Concerning The Protests At The Teachings Of H.H. The Dalai Lama: A Resolution Proposal I


@ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Len Foley, Neil Elliott, and Nicholas Pitts (Kelsang Rabten)

I am a member of a small, unofficial, though well connected group of activists who have at heart the best interests of all parties concerned in the Shugden issue. I would like to offer my hand to you in a spirit of reconciliation and ask you to consider the following.

Since 1996 you have been protesting at various events wherever and whenever the Dalai Lama has appeared. You state the reason for your protests is that the followers of Shugden are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.

As principal evidence of this discrimination you circulate press packs which provide photographs of signs requesting Shugden devotees not to enter certain premises. These premises are of three types: religious institutions such as temples and monasteries; medical facilities; and shops owned by private individuals.

With regard to the first of these, you should be aware that it is a right enshrined in law, both in India and elsewhere in the civilized world, for the patrons and proprietors of religious institutions such as temples to ask those who hold differing religious views from their own not to enter certain buildings or areas. In India, non- Hindus are frequently instructed not to enter Hindu temples; thus exercising a right of admission refusal enshrined in Indian law. Elsewhere, in Saudi Arabia non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mekkah. In the West too, similar prohibitions exist: Gentiles are asked not to enter certain areas of synagogues, non-Catholics are prohibited from teaching in Catholic schools without the permission of the Church in some European countries, and so on. Even in the temples of the New Kadampa Tradition, those who have chosen not to receive certain tantric initiations such as Vajrayogini cannot enter premises where Vajrayogini teachings are taking place.

In short, ‘discrimination’ on religious grounds is quite normal practice in many of the religious traditions across the world and followers of these religions accept this, without claiming that they are being deprived of their human right to religious freedom or that they are the victims of discrimination. Please explain why followers of Shugden should be treated any differently in this regard and why normal accepted protocols should not be observed in their case.

However, you should be aware that if it is the case you consider yourselves discriminated against by the signs in religious institutions, there is very little that can be done about these, since such prohibitions are entirely legal, accepted practice internationally, with regard to the followers of many faiths. If you remain concerned over these signs, please lobby the Government of India, since it is they aho sre responsible for legilating in this regard.

Secondly, with regard to the documentary evidence provided from medical facilities, these images are over 15 years old and apparently no longer current. Please provide current evidence of  discrimination in a medical context so that, if it should prove to exist, those responsible can be informed of the disagreeable nature of their conduct and the problems their actions are causing and asked to remove all signs and restrictions, with a view to restoring harmony between our communities.

If you can provide current evidence of discrimination with regard to medical care, you are welcome to do so since it will give us an opportunity to rectify this discrimination immediately. If on the other hand you cannot provide current evidence, it would be entirely appropriate for you to cease protesting in this regard, since the offending circumstances have clearly ceased to exist.

Thirdly, with regard to the signs in shops in the exiled Tibetan community, these have been placed there as the result of individuals’ personal decisions, after considering the advice of HH the Dalai Lama. As such, His Holiness cannot instruct them to now remove them since this would imply that His Holiness had instructed them to be placed there in the first place and indeed that he was wielding political control over these individuals, neither of which is the case.

Nevertheless, I can confirm that many of  the individuals concerned have already realised their actions are providing ammunition for the critics of His Holiness and have therefore chosen to remove the offending signs. I can now confirm, categorically, that there are no more signs in Dharamsala or Mundgod. If you dispute this, please provide appropriate, dated photographic evidence. The situation in the settlement at Bylakuppe is not yet as clear but I do know efforts are underway to advise those who post such signs that, though they may well be acting in good faith, their actions are causing great harm at many levels and that it would be best therefore to remove them.

In summary, every effort is being made to ensure that, where actionable, any instances of discrimination against Shugden worshippers you claim are brought to an end.

In response, if it can be shown that the remaining shop signs in Bylakuppe and anywhere else they may have arisen have been removed, will you cease your demonstrations? If you are unwilling to do this, please state your reasons so they can be addressed at the earliest opportunity and this unfortunate situation can be resolved.

