The Middle Way Approach of the Dalai Lama – A Self-Deception?

Tibet belongs to Tibetans. Victory to Tibet! – Jamphel Yeshi

Recently the German Buddhist Magazine Tibet und Buddhismus asked Elliot Sperling – a well known and frequently quoted Tibetologist at Indiana University (US) who had just been barred from China – to write an essay that sums up some of his positions he has taken on Tibet issues over the years.

In that essay he thoroughly questions the effectiveness of the Middle Way Approach of the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and a cult of personality of the Dalai Lama that prevents to question the effectiveness of the Middle Way Approach and that undermines and ignores all other opinions. According to Sperling, the drive within the CTA has led to a situation where “the Dalai Lama was unwittingly turned into the prime spokesperson against Tibetan independence, to the benefit of China.”

The analysis of Elliot Sperling with the title “Self-Delusion” (in German Selbsttäuschung – „Die Politik des Mittleren Weges ist realitätsfern“) Sperling is pointing out how the CTA and the Dalai Lama have undermined unintentionally the Tibet independence movement and have weakened thereby the Tibet cause.

When one examines and thinks about Elliot Sperling’s essay it is hard not to agree with him. In order to appease the Chinese and to get international support the Dalai Lama and the CTA gave up the correct claims of an independent Tibet (experts of the US congress and the German Bundestag agreed that Tibet has been occupied against international law by China). China has illegally colonized Tibet and the Tibet support groups and people who support the Tibetans and their rights for an independent country or self determination about living in their country base their support on the injustice China has done to the Tibetans. Some of the people who self immolated killed themselves for an independent Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama but not for autonomy or a Tibet under Chinese control. The Tibetan Rangzen movement has been largely ignored and even treated animus by the CTA – as a threat to their idea of a Middle Way. In a way the own exile government seems to have betrayed Tibetans and their wish for independence. I hope this situation can change. Tibetans started to challenge and to question as well as to document the changes of the CTA’s /Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach, and it would be very useful I think, if the whole approach is really reconsidered instead of silencing down critical voices of the Middle Way Approach and becoming unwillingly a devoted and effective arm of China.

The Tibet support groups have been seriously weakened by Samdhong Rinpoche who asked the Tibet support groups on the international level to stop to protest when Chinese officials visit their countries. China demanded from the CTA that if the CTA wants to have any dialogue with them the CTA/Kashag should stop the protests which are performed where ever Chinese officials visit a Western country. China was fed up with loosing face in the West. The CTA was naive enough to follow this instruction and Samdhong Rinpoche became unwittingly the arm of China by trying to silence down all those international Tibet support groups for three years. There was no open discussion just pushing through this policy (there was a conference held in Berlin about this issue where Samdhong Rinpoche was present). After those three years China of course didn’t make any move forward with respect to the Tibet issue but the power of the international support groups was broken and has not yet recovered – except for those who chose to ignore Samdhong Rinpoche’s demands.

Its quite interesting to read this article by Tibetans in the Tibetan Political Review in which they explore the differences in the terms of 1) Freedom, 2) Independence, and 3) Autonomy and how the Kashag edits out clear voices for independence:

The Kashag effectively edits out even crystal-clear voices for independence. According to the Kashag, the self-immolators’ demands are “freedom for the Tibetan people and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.”  While not technically inaccurate (since freedom could include independence or autonomy), it is misleading for two reasons:

- First, some self-immolators have expressly called for independence, while none have called for autonomy.

- Second, the Kashag and Sikyong often use the word “freedom” to promote their specific Middle Way policy of autonomy, implying that the goals are either “freedom” (really meaning “autonomy”) or “independence”.

Furthermore, it is a conspicuous omission when the Kashag argues that self-immolation is caused by “political repression, economic marginalization, cultural assimilation and environmental destruction”.  This list prominently ignores that many self-immolators demanded independence.  So it seems this list should also include not just “repression” (which is a human rights issue) but also “a demand for Tibet’s independence”. That would make it far more complete.

In another recent example, at a book-launch about Takna Jigme Sangpo, the Sikyong discussed the former political prisoner’s “activism”, “various political activities”, and “slogans of Tibetan freedom” while in prison.  This was a painful omission: the core motivation of Sangpo’s heroism was, quite simply, Tibetan independence.  This should not be edited out even if one supports autonomy.

In fact, Sangpo was originally sentenced for “seeking ‘Tibetan independence’ among other reactionary propaganda”, according to Chinese documents.

However the Sikyong merely referred to Sangpo’s “opposition against harsh policies”, implying that Sangpo merely disagreed with certain Chinese policies.   It is truly regrettable that, in this case, Chinese sentencing documents are more accurate than the Sikyong’s remarks.

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Bad News About Dharma

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Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Never think that you will be able to settle your life down by practicing the dharma. The dharma is not therapy.
In fact, it is just the opposite.
The purpose of the dharma is to really stir up your life.
It is meant to turn your life upside down.
If that is what you asked for, why complain?
If it is not turning your life upside down, on the other hand, the dharma is not working.
That kind of dharma is just another one of these New Age methods;
the dharma should really disturb you. –  Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

See also

 

Bringing the Nalanda Tradition to the West: Reflections and Challenges

Dharma Studies in the West: The FPMT Master’s Program

Since the time of the Buddha, approximately 2,500 years ago, the Buddhist teachings have been transmitted in an uninterrupted lineage, eventually reaching Tibet and flourishing there for more than 1,200 years. In recent years, as Buddhism has come to the West, there has been a steady rise in interest among Western students of Buddhism in deepening their understanding of the philosophical teachings that form the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as a wish from the side of Tibetan teachers and scholars to develop study programs to meet these needs. A number of highly respected academic institutions have programs focusing on Tibetan Buddhist religion, culture, and philosophy, but it is a fairly recent phenomenon that Western Dharma centers have attempted to develop serious, in-depth programs for the study of the great philosophical treatises of the Indian and Tibetan masters. One of the most ambitious of these programs has been the FPMT’s Master’s Program in Buddhist Studies,[1] which was initially conceived by Lama Thubten Yeshe, and further developed and taught by Geshe Jampa Gyatso. The Master’s Program (or MP) is aimed at training both lay and ordained Western students in the classical philosophical treatises (known as the “great texts”) and the practice of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The program involves six to seven years of study, and is supplemented by one year of meditation in order for the students to integrate their learning and practice. I graduated from the first full-length program in 2004 and, since 2008, I have served as an online tutor for the most recent program, which just recently concluded.[2] This experience has led me to reflect at length on the challenges involved in developing advanced Buddhist study programs in the West, and I would like to share some of my thoughts on how we might begin to address these challenges.

The MP curriculum is similar to that of the Geshe programs in major Gelug Tibetan monasteries, although it is completed in a much shorter period—obtaining a Geshe degree would normally take from fifteen to twenty years in a Tibetan monastery. This difference in itself presents a huge challenge: how to condense such a vast amount of material into a program that is less than half the length of the traditional course of study. However, we should not make the mistake of assuming that those entering the program are lacking in knowledge or study skills when compared with their Tibetan counterparts: most MP students have already done many years of study before entering the program, many having earned various levels of university degrees, and thus have a wide range of knowledge of different fields, including science, humanities, business, and philosophy. Clearly, such students may begin with little formal Buddhist knowledge, but it would be unwise to underestimate the value of the intellectual and scholarly skills they have acquired in other fields. At this juncture, when the ancient teachings of Buddhism have really begun to penetrate into the fabric of societies that are not traditionally Buddhist and interact with Western fields of thought—philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, just to begin with—we need to think seriously about how an advanced program of Buddhist studies may look in the future.

A central concern in designing and implementing such a study program is how to continue the transmission of traditional Buddhist teachings while bringing them into a modern, Western context and making them relevant to our own times and cultures, without sacrificing their essence and integrity. We need to reflect on how study of these texts can enrich understanding and practice of the Dharma, without their becoming seen as a canon that is beyond question and automatically accepted as infallible. In other words, we should not abandon the spirit of rational and scientific inquiry that forms the basis of modern Western thought, and we should seek ways to harmonize this with our study of Buddhism. This development can only occur when we approach the teachings with a balance of critical analysis and respect, having faith in the teachings without being afraid to challenge and understand them in new ways.

The Nalanda Tradition: Balancing Faith and Reasoning

His Holiness the Dalai Lama often refers to the basis of Tibetan Buddhism as the “Nalanda Tradition,” emphasizing the direct connection between the Tibetan Buddhist tradition with the work of the great scholars of Nalanda University, the ancient Indian Buddhist institution that produced some of Buddhism’s greatest scholar-practitioners, including Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Vasubandhu, and Dharmakirti. A central aspect of the Nalanda Tradition is an emphasis on approaching the Buddhist teachings not just through faith and devotion, but also through rigorous critical inquiry. This emphasis on intelligent investigation in Buddhism is illustrated by the analogy, often cited in Buddhist teachings, of a merchant who only buys gold after determining its quality and purity through various tests. All of the Buddha’s teachings emphasize the importance of investigating the Dharma deeply before accepting it. This critical inquiry is precisely what is being pursued in programs such as the Master’s Program.

Developing such programs is a crucial and difficult step in the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings to the West, and one of the most significant difficulties we face is how to successfully present such complex and dense material to people whose cultures, beliefs, and history are fundamentally different from those of a traditional Asian culture, such as Tibet. I have often struggled to find a balance between respect for tradition and honest critical inquiry, how to cultivate stable faith in Dharma while not giving up a healthy level of skepticism. This process of investigation is an indispensable part of our progression towards a more awakened, more compassionate, and wiser state, the ultimate goal of Buddhist practice. However, it is not easy to skillfully balance these various facets of the spiritual path in our lives. Many Western Buddhists, especially those pursuing advanced philosophical studies, come from a perspective that is highly suspicious of orthodoxy or dogma, religious or otherwise. The past few centuries of European and American thought have, after all, elevated the status of rational inquiry far above that of religious piety. On the one hand, Buddhism appeals to this rationality by deeply challenging engrained ideas about success, happiness, material wealth, and even mainstream religion. On the other hand, when we study Buddhism with traditionally trained Tibetan teachers, we often find that the teachings are intertwined with a wide range of cultural assumptions, which do not always fit neatly or comfortably with a strictly rational perspective.

It is useful to look briefly at how Buddhist philosophy has traditionally been studied by Tibetans, and to consider how this contrasts with Western educational methodologies.[3] (I am mainly referring here to the Gelug tradition, which places strong emphasis on scholastic understanding as a basis for spiritual realization.) Historically, in Tibetan culture the study of high-level Buddhist philosophy has been almost exclusively the domain of monks. The Tibetan monastic approach involves many years of memorization, study, and debate of texts that are complex and multi-layered, sometimes incomprehensible without explanations of highly trained masters. The students learn the art of debate from a young age, methodically analyzing a wide range of subjects, beginning with simple phenomena such as colors and shapes and moving on to more complex topics, such as divisions of the mind, advanced logic, and so forth. The debate format is tightly structured and follows strict rules, requiring students to thoroughly memorize the texts and to internalize the rules of debate to the point of their becoming virtually automatic. Without memorizing the texts, it is impossible to get far in a debate. There is no room for guessing or speculation; the respondent must be able to reply with absolute precision, based on what is stated in the text. As their studies progress, they apply their analysis to increasingly subtle topics, such as the four noble truths, emptiness, dependent arising, and the paths to liberation and enlightenment. After gaining a solid foundation in logic, debate, and the overall Buddhist worldview, those seeking to attain the degree of Geshe (a Buddhist monastic academic degree) spend many years studying subjects such as the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajnaparamita), Middle Way (Madhyamaka), valid cognition (Pramana), ethical discipline (Vinaya), and manifest knowledge (Abhidharma). Monks (and now nuns) can obtain one of several types of Geshe degree, the highest level being Geshe Lharampa. Although this approach is most emphasized in the Gelug tradition, the different Tibetan traditions offer variants of the Geshe degree. The deep understanding that one gains from these many years of study and debate becomes the basis for the transformational wisdom that one may later gain from deeper meditation on these subjects.

The curriculum of the Master’s Program as it is presently structured includes three of these five “great texts” and their Tibetan commentaries—Maitreya’s Ornament for Clear Realization (Abhisamayalamkara), Chandrakirti’s Supplement to the “Middle Way” (Madhyamakavatara), and Vasubandhu’s Treasury of Manifest Knowledge (Abhidharmakosha)—as well as the “grounds and paths” of tantra and the Guhyasamaja Tantra (which are normally studied only in specialized tantric universities). Supplementary subjects such as mind and awareness, philosophical tenets, or reviews of the main topics are sometimes taught if time allows. Students take regular exams, and at the end of the program, they review and are examined on all five subjects. In order to receive a completion certificate, they are also required to do one year of retreat, which allows them to integrate the material more deeply. Parallel to the residential course is an online course, with students around the world studying via an e-learning environment, with recorded review lectures, quizzes and exams, and online discussion.

Given the much shorter length of the Master’s Program compared to traditional geshe studies, the MP clearly does not aim to produce “Western geshes,” but to give Western students a complete education in Buddhist studies. However, this format is not without its shortcomings. While students in such a program receive an enormous amount of teachings, and thus a good basis for deepening their studies and practice, relatively little time is dedicated to a deep analysis of the teachings, and formal debate is virtually absent. There are numerous reasons for this, one of the principal ones being the difficulty of translating the highly formalized Tibetan debate method, so deeply based on rote memorization, into a Western context where students have little familiarity with memorization as a learning tool. With this lack of debate, the teachers and tutors of such a program are forced to come up with effective tools for helping students not only to learn, but to master such dense, difficult material. So far, this has been one of the greatest challenges of this program.

I have had the great fortune to study these texts with highly qualified teachers, including my principal teacher Geshe Jampa Gyatso, who helped me to understand that Dharma is not just about knowledge obtained from study, but the skillful integration of this knowledge into our experience, and the transformation of our very way of being. As a tutor for such a program, I have found myself trying to explain Buddhist texts that are often centuries old, with multiple layers of meaning and complex terminology, to students whose culture and worldview differs radically from that which informs these texts. These texts are often obscure and difficult to understand, even for the most erudite lamas and scholars. A Western tutor working with this material may feel obligated to be faithful and respectful to the tradition, on one hand, and wish to make the teachings relevant to students’ lives and spiritual development, on the other—not an easy task. With more general subjects such as the Stages of the Path (lam rim), this is already challenging, but many lam rim subjects are self-explanatory and one has some flexibility in how to present the topics, choosing to emphasize some more than others, offering different interpretations, and so forth. However, with texts as complex as the Abhisamayalamkara or Abhidharmakosha, just to understand the basic meanings of the texts requires extensive study and reflection, and understanding their relevance to practice means taking a huge leap beyond that.

Difficulties for Western Students: Challenging Orthodoxy

Western students of Tibetan Buddhism must wrestle with apparent contradictions between the worldview and didactic methods in our own culture and those that we encounter in traditional Asian Buddhist teachings. The cornerstone of a modern Western education is critical examination of facts from varying points of view, without automatically privileging any one of these points of view as absolutely true. We are taught to value originality and to explore ideas that innovate and challenge orthodoxy. In traditional Buddhist teachings, on the other hand, innovation is often regarded with deep suspicion, and even discouraged. Although we are encouraged to rigorously analyze the teachings before accepting them, this analysis takes place almost entirely within the accepted parameters of the Buddhist worldview, and those propounding new interpretations of the Dharma may be viewed as pariahs, whose straying from accepted explanations might somehow contaminate the teachings—even Tsongkhapa was heavily challenged and criticized for his sometimes radical interpretations of Buddhist teachings.

