The influential and controversial Tibetan Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche died on Wednesday at a hospital in Thailand. He was 72. Born Sogyal Lakar in Kham, Tibet, he was best known as the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. A lama in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, he was the founder of the international Buddhist group Rigpa, which he led until 2017. He retired that year after his students came forward with highly publicized allegations that he had emotionally, physically, and sexually abused them. Even before then, accusations of abuse had long shadowed him.

Sogyal Rinpoche’s health deteriorated today after he suffered a pulmonary embolism and he left this world around 1pm here in Thailand,” a post on his Facebook page announced Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, a Facebook post said that Sogyal Rinpoche was at the hospital being monitored for complications arising from his battle with cancer. Doctors had earlier removed two cancerous spots on his liver. But in a July 25 post, the lama said that more cancerous cells had been detected and that he was beginning chemotherapy.

Dear Friends, I have some very, very sad news to give you. Sogyal Rinpoche’s health deteriorated today after he…

Posted by Sogyal Rinpoche on Wednesday, August 28, 2019

 

While many took to social media to remember Sogyal Rinpoche’s writings and teachings, it is hard to disentangle from his legacy the numerous allegations of abuse that received renewed attention after his students released a 2017 letter calling on the teacher to step down. In September 2018, Rigpa released a report by a law firm hired to investigate the claims that confirmed many of the allegations against him.

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