Diamond Mountain Ordination

We have seen a photograph of you wearing long hair, with a female companion at your side, apparently giving ordination. This would seem to conflict with the rules of Vinaya, and as you know, the Gelug tradition makes a point of upholding these very strictly.
— Chhime R. Chhoekyapa, Joint Secretary, Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama

At a novice ordination ceremony on Monday, January 16, 2006 at Diamond Mountain in Arizona, Geshe Michael Roach broke with normal practice in several ways, which some may find concerning. For the sake of this article, we will assume that Geshe Michael Roach has not committed a root downfall and is thus qualified to give ordination.

The main points of concern are:

  1. Christie McNally (a female layperson) was involved in the ceremony, sitting on the stage throughout, and was the actual one who cut the hair of the two being ordained. One of these was a young man ordaining as a monk, and beginning a life of chastity.
  2. Most serious. As the new monk was being given his vows, Geshe Michael Roach stopped and requested a young female student to come to the platform and kneel next to the monk being ordained. He beckoned her to kneel so close to the monk being ordained that their heads and bodies were touching. The girl and monk are not related in any way, and the girl seemed surprised by the request. She had no idea it was going to happen.

Point 3, above,  was understood by some present as Geshe Michael Roach giving a consort to the newly ordained monk, new to the Dharma whose vows of chastity are fresh. To involve a lady in the ordination of a new monk would seem to be against the concept of ordination. If this was not the giving of a consort, then we invite Geshe Michael Roach to explain why this was done, and we shall publish his reply on this site.

It appeared to me that Geshe Michael Roach was giving a consort to the new monk
— A. Simmons, present at the event.

What did that look like to you? Like he was giving him a consort
— B. Pearson, present at the event.

I can’t think of anything else it would be but offering a consort.
— E. Prather, present at the event.

Post ordination, a party with food and drinks was held in the temple. The newly ordained monk and nun partook freely of these refreshments, ignoring or unaware of their newly made vow not to eat after midday. It is generally understood that newly ordained sangha members should keep all of their vows very purely for as long as possible after their ordination, whilst the vows are still fresh.