Where is Lama Yeshe?

The altar of an FPMT centre. Notice Lama Yeshe’s portrait (as a Shugden lama) appears next to the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa’s portraits. Is this FPMT centre aware that they have a Shugden lama’s photo on their altar and are taking refuge in a Shugden-practicing lama?

By: Yeshe Sangye

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

Lama Yeshe, the founder of FPMT

In 1975, Lama Yeshe established the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (or FPMT in short). Today, it has grown to become one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist organisations in the world, with 165 Dharma centres, projects and social services. Since Lama Yeshe’s passing in 1984, his student Lama Zopa assume the position of the organisation’s spiritual director.

The above is the official history of the FPMT organisation that they make public. What many may not be aware of however, is the true story behind FPMT’s success. That is, up until the day he entered clear light, their founder Lama Yeshe strongly relied on Dorje Shugden for his organisation’s growth and success. Lama Zopa himself said that Lama Yeshe would never begin Kopan course without a puja to propitiate the blessings of his Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden.

Lama (Yeshe) and I practiced Shugden for many years. That was always the main thing that Lama did whenever there were problems to overcome. At the beginning of every Kopan course, Lama always did Shugden puja to eliminate hindrances.

- Lama Zopa speaking about Lama Yeshe’s reliance on Dorje Shugden for the growth of FPMT and Kopan Monastery’s activities (http://www.lamayeshe.com/?sect=article&id=1026)

The ban on Dorje Shugden came about in 1996. Having entered clear light in 1984, Lama Yeshe therefore never swore out from Dorje Shugden practice, as so many other monks and lamas were forced to do. Given Lama Yeshe never gave up his Shugden practice and entered clear light as a Shugden lama, it is confusing why FPMT continues to place Lama Yeshe’s photos on their altars when they have so clearly announced their anti-Shugden stance.

What is FPMT’s real stance on the matter? Are they anti-Shugden simply for material and reputational gain resulting from their alliance with the ‘correct’ side, the Dalai Lama’s side? Or are they secretly continuing to practice Shugden, as demonstrated by their ongoing reliance on and veneration of a Shugden lama?

Consider also that the Dalai Lama has said those who worship Dorje Shugden are engaging in spirit worship, and therefore they have broken their refuge vows and are no longer Buddhist. Why then does FPMT continue to venerate this Shugden lama who is no longer a Buddhist (let alone a monk) given he has broken his refuge vows? Why do they continue to view him as an object worthy of refuge when, according to the Dalai Lama himself, Lama Yeshe is no longer a Buddhist, having broken his samaya and his refuge vows because of his Shugden practice?

Lama Yeshe (far right) and Lama Zopa (second from the right) engage in a puja in front of a Dorje Shugden thangka. Lama Yeshe’s faith in Dorje Shugden is undeniable

Is FPMT aware that the Dalai Lama has said those who worship Shugden will be reborn in the Three Lower Realms? Given this statement, doubt is therefore cast on the recognition of Lama Osel as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe since, according to the Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe must have been reborn in the Three Lower Realms due to his Shugden practice.

Note that Lama Osel is not the only reincarnation of a Dorje Shugden lama that the Dalai Lama has recognised. The Dalai Lama has also recognised HH Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche, whose previous incarnation was renowned for his practice and promotion of Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Dharmapala. The Dalai Lama has also recognised alternative candidates for the reincarnations of HH the Panchen Lama and HE Domo Geshe Rinpoche, whose previous incarnations also strongly relied on Dorje Shugden. In the case of the Panchen Lama, his previous incarnations composed prayers to Dorje Shugden; in the case of Domo Geshe Rinpoche, his previous incarnations installed Namkar Barzin to the entourage of Dorje Shugden. All these recognitions take place in spite of the Dalai Lama’s own announcement that Shugden practitioners are reborn in the Three Lower Realms.

Lama Yeshe’s personal Dorje Shugden statue. Lama Yeshe relied on Dorje Shugden for FPMT’s growth and success, and continued to do so until his passing into clear light in 1984

In light of FPMT’s broken samaya, having given up the heart practice of their founder, it is no wonder Lama Osel has refused to draw a closer association with the organisation that his predecessor established. FPMT should make their stance clear to the public – either give up their Shugden practice entirely (like they have claimed to do so) and remove all traces of all Shugden lamas from their organisation, or accept the fact they broke their samaya when they gave up their root guru’s heart practice.

Why is Lama Zopa encouraging statues of Lama Yeshe and praying to images of Lama Yeshe, who never renounced Dorje Shugden?

