Category: Dalai Lama’s Office

Awaiting a miracle

Did Geshe Michael and his ex-wife Christie McNally actually walk through walls?

When the young Michael Roach told his root lama Geshe Lobsang Tharchin that he had perceived emptiness directly and thus had become an Arya Bodhisattva (a realized being of supramundane abilities) at age 22, his disbelieving lama asked him to perform a miracle to indicate his attainment. As recounted by Geshe Michael in 2003:

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 1974 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 wrote back, but their endorsing statements were never included 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. So 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, provided a few prayers for the book and in a separate letter he:
   1) expressed concern 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

Documents of Interest Relating to Geshe Michael Roach

  • 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.

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.

Continue reading

Diamond Mountain Puts Spin on Dalai Lama Letters

An update on Geshe Michael Roach’s Asia tour was posted on the Diamond Mountain web site on 13th June 2006.

This update, at best, attempts to gloss over the content of letters sent to Geshe Michael Roach by Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama requesting that he not come to Dharamsala. At worst the posted update could be construed as deliberately attempting to mislead readers in order to shift emphasis away from damaging remarks made in these letters. Continue reading

Geshe Michael Roach’s Students Misled Over Dalai Lama’s Gifts

Note from the new editor, 6/2012: The following transcript (no audio available) can be interpreted in a way different from what was presented on diamond-cutter.org.

“Then, very pleased – I have a surprise guest; okay. Ven. Thubten Chuyang, who is related to Geshe Lothar. And I think you can see the resemblance maybe. And Venerable-la has studied for 25 years at Gyuto Tantric College. And then he’s worked for some time in the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And he felt he would like to come today and express how much it means to him that we’re here.

“And as a gift from His Holiness’s Office, which is — I think it’s sort of his idea, but anyway — to be honest. And His Holiness, I believe, has now, He did a special ceremony to go into a special Yamantaka retreat. And He blessed some vase water. And Ven. Chuyang would like to share it with all of us. (Consults in Tibetan) Before the break, I guess. Ok. And he’ll give each person a spoon. (consults in Tibetan). We’ll get in a line, and you’ll get your hit of Yamantaka. Okay. Heh-heh-heh heh-heh-heh.”

For reference, the original post on diamond-cutter.org is presented below.

Geshe Michael Roach Misleads Students Over Dalai Lama’s Gifts

The Palampur Teachings

After being advised by in writing by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama not to visit Dharamsala “in the greater interest of the purity of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition“, Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally moved their 2006 teachings (June 27 to July 6) to Palampur, about one hour from Dharamsala.

During these teachings, Geshe Michael Roach clearly mislead his audience by falsely claiming that the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has sent them gifts. The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama acted quickly to refute to these claims.

Misleading Statements and Dalai Lama’s Office Reaction to “Irresponsible act”

At the start of the July 3rd teaching, Geshe Michael Roach clearly claimed to all present that Venerable Thubten Chuyang, a guest from Gyuto College had brought gifts for them from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He also claimed that Venerable Thubten Chuyang worked for the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The gifts were said to be blessed water from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Yamantaka retreat, and a thangka from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s own room.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Private Office has reacted (see letter below) to Ven. Thubten Chuyang’s visit with “gifts” to RMR’s Palampur teaching:

“We very much regret the confusion this kind of irresponsible act of an individual that too carried out without our knowledge would have created in people’s mind.”

A transcript of the claims by Geshe Michael Roach

“Then, very pleased – I have a surprise guest; okay. Ven. Thubten Chuyang, who is related to Geshe Lothar. And I think you can see the resemblance maybe. And Venerable-la has studied for 25 years at Gyuto Tantric College. And then he’s worked for some time in the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. And he felt he would like to come today and express how much it means to him that we’re here.

And as a gift from His Holiness’s Office, which is — I think it’s sort of his idea, but anyway — to be honest. And His Holiness, I believe, has now, He did a special ceremony to go into a special Yamantaka retreat. And He blessed some vase water. And Ven. Chuyang would like to share it with all of us. (Consults in Tibetan) Before the break, I guess. Ok. And he’ll give each person a spoon. (consults in Tibetan). We’ll get in a line, and you’ll get your hit of Yamantaka. Okay. Heh-heh-heh heh-heh-heh.”

Listen to the MP3 Audio (3min 30sec, 855kb)

“Gen-hla from Gyuto College (referring to Ven. Thubten Chuyang), he brought a nice thangka. Can you put it up for tomorrow, can you guys put it up tomorrow? But it’s, ah, just by coincidence, it’s Lord Buddha in the middle, and Arya Nagarjuna is debating off to one side and Arya Asanga is debating off to the other side, so you know, the founder of the mind only and the founder of the middle way, so that’s kind of cool — and this thangka, ah, His Holiness used it, it was in His room — and Gen-hla wanted us to have it. OK, Kind of cool, kind of auspicious isn’t it. OK.”

