Rebuttal: “Psychosis, Stabbing, Secrecy & Death at a Neo-Buddhist University in Arizona.”

Via on May 6, 2012

Rebuttal by John Stillwell.

The below article is a rebuttal that is intended to provide a different point of view, and context, around a recent tragedy in a Buddhist community.

The original story, by Matthew Remski, was summed up by Matthew thusly:

“Abstract for Media Outlets

Ian Thorson, 38, died on the morning of 4/22/12 of apparent dehydration in a cave in southeastern Arizona, after having been banished by the administration of nearby Diamond Mountain University, which is under the leadership of “Geshe” Michael Roach. Thorson’s wife, “Lama” Christie McNally, was rescued from the death scene by helicopter. Thorson had for years exhibited signs of mental illness and violence towards others, including McNally, who had recently stabbed him, presumably in self-defense. The failure to fully report the couple’s violence to local authorities, along with the subsequent banishment of the couple from Diamond Mountain property without adequate psychiatric, medical, and community care, all raise stark questions about the competency  of this secretive and autocratic organization, and call into doubt whether its Board is qualified to protect the safety of the remaining residents of Diamond Mountain.”

For the rest of Matthew’s article, click here.

It is our aim, of course, not to engage in the extremes of character assassination, nor of suppressing truth—but rather, simply to get at the facts and further uplifted, kind dialogue (rude comments will be deleted) in the interests of furthering enlightened, compassionate, sane society. ~ ed.

Here is Mr. Stillwell’s rebuttal.

Mr. Matthew Remski’s article uses inaccurate reporting of a sad human loss as an opportunity to engage in sensationalism and personal attack. An open letter describing events around Ian Thorson’s death is available at Diamond Mountain.

Mr. Remski begins by listing multiple questionable “facts” in his opening paragraph, which then become a basis for his extensive historical review and disapproval of how his former teacher lived his life. Professing that he is writing an article without malice does not make it true.

His statements are the basis for a scathing article, including: failure to report violence to local authorities; banishment of a married couple without adequate psychiatric, medical and community care; and a secretive autocratic organization.

An official letter openly describing the events around Ian Thorson’s death is used by Mr. Remski with incredible selective omission and bias. Facts are clearly established contradicting his yellow journalism accusations:  a report was made to the county police upon discovery that a wife had stabbed her husband while in isolated retreat; the retreat center board sought the opinion of a professional psychologist, and there is a nurse, two physicians assistants and a doctor in residence; anyone may visit Diamond Mountain at any time and all finances are openly posted on that web site. It is easy to verify that the opening statements in this article are false—ask the police, look on the web site, and read the open letter.

Mr. Remski uses the following adjectives in his “agenda-free, malice-free” opinion piece:  fanaticism, psychosis, gross negligence, incompetence, obstructionism, danger, whitewashing, delusions of grandeur, tragically, authoritarian power, considerable thrall, secrecy, cult, buck-passing, power imbalance, mesmerize acolytes, dysfunction, insufferable person, romantic violence, terrible amputation, confused, disappointed, shoddy scholar, manipulative, tawdry, forcing devotees, rebellion, beyond the pale, rupture, catatonic, tragically self-absorbed, underfed and protein deficient, zealous, insecure, crafty, histrionic, profoundly disturbed, grandiose, strange and austere, shadow suppression, subliminal scapegoating, authoritarian control, deranged, psychosis, arcane, neo-colonial, fragile, trauma, critically troubled, ladder of power, dogma, disturbing, banished, mentally ill, terrifying isolation, cult leader, stormy sea, metastasized, criminalize, public humiliation, alienation, physical coercion, power, and Stalinist bureaucrats. Wow, how’s that for being objective and without any agenda?

Further questionable statements by Mr. Remski, which contradict the open letter source he used, include the following, which are followed by accurate openly published details that are easily documented and verified.

“Ian Thorson and his wife were asked to leave retreat within the hour.” Untrue: they were given five days to depart the retreat.

“Retreatants are sworn to silence.”  Untrue: they routinely send and receive letters from family and friends if they wish, and there is no restriction on their communications.  Choosing not to speak is normal for long retreat, and this does not prevent free written communications.

“35 people are camping in the Arizona desert.” Untrue: they are not camping but living in retreat cabins built at great personal expense, and fully permitted by county authorities as permanent dwellings.

“Not one single piece of help was offered to the couple, and there was not assessment, support, or chaperoning of the couple as ‘they were banished into the terrifying isolation of the surrounding desert’.”  Untrue: There is a 3-month transition program for all retreatants who leave retreat.  The Justice of the Peace was consulted on their history, along with a psychiatrist.  Their closest friends were enrolled to assist them and stay close as constantly as possible.  They were offered a place to stay, transportation, support, financial resources, and communication with their friends, parents, and teachers.  The couple left the retreat property with their assistant and strictly wished no contact, or for anyone to have knowledge of their whereabouts.   Her father called and was put in touch with her assistant to try and locate her.

“Retreatants are in retreat under direction of an insane woman.” Untrue: the former retreat director was asked to leave upon discovery of her violence with her spouse.

All of this information is in the same letter that Mr. Remski quotes from so inaccurately and selectively to create a hyped-up tale of horrible, terrible, nefarious abuse.  The truth is that many, many people are working without pay, while on vacation from their jobs, to help and support 35 courageous retreatants who are doing the hard work of being in isolation with themselves to touch the deep recesses of their mind in an effort to heal themselves and their world by becoming more virtuous, loving and compassionate people.

It is deeply saddening that a former student of 12 years ago who says he is over his issues goes so far out of his way to attack a former teacher  and disrupt the hard work of sincere, dedicated practitioners who have in some cases spent ten years preparing for their present retreat.  Of course facts must be evaluated and appropriate action taken to care for everyone.

Hyperbole, selective omission, and distortion of public information do not help anyone.

~ John Stillwell.

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139 Responses to “Rebuttal: “Psychosis, Stabbing, Secrecy & Death at a Neo-Buddhist University in Arizona.””

  1. [...] Psychosis, Stabbing, Secrecy & Death at a Neo-Buddhist University in Arizona Update: a rebuttal to the below, by John Stillwell, is offered here. [...]

  2. matthew says:

    John: it is important to note that corrections to some of the factual issues in my original piece were edited into the original text and appended at 4am this morning. They are visible here:
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/psychosis-….

    I don't know if you had time to review these corrections. I did this as I promised to do in the 5th graph of the original:

    "My analysis of these events is in some areas speculative. I am quite sure that I will unintentionally render certain details incorrectly, and I hope that knowledgeable respondents to this post help me with factual errors, which I will correct in the text itself, in real time, as evidence is presented. I intend for this to be an open document, evolving towards greater clarity through the input of many. I will not let factual errors linger online, and will notify readers through social media of the edits I make."

    I thank all respondents for their help with accuracy, and wait for an earnest discussion of the 15 requests made to the board.

    • ccf says:

      Mathew, the fact that you corrected some information after the fact that thousands of people read your initial article that had untrue facts and much projection will be what they remember. YOu really should have thought of that first and not rush to have to write an article before proper research and confirmation of facts. Many people will not have or take the time to re-read your article and thus they will be influenced by your flawed piece. I do believe that your rush to have this article published was self-serving and selfish, instead of doing proper research and waiting for more facts to unfold. There is not a rush to save the retreatants, GMR and the DM board are not uncaring, unloving malice people, they are quite the opposite, whether you agree with his teachings and accept him as a teacher, they all care deeply for everyone in the retreat. I am sure that they are doing everything they can to support everyone of them, by the way they are free to leave if they want, ask for anything they need, and have family/friends even visit !! Its a terrible trajedy that happened and your timing is very very off and selfish. Yes, as I said before there are issues that I believe really need to be deeply looked at and I am sure that they will be after what has happened. I'm sorry that you felt the need to post such a sensationized article, a more factual, compassionate, questioning one would have been more helpful for everyone. The community is suffering from this horrible loss and you felt the need to rub salt in the wounds. I think questioning is very important now and before, GMR always says investigate a possible teacher for 10 years, look at everything and everyone around them before taking them as your teacher. He does not say believe what i say and follow me, he says to investigate these ideas through your meditation and have your own experiences and then make your own decisions. Also, he says that your mom and dad are also very important teachers/lama's and to treat them as such, not to leave them and break off communication (like cults tend to do). I am not condoning what happened in the least, I am questioning everything right now as many are. But you are not helping by writing false information and writing about things you dont very much about. I hope you can find it in your heart to really re-track alot of your mis information, unless or until you get the facts and re-track your speculation, your projection and attacks and be a more responsible writer. This is coming from a spiritual seeker and not one of GMR devotee's/disciples, but I did spend some time at DM and I did not see or hear the kinds of things that you are talking about. Maybe I didnt get close enough, but I met some of the kindest, loving people there and I know how much they care about everyone in retreat !!!!

      • matthew says:

        ccf: allow me to remind everyone that I transparently linked to the Open Letter, and that corrections were employed to bring the article closer to the claims of the Open Letter, as well as to clarify smaller issues such as the quality of retreat housing. I did not hide any source material. And, as promised, I broadcast the corrections through all of my social media pathways.

        The way I see it is that the Open Letter, and even many corrective statements from DMU responders have not been corroborated. It's not like the "truth" of the situation is established. My intention was to offer a context within which the truth becomes a little clearer. By opining on the context of the tragic events (solipsism, authoritarianism, magical thinking, ungroundedness) I hoped to contribute to the discussion on how we might look for truth.

        The other thing that I can say is that I was responding to the Open Letter, which is the DM Boards' statement of fact, as they endorsed it. Open Letter, open response, open questions.

        I have no doubt that the Board cares about the retreatants. My question is whether their past decisions and justifications qualify them for continued leadership.

    • Jim Dey says:

      Rolling excrement into neat little balls does not make it Milk Duds.

  3. matthew says:

    Points to consider, after the corrections are accounted for:

    The official letter from Roach does not constitute an independent review. It raises questions best resolved by professional investigation.

    I do not have malice, but concern. My personal experience justifies the use of all of the terms you list in graph #5. As I was up front about my personal involvement and the usage of my experience, I cannot be accused of claiming objectivity. My agenda is framed in my intention paragraph, and by the requests I suggest to the Board.

    From Roach's account, the couple were initially given an hour, and then five days, after the intervention of John Brady.

    Retreatants are sworn to verbal silence, which I believe can suppress open communication, and can contributes to the general ethos of secrecy that is a powerful player in this dynamic.

    You are not directly quoting me in graph 10: I wrote: "It appears that not one single piece of help was offered to the couple from outside of the worldview and power dynamic of the cult. Not one mediating influence was allowed to intervene."

    You misquote me plainly in graph 11. I did not write:

    “Retreatants are in retreat under direction of an insane woman.”

    but:

    "I repeat: there are about 35 people at this moment in deep seclusion in the Arizona desert under the influence of a woman who appears to have gone insane, and their guardians—the administration of Diamond Mountain—have shown themselves to be, I believe, unequal to the task of protecting and nurturing them."

    I don't claim to be over my issues, but to have grown up, a little bit. You and I are both burdened by perspective and agenda, John. You make this clear when you directly misquote me in your indignation. In fairness, and to mirror the corrections I have made, please amend your text for greater accuracy.

    Finally, hard work and good intentions may not be enough to provide real safety. It's going to take outside help.

    • Arly says:

      Well you are outside. What the heck are you doing to help other than enrage people? You are entitled to your opinion. But if your opinion is so heart-felt, why don't YOU do something about it?

      • matthew says:

        I am most definitely doing something about it.

        • Arly says:

          Which is…..? Write stuff? On the internet? Bwahahahaha!

