Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Question about Guru-disciple love in Tibetan Buddhism?

edited November 2010 in Modern Buddhism
Hello all,

I'm new to this forum and I have a question that I hope someone can answer.. :)

I attend a Tibetan Buddhist center where I live… and there is a lama/yogi there that is genuine, compassionate and loving. I do my ethnographic fieldwork (I am an Anthropologist) on Tibetan Buddhism so I spend more time around him than you normally would, learning about his culture and religion, and I feel that I have started to care for him a lot. I still don't know if this is a good or a bad thing though.
I do see him as my root guru as well but I have realized that I am also romantically attracted to him. I am not, in any way, looking for a relationship though. I know he has probably taken vows and I accept that. I am just there for this fieldwork and to receive teachings from him. He has been very helpful and I feel that we have a lot of mutual respect for each other.

Since he is so kind to everybody, I have noticed that a lot of the other female practitioners at the center are also attracted to him. And sometimes I wonder if he is aware of it. During this fieldwork, I have heard other women talking about how good-looking and young he is for a lama.

He was away for a few months, he spent the summer in his homeland, and when he returned to my country he asked my mother about me on the first day because I was absent. When I did show up the next time, his face lit up with joy and he embraced me and told me that it was good to see me. We enjoy each other's company and I know some people have probably noticed this. One person told me that it was great to see us get along so well.

But it feels a lot deeper than that. I seem to have this strange telepathical connection to him and I'm not sure why. He appears in my dreams sometimes and we communicate. They're often like dreams of clarity and dreams that teach me something or have a buddhist meaning. One time I even had a dream about a past life in Tibet and he was there too. When I told him about it, he said that I was a young Tibetan woman in my previous life.

At first, I was angry with myself because I know I should not feel this way. We are not supposed to become attached, right? I wish to be closer to him sometimes and when I do I feel embarassed about it.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? Can anyone offer some advice? Could it be that this is just the spiritual love between a guru and his disciple, and that I am confusing it with romantic feelings?

Every time I come home from the center, I am always so happy and I feel an inner peace that I have never felt in my life before.

Comments

  • edited September 2010
    Since you asked for advice: I would put this teacher's skills to the test. How? Tell him what you just told us.

    There is no shame in communicating what one is experiencing to a teacher, even when the experience is related to the teacher.
  • edited September 2010
    username_5;127395 said:
    Since you asked for advice: I would put this teacher's skills to the test. How? Tell him what you just told us.

    There is no shame in communicating what one is experiencing to a teacher, even when the experience is related to the teacher.
    this is what i was to reply as well.

    not as a test but just because you have questions and he may have relevant answers ;)

    why not just ask him how he feels about the effect he supposedly has on his disciples?

    and eventually you could also tell him how you feel about him and find out what he has to say about that as well.


    now certainly you must have thought of this path of action before and you preferred to ask an online discussion forum instead; what are you afraid of?
  • edited September 2010
    Hi Pathfinder,

    Don't start getting overwhelmed with romantic delusions or get involved with this man...it will probably only end in tears. There have already been incidents of some Tibetan Buddhist teachers having sex with western students and treating some of them like groupies. Two or 3 years ago there was a website (gone now) where some of these women got together to chat about it.

    Of course they're aware of all the female interest and attention ! Its a little bit like having crushes on movie stars or musicians but instead it's the guru being the ideal fantasy partner. If he is an ordained monk in robes then you will be encouraging him to break his vows if you try to have a sexual relationship with him.

    Forget it. Go to a different centre if necessary. Honestly,... I'm serious, please take notice of what I've said.


    With kind regards,

    Dazzle

    .
  • edited September 2010
    personally, i would move away from him for the reasons dazzle gives. listen to every word. read what dazzle says over and over again. but i feel for you, because you are in a touch situation.

    while i have never felt that way about any teacher, i have learned of such indiscretions and have been harmed by learning of them, even investigating to make sure they were true or not. a sense of betrayal sets in, people get hurt, people leave, people stop meditating and even give up the teachings. that is why i believe also that if you can't stop your feelings, then it may be best to move away either by leaving or by not being as close. i don't know your teacher, so i don't know how he would react if you told him. i just hope all works out for you.
  • edited September 2010
    Dear Pathfinder,

    Jessaka and Dazzle has given great advice on this thread. It's best to stay away from a situation like this, for all the reasons they have listed. I have some personal experience with this, and it did lead to a lot of suffering on both sides. If you seriously wish to practice Dharma, I would advise distancing yourself from this, and moving to another center, if possible.

    P.S. The teachings tell us that it is useless to speculate about what our past lives may have been, but it's best to concentrate on preparing for the future.
  • edited September 2010
    i have another fren like your case. I think when a person is in deep already, I don't think you will listen much to what we say.

    Whatever you do, just remember everything has its repercussions. If your choices affect the teacher, affect the center, or affect other students, you may be planting serious karma. So whatever it is, i suggest be careful.

    Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has some teachings on guru-student relationship and i recommend them to you. If your motivation to study dharma is right, then i believe the results will be good. If not, then better reexamine.

    http://www.siddharthasintent.org/gentle/GVindex.htm
    Issue 25 to Issue 28 has a continuing article by Rinpoche on
    "How to Look For Guru and Be Student"

    http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/A%20-%20Tibetan%20Buddhism/Authors/Dzongsar%20Khyentse%20Rinpoche/Distortion/Siddhartha's%20Intent%20-%20Distortion%20article%20by%20Dzongsar%20Khyent.htm

    Hope this helps...
  • edited September 2010
    bodhiactivity;129794 said:
    i have another fren like your case. I think when a person is in deep already, I don't think you will listen much to what we say.

    Whatever you do, just remember everything has its repercussions. If your choices affect the teacher, affect the center, or affect other students, you may be planting serious karma. So whatever it is, i suggest be careful.

    Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has some teachings on guru-student relationship and i recommend them to you. If your motivation to study dharma is right, then i believe the results will be good. If not, then better reexamine.

    http://www.siddharthasintent.org/gentle/GVindex.htm
    Issue 25 to Issue 28 has a continuing article by Rinpoche on
    "How to Look For Guru and Be Student"

    http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/A%20-%20Tibetan%20Buddhism/Authors/Dzongsar%20Khyentse%20Rinpoche/Distortion/Siddhartha's%20Intent%20-%20Distortion%20article%20by%20Dzongsar%20Khyent.htm

    Hope this helps...
    username_5;127395 said:
    Since you asked for advice: I would put this teacher's skills to the test. How? Tell him what you just told us.

    There is no shame in communicating what one is experiencing to a teacher, even when the experience is related to the teacher.

    My thoughts were to the same actions ... having the benefit of hindsight ... we are responsible for only our own actions and to deal with our own intentions - remember it is possible to be deeply attracted to many people who for various reasons it is not possible to develop those attractions for into deeper relationships unless it is possible and ethical for both individuals.
  • edited October 2010
    I am going to jump right in here with the contrary opinion. Nobody here has asked you what you are like before proffering an opinion. They have simply offered you an axiomatic response. You can't assume that he is a monk, many lamas wear similar robes and clothing similar to ordained monks.

    You have to ask yourself: Can you handle a relationship with someone who is also your guru? Many westerners have very conflicted attitudes towards spirituality and sexuality on account of our conflicted Judeo-Christian culture. Do you have difficulty bridging the two? If so don't get involved.

    If not, are you courageous enough to deal with the great potential for jealousy and disappointment that a relationship with someone in that position can lead to? If you are not, definitely don't get involved. If you are going to end up whining about being victimized and taken advantage of at the end, go to a different center and find another lama as you have been advised.

    If you are an *adult* and can take responsibility for any possible outcome of the relationship then by all means follow your heart. This is something we have become spectacularly bad at in the West over the last 30 years. We are great at excuses and elaborate angry denunciations of patriarchy. It is all tremendously disempowering for both men and women.

    If you love, love fiercely and courageously and keep caring regard for all sentient beings first and foremost. This may be all in your head, but it may not. There is no shame in men and women relying on each other to generate bliss. This is vajrayana after all.

    Warm regards,

    Karma Dorje
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited October 2010
    The psychic phenomena are interesting, but try not to read this as a "sign". For all you know, he may already be involved with some of the other women in the sangha; this is not at all unusual for Tibetan monks/lamas. (They're very good at maintaining secrecy.) They take vows, but few take them seriously. Read June Campbell's "Traveller In Space". She explains what these teachers are really all about, and why. They're very good at putting on a warm and kind face when they want. You don't know if that's who he really is, or not.(Granted, your teacher could be a rare exception, but that's still no reason to get personally involved.) Proceed with utmost caution, or, as one of the other contributors recommended, leave. "Better to be safe than sorry".
  • edited October 2010
    Dakini;135903 said:
    The psychic phenomena are interesting, but try not to read this as a "sign". For all you know, he may already be involved with some of the other women in the sangha; this is not at all unusual for Tibetan monks/lamas. (They're very good at maintaining secrecy.) They take vows, but few take them seriously. Read June Campbell's "Traveller In Space". She explains what these teachers are really all about, and why. They're very good at putting on a warm and kind face when they want. You don't know if that's who he really is, or not.(Granted, your teacher could be a rare exception, but that's still no reason to get personally involved.) Proceed with utmost caution, or, as one of the other contributors recommended, leave. "Better to be safe than sorry".
    I am sorry Dakini, but that is tarring with an awfully wide brush. Saying that those who take their vows seriously in an entire tradition are rare exceptions is not fair. In my experience, nothing can be further from the truth. Campbell's claims were conveniently left until after Kalu Rinpoche's death when he could not rebut them. Moreover, she claims nobody else knew of the relationship. As her whole outlandish story served as the basis for her academic career as a screeching feminist, I find the whole thing cynical in the extreme.

    There are sexual yogas in Vajrayana of course, but many if not most practitioners never receive the instructions or practice them with a physical consort. Those that do so typically practice with a wife or husband.
  • edited October 2010
    Dakini;135903 said:
    The psychic phenomena are interesting, but try not to read this as a "sign". For all you know, he may already be involved with some of the other women in the sangha; this is not at all unusual for Tibetan monks/lamas. (They're very good at maintaining secrecy.) They take vows, but few take them seriously. Read June Campbell's "Traveller In Space". She explains what these teachers are really all about, and why. They're very good at putting on a warm and kind face when they want. You don't know if that's who he really is, or not.(Granted, your teacher could be a rare exception, but that's still no reason to get personally involved.) Proceed with utmost caution, or, as one of the other contributors recommended, leave. "Better to be safe than sorry".

    I don't think so! I think the lamas take their vows very seriously, sometimes even at the cost of their lives.

    You shouldn't just believe what June Campbell wrote... anyone can write about anyone who is dead and can't dispute about a 'secret' affair... since it's 'secret', just about everyone-else is barred from disproving it, don't you think... it is just pure exploitation of the situation. She will have to bear any karmic consequences of her actions because Kalu Rinpoche is a bodhisattva on the bhumis... and her slander is very serious... don't jump onto the karmic bandwagon and follow suit by helping to spread her allegations and slanderings...

    no offense meant, but just to caution...:)
  • edited October 2010
    I read the first post and I got something to share from my own experience.

    Last time when I was younger I used to do this love meditatio sort of execercise where I sit down and radiate love to the whole wold and beings on planet earth for about 15 minutes per session for a few days straight. This is a common practice amongst new age people.

