Concerning The Protests At The Teachings Of H.H. The Dalai Lama: A Resolution Proposal II

Dear Nicholas Pitts/Kelsang Rabten,

Re: Resolution of the Shugden Conflict by the Removal of its Causes

First of all, can I thank you for responding in a spirit which demonstrates a sincere wish to resolve this unfortunate dispute.

I would like to address your response to my original request [copied after minor editing below] by taking each point at a time.

Your response suggests the following:

  1. That I send this current reply directly to the ISC
  2. Provide you with information about the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama.
  3. Confirm whether the Dalai Lama has knowledge of the contact being made and whether he supports it.
  4. You advise that “If someone genuinely close to the Dalai Lama made contact, and did so with the Dalai Lama’s knowledge and support, with the intention of moving towards a resolution I am certain there would be a very positive response from the ISC”

With regard to point 1, I would like to offer the following observation.

This point is a request that our communications be conducted privately, beyond public scrutiny. I am afraid I am unwilling to do this. You are aware, I am sure, of your anonymous correspondent Indy Hack’s recent, controversial decision to publish the content of a personal communication with Columbia University’s Professor Barnett online, despite Professor Barnett stating categorically that he objected to this in no uncertain terms. Indy Hack justified the decision to publicize the comments, stating, “What he said to me has such bearing on the protests and is so overwhelmingly in the public interest, I felt there was no choice but to share it”.

Since the current communication concerns bringing those same protests to an end, I feel it is similarly appropriate that our communication be conducted in the full glare of public scrutiny. This will ensure that nothing is hidden from anyone, as well as ensuring that all those involved, those affected, the general public and the press are free at all times to observe our progress and conduct. This is only fair; there should be no secrets, nor a ruling elite who decide how the situation should unfold from behind closed doors.

Points 2 asks that I provide you with information about the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama as a prerequisite to further dialogue.

Here, I would refer you to two useful ideas from the Buddhist tradition. While personally, I abhor the tendency in myself and others to preach to others how to practice Dharma, there are nevertheless certain teachings that can help us understand practicalities in life and indeed how to set such preconditions might be limiting and unwise. I hope you will forgive my apparent condescent.

The first of these is the parable of the poisoned arrow, from the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta from the Theravadin Majjhima Nikaya, which I am sure you are familiar with. For the sake of those who are not, and to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first.”

The second is the the teaching on the ‘Four Reliances’, common to the Theravadin and Mahayana traditions, in particular the first two, which state:

  1. Do not rely on the personality of the individual but on the message
  2. Do not rely on the words of the message but on their meaning

I will not preach to you about the meaning of these; they are self explanatory.

Nevertheless, I hope you understand my point. Who I am and the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama are somewhat irrelevant here. What is most important, whoever I am and whatever that relationship, is that I have the ear of many of the important players in this issue, Tibetans and Westerners alike and moreover, that they consider my ideas and opinions valid and important. I can assure that both are definitely the case, as those who know me and with whom you have conversed have confirmed. This is a genuine offer to you on my part for me to use whatever influence I have to help all those affected by the discrimination you and I both find abhorrent.

Moreover, I would point out to you that, even imagining I were part of the Dalai Lama’s innermost circle, this would be to your distinct disadvantage rather than to your benefit. Historically, in such situations those closest to such figures are often reactionary in their outlook, overwhelmed by a sense of their own importance along with their opinions, enduring deep seated delusions of their own grandeur. Clearly, such an individual would be useless to you in resolving issues such as those we wish to address here. Far better that you have an independent who holds a moderate perspective and yet has the ear of the hierarchs, who advocates a ‘middle way’ and who has the interests of all parties involved at heart.

Your final points are related and as follows:

3. Confirm whether the Dalai Lama has knowledge of the contact being made and whether he supports it.

4. You advise that “If someone genuinely close to the Dalai Lama made contact, and did so with the Dalai Lama’s knowledge and support, with the intention of moving towards a resolution I am certain there would be a very positive response from the ISC”

With regard to point 3, I have no idea whether His Holiness is yet aware of my decision to suggest all that I have done below since, as I made clear originally, I am entirely independent; I do not work for the Dalai Lama and I therefore do not need to seek his permission to act. Moreover, my decision to approach the issue in this manner was made less than 72 hours ago and is therefore a relatively new development. Nevertheless, I will forward the content of this communication to the relevant persons and ask that he be made aware. As to whether he supports such a contact, it goes without saying that His Holiness’ only concern is the happiness and freedom from suffering of all beings, regardless of their persuasion. In light of this, I think it safe to assume that he would support our initiative, since its sole purpose is to end suffering and restore peace and happiness to our communities.

I have already answered point 4 above, inter alia. I sincerely hope that we can move forwards on this and achieve a happy end as soon as possible, for the benefit of all involved.

Please take time to consider your response. The festive season is upon is, which usually brings with it a significant drop in activity on many fronts. Can I suggest you let me have your response to my original suggestions no later than the 5th of January, 2015, by which time you should have been able to discuss the issues and reached your conclusions?

Best wishes


Subsequent to posting the offer below, I was advised that in Dharamsala, The ‘Global Tibetan Volunteers for the Truth’ (GTVT which have a definite connection to the CTA) are now placing NEW signs around town —I’ve seen the image. The new sign from the GTVT reads: ‘Give up alcohol your health will be better – Give up Shugden you will be happier / feel better.”

The GTVT have previously posted unattributed inflammatory material. Whether they are linked to the CTA is open to investigation. Nevertheless, it is clear that they have an aggressive agenda, which can only harm any peace process. Should you respond favourably, I can assure that everything will be done to bring such aggressive manifestations to an end.

Original  Proposal [edited version]


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The blog is actually closed, however until Saturday, 20th Dec. 14, 10am updates will be given and comments will be approved.

Concerning The Protests At The Teachings Of H.H. The Dalai Lama: A Resolution Proposal I


@ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Len Foley, Neil Elliott, and Nicholas Pitts (Kelsang Rabten)

I am a member of a small, unofficial, though well connected group of activists who have at heart the best interests of all parties concerned in the Shugden issue. I would like to offer my hand to you in a spirit of reconciliation and ask you to consider the following.

Since 1996 you have been protesting at various events wherever and whenever the Dalai Lama has appeared. You state the reason for your protests is that the followers of Shugden are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.

As principal evidence of this discrimination you circulate press packs which provide photographs of signs requesting Shugden devotees not to enter certain premises. These premises are of three types: religious institutions such as temples and monasteries; medical facilities; and shops owned by private individuals.

With regard to the first of these, you should be aware that it is a right enshrined in law, both in India and elsewhere in the civilized world, for the patrons and proprietors of religious institutions such as temples to ask those who hold differing religious views from their own not to enter certain buildings or areas. In India, non- Hindus are frequently instructed not to enter Hindu temples; thus exercising a right of admission refusal enshrined in Indian law. Elsewhere, in Saudi Arabia non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mekkah. In the West too, similar prohibitions exist: Gentiles are asked not to enter certain areas of synagogues, non-Catholics are prohibited from teaching in Catholic schools without the permission of the Church in some European countries, and so on. Even in the temples of the New Kadampa Tradition, those who have chosen not to receive certain tantric initiations such as Vajrayogini cannot enter premises where Vajrayogini teachings are taking place.

In short, ‘discrimination’ on religious grounds is quite normal practice in many of the religious traditions across the world and followers of these religions accept this, without claiming that they are being deprived of their human right to religious freedom or that they are the victims of discrimination. Please explain why followers of Shugden should be treated any differently in this regard and why normal accepted protocols should not be observed in their case.

However, you should be aware that if it is the case you consider yourselves discriminated against by the signs in religious institutions, there is very little that can be done about these, since such prohibitions are entirely legal, accepted practice internationally, with regard to the followers of many faiths. If you remain concerned over these signs, please lobby the Government of India, since it is they aho sre responsible for legilating in this regard.

Secondly, with regard to the documentary evidence provided from medical facilities, these images are over 15 years old and apparently no longer current. Please provide current evidence of  discrimination in a medical context so that, if it should prove to exist, those responsible can be informed of the disagreeable nature of their conduct and the problems their actions are causing and asked to remove all signs and restrictions, with a view to restoring harmony between our communities.

If you can provide current evidence of discrimination with regard to medical care, you are welcome to do so since it will give us an opportunity to rectify this discrimination immediately. If on the other hand you cannot provide current evidence, it would be entirely appropriate for you to cease protesting in this regard, since the offending circumstances have clearly ceased to exist.

Thirdly, with regard to the signs in shops in the exiled Tibetan community, these have been placed there as the result of individuals’ personal decisions, after considering the advice of HH the Dalai Lama. As such, His Holiness cannot instruct them to now remove them since this would imply that His Holiness had instructed them to be placed there in the first place and indeed that he was wielding political control over these individuals, neither of which is the case.

Nevertheless, I can confirm that many of  the individuals concerned have already realised their actions are providing ammunition for the critics of His Holiness and have therefore chosen to remove the offending signs. I can now confirm, categorically, that there are no more signs in Dharamsala or Mundgod. If you dispute this, please provide appropriate, dated photographic evidence. The situation in the settlement at Bylakuppe is not yet as clear but I do know efforts are underway to advise those who post such signs that, though they may well be acting in good faith, their actions are causing great harm at many levels and that it would be best therefore to remove them.

In summary, every effort is being made to ensure that, where actionable, any instances of discrimination against Shugden worshippers you claim are brought to an end.

In response, if it can be shown that the remaining shop signs in Bylakuppe and anywhere else they may have arisen have been removed, will you cease your demonstrations? If you are unwilling to do this, please state your reasons so they can be addressed at the earliest opportunity and this unfortunate situation can be resolved.

Please send your response to this website as soon as possible for public scrutiny and so any problems can be addressed.

Thank you.

updated December 18, 2014, at 01:24 pm

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Update Dec. 18, 2014

Dalai Lama protests: A letter to the editors of WELD for Birmingham magazine

You might have noted that it are rather small local US magazines, blogs, or news sites that picked up the sensationalist claims of the International Shugden Community (ISC) protesters against the Dalai Lama during his recent visit in the US. News is a business. The news business sells information and it depends on click rates and an advertisement model to earn money. News are not generally dedicated to the truth but to earn money which in turn depends on the click rates. A new movie highlights the moral corruption that can go along with the pressure to sell information, Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal. I think if you consider this background, its implications, and the stress local news journalists usually experience it is understandable why they so often fail to inform their readers well and rather offer the media-savvy protesters a platform for their propaganda, letting them express their often absurd claims unchallenged.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-11-25 um 13.19.15After a complaint to one of those magazines, WELD for Birmingham, the journalist Cody Owens encouraged me to write a letter to the editor, Nick Patterson. Patterson in turn asked me to sent him a letter he can publish as a reply to their previous piece about the Anti Dalai Lama protests. Since this letter to the editors is not available online on WELD, I was thinking to share it with you because it portrays a general dilemma of the news dealing with the protests and the Shugden issue.

