Dalai Lama Recognizes the Bön

Traditional Bonpo Shamans in Nepal

The Bön tradition predates the advent of Buddhism in the ancient kingdom of Tibet. The religion and its beliefs, which were initially focused on shamanistic practices based on stories and myths of Tibet’s forefathers, can be traced back to the civilization of Shang Shung in Eastern Tibet.

At its heart, the Bön religion centers around the personage of a divine being called Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, the monarch of the Bön teachings. His consorts and offspring played important roles in the dissemination of the Bön religion in Tibet.

Outwardly the Bön religion appears exotic and rather similar to what Tibetan Buddhism has to offer, i.e. salvation or liberation through practice and realizations. But in actual fact, the original Bönpo practices revolved around shamanism and animistic traditions, instead of the individual’s salvation. Thus, practitioners of Bön focus primarily on nature and spirit worship, and the control of supernatural forces.

The pantheon of deities within the early Bön tradition varied in their appearances. Some had animal heads, some were peaceful looking, some had wrathful demeanors, some took on human form and others were formless. In terms of belief systems, Bön promises paradise in the afterlife as opposed to the Buddhist belief of liberation through purification, attainments and ending the cycle of reincarnation.

Following the introduction of Buddhism into the barren plateau of the Himalayas, the Bön religion then borrowed many scriptural and tantric Buddhist elements in order to ensure its survival within its own homeland.


New Bön – The Camouflage

Bön practitioners have incorporated Buddhist monastic principles into their practices. However Bönpo monks wear a blue upper shirt (tögag), setting them apart from other Tibetan Buddhists

During the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, Guru Rinpoche or Padmasambhava spent most of his time engaging in psychic wars against nature spirits and other ethereal beings who were displeased with the introduction of a new faith. Each of these unseen beings was subjugated by the Tantric master Padmasambhava, and many came under oath to protect the Buddhist teachings. Some were made responsible for guarding specific monasteries or teachings, while the uncooperative or malevolent ones were sealed in a pit, locked away in a part of Samye Monastery. The Bön religion was thus tremendously affected by the actions of Padmasambhava.

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. The same applied to the Bön tradition. As they could not hope to overcome the attainments and knowledge of the erudite Indian Buddhist masters who were arriving in Tibet, the Bön yogis decided to take matters into their own hands. Instead of opposing Buddhism, they studied the Buddhist texts and slowly incorporated them into the Bön belief system. Thus, the Bön religion evolved to keep up with the times.

The Bön pantheon of deities was revamped into a new system similar to its Buddhist competitor, classified into Father and Mother Tantras. The Transcendent Lords were given consorts, each lineage was led by a teacher, and so forth.

Bön deities also took on the familiar iconography that we have come to associate with Buddhism, but were still fundamentally different in that Bön deities were the complete opposite of Buddhist ones. For instance, Buddha Shakyamuni’s right hand touches the earth, but the Bön version of a Buddha has its left hand touching the earth instead.

The new brand of Bön even incorporated some Buddhist tenets which did not exist before, including texts on monastic life, which was light years away from the original Bön beliefs. (The monastic system originated from Buddha Shakyamuni and did not exist in other religions/traditions at the time.)

Thus, Bön eventually took on a new life, and the newly packaged religion reestablished itself in Mount Menri, or Medicine Mountain near Mount Kailash. A monastery was built and its leaders took on the title of ‘Mentri’ or throne holders of the Medicine Mountain.


Tibetan Buddhist Masters on the New Bön

Despite its outwardly familiar appearance, great Buddhist masters of the past never recognized nor advocated the Bön religion and its teachings as being a worthy source of refuge, or as anything more than a corruption and plagiarization of Buddhist teachings. For instance, Drigung Jigten Gonpo, founder of the Drikung Kagyu school said:

As for the Bön meditations and [philosophical] views: in their system there seems to be the systems that the universe was born from eggs or created by the Cha deities, Shiva and so on. These are borrowings from Tirthika views.

