The Michael Roach Bubble.

Via yoga 2.0 lab
on Jun 29, 2012
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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 analysis by matthew remski

Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful! — Lorca

important background:

— Christy McNally’s letter, April 19th
— Michael Roach’s open letter, April 26th
— my original post, May 4th
— John Stillwell’s rebuttal, May 6th
— my followup, May 19th
— Michael Roach’s essay, June 2nd
— NYT article, June 5th


since I last posted: a brief synopsis…

There are reports that Christie McNally was last seen in Kathmandu, trying to secure a private audience with her first teacher, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. She couldn’t. There is a report that Christie’s mother has quoted Christie as saying: “Michael Roach murdered my love.” The Thorson family is starting to talk to the media. The claim that Roach’s sexual partner practices are a legitimate aspect of Gelukpa tradition has been thoroughly savaged by several knowledgeable commentators. A Facebook page has been organized to croudsource letters of concern to the Dalai Lama, and to request that Sera Mey monastery – Roach’s putative alma mater – formally distances itself from Roach. Dozens of followers and ex-followers of Roach are beginning to come forward with their memories.

No one knows where this story is leading. But a close look at how it’s unfolding, and how Roach and others have chosen to respond so far, gives a dizzying view on how deep this rabbit hole goes.

There are now almost 48K views of my original May 4th piece about the circumstances under which Ian Thorson died after being expelled from Diamond Mountain by Michael Roach and the Diamond University Board. There are over 28K views of the follow-up. There are over 3200 comments between them in which over 200 supporters and critics of Michael Roach slug out the issues of his responsibility for McNally’s mental health and Thorson’s death, as well as his qualifications as a monk, his virtues as a philanthropist and cultural translator of Tibetan philosophy, and his credibility as a scholar and “realizer” of Buddhist attainments. The threads read like a collective doctoral study of Tibetan metaphysics and cross-cultural anthropology, as well as the twisting saga of present and ex-students navigating a swamp of devotion and trauma. Huffpo picked up the story on May 22nd.

When the New York Times reported on June 5th, the floodgates of global media opened. Fernanda Santos’ story – an account brief and elliptical enough to provoke many new questions – was broadcast throughout the English-speaking world, reinvigorating the source-threads with a slew of new commentary, and prompting an immediate followup by Nightline, in which Ian Thorson’s grieving mother called out Roach’s group point-blank as a cult. Lama Surya Das warned the world about him in HuffPo. Since June 6th, I’ve fielded calls from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Newsweek, CNN, and People Magazine. The story is getting louder. But on Diamond Mountain there is the silence of continued retreat, and tight lips.

Except for Roach, who has had plenty to say – mainly about himself. He’s published a 26-page self-report of his academic history. In recent public appearances he has compared himself to Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. He has bragged about his well-attended appearances all over the world, and about his book sales doubling on Amazon despite negative publicity. He has joked that “We need more scandals.” He has compared his critics to demons. And at the opening of his first public appearance on the American soil in which Ian Thorson’s flesh is dissolving, he held down the rhythm on double bass as a devotee sang “What a Wonderful World”.

The disjunction between Michael Roach’s bubble of obliviousness and consensus reality is being laid bare before our eyes, in real time. Thousands want to know why a frail young man meditated to death in the arms of his wife, in a cave without food or water. They want to know how his wife came to believe she was a goddess. They want to know what paroxysms of religious delusion and/or domestic violence led her to stab him months before he died. They want to know why her former lover and guru exiled them both from their home and community. Despite Roach’s claims to kindness and empathy and selfless service, it appears as though he is happy to laugh about a tragedy in his wake, and ignore these now-global questions that cut to the very heart of modern spiritual integrity. Perhaps we can chalk it up to his decades-long meditative rehearsal of a neo-Tantric mirage in which every calamity is a divine teaching moment, every criticism is proof of his virtue, and every call for transparency is an invitation to greater secrecy.

On a broader scale, Roach’s snubbing of consensus reality is a powerful display of irreconcilable worldviews: the collision of premodern tribal magicality with postmodern skepticism and inquiry. The public discourse around his intentions is a powerful display of the hostile barrier of mutual misunderstanding and distrust between religious insiders and outsiders. In an age in which progressive religiosity is at least attempting a dialogue between premodern faith and postmodern reason, the Diamond Mountain story shows what happens when this dialogue crashes and burns, or perhaps never gets started.


the endless Roach monologue that answers nothing

Roach’s public relations strategy is, as they say in the theatre, to “mark, park and bark”: hit your stage mark, stand your ground head-on, and deliver your lines to the nosebleeds. His first public “response” to the tragedy of Thorson’s death and the embarrassment of McNally’s delusions consists of a 26-page essay in which he self-reports his educational achievements. Of course, it’s not a response at all, but a massive deflection to counter a far less meaningful accusation that recent events have resurrected: that his monastic degree was less-than-honestly procured. Numerous sources both now and dating back to the old website have charged that Roach’s academic credentials are honorary, and that his account contains gross exaggerations that play upon the cultural naiveté of his western students. Karen Visser reports that one of her current Sera Mey contacts, who remembers Roach’s visits in the 80s, describes Michael as a “cushion geshe”, someone who donated money to have his cushion reserved in the debate hall when he wasn’t there. This allegation has been supported by several commentators, but their anonymity cannot provide corroboration. Which is why some critics are seeking clarification from Sera Mey directly in a letter-writing campaign.

That Roach self-reports his achievements also does nothing to address his central credibility issue: he changes his story almost as often as he tells it. Honestly, I find this tragic, because buried somewhere within his look-at-me bluster is a story of amazing adventurousness, persistence, cross-cultural intelligence, devotion, and philanthropy. Even Roach’s harshest critics praise his work on the ACIP project and his considerable charitable contributions to Tibetan monasteries-in-exile. If he could simply restrain himself from exaggerating his educational story (time spent in Tibetan monasteries vs. time spent in Howell NJ) or his tenure with Andin International (implying he was still part of the company when Warren Buffett recently bought it), the uniqueness of his educational achievements (he is not, as he has claimed publicly for many years “the first Western geshe” – Georges Dreyfus was, as of 1985), his medical talent (“I’ve helped people with their health problems”), his singular insight into the historical Buddha (“On the night of his enlightenment he meditated all night with his consort”), his engineering skills (claiming to have “designed” and “built” the first wells and water lines for Sera Mey monastery), his self-portraits might inspire the broader sympathy he seems to desperately need. But such restraint is unlikely: his essay has to be read, after all, in light of his repeated claim to be on the verge of omniscience (self-reporting that he’s on the “Path of Seeing”). Michael Roach is not content to be a good guy. He really wants to be seen as a god as well, even as his fantastically twisted humanity is denuded before the world.

Beyond being utterly tone-deaf to the gravity of the Ian’s death, a number of structural aspects of this autobiogushical performance are worthy of note. Roach begins the essay with the faux-self-deprecating preamble common among the autobiographies of Tibetan saints:

Friends of mine have asked me to write some details about my life, partly to clarify information which appears online or in the press about me as my teachings become more prominent around the world, and partly because one of my Tibetan lamas has asked some of my students to write a biography about myself. These friends have been pestering me for some years—but I felt hesitant to respond, since it seemed a pretty self-centered thing to do. But as it may be helpful to my students and friends, I have decided to relent.

He “relents” with the device of question-and-answer, lending a teacherly “Ask the Expert” rhythm to his description, but ignoring the fact that these aren’t the questions that anyone is asking right now. Finally, the very title of the essay announces it’s written “for my friends”, indicating no intention of directly engaging outsider scrutiny, or anyone who would peal back the mask of his authority. Roach’s primary audience for his defensive screed consists of his own followers: at this dangerous juncture he must retain as many current devotees and sponsors for his expensive projects as possible, and to gain new adherents to replace those who are surely leaving. He seems to forget that as the director of a 501(c)(3) organization, we are all his sponsors.


story time for the clean-up crew

On the videos of his June 8 to 17th teachings in his new Phoenix meditation-and-media centre, you can watch Roach start out on the sound-stage in band formation, with double bass or sitar or guitar in hand, and then step aside faux-meekly for a scene change, as devotees build a teaching throne for him, complete with silks, flowers, and icons. Then he mounts the throne to read and give the oral commentary on sections from Pabongka Rinpoche’s Liberation in the Palm of Your Hands, the thick slab of a beginner’s practice manual for the Gelukpa tradition that so many feel he’s dragging through the mud.

The subject matter of these teachings was chosen long ago. But the timing of the subject provided an uncanny opportunity for Roach to kill several birds with one stone: launder his orthodox mantel, rally the faithful in the wake of the tragedy (never to be mentioned directly) with some “back-to-basics” pep, demean critical thinking and healthy skepticism, and reinforce the walls he has built between the 21st century and his pre-modern fiefdom. Pabongka Rinpoche’s book may be philosophically rich, but it is also culturally impenetrable, laced with the kind of monastic ephemera and medieval folklore that Roach constantly weaves into his discourse to romanticize his adopted tradition and amplify his other-worldly authority. In teaching this particular book at this particular time, Roach announces unambiguously: Daddy’s back in town.

The obviously hurt and confused students lap it up. Ani Chukyi (who I remember as Anne Lindsay back in 1998), spoke in her parallel teaching about what a relief it was to hear her lama (Roach) “start at the beginning” again, given the stress and scandal of Ian’s death. It would seem that the most effective rear-guard action a tottering authority figure can perform would be to remind his followers how good it felt to gambol in the age of innocence, before his ex-girlfriend went mad, before his most naïve protégé died in a cave, and to regress everyone to a warm and knowing place, untroubled by independent thought.

On the first night in Phoenix, during a section that describes the process for preparing for the ideal meditation session, Roach related Pabongka’s encouragement to clean your room prior to sitting down through a story that seems quaint enough, but which, given present circumstances, carries an ugly message. I’ll paraphrase:

Once there was very stupid monk. He was so stupid he couldn’t memorize a single sutra. So the Buddha told him to clean the temple with a broom. He said: when you sweep, recite: “Clean the dirt. Sweep the dirt”. Try as he might, the extremely stupid monk couldn’t even remember the two phrases together, or in order. Nonetheless, his faith in Lord Buddha was so great and his sweeping so ardent that he quickly attained levels of meditative equipoise and insight that rivaled those of the greatest scholars.

The moral is: you don’t have to think. You just have to believe. And sweep up the temple dirt. So the idiot monk sweeps himself right into heaven: a story that might give all of us idiots hope, until we realize that it’s also an ideal story for the reassertion of paternal (anal, in psychoanalytical terms) control amidst chaos.

Two suggestions hover beneath this story. Firstly, Roach is reminding students that he was the stupid temple-sweeping monk for his teacher, Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin (as per the anecdotes at the end of his blovathon). Secondly, he is implying that continued devotion in his students will obviate their cognitive failures. This suggestion is already an easy sell with most western adherents of Tibetan Buddhism, who will commonly say: “The Tibetans have been studying the truths of Lord Buddha for a thousand years: we shouldn’t presume to be able to understand anything”.

It is this tendency towards self-imposed ignorance that keeps Roach’s temple-soiling swept clean by insider brooms. The guru’s history is an incomprehensible hagiography: don’t scrutinize it too closely. Sweep, sweep. If you are troubled by his behaviours, the problem is your perception. Sweep, sweep. Roach and McNally’s relationship was a divine mystery: don’t interrogate its power/gender dynamics. Sweep, sweep. McNally’s delusions of grandeur are a display of karma that only a Buddha can understand. Sweep. We can’t really know why or how Ian Thorson died. Sweep. Given the possible confusion that recent events might provoke, it’s best to scrub McNally from all Roach-related websites. Sweep. “Don’t take it too seriously”, Roach reassures his crowd on the second night in Phoenix. Sweep, sweep.


“I’m not comparing myself to Jesus, but…”

The idiot-monk story is perhaps too subtle. Let’s skip right ahead to where Roach compares himself to Jesus. The transcript (6/9/12) is as follows:

In the last week there’s been a lot of crazy publicity about myself and Diamond Mountain. I haven’t actually seen that much of it. But I was in Guadalajara a few weeks ago,  right?– who was there? [receives acknowledgement from students] yeah, and it was weird, because the last time I was in Guadalajara 20 people came, or something, not many people came, and then this last time a thousand people showed up, and it was one of the largest places you could have in Guadalajara to fit people. And that happened several times on this last tour, right? In… where was that? [looks to devotees again] Colombia, and then again in Mexico city, sold out in the museum of the wealthiest man in the world — Carlos Slim. It was strange. the tour was pretty strange. I don’t know about you, if you were in Guadalajara that night, it felt like the Mexican revolution was going to happen again. I actually got nervous. I felt very — especially when our friend got up [a student in the crowd apparently mimics the Mexican friend’s fist-pumping actions], I just felt this energy run through the crowd and thought: this could get out of hand, you know.  Where do you go from here? To a soccer stadium or something? What’s going to happen next, you know. And I thought “Very powerful forces were being unleashed.” I felt like that. And it felt a little bit unsettling. I was a little nervous about it. And so then I thought “Something strong is going to happen.” In Buddhism they say when good forces are happening very strong, then there will be opposite forces will come. And you have to expect it. and I think personally, this is just my own opinion, we’ve done… many of you have done 20 years of  work, 25 years of hard work, free classes, 25 years of free classes, the university is free, the classes have been free, and 20K pages of traditional scripture have been unleashed into the modern world in a modern way. And people are starting to respond: even in Moscow before that, 850 people came to the talks. First time I’ve ever been there. Things are happening, things are moving, great forces are being unleashed, I feel. And I just want you not to be nervous or afraid or like that, okay, it makes me a little, it’s overwhelming for me and stressful for me, all the attention, and a lot of the negativity. But I think it’s natural, when good forces get very strong, and it’s happened throughout history. Read the story of — I’m not comparing myself to Jesus — but there’s a story: he healed Lazarus, he brought Lazarus back from the dead, which I cannot do, and I don’t claim to be able to do. But then he got in trouble. Beginning from that day, he got targeted by the authorities. They said that he was wrong to bring back people to life without asking the authorities: something like that, you know. And then they said, “O we have to go to Jerusalem now.” And Peter said “I don’t think you should go, you know, stuff might happen.” and he went anyway you know, oh-wey [slight tearing in voice, touches face]. So just, I feel that powerful good forces are being released, and there will be a reaction. and don’t be disturbed, don’t be sad, and don’t take it too seriously. Bigger things are coming. Much much greater things are coming. And beautiful things, global things, globally-changing things, and naturally there will be some reaction in the world. The more we do, the more reaction there will be. And that’s just natural, in the whole world. So embrace it and ride it, and don’t be nervous, and don’t be, especially don’t be unkind to other people, okay. Be friendly, be kind, be understanding of their needs. Respond to them with kindness and grace, elegance. That’s your training, that’s what you do. So whatever comes, our job is to practice, to be kind to people, be good to people, do our daily meditation, do our daily yoga, study. Show that you are well-trained, by being kind and forgiving, and serve people. That would make me most proud. Okay?

Okay indeed. Let’s analyze the rhetoric a little:

— To Roach, the breaking news is “crazy publicity”. It’s not the report of a death of his long-term spiritual student in his care under conditions of religious delusion.

— In the same breath, Roach veers from the content of the publicity, and diverts to stories about his recent global renown.

— From his throne, he quizzically asks his students to remind him where he has been and where he is going. This pretends to dilute his personal agency, creating the impression of plural group-think. The interchange affects a modest tone of someone “just swept up” in something bigger than him. This is consistent with his general practice of affecting charming foreignness and naiveté, as though he were native neither to English speech nor to the postmodern world of horseless carriages, flying machines, and the interwebs. Repeatedly asking students to find simple words for him is a powerful rhetorical device that keeps the class engaged and gives an artificial sense of solidarity in shared discovery, as the commentator Cyn points out.

— Throughout, Roach uses two rhetorical keys to the obfuscation of responsibility: plural address and the passive voice.

— Roach also often uses the 2nd person address to allude to himself. The collusion of 1st and 2nd person addresses creates a powerful boundary porosity between charismatic leader and devotional follower, such that who is doing what becomes obscured. This makes it very easy for underlings to feel a false sense of equality with him, empowerment from him, and participation in his plan.

— Roach name-drops Carlos Slim (the world’s richest man!!!), as though he were the sponsor/endorser of his Mexico appearance. Really, Roach just rented a venue from the guy.

— Only the Dalai Lama could ever teach in soccer stadiums. An indirect comparison.

— Multiple elliptical references to “powerful forces being released”. Again, the passive voice detaches Roach from responsibility. When credit is due, this rhetorical gesture affects modesty. When blame is near, it affects disengagement.

— “We’ve done, many of you have done”: he colludes his own narrative with that of the group. In fact, nobody in the room has “done” what he has done, but this fits the pattern of Roach handing off his own grandiosity to others. Later, he says, quoting Jesus (in plural): “O we have to go to Jerusalem now.” The suggestion of collective movement is vague and apocalyptic.

— As per usual, Roach uses the word “free” to describe his teaching products. Access through the front door may be free, but it’s certainly not free inside. The organization floats on a pre-modern sponsorship model in which donors are continually pressured for major contributions. “Free” is a way of obfuscating/romanticizing the real costs of a megalomaniac vision.

— “I’m not comparing myself to Jesus” – and then he does, alluding especially to Jesus’ heterodox actions. Then comes a terrible irony that makes me throw up a little in my mouth: Roach reminds us that Jesus’ troubles began over raising Lazarus from the dead, but of course his own troubles have sparked global interest because he is administratively and perhaps spiritually responsible for a man’s death. Roach is colluding Lazarus with Ian. But Ian’s corpse is not rising, except perhaps in the imagination of those who believe that he died in ecstasy. “[Jesus] brought Lazarus back from the dead, which I cannot do…” says Roach. Is this helpless Jesus somehow even more sympathetic?

— Roach tears up as he alludes to Calvary, preprogramming pathos amongst his devotees for whatever storms of persecution may come. I find this particularly dangerous.

— “Greater things are coming” echoes John 14:12, in which Jesus says– “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty, the one who believes in me will also do what I am doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (International Standard Version) Faith is presented as the prime consolation and route to self-empowerment. Keep calm and carry on.

— Bring it home with an appeal to forgiveness, kindness, and service. Position universally unassailable sentiments at the end of outrageous deflections and narcissistic allusions, to make the “main message” seem sane.

— “Okay?” This transcript reveals a comparatively sparing use of this particular Roachian rhetorical interrogative. He’s given teachings in which almost every sentence is followed by a hasty bark of “Okay?”, which instigates a regular head-nodding rhythm amongst the crowd, making it more and more difficult to any individual to feel, much less express, dissent. It’s a pretense at dialogue that can bully the crowd into group assent. I believe the head-nodding itself is a kinetic cue for physical kriyas. (He might have to alter this rhetorical device as he becomes more popular in Latin America. “Okay?” can become “Olé!”, leaving even less room for doubt. Buenos dias, Geshe Olé.)

the anxious shaman-charismatic-nowhere-man

I’ve spoken with many who knew Roach in the early days of his ministry.  One remembered that Roach quite obviously had an issue with regarding women as equal fellow students. Also: that it was impossible to have an adult conversation with him, because he couldn’t seem to temper his internal mystical reverie for long enough to see and feel another’s humanity, perspective, otherness. I remember this as well: a kind of conviction that impressed the doubtful at first, but slowly revealed itself as a lack of interpersonal skills and general failure of empathy. From a postmodern perspective, his neo-Tibetan world seemed simple to an infantile degree. From a psychoanalytic perspective, he was a narcissist who had failed to develop healthy ambivalence with regard to the complexity of the world.

But from his own markedly pre-modern perspective, he was simply walking the walk. By his lights, Khen Rinpoche was a Buddha, Manhattan was swarming with tantric deities, every good thing that happened to him was a divine blessing, every bad thing that happened to him was a divine teaching, and anyone who doubted any of this was obviously perverted by contemporary delusions or perhaps even demons, and couldn’t call themselves a real Buddhist.

To begin to read Michael Roach, one has to contemplate the extraordinary clash of pre-modern and postmodern cultures that constitutes much of the Tibetan-Buddhism-Comes-West experience. We might call it an “epistemic collision”, in which two descriptions of the world and existence are mutually exclusive, leading both to mutual distortion and/or romanticization. The Tibetans have not generationally waded through the scientific or humanistic revolutions that form the groundwork for postmodern life.  How do we meet them? How do we understand their world of deity yoga and oracular possession? How can they understand our general democracy of thought? What do we create out of our mutual projections onto each other?

In my experience, Tibetan religions can speak powerfully to a wounded place in pomo folk that yearns for pre-modern simplicity, or perhaps even a renewed clarity of childhood power dynamics. This is not to demean the soaring complexity of Tibetan metaphysics, nor the therapeutic jewels in its meditation technology, but to suggest that its hierarchical and faith-soaked method of transmission runs counter to the secular-liberal-humanist neurology that most western acolytes bring to it. To take it on fully, we have to partition off about four centuries of culture in our brains. Like every split, there is price to a pay.

It is not surprising that someone with as much manic devotion to this otherness as Roach will refuse to engage in dialogue with postmodern consensus reality. Perhaps this is the root of his power over the postmodern-wounded. He is quite literally not like the rest of us. Not just because he thinks he is almost omniscient: this should simply land him in the psych ward. He is different because, in addition to his outrageous self-certainty, he lives in a neo-Tantric world in which thinking one is almost omniscient is an utterly rational possibility, and, in fact, the most intelligent thing that anyone can accomplish – perhaps because it is a world that predates dialecticism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, intersubjectivity, and neuroscience. At the root of Michael Roach’s leadership power is his adamantine refusal to participate in the complex, unresolvable, and evolutionary conversation of contemporary human adulthood. He trail-blazes a path out of the twisting and thorny garden of historical growth. He offers simplicity, and claims it is free of charge. But adherents must pay for it with the only coin of real value today – the very foundation of empathy and positive collective change in the postmodern era – the capacity to hold multiple complex perspectives in an uncertain, passionate, humble, loving heart.

Roach’s persona is haloed with his astounding transformation from someone we might have recognized as one of our own into someone out of a myth. He is not an inscrutable old Tibetan like his teacher Khen Rinpoche, who lived and died in relative obscurity except for those few New Jersey students who served him for decades, trying to catch a glimpse into his arcane world. Roach not only peered into Khen Rinpoche’s world; he seems to have died into whatever he imagined it to be, and then rebirthed himself out of it, back into postmodern life, as a transcultural, ahistorical shaman.

