An Exclusive Interview with Geshe Sopa

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An Exclusive Interview with Geshe Sopa Part 2

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Venerable Geshe Lobsang Sopa is an incredible monk with a reputation of being sincere, fiercely devoted to his Gurus and extremely principled. All who come into contact with him describe Geshe-la as being direct, even brutally honest, but tremendously kind. And it is this kindness and loyalty to the Gelugpa lineage that drives Geshe Sopa to get involved in the efforts to end the Dorje Shugden conflict.

Geshe Sopa is no stranger to the persecution that so many Shugden practitioners have suffered. He has not been able to see his family for over 18 years since the onset of the Shugden ban, one that caused many other families to separate due to the split loyalties that were forced onto the entire Tibetan community; and has suffered discrimination and threats of violence for his efforts to create awareness of the suffering that Shugden practitioners have to endure. Recently, Geshe Sopa’s name and likeness were even listed in a hit list of Dorje Shugden practitioners published by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

Today, Geshe Sopa is a Resident Teacher of Trijang Buddhist Institute (TBI) where he has been based since 2004, the advisor to the North America Gelug Buddhist Association (NAGBA) and an outspoken advocate of Tibetan Public Talk (TPT), a NAGBA initative. Geshe Sopa was also one of the monks who tirelessly rebuilt Ganden Shartse Monastery in South India after the Tibetan exodus of 1959.

It is when you hear Geshe Sopa speak about Ganden Shartse Monastery that you again see the ugliness and damage the Dorje Shugden ban has caused. Till this day, Geshe-la expresses his wish to return to Ganden Shartse – the home which he built, grew up in and where he received his education – and to be reunited with his Dharma brothers and friends. He hopes to see the reunification of Ganden Shartse and Shar Ganden monasteries before the end of his life.

Very rarely can one find a monk who is so humble and yet has quietly accomplished such virtuous works from building monasteries to serving the highest of lamas. Thus, it was a great privilege for to speak with Geshe-la to get his views about the Dorje Shugden conflict.

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  1. No one has the right to judge that Dorje Shugden is a devil; no one has the right to judge until they themselves are enlightened and become a Buddha – wise words of Geshe Sopa.
    He also noted correctly that in this century of technology one must be careful of what they say and do because those actions and speeches can be recorded . It would seem silly to threaten people and later deny as evidence are available. All eyes are on the DS practitioners as well as those anti DS. Your speeches and actions says a lot of who you are and what sort of practitioner you are and hence, one can logically conclude if the practice of Dorje Shugden is good or evil. It is all reflected in our body speech and mind !!

  2. Very strong guru devotion, follow the guru instruction fully is a good example for practitioner to follow, anyway Geshe Sopa is correct no one can judge DS is devil or Buddha all people have religion freedom.

  3. follow these fake Geshis,that’s your karma to get as close as a fake Buddha!thats what I think dear!

  4. Thank you Geshe Sopa for your devotion to your Guru Trijang RInpoche and Dorje Shudgen. I truly concur that eventually that all Gelug monasteries should be reunited again and the Dalai Lama can make that happen. Dorje Shudgen practitioners split not because of choice, but because they had none so that they can preserve Dorje Shudgen practice for the future generation. Though Dorje Shugden came into existence 400 years ago but how much benefits has the Dorje Shudgen practice helped people, countless in this kaliyuga time.

  5. Personally I have known Geshe Sopa for 5 years. He is one very well-respected Geshe for his strong guru devotion, straight forwardness, hardworking and integrity. I like how Geshe-la said we have to fight for our lineage, not only for Dorje Shugden, as Dorje Shugden is just a small part of our lineage, however our Tsongkhapa lineage should not be destroyed just because of this unjust DS ban.

    We have heard thousands of stories about how people was damaged by this ban and the damage is still on-going. We need more people like Geshe Sopa to speak up and support his action via tangible results. Geshe-la is not young anymore yet he is very active in protecting our lineage as we can see he is no stranger to all protest. Geshe is a the modern hero of Tibetan Buddhism. He speaks his mind and have no fear. He is one role model for us to follow.

