Dear respected friends,
It is with great interest and happiness that we write to share this recent news with you.
Globally, the world knows that there is currently a ban on the Buddhist Protector Deity Dorje Shugden. Many people have publicly denounced the practice and have become very harmful, even unkind, towards Shugden practitioners.
Some Lamas have publicly chosen not to continue their practice – this is their prerogative and we do not question the decisions of such highly attained Lamas. However, we strongly disagree with the ways in which their students have launched very hostile, even damaging verbal or physical attacks on Shugden practitioners. This kind of behavior is not at all in accordance with Dharma practice and teaching.
Recently however, we have received very clear information from reliable, trusted sources about an organization returning to the practice of Shugden, even when they have long criticized and put down others for doing so. We are told that when Lama Zopa was very ill about eight months ago, a monk from Kopan Monastery secretly went to Phelgye Ling Monastery (in the Swayambunath area of Kathmandu, Nepal) to request them to do a Dorje Shugden puja for Lama Zopa’s health. Phelgye Ling Monastery is very well known for their preservation of the Shugden practice and lineage, and for this, they have suffered much discrimination and ostracism from the Tibetan Buddhist community in Nepal since the imposition of the ban.
Phelygye Ling Monastery’s senior administrator refused to do the prayers. They have asked: Since Lama Zopa and his group (commonly known as FPMT) are so ‘vehemently’ against Shugden, why do they now come running to request for a Shugden puja once Lama Zopa is sick?
The people from Kopan eventually had the Shugden puja done urgently at another Shugden monastery in Kathmandu (their name has still not yet been disclosed).
The point of this letter is not to disparage Lama Zopa or his organization. We have a lot of respect for Lama Zopa and his lifetime of work to bring Dharma to so many thousands of people. It is our wish to simply point out a few things:
- The true enlightened, powerful, and beneficial nature of Dorje Shugden – even groups who have turned away from him and become known for putting down the practice, return to Dorje Shugden at their darkest times.
- The importance of not criticizing any practice – every developed, successful country in the world supports freedom of religion. As Buddhists who support the way of kindness and harmony, we should too. Respect that every Lama will have his reasons for doing, or not doing, a certain practice. If we do not wish for others to criticize or attack our Lamas and practice, then we shouldn’t do it to others.
- Not being hypocritical in our practice – either you commit to a practice or you don’t. It is not logical to disparage and discount a practice, but then choose to go back to it when times are bad. How can you expect to have results from a practice if you have been doing the opposite all this time before?
- Keeping clean samaya – A Lama may choose not to continue the practice of Dorje Shugden and advise his students not to do the practice anymore. However, this does not give us any right to disturb or hurt other Lamas and practitioners who do. You may be “keeping your samaya” by following your Lama’s instruction not to practice Shugden. But you break all your other samaya by being unkind, by attacking others, by creating schism with negative talk. No true, qualified, compassionate Lama would endorse or encourage schism or hurting any being in any way. So you must think if your actions towards Shugden practitioners is really Guru devotion, or a justification for accomplishing your own personal agenda?
In hopes of a more tolerant and harmonious Buddhist community and world, we urge you to think carefully about the points we have mentioned. And in particular, to consider the deeper significance of Lama Zopa’s students “returning” to Shugden practice for their Lama’s health.
The fact is: could they have avoided creating the cases for Lama Zopa to fall ill in the first place? They have broken samaya not just with their lineage practice (Lama Yeshe, the founder of FPMT was a very ardent Shugden practitioner) but also with their teacher for acting in such unkindly ways. Why only panic now – and “return” to a lineage practice – when their Lama is ill?
Yours, in hopes of a better future,