          No, I mean, why don't you DO something? Like go get police reports, read them, talk to authorities about your concerns, get health officials or someone to visit the place. If you believe these people are negligent and endangering lives, then do you really think "ooohh, I think I'll write something" is going to help them be out of danger?

          Wow, tough guy. Hiding behind your comfortable four walls. What a dufus!

          Who are you to point fingers when you won't even go and work with authorities to investigate?

          • matthew says:

            I'm not qualified as an investigative journalist. I don't know how that works. I simply reported from sources available to everyone a story that the broader media was not covering, along with my analysis from personal experience. I understand that you don't like this and think it's useless and/or cowardly.

            But I did speak with the southwest bureau chief of a major national newspaper yesterday who will be covering the story, in part because of my exposure. And another investigative journalist working on a piece about links between meditation retreats and incidents of mental illness.

            I'm happy about this because as I stated in the original piece: "I hope my thoughts on these will encourage more skilled inquiry—both journalistic and legal—to follow."

          • cathywaveyoga says:

            When i read it early on I was almost assaulted by the intensity as well as what appeared to be personal anger mixed between frustration about teachings, closed groups and their powers. Many commenters have shed a more clear understanding on the events, your emotional investment, your commitment to right some wrongs as well as to write a tale with twisting intrigue and ultimately a tragic personal loss.
            I made a comment early about possible causes which may have affected Ian and been exacerbated in a retreat closed restrictive environment. I hope you and the new reporter will find that helpful

          • matthew says:

            Hi CWY: can you repost that comment here? I'm having a hard time finding it.

            I am very happy that the circumstances are becoming clearer for you. The circumstances touch deeply my emotional investment, as well as the emotions of thousands of others.

          • cathywaveyoga says:

            I had Waylon post i t as it got stuck in the comment box.. its after about 20 or so.

          • concern4ian says:

            Hi Matthew,
            Thanks for the work you've done with this article! Great to hear of interest from reporters. Hopefully something good will come of it.

            Yesterday, after reading your article and others' comments, I decided to try contacting cochise county sheriff to determine the status of investigation. Was met with confusion…no recollection of ian thorson…after i provided more details was transferred to wilcox search & rescue. These guys coordinated the retrieval of ian from cave. Was told here that it would be up to the medical examiner's office to determine if an investigation would be necessary. Called medical examiner's office. Was told the autopsy is not yet complete, "waiting for doctor to sign off on tox results."

            While there may be more that can be done if one were to press sheriff's office (i won't be doing this), it would appear they are unaware of any larger context to these incidents. Perhaps none of the dots have been connected.

          • matthew says:

            hi C4I: thanks for the report. I believe the journalists on the ground will start connecting things.

  4. Jon Underwood says:

    Sorry, this is not convincing. I have no connection with this organisation and it really feels like something is very wrong here. I hope Diamond Mountain have the courage to question themselves properly and transparently. There is no good alternative.

    • heynow says:

      what the heck are you talking about?
      maybe you should employ some critical thinking and not accept anything you read on the internet unless you have very good reason to.

      • Jon Underwood says:

        Hi heynow,

        Thanks for your response. Just to give some context, I am not an uneducated observer. I have followed this organisation for over 10 years and have a good, first hand knowledge of Buddhist cults and how they operate. Followers of DM must be able to open to the possibility that they're wrong and something there is something extremely serious and problematic here, deeply embedded in the organisation. Then there is a hope.

        I wish all those confused and troubled by these events peace and freedom from suffering. Buddha's teachings are a great medicine, but MUST be used in a safe context.

        Jon

        • Arly says:

          Thank you for your calm and reasonable comments.

          Just one question from someone on the outside who would like to think that any possible mistakes made in the retreat and organization are corrected but is so grossly disgusted by the tone of the original letter can't imagine it is more than unresolved personal issues – what if the followers of DM become open to the possibility that they're wrong (quoting you above) but then find nothing wrong? Who's going to believe them? Once the idea that they are a cult has been embedded in the mind, who will believe that 'cult members' have discovered that righy-o, nope this is not a cult?

          Tricky. Very tricky. And this is why I don't like Matthew's piece of scribbled masturbation.

          Cult or no, now it can never be absolved of that suspicion. Even if outsiders offer a counter to the idea, the hate mongers will simply say they have been duped.

          That's why Matthew's writing is so dangerous. Not his call to know and understand. I don't fault anyone for having questions. I fault the tone, the blame, the name calling. It's completely irresponsible.

          • matthew says:

            I understand your concern, Arly.

            But remember I called for independent investigation to resolve what we cannot. Then my past experiences and the opinions I derive from them will remain what they are: past experiences and opinions I derive from them.

        • heynow says:

          first you say you have no connection with this organisation. then you say youve been watching this organisation for over 10 years. get your act together trolls

  5. Tobye Hillier yogi tobye says:

    "It is our aim, of course, not to engage in the extremes of character assassination, nor of suppressing truth—but rather, simply to get at the facts and further uplifted, kind dialogue (rude comments will be deleted) in the interests of furthering enlightened, compassionate, sane society. ~ ed."

    This blog seems to be attacking Remski, so what happened there Ed?

    Elephant journal is for the most part, an opinionated blog that doesn't stick to the formula of resourceful journalism in a large proportion of cases. So why the rebuttal of Remski's well written blog?

    Write the other side of the coin for sure, but if we are respecting opinions and views, why the attack on Remski?

    • elephantjournal says:

      I edited John's post above, lightly, but can not in good faith change what or how he says what he says.

      Mr. Remski, who I like and respect, offered a post that is, too, far from journalism—it is, as my intro says, an op-ed. Both posts come from clear points of view, as Matthew himself takes pains to make clear in this opening paragraphs.

      It is our job to offer a forum for such intense posts, and rebuttals as they arise, to offer context. The reader, as you have done yourself, can decide for her or hisself what seems credible. If and when we become a journalistic outfit with paid reporters doing original research, we will do our best to decide for the reader what is and isn't fact. As things stand, it is our duty to offer a forum for rebuttals.

      Thanks for your enthusiastic support of the difficult balancing act that is an open forum, Tobye.

      • Tobye Hillier yogi tobye says:

        That makes sense for sure. My biggest issue is with this kind of thing is that I end up not being able to intelligently discriminate from right and wrong. One person says one thing, someone else comes along and says something different and a big debate ensues that leaves me feeling dizzy… but I guess that's life in general.

      • Phurba says:

        Maybe you could at least correct the false quoting of Matthew's article, — Stillwell quotes it "“Retreatants are in retreat under direction of an insane woman.” and Matthew already pointed out here that this is not an accurate quote– he said "under the influence" of a woman "who appears to have gone insane" which is clearly the case. I don't know how inventing fictional quotes from an article you are responding to and then discrediting them is even remotely valuable for an op-ed piece. I realize you are not a journalist outfit, and it is good that you encourage rebuttals, but maybe make sure that they are actually rebutting the article in question, and not fabricating things outright.

        • Arly says:

          Phurba, that's genius. Let the editors rewrite this piece. In the meantime, can I rewrite Matthew's? Can I say the retreaters are living in beautiful and comfortable modest houses? Can I say they are free to write family and friends and receive communication if they want to? Can I say that if no one can prove Ian isn't some kind of angel (see another comment where I note the achievements of St Catherine, St Theresa of Avila, Moses, Mary, Jesus, Virupa, and Shantideva), then no tragedy has occurred or is continuing to unfold?

          Hey, investigate. That's fine. If there's a question of health and safety at this place, then by all means, ask for help from local officials.

          But if we're going down that slippery slope of f-ing with the first amendment by editing and therefore changing the intent of someone's writing, then whoa baby, hold on there. Either that's not okay, or I want my chance too.

          By the way, I've never said Matthew shouldn't ask the questions, I've said he is an idiot for answering the questions with a personal hate agenda, not correcting his mistakes in the original document with the same weight he gave the 'facts' when he thought they were right, and continuing to further his own agenda rather than actually help anyone.

          Yeah, let's make sure Matthew's not fabricating anything outright. WTF? He's fabricated most of what he says according to himself!

          • Phurba says:

            I don't get a sense of a "hate" agenda Arly, I believe you are being melodramatic. I assume it is because you are a student of these people and therefore it is hard to deal with a critical gaze at them. I believe Matthew is editing his text with corrections as they are given to him and found to be authentic sources. He was working with the facts he had, and when he quoted the public texts coming from DM he did so accurately, he did not make up quotes and then respond to them. If you disagree with his opinions, that is another matter. It is an opinion piece, so what? If you think he has facts wrong, correct him and as he said, he will edit accordingly. In the case of the rebuttal above, –it is supposed to be a rebuttal– i.e. a response to what was written by Matthew, not inventing a new article and claiming Matthew wrote it, and then responding to that. John Stillwell obviously misquoted the original article here, perhaps with his own agenda as he is a known close devotee of Roach. Unlike Matthew, he does not disclose this at the beginning of the article. He also has not offered to make corrections if he got his facts wrong. In this case, all the editors need to do is look at the original article to see that Stillwell is grossly misquoting it, and it would be editorial negligence in the context of a "rebuttal" to not fix this. Your reply doesn't even have vague sense to it, in my opinion. I would hope you could calm down a bit, and treat those with opposing viewpoints with kindness. Assuming you are a student of DM university, that is what they supposedly teach there, right? Calling someone an idiot doesn't even approach right speech, let alone kindness. And it is an ad hominem cop-out in any meaningful debate.

  6. UpstateYogi says:

    Instead of attacking the reporter, perhaps DM should spend some more time explaining how this Lama, spiritual leader to so many, ended up with such a loose grip on reality, in an abusive situation, STABBING her husband and later with him dead.

    Remski linked directly to GM's open letter right up front so everyone is able to read his clear articulation of the events and draw their own conclusions. He also offered to correct any factual errors. His piece was obviously written very carefully because I'm sure he knew he'd be subject to attacks just like this one that attempt to draw attention away from the facts at hand.

    There are a lot of people out there/here trying to sort through and understand what all this means. I can't even imagine what the people in retreat are going through. I'm struggling with the hours/days/years I've spent listening to GM's teachings and the impact it has had on my thinking and life. And I was just on the periphery. The people that have spent the past 10 years of their lives preparing for this silent retreat…then to have this happen with one of their leaders. I think Remski has every right to be concerned about them.

    • aguse says:

      according to Christie's own explanation the injuries were accidental and the sheriff decided not to followup further on the matter. its what can happen when you fool around with sharp objects.

      likewise the professional psychologist at the scene did not believe they were dealing with a psychotic person.

      all this nonsense about losing touch with reality etcetc is a fantasy that random internet trolls such as yourself decide to spew out, even though you are utterly inadequate to speak on the matter.

      you are not there, you dont have a clue what the situation is like. you dont know them. you dont even seem to understand what has already happened. you speaking on the matter is like listening to hot air blow. get a grip on what you are doing.

      • matthew says:

        I don't think McNally's description of the stabbing is transparent. Her letter gives a very cogent view of her sense of reality, and it is concerning.

        An outside psychologist was consulted, but did not meet or treat the couple, unless there is something we don't know yet.

    • Ted Lemon says:

      If the teachings helped you, maybe that should tell you something. If they made you unhappy, maybe that should tell you something. Trying to figure out why something happened to some other practitioner, out in the desert, a thousand miles from you, is futile, because you don't have access to the facts, and aren't likely to get access. I'm in the same boat. The teachings helped me. Lama Christie's as well as Geshe Michael's. I'm heartbroken for Lama Christie. I will miss Ian. I already miss Ian, even though I hadn't seen him since the retreat started and so nothing has changed for me but for the certainty that I will never see his impish smile again. But I'm simply not in a position to draw any conclusions about what transpired between him and Lama Christie. If the people who were there, including psychiatrists and law enforcement are satisfied, that's pretty much as far as I can go with it.