Please send your response to this website as soon as possible for public scrutiny and so any problems can be addressed.

Thank you.

updated December 18, 2014, at 01:24 pm

line-gothicSee also

Helpful background interviews

Update Dec. 18, 2014


  1. jigmeyeshe says:

    Very good letter! I look forward to hearing any reply.

  2. joanneclark7 says:

    Thanks to the author of this– for bringing the issue out clearly in ways that can be addressed. They have never placed their demands in such practical terms, never in terms of actual resolve. It’s always about the hoops they want His Holiness to jump through.

  3. This reply was just received from Atisha’s Cook on New Kadampa Survivor Activists

    Atisha’s Cook:

    ISC is very unlikely to answer you, in my opinion. we’re not interested in discussing with you; with all due respect, you are not the object of our demonstrations, nor do you have the power to lift the ban. our demonstrations are solely directed at the False Dalai Lama: he’s the sole source of the problem, and he’s the only person who can change it. if HE offers dialogue, we’ll respond. otherwise there is no point.
    Like · Reply · Just now · Edited

    • He is not their representative but still he knows how they will reply – so much he has absorbed the NKT view. The Dalai Lama is not false. What is false is to see the Dalai Lama as “the sole source of the problem” – a wrong view that doesn’t understand dependent arising and history, and it is also false to claim a “ban” that can be “lifted by the Dalai Lama”. With these narrowed and twisted views there is not much of a basis for a dialogue. About what they want a dialogue? The Dalai Lama has the right to ask those taking tantric initiations from him not to attend his teachings, and the monasteries have the right to vote based on majority decision to separate from Shugden monks – such a majority decision cannot be changed by the Dalai Lama but only by a majority. “If he offers dialogue” – about what?

      I hope the ISC / NKT leadership is a bit wiser.

      • Atisha’s Cook
        Please forward the content of the post to the relevant parties (Elliott, Foley, Pitts) rather than respond in their absence.
        To refuse to enter into dialogue unless it is directly with HH is as senseless as this side refusing to accept any offer of dialogue unless it is with Kelsang Gyatso himself. Since I can assure your leaders the extent of my influence is equivalent to theirs in our respective circles, please have the good sense and maturity to accept this genuine offer of conflict resolution.
        Otherwise, since this offer is genuine and offers clear and practical solutions to this unfortunate, ongoing issue, both those directly affected by the issue (on both sides) as well as the general public will be led to conclude that your campaign is not for the purposes of rectifying a human rights issue but rather one aimed simply at the vilification of your opponents, an intent your own response seems to indicate.
        I repeat, this is a genuine offer to help resolve this conflict from a member of a group of activists with considerable influence with the relevant parties. Please forward it to Neil, Len and Nicholas so that they can respond. Not to do so would be to needlessly and cynically perpetuate the situation that you claim your demonstration are aimed at resolving.


    • Atisha’s COOK:

      IF as you say HHDL is a ‘false Dalai Lama’ Why would any dialogue from a false Dalai Lama give any credence to your organizations crusade?

      • jigmeyeshe says:

        This is why they probably ‘can’t’ or ‘won’t’ dialogue with His Holiness or representatives from His Holiness to find a ‘middle way’ as to do so would mean they have to somehow imply that His Holiness is more or less relevant and functional.

        The issue of the ban that is not a ban stays and the fact that HHDL does not love Shugden – and that will never change.. so…

        Are they just trying to force His Holiness to respect Shugden? Simple as that? By trying to discredit HHDL and trying to upset the Tibetan people to pressurise His Holiness? Using any minimal evidence that could be twisted to show wrongdoing?

        Perhaps we could keep it that simple. End of. A campaign that will never have an effect as HHDL does not prevent anyone from practising Shugden. And only advises those who want to take samaya with him not to.

        Therefore no possible ‘good result’ can happen for the NKT. They will continue until they get bored of their paranoia or realise its function to make a ‘cohesive’ group united against the enemy or realise how big the backlash against them is becoming and retreat.