Despite the strong emphasis on reasoning, it is difficult to escape the weight that the authority of tradition and scripture carries for traditional Buddhists. There are unspoken, but evident, taboos in not accepting certain teachings as infallible truths. Thus we see that when His Holiness the Dalai Lama questions the validity of Abhidharma cosmology or downplays certain aspects of traditional teachings, there is no hesitation in following his lead. However, if a less authoritative teacher or (heaven forbid) a Westerner challenges orthodoxy in the same way, it may even be seen as a degeneration of the purity of the lineage, when in fact such a person is simply following the Buddha’s advice to closely examine the teachings. This can create a sense that one cannot ask honest, critical questions without being judged or criticized; one may begin to feel that one is not a “good Buddhist” if one asks too many questions. We find ourselves in a quandary: our initial sense of skepticism and curiosity, which led us to the apparent tolerance and openness of the Buddhist tradition, now comes to be seen as risky, or even dangerous. However, if we are to develop into mature practitioners of the Buddha’s teachings, we must ask some difficult questions. We may even need to ask what it really means to be “Buddhist.”[4] It would be unusual for Tibetans to question whether or not they are Buddhist—Buddhism is a culture and tradition they are born into and which they, for the most part, readily accept. For Westerners, more investigation is required when one decides to actively engage with Buddhism as a practice and view.

Dharma in the Modern World: Developing New Tools

Let us consider the idea of “transmission” of the Dharma—the Buddha’s teachings—and what that entails. Traditionally, the Buddha’s teachings are divided into the Dharma of scriptures—the texts containing the teachings and commentaries of the Buddha and the lineage masters—and the Dharma of realizations—the internalization of the meanings in these texts, resulting in the final goal: liberation or enlightenment. In reality, these two are intimately related, and both are necessary in order for the Dharma to be effectively and completely transmitted from one culture to another. The transmission of Dharma depends on maintaining an “uninterrupted lineage” of the canonical texts, teachings, and commentaries from qualified masters to their disciples, but just continuing the scriptural transmission is not sufficient, even if done with great faith and diligence, if we do not also transmit the transformative aspect of the teachings, the realizations. A complete transmission of the Dharma is contingent on the development of skillful methods that enable the transmission of these teachings to different cultures, and thus a certain amount of adaptation is unavoidable. This has been the case everywhere that the Dharma has traveled from one culture to another: from India to Tibet, China, Korea, Burma, and other countries that became Buddhist. Now Buddhism has come to the West, in a period in which technological advances have rapidly sped up the availability and exchange of information. Those involved in this exchange must adapt to this reality and utilize a variety of methods in this transmission, not just traditional ones. If we simply mimic the traditional methods of Buddhist study and education without adapting them to their new context, we may well see these sublime teachings, which show us how to develop the greatest human potential, becoming little more than quaint, but largely irrelevant, cultural relics. One of the greatest challenges we face in this process is how to relate Buddhist scholastic practice to the practical, realized aspects of Dharma: cultivation of positive inner qualities such as mindfulness, mental stability, compassion, and wisdom. In Buddhist terms, we need to approach this process with a balance of skillful methods and penetrating wisdom, integrating the insights of the Buddhist tradition with the best of Western pedagogical methods and technology.

When studying the great philosophical texts of Buddhism in a traditional way, students would first memorize the “root text,” and then receive a transmission and detailed commentary on the entire text from start to finish, slowly bringing out the deeper meaning through extensive debate, as mentioned earlier. Without the process of internalization and mastery that occurs through debate, it is difficult for students to identify the essential points in a text that may consist of literally hundreds of lists, definitions, and conflicting assertions from various philosophical points of view. When studying such texts without training in debate, Western students encounter many difficulties in knowing how to “take the essence” of these teachings, and how to put them into practice.

It would be easy to suggest that Western students should simply learn how to debate like Tibetans, but the traditional reliance on memorization brings up many difficulties. We have a strong tendency to suspect or even reject anything resembling dogma or absolutist religious authority. Rote memorization has long been rejected in Western education in favor of developing skills of critical thinking and analysis; originality of thought, rather than repetition of doctrine, is one of the prime objectives of modern education. While a traditionally educated Tibetan student would not have much difficulty accepting that something is true simply because it was stated by the Buddha, Nagarjuna, or Tsongkhapa, a Western-educated student might strongly question the notion of the author’s infallibility. This is not to say that memorization should be rejected outright—it can indeed a very valuable tool for sharpening one’s mental faculties, among other things—but it needs to be supplemented with learning methodologies more familiar to Western students, where one would consider a broader range of viewpoints, even from other traditions or disciplines. We should make use of the many tools we have, not just dismiss them as irrelevant to the study of Buddhism.

We must also remember that while Tibetan monastics often begin their religious studies as children, Western students in programs such as the Master’s Program have already acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience, both through higher education and professional careers. Despite this, it seems that when we approach traditional Dharma studies, we often feel compelled to reject large parts of our “secular” learning, rather than building on it and integrating it with our understanding of Dharma. This only serves to strengthen a false dichotomy between “worldly” knowledge—literature, art, science, philosophy, mathematics, etc.—and “Dharma knowledge,” which concerns questions that somehow transcend this world. I often get the impression that Western Buddhists feel they must ignore the great intellectual, artistic, and spiritual innovations of their own culture—whether they come from Einstein, Jesus, Shakespeare, Picasso, or John Coltrane—in order to be serious Buddhists, rather than appreciating how the insights of great minds, regardless of their culture or religious beliefs, may help to cultivate a broader, deeper understanding of Dharma. Rigidly adhering to such an artificial split contradicts the exemplary openness shown by the Dalai Lama, who has consistently pioneered and encouraged cross-cultural and interdisciplinary dialogues, such as the Mind and Life conferences, and the introduction of scientific education into Tibetan monasteries. He has even appointed an American monk as the abbot of a Tibetan monastery.[5] We would do well to learn from the example of His Holiness, who consistently shows himself to be an innovator in the best sense of the word, as well as being an undisputed master of the subtlest points of Buddhist philosophy and practice and a living example of compassion, kindness, and deep insight. Lama Thubten Yeshe was also a proponent of integrating modern knowledge with Buddhist wisdom: “Today, scientific technology has discovered many things that human beings cannot touch—energy, for example. This development of scientific higher consciousness is beautiful; we can carry it into our meditation. When people who study and practice Dharma examine developments in scientific technology, they can find extraordinary examples that they can use. This understanding of reality is very important.”[6]

Conclusions: The Road Ahead

What can we conclude from all of this? Are we looking at the inevitable degeneration of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, in favor of a dumbed-down Buddhism ready for easy consumption by a public wanting everything to be downloadable as a smartphone app? Not at all. We are looking at an evolution of Buddhism in the West, just as it has evolved in its transmission from India to many other cultures, including Tibet. In order for the Dharma to continue to thrive, and for Dharma education to develop in the West, a few fundamental ingredients are necessary: first, willingness to experiment with the format, and not being obstinately attached to an exclusively traditional approach; second, a clear understanding of the goal of such education: a combination of scholastic depth and experiential application; and third, an approach that builds bridges between the wisdom of Buddhism and of our own cultures, such as science, the humanities, and philosophy, rather than seeing them as contradictory. All of this, of course, needs to be carried out in a way that is balanced and respectful, by teachers who understand the teachings well and have made serious effort to internalize and realize their meanings. My hope is that we will see in the future a proliferation of aspiring bodhisattvas who are able to integrate their intellectual and experiential understanding of the great spiritual insights of the Buddha and the great Indian and Tibetan masters with the thought of Plato and Wittgenstein, quantum theory, neuroscientific research, and expressions of Dharma in literature, art, and poetry, all for the greatest benefit of infinite sentient beings. Why not?

 

Patrick Lambelet
Tutor for the online FPMT Master’s Program
Pomaia, Italy

© Patrick Lambelet
March 23, 2014

Footnotes

[1] Despite being called “Master’s Program,” this program is presently not formally accredited by any university and does not lead to an MA, or Master’s degree.

[2] There was an earlier version of the program, before 1998, but it was not as comprehensive, with regular examinations and certification.

[3] Georges Dreyfus’ book, The Sound of Two Hands Clapping, is an excellent resource for this subject, combining academic research on Tibetan monastic education with reflections drawn from his own experience as a Western Buddhist monk (Dreyfus was the first Westerner to obtain the Geshe Lharampa degree).

[4] Interestingly, the Tibetan word translated as “Buddhist” (nang pa) literally means “insider,” or “practitioner of the inner tradition.” It thus has a broader sense than simply being a follower of the Buddha, unlike, for example, the term “Christian.”

[5]In 2012, His Holiness appointed American monk Nicholas Vreeland as the abbot of Rato Monastery, in India, telling him, “Your special duty is to bridge Tibetan tradition and the Western world.” See Tricycle article (www.tricycle.com), Fall 2012.

[6] Lama Thubten Yeshe, Becoming the Compassion Buddha (2003, Wisdom Publications), p. 44.

See also

 

 

The New Kadampa Tradition / Kadampa Buddhism: The Real Danger

GUEST POST by Robert – a former NKT monk

The Real Danger

If you are a scifi fan, you may remember the old television show, ‘Stargate: SG1′, where in the later series there were two races who were said to have transcended the mortal realm: the Ori and the Ancients. The Ori created a book, similar to the Bible, called the ‘Book of Origin’ and they promised their followers perfect enlightenment, if they simply put their unwavering faith in the Ori, and put aside their own intelligence for the ‘Will of the Ori’. The most devout of the Ori followers became like mindless zombies, or shells of the people they once were, who emptied their minds and allowed the Ori to speak through them. Then on the other hand, we had the Ancients, who mainly spoke in apparent riddles, not unlike Zen Koans. In stark contrast to the Ori, the Ancients did not tell their followers anything of the truth, and refused to help them directly, as they believed that human beings must think for themselves and realize the truth for themselves. So they would not help them to ‘ascend’, rather they had to learn for themselves.

These two fictional enlightened races are a great metaphor for two ways we could approach religion or a spiritual tradition. The majority of religions are not too dissimilar to the Ori, in the sense that practitioners are told what to think and how to behave, by following a book. In these religions there is not much room for free-thinking, as they are centred around the concept of faith. All good things are promised to those who have faith, and not for those who harbour doubts or refuse to believe what they are taught. Over time, when one has developed ‘faith’ in their religion, they think for themselves less and less, and rather than relying on answers born from their own contemplation, they refer to answers handed to them by their teacher or written for them in a book. They become like a zombie, or a religious parrot. Like the followers of the Ori, they put aside their own intellect, as a sort of lazy mentality emerges, where all the answers are given to them, so they don’t need to bother to contemplate for themselves.

Buddhism, for the most part, is the healthy alternative, where its practitioners, like the followers of the Ancients, are encouraged to think for themselves and arrive at their own understanding. They are encouraged to look for themselves at the reality of their own minds and see what’s there. Through genuine Buddhism, the mind can become strong and healthy, through seeking out its own understanding.

However, even Buddhists can fall into the Ori’s trap, and this is particularly true for one young tradition, which broke away from its much broader-minded and wiser parent, Tibetan Buddhism. This tradition is called the New Kadampa Tradition, or the NKT.

After it’s break-away from Tibetan Buddhism, the NKT became much more fundamentalist and purist than its predecessor. They removed all books from their Dharma centres that were not written by the NKT Guru, and advised their practitioners to only read their Guru’s books. The NKT wants its followers to have only one source of information on the Dharma, or spiritual truth: their source.

When they choose some of their new followers to becomes teachers, they are instructed to teach directly from these books, and not from any other source of information. They are to put their own understanding aside, and are told to imagine the Guru is speaking through them. Over time, the ‘teacher’ becomes like a mindless parrot, with no understanding of their own to share and only speaking the words they have been told to speak. When they are asked a question about the Dharma, they do not refer to their own understanding, but will often begin their thoughts and speech with “my Guru says.”

If a student ever questions or doubts the teaching of the Guru, they are told that their own mind is impure and deluded, so their own intellect is unreliable, and that they must rely on the Guru’s wisdom instead, as he is enlightened. In this way, students of the NKT gradually learn to think less and less for themselves, as they steadily increase their faith in the Guru’s wisdom. Eventually, they never harbour doubts in their mind, as they perceive their own mind as being deluded and unreliable, so they never take their doubts or questions seriously, and always fall back to their ‘faith’ in the Guru.

This is further enforced through manipulation of the students through fear. There is something I forgot to mention about the Ori: those who refuse to put their faith in them are simply destroyed. This is not so different from the NKT’s brand of fear manipulation. Early on in the student’s learning, they are taught to rely on the Guru, and they are also taught that those who abandon the Guru, or break their vows, will create the horrible karma to be reborn in a violent hell realm for a near-infinite period of time. They are also taught that for every moment of doubt that arises in their minds, they are creating a future in hell for themselves. Over time, these beliefs become ingrained in the student’s mind and they come to really believe these statements to be true. So the student does not dare to doubt the Guru, or to leave the tradition, out of a very real fear of hell.

I don’t think I have to connect the dots any further for the reader, as it is clear to see the blatant and horrifying similarities between the New Kadampa Tradition and the Ori. This, I feel, is the real danger of getting involved with this tradition. It is a great shame, that those sincerely interested in Buddhism, may stumble upon this tradition first and not recognize the difference between it and genuine Buddhism. This is a very real threat as well, as no tradition has expanded at the rate the NKT has. Almost every city and major town in England now has an NKT centre, and even the surrounding towns have branch classes, stretching out from the parent centres. This is due to the large amount of income the NKT receives, through donations from its students, excessive fees for its meditation and Buddhism classes, its festivals, Dharma shops and even hotels and other businesses.

Just like the Ancients of Stargate: SG1, the Buddha’s true intention for us, was for our minds to grow strong, through thinking and questioning things for ourselves, through doubting things not blindly believing them, through doing the work for ourselves, looking and seeing what is the reality or the truth of our own minds and the world we live in. The Buddha wanted us to “come and see”, not just believe what he has told us out of laziness or fear. The Buddha himself grew up in a time where the people put their blind faith in books and superstitions, just like the followers of the Ori, but the Buddha was the one who questioned things, who doubted what he was told. His mind grew strong through thinking and looking for himself, and he wanted everyone else, including you and I, to do the same.

Thank you for reading,
Robertline-gothic

Robert set up a Facebook group, Exposing the NKT. The description of the group is:

This community is for those who wish to share and discuss their experiences within the New Kadampa Tradition, so we can support each other, and also we hope that this information may prove valuable to those interested in the tradition, who want to learn more about what they are getting themselves into.

This is also a community for the research into the Dorje Shugden controversy, and the elaborate campaign the NKT has undertaken against His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

We are not a hate community, and we believe in unbiased research. Our goal is simply to make information available to people, with which they can make up their own minds.

We believe that current NKT practitioners, as well as ex-practitioners, deserve our kindness and respect, so this community will not tolerate any hurtful speech, and we wish only to benefit all parties.

See also

 

The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and the Dalai Lama

GUEST POST by Robert – a former NKT monk

The Protests

If you have tried to attend one of the Dalai Lama’s teachings in the west over the last six years, you will have noticed a peculiar mob of people gathered outside in a loud, formal protest. This mob is composed almost entirely of western Buddhists, both ordained as well as lay, who have determined to follow the Dalai Lama wherever he teaches, to demand he give religious freedom and stop lying. These are the chants you will hear, “Dalai Lama, stop lying!” and, “Dalai Lama give religious freedom!” It is quite a peculiar thing to behold, as rather than a visibly angry protest, the protesters all have big smiles on their faces, as if they are in some kind of blissful trance, and the chants have a definite rhythm to them, and are even accompanied by musical instruments, such as drums and tambourines. You will even see ordained monks and nuns dancing. It’s almost as if you’ve stumbled into a Hare Krishna street festival.

This apparent blissful harmony may at first seem contradictory to their very message which is summarised in their deafening chants. It may seem contradictory to the hateful and racist speech found in their leaflets they hand out that call the Dalai Lama such names as “The Saffron-Robed Muslim”. The reality is that the majority of these protesters know very little about which they are protesting, aside from what they are spoon-fed from their teachers.

