His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is a Bodhisattva who needs no introduction. He is world-renowned because of his hard work in promoting peace and harmony and showing love and compassion to all sentient beings. Although the Dalai Lama is synonymous with Buddhism, practitioners from other religions equally respect this spiritual leader for what he represents. He is also said to be an emanation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion.
There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness. ~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
As the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is always seen meeting with other religious leaders and is often greeted with warm handshakes and embraces as a sign of respect. In his public teachings, the Dalai Lama always talks about love, peace and tolerance and how everyone should embrace these qualities in order to live harmoniously in this world. Clearly, the Dalai Lama has influence beyond the borders of the Tibetan Buddhist world.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner has defended Muslims from being called terrorists during a recent visit to the European Parliament. He has also been seen paying his respects to Jesus and adapting to other cultures and faiths, all out of great compassion and deep respect for others. In his own words, “genuine admiration and respect and appreciation for those traditions.” This spiritual leader is highly respected because he has worked so hard to spread his message of positivity, showing continuous love and respect to everyone.
Love and Compassion are the true religions to me. But to develop this, we do not need to believe in any religion. ~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion. ~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
The exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader travels widely, meeting with leaders of various religions around the world. He is regularly seen with the heads of the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, namely the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya schools, as well as other Buddhist traditions such as Theravadan, Mahayana, Zen and so forth. The pictures speak a thousand words as to the mutual respect these spiritual personalities have for each other. His example behooves us to put his teachings on kindness and non-discrimination into practice.
There are many different sects and schools within the Buddhist religion but according to the Dalai Lama, “it is important to show respect to other religions”. The Dalai Lama even acknowledges the Bön religion, which was once segregated and discriminated against by other Buddhist practitioners who named the Bönpos “chipa” (outsiders). After the Dalai Lama met with their spiritual leader, he granted them equal rights and privileges as the other Tibetan Buddhist schools and urged other Buddhist practitioners to accept and respect them.
However, a schism in the Tibetan Buddhist community was created when the Tibetan leadership made a public statement that the practice of the Buddhist deity Dorje Shugden is malevolent and should be stopped. Those who practiced Dorje Shugden were not allowed to receive medical treatment in hospitals, disallowed entry into libraries and stores, expelled from monasteries and even forbidden to attend his public teachings. People were encouraged to separate from family members who practiced Dorje Shugden as well.
All major religious traditions carry the same message: a message of love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, self-discipline — all religious traditions. ~ H.H. the Dalai Lama in an interview with the European Parliament
The big question here is, why was the ban on Dorje Shugden imposed when the Dalai Lama himself has shown so many examples of how we should respect other cultures, religions and practices, even if we do not agree with their beliefs? People were left confused and in turmoil with the Dorje Shugden ban. On the one hand, the Dalai Lama gives teachings about tolerance, equality and religious freedom and yet on the other hand, the Tibetan administration has imposed a ban on Dorje Shugden practice.
Monks were forced to swear against practicing Dorje Shugden and those in the Tibetan community had to promise to stop propitiating Dorje Shugden in order to obtain travel documents or to be admitted into their monasteries. With the enforcement of the ban, many Dorje Shugden practitioners have been separated from their families and friends for many years. They are forced to choose between parents and friends or to break their samaya with their gurus. Shugden-practicing monks were expelled from their monasteries and in general, those associated with Dorje Shugden continue to be victims of verbal abuse, name-calling, death threats and physical violence. They suffer this every day just because they choose to continue practicing Dorje Shugden. All these actions shown by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Tibetan people are the total opposite of the Dalai Lama’s teachings and example.
In actuality, Dorje Shugden devotees are simply Buddhist practitioners following the teachings passed down by their gurus. Is it right that just because they chose to continue with their faith, they should be treated badly? The Dalai Lama has stressed countless times that we should have no discrimination and hatred towards others but only love and respect. Everyone who takes the Dalai Lama as their spiritual guide should follow his teachings.
In 2015, the Dalai Lama attended an interfaith meeting in London alongside Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh leaders. In his speech, the Dalai Lama repeated once again what he always says about love and compassion and that each religion is worthy of respect. He also used the analogy of food, saying that it would be foolish to insist “I like to eat this food, therefore you should eat it too!”
As students of the Dalai Lama, practitioners should represent their guru and the teachings well. However, the Dorje Shugden situation today is the exact opposite of the ideal situation described above. From physical attacks to cyber bullying to separation of family members, it is clear that the CTA’s actions including their recent anti-Dorje Shugden video is the anti-thesis of what the Dalai Lama promotes.
We can live without religion and meditation but we cannot survive without human affection. ~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
Harmony among our different religious traditions is essential for world peace. Genuine harmony should be founded on mutual respect. And respect should be based on a recognition that all the world’s major religious traditions are similar in having the potential to help human beings live at peace with themselves, with each other and with the environment. ~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
We live in a world where every individual is entitled to religious freedom. The millions of Buddhist practitioners who flock to attend the Dalai Lama’s public teachings should practice what he preaches. No discrimination or double standards – Dorje Shugden practitioners have done nothing wrong to deserve this kind of treatment. They are humans just like everyone else. Segregation and attacks are what Dorje Shugden practitioners get in return. Would the Dalai Lama, a paragon of human rights, agree with this?
Dorje Shugden practitioners were attacked by followers of the Dalai Lama outside a public teaching venue in America.
Everyone is free to choose whether they pay religion any regard, but to neglect compassion is a mistake because it is the source of our own well-being. ~ H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama
We should always represent our gurus’ teachings, in both action and speech. All Tibetans should treat their fellow global citizens equally without any hatred or discrimination. Acceptance is the key to world peace and it is extremely important for all Tibetans to unite and not fight against each other. In particular, the Central Tibetan Administration should follow the Dalai Lama’s advice and repair the divide created by the Dorje Shugden controversy instead of encouraging and provoking discrimination and hatred.