The Tsem Tulku thread.

Alfredo
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The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Alfredo » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:44 am

Assuming that critical posts about (putative) lamas are permitted, I have received the following account by a former monk who knew Tsem (and who gives permission for his remarks to be published). I think you will at least agree that it raises important questions--and not only about Tsem's credentials:
It was during a couple of visits to Drepung back in 1990 and '91 that I got to know Tsem, or "Tenzin Sopa" as I knew him then. During that time, Tsem didn't attend any philosophical classes. He didn't debate, and AFAIK, he didn't complete any exams. Not even the "Du-dra" (Collected Topics) class, which is the first year in the 20 or so years of the Gelugpa examination process. So you can draw your own conclusions about the extent of his knowledge of Gelugpa philosophy. I heard that he had a Bhutanese ID card, which allowed him to live in India without visa problems.

He seems to have spent his first few years (of a total of 8 spent at Ganden) befriending various lamas with the aim of trying to get someone to "recognise" him. When none were forthcoming, and the medium for the Gaden oracle was retiring, he tried to get that position. Unsuccessfully, of course. But it is consistent with his strategy of trying to get some sort of title without really earning it. Becoming a geshe probably didn't atttract him because it would have been too much work and would have taken too long.

One of his good friends was Gomang's Lobsang Yeshe, unrecognised claimant to the title of Kundeling Rinpoche, <SNIP>. Neither did any study, and both spoke English better than they did Tibetan. They used to spend their days being served tea by Lobsang Yeshe's attendant and trying to think up ways to become the next Lama Yeshe or Zopa Rinpoche. While Lobsang Yeshe at least had an unrecognised claim to being a lama and had completed 6 or 7 years of the geshe curriculum, Tenzin Sopa didn't have any title. But it was fairly obviously something that he craved.

Even at that stage, he had a story to tell, though my take on him at the time was that he was an unwanted, unloved and unhappy child who had found solace in Buddhism. But he was never satisfied with being an ordinary Buddhist. In his own personal sense-making life narrative, he was special. Perhaps imagining himself as a reincarnate lama may have been a mechanism to show everybody who had mistreated him that they had been making a big mistake. The fact that he had been suicidal (he once told me how he wanted to kill himself so that he could come back and start life over again) suggests to me that he was not entirely balanced mentally.

Eventually, practical exigencies seemed to have prevailed, with the powers-that-be in Shartse college seeing the advantages of having a fluent English speaking lama for raising money for the college and attracting sponsors for individual monks. I don't know anything about the teacher who recognised him as the reincarnation of a former abbot of the college. I don't know what authority he had to recognise incarnations. I don't know of any other monks that were also recognised by him. (It would be interesting if Tsem was the only one, and whether the teacher benefited personally from the recognition.) Nor do I know on what basis he was actually recognised. (Did he correctly select possessions of the former abbot?) These are questions to which those who currently follow him are entitled to know the answers. But perhaps it's beside the point--the main thing is that Shartse College issued him with some sort of official document recognizing the recognition, and the rest is history.

Some of the young monks at Drepung used to refer to him as "Lama Dzuma" ("fake lama").

That said, since then I have had nothing to do with Tsem, and I have no personal beef against him. He once did me a favour for which I was very appreciative at the time. AFAIK, he observes the monk's vinaya purely and therefore at least deserves the basic respect accorded to any Buddhist monk.
I have also been informed that the following website--which pointedly avoids proper names, presumably out of fear of legal retaliation--is really about Tsem's organization, Kechara:

http://insidethecompany.wordpress.com/

It seems that the Kechara organization is suffering quite a few defections right now, not least because of Tsem's famously mercurial and tempermental personality. You may choose to interpret his mind-games as "crazy wisdom," but these allegations deserve to be more widely known. For example, the above blog depicts its unnamed "chairman" as a cult leader who spies on, manipulates, and physically abuses his own followers. It also seems that there has been a wave of high-level defections lately, and that the ex-Kecharians are starting to organize themselves.
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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Grigoris » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:54 pm

