Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Paul » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:39 pm

ReasonAndRhyme wrote:Yeah, it's a textbook cultish way of thinking. With this line of "argument" you can systematically immunize your system against any critical input from the outside. It's typical brainwash style that he doesn't respond to the content of the criticism, instead he demonizes it as negative forces which have been unleashed.

I'm not exactly familiar with the lists of criteria normally given in books on how to recognize a cult, but I think this should be listed as a major warning signal: the leader does not respond to the content of criticism but demonizes the criticism as an expression of ill will or even evil forces.


The perverse version of madhyamaka that GMR has trotted out is possibly the best immunisation there is against criticism. It's a great way for any criticism to be turned back on the student and for any doubts to be crushed. I am convinced it has played a large part in this whole affair from beginning to end. It's why GMR viewed Christie as Vajrayogini, for example.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby username » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:01 am

Roach's big setup is a controlled one. There are varying types of setups with degrees of control from absolute cult to more loose setups. They all have one big guy, giant ego, at top though. He might talk soft sometimes when afraid as we see, but a leopard never changes his spots. These are special reborn spirits and proven to be ruthless. Secondly there are bully enforcers. These are often despised and weak in real life, wherever, so seek authority for their complex or other advantages. A minority are actually foolish zealot believers. Thirdly there are former bully enforcers who have taken up other activities.

Sometimes there is a big provider who might be owning the ranch. The top guy in cults or such "Dear Leader" type setups breaks samayas and directives from his teacher, drags their name everywhere, damages dharma, asks for money for dharma and abuses pupils and accuses others, etc. His underlings censor, punish and banish as he wishes.

So what is to be done as future victims and dharma will be damaged. The only option is legal peaceful and simple: exposure. The web basically has made life impossible for such "Dear Leader" type setups. Websites, local or offshore, inform the dharma world "For Ever" about these egoes and their bullies and former bullies. That is why the web has been great. All communications should be saved. It is good to make a vow to do this and then just a matter of timing. The bad old days of 70's & 80's can not be repeated. But in abusive setups the top guy plus the bullies and the retired bullies all need to be exposed thanks to freedom of information, civil rights and the web. Somethings are inevitble.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:59 pm

I was hoping a respected teacher would have something to say on what happened at Diamond Mountain before now.

The only thing I've seen is from American teacher Surya Das - and it's kinda a difficult to know what exactly he is saying.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lama-surya-das/spiritual-responsibility-_b_1597886.html

He certainly doesn't directly critize Roach in fact he kinda defends Diamond Mountain as open to misinterpretation. Basically he seems to be saying - if you get caught in a cult it's your own fault.

Can't say I'm impressed. Is this the best the Buddhist establishment in the US can do?
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby pemachophel » Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:16 pm

KV,

I don't find Lama Surya's article at all difficult to understand. Actually, I think it is cogent and well written for the audience He's writing for. I think He's making two main points:

1. Tibetan Buddhism is not a monolithic theocracy, although it may look that way to the uninitiated from the outside. Students (even when they become Teachers in their own right) are responsible really only to their direct Teacher(s). If a student goes rogue and no longer follows the commands of their Teacher, they're pretty much on their own to do as they will until the law of karma, cause and effect/action and fruit, catches up with them. Do not expect the TB hierarchy to denounce Geshe Roach. It's just not gonna happen. They don't operate that way. Should they operate that way is another question, and a good one, but that's a different discussion. In my experience, Tibetan Lamas do not make negative pronouncements about other Lamas in public, regardless of what they may say about those same Lamas in private.

2. The practices of TB can be dangerous and especially to those who are mentally/emotionally unstable. This is one reason the Guru-disciple relationship is so important. The Guru is supposed to check out the student just as carefully as the student is supposed to check out the Teacher. Only when the Teacher believes the student is ready are certain practices given or allowed. At least that's the way it's supposed to be. We all know about the metaphor of the snake in the bamboo tube, but, foolishly, most of us don't think that applies to us. Bottom line, Vajrayana is the fast path, but is also the dangerous path, and "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Obviously, Lama Surya is not gonna say exactly those things in His Huffington Post blog, but I believe that's what He'd say to you or me.

Further, unfortunately, even if the student has thoroughly vetted the Teacher, there is the possibility of the Teacher going over the edge. The Teacher going bonkers and leading His/Her students astray is one of the very real dangers of the Vajrayana. Chatral Rinpoche's wife/consort is the daughter of a famous mid 20th century Terton. This Lama had a vision of a bay-yul (hidden land) in the snow mountains. He told His students that they should follow Him to this bay-yul. Somewhere between 80-150 of this Lama's most devoted students sold all their worldly possessions and set off with their Lama to find this bay-yul. Their first attempt, they were turned back by some circumstances (I forget exactly what; a snow storm or something). So, after making further preparations, they tried again and were never heard from again. Some people, including some Lamas I have talked to, believe they were all swept to their deaths by an avalanche. Others believe this Guru and His chelas entered the hidden land and are residing there now. Those Lamas I've talked to who think this Teacher led His students astray do not criticize the students for any lack of perspicacity on their part. They use this story to drive home how dangerous the Vajrayana is. Honestly, to some extent it's a crap shoot and all depends on karma.

