Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

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Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:44 pm

http://www.american-buddha.com/tids.htm

TANTRA-INDUCED DELUSIONAL SYNDROME ("TIDS")

by Charles Carreon

TIDS: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome


Abstract
Taking clinical note of the increased manifestation of acute and chronic delusional ideation among practicioners of tantra, a new entry for DSM-V is proposed: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome (“TIDS”). Currently, enthusiasm for tantra is high among mental health professionals seeking alternative analytical and therapeutic models, and critical awareness is correspondingly low. This article, authored not by a mental-health professional, but rather by an attorney with extensive experience with tantric lifestyles, focuses on the case histories of three American tantric teachers who manifested destructive delusional behavior. The article identifies the risk-promoting character of tantric doctrine as the etiological root of their pathology, considers how delusional pathology transfers to tantric students, and describes the social dynamics of guru-dominated communities as potential breeding grounds for self-reinforcing delusional behavior. The article proposes three types of TIDS, “Guru-side,” “Student-side,” and “Transitional,” and suggests treatment modalities.

Tantra, A Risk-Promoting Spiritual Path

Tantra originated in India during an indistinct time period in the second millennium B.C., as a spiritual style that infused virtually all Indian religions, including the Vedic, Jain and Buddhist traditions, with colorful, imaginative characteristics. Once tantra touches a spiritual path, it is irrevocably reshaped into a path that extols the virtues of risk-taking and focuses on attracting students with an appetite for drama and excitement. Buddhist tantra bears little similarity to the original teachings of the Buddha who was born in Lumbini, enlightened at Bodhgaya, and founded the world’s largest and most enduring monastic brotherhood. The original Buddhists engaged in simple meditation practices to clear the mind and still the passions, Tibetan “Vajrayana” Buddhists practice magical rituals in which they invoke a “tutelary deity” through the use of a “seed mantra” and cognize themselves as “emanations” of this divine being, residing in an alternate universe where all sounds are the divine mantra, and all thoughts are divine wisdom. Although the Buddha disclaimed guru status and advised his devotees to “work out their own salvation with diligence,” Vajrayana Buddhists venerate their gurus extravagantly, literally believing them to be infallible and more important than the historical Buddha.

While there are no doubt legitimate manifestations of tantra, it always proceeds on the basis of postulates, not on the basis of introspection or subjective observations. Several tantric postulates make the tantric path attractive to spiritual strivers:

· The nature of ordinary existence is divine;

· The divine nature is concealed by the passions;

· Wisdom is revealed by transmutation of the passions;

· The guru has the power to transmute the passions; and,

· Rejecting the guru’s grace is the path to self-destruction.



The passions referred to in these postulates are all emotional and intellectual distortions of “clear perception,” including the core attachment to one’s own self-identity. Thus, when presented to beginners as a dualistic, either-or approach to enlightenment, the door to dangerous misunderstandings is flung wide open. Ironically, the tantric path is often made more attractive to risk-takers by the outright declaration that it is dangerous, like a steep climb up a cliff, compared with the slow and steady ascent pursued by stodgier practicioners.

Teachers and Students Enable Each Other

In modern-day America, “tantra” is often taught by virtual neophytes encouraged by traditional tantric teachers eager to seed new soil with their doctrine. Presented with the opportunity to play the guru, many of these newly-minted give in to the opportunity to exploit their students, and thus fall victim to the first danger of which serious tantric teachers give warning – the seduction of worldly power. Students who start off as bohemian rebels and non-conformists easily fall under the spell of tantric teachers who strut like fast-buck artists, adopt tough-guy personas, and exude an air of the-devil-may-care. Ironically, they may soon find themselves in the clutches of a psychology familiar to habitués of the bondage and domination scene.

Modern tantric teachers set about magnetizing a “mandala of students” who find their own individual reasons to adopt and spread the belief that they have established contact with a genuine tantric guru. Once a sufficient critical mass of students adopts this belief, it sets in motion a whirlpool of self-reinforcing behavior that exerts the psychological gravitational force of a black hole, sucking in large numbers of vulnerable souls. The community of Student-side TIDS sufferers reinforce each others’ mental enslavement through a shared, self-perpetuating delusion. Mid-level managers of the community primarily suffer from Transitional TIDS, a tense condition alternating between pride at being a community insider and anxious fear of exposure and humiliation. At the apex of this pyramid of misery sits the proliferator of the scheme, immersed in the psychotic pleasure of Guru-side TIDS.

Guru-side TIDS

In this article, which is but a preliminary foray into a promising field of diagnostic research, three case studies provide the basis for our hypothesis that Guru-side TIDS is a particularized psychological disorder -- Thomas Rich (Osel Tendzin), Catherine Burroughs (Jetsunma), and Franklin Jones (Adi Da Samraj). As these cases reveal, Guru-side TIDS is definitively a predatory, antisocial pathology that sometimes assumes criminal proportions and leads to devastating consequences.

Thomas Rich

Rich’s ascent to the status of Tantric guru was facilitated by his own tantric teacher, the once-legendary enfant terrible of Tibetan Buddhism, Chogyam Trungpa. Trungpa, the author of “Born In Tibet,” and many other books, was enthroned in early childhood as the Eleventh Trungpa Tulku of Surmang Monastery in a remote region of Tibet. Trungpa established the Vajradhatu organization in Boulder, Colorado, and prior to his death, pronounced Rich to be his Vajra Regent, to rule in his stead after Trungpa’s death and until the birth of the Twelfth incarnation of Trungpa Tulku.

Trungpa himself had been a famous drunkard and womanizer, as well as a talented poet and magnetic personality. Rich attempted to behave similarly. Tragically, Rich suffered not only from Guru-side TIDS, but also from AIDS. Not long after Trungpa’s death, he embarked on a series of sexual escapades and engaged in unprotected sex with several students. The reason? Due to TIDS-caused delusions, Tendzin believed that his bodily fluids did not transmit the disease. As a result at least one student and his female partner died of the lethal virus.

The conduct of Rich’s devoted students was equally reprehensible and casts a harsh light on the behavior of Transitional TIDS victims, the middle-managers of the dysfunctional Vajradhatu dynasty. Although many of Trungpa’s closest students were writers and artists, including the renowned poet Alan Ginsberg, and the Vajradhatu had its own newspaper, The Vajradhatu Sun, the entire matter of the AIDS deaths was hushed up, and never discussed openly by the cult leaders. Rich’s personal criminal misconduct was covered up, and legal protections against lawsuits by the victims were adopted in a corporate reorganization that downplayed Trungpa’s legacy and changed the name of the cult from Vajradhatu to Shambhala. In her biography, Trungpa’s wife has claimed Trungpa regretted appointing Rich his Regent, but failed to take action to disempower him. Since Trungpa, decimated by alcoholism, was barely able to relieve himself without assistance at the end of his life, it is not surprising that he was unable to disarm the time bomb he’d unleashed on his students. A man named Patrick Sweeney continues to gnaw the cud of the disgraced Regent, claiming to be his “dharma heir,” and operating the Satdharma group under those questionable auspices.

Catherine Burroughs

Catherine Burroughs began her career as a garden-variety psychic medium who purported to “channel” the spirits of wisdom teachers who had long ago departed this earth. Operating from her suburban lair near Washington, D.C., Burroughs tapped the manic energy that drives the over-achieving technocrats and hyperactive communicators who swarm through the bureaucratic warrens of the nation’s capital. Gifted with a knack for giving orders, Burroughs imposed heavy demands on her followers, pressing them into keeping a twenty-four hour world peace vigil that induced heavy competition among her devotees.

Burroughs’ transformation to Guru-hood was also accomplished with the aid of a Tibetan lama, who was wowed by her ability to maintain a stable of high-achieving, top-dollar donating students. Gyatrul Rinpoche, a Vajrayana teacher of the Nyingma sect who had established his own temple near Ashland, Oregon, endorsed Burroughs as a tulku, a reincarnated Bodhisattva, or “Hero of Enlightenment.” Burroughs saw the opening, and quickly negotiated a merger of her people skills with the established cachet of the two-thousand year-old Vajrayana brand, assuming the name of Jetsun Akhon Norbu Lhamo, and redecorating her temple with a blend of traditional Tibetan imagery and New Age crystals. “Jetsunma,” as she came to be familiarly known, assumed her place on the traditional lama’s throne, donned resplendent brocade robes, and doffed the peaked “lotus hat” that lamas wear on ceremonial occasions. The effect would have been silly if anyone with ordinary sensibilities had been able to view the proceedings; but by then the critical mass of Student-side TIDS sufferers had generated a field of delusive glamour, and Burroughs’ unabashed self-love conquered all hearts. For a while.

As her authority grew unchecked, her antisocial inclinations and intolerance with dissent waxed ever more virulent. Burroughs’ demands for money and power crescendoed in a rampage of bizarre behavior that included serial marriages to several students twenty years her junior, rapacious financial exploitation of her flock, and culminated in her arrest by the Maryland State Police for battery on a young nun. Shortly thereafter, Burroughs moved to Sedona, Arizona, and in almost clichéd fashion, Burroughs predicted a series of “earth catastrophes” that failed to take place in 1999.

Franklin Jones

Jones was once a handsome young writer with a Masters in English from Stanford. After serving his apprenticeship with the two tantric gurus Rudrananda and Muktananda, he assembled his own flock of sycophants. A prolific writer blessed with the gift of gab, Jones’ spiritual opus, “The Knee of Listening,” became a staple on the bookshelves of hippies inclined to philosophical nattering. Starting out in Los Angeles, he took advantage of the drug culture in the sixties to induct young, beautiful women into his cult. Jones’ story gives us insight into one of the important methods of inducing Student-side TIDS among followers. It is axiomatic that women will perceive any man as dominant who commands the devotion of all other men. Jones conquered women by surrounding himself with subservient male devotees. During all-night drug and drinking parties, Jones would deploy his male devotees to separate women from their boyfriends or husbands. Jones would then make his move on the new woman. By morning, she would have discovered a new form of bliss in the arms of the guru, and her ordinary lover would have his ego reduced to the size of a pin. Unable to leave his woman behind, and equally unable to argue her away from Jones, the cuckolded man would often become a new devotee. Thus Jones acquired two TIDS victims for the price of one.

In 1985, Jones’ abuse of his devotees exploded in the national press and a he settled a string of lawsuits that alleged what was widely-known in hippie society – that his “communities” were parasitic projects that enriched him with sex, money and power, leaving his devotees psychologically and financially deprived. He bought a small island in Fiji from actor Raymond Burr and moved there with a clutch of disciples whose fate it was to explore the heart of darkness.

Over the years, Jones extracted enough wealth from his devotees to sustain a remarkably self-indulgent lifestyle, toward the end of which he was able to pose as a visual artist who integrated digital photography with monumental aluminum installations that were displayed in Italy and praised by a stable of pet intellectuals in fatuous post-modern style: “It is Adi Da Samraj’s imaginative triumph to have conveyed the illusions created by discrepant points of view and the emotionally liberating effect when they aesthetically unite in the psyche of the shocked perceiver.”

Until the end of his life in November 2007, by way of singing for his supper, Jones continued to emit his original spiritual prose stylings: "I Am The Perfectly Subjective Divine Person, Self-Manifested As The Ruchira Avatar—Who Is The First, The Last, and The Only Adept-Realizer, Adept-Revealer, and Adept-Revelation of The Seventh Stage of Life.”

For several days after his death, Jones’ devotees entertained the notion that he might “wake up” from a fatal heart attack, a notion that they apparently abandoned reluctantly, presumably when the odor of putrefaction became evident. Even the most slavish student-side TIDS sufferers will be forced to admit, after a decent interval, that the guru’s shit admittedly stinks.

