A former Dorje Shugden follower’s thoughts

Introduction

13th Kundeling Rinpoche Tagtsha Jetung Rinpoche

The self-proclaimed “His Holiness 13th Kundeling Rinpoche Tagtsha Jetung Rinpoche” aka Nga-Lama (“I am a lama”) or Lobsang Yeshi Rinpoche

After watching the France24 TV contribution and reading the comments by Shugden followers who label again a respected Buddhist master, here Samdhong Rinpoche, as a liar just because he holds views which oppose Shugden followers’ understanding, I am somewhat sad about these wrong, misleading and non-Buddhist claims. Also seeing Kundeling Lama, one of my former teachers, who has never been recognized by HH the Dalai Lama as the authentic Kundeling Tulku but claims to be it with the support of Lama Gangchen and Dagom Rinpoche – who were also my past lamas – makes me feel very uncomfortable and sad. For 6 ½ years I followed Shugden Lamas and I was sucked into a dark swamp of self-deception, sectarianism, pride, elite-group thinking and heavy hostility towards HH the Dalai Lama by people who claimed to hold the “pure and stainless tradition of Je Tsongkhapa” – who himself never taught Shugden worship – I feel it is not correct to restrain to pass on some inside information I know.

In general I think it is nowadays common knowledge that Tibet has never been a Shangri-la.* There were power struggles, intrigues and violence, and certain aspects of Tibet’s history are as ordinary as the history of other countries too. On the other hand Tibet has raised a certain amount of highly developed and realised practitioners and Buddhist masters and vast amounts of profound Buddhist teachings, rooted in Indian Buddhism – insights – the Western world can now really enjoy or just make use of.** Although Tibetans have in general much respect to their spiritual masters, like Padmasambhava or the Dalai Lamas, they are also a folk with some radical tendencies. This has been stated by Dzogchen Rinpoche and other Tibetan Buddhist masters and it becomes more evident reading Tibetan history. Also H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama states in his autobiography Freedom in Exile (Dalai Lama 1990 : 9), “Tibetans are by nature quite aggressive people and quite warlike”. So those leading Tibet, like the Dalai Lamas – but also other former regents, are faced with many challenges from within Tibet and from outside Tibet.

Buddhism had a deep impact on the Tibetans, their life and culture. Sir Charles Bell states that since the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet, Tibetans have stopped to invade other countries. Though once a successful warrior nation, the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet and the practice of it led the Tibetans to “abandon their military conquests; they have never attacked any nation; indeed, they have been to unable to defend their own.” (Sir Charles Bell in “Portrait of a Dalai Lama“, 1987:34). Bell is of the opinion that

They experienced a real change of heart, which in Britain and Europe has been so often on the lips of men and women, but has not penetrated within. Buddhism has done for Tibet what Christianity, in spite of high moral code, has failed to do for the nations of Europe. It may be said that the European nations have always been too aggressive and warlike. But so were the Tibetans until they were converted to Buddhism.

Tibet gave up conquest and worldly power, not – as happens with most empires – for economic reasons or lack of military strength; but for religion, and religion only. (Bell 1987:34)

Events and history have to be put into proper perspective.

The 6th and 9th-12th Dalai Lamas had only a very short lives, living to just 9-24 years old and some assume that some of these incarnations were probably murdered. The 13th Dalai Lama can be depicted as a great reformer who tried to improve or modernize the country for the sake of the Tibetan people. He was opposed by many very conservative Gelug purists who claimed e.g. playing football is as bad as playing with the head of the Buddha. For these religious backward conservatives all things representing the old Tibet and its feudal system was something good, genuine and authentic and all reforms or modern thoughts or ideas were made by mara (the devil). When Gendun Cheophel wrote the first realistic account of Tibetan history, stopping all the tales of fantasy – like in Tibet 1000 stupas were built in one day – his book was forbidden. Gendun Choephel, one of the outstanding intellectuals of Tibet, was finally put into prison, not by the 13th Dalai Lama but by the aristocrats and their conservative Lamas. (See also Angry Monk) He was released from prison as the result of a general amnesty proclaimed in the name of the current 14th Dalai Lama, who was then fifteen years old. The 5th, 13th and the 14th Dalai Lama now being accused by Shugden followers of being the backward force of Tibet are rather the most outstanding and open leaders of a better, united and open Tibet and their activities were undermined and are still undermined by narrow minded Shugden fanatics. Reading the Dalai Lama’s works, biographies and the history of Tibet this is just an obvious fact although the Western Shugden Society tries to tell the world the opposite.

“[..] as Goldstein masterfully demonstrated—the reforms of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama were sacrificed to the selfish interests of ultraconservative monasteries in and around Lhasa.” (Dodin, Räther 2001: 398)

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

The highly controversial Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Some Shugden followers like Kundeling Lama or Geshe Kelsang Gyatso try to make their Western followers believe that all the problems in Tibet, including the Shugden issue, were or are due to the leadership of the Dalai Lamas, a view which is plain wrong. Lhasa’s influence in Tibet has never been very strong and the history and the culture, temper or lifestyle of Tibetans is far more complex than they suggest. Also the power structure in Tibet is far more complex, only few of the fourteen Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet and if they did then only for some years. For someone who is realistic and who knows the history of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism even a little it is impossible to put the blame on the Dalai Lamas rather such a person must acknowledge the skills and abilities of the Dalai Lamas, especially the 5th, 13th and 14th Dalai Lama to balance the power struggles in Tibet and to work hard for the welfare of the majority of the Tibetans.

According to Geshe Jampa Gyatso, an eminent Gelug scholar and Buddhist master, from Shugden’s inception 360 years ago the practice was used to oppose the Dalai Lamas’ activities. As the 5th and 13th Dalai Lamas were great reformers who tried to unite the different tribes in Tibet were local warlords ruled, the 14th Dalai Lama continues this heritage and is again opposed – even in the most dark age Tibet has ever been faced with – by Shugden lamas and their followers. I think HH the Dalai Lama does really his best and it will be hard not to acknowledge that he is one of the rare beings who holds very broad, open minded and differentiated views and that his actions are based on compassion and not self-interest. The many international honours and respect he receives are a testimony of this. (For a differentiated portray of the 14th Dalai Lama one may read  Pico Iyer’s “The Open Road.”)

Norman claims that “It was in no small part due to the success of the Dorje Shugden movement that the Thirteenth [Dalai Lama] ultimately failed in his attempt not only to build a capable army but also to modernize Tibet.” (Norman 2008:351)

Some of the narrow minded Tibetan lamas have exported their narrow minded views in the West, as the master Dzongzar Khyentse Rinpoche has put it:

The lamas’ influence and dominance in Tibet have not only weakened many secular aspects of Tibetan life such as art, music and literature, in which the lamas have little interest, but in some cases degraded the Dharma as well. If it were not for Buddhism’s fundamental view of non-theism, the rule of the more narrow-minded lamas could be as tyrannical as that of the Taliban.

Despite their emphasis on an ecumenical attitude, many lamas encourage sectarianism by guarding their Tibetan disciples possessively and discouraging them from studying teachings from other traditions. Of course, they have a convenient excuse: their students will become too confused if they do this. Thus, many Tibetan students from one school have absolutely no idea of the other traditions; but that doesn’t seem to stop them slandering the others. As if it were not enough that they are doing this with Tibetans, the lamas have also coached Westerners in this sectarian game and they have been shockingly successful. They have also jealously guarded their Dharma centres in the West, although many are merely vehicles to generate financial support for the lamas and their monasteries back home. Supporting those Westerners who are genuinely pursuing the Dharma, or facilitating their studies, are not their primary interests. (East-West, West-East)

I think the complete issue is just a topic of cross-cultural-confusion and it should in no way imported to the West and it should be left to Tibetans to solve this problem as  Deepak Thapa suggested. The Western media may rejoice to report something controversial but who does this help really?

Some Tibetan Lamas gave too quickly teachings and practice in the West without understanding our cultural background and Westerners’ capacity. On the other hand Westerners are/were as naive as babies regarding complex Tibetan Buddhism. On top of that some lamas, like Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, used this Shugden practice and the Guru-Yoga to make themselves powerful and to manipulate their students, and those students were naive enough to follow them, just due to a lack of understanding of the Dharma and a lack of courage to question things, based on blind faith, which is encouraged by those lamas. (This blog has already pointed out some of this controversial stuff.)

Monasticism and Western Society

Another issue in this cross-cultural confusion is about how monastic communities are run on the basis of the Vinaya. For those who understand this topic, there is no problem at all to accept, that when the majority of monastics disagrees with Shugden worship and they wish that it is not practised in their monasteries, and this wish is supported by the abbots and the highest spiritual authorities, like HH the Dalai Lama the highest Gelug Tulku, then it is correct to ban the Shugden-practice from the monasteries. This is not against any rule or democracy.

The monks who were finally expelled (only 180 from 5000 in Sera Monastery) now build their own monastery. NKT has its own place in the West since 1991, so why highlight that issue?

However watching the France24 contribution, that there are some shops who announce not to serve those monks I feel not comfortable either. I see this also as too radical. On the other hand every country and community has their difficulties to deal with and to accept fundamentalists and their stubborn views the more when they are involved in violence. (Prof. Thurman once named Shugden followers “the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism”, I think this is a heavy exaggeration but it is also not completely untrue.) Because there are victims mainly on the side of Shugden opponents it may be understandable that some Tibetans overreact – although this is not nice. In the past Shugden followers boast about the deity’s (Shugden’s) power being able to kill 23 government officials. The Head of the School of Dialectics, a 70 year old monk, close to the Dalai Lama, living near his place and an opponent of Shugden, has been killed – according to Indian Police (Interpol has issued wanted notices) he and two of his students were killed by Shugden followers. Is it not understandable that in such a difficult time, maybe Tibet’s darkest age, some Tibetans overreact?

Some Monastic Rules Related to that Issue

Once a decision has been made, the monks should follow it, this is in their rules, if they do not, they can be expelled, this is also in their rules. Further if they start to denounce the monastic community for their decision, this again is against their individual rules.

To make this more clear here some explanations of the rules these monks should respect, and at the end the advice of the previous Ganden Tripa, and an insight about the bad or unfair games of some Shugden Lamas. Checking this information, every one can judge for themselves what is correct, and what is wrong or at least that it is not that easy to judge as initial information by Shugden followers may suggest.

