Dalai Lama’s Office Disapproves of Geshe Michael Roach

Geshe Michael Roach’s planned teachings in Dharamsala

In late 2005, Geshe Michael Roach invited one of his teachers, Geshe Thubten Rinchen from Sera Mey, to give teachings to a group of students in Northern India in July 2006. Geshe Michael Roach was to translate the teachings for his students.

Geshe Thubten Rinchen canceled these teachings in early 2006, citing ill health, and Geshe Michael Roach then decided to give the teachings himself. The venue was changed from the Kulu Valley in Himachal Pradesh, to Dharamsala, the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The teachings were planned to coincide with public teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was scheduled to teach during the day. Geshe Michael Roach therefore planned to teach in the evenings. This, in itself, breaches the traditional etiquette of not teaching in the same place and time as one’s own Lama, without permission.

Although the change of venue to Dharamsala was advertized on the Diamond Mountain web site, the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama were not aware of the planned teachings at this stage.

Finding a Venue in Secret

Geshe Michael Roach, as well as students helping to organize the event in Dharamsala, understanding that the teachings might not be welcome, and thus reverted to stealth in order to book a venue. They sent an otherwise unknown Tibetan woman to offer a large deposit to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) for use of their premises. She informed TIPA that that the teachings may be a little controversial, but did not inform them that Geshe Michael Roach would be teaching with his “consort”. As nobody in the TIPA administration knew of the Geshe Michael Roach controversy, they accepted the deposit.

Dalai Lama’s Office tells Roach he is not welcome in Dharamsala

News of the planned teachings then reached the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who immediately canceled the booking at TIPA.

The following correspondence then took place between the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Geshe Michael Roach:

    1. May 24 2006 – Chhime Rigzin from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to Geshe Michael Roach informing of the cancellation of TIPA as a venue, and requesting him to cancel his teachings in Dharamsala.
    2. May 30, 2006 – Geshe Michael Roach sends a long letter to the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in both Tibetan and English, explaining that his “realisations” qualify him to teach in such a manner and justify his behavior with Christie Mc Nally. The letter was signed Rev. Michael Roach.
    3. June 5, 2006 – Tenzin Geyche Tethong, Personal Secretary to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, replied to Geshe Michael Roach by email informing him that he was not welcome in Dharamsala, either to teach, or to attend the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Diamond-Cutter.org has been forwarded copies of the letters sent to Geshe Michael Roach by the Office of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama. These are presented verbatim below. The letters speak for themselves. They are an unequivocal denouncement of Geshe Michael Roach, signed by the joint secretary of the Office of the His Holiness the Dalai Lam and the personal secretary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

May 24, 2006
To: Rev. Michael Roach <alwaysstay@aol.com>
Subject: Teachings in June

Dear Rev. Michael Roach,

We have recently learnt that you are planning to come to Dharmsala during the June teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama with a large group of Western Buddhists. We also understand that you plan to give separate teachings on the “Essence of Eloquence” to this group in the evenings following His Holiness’s teachings in the afternoons.

On your Diamond Mountain website it is stated “that Geshe Thupten Rinchen is ill. As you may already know, he has tuberculosis in the past, and now he is having a recurrence, which is likely to require surgery. Geshe Thupten Rinchen has strongly encouraged Geshe Michael to conduct these teachings himself. Geshe Michael, knowing how many of you had already made their travel plans, has graciously agreed to do so.”

We have made inquiries about what you have said and find that it is not strictly true, because Geshe Thupten Rinchen did not ask you to give the teachings on his behalf. Moreover, we have become aware that there is an unresolved controversy over your current observation of the Vinaya vows and your keeping company with women. We have received inquiries and letters of concern about your status and conduct from many people.

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.

This unconventional behavior does not accord with His Holiness’s teachings and practice.

Under the circumstances, keeping the greater interest of the purity of Buddhist tradition in mind, we advise you not to come to Dharamsala on this occasion.