Sure, as organized, risk-averse Westerners (sorry, I'm presuming you're a Westerner), we would like to see a very neat and orderly hierarchy which polices itself and acts as a safeguard. But that's not the way this system currently operates. Further, ask yourself if you really think a highly organized hierarchy like the Catholic Church would do any better. Historically, think of the Inquisition. More contemporaneously, think of the priest-pedophile scandals. Bottom line, samsara is dangerous.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Knotty Veneer » Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:50 pm

pemachophel wrote: Do not expect the TB hierarchy to denounce Geshe Roach. It's just not gonna happen. They don't operate that way. Should they operate that way is another question, and a good one, but that's a different discussion. In my experience, Tibetan Lamas do not make negative pronouncements about other Lamas in public, regardless of what they may say about those same Lamas in private.


I have to disagree. I wish someone would grow a pair and make it clear he/she thinks people should stay away from Roach's group.

pemachophel wrote:The practices of TB can be dangerous and especially to those who are mentally/emotionally unstable. This is one reason the Guru-disciple relationship is so important. The Guru is supposed to check out the student just as carefully as the student is supposed to check out the Teacher. Only when the Teacher believes the student is ready are certain practices given or allowed. At least that's the way it's supposed to be. We all know about the metaphor of the snake in the bamboo tube, but, foolishly, most of us don't think that applies to us. Bottom line, Vajrayana is the fast path, but is also the dangerous path, and "fools rush in where angels fear to tread." Obviously, Lama Surya is not gonna say exactly those things in His Huffington Post blog, but I believe that's what He'd say to you or me.


To be honest, I don't think Roach was teaching Vajrayana in any sort of traditional way - he adding bits of Hinduism and heaven knows what else. Anyone with prior experience of a legittimate Tibetan Buddhist group would have smelt a rat immediately I suspect and stayed well away. But Roach I think abandoned the pure Dharma circuit in the 90s and has been selling his snake oil to the yoga crowd who are less experienced and apparently less discerning. Frankly, if you can accept Christie McNally is a Lama, you'll probably believe anything.

Surya Das' article seems to put on the responsibility on the poor dupe for not knowing that he should take 12 years to test out any potential guru. The sort of people who fall for the likes of Roach are not going to know or do that. Possibly Surya Das is being wary of law suits but this article does let Roach off easy and implies his retreat is not necessarily dodgy - it just looks like that to the inexperienced outsider.


pemachophel wrote:Sure, as organized, risk-averse Westerners (sorry, I'm presuming you're a Westerner), we would like to see a very neat and orderly hierarchy which polices itself and acts as a safeguard. But that's not the way this system currently operates. Further, ask yourself if you really think a highly organized hierarchy like the Catholic Church would do any better. Historically, think of the Inquisition. More contemporaneously, think of the priest-pedophile scandals. Bottom line, samsara is dangerous.


I'd like to hope we could do a lot better than the Roman Catholic church. They've got a head guy who can order people to keep schtum. The Dalai Lama doesn't have that power. Wasn't Surya Das among that self-appointed group of Western Teachers who met with HHDL a few years ago to talk about abuse at Western Dharma centers? In the light of that I would have thought he would have been a bit more forthright.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby honestdboy » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:57 am

Buddhists generally have an aversion to confrontation, so we cannot do better than the Catholic church. :shrug:
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby pemachophel » Sun Jun 24, 2012 4:12 pm

KV,

As I said, whether the TB hierarchy should behave differently in these kinds of situations is, I think, a very valid discussion to be had, and yes, Lama Surya is a member of the Western Teachers of TB group. In fact, they met not too long ago, I believe. Perhaps you should start another thread advocating that the TB hierarchy needs to get some cojones and be more proactive in putting the kibosh on Teachers who have crossed the line. It would also be interesting to hear from some Tibetan Lamas why they don't speak out in public on such issues.

As for whether we would do a better job than the RC church in creating an organized, self-policing hierarchy, honestly, I don't think so. People are people.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:05 pm

pemachophel wrote: It would also be interesting to hear from some Tibetan Lamas why they don't speak out in public on such issues.


Because they all have dirt on each other, or members of each other's lineages. If accusations start flying, it will never end.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Sun Jun 24, 2012 7:38 pm

pemachophel wrote:As I said, whether the TB hierarchy should behave differently in these kinds of situations is, I think, a very valid discussion to be had, and yes, Lama Surya is a member of the Western Teachers of TB group. In fact, they met not too long ago, I believe. Perhaps you should start another thread advocating that the TB hierarchy needs to get some cojones and be more proactive in putting the kibosh on Teachers who have crossed the line. It would also be interesting to hear from some Tibetan Lamas why they don't speak out in public on such issues.


I second every word of this.

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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby pemachophel » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:16 pm

"I second every word of this."