Student-side TIDS

Student-side TIDS can develop after relatively brief immersion in a Tantric guru-student relationship. The roots of Student-side TIDS lie in the student’s feeling that they are missing out on the truly miraculous character of a world they believe exists, but are unable to contact. They may have experienced, through drugs, romantic adventures, travel or other emotional stimulants, a sense that life has occasionally parted the veil and allows them to glimpse a magical universe, and that if they could establish a connection with this other realm, they could escape the dull reality in which they feel themselves confined. Tantra is generally not for those students who are comfortable with sustained intellectual effort in pursuit of spiritual awareness. However, it often attracts those fond of mastering an arcane vocabulary, esoteric symbols, and a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Spiritual seekers drawn to tantra share some of the psychological traits of compulsive gamblers, who have an unshakeable faith in their unique luck, and a passionate desire to harvest outsized rewards.

Students of tantric teachers often suffer from a derogatory self-image, and seek to ally themselves with the glamour emanating from the guru. Inclined to believe in their own specialness, but convinced that they cannot achieve transcendence by their own efforts, they place their faith in esoteric traditions that hold the promise of revealing secret knowledge. Tantric teachers whipsaw students emotionally by alternately deriding them for their emotional and intellectual efforts, teasingly making a show of effortless transcendence, then accusing them savagely for being unable to make the petty sacrifices of time and money that would demonstrate the sincerity of their devotion. Tantric teachers also use standard methods of breaking down social conditioning and inducing dependence on the tantric teacher by requiring participation in lengthy rituals and practices, demanding that they render personal services to the teacher and his family, and doling out humiliation as if it were a blessing. Sleep deprivation and rote repetitions of ritual acts also serve to deaden mental acuity and induce an undiscerning mental state in which a fog of confusion can be recharacterized as a sense of removal from worldly attachment. In the tantric environment, all activities and events are re-imagined as sacred portents and harbingers of blessings or misfortune. Nothing that happens in the “mandala” is ever ordinary, thus life becomes charged with imputed significance.

The net result of the tantric milieu is to institutionalize a groupthink founded on individual helplessness and total dependence on the guru. Individually, this may deepen into self-hate, an obsession with the person of the guru, performance of acts of extreme self-sacrifice to obtain approval from the guru, and even the veneration of the guru's physical detritus, i.e., nail and hair clippings. Student-side TIDS may induce bouts of acute anxiety alternating with depression, episodic flights from reality characterized by transient ecstasy and self-deification, compulsive meditative or devotional behavior, and the nagging fear of damnation, referred to in tantric circles as "Vajra Hell."

Student-side TIDS also takes on various apparently benign forms, that manifest in persons with a bland personality or low intellectual vitality, who feel best when kept in a low position without hope of advancement. People who avoid challenges and suffer anxiety primarily when presented with changes of routine may find Student-side TIDS to be a perfect refuge from the rigors of ordinary life. When combined with the narcotic effect of mantra recitation and avoidance of troubling discursive thought, the result can be the formation of a personality happily uninterested in the various pursuits that comprise the elements of an ordinary, satisfying life, such as relationships with other people, having children, a satisfying career, or aesthetic and intellectual activities.

Transitional TIDS

Transitional TIDS develops in some victims of Student-TIDS after a long period of earnest striving to earn the favor of the guru. Transitional TIDS emerges only when fertilized by encouragement from the guru, and is characterized by feelings of superiority, identification with the dominating image of the guru, and confidence that one will in fact attain guru status. Transitional-TIDS sufferers assume the role of go-betweens in the TIDS community, transmitting messages to and from the guru, arranging monetary transfers, and helping Student TIDS victims to establish their credentials. Transitional TIDS often manisfests in subtle and gross anti-social predatory behavior typical of those afflicted by Guru-TIDS. Transitional TIDS usually develops into a cyclic pattern in which the characteristics of Student-TIDS, i.e., ambitious hope and low self image, alternate with the manic character of Guru-TIDS, i.e., self-deification and megalomania, creating a alternating vortex of delusional activity that is manipulated by the guru to satisfy his or her own pathological whims.

Transitional TIDS sufferers, torn by the tension of alternating between ambition and hope on the one hand, and humilitation and despair on the other, often suffer from a suppression of affect that gives them a rigid, serious cast of mind. Transitional TIDS tends to extinguish the sense of humor, and victims of the intense mental division that characterizes this state of mind rarely smile or laugh except when the Guru makes a joke. They will often make attempts at humor that they believe reflect the Guru’s apparently spontaneous style, but such attempts usually fail, eliciting only false laughter from Student-side TIDS sufferers, who are attempting to curry favor from a higher-status devotee. Transitional TIDS sufferers thus are entombed in their personal rigidity and surrounded by a social environment of extreme conformity and predictability, a sort of frozen hell from which they gain a respite only during bouts of despondency and self-loathing.

Treatment Modalities

Student-side TIDS is treatable if the victim can be removed from the TIDS-saturated environment and is engaged in extensive talk-therapy with persons who know nothing about the guru who is the focus of infatuation. For example, simply being put to work in a position involving manual labor, in the company of people who do not know or care about the guru, can be remarkably effective. The complete lack of responsiveness to discussion of the guru tends to give the TIDS-sufferer pause, as they realize that people can live not only without their guru, but without any guru whatsoever. Talk-therapy with people of a “spiritual” bent is, not surprisingly, generally unhelpful. The key to treatment, if a quick cure is desired, is simply to extract the victim from the environment, expose them to ordinary life, and allow their mind to recover from the continuous flow of obsessive guru-regard.

Transitional TIDS poses somewhat of a more difficult problem, but is treatable. The Transitional TIDS sufferer is much more likely to break out of their cycle through an explosion of anger when their hopes of achieving Guru-hood are suddenly exploded. Interestingly, gurus can provoke such occurrences by taxing a student’s loyalty to an extreme, suddenly breaking the illusion that the guru actually loves the student, leaving the student feeling extraordinarily bereft. Another exit point may appear when the Transitional TIDS victim hits a low point of disappointment, that may be provoked by an excessive humiliation at the hands of the Guru or one of his/her minions. Finally, jealousy may arise when a Transitional TIDS sufferer realizes that other people, less spiritual, less devoted, even less intelligent or sensistive to life, are having a wonderful time on a much smaller endowment of spiritual excitement.

Guru-side TIDS is of course, statistically a much rarer phenomenon than Student or Transitional-Side TIDS, and occasions for treatment are almost never presented. Further, by and large, the experience of Guru-side TIDS seems to spark little desire for change in the mind of the guru, and without that impetus, change is extremely unlikely.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while there are hopeful methods of treatment for Student-TIDS and Transitional TIDS, those afflicted with Guru-TIDS face a bleak diagnosis, because once a Tantric authority “recognizes” an individual’s Guru status, and students begin reinforcing it, a self-reinforcing delusional system is established from which anecdotal evidence indicates there is no exit. Indeed, because enabling the Guru’s pathology is the central rationale for the TIDS-powered community, it sets up a perpetual-motion machine that defies the erosion of popularity that even pop stars and first-tier Hollywood actors suffer. If we were sufficiently cynical, we might entertain the notion that Gurus have somehow achieved an enviable position, but then we would be obliged to elevate tapeworms and ticks to a position higher on the evolutionary ladder.


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Orthorexia Nervosa

Postby Canadian_watcher » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:06 pm

A confluence of events has happened, which brought to mind the article I will post below.

This first event is that I am presently sitting here eating French Toast as a direct result of this:
beeline wrote:.

I'm stocking up on milk, eggs and bread. French Toast!
found here , and;

Secondly, the posting of the OP (which I think might be a response to a post in this thread). Anyway, here's what it all made me think of:

Orthorexia Nervosa

Where anorexia nervosa is an obsession with the quantity of food you eat, you can also be obsessed with eating foods of a certain quality. Orthorexia nervosa (a term coined by Steven Bratman, M.D.) refers to this obsession with eating "proper" foods. ("Ortho" means straight and "orexia" refers to appetite.)

It's normal to change what you eat to improve your health, treat an illness or lose weight. Usually, people focus less on what they eat once they're used to their new eating habits. However, people with orthorexia nervosa remained consumed with what types of food they allow themselves to eat, and feel badly about themselves if they fail to stick to their diet.

People suffering from this obsession may display the following signs.

Spending more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food
Planning tomorrow's menu today
Feeling virtuous about what they eat, but not enjoying it much
Continually limiting the number of foods they eat
Experiencing a reduced quality of life or social isolation (because their diet makes it difficult for them to eat anywhere but at home)
Feeling critical of others who do not eat as well they do
Skipping foods they once enjoyed in order to eat the "right" foods
Feeling guilt or self-loathing when they stray from their diet
Feeling in "total" control when they eat the correct diet

While orthorexia nervosa is not a formal medical condition, many doctors do feel that it explains an important and growing health phenomenon. If you think you or a friend suffers from something that sounds or feels like this description of orthorexia nervosa, you should visit either a nutritionist or doctor who can help you.


I like to sleep in the middle of the day. It causes me problems, because society isn't organized in such a way that it is acceptable for me to do so, unless of course I bow out of institutionalized work. (which I have) Could it be that this is a syndrome that has yet to be identified? Probably.

I hope they make a pill for all us tantric-delusional, orthorexic nappers soon.
Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.-- Jonathan Swift

When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:12 pm

TRIGGER WARNING: PORTRAYS MACABRE/OCCULT SEX

http://surrealdocuments.blogspot.com/20 ... ogini.html

SUNDAY, JANUARY 04, 2009

David Gordon White - Kiss of the Yogini. "Tantric Sex" in its South Asian Contexts

Image


In a tale of Tantric sorcery, the hero comes to a cremation ground in the dead of night, where he secretly beholds a wandering mendicant seated upon a corpse and uttering mantras:

Suddenly, the corpse beneath the mendicant began making a 'put-put' noise, as flames belched from its mouth and mustard seeds shot out of its navel. Thereupon the mendicant, taking those mustard seeds and standing up, slapped the corpse with the palm of his hand. The corpse, which was inhabited by a gigantic [vampire spirit], rose up, and the mendicant then climbed up on it's shoulder. Thus mounted, the [vampire] began to move quickly away. ... [Then, having completed some bussiness in a Durga temple], the mendicant went out, and again striking him with his hand, caused the [vampire] to rise up with the sound of 'put-put'. And climbing up on the shoulder of him whose mouth was spewing flames of fire, he flew up, and went across the sky.

David Gordon White's book on medieval Tantra, 'Kiss of the Yogini. "Tantric Sex" in its South Asian Contexts' contains many such fascinating tales. More importantly, it is a book on South Asian Tantra which is free from insipid New Age idealism.

Using textual, sculptural, archeological and ethnographic evidence, White examines that element which distinguishes Tantra from other religious traditions: a form of eroticized ritual practice that emerged in India in the eighth century CE. In this ritual practice, Yoginis where worshiped: avi-cephalic or zoo-cephalic flying goddesses, at once divine and demonic, at once benign and dangerous. To these female divinities, sacrifices were made of meat, of alcohol, but most of all of semen. These oblations would be reciprocated by the Yoginis, who allowed the worshiper to drink their sexual fluids and menstrual blood. Drinking this 'flow of liquid gnosis' made the worshiper part of a clan family (kula), whose lines extend from the god Bhairava down to the human initiate. What is more, drinking the Yogini's sexual fluids and menstrual blood transformed the very being of the worshiper, and conferred supernatural powers, most particularly the power of flight and bodily immortality.

Between the tenth and the twelfth century CE, this medieval Tantric practice was gradually gentrified, in order to make it acceptable to Hindu "mainstream". This gentrification involved the subordination of the female goddesses to the male Tantric practitioner. Furthermore, Tantric practice became less and less corporeal, knowledge taking precedence over eroticized praxis and ritual taking precedence over sacrifice. In this process, the Yoginis came to be regarded not as sctual goddesses but as (symbols of) chakras, wheels of energy which were believed to exist in subtle bodies of man: the fierce goddesses were rendered powerless by internalizing and semanticizing them.

Nevertheless, it seems likely that practitioners of corporeal tantric rites continued to observe the heterodox rites in semi-secrecy, dissimulating their nocturnal identities. Dissimulating gave medieval South Asian elites an opportunity to experiment with a multiple religious identity.

