(Un) Holy Truth’s

The following thoughts have been posted by Buddhism under Assault.

(Un)Holy Truths

The polemic of the NKT and WSS has, in recent weeks, become more aggressive and unkind. In attempting to use shock journalism in order to dictate the spiritual policies of the monasteries in exile, the WSS is undermining the Tibetan community in the only country where they can dictate the policies of their own monasteries – India.

The presentation of the “facts” given by the WSS is aimed at creating negative publicity at any cost using the techniques of shock journalism. Inaccurate parallels are drawn between the conflict in India and the holocaust and segregation. While the situations are completely different from both an anthropological and historical perspective, the techniques are as effective with the uninformed public as they are dishonest.

In addition, skewed and self-serving “eyewitness accounts” from South India are being published on their websites, which often distort realities in such a marked way the events they describe are unrecognizable to the communities they are writing about. While it is not appropriate for laypeople to be turned away from shops and this should be addressed, monasteries must protect the rule of law and community decisions in their compounds. When one ordains as a monk, one agrees to rule of the majority according to monastic principles.

By trying to contravene a rule decided upon by voting according to Vinaya principles, the Shugden devotees went against monastic law. To allow such people to continue as part of the assembly would have been detrimental to the unity of the monastery. But far from kicking them out, both Sera and Ganden monasteries allowed the houses concerned to keep all of their khangtsen buildings, kitchens and dormitories. From reading WSS accounts, however, one would be inclined to believe that these Shugden devotees are homeless – which is clearly not the case. Merely, the two communities are functioning separately in order to protect communal harmony and avoid the disputes. By all accounts things are now more peaceful.

A deep contradiction is evident here to those familiar with the history of the NKT, which, unfortunately the public is not. In 2002 there were two high-profile teaching visits by FPMT lamas, Zopa Rinpoche and Geshe Tegchok. Kelsang Gyatso sent letters to Manjushri and Madhyamaka Centres, stating that people were free to go if they chose, however they would no longer be his students. From all accounts, no longer being a student of Geshe Kelsang would make living in an NKT centre uncomfortable and nearly impossible. So, in effect, the NKT itself also limits the practices of its members. Except in this case, no referendum was held, it was simply an autocratic decision by the NKT leadership.

Another startling aspect of this campaign is the fits of exaggeration in the literature of the Western Shugden Society. If one watches their website the reports change from day-to-day on the number of protestors for example. In France the number was at first “nearly 500″, then “over 500″ finally, “700″. The photos of the protests show no noticeable change in the numbers in the crowd.

Kelsang Pema, spokesperson for the WSS, also made patent exaggerations in her case to reporters which would be immediately obvious to anyone following Gelugpa scriptures. During the protests in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she told reporters that the Dalai Lama was teaching “Texts are commentaries to this (the Shugden) prayer. So he is making money from teaching the commentaries to the practice, but denying the prayer.” This interview is proudly posted on the WSS website, seemingly because they believe the uneducated public will not be able to point out such contradictions. The Lam Rim Chenmo, on which the Dalai Lama was teaching, was coined hundreds of years before the practice of Shugden. There is no mention at all of Shugden in the text, so to claim it was a commentary to the practice is an outright fabrication.

Photographs of walls at the monasteries become proof of “holocaust” tactics to ghettoize minority communities. But the fact is that many walls of similar height have existed in these monasteries to keep out livestock, noise and thieves – serving purposes no different than the walls around the houses of Indian farmers in the same area.. Photographs of monks using a hose to bring water to their room through a window becomes proof that Dalai Lama supporters are denying these monks water. In actual fact, many of the houses don’t have separate taps and the reality of life in India is that most people have to take water into their rooms through a hose shared with the rest of the compound.

In closing, while monasteries must have the right to set religious policies for their members, it is unfortunate that some Tibetans in the lay community have become overzealous and turned Shugden supporters away from shops. With negotiation, this problem could likely easily be solved. However, through its widespread distortion and exaggeration of the facts, the WSS only serves to further the reputation of the Shugden monks as being untrustworthy agitators.

One really wonders who benefits the most from this campaign in the end. The Shugden devotees in India, or the NKT who seek to discredit the other Buddhists who critique their spiritual practices?

For more see: “ESSAYS from readers…”


In France there were between 250-350 protesters.


  1. Hello

    I was in Nantes 2 weeks ago – there were about 600 protestors. But on a deeper point your article seems to indicate an inability to separate religious prerogatives (such as teachers having freedom to choose not to teach certain people) and political expediency (such as religious leaders with temporal responsibility like the Dalai Lama imposing their wishes on millions of people worldwide).

    Whether you agree or not with my statement there is definitely a difference.

    How do you feel about the Dalai Lama repudiating his lineage gurus and thereby invalidating his own religious authority?

    comment TP
    Hi Croatia. Thank you for picking up the discussion of the number of protesters. I was also there. To verify my own perception I checked with another monk. He said there were five coaches, each can accommodate 50-60 people. Suppose they were really full there would be 250-300 protesters who came by bus. Some came by car, some by flight. So maybe there were 250-350 protesters. To me it appeared they were rather few. The monk I asked said: ‘to be fair, there were about 250-300 protesters’. So, I corrected the number in the annotation above. Thank you for your remark regarding the number. According to my own perception, to claim there were 600 protesters is an exaggeration. I will ask some more witnesses in the next days and correct, if this is not correct.

