Author Topic: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble  (Read 6905 times)

Ensapa

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Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« on: June 29, 2012, 01:07:45 PM »
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Lama sex abuse claims call Buddhist taboos into question
Allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche highlight the dangers of Buddhist injunctions against gossip and insistence on loyalty
 
Mary Finnigan
guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 July 2011 12.41 BST

An exiled Tibetan Buddhist nun prostrates around the main temple and the residence of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Photograph: Ashwini Bhatia/AP
In November 1994 an American woman known as Janice Doe filed a $10m lawsuit against the Tibetan lama Sogyal Rinpoche, charging him with sexual, mental and physical abuse. The case was dealt with out of court and Janice Doe signed a non-disclosure agreement in return for a cash settlement.

Sogyal denies allegations of abuse, but fresh evidence against him was recently aired in an investigative documentary called In the Name of Enlightenment, broadcast on Vision TV in Canada. A beautiful young woman identified as Mimi described an abusive sexual relationship. She was the first person claiming direct experience of Sogyal's exploitative attentions to go public since the 1994 lawsuit.

Sogyal (surname Lakar – Rinpoche is a title that means "precious one") is the frontman for a Tibetan Buddhist organisation called Rigpa, which has a worldwide reach with 130 centres in 41 countries. He has a bestselling book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, to his name and he starred alongside Keanu Reeves in the movie Little Buddha. Sogyal is a formidably successful guru – probably the best known Tibetan after the Dalai Lama. His trajectory into Buddhist superstardom suffered only a temporary setback following the Janice Doe lawsuit – despite the fact that lurid rumours about his sex life circulate on the internet with increasing volume and persistence.

The allegations raise a wider question: why are victims of sexual exploitation by charismatic religious leaders reluctant to denounce their abusers? In the Canadian documentary, Mimi highlights the Stockholm syndrome – a term used to describe the paradoxical reactions of individuals who bond with their abusers. "The person beating us, she says, "is also the only one giving us affection – and food and a roof over our heads."

Sociologist Amanda van Eck is deputy director of Inform, the cult information resource at the London School of Economics. She says fear is probably the main reason why women stay silent: "In some groups there has been fear of retribution," she says, "which means they don't want to speak publicly. In other cases, which may overlap with fear of retribution, they are fearful of negative consequences – damnation, of not being saved, of possession by evil spirits, of being attacked by negative forces and so on."

If the outside world has been demonised by cult leaders, Van Eck says, women may also be fearful that no one can be trusted.

Many women who have described abusive sexual relationships anonymously on internet forums refuse to come out of hiding because they want to move on, rather than relive traumatic periods in their lives. Some also feel a need to protect their families.

In my personal experience, there are two taboos in Buddhist organisations, both of which have merit and both of which can be used as manipulative tools. One of them is an injunction against gossip – useful when trying to establish a calm mental state, but also useful to prevent the circulation of critical comment.

The second is samaya – the bond of loyalty that is one of the key tenets of Tibetan Buddhism. It supports the relationship between teacher and neophyte, but it can be deployed unscrupulously as a threat – break your samaya and attract dire consequences to yourself and your loved ones.

Another factor is that acceptance into the inner circle around an important guru delivers high status within the organisation. Women are persuaded to view the master as a deity and to be compliant with his wishes and whims, to undertake a punishing workload and be available for sex on demand. They are separated from family and friends, discouraged from contact with the outside world and persuaded to see the organisation as family with the guru (confusingly as father-lover) in absolute power and control. By the time women realise they are being abused, exploited and embedded in a coercive cult, it is often too late for them to extricate themselves. Their investment is total and their chances of making lives for themselves beyond the organisation have dwindled into non-existence.

Whether or not Sogyal's relationships were abusive, as claimed, they raise another question: how does a short, overweight, Tibetan lama manage to attract beautiful young western women? The answer is rooted in the mystique of tantra – the only Buddhist tradition that includes sexual union in the path that leads to enlightenment. Professor Geoffrey Samuel from Cardiff University explains: "In the third initiation of the highest yoga tantra, sexual union is introduced as a parallel to the experience of enlightenment. It creates certain sensations that help towards experiencing the state of ultimate realisation – in other words Buddhahood."

