Taiwan’s Rejection of the Dalai Lama is Poetic Justice

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in 2009

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By: Shashi Kei

On June 3, 2019, the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA; based in Dharamsala, India), the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile, published an article about the International Religious Freedom Forum held in Taiwan from May 30 to June 1, 2019. The article claimed, His Holiness was invited to speak at the Religious Forum which was presided by President of Taiwan Dr Tsai Ing-wen and attended by over 187 participants from 10 countries including Representatives of Office of Tibet in Washington DC and Taiwan”.

That statement is not true.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen

The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen reportedly promised to invite the Dalai Lama to the event but had thought better of it and the Forum went ahead without the Dalai Lama. This was confirmed by a number of religious groups although the Taiwanese government via its Mainland Affairs Council claimed that it did not receive a visa application from the Dalai Lama. To confuse the matter further, an official of Tsai’s government speaking on condition of anonymity claimed that Taiwan never had any real intention of inviting the Dalai Lama.

Taiwan’s about-turn on its relationship with the Dalai Lama may appear sudden, but it is not entirely unexpected. Taiwan is not the first ally of the CTA that is now keeping the Dalai Lama and the thorny Tibet issue at arm’s length. However, Taiwan’s avoidance of the Dalai Lama does perhaps signal how complete the isolation of the Dalai Lama and his government is today, in significant contrast to the global attention that the Tibetan spiritual leader commanded for over half a century.

Unfortunately, decades of global governmental and public support for the Tibetan cause have not amounted to much beyond general condemnations of China’s human rights record. That and a series of highly publicized fundraising campaigns for Tibetan refugees have dominated the Dalai Lama and CTA’s initiatives over the past 60 years. The funding initiatives have proven to be breeding grounds for corruption and it is debatable whether the campaigns actually benefited the Tibetan people in exile at all.

From the peak of its popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, the Tibetan cause began to gradually lose its lustre. With the hegemonic rise of China, friendship with the Tibetan leadership became an inconvenience.

H.H. Dalai Lama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989

By 2014, it was clear that having a close association with the Dalai Lama and the CTA was a liability. The Pope decided not to meet the Dalai Lama when the spiritual leader, who received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, was in Rome for a gathering of Nobel Laureates. The gathering itself took place in Rome because the government of South Africa, the original venue, indicated that it was unwilling to issue an entry visa to the Tibetan leader.

One after another, nations of the world have fallen silent on the Tibet issue. They have signalled their affirmation of the One China Policy which effectively denies the legitimacy of the CTA.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, who became the 45th US President in 2017 has yet to meet with the Dalai Lama and is the first US President not to have done so since George H.W. Bush. This signals a shift against the Dalai Lama in US policy on the Tibet issue.

When Narendra Modi was first elected Indian Prime Minister in 2014, CTA President Lobsang Sangay was a guest of honor at the swearing-in ceremony. Not a single Tibetan leader was invited when Modi was sworn in for a second term in May 2019, an indication of how much standing the Tibetan leadership has lost. India’s snub of the Dalai Lama and the CTA began the year before when Indian officials and leaders were instructed to avoid the CTA’s ‘Thank You India’ events.

While it is widely accepted that there are no permanent allies or enemies in politics, one would have thought that the bond between Beijing’s two main opponents, Taiwan and the Dalai Lama, would be much stronger.

Thank You Taiwan Billboards hosted by the International Association of Tibetan Buddhist Dharma, Taiwan, in collaboration with the Office of Tibet.

Only a year ago, the Dalai Lama’s face graced billboards along major Taiwanese streets with the messages ‘Thank you to the Taiwanese government and people for your concern and support for Tibetan freedom’, ‘Thank you to Taiwanese followers of Tibetan Buddhism for your contribution to promotion of Tibetan religion and culture’ and ‘Thank you to Taiwanese democracy’. They were a part of the CTA’s 2018 ‘Thank You’ initiatives designed to shore up support for the CTA and the Tibetan struggle. Unlike India, Tsai Ing-wen’s government embraced the CTA’s programme to its detriment; her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was soundly trounced in the mayoral elections later that year.

The Tibetan cause as embodied by the Dalai Lama and represented by the CTA has become a jinx, due in part to China’s rise and in part to revelations of gross misconduct and corruption amongst high-ranking Tibetan politicians and spiritual leaders.