      This kind of thing happens in the Dharma world. When something terrible happens, do we discard all those teachings we once held dear, or do we keep on practicing? Sogyal Rinpoche changed my life, and then there was that big controversy. Does the controversy invalidate the fact that my relationship with my parents improved a thousandfold after reading his book? No. Do I know what really happened, and whose fault it is? No. The situation is the same here.

      • matthew says:

        Psychiatrists haven't been satisfied: neither of them were assessed.

        "This kind of thing happens in the Dharma world." My point exactly. Time for the irresponsibility to stop.

        • Padma Kadag says:

          Yes…Mathew…that quote you mention is concerning. I'm not familiar with that brand of "Dharma world"

        • Arly says:

          This kind of thing happens in the (fill in the blank) world. Why aren't you writing articles about the school that punishes children by electroshock? Why aren't you writing articles about the many personal injuries incurred at the hands of police during the Occupy protests?

          Yessir. Time for irresponsibility to stop. So why not expose the many many irresponsible activities going on all over the web as well as this? Because it's evident you have some sort of personal agenda going on right now. You can't honestly say you're doing anything about your concerns except hiding behind your finger-pointing.

          • matthew says:

            I do have personal involvement: I have stated it clearly from the beginning.

            I have also written against circumcision, against authoritarianism in the Catholic Church (to I belonged as a child), and about the ethics of the Anusara organization.

            I'm just one guy. Can't do everything.

          • Arly says:

            Well, you've already stated that you're not qualified as a journalist even though you 'report' from available sources. I appreciate a person's right to state facts and ask questions, even throw in an opinion, in efforts to make something known of which the public may be not aware.

            You have no idea how much respect I have for speaking up in situations where speaking may not be encouraged or even suppressed. But you have been irresponsible to a high degree.

            It's the tone of your 'piece' and your dogged attachment to any favorable comment and pat dismissal of any conflicting opinion as irrelevant. You have done nothing but blame, throw shit, insult, and whine in your piece. You don't correct the article, leaving it intact to deliver your original hysterical message only adding corrections at the bottom.

            You change your facts at the bottom, but never change your opinion. At all. Oh my gosh, they live like slaves in tents! Oh, no they don't. Well, it is still neglect and a cult.

            They alienate their families, well, I'm just generalizing here, I have no real anecdotal evidence of that. But even though that's the mark of a cult and may not be happening here *sputter sputter* it's a cult.

            You have been very irresponsible. I am now more convinced by you that I should be concerned for your mental health than whether or not this place is a cult. I would be worried you might go there and shoot someone, but I can see you don't have the balls to leave your safe home behind your safe screen from where you can shoot off your mouth and hurt people safely, comfortably, and most of all blamelessly.

            I was waiting, dear Matthew, I was waiting for someone with balls to stand up and say I'm confused, can you help me understand. I was hoping someone who had heartfelt questions would come forward to say help me because this is more than my practice explains.

            I don't expect everyone to be confused. It sounds like many practitioners are helping each other, are being supportive of family and friends, are still grieving as well. But there will be some. And you could have done such a great service by opening up and just saying you were angry or confused or heartbroken or any number of things you and others might be feeling. But instead of asking What's the problem here, you decided what the problem was and ever since you have not let go to any other idea.

            I had high hopes. You've dashed them. There will be no real discussion here. You have written your 'piece' in such a way as to continue to infect with your opinion based on half truths. And your corrections are not complete nor are they in the right place. And they are not all minor.

            You have been very irresponsible. You could have led. Instead you have incited hysteria and not once have you revised the material nor corrected your opinion based on these corrections. When they weren't corrected, these facts were your reasons. Once corrected, they were 'minor'. You have been irresponsible and continue to be. You are behaving in a sad, small manner. There is no courage here.

          • Larry says:

            He is your projection; and you're his. Cool down. "He who experiences the unity of life, sees his own self in all beings, and all beings in his own self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye. " -The Buddha

            How easy wars start, people fail to see kindness in one another's motivations, impartial eyes get covered by karmic muck. Your not immune, but. Nor is he. Nor are any of us. Getting lost in projections. Yep, that is how wars start. For all of us. So the choice is: looking inside, or getting lost in projections. Each of our choice. Thee Buddha only points the way. Even the Guru points the way. We choose, moment by moment.

            "I had high hopes. You've dashed them." But another quote might be, "Hope and fear are the twin demons."

            Dualistic thinking, or the path of the nangpa?

          • Milton says:

            My goodness.
            You give little respect to individuals reading these posts. Mr. Matthew has told us about his bias and his personal history and we may evaluate his words in that context. As such, his credibility is enhanced.
            You have not told us directly about your bias and history– but it comes through loud and clear. As such, your credibility is discounted. You also offer no information or explanation– instead, you proffer simple denial and blanket rejection and ad hominem dismissal.
            If the letter attributed to Lama Christie is indeed from her, I believe that any rational person reading that letter will be able to judge for themselves whether her explanations, justifications and interpretations of violent acts are reflective of a cogent and healthy mind.

      • UpstateYogi says:

        Ted, I agree with some of what you are saying. But I disagree on some points too…and in fact I think this may and should cause some people to as you say "discard" or re-think some of these teachings. If "teachings" are confusing people about some of these facts, then something is really wrong.

        I don't need teachings to tell me that it is wrong and disturbing to think that it would be ok to "play" with a sharp knife. For a couple that was "mutually abusive"? If you read that about anyone else, would there be any grey area?

        So I agree with Matthew that no one should have been "satisfied" and people should still not be "satisfied" until there is a real and true consensus on the safety of the remaining people there. In fact, the psychiatrists and law enforcement people that as you say were satisfied, were wrong, or a man wouldn't have ended up dead.

        Considering how charged you and many others are that are on the outside…for people that have spend years of their life preparing, now one year + in silent meditation….I can say I'll send them blessings, but it's time to take real world actions to insure that no one else does harm to themselves or someone else. And hopefully Matthews article, by bringing light and discussion to this situation can help ensure that happens. The main reason I commented on this thread is to encourage energy to be spent discussing the safety of the people left there and on trying to figure out what happened so that it doesn't happen again.

  7. @Suri_k8 says:

    From reading the open letter , what i  think is most disturbing is the fact that the board members were aware that Ian was a dangerous person and they didnt remove him before , not even when there were reports about him mistreating staff members and other retreatants . Ian was clearly a sick person , some psychiatric help could have changed the outcome but his teachers thought he was just  being spiritual and poetic ….

    Also a person that stabs another for "spiritual" reasons  or whatever reason , is clearly disturbed and in need of psychiatric help .

    Mr Roach seems to be justifiyng some of the behaviors of both of them  with the " it is their spiritual perspective" pretext which shows just  how deluded is Mr Roach himself .

    Angels in disguise ? Really ?? This man is completely deluded…
    "A very good practice to do when someone that we love dies is the following.  Every day in the evening, write down in a journal one single memory of them that we have which is beautiful, especially something that might reveal that they were an angel in disguise, meant to help us while we knew them in this world.
    In Ian’s case, this is not difficult.  For me, I remember one incident when another student came to me and said that he had heard a divine being singing off in the desert behind some trees.  He was extremely thrilled that his practice was finally paying off, and ran to meet the Being.  And then he found Ian in a small tent, singing to the gods."

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Anyone who is known to be erratic or suffering from some kind of psychosis which leads them into physical assaults or tirades would never had been allowed by any legitimate Tibetan Lama to enter any kind of retreat. The retreat could not be beneficial and it just would not take place

    • Arly says:

      St Catherine had visions which she watched on the walls of her cell. St Theresa of Avila had raptures where she was in union with God. She saw angels. Moses parted the Red Sea. Moses looked up into the face of God and threw himself onto the ground to hide his face. Mary spoke with an angel. So did the shepherds. Jesus walked on water and turned water into wine. Virupa stopped the sun in its tracks. Shantideva flew into the air as did Milarepa.

      All terribly deluded people i suppose. And yet, our religions are based on their testimony.

      Just exactly why can't we see angels? I don't know if these are angels, but I don't agree with your point. Your point infers there's no such thing. Just exactly why can't we see angels? How do you know this boy didn't have some very deep spiritual experiences? How do you know he wasn't an angel in disguise?

      I want proof. I want proof he was NOT an angel in disguise. You are saying he wasn't. Well, I want you to prove it to me.

      I don't care one way or another. But your assumptions are only those. I want you to prove to me you know he was not an angel in disguise. Because if you can't, then it's possible he wasn't a human being in the first place and all your arguments go to shit.

  8. David says:

    thank you john, for a breath of fresh air amidst a rather tumultous, albeit agenda-less, 'stirring up' of this tragedy.

    • elephantjournal says:

      You and Tobye should talk. Yet again, our attempt to offer a forum for uplifted discussion of difficult issues convinces both sides that we side with one extreme or the other.

      • Arly says:

        Oh, please. You published a guy with an axe to grind and now you're trying to make sure no one confuses you with the National Enquirer.

        What bothers me is that he may be right or he may be wrong, but no one in their right mind just lays down and agrees with that. Oooh, Matthew, you're so smart, ooohh, cults are bad…….

        Why not? because he doesn't back up anything. Do I think all the pieces fit? No. Do I think the family has the right to have the place investigated for negligence. Yes. Is Matthew family? He hasn't claimed that. So why is he so unbelievably concerned about someone else's business to such an extent that he'll incite others to hysteria but unbelievably so unconcerned that he won't take any concrete actions that might help these people if they do indeed need help?

        I'm guessing because he's writing fiction and this is now the National Enquirer where proof is not required and yellow is also the color of the streak down its back.

        • matthew says:

          Arly: I don't need to "back up" the available documents that form the backbone of my narrative. They speak for themselves. As for my opinions and analysis, I have given reasoning from personal experience.

          I'm glad you feel that the Thorson family has the right to full disclosure. In my view, the human family does as well. This is a public matter involving a very public figure — Roach — who has a lot of influence over a lot of people.

          • Arly says:

            They don't speak for themselves. They are tiny little bits of a larger story. If they spoke for themselves, you wouldn't have any more questions.

            I don't care if you're glad my bowel movements are regular, you DO need to back up your allegations. And as I have already begun to show on your page, your reasoning is faulty.

  9. Student of Dharma says:

    Thank you John for writing this. I felt that if Matthew was "so concerned " for the retreat ants he would actually take that concern into action. Perhaps by actually supporting the retreat instead of spending countless hours on the internet bashing the retreat, the retreants, and the teacher of the Dharma center.

    His article was gossip aimed with a personal agenda and an insensitivity not only to Ian who recently passed, but also to 35 people who are , like you said John,, trying to heal themselves, their world and become more virtuos.

    • matthew says:

      My concern, as I've stated repeatedly, is for the Board to show increased competence in the care of its charges. In this way, I suppose I am "supporting the retreat".

      I didn't bash the retreat or the retreatants. I criticized what I see as a top-down organizational structure headed by a man whose judgement is questionable.

      • Padma Kadag says:

        Student of Dharma…your statement is irresponsible and anything but dharma. The retreat should end and all retreatants sent home. If this Geshe is concerned about their welfare more than a law suit.

    • tenpel says:

      Well so called "Student of Dharma", IMO, the concern of Matthew is correct and I appreciate very much his courage and determination not to be silent about the events.

  10. Paul says:

    I have no independent knowledge of these events, and I have no bias in favor of or opposed to DM or Geshe Michael. The extent of my involvement with Geshe Michael is that I have read some of his books and like them, and I attended one teaching given by him and Lama Christie, which was very inspiring. I have no idea what actually happened over the past few months beyond what is reported in all the letters and articles that have come out recently, and my reaction is simply to offer prayers and blessings to everyone involved.

