“Name only”: The dangerous attitude of Nihilism being taught in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)

Just as a chariot is verbalized
In dependence on collections of parts.

So conventionally a sentient being
Is set up depending on the mental and physical aggregates.
— The Buddha

As a former NKT teacher and student of the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT , self-promoted as “Kadampa Buddhism” or “Modern Buddhism”), Kelsang Gyatso, I am quite convinced that within the NKT there is a profound misunderstanding of reality. A misunderstanding which can be pointed out as Nihilism – the rejection that conventional phenomena exist. This rejection is going along with the belief that it depends only on you what phenomena are and how they function – dependent on the name you give to phenomena. According to this thinking NKT teachers teach, “if you see Geshe la [Kelsang Gyatso] as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha” or “if you see Shugden [Dolgyal] as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha”. Likewise, NKT teachers teach, “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.”

These explanations reflect a nihilistic attitude. This nihilistic attitude is wide spread within NKT and permeates the minds and arguments of the majority of NKT followers, including NKT teachers.

A sidetrack reflection about pure and impure minds and labelling

Funnily, NKT leadership and their followers are inconsequential in applying their own teachings – and thus would have to be regarded according to their own logic as being “hypocritical”. Seeing “Geshe la” and Shugden as Buddhas or NKT as pure is a valid approach and true (if you see them as Buddhas you get the blessings of the Buddhas but if you see them as ordinary beings you get nothing – so they say). The NKT leadership encourages to project perfection and purity onto those things that form the basis of the NKT and onto the NKT leadership itself. But when it comes to the Dalai Lama or Tibetan Buddhism in general, labels such as “worst 21st Buddhist century dictator”, “hypocrite”, “evil and cruel”, or “quite degenerated” etc. are regarded as valid labels and are believed to reflect reality.

Now, according to NKT’s own arguments, why labelling the worst things onto the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism? Weren’t it better to see them in a more positive light, or in a more beneficial way, “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.”? What’s so beneficial to see the most negative things in the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism? Why can’t NKT followers see the Dalai lama also as a Buddha and Tibetan Buddhism as pure? Does the NKT leadership has a need to create outer enemies as a power tool and as a part to form a nationalist NKT identity?

What does this labelling of negative attributes to outer NKT forces tell about the NKT leadership and their devoted followers? Gen-la Kelsang Kunsang, the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition and the National Spiritual Director of Mexico, teaches about “The Purity of Mind” as follows:

Following Gen la Kunsang’s teachings, it follows, how impure must be the minds of the NKT leadership and many of the NKT followers who slander and harass the Dalai Lama or Samdhong Rinpoche as “cruel and evil or “corrupt and evil”? How does this reflect NKT followers’ minds according to the NKT teachings?


In the center NKT nun Gen Kelsang Norden.

Back to topic – The nihilistic attitude within NKT

The nihilistic attitude, which is so present in the NKT, is dangerous and is also used for what I call sometimes “brainwashing” or “indoctrination” within the NKT.

It forms an important part to bring reality in line with the NKT ideology of a pure NKT world that is threatened by a “very degenerated” outer world. This attitude serves as an important basis to bend reality until it fits the NKT party line. Such a way of seeing things won’t bring you closer to reality – as the Buddhist path should do – but it brings you far away from enlightenment and undermines your conviction in the law of cause and effect (Karma) and subsequently it undermines ethics and good ethical conduct – which makes a nihilistic attitude really dangerous. That’s why Buddhist commentaries – including those by Je Tsongkhapa – state that Eternalism is less dangerous than Nihilism because the latter is going to undermine your faith in the law of karma and then your behaviour will degenerate and the result, when the misdeeds ripen, will be suffering. Eternalism doesn’t have these detrimental effects and can coexist with faith in the law of Karma.

I think, the misunderstandings of conventional reality and the nihilistic view within NKT are based on a lack of substantial and open debate, a lack of substantial knowledge of the works of Gelug masters such as Je Tsongkhapa, Khedrup Je or Gyaltsab Je, and the narrow, sectarian and stupid attitude promoted by the NKT that if you read only the books of its founder, Kelsang Gyatso, this would be good enough to reach enlightenment – “its all in his books” as NKT teachers use to claim.

Here is one example for this Nihilism from the former, closely moderated, official NKT internet chat forum, a comment NKT lay teacher and NKT advocate Kadam Ryan gave:

There are three main things to think about when thinking about the ‘Dorje Shugden issue’. The first is that Buddhas do not exist from their own side, but depend upon the minds of the living beings who view them. If you view Dorje Shugden as a Buddha, then for you he will function as a Buddha. If you view him as big blob of orange Jell- O, then for you he will be a big blob of orange Jell-O.

When I remember correctly, this explanation was not only accepted but also praised by NKT forum members as “profound” or “wise” etc. For sure nobody challenged it or doubted that explanation in any way. Expressions and discussions of such views occur not only in NKT teachings by NKT teachers but they were expressed also on this blog and Wikipedia talk pages.

The view of the NKT leadership and what Tsongkhapa actual states about conventional reality

Now lets focus on what NKT leadership teaches. Kelsang Gyatso, NKT’s final and only authority, states:

I am not saying all phenomena do not exist. All phenomena do exist. The way they exist is as mere name. Anything other than mere name does not exist. But all the phenomena that we normally see or perceive do not exist even as mere name because they are all mistaken appearance. – The Oral Instructions of Mahamudra

Gen Kelsang Dekyong, the Spiritual Director of the NKT and the Resident Teacher at Manjushri KMC, the Mother Center of “Kadampa Buddhism“, explains emptiness this way:

If you carefully analyse what Kelsang Gyatso and Kelsang Dekyong say, you can detect that there is a lack of clarity that gives space to the interpretation or misunderstanding that things are name only – a type of Idealism. And from this it makes perfectly sense (if you don’t question it or dig deeper into the topic using authentic Buddhist scriptures), when NKT teachers teach “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.” The reason for this heavy misunderstanding and wrong view I think is, that the NKT leadership does not properly and in-depth explain what “mere name” really means. As a result of this, there is too much space for interpretation, a space that invites to fill the gaps of knowledge with fantasy. I think, there is an ambiguity and a lack of clarity or scrutiny within NKT what conventional phenomena are – at least according to how Tsongkhapa explained it.

The insight chapter of Je Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo (folio 313b Tibetan, p. 178 of English) states:

How does one determine whether something exists conventionally? We hold that something exists conventionally:

  1. if it is known to a conventional consciousness;
  2. if no other conventional valid cognition contradicts its being as it is thus known
  3. if reason that accurately analyses reality – that is, analyses whether something intrinsically exists – does not contradict it.

We hold that what fails to meet those criteria does not exist.

The meaning of “mere name” or “name only”

Now, what does “mere name” or “name only” actually mean within the context of the Gelug school which the NKT claims to be the “pure” heir of?

In Buddhism the term self has two meanings that must be differentiated in order to avoid confusion. One meaning of self is “person,” or “living being.” This is the being who loves and hates, who performs actions and accumulates good and bad karma, who experiences the fruits of those actions, who is reborn in cyclic existence, who cultivates spiritual paths, and so on.

The other meaning of self occurs in the term selflessness, where it refers to a falsely imagined, overconcretized status of existence called “inherent existence”. The ignorance that adheres to such an exaggeration is indeed the source of ruination, the mother of all wrong attitudes — perhaps we could even say devilish. In observing the “I” that depends upon mental and physical attributes, this mind exaggerates it into being inherently existent, despite the fact that the mental and physical elements being observed do not contain any such exaggerated being.

What is the actual Status of a sentient being? Just as a car exists in dependence upon its parts, such as wheels, axles, and so forth, so a sentient being is conventionally set up in dependence upon mind and body. There is no person to be found either separate from mind and body or within mind and body.


This is the reason why the “I” and all other phenomena are described in Buddhism as “name-only.” The meaning of this is not that the “I” and all other phenomena are just words, since the words for these phenomena do indeed refer to actual objects. Rather, these phenomena do not exist in and of themselves; the term name-only eliminates the possibility that they are established from the object’s own side. We need this reminder because the “I” and other phenomena do not appear to be merely set up by name and thought. Quite the contrary.

For instance, we say that the Dalai Lama is a monk, a human, and a Tibetan. Does it not seem that you are saying this not with respect to his body or his mind but about something separate? Without stopping to think about it, it seems that there is a Dalai Lama that is separate from his body, and independent even of his mind. Or consider yourself. If your name is Jane, for instance, we say, “Jane’s body, Jane’s mind,” so it seems to you that there is a Jane who owns her mind and body, and a mind and body that Jane owns.

How can you understand that this perspective is mistaken? Focus on the fact that there is nothing within the mind and body that can be “I.” Mind and body are empty of a tangible “I.” Rather, just as a car is set up in dependence upon its parts and is not even the sum of its parts, so the I depends upon mind and body. An “I” without depending on mind and body does not exist, whereas an “I” that is understood to be dependent upon mind and body exists in accordance with the conventions of the world. Understanding this type of “I” that is not at all to be found within mind and body, and is not even the sum of mind and body but exists only through the power of its name and our thoughts, is helpful as we strive to seeourselves as we really are.

– “Realizing That You Do Not Exist in and of Yourself”, pp. 126–29 – HH the 14th Dalai Lama

You can’t label things arbitrarily as you like – A clarification by Pabongkha Rinpoche

Ok, NKT followers won’t except what His Holiness teaches nor won’t they sincerely check what Je Tsongkhapa taught or challenge easily the view of their leadership. However, maybe they accept Pabongkha Rinpoche as a valid source of information within the context of their own school of thought. Pabongkha Rinpoche states in his commentary to Je Tsongkhapa’s Three Principles of the Path – published by Mahayana Sutra and Trantra Press and Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, whose root gurus were Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche:

If we look for the very root that keeps you and I going round in this circle of life, we come down to ignorance, to our grasping for a “self”. To cut this root, we must develop wisdom which perceives that no such “self” exists. If we were to discuss what no-self is in any detailled way, it would be best to apply a number of sections from the works on the Steps to the path [Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo]; one example would be the “fourfold analysis.”Here though we will give only a brief presentation of the most vital points concerning correct view, and we will use the classical reasoning based on interdependence.

Now every existent object is a product of something to be given a name and something else to give it a name. There is not a single atom of anything in the universe which does not rely on this process—there is nothing which exists from its own side. I too then am a product: someone has taken two things together, my body and my I mind, and called it “me.” I am nothing more than that. There is no “me” which exists from its own side; there is no “me” which does not rely on someone taking my body and mind together and granting it the name. Neither in fact do my body or my mind themselves exist from their own sides.

We can express all this in the classical form of a logical statement:

Consider all objects, those of the cycle and those beyond it.
They have none of the true and solid existence that I hold them to have; they cannot exist on their own.
Because they are interdependent.

What we mean here by “interdependence” is that all objects are interrelated with others on which they depend; that is, they occur through dependence on other objects. This is why there is absolutely no way they can exist on their own.

We can take for example the way we appoint the chanting master of a monastery, or the governor of some district, or any similar figure. First there must be a reasonable basis to be called “chanting master”: there must be a person who is worthy of being the chanting master.

Then there must be someone like the abbot of the monastery who says, “He is now the chanting master.” Until the abbot does so, until the abbot applies the name and the concept to this person, he cannot be the chanting master—even though he may have all the qualities you need to be named “chanting master.”

If this were not the case, and if the person were somehow the chanting master from the beginning, all on his own without anyone putting the name or idea on him, then he would have to have been the chanting master all along—from the time he lay in his mother’s womb. And when he was bom, the moment he came out of her womb, people then should have said, “Here comes the chanting master!”

But people didn’t say it, because getting to be the chanting master depends on many other factors. We don’t call someone “chanting master” until there is a basis to give the name—a monk who is fit to be chanting master, and until a person qualified to give him the name hangs it on him, and says “This is the chanting master.” Neither until this time does the person himself think “I am the chanting master.” But once the concept has been applied to him, “You are the chanting master,” then people start to talk about him as “chanting master,” and he too begins to think “I am the chanting master.”

The case is the same with something like a horse. We take the body and the mind of the horse, and we put them together— we take all the proper causes and conditions together—and label them with the name “horse.” A building is the same too: nothing but a name put on a certain collection of parts that act as the basis to receive the name.

And the same goes for every existing entity: they arc nothing but a name and a concept, “This we call this, and that we call that,” applied to the collection of parts that acts as the basis of the particular entity’s name. There does not exist the single tiniest bit of anything thatis some kind of object on its own, divorced of the parts we give its name.

“Well then,” you might think to yourself, “if every object is nothing more that what we label it, then I can go out and call gold ‘brass,’ or call a pillar a ‘pitcher,’ and that’s just what they will be.” But it’s not; we do say that things are just labelled what they are, but for the label to be applied, the basis that gets it must be a reasonable one for the particular label.

When we apply a label, three conditions must be present. The three are as follows: (1) the object must be known to a conventional perception; (2) no other conventional perception can contradict its existence; and (3) no ultimate analysis can contradict its existence either. All three must be there.

Now here is what we mean when we say that one conventional perception has been contradicted by another. We can be standing looking at a scarecrow way off in the distance, and someone next to us says ‘That’s a man over there,” and we believe him. Then someone comes up who’s seen for himself that the thing is a scarecrow and tells us “It’s just a scarecrow.” Our initial perception of the thing as a man then vanishes. This is an indication that the basis was not a reasonable one for the given name.

That’s not all—we can go around giving out all sorts of names, we can say “Rabbits have horns,” but that’s not going to make the horns exist; there’s no reasonable basis to get the label. Therefore we must have a reasonable, conventional state of mind that is applying a name to a reasonable collection of parts which acts as the basis we want to give the name—and which actually exists.

Thus too when we go to name somebody governor of a district we have to have a person who is suitable to be given the name—we must have a reasonable basis for our label. We don’t take some deaf-mute bastard kid and appoint him governor.

A Final thought

What the NKT teachings often ignore is that for a correct process of labelling a name to a basis, the basis must have the respective qualities and must be able to perform the function the label is referring to. If I label rope to a vicious snake and use that “rope” as a belt to fix my trousers, the vicious snake won’t accept that usage, to serve as my belt, and highly likely this vicious snake, that is not a rope, is going to bite me – no matter how much or how deep I believe or convince myself that this vicious snake is a rope and suitable to be used as a belt.
Similarly, the rope won’t serve as a basis from which poison for medical purposes can be extracted. No matter how much you “squeeze” the rope and no matter how much you pray or how deeply you believe the rope to be a poisonous snake, no poison can be extracted from the rope.

Last edited by tenpel on October 31, 2015 at 11:50 pm

A Must Watch: Video About the Historic Conference of Western Buddhist Teachers with H.H. the Dalai Lama

Many, many years ago, when I had the chance to escape my Buddhist “cults” – the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and Ganden Tashi Choeling (GTC) – I had the good luck to see a video about a conference where Western Buddhist teachers met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and three other Tibetan lamas, Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche, Panchen Otrul Rinpoche and Amchok Rinpoche. They discussed problematic issues in bringing Buddhism to the West.

The teachers were from the various Tibetan, Zen and Theravadin traditions, among them Ven. Thubten Chodron, Jetsun Tenzin Palmo, Ven. Ajahn Amaro, Jack Kornfield, Junpo Sensei, and Prof. Dr. Robert Thurman.  I’ve always missed that this documentary is not available in the internet. By now, only a written summary of this historic meeting was available. However, the situation has changed now because The Meridan Trust made the documentary available:

Bildschirmfoto 2015-10-18 um 19.47.46I remember vividly how His Holiness was somewhat perplex after Ven. Tenzin Palmo told about the lack of structures for ordained – especially for nuns (!) – in the West, and how His Holiness started first to laugh and then to weep. I was amazed to see this response and subsequent compassion. (The NKT had convinced me after years of “brainwashing” that His Holiness has no compassion, is an ordinary and even bad politician – who aims to “destroy the pure Buddhadharma”, a spiritual beguiler par excellence – in short the worst person on this planet. But here, in this video, I could see the opposite. I’ve never seen Kelsang Gyatso, the founder of the NKT, who chose H.H. the Dalai Lama as his main enemy, being moved or even starting to cry when being faced with the suffering of others. This video and especially this episode was a mile stone in my re-evaluating who the Dalai Lama is and if or if he hasn’t spiritual qualities.)

A Victory for Shugden protesters? The Dalai Lama’s US visit has been cancelled due to medical reasons

Guest Post

The announcement that His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 2015 tour of the US had been cancelled due to medical reasons was viewed by many as a tragic event. For some however, it will be considered a victory.

Kelsang Norden / Rachel Jeffrey

Ever since early 2014, when the New Kadampa Tradition ‘nun’ Kelsang Norden (Rachel Jeffrey) mindlessly chanting her mantra, “Stop lying Dalai Lama”, deliberately cyber-baited His Holiness in a San Francisco hotel lobby, only for the video to be then paraded on Youtube as if it were evidence of a moral ‘victory’, it has become increasingly clear that the ISC’s campaigning is not merely political protest. Rather, their protests are designed to bully and intimidate His Holiness personally, to confront him face to face and push him without respite, until finally he loses his resolve and succumbs to the Shugden Community’s demands. Like spoiled children who, when all else fails, stamp their feet and scream until they get what they want, the ISC have realised their twenty year campaign has failed to achieve anything and in response have decided, as a matter of deliberate policy, to physically and verbally bully the Dalai Lama personally, with their stated intent being to “vilify, belittle, humiliate and denigrate” His Holiness at every given opportunity.

Since then, Shugden supporters, no doubt desperate to win the admiration of their cult contemporaries for acts they no doubt conceive of as some perverse kind of martyrdom,  have made, and filmed, similar efforts to bait His Holiness with varying degrees of ‘success’, applying the same tactics in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the US. On two occasions in Copenhagen, a small cohort of Shugden supporters managed to get within just a few metres of his hotel room, only to be prevented from reaching their goal by an alert Tibetan security guard. Three months earlier in Holland, three ISC members attempted the same by booking into his hotel; forewarned this might happen by security services, management refused them admission and the attempt was thwarted. In each instance, it was clear that the Shugden followers’ intent had gone well beyond mere political protest and had ventured quite deliberately into the realms of direct, personal confrontation.

Tibet supporters and Tibetans stage protest in front of the NKT Tibet supporters and Tibetans stage protest in front of the NKT. (c) The Tibet Post

His Holiness’ nine day visit to the UK presented an unparalleled opportunity for zealots on the lunatic fringe of this already ‘extremist sect’ to once again play out their puerile ‘war game’ at the expense of His Holiness’ well being. With the UK Government clearly terrified of offending potential Chinese paymasters and thus refusing His Holiness the offer of any semblance of protection [one of only two countries in the world to do so], and with the UK premier and his chancellor trade touring China, unashamedly ignoring issues of human rights while contorting themselves into a seemingly infinite variety of impossible yogic positions to facilitate the simultaneous licking of as many boots as possible, the stage was set for an ISC free for all. With the fort held bravely by only a tiny group of dedicated Tibetan and Western security guards, in the face of screaming mobs of hate-filled Kelsang Gyatso devotees, eyes glazed over in blind obeisance, this was the proverbial accident waiting to happen.

Thus it was that throughout the visit, NKT Shugden devotees repeatedly rode roughshod over Buddhist moral principles, applying their ‘end justifies the means’ cult philosophy whenever the opportunity presented itself, doing their utmost, “out of compassion for him”,  to confront, intimidate and insult His Holiness whenever the opportunity arose. The debacle reached its climax on the final day in a virtual car chase through London, as the Dalai Lama made his way to the airport, with NKT/ISC fanatics jumping red lights to keep up, ranting and verbally haranguing His Holiness when his motorcade was forced to stop. And this, all in the name of the ‘compassionate Buddha, Dorje Shugden’.

Kelsang Tsangpa / Ian Povey, who also hurled abuse at His Holiness and was identified as the driver who tailed his vehicle to the airport.

Kelsang Tsangpa / Ian Povey, who also hurled abuse at His Holiness and was identified as the driver who tailed his vehicle to the airport.

While His Holiness recuperated at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic from the ordeals he had endured, one was tempted to ask whether the NKT/ISC’s incessant intimidation had contributed in any way to the latest concerns over his health. This is not to suggest for a moment that His Holiness is anything other than a fully enlightened Buddha, whose infinite wisdom and compassion render him immovable in the face of these zealots’ infantile antics. However, he is not Superman; if it rains, he needs an umbrella, just like the rest of us. And if someone threatens him at every opportunity given, bullying and harassing, day after day screaming and shouting insults without respite or reason, doesn’t the question arise as to whether these despicable acts might in some way be connected to current concerns about His Holiness’ health?

According to the ISC’s latest list of four demands, the aim of their protests is to “bring to an end all discrimination against Shugden practitioners” and restore “harmonious relationships with Shugden practitioners”; as one placard put it, to “let all Buddhists become brothers and sisters again”. Bearing in mind that throughout his last two UK visits, the NKT/ISC have repeatedly threatened and harassed His Holiness, screaming and shouting their insults and slogans without respite, one has to wonder what on earth it is that these people think their antics will achieve? One has to ask in what way will their confronting and threatening His Holiness ever restore “harmonious relations”? How will their attempts to intimidate him, bullying and haranguing the Dalai Lama until they are blue in the face, cause any Buddhists anywhere to want  to live together ‘in harmony’ with them, as “brothers and sisters”, ever again?

During his visit to Cambridge, the Dalai Lama was asked whether there was any segregation of Shugden devotees in the exile community. His response, “Yes; They themselves created that.” was immediately seized upon by the ISC as more ‘evidence’ of his hypocrisy. Sadly, as ever, their willingness to interpret his every action as disingenuous rendered  them unable to hear the real message His Holiness was sending them: “Yes, there is some discrimination and it is the demonstrations and personal hate campaign of the NKT/ISC  that are causing it.”

Recent reports from Tibetan settlements in India suggest a direct correlation between NKT/ISC demonstrations in the West and manifestations of discrimination in the East; visitors to Tibetan encampments reported that the principal indicators of the Shugden problem, the signs in shop windows asking devotees to go elsewhere, had all but disappeared once the NKT/ISC demonstrations stopped, and that things had begun to return to a semblance of normality as the dust from the previous wave of demonstrations settled and monastics and laypersons from the different factions began to live alongside one another in harmony. However, as soon as the NKT/ISC demonstrations began again, the old situation reared its ugly head; signs in shops increased and feelings of resentment once again began to run high.

When will the NKT/ISC realise that, like the ancient ouroboros symbol, the legendary serpent that consumes its own tail, their demonstrations are self perpetuating, a self fulfilling prophecy? Designed to bring discrimination to an end, they in fact perpetuate it, just as the serpents’ attempts at consuming itself only cause it to grow ever larger.

When will the NKT/ISC realise that if they continue with their tactics of direct intimidation and personal confrontation of His Holiness and some ill should actually befall him, their aim will never be achieved, and they will instead render themselves the pariahs of the Tibetan Buddhist world for hundreds, indeed thousands of years to come?

This post was slightly edited by the author.

Response to the refutation of Tenzin Wangdak by an anonymous Shugden supporter

These days in exile unity among the Tibetans is more important than ever. The last thing they want is some puritanical protector terrifying those who wander between spiritual traditions. Harmony between the main religious traditions is essential. Shugden hardly fits the role of a mediator or peace-bringer, does he? – Gavin Kilty

The article that this is a response to is found at: https://dorjeshugdentruth.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/refutation-of-the-ticking-time-bomb-that-took-23-years-to-explode-part-2-by-tenzing-wangdak/

I would like to reply to the above. I don’t do this with anger or resentment, or because I am partisan to Tenzin Wangdak, or that I belong to one side in this dispute. Anger, indignation, partiality and resentment will only entrench a position, and prevent any understanding or consideration of the other side. Anger, in particular, fogs the mind and obscures any rational and middle-way thinking.

In that spirit, I do hope you publish this reply. If you are sure of your views, there is nothing to fear in publishing those views that disagree with yours. For a discussion to proceed both positions must be aired. If for some reason you do not publish this reply, I will publish it elsewhere, together with your article for all to see.

In your very first sentence you prefix the title Dalai Lama with the derogatory “false.” You do this throughout the article, and indeed in most articles posted online and elsewhere you cannot refer to him without using this prefix. If you think that by bombarding the public and your followers with this appellation it will gradually come to be accepted as true, you woefully underestimate the intelligence of your target audience. You might think that if you say it enough it will be accepted as fact, but most intelligent readers will just become tired of it. Moreover, they will compare your assertion with what they know of the Dalai Lama from their own personal experience and observation of him, and rely upon that for their assessment of him, because mere name-calling is childish and baseless.

You might refute this by saying you have published a book “proving” that the Dalai Lama is a false incarnation. But it seems to me that this book is mere retaliation for the Dalai Lama labeling Shugden as a malevolent spirit or a ghost. You regard Shugden as a manifestation of Mañjuśrī, and so any denigration of him is not going to be taken kindly. (I know that Trijang Rinpoche and Phabongkha Rinpoche both proclaimed him thus but we can deal with that later). Just as the Dalai Lama addresses him as a worldly spirit or as Dölgyal, so you seek to retaliate by addressing the Dalai Lama as “false” in all mention of him. This is a childish way of dealing with criticism.

Your book, The False Dalai Lama, comes across as a predetermined conclusion seeking justification. You have already decided that he is false and so you set about finding “proof” to back up that claim. If that is not the case, and I am making baseless allegations, then why several years after the Dalai Lama stated his doubts about Shugden do you suddenly produce this book? Would you have produced it if the Dalai Lama had not said the things he did?

