It’s sad to report that Dorje Shugden practitioners are still being discriminated against by the Tibetan public. The evidence comes from a recent blog post, ‘The Bad Boys of Buddhism’. The writer is J.D. Lewis, an accomplished American actor and playwright who has appeared in popular TV programmes as ‘Friends’ and ‘Suddenly Susan’. He has also established a well-respected actors coaching school called ‘The Actor’s Lab’ in Los Angeles. This report is particularly of note because it is objectively reported by a non-Dorje Shugden practitioner who is relating his observations and experience without bias. As J.D. Lewis is a celebrity, his opinions will also highlight this issue to the attention of many.
J.D reports discrimination in the shops around Shar Gaden monastery:
In this isolated area of south-central India where an entire community of monks live, there is a great divide. As I walk down the street with my friend, Losang Tenpa, or as the boys and I call him, Monk Duke, he is glared at and in certain shops, they even refuse to serve him.
J.D. continues later:
Over the last few years, words have been spoken, rocks have been thrown and most disturbing, great walls built around each of the many monasteries in the area. What’s wild is that, after the split, the properties here were allotted in a strange way so that some of Shar Gaden’s building are surrounding by building gained by the other monasteries that have issue with this group, making it an uncomfortable and tense living situation.
As an experiment the other day, Monk Duke and I visited a local store famous for not serving Shar Gaden monks. I went in and smiled, bought some flip flops for Buck, and then Duke came in to buy some incense. They wouldn’t even look up at him. So I piped in, “Hey, how much for the incense?” … they replied, “Forty Rupies”, and then I said, “I’ll pay for it.” They then smiled, took my money and when we went to leave, the man behind the counter and Monk Duke exchanged a smile. I felt like it was one step closer to Nirvana and I had done my small part to bridge a chasm between the two factions. Who knows… that simple meeting of the minds could have been the beginning of the reunification of the Tibetan Buddhist Federation. Or maybe not… I think it’s going to take more than a westerner’s smile to sort things out here. I’m thinking of coming back next year and shooting a documentary on the subject.
Let’s hope that J.D. Lewis does indeed come back to this troubled part of India to shoot his documentary – the monks of Shar Gaden could do with high profile support to highlight their urgent plight and to put pressure on the Dalai Lama to reverse his policy of discrimination and ostracism against Shugden practitioners, which is against the very principle of Buddhism.