Shouldn’t Dorje Shugden people be allowed to redeem themselves?

Left to right: Kungo Palden-la (in Tibetan dress; the devoted attendant of H.H. Trijang Rinpoche), H.E. Kensur Lati Rinpoche (background), H.E. Zemey Rinpoche, H.H. Zong Rinpoche, H.E. Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Denpa (second from right) and H.E. Kensur Jampa Yeshe (far right). Despite the immense scholarship and attainments of these senior practitioners, if they were alive today, none of them would be allowed back to Gaden Monastery for the sole reason that they all practiced Dorje Shugden. Yes, as ridiculous as it sounds, these senior practitioners of such great repute would never be allowed to ‘redeem’ themselves in the hallowed halls of Gaden. Also in the picture is a young H.H. Pabongka Chocktrul Rinpoche.

The opinion piece below was sent to dorjeshugden.com for publication. We accept submissions from the public, please send in your articles to ds@dorjeshugden.com.

 


 

By: Kay Beswick

One of the main points of contention against Dorje Shugden is that engaging in his practice leads us to the three lower realms. His practitioners are frequently accused of engaging in spirit worship, a big no-no in the Buddhist tradition. It is said that engaging in spirit worship results in taking rebirth as an animal, hungry ghost or in the hell realms.

Notwithstanding the lack of logic in that statement, let us for a moment assume that it is accurate to claim that Dorje Shugden practice sends us to the three lower realms. That being the case, since this is our last human rebirth before we are reborn in the lower realms, would it not behoove a supposedly Buddhist government like the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA; the Tibetan leadership) to allow us the opportunity to redeem ourselves by engaging in religious activities that they deem real? If the Tibetan leadership, who are based in Dharamsala, had so much conviction in their claim that Shugden practitioners will go to the three lower realms, it should actually motivate them to try even harder to ‘save’ Dorje Shugden practitioners by giving them even more opportunities to engage in religious activities that they approve of. Yet, through the machinations of the ban, all of those opportunities are denied to Dorje Shugden devotees.

Do these supporters of the Tibetan leadership, seen here outside one of the Dalai Lama’s talks on compassion and tolerance, look like they are serious about helping or saving Dorje Shugden practitioners? Do they look as though they would ever be tolerant, let alone accepting, of Dorje Shugden devotees? This is the type of behavior that the Tibetan leadership encourages.

A simple comparison can be made with the Christian faith to see why the technique of segregation will not work in the Tibetan leadership’s favor. For people who are not Christian, do the Christians ban these non-believers from their churches? Or do they invite them in, hoping to find an opportunity to convert them to Christianity? And should they fail to convert someone to Christianity, do Christians give up or do they keep trying again? Do Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, stop at the first door that closes in their face or do they keep knocking and knocking until someone finally answers in a positive manner?

Using this very simple comparison, you can see why the Dorje Shugden ban does not make sense and ultimately, will fail. Failure to convince Shugden practitioners to swear out of their practice should in fact compel the CTA to try and get even closer to Dorje Shugden practitioners, to try and find a way to convince them to swear out. Instead, unlike the faithful Christians, the Tibetan leadership opts to ostracize Dorje Shugden practitioners, enacting mass discrimination against them. Dorje Shugden practitioners are not given the chance to redeem themselves by becoming born-again Buddhists, because they are marginalized in mainstream society and not brought back into the fold.

People are forced to swear out of Dorje Shugden’s practice, and read out oaths stating they disassociate from Shugden devotees. Look at the oath that the Tibetan leadership forces their people to swear – they promise not to share material goods with them. This shows that the Tibetan leadership has no interest in redeeming Shugden practitioners, and are resolute in not initiating dialogue with them. But if Dorje Shugden is “just” spirit worship, why swear on a high lama and Buddha Palden Lhamo’s name that you will never engage in the practice? That lowers the lama and Buddha down to such a lowly, mundane level.

Dorje Shugden practitioners are banned from shops and restaurants, as well as clinics and monasteries. They are not welcomed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s palace which has a large sign on the gate saying Dorje Shugden devotees will not be granted an audience with him. Dorje Shugden practitioners are driven out from their communities in riots incited by the Tibetan leadership. They are also banned from holding government jobs, positions or offices, and are barred from public talks given by the Dalai Lama, whether secular or religious.

