The Dalai Lama’s advice on spiritual teachers who abuse their position

Update: “If the spiritual master is following a wrong path, which is contrary to mainline teachings, the student should be able to take a stand and not blindly follow that path.” – The Dalai Lama

Some of Geshe Michael Roach’s questionable teachings have been explored.

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This web site has often been criticized by students of Geshe Michael Roach (but praised by others). The criticism is generally along the lines of ‘You should never criticize another persons Lama. Think of karma and emptiness, your creating the karma to be devoid of Lamas in future lives’

Our answer is usually that we do not feel that this site is a criticism, rather, it is merely putting forward points of fact for people to read and consider. Despite this, we have included some advice by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama regarding the open criticism of spiritual teachers in certain circumstances.

From “Toward A New Spiritual Ethic” by Kate Wheeler
March/April 1994 edition of Nexus

Note: The Dalai Lama’s own words are in bold.

“At a symposium with 22 Western Buddhist teachers, the Dalai Lama had strong words for teachers who abuse their power—and students who give theirs away.”

“A teacher who behaves unethically or asks students to do so can be judged as lacking in ultimate insight, His Holiness said. ‘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.’ No behavior is free from consequences. For this reason, true wisdom always includes compassion, the understanding that all things and beings are interconnected with (and vulnerable to) each other.”

“‘Even though one’s realization may be higher than the high beings,’ His Holiness said, ‘one’s behavior should conform to the human way of life.'”

“When teachers break the precepts, behaving in ways that are clearly damaging to themselves and others, students must face the situation, even though this can be challenging. ‘Criticize openly,’ His Holiness declared. ‘That’s the only way.’ If there is incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing, teachers should be confronted with it. They should be allowed to admit their wrongs, make amends, and undergo a rehabilitation process. If a teacher won’t respond, students should publish the situation in a newspaper, not omitting the teacher’s name,” His Holiness said. “The fact that the teacher may have done many other good things should not keep us silent.”

From “Small ‘cottage cults’ drawing more converts in United States” by Richard Read
Published in the Oregonian, Sunday, July 15, 2001

“The Dalai Lama, the high lama of Tibetan Buddhism, advises potential converts to check a guru’s qualifications carefully and to view a teacher as a spiritual brother or sister. ‘The best thing is,’ the Dalai Lama said in an interview last February, ‘whenever exploitation, sexual abuse or money abuse happen, make them public.'”

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