Why must we shut down OTD and anyone associated with him here?

A reader asked me to unpack OTD’s Kagyu Monlam Panama Papers scandal for him.

I’m behind on the news. How is the Kagyu Monlam illegal? Or, is it just unethical?
Are the Kagyu receiving money directly from the Chinese government or just Chinese citizens? If it’s tied directly to the government, is it specific government officials, who are Buddhists? Or, is it a larger conspiracy of an entire government controlling a religion in India?
It’s hard to unravel the puzzle. And, the Karma Kagyu aren’t selling arms or drugs…right? Or, are the same donors in the weapons business. If that’s the case, we have some negative karmic forces at work that are manipulating the 17th Karmapa. Yikes!

My response.

The issue is this, in 2016 OTD was caught paying for his Kagyu Monlam prayer festival with Chinese money.

Nothing else matters.

Tibetans in exile apparently don’t care where OTD gets his money.

We do.

In 2008 OTD was caught laundering money.

In 2010 he was charged for laundering money.

He pleaded his innocence.

According to OTD it was all a big misunderstanding.

The Indian Government dropped the charges.

Thanks in no small part to the racism of low expectations, our bad, we believed him.

Or at least have him the benefit of doubt.

He’s Tibetan so how could anyone expect him to know any better.

Anyway, more racism on our part, India is one of the most corrupt societies in the world.

It is awash with black money.

This is what money you can’t account for where you got it is called in India.

Black money.

It’s so much a problem there that last year India had to take all its currency from circulation and issue a new currency.

And so on.

Here’s the rub as far as we are concerned.

This is about us.

This isn’t about them.

In 2010 OTD claimed that he would henceforth be financially transparent.

He lied.

According to the Panama Papers since 2007 OTD has been paying for his Kagyu Monlam prayer festival with black money.

This is money he can’t account for where it came from.

We know this because he hid it in an offshore bank account.

If he could account for said money he wouldn’t have had to hide it in an offshore bank account.

What OTD was hiding from us was that he was receiving Chinese money.

Just as wth the case with Ponlop Rinpoche changing his name to hide his marriage to a Chinese woman it is a given that any connection to China is problematic for us here.

OTD knows this.

In 1959 the 16th Karmapa fled the Chinese.

Nothing has changed for us here.

China remains the very same dictatorship that the 16th Karmapa fled in 1959.

Here’s the kicker.

What has changed since 1959 are today’s Tibetans.

That OTD has been using Chinese money to fund his Kagyu Monlam OTD, that he used the very same law firm used by members of the Chinese Government to launder their own money, isn’t a problem for Tibetans at this point.

They know who OTD is and have convinced themselves that he is his future,

That this future is as part of China is something not even the Dalai Lama disputes.

For us though this is the smoking gun, a direct connection between OTD and the Chinese Government.

This a gross simplification but there you have it, long story short.

In 2o16 OTD could have come clean with us.

If he had fired his Labrang, Ponlop Rinpoche’s brother, the party responsible for the above, all would have been forgiven.

Again, the racism of low expectations, our bad.

Tibetans will be Tibetans.

All of which brings us to 2017.

Since we are talking about an annual prayer festival there was always the question of what he would do when it came to this years Kagyu Monlam.

The other shoe to drop.

In 2016 OTD’s Kagyu Monlam prayer festival was widely condemned for its million dollar price tag.

It was quite the spectacle.

This year OTD dialed it back.

It was a private affair.

Monks only.

No public allowed.

No press.

And now the other shoe has dropped.

There can be no walking this scandal back at this point.

OTD’s downfall is not the crime of laundering money, he has been hiding money since 2007 but the cover up of his laundering the money he has been receiving from the Chinese over the course of the past decade.

And now we have a second offshore bank account OTD is using to launder his Chinese money.

And so on.

At this point now that OTD did indeed go ahead with his 2017 Kagyu prayer festival, as if we didn’t know how he was paying for it, it is too late for him to do what he should have done in 2016.

