Guru Not

H: There is this guru in town (Geshe Michael Roach) who claim to use Buddhism to teach people how to make money. Do you know anything about his guy? Is he orthodox?

J: Actually, he has been kind of denounced by HHDL’s office, partly because he proclaimed some level of enlightenment. Here is more about him: Good to stay clear of his stuff. Even if some parts are okay, some parts might not be. It might not be easy to discern which parts are okay. It’s interesting to note too, that just because he is academically qualified in the right teachings, didn’t guarantee that he is spiritually or morally qualified. This applies to every teacher.

H: It is sad that many of his followers are not aware of Buddha’s true teachings. And I believe he won’t be the last self-proclaimed guru…

Due to two suggestions that the picture of Mike Myers from the movie ‘The Love Guru’ above being disrespectful, which was not the intention, below is an actual picture of Roach (from Wikipedia), with his ex-‘consort’ Christie McNally. They are now not together as ‘spiritual partners’ though they once vowed to never be apart night and day. More about McNally can be seen at NY Times: and May this extra remark show clearly that Roach and Myers are not the same person. Myers is a popular comedian, not to be taken seriously in his movie above. According to NY Post:, Roach also wears suits when he hits the clubs. As such, he might not always appear as below. If you have comments about the external links here, please post them in the corresponding websites instead of here. (If otherwise, they might be deleted due to being off focus.) Thank you.

6 thoughts on “Guru Not

  1. I guess everyone including me, myself and yourself sees what you planted seeds for – even for the dharma and even for the teacher and that is the way karma works, is it not? that is why some guru’s work for some and don’t work for some… :-S :shocked:

    there was no need for even mild sarcasm and the funny pictures of the guru movie in your post – don’t you think that “below the best”

  2. If a person asks you if a well with pure water plus a few drops of poison is okay to drink from, what should we say? Please stay clear.

    Geshe Michael Roach’s teachings and behavior are causing controversy and concern within much of the Buddhist community, due to his sexual relationship with female student (when he is supposed to be celibate), Christie McNally and his unconventional teachings. Recent events have rendered Geshe Michael Roach as “persona non grata” by the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

    If it is more polite to have a proper picture of GMR, please see

  3. May we pray for all affected.
    May all be free from the harm and danger of faulty teachers.
    May all faulty teachers swiftly awaken from their mistakes.
    May all affected students awaken about their faulty teachers’ mistakes.
    May all awaken one another about one another’s mistakes. is enlightening!
    Thank you for the wake-up call.

  4. Reader A: I think u should check yr records before stating anything wrong about geshe michael roach as he has lead millions into findimg their own happiness. Perhaps, its better to b silent.

    Protector: Yes, records were checked, as you can see at Information about him is readily available, and those of the Gelugpa tradition he is from, including HHDL’s office, has denounced him. It is clear. The truth is, even when a person who has helped many starts to make grave mistakes, the mistakes should be highlighted to protect those who are not aware – lest they come to learn and practise wrongly through him. It cannot be assumed that one who had helped many will never harm any. (Just as it cannot be assumed that one who had harmed many will never help any.) To be silent is to passively condone his mistakes, especially when asked about him. It is out of compassion that his mistakes are highlighted. He is unrepentant though, as it seems – which makes it all the more important to highlight the dangers of following him. As an off-tangent example, Hitler was able to climb to great power because many remained silent – even those who knew he was wrong.

    Reader A: when a person succeeds or is successful, there will always be neg parties who will try to tarnish his reputation. apart from talking about DPE & having a partner openly (which I think is a minor flow although it is against the HHDL) i find him to be a wonderful man, able to guide ppl the right way into hving sucess in their lives. On the other hand, there were stories of priests who molests youngs kids and women, those r the stories that need to be told to the public because hey the public need to be aware. i belief we are taught in buddism, what isnt readily known, n since we hvnt really lived under the same roof with them, none of us knows whats bad n whats good. So, in saying so, i would rather remain silent. But yes doubting is good, yet theres absolutely NO NEED to go to extremes. Your ariticle here, it shows the editor has perverse pleasure in discouraging followers or ppl who are curious about geshe-la. but geshe-la he is HARMLESS. he wouldnt harm a fly. and he preaches the right thing, on top of that, he makes its easier to understand buddism, thus the multitude of grateful followers. no, i still believe its better to remain silent, then to just state what some dumb website states.

