Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Am I in a Tantric Teaching?

(used with permission from the author)

I sat in shock while staring at a painting of a Buddha sitting in meditation position with a nude woman on his lap that was on my spiritual teacher’s website. “Am I in a Tantric sex teaching?” I thought, “How can anyone display a Buddha in such a degrading position since he advocated celibacy?

I had joined a Tibetan sect a few months ago after knowing my teacher for 9 months. He was the first spiritual teacher that I had that spent a lot of time with me by answering all of my spiritual questions and even giving me lessons that my husband and I both enjoyed. I was now only on the second lesson and by now had taken Refuge in the Buddha. This teacher was also sweet, kind, intelligent, and compassionate, so how could this be? And yet I had read The Guru Papers, I knew that gurus could be charming, could have all of these qualities, so it was no surprise really.  Little did I know as I do now that the tantric teachings come from the Tibetan Buddhists, but somehow I knew that also, because years ago I had read, The Shadow of the Dalai Lama, but I thought that his tradition was different? And really that was about 8 years ago, and I had forgotten. It just goes to show that past research doesn’t always help a person to stay out of negative religions, because like I said, I had forgotten all that I had read.

I remember telling my teacher before I accepted him that I didn’t like gurus because of my bad experiences with them in the past, they were harsh and had sexual relations with women, and he said that he understood. Why then did he think it would be any different with him? Even if he wasn't harsh or didn't have sex with men or women, why would it be any different? Why did he think that I would accept the tantras?

I emailed him immediately after seeing the painting, and in an accusing way, I asked, “Am I in a Tantric sex religion? He let me know that the painting was not sexual, that it only symbolized the union of wisdom with compassion. I was not satisfied. There are other ways to represent union of wisdom and compassion. So I began to ask other Buddhists about it, and few seemed to be bothered by this imagine and some said the same thing as my teacher. I even asked a Zen teacher about it, and he wrote back, “That photo is derived from Tibet or Tantric Buddhist.”

I kept doing research on the internet and thought to check out my teacher’s linage's website, and it was then that I learned that his tradition teaches the Kalachakra Tantra. How did I miss this before and what does that mean? I think when I saw in it one of my teacher's books I translated it as "suttra" in my mind instead of "tantra." So I continued researching and typed in kalachakra tantra and found the free online book, The Shadow of the Dalai Lama, and it was there where I found the painting that had shocked me as well as a discussion of the Kalachakra that opened my eyes once again. But then some Tibetan Buddhists said that the Trimondis, who wrote this online book, were all wrong. So I found a book on Amazon, The Commentary of the Kalachakra Tantra, that was mentioned in the Trimondis website. I would see for myself if it was taken out of context as claimed. The author of the Commentary had been a Tibetan lama and had come to America, surely no one could refute him, and they didn’t when I brought it up.

In the meantime, I wrote my teacher again and told him that I knew that he taught the Kalachakra Tantra and that I quit because I knew that it was sexual. He wrote me a long NO letter saying that he doesn’t teach it the way the Dalai Lama taught it, that there are no visualizations, no consorts, and that my sources from various places were all wrong. And then he said that he would send me the Kalachakra initiation handbook, and I could see for myself. 

I thought about it, and realized maybe he is telling me the truth, so I wrote back telling him to not send the initiation booklet, but it was already in the mail. In the meantime, the Commentary book arrived, and I spent two days pouring over it, underlining passages in pencil. It was hard to read due to the nature of the content. I was seeing a Buddhism that was so different from anything I had learned, and that was very disturbing to me.
And there was no way that anyone could see it as not pertaining to sex. Even the “Bodhichitta” definition of compassion had a hidden meaning, a code for "semen." Other Buddhist words were also decoded, such as “lotus” was the “vagina.” And the chant, "Om mani Padme Hum," well, "mani" refers to the tip of the penis, and "padme" refers to the "vagina." Since Bodhicitta" refers to sperm, "mani" (in the prayer, Om mani padma hum) means "jewel", a symbol for the tip of the penis, and "padma" means "lotus", which is a symbol for the vagina.  So Om mani padma hum changes meaning according to context.  As an ordinary prayer, it means "the jewel in the lotus". In the esoteric sex rituals, it means....well, I'm sure you can figure it out.

While reading all of this I also realized that I was losing yet another teacher, one that I liked who was a excellent teacher as well, but I could not accept that Buddha taught this as the Tibetan Buddhists claimed.

In the meantime I wrote to Stephen Batchelor after reading, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist and learning that he had been a student of the Dalai Lama, as had my teacher. He wrote back:

Dear (name withheld),

I’ve not read the whole of the Trimondi book – it was written in German years ago, but never published in English.  No one I know takes it seriously.  However, all higher yoga tantras, including the Kalachakra, contain sexual practices, but these are only supposed to be undertaken after years of training.  But, of course, some teachers use them as a justification to gain sexual favours from students.  So be careful.

Warmly, Stephen

Why couldn’t my own teacher be just as honest? Did he think that I was too stupid to do research? Why didn’t he tell me before I joined since he knew that I left gurus when I learned of their sexual indiscretions? Not that I am saying that he is practicing these teachings the way they are presented in the book, because I don't know.

