Lama Zopa Rinpoche, sent him a letter:
"Dear Geshe Michael,
If your conduct will be the way you explained in the letter then it will not be normal from the monasteries point of view or according to the monasteries point of view. Where the need is more important than what is to abandoned, along with that one should be able to perform other miracle powers, show control or freedom like Milarepa or like any of those yogi’s such as Dukpa Kunleg. Then, in this way, people can see the realizations and power and so devotion grows in them. Even they have mistaken appearance, people see their special qualities of showing control and high realizations , in this way seeing the mistakes does not destroy peoples faith and instead they see only qualities.
Gelongma Palmo in order to destroy the heresy of the people of the city who believed she had broken her vows and to inspire them and bring them to enlightenment, she cut off her head and put it on a spear and danced in space and said “if it is true that I am not pure, not a fully ordained nun then my head should not come back, if it is true that I
am pure then my head should come back”. Then her head came back on her body, like before, and that proved to the people in the city, the words of the truth. The head from the spear came back to her body as before, so everybody in the city completely believed that she did not have any mistakes and is pure, destroying all their wrong views and
heresy and this caused them to have incredible devotion to her.
Just to clarify I don’t mean you have to be enlightened to do that kind of conduct. It might seem that way from the story. All it means is having high realizations and showing to others through external miracle powers.
By showing miracle powers then other people can generate devotion and non heresy. By seeing the miracle power, something external, then they can have faith in high realizations, seeing that you have control and you are free and whatever conduct you do does not have the stain of samsara.
If one performs those behaviors to develop people’s devotion then it is not just an ordinary miracle that is needed, one needs to do a special kind of miracle, for example the6th DL pee-ed from the top of the Potala and just before the urine hit the ground he drew it back again inside his vajra. Also there is the story of the previous incarnation of Gonsar Rinpoche who pulled in mud through his vajra.
With much love and prayers,
Even the Office of H.H. DL sent him a letter:
"Dear Rev. Michael Roach,
This is to thank you for your letter. We have gone through your long explanation but still do not support your coming to
DharmXala. 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 DL is the Spiritual and XXX leader of XXX, 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 DharmXala will be seen by many as His Holiness condoning your behavior and practice.
In view of all these we advise you not to visit DharmXala in the greater interest of the purity of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. However, as for the other members of your group those who are interested are welcome to attend the teachings of His Holiness the DL.
Tenzin Geyche Tethong
Secretary to H.H.
Office of H.H.
New York Post 纽约邮报
Monk-y Business: Controversial NYC guru Michael RoachMichael Roach, a controversial Buddhist monk, lost his "spiritual partner" to another man—and started partying and dressing in Armani suits. Now his flock is struggling to keep the faith. By Beth Landman
"Some people are turned off by my robes," (inset) says Michael, who favors sharp suits when giving talks to businesspeople or hitting the clubs.
Last November, Mia*, a comely thirtysomething yoga instructor at a studio downtown, got a strange phone call. Geshe Michael Roach, an ordained Buddhist monk and guru to many in the Union Square spirituality scene, was in town. He wanted to hang out that night with her and some of her other yogi friends, but he didn't want to talk chakras or do vinyasas. He wanted to hit the clubs.
Later that evening, Mia met up with the 57-year-old monk at Cielo, a hip club in the Meatpacking District known for its house beats and tough velvet rope. He wasn't wearing his usual flowing monastic robes. "It was the strangest thing," recalls Mia. "He was in this Armani suit and with a model, and he was now saying that everyone should dress up"—strange indeed, given that thousands of years of tradition dictate that Buddhist monks live spartan, celibate lives.
With his heavily lined face and thin graying hair brushing his shoulders, the guru didn't quite blend with the Cielo scene, though he did his best, boogying down with a young Chanel-clad Russian girl. Erin Vaughan, another yoga teacher there that night, was shocked. "He was on the dance floor, and there was nothing enlightened about it," she says.
Geshe Michael and ex-partner Christie speak to followers at an Arizona church.
With an unorthodox approach to finding enlightenment—Geshe Michael encourages his followers to couple up with spiritual partners and never stray more than 30 feet from each other—he has always moved to his own beat. But after his own spiritual partner left him last summer for a younger man, he started to behave oddly, and now even some of his most loyal devotees are having trouble following his moves.
A Princeton grad, Michael Roach came to Buddhism after his mother's death from breast cancer left him devastated. "It sort of destroyed me,'' he remembers. "I kept wondering what the meaning of life was, and I went to India to look for answers. In those days you could go to the DL's house and knock on his door." He was ordained as a monk in 1983 and then spent another 12 years studying Tibetan Buddhism to earn the title of geshe, one of only a few Westerners to do so. While studying for the geshe degree, Michael also amassed a personal fortune working in the diamond business, the vast majority of which, he says, he gave away to aid Tibetan refugees. In 1996 he cofounded Three Jewels, a dharma, meditation and yoga center in the East Village. The following year, he met Christie McNally, a young blonde two years out of NYU and 20 years his junior. Geshe Michael recalls their first meeting with a mythic reverence. "A beautiful rainbow came out," he says.