But Samuel says that although this arcane version of sacred sex is present in Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, it should not be confused with the modern neo-tantra movement and nor is it appropriate for recent converts to Buddhism."People should have a health warning" he says. "An elderly guru seducing a young woman probably isn't doing it to assist her towards enlightenment."

Tibetans outside Tibet are refugees who feel constantly under threat from forces beyond their control. Their social conventions include a taboo against criticising lamas. The Dalai Lama is constrained by this and so too are the majority of other lamas teaching in the west. They have closed ranks around Sogyal, regardless of their misgivings about the allegations against him. A more cynical view of this apparent conspiracy of silence hinges on the fact that Sogyal pulls in a lot of money – some of which is channelled into Tibetan worthy causes.




It is sad to see that masters such as Sogyal Rinpoche getting embroiled in problems and also him insisting his students to be loyal to the lineage and center is a problem. And of course, the fact that teachings on samaya and Guru devotion is a territory that most teachers would not want to teach and this creates the causes for these misunderstandings to take place.

On the other hand, he is also the reincarnation of Desi Sangye Gyatso, the person who "killed" Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen...hmmm....

What do you guys think about these allegations?

Ensapa

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2012, 06:06:51 PM »
Here is another interesting, tho somewhat biased, viewpoint on the same issue. My question is, why are no Nyingma lamas speaking up against him? The Dalai Lama is not involved in a practice that takes consorts, why is his approval needed? would it not be a better idea to contact the current head of the Nyingma tradition instead, or one of Sogyal Rinpoche's Gurus and get an official statement of things instead of making wild guesses of this sort around there? The Dalai Lama is not really the pope. Perhaps, it would be very credible if a Ngakpa Nyingma master commented on this rather than the Dalai Lama, as the Dalai Lama is a monk and Sogyal Rinpoche is not.

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APRIL 28, 2012
The Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche: A Roaring Silence?

The author of this essay wishes to be anonymous but is known to the blog owner.

One of the questions asked by many since the long running saga of Sogyal has once again gathered pace is why hasn’t the Dalai Lama spoken out? Why is it, if he knows about the many allegations against Sogyal, that His Holiness doesn’t voice an opinion and and publicly condemn the Tibetan playboy?

Certainly, there exists a relationship between the two men: The Dalai Lama wrote the foreword to Sogyal’s (or Patrick Gaffney’s, depending on who you believe) ‘Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’ and, in 2008, Lerab Ling, Sogyal’s huge temple at Montpelier in France was officially inaugurated by him, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in attendance. Again, turn to the front of any of the Rgpa diaries of the past few years and you are greeted immediately by a picture of a smiling Dalai lama, along with prayers for his long life.

So why the roaring silence?

Actually, as anyone involved in Western Dharma politics over the last few decades will know, His Holiness HAS spoken out about this issue, making his own position very clear, and indeed has given clear and precise guidance on how we should act in response to Buddhist teachers in the West abusing their position of authority …

At a conference for Western Buddhist teachers held in Dharamsala n March 1993, at a time when rumours about Sogyal’s behaviour were reaching their first crescendo, the Dalai Lama repeatedly encouraged open criticism of such behaviour, even, when all else fails he said, to “name names in newspapers”. It was perhaps more than coincidence that, soon afterwards, in November 1994, an American woman known only as Janice Doe filed a $10m lawsuit against Sogyal charging him with inflicting emotional distress, breach of fiduciary duty and assault and battery; the lawsuit was ultimately settled out of court, allegedly for several millions of dollars.

The story didn’t end there however and,over the next few years more and more allegations of abuse emerged, leading to several articles in some of the most reputable UK broadsheets, numerous internet articles and websites, and even a television documentary. All of these went unchallenged: it seems that, by and large, Rigpa felt noble silence to be the best way to weather the continuing storm.Several commentators however interpreted Rigpa’s lack of a robust response as merely an admission of guilt.

