Personal Observations of An American Shugdenpa in India: More about “My Position on Dorje Shugden”
Ven. Lozang Gyaltsan
Some friends have recently asked me what the situation is like here in Bylakuppe for Shugdenpas and for me in particular. So far, I have not been the object of any abuse or harassment at all. Being the only western monk in residence here and having a prominent double-dorje tattoo on my upper arm, I have been the object of ongoing curiosity and pretty much everyone around has either heard something about or seen the American Shugdenpa. There are portions of the colony in which it has been made it clear that Shugdenpas are not welcome to either congregate or shop. We simply stay away from those intolerant areas. The colony is relatively small in size and passing through it is a short trip. Beyond the very limited area the colony occupies, the “Shugden” matter is of no concern. The Indian population has far too much on its own plate to notice the petty concerns of Tibetan politics. It should be noted that the Nyingma Monastic Community of The Golden Temple here in Bylakuppe and the lay population of the nearby Nyingma Camp do not engage in this bigotry. In both places we are freely welcomed and treated warmly . The same cannot be said to be true for the Tibetans living here and in the other Tibetan colonies of India who are not monks or nuns who have both the social status and relative safety of their monasteries to protect them. For them, life is constantly unpleasant and often dangerous.
I know that many have been the object of much criticism and abuse from what my own Root-Lama, a well-respected tulku from Kham, called the poor, ignorant, largely uneducated Tibetan population who think HHDL is a god-incarnate capable of no wrong or error in judgment. A concept that is nothing less than laughable, generally-speaking, and too downright ludicrous in Buddhism to even contemplate. Those who are more well-educated and well-informed who engage in this outrageous and unseemly behavior are those who think they have something to gain from publicly currying the favor of HHDL and the largess that ensues when the “line-is-toed”. Fortunately, the influence of these people and the influence of HHDL himself are both waning. Despite the celebrity and reputation he has enjoyed for so long as a religious leader and prominent world figure, the more widespread his unrelenting attempt to ban Shugden practice becomes known the more the world-at-large is coming to see that he not only openly advocates but persistently encourages religious intolerance and social ostracism among his own people and in his own faith. This can, in the end, only diminish his reputation, tarnish the public image of the Tibetan people and irreparably damage the cause of Buddhadharma. The simple truth is that this whole business is a disgraceful display of institutionalized ignorance, intolerance, hatred and bigotry.
HHDL speaks of peace, harmony, and universal brotherhood in some parts of the world and of intolerance against Shugden practitioners in others. One would think that someone as well-educated, well-traveled and constantly in the spotlight of the world stage as the Dalai Lama would have figured out that, in the 21st century, under the scrutiny of a large cadre of journalists catering to the insatiable appetite of a prurient population eager for any scrap of controversy or unguarded moment and in the constant line-of-fire of I-phones, Blackberrys and similar devices, that one cannot speak in condemnation of others or say one thing in one part of the world and something completely different in another and not have the expectation that, sooner or later, it will rise up and lash out at unexpected moments and in unforeseen ways.
It is up to the generations now practicing Buddhism, regardless of the particular tradition to which they belong, to maintain, promote and pass on the pure, undiluted teaching of Shakyamuni free of politics and dissention.
Many Lamas, and the monastic communities continuing to openly practice Dorje Shugden are passing to their followers a pure, unspoiled lineage. My own Lama and the others from whom I continue to have the blessing of receiving teachings pass the same purity of unbroken lineage. Their endless sacrifices and unswerving dedication serve as an example that encourages us all to do everything we can to maintain our practice, strengthen our samaya, keep unswerving faith in our precious Lineage Lamas, and never surrender our devotion to Gyalchen Dorje Shugden. For those of us who have spoken the vows of ‘srog rtag’, this is nothing less than a sacred commitment to which we have dedicated “our lives and our sacred honor”. I will continue to relentlessly share this oft-repeated teaching my Lama. “It does not matter what anyone thinks of you or your practice, regardless of who they are.”
(We find this well written and comes from someone who has observed the situation with intelligence. We do not condone all ideas shared but nevertheless it will throw more light on the Dorje Shugden’s ban. We hope Ven Lozang Gyaltsan will share more of his wisdom in the near future. Admin www.dorjeshugden.com)