Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: walter1963 ()
Date: July 27, 2012 12:44AM

A couple of points

IMO people flow to these exotic Lamas and Tulkus not only out of curiosity but self validation or ego pumping. What a boost to ones self-esteem when you meet a some spiritual grand poohbah who acknowledges you and accepts you into his group.

It's no different than the obsession with celebrities and trying to get to know them. You want to watch people lose all perspective just say there is a Hollywood celebrity among them.

As for the non-dual state. I can't think what it's good for except zoning out. It's clear achieving this state doesn't make you a better person or wiser in any recognizable manner. And those who become adept at it certainly should not be supported. The same goes for all those other spiritual teachers. Get a job, learn to earn your keep and get a real perspective of life. Understand what your students go through every day.

Put another way, if you can't earn your keep as a householder you have no basis in lecturing anyone on anything.

But it's worse than that as a this excerpt for Corboy's post points out.

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.

What a great method of remaining indifferent to the hell around you, and turns a person into a selfish SOB who isn't worth squat. What a great payoff to perhaps decades of practice and sacrifice - learn to zone and not give a flying donut hole about people and the world around you.

This isn't spirituality, it's bad shamanism, twisted self-hypnosis and narcissism pretending to be something it isn't. Yet Dzogchen is highly sought after like Kundalini, another practice not even remotely understood by greedy and foolish Westerners.

IMO save the money you'd have spent on these Tibetan clowns and go buy a nice suit or dress, read some good books, help out in some charities and you'll be far better off.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: shamela ()
Date: July 27, 2012 12:55AM

Amen (as they say in another lineage)!

The dangerous thing with crazy wisdom adherents who believe in Trungpa's Antimoralism is that they do work in everyday householder jobs and bring their "detached" "crazy" values with them. I have seen this operating in psychotherapy and in real estate.

Shambhala and probably much TB sees disssociated (schizoid or amoral) lack of attachment as a goal rather than the more usual Mahayana view that lack of attachment means to act without regard for consequences i.e. do good works without need to be assured of success.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 27, 2012 03:56AM

(Note to readers: The Details article is richly informative and I have quoted a small amount here. Show them some love and buy a copy if you can--August 2012 issue)

Notice too Kalu telling us what the 200 monks in that Darjeeling monastery selected to view on the communal TV set.

"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""

This is not material that is going to support cultivation of wisdom and compassion.

This material is meant to stir up and validate violent behavior.

Strange material for monks to select. Whoever controls the TV set tends to control the power. People who have been in jail or prison will tell you that the toughest people pick what's on the telly.

So this is a clue that the Darjeeling monastery was not a model Buddhist institution.

Lets ponder the monks' taste in movies.

In these muscle and lead movies, the ones who win fights (the strongest and meanest) are admired and weakness is despised.

Interesting too that Kalu's tutor had no difficulty gaining access to a big bladed knife with which he threatened the younger man. Wonder if he got the knife from the monastery kitchen, or if he customarily carried that blade on himself. Its one thing to carry a pocket knife for utility purposes. But Kalu describes this as a long bladed knife.

Van Damme

The Expendables 2, Bloodsport, JCVD, Kickboxer, Assassination Games

Arnold Schwartzenegger
The Expendables (2010) Trench Mausar
Darfur Now (2007) Actor
How Arnold Won the West (2004) Himself
WMD: The Murderous Reign of Saddam Hussein (2004) Actor
Around the World in 80 Days (2004) Prince Hapi
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) The Terminator
Collateral Damage (2002) Gordy Brewer
The 6th Day (2000) Adam Gibson
End of Days (1999) Jericho Cane
Batman & Robin (1997) Mr Freeze/Dr Victor Fries
Jingle All the Way (1996) Howard Langston
Eraser (1996) Eraser
Junior (1994) Dr Alexander Hesse
True Lies (1994) Harry Tasker
Beretta's Island (1994) Actor (cameo appearance )
The Last Action Hero (1993) Sergeant Jack Slater/ Himself
Dave (1993) Himself
Feed (1992) Himself
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) The Terminator
Kindergarten Cop (1990) Kimble
Total Recall (1990) Quaid
Twins (1988) Julius Benedict
Red Heat (1988) Captain Ivan Danko

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 27, 2012 08:31PM

Over many centuries, Buddhist missionaries, encountering the indigenous cultures of Tibet, found ways to accommodate to existing shamanic practices, and included them in even the clerical forms of Buddhist practice.

So, given how creative and accomodating the Tibetan Buddhist lamas were, century after century, in finding ways to stretch and adjust buddhadharma to accommodate shamanism and then create the tulku system, described above by Kalu, these modern Vajrayana outreachers are quite able to find ways to accommodate the Western cultural values of rule of law, dignity of the ordinary human person, and respective for democratic process --especially when democracy have hospitable immigration policies for said lamas and give tax exempt status--but that in return demands good faith and financial transparency.

If the Tibetan missionaries could find ways to convert the valleys and wild peoples of frontiers by including their local spirits as Dharma Protectors and naming them in rituals, then you guys had better find ways to respect Western calls for financial transparency.

And its up to Westerners to stay grown up in relation to Vajrayana, too. The lamas should avoid infantalizing us, and refuse to allow us to infantalize ourselves in relation to them. Those who already have rank and power have the heaviest responsbility for its use.

