Perhaps more to the point, question the motives of high lamas appointing certain children as Tulkus. Gedun Chopel, in the early part of the 20th Century, gave back his robes as a tulku, saying he'd been "living a lie". He went on to write the Tibetan version of the Kama Sutra, and joined an organization of revolutionary Tibetans in Kalimpong, India, aimed at bringing down the theocracy.Quote
Question the very concept of reincarnation!
"One of Tibetan Buddhism's brightest stars and greatest hopes is 22 year old Kalu Rinpoche, the head of a global Tibetan Buddhist enterprise, of 44 monasteries and teaching centers, including 16 in the United States, that engage thousands of students and disciples. Many of these followers are inherited, the result of his being recognized at age 2 as the incarnation of Kalu Rinpoche, who died in 1989 and was one of the most influential lamas in the West asid from the Dalai Lama.
(Corboy note: This elder Kalu Rinpoche may be the same person who used Sarah Campbell as a secret mistress--a set up she later used to examine the misogyny in Vajrayana tantrism
"Born into a well-connected Tibetan family, living in both India and Bhutan, Kalu absorbed Western culture in dribs and drabs as a boy in his home monastery in Darjeeling, India.
"We shared--200 people--one small TV", he says. "We watched Van Damme and Arnold Schwartzenegger"
"To appreciate Kalu is to see him as two things simultaneously: He is a troubled kid and spiritual adept whose gifts were refined during the traditional 3 year retreat he undertood in his teens--the last year of which was spent in near constant meditation and yoga practice...
"Last September, after a teaching session in Vancouver, someone in the audience asked Kalu about sexual abuse in the monasteries. He replied that he was sensitive to it because he had been molested.
"Two months later Kalu returned to his temporary home base in Paris and shot a video he posted on Facebook. Entitled "Confessions of Kalu Rinpoche" the video has since gone modestly viral on Youtube and turned him into an outcast in the traditional Tibetan Buddhist world.
"In the video, Kalu sits ina hooded parka and tellsthe camera that as a young teen he was "sexually abused by older monks" and when he was 18 his tutor in the monastery threatened him at knife point.
"And its all about money, power, controlling...and then I became a drug addict becuse of all this misunderstanding and I went crazy."
"..in his early teens he was sexually abused by a gang of monks who would visit his room each week. When the Details reporter brought up the concept of inappropriate touching
"Kalu laughs edgily. This was hardcore sex, he says, including anal penetration. "Most of the time they just came alone." he says. "They just banged the door harder, and I had to open. I knew what was going to happen and after that you just become used to it."
"Its very important that people dont forget Buddhist and Buddhist are different entities. Buddhism is perferct.
Buddhists, he suggests are not.
(Kalu) rails about the human costs of the monastery system that consumes thousands of kids, both workaday monks and revered tulkus, providing them with no practical education or fallback plan, all to produce a handful of commercially successful spiritual masters.
"The tulku system is more like robots" he says. 'You built 100 robots, and maybe 20 percent will be successful and the rest will go in the trash."
The troubled young man in this video has been elevated to a position of status and power only to find that, on the one hand, he receives adulation and devotion and, on the other, that he has been exploited sexually and caught in murderous power games.
He makes a plea to be regarded as a human being and suggests that neither the devotees nor the authorities do this.
I would add is that his problems are associated with the tulku system.
Reverence for an infant tulku requires the kind of thinking that, in the West, we associate with a subject’s reverence for a monarch. British MPs must swear to ‘be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’ because her authority has been ordained by birth and sanctified by God. If that seems archaic, identifying a infant tulku as your teacher is positively medieval.
Like Britons’ fealty to their monarchs, Tibetan history and current testimony, such as this video, show that loyalty is often honoured in name but ignored in practice.
Because tulkus inherit wealth, influence and therefore power, they prompt others to attempt to seize or manipulate that power.
The corruption of the system goes deeper.
Important tulkus are often born to wealthy families meaning that an aristocratic caste controls both private wealth and the wealth of the monasteries. Some other tulkus are born as the children of powerful individuals in the religious institutions that were headed by the departed teacher, allowing them to continue to control matters in the next generation.
For many Tibetans the tulku system is unquestionable, just as, until recently,British people automatically revered the monarchy.
However, I find it strange and sad that so many westerners, who have left behind feudal thinking in our own society, have bought in to the Tibetan version of it. I’m not suggesting that Tibetan teachers are not wise people and effective Dharma teachers, just that we should not assume they are because they have grand titles and make the claim to be the reborn heir of a great teacher. The proof of their merit is their character and their practice in this lifetime.
Why do westerners love the glamour of a tulku title? It’s a big subject and my thinking has most affected by Peter Bishop’s book Dreams of Power: Tibetan Buddhism and the Western Imagination [books.google.co.uk]
and Donald Lopez’ Prisoners of Shangri-la: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. [books.google.co.uk]
Both show how Tibetan Buddhism touches powerful, irrational impulses and archetypes in western culture. Tibetan lamas fill a pre-existing space in western psyche, promising to embody the sacred, magical and timeless dimension of existence. Whatever the reason, when I see western followers of Tibetan Buddhism embroiled in conflicts such as the dispute over the rival Karmapa tulkus, [buddhistbookreviews.blogspot.com]
I reflect that these issues are irrelevant to what Buddhism actually has to offer us in the West.
From another blog:Quote
Kalu's exposure on the internet of the dark underbelly of Tibetan monastic life is unprecedented in modern times. People who knew his predecessor say that he was sometimes critical in private, but the rule in lama land is that you never air your grievances to the outside world. Above all, you never cause loss of face by criticising a fellow lama in public.
