A False Narrative (Part 1)

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

20 minutes

I was privy to a disturbing incident the other day. It involved Michael Ritman, a Dutch devotee of Sogyal Rinpoche († 2019), the sexually abusive Lama from the Kham region of Tibet. Ritman helped translate his guru’s best-selling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying into Dutch. Having proved his mettle, the Dutch branch of Sogyal’s organization Rigpa delegated Ritman to become chairman of the Buddhist Union of the Netherlands (BUN). Later, when a notorious enabler of Sogyal had to step down, he became a board member of the European Buddhist Union (EBU) too. Not long ago, in an apparent bid to detract attention from his own conflicted interests, Ritman misused his power to prohibit critics from participating in a symposium hosted by the Free University of Amsterdam.

Note from the author: For this article, I have based myself on personal observations and testimonies that were corroborated in various forms by sources who were directly involved in or witnessed the events. Before publication, I sent a draft to the student, Michael Ritman, Henk Blezer, and Oane Bijlsma so that they could correct any factual errors. I have received no response from Henk Blezer. This article makes use of numeric footnotes that open on hover and take you to the footnote at the bottom of the page on click. Clicking the blue thumbnail at the end of the listed footnote takes you back to where it was inserted into the text. All English translations of Dutch sources are mine, except where indicated.

The Dutch Minister of Justice has recognized the BUN as the government’s formal liaison with the Buddhist community as a whole.1 In this capacity, the BUN maintains formal relations with the Free University (FU, ‘Vrije Universiteit’ in Dutch). The FU is a public funded denominational university, founded in the 19th century. It hosts a Buddhist seminary that provides the compulsory chaplaincy training of civil servants nominated by the BUN. Its graduates provide spiritual care to the small number of Buddhist inmates of prisons or servicemen and -women of the Dutch military.2

Ritman asked the FU to finance, organize, and facilitate a symposium about sexual abuse in Buddhist communities. Assistant Professor Henk Blezer, the academic co-ordinator of the Buddhist chaplaincy training, agreed to organize a closed meeting at the FU with the help of an intern. He asked Oane Bijlsma, who is a former Rigpa member herself, to speak at the symposium.3

Groomed by the Inner Circle

Bijlsma was groomed to become a member of Sogyal’s inner circle, so she experienced his abusive behaviour up close. After she left Rigpa, Bijlsma attested to her former guru’s misconduct in national and international media. She also gave testimony before the Dalai Lama during his visit to the Netherlands in 2018.4 Bijlsma’s observations were corroborated by other Rigpa apostates and an investigative report by lawyer Karen Baxter of Lewis Silkin, a top 100 British law firm retained by Rigpa.5

When he heard about the invite, Ritman became furious. Fuming, he told Blezer that his board would move to ban Bijlsma from the symposium. Getting into a tantrum, he even threatened to cancel the symposium altogether and find another partner for his plans, if the FU would hold to its decision to invite Bijlsma.

Apparently, it was of no concern to Ritman that the student had spent months on his internship, and that CLUE+, the interfaculty Research Institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage of the FU had financed the symposium.6 It did not come to a cancellation, however, because Blezer did not await the board’s decision. He contacted Bijlsma right away and counselled her not to appear, insisting that he could not guarantee her safety during the symposium.

Bijlsma abided by Blezer’s last-minute advice but shared her story with a Dutch journalist who investigated the matter. She also filed a complaint with Dean Ruard Ganzevoort of the Faculty of Religion and Theology at the FU. Blezer responded to Bijlsma’s objections by claiming that he had granted the BUN’s board a blanket right of veto. He also said that Bijlsma chose to withdraw entirely of her own volition. Even so, Blezer himself reported the BUN’s exercise of its supposed ‘veto right’ to the Dean as well.

‘Power and Abuse’

The BUN-symposium ‘Power and Abuse: Sexual Abuse in Buddhist Communities in the Netherlands’ was held at the FU on February 1-2, 2020.7 Disclosure: thanks to my large archive and the expertise I gained while investigating sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since 2012, I became involved with the FU-BUN symposium at an early stage. I provided the organizers with publications and broadcasts on sexually abusive Buddhist teachers that the participants used as study matter.