Moreover, the Dalai Lama has set out clearly reasons for his stance that Shugden is not an exclusive protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings or the Geluk tradition, not an emanation of Mañjuśrī, and that he is a spirit who does more harm than good. Therefore, your book seeks to mirror that process by setting out reasons why the Dalai Lama is not a genuine Tülku entrusted with the welfare of the Tibetan people, and not an emanation of Avalokiteśvara, and just a politician and dictator who harms the Tibetan people. Again, this just seems like childish tit for tat. Unable to deal with the criticism of your protector, you respond by lashing out instead of employing careful thought and consideration of the issues.

12029810_1621626281438205_4281468213525069386_oMoreover, look at the motivations for the Dalai Lama’s position on Shugden and your position on the Dalai Lama. He did not denigrate Shugden from some perceived slight, or out of resentment for what someone had said, or from any innate dislike of Shugden. He too was a believer in Shugden for many years. The doubts surfaced in the 70’s from circumstances that have been well documented elsewhere, and he felt it was his responsibility to act upon what he had discovered. He explained everything to Trijang Rinpoche before taking any action, because he felt his conscience would not allow him to do otherwise. Your motivations for deriding him as false, however, seem far removed from those. They appear to come from an open hostility to the Dalai Lama, and his public pronouncements on Shugden.

If you think for a minute that your book provides reliable proof of the Dalai Lama being false, and that it is a shining example of non-partisan, academic scholarship, then think again. This is not the place to go through the book chapter by chapter, but some of the reasoning is laughable. He is a Marxist? He is a Muslim? He lost his temper when he was a child? These are proofs? He is not a Marxist ideologue to the exclusion of everything else. He is first and foremost a Buddhist, and spends every morning from 3.30am onwards engaged in Buddhist practice, the most fundamental of which is going for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. He is a Buddhist monk and keeps his vows purely (despite your slanderous accusation of lying, which is a root downfall for a monk). Just because he expresses sympathy for Marxist economics does not disqualify him from being a Buddhist!

The book states that he lost his temper when he was a child, thereby casting doubt on his suitability as an emanation of Avalokiteśvara. Well, emanations of enlightened beings act in worldly ways, something that you would attest to when pronouncing Dorjé Shugden to be a manifestation of Mañjuśrī. However, if that is a reason for proclaiming the Dalai Lama to be false, then how false must Shugden be when engaging in killing and bring sickness to many lamas who “strayed” to Nyingma teachings? It is no good dismissing these allegations as “superstition,” as you do, because they are the claims of Trijang Rinpoche written down by Zemé Rinpoche in his Yellow Book. They are there for all to see. Trijang Rinpoche even repeats some of these in his own writings.

It is true that protectors sometimes engage in wrathful actions for good reasons, but to condemn as worldly a little boy for getting angry while justifying the violent actions of a protector as enlightened, or dismissing them as “old wife’s tales to stop Gelugpas from mixing traditions” as you do is a contradiction.

I am not even going to bother dealing with the allegation that the 14th Dalai of Tibet is in fact a Muslim!


ISC propaganda video by Gen Kelsang Rabten / Nicholas Pitts

Therefore, it is hard to escape the conclusion that this book is written out of spite, and any reason, no matter how flimsy, is thrown in to bolster an already predetermined outcome.

You say, “Dorjé Shugden is an emanation of Mañjuśrī and the principal protector of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings in this age.” Phabongkha Rinpoche and Dakpo Kalsang Khedrup, the author of the verses of praise that Trijang Rinpoche commented, did assert that Shugden was an emanation of Mañjuśrī, and consequently so did Trijang Rinpoche. However, before that most masters in the Sakya tradition, where devotion to Shugden began, regarded him as a powerful spirit. Moreover, several Geluk masters regarded him as a spirit. I realize that these are assertions with no back up of scriptural reference, but to do that would turn this article in to a lengthy book. One day such a book, well researched and complete with references, will be published.

However, for now this short response is to introduce the fact that there are doubts abut the claims surrounding Shugden. There have been doubts all throughout the past three hundred years, from his beginning as Drakpa Gyaltsen in the 17th century. All parties accept that Drakpa Gyaltsen was the origin of Shugden, but at that time, the 5th Dalai Lama and those around him had their doubts. You may dismiss the 5th Dalai Lama as being unaware of the activities of his Desi’s supposed involvement in Drakgyen’s murder, or even as being complicit in it, but the written evidence at that time, as opposed to hearsay and rumour, points to other explanations. There is even no written evidence at that time that Drakgyen was actually killed.

You back up the claim that Shugden is the principal protector of the Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings with a quote from Trijang Rinpoche’s commentary on Dakpo Kalsang Khedrup’s verses of praise to Dorjé Shugden, which states that the 11th Dalai Lama enthroned him as such together with the Chinese emperor. The 11th Dalai Lama passed away when he was only seventeen, hardly a mature age to be making decisions on who is the protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings. It is telling that you choose a Dalai Lama as an authoritative source to back up your position. You ignore the stances of the three most influential Dalai Lamas: the 5th, 13th and 14th , and hone in on a young Dalai Lama who almost certainly had little or no influence in affairs. But then these three Dalai Lamas don’t follow your views on Shugden and so they are denounced and ignored.

If you say that the mention of the 11th Dalai Lama as someone who enthroned Shugden was a comment made by Trijang Rinpoche, that is true, but one (among many) differences between you and Trijang Rinpoche is that he had the greatest of respect and devotion for all the Dalai Lamas. He didn’t cherry pick those who supported his views. In his commentary to these verses of praise he goes out of his way to show nothing but total respect to the Great Fifth. Moreover, in his works and teachings he repeatedly praised the 14th Dalai Lama, urging his disciples to dedicate themselves to him. If you claim you are followers of Trijang Rinpoche, why don’t you follow his advice?

You say that Trijang Rinpoche “regarded the upholding of the Shugden practice to be very important.” Maybe, but he also regarded devotion to the 14th Dalai Lama as very important. So why don’t you follow that advice too? You berate Tenzin Wangdak for not bowing to Trijang Rinpoche, but it seems that you don’t either.

You say that the reason Dorjé Shugden is preferable these days to Kālarūpa, Vaiśravana and six-armed Mahākāla is, “The Dharma Protector who has the strongest karmic connection with the practitioners of Lama Tsongkhapa’s tradition in this modern times is Dorjé Shugden. He is the one who is most able to help.” Really? And how does he help? By picking on those who practice any tradition other than the Geluk? These days in exile unity among the Tibetans is more important than ever. The last thing they want is some puritanical protector terrifying those who wander between spiritual traditions. Harmony between the main religious traditions is essential. Shugden hardly fits the role of a mediator or peace-bringer, does he?

If you respond by saying that it is the Dalai Lama who has caused divisions in the Tibetan community by introducing restrictions (no, not a ban) on Shugden practice, you should know that no-one has worked harder than him to bring all traditions together. Just look at his record in doing this since they arrived in exile. Just for once, be fair. Give him some credit. He has organized inter-tradition conferences, regularly welcomes, visits and shows respect to leaders of other traditions. He even included the Bon in Tibetan traditions. In teachings he will often try to bring the various philosophical traditions together (Dzokchen, Mahamudra, Mādhyamika) by unpicking the tradition-specific terminology and finding common ground. Isn’t this working for the unity of the Tibetan communities?

It was in this spirit of responsibility that he expressed his thoughts on Shugden. In 1975 the local Tibetans in Dharamshala were frightened to attend a Padma Saṃbhava offering ritual in the temple because they were afraid of what Shugden would do to them. Is this how Shugden helps? That was the catalyst for Dalai Lama’s embarking on an investigation into Shugden, culminating with the pronouncements he made. How can this be seen as anything other than a genuine concern for the unity of the Tibetan people? It is the unfortunate response of others that has caused the problems we have now.

These days in exile, and in the 21st century, the days of petty sectarianism are over. There is no place for each tradition to tightly cling to their own tradition to the exclusion of others. That may have worked in Tibet but not now in the modern world. The tradition of Tsongkhapa is open to everyone. The traditions of the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyü are open to everyone. Does Shugden facilitate that? If so, please let me know.

You say, “You are all lost and confused because you have broken your Guru devotion by abandoning your reliance on the great Masters of the Gelugpa tradition such as Je Pabongkhapa and Trijang Rinpoche. You don’t trust your Gurus, you trust politics.”

What nonsense this is. And what an insulting judgment to pass on others you don’t even know. Guru devotion (as in the Fifty Verses on the Guru) allows for disagreement with the guru on certain points, as long as that disagreement is not based on anger or prejudice. If it is allowed in guru devotion practice, it must be something that exists within that practice and does not constitute an abandonment of the guru. Ling Rinpoche said he regarded Phabongkha as a perfect Buddha but when the Shugden issue came up he was uneasy. Did he too abandon his guru? The Dalai Lama has said many times that he has never lost devotion for Trijang Rinpoche as his guru. However, you believe he is a false Dalai Lama, and so you wouldn’t believe him. It is very convenient for your position if the person you are disagreeing with is damned as unreliable from the outset, because then you don’t have to disprove anything he says, as to your eyes he is almost certainly lying!

Your insults such as “lost and confused,” “wrongheaded,” “betrayers and purveyors of wrong views,” (the last one sounds almost evangelical!) are built on the notion that people such as Tenzin Wangdak have abandoned and defame great Geluk masters such as Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche. But they have nothing but respect for these masters as great practitioners. And they also are devoted to the Dalai Lama. The only people who are denouncing great lamas are you and your group who regularly turn up at events where the Dalai Lama is speaking and engage in your childish chant of “False Dalai Lama stop lying!”

Your proof that Shugden does not punish people is that if he did, “the False Dalai Lama would be dead for all the harm he has done to Tibetan Buddhism in general and the Gelugpa tradition in particular.” Goodness, where did you learn logic? The reason is based on the assumption that the Dalai Lama is false and that he has caused harm. As these are not accepted by those you are aiming the logic at, it falls rather flat. I could just return the logic: Shugden has not harmed the Dalai Lama because he can’t, because he is not false, and because he has not harmed Buddhism.

However, as I said above, read the Yellow Book. It is full of terrifying punishments meted out to those who practiced Nyingma teachings. As I said before, sometimes protectors can be violent, but please don’t paint Shugden as portraying only a peaceful aspect. If, as you say, Shugden’s “fearsome reputation is superstition: old wife’s tales to stop Gelugpas from mixing traditions,” then you are tagging Trijang Rinpoche’s writing as “old wives’ tales,” and that would be denigrating the words of a great Geluk master, something you would never do, surely!

You say that Shugden followers have no religious freedom because they must choose between breaking away from Shugden and breaking commitment to their gurus, or risk being ostracized from their families. Thousands of Tibetans have given up their Shugden practice, and enjoy plenty of religious freedom. They are not breaking their samaya with their gurus, as explained above. Those who continue the practice are free to do so. That is their choice. If there has been discrimination against Shugden followers in the Tibetan community that is wrong.

But look at this. Buddhist practice takes place in the mind. What you do in your mind is your choice. No one can stop you, and no one knows what you are doing. Think back to those brave Tibetans who spent years in Chinese prisons. Did they suffer the loss of religious freedom you complain about? Or were they able to practice bravely in the privacy of their own minds, away from the vicious hands of the prison guards? Palden Gyatso (author of Fire Under the Snow) spent over thirty years in prison. He managed to practice love and compassion for his jailers. I know him and he has told me these things personally. Such people did not let the vicious oppression of the Chinese daunt them. They used it to further their practice. In the face of that I find your cries of persecution rather hollow.

Recently I met a western NKT nun here in the UK. She told me she had nothing to do with the politics of the Shugden issue, but quietly went about her devotions to Shugden. Does she not have religious freedom? Nobody was stopping her from doing her practice. As I said, if there are those in the Tibetan community who discriminate against Shugden practitioners, that is not right. But before they complain, think about Palden Gyatso.

You talk a bit about Tibetan history, in which you say that, “this practice has been passed down for three hundred and fifty years from Teacher to Student and was practiced by all the great Gelugpa Lamas and Sakya throne holders.”

Tibetan history is a hall of mirrors. You are never sure what you are looking at. The secretive nature of Tibetan society and its tendency for interpretation (outer, inner, secret, and so on) of events make it difficult, but not impossible, to come down on one side or the other. The Dorjé Shugden history site looks well researched, and I will take some time to read it.

However, it is not the case that ALL great Geluk lamas and Sakya throne holders practiced Shugden as you maintain. Moreover, much of the practice before Phabongkha centered on Shugden as a fierce worldly spirit, rather than an emanation of Mañjuśrī, even though the two may not be contradictory. Moreover, if this practice has been handed down for 350 years, that would mean it began around 1665, nine years or so after Drakpa Gyaltsen’s death. But the first recorded contact between a lama and Shugden was some 54 years after his death when he appeared before a Sakya Lama. Minor point maybe, but you would probably pick me up for it.

Maybe we should pool our research and thrash these issues out at a conference some time. What do you think? These points of history need to be sorted out in a calm and rational fashion.

You mention the murder of Ven. Losang Gyatso, and cast doubt on his killers being Shugden supporters. Yes, there have been no convictions, and without a trial it cannot be conclusively determined either way. But, come on. Is your doubt based on a fair appraisal of the available evidence or is it a product of your bias toward Shugden? You level the same charge at the Tibetan government, but is there no bias in your stance of attempting to exonerate Shugden supporters of this crime?

Having said that, I must declare an interest here. He was my teacher for eight years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. I owe him a great debt of gratitude. He allowed me, a layman, to enter the school and join in the classes and debate sessions. I value my time at that school highly. It helped me make sense of the Dharma. So maybe I am biased too, but look at the evidence.

He was indeed outspoken. Many in the Geluk tradition complained about him as you say. And who are the most puritanical of the Geluk? Who are those who would not take kindly to criticism of the tradition? He had received threats from the Dorje Shugden Charitable and Religious Society. This letter is for all to see. And what about the obscene letter received after the murder in which the sender asks if they enjoyed the three carcasses of meat as a Losar present, and that there would be more carcasses if the present practice is continued? Although it is not signed, the contents make it clear on whose behalf the letter is written.

You suggest that Namgyal Monastery might have committed the murder. Are you serious? Namgyal is the monastery of the Dalai Lama, who appointed Ven. Losang Gyatso as principal. What possible motive could they have? The proof offered is that there was a movie being played at Namgyal the night of the murder, and that this was unusual and could have been set up to drown out the noise of the act. Is this a serious piece of evidence!

The Indian press reported on the murders, quoting the police as clearly linking the murders to Shugden followers, and even naming four of the accused. The whole story of the taxi pursuit from Delhi and the phone call to the Dorje Shugden Society in Delhi is there. I will not go into detail here, as it is too lengthy, and this has been well documented. Also you could, and probably would, just dismiss it as uncorroborated, and so we would enter the back and forth process of discussion and argument.

In conclusion, your vilification of the Dalai Lama is unprecedented in the long history of this institution. Never before has there been such a focused attack on a Dalai Lama because of one particular action he has taken. Even if you disagree with his stance on Shugden, which of course you are perfectly entitled to, why then do you proceed to condemn the whole person with claims that he is a false incarnation, a liar, a mere politician, a harmer of the Geluk tradition, and so on. What excessive defamation just because of his stance on a particular protector. Have you never looked at the whole of his character, his dedication to world peace, the Tibet struggle? Are the hundreds of institutions who have showered awards upon him blind? Are the millions who revere him stupid? And are you, and Chinese communist party, the only ones who see the truth?

If you see someone as wholly bad because of one action that he or she has taken, then you will interpret everything they do as bad. Nobody can know everything about a person, but you can come down on one side or the other by looking at the whole person, not just one action he has committed, and making a sensible choice. I have been around the Dalai Lama since the early seventies. I have met him several times. I have taken teachings from him many times, I have examined what he teaches, I have observed him closely, and my conclusion is, at the very least he is an honourable man, an ethical person, a good monk, a kind hearted soul who puts others first, a great thinker, someone who takes his responsibility as Dalai Lama very seriously, and everyday tries tirelessly to put every Buddhist teaching he has learned into practice. How many of us can claim the same?

You could of course just dismiss me as a Dalai Lama cheerleader, and that is up to you. Or we could try and work this out, settle it once and for all. We could sit around a table and talk about it. A meeting was held in California recently. It didn’t get very far, because it was only the first one. But who knows what is possible if we only try?

Gavin Kilty
September 2015.

line-gothicGavin 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

Related posts

Is there no medical treatment for Shugden followers as Anti-Dalai Lama protesters claim?


by Carol McQuire

The latest ISC/NKT leaflet ‘evidence’ of prejudice against Shugden practitioners states that the Shugden monks and families in India do not get access to proper medical treatment. This is not the case. The actual situation is more complex and culturally distinct to the medical system the ISC/NKT are accustomed to.

In the the images of discrimination section of the ISC leaflet there is a picture of a sign supposedly at the Drepung Loseling Clinic at Mundgod Tibetan Settlement.

This image caption from the new ISC leaflet is totally misleading. The ban from entry into the monastery has not relation to the claim that health treatment is refused for Shugden proprietors.

Screen shot from the new ISC leaflet.

These signs are unfortunate as they can be easily misunderstood; all this means in practice is that Shar Gaden and Serpom monks use the clinic of their own colleges – just like every other Tibetan monk.

Through fundraising there are now 5 new clinics for monastics all providing the same services.

Each of the large Gelug Monasteries there (Gaden Shartse, Gaden Jangtse, Drepung Gomang, Drepung Loseling) has its own clinic providing basic medical care. They all use their own clinics.

It’s Tibetan style: Sera Jey monks go to the Sera Jey Clinic, Sera Mey monks to Sera Mey clinic. Penor Rinpoche’s Nyingma monastery has its own hospital. Ganden Jangtse monks  go to Jangtse clinic, Gaden Shartse to Shartse clinic.

Laypeople go to settlement clinics in either Bylakuppe or Mundgod, neither of which have signs at the moment.

Many monks prefer Indian GPs in the nearby towns to the clinics, as there are less wait times.

For anything beyond minor ailments all Tibetans are compelled to use Indian hospitals, which will treat anyone who can afford it, as the clinics are not equipped.

So the story that people are dying because of a sign at Loseling clinic is like most of the other stories the NKT/ISC present as evidence; inaccurate and misinformed.

As is so often the case, the ISC/NKT mix a little realism with exaggeration.


line-gothicSee also

Information by acknowledged academic authority

Update 21/09/15

Dalai Lama protesters & Shugden followers – Propaganda unlimited

Is there a need to go again into the bizarre, distorted and hateful propaganda spread worldwide either by the International Shugden Community (ISC) / New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) or the Indian and Singapore based organised pro Shugden campaigners?* Is there any need to address the hundreds of claims made by the organised pro Shugden campaigners on dozens of websites and blogs, press releases, tweeds, Facebook posts etc. they issue around the clock?

I would like to say, “No!” because for any person with some common sense and understanding of the issue it is hard to take the whole campaign seriously in any way or to find any creditability in it. However, the majority of the media worldwide seem to be still too naive or too busy or too uninformed (see Foreign Policy) so that they easily fall pray to the propaganda and human rights rhetoric of the campaigning Shugden groups … What ever the causes for the lack of care of so many journalists and media is, many of them have given the propaganda of the Shugden campaigners and their false or distorted claims a lot of space in their articles. By doing this they have provided a platform for the spread of propaganda and for bullying the Dalai Lama. I would be happy if this stops with the upcoming UK visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

For a tiny but clear glimpse into their propaganda universe here a quick overview*:

The claimed persecution of Shugden followers …

The claimed persecution of Shugden followers …

We had similar bizarre and untrue claims right from the start of the campaign in 2008. See for instance:

Joanne Clark unravelled a lot more of those distortions, outright lies and propaganda on her blog. Here a brief overview about this endless stream of misinformation:

But what about the young Tibetan whose finger were cut off? You can buy the mutilated hand online:



But what about the house set on fire? Well, for details see here:

Thanks to Steve Maxwell for his investigation about the mutilated hand!

See also

* It is not clear if those memes were made by Tsem Tulku and his followers (Kechara group) or Kelsang Gyatso and his followers (NKT/ISC). The memes of NKT/ISC are similar ridiculous but more focused on insulting and undermining the Dalai Lama – comparing the Dalai Lama with Hitler, portraying him as a pig etc. Whoever made the memes, NKT/ISC campaigners read such memes, believe in it, share it and use it as ‘evidence’ of discrimination. Such memes become a means to further fuel their fighting power (or aggression) against the Dalai Lama.

What does the Dalai Lama mean to a young Tibetan, grown up in occupied Tibet under Chinese rule?

One of Seven Billion Human Beings
by Jamyang Tashi 

“What does the Dalai Lama mean to you?” One of my American friends asked me this question about two years ago after we had a long conversation about the self-immolations inside Tibet that had reached media attention all over the world. My instant answer to my friend was: “It’s going to take a long time to talk about him”. It wasn’t an attempt to avoid answering but rather to see if he would be willing to listen to me explaining such a renowned person in my imperfect English. My answer had doubled my friend’s curiosity. He jerked forward and expectantly said, “Please, I have nothing but time”.

I realized that I had misunderstood his question. He wasn’t asking me to talk about the Dalai Lama. He wanted to know how I felt about the Dalai Lama. Oddly this was a new question to me. I began noticing the difference between telling who the Dalai Lama is and explaining what he means to me. I immediately found myself in a situation I had never been in before. To explain what the Dalai Lama meant to me didn’t seem to require knowing any of his biographical data but to recall my own life. At this point the question had become personal and I became very emotional, and couldn’t say anything while my friend was staring at me. I felt embarrassed not having an answer after I had told him that I had a long answer to his question. At the same time, I was getting worried that he was going to notice my internal struggle to hold down the stirring emotion that might burst out from my eyes. I can’t remember how long I had paused but at some point my friend said: “It’s ok. I think I can guess how much he means to you”. Part of me was relieved, but his question remained with me. What I am going to say below is a very common experience shared by thousands of Tibetans, and so if I had a purpose in writing such a common story, it would be for my non-Tibetan friends who are so curious about why I am so attached to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

– See the full story at: http://www.contactmagazine.net/dharamasla-life/one-seven-billion-human-beings

Dialogue with Dalai Lama protesters: What is the Dalai Lama lying about?

“Dalai Lama stop lying” – Which lie did he tell?

Many people wonder, why the Anti-Dalai Lama protesters (NKT via SSC, WSS, ISC) accuse His Holiness the Dalai Lama of lying or even of being a “very professional liar”. In fact, the Anti-Dalai Lama protesters are confused about this themselves. During the first wave of protest campaigns, from 1996–98, they accused the Dalai Lama to have lied about the following things, among others:

Berlin, Tempodrom, 8th June 1998. From 1996–1998 the New Kadampa Tradition organised world wide protests via Shugden Supporters Community (SSC). The big yellow banner reads: ‘Dalai Lama, please grant us religious freedom.’ From left to right the signs read (signs with the same slogan are listed only once): ‘Please stop ignoring human and religious freedom’, ‘Dorje Shugden is a Buddha of compassion, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is no wicked Chinese spirit, please don’t lie’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop to spreading lies’, ‘Dorje Shugden worship is no cult, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is not sectarian, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves all Buddhist traditions, stop spreading lies’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop spreading lies’, ‘These bodyguards helped the Dalai Lama on his escape from Chinese troops based on the Dalai Lama’s illegally ban they are now persecuted’.

Berlin, Tempodrom, 8th June 1998. From 1996–1998 the New Kadampa Tradition organised world wide protests via Shugden Supporters Community (SSC). The big yellow banner reads: ‘Dalai Lama, please grant us religious freedom.’
From left to right the signs read (signs with the same slogan are listed only once): ‘Please stop ignoring human and religious freedom’, ‘Dorje Shugden is a Buddha of compassion, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is no wicked Chinese spirit, please don’t lie’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop to spreading lies’, ‘Dorje Shugden worship is no cult, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is not sectarian, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves all Buddhist traditions, stop spreading lies’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop spreading lies’, ‘These bodyguards helped the Dalai Lama on his escape from Chinese troops based on the Dalai Lama’s illegally ban they are now persecuted’.

So, in the view of the protesters, the Dalai Lama lied because he holds different views than the protesters such as: that he does not see Shugden as a Buddha of Compassion – this is a lie, that Nyingmas have a problem with Shugden – this is a lie. [the former is an opinion or belief, the latter a fact]

Also, on the banner above words and claims are put into the mouth of the Dalai Lama that he never said – but this is a very common method used by the protesters, to mix untruths with semi-truths and some truths.

I was part of that campaign from 1996-98. Back then, the main reason why the Dalai Lama was considered a liar was because he stated that Shugden is a spirit and not a Buddha. This is why the German Buddhist Monastic Association (DBO) made clear in their statement:

Assertion: “The Dalai Lama is lying.” – Correction: To have a different perspective on Shugden than its devotees is not a lie, but the exercise of the right to have one’s own opinion.

The protesters cannot tolerate another person’s opinion. If the opinion differs from theirs, then they regard the other party as a liar. This is a confusion much ingrained into the whole campaign and their way of thinking.

Also media are accused of lying if they don’t agree with the protesters’ point of view.

Also media are liars if they don’t agree with the protesters’ point of view.

From 2008 onwards, the anti-Dalai Lama protesters repeated via WSS this initial “reason” for why the Dalai Lama is allegedly lying and blew it up. They now spoke of a “Big Lie”, a term that means in a monastic environment that a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun has lost his or her root vows (Parajika) and is no longer a monk or nun because of having lied about “supramundane attainments” such as realisation of a concentration (jhana) or emptiness etc.

Here is the PDF of the WSS website where the Dalai Lama protesters state:

The Big Lie

The Dalai Lama says Dorje Shugden is a harmful spirit.

For centuries, every great Master in the Buddhist Tradition passed down from Je Tsongkhapa, including the Dalai Lama’s root Guru Trijang Rinpoche, has revered Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being who helps sincere practitioners progress on the spiritual path by developing pure minds of love, compassion, and wisdom.