Similarly, the great Kyabje Pabongka Dorje Chang said in his famous Lamrim teaching which has since been compiled into the book Liberation in the Palm of your Hand:

The dharmas of Bönpos, tirthikas, and so forth are non-Buddhist and should not be taken as our refuge.


Bön is not a refuge for Buddhists; it is not worthy of being a refuge … It is vital that you should know the sources of the Bön religion.

Even the great yogi Jetsun Milarepa, one of the major figures of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, said:

The source of Bön is perverted Dharma. A creation of nagas and powerful elementals, it does not take one to the ultimate path.

These great Buddhist masters were not being hostile towards the Bön religion but were merely recognizing its source, nature, and spiritual potential.


The Dalai Lama Recognizes Bön

The Dalai Lama endorses the Bön by wearing the Bön ritual hat and holding the Yungdrung

There has long been a historical competition between the Bön tradition and Buddhism in Tibet. In general, Bönpo practitioners were stigmatized and marginalized by Tibetans, who labeled them ‘chipa’ (“outsiders”) while Buddhist practitioners were called ‘nangpa’ (“insiders”).

In 1977, things began to improve for the Bönpos. The Bön leaders sent representatives to Dharamsala to initiate talks with H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. As a result, the Dalai Lama advised the Tibetan parliament-in-exile and the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies, to accept Bön practitioners into their ranks. In the Dalai Lama’s own words:

Similar to the four Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Bonpo community elects representatives to the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies. ~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

In 1978, the Dalai Lama also acknowledged the Bön religion as the sixth principal spiritual school of Tibet, along with the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, Gelug and Jonang schools of Buddhism, after visiting the newly built Bön monastery in Dolanji.

Since then, Bön has received official recognition as a religious group, enjoying the same rights as the Tibetan Buddhist schools. This was further reiterated in 1987 by the Dalai Lama, who forbade discrimination against the Bönpos, stating that it was both undemocratic and self-defeating.

The Dalai Lama accepts tenshug (long life prayers) from Trizin Rinpoche of the Bön tradition at Menri-Ling Bönpo Monastery in Dolanji on 20 April 2007

The Dalai Lama even went to the extent of donning Bön ritual paraphernalia, emphasizing “the religious equality of the Bon faith.” This occurred in 2007, when the Dalai Lama was offered a ‘tenshug’ or a long life prayer by the Yangdrung Bönpos. During this ceremony, the Dalai Lama wore the Bön ritual hat and held the ‘Yungdrung’, a sceptre marked by two swastikas. These emblems are synonymous with the founder of Bön, Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche.

On the part of the Bön, offering these highly symbolic implements to the Dalai Lama was a sign of their respect for him as the secular and spiritual leader of Tibet, usually accorded only to the highest Bönpo authorities. On the part of the Dalai Lama however, accepting the implements was nothing less than a seal of his approval and a clear sign of his support for the Bön tradition.


Why doesn’t the Dalai Lama persecute the Bönpos?

Although the practice revolves around the worship of spirits, H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama included the Bön religion within the ranks of Tibetan Buddhism

A casual comparative study of the Bön and Buddhist religions would immediately reveal that Bön does not qualify as a proper object of refuge, at least not according to Buddhist principles, Tibetan or otherwise. The Bönpos engage in spirit worship and their practices do not lead one to Enlightenment. These facts have already been established by many eminent masters.

Of course, everyone is free to practice whatever religion they wish, and it is not the premise of this article to criticize the Bön. The point that needs to be highlighted is that the Dalai Lama has thrown his support squarely behind the Bönpos, not only officially recognizing these “spirit worshippers” as a spiritual tradition of Tibet but also granting them equal privileges as other Tibetan Buddhist schools.

