by Dan Green
When Indian sage guru Padmasambhava, also known as the Second Buddha, prophesied more than one thousand years ago;
‘When the iron bird flies and the horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the world, and the Dharma will come to the land of the red men (America)’
The writing was on the Monastery wall.
It was always going to happen whether it be national karma or simply destiny enacted by Chinese intentions to fizzle out Tibetan national identity. A country whose hoisted upon them claim to fame is the title of perhaps the most mystical representative upon earth, found their culture traveling to the West, a newly born babe there of only 200 years, in order to maintain its culture and its individual brand of Buddhism.
What Padmasambhava either didn’t think of at the time, or didn’t want to announce, was that Tibetan Buddhism as it was known would have to alter somewhat noticeably in order to survive in the West (where non-attachment is 99.9% unrealistic and impossible), acceptable, one supposes, when a premier tenet of the philosophy itself is that everything is impermanent, must change and cannot remain the same. Ironic perhaps that this should occur when the Dharma did arrive in the West. Once upon a time Lamas were entirely oriental, now they train up those considered dedicated enough and who in time are then entitled to call themselves a ‘lama’, in turn they are the teachers of the Western enlightenment seeking Sangha. In the same way that it is near impossible to accurately translate Tibetan language into English, is it just as near impossible to translate Eastern Buddhism into an acceptable complimentary Western form?
Tibet – Natural Home of Tibetan Buddhism
Contemplating that, we have had a lengthy queue of ‘bad boy’ lamas who have happily succumbed to the ways of the West and whose lifestyle are more akin that of a rock star, with, yes, a smattering of sex and drugs and rock n roll thrown in. How can this be so? Verse 307 in Chapter 22 of the collections of sayings of the Buddha, the scriptural Dhammpada, even warns; ‘Many with the yellow robe on their backs are of evil character and uncontrolled..’ and so, with human nature on trial, perhaps little has changed as of yet, for even right now here in the UK former celebrated Holier-than-Thou celebrities are being exposed in public for their masked hidden evils, we are to be vigilant for the saintly frauds.
The first Tibetan centre in Europe was at Samye-Ling in Dumfries, Scotland, and it was here that perhaps the first of the controversial lamas was placed. Chogyam Rinpoche more than any other was responsible for the introduction of ‘Crazy wisdom’ in the west, and perhaps his craziest moment was when he crashes his car into a joke shop whilst drunk. That it was a joke shop makes one wonder, again in our understanding of the karmic sense of things, perhaps a greater source was trying to tell Chogyam something. Certainly unfunny was that as a legacy of his high jinx he was left quite paralysed down the right hand side of his body. Earlier, he had renounced his monk status, decided that robes where ‘props’ that he felt no longer necessary to wear in the West, and at 30 took a wealthy sixteen year old young bride, Diana Mukpo.
The controversial Chogyam Trungpa
Of all the people in the world that I should have met but never, it was Chogyam. He had left Samye by the time I had arrived, having fallen out with my own teacher Akong Rinpoche his friend and co-founder of Samye-Ling. Appallingly, this authentic and compassionate lama was murdered last year in China during a robbery at his home.
Akong had accused Choggy of betraying his ‘Tibetan-ness’ (a bit like Michael Jackson turning ‘white’) and becoming a Westerner, only tolerated Trungpa’s drinking and sex on the grounds that he kept it private and hidden, eventually having to explain to students that he had gone crazy. Trungpa would be an easy target to dismiss had he not been such an inspirational and brilliant indisputable teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, a forerunner in introducing Vajrayana to the West – it was the behaviour in his own personal life that split the decision on whether he was fit to teach anyone or not, judging by his own example whilst away from Tibet. Further controversy beckoned when Trungpa chose his dharma heir, the Westerner Osel Tendzin, who whilst infected with HIV was sexually involved with his unaware students, one of them going on to die from him infecting her. When Tendzin had asked Trungpa what he should do, it was advised he kept his HIV a secret as all would be okay if he continued with his purification rituals.
