A few months ago William Cassidy, self-proclaimed Tenpa Rinpoche, wrote on his blog about the prefab stupas he bought, and he was very mysterious about the source of them. Why? Turns out Cassidy had them shipped by Harvest Asia Pacific Co. from South Korea according to this website http://panjiva.com/Old-Rabbit-Mine/4233656. Oddly, The Harvest Asia Pacific Co., Ltd. has had only two customers (one of which is the Old Rabbit Mine, Cassidy’s company) and has had only three shipments in three years, one of which was the marble prefabricated Stupas. How does a company stay in business with only three customers in three years? Something smells fishy.
As previously posted here, until recently Cassidy was advertising the Bodhidharma Meditation Center located in Lucerne Valley. If you were setting up a legitimate dharma center and building a stupa park, wouldn’t you ship stupas under the name of the center rather than a company? And if not, why not? Again, there is something strange going on here. Incidentally, after recent posts on the Bodhidharma Meditation Center and the Old Rabbit Mine’s odd collection of embarrassing merchandise, Cassidy has dismantled both of these outlets.
However he does still have the Tibetan Buddhist Sangha of America registered with the Lucerne Valley address.
So why didn’t he ship his stupas c/o Tibetan Buddhist Sangha of America? He’s been associated with this organization for some time now. It is the organization he used when he charaded as Jigme Rinpoche while living in Las Vegas, according to www.buddhanet.info
A Google search of Tibetan Buddhist Sangha of America brings up this odd webpage.
No information about what they do, yet they are registered as a charity. There is only an email address. How mysterious.
What is Cassidy doing? What does one man in the desert need with all these nebulous companies and charitable organizations that apparently offer no products or services? Not sure, but he did tout himself as an expert of Chinese money laundering according to this article he did in 1990: http://www.michelpicard.ca/document/013.pdf
He has taken the time and trouble to set all these up for some purpose. Perhaps the authorities are looking into it?
While the nation is focused on the slow moving natural disaster, the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with tremendous loss of wild life and livelihoods, William Cassidy’s attention is at home, apparently aggrieved by the onslaught of alternative energy – windmills to be precise. According to the June 20 blog post on Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, William Cassidy is up in arms about a Windmill farm to be located in his desert valley in California.
Like the fictional Don Quixote, Don Cassidy is tilting at windmills, his imaginary foes. And like Don Quixote, William Cassidy’s very life is fiction. When no lama would recognize him, he appointed himself a Tulku, Tenpa Rinpoche. Before that while he was living in Nevada and before he was incarcerated for arson and domestic violence, he recognized himself as Jigme Rinpoche.
While making claims to being a reincarnated teacher or two, in his latest blog post Cassidy stoops to obcene sexual fantasy, inviting readers to participate in the analogy of paying whores extra to tell him that they love him, as if one has had the very experience he cites. Who is this “Rinpoche” who is so conversant in the practices of whores, and so casual in his assumption of the reader’s complicity? At least Don Quixote was under the illusion that his Dulcinea was NOT a whore, but a beautiful, noble woman.
Rather than an environmental disaster, it sounds more like the windmills Cassidy abhors are going to mess up his Dharma theme park. Once again, Cassidy is far more concerned about himself than the plight of others, suffering from natural disaster.
Those in the music business will tell you that where you really make your money on tour is not from ticket sales. It’s from Merch! Merchandise brings in the bucks. It seems William Cassidy, aka Tenpa Rinpoche tried to make a buck himself with a line of Old Rabbit Mine merchandise. Old Rabbit Mine is a company with the same address as Cassidy’s Bodhidharma Meditation Center – 29720 COVE ROAD, LUCERNE VALLEY, CA, United States. Despite his recent stupa construction project, the Bodhidharma Center does not appear to be open for business. In fact, many of the links for the Center appear to have been dismantled. But if you can’t go there yourself, you can at least buy the T-shirt, and so much more! Here’s what’s on offer on cafepress:
And Greeting Cards – of Himself.
The Second card from the left was a photo taken of Cassidy in 2008 at the Amitabha Stupa in Arizona when he was pretending to be a real tulku – Tenpa Rinpoche, before he was outed for being a fraud. The second photo is of him masquerading as a monk taken while he was on the lam in California earlier in 2008. You can see the same photo on the FJ Cruiser forum and in an earlier post on this blog. The last image is of him in Dzogchen robes, date unknown. He’s tried all the outfits and none of them fit. Can this story get any weirder?