    Matthew Remski claims to have grown up a little bit since he left Geshe Michael, and I have no reason to disbelieve that. But his article was not written by a grown-up (nor was it written by an authentic teacher of yoga, which Mr. Remski claims to be), and consequently it is not credible. I am not disagreeing with, or even expressing any opinion about, the facts he offers or his conclusions or his recommendations. From where I sit, I am not qualified to make those judgments. But I am qualified to react to the tone and use of language in Mr. Remski's article, all the way from the title to the last line of the piece. A grown-up (or a real teacher of yoga) who shared Mr. Remski's views would have made the same points with dispassion, discernment and objectivity. Instead, Mr. Remski has contributed to the noise and confusion of avidya. That is regrettable.

    • matthew says:

      Paul: I don't claim to be an "authentic" teacher of yoga. I just practice and share yoga: what I've learned about self-inquiry, empathy, connection and service from many sources both good and bad, and a lot of experience.

      Vairagya is but one value in the vast ocean of yoga's ethics. Passion is another. Everything for its time.

    • Milton says:

      Suffering people were banished from the only world they knew, they went into a cave and one of them died.
      Sorry if you were offended by Mr. Remski's "tone".

  11. anon says:

    matthew's piece revealed a lot of important points at a tragic time when people who have previously been involved with the community are surely regretting not having raised these points themselves.

    this "rebuttal" does not strike at the heart of any of the main issues in matthew's piece. anyone with a mind noticed that matthew isn't free of malice for michael and co. (obviated by the amount of comments saying so).

    also, anybody who read the piece saw that matthew was forthcoming from the start, that while the facts may need correcting (which he invited people to help him with) the core thrust, and salient points of the article would not need amending.

    it is nice that as someone close to michael and co. you have helped matthew correct some of the facts, but that is ALL you have done. the main issues are still very much standing.

    this response of yours really doesn't seem to deserve the title "rebuttal".

    • aguse says:

      name one "main issue still very much standing"

      • matthew says:

        Why the medical doctor in retreat did not report the stabbing to law enforcement.

        Why the couple weren't separated and/or committed under Title 36, when they were showing clear signs of mental distress and physical violence towards each other.

        We can start there.

        • Padma Kadag says:

          Why…knowing full well that Ian had "issues" prior to retreat was he allowed to do retreat at all?. By the geshes own admission about his knowledge about Ian's prior behaviors…this very point will be the center of an investigation.

    • Arly says:

      I would like to know what the 'salient point' of the writing was. If it was a call for answers, then why not go get the answers from the Cochise County Sheriff's office, the Bowie Justice of the Peace, and the board and caretakers. They are the ones in the area according to all those who have been writing about the events. If that wasn't the salient point, to get answers to questions, then what is?

      Questions are fine. Questions can be answered. Shit-throwing isn't usually an effective method of getting answers to questions. Usually people who want answers don't smear the web from hundreds of miles away from the answers. Shit-smearing also isn't an effective method for helping people who might be in jeopardy. Usually people who want to help someone else don't sit in their living rooms while not helping them. When I was a kid, Chicken Little was a popular story. He gets hit on the head with an acorn that has fallen from a tree. And then he runs around yelling 'the sky is falling'. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't but it's that hysterical running around part just doesn't lend much credence to the cause, you know what I mean? Especially when Chicken Little has to keep amending the plea with corrections.

      If the salient point is to help people, why doesn't Matthew get off his chair and go out there and get answers to his burning questions and then do something if he has evidence that something needs to be done? This is America. He has every right to do that. What he doesn't have a right to, however, is slander and libel, which might end up as the salient point if he can't back up anything he has to say because he hasn't taken the opportunity he has to get real answers to substantiate his claims.

      He may be right. He may be wrong. But stirring up other people without knowing for certain is rather lame.

      • matthew says:

        Arly: the Board published an Open Letter. I reported it, linked to it, for all to review, corrected my interpretation after feedback, and now am responding to all commenters with clarifications. I'm hardly inactive.

        Questions are indeed fine, and mine cannot be answered by law enforcement or the JP. They can be answered by the Board, and so I have asked them openly, in response to their Open Letter. The Board already weighed in with its version. It raised questions.

        Yes, I have asked questions from a critical point-of-view, informed by my opinions and personal experience with the group. And I have done so "from the outside", which I believe has value, because I believe there are substantial difficulties with the group being able to look at its decisions clearly, given the power dynamics and spiritual hierarchy.

      • anon says:

        to me the issues aren't so much to do with the finger pointing of who did what and who didn't do what in a trialing time where naturally everybody involved was very shaken up, as the bringing to question of just how much this system seems to not "help people", but in fact to harm them.

        it has become obvious from the discussion on this page, and the original page, that many people have been damaged by this system. not least prominent of which are christie, and her husband. these two were perhaps the two most intimate of michael’s followers. if they are the product of this system, then it is really the obligation of the greater Buddhist community to distance themselves from it. the most effective way for this to happen is for the people who are familiar with the theories of michael roach, as contrasted with the philosophies of Tsongkhapa (who he claims to represent) to write articles such as this discussing the flaws in michael roach’s system as they have found them.

        the more publicity, the better. i’m sure even the disciples will agree that it is better for seekers to find buddhism albeit not roachism, than it is for them to turn to materialism, or some other extreme.

        of course there is an inherent problem in this approach, in that the damaged students, who have gone on to look elsewhere will likely have some animosity to the person they were manipulated into following (by withholding tantalizing secrets or otherwise). This means we won’t be seeing journalism as non-biased as we would like, but we will be seeing writing from discerning people who are passionate about what they are writing, which is good enough for the purpose.

        it’s great that so many of the people we see here, while damaged by this system, have not judged roachism to be the extent of buddhism, and have instead sought out other sources for buddha teachings.

        there do seem to be people though who are not aware of the philosophical differences between the tradition michael claims to come from, and what michael teaches. For this reason, i'm very GLAD to see matthew used such an astute term as "neo-buddhist".

        i’m sure matthew would join me in apologizing for using such isolating language as "roachism", and "neo-buddhism", but i hope the offended disciples can see why it is necessary as a device for separating a system from the system it claims to represent, and contradicts.

        for other salient points notice Poep Sa Frank Jude’s first response to Ted Lemon’s first response in the original article. also notice Tenmo’s comments below in this article.

        • Arly says:

          I doubt Matthew would join anyone in apologizing for anything he's said or done. He's a coward. He makes important points to create a foundation to the claim that this group is in a cult. Then when these points are disputed and he corrects them, suddenly they are minor. Once the cornerstones of his argument, now they are trifling.

          He has done exactly what he wanted to do. Have people agree with him.

          Is there room for investigation? Sure enough. Is there cause for concern? I don't know, that's up to police and health professionals to decide. Is it reasonable for the public to request professional analysis? Of course. Should something be done? If the police and health agencies decide something is wrong here then of course.

          But that's not what's going on here. Right here right now this is slander and defamation of character. I cannot see past the purposefully inflammatory manner of the writing, the personal hate-mongering, the obviously unstable hurting former student issues. It feels slimy. It feels sad.

          Any positive comment is met with a yes, yes, stroke me while any opposite opinion is dismissed with no, no that's irrelevant.

          Is anyone else seeing how more and more maniacal and obsessive Matthew sounds as the days go by?

          I'm not dismissing the possibility for questions. I'm not suggesting anyone with concerns turn a blind eye.

          I'm begging you all to stop buying the hysteria, the tone, the half-truths, the major points becoming minor corrections crap, just stop encouraging him. Go find out what you want to know. Stop feeding the gorilla.

  12. truth dog says:

    amen.

  13. tenmo says:

    Both of these articles have used emotionally charged language and concepts to promote the author's personal view of events. In lobbying for their views to be accepted as "the one that is right," both authors fall into the same contaminated current that is so troubling for all of us who wish authentic Dharma to flourish: in this situation, are the teachings of the Buddha being honored and embodied in ways that are authentically aligned with them? Do the people involved recognize reality as it is, and react with clarity, compassion and wisdom, according to standards genrally accepted in authentic Buddhist communities? Have the teachings been tweaked in ways that are motivated by personal ego, desire for power and fame, and satisfaction of coarse desires? Does following the path promoted by these students lead to abiding happiness and freedom from suffering?

    From this point of analysis, setting aside the noisy egos of those trying the be "the one that is right," it still seems that there is deep and abiding cause for concern here. Monks cannot both abide by their vows and have sexual partners. Truly realized beings do not promote themselves as such. Isolation is a sign of danger, as is marching lock-step with someone's views.

    May what is most beneficial to all involved come about through an open and transparent investigation, as Matthew suggested. While he is clearly invested in personal aspects of his crusade, it sounds as if he would really like to bring about corrections in a potentially abusive situation, and I hope that happens.

    • matthew says:

      Thank you tenmo. I think you have a valuable perspective. Neither John nor I have a lock on the truth of the situation, because of our personal investments. Neither of us can present an investigative view. But I do hope that our dialogue will clarify the narrative. It's not my intention to misrepresent in any way the facts of what has happened, but to let the events plainly ask the important questions that you raise. In addition to your orthodox/pedagogical concerns, I add the investigation of isolation as a vulnerability of groups with power structures rooted in charisma and solipsism.

      • tenmo says:

        Hi Matthew,
        I really appreciate your efforts to bring this situation into the public eye, though it is painful to behold. Many of my friends at the Buddhist centers near Santa Cruz became followers and many still are. It is frightening to see the degree to which they cannot perceive things that worry the rest of us, but reply in unthinking, pre-programmed-sounding ways. If the discussion becomes personalized, though, its potential strength is undermined, as it sounds as if it is coming from a place or hurt/revenge/ego, rather than factual analysis, and that is the very place the MR comes from, ironically.

        I have worked nearly 30 years as a psychotherapist, and have seen so much, but in this situation unfortunately
        it is hard to find anything that does not look worrisome and sad, from a simple human perspective as well as that of
        a student of the Dharma. I don't honor orthodoxy for its own sake, but I do honor preserving a lineage with integrity.
        And I do believe the Buddha's teachings can be conveyed in many ways, but when tweaked for personal aggrandisement, no matter who is doing it, they are contaminated, like liquid served in a container leaching lead.
        How sad and how worrisome.

        • matthew says:

          Tenmo: so glad to hear from a seasoned therapist, and I hope your identity, sentiments, and skills are visible enough to your SC community that you will be sought for counsel regarding this circumstance.

          I still agree with the drawbacks you point out with regard to my personalizing the discussion. It would be very hard for me to do it otherwise, not only because of my past, but also because for me writing carries aesthetics, and aesthetics approach the truth of the body in a particular way. My impassioned and personal tone was the first out of the gate on this issue, and I accept responsibility for this, but I do hope that other voices and tones follow.

  14. curiousone says:

    Thank you Matthew for the time and effort you put into writing this. I've been following the events since I heard of Ian's passing.
    I was very surprised that it was being kept so quiet. I was hoping and waiting for someone like yourself to shine some light on this organization and their practices. As an outsider, this looks like another example of the dangers of the teacher/student relationship gone wrong! Especially when lines are crossed. And since GMR was the first to cross these lines in his justification of a 3 yr 3 month 3 day silent retreat with his then assistant Christie -later to be crowned Lama Christe – I do hold him partially responsible for this terrible tragedy.