    Protector: You must understand that he WAS a monk who vowed to be celibate, but he was not – secretly – till it was discovered. And this breaks his monastic vows. How do you truly learn Truth from a liar? Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day though. I hope you respect the Buddhist tradition he is supposed to be from, which takes such precepts VERY seriously – as with many other Buddhist traditions too. Don’t learn Buddhism from one person alone. Open your mind to hear clearly the other sides of the story. Sex for monks meant to be celibate is deemed grave enough a misgiving to no longer qualify to be a monk. On priests who molest (in other religions?), you can tell such cases if you are aware. This is a Buddhist website. It’s an appropriate place to address only Buddhist issues. The article above is not extreme. Which line is perverse? is not a dumb website. If you are open-minded enough to click, read and reflect. The path to truth requires an open mind. It is a link to MANY websites.

    Reader A: i already did, and i think you should attend his talks and retreat before stating yr doubts. as i said before, these r just controversies mentioned on several websites.. and quite frankly i dont give a hoot but what you hv stated is unfair. hv doubts, but investigate by YRSELF in person before stating…

    Protector: Is it possible that ALL these websites are reporting nonsense? Do take your time to read carefully and reflect carefully. Have you investigated yourself – by living under the same roof as him? If you don’t give a hoot to the above, this discussion is pointless. If we cannot discern the truth personally, it makes sense to hear what his peers of his Buddhist tradition says. If GMR is innocent, he should do his best to show why – to his Buddhist teachers especially. There are many ‘wonderful’ teachers out there, who are charismatic, but dangerous. They are called cult leaders. The article is just a warning of possible spiritual danger – of straying away from enlightenment if one learns from him. It does not detail his misgivings like does. You must also realise that the Buddhist tradition clearly forbids anyone to proclaim they are enlightened… especially when they are not. GMR is guilty of claiming to be a Bodhisattva. This is another misgiving that can lead to being expelled.

    Reader A: and btw when you mentioned in yr article sometimes hes teachings are right n sometimes they are not, as in sometimes he follows the right path of buddism and sometimes he doesnt…the teachings in themselves are empty. so if you cant comprehend his teachings, its not entirely his wrong doing is it?

    Protector: The teachings of emptiness in Buddhism does NOT mean anything goes. Please study emptiness properly. The great Nagarjuna mentioned that there is no cure for those who misunderstand the teachings of emptiness. Someone mentioned this, ‘If a person asks you if a well with pure water plus a few drops of poison is okay to drink from, what should we say? Please stay clear.’ Any teacher denounced by his own teachers is someone we have to be careful of.

  5. For some people it’s a blasphemy to say that the dalai lama is empty.
    For the chinese government he ‘s the enemy of the state for others he’s the most compassionate being on earth.
    If he was the most compassionate being from his own side everybody should seem him like that. (I)
    Who’s right who’s wrong ? Ask Arya Nagajurna
    Geshe Michael roach is not an exception.

  6. If one clings to the relative forms of all phenomena,
    one neglects the absolute emptiness of all phenomena.
    One makes forms an eternalistic dogma,
    and forgoes the wisdom of practising non-attachment [of the transient].

    If one clings to the absolute emptiness of all phenomena,
    one neglects the relative forms of all phenomena.
    One makes emptiness a nihilistic dogma,
    and forgoes the compassion of practising virtues [and precepts].

    The Middle Path is to perceive relative and absolute reality simultaneously
    and to function accordingly in each moment,
    without negligence of forms or emptiness,
    with compassion and wisdom.

    Danger Of Clinging To Emptiness

    When a mind of ultimate analysis finds that there is no ‘essence’ in [physical and mental] things [as they are changing from moment to moment, without a substantial fixed nature], this essence is not thereby confirmed as a new type of essence. Therefore, as we gain some understanding of emptiness, we must resist any impulse to reify emptiness itself [i.e. make it ‘concrete’]. To warn of this, Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental Treatise’ says,

    The Conqueror [Buddha] said that emptiness
    Eradicates all dogmatic views;
    As for those who take a dogmatic view of emptiness
    He said that they are incurable.

    Some Tibetan and Western interpreters of the Madhyamaka [Middle View or Way] tradition have [wrongly] taken this to mean that Madhyamaka is a radical form of skepticism in which the correct view (or perspective) is holding no view at all . In this reading, any sort of philosophical view or position is a dogmatic view that can be eradicated by seeing emptiness. Even holding that things are empty of intrinsic nature would then, it seems, be a dogmatic view.