    Geshe-la, please live long and continue to serve the Dharma with your virtuous actions that represent Buddhist well.

  6. A thoroughly amazing man who is so devoted to his Guru. As he put it, loosing everything, even his family, he can accept because it is the Guru that we follow lifetime after lifetime. This certainly put into perspective what we should hold important in our lives, to let go of the temporary for the permanent.

    Even with the sufferings that he had to go through, he is and had been pro-active in activities to lifting the Shudgen ban. He understood that it is our very lineage that is being attacked, especially when lineage Gurus like HH Pabongka Rinpoche, HH Trijang Rinpoche, HH Zong Rinpoche, HE Tsem Rinpoche and many Shugden Lamas are being accused as “wrong”. Their attainments and recognition being questioned. If they were wrong then effectively the teachings that we received today are wrong too! The lineage stops at HH Pabongka Rinpoche.

    I do agree with him that we are lucky to have sites like to disseminate correct information to the people of Dorje Shugden, the ban and keep us up-to-date on the current situation.

    As he was speaking of his wishes, he sounded so poignant and would so like to return to his home, Ganden Shartse which he had built and to meet with his dharma brothers again (many of whom had passed away already). He had fought so long for the preservation of our lineage and Lama Tsongkapa’s teachings and I pray that his simple wish will be fulfilled quickly.

    CTA should really wake up to the destruction caused by the ban on Dorje Shugden and how heavy the burden of karma that had been created. Many of us are not enlightened and most actions we take creates karma, be it pro or anti- Shugden.

  7. Yonten accuses Geshe Sopa of being a fake Geshe, yet remains anonymous online. The irony is that when you accuse someone of being ‘fake’ when you don’t know them at all, it only reflects badly on you and not on the person you’re accusing. What kind of practitioner takes to the Internet to accuse people of anything? Best stay quiet in your room, focus on your practice, engage in retreats and study the Dharma.

    Monks like Geshe Sopa stick their necks out for the truth, and continue to do so even though they’ve lost everything. They are the real heroes of this fight.

  8. What will the all the people around the world and in Tibet do now? Dalai Lama says he is happy that Tibet is a part of China and should remain a part of China. So many Tibetans self-immolated for Tibet to be independent and now Dalai Lama did a 360 degree turn and says he wants to go back to Tibet and China and Tibet should be a part of China. So unbelievable. So many are angry and disappointed.

    Tibetans ready to be part of China: Dalai Lama
    Organised by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the event was a part of “Thank You India – 2018″ held by the Tibetan community across India to mark 60 years of its exile in the country.
    Indo-Asian News Service
    Tibetans are ready to be a part of China if guaranteed full rights to preserve their culture, the Dalai Lama said on Friday.
    “Tibetans are not asking for independence. We are okay with remaining with the People’s Republic of China, provided we have full rights to preserve our culture,” the 83-year-old spiritual leader said at “Thank You Karnataka” event here in the city.
    Organised by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the event was a part of “Thank You India – 2018″ held by the Tibetan community across India to mark 60 years of its exile in the country.
    “Several of Chinese citizens practicing Buddhism are keen on Tibetan Buddhism as it is considered scientific,” the Nobel laureate said.
    Born in Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. He fled to India from Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959.
    China annexed Tibet in 1950, forcing thousands of Tibetans, including monks, to flee the mountain country and settle in India as refugees.
    Since then, India has been home to over 100,000 Tibetans majorly settled in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh among other states.


  9. Dear Dalai Lama,

    Since you started the cruel ban against the 350 year Dorje Shugden practice, how has it benefit your Tibetan society and Buddhism in the world? Things have become worse and most educated Tibetans can see this. They don’t speak out not because they don’t see your ban as wrong, but you instill fear in them and not respect. It is like fear of a dictator. I am sorry to say so. Everyone is divided. There is no harmony. Before your ban there was more harmony and unity.