I remember thinking within the first few months of meeting Roach: “Here’s someone who is like me, who came from my culture and people, and then became someone entirely different. He excised every ambiguity I could not tolerate. He got rid of his cynicism: he hears god in Neil Young.” This was a profoundly consoling thought for someone as alienated from his culture, time and people as I was. I thought: “He’s really done it. He went there, and did it.”

But where did he go, really? He crawled back into the pre-modern womb he thought Khen Rinpoche lived in. And what did he do, really? He regressed himself not only backwards into our psychohistory, but energetically into the form of a doubtless child. Sometimes he even looks like a weird baby – a disproportionately large head tufted with thin strands of fine hair, a puffy neonatal face, and those mesmerizing, moist, unfocused eyes. And the constant crying of toddler-like separation anxiety, which always triggered an irrepressible fountain of my own tears. (My mirror neurons were particularly sensitive to his gestures, manner, eyes, and face. I responded to Roach in a way that I never responded to a Tibetan teacher. Are we simply more responsive to the apparently familiar?) My devotion to Roach fell apart when I realized that what I really wanted was to be a baby again, held once more in powerful arms I could trust. But because I saw, thankfully, that he was too wounded to hold me, I had to become my own father.

The shaman: Roach skinwalks many worlds. His terrain is not only flush with mandalas and deities, but with media kits and databases. He floats with ease between laptop and ritual implements. He is neither monk nor businessman, but can play both. Neither man nor woman, but can embody either. We love the shaman, even if we doubt his sanity. He can do anything: be everyone, be no-one, live everywhere, and be of no fixed abode. We allow the shaman to sing, dance, weep, lie, cross-dress, sleep with whomever he chooses or withdraw into self-satisfied celibate meditation, and generally perform all the actions that we ourselves suppress or cannot find strength to do. More importantly, we allow the shaman to do the one thing we know we can never really do ourselves: avoid the absolute confrontation we each face with our limitations, our smallness, the fact of being here, in this mess, now. The shaman carries the existential hall-pass, and we want it, badly. To get it, we leave our language, our homes, our families, our historical moment. Or so we think.

A commenter calling him/herself JOsh had a slightly different take on Roach’s skinwalking, from the perspective of his relationship to “traditional” or “renegade” Buddhism. S/he pointed out that the comment thread to my second piece displayed the political calculus of Roach’s indefinability. As apologists for Gelukpa orthodoxy attack his credentials, Roach claims revolutionary virtue: he is translating and modernizing, he is empowering women, he is healing the Sino-Tibetan cultural rift by teaching in China. As secular humanists attack how he is running a public institution or abusing his power over women, he can claim the impenetrability of his lineage tradition, enshrouding it in a foreign language and episteme. He is, of course, preserving pristine ancient knowledge and rebuilding the secret technologies of transcendence, which our postmodern alienation has thrown into the dustbin of the “archaic”. Roach squirts nimbly between these two attacks, and boards his plane to the next public talk, his suitcase folded with maroon robes and Armani.

Robes and suits are both disguises for the shaman-charismatic: his real power comes from the capacity to change between them and alter the meanings of both. The same holds true for his juggling of ancient and modern texts and cultures in general. The ability of the shaman-charismatic to shape-shift on a dime makes others feel that he is in contact with a greater sense of presence. He holds purchase on the “now”. In a very eerie way, Roach really does perform (if not practice) the instant-karma schtick he teaches: humans can be anything they desire in the present moment. And they should change, right now, for his version of the better. And they must change immediately: time is running out. Roach has insisted for decades that the only purpose we all should have in life is to experience the same meditative reverie that he did in his early 20s. This is a massive projection, worthy of a top-shelf narcissist. Roach is consciously telling his students: “You must be like me: my experience is the only worthwhile experience out there.” Perhaps unconsciously: “I need you to confirm that experience to sooth my anxiety over its meaning.”

Why all the pressure? Isn’t daily life filled with enough tension? Or is the threat of an ultimate anxiety (“I might not become fully enlightened in this lifetime”) the very distraction some of us need? In an early draft of my first article I characterized this pressure as “apocalyptic”, but Diana Alstad persuaded me to withdraw the word, in the absence of technical evidence. But I’ll bring it back here in limited form: Roach’s take on Buddhism promotes an intense personal apocalypticism, in which the follower feels as though his world is limited to a single choice while death stares him down.

“Personal apocalypticism” gives insight into the agonized pursuit of higher and higher meditative states. It gives insight into why Roach will not compromise in the face of public scrutiny: there are much greater things coming – don’t be distracted by Ian’s death. It gives insight into black-and-white and magical thinking, failures of ambivalence and existential immaturity. Personal apocalypticism outwardly projects all-consuming private desires motivated by an intense fear of irrelevance or death. Ironically, all of these tensions are the targets of a certain brilliant Axial age philosopher named Siddhartha Gautama, aka the Buddha, who challenged his fellow humans to face old-age, sickness, and death without flinching, to recognize that everything changes, and to understand that personal identity is a vanishingly small element of our grander shared story, and only has worth to the extent that it works for others.

Who is Michael Roach? Saint, charlatan, scholar, bullshitter, philanthropist, sociopath? Perhaps the most sophisticated answer is actually the one that funnels down through the Diamond Mountain talking points: Roach is the hallowed object of his own dumbed-down version of subjectivist Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, i.e.: an empty screen upon which we project our hopes and fears, and more ominously, the texture of our past behaviours. According to Roach’s own reasoning, his critics can’t help themselves: I myself am forever stuck in the samsaric loop of criticism, clearly. I am being manipulated like a puppet by the numberless cynical puppeteers of my past selves. Meanwhile, his supporters are simply enjoying the results of their past support. We revolve in mutually exclusive karmic bubbles. A part of me wants to endorse this empty-screen line of reasoning, if only to have it remove attention from Roach himself, so that we can look more clearly at the behaviour that surrounds him. Who is Michael Roach? might be exactly the wrong question, because what a narcissist really wants you to do is to puzzle endlessly over who he is, and to spend more time and money in his dream than in your life.


charisma as an autism-spectrum affectation

In 1922, sociologist Max Weber defined charisma as a “certain quality of an individual’s personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities.” What is this quality?

You could feel it rippling through the room. Roach built expectation masterfully, starting almost every public appearance woefully late, especially for those with babysitters. We sat and waited and meditated and prayed and studied. Then a murmur passed over the crowd and we stood in silence, turning to his looming frame, the extra-devout surging closer with flowers. His face was radiant, and he was flanked by floating seraphic women, like a transfigured saint in a Renaissance painting. (Christie, Ora, Elizabeth. Why wouldn’t he float into retreat with these women? They seemed bound to him in a gossamer web.) He stopped to accept every flower, but also randomly chose students to share a tender word, giving everyone the impression that personal and intimate attention from the guru was possible. But he never met anyone’s eyes for more than an instant.

The vata-types visibly trembled as he passed. I myself felt an upward rush of longing and fulfillment along my spine. I remember my face flushing and the swirl of rich and nameless emotions, feelings that I associated with every moment in my own Catholic childhood when absolute otherness was revealed in a ritual that brought me as close to god as it set me apart from people.

What’s strange about the shaman-charismatic is that you think you’re responding to his magical body, but this is only marginally true. To a far greater degree, you are actually responding to other’s responses to him in a snowballing feedback loop of shared expectation and wish-fulfillment.  This became clear to me when I saw that the kundalini jolting through those beside me did far more to rattle my internal space than Roach ever did. I think that often what the charismatic does in a performance setting may be vanishingly small. His inaction in fact might be the source of his power: he might be doing nothing at all except showcasing his withdrawal into smiling internality, a radiant autism that stimulates the wishes of those around him for their own perfectly happy solitude. With all attention flowing towards him, he seems to functionally embody a vampiric lack of empathy. Showing the pretense of giving everything and empowering everyone, he doesn’t actually have to give anything or interact with anyone He merely has to affect the glowing receipt of adulation. He is removed from human concern, sanctified and smug, untouchably serene. He is not there to submit to the difficulty of interacting with people, except in the most abstract sense. He is there to be seen being better than others.

It comes down to this: the crowd sees a blissfully self-absorbed human, and they feel within themselves the intense wish to join him, all alone at the top of his invisible diamond mountain. Psychic and sensory data flow inward for the devotee: the kundalini shiver feels like light flashing through internal mirrors of infinite regress. And the most disconcerting thing of all in this kind of darshan is that while everyone is gazing at the guru, no-one is looking at each other. This explains the strange sight of devotees literally shoving each other out of the way in reception lines. He invites many to gather together to have an intensely private and isolating experience, which mirrors his own.

The charismatic draws his followers into his own absence of intersubjectivity while playing their emotions like a violin. Stimulating intense emotion is essential: without it, he has no power. As many sociologists of religion have pointed out, the charismatic attains his position through an overt challenge to tradition or law, creating a one-man vortex of attention, centered upon his body. Roach becomes Roach by challenging the boundaries, norms, and social structures of both Tibetan monastic culture on one hand, and the postmodern western episteme on the other. This is why he can no sooner give up his robes than his laptop. The double rebellion creates an inherently unstable structure: if Roach tumbles, neither world will have his back. There’s no desk job to fall back to, no farm team to coach.

The lack of institutional or traditional stability in Roach’s corporation demands from his students complete emotional investment in his persona. His position is dependent upon the kind of heart-devotion we see in Roach’s current personal assistant Mercedes Bahleda (among so many others). This emotional allegiance must actually strengthen in the wake of institutional or humanistic attacks upon his authority. Many followers find themselves in a zero-sum game of emotional dependence: the ring around Roach will get stronger, until it breaks. I also believe that the intensity of these conflictual, split, and isolating emotions is in turn a kind of fuel for the internal friction that causes kundalini to seem to rise.

many followers, leading themselves back

The shamanic-charismatic leader can hold power, but if his followers get in too deep, they lose their social place within consensus reality, and eventually have nothing to fall back on except the worn platitudes of libertarian freedom and individual responsibility. They will define their own bondage in terms of choice. This is painfully clear from some of the comments from Roach’s supporters in this forum and elsewhere. In response to criticism leveled at their guru, his worldview, and his administration, we’ve seen supporters argue self-reliance (Ian was an adult who made his own choices in a free country); marginally relevant facticity (The retreatants aren’t living in huts, but real houses, with real appliances!); diminishment (Sure, the Kali initiation of 2010 featured weapons and bloodletting, but it was really just theatrical); compensation (Don’t you recognize how much good this man has done in the world?); and retreat (Why can’t you all just leave us alone?).

But no true supporter can earnestly engage with any of the substantive criticism of Roach, precisely because it comes from the complex world they so much wanted to reject, in which he cannot be all things to all people, but is in fact a social and political leader like any other whose rise to prominence must attract requisite scrutiny. The scrutiny is intolerable because it presents an ambivalent picture that violates the radiance of the teacher-student bond. To acknowledge Roach’s many sides would require an act of integration and accomplishment of ambivalence (cf. Melanie Klein) greater than most true supporters would be able to bear. For many have split out their own capacity for certainty and all-goodness, and projected it onto Roach. The extent to which Roach Knows is the extent to which They Are Ignorant. There are many who don’t just live in his shadow. They are his shadow.

But how many true supporters are there, really? Not a lot, I suspect. One thing about even a pre-modern sangha in a postmodern world: no-one in Roach’s sphere of influence can remain unexposed to criticism for long. I have emails in my inbox forwarded to me from DMU insiders originally sent to DMU board members that link to my 5/4 piece. I’m sure this current post will itself be sent to other insiders from well-meaning outsiders. And through these links, the vast online discussion about Roach’s fitness for service will be turned over and over like steaming compost for the integrity garden.

One difficulty in gauging the level to which consensus reality has penetrated the true-support network is that true-supporter arguments will linger in form and content even as those who make them feel themselves fall away from Roach. They will continue to espouse self-reliance arguments (among others) but they will gradually shift away from defending Roach towards defending themselves. Because at a certain point upon leaving the thrall of a charismatic leader it is less important to defend his honour than it is to justify the time and money and emotional/familial capital you spent on him. What I hear beneath the arguments of many threshold-supporters is the pain of the sunk-cost: how can I have spent so much on a fraud? For some, the sunk-cost feeling becomes the sunk-cost fallacy. Turning back on their devotion would be intolerable. Many may feel their only option is to double-down.

The most tenacious self-justifying argument of the devotee backing his way out through the temple door (sweeping up all traces of his presence as he goes) is the libertarian argument, which unfolds in two stages. The first is hostile towards outside critics, or earlier-exiters who are casting blame: “It was always up to you, you know. Everyone was/is free to make their own choices. Geshe Michael isn’t doing anything from his own side. This is a free country. No-one forced you to be here. Don’t blame Roach for your vulnerability. Nobody made you believe anything you didn’t want to believe.” This stage is a basic abdication of responsibility for the social fabric, and attempts to quell the guilt of having watched fellow devotees being abused in one way or another.

The second stage softens, and turns inward: “Well – I really can’t say how other people experienced the man, but I got some good things out of my time with him, and I’m grateful for that. It might not have been right for everybody, but what can we say? Life is mysterious.” This stage takes what it can from a bad situation, and rationalizes the individual benefit. It gives a wistful air to the general narcissism of new-age spirituality.

This second stage is what I smelled in a personal email from Winston McCullough, the first old-timey Roach-devotee and colleague I reached out to back in late April, before I published anything. I remembered Winston from 1998-2000, not as a personal friend, but as a community leader, disciplined student, and all-round dharma-optimist with whom I’d play-debated our beginner’s understanding of emptiness theory on the debate ground when we were both dharma-tourists at Sera Mey in South India. I’d heard that he’d resigned as the first director of Diamond Mountain in 2004, and had moved with his family to the Northwest. Because his current online bio fails to reference his six (and perhaps more) years of intensive student-and-working relations with Roach (an omission increasingly common among former prominent Roach students, though none have come forward with the kind of public criticism that some standards of integrity might demand), I assumed that his move implied a window of philosophical and perhaps social space between himself and the guru.

I reached out to Winston to see if a prominent former student of Roach such as himself might be interested in providing a public mentoring voice to his former foundering community, perhaps by contributing to or tempering the content of my post. Looking back on this, I don’t exactly know what I imagined he could do, but I suppose I at least expected him to indicate that he wanted to do something. But he declined to involve himself. And in classic second-stage-withdrawal style, he wrote via e-mail that he was “sorry about whatever challenges people may be experiencing”. As in: they may be real challenges, or perhaps not (too hard to say, it seems, with psychosis and stabbing and death – it’s all a matter of perspective, no?), but in either case they were issues that he couldn’t comment on, because he has moved on.

For the first six or seven years after I parted ways with Roach I felt like I too had moved on.  I pretended that I could frame my “lost years” in the most beneficial personal light, and be done with it. Psychologically, it was much easier to focus on “I got what I needed from the experience; if it wasn’t ideal for others, well, that’s unfortunate”. (June Campbell, author of Travellers in Space, describes this very well in this 1996 Tricycle interview, which also has much to offer to the discussion of the role of women in Tibetan tantric culture.) Faced with social trauma, we are, above all else, compelled to make things make sense. We will compromise our empathy to resolve cognitive dissonance. The rationalization of self-benefit often comes through turning a blind eye to those around us. After all, if it was bad for others, how good could it really have been for me? What makes me so special and so lucky that my life has generally come together, while Ian’s has been ripped apart?

What I would like Roach devotees and almost-ex-devotees to know is that withdrawing from charismatic control into renewed personal integrity is a long process with many stages. First you may feel hurt and disillusioned. You may suppress this in order to begin the rationalization process. You may be confused about how it was possible for so many people to have such different experiences. You may begin to doubt your doubt. You may feel some are being hysterical in their criticism – those guys like Remski who were always haters anyway. You may feel humiliated that others aren’t listening to your legitimate complaints. In my experience, all of these feelings will interweave without resolution until you finally allow yourself to be truly angry at the lost time and your vulnerability and not standing up for people you saw bullied and your guru’s incredible presumption and the general shortness of life, and in that anger begin to find yourself by resisting the river of power that has continually swept you downstream, and out to sea.


squeezing out of the bubble: dialogue with lama marut

Winston might have made a clean-ish break from Roach’s sphere, but others will find it much more difficult, because their professional lives and public personae are enmeshed in Roach-related endeavours. And some of them are burdened by the additional complication that their personal behaviour has mirrored key aspects of the Roach shadow-play. Consider Lama Marut, also known as Brian K. Smith, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at UC Riverside, and a protégé of Wendy Doniger and Mircea Eliade himself.

I knew Brian in 1999-2000. He’d been a surfer, biker dude, smoker and drinker, a rather footloose and roguish divorced father with a beautiful daughter of eight or nine years old. But by the time we were sitting across from each other in a Bodhgaya hotel restaurant between teachings by the Dalai Lama and commentaries by Roach, he’d seemed to have accepted Je Tsongkhapa as his personal lord and saviour. He went vegetarian and alcohol-free, softened his intellectual bravado and skepticism, and started talking about taking ordination.

I can’t say I knew Smith well at the time, but his desire for ordination puzzled me. There seemed to be something penitential about it. (Smith rejected this presumption in his email response to an earlier draft of this section, preferring to use the word “complex”.) But his path made more sense to me when he told me over rice and dahl that he was the son of a Baptist minister, and that his relationship with both his father and his birth religion was fraught with tension. I have since wondered – and still do – whether the oscillation between sin and redemption, as it is for many bred-in-the-bone Christians such as myself, is a key self-soothing rhythm of Smith’s psyche, as it was in my own.

I’m not sure what Smith did while Roach was in his first retreat from 2000 to 2003 – we fell out of touch – but I remember hearing that he was amongst the first students of the Diamond Mountain neo-Tantra programme beginning in 2004, and that he received novice ordination from Roach (and McNally) in 2005, and then full ordination in 2009 from the pair, who were then in the process of separating. Gelukpa traditionalists discount these ordinations, saying that Roach cannot give the monastic vows he has so clearly broken. And certainly for such vows to be co-administered with McNally, they say, who herself held no ordination office, surely invalidates the entire ritual. In a personal email, Smith defends his ordination as a private matter: “Taking these vows was an extraordinarily powerful and personal experience.  As far as I’m concerned, no one can “invalidate” the vows I took.”

Ordained or not in the eyes of Tibetan tradition and culture, and clearly inspired by his teacher’s heterodox gumption, Smith put on his robes with gusto, and began teaching publicly as a neo Tibetan Buddhist monk. A catalogue of his work is available here. A good example of his recent teaching is this video, which he sent me directly during our correspondence. I’m not sure whether he sent it as an example of recent teaching qua teaching, or as a passive-aggressive suggestion to me: that I am presumably unhappy with Roach et al. because I take a “victim’s perspective”.

In either case, it confirmed for me Roach’s influence over his general message. In Smith’s hyper-subjectivist message of “You are not a victim of anything or anybody, and you are the creator of your own world”, he reifies the “adhyatmika bubble”, as Hart deFouw calls it: a particularly new-age devolution of karmic theory, more in tune with The Secret than the Pali canon or the Bhagavad Gita – a wholesale rejection of adhibautika (the actions of others) and adhidaivika (the general ecology). (Adhyatmika refers to self-generated willful actions, said to account for roughly 1/3 of the total action of which experience is made.) This criticism applies to Roachian metaphysics in general. Perception is far more complex than can be understood by the dichotomy of “coming from other” vs. “coming from self”.

In both Smith’s revised bio-note and his personal emails to me, he asserts he is not Roach’s puppet:

In the academic world, it is assumed that while you learn from your teachers and respect them for what they taught you, you also are to integrate what you’ve learned and then take it in your own new and independent direction.  A good teacher teaches a student to think for themselves.  I have tried to honor all my teachers by doing just this.  In my spiritual teachings over the past several years I have drawn on my own material – mostly from my own original translations of Sanskrit texts – and taught them from my own perspective.  I am not simply parroting GMR or anyone else… (personal email, 6/25)

But for someone so interested in intellectually distancing himself from Roach it is odd that he recycles Roach’s own myopic interpretation of Patanjali 1.2, positing vritti as “turning inside out”, instead of the accepted “fluctuations”. “Turning” can work as a translation if it refers to simple repetitive movement (of the gunas, etc), but not if it begins to imply cognitive reversal at the heart of Roach’s “Think-Method” version of emptiness theory. Patanjali isn’t asking for a reversal of perception, but for an end to it, such that the isolation (kaivalya) of purusha and prakriti can be re-established. Roach’s interpretation simply reifies cognition (pramana). For both Roach and Smith to use this text to suggest a kind of cognitive-behavioural-therapy fix for general human suffering is a gross simplification of Yoga and Buddhism. I’m not a Sanskrit scholar like Smith, but I am widely read enough to know that he is squeezing vritti through a Roach-sized window into a teleological agenda that the text will not support. As an academic, Smith well knows the broader interpretation of the term. Bending it for his purposes is as intellectually dishonest as his teaching beside a picture of the Dalai Lama – after claiming that lineage doesn’t matter.

Simplification can have its value. In general, we come to resolve our birth trauma with an overly-objectivist cognitive stance. To at least consider the absolute opposite — that experience is subjective alone — can have therapeutic value, in the sense of pattern-disruption. But it is a transitional teaching at most, and one which unfortunately steers seekers away from the intersubjective, from which empathy proceeds and to which it returns, in my experience. Experience is an ineffable weave of objective presentations and subjective stances: feeling the rich uncertainty of this condition is a dear treasure of the heart.

Philosophy aside, what gets really interesting about Smith is that he seems to have wrapped himself not only in maroon and in Roachesque “Buddhism-As-The-Secret” talking points, but also in key aspects of Roach’s performance as well. Within a short period of time, “Lama Marut”, as he is now known (the misappropriation of the “Lama” honorific by someone considered to be unqualified is deeply insulting to Tibetan culture, by the way) was attracting his own students and “fast-tracking” them into advanced practices through initiations that he had only recently received himself from Roach. One commenter on my second piece likened this to practicing surgery on the general public following a weekend “healthy lifestyles” seminar.  He also took a spiritual partner, with whom he began teaching a pastiche of Mahayana Buddhism, Hindu devotionalism, and Indo-Tibetan Tantra, all under the philosophical umbrella of Roach. In other words, Smith seems to have mimicked many of his mentor’s choices that have drawn fire from both traditionalist and humanist critics.

