A Biased Historical Narrative Does Not History Make


The Western Shugden Society (WSS) has recently carried a poorly researched essay titled “The Lama Policy: Freedom from the Drug” without cited sources, only a vague claim that the “paper” is based on a “collection of Tibetan books”. The essay seeks to undermine the institution of the Dalai Lamas and the Ganden Phodrang, rather than address specific concerns about the Shugden issue. The WSS has crossed yet another line in its deluded propaganda war – it has made evident that no longer is it campaigning just about the Shugden issue, its aim has expanded to include discrediting the TGIE, HH Dalai Lama, and anyone who dares support him.

The essay mentions the 5th Dalai Lama as the inventor of the system in Tibet that united spiritual and secular rule, but this is patently incorrect. In fact, the first religious rulers to also hold political power in Tibet were Sakyas. It was also Sakya Lamas who first established a priest-patron relationship with the Mongols as outlined here by the Sapan Foundation (A Sakya Charity in India):

“During Sakya Pandita’s and Chogyal Phagpa’s time, the Sakya Tradition reached its zenith in terms of religious and temporal importance. In 1252, Chogyal Phagpa was invited to the court of Emperor Kublai Khan who was converted to Buddhism. They developed a patron-priest relationship. The Emperor received teachings from Chogyal Phagpa for many years and he was given the title of several generations.”

The Sakyas continued to hold political power throughout both the 13th and 14th centuries, according to the website of HH Sakya Trizin, current holder of the lineage.

The essay then goes on to categorically claim that the Great 5th Dalai Lama was behind the murder of Dragpa Gyaltsen (with legend claims arose later as the wrathful spirit Shugden). However, this “fact” is also hotly disputed, and there are several conflicting historical accounts. In his essay “The Shuk-Den Affair” Prof. Georges Dreyfus. In these accounts explanations of Dragpa Gyaltsen’s death range from suicide, to illness, to stress, to a suicide specifically tied to a vow to arise as a Gelug protector with a mission to protect Tsongkhapa’s doctrine from being corrupted by Nyingma influences. A recent Tibetan work (Dol rgyal zhib ‘jug tshogs chung) argues that Dragpa Gyaltsen’s main opponents were actually related to a family dispute, between his family, the Ge-Kha-Sas and Sonam Choephel. Clearly, the WSS account is one sided, biased and lacks a measured weighing of the evidence.

In addition, the essay “Lama Policy: Freedom from the Drug” seeks to portray the 5th Dalai Lama as being vengeful against his opponent the King of Tsang, and murderously seeking the help of the Mongols. The article “Schisms, Murders and Hungry Ghosts in Shangri-la” argues that in fact the Great 5th showed tremendous restraint and sought a conciliatory approach, through ecclesiastical integration of the Nyingma teachings:

“At the time the Great Fifth gained power there were both secular and sectarian rivalries. In addition to various schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the old Bon religion was reviving its bid for supremacy in Tibet. Rather than use his power to crush the Nyingma sect, which he easily could have done through his alliance with the Mongols, the Great Fifth deliberately incorporated Nyingmapa teachings and practices into his ecclesiastical court (Norbu, 248-49). Some Gelugpa purists objected.”

So, ironically, it was the Gelugpa purists, who the WSS seeks to portray as non-political, who objected the the non-sectarian policies of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, aimed at creating a more harmonious and unified Tibetan society.

The essay then goes on to repeat the same tired claim that HH the 14th Dalai Lama’s policies are aimed at destroying the integrity of the various orders of Tibetan Buddhism and making himself the head of a hodgepodge unified Tibetan church. In fact, a clear examination of the current Dalai Lama’s actions reveals a policy aimed at giving the Kagyus, Nyingmas and Sakyas a voice in the Phodrang government, that for years had been dominated almost entirely by Gelugpas. The essay neglects to mention the creation of a seat for the leader of each of the major lineages in the ministry in charge of religious affairs, and a policy aimed at recruiting government ministers in the TGIE from a variety of sects to reflect the religious diversity of Tibetan people.

WSS’s paper also neglects to mention that it is through the current Dalai Lama’s reforms that the TGIE has elected representatives, an elected Prime Minister and an essentially democratic system that even uses modern devices like the internet to register Tibetans overseas who want to vote in TGIE elections. While no one would argue the exile government doesn’t have its problems, the pace of change towards democratization is remarkable, especially considering the current plight of Tibetan refugees.


Williams states about the 5th Dalai Lama:

By most accounts the Dalai Lama was by the standards of his age a reasonably tolerant and benevolent ruler.[1]

[1] Clarke, Peter B. (ed.), Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements, London & New York: Routledge, 2006, page 136


  1. True Kadampas learn from their ‘enemies’ by thinking and reflecting on their own shortcomings. The NKT is therefore actually the antithesis of Atisha’s teaching. The Kadampa lineage of lojong and so forth was transmitted to Gampopa as well as others, the NKT seem to think that they have the exclusive lineage when they only are exclusive in the perversion of kadampa teachings. Semi-Geshe-la has broken his samaya with the Dalai Lama (from whom he took Kalachakra in Tibet itself as well as other damtsig vows) , and is institutionalizing his root downfalls around the world to the dress- up ‘sangha’ posers of Gen semi-novices. There’s really nothing more arrogant than some novice neophyte Brit nun beyatch telling us who is a liar except maybe the hordes of ultra-nationalist Chinese blogger orcs who worship Michael Parenti as a brilliant Tibet scholar. I feel strongly this PR push is the death gasp of a collapsing pyramid scheme. The old boy is going to kick it soon enough…godspeed.

  2. Hi Tenzin

    Western Shugden Society once again selective and economical with the ‘truth’ as they launch their version of a history lesson on the ‘uninformed.’

    They try to destroy the Dalai Lama’s reputation by fair means or foul.

    I notice Sakya Pandita was conspicuous by his absence,
    (a Guru respected by all Masters),from their history lesson.
    It does not suit them to mention that he was both temporal and spiritual ruler and therefore a precedent.

    Thank you for broadening and informing this deabte.

  3. Thank you Vigilante and others for contributing to it.

    The complete performance and attitudes of WSS and NKT is a disgrace to Buddhism and sad and maybe confusing for people who have initially faith in Buddhism but do not know much about Buddhism and Tibetan history…

  4. The comment you allowed through from David Canada above is offensive, ill informed and hateful e.g. “The old boy is going to kick it soon enough…godspeed.”

    But it is good you let it through because it shows clearly what misinformation, propaganda and general hate the WSS is up against. No amount of scholarly essays will change the fact of the ostracism and discrimination of Dorje Shugden practitioners on the ground, and cover up the basic theocracy that is the TGIE.

    Even the hailed “elected” Prime Minister is a Tibetan monk, who is obviously a devoted follower of the Dalai Lama. Surely that signals something is afoot — a monk being a PM? How does this take the TGIE any futher away from being a theocratic mixture of church and state? Everyone in the Tibetan community knows that the Dalai Lama’s word is still the law.

    And, I would like to ask you, what is wrong with being a Gelugpa purist? What is wrong with practicing your own tradition?

    (I doubt you’ll allow this comment through).

  5. Hi Gail,
    I approved the comment because I felt it could help some WSS follower to see how less support their actions have. However, everybody has his own perspective and they can not be controlled.

    I think, WSS spreads religious hate although they believe their actions are actions of love and compassion. All this has a lot to do with personal views, perception and different perspectives. It is up to the reader to judge and to put the puzzle together.

