Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 3:19 pm

This is a new and alarming comment just posted in Elephant's Update article that I link to above:

ekanthomason38p · 14 hours ago
KALI - "I would like to know why McNally references Kali and not Vajrayogini in her letter." writes Matt.

Alright, thank you Kelly Rigpa (which I hope is pseudonym for a DM board member) and Lauren. Let's get it all out in the open. I have hesitated to bring this forward but in response to the Dali Lama's words and compassion for GMR and Christie, I must bring this into the discussion and debate and hope that it benefits as many people as possible. http://www.kashiashram.com/advice_dl.htm

At the end of the 2009 fall term, there was a 10-day residential Kali initiation as part of the tantra course. It was not part of the original 6-year syllabus GMR presented to us at the Tiger Rider discourses. Christie felt a connection to Kali and wanted to have Kali as a protector of the retreat valley. As far as I know, Kali is an unenlightened Hindu deity and it seems odd to have this be a part of our buddhist studies. It wasn't what I signed up for.

Before I say more, I would like to remind the reader that, technically, since the founding of Diamond Mountain, Geshe Michael has continuously been the sole Spiritual Director. As a result, all spiritual activities of this kind are his full load to carry.

Is there any one of the 100+ people who attended the Kali initiation that did not make an immediate connection between that initiation and the recent tragic events at DM? All of us were very well trained in karmic correlations.

In this DM lineage, initiations are given to individuals rather than to a room full of people. The initiation was divided into two parts. I must say that GMR's part was very sweet and beautiful and it was reminiscent of a Dempo Kanjo ceremony I was fortunate enough to attend in Japan.

On the other hand, Christie's initiation occurred at night up in the very large Lama Dome on the top of a hill, which is now part of the retreat valley. The path was long, dark, isolated and rough terrain. Each person had to take off their clothes and don a robe similar to a graduation robe. The dome was all lit with candlelight on both sides of a meandering path that led to where Christie sat on some sort of a throne. One of my friends said she started crying as soon as she entered because she was so frightened. My own thought was "Oh, how theatrical."

This Kali initiation included blood sacrifices, knives, samurai long swords, a temple full of every imaginable weapon. People were grabbed, blindfolded, walked up the wash (stream bed) and stuffed into a box.

BLOOD SACRIFICE:
Christie: "Kali requires something from you. She requires your blood."
I was given a little medical device to stab my finger with. It was rather dull from use and I had to make several attempts to get a drop of blood.

KNIVES/DAGGER
Christie swaggered up to me holding a long knife and ran her finger over the sharp edge in a threatening way, saying, "Kali requires more of you." She reminded me of a beautiful swashbuckling pirate.

SAMURAI LONG SWORD
Christie handed me the long sword and told me to perform for her. I wielded it for a few minutes while imagining I was killing my mental afflictions.

TEMPLE WEAPONS
Everything you can imagine. Rifles, AK47, bows, cross-bows, chainsaws, wicked looking garden implements. I am really not into weapons and don't remember them all. We were told to handle them and imagine what it would be like to use them.

WOODEN BOX
I did not go in the box and can only pass on what I was told. Jigme herself avoided going with the 'spiritual thugs' by flat out refusing to come out of her house or come near by door. People were grabbed off the road, blindfolded, slightly roughed up and stuffed into a wooden box about 4 foot cubed. My housemate with severe hip problems was forced into this. At the end of the initiation, we had a ceremony and burned the box.

IAN
The dome has a small meditation dome connected to it. Ian was meditating in there while all this was happening. At one point, Christie took me back with him. I was told to close my eyes, so I went into meditation. Then she led me out. I did not have a connection with Ian and did not want him to be a part of the initiation but what could I do?

I repeat: Is there any one of the 100+ people who attended the Kali initiation that did not make an immediate connection between that initiation and the recent tragic events at DM?

So, yes DM people, do have some debate about this. What is the karma of this? These dark deeds need to come out in the open. Should a buddhist university really be doing such things? How far from a balanced center can things get? Would any of you have submitted to something like this before DM? Why hasn't anyone else come forward? Look how much the six years of mind training has changed your ability to discriminate. Or, do you believe this is a good thing?
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby mindyourmind » Thu May 24, 2012 3:39 pm

Wow, you couldn't make this stuff up.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Norwegian » Thu May 24, 2012 3:41 pm

Malcolm,
When you invoke Kali, what you get is death.
Kali is not Vajrayogini. Kali takes her payment in blood.


From Elephant's article on DM:
"At the end of the 2009 fall term, there was a 10-day residential Kali initiation"


This is really messed up... :o
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 4:00 pm

mindyourmind wrote:Wow, you couldn't make this stuff up.


Well in those comments it gets worse.

My question would be whether they just made some of this stuff up (the Kali initiation) or were they following some text in which these elements in fact appear? As the Hindu deities have then appropriated in Tibetan Vajrayana esentially as protectors the idea of using Kali as a protector isn't intellectually completely off-base although it's unthinkable even with the sophistry.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 4:20 pm

kirtu wrote:
mindyourmind wrote:Wow, you couldn't make this stuff up.


Well in those comments it gets worse.

