William Cassidy, the author of Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, made several false and typically derogatory statements in his post on November 20, 2009, which we will gladly refute, since Cassidy presents such an opportunity to highlight some of Palyul’s greatest teachers to anyone who has not already made their acquaintance.
Cassidy claims that His Holiness Penor Rinpoche (HHPR), head of the Palyul Lineage until his passing this year, wrote a letter shortly before his death that was to remain sealed until after he passed. And according to Cassidy, in this letter HHPR makes disparaging statements about Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo. To quote Cassidy, this letter which he also admits to having never seen, says such things as, “…while I recognized her as Ahkon Lhamo, that is really the extent of it. If she continues to think of herself as a wisdom dakini, or an enlightened person, or a Mandarava, or even a Jetsunma, and more importantly, if she permits others to refer to her in this fashion, then it is her karma for misleading others and the cause of an unfortunate rebirth.”
Cassidy goes on to say, “While we have not seen this letter, we believe on the basis of information received that it exists, and hope that it will soon surface in the manner intended by its author.” This lack of proof for his assertions ranks Cassidy’s blog on the Enquirer end of the journalistic spectrum. If he hasn’t seen the letter and cannot name sources, we cannot take the words of a convicted felon at face value. Try again.
His Holiness Penor Rinpoche not only recognized Alyce Zeoli as Ahkon Lhamo (after conferring with other high lamas including His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Dzongnang Rinpoche), His Holiness then enthroned her as Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo in 1988. Here is a video of the enthronement ceremony. You will hear His Holiness very clearly say “Jetsunma” when speaking to her, why he was enthroning her, and what it meant.
You can view this and many other videos on KPC Youtube Channel
His Holiness Penor Rinpoche was very supportive of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo from the time they met until his passing this year.
Here is an excerpt from that teaching that His Holiness Penor Rinpoche gave about Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo: I met Jetsunma a long time ago. I examined her for a while, and found her to be the incarnation of Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab’s sister known as Ahkon Lhamo….Jetsunma is a good and perfect teacher. I don’t think that she is deceiving anybody. Among Jetsunma’s students there are a whole bunch of monks and nuns and all of them are disciplined by her. What other woman in America could do that? There is nobody else. She is good and special…Everybody it is good to know that she is also one of the Palyul Tulkus.
Since His Holiness’ passing, his successor Karma Kuchen Rinpoche visited Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo at Kunzang Palyul Choling where he gave empowerments and teachings. His Holiness Karma Kuchen also taught from the throne about Jetsunma.
Cassidy goes on to make this bombastic claim: “Circulation of the letter is said to have been prompted by the revelation that Zeoli is now offering — for money — “commentaries” and “teachings” on the revealed treasures of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche: a situation which has shocked, and definitely saddened, many Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the United States and overseas.”
Apparently Cassidy has visited and perused http://www.Palyulproductions.org, a repository of video and audio teachings of many revered Vajrayana masters, as well as practice books for those who have received the necessary empowerments. This includes the Chime Sog Thig practice to which Cassidy refers in his post.
In 2005 His Holiness Penor Rinpoche conferred the Chime Sog Thig empowerment at KPC. Translated as the Soma of Deathlessness, the Chime Sog Thig is a Sadhana for accomplishing longevity, the Life Essence of Deathlessness. It was by practicing the Chime Sog Thig that Guru Padmasambhava with his consort Mandarava both accomplished the Soma of Deathlessness in Maratika Cave. It comes from the Dudjom Tersar Revelations of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche.
Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo was also recognized as the emanation of Lacham Mandarava, the Indian consort of Padmasambhava by His Holiness Kusum Lingpa, a Nyingma master after meeting her in 1994. This identification with Mandarava was later reiterated by His Holiness Ngawang Tenzin, at the time the Dorje Lopon, or chief religious official of Bhutan, who first visited KPC in 2004. Jetsunma’s Bio
The Chime Sog Thig is a very precious practice to Jetsunma’s students. Those who have received the empowerment, have the samaya to practice it everyday. Students, who have received the empowerment and teaching on the practice, are authorized to order the practice book from Palyul Productions. This is the practice book to which Cassidy refers.
Then Cassidy states the following: “Speaking very personally — just for myself — I don’t trust American “lamas” or “gurus” or “rinpoches” or “monks” or “nuns” any farther than I can throw them, and you probably shouldn’t either. There are, of course, a few exceptions here and there — but for most Americans, the temptation to toss unnecessary ingredients in an already well-cooked broth is just too great. It seems so difficult to say, “I don’t know,” so many people resort to invention, thinking themselves divinely inspired.”
Considering that these words are from a man who claims to be a Tulku himself, it is quite a statement. Perhaps more damning is that in this statement, he completely dismisses that enlightenment is possible for anyone who is not Asian. This is spiritual racism, creates doubt in the minds of sincere Western practitioners, and is simply baseless. Why would enlightenment be based purely on genetic packaging? Apparently for Cassidy, Buddhas are born, not made. And yet this is completely contrary to the Buddha’s teachings in which he said, “I gave you the path, now work out your own salvation.” Buddha puts the onus squarely on the shoulders and in the heart of the practitioner. It is the practitioner’s choice how much progress they make on the path to enlightenment. Fortunately, it does not depend on whether a person is black or white, rich or poor, American or Asian.
We should probably stop here, but it is hard to considering that Cassidy finishes up his post with what amounted to a series of attacks on a throneholder of a pure lineage. Cassidy says, “One of the best correctives is the simple admonition to “look at yourself.” So, as much as possible, I like to examine my own shenanigans, rather than the shenanigans of others. This blog is something of a journalistic exercise, so examining shenanigans is something that naturally arises. I just want you to understand that I try to keep it perspective.
Really… since when do we care what other people do?
Write to rinpoche2006@gmail”
We look forward to the day when Cassidy actually states what his lineage is, who his teachers are, and who on earth recognized him? We would then be ecstatic for him and his progress towards self-honesty if he were to actually write about any of his own shenanigans of which there have been so many. In the past 15 years alone he was kicked off the defense team for an accused murder in Las Vegas (Ted Binion), arrested for raping and beating his wife and burning down her Las Vegas massage parlor; went on the lam, was incarcerated two times in a State prison; and perpetrated the fraud of being a Rinpoche. And then there are the chronic and protracted attempts to defame a pure lineage and its lineage holders. When he really starts confessing his “shenanigans” maybe his words will be worth something.
Gates of Dharma
We note with pleasure that Jetsunma Akhon Lhamo has recently started a new website called Tibetan Buddhist Altar.org. It appears that the website is to provide people with a place of refuge no matter where they are in the world. They don’t have to be at a Temple or in a shrine room to gaze at sacred images, read the Dharma, and take refuge in what is truly wholesome. The site includes a blog, as well as galleries of sacred images, altars, and teachers.
A particularly inspiring comment was left on the blog today from Ann, referring to a teaching on Compassion – “Thank you for this teaching. A link to this appeared in my inbox just when I needed it. I have known a number of practitioners who left the dharma and had to face that possibility for myself. Now after 10 years of dharma I am teetering there. Due to your kindness in posting this article, now I vow to cultivate compassion every day. I pray that it will bring me back to consistent practice. Thank you.”
Hopefully Ann and others who are teetering will find true refuge, be strengthened, and swiftly accomplish the Path.
We are on the look out for other Gates of Dharma that can benefit beings. We encourage you to share ones that you have found.