Yet, the same Dalai Lama has condemned the practice of Dorje Shugden on the (wrong) basis that it is spirit worship. Specifically, the Dalai Lama says there is a danger of “Tibetan Buddhism degenerating into a form of spirit worship” and that if left unchecked, the “cult” of Dorje Shugden will cause “the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhism to degenerate into the mere propitiation of spirits.”

Clearly there is a blatant contradiction and gross inequity in the Dalai Lama’s policies. For example:

#1: Why is one form of spirit worship (Bön) allowed but not another (Dorje Shugden, an enlightened Buddha wrongly believed to be a spirit)?

#2: Why does the Dalai Lama recognize the Bön spirit worshippers as the sixth principal spiritual school of Tibet but try to extinguish the practice of Dorje Shugden, claiming that it is demon worship, non-Buddhist and therefore practically illegal?

#3: Why does the Dalai Lama welcome Bönpo spirit worshippers with open arms when their teachings are completely at odds with Buddhist principles (Jetsun Milarepa even called the Bön religion “perverted dharma”) yet ban the practice of Dorje Shugden (which is in accordance with the tradition of Lama Tsongkapa) because it will supposedly cause Tibetan Buddhism to degenerate into spirit worship?

#4: Why does the Dalai Lama support the Bönpos, allowing them the same privileges as the other Tibetan Buddhist schools while taking away the rights of Shugdenpas?

#5: Why were Bön practitioners granted the privilege of audience with the Dalai Lama back in 1977, but Shugdenpas are denied all requests for dialogue to address the Dorje Shugden ban?

#6: Why are Bön practitioners invited to hold office in the Tibetan administration while Shugdenpas are specifically excluded through legislation?

#7: Why does the Dalai Lama forbid and speak out against discrimination of Bönpos, but remain silent and even subtly encourage the discrimination of Shugdenpas?

#8: Why is it undemocratic and self-defeating to discriminate against the Bönpos but perfectly alright and even necessary to isolate Shugdenpas and not have any association, material or otherwise, with them?

#9: Why does the Dalai Lama invite Bön leaders to gatherings of “heads of Tibetan Buddhist sects” but expel Dorje Shugden practitioners from their monasteries?

#10: Why does the Dalai Lama pose for photos with Bön leaders and practitioners, accept their offerings, wear their ritual implements while any form of association with Shugdenpas, monetary transactions or even a photo, is forbidden?

These questions above are enough to raise deep concerns about the Dalai Lama’s true motives in supporting the Bönpos while banning Dorje Shugden and condemning the Shugdenpas to a life full of discrimination and ostracism.

As the spiritual and secular leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama should have impartiality and practice equanimity towards all religions, whether Buddhist or otherwise. Unfortunately, the truth is that the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize winner, is not practicing the loving kindness, compassion and tolerance that he preaches, to the detriment of all Dorje Shugden practitioners living in Tibetan communities and beyond.

A photo courtesy of the Dalai Lama’s private office. The original caption reads ‘His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the heads of Tibetan Buddhism sects’. Note how the Dalai Lama affectionately holds the hand of the Bön leader while the Ganden Tripa, head of the Gelugpa school of Buddhism stands at the far right.

One can only conclude that the Dalai Lama’s support for the Bön and his ban against Dorje Shugden are for political gain – to gain the support of the Bönpos while making Dorje Shugden a convenient scapegoat for the failures of the Tibetan administration. There is no other reason why a master as erudite as the Dalai Lama would accept and recognize a practice which is not rooted in Dharma (Bön) but reject a deity and practice which originates from the sacred pantheon of Buddhism (Dorje Shugden).


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  1. Hear hear, what a great article !! Such hypocrisy from the false Dalai Lama !!

  2. Dalai Lama has been treating Bon practitioners equally with other religious. He knows so well that worship the Bon spirit will not lead to enlightenment. Somehow he recognise the Bon worshippers. In fact this is what we want to see. We should respect others religious freedom and not condemn to create any controversy. We hope His Holiness Dalai Lama will soon realise this and lift the Shudgen ban.

