Statements by Lama Tseta Rinpoche, a former head of the Shugden Association of South India

You might have noted that a so far rather unknown Lama, Lama Tseta Rinpoche, issued in June 2015 a statement with respect to his involvement as an official within the Indian Shugden community from 1997 until 2005.

For a transcript see here.

In a new interview with Voice of America (VOA), “The Personal Transformation of a Dorje Shugden Group Leader“, published on 01.12.2015, Lama Tseta revealed the presence of close connections between Tibetan Shugden community leaders and the Chinese Communist government during that time. According to Lama Tseta, these connections  involved direct financing and diplomatic support of Shugden community activities by the Chinese. Lama Tseta also claimed that there was direct involvement of Shugden community leaders in the triple murder of the IBD director and his attendants in Dharamsala in 1997. He claimed that the intention of these leaders, along with their Chinese counterparts, is to cause harm to the person of HH Dalai Lama and the cause of Tibet.

Is Lama Tseta a true whistle blower? Shugden community leaders have refuted his claims. However, Lama Tseta states that they are lying and that he has proof. Hopefully he will show that proof so that the full truth of his claims can be established.

Here is the transcript of the VOA interview:

The Personal Transformation of a Dorje Shugden Group Leader
An Interview with Lama Tseta Rinpoche — VOA November 2015

Note: In the interest of comprehension the English translation has deleted some minor repetitions and used a single term when more than one is used to describe the same thing.

First of all, welcome and thank you for coming to VOA to do this interview. Thank you.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself, your education, and which monastery you entered?

Let me start by offering greetings to my Tibetan brethren inside and outside Tibet who are watching, and thank you for having me on the program.

My birth place is Lithang, and when I was around age 16, I fled to India. My mother had passed away, and I no longer wanted to stay at home. My mother’s family name was Dheshung Pontsang, they are from a nomadic community in Lithang county. My maternal grandfather’s name was Mala Andrug, from the family of Andrug Gompo Tashi. Andrug Choeki la and he had the same father.

So as I said, I escaped to India when I was 16. It was in the summer and we took the route via Mount Kalaish and entered Nepal. Once in Nepal, since my family is Dheshung Pontsang, which followed the Sakya tradition of Buddhism, I got admission to the Sakya Dharma Center.

And then after staying there for about a year or two, I went to Sera monastery in south India where I was admitted to Sera Mey college, and Pomra Khamtsen House because of affiliations with my birth place.

From your history, you’ve had a long connection with the Shugden group. Was that because most monks in Pomra Khamtsen House propitiated Shugden? How did the relationship begin?

I was not a propitiator or follower of Shugden. I wasn’t aware of Shugden when I was in Tibet, and in exile, I had never heard of it at Sakya center. However at Sera monastery, about 90% of the monks in my House at Sera Mey college, were propitiators of Shugden.  At the time, not thinking that I could study the Buddhist canons, I became an assistant in the kitchen of Sera Mey college where I worked for three years.  But then the former abbot, Gyalrong Khensur Rinpoche, decided that I needed to be in some study program, and so I was enrolled in the Prajnaparamita studies class. So after carrying out Tongo, an offering to the monks as part of a traditional admissions ceremony, I became enrolled in that class.

And later, as part of the tradition at my House to have their four administrative staff approved through divinity done by the Panglung Shugden medium at the Tsongkhapa Center in Taiwan, I was selected to be one of the staff members at Pomra Khamtsen in 1997.

And in 1999. again through the process of approval by Panglung Shugden medium in Taiwan, I was selected to be the President of the Shugden society. That was how I became involved with the Shugden group.

Were you president of a group within Pomra Khamtsen House, or was it for all of south India?

It was for the whole community, both monks and lay people at Bylakuppe settlement who are originally from areas in Kham included under Pomra. So the presidency was over all of that community.

Recently Kunchok Gyaltsen who I believe is associated with the New Delhi Shugden group called ‘Defenders of Gods and Men,’ has said that you did not work for any Shugden group.

How do you respond to that?

Well he is simply lying. Not only did I become President of our Shugden group, the New Delhi Shugden group held a ceremony, and people like Chatring Yeshi and Kunchok Gyaltsen, all made the ritual Mandala offering to me.  What’s important to know is that since I’ve been associated with Shugden work since 1997 and know many of their secrets, he is trying to make me less credible. That’s why he is saying such things. I am a witness and I am the person who knows him thoroughly.