Taiwan’s rejection of the Dalai Lama’s participation in the Forum is, in a way, poetic justice. The event is, after all, focused on religious freedom, an international human right which unbeknownst to many, the Dalai Lama and the CTA have worked to suppress.

Dharma protector Dorje Shugden (left) and H.H. Dalai Lama (right)

Since 1996, the Dalai Lama has banned the worship of an ancient dharma Protector known as Gyalchen Dorje Shugden. He initially claimed that the practice offends deities in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon and even shortens his own life. Then, the Dalai Lama insisted that worship of this deity had stricken the Tibetan struggle with bad luck. This was offered to the people as explanation for the failure of the Tibetan leadership to return them to their homeland despite numerous promises and prophetic proclamations over the years.

The Dalai Lama later changed his justification for imposing this religious ban. It was no longer bad luck to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan struggle for the Tibetan people to worship this deity. Instead, the Dalai Lama argued that all Dorje Shugden worshipers are paid agents of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), a claim neither the Dalai Lama or CTA have been able to validate. The fact that previous Dalai Lamas and the bulk of the Gelug spiritual elite since the 17th century have worshiped this very deity did not deter him from accusing all Dorje Shugden believers to be traitors of the Tibetan people.

A witch hunt reminiscent of Torquemada’s inquisition was sanctioned by the Dalai Lama’s office and Dorje Shugden worshipers were declared by the CTA’s supposedly democratic parliament to be “criminals in history”. Even today, those who refuse to relinquish their faith in Dorje Shugden and abandon their spiritual teachers and friends who are believers of the deity are expelled from the Tibetan community.

H.H. the Dalai Lama’s two tutors, H.H. Ling Rinpoche and H.H. Trijang Rinpoche both practiced Dorje Shugden during their lifetime.

These individuals are marginalized and denied even the most basic services promised by the CTA to all its citizens-in-exile, even employment. Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners and anyone associated with them are barred from participating in any gathering where the Dalai Lama would be present. They are not permitted to join community events that would have strengthened Tibetan unity, nor are they allowed to have any say in matters relating to the Tibetan cause.

This banishment is what the Dalai Lama is facing today.

This religious persecution is now in its twenty-third year and has inflicted untold damage on what was an already fragile Tibetan community in exile. But the Dalai Lama was not satisfied with merely imposing this religious prohibition on the Tibetan exile community alone; his diktat was carried into the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China (TAR), dividing the people in a manner no Chinese plot could. Similarly, the Dalai Lama’s anti-Shugden campaign found footing in Taiwan, where the CTA sponsored agitations against Taiwanese Shugden Buddhists. Books were published by CTA-owned Snowland Publications to this end.

In effect, the Dalai Lama’s assault on Dorje Shugden was a cunning strategy to intimidate Tibetan Buddhist adherents worldwide into becoming supporters of the Tibetan leadership’s politics. Refusal to support any CTA scheme is portrayed as opposition to the Dalai Lama, which then infers that one is an enemy of Buddhism. In their fervor not to be seen as being anti-dharma, many Tibetan Buddhists backed the unlawful religious ban, forgetting that the freedom to practice any religion without fear of retribution is an inalienable right in any true democracy. In supporting the Dalai Lama’s anti-Shugden campaigns, they interfere with the religious freedom of Dorje Shugden Buddhists.

Under such circumstances, it would be an absolute mockery for the force behind the brutal oppression of Dorje Shugden practitioners to attend Taiwan’s International Religious Freedom Forum as a VIP. The Dalai Lama’s attendance at the Forum would have robbed it of its authenticity. Tsai Ing-wen’s critics have accused her of caving into Beijing’s demands but that appears not to be the case – on June 4, the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident, Tsai criticized China fiercely showing no signs of fearing Beijing. The Taiwanese President remains opposed to China’s reign but after all this time, many have learned that there is no upside to carrying the Tibetan baggage. With Taiwan shrugging off the Dalai Lama, the final instruction to all players in the Tibetan saga appears to be exeunt omnes.

 

[Taiwan News] Exclusive: Source says
Taiwanese President Tsai revoked Dalai Lama’s
invitation to Taiwan

Source: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3717574. Click to enlarge.

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19 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Taiwan is known to be the strong supporter of Tibetan Buddhism and close with Dalai Lama. This news is a very strong indication that Taiwan no longer would like to have any connection with the CTA and the Dalai Lama. Same goes with India, many of the big conferences, have not included the CTA’s attendance.

