Why does Dalai Lama cover sexual abuse among his ranks?

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].



By: Magda v.d. Berg

Observers and supporters of the Tibetan situation can generally be divided into two camps. One camp holds the view that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a god king and everything he does is infallible. If someone associated with him does something wrong, illegal or even criminal, then the Dalai Lama himself is innocent and absolved of all responsibility – his good name and reputation are being exploited by individuals who do not have the Tibetan people’s best interests at heart.

The second camp holds the view that the Dalai Lama is an ordinary human being capable of making mistakes. In this case, people here believe the Tibetans are worthy of support because of what they perceive as China’s inhumane acts, and not because the Dalai Lama is perfect and infallible. Ironically enough, the Dalai Lama himself professes to be a member of this camp, saying that he is nothing more than ‘a simple monk’.

With either view, the Dalai Lama is always innocent no matter what happens around him and it is precisely this view that is presented in Misbruikslachtoffers willen dalai lama spreken in Nederland (“Abuse victims want to speak with Dalai Lama in the Netherlands”), recently published by the Dutch publication Nederlandse Omroep Stichting. The article seeks to hold someone responsible for the recent spate of sexual abuse in the Tibetan Buddhist community, but it stops short of blaming the Dalai Lama himself. Instead, it says that:

…the Dalai Lama is insufficiently aware of how Buddhist teachers use him to build an image of trustworthiness.

That is to say, the blame lies with the perpetrators of the abuse and it is also the fault of those surrounding the Dalai Lama, because they did not make him more aware of the situation sooner. How realistic however, is this view? Consider these questions:

  1. Is it possible that the Dalai Lama was ignorant? That is, he did not know his supporters were abusing women and that is why he did nothing about it? No, because the abuse was widespread and the accusations have been going on for decades, and not just a couple of months. At some point, someone must have told him that certain lamas were being accused of improper and inappropriate acts with their students, and he should have acted there and then.
  2. Is it possible the Dalai Lama was disempowered? That is, he knew his supporters were abusing women but could do nothing about it? No, because the Dalai Lama can issue diktats and proclamations banning entire religious practices like the worship of Dorje Shugden. Therefore it is very much within the Dalai Lama’s realm and capacity to speak up strongly against the abuse of women. He does not need anyone’s permission to speak.
  3. Is it possible that the Dalai Lama is innocent or naive? That is, he did not consider people may be taking advantage of him? No, because someone who is singlehandedly capable of keeping the Tibetan cause alive for 60 years, will know everything that is happening in every corner of his community, especially what is being done by prominent Tibetan lamas. Someone who is that politically-shrewd, who can galvanize support from all corners of the globe, will know that he is being used by teachers to “build an image of trustworthiness”.
  4. Is it possible that someone viewed as a Buddha, did not have the clairvoyance to know that people were stealing money, embezzling funds, murdering people and abusing women, and using their association with him to whitewash their crimes? Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhists view the Dalai Lama as Chenrezig. If people view the Dalai Lama as Chenrezig, then he definitely has clairvoyance. If he has clairvoyance, then he definitely knew about the abuse. And if he knew about the abuse, then he chose to do nothing about it. However, if people want to argue that the Dalai Lama is innocent and did not do anything because he did not know about it, then they are saying he does not have clairvoyance. If he does not have clairvoyance, therefore he cannot possibly be Chenrezig. Either the Dalai Lama is Chenrezig and thus possesses clairvoyance, or he is not. It cannot be both.

Everyone knows that as the topmost authority in the Tibetan community, there is nothing stopping the Dalai Lama from speaking up strongly against the abuses. With the imposition of the harsh ban against Dorje Shugden practice, the Dalai Lama has proven that he has no qualms about expressing his displeasure or imposing draconian measures against anything he manifests a dislike of. Thus the very fact that the Dalai Lama refused to distance himself from abusers like Sogyal, as the article mentions, until a written letter was published makes it clear that the Dalai Lama was aware of what was going on and chose to turn a blind eye until he was confronted with it and could not ignore it any longer.