The Dalai Lama himself was trained in this tradition, and for 40 years relied upon Dorje Shugden, even composing a prayer of his own praising Dorje Shugden and requesting his help.

Then, suddenly in 1975 he abandoned the practice because he had ‘discovered’ Dorje Shugden was a harmful spirit!
Incredibly, we are being asked to believe that the Dalai Lama accidentally worshipped a harmful spirit for 40 years without noticing!

The protesters obviously cannot understand that human beings and spiritual masters can err and that they are able also to see their errors and to correct them. This seeing and correcting of one’s own errors is the very root of spiritual practice and any spiritual path and achievement. Even the Arhats of the Buddha made mistakes and erred, and even Je Tsongkhapa and Atisha (whose lineages they claim to uphold) saw their errors and corrected them.

From 2011 onwards the anti-Dalai Lama protesters invented new ideas for why the Dalai Lama allegedly lied. They claimed he lied because he said there is no (general) ban (which is factually correct), or because he lied about what his junior tutor (junior in rank) Trijang Rinpoche said to him. However, if you truly investigate these things and if you get to know and to see the context, it becomes clear: none of those things can be correctly considered a lie.

During the SOAS panel discussion in 2014, Rabten / Pitts – quite likely feeling the weakness of the previous “reason” why the Dalai Lama allegedly lied – offered a new “reason”:

He begins by quoting a statement from the Kashag in 1996 regarding the Dalai Lama’s restriction on Dolgyal (Shugden):

… the essence of His Holiness’s advice [to stop worship of Shugden] is that this propitiating Dolgyal does great harm to the cause of Tibet. It also imperils the life of the Dalai Lama.

Then Rabten / PItts comments:

Now, in this statement, the cause for Tibet refers to restoring the freedom of their country. So this statement by the Dalai Lama is at the root of the discrimination that  Shugden Buddhists have endured for the last thirty years. So I question whether any reasonable person could really believe that the reason the Chinese invaded Tibet is because some people were praying to Dorje Shugden. I question whether any reasonable person could really believe that the reason the Chinese continue to occupy Tibet is because of some people praying to Dorje Shugden. And I don’t think any reasonable person really believes the Dalai Lama’s life is in danger if people continue to follow their teacher’s advice by praying to Dorje Shugden.

So I would say none of these statements are true and when we say, “Stop lying,” these are the statements we’re referring to.

It’s not clear if Rabten is really so uninformed, incapable of putting himself into the shoes of others or just a grand manipulateur. The Dalai Lama’s statement is based on the sectarianism, disharmony and schism conjoined with Shugden worship or what he feels is at Shugden worship’s “root”. Sectarianism, schism and disharmony do “great harm to the cause of Tibet”.

It would be totally hypocritical to ask the Dalai Lama – who practices teachings from different Buddhist schools – to be the protector and guide of Tibetans and then propitiating Shugden who is praised by its propagators to kill, and shorten the life span of persons who are open and ecumenical as the Dalai Lama is, that’s why the Dalai Lama states “It also imperils the life of the Dalai Lama.” Martin Mills made clear that this is far from being heterodox:

Many Western observers of this issue find this last element of the Dalai Lama’s declaration surprising, but it is far from heterodox or arbitrary in terms of Tibetan Buddhist understandings of the place of lamas, or spiritual guides. The general Mahayana Buddhist view of higher teachers such as the Dalai Lama is that, as manifestations of Buddhahood, they appear only as a consequence of people’s good karma, and do so only to teach and guide other beings to liberation from samsara. As such, if people fail to take the advice of the spiritual guide, he simply withdraws his earthly presence. The present Dalai Lama had previously indicated that the matter of Shugden was decisive in this regard during the mid-1970s, when resistance to his reforms within the heart of the Tibetan Government-in-exile caused him to refuse their annual long-life offering, and to hint that there would not be a fifteenth Dalai Lama.

Rabten puts his own ideas and confusion into the mouth of His Holiness and criticises the Dalai Lama for his own projections instead of freeing himself from his confusion and projections.  – This is another deeply ingrained pattern of the protesters: they project their own confusion, hate, cultish group structure and sectarianism etc. onto the Dalai Lama, not seeing that what they attach to him are their own faults.


On 7th July 2015, representatives of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (OHHDL) invited the International Shugden Community (ISC) to meet and explain what they are accusing His Holiness of lying about. Nicholas Pitts / Kelsang Rabten and two other ISC representatives accepted the meeting and an discussion unfolded. See here what the official website of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has to say about this:

See also

Updated on July 13, 2015 3:13

What is faith or devotion in Buddhism? – Asanga/Abhidharmasammuccaya

Here is a brief introduction approaching to clarify the terms “faith” and “devotion” in Buddhism / Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. To clarify the terms “faith” and “devotion”, a sober definition from Buddhist scriptures is essential as a start for further investigation.

Faith and devotion are synonymous.

Faith / Devotion (skt. shraddha, tib. dad pa)

The essential key point is that faith has as its object an existent phenomenon. Also the faults of an object (like the faults of Samsara or the faults of delusions) can be the object of faith [they can be the objects of the faith of conviction but not the objects of the faith of wishing]; so, it needn’t be only existing qualities which are the objects of faith.

In the definition below given by Asanga in his Abhidharmasammuccaya one must pair the following types of faith with their respective objects:

(1) the mind of the faith of clarity (or inspirational faith) has as its object excellent qualities
(2) the mind of the faith of conviction has as its object existent phenomena
(3) the mind of the faith of wishing has as its object phenomena that have power/potential (one sees the potential and wishes to bring it to full maturation)

The faith of clarity is free of delusions and apprehends its object, which is really existent excellent qualities, therefore very clearly. This type of faith leads usually to a strong emotion; one is touched by what one has as the object of faith (e.g. the qualities of compassion, the qualities of concentration or the qualities of a person) and bodily responses can manifest like getting goose bumps, tears fill the eyes, the body hairs stand on end. That’s why it is also called “faith of inspiration”.

Here the explanation by Yeshe Gyaltsen from his Lorig Commentary (translated from the Tibetan by Toh Sze Gee)

[C1] Faith (dad pa)
Regarding the entity of faith, the Compendium of Knowledge [Asanga’s Abhidharmasammuccaya] says:

QUESTION: What is faith?
RESPONSE: It is a conviction, clarity, and wishing with respect to an existent that is endowed with excellent qualities and power. It has the function of acting as a support for aspiration.

Just as it has been said above, faith is a knower that has the aspect of conviction, clarity, or wishing, and it serves as the direct antidote for non-faith. When divided, faith is of three types:

1. clarifying faith,
2. faith of conviction and
3. wishing faith.

Clarifying faith is a clear mind engendered by seeing the excellent qualities of those so endowed, such as the Three Jewels. Why is it called “clarifying”? For example, when one places a water-purifying gem in dirty water, the murkiness of the water is immediately cleared away. Similarly, when this faith is generated, the murkiness of the mind is cleared away, whereupon all excellent qualities of realization become suitable to arise in one’s continuum.

Faith of conviction is the gaining of conviction through contemplating the modes of dependent-arising, cause and result, and so forth that are taught by the Conqueror.

Wishing faith, is, for instance, having contemplated the modes of the four noble truths, ascertained true sufferings and true origins as objects of abandonment, and true cessations and true paths as objects of attainment, and having understood that these can be attained if one makes the proper effort, the faith thinking, “I shall definitely obtain them.”

Here I have merely identified some illustrations of the three types of faith; it is not that all [instances] have been exhausted here. Nowadays, in our world, liking and faith are spoken of as if they are the same; liking beer is said to be “faith in beer,” but liking and faith are nevertheless not the same. Faith is by entity a virtuous mental factor, whereas liking has both virtuous and non-virtuous factors. If this is explained in detail, there are the four possibilities:

1. that which is liking but not faith
2. that which is faith but not liking
3. that which is both
4. that which is neither

The first, that which is liking but not faith is, for example, liking one’s son, one’s wife and so forth, and liking sources of misdeeds, such as drinking alcohol and eating meals after noon [when ordained].

The second, that which is faith but not liking is, for example, fear from one’s depths and faith of conviction regarding the drawbacks of the sufferings of cyclic existence.

That which is both faith and liking is, for example, faith from one’s depths and liking due to contemplating the excellent qualities of the spiritual guide and the benefits of wholesome actions and their results.

That which is neither faith nor liking is anger, suffering, and so forth.

QUALM: Well then, are liking and respect the same or are they different?
RESPONSE: Again, in the world we speak of them as if they are the same, but in fact they are not. Liking a spiritual friend is faith, but respect for him involves contemplating his kindness, knowing shame, and valuing him highly. Hence, when [liking and respect] arise in the continuum, they are separate mental factors.

If, in accordance with how they appear in the great treatises, you analyze these modes in detail with the wisdom of individual investigation, examining the way in which they are generated in the continuum by turning your mind inwards, then you will get to know them; you cannot know them merely through words. With these meanings in mind, the Foremost Omniscient [Tsong-kha-pa] repeatedly advises that, in order to perform wholehearted practice, you must rely upon a skilful spiritual friend and acquire much hearing on the meaning of the scriptures. However, nowadays, when these great textual systems are explained to foolish beings who are deprived of the gem of intelligence and are inferior in merit, they become frightened, terrified and flee faraway, as though a poisonous snake had sensed the odor of musk, or a little child had caught sight of a whirlpool.

Those who view the exalted speech of the great scholars and adepts from the Land of Superiors [i.e., India] as pith instructions seem like stars during daytime.
Here, the function of faith is specified as “acting as a support for aspiration,” because, as explained above, the cause of all excellent qualities is effort; in order to generate effort, one needs the aspiration that seeks; in order to generate aspiration, one needs to see the excellent qualities as well as possess the faith of conviction. For this reason, faith is praised more than once as the foundation of all virtuous qualities in the scriptures and their commentaries. In this vein, the Formulae of the Three Jewels’ Blaze (Ratnolka-dharani) also says:

“Faith is the forerunner, and, like a mother, is the procreator.
It guards and increases all excellent qualities.
It dispels doubts and frees you from the four great rivers[1],
Faith signifies the city of happiness and goodness.

Faith is without murkiness and clarifies the mind.
It abandons pride and is the root of respect.
Faith is a jewel, a treasure,
And the best of feet.
Like hands, it is the root of gathering virtue.”

Also the Ten Teachings Sutra (Dasa-dharmaka-sutra) says:

“Faith is the best of vehicles
Through which you will be guided and definitely emerge.
Therefore, intelligent people
Rely on following faith.

Wholesome qualities do not grow
In people who have no faith,
Just as green sprouts [do not grow]
From seeds scorched by fire.”

Thus, all wholesome qualities are companions of faith. [Shantideva’s] Compendium of Trainings (Siksasamuccaya), stating, “having made firm the root of faith,” also teaches that faith is the root of all paths. Even the Great Being, the Protector Nagarjuna, emphatically taught that faith is the foundation of all paths. With these meanings in mind, the Foremost Omniscient [Tsong-kha-pa] made the statement “Training in faith, the root” one of the outlines in his Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path, and stated that “the root of all happiness and goodness is the faith of conviction.”

[1] From the causal point of view, the four rivers are: (1) ignorance, (2) views, (3) existence, and (4) craving.
From the resultant point of view, they are: (1) birth, (2) aging, (3) sickness, and (4) death.

The key thing is to understand that faith in Buddhism doesn’t mean to project qualities onto animate or inanimate objects they don’t possess, and that faith includes to see the really existing faults of an animate or inanimate object, like the faults of Samsara.

Haribhadra (ca. 700–770) discriminates additionally between faith based on reasoning and faith not based on reasoning. The former is stable and the attribute of beings with sharp intellectual faculties and the latter is not stable and it is the attribute of beings with dull intellectual faculties. The Abhisamayalamkara and its commentaries explain that both types of person, sharp faculty Bodhisattvas and dull faculty Bodhisattvas, will reach their destiny.

This topic is quite complex and it has many consequences for Buddhist practice, spirituality and our society in general. A sober understanding and a careful thorough analysis of it, using different texts and angles, is therefore crucial.

To give some hints for further investigation & analysis:

  1. The meaning of faith includes to be able to see the really existing qualities in others, like to see the generosity of a child, the patience of person or the affection, compassion or care of an animal.
  2. Faith is the basis for striving and striving is the basis for joyous perseverance; from joyous perseverance comes the fulfillment of one’s wishes (Nagarjuna). If you suffer from the three types of laziness the right response is not to push and force yourself but to go back to cultivate faith in the qualities you are striving for, the more you are touched and moved by the qualities of the object you are striving for, the more you strive for it and the more joyous perseverance naturally will unfold to attain it.
  3. In western society we have lost somewhat to stress and to see real human values, like compassion, self-restrained, patience, generosity, contentment, respect, gratitude, a sense of caring for others etc. With this lack of focus on qualities and an overly emphasis on seeing and discussing the faults of others our western society tends towards to not see qualities therefore basis human qualities cannot be cultivated and will degenerate. That’s why, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s emphasis on secular ethics and science is a real gift to the western world with far reaching consequences for generations to come.
  4. Self-confidence arises naturally when one sees one’s own qualities and faults realistically as they are. This needs introspection and honesty. That’s why the Dalai Lama stresses correctly that self-confidence comes from honesty: “If you conduct your life on the basis of truth and honesty, it gives you a sense of satisfaction and self-confidence.” Compassion itself gives us also self-confidence because it makes more open and strong; strong enough to admit our faults. Again the Dalai Lama: “Kindness and compassion give rise to self-confidence, which in turn empowers us to be honest, truthful and transparent.”

In 2014 I had the honour to be part of the opening discussion about »Cultures of Faith« at the International Festival of Literature in Berlin. The Danish writer Janne Teller spoke about ethics, power and confidence in the context of writing and the South African Bishop Dr. Ndanganeni P. Phaswana spoke about reconciliation and the ubuntu philosophy, which forms the basis for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission held in South Africa. It was a very inspiring fruitful intercultural discussion about these topics.

Its really worth to dig deeply into these topics and not to be satisfied with a mere superficial understanding of the terms faith, trust, belief or confidence. As the Dalai Lama put it: We need to be 21st century Buddhists.

See also

The Anti-Dalai Lama Protests: Separating Fact From Fiction

by Linda Ciardiello

For about the last 18 months the Dalai Lama has been under sustained public attack from a group of mostly white westerners calling themselves the International Shugden Community (ISC), for alleged human rights abuses, supression of religious freedom and for causing a schism in the Tibetan Buddhist community.

The executive leadership of the ISC consists entirely of senior members and teachers of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), such as Nicholas Pitts, aka Kelsang Rabten, the National Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU) for New Zealand and Australia, residing currently in Hong Kong, who recently wrote a piece for the Lanchester Review.

His article was rife with accusations and insults against the Dalai Lama and against anyone who disagrees with the ISC’s critical stance towards him, such as The Guardian, Geshe Tashi and the International Campaign for Tibet – that they are all vitriolic, ill-informed or liars. Not only is the leadership of ISC made up entirely of NKT members, but likewise are the vast majority of its rank and file members. Given these facts about the leadership and membership of the ISC, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the ISC is effectively just the latest in a string of political front groups for the NKT, who have been openly targeting the Dalai Lama for attack since 1996.

The NKT/ISC protest close to the Guardian building in London. Only when The Guardian came under pressure themselves by protesters they started to seek advice by an academic expert. Here is the response to the NKT/ISC Guardian Campaign.

NKT/ISC protest close to the Guardian building in London on Jun2 27, 2015. Only when The Guardian came under pressure themselves by the protesters The Guardian started to seek advice by an academic expert. Here is their response to the NKT/ISC Guardian Campaign.

NKT members, both lay and ordained, are seen protesting at the highest volume they can muster, complete with dozens of drums and megaphones, displaying to the world a disrespect bordering on contempt towards the millions of Tibetans and others who revere the Dalai Lama as a great Buddhist teacher. To blur the image of only westerners’ engagement, the NKT brings in few Tibetans they gather from different places to place them in the front row.

At his recent talk in Aldershot Football Stadium, to which people flocked in their thousands, many ordinary and sincere Buddhists – westerners, Nepalis and Tibetans – were prevented from being able to hear and listen to the Dalai Lama speak, due to the huge cacophonous volume of the NKT protesters just outside the stadium gates.

The Dalai Lama and most of the attendees kept calm in the face of this provocation, but sadly a few lost their tempers afterwards with the protesters. Their angry reactions were caught on video and gleefully posted online by the ISC, in a manner reminiscent of psychopathic bullies who torment their victims and then gloat triumphantly at their visible pain.

So who are the NKT? Is there any truth in their allegations against the Dalai Lama? Or, as many of their critics claim, are these allegations more a case of projection of the faults of their own organisation and their own teacher, Kelsang Gyatso, onto the Dalai Lama?

So let’s start with the allegation that the Dalai Lama has created a schism in the Tibetan Buddhist community and restricts religious freedom. Actually, the New Kadampa Tradition itself formed after its founder created a schism in the fledgling FPMT Tibetan Buddhist community in the UK, to start his own “tradition” of Buddhism, which many critics and former members describe as a cult.

On the advice of the Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso was invited to teach at the FPMT’s Manjushri Centre in the 1970s, only to promptly repay this kindness by wresting control of the centre for himself and his own purposes, allegedly using shady means to achieve this (see the Good Night Lama transcript).

Having usurped control of Manjushri Centre he then set about restricting the religious freedom of its residents by banning the display of any photos of the Dalai Lama there and ordering the removal of all books from the centre’s library, other than his own.

Since its inception in 1991, all NKT bookshops stock books by one author only – Kelsang Gyatso. Anyone bringing other books into NKT centres are usually scolded and warned about the danger of polluting the “pure dharma” of Kelsang Gyatso. Any resident of Manjushri Centre who was not prepared to accept Kelsang Gyatso as their one and only teacher, to the exclusion of all other Buddhist teachers, was asked to leave. See the BBC’s documentary “An Unholy Row” for more details on this.

Nowadays, if an NKT centre resident studying on one of their programmes lets slip that they are also attending teachings from other Buddhist lamas, this will usually result in summary eviction from the centre. So if you value “religious freedom” joining the NKT is not recommended and the NKT’s charge that the Dalai Lama is a dictator who destroys religious freedom seems highly ironic, to say the least.

Now let’s examine some of Pitts allegations in his article.

He claims that the Dalai Lama “uses (his) position as a veil to conceal his true actions and intentions, exploiting his celebrity status to further his own personal and political ambitions.“

The problem with this claim has been pointed out by Gavin Kilty in his Open Letter to the New Kadampa Tradition already: “If he wanted power, why would he have voluntarily given up the title of political leader? Moreover, restricting the practice of this protector (Shugden) in no way accrues any more power to him.”

Because Pitts lacks a deep understanding of Tibetan history and Shugden history, not knowing or ignoring its sectarian and divisive character within Tibetan society, he has succumbed to sloppy conspiracy theory thinking, reducing the complex history of Shugden worship in Tibetan Buddhism and society to the false premises of simplistic black and white thinking.

What Pitts and the protesters fail to recognise is that the Dalai Lama, as spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, had no choice but to address the Shugden issue because of its divisive character, in the context of Tibetan society, and because of its marriage with sectarianism and Gelug exclusivism, at the cost of the other Tibetan religious schools. There is no academic paper, nor any established academic expert on Tibetan issues, who does not understand the need that the Dalai Lama had to address the Shugden issue.

Their inability to understand or consider the broader context of this issue, demonstrates that Pitts and the protesters cannot put themselves into the shoes of others, but instead view the matter from a narrow, parochial and selfish angle, that clings to its own likes, views and wishes, unable to see the whole picture, including the detrimental effects of Shugden worship for the unity of the Tibetan people.

Jens-Uwe Hartmann, Professor of Indology and Tibetology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, explains the dilemma of the Dalai Lama by pointing out, that this protective deity carries with it,

a constant potential for conflict, both within the Gelugpas and between the Gelugpas and the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The fact that Shugden is definitely not a protective deity for Tibetan Buddhism in its entirety, but that the followers of other schools reject it, and some even vehemently, is of the utmost importance in understanding the dilemma in which the Dalai Lama finds himself today.

According to Hartmann, the Dalai Lama’s “intentions accordingly can be interpreted as that he considers the balance between the different schools as a supreme good, rather than exclusively favoring his own school in the style of a party politician, and that he is even ready to pay for this a high price of massive conflict within his own school. Only by doing so would he be able to fulfill his stated claim to be the Dalai Lama of all Tibetans”.

Pitts and the protesters ignore these points. For them Shugden worship is seen as being as innocuous as “The Lord’s Prayer”, because Kelsang Gyatso has taught them a white-washed, sanitised version of the practice that sweeps under the carpet the aspects of it which inspire very real fear among many Tibetan Buddhists.

Given their wilful ignorance, in order to explain the Dalai Lama’s rejection of Shugden practice, it seems the NKT Buddhists can barely avoid constructing for themselves a conspiracy theory in which the Dalai Lama has a secret agenda, is an omnipotent and almighty ruler who is slavishly followed by dumb Tibetans, fearing to question him and who are brutally oppressed by this “worst dictator of the 21st century”.

Interestingly, the exiled Tibetans who live all over the world in freedom stream in their thousands to the Dalai Lama’s teachings. The vast majority of Tibetans love this “worst dictator of the 21st century” deeply, and are greatly offended by the actions of the protesters. Yet according to Pitts, probably the Dalai Lama has just manipulated them or maybe Tibetans are just stupid?

As Dr Nathan Hills from London’s SOAS pointed out:

This accusation [of suppressing freedom of religion] makes no sense … the Dalai Lama is not head of any state; he has no military or police at his command; he has no political jurisdiction over which he can exercise suppression. … Some members of the Gelug sect left the authority of the Dalai Lama in order to follow what they see as a purer form of religion. These people may not be very popular … but their human rights have not been violated, nor their freedoms suppressed; even if some people did want to suppress or silence the pro-Shugen side, they simply have no means of doing so.

Dr Nathan Hill is not alone in this assessment either. The protesters and some Shugden activists in India have taken their claims of human rights abuses to organisations like Amnesty International and the High Court of India, but no authority beyond themselves has found any evidence to back their claims of persecution and human rights abuses.

In fact, there exists a thriving minority of Tibetan monks in India who reject the Dalai Lama’s advice on Shugden. Contrary to the protesters oft-repeated claim, none of these monks were made homeless. The ISC circulate a deceptive propaganda video entitled “Exiles in Exile” which, complete with violin music, shows children wandering dusty streets with begging bowls, while the voice-over claims they are homeless due to the Dalai Lama’s “ban”. It turns out that the footage is of young Burmese monks doing traditional alms rounds, not Tibetan monks at all, let alone homeless Shugden monks. For the truth is no Shugden monks have been made homeless. The Shugden-worshipping and non-Shugden worshipping monks took a vote and decided, in effect, to “divorce”. Each group was given their fair share of monastic property and resources and the Shugden monasteries in India are now thriving, well-funded, beautiful places, by all accounts.

Nor have there been any police reports or independent media reports of any of the abuses they claim. On the other hand, there have been several police reports of attacks by Shugden worshippers on Dalai Lama followers and there are still Interpol Red Notices on two Shugden worshippers, wanted for questioning regarding murder crimes.

Amnesty International’s report could even be interpreted as a mild rebuke to the Shugden group, insofar as their campaign deflects media attention away from the very real persecution and abuse of human rights being suffered by Tibetans in Tibet at the hands of the Chinese regime there.

Pitts also alleges that the Dalai Lama has an “elaborate public relations machine, financed by the millions he shamefully earns from Buddha’s teachings”. This is just not true. On the Dalai Lama’s website it states “as a long-standing policy His Holiness the Dalai Lama does not accept any fees for his talks”.

Indeed, his teachings in India are free, with tea and bread generously served to attendees. Proceeds for events overseas are used to cover visit expenses with excess used by the host sponsors either for charitable purposes or to further their own mission. If you want to donate to the Dalai Lama, you will be directed to the Dalai Lama Trust, a charity which supports many causes. For example in 2013 it contributed $50,000 to the Red Cross Philippines typhoon relief effort. In 2012 $1,250,000 was donated to the Mind and Life Institute in Massachussetts, $10,000 to the New York Tibet Fund and $84,350 to the Tibetan Village project in Colorado. On the other hand, the NKT make no charitable donations at all to such causes.¹

For those who wish to be more informed on the issue based on facts, not on propagandist fiction, there are interviews with two established academics about the protests and the Shugden controversy available here:

Our call to the media is this: please be more careful and seek the expertise of the academic disciplines of Tibetology and Buddhist Studies when it comes to reporting on the complex religious, political and social issues of Tibet. There is already too much inaccurate information and confusion out there and it benefits nobody when the media helps spread extreme religious views without challenge.

¹ The White Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Joanne Clark


Linda Ciardiello is a former member of the New Kadampa Tradition. Linda Ciardiello also wrote How ‘Kadampa Buddhists’ (NKT) Use Systematic Fraud to Manipulate Twitter Trend Statistics.

Press coverage with a critical or an enlightening approach (chronological order)

Still worth a read

What is the Link Between the International Shugden Community (ISC) and the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)?

The zealous, successful and media savvy Anti-Dalai Lama campaigners try to push more and more the misleading claim that the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is not the power behind the International Shugden Community (ISC) and the international campaign they run via ISC “against the Dalai Lama directly”. (Geshe Kelsang Gyatso)

The reason why it is needed to hide this fact goes back mainly to the experience of the NKT leadership during their first wave of protests, from 1996 to 1998. During that time the NKT was clearly identified by the press/media as the organizers of the protest campaign and the NKT leadership and their followers didn’t deny it – though they had tried it.

