I have always respected the Ven.Geshe Kelsang Gyatso although I do not quite comprehend some of The New Kadampa Tradition's (NKT) sudden switches in beliefs. For instance, today the NKT does not hesitate to tell you that the entire oracle tradition is bunkum just like the believe the Lama Tradition to be. And yet we see that Geshe la did in fact consult the oracle of Dorje Shugden in the past.
The following is extracted from an older post submitted by a prolific writer and contributor to DorjeShugden.com/forum, 'TK Rinpoche' who has written informedly about a number of Buddhist subjects.
Geshe-la did give special treatment to his oracle uncle. Geshe-la invited his uncle the oracle several times to UK. In fact his oracle uncle took trance of Dulzin for over three hours and GAVE INITIATION OF AVALOKITESVARA to the students there (NKT) one one occasion. That is how much the power of the oracle was revered before in NKT. Many trances were taken and Geshe-la privately consulted Dorje Shugden on many issues re himself, his deceased mother, the organization on the whole. So there is nothing weird about the whole oracle practice. Some of the greats like Pabongka, Trijang and Zong Rinpoches consulted oracles their whole lives and taught lojong/realized lojong also in their mindstreams. So part of what they do is great and part is weird? I don’t think so. We accept what we don’t understand about our lamas and refrain from labelling would be better conduct.
It was a rare occasion, when Dulzin took trance and gave initiation in Geshe-la’s centre. The Oracle Uncle was very respected, was given a seat of honour in the pujas there, many students came to receive his blessings when he was not in trance also. This all stopped when Geshe-la and his uncle has a huge fall out and NEVER SPOKE AGAIN UNTIL THE ORACLE’S DEATH A FEW YEARS BACK. So Geshe-la had a personal fall out with his Oracle Uncle and it all came to an end. Yes policies change and Geshe-la changes his mind. But it also means he can make mistakes (sorry). Geshe-la’s policies are GOOD FOR NKT AND THEIR MEMBERS, but his policies should not be seen as overview rule of thumb for all Tibetan Traditions around the world and their centres for example tulkus and oracles. NKT doesn’t ‘accept’ does not mean it is weird, wrong, or not applicable in thousands of other places. I have had EXCELLET EXPERIENCES WITH ORACLES AND TULKUS IN MY LIFETIME AS SCORES OF MY FRIENDS also. And we love lojong, lam rim, and it’s practices as these are our main practices always.
Geshe-la very much agreed with oracles and their usage, until his personal fallout with his uncle. That is a fact. Then his policies with oracles in NKT changed. But we don’t have to change our ‘policies’ regarding them and no one should berate us for it also. No one has the right.
Geshe-la / NKT received huge negative media and backlash because of the ‘1st wave’ of protests organized by Geshe-la against the Dalai Lama. Some of his key supporters felt the backlash, spoke up and some left. Geshe-la realized it was a mistake to protest so openly saying it is from him. He made a mistake. His policies changed. Next time around, it was the WSS with him supporting them from behind and ‘not’ NKT that organized the huge wave of protests. Don’t get me wrong, I feel Geshe-la is courageous. I prayed for him and his long life. I still do. My point is policies he makes can be changed according to student’s aptitude, place, time and also mistakes. THAT IS OK. But just because NKT’s policies do not give a ’special bus seat’ to oracles and tulkus does not mean their policies are correct for everyone. Or these institutions should be ‘disparaged’, ‘ridiculed’ or spoken against in the thousands of other places they have positive effects and benefits. Also for hundreds of years in some cases. Geshe-la can make mistakes, but it does not mean he is not a authentic practitioner of sutra/tantra and very qualified to teach. He is very qualified. But his personal disagreemants with oracles does not set the plateau for everyone. Nor should his students comment negatively to non-NKT students who accept oracles and tulkus.
The backlash against Geshe-la/NKT was huge, but the protests brought attention to our cause onto the world stage. It gave a voice to where none would be heard. How compassionate of Geshe-la and courageous. How devoted and strong of his students that participated. I respect them very much on the whole as well as many dorje shugden lamas, centres and students around the world. With folded hands to Geshe-la and NKT deeply.
Dromo Geshes ( a great tulku on his ‘3rd’ incarnation hasn’t ‘messed’ up yet) always had great oracles in his monasteries. His last oracle Lhakpa Dondrub) passed away a few years back. Dromo Geshe had special chapel, thrones and places in his monasteries for his dorje shugden oracles. The last one was a layman also!
Trijang Rinpoche blessed, consecrated, oversaw the training of Choyang Dulzin Kuten (Geshe-la’s Uncle) and then authorized him as genuine when training completed. Zong Rinpoche consulted the oracle for most important issues until his last days and lived next door to the oracle in Gaden. Zong Rinpoche had a special oracle house and temple (Trokhang Dechen Chok) built for Dorje Shugden in Gaden. It has a special throne for the oracle to sit on in order to take trance right at the centre of the main shrine. This place exists today still. All of Gaden Shartse’s abbots, ex abbots, tulkus, Geshes, and sangha would have yearly audience on the Tibetan 1st month and 3rd day of New Year’s (losar). The whole sangha would be blessed by both Shugden and then Setrap entering Choyang Dulzin Kuten in the main prayer hall of Shartse. Yes the whole sangha. Also countless lamas, representatives from Gaden Jangtze, Drepung and laity would jam the prayer hall yearly in Shartse for their blessings and pronouncements. Gaden Jangtse’s administrators would ask questions of Shugden during trance for the welfare of the whole Gaden Jangtze institution. The same in Sera boompra khangtsen with their Shugden oracle, where Kache Marpo takes trance. All has stopped because of the ban.
Both Gaden and Sera oracles were put into retreat for more than five years intense, examined, blessed and authorized by His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang in the end. The current oracle of Gaden is a student of the previoius Zong Rinpoche, and Zong Rinpoche mentioned years ago that he would be an oracle. So if Geshe-la does not find them fitting for NKT, or his students find it weird, Gaden, Sera and Drepung did not. To each his own.
Many Geshes, teachers, Lamas consult the Gameng Choyang Kuten in US and Sera Oracle (authorized by Trijang Rinpoche, and this oracle’s father was also an oracle of Shugden) residing in Taiwan. They derive many benefits again and again. All of Shar Gaden Monastery invited the Gameng Choyang Kuten for their grand opening and had Dulzin peaceful/wrathful both take trance, bless the premises, answer questions and give prophecies to their successful survival.
When Geshe-la passes away (very sorry to mention this), what happens to his incarnation? If recognized? Not recognized is fine also. But Geshe-la recognized his own mother’s incarnation and makes sure she grows up to practice dharma again. No special seats, but why recognize her at all then. Just recognizing her is saying alot already.
Thai bus company will not give a special seat to the oracle on their buses but will give to monks, and that is true. But only to their monks. They do not recognize monks of the Tibetan Tradition. They do not feel it is a valid monkhood. So in Thailand, monks of the Tibetan tradition gets no discounts, no special seating (airplanes, taxis,etc), no religious priviledges their own monks receive. So their example is not applicable here at all.
Believing, propitiating or trusting oracles and tulkus DOES NOT MEAN THAT IS THE MAIN FOCUS OR PRACTICE EVER. The main practice would be all the teachings on MIND TRANSFORMATION coupled with annurtara tantra of generation and completion stages for sure. That is the real protection from everything in samsara. But along the way, why not alittle help from our friends via the oracle.
(no offence/disrespect intended to Geshe-la in anyway or the vast institution of NKT-may they last thousands of years. If it was another situation, I could take refuge in Geshe-la as my guru also.)