Mahayana tells us to beware of intoxicants; lamas are obligated never to permit themselves to be used as intoxicants. Ditto for the rituals.

And Mahayana warns us to beware of deceit. Its up to Tibetans to be honest about their history. Many stay Roman Catholic despite the horror of having found out about abuse scandals--they are working to fight the powerholders to bring the Church back in line with its own stated ideals.

If a tradition is worthwhile, it is reformable. If not, it will pop like a bubble.

The Tibetan missionaries were able to accomodate indigenous shamanism and tantra.

Well, today, its up to the Tibetans to accommodate indigenous democracy and distaste for abuse of little kids.

If you want our money, you'd better be prepared to accommodate to our democracy.

We are here for a finer destiny than to be turned into peasants in business suits with laptops in our hands.

If the Tibetans want Western money and Westerners bodies and media attention, they need to adapt their Buddhism to Western democracy.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 27, 2012 09:01PM

Excerpt on Kalu's video from Elephant journal. by Shamyan Dodge, who was recognized as enlightened in a Hindu monastic tradition, renounced it, has published a memoir, and is now a student at Harvard Divinity School.

Corboy note: I want to add that discussions of Vajrayana that some are claiming to be inappropriate are already available in Geoffrey Samuel's book, Civilized Shamans, published by Smithsonian Press in 1993, and a detailed description of practicing Mahakala Tantra (Newar Buddhist in Nepal) was published by William Stablein in his book, The Great Black One.

Both these sources are yet more candid about Vajrayana practice -- and the authors heads did not explode, and the world is still here with us.

So the folks piously declaring that it is in appropriate to discuss vajrayana in the manner quoted here--its already been discussed, folks.

No one is disclosing initiation mantras or oral instructions on practice keyed to the need of the individual student. That material is not in published texts, and does stay private and would not find its way to open discusssions. So the demands for secrecy are not convincing--and to Corboy appear to be an attempt to distract from what Kulu has revealed.

as Shayam wrote in one comment


Shyam Dodge says:
December 8, 2011 at 14:26
Dear Joshua,

All good points. This is the first serious and well-reasoned criticism of the article. I highly appreciate it. You are correct in asserting that by simply becoming a monastic does not automatically make one vulnerable to becoming a pedophile. I was more on the side of pointing out the hypocrisy of a body-negative dogma, which is supposed to support and inspire compassion and ethical codes, that attempts to hide sexual abuse of children within its own monastic structure. And how the ramifications of both such a body-negative and a hypocritical double standard only serve to further fragment and traumatize the victims of abuse.

So, I thank you for bringing greater clarity and nuance to the conversation regarding these highly charged issues.

All my best,


This video has a power to it. It is, of course, disenchanting to those of us enamored and prone to romanticizing the Tibetan Buddhist tradition—and by that logic any traditional spirituality other than Western iterations. (Cue revelations of how condescending it is to perpetuate contemporary renditions of the “noble savage” with regards to Eastern guru-types.)

But it has an even deeper lesson to teach us: the problems inherent to a spiritual philosophy that dehumanizes us.

When we believe in supernatural realities to the extent that some young kid is somehow considered to be the reincarnation of a “Supremely Wise Being” we have essentially erased the person, the human being, behind all of our idealizations.

Critiquing the corruptive power of such spiritual idealization is an oft cited and very relevant observation to make—which definitely applies to the monks who abused Kalu—but Kalu’s story is more than that.

It is the story of a young man who is and was being crushed beneath the cultural and religio-political burdens of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He is definitely a remarkable young man. Very few human beings are subjected to such a powerful machine of personal erasure as the Tulku tradition and yet he has come out of it with his humanity, while bruised, intact.

Again, I can relate to this. As a young boy my yogic community held me in high regard and, by the time I was twenty-five, had officially declared me to be a fully enlightened being. This conferment of spiritual authority produced a revelation in me, but not the one expected.

What I saw so clearly were four things, two of which Kalu touches upon in his video:

1. We are all human beings, no one person is superhuman or has some privileged connection to a hidden domain of consciousness kept just out of the reach of other normal human beings—no matter their title or religious esteem (or cultural pedigree for that matter).

2. There are very dark politics seething beneath all forms of religious hierarchy. Kalu describes a key motivator behind this cutthroat political underbelly and the attempts on his life when he states, “and then my own manager tried to kill me… I mean my teacher. And it’s all about money, power, controlling. Because, if you can control the president you can get what you want” (min 5:03—5:14). Disheartening words for a spiritual tradition that promotes selflessness and compassion.

3. The third awakening is one that Kalu barely and only briefly gestures to in his video. This elision has to do with a number of things but most importantly: he is still operating as Kalu Rinpoche, which only perpetuates the hypocrisy he has been the victim of. If this revelation has dawned upon him he has yet to put it into practice. I will describe this third awakening in the paragraph below.

But here I want to say that I have profound sympathy for Kalu. He has so much personal trauma to work through, so many cultural and religio-political burdens placed on his shoulders, and—not to sound condescending—a very significant educational gap to overcome due to his monastic training (I speak from experience).

He needs a lot of help and my heart goes out to him.

