The Buddhists Who Hate the Dalai Lama More Than the Chinese Do

Dorje Shugden is an obscure trickster spirit, believed to have originated in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in the 17th century. And though the spirit’s followers in the Western world probably number only a few thousand, they’ve been surprisingly successful at generating attention for themselves and their campaign to discredit the Dalai Lama. Recently, BloombergReuters, and the Washington Post, among other outlets, have covered the Shugden followers’ protests, and in a measured tone — surprising for the absurdity of the Shugden followers’ claims. In its Feb. 6 edition, Newsweek put the Dalai Lama on its cover with the headline “Relentless: The Real Dalai Lama.” A Shugden supporter gleefully handed me a photocopy of the article, in part because the article included the subheading “False Dalai Lama” — the same chant Shugden followers make at protests.

There is a new and thorough article by the Foreign Policy, Meet the Buddhists Who Hate the Dalai Lama More Than the Chinese Dothat covers the recent press coverage, the protesters, who is behind the protests, and the “surprising … absurdity of the Shugden followers’ claims”.

Have the Dalai Lama protesters sought dialogue?

The ISC / Dalai Lama protesters are now frequently claiming that they have sought dialogue with the Dalai Lama but the Dalai Lama has never accepted dialogue with them. Once again however, this claim is misleading.

If you really seek dialogue, you try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. You try to understand as well as you can the way of thinking of the person with whom you seek dialogue. While you are working towards that aim you don’t denigrate the other person as ‘false’ or a ‘hypocrite’, ‘very professional liar’, ‘worst dictator’ etc, because this isn’t a basis for a dialogue. The Dalai Lama protesters have not done the former but rather stress the latter. Does this behaviour reveal a genuine motivation for a dialogue or is ‘dialogue’ just more rhetoric like the terms ‘human rights’ and ‘religious freedom’?

During the first round of the protests (1996–98) the protesters didn’t seek dialogue. They issued demands. The demand of Kelsang Gyatso – who “masterminded” and led the protests¹ – and the demand of the NKT protesters was that “the Dalai Lama signs a declaration promising freedom to propagate worship of Dorje Shugden.”¹ If the Dalai Lama does so, Kelsang Gyatso said in an interview to The Daily Telepgraph, they will “immediately cease all activity.”¹

Before that interview with The Daily Telegraph in 1996, a dialogue had been arranged in London, at Tibet House, between representatives of the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE, now CTA) and Jim Belither and Lucy James of the NKT, amongst others. However, whilst these NKT members were on the train from Yorkshire to the meeting, a person on the train suffered a heart attack and the train was delayed. This was interpreted by the NKT members as an inauspicious sign and because of this as well as the fact that the time of the meeting coincided with a demonstration arranged at Eccleston Square, they did not attend the meeting. The meeting was portrayed as a trap to disturb the arranged demonstration and no other meeting was arranged. It seems likely, based on the protesters refusal to accept the TGIE offer for a dialogue, that Kelsang Gyatso said to The Daily Telegraph:

There is no point in us meeting. He will reject what I say. He will never agree. Demonstrations are our only outlet.¹

On May 1st, 1998 a petition was delivered to the Dalai Lama in New York, asking him to sign a declaration. In this declaration the Dalai Lama was asked to confirm that former statements he made were “untrue”, and to acknowledge that his “false information” had created “great suffering”. It concluded, “Therefore, I declare that from now on everyone has the complete freedom to worship Dorje Shugden, and that no one should interfere in any way with their worship.” The petition was signed on behalf of the Dorje Shugden International Coalition, Morten Clausen, an NKT teacher.

During the second round (2009–2014) and during the third round (2014–??) of protests there were no calls for a dialogue, but ultimata were issued (if you don’t do as we wish we will organise protests against you, it is now in your hands). These ultimata were again unreasonable demands, such as to revert a democratic decision made via majority vote (Stick Referendum) by monks in the monasteries in 2008. There, the majority of Buddhist monks decided to remove Shugden worship from their monastic practices and to separate themselves from monks who wished to continue Shugden worship. It is the right of the monks to decide under which contitions they want to live. As a single individual, the Dalai Lama cannot go against a monastic procedure and the majority vote within monastic communities.

For analyses with further details regarding the claims of having sought dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, see:

¹ Dalai Lama Faces Revolt For Barring ‘Death Threat’ Deity, The Daily Telegraph, July 15,1996.

Some corrections with respect to claims made about me in the internet by Tenzin Peljor

Of course, as I expected, the NKT tried hard to defame me online and usually I do not bother to correct them. I will continue to follow this approach.

However, I write this post because I feel this time that I have to correct a tiny piece of misinformation with respect to my person because in this case an established institution and one of the research officers working there is (ab?)used to misrepresent my intentions, some of my work, websites and blog. It appears from glancing through a recent article by the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) / International Shugden Society (ISC) activists and reading the title of the DI post that IndyHack / NKT / ISC want to portray me as an agent of the CTA / Tibetan government body in exile. This is wrong. I act on my own. I think and decide for myself according to how I see things and feel them to be correct.

