I'm new to this forum, but don't know where else I can turn to regarding this issue I want to raise. Does anybody here have experience of the Pathgate Institute of Buddhist Studies in Newcastle, UK?
I ask because I took refuge with the teacher there, Lama Dondrup Dorje, several years ago, and only recently have begun coming across many suggestions and reports that the Institute is not genuine, that Rinpoche hasn't been ordained, that students are brainwashed, even that our root guru Penor Rinpoche of the Nyingma tradition had once labelled Lama Dondrup as a liar. Saying these things come quite difficult to me as I've been taught to show utmost respect and faith in my teacher, and to not show disrespect to my tradition, but as Buddha taught to investigate fully our experience and especially the qualifications of our Dhamma teachers, I feel I need to raise this and see from others with more experience in practicing Dhamma whether my concerns are valid. Certain things I've experienced have left me feeling unsettled about the whole deal and seem to contradict my understanding of Buddhism, which have included:
- being verbally abused and told that we know absolutely nothing in comparison to the teacher (in the exact words, you know 0.00000000001% of what I know) - it seems all the students believe being yelled at and put down is good for them, it cuts away their egos
- everything we've ever done in life is wrong
- that we shouldn't read any books on Dhamma because whoever wrote them doesn't know what they're talking about, and that even when we listen to his verbal teachings we have no clue what he is talking about
- that we should be compassionate toward but avoid any meaningful relationship with anyone who hasn't taken refuge, including our friends and family
- I've even been out drinking with Lama Dondrup, which I thought was to relax my 'fixation' on abstaining from alcohol
- I've been made to feel guilty and ashamed to tell my partner my feelings toward them because that's 'attachment' and that my love isn't real
My biggest concern in all of this is my partner. She has paid over $10,000 to go to a two month summer retreat there. In the time she's gotten more and more involved, I've seen her gradually cut off all her old friends, she's begun to treat her family very badly and distance herself from them, believes she doesn't have to work anymore and that the universe will provide all she needs, and that she has to give up everything she once loved because, to begin with, all her goals and wishes were 'wrong in the first place'.
So please, any feedback or advice on what I've raised will be really appreciated.
Lord Buddha: Sariputta, do you believe this teaching
Sariputta: No, I don't yet believe it
Lord Buddha: Good, good, Sariputta. A wise person doesn't readily believe, he should consider first before believing