    If CTA continue to think that the whole world is on their side. I think is time they really wake up and see the changes of attitude those countries have, which use to be very good with them and now, no sign of friendship is linked. Worst, the CTA not even thinking to unite their own people, but, continue to manipulate them by using the issues of Dorje Shugden.

    On the other hand, if CTA thought by using the Dorje Shugden’s issue and get the attention of the world, i think this have brought to the reverse effect where people started to questions the real intention of CTA to ban this deity which have been pass down from the authentic lineage and been practice over 400 years. People are no blind and stupid and could be so easy to manipulate by CTA.

    Plus, recently many news scandals that involved CTA have further brought up the questions on CTA on how real their intention to Free Tibet and to bring happiness to their own people. By using Dorje Shugden’s issues as scapegoat is not going to be long term accuse of why CTA failing their people.

  2. Well, I guess supporting CTA did not bring much benefit to Taiwan but only damages, that is why this decision has to be made. Supporting CTA is not because of humanity, it is mainly for political reason. Some countries just want to do everything to go against China in order to express their stance.

    CTA should know by now, if Taiwan has made such a move, more will be coming. Perhaps the next one will be Japan. First, these countries will not continue their relationship with CTA. The next thing they do is to cut the financial support. CTA better accept that fact that they cannot never beat China, it will be wiser to be friendlt with them and really go for the Middle way approach.

  3. Hehehe! Too bad CTA! What more, I read that in the grapevine, some Sakya monks in Nepal are visiting Dorje Shugden related websites. They are learning the truth about CTA’s lies and soon CTA will have no power or control whatsoever. Nobody will listen to CTA’s lies and whatever they say will always be doubted. Better lift the ban and head another path by being friends with Dorje Shugden people or else you will be left out in the cold.

  4. CTA should realized that more and more countries will not be their side. At this moment all most of the countries are looking for opportunity to financial growth and at this time only China can help. China had a great impact to the world and no countries will want to go against China, this is obvious.

  5. Taiwan may be supporter of Tibetan Buddhism and Dalai Lama as a leader but that doesn’t mean Taiwan is supporting the CTA. I think CTA had putting on a huge hat that it covered and blinded their eyes. Thanks to the contribution they had done to their community. What goes around, comes around….

  6. Its just a matter of time where no country would want to invite DL to any event. Its hypocritical to talk at some religious forum when there is no justice for Dorje Shugden practitioners. What about the real issue at hand? Lift Dorje Shugden ban once and for all. Lets move on and create peace.Why not mend relationships among the tibetan buddhism practitioners before preaching it to others. Where is compassion and wisdom.
    And of course shameless and pathetic cta will always try to look good when they are not! Always give misleading information and lie without getting real facts. They think that people around the world are as baseless as them and not check before anything else.

  7. No surprise. Taiwan just joins in the crowd and see the potential not to risk their relationship with China. Dalai Lama would not able to give anything if Taiwan were to support him and actually what else need to support? After 60 years now Dalai Lama said he wants to go back and stay under China. If from the beginning he thought like that is fine but after 60 years now you say you willing to live under China? Then what is the song and dance of Tibetan cause that they were fighting for so long? Now all that just erase and delete?

    Anyway what Dalai Lama should do is to really figure out how to deal with China and hopefully he would be able to return back to Tibet. Something need to be done to close this long chapter.

  8. You can fool some one once but you cannot fool some all the time.

    When the Dalai Lama left Tibet and set up government in Dharamsala, India, the world had empathy for His flight and bought into the Tibetan Cause and donated generously towards Tibetans’ hope of achieving fulfilment of the Tibetan Cause.

    First of all the reasons for not achieving any results and the blame thereon have been changing and such these were not reasons to justify failure but rather smoke screens to further lie about the failure to progress for any results.

    Time have changed, China has changed and it now a world economic power, where is the CTA and where is the improvement wherever they are. Have the Dalai Lama and CTA achieved anything.

    No one bet nor support on non results. Therefore the world is waning in their respect for the Dalai Lama.

    Taiwan has also awaken and knowing all the controversies and ban on Dorje Shugden how does not justify Taiwan to invite a person who does not stand for religious harmony and peace at an international religious forum.