It is the mental set up of ill-informed conspiracy theorists and the own experience of one final lasting, all controlling, all powerful and unquestionable authority in NKT one has to follow with “unwavering faith” – Kelsang Gyatso – that projects these ideas onto me and the CTA and the Dalai Lama. Here the piece from the heap of misinformation available that I became aware of, rather accidentally, and which I wish to correct:

My first concern with Inform was their relationship with Tenzin Peljor and to what degree they were aware that he was working for the CTA. In addressing this aspect Suzanne Newcombe said, “We are aware that he works towards the [sic] promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues.”, adding, “it is clear from his many public websites that Tenzin Peljor works actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA.”

From the very outset (from 2006 onwards) I started to give information critical of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) that was usually not, or only hardly available. Accounts of critics were actively and successfully repressed by the NKT. Initially I made this in order to warn people about the demerits of an organisation which I consider to be a very destructive cult and which – in the long run – harmed me and many of my friends in many ways (though in the beginning we had a lot of benefits too).

Later my motivation changed into that I wanted to enable people – especially Western newcomers to Buddhism – to understand the harming and manipulative aspects of the organisation in order to empower them to make an informed decision before they follow or commit to NKT since NKT won’t tell them the unpleasant things and will deceive or manipulate them skilfully from the very start, unintentionally or intentionally exploiting the naivety and faith of Buddhist newcomers.

I started this blog under the name of www.westernshugdensociety.wordpress.com with the aim to correct the misinformation of the NKT spread via a highly professional, media savvy worldwide campaign (via three different front groups) with respect to Shugden because misinformation increases confusion in others and correct information were hardly available in 2008 when NKT editors even manipulated the Wikipedia articles so that they conformed with their press campaign.

Correct information empowers people to understand. I always saw and still see my work as a spiritual task: give reliable information so that based on facts and a broad range of accurate, differentiated information people can make up their own mind, and in the best case, the mind poisons – like confusion, hate and attachment – can dissolve. Understanding (wisdom) is the way to (mental) freedom. My blog and websites were just set up to balance the NKT propaganda without the slightest aim of “promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues.” or to work “actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA.” 

The same is true for my other websites, including my personal one which I started only to get some control over the misinformation NKT spread about me in the internet in different languages and on different blogs, websites, forums and comment sections.

Other articles and posts on my websites and blogs aim to dispel confusion about topics many Westerners misunderstand and that are related to Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lamas and Tibet. But again, the target is to dispel misunderstandings and the way to do this is to provide as much as possible accurate and reliable, differentiated information and knowledge (mostly but not exclusively from academic experts), correct and differentiated information, which was in the past very difficult to find online.

Moreover, my websites and blog include articles, interviews and comments that are not at all promoting the Dalai Lama or the CTA but actively criticise some of their actions, e.g. the dealing with of the Middle Way Approach is criticised in the Elliot Sperling article, or the CTA list of Tibetan Anti-Dalai Lama protesters or the Dalai Lama’s silence with respect to Sogyal Rinpoche are criticised on this blog.

Congruency of opinion is no valid evidence that a person promotes and actively supports a person who has a similar position. In my case it is rather coincidental that after a long process of investigation and analysis + research my opinion is more in line with that of the CTA and the Dalai Lama. The congruency is then the result of that at the end of a careful analysis both parties found the same facts but this congruency is not a matter of agenda and promotion.

I asked Inform for further clarification as to why they erroneously saw my websites as ‘promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues’ and why they see my websites as working ‘actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA’.  In response they issued the following statement:

This is the longer quote from which Indy Hack took those two sentences:

“We are aware of Tenzin Peljor’s multiple websites and affiliations with the Bodhicharya Centre, FPMT, and his ordination by the Dalai Lama. We are aware that he works towards the promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues.

“We were not aware that he was currently working at the Central Tibetan Authority’s main offices in Dharamsala. However, it is clear from his many public websites that Tenzin Peljor works actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA.”

Although Indy Hack has not fully misquoted, Indy Hack has carefully selected from a larger piece of text which makes the final ‘quote’ misrepresentative to some extent. Use of the phrases ‘promoting’ and ‘actively supporting’ does not necessarily imply any kind of formal affiliation; these phrases are also not a comment about Peljor’s ‘intention’ or purpose in providing these websites. 

These two statements were made in a larger response to specific questions raised in an email exchange questioning to what extent Inform was aware of potential bias of people presenting Inform with Information.

Tenzin Peljor’s public biography on http://tenzinpeljor.de/ openly states ordination by the Dalai Lama as well as affiliations with the Bodhicharya Centre and the FPMT (via study at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy); these traditions are broadly supportive of the Dalai Lama’s teachings as a Buddhist spiritual leader.  However, working within these traditions does not necessarily mean that an individual is uncritical of them. People’s beliefs are more nuanced and varied than those presented by institutions. Specifically, Tenzin Peljor is not promoting any of these institutions’ views on his independently-run websites of buddhism-controversy-blog.com or http://info-buddhism.com/. The opinions voiced on these website are his as an individual. In particular, on http://info-buddhism.com/ Tenzin Peljor promotes a range of independent academic opinions, some of which are critical of the CTA, and Tibetan Buddhism more generally.  

The website buddhism-controversy-blog.com is critical of a number of Tibetan traditions, including the NKT. In particular, the discussion of links between the NKT and ISC/WSS is consistent with the CTA’s more public linking of the two organisations with the survivors’ statement on its official website last summer. However, the published Information on  buddhism-controversy-blog.com suggesting links between the NKT and the ISC/WSS pre-dates any public statements of the CTA by years.  