He doubled down on his bet that we, like Tibetans, don’t care where his money comes from.

For Tibetans financial malfeasance, fraud, and so on is a given for them.

It isn’t a given for us.

No Buddhist teacher here could survive anything like OTD’s Kagyu Monlam Panama Papers scandal.

We don’t care whether or not OTD broke this or that law.

OTD violated our trust in him as 17th Karmapa.

End of story.

And for this he must step down as the leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and all his responsibilities as such until the Tibetan Government can certify to our satisfaction that the Karma Kagyu lineage as an institution is financially transparent and free of any and all Chinese influence in its operations.

Tibetans don’t care.

We do.

This isn’t about them.

This about us, what kind of Buddhist we are, and what we want to associate our practice of Buddhism with.

Let the resistance begin now in earnest.

The time for questioning OTD’s actions is over.

It is time for all woke Buddhists whoever you are and whatever form of Buddhism you practice to stand against OTD and any Buddhist teacher, any Buddhist organization, any Buddhist media in our country whom associates themselves in any way with OTD until we sort out for ourselves what in the world happened to the Karma Kagyu lineage.

Shut it down!

Shut it down!

Shut it down!



Filed under Buddhism

20 responses to “Why must we shut down OTD and anyone associated with him here?

  1. okiebuddhist

    I’m awake now. Thanks for summarizing the entire scandal. I feel quite betrayed by the Karma Kagyu leaders when it comes to financing a corporate empire quite similar to Scientology.

    I’ll take it all to my daily practice. I’m not discouraged with my practice, but I’d say I’ve been bamboozled by my current naivity.

    I’ll continue to practice Mahamudra as taught to me by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche.

  2. J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

    I’m not sure this is illegal or non-transparent. They likely trust their cash to someone who understands money. The monks I’ve met are incredibly naive when it comes to handling money. They really have no clue about the difference between $100 and $10,000 dollars because they are from third world countries. Add this to the fact that ethics in banking is an extremely relative field. Other than flat out stealing money it is hard to judge what is truly right or wrong. Are taxes ethical is interest ethical? Hard to say. They could be up to something or they could be up to nothing or they may be trusting people who are up to something. AFAIK there are no charges being leveled at them regarding this currently.

    • This explains how it happened.

      Frankly, I can’t speak of Tibetans as you have here.

      It isn’t politically correct.

      I feel you on the subject and your observation is noted.

      I have to credit OTD with the competence to appreciate what he has done.

      He lied to us.

      And now he has doubled down on this lie.

      People with nothing to hide don’t hide their money in offshore bank accounts.

      He has been caught in the act.

      This isn’t about whether OTD violated this or that law.

      He violated our trust.

  3. Peter

    Perhaps you can help me to understand something. You seem to have a very open and accepting approach to Trungpa and all of his dubious ways. You might even say you have a Vajrayana, crazy wisdom view of all his shenanigans and work it all into your practice. And yet when it comes to OTD you click over into a very prescriptive Mahayana set of purist expectations about his behaviour and trust etc. you want to shut him down completely over some money handling but put Trungpa up on a pedestal even though there remain serious ethical questions about what he was up to. Why is that?

    • I haven’t a Mahayana bone in my body.

      OTD lied to me.

      You lie to me I’m going to fuck you up big time.

      Trungpa never lied to me.

      I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what he did with his followers.

      Chicago Dharmadhatu was a rival to my Chicago KTC.

      Vajradhara, empty, luminous, and capable of anything is my measure of all thing Karma Kagyu for me.

      Trungpa was true to form in this regard in all things.

      Nobody ever knew what he would do next.

      He was an original.

      OTD has been caught in a lie.

      He doubled down on that lie.

      All that remains for us at this point is to determine whether he is a crook or an idiot.

      I submit this for your consideration.

  4. David Westbury

    Bill in 2014 you wrote in this blog:

    Trungpa was a sexual predator prior to coming to the West. He knocked up a nun in India. As a subject of discussion, this is entirely on Tibetans and their Buddhism.”