Most strange of all, both his rhetoric and his Tiblish (Tibetan-English vocal rhythm, tone, and syntax) began to mirror that of Roach directly. Both affect a neo-oral-tradition teaching style of constant content repetition with minor variations, peppy filler, and pop-culture digression. Even his speaking posture seems to have merged with that of his teacher. Like Roach, Smith is a large man, and key staples of his performance are to loom forward with beneficent menace as he speaks, gesture emphatically with his large hands, and use the full force of his resonant voice almost constantly. It is not the communicational stance of the intersubjectively aware, or the therapeutically sensitive. The stances can make both Roach and Smith come off as self-certain bullies seemingly unconcerned with the intimate dialogue at the heart of evolution. They have the truth, and they’re going to mark it, park it, and bark it.

Smith’s imitation of Roach ends, however, at public relations and crisis management. Since the scandal broke, Smith has radically altered his public teaching persona in ways that sharply distinguish him from his free-falling guru. He announced that he was going to start teaching in civilian clothes. He wasn’t formally giving back his monk’s robes, but would now reserve them for those teaching circumstances in which they wouldn’t set him apart from the householder culture he primarily serves. This gesture was announced with a catchy tagline, which quickly went viral (Smith has a large social media following for his dharma tweets): “The purpose of a spiritual life is not to become better THAN others, but to learn how to be better FOR others.” Soon after, he published a clarification of his views on the issue of lineage purity, taking an essentially postmodern and deconstructive position of how power comes to be formed in spiritual cultures. In it, he foregrounds all of his academic influences, glosses over his Roach-affiliation, and erases what had been a cornerstone of his marketing as a dharma teacher through past years: that he is a “fully-ordained Buddhist monk in the lineage of the Dalai Lamas”. Both shifts happened to coincide with the release of his new book and its dedicated world tour: A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life. These are all very deft self-protective moves, and if his core students have enough gravol on hand to stomach the rolling, Smith may survive his self-extraction from the Roach bubble for long enough to attract new students who have never heard of his disgraced mentor. Brian Smith is like Michael Roach’s postmodern doppelganger, minus the premodern episteme: a mirror of form, content, and behaviour, but savvy enough to know when to take a new tack.

Smith’s ace in the credentials-hole is his academic background, although the disjunction between his professorial career and his Lamahood poses an interesting challenge. His titles are a keystone of his public credibility, but their professional meaning within his current role are strained. Scholarship in Comparative Religion demands either a strict non-sectarian viewpoint, or at the very least a refined sensitivity to the problems of insiders being able to theorize with transparency. Smith made his career in a field in which it is virtually impossible to be taken seriously as a scholar while making overt displays of religious faith. His credentials are in a discipline that specifically demands the opposite of what his allegiance to Roach displays. So: he is making an interesting and messy public epistemic shift, and using the academic paradigm to support the religious, when it does not. More accuracy in his self-representation would require more nuance, as in: “I’ve retired from academic life and culture to pursue the spiritual teachings that are closer to my heart…” followed by a statement about the clear difference between the two, and the value of each. His position here is not dissimilar to Roach’s with regard to being liminal to two traditions, yet claiming the authority of both. I’m sure he wants to do a better job than Roach does of navigating this thicket.

Luckily, Smith isn’t in as tight a corner as Roach is. He has never publicly claimed mystical realizations or powers. His own claims of Buddhist lineage reach back only to Roach, a known eclectic. Unlike Roach, he hasn’t bet the farm on asking people to believe he’s the only person in the world authentically blessed and trained to be somebody special. And an entire career spent in peer-review culture has evidently given him the capacity to respond to criticism, rather than to pretend it doesn’t exist. By displaying the capacity to change, Smith might be performing what he is teaching: liberality and adventurousness in spiritual life. The real test of his ability to avoid the Roach undertow will be to see whether it becomes clear that during those crucial seven years of his teacherly formation he only parroted Roach’s teaching style and content, and not Roach’s willingness to feed off of age and gender power imbalances, certify unqualified teachers, abuse his students’ emotions or trust, socially shun students who don’t defer to him, or put them at psychological risk through bizarre initiation practices.

One thing is clear: in direct statements at least, Smith is standing by his man. Here is our interchange about how he is relating to Roach in the wake of the scandal.

Me: Regarding having taken vows with Roach and McNally: is it not true that there are more than enough insider Gelukpas who assert that MR has broken samaya significantly enough to invalidate the ritual of his ordinations?

Smith: How Many “Insider Gelukpas” have asserted this? How many would be “more than enough”, and who would decide this?

Me: Is claiming ordination from someone who has been excommunicated and then going on to benefit from the authority of the robes conscionable within the broader context of Gelukpa monastic culture?

Smith: I am unaware of any such “excommunication”, or what “excommunication” would mean in the context of Tibetan Buddhism, or even which individual or institutional body within Tibetan Buddhism would have the power and authority to do such a thing.”

Me: Have your robes and lineage-clarification decisions been at all influenced by the tragedy at Diamond Mountain, and the controversy surrounding Roach’s continuing insistence on wearing robes, and his clear overstatement of Gelukpa adherence?

Smith: I have posted video and audio in which my reasons for not wearing robes while teaching are stated, and the purposes for putting up the lineage and influences statement on my website may be found within that very document.

In reading these semantic parsings of simple questions, it must be remembered that Roach is Smith’s Tantric Master, and to publicly or even mentally question him in any way carries an enormous religious penalty — countless lives in hell, for starters. The bonds between Tantric vow-givers and vow-takers will be psychologically overwhelming for some, and I imagine that we will see many similar responses, ranging from the uncomfortable to the downright tortured, from Roach’s students as they revision their identities and allegiances.

In my opinion, I think the smartest, most genuine, and truly “renegade” thing that Smith could do when the time is right would be to make his strange association with Roach an utterly transparent part of his spiritual autobiography. I heard the first part of it years ago, over dinner. Perhaps the fuller version would sound something like this:

I am the son of a Baptist minister. I became a scholar of religion to understand the nameless pressures and ecstasies of my childhood. But after many years I realized that my scholarship had stripped me of faith and wonder. I wandered through my middle years chasing empty consolations. And then I met a man my age, from my culture, who truly believed all of the things I remembered from childhood, but had since merely studied in books. I fell in love with his strange passion: I felt it rejuvenate a buried vitality and hopefulness. But gradually, I saw that like myself he was wounded, perhaps beyond repair, and that mirroring his life was not getting me any closer to the truth of my own. I realized that I had followed someone else’s dream in order to wake myself up. My entanglement with him showed me the necessity of finding my own path.

Now this would be a teacher I would listen to.


I don’t know how to love him

I’m asking for a lot transparency from Roach and Smith: far more than their public personae or personal pride – or in Roach’s case, grasp of reality – can likely bear. What transparency do I have to offer in return? A little more every day, I hope.

These past two months have provoked a rich stream of contemplation for me. I’ve had to revisit a strange and often dark time in my life and continue to uncover its meaning. I’ve wrestled with the ethics of outraging old friends and emotionally distressing thousands of people I’ve never met. I’ve been sleepless with the consideration that my reporting and opinions may contribute to profound changes in the paths of people I don’t know. I’ve wondered if these articles might cause damage far beyond my intentions: that not only will Roach’s halo tarnish and teeter, but that his charitable efforts will also be threatened, and that the Tibetan culture he has appropriated will suffer further by spotlighting this tragedy.

And yet I’ve felt compelled to pursue it. Not for fame or money, as some have accused. In this field, the former is of dubious value, and the latter is non-existent, except for a few professional journalists for whom I’ve provided a shitload of legwork. So: why? Not only because it’s my story as much as it’s anyone else’s who has crossed paths with Michael Roach, but also for a much deeper reason that I am just beginning to own. I loved him. In his apparent mystical ecstasy I felt the answer to my own terrible longing. I was obsessed with him, and in some ways I still am. There’s something about Michael Roach that pulls on all of my unintegrated threads at once, something that shows me where I am a scared and petulant child longing for comfort, where I demand certainty where none exists, where I am lost between cultures and millennia, and how easy it was to console myself by withdrawing into masturbatory religious sentiment.

Before Roach went into retreat in 2000, I sealed a strange bond with him in a public performance of a book he had just published and for which I had been an editorial assistant. It was called The Garden, and it consisted of a young seeker’s narration of encounters with Buddhist saints in a meditation garden on successive summer nights, co-ordinated by a suspiciously McNally-like high school girlfriend/angel. It was, like everything Michael did, quasi-autobiographical. He enlisted myself and my ex-wife to create a script of the book, and rehearse it for the launch. We wrote, memorized, blocked, and rehearsed for a month as a duet, with myself playing the young Michael Roach, and my ex playing the parade of teachers, from the saturnine logician Dharmakirti to the young prince Gautama himself. The launch was early in 2000: we had all just returned from the roll-over of the millennium in India, broke and feverish. It felt like the end of something big, both socially and personally: an entire community was about to lose their teacher for years, the book summed up many of his basic messages, the first great Roach diaspora was about to occur, and my ex and I, vagabonds since we met, were about to rebuild yet again our entire social and professional lives.

Even the performance venue was suggestive of an ending world. Harper Collins, Roach’s publisher, rented out an old Barney’s store that had gone bankrupt in the recent recession. We built our makeshift set around empty shelving emblazoned with the brand names of haute couture. Someone brought a few can lights with gels, someone else set up the video, and someone else brought vegan catering to set up beside the artful pyramid of new books. I don’t know how many people came; it felt like two hundred or so. We used the grand marble staircase in the centre of the main floor for the entrances and exits of the saints.

We began: I closed my eyes under the lights and listened for my ex’s step on the stairs. I molded my posture and mental space into what I imagined my teacher’s internality felt like: an upward pulse, a buoyancy, a radiant loneliness. I felt an ecstatic merging into the presence of a man I wanted to be. I felt my name and story vanish under the gaze of those who wanted to see their teacher’s life laid out before them, projected onto an empty screen. I’d been in music and theatre for years, but never had the form and content of performance intertwined so deeply with my own secret longing.

It was over before it began. Michael rushed towards me with tears streaming down his flushed face. He took me in his arms, and embraced me with crushing force. His body trembled with emotion and radiated intense heat. I began to weep as well, overcome by an abject wordlessness. I felt him love me in perhaps the only way he knew how: manically, desperately. I went limp in his arms, surrendering to him, having become him.  It took years for me to shake the feeling of being gripped and held. Years to rekindle my own heat.


new rumours, which, if corroborated by the crowdsource, may continue to provoke therapeutic anger

Many ex-devotees of Roach are recovering from a merging similar to my own. They are coming forward, tentatively. Many have been silent and withdrawn for years, trying to make sense of having given their power away to a dream. In addition to the dozens brave enough to post their experiences online (though perhaps still too wounded to use their full names), about a dozen more, who have all expressed a wish to remain anonymous, have sent me heartbreaking e-mails recounting their psychological suffering and marginalization in the shadow of Diamond Mountain. I’ve been told that students have been pressured into sexual consort practice, that Roach-affiliate organizations have failed to pay administrative workers promised wages for over two years, that Roach’s senior students have spiritually terrorized newer initiates, that marriages have ruptured in the wake of bizarrely sexualized initiation rituals, and that other intimate relationships have crumbled under the weight of philosophically-provoked emotional abandonment.

I can’t corroborate these accounts by myself. Presenting them prematurely exposes me to the accusation of fabrication. How can I protect the anonymity of my sources while showing that I’m not rumour-mongering? I can’t. But I’m willing to take a risk. My experience so far with Roach-related stories is that they begin as frayed threads that dangle until pulled upon by the crowdsource, and are drawn out and woven together on a collective loom of resurrecting dignity. Prior to the publication of my second piece, an anonymous e-mail appeared in my inbox: “If people start talking about the Kali initiations of 2010, Diamond Mountain will implode.” I referenced this “rumour” in my post in the form of a leading question, and it led to several hundred comments exposing a nightmare of spiritual chicanery, psychological bullying and sexual harassment. So far in this story, smoke has definitely signaled fire. And the smoke keeps billowing.

The vast majority of Roach’s students have taken a set of vows – as I once did – associated with the Bodhisattva ideal, a rigorous code of compassionate ethics. One of these vows is the vow to “dispel rumours” that threaten the integrity of Buddhist teachings or teachers, or threaten the ardour of the faithful. By not responding to the many questions raised by the Thorson tragedy (and its Diamond Mountain context) that remain unanswered by his open letter, Roach and the entire DM board seem to be breaking this vow on an hourly basis. If the rumours are untrue, perhaps other students will show more courage, and address them directly.

Why do my correspondents wish to remain anonymous? Because uttering the story of trauma can be as painful as experiencing the trauma itself. It is not surprising that ex-members speak in layers of disclosure. They will only speak at first in the silence of their hearts, and then in whispers, from behind a scrim. Finally: encouraged by the voices of others, a more confident sound may emerge.


following Christie McNally back to where it all started

The voice we all want to hear most is that of Christy McNally. Not from behind a retreat blindfold, nor from a teaching stage, nor in an hallucinatory letter posted online from the middle of nowhere, trying to console confused devotees. With more than fifteen years at Roach’s side, she will know, more than anyone, how it all happened, how it all works, and exactly what he has done. But her authentic knowledge will be wrapped in the thick shadow of her complex self-perception. I imagine she is far more deeply split than anyone I see in therapy, with an unconscious part feeling she has been a slave to another’s dream, and a more conscious part actively rationalizing that slavery by assuming a false mastership role.

This is why I found it so moving to read of her travelling to Kathmandu and trying to meet Lama Zopa. It’s a classic story of a person returning to the site of her original trauma: the place where she began to change and split, to think she was becoming someone other than an East Coast photography and literature student with a bright and uncertain world before her. Perhaps a regular job, a family.

It was also very moving to read that she had to stand in the reception line like every other beginning student, that she received no special acknowledgement from this strangely luminous little monk she met in this very place in the mid-90s, at the beginning of her journey – before all the grandiosity, the thousand airplanes, the knives, and Ian’s malnourished eyes gleaming in the dark of the cave.

And perhaps most moving of all: to read that she offered a white silk kathak scarf to the old man, now so frail and sick, and that, as per the custom, he gave it back to her. Christie spent close to a decade wearing white silk “angel clothes” as she stood demurely beside her maroon-robed master. It is as though she offered Lama Zopa the rags of an old disguise. And the old Tibetan gave it back to her, placing it tenderly around her neck, as if to say: Own your life. Own your past, your path, your culture. It’s never too late. Start now, from the beginning.


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.



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.


2,952 Responses to “The Michael Roach Bubble.”

  1. Jehne_Lunden says:

    What's going to happen when this discussion runs it's course? Will you miss the other contributors here? Do you feel an odd kinship with them, even if you have no clue what most of them look like or what their real names are? I have to admit, that I have kind of grown fond of you guys, even though I'm sort of the resident pain in the butt. Just thought I'd share that.

    • Kevin says:

      Hahaha, I spent a good part of today walking in the forest and thinking (partially about this very topic). My contributions to this forum are pretty much at an end, yet I keep coming back to see if anyone has posted. I do feel some sort of kinship and it has been great to hear from all of the people here. I kind of feel like my summer fling is ending.

        • Karen says:

          It's been deeply engaging to hear what everyone has to say, I've always liked everyone here. Everyone. Even though I've gone back to my other life, this has become one of the things I like to check in on. It's is still the most logical place to check for news until those investigative pieces come out and I'm intrigued by what was taught at DM. I have to tell you, though, no matter what happens with the forum – I think this story is far from over.

    • cloverleaf says:

      I'll miss everyone here. I've learned a lot through this forum– I feel gratitude toward the people here. I'm already not here as much as I was in the beginning, but like Karen said, it is a good place to find out if any new info is out.

      There is a kinship here, I think. There are many people I've gotten to know a bit here that I'd like to know in person.

  2. mthun dpe says:

    As the protector Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Strange fruit, indeed.

  3. corvid says:

    I feel deep empathy and sorrow for those most touched by this sad event: the families of Thorson and McNally, obviously, but also their students and the other retreatants. While I'd hoped that the revelation of this sad affair would prompt some deep questioning and structural changes within the community, it seems that the "true believers" have closed ranks and moved on, with little changed. Caveat emptor.

    Poep Sa Frank Jude Boccio

  4. corvid says:

    Note to DM… are crazy to be still in the Roach grip

  5. corvid says:

    Medicine Buddha
    White Umbrella Deity
    Lion Faced Dakini
    Extensive Tara Puja
    Extensive Puja to Kalarupa and Yamataka with fire puja

    Backers of Michael Roach and Michael Roach himself might ask themselves why a guy that isn't religious and lives 8000 miles from Tibet knows what the above are? You just might be on the wrong team……

  6. Sailor1 says:

    Looks like Marut is going his own way

    • ekanthomason says:

      Below is the current ACI lineup on the ACI Phoenix website.

      ACI Center – Cape Ann, Massachussetts – Lama Marut
      ACI Center – Reno, Nevada – Lama Marut
      ACI Center – Los Angeles – Lama Marut

      ACI Center – Davis, California
      ACI Center – Lake Tahoe
      ACI Center – San Diego, California

      ACI Center – New York City – Michael Roach
      ACI Center – Phoenix – Michael Roach

      With Cape Ann, Reno and L.A announcing, "we are ultimately a Lama Marut center, not an ACI center," the dynamics have shifted a lot. Davis, Lake Tahoe, and San Diego are very small groups with basically one person teaching and operating out of their homes. Also, some those three centers have strong ties to Marut. It will be interesting to see what happens. It looks like to me Roach will end up with not much more than New York and Phoenix.

      The ACI New York website only has a post office box as an address. All classes, meditations and yoga are conducted at Three Jewels on 4th Avenue in New York. So, I guess one way to make your organization look bigger is to give it two names and list them both on your website. Legally they might be two things but they appear to be the same thing and are run by the same people.

      • Ben says:

        Actually, I think ACI San Diego is basically Jim Dey. I don't think he would consider himself a Lama Marut student although he may have taken classes from him. I haven't spoken to him in a while though so maybe things have changed.

        • best stay low says:

          Jim Dey is, to some extent, in Christie's camp. He is (in my humble opinion) one of the good guys. A clear and cheerful mind.

      • PAX says:

        I grew up in Massachusetts and I am not familiar with CAPE ANN is this Cape Cod??? Where is Cape Ann?

        • ekanthomason says:

          Cape Ann is a rocky cape in northeastern Massachusetts on the Atlantic Ocean. The cape is located approximately 30 miles northeast of Boston and forms the northern edge of Massachusetts Bay. Cape Ann includes the city of Gloucester, and the towns of Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Rockport. It also includes the easternmost part of Beverly.

        • Sailor1 says:

          Cape Ann is the North Shore of Boston …Gloucester-Manchester-Rockport. It is considered the "other Cape".

    • Disgusted says:

      Marut distancing himself from Roach yet retaining the title of Lama “bestowed” on him from Roach!- Marut wants none of the Roach baggage except that so called Lama title so people will bow and he still gets to sit on his throne! – What a low life narcissist – This makes Marut even slimier than Roach a feat seldom surpassed!

      • ekanthomason says:

        My recollection is that Marut was fully ordained during Course 16 (fall of 2009) and never came back. According to the registrar, he didn't complete Course 16 because he didn't attend the Kali initiation and never attended another day of tantra at DM. He sent one or another student for the remaining courses so he could get the course material and pass it on to his students.

        Marut was called Lama Brian when I first met him and that was long before his novice ordination. I saw him defend the 'lama' title on facebook by saying it was a title he did not give to himself.

        If someone called me by a title I didn't like, I would say, "Please call me Ekan." It is an easy fix.

        • Kevin says:

          The quality he shares with Michael Roach seems to be his pugnaciousness.

        • Kevin says:

          My remembrance in the Tucson community is of people referring to him as Lama Marut before that time (
          I say this because I was gone from Tucson before fall 2009). His arrogance was never attractive to me.

        • best stay low says:

          Christie's Kali Puja was, so I am told, the catalyst that flipped everything. I was on the land but had no desire to attend and did not. Bhadrakali is, indeed, a proper Vajrayana yidam/practice, but the puja was purely Christie's fantasy. Myself, Kali puja (Hindu) in Calcutta, back in '81, 6 1/2 million people on the street, Kalighat packed to the max, flowered floats set afire flipped into the Hoogly (Ganges) River, firecrackers and M-80's nonstop…..Christie needs to slow down, stop being so self-referential, and look around…….for that matter so does GMR.

      • Jason says:

        What does the word "Lama" actually mean?

      • Sailor1 says:

        And I hear that some in the Sangha are also kissing his feet! They should re-name the center "Vortex of Delusion".

        • best stay low says:

          The first time I was introduced to Geshe Michael I stood up and shook his hand. He had no problem with that and gave me a sincere smile, but Mercedes had rattle-snake rattles in her eyes because I didn't prostrate.

    • anon says:

      These people are really shameless.

  7. Khedrup says:

    Hey there folks, get your tickets for the new round of Diamond Cutter courses in the pearls of Southeast Asia- Kuala Lumpur and Singapore :
    From the PR: "If you’ve tried many different methods and none of them really works, maybe it’s time to try a new way that ALWAYS works…"

    Did you know that Michael Roach still claims to have founded Andin Int'l with a 50,000 dollar loan and 3 staff?
    Started Andin Diamond Business, from a US$50,000 loan &
    3 staff to US$200 million sales & 10,000 employees worldwide, and sold to Warren Buffet in 2009.

    Is it just me or did it used to be over 250 million?

    The poor folks in Singapore and Malaysia are being mislead with this blatantly false advertising (proven so by Zirconia's research into Andin and Roach)

    Apparently us skeptics are behind the times, because look at who's using these principles:

    Some of the executives and divisions of corporations and organizations worldwide using Diamond Cutter Principles…
    Xerox Corporation
    Goldman Sachs, Hong Kong
    Kaplan Thaler Advertising
    The Young Presidents Organization (SG & Manila)
    DuPont Corporation
    Herbal Life Corporation (Taipei & Hong Kong)
    ABC Television
    The Shanghai Stock Exchange
    Nautica Jeans Co.
    Canadian Bank of Imperial Commerce
    Bumble & Bumble Division of Estee Lauder
    Microsoft Corporation
    Anica Beauty Chain
    Audible Books Division of Amazon Books

  8. Karen says:

    Scott Carney has an interesting piece in the current Oct issue of Details. It's titled 'Death on the path to Enlightenment: Inside the rise of India Syndrome.'

    You can see why he became interesting in writing about Diamond Mountain. I believe Scott's article about Ian and Christie will be in December's Playboy.

    • best stay low says:

      I read the 'details'. He is real straight. There is much he does not understand. He is not the right one for the job. Remski has covered the terrain with a wide view and a sharp focus, the both. Carney has not the breadth of comprehension to suss out the intricacies of the issues involved. Too bad.

      • Khedrup says:

        I think it is good to have both "outsiders" and "insiders" writing about these issues. Keep in mind that while most of us posting here have some level of knowledge of Eastern traditions, the wider public don't. So they might appreciate to hear from someone coming from a Western background with the same questions and doubts they have.

