Enlightened Fleaing

Written by Rob Hogendoorn

1 minute

After it was first published that Ösel Tendzin, the ‘Vajra Regent’ appointed by Chögyam Trungpa, sexually abused his devotees and infected them with AIDS, Kalu Rinpoche († 1989) instructed Dharmadhatu’s flock in Los Angeles.

Listen closely to the fragment that starts at 14.30 mins. Kalu proposes that it’s the work of government agencies rather than practicing Buddhists to determine whether other Buddhist teachers and their devotees are harming others. Kalu spoke out against publicising such harm, for ‘the purpose of our organization is to be of help to others.’

Kalu’s compartmentalisation all but denies the fact that Buddhists are citizens under the rule of law too, and may be legally bound to report the crimes they’re privy to. Note the mocking metaphor with which Kalu frames Buddhists’ discussion of Ösel Tendzin’s behaviour, and the flippant way in which he reduces it to ‘a distraction within our meditation practice.’

For a further discussion of Kalu’s instructions, see this article. Supposedly super-enlightened and hyper-compassionate himself, Kalu continued to endorse both the abusive Trungpa and Tendzin until his last.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoché did the same. Public endorsements by high Tibetan Lamas are typically and unabashedly transactional. Once given, they’re irretractable, since this would call into question the enlightened nature of their judgement of character.

And so, an express blanket warning against high Tibetan Lamas’ hearty commendations of each other is warranted. Think of them as enlightened fleaing or grooming: ‘You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’.

Originally posted as a long-Tweet on August 28, 2022.

About the author

Rob Hogendoorn

Investigative reporter and academic researcher Rob Hogendoorn (b. 1964) began researching the reception of Buddhism in Western society and culture in the early 1990s. His modus operandi remained the same ever since: independent, inquisitive and provocative.