Current Page: 8 of 18
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 04, 2012 11:08PM

From The Guardian

(excerpted from a long and quite good article)


Professor Geoffrey Samuels is author of a series of excellent, well researched books on the history of tantra in both India and in Tibet and its links to indigenous shamanism, and how it was co-opted into and legitimized as part of Buddhist practice.


Professor Geoffrey Samuel from Cardiff University explains: "In the third initiation of the highest yoga tantra, sexual union is introduced as a parallel to the experience of enlightenment. It creates certain sensations that help towards experiencing the state of ultimate realisation – in other words Buddhahood."

But Samuel says that although this arcane version of sacred sex is present in Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, it should not be confused with the modern neo-tantra movement and nor is it appropriate for recent converts to Buddhism."People should have a health warning" he says. "An elderly guru seducing a young woman probably isn't doing it to assist her towards enlightenment."

Tibetans outside Tibet are refugees who feel constantly under threat from forces beyond their control.

Their social conventions include a taboo against criticising lamas.

The Dalai Lama is constrained by this and so too are the majority of other lamas teaching in the west.

So, friends, expecting the DL or the Kadampa or some other Magic Daddy to come in and clean up sexual and financial scandals at your local center is wishful thinking.

Professor Samuel noted that shamanic rites and rituals were of the utmost importance when people faced overwhelming forces beyond their controls.

In his book Civilized Shamans Samuels tells how people brought "pragmatic", "karma" and "bodhi" orientations to their usage of Vajrayana forms. In pragmatic usage, one consulted lamas for survival assistance--rituals to fend off harm and bring good, assistance in naming a newborn child, rituals to protect a woman during childbirth.

"karma" orientiation was activity in seeking ethical guidance and how to behave so as to gain merit and fortunate rebirth for oneself or others--described as the primary clerical activity of Vajrayana Buddhism. Lamas and monks did lots of teaching on ethics, devotion and merit bringing rituals and empowerments.

Bodhi orientation was seeking ultimate enlightenment and realization of Buddhahood--which only a few quite motivated persons practiced.


Part of how Buddhism won people's loyalties at local level was in lamas taking over the role of shamans and functioning at what Samuels calls the 'pragmatic' level.

Today, if one wants to seek divination to find an auspicious day for beginning a project, one consults a lamas who is considered knowledgeable in doing this--a "mo" lama.

Divination is done by various means including use of a rosary.

Even the Dalai Lama consults an oracle, the Nechung Oracle, a man who is taken over by spirits. This is a direct hold over from pre-buddhist practice and shows how even the most clerical and scholarly of the sects co-opted this.


The siddhas who practiced shamanism and early tantra tended to live in frontier regions, and were considered custodians of powerful rituals and mantras. To be a shaman is to identify with and be taken over by a natural force or spirit and relate this knowledge to the needs of one's community or whoever consults you.

The tantric method of identifying with a deity is a more elaborate version of this, and like shamans who were considered to pass their charisma between generations, from one to another, the seeking of tulu/rinpoche rebirths was a way to see charisma and often associated political power, passed on.

If a westerner too eagerly gets involved in Vajrayana he or she may end up paying taxes as a citizen, while thinking as a peasant, fearing curses from tulkus and seeking empowerments and requesting divinations.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 05, 2012 11:58PM

When news of lamaistic abuse of money, sex and trust is reported, very often some ask

"So why did people let this happen?"


"Why didnt the girls or women (more rarely men) protest or leave?"

"Why did the victims allow themselves to be victimized?"

Here tis a way to look at the situation.

Psychiatrist Robert I Simon (1980)noted that when boundary violations occur in psychotherapy (and this in spite of boundary violation being a well recognized issue), Dr Simon suggested that the process of boundary compromise is not a sudden dramatic bheaviour that "just happens", but that the dramatic acting out is linked to a long chain of cause and effect that earlier escaped notice but that can be seen once one knows what to look for and what questions to ask.