        I think the more perspectives are covered, the better.

        • Sid Johnson says:

          Much agreed Khedrup. I spoke with Scott and he had a good perspective, a lot of experience in India and Nepal as a tour guide. I think the Playboy article will be very interesting.

    • ekanthomason says:

      Well done Scott!

      • corvid says:

        And people have the nerve to tell people worried about the retreaters they should mind their own business and leave it to the professionals….jeez

        "On the eighth day of the retreat, she'd written in flowery, well-constructed cursive, "Contemplating my own death is the key." Then, a few paragraphs later, "I'm scared that I will have this realization and go crazy." One of the last things Emily wrote, in the same steady hand, was "I am a Bodhisattva"—an enlightened being. She believed she was well along the road to transcendence."

        Read More

        • ekanthomason says:

          Accidentally deleted.
          I remember reading that some of the Apache were taken in the late 1800's to places like Washington D.C. and they went mad. I could never understand it until I read this article. The difference between the quiet deserts of the american southwest and the east were too great for them.

    • anon says:

      "People are mixing and matching religious systems like Legos." Hackett says. "It's no surprise that people go insane." Khen Rinpoche spoke out time and time again against mixing religious systems. Years ago, Michael Roach decided to neglect his lama's warnings. People new to Roach's system must be made aware of his dismissive attitude towards this advice given by a former abbot of a prestigious Tibetan-Buddhist college. In any event, Mr. Roach is now reaping his harvest in ripenings found in these threads and media exposes. (The upside is that Mr. Roach 'knows where this is coming from.')
      All of these kinds of anecdotes are part of a profound 'cautionary-tale' for all sincere practitioners to take deeply into their own hearts and minds.

  9. Khedrup says:

    2o minute clip of an excellent upcoming documentary "When the Iron Bird Flies: Tibetan Buddhism in the West"

    Please take the time to enjoy it.

    • bubba says:

      What…? No Roach clip?

      • Khedrup says:

        Thought it would be nice to display a relatively positive peace about Western Buddhists who have benefited from their interaction with Tibetan masters. It does deal with some issued like patriarchy but is by and large a focus on the positives.

  10. ekanthomason says:

    Something I received that may be of interest regarding the former vajrayogini. It may be part of the force behind best stay low's comment from 4 weeks ago. "Last week in the Jamyang House Ven. Lobsang Chukyi said, and I quote, having heard her say it, "We only teach Geshe Michael's lineage here."

    subject: a note from geshe michael roach

    August 27, 2012

    Dear Friends:

    I have been contacted recently by a number of individuals and organizations who say that they have been approached by Lama Christie McNally with offers of special teachings and practices, and requests for funding these activities. I have been asked whether I endorse these, and whether they are connected with any of the organizations or projects with which I am involved.

    As many of you are aware, Christie’s and my viewpoints and goals have developed in different directions over the past four or five years. I have not been asked to endorse any of her current activities, and I don’t feel that I can do so at this time.

    At the same time, I do believe that each individual and group has complete freedom to pursue and support any spiritual path that they wish; in our tradition, this should be done after carefully examining whether it is beneficial to people and brings them happiness. And of course we all continue to pray for Lama Christie’s own success, healing, and peace of mind.

    Please feel free to share this communication with anyone else whom you think may be concerned about this issue.

    I would also like to take this chance to thank you all for your tireless and devoted work to share the wisdom of the Diamond Cutter, in programs attended by many thousands of people around the world in recent years. I hope that you will all set your minds to finding new ways of satisfying the demand for these programs, which continues to grow greater every week, and which I believe will take the good effort of all of our lives to fill.

    With kind regards,

    Geshe Michael Roach

  11. Karina says:

    Roach newest promotional video in Taiwan…it's puzzling that he keeps teaching about how to make relationships work when obviously his never did work…

  12. corvid says: The Roach cult I.T. Patrol is constantly fighting to turn the Turd on the hill into a magic castle.
    Jim Dey is my guess …fighting the good fight to make the death of Ian and the bust up with Christie a non story.It is a new low for the Roach gang. Please fight back on the talk page.

  13. another anonymous says:

    This discussion is too important to be buried. Ben, mi mthun dpe, please keep talking, we're following you:

    Ben: What about promoting the idea that if you don't like the color of your partner's eyes you can change their color by planting karmic seeds to do so?

    anon: someone who seeks to change another person's eye-color is either mad-or some stupendous variety of asshole-but probably just mad.

    Ben: So is the person promoting such an idea also either mad or an asshole?

    anon: what do you think, Ben?

    Ben: First, I think EJ auto deletes comments with profanity, so I am going change a word you used.

    If you're asking me what I think your answer to my question is, I am afraid I don't have enough history of your comments to make an informed decision. Your answer to my question makes me believe that your would be yes, but there have been some on here who, IMO, go to great pains not to criticize GMR or what he does. I am currently reading "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts" by Carol Travis and Elliot Aronson. So far, it's a really good book. One thing it says, which is something I've said, is that when people invest a lot to be part of a group, they will ignore evidence that the group is misguided or harmful. I think that is very evident with people at DM. There are times when questions like mine are completely ignored by some posting on here. I think it is because the answer is obvious and uncomfortable.

    If you're asking me if I think GMR is mad or a jerk, I can't say. I think his karmic management doesn't work but whether he really believes it or uses it as a hook to get people into his group, I can't say. In the first cases, I would say he is deluded. In the second case, I suppose you could say he was a jerk but if he believes getting people in his group will help him in the long run, maybe calling him a jerk isn't appropriate.

    One thing I believe about him, he does have a lot of knowledge about TB, but apart from that, he isn't anything special. You can learn things from him but he is just like a lot of other "wise men" and "gurus" you will find, complete with their own selfish motivations and delusions.

    mi mthun dpe: I think it's better if your question is rephrased so it addresses the principle (or the core issue). Otherwise it's too easy to be dismissive of the respondent's answer–and then it might end up being a conversation that favors rhetorical style. Second, the question might be somewhat badly phrased, in that it implicitly assumes a kind of causation that doesn't really exist. Readers might interpret the question–and therefore the answer–with respect to the word "change" ("change s.o's eye color") as equivalent to "bring into being a different eye color", which is how, in English, we usually interpret a work like "change": some force has acted upon an object and "changed" it into some other kind of object or has "changed" an attribute of the object. But I don't think that's what GMR means or what Prof Berzin means when they talk about karma and karmic results. It's more like karmic seeds ripen and bring something into your experience.

    So I think the question we're interested in goes something like this: Is there any experience that one can have that is NOT karmically produced?

    The answer each of us might give could vary depending on the school of Buddhism to which we adhere (for the Nikaya Buddhists, for example, the answer is a very clear "Yes".) And it also has implications for what we think Enlightenment is, what we think the Pure Lands are, and so on. And it has a bearing on the ontological question: what does it mean for something to exist–in some TB dialectic schools, the meaning of "to exist" is "to be knowable/to be perceived". So then the question is about the extent to which karmic fruits determine one's capacity to know/to perceive.

    Ben: No, that is exactly what I don't want to do. I don't want to muddle what GMR claims with the subtleties of emptiness and the different outlooks of the various schools. I think it is a dodge.

    It doesn't matter what you think he means, what matters is what people without the TB background you possess will think he means. Those are the people to whom he is talking.

    GMR says, "You don't like the color of you partners eyes? You go and plant the right karmic seeds, come back and they will be the color you wanted."

    In fact he lists a lot of things you can change about your partner and he makes it sound relatively easy.

    The subtleties of emptiness and karma are things I am greatly interested in learning about and discussing. But the "core issue" in my opinion, is whether what GMR teaches accords with TB. Whether he s being deceptive when he makes these claims about the malleability of experience. I think he is either being deceptive or is deluded.

  14. another anonymous says:

    mi mthun dpe: I don't see how we can discuss whether GMR's teachings accord with Tibetan Buddhism without going into some detail about what we each think Tibetan Buddhism actually teaches

    Ben: Ok. Perhaps we should focus on whether GMR is being deceptive when he tells people you can change the color of your partner's eyes by using his methods.

    • best stay low says:

      "….into some detail…..what….Tibetan Buddhism actually teaches" GMR's take, ACI 4, an excellent summary, is being excellently taught right now, nb., at DMU, and televised, too. Sorry, I don't have the site.

      • best stay low says:

        here: it is at &lt ;>

        • Jehne_Lunden says:

          "The current three-year retreat will end in April of 2014, at which time DM will begin a transition to operation as a center for group and individual retreats available to anyone. We hope to begin new programs like getaway weekends for single moms, where we take care of Your child while You have a relaxing sort of 'spa' experience."

          Ya right, chasing rattlesnakes out of a yurt. Sounds real relaxing. Oh and no air conditioning in 110 degree heat. And what are those pesky gnats that leave giant welts on your back called? Oh, hungry. Haha. They probably will put the kids to work building more yurts.

          • best stay high says:

            nah, the new crop of short term retreaters to whom the facilities will be made available will stay in the 30+ cabins that have been built. Bugs are bugs. Cutter's repellant works fine. A couple months back I came upon a fat 6 foot rattlesnake under some brush. It coiled up and rattled at me. I sat down about 5 feet from it and began chanting a Padmavati (snake goddess) mantra. No problem. City folk: please enjoy all of your conveniences. Meanwhile the 'harsh conditions' at DMU are overrated, no different from any of the thousands of clusters of trailers or scattered cabins throughout the desert on dirt roads, from the Mojave to Utah. Some of us prefer it that way.

          • Corvid says:

            Best,you seem to be cool with Roach claiming he and Christie were on separate paths for 4 or 5 years yet he ran for Sedona and left the Kali Priestess in charge. Turned out to be a great choice by Roach right? Now you are comfortable with him being in charge of more people. The present group of highly train ed retreaters (right) are not really even in a retreat any more….I think that is a good thing.
            Oh a rattlesnake bite can cost up to 200k. Cochise county gets stuck with the bill most likely with the crew up there.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Sedona? I live in Sedona and never even heard of Roach until Ian's death was written about in The New York Times. What was he doing in Sedona? Do you mean Prescott?

          • corvid says:

            Well he moved into the area…Sedona is a confused state of mind more than a zipcode

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Sedona is insular. We'd know it if a Roach crawled into town, haha. That was wicked. Sorry.

            But, it cannot be mistaken for any other city. I am certain you've been here, right? It looks and feels nothing like Prescott. I'm sure that is the city you are referring to. That is where he has conducted several retreats.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            "A couple months back I came upon a fat 6 foot rattlesnake under some brush. It coiled up and rattled at me. I sat down about 5 feet from it and began chanting a Padmavati (snake goddess) mantra. No problem."

            Will this be taught to all retreatants before they come? Will DM take responsibility if it doesn't work and they get bit? Will they pay for the medical bills? How will they compensate if a life is lost?

            Do those cabins have air conditioning?

            Tell me about the 'spa' experience. What will this include? Or are single moms so desperate to get away from raising their kids that any retreat will do? Even one with life-draining heat and rattlesnakes? Do you think some well-to-do mom will think the set-up is worthy of being called spa-like?

          • corvid says:

            I think a retreat center under a new leader would be a good use of the property.Roach is damaged goods.Sometimes it takes you a while to throw bad cheese away if you paid to much for it to begin with.
            If you go to this event and ask the right person the right question you might find DM is or was quietly being shopped.That or someone was pretending to want to sell to get inside info on possible Grape growing potential for the property without paying a expert for his time.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Interesting bit of info there Jerry. You are the sleuth!

            Love this: "Sometimes it takes you a while to throw bad cheese away if you paid too much for it to begin with." Haha. And true. Concorde/sunk cost fallacy.

          • just stay high says:

            oh, both Jerry n Jehne…, hey, I'm not comfortable with it.Kook at all these posts of mine. When you land at DMU you sign a full disclaimer and I'm totally sympathetic.If it were my spread, I would, too. Every new person gets 'Naga 1-the Rattlesnake' And, if you like, I can teach the snake mantra for back-up. Jerry, we know how 'highly trained' may be interpreted, but, hey, David is amongst them, and if it comes to his ears, there is one. May I declare him to be reliable, knowledgeable, efficient and trustworthy. The spa is at this stage but a projection. It will have to be an indoor operation, I conjecture, on account of water evaporates fast. I've heard Sedona, Cottonwood and Camp Verde. Quite a range!

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Oh, so they are thinking about building/creating a spa retreat elsewhere–outside of DM?

          • just stay high says:

            on the land, Jehne, 1100 acres, plenty of spots for a nice spa facility, an artificial waterfall might be nice, tiled in, too. Jer, Im not at all sure of the time-line. Did GMR and Christie have buddhalogical differences before they split up? arguments about dependent origination? When Christie was placed in charge of the retreat we wondered whatever and kept on building, no big changes. Varous minor grumbling. Her Kali-aspect stayed low and let it all proceed. Jehne, no, she and Ian were not in some prior state of malnourishment, quite the opposite. They got what they ordered, everybody up there eating well, eating exactly what they want. Having done a couple months, elsewhere, I'm all about it; crunchy potato chips, lots of 'em. Some order a bale of kale.

          • corvid says:

            Just…Roach has been trying to blame the dead guy from the beginning and now the crazy ex has been added to the "why things went wrong" list unlucky for him many commenters were "there" and he will have a hard time pulling it off…..Razors edge indeed….

            Christie it is now time to step up.

          • best stay lol says:


            Christie, it is way past time to step up. Get on it!

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Ian just looked real gaunt in some of the pics I have see. If he was vegan, he could have been anemic, protein deficient, or had a B12 deficiency. I wasn't implying that DM limited his food supply. I think it was self-induced, if anything.

          • anon says:

            Ian WAS gaunt. Then again, Roach was pretty sucked-up at the end of their cohabitation. Maybe Christie likes the 'etiolated look' so fashionable in fashion magazines.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            One of the funniest things I have read in a while.

          • anon says:

            It wasn't intended to be. Ian was skin and bones in late February. He appeared very happy under her thumb.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            "…happy under her thumb. "

            Sort of like how the Russians were happy under Stalin?

          • anon says:

            Ian smiled more than the average Soviet.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I should clarify my comment. I do not think it was funny that Ian was gaunt or in poor health. Not funny. What made me laugh was this: "Roach was pretty sucked-up at the end of their cohabitation." The term "sucked-up" was a humorous way of describing sunken cheeks.

          • best stay lol says:

            my error, jehne. Spa at DMU. The three cities have all been named as the 'secret location' of the new residence of GMR. Add Prescott, I suppose…somewhere up off the Black Canyon Highway…

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            OK. Thanks for clarifying this.

          • anon says:

            Roach will write this idea off as easily as he wrote-off Christie as "The Angel of Diamond." No worries!

    • Iris says:

      I just saw the movie "The Master" today. As part of the students program, the woman says to the acolyte, "What color are my eyes?" Then she says, "imagine them as blue." They turn blue. Later she says, "Imagine them as black" and they turn black. I could not help thinking about this forum. Another cult. Another day.

  15. Tony Bittick says:

    As somebody who admires your intent, I'm asking you to take a step back. I'm asking as a person of genuine concern for you and your happiness. Whether or not a person agrees or disagrees with your point, I don't think any rational person would argue; you have done a service by forcing people to look at, and re-evaluate in many cases, their view of Michael Roach and Diamond Mountain and American Buddhism in general.

    But for how much longer will your obsession with Michael Roach continue? How much more of your life are you willing to invest int this man?

    You mention throughout your writings about your "lost time" spent as a student, but Matthew, can't you see? It hasn't stopped. You haven't stopped.

    Michael Roach, no matter how it's painted, good, bad or indifferent, still owns you. You may not be his student anymore, but at what point can you really, truly walk away from him and find the peace you deserve. Because I would suggest that until you can put this down, walk away and move on with your life, you're in the power of somebody else.

    Please Matthew, there is so much good in you. Answer these questions, if only to yourself.

    How long have you been on this pilgrimage? How many months did you spend preparing and interviewing and questioning people before you wrote the first word? And how long did the writing take? How about the attempts to interview people who wouldn't talk to you?

    And now… how much of each day is spent talking about it? How much time spent reading posts like this or responding or defending yourself or whatever. How much time each day do you spend invested in this. Invested in Michael Roach?

    How much of your time dedicated to follow ups, and email and social networks – all to do in one shape or another with… Michael Roach. My friend, where is the balance?

    Matthew, a person in support of your cause would say that you have done a Yeoman's job indeed of shedding a light in the dark. You got people talking. You invoked change you don't even know about. When does the cost to benefit ratio kick in? As you yourself have said, you have done the leg work and now the main stream media can do it's job.

    Don't you deserve a break? Aren't you at least a little tired? Isn't your soul just a little weary of the entire Michael Roach thing? Have you not yet tired of him playing such a dominate role in your life? Wouldn't it be nice to wake up one morning and not have to think about him, or hear his name or write about him? Will you ever be able to live without him?

    I'm not arguing in favor or against Michael Roach, or Christie McNally or Brian Smith or Winston McCulloch… I'm arguing for Matthew Remski. Where did he go? When does HE find peace. After what appears now to be more than two decades of your life, when does the Michael Roach chapter of Matthew Remski's life end?

    Your writings, in their volume, length and masterful vocabulary scream like the projectile vomiting of a bulimic trying desperately to purge themselves of some pain or abuse.

    I get it. We get it. But is it stopping the pain? Is it truly bringing you joy? Matthew, how can we help you find happiness?

    As a person who cares for you I would encourage you to start looking for a finish line. Without something to determine when you've accomplished your goals, it scares me to think you might spend the rest of your life on this – and needlessly I might ad.

    I ask these following questions with sincerity and with no measure of sarcasm. I point that out because I'm not talking to you face to face and don't want you to misinterpret my meaning or intention.

    What will it take, in the end, for Matthew Remski to find his peace? Is there a goal in mind? Would Michael Roach disrobing do it? Would his official Buddhist excommunication do it? If Brian Smith were to disrobe… if one or both of them were to greet you personally and apologize, would that do it? Because Matthew, if you can't define and end goal, if you can't put into words what it will take to bring some finality to this, then it has to be asked… what was the point?

    Matthew we both know – death is certain, and the time of death is uncertain. Do you really want your last thoughts, your last words, your last actions to somehow be connected to Michael Roach? What a sad paradox that would be.

    Please let me know what I can do to help ease your pain.

    Much love my friend. For what you've done and for the hope that one day soon you will really, once and for all, take your life back for yourself.

    Om bolo sat guru bhagavan ki!

    • anonymous says:


    • corvid says:

      "I'm not arguing in favor or against Michael Roach, or Christie McNally or Brian Smith or Winston McCulloch"
      A Roach in Sheep clothing? Mathew doesn't comment my friend.I don't think you have to worry to much about his mental state unlike the gang in the quote above.Winston could have stopped this whole mess but showed himself by just running away…sad

    • Michael says:

      Tony Bittick-Some jobs are dirty and some jobs are joyful. Matthew seems (to me, anyway) to have taken a "step back"-after disgorging himself of a tremendous burden no man could be expected to stomach alone. Yet alone he was when he commenced this thread, and I salute his courage in placing his name at the head of the mast. What Matthew has intended (Matthew, correct me if I'm mistaken,) is to try and begin some healing of psyches by providing a forum where individuals can come together; to share their experiences, qualms, and opinions-within an assembly of our peers-that has enabled some participants herein to begin to regather their own self-respect back, while simultaneously issuing-out some warnings to 'the uninitiated.' Matthew Remski tables an opportunity for many and all to shed themselves of the cognitive dissonance Michael Roach's/Christie McNally's pedagogy/lineage breeds within the otherwise able and serious-minded among us. There's little harm in airing the facts to matters-albeit to people's egos-as those egos emotional, educational, and fiduciary allegiances are returned over to the refiner's alembic (living hells) for the benefit of their own 'cognitive realignments.' And for all that you or I know, Matthew may have crossed his "finish line" already. I hope he has, for it was a terrible gauntlet he dared to broach in the first place. May the Buddha-dharma flourish to the furthest reaches of space-time, and without impediment.

      • Michael says:

        Don't be a paranoiac. (I'm not 'that Michael'! ) Besides, guile makes me more nauseous than watching 10 minutes of the Kardashians does.

        • ming med klu says:

          Michael, I was replying to Mr. Bittick, not you.

          • best stay low says:

            ming med clue, I am replying to Michael, not you. Who built the one who once said 'Klaatu barada niktu'? When consulting the oracle, may one substitute red twizzlers for yarrow stalks?

            'Every time that Wheel turns 'round…'

          • Michael says:

            Not sure. My Rihannsu is a little rusty.

          • best stay high says:

            Ah, well. A linguistic boondoggle. And I suppose only one person knows the answer to that second question, doesn't she?

            "Small Wheel turns by the fire and rod…."

          • garcia lives forever says:

            Big wheel turns by the grace of god – it's my favorite song and I couldn't resist the comment.
            BTW you guys rock!

    • Jehne_Lunden says:

      Remski seems to have moved on… from what I can tell. He hasn't even been posting here. What makes you think he has been reading the comments? I'm not under the impression that he is trapped in some kind of Roach quicksand.

      Your essay seems a bit insincere and presumptuous.

    • Concerned says:

      Tony Bittick we both know – death is certain, and the time of death is uncertain. Do you really want your last thoughts, your last words, your last actions to somehow be connected to Roach and McNally who have even been denounced by the office of the Dalai Lama. Please go to… What a sad paradox that would be. Please let us know what I can do to help ease your pain.

  16. best stay high says:

    the one calling himself Michael has accused me (in the Pureland Email) of being too cryptic. no kiddin'
    Here is what is up: If Jerry is correct in his assumption that Christie and Ian were not full-time in their cave, then they were secretly staying with certain retreaters (Michael and I know who, with proof, no further comment just now) and that, barring catatonia, these retreaters may well be able to shed light upon their physical state at the time, their spirit, their sense of mission, their emotions.

    • Corvid says:

      They will have to live with that…As I understand things upward of 15 retreaters knew they were still there. I wouldn't want that on me…. You tried to help and the Roach cone of silence tried to squeeze you.

      • just stay high says:

        They (Chandra and Scott) tried to run me off of federal property. Scott: "I'm on the Board of Directors and I'm ordering you to leave." Me: "I am a private citizen on Public Land and I'll do what I want." But by that point it was already too late. The full Search-and-Rescue crew was there. It looked like a M.A.S.H. set.