    The prime minister was elected. The Tibetans prefer until know a Buddhist government. For a people whose faith is deeply rooted in Buddhism this is nothing wrong it would be far more contradictory to be devoted to Buddhism and to have a secular government which views also war as an option.

    This issue is a bit brought up and discussed here:

    In general only the wise people follow the Dalai Lama’s words. The Tibetans revere him deeply but in general they do not what he says. My teacher said, this is the Tibetan’s dilemma: they have so many wise masters but never do what they say and as a result they have more difficulties than previously.

    My suggestion to you is to look more differentiated on HHDL, the TGIE, Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan history and Tibetans. A one-sided perspective can never help to understand and to overcome hate or hostility.

    You can practice only Gelugpa, there is nothing wrong with this. There are many who only practice Kagyue or Nyingma. Nobody criticizes this. This is perfectly fine.

    Best wishes, TP

  6. Dear Gail,

    The above comments are tame in comparison to the hateful e-mail sent to the administrator of the NKT world site, which he bravely posted on his webpage, in order to indicate that he and many other WSS critics are under threat:

    [… quote deleted by site owner. The quote can be found here: http://www.nktworld.org ]

    Please don’t try to make it appear that the WSS supporters are always the victims. Many supporters of HHDL and mainstream Tibetan Buddhism receive nasty and threatening emails regularly. I am not saying that this person is an NKT member, but clearly they are someone who supports WSS’s aims. Several other Shugden critics have reported to me they have received similar messages. When I asked the administrator of NKT world he confirmed this was not the only caustic message he has received. As I said above, both sides have amongst their ranks people who won’t be winning any awards for right speech.

    The issue of being a Gelugpa purist is not that there is something wrong with it, but that those who wished to practice additional methods were scared to do so due to the deep sectarianism of SOME Gelugpa teachers. The Yellow Book, after all, was a document designed to show that Gelugs who engaged in Nyingma practices would fall ill or even die.

    Some Gelugpas want to practice only Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings. Others want to supplement with practices from other traditions… Should they not be free to do so, without having other Gelug masters make sectarian statements to discourage them?

    Statements such as this by Trijang Rinpochey are sobering reminders of the very divisive nature of Gelug fundamentalism:

    “This protector of the doctrine (Gyalchen Shugden) is extremely important for holding Tshongkhapa’s tradition without mixing and corrupting it with confusions due to the great violence and speed of his actions, which fall like lightening to punish violently all those beings who have wronged the Yellow Hat tradition, whether they are high or low. This protector is also particularly significant with respect to the fact that many from our own side, monks or lay people, high or low, are not content with Tsongkhapa’s tradition, which is like pure gold, and have mixed and corrupted this tradition with the mistaken views and practices from other schools which are tenet systems that are reputed to be incredibly profound and amazingly fast but are in reality mistakes among mistakes, falulty, dangerous and misleading paths. In regard to this situation, this protector of the doctrine, this witness, manifests his own form of a variety of unbearable manifestations of terrifying and frightening wrathful and fierce appearances. Due to that, a variety of events, some of them having happened or happening, some of which have been heard or seen, seem to have taken place: some people become unhinged and mad, some have a heart attack and suddenly die, some see through a variety of inauspicious signs their wealth, accumulated possessions and descendants disappear without leaving a trace, like a pond whose feeding river has ceased, whereas some find it difficult to achieve anything in successive lifetimes.”

    How could HHDL, leader of all Tibetans and non-sectarian practitioner determined to open the Ganden Phodrang to lamas of all schools, not challenge the attitudes such as the one above?

    As I’ve said, I respect many of Trijang Rinpochey’s teachings, but choose not to believe this. If we practice Guru devotion with a questioning mind, as outlined by Berzin, we can seperate the sectarian teachings from the nectarian ones.

  7. Jimmy Marsden says:

    I thought this might shed some light… taken from Stephen Batchelor’s Letting Daylight into Magic article…

    “On the twenty-eighth day of the seventh lunar month of 1642, the Fifth Dalai Lama dreamed that two lamas of another sect – the Nyingma – gave him an initiation in a chapel of his palace at Drepung monastery. One of the lamas handed him a ritual dagger and at that very moment the Dalai Lama had the feeling of being spied on through a window by monks of his own Gelugpa order. He reflected that if the Gelugpa monks criticized him for receiving teachings from the Nyingma lamas, he would stab them with the dagger. He rushed out to confront them, but they already seemed subdued. At that point he woke up.

    Earlier that same year, the twenty-six-year-old Dalai Lama had been conferred with supreme authority over all Tibet by the Mongol Gushri Khan, thus inaugurating the dynasty of the Dalai Lamas. This step was achieved when the armies of the Mongol Khan defeated the king of Tsang, the backer of the Dalai Lama’s chief rival for power in Tibet, the Karmapa (a senior lama of the Kagyu order). While their military victory ended years of civil conflict in Tibet and unified the country under the Gelugpa order, it also exposed tensions among the Gelugpas themselves – already hinted at in the Dalai Lama’s dream of three months later.”

  8. Hi Khedrub, David and Gail. In general I prefer to keep harsh words – even quoting it – out of discussion. However, I have to admit that I posted a small account on Thomas Canada’s hateful statements also:


    So I am not ‘innocent’ either.

    Maybe we can come to agreement to keep the track by focusing on facts or a positive way of dealing with this issue. I do not mean that we should stop our discussion but try to follow a good way.

    You can view what I say here mainly as a reminder for myself and you can also ignore or question it. However, I will censor the quote in Khedrub’s post, they are too hostile and strange.

    Thanks for your contributions.

    Best Wishes, Tenzin

  9. Thanks Tenzin, agreed. I just wanted to make clear my point in the post, “As I said above, both sides have amongst their ranks people who won’t be winning any awards for right speech.”
    I agree that we should aim for a completely polite discussion here, even if we are quoting others. I will not post quotations of such comments again.

  10. You want to talk about harsh speech? I am appalled by the ethnocentric and indeed downright racist attacks on Tibetans but oddly enough they all seem to defer to NKT based propaganda sites. A number of Chinese ultra nationalists have been exclaiming ‘Long Live Dorje Shugden’ on Canadian media outlet blogs.I asked them a question based on this short quote:
    “From his shoulders hangs a garland of fifty, freshly severed, blood dripping heads. A human skin serves as his carpet…Inside the palace, corpses of men and carcasses of horses are spread out, and the blood of men and horses streams together forming a lake. Human skins and hides if tigers are stretched into curtains. The smoke of the ‘great burnt offering’,(i.e. human flesh) spreads into the ten quarters of the world.. ..on all sides are hung up as tapestries fresh skins of elephants…” (and so forth in great detail) excerpted from ‘Oracles and Demons of Tibet: The Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities’ by Rene de Nebesky-Wojkowitz.)
    The question is: What is it about the above description of the “god” Shugden and his imaginary environment we are supposed to defend?
    Here in Toronto the NKT have just put easily 4 million dollars or more into a downtown property. Who is actually downpressing them as they say in Jamaica? They are giving a Shugden “initiation this Sunday. Sixty bucks if any one is interested.

  11. It is very clear from information sent from Tibet, that at gangchen monastery and others, monks who do not want to propitiate Shugden are kicked out of their monasteries. The PRC government has also been funding Shugden statues to be placed in the monasteries, and in the HRW report it mentioned Tenzin Delek was imprisoned partly due to his opposition of Shugden. Rather than distancing themselves from these actions, several Shugden websites have lauded that this Chinese campaign “spreads Shugden far and wide”. This is very shortsighted, and shows that Shugden trumps all for some of his followers, which I find very disturbing.