While Tenzin Peljor’s websites can be read as working ‘actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA’ this is not proof that he is actively working as an employee of the CTA or with the intention or purpose of explicitly supporting the CTA or Dalai Lama’s agenda. This Information was contextualised in the correspondence from which the quote was taken, but the nature of the original questions was not incorporated into how the short quotes were used in the blog post. 

Quote given with permission from Inform.

Tenzin Peljor

PS: I am not working for the CTA nor did I set up or run the website http://www.dalailamaprotesters.com. However, I gave them permission to use articles from http://www.info-buddhism.com and after their request I gave them also the domain http://www.shugden.info which I bought for another purpose.

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See also

How are newcomers introduced to the Dorje Shugden issues in the New Kadampa Tradition?

Question: Is there any NKT documentation that talks about when to introduce the Dorje Shugden issues to new students? Is there a deliberate policy of concealment and delay in introducing this until people are ‘too far in to get out’?

Answer – in three parts by Carol McQuire

[1] It’s simply not talked about that way. Even internally in the NKT documentation, I have not seen any that is that specifically discusses ‘Shugden’.

If you read the Notes on Teaching Skills by Gen Thubten Gyatso there is a lot in there about ‘gradual introduction’, etc,. The implicit understanding is that this is about the ‘real NKT’/Shugden, etc but that method also applies to a lot of things about Dharma, not just to ‘Shugden’.

As ‘Shugden’ is such an integral part of the NKT it’s not managed as being at all ‘dangerous’ or ‘nasty’ to bring people in to do the practice – it’s a kindness to them to do so. People are invited to do Heart Jewel/Shugden as the daily ‘Guru Yoga’ and main centre practice – every day, every centre – to say thank you for the kindness of the centres, books, study programmes, etc. It’s not ‘announced’ as ‘Shugden’ like a ‘secret practice’ or something prohibited or wrong. It’s so normalised and ordinary you have no idea what you are being drawn into. It’s the NKT’s main practice so how would it be ‘managed’ as ‘secret’? Doing Heart Jewel – the Ganden Lhagyema with Shugden prayers attached – is also a commitment when you join a study programme and of course, if you want to teach in the NKT.

It’s the Dalai Lama’s views that are ‘secret’ and as so many people who ‘drop in’ to the NKT know nothing about what the Dalai Lama thinks and as most of them know nothing about Buddhism or Tibetan Buddhism, then it’s a ‘non-issue’. We tell people who ask us how to ‘check’ that the best way to find out ‘what the NKT is’ is to ask about His Holiness in a general NKT teaching and watch the ‘reply’! It will most probably be an embarrassing silence or a mumbled excuse! Many people attracted to the NKT find it difficult to believe that there is no refuge in His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the NKT as the NKT sangha look just like him and at some point the ‘lineage’ connection to Tibetan Buddhism will be mentioned by them. People may well go to the NKT because of His Holiness and his positive influence on them. That is the sadness embedded in the lack of clarity surrounding these issues.

The NKT does a lot of ‘secret information’ sharing. Knowing ‘what the Dalai Lama says’, etc, is the more ‘secret information’ that is one of the issues you may talk about in private with your NKT teacher and it’s part of the ‘secret bonding’ between the local teacher and their students that keeps the NKT going and the protests going. NKT students are warned not to trust what is said on the internet, etc. They are told about the ‘poor, victimised’ NKT, and the ‘poor victimised Kelsang Gyatso’, etc. The ‘Shugden’ issue is almost marginalised and it’s certainly minimised – if you look at p. 148 in the ‘Modern Buddhism’ ebook that’s a free download, you can see a line drawing of ‘Shugden’ but he’s only called the ‘Wisdom Protector’ so how would a beginner in the NKT realise what the connection is to the protests against His Holiness? It all appears to be very benign and positive.

[2] When you ‘normalise’ Shugden like that, the Dalai Lama then comes across as ‘crazy’ for criticising it and you slot everyone into supporting the campaign as a ‘nice’ thing to do because His Holiness is ‘so mistaken’.

The ‘hardcore’ activists, like IndyHack and Gen La Khyenrab, ‘rev up’ the protest team with all the online accusations and that can deflect criticism of the campaign in general into criticism of their ‘crude’ techniques – this might be an actual ‘campaign ploy’ so people don’t look too much into the real issues and instead they stay ‘in house’ – but in general, it’s seen as the ‘decent’ thing to do to tell His Holiness that he is wrong.

What is also remarkable is that NKT people really seem to fear ‘going outside the box’. Sometimes their idea of ‘research’ is to watch Rabten’s videos for the International Shugden Commuity or look at the Dorje Shugden Tibetan Follower’s videos. Nothing else! Everything outside the ‘NKT view’ they really see as propaganda. I know, because that’s how I thought when I was there! His Holiness was really a ‘bad deal’! It’s fascinating how they do that – all of us ask afterwards how it happened – to university graduates and intellectuals who feel proud of our ability to ‘think independently’! I feel it’s the normalising of the NKT value system – a consistent, inward looking barrage of subtle and not so subtle praise of the ‘Special Kadampa’ techniques. Everything from the Dharma is attributed to Kelsang Gyatso’s ‘kindness’ and when we first ‘fall in love’ with Dharma the NKT justifications and consistently ‘shifted’ teachings slip in too. All your gratitude is highly focused towards the NKT and ‘Geshe-la’, not to ‘Budddha’ or ‘Tibetan Buddhism’.

