The 14th Dalai Lama met with the Sarin gas murder Shoko Asahara – Take a Closer Look!

I found out today that Tricycle magazine has kindly put an important and thought provoking interview in that context online. Lawrence Shainberg interviewed academic expert Robert Jay Lifton in From Mysticism to Murder on Aum Shinri Kyo.

Dalai Lama and Shoko Asahara What does this really say, that they met?

Dalai Lama and Shoko Asahara
What does this really say, that they met?

The interview puts the meetings of Shoko Asahara with the Dalai Lama into context. However, the whole interview is worth to be read and to be reflected upon – not just only the passage that deals with the meetings of Shoko Asahara and the Dalai Lama – because it shows the dangers of gradually growing fundamentalism / dogmatism / totalitarism in a group; especially when there is a guru who abuses the guru-teacher relationship in order to gain total control over his devotees.

Read the interview …

A must read in that context is Robert Jay Lifton’s Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism.

See also

How ‘Kadampa Buddhists’ (NKT) Use Systematic Fraud to Manipulate Twitter Trend Statistics

Guest Post by Linda Ciardiello

It is only when our appointed activities seem by a lucky accident to obey the particular earnestness of our temperament that we can taste the comfort of complete self-deception. – Joseph Conrad

The New Kadampa Tradition’s (NKT) misinformed war of hate on the Dalai Lama is being waged increasingly via social media – and often with blatant disregard for ethical and moral principles. Lately they have been boasting success on Twitter in managing to get their hashtag “#DalaiLamaStopLying” high in the charts of worldwide Twitter trends, giving a false semblance that they are garnering wide, grass-roots support for their spurious cause. According to “Atishas Cook”, the latest “Tweetstorm” they orchestrated saw them manage to register 40,000 Tweets in one hour. Without a hint of shame or irony, they state that by these two-hour timeslots of concentrated Twitter blitzing they are, in fact, just “cooking up” a Tweetstorm, blithely ignoring the dishonest implications in the term “cooking up”. For the truth is that these Tweetstorms are faked and their world-wide, high trending rankings are rigged. In this article we will show you how just a few dozen NKT devotees can easily manage to pull off 40,000 Tweets in an hour.

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It is both alarming and sad to witness the extent to which compassionate people who were drawn to the NKT with sincere, positive motivation, permit themselves to become increasingly sneaky and deceitful in the name of promulgating the truth and the path to enlightenment for all. Similar to any other religious or political extremist group, for whom the doctrine of the-ends-justify-the-means has become the supreme maxim, all manner of non-virtuous and unethical behaviour is justified by the dangerous and erroneous presumption that all that matters is their intention. The NKT’s use of trickery and deception to pull the wool over benighted eyes in the name of the supposed higher cause of their “virtuous intention” is deplorable because, in practice, it encourages a fundamental disrespect and superior attitude toward those for whom it claims feelings of compassion, and a manipulative, controlling attitude towards those it claims to liberate. Worse still, as they bask in Conrad’s “comfort of complete self-deception”, they fail to understand that far from being protected by their good intentions, they are tragically going astray.

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Not only do they show no shame for the dishonesty and trickery they use to get their hashtag trending high in world-wide Twitter charts, such is their total self-deception that they think this dishonest spamming fakery constitutes meritorious action – when the Tweetstorm is over they pat each other on the back, reminding each other: “don’t forget to dedicate your merit”. Indeed, as “Atishas Cook” glories in the success of their giant con- trickhe declares that he is “so proud of my Sangha I could cry.” He is oblivious to the inherent dissonance of a supposed Buddhist taking pride in his Sangha’s skilful scamming and the seeming success of a dedicatedly unethical campaign.

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So what is this Tweetdeck that Lyn et al are trying to master? It allows you to schedule Tweets and you can operate more than one Tweetdeck with several accounts. Twitter limit the amount of Tweets you can send from one account to about 300 in one hour, so in order to get round this limit the NKT devotees set up loads of fake accounts and use Tweetdeck to upload all the Tweets at once.

Here’s NKT tweeters Jan and Steven giving some top tips on setting up multiple accounts without being found out, “even if it’s a fourth, fifth, hundredth account”:

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Stephen comes up with yet another cunning plan, for setting up false accounts for spamming, one that can’t be easily detected.  He advises some NKT tweeters to follow the example of Indyhack, who is “having more success than anyone else because he is seen as an unbiased, independent news source”. The key words here are “seen as”. It may come as a surprise to Stephen, but it’s likely that most people would not consider Indyhack anything of the sort: it is in fact plain as day to even the moderately informed, that he is nothing but a deceptive NKT propagandist, masquerading as an independent journalist.

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Indyhack himself inadvertently revealed that he is quite a “Pro” at running these sorts of multiple accounts on Twitter “for hate speech”, without being caught, as hewas giving me “Pro-Tips” on Twitter on how to cover your tracks while you do it:

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Such is the skill of this multiple account “Pro” we could justifiably deduce that of his 1700 or so Twitter followers, the majority of them are none other than Indyhack himself, in the guise of hundreds of fake accounts that such a skilful “Pro” as Indyhack could operate standing on his head:

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Joel and Kevin, two more dedicated NKT Tweeps, are comparing notes on the amount of Twitter accounts and Tweetdecks they can operate at once:

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TwitterNKT

Let’s do some math here:  If Joel does manage to operate 17 accounts with 3 Tweetdecks as he claims he can do, that means he alone could produce 17 x 300 = 5,100 Tweets in 1 hour. When you see the strategies these tech-savvy tweeters deploy it actually starts to make the 40,000 Tweets they manage in one hour look rather paltry!

Another very useful tool they have at their disposal is Hootsuite, where they can bulk upload scores of pre-written Tweets in various languages courtesy of the technical wizardry of NKT devotee Maximo:

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Here’s Maximo explaining how to use all the tools he’s providing to “crush” the Dalai Lama on the net to Kelsang Chogma, who’s not been well lately (seems she’s a tad overwhelmed by all the fake accounts she has set up for herself). In parenthesis, he also reveals that it is Diane who is the chief creative genius behind the appearance of all those deceptive, violently disrespectful memes that the NKT love to circulate.

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Yet their “success” is not all down to Maximo and his dedicated band of followers, it’s a “group effort” after all:

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However, perhaps the NKT’s glory days on Twitter are coming to an end. RoundTeam, a Twitter content management platform, has been watching and investigating and has clamped down on some of the NKT multiple fake accounts.

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Furthermore, their latest TweetStorm failed to make the Twitter trending charts despite the record number of Tweets they generated. Has Twitter uncovered the various, fraudulent means they use to flood them with their hashtag spam?

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Totally oblivious to the irony of their complaints about foul play on Twitter, Kelly and Peter bemoan their non-appearance in the Twitter trending charts and accuse the Dalai Lama himself for this outcome, through corruption! It’s called “projection” Kelly, or “the pot calling the kettle black”, Peter. So if you’re one of these NKT fake tweeters, it is not the Dalai Lama who is up to crookery and dirty tricks on Twitter – it is you, it is all of you.

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See also

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

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.

The story of a New Kadampa Tradition monk or How I got sucked into a cult

My name is Tenzin Peljor / Michael Jäckel. I was 29 when I met the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) in December 1995. At that time the general public didn’t know about any controversy relating to the NKT or how people have been damaged by the NKT. No Buddhist informed or warned any person interested in Buddhism to carefully consider whether they should develop their interest in Buddhism by placing their faith in the NKT. Here is a summary of my story.

Enlightenment by 21 Lamrim meditations! – What a marketing!

Enlightenment by 21 Lamrim meditations! – What a marketing!

I wanted to become a Buddhist monk after reading about the Four Noble Truths. Even in my childhood I wished to become a monk (though back then, a Christian one). Looking for a place where I could become a Buddhist monk, I learned about the New Kadampa Tradition through Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s book, »The Meditation Handbook«, and the posters and advertisements of the NKT.

My NKT teacher, who was the NKT representative in my country, convinced me to move into the NKT center and to pay rent – about three times as much for a small room as I had paid for a whole apartment. When I complained, she said, “You should think about how much you value following this path.”

Moving into the NKT center, I had some Dharma books, including a Dzogchen book and one from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When the teacher saw me with these books she said, “We only study pure Dharma books here,” looking displeasingly on my two non-NKT Dharma books. Shortly after this episode, she showed me Geshe-la’s books, saying “These are pure Dharma books!” Then I heard about the dangers of mixing ‘pure Dharma’ with ‘impure Dharma’, as Geshe Kelsang puts it.