    It is rather saddening that this outcome has fallen on the Dalai Lama. But truth speaks for itself.

  9. Another country is saying goodbye to the CTA! Taiwan has been a strong supporter of the CTA. But the support is not genuinely on humanity basis. Taiwan was just using the Tibetan plight to go against China, to make their stance that they will always do the opposite of what China wants.

    However, going against China by using the Tibet card is proven to be a very wrong decision. There is no benefit at all for supporting the CTA. The country that supports the CTA actually loses a lot of trading and business opportunity with China. The opportunity cost is way higher by siding the CTA.

    The economy in Taiwan is not getting better, they are also trying to build a better relationship with China in order to help improving their economy. To disassociate with the CTA is definitely a wise choice. CTA should be very worried now, their financial aid will be affected badly, they better think of how to sustain should more countries withdraw their support.

  10. Now everything goes the opposite for CTA/Dalai Lama. No more privilege or special treatment. No surprise to see Taiwan acting like this. More and more from other countries and eventually Dalai Lama really just going to sit in his room. I think is Dalai Lama want to give teaching even in India will also be rejected. China is boss now. Sad that CTA/Dalai Lama still cannot see it. They should meet up with the Chinese and talk over on returning to India.

  11. It is quite sad to hear and see the Dalai Lama’s popularity waning, after what he has done in spreading the dharma. The Dalai Lama is advancing in age and it would be a shame if he passed on with less respect now by those who once had more respect for him then. If the Dalai Lama does not care about who respects him less, the least he can do is mend the rift among his own people who are still suffering from the Dorje Shugden controversy, which the Dalai Lama started. I think that would be putting compassion into action, the compassion that the Dalai Lama had been taking about all along in all his teachings. 

  12. I think the only best thing Dalai Lama can do now is to mend back the broken relationship among Tibetans due to the Dorje Shugden issue. It’s almost a global rejection and CTA won’t exist for too long, Dalai Lama might want to be back to Dharamsala and make up for the mistake he made by demonizing Dorje Shugden.

  13. Time to wake up and look around CTA. You no longer have the support from other countries. Those countries have finally realize that after all these years of funding and being host to the Tibetans in-exiled, they do not get even a single thank you from the CTA. This comes to show that the CTA are ungrateful to those who have helped them through their difficult times.

  14. I have a question for CTA and Lobsang Sangay now. So is Taiwan China paid spy also? And Is The US going to be China paid spy also? Since everybody that against The Dalai Lama’s will the CTA will label them as China paid spy. I think it’s time for The Dalai Lama to come out and say publicly, Dorje Shugden is not devil, the practice will not harm The Dalai Lama’s life, and it will not affect the Tibetan cause. It is time for the CTA to come out to apologize that they have been segregating Dorje Shugden practitioners, and they have been accusing the Dorje Shugden practitioners and those who is not in the same accord with The Dalai Lama. Most importantly, it’s the time that The Dalai Lama to mend the relationship with China. It is because now everybody start to befriend China, including Taiwan! CTA, have u wake up from your dreamland?

  15. I believe the Tibetan leaders will understand what they are getting as a return now due to what they have done. Time to chnage⌚️

    BestFacebookStatusMindPictures-16883

  16. Whatever Taiwan had help CTA these year will affected Taiwan and China relation turn worse. Taiwan have their own issue to deal with China. Government of Taiwan would’nt want add more problem with China. Even Taiwan try to friedly with China. CTA is only one still treat China as their first enemy. Time to wake up now. CTA will lost all the support the world. No one want to offended China.

  17. Not surprise, Karma is back. First, it is very illogical to ban a Manjushri, Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of wisdom, how heavy the Karma is. Secondly in the case of Angulimala who had killed 999 people and cut their fingers and made a garland, however Buddha still saved him and taught him Dharma and here the Dorje Shugden practitioners were being banned to attend Dalai Lama’s Dharma Talk. Can you imagine how heavy the Karma that stop people to learn Buddhism. The more and more countries rejected Dalai Lama, the opportunity for Dalai Lama to preach Buddhism to the world will be less and less, karma is back, what goes around comes back around.

  18. How can the CTA still cannot realize that the world will not look at their games anymore? They have failed their countrymen and as well as their leader. Once Dalai Lama is gone, CTA is nothing and why they never think of it or actually they are aware of it but just being ignored.

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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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