That’s why a ‘normal, logical’ method when analysing the protest ‘justifications’ will fall short – it’s the whole fabric of ‘how the NKT did it with Shugden’ that needs analysing.
When the NKT/ISC, etc say that His Holiness the Dalai Lama ‘wants to destroy the NKT’, this feels like the truth as discrediting Shugden discredits the NKT world completely. So, the NKT ‘war’ becomes the almost desperate need to preserve ‘their’ tradition, which is then ‘overlaid’ back again onto a ‘Tibetan’ issue as a wider justification of their actions.

The game of ‘creating our own tradition’ which will ‘be’ Tibetan but not ‘Tibetan’ in practice (‘connected’ but ‘isolated’) started when Neil Elliott and other westerners met Kelsang Gyatso at Manjushri Institute in the 1970s. His Holiness wasn’t publicly against Shugden worship then, so it was a ‘sensible risk’ for Gyatso and Neil to create their ‘separate, Shugden tradition’ and ‘world’ during the 80s. They had designed most of it by 1992 – the music was still missing but the basic, simplified books and sadhanas in English were ready. Then, all their great new structure which had the ‘guru yoga of Shugden’ at its heart was torn apart in 1996 by His Holiness’ decision – which I am sure was not at all directed at ‘attacking the NKT’. The decision was taken to help conflicts simmer down and this eventually worked within the Indian diaspora – but Kelsang Gyatso and Neil, then ‘Gen Thubten Gyatso’ were then stuck in the cul de sac of being primarily a ‘Shugden’ group – I think that’s why Kelsang Gyatso went to India with Kelsang Pema in 1996 – to see what he could salvage as a ‘campaign’ against His Holiness, not just ostensibly to ‘see’ the political realities.

Gavin Kilty talks about the wider context here:

[3] It’s almost as if, the more logic you use ‘against’ the anti Dalai Lama protesters, the more you alienate them, as Shugden is so ‘normal’ and listening to what His Holiness says is such a big conceptual contrast to what they have been taught to think, that it produces ‘cognitive dissonance’ and ends up increasing their faith in the NKT. It’s difficult for them to think ‘beyond’ the NKT view.

It’s very, very clever. Bound onto the back of Kelsang Gyatso’s ‘love’ for Shugden as it seems to represent his bond with Trijang Rinpoche and his ‘lineage’ and is the ‘residue’ of the actual Tibetan lineage that Kelsang Gyatso holds and tried to give to his students but in a very crude way (without him having to make the actual effort to ‘be’ a spiritual guide to anyone in person), Neil Elliott used this ‘Kelsang Gyatso figurehead’ to create their own ‘New Kadampa Tradition’ using educational, psychological and politically astute management techniques. What many people don’t understand from outside the NKT is how unimportant the actual person of Kelsang Gyatso is in everyday NKT life – your local teacher, centre and the books are far more so. ‘Geshe-la’ was always more of a ‘concept’ than an actual ‘spiritual guide’ – this is more evident now that he no longer appears in public – he ‘appears’ through ‘Heart Jewel’ practice to ‘talk’ to students who so often say they feel ‘close’ to him but what are they actually close ‘to’?

It was a brilliant plan – to make their own ‘tradition’ and then sell ‘their’ Dharma as a product using corporate commercial techniques and building up a world wide empire of real estate by using students almost like ‘slave workers’ – NKT volunteers, including most of the teachers, work for nothing except the ‘privilege of being allowed’ to work for the NKT! The plan inevitably got warped – their campaign hasn’t changed with the times – it used to be more realistic in the late 90s. It’s not now – they have to look harder for justification – which is why their campaigns are becoming more and more absurd. Last week ‘Atisha’s Cook’ – one of the anonymous online protesters – produced a meme stating that His Holiness is ‘worse than Hitler’. ‘Shugden’ is even hyped up as a ‘religion’ in itself.

10  Atishas Cook the Dalai Lama is worse than HitlerThe NKT simultaneously ‘uses’ Tibetan Buddhism as validation and has to keep itself completely separate from it. The protests function to do both, very neatly. It’s difficult to do that, but they managed to pull it off – at least for their own followers! The reality that Gavin Kilty analyses, in the face of this, seems ‘abnormal’ and ‘absurd’. And to us, on this side, the NKT appear utterly absurd! It takes a lot of thought for people of either side to ‘understand’ where the ‘other side’ is coming from at all.

Carol McQuire

NEWS: Articles related to the New Kadampa Tradition, Ripga, SGI & A Review of “Dolgyal Shugden: A History”

There are some new interesting articles related to the New Kadampa Tradition and Shugden:

* Gavin Kilty has been a full-time translator for the Institute of Tibetan Classics since 2001. Before that he lived in Dharamsala, India, for fourteen years, where he spent eight years training in the traditional Geluk monastic curriculum through the medium of class and debate at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. He also teaches Tibetan language courses in India, Nepal, and elsewhere, and is a translation reviewer for the organization 84000, Translating the Words of the Buddha.