    The WSS campaign has gone way beyond the Shugden issue and now seeks to discredit the TGIE and Dalai Lama and their supporters (Dr. Robert Thurman, HH Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje etc.) by any means necessary. It seems that the goal now is not freedom of Shugden worship, but the destruction of the reputation of the TGIE, Dalai Lama, NKT critics and anyone else who may disagree.

    Part of this campaign involved posting as a response to ASA criticism of NKT ordination, a video that used PRC state television footage of a tiny number of Tibetans behaving badly to portray the Tibetans as wild, out-of-control savages. I agree that this agenda has a racist tint to it.

    it was never mentioned that in 50 years of occupation the Tibetans have been almost entirely peaceful, with only a tiny number of incidents. And that HHDL stated if the violence continued he would step down.

    Ironically, it is HHDL who is keeping the Tibetan situation peaceful and preventing a full scale escalation with his middle way approach. But rather than lauding his use of Buddhist principles in the conflict, WSS smears him for “selling out independence” while at the same time smearing him for “not standing up to violence” re: his bros involvement with the CIA.

    Such deep contradictions don’t seem to matter as long as they serve the purpose of destroying his reputation. I feel WSS members have lost their focus.

  12. Thanks, Khedrup. One thing I have stressed in my debates with Chinese ultra-nationalists is that the exile ‘government’ is a very modest affair. They have not one policeman or one soldier. Compare this to about four million standing in the PLA including reservists not to mention missiles, tanks, naval and air forces. To imagine Dharamsala mini-administration is some huge multi-faceted bureaucracy like the government China or America It is more than silly its seriously deranged. Why are they so threatened. I asked what are the Tibetans going to do to you: hit you with their rosaries?
    The NKT seem to think this is some massive government conspiracy, my relatives in India say nothing of the sort happened. I have had very good friends who did the minor practice of Shugden. Most of them are gone now, but I expect they would never ‘throw out the baby with the bath water’ and abandon the core beliefs of compassion for what is basically an inconsequential dratsang mascot cult run amok. Trijang Rinpoche is also gone, NKT do not speak for him.

  13. really sad..i have spent quite some time in Toronto..got friends and relatives there .. Crawford street??.. my gosh..

  14. “David Campbell from United Kingdom writes: Well hello everybody….The Dalai Lama found nothing wrong with this practice..he had a few bad dreams and threw a few dough balls in the air! Then he insulted his kind root guru by saying he was wrong. How arrogant and offensive! Such a bad example of a student.
    By doing this he lost any qualification as a teacher of Buddhism. Oh and Akhutonpa your comments are totally wrong. Dorje Shugden has no interest in politics because he is a Buddha. It is the DL who is the politician – remember?” Posted 02/08/08 to the Globe and Mail
    My reply: “Worldly demons are not enlightened just in samsara like yourselves. China attempted to destroy the infrastructure of Buddhism, but it did not succeed. Priories and centres burn down and turn into dust or are converted into brothels in the course of time. Only kindness is important, we are all impermanent, even gyalpo ghosts from Tibet and phony geshes.”

  15. Regarding History Of Shugden and the endless trials to spin the facts, Namdrol has addressed some points in LazyBuddhist’s Blog Dirty Laundry:

    He allowed to copy and paste a comment he gave their correcting six points which came up in the discussion. Here they are:

    “1. One interesting irony of him quoting Sakya Pandita is he is a previous incarnation of none other than our good friend Dorje Shugden.

    This is a complete fantasy, and a total fabrication. Sakya Pandita had only one incarnation i.e. as the Buddha Vimalashri in the Golden World system. There are no subsequent incarnations of Sakya Pandita.

    “2. In the past, the Dalai Lama wrote praises and forwards for Geshe Kelsang’s books, and listed them in his suggested reading lists. The words in Geshe Kelsang’s books have not changed, only the politics surrounding those words has changed. If it was pure Buddhism then, it is pure Buddhism now. The NKT practiced Dorje Shugden then, it practices it now. How can something that was once good suddenly transform into bad?”

    The practice of Dolgyal as conceived by Pabhongkha was never good, and was always a deviant practice in his hands. Forwards writtten by His Holiness for books composed in the early eighties are not relevant now.

    “3. If the whole of the Dharma taught by the NKT should be thrown out due to their involvement with Dorje Shugden, then the same should be true with Trijang Rinpoche and Je Phabongkhapa. If they are thrown out, then Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa (in other words the entire FPMT), Gonsar Rinpoche and none other than the Dalai Lama should also be thrown out. Indeed, all Gelugpas derive, directly or indirectly, from Trijang Rinpoche and Je Phabongkhapa. Thus if you follow your logic to its natural conclusion, the entire Gelugpa lineage should be thrown out.”

    It is an exaggeration to state that the whole Gelug transmission depends on Pabhongkha. If this were true, it would be a pity. In fact, there are whole lines of transmission in Gelug, still vital and strong, that have nothing to do with Pabhongkha.

    The Dalai Lama certainly has lines of transmission from Pabhongkha, nevertheless, a highly realized master like His Holiness is capable of purifying errors in a lineage so the transmissions from him, regardless of whether they came through Pabhongkha or not, have been restored to the their purity.

    Lama Zopa, Geleg Rinpoche and so on are disciples of His Holiness, therefore the fault you describe are not valid. Since Gonsar Rinpoche and others choose to turn their backs on His Holiness, this is a pity for them.

    In short, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the life force of the Gelugpa Lineage, indeed all of Tibetan Buddhism, and is the teacher of all Tibetan Buddhists. Whoever turns their back on him is someone who flees from the sun, seeking the comforting darkness of their own misconceptions.

    “4. If you claim to supposedly represent the position of non-sectarianism, then why do you seek to criticise other traditions?…”

    When someone’s neighbor is pouring garbage into a pure stream, does one not have the right to complain and do something about it? The practice of the gyalpo, Shugden, is an impure and corrupt practice that has soiled the pure stream of the Gelug tradition.

    “5. Final question for you: you have bodhisattva vows, which include not criticising another Mahayana tradition. Why do you choose to spend your time publicly breaking your bodhisattva vows? Since your intention in posting your comment was for the whole world to see your views, have you not created the karma of criticising another tradition millions and millions of times?”

    If someone chooses to remain silent about faulty views and practices that seek to infect Buddhadharma, knowing that they are wrong and based on fallacies, this is a violation of bodhisattva vows and would constitute a grave fault. Speaking up against fallacious practices like that of Gyalpo Shugden is proper bodhisattva activity. As Choje Sapan points out in Three Vows:

    “To delight in false teachings…is impure diligence.”

    There is no teaching more false then teaching that Gyalpo Shugden is a Buddha.

    As Choje said in his “Letter to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas”:

    “I, too, have not taught with the intent of disparaging others, And yet, by teaching in accord without scriptural divisions, this has burned the religious traditions of others. When one lays down a straight plumb line, it annoys those having crooked shapes. In the same way, by establishing your teachings correctly, those followers of counterfeit doctrines are not pleased. I am without desire and aversion, but if, wishing to preserve the Doctrine, I speak truthfully, then the person I address becomes furious. If I speak falsely, it is a great evil.”

    And in Three Vows:

    “If to distinguish between true and false teachings is to be “hostility” and “jealousy”, then just how else are beings to be rescued from the ocean of samsara?”

