NEW YORK, US, 19 July 2016
Once an Indian couple was walking to some village on an errand and they met the Buddha on the way. The Buddha begged them for food. The wife gave him her lunch, while the husband refused to do so. The Buddha assured her that she had accumulated enormous spiritual merit and that she would be reborn in heaven. The husband told the Buddha not to lie for a meal! He added it was impossible to earn such a big reward with a small act of generosity.
The Buddha asked the husband if he knew a banyan tree that could grow large enough to provide shade to 500 chariots. The husband replied yes. Then the Buddha asked if he knew the size of a banyan seed and the husband replied yes, tiny. The Buddha said if a tiny seed can grow into a huge banyan tree, then one can also reap the reward of being reborn in heaven, through a small act of generosity!
Both the man and his wife fell for this clever analogy and became his followers. But, the analogy does not prove anything. Or does it? Of course an analogy is not meant to prove anything, but to bring about clarity — but this clarity is not leading to any truth. That is my whole point. It talks about something to explain, and people mistake this for evidence.
The Kongpo Ben and Jowo story is another example of “faith move mountains” story where statues speak! Tibetans consume the belief system without verifying facts, evidence, and logic.
The Buddha was against rites, rituals and idol worship. The Buddha encouraged doubting, questioning and investigative spirit. Unfortunately, most Tibetan Buddhists do just the opposite.
An average Tibetan family in exile spends RS 100,000 per year on the following:
- Incense, candles, junipers, butter lamps, prayer flags, divination fees, religious statues, and thankas.
- Sacred images, sacred altars, and frequent pujas by a dozen monks or so.
Around Rs 600 crores are burnt every year to ashes. We could invest this sum in education or empowerment of Tibetan women. Unfortunately, emotional gratification by the unknowable takes precedence over the search for truth. The Buddha must be rolling and throwing up in his grave. If the Buddha descends on earth today to see his followers, he might commit suicide. It might be hard for him to recognize the teaching he gave centuries ago. It has undergone a dramatic change for the worse.
Contrary to the Buddha’s advice, Tibetan society brings up their children to believe in Buddhist superstitions. Childhood indoctrination starts as early as six years old.
On monastic discipline the Buddha was against homosexuality but it is rampant in monasteries. Tibetan homosexuality or same-sex thigh sex involves an older monk with money with a younger girlish monk. I questioned my geshe friends. They responded that the Buddha banned only vaginal, oral and anal penetration. The Buddha did not even mention anything of cross-thigh monk to monk sex. Had the Buddha banned cross-thigh sex and masturbation, not even one monk would stand celibate! This outlet for the release of sexual tension has kept the monasteries sane and going for 2 millennia! That was their explanation.
Pedophilia is not uncommon either. Most pedophiles were themselves victims of pedophilia. Their impoverished parents shipped them to monasteries as young as six years old. But a sense of victimhood and trauma seem rare. The perception of normalness plays a part. Every monk, young or old, has a good laugh when the topic of thigh-sex is raised.
Then there is this “crazy wisdom”. It is bizarre sexual, drunken, or sometimes violent behavior on the part of the lamas that we mundane folks cannot fathom! And they get away with that! Buddha-in-the-flesh manipulation!
Once upon a time a tulku preyed upon young boys. The villagers feared and revered him. He was known for making uninvited sexual advances toward young women and married mothers. As a result, he got caught in fights with some enraged fathers and husbands. He sold two Tibetan women to prostitution in Mumbai. Flashing a photo of what Tibetans now know as Shugden, he would whip boys who escaped his lust. At the time Shugden controversy was not alive and most Tibetans knew nothing about it.
A boy of 13 had made his escape good, dashing across the stream and shrubs in the forest. The boy was 4 years older than me. He hid a mile away from the the wrathful tulku. The tulku was conducting his mandatory prayer session for young boys and girls in the village. The year was 1975. Then from nowhere one of his henchmen — an annoying character — appeared from the woods. He forced the boy to go to the tulku while promising that if beaten his sins would be washed away. What his sin was I do not know even today. Perhaps it was his sin of not submitting to the tulku’s lust. As soon as the boy reached the prayer yard in a rather fearful manner, the monster tulku pounced on him. This monster grabbed the boy’s left hand and whipped him on his back, rear and legs at least 30 times. The poor boy screamed his lungs out in pain. A hundred villagers watched in silence with some murmuring “om money pay me hung.”
Dozens of us naked kids would visit the clear stream nearby for a swim and sometimes for fishing, and we noticed the boy. He laid on a flat rock with all the marks on his body from the leathery whipping. It looked like a hundred red dark blue snakes coiled about his body. I am not naming names because many of the characters are dead so they can’t speak for themselves. There are others who do not want to be named. Besides, it’s not personal.
