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Re: Doubts about the Dalai Lama
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 05, 2013 10:31PM

Yep. There is a new thread on Dialogue Ireland concerning Sogyal.

Good article and good comments.


The usual person has boilerplate testimonies, familiar from all the other discussions concerning Rigpa.

The alert reader will identify which items contribute to the discussion.

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Re: Doubts about the Dalai Lama
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 12, 2013 01:01AM

To W19XX -- your mailbox is full.


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Re: Doubts about the Dalai Lama
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 13, 2013 11:46PM

Saying Bullshit to the Dalai Lama

We cannot expect the Dalai Lama to rescue us.


From a memoir Heart Blown Open


Heart Blown Open — Meeting the Dali Lama
Dali Lama
In the mid 1990s, Kelly and another dozen American Buddhist teachers were invited to visit the Dalai Lama in India.

“You’re going to India?” Sandra asked him, amazed. “To meet the Dalai Lama, personally?”
Kelly looked at the invitation in his hands. “Well, guess it’s time to go and see dad,” he said with a grin. “Find out if we’ve been bad boys and girls, or good ones.”

The fourteenth Dalai Lama was acknowledged by just about every serious practitioner of Buddhism as having penetrating insight into the true nature of mind. His insight was not in question, but some Americans thought his cultural programming from Tibet did, in fact, strongly color and influence his beliefs, and not always in the most insightful ways, especially around topics like homosexuality, oral sex, the role of women, and masturbation, where the Dalai Lama could sound strikingly like a Roman Catholic bishop.

The Dalai Lama was hosting the conference to answer questions that were arising with the first generation of American teachers of Buddhism, and to see if he could impart any wisdom or clarity where Western cultural confusion might be creating problems in their understanding of the dharma, of teachings.

A dozen Western Buddhist masters, from many different backgrounds, were brought to India to participate in the conference. They sat in an audience, with His Holiness on stage taking their questions. Kelly was near the front, and he listened as one of the American teachers brought up a troubling question: A high ranking Tibetan teacher had gotten into trouble for sleeping with some of his female students, and had been sued and forced into a kind of hiding from the uproar he had caused.

This problem, it should be noted, has been a long-standing one in spiritual communities. For some, like Osho (also known as Rajneesh) and Papa Free John (also known as Adi Da), they dealt with this by having “free love” communities, where sex was encouraged as part of a spiritual practice, to take away the taboo surrounding it.

Many other spiritual teachers had been accused of sexual misconduct, from Kelly’s own teacher Eido Shimano Roshi to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche to the Indian yogi Pattabhi Jois. And it wasn’t just non-Christians, either — in another decade, the dam would break on the Catholic Church, exposing an epidemic of sexual misconduct within its ranks. Clearly, sex was problematic for all of us, including our spiritual teachers.

“How do you explain his behavior, your Holiness,” the questioner asked, perhaps hoping for a psychological explanation. The Dalai Lama, smiling, leaned forward.

“The problem,” he said, gently, “is that their insight is not deep enough. When the insight of your true nature is deep enough, it transforms all parts of us, so that Basic Goodness and compassion naturally and effortlessly arise. This prevents the kind of deluded behavior we see with him.” He sat back.

Kelly, incredulous, waited for someone to challenge the statement. He raised his own hand and the Dalai Lama pointed to him.

“Your Holiness,” Kelly offered, “may I use a word here?”

“Please,” came the answer.

“Bullshit,” Kelly dropped, and a collective gasp went up from the audience. Father Geiger would have been proud to know Kelly was still making his philosophical arguments much the same way he had forty years before.

The Dalai Lama chuckled.

I know this man we’re speaking of,” Kelly continued. “He took three three-year cave retreats where he saw only his master and lived in the wilderness with no power, no heat, no bed. That’s nine years of the most intensive monastic training. He trained with you, your Holiness, for a decade. And he spent another decade training in the States. This man trained for thirty years, and you’re telling me his insight isn’t deep enough? I’ve met him, I’ve talked to him, I’ve practiced with him, and I’m telling you, that explanation is, with all due respect, bullshit, your Holiness.”

Kelly sat back, smiling. The Dalai Lama nodded his head and chuckled again, his eyes shimmering behind the thick lenses of his glasses.

That is because your insight isn’t deep enough,” he said with a kind-hearted smile.

