Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Identified as a trouble maker by the authorities since childhood, and resolved to live up to the description, Charles Carreon soon discovered that mischief is most effectively fomented through speech. Having mastered the art of flinging verbal pipe-bombs and molotov cocktails at an early age, he refined his skills by writing legal briefs and journalistic exposes, while developing a poetic style that meandered from the lyrical to the political. Journey with him into the dark caves of the human experience, illuminated by the torch of an outraged sense of injustice.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:30 pm

Be Careful What You Wish For – The Peril of Regulated Status for Psychedelic Churches
by Charles Carreon, Attorney at law [1]
May 17, 2019



The Practice of Communion Mediated by a Pharmacological Agent

An Internet search for “Ayahuasca church” reveals that psychedelic religion is booming in popularity in the United States. Ayahuasca practice is not the only form of psychedelic religion, however. For purposes of this article, I define “psychedelic religion” as any religion that uses a sacrament that is pharmacologically active. Sacraments are found in many religions – the bread and wine of Christian ceremony provides a familiar primary example, and Tibetan Buddhists will be familiar with “dutsei”– blessing pills prepared according to ancient recipes, and “amrita” -- saffron-water that is sprinkled and drunk during “empowerments” and “mandala feasts”.

Sacraments that are not pharmacologically active are deemed spiritually efficacious due to the magic of doctrine and the power of priestly incantations, gestures, and lineage authority. For example, the Catholic mass, i.e., the “celebration of the Holy Eucharist” is a ceremony wherein bread and wine are “transubstantiated” by a male priest who communes with the Father Deity, transforming these earthly foods into spiritual nutrition -- the “Body and Blood of Christ.” This is no mere attempt to push believers into contemplation or a sense of deeper connection. Catholic doctrine makes it clear that this communion ceremony is not a “symbolic experience,” but rather the core of the true Christian mysterium tremendum. [ i] As an instructive website for Catholics preparing to receive their First Communion explains, communion “is a mystical and spiritual union of the soul with Jesus … produced in the soul by our physical contact with the sacred Body of Jesus.” [ii] Notwithstanding the doctrinal assertion that “something happens” when believers consume the Eucharist, however, there is no doubt that the faith-inspired imagination of the practitioner must be engaged for the “spiritual union with the soul of Jesus” to occur.

Psychedelic substances are not placebos – they alter the consciousness of those who ingest them. The difference between sacred and profane use of psychedelics is based on the religious application of what Dr. Timothy Leary introduced as the teaching on “set and setting,” in which “set” refers to the “mindset” of the person taking the psychedelic, and “setting” refers to the physical and social environment where the psychedelic is consumed. The law of psychedelic religion in the United States has silently absorbed this teaching by declaring that, when a person ingests a psychedelic with a religious mindset in a religious setting, they are engaging in a “non-drug use” of the substance, [iii] and thus qualify for an exemption from laws that make taking the psychedelic illegal for those who take the substance for any other purpose.

Legal reasoning operates by analogy – like things receive similar treatment. The churches that have prevailed in court on their claims for religious exemption from laws proscribing the possession and manufacture of psychedelic drugs have won because they analogized their activities to those of established Christian religions. A clear analysis of modern US law legitimizing the practice of psychedelic religion makes it clear that, by describing the Native American Church’s practice of eating peyote and the UDV’s practice of drinking Ayahuasca as “sacramental,” the United States Supreme Court has equated eating peyote and drinking Ayahuasca with the Catholic ceremony of communion. [iv] Although we can engage in lengthy discussions of how courts define psychedelic religion, I believe that equating peyote and Ayahuasca with the Christian bread and wine is the key to understanding and developing the jurisprudence of psychedelic religion. Why? Not because the courts like Christian churches and those that claim some Christian elements in their doctrine receive favored treatment. Because without the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist there is no Catholic Mass, and unless a psychedelic substance is essential to the religious experience of a church’s congregants, the church cannot claim First Amendment exemption from federal laws that criminalize the possession and distribution of the substance.

To prevail in a lawsuit claiming the right to an exemption from the Controlled Substance Act (the “CSA”) on grounds of religion, the church must show that the CSA “substantially burdens” the church’s members in ways that go beyond “diminished spiritual fulfillment.” [v] There is only one way to establish this degree of centrality to religious purpose in a jurisprudence where the Christian ceremony of communion prevails as the sine qua non of ritual practice – by drawing the analogy between the use of a psychedelic sacrament and the Holy Eucharist explicitly and unequivocally in all contexts. Hence my definition of psychedelic religion as those that use a pharmacological agent to mediate an experience in which church members engage in communion with the Divine.

Many logical conclusions follow from this conclusion that psychedelic religions seeking lawful exemption from the application of the CSA should define their ceremonies as the sacrament of communion, and I intend to explore them in future articles; however, for the present, I have accomplished what I need to for purposes of this article – to define psychedelic religion based on the centrality of the psychedelic experience itself, an experience without which the religion itself would have no meaning and church members would have no religious practice.

The Consequences of Regulated Status for a Psychedelic Religion

Since 2006, when the UDV won an exemption from the CSA to import and distribute Ayahuasca to its members, [vi] many psychedelic churches have wondered whether they could reach this level of legality. The only known avenue to obtaining such an exemption, aside from a federal lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), [vii] is to submit an application for exemption to the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) in compliance with a two-page instruction sheet prepared by the DEA, entitled the Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act Pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the “Guidance”). [viii] I have discussed the hazards of submitting a Petition for Religious Exemption from the CSA (a "PRE") in compliance with the Guidance, placing particular emphasis on the potential for self-incrimination that is involved in a process that essentially involves delivering a confession of facially criminal conduct to the DEA in hopes that the agency will find that religious motives justify the crime. [ix]

Despite the fact that the DEA has not granted any RFEs, and that the only Ayahuasca church with an PRE currently pending did so only in response to a mildly threatening letter from the DEA, for purposes of this article, we assume that a hypothetical psychedelic church did in fact successfully navigate the PRE process under the Guidance, and received its exemption from the CSA to import, manufacture and distribute its sacrament. Let’s call our hypothetical church the Church of the Ancestral Dreamtime (the “CAD”), whose members call themselves “Tabernanths” because, in a suitably sacred set and setting, they consume an extract of Iboga Tabernanthe, and receive sacred communications from the Ancestral Dreamtime in a state of ecstatic communion. Suffice it to say that without Iboga, there would be no CAD, because there is no way to reach the Ancestral Dreamtime except by consuming Iboga in CAD ceremony, that includes the performance of ceremonial dance and chanting to establish proper set and setting.

After celebrating their success, what will the legal consequences of regulation be for the CAD? In a word, a lot of paperwork. A scholarly article on the UDV’s experience operating a psychedelic church under the aegis of DEA regulation recites: [x]

“Despite the UDV’s victory in the Supreme Court, during ensuing years the US Government complicated the group’s activities through a series of bureaucratic and administrative strategies. Because of the legal path that this dispute followed, the UDV was still subject to a variety of pressures and uncertainties, and the agreement finally settled this dispute between them. The agreement *** establishes that the UDV must: inform the DEA of all shipments of hoasca in advance, as well as quantities; follow a strict bureaucratic protocol to import, store and distribute hoasca; keep a record of how many participants attend each session and the total amount of hoasca consumed in each session; keep hoasca in rooms protected with a solidcore door and a deadbolt lock to avoid thefts and diversion; inform the DEA of the names of people authorized to keep the hoasca, and allow the DEA to investigate whether this person has been previously convicted of a felony relating to controlled substances.”

This list is actually only the beginning of the recordkeeping responsibilities that the UDV assumed in its settlement with the DEA, but it is sufficient to provide the context necessary to continue our discussion. As the author of the quoted article notes by citing several examples, the settlement has affected how the UDV conducts its practices, altering its character in significant ways. Thus, the UDV has changed from a religion with rustic origins in the Amazonian rainforest, that transmitted liturgical lore through an oral tradition, utilized a wide range of herbs in addition to Ayahuasca, and entrusted its members with adequate quantities of Ayahuasca to engage in self-initiated psychedelic practice outside of formal church meetings, into a religion that has large urban memberships, relies extensively on written records, audio-recordings and commercial music, has largely eliminated the use of all substances other than Ayahuasca in its ceremonies, and does not allow practitioners to take Ayahuasca home for personal use. Further, it has initiated a recordkeeping regime that is an open book to the DEA, abrogating the rights of privacy that have traditionally been accorded to UDV members in its home country of Brazil. [xi]

The Required Records Doctrine

It will not surprise you to learn that our modern regulatory state has a powerful judicial hammer behind it to compel the disclosure of information that is needed to maintain the regulatory system. This judicial hammer is known as the Required Records Doctrine, and it dates back to 1948, when the federal government was actively engaged in what today might be reviled as socialism – regulating the prices of fruits and vegetables:

“The petitioner, a wholesaler of fruit and produce, on September 29, 1944, was served with a subpoena duces tecum and ad testificandum, issued by the Price Administrator under authority of the Emergency Price Control Act. The subpoena directed petitioner to appear before designated enforcement attorneys of the Office of Price Administration and to produce ‘all duplicate sales invoices, sales books, ledgers, inventory records, contracts and records relating to the sale of all commodities from September 1, 1944 to September 28, 1944.’" [xii]

The greengrocer produced all of the records, and made a feeble objection under the Fifth Amendment that the Supreme Court brushed aside with nary a comment. The records, the Court held, had to be produced because Congress had enacted a wartime law to regulate the sales of fruits and vegetables, and requiring greengrocers to keep the very records that had been subpoenaed. There was nothing unconstitutional about it, because such regulatory documents essentially became “public records,” and the government had the right to inspect them upon demand.

The Required Records Doctrine is still the law of the land, and will still nullify any Fifth Amendment objection. It has often been used to compel production of tax returns and documents that would disclose violations of the tax laws. Recently, it was used by the Ninth Circuit to compel the disclosure of banking records to a Grand Jury over a Fifth Amendment objection that producing them would incriminate the witness for tax evasion and banking crimes. [xiii] Although the witness objected that banking records were protected by privacy regulations, the Ninth Circuit tortured the meaning of public records with the ready implement of prior precedent, holding that based on a case involving the compelled disclosure of confidential medical records, any document, however personal and private, can have "’public aspects’ for purposes of the Required Records Doctrine and that ‘expectations of privacy do not negate a finding that there is a public aspect to the files under the ... regulatory schemes….’" [xiv]

Most importantly for our purposes, the court rejected a claim that even if the documents had to be kept in order to engage in offshore banking, they were still protected from disclosure under the Fifth Amendment because particular matters recorded in them tended to incriminate the witness. To that contention, the Ninth Circuit’s response was simple: “[N]o one is required to participate in the activity of offshore banking….” [xv] This principle is most important for any psychedelic church that is considering submitting a request for exemption to the DEA, because if the church gets what it’s asking for, it will simply enter into a regulated relationship with the DEA, and it will be required to produce all the records that the DEA requires it to keep, upon demand. Should the church object, under the Fifth Amendment or on any grounds, the answer will simply be: “No one is required to operate a psychedelic church.”

A Brief Discussion of the First Amendment Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides the bedrock of protections for religious freedom in the United States, and the sole protection for freedom to practice psychedelic religion. The courts divide the First Amendment’s provisions regarding religious into two clauses: first, the Establishment Clause -- “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” -- and second, the Free Exercise Clause -- “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” RFRA is merely a Congressionally-created remedy for an excess of judicial activism that had wiped away decades of Free Exercise jurisprudence, and reinstated the rule pursuant to which the courts had fashioned various religious exemptions to laws of general application, on the grounds that the government was forbidden from punishing people for living according to sincerely-held religious beliefs. [xvi] Several of these cases upheld the right of a religious person to collect unemployment benefits after being fired from private employment for violating employment rules that conflicted with religious principles, like the Jehovah’s Witness who refused to manufacture weapons, and the Seventh Day Adventist who refused to work on Saturday. [xvii]

The DEA – Appointing a Stranger to Religion As the Regulator of Religion?

After Congress enacted RFRA, the Supreme Court held that even criminal laws such as the CSA’s proscription on the use of controlled substances had to give way to the Free Exercise Clause. As we’ve discussed above, the UDV accepted regulation of its religious activity and the duty to record and disclose its activities to the DEA as a necessary accommodation to secure the right to serve its members a psychedelic sacrament. The UDV thus entered into a strange realm that I do not think is consistent with the robust protection of religious freedom contemplated First Amendment – a realm where religious organizations are regulated by an organization that spends over $2 Billion per year dealing with the suppression of illegal narcotics and the distribution of legal ones – and does that job so badly that Americans are dying in previously-undreamed numbers from overdoses of both illegal and legal opioids.

The Dilemma of the Ancients

Returning to our hypothetical religion, imagine that a sect of the Tabernanths received a revelation in ceremony in which the Ancestors told them they were forbidden from engaging in the regulatory disclosures required by the DEA. Suppose the Ancestors told the members of this sect that the leadership had entered into a Faustian bargain with the government that would result in a falling away from the true path of the Dreamtime. Further suppose that these members separated themselves from their established church and created a new sect called The Ancient Dreamers (the “Ancients”). Further suppose that when the DEA wrote the Ancients a letter and suggested that they submit an application for exemption under the Guidance, the Ancients had their legal team write back a respectful letter declining the invitation on the grounds that it would violate their Fifth Amendment rights to be free of self-incrimination. Finally, suppose that, promptly upon receipt of the Ancients’ refusal to submit a request for exemption, the DEA served the Ancients with an administrative subpoena demanding disclosure of the identity of all of its leadership, the locations of its houses of worship, and copies of all documents recording the importation, manufacture and possession of Iboga Tabernanthe and Iboga extracts, both of which are Schedule I substances under the CSA. What would the Ancients do?

The Free Exercise and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment Provide Grounds for Subjecting A DEA Subpoena to A Church to Strict Judicial Scrutiny

If the Ancients came to me for advice, I would congratulate them for heeding the wisdom of the Ancestors who spoke to them in ceremony, because in refusing DEA regulation, they had preserved their right to object to the subpoena under the First Amendment. In my opinion, both the Free Expression Clause and the Establishment Clause bar the DEA from (1) demanding information that churches have the right to refuse to provide, and (2) becoming entangled in the unconstitutional business by presuming to regulate the internal affairs of a religious organization. For a precedent that is directly on point, we turn to Surinach v. Pequera de Busquets, 604 F.2d 73 (1st Cir. 1979), where a federal appeals court quashed a subpoena from a Puerto Rican government agency that had been served on the Superintendents of the Roman Catholic schools on the island, demanding production of extensive records about how the Catholic schools were being operated. [xviii] The First Circuit held that the very demand to produce the records chilled free exercise:

"The Department's [demand for] ‘compelled disclosure has the potential for substantially infringing the exercise of First Amendment rights.’ We see that potential in the chilling of the decision making process, occasioned by the threat that those decisions will become the subject of public hearings and that eventually, if found wanting, will be supplanted by governmental control." [xix]

The court also indicated that the Establishment Clause, that forbids the government from becoming “entangled” in the internal affairs of religious groups, was offended by the government’s effort to pry into the Church’s private affairs:

"If the schools are forced to comply, that information will be subjected to governmental perusal, to public examination, and ultimately may form the basis for significant governmental involvement in their fiscal management. Even if we were able to countenance the degree of entanglement occasioned by the government's involvement in these details of fiscal administration, we could not feel confident that an end to that involvement was in sight. *** This kind of state inspection and evaluation of the religious content of a religious organization is fraught with the sort of entanglement that the Constitution forbids." [xx]

Because the Ancients could object to the DEA subpoena on grounds of the First Amendment, the courts would apply the highest level of judicial scrutiny to the demand:

"Given our conclusion that the Secretary's demands for the financial data of these schools both burden the free exercise of religion and pose a threat of entanglement between the affairs of church and state, the Commonwealth must show that "some compelling state interest" justifies that burden. and that there exists no less restrictive or entangling alternative. This demanding level of scrutiny also is required here because of the vehicle of regulation chosen by the Department—compelled disclosure which implicates First Amendment rights. [xxi]


The Surinach opinion has never been questioned, and the Supreme Court’s current favorable orientation towards recognizing a broad swath of religious rights makes it an auspicious time for psychedelic churches to look for a way forward and beyond the thicket of entanglement that would arise from DEA regulation. Because churches are not currently required to create any documents by the government, and because such a proactive regulatory scheme is highly unlikely to emerge from Congress or the Department of Justice, psychedelic churches will never be subject to the Required Records Doctrine unless they volunteer for it. While we have not discussed it here, there is evidence in the record to indicate that the Santo Daime preserved a great deal more freedom from regulation after their victory over the DEA in Oregon District Court. As scientific knowledge establishing the general utility and safety of psychedelic substances in the treatment of depression, PTSD and drug addiction advances, psychedelic religions should seek to take advantage of the warming climate of tolerance, and defend their faith from unwarranted and unnecessary regulations that are not inflicted upon other religions. Psychedelic religions that follow proper protocols of set and setting in order to induce the sacred experience of communion with the Divine through a sacrament that is not a placebo present no hazards that require government regulation. Nor would the DEA, an organization institutionally disposed to view all psychedelics as dangerous drugs requiring suppression, be the proper agency to provide it.