So, what was your main work, so to speak, during that period?

Gangchen Lama with vice chairman of China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC), Zhu Weiqun
Gangchen Lama (right) with vice chairman of China’s Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture (CAPDTC), Zhu Weiqun.

So there really wasn’t any work on Shugden or Shugden practice itself. However after they started the Delhi Shugden group, they made contact with China for the first time in 1997. And as I stated recently, Kunchok Gyaltsen, Gyen Samser and myself, as representatives of the Shugden organization went to meet Chinese intelligence officials in Nepal.  The meetings included quite high officials, were organized by Gangchen Rinpoche. And in Nepal we met Chinese officials who had come from Lhasa such as Li Shan and Pei Nan. The communication documents that we presented to the Chinese government  were personally handwritten and signed by Kunchok Gyaltsen.

The Chinese said that since we were already in touch with the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front work Department, you see the intelligence people had already found that out in advance, that the Delhi Shugden group  could continue to deal directly with the United Front, but that matters relating to intelligence and covert work must be dealt with through the intelligence office. So all contact and associations with China were in place by 1997.

Kunchok Gyaltsen, working through Gangchen Lama, had sold all Shugden followers to China. They informed the Chinese that there were 20,000 Shugden followers in exile who would like to return to China, to which the Chinese responded by saying that, “you people are of greater benefit to China by staying outside the country,”, and that they would help with any problems or aid that the Shugden followers might need. The Chinese also offered to consider ways of making the conditions for Shugden followers inside Tibet better. That was the response of the United Front Work.

Which United Front work department officials did you meet at that time?

There were not any United Front Work officials on that occasion. I was just giving you a general response. The officials that we and Kunchok Gyaltsen met at that occasion were Lisun and Penang from the Lhasa intelligence bureau. They had already done their investigations and had concluded that all intelligence related matters should be dealt with them, and that the Delhi Shugden group, the headquarters, would deal with and be directed by the Chinese government’s United Front Work department, such as the direction for the 20,000 exile Shugden followers to not return to China.

Adar Tsering (left) with Chinese officials.

Kunchok Gyaltsen had already travelled to China several times. He had passports from China, Nepal, and India….all of them. Within the Shugden group the most powerful person was Gangchen Lama, and next was him. So in India, Nepal, and elsewhere, all of the political work that increased danger to the life of the Dalai Lama, and that contributed to the destruction of Tibetan unity, all of this was largely carried out by him, or under his direction. For instance, people like Napo Gyatso, Adar Tsering, all of them worked under him. These people had already bowed down to the Chinese and had been contracted to operate under the direction of the Chinese from 1997 to this day Kunchok Gyaltsen has stated that the Delhi Shugden group had no relations with China, and that they not received funds from China.

According to your knowledge, is that true or not?

That is absolutely not true. He is telling an outright lie. He has stated that Indian intelligence concluded that he didn’t have money when they told him, “You’re so poor you only have a bicycle parked outside your door.” How can an Indian intelligence officer say something like that? That’s not how their work is done.

Adar Tsering (middle) with NKT ISC protesters.
Adar Tsering (middle) with NKT ISC protesters.

Afterwards, on their web TV program called Public Talk, Adar Tsering and Dechen Lama declared that they had wealth and riches, and even used the expression, “The son has greater wealth and power than the mother.”

It was only  after I spoke out and accused them of spying for the Chinese, and working with the Chinese to destroy the Tibetan people, that he  started to say that they didn’t have money, didn’t have anything but a bicycle at the front door. But prior to that, they were saying, ”the son was wealthier than the mother.”

So Kunchok Gyaltsen worked with the Chinese communists, he was their running dog, and he was used by the United Front work to sell our country and people. I am confident that I can prove that wherever I have to, and with whomever I have to speak to.

He is a running dog of the Chinese communists. He is responsible for the killing of the philosophy teacher, he hired the killers. He works to create danger to the Dalai Lama’s life, and he is the main person who takes orders from China’s United Front Work, from Zhu Weiqun and Sither.

You’ve said that you travelled to Tibet and China many times for Shugden group work. Did you travel alone, were other people with you, who did you meet during these trips, and what was the purpose for these trips?