Nonetheless, he has yet to leave the Tulku machine.

I know I will get a lot of flak for saying this, but, I truly hope he does. Of course, I understand that he is living under intense social pressure, as a Tibetan. Still, that doesn’t change his very human need for help, which requires the time and appropriate space to heal. I don’t see this type of healing as forthcoming in his maintaining the role of spiritual educator, and divine incarnation, in an orthodox tradition.

3. The third observation has to do with the pernicious effects of mind-body dualism. Whether it be Tibetan Buddhism, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, or Christian mysticism, there is a deep and abiding disgust for the human body.

This negative view of our human biology stems from a belief in the existence and superiority of the spirit. Most traditional forms of spirituality (whether Eastern or Western) are predicated upon a metaphysical identification with an invisible spirit that survives the death of the body and contains our essence. In Tibetan Buddhism this spiritual “imprint” may be devoid of “true self” but it nonetheless survives the death of the body and contains the continuity of self necessary for the demands of reincarnation. The second commonality within religious traditions is that the body is viewed as an obstacle to the evolution of the spirit.

In Patanjali’s system, this problem is resolved through the abnegation of the body’s essential needs and wants, including food, sex, intimacy, and love. Both the Buddhist and yogic traditions teach us to not grieve the dead, for all things are impermanent. This speaks to not only a profound fear of death but it is also a fear of life—for it is life denying. In order to guard against death, life itself is rejected in the form of militating against the physical body via spiritual detachment.

I spent years engaging in this form of metaphysical asceticism. I rejected my body, denied it sex, fasted continuously and abstained from all “impure” foods. I was starving for intimacy, for love, for the permission to grieve those cherished ones who had died (including my father).

I was desperate to be human. And yet, my whole spiritual life was predicated on denying my essential humanity. This note of desperation I do hear in Kalu’s video. He implores us to take care of our families, to be human. And I applaud him for that. But I, personally, think this effort to be human demands a reinvestment in the body itself.

(See Julian Walker’s excellent article that touches upon these same themes, and in greater depth)

It is, in many ways, an ethical decision. In order to treat others well I must value them, not an imaginary supernatural idea of “who they truly are as invisible spiritual beings,” but as living breathing persons that I can touch and know and speak to right now with my own body and my own eyes made of flesh.

This also means that I can hurt those people if I don’t invest in the value of the human body.

Spiritual idealizations, such as mind-body dualism, have the tendency to not only obscure but also erase the value of the physical—for it is the physical body that invalidates and casts doubts/threatens the world of spiritual idealizations.

These are the dangers engendered by losing contact with the real, the tangible, the physical, for it is the erasure of persons replacing them with concepts—which is anti-body and therefore has profound implications for our very human lives.

4. The fourth observation I made soon after being officially declared a superhuman divinity is intimately connected to this third awakening. It has to do with the implications of reinvesting in the body. It is a revisioning of spirituality and ethics.

When we understand the importance of this living breathing human body, the questions are no longer about metaphysics, but ethics.

The question is no longer “what is the meaning of life?” but is much more vitally “what should I do with this life?” This kind of spirituality, which is rooted in the reality of the body, elicits an interpersonal experience we can all share in. And it therefore generates an ethic of intimacy. This re-embodiment of our common humanity, based upon the value of the body itself, is in fact an ethical practice...

(for the rest of the article, read here


As Bob Marley sang, "If you look to to yours on Earth, you will see what Life is worth"

The comments reveal the anxieties aroused.


Padma Kadag says:
December 5, 2011 at 14:47
Mr. Dodge…The biggest difference between yourself and Kalu Rinpoche, and I do not know either one of you, is that you are a businessman and Kalu R. is a spiritual person. You have decided, it seems to me anyway, to profit from your experiences and Rinpoche is learning and refining a new approach and remaing true to his Bodhisattva vows….so it seems.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 5, 2011 at 22:12
Dear Padma Kadag,

I don't understand how you have come to conclude that I am a businessman! In what way am I profiting from my experiences? By writing for free on EJ?

Rather than making a character attack maybe you could address the issues at stake…

All the best,

Padma Kadag says:
December 6, 2011 at 08:52
Website…Book deal…movie? "Harvard student"!? Thats how. You are selling yourself and that is fine. That is the difference between you and Kalu Rinpoche…thats all. So why would you deny that you are a businessman? Is it a character attack to merely point out the obvious? Are you ashamed of doing business?

Padma Kadag says:
December 6, 2011 at 08:55
BTW…the fact that you are a businessman is the reason for your commentary and your "spiritual" views. Be careful that selling yourself does not precede your spiritual path

Shyam Dodge says:
December 7, 2011 at 12:29
Dear Padma,

Your comments are so unfounded. It is interesting how getting an education is being demonized here. Also I have no movie! And my book served a purpose that had nothing to do with monetary gain. Read the book before you judge it.

Either way, this is a diversion away from the issues raised by the article. Launching personal attacks like this do nothing to raise the level of discourse.

You are entitled to your own perspective on me, but, again, I implore you to address the issues raised by the article.

