"BELIEVE NOTHING BASED MERELY ON TRADITION, SCRIPTURE, OR FAITH IN A
Seagal Comes Out of the Buddhist Closet
by Charles Carreon
In 2002 Shambhala Sun, the shameful house organ of
the Vajradhatu mafia, published a pathetic softball interview of
phony tulku Steven Seagal. The interviewer in "Steven Seagal Speaks"
feeds Seagal one easy question after another, and never once follows
up with a pointed interrogation. The interviewer points out none of
the obvious contradictions in Seagal's flow of blather. I've read
more incisive interviews of Miss America.
There's a stink of piety and obeisance to the
questions, which are spiked with Trungpa-esque phrases like "finding
your seat," which give it that "insider" flavor. (See
Trungpa's poem to Osel Tendzin urging him to "find his seat."
Tendzin famously misfired while enjoying his seat, causing one of
his students, and the student's girlfriend, to die of AIDS. But he
had such a sunny disposition in the face of tragedy, that he is
quoted as saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, the point is not to live as
long as possible." Shambhala Sun has never covered the topic of
Tendzin's murders, imposing a complete blackout on this topic.
Although Tendzin is venerated by the Shambhaloids, who have
reinvented him as a teacher with a "provocative" style, there is no
information about him on the Shambhala Sun website, except for that
one quote above, drawn from a doctor-devotee's essay.
No, instead of real information about their
crash-and-burn gurus, the Shambhala Sun is working to shore up the
reputation of Steven Seagal, who dropped out of the sky like the
Spade's hilarious sendup of redneck life, "Joe Dirt." The Seagal
interview is by screenwriter Stanley Weiser ("Wall Street" 1989).
His Seagal interview is so soft-brained, I thought maybe he wrote
"The Karate Kid." It must be the air in Los Angeles; either that, or
the number of gurus that swing through the town.
Whatever the cause, Weiser takes Seagal seriously, as
only a fellow show-business person can. Willing suspension of
disbelief is the key here. Seagal swings from one contradictory
statement to another. First he says he was born with a spiritual
bent, and that he's on earth only to do good. Then he admits he
suffered delusions of grandeur when he was young, and now he
understands things better. But his "better" understanding is the
same one he had when he was young -- that he needs to achieve great
spiritual wisdom to benefit human beings. He says he's meditated a
long time, but then admits tantra confuses him. He says he wouldn't
give a bribe to be called a tulku, but admits making large donations
to religious organizations. He claims he keeps his donations secret,
and complains that the press hasn't publicized his generosity. But
I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's let the man speak for himself.
All quotes are accurate, though they have been rearranged in order
to highlight contradictions.
Q: There are the recent reports that Penor Rinpoche
has recognized you as a tulku. Is that correct?
A: ... Well, first of all, this a recognition that people have
been telling me about for more than twenty years, people who have
known me in the dharma for a long time, long, long before Penor
Rinpoche ever formalized this.
In other words, "Yes, and it's long overdue."
I was born with a serious spiritual consciousness
and for many years studied different paths.
"You see, I've been spiritually advanced from birth,
like all tulkus."
I was confused in my youth: I thought that if I
could spiritually feed myself to levels of great spiritual
attainment then I could do greater things in the world and it
would be good for me and therefore good for everyone else.
"I used to be impressed with my inborn wisdom-talent.
Now I am beyond any delusions involving self-importance."
I am here on this Earth for one thing and that is
to see if I can somehow serve humankind and ease the suffering of
"Like all of the Great Ones, my mission is healing."
It was something that I had always kept secret, and
in fact denied.
"I have tried to hide my light from the world,
actively concealing my divinity."
So if I denied it then, why would I bribe people
for it now?
"For that matter, why would I now argue in favor of
my divinity when I have in the past denied it?"
I have traditionally donated large sums of money to
many different religious organizations ... in secret, but ... the
press believes there is no profit in reporting good deeds.
"You will find no record of my donations anywhere,
both because I hate publicizing good deeds, and because those damned
reporters hate me."
[P]eople ...said to me that I am an incarnate lama,
"You know, it's just something you get used to."
I was originally introduced to ... a handful of
lamas who had come over from Tibet [who] were sick and had been
[W]hen the Khampas were still fighting the Chinese and the CIA was
helping them, and because of the severe repression of the
Tibetan people, I wanted to get involved. ... it is probably best
if we donít get into that. ...I donít want to appear to be a
dangerous revolutionary person.
