Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Clarence » Sat May 17, 2014 10:33 am

Last I heard she was hanging out in Kathmandu. Don't remember hearing whether or not she still considered herself a Lama.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 17, 2014 10:37 am

Nemo wrote:The most healthy thing you could do is let her be a normal person.
Or an abnormal person. ;)
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby dzogchungpa » Sat May 17, 2014 3:24 pm

Nemo wrote:Why are people still calling her Lama Christie?

I was not being entirely serious when I referred to her that way, but as you can see here:



she refers, or referred, to herself that way.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby conebeckham » Sat May 17, 2014 6:44 pm

Oh, dear....
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Adi » Sat May 17, 2014 7:04 pm

Just as the trunk of an ordinary tree
Lying in the forest of the Mālaya mountains
Absorbs the perfume of sandal from the moist leaves and branches,
So you come to resemble whomever you follow.


—Patrul Rinpoche quoting an unnamed text in Words of My Perfect Teacher
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby JKhedrup » Sat May 17, 2014 8:07 pm

I actually feel bad for poor Christie, while at the same time thinking she shares some of the responsibility of the death of her partner at Diamond Mountain.

As an aside, I find it incredibly irritating when Western TB practitioners affect Tibetan accents. What is up with that?
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Mother's Lap » Sat May 17, 2014 8:13 pm

JKhedrup wrote:As an aside, I find it incredibly irritating when Western TB practitioners affect Tibetan accents. What is up with that?

Assuming accents is a tendency of weak personalities; so when you take the people that seek the devotional master-student relationship it's not surprising.
The path of analytical reasoning is precise and acute—
But it’s just more delusion, good for nothing goat-shit.
The oral instructions are very profound
But not if you don’t put them into practice.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Pero » Sat May 17, 2014 8:23 pm

JKhedrup wrote:As an aside, I find it incredibly irritating when Western TB practitioners affect Tibetan accents. What is up with that?

She has a Tibetan accent?
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby JKhedrup » Sat May 17, 2014 8:27 pm

More the inflection and affected grammar errors.
"And I study... Tibetan.. Buddhist path". And people start... call me Lama".
The accent is more noticeable with GMR.

But like I said, I do feel for Christie. She was duped and made to look very foolish, but got duped because of a sincere interest in spirituality I think.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
-Atisha Dipamkara
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 17, 2014 8:35 pm

JKhedrup wrote:I actually feel bad for poor Christie, while at the same time thinking she shares some of the responsibility of the death of her partner at Diamond Mountain.

As an aside, I find it incredibly irritating when Western TB practitioners affect Tibetan accents. What is up with that?
That's a Tibetan accent? You sure?

She may just be affecting an accent to make herself understood to the people she is addressing (the video is in Mexico).

For example: When I first arrived in Greece I was at a bar and ordered a Jack Daniels from the barman.
"A what?" was the bartenders response.
"A Jack Daniels." I answered.
"What do you want?" he asked again.
"One of those!" I said almost jumping onto the bar to physically point at the bottle on the top shelf.
"Oooooooohhhh... a Tzuk Ntahneyels. Why didn't you say it from the beginning?" :rolleye:

There are no J's or D's in Greek, so when pronouncing English words using these letters, you have to resort to local pronunciation to be understood. Maybe she is doing the same?

Benefit of the doubt.

She is definitely referring to herself as lama though, in the video. I guess if Roach is a geshe, she must be at least a lama.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Sat May 17, 2014 8:40 pm

philji wrote:I hope this isn't too off topic but the issue of suggestion affecting our mind set is interesting to me. I remember whilst doing ngondro and in particular doing Vajrasattva Mantras, I went through it pretty steadily, no major issues and actually enjoyed the process. However, some friends of mine had been told that during this " purification" practice all sorts of things could and would come up. One experienced her hair falling out, another got really sick and another experienced strong emotional outbursts, almost out of control .... So what is going on here? Coincedence? Suggestion? Purification? Or just the usual stuff but noticing it more????


Suggestion is certainly a possibility, if people are apt for it. Generally I think people experience it differently according to the circumstances, their general mindset, and their own personal karma. I've had some weird trips coming up during the first 10.000, from then on the rest went very calm and steady. I'm quite sure those trips of mine cannot have been a mere product of suggestion because they started before I've ever heard about such things happening. For instance I've had some visions of nasty creatures leaving my body during the first time I ever recited the Vajrasattva Mantra. I had never heard teachings about that Mantra, I just participated in my first ever Vajrayana retreat. The teacher said something like "Now let's recite the Vajrasattva Mantra, for beginners: it's on page so-and-so" and that was it. There was no room for any suggestion, so I think it must have been a "real" purification process.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Zhen Li » Sat May 17, 2014 9:21 pm

Bless her, she's just trying to be a nice person.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 17, 2014 9:33 pm

Nice people don't knife other people and them lead them to their death, via bacterial/amoebic dysentery.

Nice people also don't lie about their qualifications in order to gain prestige.