As it turned out, I was not welcome either. In retrospect, I suppose that I was affected by a veto too. Since I have witnessed some of the events up close, I filed my own complaint with the Dean, mainly to corroborate Bijlsma’s story.

Unanswered questions abound in this case. Why did the Free University  grant a blanket veto right to the BUN? And why did it give in to the demands of the staunch advocate of a sexually abusive and violent Tibetan Lama? Will the BUN member organizations exercise effective oversight, honouring principles of good governance ?

But, first of all: how did it happen?

Victims and Survivors

Since one of his students would help organize the symposium as a Master internship, Henk Blezer asked me if I could help him get started. Seeing some of my rare archival material up close only increased the student’s enthusiasm for the internship, so we set to work. Our first thought was that I might appeal to some of the victims and survivors of abusive Buddhist teachers I am in touch with, to ask them to bear witness during the symposium’s workshops.

The idea made sense: reporting sexual abuse is impossible without a longstanding rapport that empowers victims and survivors and helps them find their own voice. Beyond providing moral support, my ready knowledge of various cases and the archival material would help corroborate and contextualize their personal testimony with indisputable facts. And, above all: nothing sobers starry-eyed Western Buddhists more than meeting victims and survivors in person. Blezer and the student agreed that my presence would be a prerequisite for any such contribution by the victims and survivors I work with.

On the condition of confidentiality, I suggested the names of various sources who have previously shared their stories with media, and who might be willing and able to bear witness in such a delicate setting too. One of those names was Oane Bijlsma, who as mentioned above was groomed by Sogyal’s inner circle in the early 2010s. Other candidates were survivors of the Thai Vipassana teacher Mettavihari, the faux lama Gerhard Mattioli, the Tibetan Namkha Rinpoche, and so on.8

I never approached my sources with the actual request, however. The implementation of our idea was immediately blocked by BUN-chairman Ritman. Blezer told me that Ritman had said that some of the symposium’s participants might feel “unsafe” in my presence. With this, obviously, Ritman did not refer to the victims and survivors I would have accompanied. He must have thought of certain representatives of BUN-members instead—and, perhaps, of himself.

Playing Down Abuse

Michael Ritman (1961) became the chairman of the BUN in 2014, thereby securing the seat on the board left by Rigpa-stalwart Daan Meerburg.9 Soon after his inauguration he learned about my ongoing collaboration with investigative reporter Bas de Vries of the Dutch Eight O’clock News. De Vries and I first exposed the decades-long sexual abuse by the faux monk Mettavihari.10

I have collaborated with De Vries and numerous other investigative reporters on Buddhist abuse stories ever since. Our efforts led to a steady stream of news reports by mainstream media in the Netherlands and abroad. In 2019, I co-authored a book with the British journalist Mary Finnigan: Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche.11 Ritman’s understanding of his job, however, had him play down the abuse every which way.

‘This is a theme that comes along once in a while, in churches and sports clubs as well,’ he said in the national newspaper De Volkskrant in 2015.12 About the abuse by Mettavihari in the 1970s through 2000s, Ritman said then in the daily Trouw: ‘He was called to account [for his past actions] and he promised to improve his life. We believe he did. This happened in the nineties.’.13 Yet another newspaper quoted: ‘For Chairman Michael Ritman, the allegations about Mettavihari were “completely new.” The BUN will continue to discuss this with members, he says, “but we are not going to blame anyone. That is not what the BUN is for. We will see if we can learn something from this or support someone.”‘14

Months before the abuses of his own guru Sogyal became worldwide breaking news in 2017, Ritman spoke of ‘incidents’ and allayed the fears of newspaper readers thus: ‘the efforts made are enough. (…) There are no more issues now.’15 After the allegations of physical assault and sexual abuse in a letter by eight members of Sogyal’s inner circle became public, Ritman let himself be quoted by De Telegraaf: ‘He calls the contents of the leaked letter “quite shocking. We must at least be held accountable for ignoring signals in the past.”‘16 Even so, Ritman told De Volkskrant in 2018: ‘The Buddhist Union of the Netherlands has been actively involved in the theme of sexual abuse since 2015. The BUN’s position is that every place that offers Buddhist study and practice must be safe. We highly regret any form of abuse in any context.’17