"I supported violent resistance, but that's top
secret, and bad for my image. Nobody understands what it's like to
be a secret agent bodhisattva."
These were the years when my interest in Tibetan
Buddhism flourished, but my involvement in any of the spiritual
endeavors and training remained my personal businessónot secret as
some of the other things were, but just private.
"I keep secrets, which are dark things I will not
talk about. I also keep things private, about which I am happy to
tell you, because I must use them as evidence of my long-time
connection with all things Tibetan."
I very much wanted to be invisible in the dharma
community, for a lot of reasons. Only in the last few months have
I come out of the closet.
"You won't be able to verify any of my claims,
because like I said, it was private, because I didn't want the
attention. Now I want the attention."
Penor Rinpoche basically recognized me as Kyung-drak
Dorje, who was the reincarnation of the translator Yudra Nyingpo.
"He didn't recognize me as Yudra Nyingpo, but he
'basically' recognized me as this other guy, who was his
From the time that I started going to India and
meditating I did start getting memories [of past lives] that were
"Do not try to get any details out of me."
Just a few days ago ... a lama ... said to me ...
"you have a very good imprint of many strong past lives, and
therefore your realization will come more swiftly than some
Q: What did he mean by that?
A: I canít really explain it.
"Many lamas kiss my ass. Perhaps they have heard
about my secret donations."
Of course, as you practice longer, you will develop
some different siddhis. But none of them really matters.
"For example, I am a huge man who could break your
head with my fist. It's not important."
... I have consistently said ... I donít believe it
is very important who I was in my last lives, I think it is
important who I am in this life...
"Let's talk about something I know about, okay?"
I am not a highly realized being, I am not a great
lama, I donít have any great practice.
"All of the Great Ones deny being great. I fit the
I am a very low person just trying to get to first
base and the most basic practice of a bodhisattva. I am starting
humble memorizations, meditations, and prayers.
"Of course, you already heard about the 27 years, the
Tibetans recognizing me as divine, and my special talents in
meditation, so you know this is just more of my humble schtick."
I have been doing serious meditation in my own
pitiful way for probably twenty-seven years.
"Have another helping!"
Hopefully [by sitting with Trichen Rinpoche and
Penor Rinpoche] I will absorb some knowledge or wisdom....
"Name dropping really works with Tibetan Buddhists,
so bombs away!"
Whenever I get too esoteric into the realms of
tantric stuff, I get a little bit lost.
"I just keep it simple. Like Elvis Costello said,
'What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?'"
[T]he great obstacle was just a lack of
understanding of the way.
"So glad I'm over that obstacle!"
[W]hen I was in Japan, people tried to deify me,
and the reason I left there was that deification is truly a death
"A total dead end."
That is a reason why I kept my spiritual practice
to myself in America.
"Once people realize you're divine, it's all over.
They will deify you. Didn't want to make the same mistakes here, so
I just laid low."
I donít think deification has been one of my
biggest problems in life because I am lucky enough to have
understood a long time ago what adoration and power really are
"I've just learned to take it in stride. I'm huge,
I'm handsome, I'm rich. And on top of it all, I'm divine. The
adulation is just part of the scene."
I have given teachings recently. Always on Buddhaís
"If anyone will listen, I need the practice."
When I walk into a room some people see a dog, some
people see a cow. I am all of what they see. It is their
"This sort of thing worked for Charlie Manson, why
not for me? Just talk bullshit and let it roll."
Buddhanature is in all of us, even in a mangy dog
lying in the gutter with fleas. That dog is Buddha to me.
"I heard that some guy named Naropa saw his guru as a
dog. I been thinkin' a lot about that."
The Dalai Lama has said to me to concentrate on
"He knows I make movies in which I kill lots of
Q: The Dalai Lama gave you personal instructions
A: I wouldnít say he has given me personal instructions about
"Just had to ask that, didn't you?"
I donít really care what other people think of me
or say about me.
"I swear I never think about it."
Guru Rinpoche, the Lord Buddha and all the
protectors, dakas and dakinis [give me solace].
"Blondes, bucks, flashy cars, all mean nothing to me.
What I want is all stuff I can imagine in my head just as well
without a dime in my pocket. In fact, I'm about to give away all my
stuff, I'm feeling so solaced about it all."
I want to be able to feed the children who are
starving and sick in Tibet.
"But my arms aren't long enough."
We are also trying recently to do something for
people with eye problems in Tibet.
"That's me and some other people I can't mention."