Simon reviewed very many cases and found that by the time a powerholder committed sexual boundary violations, this was the culmination of a process of boundary compromise. that had started gradually, in subtle increments, long before.

Financial and sexual abuse should be considered late stage manifestations of a process of corruption that begins much earlier.

So, lets look at the Lama abuse situation. Instead of being able to identify it after it has become so serious that acting out is occurring, lets look at the risk factors and early stage behaviors.

This means that instead of asking why a lama acted out, or why students permitted the lama to act out, look back months and years before sexual and financial improprieties were identified.

Look for the subtle risk factors.

The Lamas--many of them started out as little kids who were removed from home at early ages, when identified as Tulkus or Rinpoches. Or sent away from home as little kids to be monks, because their families could not take care of them.

So at early ages, these tiny boys are often separated from family life, live in all male
settings, and smaller boys risk bullying or sexual assault by older boys and men.

Rather than face their suffering and powerless to escape, they may dissociate and learn to tell themselves that what they are suffering is not really true, just the result of false, conditioned perception that is unreliable.

They may tell themselves or be told that their suffering is nothing compared to those Chinese prisons.

So many lamas may have learned to invalidate ordinary perception as a psychological survival device.

1) Laypeople attracted to spiritual practice. Many of us have backgrounds in pain and learned to invalidate our perceptions and emotions as a childhood coping device.

A lot of people come from backgrounds where one learns to survive by distrusting one's emotions and perceptions. You're a little kid, you cannot escape from the Big People on whom your survival depends and whose behavior is scaring you.

One way to survive is to persuade yourself that you have no reason to be scared.

And adults who behave badly to and aroudn small children often manage their shame by transferring shame to the children. A child will be told, "You are imagining it" "You are too sensitive" etc.

If you grow up in a household where drugs or alcohol are used one may learn to blank out and not see disturbing sights and behaviors.

Many of us grow up in families or foster homes or are stuck in schools where we have to ignore or distrust terrrifying information from our senses and bodies that is accurate.

So, a person who has grown up in this way, is already preformatted to be highly sensitive to non verbal non conscious information that signals danger or safety.

But at the same time, this person may have grown adept at consciously distrusting and then ignoring perceptions of actual danger. One learns not to see the bottle of gin that is always by the toaster. One leanrs to tune out the stink of alcohol on an authority figure's breath. One learns to tune out the creepy feeling or sense of revulsion one gets if someone hugs you a little too long, a little too tightly, or has a creepy "wet perv" gaze.

You learn to distrust, to invalidate your senses and your gut sense that someone else is being treated badly.

Risk Factor three--the Teachings

IMO the first step in a process that sets Vajrayana students, even entry level students up for additional risk of abuse is distortion of a basic teaching in Buddhism and also even the varieties of Hinduisms--the teaching that our conditioned, ordinary, conventional perception is mistaken.

This teaching if taught carefully, in tiny doses, can be used beneficially to assist us to slow down inside, get steady and apply insight to the ordinarily unoticed flux of our feelings, thoughts, emtions and perceptions. We can become better at assessing ourselves.

One common teachings story is to invite people to look at an object. One sees just one side of the object, because just that one side faces your eyes. It is impossible, sitting still and looking at an immobile object to see all sides of it at once. Another classic story is the rope mistaken for a snake, or the multitude of blind men with the elephant.

Another classic teaching story is the snake and the rope. You walk into the dark, see what looks like a snake, and you panic. Later, you turn the light on and see its a coiled rope. The conclusion is--you canot rely on conditioned perception.

Now..if one uses this teaching very carefully, in tiny doses, it can be useful. One is not to reject all of one's conditioned perceptions. (Eg ablity to distinguish between green from red so you can understand traffic signals. Green and red dont actually exist in the ultimate sense--they are different wavelenths of visible light that make different signal impressions on the cone cells in our eyes--unless we have some form of red/green colour blindness)

But the ordinary dualistic distinction between 'red' and 'green' (or upper light vs lower light) has to be maintained if one is to avoid traffic accidents in this world of massive physical forces on roadways.

