There isn’t a Tibetan Buddhist in the world who hasn’t heard of the recent controversies surrounding the practice of the Protector Deity Dorje Shugden. Since the Dalai Lama banned the practice, it has been the most talked about issue within the Buddhist world.
The Dalai Lama and his supporters claim that Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit and praying to him is equal to praying to a spirit, which destroys the basis of our most basic Buddhist refuge vows and commitments, and creates heavy, negative karma. They claim that the worship of Dorje Shugden will result in practitioners’ eventual misfortunes, shortening of the Dalai Lama’s life and the failure of the cause for Tibetan independence.
If this is REALLY the case, then we would like to point out the very serious consequences that this has for the future of Buddhist practice, especially within the Gelug school:
The Consequences for Tantra in the Gelugpa school
1) We are told that anyone who practices Dorje Shugden has lost their refuge. If they have lost their refuge, this means they have also lost their basis of all three sets of vows: Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva and Tantra. If they have lost the basis of all their vows and samaya, then all their practices will degenerate and bring no result. These practices include all their sadhanas, Tsog, tantric meditations, pujas, rituals and divinations. It means that the people who practice Dorje Shugden have broken everything that is sacred and pure. Therefore, they cannot be considered Buddhists anymore, let alone accomplish their practices, and they have sealed their fate in the three lower realms for an immeasurable amount of time.
2) Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, the Panchen Lamas and thousands of other elite Buddhist masters such as Kyabje Ling Rinpoche have practiced Dorje Shugden or at least respected him very much. If we follow the same line of thought, it means these lamas have also broken their refuge, have not practiced correctly and are therefore not correct objects of refuge for us anymore; we cannot consider them as qualified lineage teachers or rely on them. Nor can we accept, receive or practice with confidence any of the tantric lineages they have passed to us. As such, all tantric lineages become null and ineffective.
Within the tantras of the Gelug school, lamas such as Pabongka Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche are a part of the lineage lamas we recite supplication prayers to daily. For example, in the 13-Deity and Solitary Yamantaka sadhanas, there are 40 lamas whose names we recite and request for their blessings. It is important that we recite these supplications to our root and lineage lamas to absorb their blessings into our practice.
All the sadhanas of Vajrayogini, Heruka, Yamantaka and Guhyasamaja that are taught and practiced within the Gelug school today all include Pabongka Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche within the prayers to the lineage lamas. How is this possible if they have all broken their refuge and are now in the 3 lower realms? How can we be taking refuge and requesting blessings from beings that are not correct objects of refuge? In fact, the Short Solitary-Yamantaka sadhana and the 6-Session Guru Yoga were composed by Pabongka Rinpoche – this is recited by every Gelug tantric initiate daily. The only currently used long and short Vajrayogini sadhana within the Gelugpa school, and the commentaries on Vajrayogini and Yamantaka were also composed by Pabongka Rinpoche. That would mean every high Gelugpa lama and learned Geshe have been stripped of all their attainments.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has received the bulk of his tantric practices from these very root and lineage lamas, and is now initiating thousands of people into these same practices. For example, the practice of Kalachakra he bestows on countless people every year comes directly from Kyabje Ling Rinpoche. Since Kyabje Ling Rinpoche respected and has written prayers to Dorje Shugden, how can he be a fit lineage lama? And therefore, how can the Kalachakra lineage of the Dalai Lama be correct and bear results if we do the practice when the source is stained?
We are led to understand that all Gelug sadhanas today are therefore nullified and empty of blessings, and we should stop them immediately. After all, it cannot be that the lineage lamas broke their refuge only in one aspect but remained pure in all their other practices. Once you have broken your refuge, which is the basis of all other vows and commitments, it applies to one’s entire practice. It is thus logical for us to say that NOBODY alive in the Gelugpa lineage today, including the Dalai Lama, has attainments or a potent lineage because they have all obtained their teachings and practices from a broken, tainted lineage of teachers.
3) H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama himself has said that he does the Yamantaka, Guhyasamaya and Heruka sadhanas daily. This is according to the advice of Tsongkhapa who recommended these three sadhanas to his followers during this degenerate Kaliyuga age. Since His Holiness does the 3 Kingly Sadhanas every day, he would also be supplicating these same lamas who are apparently not worthy of our prayers and refuge anymore. This includes Pabongka Rinpoche and His Holiness’ own Gurus Trijang Rinpoche and Ling Rinpoche. This means that the Dalai Lama is also doing practices which have no correct basis or blessings, and therefore should have no attainments. Either the lineage lamas are attained and without fault, or they are ordinary beings without blessings – which one is it?