The Gelug master Geshe Rabten’s commentary on some of the most important monk’s vows:

10. Causing a Division within the sangha

For example: In a community of monks like this one, which is living in harmony. If one likes one group of monks but dislikes another, and one has the motivation to split these apart, and with this motivation spreads rumours, causes strife and so on. In such a case the sangha will send an emissary, to this person, telling him that his actions are causing, or leading to, a division within the sangha, and that this is an immensely evil and harmful action, and that he must stop such action. If the person does not listen, and carries right on, then two or more times the sangha will again say that this really must stop. At the conclusion of this entire process, if he still continues with this action, then this remainder occurs. Note that there has to be four or more gelongs to constitute there being a sangha, and four or more on each side for a division to be made.

11. Siding with a schismatic
In this case there is already one gelong who is setting about causing a division in the sangha. Then another person having the same motivation comes along and helps him; he also wants to cause that division. The sangha would then come to him as described in the previous remainder, and tell him that he must not help this person who is engaged in the harmful action, that he must resist it by all means. Then if he does not heed this he is asked twice more, and at the conclusion of these appeals if, despite all the efforts of the sangha, he still continues with this action, then this remainder occurs.

Question: Is this division caused when the division is caused or when the offending person refuses to stop trying to cause the division?
Answer: The latter is the case, an actual division does not have to be caused.
Question: Is causing a division in the sangha as described, the same as one of the Heinous Crimes of a similar name?
Answer: No. In the case of the Heinous Crime, the division one causes is such that it causes one section of the sangha to actually become non-Buddhist, to engage in something that is completely contradictory the Teachings of the Buddha.

12. Causing a lay people to lose faith in the sangha.
This remainder is committed when a gelong’s behavior has been such that it causes laypeople to lose faith in the sangha, and when he has ignored the three-fold appeal made to him by the sangha, who ask him to turn away from such action. For example: if a group of gelongs are invited to a householder’s home for a meal or similar, and amongst these gelongs there is one who acts in a very improper way, e.g. drinking, fighting and so on, then the sangha would say to him that he must stop, because such behaviour will cause a lot of anger and disgust on the part of the householder, which could cause him to abuse the sangha and indulge in other unwholesome activities, thus being very unfortunate all round. So he is told that he must stop, but he continues in his degrading behaviour and he then might, out of his anger (due to being told off by other gelongs), say that the sangha were acting hatefully towards him, out of jealousy and so on. Then the sangha would come to him three times and ask him to cease such activity, if he refuses their three-fold appeal then the remainder would occur.

In the above case there is mentioned the whole process necessary for a remainder to be incurred, but if one has that motivation, and goes in that direction, preparing for it, then there are many other downfalls incurred.

In the sojong it says, which means “preparation for the preparation” for committing one of these. So there are many downfalls that can be incurred before one commits the actual remainder. The defeats and remainders are the heaviest of all the vows and this is the reason why, during sojong, we say “preparation for preparing to do so” whereas for the lower ones we just say “just preparing to do so,”. This is because the first two categories are heaviest. So if one is going to rob a householder in Vevey, if one is just sitting here having the motivation to do so, that is committing the downfall of preparation for that defeat. To take the train there is committing more downfalls, walking along the street in that direction, more downfalls are committed all the time. The reason for this is that such actions are preparations for committing a defeat.

Question: If a person commits a defeat, does he cease to be a gelong?
Answer: Actually, no. One continues to be a gelong, What is cut is being a pure gelong, that is finished, but one is still a gelong and there is still a degenerated vow. So now if having committed one of these defeats, if after having done so one thinks that “I am no longer a gelong, that I am the same as a layman,” and then goes on doing the same sort of thing, more and more, then one just goes on getting one downfall after another.

13. Not heeding advice about your offences.
This remainder occurs when a gelong commits a downfall which is been seen by another person, and then the other person, with a motivation of compassion tells him that he must desist from such action, that this is a downfall with negative results. The gelong who has committed the downfall replies, “You don’t have to tell me that, I am completely pure,” denying the downfall. So after that the sangha will come to this gelong and tell him that it is obvious that he has committed the downfall, and that he must not deny it. If, after this approach, he persists in his denial, telling the others to mind their own business, then he commits this remainder.

Going back to the defeat of taking that which is not given: there has to be a motivation like “I want to steal this.” Without this, if one sees an article and one believes it to be one’s own, whereas it really belongs to someone else, this defeat does not occur. Similarly, if one thinks an article does not belong to anyone, if it was just lying around, this defeat does not occur.

As Geshe Rinpoche said before, to some the vinaya — the sila — is joyous, whereas for others it is miserable. The reason for this has been explained already. The vinaya is something that we have already agreed to guard ourselves with.

The manner of purifying a remainder is rather difficult. Firstly it must be confessed openly before the sangha. Then the sangha gives the person a number of tasks to do, for a specific length of time. He is also taken out of his position of seniority amongst the sangha and put at the bottom. He remains there while he carries out his tasks, and after some time, if he has pleased the sangha, and they feel that he has carried out his task properly, then again he comes before then, there is then a particular ceremony that is gone through, and then the vow is purified. So this is generally the way but nowadays the custom is no longer in use, for a number of reasons, and what should be done is that one should apply the Four Opponent Powers and practice such things as Vajrasattva practice. So by applying these opponent powers and doing purification practices, the broken vow can be purified.

Question: What about purifying a defeat?
Answer: With regards to restoring a defeat, there is a similar process to be gone through. There are two cases.
• If one commits a defeat and then tells no one, then there is no restoring the vow.
• If one does disclose it, confess it before the sangha, then again the person is taken from his position in seniority, put at the bottom, given a certain amount of work to do for a specific period, and then after that he goes before the sangha and he offers up his vows, he disrobes, and then he takes on new vows. However the best method is the Four Opponent Powers, which have to be practiced from the heart, not just reciting a mantra or something. There is no evil that cannot be purified by the Four Opponent Powers.

———

Of course Geshe Kelsang didn’t install the Vinaya, so nobody of his followers know it. But the expelled Tibetan monks who work now together with the Western Shugden Society they know the Vinaya. From my point of view, they turn more and more into a very sad and destructive direction.

The previous (100th) Ganden Tripa (Head of the Geluga Order), Lobsang Nyingma Rinpoche, stated:

“If it [Shugden] were a real protector, it should protect the people. There may not be any protector such as this, which needs to be protected by the people. Is it proper to disturb the peace and harmony by causing conflicts, unleashing terror and shooting demeanous words in order to please the Dharmapala? Does this fulfill the wishes of our great masters? Try to analyze and contemplate on the teachings that had been taught in the Lamrim [stages of path], Lojong [training of mind] and other scriptural texts. Does devoting time in framing detrimental plots and committing degrading act, which seems no different from the act of attacking monasteries wielding swords and spears and draining the holy robes of the Buddha with blood, fulfill the wishes of our great masters?”

and

“The Mahayana teachings advocate an altruistic attitude of sacrificing few for the sake of many. Thus why is it not possible for one, who acclaims oneself to be a Mahayana, to stop worshipping these dubious gods and deities for the sake and benefit of the Tibetans in whole and for the well-being of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In the Vinaya [Buddhist code of discipline], it is held that since a controversial issue is settled by picking the mandatory twig by “accepting the voice of many by the few” the resolution should be accepted by all. As it has been supported by ninety five percent it would be wise and advisable for the rest five percent to stop worshipping the deity keeping in mind that there exists provisions such as the four Severe Punishments [Nan tur bzhi], the seven Expulsions [Gnas dbyung bdun] and the four Convictions [Grangs gzhug bzhi] in the Vinaya [Code of Discipline].”

My Personal Witness Report of the Background of some of the Activities of some Shugden Lamas

For the case that anybody should think to follow Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Kundeling Rinpoche, Gangchen Rinpoche or the Delhi Shugden Society would be something worthwhile, something one can put faith in, something trustworthy; I’ll give now some personal background information, I was a witness of:

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong (the NKT nun right), now the Spiritual Director of the NKT and the Resident Teacher at Manjushri KMC, the Mother Center of Kadampa Buddhism.

When Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (GKG) came 2000 to Berlin to expel the NKT-representative Gen Kelsang Dechen, before his arrival, Gen Kelsang Dekyong and Gen Kelsang Kunsang gave us a letter. The letter was signed by GKG and claimed: she has stolen his centres, she has stolen his teachings, and concluded she is a very bad person and her actions are very bad. The style of the letter was quite similar to the  “21st Century Buddhist Dictator” (pp. 11-14) manifest of WSS. It sounded rude, aggressive, deluded, and everyone of us, based on common sense, said, this letter is not from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, this letter can never be written by an enlightened being. However, the letter was from GKG. Due to the similarities of this letter (similar line of arguments and accusations), with the “21st Century Dictator” manifest, I think, the latter was also written by GKG.

Here some background information about other Shugden Lamas, I met personally and their interconnections and actions. I wish to do that, because, when I left NKT 2000, I thought I escaped my hellish nightmare, but I was in a second one with the same taste, but other Shugden Lamas. After 2 1/2 years with them, by distancing from them completely, I was able to renew my spiritual path and to escape that “mandala of deception”, I was in.

Lama Dechen Losang Chöma

Gen Kelsang Dechen or “H.H. Lama Dechen Tulku Rinpoche”, now Lama Dechen Losang Chöma

Gen Kelsang Dechen, who was expelled by Geshe Kelsang in July 2000, had contacts with three Shugden Lamas: Kundeling Rinpoche, Lama Gangchen Rinpoche and Tritul Rinpoche. It is true that Kundeling Rinpoche wanted to recognize her as a Tulku, before she was expelled by GKG. A major role in that played Sumati Arya, a nun (at that time) from the Netherlands. (Most may know her from the website sumatiarya.nl)

I read most of the correspondence regarding this tulku stuff, so I know what I say. However when GKG asked them, all three denied any involvement. (see http://info-buddhismus.de/tibetanletter.pdf) This is at least wrong from the point of view of Kundeling Lama, because I read his letters personally, he supported her Tulku recognition, and Sumati Arya confirmed, that the other two Lamas agreed as well in the tulku recognition. In Bangalore at the place of Kundeling lama a semi-enthronement of Dechen was performed and this was reported and we were shown the pictures of that event.

Alexander Berzin, whom we asked later about that, suggested to understand that Tulku recognition as an unfair tactic of those three against GKG, he added some Tibetans can be like this.

