Dear fellow Dharma brothers and sisters,
By now, the religious ban on the deity Dorje Shugden, as instructed by the Dalai Lama, has drawn worldwide attention. For the first time in Buddhist history, Buddhists are being excluded from Dharma teachings and social welfare, brutally attacked and discriminated against by their own Buddhist community, simply because of a spiritual choice they have made. Dorje Shugden practitioners everywhere are suffering from this unjust and illogical ban, which denies them the most basic human right of religious freedom.
It has come to our attention that the Tibetan-government-in-exile (now called the Central Tibetan Administration) has been sending letters to monasteries, institutions, organizations probing if certain monks or individuals are practicing Dorje Shugden. We find this act appalling and extremely despicable. No civilized government in the world would write letters to their religious institutions or organizations interrogating them about the private practices of individuals and which deities they choose to pray to. Only a witch-hunting government from the Middle Ages would abuse their power to do something like this to intimidate its own people.
One of the very few things that Tibet is famous for throughout the world is its religion – Tibetan Buddhism. However, instead of preserving and supporting the monks who dedicate their lives in the monasteries to study, practice and teach Buddhism, the CTA goes the opposite way to suppress and persecute the very Sangha that made Tibetans famous in the world. Instead of writing letters to encourage, congratulate and support these monks who have dedicated their whole lives to Dharma, excelled in their studies and made the Dharma grow in the world, the CTA writes letters to interrogate, instill fear, suppress and ostracize the good Sangha and Dharma practitioners who did nothing but practice Dharma sincerely and only have good thoughts always in their mind.
These monks teach Dharma, conduct pujas, raise sponsorship and gather support to bring huge benefits to the monasteries. These monks build new monasteries, establish spiritual monastic communities, renovate chapels, erect new statues, feed monks, build hostels and help the lay community. When the Tibetans first fled Tibet in the 1950s to seek refuge in India, these monks did everything they could to reestablish their religious practice and community in this foreign land. Despite the many obstacles of language, unfamiliar territory, climate and separation from their Sangha, families and even their teachers, they built up the monasteries again from scratch. They have even helped the governments to set themselves up again and rebuild the Tibetan exiled community.
Now, the CTA turn against these very same monks, claiming that they are bad and evil for practicing Dorje Shugden. They claim that by continuing their practice of Dorje Shugden, they are traitors to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause and accuse them of being Chinese spies. These monks are expelled from their monasteries, denied any welfare or rights and even have to suffer physical attacks from people who call themselves Dalai Lama devotees. Is this fair?
By doing so, the CTA effectively nullify all the contributions that these monks have made to the Tibetan exile community and the new Tibetan Buddhist monastic communities throughout India. All that the monks have done – the sponsorship they have raised, the teachings they have given, the institutions they have helped to build – are forgotten, only because of one religious choice they have made.
We call for a different response. If the CTA wants to nullify all those contributions by ostracizing monks who they deem “bad”, “traitorous” and “evil”, then the CTA should also return all the contributions, all the money, the roofs, the tiles, the floors, the bricks, the food, the furniture, the fixtures, the statues, the offerings, the thangkas, the books, the buildings etc. to all the monks who sponsored and gave all these things to the monasteries. If the items given have already been used up (such as food, building materials or study materials), then the equivalent amount of money should be returned. Then, it is a fair game.
If the monks who are being ostracized and discriminated against by CTA are really that bad, then it follows that their contributions and everything that they have given before must also be bad and stained. These monks are being punished for their practice of Dorje Shugden because it is deemed evil and impure. If they are so bad and evil, then surely all their actions, contributions, sponsorship and support are based on a foundation that is also bad and evil. If the CTA and all the monasteries wish to remain so “pure” and “good” then shouldn’t they also remove and return all these “impure” things and sponsorship also? Why remove the impure person but keep the impure things given by them?
Even buildings and infrastructure being used by the CTA today were first supported, sponsored and built by Dorje Shugden Lamas. Now, the CTA make accusations against these Dorje Shugden Lamas and even issue “wanted” lists against them… even though they are sitting on and using the very things that the these Lamas gave them and build for them! Is this fair? We don’t think so. We find this ungrateful, very unkind and seriously hypocritical.
His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was instrumental in helping to rebuild the Tibetan exiled community. Trijang Rinpoche also physically donated so much to the monasteries – a majority of statues that are still in Gaden Monastery today are there because Trijang Rinpoche sponsored and donated them.