1. Charles Carreon has been a member of the California Bar for thirty years, and retired from the Oregon bar in 2012. A graduate of UCLA Law School (1986), he served the public as an Oregon prosecutor and Federal Public Defender. His private practice has focused on civil trial and appellate litigation, transactional work for media companies, and intellectual property registration, negotiation, and litigation. He currently serves as General Counsel for an Arizona church that administers a pharmacologically active sacrament, and maintains a private practice consulting on issues of Constitutional law, media law, and intellectual property. He may be contacted at or 628-227-4059.

i. ... eucharist/


iii. CHLQ v. Mukasey, 615 F.Supp.2d 1210, 1214 (2006).

iv. Gonzales v. O Centro Spirita Beneficente Uniao Do Vegetal, 546 US 418 (2006).

v. Perkel, Church of Reality v. United States Department of Justice, No. 08-74457 (9th Cir. 1/27/2010).

vi. Gonzales v. O Centro Spirita Beneficente Uniao Do Vegetal, 546 US 418 (2006).

vii. 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, et seq.

viii. ... 022618.pdf

ix. C.Carreon, The DEA's Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act under RFRA: Door to Religious Freedom or Fifth Amendment Trap for the Unwary? ... the_Unwary

x. B.C.Labate, Paradoxes of ayahuasca expansion: The UDV–DEA agreement and the limits of freedom of religion ... 011.606397

xi. B.C.Labate, id. at page 23.

xii. Shapiro v. United States, 335 US 1, 17 (1948).

xiii. In re MH, 648 F. 3d 1067 (9th Cir. 2011)

xiv. In re MH, 648 F. 3d at 1078.

xv. In re MH, 648 F. 3d at id.

xvi. Justice Roberts explained how Congress turned the Court around in Gonzales v. O Centro Spirita Beneficente Uniao Do Vegetal, 546 US at 424: "In Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), this Court held that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment does not prohibit governments from burdening religious practices through generally applicable laws. *** Congress responded by enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 107 Stat. 1488, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq., which adopts a statutory rule comparable to the constitutional rule rejected in Smith."

xvii. Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 US 707, 716 (1981); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 US 398 (1963).

xviii. “In July of 1978, plaintiffs were ordered by the Secretary to provide within ten days specified documents and books and to furnish such information as the school's annual budgets for the three previous years; the source of their finances (registrations, donations, governmental and others); costs of transportation; the student cost per academic grade for registration, admission dues ..." Surinach v. Pequera de Busquets, 604 F.2d at 74.

xix. Surinach v. Pequera de Busquets, 604 F.2d at 78, quoting Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 66 (1976) and Catholic Bishop of Chicago v. NLRB 559 F. 2d 1112, 1124 (7th Cir., 1977).

xx. Surinach v. Pequera de Busquets, 604 F.2d at 78 (emphasis added), quoting Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 620 (1971).

xxi. Surinach v. Pequera de Busquets, 604 F.2d at 79, (emphasis added and internal citations omitted), citing Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 406 (1963); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 220-21 (1972); Walz v. Tax Commission, 397 U.S. 664, 674-75 (1970); and, L. Tribe, American Constitutional Law 851-55 (1978).
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:12 pm

Part 1 of 2

The DEA's Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act under RFRA: Door to Religious Freedom or Fifth Amendment Trap for the Unwary?
by Charles Carreon
May 17, 2019



Summary of the Article

The Drug Enforcement Administration has adopted a procedure to consider claims of exemption from the proscriptions of the Controlled Substance Act for churches that use psychedelic sacraments, and wish to continue doing so without fear of criminal prosecution. The DEA's procedure requires the submission of claims for exemption to adhere to the requirements of a "Guidance" document that requires disclosure of information that could be used to trigger investigations and prosecutions of churches or individuals applying for exemption. During the nine years since the DEA published the Guidance, there have been few applications for exemption submitted, and this author has seen no record of any being granted, despite the evident growth in the number of churches offering psychedelic controlled substances as their communion sacrament. Even though the Guidance requires disclosure of information that could be used for prosecutorial purposes, the author discovered no scholarly papers analyzing the Guidance to determine whether its provisions are subject to valid objections as incursions on the Fifth Amendment right to be free of compelled self-incrimination. In the absence of such an analysis, psychedelic churches and their attorneys have either filed requests for exemption without adequate risk assessment, or have refrained from filing altogether. Accordingly, this article has been prepared to provide an assessment of those risks. The article begins with an introduction to the seminal Supreme Court case that resulted in the DEA's issuance of the Guidance, provides a brief account of the historical origins of the Fifth Amendment, proceeds to a discussion of government regulatory regimes that have required compelled self-disclosure of incriminating facts, and summarizes the holdings of the Supreme Court decisions that overturned these regulatory regimes as violative of the Fifth Amendment. With this background established, the article identifies a variety of Fifth Amendment defects in the Guidance, and suggests how these defects could be remedied by regulatory changes that would assure applicants for exemption that disclosures necessary for the DEA to fairly evaluate requests for exemptions would not be used against them to instigate investigations or prosecution.

Introduction to RFRA

It's been twelve years since the Supreme Court delivered its unanimous decision in Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, [1] ("The UDV decision"), authored by Chief Justice Roberts, holding that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") "prohibits the Federal Government from substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion, unless the Government 'demonstrates that application of the burden to the person' represents the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling interest." [2] The specific legal effect of the UDV Decision was both revolutionary and narrowly limited. Revolutionary, because it considerably softened the draconian holding in Employment Division, Dept. Of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, [3] that eliminated all First-Amendment based rationales for exemptions from general law that would allow use of psychedelic substances in religious services, by directing the federal courts to strictly scrutinize the constitutionality of laws that substantially burden religion practice. Narrowly limited, because it granted a religious exemption for psychedelic use to only one Brazilian religious sect -- the UDV, and applied the exemption to only one controlled substance -- dimethyltryptamine ("DMT"). Further, it provided protection against only Federal law enforcement interference.

The UDV decision was made possible only because the Roberts Court embraced the power Congress granted the federal courts in RFRA, which Congress enacted to remedy the injustice that was made law in the Smith case. As Justice Roberts stated, "In Smith we rejected the interpretation of the Free Exercise Clause announced in earlier cases, [and] Congress responded by enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act." [4] Applying the strict-scrutiny standard of review required by RFRA, the Court found itself compelled to reject the DEA's two arguments: (1) that the CSA was a "closed system" that admitted of no exemptions, and (2) that the nation's obligations under the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances further precluded granting any exemptions to the CSA's proscriptions. [5]

In the wake of the UDV Decision, these two arguments should have vanished forever, but hope springs eternal with the Department of Justice, that recently attempted to breathe new life into the DEA’s defunct "closed regulatory system" argument, and had to be reminded by the Ninth Circuit that, "[l]ike it or not, when religious objectors raise RFRA as a defense to prosecution under the CSA, RFRA requires courts to 'strike sensible balances' on a case-by-case basis, in light of 'the particular practice at issue." [6] The Ninth Circuit’s rejection of the USDOJ’s efforts to stall the growth of precedent show that it has imbibed the teachings of O Centro, and real progress has been made.

The DEA Promulgates Guidance for RFRA-Based Exemption Requests from the CSA

Despite the heel-dragging attitude of the DEA and the Department of Justice, the principles enunciated in the UDV Decision are now firmly embodied in RFRA law, and the courts have directed the DEA to review RFRA applications from religious practitioners seeking exemptions from the effect of the CSA. Thus, in January 2009, the DEA issued a document entitled "Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act Pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (the "Guidance").The Guidance lays out the requirements for filing a Petition for Religious Exemption from the CSA (a "PRE"). Notably, the Guidance did not go through a public comment procedure, and was adopted as an act of administrative fiat.

According to the Guidance, a PRE must disclose a church's "membership policies and leadership," which controlled substances it "wishes to use," where the controlled substances will be used, and the amounts, conditions, and locations of its "anticipated" manufacture, distribution ... and possession of controlled substances. [7] The procedure provides no set time period for the DEA to process a PRE, and requires the church to refrain from any use of psychedelic sacraments while the PRE is pending. [8]

How This Article Came to Be, and What's In It

The Guidance tells exemption seekers to write a detailed confession of conduct the DEA considers to be criminal, betting that the DEA will conclude that the behavior is worthy of an exemption from legal sanction. Intuition might lead one to believe that this is not a very good bet, and most lawyers with experience in criminal law would probably sense serious problems with the Guidance procedure; however, a thorough analysis of the constitutional hazards inherent in the process has been lacking, and in the absence of this analysis, churches and their lawyers have been operating in the dark, exposed to unassessed risks. After discussing the matter with church leaders and attorneys, the author concluded there was a need to probe those risks on behalf of churches attracted by the potential of obtaining legal protection from the threat of prosecution, but wary of the risks of drawing attention to themselves by filing a PRE.

Delving into the topic, the author discovered a similarity between the Guidance and several other regulatory schemes that the US Government has adopted over the years when faced with the job of regulating citizen behavior deemed immoral, dangerous, or ideologically undesirable, including gambling, narcotics trafficking, and membership in the Communist party. As we will see, each of these groups has been the subject of Government efforts to compel or induce citizens to relinquish their Fifth Amendment Rights to be free of compelled self-incrimination by requiring disclosure of criminal conduct.

The article begins with a review of the history and purpose of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. It then briefly reviews the histories of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act (that jointly prohibited sales of alcohol), and the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, all of which utilized registration regimes to require bootleggers, dealers in narcotics, and cannabis buyers and sellers to incriminate themselves. The article then discusses the seminal litigation that resulted in Dr. Timothy Leary's successful bid to overturn the Marihuana Tax Act as an unconstitutional infringement of the Fifth Amendment, explaining how this victory was made possible by two important Supreme Court decisions -- the first holding that the American Communist Party did not have to disclose its membership to a Government board of inquiry, and the second holding that bookmakers did not have to register with the IRS, notwithstanding a Congressional enactment that required them to do so.

The article then examines the Guidance in light of these precedents, and concludes that (1) the Guidance infringes the Fifth Amendment right to be free of self-incrimination by requiring disclosure of facts that could lead to investigation and prosecution for violation of the Controlled Substance Act, and (2) these constitutional defects could be remedied through rule changes by the DEA.

A Short History of the Fifth Amendment Privilege Against Self-Incrimination

The Fifth Amendment is the primary source of constitutional protection against abuses [9] of the criminal justice system by the federal government:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any personbe subject for the same offense to be put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Why do we have this privilege to refuse to testify against ourselves when we stand in criminal jeopardy? The privilege originated in England, where the Star Chamber pursued political prosecutions, and ecclesiastical courts ferreted out blasphemers, by administering the oath ex officio, that conducted ideological interrogations under oath, under threat of imprisonment, banishment, and torture. [10] General revulsion with this practice crested after John Lillburne, who had been flogged for refusing to take the oath in the Star Chamber was granted compensation for his injuries. In 1641, the Star Chamber was abolished and administration of the oath ex officio was prohibited.

In Brown v. Walker, [11] the Supreme Court stated:

"So deeply did the iniquities of the ancient system impress themselves upon the minds of the American colonists that the states, with one accord, made a denial of the right to question an accused person a part of their fundamental law, so that a maxim, which in England was a mere rule of evidence, became clothed in this country with the impregnability of a constitutional enactment."

This nobly-phrased exposition is stirring and evocative; nevertheless, it elides an important historical truth -- that common sense and self-preservation were the more likely reasons why the Founding Fathers elevated the privilege against self-incrimination to the level of an impregnable constitutional principle. The American Revolution was a hazardous undertaking by men used to risk, who had reason to put in place a system of government that could not easily be turned into a vehicle for tyranny. As Ben Franklin said, and each one of the Founding Fathers well knew, they all had to "hang together, or hang separately." Having been born in the crucible of defiance, it's no surprise that the law of the land came to embody the Founders' awareness of the importance of being able to have a private life, within which plans deemed seditious or unlawful by the governing authorities might yet be brought to fruition.

The primary champion of the Bill of Rights was John Hancock, "a well known smuggler of molasses, Dutch tea, tobacco, rum and wine among other products." [12] In 1768, Hancock's smuggling vessel, the Liberty, was seized by the British. He was convicted of smuggling, fined £9,000, and forced to forfeit the ship. Hancock, who signed the Declaration of Independence as the President of the Constitutional Congress, proposed the Bill of Rights and pressed for its adoption until it was passed by Congress on September 25, 1789.

Thus, protection of secrets from the prying eyes of government became a mainstay of American jurisprudence. The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights protects the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures," which in practice allows people to possess written plans for revolution, or substances deemed contraband. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that evidence hidden in the mind of an accused person cannot be wrenched from them by torture, threats, or legal compulsion. [13] Finally, the First Amendment protects not only the right to speak, but also the right to refuse to repeat government slogans like the pledge of allegiance, or to engage in compelled religious speech like school prayer. [14]

A Brief Review of Federal Drug Registration Schemes Enacted Under the Guise of Taxation

Federal regulation of psychoactive drugs began with congressional enactment of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. Before that date, cocaine and morphine were common treatments for pain and fatigue, available over the counter in patent medicines, and by prescription. These unregulated substances were widely abused, and federal lawmakers sought to protect the public. However, Congress was unsure of its authority to outlaw drugs by federal law, so it did not make narcotics illegal outright. Rather, the Harrison Act required importers, manufacturers and distributors of opium to register with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, keep records of each transaction, and pay a tax on the drugs. [15]

The DEA's official historyconcedes that the Harrison Act was disguised as a tax law over the "anguished objections" of Daniel Roper, Commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (predecessor to the IRS), "who saw no reason why a tax bureau should ... control the consumption of ... narcotics," in order to "pursue ... a moral end in a way that might otherwise be unconstitutional." [16] The constitutional dodge, that made narcotics possession criminal without proof of criminal intent, merely upon the basis of the failure to have the right paperwork, received approval from the Supreme Court in United States v. Doremus, [17] that pronounced, "If the legislation enacted has some reasonable relation to the exercise of the taxing authority conferred by the Constitution, it cannot be invalidated because of the supposed motives which induced it." [18]

The nation's early fervor to beat the drug habit was implemented through ham-handed enforcement of the Harrison Act -- a tradition that continues to the present day, as mass incarceration has fed the maw of misery while multiplying the number of addicts and overdoses astronomically. The IRS narcotics enforcers closed addiction treatment centers and jailed physicians for prescribing "maintenance doses" to addicts. [19] As the DEA records in its official history, under "the Harrison Act, the Narcotic Division of the Internal Revenue Service closed down state and city narcotics clinics and sent drug violators to federal penitentiaries." [20] This practice was not legally curtailed until the Supreme Court ruled that, since Congress has no authority to regulate the practice of medicine or to achieve moral ends, the Harrison Act could not criminalize a physician’s delivery of “moderate amounts of drugs for self-administration in order to relieve conditions incident to addiction.” [21]

The drive to sober up the nation picked up speed in 1919, when Nebraska became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting "the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors within...the United States." Later that same year, Congress enacted the Volstead Act, that prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages.

The bootlegging industry thrived, however, and enforcement of Prohibition, like the Harrison Act, fell to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, resulting in the bloody gangland struggles made famous in numerous Hollywood films that glamorized both gangsters and the "G Men" who battled them. Moonshining in the hill country of the American south gave way to enormous illegal Canadian distilleries produced vast supplies of whiskey that made their way by rail, ship and truck to the U.S. Midwest. [22] But Prohibition was a short-lived shot in the arm for gangland profiteers -- Congress repealed the 18th Amendment in December 1933. As the clandestine booze business dried up, many criminals who had mastered the arts of producing, smuggling, and dealing contraband turned their hands to the narcotics traffic, which remained illegal after Prohibition's end.

Congress eventually took the burden of narcotics enforcement off the shoulders of the taxing authorities, tasking the Department of Justice with enforcement of the Harrison Act. [23] Thus, by the time Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the newly-established Federal Bureau of Narcotics was already on the hunt for new substances to prohibit, and organized crime was tooled up to expand their business into new fields of unlawful enterprise. The head of the recently-created Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger, looking for new fields of repressive endeavor, turned his eye towards Cannabis Sativa. Anslinger built his propaganda campaign with racist appeals that claimed the "devil weed" was a form of chemical warfare against white virtue, an evidence-free contention that has still not been overcome.

As had been the case with morphine, however, the government did not make the weed illegal outright; rather, it enacted the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (the "MTA"). The DEA explains: "The fear persisted that any federal drug law might be ruled unconstitutional. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was therefore modeled on the Harrison Narcotics Act, as well as on a more recent act restricting gangsters from using machine-guns by requiring them to pay a transfer tax." [24] State legislatures, however, all enacted criminal laws prohibiting possession shortly after passage of the MTA, so the required federal registration became a confession of state law criminal conduct. A successful challenge to the MTA had to wait 35 years, until Dr. Timothy Leary was convicted under the act, and appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court. But first, two important cases involving bookmakers and communists had to be decided.

Marchetti: Bookmakers Successfully Attack the Wagering Act

In 1967, Prof. Robert B. McKay published an influential article on the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in the Supreme Court Review. Professor McKay's article, published just before the Supreme Court's seminal 1968 decision in United States v. Marchetti, [25] articulated key policies that underpin the privilege against self-incrimination: [26]

"The privilege historically goes to the roots of democratic and religious principle. It prevents the debasement of the citizen which would result from compelling him to "accuse" himself before the power of the state. The roots of the privilege are deeper than the rack and the screw used to extort confessions. They go to the nature of a free man and his relationship to the state." [27]

The Marchetti defendant was a bookie who had been convicted of failing to pay the "annual occupational tax" that all persons engaged in the bookmaking business were required to pay under the Wagering Act, and for willfully failing to register as a bookmaker "before engaging in the business of accepting wagers." [28] In Marchetti and two related cases, the Supreme Court dismissed prosecutions for violations of the Wagering Act on Fifth Amendment grounds. Although the asserted purpose of the Wagering Act was to raise revenue, the law provided that registration records could be passed from taxing authorities to criminal prosecutors, which in fact occurred, leading to some convictions for illegal gambling where the sole evidence against the defendant was the stamp that bookmakers were compelled to buy and display in their bookmaking offices. [29]

The Court first distinguished United States v. Sullivan, [30] where the Court overruled a bootlegger's Fifth Amendment objection to filing a tax return on the grounds that it would force him to incriminate himself by disclosing ill-gotten gains on the grounds that all citizens had to answer the questions on the tax form, so the system couldn't be said to single him out for criminal scrutiny. That was an easy decision, requiring no overturning of settled law. But harder work was ahead. Urging the Court to continue to pursue a principled approach to constitutional rights to its logical conclusion, Prof. McKay cogently explained why two Supreme Court decisions, Lewis v. United States, [31] and United States v. Kahriger, [32] had to be overturned based on the reasoning set forth in the Court's 1965 decision in Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board. [33]

The Albertson opinion held that the Communist Party of the United States could not be required to disclose a list of its members over the organization's Fifth Amendment objection, asserted on behalf of its members. [34] The Court had distinguished Sullivan on the grounds that the bootlegger who didn't want to answer questions on the income tax form, was merely being asked "neutral" questions that were "directed to the public at large;" but the Subversive Activities Control Board ("SACB") had focused on the Communist Party as "a highly selective group inherently suspect of criminal activities ... where responses to any of the form's questions ... might involve ... admission of a crucial element of a crime." [35] As a result, the SACB's demand to learn "the organization of which the registrant is a member, his aliases, place and date of birth, a list of offices held in the organization and duties thereof—might be used as evidence in or at least supply investigatory leads to a criminal prosecution." [36] Thus, the Court sustained the Communist Party's refusal to disclose its membership, putting an end to the SACB's entire reason for existence, and saving all of the Party's members from criminal prosecution. [37]

Prof. McKay advised the Court to apply what was good for the Communists to the bookmakers, noting that the doctrine espoused in Lewis and Kahriger was inconsistent with the principles set forth in the Albertson decision: "Kahriger and Lewis appear to permit the requirement of incrimination by payment of taxes and registration for the conduct of criminal activities, a result probably inconsistent with Albertson, which forbade registration that could be used to incriminate." [38] The Court resolved these inconsistencies in Marchetti by following Prof. McKay’s suggestion and overruling Kahriger, in language that made it clear a new day had dawned in Fifth Amendment jurisprudence:

"Prospective registrants [under the Wagering Act] can reasonably expect that registration and payment of the occupational tax will significantly enhance the likelihood of their prosecution for future acts, and that it will readily provide evidence which will facilitate their convictions. Indeed, they can reasonably fear that registration, and acquisition of a wagering tax stamp, may serve as decisive evidence that they have in fact subsequently violated state gambling prohibitions." [39]

Dr. Leary Overturns the Marihuana Tax Act

A few days after the Supreme Court delivered the Albertson opinion, on December 22, 1965, Dr. Timothy Leary was arrested for possession of a small amount of cannabis at the Mexican border. Prosecuted in Laredo, Texas, he was convicted of violation of the Marihuana Tax Act ("MTA") and two other controlled substance charges, and sentenced to thirty years in prison. [40] Three years later, on December 11, 1968, Dr. Leary's lawyers stood in front of the Supreme Court to argue that, under Marchetti, decided earlier that same year on January 29, 1968, the MTA could not pass Fifth Amendment scrutiny. The MTA required dealers in cannabis to register with the IRS and pay a yearly fee, and required anyone wishing to acquire cannabis to buy it using a government form that stated their name and address, and the quantity of cannabis they had bought. [41] Seeking to overturn the MTA conviction, Leary argued that punishing him for not complying with the MTA's self-disclosure requirements would legitimate a form of compelled self-incrimination.

