Investigating fake lamas

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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby untxi » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:28 pm

There are an infinite number of sentient beings, and thus an infinite number of teachers that manifest to them to bring them to liberation--- and there are an infinite number of false teachers who manifest to serve their own purposes. That's samsara in the Kali Yuga.

Over the years I've seen people ringing the bell to warm others of false teachers. In the end, it usually ends up as some form of monomania as the same culprits get indicted again and again. So much so that forums like DharmaWheel have to ban discussion of certain topics. They're black holes. Chum the waters and the only recourse is to drain the whole ocean.

It's obviously useful to steer people away from false teachers, but it's more important to share with people how to examine a teacher, and to give them the information they need to make their own choices. If we just give people as list of "false teachers" the assumption is that everyone else is a "true teacher". Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Examining a teacher isn't a trivial topic. We need to share this with others.

I say that because the boards over the years have been rich in topics about different teachers associated with different extreme forms of dharma politics, and about lineages of questionable origin. Probably more dangerous are those lamas who come from unquestionable lineages, who have studied traditionally-- but who are false refuges. They have problems with alcohol or drugs. They have sex with their students. And so on. No roster of "false gurus" is going to cover this stuff.

Just saying.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Yudron » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:56 pm

Nice post Untxi!

Furthermore, it's a personal matter. For example, a lama have sex with his students for drinking a lot of alcohol doesn't bother me, but it may bother you. We each have images of what enlightenment looks like, such as an asexual teetotaler, or Yoda, or Spock, or Glenda the Good Witch... but I would argue that an enlightened lama can arise in any form. We connect with a form that is acceptable for us.


untxi wrote:There are an infinite number of sentient beings, and thus an infinite number of teachers that manifest to them to bring them to liberation--- and there are an infinite number of false teachers who manifest to serve their own purposes. That's samsara in the Kali Yuga.

Over the years I've seen people ringing the bell to warm others of false teachers. In the end, it usually ends up as some form of monomania as the same culprits get indicted again and again. So much so that forums like DharmaWheel have to ban discussion of certain topics. They're black holes. Chum the waters and the only recourse is to drain the whole ocean.

It's obviously useful to steer people away from false teachers, but it's more important to share with people how to examine a teacher, and to give them the information they need to make their own choices. If we just give people as list of "false teachers" the assumption is that everyone else is a "true teacher". Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Examining a teacher isn't a trivial topic. We need to share this with others.

I say that because the boards over the years have been rich in topics about different teachers associated with different extreme forms of dharma politics, and about lineages of questionable origin. Probably more dangerous are those lamas who come from unquestionable lineages, who have studied traditionally-- but who are false refuges. They have problems with alcohol or drugs. They have sex with their students. And so on. No roster of "false gurus" is going to cover this stuff.

Just saying.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:07 pm

Yudron wrote:We connect with a form that is acceptable for us.
You could sweep a lot under that rug.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Yudron » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:49 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Yudron wrote:We connect with a form that is acceptable for us.
You could sweep a lot under that rug.
:namaste:


Sure, you could. One does have to be careful.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby JKhedrup » Tue Jan 08, 2013 11:51 pm

I think when the Mahasiddhas were around they behaved differently but had powers and siddhis that they showed as well so that beings could have faith.

These days it seems to me most masters are behaving in a more conventional way. The monks live a monastic lifestyle and the householders often have wives and families.

I personally wouldn't be attracted to a womanizing alcoholic as a teacher unless he was displaying openly some major siddhis, but maybe that's just me. He may have been someone I hung out with back in my days as a layperson though. :namaste:
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Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Harold » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:31 am

How would you know the difference between a mahasiddha with powers and Mara or a demon with powers?

Unless you possess pure vision you just may choose the wrong one.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:38 am

Harold wrote:How would you know the difference between a mahasiddha with powers and Mara or a demon with powers?

Unless you possess pure vision you just may choose the wrong one.


That's really true, Harold. I'm curious what your own answer to this question is. How would you choose a lama for yourself?
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Harold » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:03 am

What I would look for at first is a Lama who will openly answer any background questions I have.

