Tragedy at Diamond Mountain: an Update.

Via yoga 2.0 lab
on May 19, 2012
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the author with Roach in 1999

elephant journal is an open forum. We believe in offering an uplifted forum to elevate important, sometimes difficult issues from gossip into discourse, and learning. We have also published a “rebuttal,” linked below. Matthew, the author below, has his own experience and views. Those views, and the views in the rebuttal, do not constitute an “official” view of elephant. Our official view is that we hope, again, to offer a forum for understanding, and, hopefully, real peace. ~ ed.

reporting and opinion by Matthew Remski

Two weeks after breaking this story, I thought it would be helpful to summarize the discourse around the Diamond Mountain tragedy as it has played out in these pages. In addition to collating the rich commentary and the further inquiry it suggests, I’d also like to disclose a little of my process, and earnestly address the many good and pointed criticisms that have been raised about my approach. Also, I’ll include fascinating input from the numerous personal e-mails I’ve received from around the world.


First Things First: The Law Enforcement Angle

On 5/10, I phoned the Cochise County Sherriff’s Office and spoke to a deputee who was involved with the retrieval of Ian Thorson’s body. Although the coroner’s report may not be released for another two months, the deputee was confident in saying that Thorson’s probable causes of death included dehydration, along with malnourishment, and possibly the drinking of contaminated water melted from the flash snowfall of 4/14. The deputee was also aware of the circumstances of Thorson’s isolation with McNally, but indicated that neither his relationship with Diamond Mountain nor his eviction from the property were the subject of any current investigation. With local authorities having nothing more to say about the death at this point, I believe it falls even more heavily to the Diamond Mountain Board to answer for the series of influences and decisions that form the heart of this tragedy.


Silence Still Reigns on the Mountaintop

In over 600 comments to my post, only one of my critics (Arly, who has not indicated he holds any official position with Roach’s group) has given any consideration to the 15 requests I make to the Diamond Mountain Board of Directors. As of this writing, there has been no public statement made by the organization to resolve the questions raised by their Open Letter of 4/26/12. As far as anyone publicly knows, 35 retreatants are still under the care of this non-profit Board, which is still under the leadership of Roach, and there is no public evidence that any of the power dynamics that have generated this failure in oversight and common sense have been corrected in any way.

As of this writing, the Diamond Mountain website has been periodically off-line for several days. (Roach’s letter will always be accessible through Google’s Cache.) Quickly and perhaps cruelly, McNally’s bio and other signs of her association with Diamond Mountain have been scrubbed from the site. And at least one off-shoot McNally project ( has been deleted, only hours after it became the subject of criticism in this forum. That site is archived here.


The Elephant Journal Discourse on Diamond Mountain

In the two weeks since posting, my original piece has been “viewed” over 23K times. “Read”, I’m not so sure, given the accusations embedded in some of the comments. Of the more than 600 comments, approximately 170 are my own, as I’ve tried my best to remain present to the discourse and dialogue with the many valid points raised by the respondents. Unless people are posting under several pseudonyms, there would seem to be about 99 unique respondents.  (These numbers are from an accounting I made on 5/11.) Of the 99, 24 are outright hostile to my implications and my tone: many of these engage in ad hominem attack. (It might be 25, if we count “Darth Vader”, who calls me a “self-righteous dick”, and challenges me to a fistfight. But I think Darth is joking.) The remaining 75 respondents are either strong supporters of the spirit of critical and independent inquiry that I propose, or they express various similar concerns to my own, along with appeals for greater objectivity and neutrality amongst all who dialogue, including me.

The level of upset from Roach’s students and devotees has been painfully sharp. I was fully expecting this, and this expectation plagued my ethical consideration in publishing as I did. I knew my opinions on the matter would hurt past friends and acquaintances quite deeply, and I didn’t take this lightly: these are relationships I’ll likely never enjoy again.

However. Diamond Mountain is a public institution with 501(c)(3) status, which makes regular public appeals for funding and continuous public claims about the necessity and beneficence of its mission, along with the qualifications of its leadership. Diamond Mountain is led by a man who claims that he is approaching full enlightenment, which in his metaphysics implies omniscience and the capacity to live simultaneously in an infinite number of bodies. (I’m not making this up.) As a public institution with public tax benefits, Diamond Mountain must be subject to public scrutiny, especially for possible religious excesses. Their charitable status comes with public responsibility. The same is true for Roach, who has no doubt become a public person (or perhaps an infinite number of public persons, which might complicate liability). 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 scrutiny.

There was also considerable debate over the genre of the piece I published. Although I tried to be clear that I was reporting from the widely available documents and adding my personal opinions based upon my tenure with the group, many critics, including Stillwell, complained about my lack of objectivity or journalistic neutrality. I claimed neither. I was well aware of my emotional investment in the story throughout its writing. Thankfully, because we can use all of the perspectives available, more inquiry is on its way that will express varying degress of objectivity: I’ve been informed that there will soon be major newspaper coverage of the story.


My Relationship to John Stillwell, and His Rebuttal

I knew John middling-well from 1998 to 2000. He was the closest personal student to Roach with whom I was conversational. He has been an administrative leader for Roach’s teaching work from the mid-90s, although I don’t know how much work he does for Roach now. Back in the day, Roach constantly referred to John as his “right arm.” As I watched Roach unravel before my eyes, I remember asking John frankly over curries in the Lower East Side in 1999 whether he was concerned that his teacher was actually taking a harem of female student/lovers (including McNally) into his upcoming 3-year retreat. John refused to answer directly, but rather turned the question into a quasi-Buddhist teaching on subjectivity. It’s too long ago for me to attribute an exact quote, but I remember him saying something like: We have no idea what’s true. He may well be having sex with all of them. You have to make up your mind as to how best to see it. How you see it says more about you than about him. And so on. It was a deft display of metaphysical damage-control. But I don’ t think he realized that he was confirming my suspicions, patronizing my intelligence, and modeling a shrewdly rationalized secrecy, all at the same time. We split the bill, and never spoke of it again.

True to form, John’s rebuttal focuses more on my ungenerous perceptions of the group dynamics than on any of the action items I suggest, namely: the 15 requests to the Board. Most disappointingly, he actually misquotes me in his catalogue of my errors, which I’ve pointed out in the first comment you’ll see in the thread. I reached out to Waylon Lewis, EJ publisher, to ask him to correct the misquotes. Waylon didn’t get around to it soon enough for my liking, so I contacted John directly by email to ask him to revise. He gave leave for Waylon to revise, and then demanded by email that I change some of the language of my opening paragraph, which he felt made the Board look uncaring in general. I took his complaints to heart, and wrote back with a revised paragraph that addressed some of his concerns. My hope was that a behind-the-scenes dialogue would begin to enrich the discourse towards a more mutually acceptable narrative of events, so that the stark questions that shimmer beyond opinions (How could McNally have ascended to Retreat Leader status? etc.) might be addressed. But John refused to communicate about it. It feels like once again we’re splitting the bill, rising from the table, and surely on the verge of never speaking again.

John’s central complaint seems to be with my harshness with the Board. Many Board members are perhaps his friends, and I’m sure he has first-hand knowledge of their industry and care. My allegations of Board incompetence and negligence do not accord with what he feels, because they imply lack of concern. This is really sticky, because I have no doubt that the Board loved Thorson and McNally and deeply cared for their well-being. But as anyone who has been a member of a family knows, love and care do not always add up to clarity in action, especially when the love and care is obfuscated by power, shame, and emotional indebtedness.

The question of intentionality is the murkiest of all. Did John intend to railroad my probing curry-questions back in 1999, or did he intend to help me develop my own critical faculties? Probably a little of both. Does Roach intend to help people improve their lives, or does he intend to build a self-isolating kingdom of solipsistic bliss? Probably a little of both. Did he intend to help me overcome my clinical depression those many years ago, or to enlist me in his own grandiose dream? Probably a little of both. Does the Board want to justify its authority and competence, or reach for outside help? Probably a little of both.

As a student of literary theory, I’ve understood for a long time that we cannot definitively assess the intentionality of any author of a work. Likewise, I would never definitively attribute intentionality to Roach’s megalomania: the intentions of someone who really believes their own grandiosity are impossible to parse. If any group is going to hold and and help and heal the Diamond Mountain story, or any other story like it, it won’t be through amputating a bad-intentioned limb or extracting a tumour. It will come through an analysis (Greek for “unknotting”) of the vast web of relationships that weave it together: relationships in which intentions change and influence each other, and suffer from gaping blind spots. As much as Roach and his followers would probably like to think it’s all about him, it’s not. It’s about how our traumas, despairs, and wishes all coalesce into a psycho-social Ponzi scheme of tragic distraction.

But if really pressed, I would venture Roach’s intentionality to be more clean than dirty, if “clean” also implies “naïve”. Because while he does show many performative and Machiavellian talents (I’ll list a few select details below), he definitely lacks the shrewdness of a real crook. His Open Letter is certainly well-intentioned. But as the public relations disaster it has become clearly shows, it contains zero realpolitik. He could well have maintained complete silence on the matter, a move that would have likely strengthened his core support from those who crave a show of power more than transparency. If he had, I and tens of thousands of others wouldn’t have heard of Thorson’s death for months, if ever. His letter intended to clarify events for his students, but it plainly exposed his insular worldview to those who do not adulate him. I imagine that if he has retained lawyers since publishing the letter they are certainly wishing he had kept mum. You don’t admit to knowing of Ian’s psychiatric vulnerabilities for years before describing how you evicted him from a desert retreat without professional medical help, unless you truly believe you were doing the right thing. Naive self-disclosure is not a tendency of the malicious.


Addressing the Criticisms of My Post:


Finding the Facts amongst the Trees and Forest

My piece was a mixture of reporting on openly available sources (to which I linked for all to compare), and my interpretation of those sources, based upon my knowledge of the group. It’s important to remember that all sources so far are uncorroborated (including my own memories!), and that Roach’s Open Letter is a group effort made by a corporation under public and possibly legal pressure. I was aware from the outset that given these sources my reporting could not capture the absolute factual truth of the situation, and so I invited refinement via crowdsourcing. I appended corrections within 24 hours.

Most corrections were minor. I got a few dates wrong, and I misrepresented the housing situation for retreatants at Diamond Mountain. The retreatants are actually all living in houses built to county code. I confess here to being in thrall to my memory of Roach describing with great pride the camping austerities of the early days.

The main correction of substance involved including Roach’s statement that he and the Board alerted the police to the contents of McNally’s talk on 2/4/12.  Roach doesn’t describe this in detail in his open letter, which led me to presume that the disclosure was not clear enough to provoke further law enforcement interest. In any case, this omission created the impression that the Board did less than they did, and this was a mistake. My contention had been that the strongest disclosure would have evolved from professional, on-site investigation at that point.

However, this recent story in the Phoenix New Times suggests that that may have actually happened. It reports that Board member Robert Ruisinger disclosed the talk to the Sheriff’s department on 2/13/12 — nine days after McNally’s talk. The article goes on to describe that deputies actually did come to Diamond Mountain property, and even questioned the retreatant-doctor who had sutured Ian’s stab wounds. This is not explicit in Roach’s simplified version:

The Board of course felt a moral and legal obligation to report the contents of the talk to the local county police department, who made a record of the report but decided not to follow up further.

Nor does it seem to accord with Roach’s later assertion that “At no time did police enter the campus property or the retreat valley”, although this assertion might only refer to the sequence of events surrounding the couple’s eviction, and might have been made for the benefit of sponsors wanting reassurance that the retreat boundaries had not been violated.

In any case, between the Open Letter, various news reports, and McNally’s letter (which wildly contradicts everything else), the nature of the trees remains unclear, and will remain so until there is a full investigative report with complete corroboration, which might take many months. The forest, however, is filled with many shadows.


Culture, or Cult?

By far the most heated complaint of my critics was my usage of the word “cult” to describe the group devoted to Roach and McNally. Many felt that it tainted the discourse unfairly from the outset. Commenter Jacob Kyle very astutely relates:

From a young age, I can recall many instances when some community was referred to as a “cult”. I remember there being a community somewhere in the woods near where I grew up in the Northwest, a group of houses surrounded by a tall green wall. I drove by it one day with my family and my mother or some adult pointed out that this was a cult. I had been sufficiently indoctrinated to know that “cult” meant “bad”, meant “insane” and probably had something to do with demons and suicide. My point is that Matthew falls into the habit of so many political ideologues by appealing to a term of generalization so loaded with emotion that its use cannot be analytical, but rhetorical. It is a rhetorical device that does more to foster fear and divisiveness than it does the kind of novel understanding required to be true to the specific contextual conditions of a unique community. It tosses Roach’s community into the irrational bin of “mad cultists”, thereby subverting a more sophisticated understanding of the reasoning behind certain practices.

In a personal e-mail I received from an acquaintance and fellow EJ writer, I was advised:

I do not find it useful to use loaded terms like “cult” in reference to such incidents. It stifles open communication and puts the other side on the defensive. Groups and individuals are complex and it is best to allow the “real story” to reflect that complexity.

I’m really grateful for this feedback. I’m aware of the consequences of the word-usage and the potential for over-simplification. But the reasoning of Kyle and others does not resolve the question for me, which is not a matter of definition so much as one of aesthetics, or, as Kyle would say: rhetoric. “Cult” is jarring and confrontational, and I think it has a balancing potential for the “it’s-all-good” tone of Diamond Mountain defenders. In a way, I use words in the same way I use herbs or food or daily routine changes with my Ayurveda clients: to directly and sensually address a given imbalance. Roach has been presenting his airbrushed and saccharine view of his organization with impunity from his soapbox for years, and has now issued a corporate apologia for Thorson’s death from within the logic of his circular metaphysics. I believe a completely different labeling of the situation can push all of us closer to clarity. My stridency might have therapeutic, if not definitional, value.

What I know for sure is that my own story of self-extraction from cultic environments and fascinations was speedily advanced on the day an outside friend who’d known me for years looked me in the eye and said: “You are in a cult. You know that, don’t you?” I protested, of course. But my friend didn’t back down. He repeated the word several times, spitting out the c and the t, and gripping his tongue around the l. The word broke through a particularly stubborn and neurotic defense, and made me look carefully at my dependency and fear of leaving.

For some scholars of religion and sociology, “cult” has a specific definitional threshold, but the jury is far from settled. Sociologists who argue for value-neutrality and advocate the analysis of groups according to their own terms wish we’d all replace the term with “New Religious Movement”. But others feel they can’t, because “New Religious Movement” is vanishingly vague when we started using it to designate both Heaven’s Gate and Anusara Yoga.

One of the more commonly quoted definitions of “cult” was articulated at an ICSA/UCLA Wingspread Conference on Cultism in 1985:

Cult (totalist type): A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.), designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders, to the actual or possible detriment of members,  their families, or the community. (West & Langone, 1986, pp. 119-120)

How does this all apply to Diamond Mountain? Let’s take a look:

  • Great/excessive devotion to a person or idea? Obviously.
  • Manipulative techniques? Cf: Roach’s constant exaggerations and PR. And, for a future article: his gaze and bullying speech patterns.
  • Isolation from former friends and family? Not overt, although obsessive meditation retreats in the Arizona desert might certainly isolate members from non-members. Then there are the countless awkward conversations over Christmas dinner between believers and non-believers.
  • Debilitation? Not that I’m aware of, but I would be interested to know how many of Roach’s core students are B12 deficient after 15+ years of dietary restriction, and how many, regardless of constitution, might have been encouraged to regularly fast.
  • Special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience? How about the virtual absence of open-ended inquiry meditation from Roach’s curriculum? As JOsh reports in the comments:

…from talking to students, the practice of the higher teachings involved literally hours of ‘canned’ reflections that came from his [Roach’s] textbooks. meditation as i have learned and practiced in other settings was entirely absent… the teachings were extended ‘reflections’ that involved tracing a line of argument or doctrine in detail. this isn’t without precedent in buddhism or necessarily a problem, but does give him a tremendous amount of power over his students’ inner lives.

  • Powerful group pressures? I certainly felt from 1998 to 2000 a powerful and anxiety-ridden pressure to attend all of Roach’s teaching events, wherever they were in the world and regardless of how much they cost to attend, lest I should “miss” something. Roach had a very business-savvy way of leaving almost every topic “unfinished”, to up the ante for future attendance. A manufactured scarcity of knowledge is central to the charismatic economy. The leader’s power rises in conjunction with his inaccessibility, which I believe is one of the hidden purposes and effects of globe-trotting guru-ism.
  • Information management? Insofar as DMU philosophy is self-isolating from other branches of Buddhism, I would say: yes. JOsh comments: “DM’s tibetan language and buddhist philosophy are so idiosyncratic as to be unintelligible to outsiders.”
  • Suspension of individuality or critical judgment? Someday I’ll present a video-diorama of Roach-trained teachers, who down to the last one eerily mimic his jolly-bullying presentation style and even his speech patterns, while presenting what they have learned from him verbatim with zero critical overview.
  • Promotion of total dependency? Obviously, radical forms of guru yoga are both taught and felt.

There are other measures of cultishness. According to the “Group Psychological Abuse Scale”, the current metric sociologists are using to assess cultic dynamics, we are instructed to look for, among other things:

  • Members postponing personal, vocational, and educational goals in order to work for the group.
  • Members being discouraged from displaying negative emotions.
  • Members who feel like they are part of a special elite.
  • Members who learn special exercises (e.g., meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues) to push doubts or negative thoughts out of consciousness.
  • Raising money being the major goal of the group.
  • Members who are incapable of independent critical thinking.
  • Members who believe their leader is divine.
  • Members who proselytize.

Every single one of these descriptions is arguably applicable to the devotees of Roach.

Still, the word is sticky, and I’m sure the argument will continue. I’ll leave the last word here to Herbert L. Rosedale, Esq., and Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. and their essay On Using the Term “Cult”:

Even though the term “cult” has limited utility, it is so embedded in popular culture that those of us concerned about helping people harmed by group involvements or preventing people from being so harmed cannot avoid using it. Whatever the term’s limitations, it points us in a meaningful direction. And no other term relevant to group psychological manipulation (e.g., sociopsychological influence, coercive persuasion, undue influence, exploitive manipulation) has ever been able to capture and sustain public interest, which is the sine qua non of public education. If, however, we cannot realistically avoid the term, let us at least strive to use it judiciously.


Was My Post Malicious?

I have a clear personal grievance against Roach, for which I feel no need to apologize, and for which I take responsibility. I met him when I was profoundly depressed and wayward, and I surrendered to his charisma and messianic exuberance.  In my desperation and loneliness I bought his Pollyanna philosophy with my last intellectual penny, along with his continual assertions that every other therapeutic tool available to us through the hard work of our general culture was bankrupt. “Psychotherapy can’t help you, but Buddhism can”, he would say. And I nodded and wept, not understanding that my pain was interpersonal, not metaphysical. I needed to find authenticity, relationship and intersubjectivity. Roach, through a toxic combination of zeal and narcissism, threw me and many others off the hard trail towards integration. I spun my wheels in his dharma-mud, digging myself deeper, disrupting my home and family life, wasting years I’ll never get back. And not one person in his sangha ever looked me in the eye during all those years and asked: How are you feeling about all of this? Because being part of the group wasn’t about relationship. Being there was about Roach and his fantastical ideas, and, I suppose, eventually gaining enough moxy to mimic his grandiosity.

As many of my critics point out, I am definitely angry. Then they go on to patronizingly suggest that I haven’t done my healing work, or that anger is a sign of immaturity, something to be ashamed of, something unethical. I think they’re angry that I’m angry. But perhaps beneath the indignation they are unconsciously threatened by my freedom to be angry, my freedom to think and express exactly what they may be so painfully repressing.

I am angry about my lost years and Roach’s megalomania. But most of all I am angry at how what duped a younger and more vulnerable me so long ago has now spun itself into a corporate web of solipsism and power and self-justification, resulting in the appointment of an unqualified student/ex-lover as Retreat Director, and the untreated madness of her husband. I hope that being transparent about my anger models for Roach’s students who now teeter on the fence the fact that anger is usually necessary to bring about the rupture of any dysfunctional relationship.

I write with wrath, but not malice. It is my fervent hope that through this discourse Roach’s devotees may be exposed to the various tools of integration: skepticism, shadow work, the recognition of magical thinking. And most of all, I hope they heal their failure to develop ambivalence. As Melanie Klein showed: if we cannot see or accept the simultaneous light and dark within ourselves and others, we will divide our world into perfect Roaches who hold the keys to our salvation, and satanic Remskis out to destroy the good and the true. Neither really exist.


Dirty Jewels on the Comment Thread

In the more than 600 comments on the original post so far, several issues of note have arisen – some old, some new – that I think warrant further attention.  Of course, online sources can’t easily be verified, but I’d like to give these commenters the benefit of the doubt, and collate their input here, along with the further questions that emerge.


Ian Thorson, d. 4/22/2012

Ian’s malnutrition:

Neighbouring rancher Jerry Kelly writes that one of the Emergency Rescue Team workers who found Thorson’s body said that he weighed less than 100 pounds. The Cochise County deputy I spoke to also said that malnourishment was probably a factor in his death. We hear from commenter Warren Clarke (and can presume from the letter of Venerables Chandra and Akasha) that Ven. Chandra was likely a key food supplier for Thorson and McNally as they were hiding in the cave. If he was their source, why was Ven. Chandra unable to procure enough food for the couple? Was there no-one to help him? Was he so bound by secrecy to the couple that he could not ask for help, even as he might have become aware that they were ailing? Was this the assistant assigned to the couple by the Board? Was the assignment of a devotee really the best choice in a situation fraught with dangerous devotion and secrecy? Was he so blinded by devotional perspective and emptiness theory that he may have interpreted the couple’s sickness and malnutrition as the continuation of a retreat with “great success and joy”, as he described it in his joint letter?


A Bomb from Sid Johnson, former Diamond Mountain Board of Directors Member:

I’ll just quote directly from commenter Sid Johnson:

I was involved with this group from 1999 to 2005, and sat on the original board of directors at the beginning of the first 3-year retreat. I could write a book (and maybe someday I will) about the dysfunction and general madness that permeated every aspect of this bizarre organization. It is embarrassing now to admit that I willfully participated, and I sense it is this same embarrassment that keeps other former members from coming forward. At some point I will disclose more, like the details of the “initiation” I witnessed, including the infamous incident in which Mr. Roach stabbed himself in the hand in front of a room full of students, setting the precedent for magical interpretations of violence. I share Matthew’s concern that others may be in danger…

Roach, stabbing himself in public?


Roach Apparently Broke DMU’s Weapon’s Prohibition Himself

Several respondents confirmed Johnson’s report of the self-stabbing, including one to me directly by personal e-mail.

In the comment thread, Greg reports:

I was there, but my memory is vague now. Christie and Roach were lecturing together at DM, and Christie said something about devotion to partners (Lamas?). Then, in a half joking sort of way, she said something about how she wouldn’t be surprised if Roach might hurt himself if she asked him to. Roach immediately picked up the knife with one hand and, despite faint protests from Christie, seemed to stab his other hand, which was placed flat on the ground (they were both seated on the floor). It was hard to see. Christie appeared distressed, and his hand was quickly wrapped in a kata, which then showed drops of blood. The lecture continued. I remember wondering at the time if it was a planned stunt.

Phurba comments:

I also thought of this and believe it is a solid reference point for this situation, especially considering Roach’s condemnation of possessing or using a weapon at DM in his public letter.


Scrutiny of Roach’s Metaphysics: Gelukpa or New-Age?

Many respondents to my piece focused on the philosophical teachings of Roach, fuelling the long-running controversy around whether or not what he presents can be held as coherent with Gelukpa orthodoxy. But at many points the discourse also explored whether his radical (I use the word “solipsistic”) interpretation of emptiness theory might play a role in the ungrounded self-referentiality that allows dangerous situations to be interpreted as spiritual opportunities, like Thorson’s violent outbursts as signs of “sensitivity” or McNally’s near-mortal swashbuckling as “divine play”.

Of particular dispute is Roach’s oft-claimed mantra of “everything comes from karma”, his simplified (or simplistic) interpretation of Madhyamika Prasangika theory, which he has claimed for 25 years is the “highest” view of Buddhist philosophy – meaning that the flaws of other views disqualify them as paths to authenticity and full evolution. Frank Jude Boccio, an ordained Zen priest, points out in the comment thread that not only is this rhetoric divisive “sectarian bullshit”, but that the Buddha also seems to have taught against such a narrow view. Referencing the Pali Canon, Boccio describes the five causal orders that comprise experiential reality: the inorganic, the organic, the karmic, the natural, and the psychic. Boccio is a good resource for the discussion of worldview at Diamond Mountain because he has experience of the sangha there as a visiting teacher, and can describe how its knowledge base has significant blinders. He writes:

When I first moved to Tucson, I was amazed at how when I started teaching, it seemed everyone I’d meet with any interest or curiosity in buddhism thought Michael Roach and his group WERE buddhism. As my wife once said, “It seems he has a monopoly on the dharma here in Tucson.” I sat in on a course given on The Diamond Sutra and was quite surprised to find that we’d not be reading the Sutra at all: the text was nothing but “commentary” from Roach! The others were equally surprised when I shared that in my zen training, reading/reciting the Diamond Sutra for myself everyday for almost a year PRECEDED any lectures from my teacher! As I told them, I was encouraged to think for myself and question what I studied.

Sometime last year, I was invited to give monthly talks at Three Jewels, because some of the students, aware that all they knew of buddhism was what they have learned from Roach, and curious to hear of other perspectives thought my non-sectarian style would provide some balance. These talks draw very few people, however. But those who do attend often express surprise at the divergence from what they have been taught. One profound point, I think relevant here, is the notion that EVERYTHING that happens is a result of “karma.” When I shared that the Buddha seems to have taught AGAINST this view, and offered five different forms of causality, only one of which is “karma” (based upon volition) I could see some major cognitive dissonance arising!

Another Diamond Mountain epithet (“Roachism”, as they are coming to be called) that deeply rankles more nuanced interpreters of Buddhist philosophy is first stated in the comment thread by Eric Brinkman, who says that he has been Roach’s student for twelve years and flies around the world to film Roach’s events. He writes: “What we teach is that if you are kind to others you can reach your wildest dreams.” I remember this claim from fourteen years ago, when Roach gave entire courses on the power of virtuous actions in “Creating Your Own Buddha Paradise”, which you could furnish with dancing girls and Crazy Horse jamming in your living room, if that was your thing. In further comments, Brinkman’s critics were clearly disgusted at the jingoism. (Integralhack suggested it sounds like “Buddhism meets The Secret”.) I personally think it’s a profoundly despairing position in the Kierkegaardian sense: a magical-thinking trauma-response lacking existential depth, which punishes good and decent people for “perceiving” the inevitable sorrow life brings.


Scrutiny of Roach’s Vows: Should He Have Disrobed When He and McNally Became Lovers? And What About Us Regular People Who Like Buddhism but Still Enjoy Sex and Want to Have Authentic Relationships?

After Roach and McNally came out of the yurt in 2003 and declared their partnership, their supporters (cued by their public statements) began to claim that spiritual partnership is common within Gelukpa tantric practice, and acceptable for qualified monks, although it normally remains hidden. Some supporters still claim that the Dalai Lama has spoken publicly about his own spiritual consorts, but none provide references to this point. Roach’s liberal interpretation of celibacy has been roundly criticized by the more orthodox, who reference Roach’s censure by the Public Office of the Dalai Lama in 2006 over this precise issue.

What Roach’s followers do with this dispute is a classic study in the resolution of cognitive dissonance: if a pillar of your leader’s credibility (his claimed celibacy) is found to be shaky, it is easier to re-invent the entire culture to accord with his behaviour than to admit that he is an opportunist or a liar. Because if he is a liar, your emotional and financial investments in him are a sunk-cost, and this is intolerable. Thus: Roach must have taken a consort because the Dalai Lama does, although the Dalai Lama of course would keep his own behaviour under wraps. I’ve even heard Roach’s students imply that the Dalai Lama may publicly disapprove of Roach’s consort practice because he is bound by tradition, but that secretly (always secretly!) he has given Roach his assent, and secretly (always secretly!) hopes that Roach’s liberality begins to change the stuffy and misogynistic Gelukpa culture from within. The investment of devotion can compel people to rationalize anything.

But honestly: the sexual intrigue aspect is ridiculous to me, and terribly sad. I for one would have hoped that Roach and McNally had had wildly fulfilling shrieking-out-loud yurt-bouncing sex, but I’m afraid that their own views, along with the spiritual culture they were appropriating, were too sex-conflicted for them to have any real orgiastic release. Whether he should have disrobed is a doctrinal issue of little importance to me as a non-believer, until I see that his refusal to disrobe begins to fit the general pattern of Roach always seeming to want it both ways. Monk but not a monk. Businessman and renunciate. Toe-the-line conservative and crazy wisdom provocateur. Good boy and bad boy. Even this is forgivable to me as one who appreciates a good public chameleon, except that with Roach, one persona is always lying to the other, probably so that the cash can continue to pour in. The most famous example of this outright lying is in Roach’s account, during the Retreat Teachings of 2000 (To the Inner Kingdom, October 2000), of his yurt-bound “aloneness”:

…We were alone, each person. The nights are very dark, and there are many, many strange sounds…

…Every kind of creepy, crawly, desert thing has crawled in people’s yards and yurts, and sometimes very frightening things, but I think, the hardest think is the loneliness, to be alone for month after month.

We see each other for the holidays, like Sojong, confession ceremony, twice a month. When we’re in deep retreat we don’t see each other at all, so for a month or maybe two months. Each person has been very strong, become strong, and they showed a lot of courage, and respected the retreat boundaries. They’ve worked very, very hard. They worked for, some of them years, to learn the meditations and visualizations that they have to do. We don’t allow ourselves any other kind of stimulation, there’s only meditation and some study of what to meditate about, and each person has done it very, very well.

Outsiders should understand that if in 2000 Roach were to have revealed that his solitude actually included a shared bed with McNally, his ambitious fundraising for various projects would have ground to a halt amidst general confusion and dismay. I don’t mind a guy who likes to play both sides of his identity when the purpose is aesthetic. But when the play is political-economic and seeks to colonize people’s enthusiasm and cash with a narcissistic philosophy that provides cold consolation for their despair, I get angry.

And what happens to a community comprised mostly of householders whose primary teachers are engaged in what they describe as non-sexual intimacy, the nature of which is shrouded in a radiant hush? Roach and McNally are intimate, but they don’t have sex. They are too elevated to be “sexual”. They have renounced desire so much that they can stoop to engage in the “dirtiness” of esoteric intercourse, but only to inflate their meditative grandiosity, so that they can end war in the Middle East and stop global warming. What I witnessed back in my day was a lot of couples devoting themselves to Roach, idealizing the celebrity relationship to the diminishment of their own, being confronted by this model of sexless sex, and becoming very confused in the bedroom. Should we or shouldn’t we? Is kissing and cuddling a faster way to enlightenment than woman-on-top? If I’m aroused, can I still be focused on the Tibetan alphabet?