    Such people who view Gyalpo Shugden as a Buddha break the root of their refuge vows, not to mention their bodhisattva vows and Vajrayana vows. How can they be rescued if they are not shown the error of their teachings? Whatever you may think, I have nothing but altruistic concern for those who blindly follow false guides off of the cliffs of wrong views, and these days, chief among those wrong views is the wrong view that Gyalpo Shugden is a somehow a Buddha manifesting as a worldly spirit, or a Buddha in any sense at all.

    Though these days I do not often speak on this matter, since their is little more than can or needs to be said by either side, in this instance it is important to respond to the increasing activities of the so called “New Kadampa Tradition” and their surrogate organizations, as well as their allies among those Tibetans who have turned their face away from the sun of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama’s wisdom. Such actions by the NKT, their surrogate and their students are harmful to all people who live on this planet.

    Because of blind faith, the students of NKT and those Tibetans who have abandoned His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, as their refuge and a protector have no idea what they are doing, and what they are playing with.

    Of course, people are free, and if they wish to adopt the mistaken practices propagated those who follow Gyalpo Shugden, they may. And we who oppose this practice, are equally free to speak out against it.

    There are more jewels of knowledge by Namdrol, e.g.:
    Tibetan Medicine, Gyalpo and influences of spirits
    Kadampa, claiming the Fifth broke his monastic vow
    Guru Yoga and Gurus

    Thank you Namdrol for your input!

  16. I first realised the extremely limited validity and value of online freestyle “debates’ with false name respondents during the first internet tsunami of negativity launched by the NKT in the ’90’s, of which I read a broad sample but did not participate, largely because I have no knowledge of or even much interest in UK’s WASP ‘dharma’ scene. Now that the pods have spread to my town (to the mild bemusement and perhaps in some cases, irritation of the over 4,000 ethnic Tibetans who live here) and since the Chinese ultra-nationalist hawks have taken a shine to NKT demon’s victimhood, well, that was just too much melamine in the milk to remain silent.
    Here is another sample exchange from bogus “Tibetan” posers this past summer, again from the Globe and Mail:

    Pema Sonam from Canada writes:” …You made very hostile comments about the Koreans posing as Chinese in other forums. But this time, I see it as a total failure. Chinese are too sophisticated to post these kind of shallow comments.”Posted 02/08/08 at 2:08
    (he’s sort of hinting that he himself is posing)

    Pema Sonam from Canada writes: “Long live Dorje Shugden.” Posted 02/08/08 at 2:39 AM
    (either a local insomniac or in China’s time zone)

    My reply: “Pema Sonam is a false name, not a very convincing or informed deception, just the usual hostile vitriol and rhetoric. Posted 02/08/08 at 7:46 AM EDT

    Gaisang Yexe from Lhasa, China writes: To my fellow Chinese brothers and sisters living in Canada. Nice meeting you. My name means ‘happiness’ and ‘wisdom’.Posted 03/08/08 at 8:49 PM EDT |
    Gaisang Yexe from Lhasa, China writes: Go Olympics Go! Go China Go! Go Lhasa, China Go! Posted 03/08/08 at 8:37 PM EDT
    (note the Sinocized spelling, what can you reply to such brilliant slogans?)

  17. Dear David and Khedrup,

    I would just like to pick up on one of your (David) points which is that of the TGIE having no police force or army. I’m sure that this is perfectly true, but do you really mean to imply that no abuses can take place except by nation states that have such powers?

    What about the many myriad forms of abuse that can take place within families, for example? The Tibetan exile community is in some ways more like a large family than a nation state, and the abuses that take place within it, in some senses, perhaps more like those that can take place within a family. One of the main abuses that is taking place is the psychological one of teaching the Tibetan people to regard respectable and humble people who merely want to follow their own tradition purely, and rely upon their own Dharma Protector, as Devil Worshippers. How do you think this makes them feel? The plight of those who still wish to revere DL, while also wishing to maintain their faith in their Protector, is terrible and almost beyond description. Have you read the research work of Ursula Bernis downloadable from the Shugden Society web-site (the Indian one)?

    In this context I loved the remark of one commentator, I think it may have been Bernis in fact, what while you were banned from attending DLs initiations as a Shugden follower if you were an actual Devil Worshipper – hey no problem!!!

    It’s difficult for me to think about this misery and confusion without feeling a bit upset with DL for all the suffering that he has caused these people. However, I do not hate him and I do not reject everything he has said on this basis.

    I remember reading his short contribution to Simon Wiesenthal’s book the Sunflower (an extremely weird compliation of people’s thoughts about whether they would or wouldn’t forgive a dying Nazi soldier who has shot a child and was praying for forgiveness on their death-bed); he said that he met a monk who had been tortured by the Chinese for many years and asked him if at any point he became fearful. The monk replied that the only thing that he feared during his years of torture was that he might lose his compassion for the Chinese. DL said that he was surprised by this response!!!

    Some of the sufferings that Tibetans have endured are terrible and don’t bear thinking about, except in the sense that we need to for our training in compassion. Certainly, anyone having to suffer the incredible suffering of torture is worthy of the utmost compassion. However, we also have to question the notion that experiencing a particular terrible suffering, or being a representative of any such person or persons, gives anyone a superior moral standing to those who have no direct experience of such suffering, or special rights or privilleges relative to others.

    This is the underlying idea or belief, implicit, but often not fully articulated, behind many aggressively nationalist and sectarian groups that take pride not only in pursuing their own aims regardless of others, but also in dismissing criticism on the basis of their self-proclaimed special status. This is also the danger of the idea of the victim as someone with special status and the right to special claims, that can manifest itself in so many different ways – i.e. the “compensation culture.”

    I think if you look carefully you may find an element of this idea with respect to your attitude towards DL.

    However, having said that I do also have considerable sympathy for the remarks made by yourselves that you felt uncomfortable about the WSS use of the footage of Tibetan protests in Chinese controlled Tibet. I also felt uncomfortable about this and would have been happy for this to have not been included. It did “make the point” in a sense, but I’m not at all sure if it was necessary.

    I find this whole thing really rather sad to be honest. WSS needs to make their message loud and clear in order to be heard at all. Now we are also trying to explain why it is that DL has become so (in our opinion) misguided on this issue in order for it to make sense to people. We need to reject the idea that he is acting on the basis of compassion with regard to this issue, as otherwise we are unable to make our point clearly – that what he has done and said is wrong.

    Beyond this we just want to see an end to the rhetoric and discrimination against Dorje Shugden worshippers, and for everyone within Tibetan society, and world-wide Buddhist society also, to be able to live together in peace and harmony, and to enjoy the basic liberty of religious freedom. Is this really so much to ask for? Is this really so incompatible with Buddhist ideas and ideals? Is this really something for which you yourselves feel no support?

    Even as a supporter of WSS and 98% of their words and activities, I will still contine to hold out an olive branch on this site in the hope of a glorious future for Tibetans in which they can once more be allowed to live together in peace and harmony.


    What happened to the pretty photo of the tree and the lake? I’m really missing this!

    Best Wishes,


  18. Adam, why speculating over an abuse in the TGIE or in the Tibetan exile community which you just don’t know. Asian cultures are very different in how they deal with conflicts and solve them. And it is up to them to do it. They don’t need NKT or WSS for it.

    It is far more questionable that people from NKT, who are just not interested in the Tibetan’s welfare, who never expressed gratitude to them or supported them by any mean (although they owe them and HHDL and the Gelug school everything regarding Buddhism); NKT people who said “we are just not interested” have launched since April 2008 a world wide media campaign for “religious freedom” and against “persecution”, at a point when the own power abuses and sexual abuses in the organisation appeared to the public eye; and discussion of it and the counselling of it was oppressed by NKT’s leadership.