I was a 3rd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate.

I would show potential students my certificate and tell them what organization granted it to me and how they could verify it.

It's like any employment interview.

Like martial arts that has hundreds of styles like Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French etc etc. The student should seek out the style ( Vajrayana, Mahayana or Hinayana) that best suits them.

My teacher is a master in the Chod practice and that suits my background in the military and law enforcement.

The demons I faced were not in charnel grounds but real human beings with knives and guns that wanted to hurt innocent people.

Does that help.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby lama tsewang » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:12 am

Very well put Greg. There is a kind of Dharma rumor going around for many years that a real master can break any of the precepts and do whatever they like.
this is not a helpful teaching at all I think. It shows a very simple, an over simpilified view of Sila.
the general exoteric sort of view of the precepts , is that they are a way of accumulating merit for some future benefit. Or to put it another way they have a purpose that is separate from the Sila itself.

Now a more profound view is that Sila is not just a prescription for behaviour , but a description of enlightened bahviour. What do you think of that?

How to determine a good teacher? First of alll they are going to tell their students to follow conventional ethical conduct . And they will always teach them about karma and cause and effect.
If someone is a teacher, they will not say that their faults are some enlightened manifestation . They will acknowledge their faults . They are not free of karmic consequences of their actions. Only an arhat or very high level bodhisattva is free of karmic consequences


Those are a few ideas . they are merely opinions , even though its written , like they are not , i can write some more in a few moments.

If you want to seee if someone is a good teacher, look at their students . Isnt that important , because after all,, thats the point of teaching, to help the students.thats why youre going to them for teaching , isnt it , so you can learn for yourself, efffectively . Not so you can find the perfect idol outside of yourself that you can worship.

Tsewang


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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:52 am

I think that is a reasonable expectation. I didn't ask my lamas those questions, but I have the privilege to be in an area with lots of excellent senior American practitioners around--of 20 or 30 years or longer--to ask these questions of. Teachers in my tradition are not given certificates, but they are still associated with their teachers, or their teacher's other disciples, so it is very easy to determine what kind of reputation they had. Still, there are people on this board who associate with lamas who are not respected by their peers, and I'm always surprised they didn't get the memo.


Harold wrote:What I would look for at first is a Lama who will openly answer any background questions I have.

I was a 3rd degree black belt in Shotokan Karate.

I would show potential students my certificate and tell them what organization granted it to me and how they could verify it.

It's like any employment interview.

Like martial arts that has hundreds of styles like Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French etc etc. The student should seek out the style ( Vajrayana, Mahayana or Hinayana) that best suits them.

My teacher is a master in the Chod practice and that suits my background in the military and law enforcement.

The demons I faced were not in charnel grounds but real human beings with knives and guns that wanted to hurt innocent people.

Does that help.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Jinzang » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:34 am

I'll repeat what I've said before: a good teacher will know what they're talking about, both intellectually and from personal experience. And their motivation for teaching will be kindness and not personal gain. It's not a hard bar to pass, especially when you consider that a teacher doesn't need to know everything, just more than you.

And, as I've said before, one way of checking a teacher is to mildly criticize them. If they get angry, defensive, or criticize you in return, they're probably not a good teacher.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 09, 2013 4:56 am

Jinzang wrote:I'll repeat what I've said before: a good teacher will know what they're talking about, both intellectually and from personal experience. And their motivation for teaching will be kindness and not personal gain. It's not a hard bar to pass, especially when you consider that a teacher doesn't need to know everything, just more than you.

And, as I've said before, one way of checking a teacher is to mildly criticize them. If they get angry, defensive, or criticize you in return, they're probably not a good teacher.