All the best,

Padma Kadag says:
December 7, 2011 at 12:45
Shyam shyam Shyam…One cannot address issues until one has considered your perspective after having read your article. As I said, I do not know you. You, based on your website where you announce your Harvard education and your parents ashram and your book and your being in the same position as Kalu Rinpoche. Your website makes proclamations in order for you to sell yourself as knowing something based on your education at Harvard and your parents ashram…So…this makes you in the business of selling your story to make money. This is being a businessman. Surely a Harvard student can understand that. If you are referring to Vajrayana in your general terminology, "Tibetan Buddhism", your perspective is inaccurrate.

Rob says:
December 5, 2011 at 19:03
I'm not sure where you're getting mind-body dualism out of Vajrayana, because there is none. You make broad generalizations here based on misinformation. For those of us who practice Vajrayana it is hard to take this article seriously. Devi Ward put it rather well.

I think your point that Westerners have a tendency to view Tibetan Buddhism through rose tinted goggles is accurate, but… Tibetan Buddhism is a human enterprise and thus it is not immune to the very delusional behavior that it provides antidotes for. Tibetan Buddhism has a track record of providing many people with a practical and complete path to awakening to higher purpose and greater utility WITHOUT advocating that they abandon important aspects of human existence, such as their physical bodies, the environment, passionate emotional responses and sexuality. The worth of these traditions should not be disregarded based on the misdeeds of the minority or the presence of politics in certain religious hierarchies.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 5, 2011 at 22:27

I value so many teachings from the Vajrayana, including maha mudra and other profound practices. I am not arguing against those parts that are valuable in these contemplative traditions, merely critiquing the shadow portions of the tradition. Without honest assessments of what's going on we will only continue to enable and perpetuate the kinds of abuse Kalu reveals in this video.

The Dalai Lama says that the two wings necessary for spiritual life are discernment and compassion. Without these two things the bird cannot fly.

In this respect I am advocating for both discernment and compassion when evaluating these ancient wisdom traditions. Ignoring the problems of sexual abuse in monastic orders does not help, even if it be the minority.

as far as the critique regarding mind-body dualism see the reply I posted to Devi's comment.

I appreciate your thoughts.

All the best,

Alex says:
December 5, 2011 at 20:51
I believe silence on part of author is not making him look very objective in his writing so He should comment and address what few people have pointed out above.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 5, 2011 at 22:27
Hope that I have allayed your fears Alex

Shyam Dodge says:
December 5, 2011 at 21:36
I have been in final exams all day. So I have been unavailable to comment. I will respond to each and every person's comment tonight and tomorrow morning. Don't worry, I will address all the points you brought up

The plea for secrecy


Padma Kadag says:
December 6, 2011 at 09:46
Tanya…it is called supporting your assertions. It is also called debate. Having a spiritual path is a wonderful opportunity and gift. Having the leisure to practice a spiritual path is rare. Yes I agree that a spiritual path is personal. If you assert a certain spiritual path publically or have commentary about how a spiritual path or school conducts itself be prepared to support your assertions. Both ways the one who is making commentary and the one questioning are given the opportunity to sharpen their views. This is as old as all of the spiritual paths and traditional means. My assertion to Shyam's article is that as a businessman he tries to relate to Kalu Rinpoche and he can't. He discusses Vajrayana when most of Vajrayana is not meant to be discussed hence..the Secret Mantrayana. I do thank him for bringing this video to my attention.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 7, 2011 at 12:38
Dear Tanya,

The Dalai Lama says that the two wings necessary for spiritual life are discernment and compassion. Without these two things the bird cannot fly.

In this respect I am advocating for both discernment and compassion when evaluating these ancient wisdom traditions. This requires discourse and dialog. I am very appreciative of everyones comments to this end. In order for there to be discernment there must be dialog, and much of what is going on in these comments is serving that purpose.

Dialog is necessary to the process of reshaping and formulating appropriate ethics that are both compassionate and reasonable.

In that regard, I thank you for diving in and engaging in this shared discourse. And of course I thank you for the kind remarks and observations.

All the best,

Note here a reminder that "many wonderful books on Vajrayana" have already been published.


Padma Kadag says:
December 6, 2011 at 09:56
Friendly reminder to all of the Vajrayana practitioners…do not explain the dharma or more specifically the Secret Mantryana to those who have not taken the vows. Blogs and websites are no place to discuss the ins and outs of the Vajrayana…especially to those who have not taken or upheld the vows. Kalu Rinpoche's video does not discuss Vajrayana. Shyam makes an attempt to give an opinion about the Secret Mantrayana to which he seems to not be committed…So, if he knows and is holding vows then why would he show so much misunderstanding or even discuss it publically?My assertion is he ho;ds no Vajrayana vows. So why would you explain anything to him?

elephantjournal says:
December 7, 2011 at 00:53
Right. They are secret, and thankfully self-secret. We can keep this discussion general without getting into a discussion beyond the depth of the many wonderful books available to all of us about Vajrayana. ~ Waylon.

Adele says:
December 6, 2011 at 11:19 for you people who are PUBLISHING these accusations, aren't there publishing guidelines/ethics that such serious allegations should only be published if the individual in question has sufficient objective evidence to back up his claims? I can only hope for the individuals who are helping Kalu propagate these accusations that they have seen sufficient objective evidence to back them up if needs be in a court of law. Otherwise, it makes a mockery of ethical journalism and is essentially mud-slinging of the highest order. Remember people ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. Its a good job he/or the publisher have not named anyone because you might find yourself in court. Until evidence is shown, then this is just confused and harmful GOSSIP….

elephantjournal says:
December 7, 2011 at 00:54
Amen on innocent until proven guilty. That said, go easy on the ALL CAPS..!