That’s a very crucial question. Now between 2000 and 2005, there was a secret organization belonging to the Shugden in Nepal called Tashi Dekyi Gyantsen Ling. And all the important people from that group had to go to China, and I was among them. For instance Pabongka Rinpoche  went to China, and I went with him. And Changtso Lobsang Yeshi, the highest ranking person at Pomra Khamtsen House went, and I travelled with him also.  He actually returned to Tibet permanently.  Likewise the abbot of Phegyeling, and the Taiwan based Shugden medium, Kunchok Chogyal, we travelled together twice. I was at 70 percent of the meetings between these people and their Chinese bosses. So I know what the Chinese said to them, what they said to the Chinese, and the sort of directives the Chinese gave them.

Dorje Shugden Lamas attend the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) 10th government committee's first conference.
Dorje Shugden Lamas attend the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) 10th government committee’s first conference.

Now on Xu Weiqun of the United Front Work department for instance, what’s most important for us to understand is that even before 1959, when the Chinese had killed over 200,000 Tibetans already, they had acted to destroy the Tibetan nation and people. And afterwards they forced Tibetan workers to beat their employers, and students to beat their teachers …  all of these things were  done by the Chinese back then.

And so today, when there is no freedom in Tibet and Tibetan society is under enormous pressure, the Chinese have seized on the opportunity to use the Shugden issue as the best weapon to sow dissent and disunity in Tibetan society, and they are exploiting these people, these bad elements, to that end. They spend lavishly on these organized trips. They put up these people in five star hotels and then instruct them and provide directives for activities.

For instance, the plans for conducting protests  against His Holiness the Dalai Lama were laid in 2005 already. The protests that started in 2008 and their filing of the lawsuit, all of these were planned and prepared well in advance.

The preparations …

By preparations I mean that these had been agreed to with the Central Chinese government already …

So are you saying that these people had discussed these things with Chinese officials and that they then carried out the activities?

Yes that’s right. For instance in the US, people like Adar Tsering, Dechen Lama, Napo Gyatso, these people are just doing proxy work for the Chinese. They have no real affinity for Shugden, Tsongkhapa,  or Buddha Dharma at all. They are only interested in the money and doing China’s bidding to destroy Tibetan society. That’s what they are doing.

Shugden is a only a pretext for them, in reality they have fallen under the Chinese influence and are working to destroy Tibetan unity, and to defame and endanger the safety of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

HH Gaden Trisur Lungrik Namgyal Rinpoche with Chinese Panchen
HH Gaden Trisur Lungrik Namgyal Rinpoche with Chinese Panchen Lama.

The overall top person is Gangchen Lama, and under him is Kunchok Gyaltsen. Then there’s that fake Geshe named Kelsang Gyatso in England, the fake Kundeling called Nga Lama in India, the one named Tritul in Taiwan, and the Shugden medium Panglung Chogyal –  all of these people share a dislike for His Holiness the Dalai Lama on a personal level and form a group that works with the Chinese. The Chinese communists see this as a great opportunity to exploit and didn’t even need to expend a lot of funding on them. The bulk of the Chinese funding for Shugden operations went through Gangchen Lama, then Kunchok Gyaltsen, and also others like Napo Gyatso and Adar Tsering. The few people you see at protests are there because of their strong fervor and allegiance to Shugden, but they are part of the 20,000 people who were already betrayed and sold to the Chinese in 1997, with Kunchok Gyaltsen and Gangchen Lama receiving the payment for them.

In all of their talks and communications, they deny having received funding from the Chinese government.

Since you’ve said that you travelled with them and were present when funds were distributed, perhaps you yourself received money also. Did that happen?

Yes that happened. The Chinese paid for all our expenses and gave gift money, and I received them along with all the others. I received funds that were allocated to me personally and they paid for all my expenses.

But funds for the organization as a whole, for example like the funds provided since 1997 to the Delhi Shugden group by the Chinese government, and the funds that went to monasteries such as Phegyeling, these went directly to them.  Phegyeling’s funding went to the abbot and funds for Pomra Khamtsen House were given to Kusho Chogyal.  And likewise other groups also had people who received the money for their own organizations. These funds were transferred in different ways; through Hong Kong, through Gangchen Lama, and through Chinese embassies and consulates.

So when I travelled with a group of seven or eight people, all of my expenses would be paid and then I would receive some gift payment for myself as all of us did. The Chinese separated their funding between those to individuals and those for groups and organizations.

So when you travelled with this group to Tibet, and also to China, what sorts of work was the Shugden organization agreeing to do, and what kinds of activities did the Chinese government want them to carry out?

