A question from a reader: What’s the deal with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s sangha in Canada? 

The above question is my own paraphrasing (as an advise columnist would) the contents of a letter seeking advise but in this case from an email I received from a correspondence I received asking for my advice on how to deal with what appears to the person who wrote me a disturbing trend in his local sangha.

My response to the above question which I submit here for your consideration was that it sounded to me like members of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s Sangha in Canada are merely acting out their anxieties over their relationship with their highly respected and much in demand Buddhist teacher by being willfully ignorant with him in there refusal to discuss the more troubling aspects of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in Canada, (where my correspondent is from), as if Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche would approve of their making excuses for Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (and Osel Tendzin), allegedly, while residing in Canada violating Canadien criminal law as it pertains to a “Person in authority” having sex with minors, the age of consent being 21) under their authority.

I would like to think that Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche doesn’t believe that he and his fellow Rinpoches are above the law.

Perhaps someone can ask Rinpoche himself.

I’d like to hear from Dzongsar
Khyentse Rinpoche why he thinks members of his sangha in Canada would take issue, in the name of the dharma, with my correspondent’s understandable need to discuss what happened when Trungpa decamped from the United States to Canada where he later died in disgrace, as the story goes, an alcoholic who drank himself to death.

What end could possibly be served by their denying what this person himself witnessed so many years ago?

My correspondent is a lawyer with a very impressive list of Rinpoches that he has had the privilege of sitting at their feet over his many years as a dharma practitioner.

And one memorable encounter with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche during his final days while said correspondent was studying law in Halifax back when it was little more than a quite Maritime fishing village which made a lasting impression on him as a young man.

My brother’s first wife was a Halifax girl.

If either Trungpa or Osel Tendzin were interfering with persons under their authority while they were still minors as my correspondent alleges it no doubt would have been the talk of the town.

It would have been a bone of contention for the local folks.

Yes, it is all in the past, but that being said this does not explain the trend as described here, of the sangha of a highly respected Buddhist teacher denying what is true of any Buddhist teacher teaching in Canada today, that none are above the law.

This is a no brainer and that it problematic for Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s sangha in Canada is most troubling to me as a lama, thus my decision to run the above here up the flag pole and see what readers of this blog think of it as dharma practitioners.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “A question from a reader: What’s the deal with Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s sangha in Canada? 

  1. Jared

    What is the actual allegation? It sounds as if you mean to say sexual abuse?

    • Mismanagement.

      If members of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s sangha in Halifax of all places can’t own the impact of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in Halifax, this is on Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

      The lunatics are apparently running the asylum in this particular sangha.

  2. nikolas kaugon

    i should give more detail. i gave the most obvious criminal offence under canadian sexual assault law at the time. however when canadian sex assault laws were reformed they created a whole new structure. the legal age of consent was lowered to 14, but they added that taking a child out of the control of their legal guardians who was under 16 was an indictable offence(more or less and american felony), so that there would no longer be any necessity to give evidence of sexual activity. the new system gave a few loop holes if the accused was within two years of age of the underage person. they also added the twenty one years of age consent age for a “person in authority” ,which includes teachers doctors religious teachers etc. the head of an order would be well within that provision. moreover consent is void when there is deceit from the accused about having a sexually transmitted disease or to claim that sexually transmitted disease is cured or prevented from transmission by the accused religious or spiritual accomplishments. the last was recently affirmed by the supreme court of canada. any one within the old trungpa sangha will know of many violations of these laws. i am not even touching on the civil liability for using undue influence to get sex by a religious leader. (which i think should also be condemned) .

    my problem now is the denial. there should be openess on these events. if the past is to be the past then people need to know, and need to know the whole detailed story. how can one excercise ones obligation to examine a guru, if one cannot find out the history of that guru. this secrecy has consequences.

    a friend recently told me that her non buddhist group in halifax, had mindfullness teachers coming to lead meditation. this was presented as secular practice, then after a few weeks the teacher was preaching trungpa to them. many in this group were natives with a long history of sexual abuse and cultural oppression. then one found out the trungpa history. she was very shaken that she was being lied to. classic bait and switch. when i told this story to a person presented to me as a senior djk advisor, and a blossoming personal friend, he called me a fanatic, and banned me from contact. this bait and switch to natives is racism. (i have also been personally subjected to racist remarks from people in the halifax sangha–and was told if i minded i was conceptualizing, these are mostly american who have a cartoon understanding of the franco=gaelic culture of much of nova scotia–from which i come. this is not a sign of insight if you ask me)

    i am giving the short strokes here. i could go on. suffice it to say that this is an example of how a lack of house cleaning after a major scandal breeds the next scandal.

    please excuse my terrible typing. i practiced law in the era of the dictaphone and typist. i am using a pseudonym here, but most will know who i am. a pseudo pseudonym.

    i am mulling leaving this sangha if all i can get as responses is banning and insults. haven’t made up my mind, but i have made up my mind that i don’t want any teachers who are committing criminal or civil violations, and i really don’t want to be part of a sangha that covers these offences up. anyone who was senior in the halifax trungpa sangha in the eighties and ninties was involved in a cover up, at the very least. that’s unethical. just because canadian authorities were very lax in enforcement of sexual offence laws at the time (and they were)is no excuse. open discussion is essential for a healthy group or you get a cult.

    • Members of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s sangha in Halifax are clearly in the wrong in denying the legacy of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s arrival there, the impact this had on the people of Halifax.

      This is a management problem.

      Members of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s sangha in Halifax are acting out their anxiety over their relationship with him.

      When the founder of a Buddhist franchise moves on to other projects this happens.

      This is an example of franchise Buddhism at its worst.

  3. nikolas kaugon

    what bothers me most is the apparant expectation that those who have no connection to the trungpa lineage, have to shut up and smile while they trumpet their guru, and the bait and switch through secular teachings to draw people in. in addition and above all the banning of asking any questions by the khyentse advisors who were recomended to me. wtf? i don’t want anything to do with trungpa . its the zombie cult, it rises from the dead no matter how many times it is killed. proof that many americans will buy anything as long as it flatters their egos. should i say trump-pa.

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