She came to him as a student, but their relationship quickly blossomed into much more. The two became spiritual partners, vowing never to be more than 15 feet apart. They spent three years, from 2000 to 2003, living together in an Arizona yurt on a silent retreat, their relationship a secret. Soon after, they went public, flying in the face of tradition and prompting outcry.
The DL shunned Michael for his unorthodox practices.
His friend Professor Robert Thurman, father of actress Uma Thurman and a former monk, begged Michael to renounce his monastic vows and stop wearing robes. Michael declined, and the two stopped speaking. The DL refused to see him when he traveled to India with a group of students in 2006. Despite such harsh criticism, Geshe Michael continued to live with Christie, though he says he's been celibate since he was 22. Of course, his definition of celibacy differs from the norm.
"We are not allowed to have sex, but in yoga there are practices that involve joining with a partner,'' he explains. "They are secret, and you are not allowed to disclose them. You might think of them as sex, but their purpose is to move inner energy. It takes very strict training. There would be penetration, but no release of semen." Sex or no sex, the two developed a unique bond, and their unorthodox message attracted thousands of followers around the world, including in New York and Arizona—where in 2004, they founded an unaccredited Buddhist University and retreat center called Diamond Mountain. When they spoke at St. Bartholomew's Church on the Upper East Side in 2007, some 800 New Yorkers came out to hear their talk on spiritual partnerships. They gave countless lectures, wrote half a dozen books together and helped couple off hundreds of followers into intensely close partnerships like their own. It was a relationship of mythical proportions, but that didn't mean it would last forever.
Last summer Christie left Geshe Michael for another man. Ian Thorson, a young student who had once served as the couple's attendant and delivered them food and robes, had come between them. After nearly a decade of eating off the same plate, reading the same book and never leaving one another's sight, the couple's spiritual partnership came to a dramatic end. Now both Geshe Michael and his followers are devastated and questioning what, and whom, they believe in.
Michael and Christie in the Arizona desert in 2005.
"Everything is going into chaos. It's all exploding," says Erin, who's close to many of his followers. "People are switching partners, and some are leaving him." Christie has fled into silent retreat (where she was at press time and unavailable for comment), most likely with Ian at her side, while Geshe Michael has been hitting the clubs with the Russian blonde. He's also been seen around town holding hands with a yoga instructor. He's even talking about starting a line of women's dresses adorned with synthetic diamonds. According to Mia, the guru has also been telling his followers that "everyone should dress up and look beautiful—it was the opposite of how he usually speaks." More accurately, it seems to be the opposite of how he used to speak. Other followers have noted that Geshe Michael seems to be espousing different beliefs, preaching that looking good and dressing well can help attract more followers. "It certainly has created confusion," sighs Bengal Shyam, a 28-year-old follower.
Geshe Michael Roach's Sexual Conduct with Students
From March 3, 2000 to June 6, 2003, Geshe Michael Roach took part in a three-year retreat in Arizona along with some close students including Christie McNally, some young female laypersons and an ordained nun.
When the retreat began, news of Geshe Michael Roach's real relationship with these ladies was not generally known. Later, as some students began to investigate, it became apparent to them that Geshe Michael Roach had spent the entire three years living in the same room as Christie McNally, and had also engaged in sexual activities with four of the ladies whom accompanied him into retreat, including an ordained nun.
In order to protect the ladies concerned, we will not publish their names, apart from that of Christie McNally who now openly in a physical relationship with Geshe Michael Roach.
One young lady left the retreat early, in late 2001, due to emotional problems associated with the sexual relationship between Geshe Michael Roach and the four ladies. It was widely publicized that Geshe Michael Roach had sent her out into the world to perform a "special retreat", however this was nothing more than a lie to cover the real reason for her leaving.
Two of the ladies who had been involved in the four way sexual relationship with Geshe Michael Roach left his circle for some time. Both these ladies spoke to others about their experiences, including at least one well known high lama. At least one of them was emotionally disturbed by their experience. Both claim that Geshe Michael Roach, an ordained monk, had engaged in sexual activity with at least four of his female students both before and during the retreat. Both claim that this sexual activity was mundane, rather than any form of holy consort practice, and included watching pornography, fellatio, and more than one lady at the same time.
Both ladies returned to Diamond Mountain in 2004 where they have been placed on a pedestal and presented as Lamas to the community. It is believed that considerable emotional pressure was exerted on them to return. The ordained nun left Diamond Mountain for an extended period of time in late 2004 for undisclosed reasons.
Information volunteered by these ladies lead to Geshe Michael Roach being barred from teaching in centres of the FPMT while he was still in retreat.
