Dalai Lama – Dorje Shugden speech by Helmut Gassner, translator for the Dalai Lama

I have recently spent some time looking at the transcript of a speech by a previous translator for the Dalai Lama in Europe, Helmut Gassner. I was so interested in his experiences that I have included the whole transcript on this blog as a seperate page (see at bottom of right hand column).

One special point of interest is where he mentions Tashi Wangdu (minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile) accusing the Shugden Society of commtting murder, on Swiss TV. Tashi Wangdu is holding up a paper with Tibetan script on it  and he is claiming that this is a death threat. I remember seeing this particular clip many times in the past. Anyway in Helmut Gassner’s speech he states

     ” I could not resist stopping the video to copy the Tibetan text and translate it.  It contained no death threat at all, simply an impertinent letter containing a challenge to debate the issue so as to settle the difference. By now I was convinced that something foul was going on. Otherwise, why would Tashi Wangdu go to such lengths as to show a fake death threat on TV? “

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News RE: Dalai Lama’s View on Shugden Practitioners

In my previous post I talked about the Al Jazeera news report and some of the details it gave regarding Dorje Shugden practitioners not being allowed in various shops and restaurants in the Tibetan community. This is the result of the Dalai Lama trying to ban the practice.

Anyway one thing I thought was that presumably even though I am a European, if I went to a Tibetan settlement in India – then as I practice Dorje Shugden I would also not be allowed in many shops etc.. 

So I wondered how would the shop keepers know? and indeed how do they know when ordinary Tibetan people or monks are Dorje Shugden practitioners? So I checked into this – and now I know. At least one way that they know, is that if you practice Dorje Shugden and therefore refused to sign a declaration (which has been put to all) saying that you would abandon the practice – then you would not have an identity card – stating as much. For example the Great Payer Festival was organised in a slightly different way this year by a specially set up team. It was organised so those not in possession of an identity card, which stated they had signed the declaration (to not practice or support the practice of Dorje Shugden) , could not attend at all! It was organised so that such people would not even be able to make or pay for offerings to the monks. Incredible! and at a prayer festival (you would think such things were sacred).

Again I am left wondering why so many Buddhists in Europe and North America continue to only criticise those who are demonstrating against the Dalai Lama. Of course it is no wonder there is such hatred of Shugden practitioners by Tibetans who look up to the Dalai Lama: since at public events he continues blaming Dholgyal (Dorje Shugden) practice for the Tibetan Independence problem – stating again and again that the practice harms the cause of Tibet and that those who practice are in league with China. Please remember that huge numbers of Dorje Shugden practitioners have lived their lives quietly in their monasteries such as Ganden Shartse, having no involvement with politics.

Even on religious occasions this happens, for example January 9th 2008 in front of many many people the Dalai Lama gave Yamantaka  Empowerment at Drepung Loseling Monastery in Mundgod. At this time he said,

“Those who practice Dholgyal (Dorje Shugden) are taken care of by the Chinese government. It will be best if they return to where they are cared for. There is no reason for them to live here. Do you understand?”

In this way any who practice Dorje Shugden are convicted, without trial, of being enemies of Tibet. Without being critical, but merely trying to report events and what has been said: I cannot avoid saying, that it appears to be the Dalai Lama who can be observed to be intentionally promoting this.

World Media Investigates…Dalai Lama Soon to be Taken to Court

 

The news report below is worth watching, whether you are a Buddhist practitioner or not. For years now nearly everyone has been denying that there is a religious ban in place on the practice of Dorje Shugden in the Tibetan community. A ban put in place only by the Dalai Lama. Although this was a practice done by the Dalai Lama’s own teachers who were respected throughout the different traditions and showed the best of Buddhist examples, the Dalai Lama is currently causing all Shugden practitioners to be treated as outcasts within their own communities and monasteries. To see shop and restaurant owners putting up signs saying no shugden practitioners reminds me of one thing, namely the lead-up to the second world war when in Italy and Germany signs began appearing in shops reading “No Jews.” Shugden practitioners are being denied identity papers and are steadily being denied more and more rights within their home towns under the control of the Tibetan Government in Exile. I wish that the blame for this could simply be passed off onto that Government alone however the whole drive behind this anti-Shugden campaign has the Dalai Lama behind it at every turn.