We travelled in many different ways, and with different travel documents. Sometimes in ordinary clothing, sometimes in monk’s robes. Sometimes openly, sometimes in secrecy. We travelled in whatever manner the Chinese had either arranged, or directed us to do so.

For instance when Kunchok Chogyal  and I went at one time, the Panglung medium from Taiwan met us in Nepal, we all switched to Nepalese passports and dressed in lay clothes.

Photo of Shugden followers celebrating Losar 2013 with Chinese Embassy. Friends identified on this photo lama Ajo from Serpom monastery, lama Gyatso who ger recently in Tibet to criticise HH Dalaï Lama there, as well as US Shugden leaders, Phuntsok and Dechen Tulku. Dechen Tulku is the man who appeared recently on very contraversed photo with Jamyang Norbu.
Photo of Shugden followers celebrating Losar 2013 with Chinese Embassy members. Friends identified on this photo lama Ajo from Serpom monastery, lama Gyatso who recently criticised in Tibet HH the Dalai Lama, as well as US Shugden leaders, Phuntsok and Dechen Tulku.

That’s what the Chinese had directed us to do. The most important work for the Chinese is to destroy the standing of the Dalai Lama, who is the head of 6 million Tibetans, and in whom the Tibetans inside Tibet place all their faith and hope. The Chinese fully understand that the Dalai Lama is held with high respect and affection around the world, and that the exile Tibetan government is stable and functioning. So in order to destroy these things, they will attack through defamation and misinformation campaigns.

The Chinese communists used these people that I’ve mentioned and exploited the Shugden issue to  open a lawsuit against the Dalai Lama, and to cause danger to the Dalai Lama’s safety.  Zhu Weiqun  told the Shugden people that if they were to succeed in these, then the “sun will shine on them.”

So the kind of work that people like Kunchok  Gyaltsen and Gangchen Lama have agreed to do around the world as substitutes for the Chinese communists  are activities that increase danger to the Dalai Lama’s life, destroy the Tibetan nation and people, defame and bring down all Tibetans who work for the cause of Tibet, such as the brave heroes who  have carried out self-immolation protests, and the exile Tibetan administration.  The Chinese government is behind all of these things.

In the past Delhi had been the center for the Shugden group but you’ve said that much of the coordinating and meetings you saw took place in Nepal. Was this move to Nepal because of difficulties of operating in India, or because it was more convenient. What prompted the move to Nepal?

There was not a move to Nepal but there was a separate secret Shugden group set up there. The Delhi group was still in place. It was based first in the hotel owned by the Chatring Welfare Association, and later when the Shugden group started receiving funding from China, they bought a house.

However the covert meetings and activities were more easily carried out in Nepal. Since China had gained influence over the Nepalese government, any problems that the Shugden group ran into in Nepal could be handled by the Chinese.

For instance, because of China’s sway over the Nepalese government, even someone as low ranking as myself could meet with the Nepalese king and Prime Minister as often as needed. Anything that we needed was communicated to the Nepalese by the Chinese embassy, and it got done. For instance, they wouldn’t encounter any problems from the Nepalese if they were caught using three or four Nepalese passports because of the Chinese influence.

You’ve said that you often met with high Nepalese, which is usually not that easy, and likewise I’m assuming that others in your group did also. So how do you think you got that level of access so easily?

Well firstly, it’s because of China’s influence in Nepal, and secondly it’s because of the funds that the Shugden group received from the Chinese to use as gifts for Nepalese officials. For instance when the Shugden group was set up there, it was arranged for Nepalese officials to attend and wide media coverage was organized.

So money was used to pave the way for all of these activities, and the money came from the Chinese government.  And if the Shugden group ran into any problems there, the Chinese would exert their influence on the Nepalese and resolve the problems.

So when you all were operating in Nepal, was your group’s relationship with the Chinese Embassy openly known?

It was a well known fact to everyone in Nepal.  For instance for events such as the Tibetan New Year celebrations, it was just back and forth between the embassy and the Shugden center.

It was like one community. It’s like that in Nepal, and it’s like that in America where they hold annual dinners, and Shugden followers are called to attend dinners and talks at the embassy whenever officials and important people visit from Tibet and China. They are used as representatives of the Tibetan people at these functions.