Lama Gangchen Rinpoche

Lama Gangchen Rinpoche

After GKG expelled Dechen, we went to Lama Gangchen Rinpoche in Italy. There we heard from Geshe Lobsang Pende, that GKG actions were not the actions of a master at all and that his good motivation he had in the past turned into something bad. Lama Gangchen said to Dechen, instead of doing Vajrasattva retreat, she should go on to teach Buddhism, because “now is the time”. Dechen was curious about two things: Lama Gangchen’s close Chinese relations and that he asked her at a late time to come to his room, and wore “Mahasiddha cloths”, which she found inappropriate in the presence of a nun. (see also Forceful evacuation in Gangchen Monastery and Allegiance to the Dalai Lama and those who “become rich by opposing splittism”)

Kundeling Lama is not recognized by HH the Dalai Lama, who is the spiritual authority to recognize the Kundeling tulku, therefore the TGIE refers to Kundeling Lama as a self-proclaimed Lama. The Dalai Lama recognized someone else as the Kundeling tulku. Kundeling Lama (Lobsang Yeshi) received his longlife prayer and tulku recognition etc. from Gangchen Rinpoche and Dagom Rinpoche. (see http://www.kundeling.net/tagtsha.htm) Kundeling Lama, who was introduced to us by GKG as “a good friend”, said about Geshe Kelsang Gyatso ‘he acts like the dictator Adolf Hitler’. Kundeling Lama told this personally to me during a telephone call I had with him in 2000 after Geshe Kelsang Gyatso had expelled Ani Dechen accusing her of making businesses with Kundeling Lama and stealing his NKT centres and students.

Kundeling refused later to recognize Dechen as a Tulku, until she shows more “devotion” to him. When Kundeling gave a Yamantaka empowerment in our place, immediately after he finished, and I and another monk brought him back to his room, he said, we should bring Dechen, now to him, because he is now her master, and he wants to give her some instructions, and how our place (a huge castle: “Schloss Sommerswalde“) should be run.

The monk and I were shocked… then Dechen and Kundeling had a one hour quarrel about this, and when he insisted she should follow him, she was clever enough to say: there are different ways to take empowerments, I mainly received blessings. By this she defended, that he could take control over her and our place. (However at the end he was victorious over her, because she needed someone who had a big name and title to support her activities.)

Kundeling Lama (Lobsang Yeshi) and Dechen Losang Chöma (Carola Däumichen) sharing a throne in Päsewin / Brandenburg / Germany

Two Holinesses: Kundeling Lama (Lobsang Yeshi) and Dechen Losang Chöma (Carola Däumichen) sharing a throne in Päsewin / Brandenburg / Germany

Sumati Arya, who said to me that she is so happy that she participated to help to “recognize a tulku”, insisted, I should write a leaflet about Dechen and naming her Her Holiness Dechen Tulku Rinpoche. Her reason: when Dechen goes to Taiwan, this will help her to collect money for our place. When I asked Dechen about this, she said: ‘Yes, Her Eminence, Her Excellence or Her Holiness’, this is correct. So I did as she said and published that flyer. (Very interesting to be a witness of how easy and for what purpose ‘Holinesses’ come into existence.., also Kundeling Lama has a visiting card starting with “His Holiness”.) The former Gen Dechen transformed into Her Holiness, and Kundeling Rinpoche himself named her in letters, Lama Dechen Rinpoche. After complaints by other Buddhists I removed Her Holiness, now she is just Lama Dechen Rinpoche.

Dagom Rinpoche

Dagom Rinpoche

In 2002 we went to Dagom Rinpoche, who was seen as the highest of the Shugden Lamas, he kindly gave us Novice and Gelong ordination respectively. And, he wrote the longlife prayer for Dechen, stating she is “like the pure white snow mountain” “the stainless upholder of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings” and the like, also composing a name mantra for her.

Dechen was just a participant of the NKT teacher training programme for some years and only via correspondence course, lacking any proper education, and having only very few transmissions. I was surprised to see how easy one becomes an upholder in the Gelug school.

Now about ‘Her Holiness Dechen Tulku Rinpoche': From my understanding and investigation (I was more then six years with her together) she seems to be a mentally sick person. She suffers attacks of aggressions, using harsh words, including naming her disciples “you arsehole”, sometimes she has visions the world is going down or she sees “the sun in the sky of Je Tsongkhapa”. Two psychologists I know suggested that she may suffer a narcissistic personality disorder syndrome. (I passed this information also to Kundeling Lama in the hope he would help her and her students.) The system she established I see as far more dangerous and more destructive than this of NKT. Different members of her group had to go to a psychiatric health clinic, because of their suffering arising from that setting. However, she claims, all problems of those persons come from “faults in the Guru reliance”. My personal understanding is that the psychic signs of GKG and Dechen are not very different. Both think they are something very special and more intelligent and genuine practitioners as the Dalai Lama viewing him as “possessed by a Mara” and a “destroyer of the pure Buddhadharma”. (A view Kundeling lama also holds.)

When I recognized the abuse and sufferings in Dechen’s environment, I phoned with Lama Gangchen’s assistant, Cosy, in Italy. She strongly rejected anything, warning me that I speak about holy masters and that I accumulate so much negative karma, and she urged me to stop speaking. Then I told her, quite strict: “Now you listen to me, what I have to say, and you report it to Lama Gangchen”. I told her some of the strange and crazy stories I witnessed and she was really touched and became very silent. Then she said: But never tell this to other persons, when they hear it they will believe that Dorje Shugden followers are like a cult. I said to her: Lama Gangchen is responsible for this, because he gave Dechen allowance to teach, he should help her and the community. She strongly rejected. She said he would not be responsible “if I give a weapon to my neighbour, and he shoots someone, this is his responsibility, not my responsibility”. We ended with the agreement, that she informs Lama Gangchen.

When a Tibetan monk, Gelong J.G., became himself a victim of Dechen’s cult system, he wrote to me in an email about her:

Why I said you she’s not a Lama and even she is not a Nun because she never ordained properly with pure lineage and she always lies with her students. “I am this I’m that, it’s so pure and I’m very high reincarnation.” You can forget about all this talk. I knew from last year in front of protector it is really reincarnation or not when we went to lama Gangchen’s birthday in Italy. She is really not a proper Dharma teacher and she’s using Dharma tales and deceiving people there in Germany. It is really pretty sad they are many good monks and nuns but they are all under control of her. I think you know better than me and it’s very long story and I must stop here. Many greetings and best wishes for you and all of our friends from G.

This Tibetan monk is a disciple of Dagom Rinpoche and Kundeling lama, and he said to me, he had to hide his image of the Dalai Lama, so that Kundeling Rinpoche does not take it away from him. When later Kundeling found a photo of the Dalai Lama Kundeling insisted J.G. should give it to him, but he refused. (From all I met, J.G. was the most honest and clear among all Shugden followers I have ever met. I cherish his honesty and attitudes very much.)

I asked J.G. to report the abuse of Dechen to Dagom Rinpoche, and I wrote personally also to Dagom Rinpoche. J.G. reported to me that Dagom Rinpoche said: “I will go to a distance to Dechen”. However, he didn’t go to a distance, he supported her, and ordained all her followers, until he passed away. He also visited her in Berlin, as well as Kundeling and Lama Gangchen do.

Moreover Dechen was recognized by the Delhi based Dorje Shugden Society as an authentic Lama and received the Je Tsongkhapa award in 2006.

»The Tsongkhapa Award is being conferred on the Lama and Geshe who has been effectively contributing on Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Also, the Award recognize the recipient as a qualified Gelugpa Master.« (see http://info-buddhismus.de/tsongkhapa_award_big.jpg)

Does this sound like a spiritual path, or lamas and organisations one should follow or can rely on?
Not for me.

I am sorry that I offend all those involved, but this bad game of those people denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a “Liar”, “Hypocrite” etc. turning the facts upside down, I think I should not support by being silent. All the verbal mud they throw, their accusations of “liar”, “hypocrisy”, “religious intolerance” and “persecution” seem to me to be just their own projections arisen from their own deluded mind and questionable actions, being unable to discriminate holy beings from wrong gurus.

I learned my lesson and I am deeply grateful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was brave enough to make this Shugden-issue public and advising against it, this saved my spiritual lives.

I would not have said this in public without the basis of an actual public situation. I hope it contributes to get a better understanding of the background, and helps those misled to wake up.

I’ll conclude with some Dharma-quotes:

Dza Patrul Rinpoche in “Words of my perfect teacher”:

The Great Master of Oddiyana warns:

Not to examine the teacher
Is like drinking poison;
Not to examine the disciple
Is like leaping from a precipice.

You place your trust in your spiritual teacher for all your future lives. It is he who will teach you what to do and what not to do. If you encounter a false spiritual friend without examining him properly, you will be throwing away the possibility a person with faith has to accumulate merits for a whole lifetime, and the freedoms and advantages of the human existence, you have now obtained will be wasted. It is like being killed by a venomous serpent coiled beneath a tree that you approached, thinking what you saw was just the tree’s cool shadow.

By not examining a teacher with great care
The faithful waste their gathered merit.
Like taking for the shadow of a tree a vicious snake,
Beguiled, they lose the freedom they at last had found.

Prayers of Je Tsongkhapa (The Splendor of an Autumn Moon : The
Devotional Verse of Tsongkhapa):

May I be cared for by true spiritual friends,
filled with knowledge and insight,
sense stilled, minds controlled, loving, compassionate,
and with courage untiring in working for others.

May I never fall under sway
of false teachers and misleading friends
their flawed views of existence and nonexistence
well outside the Buddhas intention.

I pray that I listen insatiably
to countless teachings at the feet of a master,
single-handedly with logic unflawed,
prizing open scriptures’ meanings.

I pray that in no way I be misled
by unwholesome friends and deceiving Mara
but in care of true spiritual friends,
complete the enlightened way.

May I bring to the path praised by the Buddha
those lost and fallen onto wrong paths,
swayed by deluded teachers and misleading friends.

The head turned by dark forces
hinders experience of the joyful festival
that is the community of the Dharma life.
May I never encounter misleading friends,
in reality the cohorts of Mara.

Buddhist Ethics (Treasury of Knowledge) by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye

Avoiding Contrary, Harmful Companions

8.1 Obstructions of a harmful friend

“The harmful teacher is one of bad temperament, of little pure vision, great in dogmatism; he holds [his own view] as highest, praises himself, and denigrates others.”

