Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: shamela ()
Date: April 04, 2012 01:07AM

Question the very concept of reincarnation!

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: April 10, 2012 09:09AM

Question the very concept of reincarnation!
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.

The Dalai Lama's oldest brother, in his autobiography, "Tibet Is My Country", was appointed the first of 4 tulkus to be identified in the DL's humble farming family (how did they score so many, without personal connections?). At no point does he ever express an affinity for the Dharma teachings he's required to study. He clearly regards his tulku status as a career choice his parents made for him. When the family follows his little brother to Lhasa, the oldest brother takes some of the wealth he's "inherited" as a tulku of a regional monastery, and against the loud protests of the abbot and senior lamas, he blows off his monastic gig and organizes a huge caravan to Lhasa, where he settles down for a short time. Then he takes more money to finance a "pilgrimage" to India (no visits to sacred sites are mentioned), and from there flies to China and hangs out with Chiang Kai Shek. Eventually he goes to the US, meets a Tibetan 15 year-old and marries her (he's nearly 45 by then), forgets all about being a reincarnate anything, and lives a comfortable suburban life, teaching Tibetan at a university.

The current Kalu Rinpoche tells his followers he's just a regular guy, no one special, implying that he doesn't feel he's a special reincarnation. It turns out he's a grand-nephew of the old Kalu Rinpoche. They tend to keep tulkuships in the family, to pass down wealth. It's not very different from the medieval European system of princes, except in the Tibetan system, the "royalty" are pretending to be celibate.

A good expose of the Tulku system is Gesar Mukpo's film, "Tulku". Chogyam Trungpa managed to have all his sons declared Tulkus, but only one was interested in exploiting that status. Gesar interviews Western tulkus to find out what being a tulku means to them, and in the process, we get a frank view of what monastic life is like from a Dutch tulku.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 25, 2012 07:50AM

In Details magazine, August 2012 issue.

Get and read this article "Leaving Om" by Joseph Hooper, photos by Roger Deckker.

"Before they could even read, they were hailed as reincarnations of buddhist legends in the vein of the Dalai Lama. Now young adults, these reluctant, would-be spiritual leaders are stepping out of their monk's robes, becoming rappers and movie makers, and blowing the whistle on sexual abuse at buddhist monasteries.

"So what will come of destiny's children? Inside the lives of the lost lamas.

"Kalu says that as an early teen, he was sexually abused by older monks, who would visit his room each week. "Most of the time, they 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 became more used to it."

This article gives six pages of dense text.

These young people were recognized as special and were still, literally screwed. can we expect those like Shamar and the DL and other eminent figures who were reared in this wretched system to have sensitivity concerning power imbalances and toxic secrecy?

Even if these venerated figures were not themselves violated, if they heard other children weeping in the dark and the scuffle of adult feet in and out of children's rooms, that would be enough to scar a young psyche and render it selectively blind, just to survive.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: shamela ()
Date: July 25, 2012 12:14PM

And Chogyam Trungpa in his autobiography said he was fed the flesh of a young friend. How could such a person not have serious pathology!

And despite Trungpa's sons being declared tulkus there's sitll his supposed incarnation somewhere in Asia being kept out of power while his "impeccable" son has usurped it.

Not so different from the Borgia Popes.

However I think it IS important to question the very notion of reincarnation. It is absurd on the face of it and yet serves as a basis for authentecity of wisdom of all these Tibetan lamas.

Westeners need to wake out of their dreamy fantasies as far as crazy doctrines go. It may seem "fun" to believe people are reincarnated just as it's fun to believe in fairies and angels, but it is important to exercise rational judgment in what and who you believe in.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 25, 2012 10:24PM

As an antidote to dreamy fantasy, I recommend reading Civilized Shamans by Geoffrey Samuel, Smithsonian Press, 1993.

This book was written by someone appreciative of the cultures of Tibet, but able to describe them objectively, as having histories.

Samuel notes that continuity is of the utmost importance in the various Tibetan cultures, and this was important to maintaining the function of farms and groups. If a landholding family did not have a capable heir, the head of the family could and would adopt a child from another part of the family to inherit the land--and the heavy responsibilities attendant upon it.

Lineage is of central importance, whether by adoption, from another branch of a family or rationalised using a reincarnation backstory.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: shamela ()
Date: July 26, 2012 01:55AM

In the West we have adoption so no need of some reincarnation story. Why do people in the West want to emulate a barbaric feudal society?

Of course I know the answer. Antonin Artaud expressed it in the last century when he begged the Dalai Lama to come save us. We look for a magician from a magic kingdom to solve our very real problems, not just as individuals but as a society. But Tibetan Buddhism or Tibetan history has no answers for our complex Western dilemnas. In fact it's unfair to ask this of them. We are asking to be conned.

Scientology is a sci fi version of the same thing.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 26, 2012 10:35PM

Confessions of Kalu Rinpoche



"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."

When interviewed by Details, Kalu said that


" 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."

According to the Details article, when Kalu decided to replace his abusive tutor, the monk screamed, "I dont give a shit about you, I can kill you right now and we can recognize another boy, another Kalu Rinpoche!" The tutor reportedly pursued Kalu with a knife, breaking down doors, but other monks restrained him.

Finally, Kalu tells us this about the entire tulku system that so thrills Westerners.


"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."

Details magazine August 2012 pp 104--105

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 26, 2012 10:55PM

From the Wiseobserver Blog



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 []

and Donald Lopez’ Prisoners of Shangri-la: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. []

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, []

I reflect that these issues are irrelevant to what Buddhism actually has to offer us in the West.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 26, 2012 11:26PM


From another blog:



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.

Some comments from the Guardian that illustrate the range of responses


Corboy--This requires further investigation


· SolomonDream
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?!


· peterNW1
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.

This below is interesting. Someone who had been in TB told on a forum how her Western lama admitted to her that he liked Dzogchen. If painful emotions came up for him, he could use Dzogchen to bypass those emotions whenever he chose to do so.


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.

A sociological critique of this exactly evasion process.



"[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."

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: shamela ()
Date: July 27, 2012 12:22AM

Great posts.

People don't realize how brave young Kalu is. He has clearly indicated that he may be killed for revealing these things.

On one level he is in the same boat with all other sexually abused young people, whether in religion or not. I hope he is getting excellent non-TB therapy from someone who specializes in this, someone experienced with trauma and dissociation and healing.

On another level he is only the tip of the iceberg re TB monastic practices.

Question the very concept of Enlightenment!

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