In fact, it is safe to say that the whole Gelugpa tantric system is now faulted. When there is a break in the lineage of lamas, this would mean that the practices are now invalid and without lineal blessings. The practices are nullified and should be considered ineffective. Is that what we are to believe from now on?
The Consequences for Sutra in the Gelugpa school
4) We must also consider the sutra teachings and practices: Thousands of elite, qualified and very high learned Geshes have arisen from the three pillars of learning (Gaden, Sera and Drepung Monasteries) over the last 600 years. Within that time, Dorje Shugden practice has been very strong and highly respected over the last 350 years in all three monasteries. In fact, his images, statues and thangkas are prevalent throughout these three great pillars within their prayer halls, khangtsens and private ladrangs. So over the last 350 years, thousands of qualified Geshes and monks have practiced Dorje Shugden, or received their sutra and scriptural trainings from other Geshes and high lamas who practiced Dorje Shugden. In fact, within the three pillars, the teachers and disciples who practice Dorje Shugden are so intertwined that to remove one and say that he is not qualified would cause the whole monastic system to collapse with a huge domino effect.
If we consider that Dorje Shugden practitioners have all broken their refuge and are no longer true Buddhists or true objects of refuge, then all these Geshes and high lamas are not qualified to teach in any way; their thousands of students over the last 350 years have been relying on unqualified sources and receiving teachings from impure teachers. Their students henceforth are therefore monks with no true basis of refuge… if they are monks at all now. In fact, Ordination vows passed on would be invalid. Therefore, it is possible that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and thousands of monks in the three pillars are not truly ordained Sangha. Also, since they engage in wrong “spirit” practices and are not real Buddhists, we can assume that once they pass away, they would take rebirth in the 3 lower realms.
Even if the current monks and Geshes have abandoned the practice of Dorje Shugden, their teachers and lineage teachers of the past did the practice and are therefore not considered true or correct Buddhists. For example, Lama Yeshe practiced Dorje Shugden all his life until he passed away and many teachings were passed from him to his close disciple Lama Zopa. Lama Zopa has given up the practice now but this still makes him unqualified as his teacher did not give up the practice. Which Gelugpa lama now, of the 21st century, has not received teachings either directly from Trijang Rinpoche himself or through his lineage? All these lamas must therefore be considered unqualified.
All the monks of the three pillars now are therefore continuing to receive scriptural and sutra teachings from incorrect, impure sources. Hence, there are no longer any pure, unbroken blessings or lineage in Gaden, Sera and Drepung today. If this is the case, the three monasteries should stop teaching immediately and close down completely. It would be very wrong to continue spreading broken lineages, broken samaya and teachings from unqualified teachers.
If we continue to uphold this illogical ban we are also invalidating 600 years of attained masters and their lineages; we are considering the three great pillars of knowledge and practice as unnecessary and void of results. As we have shown clearly, to state that the single practice of Dorje Shugden is not true to Buddhism has very far-reaching consequences. It means that everything being taught and practiced in the Gelugpa school of Buddhism today – including all personal teachings, practices and advice of the 14th Dalai Lama – are baseless, incorrect, impure and devoid of blessings. Actually, the whole Gelugpa lineage should be eliminated from the landscape of Buddhism. In this case, should we now consider that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and all other Gelug teachers are ill qualified?
If this is the debate on Dorje Shugden today, then we had better be prepared for what it really means for the entirety of our practices now and in the future. Whatever practice we choose isn’t just a simple choice. It carries far heavier consequences than what the Dalai Lama has simplified as just being a choice that is ‘up to you’.
Below are some examples of prayers to Dorje Shugden (and his entourage) written by highly qualified, elite, lineage teachers:
- Nyirtoe by Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang
- Offerings, Praises, Fulfillment and Requests to Dorje Shugden by Kyabje Dragri Dorje Chang
- Incense (sang) Offering Prayer to Dorje Shugden by Ganden Serkong Dorje Chang
- Praise to Dorje Shugden called Praise to the Indestructible Protector by Kyabje Dagpo Dorje Chang
- Request for Activity of Gyalchen Shugden called Universal World Peace Prayer for All by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche
- Invoking Ratna Shugden on a Horse for Wealth by Zemey Rinpoche
- Request of Activities of Protectors by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche
- Praise to Khache Marpo called Praise to Yaksha Khache Marpo, the Doctrine’s Watchman by the 5th Dalai Lama
- Invocation to Lord Namkar Barzin
- Prayer to Gyelchen Dorje Shugden called Melody of the Unceasing Vajra by the 5th Dalai Lama
- Melody of the Unceasing Vajra by the 14th Dalai Lama
All prayers can be viewed in full on the website DorjeShugden.com
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