I am reporting on this because I am a Dorje Shugden practitioner and I believe in religious freedom. Almost everyone in the international Buddhist community who knows of the Dalai Lama is living in wilful denial at what is going on. Within the Tibetan community in Exile if you are any other type of Buddhist, or a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, ..whatever then you can go and attend teachings, receive empowerments go in shops and restaurants as you please. You can get travel permits and find employment etc.. However if you are known as a Shugden practitioner then the following list I have given are now facts of life – if you doubt this please just do the research:

You cannot work in any part of the Government (TGIE)     

You cannot work in any part of the Health Service            

You are not allowed in the Tibetan Youth association        

You are not allowed in the Womens association                

You are not allowed to remain in many monasteries         

In those monasteries you can stay in you are totally segregated for example by a dividing wall, which also prevents you eating with others                                       

You cannot be a judge or juror                                        

Your goods are not bought at marketplaces                    

You are not welcome in many shops                                

You are not welcome in many restaurants                         

Pictures of you are often put up in public accusing you of receiving funding from China 

Whenever you argue or try to stand up for your rights you are accused of being in league with China

Just because of your religion you are accused of wishing to harm the Dalai Lama             

Just because of your religion you are accused of harming the Tibetan cause                     

As a group, Shugden practitioners are accused of being terrorists without evidence or trial

As a group, Shugden practitioners are accused of being murderers without evidence or trial

and the list just goes on,

All these things are facts, and some you can see in the above news report – including the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Prime Minister acknowledging such things are going on, as if they are fair, whilst adding on unfounded and random accusations that  – well these Shugdens are murderers, and some are terrorists and some start fires don’t you know! –  (remember the Dalai Lama used to be a Shugden practitioner as were his saintly teachers)  

Is the Dalai Lama authentic?….calling Reting Rinpoche

I recently read an article about whether the Dalai Lama is actually the Dalai Lama or not. It is quite a shocker in all, especially since many of the events refereed to were very public. Some of the points which really stand out relate to the political and religious environment around the time of the choosing of the 14th Dalai Lama and after.

The regent at that time we know to be Reting Rinpoche (the fifth) and it appears as if his own position and power were very much related to the finding of the new (14th) Dalai Lama. A rival minister at that time called Langdun put forth that the of one of his relatives was the re-incarnation of the Dalai Lama. However later, in contradiction to this, Reting himself stated having had prophetic visions when he visited the Holy Lake of the deity Shri-Devi (aka cho-kor-gye), which indicated where the new Dalai Lama would be found. The results of these visions were followed up, and a group led by an associate of Reting Rinpoche went to the Muslim town of Taktser. Then it was the associate of Reting Rinpoche namely Ketsang Lama who performed the tests on the young boy (such as picking out various items belonging to the previous Dalai Lama). This is also stated in the Story of Tibet by Thomas Laird. Upon returning with the chosen boy, there was considerable disagreement regarding accepting him as the Dalai Lama by the government ministers.
So it seems that the whole choosing of the 14th Dalai Lama was based principally upon the prophetic visions of Reting Rinpoche— and then followed up by his friend Ketsang Lama. These things are publicly known. Now one would think it wise to rely on visions and clairvoyant experiences of only those known to be highly realised beings. Or at least (since such things are hard to know) then those who are seen to be of exceptionally pure conduct and moral standard – like the old Kadampas. However Reting Rinpoche is described in the article mentioned above as someone who coveted power and had broken his celibacy vows whilst remaining as if a monk. I have no idea whether this a true reflection of him or not. However the Historian K.Dhondup wrote that it is a dismal fact of modern Tibetan history that Reting Rinpoche had “extremely callous handling of the Tibetan administration treating it merely as a source of personal enrichment and an avenue to reward friends and supporters and punish enemies and critics. It was one of the darkest points of Tibetan history” Also Reting Rinpoche is mentioned in Making of Modern Tibet as being a “bon vivant who cherished luxury items”. Further to this, in Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936-1947 By Clare Harris, Tsering Shakya, Pitt Rivers Museum, International Association for Tibetan Studies Seminar it says, “Despite the general criticism, the public tended to excuse the lama himself for the excess and blamed the Labrang Changdzo – the estate manager. The frail and small-framed Reting Rinpoche was known within courtly circles for his avaricious sexual appetite for both male and female lovers.” 

