Buddhist teachings of meditation, compassion and wisdom available to the modern world. The courses and programmes offered by Rigpa have helped many thousands of people around the world experience relief from suffering and find meaning in their lives.

Recently, a number of allegations have been brought against Sogyal Rinpoche, the spiritual director of Rigpa, which have been widely shared in the media and on the internet. The governing boards and management teams of Rigpa worldwide take this matter very seriously and are resolved to clarify the situation responsibly, and in a way that is entirely consistent with Buddhist values.

After internal consultation, Sogyal Rinpoche has decided, with immediate effect, to retire as spiritual director from all the organizations that bear the name of Rigpa in different countries around the world.

The governing boards and management teams of Rigpa, having sought professional and spiritual advice, will assure that the following steps are taken:

1. Set up an independent investigation by a neutral third party into the various allegations that have been made.

2. Launch an international consultation process to establish both a code of conduct and a grievance process for Rigpa.

3. Establish a new spiritual advisory group to guide the Rigpa organization.

These steps are being taken by the boards and management teams of Rigpa worldwide, in a true spirit of collaboration. Channels will be established so that any member of our community has the opportunity to express their wishes, views and concerns.