That they are banned from the Dalai Lama’s talks gives rise to a very interesting question. For the last 20 years, the Tibetan leadership has repeatedly asserted that Dorje Shugden is a spirit, that this is an urgent issue and that people should not associate with such practitioners. Yet, despite the supposed dangers and so-called urgency of the situation, the CTA actually does very little to resolve this. For example, even if Shugden practitioners do not share the same religious beliefs as the Tibetan leadership, do they not deserve a chance to receive teachings and blessings from the Dalai Lama?

The sign on the gate of the Dalai Lama’s palace in Dharamsala, stating that Dorje Shugden practitioners are not welcome to contact the palace to seek an audience with His Holiness. As a religious leader, His Holiness should be open and accepting to all. After all, everyone else is welcome to the palace whether or not they are Buddhist. How come only Dorje Shugden practitioners are singled out for such discriminatory treatment?

The CTA says that the Dalai Lama is Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. If that is true, then if Dorje Shugden worshipers are allowed to meet the Dalai Lama, this would give them the opportunity to redeem themselves because a meeting with Chenrezig would be blessing for them not to take rebirth in somewhere horrible.

The CTA believes that the Dalai Lama’s teachings can change lives. How come Dorje Shugden people are not allowed to receive these teachings, to be given a chance to redeem themselves and change their own lives?

So in fact, instead of being barred from the Dalai Lama’s talks, Dorje Shugden practitioners actually should be given priority at His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s events since the Tibetan leadership claims that the question of their faith has to be resolved very urgently.

If the Tibetan leadership were serious about resolving the Shugden issue, and actually compassionate and Buddhist like they claim, they would not put terms and conditions like this on volunteer registration forms for the Dalai Lama’s talks. How come only Dorje Shugden practitioners are not allowed to serve the Dalai Lama, while members of any other faith are welcomed? This type of behaviour also contravenes the religious freedom laws of Switzerland where the talk was held.

Hence, when everyone else is allowed to attend His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings on the pretext of a blessing, it is troubling that Dorje Shugden practitioners are not given the same opportunity. Even people who say they are not religious are allowed to see the Dalai Lama, while Dorje Shugden people do not even get that far. And while Shugden devotees say we are Buddhist and are therefore more similar in faith to the Buddhist Dalai Lama (as compared to atheists), yet we are not allowed inside the teaching halls to receive Buddhist teachings.

So how come Dorje Shugden practitioners who, by virtue of their practices are supposedly condemned to a lower rebirth, are not given the same opportunity? Surely as wayward Buddhists, they are in more dire need of redemption compared to anyone else who says they are Buddhist. Would it not be smarter to allow them into the Dalai Lama’s teachings and events, and try to assimilate them back into the general population to “save” them? The fact is, it is convenient to take people’s money to build temples and monasteries but it is not convenient to let them use those same temples and monasteries to seek salvation.

The sign leading to Serpom Monastery, which relies on Dorje Shugden, is regularly defaced by supporters of the Tibetan leadership. Serpom was set up because monks from Pomra Khangtsen (fraternity house) in Sera Mey Monastery were expelled for refusing to give up their practice. This was the result of the Tibetan leadership’s decree that Shugden lamas like His Eminence Gangchen Rinpoche would not be allowed back into the monastery, even though he sponsored part of Sera’s reconstruction.

It is easy to use a Dorje Shugden devotee’s donations to fund your projects, but less convenient to let them use it when they need help and redemption. It is a well-established fact that massive contributions from Shugden lamas helped to reestablish the Tibetans in exile. Millions upon millions of dollars came from lamas like His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, His Eminence Guru Deva Rinpoche and His Eminence Gangchen Rinpoche whose donations were used to build monasteries, clinics, hospitals and schools in the Tibetan settlements.

So it is sad that instead of trying to save their people from so-called demon worship, the Tibetan leadership chooses to abandon them altogether. The fact is, the CTA has no interest in “saving” anyone. The current state of their so-called Tibetan cause is evidence of this; that is, after 60 years, the CTA is still reliant on handouts from foreign governments and private donors. If the Tibetan leadership were really interested in saving anyone, they would try to initiate dialogue with Dorje Shugden devotees over and over again. Instead, what we see is them avoiding Shugden practitioners, violently discriminating against them and making consistent attempts to segregate them from mainstream Tibetan activities.

The violent discrimination is all too real for elderly monks like Gen Chonze of Trijang Ladrang (household) in Shar Gaden Monastery, who was attacked and stabbed with a knife for refusing to give up his practice.

