Problems that may arise from Geshe Michael Roach’s Behavior

Concern for Students

One of the ladies who had been in three year retreat with Geshe Michael Roach have told associates that they sufferred emotional harm due to their relationship with Geshe Michael Roach during the three year retreat.

If Geshe Michael Roach is not the eight level Bodhisattva he claims to be, then the potential for harm to his students is great. If this is indeed the case, then he has committed a total downfall of his vows as a Buddhist monk and the chances of a rebirth in a favorable realm are very very slight. His students, especially the tantric students, are yoked to him and as such the potential for their rebirth in a lower realm is also greatly increased.

Endangering the Existence of Buddhism

Buddhism has evolved in an unbroken lineage from the time of the historical Buddha, who lived in India 2,500 years ago. The teachings and tradition have been handed down from master to master and have remained pure. They have been organized systematically over the years to form a tradition which helps to bring peace of mind and ultimate happiness to it’s practitioners.

In order to keep the the Buddhist lineage unbroken, certain standards and traditions have been kept intact for 2,500 years, and continue to be as relevant today as they were when the Buddha first taught them. Possibly the greatest mainstay of Buddhism is the monastic tradition, and with it certain vows or pledges that monks and nuns undertake to keep purely, for the benefit of their own minds and as an example to those around them. It is said that when there are no longer ordained sangha, then the Buddhist teachings will disappear.

One of the major vows of a monk or nun is to remain celibate, and not have any form of physical relationships with members of the opposite sex. Geshe Michael Roach’s current behavior, which involves a relationship with consort Christie McNally , does not conform with this major vow of a monk.

There are some legitimate practices in the Buddhist teachings which involve taking a consort, or partner of the opposite sex. These are almost exclusively reserved for lay persons, and can only be performed by practitioners of an extreme level of accomplishment. There are very few such practitioners alive. Geshe Michael Roach claims to be one.

” According to our tradition, we are monastics and are celibate, and we practice the Tantrayana simultaneously. But the way of practice is through visualization. For example, we visualize the consort, but we never touch.”
— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

In Buddhism it is taught that the consequences of ones practice and behavior have very real and heavy results in this and future lives. Perhaps the strongest results come from our relationship with our spiritual mentor. If the lama strays from the right path, then their students will also be adversely effected. This is specially the case with Tantric practice, which Geshe Michael Roach is now teaching at Diamond Mountain in Arizona. The relationship with the teacher is said to be like yoking two animals together. If the teacher falls to a bad rebirth, then so does the student.

“As far as my own understanding goes, the two claims — that you are not subject to precepts and you are free — these are the result of incorrect understanding. Even though one’s realization may be higher than the high beings one’s behavior should conform to the human way of life.”
— His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Concern from Within the Buddhist Community

A proportion of the wider Buddhist community feel that Geshe Michael’s current behavior does not conform to the teachings of the Buddha, and can do nothing but damage the quality and public perception of this two thousand year old tradition.

Geshe Michael Roach has been black-listed from teaching in the 140 centres of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT).

So what is all the fuss about? A note to non Buddhists

The Buddhist teachings hold that the the connection with the lama or guru is so strong that there is a very strong possibility that if the Lama is reborn in a lower realm, then their students are likely to also be reborn there. Thus, if ones Lama has gone off the rails and takes rebirth in hell, or as a spirit, then both the lama and student will undergo great suffering in future lives due to this.

The general Buddhist community, including Mahayana tantric practitioners (Particularly followers of Gelugpa, to which Geshe Michael Roach belongs), believe that to have a physical relationship with a member of the opposite sex is breaking the root vows of a monk. This would result in that monks ordination being destroyed.