In the meantime, the initiation from my teacher came in the mail, and I read it. There was nothing in it that would cause me to think that tantric sex was taught, but when I thought about it I realized that initiations don’t have the meditation practice in them, after all, I have had initiation in the past from gurus and one Zen Master, so I know that practices are not included.

And so I then checked out his lineage's website again, this time very thoroughly, and the teachings mentioned, "retention of semen". In order to retain semen you have to either visualize sex or have sex. In other words, you have to get it up to hold be able to retain it.

So I wrote him back: “There was nothing in the initiation that you sent that bothered me, but I have found a copy of the Kalachakra Tantra, and I have read it. I do not believe that Buddha ever taught this, and so I am leaving. He wrote back agreeing it was best.

Since then I continued my research. What I am finding has been hard to take at times, but it feels necessary for me to warn others that there is abuse in lama traditions, not by all, but enough to cause someone to have a red flag come up. But if this is what people want, then who am I to judge? But what happens, so women have told me since then, is that they have no idea that they are even in a tantric teaching until after they have learned to love and trust their teacher and he begins to come on to them. Some sooner than others. It should be a law that anyone who joins Tibetan Buddhism should also be told about these practices beforehand.

Submitted by GU


  1. T.K.Jul 5, 2011 11:39 PM
    Josey, I fw this comment to you:

    T.K. and Josey, you two are both great!
    T.k.'s comprehension of orthodox Buddhism excels most Buddhists around the world. And I do admire T.K.’s invincible courage to step forward and set up this website, T.K. is a bodhisattva as well, perhaps this is T.K.’s life mission on earth.
    As for Josey, if you're truly interested in Buddhism, read Shalom Tseng's posts repeatedly regarding cultivation methods, even if you cannot understand (only a very few would understand), your Alaya vijnana will store the pertinent data, when your moment comes, you certainly will be connected to the Buddha Dharma. Make the best of what you've learnt, there is no need to waste any more energy on the past experience. Let bygones be bygones. We live in the Desire Realm, and it’s so easy that we are drowned by constant emotions, we just have to move forward steadily, and this is your very first step towards Buddhist cultivation---eliminating your strong attachment to self-belongings. (Self-belongings refer to: apart from your physical body and mind, whatever belongs to you, your sensations, your fame, your fortunes, your beloved ones etc., since these worldly elements will draw us back to this desire realm --- this is the idea for the very beginner of the Liberation-Way; the Buddhahood-Way has a different concept, but it’s too complicated for you right now.)
    Good luck to both of you. T.K. and Josey are courageous!

    p.s.: 1. For your reference, if I may point out that due to the revision of “Kalu Rinpoche, head of the Kagyu Sect,” the “True Heart News” has updated its March 26, 2011 article “A space in pagoda of urn…..” and June 09, 2011 article “Does the Couple-Practice Tantra of……”
    2. I learned that I am able to get in by using anonym.

    6. Juli 2011 13:36

  2. T.K.Jul 8, 2011 03:29 AM
    Hear the sound of your heart. There is a straight way, one of peace and spiritual growth. One day you will find yourself, on the straight way, a way you have taken.

    warm wishes ^^


  3. 正欣Sep 4, 2011 07:59 PM
    Hi Josey!
    You are great!

  4. The devil said before the Buddha's enlightenment " Good After you make your enlightenment I wear your clothes , eat your meal (and) break your Buddhist " Lamaism is this thing.

  5. Hey, check this out, on DhaRmawheel: under Dharma Free-for-All: Topic "Renunciation--Impossible?" pg.5

    Take a look at Namdrol's post. He says the reason for secrecy in Vajrayana is so the public (meaning Tibetans) won't criticize monks. Mahayana monks have different vows than Hinayana, blah blah, then he says all TB monks are Vajrayana practitioners, they've all vowed to use sensory gratification as a path, so the outer appearance of the robes implying renunciation is just for show, he says!!

    In other words, just what we were saying on the Sogyal/abuse thread, the celibacy is fake! Namdrol came out and said it!

  6. Lopon Namdrol is the Lama's name.

  7. This is wild. I looked up the comment mentioned above--finally, the truth is out! Here are the key elements:

    "The reason why the conduct of a Tibetan monk is kept secret from lay people is so that lay people will not criticize monks. ... part of the reason for this is that all Tibetan monks are Vajrayana monks, and so if their conduct seems to be not in keeping with Hinayana vows, they might get into trouble. Vajrayana monks are not under the same restrictions as Hinayana monks.

    When one understands the fundamental principle of Vajrayana conduct is to engage sense objects and enjoy them for one's own pleasure, it changes the game of how one understands a Vajrayana monastic's conduct. The monastic thing is merely an outer show. It's not the essence of the practice."

    I've followed this Western lama's comments on the above forum, and last year, when the Vajrayana tradition was under attack for being abusive to women, he insisted that the highest tantric practices were rarely taught. Now he's changed his tune completely, and seems to be saying that all Vajrayana monks take a vow to engage in sensory pleasure. If the Tibetan community heard this, they would cry slander! And he's right--they do criticize monks who pay Tibetan girls for sex, and tulkus who surround themselves with women at night. This is a religion that is set up for scandal.