One also has to maintain ability to function in the world of conventional perception if one is to earn money to support that dharma center and that lama.

For a contemporary example, here is one from truck safety training. The first question the teacher asked us was "How many sides does a truck have?"

Many people answer "Four". Actually, a truck has six sides, not four. But because front back and sides are most easily seen by us when we stand are at ground level the ground, most of us answer 'four sides' not six sides.

***However, in truck safety class, we are not then told that this demonstrates that our conventional perceptions are untrustworthy and that we have to put our trust in some lama who will tell us what Reality is all about.

But if this foundational teaching is presnted in some subtly distorted manner, and especially to students who come from backgrounds where they already leanred to invalidate perception in order to surive, and student misunderstandings of it are not identified and corrected, this foundational teaching can make it seem that ones basic perceptions and feelings are entirely untrustworthy.

Worse, this pedagogical distortion links wholesale invalidation of ones thoughts and perceptions to Buddhadharma--and worse, links this heartfelt loyalty to a teacher.

This basic teaching that one cannot trust one's ordinary, 'conditioned' perception, can if applied too heavily and taken to heart by students who already learned to invalidate their childhood thoughts and perceptions of danger, bring in Vajrayana as an ideological support for wholesale invalidation of ordinary perception.

This can leaving students unable to recognize or even react to boundary violations in early stages or even be unable to sense danger and remove oneself to safety. Bizarre, cruel or "weird" behavior by teacher and high ranking senior students will be normalized.

And if invalidation of perception is linked to and rationalized by an ideology shared thorughout a Vajrayana center, its like an alcoholic family, where the dysfunctions are embedded in a cognitive strategy and pattern of rhetoric and rationalization, and worse, vow taking with threats of hell.

. When you have a lot of adult children of alcholics or abuse survivors in a situation of this kind, the psychological undertow reaches hurricane force.

But too often, in badly taught dharma classes (I empasize the small 'd'), this line of argument is used to loosen up a student's trust in his or her perceptions and emotions.

So here you are, and you get this basic teaching--that conditioned, conventional perception is not to be trusted. You are told the snake and rope story.

You are convinced by analogy, and it happens to link with the distrust of your own perceptions that you already learned growing up in a bad family or group home where emtional survival meant distrusting insights that would have made your conscious life utterly unbearable. gets these teaching that invalidate conditioned perception and perhaps the teachings are routed through a person who grew up in an alcoholic or drugs addicted family. Or grew up being molested or who had a sibling being molested and has the guilt of being spared.

People with agonizing personal histories tend to be attracted to spiritual projects of all kinds, and with the best of intentions may subtly distort teachings in such a way as to reinforce coping strategies typical of ACA or active addicts or those who have been molested.

Persons who do trust their perceptions may be persuaded to distrust their perceptions. But the ones who really buy into it may be from traumatized backgrounds.

Meanwhile, persons who dont like this kind of teaching, who do trust their perceptions and feel wary--they are the ones who either leave the dharma center, or safetly stay in peripheral, outer circle positions, where they are less likely to be hurt.

Now...its good to have a bit of intelligent skepticism about ones perceptions--a bit. Its good to have breathing space so one can apply insight and do reality checks.

But, too rigidly distrusting ones perceptions means one loses contact with the abililty to trust ones gut instincts that something potentially dangerous is going on--ones boudnaries get eroded.

And...persons who really buy into this may cluster close to the lama. These are persons who are vulnerable, shut down children in adult bodies. THey may be highly intelligent, socially sophisticated, but they are malleable. Very malleable.

The 'dharma center' may take on an emotional tone that feels just like an alcoholic family, long before any serious acting out takes place.

The dysfunctional family vibe may feel cozily famliar to unrecovered survivors who intensively buy into the distrust your conditioned perceptions teaching.