The message is clear – contrary to their claims, the Tibetan leadership do not want to help Dorje Shugden people, has never intended to help Shugden devotees and they never will. And their actions alone on this speaks volumes about their real motivation for the future of Tibet and the Tibetan people, which is that they have never existed for the benefit of the Tibetans but have always acted in their own best interests and always will do. Thus, it may also be concluded that the CTA have never had any intention of running their leadership according to Buddhist principles. To put faith in such a leadership with no results to speak of in 60 years would surely be the most foolhardy proposition.

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20 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. For Dorje Shugden practitioners there is no redemption. There is no forgiveness. There is no compassion. They don’t deserve respect or love or equal treatment. They should all just go to hell.

  2. Dorje shugden Ban? Seriously?
    His Holiness gave the right to choose. Tibetans can follow anything they want. And they do actually. So stop spreading lies and stop showing those old pics again and again. Don’t you have any better things to do? Or you might have any hidden agenda by using Dorje Shugden name but actually not knowing what he preaches.

  3. Of course, the Tibetan Leadership is unwilling to help us. If possible they would kill us all if the world was not watching them as so-called Buddhist, and refugee and well the noble all compassionate Dalai Lama’s people. But in reality, it is all opposite of who they claim to be.

    We are lucky we are living in India and we have some kind of security and laws to protect us and allow us to continue living as free people. If we were in Tibet and completely under their ruling, we would all be doomed. I am sure there would have been bloodshed. Yes, we are indeed lucky because we are in democratic India. This temporary government of ours is really just temporary for the people… it is just created to fill their own pockets, it is not for the people. Never has been.

  4. There is no ban. There is only”follow what I say and all will be well, otherwise…..”
    Sounds like a line from”Godfather”. Make you an offer you cannot refuse!!!!

    Yes, Ms Beswick, there is no intention on their part to salvage the souls of the Dorje Shugden practitioners. There is only politics and rule by division and fear. That’s why Shugdenpas must toe the line or be ex-communicated. It’s power play.

  5. Tenzin Sangay – people are allowed to choose? Really? Tell that to the Serpom monks in Bylakuppe and Shar Gaden monks in Mundgod. By the way, since you mentioned it, what actually does DOrje Shugden preach? What is the hidden agenda behind using Dorje Shugden name? Please don’t tell me it’s paid by China, that is so lame. I am ashamed of Tibetans who really has nothing to say but just spew hate speech.

  6. Tashi Pema I agree with you. It is not about living in India, or even living in Tibet. The fact is that the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the so-called central Tibetan leadership doesn’t even do a good job in India with 120,000 people, dare we entrust them to lead the millions in Tibet?

    Besides, it’s been more than 60 years, and leaders like Lobsang Sangay has never visited Tibet, what does he have in common with the Tibetans in Tibet besides language? He was born in Darjeeling and educated in Delhi and USA. At least Lukar Jam knows what living in the real Tibet is all about, unfortunately dirty politics do not allow him to be elected. ”

    I think it is best for Tibetans to become Indian citizens, at least there is a better chance to survive with the Indian government who has been a host for Tibetans in exile for more so many decades, or for those who can, to go overseas while there is still an opportunity.

    Stop being a pawn to the CTA to gain sympathetic aid and funds that only go to pay for their foreign passports or money for their relatives and families overseas, because they are too good to stay in India.

  7. This article rings many bells that the CTA is indeed very selfish who rules her “country” only for political interests. And I believe that is one of the reason they lost their homeland and unable to get ANYTHING back for so many decades.

    I wonder what’s there left for Tibetans for the upcoming decades if CTA continues to break their people apart.

    And maybe in the near future, there’s no new Tibetans in CTA citizenship anymore as there’s not much benefits being a “citizen” that rule by undemocratic, unkind party.

    I wonder CTA learns anything from what HH Dalai Lama preaches…

  8. “I vow never to share or experience any religious or material goods with them” – ha. An oath, that..contradicts itself! How can that be an oath, when the very grounds that the oath is taken on has been hugely contributed towards by Dorje Shugden practitioners and lamas? Isn’t that sharing the sponsorship raised by Dorje Shugden devotees? Or perhaps it is made to sound ridiculous so that there is no basis to it! Actually, thanks for sharing your views, Kay. If really there is no where else to go but directly to hell for Shugden practitioners, then wouldn’t it make more sense for CTA to reach out to all the Shugden practitioners repeatedly, and bring them to their side, so that they can gain more support and resources? Why marginalise them further, when there is an opportunity to turn Shugden practitioners around? And if that is the case, and they don’t care about Shugden practitioners and can’t change them, then why continue creating new materials to further speak bad about Shugden, since all those who have given up on Shugden practice have already given up and need no further materials to convince them to?