Listen to the MP3 Audio (55sec, 218kb)

The following evening, July 4th, Geshe Michael Roach repeated the claim that Ven. Chuyang was sent from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

“Thursday night happens to be the last night. It happens to be His Holiness’s birthday and it happens to be Vajrayogini Day, Vajrayogini tsog. So, we thought we would have a blowout, you know. And after the class we’ll do the not so secret part of the Vajrayogini ceremony for offering. The monk who came last night from His Holiness’ Office asked if he could come and help do it.”

Geshe Michael Roach’s claims proved false

The following points have since been confirmed in writing by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, proving Geshe Michael Roach’s claims to be a fabrication:

  • The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama did not send these gifts to Geshe Michael Roach, nor send anything else to the teachings.
  • The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was unaware of Venerable Thubten Chuyang attending the teachings.
  • Venerable Thubten Chuyang has never worked at the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
  • The Thangka was either not from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s own room as claimed, or it was removed from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s room without permission, and without the knowledge of His Holiness the Dalai lama’s Office.
  • Venerable Thubten Chuyang, when confronted about the matter by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Office, lied about being present at the teachings. When a photograph was presented as proof, he finally admitted he had been there.

After being publicly shunned by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama over his plans to teach in Dharamsala, Geshe Michael Roach would have benefited greatly in terms of reputation from a gesture of acceptance and blessing from that Office.

Letter of reply from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama

13 July 2006
To: Diamond-Cutter.org
Subject: Thupten Chuyang

Dear (Name withheld by request),

This refers to your email of 8 July along with information about Ven. Thupten Chuyang’s reported visit to Palampur on 3 July where Ven. Michael Roach was teaching, and the gifts that he was supposed to have brought for them from our office.

Immediately we confronted the monk who was supposed to have taken holy water from His Holiness’ Yamantaka retreat and a thangka from His Holiness’s own room as gifts from our office to Geshe Michael Roach at Palampur. The Office of His Holiness did not know that he had been to Palampur let alone sending gifts.

Indeed, he had been there, and it was such a shock and surprise to us. More seriously, he did not admit it until we showed him irrefutable evidence of his having been there. Later he tried to explain by saying he had been there because of family ties with a past Tibetan lama connected with some of the participants at the classes held at Palampur.

Whatever might be the case, we very much regret the confusion this kind of irresponsible act of an individual that too carried out without our knowledge would have created in people’s mind. At the same time, I want to inform you that appropriate action has been taken.

Please also inform others who might have been present at the time in Palampur.

We are seized of the matter, and thank you for your information.

Chhime R. Chhoekyapa
Joint Secretary

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

(Letter published with permission of the author)

It was also discovered, after questioning Venerable Thubten Chuyang on the night of the teachings, that the vase water was not from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Yamantaka retreat, but from a public White Tara initiation given by His Holiness.

Venerable Thubten Chuyang’s connection with Geshe Michael Roach

Venerable Thubten Chuyang is a relative of Geshe Lothar, from Sera Monastery in South India. Geshe Lothar was a nephew of Geshe Michael Roach’s Root Lama, Ken Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tarchin. Geshe Lothar is a respected Geshe at Sera Monastery and there is no reason to believe that there was any involvement between Geshe Lothar and the Palampur teachings.

Venerable Thubten Chuyang was also instrumental in helping arrange the planned teachings in Dharamsala for Geshe Michael Roach, before they moved to Palampur.

Dalai Lama’s Office Refuses Geshe Michael Roach’s Birthday Gift

During the June 27 to July 6 2006 teachings in Palampur, Geshe Michael Roach urged his audience to take part in a collection for a birthday offering to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Office refused to accept the US $2000 which had been collected, when it was offered by a representative of the Geshe Michael Roach group. Geshe Michael Roach then went into damage control mode, with a barely coherent explanation of the refusal. Continue reading

Letters from the Office of the Dalai Lama

Editor’s note, 6/2012: One letter was written by Tenzin Geyche Tethong, the Private Secretary to the Dalai Lama of over 40 years.

In addition to neither accepting Geshe Michael’s explanation nor welcoming his presence, the Office also turned down $2000 which was Geshe Michael’s idea of a birthday present to the Dalai Lama.
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PDF file

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

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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

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Related post: Awaiting a miracle