No Dorje Shugden Practitioners Please!

I just read this on Dorje Shugden Blog.

I have to post it here as it is just the kind of thing that shouldn’t go unnoticed:

 

Dorje Shugden practitioners denied medical care and friendship

Report from South India, November 7, 2008:

(1) Denying medical care to Buddhist monks at their own monastery
A meeting was held in Gaden Lachi to discuss the dispensary run by Shartse monastery. They came to this conclusion:

“The dispensary has a relationship with the Dholgyal* organization and some Shugden monks are coming to the dispensary. Therefore, the dispensary must post a notice on its door, announcing that Shugden devotees are not allowed in the dispensary.”

(*Dholgyal is a disrespectful term for Dorje Shugden. )    
      

I have never been to this monastery, but I spent some time with a very sweet Geshe from Ganden Shartse, and have to say that this kind of thing I find very hard to fathom. Unfortunately since (not meaning to be disrespectful), the Dalai Lama has spent such time stating bad things about Shugden practice and practitioners – this kind of behaviour is the inevitable (and arguably intentional) result. 
I have just written to the blog author to ask the source and reliability of this report. Does anyone else have info to establish the validity of this report?
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Dorje Shugden Practice and Advice of the Dalai Lama

What is Dorje Shugden practice must be a fairly important question at the present (especially considering the relationship between phenomena and their characteristics). Even with a minimal probing of events and facts this appears to be a practice that the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile (TBIE) is determined to eradicate. In terms of what is Dorje Shugden practice, I can principally only comment on what this practice is for me. This is a good place to do it as I can speak easily within an anonymous blog.  

First of all any explanation on this practice I received only from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Geshe Kelsang states that he received the instructions from Trijang Dorjechang.

Anyway I regard Dorje Shugden as the protector of the lineage as passed on by Je Tsongkhapa and received recently by the precious teachers Je Phabonkhapa and Trijang Dorjechang. One of Je Tsongkhapa’s foremost and enlightened disciples called Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen promised to protect his tradition in the future – from being mixed with other traditions or disappearing altogether. Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen I believe to have been a Wisdom Buddha – & it is this person who I regard as appearing later in the aspect of Dorje Shugden to fulfil this function. 

I do a short prayer to Dorje Shugden daily and when I think of and pray to Dorje Shugden, I do so principally as an expression of my wish for Je Tsongkhapa’s lineage to be protected and remain. What this means for me is to practically preserve 2 lineages: Je Tsongkhapa’s lineage of instruction; and his lineage of Realisation. For me, the principal method to accomplish these 2 aims is via my personal spiritual dedication. I study and try to learn the essential teachings of the Lamrim, Lojong & Mahamudra. Then in dependence upon this and of principal importance, to preserve the lineage of realisation, I dedicate myself to gaining the inner realizations of this Dharma. 

My method for doing this, is to use Lamrim contemplation in general to improve my motivation and pacify somewhat my delusions, so as to enable a reasonable level of moral discipline. On the basis of this, I am able to have a simple and un-distracted life with a stable routine. Within this routine, I then mainly train in developing concentration on my one simple object of meditation. In this training I sincerely strive to increase the quality of that particular concentration and gradually increase the number of minutes of concentration so as to progress through the 9 mental abidings to attain Tranquil Abiding.

In dependence upon this, I know I will then be able to easily achieve any spiritual realisation completely,  such as Renunciation, Bodhichitta and Emptiness.

So that’s about it. As said, I am glad this blog is anonymous – so it is possible to chat about things like this. Anyway this is what Dorje Shugden means to me.  To summarise, when thinking of Dorje Shugden – I pray for Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings to remain always and in particular I am reminded of my responsibility to apply effort to maintain the lineage of scripture and realisation. I know that people practice in different ways (fortunately) but this is my way of relying – which came about in dependence upon thinking about the teachings I have had from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

So when the Dalai Lama says to everyone “You should stop the practice of Dorje Shugden.” Then for me, the above view and motivation are what is involved – and therefore I must refuse.

When the Dalai Lama says the “practice of Dorje Shugden harms the life of the Dalai Lama,” then this too must apply to my practice (since I do practice Dorje Shugden) – and so I have to say, how can my view and intention and practice harm your life? It makes no sense.