    I notice my energy in body change, which will affect my aura. With quite a lot of loving aura when I walk around the street many people have attention to me, esp. young girls. What I feel and think is affecting how they perceive me. Yes, some girls see me as if they have this sort of love at first sight expression on their face, which surprises me (I practice loving kindness, not romantic love).

    I share my side of story so that it helps you to see the other side of the coin.
    From my experience, I'm convince that the lama in the first post is really a loving person who practice love and compassion frequently.

    It's his practice of loving kindness that affects people around him. And one of the side effect, is to arouse the romantic feeling in others.

    Just sharing from my own experience....
  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Veteran
    edited October 2010
    This is so very common ... until we meet a monk, most of us have never experienced unconditional love from another person. Remember that love-kindness and compassion is part of their practice. You are seeing that every time you go to the center. They make give it their full-time effort to love ALL and everyone.

    The only error in your thinking is in believing that you are unique in receiving this love. We all receive it, and we all only see it directed at us. It's the funniest darn thing. Eventually, we gain a bit more insight and stop thinking it's a big deal. Then, we start to try to emulate that love for others that our teacher demonstrates for us. This is the true start of our Practice.
  • edited October 2010
    hi Foiblefull,

    Really agreed. Yes, due to our ego, we always like to think we are the special one. The realised masters' love is quite all-pervasive. If his love is only biased towards you, then you can be sure it is not unconditional true love free from attachment.

    At the same time, i can sympathise with the feeling of grasping very hard at this love that the great masters show. Many of us really do not meet with such love in our normal lives, and when we see it, it is quite natural to wish for more and to cling to it fiercely. But dharma teaches that any clinging will bring pain and suffering. When the master leaves or goes away, one ends up with a quite heart-breaking feeling of desolation or loneliness, but when this happens, we should recognise that we have externalising all our hopes onto the guru. The real guru is in ourselves. The real contentment and love can only be found and arise in our own minds. The guru merely mirrors our innate pristine nature, full of love and wisdom. To really find that kind of fulfilment and love, we must turn within... not be lost in outer circumstances. We should reexamine our motivation for going to the guru, it should be for the dharma to reach inner peace and liberation. Not another external trip.

    It is a difficult lesson to learn and one full of pain. I totally feel for anyone who has to go through it. But the only way is to turn within and learn the lessons from your own mind. In the absence of the guru, use the teachings and practices he gives you as the real way to connect with him. Through practice, one can really connect with the heart and soul of guru in a way that is forever inseparable and the true essence.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited October 2010
    Mantra0 raises an interesting point. Sounds like he has a powerful meditation.

    June Campbell is only one of many dharma women who have been manipulated/coerced into sex or worse (some report being outright assaulted, some even in public in Dharamsala and Bodhgaya). Judging by the reports I've read on the internet and heard directly from some of these women, and by reports from other women who have had to fend off unwanted attention from numerous lamas over the years (myself included), and going by the testimony of the former mayor of Lhasa, a monk who was raised with the Dalai Lama and who described the routine illicit sexual activities of monks in the monasteries, in the Book of Tibetan Elders (see the chapters by Ngawang Narkyid), I don't think it's unreasonable to say that most monks/lamas don't take their vows seriously. Dzongsar Khentse Rinpoche went so far as to say, "Western husbands are naive to send their wives to Asia to study alone with lamas." So apparently we're all naive to think that this is a celibate tradition. He further said, in reponse to the issue of women dharma students complaining of abuse, "Abuse phenomena exist only if you accept transitory phenomena as real. If you don't, then there's nothing to abuse."(In Enlightenment Now) If this is, as the Dalai Lama says, a "religion of kindness", why is abuse coming up for discussion so often? Why are women dharma students not safe studying alone with lamas?

    FYI, Canadian Broadcasting is preparing a documentary on sexual abuse in Tibetan Buddhism as we "speak". One woman who was interviewed said she spent 10 years in India looking high and low for a lama to study with, and never met one who didn't come on to her sexually. One jumped on her at 2:00 in the morning when she was asleep in a guest room in his dharma center.

    I've known several monks who were all sweetness and light, but as soon as the slightest thing went wrong, the glow of loving-kindness suddenly changed to anger. The glow was just for show; they were completely different people in reality. Maybe Pathfinder's monk isn't like that, maybe he's the real deal. Even so, a relationship would be inappropriate. (Dzongsar Khentse has a bit to say about relationships with lamas, see his website, above cited.) Think of it in an academic context; professors don't take celibacy vows, but they're still not supposed to get personal with their students. It's an abuse of authority.
  • edited October 2010
    hi Dakini,

    I won't say everyone is perfect. As a practitioner, we should look at our own faults more than looking at others. Judging others is a sign of arrogance. Do we think we are free from such faults? If not, then why should we demand or expect others to be?

    We shouldn't be expecting monks to be totally free from anger. They are still practising and on the path. They are still subject to the unpurified causes and conditions from past lives as well as karmic debts in past lives. How can we purport to understand what is truly happening in the situation just from outsider's POV?

    When we choose people to be our gurus, we go into it with our eyes open and the teachings always say, choose carefully. If you choose poorly, then it may be your own lack of merit and also your lack of understanding of the teachings. In that case, it would be better to go back and learn more and do more practices to accumulate merits. To meet a genuine teacher and be accepted as his disciple requires great merits accumulated in the past.

    Whether there are any negative examples out there or not, it will not benefit you or others to harp on it and generalise (which will include many monks or masters who are pure and adhering to their vows).

    The only way to get realisation is to hold to pure vows. That there are so many realised masters in the history of Tibet is a sign that they do take their vows seriously.

    If by your comments, you mislead others. Know that this karma is not light and will affect your own life and practice seriously, both in this life and in future lives. The consequences are very far-reaching. I am suggesting this to you out of my own experience of negative perception and speech. It is not that I want to debate with you. Constructive comments that are helpful to others esp in a public forum like this is much more helpful and beneficial to sentient beings. Esp if you are already holding the bodhisattva vows, you should be careful about the effects of your speech and do purification and confession for any negativities you might have created in the past.

