The Tibetan-Government-In-Exile, also known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), likes to blame Dorje Shugden for the failure of the Tibetan cause. In fact, they insist that Dorje Shugden practitioners are the reason why the Tibetan dream of returning to their homeland has thus far not materialized.
It has been almost 20 years of these baseless allegations and not once has the CTA provided any evidence to support such claims. And that is simply because they are not true. Upon closer examination, it is clear that, instead of Dorje Shugden, it is the injurious activities carried out by the Dalai Lama and the CTA for two decades that have undermined the Tibetan cause.
Here are seven reasons why the CTA’s Dorje Shugden ban has harmed and damaged the Tibetan people’s dream of living as free people:
1. The Shugden ban highlights the hollowness of CTA’s pursuit of democracy
How can the CTA expect democratic nations and the world public to take the Tibetan quest seriously when it is clear that the CTA does not value and therefore does not observe even the most basic of democratic principles such as due process and protection of basic human rights?
For example, on the one hand the CTA professes to be a democratic government with a Constitution that protects the rights of the people. And yet, the same government does not hesitate to use state instruments meant to uphold the law, to instead break it. The CTA is not shy to boast of resolutions it has passed that blatantly victimize a community of people simply because of their religion that the CTA seeks to scapegoat.
To make matters worse, the CTA demonstrated no hesitation in taking actions that clearly breach the constitutional and human rights of Dorje Shugden practitioners. An undeniable example is when the CTA published, on its official website, a list (complete with faces, names, personal details and addresses) of those who spoke against such persecution, whom the CTA has arbitrarily identified as traitors to the public at large.
Firstly, those who were listed were never found guilty as “traitors” by any court of law. Secondly, yet again not a shred of evidence was provided when the CTA made such damning allegations public. Last but not least, those unfairly condemned in the CTA’s list don’t even have a proper forum to defend themselves against such serious allegations. They are denied their rights as well as the opportunity to clear their names.
Then, there are the numerous campaigns initiated either independently by the CTA or in concert with other Tibetan Non-Government-Organizations (NGOs) to outright criminalize the practice of Dorje Shugden despite maintaining that there is no ban on this practice. As opposed to ensuring that citizens do not take matters into their own hands and advocating for citizens to respect as well as observe the rule of law (like any proper democratic leadership would do), the CTA actually approves and instigates Tibetan citizens to punish Dorje Shugden practitioners for failing to toe the line with regards to the Dalai Lama’s stand against Dorje Shugden. To illustrate, one need only look at the speeches, publications and web postings by the CTA in relation to Dorje Shugden practitioners.
Kanshag’s Statement Concerning the Cult of Dogyal/Shugden: http://tibet.net/2014/06/statement-concerning-the-cult-of-dogyalshugden/
CTA parliamentary resolutions in respect of Dogyal/Shugden: http://tibet.net/dolgyal-shugden/#panel-pxJ7BWeLwXc
It is foolish of the CTA to expect to get away with this travesty against human rights in the information age. This infringement is what has stopped the world from committing fully to the Tibetan cause.
2. The CTA instills hatred that segregates the people further
History is witness that internal conflict within a nation that segregates the people has always been detrimental to any goal that nation seeks to achieve.
Looking at the situation to date, the persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners has only created more schism and animosity amongst fellow Tibetans. It also brought about serious consequences in the Tibetan community, as Tibetans thought to be associated with Dorje Shugden were heavily discriminated against, from being denied basic amenities and crucial services such as healthcare, to being constantly harassed and attacked. Even the monastic communities were not spared resulting in a split between those renouncing the practice of Dorje Shugden and those who did not.
In dividing the Tibetan people in exile, the CTA weakens its own foundation. Thus, the ban on Dorje Shugden in effect;
- Creates more problems for Dorje Shugden worshippers who form a significant percentage of the population;
- Marginalizes Dorje Shugden practitioners which in turn dissipates the critical mass required to drive a common vision; and
- Robs the Tibetan leadership of trust from its own people
The divisive policies of the CTA fly in the face of the Dalai Lama’s image as a peacemaker who promotes harmony, unity and tolerance. Indeed, this is what the Dalai Lama preaches everywhere he goes to give talks and lectures.
This contradiction calls into question the integrity of the Dalai Lama’s message to the world. If he believes in the message, why not compel his own government to be an example, especially seeing that what the Dalai Lama says becomes law to the Tibetan government.
3. The Shugden persecutions created a brain and character drain
The baseless and false allegations by the CTA over the years have primarily resulted in a divide in the Tibetan community, with animosity and hostility flourishing against Dorje Shugden practitioners. Such hostile living conditions in the Tibetan diaspora has forced Dorje Shugden practitioners to either go abroad or take shelter in safer communities. Either way, their ability to contribute to the Tibetan cause is effectively shackled, if not robbed away entirely.
To date, those who propitiate Dorje Shugden or those speaking up against the ban are automatically cut off from participation in Tibetan society as a whole, not to mention any government-related matters by the CTA. This in effect is tantamount to the CTA denying itself the ability to capitalize on the resources and capabilities of those they have intentionally marginalized.
Dorje Shugden practitioners who are loyal, committed and have the courage to face down persecutions and bodily harm, and who have not succumbed to pressure or enticements are precisely the type of people anyone should have on their side in any cause. Instead they are driven away.
This is not to mention the high lamas, Geshes and scholars who are important centers of influence and who would have been instrumental in uniting the Tibetan people behind a single cause. Instead, Dorje Shugden lamas are not only discouraged but forcibly removed from participation in the Tibetan dream.
