Update, 7/2015: The Naked Truth When is it permissible for a monk in the Dalai Lama’s tradition to have a female partner?
Geshe Michael Roach – Tucson Weekly, March 24, 2005
Many people ask us about our relationship, because I’m a monk. … We have a tradition that, after you’ve been trained for enough years, a monk should have a relationship with a special lady… You work together, not like a normal couple, not like most couples. You work for spiritual things.
This is clearly misleading and incorrect!
There is no tradition in any of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism for a monk to go through the monastic system and then take a physical consort without first disrobing, and even then only in the most exceptional and rare circumstances.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama explains (from the Life as a Western Buddhist Nun conference):
“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. We never implement this in actual practice. Unless we have reached a stage where we have completely developed the power to control all our energy and have gained the correct understanding of sunya (emptiness, reality), unless we truly possess all the faculties through which those negative emotions can be transformed into positive energy, we never implement practice with an actual consort. Although we practice all the higher practices, as far as implementation is concerned, we follow Vinaya. We never follow according to Tantrayana. We can’t drink blood!! (everyone laughs). In terms of actual practice, we have to follow the stricter discipline of Vinaya. In ancient India, one of the reasons for the degeneration of the Buddhadharma was the wrong implementation of certain tantric explanations.”
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, in a letter to Geshe Michael Roach (2003) states:
“If your conduct will be the way you explained in the letter then it will not be normal from the monasteries point of view or according to the monasteries point of view.”