Arbitrary Demarcation

Another board member, Reinier Tilanus, evidently trusting their “discussions” with the Dutch Rigpa branch blindly, said that the BUN had ‘confidence in the steps being taken in the Netherlands. We have no reason to believe that Rigpa members accuse others than Sogyal Rinpoche of reprehensible acts. As far as is known, no abuses within Rigpa have been committed in the Netherlands. A discussion must be conducted based on the facts brought up by the involved, not on the basis of indirect testimony. So, the BUN board chooses to support Rigpa in the Netherlands in a process that is difficult and painful for all of the involved. (…) We have every confidence that Rigpa is capable of conducting its own investigation and entering into discussions with its members. We are a Dutch organization and will not conduct a separate investigation into what happened in other countries. Our responsibility lies with our members in the Netherlands alone.’18

Many Buddhist communities in the Netherlands are branches of large international organizations. To arbitrarily demarcate the purview of the BUN’s accountability, Tilanus wilfully ignored some incontestable facts: numerous Dutch devotees held retreats in Sogyal’s French temple Lerab Ling and the Dzogchen Beara retreat centre in Ireland. Highly corroborated testimonies allege that Sogyal sexually abused, physically assaulted, and swindled followers out of money wherever he went. Rigpa organizations everywhere, the Netherlands included, enabled Sogyal’s abusive behaviour by proselytizing interested newcomers and devotees, summoning volunteers, soliciting financial support, and hosting retreats.

All Rigpa administrators and instructors, the Dutch included, were bearers of a culture of silence. Financial documents prove that the Dutch branch is one of the most profitable Rigpa corporations. It is of the few Rigpa communities outside France that Sogyal visited yearly. To this day, a disproportionate number of Sogyal’s advocates and administrators of his international organization are Dutch Rigpa members.

Michael Ritman himself became Sogyal’s follower in 2004. When the revelations about Dominique Side’s enabling behaviour made Sogyal’s erstwhile superior of the French temple Lerab Ling untenable as a board member of the European Buddhist Union (EBU), Ritman took her place. At a time when the Union Bouddhiste de France (UBF) suspended the membership of Lerab Ling and Rigpa France awaiting ‘favourable developments,’ Ritman salvaged Rigpa-champions’ presence on the EBU-council.19

50 Percent

Since 2015, I have kept an up to date list of BUN member organizations and teachers who either have or have had spiritual leaders or teachers—often their communities’ founders—who were discredited by public allegations of various forms of sexual misconduct. In Septemer 2020, my count stopped at 24 of the 47 current members of the BUN—a disconcerting 51 percent. 20

When the national news network NOS, having corroborated my data, referred to the list online, Ritman swung into action. The BUN put out a statement: ‘Based on the underlying data, it concerns twelve different spiritual leaders. Apparently, teachers of teachers, or teachers of teachers of current teachers, are counted as well, even if they have never been involved in the organization named. The list turns out to be about six teachers who had been directly or indirectly active in the Netherlands in the past ten years. The accusations vary in degrees between a deplorable slip-up, inappropriate relationships, sexual harassment and structural abuse.’ (October 11, 2018).21

On Ritman’s view, the past abuses by the Buddhist leaders Chögyam Trungpa († 1987), Ösel Tendzin († 1990), Joshu Sasaki († 2014), and Sangharakshita († 2018), for instance, are not worth noting. Why not? Because, supposedly, they were not directly involved with the Dutch branches of their international communities. Evidently on Ritman’s view, the decades-long sexual abuse by Mettavihari and others is not worth mentioning either if it happened more than ten years ago.

