The Dalai Lama’s Secrets: Long Live Secular Democracy

For centuries, the Dalai Lama has held the unchallenged role as both secular and religious leader of Tibet. It was not until very recently that the Dalai Lama stepped down from the secular sphere and passed these responsibilities to the government in exile, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). However, despite this apparent separation of secular and religious leadership, it is very obvious that the CTA still maintain and police the religious policies of the Dalai Lama.

Let’s examine a true example of a secular state: Secularism was implemented France in 1905 which then forced the separation of religion and state affairs. This clear division has been successfully maintained in France to this day. A secular government guarantees freedom of religion and faith, making all religious beliefs equal, and providing fair, equal opportunities and welfare for all its citizens, regardless of faith. It would have been impossible to implement the principle of secularism if the French did not challenge the Church at that time. In short, the implementation of secularism necessarily eliminates certain religious privileges. This means that religious authorities – such as in France – no longer hold any power to interfere with state affairs, control the government or hold any political leadership and responsibilities whatsoever.

The situation within the exiled Tibetan community however, remains quite a different matter. Although secularism has already been implemented – following the Dalai Lama’s retirement from politics while he remains purely a religious leader – the segregation of state and religion is hardly noticeable. The secular government, the CTA, are still maintaining various religious policies from the time of the Dalai Lama. Unfortunately, as it is considered treason to challenge any word of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan community are silenced into accepting every decree and unable to voice any challenge for their right to religious freedom. As a result of this, the Dalai Lama’s ban on the practice of the Buddhist deity Dorje Shugden is still not lifted. Thousands of Dorje Shugden practitioners continue to suffer extreme discrimination, ostracism and even physical attacks, all under the knowing watch of the CTA. It looks like the promise of secularism for Tibetans is merely lip service, while the CTA continue to function as the Dalai Lama’s puppet.

The Tibetan religion is suspected – not without reason – of having ties to political dissidence and ‘separatism’ and are very closely watched by international bodies. This is the fate shared by every religion that seizes temporal power; they fall victim to it in the end. A clear example of this can be seen within the religion of Islam which is often linked to terrorism (sometimes without any evidence at all) and remains under the watchful eyes of North America. Recent world events have shown us that for no other reason than being Muslim, innocent citizens from various countries have been kidnapped by the CIA, caged, humiliated, tortured, driven crazy and even murdered. Sounds familiar? This too is happening within the Tibetan exiled community in India and Nepal. Despite the separation of religious affairs from the secular, the CTA continues to uphold the ban on Dorje Shugden. People merely suspected of associating with Dorje Shugden practitioners are investigated, ostracised, belittled and bullied. Four million Tibetans in exile, under the “rule” of the CTA, risk being deprived from the benefits of a democratic community simply because of their religious choices, and suffer from discrimination, fear and rejection from their own government every day of their lies.

In short, to enjoy a truly free practice of Buddhism, civil peace and democratic progress for the development of Tibet (which for centuries has been kept alienated and stagnant due to political-religious ruling), the CTA needs to weed out All religious traces in their governmental policies. They need to urgently implement more democratic policies to meet international standards and basic human rights and freedoms. Initially, this may be difficult for the Tibetans because so much of their culture, tradition and even politics revolve around the practice of strong loyalty and respect for the Dalai Lama and whatever he says. However, for the fullest benefit of the Tibetan people to gain true independence outside of their homeland and to compete on a global scale, the separation of state and church is now the only, most logical step they must take.

 

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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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