Kelly’s mouth popped open. As the Dalai Lama waited patiently for Kelly to respond, he couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

And if one wants a look at Dharamsala in the late 1990s, the slavish attitude toward the Dalai Lama evinced by locals, and want to find that the much vaunted Tibetan Buddhist logic debates are actually mere indoctrination, get and read Turtle Feet: The Making and Unmaking of a Buddhist Monk by Nikolai Grozni

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Re: Doubts about the Dalai Lama
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 14, 2013 12:01AM

caution: Ken Wilber appears to endorse this book. Learn from the book but avoid any teacher endorsed by Wilber. He has already endorsed Da Free John, Andrew Cohen, Genpo Roshi (Big Mind) and Marc Gafni

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Re: Doubts about the Dalai Lama
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 14, 2013 01:58AM

One way to evaluate a potential teacher:

If his or she looks too darned serious in the official photograph, seems to be straining for effect-- think carefully.

You can yourself try and hold that same pose, staring into a mirror.

If you cannot do so without feeling an intense strain after 3 minutes -- the pose is unnatural.

Teachers who wiggle and giggle are also to be suspected.

Especially if they are grown men.

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A tough minded essay critiquing "Lhassawood"
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 26, 2014 10:21PM

Here is a URL for a tough minded essay critiquing
what Corboy chooses to call "Lhasawood"--the media and
academic network surrounding the Dalai Lama and other
Vajrayana luminaries.

It appears this author was in Tibetan Buddhism for
thirty years -- no small investment of head, heart,
time and treasure.

Cult of Thought Control, Tibetan Buddhism

Institutionalized Sexual Abuse in Tibetan ‘Buddhism’
November 18, 2014


An earlier contribution on the Crooked Path blog


The author notes how Vajarayana Buddhism is not in any way
an open or democratic society.

In this system, the gurus, rinpoches, tulkus and lamas can do no wrong - they are exalted beyond criticism of any kind.

When trouble is reported, the default is is to stigmatize
and demonize anyone who dares speak up against abuses.

Corboy notes that one mighty difference between Western society
and Tibetan Buddhist society is this:

In classical Athens, freeborn men could participate as citizens
in the Athenian city state. They heard disputes, both legal and
political, and voted as jurors in legal cases and also on
public policy.

This was the context in which political and debate techniques
which created Western thought and political concepts in use

In Athens, it came to be understood that philosophy, with its
quest for absolute truth, had different goals than civic life.

In civic life (law, political policy),action must be taken, yet
it is impossible to reach an absolute definition of terms,
and it is impossible to absolute knowledge. Actions must
be taken, often quickly and in crisis situations -- such
as whether a political figurehead is behaving as a dictator and
needs to be demoted or exiled.

In law and politics, the Athenians recognized that one does enjoy
absolute knowledge, one has to act on probabilities. One obtains
evidence from a variety of sources and weighs that evidence.

But in old Tibet, there were no citizens, just serfs. Religion
was not separated from politics power, foreign policy.

It was made to seem that one had no right to pass judgement on
any an authority figure who gained authority because he
had allegedly attained 'un conditioned awareness'.

That only one who had also attained the same 'unconditioned awareness'
had any right to pass judgement.

Yet in the Vajrayana belief system, someone who attained
'unconditioned awareness' was incapable of abusing power!'

Therefore anyone who perceived a powerholder as abusive
was therefore in delusional conditioned awareness.

This kind of system cannot reform itself.


One thing Vajrayanists argue is how ordinary awareness is
partial and gives rise to suffering, giving as an example
a chair. Several persons
gazing at that ochair will give slightly different descriptions.

Which supposely proves the partial, and therefore inferior
status of conditioned awareness compared
with complete unconditioned awareness.

Each person will struggle to give a specific description of
what a chair is.

Yet when told to sit in the chair, all the persons will converge
upon that single chair.

Our conditioned awareness is sufficient to guide each person to
that chair, even though the perceptions differ and descriptions

The Dalai Lama relies on unenlightened persons with conditioned
minds whenever he boards a plane and flies around the world.

If the Dalai Lama trusts unenlightened persons operating the
airlines, why cant the Vajrayana establishment respect the
perceptions of the many seemingly unenlightened persons
who have stepped forward to identify sexual and financial abuses
especially when there is more than one witness and the reports
form a recurring pattern?

Conditioned awareness is enough to run a democracy that too trustfully
gives the tax exemtions that make that deluded democracy so
attractive to these enlightened vajaryanists.

These same democracies, run by persons with conditioned awareness
also sustain currencies with much greater purchasing power than
the Indian and Nepali rupees also making them attractive to the

These same societies, created by persons content with conditioned,
partial knowledge, based on probability, rather than absolute truth
have systems of effective modern medicine, and surgery.

All of which these Vajarayanists gladly utilize when they themselves
grow too ill to benefit from traditional remedies.