    Regarding your thoughts about the content of this article. First let me state, it is a quote of an article written by another monk. It is not my article.
    Regarding your argument, this is incorrect. HH the Dalai Lama is the highest Tulku in the Gelug school and therefore the highest spiritual authority. He is not a mere political leader as NKT/WSS wrongly claims. As the highest Gelug Tulku and highest spiritual authority he can and should give advice. This is his responsibility – it is much more his great kindness to share his insights and understanding – and this is what Tibetans, Buddhist masters, abbots, monks and nuns expect from him to offer. It is also clear that there are different levels of Tulkus with a different level of realisations. That’s why in this issue the majority relies on the spiritual authority of the highest Gelug Tulku, HHDL, as it would be done also in the Kagyue school. You can improve your understanding by reading the paper of von Brück which addressed these fine discriminations and the related difficulties. Another point is, that the monasteries had so many problems with the Shugden monks and also other hindrances they asked HHDL’s advise. This is not “imposing” his wishes onto others, but to answer their questions and to fulfil his duties. He is in line with the policies of previous Dalai Lamas and many other high tulkus who share his position.

    Sadly this seem to be the pattern of NKT/WSS: based on non-knowledge, bias and a narrow minded view they oversimplify the facts, based on that they practice fault-finding and develop pride (to be superior and the last upholders of Tsongkhapa’s “pure” lineage) while developing hostility and aggression against those “mixing” his school, based on that they trace the perceived faults as “evidence” wrongly back to the Dalai Lama, and finally – mixed with more ignorance about cause and effect (the second Nobel Truth) – they blame HHDL as the sole source of the Shugden problems, put him into a context with Hitler and starting finally a world wide Anti-Dalai-Lama campaign.

  2. The first comment I did not give correct email address..it is here.

  3. For your information, the administrative head of the Gelugpa, (the Dalai Lama is and has most often been the spiritual head – this can be seen because on the back of every Gelug monastery ID cart – pre and post Shugden restrictions, there is typed “Patron:HH Dalai Lama”), is the Ganden Tripa. The 100th Ganden Tripa has supported His Holiness’ position on Shugden completely:
    If it (Shugden) were a real protector, it should protect the people. There may not be any protector such as this, which needs to be protected by the people. Is it proper to disturb the peace and harmony by causing conflicts, unleashing terror and shooting demonous words in order to please the Dharma protector? Does this fulfill the wishes of our great masters? Try to analyze and contemplate on the teachings that had been taught in the Lamrim (stages of path), Lojong (training of mind) and other scriptural texts. Does devoting time in framing detrimental plots and committing degrading act, which seems no different from the act of attacking monasteries wielding swords and spears and draining the holy robes of the Buddha with blood, fulfill the wishes of our great masters?

    The 101st Ganden Tripa has also given up Shugden.

  4. Hi, Would it be possible to list the last 5 gurus of the Gelugpa lineage please – humor me please.

    Also, I met a Kagyu practitioner who told me that the DL was only a Gelugpa for political reasons (they once being the sect that hold much of the power) – and has since decided he is no longer a Gelugpa but a practitioner of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.


    comment TP
    How you list “list the last 5 gurus of the Gelugpa lineage” depends on what presentation you follow. Not all Gelugpas have Trijang or Pabongkha Rinpoche in their transmission lineage although a great influence of them can not be denied. There are many Gelugpas who have a different transmission. Moreover it depends on what kind of transmission in the Gelug school you are referring to. Every lineage is a bundle of different lineages with different lineage lamas. It is not that simplistic as taught in NKT that the only two high Gelug Gurus after Tsongkhapa were Pabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche, and of course Geshe Kelsang Gyatso as the third Buddha ;-)

    Regarding the Kagyuepa, this is his opinion, why not. Others don’t have such a opinion, why not?

    When you claim HHDL “has since decided he is no longer a Gelugpa but a practitioner of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.” it follows Atisha is no Kadampa and Tsongkhapa no Gelugpa because they also were practitioner of all schools of Buddhism. All high masters are non-sectarian and very humble this is the result of a genuine Bodhichitta and of a high level of realisation. As it has been said the childish ones can not understand the wise… or as the Buddha puts it:

    Wise ones, do not befriend
    The faithless, who are mean
    And slanderous and cause schism.
    Don’t take bad people as your companions.

    Just as the clean kusha grass
    That wraps a rotten fish
    Will also start to rot,
    So too will those devoted to an evil person.

    Just as a leaf folded
    To contain an incense offering
    Also becomes sweet,
    So too will those devoted to the virtuous.

    When one does no wrong yet
    Is devoted to evil people,
    One will still be abused,
    For others suppose that this one too is bad.

    The devotee acquires the same faults
    As the person not worthy of devotion,
    Like an untainted arrow smeared
    With the poison of a tainted sheath.

    Steadfast ones who fear the taint of faults,
    Do not befriend bad people.
    By close reliance and devotion
    To one’s companion,
    Soon one becomes just like
    The object of one’s devotion.

    Therefore, knowing that one’s devotion
    Is like the casing of the fruit,
    The wise devote themselves to holy,
    Not to unholy people,
    And drawn along the monk’s path
    They find the end of misery.

    Just as a spoon cannot taste the sauce,
    Infantile ones do not understand
    The doctrine, even after
    A lifetime of devotion to the wise.

    Just as the tongue can taste the sauce.
    Those with wisdom can understand
    The entire doctrine, after just
    A brief attendance on the wise.

    Because infantile ones lack eyes to see,
    Though they devote their lifetimes
    To the wise, they never
    Understand the entire doctrine.
    Those with wisdom fully understand
    The entire doctrine after just
    A brief attendance on the wise.
    They have eyes to see.

    Though they devote their lifetimes
    To wise beings, infantile ones
    Do not understand the doctrine
    Of the Buddha in its entirety.
    Those with wisdom understand
    The doctrine of the Buddha
    In its entirety after just
    A brief attendance on the wise.

    Even just one meaningful line
    Sets the wise ones to their task,
    But all the teaching that the Buddhas gave
    Won’t set infantile ones to work.

    The intelligent will understand
    A hundred lines from one,
    But for the infantile beings
    A thousand lines do not suffice for one.

    [If one must chose between them],
    Better the wise even if unfriendly.
    No infant is suited to be a friend.
    Sentient beings intimate with
    The infant-like are led to hell.