Perhaps, but, frankly, it ain't gonna happen. It's just not how they do things.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:26 pm

I know. But it's time for us to understand this as a shortcoming. Too many people here in the West still believe that saying something critical about fake teachers etc. is negative speech. It's overdue we come to undestand that the silence of Tibetan teachers has nothing to do with Buddhist ethics. It's Tibetan dharma policy. As Malcolm has pointed out many teachers are sitting in glasshouses. And often financial interests interfere as well.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Mariusz » Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:37 pm

Malcolm wrote:
pemachophel wrote: It would also be interesting to hear from some Tibetan Lamas why they don't speak out in public on such issues.


Because they all have dirt on each other, or members of each other's lineages. If accusations start flying, it will never end.
In the last webcast Namkhai Norbu warned not to point out faults of Tibetan Lamas openly. It will not benefit anything. Just leave them if you are sick to death of them is the best as I remember Namkhai Norbu.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby ReasonAndRhyme » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:30 pm

Mariusz wrote:In the last webcast Namkhai Norbu warned not to point out faults of Tibetan Lamas openly. It will not benefit anything. Just leave them if you are sick to death of them is the best as I remember Namkhai Norbu.


If somebody is a qualified teacher who gives authentic transmission and authentic teachings, it is fruitless to speak of his or her personal shortcomings.

But if somebody posing as a teacher is completely off the track, gives incorrect teachings and/or fantasy transmissions the situation is completely different. Pointing out that such a teacher is not authentic from a Buddhist point of view could indeed save people from following this teacher and from being lead into psychotic states of mind. If somebody claims this would not benefit anything I'd really like to hear the reasons.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby honestdboy » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:33 am

Mariusz wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
pemachophel wrote: It would also be interesting to hear from some Tibetan Lamas why they don't speak out in public on such issues.


Because they all have dirt on each other, or members of each other's lineages. If accusations start flying, it will never end.
In the last webcast Namkhai Norbu warned not to point out faults of Tibetan Lamas openly. It will not benefit anything. Just leave them if you are sick to death of them is the best as I remember Namkhai Norbu.


I fully trust Namkhai Norbu's advice. The Buddha would probably say the same. Difficult people should be avoided; I learned that as a kid. I have heard other lamas say that it is not wise to criticize Buddhist teachers because of "what they represent in your mind." :namaste:
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:47 am

honestdboy wrote:I fully trust Namkhai Norbu's advice. The Buddha would probably say the same. Difficult people should be avoided; I learned that as a kid. I have heard other lamas say that it is not wise to criticize Buddhist teachers because of "what they represent in your mind." :namaste:
In my eyes, any teacher that steps over some basic ethical and theoretical boundaries is no longer a Buddhist teacher and thus represents the worst aspects of my mind (egoistic, deceitful, proud, deluded, etc...), aspects that deserve open criticism. If they admit to their "wrong doing", express remorse and regret and work to overcome the shortcomings (instead of grabbing all the property title deeds and cash and setting up their own litle shangri-la in some remore part of the globe) then one stops criticising unless (until) something else comes up.

I believe that is the correct way for us to behave.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby honestdboy » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:16 am

Hmm, should we follow the advice of Namkhai Norbu or gregkavarnos? Tough decision! :alien:
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby simhanada » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:26 am

honestdboy wrote:Hmm, should we follow the advice of Namkhai Norbu or gregkavarnos? Tough decision! :alien:


You don't have to follow everything(or anything) ChNN or Greg has to say. If you want to follow eithers advice it would be good to do so with awareness.

If I knew someone considering becoming a student of Roach I'd be all to happy to tell them my thoughts on the matter.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:11 pm

honestdboy wrote:Hmm, should we follow the advice of Namkhai Norbu or gregkavarnos? Tough decision! :alien:
And this is indicator of a cult mentality: bypass logic and follow the leader. So what is the characteristic of Tibetan lamas per se that puts them beyond public criticism? Does this hold true only for Tibetan teachers or teachers of other nationalities too? Is this only for Buddhist teachers or teachers from other traditions too? Did anybody bother asking ChNN why he made this statement? You know, it is not considered negative, in a student-teacher relationship, for a student to ask for clarification. That is what teachers are there for.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby Pero » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:06 pm

Well I don't know the context of his saying this time since I wasn't participating in the webcast. But usually when he says this it's related to Dolgyal. He says that by criticizing you still maintain a connection through which you can receive negativities. Another context is that if you don't follow a teacher anymore that you don't go critize him and his teachings after you have found a different path that you think is better. I don't think he means this for stuff like concealing sexual abuse or plain craziness etc.. I could be wrong though, this is just my understanding.
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Re: Death at Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat in Arizona

Postby honestdboy » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:13 pm

That's true. I wouldn't follow something he said that was illogical or immoral. I just think that he is most probably right on this point. I definitely don't think we need to continue beating this dead horse for 10 or 20 more pages. :zzz: We're headed deep into the land of circular speculations. Do we really need to kick GMR after he has fallen down so low? If we really wish to be helpful, we should suggest ways he can improve his organization, e.g., screening people who want to take 3-year retreats and making it crystal clear that his teachings are a fusion of TB, yoga, Hinduism, new age, etc.. Sorry about my last post; I tend to feel sorry for people who have fallen from grace.
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