The divorce from the Shugden monks: Is segregation “the Dalai Lama’s discrimination against Shugdens”?

I always wondered – besides all their other false accusations, propaganda, untruths and spin of the facts – why the New Kadampa Tradition via their front groups WSS & ISC make such a big fuss about “segregation”. Is segregation necessarily a crime?* If you cannot cope with another person or group you just separate. This is something very common in the world and experienced by many, for instance by those who go through a divorce. But would a divorced man or woman run a campaign against this or her former partner accusing the former partner that the separation or clean cut such a divorce brings is “discrimination”? How stupid! A divorce can become dirty but a divorce can be also very healthy for both sides, far better than staying together.

In the context of NKT/ISC it is even more breathtaking how they involved themselves in a divorce without having ever been a part of that divorce themselves. The Western protesters live in a total different Western world. Tenzin Dorjee wrote that “the protesters are overwhelmingly white American and European men masquerading as Tibetan monks and victims”. These protesters have no ties to the monks in India nor have they ever sought to have any relationship to Tibetan monks, nuns and masters. They just abuse a situation abroad – far away in India at places they’ve never visited or seen; places they even have never intended to visit – to attack the character of the Dalai Lama based on a totally self-referential internal propaganda network and the order of their Guru, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: “I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted.”

Reflecting the situation in India in the Gelug monasteries – where a majority decided to separate from Shugden monks after times of unrest, disharmony, and turmoil – it always came to my mind ‘it is just similar to a divorce, no big deal’.

The NKT/ISC wrongly attribute these times of unrest and trouble in India before the voting to the Dalai Lama but the Dalai Lama only put his finger into this bursting abscess – and some critics from other schools said he did it too late(!). Moreover, the Dalai Lama suggested a democratic majority vote according to the Vinaya (Buddha’s rules for monastics), therefore it is plain wrong to make the Dalai Lama the culprit of one’s own confusion; a thorough confusion based on not knowing the Vinaya, having very poor knowledge about complex Tibetan Buddhism, not knowing the history of Shugden, not knowing Tibetan society & relations, and not knowing the events in India very well. (What drives the few Tibetans who join the protests I cannot say; but for me it is hard to have sympathy with so much confusion and aggression as the protesters demonstrate. There is some evidence that Tibetans and Chinese protesters have strong relations to China, pictures who show them with Chinese officials.)

So what I want to say and share, the NKT/ISC cosmos wants to make the world believe that reasonable separation = segregation = discrimination. You can read here how hysterically they ride on this misconception: “6 awkward truths for those who deny the Dalai Lama’s discrimination against Shugdens“.

Some minutes ago I was made aware by CarolMcQuire about an eye witness account of the separation of the monks in Sera Mey (South India), that she posted on Facebook. I quote it here. The eye witness account does not only share my thoughts and reasons it gives you further information about the separation which you can rarely read online because most of the Tibetans in those monasteries don’t communicate this with Westerners. (Thanks to both, the monk from Sera and Carol. Big hug!)

I see this whole issue like a divorce situation with a twist …

You are in couple. After thorough thoughts and reflections, you come to the conclusion that something is wrong in the relationship, something you can’t accept. It goes against your core values. You can try to explain, convince, tolerate even but you come to the point when this is not acceptable any more. You must separate. Then comes the divorce.

You divide your common properties, some couples doing better than others and each goes his own way, to start anew. You don’t have any contacts any more and that is fine. You may meet in the street, say hello and that’s about it. Yes, in the past, you shared a bed, food, prayers, a house but it’s all over now. This divorce was not forced upon us, we chose to do that. We could of stayed but preferred not to. Irreconcilable differences …

In Sera Mey, the Pomra monks who did not follow Shugden left everything, taking nothing. We left them the houses, the furnitures, the sponsors, pretty much all there was, just like it may happen in a couple. We started a new Khamtsen, Phobor, from scratch. The other party kept on going with what they had and are flourishing as a separate monastery, Serpom. That’s fine, they can do that. We no longer have to care or take notice, we are not in a couple any more, right? You wanted to do this practice, fine, but not in my house, not for a long as we were are together. Didn’t work out so we went away, left everything and got a divorce… It takes time for things to settle down, both sides have it rough but eventually, you work it out. Simple, no? This is the situation in the great Gelug monasteries in India and Nepal.

But, sometimes, your ex-spouses’ siblings will get upset about the divorce (in this case, the NKT). They are not married to you in the first place, they claim to be new Kadam, not Gelug so “outsides of the marriage”, so to say and they do not accept the authority of the Dalai Lama. Why should they be involved? They may be upset as their relatives (non NKT Shudgens) are having a hard time. After all, they are going through a divorce (well, so are we but it doesn’t matter…). Because of attachment to their relatives stance, they take sides. They want the best for the family so they are ready to do anything. Slander, start rumours, blackmail, you name it. It reflects badly on the other party so why not. And it leads up to the current situation. Add other elements like former grudges and so forth and you got a pretty bad mix.

In India, we live on the same refugee settlement as the Shugden camp, the bulk of them live literally across the street from the main Sera Mey temple. And it is peaceful. They don’t protest, judge or anything. Their has been no fights, battles, insults. Sure, it was very tense they in first few months after the split given the history of brutal act of some Shugdenpa’s from Delhi, threats from the police to close the monastery like what has happened with the Karmapa temple in Sikkim, riot gear, baton armed police refusing us permission the access the Sera Lachi (combined Sera Jey/Mey prayer hall) to conduct the Sojong ceremony unless we allowed the Shugden group also. We NEEDED to be segregate to keep the peace. Tibetan are not always peaceful, they are humans too and religious sentiments run very high, specially against the Dalai Lama. Tension was there at the time but 6 years later, the dust has settled, just like in a divorce. We went our way, they went theirs.

I just don’t understand what is happening in the West. What is the NKT trying to achieve? According to them, they should stick to their practice taught by Kalsang Gyatso and not meddle with other traditions, no? So why try to involve the great monasteries in South India in this issue? The divorce is finalized, both parties moved on, get over it! Keep on doing what you are doing and kindly leave us alone… I was not married to you in the first place…! :o)

* My OSX Mac English Thesaurus states about segregation:

they recommend the full segregation of vehicles and pedestrians in the town centre:
separation, setting apart, keeping apart, sorting out; isolation, quarantine, insulation, exclusion, closeting, protection, shielding, partitioning; division, detachment, disconnection, dissociation; sequestration, partition; in S. Africa, historical apartheid. ANTONYMS integration.

See also former posts about the situation in the Gelug monasteries in India