When you achieve the path of seeing, when you see emptiness directly, I think a minor realization is that you could control the elements. And it happened that my lama asked me to turn a brick into gold, just after that. And it was a funny statement, because I knew that if I trained further I could do it. You know what I mean? But I couldn’t do it then. He just said that right after the experience. He pointed to a brick and said that, and so I understand that it can be done, and I see how it could be done, but I’m not at that level, and I can’t do those kinds of things.
As of 2003, despite almost three decades of further training, Geshe Michael still failed the challenge, even with three years spent in retreat. Nevertheless, near the end of the retreat (2000-2003), Geshe Michael wrote to highly respected lamas a letter seemingly to request a few endorsing words for his upcoming Tibetan Book of Yoga, but actually to inform them of his spiritual attainment back in 1975 and thus to seek their support for his practicing sexual yoga while still in monk’s robes. For the well-qualified and thoroughly-prepared, the esoteric and highly-advanced practice is said to be capable of bringing full enlightenment in this lifetime; but in the Dalai Lama’s monastic tradition, a monk is celibate, and unless he could demonstrate extraordinary attainment, he would need to return monastic vows to take up the practice as a lay yogi.
A few lamas replied with endorsing statements for the book as had been requested, but their endorsements were left out when the book was published. The lamas who had lived in the West were alarmed and disapproving. His root lama, usually addressed as Khen Rinpoche (“the Abbot”), declined to write any endorsement; as did the Dalai Lama who has written forewords for many books by various authors. According to Geshe Michael’s former student Matthew Remski: “His Holiness was said to have dropped his tea cup when he heard the news [of Geshe Michael’s sexual yoga practice].” Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who had met Christie McNally but was unaware of Geshe Michael’s secret marriage to her, wrote a few prayers for the book and:
1) expressed concerns about Geshe Michael’s practice of sexual yoga: “If your conduct will be the way you explained in the letter, then it will not be normal from the monasteries point of view…”
2) suggested Geshe Michael to support his claim of attainment: “one should be able to perform miracle powers, show control or freedom like Milarepa or like any of those yogis such as Dukpa Kunleg…”
3) hinted at a mythic control over the genital organ for a monk to engage in sexual yoga: “it is not just an ordinary miracle that is needed, one needs to do a special kind of miracle, for example the 6th Dalai Lama pee-ed from the top of the Potala [palace] and just before the urine hit the ground he drew it back again inside his vajra [male organ]. Also there is the story of the previous incarnation of Gonsar Rinpoche, he pulled in mud through his vajra.”
Geshe Michael failed to step up to the challenge, and was no longer welcome to teach at Lama Zopa’s FPMT centers. It is unclear why his “karmic management” failed to earn him approvals from lineage lamas.
Three years later, in 2006, Geshe Michael restated his qualifications in email exchanges with the Office of the Dalai Lama, but the Office replied twice expressing concerns over his “observation of the Vinaya [monastic] vows” and his claim of realization: “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 Buddhis[m] be able to believe and accept your claims.” Geshe Michael again failed to step up, and was no longer welcome in the town of Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama lives. In addition to not welcoming his presence, the Office also refused $2000 which was Geshe Michael’s idea of a birthday gift to the Dalai Lama. It is unclear why his seed planting failed to work on the Dalai Lama and his officials. Continue reading
- Letters from the Office of the Dalai Lama 2006
Letters to Geshe Michael Roach from the Office of the Dalai Lama requesting him not to visit Dharamsala due to his errant behavior. Published with permission of the author.
- Letter to Geshe Michael 7/2003
An open letter to Geshe Michael Roach explaining the decision to remove Geshe Michael’s teachings from Lam Rim Radio (lamrim.com). Published with permission of the author.
- Letter to Lamas and Lamas’ replies to the Letter (PDF) 2003
Geshe Michael Roach write to his Lamas during the last months of his retreat, on his 50th birthday. with very controversial claims.
- Interview with a Geshe 2003
An interview with Geshe Michael Roach, conducted by T. Monkyi a few days after Geshe Michael’s Easter 2003 three year retreat teachings. Published with permission of the author.
- Tantra in America (PDF) 7/2003
A talk by Geshe Michael Roach prior to his 3 year retreat. This talk is most ironic considering his current behavior.
- Magic of Empty Teachers (PDF) 3/2001
A 2001 talk by Geshe Michael Roach during the Quiet Retreat Teachings reveals some points of interest.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.