Dear Nick Patterson and Dear Cody Owen,

The October 28 article, “Protesting the Dalai Lama” tries to give a balanced account of the different perspectives of two opposing groups. On the one side, a mainly Western group that accuses the Dalai Lama of “violating human rights”, “instigating violence based on religious beliefs”, “persecution” etc. On the other hand, mainly Tibetans who oppose the protesters’ claims and support the Dalai Lama. The latter try to make the issue understandable for Westerners by referring to Shugden worship as “devil worship” and claim that the protesters are financed by China, a claim which the protesters reject.

Both clashing worlds are quite contrary to each other; what I missed was a perspective that evaluated both sides’ claims.

I think the whole issue is that both sides come from two different worlds which do not meet; what is said is mainly based on cross cultural confusion and misinformation. The protesters strongly emphasize human rights violations and religious discrimination (a Western / U.S. perspective) while the Tibetans stress the nature of the fierce deity Shugden as a violent wrathful spirit that kills and harms those who practice teachings from different Buddhist schools – therefore, for them, it is correct to restrict such a practice due to its religious intolerance (a religious Occidental / Tibetan perspective).

I assume due to a lack of time you were not able to ask any academic expert about this topic. Please allow me to set the record straight by quoting briefly academic experts.

Tibet scholar Robert Barnett from Columbia University (New York) told Time Magazine in 2008 that the protesters were “severely lacking in creditability” and that the practice of Shugden is “heterodox, provocative and highly sectarian in Buddhist terms”. John Makransky, an American professor of Buddhism and comparative theology at Boston College, said about the cross cultural confusion apparent in this context:

“A stunning recent example of this: some Tibetan monks who now introduce Westerners to practices centred on a native Tibetan deity, without informing them that one of its primary functions has been to assert hegemony over rival sects! The current Dalai Lama, seeking to combat the ancient, virulent sectarianisms operative in such quarters, has strongly discouraged the worship of the ‘protector’ deity known as Dorje Shugden, because one of its functions has been to force conformity to the dGe lugs pa sect (with which the Dalai Lama himself is most closely associated) and to assert power over competing sects. Western followers of a few dGe lugs pa monks who worship that deity, lacking any critical awareness of its sectarian functions in Tibet, have recently followed the Dalai Lama to his speaking engagements to protest his strong stance (for non-sectarianism) in the name of their ‘religious freedom’ to promulgate, now in the West, an embodiment of Tibetan sectarianism. If it were not so harmful to persons and traditions, this would surely be one of the funniest examples of the cross-cultural confusion that lack of critical reflection continues to create.”

Bearing in mind the cross cultural background, there are two other things worth to consider: 1) not a single human rights group – despite being flooded with material by the group since 1996 – has ever confirmed religious discrimination or human rights abuses 2) the Indian Delhi High Court rejected the protesters claims because of ‘vague averments’ and an ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’ against Shugden worshippers.

With regard to the accusation itself: It is simply not true, that the Shugden people don’t get travel documents etc. They get travel documents, they get jobs, access to education, health services etc. not even a general ban exists. However, there are a few problematic instances and the practice is restricted in certain institutional contexts like the three main Gelug monasteries. But the restriction on Shugden worship was decided by democratic majority vote in which all the monks had a say, in a “stick referendum” – a procedure laid down by the Buddha to settle conflicts in the monastic communities. A significant majority of monks at those institutions voted to restrict Shugden worship, and those who wanted to continue Shugden worship, though they had to leave the broader institution, got their fair share of the buildings, property and money. If there was an unfair division of assets or other issues of discrimination these could be addressed in India with legal means. The Tibetans in India are under the Indian constitution and the case Shugden campaigners launched in the Indian High Court at Delhi was dismissed.

The protesters build a huge conspiracy theory out of some rare examples, a conspiracy in which the Dalai Lama is “the worst dictator of our modern time”, “a liar” (because he does not share the protesters’ view that Shugden is a Buddha), “evil and cruel” etc. The whole campaign only aims to attack the character of the Dalai Lama, and the “Human Rights”, “Religious Freedom” framework is only the guise to do that. Academic experts such as Prof Jonathan Gold in The Princetonian or Prof Nathan Hill in The Foreigner recently called the accusations of persecution and denying freedom of religion more or less nonsensical.

This brings me to the last point. Who is behind the protests? And why am I writing to you? I was once a part of this very campaigning group and protested and organized protests against the Dalai Lama too, from 1996-98. I was seriously misinformed by the group. Over the last 12 years, I have investigated all of their claims and discovered the majority are false, mixed with some few truths, exaggerations, things taken out of context, misrepresentations and lies that culminate in a total spin of the facts (which certainly appeal to the uneducated person) – twists, that any expert or any knowledgeable person could easily repudiate as false or misleading.

We ex-members of the campaigning group – the New Kadampa Tradition – issued a declaration, and we ex-members are helping each other to recover from the damage the group has done to us in a self-help forum “New Kadampa Survivors” which has 1,270 members. We compare the campaigning group and their strategy with Scientology. There are a lot of similarities, and I think, if Scientology bullies one of their enemies with a huge world wide media campaign, the press would be a bit more careful to report extensively about their accusations.

And this is what I would like to ask the press: please be more careful and please ask academic experts. The reader is otherwise left in confusion about how valid or non-valid the claims of a high profile campaigning group and its opponents are; some of the false allegations will stick to the Dalai Lama and will only undermine his wonderful, human, and enlightening activities and the inspiration he brings to others.

I also hope that the Tibetans will one day engage  a Western media expert to correct the protesters claims because I feel it is not helpful to speak about topics not addressed by the protesters such as the nature of Shugden and what role China plays in the dispute. The accusations must be addressed directly.

With very best wishes,
Tenzin Peljor
Buddhist monk and a former teacher and member of the protesting group

(November 3rd, 2014)

Nathan Gyatso: Letter to the western Shugden propitiators

Dear western Shugden propitiators,

You must know that Tibetan Buddhism has been preserved and protected under the great leadership of HH the 14th Dalai Lama in exile. When Tibetans faced the most unprecedented challenge in the history of Tibet, HH the Dalai Lama, though only a teenage boy, shouldered the full responsibility, and exerted all his compassion and wisdom to guide the nation and its people. When everything related to religion including Tibetan Buddhism was destroyed by Red China, it was HH the Dalai Lama who, with his pre-eminent foresight, established the well-found monastic institutions in India. On account of this distinguished vision of HH the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism has spread from the East to the West, where some people have even deemed it as a panacea, though being exaggerated. It has indeed become an opportune rain for many, particularly for those who have suffered mentally due to lack of a secure and compassionate environment. I absolutely understand why so many people have become cynical and full of loathing against the culture and religion they are born in.

It is a pity that instead of cherishing and valuing what HH the 14th Dalai Lama has done for the sake of those who need such Dharma to alleviate their sufferings, some have even attempted to attack and slander him due to being misled. This is truly what we called “Reply to Kindness with Ingratitude”. It seems that some are indulging in confounding black and white and making deliberate prevarications. Having said this, I have to underscore again what HH the Dalai Lama has said about the propitiation of Shugden, “As a spiritual leader, it is my responsibility to tell people what is proper and what is improper; however, the ultimate choice is your own.” Does anyone find there is any mistake within this piece of advice? Moreover, he has never used the word “ban” on Shudgen practice.

Read more …

The divorce from the Shugden monks: Is segregation “the Dalai Lama’s discrimination against Shugdens”?

I always wondered – besides all their other false accusations, propaganda, untruths and spin of the facts – why the New Kadampa Tradition via their front groups WSS & ISC make such a big fuss about “segregation”. Is segregation necessarily a crime?* If you cannot cope with another person or group you just separate. This is something very common in the world and experienced by many, for instance by those who go through a divorce. But would a divorced man or woman run a campaign against this or her former partner accusing the former partner that the separation or clean cut such a divorce brings is “discrimination”? How stupid! A divorce can become dirty but a divorce can be also very healthy for both sides, far better than staying together.

In the context of NKT/ISC it is even more breathtaking how they involved themselves in a divorce without having ever been a part of that divorce themselves. The Western protesters live in a total different Western world. Tenzin Dorjee wrote that “the protesters are overwhelmingly white American and European men masquerading as Tibetan monks and victims”. These protesters have no ties to the monks in India nor have they ever sought to have any relationship to Tibetan monks, nuns and masters. They just abuse a situation abroad – far away in India at places they’ve never visited or seen; places they even have never intended to visit – to attack the character of the Dalai Lama based on a totally self-referential internal propaganda network and the order of their Guru, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: “I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted.”

Reflecting the situation in India in the Gelug monasteries – where a majority decided to separate from Shugden monks after times of unrest, disharmony, and turmoil – it always came to my mind ‘it is just similar to a divorce, no big deal’.

The NKT/ISC wrongly attribute these times of unrest and trouble in India before the voting to the Dalai Lama but the Dalai Lama only put his finger into this bursting abscess – and some critics from other schools said he did it too late(!). Moreover, the Dalai Lama suggested a democratic majority vote according to the Vinaya (Buddha’s rules for monastics), therefore it is plain wrong to make the Dalai Lama the culprit of one’s own confusion; a thorough confusion based on not knowing the Vinaya, having very poor knowledge about complex Tibetan Buddhism, not knowing the history of Shugden, not knowing Tibetan society & relations, and not knowing the events in India very well. (What drives the few Tibetans who join the protests I cannot say; but for me it is hard to have sympathy with so much confusion and aggression as the protesters demonstrate. There is some evidence that Tibetans and Chinese protesters have strong relations to China, pictures who show them with Chinese officials.)

So what I want to say and share, the NKT/ISC cosmos wants to make the world believe that reasonable separation = segregation = discrimination. You can read here how hysterically they ride on this misconception: “6 awkward truths for those who deny the Dalai Lama’s discrimination against Shugdens“.

Some minutes ago I was made aware by CarolMcQuire about an eye witness account of the separation of the monks in Sera Mey (South India), that she posted on Facebook. I quote it here. The eye witness account does not only share my thoughts and reasons it gives you further information about the separation which you can rarely read online because most of the Tibetans in those monasteries don’t communicate this with Westerners. (Thanks to both, the monk from Sera and Carol. Big hug!)

I see this whole issue like a divorce situation with a twist …

You are in couple. After thorough thoughts and reflections, you come to the conclusion that something is wrong in the relationship, something you can’t accept. It goes against your core values. You can try to explain, convince, tolerate even but you come to the point when this is not acceptable any more. You must separate. Then comes the divorce.

You divide your common properties, some couples doing better than others and each goes his own way, to start anew. You don’t have any contacts any more and that is fine. You may meet in the street, say hello and that’s about it. Yes, in the past, you shared a bed, food, prayers, a house but it’s all over now. This divorce was not forced upon us, we chose to do that. We could of stayed but preferred not to. Irreconcilable differences …

In Sera Mey, the Pomra monks who did not follow Shugden left everything, taking nothing. We left them the houses, the furnitures, the sponsors, pretty much all there was, just like it may happen in a couple. We started a new Khamtsen, Phobor, from scratch. The other party kept on going with what they had and are flourishing as a separate monastery, Serpom. That’s fine, they can do that. We no longer have to care or take notice, we are not in a couple any more, right? You wanted to do this practice, fine, but not in my house, not for a long as we were are together. Didn’t work out so we went away, left everything and got a divorce… It takes time for things to settle down, both sides have it rough but eventually, you work it out. Simple, no? This is the situation in the great Gelug monasteries in India and Nepal.