My question would be whether they just made some of this stuff up (the Kali initiation) or were they following some text in which these elements in fact appear? As the Hindu deities have then appropriated in Tibetan Vajrayana esentially as protectors the idea of using Kali as a protector isn't intellectually completely off-base although it's unthinkable even with the sophistry.

Kirt


Does that "initiation" seem even remotely Buddhist to you?
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby conebeckham » Thu May 24, 2012 4:49 pm

I had a chance to read it...and the comments attached.
The "touched my genitals" thing vis a vis a Yamantaka empowerment? WTF?

Previously, I thought they had just misunderstood Dharma. Now, I am convinced they have abandoned it. I forsee DM being shut down soon.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 4:54 pm

conebeckham wrote:The "touched my genitals" thing vis a vis a Yamantaka empowerment? WTF?


Come on, admit it -- you're just jealous!!!

M
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 24, 2012 5:00 pm

Adamantine wrote:This Kali initiation included blood sacrifices, knives, samurai long swords, a temple full of every imaginable weapon. People were grabbed, blindfolded, walked up the wash (stream bed) and stuffed into a box.
Look, even if it was a legit Kali initiation (ie by the book), why would a (apparently) Buddhist practitioner allow themselves to be put through an ordeal like that? Only one practitioner refused the initiation and a couple of them refused aspects of the initiation. I mean, take the sword and perform for me? "Get the f**k out of my face you psycho b****h!" would have been the appropriate response, I mean really! Whether she touched my genitals or not!
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby mindyourmind » Thu May 24, 2012 5:01 pm

A rare picture of the DM vehicle :






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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 5:01 pm

Adamantine wrote:Does that "initiation" seem even remotely Buddhist to you?


No of course not (and in the comment about the Yamanataka empowerment it gets worse) but the question for me is:

My question would be whether they just made some of this stuff up (the Kali initiation) or were they following some text in which these elements in fact appear? As the Hindu deities have then appropriated in Tibetan Vajrayana esentially as protectors the idea of using Kali as a protector isn't intellectually completely off-base although it's unthinkable even with the sophistry.


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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 5:05 pm

conebeckham wrote:I had a chance to read it...and the comments attached.
The "touched my genitals" thing vis a vis a Yamantaka empowerment? WTF?


That was my reaction as. Perhaps there is a pattern of literalism and gross misunderstanding of "icons" and symbols (assuming that a phurba would be a major element of a Yamanataka empowerment). How did they get to such a point?

[qoute]Previously, I thought they had just misunderstood Dharma. Now, I am convinced they have abandoned it. I forsee DM being shut down soon.[/quote]

And this could end as a major obstacle for Tibetan Vajrayana in the US.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 5:15 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:[I mean, take the sword and perfrom for me?


But Greg, whirling a sword in multiple directions not harming anything while imagining that you are destroying defilements or obstacles is not out of bounds. Blood sacrifice clearly is. However Malcolm told us that his ngakpa teacher did indeed perform a blood sacrifice of real animals as part of a weather controlling ritual of some sort. So things get quite problematic. Vajrayana can potentially utilize anything but this requires us to hone our discrimination quite sharply and this can only be done directly studying with a real master. It appears that Roach massively misunderstood or misrepresented his qualifications and degree of understanding and authorization and this resulted in this nonsense and resultant tragedy at their camp. A poor analogy would be sort of like two, three or more children playing games with nuclear weapons.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 5:19 pm

kirtu wrote: However Malcolm told us that his ngakpa teacher did indeed perform a blood sacrifice of real animals as part of a weather controlling ritual of some sort.


I think you are mistaken here Kirt. Malcolm can clarify, but I recall that NYD may have used some horse heads or something as an offering to placate certain entities with control over the weather, -- but he did not kill these animals or order them to be killed. In this sense, it does not seem much different than ganapuja or protector offerings that include meat.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 5:20 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Adamantine wrote:This Kali initiation included blood sacrifices, knives, samurai long swords, a temple full of every imaginable weapon. People were grabbed, blindfolded, walked up the wash (stream bed) and stuffed into a box.
Look, even if it was a legit Kali initiation (ie by the book), why would a (apparently) Buddhist practitioner allow themselves to be put through an ordeal like that?


It was apparently pitched as a kind of protector practice by their leaders. However as noted in sources they have apparently been mixing Hindu practices at some level with Buddhist practices (beyond yoga). Maybe it was papered over as a protector initiation or maybe it was flat out a real attempt at a Kali initiation. We will not know the intentions until the principals come forward.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 5:23 pm

Adamantine wrote:
kirtu wrote: However Malcolm told us that his ngakpa teacher did indeed perform a blood sacrifice of real animals as part of a weather controlling ritual of some sort.


I think you are mistaken here Kirt. Malcolm can clarify, but I recall that NYD may have used some horse heads or something as an offering to placate certain entities with control over the weather, -- but he did not kill these animals or order them to be killed. In this sense, it does not seem much different than ganapuja or protector offerings that include meat.