As these allegations have spread and multiplied across the media, some have suggested it is not enough for the Dalai Lama to stand on the sidelines and issue instructions but that,rather, he should speak out specifically about Sogyal’s shenannigans, In other words, the Dalai Lama should take his own advice over the issue of Sogyal and abuse, and personally “Name names in newspapers’.

The ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ Defence

Some have chastised Sogyal’s critics, pointing out that there is no actual proof abuse has taken place and that, until it is proven, he should be treated as innocent. Such an appeal to ethical principles is not without precedent:we are all familiar with the addage,’innocent until proven guilty’. However, issues of guilt and innocence are decided, in England and Wales at least, at two judicial levels,criminal and civil.

According to criminal law, for the defendant  to be found guilty, the veracity of allegations must be proven ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ According to civil law veracity and guilt must be established ‘on the balance of probability’. Proving abuse is always difficult; the crime rarely occurs in public and, because it is often a case of one persons word against another, proving it occurred ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ is almost impossible.

On the other hand, where there are multiple plaintiffs, a joint, or ‘class action’ can be instigated and the possibility of a guilty verdict becomes a realistic one. In Sogyal’s case, the universality of the internet has ensured that a number of alleged victims have begun to communicate and it would seem that the spectre of a class action looms ever closer.

More importantly, the fact that there are multiple allegations, means that a guilty verdict according to civil criteria seems thoroughly appropriate in Sogyal’s case. After all, if one person cries wolf then there can be reasonable doubt that such a wolf exists. But if the whole village starts screaming …

The point is that in Sogyal’s case, the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ argument is a thoroughly lame defence. The sheer number of allegations would certainly seem to indicate, ‘on the balance of probability’ that the alleged abuse did take place. It is of little surprise then that, apart from Sogyal’s supporters, the vast majority of those with a knowledge of the issue consider the allegations to be true. Why then has His Holiness not spoken out?

The Dalai Lama is Not the Pope

It has been argued in his defence that appeals to the Dalai Lama’s authority are misguided since, despite popular perceptions, he in fact holds no official role within his religious tradition: he is certainly ‘not the Pope of Buddhism’. In fact, there are numerous Buddhist traditions across the world and within these further divisions into schools and sects. The XIV Dalai Lama is a Tibetan Buddhist for instance. Within Tibetan Buddhism there are four main sects, Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug and within these, there are numerous further sub sects His Holiness is a follower of the Gelug tradition in particular and, significantly, not its head. Far from being the seniormost Buddhist in the world then, he is in reality, a follower within one sect of only one of a number of Buddhist traditions that grace this planet. From this perspective, and since he is not even a follower of the same sect as Sogyal, it seems quite appropriate for him to remain silent on the issue.

Nevertheless, despite his lack of official status, it is certainly the case that he is considered de facto leader of Tibetan Buddhism and even, in the eyes of some, the whole of the Buddhist faith. In such a situation, and where Sogyal has very publically relied on the Dalai Lama’s patronage to promote his own projects, it seems entirely appropriate for him to speak out. So why the continued silence?

The Issue of Tibetan Unity

Throughout Tibetan history, political control of the country fell, at various times, to leaders from each of the four sects. Since the seventeenth century, at the time of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, this responsibility lay in the hands of the Gelug.

Unsurprisingly, the issue of which religious sect held political control of the region was a divisive one and there appear to have been a number of long running conflicts between sects and their monasteries right down to the time of the Chinese invasion. Indeed, in an interview with the current Dalai Lama for his book ‘The Dalai Lama and the Demon’ Roberto Bultrini reveals that His Holiness believes that the issue of disunity between the sects was a significant contributory factor to the downfall of Tibet and one which led to the Chinese entering the far eastern reaches of Tibet (which were only nominally under the control of the Gelug) without initially encountering significant resistance.

Subsequently, unity between the sects has been a concern for the Dalai Lama, as well as being a significant tool with which the Chinese have attempted to manipulate the image of Tibet and His Holiness internationally, most notably in the present with their open and covert support for activities of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).