    Hope this is helpful

    p/s: according to lama zopa rinpoche,
    "Making mistakes, allowing heresy, anger, or criticism to arise, giving up the virtuous friend: these become the cause for one not to find a guru in future lives. It is said in the Essence of Nectar that it causes one to be unable to hear the sound of the holy Dharma, not to mention being able to find a virtuous friend, and that one becomes impoverished in terms of a virtuous friend in all one’s lifetimes. "
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited October 2010
    Good comments, "Bodhi", good quote from Lama Zopa; I hadn't heard that before.

    The comment re: monks' anger was simply to illustrate that it's best to proceed cautiously, and not assume that the view of himself someone is presenting represents the whole picture. HHDL and many others recommend spending years getting to know a teacher before handing over one's trust, researching the teacher to the extent possible. Good advice.
    For an understanding of the probable cause of young monks' anger see: www.lamashree.org/dalailama_08_childabuse_tibetanbuddhistmonasteries.htm The info presented there has been corroborated in a PBS special series, and by author Tashi Tsering.

    The purpose of discussing abuse issues is to inform the person who initiated this thread of the potential risks involved in the course of action she was considering. Many dharma women have felt mislead by the portrayal of lamas as kind and compassionate (and celibate). It wouldn't be right to remain silent, knowing the suffering that could result from her making the wrong choice. If we see someone about to inadvertently step off a cliff, are we not morally bound to warn them of the imminent danger? Isn't that the compassionate thing to do? Or do we hang back and think to ourselves, "Oh well, it's her karma" or "I don't want to badmouth the cliff"? The more information someone has, the better the choice they can make. And ultimately, the choice is Pathfinder's. Best of luck to her.
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited November 2010
    The Vinaya is the body of monastic rules and traditions binding on every Buddhist monk and nun. The Buddha before his passing away exhorted that the Dhamma and Vinaya will be our guide.
    "The growth of the bhikkhus is to be expected, not their decline, bhikkhus, so long as they assemble frequently and in large numbers; meet and disperse peacefully and attend to the affairs of the Sangha in concord; so long as they appoint no new rules, and do not abolish the existing ones, but proceed in accordance with the code of training (Vinaya) laid down; so long as they show respect, honor, esteem, and veneration towards the elder bhikkhus, those of long standing, long gone forth, the fathers and leaders of the Sangha, and think it worthwhile to listen to them; so long as they do not come under the power of the craving that leads to fresh becoming; so long as they cherish the forest depths for their dwellings; so long as they establish themselves in mindfulness, so that virtuous brethren of the Order who have not come yet might do so, and those already come might live in peace; so long, bhikkhus, as these seven conditions leading to welfare endure among the bhikkhus and the bhikkhus are known for it, their growth is to be expected, not their decline."

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.16.1-6.vaji.html
    The core of the monastic discipline is a list of rules called the Patimokkha. In the bhikkhu-patimokkha (for the monks) there are 227 rules, while in the bhikkhuni-patimokkha (for the nuns) there are 311 rules.

    The four transgressions which incur a Parajika, the penalty of automatic disrobal, are as follows:

    1. Engaging in sexual intercourse with another being of either sex.

    2. Stealing something of value.

    3. Purposely killing a human being or encouraging him or her to commit suicide (this includes inciting another to murder somebody and it also includes convincing a woman to have an abortion.

    4. Boasting that one has realised a high spiritual attainment, knowing that one is lying. For example, claiming to be enlightened, to be Maitreya Buddha, to have entered Jhana (deep meditation-ecstasy) or that one can read minds when one knows that one hasn't reached any of these states.

    Should any monk or nun do any of these then you may know them as no longer holding the status of Buddhist monk or nun. They must disrobe.

    http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books5/Ajahn_Brahm_Vinaya_the_Four_Disrobing_Offences.htm

    This is of course speaking from a Theravadin perspective. The rules are there for a reason imo.

    And yes, a person with lots of metta/unconditional love will have an effect on others including even animals.
  • edited November 2010
    A consort is required for the 3rd initiation in Vajrayana Buddhism.
    Theravadin rules is not relevant here. :)
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Mantra0; it sounds like you have a lot of experience with Vajrayana practices and initiations. Could you explain this requirement of a consort for the 3rd (and presumably higher) initiations? How does that square with the celibacy vows everyone takes? Do the initiates renounce some of their vows? A lot of dharma women are having trouble reconciling the apparent contradiction between what appears to be a celibate tradition, and all the sexual activity that goes on. Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated by many.

    I also don't understand why the rules aren't enforced. Why are all the monks who routinely jump the monastery walls at night to be with women not defrocked? (See above-mentioned testimony by Ngawang Narkyid, Gelug senior monk) According to Jose Cabezon, Buddhism scholar at the U of CA, Santa Cruz, the mutual masturbation technique the monks use is prohibited in the same text prohibiting oral and anal sex. Sexual activity with boys also is prohibited. Each monastery has a monk-in-charge-of-discipline, but these activities are allowed. In fact, according to Lama Shree (see above citation), the disciplinary monks are sometimes the worst offenders in that regard. I don't understand the cavalier attitude toward the rules and vows.

    In Taiwan, monks and nuns live in the same building. For generations, nuns routinely had to endure rapes by the monks at night, until a few years ago, when one nun had had enough, and filed a lawsuit against her monk-tormentor. Why was this state of affairs allowed to perpetuate? (A China scholar friend tells me in Chinese culture, nuns have never been taken seriously, and have always been regarded as "fair game" by monks and lay people alike, for hundreds of years. This doesn't explain the monks' disregard for their vows.) Clearly, reforms are needed throughout the Buddhist world on many levels.
  • NirvanaNirvana Non joiner: __Betteran · than Quiet Places Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Discuss amongst ourselves?