If they choose the first path, then FPMT should follow the Dalai Lama’s instructions and refrain from glorifying the works, teachings and archives of the Dorje Shugden monk Lama Yeshe. Lama Osel can no longer be promoted as the reincarnation of their root guru, because it is not possible (according to the Dalai Lama) that he was reborn in the human realm given his previous incarnation’s Dorje Shugden practice. Is this what FPMT really wants? In the first place how can Lama Yeshe’s incarnation even be sought after, found and enthroned? He was a Shugden Lama, by your own standards, Lama Yeshe went to the Three Lower Realms as he worshipped Shugden his whole life.

This Lama Yeshe statue arrived at FPMT International Office on August 1, 2007. It was greeted with khatas, incense and tea. Why are the anti-Shugden FPMT paying so much respect to this statue? Why the hypocrisy?

Giving up Dorje Shugden for the sake of political correctness, and material and reputational gain has made it glaringly obvious that the ban brings out the worst in people. Where the six paramitas should be nurtured and developed, the ban has instead encouraged people to be hypocritical about their beliefs, practices and opinions, a quality which is incongruous to Buddhist practice.

FPMT should stop denying the fact Dorje Shugden was instrumental to their organisation’s success, and clarify for the public their stance on the Shugden issue. Their lack of clarity is disrespectful to a believing, faithful public who have expectations of a Buddhist organisation to be honest about their lineage, origins and history.



FPMT should, immediately and without further delay:

    • Remove all pictures and images of Lama Yeshe. His stupas must be removed too. He is a Shugden lama and you must be clean of him. Go all the way with the purge.
    • Remove all teachings, online and books, resources related to Lama Yeshe. You should not be studying or spreading anything from Lama Yeshe.
    • Remove all pictures and images of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche from their altars throughout all centers and affiliates as they are Shugden lamas.
    • Remove all Lam Rim (Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand) by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, rituals, texts, commentaries by any of the Shugden lamas.
    • Remove all books (Tibetan, English and in all languages) by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche as they are Shugden lamas. These lamas never renounced Shugden nor swear out. They practiced their whole lives making them unfit to follow.
    • Remove all teachings which are being disseminated online and offline, which were taught by Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and all of their practices stopped as they are Shugden lamas.
    • Remove from their whole organisation all sadhanas and commentaries by the same Shugden lamas mentioned above.
    • Remove all statues, stupas, images and protective items throughout their organisation which contain the holy works, images, remains and relics of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe as they are Shugden lamas. FPMT are deceiving people into circumambulating objects containing Dorje Shugden-related materials and lamas.
    • And therefore be prepared to stand as an organization without a lineage, having destroyed all the works, teachings, archives and images transmitted to them from Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche through Lama Yeshe. Start your own new and fresh lineage if you can completely free of any taint of Shugden and Shugden lamas.
    • If you want to be truly clean, follow Dalai Lama’s instructions and be separated from all Shugden lamas and teachers past and present, start with yourselves by removing Lama Yeshe. If you don’t remove, it shows hypocrisy. Before getting upset, think about it carefully.

In order to be ‘clean’, FPMT should do all of the above without further delay. If you don’t, then FPMT should stop speaking against Shugden online, in teachings and on any of your resources. Dorje Shugden is the main protector of your founding Lama Yeshe. It is a shame you disparage the protector of your founding lama. Very wrong and very hypocritical. How can you even keep any images of Lama Yeshe because he was a Shugden lama till the end. Be honest.


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

This is Lama Yeshe in the ‘aspect’ of Vajrasattva with consort in FPMT’s Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala. Why are they making these types of images of a Shugden lama? FPMT barricades themselves from any lama and individual who practices Shugden, so politically they are in the right camp and the donations keep coming in. So why do they still have images of the Shugden-worshipping Lama Yeshe? If they want to be clean, they should go all the way.