    Wise persons are those who know
    Infantile ones for what they are:
    ‘Infantile ones’ are those
    Who take infants to be the wise.

    The censure of the wise
    Is far preferable
    To the eulogy or praise
    Of the infant.

    Devotion to infants brings misery.
    Since they are like one’s foe,
    It is best to never see or hear
    Or have devotion for such people.

    Like meeting friends, devotion to
    The steadfast causes happiness.

    Therefore, like the revolving stars and moon,
    Devote yourself to the steadfast, moral ones
    Who have heard much, who draw on what is best –
    The kind, the pure, the best superior ones.

  5. Hello

    I have never heard that the dalai lama is the highest tulku. Who says this please? I never heard it from the spiritual head of any tibetan school until this generation were terrified into agreeing with the pronouncements of the currect tibetan government in exile. Can you give me any valid references for your claim please?

    In fact if we look at the reincarnation system in tibetan buddhism we see it is filled with flaws, contradictions and much political wrangling due to the power and wealth associated with tulkus.

    My personal feeling is that the present dalai lama is a mistake. Why do I say that? Because his nature and actions are completely different to those of the first 3 dalai lamas. They strove never to abandon their guru.

    This dalai lama has repudiated his guru so he is not even a qualified student, let alone teacher, let alone tuilku in my humble opinion. Sorry if that view is not to your liking.

    comment TP
    I am sorry I can not offer you a source at the moment which verifies my claim. That HHDL is the highest Gelug Tulku is common knowledge, like that water has the quality of moisture. Just I asked a Tibetan monk and medical doctor at our place, he wondered about my question and said of course he is the highest. I guess that this topic is not known to NKT followers is due to GKG’s policy to forbid Tulkus in his NKT and to promote no understanding about Tibetan history and Tibetan Buddhism – besides some few one-sided accounts. What I learnt is that there are different levels of Tulkus dependent on their realisations. So they are discriminated in high tulkus and not so high tulkus. Once I saw a text by Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, it was very complex and I didn’t read in full, just some passages. You can see the similarities in the Kagyue tradition, there HH Karmapa is regarded as the highest and the main authority. Although in the Gelug school the formal highest authority is the Ganden Tripa, there is a big difference if someone is a formal head of something and the different levels of tulkus. I think Khedrub can explain more about this. Due to this understanding all Gelug masters – besides very very few controversial teachers like Kundeling lama or Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – see HHDL also as the highest Gelug authority and see themselves as his servants. You may read a bit the biography of Tsenshab Serkong Rinpoche to get an initial idea: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/teachers/tsenzhab_serkong_rinpoche/portrait_serkong_rinpoche.html

    Its is also clear that Pabongkha was not a very high authority but respected the higher authority of the 13th Dalai Lama otherwise there would be no reason to him to write to the 13th Dalai Lama to excuse his faults of spreading Shugden worship and to promise him to stop its propagation. (This you’ll find in Dharma Losang Dorje’s Biography of Pabongkha Rinpoche, the letter is in Vol 14 (Lhasa Edition), page 471 ff. Von Brück quotes the letter in his German research: http://info-buddhismus.de/shugden.html#MvB. Sadly this is not in his English paper.)

    In general the Tulku system is not without faults but it fulfilled also his functions. Many Tibetans, including HHDL, are very critical of it. On the other hand the incredible qualities of HHDL speak their own language. His amazing and abundant qualities convinced even the most sceptical academics, like Berzin or Hopkins. Hopkins e.g. thought in the beginning HHDL is just a puppet of the Tibetan system, but when they encountered him and became familiar with him he and so many other scholars and Buddhists (and of course foreign Buddhist masters or religious practitioners of other traditions, like Thomas Merton) were just amazed about his incredible knowledge, calmness, wisdom and compassion. Of course as you had not the chance to meet him you may believe what NKT tells you. It could be helpful to read some other sources which draw a different picture. It’s up to you to leave your knowledge as it is or to broaden it. I had only win in questioning the NKT propaganda and to open my mind. Best Wishes.

    I forgot: HHDL didn’t repudiate one of his Gurus, he repudiate a practice which he views as wrong and not in accordance with the Dharma. Such an approach is not only very correct it is even strongly advised. It is also advised in the commentary to Guru devotion by Je Tsongkhapa who said one should not follow “if it is an improper and irreligious command”, which is based on the Vinaya Sutra: “If someone suggests something which is not consistent with the Dharma, avoid it.” (The Fulfillment of All Hopes: Guru Devotion in Tibetan Buddhism, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-153-X, page 64)

    If you are open and wish to improve your understanding please see the quotes and thoughts here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Kelsang_Gyatso#POV_.22One_of_the_strongest_tenants_of_Buddhism_is_to_never_forsake_your_teachers_teachings..22
    For more see: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/x/nav/n.html_687060623.html

  6. We can see that the important lamas of all the lineages regard HIs Holiness as a very high tulku:

    “As the head of Nyingma tradition, Kyabje Minling Trichen Rinpoche has shown an unwavering faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which is a matter of great honour.”

    His Holiness Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya order, making long life offerings to His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

    Bob Thurman, Professor of Buddhist studies on the relationship between HH Karmapa and HHDL:
    That the Karmapa and Dalai Lama have a “wonderful mentor, senior-junior relationship bodes very well for unity between these important lamas and their orders,” Thurman said. “This is very important for the unity of the Tibetan community.”

    In short, the senior lamas of all the lineages have deeply respectful relationships with His Holiness. What relations do modern Shugden propagating lamas have with the teachers of other traditions?

  7. His Holiness Penor Rinpochey, former head of the Nyingma school and abbot of Namdroling, the largest Nyingma monastery-in-exile, confirms Dalai Lama serves as religious head of all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism:

    After 1959, when the Tibetan lamas came to India as refuges, His Holiness the Dalai Lama continued to serve as the supreme head of all the religious traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, as he had been in Tibet. He continued to act in this capacity, but he decided that it would be good if each of the main lineages were to select a supreme head to govern their own religious affairs and to take care of various other responsibilities. As refugees in India, the Nyingmapas selected His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche as the supreme head of the Nyingma School. After his passing away His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was selected.