The media response to the 1996-98 protests was so damaging to the NKT that its sole leader, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, publicly withdrew from his political engagement and promised not to engage again. He also apologised “sincerely” to those who were upset about a public letter he wrote. In an interview with his student Yvonne Nilles he said:

After the third demonstration, I strongly requested the members of the Shugden Supporters Community to stop all political activity immediately. Because I understood that HH would not accept, there was no meaning in continuing. I requested the people in Dharma Centers to forget all these politics and concentrate solely on their Dharma practice. In this way our activity lasted from May until July, only three months. This was my first experience of politics in this life. I pray that this will never happen again in the future.

The misleading and dishonest trial to hide behind a front organization during the current campaign and to cover up who is organizing the protests fulfills mainly three aims:

1) too stay free from the contradiction to go against the own former promises and public proclamations once made by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in different open letters to the press and elsewhere,

2) to avoid a similar financial and reputational damage as experienced while and after the 1996-98 campaign, and

3) to pretend to be truthful to not “mixing Dharma with politics” – a feature NKT claims to possess and that forms the very nucleus of the NKT identity and the NKT pride to be “purer” than “degenerated” Tibetan Buddhism.

In the following brief summary – Once and For All: Who’s Organizing the Protests? – Joanne Clark has kindly clarified the illogic nature of the claim that NKT is not behind the Anti Dalai Lama campaign.


If it weren’t so tragic and sad, I would find it funny to watch the Shugden community dance around their claim that the NKT are not the organizers of the protests against the Dalai Lama. Recently, an article in the Guardian stated:

The UK protests are being organised by the New Kadampa Tradition, which emerged in the 1990s and now has nearly 50 centres in the UK promoting Shugden practices.

This has caused something of an uproar within the Shugden community, who claim that while NKT members do participate in the protests, so do members of other Shugden worshipping groups– and that proves that the NKT don’t organize the protests. So what is the truth?

First, as this article discloses clearly, there is no doubt whatsoever that the International Shugden Community (ISC) is an NKT organization. Given that all the leaders of the ISC are NKT teachers and senior members, it is only the name that distinguishes the ISC from being a mere branch of the NKT.

As a friend of mine recently observed:

The point is if the NKT removed themselves from the ISC equation what shape would these demos take: No spokesperson, no organizers, 95% of demonstrators absent, no printed banners, no transport, no food or lodging THEY WOULD SIMPLY NOT HAPPEN

Nonetheless, the NKT still claim that the two organizations are independent of each other– still claim that the NKT keep politics and dharma separate. However, they do struggle with keeping this boundary straight!

For example, in 2014, the SOAS University of London held a conference on the Shugden controversy. Kelsang Rabten (AKA Nicholas Pitts) was one of the speakers. He introduced himself as a representative of the International Shugden Community. And he concluded his talk with a list of demands that the protesters would need the Dalai Lama to address before the protests would stop. So he was clearly identifying himself as an ISC leader, organizer of the protests.

However, on the screen he was identified as “NKT Representative”:

“Good Evening, my name is Rabten. I’m here tonight as one of the representatives of the International Shugden Community, a not-for-profit organization registered in the United States.”– Notice on the screen is written “Kelsang Rabten/ NKT Representative.”

In fact, I came upon a discussion under the YouTube version of this conference in which someone commented on the fact that Rabten was a representative of the NKT. Rabten replied, “I’m not an NKT representative.” Whereupon the other commenter pointed out the label on the screen. Shortly afterwards, the comments were removed!

Indeed, Rabten is a senior teacher in the NKT; he is resident teacher of the NKT HongKong Center. He is also spokesperson for the ISC, appearing in media outlets. So who does he represent? Why is such a fuss made to separate the ISC from the NKT? One of the dances he has made recently in order to separate the two is to change his name to Nicholas Pitts while representing the ISC and back again to Kelsang Rabten while teaching for the NKT! He wears a suit to represent the ISC and robes to represent the NKT. Is that honest?

[The following paragraph and two screenshots are an addition placed June 29, 2015]

In fact, Rabten is not the only one struggling to keep his hats straight. As the following screenshots demonstrate, the Heruka Kadampa Meditation Centre (NKT Centre) and the ISC letterhead shown on one of the protest websites both sport the same address, 13 Woodstock Rd., Golders Green, London, NW11 8ES!

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.27.41 AM

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 8.28.46 AM

And here is another demonstration of confusion over this issue within the Shugden community. Here is a screen shot (Taken June 19, 2015) of Kelsang Khyenrab stating that the NKT have “never” organized the protests:

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 3.49.10 PM

Investigation clearly shows that Khyenrab is not telling the truth here. In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph on July 15, 1996, Kelsang Gyatso himself is introduced by the journalist as having “masterminded the protests.” And Kelsang Gyatso is quoted as saying:

There is no point in us [he and the Dalai Lama] meeting. He will reject what I say. He will never agree. Demonstrations are our only outlet.

And in this interview that Kelsang Gyatso gave to Tricycle Magazine, published in Spring of 1998, he makes no effort to hide his and the NKT’s involvement in the protests, but speaks openly about his intentions regarding the protests.

Nonetheless, the habit of subterfuge was evident even in those early days of protest, as evidenced in an article written by The Independent in 1996. In this article, the journalist interviewed two members of a group calling themselves the “Shugden Supporters Community,” Ruth and Ron Lister. According to The Independent, this community were “central figures in an unprecedented attack on the Dalai Lama and [were] among the organisers of demonstrations against him planned for his visit to this country”

What is particularly striking to me in the interview is one passage:

Ron Lister and his wife claimed to not to be members of the NKT, but merely “concerned Buddhists”. However, when I went to use the telephone in the hall, I noticed that the first number on their speed dial was for “Geshe-la”, as the devotees of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso call their guru; later I discovered that Ron and Ruth Lister had edited the first of Geshe Kelsang’s books to be published in English, and Geshe Kelsang himself told me that he had accompanied Ron Lister on his “fact-finding” tour round India to find evidence of the Dalai Lama’s alleged persecutions.

The more one digs into this story, the more everything comes back to the NKT, a sect founded by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in the late 1970s after he gained control of the Buddhist centre at Coniston Priory in Cumbria from a rival Buddhist organization …

Sadly, this sounds so familiar. It appears that the protests and the smear campaign against the Dalai Lama have been shrouded in a lack of transparency from their inception! And it also seems that what is relevant in that 1996 interview is relevant today. One can only wonder how many ISC leaders today might also have direct speed dial lines to Geshe-la– or his equivalent?

However, it was only after the 1996 protests that Kelsang Gyatso decided to officially separate organization of the protests away from official NKT control.  Here is a statement from him to the Washington Times:

… in October 1998 we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue because we realized that in reality this is a Tibetan political problem and not the problem of Buddhism in general or the NKT. We made our decision public at this time — everyone knows the NKT and myself completely stopped being involved in this Shugden issue at all levels.

Unfortunately, the NKT did NOT stop being involved in “this Shugden issue at all levels.” So there is still confusion and trouble about that statement of Kelsang Gyatso’s. Perhaps in an effort to help mitigate all the confusion, the Western Shugden Society (WSS) was then created when the NKT decided they did, in fact, want to be involved in this Shugden issue again. The WSS became  the official “organizer” of the 2008 round of protests. But that separation as well was not without disturbing ambivalence. In this letter from the Bodhisattva Buddhist Center, dated 6 September, 2008, and signed by resident teacher Kelsang Nyingpo, there seems to be no separation between the NKT and the WSS at all!

Welcome to Bodhisattva Centre

You may be interested to visit the following websites for further information about our Centre, our tradition – the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), the WSS:

Bodhisattva Buddhist Centre Website: http://www.meditateinbrighton.com

NKT website: http://www.kadarnpa.org

Westem Shugden Society website: http://www.westernshugdensociety.org

And http://www.newkadampatruth.org for information about the NKT and our side of the story!!

And here are some observations of life within the NKT as they prepared for the 2008 demonstrations during the Annual Buddhist Summer Festival of that same year: This is from the New Kadampa Survivor Forum:

I went to the festival or should I say political extremism gone mad. There were posters everywhere you looked, recruiting for the French demo against His Holiness. They were on all doors 2 a time inside and out. In all rooms, hallways. On mobile cooking points, walls and outbuildings. Even on the temple wall. The chapel was used as a meeting point. Even more posters! The walls were covered as were the doors and tables! Mein Gott! K.G. called it a Spiritual holiday to practise dharma. It felt like a BNP political rally. Not National Front. […]

The ordained, although they have not taken ordination vows were sitting round tables watching videos of themselves at the demos! Attachment? Some told me they were prepared to use violence. Hatred? Why? Geshe-la wants us to win at all costs. Confusion? They have truly been poisoned. […] I found the whole thing quite perverse. G.K giving an empowerment of Avalokiteshvara while before and after festival gathering and organising his Stormtroopers to attack the Living Embodiment of Avalokiteshvara? For an individual to use such an important time in peoples lives to suit his own ignorance I found quite disturbing and sad. With His Holiness at least we have hope for the future.

This was confirmed by another observer:

Yes, they are gathering forces for their all expenses paid trip to France. Not with my money, they aint! I’ve seen people going to demos (quite new to Dharma) with a literal string of criminal convictions to call HHDL a hypocrite and a liar. Who are the hypocrites? The NKT does nothing else for wider society: this is their whole raison d’etre to keep DS practise alive. This, folks, is their real ‘hidden’ agenda. Shameful.

And Kelsang N, an NKT nun, stated on her blog:

Of the demonstrations against the Dalai Lama – Not surprisingly, mixed feelings abound, but overall people are feeling very positive about what’s happening. The vast majority of people I talked to had gotten to attend at least one demonstration, and most of them had very positive, meaningful experiences, echoing what my own Sangha buddies had said. But naturally, not everyone is so happy about what’s happening. What I did not hear was anyone who thought that the Dalai Lama’s actions are ethical or in the right. But what I did hear are people who are unsure if this is the correct response, and, disturbingly, I also heard stories of people feeling “pushed” by their local Resident Teacher to participate in the demonstrations. (see HappyNKTer’s webblog – PDF file)

And as stated on that blog entry, this nun

confirmed further at her happynkter webblog that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is the initiator of the protests and views himself as the only remaining representative of Trijang Rinpoche.

Indeed, the confusion about the alleged separation of NKT and WSS continued throughout those 2008 protests. For example, as seen here, Lucy James was allegedly removed from her teaching position by Kelsang Gyatso when she complained about the amount of involvement the NKT had with the protests, concerned that it was mixing politics with dharma. And to truly sum up all the ambivalence and crazy dance that prevails within the NKT there is a letter on that link from Kelsang Gyatso to his students which states:

To stop this evil action, [of the Dalai Lama] as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, 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.

Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need.

So Kelsang Gyatso was representative of the WSS? Perhaps he’s now representative of the ISC? In fact, a recent Facebook conversation on a public group (see PDF) reveals that Kelsang Gyatso – and the NKT! – are still very much the driving force behind the demonstrations. The conversation began with a post by NKT student, Simon Drye, in which he asks people to address some of his concerns about the protests. It is beyond my scope here to talk about Simon’s concerns (which are good ones!), but some of the responses to his concerns are very illuminating:

Will Smith: I don’t know about all of that. It’s very simple in my mind. I just try to do what my Root Guru, Venerable Geshe Kelsang, asks of me, such as to demonstrate, and have faith that he knows because he is Buddha. For the rest of it we pray for the best out …

So according to Will, Kelsang Gyatso is still behind the protests?! And here’s another, from Kelsang Pagpa:

Kelsang Pagpa: There’s no question in Venerable Geshe-la’s mind that without the protests, Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition will be destroyed by the false Dalai Lama. That’s good enough for me and trumps any other considerations.

So according to Pagpa as well, senior teacher in the NKT, Geshe-la is behind the mandate to NKT to protest! And here’s another comment from Pagpa in full recruitment mode:

Kelsang Pagpa: My question to everyone who is resisting being involved in the protests is: if no one protests the Dalai Lama and he succeeds in destroying our tradition (he’s trying very hard to do so), how will you feel about having done nothing? …

And another statement from Pagpa, indicating that Geshe-la is the orchestrator of the protests:

Kelsang Pagpa It doesn’t matter what we think – it’s what Geshe-la sees that counts. I trust his judgement, everything else is secondary. What do I know?

But most important of all, coming from a senior teacher of the NKT is this instruction that practice is not enough – we have to protest as well! We have to mix politics and dharma.

Kelsang Pagpa: I think it’s a big misconception to think that all we have to do is keep our head down and keep practising and everything will be a-okay. Don’t you think that if that was the case the protests wouldn’t be necessary?

And finally this  statement, this time by Evelyn, describing “special classes” on the protests given by the ISC spokesperson himself, Kelsang Rabten [Nicholas Pitts], in the NKT Hong Kong center:

Evelyn Tang: Janice Njoo Kelsang Pagpa in hong Kong we did have two special classes arranged before the protest. One is by Kelsang Rabten and one is hy Kelsang Tonglam. I guess you may request if you think your centre need one like this to dispel confusion.

It seems that the ISC and the WSS are just figureheads, just ways to fool the public into believing that the NKT aren’t centrally involved in the protests. The ISC/WSS are something like telephone booths fitted with superman suits. NKT leaders, teachers and devoted followers hop into the booths and put on their ISC/WSS suits and then they shout “False Dalai Lama, stop lying” and go and speak to the press. Then they write outraged letters to the Guardian about any suggestion that the NKT might be organizing the protests.

And this is the dance of subterfuge. This is all simply so that the NKT can tell their members, the public and other organizations that they are true to their mission of being non-political, of not mixing Dharma and politics – and have no role in organizing the demonstrations.

I call this dishonest. I call the outcry now occurring in response to the Guardian news article dishonest. It’s time to simply come clear.

Last updated on June 23, 2015



kelsang pagpa protests dalai lamaOn July 1, 2015, Kelsang Pagpa, former director of Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Center, hinted who is in charge for the protests: “Your Resident Teacher or your centre is the best place to make enquires about the protests.”

See also

Statement of Buddhist Organisations in the UK on the Protests against His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the International Shugden Community/ New Kadampa Tradition

London Wednesday 17th June 2015

We the undersigned UK Buddhist Organisations formally dissociate ourselves from the protests against His Holiness the Dalai Lama which are being staged by the International Shugden Community/New Kadampa Tradition.

We remain convinced that differences of opinion among Buddhists should be expressed in a peaceful, respectful, truthful and reasonable manner. We are very concerned about the protestors’ aggressive, misleading and unethical behaviour and the false image being presented to the public.

The UK Buddhist Organisations signed up to this statement express their respect and support for His Holiness’ stance on promoting wider religious harmony between the religious traditions and on promoting mutual respect and admiration between the Buddhist traditions. The UK Tibetan Buddhist Organisations signed up to this statement further express their complete confidence in His Holiness the Dalai Lama and in his advice on the divisive and dangerous nature of the worship of Dholgyal/ Shugden.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is committed to promoting religious harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions, and mutual respect and admiration across the Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Given this position His Holiness has taken a strong stance when it comes to sectarian intolerance.

The Dholgyal/ Shugden controversy

The propitiation and worship of Shugden has a long history of sectarian disharmony between the Geluk (1) and the other Tibetan traditions. Given this history, and at this crucial time for the future of Tibetan Buddhism when the need is for greater harmony and co-operation, His Holiness has advised of the negative influences of this sectarian and divisive practice, and has asked his students not to propitiate or worship this entity. Whether or not his advice is heeded, His Holiness has made clear, is a matter for the individual to decide (2). Contrary to the protesters’ claims, His Holiness has not banned this practice. He has neither the power nor the authority to do so. Neither Amnesty International (1998) nor the Supreme Court in Delhi (2010) was able to ascertain a violation of human rights when checking on claims that Shugden devotees have been subject to systematic discrimination and infringement of their human rights within the exile Community.

Who are the International Shugden Community/ New Kadampa Tradition?

Since early 2014 a highly sectarian group calling itself the International Shugden Community (ISC) has been staging aggressive protests during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits to America, Australia and Europe. The ISC is the latest in a series of front organisations set up by members connected to the Ulverston, Cumbria based UK religious charity known as the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), itself under the guidance of Kelsang Gyatso (3). This highly materially successful group claiming 1,200 groups worldwide has a long history of antagonism to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and rejects his authority.

The NKT is composed in the main of non-Tibetans who have little or no ability to speak or read Tibetan language and therefore little or no access to Tibetan Buddhist culture except through the writings of their supreme leader Kelsang Gyatso.

Though following an ethnic Tibetan teacher and utilising Tibetan Buddhist methods the NKT does not count itself as a Tibetan Buddhist Organisation, which leads one to wonder why they do not simply ignore the Dalai Lama, in the same way that protestant Christians generally ignore what His Holiness the Pope says.

What is the aim of the ISC/ NKT?

The aim of the International Shugden Community/ New Kadampa Tradition is to destroy the religious and moral authority of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This also suits the Chinese Communist Party very well, a fact noted as far back as 1996 in Madeleine Bunting’s article of 6 July 1996 entitled “Shadow Boxing on the Path to Nirvana” (4).

Notes for Editors

(1) There are four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, the oldest the Nyingma (8th century), then the two newer ones the Sakya and Kagyu (11th/ 12th centuries), with the most recent the Geluk (14th/ 15th centuries). There is an even more ancient tradition, that of Bon, and a number of surviving smaller schools.
(2) The Dalai Lama’s advice on Dholgyal/ Shugden can be found on his official website http://www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden
(3) More information on the history of these front organisations (International Shugden Community 2014 – 2015, Western Shugden Society 2008 – 2014, Shugden Supporters Committee) and of the New Kadampa Tradition itself and its Supreme Leader Kelsang Gyatso can be found on Tibetan Buddhism in the West http://info-buddhism.com/Western_Shugden_Society_unlocked.html
(4) Shadow Boxing on the Path to Nirvana by Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian London 6 July 1996 “The SSC’s [Shugden Supporters Committee] campaign against the Dalai Lama is a dream scenario for the Chinese Government. In 1993, they decided their best tactic for Tibet, this most troublesome province of the People’s Republic, was to divide the Tibetans among
themselves. Eighteen months ago, Chinese documents began to appear undermining the Dalai Lama as a religious authority, indicating a shift of strategy. The SSC insist in their press releases that they have no connection with the Chinese. But are they inadvertently doing the Chinese’s work for them?”

Signatory Buddhist Organisations
The Awakened Heart Sangha
The Buddhist Society
Lelung Dharma Centre
Lam Rim Wales
Lam Rim (Wilts and Glos)
Bodhicarya (West Sussex)
Bodhicarya (Somerset)
Samye Dzong
Cham Tse Ling Preston
FPMT UK (Jamyang Leeds, Thogme Zangpo Findhorn, Yeshe Buddhist Group Cumbria,
Jamyang Leeds, Jamyang Liverpool, Saraswati Buddhist Group, Jamyang Bath, Jamyang
Mindrol-ling Coventry, Jamyang Salisbury, Jamyang London)

Source: http://www.jamyang.co.uk/index.php/component/content/article/10-news/112-statement


Nicholas Pitts / Kelsang Rabten

LEFT: Nicholas Pitts / Kelsang Rabten, “a pure disciple who has trained under the guidance of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for over 20 years.”

See also

The Guardian / The Independent

Indy Hack – the tools of a “journalist”

“IndyHack” runs the site arebuddhistsracist.com. The site obviously aims to denounce and slander anybody correcting the false allegations, spins and exaggerations of the NKT/ISC Anti Dalai Lama campaign – including scientists, academic institutions, and former NKT followers. “IndyHack” claims to be a journalist and even a member of the UK’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ). The last days he tried to blackmail and divide former NKT followers by sending them emails of the following kind of sort. (Posted with kind permission of the recipients.)

On 4th June 2015 he wrote to Lynne:

Dear Lynne,

I have been given your details by sources within your anti-ISC group. Some of your members have wisely decided to help with my research rather than risk being exposed along with Carol and Tenzin. I am hoping that you will also see the benefit in co-operating with me.

You will by now understand that Carol and Tenzin both work on behalf of the CTA. Tenzin is a direct employee of theirs whilst Carol assists with his work in return for certain favours, such as her recent meeting with the Dalai Lama.

You should also by now be realising that the story is ‘out’ in the mainstream media regarding the Dalai Lama’s ban. I am presently in Australia working with key outlets and if you take a look at the coverage you will see that it is now much more significant than ever before.

Whether the Dalai Lama changes his view or not the story will grow and I hope that you will help with my own angles on it, otherwise I’m afraid that you will be one of the key members of the movement who will be exposed along with Carol and Tenzin.

I have been passed a large quantity of online communications between members of your anti-ISC group. Several of these involve you directly and I would like your co-operation to verify these messages and their content.

I would also like for you to help with verifying certain key pieces of information that relate to both Carol and Tenzin, although these do not directly mention you.

The details I would like your help with relate to certain events in the last 10 months. They also refer to future plans which are presently under development.

Whilst I already have a lot of information I find it better to triangulate its accuracy using multiple sources rather than relying on one or two people alone. For this reason your help would be most beneficial.

In return I would redact your name from the information and ensure that you are left out of any articles. In short, I would cease to treat you as a person of interest in my work – future and past. For instance I would not reveal that you are the operator of the @kelseylotus Twitter account.

I am sure that your direct involvement with some of the Twitter campaigns targeting ISC members would not go down too well if they were exposed. Coquitlam is a fairly small city and their local media may find your involvement in some of the online hate campaigns somewhat unusual and worthy of coverage.

If you help me you would be able to continue your campaign and I would not mention your involvement in any articles/tweets. I would effectively turn a blind eye to your involvement with any future activities in return for your assistance.

Whatever your decision I would like to assure you that at no time will I reveal details of your residential address, phone number, or email accounts. These have been provided to me by sources on the basis of my agreeing not to release them into the public domain. Whether you decide to help or not these will remain confidential.

Let me know what you think.


On Tuesday, June 16, 2015 2:28 PM, Indy Hack <press@arebuddhistsracist.com> wrote:

Dear David,
Whilst you may not wish to face the fact that Tenzin lied to you about York Johns it may be easier for you to understand another of his deceptions.

My recent article shows that whilst Tenzin claimed to be on retreat in India this year, he was in fact re-designing his websites in conjunction with the Central Tibetan Authority.

He posted several messages to a web design forum in January and February 2015 discussing how he was adapting his websites to be mobile compliant. He also discussed his new re-design for the info-buddhism website and asked for advice on certain aspects of web design coding for it.

Prior to travelling to India he knew he would be re-designing his websites whilst over there so he took his laptop with him. The products he was discussing and asking for advice on were made for Adobe Dreamweaver by a company called Project Seven Developments. This indicates that he had his computer with him that had his copy of Adobe Dreamweaver installed on it along with the Project Seven plugins.

He also discussed how he was testing his websites on iPads and an iPhone during the time he told you and other survivors that he was on retreat.

You can read the full article here:

This is the last time I will contact you. I don’t wish to cause you upset, but I do want you to know that Tenzin has lied to you and other ex-NKT members.

I don’t know how fully you are able to accept that Tenzin has deceived you, whether you are ready to accept the truth about York Johns and Tenzin’s manipulation of the survivors group. However it should be fairly easy for you to accept and understand that he lied to many ex-NKT members this year when he said he was on retreat and offline.

He was in fact at the CTA’s main offices working with them to redesign his websites. This is why he took his laptop with him and it is why he was discussing web designs for several of his sites throughout January and February.

Best wishes for the future,

Independently examining the implications of the Tibetan government ban of areligious practice on the Tibetan community in exile and the wider Buddhist community of Dorje Shugden practitioners.

Here is the NUJ Code of Conduct.


Update June 19, 2015

Tibetan Community UK Statement Concerning The Protests Against The Dalai Lama


Issued by Tibetan Community in Britain on 12 June 2015

  • Since early 2014, a sectarian group, the International Shugden Community (ISC), has been staging aggressive public protests during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits to the West. This group is a front organisation of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), a group of religious extremists based in the UK with a known history of antagonism towards the Dalai Lama.[1]
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama is committed to promoting religious harmony and understanding among the different Buddhist schools, and between the world’s major religious traditions. Given this commitment, His Holiness takes a strong position when it comes to sectarian intolerance.
  • In Tibetan Buddhist history, Dolgyal (Shugden) practice has a long association with extremism and causing sectarian disharmony. As a result, His Holiness has advised his followers of the negative consequences of this divisive practice and has discouraged Dolgyal followers from attending his teachings. He has not ‘banned’ the practice as the demonstrators claim. His Holiness has repeatedly said: “It’s my moral responsibility to tell others what I believe to be beneficial or harmful. In the end, it’s up to each individual to decide whether or not they heed my advice.”[2]

NKT followers are mostly non-Tibetan Westerners in monks’ and nuns’ robes. Increasingly, they have adopted aggressive strategies to undermine the Dalai Lama across the world, in the form of social media campaigns and public demonstrations outside teachings and talks by His Holiness.

In doing so, the International Shugden Community has aligned itself with the Chinese Communist Party authorities in Tibet, which are engaged in a systematic ideological campaign against the exiled Tibetan religious leader; a key element of their policies aimed at undermining Tibetan religion and culture.[3] In Tibet, Dolgyal worship is actively financed and promoted as a means of dividing Tibetans and of undermining the Buddhist religion. Discouraging worship of the spirit is now a criminal offence in Tibet, for which one man was recently imprisoned for 10 years.

Clearly aware that the main allegations of its demonstrators are easily disproven, the ISC has made increasingly outrageous claims against His HolinessISC propaganda for instance, features an offensive depiction of the Dalai Lama as a pig. And appearing to believe it is an insult to characterize someone as a ‘Muslim’, the Dalai Lama is described by the ISC as a ‘Muslim masquerading as a Buddhist’, and, echoing the allegations of the Chinese government in Beijing, is also compared to Hitler.[4]

The Tibetan Community in Britain is deeply distressed by this inflammatory and extremist campaign against His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one of the world’s most respected religious teachers and the beloved leader of the Tibetan people. We condemn the protests and baseless allegations against His Holiness made by Dolgyal Shugden organisations. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest respect and confidence in His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his advice on the dangerous nature of the practice of Dolgyal Shugden.