In general, the nonspiritual teacher (mi-dge-ba’i bshes-gnyen) is a lama, teacher (mkhan-slob), dharma brother [or sister] (grogs-mched), and so forth—all those who are attached to the phenomena (snang) of this life, and who get involved in unvirtuous activity. Therefore, one must abandon the nonspiritual friend. In particular, although they have the manner of goodness in appearance, they cause you to be obstructed in your liberation.

The nonspiritual teacher has a bad temperament, little pure vision (dag-snang), is very dogmatic (phyogs-ris), holds as highest his view (lta-ba) as the only dharma, praises himself, slanders others, implicitly denigrates and rejects others’ systems (lugs) of dharma, and slanders the lama—the true wisdom teacher—who bears the burden of benefiting others. If you associate with those who are of this type, then, because one follows and gets accustomed to the nonspiritual teacher and his approach, his faults stain you by extension, and your mindstream (rgyud) gradually becomes negative. Illustrating this point, it has been said in the Vinaya Scripture:

“A fish in front of a person is rotting and is tightly wrapped with kusha grass. If that [package] is not moved for a long time, the kusha itself also becomes like that. Like that [kusha grass], by following the sinful teacher, you will always become like him.”

Therefore, as it has been said in The Sutra of the True Dharma of Clear Recollection (mDo dran-pa nyer-bzhag; Saddharmanusmriti-upasthana):

“As the chief among the obstructors (bar-du gcod-pa) of all virtuous qualities is the sinful teacher, one should abandon being associated with him, speaking with him, or even being touched by his shadow.”

In every aspect one should be diligent in rejecting the sinful teacher.

Notes

* Tibet was also no feudal hell on earth led by a brutal theocracy as some like to misrepresent it. Tibet seems to invite the projections of Westerners, and in in the case of China’s propaganda misrepresentations of Tibet, they are needed to justify China’s invasion and occupation of Tibet as a “liberation”. A highly recommendable book shedding light on these and other misrepresentations of Tibet is Imagining Tibet – Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies ed. by Thierry Dodin & Heinz Räther.

** I look here solely from a perspective of the influence of Buddhism or Tibetan Buddhism. I am aware that Bön is the old religion of Tibet, that there are many Bön masters, and that the Bön tradition has also a very rich heritage and culture. There are of course also Christian, Muslim, Communist and Atheist Tibetans. However, for this post such a differentiation seems not to be needed.

For a better background of the present state of the Shugden Controversy in Tibet, India and Western countries see:

updated: August 25, 2012 (images were added)

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Comments

  1. “I learned my lesson and I am deeply grateful to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was brave enough to make this Shugden-issue public and advising against it, this saved my spiritual lifes.”

    Yes.

    But as the Dalai Lama said, if he had been firmer in the late 70’s, probably fewer people would get duped into worshipping Shugden.

    In one of his speeches, the Dalai Lama says,

    “Now, think. I first started placing restrictions on Dholgyal about seventeen or eighteen years ago. If, to begin with, I had been firmer, it is possible that by this time there would not be much problem. To be frank, Kalsang Gyatso was not well established in England at that time. Twenty years ago too, Sera Med’s Gangchen Lama, was not well established either. Now, I am being quite clear about it. Similarly, twenty years ago, Gonsar Rinpoche was yet to put down any roots. Likewise, Yongkyab Rinpoche of Sera Med and Serkong Tritul from Ganden Jangtse. It is they who are presently spearheading (the opposition). So, if we had imposed strict restrictions twenty years ago and implemented them effectively, we would not have these problems now.

    However, since the restrictions we made nearly twenty years ago were ineffective, even though we did try, this whole mess has occurred. But imagine what would happen if yet another ten or twenty years were to pass (without taking action). If this were something that did not need to be restricted to start with, I would not have done so, and if I had I would have been wrong. But it is quite clear that something had to be done, whether you look at it from the point of view of accounts of the past, or the real situation at present, or from personal experiences. Whatever angle you look at it from, something had to be done. Therefore, the restrictions that I started to impose about two years ago actually came a bit late rather than too early. Once something like this has started, it is like a disease. When a large tumour has already grown, it will be painful to cut it out. It won’t be easy. However, if the tumour is not removed, it can threaten your life. Therefore, it is vital that it should be removed.” (Dharamsala Teaching, Oct. 97)

    http://dalailama.com/page.155.htm

    Best

    Shaza

  2. lightmind says:

    What you perceive, Tenzin, is a projection of you own mind. Can you say that the practice of Shugden is inherently bad? Your own experiences of 6 and a half years of Shugden lamas was obviously not a healthy period for you. Could we generalize and say this therefore must be true for all? My own experience of 7 years of Shugden Lamas has been very special and has helped me tremendously in the development of wisdom and compassion. Should I then generalize and conclude that Shugden practice is therefore appropriate for everyone?

    If your own karma is not with Dorje Shugden then fair enough but perhaps for others their close connection is with this Deity and for them he fulfills the function of a supramundane protector. Perhaps your karma is not with Lama Gangchen or Geshe Kelsang Gyatso but perhaps for others, due to their past actions, they do have a connection with these teachers and are able to recognise them as pure.

    comment
    I do not think that your post here is “a projection of my mind”. Did you write it or did my mind created it? Likewise recognizing Shugden or Kundeling Lama etc. as being not reliable and very deceiving beings or as being harmful mustn’t be a “a projection of my mind” – of course it can be “a projection of my mind”. But also to see them as something reliable or holy – as you seem to do – can be “a projection of your mind”.

    The crucial point is to get certainty about what is what. A rope is not a poisonous snake and a poisonous snake is not a rope. If one can not discriminate conventional reality one for sure will get harmed. If the doctor or medicine is not qualified one can not be cured but one can get even killed by wrong treatment.

    There are certain charlatans who claim to be healers or good doctors having special medicine, who have their followers hoping for being rescued by them. There are also medium and rare good doctors. Those who wish to be cured should dicriminate between them properly and carefully.

  3. Hi Tenzin,

    the whole thing with Dechen sounds like a complete mess. I congratulate you on your efforts to expose her as a mentally sick person in need of help – not veneration. It is disappointing that so many Lamas were apparently willing to pander to her delusions rather than to recognise her for what she was. I can only presume that they were lacking in common sense.

    In general I found Kundeling one of the most delightful people I have ever met. His written material on the Dorje Shugden dispute is highly intelligent and absolutely hilarious. However, he appears to be rather unskilful on occasions. But this is a reflection on him, not on the practice of Dorje Shugden.

    The practice of Dorje Shugden is just a prayer. One hundred thousand instances of unskilful conduct on the part of people who practice this prayer would not make it a public danger in the manner that DL has suggested, as these behaviours are just a reflection on the individuals concerned, not on this practice. In addition to the characters you have had contact with there are many humble and sensible practitioners of Dorje Shugden. You make a mistake if you regard your own experiences as a representative survey of Dorje Shugden practitioners, and another mistake if you regard these people’s conduct as a consequece of Dorje Shugden practice, rather than just a consequece of their own personality make-up.

    I am pleased that you feel uncomfortable about the shops banning Dorje Shugden practitioners. Perhaps we can agree on this point. I hope you will come to recognise the ban on worship of a particular Buddhist deity as wrong in itself. That any form of religious discrimination is wrong is a straight-forward and obvious point for any impartial thinking person.

    You yourself know that the Dalai Lama is lying when he claims that the WSS and the Dorje Shugden Society has links with China. How you can rationalise this blatent lie? You have even repeated it yourself on some of the blogs.

    In general I think that perhaps I shouldn’t be writing on your blog, but they again why not? Perhaps it’s valuable to acknowledge elements of truth in what you say.

    Best Wishes,

    Adam

    comment by TP
    Also beguiler can be inspiring, powerful and convincing in speech. It is better to see behind the surface. I never heard that HHDL said that WSS has realtionships with China. It is clear that Kundeling Lama and Gangchen Lama have (see France24 TV). As Kundeling is associated with the Delhi Shugden Society it is also clear that they have contacts and it is just expectable that they have some exchange.

  4. lightmind says:

    Are your unpleasant experiences, Tenzin, the result of others actions?

    comment TP
    They are dependent arising. If you verbally attack or abuse someone for the person being the object of such an attack or abuse this may be an unpleasant, pleasant or neutral experience, and this depends mainly upon his mind. However, in general I don’t know any normal person who will take delight in being the object of an attack or abuse.

    Applying such a ‘logic’ for some NKT people – believing the NKT claim of “all is in your mind” – it follows they’ll ask a person being raped: ‘Are your unpleasant experiences the result of others actions?’
    For me this shows just ignorance in relation to cause and effect (including a lack of discrimination between wholesome and unwholesome deeds), a lack of compassion and a lack of understanding of dependent arising. All causes and conditions have come together that harm or happiness arises. Although the main factor is the mind, others’ actions effect others happiness or contribute to their suffering. That’s why the Buddha taught: “Don’t harm others, be of benefit to others and tame your mind. This is the Tathagata’s teaching.”

    NKT members may also take into consideration the virtuous mental factors of self-respect, respect for others and non-harm.

    All harm comes from ignorance, attachment and anger (delusions) and Karma. Ignorance can deceive someone to perceive wrong teachers as holy and holy teachers as wrong. My main fault, and the main fault of those who have not overcome it, is ignorance.

    Note:
    Some NKT followers sent posts trying to convince me or the reader with NKT ‘propaganda’ statements like this: “The demonstrations from 1996-1998 were supposed to be peaceful, internally and externally. They were referred to as ‘vigils’.” This is the typically NKT-‘truth’. The press (see The Guardian, The Intependent) and witnesses saw it not that way. NKT has to justify their wrong actions, this I can understand, but this blog is no platform for these trials. Please NKT members try to accept this.

    If NKT members really believe the NKT teaching of “all is in your mind” as being valid they should apply it also to the Shugden followers’ claims in India and their claims against HHDL. This would be at least consequent.

  5. ”The 5th, 13th and the 14th Dalai Lama now being accused by Shugden followers of being the backward force”

    Who is accusing them of this exactly?

    Also, that old chestnut ‘Shugen practioners are murderers’ has been is an overused and tired argument with no basis in reality – please direct us to evidence.

    Tenzin, you put so much energy into this, but there are millions of people who get so much from this practice – who would never criticize other people’s religious choices. In my experience, they don’t have these hidden political agendas.