        But showing that the NKT refuse to acknowledge a ‘Middle Way’ is helpful. I wish we could all just go home and practice. But, this is good practice – keeping a balance in the mind in the middle of all this must be good practice for Chistmas! Best to all.

  4. sonam zoksang says:

    When I first saw the NKT followers protesting against His Holiness the Dalai Lama some 18 yrs ago, I couldn’t hold myself with anger. Today, when I see these protestors, I feel sad and sorry for them. They sought a spiritual path and sadly got trapped in the poisonous web.
    They don’t understand that attacking His Holiness the Dalai Lama is same as attacking the heart and soul of Tibetan people and their struggle to gain their freedom.

    • sonam zoksang,
      well put, agree 100%

    • jigmeyeshe says:


      The ‘senior’ NKT people do understand. That is why they are doing it. To annoy.

      It is the ‘less senior’ ones who in their ignorance of Tibetan culture, of Dharma that isn’t ‘sold at a cost’, of focus and meaning in their lives outside of the NKT, who have been drawn into the ‘radical’ campaign. They feel they are ‘changing the world’. And perhaps they are – so many of us, Tibetans and non Tibetans are now communicating when before we could not.

      The NKT has brought us together – that is very wonderful!

      • They feel they are ‘changing the world’.

        Actual, I think they are carried away by a power trip.
        However, the short sighted actions, indeed, bring some changes, but maybe not in the way the protesters expected …

  5. I think His Holiness isn’t really bothered by these things. He’s just appeared in an interview on the BBC News website saying that he might be the last Dalai Lama and that it’s a ‘man made title’ anyway, so he understands conventional truth, unfortunately all the followers (on both sides of this fruitless circular argument), seem to think otherwise.
    I’m with HHDL….it’s all just a human construct!

    • The NKT/ISC protesters think that the Dalai Lama is bothered by the protests, but he is not, as he said in an interview that I read recently (couldn’t find it at a quick search).

      Who are worried are mainly Western Tibetan Buddhists because of the great damage these protests do – they believe – to Tibetan Buddhism in the West.

      On the other hand, I think the protests are also very helpful because of fulfilling Geshe Kelsang’s own wishes: “I hope people gradually understand our true nature and function.” The protests make the people more aware of the New Kadamapa Tradition and more and more ex NKT go public with their stories and testimonies under their real names.

    • All just a construct yes and no, it doesn’t matter to the Buddha
      But it matters to the NKT, to Western Buddhists and to those tibetans who are allegedly victims of discrimination. Let’s not use our philosophy to negate relative reality and the needs of deluded beings
      I can’t wait for Foley and Pitts to reply. This is the first real chance of resolution we’ve had in nearly twenty years. For them to ignore it would prove they were just Chinese hate puppets COME ON NKT ISC, lay your cards on the table!

  6. There seems to be some confusion here over the signage within the exiled community in India with regards to Shugden. The ‘Global Tibetan Volunteers for the Truth’ (GTVT which have a definite connection to the CTA) are now placing NEW signs around town — I’ve seen the image. The new sign from the GTVT reads: ‘Give up alcohol your health will be better – Give up Shugden you will be happier / feel better’ — So much for the signs coming down!

    • Interesting. Thank you.

      From a spiritual point of view I would agree that “Give up Shugden you will be happier / feel better”. Yes. It is also better than to discriminate Shugden followers by not allowing to enter shops etc. However, then they should also put signs every where: “Give up the ten unwholesome deeds and a distracted mind you will be happier / feel better” … On the other hand, also in Germany they put warning signs on cigarettes that they can cause premature death but not on alcohol. It is also a matter of choice what a society sees as more or less dangerous …

      I will be soon in India and I will have a check and make some photos.

    • jigmeyeshe says:

      Answer from Rabten:

      /* deleted based on the wish of JY */

      • jigmeyeshe says:

        Please can you delete Rabten’s reply – we are to communicate with the email of the ISC.