I hope that I am mistaken but horse heads can't be that easy to come by. Cow heads unfortunately are another matter. But look, in old Tibet how would this ritual have been performed? Would they have waited around for some animals to die naturally and then to encase the head or other animal part in some kind of resin for reuse, etc.? Probably not.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu May 24, 2012 5:26 pm

kirtu wrote:But Greg, whirling a sword in multiple directions not harming anything while imagining that you are destroying defilements or obstacles is not out of bounds. Blood sacrifice clearly is. However Malcolm told us that his ngakpa teacher did indeed perform a blood sacrifice of real animals as part of a weather controlling ritual of some sort. So things get quite problematic. Vajrayana can potentially utilize anything but this requires us to hone our discrimination quite sharply and this can only be done directly studying with a real master. It appears that Roach massively misunderstood or misrepresented his qualifications and degree of understanding and authorization and this resulted in this nonsense and resultant tragedy at their camp. A poor analogy would be sort of like two, three or more children playing games with nuclear weapons.

Kirt
Dude, it's got nothing to do with the karmic content of the action itself and everything to do with being manipulated by an incompetent, unqualified, egotistical, moron. The extent of the incompetence lead to a persons death BUT it didn't just go directly from zero to the extreme of the guys death. The path that progressed towards the tragic conclusion was lined by a thousand actions as banally inane as following a pointless (albeit harmles) order to engage in sword play. It's not like one day you are an intelligently functioning independent human being and the next day you are a brainwashed tele-controlled cult member. How long do you reckon it would have taken you to see something was (hideously) wrong?
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 5:42 pm

kirtu wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
kirtu wrote: However Malcolm told us that his ngakpa teacher did indeed perform a blood sacrifice of real animals as part of a weather controlling ritual of some sort.


I think you are mistaken here Kirt. Malcolm can clarify, but I recall that NYD may have used some horse heads or something as an offering to placate certain entities with control over the weather, -- but he did not kill these animals or order them to be killed. In this sense, it does not seem much different than ganapuja or protector offerings that include meat.


I hope that I am mistaken but horse heads can't be that easy to come by. Cow heads unfortunately are another matter. But look, in old Tibet how would this ritual have been performed? Would they have waited around for some animals to die naturally and then to encase the head or other animal part in some kind of resin for reuse, etc.? Probably not.

Kirt


Horses are slaughtered everyday in USA and used for petfood. I can't speak to how things may have been done in old Tibet, but clearly the meat-for-food industry was questionable using muslims as butchers, etc. as a way to distance themselves from the killing, even as they were placing the orders. However, I don't think it would have been too unusual to find dead animals in old Tibet either.. harsh climate. . especially at a time when weather-control would have been deemed necessary. I assume Malcolm can clear all this up, having been close with Ngakpa Yeshe Dorje.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby kirtu » Thu May 24, 2012 5:45 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Dude, it's got nothing to do with the karmic content of the action itself and everything to do with being manipulated by an incompetent, unqualified, egotistical, moron. The extent of the incompetence lead to a persons death BUT it didn't just go directly from zero to the extreme of the guys death. The path that progressed towards the tragic conclusion was lined by a thousand actions as banally inane as following a pointless (albeit harmles) order to engage in sword play. It's not like one day you are an intelligently functioning independent human being and the next day you are a brainwashed tele-controlled cult member. How long do you reckon it would have taken you to see something was (hideously) wrong?
:namaste:


I completely agree but the social dynamic at play it much of the issue: when people trust authority they will overwhelmingly tend to follow that authority even if it means harming others (Milgram and others research). People ceded their discrimination to their leaders. Now it turns out that there were apparently many people who left the organization over time. This might have resulted in a concentration of followers reinforcing the group behaviour with the idealization of Roach and McNally.

With the sword issue I was just saying that that action itself would not by itself be out of bounds in a Vajrayana empowerment. It's just that nowadays it would have been a totally symbolic sword, incapable of doing harm at all.

The fact that some set of people on site did not see or act on the degradation of Roach and his institution is troubling.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 5:45 pm

kirtu wrote:However Malcolm told us that his ngakpa teacher did indeed perform a blood sacrifice of real animals as part of a weather controlling ritual of some sort.


I never said that.

They went to an abbatoir and procured the head of a bull that had been slaughtered.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 5:46 pm

kirtu wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
kirtu wrote: However Malcolm told us that his ngakpa teacher did indeed perform a blood sacrifice of real animals as part of a weather controlling ritual of some sort.


I think you are mistaken here Kirt. Malcolm can clarify, but I recall that NYD may have used some horse heads or something as an offering to placate certain entities with control over the weather, -- but he did not kill these animals or order them to be killed. In this sense, it does not seem much different than ganapuja or protector offerings that include meat.


I hope that I am mistaken but horse heads can't be that easy to come by. Cow heads unfortunately are another matter. But look, in old Tibet how would this ritual have been performed? Would they have waited around for some animals to die naturally and then to encase the head or other animal part in some kind of resin for reuse, etc.? Probably not.

Kirt


Tibetans, especially nomads and farmers, slaughter animals quite regularly (by suffocation usually, basically waterboarding them), feel bad about it, and try to purify the effect of that karma yearly.
Last edited by Malcolm on Thu May 24, 2012 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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