Clearly, these criteria amount to yet another arbitrary delimitation of the BUN’s accountability. Witness his public posturing, Ritman apparently finds it hard to accept that sexual abuse is endemic in rather than incidental to a wide variety of Western Buddhist traditions, lineages, and institutions. Evidently, he remains oblivious to the well-established fact that the silent suffering caused by sexual trauma can outlast Buddhist perpetrators’ careers and lifetimes by decades.

Keeping its Pace

Because of its formal recognition by the Dutch government, the Minister of Justice holds the BUN primarily responsible for the prevention of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers.22 Under Ritman’s leadership, however, the union has kept its pace. In 2017, it retained the services of a ‘confidential advisor unwanted manners’. BUN-members were repeatedly admonished to refer to this confidential advisor and publish an ethical code of conduct on their websites, but their response was painfully slow.

In November 2018, therefore, the general meeting adopted a resolution that requires members to publish their ethical code of conduct within two years and refer to the BUN’s confidential advisor within six months. The following general meeting was held in April 2019. At that time, 14 out of the 45 BUN-members still failed to mention the BUN’s confidential advisor on their websites. According to the meeting’s minutes, the board response to a question about the substance of ethical codes was: ‘The last time, we decided to focus on quantity first. We can look deeper later.’

Despite Ritman’s insistence that he has championed ethical policies and codes of conduct since 2015, the BUN itself still does not have one.23

It has no grievance procedure in place either. This means that those who might want to file a complaint about the BUN board’s own breaches of integrity have no recourse to meaningful oversight at all. It is ironic, then, that Michael Ritman prides himself in being the author of the EBU-document Why a Code of Conduct is indispensable in Buddhist communities.24

Fall-back Scenarios

When Ritman turned down our first plan for the FU-symposium cold, Blezer suggested a fall-back scenario: I could hand over my sources’ contact details and case files to the FU-organizers. I refused to do this, for it would likely result in breaches of confidentiality and a disempowerment of the victims and survivors involved. Since the student’s internship was now in danger of being brought to a standstill, we finally decided that, with my assistance, he would compile dossiers from a variety of publications about sexually abusive Buddhist teachers.

I cautioned against the reductive, distortive nature of an approach limited to study matter available in the public domain: some of the worst abuses and enabling behaviours will remain unpublished forever. For this reason, also, this approach would have less impact on uninformed participants than real time testimony by those who lived through it. With these caveats, I supplied a large part of the content of seven dossiers, some of it very hard to find.

Enter Oane Bijlsma

In the final stages of the preparation for the symposium, Blezer reiterated the wish to involve Oane Bijlsma. I pointed out to him that she is sceptical of the BUN’s response to sexual abuse in general and of Ritman’s board in particular. With some hesitation, I put him in touch with her directly. Bijlsma told me later that they had been on the phone for more than an hour and that she talked to the student as well. She agreed to attend the first day of the symposium. Not only would she participate in the breakaway session on Sogyal and Rigpa led by Blezer, Bijlsma would also speak about her own experiences in a plenary session. Several times, Blezer expressed to me how elated he was by her intended contribution.

In the build-up to the symposium, however, Bijlsma was taken aback by an unexpected LinkedIn message from Rigpa chairman Jeroen Slieker. He proposed to meet for a cup of coffee, “because he was curious about her story and wanted to know how she felt about everything now.” The rapprochement seemed out of place and more than coincidental.

Bijlsma spoke about Sogyal’s abuses openly on Dutch national television and other media in 2017. Since then, no Rigpa representative has ever approached her. Slieker’s sudden interest, almost three years later, just when she prepared to speak during the symposium, came across as somewhat eerie. It turned out later that he did participate in the symposium himself, but it remains unclear what prompted Slieker to contact Bijlsma.

Fit of Rage

Bijlsma’s speaking engagement did not come to pass, however. Once again Michael Ritman intervened.

In a fit of rage, Ritman told off Blezer and his student for inviting her at all. He announced that his board would move to block Bijlsma’s attendance “because she is not a victim.” The fact of the matter is that Ritman knows nothing about her beyond what was published by the media. He does not know what she did or did not experience or witness as a member of Sogyal’s entourage, for he has never spoken to her. Clearly, Ritman does not want to know either.

