Spirit Worship or Authentic Buddhist Practice?

Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden practitioners have repeatedly been accused of being spirit worshippers, which is completely untrue. It is also a grave yet nonsensical insult because it implies that they are not pure Buddhist practitioners, whereas in fact they go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha like every other Buddhist. They practice Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings on the union of Sutra and Tantra as expounded in Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition.

For them, Dorje Shugden is not a worldly spirit but a Wisdom Buddha, an emanation of the wisdom of all the Buddhas appearing in a wrathful form to protect practitioners from their own inner enemies of the delusions (i.e. uncontrolled, unpeaceful and negative minds). If other people wish to see him as a spirit, that is their prerogative; but it is very un-Buddhist to slander and persecute those who have never regarded him in that way and who have a close faithful relationship with him as an emanation of a Buddha.)

From Geshe Kelsang’s letter to the editor in Newsweek, 1997

HH the Dalai Lama claims: “Nobody would pray to Buddha for better business, but they go to Shugden for such favours – and this is where it has become like spirit worship. This is not true. Many Tibetans pray to other Buddhas such as Tara and make prayers to other Dharma Protectors for success in business and for the removal of obstacles. Why are Shugden practitioners singled out?

Particularly, in the Kadampa tradition we do not pray for worldly attainments such as wealth, reputation, success in business, etc.– we pray for the welfare of all beings and the attainment of spiritual realizations. HH the Dalai Lama is also contradicting himself. He previously regarded Dorje Shugden as a Buddha, and composed verses of praise to him that can still be seen today. It is his responsibility to resolve this contradiction.

Authentic spiritual lineage

If the practice of Dorje Shugden is harmful then it follows that Je Phabongkhapa was not an authentic Buddhist master, and if he was not then there is no doubt that his heart disciples, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (the Senior and Junior Tutors of HH the Dalai Lama) were also not authentic. These three Lamas are the most important Gelugpa Lamas of recent times. If these three are not pure Teachers then there is no doubt that the entire practice of the Gelug Tradition is invalid. This is the main issue that needs clarification.

And from some clarification surrounding the present debate regarding the Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, 1996-8

The Dalai Lama says: “Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit. To seek help from such a spirit detracts from the Buddhist way of relying on one’s own efforts and can degenerate into a kind of spirit worship.

Geshe Kelsang’s reply:

“How can he prove that Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit? I also asked in these letters for proof that Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit, but again I have never received any clear reply. The only reason that has been given is that some other Lamas have said this. This is not a valid reason, some other Lamas say Dorje Shugden is the Wisdom Buddha.”

A response to the posting by Tseten Samdup: ‘Shugden versus pluralism and national unity controversy and clarification’, which came from the Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration, Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamsala 176 215, INDIA

Geshe Kelsang:

“Concerning whether or not Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being, there can be no final conclusion through negative debate, mixing religion with political aims. This is because from the point of view of many people he is a worldly being, but at the same time from the point of view of many other people he is the Wisdom Buddha. This reasoning applies not only to Dorje Shugden, but to all holy beings.

If someone asked you how to prove that the fifth and fourteenth Dalai Lamas are Buddhas, you would most certainly find it difficult to give clear reasons. On the other hand, if someone asked you how to prove that these two lamas are not Buddhas, you could easily give a clear answer. You could say: they are not Buddhas because they need translators, they get sick, they are unable to come to their own decisions but have to rely on those of oracles, and sometimes they even get angry. How can a Buddha get angry, get sick, and so forth? Buddhas do not need oracles? So talking about this subject is completely meaningless, and only destroys peace and harmony in Buddhist circles.”

(Source: http://www.wisdombuddhadorjeshugden.org/dorjeshugden13.php)

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  1. From teachings I have heard and understand there is a difference between a worldly spirit and an enlightened being. When a worldly spirit is offended they will remember and take revenge. That is why sometimes you may hear of people getting sick for no reason. Doctors cannot find the cause of the sickness. But an enlightened will not not harm you even if you have offended them. They are Buddhas. In turn will help you if you sincerely repent. So it is safer to pray practice Dorje Shugden as he is the Buddha of Wisdom who will grant you whatever he thinks that is fit and suitable for you.

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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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