    Lama Tsong-kha-pa disagrees: ‘A dogmatic view of emptiness does not mean taking the view that things are empty of intrinsic nature.’ The view that things are empty of intrinsic nature is the correct way to see things. It is the rare and precious understanding that will allow us to become free. Rather, a dogmatic view of emptiness is a view that reifies emptiness itself, failing to recognize that even emptiness is empty of any intrinsic nature. Having a dogmatic view of emptiness means thinking emptiness as truly existent, viewing it as something special that exists in and of itself… We need to have an understanding of ultimate reality that takes into account that even the ultimate [absolute] reality exists only conventionally [as conventional or relative reality].

    Introduction to Emptiness: Tsong Kha-Pa’s Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path
    Guy Newland

    Are All Outer Evils Projected By Us?

    It is often said that when we perceive others to be evil (i.e. to have misgivings), we are the evil ones, as the evils of the outer world are projected from our inner worlds, from our impure perceptions, and thus not externally ‘real’. For example, when someone gets on our nerves, it could just be that we are impatient. This might make some sense at first, but it is not always the case. If it is always true, to use a extreme example, that Hitler led to the massacre of some 50 million people would mean he is perfectly blameless, because his evil ways were merely projections of those affected. Though such deaths were the unfortunate expressions of their negative karma, Hitler was surely creating immense negative karma by actively choosing to be the means of expression. It is senseless to insist that Hitler did no evil; that the victims ‘did’ them instead.

    How much evil done does it take, for us to realise one to be really evil? Let us hope it is not another 50 million! Though the idea that perceived evils are a reflection of ours is a good way to urge self-reflection before fault-finding with others, this should not be used to rationalise or excuse the actual faults of the guilty, who need self-reflection too, and our addressing, to set things right. Not doing so is to lack compassion for those affected, and to lack wisdom by clinging to delusion. If we believe all who suffer from evil-doers are just foolish victims of their impure perception and karma, we could become apathetic instead of empathetic. Since the workings of their perceptions and karma can be interconnected with ours, we should do our best to halt evil. To not do so when we can is somewhat ‘evil’ too, albeit indirectly, passively.

    Since the Buddha has purified perception, does it mean that he never sees others’ genuine faults? If so, there would have been no need for him to encourage observation of various precepts for both the lay and monastic community. Without crucial moral guidelines, anything goes, chaos ensues and enlightenment would be impossible. It is a sure way of endorsing evil’s proliferation – by letting it go absolutely unchecked! We don’t say the Buddha was ever at fault for his clear perception of unenlightened beings’ faults. Out of compassion, he highlights our faults, so that we can change for the better. Within his equanimous vision, he also has discriminating wisdom, which discerns right from wrong. Without discriminating wisdom, skilful compassion can never be practised properly, and ultimate wisdom can never be realised perfectly.

    Are Teachers Reflections Of Their Students?

    When the student is ready,
    the master appears.
    (When the students wrongly assume they are ready,
    the maras appear.)

    – Zen Saying (extended)

    There is the mistaken notion, that after ‘carefully’ choosing human gurus (spiritual teachers), we should trust them completely, that as all gurus are ‘empty’ in nature, all the good and bad qualities we perceive of them are merely our projections. This idea is wrong on many levels. Because we are not enlightened, the teacher we choose might be unenlightened as well. Thus, if we totally entrust our spirituality to them without question, it could be dangerous. Yet, we have to choose who is worth learning from with the best of our limited wisdom – which we should continually strive to increase. Blind faith in any teacher or teaching is a big no-no, for it is the nemesis of discerning wisdom. True spiritual devotion is towards the perfect wisdom that teachers dispense; not to their imperfect personalities. If any teacher demands the latter, he or she would surely be a faulty self-centred teacher; and not a Dharma-centred one.

    If everything about teachers is projected from the side of the students, this would mean that the teachers would be exactly the same as each student in every way! Of course, this is never the case. If all teachers are not different from their students, the teachers ought to be done away with, for every student might as well simply take their reflections in the mirror to be their own teachers! It is exactly because teachers are supposedly superior in compassion and wisdom that students learn from them. However, the ways teachers are perceived are indeed to some extent dependent on their students’ perceptions. But if they are willing to learn, they learn to be open-minded, by clarifying doubts and clearing bias instead of just stubbornly hanging on to them. When students stop intelligent enquiry though, blind faith in their teachers starts seeping in. They might even aggressively rationalise their teacher’s faults to others.