    I think I speak for many when I say we want nothing other than the freedom to follow the advice of our teachers – that’s it. Without being continuously persecuted, smeared and demonized.

    It doesn’t matter how much you write – nothing will change the fact that HHDL is denying religious freedom whilst telling the world he isn’t…. and his words are hurting people, physically and mentally – through the crisis of faith he is creating for so many.

    We all know this problem would be solved through dialogue, and this has been point blank refused by HHDL.

    I am really sorry you had to experience what you did, and I honestly wish happiness and good fortune in the future.

    comment TP
    Mhm. Millions of people receiving benefit from Shugden? Millions – this claim is not correct. This claim is an exaggeration. And what is with those who received harm by Shugden and Shugden worship? Who counted these people and takes them into consideration? What is with the religious freedom of those who fear Shugden worship and its perceived negative influences? Do they have no rights to protect themselves? What is about WSS trials to demonize the Dalai Lama as “evil and cruel”, a “saffron robed Muslim” or NKT’s statments of he would be “possessed by a mara (devil)”? And do not also others follow the advice of their teachers to restrain from Shugden worship? What is correct for you isn’t it correct for others?

    Accusing always the other side will help nobody it will harm both sides. A dialogue is possible if there is some flexibility to take also another point of view. Dialogue is impossible if one side thinks only they are right. Dialogue with stubborn Chinese party cadres is almost impossible. Dialogue needs both sides. As far as I know and witnessed, most Shugdenpas can not lead dialogue, they want just convince that they are right and the Dalai Lama is wrong and the one where to put the blame. I think, this is not a helpful position.

    However, personally every dialogue has my full support.

    Sadly all my trials for dialogue with Shugden followers in the last 6 years failed. I gave up dialogue with them. So maybe HH the Dalai Lama – who has far more and abundant skills and limitless qualities – has made similar experiences and just gave up? It wouldn’t be a miracle to me. Many experienced Shugdenpas as fundamentalists and purists, radical and narrow minded and misleading in what they say, and as a saying goes: “You can not discuss with a fundamentalist without becoming yourself a fundamentalist.” So a strategy of reducing harm may be a better solution than senseless dialogue. HHDL did his best, as far as I can see. Finally he sent also some of his representatives to the protesters like Tashi Wangdi. The WSS video didn’t show any dialogue the protesters just trashed their opinions on him and said to him: “Now you listen to us!” he was almost unable to say some sentences. It was rather frightening seeing him among enraged Shugden followers in Colgate USA (WSS said themselves they are “deeply upset”), and I was impressed by Wangdi’s brave to meet those enraged protesters. I saw also Geshe Dorji Damdul at different images of WSS trying to speak with the protesters. I saw many Tibetans who stopped some angry Tibetans to be violent. Nevertheless WSS pushes emotion by claiming there are riots in New York and Manhattan, what embarrassing and distorted claims.

    There is a far more broad and differentiated picture of the situation than the black-and-white approach which WSS establishes and follows. Dialogue needs both sides. Best Wishes, t

    PS: For a history of Shugden and the positions of the Dalai Lamas see: http://thedorjeshugdengroup.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/academic-researches-regarding-shugden-controversy-nkt/ and http://info-buddhism.com/dorje_shugden_controversy.html

  6. Hi Tenzin,

    “Accusing always the other side will help nobody it will harm both sides.” Etc…

    Your writings seem to me to be heavily biased towards the Dalai Lama. In other words against the WSS and DS, when they are not against the NKT and KG. Although usually they are directed more or less at all of these entities together.

    Recently you said you aim to provide an overall picture from both sides. However it seems often quite obvious that the material is carefully selected, sometimes taken out of context so as to paint a “black and white (negative) picture” of said entities.

    Since DS practitioners have been heavily criticized for not being educated in these subjects, especially NKTers like myself, i have decided to try and get a broader picture of the situation. I’ve only recently started, so far i’ve read a lot on Wikipedia and i’ve been reading the DL’s own words on his website. Also i make an effort to be unbiased in my approach and to try and listen to opposing views. I understand we all start out biased, in the same way we all start out with self-grasping ignorance, so it is our job to work away at our biases in order to perceive a more realistic picture which isn’t tainted by attachments and biases. In case it is true that DS is a spirit, i also pray to other enlightened deities, such as Avalokiteshvara and Prajnaparamita, that they may inspire me to let go of my biases so that i may understand this whole situation clearly.

    I understand that knowledge is not enough. A biased person will twist anything to suit their view, i think we have clear examples of this on both sides.

    I hope i am wrong, but IF you are as biased as you appear (to me), i hope that you can realize this and write more balanced accounts on your blog. That said, I am generally impressed by your work, you are with no doubt well versed and intelligent. If it turns that DS is a demon, and KG is all the things that you say of him, and NKT the cult you make it out to be, and if WSS turns out to be supported by the chinese… If all these things turn out to be true i will personally thank you for working so hard to alert the world to these dangerous entities.

    My main point in this post is despite your accusations of Shugden proponents being very biased and presenting a black and white picture of the situation, your own work seems also very biased presenting a very black and white picture in itself.

    Take care,
    Harry

    comment TP
    Dear Harry. I appreciate your work and honest thoughts. Thanks a lot. I think such an approach can only be beneficial to oneself and others. It is stated by Aryadeva / Chandrakirti / Tsongkhapa that a non-partisan attitude belongs to the three main characteristics a Mahayana follower must possess otherwise he can not discriminate between right and wrong or he sees qualities as faults and faults as qualities. (I can give you the complete reference and passage of Je Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo, if you wish.)

    Regarding my own bias. After checking both sides and their respective point of views thoroughly (about 10 years of investigation) I rejected most of the Shugden followers claims because I recognized them as not according to the facts and often as very contorted and out of the historical context strongly denying other perspectives or point of views and facts they don’t like; and I adopted the point of view of those critical with Shugden because I see the harm of that practice and I see most of their arguments as reasonable or at least far more reasonable than those of Shugden followers. However, I have my own subjective view to it.

    Regarding my Blog, the About of my site clearly states: “This site aims to correct and balance the misinformation campaign of the Western Shugden Society.” If WSS/NKT is one-sided (I think this is correct to say) the challenge to balance and correct their claims or to put them into perspective is naturally biased as well — or at least I lack the skills to balance their claims and spins in an unbiased way. Hopefully there will be someone else in the future who can do this. I didn’t aim for a neutral Wikipedia article here. Another point is that I try to keep the posts at my blog as neutral as possible while in the comments-sections I state my personal opinion frankly, especially when a WSS/NKT follower did the same.

    I think also my Blog isn’t too much biased. While WSS/NKT allow only their point of view and comments from their followers at their blogs and websites (and recently even at YouTube), and add links only to their own websites, my Blog is a bit different from this self-referential system, isn’t it? Also I made myself and my background transparent so that the reader can understand my background and is able to put this Blog and what I say and quote into perspective. Also this is different to WSS/NKT’s approach, isn’t it?

    Due to the aim of that Blog “This site aims to correct and balance the misinformation campaign of the Western Shugden Society.”, I have no problem here to express my point of view which is critical with WSS/NKT and shares the point of view of those seeing damage in Shugden worship and NKT/WSS’S actions. Although personally I view NKT as a cult (based on Singer’s definition) and I see Shugden worship as harmful, I’ve never said that NKT gets money from the Chinese nor did I hint such things. I lack knowledge about this particular subject.

    To keep balance or to give the reader the possibility to get a neutral perspective I repeatedly referred to neutral and accepted academic researches, also in this blog. It is NKT who refutes all these researches as “heavily biased”. I think in general every one who criticizes someone else risks to be caught up in black-and-white thinking. I try to be aware of this and I try to avoid this. I am grateful to your post and kind reminder. Again I appreciate your approach of facing/dealing with bias and to discuss your and my attitudes here. Thanks a lot, Tenzin.

  7. Hi Tenzin,

    Thank you very much for such an honest an thoughtful reply.

    It’s funny because once i had written my post and pressed send, i had a feeling that perhaps my criticism wasn’t all that fair. So i had a quick glance at the overall content of your blog and concluded that perhaps i would have changed my words “your own work seems also very biased presenting a very black and white picture in itself” for “your own work seems also biased presenting a black and white picture in itself”. I felt a bit guilty afterwards that perhaps my judgement was a bit rash, that maybe i should have studied your work more in depth and then been a bit more selective with my own words. I feared an indignant reply, like you don’t have enough comments to reply to, but you have taken the criticism in your stride and given me a very good reply. I appreciate your sincerity.

    I think it is great that you don’t hide your identity. To be honest, i don’t really understand why NKT people and WSS aren’t more transparent about these things.

    My experience of both parties has been different, however. Most people i have spoken to on the DL’s side have seemed very angry and hateful towards us. I think you are the only person so far who seems capable of civilized dialogue, who doesn’t need to resort to abusive tactics to prove a point. And although all the Shugden practitioners i know don’t seem to know much about the historical controversy that apparently surrounds this deity, they always seem well intended people who simply can’t understand why the DL is denouncing their practice.

    I haven’t yet looked into the historical side of DS from the point of view of the DL and co simply because until now i have been presented with an image of these people that isn’t in accordance with Buddhism in the first place, therefore i find it hard to trust any historical evidence that comes out of their hands. This picture has been further established by the confrontational and aggressive attitude of those people who i have talked to. Then there is the DL himself. Before i came across NKT i read one of his books and i have also been to a public talk. I didn’t really connect with him then. Afterwards i researched him more on my own account, as i didn’t like it when i heard NKTers criticizing him. I found him a charismatic religious and political leader who brings good messages to the world but i found it (and still do) very hard to understand how the immersion in politics can keep a mans spiritual life in a healthy state in this day and age. Of course i am influenced by Kelsang Gyatso’s warnings against mixing religion and politics, but these views are also endorsed by Shantideva and i would imagine many other masters of old including Buddha himself. KG’s views resonate with my own life experience of politicians and charismatic politicians and the countless power-and-money-and-fame-hungry individuals who have pretended to be gurus or well-meaning benefactors in order to achieve their aims. Of course for all i know, the DL may well be more than capable of being a politician as well as a Lama, especially if he really is a realized master.