    Pathfinder's Last Activity: 09-14-2010 03:28 PM, according to her Profile.

    But then again, maybe she's just not signing on. Anyhow, just one post on the entire site and we're caught up in our own imaginings and talks. Fun, isn't it?

    Still a very, very worthwhile read. I hope you all carry on.

    For myself, the only argument I take issue with in this thread is the one about the OP perhaps being grasping for love. Does a flower grasp at the sunlight or does it simply open to it and experience it in different conditions of light and warmth?

    No, I just don't see graspingness here. I see life, and life entails liberty and change. A flower unfolds; a grasp is only made possible by a closed fist.
  • edited November 2010
    Dakini;139859 said:
    Mantra0; it sounds like you have a lot of experience with Vajrayana practices and initiations. Could you explain this requirement of a consort for the 3rd (and presumably higher) initiations? How does that square with the celibacy vows everyone takes? Do the initiates renounce some of their vows? A lot of dharma women are having trouble reconciling the apparent contradiction between what appears to be a celibate tradition, and all the sexual activity that goes on. Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated by many.

    I also don't understand why the rules aren't enforced. Why are all the monks who routinely jump the monastery walls at night to be with women not defrocked? (See above-mentioned testimony by Ngawang Narkyid, Gelug senior monk) According to Jose Cabezon, Buddhism scholar at the U of CA, Santa Cruz, the mutual masturbation technique the monks use is prohibited in the same text prohibiting oral and anal sex. Sexual activity with boys also is prohibited. Each monastery has a monk-in-charge-of-discipline, but these activities are allowed. In fact, according to Lama Shree (see above citation), the disciplinary monks are sometimes the worst offenders in that regard. I don't understand the cavalier attitude toward the rules and vows.

    In Taiwan, monks and nuns live in the same building. For generations, nuns routinely had to endure rapes by the monks at night, until a few years ago, when one nun had had enough, and filed a lawsuit against her monk-tormentor. Why was this state of affairs allowed to perpetuate? (A China scholar friend tells me in Chinese culture, nuns have never been taken seriously, and have always been regarded as "fair game" by monks and lay people alike, for hundreds of years. This doesn't explain the monks' disregard for their vows.) Clearly, reforms are needed throughout the Buddhist world on many levels.
    Different school, different teaching, different rules.
    Try showing Samantabhadra pictures to Thai monks and they might be shock at the sexual union pose.

    You can ask why Shiat muslim rule is not enforced on sunni muslim.

    sexual energy is used to enhance the practice. But due to the controversal nature and some danger, it is kept secret.

    3rd initiaition is secret secret secret. Even those who live in the temple might not have the chance to learn it. So I don't have the chance to know exactly what is it.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Right, thanks, Mantra0. I know those initiations are top-secret, and that sexual energy is used to "enhance the practice". (My guess is that the purpose is to raise the Kundalini energy and bring on a bliss state, which in turn, results in spiritual insights. But a sexual practice isn't necessary to raise the Kundalini; there are many celibate ways to achieve that.) I still don't get how this "advanced" practice fits in with a celibate tradition. I read somewhere that there's a "non-celibate path" one can choose, if one is deemed sufficiently prepared. I guess we may never know how the transition from celibate path to non-celibate happens. But it's very confusing to women who choose a guru for meditation guidance or to study texts, and unexpectedly end up being bullied (or charmed, perhaps, in Pathfinder's case...?) into being consorts. (According to some women I've spoken to, they had no idea sex had anything to do with dharma study. I guess that's where the naivete Dzongsar Khentse Rinpoche mentioned comes in.) And there are rules about the requirements consorts must meet; in theory they need to be advanced practitioners, too. In reality, few women who have been chosen meet the criteria. And according to many women's reports, the sex that results has nothing to do with tantric practice, anyway. It's all a bit confusing and ultimately, alarming. Dharma study isn't supposed to cause suffering.
  • edited November 2010
    There seems to be a problem in Vajrayana, stemming from tantric practice. I haven't heard of any incidents between teachers and students in Mahayana or Hinayana. Though there does seem to be an issue involving violence against other women, according to newspaper reports in Asia (the nuns in Taiwan, teen women in temples and quasi-public places in Sri Lanka). Some of this seems to relate to power issues. But...maybe the celibacy thing just doesn't work...? For some, anyway. It's true, violence isn't supposed to be part of Buddhism. Something is amiss....
  • edited November 2010
    Just a few points of clarification:

    Vajrayana has nothing to do per se with celibate monastic traditions. If you read the life stories of the founders of most lineages, they were either yogins or yoginis that lived in the cremation ground or householders in India practicing sexual yogas with physical consorts. You can read this in the lives of Tilopa, Naropa, Niguma, Marpa etc. At a later point these teachings entered the monasteries and the sexual yogas were performed primarily symbolically.

    Lamas are not necessarily celibate monks in any of the Tibetan traditions. That is a misconception, if people really hold that idea. I was never told that they were all monks so I find it a bit boggling that people assume it.

    A physical consort is *not* necessary for the Third Empowerment, it can be visualized or it can otherwise be conferred symbolically. This is not the right place to discuss these things in any case.

    My own root guru was a celibate monk who kept his precepts extremely purely, and he received his ordination from the 16th Karmapa who aside from being a buddha was also a very pure monk. I can't speak to the conduct of the other Tibetan schools, but certainly masturbation is completely unacceptable according to the mulasarvastivadin vinaya which is the monastic code of conduct practiced by them all.

    Anyone who is choosing a guru should know the tradition they are approaching. They should read the lives of the lineage masters. If anyone read the life of Padmasambhava or Niguma, they would realize that not all lamas are monks and that sexual yogas, symbolic or actual can be an important part of the practice.