Ogyen Kunsang says:
December 8, 2011 at 16:55
He was 13 years old at the time. Kids then don't have conciousness enough to tell what is right and what is wrong. And everyone in the sanghas and monasteries will use the word Dharma to convince others to make certain acts.
I know I borned in a corrupted "Buddhist" community. That now is a desert mountain for some reason.
Hard core crimes committed in name of the Dharma.
I just hope you don't face corrupted people like this.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 8, 2011 at 17:00
Dear Ogyen Kunsang,

Thank you for sharing your important and powerful story here with us. Would you be willing to be interviewed?

Much gratitude,

randolphr says:
December 6, 2011 at 12:41
ANY SUGGESTION that an abused individual remain silent, is cold hearted.
Nothing takes precedence over the safety & sanctity of another.
Not belief, not philosophy, not practice, not stature.


Then some dared suggest that young Kalu suffered molestation because his reincarnated forbear had been a sexual predator(!)


JOnathan says:
December 7, 2011 at 12:50
Isn’t it funny that the reincarnation of Kalu Rinpoche says that he has been sexually abused ? Knowing that his former incarnation had been accused himself of sexual abused by one of his disciples ? Could it be a retribution ?

Adele says:
December 8, 2011 at 16:21
This is one of the best replies to this article I've seen so far…..I had exactly the same thought myself about this a couple of days ago.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 8, 2011 at 16:42
Rationalizing someone's abuse and trauma through metaphysics only serves to dehumanize and deny the very real suffering and pain of another sentient being.

Using reincarnation as a way to explain and thereby devalue the suffering of another human being is no better than saying that a rape victim or a child who has been molested deserved their fate because "they asked for it."

This is the very reason why I am arguing against the fragmenting and dehumanizing philosophies of reincarnation and metaphysical ideas of karma.

Both, the abuse that Kalu experienced, and the alleged sexual abuse inflicted by Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, speak more to the flaws and imperfections of the Tulku tradition.

Even more revealing, is how such sexual abuse is now being rationalized through supernatural beliefs in karma and reincarnation. This only further establishes the dangers of such beliefs and their capacity to act as personal erasure and dehumanization.

Blaming the victim is inhuman and is the opposite of compassion. Let's get back to the real living breathing life we are living now and experience and practice real empathy for one another rather than engaging in useless metaphysical speculation.

All my best,

Padma Kadag says:
December 9, 2011 at 07:16
"Let's get back to the real living breathing life we are living now and experience and practice real empathy for one another rather than engaging in useless metaphysical speculation. "
Shyam I whole heartedly agree with this quote. But it seems that you have suffered by stacking your own house of metaphysical intellectual cards just as the majority of western spiritualists have done and continue to share with all of us on EJ. Rather than denounce the Law of Karma publically why don't you contemplate it first. The issue with Karma is that the majority of westerners dont understand it…I can be listed in that group….so they use it to explain the unexplainable and announce it's undeniability when it suits their ends. Do you really reject the concept of Karma? What is your understanding?

randolphr says:
December 8, 2011 at 20:59
Nothing funny whatsoever.

Jasmine Gill says:
December 8, 2011 at 09:25
"By investing in my own body I come into greater intimacy with the bodies of others, which makes me care for the wellbeing of others as well as myself. Therefore, the ethics of this embodied life are about intimacy and the world of relationship. By this simple act, this reinvestment in my humanity, the ethical and environmental ramifications are enormous. I have in one simple philosophical shift become an environmentalist and an embodied humanist." This is so beautifully written and a realization that I came to recently. Thank you.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 8, 2011 at 12:59
Dear Jasmine,

I am so happy it resonated. It is such a simple revelation that has profound implications. In fact, in many ways, it is revolutionary. I am grateful to you for being here in the world–feeling and thinking these things. Not only are you enriching your own life, but the lives of others, my own included.

All my best,

renodante says:
December 8, 2011 at 14:28
Tibetan Buddhism is an ancient family business, much like the mafia. the tulku system is a sick joke that is all about maintaining power.

renodante says:
December 8, 2011 at 14:29
"The two 'confessions' here, are nothing whatsoever to do with dharma" i love how you gloss over the fact this person was sexually abused but instead focus on your fantasy based alternate realities.

Adele says:
December 8, 2011 at 16:32
Hang on, isn't it creepily karmic that the current Kalu rinpoche is complaining about sexual abuse when his former incarnation was accused of sexual abuse/exploitation by a former student? I mean, can anyone else not see the potential karmic link here?! Or have some Buddhists on this thread become totally blind to karma when talking about their own guru/lama? June Campbell, a former Kagyu nun who is an academic feminist, acted as Kalu Rinpoche's translator for several years. In her book Traveller in Space: Gender, Identity and Tibetan Buddhism, she writes that he subjected her to an abusive sexual relationship which he told her was tantric spiritual practice. She raises the same theme in a number of interviews, including one with Tricycle magazine in 1996.