Central to the NKT’s daily practice is “reliance on the spiritual guide”, which in their eyes requires the development of an unshakeable faith in their teacher, or Guru. To ‘doubt’ their teacher is considered a delusion, and it is also believed that those who doubt their Guru will create the bad karma to be without religion in the future, and furthermore, to abandon their teacher means they will create the bad karma which will cause them to be reborn in hell for a near-infinite period of time. So this is an example of how fear works in a belief-system. Because this belief-system is so strongly ingrained in practitioners, they don’t dare let their mind wander to doubt and these protests are a prime example of this. They happily protest, because they will do virtually anything their Guru asks, even without understanding all of the facts for themselves.

I know this first-hand, as during the year 2008 I found myself partaking in one of these ‘blissful protests’. Back then, I was an ordained monk in the New Kadampa Tradition. I remember the day our Buddhist Centre, where we lived, received a letter from the Guru, requesting us to take part in a protest against the Dalai Lama. For many of us, it was the first time we had heard of this conflict between our Guru and the Dalai Lama, so we were quite shocked. I personally did a little research online at the time, but I really didn’t understand the situation, and did not know who was right or wrong. So I fell back on my ‘faith’ and assured myself that my Guru was enlightened and he knew what was best and I shouldn’t doubt him.

So I found myself engaging in the 2008 protests in London and Cambridge. I had a peaceful mind and no aggression in the slightest towards the Dalai Lama. If anything, I was looking forward to seeing him, and I felt a little elated as he waved to us all from his car window, as he approached his teaching venue. With my peaceful mind, I protested loudly, holding a banner that read “Dalai Lama stop lying”, shouting the same chants that they still chant today, “Dalai Lama give religious freedom!”, “Dalai Lama stop lying!” I was able to remain at peace, as this wasn’t really my protest. I didn’t really understand it, but I was told I was creating good karma, as I was following my Guru, and it was for a good cause.

However, my faith began to waver a little, when I read the booklets we were handing out. The language used was very crude and full of insults, like an angry child had written it. This was the booklet that contained the phrase “The Saffron-Robed Muslim”, which was a phrase that stuck in my mind and disturbed me. I thought to myself, “was this written by my Guru, who I believe is an enlightened Buddha? Even if it was not written by him, surely he must have approved this booklet!” It did not add up for me at all. I had joined Buddhism to become a better person; someone more peaceful and kind. This was not what I had imagined Buddhism to be.

I even had a dream, the night after my second protest. Some may say dreams are meaningless, and sometimes I agree, though other times I think our deeper self has an important message for us. In the dream I was among the followers of the Dalai Lama, almost like a spy, and we were standing behind some barricades. The Dalai Lama came walking by, like he was on the way to a teaching. Everyone was cheering him except for me. I tried to shout out my words of protest, but the others around me kindly and warmly tried to stop me by putting their hands over my mouth, but I did it anyway. “Stop lying!” I shouted out and the moment the words left my lips, there was complete silence. The Dalai Lama had stopped and was now facing me. He approached me and warmly spoke, “you must not make up your mind, until you understand all the facts.” This advice was like a lightning bolt and I will never forget that dream.

The Tibetan Situation

My dream showed me the reality, that I did not understand the situation in Dharamsala, the situation of the Tibetan people in exile, and the controversy surrounding the practice of Dorje Shugden. The only information I had was what had been fed to me by the NKT. Often this information was watered-down, very narrow-minded and superficial, even twisting the facts. In this world you can find circumstantial evidence to support virtually any claim, and if you piece it together just right, it can become very convincing, especially to those so deep in the bias that results from the brain-washing of a belief-system such as this, that it’s an absolutely necessity for them to believe in it. The NKT’s campaign against the Dalai Lama is not at all about the unbiased revealing of information. It is about slandering the Dalai Lama by whatever means possible. They have gone out of their way to attack the Dalai Lama’s reputation and the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism as a whole.

They believe so strongly in their cause, and need to believe so strongly, that they will do anything to achieve their goals. It’s not about making information available, it’s about destroying someone’s reputation. This is why they will call the Dalai Lama such names as ‘the saffron-robed Muslim’ and the ‘false Dalai Lama’, and producing derogatory imagery of him. Here is a direct quote from an NKT monk, who is actually one of the leaders and organisers of the protests:

Demonstrations my friend, and lots of them. Using every peaceful and wrathful method at our disposal to make the Dalai Lama realize what a horrible mistake he has made.

So you can understand from this statement above, it is clearly not about making information freely available to people, as they claim, rather it is a personal attack on the Dalai Lama. It is about winning. Those who they upset or offend along the way, and those who have their experience of the Dalai Lama’s teachings ruined by their protests, these are just acceptable losses to them.

The whole drama has come about from the Dalai Lama advising against worshipping a particular diety called Dorje Shugden. This is not, as the NKT would have us believe, a violation of religious freedom. The NKT would have you believe there is even violence against Shugden practitioners, and they went so far as to take the Dalai Lama and his administration to court. It is important to note, however, that the charges were thrown out, as there was no evidence of ANY specific instances of these attacks.

After studying scriptures of religious texts in-depths, the Dalai Lama concluded that Shugden was an evil spirit and worship of him did not belong in the Tibetan monasteries, so he advised everyone against the practice. It was voted upon in individual monasteries, whether to continue the practice or not, and the result was not to continue, and those who wished to remain in the monasteries were asked to take an oath that they would not practice. The local people also wanted to take this oath, but were denied, so they decided to gather together and take oaths of their own. Unfortunately this has caused a division between those who are against Shugden practice and the minority of those that still choose to practice it. It is not, however, how the NKT would portray these circumstances. Shugden practitioners are not ostracised from society and there is no evidence of violence against them. On the contrary, there are investigations into Shugden practitioners themselves, surrounding the deaths of monks close to the Dalai Lama. Also, one Tibetan monk recounted an event he personally witnessed at only 15 years old, where he witnessed pro-Shugden monks violently beating anti-Shugden monks.

The NKT would have you believe that Shugden worshippers are banned from even grocery shops, so they cannot even buy food, and are treated as real outcasts. The reality is they are restricted by certain monasteries and religious shops, as their practice is not compatible with the mainstream practices of those monasteries. In other words, it is against their belief system. We wouldn’t expect Catholic monasteries to allow Wiccans and Pagans to live with them, because that would be in contradiction to the beliefs of the monastery as a whole.

To those who are non-religious or don’t believe in spirits, evil or otherwise, this whole situation may seem absurd. It may seem absurd for the Dalai Lama to ask people to stop worshipping an evil spirit if they don’t exist! We have to remember though, that for Tibetan Buddhism and for the NKT, these spirits are considered as real. These are religious communities after all, where the existence of good-natured enlightened spirits and also evil spirits are regarded as real. So we have to think in this proper context, without bringing in our own beliefs about spirits. In this context, if there really is an evil spirit who can harm people, then of course the Dalai Lama is going to want to restrict this practice.

We also have to remember that the Tibetan country in exile is not like countries here in the west. It is a religious country, where the political leader and the religious leader is the same person, so the effects of alterations in the religion are further-reaching than similar alterations would be here in the western world. So we cannot think of this situation in terms of how we live in the west. There are always problems and disputes when things change, but this is not a matter of religious freedom. Just as Wiccans are allowed to do their own practices freely, as long as they are not living in a Catholic monastery, Shugden practitioners are allowed to do their own practices freely, as long as they don’t do it in a Tibetan monastery that has taken oaths not to do the practice. We must also bear in mind that these Shugden monastics are not homeless in the slightest, as there are monasteries they can live in that endorse the practice of Shugden, such as Shar Gaden. One only has to visit DorjeShugden.com and click on ‘Places’ in the top menu, to see the many monasteries that support Shugden practitioners.

The problem is that Shugden practitioners are angry that their practice is no longer part of the mainstream of Tibetan Buddhism, and they blame the Dalai Lama for this and want to discredit him and try to force him to reverse his decision, through harassment. It is certainly a shame that some of the Shugden monastics had to leave the mainstream monasteries and find new homes, but this inconvenience for them is the far lesser of two evils, from the point of view of the Dalai Lama, who we must remember is the spiritual leader of a society that deeply believes in good and evil spirits. We should never forget this context of the Tibetan culture and religion, and we should not impose our own beliefs on this matter. We must respect the right of the Dalai Lama to make decisions on behalf of his people, in respect to this culture and religion, which is different to ours, here in the west.

Thank you for reading,
Robertline-gothic

Robert set up a Facebook group, Exposing the NKT. The description of the group is:

This community is for those who wish to share and discuss their experiences within the New Kadampa Tradition, so we can support each other, and also we hope that this information may prove valuable to those interested in the tradition, who want to learn more about what they are getting themselves into.

This is also a community for the research into the Dorje Shugden controversy, and the elaborate campaign the NKT has undertaken against His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

We are not a hate community, and we believe in unbiased research. Our goal is simply to make information available to people, with which they can make up their own minds.

We believe that current NKT practitioners, as well as ex-practitioners, deserve our kindness and respect, so this community will not tolerate any hurtful speech, and we wish only to benefit all parties.

See also

Dalai Lama: Good and bad Buddhist monks in Tibetan Buddhism

If we look back, many of the things we did in Tibet were wrong — like sectarianism, not … paying enough attention to monks’ Vinaya rules. If we continue with this kind of system, Buddhism will not exist, will not continue, will terminate one day. In Tibetan tradition we have a saying– in some families, a saying: ‘Oh I have a boy, he’s not very clever, he’s kind of sloppy, let’s put him in the monastery.’ If you do like that, the monasteries and Buddhism will not be in good shape.

So if you want to be a good monk, if you are genuine and determined, then it’s good to become Sangha. And don’t enter Sangha just to find a livelihood there … Monks should be knowledgeable, and hardworking, focused on the Dharma. So then the Sangha will have more respect.

In Tibet, we have a system of monk tax. That means each family has to donate … one child to the monastery. That’s not a very good thing to do but it was passed. Real sangha should be voluntary. So we should not leave everything to custom and tradition. I am saying this out of concern. I personally don’t lose anything … that’s why I’m stressing on these things. We must change our system and should not just carry on with old systems, sort of corrupt and hypocritical ways of our functioning in our older system. – (Day 2, Kalachakra preliminary teaching, 2014 Ladakh; position 1:30, 140,000 attendees)

See also

  • The Monk Scam: Faux monastics prey on tourists in New York City by Daisy Radevsky

Fruitful discussions on Facebook about the Shugden / Anti Dalai Lama campaign with NKT followers

The Facebook group Talk about Shugden – which I cannot follow due to not being on FB – seems to offer a useful discussion between ill informed NKT zealots and more informed or at least more reasonable and openly investigating people. Here an excerpt which was sent to me based on my request to give an example … In the following discussion you find an exploration of the term “ban” that’s implied meaning in Western context was already rejected by Prof. Thurman, a Tibetologist. Also the Dalai Lama repeatedly said, that he never used the term “ban”. According to the information I got, the term His Holiness the Dalai Lama uses is tenpey nangpey which means determine, not ban, in Tibetan ban means khagdhom.

Is there a Tibetan word that means ‘ban’ as understood by native English speakers?

By Steve Maxwell on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 9:37pm

Silling was having a conversation on fb: wnttas recently where it became clear that Tibetans do not even have a word for ‘ban’ that carries the same meaning to a native English speaker.

Inspired by this and a posting by Khyenrab (posted below) I posed a few questions. The arena is here:

Gen la Khyenrab For those who still claim that there is no ban: The words mostly used are bkag.sdom.byed.pa and its synonym dam.bskrags.byed.pa meaning “ban,” “prohibition,” “restriction,” “restraint;” New Light English-Tibetan Dictionary compiled by T.G. Dongthog, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), Dharamsala, 1985, Second Edition, p. 31, p. 352, p. 383, p. 382; also, in Tibetan, one term is used to define the other: bkag.sdom byed.pa: gang jung byed michog pa’i dam.bsrags byed.pa, Bod Gya Tsig Zoed Chenmo (The Chinese – Tibetan Dictionary), People’s Publishing House, Beijing, Second Edition, 1996. The word bkod.‘doms, “order to stop,” “ban” is used in Resolution No. 21 of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies prohibiting Dorje Shugden in very strong terms as to “never ever” permit the practice, that is, from now until forever. In addition, Resolution No. 21 refers to the 13th and 14th Dalai Lama’s use of the word bkag.’gog, “order” and “prohibition” “to stop” or “to take out forcibly.” The Private Office of the Dalai Lama in a letter to the abbot of Sermay Monastery in Bylakuppe, March 30th, 1996 mentions a ban (bkag.sdom and dam.bsgrags bkag.sdom) by the 13th Dalai Lama to justify the prohibition of Dorje Shugden on the basis of the so-called “prophecies” by government oracles pointing towards danger to the health of the Dalai Lama and the cause of Tibet. On May 8th, 1996 in a public address in Dharamsala (on video tape), for example, the Dalai Lama says, “It has been twenty years since I first mentioned the Dorje Shugden public restriction (ngas dam.bsdrags byed..pa.yin). Also, in an address on May 5, 1996, the Dalai Lama say, “It may have been about ten years ago. While giving a lam.rim teaching at Drepung, I once gave my reasons for issuing the ban.” (Tibetan: dam.bskrags); Select Addresses of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Issue of Propitiating Protector Deities, Sherig Parkhang, Dharamsala, July 10, 1996, p. 175; and “In this way came the reasons, on account of which I have issued the ban (Tibetan: dam.bsgrags) in recent times. In banning [this reliance on Shugden], many came forward and declared that henceforth they will abide by my injunctions….” p. 183. Also, the term dgag.bya spyi nan shugs cher bstsal.rjes or “strong prohibition emphatically proclaimed” is used in Report No. 28/7.8/1997 by the exile Tibetan version of [India’s most secret police] RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) of the Department of Security in Dharamsala, “Specifically, after issuing an emphatic ban at his [the Dalai Lama] spring teachings of 1996, most of the Tibetans living in exile and within Tibet, who are gifted with intelligence and patriotism, have respectfully complied and appreciatively mended their faith accordingly.” When a Swiss journalist asks the Dalai Lama on camera, “Why this ban?” he answers, “Tibetan Buddhism is such a profound tradition. …etc.” The Dalai Lama does not deny a ban when asked “Why the ban?” Swiss TV DRS Series “10 vor 10,” “Bruderzwist,” * broadcast Jan. 5-9, 1998. Also, the Dalai himself refers to his “restriction” of Dorje Shugden as a “harsh step,” quoted in an Announcement by Kashag (Cabinet), May 22, 1996.

Steve Maxwell This is an exploration of Gen la Khyenrab’s post of 27 June at 11:44 which I have just read.

1. I don’t intend to engage in an extended debate, I do not have the intellect or knowledge of the Tibetan language for that.

2. There is a dispute about whether the Dalai Lama has issued a ban against the practice of Dorje Shugden.

3. In part this relies on the words that he used, and how these words have been understood by his supporters and by Shugden supporters.

4. There is an assumption here that the word ‘ban’, while a convenient expression in English, is understood to have the same meaning to Tibetans. If there is ambiguity about its translation / meaning then there is the opportunity for conflict. If the concept of ‘ban’, in an English sense is not precisely the same in a Tibetan sense; then when each side claim and counter-claim there will be no common ground.

6. Notwithstanding dictionary definitions (as quoted by Gel la Khyenrab) is bkag.sdom.byed.pa synonymous with dam.bskrags.byed.pa? Do they have the same meaning? That is, are they widely understood to be the same meaning by Tibetan’s? Do they both mean ‘ban’ by non-Tibetans? Or is there a ‘softer’ meaning such as ‘restriction’ rather than ban?

7. By now it will come as no surprise that I think there is such a difference. ‘Ban’ is easy to fit on placards, fits easily into chants, but probably does not convey the full comprehensive meaning in Tibetan, for Tibetans, of what the Dalai Lama intended.

