Sogyal Rinpoche

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Sogyal Rinpoche

Sogyal Rinpoche (1947 – 28 August 2019) was a Tibetan Dzogchen Lama of the Nyingma tradition. He taught for over 30 years. He travelled widely in Europe, America, Australia and Asia.[1]

He was the founder and spiritual leader of Rigpa, which is an international network of over 100 Buddhist centres and groups in 23 countries around the world. He is also the author of the best-selling book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which has been printed in 30 languages and 56 countries.[2]

Rinpoche often spoke at major conferences in all areas of society, including medicine and healing, education, dialogue between religions, movements for peace and non-violence, the world of business and leadership, and the field of serving the dying and hospice care.

Early life[change | change source]

Sogyal Rinpoche was born in 1947 in the region of Kham in Eastern Tibet. Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö says that he is the reincarnation of Tertön Sogyal, a teacher to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. Jamyang Khyentse raised him as a son and made sure he got good training.

When things got bad in Kham, Khyentse Rinpoche and his young student went to Central Tibet and Lhasa. In 1955, they met Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. They then went to India. They settled in Gangtok at the invitation of the king of Sikkim.

Education[change | change source]

Rinpoche went to Catholic School in Kalimpong. Then he went to study at a university in Delhi before coming to the West.[3] In 1971, he was granted a place to study comparative religion at Trinity College, Cambridge as a visiting scholar.[4] He continued to study with many masters of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, especially His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Controversy[change | change source]

In 1994, a $10 million[5] civil lawsuit was filed against Sogyal Rinpoche. It was alleged that he had used his position as a spiritual leader to induce one of his female students to have sexual relations with him. The complaint included accusations of infliction of emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty,[6] as well as assault and battery.[7][8] The lawsuit was settled out of court. Related allegations were later introduced by journalist Mary Finnigan, who was also the main author of the original article in 1995.[9][10][11]

Rinpoche teaching in Lerab Ling, France, 2006

Teaching career[change | change source]

Rinpoche soon began teaching in Paris. He often translated for His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. He also went with Dudjom Rinpoche to the United States in 1976.

In the summer of 1977, he started a centre in London, which he called Dzogchen Orgyen Chöling. Many great masters taught there: Dudjom Rinpoche, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, Gyalwang Karmapa, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and others.

In 1979, Sogyal Rinpoche chose the name Rigpa for his work. It means "the innermost, essential nature of mind".[12] Rigpa soon set up a schedule of teaching events, referred to as retreats, with Sogyal Rinpoche and other teachers, with teachings in France every summer, California at Thanksgiving, Germany in Winter, followed by Myall Lakes in Australia, and then England at Easter. The first winter event at Kirchheim in Germany was in December 1986, retreats in Tiona Park in Australia began in 1989, and the first Thanksgiving retreat in the US was in Oakland in 1988.

In 1987, Rinpoche became spiritual director of the centre in County Cork in the west of Ireland which was to become Dzogchen Beara, Rigpa’s first long-term retreat centre. In 1991, Sogyal Rinpoche opened the retreat centre of Lerab Ling near Montpellier in southern France. The first three-month retreat was held there in 1992. A centre in Berlin named Dharma Mati was opened in October 2007.

Abuse allegations[change | change source]

In 2017, a letter revealed that Rinpoche had physically and sexually abused many of his students dating back to the 1990s.[13][14]

Death[change | change source]

Rinpoche died of a pulmonary embolism caused by colorectal cancer on 28 August 2019 at a hospital in Thailand at the age of 72.[15][16]

Publications[change | change source]

Books[change | change source]

  • Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, ISBN 0-06-250834-2
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, Dzogchen and Padmasambhava, Rigpa Publications, 1990, ISBN 0-96-248840-2
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse After Glimpse, ISBN 978-0712662376
  • Sogyal Rinpoche, The Future of Buddhism, Rider & Co, 2002, ISBN 0-71-261564-4

Articles and contributions[change | change source]

  • Himalaya: Personal Stories of Grandeur, Challenge and Hope, National Geographic Books, 2006
  • Jonathon Cott, On the Sea of Memory: A Journey from Forgetting to Remembering, Random House, 2005, ISBN 1-40-006058-3
  • Reginald A. Ray (ed.), The Pocket Tibetan Buddhist Reader, Shambhala Publications, Boston, Mass. 2004, ISBN 1-57-062851-3
  • Kathryn Meeske (Author), Sandra Scales (Photographer), Sacred Voices of the Nyingma Masters, Padma Publishing, California, 2004, ISBN 1-88-184735-7
  • Charles A. Tart, Living a Mindful Life, A Handbook for Living in the Present Moment, Shambhala Publications, Boston, Mass. 1994, ISBN 978-1570620034

Forewords and introductions[change | change source]

  • Biography of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (forthcoming).
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mind in Comfort and Ease, Wisdom Publications, 2007, ISBN 0-86-171493-8
  • Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, North Atlantic Books, 2005, ISBN 9-62-734156-8
  • Don Farber, Portraits of Tibetan Buddhist Masters, University of California Press 2005, ISBN 0-52-023973-3
  • Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje (translated by Richard Barron), A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage (A Spiritual History of the Teachings on Natural Great Perfection), Padma Publications, 2005, ISBN 1-88-184741-1
  • Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Fearless Simplicity: The Dzogchen Way of Living Freely in a Complex World, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, Nepal, 2003, ISBN 9-62-734148-7
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, Snow Lion Publications, 2000, ISBN 1-55-939219-3
  • Khenpo Namdrol The Practice of Vajrakilaya, Snow Lion Publications, 1999, ISBN 1-55-939103-0
  • Christine Longaker, Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying, Arrow Books, 1998, ISBN 0-09-917692-0
  • Mordicai Gerstein, The Mountains of Tibet, Harper Trophy, 1989, ISBN 0-06-443211-4

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. " Sogyal Rinpoche". Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  2. " The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying". Archived from the original on 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2008-01-17.
  3. Bachelor, Stephen. The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture. London: Aquarian Press/ Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1994. p.79
  4. Bachelor, Stephen. The Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture. London: Aquarian Press, Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1994. p.79
  5. Finnigan, Mary. "Sexual healing", The Guardian, 10 January 1995, p. 19
  6. a legal or ethical relationship of trust between two or more parties.
  7. Lattin, Don. "Best-selling Buddhist author accused of sexual abuse" Archived 2015-04-15 at the Wayback Machine, The San Francisco Free Press, 10 November 1994.
  8. Brown, Mick. "The Precious One", Telegraph Magazine, 2 February 1995, pp. 20-29.
  9. Guardian, Mary Finnigan. "Lama sex abuse claims call Buddhist taboos into question"
  10. The Sunday Times, Gabrielle Monaghan, "Bad karma: Buddhist leader faces claims of sex exploitation made by woman who was asked to undress"
  11. "Randy Sogyal, Best-Selling Lecher - The Writings of Mary Finnigan". Archived from the original on 2014-11-29. Retrieved 2015-01-25.
  12. 'The History of Rigpa', The Rigpa Journal, volume 2
  13. Sperry, Rod Meade; Littlefair, Sam (20 July 2017). "Letter to Sogyal Rinpoche from current and ex-Rigpa members details abuse allegations". Lion’s Roar.
  14. "Unedited Letter to Sogyal Laker from Rigpa Students, 14 July, 2017" (PDF).
  15. "Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche dead, age 72". Archived from the original on 2019-08-28. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  16. Craig Lewis (28 August 2019). "Former Rigpa Head Sogyal Rinpoche Passes Away in Thailand". Retrieved 28 August 2019.

Other websites[change | change source]