Allegations of the International Shugden Community demonstrators

  • The demonstrators allege that His Holiness has ‘banned’ Dolgyal worship, but have failed to provide any evidence for this ‘ban’ – because it does not exist. Since the Dolgyal devotees do not acknowledge His Holiness the Dalai Lama as an authority, they are free to simply ignore his advice. In reality, devotees continue practicing freely, both privately and in Dolgyal monasteries and temples in India, Nepal and in NKT communities in the West.
  • The majority of monasteries in exile, based on democratic majority decisions and their monastic rules, have decided against this practice. Monks who wish to continue the practice of Dolgyal worship have formed two new monasteries in South India and were provided with land, property and funds by the two parent monasteries. They refused to accept Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala’s monthly allowance for the monks in the Tibetan monasteries.
  • The NKT/ISC alleges His Holiness is “restricting religious freedom”. Historically however, the main function of Dolgyal practice has been to prevent open-minded Buddhists from studying outside their own school’s teachings, in other words, restricting religious freedom.

Geshe Tashi la, Spiritual Director at Jamyang Buddhist Centre advises members of Tibetan Community to show restraint against misguided Shugden followers

Further information and contacts

“Shugden: A History” by the Shugden Research Society, published by Tibet House, New York, US, 2014 [Available via Amazon]

Also see


[1] Over the past few years, the Home Office-funded research group ‘Inform‘, whose task is to provide the UK-Government, NGOs and the public with neutral information on New Religious Movements, has received more queries about the NKT annually than any other organization.

[2] See: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice concerning Dolgyal (Shugden): http://www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden/his-holiness-advice

[3] In 2014 the Chinese government issued a new internal directive, promoting propitiation of the controversial Tibetan Buddhist spirit in a bid to further discredit the Dalai Lama: http://www.savetibet.org/chinas-new-directive-on-controversial-shugden-spirit-in-tibet-in-bid-to-further-discredit-dalai-lama/#sthash.6cNWqTMX.dpuf

[4] Even former members of the organisation, who describe themselves as ‘survivors’, have condemned the ISC demonstrators for making “completely unwarranted allegations and insults” against His Holiness: http://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2014/09/26/revised-declaration-from-new-kadampa-survivors-concerning-the-demonstrations-against-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama/



Tibetan Community UK is a non-governmental community-based organisation. Its affairs are run by a democratically elected Council Members on pro bono service. The Council Members, who serve a two-year term, organise cultural and socio-political events for members and friends of Tibet. We also work with UK-based Tibet-related organisations as well as Tibetan Communities (currently across 15 countries) in Europe  towards creating a greater awareness of Tibet’s political and human rights situation.

Read more …

www.tibetancommunityuk.net | Statement

New design & new articles about NKT, Hitler’s letters to Reting, Vinaya etc. + Revised articles about the NKT “Kadampas”, Geshe Kelsang & Shugden

Bildschirmfoto 2015-06-09 um 15.57.40

After about 18 months of hard work, with the kind support of friends, I am happy (and somewhat relieved) to announce the revision and redesign of the site http://www.info-buddhism.com.

Key objectives were to create a modern and fresh design, to use more images because visitors complained about the lack of visual stimuli, to make it mobile device able (responsive), to add new articles, to revise existent articles, and to make it social media able – up to now I was not very interested in using social media, but I have had to learn that there is no way to ignore social media if you want to reach people.

Kadampa-Buddhism-Modern-Geshe-la-3bEspecially the revisions of the New Kadampa TraditionGeshe Kelsang Gytaso and the Shugden Controversy article might be worth reading.

Feedback and constructive criticism is welcomed.



Shugden Protests During The Dalai Lama Australia Tour: The Dalai Lama, A Profaning, Nazi-Loving Muslim Dictator?

The final point he makes is that the Dalai Lama is often accused by the pro-Shugden side as suppressing freedom of religion. “This accusation makes no sense,” states Dr Hill. “The Dalai Lama is not head of any state; he has no military or police at his command; he has no political jurisdiction over which he can exercise suppression.” – Prof. Dr. Nathan Hill in The Foreigner

You might have noted that there appeared some questionable press articles during the Australia tour of the 14th Dalai Lama – especially by The Guardian and The Sidney Morning Herald – who gave ISC spokes person Nicholas Pitts / Kelsang Rabten – a platform for his strange allegations without consulting any independent academic expert. In a way, its the naïvety and lack of responsibility and care of these media that give so much space to a controversial fringe group that uses Scientology-tactics to misinform the public, allowing them to abuse their media platform as a means to attack their perceived enemy.

However, if you are interested in a well researched newspaper article about the Anti Dalai Lama protesters and the Shugden controversy, since 2008 it is Foreign Policy which has published the most thoroughly investigated article. How could this happen? Because the journalist did not allow himself to be carried away by time pressure, lack of expertise or sensationalist greed etc. but instead he took time to investigate the topic carefully and in depth. Journalist Isaac Stone Fish spoke with all sides and he relied on an academic expert of contemporary Tibetan politics, Robert Barnett (Columbia University):

It is quite sad to see – once again – that also during the Dalai Lama’s Australia tour most of the media lack time and effort to do their work and that the press team of the Office of H.H. the Dalai Lama appears to be not very effective to get out sober information and to really correct the wrong claims by addressing them directly.

However, here is a funny video comment by the “China Uncensored” YouTube-Channel, that gives the visual summary and an appropriate comment to the ISC claims which scientists called more or less “non-sense” and Foreign Policy called “absurd”:

Update June 12, 2015

ABC News posted two well investigated articles ‘Zealous’ supporters of minority Buddhist sect target Dalai Lama and Explained: Who are the Shugden Buddhists criticising the Dalai Lama? for which they interviewed Dr. David Templeman, a Tibetan history scholar at Monash University’s Asia Institute and Professor John Powers from the Australian National University who corrected the ISC claims and put the whole issue into perspective.

“The Dalai Lama Truth” – Dalai Lama Protesters Cannot Bear The Truth

Bildschirmfoto 2015-06-03 um 12.59.51

Someone sent me a copy and paste from the New Kadampa Tradition’s (NKT) “Dalai Lama Truth” Facebook page. There is a post that reads:

Dalai Lama brings his religious discrimination to Australia

Buddhists will be protesting the Dalai Lama this week when he visits the Blue Mountains on his “Ocean of Wisdom” tour, accusing him of hypocrisy, intolerance and persecution. The protesters will appeal to the Dalai Lama to live up to his reputation as a human rights advocate and end his campaign of persecution against Shugden Buddhists.

See these images of discriminatory notices barring access to Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden, in India – and now on the website for the Dalai Lama’s 2015 Australian tour! This is a direct result of the False Dalai Lama’s illegal and unethical ban on this centuries-old Buddhist practice.

The comments unfolded as follows:

  • Iain Macfarlane how do you know he is the false dalai lama?Seems a little harsh
    1 · 12 hrs
    • Alison Dubois I’m no expert. I believe the current Dali was “chosen” by the government, not by the traditional Buddhist spiritual methods. The “Chosen” Dali is not currently accessible. I’m not clear where he is.
    • Iain Macfarlane ok,as a membver of nkt i think we are barking up the wrong tree however,the best way to discredit dl is to point out that he got advive concerning ds from the nechung oracele,this oracle tolg tibetan soldiers that british bullets wouldnt hurt them,so hasnt exactly got a good track record

If you know the Shugden stuff and Tibetan history well you can easily see that the commentators suffer from serious misinformation and a thorough lack of knowledge. Since you cannot argue with the NKT campaigners by relying on facts, history, academic sources, or sober reasons and arguments or by quoting what other Tibetan Buddhist masters have to say about this, I wondered if the NKT is tolerant enough to accept a correction by a source that they should consider to be their “holiest source of information”. Hence I made a test and wrote a longer comment quoting their most holy guru, the “root guru” of their “root guru”, the unfailing and omniscient, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche:

Bildschirmfoto 2015-06-03 um 01.59.21Why are you so ignorant and why are you not knowing the facts? The Dalai Lama was chosen by using the traditional methods and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche confirmed himself (written down by Zemey Rinpoche) that he is the right Dalai Lama:

“His Holiness the Thirteenth Dalai Lama passed away in the water-bird year. For about two months the Prime Minister and the Kashag held the responsibility of the Government. After that the General Assembly nominated the Reting Rinpoche, Gaden throne Holder Yeshi Palden and Yongzin Phurchok Jamgon Rinpoche for the regency. The Reting Rinpoche’s name was confirmed with traditional tests were done in front of Lord Avaloketeshvara in the Potala Palace. Accordingly he was enthroned as the Regent on the 10th day of the first month of the wood-dog year.

Thus he held the responsibility to head the Gaden Phodrang, the Tibetan Government. He took particular interest in the construction of the tomb of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and the search for the next reincarnation. He personally went to the precious lake and saw the visions which gave clear signals of the reincarnation. He then recognized and enthroned the right reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Those were indeed some of his wonderful deeds.”

(see the Yellow Book)

Not only this Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche wrote himself:

“There is something I must mention at this point. As stated above, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and Omniscient Panchen Rinpoche were like Lords of the Teachings. In actuality they are, respectively, Arya Avalokiteswara and Buddha Amitabha emanating in the human form of special holy beings. Yet this Lord of Dharma Protectors exhibited an ability to harm or destroy them, and such events as the Great Fifth, having been able to summon this Dharmapala to be burned with intense samadhi but not accomplish it, also shows that the enlightening activities of these great masters and those of this Dharmapala are each as mutually universal and pervasive as the other. But some who are narrow minded, not understanding this point, consider this Dharmapala to be like an ordinary worldly being and, with supposed faith in the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, disparage him; or else they indeed admire this great Dharmapala but criticize the Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama. Using either one as a reason not to admire the other and speaking badly about either in any way is the conduct of an ordinary being who, under the influence of attachment and hatred, just tries to help friends and hurt enemies; it obscures the increase of these great holy Aryas’ deeds and creates the karmic cause to experience unbearable suffering in the future. Why is this true? Because it is utterly impossible that such great beings, who are special emanations of Arya Avalokiteswara and Buddha Amitabha, could lack the power to overcome the harmful force of any sort of magical spell, harmful demon, or spirit. This is because they are both powerful Lords who have overcome external and internal maras without exception.”

(see Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors)

I deliberately didn’t add any link so that they don’t feel disturbed having a link on their page to any source that is not their own.

However, the “Dalai Lama Truth” page failed my “tolerance test” and deleted not only my comment but also the comment by Iain who wondered “how do you know he is the false dalai lama?Seems a little harsh”.

To hear the voice of the “root guru”, Trijang Rinpoche, of the NKT followers’ “root guru”, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, seems to have become unbearable and unacceptable for NKT devotees who claim to be Trijang Rinpoche’s heirs. After the voice of the Dalai Lama became unbearable for the NKT leadership and their followers their delusions lead them now even so far that the voice of the “root guru” of their “root guru” became unbearable and unacceptable – something to be deleted, eradicated and brushed under the carpet.

Michelangelo_Caravaggio_065If you examine more closely it becomes evident that the NKT world became a constant echoe of their own images, voices and views. It is what happened to Narcissus who was carried away by his beauty and pride. Like under the spell of Nemesis the NKT Narcissists see in all their writings, blogs, websites, placards, images, cartoons, and protests only their own view, a distorted reflection of reality, and fell in love with it, not realizing it is merely an idea – and factual even wrong. Similar to Narcissus, who was unable to leave the beauty of his reflection in the water and drowned, the NKT Narcissists are drowning in their own imaginations and views about Shugden and the “false Dalai Lama” and wonder still “Why doesn’t the world wake up?”, failing to see that it is they who have to wake up and not others.

Good morning!

PS: Funnily, the site is named an “Education Website”. I agree, they need some education ;-)

See also

Why did the 14th Dalai Lama change his stance on Dorje Shugden / Dholgyal?

Some great learned and spiritually evolved persons have proclaimed (Gyalchen Dorje Shugden / Dhol-gyal) as a valid protector and even in their personal lives they have achieved amazing success; there are such persons to this day who we can see for ourselves. On the other hand as I told you just a while ago, the story of Gyalchen has been murky since quite early time. It is because of this that I have had to explain the situation and suggest some restrictions. However, I have not done this for political reasons or other purposes. – HH the 14th Dalai Lama (1980)

Introductory note: In the following four talks, given in 1978, 1980 and 1983, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, explains in detail what events, circumstances, reasons and investigations caused him to change his stance on Dorje Shugden / Dhol-gyal. Though these four talks comprise about 46 DIN A4 pages it is really worth reading them because they offer plenty of information and details that are not known to many. It becomes clear while reading it that the Dalai Lama was extremely cautious and careful with this subject matter and didn’t take it lightly in any way. – Tenpel

Background of the first talk: This talk was given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama concerning Shugden Practice on 13th July 1978 (at his residence ) to a group of people comprising the Ven. Lobsang Nyima, the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Geshe Loten, monk officials and twenty two senior monks of Namgyal Monastery, five senior monks of Nechung Monastery, two teachers of the Dialectic School, two monk-representatives, each from the branches of the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges at Dharamsala, and Rato Kyongla Tulku and Nyagre Kelsang Yeshi, both resident in America, who were admitted by special permission. This is a transcribed and edited version of the talks, which was approved by His Holiness after he had made a number of modifications and additions.


Today, I want to tell you a story, because lately, there has been some discussion about Gyalchen Shugden, and I thought I should make some comments about it to you Namgyal and Nechung monks. As you know, there have recently been some changes concerning Gyalchen Shugden and I thought I should explain the actual and the real situation concerning these changes in the beginning, middle and end. I discussed it with Kushab Khenpo (Ven. Lobsang Dhondup 1911- 1977), but no one except him had any knowledge of this until today.

The origin of Gyalchen: As related in the Praise of Dependent Arising (bstod-‘brel) of His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (1901-1981), Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen (1619-1656) was the origin. It is my view that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen’s instinctive behavior and ways of thinking were good. I have looked at his Collected Works which also contain his secret biography. He seems to have been good in his studies and to have had a gentle subdued mind. In his biography there are a few Guru Yoga texts, one of which has Buddha Shakyamuni in the centre and around him: Guru Rinpoche (9th century) surrounded by the Guru lineage of the Nyingma Order; Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158) surrounded by the Guru lineage of the Sakya Order; Marpa (1012-1097), Mila (1052-1Í35) and Dagpo (1079-1161) – surrounded by the Guru lineage of Kagyud Order; Je Rinpoche (1357-1419) and his two spiritual sons surrounded by the Gurus of Gelug Order; in the front, are his root gurus Panchen Lobsang Chogyan (1668-1737) and the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), from whom he had received teachings directly; such was the arrangement of the merit-field. During the actual seven-limped rite of making prostration, rejoicing and so forth in relation to this, teachings of past Sakya, Gelug, Kagyud and Nyingma masters are summarized and it is explained that one should pay homage and recite eulogies through recollecting their qualities. At the conclusion, he explains that a boundless crime based on contemporary sectarianism produces causes to be thrown into bad realms and that he had written this Guru Yoga deliberately to avoid such negative results. Having seen that, I thought it was good. Usually, Gyalchen is considered a biased deity, however, since there was this account in the Collected Works of Dragpa Gyaltsen, I thought it was good.

In the Collected Works of His Holiness Sonam Gyatso (the Third Dalai Lama 1543-1588), it is related that, at one time, when the young Rinpoche was playing with water in his private apartment Drung Sung Rabpa, an attendant, disapproved and rebuked the young Rinpoche. When the young Rinpoche paid no heed, the attendant said, “Panchen Sonam Dragpa (1273-1345) will take care of me, I shall go to the upper residence”.

This statement is actually quoted. In view of this, it seems that there were two residences, (bla-brang), the so called lower residence of the Dalai Lama and the upper residence of those of the lineage of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, both of whom seem to have been quite famous. As a result of this it seems certain there were petty conflicts between the staff of the two residences.

The Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682)

The Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682)

In one section of the biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), there is an account of his once spending a week in retreat and preparing to perform the Mashi ritual on the day of an eclipse. That morning he felt very sluggish and his meditation session remained unpleasant. On the same day a message was received unexpectedly that the Tulku of the upper residence was sick. When His Holiness the Fifth Dalai Lama visited him, he saw that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen had been seized by an evil spirit and had lost consciousness.

His Holiness also stated clearly that the sluggishness in his own body have been the result of a similar attack (gdon-grib). If you go through the biography of His Holiness the Second Dalai Lama, Gedun Gyatso (1475-1542), it seems that Nas Nying Gyalpo (a local deity from Nas Nying, Tsang) had some influence on the lineage of Dalai Lamas. Moreover, although it is not stated in the biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, according to common tradition, it is believed that Dragpa Gyaltsen was killed by stuffing his mouth with scarves. There is also an account that in, one of the previous incarnations of the lineage of Dragpa Gyaltsen, Nechung caused this to happen. Since these appear in the common texts, I need not explain them in detail.

Anyway, according to common knowledge, it is said that a relationship developed between the Fifth, Dalai Lama and Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen and that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen arose in a wrathful aspect; such is the common belief. It is further said in the general Collected Works of Fifth Dalai Lama that Dol Gyalchen displayed a strong miraculous power. There is an account that in order to repress this the Fifth Dalai Lama himself performed wrathful rituals. Similarly, it seems that in the same connection that Rigzin Terdag Lingpa of Mindol Ling monastery and Rigzin Pema Trinley of Dorje Drag performed two Fire-rituals simultaneously, one at E-WAM and the other at Potala. It is mentioned, in the Collected Works of Rigzin Pema Trinley, that during this wrathful rite which was deliberately aimed to annihilate Dol Gyalchen people actually smelt the odor of raw meat burning. From then on (Dol Gyalchen) was captured for ever. This is one story.

Another account has it that Se-trab (bse-khrab) rescued Gyalchen and therefore he could not be burnt. Again, another common story tells that after Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen arose in a wrathful aspect, he went to Tashi Lhunpo because he was a disciple of Panchen Lobsang Chogyan. However, he was unable to get into Tashi Lhunpo, which was guarded strictly by the Namse Ta Dag Gyad (rnam-sras rta bdag brgyad) protectors. This is a point which warrants consideration. At that time, Panchen Lobsang Chogyan, who was the head of the Gelug Order, was residing at Tashi Lhunpo monastery and if his disciple Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen had arisen in his wrathful aspect, then Namtho-Se (rnam-thos-sras), one of the guardians of the three types of disciples should have escorted and welcomed him as commanded by Je-Rinpoche. Anyway for whatever reason, when he went to meet his Lama he was unable to do so and met with difficulties. At that time it seems that a hierarch of the Sakya Order seeing some purpose in doing so, took care of Gyalchen and so Gyalchen came to form a relationship with the Sakya Order. This is one version of events.

Now, Tsang Yang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706) was a strong Nyingma practitioner, and during his reign the tradition of the Fifth Dalai Lama remained healthy. Subsequently, the Seventh Dalai Lama followed purely the Gelug Order, in which case he ought to have had a connection with Gyalchen, yet there is no mention of such a relationship in his Collected Works. Since then there had been no Dalai Lama until my predecessor who seems to have had any connection with Gyalchen.

There is another story that when either Tsultrim Gyatso, the Eighth Dalai Lama (1758-1804) or Lungtog Gyatso, the Ninth Dalai Lama (1805-1815), was traveling through Kham, Gyalchen came through his medium and sought an audience with him. This a story from the very place. Beyond this, Gyalchen has had no particular connection with the lineage of Dalai Lamas. It seems that during the time of Panchen Lobsang Yeshi (1668-1737) there wasn’t any connection and consequently, even during the time of Panchen Palden Yeshi (1738-1780) there probably was not any connection. I don’t know how the situation stood during the life of Panchen Tenpai Nyima (1782- 1853), but there is an account that during the life of Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk (1855-1882) there was some rivalry between him and Gyalchen. I do not know how this happened, but it may be that either he first propitiated Gyalchen and then late they became rivals or that their rivalry occurred without their having any connection to begin with.

The 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876–1933).

The 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876–1933).

During the reign of my predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (1876-1933), the performance of many deity-mediums were banned and in particular the Gyalchen medium was banned quite strongly. However, he did not ban Gyalchen’s performance from Lhasa Trode Khangsar, although it seems, he issued a legal warning to the public. In those days, the ban was strictly enforced even in Drepung and thus, the only image of Gyalchen in the Drepung Tantric College had to be removed. It was traditional for the monks of Drepung Tantric College to blow conches and trumpets while summoning Gyalchen and this was also banned. Similarly, in Ganden too those who propitiated Gyalchen were rigorously warned against doing do.

Just after the Thirteenth Dalai Lama banned this practice, the Ganden Throne-holder, who was either Minyag Ami or Yeshi Wangden relentlessly applied the law and so it occurred that even in Ganden propitiation of Gyalchen had to be carried out very secretly. This is what happened during the reign of my predecessor, the previous Dalai Lama.

Then, I make a mistake. If you ask what that mistake was? It was that I was unable to follow the exclusive tradition of the previous Dalai Lamas. Moreover, when I went to Dromo, I had to stay at Dromo Dunkar monastery, where there was a tradition of summoning the wrathful and peaceful aspects of Gyalchen through the medium of a monk. The medium himself wasn’t a particularly good scholar, but when the deity was summoned he seems to have given clear prophesies, which was much appreciated. It had so happened that I had left Lhasa for Dromo rather hurriedly and the mediums of Nechung and Gadong were not among the entourage.

In those days, I did not have a close connection with either Nechung or Gadong, such that I would summon them in my private apartment, except that they were invoked during the summer, winter and annual ceremonies. In any case, until then had been a growing child and it goes without saying that I could not think independently about deity devotion; in fact I could not even think about things in general that much. However, it was on that occasion that neither Nechung nor Gadong were with me, although it was a crucial juncture in negotiations between Tibet and China. Amongst the officials there were those who wanted me to return to Lhasa and those who wanted me to go to India and so it became very difficult for me to decide.

Pabongkha Rinpoche (1878–1944)

Pabongkha Rinpoche (1878–1944)

At this crucial point there was, for one thing, a good monk medium nearby and, for another, my strong faith in Je-Phabong Kha, because of which I felt a close bond with him. Also, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had a strong affection for me and this was a further cause. Anyway, with the coincidence of many causes I finally had to summon Gyalchen in my apartment at Dromo. While summoning him, the monks chanted the Hundred Deities of the Joyous Land (dga’a-ldan lha-grgya-ma) to the tune of Sangphu monastery. In the course of the actual performance the medium wore yellow robes, chogo and namjar, and a pandit’s hat in which he looked quite eminent. Facing towards me, he prostrated like a felled tree. When asked for predictions and advice, he answered fairly clearly. Once he said, “I have just come from Tushita after enquiring of Je-Rinpoche”. Everything seemed to be fairly well resolved. Then, while returning from Dromo to Lhasa my intention to propitiate Gyalchen increased and consequently I summoned the wrathful Shugden in the main hall of Dunkar monastery and I offered him a new costume. This is how my relationship with Gyalchen developed at the beginning. This was the first time that the Fourteenth Dalai Lama made a mistake, not being able to stand on my own two feet I didn’t follow the path shown by the previous Dalai Lamas.

During the regency of Kyabje Tagdrag Rinpoche (1874-1951), Geshe Tsewang Samdrub let monks perform the wrathful ceremony of Bhairava at Chagpori and Chensel Lingkha, and when I had already left for Dromo, Geshe Samdrub performed the ceremonies of increase and power and he deliberately sent their mystic wheels (‘phrul-‘khor) to me at Dromo. In this way I developed some connection with Geshe Samdrub. Later I returned to Lhasa.

Jampa Choesang, the chief attendant, was a very close friend of Geshe Tsewang Samdrub, who lived at Chagsam. Choekhor Yangtse’s Gyalchen Choje, presently at Mundgod, and Geshe Tsewang Samdrub also seemed to be very close friends. Because of these relationships, I once received a prediction from Choekhor Yangtse’s Gyalchen via Geshe Tsewang Samdrub and my chief attendant, Jampa Choesang. Subsequently, I used to send my servants back and forth to Geshe Tsewang Samdrub through my chief attendant Jampa Choesang with enquiries for prediction. In this way I requested predictions from Choekhor Yangtse Gyaltsen quite often through Geshe Tsewang Samdrub. At that time, in accordance with the counsel of Choekhor Yangtse Gyalchen, the Bhairava, Rigjema and Kalacakra statues at Lhasa Shol were erected. In the same period during one of the monk medium’s trances, he said, “Next year on the third day of the Tibetan New Year you must offer a grand invocation ceremony to me, and if you do so there will definitely be an omen to examine”. Thus, on the third day of the first month of the Tibetan New Year, after performing the Tsetor ritual and making dough-ball offerings to Lhamo in the morning, an extensive invocation prayer to Gyalchen was chanted. As there was then neither a thanka nor a statue of Gyalchen in my apartment, I borrowed a thanka of Gyalchen from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and hung it up.

That night I had a dream in which I saw a few yaks and Serchen flowers under an overcast sky on the lawn behind the Mahakala chapel at Norbu Linkha. I saw the Esteemed Abbot (Ven. Lobsang Dhondup) holding a golden scoop filled with melted butter. This was a good sign, but the yaks I had seen raised some doubts. When I reflected on this now, the yaks probably represented evil portents (dam-sri). This was my dream. From then onwards until the year before last (1975) an extensive invocation ceremony was offered to Gyalchen annually, on the third day of the first Tibetan month. Subsequently, a new thanka of Gyalchen was painted, a copy of the one owned by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. This is also mentioned in the biography of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.