Then one day this tulku died a dishonorable painful death. His next reincarnation is not a Shugden worshiper. But he had a diametrically opposite story to tell about his experience as a novice in a monastery! Once after visiting his village, the boy — around 8 years old — refused to go back to his monastery. This was a year before being recognized as the wrathful tulku’s reincarnation. His parents could not figure this and got disturbed so they went to ask the village leader for help. When asked for his refusal the boy told them that his teacher thigh-raped him every other day and he hated it.
The village leader, an ex-monk, exploded into series of “I know” laughter. Perhaps he was reminiscing his monk days in Tibet. When asked what was funny about it, he replied that it was no big deal in monasteries in old Tibet. This episode became the talk of the town.
Whether homosexuality is against nature or not is not the point here. But it does go against the precept of celibacy. Pedophilia is a serious crime too. Just visit a monastery and spend about a month and befriend some monks over some momos and walk around. You will observe more smiley homosexual couples than you can count on a calculator! Sometimes they invite you to their apartment for a cup of tea or dinner. When you get close enough, most tell you the whole story. Violent thigh-rapes do occur. Violent fights over beautiful boys are not that common, but do exist nonetheless. A month after I landed at the monastery to teach; A gang of monks thigh-raped three adolescent monks. It was on the wild lawn along the roadside at around 8pm.
One well-built monk had a partner that many monks desired. The object of desire was guarded from their reaches. What unfolded was a crime that shook the monastery. One night a group of monks walked to the house where the couple lived and called out the well built monk’s name. When he came out at the gate unbeknownst to him, the gang of monks threw a monk’s robe over his head. They stabbed him several times with a dagger and disappeared in to the night. The wounded monk had to be rushed to a hospital where he almost succumbed to his injuries. Finally after recovery the couple left the monastery for good. But the monastery made no attempts to report the culprits to the police.
Ironically, given the choice 99% of monks are straight. They act gay out of sexual desperation and the ban on any sexual activity with the opposite sex. I asked the monks why just thigh-sex and why not go oral or anal. They explained that
- You are no longer a monk once you engage in any of these two sexual variations. You must quit the monastery immediately.
- If you stayed in as if nothing happened when in fact you went anal or oral or both, you will throw up blood and die! You will be reborn in the deepest hell which the scripture names as hell number 18!
The reason being, you offended the monastic deities with your sexual violation. The violation stirs the mental balance of the monastic community. It cast monastic sanity in a storm for which the least punishment is expulsion. The fear writ large on their face and demeanor seemed real. I am quite convinced 99% of the vow breakers would leave! But I can’t say so much about the other three schools of Buddhism, for they have much less vows to observe.
Tibetan Buddhists take divination pronouncements to their heart. Superstition has sunk its teeth so deep into the Tibetan psyche.
My friend received emails, calls and documents from some stranger in South Africa. That was in Kathmandu in 2000. The stranger was luring him to come to his country to pick up $15 million from a certain bank. The imposter claimed that my friend’s last name matched an account holder’s last name. The account holder was supposed to be deceased. And that the bank would give him 95% of the savings if he could cough up $5000 as an upfront. I advised him that it’s too good to be true. And that he should stay away from this scam that could cost him his limbs and life.
Unbeknownst to him, he was dealing with a gang of Internet criminals. It could end him up as their victim as a drug mule or something spending years behind bars. My advice fell on deaf ears. Along with his uncle and grandmother, he consulted three reputed divination performers in town. Lo and behold they all predicted that this was his catch of a lifetime and that he should go ahead! Matter of fact he did apply for a visa to South Africa!
The South African consulate rejected his visa application on the grounds that the address given by the invitation sponsor was a fake one. What a relief! Imagining what those criminals could have done to him if he had landed in South Africa is frightening.
Another friend had gall stones two years later. He had a non-surgical removal of his gall stones in Mysore. It proved a disaster. The surgeons were inexperienced interns. He was bleeding inside. I advised him to go Chennai hospital for an operation. Before taking any decision he wanted to consult at least three divination performers. One among the three he consulted is one of the highest lamas in the Tibetan Buddhist world. The dice was thrown and the divination performed. All advised him not to go to hospital for operation! They advised him to take Tibetan herbal pills to stop the internal bleeding. And they assured him that all would be well. But the bleeding did not stop and all was not well. He was bedridden and in bad shape. He had to be rushed to the hospital where he told the surgeon his divination story. The surgeon was shocked and angry.
He thundered, how a lama dare tell a patient to take herbal pills to stop internal bleeding. His internal tissues and organs were damaged. He explained pills do not correct damaged tissues and organs. It has never happened in the entire history of medicine. He demanded the divination performers’ phone numbers. He felt the need to hammer some sense into those sick divine bastards. My friend went through 2 operations and he is fine since then. Had he followed the divination performers’ advice he was dead. He would not be on earth today with his wife and their children. That, the doctor guaranteed.
This is the third and concluding part of Mila Rangzen's series on "Buddhist faith and the sleep of the Tibetan brain."
Other articles in the series, including comments from readers:
About the author
Mila Rangzen is a US armed forces veteran serving the New York Community as an immigration translator. He can be reached at [email protected]