Image

White's book is magnificent, assembling a wealth of scholarly knowledge into a coherent - and to this reader, convincing - whole.

Nevertheless, I feel that White's book would have been even for interesting for the general reader if he had taken care to explicitly relate his empirical findings to theoretical concerns. The exchange of fluids between the Yoginis and their consorts could have been connected toDurkheimian and Maussian themes such as sacrifice, gift exchange and the idea of 'the sacred as the social'. As is, I feel White's reading of medieval Tantra must implicitly be informed by these themes, but the book would have gained in strength if they had been made explicit. Furthermore, the analysis of the strategies of dissimulation could have become stronger if they had been connected to ethnographic thought on secrecy and the social; I'm thinking of some of the essays in Michael Taussig's 2006 book Walter Benjamin's Grave.

I sympathize with White's disdain for New Age Tantra: 'New Age Tantra is to medieval Tantra what finger painting is to fine art, a remarkably unimaginative "series of yogic exercises applied to the sexual act ... a coitus reservatus par excellence ... a sad attempt to mechanize the mysteries of sexual love."' However, in some of his derogatory remarks I felt that he was loathing the right thing for the wrong reasons: the problem with New Age Tantra is not that it is inauthentic, Americanized. I'll quote Michel Leiris once more: “As far as I am concerned, I love everything that presents this dimension of mixing, everything mixed blood, from sarcophagi dating from Roman times with faces of splendidly made-up women painted in the most realistic way to Fuegeans wearing European pants found in shipwrecks, not forgetting Alexandrine philosophy and the unmatchable elegance of Harlem negroes along the way.” The problem with New Age Tantra shows reluctance before excesses of joy, lacks audacity, asks for deliverance and salvation, is anaemic and impoverished. New Age Tantra - like Hindu elites between the tenth and the twelfth century CE - domesticates the wild Yoginis.

Notwithstanding these minor points, I can recommend White's fascinating book to all who are interested in Tantra, in the history of religions and in the anthropology of the body.


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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:17 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 69859.html

I was a Tantric sex slave

For years June Campbell was the `consort' of a senior Tibetan Buddhist monk. She was threatened with death if she broke her vow of secrecy. But then enlightenment can be like that.

By Paul Vallely
Wednesday, 10 February 1999



Feet of clay? No, it was a different part of the anatomy - and of all too fleshly substance - which caused the trouble. But, I suppose, you don't expect Tantric sex to be a straightforward activity. Then again, sex of any kind isn't really what you're planning when you become a celibate nun.

It was, said June Campbell as she began her lecture, only the second time she had been asked to give a talk to a Buddhist group in this country since her book, Traveller in Space, came out three years ago. Small wonder. The topic of her talk was "Dissent in Spiritual Communities", and you don't get much more potent types of dissent than hers. For she not only revealed that she had for years been the secret sexual consort of one of the most holy monks in Tibetan Buddhism - the tulku (re-incarnated lama), Kalu Rinpoche. She also insisted that the abuse of power at the heart of the relationship exposed a flaw at the very heart of Tibetan Buddhism.

This was heresy, indeed. To outsiders, the Rinpoche was one of the most revered yogi-lamas in exile outside Tibet. As abbot of his own monastery, he had taken vows of celibacy and was celebrated for having spent 14 years in solitary retreat. Among his students were the highest-ranking lamas in Tibet. "His own status was unquestioned in the Tibetan community," said Ms Campbell, "and his holiness attested to by all."

The inner circles of the world of Tibetan Buddhism - for all its spread in fashionable circles in the West - is a closed and tight one. Her claims, though made in a restrained way in the context of a deeply academic book subtitled "In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism", provoked what she described as a primitive outpouring of rage and fury. "I was reviled as a liar or a demon," she said during a public lecture last week at the non-sectarian College for Buddhist Studies in Sharpham, Devon. "In that world he was a saintly figure. It was like claiming that Mother Teresa was involved in making porn movies."

But it was not fear of the response which made her wait a full 18 years before publishing her revelations in a volume entitled Traveller in Space - a translation of dakini, the rather poetic Tibetan word for a woman used by a lama for sex. It took her that long to get over the trauma of the experience. "I spent 11 years without talking about it and then, when I had decided to write about it, another seven years researching. I wanted to weave together my personal experience with a more theoretical understanding of the role of women in Tibetan society to help me make sense of what had happened to me."

What happened was that, having become a Buddhist in her native Scotland in the hippie Sixties, she travelled to India where she became a nun. She spent 10 years in a Tibetan monastery and penetrated more deeply than any other Westerner into the faith's esoteric hierarchy. Eventually she became personal translator to the guru as, during the Seventies, he travelled through Europe and America. It was after that, she said, that "he requested that I become his sexual consort and take part in secret activities with him".

Only one other person knew of the relationship - a second monk - with whom she took part in what she described as a polyandrous Tibetan-style relationship. "It was some years before I realised that the extent to which I had been taken advantage of constituted a kind of abuse."

The practice of Tantric sex is more ancient than Buddhism. The idea goes back to the ancient Hindus who believed that the retention of semen during intercourse increased sexual pleasure and made men live longer. The Tibetan Buddhists developed the belief that enlightenment could be accelerated by the decision "to enlist the passions in one's religious practice, rather than to avoid them". The strategy is considered extremely risky yet so efficacious that it could lead to enlightenment in one lifetime.

Monks of a lower status confined themselves to visualising an imaginary sexual relationship during meditation. But, her book sets out, the "masters" reach a point where they decide that they can engage in sex without being tainted by it. The instructions in the so-called "secret" texts spell out the methods which enable the man to control the flow of semen through yogic breath control and other practices. The idea is to "drive the semen upwards, along the spine, and into the head". The more semen in a man's head, the stronger intellectually and spiritually he is thought to be.

More than that, he is said to gain additional strength from absorbing the woman's sexual fluids at the same time as withholding his own. This "reverse of ordinary sex", said June Campbell, "expresses the relative status of the male and female within the ritual, for it signals the power flowing from the woman to the man".

The imbalance is underscored by the insistence by such guru-lamas that their sexual consorts must remain secret, allowing the lamas to maintain control over the women. "Since the book was published, I've had letters from women all over the world with similar and worse experiences."

So why did she stay for almost three years? "Personal prestige. The women believe that they too are special and holy. They are entering sacred space. It produces good karma for future lives, and is a test of faith."

The combination of religion, sex, power and secrecy can have a potent effect. It creates the Catch 22 of psychological blackmail set out in the words of another lama, Beru Kyhentze Rinpoche: "If your guru acts in a seemingly unenlightened manner and you feel it would be hypocritical to think him a Buddha, you should remember that your own opinions are unreliable and the apparent faults you see may only be a reflection of your own deluded state of mind... If your guru acted in a completely perfect manner he would be inaccessible and you would be able to relate to him. It is therefore out of your Guru's great compassion that he may show apparent flaws... He is mirroring your own faults."

The psychological pressure is often increased by making the woman swear vows of secrecy. In addition, June Campbell was told that "madness, trouble or even death" could follow if she did not keep silent.

"I was told that in a previous life the lama I was involved with had had a mistress who caused him some trouble, and in order to get rid of her he cast a spell which caused her illness, later resulting in her death.

There are those Buddhists, like Martine Batchelor - who spent 10 years as a Zen Buddhist nun in a Korean monastery and who now teaches at Sharpham College - who insist the religious techniques the Buddha taught can be separated from the sexist, patriarchal and oppressive culture of many Buddhist countries. But June Campbell is not convinced.

"You have to ask what is the relationship between belief and how a society structures itself," she said. In Tibetanism, power lies in the hands of men who had often been traumatised by being removed from their mothers at the age of two and taken to an all-male monastery. "Some were allowed visits from their mothers and sisters but always in secrecy - so that they came to associate women with what must be hidden."

But there is more to it, she believes, than that. Teaching at Sharpham last week she gave the students a whole range of material about different kinds of feminism - from the political to the psychotherapeutic. She then asked them how it relates to the fact that there are no female Buddha images, or to why in Tantric sex images the woman always has her back to the viewer, or to why Buddhist women are told to pray that they will be reborn into a male body in their next life - for only in a man's body can they attain full enlightenment.

"Once I started unravelling my experiences, I began to question everything," she said. That meant not just the actions of a particular guru, but the very idea of the guru. She began to wonder whether the Tantra was just a fantasy, and whether there is really any difference between Tantric sex and ordinary sex. She questioned the very concept of enlightenment itself and the practice of meditation. "I realised that in order to be myself I had to leave it all - completely and utterly."



`Traveller in Space' is published by The Athlone Press at pounds 17.99


.
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:06 pm

http://www.trimondi.de/EN/Sogyal.htm

The case of Sogyal Rinpoche


Sex Scandals In Religion, Episode Three:

In The Name Of Enlightenment
directed by Debi Goodwin.


An image of peace, meditation, gentle respect. Not serial sex abuse. But accusations of tawdry sexual exploitation are breaking out all over, threatening the elevated status of this beautiful religion. One of the Dalai Lama's star protégés, the author of one of the most powerful and popular books in the history of Buddhism, and the leader of a global network of holy centers, has left a wake of damaged women. Until now, they have been kept silent. Speaking out for the first time in this documentary, they accuse him of seduction, physical assault and moral deceit. It’s an extraordinary story of sexual aggression, spiritual arrogance and avoidance of moral leadership...to the very top

Trailer: http://www.cogentbenger.com/docs/sexsca ... ghtenment/



Sunday Times 12. Juni 2011

Bad Karma – Rigpa’s Sogyal

by Gabrielle Monaghan

Buddhist Leader faces claims of sex exploitation made by woman who was asked to undress


The Tibetan spiritual director of a Buddhist Centre in Cork, has been accused of sexual exploitation by two women in a new documentary. Sogyal Rinpoche, who is in Ireland this week to lead a nine-day retreat, is the founder of the Rigpa movement, which has 130 centres worldwide. Its Dzogchen Beara centre in west Cork is listed as a tourist destination by Tourism Ireland and was visited by President Mary McAleese in 2007.

Complaints against the Buddhist master were raised in In The Name Of Enlightenment, part of a documentary series broadcast on Canadian television last month. The allegations of physical and sexual assault follow a $10m (€7m) US lawsuit filed against Rinpoche in 1994 for alleged physical, mental and sexual abuse. In the case, which was settled out of court, an anonymous woman claimed she was “coerced into an intimate relationship” having visited Rinpoche on a Connecticut retreat following the death of her father. No details of the settlement have emerged. Rinpoche is the author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. He also played a starring role alongside Keanu Reeves in the 1993 film Little Buddha.

A woman identified as “Mimi” in the documentary said she met Rinpoche at the age of 22 when she began working at a Rigpa centre in France in 2000 to be near her father. She became an “attendant” to Rinpoche after passing what she took to be a “test of devotion” to join a group of women close to the spiritual teacher. “Women close to Rinpoche were considered to have good karma,” she said in the documentary. “After working at the centre for two months, I was invited into his room. He ordered me to undress, which I thought was a test of devotion“. Some Buddhist masters have this crazy wisdom where they use beatings as a way to open your chakras and open your way to enlightenment.

If he beats you or has sex with you, he’s actually opening your path to enlightenment

“He asked me to swear never to speak about it to any one. I f I talked about it, it would sever this connection. I feel very sad because I lost myself and I was in a group of girls who had lost themselves even more.”

A London spokeswoman for Rigpa said Rinpoche has been aware of the allegations in the documentary and takes them “very seriously.” “Consistent with the Buddhist values that Sogyal Rinpoche up holds, Rinpoche respects and cares for all of his students past and present, without exception,” she said. “Rinpoche is deeply saddened to learn of anyone who has less than good memories of their time as a student even if they are only few in number. “We do not consider it helpful to enter into a public debate via a television program about the experiences of any individual. We have full confidence in the sincerity, authenticity and conduct of Sogyal Rinpoche as a Buddhist teacher. We have only ever seen him act for the benefit of other people, and with their best interests at heart. None the less any allegations of inappropriate behavior are taken seriously by the organization.”