At an interview with Tibetans at Wembley in 1999, His Holiness chastised his kinsmen for referring to themselves as ‘Gelugpas’ or ‘Kagyupas’, followers of the different sects within Tibetan Buddhism. Rather, he emphasised that they should see themselves as Tibetans and as Buddhists, focusing on similarities rather than their differences. This was a matter, he declared, that lay at the very heart of the continued existence of Tibetan culture.

Perhaps the greatest animosity between followers of the different sects in pre diaspora Tibet was that between the Gelug and the Nyingma, an animosity that resulted in the destruction of Nyingma images and scriptures and even attacks on their monasteries in the 1930s and 40s, at the behest of the NKT forefather Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo.

Throughout his later life, the Dalai Lama has worked hard to reconcile these two traditions: promoting worship of Guru Rinpoche among all Tibetans, he being a patron saint of both Tibet and the Nyingma, while he himself has been seen to be studying and meditating on Nyingma doctrines, and even taking the great Nyingma master Dilgo Khyentse as one of his root gurus. All of these actions have done much to repair the damage that had been done to the relationship between the two sects down the centuries.

One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back

Sogyal is a follower of the Nyingma sect. As well as this, he is a member of one of Tibets most important families, the Lakar. The Lakar have been benefactors to all the major Tibetan sects for generations, in particular over recent generations, the Nyingma. Again, Sogyal also has close links with the family of  the Nyingma lama, Urgyen Tulku, descendants of the great Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, one of the most important figures in the history of the Nyingma sect. Down the years, Sogyal’s work in the West has led to the sect as a whole’s revival. Without his influence, there can be little doubt that the Nyingma sect would not have achieved the status it today holds.

In such a situation, for the Dalai Lama to speak out and publicly condemn Sogyal would be disastrous at many different levels. Firstly, much of the work that he has done to repair relations between the Gelug and the Nyingma would be undone. Indeed, to disassociate himself from one of the Nyingma’s most prominent representatives in the West could potentially alienate thousands of followers of Tibetan Buddhism (many of whom are also supporters of the Tibetan cause) at a stroke.

As well as immediately causing divisions within Tibetan Buddhism, the impact of such a denunciation could have major repercussions among Western converts, repercussions which could lead to their losing faith, abandoning their new found faith or even at worst, assuming the mantle of footsoldiers in a revival of the internecine disputes which eventually brought about the downfall of Buddhism within Tibet.

Again, for the Dalai Lama to denounce such a senior Buddhist figure as Sogyal could have major repercussions for the whole of Buddhism internationally, causing both a loss of face and a loss of finance that could affect millions for many generations to come. One need only look at the situation the Roman Catholic Church now finds itself in, despite its vain attempts at openess.

While the Dalai Lama clearly condemns abuse then, to act in a way that would be to the detriment of innumerable beings and to Buddhism, for this generation and many generations to come, would be folly. To expect him to condemn Sogyals actions when the price could be so great for the future of Buddhism and mankind is a foolish expectation. Should the whole world really have to pay for the negative actions of one deviant Tibetan? Haven’t people already suffered enough?

Ringo Starr

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2018, 03:05:12 PM »
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On the other hand, he is also the reincarnation of Desi Sangye Gyatso, the person who "killed" Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen...hmmm....

What do you guys think about these allegations?

Page 94 of Trijang Rinpoche's Music Delighting says:
"On the thirteenth of the fifth month, Desi Sonam Chopel's brother named Depa Norbu or Nangso Norbu, in league with the evil Desi (Sonam Chopel), under pretext of illness, came secretly to where Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was staying in the large bedroom of the house where he was born, called 'ga kha sa pa'xxviii, with the intention of killing him. No matter how hard he tried to stab him with his weapon, however, it would not penetrate the skin, so he stuffed a silk scarf down his throat until he died."

You've got the wrong Desi. It was Desi Sonam Chopel and his brother Depa Norbu who planned and carried out the murder.