Shyam Dodge says:
December 8, 2011 at 16:55
Dear Adele,

Rationalizing someone's abuse and trauma through metaphysics only serves to dehumanize and deny the very real suffering and pain of another sentient being.

Using reincarnation as a way to explain and thereby devalue the suffering of another human being is no better than saying that a rape victim or a child who has been molested deserved their fate because "they asked for it."

This is the very reason why I am arguing against the fragmenting and dehumanizing philosophies of reincarnation and metaphysical ideas of karma.

Both, the abuse that Kalu experienced, and the alleged sexual abuse inflicted by Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, speak more to the flaws and imperfections of the Tulku tradition.

Even more revealing, is how such sexual abuse is now being rationalized through supernatural beliefs in karma and reincarnation. This only further establishes the dangers of such beliefs and their capacity to act as personal erasure and dehumanization.

Blaming the victim is inhuman and is the opposite of compassion. Let's get back to the real living breathing life we are living now and experience and practice real empathy for one another rather than engaging in useless metaphysical speculation.

All my best,

dominique says:
December 17, 2011 at 10:13
Dear Shyam,
Thank you for your humanity.I am a Buddhist practitioner and a survivor of sexual abuse.I am 60 years old and is only now articulate enough to understand how it crippled all aspects of my being.
I fell into addictions, denial , dissociation and used spirituality as a copout.
I was not the only one.I have noted many victims of sexual abuse tend to go to Dharma centers(or Catholic convents) in an attempt to white wash the shame and guilt and fell pray to other predators.
I have seen this pattern at Triratna with young men abused by Sangharakshita,Rigpa with people sexually, physically and emotionally abused by Sogyal Rinpoche.
I have been witness of bullying in 3 year retreats structures by other western students;(the same who now call themselves lamas and perpetuate something which has nothing to do with becoming beautiful beings).
I cannot help thinking it is our own bigotry and desire for a romantized Tibetan buddhism which has put kalu Rinpoche in the sad place where is is now .
How can one put in doubt what he says?

Konchok Tashi says:
December 8, 2011 at 16:43
Critics sitting in they computers judging respectful youngsters. All who consider them self humans or bodhisattvas with no respect for others even them self.
There is a lot of corrupted people even in Tibetan Buddhism. And even Tibetan people do not listen to Dailai Lama. How can western people understand ??

Things to think about in the Buddhist World | American Buddhist Perspective says:
December 11, 2011 at 16:46
[...] it in Catholic history, and here we see it in a Tibetan tradition.”I was also directed to an article addressing the same issue at Elephant Journal, by Shyam Dodge, a former Hindu monk, author, and satirist and current student of religion at [...]

doug says:
December 12, 2011 at 12:02
Shyam's article is a breath of fresh air on this website! I went to Amazon and bought both his books.

The defensive tone of many of the above posted comments is pathetic. I find many Yoga and Buddhist practitioners as difficult to reason with as are Born-again Christians and Republicans. I've been involved with enough religious and self-help organizations to know that the SHADOWS OF ABUSE AND FRAUD LURK IN THEM ALL… BEWARE of all religious organizations — including those of ancient eastern origin. And especially those organizations that require that you keep secrets and make pledges of loyalty.

God bless…

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 27, 2012 09:06PM

Namkhai Norbu



Karina says:
March 1, 2012 at 15:04
What's being overlooked here is that Kalu Rinpoche has already made a tremendous contribution to his segment of humanity simply by uncovering corruption and institutionalized abuse, and in speaking the truth. In so doing, he is opening the door to the possibility of long-overdue reforms. He already has introduced reforms and ethics into some of "his" centers in Europe, replacing corrupt and abusive lamas with those he is confident will adhere to high ethical standards. Furthermore, he has pledged to build boarding schools for boys from poor families who would otherwise be given away to monasteries, where they would be at high risk of experiencing a childhood of sexual abuse. This is true humanitarian work. Let us hope that this is the beginning of a trend.

Kalu Rinpoche isn't the only one to speak about sexual abuse in the monasteries.
has spoken with his students about his own sexual abuse as a child tulku, and refused to send his own son to be educated in a monastery for that reason. Slowly, the light of truth is being shone on the dark recesses of the monastic system. Transparency is gradually coming to Tibetan Buddhism.

The effects of severe childhood trauma can cripple people emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually for life, unless they get qualified professional help. Many ex-monks end up living marginal lives in menial jobs. The lucky ones get visas to the West, where menial jobs can at least afford a better standard of living than in India and Nepal. Even so, it's common for them to have difficulty forming loving relationships, maintaining job stability, and advancing in life. The sooner this custom of admitting children into the monastic system is ended, the sooner suffering to a certain class of sentient beings will be ended. Kalu Rinpoche is the harbinger of this change. He deserves and needs our support.

For more info on Kalu Rinpoche's reforms: []… []… []…
His posts show he's not wallowing in self-pity, but is taking constructive action to end abuse. More power to him


As far as Karma: it is a metaphysical concept that has been used to maintain aristocratic-theocracies and religio-power structures for centuries, and, also, to maintain social control via imaginary supernatural forces. We have gravitated towards this concept in the west because it has the aura of personal responsibility, but this is only when taken out of the cultural context.