Alfredo wrote:Assuming that critical posts about (putative) lamas are permitted, I have received the following account by a former monk who knew Tsem (and who gives permission for his remarks to be published). I think you will at least agree that it raises important questions--and not only about Tsem's credentials:
It was during a couple of visits to Drepung back in 1990 and '91 ... AFAIK, he observes the monk's vinaya purely and therefore at least deserves the basic respect accorded to any Buddhist monk.
Yes, well, without the name of the author of the statement I am afraid that this can easily be viewed as a slanderous fairy tale since it cannot be cross-checked for the veracity of the claims.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by DGA » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:48 pm

Friendly & preemptive reminder:
History has shown discussions about Shugden/Dolgyal on websites such as this one result in flame wars. The management has taken a decision not to allow any discussion/debate, and that means from all sides, regarding all things Shugden/Dolgyal including: Teachers, monasteries, associated organizations, images, audio/video.

http://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=109&t=12768

thank you for your understanding.

OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG

JKhedrup
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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by JKhedrup » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:13 pm

Criticize ur guru all you want, let's 'compare' where u are in a few years and where your guru is. Results count! The end.

When u criticize ur teacher, u are criticizing all those who follow him & all those who 'enthroned' him also

By choosing ur lover over ur teacher is a mistake, becos eventually u will seperate from ur lover & u lost ur teacher too

Some treat their lovers who are full of wrong views, ego, laziness better than their gurus and take their side against their guru!

Some criticize their guru after years of love, care, teachings following the negative examples of some other 'students'. Wake up

All teachers have their devadattas and Judas, forgive them, continue to grow & reach those who want to change. LOL
Tsem Rinpoche in his own words. Some of many sentences about his right to be worshipped, the lack of appreciation of his students etc. Posted on twitter for the world to see. There are also the constant threats on his blog about "not taking it anymore and moving back to Ganden", "leaving it all and going back to America" etc. Now, if people want to take such a person as their teacher, that is their right.

But at least they should have the information. I have not seen any other teacher of Buddhism make such long diatribes on the net (at most one could argue they would be appropriate in the context of a private interview with a student, and even that would be pushing it).

The closest thing to TR in the Internet spiritual universe is Guru Swami G.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Alfredo » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:11 pm

I regard the protector issue as a distraction from the more pressing concern of whether Tsem is behaving as a cult leader. I suspected as much based on his the details of his own organization's literature, but these other accounts certainly reinforce the impression, and have the ring of authenticity. Are they unsubstantiated gossip? Well, in view of Tsem's history of suing his critics (actually he has his students do it), a desire for anonymity is quite understandable. I find them at least as solid as the numerous accounts PRAISING Tsem--which, you'll notice, Kechara tends to churn out en masse. Really, I've never met a lama more obsessed with self-promotion. They say his students have quotas to meet in terms of blog comments and social media activity, much like China's famous "fifty cent-ers," and many of the posts in this thread have that tenor. You might even say that Tsem's status as a lama is unsubstantiated, except in the tautalogical social sense that he has managed to attract followers.

If you insist on focusing on supernatural issues--as opposed, for example, to the allegation that he has installed "security" cameras all over Kechara for the purpose of spying on people, and gleaning little bits of information which he can then use to impress them with his supposed psychic abilities--then may I suggest, as a more fruitful line of discussion, the issue of his emphasis on protecting his followers from black magic? Or the supernatural threats which he assures them await anyone who abandons or opposes their guru (who, you'll notice, is assumed to be Tsem)? You're probably right about the Setrap thing, though.

