Dialogue with Dalai Lama protesters: What is the Dalai Lama lying about?

“Dalai Lama stop lying” – Which lie did he tell?

Many people wonder, why the Anti-Dalai Lama protesters (NKT via SSC, WSS, ISC) accuse His Holiness the Dalai Lama of lying or even of being a “very professional liar”. In fact, the Anti-Dalai Lama protesters are confused about this themselves. During the first wave of protest campaigns, from 1996–98, they accused the Dalai Lama to have lied about the following things, among others:

Berlin, Tempodrom, 8th June 1998. From 1996–1998 the New Kadampa Tradition organised world wide protests via Shugden Supporters Community (SSC). The big yellow banner reads: ‘Dalai Lama, please grant us religious freedom.’ From left to right the signs read (signs with the same slogan are listed only once): ‘Please stop ignoring human and religious freedom’, ‘Dorje Shugden is a Buddha of compassion, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is no wicked Chinese spirit, please don’t lie’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop to spreading lies’, ‘Dorje Shugden worship is no cult, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is not sectarian, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves all Buddhist traditions, stop spreading lies’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop spreading lies’, ‘These bodyguards helped the Dalai Lama on his escape from Chinese troops based on the Dalai Lama’s illegally ban they are now persecuted’.
Berlin, Tempodrom, 8th June 1998. From 1996–1998 the New Kadampa Tradition organised world wide protests via Shugden Supporters Community (SSC). The big yellow banner reads: ‘Dalai Lama, please grant us religious freedom.’
From left to right the signs read (signs with the same slogan are listed only once): ‘Please stop ignoring human and religious freedom’, ‘Dorje Shugden is a Buddha of compassion, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is no wicked Chinese spirit, please don’t lie’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop to spreading lies’, ‘Dorje Shugden worship is no cult, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden is not sectarian, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas, please don’t lie’, ‘Dorje Shugden loves all Buddhist traditions, stop spreading lies’, ‘You know that Dorje Shugden doesn’t harm anybody, Dalai Lama please stop spreading lies’, ‘These bodyguards helped the Dalai Lama on his escape from Chinese troops based on the Dalai Lama’s illegally ban they are now persecuted’.

So, in the view of the protesters, the Dalai Lama lied because he holds different views than the protesters such as: that he does not see Shugden as a Buddha of Compassion – this is a lie, that Nyingmas have a problem with Shugden – this is a lie. [the former is an opinion or belief, the latter a fact]

Also, on the banner above words and claims are put into the mouth of the Dalai Lama that he never said – but this is a very common method used by the protesters, to mix untruths with semi-truths and some truths.

I was part of that campaign from 1996-98. Back then, the main reason why the Dalai Lama was considered a liar was because he stated that Shugden is a spirit and not a Buddha. This is why the German Buddhist Monastic Association (DBO) made clear in their statement:

Assertion: “The Dalai Lama is lying.” – Correction: To have a different perspective on Shugden than its devotees is not a lie, but the exercise of the right to have one’s own opinion.

The protesters cannot tolerate another person’s opinion. If the opinion differs from theirs, then they regard the other party as a liar. This is a confusion much ingrained into the whole campaign and their way of thinking.

Also media are accused of lying if they don’t agree with the protesters’ point of view.
Also media are liars if they don’t agree with the protesters’ point of view.

From 2008 onwards, the anti-Dalai Lama protesters repeated via WSS this initial “reason” for why the Dalai Lama is allegedly lying and blew it up. They now spoke of a “Big Lie”, a term that means in a monastic environment that a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun has lost his or her root vows (Parajika) and is no longer a monk or nun because of having lied about “supramundane attainments” such as realisation of a concentration (jhana) or emptiness etc.

Here is the PDF of the WSS website where the Dalai Lama protesters state:

The Big Lie

The Dalai Lama says Dorje Shugden is a harmful spirit.

For centuries, every great Master in the Buddhist Tradition passed down from Je Tsongkhapa, including the Dalai Lama’s root Guru Trijang Rinpoche, has revered Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being who helps sincere practitioners progress on the spiritual path by developing pure minds of love, compassion, and wisdom.

The Dalai Lama himself was trained in this tradition, and for 40 years relied upon Dorje Shugden, even composing a prayer of his own praising Dorje Shugden and requesting his help.