Then, one day, in order to examine the Choekhor Yangtse Gyalchen, I sent a letter in accordance with the usual custom for consulting him, in which I did not write the meaning explicitly but wrote it secretly in cypher. The reply returned also written in cypher which was not very clear, but it appeared that the meaning could be inferred if one wished to do so, which indicated his dissatisfaction. From then onwards I had no further connection with that medium nor did I summon Choekhor Yangtse’s Gyalchen. I may have requested an invocation rite once or twice, through Trijang Rinpoche but otherwise there has been no special connection. I offered a grand invocation ceremony to Gyalchen on the third of the first Tibetan month and usually as a part of my daily recitation, I recite the invocation prayers of Gonpo, Cheokyong, Lhamo, Namse, Zhal, Chamsing and Gyalpo Kun-nga concluded by the words: “Rang Nyid Yi-dam…..” and so forth from the invocation of Gyalchen. So this has been about my connection with Gyalchen at the beginning and in the middle.

Sometime back, during the life of the previous Dalai Lama (13th), in one of his declarations Nechung said, “You have neglected the indispensable black stupa, but white-washed the rock unnecessarily”. Likewise, I did not cultivate a special relationship with Gyalpo Kun-nga in general, nor specifically with Dorjee Dragden who had a long standing connection with the lineage of Dalai Lamas, which can be traced back to the Tibetan King, Choegyal Trisong Deutsen and even further to a relationship with Gyalpo Kunchog Bang. On the top of this it seemed, that I was cultivating a relationship with a new deity who had no responsibility to the Tibetan Government and no relationship with the lineage of the Dalai Lamas.

However, just before I left for China I began summoning both Nechung and Gadong in my private apartment. Since then, through summoning them we have gradually become close and well acquainted with each other and their predictions have also become more precise. This is because, as the common saying goes, “the deity and the people have the same habits”, and consulting them became quite convenient. Since then, from a practical point of view, it has been unnecessary to maintain a relationship with Choekhor Yangtse‘s Gyalchen or any others. I have summoned both Nechung and Gadong whenever necessary and for those matters which neither could resolve I have applied the method of throwing dough-balls. There have been many instances when even this latter method has been valuable, but as they have not been related before, there is no need to disclose them now.

In 1956, the Chinese raised objections concerning my proposed visits to India, and as the situation became more difficult Nechung predicted, “There will be no problems at all and your wishes will be fulfilled” and eventually everything went well. Later, we were faced with a further quandary over whether I should return to Lhasa or not and consequently both Nechung and Gadong were summoned. Nechung was particularly determined and declared that it would be better to return to Tibet since there was no advantage in staying in India. In 1959, during the period of revolt against the Chinese rule, Nechung was summoned on a number of occasions and it was Nechung who decided the day, exact timing and even the route to be followed for my escape from Norbu Linkha. In any case it proved absolutely successful and free of difficulties. Both Nechung and Gadong are quite resolute on important issues, but Nechung in particular is infallibly resolute.

After arriving in India, I stayed first at Mussoorie and then moved to Dharamsala. Soon after my arrival in Dharamsala, I wanted to receive “Life Entrustment” (srog-gtad) of Gyalchen from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and therefore I mentioned it to him. At that time, someone, whom Kyabje Rinpoche did not remembered clearly, had offered him a copy of the ‘Great Lam-rim’ in a fine old edition from Ganden. Trijang Rinpoche set it aside saying, “I shall give it to you, because we need to have a ‘Lam-rim’ text during the Gyalchen “Life Entrustment” ceremony”.

Sometime later when I have moved my residence from Swarg Ashram, to Theckchen Choeling, I summoned Nechung and Gadong and Nechung declared, “Propitiating A-say Khenpo was a mistake”. I thought that during the life of the previous Dalai Lama (13th), there was a saying that A-say Khenpo meant Gyalchen Shugden, but doubting that it was the same, I asked Nechung what he meant and he confirmed that his statement was about Gyalchen. Then I said to Nechung, “At present there are many people who propitiate Gyalchen and if Nechung were to make such a statement publicly it would ruin the spiritual bond in the hearts of many people. Therefore,” I said to Nechung, “it will be better if you keep silent”. Nechung just said, “Yes”, and since then until the release of the yellow book known as the Oral Transmission of the Intelligent Father (pha-rgod bla-ma’i zhal-lung), that is for nearly seven or eight years Nechung has spoken not one word about the matter.

When Nechung spoke like this, I asked him to keep quiet out of an unflinchingly pure concern for the mental turmoil and disunity this could cause amongst my people and since then Nechung has said nothing about it. However, I learned a lesson myself, for I realized it was not proper to offer “Life Entrustment” to Gyalchen.

In those days I liked Gyalchen and I had an inclination towards him, because of the spiritual lineage of Kyabje Phabongkha, felt close to Gyalchen, nevertheless there is a conflict between Gyalchen and Nechung. If you ask who is the person most closely acquainted with Nechung beneath this sky? Excepting those with clairvoyance and speaking generally, amongst human beings I am the person most closely acquainted with Nechung, and similarly, Nechung is probably the deity who knows most about me. It is a commonly held notion that Gyalchen was coerced by Nechung, therefore, even Trijang Rinpoche remarked in his Praise of Dependent Arising that it is impossible for there to be any conflict between Nechung and Gyalchen. But this is only a common notion, for no matter what the man in the street may say, it is a fact that there is a conflict between Nechung and Gyalchen.

Personally, I don’t see Nechung as “that old deity” and Gyalchen as “this new deity” and if I had to choose one between them, I would definitely choose Nechung and not Gyalchen. So, because of this, I thought that I should not offer “Life Entrustment” to Gyalchen and I did not do it. However, since it is not easy to make such a decision hastily, both Serkong Rinpoche (1914-1983) and I discussed it and I disclosed all the recent occurrences to him. This was when I was receiving A Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment (lam-sgron) teachings from Serkong Rinpoche, we were talking over tea during a break when there was a loud resounding ‘bang’ of a stone hitting the roof. After this I brought the matter to the notice of Yongzin Rinpoche (Ling Rinpoche 1903-1983) telling him what had happened and asking what it would be best to do now. Yongzin Rinpoche told me that the matter was very important and that it would be better not to offer the “Life Entrustment” ceremony. Since I had already requested Trijang Rinpoche to offer the “Life Entrustment” ceremony, I informed him of all the circumstances clearly, told him that wouldn’t now offer the “Life Entrustment” ceremony, and gave up my plans. At that time, except for deliberating over whether I should offer “Life Entrustment” or not, I made no change in my regular personal practices of both reciting the annual invocation prayers and the daily offering of invocation.

H.H. the Dalai Lama (middle) and his two main tutors. On the right side of H.H. the Dalai Lama sits Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, his senior tutor and on the left side sits Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, his junior tutor.

H.H. the Dalai Lama (middle) and his two main tutors. On the right side of H.H. the Dalai Lama sits Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, his senior tutor and on the left side sits Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, his junior tutor.

Sometime after that, in one of his declarations Nechung said, “A Hundred Thousand Tsoq must be offered to Guru Rinpoche at the Tsuglag Khang (main temple) and if this is done an omen for the general cause of Tibet will appear”. The first time we offered a hundred thousand tsog to Guru Rinpoche we didn’t have anyone well-versed in Nyingma rituals and I had yet to come across a text of Extensive Secrets (gsang-ba rgya-can). Finally, I found the Secret Sadhana of Hayagriva (rta-mgrin gsang-sgrub) in the Tamdring Section of the Collected Works of Thu’u Kan (Chokyi Nyima 1737-1802) in which there were beautiful descriptions of how to offer Tsechu,Tsog and the reasons for offering Tsog to Padma Sambhava. Although it was compiled by him, it is basically a collection of the teachings of Gyalwa Gedun Gyatso (Second Dalai Lama 1475-1542) and Panchen Lobsang Choegyan; I based the text that we have been reciting at Tsuglag Khang on this.

Then, a few years later during the offering of one hundred thousand tsog in the tenth month of the Wood Rabbit Year (1975) some Gelug monks and nuns hesitated to join the gathering. It is generally believed that all Tibetans wish for the independence of Tibet; erecting a statue of Padma Sambhava and offering a hundred thousand tsog in the Tsuglag Khang is not a duty incumbent on me, Tenzin Gyatso. Guru Rinpoche is the Guru of all Tibetans, his compassion and oath have a special power especially during this dark period of degeneration when both the human and non-human beings of the black side have the upper hand. From their own side Tibetans have a special karmic and virtuous connections with Guru Rinpoche. It is for this end and these reasons that we maintain a connection with Guru Rinpoche, therefore, it is important that we (Tibetans) should pray to him. I felt quite uneasy when people behaved like this over such an important, common issue.

After looking into it, I discovered that an awful book had been released. This was why nuns dared not join the gathering, for they had lost heart or so somebody told me. After further investigation, I came across the yellow book the Oral Transmission of the Intelligent Father, which Zemey Rinpoche (1927-  ) had kept secret from me. I had not heard of it until I began to investigate the reasons why people had not turned up for tsog, but by then the book had already been distributed publicly. Then, a couple of days later, I received a complimentary copy of a textual rejoinder by Dhongthog Tenpai Gyaltsen (1933- ) accompanied by his own handwritten letter. I looked at both the yellow book and Dhongthog’s rejoinder and I felt really despondent. No matter what prayers I say while I am in my own room, when I am in my office, I represent the Tibetan people as a whole. I never take a biased stand saying that I am a Gelugpa, or that I am a Nyingmapa, or a Kagyupa. Not being mere partial towards Amdopas or any others, I remain the representative of all Tibetan people. As a result of maintaining this position there are invariably some who agree with me and others who do not. If one agrees, there are always few others who do not. For instance, amongst the Gelugpas there are those who grumble that I do not care for Gelugpas and similarly there are a few amongst the Nyingmapas and Kagyupas who make the same complaint. Yet I consider this only as a sign of my being a representative of all and worry about it no [small text passage missing]

During this period of my life when I have a real responsibility to work for the cause of Tibet as best I can, it is possible that a dissatisfied person or one who is ignorant of the actual situation may create a cause for disunity, this is natural and I should certainly excuse them. However, Kushog Zemey is neither and is fully aware of my past and present views on sectarianism. The Teachers Training College which was first started in Dharamsala, later had to be moved to Kangra because of some problems with the then house of the Tibetan Cultural Printing Press and one day I purposely visited them in Kangra. In the main hall, I sat in the middle while Kundeling and Zemey sat on either side of me. There I gave a long talk to the teachers training group, in which I said that those who recognize Gelugpa practitioners and philo­sophy as perfect and others as imperfect must also agree that in Tibet before the time of Je-Rinpoche, there had been many practitioners in Tibet who attained the state of unity. I pointed out that these practitioners must have advanced through discerning the correct view, for if, within themselves, they lacked unmistaken view, meditation and conduct, it would be impossible for them to have gained realization beyond the great or middle path of preparation. For these reasons, since Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya and Gelug traditions are all equally profound dharmas, unifying sutra and tantra teachings aimed at the spontaneous achievement of Buddhahood. I stated clearly that there is no point whatever in talking about good or bad religious traditions.

As Zemey Rinpoche was present there, he heard everything I had to say and it is impossible that he didn’t understand. What’s more under the aegis of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche I took him to China, in 1956, on the 2500th anniversary of Buddha Jayanti, I took him to India. Then, after my arrival in India following the revolt of 1959, selecting him from among equals, I appointed him as the Principal of the Teachers Training College. So he is one who knows quite well what is going on and who has continually received good treatment; then he behaves like this. I give thought to the issues concerning Tibet and maintain a policy, yet it may be that someone is unable to make a beneficial contribution to it in the way that rain aids a river, nonetheless it can never be fitting for him to do something harmful. Even if such conduct was not knowingly, or intentionally an act of spite, it is a hundred percent certain that it was an invidious act of carelessness which is clear even to a blind man. To be frank, I felt extremely sad about it.

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (1901–1981)

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (1901–1981)

How would the situation seem to others, when a person whom the Dalai Lama had singled-out from among equals and to whom he had given responsibility, writes such a book. He is a direct disciple of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche is my Guru, therefore, a thinking person might say: “Ah they belong to the same faction, but they vary only in their degree of frankness. The Dalai Lama’s Guru speaks like this and a man to whom the Dalai Lama has given special attention speaks in the same way. It doesn’t matter if the Dalai Lama says that there is no discrimination in his policy towards the cause of Tibet, when, in fact, this is the actual policy or thought at the core of his heart.” Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as well as Zemey Rinpoche should have given thought to this, but unfortunately they didn’t.

In the first place there is a crucial doubt about whether the contents of the text should be accepted literally, but ultimately I think one can only say, “I think it means this… … or may be it means that”. If we accept that it is true, then it is difficult to categorize it as something worthy either of praise or blame. Think in particular, how far it serves the purpose if we seemingly view the pre-eminence of the Gelug tradition as restricted to the issue of a controversial Dharma Protector. Even if we say it was a praiseworthy work, since the need to stop it is greater then the purpose it serves, is it not rather something that should have been kept quiet, for, at present what good purpose does it serve when told? To be specific, if this theme, “the root of corruption” refers to the unbiased practice of Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu and Nyingma teachings by one individual, then the previous Dalai Lamas, the 2nd 3rd and especially the 5th Dalai Lama were extremely corrupt in their practices, weren’t they? Then the 5th Dalai Lama’s words: “May the teachings of the Second Buddha, Lobsang, flourish for ever without corruption” is a great falsehood. He was a scholarly monk, how could he tell a lie contradicting the facts?

Tsongkhapa (1357–1410)

Tsongkhapa (1357–1410)

When the omniscient Khaedrup in his Commentary on the View – A Lamp Dispelling Darkness (Ita-khrid mun-sel sgron-me) supplements the Sakyapa’s Cause and Continuity of Mind-Basis of All (kun-gzhi rgy-rgyud), a means of meditation on the view of inseparability of cyclic existence and nirvana, he never intermingles their terminology with that of Je-Tsong Khapa’s [small text passage missing?] that it is inappropriate to mix up the terminology exclusive to each tradition by imposing one’s own interpretation. He advises: “Do not mix the meaning and terminology of others in this context. Here I shall not mix them either, for to do otherwise becomes a cause for the loss of all the individual traditions of instructions.” If it is thus inappropriate for Gelugpas to practice Nyingma teachings and for Nyingmapa’s and others to practice Gelug teachings, then from Gyaltsab and Khaedrup down, many other Gelug Geshes have corrupted the doctrine. At present there are some Gelugpa’s who view it as inappropriate should a Gelugpa practise Nyingma teachings, but take pleasure when a Nyingmapa listens to Lam-rim teachings. This contradicts the thought of Khaedrup-Je concerning the corruption of Gelug teachings through their being intermingled with Nyingma teachings.

In short, it seems as if each sect has to turn its back to the other, as if a Buddhist were meeting a non-Buddhist. Therefore, the meaning of corruption should be understood not as the unbiased, eclectic practice of one individual, but as the mixing and inter-appropriation of transmissions exclusive to each tradition. Consequently, there is no borrowing of terms exclusive to Sakya and Nyingma teachings in the Fifth Dalai Lama’s commentary to the Gelug Lam-rim – the Transmission of Manjushri (‘jam-dpal zhal-lung), nor any appropriation of terms exclusive to Sakya and Gelug teachings in his Commentary on Dzoqchen Doctrine (rdzogs-chen lta-khrid rig-‘dzin zhal-lung). Therefore, I think that the actual view of the omniscient Khaedrup is to maintain purely the terminology exclusive to each tradition. As is said in the Ornament for Clear Realization (mngon-rtogs-rgyan): “Those benefiting migrators will accomplish the deeds of worldly beings only through knowledge of the paths”. When a person with a Mahayana disposition needs to be trained through listening to, thinking about and meditating on the teachings of the greater and lesser vehicles, how can it be a fault, rather, isn ‘t it praiseworthy when someone practices all the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu and Nyingma teachings through listening, thinking and meditation according to his own level of realization?

Recently, as a result of the circulation of Zemey’s book, Dongthog Rinpoche wrote a rejoinder. I was told that having heard of this a few Gelugpas at Varanasi became impatient and were preparing to write a rejoinder to Dongthog’s text. It appears there was a rumour among them that Dongthog had not written his text himself, but that it was composed by Dudjom Rinpoche and credited to Dongthog. Now, how does this look? It wouldn’t matter if both Zemey and Dongthog met and debated face to face, yet when it has been clearly stated that Zemey’s text was taught by a principal Lama of the Gelug, Trijang Rinpoche and it is rumored that Dongthog’s text was written by Dudjom Rinpoche, then ultimately both Trijang Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche become responsible.

Since this was becoming a source for an increase in sectarianism between our religious traditions, I was compelled to ask the Council of Religious Affairs to issue a notice stating that the root from which the poison spread was Zemey’s book and that at this crucial time everyone should think seriously of working together to benefit the teaching of Buddha in general, for creating causes of disunity can never be justified. Following this notice no rejoinder was written from the Gelugpa side, and while no doubt some Nyingmapas considered writing their own rejoinder they restrained themselves, so there was no response from the Nyingma side either. Dongthog wrote his rejoinder being personally a Sakya, but also an admirer of all the religious traditions and their philosophies.

The situation was such that there was a grave risk of conflicts arising. I thought to myself that until now I had stopped Nechung from making any statement, but to do so further wouldn’t be fair on my part. So one day, when I had summoned Nechung in my private apartment; I asked him clearly about the matter.

Eight or nine years ago when Nechung told me it was not appropriate to rely on A-say Khenpo, I told him straightforwardly that it would be better for him to keep quiet about it and the Dharma Protector has maintained silence till now, for which I am grateful. However, it would be unjust of me to continue to restrict Nechung’s statements on the one side, when the other side are able to say what they like. According to legal procedures too, it is not justified to let one side say whatever they wish and to restrict the other side from saying anything. So I told Nechung he could say whatever he had to say and that I would support him by upholding the truth of his statements.

The Dharma Protector took time to relate a number of past and recent historical events concerning Gyalchen Shugden. The gist was that more harm than good comes from relying on Gyalchen Shugden. To be more precise, the kinds of calamity and misfortune that occur and the catastrophes that eventually arise are apparent among the people who are at present relying on Gyalchen Shugden. Also, except for a yogi who has really reached a high level of spiritual insight and relies on Gyalchen in a most secret way, it is more dangerous and more disadvantageous than beneficial if the current practice is continued. Moreover, it is said that relying on Gyalchen Shugden displeases Palden Lhamo. This is what I have understood about Gyalchen.

There has been some debate over whether Nechung and Gyalchen are in harmony or not, but this discord between Lhamo and Gyalchen is a new thing. If there is discord with Lhamo it is of primary concern and extremely important, therefore, I thought it would be good to take every precaution on my part. Until then, it was either the 6th or the 7th month of the Rabbit year, I had recited the invocation prayer as usual, but later, towards the end of winter as the New Year of the Dragon was approaching; it occurred to me to thoroughly examine whether propitiation rituals should be performed this time or not for usually an elaborate propitiation had been conducted at the beginning of every year. I was doing a retreat at the time reciting the six-syllable mantra and the personal mantras of Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyatso, as I had recently received that initiation from Trijang Rinpoche.

The Abbot of the Namgyal Monastery was not here at the time as he had gone to Varanasi for dental treatment. On his return, I decided to prepare for a grand invocation offering to Palden Lhamo prior to performing a dough-ball divination and then implement whatever the result indicated. I put my confidence in this dough-ball divination. It was either on the 15th or the 16th of the last month of the Rabbit year when the Esteemed Abbot returned. On the 18th or 19th, the Esteemed Abbot and I, with 15 monks of Namgyal Monastery, assembled and chanted the invocation prayers of Palden Lhamo. On that day, the weather was stormy and there was thunder and so forth. Before preparing dough-balls for the divination we had recited the ‘Crowning Ceremony Prayers’ (mnga‘a-gsol). As we chanted the line, rnal-‘byor-srung-ma’i-gtzo-bor-mnga’a-gsol-gyi — “I enthrone you as principal protector of yogis” the light went off. The electricity in Dharamsala is unreliable, so I thought I should not jump to any conclusions about it. However, I thought that if it were an omen then of course it would be true. The reason being that Palden Lhamo has been a definitive all-encompassing Dharma Protector from the time of Gyalchog Gendun Drub. Knowing this, I still continued to rely on Gyalchen, so reciting the line, “I enthrone you as the principal protector of yogis” had become somewhat meaningless. It could have been a true omen, because the real situation was different from what that line says.

Three things were written on pieces of paper during the actual preparation of the dough-balls for the divination. On the first piece of paper was written, “It is good to rely continually on Gyalchen”. It had been decided that if this were the outcome there would be no change in the annual and everyday invocation rituals. On the second piece of paper was written, “It is good to rely on Gyalchen in a very secret way”. It this were the outcome, I thought of doing propitiation rituals in private but without involving the assembly of the Namgyal Monastery. I thought of chanting invocation prayers as I do daily. On the third piece of paper was written, “It is good to stop relying on Gyalchen”. I had decided it would not be necessary to chant invocation or propitiation prayers if this were the outcome.

Each of us recited “Jo Dunma” (bhyo-bdun-ma) a thousand times and then chanted the ‘Crowning Ceremony Prayers’. Mindful of the great importance of the matter we rolled up the three pieces of paper while making profound prayers. “Stop relying on Gyalchen” was the final outcome. On the same day, I performed another divination with dough-balls containing the names of a few candidates to be appointed as abbot of Namgyal Monastery and final outcome favored the Esteemed Abbot.

After the dough-ball divination I felt comfortable at heart, for I had arrived at final decision as to what I should and should not do. Likewise, I felt much more confident, if a little surprised, because I could see that things had turned out as Nechung had told me they would. That night, I found it quite hard to stop doing the invocation prayers so I said them before going to bed. Next morning at dawn I had a dream that Trijang Rinpoche was sitting on a pair of soft cushions near the windows of a room where I used to receive Dharma teachings from my two Tutors, Serkong Rinpoche and so on. Trijang Rinpoche was sitting dejectedly on the last cushion near the door, resting his head on the floor-carpet. When I arrived I asked Trijang Rinpoche not to sit like that, saying that if he would like to sleep he could lie down properly on both the cushions with his head away from the door. Trijang Rinpoche replied, “No, I am going now”. “May I offer you a cup of tea?” I asked. “No”, he said, “I am going”. Then I asked, “Oh, may I offer you a cup of hot water ?” and to this he agreed. I took a glass and flask in my hands and poured him some hot water. He drank it and took two light blue tablets of western medicine and then told me he was going, so I came out with him to see him off. Then he left by the back door of my former residence, passed by the stairs and went along by the kitchen and left in that direction. When Trijang Rinpoche had gone, I found men who looked like Khampas, their upper torsos bare, on either side of the office. I thought they had come to see me out of faith. Then I went back to my house. Such was my dream.

When I awoke, I had a thought that Trijang Rinpoche and Gyalchen were extraordinary. It was extremely clear that Gyalchen had caused my dream and that it was a sign from him. Both Nechung’s declaration and Palden Lhamo’s dough-ball divination had indicated that Gyalwa Rinpoche should cease to rely on Gyalchen, although it seemed this had somehow saddened Trijang Rinpoche. However, there was no mistake from my side, Trijang Rinpoche had told me he would be going so I went see him off and in parting we smiled at each other. Only then did things become clear and this was the meaning I found. Moreover, as I had been caught between two parties, Gyalchen – a wrathful deity and my Guru Trijang Rinpoche on the one hand and Nechung and Palden Lhamo on the other, I had a difficult time, not knowing what to do or how to act between them. However, with the result of the dough-ball divination and the clear absence of any sort of negative reaction from Gyalchen in the dream, I felt a sense of relief. It was like having my eyes opened with respect to my personal relationship with Gyalchen and his practice. Because I now had to make changes in the performance of the annual propitiation rituals in full view of the Namgyal monastic assembly, an explanation was imperative, but I felt rather uncomfortable about explaining it to them and I wondered what would be best to do.

Although my own decision about what I should practice and avoid was clear-cut, I was unsure whether I should speak about the matter to others or not, so I threw a “Mo” (dice- divination). The questions I asked were, “Would it be good to keep the outcome of the dough-ball divination to myself without disclosing it to others ?” and “Would it be good to explain to others what I have seen?”. “It is good to tell others” was the result. So, on the same day, I called the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery to my office and asked him, “Was the dough-ball divination we did last time effective or not?” He replied: “In general, there is no question of Gyalwa Rinpoche’s dough-ball divination being effective, it is always effective and would not be anything else. On this particular occasion the dough-ball divination could not fail because “Jo Dunma” was recited a thousand times and it was accompanied by profound prayers”. Assuming it was accurate, I explained to him the complete history of past and recent events.

The Esteemed Abbot and I shared the same opinion and we became “Comrades” as the Chinese say. He was a very confident, magisterial, hard-headed man devoted to the Gelug Tradition and having great faith and respect for Palchen Phurpa (dpal- chen phur-pa). In short, he was a person who followed whatever policy I decided, sincerely and without hesitation. That’s why when he died I was sorry and felt a sense of loss. When I explained to him all that had happened concerning Gyalchen up to the previous day he agreed with me unflinchingly. “Yes. Yes. That’s right”, he said, “I have no misgivings about that”. I sent word through him that it was not necessary to do the annual propitiation ceremony. Sometimes Namgyal Monastery also recited invocation prayers to Gyalchen during their daily invocation rituals and particularly, some time ago, they started saying Gyalchen invocation prayers daily at my house during their evening invocation session. We felt a little uncomfortable to make any sudden changes, big or small, until a suitable occasion arose. The Esteemed Abbot and I decided to make an announcement when such an occasion presented itself. He himself was a person who had entrusted his life to Gyalchen, but he was not restricted over that, he was able to continue to rely on Gyalchen.