Lama Akong Rinpoche
Roll the three major Marx brothers into one and you have a personification of Crazy wisdom, but does this mean anyone – perhaps an individual with mild learning difficulties or even a mild mental illness – could pass as an example of a crazy wisdom teacher? One thinks of the portrayal of Chance Gardener in the 1979 comedy drama ‘Being There’ whereby a simple, sheltered gardener mistaken for a genius becomes unlikely trusted adviser to an insider into Washington politics. Crazy wisdom, translated in Tibetan as ‘wisdom gone wild,’ keeps good company, with parallels in Indian and Buddhist traditions of Hindu, Tantra and Zen and, arguably and debatably, also with Sufism, Bonpo, Taoism, and Shamanism. But is it enough to qualify and allow certain teachers their outlandish behaviours when it includes sex, alcohol and drugs? You can imagine how welcome this form of Buddhism is in the West! Is it ‘Buddhism’ any longer or is this the ‘new face’ that allows it to survive there? Or is genuine in its aspirations and simply abused by charlatans who are no more actual lamas than the drunk in your local pub?
Sex scandals are, unfortunately, rife in our investigation into Western Tibetan Buddhism, and, disappointingly not restricted to the West only. Allegations of abuse of young monks in monasteries in Asia have escalated and are open to belief or disbelief depending on if you have an agenda. We must bear in mind that it would be unrealistic to think that the Chinese would not take advantage of propaganda in order to maintain and further along a character assassination of all that remains precious to Tibetan reputation. In October 2011 the Tibetan Buddhist community was stunned by the candid revelations of 21 year old Teacher Kalu Rinpoche (himself accused of sexual molestation in his previous incarnation!) who in a spontaneous YouTube video told of his rape at the hands of elder monks in his monastery, and his descent into drugs and alcoholism. Whether his story is true or not, this opened the monastery doors for other individuals to tell their own accounts of similar events.
Whistleblower – Kalu Rinpoche
Let us take a brief look at but a few of the bad boys of Buddhism, ably gathered together more comprehensively in an Internet article ‘Controversial Buddhist teachers and Groups,’ last year. Lama Choedak Rinpoche of Canberra, Australia, admitted to serious allegations of sexual misconduct, multiple affairs with his female students, and then there is the case of self-appointed Austrian lama Kelsang Chopel, and serious sexual abuse at the Mahayana Buddhist Centre, Middelburg, from 2003-08, where the lama, real name Gerhard Mattioli, had sex with his drugged students, one resulting in pregnancy. There are serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Geshe Kelsang Gyatso including Nepalese nuns, as of yet unproven as alleged victims will not publicly speak out, and Sogyal Rinpoche, Dzogchen lama of the Nyingma tradition, regular speaker at conferences around the world, and author of the best-selling ‘The Tibetan book of living and dying’ was subject to claims that using his powerful position he used this to have sex with some of his female students. A 1995 out of court settlement ended the previous year’s $10 million dollar civil lawsuit filed against him, with substantial damages paid out to the plaintiff.
Controversial – Sogyal Rinpoche
The good name of Samye-Ling has, unfortunately not escaped its darker moments either. In September 2000 a police investigation into sex abuse announced a scandal involving an unnamed senior monk – later revealed as an Englishman known as Tsering Tashi, real name Timothy Mannox – accused by an 18 year old novice who had been a monk for a year of abusing him whilst he was 16, as well as claims of assault against three men, further accusations claiming that seniority at the centre was turning a blind eye to drug use, sexual affairs, theft and deception. Whistleblowing Kevin Stevenson further alleged that he saw residents smoke cannabis and take LSD, going on to claim that a monk stole several golden Buddha’s from the retreat shop and pawned them for heroin in Dumfries, and some monks behaving intimately with female visitors.’ Of more than a 100 residents there, probably only 20 are genuinely interested in Buddhism’ he added. Earlier in the year in June another monk, whilst a guest at the centre, Tenzin Chonjoe, had been convicted of assaulting a 14 year old girl. Drunk at the time and with an already drink problem, he was sentenced to three months imprisonment and placed on the sex offenders register. How could this have been the same Samye-Ling I had stayed at in1977? Worse was to follow in October 2012 when over in Dijon at the Samye-Ling Centre in France, ordained Lama Tempa Dargye was held in provisional detention when four women made allegations of rape and sexual violence.
Samye-Ling, Tibetan Centre, Dumfries
As if sex scandals aren’t damaging enough to Tibetan Buddhism, there is also the Dorje Shugden controversy, which in short is as follows; The Dalai Lama is head of the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism the Gelug whose protectorate is that of Dorje Shugden, a figure that some say is a vengeful and wrathful spirit whilst others view him as a Buddha. As far back as 1976 The Dalai Lama publicly urged the followers of Shugden to give up their devotion, claiming it was promoting sectarianism. The earlier mentioned Tibetan born monk Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, founder of the ‘New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union’, responding to this edict, branded the Dalai Lama as a religious persecutor, opposing the human rights of those wishing religious practice and of spreading untruths – basically calling the overall spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism a liar and a bully. The Shugden Supporter Community now organise protests against the Dalai when he appears on his European and American tours.
