How the Dalai Lama’s Shugden Ban Divided a Family

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].

 


 

I wish the Dalai Lama would wake up one morning and say ‘I was wrong’.

T.D. is a Tibetan living in India and is a Gelug Buddhist by birth. She has felt first hand the effects of the Dalai Lama’s religious discrimination as her family of Gelug Buddhists is torn apart.

 

A Father’s Struggle to Protect His Children

Like many parents, T.D.’s tried to protect her from the harmful attitudes of others. In her case, her father’s attempt to protect her meant that she never realized the kinds of problems he faced over his Dorje Shugden practice.

“My family experienced a lot of problems in the village but never told us,” she said. “When my father died, I went down to my village. I was taken aback the whole settlement’s reaction. They denied to attend his funeral and even the offerings of the Puja performed for his peaceful soul.”

 

A Mother’s Isolation

In 2003 and 2004, her mother, living alone in the village, faced many difficulties. She was told to declare in public that she was not a Shugden Buddhist if she wanted a peaceful life in the settlement.

T.D. recounted what life was like for her mother after T.D.’s sister and brother-in-law left their village.

“She went through all the difficulties. I remember my cousin’s brother asking my mother to sign the sheet declaring that we are not Shugden followers. My mother stood strong and denied to do so.”

 

A Brother’s Difficult Choice

Chillingly, T.D.’s younger brother was ostracised from the community because of his mother’s refusal to abandon her Dorje Shugden practice.

As T.D. explained, “After few years, even my younger brother was not allowed to play in the village football team because he is presumed to be a child of Shugdenpa.”

In order to have a normal childhood and fit in with his peers, her brother secretly renounced his family’s religion.

‘Without our knowledge, he wrote a letter declaring he is not Shugdenpa and submitted it to the local Tibetan representative’s office,” T.D. said. “It is not that I would have ruled over his decision. But since we are staying in the land of secularism, I wonder why he needed to prove anybody of his beliefs.”

 

A Family Divided

In T.D.’s family, the ban has resulted in more than religious discrimination and ostracism from members of the community; the ban has ripped her family apart from within.

“My family is divided into two,” she told us. “The ones who stood by the parents and were labelled Shugdenpa and anothers who went against. The village started to horrify my mother. She said she was even threatened to leave the village. She informed the local Indian police, but they could not help her. Kundeling Rinpoche helped her and now she is staying in Shar Gaden [Monastery] at Mundgod.”

Unfortunately, the divisions within T.D.’s family are not unique among Shugden Buddhists. Families that used to be united and harmonious have split over this issue, with sisters refusing to speak, wives divorcing husbands, children denying their family’s heritage.

All this, simply because they wanted to practice the Gelug teachings they received from their Spiritual Guides.

 

Religious Discrimination Persists Even in Larger Tibetan Settlements

Some supporters of the Dalai Lama have claimed that the ostracism against Shugden practitioners is an isolated occurrence that only happens in a few of the smaller exile communities.

T.D.’s experiences suggest otherwise. Even though she has now left the village and feels safer living in a larger city, she still faces discrimination.

“Here in Shillong, we are not allowed to enter the monastery which was build by all the Tibetans from the state including my father-in-law who was a Shugdenpa long ago,” she said.

“Now when the issue is raised, they lock the monastery every time we go there. So, we do the prayers outside the monastery. I even heard that few decided not sell the apparel to us.”

 

“The Dalai Lama’s One Word Could Break the Peace and Unity in His Community”

She believes the problem is caused by the Tibetan Government in Exile (now called the Central Tibetan Administration, or CTA) and the Dalai Lama, as well as the Indian Government for letting it happen.

“What deity you follow was not in question in my family and in our neighbourhood till the issue was raised. Then, slowly as the politicians started to play their game with the issue, I could feel my father was getting affected by the issue. I blame the entire scenario on poor governance by Tibetan Exile Government, Indian Government who never tried to solve the issue and yes of course Dalai Lama. I wish he knew his one word could break the peace and unity in his community.”

According to T.D., there were no problems before the Dalai Lama began his campaign against Shugden Buddhists.