    His Holiness Phakchok Rinpochey, head of the Taglung Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism:
    Receiving ordination from the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, he was formally named Tenzin Jigmey Drakpa.

    Photo of HH 16th (previous) Karmapa with HHDL:

    Highest Lamas of Sakya school give long life offering to HHDL:

    “When His Holiness reached the centre the actual main long life puja was begun.
    Formal and Traditional offerings were made to His Holiness in the set order of the traditional Long Life ritual, by all the key figures of the Sakya tradition. ”

    Is this enough proof of the high position and deep faith and respect HH has in Tibetan Buddhism or shall I continue? There are many more examples.

    We can see that the relationships of HHDL and the high lamas of all lineages of Tibetan Buddhism have weathered the test of time. This is not something the WSS can destroy with their misleading campaign.

  8. Hi Tenzin,

    thank you so much for allowing open debate on this issue. NKTworld were gracious enough to publish my first essay, but declined to publish my second, which was partly a response to the above article.

    Most of us campaigning on this issue do lack first-hand experience of the persecution and have not been to India ourselves. We can learn from yourself Khedrub and others, and refine our understanding of some of the complexities and subtleties of the situation. Certainly we should not be afraid of information, unless it is clearly false. For example, I would like to know if it is really the case that Tibetans are unable to travel without a Tibetan ID card, and if this is dependent upon signing to say that they abandon Shugden practice.

    I believe there is some misunderstanding arising from how we choose to view the Tibetan community in exile. If we can answer this question clearly then maybe everything else falls into place. Is the Tibetan community in exile a free and democratic community or is it a Dalai Lama fan club? If it aspires to be a free and democratic community then the ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden is out of place. If the Tibetan exile community is being made into a Dalai Lama fan club then it makes perfect sense!

    However, even if we were to accept defeat in trying to hold DL and TGIE to the standards of freedom of Western democracies, we would still have to question his right to demand that people should cease all contact with those who worship Shugden – contained within the pledge that Tibetans now have to sign. Even if my memebership of a particular darts team means I can’t belong to a different darts team, I can still surely be friends.

    Frankly, I am starting to wonder if WSS will have to moderate its position at some point in order to achieve the practical goal of peace and harmony. Although we believe this discrimination to be wrong, if this group of 100 000 wish to place their allegiance to DL above the principles of tolerance and understanding, do we really have any come back? Whilst we believe that the reasons that he has given to justify this action are false, we have no right to demand that people reject them.

    Martin Luther King often came up against a white majority who were opposed to his ambition of de-segregation. He wasn’t inclined to soften his demands in view of this, as he believed that the system of segregation was morally and spiritually wrong, and harmful to everyone who lived under it. However, the Tibetan exile community are a group of 100 000 people within a country of 1000 000 000, making them a tiny minority group, so the comparison falls down in this respect (and I’m not saying it’s the same in all respects either).

    Does anyone have the right to demand to belong to a minority group that doesn’t want them in its midsts?

    However, I also think that if DL and TGIE are so keen to get rid of Shugden worshippers then they should be billed for the cost of their resettlement within India, language lessons so they can lean Hindi, and so on.

    Anyway…. just a few musings to perhaps take discussion in a new direction.

  9. Hi there Adam,

    The TGIE is democratic when it comes to political issues, and has a modern Parliament like assemby which Tibetan exiles vote for during elections. So political decisions are decided upon by TGIE representatives. HHDL has pulled out from many governmental positions, and the process of democratization in the TGIE has been rapid considering Tibetans just found out about this form of government after coming into exile. HHDL is views as an important moral authority, but the functions of government are managed by these elected representatives.

    The spiritual head of the Tibetan people is His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is considered the most important Guru in Tibetan Buddhism. There is no way to reconcile guru devotion in Vajrayana (which, after all, the NKT practices as well) with democratic process. For this reason, HIs Holiness the Dalai Lama and the heads of the respective lineages have final advice in religious affairs. However, in the monasteries themselves monks must still choose how to apply the advice – as they did with the stick referendum, which as I have said, is completely in line with Vinaya principles of democracy. These principles are benefit of the many over benefit of the few, rule of majority. Every monk who ordains and joins a monastery knows how this works.

    I feel the monasteries have already been generous to these monks who refuse to obey the monastic rules as decided by the majority, because the monasteries allowed them to keep their khangtsen buildings, prayer halls and kitchens. Considering how well sponsored and established Shugden lamas are in the West, it would be hard to believe these monks don’t have money for food, and in fact they may be better sponsored than other non-Shugden houses in the monastery, whose lamas might not have Western and Taiwanese students. This is they key difference between the haves and have-nots in the monastery: which lamas have Western or Chinese students. Certainly many non-Shugden houses have foreign money coming in as well, but not all.

    Finally, regarding the ID cards. Last week I spoke to my good friend Ven. Thogmed, who resides at Ganden monastery. We spoke in Tibetan, and then I asked him to confirm what he said in English. I asked if monks were required to show ID cards at Tibetan shops when buying food, he said this is “complete nonesense”. The France 24 report would seem to confirm this. The Shugden monk asks if he can come in, and the woman says “Welcome.” It is only after he loudly proclaims ‘I am a Shugden devotee, can I buy something.” that she asks him to leave. Clearly, this is a case of agitation.

    As well, in the case of Sera, Kushalnagar, a large Indian town with many shops, is closer to the monastery than Camps 1 and 2, the Tibetan settlements. So most monks buy their house food at Kushalnagar. It would be expensive and pointless to purchase most of one’s groceries from the Camps, and there is much less variety.