When the Dalai Lama says “the practice of Dorje Shugden harms the cause of Tibet,” I look within my practice and see nothing there that according to the understanding of cause and effect could be the cause of harm to be received by Tibetan people. 

When the Dalai Lama says he checked, and it is not good to practice Dorje Shugden and that Dorje Shugden (or ‘Dholgyal’ as he says) is an evil Chinese spirit/ ghost as the Nechung Oracle has repeated to the Dalai Lama so often – then I have to say that he cannot be correctly taking into consideration the many Buddhists like myself, for whom Dorje Shugden only functions as a Buddha who inspires me to practice Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings. 

Furthermore when the Dalai Lama and ministers in his Government say that these “Shugdens”  – commit murder, beat people and start fires (see news report) – I have to say, that I haven’t felt this impulse yet. However if I do start to get any sudden urges of pyromania I will at least limit these to November 5th (and here I mean in my own back garden – not somewhere underneath the HP).

Now the Dalai Lama has given some scriptural information in an attempt to refute Dorje Shugden practice, but as yet none of these have stood up to scrutiny, and are now appearing to be somewhat unreliable and possibly contrived.

So for the time being, I do refuse to listen to the superstitious suppositions (ooh don’t you love a bit of dramatic alliteration) and contrivances. Instead I will continue to rely on a reasoned practice of my chosen tradition, whilst speaking out when having the opportunity, against the current anti-Dorje Shugden propaganda.

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? “

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?”

Sectarianism, Dorje Shugden and the Dalai Lama

I would like to now follow on from my previous article in which I quoted Geshe Kelsang Gyatso as stating that sectarianism can arise as a result of a blending of traditions, (as opposed to each one respecting one another whilst maintaining their own individual lineage of teachings). With respect this idea, which I read about some time ago, whilst I had some grasp of it in theory, I did not have much notion of the practical aspects of it until these were illustrated by particular actions of late. One would have thought perhaps that if traditions were mixed then they would at least end up being more open to each other and tolerant (despite losing any special individual characteristics, internal coherence and clarity). Geshe Kelsang is stating precisely the opposite.

Now the recent actions of various individuals and institutions who stand in opposition to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in the Dorje Shugden issue have clearly illustrated Geshe-la’s own point on sectarianism.

First of all many other people including prominent teachers in other Mahayana Buddhist traditions have criticised the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) as a sectarian cult for years. However it is a fact that anyone is allowed to attend an NKT teaching, or be part of an NKT Centre. It is also a fact that NKT students can go to any other teachings as they individually see fit. This is clear within the constitution of the NKT.

The same is not true with respect to the teachings of the Dalai Lama. It is a fact that practitioners of Dorje Shugden are banned from attending his teachings, and are banned from attending his empowerments. They are also not allowed to work within any branch of his government or the Health Service. Here are some very public actions and resolutions relating to this:

March 21st, 1996

The Dalai Lama tells worshippers of Dorje Shugden to leave the temple and bars them from attending the empowerment.

March 30th, 1996
The Private Office of the Dalai Lama issues a decree for everyone to stop practising Dorje Shugden, with instructions to make people aware of this through government offices, monasteries, associations, etc.

The Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Parliament) passes a resolution banning the worship of Dorje Shugden by Tibetan government employees.

April 18th, 1996
The Tibetan Department of Health gives a special notice to doctors and staff members: ‘We should resolve not to worship Shugden in the future. If there is anyone who worships, they should repent the past and stop worshipping. They must submit a declaration that they will not worship in the future.’

April 22nd, 1996
The decree banning the worship of Dorje Shugden is officially read out at Drepung Monastery. The abbot says that everyone must abide by the ban. Drepung Loseling Monastery distribute a form, saying that anyone who does not sign will be immediately expelled from the monastery. Many monks including Dragpa Rinpoche move to a nearby Indian town.

 

Since then very recently the ban on Dorje Shugden and the marginalisation of Dorje Shugden practitioners has been spread throughout most of the major Tibetan monasteries in India.In addition to this and following the ‘advice’ of the office of the Dalai Lama, the assembly of Tibetan people in Switzerland recently agreed the following:

“On August 16, 2008, in the local assembly of Tibetan people in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, their Deputies discussed thoroughly with great responsibility. After that, the Local Assembly’s Deputies extended their appreciation to the Resolution (1996) adopted by the majority regarding the worshipping of Dholgyal (Shugden). Due to necessity there is now no option but to add three new resolutions on top of the existing five resolutions. We request all Tibetans who are above 18 years old in Switzerland and Liechtenstein to fully follow the content of these resolutions.

