The following is an
open letter that I've recently sent to Geshe-La. I hope it serves
to answer some of the questions about my recent decision to remove
Geshe Michael's teachings from Lam Rim Radio. I apologize in advance
for any further confusion or harm it may cause to the minds of
those who read it. Please remember, it is simply my own unenlightened
interpretation of the situation and the actions I am taking as
a result. Love and Peace, Roy (aka "Lobsang")
July 12, 2003
OPEN LETTER TO MY TEACHER
Dearest Geshe Michael –
I hope this letter finds
you healthy and happy.
I wanted to take a few moments
to give you a brief update on what I’ve been up to since we
last met in February 2000 and also to share some of my thoughts on
your recent announcements.
Family and work have consumed
most of my time and unfortunately my meditation practice is currently
non-existent. Not in the ultimate sort of way. More in a conventional,
just plain old, not sitting on the cushion sort of way. I have, however,
been quite productive in helping to spread the Dharma through my
Lam Rim Radio project.
As you may know, it launched
in October of 1999 and except for a few minor power outages when
we turned on too many Christmas lights or ran the dishwasher, washing
machine, and hair dryer at the same time, the Lam Rim “servers” that
grace our house have been faithfully delivering Dharma to the Planet
Earth 24 by 7 ever since. Based on my rough estimates, more than
500,000 hours of Tibetan Buddhist teachings have been downloaded
or broadcast from the site as of this writing. This equals about
30 million listening minutes or if I’m doing my math correctly,
it would be like hearing more than 57 years of teachings without
pause. Looked at another way, if a Geshe were to begin formally teaching
at age 30 and taught for 8 hours per day every day, year after year,
they would be doing this until the very ripe old age of 200. I’m
guessing there’s probably stories of such great Indian or Tibetan
masters but haven’t yet run across them in my studies.
Which brings me to some
recent changes on the site that I wanted to inform you of. In short,
I’ve removed your teachings from the Lam Rim Radio home page.
Since complete removal of the teachings from the site would leave
a number of existing students in a lurch and break a number of website
links throughout the Internet, the content is still there if you
know where to look. It’s quite possible, that I’m going
to become a bit of a pariah in certain circles as a result of these
actions, but I feel it’s the correct thing to do to protect
the minds of new Dharma students who visit the station in growing
numbers every day (500 or more per day and growing).
From a personal perspective,
I also have some major beefs with the way you’ve been acting
since you started this whole retreat. First off, I feel you haven’t
been completely honest about what’s been going on. I was at
Diamond Mountain before the retreat started and helped to build your
floors and put up your yurt – no easy matter, especially considering
there weren’t any instructions. And at no time was there any
mention about you sharing your Yurt with anyone. In fact, I recall
the spot where Christie’s own yurt was being constructed. Nothing
seemed out of the ordinary but with the perspective of time, it now
appears that it may have been done to create a false impression.
Why weren’t you upfront with your plans before the retreat
started? I’m sure I am not alone in wishing I had known more
about what my contributions of time and energy and money were supporting
from the beginning.
Further, when you came out
to give the Quiet Retreat teachings, why did you continue to emphasize
that all the retreatants were alone and in isolation in their yurts
except for the group ceremonies? Okay, so someone on the Diamond
Mountain website explained this away as a perfectly acceptable mode
of speaking for someone practicing complete equanimity, but frankly,
I don’t buy it. Having listened to many hundreds of hours of
your ACI and Diamond Mountain recordings in the course of my Lam
Rim Radio work, I don’t seem to ever recall you equivocating
in your teachings. In fact, throughout the ACI Series you always
seemed to go out of your way to make sure your students clearly and
accurately understood what you were saying even if it meant your
classes ran late.
So now that you’ve “come
out”, I’m further confused by your behavior and outward
appearance. Why would someone wear monk’s robes, long hair,
jewelry, and openly proclaim to be engaged in secret consort practices
with a young woman? To my mind, this certainly doesn’t map
to the strict vow-keeping and morality-teaching Geshe we said goodbye
to in the spring of 2000. I have to say, it certainly doesn’t
have me thinking you’ve seen emptiness or have become enlightened.
In fact, quite the opposite. Perhaps you’ve gone crazy, or
have become possessed by some evil Mara trying to knock the first
American Geshe (and Tibetan Buddhism in the west) off a successful
trajectory, or perhaps you’ve simply fallen in love and things
are a little confusing for you right now as well.
And then it struck me. I
started thinking about something you once taught and even mentioned
again in your recent interview. About how important it is to deeply
examine and consider what it is your Lama really wants you to do.
Then a realization struck me, “Hey, this might actually be
a test!” One of those big, tough Dharma “life exams” you
always talk about, one perhaps not so much different from the ones
you’re facing these days. Nga yi ka sek che dar ser shin gu
chir min (“Don’t just believe what I teach; treat it
like gold: melt it, cut it, rub it.”)
So while this test is much
harder than asking me to put up your Mongolian yurt without an instruction
manual, I accept your challenge. With deep respect Dear Geshe-La
and the knowledge that things aren’t always what they appear
to be, it seems what you’re really asking me to do is call
you out on your extremely aberrant behavior. And by way of a formal
protest, I hereby take your teachings off Lam Rim Radio until all
this confusion comes to an end.
In closing, I apologize
if my words have disturbed your mind or the minds of other students.
If out of my ignorance I’m placing a shoe on the head of a
Buddha statue, it is only out of the sincerest love and concern that
he not become drenched in the rain.
With Much Love and Prayers,
Lam Rim Radio
May these words immediately
end all suffering (war, sickness, strife, wrong views, etc) and the
causes for suffering of all sentient beings in the six realms. May
whoever listens, sees, touches, remembers, or even thinks or talks
about this letter or Lam Rim Radio, never be born in the lower realms,
receive only perfect human rebirths, meet a perfectly qualified Mahayana
virtuous friend, and quickly achieve Guru Buddha's enlightened state.
from the "To the Inner Kingdom" Oct
2000 transcript of Geshe Michael Roach available on the Diamond
were alone, each person. The nights are very dark, and there
are many, many strange sounds...
...Every kind of creepy, crawly, desert thing has crawled in people's
yards and yurts, and sometimes very frightening things, but I think,
the hardest think is the loneliness, to be alone for month after
We see each other for the holidays, like Sojong, confession ceremony,
twice a month. When we're in deep retreat we don't see each other
at all, so for a month or maybe two months. Each person has been
very strong, become strong, and they showed a lot of courage, and
respected the retreat boundaries. They've worked very, very hard.
They worked for, some of them years, to lean the meditations and
visualizations that they have to do. We don't allow ourselves any
other kind of stimulation, there's only meditation and some study
of what to meditate about, and each person has done it very, very