        Everyone was/is requested or required (i'm not sure which) to keep a journal. Notebooks, binders and pens go up the hill every week. I'm sure they will be self-edited in terms of Buddhist sophistry: 'purifying obscurations, subjugating the nagas, blissful accomplishment' that sort of thing. I do imagine that some of the retreaters might be keeping 'two sets of books'. You are suggesting that a third of the retreaters knew of their continued presence, which is probably a fair figure. LC did have her supporters. Others were alarmed (or at least anxiety-ridden) by the prospect of her leadership. Those few that were actively aiding the couple (and if you are right; providing shelter along with food) will have elements of the incident recorded with 'insider' points-of-view. A year and a half to go. Right now: Do Not Disturb.

        • Jehne_Lunden says:

          Ya but they don't have to reveal the contents of their journals, do they? The journal writing is for their eyes only. I am certain the silence will continue long after they exit their cabins.

    • Jehne_Lunden says:

      Does Scott Carney have this info? Will it be revealed in his December article? If Ian was actually staying with retreaters for a while or most of the time after being expelled from DM, why did his health fail so quickly? Was he grossly malnourished for a long period before then? My guess is that he was both emotionally and physically fragile long before ever entering the cave.

      If retreaters housed Ian and Christie after they were expelled, weren't they violating the rules of DM? Why have they not been sanctioned like Ian and Christie were? Interesting how all this has been silenced and we are just now hearing about this six months after the fact.

      I think full disclosure is in order. Will it come from you? Or Scott?

      • Kevin says:

        That was my thought as well in terms of Ian's health.

        • just stay high says:

          Jehne and Kevin,…..Haven't spoken with Scott Carney. Christie and Ian were in great physical shape for yoga, but that is not necessarily to be in great shape for, or to be prepared for desert survival. The police report noted the remenants of their diet. Yes, retreaters were breaking the rules. GMR was furious with Chandra down at Jamyang for not telling him his part earlier in the month when they were in Phoenix. It is not a 'wall of silence', rather an 'intersecting lattice-work'. 'Full disclosure' is constrained by delusory subjectivity, mine included. GMR wanted them gone. He immobilised them and, himself, hit the high road. Then Christie shot her foot off. GMR jumped in and tossed them out. Christie made her wildcat decision, svadhina, and Ian went along with it……that's data, not answers

          • best stay low says:

            Jehne…the reason why the retreaters who knew of Ian and Christie's continued presence were not 'sanctioned' is because there were just too many involved. It, sanctioning them, would have gutted and disabled the entire retreat, which DMU of course did/does not want. Perhaps the hardest thing to do in Buddhism is to rid your mind of cognitive rattle. The second hardest is to be able to see through the other person's eyes, the factors that generate his/her/their point-of-view. See it from DMU's side. 'Let's get this retreat back on course." You, and I, may well question the larger mechanism. The organism, comprised of a variety of different personalities, seeks its continued existance and well-being, just like you…and rattlesnakes may coil up and rattle, but will not strike unless you step on them

      • anon says:

        Jehne-You must keep it in mind that Christie was recognized as a lama, and had granted various 'initiations' to most if not all of the retreatants. In their own minds, the retreatants were merely protecting their vows in assisting her and Ian. There is nothing any of them can be 'sanctioned' for in their proper observance of 'guru-yoga.' Besides, any purge in the ranks on the heels of this disaster would have only served to compound the bad publicity and decimate the morale of those left in this experiment.

        • Corvid says:

          "Experiment" has always bothered me when used by people in charge of a group such as Roach.Expendable components are used in experiments

          • anon says:

            Corvid-I'm not one "in charge of a group…". The Federal Government of the United States is referred to as an "experiment" by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin both. (A laboratory isn't the sole venue for every 'experiment.') Trying something that has never been attempted on a scale such as this is certainly 'experimental.' There was nothing sinister in the use of the term, I promise!

        • ekanthomason says:

          anon – were you once part of 'this experiment'?

        • Ben says:

          "There is nothing any of them can be 'sanctioned' for in their proper observance of 'guru-yoga."

          "GMR was furious with Chandra down at Jamyang for not telling him his part earlier in the month when they were in Phoenix."

          Guru Yoga seems to be an excuse to look the other way when it suits GMR. It's a shame people sincerely looking for answers had to get caught up in DM high school drama.

        • Jehne_Lunden says:

          Blind obedience? Where would they draw the line? Sounds pretty unhealthy and dysfunctional to me. Not to mention a poor excuse to be absolved of any responsibility for one's choices and actions. In this case it sounds like the blind leading the blind. This is a good example of the danger inherent in cults. People decide to stop thinking for themselves. They give away their power to someone else. Then later claim–once things go wrong–that they were just following orders. Pathetic.

          The retreaters aren't responsible… they were following their lama's direction.

          The lama is not responsible… she was brainwashed by Roach.

          Who is responsible then? Do we just keep moving up the latter until there is no one higher up to place blame upon?

          This just really gets to me. If you want to act like a sheep with no free will of your own, move to North Korea. We live in America. How can one willingly give up their right to think for him/herself and the freedom to make decisions? This is an enviable privilege protected by our Bill of Rights. What a waste. I'm sure there are plenty of North Koreans who would give their right kidneys for this luxury you don't cherish or respect.

          • anon says:

            Ian was free to follow his heart even if it cost him his life, so, that begs the question: 'What is the point of this forum, then?' I mean, if we are 'a nation of laws' and no laws are being broken…Was Ian, and is Christie, any less (or more,) fanatical than the stream of Tibetan Nuns and Monks who are self-immolating? Where is the line to be drawn?
            If Ian was actually where he wanted to be, is this the prima facie evidence that he was acting like a herd animal (sheep)? We cannot have it both ways. There's the threat that a terminal sort of ambiguity will constantly pervade the issues that this forum is attempting to rectify/correct/improve upon. Matthew has already taken to task this 'libertarian argument'; but short of religious courts, we are free to succumb to delusion within the context of a 'free' society. 'Caveat emptor' shouldn't be relinquished under the best of conditions.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            But the anon comment I was responding to claimed that the retreatants were just obeying the guru-yoga code of ethics. As to give an explanation/excuse for why they housed Ian and Christie on DM property after their formal/legal expulsion. I'm not claiming that anyone was forced to do anything. Or to not do anything–including Ian. I'm asserting that, following this line of reasoning, they willingly gave their power and responsibility away. And I find this willingness to be frightening.

          • anon says:

            Jehne. You find this avoidance/transference psychology throughout the cultural fabric. Government, business, parental and intimate relationships…This is an extreme case of the same under a religious guise. The utter ambiguity in parts of the narrative confounds our reason, I agree with you there.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            It is found throughout the culture… true. This doesn't make it right.

          • mi mthun dpe says:

            Or maybe some of the retreatants thought like this: even though the DMU Boards says one thing, I have decided to do something else and I will provide shelter and food to Christie and Ian. And perhaps others thought this way: even though my guru, Lama Christie, has asked me for shelter I have decided not to follow my guru but to follow the board's recommendation.

            And other retreatants might not have cared much one way or the other. Jehne, you have no idea who gave away their authority and who defied authority. It's not knowable except by those who made the decisions they made.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I know. I was just wondering why two people were kicked off the land for violating the "rules" while others were allowed to stay. That was my initial inquiry. It seems a bit unfair.

          • mi mthun dpe says:

            Lama Christie and Ian disobeyed the rules about violence and weapons. What rules did the retreatants disobey?

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Hiding/boarding people who were breaking the law by remaining on private property. Violating the rules of the retreat. Failing to disclose this fact/information to the board and or MR. If they didn't think they were violating any rules, then why the secrecy and sneaking around? Why the silence now?

          • anon says:

            Now who is the 'concern troll'? You are beating a dead horse. No laws were broken. No codified DM prohibition preventing anyone from assisting Ian and Christie was tabled by the board. Christie was groomed to be seen as a lama by those groomed to see her as a lama. A nice, little tautological exercise in delusional thinking, but assisting the pair was neither illegal, nor in violation of any standing DM policy. You can find dozens of instances in teachings at DM that "go against the grain." Anyone assisting Ian and Christie could give their page, chapter, and verse explanation of 'world-view' to justify the proposition that their approach to the dilemma was merely another leap of faith in the practice of 'guru-yoga'…

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Concern troll??? Take a walk and get some fresh air. You have been spending too much time online if you are starting to see a person who has no personal interest in DM's success or failure as being a concern troll. Not a troll. Just an inquiring mind.

            But thank you for the inside scoop. No formal rules were broken. Just a blurring of ethics. This really sounds more like a cult as the days go by and more information surfaces.

          • anon says:

            I more or less thought that the 'cult' here was already a well-established opinion. You opine nothing revelatory in your summation, but if you still require more 'proof,' please stay-tuned to this channel.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Blow it out your you-know-what! Then take that walk so you can gain some perspective.

          • anon says:

            For someone who claims to possess "just an inquiring mind" and as one with "no interest in DM's success or failure," you do betray a hostile sort of attachment to your own relatively uninformed pov…(Looks like I struck a nerve though.) Sounds to me like you are projecting your own need for some "fresh air"?

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Coming from anon. At least I have the courage and integrity to post as a real person using my real name. You know what they say about anonymous posters don't you? And you have no excuse. You aren't Deep Throat. And this forum isn't some major scandal. You are the one in need of a reality check and a spine.

            I am no more hostile than you. I just chose to phrase my comments in common language rather than some pop psychology jargon–like you did… projecting, attachment to your point of view, little tautological exercise in delusional thinking, opine nothing revelatory in your summation… I'm wondering when the term codependent will surface. Your arrogant insults are just as hostile as me telling you to blow it out your you-know-what. Your comments hold no compassion or kindness. They are barbed.

          • anon says:

            How do you know I am not 'Deep Throat', indeed? Why didn't the original "Deep Throat' use his real name? You have the luxury of being 'so above-it-all', Jehne, and if it's congratulations you want for having no skin in the game, well, congrats and praises to all the non-participants of the DM organization!

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            "How do you know I am not 'Deep Throat', indeed?"

            Because I operate in reality. You should try it.

            " Why didn't the original "Deep Throat' use his real name?"

            Because he had access to information that could change events on a global scale and destroy the lives of many including his own. Please don't tell me you think this Diamond Mountain scandal mirrors Watergate. Oh dear.

            Anonymous posters online, on small forums such as this, are not hot-shot important people with powerful careers and lives to protect… justifying concealment of their identities. No, they are wussies, afraid to own up to who they are and what they stand for. What are the real life repercussions for you to man-up and post under your real identity? Are you going to lose your job? Your friends? Your followers? You are acting cowardly.

            People with more "skin in the game" than you have spoken out here and elsewhere. It is what people with the courage of their convictions do. It is honorable. It is the right thing to do.

            Even if you are Michael Roach, you have no excuse to hide behind that anon moniker. It's pathetic. I have no respect for you.

          • anon says:

            Deep Throat was YOUR allusion, not mine. Turning tables like that is just 'high-school.' And I have no followers. Friends I am fortunate to know-'anon' is merely retaining my privacy. I'm not looking for personal recognition here and corroboration of my view from people I have never met (such as you isn't anything I covet, let alone need. (Blog away, though, Jehne!) I have my own reasons for making my private thoughts public, and since lying is a big no-no, I want some cover for my narrative. (Lao Tse believes in a 'good cover.' ) This cloak of anonymity saves me from spending even MORE time reliving this draining, on-going saga. But one thing I know is: I'm not concealing my identity with the purpose of muddying others minds, or the obfuscating of consensual (conventional) realities.

          • anon says:

            Your "perspective"s are all but conjectural, are they not? (Yawn.)

          • mi mthun dpe says:

            There's probably a lot that goes on inside the retreat that doesn't end up here. For example, a monastery typically has a disciplinarian who is responsible for interpreting and enforcing rules. There is probably some similar practice at DMU. At minimum, there are certain expectations about behavior and ethics that in the vows that the retreatants have taken, which are different than the public behavioral rules for DMU.

            Jehne you write as if, when an infraction occurs (say, one retreatant takes something from the temple and uses it personally), somehow people here on EJ would know about it, would know how the issue was resolved, etc. That seems unlikely.

            GMR meets with the retreatants regularly, probably the retreat master does also. Maybe they've had discussions with retreatants about who-did-what. Typically, in Buddhist circles, there are methods of "atonement" (it's a really bad word but I an't think of another now–it doesn't capture the sense of what we're doing, but whatever…). The methods might include prostrations, making special offering rituals, etc.

            The monastic community inside the retreat has a regular, every two-week, confessing practice to disclose what they done right/wrong with respect to their vows. I'm pretty sure that at DMU they actually do it old-school: instead of just saying the ritual, they disclose and discuss the actual transgressions they've done.

            Understanding this kind of conflict–when one is told by two different teachers to behave in opposing ways–is part of the curriculum at DMU (and in some of the ACI courses). GMR has taught for years that, as one advances in one's practice, one will encounter situations where one receives contradictory advice from teachers. Or one will have to choose between opposing courses of action. So, at minimum, students have had some exposure to methods to work through these situations.

          • corvid says:

            mi mthum dpe if you knew what the "Old School'"monks have been saying and doing about DM from their monasteries in Tibet and India you would be stepping back from the Yoga fusion cult…fast. Some of the retreaters have looked at Roach as a bomb about to go off for a long time but "in for a penny in for a pound as the saying goes." so they just cross their fingers and do their practice….same with the view of the angel angel going in …..look know how that worked out.

          • corvid says:

            sorry typing from phone……same with the view of the angel(Lama Christie) going in….look how that worked out

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            mi mthun dpe,

            Thanks for explaining all that to me. I appreciate it.

          • Satya says:

            Christie McNally is not a Lama.

          • anonymous clue says:

            You are SUCH a tool.

          • Corvid says:

            The board( please don't believe the bs that they didn't or couldn't know where the cave was in say 5 minutes) and the retreaters that knew on that morning something was up and didn't sprint up that hill from the ranch house will have to live with that in this life and the next. All the retreaters and Dm backers will carry Ians fate with them.Also the real possibility of additional deaths is cause to end this experament.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Perhaps some were silent participants in what they thought was an orchestrated publicity stunt designed to draw attention the great unfairness that was coming down. A publicity stunt that went terribly wrong.

          • anon says:

            (You actually 'like' your own posts, huh?) There is nothing short of scandal that such a "PR stunt" could precipitate. Perhaps you might flesh-out your conspiracy theory in full? I mean, what sort of "publicity" has the "stunt" generated that doesn't reflect badly onto the organization, and cause distress within the ranks of the retreatants, their friends, and the family members minds? Ekan, you can suggest any number of "perhaps" but without reasons (your "perhaps" scenario makes no sense, btw) you are simply fumbling in the dark…"An orchestrated publicity stunt" is barely short of raving; but it is a specious accusation. Next time you give flight to the speculative, please try to tease a little reasoning out of your fabulous imagination first. It might keep you from going off half-cocked.

          • Corvid says:

            I have heard a version of the organized resistance movement theory by nearly half of the retreatants too. Some were trying to protect their Lama and keep her running the retreat.The choice was a tough one as Roach wanted her gone…she was selling to many books and every time he saw that yoga for two book cover he just went crazy ….green monster

          • anon says:

            Corvid- Are you in the retreat? You imply that you have (or have had) "heard" from "nearly half of the retreatants." I must call into question this narrative, if only because my inside source has revealed that most of the retreatants were quite fed-up with her capricious and domineering leadership style, and were already suspicious that she was a taco-shy of a combination-plate for months prior. (Ian succumbed due to this wife's/lama's poor judgement.) If she had active assistance from the 'inside,' I suspect it was from a smaller coterie; rather than a "half of" a retreat involved in an orchestration of an "organized resistance." This handful of 'collaborators' were probably more concerned by Ian's appearance, which led them to decide to see to it that he did not starve to death any sooner than he did.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            So, Christie is responsible for Ian's health problems and deterioration? If she asked him to eat more, he wouldn't have starved? In the same way that a mother is responsible if her kids are malnourished? Creepy. That sounds like a real healthy marriage to me. Yikes. Come to Mama your lama.

          • anon says:

            And this bit of editorializing is supposed to enlighten, Jehne? (We know how you feel already…)

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            How do I feel? I can't tell how you feel because for all I know you have five separate personas here. I guess you put on your invisible cloak when it suits you.

            You call my post editorializing. I call yours parroting.

          • anon says:

            I was only being kind by doing so.

          • Kevin says:

            I must agree with anon's question, Corvid how did you talk to half the retreatants?

          • corvid says:

            Kevin ,I have a friend in Tucson as close to the inside as you can be that told me if there was a vote of who should lead DM "none of the above" would have won from the retreat precinct…her words….. The only way Roach is still in control is he dangles the "big money from Asia" carrot in front of some good but confused people.

          • Corvid says:

            anon ,this came from two friends of people in the retreat and a guy that ocassionally makes a delivery up there now and then.15 was the number I heard so not quite half but when you add in the trail builders who had to know and most likely shared the info with the board member that knew you wonder how anyone got around to meditating in peace.
            The cave rescue as part of a PR effort to regain control by Christie that then went wrong is possible

          • mi mthun dpe says:

            The cave rescue as PR seems rather far-fetched The more likely scenario is the simpler one: they made a mistake. Ian and Lama Christie both got ill; they made bad misjudgments about what they needed to survive, and Christie called for help too late. As I recall, this is what Scott (the writer) more or less concluded when he was posting here a while back.

          • Ben says:

            There is the possibility that "GMR can't tell us what to do" played into their decision. I feel it is found all over her "A Shift in the Matrix".

          • DMS says:

            Anon = Roach Worshipper

          • anon says:

            This place has become a self-referential and negative feedback-loop of suspicious minds, stilted imaginations and gainsayers continually spouting theories without having set foot onto the ground. The post just above couldn't highlight this any more clearly.

          • anon says:

            The fact that specious reasonings aren't vetted any better than they are, and any questioning of antagonisms are seen as 'Roach-approval' proves what a pity-party Jehne and Ekan have turned this forum into.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Ya, we had the power to turn this into a pity party. That is hilarious. I had no such ambition or ability to do anything of the sort. Maybe you are late to the party, because you are clearly wrong on how things unfolded here.

          • anon says:

            "late to the party"? Moi? (Still trying to find a bearing? I know how confused you must feel. I really do.)

          • corvid says:

            I don't see anon in that way…She has given information from people loyal to Roach from inside the retreat.This didn't happen by accident.
            if Roach is removed i think many of his backers on the forum (past and present) really deep down would be relieved

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            So you know that anon is a she? And even know her real identity? Interesting.

          • anon says:

            define "loyal."

          • corvid says:

            Loyal …half are following the best of the bad choices left that allows them to continue the retreat..The hardcore like David knew maybe half these people were not ready for this but hey it's Ayn Rand meets the Buddha up there so better luck in the next life…

          • Ben says:

            It doesn't "beg the question" it "raises the question". Common mistake.

            I can't speak for everyone but I would like this forum to be a resource for people thinking of or currently studying with GMR or other DM teachers to learn that many of GMR's claims aren't true and much of what he teaches isn't TB and that many no longer consider him a part of the lineage of HHDL.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Perhaps create a website/forum for that purpose. I'm sure you can find a host for free or cheap. I think it would be inappropriate to limit the discussion to the topics you mentioned, as that was not the purpose of this article. It was an open letter–left open to any and all related topics and issues that would evolve from it.

          • Ben says:

            I wasn't trying to limit the discussion. If you look at another thread, I believe we are engaged in a discussion that to some is far afield of what I just stated. I was responding to this:

            "Ian was free to follow his heart even if it cost him his life, so, that begs the question: 'What is the point of this forum, then?'"

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I agree with discussing this: "Ian was free to follow his heart even if it cost him his life." But you suggested this: "I can't speak for everyone but I would like this forum to be a resource for people thinking of or currently studying with GMR or other DM teachers to learn that many of GMR's claims aren't true and much of what he teaches isn't TB and that many no longer consider him a part of the lineage of HHDL." that is what I was responding to.

            I did see the threads that pertain to those topics. Why not just continue in that direction? Let it happen organically… as it has been the last months. I was just concerned that if you limited the discussions to only the technical stuff… differences in practices and beliefs between DM, Roach, and TB, that the rest of the stuff would get buried. That isn't your motive, is it?

          • Ben says:

            Someone asked the question 'What is the point of this forum, then?'" on this thread and I answered him on this thread.

            I don't know what "the rest of this stuff means" or why you think I would want it buried.

            Numerous times someone (typically someone sympathetic to DM) would ask why this forum needs to exists. I've answered this question a few times now. It doesn't mean I want to limit discussion of anything on this forum nor do I want anything buried.

            It seems you're operating on assumptions about me and I don't know where you got them or even exactly what they are.

          • RAW says:

            Jehne – Anon is trying to confuse you by arguing the minutia and parsing the argument to the reduction to the ridiculous. The main point is that Roach and McNally have been exposed as frauds (Roach claiming he realized Emptiness and that Christie McNally is Vajrayogini and a Lama) both of these super beings could not foresee and prevent Ian’s death. Go back and read the posts and read the laundry list of lies Roach has pulled on even his own Lama’s.

          • anon says:

            No I am not trying to 'confuse.' Nvrthlss your point that GMC are exposed as frauds is true. I'm adding details and alternative narratives to the purely speculative natures of those who have nothing but 2nd and 3rd hand sources for their conjectures. My posts here are to nip fatuousness in the bud and to clarify otherwise specious and fabulous trippings. Peace to all.

          • corvid says:

            anon you most likely are hearing from one side in the split.Good to have you on!

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Which side is that?

          • corvid says:

            Jehne, the retreat was Christi's baby and all the efforts to bring her back under Roach control have failed.She is putting together a speaking tour that will bring her views and the path that formed them to students that are now at least looking at Roach. She might play hardball…

          • ekanthomason says:

            Is Christie is reaching out?

          • anon says:

            Well, that was an entertaining read.

          • corvid says:

            wow wow and i think DM is scary…speaking of which my planned Halloween display will have a Roach theme

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Wasn't that one of the strangest things you have read in a while? Do you think that person is being serious or poking fan at the whole CM drama?

            Please take pictures of the Halloween display. I'd love to see it.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            That sounds crazier than "A Shift in the Matrix." Is is a joke?

          • another anonymous says:

            That, I believe, is full blown schizophrenia. Also you'll notice the person's screen name is falan dafa, another name for falan gong.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Sounds right. Sad.

          • anon says:

            This is biting satire/a send-up/a killing joke.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            It was very poorly written, not clever at all. Satire? Yes. Biting? Hardly nibbling.

          • anon says:

            You clearly aren't familiar with the principal figures in this unfolding story, is all. If you think the writing is bad, why, go and listen to Christie on youtube. It's part of a piece, is all.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            It's badly written regardless of the characters or subject matter.