After my tenure with the group, Roach and McNally began traveling the world teaching the spiritual practices they claimed would transform every relationship into a “spiritual partnership”. Forget the Gestalt prayer or intersubjectivity, or even simple presence: spouses now had to be angels to each other, heroes, gods – and the bedroom became a mandala-spaceship of super-sexy no-touchy transcendence.

To give an idea of how knotted up this all was and went on to be, I’ll quote from an old interview given by Roach and McNally back in 2003. Roach confesses:

…it’s completely wrong for an ordained person to have any form of sexual activity. It’s completely forbidden. It’s the first of all monks’ vows. And a monk can never engage in sexual activity at all. And I never have. I mean, I’ve masturbated, and things that are wrong, and I’ve gone to my lama and confessed them, and I think any ordained person who is honest will say it’s a struggle, and then over years of practice you become self- celibate. And if you’re honest, I heard that many great lamas have said that the only disciples they believe are the ones who come and confess things to them. Like, “I looked at a woman.” I never broke any of those vows in a major way. I never had any kind of sexual contact with a woman since I was 21 or 22. And then in very extraordinary rare cases, it’s important, it’s useful, to do special kind of physical yoga with a divine being. And in the vinaya texts, I think even in the Tsotik, which is the basic huge vinaya text for the monasteries, you don’t break your vows if you engage in high yoga with a divine being. It isn’t anything normal at all.

That’s the first part of the answer. The second part of the answer is in the actual practice of higher physical forms of tantric yoga, these are extremely difficult, physically, extremely – they are unpleasant, quite unpleasant for the physical body, and quite … [Christie: exhausting] difficult for the physical body. They are like doing yoga for four hours a day or five hours a day, and it’s not fun. And it’s not a joke, and it’s a life-or-death attempt to become a being who can serve all living creatures before you die, and I don’t perceive it in any other way. And it’s no fun. And people who truly want to learn those practices, unless they are extremely disciplined and dedicated, they would quit within a week.

So kiddies: be together, but don’t have sex. Or: have something like sex, but certainly don’t enjoy it. Because if you do enjoy it, you know it’s not working towards its ultimate purpose of saving the whole wide world. This sex-not-sex business is not fun. Okay? It’s really hard. It’s not fun! Most of you are wimps who would totally give up on this great holy sex-not-sex path on like the first night. Okay? So don’t get any sexy ideas. It’s not fun! Got it?

I can’t think of a more destructive message to share with people who genuinely struggle in their relationships to come towards deeper authenticity and embodied intimacy. It presents an impossible ideal based upon a metaphysics that takes the most common and tender of human interactions as a sign of debauchery. As if we all didn’t already have enough self-doubt and bodily self-hatred to deal with already.

Interestingly, statement  #1 on the “Group Psychological Abuse Scale” (the current working metric sociologists are using to assess cultic dynamics) is “The group does not tell members how to conduct their sex lives.” Respondents are requested to gauge whether this statement matches their group experience on a scale of 1 (not at all characteristic of the group) to 5 (very characteristic of the group).

The sexuality-contortionism is one thing. But as a therapist, I see a deeper relational issue here at work: that of endless romantic projection and magical thinking displacing the will towards presence and communication within the love relationship. In Roach’s economy, the dyad does not relate to each other to mutually embody empathy and growth. Rather: each partner uses the other to improve their karmic bank balance.

Ben reports from the comment thread:

Another aspect of the teachings at DM is that if you see something undesirable in your partner, instead of dealing with it with them through discussion or counseling, you plant the karmic seeds to see a perfect partner and they will change. I’ve pointed out that this totally negates the thoughts, motivations and will of the other person and have been told that, no, the other person still has thoughts, motivations and will but they are all coming from you.

What is tragic about this self-focused approach is that counseling and conscious communication can be such a profound path to walk in our discovery of the other.

There are aspects of Roach’s relationship teaching that seem borderline autistic, insofar as autism-spectrum challenges often involve a failure to develop a “theory of other minds”. Roach and McNally missed the entire gift of relationship, it would seem. Instead of experiencing relationship as a way of truly encountering the insoluble mystery of the other and negotiating difference, they seem to have used it to mirror for each other the iteration of fantastical and desperate wishes.

I’m not surprised they didn’t last together. They were legally divorced December 1st, 2010 in Yavapai County, Arizona. Their legal marriage, of course, had also been a secret. Which is why, perhaps, no eyebrows were raised at McNally’s very public wedding to Thorson in Montauk, New York, on October 4th of that same year. (Two months before the divorce.)


Scrutiny of Roach’s Spiritual Claims

It is an insult to ones fellow humans to claim revelatory knowledge. No matter how it is dressed up, it is the ultimate nyah-nyah. It is particularly insulting within Roach’s appropriated Tibetan tradition. And yet he has done exactly this, continually by implication since at least the mid-90s, and then directly via public announcement in 2003. In recent years he is said to have upped the ante amongst his close personal students by claiming that his revelations have brought him to a state of “No-More-Learning”, an achievement in tantric metaphysics akin to saying: “I am on the verge of full enlightenment.” For those of you out of the loop, Tibetan Buddhist tantric enlightenment is not some chilled-out state of mind. It is divinity itself: omniscience, omnilocality, and immortality. Plus: not needing to eat or defecate, being able to fly anywhere in the universe instantly, and having bones made of diamonds.

Roach has built his brand on the fumes of a mystical experience he had in his early twenties. When I started with him, he would tell his story in the subjunctive mood at almost every gathering. Everyone knew the story wasn’t hypothetical: it was a thinly-veiled autobiographical tale, which the tradition couldn’t allow him to declare openly. He spoke of his meditative epiphany in the second person: “you’ve studied with your lama for many years, and you’re meditating for hours every day, and suddenly you become aware of how you are constructing and naming your world…”. The second person address preserved a veneer of anonymity, but also functioned to possess many of us with the captivating suggestion: this could happen to me.

His spiritual claims were a very sharp hook for his early-adopters. I myself longed for something similar, and was shaken to the core by Roach’s tears when he spoke of his memory so wistfully. It took me years to realize that I and almost everyone around me has had consistently similar epoches while entranced by art or nature or a lover. The difference is that it never occurred to me to mythologize and commodify my most private ecstasies.

But his coming-out with McNally in 2003 was a challenge to the Tibetan cultural orthodoxy that necessitated the dropping of his 90’s subterfuge and required a full-monty declaration of his spiritual powers. In his January 16th 2003 “Letter to My Lamas” he versifies:

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.

Well, the Buddhist world had conniptions over this one. And they’re still upset, if the comment-thread to my post provides a good sample. Not only because it is illegal to announce such realizations (because they are unprovable and therefore pedagogically useless, not to mention culturally embarassing), but because he goes on to directly utilize this claim to justify his heterodox behaviour:

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,
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.

The takeaway here is that Roach claims continuous mystical insight that puts him on the verge of omniscience and allows him to publicly crown McNally not as his lover but as an actual deity.  What is the cost of believing all of this? For many, it costs years of devotional service and millions of dollars in tax-deductible donations. For McNally, it initiates a spiral of seeming self-delusion. (Imagine your powerful lover, 20 years your senior, declaring you to be a goddess!) For some, it entails eventually following McNally into retreat. For Thorson, it entailed following even further, to the very end of his life-blood.


Scrutiny of Roach’s Geshe Degree and Relationship to Sera Mey Monastery

Roach has continually stated orally and in published bio notes since I met him in 1998 that his Geshe degree was granted at the culmination of 20 years of study at Sera Mey Monastery, which is currently located, in exile, in Bylakuppe, Karnataka province, South India. The details of these 20 years are interrogated by the writers of a now-defunct site (but handily web-archived) that was critical of Roach. When pressed for more detail, Roach refines the narrative to say that much of this education occurred in the New Jersey home of his root-teacher, Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin. Roach himself provides an extensive narrative of his education in this interview, in which he describes successfully fulfilling the six rigorous examination requirements, including publicly debating philosophy before the full assembly of doctoral candidates. But some dispute the authenticity of his account, and the degree itself. In the comment thread to my article, Tenpel writes:

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.

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 [sic] 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…

If one understands the rigorous studies and the study content in the Gelug monasteries to attain a Geshe title for such a person it is clear that this cannot be accomplished under a single teacher in New Jersey.

I remember studying Gelukpa epistemology at Sera Mey for a month in the fall of 1999 with the scholar Geshe Thubten Rinchen, while Roach simultaneously translated. The monastery was like any bustling Indian city. I remember rising at 4am and walking amongst the barrack-like houses of chanting young men, and coming across the cookhouse where a score of burly monks would be stirring a great vat of bubbling dal with 10-foot-long wooden paddles. There were a thousand feral dogs, and courier-monks speeding by on farting auto-rickshaws, their robes flying. I remember the ragged and unwashed boys, the butter statues, the prayer wheels, the temples, and the clouds of dust rolling on the hot wind. I got deliriously sick there after dropping my room key into an open sewage toilet and having to fish it out with my bare hands – a Jungian moment if there ever was one. I remember vividly feeling that there were countless things I would never understand about this culture, its politics, its language, and its sentiments. It was one of those times in which the impenetrability of otherness provided a perfect mirror for the mystery of my own personhood. In the dust of Karnataka, I felt the exhaustion of my own journey.

Indeed, the inner workings of Sera Mey monastery are exceedingly complex. Financial sponsorship is necessary and pursued from multiple sources, especially as the monastery attempts to provide for its exile community a basic level of literacy and nutrition. The organizational structure is decentralized and nodal, with numerous administrators responsible for securing funding sources from familial and governmental patrons, as well as sympathetic benefactors from abroad. The economy seems to be a patchwork of bursting-at-the-seams and just-getting-by. Roach’s philanthropy did not likely involve handing poster-board-sized checks over to the monastery CEO in public ceremonies, or endowing a publicly-accountable trust or foundation. What is much more likely is that pockets of funding made their way to individual administrators, who through time became Roach supporters and validators.

In January of 2003, when Roach made his public declaration of mystical achievement, he sent his claims directly to his Sera Mey contacts, asking them for spiritual endorsements, which would, of course, attract more funding:

  • Gyalrong Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Ngawang Thekchok
  • Kongpo Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Jampa Donyo
  • Gyume Khensur Rinpoche Geshe Trinley Tobgye
  • Sermey Geshe Thupten Rinchen
  • Sermey Geshe Lobsang Thardo
  • Sermey Geshe Thupten Tenzin

All of these teachers and administrators, except for Sermey Geshe Lobsang Thardo, allegedly wrote back to Roach within a month with their endorsements. (I say “allegedly” because it should be noted that the originals of these letters have never been posted, and that Roach himself has translated them from Tibetan.) Roach also wrote to his root-teacher Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin in New Jersey, and to the Dalai Lama. He received no publicized response from either. He also sent his claims to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the head of FPMT, from which Roach has been banned. Lama Zopa coyly rebuked Roach’s mystical claims with the ironic suggestion that Roach should prove his magic powers with some old-timey miracles, like showing his ability to urinate in reverse, for example. I’ve heard no reports of Roach reverse-urinating, although he does claim other miracles, like the mystical bilocation of a rosary in this interview.

A woman named Karen Visser wrote to me by e-mail last week. Though not an official spokesperson for Sera Mey, she says she is familiar with the monastery through her long-term relationships with two former abbots. In dialogue with her I’ve come to suspect that these florid endorsements (if they are authentic) did not likely emerge from Sera Mey officially, but from individual administrators acting from within the context of their own complex relationships with Roach, and may be obfuscated by layers of etiquette, cross-cultural misunderstanding, and acute financial need.

Visser tells a rich story of recent Tibetan history, hope, and hardship:

Much of what is happening now is simply a result of this unique moment in history. Having English speaking teachers of Tibetan Buddhism and having texts translated into English is a very new thing. Remember, we’re only 53 years into post 1959 Tibetan history. Compared to any other religion in the West that’s no time at all.

I have close ties to Sera Mey monastery and I’d like you to know that there was a lot of hope and good intentions at the beginning. Michael Roach is a renegade now and the despair of his teachers at Sera Mey. They parted ways a long time ago but it didn’t start out that way.

It’s important to remember that after walking out of Tibet in 1959 all the monks (the Rinpoches and Geshes too) were physically building monasteries throughout the 60’s and 70’s. They were hauling rocks and bags of cement, they weren’t teaching Westerners. My old lamas tell stories of working so long and hard to rebuild their monastery that they didn’t “untie their belts for 2 months” which means they fell asleep in their robes, under the stars, never having the luxury of relaxing.

Work, pray, sleep. They had almost no food and learned Hindi and Karnataka dialect depending on where their monastery was being rebuilt, not English. They only resumed their studies in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Even then virtually no Tibetans in the monasteries spoke English, only the monks who dealt with the money, donors and suppliers.

That’s why there simply aren’t enough qualified teachers who speak languages other than Tibetan at the moment, because this is all still new. It’s very frustrating for students looking for a teacher but it can’t be rushed – learning English takes some time, and learning Tibetan isn’t easy either.

And so – into this gap rush eager, well intentioned, but unqualified, teachers.

I don’t believe Michael Roach, Christie Mcnally or Ian Thorson ever thought of themselves as unqualified. But they are, they were. A monk friend at Sera Mey told me that the qualifications that Christie and Ian referred to as being “from Tibetan monasteries” consisted of a month-long teaching in 1999 on mind and mental factors or mental cognition.

A month as a guest in a monastery isn’t training, it’s a mini workshop. Without speaking Tibetan, or the more difficult ‘dharma language’ in which teachings are given (which is to Tibetan what Latin is to English) without years of training, without being able to ask questions of the lamas – they are well-intentioned amateur dharma tourists.

I’m sure they love their students. But a surgeon who has only watched surgery for a month is a danger to everyone he or she practices on, whether she loves them or not. There may have been a few more workshops but not enough to make them qualified teachers.

As to their own teacher, Michael Roach, the Tibetans were very naive when he was at Sera. At the time Michael was getting his Geshe degree the monks remembered Robert Thurman, who did so well after studying Tibetan and dharma. It was harder for the Tibetans to read Westerners then: they had no idea initially that anything was wrong.

Michael Roach did try to be a good student in the short time he was there. He couldn’t participate fully in the debates that are an essential and crucial part of Geshe training in the way a Tibetan Geshe student is expected to, but he worked on his translation skills. Everyone in the monastery understood that his language skills wouldn’t allow for him to come up to the tough standards of a Tibetan Geshe but they appreciated that he was doing so much. It was understood that his degree would be an honorary one, given with great joy to a Western student. The monks felt the world was changing. Westerners would come to study at the monasteries, and learn Tibetan. The monks would learn English: dharma would spread throughout the world.

The bitter, heart-wrenching disappointment the Tibetan monastic community felt when Michael Roach was found to be living in a yurt, in his monk’s robes, with a girl who thought she was Vajrayogini, while teaching Tibetan dharma is impossible to describe. His Holiness was said to have dropped his tea cup when he heard the news, it smashed on the floor. Unusual for someone who rarely loses his composure. The abbot of Sera Mey was devastated, absolutely gutted.

To put this into perspective – my very close friend, who walked out of Tibet in the 80’s, is a Lharampa Geshe. He was first in his year at the debates, hand picked by his abbot to come to the West to teach. He had to wait 10 years after graduating to be considered qualified to teach. The Sera Mey Geshes were horrified that Michael Roach went out and taught right away, he didn’t truly understand the stuff he was teaching. He hadn’t asked enough questions, hadn’t done the right retreats. In my own opinion he wasn’t a true Geshe, in the traditional sense, any more that a celebrity is a true Ph.D when they’re given the degree for helping a university.

At present there is absolutely no bond between Michael Roach and Sera Mey. If Michael Roach says there is a connection of any kind he’s drawing on stuff that happened more than a decade ago. He’s caused nothing but pain at Sera, they so regret having ordained him that it is virtually impossible for a Westerner to be given ordination at the Gelug monasteries in South India now.

Sera knows what’s going on, the office of HH knows, but he has defied them all. Short of finding him, holding him down and tickling him until he agrees to take off his monastic robes, it looks like there’s nothing anyone can do. There’s no legal basis nor cultural precedent to track down a Westerner and take the robes back forcibly. Or to ask him to stop teaching. And, frankly, HH and the abbots of Sera Mey have had so many knives in the air that they’ve had to let go of the idea of changing Michael Roach. The Chinese Communists for awhile were sending young men to Sera to take robes, then run wild in town in order to shame the monastery. There are always money problems: just feeding that many monks becomes the first priority.

Michael Roach has been instructed very firmly: “Take off your monk’s robes.” by his abbot and by HHDL, the lineage holder. He sees himself as beyond all that, I suppose. I don’t know what’s in his head. He really did set up a cult, to the despair of everyone who taught him. His former students must feel so disappointed and betrayed, sad probably.

None of this contaminates any of Michael Roach’s or Christie’s students. Those students went with a good heart and good intentions. No one saw this coming. The students are as innocent as the abbot who ordained Michael Roach. It needed everyone’s approval. Everyone made errors in judgment, right up the line.

If there is indeed a complex quid-pro-quo going on underneath Roach’s educational and cultural-validation narrative, it might signify deeper financial entanglements between a few opportunistic members of his order and his quest for legitimacy. The prolific commenter Phurba and others bring up an incident from Roach’s ill-fated Indian pilgrimage of 2006, during which he was barred from teaching in Dharamsala by the Public Office of the Dalai Lama, not only for appearing to flaunt his celibacy vows, but also for committing the dire cultural faux-pas of scheduling a presentation during the Dalai Lama’s own public teachings without permission. He relocated his teaching an hour away, but then allegedly arranged that a  monk appear bearing certain ritual presents to him, which he pretended came from the Dalai Lama. The alleged show was an effort to paper over the rebuke and re-legitimize his status within the Gelukpa hierarchy. This revelation drove many students away.


Input from Other Buddhist Community Experiences

NathanGThompson writes of the necessity for a Board of Directors that is independent from the spiritual director of any sangha, to prevent the coalescence and abuse of power:

I am the current president of our zen center’s board of directors, and have spent the last 5 years on our board, following the debacle I alluded to above [an abuse of power by the spiritual director of his sangha] . One thing to note about the board under our former teacher is that the entire group was handpicked by him, and they basically rubber stamped his ideas. Those who challenged him were ostracized, and more than a few prominent members and assistant teachers were forced out or left in the years prior to his downfall. I was part of a team that revised our governing structure a few years after our former teacher’s ousting, and it was quite clear that he had stacked the by laws and other governing documents completely in his favor as well. We also had a grievance committee that was handpicked by the teacher. At every turn, the leadership was under his thumb. So, it’s really not enough to say things like the board is dealing with these issues. Because they probably are, and yet, if the board’s structure is anything like ours was, then the work they are doing is compromised.

In a similar vein, Michael Stone told me over the phone: “None of this can happen – the secrecy, the power inequities, and the spiritual obfuscation – if the Board is strong and independent of the teacher.”


The View of the Locals

Reading commenters Jerry Kelly (neighbouring rancher) and Warren Clarke (a recent Great Retreat assistant) banter back and forth about the local geography, characters, illegal migrations, drug gangs and Border Patrol guys is like reading a Zane Grey novel or eavesdropping on an outback CB. For men who know the area, they make it clear that most of the Diamond Mountain administration is “greenhorn”: unfamiliar with the topography, ignorant of the old-timer neighbours and their resources, and overly romantic about the land itself. These are the folks who know the Rescue Unit guys as neighbours, who hike the back-country regularly, and who, had they been enlisted into a search party for Thorson and McNallly, would have had a wealth of information and experience to draw on. One theme that Jerry and Warren consistently bring up is the disparity in power between the staff of assistants (overworked, underpaid) and the Board (aloof and unrealistic).


Lies, Self-Aggrandizement, and Solipsism. Thankfully, Not Oprah’s Cup of Tea

I’ve been grateful for the comment thread, but at the same time a little torn up by it. It has uncovered whole new layers of strangeness.

Like this bit: in 2010, Roach recorded a video audition for the Oprah Network to propose a new show that he would host called “The Karma Show”. Oprah didn’t go for it, despite 11,861 votes. I think this 3-minute clip pretty much sums up Roach’s entire pitch and method. He confabulates his educational story, brags about the commercial bravado of his students, oversells his matchmaking and medical powers, all while bastardizing the crown jewel of Gelukpa metaphysics.  You can watch the video yourself, or skip it and just read the copy he wrote for it, which I reprint below.

Hi my name is Geshe Michael. When I was young, my mom got breast cancer and just before she died she put me into a Tibetan monastery. I stayed there for 20 years and became the first American geshe, or Buddhist Master. Nowadays a lot of people come to me with their problems and dreams and i help them figure out what karma they need to get things they want; I helped 2 women in New York start a billion dollar ad company, I help friends find partners, and how to fix their health problems and stay young and strong. I have an idea to have a Karma Show where people come and say what they’re looking for in life, and we figure out the karma or good thing they need to do for others, to make their dreams come true!

I myself have a dream that I’d really like to come true. I dream that one day Ian Thorson’s corpse rises up from the grave and says to his former guru: It’s time to wake up. What good karma do I need to do to make this happen, Michael? Am I doing it already?


Where the Story is Leading Us Now

I now feel that the Board’s failure to protect Thorson’s life are actually aftershocks at the end of a long row of tumbling dominoes that reach back into the community’s reification of the love relationship between Roach and McNally. Shortcomings in managing the last few months of Thorson’s and McNally’s safety pale in comparison to the slowly-unfolding scandal of nepotistic power dynamics that allowed her to ascend to a position of spiritual and administrative authority. At the deepest level, the Board must now face how it was possible for intelligent and kind people such as themselves to give their power away so completely to someone so tragically unqualified. The Board must face, in essence, the consequences of Roach’s charismatic leadership, and their support of it.

On a theological note, I would like to know why McNally references Kali and not Vajrayogini in her letter. It sounds like she is practicing Kali sadhana. Was she leading a retreat in one lineage while practicing another? Does the Kali mythos of apocalypticism influence the general anxiety the group holds about the attainment of mystical experience?

On the broadest socio-political note, I’ll end by quoting the commenter oz__, who quite succinctly sums up our shared global stakes in the Diamond Mountain incident:

Deeply disturbing, and tragic, but unfortunately, hardly surprising. We participate in and support a set of sociopolitical and economic systems that depend upon atomization and disconnection – from the natural world, other people, even ourselves – and in such a destabilizing environment, the false connection to community that charismatic leaders offer can be sufficiently appealing to override common sense, not to mention mostly non-existent critical thinking skills. This is modern thaumaturgy. Far from failing to teach our fellows how not to fall prey to it, we insist that they in fact do so – because this is what modern systems, from advertising to politics, depend upon to accomplish their objectives of achieving profit and control. I mean, in a world that is dominated by the incessant drumbeat of propaganda issued from hierarchical and authoritarian structures, why should we expect independent thinking to be widespread?

Why indeed. As Ian’s body dissolves, I’m convinced now more than ever that our spirituality must resist the toxic consolations of bypassing, over-certainty, and authoritarianism. It must wake up from the dream of perfection to work diligently, with eyes wide open, in the garden of relationship, drawing upon simple hopes and common tools.


Matthew Remski is an author, yoga teacher, ayurvedic therapist and educator, and co-founder of Yoga Community Toronto. Please check out his site for more writings on Ayurveda and Yoga.






The opinions expressed by the authors at elephant journal and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of elephant journal or any employee thereof. elephant journal is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied in the article above.


About yoga 2.0 lab

Matthew Remski is an Ayurvedic practitioner and Yoga Teacher Trainer in Toronto. His latest book, Threads of Yoga, is gathering international acclaim. He's teaching this online course starting 1/7/14. It's currently full, but there is a reduced-tuition option for auditing. The 12 weekly lessons will be available online for six months following the course. Participants receive a 130-page manual of notes.


2,675 Responses to “Tragedy at Diamond Mountain: an Update.”

  1. Guru Pedro says:

    I just want to ask, what the hell is that accent he has? It seems totally affected. Some kind of weird pseudo Asian overlay.

    I'm sorry but he really just immediately strikes me as loathsome and creepy – or at best simply ridiculous. And that's before even knowing the rest of it, or listening to what he's actually saying, which as everyone is pointing out is often sheer nonsense.

    Why about every second sentence does he seem to try to mask his obvious sociopathic ego by saying "and then when I got my geshe degree I was asked to this" or "my students have asked me to talk about myself some more" or "when I went to get my geshe degree my students went with me", when he really just is saying "me geshe geshe geshe geshe, me have students students students, gurus gurus gurus gurus, robes robes robes robes, make money money money money."

    It often kind of bums me out I was born with this burdensome sense of integrity and honesty and humility. I would do so much better in this country if I could just get over them.

    He's like Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite – "Vote for (or bow before) me and I will make all of your dreams come true."

    • Khedrup says:

      From working with Tibetans over the last 8-9 years I can tell you it seems to be an imitation of the speech patterns of Tibetans when they speak English. Because the sentence order of the two languages is quite different, you sometimes get strange speech patterns. He also leaves out articles which is a common issue for speakers of Asian languages who are learning English.
      I also noticed noticed this in one of Christie's videos "And people, start call me lama" etc.
      My opinion is that this is a deliberate move to give a flavour of "Tibetan lama" to the teachings. From watching how the biography changes, to how the stories in the scriptures are manipulated, I think that everything is very carefully planned and orchestrated.
      MR's intelligence and skill at being able to influence his audience should not be underestimated.
      I encourage all those who have access to Tibetan geshes and also who wish to study the Gelugpa teachings in depth to go to the geshes with a complete education for classes. I know as a translator that sometimes people find it a drag not hearing the teachings directly. But I can say from my side I do my best to deliver exactly the same meaning, very carefully , as what I hear. And most of the other translators I know work according to the same code of ethics.
      While MR's teachings may be more palatable to the Western palette, you are not getting the real thing. If Gelugpa Buddhism isn't for you, no problem, seek out something that works. But if that is what you are interested in, don't cheat yourself.

      • PurpleLotusEater22 says:

        Ha, having worked with Tibetans, lived in Asia, and being Asian myself that ridiculous accent was the first thing I noticed when I watched his videos on Youtube. I was waiting for him to say "sh, Ancient Tibetan secret!" a la the old Calgon commercials. Bizarre and patronizing behavior on his part.

    • Cyn says:

      I agree that the accent is an affectation, and it conveys a subtext of ancient, forbidden wisdom of another time and place. The accent is juxtaposed with an informal, personal, digressive, very American pedagogical style. He also frequently "forgets" English words for things and says, as if a charming foreigner, "how you say..?" This reinforces the idea he has been so steeped in study at a Tibetan monastery that English is his second language.

      However, it's also a pedagogical technique. By asking "how you say?" he engages the audience to supply the missing word. When they do, they get to feel both helpful and smart. Plus they stay on their toes and attentive. But sometimes it is not the exact right word, and then in soliciting other words, GM is teasing out the meaning, seemingly collaboratively, of the given text. Forgetting the English words for things works in tandem with defining Tibetan words and having the audience speak them back to him. Both techniques give a sense of shared discovery and a collaborative effort where teacher and students work to refine the precision of their understanding.

      In addition, forgetting English words for things is very charming when he teaches non-native English-speaker students. He speaks in simple phrases, with stilted syntax, in an act of solidarity with his audience, who, at least as a caricatur-ish generality, speak English similarly. Hence they may feel less talked-at. Since he speaks this way to all audiences, it's less patronizing than if it were reserved only for students from other backgrounds.

      I wonder how his root lama (from NJ) spoke English; if it is a kind of homage to his own teacher's speech pattern.

      This accent and also rhythm of speaking can be seen in his most successful lama trainees. Lama Marut also has adopted this accent, although less pronounced.

    • ekanthomason says:

      Besides a sense of integrity, you were also born with a sense of humor. I needed a good belly laugh.

  2. kelly rigpa says:

    Speaking with an accent not one's own can be indicative of a narcissistic personality disorder-or so I have read.

    • Cyn says:

      Or just, like someone who takes a semester in England and forever more is saying lorry and brilliant!

      Or, whenever 19th century mediums went to channel some great wisdom entity there would be a slightly Indian-ish accent as the entity spoke through them.

  3. ekanthomason says:

    Here is a different take I found:
    "When I was fundraising for Khen Rinpoche’s projects, I used to do grants, I spent many years on grants, I had all these different projects. And then at some point I just thought the best way to give him money is just go work. I just went and got a job."
    Makes it sound like it was his idea to get a job not Khen Rinpoche.

    • Truth only says:

      I would disagree. Although GM does appear to change the story….I think what he has said is true…but I guess one could take any of his words and tear it apart….

      • Phurba says:

        that's confusing. "although gm does appear to change the story….I think what he has said is true" so you are saying he does change the story, but what he says is true? I think it's quite possible too, but if one story is true, that means the other one is false. you can't have it both ways. in this case, as in many others, a lie is self-evident.

        • cloverleaf says:


          Why can't both sides of that story be true at the same time? Is your life really so one dimensional that there is only one possible reason for the choices you have made? I know for me personally, most of the major decisions in my own life have been influenced by many other people and my own opinion/needs/wants at the time… I could easily not be lying by saying that I wanted to go to college because I wanted to have financial security and also say honestly that I went to college because my father expected it of me.

          If someone picked apart my every word like posters are doing on this forum……well, I think anyone on Earth could be branded a 'liar' that way.

          Life is messy and grey– it's not always this or that. Sometimes it's both, or neither.

          • Fleurine says:

            All he needs to do is take off the Sera Mey robes, and he could do his bootleg Buddhism cult in peace until the cows come home. That's it. It 's that simple. Why this conversation is even happening is bewildering, other than he clearly has a whopping Costco-size ego.

      • AnnetteVictoria says:

        "Although GM does appear to change the story….I think what he has said is true."

        Which time?

    • CVG says:

      According to GMR in this recent video, the monastery 'told' him to go start a business and donate the profits, not to mention he also says he learned of his mother's 'sudden' death while at the monastery, when before he has said she put him there as a child. How many different life stories can one person have?

  4. sweetpea says:

    It is sad to read all of this, but I appreciate the information getting out there. I was never a student/disciple of GMR, but I lived at a retreat center in Santa Cruz for several years when he was becoming more and more popular. At the time he was still allowed to come to FPMT centers, and several close friends of mine became devotees. Something about him always creeped me out, even though he had the ivy league way of presenting teachings down pat. He totally got the Western style of teaching, and had charisma (even if he looked creepy!). Interestingly, after meeting many many high lamas from Tibetan Buddhism (in the Gelug tradition, and others: HH Sakya Trizin, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, HH Dalai Lama, Jhado Rinpoche, Tsokyni Rinpoche, Khandro Rinpoche, etc etc), GMR had this strange thing where he would NEVER meet my eyes! All the other lamas emanated warmth, compassion, connection, but GMR (and obviously this is subjective) would not even meet my eyes even though several dear friends of mine became part of his innermost circle. It’s as if he could tell I wasn’t buying it….