Today, the young incarnation of Trijang Rinpoche has had to leave his monastery in India and move to America because he suffered a tremendous number of threats and physical attacks while he was still living in Gaden Monastery as a child. He is disliked and viewed with great suspicion by Dalai Lama supporters and the CTA, simply because he was a Dorje Shugden practitioner in his previous life, and continues to be in this incarnation. Do you see the hypocrisy in this? He is so viciously hated by so many of his own Tibetan people, but at the same time, they are all very happy about using the many things he has built up for them. The very statues that the monks continue to pray to were sponsored by Trijang Rinpoche. If Trijang Rinpoche is really so bad and evil for his practice, then why pray to the statues that he made and donated? The Tibetans and the CTA should return every last cent that Trijang Rinpoche contributed in this and previous lives.
They should also return all the teachings that Trijang Rinpoche so compassionately gave to thousands of people. If he can make such a grave and terrible “mistake” to practice something “bad” and “evil” like Dorje Shugden; and if he is such a “bad”, “traitorous” and “evil” person for doing this practice, then all his other practices and teachings must also be tainted, wrong and impure.
Within the Gelugpa lineage, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was the sole and main source of teachings, which he generously shared to many, many, many other monks, Lamas and practitioners, including the Dalai Lama. Today, 99% of Gelugpa practitioners in the world can trace their lineage and practice back to Trijang Rinpoche. But why keep practicing his teachings and lineage when he is being ostracized, attacked and hated for his worship of Dorje Shugden? How can we say that his Dorje Shugden practice is wrong and evil but his Lamrim teachings are incomparable, as the Dalai Lama himself has said? If we accept someone as our Guru, we should also accept all his teachings as pure and correct – if not, why accept him as our Guru in the first place, to teach us everything we need to get to enlightenment?
If Trijang Rinpoche was wrong about Dorje Shugden, then there is a high chance he can be wrong about all the other things he has taught us. So if you wish to be totally sure that you are “clean” and completely disassociated from Dorje Shugden practice, then you should return EVERYTHING that you have received from Lamas like Trijang Rinpoche – from the physical and material sponsorship he gave, to the teachings and practices he gave. If you wish to cut off from Dorje Shugden practitioners, then honor your word and do it all the way – remove and return everything completely. Keep yourself totally “pure” and “untainted”. Have some integrity and disassociate yourself completely. Do not pick and choose what you keep or give up, to suit your own conveniences.
At the most basic human, ethical level, even women with dignity return their wedding rings to their husbands if the marriage ends! From a spiritual, ethical point of view, this is even more important – shouldn’t we return things to people who we believe to be evil? Why take the risk of having something so evil and bad in your life? And why keep things that were given by someone you disagree with and are so strongly against? Again, isn’t that very hypocritical?
Some may argue that they are keeping things given by Dorje Shugden practitioners for their benefit, to help them collect merit. This is completely untrue and illogical. If you really care about the welfare and benefit of Dorje Shugden practitioners, you should not force them to give up their practice in the first place; you would not apply such terrible pressure on them to take oaths against their lifelong practice; you would not expel them from monasteries and then deny them any welfare, support, help or access to Dharma teachings. If you really were concerned for Dorje Shugden practitioners, you should be even more kind to them, more patient, welcome them all the more to Dharma teachings so that they can learn what they are doing “wrong” and make any necessary changes. There is so much contradiction and hypocrisy in the way that Dorje Shugden practitioners are treated.
We urge you to think carefully about how much damage the ban has created. It is ruining lives and causing so much hurt to Buddhist practitioners everywhere. It also creates tremendous harm to the people who are enforcing the ban – it creates a terrible image that this is how cruel and unkind the Dalai Lama’s supporters are. The world will look at Tibetan Buddhists and see how uncompassionate, unforgiving and hateful they are towards their own people. It will cause Buddhism to be destroyed from within our own community.
Please think about how hypocritical the situation has become. Think about the logic we have pointed out in this letter. It is not meant to criticize or harm, but to show you clearly that the actions carried out because of this ban do not make any sense and completely contradict the teachings of the Buddha. Also, this is not how a modern 21-century government should act. How will you ever progress in the world and gain independence for your country if you cannot even be kind and united to your own people?!
We request you to reconsider your actions and urge you to lift this unnecessary, hurtful, damaging ban. We beg you to please practice kindness towards all sentient beings, which include Dorje Shugden practitioners.