    So why going mentally abroad when the abuse of power and abuse of religion in the own organisation could be solved by the power of the members of NKT and wasting the energy for launching a negative and questionable Anti-Dalai-lama campaign?


    If you look more deeply to the abuse right in front of you: not only there is this sad state within NKT but also the internet is abused.

    NKT members take pseudo-identities claim to be Tibetans and report of “persecution” and attack any person critical with them. They abuse the internet to lead a verbal abuse and slander campaign against the Dalai Lama in the name of “religious freedom”, putting down Tibetans as stupid and “blind faith” followers of the Dalai Lama. A campaign using words and methods as launched usually only by CCP’s dictatorship – but even they are more restrained than NKT.

    I feel it just as being very dishonest to neglect the sad state of NKT and the similarity in approach to CCP while going mentally abroad to practice fault-finding about a people and its government one is not at all affiliated with and in whose welfare there was never any interest.

    Yes the photo of the tree and lake is very nice and inspires a nice mood. I changed the theme to a more clear and easy style for the sake of putting the written content into the middle. This theme has no image nor the possibility to add one. So the image is gone… :-)

    • Rainbow_Ninja says:


      Can you please offer some proof (other than other bloggers) about the acusations you so often make about the NKT?

      I agree with Adam, I think the WSS went too far sometimes in how it made its arguement and this is unfortunate. I know a very realised monk, who went along to one of the demonstrations and decided that this was not the way to ‘heal the rift’ in Buddhism and would not go along to any others. I myself, decided not to participate at all – as I felt it would only summon up more anger and upset in people’s minds.

      However, I think the issues that began this all that time ago – keeping Dharma purely, or mixing it with other traditions – have been forgotten in the land slide of hate and anger and petty on-line blogging smear campaigns of either side.

      I think we must remember that an angry voice posting n a web site or sending an e-mail is not really representative of either side and try to rise above such lack of wisdom.

      I have done much study of this issue lately and have come to the conclusion that it makes sense to me to practise Dharma purely and I trust the Geshes who propounded this view. As a Dharma protector, I trust Dorjie Shugden and will continue to include him in my practice. I think that it makes sense that to reach enlightenment, one unadulterated path is better tnan mixing them and maybe loosing your way.

      So I am staying with my dharma centre and spiritual guide and having been through the process of investigating this for myself, respect any others who follow the same process – whatever they decide and whoever they follow.

      i would like to thank all of you for positive and negative comments on here as this site has helped a lot in directing me in my search to figure this out. Ultimately, though I have found little ‘truth’ in on-line blogs and realised today that these arguements are not being held by HHDl and Geshe-la, but us – so they have limited usefulness.

      While I am happy with the decision I have made, my heart still bleeds at the lack of compassion, understanding and unity being expereinced by Buddhists today and makes me more committed to following a ‘pure’ tradition in these degenerated times.

      Adam – I thought your writing was very gentle, compassionate and loving – thank you for that. It really helped to open my eyes and heart and to see the responses you received helped too.

      Love and peace to you all and may we all one day abide toegther in a pure land with this behind us. I think the most important thing to come out of this whole affair for me today is the desire to be rid of Samsara once and for all.

      Claire xx

  19. Dear Adam,
    “many aggressively nationalist and sectarian groups that take pride not only in pursuing their own aims regardless of others, but also in dismissing criticism on the basis of their self-proclaimed special status.”

    Adam, you can see this exact attitude from NKT supporters on the Tricycle blog, where they dismissed the true stories of difficulties articulated by former members as “gossip”. The story of Jampa Tashi, kicked out of an NKT centre for seeing his ordination preceptor was completely ignored in favour of NKT’s “special status” as a pure organization. In fact, the stories of all survivors were explained like this on Tricycle:”Regarding Kadampa Survivors – there are 750 members because people like gossip and that’s where they’re going to get it from”.

    Some of Ursula Bernis’ research is interesting but I no longer view her as completely trustworthy. On the internet NKT members have said she was unbiased, and in some of her writings she said she was not a Shugden practitioner but merely a concerned Buddhist researching the issue. However, on one of the NKT blogs Thomas Canada recently revealed that she had in fact taken Shugden initiations, and had ties with several of the more well known Lamas who advocated Shugden. Also, she admits her Tibetan wasn’t good, so I don’t think the NKT can continue to portray her research as reliable and unbiased.

    WSS does not need to use many of their tactics in order to get their message heard. Why slogans based on prejudice like “saffron-robed Muslim”? Why have Kelsang pema say to reporters that the Dalai Lama is a “Hollywood Monk who just laughs when you ask him about Buddhism” despite the facts that there are countless clear books of his teachings with explanations on Madhyamika, Kalchakra Tantra, Dzogchen, Mahamudra, Lama Chopa and other complex topics. Why malign in such a way, that has nothing to do with the Shugden issue? This is why I find it very hard to believe when she and other WSS organizers say “I have no anger”.

    Also, you try to depict the Dalai Lama as lacking in compassion when he says he was surprised by hearing the story of the monk who was afraid of losing his compassion for the PLA soldier. In fact, he was surprised at how good his practice was. I have sat in teachings with HHDL on compassion in the Lam Rim where he has told this story and wept, so your attempt to depict his views in this way reveals that you will try to make any statement of his political fodder for your protest.

    As for the WSS being concerned about problems in Tibetan society, fine. But why are so many NKT members (the majority of WSS protestors even if it is an ad-hoc group)suddently concerned about Tibetan issues? Tibetans are beaten up, put in jail, raped and killed by Chinese authorities – Amnesty and HUman Rights Watch confirm this has been going on for decades. But NKT members were never encouraged by their leaders to stand up for Tibetans then. Why not? This is why many see the NKTs involvement in WSS as suspect, because far more obvious and confirmable atrocities (like murder) have been inflicted on Tibetans for years, and NKT’s higher echelon teachers never wrote letters asking their students to speak out against that.

  20. Adam: Thats all very well and good, but is the dharma really meant as an entertainment venue or social club for westerners, or as one contemporary Sakya lama warned sternly in the early 70’s, was it a mistaken undertaking to try to teach westerners at all– their sensibility is just differently geared to accept absolute surrender to an ‘infallible’ preceptor. Since the NKT has cut itself off from the actual lineage, why don’t they wear green coloured outfits instead of imitation monastic costumes from a traditional foreign culture they have demonstrated complete and utter contempt for over and over with no hint of flexibility or unselfihness. Tibetans in India lamented the loss of these fundamentalist evangelical missionaries who found a more lucrative place to serve. Who is left to do shabten, funerary rights and so on? Some of the hottter heads in my town may not follow the path of ahimsa and its east to predict restraint from nasty actions is a possibility, if these dress up monks try publicity stunts next visit (if you get my drift). Like I said buildings even priories can burn down to the ground when the conditions for fire are present. This is my last post.

    • Rainbow_Ninja says:


      you seem to be a little misinformed. The NKT cut themselves off because they wanted to keep the lineage pure and to practise the Dharma set down by the masters of HHDl and Geshe-la themselves. They did not ‘cut themselves off’ from the lineage, this rift began because HHDL stated that part of the practise was to be stopped and – seperately, in the West, people were practising a very wishy washy and inclusive form of Dharma. It is interesting that the heads of the other four traditions in Tibetan Buddhisms don’t want to mix the traditions either.