For further reading:

FPMT Lineage Masters are Dorje Shugden Believers (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/features/fpmt-lineage-masters-are-believers-of-dorje-shugden/)

FPMT, Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/features/fpmt-dalai-lama-and-dorje-shugden/)

A True Inspiration: Claudio Cipullo (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/news/a-true-inspiration-claudio-cipullo/)

Fabrizio Pallotti (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/news/fabrizio-pallotti/)

Politically Correct at the Expense of the Lineage (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/politically-correct-at-the-expense-of-the-lineage/)

Lama Yeshe and Geshe Rabten (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/mail-out/lama-yeshe-and-geshe-rabten/)

The Broken Samayas of FPMT (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/the-broken-samayas-of-fpmt/)

The Questionable Policies of the FPMT (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/the-questionable-policies-of-the-fpmt/)

Lama Zopa admitted to being recognized by Dorje Shugden (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/others-old/lama-zopa-admitted-to-being-recognized-by-dorje-shugden/)

Recognized by Dorje Shugden, but Speaks against Dorje Shugden (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/recognized-by-dorje-shugden-but-speaks-against-dorje-shugden/)

Kopan Monks Asking for Dorje Shugden Puja for Lama Zopa (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/kopan-monks-asking-for-dorje-shugden-puja-for-lama-zopa/)

Dakini Healed Lama Zopa? (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/the-controversy/dakini-healed-lama-zopa/)

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21 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Makes a lot of sense. Why are FPMT and Lama Zopa still revering Lama Yeshe. Lama Yeshe was a Shugden lama and therefore unqualified and disqualified. That is what Dalai Lama says. So all his pictures and teachings from FPMT should be removed. If they don’t remove it, something political is going on.

  2. Such a shame that the blackmailing gyatso stole the manjushri centre from the beautiful dharma teacher lama yeshe , what a bad start to the nkt . All hail our chineses masters we await further instruction .

  3. This post may be short but it carries an extremely significant message that may topple the Tibetan Buddhism system. Lineage is of great importance in Buddhism as it traces a teaching back all the way to Lord Buddha himself, give credibility to a teaching and practice.

    Since Pabongka Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, Ling Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche are recognized as the most erudite teachers of our time with nearly every Tibetan teacher and practitioner having been their student either directly or indirectly. If we claim Dorje Shugden practice is a demon practice then all these teachers would be in the three lower realm (as indicated in the article) and all the teachings they taught will be “contaminated” and has no power.

    What would this mean for all the students of these teachers including the 14th Dalai Lama? What about the students of these students? Imagine, all the people who take His Holiness the Dalai Lama have received contaminated teachings from His Holiness? I mean, if the teaching on DS is wrong, how can we be so sure that there is no error in other teachings?

    Would all Buddhists have to start all over again?

    In this case, what about lineage? Are all these teachers and students and centers prepared to start anew?

    Quite unlikely. Nevertheless, it is a great opportunity for anti-DS people to reflect and see deeper into the significance and impact of their stance.

  4. You may have exposed something that should have been keep secret for now.
    They may have been slowing returning its members back to the practice of King Dorje Shugden. It could be said that they were attempting to fly under the radar of the Dalai Lama. By your exposing this you may have endangers their quite return to Dorje Shugden and Lama Yeshe. Your article will most likely cause them to remove all statues of Lama Yeshe. I may have set back their cause.

  5. This post is short but very powerful.

    The truth to it is so powerful. I do not understand why did FPMT still show so much respect for Lama Yeshe when they do not even do the main practices that Lama Yeshe does. If they really feel that Lama Yeshe is their true Root Guru, then why are they declaring that they do not practice Dorje Shugden? Why are they saying that they follow what the Dalai Lama is saying? Why do they claim that they will not do Dorje Shugden practice when very obviously that their Root Guru does this practice. When their guru entered into clear light, Lama Yeshe was not able to swear out yet. So what does this show? Lama Yeshe is still a Shugden practitioner.

  6. Lama Zopa should remove all statues, pictures, thangkas, prints of Lama Yeshe immediately. Even all his outdoor and indoor stupas should be removed. Why they keep items of a Shugden Lama. Are they tricking the Dalai Lama?

    His centres around the world is famous for doing witch hunts and accuse others of doing Shugden but look at themselves.

    In Italy, Lama Zopa’s centre is very bad. They always write in to the Italian Buddhist Federation to try to remove Lama Gangchen Rinpoche. What kind of Buddhist group is that always making trouble for others.

    Remove all Lama Yeshe items immediately and be honest!

  7. In any situation where a person bites the hand that feeds it, it is sad. Even worse when the person is supposed to be a high Tibetan Lama. I have no doubts that Lama Zopa received the best of care, love and nurturing from Lama Yeshe. And in just about every picture I see of them together, there was such love, especially by Lama Yeshe who treated Lama Zopa like his own child.