  3. Ah, I understand more and more each day what a politician is the evil false Dalai.
    So, he likes any group that doesn’t have political disadvantage for him. So, Gelugpas who rely on Shugden were too powerful and imporatant– like Trijang Rinpoche, so his “holiness’ had to demonize the practice. He has this pretend China Karmapa (sorry China— there really is reincarnation— the real Karmapa is not the communist Chinese boy) who he just picked (without authority to do so) because you know he is like hey, let’s get rid of another powerful lama that competes with me…. the Karmapa… so he picks the China boy, and tells the west he’s in charge of that sort of thing….. alas west, decides to use the Dalai in their positive brainwashing against communism…. freedom in exile— poor peaceful amazing aristocratic leader leaves for west looking for peace and freedom while the commies come after him with tanks….
    So communism ruins itself by its own example, so there is no need for such brainwashing, but alas the Dalai is a shrewd politician and uses it to his advantage. So Bon isn’t Buddhism, but then that isn’t the point to the Dalai who also departs from Buddha’s direct transmissions for his random mixing; so really Dalai Lama Buddhism, Bon Spirit worship, The China Karmapa, = not really Buddhism
    Then he bans the really perfect teachings about Dorje Shugden and won’t acknowledge the real Karmapa exists…. okay…. well… you know I am always trying to point out that if you think the Dalai is really a Buddha (I don’t) but okay, if you do, then please note the Dalai can teach in reverse psychology, so what I am getting always from the Dalai, would he be a Buddha, is not to do anything he says ever with his mouth— ignore everything he is saying when making any sort of logical decisions.:)
    So you might as well study Bon as study with the Dalai— neither transmission is coming from Buddha….

  4. This is why DS practice has been discouraged by many. See one quote from Pabongka of what he thinks of the Bonpos. If Pabongka has said this in this age he would by now be behind bars for hate crime.

    Pabongkha* on Bon:
    “The so-called Bonpo is also not at all different from the other non-Buddhist faiths. Far from achieving liberation it opens the door to the lower realms.”
    *Pha-bong-kha-pa Bde-chen snying-po (1878-1937)

  5. This fact is one in a line of many others. Can’t people see this or are they obscured by H.H.’s large than life figure?

  6. If there was no Dorje Shugden controversy, I would think HH Dalai Lama is such a open, tolerant, respectful and kind person. He respects others’ religion, no discrimination at all. He also have friends of other religious heads from Catholic to Muslim, constantly promoting world peace. However, this is not true at all, while he shows how open and tolerant he is to other beliefs and faiths, he is suppressing and discriminating his own Tibetan people who practice Dorje Shugden. He may not have released an official Ban but there are many proofs that discriminations to Dorje Shugden do exist among the Tibetan community. Even on the CTA website, there is a hit list of Dorje Shugden practitioners who have not committed any crimes at all.

    HIs Holiness, please be fair to your own people!

  7. This is good evidence and knowledge for the people who are anti Dorje Shugden. The example that Dalai Lama is so clear for all to see. Why would the Dalai Lama pick on one protector and not other unenlightened protector and practices and despite it arose from a line of realised teachers all the way back to birwapa, who founded the sakya lineage. Perhaps that was that was the real reason Dorje Shugden sought shelter with the Sakaya Lineage initially. The Sakya would recognise his nature easier than other lineages.

    If the Dalai lama can go against the Gelug lineage, when will he move on to the other lineages? The Dalai Lama does not need to admit the Jonangpas and the Bon in actual fact why does he do that. The Bon are clearly non buddhist in nature and they have their right to practice. So why is Dalai Lama so tough on the Gelugs? Perhaps in an example I heard sometime back a zen teacher would be tough on some students as that teacher knew those students will have to brave the challenges of the world, for the ones who don’t have to face the world, he was relaxed with them. Anti DS people there is no clearer example, why would the Dalai Lama endorse the worship of spirit if he is not doing it with a hidden motivation?

