Confessions of a Trulku’s Mistress: Lies and Whispers

Sorry to disappoint you if you are reading this. No confessions. But before I proceed to strip our Gurus of all the hypocrisy witnessed in plain sight, I ask for the reader’s forgiveness for my transgressions. I am a devout Buddhist and my intention is not to upset anyone or to appear audacious.

Last weekend when I visited an old family friend, who lives just above the Chorten, I had an epiphany. While supper was being readied we were all sitting around the bukhari: my host, the sapient Ap Dago all of a sudden folded his hand facing the TV and prayed earnestly- in solemn reverence to a High Lama making an appearance on BBS (Television); I even heard a faint sigh as he brought his hands down and slowly opened his eyes. Then comes along the delightful presence of Ap Dago’s most luminous granddaughter, barely two years old, but already standing and with a slight struggle to balance makes her way to the TV. As the chanting of monks’ from the BBS could be heard, the little girl bent down, got on her knees and started to prostrate. That’s when I had my epiphany. From grandfather to the two-year-old girl, with the mere sighting of a Rinpoche on TV, though two generations apart, yet both had the same instinctive reaction. I felt all mushy from the inside- a warm and unimaginable sense of pride overwhelmed me. Then for the rest of the evening we had our bellies fill. Ana’s homemade food never fails to live up to its mark- that night was no different.

The conversation that occupied dinner was uncannily the best digestive. I could feel my stomach frenzy as the rest of the night was slowly drowned by erratic conversations bouncing from: corruption to nepotism, from scams to shams, from politics to religion. To everyone but me, the topics of discussion seemed like a mundane, ritualistic affair that takes place every night. Metaphorically: a digestive to the grumbling soul. But every one seemed happy, happy to talk about other peoples problems and occasionally their own. Ata was expressing his concern over the Rupee shortage widely covered by all the news agencies- as well as how unsafe Thimphu has become for his children. He was recounting the manner in which his apartment was burgled while he was in Phuentsholing for the Wang (Blessing). At the same time, almost appearing to purge himself of the loss, Ata started narrating how he made a modest offering of Ngultrum 9,000 to Rinpoche.

That night I stayed awake pressing down on my pillow going over and over again the conversation we had over dinner. Every bit of the conversation, each topic discussed or even local gossip was shrouded with cynicism and discord. It was chillingly negative. Nevertheless: glittering remarks were endless whenever the topic was on Trulkus. High priests, Lamas and Rinpoche’s have always had an exalted position in our society. People see them as being the embodiment of God, celestial or bodhisattvas (enlightened beings…), here to help us with this life as well as the next.

At this point, I would like to pay homage to all the great teachers and philosophers, who walk amongst us, pledging their entire existence to serve humanity, praying for a better world- their contribution is immeasurable because they make a difference in our lives. And here is my bias being exposed because while I have immense reverence towards some Lamas, I have an instinctive aversion towards many who misuse their status, who are manipulative and self-absorbed, and who are drowning in greed and vice.

I ask my self: What are they doing for our society? Do they give us as much as they take? Do they practice what they preach? After all they are without a doubt skilful raconteurs but is our belief well placed? Can we look up to them? Are they in a position to help, give advice and instruct? People believe in them; people look up to them; people will listen to them; people pray to them.

In some quarters, one can hear the occasional expression, “Dollar Rinpoche.” This is because most Lamas including the Rinpoches’ jealously guard their rich patrons and aggressively seduce potential donors. This does not leave time for them to attend to the needs of loyal devotees who have nothing to offer except reverence and faith. Most people attribute the steep rise in real-estate prices to the Rinpoches who convince their foreign donors to support the livelihoods of simple monks when in fact the money is spent either buying private homes or making personal investments. Access to these funds supports their upmarket lifestyle.

Young Rinpoches are often seen in clubs dancing, drinking and frolicking with women. When they are criticized, they justify their joyful escapades as an experience being used to understand life beyond the confines of sacred monasteries, an essential part of their training, a prerequisite to being a good teacher. Many are satisfied with such explanations. I would be convinced with what I believe to be flimsy rhetoric, if only the Rinpoches were seen travelling across the country, mingling with so called ordinary families, the poor or distressed youth.