  15. agape says:

    Now I know why the "Diamond Mountain Cinco de Mayo Great Retreat Teaching" was so suddenly cancelled. What I cannot understand is why such an event would even be planned under the circumstances detailed in GM's open letter. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7i9IqWTj-U&fe

  16. dismayed says:

    I viewed the youtube above-dismaying-false gayety-quite frightening

  17. Padma Kadag says:

    The Geshe admits in his statement an awareness of Ian's behaviors prior to the retreat. I know of no Tibetan Master Yogi Ngakpa Khenpo who would allow such a person to enter ant kind of retreat.

    • matthew says:

      This is an excellent point. I wonder if I should add it to the list of requests to the Board: "Why was Ian admitted?" I imagine he was admitted primarily on the authority and desire of McNally.

      • Padma Kadag says:

        Mathew…this point is crucial. Authentic teachers know for sure who is or is not capable to go into retreat. This has always been one of the determining criteria.

  18. Lionness says:

    John, All you have to do is read Christy delusional open letter written on scribed. She didn't know a knife could actually cut someone? Children know this. This is a "Lama" leading a retreat? DM is a farce. It screams cult and lack of due diligence. It reeks of negligence. I commend Matthew Remski for putting himself out on the line to reveal the truth. Thank you Matthew.

  19. Valerie Carruthers ValCarruthers says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Valerie Carruthers
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  20. Ben says:

    These have been my questions from the beginning:

    If Ian had a history of violence with women, why was he allowed to go into three year retreat with Christie?
    Did anyone make sure it was safe for him to do so and, if so, who and how did they determine this?
    Was Christie aware of his history and was she advised on how to deal with violent behavior if it arose?
    Was Christie's belief (I am inclined to use the word "delusion") that Ian's violent behavior was a example of a "Divine Being" engaged in "Divine play" a result of the stresses of deep retreat or a result of teachings given at DMU and considered the proper way to interpret a violent spouse?
    If someone else in the retreat came to Christie with reports of another retreatant being violent or delusional, would she have advised them that it was "Divine play"?
    Why was she in charge?

    • matthew says:

      Thank you Ben for being succinct where clearly I can't be! I especially appreciate the question about Christie's supervisory capacity.

      The story of why she was in charge is crucial.

    • Brook Cosby says:

      As I understand the teachings of the Gelukpa lineage, there is no one "proper way" to interpret anything. No person/place/thing has an inherent nature of being one way or another. The way we see a thing is based on the label for it that arises in our own mind due to our own karma. Because no label applies inherently, there is room then, logically, to consider that the label that arises for you is not the only plausible label. There's no reason an action, no matter what label arises in the moment ("abuse", "accident", "divine play" etc) couldn't validly be interpreted as "divine play" — the action has no nature of being any of these options, inherently. So why not divine play? It's no less true or false than any other label. How it functions for you to see actions around you as "divine play" is another question. Whether it's leading you to a place of greater spiritual realization or into mental decline is one reason we need a discerning mind and the guidance of an experienced teacher (something Lama Christie had for nearly 20 years). Until we develop perfect omniscience, it's impossible to know what's happening in another person's mind. I wish we would all remember that before assigning a judgments upon the people involved in this or any other story.

      • Ben says:

        I can't say whether those are the teachings of the Gelukpa lineage, but that is how I understand the teachings at DM (where it is claimed they are the teachings of the Gelukpa Lineage). It is one of the problems I have with the teachings at DM.
        I've have heard many teachings and had many discussions with DM students about the notion that any label is no less true or false than any other label, and whether that implies that you can't be wrong. I've heard teachings from A. Berzin which seem to go against this notion.

        But with this idea, it seems that once you believe that your teachers/partner are divine beings, nothing can go against that presupposition. Just label things to make whatever they are doing divine and it is so.

        I think it is a major factor in what unfolded.

        Perhaps I am not seeing things clearly but it seems that if the teachings allowed Christie to see an abusive spouse as a divine being engaged in divine play, then the teachings are wrong.

        Also, while this "Until we develop perfect omniscience, it's impossible to know what's happening in another person's mind" is technically true, you have to use what is presented to you to make a logical conclusions tempering them with the knowledge that you could be wrong.

        I don't want to judge people, but I am judging actions and the beliefs which seem to have led to those actions.

      • matthew says:

        "I wish we would all remember that before assigning a judgments upon the people involved in this or any other story."

        You mean: "I wish everyone would accept Roach's solipsistic metaphysics before assessing his actions or how they might lead to irresponsible behaviour."

        The circularity of this argument is at the heart of the matter. No one is responsible to Roach's metaphysics except by choice. We are, however, without choice, responsible to each other according to the legal and civil norms we share. DM is not governed by a stupidification of Prasangika, but by the laws of Arizona, where people are clearly not allowed to stab each other and call it play.

        • suri_k8 says:

          Yes , the profoundly relativistic nature of buddhist teachings facilitate delusion.Buddhism denies the existence of an observer independent world , therefore as we have seen anything goes .

          • Phurba says:

            logic denies the existence of an observer-independent world, as does modern physics. but neither denies the existence of a relative consensual reality that needs to be respected. Buddhism is not at fault, a gross misinterpretation of it is at fault.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            How can you know which interpretation is correct?
            Spiritual teachings are subject to interpretation , surely Mr roach thinks his is correct.
            Observers in different frames of reference give different descriptions of specific events but identical descriptions of the laws that govern those events.

            The natural sciences deal with observer independent phenomena . Physics is a natural science.

          • Phurba says:

            "How can you know which interpretation is correct?"

            Well in this case all we need to do is know if his teachings are actually in line with the lineage and tradition he claims he is upholding. If they are not in line, than he is incorrect. If he did not claim to be teaching according to this lineage and tradition, then what he teaches would not need to be held up to that standard. It is actually quite simple.

            If he was openly teaching a unique philosophy, even one that bore similarity to Buddhist systems, we could call it Roachism, for argument's sake– then it would not be subject to the same criteria. But he subjects himself to this, and the DM folk even advertise to be "the lineage of the Dalai Lamas".

        • Arly says:

          Thank you Matthew for putting words in someone else's mouth, explaining what they mean instead of what they've said. It's so helpful and completely in character. As a control freak you must be very proud of yourself.

          See, I can't even comment on the issues because I've become your watchdog. You take everything and skew it to befit your personal vendetta. And then I have to call it. Like I see it.

        • Brook Cosby says:

          I don't think anyone is debating whether or not the laws of Arizona govern Diamond Mountain. Of course they do. All the retreat cabins were built to county code. And as soon as the DM Board learned of the stabbing, they notified the police and the police decided not to pursue it further.

          • Ben says:

            I believe he was commenting on your "There's no reason an action, no matter what label arises in the moment ("abuse", "accident", "divine play" etc) couldn't validly be interpreted as "divine play" — the action has no nature of being any of these options, inherently."

            "Your car" isn't inherently "your car", so I could validly label it "my car" and take it, no? My label is just as valid as yours, isn't it?

            I think Matthew would say, "We are, however, without choice, responsible to each other according to the legal and civil norms we share." I would agree as I think most would.

          • Arly says:

            Perfect. Another one who is happy to speak for someone else.

            Hey! Whose hand is that behind me? Where is your hand? Ahhhhhh………

  21. Frank Vogt says:

    Mathew,

    It is unfortunate that you have taken so much effort to discredit a teacher who has given so much to the world. I understand that you are saying your intention is about justice and accountability, but who’s version? I can tell you that you have exhibited through this process no trace of the qualities I would look for in a respectable source-patience, accuracy, and balance. I can also say that your vision of DM is nothing I can relate to.

    My two personal teachers are in the retreat at diamond mountain at this time. And I was at the great retreat teachings in February to support them and hear the teachings. I can tell you that care and responsibility were at the foremost concern from both Geshe Micheal and the board. I have also received letters from my teachers from within the retreat and am happy to inform you that they have communicated that they are well and are experiencing deep practice.

    I am sure you can retort that I am unqualified to assess such states and experiences. That may be true, but then I will have to trust the two people who have already given me more wisdom then anything I have come across, and who have already experienced things in retreat that most likely you and I will not see anytime soon. The worst thing to come out of this would be for the retreat to be interfered with further. Geshe Micheal already did what he felt he was required to do to keep the retreatants safe. (if you feel he should have done more to keep them safe outside if the grounds I would firmly disagree. What more could he have done then what was already offered?) But outside of that they have to experience this alone.

    As we can see on these board pages, the

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Frank…GM should never have let Ian, knowing already Ian's mental activity, to enter a retreat. Retreats are only as good as your teacher. Retreats put you under the spiritual care of your teacher. Ian had no place, by GM and "Lama " Christy's own observations of Ian, to be in a retreat. Poor judgement by GM and LC.

    • matthew says:

      If you follow my responses, Frank, you will see that I don't retort.

      I understand that you value the work of Roach and McNally. You're not alone. Sadly, devotion does not answer questions in this instance.

      What's really at stake is how the board determined to evict the couple without psychiatric assessment or support, and allowed them to leave together as mutual batterers. Please read my 15 suggestions to the board for how I believe the administration can move forward towards the restoration of credibility.

      • Frank Vogt says:

        1)We asked one of the couple’s closest outside friends and assistants to be on campus, and to assist the couple in their departure.
        2) We had already put in place a 3-month “transition” program for all retreatants, to kick in whenever they chose to leave the retreat. This included a total of $3,600 in cash for the couple. We confirmed with their assistant (who was keeping their bank accounts) that another, large sum was available in their account, partly through regular donations of royalties which I have made for them over the last five years.
        3) We provided a rental car, with the assistant to drive, for several weeks.
        4) We approved airplane flights for the couple and assistant to any destination in the US, and also reserved a hotel room near the closest airport, with an adjoining door to a room for the assistant. We reviewed with the assistant the need to be both gentle and watchful for any signs of domestic violence.
        5) We purchased two prepaid cell phones, and loaded them with the telephone numbers of the couple’s parents, friends, and personal teachers.
        6) We carefully reviewed with the assistant the need to try to get the couple to seek the guidance and comfort of these friends, parents, and teachers. We felt that the decision of contacting relatives about the recent events and situation was only the couple’s to make. We reviewed with the assistant other retreat facilities in this part of the country that the couple might be interested in.

        Do these sound like negligent actions? It is clear from the statement by Lama Christie that she would not have met with any psychiatric counsel under any circumstances. Taking that into consideration, Geshe Micheal made enormous attempts to find people that she would be willing to meet with, like teachers she had taken on outside the retreat and outside the sangha. . He preloaded her phone with contacts and support. This is not a dictatorship, at the point where the sheriff stepped back and Lama Christie was asked to leave DM, there were no further actions possible. It was clear that after she left DM she and her Husband wanted to be left alone. The report WAS made to the police, who felt no further inquiry was needed.

        And your idea about "allowing" them to leave together is ridiculous. Did you want them to hold Ian down and have Lama Christie run away from the retreat? Or have Ian run first and hold Lama Christie captive until he is far gone?

        The bottom line is your reporting would have been worthy of consideration if you stuck to the facts and addressed objective concerns about the well being of the retreatants. Instead you made the piece an aggressive, climactic personal attack of a former teacher and of a spiritual community at large. It got you a lot of attention and at first glance gave a bad impression to DM and Geshe Micheal. That is a shame. The same way devoting a whole web site to discrediting Geshe Micheal was a shame. Until someone was asked to take it down by their teacher.

        The Dalai Lama once told Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Micheals teacher, to give this message to GM: Wisdom looks crazy to a crazy world. Anyway the retreatants will be out of retreat in less than two years and we will get to judge them by the fruits.