    However there are many things that i still don’t understand. For example, his reliance on Nechung when deciding upon removing DS from Buddhism. Since DS, spirit or not, is practiced by so many Buddhists i think it needs to be addressed from within Buddhism, and i don’t see how the political advisor, a spirit himself, has much say on the issue. The other thing is HH’s claims that DS harms his life-span. Since he is over 70 and he practiced DS for 40 years i don’t see the logic in this statement.
    These and many other things like the man, i think from the TGIE, that says that when it comes to the DL’s wishes and wellbeing human rights and religious freedom are of no importance.

    Anyway thanks for listening. And thanks again for your open reply.

    Best, Harry

    comment TP
    I lack time to read your comment and to add some thoughts. So I just approved it unread based on my impression that you have an honest approach to question things and that you aim to see things in an unbiased way. At least I felt that you restrain from spreading what others and I refer to as “NKT propaganda”. I’ll try to read and to answer it later. Best wishes and thank you for your effort. TP

  8. Note: When i say “you are the only person so far who seems capable of civilized dialogue, who doesn’t need to resort to abusive tactics to prove a point” i mean the only person i personally have come across so far. I am sure there are others like you, perhaps i have just been unfortunate so far in coming across the wrong people.

  9. Dear Harry, first I wish to excuse my strong delay in answering your post. The delay was my fault, mainly I distracted myself with other posts and responses. I feel this as somewhat dishonest to you as you are a seeker of truth, who strives for the middle. Now my reply.

    Since my escape from NKT and Shugden lamas I am mainly together with Lamas and Dharma adepts which see HHDL as an genuine, authentic master. All of my teachers, including all my Kagyue, Nyingma, Sakya teachers and Theravada teachers have highest respect for HHDL, most of them refer to him as enlightened.
    Among those normal Dharma adepts, who belong not to the category of masters but revere HHDL as a genuine teacher, most of them just say nothing at all about WSS or their protests much more less on the Shugden issue. My experience is, this is no subject they are much interested in and they wish not to waste time with this or to say anything bad about those people. In a way this makes me feeling very uncomfortable because I do the opposite of what they – which I revere and honour – do.

    My trials for dialogue and that I address these issues comes mainly from my understanding that I felt unprotected when I entered NKT and the world of Tibetan Buddhism, nobody spoke open about this controversy so I stepped into something which I see as spiritual very harmful. Only with a lot of effort and support I was able to rescue myself. Tibetan lamas say almost nothing about NKT, WSS or Shugden worship. They are very restrained. In Tibetan culture and Dharma approach it is usual to just say nothing which expresses the person’s disagreement. Such an approach may not be so helpful for Westerners. So I took up the task to say things in the public which I felt could help and protect people.

    I agree NKTers are well-intentioned people. There is almost nobody who would disagree with this. But good intentions combined with ignorance can turn an attitude of altruism into fundamentalism and corrupt even the best motivation. If you feel not inspired by HHDL this is no problem at all. There is a great choice of genuine lamas from all Buddhist schools. If you are sensitive towards corruption of politics and spiritual issues, I wonder how you can overlook the policies of GKG who made himself an autocrat at Manjushri Center and among his followers. This is just an obvious fact.
    For the history on Shugden you can read accepted Western academic sources, like Mills, Key, Dreyfus, Mumford, von Brück.

    HHDL didn’t place his decision only on Nechung, this is again an oversimplification abused in NKT to let appear him a bit superstitious. According to von Brück: “The 14th Dalai Lama himself has taken up the issue several times. His statements on Shugden have been collected and published recently in Tibetan.25 In order to investigate the canonical status of Shugden and his practice, he applies basically three methodological devices or arguments: (1) historical evidence, (2) political reason, (3) spiritual insight.” For more see: http://info-buddhism.com/dorje_shugden_controversy_von_Brueck.html

    Regarding the lifespan. According to Pabongkha: “[This protector is also particularly significant with respect to the fact that] many from our own side, monks or lay people, high or low, are not content with Dzong-ka-ba’s tradition, which is like pure gold, [and] have mixed and corrupted [this tradition with ] the mistaken views and practices from other schools, which are tenet systems that are reputed to be incredibly profound and amazingly fast but are [in reality] mistakes among mistakes, faulty, dangerous and misleading paths. In regard to this situation, this protector of the doctrine, this witness, manifests his own form or a variety of unbearable manifestations of terrifying and frightening wrathful and fierce appearances. Due to that, a variety of events, some of them having happened or happening, some of which have been heard or seen, seem to have taken place: some people become unhinged and mad, some have a heart attack and suddenly die…“ so if his students and those who asked him to serve the Tibetans practice something which’s nature will harm him (because he is practicing other’s tradition), it is obvious that this is a contradiction which is better to be avoided.

    Of course human rights and religious freedom are important. This is true to all sides. Both have their arguments. However, the killed persons are reported to be among Shugden opponents not among Shugden followers. So a more open minded, unbiased investigation is always helpful.

    Best wishes Harry,
    Happy to meet you – until now only virtually ;-)
    Tenzin

  10. Jigdrel Samyoe says:

    I am just an ordinary lay man, born to a Buddhist parents, taken right refuge in three jewels. Though I haven’t went through any higher studies on Buddhism, but I wholeheartedly believe and the cherish the wisest concept of interdependent ideology and living by the principle of non-violence, with these two in mind I feel happy and confident with by belief.

    As the Tibetan saying goes: Life spent in the wild, but can’t recognize the wild animals, similarly to those pitiable beings, who spend their life in monastery but cant understand the Buddha’s real teaching. In my views, the radical followers of the cult Shugdhen are all non Buddhist, it is because for them the spirit worship is everything, as they have taken refuge in that ( called Soktey), and to live with that refuge and to stand for that belief, they can harm others who oppose it, even by means of threatening, torture and killing. With such radical views they murdered Geshe Lobsang Gyatso and two of his monk students in Dharamsala. Not to mention of many such brutal and ugly stories in the past, the more one digs, the more it stings bad, so just leave it there.

    Now, tell me, How they can be a Buddhist with such acts of brutal violence, living with such wrong principle and with the wrong ideology. They are worse than anything than the words could describe their acts of stupidity! Who are they? and what are they after? They are not for Buddhism nor they are for the cause of Tibet and others! I truly feel very much compassionate to all those innocents whose minds are diluted and are trapped in the web of this cunning cult WSS!

    My statements are straight forward, sorry if that hurts but the truth is always bitter. Don’t get agitated, calm down, think and analyze to find the truth! if one could do that, one is a good son/daughter of good father!

  11. I do not know much about buddhism and do not claim to. I have recently been interested in deepening my understanding of Buddhism and its different traditions. I have much rrespect for HHDL as a peacefull and honorable man. These fights between NKT and HHDL have affected me greatly and have caused me much anxiety and uncertainty. For one I cannot in good conscience think that taking a person’s right to worship and provide for their family (the edicts saying not to have any dealings with people who follow The Protector) is right. However I believe that HHDL’s attemp to extricate members whom he thinks are not embodying what Buddhism is from the monastaries is proper. It is my (uneducated) belief that Buddhism teaches not to idolize and Deify people but rather to look within oneself to become enlightened. If this is true then should not a tradition which teaches to do just that be extricated? I have always thought that Lamas and other enlightened people were just that, people. Great teachers absolutely but nonetheless human people. Therefore in my opinion they should not be worshipped. Like I said I cannot in honesty say that I am an authority on such matters because I am so new to Buddhism but it is my opinion that followers of NKT seem to worship Shugden; This cannot be acceptable by one who does not believe that we should worship any person. Correct me if I am wrong but did not Buddha himself say that he did not want people to worship him? Should this therefore not be even more true of a descendant of his teachings? If followers of NKT wish to keep worshipping Shugden and no longer follow what the teachings say then why not distance yourselves from Buddhism and the other traditions as it is clear to me that this is no longer Buddhism.

    Note: I do not mean that honoring and showing gratitude for the enlightened men and women is wrong. It is only when one begins to pray to such a person for protection and such that it becomes worship of that person.

    I throughly enjoyed reading your blog Tenzin for it helped me to understand HHDL’s decision in doing what he did. Please if you have any comment on what I have said or if I am wrong in something do correct me as I am only just learning.

    Peace and Agape (only word I could think of to mean love without requirements)
    Christian B

  12. Dear Christian,
    thank you for your honest comment and thoughts.

    What you write may touch and be connected with what is Buddhism all about. As you said: why worshipping something when the Buddha said: do not worship me?

    However, there is worship in all Buddhist schools. Also in the Theravada. In the Mahayana Tradition as well as in the Theravada Tradition offerings (eg. flowers and incense) are offered to the Buddha, and one prostrates to the Buddha.

    So one may wonder what is the purpose of this?

    I try to give a certain perspective according to Mahayana understanding, maybe this can clarify a bit and then lets look what question are still there.

    In general the main issue in Buddhism is to perceive things as they are without delusion. To come to see things as they are one has to learn to face and to deal with the own mind which projects, due to ignorance, a distorted reality onto the outer and inner world. Mainly it perceives all phenomena in a distorted way, e.g. permanent, independent, unitary or in other terms: one is unable to perceive the two truths, conventional and ultimate truth. Ignorance includes to be unable to be clear about what actions bring harm and what actions result in happiness – even what happiness is and what type of happinesses there are.

    To perceive things as they are the Buddhist tries to check reality and uses the teachings of the Buddha to get a correct understanding how things really exist. For this sake one needs to learn to rely on the Three Jewels. To be able to rely one must check if they are reliable and to do this one checks what qualities they have, if they are deceptive, if there is a base / motivation in the Buddha to mislead sentient beings…

    This checking of qualities issues the topic of ‘faith’. In the Abidharma and many Buddhist texts the mental factor of faith is taught and stressed very much. Faith perceives the really existing qualities of an object and based on this one is deeply inspired, moved, touched (physical signs can be to get goose skin or the hairs stand up, tears come into the eye), from this a certainty that these qualities really exist arise and based on that an aspiration arises, to develop these/this quality in the own being (mind). Based on this effort, the joy to do positive things, like developing compassion or concentration or helping others, arises. This joyous effort is the main key for spiritual progress. It is said all spiritual qualities are based on effort. Therefore because faith in the real existing qualities is the basis of effort, faith is often emphasized. Faith based on reasoning is the best, because it is unshakeable. Faith can be based on the qualities of a person or an inanimate object (like the qualities of great compassion or the qualities of faith).