Justice Harlan, who had written the Marchetti opinion, agreed with Dr. Leary's position:

"[Dr. Leary] asserts the right not to be criminally liable for one's previous failure to obey a statute which required an incriminatory act. *** We conclude that petitioner's invocation of the privilege was proper and that it should have provided a full defense to the third count of the indictment. Accordingly, we reverse ...." [42]

The analysis in Leary was straightforward. Like the Wagering Act, the Court held that the MTA compelled Dr. Leary to "expose himself to a real and appreciable risk of self-incrimination [requiring him] to identify himself as a transferee of marijuana ... who had not registered [and further directed] that this information be conveyed by the Internal Revenue Service to state and local law enforcement...." [43] Fundamental to Dr. Leary's success before the Supreme Court was his "proper invocation" of the privilege -- an invocation that nullified what would otherwise have been a 30 year stretch in prison.

To be clear, the result in Leary did not mean that the federal or state government cannot tax illegal activity -- counterintuitive though it may seem, taxing illegal conduct was not ruled unconstitutional; thus, several states have enacted laws that impose taxes on criminal activity and the proceeds of crime. [44] What Marchetti and Leary teach us is simply that, whenever the government directs the members of a highly selective group inherently suspect of criminal activities to disclose their identities and the nature of the conduct that brings them into suspicion, any member of that group, or the group itself on behalf of its members, can refuse to make those disclosures by invoking the Fifth Amendment, and thus avoid compelled self-incrimination.

Scrutinizing the Guidance for Fifth Amendment Hazards

Now that we have reviewed how Albertson, Marchetti and Leary empowered the targets of registration regimes to assert valid objections under the Fifth Amendment, let's analyze the Guidance to determine whether it is objectionable. Remember, as we go through these objections, that to be valid, they must be framed based on the right of a psychedelic church to assert the Fifth Amendment on behalf of its members, as the Communist Party did on behalf of its members, because as a “collective entity,” a church may not assert the privilege against self-incrimination. (See Note 34.) For the sake of clarity, we phrase our inquiry in question and answer form.

The central directive of the Guidance is set forth in paragraph 2, entitled Contents of Petition, that requires the following disclosures: [45]

"(1) the nature of the religion (e.g., its history, belief system, structure, practice, membership policies, rituals, holidays, organization, leadership, etc.); (2) each specific religious practice that involves the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importation, exportation, use or possession of a controlled substance; (3) the specific controlled substance that the party wishes to use; and (4) the amounts, conditions, and locations of its anticipated manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importation, exportation, use or possession."

(Emphasis added.)

Paragraph 3 requires a PRE to be signed by "the petitioner" under penalty of perjury. Paragraph 4 states a PRE that does not conform to the Guidance will not be accepted for filing. Paragraph 5 provides that the DEA may demand "additional documents or written statements of facts ... as the DEA deems necessary," to which the applicant must respond within 60 days, or "the petition will be considered to be withdrawn." Also of relevance is paragraph 7, that forbids applicants engaging in "any activity prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act or its regulations unless the petition has been granted and the petitioner has applied for and received a DEA Certificate of Registration." [46] Finally, paragraph 9 provides that nothing in the Guidance "shall be construed as authorizing or permitting any party to take any action" that is at variance with State or Federal laws, and that compliance with the Guidance does not imply "compliance with other Federal or State laws unless expressly provided in such other laws."

First, can the Fifth Amendment can be invoked in the context of an administrative proceeding, such as the exemption procedure described by the Guidance?

Answer: Yes. To quote from Professor McKay's article: "[N]o person may be compelled to answer incriminating questions, whether before a court, an administrative agency, or a legislative investigating committee." [47]

Second, is invocation of the Fifth Amendment necessary to secure protection from self-incrimination?

Answer: Yes. The Fifth Amendment is not "self-executing," and must be invoked; otherwise, its protections will be waived. [48]

Third, let us assume that the DEA contends that, since no church or individual is "required" to submit a PRE to the DEA, the disclosures required by the Guidance are "voluntary," and therefore unobjectionable. Is this argument correct?

Answer: No. Fifth Amendment protections are not abrogated by registration schemes that purport to be voluntary, when the only "choice" to be made is to refrain from engaging in the criminally proscribed activity that the registration scheme seeks to uncover by compelled disclosures. In Marchetti, the high Court overruled the holding in Lewis that "even if the required disclosures might prove incriminating, the gambler need not register or pay the occupational tax if only he elects to cease, or never to begin, gambling." The Court explained its position in the following language:

"[If] an inference of antecedent choice were alone enough to abrogate the privilege's protection, it would ... ultimately license widespread erosion of the privilege through 'ingeniously drawn legislation.'" ... We cannot agree that the constitutional privilege is meaningfully waived merely because those 'inherently suspect of criminal activities' have been commanded either to cease wagering or to provide information incriminating to themselves, and have ultimately elected to do neither." [49]

Accordingly, the Supreme Court has refuted the argument that the Fifth Amendment provides no protection because members of psychedelic churches could simply "elect to cease, or never begin" consuming controlled substances as their communion sacrament. Further, the fallacious nature of the "choice" argument is more evident when scrutinized in the context of the Guidance, because while no one has a constitutional "right to gamble," [50] they do have a constitutional right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment, and that includes the right to consume a psychedelic sacrament. [51] The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that one should not be forced to bargain away one right in order to exercise the Fifth Amendment right to refuse to make compelled disclosure of private matters. In the most often-cited example, the Court held that the Fifth Amendment was violated when the New York Bar Association disbarred a lawyer for invoking the Fifth Amendment when served with a subpoena from the Bar demanding production of records that would disclose how he handled funds in contingent-fee cases. [52]

The Court reversed the order of disbarment, holding that the Fifth Amendment forbids "the imposition of any sanction which makes the assertion of the Fifth Amendment privilege 'costly,'" and that "threat of disbarment and the loss of professional standing, professional reputation, and of livelihood are powerful forms of compulsion to make a lawyer relinquish the privilege." [53] In a more recent case, the Court held a New York law unconstitutional that required the cancellation of municipal contracts and disqualification from future municipal contracting for five years, whenever the contractors, in this case two architects, refused to provide testimony in a state inquiry. [54] Similarly, church members should not be required to forego claiming their constitutional right to partake in psychedelic communion, free of the risk of prosecution, by conditioning that right on exposing church leaders and other members to the risk of prosecution.

Fourth, let us consider another argument the government has made in defense of past registration regimes -- that the Guidance doesn't ask for disclosure of past acts, for which someone could be prosecuted, but only "future acts," hypothetical in nature. Combined with the requirement of paragraph 7 of the Guidance, that requires abstention from the use of controlled substances until the PRE is approved, the following argument could be made: "Since the DEA is not asking for any information about controlled substances the applicant’s members have previously possessed, manufactured, or distributed, and since the applicant’s members are not possessing, manufacturing or distributing any controlled substances while the PRE is pending, the required disclosures will not lead to criminal prosecution." Is this argument correct?

Answer: No. Marchetti held that compelled disclosure of a future intent to engage in gambling "increases the likelihood that any past or present gambling offenses will be discovered and successfully prosecuted" and "obliges even a prospective gambler to accuse himself of conspiracy to violate" state and federal gambling laws. [55] Overruling contrary precedents, the Court held that "the central standard for the privilege's application [is] whether the claimant is confronted by substantial ... hazards of incrimination," a principle that "does not permit the rigid chronological distinction adopted in Kahriger and Lewis." [56] By requiring disclosures of the identities of church leaders, the controlled substances that the church "wishes" to manufacture, possess and distribute, and the times and places where these actions will be taken, the Guidance exposes the identified members of churches that submit a PRE to the risk that past offenses will be investigated, discovered, and prosecuted, and compels confession of an intent to engage in a conspiracy to violate the CSA. Accordingly, the prospective phrasing of the disclosures required by the Guidance does not insulate it from Fifth Amendment objection.

Fifth, does requirement that applicant churches disclose the "organization" and "leadership" of the church violate the Fifth Amendment?

Answer: Yes. The disclosure of the identity of any person in conjunction with the disclosure of the intent to engage in conduct that would be criminal, such as possession, manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance, is precisely the type of disclosure that subjects one to "substantial hazards of incrimination." Although leaders and members of the Daime disclosed their identities to the Oregon District Court in their litigation with the DEA when they submitted declarations in support of their claims, the risks of disclosure were mitigated by the pendency of the litigation itself. In the UDV case, the church sought and obtained a Preliminary Injunction that precluded the DEA from engaging in prosecutorial activities during the pendency of the case. In future litigation, thought should be given to how to provide the courts with evidence necessary to adjudicate the claim of exemption without waiving the Fifth Amendment rights of leaders and members. Attorneys for prospective psychedelic churches should remember that, in Albertson, the entire battle was over whether the Communist Party could be required to disclose its membership, and as we noted in that discussion, the Party successfully asserted the privilege on behalf of its members. [57]

Sixth, does the requirement to disclose the "membership policies" of the church violate the Fifth Amendment?

Answer: No. Membership (the people in an organization) and membership policies (the policies that members have to follow) are not the same, and the latter does not carry with it the same risk of incrimination that actual names of people do. The membership policies of the UDV and the Santo Daime were a focus of inquiry in the court proceedings that resulted in their receipt of a RFRA exemption to use Ayahuasca as a sacrament. For example, in the case of the Daime, the Oregon District Court Judge considered whether children had been given psychedelic doses of Ayahuasca, whether the church members consumed controlled substances other than Ayahuasca, whether prospective church members were screened for mental and physical illness, and whether the ceremonies had deleterious effects on the health of members. [58]

Seventh, does the requirement to disclose the controlled substance a church intends to use as a sacrament violate the Fifth Amendment?

Answer: No. Standing alone, the requirement to disclose which controlled substance a church intends to use as a sacrament would likely not violate the Fifth Amendment, and would be seen as a necessary disclosure to allow the regulatory system to function. In the opinion of this author, disclosure of the sacramental controlled substance, without disclosing the identity of the persons who will possess, manufacture or distribute it, or the locations where the controlled substance is kept, would not appear to expose anyone to a "substantial hazard of incrimination."

Eighth, does the requirement to disclose where the sacramental controlled substance will be manufactured, possessed, and distributed violate the Fifth Amendment?

Answer: Yes. In Marchetti, disclosure of the addresses where gambling would be conducted was required by the Wagering Act, as was the duty to post the stamp issued by the IRS on the premises, and these were two elements that the Court held exposed the registrants to the risk of prosecution. Likewise, in Leary, the MTA requirement to disclose the addresses of sellers and buyers of cannabis were found to give rise to well-founded fears of prosecution. In each case, of course, the statutes specifically provided that the registrant's identity and address would be provided to prosecutors and law enforcement upon request and payment of a fee for copying the records. In the Guidance, there is no such provision; however, neither does the Guidance prohibit the transfer of a PRE, or the material contained therein, to the enforcement arm of the DEA. Further, paragraph 9 specifically warns applicants that submission of a PRE provides no protections from any provisions of state or federal law. Because the DEA is charged with enforcement of the CSA, in the absence of affirmative protections to prevent the transfer of the information to the DEA's own enforcement division or state and municipal law enforcement, the risk of prosecution is present, and cannot be removed by an unwarranted assumption that the DEA would not open an investigation while or after evaluating the PRE, or transfer the information to prosecutors and police.

Ninth, is paragraph 4, providing that any PRE that fails to meet the requirements of the Guidance will be rejected, objectionable under the Fifth Amendment?

Answer: The answer is unclear, and highlights the risks of proceeding with a PRE submission without first seeking to remedy the objectionable features of the Guidance. As previously discussed, church members should not be penalized for asserting their rights to protect their Fifth Amendment rights by losing their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. [59] However, some cases hold that an applicant for a license or privilege from the government, such as an officer's commission from the armed forces, or a radio license from the FCC, may be required to answer questions that are relevant to the issuance of the commission or license, or suffer the rejection of their claim, notwithstanding their assertion of a Fifth Amendment objection. [60] In the two cases cited in the footnote, the question was whether the prospective officer or radio station licensee had ever been a member of the Communist Party, a matter that went to the fitness of these individuals to receive the commission or license, and did not implicate the loss of any constitutional right such as the right to free exercise of religion. Thus, if a PRE is submitted without any invocation of the Fifth Amendment or other complaint regarding the unconstitutionality of the Guidance requirements, these precedents would likely result in a reviewing court affirming the DEA's rejection of the PRE for noncompliance with the Guidance.

Tenth, what are the Fifth Amendment implications of a DEA demand for additional information that the agency “deems necessary to determine whether the petition will be granted,” under paragraph 5?

Answer: Although this question cannot be answered “yes” or “no,” we can identify several important Fifth Amendment concerns.

First, would the Fifth Amendment objection be waived, based on the mere filing of a PRE? [61] Absent a Fifth Amendment objection presented in the original PRE, waiver might be inferred. In Leary, the Supreme Court determined that Dr. Leary had not waived his right to object to the MTA’s Fifth Amendment defects by testifying “at trial that he had indeed failed to comply with the statute [because the testimony] was perfectly consistent with the claim that the omission was excused by the privilege.” [62] However, Justice Harlan’s answer was guarded when the government argued that Dr. Leary had also testified “that his noncompliance was motivated, at least in part, by his conviction that the Act imposed an illegal tax upon religion or upon the ‘pursuit of knowledge.’" [63] Justice Harlan deflected this argument on the grounds that “other parts of [his] testimony clearly indicate that he also was influenced by an apprehension that by trying to pay the tax he might incriminate himself [and thus the Court could not say] that petitioner's testimony, taken as a whole, amounted to a waiver of the privilege.” [64]

Second, assuming the objection was not waived by improvident disclosures in the PRE, could objection to the demand for additional information provide the basis for an appeal of the DEA’s decision to treat the application as “withdrawn”? As noted above, the Orloff and Blumenthal cases cited in note 60 concede that an administrative agency may properly refuse to grant a license to an applicant who refuses to provide requested information based on the Fifth Amendment. However, no court has yet considered the precise point that would be presented if the DEA made an unreasonable demand for unnecessary information that would tend to expose church members to the risk of prosecution, and rejected a PRE when the applicant failed to provide it.

Third, again assuming no prior waiver, could an applicant properly assert the Fifth Amendment to refuse a response to an administrative subpoena demanding information that a PRE applicant had refused to provide in response to a paragraph 5 demand? The objection would certainly be proper, because Fifth Amendment privilege "can be asserted in any proceeding, civil or criminal, administrative or judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory [to avoid making] disclosures which the witness reasonably believes could be used in a criminal prosecution or could lead to other evidence that might be so used." [65] This answer is given with the substantial caveat that, since submitting a PRE is unquestionably a foray into the lion’s mouth without promises of protection, should the DEA choose to exercise its subpoena powers, in the event that the issues are joined before a District Court, everything the applicant voluntarily disclosed in the PRE would be aggressively used against the applicant in an effort to find a waiver.

Eleventh, does the requirement that a PRE be filed under penalty of perjury present a risk of self-incrimination?

Answer: Yes. Only a human being can possess the personal knowledge necessary to qualify as a witness or sign a statement under penalty of perjury. [66] A person commits perjury “if she gives false testimony concerning a material matter with the willful intent to provide false testimony, rather than as a result of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory.” [67] Making a false statement in a PRE would violate 18 USC § 1001, that prohibits a person from making “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” in “any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive… branch of the Government.” The maximum prison sentence for a violation of Section 1001 is five years. As we have discussed in various contexts, the sine qua non of self-incrimination is the submission of a document to the government that identifies a person as complicit in the commission of criminal acts under state or federal law. Because the Guidance requires that a properly-prepared PRE be a statement under penalty of perjury that identifies the controlled substances the church uses, and the places and times where the substances are kept and distributed, the person who signs the PRE will have to identify him or herself as involved in the manufacturing and distribution of controlled substances.

Further, the person who signs the application will be placed at risk of being charged with perjury if other church members violate the requirement of paragraph 7 of the Guidance that prohibits the applicant church from engaging "any activity prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act or its regulations unless the petition has been granted and the petitioner has applied for and received a DEA Certificate of Registration.” Even if the PRE does not contain an express promise to comply with paragraph 7, such a promise could be inferred from the submission of the PRE, and the necessary representation by the applicant that the PRE complies with the Guidance. To avoid subjecting the signer of a PRE to the risk of a perjury charge, all members of the applicant church would have to refrain from using a controlled substance as its sacrament for an indefinite period of time, while the DEA reached its decision. The final irony of the Guidance procedure is that, by refraining from using a controlled substance as a sacrament in its religious services, an applicant church undercuts the evidence most fundamental to proving its claim under RFRA -- that psychedelic communion constitutes the essence of its religious path, and that threatening church members with criminal sanctions for partaking of their psychedelic sacrament substantially burdens their right to the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. [68]

Twelfth, could the Fifth Amendment defects identified above be remedied by making appropriate changes to the Guidance to protect the privilege against self-incrimination?

Answer: Yes. In the author's opinion, the Fifth Amendment defects described above would be cured if the DEA adopted enforceable administrative rules to guarantee that information in a PRE identifying the leadership or members of the church, and the location where controlled substances are manufactured, possessed or distributed, would (a) be used only by the officials specifically charged with evaluating RFEs, and (b) would not be provided to the enforcement division of the DEA, to any other law enforcement entity, government agency. or private contractor, and (c) that the information provided in a PRE would be inadmissible in any criminal prosecution against the church leaders and members identified in the PRE, and (d) that church leaders and members identified in the PRE would be immune from prosecution for any acts affirmatively disclosed in the PRE. [69] Finally, the proscription against use of the controlled substance as communion sacrament, that pits the self-interest of the person who signs the PRE against the free exercise rights of the applicant church and its members, must be eliminated.


Absent the immunity protections described above, submitting a PRE would expose church members to substantial risks of self-incrimination, and cautious attorneys will warn their clients of those risks before submitting a PRE on their behalf. In order to obtain the necessary protections, psychedelic churches would be wise to take a lesson from the Albertson plaintiffs, and act on behalf of their members to present Fifth Amendment and other appropriate constitutional objections to the DEA [70] with a request to initiate a rulemaking procedure with an opportunity for comment from the affected churches. If the DEA declines to revise the Guidance and enact rules that will protect the constitutional rights of churches that wish to use psychedelic controlled substances as religious sacraments without fear of prosecution, the churches could initiate litigation to secure a decree that, because the Guidance fails to respect the religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment and RFRA, and forces church members to engage in an unconstitutional tradeoff of their right to be free of compelled self-incrimination in order to avail themselves of their right to free exercise of their chosen religious practices, the Guidance therefore infringes their constitutional rights, and lacks the force of law.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:33 pm

Part 2 of 2



1. Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, 546 US 418, (2006).

2. O Centro, 546 US at 423.

3. Employment Division, Dept. Of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 US 872 (1990).As Justice Blackmun, Brennan and Marshall, made clear in their dissenting opinion, the Smith case itself was a classic piece of judicial legerdemain by the late Justice Scalia that "effectuate[d] a wholesale overturning of settled law concerning the Religion Clauses of our Constitution." Smith, 494 US at 909. RFRA's enactment revitalized a number of important Free Exercise cases, as the UDV opinion noted: "RFRA expressly adopted the compelling interest test "as set forth in Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) and Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).""

4. O Centro, 546 US at 424 (ellipses).

5. First, the Court found that the Government's interest in maintaining a "closed regulatory system" was not a "compelling interest" within the meaning of RFRA. Second, the Court held that the Government's asserted interested in complying with the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, did not rise to the level of a compelling interest. "[ i]invocation of such general interests, standing alone, is not enough." O Centro, id. at 438.

