[Below is a transcript of a conversation. It has been edited to remove specific details and restructured to provide a clearer account of events by combining and rephrasing sentences. Some parts of sentences were added, such as “Eventually” to show the time relationship of events and “At our center in Malaysia,” to provide a context. We felt apprehensive about including sentences about Tom Tulku’s sexual history, however, we also felt it would be unethical to omit it due to Tom Tulku’s claimed status as a monk. We would like to thank the previous director for taking time out of her busy schedule to shed light on the events that led to the creation of a shugden personality cult.]
In the 1990’s I was the director of a Vajrayana Buddhist center in Malaysia. Our center was the first to host Tom Tulku in Malaysia.
When I first heard about Tom from my lama I was told a story, not about a monk sent to raise funds for the monastery, which already had representatives raising funds in Malaysia, but a story about a disturbed young man that the monastery felt should leave for the safety of the other monks. I don’t remember everything he said, but I remember being told about Tom threatening violence against other monks and emotionally blackmailing the monastery by sending fake suicide letters which blamed senior monks for not recognizing him, and then running away to a city hotel so they would believe he had taken his life. The monastery never had experience with such disturbed attention hungry individuals and as poor as they were they gave money to upgrade the property Tom lived in with amenities like imported window screens and humored his pretense of being a master teacher equal to the most senior monks to avoid provoking a tantrum. A visiting monk told me before Tom left he had earned the nickname “dzuma” or fake because whenever Tom learned of a deceased lama who’s reincarnation was not yet recognized he would ask for the date that they died and appeared disappointed when it occurred after he was born.
Tom was allowed to live at our center because our guru sympathized with Tom and his monastery. Tom lacked a monastic education because he attended almost no teachings while he squatted on the property of a dead lama Tom claimed had given him permission to live in his house and invited him to India. There was some doubt about this because Tom only arrived after the lama’s death and the lama told no one this young man would be coming to live at his residence. There was no proof the deceased lama had given his permission. At our center in Malaysia, after a week of hinting and asking, we allowed Tom to teach on some basic texts, such as the Lam Rim, for our center. Tom grew frustrated with his inability to answer questions about the texts and would say he would not teach hours before teachings or leave in the middle of a teaching. Contrary to Tom’s current stories about his coming to Malaysia, Tom insisted on teaching. Eventually Tom found followers that were not from our center who wanted to use him for profit by promoting him as a “High Lama”. Tom started speaking ill of our center, our center’s guru, HHDL, and spreading the practice of dolgyal. After this we no longer allowed Tom to teach at our center, though he continued to live there. Tom would often leave the center in layman’s clothes with older men we believed were his boyfriends. We never pressed the issue with him because we regarded him as a wayward young man we were entrusted to care for, but when asked he would say that sex was just a bodily function like shitting. After Tom threatened a member of our center he was told he must leave or the police would be called.
It makes me sad that Tom fell into that bad group that continues to use him for profit and keeps him from repairing his samaya with the Buddha’s lineage.
(DICTATED BUT NOT READ 2014)