8. Gen la Khyenrab, please tell us where (minutes and seconds please) in which video, the Dalai Lama uses the expressions bkag.sdom.byed.pa and dam.bskrags.byed.pa. (your expressions since I am no Tibetan scholar, The Dalai Lama may say something slightly different.)

9. Here I focus on just the words, there are plenty of other discussions to be had, I prefer not to muddy the waters with these.

… deletions here …

Jamyang Dakpa The phrase bkag.sdom.byed.pa is far different from dam.bskrags.byed.pa. HH never used bkag.sdom.byed.pa as far as I know.

The word dam.bskrags.byed.pa is used when you are urging to do something. But bkag.sdom.byed.pa is used when you are ordering. HH never ordered to stop worshiping Dhogyal so there is no reason to use the phrase དཀག་སྡོམ་བྱས་པ། **

Kelsang Jangdom Hi Steve Maxwell

In a Resolution about this issue published on the Dalai Lama’s own website it says

“7. Together with documents pertaining to this ban on the worship of Dholgyal, this Congress will urge each and every spiritual master, including geshes, that in the interest of the health of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Independence, they should stop worshipping Dholgyal;”

Check it out – point 7 (of 9).

http://www.dalailama.com/…/dolgyal-shugden/tyc-resolution

This shows the influential Tibetan Youth Congress describe it as a ban.

Kelsang Jangdom Regarding the ban, this quote comes from the following article: Condemned to Silence: A Tibetan Identity Crisis 1996-1999 by Ursula Bernis, p. 11,

“In March 1996, His Holiness strongly advised his followers not to rely on the Dharmapala Dorje Shugden because, according to the prophecies of his oracles, Dorje Shugden harms the institution of Dalai Lama, his life, his government, and the cause of Tibet. Immediately government offices promulgated this advice, stated in no uncertain terms by the Dalai Lama, and turned it into a full-fledged ban”

http://www.shugdensociety.info/pdfs/BernisResearch.pdf ***

Steve Maxwell Kelsang Jangdom, I am not yet convinced that the authors are using the word ‘ban’ in that same sense that natural English speakers are using it. Which Is why I was asking Khyenrab, or preferably a natural Tibetan speaker, where in the video does HH The Dalai Lama use the Tibetan words specified. Specifically at what times were each word used in which video.

Your reply about the resolution, point 7 does not quote the words of the Dalai Lama; and it is what he says that is disputed here. Revealingly though, the quote that you use does illustrate the point that I am making. It says, “Congress will urge …”, The word ‘urge’ does not carry the same sense of compulsion that the word ‘ban’ carries.

I have not yet read your later reply.

Atisha’s Cook Steve – it’s disingenuous in the extreme to claim there’s no ban.
about an hour ago · Like · 4

Gen la Khyenrab Debating ‘no ban’ is a waste of time – Steve is just wasting time
44 minutes ago · Like · 2

Steve Maxwell Kelsang Jangdom, your quote, “In March 1996, His Holiness strongly advised his followers not to rely on the Dharmapala Dorje Shugden …”

Again you support the point that I am making. ‘His Holiness strongly advised’, is not the sort of wording a person would normally use when describing a ‘ban’.

Gen la Khyenrab, a pity that you think so lightly about clarifying a key issue such as where and when did HH Dalai Lama say the equivalent of ‘ban’ in Tibetan. You spent some time in your earlier post quoting from dictionaries, all that I am asking for is at what time, in which videos did he use words that you interpret as ‘ban’.

Atisha’s Cook, I know that there are many other issues. I know that the restrictions placed on Shugden practitioners have upset people (yes I know you would put that much more strongly). Since Gen la lists the Tibetan words, and I don’t know Tibetan, in the interest of clarity I would like to know where HH The Dalai Lama uses them.

line-gothic

Here is another discussion with Gen Kelsang Khyenrab (see comment section) on the Hindustan Times: http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/chandigarh/pro-china-group-harming-cause-says-tibetan-leader/article1-1237684.aspx

Brief annotations

* This video Khyenrab is referring to is from a series of documentaries and was the start of it. This documentary has created a lot of controversy in Switzerland (see “Dorje Shugden Übersicht – Quelle: Tibet Focus“), and was not only criticized by Tibetans but also by journalists and researchers for its one-sidedness and sensationalist approach that missed to ask Tibet experts, and believed blindly in whatever was told to the film makers.

The magazine had to apologize to the public for the the one-sided report defending themselves “We are an infotainment-magazine and not a research institution.” At the end they produced a new documentary to balance the faults of the first documentary – that has become now so widespread on YouTube and which Khyenrab is referring to. In that documentary the same magazine interviewed for the first time the Indian police and a researcher, and look, things shine in quite another light, and the TV magazine had to correct many of their former claims.

However, this ‘self-correcting documentary’ has never been translated into English nor is there an English version of it on YouTube – balanced information seems to be too boring … The documentary can be seen here in German only.

** A senior Tibetan scholar wrote in an email today:

Dam-sgrags, which is the term cited as the term His Holiness has used, is translated as “restriction” in Goldstein’s Tibetan-English Dictionary of Modern Tibetan. In Bod-rgya tshig-mdzod chen-mo it is defined as ‘khrims-kyis ‘doms-pa’am do-dam btsan-po, which means a regulation or strong directive (made) by law.  It is clear from the Chinese translations in the dictionary and the examples of the usage of the term that it means a regulation restricting something, like a directive for a curfew  regulating when or where you can and cannot go walking  at night. This does not have the same connotation as a ban.

We need to differentiate what His Holiness has actually said and what various departments in the Central Tibetan administration have said.

*** Ursula Bernis wanted to publish her work at a reputable academic publisher. That publisher asked established scientists (among them a professor at a university) about the quality of Ursula Bernis’ work. The scientists came to the conclusion that it is a one-sided, partisan piece that doesn’t meet academic criteria for publications. That’s why her work has never been published by any publisher and the Delhi Shugden Society made it finally available on their website as a PDF.

See Also

 

Anti-Dalai Lama Shugden Group continues their campaign and spins the facts endlessly

Over the last days some people sent me new links about the activities of the International Shugden Community (ICS) / New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).

It might be a total waste of time and energy to follow their irrational, distorted and factual incorrect slander campaign. Because links and a new post were sent to me and in case you are interested, here an update …

The NKT was able to post a pro Shugden article in “The London Economic” which seems to be a self-made “news site” which posts bits from here and there. I had no time to read the article but it was said that they wrongly claim I had made the images for the CTA of Tibetan Shugden followers (which is a blatant lie as most of what NKT/ICS say). The NKT website www. arebuddhistsracist. com states that it is “our latest article on The London Economic” which makes clear who the source of the article in this online newspaper is. The anonymous author of that article, Indy Hack, pretends to be a journalist and compares the Dalai Lama with the British pedophile Jimmy Saville on his twitter account  and he links there to the NKT website www. arebuddhistsracist. com. Ok, this is how they invent propaganda in the guise of “news”.

Also propaganda in the guise of “news” has been further spread on YouTube by the NKT/ICS/Kelsang Rabten. I briefly glanced through it and recognized that they claim wrongly (what else can be expected than wrong, distorted, semi-true, and untrue information or blatant lies) on minute 6:11 that there were lists of Tibetan Shugden followers in the past and that people on the list were murdered. Total fiction. Nobody from the Shugden people have ever been murdered (except “impure” Shugden practitioners by Shugden himself according to the highest Shugden authority, Trijang Rinpoche). In real life, Shugden people are accused by the Indian police of triple murder and in an evil minded conspiracy Shugden people attempted to murder the assistant of Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche (a Shugden proponent) in order to blame the CTA/Dalai Lama for that murder (see Bultrini.)

To make it short. The confusion, hate and misinformation of the ICS/NKT are endless and it is a waste of time to go into detail in my opinion. However, for those who still need analysis, here is a GUEST POST (the author is known to the blog owner) that analyses the latest YouTube video of the NKT/ICS.

@NKT/ICS: I made screenshots of what you posted in the context of this post. Even if you change some of your distorted propaganda due to this post (as you did in the past), I have the evidence. It is you who are lying and not the Dalai Lama or me as you wrongly claim.

There are also two new pieces with respect to Shugden. One is a summery of the CTA position & one comes from the background of the CTA:

line-gothic
GUEST POST

The Falling Standard of the NKT’s International Shugden Community Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles in India or Novice Theravada Monks in Burma?

(A Critique of Lies and Misinformation in ISC’s “Exiles in Exile” youtube video)

The latest NKT-created International Shugden Community video presses all the right emotional buttons to ready the troops for the protests they are presumably planning in Germany. Sadly, it contains no compelling evidence and deliberate misinformation. One wishes the NKT ground troops would demand a higher standard from the people who deliver them the “facts”. But why worry about facts when you can manipulate people’s emotions with footage of seemingly suffering children?

Would NKT use and manipulate images of suffering children in order to influence their followers? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

One of the opening scenes from the video is seemingly impoverished child monks begging for food on a dusty throughfare. Such footage would seem to confirm that monks were left homeless because of the Shugden issue. But actually, the footage presumes ignorance on the part of New Kadampa followers of other Buddhist traditions. This is because the footage comes not from Tibetan monasteries in India but a traditional Theravada Buddhist alms round in Myanmar (Burma).

It would be good for NKT followers to get to know more about other Buddhist traditions. They should know that in the Theravada Buddhist countries of South and South East Asia, young novice monks going through a period of temporary monastic training. Part of this is the tradition involves participating in the Pindabhat- or alms round, walking the streets with robe and alms bowl so the laity can make offerings of food on which they depend for their sustenance.

That the NKT lied and used footage from Burma is demonstrable for two reasons. Firstly, the robes of the child monks. In figure one you see the two piece robe style being worn by Tibetan monks, with a lower garment and upper shawl covering the vest. In figure two from the ISC video you see the one piece wrap-around Theravada robe and alms bowl uniform of Burmese novices.

Figure 3 continues with a  screen shot from the video showing a man in Myanmar, wearing the traditional Burmese lower garment called a longyi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longyi). Figure 4 shows a Burmese women in a ladies’ longyi putting food in the almsbowl of one of the child-monks.

This deliberate manipulation by NKT to attempt to poison public opinion against the Dalai Lama and mobilize their members in protest against him is part of a larger no-holds barred campaign. It relies on emotion instead of evidence, and presumes that people will not dig deeper behind the images they present.

The video continues with wild accusations and claims from people such as Geshe Jangchub Gyaltsen, who teaches at PRC-linked (include link to photo) Ganchen Tulku’s centre in Italy. Readers may remember his assertion from a previous video that the current Dalai Lama is false because he comes from a poor Tibetan village in Amdo province, and the other candidate was from a wealthy aristocratic family in the capital of Lhasa.

Geshe Jangchub remarks that after protests against the Dalai Lama between 1996-1998 the situation was “very intense” so Gangchen Tulku arranged for him to come out of hiding in India to Italy. One wonders considering there was a gap of many years between those protests and when he arrived in Italy, if his assertions are not exaggerated. It is also notable that despite the Geshe’s assertions, there is no video, photographic or documentary evidence showing that his claims of stone throwing etc. are true.

The video then makes the claim that the Central Tibetan Administration “made a list of hated people and lastly even murdered them”. Who was murdered? Where? Indeed, there are no names, dates, police reports, physical evidence or photographs. Does this mean that the NKT and International Shugden Community are now willing to lie about murder to give their campaign an urgency it does not deserve?

Considering they lost their case in the Delhi High Court and Amnesty International didn’t find reasons for taking up actions, and in light of the new lies in their propaganda, it would seem so.

Tibet’s Mystic Politics: Review of The Dalai Lama and the King Demon by Raimondo Bultrini

There is now a review of Raimondo Bultrini’s Shugden book The Dalai Lama and the King Demon – Tracking a Triple Murder Mystery Through the Mists of Time“  in the Huffington Post: “Tibet’s Mystic Politics: Review of The Dalai Lama and the King Demon by Raimondo Bultrini

The review addresses some important issues like the missing of an analysis of the Western movement behind the protests, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). The journalist, , is one of those very rare journalists that is well informed. Here an excerpt of her review dealing with some of the protagonists:

There are a number of interesting dialogues with leading Shugden personalities such as Ganchen Tulku and Kundeling Rinpoche. Significantly absent, however, is the highly influential Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who heads the New Kadampa Tradition that runs over 500 centers around the world. We never get to hear the personal perspective of ordinary Tibetan Shugden practitioners, either lay or monastic, whom Bultrini characterizes as “pawns” in the dispute.

Another omission is any substantial analysis of the Western Shugden Buddhists, who curiously have emerged as a well-funded and vocal lobby in what previously was a purely Tibetan domain. The Shugden Supporters Community, the Freedom Foundation, and, more recently, the International Shugden Community (ISC) are all fronts for the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), who make the highly implausible claim of 4 million Shugden followers worldwide. Bultrini’s inquiry would have benefited from an interview with American ISC spokesperson Rebecca Gauthier, for example, who, in between posts about “stress-busting” salad dressings, tweets things like “10 SIMPLE reasons why Dorje Shugden is a Buddha and NOT a spirit” and “The Dalai Lama is NOT REAL: find out why here.”

The review isn’t shy to make judgements and it includes also recent developments:

The attacks on the Dalai Lama by the Shugdenites, particularly by Westerners, are cultish, paranoid and extreme. While accusing him of religious discrimination, they themselves maintain a far less ecumenical approach by pressuring their own followers to not engage in Nyingma practices. But the Tibetan government’s response has been less than skillful, with incendiary speeches that have been easily interpreted as encouraging violence. Most recently, the Central Tibetan Administration has made public a “blacklist” of Tibetan Shugdenites. Dorje Shugden is either a malevolent spirit or an enlightened being, depending upon whom you ask (and the book title is revealing of the author’s own bias), but the “Shugden effect” in terms of both Tibetan society and the Tibetan cause appears to consist solely of damage. None of it seems particularly Buddhist.

However, Rebecca Novick misses the point, when stating: “In 2008 the Tibetan leadership ordered the monasteries in South India to purge their populations of Shugden devotees. Monks who had formerly lived like brothers were now forbidden to talk to one another.” In fact she demonstrates that she doesn’t understand the Vinaya procedure for settling disputes and the events that led to the majority vote in the monasteries to ban that practice from their places – which is their very right to do. Such decisions cannot be ordered (see stick vote) and they are democratic. It is also incorrect to state that “monks who had formerly lived like brothers were now forbidden to talk to one another” because there was no prohibition to talk to each other nor did they live like brothers with each other, in fact, there were a lot of tensions which were aimed to be solved and settled by majority vote.

Ignoring history and facts, Shugden followers and NKT/ICS spokesperson Len Foley claim wrongly in the comment section: “… using the term “Dolgyal” in a book title is offensive to me, as a Shugden practitioner, and should be offensive to anyone who doesn’t appreciate religious slurs being so callously used in public.” Foley and his misinformed NKT fellows don’t understand that Dolgyal was a common but less exalted name for Shugden even used by the strongest Shugden proponent, Pabongkha Rinpoche (see Dreyfus’ research):

If we look at earlier mentions, however, we can see that Shuk-den also appears under another and less exalted name, i.e., as (Dol Gyel (dol rgyal).Even Pa-bong-ka calls him in this way when he says: “The wooden implements (i.e., crate) having been thrown in the water, the pond of Dol became whitish. After abiding there, he became known for a while as (Dol-gyel).”[23] This name helps us to understand how Shuk-den was considered in the earlier period, that is, as a troublesome but minor spirit, an interpretation confirmed by the explanations concerning Drak-ba Gyel-tsen’s reincarnation.