    At one point I had lunch with a dear friend, who is now in the retreat out in Arizona, around the time when HH Dalai Lama’s office had censured Geshe Michael’s totally tact-less (and obviously against Tibetan protocol) move to give teachings at the same time as HHDL. (This is a big, rude no-no….no teacher would think of giving a teaching in the same town while His Holiness is, at the same time! It’s crazy.). Gelugpas are pretty traditional, so it was quite a commotion. I asked my friend about it, sensitively, wondering how she justified a letter from HHDL’s office asking him not to give teachings. She explained that “Well a letter came from the OFFICE of His Holiness, but we don’t actually know that His Holiness really feels that way.” I thought to myself, “Uh oh. She is gone hook line and sinker.”

    I have grappled with this whole scenario for years, because to this day I have close vajra sisters and brothers who are both part of the traditional Gelugpa school with whom I study (HHDL, LZR, Jhado Rinpoche), and yet they follow GMR. One friend “escaped” if you could call it that, but that student went through ‘the dark night of the soul’ to get out. It was very, very difficult for her, so I respect the author’s inclusion of comments from others who went through a similar difficult period breaking out of it.

    One interesting thing too, is that unlike ALL the other Gelugpa lamas I’ve ever been to, GMR never insisted on the traditional paths of practice (ngon-dro, or preliminary practices) that most students are invited/sometimes required to do to obtain higher teachings (especially on tantra). 100,000 prostrations, water bowls, tsa tsas, refuge prayers, guru yoga — these are normal things you do if you really enter into the practice path. It is NOT this simplistic, magical thinking of “it’s your karma of how you see things that makes them so.” As Lama Zopa Rinpoche once taught, it’s not enough to think something and then it happens. “If that were the case,” he said, “then anyone who wanted to become president could become president. There would be no one left who was not president.” GMR was so popular for people who want to practice with a partner/lover because if you just started seeing people as an angel/deity, then they would become that, apparently! And if you didn’t see them that way, then it’s your own damn fault! This really was a magical way of thinking about Buddhism and karma. It is so much more complicated and LOGICAL than that. It is almost depressing how wrong his views on tantra are….they are supposed to be kept completely secret!!! It’s outrageous, really.

    Like another writer above said, if you want to study Buddhism, go elsewhere! This is NOT correct Gelugpa Mahayana Buddhism. Go to a qualified lama (except for Geshe Kelsang Gyatso!), someone who knows the lineage all the way back through their lamas and their lamas’ lamas to the Buddha. We are in the degenerate times, the Kali yuga, and false teachers will appear and win people over with charisma and charm. HHDL said you should check a teacher out for 10 years before taking them as your guru. If not 10, then 5. If not five, then ideally 2. It is not a joke…this is your precious life you’re dealing with, and there should not be this level of controversy around a lama (although I’m sure GMR’s students would say that “it’s your negative karma to see it as something negative…he is teaching using crazy wisdom.”). With this karma argument from GMR’s quarters, you can’t win. It’s a TRAP!

    • Fleurine says:

      Beautifully put. And I can tell it is straight from the heart. Thank you for this!
      And good for your friend that she went through "the dark night of her soul" but made it out to find authentic teachings! I shudder to think about how twisted those poor retreatants are. !Must be. Anyway, hopefully some qualified professionals will be there to help them.

  5. Sam says:

    Although I sometimes feel like this is gossip, I keep reading silently since I don't have any direct knowledge
    to add, but it is important the TRUTH comes out, so that ABUSES, either physical, spiritual, deceit and so forth
    STOP. I want to know the Truth, I am looking forward to hear more from those who have been somehow involved with MR and

    I do believe that many take for granted the messages the cult leaders try to brainwash.
    Precisely because they are gullible, they are the target audience for perverted leaders.

  6. OnceABuddhist says:

    It seems to me one bottom-line question is- -what, if anything, can be done to hold Michael Roach and Diamond Mountain accountable? This is America, and so one answer is, use the legal system.

    1. As Remski points out, Roach and Diamond Mountain's Board are in business as a public non-profit, not private individuals, which means they can in fact be held legally accountable.

    2. Here is a list of those who can sue individual Board members and/or Roach:

    1.Insiders — The current and former staff of a nonprofit may bring actions alleging a host of wrongful acts, including wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

    2.Outsiders — Third parties that have a relationship with the nonprofit may allege harm caused by the nonprofit and/or its directors, officers or employees. Outside sources can be vendors, funders, or another nonprofit.

    3.The Entity — The nonprofit may bring an action against its directors and officers. Examples include claims by current management against a former trustee. In some states, derivative suits are permitted. In a derivative suit, members of a nonprofit may bring a claim on the nonprofit's behalf against a director and officer. (Note: Claims by the entity against its directors and officers will likely be excluded under most nonprofit D&O policies).

    4.Directors — A nonprofit director may sue another board member alleging violation of a duty owed to the nonprofit. Under certain circumstances such an action may be compelled.

    5.Beneficiaries — The people you are in business to help — your service recipients — may bring claims against directors and officers alleging wrongdoing.

    6.Members — Directors and officers of membership associations are vulnerable to claims brought by members alleging harm to the interests of the member.

    7.Donors — A nonprofit's contributors may sue directors and officers alleging misuse of a restricted gift.

    8.State Attorney General — In most states, the state attorney general represents the interests of the general public in assuring the proper management of public benefit corporations. As such, the Attorney General may bring a claim against nonprofit directors and officers alleging wrongdoing.

    9.Other Government Officials — Other government officials, including representatives of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor, may bring actions against nonprofit directors alleging violation of state or federal laws.
    I'm sure the Board members are very nice people with the best intentions. Nevertheless, they share direct responsibility–both moral and legal– for the decisions which led to Ian's death. As Board members of a non-profit they are also legally obligated to disclose to the public ALL relevant information relating to the circumstances that led to Ian's expulsion and death.

    American law rightfully cannot and will not make determinations about the validity of Roach's religious teachings, but it sure can help hold him accountable for keeping his followers safe and alive.

  7. OnceABuddhist says:

    Quotes relating to ethical and legal responsibilities of non-profit board members :

    • No founder may be treated as if he/she 'owns' the organization.
    • Non-profits exist to provide a public benefit. It must change some aspect of the human condition. It needs to solve a problem, provide education or build a monument.
    • Each board member has equal voting rights and equal liability for making sure the charity is run according to proper standards. All board members will be held accountable for the governance of the organization.
    • No board member should participate in a board decision that benefits himself or his family.
    • The organization should maintain a Board Book – a notebook that contains Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, minutes to board meetings, past 3 years tax returns and annual financials.
    • Non-profits do not have owners like for-profit organizations do. A board of directors guides and oversees the organization.
    • A board's primary responsibility is 'to uphold the public trust' and make sure the rights and priviliges of the organization are not abused.
    *Care: Be a prudent board member and pay attention to what is going on and make decision based on good information.
    • Paid staff should not serve on the Board of Directors. This is a conflict of interest and poses potential problems.

    • sky says:

      From what I've gathered, GMR doesn't have as much power over the Board as a lot of people seem to think. While he is responsible and accountable for what goes on at DM because he is the spiritual director, the Board will vote against what he advises if they don't agree with him.

      Plus, he is rarely even there these days. Ever since he split from LC, his home base has been in Phoenix.

  8. Sid says:

    I guess it comes down to having the energy to do all of these things, call out the board, pursue legal channels etc. I would like to see websites, books, documentaries, but you know, we all have lives, and it really is a big drain to be taking part in something that feels pretty negative, as necessary as that may be. I am fine with dropping in here occasionally and dropping a telling anecdote or two, in hopes that it will eventually plant at least a seed of doubt in the minds of those who can't refuse the GM marketing machine. I fell for him when I was at a particular level of development and "spiritual maturity", and I was warned by a few people, but couldn't resist, I had to find out what was behind the door for myself, which turned out to be absolutely nothing.

  9. Zirconia says:

    Geshe Michael and Lama Christie are literally in this movie trailer about a fake guru.
    <a href="” target=”_blank”> 2 minutes of hilarity

    • Dave says:

      Yes, it looks like the movie may be funny, but I feel sorry for the people who were tricked by the fake guru.

      • Tenor says:

        My initial reaction as well. But if the trailer is accurate, the director/star was extremely skillful in avoiding harm to the innocents who became his devotees. His guru message was: I am a complete faker – you are the real gurus.

        Still, people responded with the kind of transference of personal authority to the guru that one associates with gurus who demand such; and they testify with devotion that their lives are transformed by the guru.

      • Zirconia says:

        “I’m not enlightened. What you see in me is your own goodness or potential.” — Sri Kumare

        He builds his teaching around the one thing he feels strongly about: that his disciples don’t need a guru — that the guru is inside each of us.

        That's somewhat misleading, but empowering, nonetheless. Assuming that's what actually was taught, I don't think people would walk away damaged for years. From reading the comments above, I wish I could say the same for some of Roach's students.

    • Jehne says:

      You can watch the first ten minutes of the film at

      MR and CM are in several scenes.

  10. […] The recent tragic death of Ian Thorson involving Geshe Michael Roach‘s Diamond […]

  11. corvid says:

    A Cochise Country politico type suggested a campaign to renamed the road to the retreat Ian Thorson Memorial Trail would be a way to keep the DM flacks from forgetting that they are all partially to blame for this tradgedy every time they turn on the dirt road that meanders toward the death cave.

  12. matthew says:

    I believe it's possible that Gelek Rimpoche is indirectly addressing the tragedy in this video:

    • Mark says:

      You're wrong.

      • Cyn says:

        Well, he's not technically wrong because he was stating his belief that it was possible. Just sayin'

      • matthew says:

        Mark — do you know I'm wrong? The link was sent to me by someone versed in Tibetan political culture who said that the timing and references are coherent with traditional indirect censure.

        • ekanthomason says:

          I agree. It seems to fit the pattern.

        • AnnetteVictoria says:

          I'm guessing Mark is American, not Tibetan. Unfortunately, Americans have a very hard time catching on to the subtle, underlying messages expressed in Asian cultures, as Ekan and others have pointed out. This intercultural communication gap allows DM/GMR followers to continue to dismiss Tibetans' subtle condemnation. Most people who haven't spent a significant amount of time in a foreign culture aren't even aware that cultural communication differences exist at all.

          The way we Americans (among other cultures) express ourselves can be described as the opposite of subtle. It takes effort and education to communicate effectively in a different cultural context. It does not come naturally. Tibetans who want to speak out about GMR need to know that they can't be subtle if they want their American audience to understand them. And the onus is on them, as they are speaking our language.

    • Fleurine says:

      I most definitely think it is quite possible. Thanks for posting!

    • bobby says:

      Gelek Rimpoche often speaks of the importance of "intelligent faith" over "blind faith". Healthy doubt is good.

      “O monks and wise men, just as a goldsmith would test his gold by burning, cutting and rubbing it, so must you examine my words and accept them, not merely out of reverence for me.”
      Shakyamuni Buddha

      An essential part of the practice is to analyze the teachings for ourselves. This is analytical meditation.

      In the same way, it's important to investigate your teacher. Traditionally it's said that we take 12 years to evaluate your teacher. The teacher also evaluates us. Only then do we establish a guru/disciple relationship.

    • aguse says:

      shows how utterly irrelevant your opinion on everything is matthew.
      there is no dharma center in the US that comes close to teaching buddhist logic as well or as thoroughly as DM/ACI 13 does. most centers do not even rely on these methods.

      there is no comparison, none, between what Rinpoche said in the youtube clip and what Geshe Michael taught in ACI 13. listen for yourself.

  13. ebwally says:

    Matthew – Aren't we do for another update? I'm still very worried but you can call me ebwally.

    • Zirconia says:

      A thorough investigation takes time. I don't get why people want to rush for enlightenment and/or buddhahood "within one lifetime" either, I'd wager 2 of my cows (excluding Betsy) that it's not possible.

  14. OnceABuddhist says:

    In response to Sid-

    We are all busy, all have lives to lead and responsibilities demanding tending. Unlike most of you posting here, I have nothing at stake. I had never heard of Roach before the NYT's article, nor of Ms. Ms. McNally or of Ian. I followed the story because once upon a time I considered myself a Buddhist of the Tibetan tradition, and because Ian's death seemed so preventable.

    I've read every comment-literally-posted here, and have been genuinely fascinated by the discussion of how far and in what specific ways Roach deviated from orthodoxy. But, when all else is said and done, it is the the senseless death of our fellow human being Ian that is most disturbing.

    The Buddhism I practiced held compassion as a highest value. IMO, it is not a negative action to pursue truth and hold folks accountable– it is a compassionate act, both in Ian's memory and to help others in Roach's and this Board's future who might also be incapable of surviving Roach's twisted demands.

    I love debating as much as anyone else here, but I really hope that others more closely involved are ACTING to hold Roach and Diamond Mountain's board legally accountable. Everything else is sound and fury.

  15. Jane says:

    Lama Surya Das commented on Diamond Mountain and cults in the Huffington Post.

    • Ellwood says:

      Nice use of the C word in the title. I was wondering which Buddhist leader would comment on this issue first. Hats off to Lama Surya Das!

      • Norbu says:

        He doesn't exactly criticize Roach. In fact he sort of defends him by saying that people can misunderstand what goes on in retreats like Diamond Mountain. I must admit I am disappointed in the response of other Buddhist teachers both American and Tibetan to this.

        • Namdrol says:

          Yes, he has morality, unlike you. Moral people only speak about thing they know about, and stay far away from performing the violence and immoralities of idle speech and slander, which is all you do.

          • Norbu says:

            Sorry Namdrol but my reply is both moral and non-violent. It is neither idle nor slanderous. Unlike your reply. You may not agree with what I said but you cannot make accusation without backing them up. You seem not to know what you are talking about I'm afraid.

          • Namdrol says:

            I am not speaking about your reply, I am speaking about you and your behavior in general. You speak nothing but idly and maliciously. If you were in a court of law, nothing you say would be admissible, because the moment it would land on the judge's ear it would be dismissed it as opinion, speculation, gossip. And these are things, which if you use to demonize others, makes you collect the further serious karma of harsh speech.

    • Ben says:

      "I've found it useful to thoroughly screen and prepare potential trainees who wish to participate, including observing individuals over a period of time and assuring that they complete shorter intensive retreats before becoming overly involved in long-term retreats in often marginal conditions."

      Yeah. Probably applies to the retreat leader as well.

      • Joe says:

        I think his point about the need to "thoroughly screen and prepare potential trainees who wish to participate" in long-term retreats was the main point he wanted to make in this article.

  16. Cyn says:


    Regarding ACI's work being unique; other Tibetan Buddhist monks have also recorded and preserved texts that would have been lost had they not done so:

    "Among the last generation of lamas educated in Drepung Monastery before the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet, Gelek Rimpoche was forced to flee to India in 1959. He later edited and printed over 170 volumes of rare Tibetan manuscripts that would have otherwise been lost to humanity."

    Also, in terms of lineage, when it is broken, etc., I found this parallel situation quite fascinating:

    Its founder was a Tibetan monk, also trained at Sera Je monastery. He streamlined and westernized the teachings. Eventually there was a rift with Gelugka over some practice called Dorje Shogden and his monastery disowned him. It's a pretty large sect still, however.

    As to GM himself, both insiders and observers can certainly be rightly confused as to claims of lineage and consistency. There's Eric's statement, and also similar statements I've read and heard from GM himself about mix-and-matching teachings from various traditions. On the other hand, the mantle of his legitimacy, referred to all the time, even in the very appellate "Geshe Michael" comes from his oft-cited 20-plus years of study of Gelugka.

    On the retreat website, there is a page "An Unbroken Lineage' that makes the claim absolutely unequivocally that this is the real deal, sanctioned and certified.

    To those for whom this is important, to study with a Lama in this lineage, it does in fact matter very much whether the teachings accord with those of this lineage or in fact have morphed into a new tradition.

    • cloverleaf says:

      Thank you Cyn. I very much appreciate your post.

      It's good to know that other TB monks have also recorded and preserved texts. I shudder to think any of these important documents would be lost forever.

      Yes, I've heard of NKT and I also see the similarities.

      "As to GM himself, both insiders and observers can certainly be rightly confused as to claims of lineage and consistency. There's Eric's statement, and also similar statements I've read and heard from GM himself about mix-and-matching teachings from various traditions. On the other hand, the mantle of his legitimacy, referred to all the time, even in the very appellate "Geshe Michael" comes from his oft-cited 20-plus years of study of Gelugka"

      He also stated that the entire 20 years was not spent strictly at the monastery. The timelines are self-evident from his public words, as much as those can be cited.

      But I don't see how him citing his lineage is an unequivocal claim to 'real, sanctioned and certified' practices. He did receive robes and a Geshe title from Sera Mey, correct? I haven't seen where that is disputed. He has also publicly put forth practices not in line with 'real, sanctioned and certified' practices– whether it is because they are supposed to be secret or not supposed to be done at all seems irrelevant; it is still a shift from the norm.

      "To those for whom this is important, to study with a Lama in this lineage, it does in fact matter very much whether the teachings accord with those of this lineage or in fact have morphed into a new tradition."
      I understand how this is important. I just think it's quite obvious, if subtle, that his teachings have morphed. If you or anyone else wants to study with a Lama in good standing with this lineage, I don't personally think GMR is the Lama for you, based on his actions and the displeasure expressed by the actual lineage.

      Claiming something as factual does not make it so, no matter how one is dressed.

      I don't see how it's still confusing, but I certainly understand how it once was.

      • patternSeeker says:

        cloverleaf, I have a question for you. You're an aethist, you have a lot of time to write and spread doubt. It's a pattern I've seen with those in the pay of the Communist Chinese. Is there anything we should know about you?

        • cloverleaf says:


          I'm not atheist. I am agnostic…'s not incompatible with Buddhism at all. You can look up the definitions.

          I'm trying to discuss, not spread doubt about anything. I also type fast.

          I'm an American woman, wife, believer in free speech, believer freedom of religion, and believer in rights and responsibilities of individuals, believer in direct and honest discussion, idealist, optimist, realist, scientist. I am a yogini practitioner and know personally that it works for me. I'm a human with all the complications therein.

          I have never met a Communist, Chinese or otherwise…..have you? You seem much more tuned in to that scene than I am…Hhhhmmmm……

          • Tenor says:


            Perhaps patternSeeker was trying to say that your posts sometimes seem a bit disingenuous?

          • cloverleaf says:


            Is that what you believe, that I'm disingenuous?

            I'm saddened to hear I come across that way. I think it could not be further from the truth. Every single statement I have made here has been honest– raw at times, but honest. I try very hard to remain respectful and not state anything I cannot prove.

            If you have a specific question, I'm happy to answer it.

            I think it's much more honest to state directly what I'm thinking and feeling about things rather than accuse a stated American of communism. Really? You, a monk (I think), are agreeing with patternSeeker on this one?!?!

          • Zirconia says:

            For what it's worth, I did not sense a disingenuity. I have a few disagreements with you, perhaps I'll post them later, but it's great that you bring a science background and agnostic view to our discussions here.

          • cloverleaf says:


            Thank you for your candor and support.

            I'm happy to discuss any disagreements anytime, though I'm not sure we all have to agree for this whole conversation to be useful and effective. You're tempting my curiosity though…any time you want to discuss…….

            I appreciate what you posted, thank you.

          • Ben says:

            You don't seem disingenuous to me. I really appreciate your presence here. I sort of assumed that patternSeeker either was trolling or making a joke. I can't believe anyone would take the equation atheist + have a lot of time to write and spread doubt = in the pay of Chinese Communist. I also don't agree that you are attempting to spread doubt. I think you are (and are trying to keep the posters on here) fair and honest.

          • cloverleaf says:


            I really appreciate your support. I've gained a lot of insight in all of this through your posts; I appreciate our interaction.

            patternSeeker may well have been trolling or making a joke…..this is the first forum I've ever participated in and I really don't know how to spot that stuff easily yet, or how to react to it.

            Thank you very much for the post.

          • sea says:

            Another difficulty in this kind of discussion is that emotions are strong–for good reasons. But that can lead participants, who are convinced of the rightness of their position, to question the motives of those who may disagree with them. "I know I'm right, so if you disagree with me, it's because you're dishonest, or corrupt or….". The idea that two reasonable adults can draw opposite conclusions from the same evidence is hard to accept sometimes. It's best to assume that others have the highest motivations and intent, rather than the worst.

          • cloverleaf says:

            Well said, Sea.

            "The idea that two reasonable adults can draw opposite conclusions from the same evidence is hard to accept sometimes. It's best to assume that others have the highest motivations and intent, rather than the worst."

    • Tenor says:


      Thank you for the "An Unbroken Lineage" link in which MR continues to be totally deceitful when he asserts that "Geshe Michael is a fully ordained Buddhist monk". However, at least he doesn't claim to be following the lineage of H.H. Dalai Lama which he always used to do until sometime after his 2006 Indian teaching debacle.

      You wrote that Kelsang Gyatso [KG] was "also trained at Sera Jey monastery." Actually, MR was awarded a 'thank you very much' geshe degree from Sera Mey.

      KG has been such an apostate that Sera Je has 'revoked' its geshe degree award. Maybe Sera Mey could be persuaded to do the same!

      More KG & RM Compare/Contrast:

      1) KG asserts that he has founded his own lineage (based of course on his Gelek training). Thus holders of the Geluk lineage and their students need not waste their time trying to warn people about NKT or explain factual matters cmoparable to why the properties of the color ‘white’ distinguish it from the color 'black', or why 2 + 2 does not = 9. Such basic factual issues underlie many posts on this forum. We have to make these arguments because in an effort to manipulate/con people, MR continues to make false and even defamatory factual claims.

      And, yes, it is defamatory to Buddha’s Vinaya monastics to tell naïve Americans that such monastics’ vows do not prohibit marriage and “spiritual partners,” etc. I’ve seen American women trying to seduce Tibetan monks, even though they had some notion of the ‘vows’. If they believe their lust is totally sanctioned, we can expect even more bizarre behavior around U.S. Dharma centers.

      2) KG has not created a 'split in the sangha'. He’s created some new kind of ordination never conceived of in other Buddhist traditions, and he is not pretending to give Vinaya ordination. Au contraire, he claims that his made up vow ordination is superior to those of all existing/pre-existing Buddhist traditions.

      'Splitting the Vinaya Sangha' is a really naughty vow breakage for Buddhists. RM, being bolder than KG, claims to have conferred actual Vinaya monastic vows. Suffering under the delusion that MR’s allegations are correct, someone like Eric might show up with a neck chain holding a Cross just below his Adam's apple – and his wife in tow – for Sojong at H.H. Dalai Lama's temple. If it is only one person, it’s not an actual problem – at times deluded individuals do attend. But if MR was successful in ordaining a sustainable number of ‘monastics’ …

      3) My inferential speculation: KG and MR probably also have Dogyal in common. Basis for inference: (i) MR's two lama [photographs] 'Unbroken Lineage' is a Dogyal lineage. (ii) The only lama (I've heard) MR admit consulting regarding his controversial 3-year retreat with Christie is the current Pabongka Rinpoche, a Dogyal propitiator, who has been persona non grata at the Geluk monasteries in India for many years. … No one who does not want to be associated with Dogyal would consult him. Even Ribur Rinpoche, a devoted student of the famous Pabongka, specifically commented [in 2001 at a teaching I attended] in regard to the current Pabongka tulku, that sometimes Tulku lineages reminded him of Tibetan chang (homemade brew) – the first parts taste good, but the latter parts don't.

      A side note: KG did not 'streamline' the teachings until after his 'rift'. At the time he was a close relative of the Dogyal oracle. He was invited by FPMT to teach at a lovely property in UK, and he attracted a larger following than the other Geshe teaching there. KG and his followers successfully 'stole' (according to Lama Yeshe) the UK property from FPMT and, subsequently he founded his new lineage in antagonistic opposition to H.H. Dalai Lama. One of the notoroius 'fundamentalist' rituals performed upon gaining control of the property was to build a bonfire out of all the books in the center's library that were not written by KG.

      • Cyn says:

        Hi, Tenor,

        One thing that has been fascinating is to observe that as soon as a web page or video is posted here in the context of fact-checking, it often disappears or is substantially revised. I am hoping that someone even more compulsive than I is archiving the files on an independent server and also keeping a list.

        This is just off the top of my head, not even going back through the posts:

        Ladylamas site — taken down as soon as the link was posted here
        video of recently ordained monk claiming he had been assigned a consort — went "private"
        video of GM in June Phoenix teachings saying "we need more scandals" — taken down after link appeared here
        video of GM in June Phoenix teachings saying "this applies to the events at Diamond Mountain" — taken down after I posted the link

        • Fleurine says:

          Hello to any DM lurkers out there, even you MR(!) If you ever want to delurk, just hit the Reply button, and we're right here for you!

        • CVG says:

          Wow. I watched him say "we need more scandals" LIVE on the live webcast… Creepy.

          • Jane says:

            Saying "we need more scandals" is like saying we need more of our members to die. Pretty sick.

          • cloverleaf says:

            Yes, what MR said was crass and horrid.

            People often use the coping method called 'humor' to get through a difficult situation…'s not always pretty or appropriate.

            I don't think we should vilify MR for this particular comment. Profitable or not, there has been a great deal of tragedy in his life lately. I don't agree with what he said, in fact I think it was a highly insensitive and inappropriate comment…..but it was just one comment. We can't expect every. single. word. out of anyone's mouth to be golden with moonbeams shining forth, can we? Not even him.

            How is calling him names helping?

          • Tenor says:

            Maybe the people who 'call MR names' or make sarcastic, and even at times humorous, comments are also coping with a 'great deal of tragedy' and pain from situations that RM bears some heavy degree of moral responsibility for creating. To my recollection, those people have not made any snide remarks suggesting that they would personally benefit from more tragedy falling upon others.

          • cloverleaf says:

            True Tenor…..I don't doubt people on this forum are trying to cope as well.

            It's a slippery slope though, isn't it? I mean…..using the same coping mechanism as another (i.e. sarcasm or humor) and believing it's ok for you to do it but it's not ok for someone else to do it….well, where's the empathy?

            I'll reiterate I don't think it was a skillful thing for MR to say. I'll even go ahead and say it's 'worse' for MR to say such things because of his position as a leader.

            But how does this group in one breath say that MR isn't a Geshe or realized being….. but then in the same breath complain that he's not acting or speaking like a realized being? How is okay to both condemn his assertion and also condemn him for not living up to what someone with those assertions might be?

            I really don't understand how people expect to have it both ways.

          • Cyn says:

            Hey, clover,

            I think your fourth paragraph, above, is a straw-man argument. The in/appropriateness of GM's comment was brought up here for the exact reasons you note in your initial 3 paragraphs: not skillful speech, esp.for a leader. One needn't be, or claim to be, a realized being in order to be tactful. Therefore, pointing out he kind of put his foot in his mouth with ham-handed humor does not speak to the separate issue of claimed realizations, on either side. There is no "having it both ways" issue here.

            One could ask: would a realized being be snarky or tactless? If not, GM is not in some sense realized. If so, his comment is fine, maybe some sort of "crazy wisdom."

            One could take another tack and say the comment was not in fact tactless or inappropriate, but a form of community-bolstering acknowledgment of recent criticisms. One could also argue that GM was not referring to Ian's death, but to consequent aspersions on GM's teachings and integrity, and thus he was not devaluing another human life.

          • cloverleaf says:


            "I think your fourth paragraph, above, is a straw-man argument. The in/appropriateness of GM's comment was brought up here for the exact reasons you note in your initial 3 paragraphs: not skillful speech, esp.for a leader. One needn't be, or claim to be, a realized being in order to be tactful. Therefore, pointing out he kind of put his foot in his mouth with ham-handed humor does not speak to the separate issue of claimed realizations, on either side. There is no "having it both ways" issue here."

            I don't believe GM's comment was brought up as an example of unskillful speech by a leader, at least I don't believe that to be the main, motivating reason for some. I believe some are bringing it up as further 'proof' that he is not what he claims to be:
            Zirconia, two posts below:
            "An example of him "not acting or speaking like a realized being" was provided as proof, not complain."
            and Tenor, below:
            "As for being a 'realized being' that is his claim – unsubstantiated by his teachers or practices."

            How can my 4th paragraph be a straw man fallacy:
            " Arguing against a premise no one has taken, knocking that premise down, and then assuming or implying that you have then discredited the original at question."

            when those I was speaking to, specifically Tenor, has indeed taken the premise on which my argument was made? Also, never did I discredit the original question of whether or not it was skillful for any human to joke about the death of another human- I think it's a valid point and I agree it wasn't skillful (many times!).

            I was trying to point out the hypocrisy of this situation. If I'm wrong about that, please explain it better than you have so far, I am listening. I might not have done that skillfully, I'll grant. But it was/is my point of that 4th paragraph. It very much seems to me that there is a problem on this forum with 'having it both ways'. I stand by that assertion.

            I agree with your statements:
            "One could ask: would a realized being be snarky or tactless? If not, GM is not in some sense realized. If so, his comment is fine, maybe some sort of "crazy wisdom."

            One could take another tack and say the comment was not in fact tactless or inappropriate, but a form of community-bolstering acknowledgment of recent criticisms. One could also argue that GM was not referring to Ian's death, but to consequent aspersions on GM's teachings and integrity, and thus he was not devaluing another human life."

            However, none of those possible arguments were raised prior to my comment. Which, btw, I raised the one about a 'form of community-bolstering acknowledgment" by stating that humor is often (ineptly) used during tragedy.

          • Cyn says:

            Zirconie nailed it, in far fewer words than I — a couple of posts below.

          • Cyn says:

            Actually, let me try again. Brain exercise : )

            Rather than going through all the posts regarding the unfortunate off-the-cuff comment, I'll take the hot seat.

            1) I do not think MR is keeping his vows, in either spirit or letter, secret teachings and secret biographies notwithstanding. I do not think he is a realized being because I believe a realized being would keep his vows. I further do not think he is *so* realized that he can break his vows. This is utterly my own opinion.

            2) I think the unfortunate remark was just that. I happen to agree with you about the humor ineptly used to deal with tragedy. I remember a horrible inadvertent pun I made at a friend's shiva; we all had been thinking about how he died while being polite, and it was a complete freudian slip on my part.

            3) I think a realized being would not have said "we need more scandals." My opinion.

            If the 3 statements above are true, and were stated by me either in individual posts, or together as seen here, how does it follow that I am a hypocrite, in your reasoning, pasted below?

            "But how does this group in one breath say that MR isn't a Geshe or realized being….. but then in the same breath complain that he's not acting or speaking like a realized being? How is okay to both condemn his assertion and also condemn him for not living up to what someone with those assertions might be?

            I really don't understand how people expect to have it both ways."

            The two ways are not at odds, but entirely consistent and mutually reinforcing.

          • cloverleaf says:


            "If the 3 statements above are true, and were stated by me either in individual posts, or together as seen here, how does it follow that I am a hypocrite, in your reasoning, pasted below?"

            Whether or not the three statements are true is irrelevant….