As Vajrayana Buddhists we are trained to scrutinize the teachings, the teachers, and lineage, because we are embarking on a very important journey. We need a teacher that we can be confident embodies the dharma teachings and can lead us safely across the ocean of suffering to our own enlightenment. Genuine teachers are motivated by bodhicitta, selfless compassion for beings. Having attained realization themselves, their teachings and prayers are the speech emanation of the Buddha, and therefore carry real potency, the potency of Buddhanature.
Today William Cassidy, a convicted felon of arson and domestic violence who calls himself Tenpa Rinpoche and used to call himself Jigme Rinpoche, wrote a prayer for the Gulf Coast in the wake of the oil spill. Creative writing is a good outlet, but it is more potent to do authentic prayers and practices than to take the opportunity to show off one’s literary prowess.
Effective prayer requires potency. And a prayer’s potency depends on its source and on the intention of the author. It is why people choose to read Psalms rather than the Simpsons in Church. Source matters. Intention matters. If you want to say prayers, then go to the Source. Say prayers that stem from the enlightened mind.
When we read stories about famous Buddhist masters or engage in various Buddhist practices we frequently come across the word Mahasiddha. What is a Mahasiddha, and what do Mahasiddhas have to do with us?
Mahasiddha means one who has attained great accomplishment or spiritual power. A practitioner who has attained the high level of realization of an Arhat is said to acquire at least six siddhis or powers. These powers include such seemingly miraculous abilities as the power to fly, to levitate, to make oneself invisible, to possess another person’s body, to decrease or increase one’s size at will, and to assume other forms at will. There are said to be 84 siddhis that one can attain through the ultimate realization of emptiness and the attainment of enlightenment. These 84 siddhis are exemplified in the popular stories of the 84 Mahasiddhas, each of whom represents one of the siddhis. These stories are very popular and well-known throughout Tibet and Mongolia as well as the other Buddhist countries of Asia.
One thing that stands out when reading the stories of the 84 Mahasiddhas is how different each of them are from the others. Some were kings, some monks, some itinerant ascetics, some fishermen and butchers. The one common thread throughout all the stories, however, is that these individuals all broke free of the limits and boundaries imposed on them by their circumstances and livelihoods. Monks, kings, householders, having accomplished the subtle practices of the highest tantric yogas, all abandoned their robes or their crowns or their families and wandered the mountains and charnel grounds free of attachment to anyone or anything. They often appeared as crazy hermits, unbound by any rules and living seemingly as they chose. Yet all remained true to their realization and their wish to liberate all beings from suffering.
It is important to understand that attaining siddhis is not the goal of practice. The goal of practice is to attain enlightenment so that one can then work to end the suffering of beings. Siddhis simply come naturally with enlightenment. It is possible to attain siddhis through various means, such as yogic exercises and deep meditation techniques. Some people are born with siddhis, such as the ability to foretell the future or to see other planes of existence. This demonstrates that siddhis are not miraculous or unnatural powers but rather natural powers that all humans have the potential to develop. They seem miraculous or magical to those who have not manifested them because they are not in our ordinary realm of experience. Rather, they are supernormal perceptual states. For example, dogs can hear sounds at much higher frequencies than humans can. To humans this ability is a supernormal perceptual state, but to a dog it is just natural. Humans also possess abilities that to other beings would seem a supernormal perceptual state, such as the ability to perceive color. So siddhis are entirely natural, just beyond the ability of most people.
Are siddhis important then? From the standpoint of bringing benefit to sentient beings, not really. There is a story that once the Buddha met an ascetic who was sitting by a river. The ascetic said that he had been practicing austerities for 25 years. The Buddha then asked him what he had gained for all his effort. The ascetic then replied that he now had the power to walk across the river on the surface of the water. The Buddha then pointed out that while this was indeed an accomplishment, he could have easily gone across the river at any time he wished by simply taking the ferry for one penny.
Practicing Buddhism with the goal of attaining magical powers is pointless and futile. The Buddha said in the Akankheyya Sutra that attaining siddhis by itself confers no spiritual advantage and that craving for such powers and delighting in their attainment does not free one from hatred, greed and ignorance. He added that one should never lose sight of the true purpose in one’s practice.
The real value of reading the lives of the Mahasiddhas is to inspire confidence in the teachings and the teachers who embody the siddhis. It is yet one more example of their ability to guide us to the goal for which we all yearn.