The name (Dol Gyel) is quite interesting, for it yields a possible explanation of the origin of Shuk-den. It suggests that originally Shuk-den had a close regional connection with the area of the Tsang-po and the Yar-lung valleys where the pond of Dol lies. There, Shuk-den/ Dol-gyel was considered a (gyel po (rgyal po)), that is, the dangerous red-spirit of a religious person, who had died after falling from his monastic vows or had been killed in troubling circumstances.[24] Shuk-den/ Dol Gyel would then be a spirit from Southern Tibet, potentially troublesome like other red-spirits. No wonder then that his identification with Drak-ba Gyel-tsen was rejected by the latter’s followers as an insult to this important and unfortunate lama.

The article by Rebecca Novick describes also how China takes advantage of the situation

Chinese authorities in Tibet have been quick to take advantage of the situation, knocking down statues sacred to followers of the Nyingma and erecting statues of Dorje Shugden. The Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama (as opposed to the one acknowledged by the Dalai Lama and the majority of Tibetans) finds support among key Shugden leaders, and Bultrini asserts that a number of Shugden projects are funded directly from Beijing.

Read more

 

Hoax or Disinformation: A Letter from United Front of the Tibetan People

Some people make a big fuss of a letter that has been sent to people by a so called United Front of the Tibetan People. A “hero member” of the DorjeShugden.com site states:

A friend just received these letters today. It is very worrying! Please circulate this to as many authorities as possible… even the FBI… this is out right threats, if it isn’t I don’t know what is. This is a clear indication of a hit-list sent out to Tibetan to attack 34 Tibetans who protested and the list is probably growing. Shame on you CTA. You cannot get away with murder!

Letter from United Front of the Tibetan People:
Please read the letter that I received today from The United Front of the Tibetan People – this is quite shocking. It says things like “I think we need to take action against the 34 Tibetans and teach them lesson. We need to silence them and not let them protesting.” This is really unbelieveable and clear evidence of bullying and discrimation.

The NKT nun Kelsang Chogyop received this letter in the USA and spread it via Facebook. From there it made its way through the internet. The letter to Kelsang Chogyop seems to have contained also the highly questionable lists of Tibetan Shugden protesters. Mixing again fiction with facts.

The letter is either a hoax or it can be even disinformation from the Shugden people themselves.* There is no United Front of the Tibetan People. Any thinking person will see that the letter is also plain stupid speaking of the Dalai Lama as a god etc. Who takes this letter seriously can not be taken seriously … The letter is signed by four individuals. In the context of this controversy nowadays almost nobody wants their name even to be mentioned not to speak about signing such a letter with your real name. Everybody can take this letter and can go to the next police office to ask the police to take actions … The letter has no website address either …

* In the past it was planned by Shugden people to murder the assistant of Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche in order to blame the CTA for this murder. For details see excerpt here.

Update

Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Theravada Buddhism – Ajahn Brahm

Theravada Buddhist monks, generally speaking, are very conservative. They often claim that they are the guardians of “Original Buddhism” from the time of the Lord Buddha Himself. They consider that one of their most important duties is to preserve these precious and authentic early teachings. In this context, what was the tradition in the time of The Lord Buddha with regard to women in the Sangha?

All monks of all traditions in all countries, and all Buddhist lay scholars as well, fully accept that there were fully ordained women, called Bhikkhuni, in the lifetime of the Buddha. Moreover, it is clearly stated in these early teachings that one of the goals of the Lord Buddha’s mission was to give the full ordination to women:

Ananda, once I was staying at Uruvela on the bank of the river Neranjara (present day Bodh Gaya) under the Goatherd’s Banyan tree, when I had just attained supreme enlightenment. And Mara the Evil One had come to me, stood to one side and said “May the Blessed One now attain final Nibbana, may the Sugata now attain final Nibbana. Now is the time for the Blessed Lord’s final Nibbana.”

At this, I said to Mara: “Evil One, I will not take final Nibbana until I have bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, lay men and lay women followers, who are accomplished, trained, skilled, learned, knowers of the Dhamma, trained in conformity with the Dhamma, correctly trained and walking in the path of the Dhamma, who will pass on what they have gained from their Teacher, teach it, declare it, establish it, expound it, analyse it, make it clear, until they shall be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen, and teach the Dhamma of wondrous effect (MahaparinibbanaSutta 3. 34-35)

Theravada Buddhists should have an advantage over other major world religions because their tradition explicitly gives such equity to women. Christianity has no tradition of gender equality in their priesthood. Nor does Islam, Judaism or the various schools of Hinduism. Buddhism stands apart and ahead of its time in granting such status to women from “when I (the Lord Buddha) had just attained supreme enlightenment” at Bodh Gaya.

Therefore, full ordination of women is part of the earliest tradition. It is also the declared wish of the Lord Buddha.

Read more …

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More about Full Ordination for Women in Theravada tradition

More about Full Ordination for Women in Tibetan Buddhism

Propaganda: The making of the holy Lama Ole Nydahl

I am not too much interested to discuss Ole Nydahl in this post. I wrote at length on him here on my German website. The German article was the result of a collective effort by Ole Nydahl followers to remove criticism from the German Wikipedia. After a mediation had been provoked by me one of the (female) editors was able to influence the moderator of the Wikipedia mediation by secretly inviting him to a dinner and a lecture of Ole Nydahl. (I found that out when I checked their talk pages and what they had deleted at those pages.) When I realized this I confronted the moderator and the editor with these facts and finally I withdrew from the mediation and the German Wikipedia article about Ole Nydahl and made my own article about him …

According to all information I checked, read, and received, I think, it is safe to say that Ole Nydahl is a classical elitist leader who gathers people who finally identify themselves with an elitist group and its leadership, the Diamond Way; elitists who are convinced that it are they who bring the Dharma (within the context of Tibetan Buddhism) to the West – and Tibetans or Buddhist monks or nuns are not much needed for this process.

Ok, naivety and pride can make you everything believe no matter how stupid it is.

In that sense Ole Nydal and his Diamond Way followers are quite similar to the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). Another similarity Ole and his Diamond Way Buddhism share with the New Kadampa Tradition is the occupation of a respected name for their spread in the West. Like the NKT occupies and claims to be the inheritor and the possessor of the ancient Kadampa school, Ole Nydahl and his Diamond Way devotees occupy and claim to be the inheritor and the possessor of the Karma Kaygue Tradition in the West. Both share also the missionary drive, rapid expansion, badly educated teachers, and a superficial understanding of the Dharma. Ole Nydahl has been rightly criticized for promoting a hedonist version of Buddhism. Ole Nydahl has also been accused of speaking in a conceited and militaristic way, of being right wing, racist, sexist, and hostile to foreigners. He became also infamous for his strong hostile attacks against Islam.

However, he and his followers see themselves as yogis … maybe, the first yogis of the Karma Kaygue Tradition who do not live in caves, solitude or the forest and who do not have to rely on renunciation but (samsaric) joys like bungee jumping, fast motorbike races, parachuting, sex etc.

In Germany people reported to me that Ole Nydahl and his followers took over most of the German Karma Kaygue Centers and made them their own centers. They said they did it by making devoted followers members of the respective charity trusts, removing the old board and installing a new board that followed Ole Nydahl and his favorite Karmapa candidate (Thaye Dorje). There were mainly only three very strong persons in Germany who were able to resist Ole Nydahl’s taking over strategy, a former army general and two architects. The latter also won the court case (after Nydahl and his followers took over their centre in Hamburg) and they kicked him and his followers out of it.

Having said this, there are also some good things about Ole Nydahl and his Diamond Way Buddhism:

  • it is not too difficult to leave the group (though similar to NKT to go to other Buddhist teachers, centers or Buddhist traditions, is seen as something to be avoided, and Nydahl and his followers share also an attitude of sectarianism with Kelsang Gyatso and his followers)
  • those who left the group are not damaged too much but report that mainly there has been benefit for them and they can continue under good teachers outside of Diamond Way very easily
  • many (but not all) think with gratitude about their time in Diamond Way, and say it was a good initial start for Dharma practice to them
  • Ole does not establish himself as the sole authority for his students or even as a Buddhist master but Ole invites also other Buddhist teachers like the late Shamar Rinpoche etc.
  • Ole accepts when a student leaves him and when the student says he wants to follow another teacher. A former student told me that Ole wished him all the best and let him go without grasping or hostility.

What I want you to make aware of is the following propaganda video:

Here is an analysis to it:

For a video about Tibetan yogis see here

More critical information about Ole Nydahl

Burkhard Scherer (a desciple of Ole Nydahl) about Nydahl and his group from an (rather biased) academic point of view

The True Nature of the NKT Sponsored International Shugden Community Hate Campaign …

GUEST POST

The True Nature of the NKT Sponsored International Shugden Community Hate Campaign Revealed: The Usurping of the Dalai Lama and Destruction of the Tibetan People’s Institutions in Exile

The videos released by International Shugden Community narrated by anchorman and sometimes NKT monk and resident teacher Kelsang Rabten are becoming increasingly political in nature. The thin veneer of a “human rights campaign” is beginning to peel away to reveal the true nature of these provocative protests and online hate media that goes along with them: the complete usurping of HH the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama institution, and all of the institutions serving the Tibetan exile community in India.

The stage for this phase of the program was set with the new slogan being chanted by singing and dancing NKT members, some in monastic dress: False Dalai Lama. Such a slogan was developed with the view of establishing a doubt regarding the authenticity of the Dalai Lama in the minds of the general public attending his open talks. It was also meant to mobilize the ground troops of drum playing NKT “ordained Sangha” around a new effort – the usurping of Tenzin Gyatso from his position as the 14th Dalai Lama.

The video opens with intrepid reporter and part-time NKT monk Kelsang Rabten yelling at the Dalai Lama about being false and Reting’s recognition being fraudulent. He repeats over and over “it says you are the false Dalai Lama.” It is interesting that, having gone to the trouble to sneak into the talk and penetrate security, rather than bring up the Shugden issue (which is ostensibly the reason NKT is protesting), Rabten decides to use his 15 seconds in the spotlight to question the Dalai Lama’s authenticity and the validity of Reting Rinpoche as a regent.

The video then cuts to Rabten sitting in a living room in Italy (perhaps a side trip during the Livorno protests) presuming to present an “in-depth report” and says that in this edition he will be SPEAKING with several Western and Tibetan scholars to hear what they have to say about the issue of the “False” Dalai Lama. Interestingly, there are no interviews with Western scholars included in the piece, just highlighted excerpts from library books. One Tibetan’s face is blurred throughout the interview so it is difficult to determine if he is a scholar. The only true interview excerpts included in the piece (and questionably translated), are with a Geshe who teaches at Gangchen Lama’s centre in Italy. The significance of the only Tibetan scholar on the video being a resident teacher at Gangchen’s centre will be explained later.

First it is important to examine the source of the “research” that part-time monk Kelsang Rabten presents during his in-depth report. The only university level research he consults is the work of two China-linked Western academics, Melvyn Goldstein and Tom Grunfeld.

Of the two Melvyn Goldstein is the more authentic, although he is regarded as having a pro-China bias that runs through much of his work. Tom Grunfeld, on the other hand, has been mired in controversy throughout his career for his colonialist, racist sentiments that mark his attitude towards the Tibetan people (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-schrei/what-good-it-does-a-respo_b_479379.html). This is on top of his lack of capacity in primary research regarding this topic as he understands neither the Tibetan or Chinese language.

The famous Tibetan scholar Jamyang Norbu describes Grundfeld’s “research” as racist at best:

Another propagandists for China with pretensions regarding Tibetan history is Tom Grunfeld of Empire State College NY, author of The Making of Modern Tibet. I have written a fairly long review essay, Acme of Obscenity on his anti- Tibet “history”, where I have also provided detailed information of his Maoist background and his lack of qualifications (no knowledge of spoken or written Tibetan or Chinese language – for starters). If a similar book appeared today about Blacks or Jews there would, without doubt, be universal public outcry. Tom Grunfeld writes that Tibetan mothers licked their babies as they emerged from the womb – like animals. He goes on to specify that Tibetan were cruel, dirty, ignorant, syphilitic (90% of the population suffering from venereal diseases according to TG) sexual degenerates who were observed making love on rooftops in full public view. Clearly this is intended to portray Tibetans as barbaric, subhuman, even bestial, thereby justifying Communist Chinese rule in Tibet as necessary and civilizing.

One wonders how the moral indignation with which NKT members and Shugden protestors’ react to accusations of links with China cannot be laughed at, as their propaganda relies on the work of scholars holding a racist view of “backward Tibetans”, and sees the PRC as “liberators”. If this were truly the case, why did Shugden lamas along with the lamas of other lineages seek to leave Tibet when the PRC invaded?

Part-time monk Kelsang Rabten then goes on to describe research that indicated Reting had a lust for power, and for this reason installed the fase Dalai Lama. It is never explained how choosing the “wrong Dalai Lama” would help raise Reting’s political profile.

From the way the story is presented it seems as if Rabten would have us believe this is the first time there has been more than one candidate for the position of tulku. This is patently false, and anyone with even a cursory familiarity with Tibetan history knows that almost every candidacy for the position of a high lama involves some element of controversy regarding the recognition. (see the articles on this site regarding the Karmapa dispute).

It would seem that the mere fact that there was another candidate is grounds enough to usurp the current Dalai Lama and label him as false. Several of the Tibetan Dalai Lama supporters now active on facebook regarding this issue, notably Siling Rinpoche, a scholar-lama from Sera Mey monastery, made the very valid point that the previous Trijiang Rinpoche’s recognition was also fraught with controversy. In fact, the majority of the people in the region from which the most vociferous of the Tibetan Shugden protest participants hail, Chatreng, was initiatlly dead-set against the recognition of the previous Trijiang Dorjechang, as he was from the U-Tsang region rather than their locality from where the Trijiang line traditionally came from. This information is contained within the autobiography of the previous Trijiang tulku.

The video then goes on to a supposed “interview” with a blurry-faced “Tibetan scholar” who says, with no evidence, names, or dates etc. that “many lamas, many people and many (sic) Tibetan government don’t believe he (Tenzin Gyatso) is the real Dalai Lama because there was one other child (candidate).” By way of evidence for this proclamation it is only revealed that the other candidate had “some signs”. (Those familiar with the process of tulku recognition in Tibetan Buddhism will note that it is not at all a rare occurrence for several children to exhibit signs of being a reincarnation. Indeed, in the case of the Dalai Lamas, it is the historical norm that several candidates were considered.)

Kelsang Rabten then goes on to explain that the current Dalai Lama was found in a village with a large Muslim population called Takster, a repeat of NKT’s Islamaphobic “saffron-robed Muslim” campaign, equating that since the Dalai Lama comes from a Muslim region he must be “false”.

The remaining balance of the video is an interview with Geshe Jangchub Gyaltsen who is credited as being “from Ganden monastery, now resident in Italy.” This does not give the whole story, as a simple web search reveals that Geshe Jangchub Gyaltsen is now actually the resident teacher at Kunphen Lama Gangchen Centre in Milano, Italy. (http://www.lgpt.net/News/12/09a_12en.htm)

Geshe Jangchub insinuates that since the other child candidate (who was later recongized as a lama called Diktru Tulku) comes from the Lhasa region (instead of the poorer and less famous region of Amo from where the current Dalai Lama was born), and since his family was wealthy and well-known in Lhasa society, he (Diktrul Tulku) must have been the correct candidate. One wonders who would take such elitist and classist comments seriously.

The dharma centre where Geshe Jangchub teaches is significant as the spiritual director of Kunphen Lama Gangchen Centre, is no other than a disrobed monk from Sera Mey, Lama Gangchen, one of the most vocal Shugden supporters in Europe, who can be demonstrably linked to Chinese government authorities. His photos feature prominently on PRC propaganda sites where he lauds the Communist Party of China’s activities that “benefit and protect” Tibetan culture. (http://info.tibet.cn/en/newfeature/xzt_1stwenhult/xzt_1stwenhult_chuxizh/t20061011_160742.htm)

So what does this all mean, and why have the NKT-sponsored International Shugden Community videos gone from the Shugden issue to proving the Dalai Lama is “false”?

