Man Evicted from Samdhong Rinpoche’s Talk

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On the 16th of April 2015, Samdhong Rinpoche gave a talk on Mind Training and Compassion Applied to Everyday Life and that was followed by a discussion with Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Samdhong Rinpoche was the first ‘elected’ Kalon Tripa or Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGiE that’s now known as the Central Tibetan Administration or CTA). He was in office from the year 2001 to 2011 and was widely held to be responsible for carrying out the instructions of the Dalai Lama / Tibetan leadership especially those on the persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners.

Despite having held office for 10 years and having been the representative of the high profile Dalai Lama, Samdhong Rinpoche was not well received and the turnout was abysmal with half the hall being empty. This incident shows clearly that in the absence of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan official, even senior ones like Samdhong Rinppche, are unable to command the attention and respect of the world public. How then would the Tibetans fare after the Dalai Lama passes and they are represented by a government that no one likes or respects? This is the uncertain future created for Tibetans by over 50 years of irresponsible government that did not learn to start on its own feet.

During the Qustions & Answers part of the event itself, a polite and well-dressed man stood up to ask a valid question about the persecution of Shugden practitioners. As can be seen from the video above, the man was neither rude or menacing but instead asked a fair question which had perplexed many around the world. Instead of getting an answer, the man was threatened with arrest and was then forcibly removed from the hall. This is characteristic of how the CTA does things and no one is allowed to have opinions that defer from theirs. Anything different is regarded as dissension is quickly shut down.

This is highly unusual considering the fact that this took place in the democratic country of American and also the fact that the man did not exhibit any hostility towards the speaker. However, even the Americans had to comply with the conditions of their guest. What this does show is how unwilling the CTA has been in providing sound reasons for their religious ban and has infringed on the rights of many Shugden Buddhists. It also shows that the CTA, contrary to much of their claims, are not open to dialogue even on such serious issues as this. It is not symbolic of a democratic government that treasures the opinions and rights of its citizens. It was a huge embarrassment for Samdhong Rinpoche because it is apparent that he had no intention to answer the question posed and the questioner was threatened with arrest. If Samdhong Rinpoche had any respect for democracy, he would have spoken up at this point to say that he wished to address the man’s question. However, it was painfully obvious that he chose to remain silent and allowed the man to be escorted out.

In any democratic country like America, people are allowed to pose any question to a leader or ex-leader of that country for the sake of public knowledge on relevant issues. However, this is clearly not the case for this event as the man was escorted out before he was even allowed to finish what he had to say. This is clearly the policy of the CTA especially in the exiled Tibetan communities in India where opposition towards the Dorje Shugden ban is never tolerated and the voice of freedom is gagged.

Perhaps, the man was over-passionate with his point at the end of the video but he didn’t get a chance to fully express himself before he was whisked away. It does also show that those who protest the Dalai Lama are forced to do so as that seems to be the only way to air their grievances with the Tibetan leadership. As all can see, the man was harmless and kept a safe and respectable distance from Samdhong Rinpoche and so clearly he posed no threats. Therefore, the video leaves a lingering message that the ban on Dorje Shugden is still very much enforced and that it leaves no room for discussion or dialogue. In the end, the incident reflects very badly on the speaker, Samdhong Rinpoche and the CTA because he does not exemplify what he was there to talk about, which is compassion.


Press Release

Click on the image below to read the full press release regarding the protests at the talk.

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22 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. om

    May all those negative influences that harm the teaching of the victorious ones through their perverted aspirations –
    Those with form and those without form (Shugden) –
    All those who work with malicious intentions,
    Be annihilated through the truth of the Three Jewels !

  2. Tibetans like to show democratic but their leader and government is not democratic. If you ask anything they don’t like, they ask you to leave the room immediately.

    They treat their own people very badly and the world is knowing now.

  3. Nobody like on Samdhong Rinopche. He is more not popular in Tibetan people place. He is not democracy and not democratic. He is lama only doing politics. Shameful.

    1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street
    New York, NY 10025 , posted the following invite in their website :-

    [[ Enter the Conversation: Samdhong Rinpoche
    THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015
    6:30 PM – 8 PM, CATHEDRAL

    The Cathedral of St. John the Divine and the Tibet Fund are pleased to invite you to Enter the Conversation with His Eminence Samdhong Rinpoche in conversation with The Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski.

