Letter to Sangye Ngawang


Pharping, Nepal, 19 July 2017

Letter to Sangye Ngawang

Pharping, Nepal, 19 July 2017

I heard that you wrote to me on Facebook. Gyurmé read me your whole letter. From what I understand, for the most part you are presenting questions that you then answer yourself.

We’ve met a few times. You came to my room to lend me a few movies and you attended a few teachings I gave in the temple at Rigpa, but I have never given you any private instruction. If you see a lot of mistakes in my teachings, I am really sorry. I am not very good at teaching. There are probably many mistakes in what I have said.

You said in your letter that Khampa Tibetans stick together through thick and thin, protecting each other and covering each others’ faults. It is not what I do. I have known Sogyal Rinpoche since 1958. I witnessed Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö holding Sogyal Rinpoche’s hand as he circumambulated the royal temple in Sikkim in the evenings. In the few empowerments I received from Chökyi Lodrö, Sogyal Rinpoche was there to help in giving the empowerment. That is where my regard for Sogyal Rinpoche comes from, as I have always said – this is what I tell everyone. Apart from that, I don’t know Sogyal Rinpoche’s outer, inner, secret qualities. He is said to be an incarnation of Tertön Sogyal, which makes him the incarnation of a great lama. He also followed many great lamas, and his root teachers are Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khenpo, who are extremely great masters. His connection with and devotion to there masters is how I made my decision to put my faith in Sogyal Rinpoche, and why I therefore try to help him in any way I can with my limited abilities.

Sogyal Rinpoche is not my root teacher. I have never received an empowerment from him, or a reading transmission, or Dzogchen instruction. Therefore, I don’t check his qualities and faults. Everyone else tells me he is doing good work – everyone in the Buddhist world can see the good he has done. From what I have seen myself, he has thousands of Western students. These people are not all fools. Quite the opposite, again from what I can tell, they seem to be really quite intelligent. That means that what he gives them must be of benefit. I don’t think that if he was of no benefit whatsoever that he would have gathered so many students. We Tibetans don’t really check the lamas. But I think that Westerners are very smart people and so they do check. Westerners can think for themselves and they make good use of that ability.

You are the ones who rely on Sogyal Rinpoche as your lama. I was told two days ago that eight of Sogyal Rinpoche’s most important students have turned against him. These eight people were all people who had followed and attended Sogyal Rinpoche for 15 years or more, and who were intimate with him, like family. These people say that he fooled them – not for one or two days, or one or two months, or even a year or two but for many years. I find this quite strange.

I am not saying that posting this letter was a mistake. I don’t think that either. But it’s really too late for you to turn against him now, after so long as his student. We are all quite old, we don’t have that much time left. And the reality is that to turn against Sogyal Rinpoche, your teacher, after having followed him for years is a samaya breakage. I know that much.

After I was read your letter, I felt that I had to reply to you – I was afraid that you would feel slighted if I didn’t. But I will not reply should you write again. You and I don’t have a lama student relationship, so I don’t have much to tell you. I am not a great lama at all, I am not accomplished in any way, nor even learned. I am just an ordinary person, who understands a little bit about the Dharma.

Tashi Delek to you.

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