      I don’t think that Tibetan’s are suffering from a shortage of monks either.

      I hope an pray for everyone’s sake that nothing burns – keep peace in your heart xx

  21. stainless tradition says:

    This has been posted by Barbara O’Brien, a well known Zen teacher:

    “The real issue here is not worship of a particular deity. This is a power struggle within Tibetan Buddhism. The Dorje Shugden cult has existed for nearly 400 years, and its purpose from the beginning has been to undermine the spiritual authority of the Dalai Lama in order to impose more rigidly sectarian practices within the Gelug school.

    Just about a century ago, the 13th Dalai Lama banned the sect because it threatened to tear Tibetan Buddhism apart *then*. The current Dalai Lama as a young man was introduced to Dorje Shugden practices by one of his teachers, but in the mid-1970s the sect published a book that threatened horrible and painful death for anyone who dared stray from the sect’s rigid ideas of practice. His Holiness was shocked and dropped Dorje Shugden from his own practices.

    The gulf has grown wider since; Dorje Shugden culties just love to start some kind of trouble and then play the victim if anyone reacts. That’s the game they were playing outside Radio City; they goaded people into attacking them, then made videos of the attacks and released them on the web to show how persecuted they are.

    It is shocking to me that anyone calling himself a Buddhist would willfully cause this sort of trouble at a time when the future of Tibetan Buddhism is threatened. The Dorje Shugden cult is perfectly free to set up its own institutions and practice Buddhism any way they want; they don’t need anyone’s permission. They should just do that and stop trying to destroy the rest of Tibetan Buddhism.”


  22. Dear Tenzin,

    what you are in effect saying is that you believe that the campaign of the Western Shugden Society is in reality an instance of group projection whereby the NKT as a group firstly denies it’s own psychological problems and then locates them somewhere else, where they don’t in fact exist. Or perhaps you are suggesting that the NKT is engaging in deliberate diversion tactics, as I think Carol may have suggested.

    I don’t deny either of these as theoretical possibilities, but I simply don’t believe them to be true in this instance. The activites of the WSS are a direct response to the consequences of the phoney referendum, and the actions, including banning people from shops and hospitals, that look place subsequently.

    I do not request that the problems of the NKT should be ignored, just that they should be looked at in a different context. If I wanted to discuss the problems of the NKT I would do postings on the NKT Truth blog as I have already done. I am very pleased that NKT Truth has made the offer to examine complaints or criticisms, and I hope that now people will no longer feel as though their issues are going to be just ignored.

    This is something that I have been hoping and praying for for many years. This is my perspective. Also, it doesn’t make any sense to me for people to try to portray the faults of individuals as the faults of an entire organisation. For a better explanation of this point see the amazing section on The Emptiness of Singularity and Plurality within Eight Steps to Happiness, which I presume you must have a copy of if you try to do Amazon reviews of Geshe-la’s books.

    So anyway…. you are welcome to make points about the NKT as often as you like, but since I have already stated clearly my own position on this one, I may choose not to answer such points again.

    In summary my position is:

    1) I don’t accept the existence of the projective mechanism that you suggest, linking NKT failings to the activities of the WSS.

    2) Whilst I do accept that there have been many faults and problems within the NKT I regard this as a different subject and not one which I wish to discuss in this context.

    3) Whilst I do accept that many individuals within the NKT have had faults, myself included, I do not believe that “The NKT” is to blame for this, except perhaps in so far as it fails to try to remedy it – an ommission which seems to me to be adequately corrected by means of the NKT Truth blog.

    So this is my position, and I probably won’t bother repeating it again.


    From my own point of view I don’t see why it compromises the research of Ursula Bernis if she took Shugden empowerments. It merely means that she isn’t “neutral” on the issue; but I’m not sure if any one, herself included, ever claimed that she was, or that they would even want to. What we are saying is that this is an objective and intellectually honest piece of work that shows clearly the errors into which DL has fallen and the terrible suffering that it has caused.

    My initial reaction to the “saffron-robed Muslim” statement was to consider it not just indefensible but also upsetting. I have since learnt to rationalise it to an extent and to consider it to be something that perhaps serves a purpose, but this is a personal position and not one that I could or would try to defend. One way of looking at this statement is to say that it is basically just saying “you’re a phoney” and this is the argument that has been given in defence of this statement. I don’t find it entirely convicing as why not just say “you’re a phoney” if that’s what you mean.

    I prefer not to think about this one any more and to concentrate on the bigger issue, and I think that this is a defensible position.

    Similarly I can’t be held personally responsible for every single statement made by WSS representatives, and it would be tiresome and silly to have to answer in defence of every single one of them. If you want to see a lengthy debate of “right speech” with resepct to this issue read the debate between Tenzin, Chris Ward, and myself on the Triple Gem web site.

    It occurred to me before visiting the site to see your replies that my reference to DL’s statements in Wiesenthal’s book could be seen as suggesting that he lacked compassion. This is not the case at all. When I was reading this book in 2005 I had no awareness of what was going on with regards to the Dorje Shugden issue and thought and hoped that DL has weakened his stance for the sake of harmony. When I read his statement I found it extremely inspiring myself and even admired his humility in saying that he found it a surprising response. The point of the !!! was to say that I’m sure most people would also consider this a surprising answer!!! So this was intened as a gentle and friendly introduction to an explanation of the potential faults of the concept of “victimhood” and not as an insult to DL.

    You ask why it is that NKT teachers have never asked their students to speak out about human rights attrocities against Tibetans. I hope you will forgive me, (and appreciate that I am making a point and not just being sarcastic), if I ask you why, if you truly believe in the teachings on compassionate equanimity, neglect to speak out on behalf of every single instance of abuse that occurres anywhere in the world. This would obviously have to include not just human beings but animals also.

    Why is it that you are not a member of every single organisation througout the world dedicated to the alleviation of human or animal misery in all of its myriad forms? Only if you were you might not have much time for your Dharma study and practice!

    The WSS does not even claim to have a particular interest in Tibetan affairs as such, at least not as I understand it; just a particular interest in defending Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition as protected by the glorious Dharma Protector Dulzin Dorje Shugden.

    Best Wishes,


  23. Originally posted on the Dirty Laundry Thread:

    “Kadampa, claiming the Fifth broke his monastic vows; asserts this charge made in the WSS website in the so called “Lama Policy”:

    “The Fifth Dalai Lama achieved political power through the Mongolian ruler, Gushri Khan who helped him to fight a civil war against the Karma Tenkyong Wangpo, the principal ruler of Tibet. Requested by the Fifth Dalai Lama, Gushri Khan sent the Mongolian army into Tibet, and as a result Karma Tenkyong Wangpo was murdered and the Fifth Dalai Lama won the war…The Fifth Dalai Lama was an ordained Buddhist monk who had the commitment not to harm others, including not to kill and not to steal. He therefore acted directly against the spiritual rules of Buddhism.”

    There are a number of problems with this allegation. One, it implies that the Fifth, a 24 year old man at this point in his life, had the King of Tsang put to death by Gushri Khan. Of course there is no citations of texts, no proofs, just a claim.

