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From a Reader

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

From a Reader: 

Like so many who follow the Buddhist Teacher, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo (@JALpalyul) on Twitter, I was deeply saddened to see her tweets this week explaining that the case United States vs.Cassidy had been dismissed by the judge and worse—that William L. Cassidy had actually been released from prison. 

Early on, in following Jetsunma online, I became more interested in her, and her life’s work.  In my research, I learned that William Cassidy conned his way into Jetsunma’s Buddhist community in 2007 by impersonating a dying, homeless Tulku. Unfortunately, unaware that she was being deceived, Jetsunma immediately offered him safe refuge at her retreat land in Arizona. It would appear that he wove his way into her community pretty quickly, and a short time later she and her community learned that William Cassidy wasn’t a real Tulku, or had even given his real name to them at introduction.  Jetsunma’s trust was damaged, but thinking he was terminally ill she offered to let him live out his days at the home of some of her students.  A few months later his real identity was revealed. As it turns out, William Cassidy is a convicted felon, having been charged with first-degree arson, attempted battery constituting domestic violence and raping his wife. While he was conning Jetsunma and her community he was in violation of his parole.

If there’s one thing a conman doesn’t like it’s his game being revealed. In the wake of Jetsunma and her community discovering who Cassidy really is, it seems he became very angry, and left taking with him one of Jetsunma’s students (a nun) who still believed he was a dying Tulku.  He and the nun disappeared into a remote piece of property in California, where he waged an online war against Jetsunma for the next two years. 

As one of Jetsunma’s followers on Twitter, I watched what Cassidy did to her. He had two purposes: to discredit Jetsunma as a Buddhist Teacher, and to torment her endlessly. He used his main blog, Digitial Tibetan Buddhist Altar, to write diatribes against her under his fake identity as a Tulku. He started numerous other “anonymous” blogs to attack her. He attacked her relentlessly on Twitter.  When she blocked an account of his, he’d open several more, all with unique names and personalities (you can read about this in the affidavit). He’d lure her in as a follower and then start his attack. He said unbelievably horrid things to her—things I cannot bring myself to repeat. He told her to kill herself over and over and described how she should do it. He sent what I would consider death threats and described ways to maim her. Jetsunma tweeted about how he tore into her childhood trauma in a way that was particularly vicious. Personally I’ve never seen someone so obsessed with causing harm to another being. Finally—thankfully—the FBI intervened and arrested him.   

In his time on Twitter, Cassidy had gathered a handful of followers who continued to harass Jetsunma and attempted to destroy her good name and accomplishments while Cassidy was detained.   

However, with at least some reprieve from the frenzy of hatred directed at her, Jetsunma continued with Twitter and her blog. She teaches online, advises students and followers, inspires others to live a more compassionate life and generally raises the vibration of the world.  She is truly a joyful presence. Jetsunma is engaged in the world and is up-to-date on all the news. She tweeted appeals for prayer during terrible disasters like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. She comforts those whose lives were shattered by the tornados and hurricanes, and by the manmade disasters of our nation’s economy. She adopted abused dogs whose tragic stories were shared on Twitter and rallied for the dozens of abused and neglected parrots inTroy,Ohio. She supports theOccupy Wall Streetmovement with tweets, prayers, and personal donations of supplies, clothing and homemade feasts. She is determined to bring peace and stability to our nation and our world and to restore balance to our fragile ecosystems. With all this compassionate activity online she manages to maintain a large community of monks, nuns and lay practitioners, a temple and numerous Stupas. She invites other Buddhist Teachers from her lineage as well as others to teach at her temple in Maryland. She is singularly concerned with the welfare of beings. Day in and day out I’ve watched Jetsunma live with her heart wide open to the suffering all around her and to take action to stop it however she can. 

But as the doors to Cassidy’s prison cell swing open, the doors to Jetsunma’s personal freedom slam shut. Her life is once again at risk, and if his past is any indication Cassidy will come out much angrier than he went in. Jetsunma has openly expressed her fear to the point she cannot remain in her own home. She recently blogged how she is forced to live “underground” in ever-changing unnamed locations because of one man who has given the world nothing but sorrow throughout his life. Does this seem fair?   

What kind of nation allows the dangerous to roam free while the innocent live in fear for their lives? When will women’s safety and rights become a front-burner concern for those who make our laws? As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”


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