Author Topic: INTERESTING READ PART 3  (Read 9858 times)


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« on: December 18, 2007, 12:42:32 AM »
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his followers are convinced that the actions of the Dalai Lama in that dispute are solely politically motivated. In November 2002 he wrote in an open letter to The Washington Times: "in October 1998 we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue because we realized that in reality this is a Tibetan political problem and not the problem of Buddhism in general or the NKT."[47] However, according to the The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, in September 2002 NKT members held a news conference at which they said: "The Dalai Lama and his soldiers in Dharamsala are creating terror in Tibetan society by harassing and persecuting people like us. We cannot take it lying down for long."[41]
A main feature of the exclusive approach among Shugden devotees is a total reliance on one Guru and his tradition, which was fortified by Panbogkha Rinpoche by the Life Entrusting (srog gtad) practice on Shugden. Although "Pa-bong-ka had an enormous influence on the Ge-luk tradition that cannot be ignored in explaining the present conflict. He created a new understanding of the Ge-luk tradition focused on three elements: Vajrayogini as the main meditational deity (yi dam), Shuk-den as the protector, and Pa-bong-ka as the guru."[48] The imperative of total reliance on one Guru was enhanced once more by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in the west - although the Life Entrusting (srog gtad) ceremony is not given by him. According to Geshe Kelsang, the student must "be like a wise blind person who relies totally upon one trusted guide instead of attempting to follow a number of people at once"[49] and "Experience shows that realizations come from deep, unchanging faith, and that this faith comes as a result of following one tradition purely relying upon one Teacher, practicing only his teachings, and following his Dharma Protector."[50] According to Kay: "Even the most exclusively orientated Gelug lamas, such as Phabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche, do not seem to have encouraged such complete and exclusive reliance in their students as this."[51]
In 2006 Geshe Kelsang claimed in public, during the annually NKT summer festival, that:
Dorje Shugdän is a Dharma Protector who is a manifestation of Je Tsongkhapa. Je Tsongkhapa appears as the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugdän to prevent his doctrine from degenerating.
Je Tsongkhapa himself takes responsibility for preventing his doctrine from degenerating or from disappearing...To do this, since he passed away he continually appears in many different aspects, such as in the aspect of a Spiritual Teacher who teaches the instructions of the Ganden Oral Lineage. Previously, for example, he appeared as the Mahasiddha Dharmavajra and Gyälwa Ensapa; and more recently as Je Phabongkhapa and Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang. He appeared in the aspect of these Teachers.[52]
[edit] Other Tibetan Lamas
There are other Tibetan Gelug-Lamas in the west who follow the Dorje Shugden practice like Gonsar Rinpoche (Swiss), Dagom Rinpoche (Nepal/USA), Panglung Rinpoche (Germany), Gyalzar Rinpoche (Swiss), Kundeling Rinpoche (India/Netherlands), and Lama Gangchen Rinpoche (Italy), all of them with their own approach and attitude but more moderate than Geshe Kelsang and NKT. Except Kundeling Rinpoche who is not official recognized by the Dalai Lama as a Tulku, the other Lamas do still respect the 14th Dalai Lama but cannot accept his reasoning. A main argument of Dagom Rinpoche and Gonsar Rinpoche is they do not really understand the Dalai Lama advising against the practice. Gonsar Rinpoche said, "I have spent many years in exile and have a great reverence for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, but now he is abusing our freedom by banning Shugden. It makes me very sad... We are not doing anything wrong; we are just keeping on with this practice, which we have received through great masters. I respect His Holiness very much, hoping he may change his opinion... I cannot accept this ban on Shugden. If I accept this, then I accept that all of my masters, wise great masters, are wrong. If I accept that they are demon worshippers, then the teachings are wrong, everything we believe in is wrong. That is not possible."