Self-delusion: a proof of concept

Why is Geshe Michael Roach marketing a method which he abandoned more than 10 years ago?

In 2005, when Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally were still married and eating off the same plate, he presented a proof of concept of how his “karmic management” method could be applied to solve everyday relationship issues. In a series of talks titled “Spiritual Partners: the Goddess Code,” Geshe Michael spoke of his daily predicament at breakfast time: he wanted plain Cheerios but she loved adding strawberries to the cereal and because they ate from the same bowl, he had quite a first-world problem. How did he plant karmic seeds so that “the net result is that everyone is happy”? The talk’s transcript reveals that his method didn’t end with a win-win situation. A careful reading instead shows that his method hadn’t worked and he abandoned it for a new tactic:

GMR: … You must pay attention to other people’s needs, it’s the only way to get there [what you want], okay. It’s the only way. And I’ve heard that over and over and over, over in my life and then one day it just hit me, I said, I get it. I have to pay attention to other people. She wants to have strawberries on her Cheerios, it’s a corruption of Cheerios [laughter], I mean Cheerios stand by themselves. They are really tasty, they are great. We carried boxes to Europe. We have a special suitcase carried by somebody, of Cheerios just in case they didn’t have any. Then she wants to put strawberries on them, like ruin them, you know. But I am happy to do that, why? Cos I want Cheerios without strawberries. So I put them on them [strawberries on Cheerios] for her. And I have to eat them, you see, with the strawberries on them, why? Cos I don’t like the strawberries on them. The only way to get the strawberries off is to, the only way to get my Cheerios the way I like my Cheerios is what? I must give her the Cheerios she likes. I must put the strawberries on them, you see. It just hit me one day. It just hit me one day. I get it. Suddenly I got it, you know, it’s not noble. It’s not moral. It’s not religious. It’s the only way I can get the Cheerios I want, you see. And then the net result is that everyone is happy, you know. I am counting all the bowls of Cheerios I am getting later without strawberries and she’s enjoying the Cheerios with strawberries. So both of us are … net double happiness, you see. You cannot have what you want unless you go through other people.
And Jesus … that he kept saying it. We heard it over and over. But it works, it’s really cool.
So just go out there and do what other people want and the thing that you want will just flood into you. Your cup overflows. I checked in the Bible… He says that when he is talking about this. Your Cheerios will overflow. [laughter]. Your cup will overflow, he says. You will get double, triple, ten times, he is talking … Jesus talks about, he says, sevenfold, tenfold, fiftyfold in return, you get back. And it’s really true and it just dawn on me after thirty years of studying, you know. It really works, it really, really works. Pay attention to what other people need in your relationship. Pay attention to what other couples need, serve them, help them, concentrate on them. Everything you want will flood back to you. It’s so cool and it works. Okay. All right.

CM: Now, how can I go home and put… strawberries on the Cheerios after this? Don’t you think that’s a little bit manipulative? [laughter] Like if you are going to say anything about the strawberries for years [laughter] and then suddenly in the middle of the talk full of, how many people are here, like two, three, four hundred people, [laughs] [laughter] …

GMR: I told you it works.

CM: It worked. I will be working on getting the strawberries back for the next couple of years. [laughs] [laughter]. I will feed him bowls of cereals by themselves

Perhaps only the self-deluded would think that his karmic management worked because it clearly hadn’t: seven years into their secret marriage, Geshe Michael still failed to get rid of the strawberries and decided to try a different approach; but rather than communicating his preference to his wife in private, he guilted her in front of hundreds of students. This tactic which McNally considered manipulative immediately got him his wish. If she went through with her promise, she in turn would not get to eat the way she wanted, and he would start getting served strawberry-free Cheerios for four glorious years — until their “spiritual partnership” ended in 2009; the marriage dissolved in 2010.

It is regrettable that Geshe Michael, who claimed to be an Arya Bodhisattva, is so mistaken about basic teachings on karma. Although he claimed that McNally was a tantric Buddha, it’s obvious that she couldn’t read his mind in all those years. Given that the “holy” couple had vowed to always stay within 15 feet of each other, it is not clear why they parted; perhaps the seeds of their undoing were planted in their shared bowl of Cheerios.

Ten years later, Geshe Michael still insists that his karmic management method is a win-win solution:

Now we are giving you the secret to taking control of the process so that you can have anything you want — and in this system, everybody wins.3/2015

We are recommending that you use the only approach that offers 100% guarantee of working to solve problems and achieve goals — to understand the seeds that will bring the result, and then systematically plant them.” 4/2015

Let’s stop doing things that don’t work. Let’s focus our time and energy on the one thing that works 100% of the time. In this system, our chance of success is: 100%.” 5/2015

Note: Doctrinal explanations for the failure of his karmic management are presented in:
1) “Coffee meditation” and the 4-step method Can his method possibly work?
2) “Play the odds”: selfless or self-serving? How is his method of giving different from teachings by Buddhist masters?

Related post: Blatant dishonesty, blind devotion, and breathtaking delusions How successful are Geshe Michael and his top students?

Editor’s note: We challenge the Diamond Cutter Institute to not delete the above quotes from their Facebook page. Geshe Michael’s organizations frequently remove videos and other content that have been questioned on this blog. Geshe Michael’s and Christie McNally’s lectures on “Spiritual Partners” have been removed from his main teaching site If what Geshe Michael teaches is timeless wisdom, why was the removal necessary?



  1. Steve Gooch

    I would like some advice please. I have just finished reading The Diamond Cutter and was impressed by much of it. I am sitting here researching a little and looking at stuff on The Diamond Cutter website, and have just come across your blog and this article.

    I have a strong interest in Buddhism but am not even close to understanding much of the philosophy, but The Diamond Cutter seemed to speak to me.

    In your opinion, would I be wasting my time in attempting to put into practice the principles outlined in the book? There are many excellent examples of different kinds of success and fulfillment at the end of it, and these, in particular, inspired me. Is this all one big scam? I am confused by it all now and horrified at what I am reading here on this blog about the authors.

    Many thanks for your kind consideration.

    Steve Gooch

    • mrf

      Dear Steve, please read through the 10 cases in the “Fact check” article, the answer should be clear. It’s a good idea to practice kindness and generosity regardless of whether good things will come to you in this life or another life. The forums listed on the Resources page are helpful, /r/buddhism is a good starting point to address most of your questions.


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