Yesterday’s Daily Princetonian ran a story on Roach unlike most we’ve seen in the past few months. Focusing on Michael Roach as a former student, class of ’75, the article is essentially a ‘feel-good’ piece about a former activist, who “briefly landed in jail for helping to disrupt napalm weapons research at the Institute for Advanced Study” and is doing interesting things in the world today. “These days, he runs a three-year Buddhist retreat in the Arizona desert, in which retreaters isolate themselves in silence and use yoga and meditation to explore their minds.”
While it’s interesting to get some further insight into Roach’s younger days and to see that Ven. Jigme Palmo, whom I met in Ireland in 2005 and hold in high esteem, is willing to speak on behalf of Roach and the retreat, it still seems that a thick air of unaddressed issues hangs in the air around Diamond Mountain University.
You wouldn’t get this sense if you went to DMU’s website, though, where Michael Roach has written a cheerful and upbeat 3-year retreat update. There he mentions the death of Ian Thorson indirectly 3 times, calling it and the problems with Christie McNally “the tragic events at DM earlier this spring,” “The difficulties we’ve had earlier this year,” and “the recent sad events.” I imagine that those affected by the death of Thorson and hospitalization of McNally will hardly take solace in such nods to the recent past.
It appears, ever more, that Roach and the folks at Diamond Mountain are happy to just wait this out.
Roach, it is noted, refused all on-camera interview requests – and the request to comment in the Princtonian – and continues to travel and teach Buddhism around the world.
Here is some of the background:
– Christy McNally’s letter (A shift in the Matrix), April 19th– Death in the Desert in an American Buddhist Cult (ABP), May 5th
– Michael Roach’s open letter (Acknowledging Ian’s death), April 26th
– Matthew Remski’s first critical analysis of the death, May 4th
– John Stillwell’s rebuttal (of Remski), May 6th
– Remski’s followup, May 19th
– Michael Roach’s essay (defending his ‘Geshe’ title), June 2nd
– NY Times article, June 5th
– Geshe Michael Roach Cult Death hits the New York Times (ABP) – June 6th
– Dateline NBC interview discussed (ABP) – June 21st
– Further discussion, Remski’s third article (ABP) – July 9th
– CNN’s Anderson Cooper discusses the story – August 1st
– Diamond Mountain Death covered by Anderson Cooper (ABP) – August 7th
– Roach’s 3-year retreat update – Sept 1st
– Roach ’75 runs Buddhist retreat in the desert – October 15th