    Hope this clears things up. As for the WSS campaign, I definitely agree it should be toned down. Angry accusations and name-calling are never effective methods for reaching a compromise. But, to be honest, it doesn’t seem that a compromise is what they are interested in.

  10. I have met the dalai lama, received teachings and empowerments from him. All of this was before I understood his attitude towards his guru Trijang Rinpoche was incorrect. After I decided he was not a qualified student let alone teacher. There is no doubt about his repudiation. It was know that he even referred to his teacher in his old age as having a “green brain” which means he considered Trijang to be senile. How appalling an attitude towards one’s precious teacher! To me it beggars belief frankly…there are many saying of this dalai lama which are hard to reconcile with him being a supposed spiritual leader..

    The fact that many high lamas etc recognise the dalai lama as “highest tulku” really is not proof of anything as there are many high lamas who disagree with this view…and I mean many. Of course if they go public with these views then we can see what happens to them as per the example of Geshe Kelsang..basically they are demonized and marginalized. They are discriminated against in a way that is simply unacceptable and this must stop if there is to be peace among Buddhists.

    Regarding WSS I have been on most of the demos. They are joyful affairs. We are encouraged at the beginning to remember our motivation for shouting loudly “Dalai Lama Stop Lying!” is compassion, and our intention is pure as we are trying to save the religious tradition given to us by our teachers….

    TP says he was in Nantes – that’s true. He walked past our demostrations and spoke with some of our people. The demos. took place over three days..many people were there for the whole three days – some for shorter periods. Around 600 attended altogether. Accept it and stop wrangling over trivia please….

    comment TP
    Dear Coratia,
    your opinion is your opinion. However, it is factual wrong to claim he would have repudiated his guru. This is misleading shugden follower’s propaganda, based on dogmatic beliefs, and it is in contradiction to the Dharma (the spirit of the Dharma) and Buddha’s or Tsongkahpa’s own teachings and example. Trijang Rinpoche is ONE of HHDL’s gurus. He has many Gurus and many so called “root Gurus”. see also: discussion at beliefnet: http://community.beliefnet.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12371&page=2

    How important it is to check and to verify what has been claimed, also by Buddhist teachers, was emphasized by the Buddha different times, especially in the Kalama Sutra.

    According to Aryadeva, Chandrakirti and Je Tsongkhapa, the Lam Rim, Vinaya and teachings on Guru devotion, a proper student of the Mahayana Dharma must be able to discriminate between wrong and correct explanations of the teachings and he should never accept wrong explanations of the Dharma. By repudiating Shugden teachings – which are bound to elite thinking and sectarianism contradicting the spirit of the Dharma – HHDL does not repudiate one of his Gurus but one of his teachings he disagrees with. This approach is not new but had happened many times in Buddhist history and was performed also by other lineage lamas. see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Kelsang_Gyatso#POV_.22One_of_the_strongest_tenants_of_Buddhism_is_to_never_forsake_your_teachers_teachings..22

    Religious fundamentalism – as sadly performed by some Shugden fanatics – is signed by non-knowledge and simplistic dogmatic attitudes. This harms the person involved in such narrow minded attitudes, it harms his Bodhicitta and spiritual development, and it harms Buddhism and newbies of Buddhism.

    HHDL has an attitude of fine, differentiated discrimination instead of fundamentalist’s beliefs. The difference can be recognized in these quotes:

    A main argument of Dagom Rinpoche and Gonsar Rinpoche is they do not really understand the Dalai Lama advising against the practice. Gonsar Rinpoche said, “I have spent many years in exile and have a great reverence for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, but now he is abusing our freedom by banning Shugden. It makes me very sad… We are not doing anything wrong; we are just keeping on with this practice, which we have received through great masters. I respect His Holiness very much, hoping he may change his opinion… I cannot accept this ban on Shugden. If I accept this, then I accept that all of my masters, wise great masters, are wrong. If I accept that they are demon worshippers, then the teachings are wrong, everything we believe in is wrong. That is not possible.”[8] Geshe Kelsang also argued in the same way when he said: “If the practice of Dorje Shugden is bad, then definitely we have to say that Trijang Rinpoche is bad, and that all Gelugpa lamas in the Dalai Lama’s own lineage would be bad.”[89] Contrary to this point of view the Dalai Lama stated: “I am of the opinion that Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche’s promotion of the worship of Dholgyal was a mistake. But their worship represents merely a fraction of what they did in their lives. Their contributions in the areas of Stages of the Path, Mind Training and Tantra teachings were considerable. Their contribution in these areas was unquestionable and in no way invalidated by involvement with Dholgyal… My approach to this issue (i.e. differing on one point, whilst retaining respect for the person in question) is completely in line with how such great beings from the past have acted.”[90]

    see: http://info-buddhism.com/dorje_shugden_controversy.html#Other_Tibetan_Lamas

    I think you are already caught in the fundamentalist beliefs as I described it here:

    So I leave you with your own beliefs and posit my disagreement. Best Wishes, TP

    Regarding the protests, I went to the teachings of HHDL and had to walk past the protesters, because they placed themselves so that it was unavoidable to walk past them. The single person I approached mixed under the people who tried to eat their meal after having heard the teachings of HHDL. I spoke with this protester because I know him from Schloss Sommerswalde and I have respect and feel much affection to him.

    What you view as compassionate and joyful affairs others feel as aggressive and abusive. Self-perception in NKT is different from other-perception of NKT…

    Annotation to the ‘green brain’ claim 23 Jan 2009
    ‘green brain’ does not indicate senility at all. for more see comment below: https://thedorjeshugdengroup.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/un-holy-truths/#comment-164

  11. Croatia,
    Where did you hear His Holiness making the “green brain comment.” Is this in a transcript, on tape? Is there a letter where he wrote this? Or did you hear it during a tea break at one of the WSS demos?

