To understand how a worldly and sophisticated 60 year-old Bhutan-born Buddhist lama starts shitposting about #metoo, we need some background and nuance. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche isn’t your typical 4chan troll. He’s on a mission to defend a global spiritual industry that’s crumbling under the weight of its abuse revelations. Somehow, he believes that cloaking the presumption of ancient spiritual superiority in victim-blaming jokes and memes is a good strategy.
So here we go:
They accused their seemingly impish guru of defrauding the devout followers of his neo-Buddhist church, Rigpa International, to support a “sybaritic” lifestyle of hypocrisy and sadism. They accused him physically and sexually assaulting them and others, and screaming abuse whenever his constant stream of luxuries slowed down —expensive takeout, masseuses at all hours, television binges, extravagant cigars.
The open letter echoed public accusations dating back over decades. In 1994, an anonymous plaintiff sued Lakar for $10,000,000 for assault and battery, and emotional distress. Reporting on the suit revealed that a Rigpa official in the U.K. had resigned in 1992 over Lakar’s sexual abuses, and written to the Dalai Lama to ask for an intervention. A 2011 documentary detailed sexual assault and rape accusations against Lakar dating back to 1976, and in 2014 a French anthropologist published the results of a seven-year study of Rigpa, concluding that the entire organization was dedicated to Lakar’s well-being.
Six months after the open letter dropped, Rigpa International launched an independent investigation through a U.K. law firm. The resulting report, published in August of 2018, validated every accusation, and recommended that Lakar be banned from Rigpa and isolated from his former devotees. Just over a year later, Lakar died of colorectal cancer in Thailand. He was 72.