    The truth of course is somewhat different, McCune’s master’s degree thesis recounts:

    “In 1618, Tsang troops attacked Gelukpa monasteries in Lhasa and managed to obtain for themselves complete domination of the city. These were tumultuous times for the Gelukpas. Because of their increasing popularity throughout central Tibet and into eastern Tibet, or Kham, the sect had become an object of suspicion. For their part, the Tsangpas forced a number of Gelukpa monks to take up Karma Kagyu robes. Many of the monks who did not convert were killed or otherwise brutalized. But the Tsangpas were not the only group harboring mistrust of the Geluks. In Kokonor, the chief of the Chahar Mongol tribe, Lekden Khan (1604-1636), also became wary of the sect; most probably because of their involvement with the Qoshots, but also because of his partiality towards another Tibetan religious group, the Bönpos. Still another anti-Gelukpa cell existed in Kham. This group was led by the Bönpo king of Beri, Dönyö Dorjé. Over time, these three groups allied themselves for the purposes of demolishing the Gelukpa sect.

    Nevertheless, the Gelukpas and their allies were able to sustain themselves through these challenging times and in 1619, they set in motion a series of militaristic events that would change Gelukpa fortunes for the better. By 1641, after a series of conflicts, Gushri Khan and his allies emerged victorious. Both the king of Beri and the Tsang ruler were put to death, thus quieting their supporters and setting the stage for a period of Gelukpa domination of Tibetan religious and secular affairs that would not end until the seizure of Tibet by the Chinese Communists.”

    The Fifth Dalai Lama was 1 year old in 1618. A loyal Gelugpa, the Gushri Khan started his offensives against the Karma Kagyus and other Gelugpa enemies in 1618 and so on because of his relationship with the recently deceased Fourth Dalai Lama, the first of the name.

    Further, according to McCune:

    “But the relationship between Sönam Chömpel and the Dalai Lama was not without its problems. In fact, there were several occasions upon which the former directly disobeyed the latter’s requests. For example, in 1639, the chief attendant approached the young Dalai Lama in order to inform him of his and Gushri Khan’s plans to attack the chief of Beri, who had aligned himself with the Tsangpas. According to Shakabpa, the Fifth was less than enthusiastic about these plans saying that “too many people have suffered in the past and even been killed because of this kind of political activity. I feel that if we are unnecessarily active, we might find ourselves in the same predicament.”

    Sönam Chömpel, however, was driven by a strong desire to unify Tibet, and thereby consolidate temporal power into the hands of his school. Thus, he ignored the advice of the Fifth, issuing a joint communiqué commanding that the Beri chief be destroyed. The attack was thence carried out according to plan.

    This is but one example of Sönam Chömpel’s independent nature and willingness to turn a blind eye to the Dalai Lama’s authority if it meant attaining certain of his own political prerogatives. There were several similar occurrences before the eventual victory
    of the Mongols over the Tsangpas and their cohorts.”

    So we can see that real responsibility for the political machinations which lead to the execution of the Bon Cheiftan, Donyo Dorje as well as Karma Tenkyong Wangpo by Gushri Khan lay with the attendant, and later regent, Sonam Chophel (1595-1658), who had been working with Gushri Khan to shake off Kagyu rule in Lhasa, etc. and consolidate a Gelug hegemony in Tibet.

    Because of all of this history is well documented by scholars working in some cases thirty years prior the 1996 statements by HHDL, we do not need to worry about their objectivity.

    As usual, we see, as usual, that the WSS’s statements such as the “Lama Policy” are bold-faced lies shrouded in half-truths.

    The charge that the Fifth broke his monastic vows in relation to these events is shown to be false, since in fact we can see that the young Fifth opposed Sonam Chophel’s plan to assassinate the Bonpo enemy of the Gelugpas and so on,

    A similar distortion of facts occurs today– HHDL is accused of trying to bring all the four schools under Gelug administration in 1961. In fact, this was the plan of the Junior Tutor, Trijiang Rinpoche.

    Under advice from HH Karmapa, and Dudjom Rinpoche and so on, however, HHDL refused the Junior Tutor’s plan and encouraged each of the four schools to administer separate camps and monasteries, a system which remains in place today.


  24. Namdrol: Thank you for your post, I hope you continue here and elsewhere. As for your last two paragraphs, I concur that is the way the meeting was described to me by some of the participants. The group photo of these lamas is on the web with a legend of who’s who. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche is standing beside Song Rinpoche in the second row.


    The claim that Ursula Bernis was not a Shugden . worshipper but an unaligned observer was made on several of the Shugden sites. I correct myself in that she may have not said this herself. Following are my refutations of some points in the research of Ursula Bernis:

    -She says that Trijang Rinpoche and Phabongkhapa were not sectarian, and uses the term “open-mindedness” to describe the approach of modern Shugden lamas . I think you would agree with the recent translations of sectarian statements of both Lamas, including a description of how Shugden brings ill-health and ruin on those who mix other teachings with Gelug, provides evidence to counter the portrait she tries to paint here.

    -She quotes the wife of a well known Tibetan teacher and former monk in Clementown , where she says that her husband had lived peacefully for five years with no problems before HHDL began speaking against Shugden. This I know to be untrue from a friend of mine, who studied with this former Geshe in Clementown and told me he was very politically opinionated and alienated many people in regards to non DS-related matters.

    -Her essay is filled with vague statements from people she interviews such as this one “I found out through reliable sources — I can’t tell you who — that an ex-military man and a member of the Tibetan parliament from Rajpur was discussing my two sons and their whereabouts in school in Dharamsala and my involvement with the Dorje Shugden Society with other Tibetans from a military background” I tried to get documentation to back up these statements…did not want to go on record to corroborate them publically” Her paper is filled with other vague accusations and excuses for not providing proof. Surely the inclusion of such vague rumours framed as evidence indicates her paper does is not up to the academic standard as she tries to depict it.

    -In reference to the TGIE“and the political system remains without institutionalized opposition.” This is an outdated statement nowadays, as political parties are starting to emerge in the Exile community in India: (see the Phayul website)

    -She portrays the opposition to Shugden as a completely new thing that started to emerge in the mid-1990s, but we know the issue had caused problems far earlier in history than that, including causing many years of problems in pre-occupation Tibet.

    -She, like GKG and others, have no explanation for why Shugden was regarded for so long as a wordly protector, but suddenly promoted to the position of a Buddha-protector, except the word of a some venerated teachers. No historical explanation for this shift is elucidated in the “academic” essay she presents

    -She uses this statement to contradict the original Lama (Dagchen Sonam Rinchen of the Sakya tradition) who bound Shugden , who states Shugden was a worldly protector: “Those who believe Dorje Shugden to be a worldly spirit say that he was put under oath (under covenant) by this great master, an act believed to turn a spirit into a servant of the Buddha Dharma. However, those who rely on Dorje Shugden as a Dharmapala take the promise Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen had made to Pehar (to act as special guardian of Je Tsong Khapa’s doctrine in the future when the need arose) as the main component initiating the series of events that caused him to arise eventually, more than two hundred years later, in the form of Dorje Shugden”
    What events? How did a worldy oath-bound spirit achieve enlightenment? How do we know he did?
    “In other words, he was not subdued like a worldly spirit would need to be but manifested the different Buddha activities (‘phrin.las), which include wrathful acts, out of his own determination and high spiritual accomplishments. Properly naming this force and marking that event with a ceremony called enthronement is giving it its proper recognition. This has been confused with the act of subduing a worldly spirit. The different beliefs about Dorje Shugden depend not so much on historical records but on the differing interpretations of the relationship between reality and appearance.”
    In other words, there are no reliable historical or religious treatises to back up these claims, and so Shugden remained largely an unpopular deity whose status was disputed until Phabongkhapa.

    -“Phabongka was famous for his view that lamas should not become involved in politics, …” a very strange statement because Phabhongkhapa accepted the position of governor of Chamdo and ruled in that capacity.