But, sometimes, your ex-spouses’ siblings will get upset about the divorce (in this case, the NKT). They are not married to you in the first place, they claim to be new Kadam, not Gelug so “outsides of the marriage”, so to say and they do not accept the authority of the Dalai Lama. Why should they be involved? They may be upset as their relatives (non NKT Shudgens) are having a hard time. After all, they are going through a divorce (well, so are we but it doesn’t matter…). Because of attachment to their relatives stance, they take sides. They want the best for the family so they are ready to do anything. Slander, start rumours, blackmail, you name it. It reflects badly on the other party so why not. And it leads up to the current situation. Add other elements like former grudges and so forth and you got a pretty bad mix.

In India, we live on the same refugee settlement as the Shugden camp, the bulk of them live literally across the street from the main Sera Mey temple. And it is peaceful. They don’t protest, judge or anything. Their has been no fights, battles, insults. Sure, it was very tense they in first few months after the split given the history of brutal act of some Shugdenpa’s from Delhi, threats from the police to close the monastery like what has happened with the Karmapa temple in Sikkim, riot gear, baton armed police refusing us permission the access the Sera Lachi (combined Sera Jey/Mey prayer hall) to conduct the Sojong ceremony unless we allowed the Shugden group also. We NEEDED to be segregate to keep the peace. Tibetan are not always peaceful, they are humans too and religious sentiments run very high, specially against the Dalai Lama. Tension was there at the time but 6 years later, the dust has settled, just like in a divorce. We went our way, they went theirs.

I just don’t understand what is happening in the West. What is the NKT trying to achieve? According to them, they should stick to their practice taught by Kalsang Gyatso and not meddle with other traditions, no? So why try to involve the great monasteries in South India in this issue? The divorce is finalized, both parties moved on, get over it! Keep on doing what you are doing and kindly leave us alone… I was not married to you in the first place…! :o)

* My OSX Mac English Thesaurus states about segregation:

they recommend the full segregation of vehicles and pedestrians in the town centre:
separation, setting apart, keeping apart, sorting out; isolation, quarantine, insulation, exclusion, closeting, protection, shielding, partitioning; division, detachment, disconnection, dissociation; sequestration, partition; in S. Africa, historical apartheid. ANTONYMS integration.

See also former posts about the situation in the Gelug monasteries in India

Tenzin Dorjee in the HuffPost sets the record straight: 6 Things You Should Know About the Anti-Dalai Lama Protesters

I am amazed to see that writers and journalists awake a bit and start to inform the public about the Shugden Controversy and the Dalai Lama protests in a more investigative manner. The HuffPost seems to be a pioneer now in this. Well done! Thank you! Had such information existed before I met the NKT cult I might have been saved to go through the NKT’s brainwashing machine and painful experiences … May it save others from this cult.

Tenzin Dorjee

Tenzin Dorjee

Tenzin Dorjee, a Tibetan activist, writer and musician, wrote an article that gives a brief overview about six key information people should know – according to him about the protesters:

  1. They are Geluk supremacists.
  2. They call the Dalai Lama a “dictator.”
  3. “The Dalai Lama is a Muslim!”
  4. The Geluk extremists are supported by the Chinese government.
  5. They are barking up the wrong tree.
  6. The protesters aim to undermine the Tibetan cause and advance China’s agenda.

Read more …

See also by HuffPost

Some messages from the Dalai Lama to the protesters

No spiritual teaching can be taken “at face value,” the Dalai Lama added — a remark that may have been aimed as much at the swarms of protesters gathered outside the Beacon Theater as it was toward supporters inside the venue.

A new Huffington Post article reports about the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York City and the protests. They quote also Nicholas Pitts (Gen Kelsang Rabten) spokesperson of the ISC (with one sentence) and Bob Thurman; but more important they contacted INFORM, Dr. Suzanne Newcombe, about the protesters. I like to see that because so far most media quoted often 2/3 of their articles the strange allegations made by Nicholas Pitts/Kelsang Rabten and the ISC protesters and rarely – if at all – any academic expert or scholar was asked. On the way such articles lost to inform and to touch the reader with the good message and inspiring heart instructions of the Dalai Lama …

Well done! Well done! Sadhu, Sadhu! Thank you HuffPost!

Suzanne Newcombe is a research officer who has studied the NKT at Inform, an organization based out of the London School of Economics that aims to provide balanced information on new and alternative religious movements. Newcombe said the protests were likely set up by individuals or by front organizations, rather than by the NKT directly.

“Individual members take it upon themselves to protest what they call ‘gross injustices’ being thrust on them because of the Dalai Lama’s policy,” Newcombe told HuffPost over the phone. “His advice against practicing Shugden became emphatic in 1996. Then there was a vote in the major Gelug monasteries not to allow the practice in 2007. But now independent Shugden monasteries have been set up around the world.”

Newcombe suggested that while followers of the NKT may strive to reach enlightenment and “be good Buddhists,” many who have left the movement report that NKT authorities did not allow them the space to develop their own faith.

However, more important is the message of the Dalai Lama. While the protesters have not much meaningful and truthful to say, the Dalai Lama urges the audience to apply scrutiny in checking teachings and teachers:

“Anything that is violating norms of reason or is contradictory should not be accepted, even though it is coming from a high lama,” the Dalai Lama said through an interpreter.

Tashi Khamshitsang, a member of the Tibetan Parliament who attended the teaching, explained it this way to The Huffington Post: “When you find a teacher, judge him by who he is, and once you are certain, then you can receive his teaching.”

In the same vein, the exiled leader also spoke about distinguishing between provisional and definitive truths. Provisional teachings, he explained, are those teachings that masters use to nudge their disciples a little bit further along the path to wisdom, while definitive truths are more absolute.

The key is to determine whether the content of a particular scripture passage “stands to reason and validates experience,” the Dalai Lama said, or whether there is another layer of truth still waiting to be uncovered. The Buddhist leader also applied that reasoning to the perceptions of individuals, which he said will always be subjective.

“We tend to think we are objective,” the Dalai Lama said, “but our perception field is just a projection of our own mind.”

Maybe also the latter is a hidden message from a wise fully ordained monk and Buddhist master to the protesters? A kind hint?

There is also nothing wrong in striving “to reach enlightenment and ‘be good Buddhists'” – though this might not be achieved through launching an slander campaign against a fully ordained monk and revered Buddhist master who is seen by the majority of Buddhists as a saint, a true Bodhisattva; Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion in human form.

Read more …

See also

Huffington Post About The Current Wave of “Protest Demonstrations” Against His Holiness the Dalai Lama

by Prof Robert Thurman

Concerning The Current Wave of “Protest Demonstrations” Against His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the Just-formed New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) Shugden Protest Front Group, The International Shugden Community (ISC).

In the case of the current wave of ISC “protests” against the Dalai Lama, we have to ask ourselves–what is the real motive? What does the small group of highly motivated, well-organized, seemingly media-savvy “protesters” really want? They say they want “religious freedom,” but they have always had religious freedom in India or the West, nobody has banned them worshiping as they wish. Within Tibet they have special support from the Chinese government that dominates Tibet (not giving such freedom to pro-Dalai-Lama Tibetan Buddhists), and outside of Tibet they have their own monasteries, Meditation Centers, and support networks. Their Western followers are free to worship as they choose, and are also free to attack the Dalai Lama, as they are doing. They say they want to end “segregation,” but they themselves choose to separate themselves from member of their own Gelukpa sect who decline to propitiate the protector entity they call Shugden, as well as from other sects of Buddhism.

Read more …

See also

Kelsang Gyatso’s Teachings for Westerners – ‘From Dharma into Dogma?’

GUEST POST by Carol McQuire

(Provisional notes)

This is a short general summary of what Kelsang Gyatso taught and how. In 1977, he was invited by Lama Yeshe to teach at ‘Manjushri Institute’, created and owned by the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) in Cumbria, UK. Kelsang Gyatso was not asked to teach on the ‘Geshe Studies’ programme but to give ‘introductory’ teachings – specifically to teach Shantideva and Chandrakirti.[1] Kelsang Gyatso later, and contentiously, kept Manjushri Institute as the mother centre for his New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). [2]

It is customary for every Tibetan teacher to give the origin of the teachings he or she gives, usually stating exactly who gave them each transmission and teaching. This is considered a sign of respect towards the lineage and a guarantee of the validity of the teaching.

Kelsang Gyatso acknowledges having ‘received [lamrim] teachings’ and ‘the opportunity to study and practice Heruka and Vajrayogini’ from his spiritual guide, Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang.

I can find no further acknowledgements in his other books as yet, except to the Tibetan texts he selected from.

I will refer to standard Tibetan Buddhist names for the texts that Kelsang Gyatso taught, as well as the titles of the NKT books (in brackets) published by Tharpa Publications, Kelsang Gyato’s own publishing company. All the information below is compiled from various editions of these books.

It is integrated in the Internal Rules of the NKT that the books and study programmes should remain unaltered after the author’s death. [3] No NKT teacher or student can publish using knowledge from these books or refer to their NKT ‘career’. [4]

COMMENTARIES TAUGHT IN TIBETAN 1977- 1986 Manjushri and Madhyamaka Centres

Translated by Tenzin P. Phunrabpa; edited with and published by western students in later years. Compared to classic presentations, very few quotes from other teachers are included in the books.

Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara (Taught 1977, pub.1980) (Meaningful to Behold)

Lama Chopa – Guru Yoga explanation (Taught 1979-80, 1986 and 1990, pub. 1992) (Great Treasury of Merit)

Six Yogas of Naropa (Taught 1980, pub. 1982) (Clear Light of Bliss)

Heart Sutra (Pub. 1986) (Heart of Wisdom)

Lamrim: Commentary to Yeshe Tsondru’s Essence of Nectar. (Taught 1981, pub.1990) [5] (Joyful Path of Good Fortune)

Instructions on how to practice Vajrayogini (Taught 1981, pub. 1991) (Guide to Dakini Land)

Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara (Pub. 1990) (Ocean of Nectar)

Eight Verses of Mind training (Langri Tangpa) (Pub. 2000) (Eight Steps to Happiness)

Training the Mind in Seven Points (Chekhawa) (Pub. 1988) (Universal Compassion)


Written with and edited by western students. Not known if these books were taken from previous oral teachings. No credits given in the books to any translator.

A short book on the Bodhisattva Vow (Pub. 1991) (The Bodhisattva Vow)

Shugden – Edited and shortened practice for the NKT (pub. 1991) (Heart Jewel)

Lorig (Pub. 1993) (Understanding the Mind)

Tantric grounds and paths (Pub. 1994) (Tantric Grounds and Paths)

Commentary to a shortened Heruka Body Mandala (Compared with two other versions) (pub. 1997) (Essence of Vajrayana)


Earlier books were re- edited with western students and reissued, including simpler versions of Lamrim and ‘Tantric Mahamudra’. Kelsang Gyatso taught using short extracts from his own books; students would understand the rest by reading. References within the books refer to Kelsang Gyatso’s books.