In a Sunday Times article in 2009, a spokesman for Rigpa described allegations of sexual exploitation against Rinpoche as “uncorroborated and without evidence”.

Victoria Barlow, who has spoken to newspapers of her experiences with Rinpoche, also featured in the documentary. Speaking from her home in Manhattan, she said she began a sexual relationship with Rinpoche in America in 1976. She met him in New York City after studying Buddhism in Dharamsala, the Indian home of the Dalai Lama. She said she sought out spiritual guidance after encountering sexual abuse as a child and was invited to his apartment. “He sat really close to me and started stroking my cheek. Then he was lying on me. I was stunned…fool that I was, I thought that it must be a blessing. But it was not remotely tantric or meaningful. He conned me.”

Mary Finnigan, a British journalist and Buddhist, said she has been compiling a dossier on Rinpoche for 16 years because she regrets helping him to launch his career in London. “Sogyal’s promiscuity was obvious to every one in the mid-1970s in the Buddhist community and that’s what he has been doing systematically ever since,” she said. “But he puts on a good show. He offers people a dumbed-down version o Buddhism which appeals to people who want a quick fix.”

Source: http://www.bad-karma-by-gabrielle-monag ... as-sogyal/

For further information on Sogyal and Rigpa please follow these links:

Lama sex abuse claims call Buddhist taboos into question
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... e-buddhist

Shock at Lama Sogyal Rinpoche’s past
http://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/20 ... ches-past/

Briefing document on Sogyal Rinpoche
http://dialogueireland.wordpress.com/20 ... -rinpoche/
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby Searcher08 » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:16 am

Leaving aside the TIDS article, which I think is full of cognitive FLATUS (Four Letter Acronyms Tending Unwarranted Scope), I notice that there seems to be a "metatrend" of the revealing that which is hidden and in particular, bringing into public view the behaviour of the so called spiritual people in the not-so-public eye.

I know the above will come as a shock to many Buddhists who have help Sogyal Rinpoche in high esteem for his book The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which seems to be (anecdotally) one of the most read books by spiritual people facing transition.

It also raises serious questions IMHO about lineage, about the process of teaching and instruction of spiritual matters, about a mutual process of abuse and silence that has been going on for Goddess knows how long.

We have an epidemic of Catholic Church child abuse
We have massive pedophilia all through Hasidic Judaism
We have an epidemic of child abuse being discovered in India

We have vested interests seeking to make money from hidden teachings
We have Western seekers who do not create value for themselves unless they are paying a relative fortune to some Eastern or Native guru for it.
We have Eastern and Native teachers who are only interested in goods and getting laid and mercilessly exploiting Westerners.
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:36 am

Searcher, I'm in at least superficial agreement with a good portion of what you're referring to above though, as always- the Devil is in the details- and what it all ultimately means is a much trickier, much deeper question.

Here's an article from Tara Carreon, who is married to the author of the OP. I think she moves things further along with the question of what is wheat, what is chaff, how to tell the two apart and where do we go from here.

Here is one paragraph which particularly speaks to me.

We Westerners and especially we Americans have a hidden dharma tradition to inspire us right here in our own culture. Our aspirations -- to save the planet, feed people, release wrongly imprisoned people, give women the right to vote -- are wholesome. Our belief in principles of equality, fairness, justice, and freedom of speech and belief are all "Buddhist" principles without having that name. As a guide for social governance, the U.S. Constitution is far superior to King Trisong Detsun's code, which provided harsh punishment, even death, for those who violated Buddhist rules. We have a very good understanding of what it means to be a "bodhisattva," but we don't call it that. We call it being a "humanitarian" or a "social activist." If we supplement the core Buddhist teachings with these noble traditions, and unite knowledge of the union of appearance and emptiness with the clear-eyed view of the scientific method, we have a very adequate philosophy of positive development. Once we agree that science provides a better explanation for phenomena than superstitions involving supernatural forces, there is plenty to agree on in this universe. Rather than cleaving to old ways, retaining magical notions as doctrinal elements, a viable religious philosophy joins with the current knowledge of the day to open a way to live creatively and optimistically, thus providing concrete benefit to all.

[Emphasis added]


http://www.american-buddha.com/tib.bud.working.htm

ANOTHER VIEW ON WHETHER TIBETAN BUDDHISM IS WORKING IN THE WEST

by Tara Carreon



A former American convert to Tibetan Buddhism for over 20 years speaks her mind. Her viewpoint is that, although American Tibetan Buddhists have made the decision to adopt traditional Tibetan Buddhist beliefs because they seem authoritative and reliable, this decision has been a mistake. First, she finds that Tibetans themselves suffer from ethnocentrism and cultural arrogance that blinds them to the virtues of Western culture and predisposes them to favor all things Tibetan. Second, she finds American students far too willing to abandon the advantages of our intellectual training and democratic culture of equality in favor of medieval concepts still espoused by Tibetans due to their cultural backwardness. The solution, this student says, is to abandon Tibetan cultural belief systems, stripping Buddhism to its core values of straightforward inquiry and insight into appearance and emptiness, supplementing these values with Western virtues of optimism, creativity, and the scientific method. Such a change in spiritual approach can lead to real cause for optimism and freedom from outmoded notions that merely lead to psychological subjugation.

MY EXPERIENCE

I'm writing this article from the viewpoint of having spent the last 26 years immersed in Buddhism, 22 of those in Tibetan Buddhism. For virtually all of that time, I was extremely devout, did my practice compulsively, and usually held monthly pujas in my home, to which other students were publicly invited. I hosted scores of lama events, helped raise many thousands of dollars, sewed clothes and cooked meals for my teacher, typed transcripts of tapes, and even edited an entire book of teachings. I traveled to India and Nepal. I helped build a traditional four-story Tibetan temple in Ashland, Oregon, one of the biggest and most authentic temples in the West. I received the entire transmission of Nyingma teachings from beginning to end, including the Dzogchen Trekchod and Togyal teachings, and at the end, my teacher declared that I needed no further teachings, and should simply practice what he had taught me.

My immersion in Tibetan Buddhism ultimately led to a psychological stalemate between my impulse to be a perfect Buddhist and my inability to see any truly "enlightened" developments in my psyche after these many years of effort. Three years ago I began a radical reevaluation of my relationship with the dharma, and those two other far more troublesome "jewels," the lama and the sangha. At some point, I began to feel that I had been duped, and began to unpack my psychological baggage. I discovered that I was seething with resentment over the years of self-abasement, and humiliated by the fact that I had aided my captors. While this language, and some of the language that I use in my essay below, may seem harsh or accusatory, I believe that I feel about these things just as any other ordinary person would feel after the years of effort turn out to have been invested for no good reason. Additionally, the inner compulsion to perform ritualistic practices in which I had lost faith, and the need to overcome the fear that abandoning these practices would cause me to suffer terrible consequences, has made for many painful days and nights. The process of self-deprogramming has taken me to the edge of despair, and beyond. The truth is that one who delivers their belief into the hands of others risks having to fight to get it back. Having fought that fight, it is my desire to save other people from wasting their time, energy and happiness in what I now view as a bad investment in the realm of faith. I would suggest that sincere spiritual seekers return to themselves and appreciate the good aspects of our own Western culture in order to achieve spiritual satisfaction.

MY RESPONSE TO ALAN WALLACE'S RECENT ARTICLE IN TRICYCLE MAGAZINE

I was inspired to write this article after I read an interview in Tricycle Magazine the other day with Alan Wallace, entitled "Tibetan Buddhism in the West: Is it Working?" The title excited me. Finally, I thought, someone is going to reveal the trouble behind the scenes, and we can start to get these things out into the open. Since I know and like Alan Wallace, and admire him greatly as a translator, I was very interested to hear his views.

Alan left too much unspoken, to say the least. For Alan, it's apparently too delicate to discuss. I can understand why Alan plays it safe, being a professor of Tibetan studies and a recognized spokesperson for Tibetan Buddhism. He has a reputation to cultivate. An academic and a translator, he receives a share of the veneration that is paid to the lamas. On the downside, no one wants to be an accused heretic, like Stephen Batchelor. Like Alan, many Tibetan Buddhists are very careful about what they say. Among those who know, the threat of "samaya injury" from saying the wrong thing has a very chilling effect on speech. More generally, it is no surprise that those on the path of "secret mantra" enjoy playing at having secret information that they are forbidden to disclose. Therefore, Tibetan Buddhists are unable to get their problems into the open where they can examine them in the clear light of day. As always, silence and secrecy breed ignorance and denial.

Alan blames Western students for what I see as the Tibetan failure to adequately communicate the teachings. Granted, Alan is simply repeating what he's been told, and I do not believe he is distorting the message. Real insiders often hear from Tibetan lamas how little they respect Westerners. Sometimes, it seems that beating up on Westerners is one of the Tibetans' favorite pastimes. However, the lamas rarely open themselves to criticism about their own ways. They can even get testy if pressed. Most students don't speak up unless they want to be called heretics, and shunned from their communities forever. Only people who don't have a reputation or position to protect can speak the truth. That virtually precludes people with vested interests in the existing system from saying anything meaningful at all -- at least if it's critical thinking we value. The "authorities" have, and will continue, to report only the "official story."

The Dalai Lama [author's note: "whom I no longer have any respect for whatsoever after reading Victor and Victoria Trimondi's book, "The Shadow of the Dalai Lama" -- 11/13/04] says we should have open dialogue, and hash out our differences. In response to the question: "In your recent book 'Ethics for the New Millennium,' you called for a 'spiritual' and then an 'ethical revolution. Are you willing to emerge as a prophet?," the Dalai Lama replies:

"[T]oday, this is not the business of any one individual. Everywhere there are all sorts of organizations that are concerned with these things. Everyone has the same responsibility now -- I think it's the democratic way. With increased awareness, with a stronger sense of concern, every person must come forward and join together as one body, each one cooperating with every other. There are some individuals -- some intellectuals, some religious persons and quite a few scientists -- who all have real awareness of the critical situation in the world. But one problem is that they each just express their own view and then let a few organizations carry the burden as best they can. Now, if we could more often come together, discuss the problems in depth, make some appeals for positive action or even offer stronger criticism of wrong actions, and even tell the U.N. or some important governments -- then that's the way to have some positive effect."

Robert Thurman, Rolling Stone, May 24, 2001.


This is how we refine our viewpoint through free speech and debate. But while free speech is the soul of democracy, it is very much against the usual Tibetan party line of "shut up and put up." The Tibetans have never known and fundamentally distrust democracy. At the Tibetan temple where I invested 22 years, there were no "members." We weren't allowed to vote on anything, or to elect our "leaders". Theocratic by tradition, Tibetan lamas rule by fiat. Even the Dalai Lama's speech is cautious and diplomatic.

At the start of the interview, Alan tells us what Tibetan lamas think about Westerners. The lamas' complaint is so familiar it invokes a yawn: Westerners in "a consumer society, a business-oriented society" become "dilettantes ... dabbling in one flavor after another, without gaining proficiency in anything." We're "impatient, superficial, and fickle" and "in Tibetan society, fickleness is considered to be one of the worst of vices." This description is more ethnocentric, and less compassionate, than most students would expect of the Dalai Lama's fellow-clerics. However, if you spend enough time with Tibetans, you'll learn they feel quite superior. Tibetan lamas are comfortable sitting on thrones, eating good food, and having people serve them. And it seems that many Western Tibetan Buddhists are more than willing to intern as domestic servants and handymen. Having come from a prosperous Western tradition that is in stark contrast to the Tibetan lifestyle, Western students are willing to disavow it all to become members of the enlightenment club. Or perhaps they have been dying for an opportunity to serve, to work off their "White Man's Burden" with a little self-abasement.