“There is a small Buddhist temple which has all the deities in our village. Everyone in locality used to go there to pray. All the oldies do Kora there in the temple every morning and evening. But when the issue was raised, people stopped going over there. That’s wrong I felt. Even a few local people planned to demolish the temple. Monks were called from the Bylakuppe Sera Pompara Monastery to safeguard the temple. It was a pathetic time. How drastic and pathetic the situation they created for us.”

It is clear the Dalai Lama’s actions has caused many problems in the refugee Tibetan Communities in India, and it is a cause of great sorrow for T.D.

 

“I Want a Solution Instead of Crying and Arguing”

“I hate the issue which broke the Tibetans into two parts, which broke the peace in our community and which was legally a crime.”

 


 

Below is another account of the religious discrimination faced by Shugdenpas even once they have left Tibet and / or the Tibetan settlements and are living abroad. 18 year old Dendu was born in Tibet and came to the United States when he was 11. Although the American constitution guarantees freedom of religion, worship and practice, Dendu and his family continue to suffer discrimination and violence only because they practice Dorje Shugden.

Here Dendu bravely tells us about his and his family’s experiences as Tibetan Shugdenpas living in the United States.


or watch on our server:
http://video.dorjeshugden.com/videos/ISC_Testimonies_video_4.mp4

 

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19 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. To be perfectly honest with you, I am very shocked at the Indian government for allowing such discrimination given the fact that it was founded on democratic principles that stress the equality of all and the fact that Tibetans have been granted refugee status. It’s shocking but not surprising. As an Indian i know that spirituality will always trump secular politics in India, that’s just the way that Indian culture is. This fact has obviously been exploited by the Tibetan Administration due to the religious awe and reverence afforded to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is this reason, that despite growing international concern over the ban on this practice, the Indian government continues to do nothing. This can also been seen in other incidents regarding the Tibetan populace, including the violent incidents that occurred at Rumtek Monastery in regards to the two Karmapas. Politically speaking the headache caused by the Tibetans Administration is huge. I wonder how much longer they will be tolerated.

    What is more worrying is that this ban does not only affect those living in India, but even among the diaspora population all over the world, as seen in the last video interview. This ban seems to have been passed down to the younger generations as a matter of fact, with devastating consequences.

    I commend this website for their dissemination of knowledge regarding this issues. Change only comes when people are informed.

  2. This is a very sad article. Being a person who were raised in the western style democracy that respect human rights and freedom, it is frustrating and unthinkable for me to see one family should be separated and discriminated against because of their faith.

    It is beyond discrimination, they are doing evil things too like putting rats in a restaurant and basically try to sabotage people’s lives just because they practice Dorje Shugden. It seems like the well being of Shugden practitioners does not matter to them. I thought in Buddhism, we are supposed to practice kindness. These people who labeled themselves as followers of Dalai Lama but doing unlawful/ unethical things to Dorje Shugden practitioners really give a bad name to the person they claim as their teacher.

    Michaela

  3. For many who are not directly affected by the ban, the situations mentioned in the article above really take place on a daily basis. A mere advice will not cause this kind of harm, but a ban does. One can continue to argue there is no ban on the Dorje Shugden practice, but the no one can ignore such obvious evidence.

    For Dorje Shugden practitioners everywhere, even those in overseas, we are affected by the ban directly. Although we are “allowed” to practise openly, we are being discriminated in the local Buddhist scene. We face difficulties in raising funds and spreading our lineage Dharma. We are unable to invite monks from India due them being restricted to travel. These are vital and dangerous to the lineage and we believe this is the CTA’s intention, since they are the ones who reinforced the ban.

  4. It is just shocking that the Indian government did nothing with the situation and the discrimination that is going on within the Tibetan community towards the Dorje Shugden practitioners. When it is against their law to show disrespect towards people who have different religious believes as compared to themselves.

    How is it that the Tibetan rules over right what the Indian government says when the Tibetans are in India as refugees and as guests to India due to the courtesy that is being shown towards them.