To repeat, the achievement of Athens, on which much of our successful
Western democracies rest, was made possible by the discovery
that citizens did not need absolute complete knowledge in order
to weigh evidence and make the decisions needed to run a city state.

Plato, the one who claimed absolute knowledge was needed in order to
qualify as a ruler of a state, was himself an aristocrat. He despised
the citizen democracy of classical Athens.

His concept of the Philosopher King (the Republic) matches well
with that of the Vajrayanist Lama system.

Socrates' insistence that absolute knowledge is needed and perfect
definitions are needed turned out to be an utter nuisance to
Athenian citizens who were traumatized by the rule of the Thirty
Tyrants -- several of whom had been Socrates' own students.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2014 03:04AM by corboy.

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Media Romanticism of Dalai Lama & Vajrayana - Concerns
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 30, 2014 11:32PM

Two articles printed earlier

Stop the lama love-in

He’s adorable, yes, but just what is the Dalai
Lama accomplishing?

Andy Lamey November 25, 2009


The article from Reason dot com is written from
a skeptical, secular minded viewpoint.


This said, I consider that the author has a point. The
elegant, peaceful minded practices modelled by Richard
Gere and other academic and celebrity allies of Tibet
is very different from the straining, struggling
pilgrims prostrating themselves down into the mud

Imagine the difference between Madonna (the singer) wearing
rosary necklaces, dancing in the MTV video Like a Prayer
and the behavior of the pre-Lutheran Catholic church, which
licensed peddlars to sell indulgences promising time off
in purgatory. Little difference from the merit ridden
Pez system of muttering mantras and prostrating oneself
around shrines.


The Truth About Tibetan Buddhism


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/30/2014 11:44PM by corboy.

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Give the Dalai Lama the Same Scrutiny as any Politician
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 01, 2014 12:03AM

Mr. Lamey is writing not in hate, but with the concern
of both a citizen and a journalist.

One interesting suggestion made by Mr. Lamey is that
the spiritual practices utilized by the Dalai Lama
disperse and neutralize exactly those emotions and
states of mind necessary to fight oppression.

Lamey constrasts the Dalai Lama with Nelson Mandela.

The Dalai Lama is not a private person, nor is he
only a spiritual leader.

The Dalai Lama is a monarch in exile and is involved
in politics. And he is not merely a monarch in
exile; he is head of the Gelugpa lingeage and in
that lineage he is considered an incarnation of
the Buddha of Compassion.

The record of the Gelugpa lineage is full of violence.
In Tibet the Gelugpas fought, intrigued and warred
against other sects to gain and then preserve
power in Lhasa - important, because Lhasa sat
on an important trade route.

Yet in the West, the DL is a media darling, with
academics and movie and media stars as his clients.

The Pope of Rome faces much more accountability
than does the Dalai Lama. Yet Popes (and their
bishops) do not go around naming living persons
as saints to be venerated.

One Pope resigned when broken hearted by the number of
scandals reported in the church.

The National Catholic
Reporter, Commonweal, and The Tablet, to name
only a few, write critiques and challenge Vatican
policies. Yet no Pope has ever been part of
a computer company's advertising campaign, and Popes
do name living human persons as saints.

In the bare 45 years that Tibetan Buddhism has been
imported to the West, we have had reports of abuse,
vast sums of money sent to foreign countries with
no accountability, and a current tulku revealing
how he was abused when still a child.

We need some correction to the uncritical adultation
by the media. And this is what Mr Lamey requests.


Stop the lama love-in

He’s adorable, yes, but just what is the Dalai
Lama accomplishing?

Andy Lamey November 25, 2009

Everyone loves the Dalai Lama. Just how much was
> on display two weeks ago when the Tibetan
> religious leader paid a visit to the town of
> Tawang in northeastern India. Ethnic Tibetans
> travelled to the frontier outpost from all over
> the sub-continent in order to venerate the
> 74-year-old monk at a huge outdoor rally. “He is
> our god, he is the living Buddha. A glimpse of the
> Dalai Lama is like getting spiritual power inside
> you,” said one participant in explaining the
> extraordinary adulation the Dalai Lama inspires.

> Here in Canada, our view is not so different. When
> the Dalai Lama travelled to Vancouver, Calgary and
> Montreal last month, tens of thousands crowded
> into stadiums to hear his message of universal
> compassion. The rapturous reception was in keeping
> with our decision in 2006 to grant him
> citizenship, the highest honour Canada bestows on
> foreign leaders. The Dalai Lama’s other admirers
> include the U.S. government, which awarded him the
> Congressional Gold Medal, and the Nobel Peace
> Prize committee. The general feeling of Lama-mania
> was summed up by TV star Sandra Oh, who co-hosted
> one of his Canadian appearances. “He’s a rock
> star! Rock star! Seriously, a rock star!”
> Yet if the Dalai Lama is a rock star, does he live
> up to the hype?