            I never thought you, Cyn, were acting like a hypocrite. I was speaking about the group in general, no one specifically. I didn't name names in that paragraph on purpose.

            There are many people posting here that I do not believe are acting hypocritical as a matter of fact.

            Why did you think I was referring to you specifically?
            Why were you offended by the opinion I offered as if it was referring to you?

            The only reason you and I are discussing this at all is because you stated disagreement with a post of mine directed toward Tenor. I'm fine with disagreeing with you, it's ok.

            "The two ways are not at odds, but entirely consistent and mutually reinforcing."

            Honestly, Cyn, I believe there is at least one other way to look at all of this and that third way doesn't get mentioned much around here. But even if it did….I'm not sure how the ever-increasing spiral of condemnation based entirely on subjective experience or half-truths is helpful at all.

            'Mutual reinforcement' of stating an opinion on a snippet of teaching taken out of context and without knowledge of the intent of the person who said such it….well, I really don't want to be part of that downward-spiraling and just plain mean behavior.

          • Cyn says:

            No, I didn't think you were referring to me. But your comment generalized "the group" as wanting to have it both ways. And the example you gave for that does not seem to me to be having it both ways.

            What is the "third way" of looking at this that doesn't get mentioned much at all in this discussion? I am really interested in that, if you want to share it.

          • cloverleaf says:


            How can you say "No, I didn't think you were referring to me" after the quote that I based that on (important part in all caps by me):
            'If the 3 statements above are true, and were stated by me either in individual posts, or together as seen here, HOW DOES IT FOLLOW THAT I AM A HYPOCRITE, in your reasoning, pasted below?
            is that a blatant question of why I might think you are a hypocrite (I don't)?

            Then you go on to completely disregard the argument I made in the post.

            Then you ask another question– here is your answer (below) but I do not want to further discuss this because this is so far off the point of why I posted in this thread it's bordering on the ridiculous. here goes:

            View #1
            MR is a realizing being….therefore anything he says or does could/is viewed as 'holy' and 'perfect'

            View #2
            MR is just a mere mortal…..therefore anything he says or does is subject to ordinary human fallacy

            View #3 (and mind you, I said AT LEAST one other view; I can think of more and I'm sure many are out there that I cannot fathom)
            MR is a realized being and also a human….therefore anything he says or does could be the perfection of an 8th Level Bodhisattva and/or he is subject to human fallacy

            Here's another, just for good measure:
            View 4
            MR is a realized being in human form…..therefore, what he says and does is indeed perfect, we mere mortals simply do not understand because we are not as realized.

            The list goes on and on…..and I've stated it's beside the point. I do not claim to know which– if any– of the above posits might be true. I simply do not know and will not speculate.

            The last two (#3 and #4) I believe were indeed brought up in this forum since I posted that I didn't see it being referred to– these have now been posited (I think by Tenor?).

            I can agree to disagree with you Cyn. I don't need us to agree on this or anything else. I have enjoyed your posts, in case you were wondering.

            This whole conversation right now feels like it's just not the right thing to do/ not the right place to be for me anymore. I thank all who have helped me come to my own conclusions, but I won't be posting again.

          • Tenor says:

            People don't dispute that he received a Geshe degree – merely that that there are varieties of geshe degrees and I have heard more than one geshe say his Tibetan was not adequate for him to debate – and that he received a 'small' geshe degree for his service to the monastery as at that time were also awarded to Tibetan monks. I wrote that he was not a 'genuine geshe' in the sense that he does not follow the practices of a 'Virtuous Friend", the meaning of geshe, that I've been fortunate to observe in genuine Geshes.

            As for being a 'realized being' that is his claim – unsubstantiated by his teachers or practices. Of course, like Devadatta, he may be a realized being who is enacting the role of a blasphemous vow-breaker, mocking the tradition he couldn't live up to, flouting his teachers, etc., in order to show people how disturbing such a path is.

            Personally, I hope that is what is occurring – the enactment of a warning to modern people who may wish to practice Buddhism. However, in that case, people who are not realized must take heed to the warning.

          • cloverleaf says:


            "People don't dispute that he received a Geshe degree – merely that that there are varieties of geshe degrees and I have heard more than one geshe say his Tibetan was not adequate for him to debate – and that he received a 'small' geshe degree for his service to the monastery as at that time were also awarded to Tibetan monks. I wrote that he was not a 'genuine geshe' in the sense that he does not follow the practices of a 'Virtuous Friend", the meaning of geshe, that I've been fortunate to observe in genuine Geshes. "

            Forgive me for not placing the word 'genuine' in front of 'Geshe' in that sentence…..but your above paragraph illustrates my point nicely.

          • sp says:

            Of course, once the geshe-awarding process is called into question by saying that the monastery gives the title to cooks and to people who donate funds, then it doesn't make much sense to quote "a geshe from France" or "two geshes from Sera" unless there's an independent geshe-verifying committee.

            That's an unfortunate path to go down, imho.

          • ekanthomason says:

            There is a difference between a renegade geshe and a geshe who remains plugged into the system even if they are a kitchen geshe.

          • Tenor says:

            Kitchen geshes, I know, don't 'teach' – let alone claim qualified to act as Vajra Gurus! lol

          • Tenor says:

            But if they did, they'd be soundly ridiculed.

          • AnnetteVictoria says:

            "Of course, like Devadatta, he may be a realized being who is enacting the role of a blasphemous vow-breaker, mocking the tradition he couldn't live up to, flouting his teachers, etc., in order to show people how disturbing such a path is."

            What an interesting perspective! I'm going to chew on this for a while.

          • Tenor says:

            In 1997, after Gen Lobsang Gyatso and two monk-translators in training were murdered just outside the gate to H.H. Dalai Lama's temple complex by people dressed as monks, whom Indian police determined had come from Tibet and were in communication with Dogyal supporters, the whole 'Dogyal' issue 'hotted up'.

            My teachers encouraged studying the statements and transcribed talks of His Holiness, the Tibetan Government in Exile, westerners in Tricycle, etc., along with reading pro-Dogyal materials, and they discussed the back ground of the conflict in detail.

            But they also taught the Mahayana story of Devadatta as a cautionary tale to remember when we are contemplating the activities of people who are doing great harm to beings in our world. The story is not told to teach us to to avoid 'judging' or analyzing functional reality as correctly as possible — I remember asking about that specifically again after the 2003 retreat scandal and the MR people said it was a sin to 'judge' MR's conduct.

            The story of Devadatta is told so we don't harm ourselves by developing strong negative feelings against harm-doers — even those who are harming our teachers, Buddha, and Dharma — because responding with unchecked emotions that bring us close to hatred of anyone endangers our Bodhisattva Vow.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Beautifully said.

          • Zirconia says:

            An example of him "not acting or speaking like a realized being" was provided as evidence, not complain.

          • Karina says:

            Cloverleaf, remember? GM is a 8th bhumi bodhisattva, an enlightened being, I don't think he gets the same pass as us "unenlightened human beings".

      • Zirconia says:

        If the things he wrote in his recent essay "to Answer Questions from My Friends" are true, his geshe degree was well earned through hard work, and I would applaud him for all the things he had done when he was still a monk (before his marriage to McNally).

        His very recent essay in PDF format:

        • krigor says:

          the issues are his lies. And was that period of study 20, 25, or 30 years — the numbers keep changing. Perhaps next week it will be 35 years.

        • Tenor says:

          Zirconia, So many lies, so little time. But I think on earlier posts you can see some of the facts that contradict his self-assertions.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Even Aguse, who was close to him gives a different account. 20 years in Howell, N.J. and I think Khensur Rinpoche was abbot for one year. GM was an assistant and not sitting in a classroom according to her. 15 Years working 16 hours a day in the diamond industry. Not much time left but I am sure he studied and translated. He is a very intelligent man. She says he sat for his geshe exam but does not say he studied at the monastery for 20 years.

            "similar to when Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin became abbot of Sera and GMR became his main assistant there. that is a particularly privileged position in the monastery, though it involves working for free tirelessly for the benefit of 1000s of monks

            ludicrous that you deny that GMR is a real Geshe. i suppose activities such as translating the main abhidharmakosha commentary for 10 years side-by-side with Khen Rinpoche, studying and living with Khen Rinpoche for 20 years, and sitting for the Geshe exams and passing it is not enough to earn one a Geshe degree."

      • Wonderer says:

        I would be interested to know if other people have experienced some connection between NKT and DM?

        In the early 2000's I was given a KG written book by a DM student so I could learn more about Buddhism. When I did my due diligence and found out about how the Dalai Lama was not a fan, I asked the DM student about it. I was basically told I must have not done my due diligence and had been reading fringe rumors. I was told that other students (I didn't ask if that meant one student or many) came to DM after being in a NKT group and considered both to great groups, and that there was nothing wrong with NKT/KG.

        I always assumed it isolated to the student I talked with, and maybe a couple others, until I read the comment that MR consulted the current Pabongka Rinpoche. I'm curious how if anybody else has heard of connections between DM and NKT?

        • Tenor says:

          Of course, a number of NKT Center attenders have left and gone on to study and practice Dharma with other Tibetan Buddhist teachers. But in my experience, they feel like they escaped from a negative situation and are happy to find compassionate teachers. In other words, they do not heap praise upon NKT and KG. KG books are generally translations of excellent Tibetan texts. At some point in the 1990's it seems they began to include prayers, etc. to Dogyal somewhere in each book. Some of their translations seem didactic – either a fundamentalist trait or merely an unskillful translations. Do not know anything about the current Pabongka tulku and KG – as mentioned elsewhere, apparently even among Dogyal practitioners, his reputation does not hold a candle to his famous predecessor.

  17. Sid says:

    There has been some very interesting conversation here over the last few days, thanks to everyone taking part. In addition to fielding more media inquiries over the last week, I have also been re-connecting with a few former members and sharing experiences. The level of dysfunction and abuse within this organization is astounding. Michael Roach is, in my opinion, a sociopath, plain and simple. This will become clear as more people tell their stories. Am I feeling malice? After what I heard today the answer is probably yes. Unfortunately I can only speak about my own experiences, others will have to tell their own stories, but it will happen. This is far from over.

    • Ben says:

      "The level of dysfunction and abuse within this organization is astounding." Care to elucidate?
      I'm starting to think this story is over.

  18. svan says:

    Here is a transcript of MR's teaching titled "Tantra in America", given in 1999. He had been secretly married to Christie for a year at this time, and was just about to enter 3 year retreat with her and 3 other women in Arizona:

    Under "Authenticity of Lineage" (p. 5), he says:

    "Although I am hesitant personally to state my qualifications for granting tantric initiations and teachings, I would like to list them here, only for the benefit of those who have asked me to; that is, for those who are seriously interested in the possibility of receiving them from myself. I encourage each student of the Institute to be very careful in the selection of their tantric teacher, and tell you quite frankly that I may not be the proper teacher for your own personal needs. It is crucial though that you do seek this teacher out, to find them and to lean with them, as quickly as you are properly able.
    My training in the theory of tantra in this life has been accomplished as follows. Over the last 20 years I have received group tantric initiations from: His Holiness the Dalai Lama; from the late Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, senior tutor of the Dalai Lama and holder of the throne of Je Tsongkapa; from Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, former abbot of Sera Mey Tibetan Monastery; and from the late Zong Rinpoche, tantric master of Ganden Tibetan Monastery.
    I have received extensive group teachings on tantra over the last 20 years from Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, and more specialized teachings from Geshe Trinley Topgye, abbot of Gyume Tibetan Tantric Monastery. I have received brief tantric retreat instructions from the esteemed third incarnation of Pabongka Rinpoche.
    Whatever I have been able to do correctly in my tantric practice is due to the blessings of these eminent Lamas; and whatever mistakes I have made, or setbacks I have encountered, have been due to my own failure to follow their instructions. We really are like ants in their hands, and the most common error we can make I think is to react to their words or actions on face value—to misinterpret things when they seem to criticize us unfairly or act in ways that might even seem wrong.
    We must rather, to the best of our ant-like capacity, try to discern their higher purposes in guiding us up the tree. It is essential in the practice of tantra, as Je Tsongkapa has so eloquently taught us in the art of interpreting the Buddha's teachings on emptiness, that we rely not on the actual statements of a Lama, but rather on what we determine their true meaning to be, by taking as our ultimate authority our own careful reasoning and direct experience in deciding what is right or wrong for our practice.
    I have further received private initiations and practice instructions from some six perfect Tantric Masters over more than 20 years, and it is with their sole sanction and guidance that I undertake my current tantric practice.
    How do you meet an authentic Tantric Master? You reel them in with your good deeds, you attract them with your attempts to live a good life, like a bee to honey. This fact, that you must have collected immense amounts of good karma to meet them, can be an important barometer in determining whether you are ready for these teachings, and whether a potential tantric teacher is "for real."
    In judging my own heart, I have tried to examine whether I have the necessary amount of good karma to practice and teach these subjects. Again, I list my thoughts on this here only to help those who may be interested in learning with me.
    I have memorized an extensive amount of tantric ritual and have translated several hundred pages of tantric commentaries. I've also undertaken over ten full tantric retreats, and practiced tantra daily for more than 20 years. I have spent over 5,000 hours in this lifetime—here in America and at each of the major monasteries of the Gelukpa Tibetan tradition—in classes and debate of the open teachings, under some 12 major Tibetan teachers. I have spent over 30,000 hours in the personal service of my Lamas, in such tasks as cooking, building, or working a corporate job to raise funds for Tibetan monks and monasteries. I have helped save over 100,000 pages of sacred scripture; translated and taught 3,000 pages of open teachings to others in more than a thousand hours of classes, and so on.
    I think that whatever qualifications I have to teach and practice tantra, and whatever goals I have ever been able to reach spiritually, are due to these sincere efforts to study, practice, and serve my Lamas and others. If I see the world in a way which is different from the way that others may, it is precisely because of these efforts—it is the expected result of the Buddhist path itself.
    I don't believe that persons who have not expended similar efforts will or could appreciate all the views I am expressing here on the subject of tantra. I offer them only in the hopes that some exceptional disciples with seeds of true faith may be attracted to this path, and with a prayer that—by the power of the truth of these words—others as well may at some future time come under the loving guidance of their own Tantric Master."

    • Tenor says:

      Mr wrote, "I have further received private initiations and practice instructions from some six perfect Tantric Masters over more than 20 years, and it is with their sole sanction and guidance that I undertake my current tantric practice."

      Since I doubt that MR would claim to have "received private initiations and practice instructions" from H.H. Dalai Lama, who along with Lama Tharchin refused to reply to his letter seeking post-retreat 'sanction' — and since MR's own letter makes it clear that he had not sought the 'guidance'of the letter's recipients in undertaking his tantric practice, I wonder who those 'six perfect Tantric Maters are? I cannot remember if Geshe Trinley Topgye, a Gyume Khensur Rinpoche replied to his letter? MR says he attended tantric teachings by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche, but they had passed on long before the 2000 retreat. Of his named teachers, that leaves Pabongka Rinpoche, He sure does flog his CV, just the opposite of the real teachers and humble practitioners who don't advertise their own qualities or accomplishments.

      • svan says:

        That stood out for me as well – 6 perfect Tantric Masters, whose sanction and guidance led him into the first 3 year retreat and who shall (conveniently) remain nameless… shouldn't one Tantric Master be enough? but then, having only one consort in retreat wasn't enough either… Ah, American Buddhism, DM-style: One part Tony Robbins, one part L Ron Hubbard and one part Hugh Hefner.

      • ekanthomason says:


        • svan says:

          CV = curriculum vitae, a detailed resume in the professional/academic worlds

        • ekanthomason says:

          Tenor –
          Yes. This is a note at the end of his letter:
          "Gyumey Khensur Rinpoche instructed Geshe Michael during the winter inter-monastery debates (sort of a debate Olympics), and has also granted him higher teachings."

      • Ben says:

        How many "Great Masters" came to teach him in "The Garden:A Parable"? It seems this was written right before that was released

        • ekanthomason says:

          The Garden A Parable was published in 2000. Flipping through it, I came up with this list: Master Vasubandu, Dharma kirti, Kamala Shila, Maitreya, First Dalai Lama, Dharma Bhadra, Guna Prabha, Master Asanga, Shanti Deva, Gautama Buddha, The Angel.

      • ekanthomason says:

        Sometimes it is hard to identify what is missing. Does it seem odd to anyone else that these 'six perfect tantric masters' are not listed on the DM lineage webpage?
        For Instance:

    • A Nonny Mouse says:

      I thought that the 6 referred to his female companions, not all of whom entered the retreat with him.

    • Sid says:

      Wow, Svan, Ian Thorson gave me a copy of this the night he let me crash in his living room, on the weekend of my very first visit to meet GM in NY in 1999. I remember being so in awe of his world at the time. Tantra. From a Geshe who actually spoke english and whose teachings on emptiness I could actually understand. Seemed to good to be true.

      • Ben says:

        I'm amazed that Ian had a living room in which you could crash.

        • Ben says:

          I think I should make it clear that I was making a joke. I think if Ian were somewhere where he could read what I wrote, it would give him a chuckle.

          • Sid says:

            It was not his, it belonged to a friend or relative (Grandmother?)that was away and letting him use it.

        • Sid says:

          you still here Ben? I thought the story was finished! 😉

          • Ben says:

            When I said the story was finished, I meant there would be no more substantial revelations in a medium that might impact GMR, DM, or present or future students significantly. But I do find a lot of what is being written about here interesting.

  19. ekanthomason says:

    I must confess that all along, even through this latest controversy, I have reserved a small space in my mind for the possibility that Michael Roach and Christie McNally were engaging in a Gelupa sanctioned consort practice. The area of doubt has been getting smaller and smaller as this controversy has progressed. But I continued to think, perhaps under special circumstances it is permitted and if it is secret then they really cannot talk about it. Today that space evaporated into thin air.

    Deep in another thread, Sea mentioned Serkong Dorjechang, a well-known and very respected monk who engaged in partner practice. Not being familiar with him, I did some research. Serkong Dorjechang lived during the lifetime of the 13th Dalai Lama, who recognized him as a very advanced practitioner. His Holiness advised him to give back his robes so he could take up consort practice in order to accelerate his advancement on the path.

    Yes. Serkong Dorjechang was a monk.
    Yes. Serkong Dorjechang engaged in consort practice.
    However, he was not a monk during the time he had a consort. He gave his robes back at the request of HHDL.

    “And in the history of the Gelug lineage, he is the only Lama that the Dalai Lama has ever advised to give his robes back.” The message is very clear to me for the first time. Monks of the Gelugpa tradition are not to engage with a physical consort. Michael Roach's robes and consort practice are completely incompatible with one another.

    • Zirconia says:

      MR: "the practice of a spiritual partner is described beautifully in many books, especially in a text called The Book of Three Beliefs, written by a lama called Je Tsongkapa. He was the teacher of His Holiness the First Dalai Lama, and himself had a spiritual partner who was given the name Tangsha Marmo: the Lady in the Red Hat."

      Can't find info on Tangsha Marmo, there may be other ways of spelling.

      • ekanthomason says:

        Zirconia – MR said that the lady in the red hat was an oral tradition at Sera Monastery. One more unverifiable idea he has thrown in the mix.

        MR translated parts of that commentary for our tantra class. I did not find the cautions and conditions in the translation that he did. Most students I talked to did not know that the Je Tsongkapa's commentary was available on Amazon. They thought they were getting first translated copy. Lightly comparing translations as we went through it, put one more doubt on my already heavy shelf. I did speak with one student at the time and he too was very concerned.

        The quote below contradicts MR.
        "Mind you, not everybody can do this consort practice. Lama Tsongkhapa himself discouraged the actual physical consort practice because he said that many of us are not qualified. And although Lama Tsongkhapa himself was very qualified for consort practice, he didn’t do it because he wanted to encourage his students to do visualized consort practice instead. Because if one does visualized consort practice, one does not have to give up one’s robes whereas if one does physical consort practice, although it could be faster for those who are attained, it could also be very detrimental to most of us who are not, and who would instead get attached to the lust and desire instead of gaining the actual attainments."

        Tangsha is a hat folded up on one side.

      • svan says:

        Lots of info in that link, Zirconia, thanks. I think this answers some earlier questions about the "angel clothing":

        "we are trying to follow a Buddhist tradition over a thousand years old which is called “Angel Clothes.” This is where we wear for example a special bracelet that resembles, according to Buddhists, the bracelet that an actual angel would always wear. Buddhism, like many other traditions, believes that there are actually angels walking around in the world, near us all the time, oftentimes posing as ordinary people. When we wear an “angel bracelet,” we are sending them a message that we believe in them, and that we are open and available for their assistance in our life.

        When we do wear a piece of “angel clothing” for a long time during our life in this world, it naturally plants seeds inside us: the jewelry or clothing becomes very familiar and normal to us. When we die, say the Buddhists, our spirit goes on a journey through many realms, seeking a new life.

        If we’ve been wearing a business suit our whole life, then our spirit might see some business people and stop in that realm, to be born into a family there and grow up to be an Enron executive, or something like that!

        But if we’ve been wearing an “angel bracelet” our whole life, then when the spirit after death passes by some kind of heavenly realm and sees a lot of people wearing the same thing, then we could well be attracted and stop there, to live with angels forever. We really believe that this is true, and we consider the practice of wearing “angel clothes” to be of life-or-death importance. Luckily we live in a country where all religious customs such as this are tolerated and respected."

        • Tenor says:

          Earlier there was a discussion about MR's lies about monastics practicing in "Angel Clothes", etc. So absurdly false. But I'll bite: what in the world is an 'angel bracelet"?

          • Zirconia says:

            GMR 2003: … And that’s when I started wearing ornaments of Vajrayogini and wearing my hair that way. I think it’s powerful. You know in our lineage it’s only done during initiation, that the lama would dress as Vajrayogini. I think if you’re serious about getting there before you die, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to dress like that all day long.

            Q: So how did you choose the bracelet, for example? I mean the hair, that makes some sense; the ring, I have a question about that later, but why the bracelet?

            GMR: Oh, just Vajrayogini gave it to me.

            Q: And then the rings. I mean did you guys actually have like a ceremony?

            GMR: We’re not married in that way. It’s not … I’m Vajrayogini’s disciple, and I wear her ring.

            Christie: No, no, I’m Vajrayogini’s disciple and I wear her ring. (laughs)

            Aww, such a cute couple! And their marriage didn't last, what hope is there for the rest of us? Luckily, I have 2 wives, "the One" and "the Two".

          • Tenor says:

            Such a bald-faced liar should try to avoid getting actual 'reporters' on his case:

            "Q: And then the rings. I mean did you guys actually have like a ceremony?

            GMR: We’re not married in that way. "

            If one requires physical reminders of one's yidam, doesn't the "angel" Vajrayogini wear skulls and bones as jewelry?

          • Zirconia says:

            The rings were indeed on the ring fingers, but that's coincidental. Honest!

            MR: And I guess it’s only coincidence, right, that the wedding finger is the finger that is sacred to Vajrayogini….

            Q: … So you guys didn’t do any special trading of rings?

            MR: Oh we made a beautiful ceremony of it. And the rings were made by a friend of mine who’s a very master jeweler from, he’s Yemenese, a Yemenite Jew, who’s a master handcraftsman. And we put a diamond in them to remember emptiness, and they’re Irish design. So it was to remember.

          • Tenor says:

            MR – as a careerist who favorite employee is deception – is a 'master' craftsman of the verbal 'smoke screen'. That is the function of his verbal digression into Yemen, Arabia, Palestine/Israel and Ireland.

          • Phurba says:

            so which is it? You're not married in that way, did not have a ceremony, you're just VY's disciple and wear her ring OR "he and Ms. McNally “come from strong Christian backgrounds” and “wanted to do a Christian partnership ritual at the same time we did the Buddhist one, at the beginning of our partnership.” (They were married on April 16, 1998, in Little Compton, R.I.)"

          • Phurba says:

            And yes, the Vajrayogini I am aware of wears bone ornaments, not diamonds.

          • Tenor says:

            Well, wearing skulls and bones as jewelry in the USA would definitely attract a different demographic than the young, hip, biz/yoga folks, and would be a real turn off to slightly disaffected mainline Christians MR tried to attract with the (for Buddhists) heretical notion that Mahayana Buddhism is the Eastern Branch of Christianity.

          • Tenor says:


            So many lies, so little time to address them all, but here are some more contained in the short passage you cite above:

            "You know in our lineage it’s only done during initiation, that the lama would dress as Vajrayogini."

            Ridiculous made up phooey-erie!

            1) the "Lama" giving the empowerment does NOT dress up. [Occasionally, for brief periods, H.H. Dalai Lama, et al., dons a Pandita hat [e.g., when conducting the elaborate Bodhisattva Vow ceremonies].

            2) The very few persons who are the actual intended disciples of the initiation are give some generic ritual articles including an unusual hat with top knots [no one will ever see MR walking around Manhattan wearing one of those]; and a brocade cloth [not an actual item of clothing] is placed over the shoulders, etc. The same items are used for all the HYT empowerments.

            I read several years ago that the head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, while attending a rare (maybe every 12 years or so) ceremony at Hemis monastery, Ladakh, donned a bone ornament skirt such as Vajrayogini wears that reputedly belonged to Naropa.

            (2) "I think if you’re serious about getting there before you die, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to dress like that all day long."

            As MR says in some video I've seen recently, "Tantra is Secret". In any HYT, one is extensively warned not to tell anyone we received such and such an empowerment, nor are we to wear decorations — like skull rosaries — in public. We should not even show our dorjes and bells to non-yogis – actually, the more secretly we keep our ritual items and practice, the better our practice.

            As DM'ers recount, Mr. and Mrs. Roach also said that HYT is to be held more secretly from the public than the normal practice advice: do not brag about taking Bodhisattva vows or boast about any of one's Dharma activities.

            Surely, the contradiction between secret practice and public display is obvious even to MR.

          • Tenor says:


            Mrs. Roach was also lying in the interview cited. She lies even more blatantly about her relationship with MR on the “Three Year Retreat for Peace” web site (

            “Three Years of Silent Retreat: A conversation with one of the West’s only female lamas, Christie McNally – Written by Patrick James and originally published in GOOD, October 22, 2009 []

            G: Is there any sort of communication among people at retreat?

            CM: It depends. When I did mine, I didn’t have any communication to anyone at all, except for the caretakers. That was very limited. It was like “Get me more toilet paper.” [laughs] We asked them not to send us any letters from anyone. We asked them not to send us any news. We didn’t know about 9/11. It happened during our retreat and we found out a couple years later. They didn’t tell us. I think we were the only ones on the planet who didn’t know about it.

            G: That’s astounding.

            Astonishing, indeed. "I didn’t have any communication to anyone at all,"

            If she tried to claim that she and MR were silent for 3-years together in a yurt that would be totally unbelievable. But to go far beyond that and categorically claim she didn't have "any communication to anyone at all" — after the fact of her living with MR in a yurt during the retreat were matters of public record is bizarre.

            Why would anyone tell a whopper that is known to be a big fat lie to their students and members of the public, the very people whose support the web page is soliciting?

            And how can DM/MR/CM students, followers, sympathizers condone such lies?

          • Tenor says:


            One more question: I don't get the "Luckily, I have 2 wives, "the One" and "the Two" reference?

          • Zirconia says:

            the One: nickname for one wife, as in "you're the one I have been looking for all my life"
            the Two: nickname for other wife

            I was just making a joke.

          • Tenor says:

            Thank you for the clarification.

          • aguse says:

            you obviously have zero experience with tantra

          • AnnetteVictoria says:

            What's your experience been, aguse? I'm not questioning your authority to speak on the subject, I'm genuinely interested.

        • AnnetteVictoria says:

          Reincarnation is based on something as superficial as a person's outward appearance? This seems absurd to me, and overtly materialistic.

          • Tenor says:

            Annette, Your assessment is spot-on.

            To reiterate, Vinaya monastics take vows not to wear jewelry and ornaments. So MR needed a good excuse for wearing diamond earrings after his 'retreat'. He started his ministry with the claim that he had 'realized Emptiness directly" – a stupendous meditative attainment that transforms 'ordinary persons into superiors, Aryas. While his descriptions of that meditation differ profoundly from the 'usual' accounts, it is impossible to believe that an actual Arya would find it necessary to wear diamonds in order to remember the incredible experience of mental direct perception of the ultimate truth regarding the mode of existence of all phenomena'. Don't tourists and voyeurs collect or wear souvenirs to remember places and experiences they cannot replicate?

        • Phurba says:

          From a prophecy by Guru Padmasambhava:

          "When religious duties are forgotten, spirits of darkness, which had been controlled by ritual power, become unloosed and frenzied and govern the mind of whatever being they possess. Spirits of vindictive power possess monks; … enchanting spirits causing disease possess men; grasping, quarreling spirits possess women; spirits of wantonness possess maidens; spirits of depravity possess nuns; spirits of rebellion and malice possess children; every man, woman and child in the country becomes possessed by uncontrollable forces of darkness. __The_signs_of_these_times_are_new_and_fantastical_modes_of_dressing-traditional_styles_forgotten;_the_monks_wear_fancy_robes_and_the_nuns_dress_up_before_a_mirror__.

          From this text:

          • Phurba says:

            "householders fill the monasteries and there is fighting before the altar; the temples are used as slaughterhouses. The ascetics of the caves return to the cultivated valleys and the Yogins become traders; thieves own the wealth and cattle; monks become householders while priests and spiritual leaders turn to robbery, brigandage and thievery. Disorder becomes chaos, turning to panic which rages like wildfire. Corrupt and selfish men become leaders … the images of the Buddhas, the sacred icons, the scroll paintings and the stupas will be desecrated, stolen and bartered at the market price."

          • Phurba says:

            "The Abbot and Master poison their pupil's minds and hearts; … men become lewd and licentious; women become unchaste; monks ignore their discipline and moral code"

          • Phurba says:

            And from another prophecy given to Yeshe Tsogyal: "Master Padma said: In the future, when the dark age of degeneration arrives, some people who claim to be practitioners will desire to teach others without having received permission. Without having practised themselves they will instruct others in meditation. Without being liberated themselves they will pretend to give instructions for liberation. Without being devoid of self-interest they will instruct others to cast away their fetters of attachment and be generous. Without the slightest understanding of the good or evil of their own actions they will spout clairvoyant statements about good or evil fare of others. Having no stability themselves they will claim to be benefiting other beings. I think there will be many who will pretend, be hypocritical, cheat, and deceive in the name off the Dharma."


      • ekanthomason says:

        Zirconia – I just got off of the phone with a monk at Sera Monastery who said it is blasphemy to say Je Tsongkapa had a consort. I thought you would want to know.

        • Tenor says:

          Blasphemy is an accurate label. Did you ask him about the getsul and gelong ordinations conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Roach? I call that a blasphemous black mass of an ordination. But your and Sid's descriptions of the the MR and CM "empowerments" are truly mondo-bizzaro. They were just making stuff up and what occurred does not remotely approximate Geluk-pa empowerments.