The NKT and its study programmes, including ‘Teacher Training’ were started in 1992 after Kelsang Gyatso designed them on his ‘retreat’ (1987-1990) when he also wrote ‘A Meditation Handbook’; a highly simplified Lamrim manual. After 1992 he no longer gave twice weekly teachings to the Manjushri Centre community. NKT students were expected to study with western teachers: Kelsang Gyatso only taught at ‘NKT Festivals’ a few mornings each year.

When the first NKT ‘World Peace Temple’ was built in Manjushri, c.1999, Shugden Five Deity statues were integrated into the main shrine room. Shugden statues are traditionally kept in a separate room. When he first came to Manjushri Institute, Kelsang Gyatso would hold Shugden pujas in his private rooms with invited guests. [6]


[1] See Modern Day Kadampas, New Kadampa Tradition, 1997, p. 7

[2] Now called Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre.


See section 9.

9. Books

9§1. To prevent the development of confusion and disagreement among NKT students, no NKT-IKBU Teacher or Spiritual Director shall write books or other material that contain elements of traditions that differ from the New Kadampa Tradition or that in any way contradict NKT Dharma books.
9§2. After the author passes away, no-one shall change the meaning or presentation of the content, in any format, of the Dharma books used in the three NKT Study Programmes,  unless there are valid reasons for doing so approved by the GSD and the majority of the members of the Education Council.

[4] See Nick Gillespie, libel threat, 2012.

[5] See Modern Day Kadampas, New Kadampa Tradition, 1997, p. 7

[6] Personal account


The making of a Shugden hub in the United States

By Thierry Dodin / TIN

In early October 2014, followers of the Dorje Shugden cult dedicated a monastery in the United States, which they plan as their major American hub. The event, attended by many Shugden figures worldwide, marks a major step forward in the cult’s attempt to establish itself and expand in North America, which by now has become home to a significant Tibetan Diaspora. To date, the followers of the cult have typically been weaker in the United States compared to Europe.

The monastery, situated on 150 acres in Bloomington, Indiana, was actually created in 2007 under the name Gaden Kachoe Shing, but has only now become fully operational through the opening of its main temple. Circumstances indicate how the Shugden leadership is planning its U.S. expansion.

Bloomington is an important seat of Tibetan and Central Asian studies as well as Buddhist learning. In the mid-1960s, the elder brother of the Dalai Lama, the late Taktser Rinpoche, was invited to teach at Indiana University. He spent the rest of his life there. Bloomington is also a center of ethnic Mongolian exiles. Notably, most of the ethnic Mongolian Buddhists are from the Gelugpa lineage, the supremacy of which the Shugden cult emphasizes. Hence, the area offers, in principle, a good environment for the proliferation of the Dorje Shugden practice.

Indeed, Shugden followers have been trying to establish a strong center in Bloomington for a long time, and in particular, have been looking for a prominent figurehead. During the 1990s, for instance, they tried to get Taktser Rinpoche, himself, to take up this role, but he refused. Even though he had some political disagreement with his illustrious brother, the Dalai Lama, Taktser Rinpoche fully endorsed his policy on Shugden. Later, the Shugden group tried to attract another prominent Gelugpa lama in the US – Geleg Rinpoche – but was rebuffed.

Bloomington’s Shugden followers now have a full-fledged monastery, and they have also convinced a notable lama to become their leader. This lama is Trijang Rinpoche, the reincarnation of one of the two tutors of the Dalai Lama, who was a most active proponent of Shugden for several decades, first in Tibet, then in exile.

For years, the new incarnation of Trijang Rinpoche has lived a confused life, torn between the Dalai Lama’s disapproval of Shugden worship and the Shugden followers in his entourage, who urged him to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps. Eventually, he left both the monkhood and India entirely, settling instead in Vermont State and staying out of the public’s eye. Even today his website avoids mentioning the deity Shugden directly, while it does display a dedication letter by the Dalai Lama for the Vermont center, dated 2007.

More recently, however, other Shugden lamas succeeded in convincing the young Trijang Rinpoche to return to the fold to take a leading role in their community. His pompously orchestrated, recent trip to Mongolia, and now the dedication of the monastery in Bloomington, underline that he is being made the figurehead of the Shugden movement outside of the western New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). In fact, it appears that he is the only lama in the Shugden community who is addressed as His Holiness, a title normally reserved for the heads of major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

The expansion of the Shugden cult in the United States is important in the context of ongoing preparations throughout Tibetan Buddhism for the post-Dalai Lama scenario. Shugden followers, for instance, would almost certainly recognize any Dalai Lama reincarnation put forth by the Chinese government, a figurehead that will doubtlessly be rejected by much of the rest of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as by the Tibetan communities.


Last time I saw Geshe Kelsang Gyatso


Last time I saw him we stayed there the whole week. We spent a fortune of course. This was last year in October. When we arrived from that empowerment and retreat we began to have a horrible crisis; it was the beginning of our doubts. During the teachings he was constantly coughing and I saw him rather weak. The last day he was supposed to say some words but he didn’t, it was Dekyong the one who spoke on his behalf when the theatre play finished. We were told that that was going to be his last appearance in public.

We were told forever.

KG 2006-001

Two months later I went to another empowerment and some monks with tears in their eyes made people to sign on a piece of paper a document asking Gyatso to come back. It was a kind of petition. I remember that it was Kelsang Rabjob the one who burst into tears.

People began to sign the document. We didn’t sign. In that empowerment I learned about lots of people, especially two women who said they had been harassed because of the hard work they had to do and the bad treatment. What I really think is that these guys are hiding something. Imagine the moment someone spill the beans …

The last retreat we had with the Kadampas was before the summer and this was when we decided to leave the organization. This time the teachings were performed by an English monk, quite ill too. His teachings were not well understood by people attending this retreat. We began to hear complaints coming from some guys who said that they couldn’t understand a word. I then asked Kelsang […] if he knew something about Gyatso and he said to me that he had said goodbye forever.

I think that if hypothetically he is dead only some, the chosen ones, know it but I cannot tell you because I don’t know. I only told you what I lived in my last empowerments. That was definitely his last appearance as they told us.

I sometimes wonder if all those empowerments during all those years were real empowerments. As a matter of fact Gyatso broke a very important lineage.

For the opening of the second centre in Madrid, the premises cost nearly a million Euros – I know the price they paid because someone told me. We spent 30,000 Euros in three years. Empowerments, journeys, books, Sadhanas, CDs, courses, donations etc etc. They told us that going to Brazil was very auspicious. We were totally brainwashed. Remember that they made us believe that Gyatso was a Buddha, the emanation of Je Tsongkhapa.

We did everything for Gyatso, everything in our hands. I know a couple who sold their flat to cross the ocean to see him. They live in a rented flat now. I still feel embarrassed about the money I spent. I have never told my family these things …

Unfortunately we have lost wonderful friends. They believe in all this bloody stupid thing of Shugden, they say that it’s an emanation of Wisdom Buddha and all that stuff. They cannot see what there is behind all that. I only hope people to realize but to be honest I think that is extremely difficult. In this life you have to stop one day and to question what you are doing. I believe in the Three Jewels but I don’t believe in a crazy monk, monks who go to demonstration like if they were Nazis, manipulative People who say they are Sangha etc etc.

Can you believe that I am meditating more right now than in my years with the NKT?

In my years with the NKT we used to have hundreds of teachings, some of them by unqualified teachers. Those “teachers” were students who two hours earlier they had prepared the lesson. They used to read from the books, especially modern Buddhism. I would also like to say that I don’t bear a grudge to Gyatso. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him or any person. I will pray … Praying is just a comfort for me right now. You see … Whenever I see a baby or an old person or someone in need here in the city where I live, I always whisper, Om tare tutare ture soha. I know that Tara will be always there helping everybody.

New Kadampa Shugden protesters: Maybe better to go home and do something meaningful


NKT students were told in October 2013 that they would not see Kelsang Gyatso in person ever again.

Do you think slander and hate are going to help him?

Some small group in our NKT society engage in meaningless activity on the internet, not only Sangha, some lay. This is incorrect. We are Kadampa practitioners, Kadampa Teachers. Why are we enjoying meaningless activity, discussion? We can have a meaningful discussion with pure practitioners or senior practitioners, Teachers. There is no meaning in talking about silly things publicly on the internet.

No meaning engaging in silly question and answers on the internet. Please Gen-la Khyenrab, pass my message. I am telling you for your purpose and our society’s purpose. In this way, keep individuals and society pure and show very good example. – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso*

* This message by Kelsang Gyatso was sent to all official NKT internet chat forums a while ago but in another context

Guest post by NKS


What is the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)?


The NKT-IKBU (International Kadampa Buddhist Union) is a controversial New Religious Movement – different from mainstream Buddhist groups – created by one Tibetan Buddhist monk called Kelsang Gyatso in 1992. There are no other Tibetans in the group, either as teachers or students, and there is no contact between the NKT and the rest of the Buddhist world. It can be called a ‘separatist’ organisation.

A UK-based research group dedicated to New Religious Movements that is partially government funded – INFORM at the LSE in London – received more enquiries about the New Kadampa Tradition than about any other group, including Scientology, in the last 5 years. Inform mentioned the NKT three times, along with Scientology and other radical groups, in their leaflet ‘Extremism on Campus’.

Due to the NKT’s promotional campaigns and expansion techniques – not used in traditional Tibetan Buddhism where the teacher generally only teaches when asked – the NKT is still expanding its international property portfolio. The NKT-IKBU has roughly 48 centers in the UK, 50 in the US including in Hollywood and the Hamptons, and more than 120 in the rest of the world, with roughly 600 venues temporarily rented for giving classes. ‘World Peace Temples’ are within Meditation Centers. There are 32 World Peace Cafes, one hotel and a children’s Primary School in England. Tharpa publishing company only publishes Kelsang Gyatso’s books, translated into many languages including Chinese.

Kelsang Gyatso’s teachings are described as ‘Modern Buddhism’ which claims to remove the ‘Tibetan’ from Tibetan Buddhism for western people. The NKT ordination, teachings, study program and volunteer work conditions are unlike those in other Tibetan Buddhist groups and are focused on maintaining the ‘purity’ of the NKT and the danger of ‘mixing’ with other traditions or the ‘meaninglessness’ of ‘ordinary’ life.

Dismissing orthodox doctrine, Kelsang Gyatso has made a ‘protector’ practice of ‘Shugden’ the central focus of his own tradition, using it to give an ‘NKT’ identity or ‘allegiance’ that can unify his students all over the world. It is the obligatory daily practice for every NKT centre and teacher. For NKT students, following Kelsang Gyatso’s instructions, their ‘Shugden’ has become an incomparable ‘Wisdom Buddha’ who can solve all their problems, and is completely bonded, psychologically, with Kelsang Gyatso as their unique ‘spiritual guide’.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has advised that his own students should not worship ‘Shugden’ as it increases sectarian conflict and is historically connected to violent disagreements in the Tibetan world, including the murder of his close associate and two other monks, 100 yards from the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala in 1997. Kelsang Gyatso has retired but still appears to actively promote his students engaging in a defamation campaign against His Holiness the Dalai Lama for making this doctrinal decision. NKT followers who disagree with the demonstrations have quickly been removed from their NKT teaching posts by Kelsang Gyatso. Investigations show that accusations of ‘abuse’, creating ‘apartheid’ and ‘lying’, etc that the NKT aim at His Holiness the Dalai Lama have no foundation in fact.