Alan continues to faithfully communicate the sad fact that the "finest lamas" are quite disgusted with us. "The finest lamas are now refusing even to come to the West, because they figure they could be spending their time either teaching Tibetans in Asia, or they could simply go into retreat and meditate." The lamas believe that "devoting time to people with such fickleness and so little faith is time not very well spent." This is rather snitty. Westerners are the only eager consumers of mystical practice, and even minority Americans aren't attracted. (When was the last time you saw a group of African-Americans at an empowerment?) Young Tibetans want jobs and secular education, not trinkets and blessings. Alan's comment presumes that the great lamas have "bigger fish to fry." The fact is, that due to the financial support they have received from Westerners (and the Taiwanese), they can afford to remain esconced in relative splendor in Kathmandu and Bhutan. Now let us take each of Alan's comments in turn.

First, to self-slander our culture as merely a consumer and business-oriented society, ignores the fact that our country is the most religiously tolerant nation in the world. In cities across the nation, people from every faith live and worship down the street from each other, which would be impossible in their respective countries of origin. The combination of government-protected freedom of religion, plus tax incentives and an actual interest in Buddhism, makes our country a place where Tibetans are quite eager to live. They recognize that in addition to religious freedom, having a refrigerator, a warm place to sleep, and clean water, have spiritual as well as worldly advantages. While lamas often criticize the "material" Western lifestyle, waxing eloquent about how their own people live happily on little, due to their religious faith, most are eager to secure residence, land, cars and temples. There is every evidence that the lamas seek in America exactly what they had in Tibet -- wealth and leisure -- remembering always that according to a helpful doctrine, seeking leisure to pursue the spiritual path is an unimpeachable motivation.

The complaint that we shop for Dharma is rather disingenuous. The lamas themselves turned the Dharma into a traveling show, selling tickets to empowerments with vague promises of spiritual benefit, revealing only after the fact in empowerments, students take on weighty "samaya" commitments that obligate them to eternal fealty to their initiators. This "bait and switch" method always evokes a certain number of grumbles in the crowd of newbies, but the eager smiles of older students are usually sufficient to overcome most objection. After all, who can resist getting conked on the head with religious objects by a wise old lama on a throne, while young acolytes circulate holding incense and other magical items? And you get a knotted red string to wear around your neck as a token of your commitment! Increasingly, you pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege of attending an empowerment, for which all are presumptively qualified, who have the ability to pay. There is no question of qualification or readiness, or spiritual sincerity. The students manning the door want to see real dollars, not earnest entreaties. Possibly we should blame Americans for this venality. Probably not. The teachers chose the teachings, the place and the time. The students came, paid money, and listened. According to Alan, however, they blundered. Somehow, the criticism seems unwarranted.

Tibetan lamas are equally vulnerable to criticism on grounds of "fickleness." Tricycle has reported enough about "competing tulkus," "the Shugden schism" and countless other instances of petty clerical infighting to establish that if fickleness is a vice, Tibetan clerics are ridden with it. Gossip is a staple in Tibetan Buddhist circles. In our center, we were always getting the word from the top about "Who's hot, and who's not." The list of disgraced students and rival lamas grew over time, until one day I found my own name added to the list. I think "fickleness" usually occurs when two lamas vie for the attentions of a single wealthy donor.

Alan suggests that if the supply of sincere students dries up, the lamas will go away. I suspect that those lamas who would leave have already departed. And what did they expect from us, anyway? Did the lamas really expect students to learn Tibetan, memorize rituals, join the clergy en masse, and build large temples everywhere? If they want that type of performance they need to stick with their own people. Do Christian missionaries pack up and leave when their prospective converts don't learn all the hymns? Put simply, this is a harsh, judgmental response that does too little to honor the sincerity of students who often surrender family and livelihood to the pursuit of Tibetan Buddhism. Does it seem compassionate to write off an entire culture as fickle, and return to the mountain fastness to engage in "more productive" contemplation? But Alan delivers this harsh declaration without blinking. You can see that, by controlling entry and status into the lofty world of lamas and their "entourages," Tibetans can induce Westerners like Alan to tacitly adopt their own prejudice. You might start to think that one can get approval from Tibetans by criticizing Westerners.

Make no mistake about it, the lamas are sure they know best, and will likely not be impressed with your own speculations or reflections about spirituality. In this regard, Alan warns us that in seeking to ascertain spiritual truth, "one extreme is ... individualism."

Let's play that back again. Would it sound different if I told you I was quoting Mao, or an Orwellian Big Brother? Can an American be saying this? Individualism is the basis of our Constitution, of all our civil rights and humanitarian values. Each person's individual buddha nature is the basis of dharma. Is individuality not the beauty of our unique existence in this universe?

Why this paranoia about independent thought? Is it really not possible for an individual to realize the truth without a prescription? Buddha, presumably, was an individual, who through the exercise of his own mind, found freedom. Yet Thinley Norbu criticizes Americans for having "freedom habit." Must we choose between Buddhism or freedom? Perhaps in some brand of Buddhism, appropriate to a feudal system, peasants do not ask these questions. Americans, however, would probably choose freedom, thereby choosing, I believe, true dharma as well.

Alan denigrates our ability to think for ourselves, saying that with respect to making spiritual decisions, we will always be like "a kid going into a restaurant and saying, I'll just take what tastes good." This metaphor implies that students are children who just want to eat candy. But this assertion is illogical. We must trust ourselves to make spiritual choices, else we could not even make the first decision to rely upon the doctrine. Alan's view is that although we were smart enough to select the Tibetans to be our teachers, now that we've found our true "parents," the lamas, we will always and forever be children. Thus we can never grow up, and must rely totally on the lamas. Says Alan: "That's the core issue in Buddhism." I strongly disagree. The core issue in Buddhism is not our ignorance, but rather our intelligent, enlightened nature.

While on the subject of being treated like a child, I've often heard the lamas say, "it's time to grow up." This is where they get you coming and going. If you become a high-maintenance disciple, showing lots of devotion, or having many questions, you're called a baby. If you think for yourself, you're a deluded individualist. As in all double-bind situations, the issue isn't whether we are children, but rather, whether the lamas shall tell us who we are. Western students deserve dignity and respect, and they do not receive it from the bulk of lamas. On the other hand, they clearly have not demanded it.

The rest of Alan's interview is full of nice questions about whether Buddhism is working in the West, and how we must make Buddhism work for Westerners, but he gives no answers. So the whole interview basically boils down to "No, Tibetan Buddhism isn't working, because Americans aren't doing it very well." Well, that clearly is the official story.

WHY TIBETAN BUDDHISM ISN'T WORKING

Am I alone in saying there is a humongous culture clash between Tibetans and Westerners? That's not so embarrassing, is it? So let me ask you another question: Do we live in Tibet or in the West? And if we live in the West, isn't it fair to ask Tibetans to understand our culture somewhat before they criticize us extensively?

At the sound of these words, I can see the true believers heading for the aisles, thinking, "This is effrontery, this is sacrilege; I want nothing to do with it." Which is not a good sign. Cultural isolation crystallized Tibet into a theocratic state of lettered tulkus ruling over a vast illiterate peasantry, creating a culture so unified with its religion that it lacks virtually all secular cultural expression. This "union of Church and State" creates innumerable problems. Western students, who are not serfs or shepherds, should not be dealt with in the same way. Still, in your average Dharma center, the lama's word (or his wife's word) is law. Questioning is disobedience, and disagreement is heresy. If you think I'm exaggerating, I'll give you a list of centers to visit.

Few of us took vows of refuge with various lamas because we longed to chant in a foreign language and bow before enthroned teachers. Those who did should have no complaints. But most people were trying to find some inner peace and self-understanding. If we're not getting that from involvement with the lamas, it isn't sacrilege to say so, and return to our original spiritual concerns. We are entitled to ask, "WHAT IS BUDDHISM?" After 22 years of being a "Tibetan" Buddhist, I'm finding it hard to answer that question. Actually, it would be hard for any Tibetan Buddhist to answer this question. Tibetans have little need for the Buddha, who has been eclipsed by Padmasambhava, the Karmapa, or whatever tulku-dynasty is revered by the sect. So Tibetan Buddhists know about as much about the Buddha as Mormons know about Jesus Christ (not much).

If you learn Tibetan Buddhism, you learn more about Tibet than about Buddha. As long as we believe that the colorful and exciting Tibetan culture is Buddhism, we will be unable to find true Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism is not working for us because we are unable to find its essence in the complex and colorful Tibetan way of life. Tibetan symbols do not speak to us, nor do we learn from reciting a sadhana in a foreign language. (It took the Catholics until the 1960's to stop saying the Mass in Latin, though, so this folly is equally the result of our own cultural absurdity).

There's no question but that, if you become a Tibetan Buddhist, you get a lot of stuff. You get a red string tied around your neck right off the bat. You get sacred practices, protector deities, mantras and visualizations. But what are we surrendering? I would suggest we are surrendering something very valuable -- our belief in objective, empirical reality, as revealed through scientific knowledge. We take this belief for granted of course, because it is second nature. But if you become a Tibetan Buddhist, this sense of reality can begin to slip away, little by little, replaced by a patchwork of myth, fantasy, and what passes for meditation.

From the viewpoint of an educated American, Tibetan culture is anachronistic: young Tibetans are dazzled and overwhelmed by our modern world. The older lamas are bemused by our culture, and turn away from it too quickly to learn much about us. They live, psychologically, on a flat earth, without the benefit of scientific knowledge. Often their lectures are rather quaint, as they present fallacious arguments to support the doctrine. Many are sweet, sincere, and so hopelessly out of touch that Steven Segal managed to pass himself off as a tulku. Can we seriously rely on teachings from that culture?

The Tibetans themselves suffered greatly due to their blind faith in a theocratic system that failed utterly to provide two essentials of governance: (1) good foreign relations, and (2) a reliable military. As a result, two million Tibetans have died due to Chinese aggression that has gone basically unredressed by the international community. Tibet was unable to meet the challenge of the twentieth century. It had no independent-thinking intelligencia. But for the efforts of Heinrich Harrer to give the young Dalai Lama an education about the world beyond the walls of the Potala, it is questionable whether Tibet could have fielded even one political leader to explain its situation to the world. None of this is to justify the murderous outrages of the Chinese, whose conduct is so vile as to defy expression. However, Tibet's political leaders owed their constituents a modicum of protection from foreign aggression, at least through diplomatic avenues. Unfortunately, the ingrown monastics of Tibet were unsuited to international political life, and practiced the defense tactics of an ostrich.

Due to what can only be seen as misguided confidence, Tibet's inept leaders wielded political authority nonetheless, leading to a cultural disaster. As the Dalai Lama explained in a recent interview with Robert Thurman, the routine integration of the clergy in the secular economic fabric damages society:

"Some Tibetans also say that in the past, the way of life was that the dharma almost served as a livelihood or a routine profession. The Buddhist was not thinking of nirvana, not caring for liberation, just how to make a living. Officials used it for their lives, monks, nuns and lamas for their lives. Inside, in their inner world, they were like ordinary people, lusting and hating. So the dharma became a poison in this way.

When there is too much focus on the Buddhist institution, and the country goes to waste, that's what it means when people say Buddhism ruined the country."


(Rolling Stone, May 24, 2001)

Now, in this country, Tibetans are making a similar mistake. In Tibetan Buddhist dharma centers all over America, lamas give orders to a tight hierarchy of appointed followers, who are often chosen for their willingness to donate time, money, real estate and property. Students are encouraged to adopt a medieval mind-set, and to abandon belief in their ability to make their own decisions. Lamas advise on who to marry, when to divorce, what jobs to take or quit. Many students request "divinations" of future events, and even pay money to have monks recite volleys of prayers to "eliminate obstacles."

What is difficult to understand for those who haven't been immersed in Tibetan Buddhism for a long time, is that this religion is obsessed with controlling outcomes by the use of magical invocations. This religious model is most like the Christian feudal religion of medieval Europe, linked to a large agrarian serfdom. This religious model also carries with it a powerful anti-logical seed: the belief that favorable outcomes of desired events are controlled by the intercession of supernatural powers.