    The Dalai Lama’s banned turned people against those to whom they owe a debt of gratitude and this is just one example. By agreeing with the Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa essentially consents to his guru and spiritual father being regarded as a traitor and demon worshipper who by the Dalai Lama’s definition, is in the lower realms. By any stretch of even the wildest imagination, how can this be gratitude and if there is no gratitude how can there ever be attainments and how this be a good thing? Why then display such outward show of devotion to the statue of Lama Yeshe when you have desecrated his sacred memory?

    I am saddest that Lama Zopa has chosen to become an example of ingratitude rather than to uphold the good name and reputation of his guru, Lama Yeshe.

    In a nutshell this is what proponents of the ban want all to believe – show callous ingratitude and you are regarded as a high lama. Show true devotion to a Buddha who has provided for you and the Guru who has cared for you, and you become scum.

  8. Come on. You guys are sick.

  9. You guys are worse then communist, action speaks louder then words, what you guys wants to proved?

  10. This is a powerful and enlightening article about INTEGRITY. If there is no integrity there is dishonesty and leading people up the wrong path and wrong views.

    The truth hurts FPMT and the only recourse is by doing what is correct to purify such display of dishonesty.

    Very logical and analytical arguments presented in this honest and true article.

  11. This is very true. Lama Yeshe was a Dorje Shugden practitioner all his life.

    How can his follower ban the practice of Lama Yeshe, the founder of the center? This tells a lot about this ban and its background.

    May the ban be lifted very soon!

  12. Did you ever notice it’s ok for Dalai Lama supporters to say as they like, be as vulgar and rude as possible whenever they like? But it is not okay for anyone to comment or question the Dalai Lama. Why so one sided. What makes the Dalai Lama invincible and beyond question? His cronies in Dharamsala are cracking though. The protests all over wherever the Dalai Lama visits is unnerving the CTA and they can’t stand much more of it. They have been whispering back and forth, it has been very embarrassing for them.

  13. FPMT is practicing double standards. This article is good. But I didn’t need this article to see the double standard being played out long ago. Why are they still using texts by Shugden lamas and still keeping images of Shugden lamas on their shrines? Because, if they removed them, they would have no foundation left. The very source of their foundations and teachings go down the drain. They are willing to persecute Shugden people, but not willing to be honest themselves. Their karma will catch up. Why do you think the current incarnation of Lama Yeshe (Lama Osel) is not performing and ‘failing’? Because FPMT’s samaya is broken. FPMT will not last for sure.

  14. Guru devotion is very important in our spiritual journey because all our attainments come from devoting ourself to one guru, in this case of FPMT the follower really breaking their samaya with their guru lama Yeshe., very sad how can a renown Lama has degenerative student.

  15. I use to be a part of FPMT till all the protector Dorje Shugden ‘conflicts’ arose. Lama told us Dorje Shugden is enlightened and beneficial and Lama himself relied on this protector completely. I am to believe what Lama said about Dorje Shugden and keep my practices up. So I cannot attend big functions and teachings with the rest of FPMT, but my purpose is enlightenment and not Dharma picnics. I liked it better when Lama Yeshe was operating FPMT with the senior students. They were less political. They gathered together to really practice.

    It is a shame FPMT has degenerated into a large multi-national like company.

  16. I have left FPMT also because of this double standard. Why say you are following Dalai Lama when you still venerate Lama Yeshe. If you venerate Lama Yeshe and market his teachings, why are you following the Dalai Lama. Dalai Lama said to cut all ties with Shugden lamas and students. So what’s going on?

  17. FPMT, was founded on the hard work and charisma of Lama Yeshe who engaged many Western practitioners. Kopan monasteries had the biggest Dorje Shugden monasteries ever and Lama Yeshe knew how to appreciate Dorje Shugden who is reason why, FPMT grow so fast and quickly.

    Lama Yeshe was kind to connect all who came through FPMT, to his Gurus Trijang Rinpoche and also Zong Rinpoche WHO both were loyal to Dorje Shugden till the end..

    It is not far fetched at all to associate Dorje Shugden with Zong And Trijang Rinpoche closely. FPMT members have been on witch hunts before, so it is surprising they do not remove their connections to Lama Yeshe. Lama Yeshe is an iconic gelug lama who was loyal to Dorje Shugden and his Gurus, removing the connection to Lama Yeshe will help FPMT ensure their lineage is pure and removed of Dorje Shugden. Though that cuts them off their lineage of their teachings and practices that came from Je Tsongkhapa, so their half gap measures makes no sense to me….. I would say FPMT now is still has elements of Dorje Shugden with in their organisation.. yet they perpetuate witch hunts and talk to others about how bad Dorje Shugden is….