Hence we arrive at a disturbing prospect – is it possible that the Dalai Lama knew about the sexual abuses all along and did not do anything because he supported the lamas’ actions? That is precisely what De dalai lama beschermt nu bijna misbruikers‘ (“The Dalai Lama now almost protects abusers”), also published by Nederlandse Omroep Stichting, posits. By appearing in photographs with them, or agreeing to speak at their events, the Dalai Lama is in fact endorsing their behavior to the detriment of the unsuspecting public, risking their safety and spiritual practice.

Buddhist author Rob Hogendoorn is in agreement about this. Interviewed as part of Anna Mees and Bas de Vries’s article, Hogendoorn says:

If he [the Dalai Lama] speaks too clearly on this subject, he runs the risk of division among his own people

If Hogendoorn’s summation is accurate, then it means the Dalai Lama is aware of the abuse and is unwilling or unable to do anything about the situation. But how is this an indictment of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA; Tibetan leadership in Dharamsala)? Just like the Dalai Lama, the CTA has also been privy to the knowledge that some Tibetan lamas have been exploiting their positions in order to sexually abuse their students, and therefore they have been as equally unwilling and inactive as the Dalai Lama in dealing with this.

Hollywood actor Richard Gere with not one, but two lamas accused of sexual misconduct (Gangten Tulku and Sogyal Rinpoche).

The CTA does not need the Dalai Lama’s approval to sanction these perpetrators; in remaining silent and allowing the abuse to continue, they are as equally complicit as those who appear in photographs next to the abusers. If the CTA is unwilling to sanction the abusers then at the very least they should not encourage the Dalai Lama to befriend these sex offenders; the CTA does not need to push the Dalai Lama in the direction of these abusers and sully his name by associating with them, all for the sake of financial contributions to the Tibetan administration. The CTA, in effect, compromised what is right, for what they found to be financially lucrative.

It is without doubt deeply incongruous and hypocritical to ban the allegedly ‘bad’ Dorje Shugden practice, while at the same time supporting a litany of clearly wicked so-called ‘spiritual’ figures who harm spiritual-seekers and damage the Dharma. Is it therefore worth supporting the Dorje Shugden ban, when it is being enforced by the very same people who made excuses for and continue to endorsed sex offenders? The CTA should also consider this – when they ignored, and even supported, these sex offenders they never thought that it would come back to haunt them. They never thought that the media would call them out on their silence, and find them complicit in the crime through their refusal to do anything. Continuing with the Dorje Shugden ban, the CTA should consider that it is only a matter of time before the media and the public will turn against them too.

It is high time the Tibetan leadership steps up. For 60 years, the entire survival of the Tibetan people has rested on the Dalai Lama’s reputation but with each news report that considers the possibility that the Dalai Lama is protecting these abusers, more and more are developing an unflattering view of the Dalai Lama, whether rightly or wrongly so. When such a view takes root, it will affect the Dalai Lama’s ability to foster and raise support for the Tibetan cause and community. This alone should be enough to motivate the Tibetan leadership to mature their democracy and take control of the situation before it is too late. Maturing their democracy means endorsing people for their merits and capabilities, instead of endorsing people who are politically correct or financially lucrative. It means doing what is good and right, and not what is easy and convenient. It means removing factors like the Dorje Shugden ban that divide the community, as well as respecting differences and people’s right to make their own decisions even if it does not necessarily agree with the leadership.


