Since the time of the Buddha, monks and nuns have worn the three robes of ordination as visible symbols, along with the shaved head, of their pratimoksha vows. The Vinaya, the monastic precepts as laid down by the Buddha during his life to guide the Noble Sangha, are intended to simplify the life of the ordained person so that he or she can concentrate on practice rather than the complications of everyday life, calling upon the monk or nun to renounce those attachments which bind him or her to the wheel of death and rebirth. The robes have always served as an important support for the practice of the renunciate, clothing that is “easy to acquire and to cast aside,” as it says in the sutras. They are a constant reminder of one’s vows as well as signaling those we meet that we hold vows so that they can be mindful in their dealings with us. Lay people who understand the meaning of the robes and the value of the vows they represent therefore view the ones who wear them as a field of merit. It is said that even to see the robes of the Buddha, whether or not one understands what they are, is a blessing.
Monastic robes are not worn to increase one’s pride or to set the ordained person above anyone. They are worn as a mark of humility, an outward sign of our oneness with all beings. Wearing the robes carries with it an obligation of spiritual and moral honesty as they are a declaration that one is observing the vows of a Buddhist monastic. To wear the robes without keeping the precepts is dishonest. Even worse, to wear the robes without ever having taken the vows in order to impress people with one’s “spiritual prowess” and to gain their trust dishonestly is a very serious breach of that trust.
To our knowledge, William Cassidy has never taken those vows, nor has he ever been recognized as a tulku, or reincarnate lama, by a qualified lama, despite his specious claims to the contrary. In fact, at the time when he is pictured wearing the robes he was, by his own admission, a falling down drunk who very nearly drank himself to death. This can hardly be considered renunciation! It is just one more sign of the dishonesty Cassidy uses in his ceaseless attempts to gain credibility as a Buddhist teacher so that he can use that credibility to manipulate people, steal their money, and turn them away from the path.
His actions bring dishonor not to the robes, but solely to himself.
In his May 28, 2010 blog post on Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, William Cassidy, aka Tenpa Rinpoche, tries to make the argument that His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Dzongnang Rinpoche made a mistake by recognizing Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo as the Genyenma Ahkon Lhamo, the sister of Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab, the First Throneholder of the Palyul Lineage, and subsequently enthroning her as a throneholder of the Palyul lineage. Like everything else Cassidy writes, his post is filled with lies, innuendos and hubris.
Cassidy cites The Buddha From Brooklyn by Martha Sherrill to support his attempts to defame Jetsunma’s character. However, as we have previously pointed out Martha Sherrill’s key informant, Michelle Grissom confessed to having lied to Sherrill. As Grissom states in her confession, Martha Sherrill caught me changing my story several times but she still didn’t see it. She believed in my good intentions. Cassidy goes on to claim that Jetsunma was arrested in 1996. This is also not true. Michelle Grissom admits in her confession to filing charges against Jetsunma, but lacking substance, the charges were thrown out. Jetsunma was never arrested.
Cassidy’s claim that Palyul throneholders do not support Jetsunma is also baseless. Palyul’s throneholders support Jetsunma. During a Tsog for Jetsunma’s long life officiated by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at the Palyul Retreat Center in New York in 2005, His Holiness called Jetsunma “a good and perfect teacher.” He spoke of her dharma activity, the 24 hour prayer vigil for world peace she started twenty-five years ago, her very large ordained sangha, and her teachings on bodhicitta. He also talks about how some in America are just jealous of her, and that this jealousy does not harm Jetsunma, it harms the jealous person. He reiterates that as a throneholder he has the right to recognize whom he wishes, and that Palyul and the other Nyingma schools believe what he says.
During his visit to Jetsunma’s center, Kunzang Palyul Choling in Poolesville, MD in Fall 2009, His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, the current Palyul throneholder, reiterated that His Holiness recognized Jetsunma as the incarnation of the first Ahkon Lhamo, that HH Penor Rinpoche enthroned Jetsunma in order for her to propagate the buddhadharma and the Vajrayana teachings in the West. HH Karma Kuchen goes on to praise the work Jetsunma has done to spread the dharma and help Westerners on the path. Clearly William Cassidy is not facing facts.
