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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Tainted Tibetan Opal Beads

Perhaps some other time, but right now, thinking about the licentiousness of some Buddhist monks who are working in America, I cannot comment on the genuine insights and benefits that I gained from studying Buddhism for several years in my middle age. I do not identify as Buddhist.

The Tibetan Opal bracelet that I was given was of milky-white opal stones, pretty but without the play-of-color typically found in opals. The unhappy, gentle American-Buddhist woman who thrust it into my hands said, "He told me to give it to you." She had worn it on her wrist, now it was to be on mine. I had never even spoken to the old reprobate monk who lead our local temple, what did he expect to accomplish?

I had been a member of this Buddhist temple for quite a while, attending meditation services, learning to meditate for up to an hour without movement, learning to control my mind, participating in chanting sessions, socializing, and taking instruction up to a certain level. I had been pressured into meeting the monk who oversaw Buddhism in the United States in a private session in a very small room, sitting with my knees crossed in lotus position inches from his knees crossed in lotus position, on a rug on the floor without either of us speaking, which was quite peculiar. I greeted him but I had nothing else to say. I do not know why he was silent for such a long time. I eventually got up and left. Later, in a small group session I met the 14th and current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso Rinpoche when he visited the Buddhist temples in Columbus, Ohio. I was confused because it was winter and the Dalai Lama was wearing sleeveless, shabby robes and scuffed, broken-down shoes, and the Dalai Lama is known to be fabulously wealth.* I do not want to give offense but his derelict appearance seemed to be a deception to elicit donations. I could not relate to him other than to give a childish wave and a silent, saccharin smile from the rear of the group of other seekers of the Dharma crowding up to him. He was with us less than five minutes, he whispered and laughed, he shook a few hands (not mine), he gave a frail wave and was gone.

So, when that unhappy lady gave me what was probably the local monk's illicit love token**, I took the bracelet so that the monk could not deploy it again, and I left the Buddhist temple never to return. I unstrung the bracelet to untaint the opals and I put them into a small jar with some other pretty beads. I gave it without explanation to a young woman who seemed discouraged, "Here, maybe these pretty beads will cheer you up." They did.


* As of 2021, Dalai Lama’s net worth is estimated to be roughly $150 million."

**"Celibacy in Buddhism: Why Most Buddhist Nuns and Monks Are Celibate" Source:

Tainted Buddhist Beads

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2021



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