His spiritual teachings contain
> elements of illogic and intolerance that would not
> be accepted from any other religious figure. That
> these go unnoticed is largely due to the way
> Tibetan Buddhism functions as a spiritual
> Rorschach blot onto which Westerners project their
> hopes and desires. The primary problem, however,
> is political. In addition to being a spiritual
> figure, the Dalai Lama is the leader of the Free
> Tibet movement. And when it comes to advancing
> that goal, he has been a resounding failure.
> Uncritical adulation legitimizes the Dalai
> Lama’s failed leadership and undermines one of
> the great political causes of our time.
> It’s not hard to understand the Dalai Lama’s
> appeal. At first glance he holds out the promise
> of religious belief purged of any trace of
> fundamentalism. When it comes to modern science,
> for example, he has said that when it conflicts
> with Buddhist teachings, Buddhism should be
> revised. Other theological statements he has made,
> such as his declaration that “any deed done with
> good motivation is a religious act,” bespeak a
> similarly open-minded temperament.
> But this progressive outlook can sometimes turn
> out to be illusory. Consider the teaching for
> which he may be best known, his doctrine of
> universal compassion. As he has written,
> “non-violence applies not just to human beings,
> but to all sentient beings—any living thing that
> has a mind.” That belief is why, when the Dalai
> Lama was invited to a fundraising luncheon for a
> monastery in Wisconsin in 2007, the organizers
> expected him to ask for a vegetarian meal. Instead
> they watched him happily ingest pheasant and veal.

> “He pretty much lapped up every single plate
> that he had put in front of him,” one tablemate
> later said. “He loves food; he likes good
> food.” The Dalai Lama, it turns out, is
> vegetarian at his official residence in India but
> not while travelling. But a doctrine of compassion
> that switches on and off depending on geography is
> not much of a doctrine at all.
> The Dalai Lama’s position on same-sex
> relationships is equally puzzling. “I look at
> the issue at two levels,” he told the Vancouver
> Sun in 2004. Homosexuality is perfectly acceptable
> for non-believers. And for people who look to the
> Dalai Lama for guidance? “For a Buddhist, the
> same-sex union is engaging in sexual
> misconduct.”

The double-sided approach is rooted
> in a traditional method of explaining
> discrepancies between schools of Buddhism, whereby
> the Buddha is said to have taught different things
> to different people.

(Jesus called this choking on a gnat while swallowing
a camel - Corboy)

But as with the doctrine of
> compassion, the Dalai Lama’s considered view
> ends up being a sloppy relativist mess. Or at
> least it does in the West, where he is obliged to
> state his view regarding non-Buddhists. When
> addressing Buddhists directly the Dalai Lama’s
> position is less complicated—and more crudely
> prejudicial.
> This side of the Dalai Lama’s spiritual
> teachings is never subject to criticism. Why? One
> possibility is that the Dalai Lama solves a
> specifically Western problem. In the 19th century
> the shared religious values that once permeated
> our civilization began a “long withdrawing
> roar,” as Matthew Arnold put it. Any religion
> one adopts now is merely one possibility among
> many, a reality that drains each of its
> explanatory value and force. An infatuation with
> the Dalai Lama is the Goldilocks solution for a
> culture that finds traditional religion too hot
> and atheism too cold. His exoticism marks him as
> authentic, and subjecting his teachings to
> critical scrutiny is beside the point, as there is
> never any chance we are going to engage his
> teachings seriously enough to be challenged by
> them. We instead want to bask in his distant
> spiritual glow.
> The Dalai Lama’s appeal is arguably closely
> entwined with the peculiar fascination the West
> has long exhibited for all things Tibetan. When
> Europeans discovered Tibet, it was a remote
> kingdom that had never been colonized and still
> seemed to exist in the ancient past. It quickly
> became a land of fantasy. Shangri-La, the mystical
> Tibetan paradise, was first depicted in the 1933
> novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. In the late
> 1930s the Nazis sent an expedition to Tibet,
> hoping to find an ancient race of Aryans. After
> the devastation of the Second World War, European
> intellectuals imagined Tibet as “an unarmed
> society.”