What motivates Cassidy’s continuous onslaught on Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo? Self interest. Cassidy wants to establish himself as a tulku, despite the fact that he has no lineage and no one has recognized himself as such. Jetsunma has outed his scheme that he is a fake. This throws a wrench into Cassidy’s plans and his credibility. He has responded by creating numerous impersonation accounts to taunt, defame, harass, intimidate, stalk, and threaten Jetsunma on Twitter.
Some examples include:
All of this is a smokescreen to hide the fact that he is working another con. He has made a career of conning others, and apparently sees no need to change his ways. See Conpendium for history of Cassidy’s cons. William Cassidy went to prison for arson and domestic violence. He is an imposter and a felon, lacking any shred of credibility. Seems the very polar opposite of the buddhadharma. Perhaps William Cassidy needs to find a pure teacher, follow his/her advice and start practicing for real.
William Cassidy, aka Tenpa Rinpoche, is very interested in proving what a learned and wise lama he is, or rather pretends to be. In this example, posted on his blog, Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, on Saga Dawa Duchen (May 27, 2010), he alleges to give a teaching on compassion. What it ends up being, however, is yet another example of how Cassidy can twist what is a rather straightforward concept, compassion, into yet another treatise on self-aggrandizement with a garnish of anti-Buddhist propaganda.
He presents this “teaching” as a traditional Tibetan style teaching with the “root” verses followed by various species of commentaries. However, the form is only a sham. If examined, there is little here that resembles a traditional teaching.
Generally when a lama (an authentic one) gives such a teaching, he quotes verses from a text. That is very true. The difference is that the verses quoted are not verses written by the lama himself (or herself). They may be verses from a sutra or a tantra or some great work of Tibetan Buddhism, such as Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. In this case, however, both the verses and the commentary are written by the same person, Bill Cassidy.
Such teachings traditionally begin with giving homage to the lineage and the root guru. You will find nothing like that here. Of course, one must actually have a lineage and a root guru to give homage to in order to do so.
Next the student would be encouraged to generate bodhicitta (the union of wisdom and compassion) for all sentient beings. This is always a part of any teaching, traditional or otherwise. Cassidy actually makes a stab at this with the words,
With this practice, we articulate the intention to help beings; we perform the action of helping beings; we are satisfied with the action we have performed; we dedicate the results of the action to others.”
Aside from the convoluted way of saying something that is not at all complicated, note that the words “compassion” and “merit” are not even mentioned. This also would never be done in an actual teaching. Note also that this dedication is made after the verses. This is not the form of a traditional teaching. In fact, he does not even call it a dedication but an “abbreviated commentary,” whatever that is. Basically bullet points of what he is going to cover in the following commentaries it would seem. So really there is no proper invocation of bodhicitta at all.
The so-called commentaries are written in Cassidy’s usual style of pretending to be deep when he is actually saying nothing. He does this by using non-sequiters and convoluted sentence structure to make it look as if he knows what he is talking about. He also says things in such a way that the reader has no idea of what he is trying to say, which makes him seem mysterious and profound. The reader is left scratching his or her head and thinking, “Wow, he really must know what he’s talking about because I have no idea what he just said.” What it is in reality is just the con man’s old game of shuck and jive. You wow them with a blast of total nonsense that appears to make sense but in reality doesn’t.
Take the very first line of the “line-by-line commentary”. He says, “AH This arises and is defined primordially.” Sounds pretty deep, but what exactly does it mean? What specifically does “defined primordially” mean? Nothing, of course. Just hot air.
The verses themselves are more examples of the same thing. He says that compassion arises naturally and effortlessly if we can just free ourselves, and then all the little furry animals will be happy and free from fear. Oh, would that it were so! Unfortunately it doesn’t really work that way. The karma of the animal realm is one of constant fear. The main characteristic of that unfortunate realm is that animals do not have the intelligence to understand what is happening to them, so they are constantly fearful for their lives – and with good reason. The world is a dangerous place. There are very few animals that do not have natural predators, and even those that do not still live in fear, of man, if nothing else.
