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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. Visit rigpa.org to 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. Visit rigpa.org to read more about the lamas advising Rigpa’s Vision Board.

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. For details visit rigpa.org.

2 December 2017
Statement by Kathryn James, National Director, Rigpa Australia

In July this year, a number of allegations were brought against Sogyal Rinpoche, the then spiritual director of Rigpa. These have been widely shared in the media and on the internet, most recently in an article by David Leser published today.

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.

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 undertaking the following actions:

1. Setting up an independent investigation by a neutral third party into the various allegations that have been made. We expect to announce shortly further details of this process that will be a first step towards healing and reconciliation.
2. 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.
3. 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.
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.

As you would understand, it has been a time of reflection and contemplation about the future we would like to create. The Rigpa Board has been greatly encouraged by the warmth and genuine care and concern evident in the way students have come together to support each other. We also understand that each person needs to process these developments in their own time and we encourage people requiring more information or support to contact their local Rigpa Centre Manager.

Rigpa’s Vision and Mission show our commitment to an authentic Buddhist path of study and practice, as well as offering these to bring greater well being in society.

As always, Rigpa Centres in Australia and New Zealand continue to warmly offer people a place to study and practice meditation and the Buddhist teachings together. Please know that you are welcome to visit your Rigpa local centre at any time.

For all media enquiries contact:
Catherine Paul
contact@rigpa.org.au
0415 465 547

October 2017

We are fully implementing Rinpoche’s retirement as spiritual director and his having no further role in the management of the organisation. Meanwhile we await the results of the independent investigation into the allegations.

We will continue to post updates about plans for the organisation.

August 2017

On 11 August, Sogyal Rinpoche announced his retirement as spiritual director from all the organisations that bear the name of Rigpa in different countries around the world.

The decision follows a number of allegations brought against Sogyal Rinpoche, which have been widely shared on the internet. The governing boards and management teams of Rigpa have resolved to clarify the situation responsibly, in a way that is entirely consistent with ethical Buddhist values.

The following steps have been taken:

1. An independent investigation has been initiated by a neutral third party into the various allegations that have been made.

2. An international consultation process has been launched to establish both a code of conduct and a grievance process for Rigpa.

3. A new spiritual advisory group has been established 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.

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