There are many documented cases where the NKT has threatened to sue using libel law to silence other Buddhist organisations, umbrella groups, internet forums and academics, authors and publishers. People inside the group can realistically fear social exclusion, illegal eviction or police arrest if they criticise policies. After initially pleasant experiences, survivors report being pushed by the group into serious commitments they did not wish to make. Followers leaving the group are told they will suffer in the ‘hell realms’ for leaving their ‘Guru’.

The NKT has been called a ‘cult’ by ex members due to the lack of democratic management and the group deliberately prioritising its own purposes over the well being of any individual. It is not known how many ‘NKT survivors’ there are, but an online support group has more than 1,200 members. Survivors have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and trauma. Many report confusion, a sense of betrayal and a deep distrust of others. Survivors experience problems integrating into ordinary society such as financial distress due to lost careers, housing problems and loss of contact with families as a result of their previous commitment to the NKT. Other psychological effects include intense fear, guilt, and disorientation relating to their identity and purpose in the world without the NKT.

Journalists drawn into the ‘Human Rights’ aspect of the NKT campaign may easily find themselves promoting the interests of the NKT.


Inform is an independent charity providing information that is as up-to-date and reliable as possible about what many call cults, sects, new religious movements (NRMs), non-conventional religions, alternative religions, spiritual or esoteric movements and/or self-religions based at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Information by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Declaration concerning the demonstrations by New Kadampa Survivors

Different issues the NKT claim as ‘abuses’ by the Dalai Lama are discussed here:

Further information on the NKT can be found here:

The Shugden protesters are preparing for the U.S. Dalai Lama visit – and some journalists seem to become again their victims

False information increase more rapidly than true information. And what is not getting any better, is our ability to separate truth and lies. – Michael Lynch

The New Kadampa Tradtion (NKT) campaigners – via their front organizations International Shugden Society (ICS), Western Shugden Society (WSS), and Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) – have always contacted the media in advance to pass on their propaganda against the Dalai Lama – sending them press packages, contacting sponsors, donors, media people, participants of press conferences, dialogue partners of the Dalai Lama etc – long before the Dalai Lama arrived in a certain country to convince and influence them ahead about their point of view. According to a friend, psychological research about companies demonstrates that the person who bullies first a colleague first dominates the debate regardless of whether the accusations are true or not. This seems to true in the case of the NKT’s international Anti Dalai Lama campaign.

At the moment the New Kadampa Tradtion campaigners prepare for the upcoming Dalai Lama visit to the North America , and  seem to become once again successful in misinforming journalists who in turn unwittingly sometimes become  tools of the propaganda of the Shugden group by giving them a lot of space to express their allegations, ideas, and exaggerations unchallenged by any critical investigation or fact checking …

By far the majority of journalists have since 2008 missed any opportunity to balance the claims of the protesters, which they willingly repeated in their press articles and other media without seeking the expertise of independent academic experts. Either due to a lack of time, resources or effort to really investigate, or due to their own cultural bias, or sensationalist greed, or an arrogance that thinks they would be able to understand the complex Shugden conflict and cross cultural issues, the majority of journalists repeat the propaganda of the campaigning Shugden group again and again – thereby contributing to the sad situation of mistaken allegations becoming facts in the court of public opinion. I wonder if the press would be similarly naive or simplistic to repeat all the accusations of a Scientology front group without any skepticism or thorough investigation?!

The resent example of  a rather simplistic media  approach was given by Michael Carl in “The Dalai Lama accused of religious persecution“. A new journalistic piece that appeared recently and on first glance it seemed to be unbiased, reasonable and well informed. The author is Johannes Nugroho, and the title is “A lesson for the Dalai Lama“.

But what appears at first glance as a good journalistic piece turns out – if you check more deeply – to be just another piece by a journalist who fell pray to the propaganda of the Shugden protesters’ media team and the own lack background information, first-hand knowledge and cultural bias – if not also pride, to think that he would know more than an academic expert or there wouldn’t be a need to consult independent experts for an article about such a complex issue. I wrote a comment to Mr. Nugroho’s article which I post here for you too with a slight clean up and some improvements. Let me know what you think about it.

A lesson for Johannes Nugroho?

Dear Mr. Johannes Nugroho,
thank you for your article that tries to follow a balanced approach.
Nevertheless, some thoughts to your article where I see some problems.

When you write “There is undeniably a great difference in cultural values between Tibetan Buddhists who grew up within their community in India and the western converts who were raised with liberal western values.” in my eyes this distorts the background of the issue. Why? The protesters are members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), a very cultish, sectarian group, similar to Scientology – there is an Ex member Yahoo self-help forum with more than 1,200 members (I am one of those many Ex members), called “New Kadampa Survivors“. So we, as Ex members of the protesting group, speak from first hand experience, and as Westerners and not primarily as Dalai Lama supporters.

Now, your article wrongly suggests that the protesters would value “liberal western values” while they – in our own experience from within the group – accept a thorough lack of such Western values in their own organization, the NKT, (see “Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness“) and deliberately abuse the term Human Rights in order to slander the Dalai Lama with a mixture of untruths, some truths, spin of the facts, taking things out of context, exaggerations – in short a skilfully made disinformation mixture which seems to be appealing or attractive to the press, Western ears and those who lack precise knowledge and (naively) feel safe enough to think they don’t need to ask independent academic experts before they judge these complex, cross cultural issues and write about it.

The whole issue is based on cross cultural confusion and the protesters skilfully exploit this confusion, increase and fuel it by abusing the topic of Human Rights while claims of Human Rights violations have never been approved by any Human Rights group and such claims were totally rejected by the Delhi High Court in India in 2010 – where the organized Shugden followers tried to file a law suit against the Dalai Lama and the CTA – due to ‘vague averments’ and ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’.

When you state that the New Kadampa Tradition is identified as the main force behind the protests by the Dalai Lama supporters you are in my eyes already a “victim” of the propaganda tactics of the Shugden protesters. These tactics aim to divide voices into pro Shugden / anti Shugden and pro Dalai Lama / anti Dalai Lama factions but this is incorrect and serves only as a propaganda tool that narrows down the complexity of things and slanders those who correct the protesters (to be “blind Dalai Lama sheep”) for the sake of distorting the facts as well as over simplifying the situation and events, making things more suitable for simplistic propaganda that misinforms the public. As if those who state facts as facts would all be Dalai Lama supporters. Also, if you agree with the Dalai Lama does this make you a Dalai Lama follower? And if you disagree with him does this make you an Anti Dalai Lama proponent? What a simplistic world view!

That the NKT is behind the protests was mentioned for instance by INFORM (an reputable academic institution that researches on New Religious Movements, based at the London School of Economics) as well as the German Evangelische Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen (EZW) neither of which can be identified as Dalai Lama supporters – and you can find this out yourself if you do proper research. To see this fact – that the NKT via front groups (similar to Scientology) are running these protests (from 1996-98 and from 2008 onwards) –  wouldn’t make you a Dalai Lama supporter, would it? It’s just a fact no matter which religious figure you follow.

With respect to banning Shugden from the institutional echelons of exiled governance, the anthropologist Prof Martin Mills writes in his paper, “This Turbulent Priest:Contesting Religious Rights and the State in the Tibetan Shugden Controversy“:

The allegation has been laid against the CTA (specifically, the 12th Session of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies) that they changed Article 63 of the Tibetan Democratic Constitution such that the presiding judge of the Judiciary Commission, along with its two juries, should not be worshippers of Shugden. This specific accusation has not been rejected by the CTA (however, I have yet to confirm it either way), who see it as within their remit to constitute governance as they wish. If true, however, it is indicative of the particular place that the Shugden controversy plays within Tibetan cultural politics: it is a debate about the foundations of the rule of law. In banning Shugden from the institutional echelons of exiled governance, the Dalai Lama is not simply reacting to intolerance of a sectarian minority: he is also acting to remould the exiled Tibetan polity as constitutionally non-sectarian.

It would be quite narrow minded and Western-centric (based on cultural bias and pride) to apply a “Western understanding” 1:1 onto other cultures, especially cultures that are by nature deeply religious, where religion and politics go together, and where there are other values of social context/living together that are different than those of Western cultures. Only a very ignorant person would compare the Aborigines, their society and modes of living, with Western values and standards and then state one-sidedly that the Aborigines (or their leader) would have a lesson to learn. The Tibetans and the Dalai Lama try to find a middle way between their own way of living and good Western modes of living, however, Tibetan democracy has been always special as Tibetans admit themselves (see “Tibetan democracy” by Dhondup Tsering).

The protesters and many Western observers (including you in your article) totally ignore the social/religious background and Tibetan society when they judge this issue. Anthropologists and scientists, who are well educated and knowledgeable, balanced and not too biased, don’t follow such extremes.

It is also incorrect when you state that “Tibetan Shugden followers [are] living under the jurisdiction of the CTA” because exiled Tibetans in India live under the jurisdiction of India and the Indian constitution. The CTA does not have any police, prison, court etc. That’s why academic experts such as Prof. Nathan Hill (University of London, SOAS) states in an article by TheForeigner (May 8, 2014) that the accusations made by the Shugden group that the Dalai Lama is suppressing freedom of religion are non-sense:

“This accusation makes no sense,” states Dr Hill. “The Dalai Lama is not head of any state; he has no military or police at his command; he has no political jurisdiction over which he can exercise suppression.”

“Some members of the Gelug sect left the authority of the Dalai Lama in order to follow what they see as a purer form of religion. These people may not be very popular in other parts of the Gelug sect, but their human rights have not been violated nor their freedoms suppressed; even if some people did want to suppress or silence the pro-Shugen side, they simply have no means of doing so,” Dr Hill concludes.

Again, when you insinuate or clearly state that the topic is based on a difference of values in both cultures, this is a simplification that in my eyes doesn’t accord with the actual situation. These Western protesters do within their own organization, the NKT, exactly the things they accuse the Dalai Lama of doing. For many of us Ex members these accusations are projections / reflections of the internal state and situation right within the NKT and its autocratic leadership. Moreover if you dig deeper and if you study what the NKT leader, Kelsang Gyatso, said and wrote over the last decades about the Dalai Lama you could see that he has a personal vendetta against the Dalai Lama and that he exploits his naive Western followers as foot soldiers in his unilateral war against the Dalai Lama – again, I speak of my own experience and investigation from within the group that stages these protests. My impression is based on my own experiences within  the group – other ex NKT members confirmed these findings.