    His Holiness has been most respectful in the way he voices his disagreement with Trijang Rinpoche:
    Anyway, I am of the opinion that Phabongkha and Trijang Rinpoche’s promotion of the worship of Dholgyal was a mistake. But their worship represents merely a fraction of what they did in their lives. Their contributions in the areas of Stages of the Path, Mind Training and Tantra teachings were considerable. Their contribution in these areas was unquestionable and in no way invalidated by involvement with Dholgyal.

    Please don’t believe everything you hear at the WSS protests. Take the time to research the statements yourself. Finally, His Holiness has several important gurus, some who disagree with Shugden worship. Because of this, he wasn’t a fundamentalist, taking one teacher’s word as holy law, but instead researched a variety of views and texts before coming to his decision.

    Because Holy Tzongkhapa never mentions Shugden in his collected works, nor do his disciples Khedrup Je or Gyalsab Je, nor do the great Indian pandits, the only valid reason people have for continuing the worship is “Phabongkhapa said so”. This is far from valid. And, it seems Phabongkha Rinpoche himself wasn’t totally convinced about the worship either. Why else would he have written this when explaining the reason for his worship to the 13th Dalai Lama?

    “my mother told me that Shugden is the deity of my maternal lineage.”

    Where are the scriptural citations proving the validity? Is “because my teacher said so” really the way to introduce and promote a controversial practice?

    Finally, how can you say Shugden worship isn’t sectarian when its propitiation rituals contain stanzas like this?

    “Praise to you, violent god of the Yellow Hat teachings,
    Who reduces to particles of dust
    Great beings, high officials and ordinary people
    Who pollute and corrupt the Geluk doctrine.”

    I think you should research more carefully before slandering the man who you say you took initiations from.

  12. In order to refute your assertion that these protests are joyful affairs one need merely look at the contorted, angry and haggard looking expressions of the protestors, many of them wearing monastic robes. One need only look at the tiny number of Tibetans protesting, who although they might disagree with the His Holiness’ restrictions, appear embarassed by the overzealous language of the slogans and volume of the shouting.

  13. Yes Khedrub, I saw many images and some video passages where the protesters clearly looked very angry and aggressive. People reported that they also spread such an atmosphere. However, there are also images of relaxed WSS protesters and peaceful expressions.

    Maybe the respective sides refer to one or the other expression. I would say both is findable.

    People acting wrongly can act very peacefully but this doesn’t mean that their action is more right by being peaceful when performing a misdeed.

  14. Dear Tenzin,

    You are very right. Because I only see the images in the WSS videos, they looked angry. But since you were at the Nantes course, I trust what you saw. It is your even-handedness and fairness in these debates which make the personal attack on your character at the NKT Truth site so mistifying to me. You allow alternate opinions, temper exaggerations with your own experiences, and debate without foul language or character assassination. I feel you are a role model!

    If there is going to be a resolution, open debate and discussion is the only way to go about it. As an act of good faith, I think the NKT should soften its retoric, perhaps holding silent protests instead of the loud shouting. Instruct its supporting students who blog not to launch character criticisms about people’s pasts or motivation, but directly to the issues, and allow for the fact that some people WILL disagree.

    If everyone ran their blog as you do, I think we could get somewhere. A hopeful sign is that the NKTtruth blog has said they will open dialogue with reasonable, non-offensive opposing views.

    comment TP
    Your “truth” may not be accepted by the “NKT truth” site ;-)

    So let’s check again. Here an image where people clearly are looking very angry: http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0ggn0uScz8aar/610x.jpg

    here is an image where someone is looking angry and a woman on the left smiling:

    this is a bit mixed, more relaxed:

    (I found the images by google image function)
    oh here they look not so peaceful:

    bit mixed:

    mhm, indeed difficult to find an image with a peaceful expression:

    only this one maybe:

    this was taken 10 years ago, it was me who put it there. So it looks like I promote NKT’s understanding of peaceful protests by this…

    Really just taking Google.de images using as search word “Western Shudgen Society” brings not much peaceful results. Not even one until now. I check more…

    some are too small…
    ah now I found a link to BBC I didn’t know: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7415623.stm
    BBC: both groups of protester were “united by their common anger with the Tibetan leader.” so they seem to see it the same way. BBC is famous for its neutrality.

    maybe this one is peaceful:
    not really. i give up the more I look the more I find that I am wrong that there are peaceful expression: http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0dNHc7y0mK8pj/610x.jpg

    No sorry, I am wrong, I found not one!
    Maybe a WSS/NKT follower can show some images with peaceful expressions.

    However, looking peaceful is not a proof that public protests which wrongly accuse a Bhikshu of being a liar – just because he has a different understanding or view to the protesters – and actions which denounce a respected elder member of the Sangha to be a virtuous deed. It is non-virtue not virtue.

    PS: the newly found BBC link I added to my Blog.

  15. Re: “if it is an improper and irreligious command”, which is based on the Vinaya Sutra: “If someone suggests something which is not consistent with the Dharma, avoid it.”

    The same could be turned right around and directed at HHDL. I have contemplated and meditated on the issue many times, using my own personal experience of my practice and logical reasoning and I came to the decision to carry on with my practice as it is – ie including making prayers and requests to Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden to help me realise the meaning of Buddha’s teachings. In my experience, what HHDL is attempting to do is an ‘improper and irreligious command’ FOR ME as I have faith in Dorje Shugden. For others, it may not be improper as they do not have faith in Dorje Shugden so it is quite reasonable for them to follow HHDL’s decision.

    As you say Khedrub, “and allow for the fact that some people WILL disagree” – at the moment, whoever disagrees with HHDL is labelled a Chinese agent, a murderer, a fundamentalist and so on… hardly following your own advice is it?

    I have no problem with HHDL generally, he has touched many peole’s lives. I have a ‘problem’ with him over this issue alone because it has the potential to destroy my spiritual life by wiping out the teachings which I, and others like me, choose to follow.