The verses also make it seem as if arousing compassion for the creatures of this planet is easy. Just be free and let it happen! The truth is that we as humans don’t come by compassion easily. We have to work at it. We are not naturally compassionate. Mostly we are self-serving and ego-clinging and have to learn to care about what happens to anyone or anything else, unless we’re in love with someone maybe. Even then, there are limits! So this whole passage tends to give a false idea of compassion. While it is true that if we could give up our ego-clinging and self-cherishing, compassion would arise naturally, that does not happen overnight. It takes practice. Lots of practice. We don’t have the option to just say, “OK, I’m going to stop ego-clinging and self-cherishing now. I’m going to rest in emptiness, and then compassion will ooze out of my pores.” It just isn’t that easy.
In short, the verses are intended to make the author look profound and knowing rather than to impart something of use to the student. The same can be said for the “commentaries” which are just more of the same.
As he begins the “extended commentary,” we see a flagrant example of his anti-Buddhist, anti-Tibetan propaganda that he almost always slips into anything he writes on his blog. He says that Westerners often use the excuse that remembering their parents does not work for arousing compassion because they often do not hold good feelings towards their parents. He goes on to say that this is not necessarily a Western situation, that Tibetan children often experienced similar feelings when they were “wrenched” away from their parents at a young age to be put in a monastery and never allowed to see them again. This is pure fabrication, the sort of lie that is often found in Communist Chinese anti-Buddhist propaganda. In reality Tibetan families, including the children, thought it was the highest honor to have the chance to enter the monastery at a young age. Kids weren’t “wrenched” away from their families.
Asians have a very different worldview than Westerners do. Asian societies are not so individualistic. Children are brought up from birth to understand that they have a role to play in the greater family circle, and that one’s own desires and interests often have to give way to the welfare of the family unit. This is not considered a burden in Asia the way it might in the West. The child sees it as his or her filial duty to subsume him or herself to the family, not the other way around as it is often in the West.
By the time we get to the Question & Answers section Cassidy is referring to himself as “Rinpoche.” This term, which means “precious one” is reserved exclusively for lamas and tulkus (recognized reincarnate lamas). That he uses it to refer to himself shows the magnitude of his ego. It is a term that a real lama or tulku would never use in reference to him or herself.
While it is beneficial to release animals that are condemned to die, such as worms and crickets that would otherwise be used as bait, it is much more important to say mantra for them as you release them than to say a prayer to oneself when performing this action, as Cassidy suggests. This seems like a very selfish thing to do. Much better to say the OM MANI mantra for any animals one encounters as this is said to guarantee an auspicious human birth for them.
He ends the piece by giving a couple of examples of brief practices that one can do for the benefit of animals. Most authentic teachings end with a dedication of the merit.
Reading Cassidy’s post is rather like eating an undercooked chicken; some parts are done just right, others are raw and indigestible, and some are burnt. In other words, it is just a mélange of different things that Cassidy has picked up or dreamt up in his never-ending attempt to recruit new marks to use, steal from, or further his efforts to appear legitimate. While there are bits scattered here and there that resemble actual Buddhist teachings on compassion, for someone who has not received these teachings they would be hard to differentiate from the claptrap. More importantly, there is no heart to this “teaching.” When one hears pure Dharma from the mouth of a true teacher, it stirs your mind from the depths. This is just a collection of words and catch phrases. Don’t let it fool you.
Based on previous posts by William Cassidy also known as Tenpa Rinpoche on his blog Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, we know that Cassidy has been in discussions with Tulku Ogyen Rinpoche.
In fact when asked about Cassidy, Tulku Ogyen confirmed having visited Cassidy’s compound in Lucerne Valley in January, 2010. Cassidy, as Tenpa, also blogged about this visit on Tulku Ogyen’s blog.
We are not sure what the nature of their relationship is, but Tulku Ogyen from his Twitter account made the following reply regarding Cassidy as Tenpa Rinpoche:
Tulku Ogyen’s Twitter account has since been deleted, and may have been operated by William Cassidy at the time. As seen above, Cassidy as Tenpa does operate Tulku Ogyen’s blog, so we cannot confirm for sure whether Tulku Ogyen himself wrote that tweet or not.
On Facebook we see that Cassidy aka Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche has signed up to attend Tulku Ogyen’s Nyung-Ne retreat on June 11, 2010 in Taipei, Taiwan.
Recently @Vajragurl who we believe is an account operated at times by Cassidy himself ,as well as by his girlfriend Jewel Lilly Annabella, has tweeted about Tenpa Rinpoche getting enthroned.