It is also not the case that Tibetans accept the Dalai Lama’s words as law (see “The power of the 14th Dalai Lama …“).
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly insisted that people should not accept his stance on Shugden out of blind faith but they should really research into its history and background and they should accept his stance only when they have gained a conviction based on their own research. He also repeatedly said that people are free to ignore and to reject his advice. He also said that he will accept any result of the (democratic) Vinaya “Stick Referendum” held in the monasteries of South India, if the majority wanted to practice Shugden, he would accept that and never mention a word about this topic again:

If the final result of voting shows more than 60% want to propitiate Doegyal, then from this day onward I shall never utter even a single word about Doegyal. – see “The Call of the Dalai Lama to settle the Shugden controversy by majority vote

As an Ex member of the NKT I would not call the NKT heretical but just a destructive cult that uses Buddhism for empire building and to gratify the ego of the NKT leader, Kelsang Gyatso. This is an opinion often expressed by EX NKT and this criticism doesn’t make us Dalai Lama supporters – though naturally many ex members start to cultivate faith into the Dalai Lama because he is the exact opposite of this sectarian, intolerant and narrow minded cult with its black and white thinking and Anti Tibetan / Anti Dalai Lama stance. Those who criticize the NKT are up to 95% EX NKT. For a very very long time the far majority of Tibetans, as well as Westerners, journalists and academics have been totally unaware about the damage this group is doing to their Western followers, and started only recently to pay more attention to their suffering and to listen to them.

I don’t share your conclusion that the Dalai Lama would have to “somehow reconcile himself with the Shugden followers” I would rather suggest that Shugden followers have to somehow  reconcile with the Dalai Lama and they have to accept the decisions within the monasteries that are based on majority vote and Vinaya (Monastic Law) procedures. They should also get back to being more grounded because they totally hyped this topic as if it would be of utmost importance and more important than other REAL injustices (such as torture, real persecution etc) while NONE of them has been killed, tortured, put in prison, starved, or died due to “religious discrimination” etc. The instances of discrimination not nearly as heavy or widespread as they claim. If they are more reasonable and grounded and stop to hype their egos up with the importance of Shugden there would be a better basis to live together (again, I speak from my own experience and observations within Shugden communities).

This doesn’t mean that the Dalai Lama or the CTA/Tibetan Society don’t also have something to learn. But your conclusion that the Dalai Lama would have to “reconcile himself with the Shugden followers” does not take into account dependent arising and that there are more sides to be considered in this issue than that of the Dalai Lama or Human Rights. (Again you fell prey in my eyes to the Shugden propaganda that the Dalai Lama would be the sole culprit of the Shugden issue and its complications and to their abuse of the concept and understanding of Human Rights.)

BTW, Interpol still searches with red wanted notices for three Shugden followers for the alleged triple murder of a Shugden opponent (Gen Lobsang Gyatso) and two of his students, and Shugden followers tried to murder the assistant of Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche (a Shugden proponent) with the vile plan to accuse the Dalai Lama/CTA of this murder. This vicious plan of Shugden fanatics has been made public by Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche himself and this obvious fanatisation of many (but not all!) Shugden followers is a fact the Indian police acknowledges too. All these facets are totally faded out in your analysis as if they didn’t exist although they form an important basis for the Dalai Lama’s approach on Shugden. Your article also ignores the underlying sectarianism, elitism and power struggle that goes along with Shugden worship … – in short the article ignores and fails to consider the multi-faceted layers of the Dorje Shugden Controversy and the Anti Dalai Lama protesters in order to offer a rather simplified understanding that suggests the Dalai Lama has to change.

That’s why the article is one sided in my eyes and my conclusion is that you have a lesson to learn ;-) It would be good to contact academic experts and to read their works instead of writing a simplistic article such as this one.

The question I would find useful – if one understands the organized Shugden protesters as fanatics or fundamentalists (which they are in my and others’ eyes) – is: how can one be tolerant with the intolerant and how does one approach this radicalization, fanaticism and fundamentalism in Buddhism? This is a challenge to our whole society, the Tibetan society, and in different countries and religions – fanaticism seems to become an important topic in the 21st Century – and it is just too simple to call for tolerance for the intolerant or to ask the Dalai Lama to learn a lesson.

The Bristol-based Buddhist specialist Prof. Paul Williams remarked in a Guardian article about the Shugden controversy in 1996:

The Dalai Lama is trying to modernize the Tibetans’ political vision and trying to undermine the factionalism. He has the dilemma of the liberal: do you tolerate the intolerant?

See also

Concise information for a broader public by EX NKT

Background information on this blog

Last edited by tenpel on October 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm


Kadampa Ryan’s false reasoning why the Dalai Lama is “the false Dalai Lama”

GUEST POST by Joanne Clark

I was sad to read the recent rant published online by “Kadampa Ryan” entitled Ten Valid Reasons to Conclude That Tenzin Gyatso is a False Dalai Lama.

I, and others, have devoted a great deal of our time in dialogue with Ryan, in what he once called his “common ground” project. We had hopes that he placed a higher value on truth and decency than his peers within the NKT. However, this recent writing of Ryan’s is filled with vitriol, deception, unsubstantiated claims and narrow cultural bias. It’s sad.

Here are some facts in relation to Ryan’s writing:

  • Ryan provides no sources for his statements about the Dalai Lama. They could be barroom gossip for all we know.
  • He alleges things about the Dalai Lama that I, as a close follower, have never witnessed. Is he privy to inside information? As he lives in China, this is doubtful!
  • For example, I have NEVER witnessed the Dalai Lama:
  1. Accuse Shugden practitioners (for 40 years) of “wanting to harm” his life and the cause of Tibet; (point one)
  2. Accuse Shugden practitioners (for 40 years) of being Chinese spies; (point one)
  3. Accuse Shugden worshippers (for 40 years) of being murderers or sectarian. (point one)
  4. Force followers to make a decision between “loving him” and “practicing Shugden”. (This point, #2, was very convoluted– logic indeed.)
  5. “Encourage people to abandon their vows and threaten a second Cultural Revolution for those who don’t comply.” (point three)
  6. “Implore his followers and his government to withdraw all material support for and even association with Dorje Shugden practitioners.” (point six)
  7. Speak of Shugden practitioners as “enemies.” (point six)
  8. Raise money from Westerners for the Tibetan cause. (point nine)
  9. Call himself the “ultimate refuge”—in fact, he is very clear in every teaching on refuge that the Dharma is the ultimate refuge. (point ten)
  • In addition, Ryan’s story about how the Dalai Lama was falsely recognized due to a plot by Reting Rinpoche is not backed by “considerable evidence” as Ryan claims. In fact, this is a story told by anonymous authors who cite another anonymous author in the ISC publication False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History. Ryan himself has already refuted part of that story—the part about the Dalai Lama being Muslim. Isn’t it odd that he would trust the rest? Or perhaps he has found new evidence? Mainstream authors, who use their names and allow peers to review their work would not agree with this story. (point five)
  • As for Ryan’s claim about religious persecution, we—and Amnesty International and the Indian High Courts—are still waiting for evidence that there is significant religious persecution occurring! If he provided that, Ryan would then have to find evidence that the Dalai Lama instigated the persecution. He’s a long way from substantiating this claim: “Only a False Dalai Lama would hypocritically preach religious freedom in the world but then deny it in his own home.” (point four)
  • Recently, Ryan agreed that he was wrong about monks being made homeless due to restrictions on Shugden practice. However, several statements in this piece of writing suggest that he hasn’t really let go of that story– is that true?
  • Ryan provides no historical context or source for this silly, children’s story: “The Chinese told [the Dalai Lama] decades ago Tibetans could have religious freedom if only he would renounce any political position and authority. But instead, until only very recently, he held onto his position as both political and spiritual leader…Only a False Dalai Lama would hold himself out as a false hope when in reality it was his intransigence of wanting to hold onto his own political position that stood in the way of the religious freedom of his people.”

Really? Could Ryan provide some sources for that story? Some dates? This sounds like a one-dimensional children’s story—or a spin coming from the PRC propaganda machine—and like every other claim from the PRC and the ISC, it places the cause of every Tibetan problem on the shoulders of the Dalai Lama. It is beyond the scope of this writing—and definitely beyond Ryan’s understanding– to discuss the history of Tibet over the past 60 years. However, let it suffice to say that Ryan’s rendition is inadequate at best and I am certain he cannot provide an historical source for his claim. (point seven)

  • This statement by Ryan: “he wears all sorts of ‘false hats’ to promote his celebrity status,” clearly demonstrates that Ryan knows nothing about the Dalai Lama, the Dharma teacher he’s maligning. He simply knows of a face in the headlines. In reality, the hats the Dalai Lama wears are more than hats—they’re extensive projects, involving many many hours, days, weeks and years of his time. These projects bring delight and human decency, wisdom, hope and courage into the lives of millions of people around the world. And there is also the hatless Dharma teacher, the humble scholar who teaches Nagarjuna, Tsongkhapa, Kamalashila, Buddha etc. in ways that challenge the intellect and heart of all who attend. The Dalai Lama’s knowledge of Dharma far surpasses most lamas. But Ryan doesn’t know about this or about those other projects spreading altruism around the world—and yet he claims to know intimate details on what motivates the Dalai Lama, how he thinks and feels! How can that be? (point eight)
  • As for this statement: “He willingly deceives people in the West into believing Tibet is some sort of Shangri-la, when in reality it has always been a feudal theocracy.”I have heard Ryan’s story about the alleged sorry state of Tibet before! My friend Chris Chandler is a great fan of this theory. And so is the PRC! They love to claim that they have rescued poor, ignorant Tibetans from their feudal lords! Personally, I find Ryan’s, Chris’s and the PRC’s attitudes in this regard to be narrow, bigoted, hate-filled and ignorant.

Also, Ryan must know that we in the US have some deep shame in our own history and no American has the right to judge the history of another people—even today, our civil rights record is abysmal. How would we feel if people from other countries and cultures started calling us names and denigrating our choices? Once again, Ryan needs to read his history and discover for himself that Tibetan history is certainly no worse than our own history—Tibetan culture is a treasure to be preserved. He might even be interested to read the Dalai Lama’s first autobiography, written before the civil rights movement in this country, in which the Dalai Lama spoke of social reforms he had been initiating within Tibet in order to address inequalities. The PRC blocked much of that work. (point nine)

  • So how did Ryan do? Ten wrong out of ten. So much for “logic” and “looking deeply.” Most of what I’ve just written I’ve written before. Why do I keep feeling like I’m dealing with naughty children? Ryan has no more proof for his wild rant than I would have if I came up with a story that he was a child molester who was embezzling money from his government and teaching false Dharma. And writing a discussion about the Dalai Lama from China is a little like writing about tropical plants from Siberia. He has a distinct disadvantage there.

Surely, surely, any adult making claims that horribly malign another individual would take the time to be sure of his/her facts. But Ryan and I have already had that conversation as well. He is simply not concerned. He calls these infractions of truth minor and lightweight, of no significance. And as this diatribe shows, he is not concerned about providing evidence for his allegations, not concerned if what he says is clearly a fabrication.

All that seems to matter to Shugdenpas today is the need to rally the troops for the upcoming protests under those signs about a “false Dalai Lama.” And the phrase itself has that hypnotic quality when the protesters chant, doesn’t it? It has that insidious ear-worm that won’t leave you after you’ve heard it. This is what Ryan is really writing about, isn’t it? Somewhere someone has decided that the Dalai Lama is an enemy who must be undermined. The decision has been made and so it seems that the details don’t matter very much to anyone involved.

