Mr. Mick Brown
c/o Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 38, Soho Square London
WID 3HB United Kingdom
Dear Mr. Brown:
Thank you for your letter of 29th July 2004. My understanding from your reply is that you will stand by the words you used in the description (of the $25,000 donation given to me by a New York City lady), and that your source has reconfirmed that they are ‘entirely accurate’.
But ‘accuracy’ is not the issue here. The real issue is Honesty: i.e. whether your source is honest or not, if indeed it ever existed. My questions are therefore: What is it that makes you believe his words more than mine? What is it that makes you warm to his story while you failed to mention it to me even when you had the perfect chance to do so in Delhi – to double-check the story – before you wrote it down for publication? Does due diligence not mean anything to you? Does it not require you as a professional to check and double-check your stories, always and whenever possible? I cannot see how you could have avoided, or neglected to bring it up with me since clearly you think it so important that you must include it in your book.
In these circumstances, the only conclusion that I can think of is that your attitude toward me (the subject and target of your reportage) is deliberate and dismissive – so appalling is it in fact that it forces me to wonder if you had actually thought I was unfit to speak for myself!
Since you have directed your words at me – words that I disagree with – I have therefore every right to ask: By what reason has your alleged source or sources had you so convinced that you actually saw fit to disregard my words outright?
For the sake of argument: Assuming that I do have this ‘gift for raising funds’ through my ‘enormous charm and personality’ and assuming, therefore, that as a result this $25,000 was donated to me: I would be interested to know – and you are the only person who could help – why this un-named or nameless Western devotee was present to observe the transaction (my charm for her money as you insinuate in the book) taking place.
If this devotee exists, then can you please tell me whose devotee is he? If he is my devotee, then he should know me, and I should know him (or is it ‘her’?) – so what is stopping you from telling his name? If he forbids you to give his name lest I found out who was talking behind my back, then he would be a plain fool to have talked to you, a reporter, in the first place.
However, if he is a devotee of another lama who comments to an independent reporter on my donation, surely then he must have an axe to grind where I am concerned. For is it not true that spiritual leaders around the world from time to time receive donations from their well-wishers and devotees? If that is the case, then what good reason did he have to make my donation a special case for treatment in your book? If this explanation still does not satisfy you, then the other possibility I could think of is that this person was the carrier of the money for the lady but at the last minute decided to pocket the money himself, which goes to show – if that assumption is right – that the carrier knew me quite well. If that was the case, then of course this person would have every reason to make that sort of comments, and make them in advance – before he would be discovered; in other words he used you for his own purposes.
When all this is taken into consideration, is it not plain that your book has thrown up all kinds of contradictions that you will have to answer for? But I should not put all the blame on you for you are just a ‘fair and impartial’ reporter. So I will turn to your source instead: Is this ‘Western devotee’ honest and honorable? Does he have a name? If so, should you not tell it?
I think you should, since your service to this whole enterprise is in any case voluntary, I will therefore not hesitate with my request; and since, especially, I have two reasons to demand it, namely, 1) in order that I may thank this lady by whose generosity the donation was given; and 2) that I may fulfill the wish of the donor.