dewa wrote:Actually, his numbers are higher now, because everybody loves a scandal, and everybody wants to see the scary cult lama.
This discussion is a bit frustrating for me to watch, because it's so clear that the people participating here don't have any personal experience of Geshe Michael, and are just reacting to what they see in the media, or maybe a first impression they had of him from going to one of his teachings. For instance, people talk about him in terms of the prosperity gospel, without understanding that the prosperity gospel he teaches is that if you serve others and make sure that they have what they need, then you will experience prosperity. It almost sounds like a teaching on karma.
Perhaps teaching about true renunciation would be better, instead of encouraging people to pursue mundane concerns.
And then there's the notion that Geshe Michael's students aren't Buddhists. I wonder who appointed the person who said this the arbiter of what is and is not Buddhist. The first approximation of what it is to be Buddhist is that we say we are Buddhist, because we want to understand and practice what the Buddha taught. I did this in about 1994 after reading Sogyel Rinpoche's book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. After reading the book, I decided it was time to get real and start acting like the people in my life were impermanent, and so I did so, and it changed a lot of important relationships in my life for the better.
I, for one, believe his students are Buddhists or at least want to. Roach, OTOH, is whom I doubt.
Then later on, a big scandal came out about Sogyel Rinpoche. It was literally painful to read the article in the New York Times describing what he was accused of having done. And I had to ask myself, okay, is all the beautiful teaching that I read by this man on the topic of death and impermanence invalid, because of this accusation that has been made against him? I sat with that for weeks. And ultimately I concluded that no, it was not invalid, because it worked. I put what he taught me into practice, and my life got better, and it got better in ways that were clearly traceable to the teaching that I had put into practice.
How this excuses MR is beyond my imagination.
Coincidentally, I heard about the scandal while at a teaching His Holiness gave in Central Park, and I was at that teaching because my teacher, Geshe Michael, had recommended that I go. His Holiness had been teaching Master Kamalashila's short book on meditation, and I'd been to all the classes he'd given, and so it seemed natural to go to the teaching in the park. If Geshe Michael is such a cult leader, it's surprising to me that he sent me to go see another teacher. If he's a non-Buddhist, why send me to hear teachings from a Buddhist teacher?
So, your thesis is that because he sent you to attend a public teaching with HHDL, in thee middle of a crowd, that makes him beyond suspicion. Makes a lot of sense in your mind, I'm sure.
I'll tell you why. Because what I heard His Holiness say sounded a lot like what I heard Geshe Michael say. And when I went to other teachings by His Holiness later, I had the same experience. I've never heard His Holiness say a single thing that disagreed with what Geshe Michael taught me.
You seem to be forgetting all the other things MR says and does that are the opposite of what HH says and does.
Geshe Michael was a very weird experience for me when I first met him, and he continues to be. My initial reaction to him was that he looked funny, and I didn't like the way he talked. I was at the teaching because my girlfriend at the time was a student of his, and had invited me. There were all kinds of things that struck me as weird—the small circle of students who always had to sit close to him, all the pretty girls who seemed to want to be near him. Especially after my experience with Sogyel Rinpoche, I was extremely skeptical about all this.
Well, you should. We all know what happened to Christie.
And yet at the same time, his teachings helped me. Sogyel Rinpoche's teachings in impermanence had given me permission to let go of my anger about things people I love had done, because there simply isn't time to square things up. Either you love the person, or you don't. If they do something you don't appreciate, deal with it then, and then let it go. Don't hold grudges. Don't allow mental afflictions to separate you from those you love. That was what I took away from Sogyel Rinpoche's teachings.
A lot of people from the church of Scientology say that their teachings help them. What are you trying to prove?
Geshe Michael's teachings built on that. Don't be afraid of being taken advantage of, because that's impossible. Nobody can ever take advantage of you.
You really should put your feet on the ground. Tell that to rape victims.
Don't tell small lies to avoid a truth that you think will have unpleasant consequences when it is revealed, because the small lies _cannot_ prevent the unpleasant consequences. They will come, or not, whether you lie, or not. Seek out opportunities to be kind to perfect strangers. Greet people with an open heart.