As Buddhist scholar Donald Lopez
> notes, these myths have a common source. In each
> case, “the West perceives some lack within
> itself and fantasizes that the answer, through a
> process of projection, is to be found somewhere in
> the East.”
> This process continued after China invaded Tibet
> in 1959, and many Tibetans were driven into exile.
> When the Beatles recorded Tomorrow Never Knows,
> John Lennon wanted his voice to sound like “the
> Dalai Lama on the mountain top.”

Remember the
> cuddly and eco-friendly Ewoks in Return of the
> Jedi? The language they spoke was modified
> Tibetan. Today Tibet is embraced by celebrities
> ranging from the Beastie Boys to action hero
> Steven Seagal. “The Dalai Lama gave me a
> spiritual blessing that would not have been given
> to anyone who was not special,” Seagal announced
> in 1996. “I don’t think he has given such a
> blessing to another white person.”

> Just how special Seagal is became clear in 1997
> when Tibetan religious authority Penor Rinpoche
> declared him to be the reincarnation of a
> 17th-century lama. However ridiculous it may seem
> to imagine the star of Exit Wounds and Pistol
> Whipped as a holy being, Seagal’s anointment
> symbolizes the transformation Tibetan Buddhism has
> undergone as it has come in contact with new
> patrons and admirers in the West.

Rather than
> something “out there,” Tibetan culture is
> influenced by how Westerners engage with it.
> Unfortunately, on a political level, that
> influence has been highly negative. Seeing how
> requires understanding the different and at times
> conflicting roles the Dalai Lama now plays in
> addition to being the spiritual head of Tibetan
> Buddhism. Nowhere is this more true than in regard
> to his position as leader of the Tibetan
> government in exile, and the Free Tibet movement
> more broadly.
> Since China invaded Tibet it has engaged in a
> campaign of ruthless repression. It is official
> government policy to “end the nomadic way of
> life” of traditional Tibetans and to forcibly
> resettle them. Tibetans who protest are subject to
> show trials and torture. Opposing China’s
> actions has rightly been characterized as a moral
> struggle on the scale of the movement against
> apartheid or for Indian independence.

> Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama is the equal of
> neither Nelson Mandela nor Gandhi. He is as
> miscast as the head of Tibet liberation as the
> pope would have been leading the struggle against
> Hitler. Under his leadership political goals have
> inevitably taken a back seat to spiritual ones.
> A comparison to South Africa is instructive. One
> of the most inspiring moments in the struggle
> against apartheid came during the famous Rivonia
> trial when Nelson Mandela, faced with a possible
> death sentence, spoke from the prisoner’s dock.
> Freedom, he said, was “an ideal which I hope to
> live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an
> ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

> Mandela’s speech galvanized the anti-apartheid
> movement. The Dalai Lama’s pronouncements, by
> contrast, could not be less defiant. “I practise
> certain mental exercises which promote love toward
> all sentient beings, including especially my
> so-called enemies.” Mandela endorsed an
> international boycott of South African athletes.
> When China hosted the 2008 Olympics, the Dalai
> Lama sent Beijing his regards. “I send my
> prayers and good wishes for the success of the
> event.”

If the Dalai Lama had led the struggle
> in South Africa, apartheid would still be in
> effect. Unsurprisingly, 50 years after the
> occupation, Tibet is still not free.
> At times it seems that is what Western
> Tibetophiles would unknowingly prefer. In the
> words of actor Richard Gere, a long-time advocate
> of Tibetan independence, “Many of us constantly
> remind our Tibetan friends, ‘You must maintain
> that sense of uniqueness and that genuine cultural
> commitment to non-violence. If you pick up arms
> and become like the Palestinians, you’ll lose
> your special status.’”
> Leave aside the fact that the moral case for armed
> resistance in Tibet is as strong as it was in
> France under German occupation. There are many
> steps an independence movement can take that fall
> short of violence, measures such as strikes or
> boycotts. The Dalai Lama has thrown himself into
> none of these, which are all at odds with loving
> one’s enemy. This approach is reinforced by his
> Western admirers, who are drawn to the myth of
> Tibet as an unarmed society (even though Tibet has
> fought armies from Mongolia, Nepal and Britain).
> The overall effect of his staunchest Western fans
> therefore has been to reward and perpetuate an
> approach to Tibetan independence that has no hope
> of ever succeeding.
> To be fair, his Holiness has begun to admit as
> much. “I have to accept failure; things are not
> improving in Tibet,” he said last November,
> acknowledging the “death sentence” Tibetans
> continue to face under Chinese rule. His
> supporters stress the awareness he brings to the
> Tibetan cause and the anger Chinese officials
> express whenever the Dalai Lama receives an
> audience with a Western leader. But after a
> certain point, awareness has to give way to
> action.
> Slowly, another political faction is taking form.
> As one young Tibetan who has spent his entire life
> in exile in India said in March, “We do not get
> anything from China. So some young people want to
> go to a little bit of violence—not to kill
> anyone but to do something so that China knows
> they will actively .” Such a view is in keeping
> with the position of the Tibetan Youth Congress,
> which stands for “the total independence of
> Tibet even at the cost of one’s life.” If
> progress is to ever be made on Tibet, these
> approaches need to be taken seriously. But that
> can only happen if the Dalai Lama steps aside as a
> political leader, and lets a new generation take
> over.
> First, however, public perception of the Dalai
> Lama needs to change. As it stands, when people
> turn their attention to him, they do so in the
> spirit of answering John Lennon’s call to
> “turn off your mind, relax, and float
> downstream.” The outcome of this lazy attitude
> is to reinforce the Dalai Lama’s leadership and
> his counterproductive efforts to free his people.
> The basic problem was summed up by the Dalai Lama
> himself when he stated, “I find no contradiction
> at all between politics and religion.” So long
> as the Dalai Lama is regarded as a figure of both
> spiritual and political liberation, his efforts to
> make the first goal happen will ensure the second
> never does.