The red robes, the chants, the tormas, the deities, the colorful temples, the instruments, the sadhanas, the codes of conduct, the lamas, the teacher-disciple relationship are products of Tibetan culture. These symbols were created by Tibetans and likely can only be understood by Tibetans. We Westerners will never be able to understand these things, or translate them into our culture. Fire pujas, exorcisms, prayers to oath-bound protectors. These practices are beautiful, but non-translatable. Period. We do not need to obtain supernatural aid to make the crops grow and the lambs fat. Reciting long lists of protector deities and invoking their aid does not rank high on my list of contemplative activities. These practices are not only unhelpful for most students; there is substantial evidence that people can develop bizarre habits from long repetition of activities that they do not understand, and are pursuing solely due to "faith" that the practice will produce some magical benefit. The Dalai Lama responded with unusual candor recently when asked, "What prevents people from understanding [the essence of Buddhism]?":

"When people think it's all about doing tantric visualizations and rituals. When I talk about the Buddhist dharma, I'm not talking about just chanting and rituals. If it's thought to be a philosophy, it's not that, either. The dharma, it's just the mind. I'm afraid that among the Tibetans, the Chinese and also some Westerners -- the new Buddhists -- in many cases they consider the practice of Buddhism is simply to recite something and perform some ritual, putting false expectations on the esoteric magic of tantra: 'Oh, if I do this, I may get something amazing!' So they neglect the basic instruments that actually transform our mind. These instruments are the altruistic spirit of enlightenment [bodhicitta], the transcendent attitude, renunciation, the realization of impermanence, the wisdom of selflessness. People who think they have a magic gimmick neglect these things. So their inner world, their inner reality, remains very raw. Sadly, use of ritual can feed that neglect. Knowledge of philosophy can also feed that. It's a great tragedy."

SEPARATING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF

Most of us came to Tibetan Buddhism because it seemed to be a reliable repository of ancient Buddhist wisdom. Along the way we discovered it is actually a vast cultural tapestry with more of the medieval than we originally expected. Assuming there is more here than culture and folklore, can we separate the wheat from the chaff? Can we find the core Buddhism in the midst of the Tibetan glare?

Core Buddhism can only be that which is indestructible and not based on form, i.e., that which the Buddha taught that relates to the mind, because only that is universal and (hopefully) can translate from culture to culture. As the Dalai Lama said, "The dharma, it's just the mind."

What did the Buddha teach about the mind? I remember one thing from my studies, and that was first and most importantly, that the Buddha abandoned established religious practices, and looked at mind for himself. This seems like the quintessential "individual" act. The Buddha apprehended the truth of appearance and voidness and taught the Prajnaparamita mind teachings which state that there are no inherently existing self, or objects, that form is emptiness and emptiness is form. The story of the Buddha's life is a story about Indian society, including injunctions to refrain from teaching to "blonde-haired people," and the detailed rules of monastic conduct. These cultural trappings are not worthy of special reverence. Buddha's acts of cultural defiance are far more inspiring: his abandonment of kingship, his rejection of existing doctrine, his transcendence of gurus and asceticism. His self-reliance, in a word.

Like the Buddha, who called everything into doubt, we too should question for our whole life. But the lamas tell you not to follow the Buddha's example, telling you you're arrogant to think that you are like him. They urge you to question for about one minute, then insist that you make up your mind to rely on the lama's authority and abandon questioning for the rest of your life. As a practical matter, such questioning is as bad as none at all.

As history unveils the future of Tibetan Buddhism in this country, we are not going to see a careful translation from Tibet to the West. Tibetan Buddhism is finished for Westerners. Along with Japanese Buddhism, Thai Buddhism, Indian Buddhism, and the rest.

We don't need lamas. We don't need any authority figures. We don't need temples. We don't need a lot of books. We don't need to give anyone money. We don't need someone holding our hand. We have everything we need to realize our true nature already inside us, because we have our minds and individuality. We need to love ourselves, and trust ourselves.

OUR OWN SPIRITUAL INHERITANCE

We Westerners and especially we Americans have a hidden dharma tradition to inspire us right here in our own culture. Our aspirations -- to save the planet, feed people, release wrongly imprisoned people, give women the right to vote -- are wholesome. Our belief in principles of equality, fairness, justice, and freedom of speech and belief are all "Buddhist" principles without having that name. As a guide for social governance, the U.S. Constitution is far superior to King Trisong Detsun's code, which provided harsh punishment, even death, for those who violated Buddhist rules. We have a very good understanding of what it means to be a "bodhisattva," but we don't call it that. We call it being a "humanitarian" or a "social activist." If we supplement the core Buddhist teachings with these noble traditions, and unite knowledge of the union of appearance and emptiness with the clear-eyed view of the scientific method, we have a very adequate philosophy of positive development. Once we agree that science provides a better explanation for phenomena than superstitions involving supernatural forces, there is plenty to agree on in this universe. Rather than cleaving to old ways, retaining magical notions as doctrinal elements, a viable religious philosophy joins with the current knowledge of the day to open a way to live creatively and optimistically, thus providing concrete benefit to all.

Some of us might even find that our view of "enlightenment" must embrace more than the Buddha is said to have taught, to encompass all of the fruits of human knowledge, from astrophysics to nanotech, from the genetic origins of life to the ecology of the planet. Medievalism, even of the Buddhist sort, will not serve this quest for integration. Perhaps "enlightenment" itself is evolving. Then again, maybe there's something inherently wise about our "natural" and "ordinary" mind. Someday, if we explore directly for ourselves, we might even be able to take these "mind" teachings out of the realm of philosophy, conjecture and fantasy, into the realm of reality. To do that, we're going to have to work with our culture and knowledge, and test these old ideas against scientific observations of mind. Contrary to what the Tibetans think, that their doctrine has codified absolute and immutable principles, I think rather that they can be improved and developed. Maybe the Tibetans had a much lower expectation about everything than do we Westerners, not only culturally speaking, but also spiritually speaking, and we can do them one better.

We can be optimistic about our ability to learn new things based upon new investigations. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly observed that Western science may be able to help fill in gaps in Tibetan Buddhist knowledge of the mind's nature, which however accurate, is fundamentally intuitive, subjective, and unconfirmed by outer observations. Everything from Tibetan descriptions of the states before and after death to the phases of meditative insights, are fundamentally a compendium of traditional lore. Western science has just begun to observe the physically confirmable evidences of mental activity Biofeedback studies of Zen students actually provided fascinating confirmation of the observable effects on brainwave function associated with Zen meditation. In this way, empirical and intuitive knowledge can support each other to establish a solid foundation for human self-improvement, one that does not require vast investments of "faith."

TRADITIONAL TIBETAN FAITH-BUILDING EXERCISES MAY INHIBIT MEDITATIVE EFFORTS

While faith in doctrinal pronouncements is certainly the order of the day in semi-literate feudal cultures, it carries little convincing force for people raised in a rational scientific culture. We are far more likely to feel comfortable in a 747 than flying on a magic carpet, even in the company of a Tibetan lama.

There is a fundamental need to rest easy in your beliefs, especially if you are trying to meditate. Dropping conceptual thought is much more difficult if you are uncomfortable with your assumptions about reality. Thus, making a lot of medieval assumptions about reality, cause and effect, and the need to propitiate the protector deities is not necessarily good preparation for non-conceptual meditation of the sort universally practiced by virtually all Buddhists. In this way, the Tibetan Buddhist emphasis on arcane rituals can definitely set an aspiring meditator off their stride, making meditative accomplishments seem all the more difficult. It's like putting on a large weight pack before starting to climb a mountain. Why do it? We will climb higher, and enjoy it more, without this baggage.

Compounding the problem for Westerners trying to develop faith in the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy is the fact that the traditional faith-building exercises do not work for Westerners. The standard prescription for developing faith is to contemplate the virtues of the "lineage gurus" and to develop devotion to one's own guru as the living embodiment of a lineage of wisdom masters going back to Vajradhara, Padmasambhava, or Shakyamuni. The usual practice, of reciting lineage prayers in Tibetan, is about as faith-building as reading the "begats" from Deuteronomy in the original Aramaic. Of course, if I had listened to tales of Guru Rinpoche from the days of childhood while eating tsampa around a yak-dung fire, the effect would likely be otherwise.

Logically, it makes no sense to attempt to invoke strong emotional feelings based on childhood conditioning that does not exist. The heroes of my childhood were Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and other Western culture heroes. No injection of doctrine and myth is going to transfer that type of deep admiration to a Tibetan historical figure, and the attempt to stimulate such emotions is misguided. I can tell you from 22 years of personal experience that, no matter how much Tibetan history you imbibe, and how earnestly you attempt to give rise to the appropriate feelings of reverence and awe, the results will be unsatisfying. You may refine your yearning and obsession to an impressive degree, but nagging doubts will grow in tandem with your efforts to suppress them. Ultimately, the purported "prerequisites" for meditation will eclipse the view of non-duality altogether.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE TIBETAN CLERICS?

The Tibetans may need to humble themselves. They've entered a new world about which they know nothing. While it's fashionable to attend the chanting exhibitions of the Gyuto "Tantric choir," and there is no doubt the cultural display of old Tibet is charming and beautiful, that culture is of the past. Besides nostalgic yearning, Americans have no need to provide a cultural hothouse in which to preserve a displaced theocratic culture. It will be humiliating for Tibetans to continue to sell their traditions on stage for small change. Better to move on. Old things are lost forever. And often times, this is not a bad thing. Things die so that new things can be born. The Tibetans can let new ideas be born in themselves. Why hold on to old ways that aren't useful or relevant any longer? Indeed, young Tibetans are like young people everywhere. They have no desire to follow the ways of a culture that has left its roots in the distant soil of the Tibetan heartland, particularly if they can actually move to the West. If their religion works for them, great. If they can find adherents who also find value in Tibetan Buddhism, their religion business may also prosper in the marketplace of ideas. I think it likely, however, that Tibetan Buddhism will survive only in stripped-down forms, once the cultish fascination with arcane rituals has dissipated. The Tibetan clerics should prepare for this development. While possibly not as devastating as the failure of the dot.coms and the electricity crisis is for California, the effects will be felt as the West burns through yet another religious fad.

DHARMA FOR THE WEST

Now that I am no longer a "Tibetan" Buddhist, and have learned to think for myself, and am not hammered down by negative views of myself and the universe, like sin and samsara, etc., the World seems very exciting to me in a way I never knew before. Human beings are marvelous creations, so very intelligent and creative. I think there is tremendous hope all around us and ahead of us. Besides the fact that the world and our minds spontaneously exist without our having labored to create them, which should be enough of a miracle for anyone, there are reasons for optimism about the prospects for a good life for humanity on earth. Slowly, we are all speaking the same language. Since war often is the result of miscommunication, with fuller communication among the nations, war could become obsolete. As war decreases, resources are going to be freed up, which will enable us to improve the lot of people and the planet. As we communicate with each other about our similar needs, and global resource competition meets with a world pool of intellectual capital, standards of living may equalize. Science is allowing us to see the wonder of the universe and of our selves in a way that has never happened before. Our visions are expanding. Someday we'll be able to travel through the universe. And who knows, maybe someday we'll even agree on what it means to meditate, and who we are.

We can open ourselves to a world that will truly inspire us. We should be careful about adopting a world view that equates the outer world with ugliness and evil (samsara), and which urges "retreat" into "meditation" as the only refuge from a doomed existence. Quite simply, we shouldn't use Buddhism to become depressed about the state of the world. We should believe we can make things better for everyone and everything. If everyone can be a bit of an activist, and do their part, I feel sure we can change the world to be a better place for everyone. For me, that's Dharma.



I want to thank my husband, Charles Carreon, who has traveled the Buddhist path with me for almost as long as we have been married, which is 27 years, for his enormous contribution to this article.


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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby Joe Hillshoist » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:10 pm

In the West Tantra seems to be practised and promoted by the same people who would find themselves on a thugees target list. That says alot.