6. United States v. Christie, 825 F.3d 1048, 1060-1061 (2016), quoting O Centro, 546 U.S. at 435-36, 126 S.Ct. 1211 (emphasis added).

7. The phrases "wishes to use," and "anticipated" are set off in quotes because, as we will discuss later, by putting the use of controlled substances in the future tense, the DEA intends these phrases to have specific legal meaning.

8. Only two applications for exemption have been granted -- a fact of which the author is advised anecdotally, without review of any documentation to support the fact. The author has been advised that these exemptions were granted by the DEA to two branches of the Santo Daime Church, after its Oregon branch secured freedom from the risk of prosecution in CHLQ v. Mukasey, 615 F.Supp.2d 1210 (2006). For those with PACER access, the records of [/i]CHLQ v. Mukasey[/i] are a valuable trove of knowledge regarding the process of litigating a RFRA civil lawsuit to judgment.

9. The Fifth Amendment also requires that felonies be charged by a grand jury, provides protection against "double jeopardy," and establishes the right of due process in federal criminal proceedings.

10. The word "subpoena" derives from the Latin subpoena, a combination of sub (under) and poena (penalty). Merriam Webster ... ena#note-1

11. Brown v. Walker, 161 US 591, 596-597 (1896).

12. ... ty-affair/. Based on his experience in losing his property and having his life and freedom at risk, Hancock’s interests were perhaps most accurately described by the Supreme Court in Ullman v. United States, 350 US 422, 428 (1956): “Having had much experience with a tendency in human nature to abuse power, the Founders sought to close the doors against like future abuses by law-enforcing agencies.”

13. "Fourth and Fifth Amendment law are the traditional guardians of a particular kind of individual privacy--the ability to keep secrets from the government." William J. Stuntz, The Substantive Origins of Criminal Procedure, Yale Law Journal, Vol.105, page 394 (1995).

14. West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 US 624 (1943); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 US 38 (1985).

15. Drug Enforcement in the United States: History, Policy and Trends, Congressional Research Service, Lisa N. Sacco (October 2, 2014), Pg. 3.

16. The Early Years, page 14. ... 281%29.pdf

17. United States v. Doremus, 249 US 86 (1919).

18. Id. at 93.

19. “Courts and law enforcement, embedded in the culture of prohibition, construed the language to prohibit maintenance prescriptions for those suffering from addiction.” K.J. Dineen and J.M. Dubois, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Can Physicians Prescribe Opioids to Treat Pain Adequately While Avoiding Legal Sanction? Am J Law Med. 2016 ; 42(1): 7–52. at note 158, citing King, Rufus G. The Narcotics Bureau and the Harrison Act: Jailing the Healers and the Sick. 1953; 736:736–38.62 Yale L. J.

20. Id. at page 3. <> See also, United States v. Jin Fuey Moy, 241 US 394 (1916).

21. United States v. Linder, 268 US 5, 22 (1925).

22. Prohibition in US Led to Exciting Times in Canada, Jan., 2, 2015, Vancouver Sun ... story.html. Rum-running in Windsor, Ontario ... r,_Ontario Moose Jaw Tunnels Reveal Dark Tales of Canada's Past, March 23, 2018, The Globe and Mail ... le4158935/

23. Drug Enforcement in the United States, Sacco, Pg. 3 at note 19.

24. The Early Years, page 19. ... 281%29.pdf

25. Marchetti v. United States, 390 US 39 (1968).

26. "'[T]he two justifications for the fifth amendment privilege are "(1) preservation of official morality, and (2) preservation of individual privacy * * *' " United States v. Campos-Serrano, 430 F. 2d 173, 177, (7th Cir. 1970), quoting McKay, Self-Incrimination and the New Privacy, The Supreme Court Review, Vol. 1967 (1967).

27. McKay, Self-Incrimination and the New Privacy, at 210 (emphasis added), citing United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 261 (1967). The Supreme Court Review, Vol. 1967 (1967), pp. 193-232

28. Bookmakers had to fills out IRS forms stating their residence and business addresses, and purchase a stamp that they were "obliged to post ... 'conspicuously' in their principal places of business." They were also required to "preserve daily records indicating the gross amount of wagers" and "permit inspection of their books of account." The IRS was required to provide a list of all registered bookies "upon request to any state or local prosecuting officer." Finally, the law provided that payment of the taxes did not provide any exemption from criminal sanction "provided by a law of the United States or of any State" for engaging in bookmaking.26 USC Sec. 4412.

29. "Evidence of the possession of a federal wagering tax stamp, or of payment of the wagering taxes, has often been admitted at trial in state and federal prosecutions for gambling offenses." Marchetti, 390 US at 47, note 7, citing United States v. Zizzo, 338 F.2d 577 (7th Cir. 1964) and seven other cases where convictions for illegal gambling were based on evidence of registration.

30. United States v. Sullivan, 274 US 259 (1927).

31. Lewis v. United States, 348 US 419 (1955).

32. United States v. Kahriger, 345 US 22 (1953).

33. Albertson v. Subversive Activities Control Board, 382 US 70 (1965) (emphasis added).

34. Albertson v. SACB, 382 US at 78. A corporation or other “collective entity” may not assert the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Braswell v. United States, 487 US 99, 105 (1988).

35. Id., 382 US at 79.

36. Id., 382 US at 78.

37. Id., 382 US at 80.

38. McKay, Self-Incrimination and the New Privacy, pp. 205.

39. United States v. Marchetti, 390 US at 55 (emphasis added).

40. Leary Gets 30 Years on Marijuana Charge, The Harvard Crimson, March 12, 1966.

41. "The [MTA] imposes a tax on transfers of marihuana [and] an occupational tax upon those who deal in the drug, [requiring] all persons who "deal in" marihuana [to pay] an annual occupational tax. *** The first of the transfer tax provisions, 26 U. S. C. § 4741, imposes a tax "upon all transfers of marihuana which are required by section 4742 to be carried out in pursuance of written order forms." Section 4741 further provides that on transfers to persons registered under § 4753 the tax is $1 per ounce, while on transfers to persons not so registered the tax is $100 per ounce. The tax is required to be paid by the transferee "at the time of securing each order form." **** Another statutory provision, 26 U. S. C. § 4773, assures that the information contained in the order form will be available to law enforcement officials. *** Finally, 26 U. S. C. § 4744 (a) makes it unlawful for a transferee required to pay the § 4741 (a) transfer tax either to acquire marihuana without having paid the tax or to transport, conceal, or facilitate the transportation or concealment of, any marihuana so acquired." Leary v. United States, 395 US 6 (1969).

42. Leary v. United States, 395 US at 29.

43. Id., 395 US at 18.

44. Note: Taxation of Illegal Narcotics: A Violation of Fifth Amendment Rights or an Innovative Tool in the War Against Drugs? 11 St. John's J.L.Comm.

45. The provisions of ¶2 are mandatory, as ¶4 states, "Petitions that do not conform to this guidance will not generally be accepted for filing."

46. Paragraph 7 does not appear to invade the Fifth Amendment so much as it does the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment, by requiring the cessation of essential religious practices for an undefined period. The consequences of noncompliance are obvious -- the PRE can be rejected. Alternatively if the PRE falsely swears that the applicant has ceased using a controlled substance sacrament, the signer could be indicted for perjury under paragraph 3. Finally, if the applicant does in fact cease using the controlled substance sacrament, or substitutes a non-controlled substance (for example, by using a "vine-only-Ayahuasca" that contains no dimethyltryptamine) the applicant will thereby undermine its claim that use of Ayahuasca made with dimethyltryptamine is "essential" to its religious practice. The Guidance thus contains more pitfalls than the risks of self-incrimination.

47. McKay, Self-Incrimination and the New Privacy, at 195, citing Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 195-96 (1957); Bart v. United States, 349 U.S. 219 (1955), and other precedents. Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441, 444-445 (1972); Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U.S. 70, 77 (1973).

48. Minnesota v. Murphy, 465 US 420, 425 (1984); accord, People v. Garcia, 224 Cal.App.4th 1283, 1290 (2014)("A privilege that is not 'self-executing' applies only where it has been invoked.")

49. Marchetti v. United States, 390 US at 52; accord, Schneckloth v. Bustamante, 412 US 218, 237, n. 18 (1973) ("We reasoned that there could be no choice when the gambler was faced with the alternative of giving up gambling or providing incriminatory information.").

50. "There is, the Court said, 'no constitutional right to gamble.'" Marchetti, 390 US at 51, quoting Lewis v. United States, 348 US at 423. Marchetti v. United States, 390 US at 52; accord, Schneckloth v. Bustamante, 412 US 218, 237, n. 18 (1973)("We reasoned that there could be no choice when the gambler was faced with the alternative of giving up gambling or providing incriminatory information.").

51. O Centro, 546 US at 423.

52. Spevack v. Klein, 385 US 511, 517 (1967).

53. Id., 385 US at 516.

54. Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 US 70 (1973).

55. Marchetti v. United States, 390 US at 53.

56. Marchetti v. United States, 390 US at 54.

57. Lawyers may also want to consider the possibility of pursuing class action litigation on behalf of churches acting on behalf of their membership to obtain relief from the Fifth Amendment incursions presented by the Guidance, and perhaps for the purpose of seeking RFRA exemptions for a class of members who meet the requisites of individual devotion to a faith that requires the use of a sacramental psychedelic, but are not members of any organized church. While a discussion of class action procedure is clearly beyond the scope of this article, future research into the topic should be conducted.

58. CHLQ v. Mukasey, 615 F.Supp.2d at 1218.

59. “[A] person may not be compelled to choose between the exercise of a First Amendment right and participation in an otherwise available public program.” Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 US 707, 716 (1981).

60. Orloff v. Willoughby, 345 US 83 (1953); Blumenthal v. FCC, 318 F.2d 276 (D.C. Cir. 1963).

61. Although the Guidance indicates that failure to provide additional information requested pursuant to paragraph 5 within 60 days will result in the DEA “considering the petition to be withdrawn,” this provides an astute practitioner with no certainty that this will be the end of the matter. The Guidance provides no protections from information-sharing with the DEA’s enforcement division, and paragraph 9 provides no protection from “other laws;” thus, if seized with curiosity, the DEA would be free to issue a subpoena for the requested information. Presented with an administrative subpoena from the DEA, and absent a valid Fifth Amendment objection, judicial review would likely be fruitless, because “the Fourth Amendment requires only that a subpoena be sufficiently limited in scope, relevant in purpose, and specific in directive so that compliance will not be unreasonably burdensome.” See, United States v. Utah Department of Commerce, Case No. 2:16-cv-611-DN-DBP, Docket # 82 (Utah, July 27, 2017), quoting Becker v. Kroll, 494 F.3d 904, 916 (10th Cir. 2007).

62. Leary v. United States, 395 US at 28.

63. Leary v. United States, 395 US at 29.

64. Leary v. United States, 395 US at 29.

65. Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441, 444-445 (1972); Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U.S. 70, 77 (1973) (Fifth Amendment "not only protects the individual against being involuntarily called as a witness against himself in a criminal prosecution but also privileges him not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answer might incriminate him in future proceedings.")

66. In re Dole Food Co, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, 2015 WL 832501 (Del. Chancery Ct. February 19, 2015).

67. United States v. Dunnigan, 507 US 87, 94 (1993).

68. “A substantial burden must be more than an ‘inconvenience.’" Guam v. Guerrero, at id., quoting Worldwide Church of God v. Phila. Church of God, Inc., 227F.3d 1110, 1121 (9th Cir. 2000). A law imposes a "substantial burden" on the practice of religion: "when individuals are ... coerced to act contrary to their religious beliefs by the threat of civil or criminal sanctions." Navajo Nation v. US Forest Svc., 535 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 2763 (2009). "[T]he substantial burden test focuses on the extent of governmental compulsion involved." (AG's Memo, 13th Principle, Exhibit J, p. 4.) “A statute burdens the free exercise of religion if it ‘put[s] substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs,’" including when, if enforced, it "results in the choice to the individual of either abandoning his religious principle or facing criminal prosecution.’" Guam v. Guerrero, 290 F.3d 1210, 1222 (9th Cir. 2002), quoting Thomas v. Review Bd. of Ind. Employment Sec. Div.,450 U.S. 707, 718, 101 S.Ct. 1425, 67 L.Ed.2d 624 (1981) and Braunfeld v. Brown, 366 U.S. 599, 605, 81 S.Ct. 1144, 6 L.Ed.2d 563 (1961).

69. "Once the danger of incrimination has been removed, however, as by a sufficient grant of immunity, the testimony or documents can no longer be withheld." McKay, Self Incrimination and the New Privacy, at 196, citing Ullmann v. United States, 350 U.S. 422 (1956).

70. The First Amendment also protects against compelled self-disclosure of internal church information and documents under both the Free Exercise and Entanglement Clauses; however, a discussion of these authorities must wait to be addressed in a future article.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:46 pm

Prohibition by Another Name: A Summary Critique of the DEA’s Guidance for Submitting Petitions for Religious Exemptions from the Controlled Substances Act
by Charles Carreon [1]
May 17, 2019



Ten Years of Stasis Under the DEA’s “Guidance”

In 2009, the DEA published its "Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act Pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (the "Guidance"). In ten years, few Petitions For Exemption (“PREs”) have been filed, and none have been granted, putting legal status out of reach for virtually all Psychedelic Churches unwilling or unable to file a District Court lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). The net effect of the Guidance may fairly be said to be prohibition by another name. The purpose of this article is to look at the constitutional defects of the Guidance, and devise a way beyond the present gridlocked situation.

What the Guidance Requires

Paragraph 2 of the Guidance, entitled Contents of Petition, requires the following disclosures, that pursuant to paragraph 4 are mandatory:

"(1) the nature of the religion (e.g., its history, belief system, structure, practice, membership policies, rituals, holidays, organization, leadership, etc.); (2) each specific religious practice that involves the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importation, exportation, use or possession of a controlled substance; (3) the specific controlled substance that the party wishes to use; and (4) the amounts, conditions, and locations of its anticipated manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importation, exportation, use or possession."

(Emphasis added.)

Paragraph 3 requires a PRE to be submitted under penalty of perjury, and paragraph 5 gives the DEA an unlimited right to ask for more information, that must be provided within 60 days, or the PRE will be deemed “withdrawn.” Under paragraph 7, a Psychedelic Church that submits a PRE must promise that its members will refrain from consuming controlled substances until the DEA issues a certificate of exemption.

A List of Legal Risks Arising from Submitting a PRE

This list enumerates constitutional defects in the Guidance based on legal analysis with citations to precedent to be found in two articles by the author: The DEA's Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act under RFRA: Door to Religious Freedom or Fifth Amendment Trap for the Unwary? [2] and Be Careful What You Wish For – The Peril of Regulated Status for Psychedelic Churches. [3] This list is provided with the usual caveat that laypersons should not rely on the list as “legal advice,” and should obtain formal advice from legal counsel before issuing statements or taking official actions.

1. Self-Incrimination: The statements in the PRE itself could provide probable cause to arrest the individual who signed the PRE, and to issue search warrants of the places where sacramental controlled substances are kept or distributed. The PRE would provide a roadmap for prosecution of church members for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. At trial for violating the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), the PRE could be admitted to impeach contrary testimony denying guilt by the person who signed the PRE or church members charged as co-conspirators.

2. Possible Prosecution or Investigative Scrutiny from Law Enforcement: The Supreme Court invalidated the “Marijuana Tax Act” and the “Wagering Act” because they required registrants to disclose incriminating information to the IRS that was to be shared with law enforcement. Even though the Guidance doesn’t say that all of the incriminating information in the PRE will be passed to law enforcement, it doesn’t have to -- the DEA is law enforcement. Thus, the Guidance violates the Fifth Amendment rights of church members.

3. Suspension of the Right to Partake of the Sacrament: Paragraph 7 commits all church members to voluntarily forswear taking any sacrament that is a controlled substance. This restriction impinges upon the right of free exercise as much as does the CSA, and forces a church to trade off the free exercise rights of its members for the hope of attaining legal status. Ironically, by not using its sacramental controlled substance for an extended period of time, an applicant church undercuts its contention that psychedelic communion is essential to its religious path, and that laws forbidding use of the sacrament substantially burden its right to free exercise of religion.

4. Risk of Perjury: Someone must sign the PRE under penalty of perjury, because an organization cannot take the oath. Making a false statement in a PRE would violate 18 USC § 1001, that establishes a five-year maximum sentence for making a false statement in a federal proceeding. Perjury charges could be premised on material omissions, or if some members of the church failed to keep the promise required by paragraph 7 to abstain from taking the psychedelic sacrament.

5. Unlimited Scope of Requests for Further Information: Paragraph 5 gives the DEA carte blanche to request any additional information, at any time after submission of the PRE, from an applicant church. Several precedents hold that a government agency can refuse to grant a license to an applicant that refuses to provide requested information, a result that is not barred by the Fifth Amendment. Thus, paragraph 5 provides a foolproof pretext for the DEA to refuse to grant a PRE to a Psychedelic Church simply by requesting additional incriminating information.

6. No Protection from Prosecution Under State Law Despite Grant of PRE: Paragraph 9 states that “compliance with these guidelines shall not be construed as compliance with other Federal or State laws unless expressly provided in such other laws.” Every state in the union has adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (“UCSA”), that mirrors the CSA in virtually all respects; thus if a drug is in Schedule I in the CSA, it will be in Schedule I in every state. Although the goal of the UCSA is uniformity between federal and state law, this apparently applies only to legal proscriptions, and not to exemptions. Thus, without changes in federal and state law to recognize a uniform state exemption based on the DEA’s grant of a PRE, all Psychedelic Churches outside of the District of Columbia remain subject to prosecution by local authorities, even if they obtain a certificate of exemption from the DEA.

7. Indefinite Period for Processing the PRE: Nothing in the Guidance indicates how long the DEA will take to review a PRE. Ayahuasca Healings submitted a PRE in April 2016, and as of the date of this publication in February 2019, it has neither been approved or denied.

8. Use of “Invitations” to Submit a PRE as De Facto Investigative Demands: On at least two occasions, the DEA has sent a Psychedelic Church an “invitation to submit a PRE,” that has been treated by these churches as a de facto investigative demand (Ayahuasca Healings and Soulquest). These “invitations” have circulated through the Psychedelic Church community as ominous portents, with every church’s leadership asking themselves whether they will be the next to receive “an offer they can’t refuse.”

Cutting Through the Impasse

To move forward and around the obstacle presented by the Guidance, Psychedelic Churches need to challenge its draconian requirements. To challenge the Guidance effectively, or to respond appropriately to an “invitation to submit a PRE,” it’s essential to understand a bit about the First Amendment, that protects churches directly, and the Fifth Amendment, that applies to church members, and can be asserted on their behalf by their church.

First Amendment Protections for Churches

The First Amendment “free exercise” clause protects the right of Psychedelic Churches to practice religion using a psychedelic sacrament. Additionally, under the “establishment clause.” government is barred from favoring or disfavoring any religion, or attempting to regulate religious conduct. Government regulation breaks down the wall between church and state, leading to “entanglement” in religious affairs, and is thus proscribed. Both the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment provide churches with a unique right to privacy that can justify a church’s refusal to produce documents in response to a subpoena from a government agency when a church is not being investigated for criminal conduct. Why? Because (1) requiring a church to respond to a regulatory agency subpoena would chill religious freedom, thus violating the free exercise clause, and (2) allowing a regulatory agency to pry into the church’s activities and finances would violate the establishment clause, because it leads to the regulation of private church affairs.