Drolma

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2018, 03:14:11 AM »
The sex scandals of the Tibetan lamas and Buddhist teachers are very damaging to the spreading of Tibetan Buddhism. Just look at how many people have lost their faith in the Catholic churches when so many sex scandals were exposed. The sex scandal is a big no-no for any religion.

The CTA claims they are preserving their culture and Tibetan Buddhism but yet they kept quiet about the sex scandals. They don't have any public notice to warn people of these sex scandal lamas, and they still give them endorsement indirectly by granting them audiences with the Dalai Lama. When someone who is interested to learn about Tibetan Buddhism reads these sex scandal news, they will be so traumatised that they will not want to pursue on this path. I don't think the CTA sees this.

It is not difficult to see the CTA is not doing what they are supposed to do, i.e. to protect the people and preserve the precious culture and faith. On the other hand, China knows how a bad lama or Buddhist teacher can destroy a lineage. Therefore, they implemented an online system where the public can do a search on a reincarnated lama to check the lama's authenticity. This is a way to protect the people.

Alex

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2018, 01:58:35 AM »
The sex scandals of the Tibetan lamas and Buddhist teachers are very damaging to the spreading of Tibetan Buddhism. Just look at how many people have lost their faith in the Catholic churches when so many sex scandals were exposed. The sex scandal is a big no-no for any religion.

The CTA claims they are preserving their culture and Tibetan Buddhism but yet they kept quiet about the sex scandals. They don't have any public notice to warn people of these sex scandal lamas, and they still give them endorsement indirectly by granting them audiences with the Dalai Lama. When someone who is interested to learn about Tibetan Buddhism reads these sex scandal news, they will be so traumatised that they will not want to pursue on this path. I don't think the CTA sees this.

It is not difficult to see the CTA is not doing what they are supposed to do, i.e. to protect the people and preserve the precious culture and faith. On the other hand, China knows how a bad lama or Buddhist teacher can destroy a lineage. Therefore, they implemented an online system where the public can do a search on a reincarnated lama to check the lama's authenticity. This is a way to protect the people.

If only His Holiness the Dalai Lama will say something about this, then this whole situation can be prevented and fewer women will be abused. According to INDEPENDENT, His Holiness told them that he knows about the sexual abuse allegations since the 1990's and it is not something new. This is ridiculous. The man who is being regarded as Buddha of Compassion does not have compassion for those women at all?

Why will he let those lamas to abuse those women and he just keep quiet and watch? That is very sickening on how he is willing to protect those evil lamas and let them abuse the name of Buddhism to do such evil actions.

This is the link to the article where His Holiness told the media he knows about the sexual abuse since the 1990's.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/dalai-lama-sexual-abuse-allegations-buddhist-teachers-assault-a8540076.html

Tracy

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2019, 10:02:43 PM »
I am quite surprised that the Dalai Lama knew about the sex abuse long ago but he did not do anything. This is so disappointing, how can he cover up for the sex abuser and let the victims suffer? He shows no compassion for the victims at all.

The lamas who are involved in the sex scandal are famous lamas who have a lot of supporters, especially rich supporters. Is it because the CTA and the Dalai Lama did not want to lose the rich supporters that is why they keep quiet? Money is more important than making sure the religion is not tainted by scandal like this, how sad.

Apart from covering up these high lamas, the CTA also has a close relationship with a cult that sexually abused its followers. All they have to pay to get an endorsement from the Dalai Lama is merely USD1 million. This is how the CTA is 'selling' the high lamas for money. The CTA will only do something that can bring them power and money.

Drolma

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2019, 06:48:31 PM »
It is really disappointing that the Dalai Lama knows about it and he did not do anything. It seems like he wants to cover it up. He had met up with some of the victims who were sexually abused but he did not show much sympathy. Was he showing no respect for women?

As we are in the degenerate time, many people will commit crimes in the name of religion because it is easier to control people.  I am not surprised the CTA is covering up these lamas as these lamas are rich and they have rich sponsors. Money is all the CTA wants, they don't care about the purity of the lineage.

