Terton's Sexual Misconduct
Tibetan buddhist teacher, Chandra Easton, narrates a story of sexual misconduct by an unnamed Tibetan terton. In general tertons, or dharma treasure revealers, have a high status in Tibetan buddhism and they are considered highly attained. Find the full interview here.
”I was raised from age 5 on as buddhist by my mother, who became a student of his holiness, the Karmapa, in the late 70's. I have very wonderful memories of that time and very rich connection to this tradition.
Then in my early 20's. I began to take my path more seriously. I met a teacher in the early 90's, a Tibetan lama who had come from Eastern Tibet, he was a terton, a treasure revealer, very magnetic and powerful teacher. There was a lot of kind of frenzy, ”Oh, this great teacher is coming, he has never come to the West before”. My parents came to study with him, I became a student and received my ngondro, preliminary exercises of how to begin my path, and everything was great.
Then one day I was in his quarters with a bunch of students and the translator, and we were discussing some dharma… All of a sudden from front of the house there was a car crash. Everybody ran out of the room to check what happened. I was getting up to follow them, but the lama said to me, ”No! Stay.”, and beckoned me to him. He was sitting on his bed. I thought, ”Wow. Does he need something? What does he want?”. I went up and he beckoned me closer to him, so I got real close up to him, as if he was going to whisper something into my ear, and instead of doing that he put hand on my shirt and grabbed my breast. I jumped away, pushed his hand away, slapped his hand, and said, ”No!”. He kind of chuckled. I was really flustered and taken off guard and walked out.
At the time, I thought he was a monk. Later I found out he was actually married to a Tibetan woman and had children. That was shocking, it was not OK. Even thought he wasn't a monk that kind of behaviour isn't appropriate, especially for a teacher, to a young woman. I was probably 40 years younger than him.
What ensued for me was very painful because I confided to one of my dharma sisters, one of my friends there, I said, ”Please don't tell anybody but I really need to talk to somebody about this”. So I told her what had happened. She was so upset that she told a lot of people and it caused a huge division in the community.
I was called back to this teacher's room with the translator about a week later. I was still there trying to figure out what I am going to do because my family was still there, I hadn't yet told my mom yet, and I was still wanting to go along, ”Oh, this was just a silly thing” but I wasn't feeling good at all.
I was still there, still involved with the community. He calls me into his room, chews me out, through the translator, and tells me I was ruining his dharma activity, because half of the community has left because how angry they are.
So he is blaming me for quote ”disrupting his dharma activities” for raising money so he can create a big stupa in Eastern Tibet, you know, a shrine, and he is putting the blame back on me. It was very confusing time for me... It made me feel very disillusioned about the path and I almost left buddhism altogether.”