    It is just sad to see how the ban has once again made families split. The ban on Dorje Shugden should be lifted. It is like saying that we should not listen to spirits (although Dorje Shugden is not), yet, the CTA are listening to spirits themselves. Nechung is not enlightened. So why listen to Nechung?

  5. This is so sad to read on how children or wife are told to give up Dorje Shugden to have an easier life in the community. What a shame!

    What does anyone gain from giving up their religious practice?
    This ban is completely opposite any democratic system and it makes me angry how people who have lost their country create so much trouble for their own people.
    Instead of helping each other, they create problems and even ruin professional careers.

    When will this end? Indeed, I agree with Ashok Rao, people need to know what is going on in the Tibetan Community. It will help to stop this impossible ban.

  6. This is really sad. It is incredible how far-reaching is the effects of the Dorje Shugden ban and how a ban is breaking down Tibetan society as we know it. This little story is far more common occurrence within Tibetan society than we think. This is just another proof of how the Dorje Shugden destroys Tibetan harmony and totally undermines the Tibetan cause because the Tibetans are too busy upholding this ban and fighting and segregating each other instead of working towards dialogue with China. This is just too bad.

  7. I do not know of anyone who would not have preferred to continue to revere the Dalai Lama but it is very difficult to do that when we see him go around the world and preach peace, unity and tolerance, and then incite such disharmony and fractures amongst the Tibetan people and also Gelugpas around the world. Surely such incongruity is obvious to everyone.

    What is encouraging is how the Tibetan people are beginning to share their experience instead of living in fear. This is the sign that people are fed up and it is high time that the CTA takes notice of this. Unfortunately I suspect that the CTA won’t do much as ling as they can get away with their oppression of the very people they are charged to represent and protect.

    Without question, anyone who values family, friendship and freedom should sit up now and start asking answers from the CTA. Regardless of whether you see it from a secular or spiritual perspective the ban is just wrong.

  8. I have met Dendu n he is nice young guy who is listen to father. What is sad even in America that is land of the free is not really free. People must still hide to their practice n can not be open or many problems are coming. This is the gift of our leaders for our people. After so many years of paying to rangzen ladeb, this is the result we have even in US and we are treat like this by our leader. Sorry but I must say to all my brothers n sisters that deb serpo n rangzen ladeb is useless. Even our Shugden people can not get deb serpo to travel but all our leaders have all taken American pass, Canada pass, UK pass. So why do we stay with deb serpo? Enough of this bullshit already. We must try to do the same as our leaders n take care ourself.

  9. It’s sad to hear Dendu’s account about how vicious Tibetans can be: posting up letters, sending rats into restaurants, sending accusation letters to the authority and boycotting a restaurant just because the owner is a Shugden practitioner.

    Compared to the Tibetans who did all the nasty things because they are “loyal” to the Dalai Lama, Dendu seems to be a better example of real Buddhist who patiently forgives and suffers the discrimination and physical abuse knowing that the other party did it out of ignorance. Shugden practitioners are the ones who are being attacked and discriminated, yet they have to remain patient.

    Similarly, TD’s family broke up because of the nonsensical Dorje Shugden ban. Why must they suffer simply because they wanted to practice the Gelug teachings they received from their Spiritual Guides?

  10. I hate my government. I hate that they only care about their position, power and money. I hate what they have done to us, their own people. How they have split my family, my friends and I all a part! How much we suffer is worst than the Chinese attacking us because this is like being attack by your own brother and sisters you trust or you thought you can trust but instead back stab you. Sorry some just stab you in the heart. I hate the fact that His Holiness never say anything to stop the CTA and anti-Shugden people from attacking us non-stop! Why?!

    With deepest respect even if His Holiness don’t want us to come to your teachings, and you don’t want to see us, is fine, is ok, but why allow others to attack us? Why allow your people who attend your compassionate teachings attack us? Why does His Holiness allow Hospitals and schools to put up signs to not allow Shugden practitioners to get medical treatment and education? Why so so cruel and so shameless to discriminate us humans yet preach about compassion hu? Where is the compassion in all this?