[53] Geshe Kelsang also argued in the same way when he said: "If the practice of Dorje Shugden is bad, then definitely we have to say that Trijang Rinpoche is bad, and that all Gelugpa lamas in the Dalai Lama’s own lineage would be bad."[54] From their point of view and for many of the Shugden followers it is a painful dilemma. But it has to be stated that although Pabongkha Rinpoche "married the cult of the protective deity Dorje Shugden to the idea of Gelug exclusivism and employed against other traditions as well as against those within the Gelug who had eclectic tendencies",[55] lamas like Lama Gangchen Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe (who in the past also practiced Dorje Shugden) nevertheless follow an inclusive approach. It has to be further stated that an exclusive approach does not necessarily include the idea of having a sectarian view.[56]
Kay states: "Examples of such lamas, who have taught in the West, include Geshe Rabten, Gonsar Rinpoche, Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Thubten Loden, Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, Lama Gangchen and Geshe Lhundup Sopa. It should be remembered that their association with this particular lineage-tradition does not necessarily mean that they are exclusive in orientation or devotees of Dorje Shugden. Some lamas, like Geshe Kelsang and the late Geshe Rabten, have combined these elements, whereas others, like Lamas Yeshe and Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Gangchen, came into exile with a commitment to the protector practice but not to its associated exclusivism."[57] Lama Gangchen Rinpoche for instance, a Gelug Tulku and close disciple of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, had been called even, metaphorically, the "motherland of syncretism".[58]
[edit] Obedience towards the Guru
Because a main argument in the conflict at the site of the Shugden followers is that their Gurus (Lamas) (e.g. Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche) revealed the Shugden practice and gave obligations on it, one has to follow it, whereas the Shugden opponents in Gelug school cite Buddha in the Kalama Sutra and Je Tsongkhapa, the Gelug founder, who said one should not follow "if it is an improper and irreligious command", which is based on the Vinaya Sutra: "If someone suggests something which is not consistent with the Dharma, avoid it."[59] and refer on the sectarian nature of the Shugden practice which is seen by them as a contradiction to Buddhist ethics, one can also sum up the conflict as the religious scientist Michael von Brück (University of Munich) has done:
"We can conclude that the present controversy reveals the contradiction between the imperative of critically establishing the validity of (one's own) opinions and the obedience towards the Lama (Guru)"[60]
[edit] Summary
By these examinations, it becomes clear that the religious and political conflict around Dorje Shugden is mainly based on a polarisation of an exclusive/inclusive approach. According to Kay: "This classical inclusive/exclusive division has largely been articulated within the exiled Tibetan Buddhist community through the dispute concerning the status and nature of the protective deity Dorje Shugden."[61] The exclusive/inclusive approach can be traced back to Tsongkhapa's and Khedrub Jey's different approaches and the frictions deriving from these two different approaches are a part of the Gelug history, transferred to the west and are related strongly to personal, philosophical, political, regional and institutional views, interests and struggles.
[edit] Arguments for and against
[edit] Arguments by opponents of Shugden
The Dalai Lama has said that:
(1) Shugden is a worldly spirit.
(2) Shugden practice has the potential to promote sectarianism.
(3) Shugden practice harms the health of the Dalai Lama and is contrary to the interests of Tibet and the Tibetan people.
(4) The Nechung State Oracle (bound by Padmasambhava) stated that it is harmful.
(5) Tibetan people using divination have received bad omens to the effect that Shugden is harming them.