Agree. Also, telling big lies as claiming to have accomplishments one doesn't have is also very nasty and a serious samaya breach.
Geshe Michael gave me my vows, and my vows have been an important part of my current happiness.
And you are defending it. I'm really sorry for you and hope you can distance yourself from MR while keeping a peaceful heart.
Many times in my life I have made choices based on those vows, and the fact of the vows freed me to make the choice that I wanted to make, instead of the choices that I thought were expedient.
Then MR should look up to you. He wasn't able to keep his vows. He should have disrobed before getting a woman.
If I had not met Geshe Michael, and had continued down the road I was on before I met him, I would now be a bitter and unhappy person. Not only has Geshe Michael's teaching enriched my life, but it's enriched the lives of my family members. He taught me how to heal my relationship with my father, which was full of anger and resentment even after Sogyel Rinpoche's teaching—Rinpoche taught me what to do about my own anger, but not how to do it.
That's your merit, friend, not his. I'm sure he also received many excellent teachings but didn't gave them as good use as you did.
Because of my skepticism about Geshe Michael's inner circle, I watched them pretty closely, and I watched his interactions with them. I don't know what kind of interpersonal interactions they have had because those tend to be private, but my experience of the inner circle is that they are there because that's where they want to be. They follow him closely because they want to. He doesn't discourage them from doing so, and he tries to find useful things for them to do, but if I had to characterize their impact on his life, I would say that they are a big hassle for him. He's put quite a lot of effort into creating a private space where his inner circle doesn't go, so that he can have time to himself for his practice, and for the intellectual works that he does (e.g., translations, and preparing for teachings, and writing books).
Perhaps if he stopped hitting the night clubs he would find more privacy and time to practice.
So when we talk about whether Geshe Michael is, or is not, a Buddhist, I think it's worth looking at what he teaches, not just at what the newspapers report about him. I think it's worth listening to his students. And when we talk about what happened at DM, and whether Geshe Michael could have prevented it, I think it's worth considering two possibilities:
A teacher's conduct is very important. It's crucial when choosing a Guru in Vajrayana. This is a widely known advice given by many great sages.
The first is that Geshe Michael is a realized being. If so, then what happened out in the desert was most certainly exactly what he intended to have happen. That is the power that realized beings have. But they also take the long view. So it's hard to say what ultimate goal the events in the desert may have had, but if you accept that he's a realized being, you kind of have to accept that he had some goal in mind.
That can only be taken as a joke.
But I think most people here are maintaining that he is an ordinary schmuck, just like the rest of us. If that's the case, then he didn't intend what happened. He couldn't have anticipated it. He couldn't have prevented it.
No, that's the point. He is not an ordinary schmuck. He claims to be a Dharma teacher with a significant amount of realization. By leading a group and giving teachings, he assumes a role that bares some heavy responsibilities. By not living up to them, the results are there to be seen.
From my side, I don't have a strong opinion either way. I see Geshe Michael working tirelessly on my behalf, in his work with ACIP (he still sorts through raw data from ACIP), in his translations, in his teaching schedule. I experience the benefits of his teachings. And I see this endless carping by people who don't know him about his legitimacy as a teacher. I don't need to know whether he's a realized being or not to conclude that I am glad to have met him, and am glad that he is still in my life, and to wish that people would spend some effort following Lama Surya Das' advice on this topic: "Don't spy out the flea in another's hair while overlooking the yak on one's own nose."
All I can say is that I feel sorry for your situation. It must be extremely hard to hear the criticism the media is doing to the person you see as a Guru. You have invested so much in that relation, after having suffered a frustration with a teacher before, that this must be very hard for you.
It won't matter much what I or others say because if you, at this point and with all the public information available, haven't already reached the conclusion that somewhere along the road MR took a very wrong turn in the path and may be hurting people, nothing will make you reconsider your opinion.
All I can say is take care of yourself. Someone who probably trusted him more than you ended up dead after holing himself in a cave with MR ex lover.