All my best,

Shyam Dodge says:
December 10, 2011 at 01:15
P.S. And of course the misuse and misinterpretations of karma in western iterations also serve unhealthy psychological functions. Which we can talk about if you are so inclined

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 27, 2012 09:31PM

A quick cultural note on knives in Tibet.

Kalu described his enraged soon to be former tutor coming at him with a long knife.

It would have been normal to carry a short bladed utility knife even as a monk. These were workaday tools--and used to eat with. Tibetans eat meat and unless it is pre cut, one has to have a knife. Even Chinese eating sets have a set of chopsticks and a knife in a carrying case. Ditto for Mongolian eating sets, which resemble Tibetan ones.

In the West, people habitually carried knives with them and brought these out at mealtimes until about 350 years ago, when hosts were expected to provide full table settings.

In Tibet, it was and may still be customery for both men and women to carry belt knives, which served a purpose similar to pocket knives and could be brought out for meals. Nomads frequently carried their own eating sets.

I like to look at pictures of knives used in Tibet and Central Asia, and have found an informative website.

The Tibetan utility knife was in common use, had or has a short blade--often not much more than 4 inches long. It was often used to eat with. That blade length is comparable to that of a Swiss Army Knife or whatever other pocket knife one prefers.

Some call them Bo an knives


Note that in the photo of the pile of Tibetan knives one of the forum members collected, most of them have the short blades and just a couple have long blades.

In the more remote areas, such as Kham/Amdo, people, especially men, carried longer knives for self defense. Or if thuggish, for aggression. Plain metal sheaths if you were in modest circumstances, richly embossed metal or silver sheaths and decorations if you had some wealth.

So, one wonders why Kalu's ex tutor came at the younger man with a long bladed knife, rather than a short bladed bo an. Did he borrow a knife from the kitchen, or choose to carry a long bladed knife of his own accord. And...why?

That and the monks who controlled the TV set seeming to prefer Van Damme and Schwartzeneggar movies, all hint that the emotional climate in that monastery, at least dictated by the head honchos, was being run by the biggest and strongest.

Not the place to cultivate the Brahma viharas.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 28, 2012 07:11AM

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.

A bit more about Tibetan knives here


Tibet knifes that design for the use of men are usually rugged. On the other hand, those designs for the use of women are elegant.

Appearance of Tibetan knife
Generally, Tibetan knives can be divided into three types according to their lengths – long, short and small knives. The long Tibetan knife can be more than one meter=39.37--sword length), the short one is about 40cm = 15.74inches--short sword length) while the small one is 10cm (3.74 inch--corresponds to the utility knife bao 'an pictured above.

(Corboy note: the 10 cm ones are what are used for eating and would be appropriate for a monk to possess. Again, would be damn interesting to know what type of blade Kalu's soon to be former tutor threatend him with.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 30, 2012 08:50PM


Hidden Dangers of Meditation and the Pitfalls of the Guru/Disciple relationship

Monday, July 4, 2011
Confessions of Kalu Rinpoche

"When I was 9 my father passed away and I had a very difficult life you know. People thinks that Kalu Rinpoche always lived in a very comfortable life. That's what all people been thinking of because the previous Kalu Rinpoche was popular.

For me, my father past away, I was transported to different Monastery and when I was like 12 and 13, I've been sexually abused by other monks. So for me I don't believe in monks so much you know, so you know and when I was 15 I did 3 years retreat from the guidance of my Root Guru you know and then like and I did 3 years retreat and no body cares about me so much you know.

Nobody knows where I am, how I am you know and after 3 years retreat, all the people are interested because you know they kind of think that I have this great qualification and something which I can remember about my past life and it's nothing like that.

And then some people just said I kick out from I, when I came out from my Monastery. no I mean when I came out from the 3 year retreat I mean. When I came out from 3 years retreat and many people were making roomer's (rumors? Corboy)and saying that I kicked out my mother, my family and you know, I kicked out my own teacher.

Actually, it's nothing like that.

My own Tutor, he tried to kill me, that's the truth. and I was at that time, I was really traditional. Very good traditional Buddhist practitioner.

They tried to kill me because you know, I am not doing what they want me to do. You know it's that time I was really really good you know.

A traditional person you know and then he tried to kill me with the knife and everything, and it was a shocking moment for me. And after that he left because when he realized about his own mistake how can he still live with me. So he left.

I never kicked out anybody. I had a family misunderstanding for 2 years and a half, and recently like 6 months ago, I had a family reconnection and everything is good and after that you know well when I was 18 I had all these big problems you know, then one manager tried to kill me and everything.

It's all about money, power, controlling because if you can control the president, you can get what you want.

That's the way it is and you know and then I became a drug addict because of all this misunderstanding and you know I went crazy. I became an alcoholic, I became a drug addict.

I did lots of crazy things but not the bad things and then after that I asked my root Guru you know what is going on with my life I don't know because I see all these Buddhist people who are not Buddhist. They look like a Buddhist and they sound like a Buddhist and they act like a Buddhist and I am so confused.