Below is an open letter from a close friend of one of the ladies mentioned above, who spent considerable time with her after she left the retreat early.
From the start I would like to state that my intentions for writing to this letter are simply to protect current and future students of Geshe Michael Roach from any type of harm or possible disillusionment in the path of the Dharma.
I in no way claim to have any direct knowledge of Geshe Michael Roach’s realizations or lack thereof. All I am offering are facts that have been told to me directly by the woman involved.
As Geshe Michael Roach repeatedly taught, it is imperative that a potential student research their Lama thoroughly before committing to them as a disciple. Therefore one has to engage a high degree of critical discernment based on ones own perceptions and the words of others.
I hope that those of you who read this might place it within that context, not taking my words to be true but putting them up against what you yourself have seen and heard regarding Geshe Michael Roach’s behavior and deciding what for you is true or not.
For close to a year I studied and worked while living at Diamond Mountain and attending to the needs of the three year retreatants, whom I had never personally met. The strength of Geshe Michael Roach’s teachings kept me inspired in my activities as well as the close relationships that I had formed with the other members of the community of practitioners. I had a great degree of respect for the nuns and the laity who were so committed in their devotion to the retreatants, sacrificing their own practice and at times their own health to see that the demands and needs of the retreatants were always met.
A few months into my stay I was allowed within the retreat boundary, at first to do some roof and deck repairs, and later to partake in the daily delivery of food. It was during this time that I first realized that Geshe Michael Roach was not alone in his yurt but was spending the duration of his three years in practice with Christie. This was an unspoken secret that was not to be shared with visitors who came through Diamond Mountain.
I really was left to my own imagination as to how exactly Geshe Michael Roach, a fully ordained monk of the Gelugpa order was maintaining his vinaya (vows) whilst sharing a small Mongolian yurt with a female student for three years.
Geshe Michael Roach was always very articulate in his teachings regarding the need to maintain a strict ethical practice, so in my mind there were partitions and the like, and of course I believed he and Christie were always meditating nicely, side by side.
If, perhaps, I slipped into a vision that this was in any way unethical for a monk, and certainly more appealing for a 28 year old man, I quickly marked it down in my little vow book as an infraction of my pure view. The reason I mention this is to address the claims that I left the community because I was uncomfortable with an ordained monk having a consort. This was of course a concern at the time, but eventually paled in comparison to the actual cause of my departure.
Life went on as usual at the center as we prepared for the upcoming Quiet Retreat teachings. It was at these teachings that I was introduced to, and quickly befriended, one of our other “holy lamas” who had been in retreat with Geshe Michael Roach but had been sent out on a sacred pilgrimage to undisclosed locations.
Within two weeks I had rented a home in Tucson and moved in with this remarkable woman, who was indeed beautiful, wise and kind. It was less than a month later that she and I were quickly packing up her van and leaving town. Without too much discussion with the general community we simply up and left. A few close friends I felt obligated to share this information with, one of them was on the Board (of Diamond Mountain), also chose to leave after years of service. Based on the truths that were revealed to us, it was, we believed, the most skillful course of action.
Without the need to get caught up in details or to reveal the names of any of the women involved, I will attempt to tell you as best as I can recollect, what was told directly to me. This from a woman who had just finished a year and a half retreat with her lama, to a man (myself) who was planning on ordaining in a few short years.
Geshe Michael Roach over a period of years had engaged in a series of sexual encounters with at least four of his closest disciples. And possibly also with his old girlfriend. He went to great lengths to keep his activities secret from the community, often times leaving the country or secretly going on retreat.
These sexual activities at times included more than one woman at a time, the viewing of pornography, and the donning of ladies undergarments by himself. One of the women involved was also ordained at the time.
These activities, at least as seen by one of the woman, had not the slightest relationship to anything sacred and felt more like, as she put it “high school sex acts”. I believe that Geshe Michael Roach actually married one of these women while somewhere in the Caribbean, it might be possible to locate the records of this act. These activities with multiple woman lasted for many months until Christie, Geshe Michael Roach’s current consort, demanded that they stop and that she was to be his only partner.
I make no claims as to the whether or not these are the manifestations of enlightened behavior. That is for each of you to research on your own. It is through the encouragement of many teachers of various Buddhist lineages, including the Dalai Lama, that I have shared with you this information. For the sake of the women involved, all of whom are still very active in Geshe Michael Roach’s community, I ask that this information be used merely by each of you as individual practitioners to make the best possible choices as regards your inner lives and whom you choose to study with.
One last note. It is with great sadness that I have had to write this letter. Geshe Michael Roach was a remarkable teacher of the Dharma to myself and thousands of other individuals. He inspired so many beings to pursue the path through study and retreat. These good acts are unmistaken. Whether the personal actions of a teacher enhance or diminish the import of their teachings is a question that each of us must answer on our own. I have made my decision, now I hope that you can more clearly make yours.
Name withheld by request