It is this author’s opinion that Shugden is actually a secondary issue. And that the current provocative activities are actually the result of careful planning by NKT founder Kelsang Gyatso, Gangchen Tulku (author of “Ocean of Truth Explained) and Kundeling Rinpoche (who said that the communist invasion of Tibetan by China was a good thing on television) to attempt to completely discredit and overthrow the Dalai Lama.

Shugden is a banner around which the troops of NKT, Ganchen Centres and, to a lesser extent, Tibetans from the Chatreng region and Serpom, can rally around. It is a way to mobilize a reasonable amount of people to discredit the Dalai Lama and disturb his followers, so that his activities can be undermined.

This is actually a political move by conservative Gelugpas opposed to the increasingly non-sectarian nature of Tibetan polity and openness of the Dalai Lama’s presentation of Tibetan Buddhism. As the Dalai Lama has in their eyes betrayed the traditional Gelugpa hegemony of the Tibetan political establishment he must be “false” and therefore worthy of deposition. In the words of Kelsang Gyatso’s student who posts under the moniker Atisha’s Cook, the Dalai Lama must be “shamed, belittled, ridiculed and discredited.”

It is worthy of note too that the court case brought to the Delhi High Court by the NKT-supported Dorje Shugden Devotees Society involved a writ application about the legality of the Central Tibetan Administration (formerly the Tibetan Government in Exile). One wonders how a deliberate attempt to deconstruct an organization that gives voice to the difficulties of Tibetans, and has no practical real political power in India accomplishes anything.

Indeed, such moves by Shugden lamas would be reason to label them as being agents of the Chinese regime, lauding Chinese government activities in Tibet and attempting to undermine the activities of the Central Tibetan Administration. One wonders how this hobnobbing of Shugden lamas with the Chinese authorities helps the cause of Tibetan Shugden worshipers who the NKT say are ostracized from their communities. Indeed, it would see to contribute to the marginalization of their communities in exile.

The current shift in focus of the NKT’s campaign, from the Shugden issue to a movement to depose the “false Dalai Lama”, reveals the nature of the intention of this group of fundamentalist lamas from the beginning.

One wonders who has anything to gain from such a move, when the pressure on the Tibetan people and their culture is at an all time high. It would seem, only a small group of fundamentalist Shugden lamas and the Chinese authorities.

 

See also

On Shamar Rinpoche’s death and the future of Karmapa

14th Künzig Shamarpa

14th Künzig Shamarpa

Occurring in Germany at a time the Karmapa was touring there, the untimely death of Kunzig Shamarpa inevitably gave rise to some speculations. More important than this coincidence and associated elaborations about karma or even magics is, however, what implications his death has on Tibetan politics at large. Central is that it remixes the cards in a dispute which lasted on the Tibetan exile society for more than two decades and considerably constrained the radius of action of the Karmapa after his arrival in Indian exile, a fourteen years ago. That it happens at a point of time India is entering a new political era makes it potentially even more significant.

Arguably, India’s foreign policy establishment has been since Nehru’s time more inclined to search common ground with China than be supportive of Tibet. To say the least, it certainly did nothing to facilitate the young Karmapa’s life. China itself, though irrevocably recognized Urgyen Thinley Dorje as the rightful Karmapa, did its best to entertain ambiguities around his embarrassing flight, in a move designed to save face in the first place, but that also left the backdoor open for a possible later return. Still, it was Shamar Rinpoche that understood best how to instrumentalise residual China angst and instill deep suspicion among the Indian security community, a community so prone to paranoia that up to the 1990s it rejected infrastructure developments in border areas out of fears they could facilitate a possible Chinese invasion. With that, he could lame the young Karmapa’s movements in India while effectively barring him to travel abroad for many years.

H.H. the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

H.H. the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

Shamar Rinpoche certainly was more efficient than China in terms of ‘containing’ the Karmapa. However, despite his opposition to Dharamsala and contrary to others – think Shugden – he never ‘played the China card’ by moving politically closer to Beijing. For one he was practical, not opportunist, but any move in this direction would have ruined the good relationship he entertained with the security establishment in Darjeeling/Kalimpong region anyway.

Despite all his efforts and very supportive followers, Shamar Rinpoche had been losing ground lately, as the visit of the Karmapa to the US and now to Europe demonstrate, and, even more so, the trip of his arch-rival Situ Rinpoche to Malaysia in late 2012. Even the Chinese propaganda apparatus started some months ago to take a more distant and increasingly critical course towards Karmapa. His sudden death, however, likely, sounds the knell of a fully new era for Karmapa.

Shamar Rinpoche’s Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje

Shamar Rinpoche’s Karmapa, Trinley Thaye Dorje

By all his skills and dexterity, there is little indication that Shamar Rinpoche, though well-acquainted with Buddhist notions of impermanence, has taken much of dispositions towards his succession. His strengths were the verve and determination typical of the Khampa chief he was – like some other Tibetan politicians. His power relied on personal charisma and a good knowledge of the terrain. His weakness was his little ability to translate this into durable structures and the lack of trust and confidence necessary to groom an adequate successor. With that, his disappearance leaves a vacuum his entourage will find hard to fill. Even Trinley Thaye Dorje, his protégé he worked two decades to establish as the rightful Karmapa, did not strike so far as a strong personality and in fact never really came out of the shade of his mentor.

Much will now depend on the new Modi administration as well as onModi himself. India’s recently elected PM has already shown a special interest in the Himalayan border regions as well as a keen intent to stand up to China. This could translate into a new, more positive approach to Karmapa, although on the other hand the flag-waving circles who surround are typically more inclined to skepticism towards Karmapa. In any case, Modi already stands under pressure from Indian Buddhists to come out in support of Karmapa, in the first place from Pawan Chamling, the Chief Minister of Sikkim, who was fast in clarifying one more time that he wishes Karmapa to visit Sikkim and reintegrate Rumtek monastery, the seat of the Karmapa school which has been stuck in legal disputes. Even Modi could not single-handidly forestall or override pending court decisions, but he could set a symbol by allowing Karmapa into Sikkim.

China was never keen on a strong Karmapa since he escaped their control. In so far, if Shamar Rinpoche was no ally, he was certainly convenient. Remains the question how China may react now. One thing it could do is encourage the finding of a new Shamarpa incarnation in Tibet and so try to progressively lure the followership of the late Shamar to its side and against Karmapa, although without endorsing Shamar’s choice. But it could also chose more wisely to do nothing and simply wait and see how the two camps sort out their differences, hoping to be able to benefit one more time from in-fightings among Tibetans and perhaps attract one or the other defector.

The article is a slightly revised version of “On Shamar Rinpoche’s death and the future of Karmapa” posted in Tibetsun.
Copyright © 2014 Thierry Dodin

About the author

Thierry Dodin is a Tibetologist linked to the university of Bonn in Germany. From the 1990s on, he was a contributor and later a trustee and the executive director of the Tibet Information Network, London. Since 2005, he has been the founding director of TibetInfoNet.

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Karmapa Controversy

See also

BBC interviews His Holiness Karmapa – Tibetan Buddhist leader’s hope

How Low Can Shugden Supporters Stoop? Dear NKT students, brothers/sisters in the Dharma: Please Pause!

GUEST POST by Joanne Clark

On several occasions, people have asked HH Dalai Lama about grief and how to deal with the loss of someone close. His Holiness responds by telling the story of his own grief over the death of his senior tutor, Ling Rinpoche. This is a moving story, clearly coming from his heart, in which he describes his loss as a feeling of losing some rock on which he can rest and be supported.

Recently, I was deeply disturbed to see a 1 ½ minute video clip distributed by Shugden worshipper “Atisha’s Cook,” in which this story of simple human feeling is mangled and distorted beyond recognition. The video clip shows a few seconds of His Holiness speaking of his feelings regarding Ling Rinpoche’s death. In the middle, there is a flash to a dark, very old black and white video—Ling Rinpoche? Then, there are a few seconds of an interview with Professor Thurman explaining guru worship and some problem from a guru passing away—with a strange flash to an old, creepy looking video of someone prostrating with a dirty sink in the background. Then there are a few seconds of His Holiness responding to an NKT nun, who accosts him in a hotel lobby.

The title of the video clip is: “Is Bob Thurman saying the Dalai Lama’s a Megalomaniac?

First, let me be clear. Thurman makes no reference to the Dalai Lama in this interview—the content of the interview makes it clear that he is not speaking about the Dalai Lama. The video clip is a horrible and false insinuation.

Here is what Thurman says: “The guru passed away—his particular lama—I won’t blame him because he was gone and there was maybe no other one who was there to sort of check up against. In that esoteric thing, the relationship with the teacher is very very important, not because you obey the teacher, but because the teacher puts you in a position there where you’re in that sort of pressured state and then you can kind of bounce against the teacher. If you get off base, the teacher will help you.”

Interviewer: “A reality check.”

Thurman: “That’s right, a reality check. He didn’t have that, and you become a megalomaniac.”

Interviewer: “And you’re not dealing with the real world.”

The video then shifts immediately to His Holiness speaking strongly, with feeling, to the protesting nun. Here is that conversation:

Nun: Stop lying.

Dalai Lama: No no no no.

Nun: You must stop lying.

Dalai Lama: I know Buddha’s teachiings.

Nun: Dalai Lama, a lying Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama: I know Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings.

Nun: Religious freedom for everyone equally.

Dalai Lama: No no, this is not religion.

Nun: All people religious freedom no matter what tradition you’re from.

Dalai Lama: This is not religion.

Nun: Religious…

Dalai Lama: This is worship of spirit. So that’s wrong.

Nun: Religious freedom, must have religious freedom.”

Here is what I find deeply disturbing:

  1. Human decency is transgressed. A story of simple human feeling is cut and ridiculed beyond recognition. The title of the video alone stirs up hatred and it is horribly demeaning.
  2. The video is a total distortion of fact. It insinuates a complete lie. It is based on the assumption that Bob Thurman is talking about the Dalai Lama in his interview. However, it is clear from his statement that Bob Thurman is not talking about the Dalai Lama—I have not located the complete interview, but it is likely that Thurman is speaking about someone such as Michael Roach—or even Kelsang Gyatso himself— because it is clear that he is explaining some serious misconduct by a lama—which he simply would not do regarding his own teacher.
  3. The cut and paste mentality is one that promotes complete ignorance and horrible bias. Wisdom, as found in the great tradition of Tsongkhapa, is cultivated through reading entire texts, entire statements, entire histories—and reflecting on the truth of those—not jumping to conclusions from little sound bites. Viewing this 1 ½ minute video clip objectively, it is clear that its only motivation is to incite feelings—ignorant, mob-mentality feelings.
  4. HH Dalai Lama’s response to the nun in the hotel lobby is the response of a bodhisattva who is passionately concerned with truth and the welfare of others. If one views the “dialogue” between the nun and the Dalai Lama objectively, the nun’s words are clearly passive aggressive. Statements such as “Dalai Lama, a lying Dalai Lama,” spoken to his face, cannot be viewed as “peaceful.” They are insulting and aggressive. The words by His Holiness are strongly spoken, with feeling, but they never come even close to attacking the person of the nun—or even attacking her actions. He speaks with the same passion and emotion during public talks when he is advising attendees to avoid harm. In addition, the nun’s words are like words from a robot, who is not engaged in thinking or responding to the others’ statement—but simply engaged in the one line, over and over, in mind-numbing fashion.
  5. The manner in which the video clip is cut and pasted insinuates that the Dalai Lama is a megalomaniac because he has strong opinions about the dangers of Shugden worship—and the teachings of Tsongkhapa. Like so much of the Shugden propaganda machine, it is based on falsity and a breach of logic. It is based on dumbing down sincere practitioners of dharma to the point where they commit actions that compromise their own human decency.

Dear sincere NKT students and Shugden worshippers. I would never shout “Kelsang Gyatso, lier” while he was in the midst of teaching the precious dharma. I would never look him in the face and say, “Kelsang Gyatso, a lying Kelsang Gyatso” and fool myself that because my voice was quiet, these words were not horribly aggressive and harmful. I have differences with your teacher, but I would never stoop to such a level—nor would I insult any person whatsoever in that way. Never. I believe that you also have values of human decency that you hold dear. I believe that you value the teachings of Tsongkhapa as I value those teachings. I believe that you value honesty and kindness, as I value those attributes.

So please, be careful. When you hear stories of how there were “mobs” of protestors outside of the Dalai Lama’s teachings in Italy and that those teachings contained many empty seats, know that these are lies and that once more you are being duped. Know that this is an ancient ploy to lead you into believing that you have a just and true cause, with many supporters. Know that there is a chain of little, seemingly insignificant lies such as these leading you to compromise yourself and your own intelligence and human decency.

Most importantly, when you are told that HH Dalai Lama has broken his sacred connection to his “root guru Trijang Rinpoche” know that this is one more lie you are being fed to incite your hatred. You will not find any statement from His Holiness in which he speaks of Trijang Rinpoche with disrespect. On several occasions, I have heard him quote from Trijang Rinpoche, in order to make a point in a teaching or book. He clearly respects Trijang Rinpoche’s teachings and sets a great example for us all in that regard on how to properly follow a guru, even if you disagree with that guru on a serious issue. His approach is one totally supported by scriptural authority. It is the same approach taken by Atisha himself.

His Holiness has simply disagreed with Trijang Rinpoche on the matter of Shugden worship, nothing more. Shugden.com has inflated that into a horrible lie.

In Lamrim Chenmo, Tsongkhapa quotes from Cloud of Jewels Sutras which says, “With respect to virtue, act in accord with the gurus’ words; But do not act in accord with the gurus’ words with respect to nonvirtue.” And then he says, “Therefore, you must not listen to nonvirtuous instructions. The twelfth birth story [of the Buddha, who was asked in a former life to commit a nonvirtue and refused] clearly gives the meaning of not engaging in what is improper.”(Vol. 1, p. 86)

So we must all follow the example of the Buddha and the instructions of Tsongkhapa and look closely at what we are being asked to do by any lama or teacher. So please, dear fellow brothers and sisters in the Dharma, think before the next protest, think of those human values of decency and kindness that you hold dear. Ask yourself: If I have been lied to once, can I trust the next statement as well? Should I look more closely at each statement? Look within yourself and see if you are being asked to compromise your treasured human values, being asked to sacrifice yourself to an unworthy and harmful cause.

 

Dorje Shugden – a paper about the cessation of Shugden worship in Ladakh and the Western Himalaya

There is now a paper by Prof. Martin A. Mills, Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Religion at the University of Aberdeen, available online that offers interesting insights and a well informed background how the people from Ladakh and the Western Himalaya dealt with the Shugden interdiction and how Shugden worship disappeared in in that area.

Martin Mills also explains how the protests of the New Kadampa Tradition via the Shugden Supporters’ Community made it impossible for the people there to keep their practice and still to see the Dalai Lama as their highest authority and why and how they decided against Shugden and for the Dalai Lama, finally starting to destroy all statues and shrines of Shugden/Dolgyal. The paper gives also an insight about oracles and how a Shugden oracle in that region was found and trained and what rules he had to follow. In a footnote Martin Mills also hints an important point Westerners seem to not be aware of: they judge the Shugden Controversy from a Western/Christian based value system and don’t put themselves into the shoes of Tibetans and their society understanding their internal logic and values, easily falling pray to a European centered view to this issue. The footnote says:

This is another subtle, but important distinction between the Ladakhi view and that commonly expressed by Western supporters of Shugden, who often questioned how the Dalai Lama, who was after all a mere worldly ruler, could intervene in peoples’ beliefs and practices pertaining to a deity. While this view has strong implications in terms of European understandings of human rights (see MILLS 2003a), it is arguably based on a Christian understanding of the distinction between divine and human realms which is simply not shared by most religious adherents within Tibetan Buddhism or, for that matter, Hinduism (see Fuller 1992: Ch. 1).