          • ekanthomason says:

            My guess is this is written by someone whose first language is not English. The reference to fulong gong makes me guess Chinese. I think this person believes they have written an account of their experience and I doubt they are capable of writing a satire.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            That's my guess as well. I'm not ruling out the schizophrenic part either.

            I think anon wants us to think it is Christie or someone from her camp that wrote it.

            Let's remind everyone how unhinged CM is.

          • ekanthomason says:

            I agree mental illness may play a part.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Well then do it. You have been on the defense in every post. Instead of simply refuting our speculations, be proactive. Tell us the facts. Give us the inside information you claim to be privy to. Quit whining and get on with it.

          • anon says:

            You are a bully.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I prefer to consider myself to be a non-doormat. If feeling cornered leads you to the assumption that I am a bully, so be it.

          • anon says:

            Less "cornered," more 'steam-rolled.'

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            You feel like a victim? Take a look at how you attempt to intimidate others with language. Is this not verbal bullying? Be honest, now. Your careful constructs are weapons of debate, no? And calling someone a tool, telling Ekan she rates her own posts, and claiming I have been disparaged here are not forms of bullying? You are clueless, my dear.

          • anon says:

            Not at all, Jehne. You have a nice day.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I have read the posts. And I am aware that MR and CM have been mostly discredited. It does seem like anon has entered the forum late in the game in hopes to "…confuse [us] by arguing the minutia and parsing the argument to the reduction to the ridiculous."

          • anon says:

            Examples, Jehne?

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Well, you came out of nowhere… late in the game. Unless you have been lurking or posting under another moniker as well. You came off like gangbusters after corvid and best stay low posted information regarding Ian and Christie being boarded by several–up to 15–of the remaining retreatants during their exile from DM. You acted defensively–refuting their claims using intimidating psychological and Buddhist jargon to detract from the discussion, knowing corvid and many others would become lost in the fog you erected. While at the same time never providing any concrete evidence to refute their claims nor offering any information of you own. Your little dance was pretty obvious to all those that witnessed it.

          • anon says:

            You "came out of nowhere." I've never not been here. "Concrete evidence" of what? The facts speak for themselves…I didn't refute any claims-I was asking how Corvid came upon his theory, and then added my two-cents worth. Big diff. (And Ekan did 'like' her own post.) I am friends with both Corvid and BSL…they aren't off-put (you are,) by my posts-so, who is being 'defensive' again? Surely these posters can can speak to me for themselves here, whenever they feel this is appropriate, 'Mom.'

          • corvid says:

            no problem here…from being up in the cave area it seemed to me they hadn't spent much time there…made me think (well it was a DMers idea) that it was suicide pact then Christie chickened out…. but the idea of a attention getting rescue with Ian ending up not making it sort of fits too.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Well, you have always been here. That was the other side of the coin that I offered, wasn't it?

            Ya you are an insider at DM. You have real world contact with Jerry and BSL. Great. Now we are getting somewhere. So why the anon moniker again?

            Oh, and do you 'like' your posts? I don't. PS-You are quite skilled at the ad hominem attacks. "Mom" Too funny.

          • anon says:

            I'm happy to provide you with some humor, from time to time. (You are still clueless, or no?) Just click the 'rating' tab at the top of this forum…

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Who cares about the ratings? It's meaningless. It's subjective and arbitrary. The same person can rate the posts multiple times if so inclined.

            Humor is badly needed. Here and everywhere. But maybe not at my expense, haha.

          • Kevin says:

            I second that.

          • anon says:

            Ben, by process of elimination, just acquire for yourself the Lam rim chemmo, by Je Tsongkhapa. Everything Michael Roach teaches that isn't directly teased from this text can be summarily shit-canned. (Insofar as corroborating what TB 'really is'-from a more general Gelukba perspective, you understand.)

          • anon says:

            Aren't you the (disparaged) subject of one of the most popular posts on this thread, Jehne? You may not be aware of just how exasperating your talking from both sides of your mouth can be. You want "responsibility" taken by someone for Ian's death and in the same breath you trumpet the Bill of Rights, the first of which includes that 'Congress shall make no laws abridging the free exercise of religion.' (Are you a ninny, a concern-troll, a gadfly, or merely being obtuse?)

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I have no clue what you are talking about. Disparaged subject of one of the most popular posts on this thread? Do you mean my misuse of the term a priori? That is the only embarrassing gaffe I can think of. Haha.

            Responsibility for Ian's death? Are you sure you know what I have been trumpeting? I always claimed that Ian was mostly responsible for his own death. This is consistent with me believing in personal responsibility… free speech etc. etc. I think you are confused.

          • anon says:

            '"Jehne you have managed to do what not even Aguse could do…" (20 thumbs-up! You are the winner!) The most tagged post in the forum.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Was that your handiwork? Wimp. Do you think my skin is so thin that the opinion of a few anon posters makes me lose my voice? Disparaged? Wow it must not take much to insult you.

          • anon says:

            It was not. Just was noticing that you are your own biggest pr flak.

          • anon says:

            Yours is the "voice" of both selective memory and exasperation. And you have wimpy musical taste.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Ladies, let's be nice here. anon, are you a PRACTICING buddhist? Have you received teachings on how to treat others? Nobody wants to read these insults.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I'll try to behave. She is a Buddhist? Really? Not good role modelling at all. Must not be a Lama.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            I see you have been reading my blog. You think The Smiths are wimpy? R.E.M. not alpha enough? Are you a Metallica fan? Kid Rock? What are some examples of non-wimpy musical tastes?

          • ekanthomason says:

            Off topic.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Was just responding to her comment about my music tastes. Sorry.

  17. Kevin says:

    As anticipated from a question GM asked at Retreat #3 in Prescott. The retreat classes studying Lam Rim 2x a year over the course of 10 years are now moved to Mexico The preperatory lecture classes are still in Glendale/Phx.

  18. Corvid says: So Any of you local detectives with a taste for wine could nose around the festival to see if you can figure out the winery owner that was approached quietly to se if he was interested in the DM property in the future….

  19. ekanthomason says:

    anon asked me to elucidate the publicity stunt turned tragedy theory. She said, “I mean, what sort of "publicity" has the "stunt" generated that doesn't reflect badly onto the organization?” Okay, so let’s look at the timeline. The quotes come from the Sheriff’s reports and the autopsy report.

    Saturday April 14, 2012 or so – They “were camping/living in a cave for the last nine days.”

    Thursday, April 19, 2012 – Lama Christie Teachings Facebook page is created and the Matrix papers are published. It was written sometime during the two months after the expulsion in mid-February but not published until things were looking grim.

    Thursday April 19, 2012 Christie and Ian run out of water.

    Thursday or Friday: Ian “had gotten upset approx. 2 days prior and hit himself in the head several times.” Christie “spoke about a small verbal dispute she and her husband were involved in and at that time Ian struck himself in the head with some plastic piece. When asked if he passed out at the time she stated no, saying he strikes himself so he would not strike her.”

    Friday, April 20, 2012, Christie and Ian eat their last meal of split pea soup. Ian is already complaining of stomach pains.

    Saturday April 21, Ian’s skin becomes “flushed and puffy”. Christie “further explained Ian was okay before they went to sleep.”

    Sunday April 22, 2012, 0600 hours Christie calls for help.

    Between 0800 hours and 1000 hours, Christie says to medics “she could hear a faint heart beat and also of him breathing.”

    1145 paramedics repel into the cave and report Ian was deceased. “Ian died of exposure to the elements.”

    Christie is in fair condition, “well enough to be “screamer suited out” and didn’t need to be placed on a backboard.”

    The officer “briefly spoke with her after she was tended to by medical personnel, she refused transport at the time.”

    The report also said, she “was to a point of being hysterical, hugging the body and crying profusely. She made the following remark. “I thought they could bring him back.” Those words have always bothered me.

    The officer “briefly spoke with her after she was tended to by medical personnel, she refused transport at the time.”

    Friends take Christie to the hospital where she is treated and released.

    The timing between the public posting of the Matrix papers on Facebook and this tragedy has always bothered me. They went to the cave for some purpose. They were not prepared to stay there for an extended period of time. Some on the forum have speculated they went there to commit suicide by natural causes. I cannot accept this theory. It is not logical that Christie would end the Matrix papers saying “I love you all very much, do not worry about us, we are still impossibly very happy- more and more joy each day. But do send your prayers to help mend the rift that has happened” if she intended to end her life or the life of Ian.

    How did the Matrix papers get published? Christie had a cell phone and I cannot imagine any of her students posting it without specific instructions. Doesn’t it seem logical that Christie would tell someone when to post it?

    Jerry in an earlier post said, “Hell they had a beacon, cell phone and lungs…at night you can hear long distances up there.” Jerry even rescued someone calling for help some distance from his own home. Christie often mentioned how sound travels in the retreat valley.

    People have focused on their inability to carry water back up to the cave, but both of them scrambling down the hill to the other cave where there was food and water seems better than going to the point of death.

    Christie had a cell phone and a SPOT to give GPS coordinates. This just creates more questions.

    • ekanthomason says:

      “A Shift in the Matrix – Dispelling Darkness by Shining Light into the World.” After giving information about how she and Ian were removed from the retreat she says, “Personally, I started to feel like I had gotten the bad end of a divorce settlement! This land has a long history of being battled over… It felt to the retreatants like a military invasion…However, when you see injustice, you must speak out… Some friends who were concerned about us and new our plan to camp had stowed away some extra water and propane in a place just outside the DM property line, but the board had set up guards there, and so that luxury was now off-limits. Guards! What are they doing?”

      Regarding the divorce, I had no idea that McNally and Roach were married. I assumed the word divorce was metaphorical. I had heard from students close to them say that Roach was giving Diamond Mountain to Christie. Now I take her words at face value that it was part of an unofficial divorce settlement. Roach got his students to buy him a house and Christie took DM.

      How would you feel if you thought someone was reclaiming your divorce settlement, which was just an oral contract? Not just your retreat but taking away basically everything that you had, your reputation, your students, your home, your career, etc. And the person who is being wronged is a goddess. “All this, coming from people who a week ago were happily bowing at my feet. “

      I don't know what their motivations were. I only know some of the facts, but it seems possible they wanted to draw attention to their plight.

      • Jerry aka corvid says:

        I bet Bliss's boyfriend knows the inside story…He spent much time in the Mine Shaft just before the death.This makes way more sense than the suicide story that relied heavily on CM really believing some of the more Matrixy bs she would speak about…. So does she have a legit clam to DM? Maybe she is the one shopping it? Chuck,. Time to spill some beans or start reading up on the wine business

        • ekanthomason says:

          Do you have any friends at the county recorders office?

        • Jerry aka corvid says:

          Something else that still blows me away is can you imagine telling the po po the head wounds on your dead husband were by his own hand and they go "ok". The Laver Dever led Department never wanted another Miricle Valley but screwed up the rescue so bad that Ian would have had a better chance if Rayleen and the Bowie ambulance had driven up to Ken Coopers place (those are his boots on the gate) I think they and the board both are in the sights of Ian's family 's attorneys which explains why they just buried this thing. Everybody move along.

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            "…can you imagine telling the po po the head wounds on your dead husband were by his own hand and they go 'ok'."

            I bet if the situation were reversed and Christie had the wounds to her head, it would have become a full scale domestic violence investigation. Men do get abused as well. I don't even think the coroner can rule out whether or not such wounds were self-inflicted or caused by someone else. Gun shot wounds it's a little easier. But blows to the head… not so much.

          • anon says:

            On the face of it Jehne, this sounds fishy. Yet if you knew Ian well, the story of 'self-infliction' isn't far-fetched. (CM is super-duper exasperating.)

          • Jehne_Lunden says:

            Yes, I have read several accounts of his propensity towards aggression/violence…. even self harm. I am not doubting his wounds were self-inflicted. I just find it odd that the police didn't investigate this further. Her word at the time was hearsay. I think if she had died and had head wounds, he would have been possibly arrested on the spot. But ya, I don't have all the facts and am not a detective with the police department. So I don't know how their line of reasoning went.

            As far as CM being exasperating. Well we both know I am not privy to that. But even if she was a royal irritant, this doesn't justify or excuse his lack of self-control, imo.

          • anon says:

            W're all humans, Jehne. Retreat always setsoff what simmers just below. Living like renegades was not on Ian's 'to-do list.' If Ian was behaviorally compromised, maybe he was compromised beforehand, and was not a fit candidate for 3-year retreat.

          • Ben says:

            "If Ian was behaviorally compromised, maybe he was compromised beforehand, and was not a fit candidate for 3-year retreat."

            I don't know how someone could know Ian's history and still believe he was a good candidate for three year retreat.

          • anon says:


      • Ben says:

        Does anyone know what happened to Ernie – whether he is still a part of either group or whether he left of his own accord or was asked to leave?

    • anon says:

      Thank you, Ekan. This timeline shows attention to detail, and is most provocative. Kudos to you.

  20. seaperl4 says:

    Yes, thank you Ekan, very sharp.

    • Jerry aka Corvid says:

      Ekan I think you are right about this.It answered in my mind why she didn't press the Spot SOS or 911 button but used the contact button instead.If the plan was to get the message out and rally the Valley to mobilized,pull together and bring their leader out after which she brings the purge to a vote(with added information on Roach that is unknown to many of the retreaters thrown into the mix) and is reinstated as retreat leader It might have worked except Ian was sicker than she thought and the tatooed guy wasn't up to the job.Add to the mix the facts that the Cochise County rescue guys as firewall just didn't work out and that on their own or with orders from Roach the board decided to keep the retreaters out of the loop and the end result is.hours and hours later Ian died in a completely avoidable tragedy.

      • best stay low says:

        The question has been posed to me, "How was it that the suppliers failed to notice that food and water being left at the designated drop point (wherever it was) was not being picked up and that Christie and Ian might just be in trouble up there? And maybe we should 'risk transgression' and go up and check on them." If this properly sums the state of affairs before Christie called Chandra, then it becomes a very good question.

        Two days after Christie was released on o.r. from the hospital another friend ran into and talked with Chandra in Bowie for a few minutes. He was conspicuously not present at the Monday night 'Special Community Meeting' up at DMU when Rob announced that Ian was dead.

        And. Jer, you are right about Bliss' boyfriend probably knowing a bundle, including the back route into the retreat from Ft. Bowie. Neither is he a DMU player at all. He met her when he was in the employ of an outside contractor, (can you guess which cabin?)

        • ekanthomason says:

          Per Sheriff's report, "…one civilian identified as xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx. According to the information received, she brought food and water to the two individuals, with the last food drop about three weeks ago." The name is blacked out with a marker and the x's are a guess on how many characters in the name but first name has more than the last.
          Who is this woman? What does this suggest to those who know about the logistics?
          One gallon per person per day of drinking water is what we need. That means they should have been delivering about 50 gallons of water or more for a three week period.

          • best stay low says:

            Realistically, the supply lines were not realistic. "We" don't know if Chandra-and down at Jamyang across from the capground were in contact with the in-the-tsam suppliers or not, or even if they used the same drop points. Chandra, of course, could drive up to the ranger station any time, and hike in the back way, but on the Sunday he was up there with Scott (whom he must have told) just hanging out, waiting, while the helicopters were circling. It's weird. It doesn't add up. Chandra (among other things) yelled at me (in a parkful of 40 or 50 rescue service people) that there were retreaters present and that I should avert my eyes. So I ignored that, but the retreaters were too far away and I couldn't recognize them. Not to beg the question, but what were they doing out of retreat? And who got the out. Search-and-Rescue or Chandra-and-Scott?

          • ekanthomason says:

            Not many people get to take a helicopter ride while on three-year retreat. The sheriff's report say retreaters hiked up the mountain without any water and were dehydrated. The medics had to give them water before they air lifted them out. We know it wasn't anybody with horse sense. I wonder if someone in retreat also had a cell phone. Or were they expecting the drama to unfold like a script and they could tell something was going wrong.

          • best stay low says:

            The helicopters were going back and forth exactly up the center of the box canyon (Retreat Valley). They must have made 10 or 12 very loud and annoying passes. It was obvious that something was up, not just illegals, who don't often get that kind of service when they dehydrate. So, anyway, Ekan, thanks for clearing that up. Jerry is unfortunately correct, not all of these people have any desert survival sense, but were these retreaters looking for Christie and Ian or just out for some fresh air and senic helicopter viewing? You've got the one question right, but who wrote "the script", the changing and quickly, messily rewritten script? And what, then, was the original draft? There is a confluence. I don't want to point the finger. I want to point two fingers.

          • jerry aka corvid says:

            When Kat was told she couldn't have animals on DM (Roach breaking up couples again) i thought at that time that some day they are going to wish Rusty was still around.He would have gone right up that hill. Kat could of loaded both of them on the loyal beast and been back in the valley by 10 am. back

          • best stay low says:

            The 'no animals' rule was intended to prevent pets (i.e. dogs and cats) and I do know how they accumulate from anywhere/everywhere if you live in the desert. Now 'animals' is a big category, and I do happen to agree that not letting Kat keep her horse there was an error for other reasons, but then again, so was/is the 'no work-keep silent before 10 A.M.' rule, which in the summer I just ignore (by way of being up and moving at 5 A.M.), and am not the only one. There was a palace revolt during final cabin-building frenzy. The rules are arbitrary, you know 'for the greater good of the community' and 'we know best what works here'. Some could improvise "let's let this slide so we can get that done" but the Board were all of the "Geshe sez and that's it" ilk, which may or may not have reflected GMR's intention. One of the things that annoys me in life in when a second person tells me what a third person really meant (i.e. "Lama says…) when that second person, who is explaining the rules to me, is obviously not a fully realized being.

          • Jerry aka corvid says:

            Rusty was a mule.He would have been great on the construction site too. The decision to not allow the equines and the dogs on the newly vacated Winston's. house/ property was a roach trick of some sort.

          • best stay low says:

            She had a horse, too, on a friend's land out near Cascabel, and it would not have provided much of a problem, plus it could have eaten up all that hay left over from straw-bale construction that is stacked up nice and rotting right there across from your place.

            Ian is dead. The coroner's report lists natural causes. but, Dr. Watson, police investigations usually uncover only the superficial aspects. Motivation, down in the desire realm; did GMR, after installing them in the Lama Dome, even in jest, ever ask the question, "What if they kill each other" Did he ponder the posssible consequences?

          • ekanthomason says:

            On closer examination. The civilian identified as xx name is the first block of black…followed by (block of black) between two parenthesis. The name is much shorter than I originally thought. The description or alternate name is the second block of black.

        • Jerry aka corvid says:

          love that cabin…..all it lacks as Jeb called it on the Beverly Hillbillies is a cement pond… has a bed in it alone that cost more than a certain carpenter/Christian mystic's shack. As a side noe Bliss seems to be safe as now that the illegal trail is gone the men with guns and the drugged out mules that work for them are coming through to the east of us again…. Oh on the food angle the retreaters just shared with them……

          • best stay low says:

            ekan; actually, being then still spring, 2 quarts of water each per day would have been enough, but it is still a lot of weight to haul uphill. I kinda gotta go with Jer here, that they were either coming down for meals or just staying secretly with retreaters indoors….By Tibetan standards this is no way a 'legitimate' retreat, but then, again, FPMT has an ongoing 'deep-retreat center' with 5 or 6 long term meditators at the moment, and they do, as the caretaker told me, several pujas every month and have group work projects, so that ain't any more legit than DMU's.

            I didn't know about the big bed, Jer, just the fancy tile floor, and there is even a Buddhist precept that one should not sleep in a 'high bed', thus exhibiting pretensions to royalty (gosh, no)….

            no, Jehne, the retreaters are not especially suffering under harsh conditions ('cept a year and a half ago now when the freeze cracked the pipes and the water was off 'til Nicole, who is awesome, got everything back in running order).

  21. ekanthomason says:

    Scott's article has been delayed until the spring.

  22. cloverleaf says:

    Okay. Thanks anyway.

  23. PAX says:

    If this photo was taken in the spring of 2012 it does prove they were not living in the cave the whole time. Does anyone recognize where it was taken?

    • Snooki says:

      The press got this one wrong. If this photo is from 'Spring 2012' , the couple weren't at DM. (That looks like a beach shack on L.I. behind them.)

      • ekanthomason says:

        The Medical Examiner's Report: "Circumstances of death. Mr. Thorson, a 38-year-old man, and his wife were camping/living in a cave for the last nine days eating berries. He was having stomach pains and they ran out of water three days prior."

        Sheriff's Report: "One civilian identified as x x. According to the information received, she brought food and water to the two individuals, with the last food drop about three weeks ago."

        The term 'last food drop' implies it was an ongoing process. At the very least, the reports indicate they were in the area at for the month of April.

        If they left for a period of time in March, why did they return?

        Where the photo is displayed on the web, the caption says it was taken in May 2012. We know that didn't happen. Maybe that is why ABC said spring 2012.

      • derek rose says:

        Yeah, they took that photo from my flickr stream, but I had taken it from elsewhere on flickr. I can't remember where, but it certainly from spring 2012.

  24. Noodlebowl says:

    To Sid and others:

    Fact check the casualty reports from Wilber World. . KW has endorsed Andrew Cohen, Genpo Roshi/merzel and Marc Gafni.

    And earlier he endorsed Adi Da/Da Free John. Wilber never lived under any guru yet presumed to endorse them to others–and kept picking abusive ones to endorse.

  25. noodlebowl says:

    Info on Ken Wilber and his predilection for abusive gurus here;

    These are all persons less capable of handling idealizing projections than Roach.

  26. Jerry aka corvid says:

    Seven monks have died this month.Michael Roach should stop going on his China tours.His trips are allowed by China to hurt Tibet independence efforts..Next thing you know he will try to get close to Putin controlled criminal gas extraction companies in Russia that murder as part of a efficient business plan….oops to late the DM team is already on it

    • Red Rock says:

      But there is so much more dumb money in Asia these days. And members of totalitarian societies are used to believing and doing just what they are told to. And since their languages aren't in Arabic letters, they cannot make sense of the Elephant Journal anyway! All-in-all it's a big win for The Roachians.

    • best stay low says:

      ok so the rationale is that he is teaching 'karmic management' and that one not-disagreable aspect of karmic management is 'compassion yoga' and that some of it will rub off on these greedy hoods to the extent that working conditions and ethics improve. …It's a thot….

  27. ming med klu says:

    So, to sum up, Michael Roach is a deceitful, lecherous, egomaniacal charlatan who has disgraced himself and the “lineage of the Dalai Lamas”, Christie McNally is a deranged yoga girl who doesn’t seem to be in the dispelling untruth business anymore and Ian Thorson is dead.