The larger point which this raises is, how can anyone know from afar who is a lama, let alone a lama worthy of respect? Just because they look the part, or have a glowing website about themselves, is no guarantee of authenticity. Too often Western followers of Tibetan Buddhism automatically side with the presumed authorities of their religion over their critics (see Chungyam Trungpa), without stopping to consider whether (as in that Zen story about the rampaging elephant) the critics have a Buddha Nature which also deserves to be heeded. We might stop to ask whether we, the sort of audience represented by Dharma Wheel, are not part of the problem.
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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by michaelb » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:22 pm

Alfredo wrote:I regard the protector issue as a distraction from the more pressing concern of whether Tsem is behaving as a cult leader.
I agree. There's a very similar situation with the NKT. Outsiders only focus on the protector issue without being aware that the group itself and the way it treats its followers is also very wrong, with a lot of cult like control exerted on members to conform and give as much time and money to the group as they can.

A healthy group exists for the benefit and personal growth of its individual members. In a cult, the members exist for the growth and benefit of the cult, and they are discarded when they are no longer useful. When one leader who answers to no one is in control and never admits they are at fault, problems happen.

Tsem Tulku makes his teachings very accessible and some people seem to really like his style, but I don't think everyone is blind to the possibility that things are not all they might be. There have been murmurings on here and other forums for some time, often arising out of suspicion at the behaviour of Tsem Tulku's students, whose gushing praise seems more than a little cult-like.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by JKhedrup » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:54 am

From Tsem Tulku's Twitter
Sadness is realizing those you trusted shouldn't have been trusted

One loses all his spiritual powers if he even thinks ill of Guru. ~ Lord Shiva (Guru Tantra)

Avoiding beneficial dharma work is saying ur laziness wins. Don't cite policies & feelings. U leave it to others to do it

Sometimes you can explain something till your blue to people. They get it. They understand but too complacent,...

Why disparage ur guru behind his back and in front smile?

Leaving an important job for an easier & more 'fun' job reflects ur selfish mind especially if u were needed so much

When we always find reasons to complain, your like the little boy who cried wolf, eventually u'll be ignored

Creating schism will make u look 'good' very short term, then u will be discovered & all respect is gone

When ur guru say this work is beneficial & should be done, u whisper behind to others u don't think so, u create schism

When ur guru says this work is good/beneficial & u say it isn't, then u have more wisdom than ur guru. You win
Once u lose my respect, I don't hate u,but I will not work with u again nor trust u. I just smile at u & send good prayers.


Saying u love someone but avoiding all works & necessaries to help the person shows who u really are. U love yourself & no one else

Examine carefully people, read between the lines. And think- if this were really for a student's benefit, why is it necessary to send this sort of stuff out on twitter? To me it indicates a person not mature enough to take the role of a guru, who is willing to use twitter to intimidate and pressure students. It is also indicative of someone who sees people being busy, or having to take care of other things in their lives, as rejection.

I don't see much spiritual maturity in these words. (Nor in my own in some cases, but I am not serving in the role of Guru or teacher...)

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Grigoris » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:07 am

Alfredo wrote:I regard the protector issue as a distraction from the more pressing concern of whether Tsem is behaving as a cult leader. I suspected as much based on his the details of his own organization's literature, but these other accounts certainly reinforce the impression, and have the ring of authenticity. Are they unsubstantiated gossip? Well, in view of Tsem's history of suing his critics (actually he has his students do it), a desire for anonymity is quite understandable. I find them at least as solid as the numerous accounts PRAISING Tsem--which, you'll notice, Kechara tends to churn out en masse. Really, I've never met a lama more obsessed with self-promotion. They say his students have quotas to meet in terms of blog comments and social media activity, much like China's famous "fifty cent-ers," and many of the posts in this thread have that tenor. You might even say that Tsem's status as a lama is unsubstantiated, except in the tautalogical social sense that he has managed to attract followers.

If you insist on focusing on supernatural issues--as opposed, for example, to the allegation that he has installed "security" cameras all over Kechara for the purpose of spying on people, and gleaning little bits of information which he can then use to impress them with his supposed psychic abilities--then may I suggest, as a more fruitful line of discussion, the issue of his emphasis on protecting his followers from black magic? Or the supernatural threats which he assures them await anyone who abandons or opposes their guru (who, you'll notice, is assumed to be Tsem)? You're probably right about the Setrap thing, though.

