His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is the most famous Tibetan lama in the world, well known for his boundless compassion which has touched the hearts of millions around the world. While the Dalai Lama is the bringer of peace, hope and happiness to most of the world, he is also the bringer of disharmony, sadness, and despair to many within his own exiled Tibetan community. The ban on the Buddhist protector deity, Dorje Shugden has caused an uproar, and much inner and outer turmoil for many of its practitioners. As a religious leader that has been fighting for religious freedom for several decades, is it not contradictory that the Dalai Lama has decreed this ban among his own followers, denying thousands of Buddhist practitioners their right to pursue their chosen spiritual path?
As the political leader (up until 2011) and spiritual leader of Tibet, what has H.H. Dalai Lama really done for Tibetans in exile? Education was introduced, but the very few Tibetans that made it into school did not become personalities that contributed any knowledge or development back into the world. They were not given the necessary education, resources nor support to pull them out of the antiquated ways of thinking of their ancestors but instead, simply force-fed Buddhism and old, cultural ways of thinking, without room for questioning or further exploration. The Tibetans’ xenophobia and total separation from other civilizations has made them ignorant, causing their fight for independence to remain largely ignored and them to remain in exile.
In 1962, when the 27-year-old Dalai Lama wrote the book My Land and My People, he showed everyone his reign of supremacy by portraying himself as the object of his people’s happiness. It is obvious that the Dalai Lama has claimed authority over religious and political power over the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism although they do not necessarily recognize him as their spiritual leader (each of the four schools have their own head – the Gaden Tripa for the Gelugpas; the Sakya Trinzin for the Sakyas etc.). With absolute power and total control over both the monasteries and lay society, the Dalai Lama has exerted further abuse of this power by banning Dorje Shugden’s practice, depriving all these practitioners of religious freedom.
The social situation for Tibetans in exile is not good either. A majority of the population are categorized as living in poverty and are forced to work ridiculously long hours and days. They have no option of running away as this is a crime punishable with unimaginable cruelty. There is little opportunity for growth for the younger generations of Tibetans living in India today. After they finish school, there is hardly any support for them to pursue further education or enriching careers. The Tibetan youths in India or Nepal today are known to wile away their days drinking, running mediocre businesses and simply loafing about with foreign tourists.
Apart from the Dalai Lama, there is not a single Tibetan known globally for any sort of contribution to the world in any field of arts, culture, sport, science or economics. Why is this? The Tibetans may well be known for the legacy of their religion, but for very little else. Since they left their homeland of Tibet in the 1950s – 60s, they have only maintained their archaic religious practices, even within a secular sphere. For example, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) – the governing body of Tibetans in exile in India – continues to publish policies about a religious issue like the ban on Dorje Shugden on their official websites, which should have nothing to do with their secular policies. It is clear that they would rather focus their energies on spiritual witchhunts than on developing opportunities and the welfare of their people.
Even with all these sufferings, Tibetans go on uncomplaining and accepting, under the false belief that their selfless suffering now will bring them a glorious future life. Perhaps it is their downfall for readily accepting their social system without any question. But the question is where is the Dalai Lama while all of this is happening to Tibetans? With so many things happening within the Tibetan society that so obviously contradict the Dalai Lama’s own teachings on kindness and tolerance, perhaps the ban on Dorje Shugden should be vocally and loudly challenged too.
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