The Deity Banned by Dalai Lama

Kundeling Rinpoche of Drepung Gomang Monastery and Zawa Rinpoche

I am a Dutch student of Kundeling Rinpoche, one of the Dalai Lama’s major critics in the Gelugpa tradition. I’ll try to give an explanation of the Dorje Shugden controversy that is both understandable for those who are not initiated in the Mahayana-Vajrayana Buddhist tradition and still explains the very crux of the problem.

When I met Kundeling Rinpoche in 1995, I was interested in Buddhism and thought he might teach me more then what I learn from the zen-meditation class I kept falling asleep in. I was apprehensive with the idea of following a guru. However, I attended some of his lectures and was especially impressed by the search for purity that his form of Buddhism stands for.

This together with the attitude of examining the mind to find out how thoughts function, gave me the enthusiasm to meet up with him again in 1996. ‘Tame your mind’, and ‘mind is always stronger than matter’ are two teachings that were very appealing to me back then.

Buddhism is not about faith but about examining your present situation. Being in a fragile body that can break down at any moment, how do you make your life meaningful? You shape your own destiny and if you want to grow towards enlightenment like the Buddha himself did, you can progress towards that goal.

This was the first time I heard a Protector Deity existed and he is a sort of helper on this path towards enlightenment. In fact, it is nothing more then a powerful thought and this deity is helpful in keeping the mind focused on the goal of enlightenment that one chooses to pursue. A protector helps to create the right circumstances to study Buddhist Dharma, and he is said to have given up his life to protect the serious Buddhist practitioner that relies upon him.

However as I said before, it was just a thought. However as thoughts seem to be more important then matter, it really does make a difference if one has the backing of a fierce thought! Then, I heard that the name of my teacher’s protector deity was Dorje Shugden and that the Dalai Lama had banned this specific deity from the pantheon of protector deities. The Dalai Lama’s explanation was that this specific deity causes hindrances in solving the Tibetan diaspora and was bad for his health. Supposedly people who relied on this deity were just after money instead of Buddhism, so this deity seemed to be out of order.

My lack of understanding at the time was such that I had no shame to ask Kundeling Rinpoche why he did not just choose another deity to protect him. In the end, this deity-reliance is just a powerful thought, it’s just about faith and if you put your faith in another deity, why wouldn’t this work just as good or maybe even better then Dorje Shugden, surely the Dalai Lama will know, won’t he?

This article is related to another article written by the same author below:

Editor’s Note: The article came out a while back but it is clear that the ban on Dorje Shugden practice created more issues than solving them. The ban has split the Tibetan diaspora, caused students to abandon their teachers and Lamas and monks were harmed, threatened and ostracized.

Despite the Dorje Shudgen practice prevailing and increasing worldwide since the ban was first implemented, the Dalai Lama enjoys a healthy life way above the average Tibetan. The Tibetan cause has got nothing to do with the Dorje Shugden practice. If all of us were to stop practicing Dorje Shugden; Tibet is still not going to be free from China’s influence. The law of cause and effect cannot be undone by giving up our freedom to practice.

Perhaps, if the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) were to give freedom of religion back to Dorje Shugden Lamas and practitioners, it could turn into a powerful cause for self-autonomy of Tibet in the future. Give freedom and get back freedom in return. This could be put into effect by Dorje Shudgen Lamas who have a very good standing in China.


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  1. realy nice to true storry about Dutch of kundeling Rinpoche.after he know his guru also practice dorjeshugden. the deaty banned by dalai lama.

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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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