A The five resolutions passed unanimously by the Local Assembly’s Deputies on July 6, 1996 were:

The Dholgyal worshipper must completely give up [the practice] henceforth.

Those who do not worship Shugden must follow the instruction without falling into the trap of others.

You all must invite only those who do not worship Dholgyal, when you need to perform puja for oneself or for the Dalai Lama’s well-being.

Be it in private or a group, when you make offerings to the monasteries in Nepal, India, etc., you must do these offerings to those monasteries which do not worship Dholgyal.

You must bear in mind the instructions of politics and religion and abide by them without any contradiction.

B Three additional resolutions adopted on August 16, 2008 by the majority during the Second Session of Local Assembly were:

Recently a few Dholgyal followers have engaged in baseless criticism against the Dalai Lama in public. This we recognise as a conspiracy to spread rumours through gossip.

Those few Tibetans who criticise the Dalai Lama, we recognise them being in the category of Chinese government’s politics, directly, indirectly and thoroughly.

We will collect signatures as a truth witness which represents the volunteer support to the above-mentioned points.”

 

I have no intention here to pass on negative rumours about other traditions or teachers, however I am trying to merely state certain facts relating to this subject.

Another mahayana tradition the FPMT (Foundation for the preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) have also released certain resolutions or measures concerning Dorje Shugden practitioners. They have stated that they have done this in response to the Dalai Lama’s policy. They state their wish to follow the Dalai Lama’s example of prohibiting the practice:

 

“As FPMT follows the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, all those in service or teaching in FPMT centres and projects do not engage in the practice of Shugden. 

From The FPMT Handbook:

All those who offer service or teach in FPMT centres are committed to follow the advice of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As an example, His Holiness has prohibited the practice of the so-called protector, Do Gyel (Shugden), so teachers or others affiliated with the FPMT should not engage in this practice.”

 

Without showing disrespect to the FPMT, it appears to be clear that (as they have explained) they are merely doing this out of the wish to follow the Dalai Lama and the wishes expressed by his office. Otherwise it would be hard to argue the standpoint that they would ever have issued any prohibition on the practice of Dorje Shugden given the fact that their founder Lama Yeshe practised, and relied sincerely upon Dorje Shugden throughout his life.

Bad Press and Dorje Shugden practitioners

As said before, I try to practice as a Kadampa Buddhist and within this I daily do the practice of Dorje Shugden. Who can help but notice some of the bad press that Dorje Shugden practitioners are receiving currently. This seems to have led to a remarkable (but apparently socially acceptable) level of discrimination against such practitioners right here in Europe. 

                  One tiny example of this I experienced recently on the internet when I visited a Buddhist site called E-Sangha. On this forum I read various posts giving the experience of different Buddhists among others. On one popular thread there were posts related to the Dalai Lama’s recent illness. One person blamed Dorje Shugden practitioners for this occurrence and another was saying that probably many Dorje Shugden practitioners would be feeling pleased and that such practitioners had been praying for such a thing to occur. 

     Now I personally have tried to rely upon Dorje Shugden for a long time, and engage in His practice and I have many friends who do the same. Never have I heard of any of them praying for anyone to receive harm – always quite the opposite. Our view of Dorje Shugden is as a Buddha, whose nature is therefore that of compassion and wisdom.

            I joined this E-sangha forum and added a response saying that a practitioner relying on Dorje Shugden who prayed for anyone to receive harm (even someone engaged in negative actions), was not really a Dorje Shugden practitioner. I stated that I loved Dorje Shugden and I also only wished for the Dalai Lama to be free from harm. I listed the various compassionate Lamas who have showed the perfect Buddhist example and who also were practitioners of Dorje Shugden.

              As a result of posting these positive messages, I was immediately thrown off the forum. Myself and my posts were removed from E-Sangha. I have to conclude form this that this forum is completely unbalanced in its views and ethics. Now I have nothing against them despite the critical and misleading comments, but obviously the feeling is not mutual.