    Samdhong Rinpoche will give a talk on Mind Training and Compassion Applied to Everyday Life followed by a far-reaching conversation with the Dean about why we must place compassion at the heart of public discourse on religion and morality.

    To reserve a premium seat, please contact the Tibet Fund at [email protected]. No reservations are needed for general seating, which will be available the day of the program; a contribution is appreciated. ]]

    The invite is warm and encouraging. The topic of the talk is “Mind Training and Compassion applied to everyday life ” . Great topic !

    Then why was the american man not allowed to ask a question on Dorje Shugden ? He was polite and not breaking the law. Shouldn’t the non-Shugden people be taught to practice mind training too ? Shouldn’t they be compassionate to all sentient beings (including Shugden people )?

    It seemed like such a hypocritical intention and act, to hold such a talk and then arrest people who want to discuss about Shugden, just because they do not have the valid answers to the question. The question asked was definitely relevant.
    This arrest reflects very poorly on the organisers and Samdhong Rinpoche .This shows how ignorant the church organisers were. They have no knowledge or they have a bias view on Shugden . They acted irrationally by arresting the man. I am surprised this can happen in America ! As for Samdhong Rinpoche , he chose to conveniently keep quiet during the arrest ; how can he qualify to teach Mind Transformation and Compassion ?

  5. For Samdhong Rinpoche – compassion is for all except Shugden Buddhists. Yes, CTA is democratic but not for Shugden Buddhists – there is no real religious freedom and freedom of speech. Democracy is a lip service to Tibetans. Human rights for Shugden Buddhists are forgotten and not practised. OM MANI PADME HUM….

  6. That man did not even have a chance to finish asking his question and was already dragged out by 2 guards and threatened with arrest! How embarrassing for Samdhong Rinpoche. If he was a real believer of democracy or even a decent human being, he would answer the man.

    This is out right censorship of opinions, and if this happens even in America, can u imagine how bad it must be in Dharamsala. All those testimonials by Dorje Shugden people in India is definitely true and not made up.

  7. If Samdhong Rinpoche really shows the traits of leadership, he would ask them to let the man stay and answer his question. What harm would that do? In fact, that would have been impressive. But Samdhong Rinpoche remained quiet which showed his intolerance and lack of leadership abilities and perhaps fear of the truth coming out. What truth? The illegal and unfair ban against Shugden. With people like Samdhong Rinpoche in the CTA, no wonder they are failing.

  8. Long live samdhong rinpoche, please do continue your hard work. you are really great. even during buddha, there are some evil ghosts who wants to harm. please ignore those ghost and their follower. they are really object of compassion.

  9. Why this Rinpoche or Lama or Monk still wearing monks dress and pretending to be a true Buddhist in theory only. DISGRACE FOR BUDDHISM AND FOR TIBET AS FUTURE FLORISHING NATION

  10. i feel it’s inappropriate to dignify this corrupt politician with the title “Rinpoche”. this is no Rinpoche.

  11. May truth and dharma quickly prevail over injustice and deception pertaining to the Dorje Shugden, may all be auspicious for this to happen ever so quickly.

  12. Why give talk about compassion if he cannot show a good example , it show that how much freedom that the people allow to speak up about DS issue basically no one are allow to comment about what go wrong with CTA even the outsider are not allow to comment about their decision this is so ridiculous.

  13. The fact that the man who was asking the question about the ban and was dragged away shows that CTA does not have a basis to impose such ban. To answer or to drag the man away, both will make CTA look bad. To avoid such awkward situation, the best thing to do is to lift the ban. Many are now questioning the reasons for CTA to impose such ban, the focus of CTA should be how to create harmony among the Tibetans, create more understanding among Tibetans who are of different lineages, after all they are all Buddha Shakyamuni teachings, just the method is different.

  14. It is just ridiculous for them to be doing this. The man has just asked a very innocent question. He may not even take any sides about this situation yet they are doing this to him.

    Samdhong Rinpoche should have asked the security of the event to release the man and let him speak. He has spoke politely and there was no stance of even wanting to protest against Samdhong Rinpoche yet they are doing this. It just shows how ugly the CTA ministers are. Not giving the chance for people to be speaking and voicing their concern.