Fifth Amendment Protection for Church Members

A church can assert the Fifth Amendment rights of its members, when those members are threatened by a legal scheme that would force the church to incriminate its membership, even though a church cannot assert the Fifth Amendment on its own behalf, because churches and business entities are not entitled to claim the privilege against self-incrimination. The seminal case on this right established the right of the Communist Party to assert the Fifth Amendment rights of the Party’s members to refuse to disclose the Party membership list in response to a government subpoena.

Taking the Attorney General at His Word

Psychedelic Churches can draw hope from a recent memorandum by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, instructing all government agencies on how to properly apply RFRA and the First Amendment to claims for religious exemptions (the “Sessions Memo”). The Guidance does not comport with the spirit or letter of the Sessions Memo, that directs all federal agencies to proactively accommodate the needs of the religious for RFRA exemptions by drafting rules and regulations with the needs of the religious in mind, and even by appointing officers to listen to the religious community when drafting rules, to make it easier to get exemptions. The Psychedelic Church community could take the Attorney General at his word, and inform the DEA of its objections to the Guidance, requesting the issuance of new rules after public comment to give scientific researchers an opportunity to bring the DEA up to date on the results of ten years of psychedelic research.

The Sessions Memo speaks with the force of law, and if the DEA declined to dialogue with the Psychedelic Church community, a RFRA lawsuit could be filed in District Court, grounded on the contention that the Guidance substantially burdens the religious practices of Psychedelic Churches in a manner more restrictive than necessary to achieve justified regulatory ends. Several attorneys and Psychedelic Church advisors have prepared a draft letter to present objections to the DEA. Church leaders and attorneys interested in adding their signatures to the letter are invited to contact the author.



1. Charles Carreon has been a member of the California Bar for thirty years, and retired from the Oregon bar in 2012. A graduate of UCLA Law School (1986), he served the public as an Oregon prosecutor and Federal Public Defender. His private practice has focused on civil trial and appellate litigation, transactional work for media companies, and intellectual property registration, negotiation, and litigation. He currently serves as General Counsel for an Arizona church that administers a pharmacologically active sacrament, and maintains a private practice consulting on issues of Constitutional law, media law, and intellectual property. He may be contacted at or 628-227-4059.

2. ... the_Unwary

3. ... c_Churches

4. Politics and Religious Freedom Restoration Act Make Strange Bedfellows: The Sessions Memo. ... P_2018.pdf
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:55 pm

It's Time For an Association of Visionary Churches to Stand Up and Claim the Religious Freedom To Which They Are Entitled
by Charles Carreon
May 17, 2019



The UDV Decision Under RFRA: A Promising Beginning

The growth of churches using psychedelic sacraments has grown immensely since 2006, when the Supreme Court ruled that, under the First Amendment, the União do Vegetal (the UDV) was entitled to an exemption from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), that makes it illegal to import or distribute any substance containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a component of the UDV’s sacramental drink. The UDV’s victory was made possible by Congress’s enactment of a law that “restored” First Amendment protections for religions, reversing a mean-spirited decision authored by the late Justice Scalia. The statute was thus dubbed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and Justice Roberts’ decision in the UDV case radically altered the landscape of US law, leading many to believe that the promised land of free exercise for psychedelic sacraments had been reached. However, those optimists had not fully reckoned with the commitment of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to maintain their tight control over the use of psychoactive substances.

The Daime Decision: The DEA Loses Round Two

In 2009, the Santo Daime (the Daime) was compelled to file a RFRA lawsuit in Oregon District Court after the DEA seized a drum of Ayahuasca from a church leader’s home and threatened him with prosecution if the church didn’t abandon its religious practices. District Court Judge Owen Panner, who had represented Native American tribes before his elevation to the bench, rejected the DEA’s contentions root and branch. Judge Panner’s opinion found the Daime’s religious practices to be genuine, physically and psychologically safe, and worthy of protection under the First Amendment. Like the UDV, the Daime was granted a RFRA exemption from the CSA.

Because the DEA was the defendant in both the UDV case and the Daime case, after the churches prevailed, they entered into settlement negotiations with the DEA to determine how they would import and distribute their sacramental ayahuasca. The UDV settlement required the church to unravel a lot of red tape to get their sacrament to their congregation. Not much is publicly known about the Daime settlement, but it seems to be a simpler arrangement.

The DEA’s Guidance: A Mirage of Religious Freedom

In 2009 the DEA published a document that we’ll refer to as the “Guidance,” [1] establishing how churches could file a Petition for Exemption (PRE) from the CSA with the DEA. During the ten years since the Guidance was issued, most churches have assumed that in order to obtain an exemption from the CSA under RFRA, they needed to follow the Guidance protocol and submit a PRE to the DEA. Some lawyers have assumed that the Guidance established a required procedure for churches seeking an exemption, and therefore, churches were required to exhaust that administrative remedy before filing a RFRA lawsuit. Due to the extensive disclosure of potentially incriminating information required to file a PRE, only two visionary churches have submitted PRE’s, and they were both filed only after the DEA contacted the churches and “suggested” the submission. The two PRE’s that were filed have never been processed by the DEA.

A Thorough Legal Analysis Concludes that The Guidance Unconstitutionally Interferes With Freedom of Religion and Is Vulnerable to Legal Challenge

The author of this proposal is an attorney with thirty years in practice, a former Oregon prosecutor and Federal Public Defender, who currently serves as General Counsel for a visionary church that uses Ayahuasca as its sacrament. About a year ago, in consultation with two other lawyers, he began a program of research into the law applicable to the Guidance, and wrote three papers that discuss the legal issues extensively. [2] The papers have also been reviewed by a range of professionals who provided critiques and suggestions to produce what is believed to be a reliable legal conclusion that the Guidance was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, is unconstitutional, and is vulnerable to legal challenge.

The Primary Legal Defects of the Guidance

There are several serious legal defects in the system established by the Guidance. The chief constitutional defects are violations of the Fifth Amendment protection against compelled self-incrimination, and the First Amendment right of free exercise. Additionally, there are violations of the Administrative Procedure Act. Some of the violations are more serious than others, but in the opinion of the author, all are worthy of challenge. To enumerate them briefly, they are:

1. The Guidance Compels Self-Incrimination: The Guidance requires church leaders to make statements under oath in a PRE that could provide probable cause to arrest the individual who signed the PRE, and to issue search warrants of the places where sacramental controlled substances are kept or distributed. A properly-completed PRE would provide a roadmap for prosecution of church members for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

2. The Guidance Suspends the Right to Partake of the Sacrament: The Guidance requires any church that submits a PRE to stop administering any sacrament to its followers that is a controlled substance. This forces a church to trade off the free exercise rights of its members for the hope of attaining legal status. Ironically, by not using its sacramental controlled substance for an extended period of time, an applicant church undercuts its contention that psychedelic communion is essential to its religious path, and that laws forbidding use of the sacrament substantially burden its right to free exercise of religion.

3. The Guidance Requires Submitters to Undertake a Risk of Perjury: Someone must sign the PRE under penalty of perjury, because an organization cannot take the oath. Making a false statement in a PRE would violate 18 USC § 1001, that establishes a five-year maximum sentence for making a false statement in a federal proceeding. Perjury charges could be premised on material omissions, or if some members of the church failed to keep the promise to abstain from taking the psychedelic sacrament.

4. The Guidance Allows Unlimited Scope to Requests for Further Information: The Guidance gives the DEA carte blanche to request any additional information, at any time after submission of the PRE, from an applicant church. Several precedents hold that a government agency can refuse to grant a license to an applicant that refuses to provide requested information. Thus, the Guidance provides a foolproof pretext for the DEA to refuse to grant an exemption to an applicant simply by requesting “additional” incriminating information.

5. The Guidance Allows the DEA an Indefinite Period for Processing the PRE: Nothing in the Guidance indicates how long the DEA will take to review a PRE. One group has had its PRE pending for nearly three years, with no action taken yet.

6. The DEA Uses the Guidance as a Cover for Issuing Investigative Demands: On at least two occasions, the DEA has sent a visionary church an “invitation to submit a PRE,” that has been treated by these churches as a de facto investigative demand (Ayahuasca Healings and Soulquest). These “invitations” have circulated through the visionary church community as ominous portents, with every church’s leadership asking themselves whether they will be the next to receive “an offer they can’t refuse.”

7. The Guidance Was Issued Without Notice and Opportunity for Public Comment: The Guidance was never published in the Federal Register and was issued without any formal notice of rulemaking or opportunity for public comment. Because the Guidance establishes regulations that have a legislative effect, imposing additional restraints on religious groups that go beyond those authorized by Congress, the DEA should have given notice of its intent to issue regulations and given the affected churches an opportunity to submit comments, as it does when it proposes to add a new drug to the list of controlled substances. [3]

An Unlikely Friend Hands Visionary Churches a Gift

On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order # 13798, entitled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” for reasons having nothing to do with the needs of churches that make sacramental use of controlled substances. [4] Attorney General Jeff Sessions then issued a Memorandum entitled “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty” (the “Sessions Memorandum”), that directed all U.S. government agencies, including the DEA and the Department of Justice, to review existing rules for compliance with the directives of the Sessions Memorandum, to adjust those rules to avoid interference with the free exercise of religion, and to bring them into compliance with the requirements of RFRA. The Sessions Memo directed all federal government agencies to proactively accommodate the needs of churches seeking exemptions from general law, and to engage with religious persons when drafting new rules to accommodate the right of free exercise as defined by RFRA.

The Sessions Memo tells prosecutors that in order to satisfy RFRA’s limitations on burdening religion, the government may have to spend more money, modify existing federal exemptions, or create new programs. RFRA applies to “all actions” by federal agencies, including rulemaking, enforcement, grant making, and contracting. The Sessions Memo tells government agencies that when a law or regulation fails to pass RFRA’s “strict scrutiny” test, a test that Sessions calls “exceptionally demanding,” a religious exemption must be granted, even when it requires reduction of the rights of third persons.

The Guidance is ten years old, and to all appearances, regulates what visionary churches must do to confirm the legality of their use of controlled substances for sacramental purposes. The Guidance is long overdue for a reassessment in the light of the principles set forth in the Sessions Memo. Thus, visionary churches would be remiss in protecting their own religious liberty if they failed to take the opportunity presented by the Sessions Memo to raise the issue with the DEA.

An Association of Visionary Churches Would Have Standing to Test the Guidance

There’s a reason why fish swim in schools – there’s safety in numbers. Even with a legal opinion to back it up, many visionary churches would be loath to submit a letter to the DEA identifying the legal defects in the Guidance. Although the Sessions Memo cautions Department of Justice lawyers not to target a church for enforcement action based on its exercise of lawful rights, few church leaders may be willing to have their church be the first to test the principle. Fortunately, there is another avenue of approach. An association would have standing to present a letter of criticism to the DEA, and to seek judicial relief if that criticism were ignored, if the association were composed of member churches that would individually have standing to contest the provisions of the Guidance. [5]

Visionary Churches Should Unite to Challenge the Guidance

Visionary churches should form a nonprofit association to challenge the legal defects in the Guidance that have impeded member churches in their efforts to give substance to the Supreme Court’s promise of religious freedom for sacramental use of controlled substances. The challenge should begin by presenting a letter of criticism to the DEA, enumerating and explaining the legal defects summarized above, and should follow through with judicial action under RFRA if the approach to the agency is unsuccessful in obtaining needed changes to the Guidance procedure.

About the Author

Charles Carreon has been a member of the California Bar for thirty years, and retired from the Oregon bar in 2012. A graduate of UCLA Law School (1986), he served the public as an Oregon prosecutor and Federal Public Defender. His private practice has focused on civil trial and appellate litigation, transactional work for media companies, and intellectual property registration, negotiation, and litigation. He currently serves as General Counsel for an Arizona church that administers a pharmacologically active sacrament, and maintains a private practice consulting on issues of Constitutional law, media law, and intellectual property. He may be contacted at or 628-227-4059.



1. The full title of the document is Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act Pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

2. Prohibition by Another Name: A Summary Critique of the DEA's Guidance for Submitting Petitions for Religious Exemptions from the Controlled Substances Act <> The DEA's Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act under RFRA: Door to Religious Freedom or Fifth Amendment Trap for the Unwary? Be Careful What You Wish For – The Peril of Regulated Status for Psychedelic Churches,

3. This is not an insignificant right. For example, when the DEA proposed to schedule Kratom, it unleashed a wave of comments. DEA Announces Intent to Schedule Kratom <>; DEA Withdraws Kratom Ban, Opens Formal Comment Period. <>

4. The likely reasons for the President’s Executive Order are discussed in a mildly humorous essay by the author of this memorandum entitled Politics and Religious Freedom Restoration Act Make Strange Bedfellows: The Sessions Memo, available at < ... P_2018.pdf>

5. Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc., 528 US 167, 181 (2000).
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:33 am

To Get the Straight Dope on Climate Change, Talk to the Insurance Industry
by Charles Carreon
May 20, 2019

The reports from the insurance industry are in, and the conclusions are clear: extreme weather events that cause damage to real estate and business, including high winds, enormous wildfires, and storm damage and flooding due to increased precipitation have caused claims for property damage to increase worldwide. These people are "risk managers," and it is their job to "set loss reserves," using "actuarial analysis" to estimate future losses and set insurance premiums at a level to accomplish two goals: (1) to have enough money on hand to cover anticipated claims, and (2) to encourage policyholders to protect their property to reduce risk by incentivizing investment in proactive, damage-reducing strategies. See the following resources to confirm:
The Impact of Climate Change on Insurance Against Catastrophes by Tony Coleman (an Australia-based analysis) ... eman7a.pdf
“Stormy Future for U.S. Property/Casualty Insurers: The Growing Costs and Risks of Extreme Weather Events,” ... _cw_01.pdf
Getting Reserve Analysis Right, by David Hershey, ... sis-right/
How Should We Account for Climate Change? ... change.pdf
Climate Change Risk & Insurance Casualty Actuarial Society: Casualty Loss Reserve Seminar Chicago , September 2016 Cynthia McHale, Insurance Program Director, Ceres ... eynote.pdf
The Insurance Industry and Climate Change on the Prairies: A Status Report Prepared by the Great Plains Program of the International Institute for Sustainable Development,

While politicians would like you to think that their policies are the important ones, Adam Smith's invisible hand exerts far more control over the way we deploy resources on planet earth. One rule to observe in business is "That which cannot be insured should probably not be done." Currently, insurance companies are quietly working to account for the risks that climate change will cause to eventuate, increasing damaging events. A review of the above-cited resources will show that insurers are not "hedging their bets" in the belief that "climate change may cause an increasing number of casualty claims." Rather, they have received the news, in the form of drastic increases in claims due to increased extreme weather, charts that show disappearing ice pack, increasing average heat temperatures, hotter and larger forest fires, higher winds, precipitation, and rising sea levels. The insurance carriers have got the message, they've hung up the phone, and they are working on their spreadsheets to try and figure out how they can charge premiums that are high enough that they will be able to pay out the claims they know are on the rise.

Government has often silenced the wisdom of the insurance industry by providing relief to dangerous industries. For instance, the Federal Government enacted the Price-Anderson Act in 1957 to make the government the insurer of last resort for uninsurable nuke plants, and in the event of a nuclear accident, the Federal Government will indemnify insurance companies that issue policies to nuke plants. The law also limits total liability to $10 Billion, adjusted for inflation, a grossly inadequate amount in the event of a severe disaster.

A grosser way of sponsoring dangerous activities is to outlaw liability claims altogether, for example, claims that a gun is defective for failing to incorporate good designs to prevent injury: "For an example of how this plays out, look at Adames v. Beretta. In this case, a 13-year-old boy removed the clip from his father's Beretta handgun, believing that made the gun safe, and then accidentally shot his 13-year-old friend. The victim's family sued Beretta, saying the company could have made the pistol safer and provided more warnings, according to SCOTUS Blog. Citing the PLCAA, the Illinois Supreme Court dismissed Adames' claims, and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately refused to hear the case." ... r-behavior

The most important thing for the government to do would be to bring the insurance industry's conclusions out in the open, to bring these executives before Congress, and put their conclusions on the record. In the safety of the Congressional hearing environment, these executives can tell us what they know, without the fear that a Fox News-powered shitstorm will break upon their heads, resulting in the loss of business merely for speaking the truth. There is no wisdom in ignoring what the most conservative financial minds in our society are acting upon. We should invite them to share their strategies with government, industry, and the people at large. Then we can all protect ourselves, and make the adjustments to our lifestyles, industrial planning, and global investment that are necessary to reduce the impact of extreme weather events due to climate change. That will, in turn, help us keep our premiums down, and both the insurers and the ratepayers will be grateful for that.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:11 pm

The Dialogue of the Yogi and the King
by Charles Carreon

The King was out riding one morning, surveying his domains with no particular aim in view, or so it seemed, until he spotted the Yogi walking down the dusty road. The King flagged his detail to ride ten paces behind him, and brought his magnificent horse to a walk, keeping even with the Yogi, who continued walking, not looking at his Highness. The King spoke first.

KIng: "I hear you are an honest Yogi."

Yogi: "Your Majesty will be the best authority on such a matter, for your ears are everywhere in the Kingdom. It is well-known that you are privy to the words and conduct of all, which is why crime is low and I live in peace, unbothered by hooligans, in the cemetery."

King: "You are so known."

Yogi (stopping and turning): "Delightful, Sire. How may I serve your Excellency?"

King (Gesturing to his guards to come forward): "Let us speak awhile under this tree."

Yogi: "Gladly, Sire."

The King dismounted with the aid of his squire, made his seat on a leathern tripod, and the Yogi eased his bones onto the bare earth, then the King resumed his questioning.

King: "Are you honest?"

Yogi: "I speak little, and so have few occasions to deceive. I live from alms, so I have no master to please. From this position, I have been known to speak my own mind."

King: "May I ask a philosophical question?"

Yogi: "Philosophy is not my strong point, Sire, but I will endeavor to answer any question you wish to ask."

King: "Is the soul eternal?"

Yogi: "I know not, Sire."

King: "Do you seek to offend the priests by this answer?"

Yogi: No, Sire, nor may I deceive my sovereign."

King: "What do you know of the nature of man?"

Yogi (smiling gently): "Of the nature of man, Sire, would you hear?
This body is like a puppet,
Sewn with myriad stitches of breath,
And man's mind is like the needle that pulls the stitches taut.
The body is like a musical instrument tuned to various tones
By the power of one's attention;
Or a regiment of archers,
Ready with their bows, with
Mind as their commander."

King: "Tell me more of mind."

Yogi: "The mind is like a river,
Bounded by banks,
Composed of innumerable droplets
Gathered from myriad mountains,
Slopes and watersheds,
All meandering,
Conjoining in a vast flow
That at last unites in streams
That mingle to become
That graceful, flowing
Snake of glass
That feeds the verdant banks,
Overtops them in the flood time,
And turns to naught in droughts.

King: "How is a river like the mind?"

Yogi: "A river has three characteristics
-- moisture, greatness and motion.
Without these three,
A river cannot be,
For even a single raindrop is wet,
And though a lake is great, it is not a river,
Whose nature is ever to flow.
As to mind, it resembles a river because
Moisture is life itself,
Greatness is mind's unlimited scope,
And motion is how it functions.
When mind animates the body,
it tugs the stitches of the breath
that control the body-puppet.
It tunes the instruments and causes them to play their various tones.
It commands the archers of intention and action."