    So now regarding this. If a person perceives a being, like mother Theresa, and perceives her immeasurable love, a natural feeling of respect and admiration arises. In Mahayana-Buddhism such a feeling is used or induced towards holy beings like the Buddha or a great genuine ‘guru’ (‘guru’ [or lama] means ‘heavy in qualities’). Through this faith one has a natural virtues mind and all actions one does in relation to the object, like praise, offering service, being generous (e.g. offer money for the work of mother Theresa) is based on a very pure, less afflicted and less self-centred mind. Due to this purity of mind much positive Karma (or merit) is created. This good Karma (or merit) is needed for spiritual progress, or to be able to deal with the own weaknesses constructively, or to develop mental qualities, like concentration, love, wisdom etc. It is said, the more qualities the object has, the higher the power of the action towards it is.

    So based on this understanding to act virtuous towards an object with qualities is highly praised as a spiritual practice, hence a certain type of worship (making offerings, offering praise, making prostrations) towards the virtuous object, developed. This can be found in different Buddhist scriptures, Buddhist schools and Mahayana Sutras, there are a lot of explanations on it.

    See e.g. http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/sutra/level1_getting_started/approaching_study_meditation/down_earth_explanation_seven_limb_p.html

    So then the problem in this context is: is the object of veneration worthy of such respect or not. If one venerates an object not worthy of veneration the own qualities will degenerate and one will develop the same faults as the object of veneration. (imagine the results of having veneration or serving Mother Theresa or an evil minded dictator) The Buddha has summarized this topic in the Dharmapada as well. I gave at different places here at the blog the quote already. He states there e.g.

    3
    Do not devote yourself
    To bad companions and wicked beings.
    Devote yourself to holy people,
    And to spiritual friends.

    4
    By devotion to people like that
    You will do goodness, not wrong.

    5
    By devotion to faithful and wise people
    Who have heard much and pondered many things,
    By heeding their fine words, even from afar,
    Their special qualities are attained here.

    8
    Just as the clean kusha grass
    That wraps a rotten fish
    Will also start to rot,
    So too will those devoted to an evil person.

    10
    When one does no wrong yet
    Is devoted to evil people,
    One will still be abused,
    For others suppose that this one too is bad.

    11
    The devotee acquires the same faults
    As the person not worthy of devotion,
    Like an untainted arrow smeared
    With the poison of a tainted sheath.

    So now regarding Shugden, the question is, has he the qualities to be venerated or worshipped, is he worthy of being worshipped or not?

    While a minority (NKT and some people from the Gelug school) believe he is a Buddha (supramundane protector= dharmapala), hence appropriate for worship and object of refuge (see: http://info-buddhism.com/dorje_shugden_controversy.html#Overview) the majority of masters from all Tibetan traditions consider Shugden to be a worldly being (=lokapala), and in particular, a “king spirit” (rgyal po), i.e., a mundane, pernicious spirit, which means that he is no proper object of refuge (see: http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index.php?showtopic=13648&st=0). The danger they see lies in the fact that the minds of these “king spirits” are generally dominated by anger, jealousy and revenge, and that they can “cause madness, cattle diseases, and generally bring dissension to sanghas” (see same source).

    So based on this recognition that he is no Buddha and that worshipping him brings harm as the Buddha said himself:

    The devotee acquires the same faults
    As the person not worthy of devotion,
    Like an untainted arrow smeared
    With the poison of a tainted sheath.

    the masters strongly discourage to worship Shugden.

    If you put this knowledge together from this perspective those who worship Shugden will probably develop the same faults as the Gyalpo, like anger and jealousy. According to those masters (e.g. HHDL, Namkhai Norbu) they could finally become mad. (There are a lot of records which seem to approve this – also what I wittnessed myself approves this.)

    HHDL has checked this issue thoroughly and finally advised, those who rely on him should not practice Shugden. Because the majority of monks see HHDL as their master and a highly realised spiritual authority, the advise has now also been applied in the Gelug monasteries.

    Of course those, who follow NKT and those few Tibetans practising still Shugden worship, believe Shugden is a Buddha. From their point of view worship of Shugden will bring no harm to them but only benefit. They think not to worship Shugden will bring harm. (There may be 100.000 people who practice it, this is what I assume and what was stated also in another source.)

    What do you think on these thoughts. Do they answer some points?
    Thank you very much. Tenzin

    (updated: 6 Nov 2008)

  13. Hello Tenzin,

    Thank you for your reply it answered alot of questions I had about Buddhism. I completely understand the veneration of worthy people. I have always believed that honoring those who have qualities that we aspire to is important.

    There are many people that I have great respect and admiration for including Mother Theresa, Ghandi, HHDL and many more besides. I have always felt that I could learn a great deal from these people who gave so much of themselves to help others. In the same light I understand that we must be careful whom we entrust with our veneration and respect.

    As my understanding of Buddhism grows so does my respect for it. To find my inner light and become completely peacefull and at peace is something that I have always aspired to. Lately I have been learning a great deal about attachment and the dangers of doing things which feed the duality of my existence. How getting attached to things too strongly can be detrimental and can case much suffering. I begin to think more and more than placing so much emphasis on just one person (as the Shugden tradition does) would only cause more suffering to me. Look at how much suffering has been caused already from people’s attachment to him. Homes have been broken up, jobs have been lost and peace has left them.

    Many people would blame HHDL for their suffering but I believe that all people cause their own suffering (unless it is physically done to them that is). I think that their attachment has become so large that the idea of living and practicing as Buddhists without their Protector is causing them much suffering. I do not know what such people could do to ease their suffering, I only know that were it myself in their position I would attempt to eliminate such an attachment from my life. Undue attachment and perhaps pride (i.e This is MY protector and NO ONE will take him from me!) cannot lead to inner peace or enlightenment. I am only using Shugden followers as an example and not as a rule anyone could fall into this trap such as a person who becomes too attached to any friend/family member/guru/teacher.

    This issue is so large and so complicated that I definitely could not think of a solution. I only know that Buddhism is the path of least suffering. The attempt at removing suffering. And the fact that this issue bring so much suffering to so many people, including HHDL, brings feeling of regret and sorrow to my heart.
    Thank you once again Tenzin for the answers that you have given me. I hope that my ranting makes some kind of sense to you :D
    Christian

  14. Dear Christian,
    what to say. This makes completely sense to me. I think the main problem is indeed attachment. Either attachment to a being or attachment to a certain view. There are many protectors and there is no need to cling to a controversial one which was not even mentioned with a single letter by Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpas, himself. To let go Shugden worship and to remind what Tsongkhapa and the great Indian pandits emphasized may be a solution.

    The 100. Ganden Tripa who recently died and stayed for 18 days in Tukhdam (which is a clear sign that he was a highly realised Yogi) stated:

    “If it [Shugden] were a real protector, it should protect the people. There may not be any protector such as this, which needs to be protected by the people. Is it proper to disturb the peace and harmony by causing conflicts, unleashing terror and shooting demeanous words in order to please the Dharmapala? Does this fulfill the wishes of our great masters? Try to analyze and contemplate on the teachings that had been taught in the Lamrim [stages of path], Lojong [training of mind] and other scriptural texts. Does devoting time in framing detrimental plots and committing degrading act, which seems no different from the act of attacking monasteries wielding swords and spears and draining the holy robes of the Buddha with blood, fulfill the wishes of our great masters?

    The Mahayana teachings advocate an altruistic attitude of sacrificing few for the sake of many. Thus why is it not possible for one, who acclaims oneself to be a Mahayana, to stop worshipping these dubious gods and deities for the sake and benefit of the Tibetans in whole and for the well-being of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In the Vinaya [Buddhist code of discipline], it is held that since a controversial issue is settled by picking the mandatory twig by “accepting the voice of many by the few” the resolution should be accepted by all. As it has been supported by ninety five percent it would be wise and advisable for the rest five percent to stop worshipping the deity keeping in mind that there exists provisions such as the four Severe Punishments [Nan tur bzhi], the seven Expulsions [Gnas dbyung bdun] and the four Convictions [Grangs gzhug bzhi] in the Vinaya [Code of Discipline].

    If the source of the problem is attachment, I think, to let go attachment is the solution.

    Thank you very much, I am happy to discuss this with you.
    Tenzin

  15. Hello Tenzin!

    I apologize for not responding earlier but I have been busy with a residential move and could not get online. I just wanted to thank you for validating my thoughts. I was not sure if what I was thinking was correct and its nice to know someone shares my thoughts.

    Christian

  16. Thank you Christian!

  17. Appendix to “Some Monastic Rules Related to that Issue”

    For those interested, here is the excerpt of

    The Pratimoksa Sutra of the Mulasarvastivadins

    10. Whatever monk should proceed toward a division of a samgha which is harmonious, or having taken up a legal question conducive to causing a schism, should persist in taking it up, that monk should be spoken to thus by the monks: “The Venerable One should not proceed toward a division of the samgha which is harmonious, or having taken up a legal question conducive to causing a schism, persist in taking it up. Let the Venerable One come together with the samgha, for the samgha is harmonious, united, on friendly terms, without dispute, and dwells in a happy condition under a one-pointed Dharma exposition, being like milk and water, demonstrating the Teaching10* of the Teacher. Abandon, O Venerable One, such a course which causes a schism in the samgha.” If that monk, being spoken to by the monks, should abandon that course, this is good. If he should not abandon it, he should be examined and instructed a second and a third time for the abandonment of that course. Should he, being examined and instructed a second and a third time, abandon that course, this is good. If he should not abandon it, that is a samghavasesa.

    11. If there are one, two, three, or many monk-comrades of a monk who is a speaker of disunion, and should these monks say to those [other] monks, “Do not, O Venerable Ones, say anything good or bad about this monk. Why? This monk, O Venerable Ones, speaks according to the Dharma and according to the Vinaya, and taking up our wish and objective, obtains [them]. This monk speaks knowingly and not unknowingly, and that which pleases this monk also pleases and seems good to us.” These monks [siding with the schism-maker] should be spoken to thus by the monks: “Do not let the Venerable Ones speak this way. That monk does not speak according to the Dharma and according to the Vinaya. [Do not say that that monk], taking up our wish and objective, obtains [them]. [Do not say] that monk speaks knowingly and not unknowingly, and that which pleases and seems good to that monk also seems good to you. Also, O Venerable Ones, do not take delight in a schism in the samgha. Again, do not [allow] a schism in the samgha to [provide] delight for the Venerable Ones. Let the Venerable Ones come together with the samgha, for the samgha is harmonious, on friendly terms, without dispute, and dwells in a happy condition under a one-pointed Dharma exposition, being one like milk and water, demonstrating the Teaching of the Teacher. Do not, O Venerable One,13* persist toward a division of the samgha. Abandon this form of speech which causes a division in the samgha.” These [schismatic] monks should be examined and in¬structed a second and a third time by the [other] monks for the abandonment of that course, and should they, being examined and instructed a second and a third time, abandon that course, this is good. If they should not abandon it, that is a samghavasesa.

