During the first term of the Tantra Course at Diamond Mountain, Geshe Michael Roach stressed to his students that after they received the Yamantaka initiation from him, they should and must teach tantra and give tantric initiation to others. No mention or instructions were given that without having completed a 100,000 mantra retreat and fire puja for this deity, the students would not be qualified to give initiation and to do so would be breaking a Tantric vow.
Due to this, some of these students have already given Yamantaka initiation to others, thus breaking a Tantric vow and also causing their own students to take initiation from from an unqualified person. It is questionable that the lineage of the initiation would be actually passed on in these cases, which would render many students, and many more to come, in the situation of practicing highest yoga tantra without a valid initiation.
Encouraging Diamond Mountain Students to Break a Tantric Vow
One of the auxiliary tantric vows is: “Improperly engaging in mandala-rites, such as without a retreat.”
“This means that we may confer empowerment on others or perform the self-initiation (bdag-‘jug) to restore our lost or weakened tantric vows only if we have completed the meditation retreat of the appropriate Buddha-figure, repeating the prescribed mantras hundreds of thousands of times, and offered the concluding fire-puja (sbyin-sreg).” – Alex Berzin
Thus, in essence, Geshe Michael Roach has instructed his students to break their tantric vows, as well as giving license for them to become unqualified Vajra Masters to unsuspecting newcomers to Buddhism. There is a real danger to students who take initiation from these unqualified “Vajra Masters”.
“The tantric vows that a disciple takes at an empowerment seal a close bond with the tantric master. Each side needs to be sure that they can trust the other and themselves to uphold the bond and all it entails. A loss of trust and belief easily brings spiritual despair.” – Alex Berzin
It is more than possible that a loss of trust will ensue from a student who finds they have taken tantric vows from an unqualified master, and thus result in broken samaya and suffering to both parties for a long period of time.
If one is considering taking initiation from one of Geshe Michael’s students, or anyone for that matter, one owes it to all parties to check if that person is qualified to give that initiation, as well as if they are qualified to be your tantric Lama.
The Guhyasamaja texts have explained that potential disciples and gurus may need to examine each other’s qualities for up to twelve years. The advice refers specifically to scrutinizing one another before receiving or conferring a highest tantra empowerment.