This is what I see, as Ryan builds his puppet, calls it the Dalai Lama and then accuses it of being false. All I can say is of course it’s false, just as false as the Ryan child molester I could build if I felt spiteful  enough. When is the Shugden community going to come to its senses?

NKT Survivor activists informing the public about the New Kadampa Tradition at the University of London

The New Kadampa Tradition about the “Modern Buddhism Event“:

Wake Up Smiling

Find out how to greet each day with a smile and see new opportunities in every encounter.

In this talk we will learn how to develop an open and warm heart towards others, freeing us from anxiety and self concern and bringing a freshness and joy to each day. Join in a guided meditation using the methods explained so you can start to experience the peace and freedom of a calm, clear mind.

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong is a Kadampa Buddhist nun and an inspiring teacher who teaches extensively and internationally to thousands of people each year with humour, kindness and wisdom exemplifying the essence of the Kadampa Buddhist way of life. We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to receive teachings from her.

What sounds so innocent, light and nice can turn your life into a night mare. Because for most of us ex NKT the NKT is a harmful, very destructive cult and those events are just a means to get and then to burn new members for the expansion of the group at the costs of the individual’s welfare.

Here are two videos from the protesters, Carol and Linda:



Here a video excerpt of one of Dekyong’s visits to London:


Gen Kelsang Dekyong, Spiritual Director of the NKT, at Anti Dalai Lama protests, reading aloud the hate filled manifest “21st Century Buddhist Dictator – The Dalai Lamafrom the Western Shugden Society broshure “The Tibetan Situation Today” (PDF):

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong at Colgate University (USA), April 22nd, 2008. (Details here.

Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong at Colgate University (USA), April 22nd, 2008. (Details here).



EX NKT informing the public

Social Media

More on this blog

Images courtesy from New Kadampa Survivor Actvists.

Dorje Shugden worship has not been banned

GUEST POST by Ani Tsultrim

The Buddhist monk, Tenzin Peljor, on his blog, “Tibetan Buddhism: Struggling with Difficult Issues:” writes:

Over the past two decades and, more recently during his tour of the US, the International Shugden Community (the latest New Kadampa Tradition “front organization” and its political wing) have protested against the Dalai Lama’s decision to “ban” the worship of the gyalpo Shugden. When asked to provide explicit evidence of such a ban, supporters of the deity frequently point to the following statement, purportedly from the Dalai Lama, which appears at Youtube (see 2:53 onwards)

“I began this ban to continue the Fifth Dalai Lama’s legacy, I started this by myself and I have to continue, and carry it to the end.”

Whether or not the Dalai Lama actually said this is highly questionable. To date, no evidence has been forthcoming from the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) to confirm or deny what His Holiness said.

Further, it is noteworthy that the NKT has a long history of distorting the statements made by the Dalai Lama. They produce sound bites; they slant the truth to support their unproved claims, they edit videos, and then post deceitful propaganda in various places on the Internet; on Youtube, on NKT web sites, and on NKT Facebook pages. They say the Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden. They say he is lying. They say that he is not the real Dalai Lama. They say that he is suppressing religious freedom. These are wild assertions, each of which need to be addressed and refuted, one-by-one.

Ostensibly, the NKT vitriol found on the Internet, centers around what they are calling a ban against the practice of Dorje Shugden. If, as they assert, the Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden, then any critical evaluation would include the answers to these questions:

What does the word “ban” mean, in English?

The modern English definition is this:

The definition:

Verb: to prohibit, forbid, bar, interdict

Noun: the act of prohibiting by law; interdiction

Examples: to ban nuclear weapons; to ban genocide

– The Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition, 1984
Online source:

Clearly, the first, and modern, definition of “ban” is understood by English-speaking people as a law, or laws, which have been handed down by judicial bodies, both local and international. The Dalai Lama simply has no legal or judicial authority to ban the propitiation of Dorje Shugden, nor anything else, for that matter; not in Tibet, nor in India, nor anywhere in the world. He would be the first to affirm that this is so, and it would be re-affirmed by every judicial body and government in the world.

Is there a Tibetan word that means “ban” as understood by native English speakers?

Kelsang Khyenrab of the New Kadampa Tradition, on the face book blog, “Dalai Lama Truth,” says he consulted two sources for the meaning of the Tibetan word “ban.” He found these English equivalents:

  •, and the synonym

These Tibetan words are translated as: “prohibition,” “restriction,” “restraint”

– The Chinese – Tibetan Dictionary, People’s Publishing House, Beijing, Second Edition, 1996, and the Light English-Tibetan Dictionary compiled by T.G. Dongthog, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), Dharamsala, 1985.

These words–“prohibition,” “restriction,” and “restraint”–do not carry the force of law, since the Dalai Lama cannot have one thrown into prison for practicing Shugden. The best example of a true ban is that of the Chinese government’s ban on displaying pictures of the Dalai Lama. Many have been incarcerated and/or sent to labor camps for doing so.

Steve Maxwell, posting on the face book page “We Need to Talk About Shugden,” observed this concerning the deliberate attempts to deceive through the video edits done by the New Kadampa Tradition:

Then there is the issue of what HH  Dalai Lama actually said. Put it another way, just because the Shugdenites subtitle a video with the word ‘ban‘, it does not mean that that is an accurate translation.

In addition to the NKT’s total lack of understanding about the meaning of the word “ban,” there is the question of what words the Dalai Lama actually used. There are two other Tibetan words that could be expressed within this context, which are Dham Drak, and Kag Dhom.

Siling Tongkhor, a Tibetan monk, viewed all of the NKT videos that were posted on the “Dalai Lama Truth” page, and noted the following:

In all those video compilations, HHDL used the word Dham Drak only once. Though Dham Drak can be loosely translated as a “ban” it actually is an ambiguous word in Tibetan that could mean both ban and restriction. Though it may have identical impact in English, in Tibetan, Dham Drak sounds less like an actual ban. The important point is that His Holiness didn’t speak of “banning Shugden” in any other cases.” The word “Kag Dhom,” which unmistakably means ban, was not used by His Holiness at all.

Finally, from a Western Tibetan scholar regarding the terms used by His Holiness:

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.

This brings us to a deeper look into this issue; namely, the second dictionary definition of the word “ban.”

Is there an ecclesiastical definition of the word “ban” that would apply to the statements made by the Dalai Lama?

The second definition of the English word “ban” is this:


a. to pronounce an ecclesiastical curse upon
b. to curse; to execrate
c. a malediction; curse

Accordingly, the word “ecclesiastical” relates to Christianity, and by its very nature and original use, it meant that one who had been banned by the church was also summarily excommunicated. That was quite a drastic event to befall a true believer.

So, because an ecclesiastical curse is a malediction, and unmistakably Christian, to try to equate His Holiness’ considered evaluation of Dorje Shugden to a Christian edict is an oxymoron. It is absurd to think that the Dalai Lama, a Buddhist, could, or would, pronounce an ecclesiastical ban on other Buddhists because they practice Shugden. He does not have the authority to do so, nor does he have the authority to excommunicate them.

If there is not a law, the breaking of which could incarcerate or fine practitioners, and if there is not an ecclesiastical curse, or pronouncement by the Dalai Lama which would lead to excommunication, then how can the NKT claim that there has been a ban?

Does the word “advice” have the same meaning as “ban?”

According to the Random House College Dictionary “advice” is: a) an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action; b) it is a communication containing information; c) it refers to opinions as bases worthy of thought; d) it is given after careful deliberation.

On the official website of the Dalai Lama there is this statement under the heading ‘His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Advice concerning Dolgyal (Shugden)’:

His Holiness has strongly urged his followers to consider carefully the problems of Dolgyal … and to act accordingly. He has stated that, as a Buddhist leader with a special concern for the Tibetan people, it is his responsibility to speak out against the damaging consequences of this kind of spirit worship. Whether or not his advice is heeded, His Holiness has made clear, is a matter for the individual. However, since he personally feels strongly about how negative this practice is, he has requested those who continue to propitiate Dolgyal not to attend his formal religious teachings, which traditionally require the establishment of a teacher-disciple relationship.

His Holiness is a Buddhist leader. He makes it clear that it is up to the individual. He is offering advice based on careful deliberation. Advice is not a ban. Because His Holiness is giving advice, it follows that:

>>> The New Kadampa Tradition is completely mistaken in making such a claim. By every definition of the word, there simply is not a ban against the worship of Dorje Shugden.

See also

Last edited on October 7, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Protests by the International Shugden Community (ISC) Against the Dalai Lama—Is There Any Truth in Them?

Here are some facts:

  1. The International Shugden Community (ISC) protesters claim that there is “overwhelming evidence” that Shugden worshippers are being persecuted by the Dalai Lama and his followers and that human rights violations abound. However:
  • In 1998, Amnesty International investigated their claims of religious persecution and found “insufficient evidence.” (AI Doc)
  • In 2010, the Delhi High Court also dismissed the Shugden community’s claims of religious persecution (see Delhi High Court or CTA site)
  1. Further, on Shugden community websites, many deceptions and unsubstantiated claims are made. Investigation of those reveals that things have not changed since Amnesty International and the Indian High Courts made their determinations. There is NOT “overwhelming evidence” of religious persecution.
  2. In fact, there is a compelling lack of credible, substantial evidence backing any of the protesters’ claims of serious persecution, no Indian media reports, police reports or impartial reports of any kind.
  3. The International Shugden Community (ISC) produce videos on Youtube and their website to look like BBC news releases, with a red, circling globe, urgent music and Breaking News or NEWS inscribed across the screen. On these videos, various ploys are used to deceive and mislead viewers, as will be demonstrated below. (see ICS)
  4. An investigation of the ISC website has so far revealed 32 deceptive statements and 16 unsubstantiated claims. There are definitely more because the investigation is not complete. Some of the deceptions are quite glaring. Some are simply little pieces that accumulate and add up to much bigger and more alarming accusations. In some cases the ISC will go out of their way to deceive.
  5. Many of the claims of persecution are in reference to events that took place ten or twenty years ago and that allegedly occurred in hard to reach, restricted areas of India. These claims are extremely difficult to substantiate or verify. Despite that fact, clear deceptions can nonetheless be found, due to simple carelessness in their reporting.
  6. When statements from the Dalai Lama appear in their video reports, these are short, misleading snippets taken totally out of context.
  7. Many of the protesters’ claims are hearsay and personal interviews. Several of those have been shown to be deceitful. Others cannot be verified.
  8. Here are just a few examples of the many deceptions from the ISC website:
  • In order to “show” that Shugden monks were made homeless and destitute in one “News” video, footage of young Theravada monks going on their traditional begging rounds was inserted—not Tibetan monks at all! This was an intentional deception. Exiles in Exile: Tibetan Monks outcast by the Dalai Lama (see YouTube),
  • In another video, a Tibetan woman from Switzerland wept as she told the story of her sister being unable to obtain food to eat in Dharamsala, India because Tibetans would not sell food to Shugden worshippers. However, even if it was true that Tibetans wouldn’t sell to her, Indians own most of the food stalls in Dharamsala and they don’t care about Tibetan controversies. Her sister could clearly find food! This video is clearly deceptive. (see YouTube)
  • In several videos, they tell the story of many Shugden monks being made “homeless” because of being expelled from their monasteries. The claim is made that they had to live in “slums” and “safe houses.” However, the truth is that these monks were provided with land and buildings in order to resume their choice of religious practice. Pictures of these buildings show that they were given their fair share, if not more and they are currently thriving. Those claims are simply false, more lies. (see YouTube and YouTube)
    See here for further investigation of this false allegation: “In February 2008 900 Buddhist Shugden monks were made homeless by the Dalai Lama?
  • This false claim about homelessness has been a favorite of the Shugden community. It is also made in the ISC publication entitled False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History, where they state on page 24:

As a direct result of this so-called referendum 900 innocent monks were then summarily expelled from their monasteries. Most of these 900 monks were very poor and had no other place to live; many were fearful of the future and actually wept as they were forced to leave.