The ugly, unfortunate result of not understanding pure Dharma and of following misleading teachings that pretend to be pure Dharma is sectarianism. This is one of the greatest hindrances to the flourishing of Dharma, especially in the West. Anything that gives rise to such an evil, destructive mind should be eliminated as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. (Clear Light of Bliss, 1982, page 154).

Assuming this to be true I threw these and my other Dharma texts into the garbage because I now feared that I might destroy pure Dharma by mixing it and thereby ‘harming countless living beings’ – doing evil. Subsequently, I did not read any Dharma book other than Geshe-la’s because I feared polluting my mind and destroying “this pure tradition”.

Later, I learned that I needed faith, and that doubt is the opposite of faith and very bad. It was explained to me that there are three kinds of doubt, but it was especially made clear that doubting Geshe-la, his teachings or NKT teachers is “doubt going in the wrong direction.”

When I studied Geshe-la’s book »Understanding the Mind«, I became even more convinced that I had acted correctly in throwing my previous Dharma books in the garbage, because on pp. 166–167 Geshe-la states,

It is mixing different religious traditions that causes sectarianism … studying non-religious subjects is less of an obstacle to our spiritual progress than studying religions of different traditions … the practices taught by one teacher will differ from those taught by another, and if we try to combine them we will become confused, develop doubts, and lose direction.

I didn’t want to loose direction or get confused. He was the master, he knew. My NKT teacher told me that we all are deluded beings and our analyses, thoughts and perceptions are not reliable: “Buddha says, we are not only wrong, he says we are totally wrong”.

The next things I learned were: Geshe-la is a Buddha, Geshe-la is completely reliable and knows the three times (present, past and future), and my NKT teacher is no different from him. If I see faults in them this is due to my impure mind, because Buddhas – unlike myself who is a deluded being whose perception is not reliable – don’t see faults, they have “pure view”.

Three years after I left the NKT in 2000. Losang Tashi was my monks name at that time.

Three years after I left the NKT in 2000. Losang Tashi was my monk’s name at that time.

The next step for me was that I was asked to lend my computer to the NKT office. When I asked for it back (to do my final university exams), I was told that I had donated the computer and I must be confused about what I had said. My NKT teacher explained to me, “Sometimes we do not remember what we say, you know …” It was explained to me that this academic study is worldly and unnecessary, a distraction from pure Dharma. Eventually, my NKT teacher and her most devoted students convinced me of this and I gave up the idea of finishing my academic study by doing my final exams. There is no need for an academic degree I thought. When I worried about it they told me I should not think too much, saying “Leave the thinking to the horses, they have a bigger head.”

I was asked to give a loan. I gave them all my savings and later when I asked for it back they said I should be patient. They made me feel that I was addicted to my money and that it was inappropriate to ask for it back. Likewise, my cupboard and another person’s couch were also taken. This other person was told he were addicted to his couch; therefore, he may be reborn as a tiny insect in that couch in the future.

The NKT center was gradually “inspiring” me to do more and more unpaid work for them (in order to ‘accumulate merit which we need for our spiritual progress’) and at the same time complained that I was away too often from the NKT centre as I had a mundane job in a private school: “You are too samsaric”, they said. Nonetheless I was giving them about 90% of my earnings.

Due to the gradual shift to do more and more unpaid work for the NKT and doing lesser mundane work from which I could make a living I could no longer pay the high rent the NKT centre demanded from me. Only one day after the date I should have paid my high rent they complained about my behaviour. They warned me about how much negative Karma I had created by not paying my rent on time. They denied that it was possible to balance it with their debts to me, “This is something very different, you should not even think like this.” They suggested that I should ask my friends to help me and to give me money. I did this; I asked a medical doctor who was a friend and she gave me the money. I didn’t get my savings back; so finally I decide to “donate” them.

I observed a similar pattern with all other NKT monks and nuns: finally, all of their savings, time and energy were taken over.

When I visited the NKT festivals in UK, we were told that we should have faith in our teachers, they are good teachers, and properly qualified. Later I found out that my NKT teacher had studied for only two years within NKT and that my NKT ordination was not an authentic monk’s ordination. A friend who complained about our NKT teacher to Geshe Kelsang was told, “If you would have Bodhichitta (a pure mind) you would see the Bodhichitta in your NKT teacher.” So of course my friend was wrong, he had no pure Bodhichitta, no pure mind, therefore he saw faults in his NKT teachers.

I didn’t want to receive the Highest Yoga Tantra initiation, but I had received so much pressure (manipulation) from my NKT teacher and the group that I took it. Afterwards, I was told that Geshe-la was now my root guru, and that if you leave your root guru you will be reborn in hell, all of your realizations will be lost and in all your future lives you will be without a qualified teacher.

Step by step, I was sucked into the system of NKT until I was quite brainwashed, deceiving myself and others. All of us were only worried about gaining “realizations” by being devoted to Geshe-la and doing what he says and giving our money, time and energy to the NKT to accumulate merit for ourselves (+ “inspiring” new followers of NKT to do it likewise), because without merit there would be no spiritual progress and no realizations.

This is me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the <a href="http://info-buddhism.com/new_kadampa_tradition.html" target="_blank">New Kadampa Tradition</a> under the front group <a href="http://info-buddhism.com/dorje_shugden_controversy.html#The_Conflict_in_the_West" target="_blank">Shugden Supporters Community</a> (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998. The Slogans were created by Kelsang Gyatso and state for instance "Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas. Please don’t lie." or "Dalai Lama please grand us religious freedom."

This is me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the New Kadampa Tradition under the front group Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998. The Slogans were created by Kelsang Gyatso and state for instance “Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas. Please don’t lie.” or “Dalai Lama, please grant us religious freedom.”

I learned also that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was possessed by a Mara (evil spirit) and was destroying the pure Buddhadharma and had broken with his root guru (implying that he will most certainly go to hell for this) and forcing others to do likewise. So, all of us, including myself, organized international protests against the Dalai Lama from 1996-1998. The NKT convinced me that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was so completely evil that I started to hate him and to also convince all the people I met how bad the Dalai Lama was. Another nun in deep despair, shedding tears confessed to me how much she hated His Holiness; another nun shredded her picture of the Dalai Lama. The protests became very aggressive and hostile; I felt very uncomfortable.

I learned that the last pure being on earth is Geshe-la and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an evil oppressor of religious freedom. I learned in NKT that the Dalai Lama is merely a worldly politician and is destroying the pure tradition of his root guru, Trijang Rinpoche.

Finally, I woke up, realising how one-sided Geshe-la’s claims were when he pointed out that the reason for some wrong developments within NKT was another person. Geshe-la completely blamed this person alone while stating that he (Geshe-la) had not done anything wrong and that NKT had not done anything wrong. I realized that this is not the Dharma and that my teacher’s and Geshe-la’s approach was not consistent with Buddhist teachings (for example, the Four Noble Truths) because delusions are the cause of suffering and things are interdependent / dependent arising and appear due to many causes and conditions and not due to a single cause. It is impossible to blame a single person for a conflict. I finally realized that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is not a Buddhist master because he hasn’t understood even the basics (dependent arising, patience, kindness and modesty), and I became determined to leave him.

Later, I recognized that I was not the only person who had such experiences; they seemed to be symptomatic and systemic for people in the NKT (Experiences of other NKT monks appear elsewhere on this website).

My NKT experience was like eating a sweet but poisoned fruit. The taste was sweet in the beginning; there were good times and good things I learned. Later, the poison started to ruin me.

Art work by Carol McQuire – A NKT Survivor

Art work by Carol McQuire – NKT Survivor

I expect that NKT will use their common strategy to blame the monk reporting here as mentally unhealthy or emotionally unstable or something similar (e.g. “disgruntled ex-member”) – as they have done so often in the past.

Nevertheless, I wish to express my gratitude to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and NKT. I learned a lot and I do not want to forget my positive experiences. Actually, in the end, my negative experiences turned into something good by my learning from my faults and those of Geshe-la and NKT – a great teaching that I will treasure. However, I would be happy if others could avoid stepping into such a devastating situation, which I see as a spiritual trap.

May His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the one who really cares for the welfare of migrating beings, have a very long life and may all his prayers and holy deeds be fulfilled.

May Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his students of past, present and future attain the state of full enlightenment, may they have faith in the Three Jewels, follow genuine teachers and rejoice in the ten virtuous actions.

Written around the year 2006 or at the time when the New Kadampa Survivors Forum was set up.

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See also

Update

New Political Force of Tibetans and an amazing result: 14th World Peace Summit now in Rome

To make you aware of a new, successful Tibetan political group, I would like to introduce briefly the Tibetan National Congress (TNC) and a very successful move they made. The TNC describes themselves on Facebook:

The TNC is a political freedom movement established as a democratic, non-sectarian, non-regional, pan Tibetan movement that seeks to pursue the ultimate goal of restoring a sovereign and independent Tibetan nation state.

victorySouth Africa rejected the entry of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a Nobel peace prize winners’ summit; giving in to the pressure and bullying of China. The TNC has successfully relocated the Nobel Peace Summit to Rome.

The Tibetan Political Review states (Nov 20, 2014):

The 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates was scheduled to convene in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2014, but was later cancelled following several Nobel Peace laureates pulling out of the event after the South African government succumbed to pressure from China to deny a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Summit will be now moved to Rome from December 12 to 14, 2014. where it was first hosted and then seven times after; Rome where the Secretariat’s office is based. The Permanent Secretariat of Nobel Peace laureates summit is yet to make a formal announcement. But a formal invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is an honorary citizen of Rome, has been accepted. Read more …

The New York Times’s Sinosphere Blog describes the pressure from China onto South Africa (October 6, 2014):

The Chinese government has been on something of a tear lately in its effort to compel governments to shun the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. In recent years, pressure from Beijing has convinced political leaders in countries like Norway and Britain to snub him, at least in venues associated with visiting dignitaries.

But a decision by South Africa to deny the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a gathering of former Nobel laureates in Cape Town appears to have backfired in a way that is drawing increased scrutiny to China’s heavy-handed tactics.

Last week, South Africa was forced to cancel the 14th World Peace Summit, which had been scheduled to start Oct. 13, after nine former peace prize winners and 11 affiliated organizations announced they would boycott the conference. The event was billed as the largest gathering of Nobel laureates and was to be dedicated to Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader who was also a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. South Africa would have been the first African country to host the event. Read more …

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The TNC also made a petition in which they ask the authorities of Rome to ensure that any anti-Dalai Lama protesters in Rome be kept at a safe distance from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will attend the relocated 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome on December 12-14, 2014. You can sign the petition here:

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)

Shugden and the New Kadampa Tradition: Fear of Ghosts

GUEST POST by Carol McQuire

Fear of ghosts

I’ve been thinking lately that the problem with ‘Shugden’ is that he makes people frightened. And people are frightened of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). In the UK people are frightened of ‘talking up’ about their experiences. People fear the ‘injustice’ and ‘lies’ of the NKT. But that’s the myth and that’s our main function – by ‘talking’ we can stop the fear. There is no need to fear the truth. And what is the truth? The truth is that the NKT ‘harass’ for their ‘Shugden’ with exaggeration and hype, with the deceptive techniques of a bad politician. And they are unkind. Institutionally unkind. We have the data.

And the reality? ‘Shugden’ will destroy the NKT! Catch 22 – they need him, they depend on him, but their need will destroy them.

I’ll explain.

In 2012 in Manchester, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was joking about the Chinese practising Shugden: it’s ‘their problem’, he said, as he’s ‘warned them’. And he laughed and laughed. We need to laugh and laugh. The NKT have been warned too!

The NKT wears the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ of being ‘pure Dharma’ – it’s a hoax. A mirage. Their ‘Shugden’ has stopped them looking beyond their own noses …

In a superb twist, ‘Shugden’ will destroy the NKT because the NKT aren’t giving ‘pure Dharma’ at all – it’s all contaminated with the ‘business model’, the franchise, the ‘worldly success’ that Shugden is well known for in the Tibetan world. What is the ‘heart’ of Tibetan Buddhism and the ‘lineage’? It’s the warmth and wisdom of the teacher. But there is no teacher at the heart of the NKT. He left them years ago. This is why they scream so loudly, so that he might hear. The taboo. He can’t and won’t hear them. But His Holiness does. How ironic!

Their ‘Shugden’ will destroy them, all by himself, using precisely what attracted them to him – ‘worldly’ desires – the ‘quick’ path to ‘bliss’ – the grand and ‘special’ tradition that expands and expands, limitlessly. The more the Shugdens demon-strate (joyfully!), the more they ‘grasp’ at him. The more they ‘grasp’, the more their own ‘Shugden’ will eat them up. It’s the opposite to a ‘true path’. You can see them getting more and more extreme, and weakening – watch the last few ISC videos. All tangled up by Shugden. Lost logic.

We need to understand and remember this. The NKT Shugden followers who ‘protect’ him will be ruined by him.

I quote from Tenzin’s blog:

In Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors,

‘About the violence Shugden brings to other sentient beings Trijang Rinpoche states’ (p. 121–122):

“Furthermore, whether they were lords of Tibet, great lamas who held the political power of the throne, lamas and tulkus, great or small, with illustrious lines of incarnation, holy beings rich in scriptural and realized qualities, high lords of vast lands and works, those haughty with pride of family lineage, dominion and wealth, any who hypocritically claimed to be followers of Protector Manjusri Tsongkhapa’s Teachings while remaining unsatisfied with Je Lama’s precious Teachings of Sutra and Tantra which, in terms of view, meditation, and action, need not crave more from any other tradition, and, instead, mixed, polluted, or confused them with other modes of view and practice, whether lay or ordained, regardless of status, there have been many who have met with unpleasant wrathful punishments, such as being punished by authorities, litigation and legal disputes, untimely death, and so forth. Such swift, decisive signs appear to direct perception. Here praise is offered to that manifestation as a great wrathful protector who raises the Yellow Hat Teachings to the heights of the heavens.”

Tenzin states: “This mundane harmful spirit is, according to Trijang Rinpoche, an emanation of Manjushri who emanated for the special purpose (p. 9) of protecting the purity of Tsongkhapa’s tradition” …

Let’s ‘translate’ this writing by Trijang Rinpoche, making it relevant to the current situation:

Furthermore, whether they were lords of the international world, great lamas who influenced the political power of governments, lamas and tulkus, great or small, with illustrious lines of incarnation, holy beings rich in scriptural and realized qualities, high lords of vast lands and works, those haughty with pride of family lineage, property and wealth, any who hypocritically claimed to be followers of Protector Manjusri Tsongkhapa’s Teachings while remaining unsatisfied with Je Lama’s precious Teachings of Sutra and Tantra which, in terms of view, meditation, and action, need not crave more from any other tradition, and, instead, edited, ignored or confused them with other modes of view and practice, such as business and real estate,  whether lay or ordained, regardless of status, there have been many who have met with unpleasant wrathful punishments, such as being punished by authorities, litigation and legal disputes, untimely death, and so forth. Such swift, decisive signs appear to direct perception. Here praise is offered to that manifestation as a great wrathful protector who raises the Yellow Hat Teachings to the heights of the heavens.

That’s what Trijang got wrong – ultimately it’s not the ‘others’ that get harmed – it’s the narrow minded Shugden fanatics that get destroyed by him. They ‘lose’ what they most crave – their teacher. Shugden blindness ignores Je Tsongkhapa’s non sectarian legacy, his intellectual breadth and ignores his kindness. NKT ‘Shugden’ practitioners aren’t actually allowed access to Je Tsongkhapa’s works – if they encountered the real magic of Je Tsongkhapa’s writings the NKT ‘illusion’ would start to unravel.

We need to ‘see’ this clearly – the NKT have done nothing except create problems for themselves; hundreds of ‘survivors’, hundreds of people who have suffered and suffer, while His Holiness the Dalai Lama is stronger than ever, solid in his practice and his wisdom, confident in his compassion. The weight of karma will fall upon the NKT in the guise of the ‘Shugden’ they follow; empty of compassion, a false prophet for the age of commerce, doomed to fail. It’s just a case of when – remember, he’s only a ghost. An annoying, noisy ghost!

Remember to laugh, they have been warned!