    • Corvid says:

      People doubt me when I tell a few of the stories…this gives the early retreat story…4 woman and one geshe dancing in panty hose….woohoo

      • Kevin Schroder says:

        Problem is Jerry, that it is always the same problem… people need to step the fuck up and take responsibility for their words. Writing, no matter how inflammatory, means nothing if people aren't willing to back up their statements. In other words — it would be a great link if the people associated would gain the love and nerve to own up to their statements. Oh, and please don't try to tell me that they feel threatened by the DM mafia, fuck that shit, courage is about not letting the bullies win.

        • Kevin Schroder says:

          "In order to protect the ladies concerned, we will not publish their names, apart from that of Christie McNally who now openly in a physical relationship with Geshe Michael Roach."… How is this protecting? Name the names if it is what you're saying.

          • Corvid says:

            kevin it is odd how some people like Ben Brewer who thinks Roach is flat out afraud…Kedran never has said anything publicly,Winston…the wuss list goes on and on ..If they would have spoken up after the first fake retreat a lot of people wouldn't be where they are nowMichael in town here has been great speaking the truth

            Oh…armed smugglers are in the area now….helicopters and law 3 nights in a row

    • Jerry says:

      playboy story coming out on the 19th….did he get the rumored Roach dancing in panty hose picture?

  28. John Johnson says:

    Why not cut all the pseudo-spiritual rhetoric and state the plain truth. This is a cult and Ian's participation in it eventually led to his demise. As a therapist and former cult member, I understand much about cult dynamics and programming that rob individuals of their personal power and ability to think for themselves. In cults, there is always power and control by the leaders over followers. It is sometimes subtle and seldom seen as such by members of the cult. Roach clearly abused his power over others and has many characteristics of a narcissistic personality, which by the way is a common personality trait of cult leaders. It is unfortunate that Christie McNally believed all of Roach's delusional stories that she was the reincarnation of some goddess. Also unfortunate, that Ian had given up his power first to Roach and then to his wife, McNally. This hardly can be called Love in any sense of the word. It is unhealthy and more likely a form of co-dependency. One of the greatest pitfalls of persons on a spiritual search or path is to look for spiritual solutions to problems that are mental-emotional in nature. This kind of blindness caused a whole series of poor choices among all the cult members that led eventually to Ian's death. You cannot place the responsibility on any one person in a cult because of the group think of cult environments. But surely, Roach, as their founder and leader shares in the responsibility for Ian's death. Michael Roach started the organization and like any religious or spiritual leader, he automatically assumes responsibility for the well being of his followers, congregation, flock, whatever terms you want to use. The sad thing is that Roach and many of his followers may never wake up and see the cult they are living in. And they are not likely to accept any responsibility for the death of one of their "inner circle". Such is the nature of denial and delusion.

    • Zirconia says:

      Any supporting evidence for your claim that "Ian had given up his power first to Roach and then to his wife, McNally"? Your other statement about the nature of Ian's and Christie's love/relationship seems to be equally speculative, and more importantly, uncalled for.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ian's Mom told ABC news that the family had attempted a 'deprogramming' of Ian from Roach's program. This was attempted over 10 years ago.

      • another anonymous says:

        John Johnson's post may be painful to read, Zirconia, but all of this has been clearly established. Also, there's a well researched Psychology Today article that may already be out that gets into this in detail.

        • Zirconia says:

          Not painful to me, but perhaps to Ian's loved ones who might browse this forum and see Johnson spoke ill of their son/brother/friend without cause. Dead people are not necessarily beyond reproach, but it's unfair/unseeming to pass judgement on a dead man without good reason or proof. Not much "has been clearly established" other than the fact that Roach is a liar.

          • another anonymous says:

            He's more kind than most of the other people have been here, including Matthew, at times. You haven't had a problem with that before. Why does this post get under your skin?

          • Zirconia says:

            I think you're thinking of Sid Johnson, who has been a cool guy. John Johnson is a new commenter.

          • Anonymous says:

            how do you know JJ is "new"? Your credulity seems selective here.

      • Shoemaker says:

        Your arguments are to be forgiven if you had never met these people. If you have, then you are trolling. There's not much middle-ground to assert Christie and Ian's relationship wasn't distasteful and problematic for those aware of the personalities involved…Alcohol and tobacco consumption sky-rocketed at Diamond Mountain in the wake of the split-up and subsequent 'union-of-the-two-as-one' bullshit.

        • Zirconia says:

          You're forgiven for being late in joining the forum and providing insider's info that's yet to be corroborated.

          • best stay low says:

            I'll help that along, the corroboration part. And don't forget all the break-ups and partner changes….some just can't keep samaya….it has happenened even during/inside the retreat…

  29. Jerry aka Corvid says:
    I was looking for The Psychology today story about the Ian and his bad Lamas and came across this blog. Man ,when I here my liberal friends talk smack about the Mormon fantasy world.anti science,back to the middle ages evil Republican base I have to remind them that ,for example the fine liberal crew at Diamond Mountain believe crazier shit and are most likely Obama voters. What is a poor secular humanist living in the middle of nowhere to do these days?

  30. best stay low says:

    Zirconia, drooling sarcasm and credulity, you have broached the obvious: (You don't mean to tell me that..) "Ian was programmed to take Christie from right under Roach's nose." Oops, Anonymous gives the wrong answer, "Ian was certainly not discouraged from doing that. No sir." Now, sir, this brief and not unruly thought contains more subtle awareness than most of the rest of the forum put together. I am costrained by a vow taken some months ago on a sunny Saturday morning at the Gringo Grill in Bowie, from further assessment of this aspect, however, the premise having been clearly stated, I would like to ensure that none under-emphasize over overlook its importance in this. Proceed from here.

    (and, Jer, wait'll you see the Psy. T'day article. You're gonna flip. Please do it here in public.)

    • Ben says:

      Beside every beautiful woman is a Buddhist monk totally bored with what he would have once broken his monks vows for.

    • Kevin says:

      Zirconia asked a question, he didn't make a statement , "Was Ian programmed to take Christie from right under Roach's nose?", suggesting the possibility that Ian maintained more personal agency than that of a spiritual puppy. But, by saying "…Ian was certainly not discouraged…" that's a puppy of a different sort (or different person?). Oh, and by puppy metaphor I don't mean any ill will — we all get our chains yanked at different times.

    • Jerry aka Corvid says:

      hmm…any vow taken in the Arizona sun doesn't count….I figured when I met Ian at the quarry he was just enjoying the day.Then thinking back to the woman hiking up that way (nobody hikes that way) i was thinking he was fooling around ..Now with this new info could it have been a yogini secret agent in the plot to get her out of Roach's life coming to give him orders?

      • best stay low says:

        ….."Arizona, kick off your disco shoes"…I wuz basking in the shade of the big umbrella that Mody had dragged into place…true vajrayoginis have the power of invisibility…maybe you saw the even more elusive 'yogini-instructor' (nobody hikes that way no kiddin'!). There was that 'used Durango SUV'. That candy-apple red monster known as Beowulf, but you woulda seen it….

        • ekanthomason says:

          I am ready to turn the reams of Roach papers and books into post consumer products. He said these words had the power to transform and I am about to prove it.

          • best stay low says:

            Wow! Ekan! Hang in there! Origami. Paper airplanes. There's options. (They make great slurry for adobe bricks, lama-dome quality even, but the mixer kept clogging….

          • Nanda says:

            About the Psychology Today article. It doesn't seem to say anything new. I wonder why Ian's first wife and child are not mentioned.
            Also, I wonder why nobody tries to contact the nun, one of the four women on the first retreat with Michael Roach, to ask her what happened during the retreat and what she feels about it now. Maybe if she had spoken out back then, none of this would have happened.

          • Zirconia says:

            There seem to be some inaccuracies, but it was an informative article, at least to an outsider like me. The nun was Pelma… and this is her 2nd retreat

          • ekanthomason says:

            Nanda may be referring to one of the first retreat women who left Roach after the retreat and became a nun with FPMT. There were actually 5 full-time women in retreat. The word on this forum was that there were some part-time women as well.

          • Zirconia says:

            That would be Petra who wrote about the 1st retreat in this article… She seems to indicate her disapproval of Roach by not including him as her teacher in her biography Ordained as Ven. Tenzin Chogkyi (not the current Chukyi at DM), she has moved on and appears to be doing great.

          • Karen says:

            Thanks for posting that, best stay low, doesn't that site have an odd bootleg feel to it, though? I see the writer's name is misspelled as Jeuse Ryde instead of Jesse Hyde, I'm still going to buy a copy of Psychology Today.

            The article is quite good, I thought, very fair and compassionate. He pulled together a lot of the things we had discussed here and wrote about Ian in a generous and empathetic way. For anyone who hasn't read the forum in real time this will give them a sense of how events unfolded.

            Nanda, don't you wonder sometimes why so few people have spoken out? All those people at the initiations, all those people who saw things… There seems to be a culture of secrecy here. I just don't understand it.

          • Karen says:

            By the way, best stay low, I heard from a monk friend that HHDL has requested that the Geshes teaching at Nalanda in the South of France (a Gelug monastery) start to teach Lam Rim from the wonderful Nyingma book 'Words of My Perfect Teacher' by Patrul Rinpoche. Have you read it? It's a lovely book and has a warmth that balances out 'Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand'.

            Both are good, but I think this is an effort to get rid of sectarianism and just teach from good sources. Thought you might be interested since I know you love to read.

          • Kevin says:

            There seems to be a problem with the titles and bold section of the article — a formatting compatibility issue perhaps. The textual body and signature at end of piece seem fine.

          • Karen says:

            Hi Kevin, It has quite an off the grid look, doesn't it? Doesn't look like an authorized version. It's the misspelling of the author's name that weird. I haven't been able to find the magazine on newsstands yet, have you?

          • Kevin says:

            Def doesn't look like an authoritative version. I haven't looked for the mag yet. And, I'll have to check out the above-mentioned text.

          • Kevin says:

            The article seems pretty good except for a couple of places where timeline could be mis-construed and the quote from Ekan seems only to be a partial quote in that "wild" is left up to the imagination.

          • Karen says:

            He's a good writer, thoughtful and willing to take on difficult topics.

            It must be hard to immerse yourself in a completely unfamiliar subject, produce a piece of authoritative writing, then move on to a new subject. We are so close to this, but many of Psychology Today's readers may not even have heard of Michael Roach or Christie before this article. I think he did a great job.

  31. Jerry aka corvid says:

    is it Safe yet? No not really…300 lbs of week seized from a guy that put up a fight with the ranger 100 yards east of my ranch.He ran North and The other guys went back the way they came..retreat valley bear springs y.. So heads up…they may still be around

  32. Jerry says:

    separated at birth ….Roach and General Petraeus,geeky looking 60 year old Princeton men with a preditorial self destructive sexual need that ruins their over hyped careers .Only one body bag so far.

  33. Zirconia says:

    The Deceptive Reality of Geshe Michael Roach

    In a talk at his alma mater, Roach told fellow Princetonians that he had not known what the internet was when he emerged from retreat:

    I went into three year retreat … and then when I came out, I asked the people taking care of me … "I came out of retreat, I don't have a penny". You've to give up all your money when you come into retreat, so I came out of retreat with nothing. And then I said, "Can you at least get me to Tucson, and I'll work it out from there." "No, no, Geshe-la, we've been collecting money for you, here's some money, you'll be OK for a couple of months, don't worry". Then I said, "OK, can I have a laptop? And she said, "OK, we'll get you a laptop." So she got me a laptop … and looking at it, I'm like, "I thought she was a pretty generous person" and then I looked at the laptop and said, "This is weird, I guess she's really hard up for money, she couldn't find anybody to help". She said, "What's wrong?" and I said, "Frankly, it's a cheap laptop." And she said, "What's wrong with it?" I said, "It doesn't even have a floppy disk drive. Where do you put the floppy disk?" She's like, "Geshe-la, they don't make those anymore." And I'm like, "How do you get a file from one place to another? What do you do if you can't send a floppy disk in the mail, in an envelope?" She's like, "Geshe-la, I've got to tell you about this thing called the internet." And I'm like, "What's internet?" And she said, "Well, it's a new way to send stuff to people, like you would just send a file across the internet … "Gosh, it must cost a fortune" … "How many days does it take to get there?" "No, Geshe-la, you don't understand, it's free … you can send a message to anybody in the world for free, instanteneously" … We would say the seeds of being in a deep retreat created the internet for me, OK? We'd say that the intention with which we started a thousand days of practice, you know, we were trying to do something good for the world, we were trying to help the world, so then the result of that is that I come out and there's this thing called the internet.

    It's a cute story except for the fact that the internet had already been available to Roach and millions of people, years before the supposed ripening of "the seeds of being in a deep retreat". Roach would have been well aware of email and the internet when entering retreat in 3/2000:

    1) Netscape web browser was launched in 1994.
    2) Hotmail was launched in 1996; Yahoo Mail in 1997.
    3) was registered on 08-Mar-1996.
    4) The website for his Asian Classics Input Project, was registered on 10-Sep-1997 , on 24-Dec-1997,*/http://diamondmt… on 16-Aug-1999.
    5) In the Diamond Cutter, first released in 2/2000, Roach wrote, "The Input Project has trained Tibetan refugees in camps in India to type these endangered books onto computer disks; they are then organized on CD-ROM or the Web."

    With many of Roach's stories having turned out to be false/deceptive, could the one about seeing emptiness be true?

    • Jacky says:

      He doesn't mind stretching the truth to achieve his main goal of telling a good story.

      • Wacky says:

        What makes a "good story" lies in the hearer's inability to distinguish fact from fiction. In this case, there is no story; just Roach making fools out of his gullible and dreamier audiences. Little wonder then that he's as cynical as he is when he thinks he's alone, and no one can hear him.

    • ekanthomason says:

      Roach certainly knew about the internet. Follow this link and read a letter from one of his former students which documents his knowledge in 1999. I feel pretty confident that was not his first exposure to the internet.
      This open letter, from a man of principle, paints an interesting picture.

    • Zirconia says:

      As early as 1994, Roach already knew about the internet and its hyperlinking and sharing/pirating nature:

      "When someone associated with the University of New Mexico took the liberty of posting the CD-ROM data on the Internet, the monks at Sera Mey were overjoyed. "It's very exciting, the idea of nobody owning it now. Once it's on the Internet, how can you stop it?" Roach smiles and shrugs. … Roach is especially excited by the prospect of creating hypertext environments for Buddhist scripture, and points out that Tibetan commentaries already anticipate the nests and links of hypertext. "The greatest piece of Tibetan literature is Jey Tsongkhapa's Lam Rim Chenmo (Greater steps of the path), which is a big piece of plagiarism. It's a long string of quotations taken from many ancient texts. Most Tibetan commentaries are like an onion skin. You start with the newer commentaries and peel your way backward." Wired magazine, issue 2.08 August **1994**

      Did Roach really accuse Tsongkhapa of plagiarism?

      Roach also said at ACI 6 in 1996: "If you made a safe investment in the internet or something two years ago, if there's such a thing, you know."

    • guest says:

      i think this is the one of the problematic consequences when someone appears to exaggerate or embellish the truth for the sake of an entertaining story: how do we know if the other narratives haven't also been embellished?

  34. Jerry says:…. 5 more Monks die and thousands protest yet Roach still goes to China to teach his dreck.Soon it may not be safe for DM followers to vist according to a concerned friend of a member that thinks it is time to pick a side.

    • Jerry says:
      Have fire extinguishers on the ready Roach backers.
      Don't be surprised if a visiting Tibetan student lights himself on fire at a Roach talk or at DM

    • Bob says:

      "Visit" where? I think there is a travel ban extended throughout Tibet right now…

      • Jerry says:

        Tibetans and Tibet supporters from all over the world will gather this week in the Tibetan exile headquarters of Dharamshala to “explore ways to press the Chinese government to end its repressive policies” in Tibet.

        Around two hundred members of Tibetan Support Groups from 43 countries will attend the Special International Tibet Support Groups Meeting from November 16 to 18.

        The meeting is being convened by the Core Group for Tibetan Cause-India and facilitated by the Department of Information and International Relations of the Central Tibetan Administration.

  35. Jerry aka Corvid says:

    In a study that he calls “Monks Versus Punks,” Dutton has carried out psychological tests of Buddhist monks and compared them to psychopaths. Like psychopaths, monks are often calm and decisive in the face of stress; free of anxiety, even in the face of death; and able to read others’ expressions accurately.

    The big difference, Dutton said, is that monks are motivated by compassion for others, whereas psychopaths seek only their own pleasure. But maybe this difference is not so great (and this is my point, not Dutton’s). After all, many modern gurus–notably Chogyam Trungpa, who helped bring Tibetan Buddhism to the west decades ago—act like narcissistic monsters. That’s one reason why I’m so down on Buddhism."… I don't know anything about Chogyam Trungpa but think the Geshe next door is playing on his team too.

    • best stay low says:

      re: Trungpa. Naw, it's a different page. Trungpa, as the song goes, liked lots of "older whisky, younger women", where he overlaps with GMR is "more money". I have never heard of Roach getting slurring, sloppy drunk (as I have seen Trungpa) or being into jailbait,16 years old for Trungpa, 17 at a stretch, (girls born in '53, quickies in '70, names known but [like orgasms? tantra?] withheld. Trungpa's bad behavior (in my face) kept me away from Tibetan Buddhism for twenty-five years.

  36. Khedrup says:

    From Robert Thurman:

    A lot of people, after seeking a bit, have some experience, and sometimes will believe they’re enlightened. One has to be careful about that. Especially Americans, who are very external stimulus oriented. When they have some type of deep inner experience, often they think that was the ultimate experience. Of course Ram Dass, who used to be a psychedelic guy, knows very well about that and how every time you have a big blast-out experience you think that’s the ultimate-everything, and of course it isn’t, although you can get hints. The key however, is not to take those hint experiences to be the ultimate experience. There always needs to be a balance. For example, when you find something, by having some experience, you always want to keep looking because there could be more to it. When Milarepa was asked how he meditated, he said he used to meditate this way or that way, but that he no longer knew when he was meditating or when he wasn’t. What that meant was he was meditating all the time, and in way, he was never meditating.

  37. Jerry aka Corvid says:

    Newest reason I hate Diamond Mountain…
    So for years the DM people have been told not to feed the animals…they still do and the Javelina get used to people and come over here and i have to shoot them and feel like an asshole.Now knowing how Arizona Fish and Game work (if they get complaints they trap the animal then kill it) they repeatedly called them over a bear they have lured to the the area by not talking care with the trash and feeding the bear too.Gil has been warning them for a year and a half not to feed the animals and if he comes out he will trap and kill the animal.They called back,knowing these facts two days ago and the trap was set last night.If the bear is dead it is on them if it hasn't taken the bait yet maybe they can stop this.

    • Smokey says:

      The bear has been captured and removed from the mountain.

      • best stay low says:

        The javelina are harmless to us, harmless to domestic animals, harmless to livestock and native to the area. They wander in, they hang out, they take off somewhere else. C'mon, Jerry, why do you "have to shoot them"? Build a little fence around the garden, mesh in the compost. I have laughed my head off watching the herd raid the DMU compost, or eat up all the leftover rotting Halloween pumpkins. They were very thorough. I like them around. If Fish-and-Game needs to rear their federal head they can always feel free to come up and trap out the feral and dangerous kitchen mice…

        • Jerry says:

          The bear will most likely die,the only reason it didn't get it on the spot was the timing worked out…Best, when you pay a few 500 dollar vet bills after your dogs get in it with your pig pets tell me again how you would deal with it

          • Jerry says:

            In Cochise County you can be fined 2500 dollars for feeding wild life.Between you guys,the hill billy poachers (check out the poached deer kill 200 yards from the gate) and the drought we will son be animal free.

          • ekanthomason says:

            Sorry to hear about the bear and the javelinas.

            A few times a month DMers do rituals where they offer food to the spirits. They take it outside their cabins when they are done, whatever beings want to partake. The animals are probably learning their schedule since it is based on various moon cycles. Perhaps this practice should be banned in the interest of protecting life and obeying the laws. Making an offering with one's mind is just at powerful as setting out a bunch of fruit, meat, and cookies.

            We are nearly animal free over here. It can happen.

            Three years ago we had a herd of more than 15 deer that grazed around here. One day they entirely circled my house grazing while I snapped photos from every window. Now I occasionally I see one or two.
            We had bobcats that I saw sometimes. Not any more.

            A pack of javelina used to regularly clean up orange rinds after the birds finish eating. They had a cripple in their pack for years so they were very comfortable living around here. Now they all seem to be gone.

            Even the coyotes are few and far between. I used to hear them howl at night. Now it is a special event to hear them.

            What is up with that?

          • Jerry says:

            Idiot hunters….drought..the border fence may be stopping migration patterns

          • best stay low says:

            I have never in all my travels been to an established back road homestead that did not have dogs and cats. It's impossible. They arrive from wherever. And chase and kill the native critters. The javelina are pretty shy. They don't pick fights. They eat prickly pear (of which there is no shortage in the area). I have been to a retreat center that for awhile there had way more cats than staff (Vajrapani) and another, many years back (Iron Knot Ranch just into New Mexico near Three-way) that had lots of dogs but no cats. GMR insisted upon a policy of 'no pets'. I gotta concur. I was outta town when Animal Control came in from Tucson to Bowie and shot a hundred and fifty chihuahuas.
            Musta been a reason….

          • Jerry says:

            I forgot this one…early on I was weed eating at the house I rented out to Ritesh and friends. My dog Riggs was wandering around in the back yard and came upon a shrine filled with high end NY City chocolate…..he ate it all and the little guy died of Kidney failure 3 long days later

        • Jerry says:

          12 Gauge Fiocchi 2-3/4" 4.8 Gram Rubber Slug 740 fps 25 Round Box
          This is what I use to put your pets on the run…Next time try it with the Bear…You Know you guys live at Bear Springs Ranch …right…not Murdered Bear Springs Ranch

          • best stay low says:

            glad it's a shot gun and not a 30-30 or a .308. scare 'em off, good enuf. really. no need to kill. i watched Fish and Game over in Catron County N.M. shoot a bear that had gotten on to a friend's roof (owned private property) that a jerk neighbor had called in about, while he was screaming at them not to do it, that the bear was only hungry and was harming nothing. It was really sad.Now, I'd prefer not to swear here, Jerry, but Fish and Game are assholes.

            Cut to the chase: Any ranger tries to give me a twenty five hundred dollar fine for "feeding the animals" will find himself fed to an animal. We are what has encroached upon everything else's habitat on this whole planet.