Update

In case you were not aware of it … Newsweek (January 29, 2015) covers the protests and the Shugden controversy in an extensive article that also mentions “The Yellow Book”: Relentless: The Dalai Lama’s Heart of Steel.

Another letter to Kelsang Rabten

The following is another letter by Carol McQuire to Kelsang Rabten in reply to his interview posted on YouTube and the dorjeshugden[.]com site.

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Kelsang Rabten at Anti Dalai Lama protests

Kelsang Rabten at Anti Dalai Lama protests

Kelsang Rabten, in your first interview, you state that it was ‘outrageous’ for a boy to want to ‘smash an image’ on your public shrine. Your demos, Kelsang Rabten, are designed to ‘smash an image’ of much more than a statue (I don’t think you can ‘smash’ either a postcard or a metal statue so that choice of verb is of itself confusing). I would suggest that the ‘potent negativity’ you mention that boy had received from His Holiness, is actually what has been put into you by your teacher, quite the reverse of what you claim. What His Holiness the Dalai Lama does is empower and encourage each person he meets to see and know their own mind.

You do however, follow your own teacher in such ways, that if he says something, you consider it must be true. I have made the acquaintance of His Holiness and can say that at no level whatsoever am I expected or required to ‘believe what he says is true’ without investigation or analysis nor do anything by obligation or force. It would go against the path and be considered mistaken, confused and even repugnant if I felt I ought to do something that goes against my own sense of integrity, values or logic. However, when I was in the NKT I was expected to accept mistaken ideas that Kelsang Gyatso himself said from the throne as being the truth – statements such as ‘You will not get enlightened if you disrobe!’ You must know this cannot be true as it contradicts the basic philosophy of Buddhism which states that everyone has the potential to become a Buddha. This statement was the source of much confusing debate amongst the NKT sangha that year, after Sojong at Manjushri Centre, in 2005 or 2006. I would dare to say that what you see as ‘discrimination’ is actually a desire to protect people from this kind of confusion. In other words, it means using the ‘discrimination’ of correctly assessing the dangers of a situation.

You demean Tibetans by thinking them so cowardly that they would not protest or negotiate with His Holiness if there were problems such as those you proclaim. The monastic separation happened through the wishes of Tibetans – through voting and negotiation. You show great pretension to think that you can ‘sort out’ problems that belong to Tibetans, especially when they have already been sorted and in particular when you have so many ex NKT complaining about mistreatment when in NKT hands. I do not know of any ex NKT who have left a centre with some of the NKT’s profits in their pockets, quite unlike the monks in India who had rights to monastic funds. Other Tibetan refugees are impoverished, but not the Shugdenpa monks!

You should focus on your spiritual practice if that is your main life and your wish. These issues are not as important as you think, unless you are not telling us the real reason why you are doing these demonstrations. Why are you sitting in a café in a suit and tie when you would probably much prefer to be wearing your robes? Who tells you to do this? Where are these millions of Tibetans you are saving? You know in your heart that they do not exist. No one can find them. So who are you actually doing these demonstrations for?

The Tibetans who were watching you from the steps outside the venue in Basel must be the ones you do these demonstrations for, and for your own students and NKT followers. You want to be ‘seen’ by these people; you want to offend those Tibetans who love His Holiness for many justifiable reasons. You know you cannot convince them with your banners, shouts and slogans – you do it to ‘provoke’. I think you need a proper teacher.

When you say that His Holiness is ‘wiping out this precious tradition’ you actually express your fears for your own tradition, don’t you, not Je Tsongkhapa’s at all! Trijang Rinpoche did not start a ‘tradition’ nor did Pabongkha. They were teachers of a tradition, not a tradition in themselves. And Je Tsongkhapa never needed a’ Shugden’. Do you really think your Shugden is so weak that His Holiness saying that his students should not do this practice will ruin Shugden?  Or do you think that everything your ‘tradition’ has will be ruined and lost if Shugden is not practised by a few more people? Such dependence is extraordinary! So is such craving for His Holiness’s approval!

See also

A Tibetan Translator’s Testimony by Tenzing Wangdak

GUEST POST

My Diary – The Ticking Bomb That Took 23 Years To Explode

My name is Tenzing Wangdak. I woke up at around 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning, December 17th, 2014. I was in no mood to go to work. Looking around my bedside, I saw my small computer. I picked it up to navigate through the websites on the internet. There were messages from my Facebook friends. There was one particularly interesting message. The title was “We need to talk about Shugden.” My younger brother Zoksang, who lives in Kingston, New York City, sent it to me. It was about one western Buddhist nun who tells the story of her woeful life when she was studying in the New Kadampa Tradition. She is one of those ex-students of the NKT who came out very strongly against the high level of religious fanaticism and sexual scandals prevailing in the tradition. I asked myself a question – is it the right time to tell my part of the story of the Shugden controversy?

It was way back in March 1991 when I had a face-to-face confrontation with Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. It all started with the decision taken by the FPMT of not allowing any teachers working under the spiritual direction of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to teach Buddhism at any Buddhist centre affiliated to the FPMT. In Menorca, we had a Dharma centre run under the direction of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The resident lama was Geshe Tamding Gyatso, and I was his translator at this modest centre, on this small and beautiful island of Spain. Every year we visited some Buddhist centres in other parts of Spain, mainly in Madrid, Valencia, Alicante and Seville. The FPMT run those centres. Unfortunately, they informed us that Geshe Tamding Gyatso was not allowed to teach anymore at these centres from now onwards.