King: "How do the various parts of the body coordinate?"

Yogi: "In the unity of body and mind,
Correspondent polarities order the whole.
The crown to the soles,
The ankles to the eyes,
The throat to the waist,
And the heart to the body as a whole.

The heart is like the middle of the bowstring
That the archer pulls,
The heart is the conductor keeping rhythm
For all of the instruments,
The heart holds all the threads
Of the body-puppet in its central grasp.

Mind is the power that
plucks the bowstrings,
sounds the tones,
stirs muscles and bones.
Mind is the unseen force
flowing through the rivers
fed by the heart, and
All flesh is like the life
that flourishes along the banks
of these hidden streams.

King: "Why do people suffer?"

Yogi: "The river of mind
Is a river of pain,
Because the nature of this river is to know,
To sense, to feel, to judge, experiment,
Adjust and persist,
And pain is the knowledge that feeds this system.
Pain is sensed, felt, judged,
As we conduct our ongoing experiment with existence,
Adjusting it by trial and failure,
To achieve our unquestioned good -- continued existence,
More time to refine our ability to sense, feel, judge,
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."

King: "What is wisdom?"

Yogi: "Our failure to question the value of living,
Itself must be questioned,
If pain is to be understood,
Or we become an Ouroboros of pain,
Drinking our own blood
In mute, animal agony."

King: "You describe a grim fate for us as living beings. On this at least, you agree with the priests. What is your solution to pain? The priests have their own solutions."

Yogi: "Sire, may I ask, what do the priests say men should do to deal with pain?"

King: "Eliminate it, of course."

Yogi: "Yes, by what means?"

King: "By making abundant offerings to the Gods and the Ancestors, that they may bestow blessings in this life, by giving increase of fertility and health, and a pain-free existence in the divine realms in the afterlife. Do you accord with this advice?"

Yogi: "I do not oppose it, but as you can see, I have not fitted myself out to be a giver of abundant offerings, living from alms as I do."

King: "Do you imply that by rendering yourself incapable of making abundant offerings, you lose nothing?"

Yogi: "The entire matter of offerings is a touchy subject, your Majesty, since as we know, neither the Ancestors nor the Gods partake of them, but rather, after the plates are passed before the noses of the idols, the delicacies heaped upon them are consumed by the priests and their devotees, while the leavings are offered to animals and persons of small means, like your humble servant."

King: "You flirt with heresy, Yogin, but I get your meaning, and there are no priests here to accuse you."

Yogi: "For which I thank your Majesty."

King: "So what is your solution to pain, if you do not resort to bribing the disembodied Ancestors and the Celestial Ones?"

Yogi: "Sire, I have none at all. Pain cannot be avoided entirely by beings such as ourselves. The union of body and mind precludes it."

King: "Why do you say this? More heresy?"

Yogi: "Mere observation, your Majesty. Is not hunger painful? Loneliness? Fatigue? A wound received in battle? Labor and childbirth? The loss of a friend, a parent, a treasure? Are not these all painful?

King: "That they are."

Yogi: "But for hunger, Sire, we would not eat, and thus perish. Were we not lonely, we would not band together with our fellows, and your Majesty would have no subjects. Those who do not weary do not rest, their wits abandon them, they see phantoms and oftimes end their own lives for reasons beyond comprehending. Under death's impending shadow, we seek to advantage ourselves in life. From the fear of death, doctors and midwives learn the ways of healing and childbearing. From hatred of poverty, farmers till the fields, artisans produce crafts, and merchants ferry goods from the mountains to the seas, setting up markets where wealth is exchanged. All these human activities must be good, since Your Majesty protects them in his fortunate domain, by force of law and sanction, by employing lawgivers, magistrates, and constables. Yet they are motivated by fear of pain. Therefore pain is the basis of much that is good."

King: "Then why do you renounce the world and live as a beggar?"

Yogi: "I value my freedom, Sire. Do not you?"

King: "Of course."

Yogi: "And do you consider yourself free?"

King: I am Sovereign -- all serve me. How can I be unfree?"

Yogi: "I seek not to challenge you, Sire. I merely ask because you seemed vexed regarding pain. I take it that even you are not free from pain."

King: "Oh, I see. No, I am not free from pain. Would that I were."

Yogi: "Sire, there is a question you have not asked, the answer to which may interest you."

King: "And which is that?"

Yogi: "Can pain be reduced?"

King: "Well, can it?"

Yogi: "Yes."

King: "How much?"

Yogi: "A great deal."

King: "How?"

Yogi: "May I ask you, Sire -- if a drunken man disturbs the town, do the magistrates order his execution?"

King: "Of course not."

Yogi: "What do they do?"

King: "After he sobers up, they release him with a fine, to be paid in coin or labor."

Yogi: "To what end?"

King: "That he may learn self-control."

Yogi: "Does it work? Do they learn self-control?"

King: "Often it does. If not, the fines are increased, or he is imprisoned."

Yogi: "In the same way, Sire, the causes of excessive pain can be identified, corrected, and in the last resort, confined."

King: "How are the causes of excessive pain to be identified?"

Yogi: "By close observation, Your Majesty. The stream of the mind itself must be watched, the troublemakers identified, their weapons confiscated, their misconduct suppressed."

King: "Who are the troublemakers?"

Yogi: "Errant thoughts and emotions. Notions that arise from unchecked fancy. Feelings that rule a mind that is sunk in unreflection."

King: "What are their weapons?"

Yogi: "Arrogance, anger, and excessive desire."

King: "Any others?"

Yogi: "Greed and pride round out the lot."

King: "How does one identify these troublemakers?"

Yogi: "By the pain they bring to the mind, they identify themselves."

King: "How does one render their weapons harmless?"

Yogi: "By the exertion of authority, like the constable who bears the Royal Ensign, one manifests possession of one's own domains. Like a skilled horseman, by firmly grasping the reins of the will. Through vigilance and the exercise of will, guided by wholesome intention, one becomes what one wishes to be, and ceases to be the product of passions and ignorance, that roam like thieves in the darkness. One who kindles the lamp of self-awareness drives away the dangers that beset ordinary minds. One who asserts his power to be what he wills ends enslavement to the forces that bedevil the ignorant."

King: "Some say that if one opposes the passions, they rebel and return with redoubled force. Is this not a danger, and if so, how is it deflected?"

Yogi: "I have spoken of the rider and his horse. May I ask you Sire -- does the best horseman often apply the whip?"

King: "No, the best horseman applies the whip rarely or not at all."

Yogi: "Then how does he master the beast?"

King: "The best horsemen speak to their mounts, care for their welfare, and treat them with love and respect; therefore, they command their mounts through a power greater than fear of pain.

Yogi: "In the same fashion, Sire, the one who would be the master of his own being cares for himself, counsels himself with gentleness and wisdom, subduing all errant impulses with calm authority. The heart of the self-mastered man rests peaceful in his chest like a horse with a good rider resides in the stable, ready to serve its master, secure in his kindly command."

Upon hearing these words, the King's heart felt the touch of peace that he had not felt since he was a young prince, discovering the power of command. He understood the meaning of the Yogi's words, and could already feel the truth of their meaning. He felt gratitude towards the Yogi, and wished to reward him.

King: "You have given good advice, Yogin, and for that I shall grant you a boon. What would you ask of me?"

Yogi: "That which I would ask, you may not be willing to grant. I should not ask."

King: "I command you -- speak, Yogin. If I cannot grant it, I will tell you plainly so, and you may ask a second wish."

Yogi: "Very well, Sire, but if you will not grant it, I have no other desire, and will pray you leave me with my freedom and your kind regard."

King: "So it will be. What is your wish?"

Yogi: "I wish that you should make no wars for power, wealth or glory, and only protect your people from harm, that you should sever no young men from their families against their will, to be conscripts in your armies, and that you allow them to live their days in peace."

The King was silent a moment, looking at the Yogi with piercing eyes that sought the reason behind his words. At last he replied.

King: "Yogin, if I said that I would grant your boon, would you boast of it to your fellows?"

Yogi: "No, Sire, I would keep silence on the matter to my last breath, while it remained my secret joy."

King: "I cannot answer you, Yogin, but you have eyes in your head. In the fulness of time, you may judge the effect of your request."

Yogi: "Your Majesty, I am honored by your kind attention to the words of a humble beggar."

King: "As well you should be."

The King leavened his last words with a kindly smile, called for his horse, and resumed his ride, leaving the Yogin to go his way in peace.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:12 pm

Crazy Like a Fox – In “Crazy Wisdom,” Trungpa’s Heirs Sacrifice Truth to Profit
by Charles Carreon
July 24, 2019

It’s impossible to see yourself when you’re cocooned inside a rosy glow of nostalgia, so the Shambhala insiders who appear in “Crazy Wisdom” look very comfortable and somewhat pathetic.


In this slick biopic lionizing the dead Chogyam Trungpa from the safe distance of a few decades, Trungpa’s core followers appear like a string of lottery winners dressed in casual formal attire, comfortably seated in cozy sitting rooms, tasteful meditation halls, traditional shrines, and art studios. Each lucky man or woman presents the same aspect – supremely satisfied with their decision to devote their lives to Trunpa’s vision; firmly grasping the brass ring they were so fortunate to clasp when Trungpa held it out to them; serene in the knowledge that they made the right choice when they delivered their life into his hands; happy singing hosannas forever to Trungpa, Trungpa, Trungpa!

Presented in a haze of perfection, this string of Trungpa worshippers presents like a necklace of matched, cultured pearls – each one expressing identical sentiments, venturing nothing surprising, unique, or individual. Their adulation comes from a factory with faultless quality control. Their very sincerity seems affected. They’ve become the Martha Stewarts of spirituality, offering a safe, respectable approach to inner growth and fulfillment. Nevertheless, this film cannot whitewash the tainted legacy of a man whose greatest skill was his practice of self-deception. What “Crazy Wisdom” will do is memorialize the naivete, blindness, and complicity of those who, seduced by Trungpa’s self-love, still serve his will, emulating his enigmatic poses and pregnant pauses as they gush praise, elide the truth, and distort reality, painting a picture of a spiritual Camelot that never was. “Crazy Wisdom” is a farcical re-imagination of a life marked by chaotic misconduct, florid self-aggrandizement, and canny manipulation as a stately progression from sainted birth, through heroic adolescence, to fruitful maturity, culminating in nirvana, crowned by canonization, his sainthood confirmed by meteorological displays of celestial glory. There’s more truth to be found in Disney’s Snow White.

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Most notable about “Crazy Wisdom” is the scenes that aren’t included. We don’t see the classrooms at the unnamed Oxford College that Trungpa likely never attended (there are currently 39 Oxford colleges), or hear from his teachers or fellow-students. Rather, over the rooftops of a quaint English town, the single word “Oxford” appears onscreen, followed by “1963 Chogyam Trungpa receives a grant to study in England,” a group photo of college-age people among which Trungpa’s appears as the only Tibetan face, and static shots of medieval saints carved in stone.


Following this suggestive but factually substanceless montage, a trio of acolytes offer bland speculations about what Trungpa was up to during his early years in England. Francesca Freemantle, a silver-haired academic, says “He was going through a period of really examining how he was going to teach.”


Rigzin Shipko, a graying English yogi, claims “Rinpoche was doing various courses in order to familiarize himself with Western culture.”


Lyndon Antle, who claims that, after seeing Trungpa once in the Telegraph newspaper, he sold his house, quit his job, and made the trip to Samye Ling on public transport, walking the last 17 miles to the remote location near Eskdalemuir, credits Trungpa with “trying to gather the experience directly for himself of the suffering of the human condition in the west.” And that’s it for Trungpa’s attendance at England’s most prestigious institution of higher learning.

We don’t see the bedroom at Garwald House where Diana Pybus, all of sixteen and a week, climbed into Trungpa’s bed to aid his recovery from his crippling accident. We don’t hear about how the two were jailed for a night after skipping out on a hotel bill after a frolic in Glasgow. We never hear how Pamela and Christopher Woodman, devoted students scandalized by Trungpa’s habitual drunkenness and his marriage to Diana, over fourteen years his junior, accused him of moral turpitude to the American immigration authorities.


We are briefly shown a tabloid headline trumpeting the marriage to the British public, which became notorious as one of the first marriages of a sixteen-year-old bride pursuant to a change in English law. We do not hear about how the marriage outraged Diana’s family, causing her Uncle Michael to loudly accuse Trungpa in a public house as “a cradle robber and a baby snatcher” who would be wise to “go to America, because anything goes there.”


Although Akong Tulku appears in the movie, he says nothing about how he ostracized Trungpa at Samye Ling for being an embarrassment to the Kagyu lineage, or how Trungpa retaliated against him by destroying his personal shrine, urinating on the staircase, and passing out in his own filth, all on a special day when donors were present for a special visit to the abbey. Neither does Akong tell us how he was so eager to see the pair gone that he loaned Trungpa the money to fly to America, and so distrustful of repayment that he demanded custody of the ancient Trungpa lineage seals as collateral for the loan. We don’t learn that Trungpa flew to the USA without a visa, and had to wait for several months to get one, because the Americans cancelled his visa due to the accusations made by the Woodmans. We don’t hear about how Trungpa and Diana were turned out of the home of a Korean monk, Samu Kim, from whom they initially received a warm welcome, after one night of drinking. Apparently not having the requisite ability to reinterpret Trungpa’s rough behavior as crazy wisdom, Samu asked him to leave, explaining that, “You look like a Buddha, but you’re just an ordinary man. You look the story, you walk the story, but you’re not the real thing. You can’t stay any longer.”


Trungpa’s son, Osel Mukpo, aka “the Sakyong,” appears to speak a few ambiguous words about his father, but we never see the “Lady Konchok,” the Tibetan nun upon whom Trungpa sired the child, then abandoned in India. Osel doesn’t tell us how he felt about being taken from his mother, transported to Samye Ling at the age of seven, and left without family to care for him when Trungpa and Diana decamped for the States. We do not hear from Pamela and Chris Woodman, who gave Osel a home and cared for him for over a year before Trungpa filed a custody lawsuit to take him from them. Osel doesn’t tell us about the two years he spent at the Pestalozzi Village, an orphanage for refugee children, after being taken from the Woodman home by means of legal process, while barristers and solicitors sorted his fate. Nor does he tell us how he felt about his absentee father, who made his presence felt primarily by means of custody litigation while he drank, wrote poetry, and seduced his students in Vermont and Colorado. Osel doesn’t tell us how, the one time Trungpa came to see him in England, he experienced little more than fear of the stranger who was his father.


Several of the people interviewed in the film were present at the drunken Halloween party where Trungpa ordered the most aggressive males in his devotion-addled cult to break into the bedroom of a famous poet and his girlfriend, and drag them downstairs to participate in the festivities, where Trungpa, lording it over the fawning crowd like a Buddhist version of Jabba the Hutt, had the couple stripped naked for his entertainment. However, not one of these well-scrubbed, well-respected teachers of American Dharma breathes a word about this event.

We don’t meet any of Trungpa’s seven wives, who kept many nasty secrets about him hidden – his ultra-secret cocaine addiction, his penchant for torturing animals, his indulgence in sex with underage girls. We don’t hear about Trungpa’s tragic marriage to Ciel Turzanski, his sixth wife, whom he “married” the day she turned eighteen, after what all presume was a five-year long affair between the two. We aren’t so much as shown a photograph of this sacrificed child bride, who committed suicide many years later, a victim of torments too painful to imagine.

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The movie paints a friendly face on this sexual predator. We see the “Dorje Kasung,” Trungpa’s vajra guard, marching in uniform, and hear unctuous explanations about how putting Dharma nerds in uniform integrates worldly and spiritual life in “enlightened society.” However, none of these Kasung tell us that they really served as vajra pimps, bringing him the wives and girlfriends of his male students as sexual offerings, breaking up families, poisoning conjugal relationships, and preying on the daughters of students too young to lawfully consent to sexual relations.

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Two middle-aged Dharma matrons appear to declare the transcendent nature of their trysts with the tantric master.


A cuckold declares that he was jealous – of his wife’s relationship with Trungpa! He wished he could get that close!

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Lest anyone think that only Trungpa’s students are able to see the saint behind the sins, Wendy Roshi of Los Angeles Zen Center shows up to laud the “openness” with which he carried on his dalliances, and Kwong Roshi of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center comes close to tears recalling how Trungpa cried at Suzuki Roshi’s funeral.


Still, when it comes to modeling innocent befuddlement at how Trungpa could indulge in such extensive bad behavior while engaging in a religious mission, Pema Chodron sets the gold standard. Claiming that she just “does not know” how to reconcile the conflicting facts, she delivers dumb looks with panache, equating ignorance with wisdom. It is all a clever dodge, however. When she says she “doesn’t know,” she conceals that what she really means is that she is so convinced of Trungpa’s sanctity that nothing he did could ever shake her faith in his perfection. Like a Trumper who would excuse the Donald of homicide if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, Pema Chodron won’t be budged from her commitment to Trungpa’s divinity, regardless of the evidence. For her to claim that this is a “suspension of judgment” or an “inability to reach a conclusion” is mere sophistry, devoid of sincerity.


Trungpa’s bizarre family life is of course off limits. We hear some “secular spiritual” mumbo-jumbo from the lips of Dr. Mitchell Levy, the Doctor Feelgood who allowed Trungpa to drink and drug himself into an early grave: “He taught by being a human being. He never said, ‘follow me, imitate me.’” What Dr. Levy doesn’t tell us is that, when Trungpa cast Diana aside to engage in sex with everyone else with tits inside grabbing range, he made himself useful by becoming Diana’s lover. Nor does Dr. Levy tell us that “Ashoka Mukpo” who passes in the press for Trungpa’s son, is actually his own child, born to Diana -- a Jewish-British Buddhist boy who got stuck with a Tibetan name. There are of course advantages to this arrangement, because Ashoka was recognized as a tulku, even though not born of Trungpa’s seed.


Ashoka would really have little to complain about, because Trungpa’s seed may not have been the safest genetic line to spring from. Taggie, the eldest son of his union with Diana, suffers from severe autism, and is not featured in the movie at all, even though he was recognized by the Sixteenth Karmapa as a tulku. Although autistic children benefit from sensory therapy, speech therapy, and music therapy, Taggie received none of these. Indeed, he didn't even receive basic home care, or parental affection. At age six, he was interned in the Karmapa's Rumtek monastery, and didn't return to the United States until he was eighteen. Since then, Taggie has been in the care of third parties in separate housing, due to his proclivity for violent rages and other dysfunctional behavior. One of Taggie’s longtime caretakers, Christine Chandler, in her book about the thirty years she spent in the Mukpo family cult, explained that what most enraged Taggie was the endless procession of fawning Trungpa students who, believing him to be a tulku, sought to indulge his every whim, thus stimulating his worst behavior. As Chandler recounts, Diana visited Taggie only once in over six years. On another occasion, his brother Osel promised to come for a visit, and although he never arrived, the newsletter for the Karme Choling retreat center joyfully published a report about "what a wonderful visit the Sakyong had with his brother." Chandler also describes how everyone, from Trungpa disciples to visiting lamas, seemed eager to project their fantasies on the disabled youth, variously believing him to be an embodiment of crazy wisdom, possessed by a demon, or merely in need of "a female consort." Since the movie fails to make any mention of Taggie's existence, of course, it conveniently avoids the fact that the Mukpo family, known for its extravagant spending on luxuries, has shifted the cost of Taggie's home care to the state of Vermont. Thus, disowned in body and spirit, cared for by strangers at the expense of the state, Taggie's origins as Trungpa's son appear to have benefited him not at all. While it would take a DNA test to gather the necessary evidence, modern medicine tells us that fetal alcohol syndrome often results from paternal alcohol abuse, so Taggie may have more than tulku status to thank his father for.