Read more

Charting the Shugden Interdiction in the Western Himalaya” (2009) by Prof. Dr. Martin A. Mills, Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Religion, in Mountains, Monasteries and Mosques: Recent Research on Ladakh and the Western Himalaya: Proceedings of the 13th Colloquium of the International Association for Ladakh Studies. John Bray and Elena de Rossi Filibeck, eds. Rome: Fabrizio Serra Editore, 251-269.

See also

Is the Dalai Lama bad for the West? – A Round Table Discussion

A Roundtable Discussion with Dr Dibyesh Anand (University of Westminster), Dr Shao Jiang (Researcher), Dr Martin Mills (University of Aberdeen), Jonathan Mirsky (journalist), Dr. Tsering Topgyal (University of Birmingham)

Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

Is the Tibetan cause a luxury that the West can ill afford in times of economic crisis? Is good relation with China a reward that necessitates silence about Tibet? Do the efforts to reassure and engage with China on this matter promote a democratic country’s overall interests? Should economic imperatives trump political morality and security priorities? Could it be that the Dalai Lama being bad for Western economy is itself a myth that is generated by Chinese public diplomacy and uncritically accepted as common sense by international media?

In recent years, governments in democracies including in the UK, USA, India, Canada, South Africa, Japan and in continental Europe have sought to balance their purported commitment to human rights in Tibet with their desire to work closely with rising economic powerhouse of China. Chinese pressure on the leaders of foreign states to distance themselves from the Dalai Lama is well known. However, there is a new phenomenon that raises serious questions about the efficacy of sovereign democratic states to stand for principles of human rights. This phenomenon is the widespread notion that the empathy for Tibetans is a liability, that the Dalai Lama is bad for business. Foreign leaders seeking a share of Chinese economic growth not only reiterate their acceptance of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, but also go to great lengths to assure Beijing of their desire to prioritise economic cooperation over everything else.

The Tibet question is politically sensitive and complex. At the heart of it lies the fate of millions of Tibetans currently living under Chinese rule while their leader the Dalai Lama and several other key religious figures are exiled. A source of hope for the Tibetans has been the international profile of their cause and global image of the Dalai Lama. Their hope is that one day, China will realise that it is in its interest to negotiate sincerely with Tibetans for a mutually acceptable resolution. How does the rise of China and democratic states’ approach toward it affect the Tibetans?

A Brief Correction of Deliberately Misleading Information on Dorjeshugden.com Regarding the Situation at Sera Mey

GUEST POST

The then Abbot of Sera Mey, Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Rabga, who presided over the separation and segregation of monastic assets allowed Serpom Monastery (formally Pomra Khamtsen) to keep only the buildings on Pomra Khamtsen land, leaving the Serpom monks without a prayer hall, without a school and with insufficient accommodation.

1. This statement is rich, as Khensur Rinpoche Rabga did not leave Pomra Khamtsen without a prayer hall. They were able to keep the kangtsen prayer hall, a picture of which is in the very same article which prints this misleading information! The hall was plenty large enough to accommodate the Pomra monks at the time I was there. If they recruited for new monks amongst children in Nepal and needed a larger prayer hall due to that, this was well after the separation.

In fact, it was the Sera Mey Pomra monks who chose to follow HH Dalai Lama’s advice to stop propitiating Shugden who were left in the lurch. These students of the Dalai Lama have been holding their prayers in the basement of the main Sera Mey temple as they have nowhere else to go at the moment. There is project to build a new prayer hall for the kangtsen, now called Pobhor, on land donated by HHDL and the CTA. You can see a photo of the construction here: http://gedenshoelingcenter.wix.com/geden-insook#!sera-mey-pobhor-khamtsen/zoom/mainPage/imagefaa

2. In fact, it was the monks who decided to follow the advice of the Dalai Lama who were left with insufficient accommodation. Apart from those living at Jungpa and Gosok lhabrangs, monks who stayed in the main Pobhor hostel were made to feel uncomfortable and needed a new place to go. This is why the Pobhor Kangtsen building project also includes new space for accommodation.

3. In regards to the point about only being able to build on Pomra Kangtsen land- the land of Pomra Kangtsen was and is extensive, far more than that of any other kangtsen in Sera Mey. There are still significant amounts of undeveloped land under their control.

The monks of Serpom thus struggled to rebuild from near-zero, and eventually succeeded in raising sufficient funds to build a new prayer hall – the most basic structure required for a monastery.

Misleading, the monks of Serpom already had their prayer hall, the kangtsen kitchen, several large accommodation buildings, the office, a protector chapel, several shops and the kangtsen restaurant. All of which they kept after the separation. As mentioned above, it was the non-Shugden section of Pomra which had to start again from scratch.

The original monk quarters of Pomra Khamtsen

This photo of the original buildings of the khangtsen gives the impression that this is the only accommodation that Pomra was left with after the separation when they founded the Serpom Monastery. This is not the case. Pomra has significant housing assets, the buildings shown in this picture were only the first ones built. It is dishonest to publish these pictures, which give an impression of poverty.

To give you an idea of what the housing is like now, take a look to the right side of the picture, to the structure that rises above the buildings in the forefront. That is Serpom accommodation, built before the separation and which the monks kept after the separation. Very misleading.

Serpom housing includes several large, new and attractive structures to the right and left of the Sera Mey Temple Road, as you towards the temple. I encourage those who visit Sera to take a look.

Behind this wall is Sera Mey’s hospital. It was sponsored by Panglung Rinpoche, a Dorje Shugden lama

The Sera Social Service website, of which the hospital is a part, lists H. Poitner from Germany as the main sponsor of the hospital, not Panglung Rinpoche. Since the Health Centre has been named “The H. Poitner Health Centre” since before the separation of Sera Mey and Serpom, it seems the above quote is easily proven to be misinformation.

H.Poitner Health centre,

H. Poitner Health Centre

The financial plight of Sera Mey went on for some time until Kensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche single-handedly paid off all the monastery’s debts from funds raised through his center in America. With the advice of his root teacher, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kensur Rinpoche also initiated a number of projects to support the Sera Mey monks, thus allowing them to rebuild Sera Mey Monastery in South India to what it is today.

Although Khensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche (known as Ari Khensur Rinpoche) was an important benefactor, it is an exaggeration to say that he allowed Sera Mey in South India to be rebuilt into what it is today.

For example, the prayer hall project (pictured) history is as follows from the official Sera Mey website: http://serameymonastery.org/historyInExile.aspx

With the compassionate guidance and blessing of His Holiness, the indestructible blessing of the monastic congregation, the swift activities of Sera Mey’s Dharma protector Tha Ok Choegyal Chenmo, the extensive responsibilities shouldered by the most venerable ex-abbot Khyabje Khensur Rinpoche Jetsun Ngawang Thekchok and abbot Khyabje Khen Rinpoche Jetsun Lobsang Jamyang, and through the great financial supports of our sponsors, in 2002, the new monastic assembly was ready for inauguration.

However, when this great Abbot Emeritus visited Sera Mey’s kitchens after the separation, he was denied food and drink – the Sera Mey monks refused to serve him just because of his practice of Dorje Shugden.

This story is doubtful, as the author was present at Sera Mey monastery at the time of Khensur Rinpoche’s passing. Khensur Rinpoche passed away in 2004, BEFORE the separation of Sera Mey and Serpom Monasteries.

In addition, after his passing, Sera Mey performed extensive pujas for him in the main prayer hall. His name still adorns several buildings he helped finance to this day. (link to photos of pujas performed for Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tharchin after his passing in the main assembly hall of Sera Mey: http://gravesinindia.com/blog2/2009/12/ari-khensur-rinpoche-lobsang-tharchin-memorial-service-in-sera/)

Rubbish intentionally strewn alongside the main access road to Serpom Monastery, once again to deter others from visiting. As the land belongs to Sera Mey, Serpom monks are unable to clean up the debris as they will be charged with trespassing.

This area is at the border of the monastery, and has been a place for both Tibetan and local Indians to throw litter well since before Serpom Monastery was founded. It is located near a small creek choked with plastic, and so became a refuse ground.

See also

The White Shadow of the Dalai Lama

Some people from China – especially some communist “concrete heads”, far left wing people, pro Shugden campaigners and a few uninformed journalists or blogger claim a shadow side of the Dalai Lama.

Personally I have nothing against pointing out shadow sides or things which should be addressed. But what they say about the Dalai Lama is often a projection of their own shadows than being based on a real shadow side of the Dalai Lama or just facts and sober knowledge.

In the following guest post Joanne Clark sums up some points worth to consider.

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GUEST POST by Joanne Clark

It has impressed me that Shugden websites describe this person they call the “hidden Dalai Lama.” I am impressed because I follow the visible Dalai Lama, listening daily to his teachings, talks and conferences and I am awed by how any man can fit all that he does into one lifetime—yet now I am being told that he can fit even more! I would expect that during those hours that I don’t see of the Dalai Lama, he would need to be resting. But no, according to the Shugden websites, there is this “shadow” Dalai Lama who can fit an entire other lifetime in, complete with secret strategies and agendas, and he doesn’t need any rest! At the same time, they claim he is not an enlightened being!

To demonstrate my confusion, I would like to simply present a few of the facts that are clearly visible about the Dalai Lama. He is arguably the most visible and transparent individual on earth. There are literally thousands of hours of talks, interviews, teachings, conferences, photos, speech transcripts, books and random video clips of His Holiness in action in the world. I once even saw a video of him brushing his teeth!

Not only is he transparent, but he is definitely the most consistent individual I have ever known. Sometimes, for a follower such as myself, it can be a little boring listening to the same message again and again, the same stories and jokes. I have seen him jetlagged and badgered, but I have never seen him stray from who he is. Surely if there was this other “hidden” Dalai Lama, he would show up in the cracks now and then, show up under pressure or extreme fatigue?

I am concerned that the strategy of the Shugden camp is to repeat their fallacies about the Dalai Lama again and again, on many different websites, in order to create an illusion that these fallacies are true and widespread. Over time, I have noticed that even assertions that can be clearly refuted by evident fact are becoming assumptions amongst NKT students. So to counter that, I am providing the following list of evident facts about the Dalai Lama. These are not things that need to be proven or argued about. They are simply clearly evident facts. Hopefully, wise and reflective NKT students can pause a moment and ask themselves if all that they are hearing about a “hidden” Dalai Lama can be true. That’s all I ask, simply for a moment of reflection and pause.

  1. His Holiness is no longer the political leader of Tibet. He fully relinquished that role in 2011. Before that, he was in “semi-retirement”, meaning that he was in the role only of an advisor. He has been working towards the democratization of the Tibetan government for many years. Does he advise on political matters still? I see no evidence of that. If you read his speech on retirement, it is clear that his interest is now solely on his spiritual responsibilities. He has also said on many occasions that he believes that combining spiritual and political powers is not a good thing. http://www.dalailama.com/messages/retirement/retirement-remarks
  2. His Holiness takes no money for teachings or talks. Teachings in India are free and Tibetan tea and bread are generously served to attendees. Proceeds for events overseas are used to cover the expenses of his visit. Any excess is used by the host sponsors either for charitable purposes or to further their own mission. If you want to donate to His Holiness, you will be redirected by his website to the Dalai Lama Trust: http://www.dalailamatrust.org This is a non-profit charity, supporting many causes. In 2013, the trust contributed $50,000 to the Red Cross to support typhoon relief efforts in the Phillipines and $1,250,000 to the Emory-Tibet Science Partnership. In 2012, the trust contributed $1,510,000 to support science partnership projects in the West, including $1,250,000 to the Mind and Life Institute in Hadley, Mass. In that year, $10,000 went to the Tibet Fund in New York and $84,350 went to the Tibetan Village project in Westminster, Colorado.
  3. As evidenced by his generous donations, His Holiness is passionately interested in dialogue between science and contemplative traditions. His interest is based on the belief that contemplative traditions have much to learn from science and science has much to learn from contemplative traditions. http://www.mindandlife.org There are hours of conferences with panels of leading scientists in discussion with His Holiness on webcasts available on his website (www.dalailama.com). His Holiness spends most of the time during those conferences listening to scientists report on findings and asking questions. The topic is always grounded on themes of altruism and mindfulness.
  4. Resulting from these conferences are several projects that His Holiness is very enthusiastic about. These include bringing altruism/secular ethics as a subject and discipline into schools around the world—and bringing Western science as a subject and discipline into Tibetan monastic institutions.
  5. In addition to this commitment to human values, His Holiness is also committed to the promotion of religious harmony. Towards this end, he meets with religious leaders around the world, visits different religious temples and mosques, prays and chants side by side with other religious practitioners. He teaches frequently on the sameness of all religions in terms of their emphasis on human values of love, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness.
  6. I have listened to many hours of his teachings and talks and conferences. I have never heard him speak about Geshe Kelsang or the NKT. He does speak about lamas misbehaving, but does not specifically name any lama. He speaks about Shugden only when asked a direct question about the practice or when he is about to give an initiation (in which case, he requests that Shugden practitioners not attend). On both these occasions, he calmly gives his extensive reasons for discouraging worship of Shugden and for his belief that Shugden worship limits religious freedom. Citations of these reasons can be found on this website and his own website.
  7. Every time His Holiness teaches in the West, he advises attendees that it is safer to keep to their own traditional religions and he discourages them from conversion. He has many friends and followers from other religious traditions. He never propagates Buddhism—but he does propagate altruism!
  8. His Holiness teaches from Buddha, Tsongkhapa, Nagarjuna, Shantideva and Kamalashila frequently. These are clearly his favorite teachers. He says frequently that the Tibetan tradition is the Nalanda tradition and that we need to base our practice and study on those scholars of ancient India. This is the basis of his non-sectarian approach—returning to the root and foundation of all the Tibetan traditions and lineages. He has books out on Dzogchen and Mahamudra, but he does not teach extensively from traditions other than Gelug.
  9. His Holiness requests that students have copies of the root texts that he is teaching from. He will ask during teachings if they have brought their copies. Often these texts are provided. I attended a teaching on the Bodhicharyavatara in New York and attendees were given copies of the entire text.
  10. His Holiness states many times that students need to be “21st century Buddhists” and be well read. By this he means studying from a broad base of Buddhist texts as well as reading scientific and other modern texts. He encourages students to investigate and question, even their own teachers if necessary. He quotes Tsongkhapa and the Buddha—and cites stories from past masters such as Atisha—to support this approach.
  11. Yes, His Holiness “hobnobs” with the rich and famous. He also communicates with and never forgets the poor and destitute. There are stories of him making sure to meet with the employees of his hotels and teaching venues. There are photos of him with those employees. I have also seen pictures of him stopping his car in order to give to a beggar. I have seen him lovingly touching the face of a lepper. I have heard that most Tibetans who make the dangerous trip over mountain passes to leave Tibet receive an audience with His Holiness upon arriving in India. I sponsor a nun who spent some years in a Chinese prison before escaping Tibet. She is just an ordinary nun, but received an audience with His Holiness upon her arrival in India. I believe he is the most accessible of all the Dalai Lamas.
  12. When I attend his teachings, talks and conferences, I sit beside Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. All of them are deeply moved by his presence. Some of them weep. Some of them rush up to the stage to touch his hand after the event. Some of them call out “I love you.” These are people in the thousands and they are not going crazy, because they leave more grounded in reality and basic human values than they were when they came in. I have communicated with some of these people afterwards. These emotional experiences do not make them abject followers of His Holiness. They don’t cause them to become crazy. Nor do they lead them to become Buddhists. Rather, they make them more interested in their inner values, less interested in material gain and more kind to their fellow human being. Simple things. These are clearly what motivate the visible Dalai Lama.

See also

Shining Light on the Misrepresentations of the New Kadampa Tradition and Shugden Protestors

GUEST POST

Part 1, 2, and 3 of the following misrepresentations and excerpts as clarifications are based on the new ebook, Dolgyal Shugden: A History by The Dolgyal Shugden Research Society.