And...that is highly flammable tinder.

A lama who is him (or herself) a large child in an adult body, sexually immature due to early removal from famliy and being immured in monastery after discovery as a child tulku---the risks are all there.

And bang. When trouble appears, right away, out come the teachings--you cannot trust conditioned perceptions. You are 'stuck in conventional reality' if you name what you are seeing as 'abuse of power.'

So the teachings that one cannot trust ones conditioned reality--those have to be taught ever so carefully and learned ever so carefully, so that one isnt led into emotional or intellectual shut down and so that interpersonal and intrapersonal boundaries that are needed can remain intact.

Here is where additional trouble in dharma centers may slip in.

We discussed the foundational teaching. But..throw in more advanced teachigns with scary visualizations and vows.

"Investigate the Teacher"

Someone, perhaps the Dalai Lama, once advised that before taking advanced vows, one should spend ten years if necessary investigating a teacher.

There are problems with this seemingly reasonable advice. You run the risk of losing yoru objectivity and becoming a convert, during your so called 'investigation'.

During this investigation (which is likelty to become conversion) you are likely to make friendships at the center You get emotionally involved. You get used to things and formerly unusual or odd behaviors come to seem normal. Advice is given to 'investigate' your teacher for ten years before taking high level vows.

Just being polite, you do a lot of bowing. That can change a person. Missionaries, whether Jehovah Witnesses or LDS get lots of converts by suggesting seemingly modest trivial tasks to be done--just read a bit of this, set aside a few minutes for silence with God. Just making a tiny commmitment of effort will, over time, change a persons attitude. investigate many vajrayana teachers, one need to be able to travel to India, Nepal, Sikkim or Bhutun. Who has those resources?Thats a big commitment right there.

If you live long term at a dharma center as part of this investigation, just doing that will change your perceptions because humans are influenceable social creatures. Thats something the DL forgot (did he forget?)when giving this seemingly reasonable advice. Its not useful advice at all.

By the time you have spent ten year "investigating" (and one has to learn conversational Tibetan if one is to be fully equipped)--at the end of that time, your objectivity is likelty to be gone and you have become a convert.

So, these are the early stages by which boundaries, inside and outside of a person may be compromised.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 06, 2012 12:36AM

Its hard enough to recover from life in a secret ridden, scary dysfunctional family where you're just dysfunctinal, with no glory attached to it, no religion to back it up, with no political agenda or large sums of money at stake.

At least when dad is disrupting family life with mistresses he isnt claiming to be Padmasambhava consorting with Yeshe Tsogyal and we are too unenlightened to understand the glory of it all.

We are free to consider him an asshole.

If mom is being scary drunk, at least she isnt claiming to be a Wrathful Dakini who is actually doing Bodhisattva activity. We are free to feel scared.

We wont be accused of oppressing the poor suffering Tibetans or violating samya vows if we later stand up and say out loud that Dad was being faithless and Mom was scaring us.

But when you have ordinary dysfunctional family behavior embodied in a and an inner circle of such students trained in families of origin to distrust their perceptions and further trained in Vajrayana to distrust both conventional perception and to regard conventional ethics as not necessary in the higher stages, and this Vajrayana center attracts yet more students from anguished backgrounds--

This results in a dysfunctinal family with dysfunction is rendered un nameable and
un questionable because normal modes of perception--and by extension, the process of naming--are said to be unreliable.

The dysfunction and predation are are entrenched by lots of bowing, Shangrila fantasies, thrones, crowns, robes, lack of media oversight--and a sophisticated rhetoric of invalidation that has been refined for centuries to benefit a feudal power elite.

Ha. Imagine some person with impulse control problems being hauled to Human Resources Department because he got drunk and acted like a satyr at the company party.

Imagine the fellow saying, "But what I did Bodhisattva activity.