Chhime R. Chhoekyapa
Joint Secretary

Cc: Department of Religion and Culture, Dharamsala
Cc: Office of Tibet, New York
Cc: Geshe Thupten Rinchen

Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama
Thekchen Choeling
McLeod Ganj – 176 219
Dharamsala, (H.P.)
INDIA

Ph.: +91 (1892) 221343, 221879, 221210
Fax: +91 (1892) 221813
Email: ohhdl@dalailama.com

June 5, 2006
To: Rev. Michael Roach <alwaysstay@aol.com>
Subject: Dharmsala visit

Dear Rev. Michael Roach,

This is to thank you for your letter of May 30, addressed to Chhime Rigzin-la both in English as well as Tibetan. Chhime-la is presently away with His Holiness and I am responding to your letter on behalf of our Office here.

We have gone through your long explanation but still do not support your coming to Dharmsala. If you have reached the path of seeing, as you claim in your letter, you should then be able show extraordinary powers and perform miracles like the Siddhas of the past. Only then will the followers of Tibetan Buddhists be able to believe and accept your claims.

Otherwise, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the Spiritual and Temporal leader of Tibet having responsibility over the welfare of Tibetan Buddhism many have often complained to Him that He should be strict with those who are not adhering to the general norms of discipline according to our tradition. And your coming to Dharmsala will be seen by many as His Holiness condoning your behavior and practice.

In view of all these we advise you not to visit Dharmsala in the greater interest of the purity of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as clearly indicated in the letter of Chhime Rigzin-la dated May 24, 2006. However, as for the other members of your group those who are interested are welcome to attend the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Tenzin Geyche Tethong
Secretary to H.H. the Dalai Lama

Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama
Thekchen Choeling
McLeod Ganj – 176 219
Dharamsala, (H.P.)
INDIA

Ph.: +91 (1892) 221343, 221879, 221210
Fax: +91 (1892) 221813
Email: ohhdl@dalailama.com

(Letters published with permission of the author)

You can also download a copy of these letters in Adobe Acrobat format.

Diamond Mountain Puts Spin On Dalai Lama’s Disapproval

Diamond Mountain have attempted to diffuse the content of these letters with a misleading statement posted on their web site on June 13th 2006.
Read more about Diamond Mountain’s spin on these letters…

Geshe Michael Roach Teachings Moved to Palampur

Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally respected the wishes of the Office of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama and did not travel to Dharamsala to teach or to attend the teachings of the Dalai Lama.

Instead, they gave their planned teachings in Palampur, about one and a half hours from Dharamsala. The teachings were scheduled for a week after His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings finished. During the teachings, Geshe Michael Roach blatantly mislead those present by falsely claiming that the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has sent gifts of support for the teachings.

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One comment

  1. Deirdre

    Re: “If you have reached the path of seeing, as you claim in your letter, you should then be able show extraordinary powers and perform miracles like the Siddhas of the past. Only then will the followers of Tibetan Buddhists be able to believe and accept your claims.”

    If Tibetan Buddhists generally believe that reaching the path of seeing is automatically accompanied by ability to “show extraordinary powers and perform miracles like the Siddhas of the past”, something is very wrong. Such a view is an utter misunderstanding. On the other hand, as one cannot ‘take out’ the realisation and ‘show’ it to people, people who know nothing about oneself (and maybe nothing about direct seeing into emptiness) might be inspired with confidence on some other basis.

    I have had no dealings with Michael Roach and my comment is extraneous to that topic; however, it is pertinent if people assume that reaching the path of seeing is invariably accompanied by mundane superknowledges. They will let themselves down with such a notion (this may be an understatement), and mislead and bring baseless suffering to others if they teach it.

    Note 1: Someone on the path of seeing is a first-level (arya) bodhisattva.
    Note 2: I would have liked to put a smile at the start of this reply too, to say “Hi! I’m friendly. This isn’t a rant”, but the icon might look like I am trying to tell a joke! (-:

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