    The ban must come down, else FPMT people will carry on destroying their own organisation, help its members create more negative karma to and so forth Om mani padme hum!

  18. Thank you for writing this very logical article to open up people’s mind in this issue. This is so true, if it is like what HHDL said all DS practitioners will go to 3 lower realms after they die then why did he recognise the reincarnation of DS Lamas like Trijang Rinpoche, Panchen Lama, Lama Yeshe? They should have been gone down to the 3 lower realms, not possible to come back as a human anymore. I do see the contradiction here. So what is right and what is wrong, HHDL is creating a lot of confusion here.

    It is completely fine if one choose not to do certain practice, but to encourage others to ostracise people with different views is definitely not right. If DS practice is creating problems in the society, use a secular way to tackle the social issues DS practice has caused.

    HHDL or any monasteries that are against DS practice should stop recognising DS Lamas, because they should not be able to reincarnate as a human after they enter into clear light.

  19. I have heard and read many funny and inspiring stories on Lama Yeshe. He was truly outstanding and highly revered. He proliferated Dorje Shugen teachings and brought it to great heights in his FPMT centre. DS benefited many people.
    One story which stood out for me was that of the Russian socialite Zina Rachevsky. She purchased the Kopan hill and offered up to Lama Yeshe. The first temple was constructed in 1971 -72, funded almost completely by the lama’s increasing number of Western disciples.
    There the lamas established the Nepal Buddhist Mahayana Center Gompa. The vision Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche had when they founded Kopan Monastery in 1969 was to produce human beings with a good heart and the wisdom needed to serve others all over the world. Lama Yeshe’s idea was to create a monastery for young himalayan monks and nuns, and a center for the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism for foreign students, and he moved to actualize his vision. Over the next 30 years Kopan developed and grew into one of the biggest Gelug monasteries in Nepal with 380 monk and 360 nuns, and an extensive program of Buddhist courses for foreigners. In 1994 they established a nunnery which housed 360nuns. It is also here that Zina (who made tremendous mind transformations) became a nun and stayed in retreat in Nepal till the last days of her life.
    All these inspiring results came about through the hard work and determination of a monk who highly revered Dorje Shugden, who according to some, is an evil spirit ! Can evil spirits do so much good for others ?
    For those who are still worried and doubtful of Dorje Shugden, do your reading and studies into many great stories of great DS Lamas who did a lot of good work for sentient beings. Then contemplate and judge for yourselves whether it is worth listening to all the bad rumours that simply makes no sense. Even if you do not wish to pray to DS, do not participate in more rumour mongering as you may be charting up lots of negative karma due to your ignorance.

  20. I think many will be okay to have FPMT to choose or declare its stance of anti-Shugden, as long as they are not hypocrite to be politically correct in order to get donation; at the same time to still placing Lama Yeshe’s images or anything to do with Lama Yeshe to get more practitioners/people to come to their centre whom they have affinity with Lam Yeshe.

    This is wrong to sit on the fence to get advantage of money and followers at the same time. Do not sit on the fence, or you would fall down sooner.

  21. FPMT owes everything to Lama Yeshe. Without Lama Yeshe there will be no FPMT of today nor Lama Zopa’s status in FPMT today. It would be throughly ungrateful to simply ignore the greatness of their founder and lineage Guru, Lama Yeshe by removing him from their centres and teachings.

    However, the Dalai Lama had said that his followers are not to associate themselves with any Shugden Lamas or teachings. Since FPMT decided to be followers of the Dalai Lama and denounced Dorje Shugden, then all the more they should make a clean cut and remove everything of Lama Yeshe from their centres. They should not associate themselves with Lama Osel, the incarnate of Lama Yeshe, recognised by the Dalai Lama. Isn’t it ironic that on one hand the Dalai Lama bans Dorje Shugden as the devil and declare all Lamas practising him will go to the lower realms and on the other, the Dalai Lama recognised the Shugden Lamas’ incarnations. Always the contradiction.

    I guess they can’t really remove Lama Yeshe from FPMT’s history as then all the practises Lama Zopa received and passed on to the students will become invalid without any lineage Guru. Stuck somehow?? The saying goes “Do you die, don’t do you die”. If it was me, I would have gone with my Guru who had given me the precious dharma and practices to get out of Samsara. Its just not worth being seen proper to follow the ban as it does nothing for my enlightenment. We are in dharma to be free of suffering and not for politics which creates more negative karma.

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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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