        • Taking sides says:

          The list of actions stated above was provided by GM's open letter. However, it completely contradicts Lama Christine's letter. She stated that there was no way they could drive, implying she had no idea she had a driver. She stated that they needed time and slow transition coming out of a deep retreat, implying that she had no idea there was this 3 months transition plan…
          Unless she is completely psychotic or lying, how do you explain these different accounts? Or, GM's followers and the board already decided to take GM's version as truth? Is this the reason why Lama Christine is already erased from Diamond Mountain's website? A bit fast and cruel to their once Lama isn't it?

        • Padma Kadag says:

          "The bottom line is your reporting would have been worthy of consideration if you stuck to the facts and addressed objective concerns about the well being of the retreatants"

          Frank…since you recognize a bottom line…This man, Ian Thorson, was in no shape mentally to enter any kind of retreat whether it be individual or group. He should have been under the scrutiny by either GM or LC or both and knowing full well his issues with abnormal behavior GM should never have let him enter retreat. All of Ian's abberations are listed in GM's letter and admittedly Ian's issues were well known prior to retreat. How do I know this? Because GM's letter tells me so. This is the real problem….No matter how many people try to spin their opinions on this based on their view of buddhist doctrine I fully well know that any legitimate lineage holder with any common sense or wisdom would not have allowed Ian to enter retreat. So…airplane tickets and $3600 dont mean shit when you are dead. Next you will say that you have it on good authority that Ian attained paranirvana

          • Padma Kadag says:

            "The Dalai Lama once told Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Micheals teacher, to give this message to GM: Wisdom looks crazy to a crazy world. Anyway the retreatants will be out of retreat in less than two years and we will get to judge them by the fruits."
            Shame….shame…sham.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Also , from reading Lama Christies letter you can tell that she has some serious issues , she seems to be living in a fantasy world , completely out of touch with reality. It makes you wonder what the hell are they teaching there. How dangerous ….and then if she learned all that bs from roach…well… What can i say …ifeel sorry for those retreatants that are still there , there is good reason to believe their mental health is at risk.

            Christies letter: http://www.scribd.com/doc/90220087/A-Shift-in-the

  22. jra says:

    Thank You, John Stillwell. I'm very grateful for the time you spent to rebut the Remski blog.

  23. Arly says:

    Matthew, you've already stated that you're not qualified as a journalist even though you 'report' from available sources. I appreciate a person's right to state facts and ask questions, even throw in an opinion, in efforts to make something known of which the public may be not aware.

    You have no idea how much respect I have for speaking up in situations where speaking may not be encouraged or even suppressed. But you have been irresponsible to a high degree.

    It's the tone of your 'piece' and your dogged attachment to any favorable comment and pat dismissal of any conflicting opinion as irrelevant. You have done nothing but blame, throw shit, insult, and whine in your piece. You don't correct the article, leaving it intact to deliver your original hysterical message only adding corrections at the bottom.

    You change your facts at the bottom, but never change your opinion. At all. Oh my gosh, they live like slaves in tents! Oh, no they don't. Well, it is still neglect and a cult.

    They alienate their families, well, I'm just generalizing here, I have no real anecdotal evidence of that. But even though that's the mark of a cult and may not be happening here *sputter sputter* it's a cult.

    You have been very irresponsible.

    I was waiting, dear Matthew, I was waiting for someone with balls to stand up and say I'm confused, can you help me understand. I was hoping someone who had heartfelt questions would come forward to say help me because this is more than my practice explains.

    I don't expect everyone to be confused. It sounds like many practitioners are helping each other, are being supportive of family and friends, are still grieving as well or holding the event as a type of ascension. But there will be some. And you could have done such a great service by opening up and just saying you were angry or confused or heartbroken or any number of things you and others might be feeling. But instead of asking What's the problem here, you decided what the problem was and ever since you have not let go to any other idea.

    There will be no real discussion here. You have written your 'piece' in such a way as to continue to infect with your opinion based on half truths. And your corrections are not complete nor are they in the right place. And they are not all minor.

    You have been very irresponsible. You have incited hysteria and not once have you revised the actual material nor corrected your opinion based on these corrections. Before they were corrected, these facts were the reasons that supported your conclusion. Once corrected, they were 'minor'. You have been irresponsible and continue to be. You are behaving in a sad, small manner. There is no courage here.

    Elephant Journal should be ashamed of itself. You should be ashamed of yourself, Matthew. If you had as much fervor for justice as you say, you would have been on a plane within hours and visited the police and filed a complaint demanding an investigation. But you just sit comfortable and safe behind a keyboard making stuff up as you see fit. You don't have questions, Matthew, you have blaming statements.

    Not everyone seems to have been thrown into a state of confusion.

    But I am waiting still. I am waiting for someone to say they are hurting and want to know how they can understand this thing. That at least would be honest.

  24. Bear says:

    This was actually a response to Brook Cosby's comment above but I decided to post it as a new comment.

    The DM teachings such as Christie's Matrix note are in no way representative of a Gelugpa presentation of emptiness or karma for that matter. I would be surprised if some of those defending the DM presentation such as John, Eric, Ted et al. would even make such a claim.

    I think if DM students had more exposure to standard Gelug teachings then they would appreciate the difference between the two distinct sets of teachings.

    For example, if they were to attend a standard Gelug presentation on the three types of dependent arising, (the three types being causes and conditions (including karma), parts, and merely labeled by mind). Then they might stop conflating the first and the third.

    They also might see the irony of using an Abhidharmakośa quote that presents an essentialist position as their go to scriptural reference for their claim that "everything is a karmic projection."

    I think it is important that people know that the DM/ACI teachings are often very divergent from standard Gelug presentation. Then people can make informed decisions.

    • Phurba says:

      I think this is widely known among anyone who has made an effort to study Mahayana philosophy outside of the DM/ACI context. What is curious is how Roach, who spent significant time studying with authentic teachers, developed this divergent version. Was it a genuine misunderstanding? Or a spin, to establish a way that his followers could look at him without any critical gaze at all?

      In general, the practice of Guru yoga according to the Vajrayana tradition is a type of practice, not a philosophy. It is a method to work with one's mind, and ideas of purity. To engage in this practice with an unfit or unqualified guru is a huge mistake, and very risky. I think in this instance, we are seeing some immediate repercussions. Hopefully, many people will learn from this, and not bury their heads deeper in the sand of a faulty presentation of Mahayana doctrine.

      • Ben says:

        I am not sold on the idea the GMR is a bad man with evil intent.

        Another possibility for the reason that he developed this divergent version is to reach out to a greater audience. In his last teaching at GRT2 he says that 95% of the world wants either financial security, good health or nice partner. So to get them started, what you teach should be related to meeting their immediate desires. If you want to have an empty dharma center where only 4 people come every week, talk about the higher concepts of Buddhism (I am paraphrasing). What he teaches is that you can have financial security, good health or a nice partner by planting the right "karmic seeds". I also believe that he has attempted to reach out to a greater audience by mixing Buddhism with Christianity, Hinduism, and I believe also Islam.

        I'm not a Christian but I can see the value of some Christian beliefs (even if they aren't true). They can make the believer kinder and more forgiving, but there are dangers. I'm sure a lot of readers of this forum are aware of the dangers of dogmatic Christian beliefs. In the same way, the "Karmic management" taught at DM can make people kinder, more giving and more forgiving. It can also open them up to higher, more accurate Buddhist teachings. The danger is that people get stuck with these beliefs and that is as far as they go because that is all they need. Because the teachings don't accurately describe the nature of reality, people become deluded and believe that "everything comes from you" or "any label is equally valid". It is how an abusive spouse can be labelled a divine being engaged in divine play.

        This is all just speculation on my part. But I have a hard time believing that a person who authentically attains the degree of Geshe can get the teachings so wrong.

        A lot of people at DM have told me they tried to study Buddhism elsewhere and couldn't grasp it. It was only when they got to DM that it started to make sense. They don't attribute this to GMR simplifying the teachings but rather to his proficiency as a teacher. Like it or not, DM students believe that what GMR has taught them has made them kinder, happier people.

        • Phurba says:

          "Because the teachings don't accurately describe the nature of reality, people become deluded and believe that "everything comes from you" or "any label is equally valid". It is how an abusive spouse can be labelled a divine being engaged in divine play."

          Let's not overlook that the person who got this so wrong "Lama" Christie, was someone GMR made a Lama and qualified to be a Tantric teacher and retreat master. So he obviously felt her grasp of the proper view was profound.

          "This is all just speculation on my part. But I have a hard time believing that a person who authentically attains the degree of Geshe can get the teachings so wrong. "

          It is hard to imagine, but he clearly teaching this to people, and then empowering them to be Lamas and Tantric Gurus under sway of that false presentation. So he either doesn't understand that he is wrong himself, or he is intentionally misguiding people.

          " Like it or not, DM students believe that what GMR has taught them has made them kinder, happier people."

          I am sure many scientologists say the same thing.

          In reality, Buddhism is not about getting financially secure, healthy, or a great sexual partner. I am sure you can manipulate a lot of donkeys with those carrots though.

          • Phurba says:

            And let's not forget that after the shared retreat with Christie, when Roach "came out" about being in a romantic relationship in retreat for three years when he had misled people into believing he was in solitary retreat– he said that he recognized and perceived Christie as an emanation of Vajrayogini. So this is the same logic that It is perceives and abusive spouse as a divine being engaged in divine play.

            Now, to be fair, the tradition does believe in the possibility of Bodhisattvas emanating in our midst, trying to benefit us in various ways. And it's not a terrible thing to, as a method, imagine that some of those around us, even difficult ones, may be such in disguise. It's another thing altogether to turn a method, an exercise, into a philosophy. It's another thing to start believing that if we pretend or imagine everyone in our life to be a divine being, that this will automatically turn them into one. This is completely disregarding relative reality. This is not the Buddhist method.

        • Bear says:

          Ben, just a couple of thoughts in response …

          It is simply not true that a successful dharma center and authentic teachings are mutually exclusive. There are many examples to the contrary.

          There is also not much point in incorrectly grasping a concept no matter how easily it comes. Worse is thinking you can then teach it to others.

          I don't think Michael Roach has evil intent. I just think it is important to clarify that contrary to many people's belief, the ACI/DM teachings often diverge from standard Gelug explanations.

    • aguse says:

      they dont teach just Gelug at ACI/DM, they teach all the schools. quite rarely is Gelug emptiness mentioned.
      dont assume that DM students dont have exposure to other teachings/teachers. DM is, after all, not a cult.

      GMR studied and translated an abhidharmakosha commentary with Khen Rinpoche, in person, for over 10 years. so, theres no need for the hint about the 3 types of dependent arising.

      lastly, being merely labeled by the mind essentially means everything is a karmic projection, because mental labeling is produced by the function of karmic seeds.

  25. Bear says:

    Aguse,

    It is not the case …

    They don't teach all schools at ACI/DM. They teach a simplified and distorted presentation of the four Indian philosophical schools. Which is based on a standard Gelug Tenets teaching.

    Even if you studying the Abhidharmakośa for 10 years you won't find the three types of dependent arisings in it. By the way I am well aware of Michael's huge translation efforts and have benefited greatly from the input work of ACIP.

    The explanation of "karmic projection" simply misses the intention of Nāgārjuna. By the way I am unsure what the Tibetan or Sanskrit for karmic projection would be. I would love to know. Even reading classic Yogācara (mind only) texts in Sanskrit and Tibetan such as Trisvabhāvanirdeśa and the Madhyāntavibhāga, I have not come across a such a term.

    • Bear says:

      Sorry, meant this as a reply to Aguse – please delete

    • Lies cannot hold says:

      Agree with Bear. DM does not teach all school at ACI/DM. These new lamas barely know anything about other lineages. Many of their followers don't even know the names of other lineages.