Well, I thought there might be some good reason that the FPMT had for taking such a decision. Quickly, we learnt that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso had taken the drastic step of transforming the face of all his centres on the pretext of establishing and following a pure Gelugpa tradition. He removed the pictures of H.H. the Dalai Lama from Manjushri Institute, Cumbria, and from all other centres in the United Kingdom. In those days he was a Buddhist teacher highly admired by his disciples, both in England and Spain, for gentleness, simplicity, pure ethical discipline, knowledge and meditation. I thought a great meditation master would never make such a mistake. Someone who, I thought, was a role model for those who followed the model of study and practice established and guided by Lama Tsongkapa.

Photo of Kyabje Khen Tamding Gyatso Rimpoche

Photo of Kyabje Khen Tamding Gyatso Rimpoche

Here at Menorca, we learnt the true news. Geshe Tamding Gyatso, our resident teacher, was very upset. It was in the middle of November, 1990, we were at the house of the director of our centre. I said to Geshe-la that there might be some kind of misunderstanding, and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso would not make such a mistake. I even insisted he make a call to clarify the situation. At the beginning he was hesitant but decided to do so. They talked for almost one hour and we were wondering what was going on. He was not saying much. Yes, yes, here and there, nothing more. The person on the other end of the phone line was doing all the talking. After the call, Geshe Tamding Gyatso said to me; “How could he be such a ruthless sectarian?” There was a deep frown on his face. I found him really upset. The board members of our centre were nervous and very unhappy. They openly told us that the attitude of Geshe Kelsang was not justifiable, and they were thinking of having a separate Dharma centre independent of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

After a few days, we invited Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to come over to our centre to clarifying the on-going controversy of Shugden worship. At that time he was at Manjushri Institute, he accepted the invitation and decided to impart some basic Buddhist teachings during one weekend in March, the following year.

Our director was so sure of himself that the prospect of opening an independent Dharma centre under the direct spiritual direction of the resident Lama, Geshe Tamding Gyatso seemed a reality. The visit of Geshe Kelsang was drawing near and we were cleaning the centre to welcome him. The centre was in a three-storey building on the main street of Notario Quintana in Cuitadella de Menorca. Geshe Kelsang was to stay in my room. So I cleaned it up. One night I dreamt of Geshe Kelsang entering the main door of the centre and giving me a stick. I woke up in the morning with a strong feeling that something unpleasant was going to happen.

On Friday 23rd, March 1991 he visited our centre. I greeted him warmly. He reciprocated with the same customary Tibetan greeting. One Spanish nun accompanied him wherever he went. He looked thin and frail. On the same day, in evening, the centre performed the Dorjee Shugden Invocation Ritual. From September 1987 to March 1991 when the centre performed the Shugden Invocation Ritual, there were not usually more than three or four persons participating. It was always done on the 29th day of every month. That same evening, Geshe Tamding Gyatso, the resident teacher, invited Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to assist in the ceremony, but he was too tired and too weak to attend. I was on the ground floor, lying on the sofa, watching TV. I saw more and more people coming one after another to join the ritual for the first time in more than three years. Later, I could hear the sound of damarus, ringing bells and chanting in perfect harmony. I felt very sad, frustrated and helpless. There was nothing I could do to prevent them from joining the ceremony. I was completely broken inside. They were completely overwhelmed by Geshe Kelsang’s presence. After the completion of the ritual, the people returned home happily. The director saw me sullen and sulky. I had a brief conversation with him. “Well”, he said to me, “we are very happy to have you here as our translator. We want you to stay with us.” I looked straight at his face.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso commanded respect and submission. The sight of him fascinated them with awe and reverence. They idolised him the way I used to idolise some Bollywood hero when I was a teenager.

Next day, March 24th, Geshe Kelsang gave Dorjee Shugden initiation for which some new people joined to receive it. It was shocking to see people happily participating it in the hope of receiving protection from the worldly spirit in their lives. I found the arrangement manipulative in the hope of attracting more people to spread it far and wide.

On 25th/26th March, in the morning around 10 a.m., the two Geshes met in the room where Geshe Kelsang was staying. Their talk lasted for 2 hours. I was in the kitchen, and suddenly Geshe Tamding Gyatso entered to prepare momo (Tibetan dumplings) for lunch. He was not his usual self, but a bit agitated. So, I asked him, “What has happened to you?” Geshela replied, “Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was accusing me of trying to separate him from his centre. I told him frankly that I would never do such thing. It was, in fact, the board members of the centre who wanted to do it.” Geshe Kelsang continued, “If it was not you, then, most probably, it was Tenzing, the translator, who influenced them to do so, because he was from Dharamsala.” Geshe Tamding Gyatso came to my defence telling him that it was not true at all. What prompted me to meet Geshe Kelsang in his room to have a private talk was his sheer lack of respect towards a senior geshe. Geshe Tamding Gyatso was senior to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. He was an authentic geshe of the highest class, whose mastery over tantric knowledge of Shri Guhasamaja, Heruka, Yamantaka, Kalachakra and Vajra Yogini was just breath taking. All kinds of tantric rituals were at his fingertips. I saw him performing them by heart. The wrong accusation was the last straw that broke the camel´s back.