          As His Holiness office letter in 2006 implies, Je Rinpoche was a 'reformer' — in the footsteps of Atisha — because, sadly but truly, from 600-1400 AD, Tibetans repeatedly got confused by tantra and genuine practice of Dharma degenerated in Tibet.

          So to you and your brothers and sisters who studied and practice at DM, please do not "be too hard on yourselves" or feel 'shame'. You innocently fell into traps that were carefully laid by clever predators.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Sweet. Thank you.

          • Phurba says:

            Just an aside, Venerable: "sadly but truly, from 600-1400 AD, Tibetans repeatedly got confused by tantra and genuine practice of Dharma degenerated in Tibet. " This could easily be read as a sectarian statement. I have no doubt that is what the Gelukpa historians recount though. I am sure you won't be surprised that this is not the consensus. In regards to the strict adherence to vinaya codes in the monasteries though, there may be some truth.. but the balancing of the three sets of vows and how they should be carried differs a bit between the great lineages. So I am sure, from a Gelukpa POV the monastic discipline in some instances degenerated.. but this would not necessarily be true from other points of view. The important point here is that M.R. is supposedly a monastic Geshe of the Gelukpa order, and seemingly very proud about it. So it is only fair to judge him from those standards.

          • Phurba says:

            Also, another aside: from a Nyingma POV, because there are the accompanying Ngakpa and Yogi lineages of ordination, the monastic system is not strictly necessary for upholding the Buddhadharma in a pure way.
            That said, the monastic vinaya is obviously profound and important and upheld in all lineages.. but let's not forget it is not the only expression.

          • marielejeun says:

            Phurba, thank you for this. It's an important clarification.

          • Tenor says:

            Just because Buddha taught that the Vinaya Sangha lineage is a necessary causal component for the preservation of Buddha Dharma in our world, does not at all imply that Buddha taught it is the "sufficient cause". The preservation of the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni requires the presence of Vinaya Sangha along with the study and practice of some substantial fraction of the adherents of Buddha's teachings.

          • Tenor says:


            Are you suggesting that the King of western Tibetan kingdom, who sacrificed his own life to bring Jo Wo Atisha from Bengal because he was so heartbroken by the degeneracy in Buddhist practice, did so for no good reason?

            After Buddhism was first brought to Tibet, even with royal support, it was not established on a solid footing until Shantarakshita, a great Indian saint – with the aid of Guru Rinpoche – established the first Vinaya monastery in Tibet. If one reads Tibetan history, there are repeated accounts of the abuse of tantra and degeneration of behavior at monasteries – the very behavior Yeshe Tsogyal prophesied in your citation above has occurred episodically in Tibet for 1,400 years. A number of Asian Buddhists [Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore-SE Asia group, etc.] organize teachings by H.H. Dalai Lama here because His Holiness cannot get a visa to visit their countries, and His Holiness always warns them about fake Tibetan ‘Dharma King’ teachers trolling Asia for devotees to exploit.

            This is no big surprise. People are human. The practice and realizations of Buddhism are not easily accomplished and are meant to counter the delusions most people cherish.

            Personally, when I finally took refuge, one of the first studies I undertook was research on the historical and contemporary corruption of 'Buddhism’ — because the institutions of Buddhism are run by human beings and some percentage of human beings are corrupt –- in order to avoid a future emotional state of bitter disappointment that might arise with uninformed idealization of some self-proclaimed Buddhist teacher/practitioners.

            We live in samsara and are surrounded by foolish people who harm others and themselves. Corruption is not a human behavior limited to any particular school, sect, or tradition in Tibet, Buddhism, or any other human institution on this planet.

            Of course, not all Buddhist practitioners in ancient Tibet were corrupt, or they wouldn't have had the ability to support reforming saints.

            Within the Geluk-pa tradition, a nasty fundamentalist ethos — combined with political machinations against the Gaden Photang of the Dalai Lamas — manifested 300+ years ago in the guise of Dogyal worship. Sadly, this corruption became stronger during the regency for the 14th Dalai Lama and now the Chinese Communist Party promotes and sponsors it. Known practitioners of this magical cult, peculiarly, do ‘manifest’ rather amazing acquisition of wealth often in the form of fabulous real estate. As I've inferentially speculated on this forum, MR has a Dogyal lineage and like others before him, propitiating the angry ghost may have fueled his degeneration.

            If you feel I'm being narrowly sectarian, here's a horribly sad account of degeneration within Geluk monasteries: When evidence was found that Rheting Rinpoche, himself, was conspiring murders in order to regain the Regency, the Tibetan government was required to obtain permission to arrest him from the Abbot of Sera Jey. When this became known, Sera Jey monks took up arms, chased the Abbott to a rooftop and murdered him, after which they battled the government’s armed forces which suppressed their rebellion.

            Perhaps you shouldn’t dismiss all historical accounts as sectarian slanders. Do your own investigation with open eyes. Putting blinders on oneself is not a healthy practice except when they are physical objects you use to sleep on a bus.

          • elma says:

            Some of the posts here have been so helpful. I took a six-week intro course with MR’s ACI group several years ago, and I attended maybe five or six meditation sessions after that with a guy who wore monk’s robes and was said to be a master. I drifted away from the group after that. Now that I have learned so much about MR’s group in the past few weeks, it has been hair-raising for me to picture myself bumbling around the big city on my own, looking for some kind of spiritual guidance and running smack into MR’s crazy stuff. My memory is imperfect at this point, but I’ve been trying to remember what kept me away.
            1.I may have become somewhat aware of MR’s 2006 incident concerning the DL. That would have been after I already stopped going to ACI classes/meditation sessions. But knowledge of that incident would have helped me steer clear, although I did go to one more MR event in 2007.
            2.Other Buddhist teachers whose talks I dropped in on over the course of a few years were saying things such as “Take baby steps” and “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” I concluded that made more sense than ACI’s express elevator to enlightenment. At ACI, we were taught in that six-week intro class that if we were enlightened enough, then we could stand in front of a speeding bus and let it pass right through—just like in the Matrix movie.
            3.The 2007 St. Bart’s Church talk given by MR and CM. That’s the only time I saw them in person. There were oddities and theatrics: strange humming sounds, and the implications on MR’s part before he answered audience questions that he was getting some sort of divine guidance from unseen deities. My critical thinking skills were not as good as they should have been, but I do remember concluding to a relative on the phone, “You know . . . I think it’s crazy.”
            4.Maybe it was mostly luck that kept me away. Most of all, I wasn’t a “yogariffic” 20-something. To borrow a word from one of the other posters on this forum.
            5.I was aware of the advice that people should wait 10 years before choosing any lama.
            6.One time I went to a Zen place run by an American woman. She asked me what other places I’d been to and what I knew about Buddhism. I gave my experiences briefly. Then she said that some people who visit her place are so well-informed in a bookish way about Buddhism that she tells them to get on with practicing it already. But she said firmly to me, “But my advice to you: you need to read more, you need to learn more.” It’s true that I am no scholar, but I do wonder now if she was partly reacting to my mentioning an ACI class? Anyway, I think because of what she said I purchased Thubten Chodron’s Buddhism for Beginners. At the time I remember even feeling sheepish: geez, other people are on the express elevator and I’m still here at the beginning.

            Obviously the situation with MR is bad news for a lot of people. But partly what I’m feeling is that the world simply makes slightly more sense now than it did previously, now that all these stories are coming to light. So in that way it feels like a relief. What’s really surprised me and made me feel bad is how much the ACI way of thinking sunk in, even with little involvement on my part with the group.

          • Tenor says:


            Thank you for your post. You were fortunate to be protected by your "Spidey-sense", karmic imprints, the Triple Gems, and other Buddhist teachers and practitioners who — as is occurring on this forum — erected warning signs for you to heed.

            One thing you wrote has prompted my immediate reply:

            "At ACI, we were taught in that six-week intro class that if we were enlightened enough, then we could stand in front of a speeding bus and let it pass right through—just like in the Matrix movie."

            I saw MR teach in Spring 1998 in Knoxville, TN. With a bit of spidey-sense, refuge and the examples of wonderful teachers' practice, I was appalled by MR's outrageous performance. I've been hesitant to relate the story he told similar to the one you recounted because at the time and in retrospect it was such a shocking distortion of the teachings.

            As I recall, he talked about one of the big Manhattan one-way N/S avenues where you can see a battalion of yellow cabs stopped at a light. He said when you reached his Arya state you could see them as big cartoon animals – like bright orange Rhinos or Hippos – and you could safely walk right into the traffic as their light turned green and molecularly disassociate them. It is not a direct quote. But the gist.

            Stupefying Stuff!

          • Tenor says:


            MR is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing who exploits people's spiritual longings along with their human emotional weaknesses with great, even scientific, calculation.

            You wrote:

            "What’s really surprised me and made me feel bad is how much the ACI way of thinking sunk in, even with little involvement on my part with the group."

            You are fortunate to be have the recognition of surprise at being 'conned' Part of the con-artist bag of tricks is to engage the mark in some emotional/mental activity (better yet, a physical act) that is at least slightly naughty, less than virtuous, or best for the con-artist, actually immoral. The reason is that part of the con is to make the mark too embarrassed to escape or complain. Actually, the ego often reacts to shame/embarrassment with denial or a type of paralysis that keeps the mark entrapped by the con.

            On a trip to China, I was 'conned' by two middle aged English speaking people who began talking to me in the crowded exit from the Forbidden Palace after a very hot, long day. They seemed pleasant and we agreed to go get a cup of tea. We had an enjoyable chat in a small place nearby. Then I was presented with a bill for the equivalent of $160. Note: I hadn't done anything even slightly immoral or naughty. Still I felt as though I'd been in an auto-accident. In shock! Although I calmly protested and denied their claims, I paid the bill. It took a walk and a bus ride for the physical feeling of shock, which induced some sort of paralysis on my brain and function, to clear. Then I remembered that Lonely Planet says there's a special Police Bureau in Beijing for filing complaints re this type of con, so I went back to the scene of the crime and got my money back.

            Long story to point out, that was nothing that implicated my ego – yet I went reeling in shock from a con.

            Hopefully, you and others on this forum will use critical thinking and contemplation to analyze which of our human foible buttons MR/ACI/DM press to entice/hook people.

            MR is hardly alone. In America, it's hard to understand how people can survive if they are not constantly alert, at least in the market place, and in their homes while listening to commercial music, watching any TV or movie, to the fact that the persons who provide that entertainment do so with the overt intention of manipulating the 'consumer.' This lying manipulation, propaganda of persuasion is a highly developed science intended to trap the innocent sheep with the intent of stealing something from them.

            So trying to understand how the manipulation works in this instance, can be a protection in every sphere of social existence.

          • aguse says:

            lol DM/ACI/MR press. you're a one of a kind Tenor. go bash the New Kadampa Tradition some more, useless idiot.

          • Tenor says:


            It appears one of your human foible buttons feels pressed. Maybe this is an opportunity to analyze how your mind is working in this context and see if the Buddhist teachings provide practice advice that can lead to greater happiness.

          • aguse says:

            observe a particular specimen of human wretch. one moment engaging in thought out personal attacks against someone they do not know, lying about things they cannot know, and in the next offering advice about happiness and the mind.

          • Fleurine says:

            Would you mind explaining youself? thanks in advance!

          • elma says:

            Thanks for your responses to my posting. Much appreciated.

          • Khedrup says:

            Excellent posting, Tenor. People have to learn how to research "gurus" before entering into relationships of discipleship with them. This process is absolutely essential. But these days people seem more worried about investigating the new car they are buying than the guru who will direct their spiritual life. There have been enough problems in the West that those searching for a teacher need to be vigilant.

    • Cyn says:

      I had posted this link deep in another thread, but here is part of a statement by Shamar Rinpoche, regarding the tantric path of the controversial Lama Ole, whom he doesn't-quite-censure. From this account, it does sound as though high lamas in the Gelugpa tradition were overtly teaching consort practice.

      "Lama Ole came to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim with his wife Hannah in the late 1960's in order to meet and study with His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. I was a young man then, only 17 or 18 years old, and could not speak any English at all. At that time I was a student myself. In fact most of the Tibetan Lamas in those days could not speak English and there was only one translator at Rumtek at that time, a Bhutanese doctor named Dr. Jigme. At Rumtek, Lama Ole received many teachings from His Holiness the late Karmapa and from Tenga Rinpoche. From time to time he had to go to Darjeeling to get his Sikkim permit renewed and while he was there he studied a lot with Kalu Rinpoche in Sonada.

      Whenever Lama Ole visited me, he always talked to me about how wonderful it is that he learned all about tantric union practice from Kalu Rinpoche and Tenga Rinpoche. He thought it was just marvelous. Even though I couldn't understand English and he could not yet speak much Tibetan, I understood words like "dewa chenpo" (= great bliss) and "yabyum" ("male/female", the term for deities in union and union practice), which he would say while crossing his arms in front of his chest in the mudra of union. Then he would hug Hannah at the same time. In that way he combined the hippie lifestyle with tantric conduct.

      Lama Ole came to India as a hippie who did everything with wild energy. Although His Holiness the 16th Karmapa advised him to calm down, he never criticized him directly as he was a westerner. Actually Lama Ole's fascination with tantric sex is not exceptional, most of the western hippies who were interested in Buddhism liked it very much. In that respect he is not different from them, he has simply been louder than most about it. Kagyupa Lamas taught hippies the most about yabyum practice. Of course they taught it according to the ancient tantric traditions but western hippies understood it as a practice to turn their sexual desires and habits into meaningful sex.

      In 1980 I came to the United States on my first trip to a western country. It was then that I finally learned how Vajrayana is promoted in western countries. I concluded that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche were primarily responsible for introducing tantric union practices to westerners. As far as I understand, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's philosophy about westerners is that they are highly motivated by sexual desire, inhabiting a realm of sexual desire. Because of that, he saw Tantra as fit for them. When Kalu Rinpoche taught union practice to westerners, he taught them that it was a Tibetan tradition that he had taught in Tibet in the same way. Indeed, Kalu Rinpoche was really highly trained in tantric teachings. The two of them strongly promoted Tantra in the West and as a result of their efforts tantric practice became a big hit in America, Canada and Europe. As the practice of sexual Tantra had already become popular, once they came to America and Europe the Nyingmapas then developed and expanded it more. After Kagyupa and Nyingmapa Lamas taught westerners about yabyum practice, then Gelukpas began to translate tantric texts and write books about it. " source:,59830,page=

      • ekanthomason says:

        Cyn – What are the name of the high lamas in the Gelukpa tradition that were overtly teaching consort practice?
        Perhaps I am missing it, but I don't see any Gelukpa names here.

        • Cyn says:

          Hi, Ekan,

          The excerpt I posted above names Kalu Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, and Chogyam Trunga Rinpoche. Now I am googling an it looks like they are from the Karma Kagyu lineage(??) I had thought they were also Gelugpa. It is kind of confusing; I feel like I need a timeline chart!

          So I find this a little confusing because they also claim true Vajrayana practice. So is the issue which lineage is teaching true Vajrayana, as in what the Buddha taught? And whether Vajrayana allows monks to practice with human consorts or just to visualize?

          • ekanthomason says:

            Hi Cyn,
            These are very good questions. There are four primary Tibetan lineages: Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu and Gelugpa. There are also two Japanese lineages: Tendai and Shingon. There is no claim to which Vajrayana lineage is the best or true one. That would be like saying, “which flower is the true flower.” Different people have different propensities that draw them to one school or the other. It is not that one is right and the others are wrong.

            A Kagyu nun friend explained the differences of the four Tibetan lineages with the analogy of a mountain. The Nyingmas drop you on the mountain by helicopter and you learn about the mountain by direct experience. The Gelugpas study the mountain terrain, flora, fauna, geology, maps, charts and elevation gain along with the possible effects it has on the individual before starting up the mountain. I don’t remember what she said about the other two schools but they are somewhere in between. All these paths are valid.

            Some of these lineages allow marriage, spiritual partners, consorts and such to different degrees. The Gelugpa tradition was founded by Je Tsongkapa (1357 – 1419). Since the beginning this lineage has not supported physical consort practice for monks. Michael Roach received his full-ordination in a Sera Mey, which a Gelugpa monastery and he does encourage consort practice for the ordained. That is where the controversy is. That is why the monk I spoke to this morning at Sera was so shocked and called it blasphemous. By the way, he is not the only person to have said that to me. I hope this helps explain it for you.

          • Tenor says:


            The emphasis on practicing the complete teachings of Buddha – as practiced at the great monastic university of Nalanda – including the practice of strict morality for Vinaya Sangha – – is the tradition of the Geluk lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. As posted above, the Geluk lineage was established as a reforming lineage in, that harkened back to Atisha and the Kadampa practitioners, in reaction to perceived degeneration in Vinaya practice, etc., in Tibet.

            As Atisha's Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment plainly states – and as Gelukpa practices till now – monastics are not allowed to practice with human consorts.

            Tantra is really for 'professional' practitioners although by attending empowerments, teachings and practicing, we may acquire imprints for future practice and the blessings of the lineage.

            According to Geluk teachers, on a very tiny minority of devotees who attend an empowerment by H.H. Dalai Lama actually 'receive the empowerment, because tmost simply are not 'qualified," i.e., capable of receiving the empowerment,. Nonetheless, many would happily acknowledge they experienced its blessings.

            For instance, one is not a Mahayana practitioner unless one has generated genuine Bodhicitta – but in order to generate Bodhicitta one must have generated 'renunciation'. You need a lot of Hearing (study of sutras and valid commentaries), Contemplation, Practice of what you are studying, and Meditation, etc . to generate Renunciation and even more for Bodhicitta.

            The requirement to practice the HYT Completion stage is successful accomplishment of the Generation Stage, the mark of which, briefly, is that one can hold a vivid mental image of the complete deity mandala in unwavering single pointed meditative focus for four hours straight.. This is what I meant about tantra being for professionals. Geluk lamas tell stories of misguided Tantric College monks who – lacking Bodhicitta — get themselves and others into terrible messes by visualizing themselves as, e.g., wrathful deities.

            Fortunately, we can make huge changes in our mentality and happiness and benefit others, if we begin practicing Buddhism from the beginning, i.e., the Lam Rim. However, for Americans, the structure of the Lam Rim is a bit out of order according to H.H. Dalai Lama: westerners should not be taught the guru devotion of tantra as a beginning subject! In the context of a monastery or completely Buddhist culture, reliance on the guru is not so easily misunderstood.

            Kagyu, Sakya and Geluk tantra cycles are quite similar, but they have different Tibetan lineages and, for some tantras, their Indian lineages vary also (i.e., different Indian saints conferred empowerments of the same tantra on different Tibetans who established different tantric lineages). Naturally, over time some more, relatively minor differences, developed.

            The HYT those three schools follow are known as New Translation School tantras. The oldest Tibetan Buddhist School, tNyingma, practice Old Translation School tantras from India and some Tibetan lineage practices. (this is a rough overview)

          • honestdboy says:

            No, Kalu Rinpoche is a leader of Shangpa Kagyu, not Karma Kagyu:

  20. ConcernedCitizen says:

    Not sure if this has been posted here yet but it’s from 2006:

  21. ekanthomason says:

    Yesterday, I called the office of Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa. He was appointed by the Dalai Lama on November 12, 1996, as the honorable Abbot of the Gyumed Tantric College, where he served for three years. Khensur means retired abbot. It is one of the highest titles one can earn in the Tibetan system. I had heard rumors that Khensur Rinpoche had spoken to Geshe Michael regarding his vows and robes. I called his office to see if it was true. They asked who I was and what my motivation was. I told them I had studied tantra at Diamond Mountain University. My motivation was to know the truth and share it with anyone who might benefit from it, so they could make informed decisions. I spoke with two geshes and then they said they would call me right back. These are my recollections of our conversation.

    1. Did Jetsongkapa engage in consort practice?

    Jetsongkapa never engaged in consort practice. His biography is clear that he was ABSOLUTELY CELIBATE. There are two ideas about when Jetsongkapa became enlightened. One is, he was enlightened before he took his human birth in 1357. The other says that he waited until he was in the bardo before attaining enlightenment. There is no one that says he became enlightened during his lifetime. Therefore, there was no need for this practice.

    2. Was Geshe Michael asked to give up his robes?

    In 2005, Kenshur Rinpoche came to Arizona and said to Michael Roach, “If you take a wife, you don’t have vows and you should not wear robes.” “If you still have vows, you should cut your hair.” We know now that Michael Roach had a wife and we also know that he has not cut his hair.

    3. So, if we can turn substances into nectar in ritual, can sex be transformed into a divine act…(I was cut off before finishing the sentence). NO! (very strong). Sex is a root downfall and cannot be repaired. Substances are a lesser vow and can be mended.

    So if a monk partakes of alcohol that has been transformed into nectar as part of a sacred ritual, then the monk must confess this. A minor vow has been broken but the vows can be restored. If a monk engages in sexual/consort activities, then a root downfall vow has been broken. It cannot be repaired. I remember hearing MR say in tantra class, “Practicing with a partner not sex, it is something else because it is transformed.” A monk or nun in the Gelukpa tradition engaging in such acts no longer has the right to wear robes no matter how "good their concentration is."

    Everywhere I turn, except one place, I hear the same things from the ordained of the Gelugpa tradition, regardless of their ranking. It is very amazing to me that they are so united. The checks and balances in this tradition really seem to work.

    • Cyn says:


      In reading your posts I can tell how upset you are. I saw that you had planned to do the retreat, which is a huge commitment and also there must be some sort of selection process, and you would have had to be immensely committed to the community and also believe that this path is valid and truthful. You are assiduously seeking primary sources to pinpoint the differences between what GM taught and anecdotally implied and what the tradition sanctions.

      I was reading yesterday about the Siddha Yoga group, which, in the mid-90's, had a very similar soul-searching moment when a number of things were revealed in a New Yorker article. One of the things was that their founder (then dead), Swami Muktananda, was revealed to have been practicing tantra sex, possibly "left-handed tantra," on young women or even teen girls in the entourage. In various archived discussion forums, the same dismay/denial and reframing occurred as has here. People insisted it was entirely spiritual and sanctioned. The discussions go deep into the Hindu traditions and scriptures, and those turn out to be so entirely parallel (tantra reserved as a "fast-track" path to enlightenment, does it include actual partner practice?, three paths of tantra practice, did Krishnamurti himself, in his highest teachings, have a consort?) that I wondered if Krishna and Buddha, the core teachings, and the subsequent texts, weren't two cultural interpretations of the same source. (Sorry if that is utter blasphemy.)

      I also was dismayed to find that Zen master Seung Sahn also was discovered to have been having sex with women at his centers, which he framed as for the good of the tradition. That was disappointing, as I own several of his books and a friend I admire greatly recommends his interpretation of Buddhism.

      This brings up the distinction between the teacher and the teachings; does it matter if a monk violates his vows? Does it invalidate or taint the teaching? It also brings up — is it inevitable, in any religious community with a powerful male leader, that power eventually corrupts, and in a sadly tawdry way? And it also made me see how deeply indoctrinated the followers are, as they assiduously avoid the sin of thinking/speaking badly about the spiritual leader, and look for teachings or scriptures that sanction the behavior. These teachings are always the secret, highest ones, and it always turns out that the leader is so far on the path that the sexual misbehavior is somehow sacred and beyond the rational comprehension of the lowly followers. (This is the resolving-cognitive-dissonance activity Matthew writes about.)

      I have this strange feeling that GM might have seen himself as righting a wrong. In the Siddha Yoga case, as well as the stories of tantric abuse in Buddhist monasteries of yore, the consort is essentially violated, plundered for her energy without real consent or comprehension. I don't know how commonplace it was, but I think these are the situations GM refers to when he intimates this is widespread, but unacknowledged. It sounds to me like he did have some idea of equal empowerment in which the consort practice would be equally energy-enhancing and then also claimed publicly, instead of the woman being used as a vessel, in secret, and then denied. Instead, she was elevated to co-lama. In this way he might have seen himself as a reformer of an abusive, exploitative practice. He was saying, women can become enlightened this way, too.

      The problem, of course, was that he had I think both an imperfect understanding of the part his own desires and attachments played in driving this reinterpretation of doctrine and a real naivete that he was playing with fire and there would be unintended consequences. There appears to be a real, historically upheld reason that consort practice is forbidden. It leads to corruption, self-delusion, exploitation of power imbalances, and self-serving skewings of spiritual practice. However, it is the very fact that it is alluded to at all in the texts, that there does appear to be some sanctioning of it for very evolved practitioners, and that it is so secretive that no one will claim it, that leads to bizarre situations.

      I am wondering whether the all-too-human compilers and commentators of various Buddhist (and Hindu) schools did not (unconsciously, perhaps) introduce partner practice into tantra as a way to have their cake and eat it too. Sexual desire is very powerful. Why not co-opt it, make it all symbolic and about winds and channels and drops, and reserve it for the inner circle? Like, if you are really really advanced you get to finally have sex — although not of course commoners' sex. Cynical, perhaps, but, like all of the major religions/thought systems, this was a boys' club for many centuries. And what do boys want?

      • AnnetteVictoria says:

        Another great post, Cyn. Thank you for being willing to be politically incorrect. I, for one, appreciate it.

      • Sid says:

        wonderfully put Cyn, these are definite possibilities. This is the oldest trick in the book, has I just read in a book about Shaman in hunter gatherer societies. Often when a woman would go to a shaman with a particular problem, he would consult with the spirits, and then report to the woman; "The spirits say that your problem can be solved by having sex with a shaman" and of course he just happened to know one. Looks like the con still works.

        • kelly rigpa says:

          One of Sogyal Rinpoche's female victims said this exact thing, Sid! (The link of his predations mentioned is somewhere in this commenting.)

      • kelly rigpa says:

        Cyn-I did hear GMR say, at numerous times in tantra presentations at DM in '04, that one can certainly "have one's cake and eat it, too."

    • Tenor says:


      Thank you for this posting! You are very brave to look into the lies you were told by people you trusted and that you had accepted. Ethics are the foundation / the first practices [and the last] of Buddhism. Any Buddhist teachings grown on lies will bear bitter fruit.

      Many of your brothers and sisters at DM still cannot accept, or can only tentatively contemplate that they could possibly have been mistaken in placing devotional faith in RM/CM.

      If people are unable to grasp that they have been fooled by huge factual lies about the Fundamental Vehicle — and RM/CM's violations of those foundational practices of Buddhism, they are unlikely to be able to comprehend any presentation of the other gross distortions of their teachings.

      So exposing MR/CM deception re their marriage and the Vinaya vows and ordination is very important.

      Hopefully, your research report will help people open their eyes.

      Again, thank you for your struggle to find out the facts when – like other folks from DM or many people who have been conned – you could have let your ego win its natural struggle to defend the lies it was cfooled into believing. The ego really doesn't like admitting that it is wrong.

      • ekanthomason says:

        I posted part of the intro paragraph on my Facebook page. I just wanted to let you know that a monk posted a remark saying that he witnessed this event. " I was there when he did."


        • knittinginnc says:

          Could you clarify a bit. Do you mean the monk who commented on your post was there when Khensur Rinpoche spoke with MR about his vows and robes? Thank you.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Yes, that is what I mean. He was an eye witness to Khensur Rinpoche talking to MR about his vows and robes..

      • aguse says:

        get a life, stop speaking as though you are in some position of knowledge, and talk sensibly.

        • Fleurine says:

          Please try to be kind here for heaven's sakes 🙂
          The above post is 100% clear, righteous and sensible, in my opinion. If you disagree I invite you make an effort to elaborate your own opinion clear terms with illustrative examples.

          • aguse says:

            It's sensible to you because you cannot distinguish between hearsay and actual reality. To me, what Tenor wrote is ridiculous and almost entirely fabricated nonsense. For example Tenor speaks about DM/ACI people being unable to tell distorted teachings from real teachings, and that is what enabled them to be lied to by a "master conman".

            But, Tenor is a charlatan, a person that lies to your face. Tenor utters not a word about how that the vast majority of students at DM have studied with other prominent Lamas for many years, often a decade or longer, often side-by-side with attending DM classes. Does not tell you how many of the ordained people hanging around Michael Roach were ordained by other Lamas in other places and only later came to DM sangha. Tenor does not tell you that the ACI Courses were studied by 100,000s of people world-wide and were seen as an excellent source of dharma material by everyone for a decade, before the appearance of internet trolls attacking the Courses (attacking without reasoning, too).

            No, she doesn't tell you that. What she does do is lie about who can and cannot practice with consorts. What she tells you is lies about blind faith losers placing devotional faith and subsequently being taken advantage of. The only ones lying, here, now, are people like Tenor and their disgusting friends from like Khedrup, Phurba and Norbu.

          • Sid says:

            Aguse, I am sorry to say you are exhibiting a level of unhingement that seems very characteristic of the current crop of GM disciples. I personally have been getting a lot out of the postings by the people you call liars, they have actually been rekindling some of the spark I felt for the dharma pre GM.
            It is a sad fact that they are not alone in their condemnation of GM. Is there a credible Lama out there anywhere who will stand next to GM these days? None. No one will stand beside him except those acolytes whose emotional immaturity he has so expertly exploited. Including you. I know its' heartbreaking, but deal with it and move on for pittys sake.

          • aguse says:

            well, what can i say, i wish i was as unexploitable as you. hahaha, that's funny to think about 🙂

            that white sheep don't like to stand near black sheep is not a recent invention in human history Sid. i don't take it seriously, nor is GM looking for Lamas to "stand together with". however i am a bit more concerned with the one or two older students who have decided to speak negatively about GMR, since you really don't get to see that very often.

          • AnnetteVictoria says:

            "*get to* see that" — That's an interesting way of putting it. Care to elaborate?

            If you are who people think you are, aguse, then I am truly interested in your perspective because I've seen other comments of yours that make me think you have a more critical perspective than you're showing right now. I'm interested in the contradiction.

          • Fleurine says:

            Thanks for the response Aguse! Great hearing from you! i am sorry I think I missed your point entirely. If you could simplify it in politer language I might be more willing to try. I can see you are very upset about, though. Feel better. This is a wonderful place to vent BTW.

          • AnnetteVictoria says:

            "What she tells you is lies about blind faith losers placing devotional faith and subsequently being taken advantage of."

            No one is a loser here. This is not a game or a competition where some people win and others lose. Those of us who have placed devotional faith in a teacher and been subsequently taken advantage of have been sincere spiritual seekers, not "losers."

        • kelly rigpa says:

          Aguse-where were you in the room in 2004 when GMR told the tantra class that he was the "1st Arya Bodhisattva since Arya Nagarjuna."? I was over near the kitchen door…you won't find it on any recordings. Because GMR made sure all the electronic devices were turned-off for this astounding and historical revelation.

          • ekanthomason says:

            I remember getting that during my teaching in SLT shortly after that. I just set on the sofa and was so stunned I could not even think. Gradually, "How lucky we are. How special we are to be students of a teacher like that."

          • Tenor says:

            Tried to write something else yesterday but it got glitched. It's really great that you reported the exact mental response you had to MR's statement which shows how he baited the hook and most everyone took it – but to understand which precise 'human foible button' he was pushing is a wonderful insight. Perhaps, at some point other people who realize they were 'persuaded' can spend some time contemplating similar examples of the bait that drew them in, the human foible feelings and thoughts that responded; and write them down; and consider sharing them somewhere at some point if not here and now.