    Yet, this event is held in America where people are given the Freedom of Speech. The irony..

  15. Looking at this video again, one can’t help but think that this American has gotten his rights denied and isn’t that illegal to curtail or prevent freedom of speech being practiced in the US?

    If the CTA can have such policies to bar people from speaking in their events, can you imagine what happens in other countries where the freedom of speech is not policed or enforced strictly?

  16. When serious discussion is ON, no kid’s question is allowed. That’s not question i.e provocation, u see why that man uttered when he dragged off by guard?!! if he is really respectable man, he should have say sorry and should have asked another question. Shugden Divide Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism yet Dalai Lama and CTA unites it.

  17. When serious discussion is ON, no kid’s question is allowed. That’s not question i.e provocation, u see,what that man uttered when he dragged off by guard?!! if he is really respectable or innocents man, he should have say sorry and should have asked another question. Shugden Divide Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism yet Dalai Lama and CTA unites it.

  18. This is happening over n over so many times. People no need to be surprise because they are never think Tibetan leader can be like this but they are abuse to us for many years. This is so call democracy n freedom of speech by Tibetan leadership who are not respect to the rules of the country they are guests of . I pity to Samdhong because he is now losing respect of all our Tibetan brothers n sisters . When you lose respect of your people , how are you going to lead them in right direction?

  19. This is disturbing and alarming. The man wasn’t even protesting but simply asking a question about the treatment of Dorje Shugden. It seems that the authorities involved knew that there might be trouble, due to the very vocal protests in the past by the ISC. It seems that they had clued their security in on the possibility of one of the audience asking such a question. It was incredible that this could happen in this day and age of free and democratic speech. This just goes to show how far the tentacles of the corrupt Tibetan Administration actually spreads.

  20. Hypocrisy is the most accurate adjective to describe the actions of Samdhong Rinpoche. He was there to give a talk about practicing compassion in daily activities. Yet, when an immediate opportunity arise to show the audience how to be compassionate when someone faces a dilemma and confusion about the Dorje Shugden ban, Samdhong Rinoche put him down with threats and force. Not only is this not compassionate, it is disrespectful of his host and breaches human rights to freedom of speech.

    With leadership of such calibre, it is unlikely that the “Tibet” name will attract anymore support or interest in the long term. Perhaps, this is why even Tibetans who were supporters like Achok Rinpoche is seeking refuge with China as they become Chinese nationals

    This act also show the complete disregard CTA has for one of the guiding principals of USA: freedom of speech and religion. Just because they can behave like warlords and distators and threaten every Tibetan into compliance back in their territories that were granted by the kindness and generosity of the Indian government, the CTA thinks they can impose citizens of other countries. However, arrogant, ignorant and disrespectful.

    This ancient and obsolete attitude of authority the CTA practices stemming from its serfdom culture contradicts the Dharma which is timeless and “alive” to meet the various different requirements of practitioners and spiritual seekers.

    Too many evidence is available online to shame the CTA. It is too obvious and something must be done about it fast. Otherwise, Tibet as a society, culture and tradition which is a beautiful cultural heritage of our world will be lost forever.

    Ending the injustice of the CTA is protecting and preserving humanity and our global heritage.

  21. Oh dear, is the tail showing already? How could one “preach” about practicing compassion in daily activities, just forget what he preaches the moment the gentleman asked for clarification on the division caused by the ban on Dorje Shugden. I don’t see the gentleman as any threat and he was standing at where the microphone had been placed. He played the rule and yet Tibetan elitist rules are different I guess. Only my way and no other way! Isn’t that “Totalitarian”?

    I wonder why Samdhong Rinpoche did not answer the man’s question? After all if you imposed the ban, you should very well know and should have clear understanding behind the ban. Does it trouble him so much to give a satisfactory answer and solve the question once and for all. Noooo…I guess Samdhong Rinpoche does not have a logical or legal answer on the ban and therefore dare not touch on this subject. How sad that after 20 years of ban, they are not even sure what the reason for the ban was.

    Please may the CTA and all the elitist of the Dalai Lama stop kidding us with the “there’s no ban” “there’s no segregation” “no discrimination” etc. Too many evidential proofs had been recorded and published. Its time you change and realise the terrible deeds of your lies will come back to bite you.

  22. 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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