These recent events are both secret and inconceivable. In the past, Ra-lotsawa, Darma Do-de, Nyan-lotsawa and so on killed each other through their magical powers. Killing one another is the final result of disharmony. Yogis were killing each other, yet inasmuch as they had become adept in the higher levels of Secret Mantra it is impossible that they had not developed the mind of enlightenment in their mind-streams. A qualified tantric practitioner who possesses Bodhicitta, the altruistic mind to become fully enlightened for the sake of others, will generally not harm even the life of an insect. Accounts of yogis who killed each other in demonstration of their magical powers are controversial, yet such things are inconceivable to the minds of ordinary people like us. Such things occur for another reason and purpose. Explaining this to the Esteemed Abbot, I told him that these things are called very hidden and are thus inconceivable. It had become clear that if Gyalchen is relied on, then a conflict arises with Palden Lhamo and Gyalpo Kun-nga. But then, that is no reason to praise one and despise or disparage the other, we can be neutral. I told him, “There is nothing wrong in your continuing to rely on Gyalchen yourself”. From that night onward however I stopped saying Gyalchen’s invocation prayers and did not even let them resound in my mind. I was able to sleep soundly without the slightest sign of disturbance from Gyalchen. Sometimes I could not sleep because of a rise in blood pressure, but apart from that, there were no interferences which I suspected to be the work of gods or spirits.

Once or twice afterwards I had a dream which I thought was of Gyalchen. Once I dreamed of Trijang Rinpoche sitting in a small room, which he told me had moved to. He was sitting there as a simple monk and said, “I am happy here”. There was a little monk to serve him. I offered him a flower. I thought this was something. Then, on the third day of the New Year, I told the ritual assistant that now, in keeping with the traditions we observed in Tibet, we could confine ourselves to the recitation of Palden Lhamo’s prayers only. I did not make any special mention of Gyalchen. Although at times we used to recite prayers of Gon-Chos-Begtse (mgon-chos-beg-rtze) etc. in addition to the Lhamo prayers, on that occasion, without offering many reasons, I told him that we would recite only those prayers which had been formerly recited in Tibet. At the time, you Namgyal monks might not have noticed anything significant.

On the tenth of the first month of the Dragon Year, Nechung made the following declaration:

“The Red and the Black were given the name oracles and strictly entrusted with the activities of the line of Dalai Lamas but, so to speak: ‘Sending ritual cakes to the northern gate when the devils are residing at the eastern gate should not be done”. I understood his statements to mean that it was not right for a new man to make offerings and prayers to a new god without maintaining the confidence of Palden Lhamo and Gyalpo Ku-nga, who have acknowledged designations. That day the Cabinet were present as usual during the Oracle’s trance and after witnessing it, I called them to my office. I talked over the meaning of the statement with them in detail. I disclosed everything to the Cabinet ministers about how my relationship with the Gyalchen had begun, how his prayers and invocation had been conducted in the meantime and how I had told Nechung to keep silent when he made his first statement about it. I told them how, later, when the “Yellow Book” was published I had maintained impartiality, as one should in a court of justice, and how I then asked Nechung to speak out and what he had said, and finally how, mindful of it’s importance, I had employed the dough-ball divination. I told them that now it was improper for a member of staff who was working for me and the Tibetan Govern­ment to make offerings or prayers to Gyalchen or anyone else except Gyalpo Ku-nga and Palden Lhamo. However, I told them that if an individual personally relied on Gyalchen, then that would a be a matter of his own religious freedom and he could do whatever he wanted, but I made it clear to them that it was incorrect to depend on Gyalchen formally and officially in connection with the Tibetan Government’s affairs, which would be quite a different matter.

After that I sent a message through the Chant-leader and the Disciplinarian to the Esteemed Abbot of Namgyal Monastery stating that from that day onward there was no need for the monastery to say Gyalchen’s invocation prayers or the annual grand propitiation ceremony and thus, they were prohibited. That was done on the tenth of the first month and I think it was on the twelfth that Yongzin Ling Rinpoche returned from Bodhgaya. I went to meet him and explained to him everything that had happened. On the thirteenth I met Trijang Rinpoche on his return from Mysore and I told him in detail all that had occurred.

In reply Trijang Rinpoche said,

If this is what was indicated by Nechung and the dough-ball divination then it must be true. There is no room for deception. As far as Nechung is concerned, I know full well that he gives first class predictions without any error on important issues, and likewise as regards the dough-ball divination, for it was conducted before the ‘thanka of the speaking Palden Lhamo’. After the Great Fifth Dalai Lama had died he revived, while the Desi (Regent) was crying in despair and begging to know how many years he should keep (his death) secret and so forth, and said, “You can decide the less important issues yourself, but more important matters should be decided through dough-ball divination conducted before the ‘thanka of the speaking Palden Lhamo’ , which was the meditational object of His Holiness Gedun Gyatso, for that will be infallible”. This is the very thanka he spoke of. There have never been any mistakes in the dough-ball divination conducted before it, there is absolutely no deception in it. There must certainly be a reason and purpose for that. In general, conflict between Palden Lhamo and Shugden is impossible, but the present discord between them is probably connected with Tibet’s spiritual and political affairs.

Trijang Rinpoche did not believe there was a conflict in general between the two but that the present circumstances arose from the spiritual and political affairs concerning the Government. During the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama many common and uncommon circumstances occurred which could have given rise to this. Such was the explanation Trijang Rinpoche gave. Anyway, he had been told everything and I also felt very relieved. Then, Trijang Rinpoche said to me, “Would it not be good to give the thanka you have to someone who is relying on Gyalchen?” I replied that I did not remember I had a thanka of Gyalchen and that I had forgotten it until now. I wondered whether it would be all right to keep it with the rest of the thankas. I thought that if for some reason I could not keep it I would offer it to Trijang Rinpoche and that I would decide whether to keep it or not either by dough-ball divination or by asking Nechung.

The next day, the fourteenth, happened to be the occasion for the State Oracle’s (Nechung‘s) New Year prophecy in my private apartment. At that time I asked for guidance, saying that I was happy to have received his unequivocal declaration recently, which had been confirmed by the result of the dough-ball divination. I said that on my part I would follow this course with regard to what I should observe and what I should give up. I told him I had a thanka of Gyalchen which I would keep if it were all right to do so, otherwise I would offer it to Trijang Rinpoche and asked which would be better. The Dharma-protector replied ferociously, “It should be removed immediately from the residence of Loppon Thongva Donden (ie. The Dalai Lama)”. After the Oracle’s trance I sent the Ritual Assistant at once to offer the thanka to Trijang Rinpoche. In that way I did away with it. Well, that’s once chapter of the story.


Sometime later when I was doing retreat on the “Kagyad Chidril” (bka’a-brgyad spyi-dril), which forms part of the “Dag nang gya chen” (dag-snang rgya-can) of the Nyingma tradition, I had number of good omens in my dreams, which I won’t tell you now because they are not relevant to the present context, and just before my departure to Ladakh to give the Kalacakra Initiation in the mid-summer of the Dragon Year, I received a letter requesting divination from Jangtse:    College of the Ganden Monastic University. The letter said: “For sometime now various misfortunes have continuously befallen Jangtse College and many students are experiencing difficulties. General divinations have shown that there seems to be some negative reaction from a protector. Sometime ago advice was sought from Trijang Rinpoche and a new “Tan-zas” (rten-rdzas) was created for Palden Lhamo and a grand propitiation ceremony was properly performed. Please examine by divination whether there is still a negative reaction from Palden Lhamo at present”. This letter requesting divination was brought to me by Serkong Rinpoche.

Palden Lhamo

Palden Lhamo

Ganden Jangtse is a monastic college where Je-Rinpoche’s doctrine is preserved and students train accordingly. Due to the kindness of Jangtse monastic college in training their students many qualified and obliging scholars have arisen, such as Serkong Rinpoche and the Esteemed Abbot whom I am employing at present. Now if such a monastic college where students engaged in study and practice where to experience deterioration, it would have an adverse effect on Je-Rinpoche’s doctrine, so the matter is quite important. I thought it would not be right for me to make a decision through a hasty divination, for they had made a request to me because they were unable to judge for themselves. Mindful of the importance of the matter I did a dough-ball divination. I enquired whether the misfortunes constantly befalling Jangtse monastic college were due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo or not, the result was: “It is due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo”. I did another dough-ball divination, if there is a conflict with Palden Lhamo, is it due to some other factor or it is because of too great a dependence on Gyalchen. “There is a conflict with Palden Lhamo because of too great a dependence on Gyalchen” was the outcome. Although the first response was – “It is due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo; because the second outcome was — “There is a conflict with Palden Lhamo because of too great a dependence on Gyalchen”, I felt quite confident about it.

However, I could not judge how people would react or what opinions they would form if I were to mention this in a letter or not. Nevertheless it would not be correct for me to give an account which differed from the facts because they had turned to me because the matter was so important. I had difficulty in deciding what to do, so I called Serkong Rinpoche and the Esteemed Abbot and told them the outcome of the two dough-ball divination I had done at the request of Jangtse monastic college and to which I had attached great importance. I told them I was in a quandary for it was expedient neither to explain the matter clearly nor to remain silent. I discussed with them what, from their point of view, would be the best course to follow.

In the end I did not write the specific details, but confirmed that the problem was due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo and that, therefore, full faith and confidence should be given mainly to Palden Lhamo. I wrote that every precaution should be taken with regard to new protectors other than those who had been relied on in the past and in this way I gave them a hint. I told Serkong Rinpoche and the Esteemed Abbot that they could both give a proper explanation to dependable monks of Jangtse monastic college when the time was right. Both of them sent oral messages with the monk who came to receive the response to the request for divination and it seems they sent letters too.

In Jangtse monastic college there were many monks who had received the “Life Entrustment” of Gyalchen and who had been reciting the propitiation and invocation prayers to him in the assembly hall and after this they made little change in terms of abbreviation. Later, I met Abbot Yeshe Thupten of Loling Monastic College, Abbot Gedun Zangpo of Jangtse Monastic College and Abbot Lekden of Sera-Je Monastic College when they came here for the Annual General Meeting of the Dragon Year (1976). I gave them a full explanation and I even asked Abbot Gedun Zangpo of Jangtse Monastic College what he had done in his college — he said changes had been made in the recitations done in the assembly hall and so forth. After I had given this thorough explanation it seems that the Esteemed Abbot reviewed the situation in Namgyal Monastery once more.

Gyalchen Dorje Shugden / Dholgyal

Gyalchen Dorje Shugden / Dholgyal

Last year I received a second letter requesting divination as I was about to leave for south India. The letter said that the prayers which had been recommended following the divination requested the previous year had been completed and requested a further divination to examine whether the conflict with Palden Lhamo had subsided and whether the matter was now clearly settled. I personally gave great importance to this. Usually, when I have to make an important journey I make a thousand ‘tsog’ offerings to Palden Lhamo and on this occasion together with a grand propitiation I did a dough-ball divination. When I enquired whether the discord between Palden Lhamo and Jangtse Monastic College had subsided or not, the outcome was —” Even now it has not subsided”; Therefore, I did another divination to discover what to do in order to mitigate it. I asked, “Is it necessary to accumulate prayers of confession and propitiation to Palden Lhamo and make a great offerings to her in the assembly?” or “Should reliance upon Gyalchen be restricted more rigorously?” The outcome was that reliance on Gyalchen should be more severely restricted. As I was about to go to Mysore, I did not send a letter to give an account of the divination.

After arriving in Mysore I had a discussion with the Abbot of Jangtse Monastic College. I told him the outcome of the second dough-ball divination which I had recently done and asked him what he thought was best to do. He requested me to explain the matter to a group of the staff and Geshes of Jangtse Monastic College and advise them. So on the day I visited Ganden I gave a brief explanation, in a small private room at Jangtse, to a group of about ten, the Abbot, Chant-leader and some of the Senior Geshes of Jangtse, concerning the earlier and later divinations I had done on behalf of Jangtse. As there was no need to tell my own story, I did not.

To sum up, if you think and gain some understanding of these matters, you will see that now and in the past I have taken into consideration everything that occurred and have taken no hasty decision which would later be a cause for regret. A series of examinations were conducted and results were checked and weighed against each other, which indicated that if one relies on Gyalchen then a conflict with Palden Lhamo arises as was mentioned on different occasions. Although the importance of the Oracle’s predictions and divinations is difficult to assess, considering them and omens I received in dreams, the indications were extremely clear.

I almost forgot to tell you this; when I first asked Nechung about Gyalchen, in his reply he said clearly, “There is more harm than good in relying on Gyalchen. For that reason, when the previous Dalai Lama was alive, I, the spirit, had informed him in his very presence of such matters”. Moreover, when Gyalchen was studied and investigated and detailed information was collected there were strong indications that Nechung was antagonistic on different occasions during the time of Gowo Choezur (a former Nechung Oracle), when both the Government and private individuals relied on Gyalchen. This information has been kept alive in the oral traditions of the senior Geshes from Drepung. Similarly, a prophecy previously given at Drepung asks “How can it be that the Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen is born as a spirit ?” I gained a clear understanding of that from one of my dreams, but it is difficult to say whether that is reliable. Moreover, another oral tradition of some senior Geshes from Drepung has this to say: “There was discordance between Nechung and Kyabje Phabongka”.

Furthermore, when Dakyab Togden, the disciple of Je-Phabongka, visited many Gelugpa Monasteries in Kham, because he relied strongly on Shugden it seems Gyalchen became widely known in those areas. When I examined the many monasteries, labrangs and families who have established a new relationship with Gyalchen over the years, it seemed many calamities had eventually befallen them. Anyway, I have come to a definite understanding of how these matters came about from both the dough-ball divinations and Nechung’s predictions and when I investigated accounts related to these things as well as events that I have witnessed myself I could see that something strange [line missing]

Accordingly, a summary of the outcome of the questions and doubts presented to Nechung incidentally during the course of trance is as follows: One of the main reasons for Palden Lhamo’s displeasure is that while the guardians of the Gelugpa doctrine are protectors of all three levels of practitioners, because they do not seem to be enough, a protector with a new face is becoming more popular than all the others.

Another reason is that Palden Lhamo is the exclusive protector in whom the line Dalai Lamas have placed complete trust; because a new wrathful protector has been relied upon, as if in competition with her, she has become displeased. What’s more, it seems that the present Gyalchen, who has an aggressive nature, is neither an incarnation of Panchen Sonam Dragpa nor an incarnation of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsan. If you ask, then who is he? It seems that he is someone who made evil prayers. For that reason anyone who strongly relies on Gyalchen is eventually subject to various calamities, whatever he may do. Sometimes there are disturbances in the general cause of Tibet headed by Gyalwa Rinpoche, one of the conditions for which seems to have been the exploits of this protector.

Nechung, the Chief State Oracle of Tibet

Nechung oracle

I asked Nechung, “If that were the case, how was it that Kyabje Phabongka, who was a true yogi and a fully qualified, spiritually realized lama accepted him as a qualified Dharma Protector? And how was it that the lineage of this protector’s ‘Life Entrustment’ practice originated from a vision of Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen received by Tagp’u Dorje Chang?” The protector told me in great confidence that the Maha Vidhyadhara (rig-‘dzin chen-po), referring to Kyabje Phabongka, had made great mistakes in the latter part of his life. “But that is not to say that I, Pekar Gyalpo, am displeased by the great errors which took place. However, you will understand if you examine what misfortunes and misjudgments occurred during the last phase of activities of the Maha Vidhdhara’s life”. He told me, “You will understand if you examine what kind of bad omens occurred at the time of the death of his re-incarnation in India. Not only that,” he added, “the line of his successive incarnations will not be able to bring their life’s work to completion”.

Many people know that Kyabje Phabongka faced difficulties, but many people thought that because of his great reputation and his service to the Gelugpa doctrine that other schools of tenets such as the Nyingmapas had cast spells on him, so the Nyingmapas were blamed for his difficulties. However, the facts seem to differ from that, for it seems that hid difficulties occurred as a punishment from the Black and the Red protectors (Nechung and Palden Lhamo).

Now with regard to visions there are two types; visions arising from the three sources of divine blessing and visions arising by force of harmful interferences. I doubt that this is a case of a vision caused by harmful interferences. There are critical as well as urgent matters like this which one dares not speak openly about. A few years ago, around the time that Nechung had just given his first prediction (about Gyalchen), I had a dream of Kyabje Phabongka telling me that I should embrace the “Life Entrustment” practise of Gyalchen. Ling Rinpoche’s chief attendant came in front of him and said that it would be all right. However, I was terrified and very upset because a scar on Phabongka’s wrist was bleeding. Now after some reflection I have realized that this was probably an illusory display by harmful interferences. But this is a digression.

The matters I have explained were of an extremely urgent nature and unable to bear the responsibility alone, I first told everything to Yongzin Tri Rinpoche (Ling Rinpoche) in detail, but he was not that upset. After that I told everything to Trijang Rinpoche, for I felt that if I were not to tell him, my conscience would weigh heavily on me, but when the time came I felt as if I dared not tell him. That notwithstanding, until now Trijang Rinpoche’s life, deeds and beneficial activity have been nobly fulfilled throughout and as long as the Buddha’s Teachings do not decline in Tibet, Kyabje Rinpoche’s manifestations must come because of his compassionate thought and the firm pledges he has made. From our side too, we should make prayers and wishes accordingly. In such matters it is not good if anything should go wrong. Trijang Rinpoche’s reliance on Gyalchen is not something he has begun anew in this life, for he has relied on him since his previous incarnation and there is no need for him to stop now. However, Palden Lhamo is pre-eminent, below are Gyalpo Kunga like the treasurer who holds chief responsibility in a family, while Shugden should be seen as an ordinary store-keeper working under him. In other words, if he is regarded like a local deity or a personal birth deity and is propitiated and invoked in that way, I think, that would be all right. If, however, one were to think of his having equal status with Gyalpo Ku-nga or even higher status then them, then there is a danger of conflict with Gyalpo Ku-nga. Although Kyabje Phabongka was an inconceivably great lama that is what happened to him. I explained clearly to Trijang Rinpoche that this should be borne in mind. Yongzin Tri Rinpoche has not had any difficulties in his activities, but then he was formerly a hard-headed Geshe from Drepung.

So, this is how the two Tutors came to know of these matters and understood them thoroughly. I told Trijang Rinpoche that these issues concerning Gyalchen were very sensitive and that I was placing a restriction on Gyalchen, different people — some with knowledge and others without knowledge — would come to seek his advice. As he was aware of all the causes of the early and later events, I asked him to please give advice on such occasions, which suit the dispositions of his questioners, because a word of advice given by Trijang Rinpoche would carry greater weight with those who rely on Gyalchen than a hundred or thousand explanations that I might give them. Gyalchen is relied on chiefly by Trijang Rinpoche; if after understanding the purpose and reason he, who actually depends on Gyalchen, were to give an explanation, others would certainly believe it. Although I am giving an explanation, some people believe in it whereas others don’t. Therefore, I suggested, it would be good if Trijang Rinpoche were to give such advice, similarly, I also asked Yongzin Tri Rinpoche to give such, advice.

Apart from a little explanation I have given to a few trustworthy ex-abbots and Geshes when we met, I have never said a word about this to a large gathering until now. When I examined how it would be if I were now to explain recent matters to a general assembly of Namgyal and Nechung monks the result was good, and accordingly, I have today given such an explanation to all of you gathered here. Have you understood […] Remember the series of events both before and after. You will understand that this restriction is not being imposed because of my likes and dislikes if you look for yourselves into the conditions from which these events developed over a period. This matter has become a very sensitive topic, so you should each take great care, people may give you different information or may come to clear their doubts about what they have heard. If you have occasion to give an explanation, then what I have told you today are the bare facts, if you base your account on them, the meaning will be understood by people with an unprejudiced outlook, who are prepared to apply reasoning. So, if you have an opportunity to give such an explanation, well and good.

We have here religious communities of Namgyal, Nechung and the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges who are responsible for performing rituals. I have already told both the Abbots and Lama Umzed (Monk-Prefects) of both the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges and they know everything. Among those of you who go out to perform rituals, I told the monks of Namgyal Monastery last year not to recite Gyalchen prayers, if someone outside requests you to recite Gyalchen prayers, you can say that the monastery does not do that practice. Even if it is inconvenient for monks of the two Tantric Colleges, who visit private households to perform rituals, to discontinue this practice all at once, it will be better if they can avoid it.

You Tantric Colleges have two Dharma protectors whose practi­ces have been continued from Jetsun Sherab Sengye and his spiritual sons, what need is there for more: It would be absurd if the elaborate performance of “Trochu” (khro-bcu) and the offering of Druqchu-ma (sixty section ritual cakes) were an insufficient practice. It is best if we pursue our own studies and follow the traditional way handed down by previous lamas without omitting or super-imposing anything.

There will be nothing insufficient in doing that. Would it not be better not to have to do so many ostentatious propitiations? However, if it can’t be helped and you feel obliged to recite it out of deference to a considerate benefactor, I think it would be better if you could say it in an abridged form. If you need to recite other prayers which are not included in the repertoire of one of the Tantric colleges you should consider prayers to Palden Lhamo and Ku-nga as principal. If you should have to recite prayers to Gyalchen, apart from the abbreviated invocation prayers, it would be better not to accord him the same honour and respect given to Dalha Gyalpo (dgra-lha’i rgyal-po), the king of Guardian-Protectors. Now have you all understood? I explained this roughly to the teacher of the School of Dialectics last year, but today he has understood the matter in every detail. If there is interest among your fellow Geshes and friends and also if you feel it is convenient to tell them, you can explain this to them. Have you understood? It is good if you can understand the state of affairs clearly, [missing] if you upset through not understanding them.

Zemey Rinpoche

Zemey Rinpoche

Now matters concerning Venerable Zemey, which are related to the publication of his book. To begin with when his name was on the list of candidates for the seat of Lama Umzey at the Upper Tantric College I threw a “Mo” first concerning Venerable Lati, then Zemey and after that the names of Geshes in order, but the outcome was not at all favourable to Zemey. Not knowing what to do I left it for a few months. Around that time the Venerable former Abbot of Namgyal came to see me and I told him that the outcome of the “Mo” concerning the candidates for the Lama Umzey’s seat had not been good and asked him, “Is there a better, candidate?” He told me that the assembly of the Tantric College had great hopes for Zemey Rinpoche. I replied that it was true, that he was qualified and could shoulder the responsibility. Immediately after this meeting I threw a “Mo” concerning Zemey Rinpoche himself, but the outcome was still no good. I thought it was strange and again, left it for a while. Then, after another one or two months I threw a “Mo” once more thinking that it would not be right if a final decision about the position of “Gyupa Lama Umzey” were not taken soon, but the outcome was not good at all.

Anyway, there were obstacles to Zemey Rinpoche in the three “Mos” I have thrown. Around about the time that there were those obstructions, the yellow book had just been published, so it seems that the result of the “Mos” had not been good because he had created powerful causes which would inevitably result in his punishment before long. If the “Mo” had been favorable and he had become Lama Umzey of the Upper Tantric College, and his book had then been published and caused trouble, then his position would have become more established – it’s quite remarkable. That’s enough —Tashi Delek.

END OF TALK ONE line-gothic

Background of the second talk:  An excerpt concerning reliance on gods and protectors from a talk given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a gathering of abbots, lamas, workers and senior monks of the Drepung, Ganden, Sakya and Nyingma Monasteries at Mundgod (India) on the 25th of June, 1980.

Of late the way of relying on the Dharma Protectors has become something of an issue and in fact you already know something about it. I thought that as a group of responsible people has gathered it might be helpful if I were to say something about it. You have had difficulties over this and I too have had complications and problems. Up to now I had thought that these would be overcome, if I personally, in a bit to solve the problem, discarded some things and adopted others. But in the course of this, as the saying goes, “You bang your head when you get up and hurt your bottom when you sit down”, I was in the difficult position of not knowing what to do. There have been many authentic cases of people experiencing mishaps and failures due to this issue of protectors; yet most did not know what the underlying cause was. Although I did know what it was, it was neither proper to keep silent knowingly, nor was it proper to talk about it. This was the quandary I was in. Obviously, you also had problems in not knowing what to do. Although those of you from Jangtse College were in difficulties about what to do, nevertheless you listened to me and appreciated the situation as far as you were able.

I have never reacted like a startled rabbit with respect to this matter, taking rash steps without any investigation. Not taking Nechung’s declarations simply on trust, I have done a series of investigations over the years. Since the time of the Victorious Gedun Gyatso, the Second Dalai Lama, Nechung has been one of the two state protectors referred to as the Red and the Black protectors, who have had special connection with Tibet’s Ganden Podrang Government. He has not been created at some later stage and more important, he is a deity who has never let us down. But when it comes to Gyalchen, I have been particularly cautious. If you ask what definite conclusions I have come to, I cannot say what the ultimate inconceivable identity of Gyalchen may be. If, amongst human beings who we can see directly with our own eyes, we can not gauge the nature of another, how then can we know the nature of a deity? However, if you are a person who relies mainly on Lhamo (Shri Devi), and Gyalpo Ku-nga (the Five State Guardians), it is certain that in terms of practical life they somehow do not approve of reliance on Gyalchen. From an historical point of view there was certainly a plan for Gyalchen in the begi­nning, however, I have the impression that things did not go well according to the initial scheme. Whether a mistake occurred or some mischief slipped in some way or another, it seems the matter is fraught with problems.

According to those who normally take Gyalchen as a valid protector it was Nechung who induced him initially and provided the provocative condition, so they need to rely on Nechung to trace Gyalchen’s origin. If Nechung’s support is needed, the way things stand at the moment it may be that I know Nechung better then any under the sky and when I examine all the relevant matters from beginning to end it is quite clear that Nechung Dorjee Drakden does not favor a person who turns to Gyalchen. Whether the time is not ripe or whatever the reason may be, it is hundred percent certain that under the present circumstances he is unsuitable and brings more loss than gain. Similarly, it is certain that mishaps have occurred when persons relying on Palden Lhamo turn to Gyalchen.