  26. Frank Vogt says:

    1)We asked one of the couple’s closest outside friends and assistants to be on campus, and to assist the couple in their departure.
    2) We had already put in place a 3-month “transition” program for all retreatants, to kick in whenever they chose to leave the retreat. This included a total of $3,600 in cash for the couple. We confirmed with their assistant (who was keeping their bank accounts) that another, large sum was available in their account, partly through regular donations of royalties which I have made for them over the last five years.
    3) We provided a rental car, with the assistant to drive, for several weeks.
    4) We approved airplane flights for the couple and assistant to any destination in the US, and also reserved a hotel room near the closest airport, with an adjoining door to a room for the assistant. We reviewed with the assistant the need to be both gentle and watchful for any signs of domestic violence.
    5) We purchased two prepaid cell phones, and loaded them with the telephone numbers of the couple’s parents, friends, and personal teachers.
    6) We carefully reviewed with the assistant the need to try to get the couple to seek the guidance and comfort of these friends, parents, and teachers. We felt that the decision of contacting relatives about the recent events and situation was only the couple’s to make. We reviewed with the assistant other retreat facilities in this part of the country that the couple might be interested in.

    Do these sound like negligent actions? It is clear from the statement by Lama Christie that she would not have met with any psychiatric counsel under any circumstances. Taking that into consideration, Geshe Micheal made enormous attempts to find people that she would be willing to meet with, like teachers she had taken on outside the retreat and outside the sangha. . He preloaded her phone with contacts and support. This is not a dictatorship, at the point where the sheriff stepped back and Lama Christie was asked to leave DM, there were no further actions possible. It was clear that after she left DM she and her Husband wanted to be left alone. The report WAS made to the police, who felt no further inquiry was needed.

    And your idea about "allowing" them to leave together is ridiculous. Did you want them to hold Ian down and have Lama Christie run away from the retreat? Or have Ian run first and hold Lama Christie captive until he is far gone?

    The bottom line is your reporting would have been worthy of consideration if you stuck to the facts and addressed objective concerns about the well being of the retreatants. Instead you made the piece an aggressive, climactic personal attack of a former teacher and of a spiritual community at large. It got you a lot of attention and at first glance gave a bad impression to DM and Geshe Micheal. That is a shame. The same way devoting a whole web site to discrediting Geshe Micheal was a shame. Until someone was asked to take it down by their teacher.

    The Dalai Lama once told Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Micheals teacher, to give this message to GM: Wisdom looks crazy to a crazy world. Anyway the retreatants will be out of retreat in less than two years and we will get to judge them by the fruits.

    • Taking sides says:

      The list of actions stated above was provided by GM's open letter. However, it completely contradicts Lama Christine's letter. She stated that there was no way they could drive, implying she had no idea she had a driver. She stated that they needed time and slow transition coming out of a deep retreat, implying that she had no idea there was this 3 months transition plan…
      Unless she is completely psychotic or lying, how do you explain these different accounts? Or, GM's followers and the board already decided to take GM's version as truth? Is this the reason why Lama Christine is already erased from Diamond Mountain's website? A bit fast and cruel to their once Lama isn't it?

    • matthew says:

      Requoting Roach's letter shows good devotion, but perhaps not critical thinking. I myself quoted these very details of the eviction plan in my piece, and then worked to show that they were inadequate, because, I believe, the administration is either unqualified to deal with psychiatric issues, or because they would rather cover them up, or both.

      In my piece, I also referred to Arizona's Title 36 involuntary commitment law, which DM administration could have made use of if they were not only concerned about the couple's health, but also informed as to what the best protective actions would be, as well as being willing to have their retreat directions subject to outside assessment.

      You also are implicating me in the diamond-cutter website. This is not true. I had nothing to do with it. To prove this I suppose I would have to show that the site emanated from a US ISP. I live in Canada. I don't know how to do this.

      "We will get to judge them by their fruits." Well: you can do that. The rest of the world will simply be interested in whether they are safe, given the apparent lack of supervisory protocol for mental health.

    • lydiajaneyoga says:

      there are plenty of crazy people that would refuse psychiatric evaluation. there are plenty of abused women that refuse to leave their husbands. these are sticky situations, for sure. but i suppose the role of teachers and advisory boards is to evaluate when a student is not capable of assessing their own mental state, or protecting themselves. and then do something about it. and the other role of the teacher is to know when a student needs help that he or she is not capable of providing, either because he or she lacks the skills necessary, or because personal involvement interferes with assessment and provision of care. or all of the above.

  27. matthew says:

    Here's an interesting comment-thread that has just emerged on my original piece. I hope several of the concerned who have the appropriate contacts can follow up on it.

    tenpel35p · 40 minutes ago

    BTW, a real Geshe from Sera, who studied with Roach in Sera, and who is teaching in Monastery Nalanda / France said, that Roach studied all together not more than 4 years at Sera monastery. His title was given as an honorific title for his financial sponsorship.

    3 replies · active 8 minutes ago

    matthew73p · 33 minutes ago

    This would be extremely important if found to be true, tenpel. How might one go about verifying it?

    tenpel35p · 14 minutes ago

    I am a fully ordained Buddhist monk and was in Nalanda monastery, France, in Dec. 2006. During the Vinaya teachings the question about Roach came up and Geshe Jamphal replied that he knows him from Sera, that they shared classes but that Roach were often absent and that he all in all might have studied only for four years there.

    I asked (either him or another Geshe) why he has a Geshe title, and the reply was, that also cooks who didn't study can receive a Geshe title as an honour to their work. Roach is known of having financed Sera very much. For verification write a letter to Sera Monastery or call in Nalanda France.

    • Student of Dharma says:

      Matthew this here is further proof of what your goal is with this entire article and involvement. It is about a personal issue that you have not resolved. You made it public as some kind of personal outcry. The above is clear to that . STOP your gossip magazines and save it for people and star. How dare you disresepect a Geshe from a Tibetan monastary who has worked for the majority of his life saving texts and disseminating the dharma around the world.

      He does not run a cult. He teaches for Free to anyone interested in Arizona and meets with hundreds of people everytime he teaches to try and help there lives. I completely stand up for Geshe hla and his tens of thousands of students around the world. Im also a student of His Holiness and many other Tibetan Lamas, some from FPMT. This is whole thing is just abusrd, and im speaking about your writing on the issue not the holy great retreat.

      • matthew says:

        Student: there is no doubt that you and I both have personal issues wrapped up within this community that have been triggered by this tragedy.

        Because the intersection of the personal and the public are inevitable here, what's really important is transparency. I've been clear about my experience and feelings and how they influence my view.

        To some extent, you are being transparent in the same way. And yet you seem to have nothing at all to say about the event in question. Your personal feelings seem to allow you only to praise and defend Roach, as though he were not the bureaucratic head of a sangha in which someone has just died under circumstances of possible neglect.

        Our attitudes towards Roach are clear. Do you care to say anything about the actual issue, as I have done?

  28. Frank Vogt says:

    If Geshe MIcheal was absent from Sera it was because he was studying with his Lama, Khen Rinpoche in New Jersey. He did everything with Khen Rinpoche, one of the greatest monks to ever come out of Tibet. He lived with his Lama. They were either studying in New Jersey or in India.
    And when he started working in the Diamond business it was at his Lama's request.

    This has just gotten a whole new level of ridiculousness.

    • Web of lies says:

      I think most are aware of Geshe Michael's version of how he obtained his Geshe degree. Whether its true or not that's another story. Here is the man who faked HHDL's approval by sending a monk to present some fake gift…

  29. lydiajaneyoga says:

    I knew nothing of this situation coming into it. After reading this post, i went back and read the original post, as well as the open letters posted by Michael Roach and Lama Christie. I also read some background info on Michael Roach and his past relationship with Lama Christie and the controversy it created within the Tibetan buddhist hierarchy. After all this amateur research I can say that there are some SERIOUS ISSUES going on out there at Diamond Mountain. I was very concerned with the way Michael wrote about the incidents, and his actions and reactions. Lama Christie's letter is really beyond comment. Just obviously delusional. Any spiritual teacher should know better than to talk about their lover as their "world". My conclusion? Obviously both bloggers have personal involvement in the issue, but I would not trust MR as a teacher (one who slept with his student and promoted her to teacher and then when she left him for another student he continued to teach alongside her). Here in arkansas we had a similar occurrence. Some of you may have heard of Bobby Petrino, our beloved Razorback coach, sleeping with a much younger woman. He then hired her as on as a close staff member and gave her substantial financial gifts. He was fired. I see a lot of parallels here.

    P.S. If you think that 2 people, who have been on retreat for a year, need so much care as 1) you buying prepaid cell phones and loading it with their personal numbers 2) you putting thousands of dollars of your own personal/professional money into their personal bank accounts 3) buying them plane tickets and hotel rooms 4) arranging personal assistants and friends to be there with them as they leave the retreat…..why would you think its okay to completely stop communicating with them for months after they leave? why would you respect their rights to privacy? people who need so much supervision and care just to leave a place….are still going to need that supervision and care once they're gone. i agree with the first blogger that they should've been evaluated by outside professionals, and given the same amount of supervision, support and care once they left the retreat site.

  30. Ron Starbuck says:

    I'm so sorry for all involved, everyone; , Christie, Ian, their families, and everyone still involved in the Retreat for Peace.

    I'm sorry too, but this feels like something is very very wrong here, and that things in general were greatly mismanaged by the DMU leadership at many different levels.

    Hind sight is always 20/20 as they say, but I hope the leadership is moving forward with a better plan and response. DMU may may be a non-profit, but the board members are all legally bound and libel for the management of the retreat. Do they know or realize this?

    At the very least, the board members should now (immediately) hire medical and mental health professionals to be on site in a constant monitoring and evaluation of each person participating in the retreat. Required check ups should be the norm and done on a regular basis, once a month perhaps, not just once a year or every few months.

    Especially now, counseling should be offered to both the people in retreat and their caregivers. I hope that is happening, but I did not see it in any of the communications or responses I've gone through. It should be standard protocol and policy in the by-laws of the non-profit organization and general retreat rules, and management of the DMU Retreat for Peace. A lessons learned review should take place immediately and such policies, procedures, and protocol put into place immediately.

    If I were a family member of anyone participating in the three year retreat, I would be insisting on this immediately. I'm glad they can communicate with family via email, but more needs to happen I think.

    Christie and Ian should never have been allowed to go off on their own without any medical/mental professional service at hand. Especially if Ian was known to be mentally ill, unstable or unbalanced at times, or in any psychologically stress at all. Any domestic violence should have been dealt with immediately and by a professional team. It does not sound like that happened. More one thing fell through the cracks and it led to tragedy.

    When Christie and Ian went off on their own, steps should have been taken immediately, local/state/federal authorities should have been brought in to find them and bring them back into the community for proper care and transition before leaving DMU, under such medical/mental psychological team help. Saying that you are honoring their wish or did not wish to intervene in a spousal relationship/situation or their personal decision to live in a cave in the desert is unacceptable and negligent.

    Their attendants, as the primary caregivers, should have escalated this back to the Retreat for Peace Spiritual Director and he should have insisted on an intervention. It should have happened, the board should have insisted that it happen. The fact that it did not, and that it resulted in a great tragedy speaks volumes. And one wonders what communication and contact was taking place between the attendants and with Christie & Ian after they left DMU and were living in a cave. A cave? A cave without proper food, water, and sanitation. Someone was simply not thinking to allow this to happen.

    There should be a very clear cut policy and protocol, approved by a neutral medical-mental health professionals, who will monitoring a person's or couples progress through a transition back into the real world, as well as in retreat. Asking them to leave within a day or even 5 days, without them being monitored by a professional team is not only unacceptable, it's just plain wrong. Perhaps that happened, perhaps I don't have all the facts. I would of thought that someone would have mentioned it in the article and rebuttal though. Did I miss something?