            Modern media and organizations of wealth and power unimaginable in my great grandparents' day are scientifically propagandizing, first, America and now the world, persuading people to believe things that are inimical to their interests and even long-term survival. So this is a project that benefits the individuals here, people who are seeking a spiritual path, the Buddhist community and the greater social welfare.

          • Tenor says:

            OMG. Somewhere years ago I'd heard/read that but it's so over the top couldn't absorb it.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Now he has people turn them off electronic devices when he talks about the Russian mafia and such, like he did during the recent Phoenix teachings, when the reporter asked him about 'blood diamonds'. What is that all about?

          • Tenor says:

            What? Is that still on line, did anyone catch it?

            Back when he started bragging about his diamond business, people didn't have much information about how terribly corrupt the trade is. Since then, DiCaprio starred in Blood Diamonds (haven't seen it) and a lot has been written. Aside from funding vicious neo-colonial wars in Africa, the diamond market is a classic monopoly con. In nature, diamonds are a dime-a-dozen, but their price is kept high by a ruthless monopoly that pumps up demand and limits supply. In conventional terms, trading this commodity does not appear to be "right livelihood".

          • ekanthomason says:

            You would have to talk to someone who was there. They stopped the recording. It was the first weekend of his teachings. MR opened a question and answer period, where anyone could ask anything except about the latest "scandal." Very rare form for him.
            I also vaguely remember electronics turned off at DM when he brought up the topic of Russian mafia too.
            But Why? That's my question. Why does he talk about it and why is it a big deal?

          • Tenor says:

            The Russian Mafia? Reminds me of a recent LaCarre novel.

      • Jack says:

        I think "brothers and sisters at DM" have not lost faith in the fearless (reckless?) leader MR, but they seem to have lost faith in CM, after she had a rude awakening and ran off in search of advice from a real lama, Lama Zopa. I do hope Lama Zopa can find time to help bring her back down to earth.

        By the way, you might not want to laugh about the knife accident. These things happen. I laughed about it and then one week later, my wife accidentally cut open my foot (drawing blood) while cutting some old skin and hard spots off my foot. I've been walking funny with a bandaged heel this week. I guees that's my bad karma.

        • Tenor says:

          Just last week, some people from DM spoke to me about their views of the tragedy, etc., [for less then 30 minutes] and one of them expressed very strong faith in CM while the other seemed to [silently] concur. Of course, there's no statistical survey data available. So far the related DM web pages and videos appear to indicate that everything is hunky-dory, except that some dark forces opposed to MR's ministries have manufactured some bad publicity.

          • Jack says:

            On one of the recent live ACI broadcasts, one of the longterm teachers (Mercedes) spoke of her decision not to have CM as one of her teachers. I guess that doesn't necessarily mean she disrespects her.

          • matthew says:

            Hi Jack: is this talk recorded somewhere, or do you have a URL for the reference?

          • Cyn says:

            All of the ACI Phoenix videos (and I am not sure the one referred to by Jack was posted after it was broadcast live) are slated to be removed tonight.

          • matthew says:

            It isn't listed there. Do we know why they are slated for removal?

          • Jane says:

            Maybe this; sorry I don't have time to listen to it today:

          • Tenor says:

            With a slow connection, only the first bit downloaded, in which Mercedes talks about how only one Arya appears in our world every 1,000 years or so [though lots were around at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha].

            She is repeating the sales pitch that Arya MR being born is the most important event in U.S. history since the Revolution (heard him make that analogy years ago on an MP3).

            This MR "tenet" contradicts basic Mahayana teachings that Buddhas and Arya Bodhisattvas are continually manifesting in all Six Realms of Samsara for the benefit of beings – even in the animal and hell realms. This was a personal comfort to me, after becoming Buddhist, since I was stuck in "a barbarian land" bereft of Dharma teachers.

            In the 1990's courses, MR would proclaim his Arya realization, denigrate the audience for being so-so kye ba) "ordinary beings" and then promise to take them with him to the Arya state.

            (1) How does ACI/DM rationalize that only one Arya exists in the world every 1,000 years while thousands / milloins of potential MR disciples can attain that state in this very life?

            (2) H.H. Dalai Lama doesn't brag about his realizations – yet even atheistic scientists are unexpectedly stunned by the power of his presence (Kundun).

            If MR is the first Arya in our world since Nagarjuna (circa 1st century BD), does that mean H.H. Dalai Lama (and Je Tsongkhapa, et al.) is not an Arya?

            Maybe MR got the idea of deceitfully limiting the 'supply' of Aryas available to benefit his followers from the monopolistic Blood Diamond trade?

          • ekanthomason says:

            Yes. He told our tantra class that all of us were going to incarnate on the planet Sirius next go around to help out that planet. He said, "Really, I'm serious." That was another one that went on my shelf.

            May 3, 2008
            Something historical is happening here and you’re at the center of it. There will be a windstorm; there will be some controversy also. In two weeks the New York Times will come out with a heavy article. You are affecting every part of the world. The world is your play ground. In your generation, you have to teach this whole planet. It’s almost too small for you. After that we go to Sirius. There’s no reason you’re not teaching in every country.

          • AnnetteVictoria says:

            Sirius is a star, not a planet. Hard to incarnate on a star…

          • Tenor says:

            Sounds pretty scary given Jim Jones and the poor Comet people in San Diego in the 1990's.

            And very, very – really 'high weirdness'. While Buddhism teachings fantastic cosmology, a lot of which is in accord with modern astronomy including innumerable planets where sentient beings reside so …

            Did the "prophesy" about the NYT' article refer to the big MR/CM article? [Don't remember the date of that]. Was the big windstorm only a metaphor?

            Did you watch the recent Pabongka teaching where he was reassuring the audience about the publicity storm and great things were going to happen later this year respecting his ministry on this planet? Well, it is 2012.

            Remember hearing him flattering the audience with their world ministry destiny on MP3s from the 2006 India teachings – never have heard about the "planet Sirius" prophecy before. Guess that means DM'ers don't have such a big stake in the environmental destruction of our little planet.

            Is there anything else still 'on your shelf?

          • ekanthomason says:

            I only heard him mention Sirius one other time but I can't find the transcript of it. I am sure there are other things on my shelf but something has to jog my memory to even bring them up.

            I had read and reread what he said about Sirius. It is a cult alert. Someone could write a very interesting paper about just that one paragraph. By analyzing each sentence, I could see how he puts the ideas together to make people feel important, soften the blow that the article would have and then distract them with a bigger idea. He used similar tactics recently in Phoenix.

            He was referring to May 15, 2008 New York Times. There used to be a beautiful companion photo essay attached to the article, but it is gone now.

      • kelly rigpa says:

        Especially yours, (ego) Tenor.

    • aguse says:

      "Yogis who have achieved a high level of the path and are fully qualified can engage in sexual activity, and a monastic with this ability can maintain all the precepts." -The Essential Dalai Lama: His Important Teachings By Dalai Lama. the same is stated in Lama Yeshe's book, as is a description on how consort practice is necessary for the final mental and physical transformations.

      Je Tsongkhapa had a secret biography.

      new rule on the internet: you are not allowed to speak unless you have a clue what you are talking about. sorry Tenor, you have to leave the internet.

    • Fleurine says:

      thank you for your hard work!

    • Khedrup says:

      Dear Ekan,
      Thanks for going to the trouble to research this. It can provide a lot of clarity for many people,and will be of benefit long into the future, when people need to make a decision about whether to take MR as a teacher.
      Even the quote by the detractor , from HHDL's book, states that it is yogis with high attainments. I don't think that people really understand what this means, and how high those attainments are. Do people really expect us to believe, after everything that has come to light, that MR has those high levels of attainment? Despite the letters and information from the office of HHDL and now from Gyudmed Khensur Rinpoche, who would continue to believe this charade that marrying Christie (while lying even to his students and press about it),telling people she was Vajrayogini, then expelling her from the retreat, is some sort of divine action?
      Only those who have completely invested their lives in this and are terrified to lose everything they have worked for. And these are really people worthy of compassion. Because with the best of intentions, they were deceived utterly and led down a mistaken path.

      • aguse says:

        The office's letter nor Khensur Rinpoche's statements imply that he does not have then necessary realizations.

        The reason they are not willing to say he does not have realizations is because they do not know, and moral people do not make crap up just because they do not know something. It's called intellectual honesty. It's called not engaging in gossip and harsh speech. If you so readily put down 100s of students just because you cannot stand being in a state of confusion, this does not speak well for the type of human you are. In reality, what are the chances that his students are "terrified of losing everything"? Nobody is losing anything, and nobody is on a wrong path. The "path" are you talking about is an internet caricature with no semblance to reality.

        • Ben says:

          Other than his assertions, is there any proof of his realizations? I've seen a lot of youtube videos of assholes claiming to be the reincarnation of Jesus or having access to spiritual knowledge that is hidden to everyone else or being able to talk to the dead, or many other claims which put them above everyone else. Is the only thing necessary for believing them that they haven't been proven wrong?

          I can't say he is or isn't but the burden of proof is on him. What I can say is that the decisions which led to Ian's death are an indication that he is not a nearly realized being and that the practices he teaches do not lead to the results he claims they do.

  22. A Nonny Mouse says:

    What I want to know is why this has taken so long to come out. I guess it must have been the "charisma" that snagged people. The massive hype that this group kicked up everywhere it went that promised the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and world messiah-hood for its leader. That, and the fact that few it seems checked out the goods with a Vajrayana 101 survey. This is understandable considering the appropriation of his Teacher's name and lineage, as well as significant advertising of his "Geshe" as tools for authentication. Let me add here that a Geshe degree legitimately earned or not is not necessarily a guarantee of Guru-or Buddhahood.

    Plenty of well-informed and serious people saw this coming from the early 90s and perhaps before, Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike. Some of them even tried to gently or fiercely question him and his students, but were instantly dismissed, silenced, spiritually bullied, or flattened by the newly converted (or re-connected) and by MR himself. Those people, often deeply concerned, committed practitioners themselves, were often seen as being jealous of MR's seeming overnight success. And that success was the main criterion for dismissing their concerns. But any good Buddhist knows: everything changes.

    There is no question that there was great promise there, and perhaps great expectations, and there is no question that MR has done many wonderful things (many of them, however, eroded by a manifest lack of quality control due to moving ahead at breakneck speed, as with ACIP data), but there were subtle and not-so-subtle early warning signs that those with enough discernment were able to detect easily. Those people of course would be relegated to the realm of not having the pure enough karma to be at MRs feet and/or to being jealous, or mere babies on the Dharma path. From another perspective some people say that something (in the realm of proliferating Dharma idea) is better than nothing. I have no way of verifying that.

    There also might be an element of racism in this whole story. Some westerners being modern or post-modern think they know more than the products of an ostensibly premodern society. The thing is westerners know more about some things and less about others. Too bad that the cultural divide was not taken seriously by either westerners or Tibetans in the transmission of Dharma to the west and was swept under the rug, as though ignoring it could make it vanish.

    This is partly attributable to the fact that since some Tibetans in positions of immense influence don't regard other modes of knowledge than those that are exclusively related to their understanding of the Dharma as relevant (His Holiness the Dalai Lama has tried to address that with his interest in and dialogue with science and scientists), their students, western or otherwise, adopt similar attitudes. Such has been the wholesale importation of Tibetan cultural biases alongside the truly liberative Dharma teachings of which the Tibetans naturally consider themselves the supreme and sanctioned purveyors.

  23. A Nonny Mouse says:

    There are some posters here who speak in an informed way about the authentic Tibetan traditions with an appropriate sense of gravity and decorum. What they don't seem to understand though is why even that authenticity that they are speaking on behalf of sometimes is based on or includes elements within the Tibetan traditions themselves that remain, unconsciously or consciously, questionable at best to many thoughtful westerners, such as, for example, the protector controversy, which is always brought up along with accusations of sectarianism. But counter-sectarianism can become sectarian too, and does. There are plenty of stories about a center of one lineage forbidding a member of another lineage from setting foot there to teach. This in the USA, mind you. And this sort of behavior has been rationalized and muffled in many Dharma centers for many years now. That's Dharma?

    What a menacing cloud to have to be subtly or overtly referent to; who's propitiating who for what; who's doing rituals against who or what; who's on which side, who's funding who, etc. It's no wonder that so many people are running to the Pali Canon to learn what the earliest extant texts say that the Buddha taught.

    All of that sort of talk and interlineal controversy (some call it Dharma combat; you can read more technical treatments about violence and Vajrayana in Stephen Jenkins' work) that no one here seems to want to dip into very deeply creates incredible suspicion, distrust; a palpable film of distasteful residue within and among so-called authentic Dharma practitioners/groups (and produces an allergy or fear toward Tibetan Buddhism in seekers not yet involved but very much inclined toward the universalist bodhicitta ethic) and raises serious questions about a number of issues.

    For example, seeing the vitriol among Tibetans themselves toward some Dalai Lama protesters, the spitting, cursing, and throwing things that was witnessed by many in NYC a few years ago, and likewise the untethered aggression and bullying on both sides that continues in India over that issue makes one wonder how any of that behavior fits with any of what the Buddha taught.

    What we see is a grotesque display of tribalism. Meanwhile, many monastics both Tibetan and western maintain startling attitudes of entitlement that make humility and real discipleship a long lost artifact in their trajectories. Instead of serving others, they expect to be served, like aristocrats in robes. The authentic masters of which I have met a few, are becoming more and more rare.

    And frankly, for most thinking, sensitive people, many of whom were first drawn to Tibetan Buddhism because they were inspired by the embodied and truly exemplary masters of bodhicitta and wisdom, all of this nonsense can be crazy-making.

    But people put allegiance ahead of what's true in many cases, often out of fear, or a need for belonging, or power. And once you are very far in you may see no way out for fear of Avici hell or out of fear of losing rank and status questionably acquired.

    This is truly sad, as evidenced by the hundreds of people who have left, or at least distanced themselves from a colorful variety of Dharma movements and been faced with picking up the pieces of their broken hearts and terrified minds, having groped for safe refuge in a burning world and found an insidious and often covert type of spiritual bullying that claims to be upholding nothing but the highest spiritual ideals.

  24. A Nonny Mouse says:

    More liberal Dharma groups that made a bigger effort to assimilate to the west and to the make-up of the western psyche have seemed to do better, in general, in spite of bumps along their own roads to expansion.

    People who adhere to many dysfunctional Dharma organizations are often guided by legitimate devotion to legitimate teachers and transformative practices, and also by the power of the teacher and the power they begin to feel when doing intense practices, and are told to "shelf it" until such time as their wisdom is sufficiently developed to better understand all the messier, disturbing, or less rational elements. Kim Knott's work on insider/outsider perspectives in religion, is worth noting, as well as many of the interviews on Buddhist Geeks that explore some of these themes and questions.


    Meanwhile, making references to heady literature and elaborate enlightenment maps presented in mythic terms seem ridiculous and disconnected from our current existential situation. Is this what the Buddha wanted for us?

    It seems a necessary consequence that the mission of really seeking the truth for oneself, based on one's carefully observed experience, which is what the Buddha invited us to do, often precludes the interests of maintaining any lineage, view, or doctrine, high and pure as all those may truly and legitimately be. But it takes immense courage, patience, and honesty to do that. We are often not willing to live by that degree of honesty. And we also do not need to throw the baby out with the bathwater do we? Nowhere have I seen more compelling literature on training the mind in compassion, for example. And yet it seems that access to these pure traditions is being restricted by a barbed-wire fence of increasing controversy, shamanic or ritual power struggles, and abuse, as well as by our own lack of interest in educating ourselves carefully, preferring instead the quick fix and the shallow and the unquestioning feel good of practicing to feel good.

    Without realizers forget about maintaining a tradition purely.

    The Triple Gem is supposed to be a safe refuge. Yet so many people in so many groups are feeling subtly ill at ease all the way to fundamentally unsafe because of so much madness held out as authentic Dharma.

    Once you belong to a group there is an implicit expectation to translate your involvement into unquestioning allegiance. Questioning outside of accepted parameters is implicitly regarded as a lack of faith. So there are in my view, cult-like elements in many "authentic" and "pure" Dharma groups. This raises very important questions about what it means to maintain the integrity and purity of a lineage.

    If we as individual practitioners confuse a pure practice with dogmatic, constricted, defensive, messianic, and/or fundamentalist attitudes (on top of whatever psychological wounding we bring to it from the start such as narcissistic tendencies, abandonment issues, etc), we are harming the very lineages we hope to maintain. If on the other hand people see us wherever we go and think of us: what a good, kind, respectful, ethical, responsible, easy going, unpretentious, person–then we are doing our job in upholding the purity of any authentic lineage. There is nothing sectarian in that. But my I have seen some incredible behavior among those who claim to be living according to lofty Mahayana values. What I have noticed also is that Vajrayana practices can exponentially magnify unconscious complexes in unseasoned practitioners, manifesting as grossly distorted behavior, such as emotional, verbal, and physical volatility, etc. Thankfully that is a developmental phase that qualified masters alone know how to help navigate, but it can wreak untold damage on oneself and others. A whole area that should be studied, carefully.

  25. A Nonny Mouse says:

    I once witnessed a senior western Dharma practitioner with much knowledge of Tibetan ream out a young man who had shown up at the Temple with a yellow shawl with red Sanskrit non-Buddhist mantras printed on it (that many yoga people wear). It was completely shocking. If this is the way a recognized senior western teacher believes the pure Dharma is to be upheld, all I can do is shake my head. No wonder there continues to be interreligious strife at all levels.

    People who ask questions about how things are done or understood within these traditions are often viewed with distrust, and relegated to the outside in one way or another, whether by shunning (yes some Tibetans and Tibetan imitators still like this one a lot; preferring it to the "negative karma" of discussions that could arouse more mental afflictions) or in other ways.

    If Buddhist followers cannot function reasonably in relation to the epistemic standards of the society within which they function, I don't see how that is going to help these lineages survive in the west, unless they become entirely closed systems, and whoever has taken a science 101 class knows that all closed systems die.

    The extremely precious and profound teachings of bodhicitta and emptiness need to be extricated from polarized attitudes if they are to yield the benefit that they promise practitioners and all sentient beings. I am therefore suspicious of teachers who, regardless of the accepted histories/stories, pathologize other lineages or their leaders or an individual's need to deeply question, regardless of the exalted and /or recognized spiritual status of the teacher.

    My most inspiring teachers have been decidedly practical, down to earth, broad-minded, curious, deeply sensitive to individuals' personal situations/problems/resources (profoundly considerate), unpretentious, devoid of self-aggrandizement, extremely respectful, entirely uninterested in commodifying themselves or the Dharma, or in superstitious interpretations of anything. They do exist, dear people. But they are indeed rare. If the Tony Robbins style you find to be a more skillful means, then first check the results. But in Tony Robbins defense, he has never used religion or spiritual technologies, or claims to enlightenment to market himself or his ideas.

    Once you are polarized strongly in any direction, you have lost the very foundation of Buddhist practice everywhere mentioned in the early canonical (Pali) literature: mindfulness. Mindfulness is intended to develop a very stable experiential, embodied equanimity (not a belief) which forms a proper foundation for the development of authentic conventional and ultimate bodhicitta.

    If the mindfulness lineages belonging to the southern schools etc. had been practiced to perfection in Tibet I don't see how we could be witnessing many of these issues today. Equanimity is not an intellectual game. It has to be viscerally realized, that is, one has to understand the relationship among the 5 heaps and understand deeply the 12 links. Without first establishing equanimity experientially within the body-mind complex of a practitioner, advocating for renunciation, bodhicitta, and correct view amounts to mere doctrinal allegiance, to say nothing of attempting a Vajrayana practice without it.

  26. ConcernedCitizen says:

    Rumors of sexual misconduct and other crazy drama from a Diamon Mountain student in 2006:

  27. Sam says:

    As a complete outsider … I do feel sorry for those who were or still are duped by MR…
    I don't like to talk bad about any one, but I do feel that if people with authority and credibility in the West and East Buddhist ¨scene¨ don't take care of this ¨scandal¨properly, if they just remain silent, it will damaged the Dharma as a whole.
    The Truth must be spoken loudly.

  28. Jane says:

    I think what aguse is trying to say is that what you read on these kinds of forums should be taken with a grain (shaker?) of salt–especially on sites like e-sangha, phalyul (which would make Penor Rinpoche vomit), and elephantjournal, which don't seem to have moderators. does have a moderator who sometimes warns people to tone it down or else…

    • aguse says:

      not just for forums but also the articles when and if articles are made up mostly of lies, uncontrolled opinion, and promoting division by maligning sects against each other.

      • Tummo says:

        And then the follow up gossip sections of said articles. People keep calling for GM defenders to "come out and open up" and when they do, they get attacked. The 5or 6 people who are the main contributers of this gossip section Dont want to hear both sides, they want other GM people to join in their witch hunt, and get frustrated when they dont.

        • Fleurine says:

          This forum has over 2500 posts largely because people are upset and scared by the bizarre death of a 39 year old Stanford- educated man expelled from a cult-like organization in thr desert in Arizona, IMHO. People want more information which is not forthcoming. It is not deeper than that, and has almost nothing to do with Tibetan Buddhism.

  29. Khedrup says:

    The Secret Biography of Lama Tsongkhapa
    Is available at this link…/59-song-of-the-mystic-experiences-of-lama-..
    If you have trouble finding it just google Tsongkhapa Secret Biography. It was written by Jamyang Tashi Palden.
    I read through it. It talks about LTK's practice of the 35 Confession Buddhas, his direct visions of various tantric deities, and dakinis singing vajra songs to him. Also his visions of various Nalanda scholars, and great Siddhas such as Tilopa etc.
    Nowhere does it mention entering into union with a consort.
    I also asked my teacher, a Lharampa geshe and graduate of the tantric college, and he has never heard of Lama Tsongkhapa entering into union with an actual consort. Like many great teachers, he generated as a deity with a visualized consort when he did his sadhanas. Not living female being. A visualized being.
    Perhaps in one of his previous lives, when he was not a monk? Honestly I have looked in many places, Tibetan and English texts, and asked me teachers. No one has heard of this.

    • ekanthomason says:

      Khedrup – Thank you for the research. One more misconception corrected.

      • aguse says:

        good luck with your google searches and trying to understand texts, particular poems, without commentaries. ekan…wake up. although i suppose, you were trying to learn madhyamaka dependent origination without first studying the lower schools, you were bound to fail. imagine that…learning about the lower schools of karma (and being surprised by them no less!!) and dependent origination AFTER taking initiation. what were you doing while studying the ACI Courses? taking a nap?

        Lama Thubten Yeshe (Introduction to Tantra, 147) wrote:
        "There is a certain point in the mastery of the completion stage where physically embracing a consort is necessary…"

        Je Tsong Khapa who founded the Gelugpas, agreed that to attain Buddha-hood in one lifetime, it is necessary to use an actual consort (karma mudra) saying,
        "A female companion is the basis of accomplishment of liberation."

        That is, in order to generate an illusory body as that of a particular deity with all the qualities of existence, another person must interact with it.

        The Dalai Lama said he would not reach enlightenment in this lifetime because he did not have a consort.

        The Dalai Lama also said that many within Buddhist schools believe that the Shakyamuni became enlightenment with a consort under the Bodhi Tree and that his was edited out in many iconographies and written accounts.

        It is generally understood in the tantric tradition, that it is not possible to bring all five winds into the central channel at the same time unless one performs karmamudra. The yogi will do the practice at an advanced stage. Milarepa did karmamudra with dakinis. The source for the oral instructions on the completion stage of the Kalachakra Tantra by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey of the Gelugpa. I've also heard this from the Drikung Kagyu lamas. In some lineages an advanced yogi who is a monk will take a consort and it is not seen as violating vows, because this is what the Buddha said to do as part of the tantric method.

        In Dzogchen and essence mahamudra, karmamudra is not important, and works with different channels.

        From The Essential Dalai Lama: His Important Teachings by Dalai Lama:
        "Yogis who have achieved a high level of the path and are fully qualified can engage in sexual activity, and a monastic with this ability can maintain all the precepts."

        • ekanthomason says:

          Repeat posts:
          Regarding Serkong Rinpoche, “And in the history of the Gelug lineage, he is the only Lama that the Dalai Lama has ever advised to give his robes back.” The message is very clear to me for the first time. Monks of the Gelugpa tradition are not to engage with a physical consort. Michael Roach's robes and consort practice are completely incompatible with one another.

          Jetsongkapa never engaged in consort practice. His biography is clear that he was ABSOLUTELY CELIBATE. There are two ideas about when Jetsongkapa became enlightened. One is, he was enlightened before he took his human birth in 1357. The other says that he waited until he was in the bardo before attaining enlightenment. There is no one that says he became enlightened during his lifetime. Therefore, there was no need for this practice.

          • Tenor says:

            Aguse is able to express his mentality and point of view very effectively, and serves as an eloquent spokesperson for MR/DM/ACI.

        • Zirconia says:

          Aguse lifted the whole post without attribution http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gurus.blogsp

      • aguse says:

        ps. you seem incapable of working out even whether Serkong Rinpoche was a monk when he had a consort. it is common knowledge that he was, that was the whole "controversy".

  30. aguse says:

    you and Fleurine are the disgrace.

  31. Zirconia says:

    Same video at 1:59 … and those teachers sometimes contradict each other which drives you crazy your head splits open and stuff starts to leak out, you know? you go to one teacher in the monastery and he says you should never do this and then you go to the other teacher and he says you must do this, you know. And then you go like crazy you feel like your head is going to explode.

    2 of your dearest teachers are telling you to do opposite things, then in our tradition, the student is required to decide which is correct by examining which is more helpful for other beings. This lama told me I should do yoga, this other lama told me I should never do yoga. This lama ordered me to have a spiritual partner, this other lama told me I can't have a spirtual partner, what am I sup… [end of recording]

    Under every video at now has "Note: this broadcast will be deleted tonight."

  32. Tummo says:

    To Repeat Aguse without having it lost in a thread.
    Lama Thubten Yeshe (Introduction to Tantra, 147) wrote:
    "There is a certain point in the mastery of the completion stage where physically embracing a consort is necessary…"

    Je Tsong Khapa who founded the Gelugpas, agreed that to attain Buddha-hood in one lifetime, it is necessary to use an actual consort (karma mudra) saying,
    "A female companion is the basis of accomplishment of liberation."

    That is, in order to generate an illusory body as that of a particular deity with all the qualities of existence, another person must interact with it.

    The Dalai Lama said he would not reach enlightenment in this lifetime because he did not have a consort.

    The Dalai Lama also said that many within Buddhist schools believe that the Shakyamuni became enlightenment with a consort under the Bodhi Tree and that his was edited out in many iconographies and written accounts.

    It is generally understood in the tantric tradition, that it is not possible to bring all five winds into the central channel at the same time unless one performs karmamudra. The yogi will do the practice at an advanced stage. Milarepa did karmamudra with dakinis. The source for the oral instructions on the completion stage of the Kalachakra Tantra by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey of the Gelugpa. I've also heard this from the Drikung Kagyu lamas. In some lineages an advanced yogi who is a monk will take a consort and it is not seen as violating vows, because this is what the Buddha said to do as part of the tantric method.

    In Dzogchen and essence mahamudra, karmamudra is not important, and works with different channels.

    From The Essential Dalai Lama: His Important Teachings by Dalai Lama:
    "Yogis who have achieved a high level of the path and are fully qualified can engage in sexual activity, and a monastic with this ability can maintain all the precepts."

    • Aguse is a Goose says:

      Aguse – How do you know roach is at that level of realization? According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche if roach has signs of realization he should manifest them publicly! Also Roach being banned from teaching at all Lama Zopa Rinpoche Dharma centers doesn’t bode well with Roach’s credibility! – We need not mention roach’s orgies with 4 female disciples (Oh I get it Aguse Roach is a Mahasiddha) being banned from teaching at Dharamshala by his Holiness the Dalai Lama (Never the less Roach still went to Dharamshala to "teach" and even bribed a Monk to steal blessing water from his Holiness private quarters claiming it was Yamantaka water! (Oh I get it Aguse this was all Roach’s “Wisdom Display”) – Aguse go back to defending Roach at that ‘s what you do well!!!

      • aguse says:

        GMR did not bribe the monk as you said he did, the monk brought water and GMR was even hesitant to believe that they were what the monk claimed they were, and said so openly to the audience. this was easily discernible in the audio.

        regarding popularity pageantry and public displays, we'll see what happens. but really your dharma studies should consist of more than just following around whoevers in fashion, and disregarding their explanations of renunciation, bodhichitta and emptiness just due to hearsay. if you want to learn logic, study ACI 13. if you want to learn pramana, study ACI 2 and 4. if you want to study chittamattra, study ACI 15. if you want to hear an excellent presentation of guide to a bodhisattva's way of life, study ACI 10, 11 ,12.

      • svan says:

        Special siddhi displays aside, wouldn't an 8th level Bodhisattva who has perceived emptiness directly have found a way to overcome simple jealousy?

        • cloverleaf says:


          "Special siddhi displays aside, wouldn't an 8th level Bodhisattva who has perceived emptiness directly have found a way to overcome simple jealousy?"

          He's teaching a way to overcome jealousy or any other affliction, in the link you post.

          Admitting one once had a human fault is not indicative to me that the same person has not overcome said fault. To me it sounded as if he was in touch with parts of himself that he didn't like or wanted to change and had found a way to overcome it and was trying to teach others whatever effective way he found. He overcame it to some extent at least……Ian was not banished from the group until his actions– Ian and Christie's action's– forced the issue. He couldn't have been too jealous.

          In fact, in my experience, it's the fault(s) a person doesn't admit to or isn't aware of that are the most troublesome. Wouldn't you agree?

          • krigor says:

            So "one once" in this case would refer to the time frame within his claiming to be an 8th level Bodhisattva (this lifetime) — the time period when his wife left him for another man. Until DM releases the transcript of the GR teachings, the greater population can't analyze LC's words. What are they so afraid of?

          • cloverleaf says:


            No time frame was given in the snippet. I said "one once" deliberately– meaning any person, not just GMR. My remark was meant to broaden the palate, not speak about him directly.

            I can't speak to the realizations of any other being, and I won't.

            "Until DM releases the transcript of the GR teachings, the greater population can't analyze LC's words. What are they so afraid of? "

            So….are you saying that whether or not you believe MR to be an 8th level Bodhisattva is going to depend entirely (at this moment, including any findings on the matter you might already have) on the GR teachings given by his ex-wife? As in, what LC said there (or didn't) is going be the deciding factor, no matter what, on whether or not you believe GMR to be an 8th Level Bodhisattva?

            Couldn't they be protecting her? Or maybe even legally bound to not release them? Or, maybe, protecting the Dharma? I have no idea, really…..I just think fear is only one of a myriad of reasons for not releasing them.