Gesar Mukpo, the youngest son of the Trungpa/Diana union, is another incarnate Bodhisattva, due to the now-obligatory practice of recognizing the fruit of all lama-seed as sacred. Gesar appears briefly in the movie, designated as a “filmmaker,” despite having only one film to his name, a one-hour production entitled “Tulku,” in which he interviews a number of young men who, like himself, have been recognized as incarnate Bodhisattvas, but can’t quite seem to get the hang of the family business. Gesar rejects the opportunity to share reminiscences about his famous father, deflecting an inquiry about whether Trungpa showed him love: “Love? Talking about love is an insult sort of to our relationship, because it was like he treated me like the reincarnated lama that I was recognized as. So in terms of love, did we ever talk about love – there was never any talk about something like that. He treated me like he would have treated a king of another country, you know?”

One of the most tragic episodes in the history of Trungpa’s “enlightened society” goes entirely unmentioned in the movie -- Trungpa’s terrible choice of a successor to run his organization -- Thomas Rich, that some stalwarts still venerate as “Osel Tenzin, the Vajra Regent.” Rich, whose feckless indulgence in unprotected sex while infected with HIV claimed the lives of at least two people, and probably more, has been disappeared altogether. This keeps us far away from the dangerous fact that Trungpa apparently knew that Rich had AIDS, and discouraged him from disclosing it to his sexual partners or using a condom, giving Rich license to commit heinous crimes that are now recognized as murder, plain and simple. But for those who watch “Crazy Wisdom” without knowing the story behind the lies, the concealment of Rich’s misdeeds is as complete as a bricked-over passageway to a room that has been erased from the floor plan.

Although it is well-known that Trungpa’s death was preceded by a long decline during which he lost control over his bodily movements, becoming totally reliant on personal aides to maintain his appearance and manage personal life activities, we see nothing of this. “Crazy Wisdom” sanctifies Trungpa’s early death due to alcohol and drug toxicity at the age of 48, by avoiding all discussion of the months during which his ravaged body was maintained in a semi-comatose state by the use of extraordinary medical procedures at the behest of students unable to come to grips with Trungpa’s untimely passing.

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The movie announced his death as a historical fact, then segues into the gala cremation ceremony in a vast green field thronged with followers, presided over by crowds of traditionally-garbed Tibetans, led by the redoubtable Dilgo Khyentse, whose mere face is sufficient to reduce the devoted to sighs of awe. We see the uniformed pallbearers, numbering about a dozen, carrying his remains in a brocaded palanquin to the funeral chorten, where they are consumed in a splendid conflagration, flames spouting from the roof in a micro-inferno of sacralized fire.

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The event is crowned with “fire rainbows,” an atmospheric phenomenon scientifically known as a “circumhorizontal arc” that can occur when the sun is at an elevation of 58° or greater and sunlight enters high altitude cirrus clouds at a specific angle. Like many other folks with cameras, the filmmakers were able to capture images of this unusual celestial occurrence. For those who scan the heavens for confirmation of their beliefs, colors in the clouds are proof of whatever they wish to believe. For those tethered to reality, colored clouds are pleasing, and probative of nothing.


“Crazy Wisdom” was made with a purpose in mind – to cover over the ugly edifice of Trungpa’s transgressions with a façade of holy achievements. To accomplish this, history has been doctored. Important people, both victims and perpetrators, have been removed from the frame, and traumatic events expunged from the record. Trungpa’s own actions have been edited to remove evidence that he exploited his students for sex, seducing female students and cuckolding their mates, amassing money and authority for personal aggrandizement, surrounding himself with fawning servants and uniformed toadies, neglecting his children while procuring for them useless titles of sanctity that merely inflate their pride to no purpose, and recklessly indulging in behavior that destroyed both his mind and body. Simultaneously, the movie elevates the reputations of his close students, who now have established careers as meditation teachers that are founded on the illusion of Trungpa’s own spiritual legitimacy. “Crazy Wisdom” is religious propaganda to shore up a cult of personality, and a marketing campaign that Trungpa’s followers hope to keep going for generations. To use a phrase well-known to his students, it is pure “spiritual materialism.”
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:34 am

The Invisible Pyramid
by Charles Carreon
August 14, 2019

Meet Loren Eiseley

I am stealing this title from a collection of essays by Loren Eiseley because it so perfectly encapsulates an important idea. Loren Eiseley launched his writing career from the unglamorous field of paleontology. He was a bone-collector, as he sometimes put it. His brilliant essays on the human condition – written from the vantage point of geological timespans – have inspired countless readers to think more deeply about who we are, how we became this way, and what we might become – if we can escape the darkness of our evolutionary past. Take this brief excerpt from the book whose title I’ve cribbed:

“I compose, or I make clever objects with what were originally a tree dweller’s hands. Fragments of his fears, his angers, his desires, still stream like midnight shadows through the circuits of my brain. His unthinking jungle violence, inconceivably magnified, may determine our ending. Still, by contrast, the indefinable potentialities of a heavy-browed creature capable of pouring his scant wealth into the grave in a gesture of grief and self-abnegation may lead us at last to some triumph beyond the realm of technics. Who is to say?”

-- The Invisible Pyramid – A Naturalist Analyses the Rocket Century, pp. 93-94 (1971 Scribners).

In this short paragraph, Eiseley spans the gulf between Australopithecus and Homo Sapiens, between the darkness of the arboreal forest and the terrible illumination of the hydrogen bomb, and concludes by pinpointing the origin of compassion in our longing to care for our dead.

Why Is the Pyramid Invisible?

Written in the late sixties and early seventies, The Invisible Pyramid is an urgent contemplation by a profound thinker who arrived at the precipice facing all humanity about forty years ahead of the crowd. The book is comprised of seven essays that turn round a central theme inspired by President Kennedy’s commitment to put a man on the moon -- why humans are reaching for the stars, what we hope to find there, and what we might be hiding from here on earth by seeking to hurl ourselves into the heavens.

Comparing the space program to the pyramids of Egypt, Eiseley wrote:

“This effort has become the primary obsession of the great continental powers. Into the organization of this endeavor has gone an outpouring of wealth and inventive genius so vast that it constitutes a public sacrifice equivalent in terms of relative wealth to the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza almost five thousand years ago. Indeed, there is a sense in which modern science is involved in the construction of just such a pyramid, although an invisible one.”
Id., p. 87.

Further on in the book, he makes reference again to the immense monuments left behind by our ancestors, who apparently commanded tremendous resources, leaving behind a legacy in stone, whose full significance we can only vaguely apprehend:

“Egypt, which had planted in the pyramids man’s mightiest challenge to effacing time, had conceived long millennia ago the dream of a sky-traveling boat that might reach the pole star. The Maya of the New World rain forests had also watched the drift of the constellations from their temples situated above the crawling vegetational sea about them. But of what their dreamers thought, the remaining hieroglyphs tell us little.”
Id., at pp. 129-130.

I See the Pyramid

When I grasped Eiseley’s meaning, I suddenly envisioned our whole society, all of us, living inside an immense pyramid of inconceivable proportions – as real as the cellphone in my pocket, the fast food restaurants and strip malls on every corner, the endless ribbons of asphalt that stretch out to the mountains and the plains, the airliners that ply the skies, the satellites that orbit above us. This vast construction, created to pursue an evanescent dream of material fulfillment, is our invisible pyramid. We have mortgaged the future of the planet, the lives of future generations, to this dream. We have become what Eiseley calls, “the world-eaters,” a race of beings who consume the earth voraciously, turning resources to waste in an accelerating drive to create and sustain a network of illusions. Now, as our habits of consumption threaten to destroy our dreams forever, we look to the stars for an escape route. Trapped on a poisoned planet, we now see billionaires reaching to establish orbital havens from whence they can gaze down on their dominions from a safe remove.

Writing in the sixties and seventies, Eiseley saw danger in our society’s reliance on scientific knowledge to guide us forward. He had not foreseen, and therefore did not address another danger – that humanity would nostalgically turn back to the past, seeking comfort in mythical cosmologies, priestcraft, and magical thinking. He did not anticipate that millions of people would turn their backs on the empirical view of reality, and take refuge in what Carl Sagan called “the demon-haunted world,” a world populated by forces that can damn or redeem in an instant, banishing the inconvenient reality in which the technocrats have sewn us up.

The Individual's Search for A World-Structure

In my view, each one of us builds his or her own invisible pyramid of belief. By a lifelong expenditure of mental energy, we construct our view of reality, and in it, we abide. Others cannot approach us without passing through the invisible gates we have constructed. When they visit, they must sit on the furniture we provide, within the walls we’ve constructed, seeing the limited view outside our windows, if indeed we haven’t simply painted images on the walls to simulate the external world in a style that comports with our projections. Most people, of course, consider it quite beyond their ability to design their own abiding place. They shop for designs, often emulating the living spaces occupied by those they admire or envy.

Religious Worldviews -- Readymade & Guaranteed to Please

Those with the biggest aspirations, those who want to have the most clearly superior abiding places, often shop for a religious structure to enclose themselves. Religions accommodate this impulse by creating lavish structures that purport to be genuine, authentic, reliable, exquisite, and eternal. Amazingly enough, when you buy a religious design, you are always promised the penthouse suite, the apex of perfection, the most perfect house in the City on the Hill. Purchasers are amazed to discover that all of this wonderfulness is well within their means. Making the down payment is always as easy as tendering your belief. You sign a blank piece of paper, and move right into the model home. Later, the realtor comes by with a copy of the full contract. It stipulates that you must live there forever, can never move out, submit to the authority of the homeowner’s association, promise to keep your lawn watered and mowed, and will not conduct ping pong tournaments in the garage. Also, only certain types of sex are permitted in the bedrooms, certain kinds of foods can be cooked in the kitchen, and particular types of clothing washed in the laundry room.

Yes, the overwhelming characteristic of the religious worldview is rigidity. Only in this way, the realtor explains, can you be sure that your neighbors will not offend you, and you will not offend them. Your choices are limited, but this is a time-saver. Your ambitions and personal hopes become irrelevant, but on the other hand, no one can embarrass you about how you live, because you live just like everyone else. There is safety in numbers, and you are one fish in an immense, silvery school that moves in a unified, harmonious dance.

Within this realm of uniform views, in which all questions have an appropriate doctrinal answer, the outer world is irrelevant. Your only concern is to eliminate all of the impulses to individual thinking and conform yourself to the right way of seeing things. When you can achieve this form of “right thinking,” you gain full membership in the “enlightened society.” Eventually, you can even dispense with your calendar, because in this realm, there is no change. Time never passes. Troublesome events never occur in this gated community. You are safe in your place, and the uniformed security guards drive by four times a day and four times a night. Because the religious life is a total commitment that pays off in complete contentment.

The Joy of Belonging

The disadvantage of moving into such an ideal realm seem to have escaped the people who have been moving into these conceptual communities. It does not occur to most of them that the invisible pyramid that they are laboring to construct is actually a monument to the ambitions of other people. The joy of laboring communally on a project that is supposed to bring universal satisfaction is often a relief from a life of individual striving in a world without meaning. Having been told all of our lives that there is some kind of meaning in life, and having been unable to find it for ourselves, we may be greatly relieved to have it provided.

Hidden Drawbacks of the Spiritual Tract-Home

But life, unfortunately, has a habit of intruding into our idealized realms. For all the promises we receive from those who sell us idealized homes in perfect psychic subdivisions, trouble seems unavoidable. The greatest problem is that almost all religions have their basis in belief systems that were evolved long before Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, or Einstein worked out the theory of relativity, or Bohr established the quantum nature of matter. Thus, we can only abide in these perfect mental habitations by ignoring the incongruency between scientifically-observed reality as we have grown up to know it, and the doctrinal formulations that guarantee our psychological comfort. We may discover terribly inconvenient, even terrifying aspects to our perfectly-designed abode – hell in the basement, an attic filled with strange deities speaking in foreign tongues, a backyard that stretches off into eternity, with strange figures stalking back and forth menacingly in the eternal twilight. And when you think about moving out, there’s that damned contract.

Finding Your Own Alternative

Yes, of course, you have to live somewhere. You have to have a view of the world. You have to have a comfortable sitting room to share with your friends, a kitchen to cook in, a bedroom in which to sleep and make love. But in designing that place, you should not let nostalgia be your guide. Nor should you look to move into a place just like the one your friends moved into last week. Rather, as I see it, you should do the minimum amount of construction possible, preserving as much of the original view as you can. Look for durable materials to build with, natural materials that don’t jar with the environment as you perceive it. Don’t be afraid of the world as you know it to be, and build a rational structure that reflects your own, genuine needs. True, there are no off-the-shelf blueprints for such a construction. But at least you won't become the victim of a pyramid scheme.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:10 am

Twilight of the Tulkus
by Charles Carreon
March 16, 2020







His Holiness did not explain his motives further, and the incurious press has neither inquired of his office nor engaged in conjecture. But let us think it through. This is a super-heavy thing to say, assuming it will get around to the Tibetan people, both those living in Tibet and in émigré communities around the world. To say his announcement will be a disappointment is a serious understatement. The central tenet of the faith has been removed. The Tibetan Atlas has submitted his resignation. The throne of Tibet will soon be vacant, because its next God King has prospectively abdicated. The skies of Tibetan Buddhist cosmology are shaking on their medieval foundations. If the Fouteenth Dalai Lama really believed himself to be the “tulku” of Chenrezig, the Father of Tibet, who has altruistically, intentionally reincarnated fourteen times to lead the Tibetans, he wouldn’t abdicate.


Chenrezig is a timeless figure. He’s not going to let some political changes on twenty-first century planet earth impede the fulfillment of his commitment to bring benefit to all living beings in general and Tibetans in particular. That would be backing down in the face of a worldly challenge, as Chenrezig would never do. Indeed, when the going gets tough, Chenrezig gets tougher, and becomes Hayagriva, whose wrath has been legendary for a thousand years, ever since he dealt with a traitor to the Buddha’s Sacred Doctrine by turning into a horse, riding straight up his anus, and out his mouth. While painful, Hayagriva’s wrathful therapy abruptly and totally rehabilitated the heretic, who attained Tibetan Buddhist liberation as the result of the apparently fatal rape.

This type of brutal spiritual parable often recurs in Tibetan Buddhism, because Tibetans were an extremely rough people. Although today, Tibetans are marketed as the spiritual athletes of the planet, this is a western fantasy. They have been better known throughout history by their neighbors as untameable brigands mostly likely to kill you on sight, who worship demons whose external forms appear as mountaintops, and to whom they offer simulated and non-simulated blood sacrifice. The Tibetan feudal system suffered from a shortage of arable land, so younger sons did not inherit, and rich and poor alike, one in four boys, were packed off to the monasteries, where the social divisions in the society at large were replicated. The abbots of major monasteries would all be tulkus, who enjoyed a plush lifestyle, eating much better, living in warmer, cleaner accommodations, enjoying an abundance of leisure.


Yes, the Dalai Lamas have been known to play rough -– the Fifth Dalai Lama made common cause with the Mongol conquerors to acquire monasteries and monks at the point of the sword. The Dalai Lamas have been treated roughly as well -– the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Dalai Lamas all died before reaching the age of majority. Their convenient deaths allowed Regents to rule uninterruptedly for nearly a hundred years, and malignant cliques within the Potala are presumed to have poisoned the young prelates. The situation of some tulkus today is little better. First, it is not beneficial to remove young children from their parents at an early age to be raised among male clergy. Second, hard evidence of sexual abuse in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries has come from many sources, eg., in 2013, Bhutanese health authorities were forced to distribute condoms at all Buddhist monastic schools to “stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV among young monks who are supposed to be celibate.”


Today, because the young tulkus have ceremonial value, and can be toured as spiritual entertainment in China, Europe, and the US, collecting substantial donations for the clerical impresarios who mount these international tours, many tulkus are raised in an excess of indulgence and wealth, as the irascible tulku Dzongsar carped in a typically rambling screed a few years back. Most American-born tulkus would fall into the class of the needlessly pampered. They are never discovered, like occasionally happened to the old Tibetan tulkus, to have been born into a farming family from the hustings; rather, they are uniformly the male offspring of lamas or of women who have carried on with lamas, in and out of wedlock. These innocent souls are discovered as tulkus in their toddler years, when brother lamas recognize each other’s offspring as divine in exchange for love donations and future reciprocal recognitions.

Unfortunately, these bizarre titles of Tibetan clerical royalty are of limited value in the modern world, and really of no value at all to those unwilling to mime the appearance of sanctity and conduct meditation retreats. While the recipients of these bizarre titles may enjoy marinating in the rote adulation bestowed by abject believers, they rarely “train in meditation,” and many clearly suffer from impostor syndrome. They simultaneously benefit from their titles and connections -– getting jobs with UNESCO and other NGOs like some of the multiple Trungpa tulkus -– and wish to come across as “ordinary people” who are “not full of themselves.” In other words, they have been backed into a lie that they had no part in creating and have no idea how to carry off.

Some of these young people try to throw it off, declaring they’re done with the sanctimonious pose, but then, they end up back in the mind-healing business, like a Spanish boy who was “recognized” as a tulku, trained in India at a monastery, rejected the indoctrination and proclaimed his training a form of captivity in a degenerate environment, and left his robes behind, only to succumb to the allure of guruhood again, which he seems to be pursuing against his own better judgment. Some cases end up like Dzongsar, a bitter, bile-spitting little man who exhibits a fascination with spiritual totalitarianism and a raunchy sexuality that many would say ill befits a cleric.

Others end up like the child that Chogyam Trungpa sired upon the body of a Tibetan nun, then abandoned in childhood -– Osel Rangdrol Mukpo, aka the Sakyong Mipham. No one would envy young Osel’s upbringing -– life in India must have been tough with his mother, who received no support from his father Chogyam, and worked on a road crew after Osel was born; however, it was probably better than the two years he spent in an orphanage in England while his father was litigating over his custody with a family of English Buddhists who believed Trungpa and his sixteen-year old bride were a bit too punk rock to be raising children. When Trungpa finally got custody of Osel and brought him to his Boulder, Colorado enclave, he was whisked into a weird world where his father was a god to legions of dazzled Americans, and spent most of his life in a booze & coke haze, delivering himself of unusual Buddhist lectures that wordsmith students pounded into core Buddhist bestsellers, the backbone of the Shambhala Publishing empire.

Osel was not trained extensively in meditation, and it is rumored by those present during his internment at the Karmapa’s monastery that he was an impulsive sort, more given to blasting about on his motorcycle than engaging the “three wisdoms” of “hearing, contemplation, and meditation” that ripen a lama’s spiritual wisdom. Osel was not at all prepared to lead a spiritual movement. Nevertheless, when Trungpa’s chosen Regent, Thomas Rich, fell into disgrace and killed two students with a sexually-administered dose of AIDS, the original Trungpa succession plan was scrapped, and Osel found himself in the role of Top Banana.