[NOS] Misbruikslachtoffers willen
dalai lama spreken in Nederland

Original Dutch version (Source: https://nos.nl/artikel/2249800-misbruikslachtoffers-willen-dalai-lama-spreken-in-nederland.html)


English Translation: Abuse victims want to speak
with Dalai Lama in the Netherlands

English translation (Source: https://nos.nl/artikel/2249800-misbruikslachtoffers-willen-dalai-lama-spreken-in-nederland.html)


[NOS] ‘De dalai lama beschermt
nu bijna misbruikers’

Original Dutch version (Source: https://nos.nl/artikel/2249831-de-dalai-lama-beschermt-nu-bijna-misbruikers.html)


English Translation: ‘The Dalai Lama now
almost protects abusers’

English translation (Source: https://nos.nl/artikel/2249831-de-dalai-lama-beschermt-nu-bijna-misbruikers.html)


[Channel NewsAsia] Dalai Lama to meet sex
abuse victims in The Netherlands

It appears that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has agreed to a “short audience” for the victims of sexual abuse. What can the Dalai Lama say during this “short audience” that will really help the victims, when he will not do anything else beyond that? He will not speak up against their abusers, he will not punish them and he will not excommunicate them from the Tibetan and Tibetan Buddhist community. His secretary has already made it very clear – while the Dalai Lama disagrees with these lamas’ actions, he as the head of the Tibetan people has absolved himself of all responsibility for their behavior, despite having endorsed them for decades.

The fact is that the Dalai Lama is only speaking up against the sexual abuse because he now has public pressure to do so. Just as the current Pope was finally forced to address similar issues in the Catholic Church after decades of successive Popes ignoring them, the Dalai Lama now has no choice but to say something. Had these crimes not come to light, they would have been ignored and swept under the rug, just as so many other troubling issues within the Tibetan community tend to be treated. Nevertheless, while the Dalai Lama has said something, he is apparently not going to do anything about it.

In other words, in consideration of the very serious damage inflicted on the victims by those he empowered, all the Dalai Lama seems to offer is a token denouncement. This itself is void of any power and this meek censure appears to be designed more for his public relations than to remedy the situation and prevent further abuses. This is all according to the Dalai Lama’s secretary Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, who says the Dalai Lama will not do anything about these abusers. Instead, he places that heavy mantle on the victims. Is it fair that the victims, who have already suffered so much, are the only ones who should fight to hold the sex abusers accountable for their actions?

Surely the man whom the Tibetan leadership positions as the head of Tibetan Buddhism, should be stepping in to sanction the inappropriate, highly improper and downright illegal behavior of these teachers. After all, the Tibetan leadership falsely promotes the Dalai Lama as the head of Tibetan Buddhism in order to justify his ban against Dorje Shugden; that is, according to the CTA, the Dalai Lama as the so-called head is apparently well within his rights to punish people for practicing Dorje Shugden. But while the Dalai Lama speaks up incessantly against Dorje Shugden, and is very strict in enforcing segregation against Dorje Shugden practitioners, the Dalai Lama’s secretary has now made it clear he will not be doing the same against the sex offenders.

So which one is it? Is the Dalai Lama the CTA-positioned head of Tibetan Buddhism, and therefore somehow justified to ban Dorje Shugden? If so, then he also has the right to sanction and punish the abusers, but is now choosing not to do so. And if he will not sanction the abusers because it is not his place to do so, how then does he have any right to ban Dorje Shugden?

In refusing to strongly denounce the perpetrators of the abuse, and refusing to speak up against them and discourage people from going to seek spiritual guidance from them, the Dalai Lama is in effect perpetrating the destruction of Buddhism by endorsing and ignoring sexual abuse. The question now is not what the Dalai Lama will say about these sexual abusers, but what will he do about them. What will the Dalai Lama do about these sexual abusers?

Click to enlarge (Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/dalai-lama-to-meet-sex-abuse-victims-in-the-netherlands-10719754)


[DutchNews.nl] Dalai Lama, visiting the Netherlands, gets tough with abusers

Unbelievably, this was the actual advice given by the Dalai Lama’s secretary on how to deal with the abuse:

If we are feeling uneasy in the presence of a teacher it is best to distance oneself. Rather than talk to other students sharply or divisively it is best to softly move away’, NOS quotes the secretary’s earlier advice.