          • krigor says:

            Just saying that the "fault" of jealousy and his claims of realization exist in the same time frame.

            Banishment — release the transcripts so that the larger population can analyze LC's words that led up to the banishment.

            And yes, fear could be only one of the reasons.

          • svan says:


            I got the impression he was speaking about his own current affliction with jealousy. At the beginning he says, "we are going to work with you one on one to identify your worst negative emotion, mine is jealousy, okay." That sounds like the present tense to me. Then, at the end he says, "by the time you finish with us, you will be free of your worst negative emotion… I probably won't have jealousy any more and we'll basically be in nirvana." This implies that he currently has jealousy that he wants to get rid of – and this struck me as an odd thing for any advanced practitioner, let alone an 8th level Bodhisattva, to admit *in the present tense*. I didn't hear him say that he used to struggle with it or that he "found a way to overcome it". It appears to me that he is still working very hard to overcome it. (By the way, this video was sent out at the end of Feb, just a few weeks after the controversial GRT). Yes, you'd think he'd be over any jealousy by now, having to work through the whole "giving your spiritual partner up to a younger, more handsome man" thing. You don't think that jealousy could have been a factor in the banishment, but I do. You don't have to agree with me, it's just an opinion based on my experience with jealous types…

            I do agree with you that not admitting the truth can be most troublesome.

          • cloverleaf says:


            I do agree that jealousy could have been a factor in the banishment…..but I don't think it was. If LC publicly admitted to stabbing Ian in that teaching, which by all accounts she did, MR and the Board would have no legal choice other than expulsion to protect themselves from any liability…, I guess my opinion is even if MR was jealous, this particular action doesn't speak to that for me. In fact, I can't find one thing that does speak to MR being jealous of the couple.

            I wasn't trying to argue, and I'm sorry if that's how it came across.

            I just 'read' the tape a bit differently than you did. He did say, in the present tense, that maybe he would be rid of his own jealousy…..but once an affliction always an affliction, in my opinion– kind of like an addiction. I heard it as more of him trying to relate to his target audience; it was after all an advertisement. It's just my opinion and I'm not looking for agreement, just understanding that either point of view is not the only way to see it.

        • Tenor says:

          This is definitely a Top Ten MR video.

          Notice that he makes a mockery of the Buddhist path to Self-Liberation/Nirvana, i.e., he is selling the attendance at his course and a vacation at a Yoga Resort in the Bahamas as part of the path to Cessation and Nirvana!

          Is that the same Bahama Yoga Resort that CM reputedly took refuge in after her husband died?

          • svan says:

            yes, Tenor. They taught there together a number of times.

          • aguse says:

            Tenor is so glad and beaming at the death of Ian.
            she's been so lonely since diamond-cutter was shut down.

          • svan says:

            aguse, delight in another's death is an ugly thing to accuse anyone of – just imagine if one of us had suggested that MR might be dancing on the grave of the man who made him a cuckold? Let's agree to not go down that road, okay?

          • Fleurime says:

            Thank you for that!

      • Tenor says:

        The Gyuto monastery monk was a close relative of MR's Sera Mey Geshe mentor (forget his name, but he's been to DM) and that monk was very instrumental in trying to organize MR's 'teachings' in McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala.

        As described by H.H. Dalai Lama's Private Office (and posted on, when the monk was asked about his appearance at MR's teaching evening, the monk proved a loyal MR minion and lied, saying he had not been there! Fortunately, someone who been there took photos of him and had given them to His Holiness Office. The monk confessed when confronted with his own photo.

        He clarified that the water was not from H.H. Dalai Lama's private Yamantaka retreat as MR said but from the public White Tara Jenang at the close of His Holiness' teachings.

        If you listen to MR on the evening talking about this monk and the gifts he brought – with open eyes, after reading His Holiness' Private Office statement – it truly displays MR's skilled use of language to instill in his followers completely false lies.

        • aguse says:

          well Tenor now you are just openly lying against existing audio.

          yes, there used to be a clip on diamond-cutter.
          of course, the audio was very brief and clipped to not include the part where GMR is very suspicious of the monk and openly says so about his gifts.

      • Tenor says:


        Actually, MR did not go to Dharamsala. We went to a "suburb" of the next large town, Palampur, to the east of Dharamsala. He is bold, but not that bold.

        Some of what you mention is clearly hearsay. However, I am a witness to the incident, etc., regarding MR and the Gyuto Monk's 'gifts.'

        • Tenor says:

          "We went" of course should be "He went"

        • Aguse is a Goose says:

          Thank you for the clarification. Unfortunately Tenor Roach’s so called Dharma Juggernaut will only be hobbled for a few years at best. I predicate after the so called newly hatched baby Roachettes jettison from their 3 year retreat Yurt Nests Roach will soar even higher in the Dharma Dollars Market selling some new and improved Dharma Moonshine! Christie McNally will also be back on the Dharma Money Train! – It’s all they know! – I have the feeling McNally will not release a tell all book because she will have admit she is not a realized being and/or face lawsuits from Roach. As far as I know there is no authentic Lineage in Tibetan Buddhism who recognizes Christie McNally as a Lama only from the Roach Fantasy Lineage. Christie McNally should also be put under the spot light and not just Roach for this disaster.

          • Tenor says:


            If history is a guide, your forecast may well be accurate. To repeat, con artists are a dime a dozen – and the people who run Wall Street are on our generation's top 10 list. Yet, to use as con-bait, the precious Dharma passed down in a lineage from the great Nalanda back to Shakyanumi Buddha, and see your 'suckers' as people who want to learn to practice virtue, learn to develop minds of Equanimity and Great Compassion, etc., is extremely cruel. This con is an attack on the people who fall for it, on spiritual seekers of the future who might have benefited from Dharma and on the preservation of Dharma in our world.

            Since our motive is to rescue people and post warning signs, we should try not to be discourage by the storm forecasts, but continue to send out as many lifeboats as we can muster.

            Near the end of the MR's India tour debacle — after attending H.H. Dalai Lama's teachings and being confronted with factual evidence that should have set off clanging alarms — the DM students I met — who were young, bright eyed, bushy tailed, lovely and enthusiastically enlisted in a project to build a Dharma pure land in the desert — had their eyes tightly wide shut.

            Yet on this forum, people have said that many (an indeterminate number) of people did break off from MR/CM as a result of that 2006 trip and the limited publicity concerning it on the web.

          • krigor says:

            Yes. Thank you, this forum will be of much help to many people, there is a lot of info to sift through, but the info is there, in a way it was not there before — from people speaking from their experience and investigation.

          • aguse says:

            once again Tenor believes they stand above the entire group of people she is putting down. GMR is the great conman, the 100 sitting in the crowd listening to him are the people with "eyes tightly shut", and she sits above in her croft busily discerning.

            and her discernment is never wrong, GMR is certainly conning people with free classes and giving up his body with tireless work, in addition to the millions of dollars and estates he has happily donated. sorry Tenor, i don't know of a single person who left after India 2006. perhaps you would like to cite some examples? although it seems like an earth-shattering thing for you, it was a minor teaching event for most people. GMR now speaks to 10,000s of people each year all over the world teaching them karma and emptiness, and 2006 is almost a memory that no longer exists for anyone. probably you should try to find the full audio where GMR says that he doubts that the gifts are what the monk presenting them says they were.

          • Tenor says:

            Maybe now that the Love Triangle is gone – and CM has seen how precarious her career is without RM, maybe they can manufacture and sell a new product line based on their getting back together?

          • aguse says:

            product? you seem completely clueless.

          • Sid says:

            Unfortunately you may be right about Christie returning. The same thing happened to Ora when she tried to flee, only to return to the fold as part of the dakini squad. Her reasoning? "life on the outside is boring"

          • Cyn says:

            Ora is a very interesting person to me. I read her biography, and she has impeccable academic credentials and must be very bright and perceptive. Although she was not named, I extrapolated that she must have been the person from the 2000-2003 retreat who was either "sent out" on a special spiritual mission, or who fled from something she had not signed up for. And yet I noticed she now is the executive director of the Knowledge Base, the umbrella organization for ACIP. That for me cast doubt on the allegations about the earlier retreat (except for the piece where Christie and MR lived together, which was publicly acknowledged at the end of the retreat), which I had found highly credible.

    • Zirconia says:

      Aguse lifted the whole post from http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gurus.blogsp… The author of that site copies passages from various sources to suggest that Tibetan Buddhism is degenerate/preoccupied with sex.

      • aguse says:

        no, i didn't. if you use your pathetic mind for a moment, you would understand that i am a tibetan buddhist and suggesting "that Tibetan Buddhism is degenerate/preoccupied with sex" is not my favor.

        • Zirconia says:

          That's what happens when you plagiarized (how Buddhist) and didn't even bother to check what the original author had intended to say.

        • Truth Patrol says:

          I, for one, do not believe you, aguse. It appears that you lifted the exact selections from the blog, as Zirconia suggests, in the same order they appear on the violated page.

  33. ekanthomason says:

    Aguse said, "you can be married and still keep your ordination vows, you dope. a marriage is just a legal agreement and an additional set of vows."

    If "you can be married and still keep your ordination vows", why did MR/C lie and deceive so many people for so many years about their marital status?
    Why did Christie plead with us at the end of their relationship to understand that she did not want to be perceived as a consort any more? It was so unfair to her.

    • knittinginnc says:

      Did she give any reasons as to why she did not want to be perceived as a consort? Did she say it was unfair to her to be viewed this way, and if so why?

    • Ben says:

      "Why did Christie plead with us at the end of their relationship to understand that she did not want to be perceived as a consort any more? It was so unfair to her."

      Is this in writing or video or did it occur at one of her teachings?

      After breaking up with GMR, she really couldn't be perceived of as a consort anymore. It was either being perceived as a lama in her own right or just some other asshole. Did she say which she preferred?

      • ekanthomason says:

        It was the only time I remember any mention of their relationship from either of them as it was falling apart. It was in tantra and she was sitting next to MR. It was very heart wrenching for me to hear her say these words. My memory of her words, "I don't want to be perceived as a concort. You can understand that can't you?" long pause and looking around the room.
        The perception of concort status when one is in fact married is a deception. MR said, to give a false impression to someone is the same as a lie.

        • aguse says:

          again, what is the deception? a wife can be a consort, so can a husband. so can someone you are not married to. what in the f*** are you talking about?

          • krigor says:

            The deception is in lying about the fact that they were married.

          • aguse says:

            where did they lie about being married?

          • ekanthomason says:

            Lying by omission
            Also known as a continuing misrepresentation, a lie by omission occurs when an important fact is left out in order to foster a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. When the seller of a car declares it has been serviced regularly but does not tell that a fault was reported at the last service, the seller lies by omission.

            Did you know they were married? Did you tell anyone? Did you feel you were keeping a confidence by not telling? Did their families know they were married?

            A friend told me that Jigme, his close attendant, was surprised to know they were married.

          • Tenor says:

            There is a thread – or sub-thread where someone, maybe Zirconium, posted excerpts from a 2003 Interview with Mr. and Mrs. Roach wherein they were discussing their jewelry and the rings they'd given each other that they happened to be wearing on the left finger that generally signifies engagement and marriage. Try to find it and re-post it here because the interviewer explicitly asked if they'd had a ceremony which they both deny.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Easter 2003 Quiet Retreat Interview
            Lying by Omission:

            Q: And then the rings. I mean did you guys actually have like a ceremony?

            GMR: We’re not married in that way. It’s not … I’m Vajrayogini’s disciple, and I wear her ring.

            C: No, no, I’m Vajrayogini’s disciple and I wear her ring. (laughs)

            GMR: And I guess it’s only coincidence, right, that the wedding finger is the finger that is sacred to Vajrayogini. So is it possible that every person in the world who wears a wedding ring on their third finger is somehow, that that custom has spread in our world due to Vajrayogini’s direct influence? I don’t know.

            Q: That’s a nice thought. So you guys didn’t do any special trading of rings?

            GMR: Oh we made a beautiful ceremony of it. And the rings were made by a friend of mine who’s a very master jeweler from, he’s Yemenese, a Yemenite Jew, who’s a master handcraftsman. And we put a diamond in them to remember emptiness, and they’re Irish design. So it was to remember.

            Aguse – Please comment on my questions. I am interested in your answers.

            Did you know they were married? Did you tell anyone? Did you feel you were keeping a confidence by not telling? Did their families know they were married?

          • Zirconia says:

            Lying by denial: "We’re not married in that way"

          • aguse says:

            i don't care about their marriage.

            contrary to Tenor stating that "the interviewer explicitly asked if they'd had a ceremony which they both deny", the actual interview states "oh we made a beautiful ceremony of it".

            you will have to figure out when the interview was taken an when they were married. were they married during the retreat? prior to retreat? i mean, unless you are in the business of just making shit up, then just carry on. they have no obligation to speak to you let alone inform you whether they are married or not

          • Zirconia says:

            married 1998, interviewed 2003, divorced 2010, outed 2012

          • Ben says:

            I don't want to be a dick, but it seems you are switching from, "there was no deception about the marriage" to "who cares about the marriage" and "they have no responsibility to tell you they are legally married".

            I agree that they neither have nor had any responsibility to go public with the fact that they were married. But by not doing so and by denying being married when asked, they were being deceptive.

            It can be said that they had very good reasons for being deceptive – the feelings of the families, the faith of the students, whatever you want to bring up, but all that goes against what I was taught at DM. What I was taught was that virtuous actions lead to pleasant experiences in the future and if it seems that a non-virtuous action (like lying) caused something good to happen, that was an incorrect perception because it couldn't happen. The example was that if the nazis came and asked you if there were Jews hidden in the house, the outcome didn't hinge on whether you lied or told the truth but rather hinged on something that happened far in the past. Therefore, to ensure good events in the future, you should tell the truth and always tell the truth.

          • aguse says:

            they have no responsibility to tell you they are legally married.

  34. Tenor says:

    Now for some sweet news about a genuine American Geshe and Rato Monastery [where Roach is so proud to have debated]:

    Dalai Lama Appoints Ven. Nicholas Vreeland as Abbot of Rato Monastery in India —
    First Time Westerner Becomes Head of a Tibetan Monastery

    New York City — The Tibet Center is proud to announce that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has appointed its Director, the Venerable Nicholas (“Nicky”) Vreeland, as the new Abbot of Rato Monastery, which is based in India. This is a historic moment; this is the first time that a Westerner has been appointed as abbot of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.
    During the investiture in Long Beach California on April 20, 2012, the Dalai La-ma stated, “Your special duty (is) to bridge Tibetan tradition and Western world.” The Dalai Lama was in California giving teachings and public lectures.
    On May 10, The Tibet Center will host a reception in New York City to celebrate this appointment. On July 6, Vreeland will be officially enthroned at Rato Monastery in India as the new abbot.

    As he has done for many years, Vreeland will continue to split his time between The Tibet Center in New York and the monastery in India. The original Rato Monastery, located on the outskirts of Lhasa, Tibet, was established by Je Tong Khapa in the 14th Century to preserve the teachings on Buddhist logic. By 1959, Rato had over 500 monks in residence, with scholars from all the great monastic universities of Tibet converging there every year for a month of intense philosophical and logical study and debate.

    In 1983, Rato was reestablished in a Tibetan refugee settlement in the south Indian state of Karnataka, where two years later Vreeland became a monk and began his monastic studies. He sat for his Geshe degree (Doctorate of Philosophy) in 1998, after which he returned to New York to assume duties as the Director of The Tibet Center —Kunkhyab Thardo Ling — where he had first begun his studies of Buddhism with the Center’s founder, the Reverend Khyongla Rato Rinpoche in 1977.
    The Tibet Center has been a co-host with the Gere Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits to New York a number of times, including two public talks in Central Park and teachings at Radio City Music Hall. Vreeland has edited the New York Times bestseller, An Open Heart, and the recent, A Profound Mind, both authored by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
    Though there are well over a thousand Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Rato Mon-astery is one of only a dozen important Tibetan Government monasteries under the Dalai Lama’s patronage. Today there are approximately 100 monks at Rato ranging from the age of 6 to 90.

    Vreeland has been a photographer since he was 13 years old, and assisted Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. A recent exhibition of Vreeland’s work, Photos for Rato, toured major cities around the world, raising most of the funds needed for the construction of Rato Monastery’s new campus and temple, which was inaugurated by the Dalai Lama on January 31, 2011.

    • Sid says:

      Saw a picture of Geshe Vreeland the other day, standing (bowing) next to HHDL. If your going to wear the robes, this is how it is done, according to the rules of the tradition you have been allowed to enter. So wonderful to see. I also saw a picture of the first Lama I took refuge with, Jhado Rinpoche, alongside Lama Zopa, Khandro-La and another notable Geshe, all touring together to teach in the US. I would like to think that all this publicity around this tragic situation with GM will send would be seekers to their talks to see what a real Lama looks and sounds like.
      GM tried so hard to engineer situations with other Lama's to get some credibility. Sometime after the end of the first 3 yr retreat, we all went for a big dinner in Tuscon. A very special guest was to be there, and there was much excitement. We all waited for GM and Christie to arrive. Finally they did, and GM announced that a very high Lama from the Kagyu (not sure which lineage) tradition was coming to address us. GM said that this Lama was a direct re-incarnation/emanation of Milarepa himself, which sent a buzz around the room. Then an older Tibetan layperson entered, katas presented etc, and he spoke to the room. About Guru devotion of course. About how any faults you might see in the Lama come from your own mind, and so on. We were all really impressed.
      Later on I spoke with one of GM's main assistants (enablers?) and she told me how stressed she had been trying to arrange this endorsement. It had cost much more than they had anticipated,more money had been demanded by the Tibetan man at the last minute, and the whole deal had almost fallen through, while they tried to come up with the money. This was one of the many things that made me go hmmm, that I put on that shelf that Ekan talked about, until mine too eventually fell.

      • Tenor says:

        Two such Nyingma beards were introduced to the audience on the evening in Palampur 2006 when MR tried to make the audience believe that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had sent him a thangka and blessed water from his own Yamantaka retreat!

        • Phurba says:

          ? I understood it was a monk from Sera who did that.

          • Tenor says:

            The monk whom MR said worked in H.H. Dalai Lama's Private Office and who brought the thanga and water to the MR lecture venue near Palampur was a Gyuto Tantric College monk [which is located in a 'suburb' of Dharamsala in the Kangra Valley below McLeod Ganj]. He is also a relative of a Sera Mey Geshe who served as a mentor for RM (who has visited DM]) and the Gyuto monk worked with Westerners in McLeod Ganj to try to organize MR's planned teaching in 2006.

          • aguse says:

            Tenor, up to her old lies again. GMR did not attempt to make the audience believe that. in fact he said the OPPOSITE, he spoke to the audience and said he was hesitant to believe that the monk possessed what he said he possessed. that is what he actually told to the audience.

      • kelly rigpa says:

        Sid-I remember that dinner and the Lama was introduced as "a reincarnated student of Milarepa's. I was unaware that this was a 'paid endorsement' though.

    • Khedrup says:

      Wonderful news! I pray that his activities for the benefit of Rato Monastery are successful.

  35. anonymous snake says:

    I think we should all give aguse a break, since s/he is obviously suffering from a severe case of DMentia.

    • Jacky says:

      OK, let's attack anonymous snake and his/her teachers instead.

      • tummo says:

        No lets keep attacking any of the GM defenders so that they dont post difficult debate issues like the ones that aguse posted.

        • AnnetteVictoria says:

          I think most of us are genuinely interested in the difficult debate issues that "GM defenders" are bringing to the table, but people are reacting defensively in response to the offensive language being used.

          We're communicating, it's all good. It would be better if we could all tone it down a bit, though. Makes communication easier.

    • krigor says:

      so uncharacteristically gracious.

    • Tenor says:

      Someone whose posts are as coherently well-mannered as Aguse must expect that someone will respond with a bit of sarcasm. Surely founders and students of Manhattan's ACI can handle a little sarcasm

      If you want to read hard-hitting sarcastic debate, read an English translation of a work by Khedrup Je, A Dose of Emptiness.

    • aguse says:

      a break from what?

      • kelly rigpa says:

        Tell me Aguse-How 'intellectually honest' is GMR being when he makes the claim that he "is the 1st arya bodhisattva since Arya Nagarjuna."? (Tantra, 2004.)
        How 'honest' was he in 2007 during tantra class to answer my question with: "People don't like the word 'marriage' "… when he was struggling to find adequate terms to describe 'spiritual partnerships'.?
        Aguse, would you consider it an 'honest' thing to say when he said to my face in April, 2012: "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth." ? (I'm giving Joseph Goebbels the benefit of the doubt that he meant it as well when he first said it in 1937.)
        Geshe Michael is resembling Raskolnikov in 'Crime And Punishment'; he wants to be outed, and he wants to atone, but he's afraid to admit it to himself…(Because being the 1st arya bodhisattva in nearly 2000 years means never having to say that you are sorry.) If it is true that GMR is removing his televised teachings from shortly after their broadcast, then he himself acknowledges that his presentations cannot withstand the process of 'cutting, rubbing, and burning' that the authentic Buddhadharma has no difficulty to withstand. What more is there to say when a teacher will not even stand by his own words for a day?.

        • Tenor says:

          Would you provide more context for the rather amazing – I guess honest – April 2012 quote?

          It reminds me of a series of posts here that reiterated advice that we should stop talking about MR/CR's ministries because it had all been talked about before and anyone who was interested could find material from 2003 and 2006 on the web.

          "Goebbel's law of propaganda', having been scientifically proven true, is sadly being used by our amazing communication media to ruin societies and individuals.

          Even to convince people that something that is true is true requires repeated repetition by several voices because that is an important tool human beings use to form judgments about reality.

          It would be wonderful if MR would actually respond in accordance with the Buddhist Dharma he studied, regret, confess and apply remedies and attempt to heal the harm. That would be amazing if he was sincere. Your analysis is cogent and well-put.

        • aguse says:

          are the videos down? also does it make sense to you that out of the 1000s of hours of available audio of his on the internet, he is going to take down these 15 hours of audio? you don't make any sense nor do any of the examples you list. if you think he was being literal when he said that thing about lying, you're a fool.

          GMR could be an arya. if we define arya to include all of the coarser realizations of selflessness and emptiness, then yes undoubtedly he is and so are a few of his students.

          you take your conceptualizations very very seriously. calm the fuck down.

  36. Osel Torres says:

    At the risk of sticking my head above water

    I plead with everyone who is contributing here. Please ask yourself before posting…

    "Is this truly going to help anyone. Am I right. Am I speaking from emotion or wisdom."

    Sid, matthew, Ecan, ABC, Snakes and shouters. "Am I sure that I am not Making a mistake in posting again"?

    everything posted on the net will effect someone.

    I certainly hope that none of my friends are posting or reading this page

    • krigor says:

      Conversation is ok Osel Torres, and everything effects someone… We can never be sure whether or not our actions help someone…. and why do you hope your friends aren't posting or reading here?

    • Sea says:

      thanks. it's good advice. lo que esta mejor, consultarlo con la almohada.

    • Finn says:

      Is this Osel Torres as in Osel HIta?

    • Jhampa Chodzin says:

      Good advice.Osel-la though reading & thoughtfully posting should be ok… this blog reflects the stark reality of transitioning Tibetan Buddhism into western culture. As those who teach gain a higher profile, they will inevitably attract their share of ardent supporters, rabid detractors, and the occasional looney. Goes with the territory, unfortunately.

      IMO, if we look at the totality of MR's life and ministry, he's done more good than bad.

      Long life!

      • krigor says:

        Except for the blatant lies.

        • Jhampa Chodzen says:

          'Blatant lies' is profoundly judgemental, confrontational and simply serves to polarize the dialogue.
          What you call 'blatent lies', others might describe as 'spin', 'embelishment', or is simply a different way of looking at something. Yes, there seem to be many inconsistencies in MR's story, and it's easy to label him as a hypocrite. Perhaps he is, but who isn't? If someone is trying to illustrate and clarify a point of philosophy, they might embelish part of their life experience simply to illustrate that point. It's all in perception. Q: is the glass half full or half empty? A: Both, neither, it depends…

          • Jhampa Chodzen says:

            I find the tone of some posters here is similar to a lynch mob. Some of you would like to have a Buddhist Inquisition, overseen by orthodox Gelugpas, where any teacher deemed offensive can be forced to appear to be interrogated, stripped of their robes, and burned at the stake (symbolically, I hope).
            Before you pick up the poison pen again, you might want to check up and ask yourself how pure your own motivation is. Is there anger, jealousy, envy or frustration lurking there, just waiting for a suitable, familiar and easy target? When you consider Michael Roach, do you feel sanctimonious? Be honest! I would echo what Osel has said… please thoughtfully consider the impact of what you say on forums like this. Will your words bring people together, or split them apart? Will they sow dissension, doubt and strife, or will they result in harmony, understanding and compassion?

          • Fleurine says:

            A bllatant lie contradicts what is obvious and verifiable. It is not complicated.In very plain language, this is (was) a married sexually active man impersonating a Buddhist monk running a large non-profit organization/cult where someone died.
            Crystal clear to me.

          • krigor says:

            Saying you are not married when you are married is a blatant lie. Saying that you are in retreat by yourself when in actuality you are sharing the space with someone else — also a lie. These points are not about perception, they are about deception.

      • Fleurine says:

        Too bad Mr. Thorson won't have one.

    • matthew says:

      Osel: it's a great question that I spend a lot of quiet time with.

      you might be interested to know that I've received close to a hundred personal emails from former and even present students thanking me for bringing the controversy to light. the sentiment is consistent: "MR's behaviour and/or the way I was treated at DM has bothered me/damaged me for years, and your exposure of the issues has given me courage to think and speak more clearly about my experience."

      in media relations it is traditionally said that each actual respondent to a given piece of media represents hundreds of "silent" respondents. i imagine that my personal correspondence contains only a sliver of public sentiment. of course the same principle would hold true for my detractors.

      i think our interchange shows that we are all susceptible to the blindness of our bubbles of interest/allegiance. you're quite right: everything posted will effect someone. the effects I'm pursuing are transparency, self-reliance, intersubjectivity, and existential integrity. enough people say they have benefited so far that i am encouraged to continue, uncertainly, but with hope.

    • Fleurine says:

      Osel: Thanks for reading and posting. I would be also mortified if any of my friends knew I had ever been involved in MR's cult of horros. My only regret is that all Michael Roach's lies were neither exppsed nor talked about ten years ago. This forum is desperately needed and about 10 years overdue.

      • Tenor says:

        Me, too. Some of us tried.

        However, before the 2000 Retreat he was in the loving embrace of the FPMT. Why don't LZR or FPMT as an organization issue a public statement – at least on their web sites to rectify FPMT's unfortunate role in promoting MR's ministry in the 1990s?

        After the retreat, the internet was still a fledgling, but if memory serves, E-Sangha hosted MR threads. Personally, after H.H. Dalai Lama's Beacon Theatre teachings (where MR/CM sat in the center of the front balcony row), I attended a crowded 'Coming Out' event by MR/CM in a Manhattan church, stood up in robes and tried to ask questions. So maybe 2 minutes for contrarian pov and 2 hours of mandala offerings to the 'guru' and long self-promotional talks by the DM'ers.

        Ten years ago, one was pretty powerless to counter MR's cultish apostasies. Fortunately, in 2006, MR's grandiosity and advertising strategy caused him to overplay his hand by trying to teach in McLeod Ganj. By then the internet hosted so at least one tiny venue existed for alternative voices to MR/ACI/WV/DM, etc.

        As for 'this forum' – it is inadequate. What is needed is a web site like that had the capacity to host articles, reports, and a coherent forum structure on one site. The thread "structure" on this site has not Table of Contents. The articles are posted at separate www addresses and not linked together, etc.

        Dear web designers, Please HELP!

    • Sorry Charlie says:

      You are NOT Osel Torres!

  37. ekanthomason says:

    In the 1999 transcript "Tantra in America" MR lists his six tantric masters.
    He mentions six perfect Tantric Masters, but unfortunately, does not list their names.

    1. Initiation – His Holiness the Dalai Lama (1936 – )
    2. Initiation – Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, 1903 – 1983
    3. Initiation & Teachings – Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin 1921 – 2004
    4. Initiation – Zong Rinpoche, 1905 – 1984
    5. Teachings – Geshe Trinley Topgye (1937 – )
    6. Retreat Instructions – Pabongka Rinpoche (?)

    “Venerable Emeritus Abbot Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa (known as Geshe Trinley Topgye) was born in 1937.” This is tantric master #5 in MR's list.

    In 2005, when Khensur Rinpoche came to Arizona and talked to MR about his robes and vows, it was in the capacity of being his tantric master.

    See complete conversation in yesterdays post:
    In 2005, Khensur Rinpoche came to Arizona and said to Michael Roach, “If you take a wife, you don’t have vows and you should not wear robes.” “If you still have vows, you should cut your hair.” We know now that Michael Roach had a wife and we also know that he has not cut his hair.

    • Tenor says:

      Thank you for that research. So the only one of those six with whom MR could have disclosed his intention to practice tantra with a mudra in retreat and sought any advice about his practice and ministry is the current Pabongka, a person who stands with the political/spiritual opposition to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

      'Nuff said.

  38. Osel Torres says:

    My comments have been deleted from this site twice.

    I ask again. Please consider anythng hat any of you post here before posting. These internet conversations effect so many more people than you could possibly imagine. Please ask yourselves bfore posting… "is this going help people." " is this fact or am I venting in public" Do not damage the dharma.

    I truly hope that none of my friends are posting or reading this page.

    • Karen Visser says:

      Osel, you are most welcome here. You're right, many people are silently reading this. I want you to know that the people who are speaking out have good hearts and are being truthful. I've thought about this a lot, I don't believe a discussion like this will hurt the dharma. This has been a very intense, at times painful discussion, but the truth has to be hammered out. Lots of love to you, I hope you're well and happy.

      • ekanthomason says:

        I agree with everything Karen just said. I am sorry to hear your posts were deleted. Very uncharacteristic of this forum, even if they knew who you really were. Yes, you are welcome here.

    • Zirconia says:

      You're repeating your previous comment, but it's still there. I don't think anyone would delete your posts.

    • cloverleaf says:

      Osel Torres,

      I believe many– most– people here are thinking very carefully about their posts.

      Part of why I am posting here is to figure out what is 'fact' and what is not so plain. Some of us here have no other place to do this. I would ask that you take that into consideration as well, please.

      No one here wants to damage the Dharma, not that I am aware of anyway.

      I appreciate your plead for mindfulness and civility as well as awareness for the consequences….it's always a good reminder.

    • matthew says:

      Osel: no one is deleting posts — there is no administrator functioning that way. However, I have seen the Intense Debate system "lose" posts into the ether.

    • Sorry Charlie says:

      You are NOT Osel Torres

      • Karen Visser says:

        I have to agree with you. It would appear those two posts were not from Osel Torres. Also known as Osel Hita or Lama Osel. But they have had an Osel-like effect on the forum, rather happily. People are being more thoughtful and loving.