You’ve said that the Chinese gave directions to your group, and that your group gave the Chinese suggested lists of activities you could undertake. So my question is, firstly, what sorts of things were in the written documents you presented to the Chinese, and secondly, did the Chinese give clear and detailed guidance and instructions for your group to follow?

In terms of instructions, activities such as endangering the life of His Holiness the Dalai lama, taking him to court, and organizing protests against him are the sorts of things that a few of the Shugden people were in favor of, and these were also desirable projects for the Chinese. Just as we’re sitting together here, they would discuss these things and decide how to implement the work.

60th Anniversary of the "Peaceful Liberation of Tibet" by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu (2011)
60th Anniversary of the “Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu (2011)

Documents were signed and given to the Chinese a long time back saying that the 20,000 Shugden followers would no longer stay under the exile Tibetan government, that we would obey the Chinese communist party, we agree that Tibet was not independent, and that it is part of the People’s Republic of China.

In reality, the Shugden organization is selling our nation, and people like Kunchok Gyaltsen and Gangchen Lama are the worst enemies amongst Tibetans. They have signed documents saying that they do not want a Tibetan people and a Tibetan nation, and that they do not want independence. The Chinese told them that it was more beneficial for the 20,000 Shugden followers to remain outside China and do proxy work for the Chinese. So the decisions made in 2005 between Zhu Weiqun, Kunchok Gyaltsen and Gangchen Lama to organize protests accusing the Dalai Lama of denying human rights, and to file a lawsuit against His Holiness, all started to take place in 2008.

A Shugden monk during the celebration
60th Anniversary of the “Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu (2011). A Shugden monk during the celebration

But they can’t deceive the world. The Indian Government waived the need for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to appear in court. The international human rights organizations said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had not done of the things he was accused of, and that the Shugden groups were in the wrong.

But the Chinese are very adept at deception. They would instruct the Shugden groups to say one thing today, and another thing tomorrow.

Large amounts of money have been accepted by the Shugden groups, so in a way their actions are to be expected.  Kunchok Gyaltsen himself and Gangchen Lama have made a name for themselves in the Chinese government and gotten large sums of money. But Kunchok Gyaltsen is feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety on the inside. The Indians would be concerned if he didn’t report daily, and so he has to keep paying money everywhere, wherever he goes in India.

He has no mental peace or sense of  freedom because he has done illegal things in India, like organizing the killing of the philosophy teacher , being on the payroll of the Chinese Communists, and he working to create divisions in India. He is acting on behalf of the Chinese communists in planning demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and working for the destruction of Tibet and Tibetan unity around out the world.

Shugden monks prataking the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the "Peaceful Liberation of Tibet"
Shugden monks partaking the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the “Peaceful Liberation of Tibet”

The Shugden group talks of not having freedom.  For example, Napa Gyatso has tried to say that he has no freedom under the exile Tibetan government. But his family have all immigrated here carrying Indian travel papers which require the exile Tibetan Government’s confirmation that they were legitimate Tibetan refugees. He has brought over 15 or 16 relatives, and all of them had gotten documents from the Tibetan Administration. These are people who try to profit from both sides.

You said that you had worked with people like Napa Gyatso and Adhar Tsering. Had you known them before or did you meet them after you started working for the Shugden group. What was the main work that you did with them?

Well I know of them as we are from the same area in Tibet. But our establishing a relationship of trust began in 1997 when I became one of the four officials of a Shugden group, and even more when I became president of the local Shugden society. The two of them already had ties withChina by then. Through Kunchok Gyaltsen, both Napo Gyatso and Adhar Tsering had already submitted to the Chinese in 1997. Napo Gyatso had gone to Tibet and the Indian intelligence having found out about it did not allow him back into India. So he came to the United States.

How long did you all work together?

Our work was different. For example, Napo Gyatso worked from Sera monastery, I was working from Nepal.  The purpose was to accomplish work for the Chinese.  Napo Gyatso worked while residing at Sera, and Adhar Tsering operated in Nepal and was the Secretary of the Shugden society there.

From among the Shugden propitiators, the people who have ties with the Chinese and those that I can prove with evidence are Gangchen Lama, Kunchok Gyaltsen, Nga Lama, Adhar Tsering, and Dechen Lama. I can provide evidence and testify wherever necessary. I raised their cases and I can take these cases to their conclusion. These people don’t want a Tibetan society and don’t have a shred of loyalty to the Tibetan people and nation. Once I start something, I will not leave it easily.