In my books anybody fitting that bill is far from a nice person.
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Zhen Li » Sat May 17, 2014 9:44 pm

She's trying her best. :P
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat May 17, 2014 10:10 pm

If that's her best, I'd hate to see her worst!
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Zhen Li » Sat May 17, 2014 11:01 pm

Well, I never actually heard the story about the knife - admittedly I haven't followed the thread - and I think you know I wouldn't approve of using knives for non-culinary purposes (excluding cannibalism, (except in emergencies (when the person being eaten is already dead))).

I was referring more to the way she was behaving. I know a lot of people, usually new-age types, who acted like this. People develop an ideal picture of what being "nice" or spiritual is like, and then try to fit that image. I don't think they're genuinely trying to deceive people, I think it's subconscious and sincere, even if it may be misled (or, maybe I'm the one misled and she's right, who knows?). I can't really feel anything but compassion for people with such a high degree of earnestness.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Karma Jinpa » Sun May 18, 2014 12:32 am

Zhen Li, this is why you should read the whole thread and all the associated articles before weighing in if at all possible. That's what I've done, and suggest others do. I know you're well-meaning from interacting with you on other threads, but I must inform you that your comments reveal just how little you know of this situation.

Michael Roach somehow went from being a well-meaning, dedicated student of the abbot of Sera Mey monastery in India --- learning to translate Tibetan and even getting a somewhat honorary Geshe degree --- to a self-styled guru who indoctrinated others who simply sought the Dharma, or what they thought was Dharma. He added in Western yoga and Hinduistic elements, making his own brand and touting it as authentic Dharma. Once the folks at Sera Mey and HH Dalai Lama caught wind of him living in a sexual relationship while still wearing monk's robes (indicating he was celibate), he was banned from teaching in Dharamsala. Unfortunately, somehow the warning signs were concealed from or ignored by those who came to follow Roach, and there have been many consequences, one of which was the death of Ian Thorson.

Christie McNally may have indeed started out as a nice person, but it seems she got the brunt of Roach's focus in making this into a cult because at the time she was his lover. He poured much of his energy into propping her up as divine and infallible (though I'm sure subtly retaining a level of control through their relationship). He convinced her that she was a lama --- his lama, even --- and Vajrayogini in the flesh, not through authentic training and verifiable signs, but only based on his word and his tainted teachings. Things only got worse from there. Roach is said to have, in his own very bizzare literalist interpretation of some of the tantras, given his disciples McNally's vaginal fluids, telling them it was blessed nectar. Worse, he told his disciples to never question McNally, no matter how violent or crazy she seemed to become. Basically, it looks like he unhinged her and then let her run wild.

There are anecdotes about a Kali initiation led by McNally that are very dark and violent, complete with blood sacrifices, tons of weapons, and disciples being forced into confined spaces. For their sake, I hope that everyone who touched the dull medical instrument in giving their blood got tested afterwards... The first thing I thought of when reading that was that they could've been infected with any number of diseases that come from sharing blood or touching non-sterile instruments. Not to shame anyone suffering from illness, but who knows how many of those followers may have AIDS, etc., and passed it on to others during this ritual? Others reported being sexually groped during a supposed "Yamantaka initiation."

Roach and McNally split up, and McNally became exclusive with Thorson. Can't remember if there was any partner swapping before the split, but I seem to remember it being mentioned.

The incident with the knife occurred when McNally was supposedly in one of Roach's retreats and got a hold of a large knife since the samurai sword on hand was too unwieldy. McNally claimed she was fooling around and accidentally cut Thorson. The doctor who stitched him up said that there were 3 wounds, one of which was deep enough to have almost damaged Thorson's internal organs. Not sure how you can call that an accident, but due to the mentality being cultivated by Roach in his followers, the whole thing got swept under the rug --- Thorson got stitched up, and the medical practitioner never reported the incident to any authorities. When Roach finally heard about it thanks to McNally revealing that it had occurred in one of her "teachings," he started to backpedal and distance himself from McNally. Personally, I think he began to realize that even he couldn't control her anymore --- a scary prospect for someone who he'd touted as divine, a lama, and the retreat master within his own organization.

After that, there was a domino effect and certain people at Diamond Mountain took action against McNally. DM higher ups claim they asked McNally and Thorson to leave peaceably and gave them plenty of time, but I'm more inclined to believe McNally's version of events on this particular issue (distorted as they may be), rather than the clearly sterilized version presented by Roach and approved by the board members. Having heard from a lama who underwent an authentic 3 year retreat, it's obvious that retreatants are very susceptible to anyone disturbing their retreat and need to reintegrate slowly, otherwise lots of things can go wrong --- and this is for people who underwent retreat under ideal conditions with the guidance of authentic gurus. I can only imagine what shape McNally and Thorson were in, mentally and physically, when they were interrupted by DM officials from outside their retreat and were initially given a mere hour to leave the premises.