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Cafeteria Vajrayana:Celebrities Do Not Prostrate in the Dust
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 01, 2014 12:16AM

(Quoted from below)

" is striking how much the backward elements of
Tibetan Buddhism are forgiven or glossed over by its hippyish,
celebrity,and middle-class followers over here.

"So if you're a Catholic in Hollywood
it is immediately assumed you're a grumpy old git with
demented views, but if you're a "Tibetan" Buddhist you
are looked upon as a super-cool, enlightened creature of
good manners and taste."

The article from Reason dot com


This is Google's cache of []

The Truth About Tibetan Buddhism

There's more to this ancient religion than Hollywood celebrities would have
you believe
Brendan O'Neill | July 28, 2010

Many Westerners before me have visited Tibet, popped into some monastery on
a mountainside, and decided to stay there forever, won over by the brutally
frugal existence eked out by Tibetan Buddhists.

I have exactly the opposite reaction. I couldn't wait to leave the temples
and monasteries I visited during my recent sojourn to Shangri-La, with their
garish statues of dancing demons, fat golden Buddhas surrounded by wads of
cash, walls and ceilings painted in super-lavish colours, and such a stench
of incense that it's like being in a hippy student's dorm room.

I know I'm not supposed to say this, but Tibetan Buddhism really freaked me
The most striking thing is how different real Tibetan Buddhism is from the
re-branded, part-time version imported over here by the Dalai Lama's army of

Listening to Richard Gere, the first incarnation of the Hollywood Lama, you
could be forgiven for thinking that Tibetan Buddhism involves sitting in the
lotus position for 20 hours a day and thinking Bambi-style thoughts. Tibetan
Buddhism has a "resonance and a sense of mystery," says Gere, through which
you can find "beingness" (whatever that means).

Watching Jennifer Aniston's character Rachel read a collection of the Dalai
Lama's teachings in Central Perk on Friends a few years ago, you might also
think that Tibetan Buddhism is something you can ingest while sipping on a
skinny-milk, no-cream, hazelnut latte.

Or consider the answer given by one of Frank J. Korom's students at Boston
University when he asked her why she was wearing a Tibetan Buddhist
necklace. "It keeps me healthy and happy," she said, reducing Tibetan
Buddhism, as so many Dalai Lama-loving undergrads do, to the religious
equivalent of knocking back a vitamin pill.
The reality couldn't be more different. The first devout Buddhists I
encountered looked neither healthy nor happy. They were walking from their
villages in southern Tibet to Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibetan Buddhism's
holiest site, and the journey had taken them nearly three months. Which isn't
surprising considering that with every third or fourth step they took, they
got down on their knees and then fully prostrated themselves on the ground,
lying flat on their bellies and burying their faces in the dirt, before
getting back up, taking a few more steps, and doing the painful prostration
thing again.

It looked life-zappingly exhausting. They moved at a snail's pace. Their
foreheads were stained grey from such frequent, unforgiving contact with the
bruising earth. They wore wooden planks on their hands, which made a deathly
clatter every time they hurled themselves downwards. I'd like to see
Jennifer Aniston try this. Tibetan Buddhism sans latte.