After lunch, I went straight into Geshe Kelsang´s room. I greeted him warmly and hesitantly asked him if I could have a talk with him. He called me in warmly and I sat down on the floor. He was sitting upright on the bed. So I took the initiative of breaking the ice.

“Geshela, I am not happy with the way that the Shugden empowerment was given here yesterday, because there were several new people who had never received the basic Buddhist teaching and have no idea whatsoever of the protector Dorjee Shugden. They received the Empowerment. I think it is against the basic guideline of Tibetan Buddhism.” My explanation provoked a strong anger in him. He angrily replied, “Tenzing, it is not your business.” He repeated the phrase several times. Then he continued, “the work of a translator is to translate and nothing more, and the work of a resident teacher is to teach, nothing more. It is the board members who run the centre.” He continued, “Yesterday, the board members came up here to tell me that, not only you hate Dorjee shugden, you also hate me?” I was bewildered, could not believe my ears. However, I kept my cool and answered him firmly, “It is a sheer lie, and how could I hate Dorjee Shugden when I don´t know him. I continued saying, “I have never hated you. Had I hated you I would have never read your books and manuscripts!” I looked up at him and saw him seething with sheer anger, taking in a deep breath, and looking up at the ceiling. Suddenly he looked down and questioned me defiantly, “I want to test your skill in the art of debate, for you have studied Buddhist philosophy for many years. “Is Kyabje Trijang Dorjeechang a root spiritual teacher of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama?” I replied, ”He, indeed, is one of them.” Kelsang Gyatso continued, “If he is one of the root teachers, how could Dalai Lama possibly go against the words of his own teacher?” At this point, he went ballistic and yelled, “He cannot go against his own teacher´s words. When we do Dorjee Shugden practice we are doing a favour to the Dalai Lama. We do not bring disgrace to him.” He then kept silence for a moment and came out with more aggressive, cold and calculated comments.

“He (the Dalai Lama) is Nyingmapa, Zogchenpa, and the one who has broken the spiritual relationship between himself and his teacher. His lineage is impure.” At this stage of the conversation I found the atmosphere in the room unbearable. I felt unsettled. Anyhow, I kept cool and retaliated with the following answer, “If a disciple can not comply with the words of his lama, he can tell this politely to his teacher.” I cited the 24th stanza from the text of Ashavagosha, Fifty stanzas of Guru yoga”.

Intelligent disciple, with joyful mind,
Listen the lama’s words with enthusiasm.
Explain to him in words
If you can´t comply with it.

For a moment, silence reigned in the room and I took the opportunity to end the conversation with the following comforting words.

“I am an ordinary monk who works as a Dharma translator and you are a Dharma teacher. So, there is no comparison whatsoever. We do have very distinct viewpoints with regard to Shugden issue. You think you are always right, and I think I am right. But, who knows who is right? I follow H.H. the Dalai Lama. I, therefore, will leave the centre for good. You find a good Dharma translator for Geshela, someone who propitiates Dorjee Shugden. The voice within me says that I am right, not wrong. Excuse me if I am wrong.” He was completely taken aback by my final words. He kept silent meanwhile I went out of the room.

He realized that I could not be pushed over easily. I kept my cool under the most difficult situation. At the end of the day, I found him callous, ruthless, devious, obstinate and unyielding. Indeed, he was a hard nut to crack.

After the summer, 1991, I left the centre. In Menorca, life was easy and comfortable. I enjoyed summer life on beautiful beaches for three years with my Spanish friends. However, I decided to leave the centre. I worked there for more than three years without any payment. I had nothing to lose and more to gain from such a decision. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the risk to find a better future life.

I used to admire Geshe Kelsang. At one stage of my life I thought he was a role model for many Buddhist practitioners. Unfortunately, he turns out to be one of the worst Buddhist fundamentalists the Buddhist world has seen in many years. He has completely forgotten the life of Lama Tsongkapa who studied under the great masters of other schools. My teacher, Gen Lobsang Gyatso, was completely right when he said to me in 1986, “It is ironic that when you meet Kelsang Gyatso for the first time, he appears be a gentle, soft, and simple monk. He gives you the impression of someone who is on the verge of attaining Buddhahood in two or three days, but, he is rotten from inside in real life.”

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was once considered a great meditation master, but now he is outcast officially not only from his own monastery of Sera Je, but also from the Gelukpa Society. At present, he is lying low, but still he is using his students to defame the Dalai Lama at all costs. He accuses the Dalai Lama of the violation of Human Rights, but he is blind to his own act of destroying lives of NKT survivors. He accuses the Dalai Lama of banning religious freedom but he prohibits people from reading Dharma books of fellow Buddhist teachers. How dare he say that he is following the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa, while not allowing his own students to read Lama Tsongkapa’s books! I was flabbergasted to realize that there were no Dharma books other than his own books in the bookstores of his centres.

He says that the Shugden is Lama Tsongkapa’s manifestation, when more than 95% of Tibetan Buddhists consider him as a terrifying worldly spirit. He, in fact, degrades Tsongkapa to the status of a worldly deity. What a shame!