He said, "Rinpoche you have the capacity to change the structure in your own lineage in your Buddhist organization. So that's why I'm trying to do, trying to build a school and to build my own structure for the poor people because for me the Buddhism and all this religious organization, spiritual organization it's all about how to protect the society, how to protect the environment, how to protect our self. How to be afar from the weakness, how to understand the true meaning of point. And so you know I will do whatever is best for society so that's why I plan to build a school and my life it's not easy.

There's lots of people who doesn't like me and there's lots of people who likes me.

Whether you like it or not of who I am it doesn't change in the person who I am. So I will do everything I can I'm my responsibility's but the structure needs to be changed and the Buddhas teachings has to get involved in our personal life. It doesn't mean that you have to get away from your family. Stop thinking about sentient being if you can't help your own family. So first to be responsible is really important. You know I don't want Buddhism to get involved in business politics.No, I want Buddhism to bring a beautiful image to society and to understand society.That my point of view and wish me the best for my project, for my school which I can do the best for the society. And I'm just a normal human being even you live with me like 1,000 years I will still tell you, I

'm just a human being. I always will be and no one is perfect, everyone is perfect. Anyways all of you people take care, and I'm happy with my life. I'm not going to change the way I am and I'm not going to change who I am. I'm happy I am and at the end I can be myself now. So I wish for all of you, don't fall into confusion, don't fall into confusion about this O.K. If you want to be a Buddhist all you need is the one person who has a spiritual understanding life experience as I've told you many times. I'm so sorry for the cars running here there because I'm outside. Take care. I love you very much and I'm happy don't worry.''

Broken hearted in France
By Kalu · April 19, 2011 · 153 Comments
News, Thoughts · Tagged: pictures
Broken Hearted
I am at Kagyu Ling, my oldest center in France.

Kagyu Ling was home of the first Three-year retreat center in the west. This was my predecessor’s gift to the west in 1976. Where are all the trained and qualified lamas? Where are all the old students? On the other hand I see a lot of tourists. If you look at the retreat centers today, they are empty, abandoned and pitiful. This is shameful. This breaks my heart.

As a matter of fact, many people have come to me and informed me about the misbehavior of some of the lamas over many years; moreover there is a deep unhappiness and disharmony among the residents. In the interest of protecting the center and the Dharma I requested the lamas there to step down. Shamelessly, in response, those lamas have decided with a lawyer to deny my authority as spiritual head of the lineage and this center.

I myself am not perfect, but nevertheless I profoundly respect the Dharma.

Many times lamas talk about devotion. Devotion, devotion, devotion, but when I need to make a change that counters their plans, there is no agreement, no devotion. I am tired of Dharma politics. I am tired of Dharma business.

Since all those years, sincere practitioners have come, many have left, many have been disillusioned, many are sad, it is time to reconnect and put things back on track.

I want to change the system for a system that doesn’t involve abuse of power or abuse of money and is respectful of people and students. I want to keep Dharma safe. I want to keep Dharma pure. I want to keep Kagyu Ling safe.

I need prayers and support from all of you to put it right. Please join us in prayer and action during this difficult time. Sorry to bother you with bad news. I know that you have professional and family obligations, but at this time I really need you.

We are all waiting for a change. The time is now, and I cannot do this without you. This is my responsibility, but nevertheless I would be very happy to have you close to me during this difficult time. If you are able, please join me at Kagyu Ling for the weekend of 23-25 April, 2011.

From my heart. My love to you all."

Posted by withywindle at 5:01 AM
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AnonymousDecember 4, 2011 12:25 PM
Good for him for giving the world a reality check about what the monastic system is really like. Namkhai Norbu's son says in the film "My Reincarnation" that the reason his father refused to send him to a monastery was because of all the abuse his father suffered as a child. A Western tulku says in Gesar Mukpo's film, "Tulku" that the monasteries are "cesspools" of hate, jealousy, violence and child abuse. People need to wake up and smell the coffee.

These are medieval institutions run by medieval minds. Reform is long overdue, and children have no business living in an institution full of celibate adults. This is a problem not only in the Tibetan monasteries, but in Sri Lanka and Taiwan as well. It's time authorities put compassion into action and perhaps convert the "kiddie program" in the monasteries as day schools rather than boarding schools.

AnonymousDecember 4, 2011 4:22 PM
The lamas don't only talk of devotion, devotion, devotion. They also talk endlessly of compassion, compassion, compassion. But instead of compassion, they live by abuse. They preach "destruction" of the ego, but are concerned only with power, fame and fortune for themselves. Let's face it; the compassion is fake, loving-kindness virtually non-existent except in exceptional cases like Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche,(and look what sincerity, kindness and devotion to the Dharma got him--a lawsuit!), and the supposed celibacy is a bad joke.

Hiring lawyers to deny the tulku's legitimacy? What?! They may as well deny the legitimacy of the entire tulku system, then.

In the film, "Tulku", Dzongsar Khentse Rinpoche says the tulku system will be the downfall of Tibetan Buddhism, if Tibetans aren't careful. It looks like the lamas' own greed and lust for power are already doing a very good job of trashing Tibetan Buddhism.

If Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche's tulku status isn't legitimate, what does that say about the entire system, and about the status of the lamas who are accusing him? Their own actions show that we were naive to believe any of them in the first place.

Re: Child sex abuse in Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 30, 2012 08:52PM

URL for the article and transcript from Down the Crooked Path cited above:


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