[Dr. Larry Brilliant, Co-Founder of
the SEVA Foundation] The night of the stroke, Jai called
me and asked me to go to the hospital. And I went to the
Kaiser Hospital on the peninsula, and I was there when they
brought the ambulance in. And I thought he was dead. If not
dead, there was a gossamer-thin thread that separated him from
He was in a
very gentle and open space to the extent that he was there at
all. It was pretty amazing, his recovery....
We've lost a lot of very good
friends to very bad drugs. And we've seen the exalted spirit
that certain psychedelics, under certain conditions, can
bring. And it would be disingenuous to deny that, just as it
would be disingenuous to deny that religious and mystical
experience from fasting, meditating and yoga. For me, it
opened up a new world that my very conventional, very
middle-class upbringing in Detroit, Michigan wouldn't have
opened for me, that my training in medical school would have,
if anything, have forbidden me to see. So I'm deeply grateful
for those times and those experiments....
How do I explain who Maharaji was, and how he
did what he did? I don't have any explanation. Maybe it was
his love of God. I can't explain who he was. I can almost
begin to understand how he loved everybody. I mean, that was
sort of his job. He was a saint. Saints are supposed to love
everybody. That's not what has always so staggered me. What
staggered me is not that he loved everybody, but that when I
was sitting in front of him, I loved everybody. That was the
hardest thing for me to understand. How he could so totally
transform the spirit of people who were with him and bring out
not just the best in us, but something that wasn't even in us,
we didn't know. I don't think any of us were ever as good or
as pure or as loving in our whole life as we were when we were
sitting in front of him....
The most common word that he ever said was
"Ram," God's name, and the second most common was "Jau," "get
out of here." And all the Westerners who would come to him,
attracted like a magnet, he would always say, "Go away. Go
away." No, I don't think he wanted anything ever from me or
from any of us. We tried to give him things. You couldn't give
him money. You couldn't do anything for him. There was nothing
that he needed....
know, you can talk to, I don't know, a thousand people my age
who went through the sixties, and you ask them "What was their
first 'Ah hah'?" And for so many of them it was reading "Be
Here Now." It was at one time the best-selling book in the
English language, except for Ben Spock and the Bible....
There was a time when so many Western seekers
went to India in search of the truth. Many experienced
something which transformed them forever. A few could come
back and articulate that transformation. Ram Dass allowed us
to go along on his ride. Even after his stroke, Wavy said to
him, "Look, Dick, you always go ahead of the rest of us and
bring back what you've learned. Go back from this and tell us
what we have to face as we get older and face the same kinds
-- Ram Dass: Fierce Grace, directed by Mickey Lemle
Acting is an art ... art is the mother of religion;
by becoming one with ourselves and nature, one becomes one with
"This is my best shot at profundity. Watch that I
[A]rt imitates life and its function should be a
perfect and accurate interpretation of the way life really is, in
all of its emanations.
"I learned about emanations recently. I like to use
the word, but maybe this isn't the best way."
I am not saying that I am a great artist; I am
probably a poor artist.
"It is fun to be honest sometimes."
I am an artist trying to perfect his craft, but at
the same time I do have feelings about violence.
"I am drowning. Please help me."
I was under a contract with Warner Brothers I could
not get out of, and what they wanted me for was the male action
"I agreed to kill people on film in exchange for
millions, not realizing I would someday want to pose as a man of
peace. By the time this tulku option opened up, I was stuck."
I was offered extraordinary sums of money by other
studios to do different types of movies and Warner Brothers would
not let me.
"Yeah, like I was gonna do "Hamlet" for the BBC, and
a special with the Muppets."
Now that Iím out of that situation, ... the kinds
of films I would really like to do ... are spiritual in nature and
... will lead people into contemplation and offer them joy.
"Yeah, I'm going to do a dinosaur special for
I am grateful for the ability that I have on the
screen to bring people happiness and joy and the ability that I
will have in the future to hopefully bring people into the path of
"People have a lot of frustrations, and when my
character breaks every bone in a villain's body by slamming him
against every protuberance on a late-model BMW, then shoves him into
the trunk and pushes the Beamer off a high-rise parking structure,
it releases those frustrations, and that gives people joy. Then they
can consider the path of contemplation, and how they can only kick
the shit out of their enemies if they stay calm, like me."
I consider my worst enemies and my worst sufferings
to be my greatest teachers, so there is always another side to
these negative forces.
"So people like Charles and Tara Carreon do not
bother me at all. In fact, they are my greatest benefactors, because
they show me how far I have to go."