4. The CTA’s persecution of Shugden frustrates efforts in reaching out to China for furtherance of the cause
The simple fact is this – the fulfilment of the Tibetan people’s dream requires the willing cooperation of China. Thus, the CTA must seek to befriend and rebuild a relationship with China. And if China is to be induced and coaxed into agreeing to favorable terms for the Tibetans to live as free or truly autonomous people, then it does not make sense for the CTA to keep referring to the Dorje Shugden practice as a political tool by the Chinese to undermine the Tibetan leadership.
How can the CTA expect China to come to the negotiation table if it keeps attacking China and keeps instigating sentiments that China views as splittist in nature? Whenever the CTA repeats its baseless allegations against Dorje Shugden practitioners to explain the failure of the Tibetan cause, they are continuously painting China as a sinister government abusing its power and using its money unscrupulously to get what it wants in the eyes of both Tibetans and the world at large. Isn’t it then logically foreseeable that such actions would frustrate the CTA’s efforts in reaching out to China for furtherance of the Tibetan cause?
In addition, in forcibly imposing an illegal and groundless religious ban that has severely split the people, the CTA confirms China’s concerns that the Dalai Lama is a dangerous splittist. China views the CTA’s Shugden ban as a way to split the Tibetan people in the Tibet Autonomous Region and create problems for the Chinese government.
5. Actions such as imposing a religious ban are resulting in diminishing support
The funding supporting the Tibetan cause is derived from the financial aid and donations from generous donors ranging from Tibetans who have migrated and are doing well for themselves to well-meaning non-Tibetans to western organisations and governments as well as other governments and organisations.
In recent times, many are beginning to see that the persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners (which encompasses non-Tibetans as well) is not an isolated issue pertaining to the Tibetans only but rather an affront to overall religious and civil liberties. Examples of such changed approaches include the findings and questions raised by Maura Moynihan (daughter of United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan) and Dana Rohrabacher, a Congressman of the United States of America.
Moynihan and Rohrabacher are only two examples of supporters who have worked out the CTA’s ploy. There are many others who have since seen through the CTA’s facade.
In imposing an illegal ban, the CTA isolates themselves from;
- Powerful sponsors such as Moynihan, Rohrabacher and many others who have supported the Tibetan people because they believed in the Tibetan wish for democracy;
- Influential Shugden practitioners abroad who are not Tibetan but nevertheless tasted the hatred that has resulted from the CTA’s anti-Shugden propaganda; and
- The millions who have no part in the controversy but see the importance of religious freedom.
In a nutshell, atrocities against the basic rights of the people such as the Shugden ban expose the Tibetan leadership as being false in their pursuit of democracy. This in turn dislodges powerful support from the West.
6. The Shugden conflict weakens the Tibetan myth and hence support
The most potent product that the Tibetans can export is the sanctity of Tibetan Buddhism. It is Tibetan Buddhism more so than their culture, music and literature (of which there are few) that has drawn Westerners and people of the world to fall in love with the Tibetan people.
In imposing the ban,
- The CTA has effectively cracked the perfect image of Tibetan Buddhism and distorted the dream of Shangrila.
- The CTA calls into question the entire pantheon of Tibetan Buddhist deities. If a 400-year-old practice can be found wrong, and if highly attained masters are declared mistaken or negligent, how is anyone to trust the rest of the Tibetan Buddhist practices that could very well be declared wrong or outlawed next year by the Dalai Lama?
- Buddhists are sent into conflict with other Buddhists.
Those outside looking in become put off and the appeal wanes. And when the appeal of Tibetan Buddhism wanes, interest in the Tibetan cause similarly diminishes.
The ban imposed by the CTA is now the ‘brand’ of the Tibetan people. Previously, the mere utterance of the word ‘Tibet’ conjured up the Shangrila image but today, the Tibetan people are regarded as angst-filled, angry and extremely political people. As it is, cross-border conflict defined the Tibetan people and news of civil unrest predicated upon the Shugden ban added to the bad image.
The unlawful and wicked ban was the feather that broke the Tibetan romance.
7. What karma?
You reap what you sow. If only negative karma is generated, it would be illogical to expect positive results.
What is clear is that the persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners has only brought about much confusion, pain and suffering amongst thousands of Tibetans, Dorje Shugden practitioners and non-practitioners alike. To name but a few, such persecution has;
- Created schism amongst the sangha which is a heinous crime as warned by Lord Buddha.
- Forced many to disrobe as some monks find they cannot continue due to undue pressure or loss of sponsorship due to rumors that they are not good monks.
- Driven many people to abandon their guru which in Tibetan Buddhism is the bedrock of all attainments and progress
- Whipped crowds into angry mobs that have attacked sangha, raided monasteries, destroyed holy items and disparaged holy lamas.
- Created unrest amongst Buddhists and distracted them from their practice for 20 years now.
How can any of this yield good karma? And without good karma, how can the community of Tibetan people expect good days ahead, if as a community they have participated directly or indirectly in actions that contravene the Buddha’s teachings?
The Buddha himself has said that no one has the power to override the force of karma and so, even if the Dalai Lama is Avalokiteshvara, he cannot do much, not even with the collective power of all the high lamas of every lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The negative karma from the destructive ban is simply too heavy.
After half a century of these shenanigans, the world has wised up to the CTA’s true character. The CTA has wrongly blamed Dorje Shugden for their woes and it is incredible that a supposedly liberal and progressive ‘government’ would blame their failures on superstition. But this too reflects the character of the CTA.