        I won't go into this too much, but in addition to everything else, the writing style and content are not his. Osel would never want to censure the truth. For those of you who don't know, Osel is the reincarnation of the beloved Lama Yeshe. He studied at Sera Mey, will head FPMT whenever he wishes, and is an amazing guy, very interesting, very warm, with a great heart.

        I really love this young generation of lamas – including Kalu Rinpoche, Gomo Rinpoche, Osel (he prefers to drop the tulku title), all of them. Tibetan dharma is modernizing as fast as it can. It's a bit of a mad scramble, though, there's so much to do. All of these guys will take dharma into the future, their struggles are giving them deep compassion and insight. Love, openness, honesty, empathy, ethics and morality are being carried forward. Many of the old forms and rituals will have to be dropped, it's an on-going process.

        My own lama came back from India one year and mentioned that the entire tulku system (the system of recognizing reincarnated lamas) may be done away with in the future. But it has to be done responsibly and thoughtfully. Considering how quickly everything else is changing (I'd like a new iphone…) it's amazing that these old monks, who essentially walked out of a feudal state in 1959, have been able to do as much as they have in one generation. The next generation will do more.

        So, Sorry Charlie, was the lack of one of his sign offs – Big love or Onelove – a clue for you too?

        • Ben says:

          I've never heard of Osel Torres and am not sold on the notion of Tulkus. Therefore his opinions aren't deemed by me as somehow having more weight than any others except possibly in the area of TB (I am assuming that he (along with many others here) knows much more about TB than I).

          But if it is shown that the person posting as Osel Torres is not actually Osel Torres, it seems to indicate that someone believed (as I believe) that his posts would carry more weight with many here.

          I can't say whether he is or is not Orel Torres but if someone is using his name as a means to control discussion and opinion on this board, it is a pretty despicable act and it indicates that you feel your ideas don't have enough merit in and of themselves.

          That being said, the allegation of fraud should be proven not just asserted.

        • Sorry Charlie says:

          It smells like a DM Sock Puppet!

          • Tenor says:

            All posts by this "Osel" written here have smelled that way to me.

            That said, generating hatred towards extremely naughty beings who earn their 'fame' and living off harming others harms the 'hater' more than the 'hated'. For those who want to follow the Mahayana path, most any psychological exercise that prevents hatred towards our fellow 'naughty' creatures from growing is useful. For non-Buddhists as well, hatred cannot lead to personal or social peace / happiness.

          • ekanthomason says:

            It is very pathetic and sad that someone feels compelled to impersonate a tulku in order to try and protect their own self interest. They must have mortgaged the farm and everything else to follow MR's dream. I think it must be someone with a financial interest in one of his 'products' like yoga or such. It really makes me sad and angry. For example, I can't imagine too many people are signing up for Tibetan Heart Yoga courses right now. Having compassion for them does not mean they should not be exposed.

          • Tenor says:

            Re your last sentence, absolutely!

            Justice for wrong doers in the life in which they harm others is considered very beneficial for the harmers – because in Buddhist theory of Karma, the energetic impact of our actions "accrues interest" over time. If someone commits serious negative acts and does not experience negative fruit in one lifetime, the suffering fruit experienced in future lifetimes will be more painful. That's why we dedicate any meritorious karmic energy associated with our positive actions to attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all beings – a project that goes beyond a single life time and requires enormous positive karmic potential.

            Also, in Buddhist theory, acting to stop or prevent a harmer from actually inflicting injuries is done for the benefit of both the harmer and the victim. The teachings clearly instruct those who believe in the karmic law of cause and effect — that negative/positive actions bring forth their respective fruits of misery/happiness — to have compassionate empathy for 'evil-doers' because by harming others they are ensuring inevitable bitter pain. [Caveat: heartfelt remorse, confession. reliance, remedies and resolve change the karmic potential of the past negativities].

          • Tenor says:

            "I think it must be someone with a financial interest in one of his 'products' like yoga or such"

            Does the MR spiritual conglomerate 'franchise' some of its operations? That is, how does one 'invest' in his 'product lines"? If you know. My apologies if I direct too many questions to you.

          • Karen Visser says:

            Hi Tenor and Ekan, I'm going to see if I can get permission over the next few days from the various parties close to Osel to reveal the hard evidence. It's not great timing, Osel's sister is getting married today. I hadn't wanted to reveal too much, because I feel badly for whoever did post this. I'll probably hold back the location on the poster – I feel badly for them.

          • Tenor says:

            Good evening, Karen and Ekan,

            Thank you for all your efforts on this forum and elsewhere. I'll be leaving on a trip to Leh in two days where reputedly it is still difficult to make a phone call, let alone have an internet connection. Must be internet parlors for emergencies, but I don't expect to frequent them. Until then I'll be checking in.

            Re: "I'll probably hold back the location on the poster"

            If it is just a big location, e.g., a city or state, Arizona or New York, I'm not sure how that could be identify or embarrass the poster.

            Keep up the good work, and thank you.

          • Karen Visser says:

            Hi Tenor, have a wonderful trip! The internet is no match for India, we'll hope to hear from you whenever you can get a connection. It's been incredible reading and absorbing your posts. You'll be missed, safe trip!

          • Tenor says:

            No fees are posted, but naturally they could be considerable. I've sent you FB message as I'm l'll be in Leh by the 5th. Love, Tenor

          • Karen Visser says:

            Unfortunately, as much as I wish they were, it appears the posts weren't from Osel. Gomo Tulku, Osel's best friend, called Sera Je Monastery in South India and spoke to his teacher, a Geshe there.

            My contact at Sera Je is also a student of Gomo Tulku's teacher and was at dinner with the Geshe when the call came in. Gomo Tulku and Osel have been in Italy attending the teachings of His Holiness and the FPMT European regional meetings. I'm not a liberty to say more than that. Gomo Tulku said they were now having a wonderful time in Milan.

            You can see the events here:

            I can't break confidence about another fact, I'm sorry. It was curious, though, that Osel singled out only Michael Roach's students without mentioning aguse or Tenor or other non-DM students.

            Osel prefers to be known as Osel Hita, not Osel Torres. You can see him and his writing style on his facebook page.

            Osel has overcome a lot of obstacles and is still full of love and generosity. Even his name brought some harmony to the forum, so some good came of it.

  39. aguse says:


  40. Karen Visser says:

    Osel-la, I've been talking to someone who knows you, there's a little confusion about the writing style in your posts here. Are you still in Ibiza? You can post on your facebook page, as you usually do. Many thanks.

    • AnnetteVictoria says:

      Nice to see you again, Karen! I'm glad you're back.

      Do you think the person posting as Osel Torres is an imposter?

      • Karen Visser says:

        Hi Annette! Thank you. It's very nice to see you too.

        I have to tell you, some of us have reservations about these Osel posts. I'll know more in a day or two. It may be that someone who has a lot to lose was simply desperate to bring down the high emotional tone of the forum and thought a Lama's voice would be the way to do that.

        There are people who've invested everything they have emotionally, financially and spiritually in DM, ACI or Tibetan Heart Yoga. I think it would be devastating to watch your life be eroded by the flood of information washing into this forum. If this isn't Osel I won't persue it further, but I will let you know.

        • Corvid says:

          Karen,when David Stump (who is now in retreat)was confronted by Ben Brewer about tall scandals all David could say was look..I quit my job at U of A,sold my house,built a faily expensive new house at Dm so I'm stuck.They all thought they could manage Roach but unless he's strapped to a handcart with a leather mask on it will never end.

          • Karen Visser says:

            Corvid! You're back. It seems a lot of damage has been done, it's very sad.

          • Corvid says:

            Karen speaking as a person that really liked Ian,I find the pro Roach crowds attacks on him to be low blows.They need to understand that until the group gives Roach the boot they better be ready to be laughed at for the rest of their lives.If they dump him all will work out just fine.

  41. question for aguse says:

    Hi aguse, I was wondering what your take on Lama Christie is?

  42. namarupa says:

    The Emperor's Tantric Robes: An Interview with June Campbell on Codes of Secrecy and Silence

    "An idealistic young Scottish woman goes East to study Buddhism. Twenty-five years later she delivers a radical and unsparing critique of religious structures in Tibet. How much of this system is taking root in West? And how much of it do we really want?"

    • Sid says:

      must read for everyone posting/reading here

      • namarupa says:

        Yes, I found this article really fascinating…it helps me to go beyond the recent events of this post and try to look at the more systemic roots of what behaviors might have led to these events.

      • Karen Visser says:

        Hi Sid, I totally agree with you, knowledge of this scandal is very important. It helped to push forward changes deep within the system, believe it or not. It's still shocking and disappointing, even now, 16 years later.

        When I first heard about Kalu Rinpoche I was shocked to my core and very, very disappointed. Kalu Rinpoche was born in 1905, he was 54 years old when he walked out of Tibet. At that age he was walking straight out of the feudal past into the 1960's.

        But even in old Tibet, a Kagyu lama in robes should have made a choice between robes or consort – or changed lineages, no one has a problem with that. Sadly, people being people, it was probably inevitable that one of the old school celibate high lamas, born around the turn of the century, would try secret consort practice. Now, in exile in India, the abbots have developed a very tough stance against this, monks who don't wish to be celibate are released from their vows quite readily.

        The Kagyu rightly point out that this is one of the few scandals to occur in their lineage. I don't know enough about Kalu Rinpoche's training to know who gave him this tantra, it does sounds like Nyingma. By the way, a lot of what's coming out of DM seems to have started out as being Nyingma-ish. I say this as a former Nyingma practitioner, so no judgement is implied.

        It is interesting that June Campbell came forward in 1996, which was around the time Michael Roach may have been forming some of his ideas about his personal relationship to dharma. I wonder if the news of such a highly regarded lama having a secret karma mudra influenced Michael.

        You know, I've always thought that tantra shouldn't be practiced widely, it makes people do crazy things. The most difficult thing is to practice Buddhism's most basic tenet – Boddhichitta, altruism, to try to love everyone equally. That's a difficult enough challenge for one life. Do we really need to race to individual Enlightenment as if we were training for the Olympics?

        • Karen Visser says:

          Buddhism's basic misspelling, it seems – that should be Bodhichitta

        • PAX says:

          There are many former students of the previous Kalu who refute June Campbell's claim. One who was with him virtually all the time states it would have been impossible for this to happen. It is also strange that she came forward after his death with these claims making it virtually impossible for him to defend himself. Myself I remain on the fence regarding this. It could have happened although I am not sure. I am only bringing this up so that people are aware that her account has been refuted and it has never been fully accepted that what she said is true.

          • Karen Visser says:

            Oh – thank you PAX! This is making me feel a lot better. I never knew if the people who refuted her claim were students or not. Do you think there's a good chance this may not be true? That would be such good news.

          • PAX says:

            Hi Karen,

            I am friends with several people that were students of the previous Kala and did the 3 year retreat under him. In the Kalu sangha there seem to be enough people who disagree with June's allegations, which makes me wonder about her account. I remain on the fence since I have no real way of knowing. The problem for me is anyone who comes forward after someone's death is not really playing fair since the person that died can never answer these allegations. I'm sure if it is true maybe she had her reasons, fear etc… but why is their no eyewitness to substantiate her story. Later in his life Kalu was constantly surrounded by people when could this have occurred? From everyone that knew him he was a real Saint and a Bodhisattva and they were appalled by June's allegations. I don't know it makes me sad to think about it so I placed it on the back burner unless I hear further evidence I am not sold on her story.

          • Karen Visser says:

            PAX, I've had this on the back burner myself until now.

            I know people who met Kalu Rinpoche in India and loved him. The only bad thing I ever heard about him was this sad story. It's difficult, isn't it? You don't want to discount someone's experience – but it doesn't fit with anything else anyone else says. And you're right, there is always an attendant or two around these old lamas, they don't have a lot of privacy. Until now I never really weighed how unfair the timing of June's allegation was, once someone is gone accusations tend to stick. I don't know what to think.

          • Zirconia says:

            "In that world he was a saintly figure. It was like claiming that Mother Teresa was involved in making porn movies."

            But it was not fear of the response which made her wait a full 18 years before publishing her revelations in a volume entitled Traveller in Space – a translation of dakini, the rather poetic Tibetan word for a woman used by a lama for sex. It took her that long to get over the trauma of the experience. "I spent 11 years without talking about it and then, when I had decided to write about it, another seven years researching. I wanted to weave together my personal experience with a more theoretical understanding of the role of women in Tibetan society to help me make sense of what had happened to me."

    • AnnetteVictoria says:

      "Tricycle: You ended up feeling sexually exploited? Used for personal indulgence?

      Campbell: Obviously at the time and for some years afterwards I didn't think this. How could I? It would have caused me too much distress to see it in this light. It took me many years of thinking about the whole thing to see it differently, and to begin speaking about my experience. This wasn't easy. I tried through writing to understand why people rationalize these acts as beneficial, and it made me question a lot of things. I've got no doubts now that when a male teacher demands a relationship that involves secret sex, an imbalance of power, threats, and deception, the woman is exploited. You have to ask, "Where does the impulse to hide sexual behavior come from?" Especially if it happens in a system that supposedly values the sexual relationship. Of course, there are those who say they are consensually doing secret "tantric" practices in the belief that it's helping them become "enlightened," whatever that means. That's up to them, and if they're both saying it, that's fine.

      But there's a difference between that and the imperative for women not to speak of the fact that they're having a sexual relationship at all. What's that all about if it's not about fear of being found out! And what lies behind that fear? These are the question I had to ask."

    • Tenor says:

      Read the article and her book when published and found it very insightful. Her analysis about the psychological scars children bring to adulthood when they are separated from maternal loving care is pertinent. In the 1990's, Mandala article published letters by the young Lama Osel that were filled with his painful longing for his mother and family. It was admirable that Mandala didn't censure the letters, but at the time I wondered why something wasn't done to heed his cries. Over the years, a lot of the good monks and geshes I've known who returned their robes or were disrobed by their actions appeared to have done so as much by their craving for maternal love as any other kind.

      However, Tibetans don't just send their 6-9 year old children off to monastery; they send them away from their country to the Tibetan Childrens Village, etc., at very tender ages. Some of my friends have suffered quite horrendous wounds from those experiences.

      Back in the 1990s Tricycle functioned as sort of a Buddhist Cult Awareness magazine, but I haven't had access to it in over a decade and wonder does it still do such exposes. And if so, has it published articles about MR/CM in the new millennium?

    • Soprano says:

      Let's leave the Shangpa Kagyu lineage out of this mess. There is absolutely no way to verify whether Campbell's claims are true or not.

  43. Jhampa Chodzen says:

    I find the tone of some posters here is similar to a lynch mob. Some of you would like to have a Buddhist Inquisition, overseen by orthodox Gelugpas, where any teacher deemed offensive can be forced to appear to be interrogated, stripped of their robes, and burned at the stake (symbolically, I hope).
    Before you pick up the poison pen again, you might want to check up and ask yourself how pure your own motivation is. Is there anger, jealousy, envy or frustration lurking there, just waiting for a suitable, familiar and easy target? When you consider Michael Roach, do you feel sanctimonious? Be honest! I would echo what Osel has said… please thoughtfully consider the impact of what you say on forums like this. Will your words bring people together, or split them apart? Will they sow dissension, doubt and strife, or will they result in harmony, understanding and compassion?

    • fleurine says:

      Thanks for reading posting!
      How do you honestly feel about MR?
      I am fully and unapologetically disgusted with him, in the same way I would be about any organization with blatantly false advertising. The issue is with him wearing robes. Very simple. He needs to disrobes, no orthodoxy required. I don't want the guy lynched, but someone DIED on his watch already.

      • Jhampa Chodzin says:

        ‘DIED on his watch already.’
        Based upon reading this blog, including the various accounts of what occurred, IMO (respectfully), MR is not responsible for Ian’s tragic death. Obviously, the whole situation around the expulsion was tense, convoluted and confusing, with many factors and conflicting personalities in the mix. There was no clear path out of that mess…
        Part of Buddhism is taking responsibility for your own actions. My understanding is MR and the DM administration had no idea they were up in that cave, which is off of DM property. How could they be held responsible for providing medical care when Ian & Christie were going out of their way to hide their location and situation? Hindsight is always 20:20.

        • Jhampa Chodzin says:

          How do you honestly feel about MR?
          Hmmm… maybe I should first say that I was a classmate of MR in ‘74 & ‘75 at the Library in Dharamsala. We weren’t close, and I remember him as being slightly spaced-out (though maybe we all were) but a very dedicated and hard working Dharma student. I did see him in robes once, not sure who he received them from. I only became aware of this whole controversy when surfing the NY Times website a few weeks ago.

          To be honest, and at risk of pissing off some of the more conservative folks on this site, I’m not particularly offended that MR continues to wear robes. The robes are simply a prop, a team uniform, a costume. They facilitate assuming the role as ‘teacher’. Whether he should be wearing robes or not is really between MR and whoever gave him those robes.

          • Khedrup says:

            For people who wear the robes and try to hold the vows it creates a lot of difficulties. Several Theravada monks have told me they thought that Tibetans don't follow Vinaya rules like celibacy. MR's wearing of the robes contributes to such wrong perceptions, and lessens the esteem of Tibetan Buddhism within the larger Buddhist community. HH Dalai Lama has been holding regular Vinaya conferences with elders from the Theravada and East Asian Buddhist Traditions for the last couple of years, and has stated plainly the importance of preserving the Vinaya.

            HHDL has asked those not holding the vows but practicing as tantric yogins to wear the white robes of the ngakpa sangha on many occasions, citing possible confusion.

            In short, the robes are much more than a team uniform. The patches on our lower robe, the shamthab, and the yellow robe, the chogu, are from designs that date back to the Buddhas time, and you can see that the way they are sewn into patches in similar for all Buddhist monastics.

            The robes indicate that one is an ordained monk or nun, and following the standards of behaviour of ordained monks and nuns. Laypeople who make offerings to one wearing such robes do so on the basis of understanding that the monk/nun is a committed practitioner of the monastic life whose root vows are in tact.

            I found this passage on the internet interesting:

            , Ajahn Brahmali, a respected forest bhikkhu in the line of Ajahn Chah, recalled: “…a few years ago, while visiting one of my old university friends, I found myself being a bit
            apologetic about my strange appearance. What he responded really opened my eyes. He said the
            robe of a Buddhist monastic is a fairytale in „branding,‟ a marketing manager‟s dream. He said
            that the positive image most people have of Buddhism coupled with the very distinct appearance
            of Buddhist monastics is a combination that any business would be willing to pay huge amounts
            for. In a sense, it is a very distinct and valuable brand"

          • Khedrup says:

            So in short, if one wants the benefits of the robes, then one should follow the standards laid out for those who wear them. The vows, the cut hair, monk-like appearance and conduct.

            If one wears the robes understanding that they are a valuable "brand" or a team "uniform" as stated above, to have esteem while teaching, that is a bit disingenuous.

          • cloverleaf says:

            Jhampa Chodzin,

            Your posts here are most welcome, in my opinion. I really appreciate your wisdom.

            Thank you.

          • Jhampa Chodzin says:

            Thanks, I've also read your posts with appreciation.

        • Tenor says:

          Primary focus of Mahayana Buddhism is taking responsibility for the welfare of others.

          • Jhampa Chodzin says:

            I thought it was to become enlightened for the sake of all sentient beings. Do you think it is the same thing? What if the 'others' don't want us to take responsibility for their welfare, and hide from us? Are we then still responsible for their welfare?

          • Tenor says:

            The first aspiration of Bodhicitta is to bring ultimate benefit to all; which can best be accomplished by the second aspiration (attaining enlightenment). Bodhisattvas and Buddhas motivated by wisdom and great compassion take responsibility for the benefit of all sentient beings — most of whom are perfectly enthralled by samsara, feeling the lash of the "Suffering of Suffering" episodically while trying to maximize their enjoyments of the "Sufferings of Change".

          • Jhampa Chodzen says:

            So would you say that taking responsibility for the welfare of others includes judging the spiritual attainments and motivations of others?

          • Ben says:

            Of course it does.

            Knowing what we know now, if you could have spoken to the people packing their bags in preparation for their trip to Jonestown, would you have warned them not to go? I would assume most peoples' answer would be yes because they know what the outcome would be. What if we didn't know? What if you only knew what people knew back then, before the tragedy? You would have to judge the spiritual attainments and motivations of Jim Jones and base your actions on what you believe and the surety with which you believe it.

            Some are easier to judge than others. If I was aware that Jones was having sex with teenage females and sodomizing male members of his church, all the while preaching abstinence, it would most likely increase my surety to a level which would then prompt me to act.

            I think part of the outcome of having this area to discuss and compare stories is we can try and figure out what GMR is all about. For some it is clear, GMR is a fraud and a conman, others aren't as sure. I for one wouldn't endorse anyone studying with him or the offshoot groups from DM without a warning, but I don't know if I would tell them flat out not to. It might depend on the individual I was advising.

          • Tenor says:

            Naturally, we live in a functioning world and need to use logical reasoning, integrated Dharma and all of our positive skill sets to ease the sufferings of the world.

        • Fleurine says:

          Hindsight is 20/20 is true. But when you set your followers up for bizarre states of physical and mental existence, in an isolated desert camp, then you must accept bizarre, dangerous and unforeseen outcomes, IMO, respectfully

          Also regarding the robes, he was asked to take them off by the person who gave them to him, and he refuses, much to the great shame of his teacher.

    • AnnetteVictoria says:

      I do see your point about the Buddhist Inquisition that seems to be taking place. Emotions are running high on all sides, but I think people really are just trying to get at the truth here.

      "When you consider Michael Roach, do you feel sanctimonious? Be honest!"

      Excellent point. I've definitely felt this way, and I am truly sorry for comments I've made that have been unnecessarily inflammatory and even offensive. Michael is just a person, like the rest of us. In my only interaction with him, he was quite pleasant and friendly, and I do appreciate him taking the time to write me an email.

      This debate is getting hot, and I appreciate aguse's being willing to enter the fray, despite her earlier comment that "this place is irrelevant." We need to hear all the different voices here.

      But you're right that we could all do better to use language wisely.

  44. concerned says:

    Aguse (Kelly Morris). I am so sorry that you are so hurt. You seem really upset by all of this. We are all upset, shocked and disturbed. That all being said you are being really vicious. Please try to be compassionate. We are all suffering from this tragedy.

    • Corvid says:

      Kelly's tone (I call it Dm stern) is very similar to the tone of the true believers from Diamond Mountain I have dealt with over the last Ten years.They would look at me like a bug when I questioned Roachism.The know-it-alls next door to my place have made many mistakes but admit to none.They are masters of all tasks …just ask them! The same guys that were so sure of their path 6 years ago are now long gone.You Roach backers might consider that the chances are good you won't believe any of this stuff in a few years.

      • aguse says:

        i'm not Kelly Morris, sorry.

        you're calling a logician by trade a "true believer". thats how fucking retarded you are Corvid. also, the majority of ppl at DM have been associated with the aci courses much longer than 6 years.

  45. Sid says:

    Osel and Jhampa, thanks for the reminder to think carefully about what we say here. There are definitely times when I could have said things with more compassion, and yes sometimes there is some anger behind this, which I feel is warranted and necessary to some degree. I personally abandoned a promising career and lost several years of my life following a man who I now see as a very dangerous sociopath. In a addition to Ian's death and Christie's descent into mental illness, I have watched recent videos' of people I used to know at DM, and it is shocking to see how deranged they appear to have become. I have also been contacted by dozens of people since this story broke who have thanked me for speaking up and encouraged me to continue.
    I personally don't feel that it is very compassionate to let someone fall into danger without at least trying to warn them.
    And as I have stated before, I believe that this is actually a very positive forum, secrecy and silence just breed more rot, we are putting what we have experienced on the table, to see how it stands up in the light.
    The Michael Roach trainwreck is one that needs to be studied very carefully, we need to know what went so horribly wrong, which will inevitably lead to some very uncomfortable questions regarding the Tibetan culture that helped create it.
    Evolution, as they say,is beautiful, but it is not pretty.

  46. Karen Visser says:

    Osel-la, Tandah, kabah yo-rey? Kerang US la chin-peh?

  47. kelly rigpa says:

    The "context" was this: During the taping of the 'Cinco de Mayo' promo, GMR kept referring to the holiday as 'Mexican Independence Day.' (September 16th.) I explained that C de M is a celebration commemorating a battle won by an army of Mexican Nationals out-numbered (2-1) by French Army regulars.
    Regardless of context, it was my horrible karma (I guess?) to hear the realized being and the internationally-acknowledged teacher of many sincere practitioners quoting a senior member of the Nazi Government….Three weeks to the day before Ian died.

    • knittinginnc says:

      The Cinco de Mayo video is problematic for many reasons. First, there is the laziness in not bothering to look up what Cinco de Mayo is. Most people in the US get this wrong, but if you are making a promotional video around it, at least google it so you don't look like an idiot. It's a question of professionalism, not enlightenment. Then there is the bad Spanish. Sorry, no points in my book for trying to pander in grammatically incorrect Spanish with a gringo accent. Gringo accent by itself is ok, but in AZ you can't find someone who speaks Spanish to write the script for you?!?!. And then there is the salsa lessons part – salsa is from the Caribbean, not Mexico, so it is a bit out of place if you want to celebrate Mexican culture. Oh, and how could I forget about those wonderful stereotypical yells at the end of the video and the "Ole" with reference to the mariachis? It seems to me like a bunch of privileged white people trying to be multicultural. Yes, "Todo [es] gratuito", which can be translated as "Everything is free of charge" or as "Everything is gratuitous".

      I, however, missed the reference to a senior member of the Nazi Government.

      (Sorry, this post was more like a rant.)

      • Tenor says:

        As MR's recent videos brag, he's got an advertising campaign underway in Latin America. Sounds like he needs to hire a new Ad Agency that knows the market.

    • ekanthomason says:

      Did other people hear MR say this to you? I wonder what they are thinking now or if they even absorbed it.
      I don't think it is your karma, that is horrible here. You were able to grasp what was being said and implied. Perhaps others were unable to grasp it. Which one do you think is worse?

      Just to tie the thoughts together, here is what was said earlier:
      "would you consider it an 'honest' thing to say when he said to my face in April, 2012: "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth." ? (I'm giving Joseph Goebbels the benefit of the doubt that he meant it as well when he first said it in 1937.)"

      • knittinginnc says:

        Thanks, Ekan, I knew I missed something.

        This is even more offensive. He had someone who actually knew what she was talking about correct him, and he just carried on. So they want Mexican people to feel particularly welcomed, but then they lie to them about their own history?!?! Wow!

      • Tenor says:

        Presumably you're being sarcastic when you say, you're giving "Goebbels the benefit of the doubt"?

  48. matthew says:

    I've published an update, with analysis of how Roach and others have handled the Diamond Mountain tragedy so far:

    • svan says:

      Thank you, Matthew. I am grateful for all your efforts and to everyone who has posted here.

    • Fleurine says:

      Many thanks to you and to all contributors!

    • Tenor says:

      Thank you.

      • Sorry Charlie says:

        Matthew – – – Christie McNally also has to be put under the Microscope not just Roach at least for Ian’s sake – As far as I know there is no authentic Lineage in Tibetan Buddhism who recognizes Christie McNally as a Lama only from the Roach Fantasy Lineage.

        • Soprano says:

          Leave her alone and let her heal. She is a cult victim. I hope she can break free from GMR.

          • Ben says:

            That depends on what she knew and when she knew it. If there is a con (a big IF), and she was aware of it, she's culpable. I am not sold that there was/is a con but a lot of things have been brought up on here that have lessened my surety in that position. I'm the kind of person who gives the other person the benefit of doubt though.

          • Corvid says:

            I believe the retreaters are in physical danger and from the way the board (Roach puppets all) prepared for the last fire and the cave killing just not ready for any emergency.The Fort had already moved all the historical docs before Scott and crew had lifted a finger and 8 hours to reach Ian in the Cave suicide or whatever it was?………….. a side note…when the wind changed the Sunday the fire turned back on itself an excited worker bee told me it was a miracle brought on by prayers from around the world.I pointed out that this wind change caused 30 houses to burn up in a similar ill suited for building canyon outside of Sierra Vista. i was informed the Dm beings were just more important to the world than the common folk"…..cringe number 100!

          • Tenor says:

            Corvid. You've made a mistake. On the Callous Narcissism Meter, that falls into the #1 Cringe category.

    • ebwally says:

      Thanks Matthew I look forward to reading it

  49. Tenor says:

    The "Lama Christie McNally" Facebook page has been scrubbed – no longer has any info (like Vajrapani FPMT 2010 videos). Only "recent activity": "Lama Christie and Jeff Brown are now friends"

    Mr. Brown is the author of SOULSHAPING and "Heartmaster in Process." His Educational & Work profile includes: "Enrealment Collegiate – Class of 1998. Clan of the Heart Bare: We were a clan of goofballs seeking enheartenment. Although we graduated with honors, we go back now and then when we forget what we learnt." Etc.

    He's currently in Ontario.

    According to his web page ( he has "an unforgettable spiritual documentary film – Karmageddon"

    CM's Info page:

    Education: the world is our classroom
    Tibetan Heart Yoga, Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipikawith Jan Henrikson

    Activities: Yoga and Buddhism with Christopher Real – [Santa Cruz]

    • Scooter says:

      web page link is dead

    • sp says:


      what is the point of discussing Jeff Brown: does he have anything to do with Diamond Mountain, aside from his Facebook connection to Lama Christy? Is there something about about the documentary that is good or bad?

      For a brief moment, I thought you might be suggesting there's something important about the fact that 1) he is acquainted with Lama Christy and 2) he uses newagey-sounding words. Surely that's not the case….what is the reason?

  50. Jacky says:

    Tenor can't stay on topic. She/he wants to attack any group not up to her/his extremist orthodox standards. Buddhism started a hell of a long time ago. Time has marched on, and so should Buddhism.

    • Corvid says:

      jacky you should consider asking Roach to walk away.Without his baggage the sky is the limit

    • Zirconia says:

      Would you feel differently if a Catholic priest gets married, keeps it a secret from his flock and his Church, and even goes on to ordain others into Catholic priesthood? Would you expect the Church to get with the times and rewrite its rules? Is it extremist to expect this married priest to get laicized or to have the decency to switch to Episcopalian?

    • Tenor says:

      Not a Roman Catholic. But that — and other U.S. Churches — have legal protections in the U.S.A. Anyone can set up a church and call it "Catholic" — but they cannot call it whatever the legal name of the Roman Catholic Church is in the USA or they'll get shut down and maybe their property taken away by a court.

      The Geluk-pa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism does not have the protection of such a legal corporate status.

      Why don't you attend a teaching by H.H. Dalai Lama? He often talk about the need for 21st Century Buddhism. Maybe you can find a way to get answers to your sincere questions.

      Isn't there a Geluk-pa Rinpoche – Za Choeje Rinpoche – in Scottsdale, Arizona? Maybe you could talk to him? He came to the USA when he was 30 years old and is quite familiar with our advanced culture. Maybe you could have a dialogue?

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