    The CTA so easily gives up on their own kind (even if they have differing views), I am sure its very easy for them to give up on other Tibetans too, when it becomes inconvenient to them.

  9. It is clearly a discrimination and segregation act by CTA. Why can’t Dorje Shugden practitioners be accepted or redeem themselves? If it is true that Dorje Shugden is a devil and whoever practise it will eventually go to 3 lower realms then the more we should help Dorje Shugden practitioners. Isn’t this part of Buddhism practise to be compassion and to help and benefit others. But instead what we hear and see is the further ban and discrimination by CTA on Dorje Shugden practitioners in various forms. It also clearly show that CTA has no intention in running the country based on Buddhist principles and values. CTA will continue to ban Dorje Shugden practise for their political agenda.

  10. Another powerful yet impactful article with sound logic to expose the stupidity of the Tibetan Leadership aka CTA who is now clearly seen by many are using the Dorje Shugden controversy solely for political agendas. I think only CTA alone not knowing their stupidity are being exposed and no one really cares about their bullshit but people who are either as stupid as they are.

    The CTA has proven to be evil and couldn’t care less for their people. Their people are baits used to mooch more money from naive westerners. They are a bunch of selfish idiots who should really pay for the consequences.

    I look forward to the dismissal of the CTA and all Tibetans become Chinese or citizens of other countries very soon.

  11. There are many reasons why the CTA do not find it necessary to redeem Dorje Shugden practitioners and I name but a few as follows:

    1) CTA who represents the Dalai Lama, who speaks of compassion, love, care for sentient beings, being an emanation of Chenrizig, do not believe in the tenets of Buddhism that is preached by the Dalai Lama.

    To this point, I wonder why the Dalai Lama permits CTA to contradict His teachings. Sorry to say, could it be what Dalai Lama teaches is for the masses and He holds a different standard for those who execute His orders.

    2) If CTA take action to remove the illegal ban, then who can they blame for their inefficiency in governing to achieve fulfilment of the Tibetan dream of recovering Tibet from China?

    This controversy hides a lot of unquestioned ineptness of CTA.

    3) After 20 years of illegal ban and for CTA to change course to accept the worship of Dorje Shugden is a huge slap in the face. If that is to happen how is CTA to answer to their donors and sponsors.

    4) Facts show that CTA intends to create disharmony with the motto of destroy and construct to their benefit.

    Evidence is the existence of 2 Karmapas, disruption to the Sakya succession plans from a life long position to a changing 3 year term.

    Another effort to disrupt unity and the next time would be a puppet placed to head the Sakya tradition, by no other authority then CTA.

    Conclusion:
    The list of outstanding lineage masters can never be wrong and they never went to the lower realm but have reincarnated to continue their works.

    As a Dorje Shugden practitioner, we believe in tolerance to what is happening to us, accept discrimination but what will never be killed is we will continue with perseverance and rigour with our practice, as the truth can never be destroyed.

  12. Dear Tenzin Sangay
    You are indeed very naive to take the words that there is no ban on the Dorje Shugden practice. Please read the following sharing (many more) on the experiences which Dorje Shugden practitioners faced and still facing until today
    http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/features/serpom-monastery-almost-three-years-later/
    http://www.dorjeshugden.com/spread-the-word/write-a-letter/make-a-difference-letter-26/

    When you sit on the other side of the fence, and not being prosecuted daily, it is easy for you ignore other’s sufferings. You should go find out for yourself the actual truth on how Dorje Shugden practitioners have to struggle to survive the discrimination imposed on them.

  13. This precious photo of great master reminds us to have right diligence in practicing dharma in order to achieve attainments and liberated from the suffering. Everyone has Buddha potential and when someone is being barred/not allow to receive Buddhist teachings is definitely not the right teaching from the Buddha.
    As what we can see now many of the great masters passed and have returned in perfect human form and continue in spreading the dharma. If practice Dorje Shugden practitioners will go 3 lower realms, then the great masters those who have returned in perfect human form and some of them are officially recognised by HH the 14th Dalai Lama are considered as incorrect recognitions.
    A big question mark here to us to think deeper.