    Both parties should be allowed to practise as they choose without fear of discrimination – particularly with respect to food, education and health.
    I am ok with praying and receiving teachings separately etc but there is no justification for dividing communities and families over this issue. Why should people not want to even eat with Shugden practitioners? Why would people not even want to serve one in a shop? That’s where the line between religion and politics becomes blurred and why it would be better for HHDL to stick to just one or the other. In the meantime, all we want is to be able to practise our path without being judged, slandered and discriminated against and for people to be able to make their own choices freely without fear.

    comment TP
    of course you should apply the teachings unbiased, so if you come to another pov, and you see this as valid, then you follow it.

    what are the qualities of DS you have faith in?
    i am not convinced in his qualities. the lamas I met who propagated him had almost destroyed my complete spiritual life by inducing sectarian thoughts, pride, hostility, bias etc in my mind (except Lama Gangchen!). these ‘qualities’ of pride, hostility, sectarianism, elite thinking etc. delude the mind and lead into the wrong direction. so i am happy to have given him up.

    as you said, some do this, some that, and both should have freedom.

    regarding the monasteries, they have the right to stop what they see as harmful. it is not ok if a shop owner due to private initiative don’t like to sell to Shugden followers. i don’t like that. but this is not coming from HHDL. there is injustice in some cases, i don’t like injustice at all. but there is also a strong fanatical attitude and violence by some shugden followers which upset people. so what will they do? they will separate from them to protect themselves. this is no persecution but protection.

    of course every person suffering on hate or pride is a bit alone and there are many who won’t like such a person. it is hard to love pride, self-righteous and angry people, isn’t it? although a compassionate attitude is what helps, common beings protect themselves by separating from such people. hate, pride, an inability to listen or to change the perspective + a narrow minded and self-righteous behaviour is what i met sadly among many shugden followers. (I could recognize this again in the WSS video about the Colgate protests, I felt really admiration for HHDL’s representative’s courage to go among them and to try to speak with them.) pride to be special (based on the conception of “purity”) and hate against the dalai lama (who “mixes traditions” and destroys the Gelug tradition’s “purity”). HHDL was portrayed to me by Shugden followers as “the enemy of the Buddhadharma” “who destroys the ‘pure’ tradition of Je Tsongkhapa” etc. What a distorted and fundamentalist view… such attitudes – hate, pride – praising oneself and disparaging others – is what separates and make people “untochables”. such attitudes make one alone. people will not like one.

    it is a natural tendency to go to distance to persons which are difficult to deal with or radical. the person being rejected may feel as an outcast but there are causes and conditions which he himself created. it is too simple to point out HHDL as the source of their suffering. have you ever listen to those who suffered under fundamentalist Shugden followers and their violence? what is with an impartial attitude? to point out now and in the past HHDL as the source of their suffering is very wrong, both from a Buddhist and from a realistic perspective. there are causes and conditions which created such a situation to them. all this is a complex issue, not a simple one. if one wants to understand it one needs to give up bias and also listen to the other side. i know what i say here: i know both sides. i know why i run this blog and other websites and try to discuss here and why I admire HHDL and feel inspired about his patience, compassion and wisdom.

    I never would live in a monastery were there is Shugden worship. so that since some months it is now (!) really banned in the monasteries (not all over the places), is a circumstance I and the majority of monks and nuns appreciate. it is our religious freedom to set up rules of what is allowed in the monasteries and what not. every community has this right. it is based on the majority and the vinaya to do that.

    it is the religious freedom of those who like Shugden worship to do it at their own places or to set up their own places.

    religious freedom has to be seen from the perspective of all, not some. this is also a matter of fairness.

  16. Somebody above was asking for a reference for the Dalai Lama saying his teacher, Trijang Rinpoche was senile. Here it is:

    May 4th 1996 extract from “Chronicle of Abuse” by James Belither NKT Secretary.

    Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche, the 13-year old reincarnation of the Dalai Lama’s own Spiritual Guide, is called to the Private Office in Dharamsala. Various people (names withheld for safety) are present when the Dalai Lama explains that he will hold a divination by lottery in front of the venerated statue called “Kyirong Jowo” in the Dalai Lama’s private chapel. The slips wrapped in balls of dough will include: 1. You should stop worshipping Dorje Shugden; 2. You can worship, but only in total secret.

    During the meeting it is reported that the Dalai Lama says that the “old man” (referring to the previous Trijang Rinpoche) had a “green brain” (a Tibetan term for senility) and there is no reason for the young incarnation to follow the activities of the previous incarnation.

    After the meeting the young Rinpoche and his attendants leave for south India and he never returns to Dharamsala – the divination was never carried out.

    Some of the people reporting this are ordained and all are highly respected – naturally being present at such a meeting one would have to be.

    Therefore, I would submit that it can be recorded as a fact – the Dalai Lama insulting his own root guru.

    comment TP
    Thank you Gyalchen for your comment, now we know from where Croatia got her information. I forwarded your comment to Khedrub, maybe he will reply. Usually I do not wish for discussion based on questionable and scurrilous sources such as NKT offers, sources, which are mainly a mix of some truths, untruths, and semi-truths spun to exaggerated and misleading claims.

    Also the NKT leadership and NKT Secretary aren’t famous to be honest or to be reliable sources, are they? It looks like Croatia views these information as reliable…

    Annotation to the ‘green brain’ claim 23 Jan 2009
    With respect to the meaning of “green brain” see comment below: https://thedorjeshugdengroup.wordpress.com/2008/09/01/un-holy-truths/#comment-164
    Best Wishes, TP

  17. James Belither, former NKT secretary is hardly a neutral source. How can we release such a thing as fact? Is there a recording,transcript etc. from a neutral source?

    Also, HHDL has more than one root guru. He has many teachers. I don’t know why this hasn’t been accepted.

  18. for the root guru issue – sadly this is taught narrow minded, misleading, and this topic is even abused and misinterpreted in NKT – see also this discussion:


    or A. Berzin’s text:

  19. Hello Tenzin and Khedrup

    “Neutral sources” do not exist…..check out the conventional nature of the mind….