Its one thing to see sex as sacred and build rituals with it. Its another to shatter all taboos, and all of the rigid stratifications that society builds, especially Indian society, which is so straight laced at its worst. That was the heart of tantra. Doing it properly has some fairly full on elements. Smearing yourself with shit to get over your fear of "dirtiness" for example. So much of modern culture is about the commodification of spirituality and the spirituality of commodification. It has nothing to do with the original point of any spiritual practice which is the opposite of commodification.

The only taboos we really have these days is infringing other peoples rights. Really. Oh and celibacy. Gay people are getting married these days, so even taboos of 40 years ago are gone. The only ones left revolve around the nature of consent, and ... well breaking them just isn't on. It kind of goes against the origins of the whole concept of tantra, and basic respect for other humans. Etc etc. As far as sex goes,
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby undead » Sat Aug 27, 2011 8:33 am

There is some interesting information in the above articles, however to blame tantra is a lot like blaming herb when people have problems from using it. The problems that arise from the guru-disciple relationship are not inherent in all tantric practices. The basic concept of tantric sex, the retention can conservation of fluids to be recirculated through the body, is biologically valid and can help many people with a variety of problems. Considering that the currently accepted treatment of mental problems is to take a drug that cuts off the sex drive completely, it is not surprising that the establishment is not keen on promoting better, more intimate sex as a solution to mental and emotion problems.

Today with the internet and so much information, there is really no need to follow a guru. You can learn this stuff yourself and there are even some people who teach as coaches rather than gurus. Here is a site that is particularly good for beginners that has lessons in kundalini and tantra practices:

http://aypsite.org

But there is more to it, she believes, than that. Teaching at Sharpham last week she gave the students a whole range of material about different kinds of feminism - from the political to the psychotherapeutic. She then asked them how it relates to the fact that there are no female Buddha images, or to why in Tantric sex images the woman always has her back to the viewer, or to why Buddhist women are told to pray that they will be reborn into a male body in their next life - for only in a man's body can they attain full enlightenment.


This is not true - there are female Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:03 am

undead wrote:There is some interesting information in the above articles, however to blame tantra is a lot like blaming herb when people have problems from using it. The problems that arise from the guru-disciple relationship are not inherent in all tantric practices. The basic concept of tantric sex, the retention can conservation of fluids to be recirculated through the body, is biologically valid and can help many people with a variety of problems. Considering that the currently accepted treatment of mental problems is to take a drug that cuts off the sex drive completely, it is not surprising that the establishment is not keen on promoting better, more intimate sex as a solution to mental and emotion problems.
I don't think the Carreons are speaking out against spiritual approaches to sex, per se.

In fact, if you were to ask them about it, I think they would probably say they find great value in it! :sun: :angelwings: :lovehearts: :yay



On the other hand certain archaic approaches to sex magic, especially as taught by some Tibetan lamas to disciples in "the West", that I'm sure they certainly do have criticism of. :-|


undead wrote:
Today with the internet and so much information, there is really no need to follow a guru.

Now with this they may agree...
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:47 am

These are interesting resources for a critique of Tibetan Tantric sex practices:



Tantric Buddhism– V. and V. Trimondi
http://www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Part-1-02.htm



The “Tantric Female Sacrifice"– V. and V. Trimondi
http://www.trimondi.de/SDLE/Part-1-03.htm
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby Simulist » Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:09 am

When disciples die, do they see someone else's life flash before their eyes?
"The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego."
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Sat Aug 27, 2011 6:03 pm

MAY BE TRIGGERING TO TRAUMA SURVIVORS

Charles Carreon wrote:http://www.american-buddha.com/tids.htm

Catherine Burroughs

Catherine Burroughs began her career as a garden-variety psychic medium who purported to “channel” the spirits of wisdom teachers who had long ago departed this earth. Operating from her suburban lair near Washington, D.C., Burroughs tapped the manic energy that drives the over-achieving technocrats and hyperactive communicators who swarm through the bureaucratic warrens of the nation’s capital. Gifted with a knack for giving orders, Burroughs imposed heavy demands on her followers, pressing them into keeping a twenty-four hour world peace vigil that induced heavy competition among her devotees.

Burroughs’ transformation to Guru-hood was also accomplished with the aid of a Tibetan lama, who was wowed by her ability to maintain a stable of high-achieving, top-dollar donating students. Gyatrul Rinpoche, a Vajrayana teacher of the Nyingma sect who had established his own temple near Ashland, Oregon, endorsed Burroughs as a tulku, a reincarnated Bodhisattva, or “Hero of Enlightenment.” Burroughs saw the opening, and quickly negotiated a merger of her people skills with the established cachet of the two-thousand year-old Vajrayana brand, assuming the name of Jetsun Akhon Norbu Lhamo, and redecorating her temple with a blend of traditional Tibetan imagery and New Age crystals. “Jetsunma,” as she came to be familiarly known, assumed her place on the traditional lama’s throne, donned resplendent brocade robes, and doffed the peaked “lotus hat” that lamas wear on ceremonial occasions. The effect would have been silly if anyone with ordinary sensibilities had been able to view the proceedings; but by then the critical mass of Student-side TIDS sufferers had generated a field of delusive glamour, and Burroughs’ unabashed self-love conquered all hearts. For a while.

As her authority grew unchecked, her antisocial inclinations and intolerance with dissent waxed ever more virulent. Burroughs’ demands for money and power crescendoed in a rampage of bizarre behavior that included serial marriages to several students twenty years her junior, rapacious financial exploitation of her flock, and culminated in her arrest by the Maryland State Police for battery on a young nun. Shortly thereafter, Burroughs moved to Sedona, Arizona, and in almost clichéd fashion, Burroughs predicted a series of “earth catastrophes” that failed to take place in 1999.


Here is a story about the horrific harassment which "Jetsunma" has apparently endured:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/27/techn ... .html?_r=2
August 26, 2011

Case of 8,000 Menacing Posts Tests Limits of Twitter Speech
By SOMINI SENGUPTA


Even the Buddha of compassion might have been distressed to be on the receiving end of the diatribes that William Lawrence Cassidy is accused of posting on Twitter.

They certainly rattled Alyce Zeoli, a Buddhist leader based in Maryland. Using an ever-changing series of pseudonyms, the authorities say, Mr. Cassidy published thousands of Twitter posts about Ms. Zeoli. Some were weird horror-movie descriptions of what would befall her; others were more along these lines: “Do the world a favor and go kill yourself. P.S. Have a nice day.”

Those relentless tweets landed Mr. Cassidy in jail on charges of online stalking and placed him at the center of an unusual federal case that asks the question: Is posting a public message on Twitter akin to speaking from an old-fashioned soapbox, or can it also be regarded as a means of direct personal communication, like a letter or phone call?

Twitter posts have fueled defamation suits in civil courts worldwide. But this is a criminal case, invoking a somewhat rarely used law on cyberstalking. And it straddles a new, thin line between online communications that can be upsetting — even frightening — and constitutional safeguards on freedom of expression.

Federal authorities say Mr. Cassidy’s Twitter messages caused Ms. Zeoli “substantial emotional distress” and made her fear for her life, so much so that she once did not leave home for 18 months and hired armed guards to protect her residence.

In a complaint filed in federal court in Maryland, the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that Mr. Cassidy had published 8,000 Twitter posts, almost all of them about Ms. Zeoli and her Buddhist group, along with similar posts on several blogs.

Mr. Cassidy’s lawyers with the federal public defender’s office argue that even offensive, emotionally distressing speech is protected by the First Amendment when it is conveyed on a public platform like Twitter. Legal scholars say the case is significant because it grapples with what can be said about a person, particularly a public person like a religious leader, versus what can be said to a person.

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, offered an analogy: the difference between harassing telephone calls and ranting from a street-corner pulpit. “When the government restricts speech to one person, the speaker remains free to speak to the public at large,” Mr. Volokh argued.

Certainly Mr. Cassidy’s previous trespasses have not helped him. He has a record of assault, arson and domestic violence. According to the federal complaint, he was also convicted of carrying an unspecified “dangerous weapon” onto a plane in 1993.

But the defense has taken pains to point out that across the Internet, people post things that may cause emotional distress to others: an unkind review of a book on Amazon, even an unvarnished assessment by a college student on RateMyProfessors.com. They point out, moreover, that Mr. Cassidy lived across the country in California and is not accused of getting anywhere close to Ms. Zeoli. He is now in jail in Maryland pending trial.

In support of a defense motion to dismiss the case, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group based in San Francisco, appealed to the court to protect online expression.

“While not all speech is protected by the First Amendment, the idea that the courts must police every inflammatory word spoken online not only chills freedom of speech but is unsupported by decades of First Amendment jurisprudence,” it wrote.

Born in Canarsie, Brooklyn, Ms. Zeoli is considered to be a reincarnated master in the Tibetan Buddhist religious tradition, and is known to her followers as Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo. She is an avid Twitter user, with 23,000 followers. A representative for Ms. Zeoli said she declined to be interviewed for this article.

According to the F.B.I. and Ms. Zeoli’s lawyer, Mr. Cassidy also claimed to be a reincarnated Buddhist when he joined Ms. Zeoli’s organization, Kunzang Palyul Choling, in 2007. He signed up using a false name and claimed to have had lung cancer, they said. Ms. Zeoli’s organization cared for him and, briefly, even appointed him to its executive team. The relationship soured after they came to doubt his reincarnation credentials and found that his claims of cancer were false. Mr. Cassidy left. Then came the relentless tweets, they said.

“A thousand voices call out to (Victim 1) and she cannot shut off the silent scream,” read one in the summer of 2010, as redacted in the criminal complaint.

“Ya like haiku? Here’s one for ya. Long limb, sharp saw, hard drop,” read another.

Shanlon Wu, a former federal prosecutor who is representing Ms. Zeoli, likened the tweets to “handwritten notes.” Every time Ms. Zeoli blocked the messages, more appeared from a different Twitter account. Ms. Zeoli for some time stopped using Twitter altogether.

“She felt constantly attacked and monitored by these anonymous people, and the attacks went on whether or not she was online,” Mr. Wu said by e-mail.

Twitter, in response to a subpoena, revealed the Internet protocol address of the computer used to post the messages. The authorities found Mr. Cassidy at home in a small Southern California town called Lucerne Valley. Similar rants were posted on blogs that law enforcement authorities say they traced to him. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

The case is an example of the many ways in which the law is having to wrestle with behavior on new, rapidly changing modes of communication.

Similar issues have come up in state courts: a boy who hacked into the Facebook account of an acquaintance was charged with felony identity theft, and a student who bombarded a professor with mean e-mail was accused of disturbing the peace.

“Technology creates new ways for people to interact with each other,” said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California. “You have to figure out if old law maps to new interactions.”

Twitter is an especially vexing new tool. It prompts ordinary people who use it to create public personas and it can put celebrities, including religious leaders, in direct contact with a large and sometimes unruly following, including some who insist on using pseudonyms.

“How do you cope with them?” Mr. Goldman wondered aloud. “Do you just block them? Or do you make a federal case out of it?”


Here is a critical account of some horrific practices attributed to "Jetsunma", aka "Catherine Burroughs", aka "Alyce Zeoli":

"VEE HAVE VEYS OF MAKING YOU LOVE SENTIENT BEINGS" -- NAZI METHODS OF INDUCING "BODHICITTA"

by Tara and Charles Carreon


"Afterward we watched a documentary of animals being tested in labs, kittens being injected with flea spray, monkeys struggling against restraints while medical researchers smashed their skulls with a giant cow puncher as a way to study head trauma. After that there was a movie about lambs being slaughtered."
-- "The Buddha From Brooklyn," by Martha Sherrill


If you wouldn't do it to your kid, why do it to yourself? Jetsunma was using these insanely violent images to induce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD"). According to the American Psychiatric Association, "psychological damage ... can result from experiencing, witnessing, or participating in an overwhelmingly traumatic event."

There are two types of horrible events that can cause PTSD when witnessed:

Seeing another person violently killed or injured;

Unexpectedly seeing a dead body or body parts.

Dr. Manaan Kar Ray

Jetsunma used this Nazi mind control trick to isolate her prey from sources of support. As the APA says, one of the symptoms is "Avoidance [which causes] the person [to] avoid close emotional ties with family, colleagues, and friends."