    12. If many monks who are corrupters of families and practitioners of evil should dwell near a certain village or town and the families corrupted by these [monks] should be seen, heard, or known of, these monks should be spoken to thus by the monks: “The Venerable Ones are corrupters of families and practitioners of evil, and the families corrupted by you are seen, heard, and known of. Depart, O Venerable Ones, from this avasa. You have lived here long enough!” If these [evil] monks should say to those [other] monks: “The monks, O Venerable Ones, are followers of desire, followers of malice, followers of delusion, and followers of fear. They banish some monks because of faults such as these, but do not banish some [other] monks”; the monks should be spoken to thus: “Do not, O Venerable Ones, speak in this way; that some monks are followers of desire, followers of malice, followers of delusion, and followers of fear; that they banish some monks because of faults such as these, but do not banish some [other] monks. Why? These monks are not followers of desire, followers of malice, followers of delusion, and followers of fear, but you Venerable Ones are indeed corrupters of families and practitioners of evil. The families corrupted by you are seen and heard, and your evil practices are seen, heard, and known of. [You] monks, O Venerable Ones, are followers of desire, followers of malice, followers of delusion, and followers of fear. Abandon this form of speech.” These [evil] monks should be spoken to thus by the monks. If they should abandon it, this is good. If they should not abandon it, they should be examined and instructed a second and a third time for the abandonment [of that course]. Should they, being examined and instructed a second and a third time, abandon [that course], this is good. If they should not abandon it, that is a samghavasesa.

    13. If some monk here who is difficult to speak to, being spoken to by the monks in accordance with the Dharma and in accordance with the Vinaya, concerning the moral precepts included in the exposition and included in the Sutras of the Sugata, makes himself one who is not to be spoken to, saying, “Do not, O Venerable Ones, say anything to me, either good or bad, and also I will not say anything good or bad to the Venerable Ones. Let the Venerable Ones abstain from speaking to me, and also I will abstain from speaking to you”; that monk should be spoken to thus by the monks: “You, O Venerable One, being spoken to by the monks in accordance with the Dharma and in accordance with the Vinaya, concerning the moral precepts included in the exposition and included in the Sutras of the Sugata, make yourself one who is not to be spoken to. Let the Venerable One make himself one who is to be spoken to. Let the monks speak to the Venerable One in accordance with the Dharma and in accordance with the Vinaya, and also let the Venerable One speak to the monks in accordance with the Dharma and in accordance with the Vinaya, for thus, through mutual speech and through mutual helping to eliminate faults, will the community of the Blessed One, the Tathagata, the Arhant, the Fully Enlightened One, be bound together. Do not let the Venerable One make himself one who is not to be spoken to.” That monk should be spoken to thus by the monks. If he should abandon that course, this is good. If he should not abandon it, he should be examined and instructed a second and a third time for the abandonment of that [course]. Should he, being examined and instructed a second and a third time, abandon that course, this is good. If he should not abandon it, that is a samghavasesa.

  18. bittertruth says:

    Has it occurred to anyone that all tibetans are in the same shit. In an odd way the quarrels make buddhism a grown up religion….
    I agree that most shugden practicioners are not buddhist they were expelled.
    Over what?

    Westerner stay out of this making it worse and as bob dylan sang dont follow leaders watch parking meters.

    It is like Ghaza instead of peaceful talks reporters have to take sides. I am on the side of all especially children. I think western people dont understand the power abuse of tibetan government in a difficult context third generation will not listen to middle way.
    Plus what happened in tibet does anyone really care for those suffering for chinese and defenitely NOT helped by openly resistance. has it occorred to anyone there is no duality? And fighting tulkus is new and old history it is why the maoists took over they have always been fighting.
    Western people are so holy. Who loves HH loves him ok or loves …. SO WHAT . today i am eating peanuts why should you care?
    maybe so much money and power involved. Holy people are misunderstood.l

  19. ok refrase.
    1. the guru ‘problem’is we must love those that took care of us but not necessarily sign all they do how could we?
    2. west versus east in the sense that all tibetans are contextually also indian etc or nepalese and in the west we need to forgive but also remember our roots hebraic christian I do agree with his holiness because simply he is very main stream.
    3.This may well be a beginning of western buddhism cogito ergo sum….and no tibetan is interested in that what i really do not like in buddhism is one remains a student for life and any tibetan teaches since birth.
    4. then i change my mind not due to fickleness, or pressure from outside but as history evolves.
    5. Family is family some tibetans are my family I cannot accept that they be slandered as much as anyone comes with 1000 internet pages on how they looked and what they said and did.
    6 ni hao is all the chinese i know. the only infiltrators are the people in between. all of them this is the lesson from argentinian military not the military were the only ones dumping them from helicopters and much worse….middle class was guilty of wrong judgement. yes sir.
    san francisco was a holy being a yogi who spoke to birds who cares how he liked his tea?

  20. Francis says:

    The claim of some Dalai Lama critics like Trimondi (Röttgen) the Dalai Lama would have been an absolute ‘godking’ is also just plain wrong.

    The Dalai Lama’s have never been autocrat leaders but had to balance the different interests of the different provinces, the three monastic main seats of the Gelug order, the army, the government institutions and their members, and China and Mongolia. Most of the Dalai Lamas had less influence, only the 3rd, 5th and 13th and now the 14th Dalai Lamas had more influence. Often even his own disciples like the Panchen Lama were not loyal to him. For instance the latter refused to pay the taxes when the 13th Dalai Lama increased them in order to make the army stronger to enable the army to defend Tibet, and to be able to install the urgent needed reforms. This shows that also another myth of autodidact-historians like Trimondis the Dalai Lama would abuse the Tantras for the sake to establish an autocrat leadership is wrong too.

    I strongly recommend academic research like Goldstein ‘A History of Modern Tibet’ and others.

    comment TP
    The 13th Dalai Lama became a real autocrat! However, he didn’t abuse his power but used it for the greater sake of the welfare of the Tibetan Society and to implement urgent needed reforms, so the claim of dictatorship with respect to the 13th Dalai Lama is true but it should be seen in perspective of the circumstances and his actual deeds. I think, Sir Charles Bell gives quite a good insight into the 13th Dalai Lama’s life and his struggle, as well as into the situation of Tibet and its relation to China, India, Russia, Britain etc, and the political situation in and outside Tibet at that time. see Portrait of the Dalai Lama London: Collins, 1946. http://www.amazon.com/Portrait-Dalai-Lama-Times-Thirteenth/dp/086171055X

    BTW Bell also portrays the relation between the Panchen Lama and the 13th Dalai Lama and their labrangs to each other; and Bell uses often the term ‘godking’.

  21. A leading Shugden figure, Mahalama Losbang Yechi, defends his links with the Chinese community: “I approve the Chinese presence in Tibet. What we are living with the Dalai Lama today shows how authoritarian his theocratic regime must have been in the past. It was much more violent than what Tibetans are living today under Chinese rule.”

    http://www.france24.com/en/20080808-dalai-lama-demons-india-buddhism-dorje-shugden

    http://nktworld.org/confused.html

  22. Reblogged this on mirkosol's Blog.

  23. Dear Tenzin,
    I appreciate the measured tone of this article, which does not go out of its way to polarise people’s opinion. I want to comment on what you say about Samdhong Rinpoche. I think I speak for others as well as myself when I say that he has been called a liar not because of his religious views but because he has characterised Dorje Shugden practitioners as violent, murderous, lying arsonists motivated by China, and a cancer in society. This does not accord with my knowledge of many Dorje Shugden practitioners and are therefore unfair statements which draws hatred towards many innocent ordinary people.

    • Thank you Steve. I agree that Professor Rinpoche is very conservative and some statements appear to be too extreme. However, to accuse someone of lying means you have to have evidence that the person said things contrary to what he knows to be the facts in order to deceive another person or group. So is there evidence that he lied?

  24. Steve, in the Tibetan exile community there have been a number of instances of violent behaviour by dogyal worshippers, including the murder of Gen Lobsang Gyatso and his two young assistants, violent assault on the Dekyi Larso CTA representative, Phurbu Sither and his wife, death threats against Lobsang Khyedrup, then secretary of Tibetan department of culture and religion, and Tenpa Soepa, representative of the office of HH Dalai Lama, the attempted murder of Ven. Thubten Wangyal, former abbot of the Jangtse College of Gaden Monastery, by setting fire to his house while he was inside it, the violent assault against Geshe Trinley Tenzin also of Jangtse college, and the arson attacks on the grain stores and barn of Jangtse college.
    The connections between high profile dogyal lamas like Nga Lama (the false kundeling) and Gangchen Rinpoche are well known. The dogyal website set up by Tsem Tulku Rinpoche (another dogyal lama) posts articles asking the CTA to “stop irritating China.”
    Steve, In think the problem you NKT members have got is that you are taught a completely false history of this practice. Kelsang misses out how Dagpo Rinpoche, Pabongkhapa and Trijang Rinpoche all taught that other traditions were false and that dogyal kills Gelugpas for taking teachings from these other traditions. It is the fundamental aspect of this protector to protect the supposed doctrinal purity of Pabongkha’s version of the Gelug tradition. Trijang Rinpoche makes it very clear in his book that this protector manifests as a harmful spirit in order to kill Gelugpas that take teachings from other traditions.
    This teaching leads to the actions you see from those that worship this protector exactly as their lineage lamas have taught. The NKT ignore and water down the teachings of their lineage lamas and make up some ‘modern’ sanitized version. In doing this they are neither faithful to their tradition nor doing what is right and totally abandoning this sectarian practice. This leads to the NKT members protesting about something they don’t really understand and coming up with claims like Steve above, who, in inhabiting the blinkered world of the NKT, is simply ignorant of what he is talking about. That someone like him can then go on to attempt to validate the claim that Samdong Rinpoche is a liar is truly shameful.

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