    Why don’t His Holiness say something to stop this disharmony so there can be harmony and peace and we all practice separately, it is ok. Respect the differences and live in harmony. Why can’t this happened? Why are Tibetans killing Tibetans? Already there is not many of us in exile. Such a huge joke that the Chinese are laughing so hard at us.

    This is really the best way to make China happy… Tibetans fighting amongst Tibetans. How silly, how stupid we are. If only His Holiness say stop harming and hurting Shugden people and that there is no ban, then China will not use Shugden to get to us… it’s as simple as that. How come the CTA so duh can’t see this point?

    If His Holiness just say the word, all the suffering will end, all the people will have peace and harmony. I pray and hope so very much!

  11. There are a lot of proofs to prove that there’s a ban and how the ban has affected the Tibetan community, causing disharmony and tearing families apart. It’s very sad to see so many people who suffer tremendously because of the ban. As much as I do not agree with the ban, I still respect His Holiness the Dalai Lama and I have always believed that His Holiness is doing this to benefit a bigger picture.

    However, the CTA have gone way too far to discriminate and persecute Dorje Shugden practitioners. They claim that Dorje Shugden will shorten His Holiness’s life and etc but in fact they are putting down His Holiness. H.H the Dalai Lama is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, what makes them think that an ‘evil spirit’ like Dorje Shugden(which He us not) can hurt His Holiness?

    I hope that the ban will be lifted soon and may His Holiness live a very long life.

  12. So much proofs of the damages caused by the ban of Dorje Shugden, yet the Dalai Lama kept tricking the world saying there is no ban. There is no need to argue back and forth, just see these “in your face” ban and its damages, and you will realize that Dalai Lama has been lying all this while: http://www.dorjeshugden.com/all-articles/features/definitive-proof-of-the-ban-and-discrimination-against-dorje-shugde/

  13. Oh my lord… I’m really shock to read this! I’m quite new here and I stumble upon this article and boy was I surprised to hear some of these horrible stories. How is it possible that His Holiness the Dalai Lama could cause all this grief and suffering? Isn’t he suppose to be an emanation of a Buddha of Compassion or something? Is this compassion manifesting? I am not sure what to make up of it, but these people sure do not look or sound like criminals. Just because a few people who so happened to be Shugden hurt/harm some people, it doesn’t justify stereotyping and banning every single Shugden practitioner young and old and splitting families up like that? Sounds like the Nazi Holocaust all over again!

    Maybe it is those who are in power who are using and abusing HH the Dalai Lama’s good name? But then again why won’t His Holiness do something to stop these people? All His Holiness have to do is say tell them to stop harming SHugden people. Just because the have a different faith does not mean they should be discriminated.

  14. Everyone should have their basic human rights to practice whichever religion they choose. No one should be telling them what God they should believe in or pray to.

    Reading how a family that only wanted to be together and practice what was handed down in the family is divided and pressured to do what is perceived as the right way. The followers of the Dalai Lama should not do such unethical actions to cause so much suffering to their own people.

    The CTA cannot deny that there is no ban or discrimination. There are so much evidences around – photos of poster denying services to Shugdenpas. And, now these very many testimonials of the segregation. Very sad indeed.

    This reminds me of what the Dalai Lama said recently in India. You can read about it in this link -

    http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/india-only-place-where-religions-co-exist-despite-some-mischievous-people-dalai-lama-44514

    Wonder if the leadership are practicing what the native American Indians say of the early settlers “speak with fork tongues?” Can’t help but feel that the CTA are doing the same things.

  15. Yet again, religion is forced to play the monstrous role of Political Pawn. Buddhism stemming from Buddha’s teaching on Wisdom and Compassion, not Ignorance and Hate. From the gentlest and kindest religion, it has been turned into a religion of blindness and anger due to the illogical ban on enlightened Dorje Shugden. If it had been an advice, then why are CTA and Anti-Shugdenpas causing so much pain and suffering due to differences in practise. Even the Dalai Lama had been filmed telling the MONKS to evict those who practise Shugen, forcefully if need be. Such contradiction to his teachings on compassion and love!