PART 1 focuses on the historical background of Shugden up to and including the period of Pabongkha Rinpoche.

Dolgyal Shugden: A History

Dolgyal Shugden: A History. The front cover shows Palden Lhamo.

Misrepresentation: Dorje Shugden is worshiped as an enlightened deity in the Sakya tradition.

Clarification from the text: When a Nyingma lama was trying to subdue the Shugden spirit, it fled and sought refuge in Sakya Monastery where it caused many disturbances. There, Sakya lama Sonam Rinchen bargained with the spirit that in exchange for accepting a torma cake from the monastery, in would not harm those in the region.
Sakya Scholar Jampa Thaye states: “The usual Sakya view about Shugden is that he is controlled by … Four Faced Mahakala. So he is a worldly deity, or demon, who is no harm to the Sakya tradition because he is under the influence of this particular Mahakala.”

Misrepresentation: The Fifth Dalai Lama, although initially opposed to Shugden, realized he was an enlightened being and therefore ordered a temple constructed in his honour at Trode Khangsar, in Lhasa.

Clarification: It is not clear whether or not the Fifth Dalai Lama actually established this temple. What is interesting, is that this temple is actually classified as a “Tsen Khang” (spirit house). Even if the Dalai Lama was involved with the construction of the temple, its location well outside the perimeter indicates that Shugden was worshiped as a worldly deity. Its classification as a Tsen Khang makes it clear the being inside is regarded as a spirit. Because worldly deities were not considered objects of refuge, their shrines were located outside monastic perimeters.

Misrepresentation: The Shugden practice was never controversial amongst Gelug Lamas apart from the Dalai Lamas.

Clarification: This is clearly not the case, many great Gelug lamas were opposed to Shugden practice. The author of famous texts on logic and history, Purchog Ngawang Jampa states: “Nowadays many who consider themselves followers of Tsongkhapa and adopt the three robes of a fully ordained Buddhist monk, go for refuge to worldly spirits. They will have to face the consequence of meeting with great misfortune.

Yongdzin Yeshe Gyaltsen, tutor to the 8th Dalai Lama: The new Dharma protector (Shugden) is the source of ruin of Tashi Lhunpo… if the monastery starts propitiation of some harmful spirit, it will be the source of great inauspiciousness.

The 8th Panchen Lama: “Propitiating and taking refuge in evil spirits like Dolgyal (Shugden), that are wandering hungry spirits, contradicts the practice of taking refuge in the Three Jewels, which is what distinguishes a Buddhist, therefore, such practices should be given up.”

Misrepresentation: We can prove that Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri due to his aspect and function.

Clarification: Contemporary Sakya Scholar Dhongtog Rinpoche: “You who claim that Shugden is inseperable from Manjushri, what is the source of your assertion? There is no prophecy or scriptural reference to this in any of the Buddha’s teachings, or in the works of any Buddhist master, or in the works of Tsongkhapa. If there is one, supply the quote.”

Misrepresentation: Pabongkha Rinpoche’s view of Shugden as an enlightened being is evidence this is the correct view.

Clarification: It seems Pabongkha himself wavered between various views of Shugden. When chastized by the 13th Dalai Lama for propitiating Shugden, Pabongkhapa replied: “I want to say from the depths of my heart that it is only due to my ignorance and not that I have knowingly entered onto an unwholesome path and led others onto that same path.”

Misrepresentation: Pabongkha Rinpoche was never a sectarian lama. He is merely being smeared by the Dalai Lama and his followers for political reasons.

Clarification: It is clear he was sectarian based on this and many other quotations: “… many from our own side, monks or laypeople, high or low, are not content with Tsongkhapa’s doctrine, which is like pure gold, and have mixed and corrupted this tradition with the mistaken views and practices of other schools, tenent systems that are reputed to be incredibly profound and amazingly vast but are in fact mistakes upon mistakes, faulty, dangerous and misleading paths.”

He also stated: “Apart from the doctrine of Manjughosa Tsongkhapa alone, the views of all Sakyas, Kagyus and Nyingmas are erroneous … for them liberation and the path to omniscience does not exist.”

Misrepresentation: Pabongkha Rinpoche was a completely non-political lama, and was never involved in non-religious affairs.

Clarification: Between 1938 and 1940, Pabongkha Rinpoche made repeated requests to Kham’s Kuomintang military governor, Lui Chuntrang, to forcibly suppress local Sakya, Nyingma and Kagyu monasteries for propounding a “wrong view of emptiness.” (These letters are sourced from Volume Cha of Pabongkhapa’s collected works.

Misrepresentation: None of Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo’s followers or Shugden worshipers were ever involved in violence or sectarian actions.

Clarification: From a historical account included in the book: “The Lhasa administration was forced to send a delegation to the Geluk Shitam Gompa near Chamdo after a group of monks, claiming to be possessed by Shugden, broke down and smashed the doors of the Chamdo temple … the confessed that on their way (to Chamdo) they had entered a Nyingma monastery and destroyed a 30 foot image of Padmasambhava.”

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PART 2: The Impetus for the Dalai Lama’s Opposition and an Examination of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his sectarianism.

Misrepresentation: The Dalai Lama’s words against Shugden have no basis in reason whatsoever.

Clarification: The current Dalai Lama began to speak out on this issue with the publication of a violently sectarian work called “The Yellow Book” by Zemey Rinpoche, threatening “impure Gelugs” with tragedy and mishap.

From the text: Along with the attribution of the deaths of a number of Geluk followers to the deity, the book claimed it was Shugden’s retribution that led to a great flood at Gyantse in 1954, a flood which almost completely destroyed the town and killed thousands of people and animals.

Misrepresentation: The New Kadampa Tradition and Shugden Supporters Community (front group in the 1990s) are seperate organizations.

Clarification: “When Andrew Brown, a freelance journalist working for the Independent Newspaper at the time, rang the contact number given by one of the two groups (Shugden Supporters Community and Freedom Foundation), he soon came to realize that both the SSC and Freedom Foundation were front organizations set up and run by members of Kelsang Gyatso’s New Kadampa Tradition.”

Misrepresentation: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a fully qualified Geshe and completed Geshe examinations at Sera Monastery, he merely did not pick up his certificate.

Clarification: Gyatso’s own statements about his Geshe degree are very contradictory.  “Initially, Gyatso claims to have become a Geshe before  entering Sera, at a monastery where the degree was not awarded. He then claims to have been awarded the degree many years after completing his training at Sera, though he did not take any examinations. He then claims to have been awarded the degree immediately upon having completed the course of study at Sera, where the degree has always been awarded after thorough examinations. Examinations which Gyatso freely agrees to having never taken.”

Misrepresentation: After coming to India  Geshe Kelsang Gyatso spent 18 years in retreat at various locations in the Himalayan region.

Clarification: “Critics suggest Gyatso actually spent much of his time in India in Mussoorie, convalescing as a TB patient …” in addition to 6 years in Dalhousie.

Misrepresentation: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is preserving Tsongkhapa’s tradition from the pollution of mixing instigated by the Dalai Lama.

Clarification: … in rejecting the the eclectic approach to dharma, Kelsang Gyatso was rejecting an approach exemplified by Tsongkhapa’s life and which was demonstrated by his constructing a tradition taken from each of the pre-extant Buddhist traditions of Tibet. Gyatso, in championing Pabonkha’s exclusivism, came to represent an exclusivism which is the very anithesis of the spirit of Tsongkhapa’s eclectic tradition.

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PART 3 Deliberate Misrepresentations About the Number of Shugden Followers, NKT’s Financial Transparency and the Murder of Gen Lobsang Gyatso

Misrepresentation: 4 Million people are affected by the Dalai Lama’s activities against the Shugden practice.

Clarification: The policies affect only certain Tibetan government departments and subsidiaries, monastic institutions connected with the Dalai Lama, and those who wish to take the Dalai Lama as their tantric master. According to experts with whom Brown spoke, only 100,000 people could be affected by the “ban”. After communicating with senior Buddhist academics, our conclusions are that the prohibition affects 30,000 at most.

Misrepresentation: The restrictions of the Dalai Lama effectively “bans” Shugden practice in all Tibetan communities in India and Tibet, as well as the West.

Clarification: Nowadays Shugden is propitiated without restraint in NKT centres worldwide, in numerous Chinese funded government monasteries in Tibet, and indeed in non government monasteries set up by devotees in the exile community, both in India, Nepal and beyond. The prohibitions surrounding Shugden worship then do not extend to all devotees but rather to a tiny minority of Tibetan Buddhists, each of whom is linked to the Tibetan government or His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the context of a tantric, guru-disciple relationship.

Misrepresentation: The New Kadampa Tradition is financially transparent and not involved in political activities.

Clarification: … the movement has repeatedly depended on its members collecting government assistance, often under false pretenses, and that this money has then been funneled in to the NKT’s own coffers to fund the expansion of its ever burgeoning property empire … the organization has taken full advantage of its religious status for charitable purposes, while simultaneously its members covertly engage in political activities and protests against the Dalai Lama across the globe.

Misrepresentation: Apart from the accusation of the CTA, and a document that may have been planted, there is no evidence Shugden worshipers were involved in threats to Gen Lobsang Gyatso or his death.

Clarification 1: There are other pieces of evidence. As one example: “A letter received by the Tibetan Government-In-Exile, dated May 5, 1996, and which requested a re-opening of the debate on the Shugden issue and restoration of devotees human rights warned: “… there should be no procrastination. And we, in our present state of desperation, have made up our mind to resort to desperate measures if such a decision is not made. And when we do take desperate actions, you will be filled with remorse.”

Clarification 2: The young suspects named by INTERPOL in the murders, suffered a breakdown of their car in Ambala, on the way to the home of Lobsang Gyatso in Dharamsala. They made a telephone call from a public kiosk, which was traced by the Indian police to the home of Chimme Tsering, the secretary of the Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society in Delhi.

line-gothicDemocracy in the NKT, NKT Ordination, More NKT Finances and Evidence of Shugden Activists’ Connections with the Government of China

Misrepresentation: The NKT is an open and democratic organization, whereas the CTA and its affiliated monasteries behave in a dictatorial manner, for example expelling Shugden monks from monasteries.

Clarification: It is tempting to compare this letter (of KG firing Lucy James from her teaching position) to the expulsion of 6 monks from Sera Monastery three weeks earlier, expulsions that sparked the wave of international demonstrations…However, that particular expulsion was conducted by the monastic community rather than by a single leader, after alleged repeated disruptive behaviour on the part of the six and in accordance with the procedures of the Vinaya, the ancient codes of Moral Discipline set down at the time of the Buddha himself.
In the case of Lucy James, no such process was followed; the draconian decision came down simply as the result of her incurring the wrath of Gyatso and was seemingly his alone. Gyatso took the same decision when another longstanding student of his, Kadam Bjorn Clausen, the Swiss National Spiritual Director, expressed similar concerns about the demonstrations; he too was asked to resigned, purportedly because Gyatso was “concerned for his safety”.

Misrepresentation: NKT students are free to study other teachings if they wish, emphasis on devotion comes from the teachings of Pabongkha Rinpoche.

Clarification: Gyatso’s emphasis on guru devotion, particularly via the fundamental NKT practice of guru yoga, actually represents a hardening of Pabongkha’s perspective (as Pabongkhapa emphasized reliance on the teachings of his Geluk forefathers)… Gyatso, in his “Great Treasury of Merit”… declares:

Experience shows that realizations come from deep, unchanging faith, and that this faith comes as a result of following purely one tradition, relying upon only one teacher, practicing only his teachings, and following his dharma protector.

… in Kay’s words “Even the most exclusively oriented Geluk lamas, such as Phabongkha Rinpoche and Trijiang Rinpoche, do not seem to have encouraged such complete and exclusive reliance in their students as this.”

Misrepresentation: It can be shown that the ordination offered in the NKT is a completely valid ordination, and consistent with Lord Buddha’s teachings.

Clarification: Gyatso and his followers claim the ordination is based upon the Mahayana Perfection of Wisdom Sutras … specific scriptural citations, the commonest and most effective method of establishing the validity of assertions made in classical Buddhist texts, are sadly lacking and therefore it is difficult to establish the validity of these claims …

Misrepresentation: The ordination of the NKT was modernized to make it more practical and democratic.

Clarification: Gyatso claims his new system of ordination was invented for reasons of practicality.  Another possible though equally pragmatic reason is that when the NKT was founded, there were insufficient fully ordained monks within the organization to form the necessary quorum required for the transmission of the vows of the Vinaya.

Misrepresentation: Other Buddhist traditions hold this system of ordination as valid.

Clarification: The Australian Sangha Association, made up of Senior monastics of the Theravada, Tibetan and Chinese Mahayana Traditions issued this statement about NKT ordination:

all Buddhist traditions, have always insisted on the necessity of the conventional Sangha to hold Vinaya vows properly received in accordance with the prescribed rituals. The opinion of the ASA is that for NKT to present themselves to the public as authentic Buddhist monks and nuns is wrong and misleading.

Misrepresentation: Those working as volunteers at NKT centres while in some cases receiving social assistance do so in perfect accordance with the law.

Clarification: .… a fundamental requirement of the UK state benefits system is that claimants of unemployment benefit should be available for, as well as actively seeking, employment in order to qualify for that assistance. One ex member, who worked as a cashier in the organization between 1992 and 1993, alleges that many of those within NKT during that period satisfied neither of those requirements, and that they were rather working full-time for the organization. He cited a number of examples:

  • working full-time for NKT while claiming to be unemployed
  • working part-time for the organization while claiming to be unemployed
  • studying full-time on the TTP and claiming benefits, robed members were reported to change into lay clothes borrowed from other residents before visiting their local job centre to register and claim benefits.
  • claiming rent at one NKT centre while living and working part time at others.

Misrepresentation: There is not a shred of evidence of members of the Shugden movement being connected to the government of the People’s Republic of China.

Clarification 1: “In March 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that, at the same time the Chinese government was involved in the destruction of mainstream Buddhist temples, it was rebuilding Shugden monasteries in Tibet.

Clarification 2: “native Tibetan monks are given permission to travel to India by the Chinese government on the condition that they are devotees of the (Shugden) deity.

Clarification 3: Chimme Tsering, the secretary of the Dorje Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society (DSDCRS) in Delhi, met a representative from the Chinese embassy in Nepal to draft a letter to the Chinese government asking for their help in raising the profile on the issue of discrimination against Tibetan Shugden practitioners in India.

Clarification 4: In February 2001 DSDCRS organized a “Millenial conference on Human Rights” whose guest of honour was the Chinese ambassador to India. On February 1st 2004, two more officials from the Chinese Consulate in Delhi also met with DSDCRS senior Lobsang Yeshe in Mysore, South India.

Clarification 5: Lama Gangchen, an outspoken proponent of Shugden in Italy, has demonstrable ties to the Chinese government. At Ganchen Monastery in Shigatse Monastery, local Chinese authorities tried to compel monks to accept Gangchen as their spiritual guru and begin Shugden practice. Since (surprisingly) the monastery had no prior history of worshiping the deity, they refused. Monks who continued to refuse the government officials insistence on Shugden and Gangchen, were threatened with arrest, detention and imprisonment.

Photo of Shugden followers celebrating Losar 2013 with Chinese Embassy. Friends identified on this photo lama Ajo from Serpom monastery, lama Gyatso who ger recently in Tibet to criticise HH Dalaï Lama there, as well as US Shugden leaders, Phuntsok and Dechen Tulku. Dechen Tulku is the man who appeared recently on very contraversed photo with Jamyang Norbu.

Photo of Shugden followers celebrating Losar 2013 with Chinese Embassy. Friends identified on this photo lama Ajo from Serpom monastery, lama Gyatso who ger recently in Tibet to criticise HH Dalaï Lama there, as well as US Shugden leaders, Phuntsok and Dechen Tulku. Dechen Tulku is the man who appeared recently on very contraversed photo with Jamyang Norbu.

For China’s involvement see also

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