I am the incarnation of Drukpa Kunley. Letting me shag you will liberate you"

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 06, 2012 09:33PM

The title of Simon's 1989 article is "Sexual Exploitation of Patients: How It Begins Before It Happens"

Though Simon is perhaps not a Buddhist practitioner, his observations validate a central tenet of Buddhist logic---something cannot come from nothing.

No behavior occurs without a chain of cause and effect.

If we can ask "How did trouble at a Vajrayana center begin, before it became extreme enough to be considered as 'happening'"?

In a later study, RI Simon learned that many instances of early boundary violation begin not during sessions, but in the grey zone "between the chair and the doorway"

One example of this was a Dharma teacher who later got into sexual scandals with students.

This man reportedly tested prospective victims. He would do so by walking alonside a woman he fancied--and bump his hip into her hip.

If she failed to protest--and if she failed to activate boundaries on her side by taking means to avoid further contact with this guy--it signalled that either she liked him or at least she felt unable to defend herself. This woman would be selected for further pressures.

I was also told this same teacher, the one who later got into very public trouble committed boundary violations in other ways.

By tradition this dharma center operated on a tight ceremonial schedule, a precedent set by its founder. Lectures were supposed to take place on the minute.

That meant that the teacher, who gave the talk and was head of the monastery, had to follow a tight schedule, precise to the minute.

The boundary violator abused his authority by consistently running late. A former attendant told me that X would not be ready on time for lectures, and she would have to knock on his door to roust him out. It got so bad that many other people refused to serve as attendant to this man.

When he did deign to show up for lecture (and he was late), my informant reported he would talk on and on, and go over the specified time limit for the lecture.

A therapist who was an expert at boundary violations heard my descriptions of this and narvelled, "So, at least 10 to 15 years before this man landed in the news because of sexual acting out, he was already having trouble honoring boundaries."

It doesnt matter how charming or brilliant someone is. Running late and inflicting inconvenience on people, whether attendants or one's audience, sends the message that the latecomer feels entitled, and or that other people dont exist or matter as human beings.

No teaching worthwhile if that nonverbal message is underneath it all.

At the very least, chronic violation of timetables and good manners indicates that someone is disorganized--too disorganized to follow instructions from attendants and too disorganized to function as a leader of a dharma center.

If someone has that kind of concentration trouble and cannot be kept on time, even by guidance from an attendant, THAT PERSON IS NOT SUITABLE FOR A LEADERSHIP ROLE.

Some will show up late and be so dazzling and charming that the audience is conned into forgiving them. Dont fall for that.

In many Asian countries, keeping people waiting is a signal that they are low status and that the person keeping them late is the king of the heap.

If you are a freeborn citizen it is a tragedy to let yourself be abused this way.

That can lead to allowing yourself to be abused in very much worse ways. not playing for laughs.

Anyone ditzy or arrogant enough to keep a roomful of people waiting and who gives his or her attendant anxiety, will, if allowed to continue this violation of boundaries, be at risk of allowing or perpetrating other boundary violations.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 06, 2012 09:48PM

An abstract of Robert I Simon's article.


Sexual exploitation of patients: How it begins before it happens.
Simon, Robert I.
Psychiatric Annals, Vol 19(2), Feb 1989, 104-112. Abstract

Argues that treatment boundaries between therapists and patients tend to erode gradually and imperceptibly and that prevention of sexual exploitation of the patient by the therapist is possible if changes in the therapeutic relationship are recognized early.

It is recommended that therapists learn about the identification and management of transference and countertransference feelings, have access to colleagues regarding questions on appropriate patient–therapist boundaries, obtain personal psychotherapy before violating these boundaries, or refer the patient before exploitation occurs.

Patient education regarding inappropriate therapist behaviors may also decrease (sexual) exploitation in therapy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

Contrary to what Dr Robert Simon advises, at Vajrayana and other centers, boundry violations are too often ignored in the early stages, especially if too many members at the center learned to ignore and invalidate their own perceptions.

