The Dalai Lama said that when a teacher commits ethical misconduct and disregards Buddhist ethics, students should make the misconduct public.
In a talk last week, the Dalai Lama addressed recent allegations of misconduct in Buddhist communities. In July, famed Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche was accused of longstanding abuse of many students. In response, Sogyal said he would be “taking a step back” from teaching. The Dalai Lama addressed Sogyal Rinpoche in his talk, saying “Sogyal Rinpoche, my very good friend. Now he is disgraced.”
His Holiness attributed ethical misconduct in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to the influence of Tibet’s traditional feudal system. He advised Buddhists not to indiscriminately accept whatever their teacher says. “That is totally wrong.”
His Holiness advised students to investigate teachings, and, if they find the teachings to be harmful, “You shouldn’t follow the lama’s teachings. Even Dalai Lama’s teachings. If you find some contradiction, you should not follow my teachings.”
When misconduct occurs, the Dalai Lama advised, Buddhists should make the misconduct known. “These people do not follow Buddhist advice, Buddhist teachings. Only thing you can do is make public — through newspaper, through radio. Make public.” His Holiness said that where abusive teachers may not pay heed to Buddhist teachings on ethical behavior, they will likely take notice if their face appears in the media.
The Buddhist Union of France also commented on the allegations against Sogyal Rinpoche this week, saying that Sogyal’s alleged actions are unjustifiable and not in accord with Buddhist ethics. The union suspended the memberships of Sogyal’s organization Rigpa France and center Lerab Ling.