You soon realize that no Tibetan Buddhist sits cross-legged on cushions all
day long while staring into space and thinking about the universe. No,
worshipping Buddha is a full-on physical workout. At the Lamaling Temple on
a hillside in Nyingchi County in south-east Tibet, I saw women in their 50s
doing the prostration thing, like an archaic version of a Jane Fonda

The temple itself is packed with weird statues. Red demons with contorted
faces. Smug-looking Buddhas smiling patronizingly at the poor, exhausted
worshippers. There's a statue of the "Living Buddha" (now deceased) who
administered this temple in the 1950s and 60s and it is wearing sunglasses.
Terrifyingly, it looks like a cross between the Buddha and Bono.

The Lamaling Temple, like others I visited, is painted in the most obscene
colors. No inch of wall or centimeter of roof beam has been left untouched
by the possibly colorblind decorators of Tibetan Buddhism's sites of
worship. Everywhere you look there's a lashing of red or green or bright
blue paint, a weirdly fitting backdrop to the frequently violent imagery of
this religion: the statues of sword-wielding demons, the fiery paintings,
the images of androgynous Buddhas, some with breasts, others with balls.
"Peace" and "calm" are the last words that come to mind when you're inside
one of these senses-assaulting places.

The Lamaling Temple also brings home the fact that Tibetan Buddhism, like
every other religion on Earth, is made up of various, sometimes horn-locking
sects.??I excitedly lined up an interview with one of the monks and asked if
he's looking forward to the day when the Dalai Lama returns from exile in
northern India. He patiently told me-dumb Westerner that I am-that he doesn't
worship the Dalai Lama, because he is a member of the Nyingma school of
Tibetan Buddhism while the Dalai Lama is head of the Gelug school. Then
there's the Kagyu school and the Sakya school-making four in total-which
have hot-headed disagreements and have even come to blows in recent years
over which deities should be worshipped and which should not. Religion of
peace? Yeah, right.

Tibetan Buddhism has a whole lotta hang-ups about gays and girls, too. It
says gay sex is "unnatural." The Dalai Lama declared in a talk in Seattle in
1993, during one of his whistle stop, U2-style world tours, that "nature
arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable.
same-sex organs cannot manage well." (Someone needs to explain to His
Holiness how gay people get it on.)

And as Bernard Faure of Columbia University says: "Like most clerical
discourses, Buddhism is relentlessly misogynist." So while Tibetan women
can become nuns, they can't advance nearly as far as men. Because according
to Buddhist teachings it is impossible for women to become "the perfectly
rightfully Enlightened One," "the Universal Monarch," "the King of Gods,"
"the King of Death," or "Brahmaa"-the five highest, holiest positions in

Of course, this only means that Tibetan Buddhism is the same as loads of
other religions. Yet it is striking how much the backward elements of
Tibetan Buddhism are forgiven or glossed over by its hippyish, celebrity,
and middle-class followers over here. So if you're a Catholic in Hollywood
it is immediately assumed you're a grumpy old git with demented views, but
if you're a "Tibetan" Buddhist you are looked upon as a super-cool,
enlightened creature of good manners and taste. (Admittedly, Mel Gibson
doesn't help in this regard.)

I am well aware of the fact that I am not the first Westerner to be thrown
by Tibet's religious quirkiness. A snobby British visitor in 1895 denounced
Tibetan Buddhism as "deep-rooted devil-worship and sorcery." It's no such
thing. But what is striking, and what caused me to be so startled by the
weirdness, is the way in which this religion has come to be viewed in
Western New Age circles as a peaceful, pure, happy-clappy cult of
softly-smiling, Buddha-like beings. Again, it's no such thing. The modern
view of Tibetan Buddhism as wondrous is at least as patronizingly reductive
as the older view of Tibetan Buddhism as devil-worship.

Frank J. Korom describes it as "New Age orientalism," where Westerners in
search of some cheap and easy purpose in their empty lives "appropriate
Tibet and portions of its religious culture for their own purposes." They
treat a very old, complex religion as a kind of buffet of ideas that they
can pick morsels from, jettisoning the stranger, more demanding stuff-like
the dancing demons and the prostration workout-but picking up the shiny
things, like the sacred necklaces and bracelets and the BS about

It is all about them. They have bent and warped a religion to suit their own
needs. As the Tibetan lama Dagyab Kyabgon Rinpoche puts it, "The concept of
'Tibet' becomes a symbol for all those qualities that Westerners feel
lacking: joie de vivre, harmony, warmth and spirituality. Tibet thus becomes
a utopia, and Tibetans become noble savages." Western losers have ransacked
Tibetan Buddhism in search of the holy grail of self-meaning.