  8. There is alot of Why to Dalai Lama enforce ban on Dorje Shugden Practitioners, but welcome the Bonpos, even though they are Spirit worshipper. This just does not make sense at all, as Dorje Shugden are known to be the the manifestation of Buddha Manjushri, and the lineage can be trace back from TDG to Lord Manjushri.

    whats more Dorje Shugden is the Dharmapala who protect the Teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa and Buddha Dharma as a whole, it really does not make sense, becasuse an enlighten protector deemed spirit and His practice is Ban. But the Bon who are not Buddhist and worshipping spirits are welcomed.

    But looking at the bigger picture, this is a cause for many to question on Dalai Lama actions on accepting Bonpos and persecuting Dorje Shugden Practitioners. This will lead many to know more about the history of and origin of DS, and how beneficial it is for many, with this Dorje Shugden practice will spread like wild fire.

  9. Bon practices spirit worship big time. So why is HHDL and CTA ok with that? Why are they picking on the practice of Dorje Shugden? How about Hinduism? They have a pantheon of deities that are not enlightened. Why are they not discriminated and ostracized?

    There is so much inconsistency with their claims. Regardless, everyone has the right to their own religion. If CTA wants to look good, they should lift the ban, stop lying about it and move on. All this bad press do not serve them if they want support from Western countries.

  10. Honestly, two points I would like to share are: (1) HHDL is a well known high Lama, he also the Noble prize winner I don’t have qualify to comment what had he done towards his own students, Bon practitioner and Shugdenpas. My thought is we cannot doubled standard for one same issue. It will make public like me feel confuse or lost what is the direction I should follow?

    If HHDL can recognize Bon then DL must also accept Dorje Shugden. I think this is fair enough for each part and avoid conflict between different group of student and lineage. As icon celebrity of Buddhism sector, DL always become the focus point for all the international medias. Whatever DL said and do will create a huge impact towards the public. So, my point is everything must be fair for each part, because it is basic of Buddhism philosophy—equanimity.

    Second, I also truly believed that HHDL have more deeper meaning in behind why he make this decision. Like what I said above, he is high Lama and as well known high incarnation Lama, he should be very clear the consequences after the decision. May be I not enough merit to see through this issue, but I believed he can. Out of full compassion, seem like DL make a lot of conflicts in this current period, may be those conflict will turn into good result after time flying…??? I hope so!

    My comments seem like paradoxically but I too speak out through bottom of my heart. I believed many people also have same feeling like me. Thank you for create this platform for us to share our thought and opinion.

  11. Dear HHDL, my humble request to you as a high reputation Enlighten Being like you, can His Holiness explain to us and all the people around the world, why His Holiness can accept and tolerance Muslim, Catholic, Christian, now is Bon, but why not Dorje Shugden practice? Why His Holiness like to avoid the Dorje Shugden issue which have been going on so many years? What wrong of this group of people?

    I am here not tried to increase tension of this situation, while I just want to know what is going wronging about this group of people? Why they always be suppress by CTA? Why they cannot have their own space for their practice?I think not fair which just “serve them by special treatment”…

    I wish HHDL can give the public a very clear explanation why the Dorje Shugden practitioner and supporter be treat badly all the time? Are they deserve it?If yes, why? If not, the reason?

    Waiting for His Holiness response.

    Thank you HHDL.
    With folded hands.

  12. different religions are different in their believes. Buddhism believes in karma, re-incarnation, etc. some believe in heaven/hell after life, etc. Though I am a buddhis and believe in karma and all, i can’t say go around condemn other religions and say they are wrong. instead, we need to be open, accepting, tolerating and embracing.

    But does it mean we simply accept all religions, even some preach to kill others? IMHO, we should accept religions which do not hurt others and do no preach to heart others.

    As such, Bon may be worshiping spirit, but they didn’t hurt others, and I don’t see any issue with HH Dalai Lama accepting Bon. Actually, I feel it is necessary to accept Bon.