Now although it seems obvious, upon investigation, that the fifth Reting Rinpoche found himself with somewhat of a compromised reputation, I have to add that none of this forms hard fact. No matter how many reputedly reliable people repeat similar views, it doesn’t thereby make what they are saying conclusive. If I have learnt one totally unexpected thing as a member of the NKT it is this.

However, one has to nonetheless consider the import if these things stated about Reting Rinpoche (the 5th) were true, as so many believe to be the case. Since it is the so-called visions and actions of Reting Rinpoche that principally led to the current Dalai Lama  being found, tested and appointed, the Dalai Lama’s own authenticity must be brought into question.

My final point would therefore be that any balanced and reasoning individual considering this should find themselves holding the question “Is the current Dalai Lama really the re-incarnation of Je Gendundrub?”

Bad Experiences

I can see from just a brief check on the internet that there are many people who for whatever reason have had bad experiences within the NKT. I would like to give my personal opinion regarding this. Sometimes I feel that this may be their own fault. Other times it is clear that they have encountered Resident Teachers who have behaved very strangely and often acted in close-minded and sectarian ways. Unfortunately there are (and have been) various Resident Teachers who do not follow Geshe-la’s approach – which is that of the logician who invites practical exploration and testing of the teachings. 

 

I pray and hope that all can find such Resident Teachers such as I have come across (see previous post on Faith, Reason and Doubt). If people do have such troubles with their Resident Teachers and if they are acting strangely or in ways that seem inconsistent with Geshe-la’s open and natural approach , I can only suggest:

1. Firstly try not to worry

2. If you feel able, then go and tell them how you feel and ask them to please stop acting strangely (this may well have no effect, but it is only fair)

3. If many people seem to be badly effected by their behaviour or teachings then write to the NKT secretary about it, explaining without being critical (anonymously if you wish)

4. But don’t rely on any change occurring. Instead rely on Geshe-la, his books and festival teachings and if possible go and find another Resident Teacher who is more sensible, either in person or by doing a correspondence study programme. 

Finally avoid dwelling on such problems – move on swiftly and focus instead on the beauty, wisdom and good sense found in the Dharma and its practice.

Faith, Reason and Doubt. 1

When I was listening to teachings in the second NKT centre I attended, I was lucky enough to listen to some teachings from quite a skilful resident teacher. During one particular General Programme class there was a quote made that stuck with me 

“ After a discourse the faithful student may have many doubts” 

 

I absolutely loved hearing that and they continued,

 

“A faithful student has many doubts and questions, such a student is not afraid to doubt or question, Why? because they have faith”

 

I really appreciated this and still find it fits with my experiences throughout my life. It became clear to me that following “should’s”, or “should nots” had little place. That as a student in the Kadampa tradition following Geshe Kelsang Gyatso one was meant to explore and delve relying upon one’s own guide of logic and reason as much as the Spiritual Guide.  This gave me a deep contented feeling of faith, one that still resides.

These days I still find that throughout Geshe-la’s own discourses I hear these sentiments echoed repeatedly.