Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby dude » Sun May 18, 2014 7:20 am

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 think that's very true indeed.
"Rely on the Law and not on persons."
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 9:09 am

It looks like karma jinpa must have watched the dateline episode and read some stuff on the web written by people who were there for a month or two.

It's very clear and obvious to me that no one on this forum was there or has ANY idea at all what actually took place.


That being said, the truth is stranger then fiction.

But I will say that karma jingpa has no idea what he is talking about at all.
Last edited by DiamondSutra on Sun May 18, 2014 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby heart » Sun May 18, 2014 9:19 am

DiamondSutra wrote:But I will say that karma lingpa has no idea what he is talking about at all.


You probably mean Karma Jinpa, right? Just curious, but if you where present when these things happened why don't you just set us right?

/magnus
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 9:29 am

Truth is stranger then fiction.
So far it seems like your the only person interested in what actually happens down there.

But.... someone being "led to their death" or getting aids off of a knife (or whatever that was about) makes for much more interesting reading!
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 9:35 am

Put it to you this way, don't believe everything you read.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun May 18, 2014 9:45 am

DiamondSutra wrote:Truth is stranger then fiction.
So far it seems like your the only person interested in what actually happens down there.

But.... someone being "led to their death" or getting aids off of a knife (or whatever that was about) makes for much more interesting reading!
Who said anything about getting AIDS off a knife? It seems that your truth is stranger than fiction indeed!
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Karma Jinpa » Sun May 18, 2014 9:48 am

Magnus, I'm pretty sure you were asking DiamondSutra if he was there personally, but I'll answer for myself since apparently I've been called into question.

No, I was not there in person, nor do I have firsthand knowledge of these matters. Never claimed to. This is why in my post I frequently used phrases like "it seems," "it appears," "apparently," etc. What I did was aggregate the available data for Zhen Li, since I had gone thru the entire thread and read the various sources, whereas Zhen Li had not. Admittedly I gave my personal opinions --- especially in regards who I believe regarding the very different versions given about how McNally and Thorson came to leave the retreat --- but I thought that where I did that was pretty obvious. Overall, what's out there is far more negative than positive surrounding Diamond Mountain and the incidents with Roach, McNally, and the late Thorson (may he rest in peace).

Not so sure you can gloss all of the articles and comments as fanciful, DiamondSutra, especially since some of them were made by reputable news organizations and clearly covered events that aren't in dispute as having occured (the knife incident between McNally & Thorson being medically treated but going unreported, that the two were told to leave the premises, and the circumstances surrounding Thorson's death as corroborated by the autopsy, for instance).

It's very amusing that you confused me with a great master like Karma Lingpa. I'll take that as an unintentional --- and obviously unmerited --- compliment.

I'd like to second the question Magnus has asked of you, DS. Is your reason for calling me out because you have firsthand knowledge of the events at Diamond Mountain? If so, why wait two years to start coming forward?
"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།
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 9:51 am

Karma jinpa wrote
"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.""

I'm sure he got this off some website.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 9:56 am

Karma jinpa, I already know you weren't there!

It's clear you are relying on reputable news outlets like playboy, rolling stone or dateline for your information.

"especially in regards who I believe regarding the very different versions given about how McNally and Thorson came to leave the retreat"

Let's be real the people who you believe were not there. And if they were there, there aren't there for long, maybe at the qrt but they were not there when any of that happened.

So google away!
but on this one none of you have any idea what you are talking about!

And by the way, i'm curious to know what website did you get your knife story from?
That's a new one to me!
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 10:10 am

And really no diss to anyone here, really, not even you Karma Lingpa!
But you guys are just re writing what you read from google searches and you know it!
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Karma Jinpa » Sun May 18, 2014 10:11 am

Sherab Dorje wrote:Who said anything about getting AIDS off a knife? It seems that your truth is stranger than fiction indeed!

Greg, I was referring to the anecdote about the Kali initiation when I mentioned that concern, in case I was unclear. Perhaps I accidentally misused the term "blade" in referring to this, and that's what led to the confusion with the knife incident between McNally and Thorson. If so, mea culpa.

The person who posted the comment talked about being told that Kali demanded his blood, and then gave a description of using some sort of medical device on his finger which had become dull from repeated use. After several attempts, it eventually elicited a few drops of his blood. I couldn't help but think that they weren't sterilizing this piece of equipment between each person using it (as would have been proper considering that each use would contaminate it with bodily fluids, making it a biohazard). And the risk would be compounded by however many people used the same object on themselves when participating in the ritual. If the device was a lancet intended to test a diabetic's blood sugar as I believe, those are supposed to be single-use only, and the packaging warns about multiple uses being potentially harmful, even on the same person...

Here's what I'm talking about, originally quoted by Adamantine (http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=8137&start=140#p103184). I've given it in it's entirety, lest anyone think I made something up. The relevant part which concerned me has been emphasized:
Adamantine wrote: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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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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Last edited by Karma Jinpa on Sun May 18, 2014 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
"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 JKhedrup » Sun May 18, 2014 10:15 am

Also there was a story on Dateline NBC, which is a relatively reputable source.

Whatever one feels about MR or his credentials one thing is clear. He put Christy McNally, who was not qualified, in charge of the retreat. A retreat in which a large number of people were participating. She was not emotionally stable and had a type of breakdown which led to her stabbing her husband Ian. As a result of that, they were expelled from the retreat property, but still in a state of psychosis, determined to complete the retreat in a desert cave. This lead to the death of the young Ian Thorson.

Michael Roach did not return after the first incident with the knife. Even after the death of Ian Thorson he offered very little support to the people in retreat, choosing instead to continue his world tour presenting the teachings on karma to businesspeople. He only showed up again at Diamond Mountain for the exit of the retreatants.