    The evidence you have deleted is evidence to me and many other people (Definition: “that which is clear to mind” Chambers Dictionary). Deleting it does not make it untrue.

    I have known James Belither for around 30yrs as both a Dharma Teacher and friend. He is very honest and fair-minded. But you have deleted his evidence thinking you know better.

    You are not interested in the testimony of individuals and their personal experiences. Therefore I am removing myself from contributions to your blog from today.

    However, I wonder if you would post the following?

    You are still not acknowledging the Human Rights abuses of the 14th Dalai Lama but preferring to spread the lies he builds his reputation on. Here I will refute just one of these:

    During the time of the 13th Dalai Lama, Je Pabongkhapa and other Lamas could not possibly be involved in politics. How could a simple monk such as Phabongkhapa do this? All power (as now) was with the Tibetan govt. and people had no free speech at all. What you are saying about the pure Gelug lineage is unsubstantiated – just invented by the 14th Dalai Lama.

    In 1912 after the Chinese occupiers had been driven out of Tibet the 13th Dalai Lama speeded up army recruitment and imported equipment from abroad.

    This military stance was opposed by pure Gelugpa monks, notably the Panchen Lama, who had to leave Tibet in 1923. The monks opposed the 13th Dalai Lama in his military methods but in reality had no power – just as now…whatever is the wish of the DL must be followed and those not following are demonized and removed – just as now. (BTW this mixing of political power and religion goes back the 5th Dalai Lama. The formation of the Ganden Podrang.)

    I have heard recently from present day Geshes in Tibet itself that when Phabongkhapa visited Kham (70yrs ago now) and gave teachings there lots of people turned up and he was widely respected.

    He was famous for his pure presentation of Stages of the Path to Enlightenment. But at the same time some locals, jealous of his success spread rumours that he was destroying statues of Padmasambhava etc. These rumours are untrue and there is no evidence for them. The followers of Je Tsongkhapa have huge respect for Padmasambhava.

    Stop spreading the Dalai Lama’s lies, please…

  20. DJK, you said…

    “I have no problem with HHDL generally, he has touched many peole’s lives. I have a ‘problem’ with him over this issue alone because it has the potential to destroy my spiritual life by wiping out the teachings which I, and others like me, choose to follow”.

    Could you explain exactly which teachings HHDL would potentially ‘wipe out’.

    As a former Shugden practitioner i am only aware that Shugden functions as a dharma practitioner and the practice is one of propitiation. Are you suggesting that the survival of Buddha’s/Tsongkhapa’s teachings are entirely dependent upon the practice of Shugden?

    I may be a fool but logically if Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri – why not rely on Manjushri – why the need to rely on the name Shugden if they are the same mental continuum.

    Then this whole sorry mess would disappear into……

  21. I am sorry but history does not concur with your conclusion. The depiction of Phabongkhapa (as wonderful as some of his teachings are) as completely non-political is inaccurate. He was governor of Chamdo and held political power, even Shugden Lamas in India do not dispute this. He wrote to a Chinese general, Lu Chu Tang, describing non-Gelug teachings as degenerate and asking for Chinese help to keep them under control. Where does this information come from? Letters Phabongkha wrote contained in Volume Cha of Trijiang Rinpochey’s collected works.

    As well, Phabhongkhapa assertions that Dragpa Gyaltsen (who myth says arose as the Shugden entity) is a reincarnation of Buton, as PB claims, can be proven incorrect. How? Buton Rinchen Drup lived from 1290 to 1364.
    Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen lived from 1350 to 1413. This obvious oversight in his writings indicates he is nor faultless (but Shugden supporters cling tenaciously to his words as pure holy writ. They can’t even be debated, not in the tradition of Tsongkhapa, who questioned everything….)

    Like the Dalai Lama, we can question some of Phabongkha’s actions while still appreciating his other teachings. If Trijiang Rinpochey has these sectarian Phabongkhapa letters in his collected works, there is no need to doubt their authenticity.

    Finally, it is amusing that this “mixing of political power and religion goes back to the 5th dalai lama”. This is untrue. Perhaps in terms of a centralized Tibetan state, but Lamas and monasteries has great political clout in their regions for Centuries. For example, the Sakyas ruled for a period, and the Kagyus ruled a large part of eastern Tibet for years. Politics and religion mixing was hardly a creation of the 5th Dalai Lama.

    After the 13th died, his reforms were quickly put on the backburner and Tibet once again fell into isolationism, under yet another conservative Gelug regency. In this case the regent wasn’t able to maintain his monastic vows purely, so it was even more of a disaster. These are common facts that can be read in history books by both Tibetans and Westerners.

    The only lies being told here are the one’s trying to cover up Phabongkhapa’s sectarianism and political involvement, as the documents attesting to it are in a volume compiled by Trijiang Rinpoche himself.

    We can appreciate and read his wonderful Lam Rim treatise, but please stop trying to re-write history in order to elevate his reputation.

  22. Sorry, I made an error. The letters are found in volume Cha of Phabongkhapa’s works, compiled I believe by Trijiang Rinpochey. I don’t have the text with me but may do some searching to find where people could request it from.

    Since the words are Phabongkhapa’s himself, there is no doubt about his political involvements and some of his sectarian actions are not hearsay.

  23. Annotation to the ‘green brain’ claim

    I received today an Email from a Western monk related to the ‘green brain’ claim. He wrote:

    I remember some righteous indignation from the NKT people saying that HHDL has stated Trijiang RInpoche had a green brain, essentially calling him senile. My Tibetan teacher explained over lunch the other day what leypa jangku (green brain) actually means. It means someone who is conservative and traditional in their views, and does not indicate senility at all. In fact, some lamas regarded it as a compliment because it means that they are steady in their views and not easily swayed.

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