Ritman added that BUN-representatives might feel “threatened” by Bijlsma’s presence. Blezer decided to pre-empt the board’s veto. He counselled Bijlsma to withdraw from the symposium “because he could not vouch for her safety.” He did not mention the imminent veto to her, however. Evidently, he did not consider it to be his responsibility to guarantee the safety of all invitees to this symposium on power and abuse—not just the ones who remain unaffected by the chairman’s ire. Blezer could have told Ritman, for instance, that his aggressive, contemptuous behaviour vis-à-vis Oane Bijlsma, me, and the FU-student was out of bounds, but chose not to.

The BUN-FU partnership involves a complex of interests and motives. BUN-appointed representatives have a direct say in the curriculum and the composition of the teaching staff of the FU’s chaplaincy training. Admittedly, to confront Ritman would have put its academic co-ordinator Blezer in an awkward position. So institutional interests may explain why, once again, the notion of “safety” was put to work as a multipurpose rhetorical device.

But his subsequent comments simply make no sense: if Blezer felt obliged by the BUN-board’s blanket right of veto, as he said he did, he had no reason to pre-empt its decision-making process. Nor would he have a good cause of action reporting the veto to the FU’s Dean. How can Blezer blame Ritman for exercising a right he himself has granted?

Effusive Gratitude

In his opening speech during the first day of the symposium, Michael Ritman was effusive in his gratitude towards me: ‘I would also like to thank Rob Hogendoorn, Buddhist and journalist. He was the first to listen to victims of sexual abuse in Buddhist communities, at a time when no one was listening within those communities. He made his documentation available to the VU for this study day, and I have always found that he has his documentation in excellent order.’25

In a plenary session, someone then asked Ritman the obvious question: Where was Rob Hogendoorn, and where were the victims and survivors? He replied that the BUN-board and FU-organizers took the decision not to welcome them by mutual arrangement. Ritman added, deceptively, that I was barred because I am a journalist. It fell to the student to set the record straight.

To the consternation of those present, he said that these vetos were unilaterally enforced by the board—to which he and Blezer had objected. The student added that, at first, there was a broad consensus that, even if realizing it was hard in actual practice, it was highly advisable to enable victims and survivors to bear witness in person. The BUN-board’s high-handed actions upset this plan at the last moment.

The student’s candid assessment led to vehement protests by BUN-representatives who felt lied to by Ritman.

The student’s observation tallied with Blezer’s later reply to the journalist who checked some facts with me. Blezer told him that the FU granted Ritman’s board a right of veto in order to create a safe environment for traumatized participants. But it is well-nigh impossible to see how the board’s actual use of that right accomplished this goal, for it barred victims and survivors from participating altogether. Likewise, it is hard to see why the FU—if safeguarding traumatized participants was indeed a goal—would let anyone, least of all a chairman whose interests are flagrantly conflicted, bully anyone into submission.26

Morally Reprehensible

All things considered, the entire episode serves as a textbook example of the institutional dynamic that turns religious traditions into religions for abusers and enablers. The selective perception that slants the focus towards the perpetrators, their institutions, and themselves—while paying lip service to victims and survivors—is the rule rather than the exception. No surprises here.

But I never imagined that an Assistant Professor at the FU would let one of my sources—who had the pluck to sit opposite the Dalai Lama and confront him directly on the rampant sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers—be turned into a pawn in the game of closed-door politicking.

It reduced Oane Bijlsma to a set piece in a performance in which institutional interests played the leading role. And the same thing happened to me.

In my experience, the grooming of victims, survivors, and onlookers continues after the sexual abuse comes to light, and even after the abusive Buddhist teacher dies. Former enablers rebrand themselves as experts overnight, but their roles remains the same. They simply groom their audience once more—thus remaining in the centre of attention. They simply rewrite the false narrative about their guru once more, often literally so—thus erasing their own responsibility and accountability.

In this case, of his own accord, the person in charge at the FU let himself be entangled in a Tibetan Buddhist enabler’s face-saving politics. Apart from the negative consequences for all parties involved, by throwing its academic responsibility and critical distance to the winds the Free University set a very bad example. I find that morally reprehensible. And I refuse to stand by doing nothing.