    However, just because HH Dalai Lama conveniently claim that Dorje Shugden practitioners are related to China and causes division/disunity within Tibetan community, Dorje Shugden is suppressed. Furthermore, this false accusation is baseless.

    Dorje Shugden practitioners focus on learning the Dharma and spread the teachings of Lama Tsongkapa, why Dorje Shugden practitioners receive such different treatment from Bon practitioners?

    It is time to lift the ban already!!

  13. It baffles anyone completely why Dalai Lama had recognised Bon instead of Dorje Shugden! If Dalai Lama could not provide satisfactory answers to these ten questions as set forth in this article, Dalai Lama had failed miserably as a Nobel Peace Prize Winner and specifically as a prominent Buddhist leader and monk! Dalai Lama simply does not practise what he taught!

    Are there hidden meanings within Dalai Lama’s actions to recognise Bon and to ban Dorje Shugden?

  14. This is ridiculous how can a spirits worship can be recognize DS is a emanation of Buddha Manjushri yet the ban is never end so much suffering for people who practices the lineage , where is the fairness very sad !

  15. The common problem that the Dalai Lama created is 1) the lack of consistency and 2) the abundant of contradiction in his actions of body and speech.

    His Holiness action is inconsistent from one moment to the next, with one person to the next and from one place to the other. How can the Dalai Lama endorse one spirit and oust another (assuming that Dorje Shugden is a spirit as he claims)? How can His Holiness give rights to the Bonpo practitioners while he ostracize Dorje Shugden practitioners to the extent that they are deprived of basic resources like medical services and entry into sundry stores. This gives a poor portray of this icon that does not only jeopardize the Gelugpa lineage but the spiritual world as a whole.

    His Holiness is the leader of the Tibetan spiritual world. However, his action contradicts the fundamentals of Lord Buddha’s teachings such as equanimity. It is also the duty of a spiritual leader to redirect his people from actions that will lead to lower rebirth: by endorsing the Bon worship, the Dalai Lama is literally leading his people to the 3 lower realms.

    Contradiction also manifests in the Dalai Lama’s meddling with the Karma Kagyu lineage where he enthroned his own Karmapa. This goes against the tradition of the lineagage where the Sharmapa is the assigned authority to enthrone the Karmapa.

    This damaging action is spreading onto his followers who are behave vulgarly in public. What else could one expect, people look to their leader for guidance and if His Holiness’ speech and actions are laced with hypocrisy and his non-action is one that endorses violence, then the followers can only be expected to be the same.

  16. Well, well, the Dalai Lama seemed desperate to grasp control of more Tibetans-In-Exile rather than keep the purity of the lineage teachings. Recognising and supporting Bon practises goes against the Lamrim teachings as it will not bring one to enlightenment. No matter how the Bon had adopted much of Buddhist tenets, their are still lacking. Here we have enlightened Dorje Shugden, a centuries old practise propitiated by lines of highly attained Masters, including the 5th Dalai Lama, Pabongka Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, etc., accused of being a “Spirit”, whilst the real “Spirit” worshipers are declared valid. How much more farcical can it get? Next if they submit the Christians will be the 7th school and maybe Jews will be the 8th…sorry, not out to demean the Christians and Jews (just using examples).

    Please please please Dalai Lama, manifest your true nature and stop grasping for political control which is destroying the very foundation of your own school, the Gelug, Lama Tsongkapa’s teachings and the blessings from your teachings.

  17. “in 1987 by the Dalai Lama, who forbade discrimination against the Bönpos, stating that it was both undemocratic and self-defeating.”

    If this is true, then the Dalai Lama should forbade discrimination against practitioners of Dorje Shugden as it is both undemocratic and self-defeating too. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander too.

    The questions raised in this article is very pertinent and valid. But, how can we understand what the Dalai Lama is doing as all his actions have been contradictory and makes no sense?