Buddhist teachings, commonly used but IMO actually applied in such a way as to no longer be Buddhist, but retaining only the name, , misapplied in such a way as to:
*Justify invalidation of student's valid perceptions and attempts to report that boundaries are not being respected

*Invocation of "Right Speech' shame students into keeping verbally and psychologically silent about their misgivings

All this together will turn a Dharma Center into a reenactment of a dysfunctional family that is isomorphic to the situation that the teacher and many students came from--an association that no longer can teach Dharma but only re-enact psychological bondage and train people to function as peasants or as scared children.

What all this does is create a group climate in which members are collectively unable to develop the perceptiveness that could detect early warning signs of boundary violations beginning sociallybefore they "happen" sexually and financially to a degree that meets legal guidelines for filing a lawsuit and media guidelines for a front page story.

This is a climate where Lama, Rinpoche or Tulku misbehavior is "allowed to happen"

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: yasmin ()
Date: November 07, 2012 12:16AM

I think your assessment of this is very interesting,and some of it I definitely agree with. Your point about small boundary violations potentially leading to large violations is particularly important.
Not all people who join religious groups that tend to power abuse come from broken homes. In fact many people who join cults come from very good homes. Anyone can be conned.
The ability to be conned is not necessarily a result of a personality flaw formed in childhood.
Personally I think there is a certain tendency to consider that for example children who grow up in cults or have other negative experiences must be flawed, unable to form good relationships etc.
And indeed your comments seem to suggest this is true.
Yet while some people certainly will face lifelong challenges from such a background, the human psyche is often much more resilient than one might think.
There are many people who have experienced challenges in their life who use this to become stronger, more compassionate.
Victor Frankl, who survived the concentration camps and helped develop existential therapy, would be one example.
And plenty of people from troubled backgrounds have very good skills at reading people ; in fact some have developed extremely good skills in this area, possibly as a result of needing to identify whether the sitautions around them were safe or not.
Most of the people I know from such backgrounds are in fact much warier about joining in group religious dynamics, and more likely to observe the first subtle signs of power abuse than others without such life experience..
Just thought another point of view might be helpful here.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: pS1bY8pG2l ()
Date: November 07, 2012 05:09AM

I agree with you, Yasmin and I´d like to bring in a very interesting article by Marry Finnigan, Guardian:

The lamas who give Tibetan Buddhism a bad name

Don't be taken in by the Shangri La factor. If seeking guidance in Buddhism, choose your teacher carefully

(From my point of view tibetan lamaism produces the kind of following crimes on the basic of inherent structures and practises. Mary Finnigan has another point of view, but she is very brave by reporting it in a well known newspaper.)

A senior monk at Kagyu Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist centre near Dijon in France, has become the first ordained lama in the developed world to be imprisoned. Lama Tempa Dargye is being held in provisional detention, following allegations of rape and sexual violence by four women. One woman alleged that she was aged nine when she was raped. French police have also launched an investigation into financial irregularities at the centre.

Kagyu Ling was founded in 1976 by the late Kalu Rinpoche, in response to a surge of interest in Tibetan Buddhism among western spiritual seekers. Kalu Rinpoche died in 1989. Within the last two years his reincarnation, the present Kalu Rinpoche, has assumed responsibility for the institutions set up by his predecessor. But during Kalu's childhood the situation at Kagyu Ling allegedly deteriorated to the point where it no longer functioned as a Buddhist centre. The young Kalu sacked Lama Tempa and five other resident Bhutanese monks, replacing them with westerners and a "collegiate" system of control and responsibility.

Controversy over Kagyu Ling might then have died down – except for the fact that a woman known as Sandrine decided to tell her story of rape and sexual violence to the gendarmerie. At first she was a lone voice, but recently three more women decided to testify; Lama Tempa was arrested and the police investigation is ongoing.

