What you need to know about the documentary

The inaction of the Dalai Lama, filmed here in 1993 in India during a meeting about “ethical problems” of some Tibetan Buddhist masters, was chosen in the documentary.

The inaction of the Dalai Lama, filmed here in 1993 in India during a meeting about “ethical problems” of some Tibetan Buddhist masters, was chosen in the documentary.

RELIGIONS – Rape, beatings, deprivation of food… Far from its good image, Tibetan Buddhism has been targeted for several years by accusations of physical and sexual violence against hundreds of disciples around the world, including children. A documentary, which aired this Tuesday, September 13 and is now available on the Arte site, collects the testimonies, with their faces uncovered, of many victims. A larger book was also published on September 14 by JC Lattès edition.

In the documentary, three Tibetan masters are named involved, although two journalists, Élodie Emery and Wandrille Lanos, received testimonies directed at “ more than a dozen masters teaching throughout the West”, Élodie Emery explained to HuffPost.

First defendant: Robert Spatz, founder of the Buddhist community “Ogyen Kunzang Choling (OKC)” created in 1970. It exists in Belgium, France, Spain and Portugal. At the end of 2020, the man was sentenced on appeal in Liège to a 5-year suspended prison sentence and financial reparations for his victims. He appealed to cassation.

Another instruction is also open in France. In addition to Robert Spatz, it targeted other teachers from the OKC center in Castellane, in the heart of the Verdon gorges in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Many victims, children of the 1980s and 1990s, testified to rape or abuse suffered by Castle-of-Suns »where about sixty miners lived at that time.

Robert Spatz was accused of imposing “energy transfer” women, inviting them to undress and have sex, presented as a way to progress on the spiritual path.

The Dalai Lama and Matthieu Ricard were accused of inaction

Another Buddhist figure in question: Sogyal Rinpoche, bestseller author The Tibetan Book of Life and Death published in 1993 and the beginning of the opening of 117 Rigpa centers in the world, including Lerab Ling near Montpellier. This close associate of the Dalai Lama is accused of abusing and exploiting twelve of his close disciples, and raping the women he was surrounded by day and night.

“I started investigating these accusations in 2011 when I was working for the newspaper Marianne. It all started with the testimony of ‘Mimi’, a Frenchwoman who worked for him for almost 3 years. At first, I thought I was dealing with an isolated incident. But after the first publications and over the years I was contacted by other people who accused other masters”, explained Élodie Emery. The Tibetan, however, was never questioned in court before his death in August 2019, despite Mimi’s reports to the gendarmerie.

The Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche (on the right of the photo) inaugurated the Lerab Ling temple in Roqueredonde in Hérault on August 22, 2008, together with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
PASCAL GUYOT / AFP The Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche (on the right of the photo) inaugurated the Lerab Ling temple in Roqueredonde in Hérault on August 22, 2008, together with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

PASCAL GUYOT / AFP

The Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche (on the right of the photo) inaugurated the Lerab Ling temple in Roqueredonde in Hérault on August 22, 2008, together with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

“All these years have taken to show that these accusations are not isolated items in the news but something systematic, repeated.. It is also likely that our investigation will lead to new revelations,” estimates Élodie Emery, specifying that “These truths are known to spiritual authorities”.

Also pointed out the lack of reactions and condemnation of the Dalai Lama and other figures of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. Archive footage, unearthed for the first time on television, is also shown in this documentary. they shows a meeting between the spiritual leader and about twenty Western Buddhist teachers, held in March 1993 in Dharamsala – the place of his exile in India – about the serious “Ethical issues”.

In this sequence, the Dalai Lama guarantees that “Every effort must be made” and says that he is ready to talk about it to help the disciples and the victims to stop being silent and let it go. However, he explained that he did not want to wear it “the whole burden on his shoulders”, even have fun. These promises of the 1989 Nobel Prize will remain a dead letter.

“This is not the only time he has been asked about these abuses. He has always replied that the disciples should denounce them. But, privately, his office advises the victims to stay away from the master quietly. The criticism of his master cannot be used without the support and support of the institution, because people are accused of lies and rejected “determined the reporter, adding that the Dalai Lama is not the only religious figure to remain silent or inactive.

“My condemnation of the works of Robert Spatz, Sogyal Rinpoche and the false masters is absolute”, reacted on his blog Matthieu Ricard, media figure of Tibetan Buddhism in France. The latter professedly condemned these practices several times, warning the disciples of the dangers of falling into “a false master” or the others “charlatans to avoid at all costs”. she ensures that non-public information has never been obtained or has not been sent to justice.

He also accused the two reporters of hiding from him the true purpose of their work in order to get an interview. “Matthieu Ricard has never been criticized publicly and by name of those he now describes as” false masters. Over the years, he has been approached many times by victims asking for this position. He repeated that it was not his role, but above all, he continued to visit the offending centers. To the point that these visits were used by Robert Spatz’s lawyers as a guarantee, a guarantee of the teacher’s legitimacy. The last visit dates back to 2019, while the first police search of Spatz centers began in 1997! We request an interview that is to answer many themes, such as its role as a link between the cultures of Europe and Asia, but also this idea of ​​”devotion”, at the beginning of all the abuse. It is a bit late to think that the “ambition of this documentary is worthwhile”, if he pressures the channel not to broadcast his answers”, the reporter concluded.

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