    You assume that Pathfinder is being "bullied or charmed" because you don't think that sex should ever occur between a student and teacher. That's your opinion, not necessarily hers. While your desire to warn her against the pitfalls of such a relationship is commendable, your repeated hyperbolic statements on the intentions of others you have not met is not. I cannot see how such speculation is anything more than gossip and wrong speech. She does not state that the lama is a monk so it can't be assumed.

    All the best,

    Karma Dorje

    Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Thank you for a great explanation, Karma Dorje, I've been waiting for someone to come up with some inside information. Most Westerners assume the lamas/monks are celibate because they wear robes. Although Sogyal "Rinpoche" didn't, it's true. The OP did mention she assumes her "lama/yogi" was celibate, so the rest of us did as well. HHDL is celibate. It's not an unreasonable assumption. But I'm grateful for this precious explanation, I'm going to circulate it to some of the women I'm in touch with. BTW, the 16th Karmapa had Western consorts, I've read a statement from one of them. He was in the US quite a bit, you know.

    I didn't say Pathfinder was being bullied, but quite a few other women have been. I write about the intentions of others based partly on multiple personal experiences, partly on the experience of other women I'm in touch with or whose testimony I've read; they name names. There's so much secrecy involved in these matters that it's no wonder that most people can't imagine that this or that monk/lama could be involved in such activity. That's the point of the secrecy: to preserve the public image of the monk/lama. I agree this is unpleasant information, but a lot of people have been severely damaged, and I think it's time to try to do something about it, to somehow prevent further suffering. RE: masturbation--monks and former monks have written and spoken on TV about this. Author Tashi Tsering doesn't see anything wrong with it, he considers it just a custom, a "way around a rule". (For some reason, most only consider the prohibition against penetration of orifices, they don't consider the use of a partner's thighs to be prohibited, even though it is.)

    Most Westerners don't understand that a lama can be a non-monk. This is helpful information. How, then, does one become a lama, if not via rising up through monastic studies? As you can see, there are a lot of misconceptions among dharma students. They don't have an intimate knowledge of the system. If they did, maybe they'd have been able to avoid some of these pitfalls. Many of the unfortunate experiences in question occurred in the 70's and 80's, when Vajrayana was very new to the West.

    I've read about the origins of the tantric traditions in India, but didn't understand how that translated into a tradition of celibate monks, other than, obviously, the practice on the symbolic level. Researchers in Germany, by the way, say the Kagyupas and Nyingmapas "speak openly about sexual rituals". They say a lot of German women are not only traumatized, but "psychologically abused" due to the lamas' casting spells on them to prevent them from divulging secrets. I think there's a lot more to this than meets the eye,and more than theory and rules would indicate.

    It was Dzongsar Khentse Rinpoche, not me, who said that Western husbands were naive to allow their wives to study alone with lamas. That's quite a red flag.
  • cazcaz Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Dakini;141005 said:
    Thank you for a great explanation, Karma Dorje, I've been waiting for someone to come up with some inside information. Most Westerners assume the lamas/monks are celibate because they wear robes. Although Sogyal "Rinpoche" didn't, it's true. The OP did mention she assumes her "lama/yogi" was celibate, so the rest of us did as well. HHDL is celibate. It's not an unreasonable assumption. But I'm grateful for this precious explanation, I'm going to circulate it to some of the women I'm in touch with. BTW, the 16th Karmapa had Western consorts, I've read a statement from one of them. He was in the US quite a bit, you know.

    I didn't say Pathfinder was being bullied, but quite a few other women have been. I write about the intentions of others based partly on multiple personal experiences, partly on the experience of other women I'm in touch with or whose testimony I've read; they name names. There's so much secrecy involved in these matters that it's no wonder that most people can't imagine that this or that monk/lama could be involved in such activity. That's the point of the secrecy: to preserve the public image of the monk/lama. I agree this is unpleasant information, but a lot of people have been severely damaged, and I think it's time to try to do something about it, to somehow prevent further suffering. RE: masturbation--monks and former monks have written and spoken on TV about this. Author Tashi Tsering doesn't see anything wrong with it, he considers it just a custom, a "way around a rule". (For some reason, most only consider the prohibition against penetration of orifices, they don't consider the use of a partner's thighs to be prohibited, even though it is.)

    Most Westerners don't understand that a lama can be a non-monk. This is helpful information. How, then, does one become a lama, if not via rising up through monastic studies? As you can see, there are a lot of misconceptions among dharma students. They don't have an intimate knowledge of the system. If they did, maybe they'd have been able to avoid some of these pitfalls. Many of the unfortunate experiences in question occurred in the 70's and 80's, when Vajrayana was very new to the West.

    I've read about the origins of the tantric traditions in India, but didn't understand how that translated into a tradition of celibate monks, other than, obviously, the practice on the symbolic level. Researchers in Germany, by the way, say the Kagyupas and Nyingmapas "speak openly about sexual rituals". They say a lot of German women are not only traumatized, but "psychologically abused" due to the lamas' casting spells on them to prevent them from divulging secrets. I think there's a lot more to this than meets the eye,and more than theory and rules would indicate.

    It was Dzongsar Khentse Rinpoche, not me, who said that Western husbands were naive to allow their wives to study alone with lamas. That's quite a red flag.