Carol McQuire, New Kadampa Survivors

New Distortions: Robert Barnett rejects claims by International Shugden Community (ISC)

The ISC site “AreBuddhistsRacist.com” – another domain by proxy site run by NKT’s ISC, and a spin machine of “IndyHack” – was very active in the past days to issue more distortions and spin of the facts. Among others they claim about Robert Barnett (Columbia University, NY):

Dr. Robert Barnett

Dr. Barnett is the founder and director of Columbia’s Modern Tibet Studies Program, which is part of their Weatherhead East Asian Institute. It is the only program in the West dedicated to Modern Tibetan Studies and he is the only researcher in that field who focuses on contemporary politics. In this respect he is possibly the most qualified academic in the west to be able to comment on the existence or non-existence of the ban on Dorje Shugden.

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. In his address to me he stated:

“As you know, the exile authorities do not accept that there is a ban on Dorje Shugden practice…and does not accept that there is discrimination towards Dorje Shugden practitioners within the exile community…my view is the opposite on both these questions.”

This was the first time I had encountered an academic with such close ties to the leaders of the Tibetan exile community being so outspoken. Yet here he was confirming categorically, without any doubt, that in his professional opinion there is a ban and there is discrimination.

Whilst he is known to disagree with the protesters on their other claims regarding the qualifications of the Dalai Lama, he agrees with them on the most fundamental and key aspect of the controversy – the ban and subsequent discrimination exists.

Robert Barnett states on his Facebook account:

Certain members of the pro-Shugden campaign against the Dalai Lama, in particular an anonymous site named “arebuddhistsracist.com”, have circulated a comment attributed to me. It was taken from a private letter, without permission, and expressly against my wishes. It was deliberately presented out of context and gave a highly misleading impression of the situation. Those involved have so far refused to issue a retraction or a clarification and do not allow comments on the relevant website. I am therefore providing that context here.

The current Shugden campaign in the West has three main demands. One concerns their claim that the Dalai Lama’s rulings about certain religious practices within Tibetan Buddhism are an abuse of religious freedom. While the Dalai Lama’s rulings are certainly open to theological debate and disagreement, it is normal and useful for religious leaders to issue rulings to their immediate followers about what they consider safe or appropriate practices. As such, issuing a religious ruling is not a question of human rights or an abuse.

The second allegation claims that the ruling or its effects have been imposed on those who are not immediate followers of the Dalai Lama. This is a human rights issue and relates to some reports of discrimination within the exile community. This question merits further assessment by the community, as well as appropriate efforts within the community to stem any discriminatory practices.

The third allegation, which is the most prominent one in the literature distributed by the campaign, asserts that the Dalai Lama is “false”, is “the worst dictator in the world”, and is in fact a Muslim. The Shugden campaigners’ explanation for this claim can be found at http://www.westernshugdensociety.org/…/the-false-dalai-lama/. This allegation has little or no historical or factual foundation, has no connection whatsoever to human rights issues, and is morally repugnant and offensive. In addition, it is of absolutely no relevance to western Shugden practitioners or to practitioners of their religion, since they do not follow the Dalai Lama. Instead, it represents a decision by them and their leaders to revive an earlier legacy of extreme and aggressive sectarianism within Tibetan history, which is associated with the promotion of acute division, bitterness, and violence. This aspect of the Shugden campaign is certain to provoke conflict and enmity within the Tibetan community, and most observers will understandably conclude that it was and is designed to do so.

Taken together, the Shugden campaign therefore appears to be deeply involved with aggressive sectarian politics. Its methods and literature in large part reflect that involvement, despite its other stated concerns. In my view, its claims concerning human rights issues and other matters should be understood within this context.

Robert Barnett
Nov 6 2014

As a reminder with respect to the campaigners’ credibility, Robbie Barnett, “possibly the most qualified academic in the west to be able to comment”, stated in 2008 to the Time Magazine:

I also made it clear that the Western Shugden group’s allegations are problematic: they are akin to attacking the Pope because some lay Catholics somewhere abuse non-believers or heretics. The Western Shugden Group is severely lacking in credibility, since its form of spirit-worship is heterodox, provocative and highly sectarian in Buddhist terms and so more than likely to be banned from mainstream monasteries – while its claimed concerns about cases of discrimination in India should be addressed by working within the Tibetan community instead of opportunistically attacking the Dalai Lama in order to provoke misinformed publicity for their sect. (PDF)

Robert Barnett said recently to PRI’s The World in “Breakaway Buddhists take aim at the Dalai Lama” that Shugden practitioners in the Tibetan exile community have faced “persecution” (without specifying what type of persecution he is referring to; nobody is arrested, tortured, killed etc., and Tibetans live in India under the justification of India),* According to The World Barnett also said that the Dalai Lama’s administration hasn’t dealt with that very well. But this is no agreement to the protesters’ claim, that the CTA/Dalai Lama would persecute Shugden practitioners, rather it indicates that there were – according to Barnett instances of “persecution”* – that were not addressed and treated well by the CTA.

About the protesters “the most qualified academic in the west to be able to comment”, Robert Barnett states:

What we’re really seeing is the streets of America being used by a new form of Buddhism to try to promote itself and to consolidate its own followers by asking them to do these rather unusual, unorthodox [and] social difficult practices of attacking [the Dalai Lama] … We see this being done under the name of human rights, which is not really quite what is at issue here.

Last and least, what the protesters really suffer from is their own confusion, bias, ignorance, hate and racism towards Tibetans. It is not the Dalai Lama who makes them suffer. John Makransky, an American professor of Buddhism and comparative theology at Boston College, hits the nail on its head when he states about the cross cultural confusion going along 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.**

But, what to say the fools will continue to create their own spin of the facts and don’t listen to the wise, and so the production of non-sense and propaganda continues until we all are dead ;-)

Update

Prof. Nathan Hill from SOAS London commented the “AreBuddhistsRacist.com”’s tactics: “The same site did the same sort of nonsense to me. Asked for my comments, took something out of context against my express wishes and refused to change or amend it.”

* UPDATE: In an email to “Indy Hack” from 5th November 2014 – posted without permission from Robbie Barnett on the “AreBuddhistsRacist.com” site – Barnett corrects the use of the term “persecution”, stating: “… I did not use the word ‘persecution’, which was added by the journalist, but he was summarizing my remarks about the existence of discriminatory practices, for which I think the word harassment is more appropriate.”

** Makransky, John (2000). Buddhist Theology: Critical Reflections by Contemporary Buddhist Scholars, John J. Makransky, Roger Reid Jackson, p. 20, in Introduction to Contemporary Academic Buddhist Theology; Its emergence and rationale

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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

New website about the Shugden Controversy and the Shugden / Anti-Dalai Lama protests

There is a new website totally dedicated to the Shugden Controversy and the Shugden / Anti-Dalai Lama protests that contains information, clarifications and refutations of the key claims of the campaigning Western Shugden group (NKT/ICS). The site also includes some brief clarifying academic articles that highlight the background.

Who is protesting against His Holiness the Dalai Lama?

GUEST POST by Ex-NKT

Concise information for a broader public

Even though the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) tries to distance itself from the International Shugden Community, and from another of its groups, the Western Shugden Society, there is clear evidence that it is the NKT that created both organizations.

The International Shugden Society (ISC)

  • On March 26, 2014, corporation papers were filed in the United States with the California Secretary of State under the name of the International Shugden Community, Inc; it is listed as an “active” domestic non-profit corporation under the jurisdiction of the State of California. The registered address of the charity is also the address of the New Horizon Health Inc. in Westlake Village, CA, whose CEO is Len Foley, Teacher at Tushita Meditation Center, Westlake, CA.
  • The NKT European connection to the ISC is in Norway. Corporation papers were filed on March 21, 2014, with the Registered Directors listed as Kelsang Jangdom, Chairman, and Kelsang Tubchen, Board Member. Both teach at the Nordic Kadampa Meditation Center in Oslo; Kelsang Tubchen is the National Spiritual Director for the NKT Nordic Region.

The Western Shugden Society

  • Before it was known as the ISC, the Western Shugden Society was the front organization for the demonstrations, authorized by Kelsang Gyatso. The WSS was formed in London on June 26, 2008, with its officers listed as Susan Jenkins and Helen Gradwell, aka Kelsang Pema.
  • Both women were also listed on the Board of Directors of two other corporations related to the New Kadampa Tradition; the Manjushri Mahayana Buddhist Center, and Tharpaland Kadampa Meditation Center. Kelsang Pema was Kelsang Gyatso’s personal assistant for more than a decade and was the main WSS spokesperson in 2008.

