to Shamar Rimpoche's [SR] letter
to Mick Brown [MB] and from other sources, it is obvious that
MB's story about the $25,000 donation at 5 th Avenue, NYC is a counter-ploy
conceived to cast aspersion on SR, and undercut his authority. SR
has uttered unambiguous criticisms of Kagyupa lamas who raised funds
by fantastical but dubious means in Taiwan [TW] and Singapore [SGP].
He called them ‘Buddhist charlatans'. Understandably, they got angry
It all began in 1985 at the Karma Kagyu [KK] Centre in SGP when
SR warned a young monk called Tenpei Gyaltsen in front of several
members of the Centre about making claims of spiritual power for
the purpose of ‘fund raising'. This particular Tibetan monk – claiming
authority from SR in recognition of his ‘enlightened' realizations
– would ware a flamboyant Tibetan style jacket of red silk of his
own invention and design when performing his prediction rites, which
consists of eccentric body movements that were special mudras that
could ‘hook sky Garudas' to make the predictions.
explained in front of the gathering, “If you don't stop this kind
of cheating, then it will be contagious one day, and you will be
the cause of the Dharma's ruin.” Heedless, this young monk went
ahead any way after SR had left SGP and – with open advertisement
– managed to make a lot of money in just one night at a hotel. Later
this monk used the money to build a palatial home for himself at
Bodhanath, Kathmandu. Owing to this, the following year in SGP again
SR gave the same warning at a public lecture about Dharma charlatans
but at much greater length. He warned the public lest they too became
unwitting accomplices in bringing disrepute to the Sangha.
has always said that the Taiwanese, Singaporean and Malaysian followers
are particularly gullible to Buddhist charlatans, consequently they
are prone to giving away donations in direct proportion to the latter's
claims, whilst Hong Kong [HK] followers of Tibetan Buddhism are
generally cautious and skeptical of large donations.
cautious character of the HK followers notwithstanding, SR was the
first Tibetan master ever to have taught a Sutra (Alankara Sutra)
at the University of HK. Prior to that, he had also taught the ‘Moon
Beam' commentaries on samadhi meditation to his HK disciples. The
two series of teachings spanned over a period of five years in all.
These teachings are sobriety itself, if nothing else, in stark contrast
to the lucrative instincts of the Buddhist charlatans who practiced
their craft in TW and SGP.
had the opportunity to interview Lama Tashi Wozer, a Taiwanese monk
who had often translated for SR. He told us that the only project
outside of TW that SR had raised funds for was the late 16 th Karmapa's
project in Delhi , namely the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute;
and though SR had met many wealthy patrons he never approached them
individually on matters of providing funds. SR was also well acquainted
with a number of wealthy HK families (of the Sun Hung Kai and the
New World properties companies and the Fok family) for nearly twenty
years, but never had money been involved at anytime in their relationships.
is with deep regret that we have to bring ourselves to recounting
these unsavory and depressing stories about Buddhist charlatans
that have become prevalent since the parinirvana of the late 16
th Karmapa. We wish that they had never happened. Yet, we would
be cowards and silent accomplices if we did nothing while the Dharma
is being corrupted right under our nose. We have no choice but continue
to inform the public of the facts in all their ugliness.
year Situ Rinpoche celebrated his 50 th birthday by throwing a big
party at Sherab Ling Mona stery. Gyaltsab Rinpoche [GR], who was
born in the same year, followed Situ's footstep and celebrated his
own 50 th birthday with another big party this year. Big parties
are nothing out of the ordinary, but the fact is that in the whole
of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition since Songtseng Gampo's time –
more than a thousand years – there has not been a single precedent
for this kind of extravaganza. (It makes one think whether the concept
of ‘mid-life crisis' had not already taken hold of us Tibetans!)
Yet, it had never happened with the 16 th Gyalwa Karmapa nor with
the present Shamar Rimpoche, who is at any rate over this fiftieth
year. But it has happened with these two Kagyupa Lamas, who happen
to be the principals behind the violent takeover of Rumtek Mona
stery eleven years ago – could these be a mere coincidence? At any
event, they received thousands of dollars from their well-wishers
during these celebrations.
to return to Lamas' fund raising: Generally speaking, it has been
fairly common knowledge amongst Singaporean and Taiwanese KK followers
that, if at all possible, SR would avoid visiting Taiwan in order
to distance himself from the odor of corruption. His reluctance
is in stark contrast to Thrangu, Situ and Gyltsab Rinpoches' love
of TW. These Rinpoches had many novel ways of attracting donors.
The following story was recounted to us by Hannah Nydahl of Denmark,
a regular translator for GR and Tenga and Jamgon Rinpoches from
1982 to 1992 in both Europe and Asia :
the mid-80's GR had brought thousands of miniature phurbas (ritual
triangular daggers) to TW. What was so ‘special' about these little
daggers was GR's claim that he saw them ‘dancing' while he was consecrating
them. No wonder, these phurbas were slapped up in no time.
The novelty did not stop here: Equally extraordinary was the sort
of prices that were being fetched up by Situ Rinpoche's one-stroke
sacred syllable calligraphic paintings, sold for upwards of US$5,000
a piece. Their value of course is not judged by the quality of the
ink or the time expended on these master pieces, but rather on their
‘special' efficaciousness or potency. If this sort of thing is acceptable
or even popular by Taiwanese standards, it would be significant
to note here that SR had never even tried anything remotely similar.
that extraordinary in fund-raising terms would definitely not pass
unnoticed for long. Consequently, due to the ‘news' value of these
charlatans, words soon began to circulate in the Himalayan Buddhist
circles or among genuine teachers of Tibetan Buddhism - whether
within KK or among the other schools – and praises could be heard
on SR's simplicity of character and his strong opposition to the
corrupt practice of selling the Dharma for profits.
is therefore not surprising in these circumstances that Situ Rinpoche's
party would react with jealousy and wrath.
when all the facts are located in their proper contexts, it becomes
clear that MB's various claims are nothing but a desperate attempt
to sweeten the deceits of Situ and party, to drag SR to their level
and neutralize his good standing amongst the self-respecting Tibetan
and Bhutanese circles.
all the above facts, it is plain that SR is a far cry from all those
unscrupulous lamas who had shipped home their ill-gotten millions
in order to inflate their power and glory. In sharp contrast to
these inequities, SR had voluntarily channeled most of his offerings
in his few TW visits to the building of a monastery at Fwa-lien,
as he said, “for the benefit and Dharma study of the Taiwanese people.”
Only SR has done anything like that to-date. The monastery at Fwa-lien
was started in 1997 and completed in 2003.
have a copy of SR's letter to MB, which we reproduce here. From
it we know that SR had asked MB to disclose the name of the ‘western
devotee', the alledged witness, or the name of the innocent ‘wealthy
sponsor' whom “ ‘he [ SR ] extracted this $25,000 donation,
just like that.' ”
MB's honor is at stake as a result of SR's demand-to-know, he would
surely lose no time to supply the name(s) concerned. So far MB has
not responded. But, if the alleged donation was part of a well concerted
smear campaign directed against SR, (no doubt under direction of
SR's more important enemies) then MB would have no trouble in the
circumstances but remain silent whilst pretending that he could
and should ignore SR, whose reputation he had thrown into jeopardy,
“just like that.” We call on MB to provide those names.
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