Two Pathgate ex-members were granted an audience with one of the most senior Palyul lineage holders in 2018 to seek clarification and advice regarding their experience in Pathgate. Identities have been withheld due to the sensitivity of the matter. The Palyul Rinpoche spoke in Tibetan and his replies to our questions were translated by an attendant.
Q: We are here on behalf of other ex-Pathgate members. While we acknowledge Dondrup Dorje’s contributions to Palyul over the years, we also experienced and observed the abuse of students by him.
A: Buddhist practice begins from the mind. There are the outer, inner, and secret aspects.
Q: Our concern is that we were abused in the name of guru devotion practice.
A: In Vajrayana, reliance on the teacher is very important. Also, as Vajrayana practitioners, our capacity to accommodate others needs to be bigger than others.
Q: We have not taken any Vajrayana vows. With this teacher, we were told we have not even entered the path. To be honest, we don’t even know which stage we are at.
A: In the beginning, take your time to investigate the teacher. Nowadays there is much information out there such as the internet regarding different teachers and types of teachings.
(Rinpoche mentioned several times throughout our audience of the importance to continually observe and check the teacher.)
Q: How do we know whether a teacher is qualified?
A: In this end age of Dharma, we cannot find anyone who possesses all the pure qualities of the Buddha. If you would like me to indicate to you who is a qualified teacher at this moment in time, I cannot.
Q: if we wish to continue on the path, what can we do?
A: You are still young, it is OK to change [look for a different teacher / method].
Q: We observed that Pathgate students appear more and more confused and unhappy over the years.
A: The Buddhist practice starts from the heart (mind); if you truly practise from the heart, all questions / doubts will resolve by themselves.
Q: We were attracted by his special powers, but we observe that his behaviour does not match the teachings.
A: It is good that you are using your critical mind to analyse the situation.
Q: We do not want to criticise anyone, and we are grateful for him bringing us into the Dharma. If students approach us in future, we will simply tell them what we have experienced and observed with this teacher.
A: It is good to maintain this attitude.
Q: We would like to help our Dharma brothers and sisters who are suffering from psychological trauma as a result of their time in Pathgate.
A: Good deeds are worth doing. From the few of you, you can reach 10 people. From 10, to 100.