It has been 12 years since I first heard Dorje Shugden’s name. Under normal circumstances it’s best not to talk about protectors openly. This is because the sanctity and potency of the protectors would be compromised, and you don’t really want their assistance to wane. Best kept in silence, they serve as fuel on the path to enlightenment.
In monasteries, the protectors’ shrines are closed, only to be opened on special occasions. This is how one would treat their guardian angel, for one to secretly cherish them helps to fulfill one’s commitment.
Let’s have a look at a non-Buddhist example. Elie Wiesel, the Jewish writer, said that his thoughts upon waking are always about war and how it could be possible for mankind to be so cruel. He used the thought of suffering as an anchor in his mind. In this way the suffering during the war provided him with the inspiration to work relentlessly to gain insight and write, with the hope of preventing the human race from making the same mistakes again.
Buddhists too are worried about human suffering and work towards enlightenment.
Now, a person could try to be a good Buddhist but they could easily be distracted by mundane things that are likely to take them off track. Not every Buddhist wakes up with the thought to relieve mankind of suffering and so most people need a special wake up call. My teacher’s teachers used the thought of Dorje Shugden to keep their minds on the right track, as did the Dalai Lama’s teachers, and many more in the Gelug and Sakya lineages.
Buddhists generally don’t say one lineage is better than the other. However we do place maximum trust in our own teachers, while at the same time always examining the purity of their words. Their words shouldn’t be discredited so easily and should be highly respected. This is because they are seen to be the Buddha’s own words meant for us in our present situation.
The wisdom they carry has the power to bring us to enlightenment and end suffering. If you find you can’t trust your teacher’s own words, either your teacher is not good and does not have a Buddhist motivation, or you are having trouble understanding what Buddhism is all about.
The deity Dorje Shugden is said to be the spirit of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, a famous enlightened High Lama who was a contemporary of the Fifth Dalai Lama. He turned out to be more famous than the Dalai Lama himself, which incited jealousy amongst the Dalai Lama’s entourage. Eventually, he was brutally murdered by some of the servants of the fifth Dalai Lama while he was away from home. Being enlightened, the Lama had to help his assailants to kill himself. Being absolutely pure, their swords and spears could not hurt him but produced extra mystical eyes on his body.
He told his assailants he had a little leftover negative karma that could be used to kill him in a very violent way. Upon his death, this made him assume the form of a powerful protector. There are other versions of this story but this is the one that the present Dalai Lama himself must have heard from his teachers who initiated him into the practice.
Now, he says that he made a mistake for relying on this deity. His criticism of his own teachers comes conveniently at a time when they have all passed away. So, now that others who share the same teachers disgree with the Dalai Lama’s stance on Dorje Shugden. In response, some of the Dalai Lama’s supporters accuse his opponents to be supported by China.
“The Shugden and the Chinese are obviously allies,” the Tibetan prime minister in exile Samdhong Rinpoche said in a recent interview with France 24 TV. “Their cult all over the world is being financed by the Chinese.”
The Dalai Lama says he has investigated this matter to the best of his ability. However, in the end this was his decision: Ban the ghost.