As he was going through the divorce, Geshe Michael appeared to be talking about his ex Christie McNally who had taught by his side: “I can’t forgive everybody. Personally, I can’t do it. People hurt me, and I keep it for a long time. There’s a separate word in Tibetan called tshig pa [spite] which means slow burning. I have tshig pa, someone hurt me, I’ve got tshig pa. I don’t say anything, I still get up and give nice talks, and I’m very reasonable in class, and I can sit there and pretend to meditate, everybody thinks I am. But inside I have tshig pa. How can they do this to me? How can they do this to me? I’ll never forgive them.”
Often a divorced couple could manage to be friendly, but Geshe Michael did not appear very magnanimous toward his ex-wife and her new husband Ian Thorson. As McNally disclosed in a letter: “[We were] uninvited to join Geshe Michael and whatever group he had gathered around him. He made it clear that these were his gatherings, and his students, and that we should stay away.”
Although Geshe Michael published a relationship book in 2013, and continues to travel the world to give lectures on how to “plant” and keep a “perfect partner,” he was unable to do so for himself; but he seems to lack the integrity to disclose to his audiences that his method of planting seeds failed to prevent, and perhaps even led to, his divorce and “a huge number of break-ups” among more advanced tantra students. Since Geshe Michael has now declined to endorse his ex-wife and former protégé McNally, it appears that he was mistaken to identify her as “an emanation of the Angel of Diamond.”
Given that “to err is human, to forgive is divine”, forgiveness should have come natural for Geshe Michael who claimed divinity in 2003. His ex-wife, however, seems to no longer have faith in such claim: “I did not realize the intensity of GM’s bitterness toward me. He is a formidable enemy, especially when you do not even realize you have one.”
It is not clear why Geshe Michael’s seed planting yielded a bitter harvest, but rather than feeling tshig pa, he would do well to follow the Dalai Lama’s teaching:
Forgiveness is an essential part of compassionate attitude…. Another truth to keep in mind is that forgiving others has an enormously liberating effect on oneself. When you dwell on the harm someone has done to you, there is an inevitable tendency to become angry and resentful at the thought. Yet clinging to painful memories and harboring ill will do nothing to rectify the wrong committed and will have no positive effect on you…. If, on the other hand, you are able to overcome your feelings of hostility toward wrongdoers and forgive them, there is an immediate and perceptible benefit to you. By leaving past actions in the past and restoring your concern for the well-being of those who have done you wrong, you gain a tremendous feeling of inner confidence and freedom, which allows you to move on as your negative thoughts and emotions tend to dissipate.
In addition to holding a grudge, Geshe Michael readily admitted to harboring jealousy toward Dharma teachers. Such ignoble characteristics seem unbefitting an Arya whom Geshe Michael claimed to have become since he was 22 years old. He explained the term to mean a highly-evolved noble being: “Arya means you are a different level of evolution. You are a whole different level of evolution. You are as different from a normal human being as a normal human being is different from an ant, okay?”
Given that jealousy (irshya) is one of the five poisons, Geshe Michael would be well advised to meditate on Amoghasiddhi Buddha to conquer it. Given that truthfulness (sacca) is one of the ten perfections, he is called on to practice it.
'Tshig pa is usually translated as spite (pradasa), and is one of the twenty secondary mental afflictions (unwholesome mental factors). Geshe Michael defined pradasa as “malice or spite” in his ACI course.
For bodhisattvas who want to be rich in virtue
A person who hurts you is a precious treasure.
Cultivate patience for everyone,
Completely free of irritation or resentment — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.