This statement is essentially victim-blaming by the Tibetan leadership, saying that it is the fault of the students rather than their abusers. Instead of taking any serious action against the perpetrators, they condemn the victims. Apparently, there is no onus on the so-called lamas to control their desires and actually practice the Dharma they preach and make money off of.

It is obvious to everyone – the CTA are trying to avoid confronting the bad guys in order to protect the financial benefits they derive from a lucrative relationship with these abusers. But the Westerners are not naïve and ignorant, and they can see clearly what is happening. It is obvious the Dalai Lama wants to remove himself from any responsibility or accountability, although it is clear that he endorsed the very lamas who were criminals, thereby enabling and emboldening them to continue with their criminal acts.

The CTA should post the lamas’ faces on their website and condemn these abusers in the same way they condemn Dorje Shugden practitioners. Why can the CTA segregate Dorje Shugden practitioners, although the practice only affects Buddhists, but refuse to do the same for people who do something that is universally reviled? So while the Dalai Lama’s secretary says that the Dalai Lama condemns these acts, it is all just words and no action. The CTA should actually issue statements against the abusive lamas, and denounce their actions strongly, firmly and without doubt. They should accompany these statements with actual sanctions instead of playing messenger, carrying messages back and forth with no opinion of their own.

Click to enlarge (Source: https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2018/09/dalai-lama-visiting-the-netherlands-gets-tough-with-abusers/)


[BBC] Dalai Lama meets alleged abuse victims

It turns out that in the end, the Dalai Lama did meet with four people representing a group of sexual abuse victims. When they tried to present their case to the Dalai Lama however, he was disappointingly not very “receptive” and at the beginning, did not even want to hear about them. Is this how someone who is promoted as the epitome of compassion should act with traumatized victims? It is indeed troubling that the Dalai Lama needs to be convinced to listen to the worries and requests of victims, while he happily meets with and attends the events of sexual abusers.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45521075. Click to enlarge.


[ABC] Dalai Lama meets alleged victims
of abuse by Buddhist gurus

The four people who met with the Dalai Lama to ask for his support in their fight for justice left their audience with mixed reactions. After the meeting, the Dalai Lama did not meet with reporters and his office did not immediately respond to requests for a comment. This is typical of the Tibetan leadership who would prefer to sweep difficult issues under the rug. Surely it would be better for the Dalai Lama and his office to issue a statement regarding the meeting, rather than allow the tone and outcome of the meeting to be set by victims who were disappointed upon meeting him. The Tibetan leadership would rather shirk and avoid responsibility, than think about alleviating the suffering of these traumatized people.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/dalai-lama-meets-alleged-victims-abuse-buddhist-gurus-57820565. Click to enlarge.


[Hindustan Times] ‘Nothing new’: Dalai Lama says he knew about sex abuse by Buddhist teachers

Incredibly, the Dalai Lama admits that he knew about the abuses all along – for the past 25 years in fact – but did nothing. This must be a troubling revelation for the victims of sexual abuse, who relied on the Dalai Lama’s word and reputation as a measure of who they can and should not trust.

And exactly who it is did the Dalai Lama hear about 25 years ago was abusing their students, and did he anything about it? If he did not act against it, then that is a quarter of a century of the Dalai Lama allowing these perpetrators to continue their crimes unchecked and without consequence. This, combined with the Hindustan Times interview, only reaffirms the conclusion of the victims’ meeting with him – the Dalai Lama will not help them, and is not interested in helping them.

Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/dalai-lama-i-knew-of-sex-abuse-by-buddhist-teachers-since-1990s/story-238DdgDwzQYU5rDfTSgl8M.html. Click to enlarge.


[Inquirer News] Dalai Lama knew sex abuse by
Buddhist teachers; it’s ‘nothing new’

Another article confirms that the Dalai Lama knew about these abuses all along and chose to do nothing about it. Where is his compassion for these victims of abuse? Who should these victims go to for help, if not the Dalai Lama who often acts as the head of all Tibetan Buddhists?