In short, he appointed unqualified people to lead a retreat people sacrificed 3 years of their lives to participate in. He appointed a retreat leader who was unqualified and experienced a psychotic break. Instead of canceling his tour to come to Diamond Moutain and help the people in crisis, he instructed the board to expel Christie and Ian. As they were still in an emotionally unstable state, they decided to live in a cave where it was not humanly possible to survive.

As a result of this, Ian Thorson died.

A critical light should be cast on Michael Roach and Diamond Mountain because of this, just for the reasons of safety of future participants.

The strange take on tantra practiced at DM and its brand of new age Buddhism are a matter of opinion. The above is a matter of public safety.
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 DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 10:19 am

Karma Lingpa, come on, you just cited some comment on some blog!
Last edited by DiamondSutra on Sun May 18, 2014 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 10:28 am

Jkhendrup,
I always like your posts on here.and almost everything you wrote is correct except for one thing. You said that Geshe Michael only returned to diamond mt at the end of the retreat. Actually he had come there shortly after Ian had passed and had returned several times before the retreat ended.

Some of what was on the dateline was pretty off too, but close enough that we can let it slide.

I'm glad this thread has gotten reasonable again. Too many made up storys and nonsense, I had to say something. Otherwise the nonsense would have just continued.

Leave it to Jkhendrup to bring it back to reality.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Karma Jinpa » Sun May 18, 2014 10:32 am

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/tragedy-at-diamond-mountain-an-update/

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.


This is how "some blog" defines itself. It was being referred to by several users of this forum, including well-respected moderators, so I considered its contents fair game for discussion seeing as it was already being done.

As to whether or not the comment by ekanthomason was factual, I can't say because I wasn't there. However, based on the other information which had come to light from reputable sources, it seemed to be within the realm of possibility for me. With that in mind, I decided to express my concern about what seemed to be a health risk.

I'm pretty sure that's not out of bounds. I daresay it's showing compassion on a Buddhist forum.
"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 JKhedrup » Sun May 18, 2014 10:33 am

I am glad MR went back to DM more than I had thought, that is a good thing.

I must admit I have been quite upset with MR in the past, as I believe he has created a lot of misunderstandings about TB and the monastic tradition.

However, I also feel for the people at DM who dedicated their lives to the dharma, 3 years of their lives to go into retreat.

I do not want to further vilify or marginalize a community that is already in crisis, especially when several former members of that community have reached out to me for help connecting with teachers or other people who could offer them advice on how to continue with their practice despite what has happened.

While I don't want to vilify, I also want to make sure that safeguards are in place and the public is aware of what happened at DM, to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. The interview with Kaye Thorson, Ian's mother, on Dateline, was heartbreaking to watch.

Indeed, I felt as if I could have been Ian Thorson, as in my first years of Buddhism I was equally naieve and unrealistic, but very sincere. So I really feel for his family and the family of Christy McNally in this difficult time.

My feeling is that MR has to bear some responsibility for what happened, and if he is not able to be around Diamond Mountain often enough to ensure its direction, he should offer it to a qualified Buddhist teacher with the time to guide it.
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 DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 10:43 am

You cite these people who no one hardly even remembers who they are because they were never actually around and only came for a weekend or two and I doubt you even know them in real life!

Get real Karma, your reputable sources are this website you listed, other websites like it, playboy, rolling stone and dateline.

Maybe my idea of a credible source and yours are different.

But the made up stories and nonsense it bit much.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby JKhedrup » Sun May 18, 2014 10:45 am

Why do you feel the Dateline story isn't credible?

It included an interview with Ian Thorson's family.

And Ian was involved with Diamond Mountain for many years.

I thought the story was quite well done.

New York Times is also pretty credible and they wrote an article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/us/my ... .html?_r=0

My interest is not to prove or disprove MR's brand of Buddhism here, but make sure that the community does not experience more similar tragedies in the future.
Last edited by JKhedrup on Sun May 18, 2014 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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
JKhedrup
 
Posts: 2327
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 8:28 am
Location: the Netherlands and India

Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Karma Jinpa » Sun May 18, 2014 10:47 am

JKhedrup wrote:I am glad MR went back to DM more than I had thought, that is a good thing.

I must admit I have been quite upset with MR in the past, as I believe he has created a lot of misunderstandings about TB and the monastic tradition.

However, I also feel for the people at DM who dedicated their lives to the dharma, 3 years of their lives to go into retreat.

I do not want to further vilify or marginalize a community that is already in crisis, especially when several former members of that community have reached out to me for help connecting with teachers or other people who could offer them advice on how to continue with their practice despite what has happened.

While I don't want to vilify, I also want to make sure that safeguards are in place and the public is aware of what happened at DM, to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. The interview with Kaye Thorson, Ian's mother, on Dateline, was heartbreaking to watch [...]

:good:

You should be commended for helping those former members of Dharma Mountain. It's far too easy to cast doubt on such painful issues in the hopes that they fade out of memory, or likewise to vilify the group as a whole for the sins or negligence of a few. Much more difficult to find a way to lend a hand and aid in undoing some of the damage.

JKhedrup wrote:Indeed, I felt as if I could have been Ian Thorson, as in my first years of Buddhism I was equally naieve and unrealistic, but very sincere. So I really feel for his family and the family of Christy McNally in this difficult time.

Seconded.
"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 DiamondSutra » Sun May 18, 2014 10:50 am

Jkhendrup,
You have a lot of wisdom.
A lot of things, even now still break my heart.
I cried when I watched the dateline.

What you said has alot of truth but if that discussion is only worth having if it is had free of the make believe stories.
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