The events at Kagyu Ling are currently making headlines in France, but Tibet-watchers worldwide are aware that many more scandals have surfaced since the lamas fled their homeland in the late 1950s, following the Chinese takeover of Tibet. Some examples: in America followers of the late Trungpa Rinpoche were horrified to learn that his appointed successor, the late Thomas Rich appeared to have infected several people with HIV.

In 1994 the high-profile lama Sogyal Rinpoche was sued in California for sexual assault by a woman known as Janice Doe. The suit was settled out of court with substantial damages paid to the plaintiff. Rumours about Sogyal's sexual exploits have circulated on the internet ever since. In Canberra, Australia, a respected Tibetan guru called Lama Choedak was forced to make a public apology after multiple affairs with his female students came to light.

In the UK Michael Lyons, aka Mohan Singh, is serving 10 years in prison after being convicted of rape. He posed as a Tibetan lama, but had no authentic qualifications. The followers of an American, Geshe Michael Roach, ordained as a Tibetan monk, attracted media attention when one of them died in bizarre circumstances after being ejected from a three-year retreat at a remote mountain centre in Arizona. "Michael Roach teaches an extremely exaggerated, and from a Buddhist perspective somewhat dubious, form of tantrism," says Lama Jampa Thaye, an Englishman from Manchester who has been teaching Tibetan Buddhism for more than 30 years.

The Shangri La factor is undoubtedly significant in the explosion of interest in Tibetan Buddhism around the world. The Dalai Lama's Nobel prize and his saintly reputation is another. His Holiness has an impressive track record in favour of nonviolence and as a champion of human rights – and he has warned against being seduced into Tibetan Buddhism by its exotic tantric aura, with hints of arcane sexual practices. Although he has never named and shamed any individual lama, he has recently publicly acknowledged that "some tulkus have behaved badly". He also cautions against rushing into commitment to a lama. "In Tibet", he says, "it could take 12 years before a lama-disciple relationship was established." He points out that it is a big responsibility and should not be undertaken lightly by either party.

So if you are attracted to Tibetan Buddhism, have read some books and learned some meditation techniques and now want to delve in deeper – how do you guard against being fooled by a charismatic charlatan? What criteria do you apply to your search for an authentic teacher? Lama Jampa Thaye's advice reflects a commonsense approach:

"Although one may come across examples of authentic Buddhist masters who dress or speak unconventionally, there is no licence in Buddhism for unethical behaviour. Thus oriental or occidental masters who claim their selfish and abusive behaviour is a display of 'skilful means' or 'crazy wisdom' are to be given a wide berth – unless we want to jump over a cliff hand in hand with them."


Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 07, 2012 10:06AM


Your point about small boundary violations potentially leading to large violations is particularly important.

It isnt 'my' point. This is based on clinical observations by a psychiatrist, Robert I Simon, first published in 1989 and refined since then.

I discovered Dr Simon's paper at a time when I was trying to make sense of what had happened between me and a Christian spiritual advisor.

Using Dr Simon's framework and his suggestion that boundary violations occur in small increments long before matters reach a point of becoming criminal, and that knowing how to recognize subtle factors can assist in prevention---this enabled me to identify multiple grey zone areas where the powerholder had violated boundaries and I had ignored them.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 07, 2012 09:12PM

The next step would be to do a couple of surveys--a good project for a graduate student who has had prior course work in research methodology and questionnaire design.

(Even minor changes in wording a question can give quite different responses)

The survey should be designed to obtain information for these areas:

Level of stress in a persons family background. If respondants report troubled family backgrounds and their response is statistically greater than 50% (the rate to be expected based on random chance), that suggests a high proportion of people at that center who come from backgrounds that would train them to ignore when boundaries are compromised.

Other areas of scrutiny for designing a questionnaire:

Level of stress immediately preceding interest in Vajrayana and other forms of Buddhism

Level of stress immediately preceding entry into residential practice at the dharma center.

(One could structure a questionnaire to ask whether a respondant, prior to entry into residential practice had to change relationships, jobs, give up a place of residence or even give up a beloved dog or cat. The more a respondant has give up, the greater the risk of cognitive dissonance if something goes wrong at the practice center for which the respondant sacrificed so much to join.)