    Having gone through the ravages of escaping Tibet to the safety of refugee camps accorded to them by India, Nepal, etc. the Tibetans-In-Exile should be helping each other out the hardship of living in a new unfamiliar country without the possessions left behind in Tibet. Usually when people had gone through suffering are more understanding of others’ sufferings. Even the street people of USA look out for each other but still allow each other breathing space. So why aren’t the Tibetans-In-Exile looking out for each other and respecting each other’s practises? Instead they create more sufferings on some trumped up accusations.

    CTA had better wake up to the tremendous amount of negative karma being created with all the pain inflicted on others with baseless reasons. The young are growing up to be sectarian, just as the history of USA, the lynching of the blacks. Luckily due the law now, Dendu had not faced more harm and injuries. I find that the Shugdenpas are the ones who really practise compassion as even when attacked, Dendu still shows his concern for his fellow Tibetans.

    May the Dalai Lama find his voice in compassion to lift all the sufferings by his people. May he manifest his true nature to lift the ban on enlightened Dorje Shugden. May all practitioners be allowed to practise without fear or threats.

  16. It’s really heartbreaking to know that many families were split & affected just because of the official ban on worshipping Dorje Shugden by Dalai Lama. Some families were forced to renounce one’s religion just to find belongings and acceptance by local community, while some chose to hold on to it which draws all the religious discriminations from society. We can never understand how difficult this could be for a family to face conflict with each other while living under one roof and at the same time receiving all the rejections from the society. This obviously shows that how powerful & influential it affects millions of people with just one official announcement from a renowned world leader. Hopefully with the official lift of ban on Dorje Shugden in future could really help these families to reunite and find the long lost peace in their community.

  17. In the country where I live, we believe in religion freedom are equal as human rights. And to some extend, religion is our private personal practice that do not need to declare to the public in order to be recognize by the community. But, this is not happen to refugees in India, who are Shugdenpas. Shock to learn from the cases mentioned that the Tibetan need to declare their religion to get the basic needs for themselves , e.g : going to the school!

    Many people do not know that how Dorje Shugden’s ban have separated families. All the while we only heard about Free Tibet. But, compare to the occupant of Chinese into Tibet, the Dorje Shugden’s ban have separated many families. But, the voices of was not heard due to the clever and cunning actions of the CTA to cover this incidents.

    I salute to those peoples who stood firm to protect the Lama Tsongkhapa lineage, who stood strong to believe in Dorje Shugden even though they are suffered because of this ban.

    May this ban lifted quick

  18. What will the all the people around the world and in Tibet do now? Dalai Lama says he is happy that Tibet is a part of China and should remain a part of China. So many Tibetans self-immolated for Tibet to be independent and now Dalai Lama did a 360 degree turn and says he wants to go back to Tibet and China and Tibet should be a part of China. So unbelievable. So many are angry and disappointed.

    Tibetans ready to be part of China: Dalai Lama
    Organised by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the event was a part of “Thank You India – 2018″ held by the Tibetan community across India to mark 60 years of its exile in the country.
    Indo-Asian News Service
    Bengaluru
    Tibetans are ready to be a part of China if guaranteed full rights to preserve their culture, the Dalai Lama said on Friday.
    “Tibetans are not asking for independence. We are okay with remaining with the People’s Republic of China, provided we have full rights to preserve our culture,” the 83-year-old spiritual leader said at “Thank You Karnataka” event here in the city.
    Organised by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the event was a part of “Thank You India – 2018″ held by the Tibetan community across India to mark 60 years of its exile in the country.
    “Several of Chinese citizens practicing Buddhism are keen on Tibetan Buddhism as it is considered scientific,” the Nobel laureate said.
    Born in Taktser hamlet in northeastern Tibet, the Dalai Lama was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso. He fled to India from Tibet after a failed uprising against the Chinese rule in 1959.
    China annexed Tibet in 1950, forcing thousands of Tibetans, including monks, to flee the mountain country and settle in India as refugees.
    Since then, India has been home to over 100,000 Tibetans majorly settled in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh among other states.
    https://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/india/tibetans-ready-to-be-part-of-china-dalai-lama/293109.html

    d

  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.

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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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