While cooler heads prevailed and they were given 5 days to vacate, it appears that with the initial shock the damage was already done. What did anyone honestly expect the response of those two to be? Where did they expect them to go, given such little time to reacclimate? They wanted nothing to do with DM after being betrayed, and supposedly faked receipts to show they'd left the area. Meanwhile, they hadn't really gone too far, just over onto goverment land nearby to continue their retreat. Apparently one or more in the DM ranks were sympathetic to the couple, and someone was bringing them provisions.

Amidst all of this, they supposedly became too weak from their "practice" to go down to where they'd stashed their water, and Thorson died of dehydration in the Arizona desert, with McNally languishing herself. Questions have been raised about whether she made a call for help before or after he'd expired. Christie was airlifted to get medical attention, and hasn't really been heard from since except for a supposed sighting in Kathmandu where she was denied a visit with Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Now it's been over two years since the death of Thorson, and the rest of the participants who started off alongside McNally & Thorson came out of their "3 year retreat" in April.

With the blind leading the blind, it's no wonder that people started falling off the cliff. Here's hoping that more will realize their surroundings and back away from the precipice...
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།


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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby smcj » Sun May 18, 2014 12:52 am

Lama drama. Quite seductive.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Karma Jinpa » Sun May 18, 2014 1:13 am

As for whether or not one can derive authentic understanding from the teachings of unqualified or indeed malicious gurus, I think that merits quite a bit of discussion.

If one extends the notion of karmic seeds and fruit to this, the answer would seem to be very cut and dry: poison seeds yield poison fruit, and medicinal seeds yield medicinal fruit. Therefore, one can't benefit from a bad guru because they would, as the argument follows, be giving bad teachings. However, I'm not sure this is an apt analogy.

Many great masters claim that they are unenlightened, simple beings, and not really in a position to benefit others. Yet the majority of us believe this is them simply remaining humble, and have derived real benefit thanks to them. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche himself has said (in the film Words of My Perfect Teacher) that a person can derive real benefit from someone else, even if it's simply from sitting next to them on a bus and they're totally unaware of the person having this perception of their helpfulness.

Therefore I think it's got just as much to do with the perception of the student as it does the intentions of the teacher.

This has been borne out in my own experience. Not many of you know that my first introduction to the Buddha's teachings was through a friend trying to recruit me into a cult. The first book I read was The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying, and I started off doing simple shamata meditation with him and another friend. Eventually, I was introduced to their "guru." Though the meeting was brief, this man "taught" me a few things about the aggregates and the false notion of Self. This encounter stayed with me, and based on my own understanding of what he taught, I've been told by authentic teachers (in both the Chan and Vajrayana traditions) that I've come to the correct understanding.

If an inauthentic guru necessarily gives wrong teachings, this shouldn't be possible.

I know that this man is a self-styled guru and (at least attempting to be) the leader of a cult based on his actions and lack of qualifications. My friends had to get anything they wanted to read approved by this guy first, and often he would give them something totally different instead. Stranglehold on the conduit of information: check. He prohibited them from associating with the only genuine sangha in the area. They followed this for the most part, except when a visiting lama came to town, and even then they would leave shortly after the teachings concluded. So there's your isolation. And despite claiming to be a tantric guru, this guy hadn't even completed a single ngöndro or done any extended retreats (other than the ones he himself implemented).

Eventually I was found to be too much of a free-thinker and my friends were told never to associate with me again. For a long time I got the cold shoulder, but then for whatever reason contact resumed and I found out this guy was the reason behind my being ostracized. Eventually, after both mental and physical abuse, my other friend got away from the situation. He is now happily practicing Chan, and while he respects and still attends some Vajrayana teachings, he simply doesn't have the same taste for tantra after suffering at the hands of those that abuse it.

While I dodged the bullet, these initial encounters were actually my first footsteps onto the path. Knowing where my head was intially, without them I'm not sure I'd have met authentic gurus and still be here talking to all of you. Just goes to show you that no matter how you enter the path or how misguided your first steps are, there is always the possibility of course-correcting and making some actual progress.

In that vein, I hope that all of the Diamound Mountain folks meet authentic gurus and derive some benefit from their study, contemplation, and meditation --- no matter how small it may be. May they all realize their true nature and the ultimate fruition of enlightenment!
"The Sutras, Tantras, and Philosophical Scriptures are great in number. However life is short, and intelligence is limited, so it's hard to cover them completely. You may know a lot, but if you don't put it into practice, it's like dying of thirst on the shore of a great lake. Likewise, it happens that a common corpse is found in the bed of a great scholar." ~ Karma Chagme

དྲིན་ཆེན་རྗེ་བཙུན་བླ་མ་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།
ཀརྨ་པ་མཁྱེན་ནོ།


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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Zhen Li » Sun May 18, 2014 2:58 am

No doubt, it's not an appealing organisation.

I'd still be a bit cautious in believing everything that is said about these events, and it does seem to be of a somewhat different character to the experience you had with the cult.
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