  14. It is illogical if we try to examine the behaviour of the CTA and Dharamsala on the DS issue from a spiritual point of view. Firstly, banning another faith is not Buddhist values. Forcing DS practitioners to denounce their practice, swear against it or faced violent repercussion is not Buddhism. In fact, it is against Buddha’s and Dalai Lama’s teaching of acceptance, compassion and harmony.

    Secondly, closing the door on DS practitioner by restricting from attending Dalai Lama’s teaching and other monastic activities is very un-Buddhist. Buddha in his time, actively seek out the manslaughter Angulimala to help him repent and save with him from from hell. Similarly, Dalai Lama had gladly befriended religion terrorist (ref: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/dalai-lama-muslim-terrorism-islam-no-such-thing-as-video-watch-speech-a7317001.html), this act shows the power of compassionate loving towards all sentient beings. This leave no doubt that the act to shut out DS practitioners instead of embracing them is totally against Buddha’s and Dalai Lama’s teaching.

    But, if we try to imagine for one moment that the actions of CTA and Dharamsala are purely out of calculated political move to create an issue so that the leadership’s mis-governance can be passed over; then it makes sense. In hindsight, this strategy seemed simple; first, identity an issue out of nothing that matters to a group of people significant enough to hoard headlines. Then, make sure the distortion of issue cannot be easily refuted unless one who possess a logical mind really read up and understand, make a decision. Even with this, not many who finally understand will really bother to voice up and say something.

    So voila! Here we have it, an issue for CTA and Dharamsala to manipulate the public into neglecting the bigger picture. DS protector practice is reduced to a political tool by CTA & Dharamsala for the passed 20 years so that the already failing governance since 1990s became secondary. Twenty years is a long time and more than sufficient for a few people to prepare their coffer for a lavish retirement. Twenty years is also a long time for damages done on DS practice, the life of the practitioners, as well as on Buddhism as a faith.

  15. Well written and very logical article. I do agree that those in the “right group” should help save those in the “wrong group”, to save their souls from damnation. However, I don’t see this happening with CTA. Why? Simple. Why would CTA allow Shugdenpas redeem themselves and leave them with NO scapegoat to blame for their failure to regain Tibet?

    CTA should really wake up and realise how their administration is failing so miserably. The recent move by the US government to withdraw aid to Tibetans should be a good indicator to CTA how well they have been performing and how international leaders perceive them.

  16. The act of CTA on discrimination Dorje Shugden’s practitioners, are far too beyond and I think it’s impossible for them to regain back because

    1). CTA making FALSE promises to their people more than 50 years ago that they will return to their mother land.

    2). CTA have made a very bad choice. They pick religious as SCAPEGOAT of their failure in leadership. Besides, lay people were forced and being paid to attack monasteries and DS devotees. Many were constrained from their worships due to life threatening.

    3). Separation of religious choice and freedom have caused many pain and hurt to faithful devotees until much lives been taken away such as the act of SELF-IMMOLATION. The numbers have been increasingly.

    Above all these, are evidence of CTA’s greed, selfish and ignorance that have caused much sufferings, agony, tortured and heart-broken. How would Dorje Shugden devotees redeem back when their integrity had been harassed?

  17. My teacher have said before, if we are on the wrong track in terms of spiritual practices then we should be getting more dharma and instructions. Not ostracized, discriminated or made pariahs of. These are not the acts of an enlightened government.

    What CTA have done, resonates with what the Rohingya people faced. If CTA was still in its own country they could have persecuted the Dorje Shugden people similar to how the Myanmar government treated the Rohingya. They want to push the Dorje Shugden people all way and if they can push them off the sheer cliff. There is no respite or avenue for Dorje Shugden practitioners to rejoin the the wider Tibetan community or any form of spiritual reconciliation with other Tibetan Buddhist practitioners or organisations.

  18. It is a shame on what CTA has done on Dorje Shugden practitioners. It is not at all the teaching of Buddha. This is what happen when politic invades religion…it leaves only power, greed n dirty agenda!!

  19. See this clear video of His Holiness the Dalai Lama asking the monasteries to expel monks that practice Dorje Shugden. Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTgYWidYw3U

  20. These so called higher spiritual authorities are just the same as the rest of us. Driven by hate, politics and de-compassion. so much for the much touted notion of bodichitta – or the idea of an independent Tibetan state.😇

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Contemplate This

.…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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