Ultimately, Osel’s legacy was consumed by the absurd excesses his father engineered into the social structure of his “Kalapa Kingdom.” The “Kalapa Court” was a locus of licentiousness during Trungpa’s life, a playground of sex, drugs and alcohol that ensnared seven women that Trungpa married. Trungpa had been married to Diana for a few years when he started marrying seven other women, and she played turnabout deftly, cohabiting with Mitchell Levy and bearing his child, Ashoka. The extra seven women, called “Sang Yum,” received marriage licenses from the Kalapa Kingdom, and comprised the core of Trungpa’s inner social circle. One young woman, inducted into an intimate relationship at an early age and married to Trungpa at 18, later committed suicide. Among those who remain, some are venerated as near-saints, and appear in gushing profiles as ideals of the spiritual woman on the website. Most of the surviving Sang Yum have kept their silence about the iniquities they observed and engaged in while serving as one-eighth of Trungpa’s sex life. One of the Sang Yum has broken silence, however, revealing Trungpa to be a cocaine addict, explaining, metabolically, how he could drink alcohol to extreme excess and remain mobile, if not ambulatory. This toxic lifestyle put an end to Trungpa’s earthly adventures at the age of 46 in 1987, but the shenanigans continued in the Kalapa Kingdom.

Trungpa’s love of intoxicants and an abundance of sexual encounters had spread throughout the group. Two teachers are currently incarcerated awaiting trial on charges of child molestation. Numerous others have been credibly accused of using their teacher status to extract sexual favors and obeisance from women and men. And Osel himself, the Sakyong, the monarch of his father’s spiritual kingdom, was outed in 2018 as the beneficiary of an entire system that, Weinstein-like, captured and sacrificed female followers to his drunken lust. Shambhala exhorts its followers to believe that their religion will someday take over the entire world and save it from a Moslem horde, which might seem a bizarre notion for modern American students to hold, but once you know that Trungpa was a rake and yet the founding saint of the religion, nothing is too crazy to believe. So just as sure as dogs come back and lick up their vomit, the Shambhala organization is moving with all deliberate speed to place Osel back on his throne, which, by the way, is ten feet high.

Asked about his father in a hagiographic video advertising Chogyam Trungpa’s “Crazy Wisdom” persona, Osel’s half-brother Gesar obliquely reveals that his father was a distant figure who gave him kingly respect, not fatherly affection: “My father respected me, and would listen to what I had to say. He treated me like a reincarnated lama -– like the king of another country.” Gesar has chosen not to act out the role of tulku, but wants to be a good Buddhist. Gesar’s half-brother Ashoka is the product of the loose sexual mores prevalent in Trungpa’s group, born to the extramarital union of Gesar’s mother Diana and Trungpa’s disciple Mitchell Levy. Ashoka has not donned Buddhist robes, currently is a staff reporter for the ACLU, and has enjoyed a series of plum jobs as a journalist, if his own webpage is accurate.

The son of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche was offered a job that might have seemed attractive to many -– to take over the guidance of the spiritual flock amassed by his father, numbering into the thousands. But he was born in Italy to an Italian mother, his name is Yeshi Silvano Namkhai, and he got himself a western education and a job with IBM. In the movie, “My Reincarnation,” Silvano is depicted as a highly conflicted person. Silvano’s father is another distant type. The old lama grew up in a monastery from childhood, and although he was groomed to play father figure to thousands, and obviously does that job well, he didn’t bounce his kids on his knee while singing silly songs, or read them stories before bedtime. There’s this huge gap between father and son, and then the son is told that he’s a tulku. Silvano even goes off to Tibet and meets people who think he’s a reincarnation of their former guru. These people make it clear that they sacrificed much to care for his former incarnation. But now, what can he do for them? He doesn’t speak the language, he doesn’t know the rituals, he’s a hollow shell. In “My Reincarnation,” the narrative arc leads us to think that he’s actually beginning to warm to the role of spiritual leader, and since his father’s death, he has taken on the leadership role in the community; however, there are reasons to believe that his engagement is strictly limited by his own awareness of the limits to his personal commitment to the role.

For example, this April, Silvano was planning on giving a “transmission” of his father’s teachings, but only to those who have never received the transmission before (excluding all old students), and only in Italian (no translation provided). This is a strangely provisional approach to propagating a religion that I would venture to say springs more from Silvano’s respect for his father than from any inner impulse to teach Buddhism. Finding himself put upon by hundreds of people who say, “Don’t let your father’s lineage die,” he has given in, and is going to deliver a “transmission.” But such a transmission is more in the nature of a placebo than anything else. His father’s students are looking to Silvano to give them access to their own “true nature,” as his father taught. How can it be that they seriously believe they will receive it? Because they have psychologically transferred their power to the guru, and now need to get it back, even from a person who knows darn well he doesn’t have it.

Ironically, the Twelfth Trungpa tulku, whose eleventh incarnation as Chogyam Trungpa is lauded as the pre-eminent transmitter of the Kagyu lineage to the west, has been supplanted by his mere physical progeny, i.e., poor old little Osel. So now, the Twelfth Trungpa lives isolated in Tibet, neglected by his spiritual relatives. The Twelfth Trungpa has never been taught English, has begged on YouTube to have the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa translated into Tibetan so he can read them, and lives in an isolated monastery in Tibet. Meanwhile his American “relatives” give him the sop of faint praise, a stipend and some building funds, while the Sakyong parties like a rockstar, and a small coterie of insiders live well by exploiting the mass of students accumulated by the original “crazy yogi.” Memories are indeed short in the spiritual world, and the irony of the mistreatment of the Twelfth Trungpa tulku seems to elicit no comment from spiritual writers. While other Tibetan Buddhists rush to re-enthrone their deceased teachers and exalt them in their new life-form, Trungpa’s devotees frankly don’t seem to give a damn where Trungpa’s incarnation ended up. But it doesn’t matter, because Shambhala has simmered down to being what all religions are at bottom -- social clubs that profess a faith, collect donations and bequests, and issue insurance redeemable in the afterlife. American Tibetan Buddhists have been groomed to expect the tulku tradition to continue, but as Shambhala’s disappearance of the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku illustrates, the outlines of that tulku tradition are quite unclear. The fact that Shambhala students tolerate the conceptual sleight of hand that makes Trungpa disposable while all other tulkus are venerable tells you something about the effect of good mental programming. Get people to accept contradictory ideas early on, and eventually, they don’t even notice them.

Gullible students are a valued commodity, however, and they are not always present to make every modern tulku’s life comfortable. The tulku of Kalu Rinpoche, who had thousands of students worldwide, was routinely raped by multiple monks and nearly murdered by his tutor, a matter to which the young, victimized Tibetan boy testified on YouTube. It appears that such occurrences have not been unusual in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and the current pampering that tulkus receive in the west is essentially an anomaly. Dzongsar reports that, “As a child I had just two handmade toys that I made myself. Worse, my tutor confined me to one room not just for a few weeks or months but for a whole year, so that even going to the toilet became a long awaited excursion. We also suffered regular verbal and physical abuse that went as far as making us bleed from the head and whipping us with nettles.”


Tulkus aren’t the only ones abused in this system. Some people pretend to be tulkus, and pay lamas to agree that they are tulkus, in order to wield mind-control powers over gullible students, who will accept any type of abuse from people who are called “Rinpoche,” the honorific that is properly applied only to reincarnated tulkus. Sogyal formerly-known-as-RInpoche is the scariest case of a self-annointed tulku disporting himself like a wolf among the spiritual sheep. Sogyal Lakar was born to a family of hereditary retainers for the legendary Nyingmapa tulku, Dudjom Rinpoche, and educated by Jesuits in India. His first efforts at establishing himself in the spiritual fields of America misfired, and after he was sued for sexual assault in California, he decamped for Britain, where his schtick found a warm reception. Still, nobody recognized him as an altruistically, intentionally reincarnated being until he began generating large numbers –- as in sales of his “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying,” ghostwritten by Andrew Harvey, a British writer who has published a number of books with spiritual themes, none of which sold anywhere near as well as what he wrote for Sogyal. The dynamic of branding has tremendous power in the spiritual field, where devotees will vacuum up all of the literature offered by a popular teacher, often in a first rush of enthusiasm, sometimes over a lifetime of deepening devotion. Besides publishing a runaway spiritual bestseller, Sogyal had other techniques for gathering disciples.

First, he got folks to call him Rinpoche. It may have seemed a harmless indulgence to the lamas who knew he was lying, which was all of them, given how much money he could spread around. An invitation from Sogyal to teach at a Rigpa center could provide a Tibetan lama with more money in a weekend than he would otherwise make all year. Sogyal also targeted the vulnerable for sexual and financial predation. He preyed upon the bereaved, using his bona fides as a Tibetan lama to enviegle his way into the confidence of those who had lost their loved ones. Sometimes women weeping for their lost loved ones were subjected to crass advances, or worse. He demanded sex and got it from the willing and the unwilling alike. Sogyal often threatened students with hell in the afterlife, a serious threat when leveled by a Rinpoche, whose actions are presumed to carry weight with the karmic authorities. When his desires for worldly comforts, food, and lavish amenities were not swiftly fulfilled, he struck students, sometimes causing serious injury, and always causing psychological pain.

A lawfirm hired by Rigpa Foundation, the organization Sogyal founded to spread Tibetan Buddhist teachings, advised Rigpa’s leadership to separate the corporation from Sogyal permanently, because it had discovered pervasive evidence not only of Sogyal’s direct misconduct, but of widespread enabling of abuse, denial of its existence, and retaliation against those who complained about the sick situation. A trustee of Rigpa, Patrick Gaffney, was banned from serving on the nonprofit board after the UK’s Charity Commission investigated, and found Gaffney “had knowledge of instances [of] sexual and physical abuse against students [and] failed to take appropriate action and is therefore responsible for misconduct … in administration of the charity.” Nor was Gaffney alone. After the entire affair had burst like a pustulent boil on the front pages of the world periodicals, a considerable group of high-level followers wrote a letter to the Board asking for Sogyal to be reinstated as Rigpa’s head. Sogyal’s madness had corrupted an entire organization.


After this discussion, we might ask ourselves again why the Dalai Lama declared his own reincarnations at an end. First, he might have reflected on the psychological cost to the young men, like himself, who are recruited for these strange jobs without consent. Second, he might have considered whether creating tulkus serves any use in the modern world, where they aren’t needed to serve as the abbots for huge monasteries. Third, he could have reflected on how badly some of the new tulkus are doing, and have seen that when tulkus are created for no purpose, they may suffer from a lack of clear mission or purpose, perhaps for their entire lives. Fourth, he could have reflected on how the misuse of the tulku doctrine causes injury to everyone when lamas engage in sexual, physical and financial abuse of their students. Fifth, he could have reflected on how, since tulkus have no real purpose, the doctrine will tend to be used by pious frauds who adopt the name of tulku for selfish purposes, which will bring Tibetan Buddhism into discredit, and render it an inappropriate vehicle for sharing his message of compassion and humanism. Sixth, he could have considered how the Chinese and his other political opponents will make the next Dalai Lama’s selection a circus, and that he will not be around to make it turn out right. Seventh, he might have realized that the tradition of “recognizing” tulkus such as the Dalaia Lama, is inherently a vehicle subject to manipulation by deception, and should be put to rest before he dies.

Considering the first question, the Dalai Lama would certainly probably agree that kidnapping young boys early in life and grooming them to be abbots might have been somewhat functional in Tibet’s feudal theocracy, but there’s no need for that sacrifice anymore. The Chinese have utterly altered the society, and the centers of culture are no longer isolated monasteries lodged in craggy mountain ranges, requiring the stabilizing belief in an enduring local ruler who reincarnates to maintain the ritual practices that assure good fortune on earth. Estimates made by China in the 1950s placed 24% of Tibet’s male population in monasteries, approximately 120,000 monks in 2,700 monasteries. (M.C. Goldstein, Tibetan Buddhism and Mass Monasticism) The Chinese have reduced the monastic population to 46,000, still a substantial number, but due to Han immigration from China, there are now 3.18 Million people in Tibet, so their influence on society is no longer vital. In truth and in fact, continued fidelity to the image of the Dalai Lama as Lord Chenrezig, the God King of Tibet, while a source of comfort to many of the faithful no doubt, seems unlikely to bring substantial benefit to the Land of Snows.

Second, the Dalai Lama could see that making tulkus is not in any way necessary to the propagation of the Buddhist Dharma, as he has formulated it, which is a form of non-sectarian humanism with an emphasis on compassion and optimism, and a meditation practice founded in “mindfulness,” a practice style that is more common to Thailand and Burma than Tibet. The colorful gods and demons who ruled Tibet with splendor and terror are not making the jump from their land of origin to the west, and for good reason. The Tibetan sorcerers would contend with bad weather by casting spells, legendarily standing on a mountaintop going toe to toe with demons, being battered with hail and snow to fight them with the magic of the Lotus-Born Guru. Ah, those were the days, and they’re gone forever. Even the staunchest Tibetan Buddhist doesn’t think we’re going to exorcise our way out of global warming. Just as we have no place for sorcerers, so we have no need for tulkus. If gurus want to pass their students on to their children, there’s nothing to stop them –- they don’t need to pretend their children are divine. Zen teachers have passed temple abbot positions down through a hereditary system for centuries. The famed Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s father was a Zen master, and he ultimately took over the family temple after serving elsewhere, and before traveling to establish Zen Center San Francisco, and the Tassajara and Green Gulch monasteries.

Third, considering whether it is good for the tulkus to be created to live in a world that doesn’t need them, he has probably seen enough of the results. There was a time, from the 1970s into the first decade of this century, when there was a lot of enthusiasm for traditional Tibetan Buddhism. Americans and Europeans were excited by the idea that tulkus might be born into American and European Buddhist families, and indeed, they have been recognized. But the crop has pretty much rotted in the basket. As we’ve discussed above, these young men are lost, having been inducted into a system that no longer exists except for sentimental purposes. If they take themselves seriously, they risk becoming corrupted by an idea in which they have no basis for real belief. None of these boys “remembers their past life.” Consider the strangeness of the Twelfth Trungpa’s plea to be able to read the works of the Eleventh Trungpa in Tibetan. For heaven’s sake, the whole purpose of being an intentionally reborn being was to remember the wisdom from your past lives! If you need to read books to learn this stuff, where’s the inherent wisdom? So being called a tulku is actually just a ticket to becoming disconnected from reality.

Not only Tibetans can be afflicted with the tulku delusion. Plenty of westerners are afflicted by the belief that they attained wisdom in past lives and are here to dispense it. For example, a couple of years ago, I ran into a man in his fifties whom I have known for thirty years. A fringe player in the Oregon Buddhist community, he was the big fellow with the deficit of smarts who tagged along, drove cars, hauled loads, smiled, bowed, and basked in every ounce of love that ever came his way from the lamas. Unfortunately, one of them heedlessly told him that he was actually a tulku. Ever since then, this poor man has felt cheated out of the assistance that he has been lead to believe tulkus should receive. He desires fervently to be recognized by others as a saintly man, so much so that he’s become lonely, isolated, resentful, and frankly lost. Stories like these are far from uncommon, because many lamas will use this sort of flattery to extract favors from the gullible, who allow themselves to be paid for labor and devotion in false praise. Like a fetish that gives pleasure merely from being handled and gazed upon, the delusion that one possesses inherent spiritual eminence feeds a spiritual narcissism that is no less toxic than the worldly variety.

Fourth, there have been enough stories of recognized and unrecognized tulkus abusing their students, and the Dalai Lama has not been pleased by any of them. He hasn’t said much about them, either, but that is probably because the massive pedophile scandal swallowing the Catholic Church dominates the airwaves, and a compliant press never asks the Dalai Lama anything embarrassing. But he has to see that the conduct of Sogyal, Trungpa and Osel Mukpo has injured their students and besmirched the Buddhist doctrine. So he may not say much about it, but he certainly has it in mind.

Fifth, the continued existence of the tulku tradition corrupts lamas into selling recognitions, and results in the devaluation of the entire concept of Tibetan Buddhism, when gauche American clowns ape the ecclesiastical elite. The absurd “recognition” of Steven Seagal, now recognized as one of Hollywood’s merry band of celebrity rapists, is a classic example. Seagal has always been a self-impressed blowhard whose primary gift is his enormous body, his ability to use it to kill people, and his willingness to display that skill in dreadful movies where the body count is the measure of Seagal’s star achievement. The same lama who recognized Seagal also recognized a woman whose given name was Alice Zeoli, who renamed herself Catherine Burroughs and became a Washington DC psychic catering to the spiritual element in the nation’s capitol, then snagged a tulkuship and become Akon Jetsun Norbu Lhamo, aka Jetsunma, aka “The Buddha from Brooklyn,” as Martha Sherrill’s book on the woman is entitled. Zeoli fled Maryland after being charged with beating one of the nuns in her compound, and has found an appropriate perch in the land where anything might be true –- Sedona, Arizona.

Sixth, the Chinese are wily adversaries who have been playing politics with Tibet for a couple of millennia. They have conquered the land, they are subjugating the people and flooding the region with the Han ethnic Chinese settlers, and they regulated Buddhism in Tibet as they do in China. Temples require licenses to operate, their doctrines are subject to censorship, and the monastic population has been greatly reduced, initially by outright murder and imprisonment, and today by the imposition of coercive forces usually less extreme. The Chinese have always exercised as much control as possible over Tibetan reincarnations. The Panchen Lama’s latest rebirth was dictated by the Chinese. There are two Karmapa tulkus, because the Chinese chose one, and a Tibetan faction chose another, and both have continued to represent themselves as the Seventeenth Karmapa. Tai Situ, a high Kagyu lama, has made himself very comfortable as a creator of fake tulkus for power and profit, and he has close Chinese connections. Thus, the manipulation of the next Dalai Lama’s birth by the Chinese is a foregone conclusion.

Seventh, death makes fools of us all when we try to exercise control from the grave. It just doesn’t work. We control the earth while we live, and then death takes our power and hands in to the next generation. Chogyam Trungpa thought he could control the future. He made his intentions crystal clear, and it wasn’t to spend his next incarnation as the Twelfth Trungpa in a remote monastery in Tibet, uneducated in the English language, and ignored by the students of his Eleventh incarnation. He trusted his boyfriend Thomas Rich, a lascivious bisexual with whom Trungpa may have had intimacies, to serve as his Regent, and trusted his lawyer, Alexander Halpern, to fulfill his intentions. But Halpern is a practical man, who provides legal advice to the Dalai Lama and many other Tibetan lamas, and Halpern unloaded the bad press associated with Trungpa’s name deftly and permanently, cutting the Twelfth Trungpa out of the action by changing the Articles of Incorporation, structuring authority around Osel Mukpo, and changing the name of the corporation from Vajradhatu to Shambhala. Everything is now precisely as the Eleventh Trungpa did not want it to be. He is on the outside, his blood kin on the inside. The Dalai Lama can see these dynamics could afflict his own succession. The Fifteenth Dalai Lama could be chosen by China, and put to work undoing the current Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s life work. Questions arise, as well. Presumably, the Fifteenth Dalai Lama would be the ruler of the Tibetan Government in Exile, and from that position, he could declare the existence of Tibet null and void. The world would not shift in its course, if he did.

Tibet is in fact, already a historic relic. As the source of virtually all of the rivers that pour through China and India, it was inevitable that the Chinese would take over what they saw as an unoccupied square on the chessboard of the Great Game. The fantasies of Tibetan Buddhism were like rarefied species that live only on high mountains. As the Tibetans rightly feared when they left, their culture has not proven particularly useful to them or to the other inhabitants of the world beyond the mountains that ring the Land of Snows. Because this is the way of impermanence. Things arise based upon the confluence of conditions, and they disappear along with those conditions. The conditions that gave rise to the tulku tradition are gone, and with them all need for the tradition. The Dalai Lama has recognized this. Whether American Buddhists will is an open question.
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