Only a high lama with experience can enthrone someone. It is not done lightly. We can’t imagine any high Palyul Lama entertaining this let alone actually enthroning a known felon like William Cassidy who has conned other Dharma centers. It would be a travesty. We wonder if Tulku Ogyen is aware of this.
On May 25, 2010 William Cassidy, a conman with a long history of deception for personal gain, began to weave yet another web to entrap unsuspecting, inexperienced seekers interested in Buddhism.
If our introduction sounds dramatic, please review the post outlining his criminal history. We reference many sources, including news paper articles and legal documents. It is important to understand the work of William Cassidy in the context of who he really is.
He proposes, in the post dated May 25, 2010 entitled “Meditation Lesson,” that he was the secretary to an important Lama when he was 17 years old.
Please take note that, in typical conman fashion, he never provides any references, names, locations, or details that can be verified. We must take him at his word, and he spins his words attractively, cleverly, drawing in the unsuspecting seeker. “I don’t think it serves any useful purpose to name names.”
In fact, William Cassidy, who claims on his blog, Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, to be “Tulku” Tenpa Rinpoche, never sees a reason to “name names” regarding his recognition, lineage or teachers. He uses the posture of false humility; however we propose that if he were truly humble he would not call himself a “Tulku” without acknowledging the Lineage Master who conferred upon him such a title. To make that claim without acknowledging the Lineage is to focus the title on himself, rather than the Lineage a true Tulku would seek to uphold.
We would like to point out that William Cassidy has actually named many names in his past, with reference to himself. In fact, “Tenpa” is not the first “Rinpoche” title he claimed. Before Tenpa he was Jigme.
William Cassidy, as we have revealed in earlier posts related to his malicious twitter activity, is also starting yet another Dharma Center:
Though his pseudo-Dharma may seem appealing initially, upon further investigation one finds his presentations lack any true appreciation of Vajrayana. He is unable to acknowledge his teachers, or his Lineage, cornerstones of Vajrayana Practice. William Cassidy, felon and conman does have the right to make up his own religion and peddle it like snake oil, but he does not have the right to then claim to have the authority of an ancient tradition. Beware of false teachers, and know who you are dealing with, no matter how clever the words.
We once again have to report that William Cassidy, aka Tenpa Rinpoche, is continuing his attacks on Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo on twitter. He continues to create accounts using her image, and variations on her name. The latest examples are:
kpccultwatch: Note these tweets were posted at 12:58pm Saturday, May 22, 2010. This account was short-lived, suspended once it was reported for spam:
Kpc_watch: note the exact same tweets from the account suspended earlier in the day are now retweeted by the new avatar:
Please note that this avatar, brand new on May 22, 2010, RT’d the link http://bit.ly/chyCcc to a blog post on Liberation Farms, Jetsunma’s private residence. This post contains screenshots of communications that William Cassidy obtained while involved with the KPC community from a members only database. KPC members have confirmed that the database was deleted within a month of Cassidy’s leaving the organization. Thus, his ability to publish communications from that database reveal his identity. There is no “public archive” of this database, only a stolen back up copy that William Cassidy took when he left KPC. He has published financial records he obtained from that same back up copy on his blog in the past.
He also started a fake business account on merchantcircle.com that also appeared on May 22, 2010:
This false business listing, Beware of Jetsunma Cult’s Harassment, contains the same language as the two new avatars on twitter, as well as his blog post listed from March 2008, Beware, Cult and Harassment.
Note that the Bodhidharma Meditation Center appears as a link. The Bodhidharma Meditation Center is a business which had been listed on this site, and has the same physical address as William Cassidy’s current residence. He deleted this listing on Merchantcircle.com as of May 23, 2010. However you can see the center listed with the address in the screenshot below:
The following shows a section of the workplace injunction that is in place to protect Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo and KPC against William Cassidy. It also confirms William Cassidy’s address to be the same as the Bodhidharma Meditation Center’s shown above:
There is no doubt that Cassidy remains hard at work trying to destroy Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.
Please be aware that the real twitter account for Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, @ahkonlhamo, has been verified and you will see that symbol on her avatar. Do not be fooled by the malicious accounts set up by this conman.
For more information on William Cassidy see this post: conpendium.