And once again, the Dalai Lama pushes the responsibility on to others, saying that “religious leaders should pay more attention”. But is the Dalai Lama himself not a religious leader? In fact, the Tibetan leadership positions him as the head of all Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, although this is not necessarily the case.

So how come, as the supposed head, the Dalai Lama is not paying attention and doing something? How can he ask others to ‘pay more attention’ when he himself is not doing so? Why does the Dalai Lama devolve the responsibility onto other religious leaders? Does he not consider himself a religious leader? If that is the case, then perhaps the Dalai Lama should stop getting involved with religious issues in the Tibetan community and focus only on his own personal matters.

Source: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1032920/dalai-lama-knew-sex-abuse-by-buddhist-teachers-its-nothing-new. Click to enlarge.


[Quartz] “You have given me ammunition,” the
Dalai Lama tells Buddhist abuse victims

While this article attempts to paint the Dalai Lama in a more positive and proactive light, it also states the fact that the Dalai Lama knew about the abuses for 25 years and did nothing about it. It also attempts excuse the fact the Dalai Lama did nothing before by saying he has “ammunition” now.

The truth is that as the God-king of Tibet whose word is law, the Dalai Lama never needed “ammunition” to act. And even if that were the case, these allegations were reaffirmed in 2011 when Sogyal Rinpoche was exposed in a documentary as being a sexual abuser. Was that not enough so-called “ammunition” then?

Now, after a 20-minute meeting with some of the victims, the Dalai Lama has agreed to their demands but it remains to be seen whether or not he will actually fulfill them. After all, the meeting was a very short one considering the gravity of the topic they were discussing, and the Dalai Lama has given speeches longer than the meeting he had with the victims.

Source: https://qz.com/1392837/the-dalai-lama-to-buddhist-sex-abuse-victims-you-have-given-me-ammunition/. Click to enlarge.

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55 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Dear Tibetan government-in-exile (Dharamsala),

    Sharmapa Rinpoche is the highest authority in the Karma Kagyu after Karmapa. By age-old tradition, Sharmapa is the one that confirms the real incarnation of Karmapa. He recognized Thaye Dorje as the genuine Karmapa. But Dalai Lama endorsed Orgyen Trinley as the real Karmapa. Dalai Lama is a great lama but there has never been a tradition of him recognizing a Karmapa.

    Both ‘Karmapas’ have big followings in and out of Tibet. So which one should we follow? We have to follow the genuine Karmapa. If we follow the fake one, we will get fake teachings, fake lineage and no results. We can even take rebirth in the lower realms.

    Only the Tibetan leaders can tell us which is the real Karmapa. You have told us which one is the real Panchen Lama. We follow the Panchen of your choosing. Since then we have condemned China and condemned the fake Panchen Lama. Now it is the same situation with Karmapa. We have denounced the fake Karmapa and ask him to step down. He is destroying the Karma Kagyu Lineage.

    This issue has torn the Karma Kagyu sect in half. There are many who are so confused and some gave up Tibetan Buddhism altogether because of this. We must solve the confusion. This does not look good for the Tibetan government in exile because the confusion was started by Tibetan government. I support Dalai Lama and Tibetan government. But so many of us need to know the real Karmapa already. Don’t remain silent. Which one is the real Karmapa.

    Tibetan government in exile, you have created two Gelugs (Pro-Dorje Shugden and against), you have created two Panchen Rinpoches, two Karmapas, two Dromo Geshe Rinpoches, two Kundeling Rinpoches and so on. When are you going to solve all the confusion. You are destroying Tibetan Buddhism.

  2. Contemplate this:

    Indian journalists sound desperate when they talk about terrorist attacks on India. As this article correctly states, there is little that India can do to address terrorism as they seem to operate from Pakistan. To deal with the terrorists, Indians will have to literally attack Pakistan which it cannot do.