Then, suddenly in 1975 he abandoned the practice because he had ‘discovered’ Dorje Shugden was a harmful spirit!
Incredibly, we are being asked to believe that the Dalai Lama accidentally worshipped a harmful spirit for 40 years without noticing!

The protesters obviously cannot understand that human beings and spiritual masters can err and that they are able also to see their errors and to correct them. This seeing and correcting of one’s own errors is the very root of spiritual practice and any spiritual path and achievement. Even the Arhats of the Buddha made mistakes and erred, and even Je Tsongkhapa and Atisha (whose lineages they claim to uphold) saw their errors and corrected them.


 
From 2011 onwards the anti-Dalai Lama protesters invented new ideas for why the Dalai Lama allegedly lied. They claimed he lied because he said there is no (general) ban (which is factually correct), or because he lied about what his junior tutor (junior in rank) Trijang Rinpoche said to him. However, if you truly investigate these things and if you get to know and to see the context, it becomes clear: none of those things can be correctly considered a lie.

During the SOAS panel discussion in 2014, Rabten / Pitts – quite likely feeling the weakness of the previous “reason” why the Dalai Lama allegedly lied – offered a new “reason”:

He begins by quoting a statement from the Kashag in 1996 regarding the Dalai Lama’s restriction on Dolgyal (Shugden):

… the essence of His Holiness’s advice [to stop worship of Shugden] is that this propitiating Dolgyal does great harm to the cause of Tibet. It also imperils the life of the Dalai Lama.

Then Rabten / Pitts comments:

Now, in this statement, the cause for Tibet refers to restoring the freedom of their country. So this statement by the Dalai Lama is at the root of the discrimination that  Shugden Buddhists have endured for the last thirty years. So I question whether any reasonable person could really believe that the reason the Chinese invaded Tibet is because some people were praying to Dorje Shugden. I question whether any reasonable person could really believe that the reason the Chinese continue to occupy Tibet is because of some people praying to Dorje Shugden. And I don’t think any reasonable person really believes the Dalai Lama’s life is in danger if people continue to follow their teacher’s advice by praying to Dorje Shugden.

So I would say none of these statements are true and when we say, “Stop lying,” these are the statements we’re referring to.

It’s not clear if Rabten is really so uninformed, incapable of putting himself into the shoes of others or just a grand manipulateur. The Dalai Lama’s statement is based on the sectarianism, disharmony and schism conjoined with Shugden worship or what he feels is at Shugden worship’s “root”. Sectarianism, schism and disharmony do “great harm to the cause of Tibet”.

It would be totally hypocritical to ask the Dalai Lama – who practices teachings from different Buddhist schools – to be the protector and guide of Tibetans and then propitiating Shugden who is praised by its propagators to kill, and shorten the life span of persons who are open and ecumenical as the Dalai Lama is, that’s why the Dalai Lama states “It also imperils the life of the Dalai Lama.” Martin Mills made clear that this is far from being heterodox:

Many Western observers of this issue find this last element of the Dalai Lama’s declaration surprising, but it is far from heterodox or arbitrary in terms of Tibetan Buddhist understandings of the place of lamas, or spiritual guides. The general Mahayana Buddhist view of higher teachers such as the Dalai Lama is that, as manifestations of Buddhahood, they appear only as a consequence of people’s good karma, and do so only to teach and guide other beings to liberation from samsara. As such, if people fail to take the advice of the spiritual guide, he simply withdraws his earthly presence. The present Dalai Lama had previously indicated that the matter of Shugden was decisive in this regard during the mid-1970s, when resistance to his reforms within the heart of the Tibetan Government-in-exile caused him to refuse their annual long-life offering, and to hint that there would not be a fifteenth Dalai Lama.

Rabten puts his own ideas and confusion into the mouth of His Holiness and criticises the Dalai Lama for his own projections instead of freeing himself from his confusion and projections.  – This is another deeply ingrained pattern of the protesters: they project their own confusion, hate, cultish group structure and sectarianism etc. onto the Dalai Lama, not seeing that what they attach to him are their own faults.

Dialogue

On 7th July 2015, representatives of the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (OHHDL) invited the International Shugden Community (ISC) to meet and explain what they are accusing His Holiness of lying about. Nicholas Pitts / Kelsang Rabten and two other ISC representatives accepted the meeting and an discussion unfolded. See here what the official website of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has to say about this:

See also

Updated on July 13, 2015 3:13