It is said that the US State Department issued an alert that identifies Shugden society and followers of Shugden as being possible sources of threat to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since you have ties with them and have worked with them, do you think the Shugden society is thinking along those lines? How have they worked to date?

Yes, it seems that both the US intelligence and Indian intelligence have informed His Holiness that the Shugden society would be the prime suspect if there were any danger to his life. That’s a fact. For example, in 2006, during the Kalachakra teachings, Adhar Tsering had gone to the places in India where His Holiness the Dalai Lama was visiting to place bombs. This is widely known.

Adhar Tsering told a businessman who dealt in Buddhist statues, that he would make a lot of money if he assassinated the Dalai Lama. Maybe he said that thinking that someone selling sacred statues would not have any feelings for Buddhism or for the Tibetan people. Adhar told the man that, “for traders of deity figures like us, nothing would be more profitable than assassinating the figure of the Dalai Lama.”

But the most important evidence I can provide is what I have heard with my ears and seen with my eyes. I saw Zhu Weiqun telling Kunchok Gyaltsen and others that they should eliminate the Dalai Lama. I was a witness and I can give evidence wherever in the world I have to.

American intelligence is not like those from some of our small countries. Best of all, you can’t manipulate things so easily with money in the United States, and truth and evidence can lead to clear and just outcomes.  That’s why the American intelligence became suspicious and discovered that these people pose a risk to the safety of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

* * *

Did you yourself have direct connections to or take part in any of these activities?

I never took part with them in such activities. But I know that Zhu Weiqun gave them the assignment. I found out later that Adhar Tsering had gone to plant bombs during the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra teachings in 2006. He had a few people working with him at the time, one of whom has now defected from the Shugden group. He would know  quite a lot about that.

One of the most widely believed things about the Shugden group is that it was behind the murder of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) monk teacher. The Shugden group have denied it. Since you were part of the group at the time, in your opinion, was the murder masterminded by Delhi Shugden group?

Yes that was planned by the Delhi group. I was not an official at the time, and I didn’t have any responsibilities. I was made an official after the killing of the teacher.

However, it was known clearly then that one of killers was a man named Lobsang Phuntsok. He was one of the three people from Sera, and the other three were from Ganden. Altogether six people were involved in assassinating the IBD teacher.  And the one who plotted the assassination and organized the killers was Kunchok Gyaltsen.  However, after the assassination, he did not distribute the reward money properly. So Lobsang Phuntsok, carrying a Chinese passport, came out to Nepal expressly to collect money from him. If Pabongka Rinpoche had not intervened and resolved the matter, that could have flared up into a crises for the group.

So the murder took place around February 1996, I think, and I became an official in the Pomra Shugden group in 1997.  So I’m familiar with the group’s relations with the Chinese, what sorts of covert communications took place, and which Chinese officials the group had contact with through Ganagchen Rinpoche from 1997 onwards.

So did your relationship with Gangchen start with your first trips to China?

No I knew him before that. I knew him when I became the president of our local Shugden group. In fact he was of great help to me and paid for my enthronement ceremony as a reincarnated Lama.

It was for his turning away from the Tibetan people and nation, and his use of the Shugden issue on behalf of China that he receives a lot of funding from the Chinese communists. That is how he is able to travel around, handing out money for these activities. On a personal level, he liked me and trusted me. He would invite me to sit on his throne, and even held a ceremony for me in Nepal. So he was good to me. In 2008, he called to encourage me to work for Shugden in

America, and to become president of the US group. I didn’t accept his offers.

Your involvement with Shugden followers appears to have been quite extensive, involving trips to China, meetings with Chinese leaders, and being a part of many projects. So what is the reason for your sudden change of heart and for coming out to speak on the issue?

Well His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been making many efforts for the sake of the Tibetan people and nation from age 16 to now 80. So as it became clearer to me that the activities carried out by these people who were exploiting the Shugden issue and colluding with the Chinese Communists was becoming more and more serious and more and more dangerous, I started to feel that I had no choice but to speak out. I had the feeling that if I didn’t do anything, something bad would happen, even though I was afraid that something could happen to me and that they would direct their anger at me.

Asian ladies dressed as Tibetans, participating the ISC protests.
Asian ladies dressed as Tibetans, participating in the ISC protests.