(6) The Fifth Dalai Lama said: He will talk over and over again and not stop to say: Shugden is a negative force. And the Fourteenth Dalai Lama said that he sees himself in the footsteps of the Thirteenth and Fifth Dalai Lamas.[62]
None of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism today accepts Shugden as a Dharmapala, citing his origin and activities against other schools. Masters from the other Tibetan Buddhist schools (Kagyu, Nyingma and Sakya) agree with the view of the 14th Dalai Lama that Shugden (Dhogyal) is a worldly spirit with demonic power. Shugden was not mentioned by the Buddha, Atisha, or Tsongkhapa, or any Indian Tantric yogi or Indian pandit who developed the basis for Tibetan Buddhism. Shugden was not accepted as an official part of the Gelug school by the Ganden Tripa, the head of the Gelug school. Because the worship of Shugden has led to conflicts within the Tibetan Buddhist community (for instance, it is said that disciples of Lama Pabongkha destroyed Nyingma monasteries and statues of Padmasambhava and converted these monasteries into Gelug monasteries – and not only Nyingmapas had many difficulties with that spirit, also Kagyu practitioners made cleaning rituals after they visited Gelug monasteries),[citation needed] the 14th Dalai Lama used his status as the spiritual and political head of the Tibetan people to speak out about the practice. Then he asked Shugden followers not to come to his teachings, because there is no basis for a faithful teacher-disciple relationship if they don't believe him. He also advised Gelug monasteries to stop the practice and to prmote harmony within the Tibetan Buddhist community. In Tibetan Buddhism everyone is free not to follow the Dalai Lama's advice, so he asked that people do the practice in private if they cannot give it up. There are now members of the Gelug school (for instance in Sera Monastery, India) who follow his advice, and some who do not.
One member of the Tibetan Government in Exile (Kashag) suggested that practitioners of Dolgyal should not be allowed to hold public office within the Tibetan Government in Exile, but this was not taken up.
The 14th Dalai Lama was given that practice by one of his teachers without respecting what the 13th Dalai Lama and 5th Dalai Lama had to say about it. Because the practice of Dolgyal is sectarian and propagates a special Gelugpa exclusiveness which does not fit to the views, behavior, and tasks of a Dalai Lama and his function as the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, he told his teachers about his conflict and they agreed that he stop the practice.
The Dalai Lama doesn't deny anyone's freedom to practice Shugden worship, but he insists on his right to ask those accepting Vajrayana teachings and empowerments from him to abstain from such practices. In addition, he sees discussion of the problem of "sectarianism" within the Tibetan community as his responsibility in his capacity as the spiritual and political leader of Tibet.
[edit] Arguments by followers of Shugden
Shugden supporters responded point-by-point as follows:
(1) The statement that Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit is unsubstantiated and contradicts the view of many spiritual masters of the Gelug tradition who hold him to be a manifestation of the Wisdom Buddha.
(2) Furthermore, the essential Mahayana Buddhist doctrine of the emptiness of persons requires that one should not attribute inherently existent qualities to any being. Thus, Shugden like any other being has the qualities that one's own mind sees in him.
(3) Prior to instigating this ban, there was no history of disharmony between practitioners of Dorje Shugden and other traditions – it is the ban itself that is a manifestation of sectarianism.
(4) There is no evidence to support the claims that the Dalai Lama's health and the interests of the Tibetan people have been affected.
(5) Divination is not a reliable means of deciding such issues. Furthermore, evidence from oracles is not admissible either.
(6) The Dalai Lama might claim that his teachers agreed to him stopping the practice, but in reality they had no choice but to accept, as to go against the Dalai Lama results in grave consequences. It is said that Trijang Rinpoche in particular was 'very disappointed' that the Dalai Lama abandoned his practice of Dorje Shugden.
Pro-Dorje Shugden Gelug teachers have asked the Dalai Lama to present valid reasons supporting these claims and, in the absence of any response, have continued to engage in the practice.
Shugden supporters accuse the Dalai Lama of "banning" them, with the following specifics:
(1) Such practitioners are discouraged from attending teachings by the Dalai Lama.
(2) Practitioners of Dorje Shugden are not allowed to hold public office within the Tibetan Government in Exile.
(3) Many monasteries and individuals publicly engaging in the practice have been pressed to stop.
(4) The official ban on this practice has sparked debate within the Tibetan community and widespread public pressure upon those maintaining the practice.
Shugden-followers claim there is documentary evidence to support this. The Tibetan Government in Exile reject the claims (2)-(4).[63]