Sanctified Sectarianism

When was the last time you heard Gelukpas telling other lineages which practices were appropriate for them? As if they knew the other schools better than them? As if they had thoroughly studied and practiced them? As if each lineage, although interdependent spiritually, wasn’t a completely independent body of transmissions, methods and customs?

When Geluk officials with political agenda once tried to force a Karmapa candidate onto the Kagyus, the Kagyus told them that the Kagyus have always taken care of their own, and they were right.

When the present Dalai Lama gave approval – not recognition – to one of the present Karmapa candidates, some were happy and some were not. Those who weren’t, argue that even if His Holiness didn’t officially claim anything, by his status and reputation alone his word carries so much weight amongst most Tibetans and his global audience who idolize him, that even a simple remark by him has enormous immediate effects. Nothing against His Holiness’ preferences, but they do seem to have a point, don’t they?

Why then, one has to ask, does no one raise an eyebrow when representatives of other lineages pressure the Dalai Lama to suppress a practice performed by hundred thousands (estimated four millions) including so many of the greatest mahasiddhas and realized and attained Lamas; including his own root Guru?

During Manjushri Je Tsongkhapa’s lifetime, the greatest masters of all lineages revered his incredible attainments and the revitalization, not to say rebirth of the complete and perfect Dharma with which he blessed Tibet , Mongolia , China , etc. The 8 th Karmapa later praised him as ‘ Tibet ’s foremost propounder of emptiness,’ which obviously refers to Je Tsongkhapa’s madhyamika teachings of unmatched lucid precision; the way he ‘updated’ Nagarjuna’s philosophy for our time. Or, in a more esoteric sense, to what is now called the ‘Gaden oral tradition’ or ‘Ensa ear-whispered lineage’ as contained in the ‘Great Gaden Emanation Scripture’ through which practices enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime.

The reason why dharmapala Dorje Shugden was asked by Nechung to arise was so that these teachings can be preserved, kept alive, and realized in the future, more and more degenerated times to come, in a word – for us.

Dorje Shugden doesn’t wear a cap saying ‘gelukpa’ but a Nagarjuna hat, and robes that show that there can be no Mahamudra realization without Vinaya practice, or the ethical conduct of holding the Pratimoksha commitments, and he holds the sword and heart symbolizing the bodhisattva path. Which shows that he is, however closely connected to Je Tsongkhapa, not limited to protect one lineage alone, but committed to the realizations it represents, or in other words, a path to enlightenment that is complete and works. Which is why great Masters have predicted that we will witness Dharmapala being recognized and propitiated more broadly, as a universal protector, in the times that are now dawning.

And yet, it seems that the one thing critics of Dorje Shugden always repeat is his alleged sectarianism! While other protectors are definitely committed to one lineage alone (which is fine) and certainly no less fierce in protecting it, nobody would dream of criticizing and accusing them.

“For example, once, in His Holiness’ temple, a man named Pedma Longdu used to beat the dharmapala drum every evening and make offerings. He had made a commitment to His Holiness to perform this offering ritual, and it was his routine. One night he got drunk and didn’t make the offering. He went to sleep. In the middle of the night my mother woke up, maybe around 2:00 a.m. , when the dharmapala drum began beating on its own”. She woke up my father and asked him, “Did you ask for a special extension of the practice? What is going on?” Rinpoche just got up and smiled, and said, “It doesn’t matter. No, it doesn’t matter.”

The drum beat the whole night, and all the people surrounding the temple could not sleep. The dharmapala had become very violent, hitting the drum, because the offering had not been put there.

The next morning Rinpoche called Pema Longdu, who is now the head lama of the Buddha Monastery in Kaleekoh, and asked him, “Why didn’t you do the dharmapala practice last night?” The lama became arrogant and said, “If I miss one day’s practice, are they going to get so hungry?”

The next day Pema Longdu was hit by a fever, becoming violently ill and almost losing his life. This was because he talked about the protectors as if they were hungry for an offering, and were so attached to that offering that they couldn’t go even one day without it. Right after he said that his blood started warming up. He couldn’t sleep all night, and his heart kept on beating, beating, beating. The next morning, he started vomiting blood. So Rinpoche told him to go straight away into the temple and make prostrations to the protectors, or they would take his life.

The protectors can take your life force. It really is in their hands. Why? The life force we are talking about in the Chi Med Tsog Thig is the protector. There is nothing other than that. It wasn’t that the dharmapalas missed the offering. They just showed him that he had lost his discipline in the training of his mind. That is why the dharmapala showed its hand. It can be a very costly affair.”

From the infamous ‘Yellow Book’? No, just a mild excerpt from
THE PROTECTORS – A Teaching Given By His Eminence Shenpen Dawa Rinpoche In Los Angeles , California , September, 1988. SECRET: ONLY INITIATED PRACTIONERS – found openly accessible on the net… the SECRET part making it all the more inviting for most web surfers… Imagine how this would sound to the prejudiced and the naïve. Then imagine what a convincing argument it would make in a case against the protector in question, people claiming that if this is what he does to his own people, what about those who practice in other traditions, since he has sworn his allegiance to only one lineage? Then imagine what would happen if the Dalai Lama would proclaim that this protector is endangering his life and Tibet … Good morning half-buried hatches, resentment, envy and general malice! WELCOME, SANCTIFIED SECTARIANISM!

Friends, each lineage has its own gurus, emphasized yidams and protectors, and from each lineage enlightened practitioners still spring forth, which means they and their practices are valid. Telling others what to do or not is sectarianism. Telling other lineages their practice is wrong is sectarianism. Telling the world that an enlightened protector deity, propitiated by generations of the highest geluk masters, lineage holders and gurus of HH the Dalai Lama is a harmful ghost, is sectarianism. In particular, it attempts to undermine the faith in the very core of the geluk lineage itself. Lying in ambush and firing slander bullets at people who cannot defend themselves (for fear of being accused of sectarianism and anti-patriotism…) like snipers, using the cover of names like inter-lineage harmony and free Tibet, may fulfill the purpose of one’s own power politics but not that which it states.

Fighting alleged sectarianism with sectarian means – an interesting concept… We find it more and more, here, there and everywhere, from websites to centre politics to books to forums to blogs and brochures, and where the question was once:

“Does this teacher have compassion and concern for students’ future lives?”, it has become:”Does he practice dolgyal?” We find it in 108 variations, always steering any conversation involving anything however remotely gelukpa-related to this subject which then pretty much ends the conversation as one parts in mutual agreement of the enemy, the cause of all problems and trouble including weather, wife and taxman.

Is it subtle? Is it smart? Is it skillful? Will it benefit? Anyone? No, but great victorious triumph and fanfares for the self-cherishing mind who has reinvented itself again as the righteous battler against evil, which has found a new home, identity and cause. What more could EGO want, now that satan, communism and the war on terror have decamped to non-front page pastures?

Should we rejoice? Join in? Is there a life after the enemy is burned and buried? Could our psychosomatic system survive peace for longer than three minutes? Tough questions to ponder. In the meantime – sectarianism is sectarianism is sectarianism…

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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