ISC Spokespersons, 2014:

  • William Fettig, aka Kelsang Rigpa, Western US National Spiritual Director and Resident Teacher at Hollywood and Santa Barbara Mahakankala Kadampa Meditation Centers, CA (Not in monastic robes)
  • Kelsang Rabten – NKT National Spiritual Director of New Zealand and Australia. Featured in the ISC videos to be found on YouTube. (Not in monastic robes.)
  • Len Foley – Teacher at Tushita Kadampa Meditation Center , Westlake, CA. Featured with Kelsang Rabten in ISC videos and Rebecca Gauthier, Resident Teacher at Tushita Meditation Center, Westlake, CA.

It can clearly be concluded that it is the NKT that organizes and carries out the demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

See also

Dalai Lama & Dorje Shugden: Was this really the beginning of ‘religious persecution’?

GUEST POST by Ex-NKT

Concise information for a broader public

The Dalai Lama recommended a change in 1977.

Was this really the beginning of ‘religious persecution’?

  • In 1977, as Tibet’s pre-eminent spiritual leader and a leading member of the Gelug school, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recommended a change in the Gelug syllabus – to no longer regard ‘Shugden’ as a public ‘protector’ of the tradition. In 1996 he reinforced the need for this change.
  • In 2008, due to increasing disharmony within Gelug monasteries, the Dalai Lama suggested using a democratic procedure which the Buddha himself had created for settling conflicts; following a majority vote, Shugden and non Shugden monks separated and divided up the monasteries’ assets peacefully and fairly.
  • Shugden can be practised in private. Shugden practitioners have not been excluded from the Gelug school. Other schools of Tibetan Buddhism do not generally practice Shugden, seeing it as harmful, but have no specific public policy on this issue.

There are only two restraints on Shugden practitioners

  • Firstly, they cannot live, study, make offerings and pray in some non-Shugden practising Gelug monasteries.

They have their own Shugden monasteries to live, study, make offerings and pray in, given to them by the Tibetan government and monastic authorities.

  • Secondly, they are asked not to take initiations or extensive Buddhist teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

As Shugden practitioners do not follow His Holiness’ advice then they are appropriately asked not to take him as their teacher.

  • Whether or not a Shugden practitioner attends an initiation or a study programme of His Holiness or in a non Shugden monastery is taken on trust – no one will check the personal possessions or private practice of the person involved.
  • If a Shugden practitioner goes to a non-Shugden monastery, they will not be offered the traditional ‘tea and biscuits’ that are offered to guests. If they continue to visit, they will be asked why and this will be discussed. There is no other consequence or punishment.

No one can either be prosecuted or punished for practising Shugden

  • This is why Amnesty International and the Indian High Court say that there is no basis for alleging ‘Human Rights’ abuse by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the ‘Shugden issue’ is simply a change in religious doctrine.
  • There are some private businesses owned by followers of the non-Shugden monasteries that do not welcome Shugden practitioners as customers. This is their personal decision and is not suggested or enforced by the CTA or the Dalai Lama. This practice is against Article 15 of the Indian Constitution but in some circumstances religious commitments may legally take precedence. Buddhist practitioners with tantric commitments take a vow not to associate with those who disparage their tantric master.
  • Shugden practitioners have no legal restrictions on standing for governmental or political posts, or for accessing social care, education or travel permits from the Tibetan government.

There is no illegal ‘ban’, ‘religious persecution’ or ‘restriction of religious freedom’ by the Dalai Lama towards Shugden practitioners.

See also

Kelsang Gyatso’s Tibetan Relations

GUEST POST by Ex-NKT

Concise information for a broader public

Kelsang Gyatso’s Tibetan Relations

  • Kelsang Gyatso is the Tibetan Buddhist monk who founded his own New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) in 1992. He has lived in the UK since 1977.
  • Members of the NKT pose as the ‘International Shugden Community’ and the ‘Western Shugden Society’ and protest against the Dalai Lama for ‘abuse of the Human Rights’ of the Tibetans, saying that Shugden practitioners are refused employment, basic services, medical access and travel papers by the Tibetan government.
  • The Tibetan Homes Foundation was started in 1962 in Mussoorie, India, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is a registered charitable institute dedicated to the care of orphaned Tibetan children and destitute Tibetan refugees.
  • Kelsang Gyatso’s sister, Kunchok Chonyi, lived at the Tibetan Homes Foundation Home in Rajpur, as she was ‘old aged and destitute’. She is known to practice Shugden.
  • Ngawang Dolker, known as the niece of ‘Kelsang Gyatso, the well known devotee’ of Shugden, was working as a nurse at the Tibetan Homes Dispensary, from 1985.
  • In September 1996, both women travelled to the USA on Tibetan Government permits through the Tibetan ‘Family Reunification Program’.

On the path to enlightenment, in traditional Tibetan Buddhist thought, it is considered essential to repay the kindness of others.

  • In July 1996 Kelsang Gyatso published 2,000 copies of a polemical text entitled “A Sword That Cuts the Suffering Plaint of Tibetans-in Exile” circulating these amongst the Tibetan exile community, mainly in India. In this text Kelsang Gyatso condemned the Dalai Lama for spending his whole life collecting the wealth of simple Tibetan people, giving them no material help and doing nothing that is really helpful for Tibet.
  • Kelsang Gyatso also criticised the Dalai Lama for deceiving the Tibetan people, suppressing their democratic rights and freedom, and using his initiations, particularly the Kalachakra (for World Peace) to ‘control the public’ and ‘destroy his opponents’.
  • Kelsang Gyatso and his NKT followers completely ignore the suffering of the Tibetan people. Kelsang Gyatso only supports his own charities that specialise in buying real estate to create NKT World Peace Temples and Kadampa Meditation Centres in every city in the world. NKT students have been told that supporting any ‘Tibetan’ or other charity is a waste of money that should go towards the NKT.
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama regularly devotes his resources towards promoting Tibetan Buddhist culture and secular ethics, donates large amounts of money to scientific, medical, humanitarian and ecological causes and charities, and acts as Patron to many other charities worldwide. The Dalai Lama Trust, his own registered charity, provides grant-based support to various organizations and individuals working for the promotion and preservation of Tibetan Culture. He tries to meet every refugee who escapes from Tibet.

Documents

See also

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

Here are some facts:

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

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

  • In another video, they deceptively refer to the murder of Gungtan Tsultrim, which occurred in 1976, in the context of it being the outcome of a “wanted list” of Shugden worshippers made by the Tibetan Exile Government in 1997, twenty-one years after the murder occurred– or of a list that there is no evidence of! They are unclear, but both are deceptive. (YouTube)
  • In another video, reference is made to Shugden worshippers being mistreated in various ways some twenty years ago, such as having their house firebombed or being ransacked—but again, none of these claims can be substantiated by a media report, hospital report or police report. The reports are substantiated only by internal documents from the Shugden Community itself. (YouTube)
  • In another video, they claim that Shugden worshippers are persecuted because they are not granted Indian citizenship when they arrive from Tibet. In fact, no Tibetan is granted Indian citizenship upon arrival from Tibet—in fact, all Tibetans arriving from Tibet generally find life difficult overall. This is an outright lie. (YouTube)
  • In other videos, they show obscure pictures of wounds on the faces and hands of monks, all to indicate some sort of attack, presumably by non-Shugden Buddhists, but there are no media or police reports to substantiate any of the claims. No stories are told providing details of these attacks. They cannot be verified. (YouTube, Youtube)
FalseDalaiLamaMuslim-ScreenShot2014-08-23at11.04.09AM

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

Is the Dalai Lama False?

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

Is the Dalai Lama Lying?

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

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

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

And:

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

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

For further information, see

Joanne Clark, October 1, 2014

Update

In February 2008 900 Buddhist Shugden monks were made homeless by the Dalai Lama?

There are so many wrong and misleading claims and allegations by the International Shugden Community (ICS) / New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) that it is almost impossible to address and to correct them all. Joanne Clark’s blog and this blog made some efforts to correct some. There were also efforts by others (including the CTA, Buddhist (Head) Organizations etc.) but the ICS / NKT / Shugden groups still flood the media, interview partners of the Dalai Lama, journalists, Buddhist centres, the internet, news comment sections, YouTube (and also this blog) with false information.

Recently, a senior NKT teacher, Kadampa Ryan, repeated in the discussion thread of the “Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness“, the claims of the ICS/NKT, that the CTA/Dalai Lama had made Shugden followers “homeless”. To make it more easy for Ryan and others, here some of the facts.