In recent years, the country has experienced a number of natural disasters such as earthquakes, windstorms, floods and fire. That’s when people were in complete despair. To my understanding a true Buddhist is always compassionate, generous and righteous. But where were the Rinpoches? I have never seen nor heard stories about Rinpoches helping people. In spite of all their wealth- they are not charitable. Isn’t it ironic? What would Lord Buddha have done?

The Rinpoches are too busy building cults, competing amongst themselves or travelling around the world raising funds, making movies, building empires, promoting themselves or establishing centres in Europe. And the less known are desperately trying to emulate the success of others by attempting to launch themselves: but too often they are shackled by tradition- if not they lack business acumen or exposure. Either way they are far removed from peoples lives or they lack interest in making a difference, for if at all, there are little gains to be made. I never thought that religious leaders would take to capitalism.

This is the reason why I’ve decided to title my blog “The confessions of a Trulku’s Mistress.” In my view, we believers are no different from being their mistresses. The Rinpoches’ are possessive over their flock; fidelity is greatly valued, yet they gravitate elsewhere. Like a mistress we wait patiently, their presence greatly anticipated. When they re-emerge we are won-over with a mere smile, a touch or acknowledgement. A mistress never wants to hear the truth. Too often a Mistress is heard saying, it’s all circumstances… he’s a good man and I’m happy! Heart of heart a Mistress always sees the truth: she knows he’s got his family back at home; his future is elsewhere; his lies so winning yet they are fallacies’ of the heart; his touch so fleeting yet so real… But the truth is: He is a shameless man committing a selfish act. And as for the Mistress, she is yearning for love, salvation and purpose; her devotion removes reason, clouds her judgement and love leads her to denial – though she sees through the follies’ of her lover she remains silent and always hopeful. As a devout Buddhist – with all the hypocrisy shrouding the lives of our Rinpoches’ I am their Mistress.


By Karma Bhutan

Bhutanomics Contributor
This story from Bhutanomics Contributor

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  1. Holy SHIT!!!

  2. Good one.
    But it’s overly generalized. Some of the Rinpoches I know of are involved in a lot of charities world over, and also some of them are sowing the seeds of bigger change which definitely takes time to reap.

  3. well observed,

    An i agree up says, it has generalized all the rinpoches, but as far as the statement concerning the young’s trulkus, I observed the same… this should reach those rinpoches and trulkus. It got some hard massage for them to realize their status…….

  4. the headline is too strong for the article…

  5. AI ME MAISALF says:

    Wow! This article contains my thoughts and sentiments articulated beautifully into words. I like how the writer used a catchy Headline to grab the readers attention *which worked*. So much hypocrisy surrounding the dharma and most of (please note most- and NOT all) the trulkus, rinpoches, lamas are unreservedly taking advantage of supporters and believers of the Buddhist doctrine in a quest driven by greed, jealously, false virtues and the likes of much more0 yet with a public facade so gracious and solicitous one would think you’d met the God of Compassion himself. I only wish more Bhutanese would see this instead of squeezing your butt to bow down and bend your head in reverence to a man hiding a stack load of dollar notes and an erection beneath his red orange whatever color clad robes.

    • Definitely not by all but i go with the author. very true. Is Buddhism not in our minds? Do we really have to circumvent a chorten to accumulate good karma?

  6. HolyCow says:

    Rinpoches r ordinary people trained and made to believe that they are the upholder of dharma, they are reincarnation etc. If you analyse this monk’s confession properly, you will realised how they are trained.

  7. Quite refreshing to read an article like this. I kind of agree with the author and it’s very well-written. There is hardly any charity by rich Rimpoches in Bhutan. For that matter, Dratshang Lhentshog, which I have heard is so rich hardly does anything in the aide of poor people except so-called kurims, which only takes more offerings from people without any visible benefits.

