Dear Jamyang Norbu… I have a question for you

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Dear Jamyang la,

I read your article “The Dialectics Of Being Sheep” with a smile on my face. And yes, I do subscribe to Eli Wallach’s parting advice in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly: “When you have to shoot…Shoot. Don’t talk“.

So here I am guns ablazing. You called the Tibetans sheep!

It was you Jamyang la who (also) wrote in a 2005 article for the New Humanist, the following:

Recalling an outbreak of rabies in 1983 Dharamsala, (you) advocated that a Tibetan woman get a rabies shot instead of seeing a shaman but you were shunned in the community as a “nonbeliever.

You then went on to say:

We are frankly, a people still in thrall to ignorance and superstition, which far from declining with the years seems to be gaining new life and impetus with foreign sponsorship and encouragement.

I do however like your conclusion and may I quote you:

…it is time for all Tibetans living in the free world to start grow tusks – or something else. In the last couple of years nearly everyone I know in the exile community (including inji supporters) seem to have crawled into their personal funk holes, nervous of being accused of “hurting the feelings of the Dalai Lama”, or “causing him to live only to the age of 108 and not 113 as he had intended” (Penpa Tsering), or of being a secret Shugden propitiator.

Jamyang la, if Tibetans are sheep, ignorant and superstitious, how can you in the same breath criticise the International Shugden Community’s (ISC) protests against the Dalai Lama? Isn’t the ISC helping the Tibetans help themselves?

In the classic book “Animal Farm”, Boxer the horse represents the working class or even serfs, who unquestioningly accept their downtrodden position in society. Never doubting that the farm’s leaders are right and have his best interests in mind, Boxer labors tirelessly in the belief that if he works hard enough, he will eventually get ahead.

Boxer is also a truly good soul as demonstrated by his remorse when he stuns the stable-boy with his hooves during the “Battle of Cowshed”. Boxer has empathy for others and a great respect for life. But Boxer is not terribly intelligent and neither is he a deep thinker. He is the type of character who does what he is told, submits to authority and repeats party slogans without question.

Tell me Jamyang la, if Tibetans by and large are like “Boxer”, who is going to be their spokesperson(s) if not for people like the ISC? In my honest opinion, the ISC is doing Tibetans a service by speaking up for them. They are standing up for the sheep and Boxer. What is wrong with that?

In fact, if more Tibetans were unlike Boxer and had the strength and wisdom to stand up for the rest of their countrymen, then Tibet would have fewer sheep and more shepherds. And if there are such budding shepherds in Tibet who think that the ISC is going about their business in the wrong manner, and yet are able to see the necessity of making a stand against certain policies of the Tibetan administration, why haven’t they stepped forward yet?

Unless, of course, Tibetans secretly enjoy being sheep and prefer to go about their affairs under a veil of blissful ignorance, ignoring all that is collapsing around their ears.

You quoted “the inimitable Lu Xun” and I fully agree:

If there are still men who really want to live in this world, they should dare to speak out, to laugh, to cry, to be angry, to accuse, to fight – that they may at least cleanse this accursed place of its accursed atmosphere!

Tibetans, please help yourselves before it is too late.

N. Ackermann

Disclaimer: This article was submitted by a third party author and does not necessarily reflect the official opinion of We accept submissions from the public, please send in your articles to [email protected].

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3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Good question Mr N. Ackermann. If there are sheeps, is time to get out of the box and be shepherds. Why practise ‘lip service’?

  2. I agree that the ISC has been the vice for many Tibetans who choose not to and are not able to speak up for themselves. The ISC has created awareness in the wrongs within the Tibetan society which can act as the first steps towards making things right.

    Drawing attention to what is wrong is not a bad thing if we use it as an opportunity to take corrective action. As Buddhists, we should have the strength of mind to see that.

    Another good opportunity when people speak up and not be a “Boxer” (the horse) is that it opens the door to debate, discussion and opportunity to create true understanding. If the Dalai Lama, the CTA and the anti-Shugden camp have valid and strong reasons to impose the ban, the questions raised by the ISC is the perfect opportunity for His Holiness and gang to clarify and communicate with facts and evidence so that everyone gets clear about the reason behind the ban.

    So why is His Holiness, the CTA and the anti-Shugden camp not using this great opportunity to tell the world why such a ban is being imposed in such a violent manner? A logical response would be: there is not good reason for the ban.

    It is still not too late for the Dalai Lama, the CTA and anti-shugden parties to communicate if there is a strong message. So, shall we still wait as more are being hurt and damage to the Tibetan communities and Buddhadharma is intensifying?

  3. We understand that the tibetans have had it difficult in India, we understand that. And that not many Tibetans come up to the level of education and exposure that the Sikyong had gotten. Fine.

    So in a way the ISC actions are to help the Tibetans to voice out their concerns about being banned to do this practice. What is wrong with that?

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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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