The NKT / ICS Campaign claims wrongly for many years now:

In February 2008, as a direct result of the Dalai Lama’s demands, 900 Buddhist monks were made homeless.

But the facts, are, that after the Vinaya ‘Stick Referendum’ that is part of the monastic training for Buddhist monks and nuns, laid down by the Buddha and one of seven ways to settle conflicts (and which is deeply democratic), the majority of the monks in the three main Gelug monsteries (Ganden, Sera, Drepung) in India decided to separate from Shugden monks if they wish to continue their worship. Those who wanted to stay had to give up that practice. This is how things are done, if there is trouble, either your find a compromise or you have to separate if that is not possible. It is also common and part of democratic processes that a majority vote has to be accepted and respected. If a community decides based on majority vote that you cannot smoke on the group’s assets, then those who want to smoke have either to go or to abandon smoking (or you find another way that concords with the majority decision). This is really not an unusual or even criminal or oppressive behavior as the Anti Dalai Lama Campaigning Group wants to make the world believe.

All the monks who had to leave, got a fair share of the houses and property of the whole community. There is no doubt about it that this was the case, and even the deceptive Pro Shugden Site www . dorjeshugden . com acknowledges this fact. Here some excerpts, screenshots and commentaries to their own statements.

line-gothic

Below you find two images about the “desperate state” of the poor, made homeless by the Dalai Lama, Shugden monks in India.

Serpom Monastery

Serpom Monastery

Shar Gaden Monastery

Shar Gaden Monastery

The Shugden Site states:

… the existence of Shar Gaden and Serpom monasteries, established for the sole purpose of preserving and upholding Dorje Shugden’s lineage and ractices. Both monasteries are open and thriving, and their activities encompass the full range of monastic programs including Geshe degrees, initiations and oral transmissions, international tours, Buddhist festivals and celebrations.

These two eminent monasteries are and will continue to be an educational base for high Lamas such as Domo Geshe Rinpoche and other future lamas to come. They are learning centers, hubs from which Dorje Shugden’s lineage is practiced and transmitted, and where Guru Devotion is strong and powerful.

With approximately 600 monks in Serpom Monastery, 800 monks in Shar Gaden Monastery and with these numbers increasing over the years …

However, the anonymous Pro Shugden people behind the Shugden site deceive the readers about the fact, that the Shugden monks got the ground on which they built their new monasteries from the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)* – the CTA which they accuse of oppressing them and of violating their human rights. Not telling the full facts they twist the facts instead:

… the very existence of these monasteries is a thorn in the side of Ganden, Sera and Drepung monasteries because they are right next door! More importantly, they are out of the CTA’s reach. The CTA cannot touch them, cannot close them down, cannot harass them, cannot do anything to them because they are legal entities licensed and protected by the Indian government.

Getting the land by their claimed “evil oppressors” and accusing the CTA to only aim to “close them down” and “harass them” is totally deceptive and wrong.

The story about the lack of water is a lie as explained on the Talk about Shugden site:

Nicolas Tessier Saying they had no proper source water is false as, up until last year, many of their water pipes where still connected to the main feeding source of Sera Mey. Those who were in residence in 2013 will remember well the drought that affected us leaving the Sera Mey kitchen, main building complex and various housing group with NO water. Hence, Sera Mey requested Serpom to find an alternative source for their water for which they complied and the matter was settled peacefully and without a hint of conflict. From 2008 to 2013 give us a gap of 5 years for which they were provide with water.

Siling Tongkhor I concur with what Nicholas has written above. Especially the case with water pipes. We were sharing the same water (coming from the Sera Mey water tanks) for the last 5 years from 2008-2013 after the separation.

The following excerpt by the Pro Shugden Site is a mix of truth and untruths (lies) – first they said Serpom was left without a prayer hall, now it has been changed to “without a properly sized” prayer hall. The Pomra monks fit comfortably in their old kangtsen prayer hall before the new elaborate one was built.

As you can see from the following quotes, not even the (deceptive and anonymous) Pro Shugden Site makes claims of “homelessness”.

When Ganden Shartse Monastery split, then Abbot H.E. Khensur Rinpoche Dakpa Tenzin braved the wrath of the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) by insisting that monastic property be divided equally between Shar Ganden’s monks (formerly Dokhang Khamtsen) and the remaining monks of Ganden Shartse according to headcount. Through his compassion and unbiased care for the monks of Ganden regardless of their practice, the monks of Shar Ganden had sufficient assets and did not have to experience severe poverty after the separation, although Khensur Rinpoche suffered for his bravery.

Serpom’s troubles did not end after separation
*In the case of Serpom Monastery however, things were quite different. Instead of dividing the properties equally based on the headcounts of the monks, the then Abbot of Sera Mey, Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Rabga, who presided over the separation and segregation of monastic assets allowed Serpom Monastery (formally Pomra Khamtsen) to keep only the buildings on Pomra Khamtsen land. This decision, although seemingly fair, left monks from both sides struggling to rebuild some essential structures of their separated monastery. The Serpom monks were without a properly- sized prayer hall, without a school and with insufficient accommodation and in the early days, Serpom did not even have a proper source of water (the monastic water pump house was built elsewhere) .

In case they change it, here the screenshot …

Screenshot DS Site

Screenshot DS Site

Here another description by the Pro DS Site:

The 450 monks of Dokhang Khangtsen has officially seperated from Gaden Shartse Monastery. Gaden Shartse had meetings and the property of the Shartse had to be divided. Dokhang Khangtsen was given their share of the collective monastic property. From Gaden Shartse Monastery, Dokhang khangtsen has recieved:

1. 400 crore Indian Lakhs (1 lakh is Indian rupees 100,000)( 1 crore is 1 lakh x 100)
2. 15 Female buffaloes that produce milk
3. Shartse has a guest house in Delhi, that has been handed over to Dokhang.
4. Shartse has a newly built guest house in Gaden, that has been handed over.
5. Much ritual silverware and ritual objects of the monastery.
6. Hospital Car
7. Carpets and Many thangkas
8. One lorry and two tractors
9. 20 acres of agricultural land

They have remained where they are in the Monastery but seperated from the main Gaden Shartse Monastery completely. They have no involvement with any activities with eachother. They have kept their khangtsen prayer hall and monk rooms. With this, they have formed their own Monastery and now it is offically called: SHAR DOKHANG DRATSTANG

The newly elected Abbot is: Geshe Lobsang Pende

In case they change it, here the screenshot …

Screenshot DS Site

Screenshot DS Site

* The Sikyong told to one of my reliable sources, that the CTA gave the land to the Shugden monasteries.

This claim makes sense, because the Indian government gave land for the Tibetan settlements to the CTA (formerly TGIE), the exile government of the Tibetans. According to my knowledge, the CTA is in charge to use those settlements / land according to the needs of the Tibetans.

Siling Tongkhor, a Gelug Tulku, states on the Talk about Shugden site:

… The land where Pobhor Khamtsen of Sera Mey Monastery has built their living quarters and now the monastic building, was given by CTA not the Government of India. Of course every inch of Tibetan refugee land belong to the government of India and not an iota of Indian land belong to Tibetans. The land was under CTA’s undertaking and after the split, was allotted to the remaining monks of Sermey Pomra Khamtsen, which has earlier, housed the largest number of Shugden worshippers prior to the separation in 2008.

Since the original Pomra Khamtsen monks had lost everything because at the time of separation the Shugden followers of the Pomra Khamtsen asked for all the property : monastic temple, monetary funds, living quarters et al, CTA gave the abovementioned land to the original Sermey Pomra Khamtsen monks where they have already built living quarters now and is halfway through building the monastic temple. The Shugden followers of Sermey Pomra Khamtsen went on to found a new monastery named Serpom – a derivative of Sera Mey and Pomra, and got all the lands, money and living quarters, monetary funds and as well as a newly built temple readymade! (all belonging to the erstwhile Pomra Khamtsen of Sera Mey monastery)

However, according to the 2014 speech by the Desung Kalon, the land was provided by the Indian Government at the request of H.H. the Dalai Lama:

In keeping with the principles of the Dharma and the Vinaya, ‘the mouth was distinguished from the moustache’ during the proceeding of Tsulshing [‘Stick throwing’- a monastic form of democratic referendum] in Gelugpa monasteries in 2008. Nobody was asked to leave the monastery; it was in fact left for the monks to decide where they wished to live. As was said earlier, it is true that a small number of people continue to live [in Gelug monasteries] with numerous rights. At present, there are the so-called Shar Gaden Nampar Gyalwayling and Serpom Khangtsen monasteries in Mundgod and Bylakupee respectively, [populated by Shugden devotee monks] who are living on the lands provided by the Indian Government at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Administration has never asked them to leave the land. If they voluntarily decide to leave, they are free to do so. There is no prohibition from the Tibetan Administration but rather there are words of appreciation. During the meeting of Tibetan Settlement Officers last year, a clear directive was issued that everyone is equally entitled to the rights enshrined and this directive still remains valid. There is no discrimination regarding this issue.

