About the Dalai Lama’s Advice Concerning the Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden
The Dalai Lama has given three main reasons for banning the practice of Dorje Shugden. Before we reply to those, we should point out that although he says he “strongly discourages” it, there is an increasing body of evidence to show he has banned it. Witness the ID card – Tibetans are forced to swear that they will never venerate Dorje Shugden nor have any spiritual or material relationship with those who do or they will not be given an ID card (effectively making them refugees amongst refugees). The resulting ostracism and denial of basic human rights such as food, shelter and companionship has created great suffering in the Tibetan community and is clearly documented.
Even if the Dalai Lama’s views on the practice were reasonable or true, which they are not, it would still be unacceptable to force these views on others in this way, using his political power to impose his religious will. Imagine if any other leader forced this signature campaign on Muslims, or Jews, or Shamans? There would be a huge outcry and people would be reminded of Germany in the 1930s.
As for his reasons, they are refuted in detail by the words and experiences of thousands and thousands of practitioners past and present – for example, see www.WesternShugdenSociety.org and www.WisdomBuddhaDorjeShugden.org. In particular, look at the article Replies to the three reasons for the Dalai Lama’s ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden.
Here, we answer them briefly.
- “The danger of Tibetan Buddhism degenerating into a form of spirit worship”. The practice of Dorje Shugden is not spirit worship because Dorje Shugden is viewed as the embodiment of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, arisen in this form to protect Buddha’s teachings. All Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden practitioners, including the Dalai Lama’s teachers and millions of Gelugpa Lamas and practitioners of past generations, are actual Buddhists who practice the complete Dharma of Buddha Shakyamuni. It is untrue, patronizing and insulting to say that they are not. It would also mean that the teachings that the Dalai Lama himself is giving are non-Buddhist as these come from his teachers who were Dorje Shugden practitioners
- “Obstacles to the emergence of genuine non-sectarianism”. The Dalai Lama allegedly promotes interreligious understanding and harmony, just so long as Dorje Shugden practitioners can be the exception to the rule. Even today, for example, everyone can attend the “formal religious teachings” by the Dalai Lama – come along if you are a Muslim, a Catholic, or an actual spirit worshipper, everyone is welcome! But a Buddhist Dorje Shugden practitioner? You will be asked to leave. That the Dalai Lama says he is a man of peace and tolerance makes this Buddhist apartheid even more intolerable. There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that it is Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden practitioners who promote sectarianism; they are simply asking for the freedom to practice their ancient tradition without being persecuted and shunned. The Dalai Lama hides behind his celebrity status and blames the victim for the crime.
- “Especially inappropriate in relation to the well-being of Tibetan society”. Imagine if President Bush were to declare that someone’s spiritual practice was affecting his life and ability to govern and so it should be stopped? He would be considered dictatorial and idiotic. The idea that those who do their peaceful prayers to Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden for the protection of positive minds of compassion and wisdom is somehow detrimental to the government headed by the Dalai Lama and therefore should be stopped is likewise dictatorial and embarrassingly superstitious. The Dalai Lama is now 73 years old, in fine health, and he gave up the idea of Tibetan independence years ago. Scapegoating Dorje Shugden practitioners for the failure to win a free Tibet is a political ploy and, if it were not the popular charismatic Dalai Lama who was saying these things, this would have been laughed out of court a long time ago. It is not Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden practitioners who are destroying Tibetan unity, it is the Dalai Lama’s controversial and divisive actions of splitting families and communities down the middle.
The Dalai Lama has urged people to consider this and “to act accordingly”. We are confident that if you do take the time to critically examine his reasons and do some research, you will agree that they make no sense and that, even if they did, he has no right to impose these religious views on others through political processes such as the ID card.
Why would so many Tibetan and Western practitioners take all this time and expense to travel to demonstrate against one of the world’s most famous religious leaders if there were not some very urgent and compelling reason for doing so? We are here because there is a major problem in Tibetan exile society and it is just going to get worse if we do not have the courage to point it out.
For 30 years, Lamas and practitioners have tried to communicate with the Dalai Lama on this subject, and for 30 years he has either ignored or insulted us.
To say we are demonstrating because we are being paid by the Chinese is a lazy and laughable excuse – firstly because there is not a shred of evidence for this because it is not remotely true; and secondly because why would employed, educated and free citizens need Chinese money to make their voices heard?