Mick Brown, Mary Finnigan, and Rob Hogendoorn discuss the rise and fall of Sogyal Rinpoche

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

To mark the launch of the revised and updated second edition of Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche (Jorvik Press, 2021), British writer Mick Brown (Daily Telegraph, Telegraph Magazine) recently interviewed its authors, Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn. A video of that conversation is now available online.

Among other things, their hour-long meeting on Zoom focussed on Sogyal Lakar’s (supposed) credentials as a Tibetan Buddhist Lama and the cult-like workings of Rigpa, the international organization he founded in 1979.

Also, Brown, Finnigan, and Hogendoorn talked about the decades-long impunity Sogyal enjoyed—he died in hiding in Thailand in 2019—while he abandoned himself to sexual abuse and violent assaults. The unresolved tension in positions taken by this Lama’s remaining devotees was discussed as well.

Lively discussions

Specific input by various participants in the Zoom meeting led to a lively discussion of the accountability of Tibetan Lamas—including the fourteenth Dalai Lama—for their continued endorsement and support of Sogyal and Rigpa in the face of credible allegations of criminal behaviour.

An equally animated exchange on the (in)compatibility of the Tibetan Buddhist tantric tradition—commonly called Vajrayana—with the #MeToo-era and the viability of the (supposed) practice of ‘crazy wisdom’ in 21st century liberal democracies and Tibet under Chinese rule brought the session to a close.

Video now available

A video of the entire Zoom meeting, which was recorded with the informed consent of the participants, can now be watched online. The revised and updated version of Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche is available through online resellers and Jorvik Press.

This Zoom meeting was introduced and facilitated by Chantal Cooke of Panpathic Communications. As she mentions in her introduction, be advised that the discussion could contain triggers that cause victims and survivors of sexual and other abuses acute distress.

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.