To reconcile both information … maybe after a request from the Dalai Lama, the CTA gave the land, originally donated and  designated by the Indian Government for refugee usage, to the Shugden monks.

See also

 

Last edited by tenpel on September 27, 2014 at 06:36 pm

Update Oct. 02, 2014

From Siling Tongkhor: “The ‘ground’ is a refugee area reserved by the GOI for Tibetan refugees. So the land belongs to none other than GOI. Now for any Tibetan individual or organization to build or developed on these refugee areas they had to seek a reference letter from the local CTA office known as the Representative’s Office or from the Settlement Officer. The land on where the Serpom Monastery and its residential quarters are situated are all within the refugee area and thus need reference from the CTA’s local office – Representative’s Office. If CTA really wanted discriminate the Shugden followers as they allege it can take back the land anytime by asking the Indian government to do so as CTA itself doesn’t have any law enforcement network to put that into effect.”

Revised Declaration from New Kadampa Survivors concerning the demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The following is a revised and abbreviated version of the Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness.

line-gothicWe, the undersigned, as former members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), and ex-practitioners of Dolgyal Shugden, are appalled and saddened that those who were once our NKT sangha demonstrate against and defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The NKT, led by their teacher Kelsang Gyatso, operates as the ‘Western Shugden Society’ (WSS) and more recently as the ‘International Shugden Community’ (ISC). These groups attack His Holiness with unwarranted allegations and distortions of what we know to be the truth. We now believe it is time to speak out!

1) The NKT call His Holiness the Dalai Lama a ‘liar’. His Holiness holds a different view from Kelsang Gyatso concerning the nature and history of Dolgyal Shugden and the effects of this practice upon the well-being of His Holiness, the Tibetan people and their cause. A difference of opinion is not lying.

2) The NKT claim that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has broken samaya with all his teachers by rejecting the practice of Dolgyal Shugden. This practice was viewed as problematic by His Holiness’ Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche. After extensive historical investigation His Holiness saw that Dolgyal Shugden worship was often associated with sectarian views and ‘distorted aspiration’. He explained to his Junior Tutor Trijang Rinpoche why it was his duty to avoid this practice and advise others to do so. Masters of other traditions have also dismissed this practice after investigation. According to Buddhist scriptures and past masters, these are correct and appropriate actions.

3) Kelsang Gyatso claims that by rejecting Dolgyal Shugden, His Holiness is rejecting all the lineage teachings of the Gelug tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. Shugden was not taught by Je Tsongkhapa and His Holiness still holds his lineage gurus and all Gelug teachings in the highest esteem. Kelsang Gyatso, however, is never seen in public with teachers connected to the lineage he claims to represent. He is alone, with no influence from either peers or superiors. He created his NKT in 1992 after a schism with another Tibetan Buddhist group whose property he kept as his own. In 1996 he was unanimously expelled from Sera Je Tibetan Buddhist monastery for being a ‘holder of broken commitments and wrong view’. Kelsang Gyatso has made his own tradition of ‘Modern Buddhism’ and his own ordination system without the traditional monastic code of conduct. He has isolated his students from the wider Buddhist world.

4) The allegation that the Dalai Lama is repressing Freedom of Religion is more relevant to the way the NKT operates. NKT centres are dedicated to the exclusive devotion of Kelsang Gyatso and Dolgyal Shugden. No other Tibetan teachers are allowed. NKT centres only sell Kelsang Gyatso’s books. Students only study Kelsang Gyatso’s books with teachers trained in the NKT and appointed by Kelsang Gyatso. Teachers at all critical of the NKT are removed from their posts. Ordained NKT people and others are told they may never get enlightened if they leave the NKT.

5) The Tibetan people number little more than 6 million. An unknown number of Tibetans, often quoted as being more than one million, have been slaughtered due to the Chinese occupation and colonisation. Claims made by the ISC such as ‘4 million Dorje Shugden practitioners are suffering’ from His Holiness’ abuse of their Human Rights are obviously untrue.

No established Human Rights group or court has ever confirmed any of the NKT, WSS or ISC’s claims of intentional Human Rights abuses by His Holiness the Dalai Lama or the Central Tibetan Administration. In 2010 the Indian High Court rejected a law suit by Dolgyal Shugden followers because of ‘vague averments’ and ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’.

6) There are many documented cases where the NKT has threatened to sue using libel law to silence other Buddhist organisations, umbrella groups, internet discussion forums and academics, authors and publishers. People inside the group can realistically fear social exclusion, illegal eviction or police arrest if they criticise policies. In our experience, the NKT generally prioritises the expansion of the group over the welfare of individuals. The NKT Survivors internet group numbers over 1,200 subscribers. There is no Dalai Lama Survivor’s group.

7) In 2008 Kelsang Gyatso stated that he was personally organising the NKT’s participation in the protests led by the Western Shugden Society (WSS). All the Directors of the WSS were and are members of the New Kadampa Tradition. However, the NKT has denied that they have any connection to the WSS. The latest NKT front group, the International Shugden Community (ISC) actively recruits protestors and fundraises for demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama inside NKT centres.

8) Misleading and deceitful media techniques are used in NKT campaigns. In his YouTube “News Broadcasts” for the ISC, senior NKT monk Kelsang Rabten hides his bias and status as a monk by not wearing his robes. An ISC video uses footage of young Burmese monks to fraudulently misrepresent the situation in India regarding the supposed ‘ostracism’ of Dolgyal Shugden followers. The mainstream press has published NKT accounts without confirming their accuracy.

9) Both in 1996-7 and in 2008 the NKT organised demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama that coincided with the public exposure on the internet of the alleged sexual misconduct of the Deputy Spiritual Directors of the NKT. His Holiness has not changed his view or his actions since 1996. Therefore we question what has caused NKT followers to start their demonstrations and defamations again in 2014.

We offer our support to the Tibetan people in their struggle to preserve their lives and their culture. We question the intentions of those who use their culture but do not support this struggle, not even acknowledging the kindness given in training their own teacher.

We feel that Kelsang Gyatso and his students have no basis in fact for making any attempts to discredit and disparage His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We request them to stop misleading and disturbing others with this false campaign.

26th September 2014

Carol McQuire
Jamie Kostek
Lynne Cracknell
Ani Tsultrim
Graham Smetham
Linda Ciardiello
Ian Thomas
David Cutshaw
Robert Helms
Steve Maxwell
Michael Brown
Charles Wesley
Andrew Durling
Andrew Cheadle
Kevan Webb
Tenzin Peljor
James Tregaskis
Tim Ford
Karma Yonten
Amanda Zinski
Stuart Everard
Andrea Ballance
Yeshe Tsomo
Richard Litchfield
Anne Maxwell
Andrea Clarkson
David Silver
Steve Cody
Peter Dornan
Ben Grimwood
Adrian Benson
Charles Miller
Chris Cliff
Michele White

Supporters

Lyn G Farrell
Charlie Worthington
Tony Allen
Ganesha von Hendricks
Ashoka von Hendricks
Dan Ballance
Joanne Clark
Carol Brearley
Jon Underwood
Erika Adler

line-gothic

Download

Background

See also

Some Media and the Shugden Controversy – How TV Channels and YouTube Can Deceive You

Me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the New Kadampa Tradition under the front group Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998.

This is me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the New Kadampa Tradition under the front group Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998.

Going back to my time in NKT from 1995–2000, I remember the point in 1996 when the Dalai Lama was introduced to me as being a bad person who “oppresses religious freedom”, as a politician who “mixes Dharma with politics“, who had no spiritual qualities whatsoever and who had “broken with his root guru”. At that time I still admired the Dalai Lama as a Bodhisattva, as Chenrezig in person. Although I had thrown my Dalai Lama book and a Dzogchen book into the garbage, having learned by the manipulative skills of my NKT teacher that these are not “pure Dharma” books, whereas “Geshe-la’s” (Kelsang Gyatso’s) books are “pure Dharma”, my veneration for the Dalai Lama was still there.