      • Jerry says:

        Smokey that is a lie…..the bear is dead….screw you people…..The idea that someone higher up in the cult or you wrote that knowing the bear is dead just shows the kind of people you have become under the influence of sociopath Michael Roach. Your board was told the bear( that is the only one in the area) would be killed and after it was trapped a bullet would blast it's brains out…jesus…..When a cult member on the road was told the only bear in the area is death she replied "what a relief" The Apaches believe this stuff comes back at you 5 fold…..

        • smokey says:

          Jerry-I know the bear was trapped in a cage inside dm and what happened to it afterward. Nothing I wrote indicates otherwise. It is a sad affair. No one I know witnessed the poor-things' execution, so I left that fact open to anyone's own conclusion-drawing power.
          Ekan-the retreatants were instructed months ago not to make offerings out of doors, but the garbage reclaim and food drop-offs are all done out in the open country. My guess is that this bear was probably a refugee displaced from last year's fire.

          • Jerry aka Corvid says:

            You guys were told the bear would die if Gil came back but you still did it because it committed the horrible crime of being on a retreat cabins porch…In you comment you wrote "the bear was captured and removed from the mountain' leaving the impression that it was released to live a happy life which you knew wasn't the case. Imagine spending the last hour of your life in a cage ,then feeling a a white hot slug go through it's brain pan.

      • Jerry says:

        You do remember when this bear first came into the area don't you…in the spring right after Ian died.IHeranged from The Marble Quarry to the Marvelously sucessful 3 year Retreat For Peace grounds….sort of strange don't you think? looks like you guys may have killed Ian again!

        • ekanthomason says:

          There was a bear that showed up during the DM Vajrayogini 10-day retreat about 2008 or 2009. Several of the retreaters had experience with it. It ripped open one tent and stole the offerings from her alter. Another woman came out of her tent, saw it, puffed herself up and started shouting mantras. It went away. I assumed it was the same bear. Did they kill that one too.
          I am very very sad to hear about this.
          Smokey how could you even chose that name? Smokey represents survival. I assumed the bear was relocated from what you wrote. Nice cover up.

          Also, Jerry, we don't have any dogs back here. There are 6 of us spread out on probably 100 acres or more. Over the hill and near the road a guy has a couple dogs. It is quiet back here. Very rare to see a dog out here. (one old fat cat that can hardly walk)

          • Kevin says:

            I remember that retreat incident.

          • Smokey says:

            I am a 'survivor'. And it wasn't a "cover-up", Ekan, It was reporting just what I know to be the fact to the matter. How could I say that 'the bear was destroyed' when I haven't been given that information yet? No doubt Jerry is better-informed as to the likelihood of what the protocols are that the dept. of fish-and-game follow… Still, your low-grade animosity toward almost any reporting that you find imperfections with says more about you than it does the rest that are commenting here. One might think you suffered from something more traumatic and expensive at DM than spiritual charlatanism-for all your high-handedness, and rushing to accuse me of covering-up… Your conspiracy-riddled imperiousness won't bring Ian back. And besides, everyone of late on this forum is only preaching to the choir, as MR's supporters seem mostly absent from counter-arguing the poison-penning/opining found here.

          • Jerry says:

            F&G told you guys that if they trapped the bear it would die.When the F&G guy shot the bear in the Pecans 5 years ago it was a shock.I still see him falling out of the tree and the sound he made…he was calling his mother…..The one you guys just did in was a beautiful bear…he will like the offerings you put out in his new home in the spirit world.
            Again….Everyone knows you don't call them or the dog catcher/killer in our county…it just ends badly

          • best stay low says:

            Hey smokey, "conspiracy-riddled imperiousness"…"poison-penning".."preaching to the choir"…oh, man, you got a burr up your tail there, boy. Now, me n Jer can go tooth n claw, no problem. As for you: if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen (yurt). I fully imagine this forum may have no further impact at all. Yes, Ian is dead. GMR and LC point the finger at somewhere else, neither has yet to look in the mirror, at least publicly. So what exactly would you suggest? I've split. You think it's over? You might be wrong. Maybe you don't know A and D. Wait and see. And pray.

          • Jerry says:

            best…..some new facts are about to be part of the record…something concerned observers learned this weekend and relayed to blew my mind….after absorbing this we can't figure out why charges were not filed and why the retreat wasn't ended right then….the retreaters really have some explaining to do to…well I can not speak about this at this time..
            back to the bear killings this is the second bear DM had removed and both times they were told the bear would be killed..The name Bear Springs Ranch might have been a clue that bears would be living with you. please stop killing them !

          • best stay low says:

            I'm currently outta the loop. on the road. What do I know? Jerry, do you mean to say that it was someone at DMU that called Fish n Game??? Were they outta their minds?So much for "cherishing all sentient beings". Technically you can't even step on a kissing bug (nasty bite). Once at the ramada in front of the kitchen yurt someone accidently stepped on one of those big black beetles (totally harmless) that he did not see, but only squashed it so it was writhing on the ground with its guts hanging out, then, when I pointed it out he wouldn't, (he said "couldn't) (out of compassion?) finish the job and put it out of its misery. I did.

            In the larger realm of Organized Buddhism, worldwide, GMR is small change. Wooden nickel. The few people that I have met in life that to me did convey in their being "enlightenment"
            1) never mentioned it in any way
            2) took responsibility for their actions without making an issue out of it
            3) could acknowledge and absorb multiple points of view
            4) did not ever chatter aimlessly and endlessly about "dharma"

            GMR gets zero for four in my book.

          • Jerry says:

            Yes DM officials called And were told the bear would die if they trapped it………everyone around this nest of greenhorns is really pissed about this…buy some bear resistant cans out of all that blood diamond money Roach..

          • best stay low says:

            the only "officials" there are Rob, Scott, Nicole and Chukyi. Who was the fool?

          • Jerry says:

            It wasn't just one of them…there were multiple contacts…

    • Kevin says:

      Where my family has a place on the Mogollon Rim there are bears every summer — now more so because of the lack of snow this last winter. People, keep the garbage inside and arrange for garbage to be placed outside for pick-up during daylight hours only — bears are nocturnal. It's so simple that it borders on the pathetic.

      • jerry says:

        Kevin this letter from a respected naturalist was sent to DM and has gone around the area "Hey Diamond Mountain people, I would like to ask you what kind of karma you think you are creating by approving the killing of a wild bear? Your land was its land long before you moved in. Why do you think it was named Bear Spring Ranch? Your members leaving "offerings" of food upon the land has resulted in wildlife interacting with people which is always detrimental to wildlife and completely irresponsible. I want you to know there are many people very upset by the killing of this bear.
        If the bear was disturbing your toilets, then your toilets were not built "bear-proof" and certainly should be because you are living in bear country.
        If your people can not even learn to co-exist with wildlife how do you possibly think any of you can co-exist with fellow human beings? Where is your compassion? How UN-Buddhist of you! What a SHAMEFUL act you have committed.
        I ask you again: What kind of karma are you creating by killing the native wildlife? Especially a bear for which the Apache people hold great reverence for. How very terrible…"

        Also it was confirmed to me this is the second bear killed at DM.

        • Khedrup says:

          Very sad. Don't feed the critters- basic living in the wilderness 101 really.

        • Kevin Schroder says:

          Thanks for the letter Jerry, I assume it was sent with his/her signature. I agree with their statement. The offering of food was something that always disturbed me. I saw no point in feeding the elemental beings if it was harmful to the critters of the area.

          • jerry says:

            Strange stuff happening around here.A hiker reported a dead body 2 weeks ago and they still have not found it.Then a guy that has been lurking in the area slit his own throat in some type of ritual suicide….made me wonder if there is a DM connection. Sort of a strange way to kill yourself and just off DM property. Plus someone put a large caliber bullet home through my metal building a few nights ago.

        • corvid says:

          Hey Zirconia they of course picked a windy day to blade their reserve parking (lot for the Goundhog day shindig) sending a dust cloud our way…typical
          note on the lady (Karen) that wrote the above letter.Her brains were bashed in and she was left for dead by Narcos 10 miles to the South of the retreat.The Kruz gang etc. heads North toward DM from the point of the attack.They use the trails DM created on the retreat border and on up into BLM land..

  38. Zirconia says:

    The Psychology Today article, posted a week ago by best stay low, is in a more readable format here:|A30752569… Get the fully-illustrated PDF version by clicking Download. You may need to manually add a .pdf extension to the file (from WrapPDF to WrapPDF.pdf)

    The article quoted Christie's "A Shift in the Matrix", but omitted her capitalization of a key word: The place that had been my home for nine years, the place I founded and poured all my heart and soul into, the place I had dreamed into existence after becoming a different kind of Being [capitalized], was suddenly and without warning being ripped away from me.

  39. ekanthomason says:

    Scott Carney's article will be in the March issue of Playboy. He said it will also be on his website.

    • Scott Carney says:

      it wont be on my website until 6 moths from now, unfortunately. My contract doesn't allow me to publish electronically until then.

      • anonymous says:

        Well, can you at least give us the gist?

        • Sky says:

          The article is quite lengthy and has many edges to it, but the title gives the reader a pretty good sense of what it's about – "Death and Madness at Diamond Mountain." It's a very good article, but it is also very sad.

      • Jerry aka corvid says:

        Good article but I thought Scott dropped the ball a bit on the big issue.If the DM people would have hiked straight up the hill they could have carried the 100 pound Ian down and to medical care by 9am.This did not happen because of failure of leadership.Friggin Roach should of dragged his command ass back to DM after the Goddess whacked out.,,,,,,Another reason Ian is dead is no one wanted to interrupt the holy retreat by sounding the alarm.The EMt said to a friend he was still warm when he checked for vital signs.
        I loved the ending Scott where you confronted Roach and he says " Hey look at all the good stuff I do rather than this one dead random dude"
        Again Cochise county didn't push hard on anyone.If I had stabbed my wife,people thought I was crazy and then I call the cops conveniently just after he dies I would be in the crowbar motel.

        • Sky says:

          I agree, the end of Scott's story was very powerful, and it just makes me feel incredibly sad. In some ways, GMR reminds me of an idealistic little boy, and he just doesn't "get it." Like, something's missing.

          I still don't believe there was any malice on anyone at DM, including GMR,'s part, but something went way off the rails. It's like Paul Hackett, who Scott quoted in his article, said – if you don't do these practices properly, or if you start mixing in other traditions, it will literally make you go crazy. And it sounds like that may have been what happened at DM. And really, I felt that was the main point of Scott's article. So with that in mind, I don't think he dropped the ball. He struck the right tone, and he clearly did his research.

          • Paulie Cannon says:

            MR used to say the same thing, Sky: That the mixing together of different systems is dangerous. He tried to 'improve upon'/'modernize' the Tathagata's flawless presentations; yet woke up to "Demon Mountain" instead (from 'his side', people,) for all of his efforts
            . Moral: The Buddhadharma doesn't need improvement: 'Improvement' rather, is what the Buddha intended for the students of his beautiful system directed at nirvana/maha samyak sambodhi-mind.

  40. Janet says:

    Any news on sweet Lama Christy? Is she still in New York?

  41. anonymous says:

    From the Playboy article:

    Robert Thurman, a professor of religious studies at Columbia University, met with Roach and McNally shortly after Roach published his open letter. He was concerned that Roach had broken his vows and that his continuing as a monk could damage the reputation of the larger Tibetan Buddhist community. "I told him, 'You can't be a monk and have a girlfriend; you have clearly given up your vow,'" Thurman says. "To which he responded that he had never had genital contact with a human female. So I turned to her and asked if she was human or not. She said right away, 'He said it. I didn't.' There was a pregnant pause, and then she said, 'But can't he do whatever he wants, since he has directly realized emptiness?'" On the phone I can hear Thurman consider his words and sigh. "It seemed like they had already descended into psychosis."

  42. anonymous says:

    Carney's last interaction with Roach:

    When it was my turn I stood in front of his throne and introduced myself. I tried to phrase a question about how he was dealing with Thorson's death. "It was a very sad event," he said, "but why are people not interested in my teaching? One person dies in the desert and suddenly everyone pays attention. People should be talking about all the good works that I've done instead."

  43. None of the Above says:

    I carry no brief for Michael Roach. That said, it's not like he's the first guru to go off the rails or get derided for allegedly founding a cult. There are a number of solid substance comments upthread that, if proved so, suggest at the very least Mr. Roach might want to make some revisions in how he approaches his work.

    I recall one comment that cited Chogyam Trungpa as an impeccable source of correct practice. That got me thinking. Some of the negative comments on Roach have less substance.

    So I went and did a little thought experiment. In several of these, everywhere one of these said "Geshe Michael," I substituted "Trungpa Rinpoche," and everywhere one of them said "Diamond Mountain" I substituted "Vajradhatu." And sure enough I was transported 32 year and about one thousand miles in my magical wayback machine to Boulder, Colo., circa 1981.

    A lot of the things Roach is accused of here and now, Trungpa was accused of there and then. Certainly Trungpa never had a death in the desert, but he did (allegedly) cause a poet and said poet's girlfriend to be stripped naked in front of a drunken crowd, and he was (allegedly) surrounded by gun-toting guards, he was (again allegedly) a pretty severe alcoholic, and he did die (allegedly of cirrhosis) before his 50th birthday. As far as I know though, his orthodoxy was never questioned by those Tibetans who question such things.

    The first three of those items were rumors that were current all over Boulder back then. The fourth may be a matter of public record in Vermont.

    I'm not saying all this to bash Trumka. His silly school where any poet who ever crashed in a faculty member's house was listed him or herself as faculty, has achieved what looks like from my distance a pretty respectable reputation. I think Vajradhatu is pretty well respected these days, too.

    In the end I think Trungpa and his organization(s) had some problems and were a work in progress. they've turned out pretty well, maybe because in the end, in spite of numerous allegations of misbehavior he did not stray as far as it might have looked at the time from Vajrayana orthodoxy.

    I think Roach and his organization(s) also have some problems and are works in progress. What will they be in 20 years or after Roach is gone? I think it depends on what is and isn't wrong,and how well the things that are wrong get dealt with.

    One final thought. Roach seems pretty proud of mastering the material for a geshe designation in like five years, when normally it takes 20. A designation like geshe isn't just mastering the material, which a bright enough person almost always can do faster than average. The 20 years really is about absorbing the culture so that (at least hopefully) the teacher knows enough deep in his or her bones where to go and where not to go.

    • jerry says:

      my smart friend sent me this on banal evil 'Once [ideologies’] claim to total validity is taken literally they become the nuclei of logical systems in which, as in the systems of paranoiacs, everything follows comprehensibly and even compulsorily once the first premise is accepted. The insanity of such systems lies not only in their first premise but in the very logicality with which they are constructed. The curious logicality of all isms, their simpleminded trust in the salvation value of stubborn devotion without regard for specific, varying factors, already harbors the first germs of totalitarian contempt for reality and factuality."

    • Jane says:

      The faculty of Naropa Institute/University is/was nothing like you describe. I actually studied at the Naropa Institute. What you say about Trungpa's school is total b.s.

      • None of the Above says:

        Tsk, tsk, Jane. No need to get nasty. I agree I should not have described the school as "silly." And I should have been clear the specific comment was limited to the poetry school, where at the time the faculty listing did go as described in my post. My post was about not rushing to judgment, as many people in Boulder did about Trungpa in the early '80's, when in fact, in the end, Naropa, Vajradhatu and other Trungpa projects have turned out pretty well.

  44. Zirconia says:

    As always, I read Playboy for the articles:

    [Sid Johnson's] concerns came to a head in 2005 during a secret initiation into the practice of the bull-headed tantric deity Yamantaka, whose name translates as "destroyer of death". As part of a four-day ritual, all the initiates had to meet privately with Geshe Michael and Lama Christie, as their students called them, in a yurt for their final empowerment, which would help them conquer death. Johnson was nervous when he entered the room wearing a blindfold and heard Roach ask him to lie down on their bed. When he did so, McNally started to massage his chakras, starting with his head and ending at his penis. "I'm not sure who undid my pants, but it was part of the blessing," says Johnson. When they were done, he sat up–still wearing the blindfold–and felt McNally's lips pressing against his. They kissed. "There is a part of the initiation when your lama offers you a consort, and the way Geshe Michael teaches it, the things that happen in the metaphysical world also have to happen in the real one," says Johnson. Afterward, he says, they all giggled like children at a summer camp, as though they were breaking taboos and no one else would know. Ten minutes later Johnson left and they asked Johnson's wife to come in alone. Altogether, almost 20 students had private initiations with the couple that night.

  45. anonymouse says:

    Christie, it's time. It's easy to use words like "bodhisattva", but now it's time to act like one, or at least like a Buddhist. Please, come forward, explain yourself and accept the consequences. Is the woman who said "I want to live my life for the world, and give the whole world everything I have to give." going to spend the rest of her life in hiding? Is that how a Buddhist teacher acts? Where is your pride, or at least your sense of shame? Is whatever you're afraid of worse than continuing to disgrace the Dharma?

    • Jackie says:

      I don't think Lama Christie is to blame for what happened. She had her head filled with delusions of grandeur and then shown the door to the desert. She is probably in need of a lot of time to reflect on reality. I hope she has a good therapist who can deprogram her.

      • Idiot compassion says:

        How is she not to blame? She was his teacher, he was on a retreat with her, and he died as a result of her decisions. Delusions of grandeur notwithstanding, of course she is to blame.

    • Rocky says:

      It's accepted and proper decorum to allow the widow a full year to grieve her sorrow, before re-entering public life.
      Let Christie be for a while yet.

    • Idiot compassion says:

      Christie was Ian's "lama" and he died while participating in a retreat under her tender care. It's time for her to explain herself.

      • None of the Above says:

        I agree with Rocky. I say give her a break. She lost her husband under very trying circumstances, to which her decision-making might have contributed. she needs time to mourn and time to process any need for change in her spiritual direction. It would profit no one for her to come forward prematurely.

    • Idiot compassion says:

      You are all rather naive if you think her newfound reticence is due to her need to mourn/grieve/process etc. Perhaps you have never lost a loved one but, I guarantee you, it is quite possible to talk under such circumstances, if one has nothing to hide.

    • Jerry says:

      In the future when people google Christie they will get this in the search….she should say something but with the change in the Cochise County Sherrifs Department after Dever rolled his truck while drunk as shit it might not be smart.In our county the investigators come from his department not from the DA. Word is Dever made that call…new guy might see it in another light

    • bumper says:


      • Jerry says:

        In Australia recently a man was charged with manslaughter because his mother died in the house of dehydration when he failed to call the police.He believed his religion would save her….A lawyer friend that has followed this a bit believes it is an open question whether Christie and a few others at the least should have been charged with manslaughter….I sort of don't think so but believe me if my honey was found dead in a cave with signs of battering and I didn't call the Po until it was too late to save her i would have been arrested…

  46. Tony says:

    Thank you for writing this. I have been a critic of Roach since the 1990's. I invited him to Bodhgaya to teach in the mid 90's, not knowing him but only hearling some good things. At that time he was still on the approved FPMT techers list. I then spent a month at Diamond Mountain in the early 2000's and from that experience became the author and publisher of the old website. I am glad to see a copy is still archived. From my experieence, Roach is deleded and a danger to the public, and to hte Dharma in general.

  47. JJJ says:

    Hi Matthew

    I just wanted to thank you for all the articles you have written regarding your experience with GMR and DMU. I have been following them for about 6 months now. 7 years ago I moved out of Tibetan Buddhist "situation" in Toronto, after 12 years of living there, that sounds uncannily similar to what you describe. In fact, reading your articles had been the first real catalyst in helping me to come out of denial of what happened there. The first article I read of yours I actually cried for the first time about it. I, like the students you describe, was so scared to talk about it at all. I didn't want to say anything bad about my Teacher. I couldn't even think anything negative so I just didn't think about it at all. After I left I went on a 2 year binge on drugs and alcohol to avoid thinking or feeling about it at all. At times I still struggle with my addiction. I'm starting to wonder if it is because I still have not really taken the time to deal with my feelings about my experience living where I did. In any case, I am beginning the journey. However, it is difficult. Sometimes I feel like such an idiot. How could I have been so stupid? At the time I thought I was receiving everything I needed that I never felt before….Love, belonging, acceptance. Now that I am not there, I have such a hard time experiencing these things in my life. Sometimes I feel so confused…like I don't know who I am anymore. I am starting to think that I will explore therapy. It is just such a strange thing I feel…who is going to understand me and what I am going through? Anyways, I just wanted to share some of my experience and feelings with you, and, my gratitude for your writing and exposing the truth. (I apologize for the poor grammar – i am pretty emotional right now….hopefully my message comes across clearly enough)

    • best stay low says:

      it does. but do be careful about using the word 'truth' when the clouds of 'false' fill the sky.
      hi jerry
      as for the rest of you, not with a bang but a whimper…..

      • Jerry says:

        Best……you will not believe what's coming.The few people like you that reported back what you have seen and think of Roach have people in your corner. Just wait.

      • JJJ says:

        hi there…thanks for replying. I don't think I understand what you are saying though….could you please elaborate?

        • JJJ says:

          what i mean is i don't understand be careful about using the word truth when false clouds still fill the sky…

          • best stay on it says:

            weeks later….I'll try….it's been said a million times…look into your own heart…do not be mislead by glib assurances backed up by 'doctrine' or 'tradition'. One man's heresy is another man's truth; this holds worldwide for all religions. Lama Yeshe (lovin' his genuine smile) once said, "You Americans are too gullible. Need to check out guru very carefully." Cut to the chase: GMR has all the emotional maturity of an eight-year-old. He likes his toys (fancy resort, big red SUV, all that adulation..attention). Too many people at DMU take their 'tantric vows' more seriously than their marriage vows. Squeaky clean rules of conduct only serve to mask deeper layers of arrogance and spineless moral turpitude. Of course the (left-hand) tantric response will be that one should not 'judge' without the 'higher realization' that 'we' have achieved but you have not. Bull-pucky!
            Don't worry about Roach's claim that he has 'seen emptiness directly'. Lao Tzu said, "Those who speak do not know. Those who know do not speak."

  48. corvid says:

    Teaching May 5 2013….terrible turnout….parking lot by temple half full and no cars in the illegally bladed north parking lot.
    Hindu-Fusion cult leader Roach looking crazy as ever in the linked video.On the brighter side he is sleeping with a sock monkey these days rather than a mentally ill woman 20 years younger than him.

    A cult member tore off the addition some vandal put on the Bear Springs sign (changed to "Dead Bear Springs") but I understand "murdered Bear Springs" is going up any day.

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