The larger point which this raises is, how can anyone know from afar who is a lama, let alone a lama worthy of respect? Just because they look the part, or have a glowing website about themselves, is no guarantee of authenticity. Too often Western followers of Tibetan Buddhism automatically side with the presumed authorities of their religion over their critics (see Chungyam Trungpa), without stopping to consider whether (as in that Zen story about the rampaging elephant) the critics have a Buddha Nature which also deserves to be heeded. We might stop to ask whether we, the sort of audience represented by Dharma Wheel, are not part of the problem.
The evidence that you provide for the nature of the group is an anonymous blog where the author talks in vague terms terms about some organisation ("the company"). It could be anybody talking about any organisation.

Do you have any hard facts? Fior example: the twitter statements posted here by Ven Khedrup. But even these are not hard facts because how can one prove that these were "said" by Tsem Tulku?
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by JKhedrup » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:09 am

Well, they are posted on his own twitter page, just google twitter and tsem tulku.

And he speaks in the first person about there being no Wifi in his hotel room, etc.

It is him speaking, I don't think he would allow his students to impersonate him in that way.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by JKhedrup » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:13 am

Greg:

http://blog.tsemtulku.com/tsem-tulku-ri ... fault.html
Dear friends,

I tweet daily and about different subjects. I don’t particularly enjoy social media, but it is a necessity to bring about more teachings and knowledge to reach people.

This morning I got up and tweeted all these which I include below. It is a teaching on our views, our relationship with our teacher, practice and dharma learning. It is also on the relationship between what we tend to protect within ourselves because it’s too much to deal with. But we have to deal with it. It will not serve us to not deal with it.

Tsem Rinpoche
I don't think we can deny that these are the words of Tsem Tulku himself.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Grigoris » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:13 am

JKhedrup wrote:Well, they are posted on his own twitter page, just google twitter and tsem tulku.

And he speaks in the first person about there being no Wifi in his hotel room, etc.

It is him speaking, I don't think he would allow his students to impersonate him in that way.
That assumes that he knows that his students are acting that way.

Anyway, the thing with personality cults (and I am not assuming that Khechara is a personality cult, though their site is not to my taste) is that when the leader dies...
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by JKhedrup » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:18 am

If these statements don't set off alarm bells I don't know what to say:
People come and go, but look at the ‘quality’ of the minds of those who left. Look carefully and think carefully about how they were. - Tsem Rinpoche

Do we really deserve a kind, compassionate and loving guru? Or do we deserve to perish with the weight of our deeds and negativities? - Tsem Rinpoche

Your wrong views about your guru is correct and everyone else right views are wrong. You are the only one who is correct? – Tsem Rinpoche

Your Dharma wisdom is greater than your guru’s and it ‘allows’ you to criticise your guru. Is that what you think is correct? – Tsem Rinpoche

You profess don’t be judgemental, but you spend your days and nights judging your guru and criticising to those around you. – Tsem Rinpoche

Criticising your gurus is your way to cover your negativities that you wish to hide from others. – Tsem Rinpoche
Criticise your guru all you want, lets ‘compare’ where you are in a few years and where your guru is. Results count! The end. – Tsem Rinpoche
Again, all about his right to be worshipped unquestioningly. I am shocked people can see posting something like this on Twitter as appropriate.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Alfredo » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:59 am

I remember one post/tweet in which he complained about his hotel room not having a bidet.