Additional questions could be asked about stressors--drinking or drugs use in family of origin age the person was when parents died or divorced, whether person has any children, illnesses or death among children.

Outside social support and quality that social support of before entry into residential practice--friends, health care providers, family.

Social support from outside of the dharma center after one year residence, three year residence, ten year residence. It would be important to know if people continue to maintain relationships with non practitioner friends and family and health care providers, or tend to let go of outside sources of validation the longer they remain at the center. could also ask persons at different levels of residence (one year, two years, three years, five years) at the center how much social support they have outside of that dharma center--list the number of supportive friends, family members and health care providers who are NOT in any way affiliated with the center or with Buddhism (or whateever the belief system) and whom the respondant can turn to if things go bad at the dharma center.

An additional study could be done to see if student perceptions of an objectively measurable behavior by an authority figure match well with observations of outside observers.

A good area to examine is perceptions if a teacher arrives late for scheduled events--would be whether the highest ranking teacher arrives on schedule for lectures and other teachings. All one has to do is look at the schedule and then note the the teacher's arrival (on time, 10 minutes late, 15 minutes late, 34 minutes late)

Then, at these same lectures, hand out a questionnaire with an item asking, "Today did the Teacher or Guru arrive on time for the talk or event?"

If the observer notes (using their wristwatches) that the teacher arrived late, but a high proportion of the questionnaire respondants reply that the teacher arrived on time, (or say the person arrived late but this is irrelevant in relation to the merit of receiving blessing, this would suggest that respondants are perceiving teacher behavior differently from an outside observer

---a subtle risk factor that could contribute to ignoring later and more severe boundary violations by that teacher or other authority figures.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Fake Tibetan Buddhist Lamas - Do you know any "Wolves in Lama's Robes
Posted by: yasmin ()
Date: November 08, 2012 12:46AM

Hi Corboy; such a study would be interesting.
Of course if your hypothesis is that people who join abusive religious groups are more likely to be stressed , or to have troubled backgrounds, then you would have to also look at two variables
Are people under stress more likely to join social groups of any kind ?
Are people under stress more likely to join religious groups of any kind?
Perhaps looking at stress levels/family backgrounds in people who join the Sierra Club, the local gym, etc would help with the first
And looking at stress levels/family backgrounds for people joining mainstream religions or NRMs that are seen as positive would help with the second to give some useful comparisons.

Of course even a study in a scientific journal will often still be effected by the bias of the observer, particularly in how they design the study and categorize the results.
For example, while looking around to see what had been studied in this area, I came across this gem

Clinical and Personality Assessments of Participants in New Religions, Richardson J.T. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion,Vol 5, Issue 3, 1995
From the abstract;

The present review covers considerable research...The conclusion in the earlier review that most experiences in the group were generally positive are strengthened by including this later reseach.

The three groups being studied were the Hare Krishna movement, Rajneesh, and The Jesus Movement.

I havent read his study design or seen more than the abstract, though I would guess that one possible major flaw would be that asking people in a group where criticism of the group might be considered a religious failing, whether or not they are happy in the group, is likely to get a positive response, regardless of the persons actual feelings.

It has been pretty well documented that many children raised in particular in the Hare Knrishna group certainly found the experience so much less than positive that I believe ( anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong here) that there was an out of court settlement to the tune of millions for compensation?

Yet from the point of view of this scientific study, the experience was "mainly positive".
My own hypothesis is that caught at the right time, any one can be vulnerable to a con or to a religion that becomes abusive . But that at least a percentage of the people who have been conned, particularly if they studied how such things occur, are more likely than others without such experience to be able to identify the warning signs when they see boundary violations happening again.
I personally don't believe that a personality flaw is responsible for people being vulnerable to being conned. Perhaps just innocence and lack of experience.

Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 8 of 18

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.