The shock that reverberated across the Tibetan Buddhist community following these revelations is still making waves. In his Facebook posts, young Kalu seems undecided about what to do next. He is no longer a monk and appears to have moved on from drug and alcohol excess, but there is no teaching schedule for 2012 on his website.
The respected British lama Jampa Thaye sympathises with Kalu: "Ideally, a young incarnate lama should be given time to mature – intellectually and in contemplation," he says. "But all too often they are thrust into teaching tours in order to raise funds for their monasteries or in Kalu's case, the organisation he inherited from his predecessor." Lama Jampa points out that Kalu does not benefit from "the protective cocoon of a monastery" and also has to cope with the unrestrained adoration of his western devotees: "No wonder he's floundering. Sadly, I think his suffering will continue for some time. In my view the best thing he could do is try to live an ordinary life."
According to his recent public utterances, Kalu has this idea in mind. Instead of urging his followers into the study and long retreats essential to serious Tibetan Buddhist practice, he asks them to be kind to each other and to take care of the poor and the needy. He often talks about love and insists that he is just an ordinary person doing his best to lead a good life.
Young Kalu demonstrated his moral fibre shortly after he first arrived in France to check out the meditation centres set up by old Kalu. He discovered that one of them had been taken over by a group of corrupt Bhutanese monks, who were breaking their vows and wallowing in self-indulgence. Most of the French Buddhists who had supported the centre for many years had fled in disgust and the place was no longer functional. Horrified and distressed, Kalu ordered the monks to leave. They refused to acknowledge his authority and were only persuaded to return to Bhutan after Kalu enlisted backup from Tai Situ Rinpoche, the senior lama of his lineage.
9 March 2012 1:09PM
Response to tutut, 9 March 2012 11:24AM
So the new Kalu is the son of the assistant to the older Kalu?
Yes. "Young Kalu's father, Gyaltsen, was old Kalu's personal assistant."
Another commenter wrote:
· " Young Kalu's father, Gyaltsen, was old Kalu's personal assistant."
What are the chances of that?!
9 March 2012 12:29PM
A question for Mary Finnigan:
Did the monks who sexually abused him believe they were sexually abusing a god
· I know very little about Buddhism, but reading some of the comments here I see that some are prepared to judge while knowing even less than I do.
This is a very sad story, but I'm not going to get angry with a whole tradition because of the actions of a few.
To me missing aspects of what spiritual teachers discuss are EMOTIONS and healthy relationships with day to day reality or important people in one's life. Head nods are given to keeping some order in one's life, like cleaning one's personal space but that seems to me as if life is supposed to be lived pretty much ROBOTICALLY and the 'really important part' of life is sitting on the meditation cushion contemplating suffering or zoning out into 'enlightenment'.
When attending the Richen Ter Dzo wangs in X Town in 19**I met (Lama X), who now calls himself Lama Y:
X expressed a really smug enjoyment of the idea of using the Advaita Shuffle TB style.
He joked frequently that what he liked about dzogchen was that when life got to be difficult he could just "press the dzogchen button" and nothing would mean anything painful any more.
When in doubt just zone out, sort of thing.
It aggravated me that he advocated side-stepping facing reality, facing moral or emotional challenges or dealing with emotional ambivalence. It seemed to me grotesquely morally slippery and emotionally dangerous.
It's true Lama X was a young whipper-snapper then, he might be a plain old raging narcissist now or a more mature adult. I don't really know.
But he seemed to have gotten his ideas from his TB teachers, so I wonder how sane he could be when all around him has been moral slipperiness.
Emotions seem to be something denigrated by all these people who are into the enlightenment thing.
Either emotions are overlooked because of dazzling intellectual prowess or something to transcend or to transform into non-emotional awareness states.
Emotions seem to me to be the core of what is perceived to be bad about samsara and that is where I think these spiritual teachers have proven to be the most disturbed, emotionally.
There is also an entitlement issue going on it seems. There are those who opt out of samsara and then there are supposed to be the drones, like the serfs in Tibet, who are supposed to pay for and caretake those who zone out of ordinary, practical life.
I do think that people who go into 'enlightenment' states, non-dual states or bliss states need to have both healthy emotional lives and practical lives and that enlightenment states would otherwise be unhealthy and dangerous to the person who experiences that and to the people around who might be put in the position of caretaking a 'reality-handicapped' individual.
"[Western Buddhism allows us to] fully participate in the frantic pace of the capitalist game, while sustaining the perception that you are not really in it, that you are well aware how worthless the spectacle is — what really matters to you is the peace of the inner self to which you know you can always withdraw."
In other words, for Zizek, Buddhism, in the context of a Western consumer culture, allows the individual to believe he is transforming his mind without actually changing the conditions of suffering that shape the individual’s society.
This represents a dangerous type of inner peace - a peace not based on true insight into the interdependent nature of reality, but instead based on withdrawal into a mental cocoon, some personal oasis isolated from the turmoil of the world outside.
In this cocoon, the whole world can go to hell, and the meditator can - put simply - be ok with that.
In fact, the meditator can even be a willing actor in a system aiding great oppression, and still live at ease, because it’s "all good" anyway.
By practicing "acceptance," we simply become comfortable with the status quo.
Of course, as is true of most things said by contemporary critical theorists, Zizek’s best point is made more convincingly and artfully by someone else, in this case Stevie Wonder:
“Make sure when you say you’re in it but not of it, you’re not helping turn this into the place sometimes called hell."