Category: Geshe Michael Roach

Reality check

California Dreaming: “The Karma Show”

Why does Geshe Michael Roach teach methods that failed to make his own dream come true?

Dreaming of having his own television show, Geshe Michael Roach submitted an online audition video to Oprah Winfrey, the billionaire talk show queen who had launched successful television careers for Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. Out of thousands who auditioned for “Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star,” ten people were selected for the televised competition, and Oprah chose two winners and awarded each a talk show on the OWN network. It is regrettable that Geshe Michael, who wrote a book on "karmic management", couldn’t manage to pass the audition round. Ironically, in the synopsis below the audition video, he wrote:

Hi my name is Geshe Michael. When I was young, my mom got breast cancer and just before she died she put me into a Tibetan monastery. I stayed there for 20 years and became the first American geshe, or Buddhist Master. Nowadays a lot of people come to me with their problems and dreams and I help them figure out what karma they need to get things they want; I helped two women in New York start a billion dollar ad company, I help friends find partners, and how to fix their health problems and stay young and strong. I have an idea to have a Karma Show where people come and say what they’re looking for in life, and we figure out the karma or good thing they need to do for others, to make their dreams come true!

Many of the above claims have been challenged on this blog; and as demonstrated, Geshe Michael failed to even make his own dream come true. Oprah, in contrast, lives and breathes the American Dream: born into poverty to a housemaid mother in rural Mississippi, she has managed to become a self-made multi-billionaire. The following is a partial transcript of Geshe Michael’s 3-minute video pitch to her: Continue reading

Ideas and Invention: Failed Pitch 2.0

Why does Geshe Michael Roach teach methods that didn’t even work for him?

Having failed at pitching to Oprah for a talk show, Geshe Michael Roach made a pitch to speak at the popular TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, which goes by the slogan “Ideas worth spreading.” He stated in his pitch video:

… After some years, I thought I would like to do some kind of project to help Tibetan refugees, and I didn’t know how to raise the money, and then I asked my lamas and they taught me some special principles of karma which I could use to apply in business to help the refugees, so I did start a business which is now earning $250 million in sales a year. I’ve been using that money for 25 years to help the refugees, and I would like to help other NGOs and other charitable organizations to learn these principles that I used to raise money for their projects.

Given that Geshe Michael failed to get selected, it’s questionable whether those “special principles of karma” actually helped make millions for Andin International Inc. — where he was first hired as “an errand boy” by the two Israeli entrepreneurs who founded the company.

It is not clear how Geshe Michael, with degrees from Princeton and Sera Mey, managed to fail while many have given talks at TED, including at least five Buddhists: Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard was invited to speak in 2008, Buddhist author Robert Thurman — who had reminded Geshe Michael to follow monastic rulesspoke in 2007, Buddhist master Ogyen Trinley Dorje spoke in 2010, Zen teacher Joan Halifax spoke in 2011, and meditation teacher Andy Puddicombe spoke in 2013.

According to the pitch, it was Geshe Michael who came up with the idea of helping Tibetan refugees, but at other times he gave different and contradictory accounts:
– It was his root lama Khen Rinpoche who asked him to help the Tibetans and insisted on the diamond business(!); he reluctantly agreed to go to work at Andin in 1981.
– It was multiple lamas who asked him to start a diamond business after he had passed the geshe exam, he reluctantly agreed and started at Andin in 1995.
– It was his idea and he willingly and deliberately chose to work at Andin, not to help the Tibetans, but to be near diamonds and be reminded of the spiritual experience of seeing emptiness (“that’s the only reason that I did it” and “for no other reason”).

It is not clear which version is true or somewhat true, and which an invention.

Editor’s note: Geshe Michael’s pitch was uploaded to his Youtube channel at least 3 years ago, but was removed probably in the past year. Some of his other videos have also disappeared after his statements were challenged on this blog. If his claims were true, why was it necessary to remove the videos? But as Geshe Michael said back in 1994: "Once it’s on the Internet, how can you stop it?" Some of our readers had the foresight to save the videos and have made them available in accordance with fair dealing and fair use principles. An easy way to download videos for safekeeping is to use the site Continue reading

Self-delusion: proof of concept

Why is Geshe Michael Roach teaching the very method that failed to fulfill even his simple wish?

In 2005, when Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally were not yet divorced and still eating off the same plate, he presented a proof of concept of how his “karmic management” could be applied to solve everyday relationship issues. In a talk 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 could he get what he wanted without disregarding her preference? Continue reading

Time after time

Why does Geshe Michael Roach teach methods that failed him time and again?

According to Geshe Michael Roach, his method of “karmic management” could fix health problems and “remove diseases” from gout to cancer. But by his own admission back in 2006, when he and Christie McNally were not yet divorced, the couple just could not fight off repeated cases of Delhi belly:

So we just got back from India. We try to go every year to get recharged and learn new things…. And then every year we say, we are not going to get sick this time, you know. We’re definitely not going to get diarrhoea this time, you know…. So this time, … we took one suitcase full of Cheerios, like eight boxes of Cheerios in this suitcase and then we had our own olives and we had our own coco and we have somebody in India went and set up an ultraviolet water purification system and then we boiled that afterwards it was purified. And we didn’t eat anywhere and we cooked everything ourselves and we boiled everything twice. And then the first day we got diarrhoea.
So all the things which you think would be healthy to eat, right, so you look at a glass of milk, somebody hands you a glass of milk in India. Or they just hand you a glass of water, right, you can’t get a glass of water in India, you can’t get a glass of water which you can drink. So here is this thing, you are looking at it, will this kill me, you see. And I am talking literal, you know. Like we were very sick there and there is nothing you can do, because the penicillin is bad too, you see, I am not kidding, I am not kidding. Maybe somebody in the factory wanted an extra 50 cents, they threw in some rat poison or something, you see. So you look at all the objects in the store, you go in a store and you look around and you say, everything in here, in this store that I could buy to make myself strong and healthy, or just to eat today, any one of them could kill me. And you start to get paranoid, you get really paranoid. You buy these bottles of water, right, very expensive. You buy bottled water, people open it, they pour out the bottled water, they pour in the dirty water. They glue it back shut. And they sell it to the foreigners, you know. So you got this bottle of water and you don’t know. Maybe this bottle of water will kill me, maybe I won’t get back to Tucson, you know. It’s a real thought go through your mind like the fifth week you have diarrhoea, you can’t eat, you can’t … you lose like 20 lbs and you are like, I don’t know if I’ll make it back, you know.”

It is not clear how millions of tourists who visit India every year and tens of thousands of expats who live there manage to be in good health, but not the holy couple — Geshe Michael had proclaimed McNally a goddess and himself an Arya Bodhisattva, but it’s questionable if an Arya would have viewed the local populace with such prejudice and paranoia. Continue reading

An eye for the Divine

Did Geshe Michael Roach receive blessings from the “angels” in his life?

In March 2000, Geshe Michael Roach and four female students went into a three-year retreat in St. David, Arizona. Near the end, Geshe Michael wrote a letter to inform other students that the four women were actually angels — his parlance for Buddhas: “And, I repeat, angel is not a funny guy or girl with two wings and flutters around and tells you the lottery numbers for next week [laughter]. It’s a being, a Buddha, it’s a woman Buddha or a man Buddha, who can appear as a normal person, but they are operating on every planet in the universe at the same time.” The letter had step-by-step instructions on how to request teachings from these angels/Buddhas and was read out loud in class: Continue reading