Geshe Michael Roach – The Sad Case of a Gifted Man

Sorry, but I don’t want to add more on this topic. There has been said enough already. I just want to make you aware of two recent articles about Michael Roach, one in Rolling Stone and one by Scott Carney (in Playboy). You find more material and links at the end of the article by Scott Carney.

When I read the Interview with Geshe Michael Roach & Christie McNally (PDF) in 2003 and especially the passage where Roach tries to defend himself, skillfully avoiding to answer the question what his teacher, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, says about his (strange) behavior, I realized that Michael Roach has created an own inner world where voices can only reach him if they suit his own views. Since there are still some people who think it might be worth to follow Mr. Roach or that he might be a genuine Buddhist teacher, I added the article by Scott Carney to my website. Food for Thought! I am grateful that Alexander Berzin warned me personally to be careful with Roach – though at that time, I was not pleased to hear it because I placed my spiritual hopes already in Michael Roach …

During a tantric teaching the teacher of Roach, Khen Rinpoche, was asked about Roach, and he clearly distanced himself from Roach. Sadly, so far I was not able to get the recording but it exists. That this explicitly alienation by Roach’s teacher exists was told to me by a person I trust who listened to these teachings by Khen Rinpoche.

Last and least, Robert Thurman about Roach in the RollingStone interview:

Robert Thurman, a Columbia University religion professor and a leading expert on Eastern religions, calls Roach’s version of Tibetan Buddhism “an American pop-religion knockoff.”  …

The office of the Dalai Lama issued a rebuke, and Roach’s associates urged him to remove his robes to indicate that he was not celibate. When he refused, Robert Thurman, a former ordained monk, tried to reason with him. “I asked him to meet,” says Thurman, who is married and long ago resigned his robes. “He finally came with his consort to Columbia. I told him to go back to being a lay minister, to take off the robes. Bottom line is, he said he wouldn’t give up the robes. He said, ‘I have never consorted with a human female,’ and I said to Christie, ‘Are you human?’ And she didn’t say yes or no. She said, ‘He said it, I didn’t.'”

Thurman felt McNally was young and naive and being manipulated by Roach, but McNally felt empowered. According to her, the retreat had altered their dynamic. She had gone into it as Roach’s lesser, emerging as his equal. “The roles in the play now had changed from teacher and student to ‘partners,'” she says, and goes on to say that since Roach was interested in embracing his feminine side, “normal sexual relations between two married partners were absent from this relationship.”

Instead of waiting for new acolytes to come to them, Roach and McNally began holding classes at popular New York yoga studios like Jivamukti, whose clientele included Wall Street bankers, fashionistas like Donna Karan and celebrities such as Sting, Russell Simmons and Madonna. He had translated the Yoga Sutra from Sanskrit and spoke of how yoga could lead to enlightenment. “His teaching was the missing link in the writings on the Yoga Sutra,” says Morris. “Nobody had accomplished what was described in there, and here was somebody who had. I was moved. He was a good, holy, honest man then.”


Update September/October 2016

Update February 2019