This article is the first in a three-part series. The other parts can be read here (2) and here (3).

Postscript: This article has been slightly modified to reflect late news. On February 21, 2020, the day this article was published, the BUN-board sent out an internal email to all BUN-members. It confirmed that the participation of victims and survivors was considered, but that this plan was abandoned “in concert.” The message continued: ‘When the board heard a week in advance that, without prior consultation with the BUN, an involved person had been invited by the FU, the board objected because there was no room for her in the programme; there was no time left for a preliminary interview; the members of the BUN were already informed about the programme; and no aftercare had been arranged. The FU then canceled the person’s engagement.’

Evidently, the board’s recollections are entirely at odds with those of all other sources, whose statements are highly corroborated. Needless to say, Michael Ritman did not submit these claims to me as factual corrections in advance. In the email, the board suggested various follow-up actions to the BUN-members: an “evaluation” with the FU; “intensive self-reflection;” and the “development” of an ethical code of conduct for the BUN itself. It also proposed: ‘The board realizes that the person involved who was invited and cancelled, once more, experienced a very unpleasant situation. The board deliberates about actively reaching out to her.’27

February 23, 2020, BUN-member Stichting Buddho published its own critical review of the FU-symposium in three parts: ‘The Preparation’, ‘The Day Itself’, and ‘What Now?’.28