  • In another video, they deceptively refer to the murder of Gungtan Tsultrim, which occurred in 1976, in the context of it being the outcome of a “wanted list” of Shugden worshippers made by the Tibetan Exile Government in 1997, twenty-one years after the murder occurred– or of a list that there is no evidence of! They are unclear, but both are deceptive. (YouTube)
  • In another video, reference is made to Shugden worshippers being mistreated in various ways some twenty years ago, such as having their house firebombed or being ransacked—but again, none of these claims can be substantiated by a media report, hospital report or police report. The reports are substantiated only by internal documents from the Shugden Community itself. (YouTube)
  • In another video, they claim that Shugden worshippers are persecuted because they are not granted Indian citizenship when they arrive from Tibet. In fact, no Tibetan is granted Indian citizenship upon arrival from Tibet—in fact, all Tibetans arriving from Tibet generally find life difficult overall. This is an outright lie. (YouTube)
  • In other videos, they show obscure pictures of wounds on the faces and hands of monks, all to indicate some sort of attack, presumably by non-Shugden Buddhists, but there are no media or police reports to substantiate any of the claims. No stories are told providing details of these attacks. They cannot be verified. (YouTube, Youtube)

Screenshot from the International Shugden Community’s (ICS) YouTube Channel (08/23/14) run by Gen Kelsang Rabten, the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) National Spiritual Director for New Zealand and Australia, currently residing in Hong Kong as the Resident Teacher of the NKT’s “Kadampa Meditation Centre Hong Kong”. ICS is a front group of the NKT.

Is the Dalai Lama False?

  1. Recently the Shugden community has published the second of its anonymously authored diatribes against the Dalai Lama, entitled False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History. In this, they claim that the Dalai Lama is secretly a Muslim, born to Muslim parents in a Muslim village—and he therefore is a “false Dalai Lama,” falsely recognized through a mysterious conspiracy by his Regent. They call him the “Saffron-Robed Muslim.” (see ICS)
  2. What sources do these anonymous authors cite for these claims? Another anonymous author! (of an obscure text cited by no other writers but themselves and very hard—impossible?—to find!)
  3. The truth from mainstream historical evidence is that the Dalai Lama was born into a village that had been taken over by a Chinese (Muslim) warlord. There were a few Muslim families in this village, but the majority was Buddhist. The Dalai Lama’s family was clearly Buddhist. In fact, his older brother had been recognized as a high incarnate Buddhist lama years before the Dalai Lama’s birth.
  4. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being Muslim—unless one is claiming to be a Buddhist monk! The Shugden community claims that the Dalai Lama is deceiving the world by not revealing his secret Muslim identity. They hold up banners in their protests showing the Dalai Lama in a Muslim taqiyah (which he donned during one of his many interfaith events). This has caused some to wonder if they are trying to incite Islamaphobia?
  5. This is also the reason protesters hold up placards calling the Dalai Lama false, why they chant over and over, “False Dalai Lama, stop lying…” This is entirely based on a wild report from a group of anonymous authors citing another anonymous author!

Is the Dalai Lama Lying?

  1. The Shugden community changes its mind frequently about why they believe he is lying. There are four full videos purporting to explain why the Dalai Lama is lying on the ISC website. All of those videos contain deceptions themselves.
  2. In one video, entitled The Dalai Lama Lies About Advice From His Teacher, they post a statement from the Dalai Lama’s website and then while the viewer is struggling to read that statement, the narrator reads it falsely, stating a key word “encourage” instead of “support”! The rest of the video is then a claim that the Dalai Lama was lying because he said “encourage”! In fact, they are lying about what the Dalai Lama actually stated, as quoted on his website! (see YouTube)
  3. In another Youtube video, entitled A Question for the Dalai Lama at His Hamburg Talk, Aug. 24, 2014, they show a brief clip from a teaching the Dalai Lama gave in Hamburg last summer. In this, a protester asked the Dalai Lama a question and as he was answering the question, the protester interrupted him by shouting “stop lying!”
    The Dalai Lama then paused and proceeded to address the accusation of lying, whereupon the protester continued to shout “stop lying, stop lying Dalai Lama…” until he was led out by security.
    First, it is surprising that the Shugden community should have been proud enough of this childish display of heckling to publish it on Youtube. However, their caption was even more surprising and yet another example of their habit of deception. They stated,
    “The False Dalai Lama … evades the question by saying that Buddhist monks don’t lie!

But we know that you ARE lying, False Dalai Lama: lying about your Gurus, lying about the nature of Dorje Shugden, lying about the ban you have imposed, and so much more.”So this is the level of honesty and balance the protesters support. (see YouTube)
  4. In other videos, the ISC claim that that Dalai Lama is lying because he says that he has never “banned” Shugden practice—because he claims that Shugden practice is harmful to the Tibetan cause and his own life…. Because he has disagreed with his teacher over his decision. Certainly the accusation of lying looks good on a placard and can rally the troops to protest, but in fact, the claims can be better described as disagreements over a complex issue, disagreements that are beyond the scope of this pamphlet, or any secular discussion, to address.
  5. It is clear in the ISC publication entitled False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History that essentially most of the claims of the Shugden community protesters rely on their belief in a Dalai Lama that no one can see, a “shadow Dalai Lama” complete with evil agendas and purposes totally contrary to how he spends his already very full days. Here is an example from that ISC publication, anonymously authored, anonymously cited, which demonstrates the extremist views these protesters hold:

… from a spiritual point of view there is no one who is more evil than this false Dalai Lama. We sincerely wish for the doctrine of Je Tsongkhapa to be free from being harmed by this enemy. (p. 3)


“Although Lhamo Dondrub [the Dalai Lama] is a Muslim, throughout his life he has maintained the pretence of being a Buddhist holy being, giving Buddhist teachings that he stole from his root Guru Trijang Rinpoche. In this way he has cheated people throughout the world.” (p. 13) (see ICS)

Statements such as these, which abound in ISC publications and video releases, make one wonder about the purpose and validity of the protests. They wish to portray a sane, reasonable face to the world, a calm complaint of religious persecution and human rights violations—but in fact, carry out an agenda themselves that is dishonest, inflammatory and extremist.

For further information, see

Joanne Clark, October 1, 2014


The Virtues of Humility – by Matthieu Ricard

Part 1

Humility is sometimes scorned, regarded as a weakness. The writer Ayn Rand proclaims, “Discard the protective rags of that vice which you called a virtue: humility.”* Pride, however, the narcissistic exaggeration of the self, closes the door to all personal progress, since in order to learn, you must first think that you don’t know. Humility is a forgotten quality of the contemporary world, the theater of seeming. Magazines are constantly giving advice about how to “affirm” yourself, “make an impression,” “be beautiful” — to seem instead of be. This obsession with the favorable image one wants to present is such that we no longer even ask ourselves anymore the question of the groundlessness of seeming, but only how we can appear most positively. However, as La Rochefoucauld wrote, “We should gain more by letting the world see what we are than by trying to seem what we are not.”

Most people associate humility with a lack of self-esteem and a lack of confidence in one’s own abilities, when they don’t associate it with an inferiority complex. They don’t recognize the benefits of humility, since if “self-importance is the privilege of the fool,” humility is the virtue of one who has taken the measure of all that’s left for him to learn and the path he still has to travel. Humble people are not beautiful, intelligent people who take pride in convincing themselves they’re ugly and stupid; they are people who don’t make much of their ego. Not thinking of themselves as the center of the universe, they open up more easily to others and are especially aware of the interconnection between all beings.

* Rand, A. (1992). Atlas Shrugged. Penguin, p. 970.

Part 2

A humble person has nothing to lose or to gain. If he is praised, he thinks it’s for what he has been able to accomplish, not for himself as an individual. If he is criticized, he thinks that bringing his faults out into the open is the best service anyone could do him. “Few are sufficiently wise to prefer censure, which is useful, to praise, which is treacherous,” wrote La Rochefoucauld, as if echoing Tibetan sages who remind us that “the best teaching is one that reveals our hidden faults.” Free from hope and fear, the humble person remains carefree and without affectation. Paradoxically, humility also favors strength of character: the humble person makes decisions according to what he thinks is fair and holds to them, without worrying either about his image or about what people will say about him.

Humility is a quality that is invariably found in the wise person who has acquired many qualities, for, they say, it’s when the tree is loaded with fruit that the branches bend to the ground, whereas the proud person is like the tree whose bare branches point up to the sky. While traveling with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I often noted the great humility laden with kindness of such a venerable man. He is always attentive to people of modest means and never poses as an important person. One day, after greeting François Mitterand, who had just accompanied him to the front steps of the Élysée palace, the Dalai Lama, before getting into his car, went over to shake the hand of one of the guards standing at the side, beneath the stunned gaze of the President of the Republic.

Humility is a component of altruism, since the humble person is naturally concerned about others and attentive to their well-being. Social psychology studies, on the other hand, have shown that those who overestimate themselves show a tendency to aggression that is greater than average.* A link has also been highlighted between humility and the ability to forgive, whereas people who think they’re superior judge the faults of others more harshly and regard them as less forgivable.**

* Bushman, B. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: Does self-love or self-hate lead to violence?? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 219–229.

** Exline J. J. & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Case Western Reserve University. Unpublished data cited by J. P. Tangney, Humility, in Handbook of Positive Psychology (2002).


Sri Lanka: Radical Buddhist groups join forces

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A hard-line Buddhist monk from Myanmar known for his anti-Muslim stance said his movement will join hands with a like-minded Sri Lankan group to “protect” Buddhists, whom he called an endangered world minority.

Ashin Wirathu, leader of 969, a fundamentalist movement, was a special invitee Sunday at a rally of Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Power Force, a Sri Lankan group accused of instigating deadly violence against the country’s minority Muslims in June.

Joining 969 could further boost an already soaring support base for Bodu Bala Sena, an ultranationalist group that has enlisted thousands of youth and Buddhist monks in just two years of existence. This, in turn, could exacerbate mistrust and tensions between Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese-Buddhists and its Muslims.

Politically, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s credibility among Muslims stands to erode further after his government allowed Mr Wirathu to visit Sri Lanka despite opposition from Muslim groups, including his own allies. Mr Rajapaksa is already under criticism for not taking action against Buddhist monks whose inflammatory speeches are blamed for anti-Muslim violence in June that killed two people and wounded dozens, and saw many shops and homes set on fire in three western towns.

Read the full article from the Bangkok Post here.

See alao: Violence by Buddhists against Muslims


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