    -“Interesting to note here is that the Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden strongly favor Tibetan independence” This statement is not accurate either. Perhaps there is some divergence in opinion, but there are also many Shugdens who support the Chinese government and its Panchen Lama (gangchen Rinpoche) and openly state Chinese rule is better for Tibet (Kundeling Losang Yeshe). How this blanket statement could me made in light of these facts is mystifying to me.

    -“I hope this will not be interpreted out of hand as demonizing or an out-right attack on the Dalai Lama.” This is hard to believe when she singles out the Dalai Lama for a bunch of things in the paper not even related to Shugden, such as allowing his photo to be used by apple computer. Of course, no one noted that the money from that went to fund cash-starved Tibetan Schools and destitute monasteries in the border regions.

    -“Here it was again, this time the Dalai Lama himself telling me that “once you touch Nyingma tradition, even one text of Nyingma, in your house, your room, this spirit will destroy you.” I know this to be untrue.” Yet again, the quotes from Trijang and Phabongkha Rinpoches and Zemey Tulku’s Yellow Book seem to contradict her assertion.

    -“Zemey Rinpoche, a renowned Gelug scholar, found this out the hard way. Unfortunately, he published a book that would have better been left unpublished, especially since the names of other Lamas, like Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, became connected with its devastating political results, even though reportedly he did not have anything to do with its publication. From reliable oral sources of people close to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, he did not approve or give permission to publish the “Yellow Book.”
    Yet Zemey Tulku claims that many of the stories in the Yellow Book were told to him by Trijang Rinpoche himself! If this weren’t true, why did Trijang Rinpoche not speak out against it.

  26. Regarding Zemed Rinpoche: It is very unlikely that he lied in what had been transmitted to him by Trijang Rinpoche. Why should he corrupt the own oral lineage by claiming things which are not true and could easily be refuted by Trijang Rinpoche himself?

    At E-Sangha it was said that the Trijang Labrang also ordered copies of the Yellow Book. (I don’t know if this is a reliable information.)

    As von Brück states: “A controversial book by the late Zemed Rinpoche (Gaden monastery) in 1976 defending the Shugden worship and counter-arguments by Jadral Rinpoche (Nyingma) and others aggravated verbal hostilities.” it makes me wonder why nobody stood up from those following Shugden to prove Zimed Rinpoche’s claims to be wrong.

    According to Dreyfus rather they were curious on how HHDL would react because the book was mainly attacking him, because at that time he installed Nyingma rituals for the TGIE for the sake of all Tibetans…

    Maybe Namdrol can explain more.
    Thank you Namdrol for your input!

  27. Chatral Sangey Dorje Rinpoche author of the anti-Shugden polemic entitled Rain of Adamantine Fire barely survived an attempted murder by stangulation in Nepal a few years back. The attacker, a strong western man, had requested a private interview but when noises were heard in the interview room the attack was thwarted and Chatral Rinpoche survived despite being in his nineties. This incident is not widely known.

  28. show details 3:23 AM (0 minutes ago) Reply

    Hi Adam

    “From my own point of view I don’t see why it compromises the research of Ursula Bernis if she took Shugden empowerments.”

    I think the bias did compromise Ursula Bernis’ less than scholarly paper somewhat.

    She glossed over the sectarian nature of the Shugden practice and made excuses for the Yellow Book:
    “If he or she has made a commitment to a specific path to enlightenment that promises to accelerate his or her progress, then, from a Buddhist point of view, breaking that commitment has consequences — but only for the practitioner not, as was absurdly claimed, for other sects.” (p.91: “attempting to make sense – p.27”)
    So unlike Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who dismissed the Yellow Book as superstitious, Bernis by her own admission did believe what’s said in the book and thought the “consequences” were justified, as long as Shugden did not punish non-Gelugs.

    But Bernis was also quick to let Trijang Rinpoche off the hook. She wrote ” From reliable oral sources of people close to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, he did not approve or give permission to publish the “Yellow Book.” ” (same page n.76) without telling us what those “reliable oral sources” are.

    In addition, she made empty claims about Shugden being the special protector of the Gaden Oral Lineage after the Great Fifth. She wrote “During this time there seems to have been no record of much conflict surrounding Dorje Shugden. Its practice was not very public.51 Until Pabongka Rinpoche (1878-1941) taught widely, no Gelugpa who relied on Dorje Shugden had become as famous.”
    (p.46, “Eulogy-p.12”)

    However, the only support Bernis gave was this footnote : “It is difficult to say how wide spread it was during that time. One reason, which remains valid till today, is that DorjeShugden is also considered a special protector of the most secret practices contained in the Ganden Oral Tradition (Ganden Nyen Gyü or Genden Kagyü), “a system of tantric practices first conceived and taught be the great Je Rinpoche, Tsongkapa [1357-1419]…also known more fully, as the Ganden Oral Tradition of Mahamudra or, concisely, as the Gelukpa Mahamudra.” Enlightened Beings, Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition, by Janice D. Willis, Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1995,Introduction, p. xiv.” (same page n.51)

    It might leave the impression that Willis was saying Shugden had been the protector all along. But reading that book, one will quickly find out Shugden was never mentioned in that page or the whole preface. Willis was simply introducing the Ganden Oral Tradition, and that was it.

    But Shugden did show up much later in the book, in the conflicting accounts of who’s the real guardian for the lineage. (Willis, p.162,n.114) but Bernis chose to ignore it.



  29. The Ocean of Truths

    The truth office of WSS/NKT composed another truth based on the Ocean of Truth. The world and Buddhism can be extremely proud of presenting you this new and hidden truth:
    Reting Lama – How he chose the false Dalai Lama

    Don’t worry if you can not accept this as the truth if you become a member of NKT you will because it is a “New Kadampa Truth” – the true truth-brand. But if you have no faith in NKT you can not understand NKT nor can you become enlightened. Foremost what you need is faith. Faith means according to Geshe Kelsang: “a naturally virtuous mind that functions mainly to oppose the perception of faults in its observed object.” So if you have faith in NKT or even better pure faith you have a pure mind and then you can really see the truth: Every “New Kadampa Truth” is The Truth and the Dalai Lama is completely wrong, evil & cruel and the destroyer of the Buddhadharma.

    But if you lack pure faith you can’t perceive things as WSS/NKT because you don’t have a pure mind and you will only perceive faults. It’s up to you to develop pure faith and to gain its benefits. Before you make your decision keep in mind that according to NKT’s spiritual leadership the Gelug school is “very degenerated” and we live in a “very degenerated time” and it was Geshe Kelsang, the “third Buddha”, who “has restored the essential purity of Buddha’s doctrine and shown how to practice it in extremely impure times”.


  30. Adam,

    Do you still maintain the WSS is non-political?

  31. Dear Khedrup,

    the claim that Reting Lama chose the false Dalai Lama makes no sense to me at all!

    Haven’t we already said that several of the Dalai Lama’s were in error? If so then perhaps this fellow, with seriously strange karma with respect to Buddhism, is reincarnation as the DL in successive generations, and making some big mistakes in some of his lifetimes.

    This is always how I have understood it. Personally, I couldn’t really care less whether Reting Lama chose the “false” Dalai Lama. I see the whole thing in more conventional non-Buddhist terms – i.e. that the Dalai Lama is the person who happened to be “recognised” as the Dalai Lama as a child; and leave open the question as to whether he is or isn’t a reincarnation of a previous Dalai Lama.

    I think that this is the stance that I will continue to hold.

    Best Wishes,


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