Greg:
The evidence that you provide for the nature of the group is an anonymous blog where the author talks in vague terms terms about some organisation ("the company"). It could be anybody talking about any organisation.
Now you're just being obdurate.
Do you have any hard facts? Fior example: the twitter statements posted here by Ven Khedrup. But even these are not hard facts because how can one prove that these were "said" by Tsem Tulku?
All I can do is share with you what I've heard. You'll have to make a judgement call. Technically we can't be sure of anything really--for all I know, we could all be living in the Matrix. But I hope you apply the same skepticism to Tsem, for example, when he claims to have been recognized as a tulku by Zong Rinpoche, Ganden Shartze, and/or the Dalai Lama.
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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by DGA » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:20 pm

I find it unusual and disappointing, in the spirit of open discussion, that no one who has praised or endorsed Tsem in the past on this site, even in this thread, has attempted to rebut any of the criticisms made of him.

It's not unusual for one of Tsem's followers to open a thread at DW to announce how delightful a particular blog post or youtube video might be...

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by michaelb » Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:26 pm

It's possible that word has come down from Tsem Tulku not to visit Dharmawheel anymore. A similar thing happened with the NKT. Previously Kelsang gyatso used to post and debate on internet forums. After he stopped his close students did it for him. Once another sex scandal was exposed on e-sangha he issued a decree that internet forums were bad and his students shouldn't visit them. Cult leaders don't like criticis or their students exposed to opposing views.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by JKhedrup » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:43 pm

Setting all those matters aside, decide whether his twitter comments make you have more or less confidence in him as a teacher. That is all I will say on the matter, as those comments co e from him and require no assumptions.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by DGA » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:10 pm

Tsem's actions as a teacher are worth considering too. For instance, whom has he invited to teach his own students? Who, among the living or deceased, has he asked his students to venerate? These are matters that are publicly available, and to my mind they fall under the category of "investigating the teacher."

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Grigoris » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:22 pm

Dear Ven Khedrup, I don't know if you were a member of e-sangha back when Marcos had logged into the site (as moderator) and his kid brother jumped onto the computer when Marcos was out and raised hell all over the forum?

If the twitter messages are from Tsem Tulku then I can definitely say that (for me) they do not elicit trust and faith in him. But then again, he is not my guru. But I cannot know for sure that they are his messages. Judging from the other nonsense some of his followers engage in, I would not put it past them to use Tsem Tulkus twitter account for their twisted ends. I am sure that tsem Tulku is not the only one to benefit financially from Khechara.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by JKhedrup » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:36 pm

Multiple times overmultiple days, and the blog as well as Twitter?

Anyways, i will try to stay off this topic. I recognize my aversion to the marketing makes further criticism on my part unwholesome.

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Re: The Tsem Tulku thread.

Post by Alfredo » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:33 pm

The "Inside the Company" blog has a contact e-mail for someone calling himself Alex. In view of the legal issues, Alex may resist being drawn into confirming that the site is about Kechara. However, if it were not about Kechara, surely Alex could say that. He has not (in his e-mails to me). Incidentally, I was directed to the site from another dissident, who confirmed its general accuracy (and added many more details).

As long as we're being skeptical, Tsem claims to be third in a lineage of Tsem Rinpoches. Other than his own website, how can we be sure that this lineage ever existed--that he didn't just make it up? (Help! Is there a Tibetologist in the house?)

He claims to have been initially recognized by Zong Rinpoche, who died soon afterwards (so we must take Tsem's word that this occurred). He also claims to have been "recognized and enthroned" by the Dalai Lama in 1991. Notice the photos:

http://v7.tsemtulku.com/biography/recog ... hronement/

Of course, the Dalai Lama has his photo taken with a lot of people (even that Japanese cult guy), and there is no indication here that Tsem is the center of attention. I am told that when Kechara applied to join the Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia (an umbrella group of Tibetan Buddhist societies), and was asked to provide documentation of his recognition by Ganden Shartze and the Dalai Lama, they refused. Perhaps they had the documents, but were offended. (Tsem and the FPMT groups, who were already on the council, apparently have a history of bad relations.)

When dealing with a suspected con artist, one should doubt everything the con artist says, for which the main source of information is the con artist.
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