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The aftershocks of the abuse by Sogyal Rinpoche

In 2017, evidence of ongoing sexual abuse and violence by Sogyal Rinpoche, a well-known Tibetan Buddhist master, sent a shockwave through the Buddhist world. His Rigpa community became divided into supporters and opponents. Sogyal stepped down as their teacher and fled to Thailand.

In this unique documentary we see poignant testimony of victims who brought the story to light. They share their insights on how traditional Buddhist teachings on guru devotion were used to legitimize the sexual abuse and violence by Sogyal, and how a culture of secrecy was maintained by an ‘inner circle’ of longtime students.

Independent investigations confirmed the allegations, but the Rigpa organization has never admitted to the abuse. W¬hen Sogyal passed away in 2019, Rigpa declared that he had reached enlightenment, and many Tibetan masters supported that view. Some openly demonized the victims who spoke out. However, in this documentary we also hear the Dalai Lama and Lama Tenzin Palmo giving their perspective on what is, sadly, just one of many cases of abuse in the Buddhist world.

How do current Rigpa students who admit to the extreme hypocrisy of Sogyal deal with this? Is there a future for the path of guru devotion, free from its cultural trappings of feudalism and patriarchy?

  • Year
    2020
  • Runtime
    1 hour 28
  • Director
    Jaap Verhoeven