URL for article by Bernard Faure on misogyny in clerical Buddhism

The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender. Bernard FaureLike most clerical discourses, Buddhism is indeed relentlessly misogynist, but as
far as misogynist discourses go, it is one of the most flexible and open to ... - 67k - Cached - Similar pages

Frank J Korom "Old Age Tibet in New Age America"


Constructing Tibetan culture: contemporary perspectives ... Frank J. Korom.
World Heritage Press, 1997 - Tibet Autonomous Region (China) - 230 pages

Frank J. Korom Department of Religion Boston University 145 Bay ...Frank J. Korom: Curriculum Vitae. Frank J. Korom Department of Religion Boston University 145 Bay ...Frank J. Korom: Curriculum Vitae. Constructing Tibetan Culture: .... “Old Age Tibet
in New Age America,” in F. J. Korom (ed.) Constructing Tibetan Culture: ... - - Cached - Similar pages
: .... “Old Age Tibet
in New Age America,” in F. J. Korom (ed.) Constructing Tibetan Culture: ... - - Cached - Similar pages

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Richard Gere, Steven Seagal and Hollywood made the DL
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 01, 2014 10:55PM

(Corboy note: to think about Tibet as if it were a real place --THAT
is genuine Buddhist practice. Romanticizing the Tibetan people and
idealizing the lamas is to intoxicate one's mind with illusions. Its
the intellectual equivalent of doing drugs)


The “Real” Tibet

It’s fair to say that the goal of articles in Foreign Policy magazine is to clarify, to elucidate, to let the light of rationality shine upon some murky issue in the field of foreign policy. This being the case, I was intrigued by the recent article “Tibet is no Shangri-La,” which has no penetrating vision or fresh policy prescription; instead, it simply asks us to think about Tibet as if it were a real place.

URL for 'Tibet is No Shangri-La' -- FOreign Policy magazine.


The essay opens by taking Westerners to task for creating hopelessly nostalgic “new Orientalist” representations of Tibet and glorifying the famous Dali Lama. It then points out not only that Tibetans aren’t all orange clad Buddhist monks, but also that some Tibetans seek to profit from the Western image of “Tibetan-ness” by creating old-timey Tibet theme tourist traps. The essay also notes that folks who consider themselves ethnic Tibetans in fact hail from various locales in the vast expanse of western China, and that, while they tend to be practicing Buddhists, they’re not necessarily pulsating with noble religious fervor 24-7. (Nor are they, as the Chinese media would have you believe, separatist terror mongers.) Instead, they have fairly reasonable grievances against the Han settlers and the Chinese government, which quite clearly discriminates against them. To the degree that there’s a point, it is that Tibetans inhabit reality, not some colorful metaphysical realm.

I would like to take add a couple points about how we formed this image of Tibet in the first place: when the Dalai Lama and his followers escaped Tibet in 1959, they got a few inches of print in Western newspapers — but that was it. The US was ambivalent; the CIA secretly provided weapons and funding to Tibetan guerrillas during the 50s and 60s, but the Dalai Lama was consistently refused a US visa and occupied essentially zero space in the American “popular imagination,” if you’ll allow the term. After Chinese rapprochement in ’72, the US was happy with this obscurity. After decades of activism, along with media coverage of demonstrations in Lhasa in 1987 and 89, Tibet still wasn’t the cause celebre that we know today. It was only in the early 90s, when Richard Gere and others (most notably Steven Segal) became interested in Tibetan Buddhism, that Joe Sixpack saw these sad images of Himalayan tranquility. What I mean to say is this: it wasn’t just traditional “Orientalism” that made us suddenly feel sentimental about Tibet — it was a sustained and expensive PR campaign orchestrated by Hollywood insiders who happened to be enthusiastic about Buddhism. In this way, the DL was annointed as as a public figure (in the West) and began to receive his controversial White House invites.

On a related note, I once read a pretty neat article about how Tibet activists try to constantly manage and negotiate the image of the Dalai Lama. In particular, some of them are angry that “culture” and Buddhism are the main elements of Tibet discourse in the West, and hope instead to re-brand the DL as a political leader — which, from their perspective, he obviously is.

In sum, I enjoyed this FP essay, but I think it should have talked about how the prevalent image of Tibet is actually a commodity. The article seeks to challenge false images of Tibet, but it doesn’t talk about how those images were amplified and perpetuated by a massive PR campaign. (Meanwhile the Chinese are waging an equal and opposite PR campaign, but that’s another story.)

Corboy Note: Perhaps another contributing factor to the surge in the DL's
fame was the Apple advertising campaign, 'Think Different' which
spread the meme of the DLs Santa Claus smile.

Those ads were everywhere. Ubiquitious. Billboards, subway stations, etc.

That is how imagination is colonized by illusion.

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