  1. Author unknown. (2012). Evaluatie Hindoe Raad Nederland en Boeddhistische Unie Nederland als zendende instanties voor geestelijke verzorging bij Justitie. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  2. Author unknown. (date unknown). Postacademisch ambtsopleiding tot boeddhistisch geestelijk verzorger (deeltijd, 2 jarig). Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  3. De Jong, Cas. (2017). Misbruik in de Boeddhistische gemeenschap: dit slachtoffer vertelt voor het eerst haar verhaal. Retrieved February 20, 2020. The Brandpunt Plus documentary can be watched with English subtitles through this link.
  4. On March 8, 2020 Oane Bijlsma published her self-penned account ‘My Time in Rigpa’ on Openbuddhism.org. See also: Author unknown. (2018). Dalai Lama meets alleged abuse victims. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Author unknown. (2018). Alleged abuse by Buddhist monks in the Netherlands. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Mees, Anna, & Bas de Vries. (2018). Dalai lama ontmoet misbruikslachtoffers in Nederland. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Mees, Anna & Bas de Vries. (2018). Dalai lama over misbruik: ik weet het al sinds de jaren 90. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  5. Baxter, Karen. (2018). Report to the Boards of Trustees of: Rigpa Fellowship UK, and Rigpa Fellowship US: Outcome of an Investigation into Allegations made against Sogyal Lakar (also known as Sogyal Rinpoche) in a Letter dated 14 July 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  6. Author unknown. (date unknown). About Clue+
  7. Author unknown. (2020). Macht en misbruik: Seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen in Nederland. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  8. Hogendoorn, Rob. (2020). Least Protected of All. Retrieved February 21, 2020. De Vries, Bas. (2015). Alarmsignalen misbruik boeddhisten werden genegeerd. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Mees, Anna & Bas de Vries, B. (2018). ‘De dalai lama beschermt nu bijna misbruikers’. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Tempelman, Olaf. (2018, February 20). ‘De Tibetaanse meester met zijn “geheime praktijk”‘. De Volkskrant, pp. 8-9. De Vries, Jolien. (2018). Misbruik door boeddhistische leraar. ‘Je accepteerde alles wat hij deed’. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  9. Ritman, Michael (date unknown). LinkedIn Profile. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  10. De Vries, Bas. (2015). Seksueel misbruik bij boeddhisten in Nederland. Retrieved February 21, 2020. De Vries, Bas. (2015). ‘Ik dacht: dit wordt een Thaise masssage’. Retrieved February 21, 2020. De Vries, Bas. (2015). ‘Boeddhistische monnik Waalwijk misbruikte ook 12-jarige’. Retrieved February 21, 2020. De Vries, Bas. (2015). ‘De monnik aaide mij over m’n bol, dat kende ik niet’. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  11. Finnigan, Mary & Rob Hogendoorn. (2019). Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche. Portland: Jorvik Press.
  12. Ezzeroili, Nadia. (2015). Pleidooi voor code na misbruik door boeddhist. De Volkskrant, p. 9.
  13. Breebaart, Leonie. (2015). ‘Geen hulpvragen sinds 2008’. Trouw, p. 8.
  14. Chin-A-Fo, Hanneke. (2015, May 26) ‘Deze therapieën gingen wel héél ver.’ NRC Handelsblad. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  15. Van der Velde, Koert. (2016, December 5). ‘Meesters van de zwijgzaamheid.’ Trouw, pp. 6-7.
  16. Mees, Anna & Silvan Schoonhoven. (2017, July 22). ’Seks als pad naar verlichting’. De Telegraaf, pp. 1-3.
  17. Tempelman, Olaf. (2018, February 20). ‘De Tibetaanse meester met zijn “geheime praktijk”‘. De Volkskrant, pp. 8-9.
  18. Hoek, Joop. (2017). Reinier Tilanus van de BUN – ‘Geen misstanden binnen Rigpa Nederland’. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Reinier Tilanus himself is not a Rigpa member.
  19. Author unknown. (date unknown). Council of the European Buddhist Union. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Author unknown. (2017). Communiqué suite au scandale lié à Sogyal Rinpoché. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Author unknown (2017). Communiqué de Rigpa. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Congrégation Rigpa Lerab Ling has apparently been reinstated as a member of the UBF, but Rigpa France was not.
  20. Hogendoorn, Rob. (2020). Members List Buddhist Union of the Netherlands (BUN) on September 30, 2020.
  21. Author unknown. (2018). Verklaring BUN-bestuur over misbruik door boeddhistische leraren. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  22. Van der Steur, Ard. (2015). Antwoord van Minister Van der Steur (Veiligheid en Justitie) mede namens de Staatssecretaris van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport (ontvangen 31 augustus 2015). Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  23. Author unknown. (date unknown). Over de BUN. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Ezzeroili, Nadia. (2015). ‘Pleidooi voor code na misbruik door boeddhist.’De Volkskrant, p. 9.
  24. Ritman, Michael. (2018). Why a Code of Conduct is indispensable in Buddhist communities. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  25. Ritman, Michael. (2020). “No More Abuse”. Translation courtesy of Michael Ritman.
  26. The BUN-board previously acknowledged a conflict of interest on Ritman’s part, announcing that discussions on Rigpa during general meetings would not be led by him. He routinely deflected journalists’ questions about Sogyal’s abuses, insisting that his position required him to recuse himself. No such restraint, however, kept Ritman from engaging the Dutch Rigpa branch “in conversation” once the scandal broke. Indeed, by coordinating their messaging strategies he and his board effectively helped Rigpa limit the image damage it sustained. See Hoek, Joop (2017). Reinier Tilanus van de BUN – ‘Geen misstanden binnen Rigpa Nederland’. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Author unknown. (2017). Voorzitter Michael Ritman over BUN, Sogyal en Rigpa. Retrieved February 21, 2020. Author unknown. (2017). Reactie BUN bestuur op situatie bij Rigpa. Retrieved 14 August, 2017. Author unknown. (2018). Persverklaring naar aanleiding van Rigpa-rapport. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  27.  Nieuwsbrief BUN, February 21, 2020.
  28. Author unknown. (2020). BUN Studiedag Macht en Misbruik in het Boeddhisme, Deel 1: De Voorbereiding. Retrieved February 23, 2020. Author unknown. (2020). BUN Studiedag Macht en Misbruik in het Boeddhisme, Deel 2: De Dag Zelf. Retrieved February 23, 2020. Author unknown. (2020). BUN Studiedag Macht en Misbruik in het Boeddhisme, Deel 3: Hoe Nu Verder. Retrieved February 23, 2020.

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.