Tellingly, it has been uncovered that the Chinese Government as part of their regime of character assassination against the Dalai Lama are behind the scene financing Shugden activity and within their controlled territory demand monks to worship Shugden whilst denouncing the Dalai, subsidising the construction of Shugden temples and monasteries.
Controversial – Dorje Shugden….Wrathful spirit or Buddha?
Given that in 2011, by changing strategic law, the Chinese have just about stated that they will select the next reincarnation of a Dalai Lama, thus the likely situation will be that we will witness two reincarnations, one Communist state backed and the other by Tibetans, just as we have had the equally ridiculous stand-off with the selection of the Panchen Lama, the highest ranking lama after the Dalai, who at the age of six was recognised by his Holiness before being immediately kidnapped by Chinese Government officials never to be seen again, replaced by the son of two Communist party members. Clearly, the future of Tibetan Buddhist in the East is being severely jeopardised, if it continues to exist at all. Thus, more pressure to keep its essence is placed on the West. with a changing face to suit Western capability, and further challenge from supporters of Dorje Shugden seeking to supplant the Dalai Lama.
Manhattan Dorje Shugden protest
What is going on? Drawing upon my tools of the lost Mother Tongue, confirmation of the connectivity of all things as confirmed by Quantum Entanglement, and thus with a cosmological perspective, I will offer my own explanation. Studies have linked the public health crisis of excess sugar consumption, now as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco and eight times more addictive than cocaine, not only to obesity and diabetes but also to heart disease and depression. The word ‘diabetes’ contains in anagram, the place name of Tibet, the country that has had much of its population forcibly exited by the Chinese. I have explained in an earlier Blog that the word ‘Chinese’ is, in Mother Tongue, ‘Chines es’, a phonetic for ‘Kinesis’, a word that in its combining form denotes movement, its adjective having its roots in the Greek word for motion. Kinesis moves, and this has been overtly demonstrated by the Chinese forcing or politically moving of the Tibetans out of their own land.
Chinese Kinesis – Moving Tibetans out
The Mother Tongue also reveals within the word and the part of the brain called the Hypothalamus, which plays a key role in hunger, the Pothala, once home of the Dalai Lama – hy POTHALA mus, as well as the term ‘High Lamas’ – HY potha LAMUS. Now, a threat to Tibetan unification, is Dorje SHUGden, and so it is no surprise that the name contains ‘Shug’, (phonetically pronounced as ‘Shuga’) is a word not only short for ‘sugar’ but also means ‘to crawl, to sneak’, indicative of Chinese intentions. It is the Gelug School that has embraced Shugden, and it is they who are alternatively known as the Yellow Hat sect. Cosmologically, we are to view their chosen donning of their yellow hat in a medical sense, for this mane haired headwear unconsciously resembles the digestive organ of the pancreas, located behind the lower part of the stomach and which plays an important part in diabetes. A sign of a problem with the pancreas is when the skin turns yellow.
Gelug Yellow Hats –The Pancreas
One of the two major hormones produced by the pancreas is called glucagon, and from the word we discover a veiled ‘Gelug’ – phonetic ‘Gluc’. In type 1 diabetes, beta cells (find ‘beta’ in ‘Tibetan’) producing insulin are attacked by the body’s immune system and as more of these cells are killed off the pancreas struggles to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels down and the symptoms of diabetes begin to appear. Too much sugar eaten frequently forces long term wear on the pancreas causing it to age more rapidly than elsewhere in the body resulting in pancreatic failure – diabetes.
Tibet, it appears, is under attack in more ways than by the obvious and mundane, and with it its chief export – Buddhism, which is being eroded away at – reinvented and claimed by the Western world, often by dubious practitioners. I would like to clarify I am not suggesting we shy away from authentic Tibetan Buddhism or Buddhism in general – far from it – but that we make ourselves mindful that not all involved in Sangha activities may be what they profess to be, as verse 307 in the Dhammapada alludes.
Kidnapped….The Panchen Lama
Copyright 2014 by Dan Green
Presented with permission