    Well, there is something India can do which is to stop Dharamsala’s terrorist activities against China being executed from Indian soil. The Tibetans have been attacking China for decades, yet they say they wish to return to Tibet. How do you return to a place you constantly criticize? The Dalai Lama is literally begging China to allow him to visit the Five Peaks of Manjushri pilgrimage site in China and also his birthplace in Amdo, Tibet. But if the Dalai Lama keeps criticizing China, why would they sit at the bargaining table with him? India allows for all of this to happen on Indian soil, so that would irritate China.

    Yet India wants concessions from China on the terrorist issue. Meanwhile, Beijing equates Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed to India supporting the Dalai Lama against China for five decades now. Furthermore, India wants China to speak up against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Masood Azhar. But India does not speak up against Dalai Lama. Whether the world thinks the Dalai Lama is the good guy or not, he is a thorn in China’s side so anyone that supports him is not supporting China. Similar to the situation, LeT’s Hafiz Saeed and JeM’s Masood Azhar are a thorn in India’s side but they do not bother China and her allies, so why should China do anything about them? If India does something on the Dalai Lama, then it would be fair to ask China to do something about their support of Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar. Simple equation.

    These reports are really bare-faced hypocrisy. It implies one nation is helpless against terrorists because the terrorists camp out in another country. But that did not stop the US from heavily bombing Iraq on the basis that it was harboring terrorists. The US did not hesitate to overthrow the government and murder its leader Saddam Hussein.

    It is also very hypocritical that the same journalists who are outraged at China’s annexation of Tibet are quiet about Israel’s annexation of Palestine.

    It is interesting to note that most terrorist attacks are aimed at the US and her allies. Everyone conveniently forgets that the US has been throwing their weight around for decades and can even determine which leader they want in other countries.
    Back to India – if China can convince North Korea to have détente with the US, China can similarly help India with the JeM. India simply has to give up the Tibet card. The article is also a one-sided opinion piece because India faces as many terrorist threats from Bangladesh, with just as many terrorist camps, but because Bangladesh is not China, their involvement is not mentioned.

    India is a great country. China and India as friends will be able to influence the globe literally economically and, eventually, militarily. But India has to play fair. By supporting the Dalai Lama, India will get nothing and furthermore, it will be a stumbling block to China’s 1.4 billion people becoming friends with India’s 1.3 billion people.

    The Dalai Lama has to be compassionate and stop speaking against China because he has to consider the difficulty he places India in as his host. Each time he criticizes and allows his refugees to protest against China and ask for western support, it makes China look bad. So if the Dalai Lama wants China and India to become closer and benefit each other economically then he has to be silent on this already.

    The Diplomat’s Prarthana Basu sums it up very well by saying in the article below that “Now with another terrorist attack infuriating India’s populace, the mystery behind this Chinese silence remains unsolved. While most attribute China’s apparent silence as a favor to Pakistan, as both continue to maintain their “all-weather friendship,” others argue that China holds India responsible for granting political asylum to the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, whom Beijing equates to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed.”

  3. Not only the Dalai Lama is covering up the sex abuser. He seems not paying much respect to women too. Lately, the Dalai Lama insist again that if his successor is a woman she has to be attractive and beautiful? Is woman just an object to him?

    As a Buddhist, we are taught not to discriminate people or label people, we see them as who they are and their qualities is more important that appearance. But the Dalai Lama does not seem to walk the talk. How come? He is a Buddhist teacher, it just sound so hypocritical.

    The statement is not going to receive positive responds, people will start to doubt the Dalai Lama. I hope this is not because of his age.

  4. So sad. Thanks for bringing the actions of these people to light
    It seems the holiness Dalai Lama has little compassion for the abused.

  5. Gosh this article aged well considering the news today thank you. I have a feeling this article will be referenced

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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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