    By enacting the ban, you split the monasteries, split so many families, split regions in Tibet apart, split your disciples from you, split your own gurus from you, split Tibetan Buddhism apart. You have created so much disharmony.

    It is not democratic what you have done to ban a religion within your community. You always talk of tolerance and acceptance and democracy and yet you do not accept and tolerate something different from your beliefs. When people practice Dorje Shugden you ostracize them, ban them from seeing you, ban them from using Tibetan facilities. You know you have done that. There are videos that capture your speech and prove this point. You even had people expelled from monasteries just because they practice Dorje Shugden. Some of the monks you expelled have been in the monastery for over 40 years. Many older monks shed tears because of this.

    Many young educated Tibetans lost confidence in you as they saw the damage the Dorje Shugden ban created and they lose hope. Many have become free thinkers. They reject what you have done. So many people in the west left Buddhism because of the confusion you created with this ban against Dorje Shugden which is immoral.

    You could of had millions of people who practice Dorje Shugden to support, love and follow you, but you scared them away. They are hurt and very disappointed. They loved you and respected you deeply before the ban. It has been 60 years and you have failed to get Tibet back. Your biggest failure is not getting Tibet back after 57 years in exile. Now you are begging China to allow you to return to Tibet to the disappointment of thousands of people who fought for a free Tibet believing in you. So many self-immolated for a free Tibet and now you want Tibet to be a part of China with no referendum from Tibetans. Just like a dictator, you decide on your own. It was your government and you that lost Tibet in the first place. Your policies and style of doing things do not benefit Tibet and Buddhism. You have been the sole ruler of Tibet your whole life and you still have not gotten our country of Tibet back for us. Our families and us are separated. Yet you create more pain by creating a ban to further divide people. Please have compassion.

    No other Buddhist leader has banned or condemned any religion except for you. It looks very bad. You are a Nobel laureate and this is not fitting of a laureate. You should unite people and not separate them by religious differences.

    You said Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi did not do right to the Rohingya people in Myanmar due to religious differences, but you are doing the same thing to the Shugden Buddhists within your own society. There is a parallel in this. You separate the Shugden Buddhists from the others in Tibetan society.

    You have lost so many people who would have loved and supported you. You have lost so much support around the world. The Shugden Buddhists who love you number in the millions. When you are fast losing support from governments and private people, it will not do you well to lose more.

    After you are passed away in the future, the rift you created between the Dorje Shugden and non-Dorje Shugden people will remain for a while and that will be your legacy. Disharmony. You will be remembered for this. Not as a hero but a disharmony creator.

    Dorje Shugden will spread and further grow, but you will be no more as you are a human. No one wishes you bad and in fact we hope you have a long and healthy life, but we have lost so much hope and have so much despair because of you. All the hundreds of Dorje Shugden lamas, tulkus and geshes are maturing and there are hundreds of Dorje Shugden monasteries in Tibet who will not give up Dorje Shugden. You have made a mistake. These hundreds of teachers and teachers to be will spread Dorje Shugden further in the future.

    The gurus that gave us Dorje Shugden as a spiritual practice and you have called these holy gurus wrong and they are mistaken in giving us Dorje Shugden. How can you insult our gurus whom we respect so much? If they can be wrong, then you can be wrong. Then all gurus can be wrong. So no one needs to listen to any guru? You have created this trend. It is not healthy. Your own gurus practiced Dorje Shugden their whole lives. Your own gurus were exemplary and highly learned.

    Dalai Lama you have created so much pain with this ban against so many people due to religion. You are ageing fast. Are you going to do anything about it or stay stubborn, hard and un-moving. You show a smile and preach peace and harmony wherever you go. But will you do the same to your own people? Please rectify the wrong you have done. Please before it is too late. You can create harmony again or you can pass away in the future with this legacy of peace. May you live long and think carefully and admit what was a mistake in having this unethical ban against Dorje Shugden religion.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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