We have made blunders because our sense of discrimination has become like the grazing habits of a blind yak, for if we examine the works and lives of many lamas things are otherwise. For instance, I have recently read the biography of Chang-kya Rol-pey Dorjee (1717-1786) written by Thue-kan Choe-kyi Nyima (1737- 1802). On page 251 of the edition published by the Lower Lhasa Publishing House (Sholpar) it says: “One day, when Chang-kya Rinpoche was walking with Thue-kan on the Ganden circumambulatory path they saw an unidentified footprint, Chang-kya Rinpoche playfully said to Thue-kan, ‘It is the foot print of Nyingmapa, you disciples of Phurbu Chogpa (Phurchog Ngawang Jampa 1882- 1762) had better avoid it.’ Right after this he also said to Thue-kan, since Je Lama (Tsong Kha-pa, 1357-1419) and his sons did not depend on worldly protectors, even the cairn of his (Tsong Kha-pa’s) birth-deity, Ma-chen (rma-chen) was not accommodated within the (Ganden) circumambulatory path. Once because some Ganden Throne-holder had experienced many misfortunes after turning to Dhol-gyal, the then Great Throne-holder Vajra Dhara, demolished the monumental abode of Dhol-gyal and banished him from the monastery.”

The biography was about Chang-kya Rol-pey Dorjee, written by Thue-kan Cho-kyi Nyima. Trichen Dorje Chang, the Great Throne-holder Vajra Dhara cited in the account as an example, refers to the Victorious Kelsang Gyatso’s (The Seventh Dalai Lama, 1708-1757) tutor, the first Reting, the then Great Ganden Throne-holder, Ngawang Chogden (1665-1751). This account was related about Trichen Ngawang Chogden, a purely Gelugpa lama, unlike the Victorious Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) who was not allied to just one Dharma tradition; it was narrated by Chang-kya Rol-pay Dorjee and written down by Thue-ken Cho-kyi Nyima. So, this is a story concerning three prominent lamas of the Gelugpa order, which shows that from early times this issue has been very troublesome.

Some great learned and spiritually evolved persons have proclaimed (Gyalchen) as a valid protector and even in their personal lives they have achieved amazing success; there are such persons to this day who we can see for ourselves. On the other hand as I told you just a while ago, the story of Gyalchen has been murky since quite early time. It is because of this that I have had to explain the situation and suggest some restrictions. However, I have not done this for political reasons or other purposes.

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche has, not only in the present life, but also from previous times had a close rapport with Shugden and has treated him as exceptional. From beginning to end I have fully informed Kyabje Rinpoche of this matter and he knows all about it; I am not talking about something he doesn’t know behind his back. The principal sources of this matter have been derived from dough-ball divinations conducted before Lhamo and the decrees of the Dharma Protector Dorje Drakden (Nechung). As for Nechung, Kyabje Rinpoche affirms from his own experience that he is absolutely reliable. He said, “Never has Nechung failed in crucial moments; certainly there must be reason for his speaking thus.” Similarly when I also told him about the former and later instances of the dough-ball divination, except for saying, “the dough-ball examination conducted before Lhamo is never misleading, there must be an inconceivable reason and purpose (for that).” He never acted as if he had misgivings about the outcome of the tests, and because of this I feel at ease. I am by no means ignoring or deriding Trijang Rinpoche but it is possible that some, failing to understand things well, may feel apprehensive about this. This is the complete account of the earlier and later causes of this issue.

Now, if an individual personally has a special karmic relationship with Gyalchen or through his own experience has found him favorable or his teacher after perceiving some significance has instructed him to turn to him and propitiate him, since he is at liberty to practice religion, he is free to decide what religion to practice. Similarly, he is free to decide what protector to rely on; no one can say this is allowed or not allowed. It is his own choice.

However, just as I have told you, if a person treats Lhamo and Gyalpo Ku-nga as pre-eminent then there are stories of mishaps occurring if he then relies on Gyalchen. Therefore, I feel it will be beneficial if the collective religious bodies like the monasteries and their colleges are cautious about this; they are not at fault if they have been unaware of this issue. I too nearly took a disastrous step, I had recited Gyalchen’s invocation prayers very diligently and even informed Kyabje Rinpoche of my wish to receive “Life Entrustment.” Later sensing something amiss I thought, “Now, if I am not careful this won’t be safe”. I conducted a dough-ball examination and dice divination which were so convincing that since 1975 I have completely stopped the practice. I have not even had a portentous dream to make me wonder if the deity was vexed.

If we examine the history of Lhamo and the Five State Guardians they are found to have been inconceivably reliable. Can you tell how long the Drepungpas have relied on Lhamo? Is there any special account of her during Jamyang Choje’s (1379-1449) time? I wonder if she didn’t enter the picture at the time of the Victorious Gedun Gyatso (1475-1242), because “The Lord of Siddhas” (grdub-pa’i dbang-phyug) which is recited in the assembly today was presumably written and offered by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso (1423-1513) to the Victorious Gedun Gyatso as a long life prayer. Normally speaking there is no way that a work by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso would find a place in the Drepung Assembly prayers, but he and the Victorious Gedun Gyatso had an extraordinary mutual teacher and student relationship and while the Victorious Gedun Gyatso was serving his term as the Drepung Throne-Holder he incorporated the prayer for the fulfillment of wishes along with prayers invoking Lhamo into the Drepung Assembly recitations.

Let me digress, although no great purpose is served in relating a story from my dreams, still I think it will do no harm. One year, I dreamt that I was on the top of the Potala Palace, facing Drepung yet at the same time I was in the belly of Palden Lhamo and seemed to experience the clear light. While I was looking at Drepung Monastery, the melodious chanting of Lhamo’s invocation prayer rang clearly in my ears, and a man said to me, “This was incorporated into the Drepung Assembly recitations by the Victorious Gedun Gyatso, who also taught the tune.”

Considering the nature of the story I have told you, I wondered if this dream was not connected with it. So, there are many reasons why many highly qualified persons chose Lhamo and Gyalpo Ku-nga as protectors. Since they are infallible we can be quite at ease; they are protectors who we can by no means afford to abandon. On the other hand there is no need of those protectors who are fraught with complications and about whom we require many explanations to determine who they actually are.

END OF TALK TWO line-gothic

Background of the third talk:  An excerpt concerning reliance on the Dharma Protectors from a talk given by His Holiness, on the 18th July, 1980 at the Sera Religious Establishment to a meeting of ex-abbots, abbots, workers, a group of senior monks and the members of the Bylakuppe Regional Working Committee of the Tibetan Youth Congress and others.

It occurred to me that I should say something about the issue of Dharma Protectors. You have had a hard time with this, but that is not your fault. With regard to myself, I too have really had great difficulties with respect to reliance on the protectors.

Formerly, I too used to rely on Gyalchen and I recited his invocation prayers without a break. I even informed Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche of my wish to receive “Life Entrustment” from him and Kyabje Rinpoche had then got hold of a Lam-rim text needed during the “Life Entrustment” ritual. (Since this was later changed, he gave me the scripture separately). Hence, I also got caught in a great dilemma. The tussel was between my teacher Kyabje Rinpoche and a ferocious deity on one hand and mainly Palden Lhamo and the Gyalpo Ku-nga on the other. I was between the two. Since I am among the incarnations of the Lord Gendun Drup, the first Dalai Lama (1391-1474), it would be unbecoming if I did not conform my actions to the practices of the line of former incarnations of the Victorious Lords (the Dalai Lamas) and their glorious lives. In particular, beginning with the Peerless Fifth Dalai Lama the responsibility for wielding secular power of Tibet has fallen on the Dalai Lamas. Since I am shouldering responsibility for Tibet’s religious and secular affairs at present whether successfully or otherwise, Palden Lhamo and Dorje Drakden, the minister of the king of speech of the North direction, who is the embodiment of the Gyalpo Ku-nga, being the principal protectors relied upon by Tibet Ganden Podrang Government have an extraordinary connection with this responsibility. Some former officials have remarked that the past administration of Tibetan Government was entrusted to deities. It seems they were right, decisions were not simply taken by men after deliberation, instead a deity was consulted and then rituals were performed. If the administration was entrusted to a deity, it would be strange if that deity was then left unsa­tisfied, otherwise men would have find their own means. As it was deity-orientated, it would have been pointless if the deity in whom the decision-making power was invested were not gratified.

For instance, at the beginning of the Chinese intrusion, when I was still young, whenever the Government performed the summer and winter and other invocations of Nechung, he showed signs of being pleased before me and gave scrupulous advice on matters concerning Gyalwa Rinpoche’s (my) personal security. But when asked on the religious and secular matters he would only burst into taunting laughter. On occasion Gadong was used as an inter­mediary to invite Nechung and in view of the critical period Tibet’s religion and politics were passing through, the cabinet fervently requested Nechung to give clear-cut directions, but laughing a scornful HA-HA he disappeared.

Beginning around 1952 I started invoking Nechung in my private apartment and our relations gradually improved. As we became closer Nechung’s decrees became clearer and he started taking greater initiative in Tibet’s religious and political affairs. These days, for instance, whatever reluctance or divine resentment Nechung may have had, it has completely left him. After the flare-up of the controversy over the religious protectors in particular, I felt a sudden change in his attitude, like a dramatic change in the weather, and at that time I also had some very extraordinary dreams. Basically the source of discord came from Palden Lhamo’s side. From then on, as it became clearer and easier for me to decide which protectors to turn to and which to avoid, I began to have greater success correspondingly. Just as I began to achieve greater success in my work there were clear indications that Tibet’s religious and secular affairs, which are connected with my work, simultaneously started looking up. Basically it is luck; along with an increase in luck, success is related to the virtuous assistance of the protectors as a precondition.

In the same vein, I have written prayers invoking Tibet’s guardian deities and protectors. As I wrote them I wept, thinking of the plight of Tibet and how Tibet’s guardian deities and protectors, such as the Twelve Guardian Goddesses (bstan-ma bcu- gnyis), who are under the strict command of Acharya Padma Sambhava and who like we human refugees have become miserable without leadership and refuge. I am just a single-handed man.

I do not have any qualities or power of either a spiritual or worldly nature and although I am equal among men, because I bear the title of Gyalwa Rinpoche, the Precious Victor, I have tried to cheer up Tibet’s guardian deities and protectors. It is distressing, for among them, some like Wo-De Gong Gyal and Machen Bomra etc. are indigenous to Tibet and it is as though we are from the same stock. Anyhow, many conditions prompted me to compose these invocation prayers and they proved very beneficial.

In this way, through my own experience I have seen that many things have been verified. I have examined things from various angles and in conclusion, although I am not saying that Gyalchen is imperfect, however, it is quite clear that if a person depends mainly on Palden Lhamo and the Gyalpo Ku-nga, whether the dependent is an individual high lama or a monastery or a college, it is detrimental then to turn chiefly to Shugden.

It is like raising a huge building here at the Sera religious establishment, if things are done elaborately, they may look splendid for a short while, but as pomposity increased, there will be more gossip about it and this will eventually create a rift in the community. Fearing you would feel very upset if I had to speak about it after the building was complete and its interior decoration and fittings were installed, I thought, “What if I tell them about it from the outset, then it will be up to the monks to listen or not. Since the long term interest and the interests of the majority are the most important, although some may not like it at the time, I had better tell them about it clearly so there won’t be any cause for regret later”. This why I wrote you a letter. As you have unswerving faith and commitment to Gyalwa Rinpoche, I felt happy when you a heeded me and said you would do exactly as I told you. Although you had difficulties in doing so because you remained silent it has worked very well. I must say, “Thank You”.

I have distributed to each of the colleges a transcribed copy of a talk I gave sometime ago at Dharamsala concerning the causes of the issue of the Dharma Protectors, hoping that it could be understood with impartiality by those who would really like to know. But if it isn’t properly understood, it will be pointless if it is misused only to spread rumor and gossip. As the causes were explained in detail in that talk I need not spell them out here again.

I have told the whole of this story, from beginning to end, directly and clearly to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. And Kyabje Rinpoche said:

These investigations were done most thoroughly. Nechung’s declarations have never failed us at critical moments, the dough-ball examinations conducted before Lhamo in your apartment are the same. After the Fifth Dalai Lama had breathed his last, the Desi desperately prayed to His Holiness for guidance because the responsibility for the completion of the building of the Palace etc. had fallen on him. His Holiness revived once more and said to the Desi, ‘Don’t be so depressed, you can decide general matters through your own discretion; as for those you can not decide, conduct a dough- ball examination before this thanka painting of Lhamo which was the chief object of worship and reliance of the Victorious Gendun Gyatso.’ No one to this day has ever been deceived by a dough-ball examination done in front of this thanka. There must be special significance behind this.

That is what Kyabje Rinpoche himself told me. It seems, that some people who haven’t understood the situation are saying that Gyalwa Rinpoche’s guru-devotion practice has degenerated and that he is rising against his two tutors. Whatever they may say, it doesn’t make any difference to me, for as we say, “You must be true to yourself”. If you haven’t done anything wrong, then that’s that. It is possible that some who are unaware of the matter may wonder, “Now, what is this?” Well, I have told you how the story goes. Besides this, I explained it to Kyabje Rinpoche himself and that as far as he is concerned, being the chief disciple of Kyabje Phabongka he is following his guru’s practice in relying on Gyalchen and having a connection with Gyalchen from his former lives, he hasn’t created a new one which didn’t exist before, so that he needn’t abandon Gyalchen, but I requested him to consider two things; that it is imperative not to misjudge who is the chief and who is the subordinate protector and that what may happen in future lives is uncertain, although he has had a successful career in this present life.

I haven’t been like those who will say behind someone’s back what they can’t say to his face or who bully a person who can be bullied and roll up in meekness when he can’t. So this is how things are in general.

Whether you are from Je College or Mey College or an individual house, you must hold as pre-eminent the protector who has been assigned by the founder of the monastery or the college. Apart from that, there is no point in adding new ones to those you already have anti being over-elaborate about them. But if an individual through his karmic relations with Gyalchen has received tangible and commonly acknowledged results, then that is an exception. Otherwise things can turn out worse than better if you indulge in various elaborations. I nearly did the same; I, who am called ‘The All Knowing One’, and who bear that title nearly fell under the influence of ignorance. Thus, there is a danger that you too might fall under the same influence. So, you must all be particularly careful.

Now, as for Gyalchen’s story; basically Gyalchen is established as valid by citing Nechung as the source. There is an account which says that in the beginning Nechung’s miracles evoked him, intermediately, Nechung induced Panchen Sonam Dragpa and finally, Nechung made him meet with a condition (to rise as Gyalchen). If Nechung has to be depended on, then today under this sky no one knows Nechung better than I do; and after thinking about it and investigating it I find that there is no support or backing from Nechung.

A plan had been drawn up in the beginning but owing to some obstacles it did not meet with success. Though I do not have any clairvoyance, I have done thorough investigations from various angles. May be I am being stubborn, but even if something is stated by lamas I examine it by comparing and contrasting it with what Je Rinpoche has said. Similarly I do not simply take for granted what a Dharma Protector has said. I think about it, and even do divination myself. Thus, I am very careful and cautious, and do not act rashly. That is my nature.

About Nechung, I inquired through Gadong whether Nechung’s judgement has been direct and unerring both in Tibet and after coming to India, “He can be trusted completely” was the answer. Presumably, there are some who speculate that this issue has arisen because I listen credulously to Nechung and that there is disharmony between Nechung and Gyalchen, which is like some ordinary jealousy between them. Basically, Palden Lhamo is at the root of this.

Moreover, if we Gelugpas accept the validity of popular conventions, we must conform to what is widely known in the world. What is called inconceivable and secret is a different matter. Just as we found yesterday, in the Golden Garland Of Good Explanation (legs-bshad gser-phreng) that the presentation of popular conventions would be inexplicable if we had to base them on the miraculous transformation of an instant into an aeon and aeon into an instant by the high level Arya Bodhisattvas. Similarly, we cannot base our practices of abandonment and accomplishment on the inconceivable secrets which are only within the Tathagatas field of experience. Thus, we must go by what is most widely accepted in the world. If we do this, then it is doubtful whether the present Gyalchen is the next birth of the continuum of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen or whether Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was the reincarnation of Dulzin Drakpa Gyaltsen. Even if we assume he was, still this business arose not out of harmony, but from the disharmony between Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and the Victorious Fifth Dalai Lama, as is evident if you read his biography. If we say that the well-known things mentioned in the biography were for the sake of less intelligent disciples or were related from the point of view of worldly conventions, and that matters of inconceivable secrecy are somehow different and extraordinary, well then, let us first develop a refined consciousness capable of experiencing such mystical things. If we had such a consciousness we could then make use of them, but so long as our mind-stream remains an ordinary consciousness we simply have to go by popular conventions. If the person is at an ordinary level but the object of experience is something of inconceivable secrecy then he cannot experience it.

In general, it is the tantras which speak of religious protectors. By engaging in the practice of deity-yoga once brings these protectors under control and commands them to assist one to accomplish various activities such as pacification, which are done as a means to attain enlightenment for the sake of others and oneself. But if a person who lacks such power beats a dilapidated old drum until it is worn out, it won’t do much good. Alternatively there will be visible benefits if one is serious about his practice of refuge and checks his observance of the law of cause and effect, it will be a better expression of the Buddhist outlook. Ordinary people especially, who have a deep-seated interest in food and clothing for the present life might see worldly gods and spirits as more beneficial and helpful then Buddha Shakyamuni when they are caught in a tight spot. Since there is no obvious rite to propitiate Buddha Shakyamuni in order to accomplish longevity, wealth and success in business ventures, there is a great likelihood of their entrusting themselves whole-heartedly to these gods. If this should happen the Buddhist practice of refuge is thrown to the wind and if the refuge practice is discarded, the person will cease to be a Buddhist. So, you must take the utmost care.

Having understood these things, you should give up or retain practices accordingly. Those of you who have already sought “life Entrustment” with Gyalchen need not give him up, but can continue to rely on him. However, it would be good if you are not over-elaborate about it arid don’t give the impression that he is the Lord of the Dharma Protectors; rely on his without confusing the status of the protectors, taking the real state affairs into consideration. For those of you who have not sought “life Entrustment” from him there is no point at all in buying a noose for your own neck.

The Kadampa traditions is the best. They had four deities: Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of the Doctrine, Arya Avalokiteshvara, the deity of great compassion, Arya Tara, the deity of virtuous activity and Achala, the deity who removes obstacles. To these were added the paths of the three persons or the three baskets of teachings. Together, the tradition was called the Seven-fold Deity and Dharma Tradition. Their practice was as simple as that, without elaborate propitiation rituals like offering incense-smoke and gold-libation etc. to worldly spirits and demons. We have not achieved realizations like those gained by past lamas, yet we undertake many ritualistic performances which they couldn’t afford. In terms of virtuous assistance and accomplishments we have gained nothing from these rituals.

So, this has been something about Gyalchen. I have been informal here, but I have spoken frankly, for there would be no point in talking at length about it otherwise. If you need to tell someone about it, then tell the complete story comprehensively, otherwise it will be better if you don’t disclose this to anybody as if it were some everyday affairs.

END OF TALK THREE line-gothic

Background of the fourth talk: An excerpt concerning reliance on the Dharma Protectors from a talk given by His Holiness on the 29th of March, 1983 in the Convention Hall above the Drepung Great Assembly Hall, Mundgod, to a gathering of ex-abbots and abbots of the three chief monasteries, the two tantric colleges, the Tashi Lhunpo, Nyingma and Sakya Monasteries.

Now, one of the things I want to talk to you about is the Dharma Protectors. Today, an unusual new situation had developed. Since you are going to hear about it sooner or later, if I do not tell you the abbots, it is possible that through misunderstanding and confusion you may wonder what has happened. So I thought I should tell you what really happened before I leave this religious establishment.

The Gyalchen statue in the Chogyal (Dharma Raja) chapel in the Great Assembly Hall of Ganden may have been made before I imposed a restriction on him. Still, even after the recent controversy over Gyalchen, it is not easy for me to ask that a statue which has already been installed be changed. It has remained like this for some years until now, since it was obviously not at all easy for the Ganden La Che, the Ganden Central Executive Committee members to do anything about it. After my arrival here the other day some people said to me, “There is a Shugden statue in the Ganden Chogyal chapel”. I told them that it had already been installed and nothing could be done about it. In my mind I did not have any intention to make an issue out of it and I had pretended not to see or know about it. I understand that you too were helpless to do anything except to leave it as it was.

Then, I spend two nights at Jangtse College and two nights at Shartse College. On the second night at Shartse I had a dream; it was four in the morning when I woke up. At the end of that very disturbed dream, I saw a mace, said to be the symbol of office of the Chief Disciplinarian of the Great Assembly (Tsogchen Shal-ngo). It was like a mace made of wood, resembling the club belonging to Drepung Gomang College. A voice said, “This is Shugden’s main object of residence which was given to him by one of the Panchens: it must be destroyed. I thought to myself, “How can it be destroyed? Unless it is smashed with a hammer or sawn into pieces, it can’t be done.” At that moment, one of bodyguards called Chogyal (Dharma Raja) said, “It must be smashed with a hammer; it will not do if it is not totally destroyed.” Someone said, “That’s a good idea.” On examination the mace was found to have a silver band around it. Since it couldn’t be smashed with a hammer the silver band had to be removed with a chisel, Chogyal the bodyguard said, “I will smash it to pieces.” Nearby where it was being destroyed, there was a lake into which I threw the broken parts. On the top of the mace there were three or four green peg-shaped knotted tassels and it occurred to me that it would not be proper if these fell in people’s hands. So, I removed them and threw them into the lake. This was the kind of dream I had.

On waking I became curious and wondered what the dream meant; I did a rosary-divination with the intention of discovering whether the dream was worthy of a consideration or not, and the resultant number of beads was seven and eight. That very day I was to pay a visit to the Great Assembly Hall of Ganden. Although I usually conduct dough-ball tests before Lhamo, on this occasion because there was a special connection with Dharma Raja himself, I thought it would be better to do the dough-ball test before him while making a sixty-section cake offering. I wrote our three points and gave them to Tawawar, asking him to roll them up in three dough-balls. I sent word to have sixty-section cake made in the private chamber of the Ganden Assembly Hall. Nobody else had faintest idea of this development and I thought it would not be appropriate if any non-humans came to know of it.

On reaching the Great Assembly Hall, I recited The Hundred Deities of the Joyous Land (dga’a-ldan lha-brgya-ma), one rosary of Mig-tse-ma and then A RA PA TSA which is what I usually say. At the end of the recitations of the name mantras of my gurus, I generated the inner and external Dharma Rajas through instantaneous upright generation (skad-cig dkrong-bskyed) and recited Dharma Raja’s commitment restoration and confession prayers and his name mantra a few times. Then I made the sixty- sectioned offering. When I was about to roll the dough-balls I recited Mig-tse-ma, the mantra of Mahakala, and Lhamo respec­tively a few times and then I rolled the balls before the sixty-sectioned cake was taken out.

The three options I wrote down were: “It would be better to leave things as they are”, “It would be better to wait for a better occasion in future to take a step”, because I thought a time would come to renovate Ganden, and the statue could then be taken sway without being noticed; and “It would be better to change things now”.

While rolling them, another option came to mind; “If it would be better to change things now, would in be better to speak of it right now or to mention it after the hectic Monlam festivities have subsided?” Since, there was no way to roll this into a dough-ball there and then, and because at times the dough-ball falls off languidly and at other times it jumps off suddenly, I said to myself mentally, “If I have to tell them right now, the dough-ball should jump out at once and if I have tell them after the Monlam festivities have sett­led, the ball should roll our slowly.” Generating this inten­tion, I rolled the three balls, and one jumped out suddenly. When opened it read, “It would be better to change things now”.

That being the outcome, I sent at once for the abbots, ex-abbots, some important officials, dialecticians and senior Geshes from both Shartse and Jangtse Colleges. Explaining things to them above the Assembly Hall just as I have explained them to you now, I asked then, “Can the statue of Gyalchen be taken to a place where there is a Gyalchen shrine or given to a Gyalchen devotee? If not, there is nothing to do but to plead with him (the wisdom being) to leave. However, as has been said, “If you think you can’t do what you have been told, explain the reasons for your inability.” Just as we find in the Restoration and Purification Sutra (gso-sbyong) I asked them once, twice and thrice, “Have you anything to say?” but they said nothing; so as it says further, “If nothing is said, it should be taken as it is.” (i.e. the proposal isaccepted). So that’s what I decided. This unforeseen event took place recently. The Ganden Central Executive Committee will see to it that the decision is carried out.

Since the news about this will spread gradually to other monasteries, it is possible that some will say that the statue of Gyalchen in the Ganden Great Assembly Hall has been got rid of. If such people some, tell them that I have not taken this step rashly through guess work or without examining and analysing things. I did not have any previous intention to do such a thing, but on my arrival here I had that dream. Now, there is no point in giving importance to dreams for, generally speaking, we will continue to have mistaken perception as long as there is ignorance in our mind-stream. If we have mistaken perceptions while we are awake, then dreams are doubly mistaken, so there is no relying on them. However, wondering what my dream could mean I did a divination and got a result. Still, out of great concern, making the sixty-sectioned cake offering and praying fervently to Dharma Raja, I conducted a dough-ball test above the Assembly Hall and I got the results I mentioned earlier. In this way I have been extremely careful and have not acted indiscriminately. Since this matter will be much talked about later, I wondered if the presiding abbots of the colleges would then explain the underlying cause of this matter. Since the Tantric Colleges, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and the other colleges will also come to hear of it, if you explain to them the earlier and later causes of this issue what I have told you about it and how things stand now they will be convinced. That is why I thought I should give this explanation to you.

END OF TALK FOUR line-gothic

Additional sources

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

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.



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.


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.


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”:



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.


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:


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:


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



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:



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.


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


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.


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?



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.


See also

Update June 26, 2015


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