Such veneration wasn’t good for the protests. So my NKT teacher tried her best to convince me that the Dalai Lama was a very ordinary person. It was hard for her, but finally she succeeded. Along with the NKT information I was fed, she was so successful that I really hated the Dalai Lama. I couldn’t bear even to see a picture of him. I immediately felt repulsion and hostility, thinking “this man fools the whole world”. Not only this, I also was thinking that it would be better for the Dalai Lama to be killed because he harms so many sentient beings. I wondered: “Is it my task to kill him out of compassion?” After I left the NKT, it took me years to clear up my mind from these wrong views and projections against His Holiness.

During this process of indoctrination by the NKT, two German speaking TV broadcasts played a major role. They were shown to us to “give evidence” that the Dalai Lama was a “ruthless dictator” who “oppresses his own people”. These were the TV broadcast by DRS (SF 1) “10 vor 10″ of Switzerland TV “Bruderzwist zwischen Tibetern” (‪05. January 1998) and the TV broadcast by a major TV station in Germany PANORAMA of ARD “Verklärt, verkitscht – Hollywood feiert den Dalai Lama” (20. November 1997). You can find both of them on YouTube uploaded by the NKT or other Shugden groups. The former is being translated into English and both were used for the new NKT video Mr. McBretney (NKT/ICS) showed at SOAS. These broadcasts approved the claims of NKT and tried to convince the audience that indeed the Dalai Lama has a dark shadow that the world ignores.

I remember that while watching “Bruderzwist” from ‪05. January 98

when I saw and heard the old Tibetan monk who cried and said: “I would prefer to have died than to experience this” my mind was thinking ‘but why doesn’t he consider Karma, cause and effect? And why does he cling so much, that he feels pain?’

However, after we watched the documentary, there wasn’t space for an open discussion in the NKT centre, just instructions of why and how we must continue to organize the protests and attend them at different places.

What most English-speaking people don’t know about that documentary is that it was only part one of a five part TV series on Swiss TV SF1. This part one was considered – and is, in fact – a heavily biased part, which had led to a serious controversy in Switzerland. The TV Chief, Christoph Müller, had to excuse himself, saying in defense that they are only an “Infotainment-Magazine”, “we don’t make academic research.” The protests by Tibetans, the media and scientists forced the TV channel to re-investigate their claims, to consult academic experts and to send another broadcast that corrected most of the former claims. You won’t find this self-correction on YouTube with English subtitles, because it doesn’t support the aims of the proselytizing Shugden group that is very active on YouTube. (The full German version of this “self correction” by the TV channel can be found here.)

The self-correction by Swiss TV corrected and balanced all of their former TV contributions about this issue. It provided explanations from the Indian police – see the English transcript here – and it corrected some of the many misleading claims SF1 made in the first parts of their series which the NKT/WSS/Shugden groups have now spread all over the internet and YouTube. For instance, ex-Minister Mr. Kundeling says in this documentary

I don’t practice Shugden, hence I can’t be stabbed for practicing it, they claimed I would be stabbed by the Tibetan Government because I worship Shugden, this is not true, this is a lie.

The self-correction by SF1 also made it clear that the document about ten Shugden practitioners (hysterically announced by the organized Shugden groups as “The ten most hated enemies of the Dalai Lama” etc) was made on behalf of the Tibetan Parliament and was stamped as being “internal”. The reason for making this document was in response to the brutal killing of the Dalai Lama’s confident and Shugden critic Gen Lobsang Gyatso and two of his students (allegedly by  Shugden practitioners). The Parliament made the document to investigate security risks for the Dalai Lama and who might be behind those brutal murders. The announcements of the Shugden practitioners’ names and faces in the public on posters was not spread by the government but leaked by a parliament member.

The moderator acknowledges that, according to the Indian police, there are “fanaticalizations” and “fundamental tendencies” among Shugden practitioners. The SF1 documentation makes clear that every society has a right to decide what is authentic and what violates their rights and that of course, if Shugden practitioners are elected into the government, this will be accepted. […]

However, the constant misinformation by NKT, together with these two one-sided documentaries (which are just propaganda, as a Tibetologist once said to me) were a key factor in convincing me that the NKT was right and the Dalai Lama and the world were wrong.

It was a hard process of more than 4 years after I left NKT to reconsider the validity and claims of all the information and broadcasts. For instance, I didn’t know that some leftist journalists (who often have a problem with religion and authority in general) were in favor of the distorted Shugden claims. They were obviously happy to write something bad about the Dalai Lama, misunderstanding propaganda with enlightenment (“Aufklärung”). This is also true for the well spread PANORAMA broadcast, which was also shown to myself and other NKT followers.

Some of the reporters and journalists who reported about the Shugden controversy in a one-sided way might have been driven by sensationalist greed or by underestimating the complexity of the issue, simply taking the claims of Shugden informants at face value.

However, PANORAMA (John Goetz and Jochen Graebert) topped the misinformation, because they incorporated the interviews with two academic experts, Prof Donald Lopez (USA) and Prof Jens-Uwe Hartmann (Germany), into their misrepresentation of the situation which lent their report more creditability. It was only around 2008 (11 years later) that I learned that both academic experts had distanced themselves from this documentary and what distortions and errors it contained. Prof. Hartmann wrote (unauthorized English translation of his German article):

In a report on Tibet on November 20, 1997 in the Panorama program [of German National TV Channel 1], the Dalai Lama was criticized for his stance in the conflict over the protective deity Dorje Shugden (rDo-rje shugs-ldan). The occasion for the broadcast was the latest Hollywood film on Heinrich Harrer’s stay in Tibet and the Tibet image conveyed in that film; and the presentation was characterized by a desire to scrutinize the “Tibet Myth” and especially the “Dalai Lama Myth” in relation to the reality and to reveal the discrepancies. To illuminate the contradictory nature of the person of the Dalai Lama, he was first introduced as the world’s most highly respected Nobel Peace Laureate, and then shown, in light of the Shugden conflict, as being an entirely different person behind this façade, namely that, together with the Tibetan government-in-exile, he uncompromisingly suppresses the religious freedom of his countrymen.

The show drew its effect from the skillfully constructed contrast. That this approach was mainly aimed to rouse emotion in the viewers, and less on informing critically and emotion-free is a common feature nowadays for all such television magazines and tells something about the general information culture even within the Public Broadcasting Services. However, another thing was the tendentious handling of facts, which was aimed at creating as sensational an impact as possible. Although the editors of the program knew the facts and had the background information, the inclusion of these would have necessitated a much more positive view of the Dalai Lama and, as such, they were left aside in order not to jeopardize the “emotion targeting” effect. This is unfair sensationalist journalism.

As I now know from numerous conversations with viewers, there were misunderstandings not only because of the one-sidedness of the report, but also because of the blurred depiction of individual facts. As such, the viewers got the impression that the murder of Geshe Losang Gyatsho and his two students in Dharamsala earlier that year had been perpetrated by the pro-Dalai Lama faction, as they did not clearly express in the report that the Geshe was a close confidant of the Dalai Lama supporting his position in the Shugden conflict.

In July Prof. Jens-Uwe Hartmann wrote an updated version of his 1997 article and this is now online and has been translated into English (note his clear statement at the end about this broadcast):

It was information and academic papers such as these that helped me to make up my own mind about Shugden. And I am very happy that I found them and that I could re-investigate all of the information I received – not only from the NKT, but also from Shugden lamas such as the self-proclaimed (or fake) Kundeling Lama (Lobsang Yeshi) [note there is an officially recognized, genuine, Kundeling Rinpoche], Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, Gonsar Rinpoche and some of their students.

In 2008, there were two similar documentaries by Al Jazeera, The Dalai Lama: The devil within and France 24 TV, The Dalai Lama’s demon which repeated similar to the Swiss SF1 TV documentary and the German Panorama documentary distorted claims of proselytizing Shugden groups (e.g. 4 million practitioners).

I would like to encourage any open minded person and those in NKT, those who have left the NKT or who are wondering about all of this, to take time to thoroughly investigate the claims being made by using reasons based on facts. It’s worth doing it. Your mind will come to peace and you will enjoy certainty and confidence about these matters.

Last edited by tenpel August 30, 2014 at 09:55 pm

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