  8. Haap Tenzin says:

    What about Dratshangs becoming like vatican city mutants……they have amassed fortune..they could help too…. this is lop-sided article…

  9. I totally agree with the writer.More than 80% of Rinpoches in Bhutan are after Dollars and women.Bhutanese Rinpoches are busy moving to US and Taiwan and amassing money and back home making house,buying land and land rovers.What charity work do they do back at home?Can anyone name it?See the example of Gangtey Trelku who is involved in land scam and corruption.Rinpoche involved in human trafficking,Babesa land case,marrying some actress etc etc.Some one mentioned that they are doing some charity work around the globe.But these are done by other trulkus and rinpoches and not by Bhutanese Rinpoches and trulkus.Sadly our rinpoches and trulkue re busy cleaning toilet,working in farms and other dingy places to make some dollars.
    And now a days ordinary monks are going to Taiwan in the guise of Trulkus to make money because unless u r considered as Trulkus,the Taiwanese don’t give a shit to any lams and gelongs.So see the reality here.Where is your dharma and where is the power od Dollars

  10. Prince of Pangthang-daza says:

    Every time someone expresses doubt about the conduct of certain religious gurus, lamas, trulkus and leaders, I get reminded about a certain master in history. Milarepa’s teacher was Marpa and Marpa’steacher was Naropa. Naropa as the story, I was told, goes to say that he was outwardly a dirty, shabby and uncouth fisherman catching fish, thereby sinning, beside a lake. And like his appearance I presume his actions and language were nothing as a great lama’s was wont to be. But inside Naropa was truly a great master and a liberated soul full of knowledge and compassion.
    Who knows our present day’s Trulkus outward appearances are like Naropa too. Remember judging a book by its cover etc? I think our faith and trust should remain firm and unshaken.

    • The story you have narrated above is just a story and this one is reality.So,come to reality my brother.Open your eyes and be vigilant.

  11. The author has rightly pointed about the facts but we should not feel that it has happened and been happening in Buddhist society only .
    Such jokers… who are misusing their name in the society and crazy after Dollar; women can be found in other religions too.
    It needs to be mentioned that, 90% of the people in all the religion become..follower/devotees for their vested interest due to the following reasons ;-
    1. To get financial help .(loan with small amount of interest)
    2. Wash away the sins committed through dealing/stealing religious items to become rich over night.
    3. To get identity in the high profile society.

  12. Bhutan will get ready for this damn trail soon… Look at west, the vatican, people dont simply put devotion and get blinded with so called priests. The voice of those people tame those priests in court for sexual abuse. The vatican is labeled for sexual abuse recently. Thats a good thing when people rise with conscience and awareness. That time for Bhutan will come soon…… Those bad trulkus and rinpoches ( i mean only bad) needs a revolution to be thrown off and jailed. I bet …that time is near.

  13. i dont think all rinpoches and trulkus do that, just because of few the mass is being blamed. there are many lamas and rinpoches who are selflessly working in both spiritual and mundane ways to help the beings. LIVE to love is one such example, having a global outreach and reaching the needy ones. je khenpo buying from his pocket those expensive medical diagnostic machines and many more. i guess people should rather bothered and concerned about their own self rather than pointing fingers on rinpoches and trulkus, even if they havent done any good to you, you are atleast not robbed by them, if u cant effort to have devotion,it would be better to stay neutral than to create a fuss of something which is doubtful to be true in the first place. what guru rinpoche predicted has come true indeed… it saddens me to see how pathetic the bhutanese devotion is to the buddha dharma. because of few trulkus the blame goes to the mass, and thats just to sad.. and i guess people should rather bother their own business then stalking or eyeing on rinpoches, trying to find flaws, i guess thats ur act of gaining merits. that simply defines the person you are… may peace prevail on earth.

  14. Oh god this kind of ppl exist in Bhutan mo.its really sad to know that people try to defame lama trulku rinpoche by generalising.some people like author just try to instigate and try to drag other people into their ill thoughts.Dont you think its because of them we are living in a heaven with not much calamities we got to wake up if u dont believe in them then you no longer believe in God.In my perspective lama,trulku and rinpoche do seek donations so what for????its for their dratsang to bring up monks hundreds and thousands of monks. who will fullfill their basic needs if lama trulku rinpoche dont work tirelessly. They sacrifice every minutes every second to maintain our culture heritage if they dont put any effort there will be no monastery,temples,dratsang etc we only seek help when we really need them orelse just try to defame,instigate and feel jealous towards their success..So please lets join hands together and eliminate the ill thoughts that will only demerit us. Lama la chabtsuchoe 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