      • /* deleted based on JY’s wishes */

        If there is no discrimination there is no need to address it. If there is discrimination it should be addressed but the Dalai Lama is then the wrong person because the Sikyong is the elected head of the exile community and not the Dalai Lama who put down all political activities and even ceased the political Dalai Lama institution:

        I’m content that the Ganden Phodrang Government set up by the 5th Dalai Lama nearly 400 years ago, came to an end under the 14th Dalai Lama, while the people still had confidence in it. – The 14th Dalai Lama

        Rabten and AC are still the victim of their delusion that the sole source of the Shugden problem is the Dalai Lama but this is not the case. The Dalai Lama only addressed the problems going along with Shugden worship and strongly discouraged it. He made Tibetans aware of the problem. This is his very right and duty. This right cannot be changed by a dialogue.

        If they want a change with the signs on the shops the Dalai Lama is the wrong address, because he neither put them there nor did he approve or encourage those. The Sikyong would be the right person or to meet with the Tibetan parliament (Kashag) or to use the legal system in India under which Tibetans abide. The discriminatory shop signs – which are also against the Indian constitution – can be changed by a dialogue – but this must be done with those in political power, the Sikyong, Kashag or the Office of Religious Affairs etc. – btw, I would fully support this and a known scholar and I also sent a letter to the Sikyong urging him to take actions.

        If the protesters are unhappy with the decision of the monasteries that they banned Shugden at their places based on the Vinaya and majority vote, then the Dalai Lama is also not the right person but the assemblies of those monasteries. On the other hand, since Rabten seems to be a monk still, he should understand that majority decisions in the monastic Sangha have to be accepted and to go against majority decisions violates his own vows more over to go against it and to make lay people to loose faith violates another monks vow. So being unhappy with monastic majority decisions that follow the Vinaya procedures of settling conflicts doesn’t justify to call for the Dalai Lama. And even if you do, he cannot change like a dictator the decision of the monastic majority, he has to accept it. If even the Dalai Lama has to accept majority decisions of the monastic Sangha why does Rabten have problems with it? For his counseling to learn to accept monastic majority decisions, he indeed could ask the Dalai Lama for help but he sees him as false so then there is no basis to have a dialogue in this regard.

        If Rabten wants to change the mind of the Dalai Lama, that he exercises his rights as a religious teacher to ban Shugden people to come to his tantric initiations, this doesn’t justify either to have a dialogue, because it is just the Dalai Lama’s right [if we speak of rights, they apply to both sides] as it is Rabten’s right not to follow the Dalai Lama or should wee seek dialogue with Rabten so that he becomes a follower of the Dalai Lama and stops to ban him from his heart? What about seeking dialogue with NKT for banning the Dalai Lama from their centres and for banning people from their centres who praise and follow the Dalai Lama, who see him as their teacher or if NKT teachers start to recommend a book from the Dalai Lama or even teach from it? – not to speak about recommending and teaching from Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo ha ha ha ;-)

        So the only thing which is reasonable to address is really existing discrimination for which there is clear evidence (see also R. Barnett Interview)– for instance discrimination through signs on shops that forbid entry for Shugden followers which Tibetans put there on their own will and without being encouraged by the CTA/Dalai Lama – but again, the right address for this is the Sikyong, the Kashag, the CTA and if nothing helps the Indian court. Such a trial has my full support. (If it is done in a respectful, truthful and non-aggressive way.)


        There is however a contradiction in “seeking dialogue while not seeking dialogue” that we have investigated already here:
        The protesters never asked for a dialogue
        Kelsang Rabten Calls for Dialogue at the SOAS Conference: Is Dialogue Possible?

        I fear that the whole thing will become self-circling because Rabten and the NKT leadership + NKT followers are caught in self-circling mental patterns that are based on a closed, totally self-referential system that itself is based on thorough misinformation. The result is an inability to put themselves into the shoes of others and to see events and processes from different angles – which would be the very basis for any dialogue.

        But lets see …

    • no one can account for groups of renegades posting printed grafitti and to expect that level of policing is a demand for a totalitarian state!


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