His long, reclusive life has taken a mental toll on him. He has gone insane to the point of no return. His hatred and resentment towards the Dalai Lama is clearly reflected on the banners and the placards written with “21st century Buddhist Dictator”, a “liar”, “the saffron robed Muslim”, a man whose “real nature is cruel and very evil”, etc.

It was in January, 1993, one year and a half after I left their dharma centre, when Geshe Kelsang Gyatso revisited it and carried out the so-called “Lineage cleansing”. He threw out some old members of the centre, who were his fervent admirers and Dorjee Shugden worshippers, without obvious reason.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso once said that Geshe Tamding Gyatso was the most qualified dharma teacher to come to the west. This time, he gave him no choice but to leave the centre. Geshe Kunchok Tsewang, then resident teacher at Manjushri Institute, retired at the age of 68 without choice. They sent him back to his monastery in South India. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is now 83 years old, but still holds a firm grip on all the centres of NKT. He does not want to renounce the absolute power he enjoys. What I find so unbelievable is that a man who is considered “the third Buddha” by his own followers is not spared from the unholy trinity of power, status and wealth.

The big difference between the two geshes is that Geshe Tamding Gyatso went on to become the abbot of Ganden Shartse Monastery, thus fulfilling his lifelong dream before his death, whereas Geshe Kelsang Gyatso remains a monastic outcast of Gelugpa Society.

The devil inside him makes his Dharma
Practice dust
Resentment flows deep in his blood,
Nipping the bud of empathy in his heart.
Ignorance obscures his mind completely
His frenzied mind runs like a wild elephant
His ego fills up like a balloon
That is sure to burst.
His behaviours do not match his preaching.
Hence, his books are worthless scrap of paper.
I feel sorry for him.

I write this testimony to fully support the NKT survivors who have taken the right decision to break away from the NKT. One of my Tibetan friends insisted that I do this. Personally, I have nothing against Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. His attitude and behaviour in the recent years are so intolerable for Tibetans that I take the opportunity to tell the truth. The people of the NKT need to take the blindfolds off their eyes and see the wider world of Buddhism. It is high time for them to stop running the ugly show of protest and come to their senses. Geshe Kelsang needs to recover from his spiritual madness. He can still rectify his mistakes and leave them behind as if they were a terrible nightmare. It is not surprising that a human being makes mistakes – one after another. Man is the only animal who trips over the same stone twice. After all, we are emotional creatures.

By Tenzing Wangdak.

20th January 2015

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Originally posted

More Testimonies

Buddhist Bullshit

Originally posted on Post-Traditional Buddhism:

I generally avoid getting political on this blog. Not because I am apolitical, or think it too messy a subject to broach, but because I have used this blog primarily as an exercise in exploring ideas and experiences I personally find curious and interesting. It’s been a primarily personal affair.
Although I have been attempting to write a blog post on non-duality this December, I have failed three times and the pleasure in the task has evaporated, which is never a good sign. In wondering what to write next, I was surfing the net on Boxing Day and came across a couple of videos by ex-members of a Western Buddhist organisation of which I was a solid member for a number of years, even once considering ordination (yikes!). The organisation is called the NKT (New Kadampa Tradition) and is to be found on many cult-watch websites.
I was involved with…

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Is there a relation between self-immolations and Buddhism or even martyrdom and Buddhism?

Buddha-extreme-ascetic-practicesYou might have noted that there a lot of views if the self-immolations of Tibetans and Buddhists in other countries are in line with Buddhism / Buddhist scriptures or not. The Tibetan writer and activist Jamyang Norbu claimed they are. The Dalai Lama has never approved them as being Buddhist in principle but once was very outspoken when Thubten Ngodrup burned himself and when the Tibetan Youth Congress set up a hunger protest in 1998. (These issues were covered already by this blog, see links below.)

I made an interview with Thierry Dodin to clarify many tricky points of this debate and now the interview in three parts is online. For a discussion of Buddhism, self-immolations. martyrdom and self-secrifice see Part II:

Part I:

Part III:

Former posts and discussions on this blog about this very sad and tragic topic see here:

Interview about Self-immolations of Tibetans in three parts & 2014 in review

I have around 5 to 7 days online access in India and can make you aware of a new interview with Thierry Dodin about the self-immolations of Tibetans. Part one deals with the question, why Tibetans are doing this:

Part two will investigate if there is a relation between self-immolations and Buddhism and the third part will analyse the reactions by Tibetans, Chinese and consequences. The upcoming links under which the last two parts of the interview will be posted are:

Note that this blog has already posts and discussions about this very sad and tragic topic:

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You might be curious about the stats of the blog, here they are. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 8 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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

Addendum

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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Note by blog owner

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

GUEST POST

@ 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:

segregation
noun
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)

BOOKS WRITTEN FROM TEXTS: 1986 – 1997

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)

SHORTENED VERSIONS OF THE ABOVE: 1997- 2014

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]

Foonotes

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

[2] Now called Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre.

[3] http://www.newkadampatruth.org/a-moral-discipline-guide-the-internal-rules-of-the-new-kadampa-tradition-international-kadampa-buddhist-union

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. http://www.nktworld.org/nixed.html

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

[6] Personal account

Chart

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.

Source www.info-buddhism.com

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