GUEST POST by Joanne Clark
I was sad to read the recent rant published online by “Kadampa Ryan” entitled Ten Valid Reasons to Conclude That Tenzin Gyatso is a False Dalai Lama. (PDF)
I, and others, have devoted a great deal of our time in dialogue with Ryan, in what he once called his “common ground” project. We had hopes that he placed a higher value on truth and decency than his peers within the NKT. However, this recent writing of Ryan’s is filled with vitriol, deception, unsubstantiated claims and narrow cultural bias. It’s sad.
Here are some facts in relation to Ryan’s writing:
- Ryan provides no sources for his statements about the Dalai Lama. They could be barroom gossip for all we know.
- He alleges things about the Dalai Lama that I, as a close follower, have never witnessed. Is he privy to inside information? As he lives in China, this is doubtful!
- For example, I have NEVER witnessed the Dalai Lama:
- Accuse Shugden practitioners (for 40 years) of “wanting to harm” his life and the cause of Tibet; (point one)
- Accuse Shugden practitioners (for 40 years) of being Chinese spies; (point one)
- Accuse Shugden worshippers (for 40 years) of being murderers or sectarian. (point one)
- Force followers to make a decision between “loving him” and “practicing Shugden”. (This point, #2, was very convoluted– logic indeed.)
- “Encourage people to abandon their vows and threaten a second Cultural Revolution for those who don’t comply.” (point three)
- “Implore his followers and his government to withdraw all material support for and even association with Dorje Shugden practitioners.” (point six)
- Speak of Shugden practitioners as “enemies.” (point six)
- Raise money from Westerners for the Tibetan cause. (point nine)
- Call himself the “ultimate refuge”—in fact, he is very clear in every teaching on refuge that the Dharma is the ultimate refuge. (point ten)
- In addition, Ryan’s story about how the Dalai Lama was falsely recognized due to a plot by Reting Rinpoche is not backed by “considerable evidence” as Ryan claims. In fact, this is a story told by anonymous authors who cite another anonymous author in the ISC publication False Dalai Lama: Worst Dictator in Modern History. Ryan himself has already refuted part of that story—the part about the Dalai Lama being Muslim. Isn’t it odd that he would trust the rest? Or perhaps he has found new evidence? Mainstream authors, who use their names and allow peers to review their work would not agree with this story. (point five)
- As for Ryan’s claim about religious persecution, we—and Amnesty International and the Indian High Courts—are still waiting for evidence that there is significant religious persecution occurring! If he provided that, Ryan would then have to find evidence that the Dalai Lama instigated the persecution. He’s a long way from substantiating this claim: “Only a False Dalai Lama would hypocritically preach religious freedom in the world but then deny it in his own home.” (point four)
- Recently, Ryan agreed that he was wrong about monks being made homeless due to restrictions on Shugden practice. However, several statements in this piece of writing suggest that he hasn’t really let go of that story– is that true?
- Ryan provides no historical context or source for this silly, children’s story: “The Chinese told [the Dalai Lama] decades ago Tibetans could have religious freedom if only he would renounce any political position and authority. But instead, until only very recently, he held onto his position as both political and spiritual leader…Only a False Dalai Lama would hold himself out as a false hope when in reality it was his intransigence of wanting to hold onto his own political position that stood in the way of the religious freedom of his people.”
Really? Could Ryan provide some sources for that story? Some dates? This sounds like a one-dimensional children’s story—or a spin coming from the PRC propaganda machine—and like every other claim from the PRC and the ISC, it places the cause of every Tibetan problem on the shoulders of the Dalai Lama. It is beyond the scope of this writing—and definitely beyond Ryan’s understanding– to discuss the history of Tibet over the past 60 years. However, let it suffice to say that Ryan’s rendition is inadequate at best and I am certain he cannot provide an historical source for his claim. (point seven)
- This statement by Ryan: “he wears all sorts of ‘false hats’ to promote his celebrity status,” clearly demonstrates that Ryan knows nothing about the Dalai Lama, the Dharma teacher he’s maligning. He simply knows of a face in the headlines. In reality, the hats the Dalai Lama wears are more than hats—they’re extensive projects, involving many many hours, days, weeks and years of his time. These projects bring delight and human decency, wisdom, hope and courage into the lives of millions of people around the world. And there is also the hatless Dharma teacher, the humble scholar who teaches Nagarjuna, Tsongkhapa, Kamalashila, Buddha etc. in ways that challenge the intellect and heart of all who attend. The Dalai Lama’s knowledge of Dharma far surpasses most lamas. But Ryan doesn’t know about this or about those other projects spreading altruism around the world—and yet he claims to know intimate details on what motivates the Dalai Lama, how he thinks and feels! How can that be? (point eight)
- As for this statement: “He willingly deceives people in the West into believing Tibet is some sort of Shangri-la, when in reality it has always been a feudal theocracy.”I have heard Ryan’s story about the alleged sorry state of Tibet before! My friend Chris Chandler is a great fan of this theory. And so is the PRC! They love to claim that they have rescued poor, ignorant Tibetans from their feudal lords! Personally, I find Ryan’s, Chris’s and the PRC’s attitudes in this regard to be narrow, bigoted, hate-filled and ignorant.
Also, Ryan must know that we in the US have some deep shame in our own history and no American has the right to judge the history of another people—even today, our civil rights record is abysmal. How would we feel if people from other countries and cultures started calling us names and denigrating our choices? Once again, Ryan needs to read his history and discover for himself that Tibetan history is certainly no worse than our own history—Tibetan culture is a treasure to be preserved. He might even be interested to read the Dalai Lama’s first autobiography, written before the civil rights movement in this country, in which the Dalai Lama spoke of social reforms he had been initiating within Tibet in order to address inequalities. The PRC blocked much of that work. (point nine)
- So how did Ryan do? Ten wrong out of ten. So much for “logic” and “looking deeply.” Most of what I’ve just written I’ve written before. Why do I keep feeling like I’m dealing with naughty children? Ryan has no more proof for his wild rant than I would have if I came up with a story that he was a child molester who was embezzling money from his government and teaching false Dharma. And writing a discussion about the Dalai Lama from China is a little like writing about tropical plants from Siberia. He has a distinct disadvantage there.
Surely, surely, any adult making claims that horribly malign another individual would take the time to be sure of his/her facts. But Ryan and I have already had that conversation as well. He is simply not concerned. He calls these infractions of truth minor and lightweight, of no significance. And as this diatribe shows, he is not concerned about providing evidence for his allegations, not concerned if what he says is clearly a fabrication.
All that seems to matter to Shugdenpas today is the need to rally the troops for the upcoming protests under those signs about a “false Dalai Lama.” And the phrase itself has that hypnotic quality when the protesters chant, doesn’t it? It has that insidious ear-worm that won’t leave you after you’ve heard it. This is what Ryan is really writing about, isn’t it? Somewhere someone has decided that the Dalai Lama is an enemy who must be undermined. The decision has been made and so it seems that the details don’t matter very much to anyone involved.
This is what I see, as Ryan builds his puppet, calls it the Dalai Lama and then accuses it of being false. All I can say is of course it’s false, just as false as the Ryan child molester I could build if I felt spiteful enough. When is the Shugden community going to come to its senses?