    What must be made known is that Within Vajrayana there is what is Known as taking and action Mudra, action mudra is literally sexual embrace, Because of the various practises within Vajrayana that involve the inner winds and channels that are located in practitoners bodies it is only accomplished practitoners whom with permission from their own Guru are allowed to practise ( Or at least are ment to with prior and only prior permission ) These techinques that bring the various Inner winds directly into the central channel. The end result of Buddhahood according to the Vajrayana is the completely purified Subtle Wind and mind which become the basis of the Kayas of a Buddha...Action Mudra is ment to be a skillfull means for advanced practitoners but unsupringly it is abused from here to there by people, It is a sign of the degenerate times we live in. This is why one must always be qualified to practise Vajrayana ( By gaining deep Sutric experience first ) Have perfect teachers whom epitomise morale Discipline in order to avoid such senarios from abusive or manipulative individuals whom could misrepresent actual profound practises as a means for their own sexual gratification. :(
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Thank you, Caz. Very helpful. We're finally getting down to discussing the crux of the problem.
  • edited November 2010
    Well now I have a better idea of why Im a practising Therevada Buddhist, no monk that is having sex with practitioners is enlightened and does not deserve to be followed, in 20 yrs of practise Ive had two experiences with monks that wanted backrubs that may be homosexuality, but they were not respected leaders of the Temple, this idea of Lamas not being monks, Ive never heard of this in years of studying Tibet, 90% of Tibetan lamas are supposed to be celibate, and the ones that are allowed to marry are born into the leadership of the sect. I think it goes without saying that celibate priesthood Buddhism has the same potential for abuse as we see in the Catholic religion, and maybe we are just scratching the surface of things, however these women sleeping with Lamas are adults and should know better, it takes two bad Buddhists to make a sexual union the practitioner and the guru.......

    psThe West attracts the worst Monks and gurus of any religion, the ones after money, fame and sex, things are never as bad in the Asian countries with Buddhism as they are here in America, in my opinion

    sincerely john
  • edited November 2010
    Dakini;139859 said:
    Mantra0; it sounds like you have a lot of experience with Vajrayana practices and initiations. Could you explain this requirement of a consort for the 3rd (and presumably higher) initiations?
    No. The third empowerment relates to awareness and cognition and is a purification ritual. It has nothing to do with a consort of any kind.
    I have received it dozens of times.
  • edited November 2010
    former monk John;142500 said:
    this idea of Lamas not being monks, Ive never heard of this in years of studying Tibet, 90% of Tibetan lamas are supposed to be celibate, and the ones that are allowed to marry are born into the leadership of the sect.
    You must not have been paying attention.
    Celibacy is for monks and nuns and one does not have to be a monk or nun in order to be a lama. Anyone who has received the transmissions and completed the practices associated with them is qualified to be a lama. Lamas are either given authority through their teachers or it happens naturally when students approach them and request instructions.
    The Nyingma tradition in particular is loaded with lama's who are not monks or nuns but are rather ngakpa's.
    Householder lama's are not and never have been rare.
  • edited November 2010
    my exposure is to the sakyapa tradition, non celibate lamas are born into the tradition, and the lay practitioner only has the option to become a celibate monk, not a lama. Although the celibate monks are often called Lamas.

    sincerely john
  • edited November 2010
    former monk John;142624 said:
    my exposure is to the sakyapa tradition, non celibate lamas are born into the tradition, and the lay practitioner only has the option to become a celibate monk, not a lama. Although the celibate monks are often called Lamas.

    sincerely john
    This was true in the Sakya lineage and the Gelug lineage in Tibet. There are now even many Gelug lama's who are not monks. Dont know of many Sakya lama's outside of the primary Sakya family lines who are ngakpa lama's though.
    The Kagyu and Nyingma function differently.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited November 2010
    former monk John;142500 said:
    Well now I have a better idea of why Im a practising Therevada Buddhist, no monk that is having sex with practitioners is enlightened and does not deserve to be followed, ... I think it goes without saying that celibate priesthood Buddhism has the same potential for abuse as we see in the Catholic religion, and maybe we are just scratching the surface of things, however these women sleeping with Lamas are adults and should know better, it takes two bad Buddhists to make a sexual union the practitioner and the guru.......

    psThe West attracts the worst Monks and gurus of any religion, the ones after money, fame and sex, things are never as bad in the Asian countries with Buddhism as they are here in America, in my opinion

    sincerely john

    John, what do you think of non-celibate lamas having sex with practitioners? Just curious.
    RE: women sleeping with lamas. Yes, it takes two to tango. There's a tendency among the women who complain of abuse, though. Many come from family histories of abuse. They don't have normal psychological defenses. When they refuse the lama's overtures, and the lama becomes angry and coercive, they give in. I'm not going to pass judgement on women who've been through, in some cases, horrific childhood stuff. I don't entirely understand why they wouldn't walk out at the first sign of impropriety, nor at the display of anger (clearly no realized being would anger so easily), but I'm told it has to do partly with the fact that they've been told that the lama is a living Buddha, the highest spiritual guide, and has their best interests at heart. Shock and also confusion reign in that type of situation. And they come from coercive and disempowering family experiences.

    RE: the type of teacher the West tends to attract; it seems obvious now that you mention it, but I never thought about it before. I've heard that's starting to happen in Taiwan ($$) and Hong Kong ($$$) as well.
  • edited November 2010
    The veneration and respect that I feel for my Lama stems from the work that he has commited himself to so that authentic Buddist Teachings are avalible to those of us who live in the west.

    I have seen his compassion expressed every time that I attend a Teaching, Enpowernment etc From my personal interation with him, and thru the stories from other members of my Sanga as to help that he has given them in times of great need.

    It is not hero worship or a guru worship mentality, but a logical outgrowth of the respect that is due to him because of the sacrifice and work that he has done and continues to do so that all Beings might someday be free from suffering.
  • NirvanaNirvana Non joiner: __Betteran · than Quiet Places Veteran
    edited November 2010
    The Doctor Donna, this rings true in my own experience, too.

    It's interesting that OP "Pathfinder" made only this one post on NewBuddhist and then left us all alone without remark or further query.

    Hmm...