Again, we cannot trust the CTA, they are not protecting the welfare of spiritual practitioners. They like to claim Buddhism is their culture but what they do is always against the teaching of Buddha. How has the CTA preserved Buddhism if they themselves are showing a bad example to people?

SabS

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2019, 04:37:31 AM »
It is amazing that Sogyal Rinpoche is allowed to get away with the harm that he had inflicted upon his students in the name of Dharma practice. And the most amazing thing is the 14th Dalai Lama, one that is suppose to uphold the virtues of Tibetan Buddhism kept quiet even after knowing of Sogyal Rinpoche's exploit 20 years ago when he was sued. Why is that? In Catholicism, the Pope had been held accountable for the many sexual misconducts of their priests and so why is not the Dalai Lama not held accountable. After all, he is the God King that all practitioners look up to and his word is the authority to be executed without question. Somehow it is just fishy to read of Sogyal Rinpoche's crimes without even a word of reprimand from the Tibetan Leaders. This really brings to mind with the question of whether they are being paid off with "monetary contributions" from Sogyal Rinpoche. Greed over upholding pure ethics.

dsnowlion

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Re: Sogyal Rinpoche in trouble
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2019, 01:28:08 PM »
Sogyal Rinpoche has passed away! The BBC news report is quite honestly blunt about it. To the victims, this may appear to be a relief?

Mary Finnigan, who helped launch Lakar's career in London in the 1970s and recently co-authored the book Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism, told the BBC that he was a charismatic and abusive "cult leader".

"I sympathise with everyone who is bereaved by his passing but have to say that his death does not alter my feelings about his life," she said.

I wonder if his incarnation will really return? Karma applies to everyone including Rinpoche's, especially when they have not gained enlightenment. I don't think Sogyal has. It's great for his students to be loyal and to see him as a living Buddha, we are always asked to have that view in Vajrayana Buddhism, but really, it doesn't mean he is actually a Buddha, no? So yeah, wonder where he will end up?

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Tibetan Buddhist teacher accused of sexual abuse dies
28 August 2019

Sogyal Lakar was widely seen as the best known Tibetan Buddhist teacher after the Dalai Lama. Sogyal Lakar, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher accused of widespread physical and sexual abuse, has died aged 72.

Lakar, better known as Sogyal Rinpoche, sold millions of books and was widely seen as the best known Tibetan Buddhist teacher after the Dalai Lama.

But allegations of physical and sexual abuse followed Lakar, although he was never found guilty of any crimes.

An investigation commissioned by his group concluded that some followers were abused by him.

A statement on his Facebook page said that Lakar died in Thailand on Wednesday after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He had been receiving treatment for colon cancer.

Born in Tibet in 1947, Lakar was believed by many to be the incarnation of Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa, a teacher of the 13th Dalai Lama.

He studied comparative religion at Cambridge University and went on to amass a huge following. His book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, has sold more than 3 million copies.

But accusations of abusive behaviour followed Lakar.

In 1994 a woman filed a $10 million (£8.1 million) lawsuit against Lakar for sexual, mental and physical abuse. The case was settled out of court.

His reputation came crashing down two years ago when further allegations emerged of his abusive behaviour.

An independent investigation by a lawyer commissioned by Rigpa, a Buddhist organisation started by Lakar, found that he had committed serious abuses.

"Some students ... have been subjected to serious physical, sexual and emotional abuse by him," the report stated, adding that senior members of the group failed to act despite being aware of the accusations.

Despite the allegations, many of Lakar's followers stayed loyal to him.

"I know he will continue to guide us with wisdom and most importantly his love," one follower wrote on Facebook after his death.

But Mary Finnigan, who helped launch Lakar's career in London in the 1970s and recently co-authored the book Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism, told the BBC that he was a charismatic and abusive "cult leader".

"I sympathise with everyone who is bereaved by his passing but have to say that his death does not alter my feelings about his life," she said.

"He abused an ancient spiritual tradition in order to indulge his lust for power, money and sexual gratification."

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-49505098