There are different levels of teacher, and for the highest in the Vajrayana tradition, these qualities are a start but not all that is needed.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:13 am

Potential students: The time to ask around about lamas is before you receive empowerment from them. After receiving empowerment you have a commitment to see them purely. Ask senior students (in the Dharma more than 20 years) and other lamas privately about what they have heard about the lama's realization and ethical conduct. Everything one hears is not necessarily true, but one can weigh the preponderance of the evidence. Make sure and include some senior students who are not students of the lama in question. Visit the center or group and see how people behave, and whether there are older students there who are also students of other lamas, or have been in the past.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:40 am

untxi wrote:There are an infinite number of sentient beings, and thus an infinite number of teachers that manifest to them to bring them to liberation--- and there are an infinite number of false teachers who manifest to serve their own purposes. That's samsara in the Kali Yuga.

Over the years I've seen people ringing the bell to warm others of false teachers. In the end, it usually ends up as some form of monomania as the same culprits get indicted again and again. So much so that forums like DharmaWheel have to ban discussion of certain topics. They're black holes. Chum the waters and the only recourse is to drain the whole ocean.

It's obviously useful to steer people away from false teachers, but it's more important to share with people how to examine a teacher, and to give them the information they need to make their own choices. If we just give people as list of "false teachers" the assumption is that everyone else is a "true teacher". Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Examining a teacher isn't a trivial topic. We need to share this with others.

I say that because the boards over the years have been rich in topics about different teachers associated with different extreme forms of dharma politics, and about lineages of questionable origin. Probably more dangerous are those lamas who come from unquestionable lineages, who have studied traditionally-- but who are false refuges. They have problems with alcohol or drugs. They have sex with their students. And so on. No roster of "false gurus" is going to cover this stuff.

Just saying.


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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby greentara » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:18 am

Harold, Instead of a background check and giving the lama the third degree. Wouldn't it be enough if you found peace in his presence?
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:29 am

A beginning is a very delicate time -Princess Irulan


Many misconceptions of Buddhism and Gurus in the West, at least where I live, seem to come from misbehaving Gurus and their disciples in the 60s and 70s. For many people it seems the very word "Guru" summons thoughts of greedy perverts with robes.

From this, I think it can be understood that fake and otherwise bad lamas should be ostracized and warned against. We Buddhists must make it clear to other Buddhists and to our non-Buddhist countrymen that bad a lama's behavior is 1. the exception to the rule and 2. completely unacceptable.

Not for ourselves or for our Dharma Centers, but for Buddhism. Think about how many people feel drawn to Buddhism but avoid it because of Buddhism's bad reputation. Or people that leave a Buddhist cult and abandon Buddhism with a curse.

Now of course, we shouldn't start a Buddhist Inquisition or test our Gurus wanting them to fail, but I believe it is morally wrong to ignore bad lamas.

As for fears of disparaging a Guru, I find that unlikely. You can call the police on your Guru, and thank him for the lesson in what kind of lamas to watch out for. I think that's possible.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Harold » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:39 am

To Greentara

If the person is a fake, con artist or cult leader what do we all do just stand there and do nothing.

The woman named Marjoire Quinn Dadek aka Domo Geshe is one of these cult leaders.

She has Buddhist centres in various States in America and travels the world pretending to be Domo Geshe Rinpoche.

Parents have lost their sons and daughters to her.

Men and woman have left their families and children to follow her.

She is now ordaining people as MONKS and NUNS.

I don't think it is RIGHT SPEECH or RIGHT ACTION to just stand there and do nothing.

If some of you want to do that, fine with me but don't ask me to do the same.

It's just not in my DNA.

Lets start looking at some of these fake lamas for what they are, CULT LEADERS.

There are human lifes at stake here and we should NEVER forget this.

NEVER!!!!!
Last edited by Harold on Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:47 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby muni » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:40 am

greentara wrote: Wouldn't it be enough if you found peace in his presence?

That is great indeed, even to find that peace can be by a good portion of wratfulness.
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby Wayfarer » Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:52 am

I think in the USA there is now a formal association for Zen teachers which was created subsequent to some unsavory episodes in American Zen. From what experience I have with them they're a sober and solid group who have guidelines for every aspect of dealing with students and so on.