    The subject matter of this thread especially interests me because the normal Guru-disciple relationship is a well defined two-way street with distinct properties on each side. On the one side (of the Guru's path), Love and Wisdom inseparably flow from the Guru, whereas on the other (the path of the disciple) respect and loyalty are returned to the Guru from the disciple, in exchange for the imperishable gifts received. The Guru will carry you for the rest of your life, even after his death. It's a sacred thread of continuity that cannot be broken unless the disciple so chooses. The disciple is no protégé nor is the guru the "Master." These things are so simply due to the fact that the guru has hundreds of "souls" to watch out for and lift up.

    This is a sacred tradition and attacks on it might very well be based in malice. I've seen a lot of things blown way out of proportion before my very eyes, due to the "sacrifices" people have made not panning out the gold they sought.

    Religion (like cars, wars and sex) makes people go crazy!
  • edited November 2010
    I've been researching the topic of the guru-disciple relationship. The rules in the "old days" (not sure how to define that) were clearly different than now, as the following quotes illustrate. One set of guidelines was written by Patrul Rinpoche, whose life spanned most of the 1800's, in "Words of My Perfect Teacher". (His reincarnation goes by the same name today--don't be confused.) The other set was published sometime in the last 20 years, in "The Teacher-Student Relationship".

    "Although the lama is pleased by three types of service, it is said that the supreme type is the offering of practice. This means persevering in the practice of all the teachings taught by the lama and enduring all hardships. The intermediate way ... is serving your lama by doing whatever he wants you to do with your body, speech and mind. The lowest way ... is by making generous offerings of material things such as food and wealth." -- Patrul Rinpoche

    You can see how the opportunity to take advantage of students can come up, for teachers who are out of their integrity. If some teachers are still presenting the nature of the correct guru-chela relationship this way to some students, and then demanding that they offer their body to the lama, or are aggressively requesting money, that's a problem.
    Contrast the above passage with the one below.

    "...although Naropa, Marpa and Milarepa would offer everything to the lama, including wife, children, his own body, speech and mind, for most students today, these types of offerings are not only not expected, but strongly discouraged." --Jamgon Lodro Taye Rinpoche

    That's pretty clear. I have the impression from concerns raised elsewhere that the 2nd version is not what Western women dharma students are getting when they go to India or Nepal to study with a teacher. I'm not sure exactly what goes on here in the US, but there have been problems here, too. Some of these problems could be avoided by disseminating the latter "policy" to dharma students everywhere, I think.

    It's not clear what the OP's situation is; the heading to her question says, "Guru-disciple love". But in her message, she says she's an anthropologist studying Tibetan Buddhism, and interviewing the teacher in question. So it's not a case of guru-disciple relations, unless she's participating regularly in the sangha. It's not quite clear. We could conclude that since she used the phrase "guru-disciple", that's how she sees her relationship with the lama.

    Do we continue the discussion without her? It's an important question, but I don't know what the rules are.
  • NirvanaNirvana Non joiner: __Betteran · than Quiet Places Veteran
    edited November 2010
    Good manners should be the rules. Constantly, everywhere, and stubbornly persisting in turning every discussion to ones own ends simply is no way to approach the Truth, let alone partake of any iota of it.

    What in tarnation does this sexual lust have to do with the "Romantic Love" the OP talks about? Were the troubadors sexual miscreants? We've all read the OP (emphasis mine):
    Pathfinder;127393 said:
    I attend a Tibetan Buddhist center where I live…
    and there is a lama/yogi there that is genuine, compassionate and loving...
    I feel that I have started to care for him a lot. I still don't know if this is a good or a bad thing though.
    I do see him as my root guru as well but I have realized that I am also romantically attracted to him. I am not, in any way, looking for a relationship though. I know he has probably taken vows and I accept that. I am just there for this fieldwork and to receive teachings from him. He has been very helpful and I feel that we have a lot of mutual respect for each other.

    Since he is so kind to everybody, I have noticed that a lot of the other female practitioners at the center are also attracted to him. And sometimes I wonder if he is aware of it. During this fieldwork, I have heard other women talking about how good-looking and young he is for a lama.

    Every time I come home from the center, I am always so happy and I feel an inner peace that I have never felt in my life before.
    Sorry, this situation just does not fit the bill for what Some wish to rub our faces in. The young lama is universally liked and admired. Also, as no aspersions have been cast by the OP, opening this subject on this thread and inveighing it to such depths is simply out of place.

    Quite frankly, the sophistry (for lack of a kinder word) expressed on this board by proponents of "exposing the Truth of the Widespread Evils of Tibetan Buddhism" has been so exaggerated. To wit:
    Dakini;140315 said:
    You don't have to look far to find criticisms of Buddhism... Few monks/lamas take their vows seriously, it turns out…

    Pathfinder says that she is not looking for any kind of relationship, and of course we cannot take those words too seriously. But on the other hand, perhaps her main hangup was not being able to establish an open, honest relationship with the lama by acknowledging to him her deep attraction to him. It's interesting that the first two respondents to her post picked up on this and encouraged her so to do.

    Afterall —and I know I'm repeating myself from an earlier post about what the OP is essentially seeking, namely, fuller experience of the richness of life. This does not IMO at all necessarily entail a clutching greed:
    Does a flower grasp at the sunlight or does it simply open to it and experience it in different conditions of light and warmth?
    I... don't see graspingness here. I see life... A flower unfolds; a grasp is only made possible by a closed fist.
    Frankly, I think we should close this discussion, as it has degenerated without any guiding light into a mud-slinging fest. If 'twere just one or two threads, 'tmight be tolerable, but when these matters are being dispersed all over the place, it makes me wonder about motives.
    Dakini;141069 said:

    (Are we done with the I, myself, have never spoken to a lama who didn't come on to me in some way thread? Do we want to wrap this up, or start another thread? Anybody there?)[/paraPHRASE]
    Oh, I feel so much better!
Sign In or Register to comment.