However after working with the Chinese Communists from 1997 to 2008, and seeing that their only goal was in destroying the respect for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the reputation of exile Tibetan Administration … they saw those two things as being problems that needed to be destroyed. They were supposed to be meetings on Shugden, but in fact they were all political meetings about work to create divisions among Tibetans. And the longer I stayed engaged with them, the clearer it became for me that I was making a serious mistake. I couldn’t continue with what I was doing.

So by 2008, I stopped all spiritual and mundane relations with them.  It was during the period when monasteries were seeking clarity when the abbot of Sera Mey and others informed me that I could be expelled from the monastery if I continued to carry out activities for the Shugden organization after the referendum. I then decided to take the oath to not associate with them anymore and so within the monastery everything was clear in 2008.

Then the Lithang Association in the US voluntarily took up the issue of associating with fellow Lithangpas Adhar Tsering and Napo Gyatso; received an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and took an oath before the two protecting deities of no longer associating with the two.

In general it was clear and I had the opportunity to attend the Kalachakra and teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  However, there was still something that troubled me inside.  If I say, there were certain risks, if I did not say anything; I felt it would not do. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has, from the age of 16, been (the only one who can save the Tibetan religion and politics from extinction is His Holiness the Dalai Lama) has been working for Tibetan religion and politics. If His Holiness the Dalai Lama was no longer there, Tibet is gone.

So I wanted to seek the forgiveness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for what I had done.  There were many reasons and factors for why I could not speak out before. It will be even correct to say that I lacked courage to speak up because the people on the other side have been involved in violent acts in the past.

I had made a very big mistake in getting involved with these people. I redeemed myself in front of His Holiness who is my guru in this life, and my savior in the next.

I received a special audience with him where I was able to express my feelings and he forgave me. It went extremely well.

But there may be some people in our society who are wondering what my motives are and other things.

I do not want to disappoint or cause concern to sincere and dedicated Tibetans who faith in His Holiness. To them I want to say that I had my reasons for not speaking out earlier, offer my apologies and ask  their forgiveness for whatever I have done wrong in the past.

We have come to a critical period where we must think very carefully. It’s time to go beyond simply saying that His Holiness has worked tirelessly for Tibet since the age of 16.

It’s time for all levels of Tibetan society to join together to achieve the Dalai Lama’s wishes. The Chinese are exploiting the Dalai Lama’s devolution of political power, and using the Shugden issue to try and destabilize the exile Tibetan government, at the same time that they are cracking down on dissent inside Tibet.  And then there are some people who think it is politically sophisticated to criticize His Holiness.

At a time when China is occupying our country and violently suppressing our freedoms, and when people using the name of Shugden are collaborating with the Chinese, there are those amongst us who instead of challenging these things, are instead levelling criticisms at His Holiness.  I don’t think we should be doing this at all.

So what are your thoughts today when you look back at your involvement with the Shugden followers, taking directions from the Chinese, and the many other experiences that you’ve had?

Well I think it was a very mistake, and it was a big mistake. My actions were motivated by money: I said things that were purely based on my reading of what the Chinese wanted and directed. It had nothing to do with the practice of Shugden. There was no room for me to consider my people, my lama, or my religion.

The Chinese communist party knows that 99.9% of Tibetans will follow the wishes of His Holiness.

They know that the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the Bon religion are all united in following the Dalai Lama’s wishes.

They understand that all the traditionally prominent people and monastic heads in Tibet have or have the desire to receive teachings from His Holiness, and are therefore united with him.

And finally, they know that the world respects the Dalai Lama’s work on religious harmony and world peace, and that his Middle Way solution for Tibet is gaining wide support.

It is work that tries to reduce the power of these things, and that to try to reduce the faith in His Holiness, and trust in the exile Tibetan government that the Shugden group is being used for.

It is also because of these factors that drive the Chinese to violently crackdown inside Tibet. But despite all the violence and suppression, there have been over 142 people who carried out self-immolation protests in Tibet, and their overwhelming call was for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

So it dawned on me that I was making a catastrophic mistake by calling myself a Lama but doing such work only for money while Tibetans are sacrificing their lives for Tibet.

I offer my deepest apologies to His Holiness for everything I’ve done, and to all the dedicated Tibetans working for our people and our nation, I offer my apologies and ask their understanding in why I have not come forward sooner.

Thank you for coming to our studio today and giving us this interview.

Last edited by Joanne Clark & Tenpel on Dec 13, 2015

Update Dec 21 2015: Reuter’s investigation about the Shugden controversy and Lama Tseta’s claims