    You also condemned his sexual relations with a 15 year old. If I’m not mistaken he was still in robes on both occasions. How is this not a lie?

    That you would now allow for statutory rape but be so outraged by the mishandling of donations by OTD sits oddly.

    • In 1962, 55 years ago Trungpa Rinpoche had sex with a nun, the Sakyong’s mother, and continued to wear robes until 1969.

      I was three years old at the time.

      As a founding member of Chicago KTC and a Karma Kagyu lama Trungpa’s history is of no concern to me other than as it pertains to the role he played in our history as a lineage between 1974 and 1981.

      In 2010 OTD lied to us.

      He has been hiding money in an offshore bank account since 2007.

      In 2016 OTD was caught.

      He could have come clean with us but he chose otherwise.

      His 2017 Kagyu Monlam is a huge “Fuck You” to us.

      Now it turns out he has a second offshore account.

      Shut it down.

      We have no choice but to shut down OTD and anyone associated with him until we get to the bottom of his financial relationship with the Chinese.

      This isn’t about donations.

      This isn’t about accounting procedures.

      This is about us.

      No Buddhist teacher here could survive a scandal of this magnitude.

      Nor will OTD.

  5. Peter Westfield

    I followed the story in India regarding the Karmapa and the millions of foreign cash. My recollection was that the monastery was found to have a large amount of chinese cash but also malayasian and singaporean monies as well. In fact I think there was monies from 20 different countries of which only $100 000 was chinese. Sure we all want transparency in our religious institutions but having off shore accounts isn’t illelgal in any way. In fact it can be seen to being smart with your money especially due to typically dodgy indian banking systems. I donate money to an old refugee in Nepal who refuses to use their banks cause of the corruption.

    • OTD lied.

      His silence is thus unacceptable.

      This is easily addressed.

      That he hasn’t spoken to us about what happened.

      The Panama Papers caught OTD hiding Chinese money in an offshore bank account.

      He used the same law firm as members of the Chinese Government use.

      This is unacceptable.

      No leader of a Buddhist sangha here could ever survive such a scandal.

      And neither will OTD.

  6. Starshine

    I’m wondering how this really matters. Not that these matters don’t appear to be incriminating on an ethical level, but I wonder how they apply to dharma practice.
    It’s a dark labyrinth leading nowhere but down when you focus on the faults of everyone else.
    Money has always been the root of all evil, yet we are all dependent on it to survive here.
    As far as legitimacy goes for popes, karmapas and other religious figures, I can’t say I give a damn at all.
    For those people who emotionally depend on such I feel sorry.
    It’s a look at your own self situation, where change is possible. Not a sheeple sort of thing.

  7. nikolas kaugon

    i was unaware of the whole story. i do remember the toronto lama for kk being caught with lots of cash at the chinese border and people were mad at me for suggesting maybe this was suspicious.

    this all makes me quite glad to not be karma kagyu, but that’s kinda smug i know.

    i know a few kk people with connections to lawyers for the kk in singapore, but i bet they won’t tell me a thing. it remains all very suspicious and unethical at the very least.

    as for trungpa, as a native nova scotian from the old franco gaelic community my beef is the trungpa students came to halifax and have picked up all the anglo bigotry that anglo halifax used to have against us, maybe they didn’t need to pick it up, as they are ‘murcans and ‘murcans are usually class and ethnic bigots.i have never been in contact with them when they were not arrogant insulting smug and sometimes speaking direct racist remarks. hard to get over that. these are not signs of enlightenment to me. in addition there was repeat sex abuse, and flouting of canadian criminal laws. i was recently called a fanatic but i was a canadian lawyer and any religious group that covers up sex abuse cases , “for the good of the sangha” is corruption encarnate. not impressed. do i sound pissed off? yup mighty fucking pissed off.

    thrugpa is proof, with trump, that you can sell anything to ‘murcans if you tell them they are special and going to be great. especially if you tell them they are great right now in their world of militarism and climate destruction.

    ok i’ll go do some just sitting now.

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