    Some even use faulty teachings learnt to defend sound criticisms about their teachers, claiming the critics to be biased, when they are the ones who are. Some say that their teachers being criticised only reflects that all teachers, like everything else, are of ‘emptiness’. This is a severely deluded perspective. If everything is of ‘emptiness’, does it mean that anything goes when it comes to conduct and teachings? Why learn anything from any specific teacher then? Some erroneously claim that as their teachers are ‘empty’, if they are seen as erroneous, it is due to erroneous personal perceptions. Surely, when teachers break the precepts, it does not mean that their misconduct is their students’ fault. Sometimes, poor teachers might turn out to have good students, who have better conduct than them! Seeing anyone as ‘empty’ does not absolve that person’s misdeeds or dissolve the possible harms of such mistakes.

    And if all is of ‘emptiness’, why even defend an ‘empty’ teacher from ‘empty’ blame? What is true emptiness in Buddhism? Emptiness refers to mind and matter being subject to change, thus empty of any fixed nature. Some change to be more and more blameworthy though, not always kinder and wiser. Spiritual cultivation is to advance in the right direction of increasing compassion and wisdom. Emptiness does not mean there is no right or wrong, or there would be no wholesome or unwholesome conduct, good or bad karma, and anything goes. Even if some teachers have benefited their students to some extent, where they go wrong, they are still wrong. It is better to address these mistakes sooner than later, before they accumulate in quantity and quality. There are many charismatic but dangerous teachers in our world. Some do become notorious cult leaders when left unchecked by growing followings.

    Once teachers start to make grave mistakes, the mistakes should be highlighted to protect those who are not aware – lest they come to learn and practise wrongly through them. It cannot be assumed that teachers who have once helped many will never harm any, just as it cannot be assumed that one who had harmed many will never help any. To be silent is to passively condone the mistakes, especially when asked about the teacher. It is worse to be blindly defensive. It should be out of compassion for the faulty teachers too, that their mistakes are highlighted. If they are unrepentant, it is all the more important to highlight the dangers of following them. As an extreme example, Hitler was able to climb to great power because many remained silent – even those who knew he was increasingly wrong. In spirituality, beyond physical lives being endangered, mental damage can be terrible and hard to cure.

    The great Nagarjuna unequivocally taught that there is no cure for those who cling to misunderstandings of emptiness. Another seriously warped abuse of ‘emptiness’ is to use it to justify the occasional wrong teachings of teachers, saying that the teachings are ‘empty’ in nature anyway, not fixed. Once again, this means anything goes. One might as well learn how to make the world a better place from Hitler then. Even cult leaders occasionally teach right teachings. The problem is that they are mixed with wrong teachings, that are not easy to sift away. If a someone asks us if a well with pure water plus a few drops of poison is okay to drink from, what should we say? We would advise staying clear. Even a few drops of spiritual poison can lethally corrupt morality and distort truth, capable of killing spiritual life in the long run. And physical life too, in some cases. Think cult mass suicides, that still occasionally occur.

    Faulty teachers teach the Dharma in dangerously lopsided ways. For example, to teach about ‘emptiness’ with little focus on actualising Bodhicitta (the aspiration to guide all beings to liberation) is to assume universal wisdom can be realised without cultivating universal compassion (and moral conduct). In the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha instructed that all Bodhisattvas should not abide in objects of the senses. While not abiding anywhere however, they should give rise to the mind of purity (based on Bodhicitta). (金刚经: 诸菩萨摩诃萨应如是生清净心, 不应住色生心, 不应住声香味触法生心, 应无所住而生其心.) In other words, the Buddha was saying that even as one abides nowhere in particular, by being free within emptiness, one should also give rise to Bodhicitta. Without Bodhicitta, one would not be a Bodhisattva, and can never become a Buddha.

    May all faulty teachers swiftly awaken to their mistakes.
    May all faulty students swiftly awaken to their mistakes.
    May all swiftly awaken one another to one another’s mistakes.

    – A Faulty Student’s Prayer

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    14 Articles on Dharma Teachers
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