    How can recognizing the Bon be politically advantageous and discriminating against the Shugdenpas be advantageous? Guess, only the Dalai Lama can answer that.

  18. I’m really sad when Bonpo already come to my country and I can’t help anything :(

  19. 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.

  20. Thanks for your point of view here. I believe this article is wildly misinformed. I’ve been involved with Nyingma teachers. I have studied Dzogchen, and tantra, under Bonpo instructors and Nyingma alike and there was utterly no difference in the essence. I have never seen one teaching taught by the YundDrung Bon worshipping any deity or animal deity since 1999. That is a profound misunderstanding of the practices they teach. There is no worship. If you consider prayer and mantra worship then you don’t understand what they are at all.

    While they use the symbology of these deities as representations of the mind, elements, and influences of the manifest, the only animal worship I have ever heard anything remotely close to what you are talking about was the Garuda which is actually only part man and bird and is a myth that permeates many Buddhist systems around the world. Garuda has its place in Buddhism as a tantric vehicle and that is exactly what it is in the YD Bon and nothing more. Ultimately the Bon acknowledge their own deities as being the same embodiments as other traditions, because they are. For instance Bon’s Sherab Chamma is just another form of Tara, or Quan Yin. If you refer to their age old traditional dances they are mostly of a celebratory nature. Never have I seen a ritual using animals, or deities that were seen as actual elemental spirits etc. some rituals used in Bon for healing or benefitting the elements or the spiritual balance of ones life force can be found and again, there is a profound realization that these things all occur from the mind.

    Indigenous peoples from all over the globe have always had awareness of the local spirits and elementals, and this includes Buddhist schools. To say that Nyingma tradition of Buddhism is not aware of such things would be ludicrous.

    I spent time with the world leader of the Bon the 33rd Menri Trizin and I believe he was a realized Master. While I don’t claim to know his level of pure enlightenment, he offered nothing but compassionate wisdom and benefit to my own life. I have also sat with the Ponlob, and the 34th Menri Trizin. Our eldest Dzogchen Master is also a wonderful practitioner benefitting all sentient beings and teaching others these precious teachings. I have studied the A-khrid cycle, and more with Rime master Namkhai Norbu and others as well. These teachers are human beings and some have faults. To try and lower Bon to a place of “keeping up” with the times is not substantiated fact but arguable and refuted by many historians. Bon have their own lineages and their own enlightened Buddha. This is just simply beneficial to everyone and not causing harm in any way. To distort the story like this repeatedly is actually a sure sign of underdeveloped Dharma practice and awareness. To lower a beneficial system that pre-dates Buddhism because of its complex history – is an unconscious use of words and also a little manipulative considering the problems we have seen in the Tibetan Buddhist schools of sexism, sexual assault, and other controversies, because the Buddhist schools are in no way more pure or able to become enlightened. That is completely misunderstanding what the path is and distorts it dangerously. No path is better than any other if it works for a person to become free from Samsara. All paths are equal when it comes to the nature of the truth. Purity depends only on our devotion to the truth and karma. Our actions are where purity is apparent.

    I suggest doing a little more research from an open hearted point of view instead of continuing to spread this kind of confusion and negativity about a wonderful school of Tibetan Culture and Dharma. This kind of argument is for people who have lost the point of Dharma, that is to free ourselves from the suffering mind of Samsara. Your article seems steeped in judgments though it states it is not. The scholars have long argued these facts and some say the source of Bon lineages come from a far more ancient time. Let the scholars argue. It’s a waste of time. Pure enlightened nature is not able to be perverted. True Dharma cannot be damaged. That would mean you have the personal power to overcome Buddha nature. No one has that power. If you ah e any kind of practice one knows that our true nature is indestructible and dharma arises from that ground. Any distortions are purely in the real of the conditioned, conceptual mind. Maybe we could this debate there where it belongs?

    All the best in your practice.


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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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