In Vajrayana, we say that if a teacher claims to have clairvoyant powers, or to perform miracles, or says that he or she has a direct message from the Buddha, or advertises special energies and healing capabilities, or a high level of realization, then there is definitely something wrong. This is not an authentic teacher.
-Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche1
A friend sent us this quote, because it reminded him of Tara. Long-time students of hers know that she has made all of the above claims.2
Below is a sample of other incredible claims Tara has made over the years. The list is short only because it is limited to instances where references were available. Interestingly, the most extreme statements came at the beginning of her career as Domo Geshe Rinpoche. She still discusses her own enlightenment and that of her students to this day, but it seems she decided to tone it down a little.
1. She is a Guru / Buddha.3 4 In the Buddhist tradition, both of these words refer to a being who has achieved some of the highest levels of enlightenment. She said the following during a public talk:
Should a grand Guru come up to you and say, “I think that you have qualities and I want to teach you everything I know. Would you please be my student?” and he places his hand on your head and you fall down. And you say, “This is the most marvelous opportunity that I have ever come across. I must grab it.” Every student that I’ve ever had has thought that way. “This is the most marvelous opportunity and I’m not going to let it pass by.”
However, in my American body I have come across those who have said (affects a whiny voice), “Ehhhhh, I don’t know… I’m gonna think about it and see where these things go. I’m gonna look at it… Ehhhhh, well if you wanna tell me something, OK. But don’t go on too long because I’ve only got 15 or 20 minutes.” …
In that way, I’m OK. Whatever. I learned that from Americans – “whatever.” And I can say it perfectly – whatever. And do I mean it? No, I don’t mean it. Because I truly love you all more than you love yourselves.” 5
2. She has been enlightened for 35,000 years, and performed enlightened works in Lemuria, Atlantis, Egypt, India, Tibet and now the United States.6
I am one of the oldest lineage Rinpoches in Tibetan Buddhism.7
I’m the oldest lineage Rinpoche in the Tibetan annals.8
3. She has been some of the most famous individuals in Buddhist history – Shariputra, King Thönmi Sambhota, Dromtönpa, and Milarepa. These are indeed considered to be former lives of Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche, but we’re doubtful that Rinpoche mentioned them as many times, or indeed as casually, as Tara did.9
I was thinking about several of my previous lives, particularly a Tibetan called Thonmi Sambhota. I do not have active memories but I know from that lifetime. Thonmi Sambhota was appointed and took the responsibility of developing the written Tibetan language. We had no written language in Tibet …based upon the Sanskrit language I was able to create the Tibetan alphabet. That is how the holy Dharma was recreated.
Also I was thinking about the time of Atisha. His Tibetan student was called Je Dromtoenpa. Je Dromtonepa arose in need of a new transmission of Buddhism from the original country of India to Tibet. In that way, I must love this because even at that time there was a problem. They call what Atisha did the second dissemination of Buddhism into Tibet. I was there at the second dissemination….I am not saying this from the viewpoint of ego, truly.10
4. One of her students achieved enlightenment just over a year after she started teaching as Domo Geshe Rinpoche.11 It was later determined that this individual was suffering from hallucinations induced by anti-malarial medication. Six months later, she described additional students having become enlightened.12 More recently, she said a high-level lama might have 3 or 4 students who become enlightened under their tutelage. She decided to “check” how many had become enlightened with her to that point, and claimed there were around 80.13
5. The transmission she gives to students was previously only available to the highest-level Gurus in Tibet. In other words, it is extremely rare and precious. A student might naturally conclude there is little chance of finding something similar from another teacher. 14