The symptoms of avoidance may also create a stunned mental state, much-desired by spiritual seekers, who hate emotions and crave a peaceful mental state. The APA describes this symptom of avoidance resulting from witnessing trauma: "At first, the person feels numb, has diminished emotions, and can complete only routine, mechanical activities. Later, when reexperiencing the event, the individual may alternate between the flood of emotions caused by reexperiencing and the inability to feel or express emotions at all."

Dechen, whom Jetsunma immediately identified as afflicted with low self esteem, was predisposed to PTSD by identified risk factors:

"The psychological history of a person may include risk factors for developing PTSD after a traumatic event:

Borderline personality and/or dependent personality disorders;

Low self-esteem;

Neuroticism;

Pre-existing negative beliefs;

Previous trauma.

"People with borderline personality disorder often have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and parental loss or separation. Dependent personality disorder is characterized by low self-esteem, fear of separation, and the excessive need to be cared for by others. All of these features may predispose someone for PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event."

According to Dr. Ray, "People who have experienced previous trauma(s) are at risk for developing PTSD. Repeated exposure to trauma causes hyperactive release of stress hormones, which may be instrumental in creating symptoms of PTSD." Dechen was in a perfect condition for being thrown into acute PTSD after the automobile accident. Setting up the tribunal in the dark house, dressing in black leather, assaulting her victims in front of an audience of sycophants: it is a textbook case of brutalizing a vulnerable person into mental hell.

Dechen was forced to witness the brutalizing of her monk-boyfriend, and also to directly experience additional trauma. The types of directly experienced traumas that are known to cause PTSD are:

1. Combat;
2. Kidnapping;
3. Natural disasters (e.g., fire, tornado, earthquake);
4. Catastrophic accident (e.g., auto, airplane, mining);
5. Violent sexual assault;
6. Violent physical assault.

Dechen had just been in a car crash, in which she suffered severe concussions and cranial lacerations requiring stitches (number 4). She was effectively kidnapped and abandoned by her mush-brained mother, who obediently delivered her directly from the hospital into Jetsunma's clutches (number 2). Jetsunma shows up dressed in combat gear, black leather (evoking number 1). She then subjects Dechen to a violent physical assault (number 6). Hey, four out of six ain't bad.

After these traumatizing events, Dechen was subjected to social ostracism, forced to do only menial tasks like toilet cleaning and floor scrubbing, required to pray many rounds of penance (Vajrasattva), and otherwise kept in a traumatized state.

Of course, all the monks and nuns who participated in this horror show were also being given a booster shot of trauma for themselves. These repeat inoculations of trauma help maintain the submissive character that is so desirable in a devotee. Still capable of performing routine activities, they remain productive. Alienated from their families, they are unlikely to break away from the group. Stifled in their emotions, they are unlikely to develop distracting relationships that diminish their dedication to the guru. Well-developed devotees of course enjoy imbibing another dose of trauma, which is considered good discipline. The Christian flagellants, Hindu faqirs, and Tibetan ascetics raised the self-administration of trauma to the level of high art. But Jetsunma's muscled celibates did not intend to be outdone. Devotees of pain are like no others.
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:35 am

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A TEST FOR AUTHORITARIANISM

by Skinny

A good way of determining whether pernicious authoritarianism exists - as opposed to Buddha's claims of knowledge or practical prescriptions for getting to greater happiness, let's say - might be to check to see whether the authoritarian means are actually getting in the way of the end: "transmitting fundamental understandings of truth".

I can suggest a couple tests for this:

1) How much detritus has been swept up into the tradition that's now "the authorized version"? For example, if whole other Gods, techniques and religious systems that never show up in the most authentic dialogues of Buddha are now coming along for the ride, perhaps including Gods that are antithetical to peaceful old Buddha, that's a pretty big clue right there. Authoritarianism for it's own sake usually wanders with time from the original knowledge, forgetting some things (usually anti-authoritarian or skeptical sentiments) and adding a whole lot, often seemingly randomly. The cause for this is simple - authoritarianism isn't about throwing things away, but preserving everything, and it adds the successive eccentric teachings of many leaders, as well as the misunderstandings, dreams, "visions" and delusions of many followers. Authoritarian religions tend either to stick extremely rigidly to one text (not to mention any names), or to become very complex.

I don't mean to suggest that innovation shouldn't be possible in religion - but it's worth noting that authoritarianism often corrupts and then buries in junk what it purports to be carrying forward - while accumulating the strangest barnacles. Innovations should be sparing and well-justified, not manifold, ill-organized and unexplained.

In other words, pernicious authoritarian systems generally have very poor garbage collection. So beware of ornate beliefs - Buddha had none.

2) If questions can't be asked, or aren't carefully answered. Authority answers questions fully - it actually believes that's its job, that that's what it means be an Authority. Authoritarianism ignores or punishes sharp questions and tries to prevent others from answering them as well. True, Buddha did refuse some questions, as being outside his expertise or interest, but he carefully answered skepticism and never insulted an honest inquiry whether it stemmed from knowledge, ignorance or foolishness.

In other words, pernicious authoritarianism doesn't listen - often not even long enough to find out enough about the culture and people it is addressing to state it's own message accurately, much less long enough to find out what those addressed know or have learned, or what they are ready to learn next.

3) Are the original principles applied to the Authorities themselves or do they regard themselves as above such consistency? If Buddha was enlightened without special ingredient X, do the authorities nonetheless insist on it now? Are they honest? Uninterested in material things? Practical in their spriitual goals? Do they ask things Buddha didn't and wouldn't ask of his followers, and is there a suggested retail price for what they have to give? Hint: in no place in any sutra does Buddha let slip a suggested retail price.

In other words, is knowledge the real authority, or are the authorities themselves usurping that role?

4) Secrecy. Yes, there can be good reasons not to discuss (and to burn down with the intellect) bridges a student hasn't yet gotten near; but remember that pernicious Authorities are always secretive to one extent or another, because it makes their job easier. Buddha had no secret teachings and thought it important to point this out, although it's fair to suggest that he did explain the same things differently to different people.

5) (The often unspoken or unconscious) Belief in a delusion-free zone. Whatever the color of curtains, or kind of incense, or rhythm of the chant; there are no delusion-free zones.

In summary, if your teacher challenges you to think again, great. If your teacher insists you not think, new teacher. For only free people can become realized - it's little use to peer into the soul of the person in front of you (to quote Woody Allen) or to learn how to leap over your Guru's obstacles (you may just be polishing them with your butt instead). Since Buddhism is little more than freeing ourselves from Authority within that swears to the reality of objects, self, permanence and so forth, it's little use (but greatly tempting!) to simply switch to authoritarianism outside the self and keep on goosestepping.

When Buddha lifts up a flower, you need to be able to smile, even though no-one else in the crowd does.


.
"If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."
-Malcolm X
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Re: Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome ("TIDS")

Postby American Dream » Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:10 pm

.

Excerpted from “THE GURU PAPERS” by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad:


Recognizing Authoritarian Control

Surrendering to a guru brings instant intimacy with all who share the same values. In a world where traditional values are crumbling, bringing brittle, hedonistic ways of relating, many feel alone and disconnected. Acceptance by and identification with the group induce a loosening of personal boundaries. This opening consequently increases the emotional content of one's life, bringing purpose, meaning, and hope. It is no wonder that those who join such groups rave about how much better they feel than previously. But this quick, one-dimensional bonding is based solely upon a shared ideology. No matter how intense and secure it feels, should one leave the fold, it evaporates as quickly as it formed.

Surrender is the glue that binds guru and disciple. Being a disciple offers the closest approximation (outside of mental institutions) to the special configuration of infancy. Surrender is a route that enables disciples to experience again, at least partially, the conflict-free innocence that is the source of their atavistic longings. Among these, perhaps most important is the feeling of once again being totally cared for. Surrendering to any authority brings this about to some extent, but with a guru it reaches vast dimensions. The guru reinforces this by letting it be known that all who follow him are and will be especially protected. For the follower, this feels like being protected by God.

This dependent state satisfies other longings that stem from infancy. Once again, one experiences being at the center of the universe--if not directly (the guru occupies that space), at least closer to the center than one could have thought possible. The guru also puts out the image of the totally accepting parent--the parent one never had but always wanted. So disciples believe they are loved unconditionally, even though this love is conditional on continued surrender. Disciples in the throes of surrender feel that they have given up their past, and do not, consciously at least, fear the future. In addition, they feel more powerful through believing that the guru and the group are destined to greatly influence the world. Feeling totally cared for and accepted, at the universe's center, powerful, and seemingly unafraid of the future are all achieved at the price of giving one's power to another, thus remaining essentially a child.

Surrendering to an authority who dictates what's right is a quick, mechanical route to feeling more virtuous. It is a fast track for taking on a moral system and to some extent following it. But more, that act of surrender itself can feel like giving up or at least diminishing one's ego, which is presented as a sign of spiritual progress. All renunciate moral systems have as prime virtues selflessness and obedience to some higher authority. If confused or in conflict, conforming to programming can make one feel immediately better. Obedience itself can feel selfless. The conditioning here runs deep. Children are praised for obedience, which fundamentally means doing what the parent wants instead of what they want. When disobedient, a child is often called selfish, which is never a compliment. Surrendering to an authority and then being rewarded for it is part of being a child. It may be true that there is no way out of this. Yet there is a world of difference between parenting aimed at holding on to authority, and parenting that leads children to self-trust. We are certain that children raised to trust themselves would be far less susceptible to authoritarian control. No matter how much better one initially feels, anything that undermines self-trust in the long run is detrimental to becoming an adult.

Disciples usually become more attached to the psychological state that surrender brings than to the guru, whom they never really get to know as a person. Repudiation of the guru (or even doubt and questioning) means a return to earlier conflict, confusion, and meaninglessness. The deeper the surrender, and the more energy and commitment they put into the guru, the greater their emotional investment is. Disciples will thus put up with a great deal of contradictory and aberrant behavior on the guru's part, for doubting him literally means having their world fall apart.

This is why many who are involved in authoritarian surrender adamantly deny they are. Those who see the dissembling in other gurus or leaders can find countless ways to believe that their guru is different. It is not at all unusual to be in an authoritarian relationship and not know it. In fact, knowing it can interfere with surrender. Any of the following are strong indications of belonging to an authoritarian group:

1. No deviation from the party line is allowed. Anyone who has thoughts or feelings contrary to the accepted perspective is made to feel wrong or bad for having them.

2. Whatever the authority does is regarded as perfect or right. Thus behaviors that would be questioned in others are made to seem different and proper.

3. One trusts that the leader or others in the group know what's best.

4. It is difficult to communicate with anyone not in the group.

5. One finds oneself defending actions of the leader (or other members) without having firsthand knowledge of what occurred.

6. At times one is confused and fearful without knowing why. This is a sign that doubts are being repressed.

The age-old inquiry that asks "Who am I?" looks inside for self-discovery. The process of digging deeper into oneself reveals there are self-images constructed out of the past that are part of one's identity. The true meaning of spiritual surrender involves letting go of self-defining images that limit who one is and can be. Within this inner inquiry one also comes to realize that one is part of a larger context. Surrendering to those who present themselves as a better or more real representative of that larger context perverts the true beauty and meaning of surrender. On the contrary, surrendering to another as the gateway to salvation keeps people dependent, childish, and living second-handedly. Surrender as an adult encompasses realizing that all of us are an interwoven part of a larger process that both creates and is created by its components. This involves being able both to control life and to surrender to what life offers. It does not involve giving up one's power or identity.

The only way any living system works well is to have information flowing freely between its parts and its environment. This is particularly essential with human beings, in order to counteract the inbuilt nature of subjectivity and the biasing filters of self-interest. The guru/disciple relationship, which is inherently authoritarian, cuts off the necessary flow of information for both, creating a feedback-proof system. If any degree of objectivity can ever be obtained, it is only through open minds that change with changing information.


Continues at: http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gu ... rs-on.html
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