    There are so many questions still. The board needs to addressed and answer those questions, assurances need to be made to families and friends of the people in retreat, and comprehensive policy/protocols need to be established immediately and posted for anyone to see. A report by a team of (neutral-third party) Medical/Mental Health Professionals need to be happen as well, it should all be completely transparent and open.

    Ron Starbuck

    Houston, Texas

  31. Katie Dunn says:

    John Stillwell,
    I am hoping to speak to you about the retreat situation. I believe you know my brother Michael Dunn? I would greatly appreciate some advice and your perspective regarding these events but I am unsure how to contact you.
    Katie Dunn
    trekdunn@pivot.net

  32. tenpel says:

    Well, the site linked above is blurring a fact. I just checked briefly the site linked above. It states:

    »When asked about any inner achievements and realizations, he prefers the Tibetan approach of not talking about things which cannot be proven to others, saying only that he has been “very fortunate.” He does like to say that his personal practice has made him “the happiest person I know.”«

    Lets look a bit into the history, Michael Roach claimed:

    I was born in America,
    And from the age of sixteen
    Up to the present day
    Have always been under the care
    Of the Diamond Angel, Vajra Yogini.
    At the age of twenty,
    I travelled to India,
    Land of the Aryas, realized beings,
    And first met the sages of Tibet.
    And then at the age of 22,
    Despite the fact that I myself
    Had no good qualities at all,
    A seed inside of me
    Suddenly awakened, a seed
    Which was planted by the many efforts
    Of the me of my past lives,
    And by the infinite blessings
    Of my Lama.
    And so I saw ultimate reality directly,
    And I achieved bodhichitta,
    The Wish for Enlightenment:
    I entered the gate
    To the first level
    Of the bodhisattvas.
    In the hours after this experience,
    I saw that the Four Arya Truths
    Were surely true themselves,
    And I perceived that the teachings of Lord Buddha
    In general, and in particular
    Those of Je Tsongkapa,
    Were perfectly, absolutely correct.
    And so then I became ordained,
    And as a means to keep
    These teachings from ever
    Being lost in our world,
    And to spread them further still,
    I entered the diamond trade.
    But I did so because
    It would be a way
    Never to forget
    What I had seen upon
    The Path of Seeing.
    For of all the objects
    In this lie of reality,
    There is only one highest metaphor
    For the ultimate reality,
    And that is the diamond.
    I labored thus for fifteen years,
    And with the income
    I tried to help preserve
    The physical Dharma
    By printing books
    And storing in computers
    Our sacred texts
    Of the Kangyur, and Tengyur,
    And writings of the Tibetan masters.
    I also did as much as I could
    To help support Tibetan monks
    Of the great monasteries
    Relocated in India.
    During this time I continued
    My studies, and in the end
    I was able to achieve
    A geshe degree of minor rank.
    And then I tried
    To bring that task
    Of the nectar of deathlessness,
    The Five Great Books,
    To people in our foreign lands.
    I completed, as well as I could,
    Many retreats in the tradition
    Of the Diamond Queen;
    And now for three years
    In isolation, in the desert
    Here in America,
    In a small Mongolian yurt,
    I have stayed together
    In the great retreat, in the proper way,
    With a Lady, who is an emanation
    Of the Angel of Diamond, a Messenger;
    And I’ve undertaken the hardships needed
    To try to complete the two stages
    Of the secret teachings.
    So too nowadays
    To help to trigger
    The final transformation into
    The Diamond Sow herself,
    I wear my hair
    As the Angel Herself does,
    And her bracelet
    And other accoutrement
    Together with my robes.
    I know very well
    That what I have
    Described in these words
    Is very difficult to believe.
    And yet I call upon the power
    Of the truth that emptiness
    And the fact that things still work
    Are in no way contradictory;
    Upon the truth that the teachings
    Of Lord Buddha are true;
    Upon the truth that the Angel
    Herself is true;
    And upon the truth,
    O my Lama
    Of Your kindness —
    Highest Lama, may Your heart not be troubled
    Highest Lama, may this rather cause You to rejoice
    Highest Lama, may You never abandon this yogi/monk;
    May You sustain me
    Deep within Your heart
    Till the very day
    That I can achieve
    The Union of the Two.

    — written 28 years later, on my 50th birthday,
    by the American monk Michael Roach
    http://thedorjeshugdengroup.files.wordpress.com/2

  33. [...] My stance is not some petty matter of disapproving “of how [my] former teacher lived his life”, as John Stillwell accuses me in his rebuttal. Roach’s life is not a private bubble: he has influenced too many other lives to be shielded from [...]

  34. matthew says:

    I've published an update to the original piece, which discusses the more than 660 comments made to it, as well as this rebuttal: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/tragedy-at

  35. ENOUGH says:

    It is time these Tibetan Lamas took responsibility for "empowering" young women who are really nothing more that ordinary girls with some good physical karma. I have been the victim or power crazy young women who have been told by lamas they are this and that, given empowerments etc. These women are the most ordinary women of very average intelligence …but of course of good physical appearance like Chiristie MacNally. ENOUGH BUDDHIST LAMAS! ENOUGH OF THIS INSULT TO WOMEN AND THE WEST! It is time women – real women showed some leadership, women with intelligence, maturity and strenght and stop letting these lams makes whores and fools of women by giving power to the likes of MacNally and her type. I feel for her – she has been mislead about her own spiriutal level, but these women in teh west are a dime a dozen – always trying to take control, always favoured and given two much by the men they seduce or who seduce them… they are the Britteny Spears and Kylie Minogues of the Buddhist world! ENOUGH – intelligent kind strong women of ANY appearance and age should be leading buddhism NOT the banal and ordinary just because men find them more physically appealing!

  36. ENOUGH says:

    Michael Roach deserves all he gets for seducing the likes of someone like this MacNally women – who seems to be completely deluded about herself. I know these women and I feel for Ian Thorson – they seem sweet and nice on the outside but have to dominate and control others – they are frustrating and not what they seem – that have hugh egos and low intelligence but often their physical and personal appeals fools people into getting dependant on them. Surely the Buddhist Lamas that seem to have invested so much in this women see this – then why use this poor average ordinary girl as some sort of Buddhist Icon. LAMAS – give the west some credit – we as women of the west do not need the likes of MacNally to be our lama – train some decent women with intelligence humbleness and kindness or F- off and stop insulting the women of the West!

  37. enough says:

    Michael Roach – you should be ashamed of yourself for seducing this girl 20 years or so your junior – it seems she has been used by men and brainwashed and told she is something special and now believes it – because men who find this pathetic creature attractive project this onto her. Michael Roach need to think with something above his waist before he ruins the lives of anymore ordinary banal young women and filling their pathetic empty heads with delusion and fantasies they are "special". Intelligence, kindness, goodness and strenght does not always "have a nice arse and tits" so learn to respect women as people and empower them for their qualities not their bodies and youth an din future these awful hurtful and tragic situations will not occur!

  38. Larry says:

    We will all have interpretations of events and one another's opinions based upon our own karmic distortions. And if we were totally purified, we wouldn't have any karmic imprints left. But I convinced we all have plenty of such imprints. There are so many different ways to view things – and each of us will have our own filter. Is that surprising? We do, however, need to be careful about assuming we understand the motivations of those who disagree, or cognize things differently whatever side of this issue we are on. We all have our delusional systems, unless anyone one on this board cares to assert that he/she has completely uprooted his/her ego (in which case most if not all of the remainder of us will most likely be unconvinced). Remember, we have countless eons of collected imprints, and we have all been in countless relations with one another over these countless eons, that is, if we believe in the dharma. So I have a request. Can we avoid jumping to conclusions about one another's motivations, or the presumption that our own karmic filters are more pure or less distorted than the other guys? I know it is natural for our egos to believe "i know see clearly what is involved here." But let's not any of us forget about what we are striving to purify. Nor should we forget our responsibility to one another, or take the position of a victim by someone else's expression of their viewpoint.

  39. [...] or endorsement of Geshe Michael Roach. As with the previous articles by Matthew Remski and the rebuttal by John Stillwell, our hope is to encourage a conversation that is elevated beyond gossip in the direction of healing [...]

  40. AnnetteVictoria says:

    "Mr. Remski uses the following adjectives in his “agenda-free, malice-free” opinion piece: fanaticism, psychosis, gross negligence, incompetence, obstructionism, danger, whitewashing, delusions of grandeur, tragically, authoritarian power, considerable thrall, secrecy, cult, buck-passing, power imbalance, mesmerize acolytes, dysfunction, insufferable person, romantic violence, terrible amputation, confused, disappointed, shoddy scholar, manipulative, tawdry, forcing devotees, rebellion, beyond the pale, rupture, catatonic, tragically self-absorbed, underfed and protein deficient, zealous, insecure, crafty, histrionic, profoundly disturbed, grandiose, strange and austere, shadow suppression, subliminal scapegoating, authoritarian control, deranged, psychosis, arcane, neo-colonial, fragile, trauma, critically troubled, ladder of power, dogma, disturbing, banished, mentally ill, terrifying isolation, cult leader, stormy sea, metastasized, criminalize, public humiliation, alienation, physical coercion, power, and Stalinist bureaucrats."

    That's quite a list. John, what do you think Matthew's motivation was/is?

  41. Xam says:

    Maybe to see this cult exposed for what it is ?

  42. [...] My stance is not some petty matter of disapproving “of how [my] former teacher lived his life”, as John Stillwell accuses me in his rebuttal. Roach’s life is not a private bubble: he has influenced too many other lives to be shielded from [...]

  43. [...] letter, April 19th – Michael Roach’s open letter, April 26th – my original post, May 4th – John Stillwell’s rebuttal, May 6th – my followup, May 19th – Michael Roach’s essay, June 2nd – NYT article, June [...]

  44. Aaron L. Hernandez says:

    I would like to know where is Christy now and what is she doing?

  45. matthew says:

    My errors were few and mostly difficult to prevent, given how none of the available sources have been verified. I have done the best I can in crowdsourcing the clearest narrative, and it has worked well so far.

    What I am after: I'll just requote my original —

    "My intention in breaking this terrible story to the meditation and yoga community, and the public at large, is fourfold, and without malice. Firstly, I wish to encourage an immediate investigation into the physical and mental safety of the remaining Diamond Mountain residents. Secondly, I wish to amplify our ongoing discussion of what constitutes grounded, empathetic, and useful spirituality – as opposed to narcissistic and dissociative delusions of grandeur that may be harmful not only to practitioners, but to the larger culture. Thirdly, I want to put pressure (and encourage others to put pressure) on the Board of Directors of Diamond Mountain University to curb the obvious whitewashing of events that has already begun (characterized by Roach’s recent open letter). The events at Diamond Mountain evoke core questions of responsible leadership, democratic accountability and therapeutic qualifications that the directors should answer to, not only for the sake of their own students, but for the wider Buddhist community, and for spiritual seekers in general, many of whom come to ashrams and retreat centres with deep psychological wounds that are tragically salted by robes and prayers and authoritarian power structures. Lastly, I’m writing in the hope of softening the grip that I believe Roach has upon his followers, many of whom, including Thorson, were friends and acquaintances of mine, long ago, when I myself (full disclosure) was also in Roach’s considerable thrall. I acknowledge that many people around the world feel that their lives have been enriched by Roach’s enthusiastic idealism, and I do not wish to demean this. But my long-view concern is that the power structure that Roach has consciously or unconsciously fostered around his charisma depresses independent thought and growth, and is now protecting itself by flinging Thorson’s corpse, and the personhood of Christie McNally, into the outer dark of spiritual rationalization."

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