I don't think that would hurt inthe context of Tibetan Buddhism in the West, would it? I shouldn't think it's necessary in Tibet or the traditional places. But in the West there are many opportunities for exploitation and malfeasance. So maybe a teaching association with representatives from all the reputable training centers could be created. They could provide some sort of QA certification.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
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Re: Investigating fake lamas

Postby JKhedrup » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:02 am

For me personally I evaluate teachers according to the guidelines mentioned in the Lam Rim.
I didn't post those here because I realize that some people might feel they are too rooted in Sutra, and that true tantric gurus might manifest differently.

As I mentioned above, for me I prefer to rely on a teacher who manifests more conventionally- especially during these modern times when there is so much confusion, it seems a little bit safer. I also prefer to get to know gurus before taking them as teachers.

This can be politically difficult while working as a translator and living at a dharma centre, because when a lama comes on a tour everyone will ask "Why aren't you coming to the initiation/vow ceremony/tantric teachings etc."

These comments by Berzin I found helpful, on what being a fully qualified lama actually means:
http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/ar ... of+teacher



A guru is a very fully qualified spiritual master. The word literally means someone who is heavy, meaning with a great deal of weight of good qualities. The term is translated into Tibetan in various ways. One is the word “lama” (bla-ma), which again means a very highly realized master, although the term is used in different Tibetan type cultures in many different ways with lesser meanings. So in some Tibetan cultures “lama” is used just to refer to any monk. We certainly do not mean that with guru-yoga. And in other cultures it can be somebody who has just done a three-year retreat, which just means that they have become qualified to be a village priest and do rituals. We certainly don’t mean lama with that. And then there are some Western people who just declare themselves “lama” just pretentiously for various reasons – which might not be the purest. We certainly don’t mean that.

And also the term “lama” is used with a reincarnate lama. Such a person is called a “tulku” (sprul-sku) in Tibetan and they are referred to with the title “Rinpoche.” And we don’t necessarily mean that either. Just because someone is a reincarnate lama, that doesn’t mean that they are a qualified teacher. It could be a child. And even as an adult, if the conditions and circumstances for their raising, being raised, and their education and their environment and everything is not conducive, then since the vast, vast majority of them are certainly not enlightened, and certainly not even have had their perception of voidness (nonconceptual cognition of voidness), then negative karma ripens with them as well – which they still have – and they might not be acting like a proper teacher at all. So just because somebody has the title of tulku or reincarnate lama, it doesn’t mean that they are a great master. It just means the person who started their lineage was. So His Holiness the Dalai Lama always speaks very strongly about how these tulkus, the reincarnate lamas, should not rely just on their names, and their followers should not rely just on them having great names and high titles, but each reincarnate lama must prove themselves and their qualifications in this life.

Another name for a guru is coming from a slightly different Sanskrit term for this, is sometimes translated as “spiritual friend (kalyana-mitra).” And what this means – “spiritual” actually is not at all the word here – it’s a friend to help us to become constructive. The word that’s translated as “spiritual” (kalyana) actually means constructive. And so with someone who treats us – with whom we are very, very close – like a dear friend or a family member. It doesn’t mean somebody that we go drinking with and go to the movies with, but someone who we really have a heart to heart close connection with. The whole purpose of the relationship is to help us to be more and more constructive, more and more positive, to gain more and more good qualities. The Tibetan word for that is “geshe (dge-bshes, dge-ba'i bshes-gnyen).” It’s only later, much, much later, that it became a title for someone who completed the education system in the Gelug tradition. Its original meaning was a spiritual friend. The equivalent term in the other Tibetan traditions is “khenpo” (mkhan-po), which in other contexts means an abbot of a monastery. Literally, the word means a learned one.

So just because somebody is a Geshe or a Khenpo also doesn’t mean that they are spiritually developed or that they are at all a good teacher. It just means that they are very well-educated and passed a lot of exams, as we might see with university professors. Being well-learned is a qualification of being a great teacher, but just being well-learned is not enough. They also have to have the personalities that go with it, in which they really have developed all these good qualities that they have learned about.
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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