Comment: An Insider’s Look into the Rise and Effects of the Ban

These are sad times:

Hello Everyone,

I have been appreciating this website for some time now and would like to share a few things. Whether it is beneficial or not I don’t know. First of all thank you so much for putting this website together. I know there are many out there who, like a horse with blinders, will not even venture to open this website – or as in this example given by Gyaltsab Darma Rinchen during his commentary on the Pramanavartika – “If you did not eat the Tatura [a poison which distorts the vision] then look again and again.” There are those today who have in essence tasted the Tatura and are unable to see the wisdom that is clearly before them.

These are sad times we are experiencing. No matter how brief an infant cries, they are able to gain the attention of their parents. In this case however, no one has heard our cry – it is time to speak. We all know the history of the Dharmapala Dorje Shugden, and most of you might know the history of the Tibetan government. In order to truly understand what is right and what is wrong, one needs to know these two histories well. Tibetans have a saying, “Whatever you endeavor, don’t do as the yak which, blind in one eye, eats only half of the meadow.”

In the early 60′s and 70′s His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gave democracy to the Tibetan people at which time the government in exile adopted the name, Tibetan Government in Exile and no longer used the term Gaden Phodrang which is the name of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s personal house. His Holiness stated that this new democracy was to equal that of the foreign democracies in all ways but that it was not an independent nation. However, in the name of democracy, the Tibetan Government in Exile has now acquired control over Tibetan lay community and monastic community alike.

His Holiness’ house, Gaden Phodrang, is now separate from the Tibetan Government in Exile, and has been dealing with the presence of Dorje Shugden for three centuries. Here we are in the 21st century, having lost our home, and no longer under Gaden Phodrang and yet His Holiness continues to bring this issue to the Tibetan people, mixing his own family issues with that of the Tibetan Cause.

I was in attendance for the inauguration of Gaden Jangtse’s first prayer hall in Mundgod, somewhere around 1990, at which time His Holiness the Dalai Lama stated clearly that “Gyalchen Dorje Shugden” was not easy, that in order for a person to receive his initiation, that person needs to have reached a certain higher level of the bodhisattva stage. Then it is beneficial.

During the same visit His Holiness visited Gaden Tsogchen. At that time there was a clay statue of Dorje Shugden in Gaden Tsogchen. His Holiness requested that the monastery build a special chamber for the statue outside of the temple, just like Trode Khangtsar in Lhasa, he said. So the monks did the removing ritual under the guidance of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. This chamber still exists in Mundgod, South India, within Gaden Monastery and is called Trokhang Dechen Chog.

Then, a few years later, His Holiness the Dalai Lama states that whether Dorje Shugden is a Dharmapala or not is debatable.

From there he began claiming that Dorje Shugden is a ghost, specifically of the hungry ghost realm, and that practitioners of Mahayana Buddhism cannot take refuge in a ghost.

Later, His Holiness announced that Dorje Shugden is harming his own life, and that if the Tibetan people wanted His Holiness to stay a little longer then they should not do the praise for Dorje Shugden. He even presented a prophecy from the Nechung oracle which stated this.

Then His Holiness changed his story and said that Dolgyal, no longer referring to him as Dorje Shugden, is actually harming the Tibetan cause.

Currently, His Holiness has gone so far as to state that all the Dolgyal practitioners are bowing to the Chinese communists and that the Chinese government is greatly helping the Dolgyal practitioners.

His Holiness came to South India well prepared this month, with letters and materials ready to go. On the 9th and 14th of January he began his campaign. He stated that the time has now come for us to completely clarify this issue once and for all. He explained that he has a new solution, and quoted a sentence from the Vinaya which roughly states that there are seven ways through the Dharma teachings to clarify a debate within the monastery.

[Comment: this controversy was not created within the monastic community and therefore the stanza that His Holiness quoted has no bearing whatsoever on this issue.]

His Holiness went on to say that his reason for bringing this issue forth again is that the Chinese government had recently told his own representatives that while they are not a religious nation, they sympathize with the followers of Dorje Shugden in Tibet and India who are being oppressed by His Holiness. His Holiness’ comment was: well, even the Chinese communist government, who does not even know the history of Dolgyal, are using him as a tool.

[Comment: This tool has been hand made for the Chinese by non other than His Holiness - the blame cannot be thrown elsewhere.]

His Holiness continued to explain that due to an appeal to the Indian government by the Dorje Shugden Devotees Society regarding the oppression of their religious freedom, he has recently received a notice from the Foreign Minister of India giving him a warning regarding the issue. His Holiness went on to say that he was receiving quite a bit of pressure from both the Chinese government and from the Indian government. He countered that he has never taken the religious freedom from anyone, that he has told only what he himself has seen, and quoted a sentence from the story of Kache Phalu which roughly says: I Kache Phalu from the bottom of my heart give you my advice, whether you listen or not is in your hands.

[Comment: In my opinion, these words are too similar to that of a Communist government, presenting an outwardly reasonable appearance while doing the opposite under the very table at which you sit. Where might His Holiness have learned this? We all know how much damage has been done through these words and how much pressure has built up within the Tibetan community. The time has come when they cannot handle any more. The Tibetan people have already seen great suffering and came to India seeking refuge... in this same way, the Dorje Shugden Devotees Society has asked for the help of the Indian Government. Otherwise we are just like animals, one can eat the other while the rest stand on and watch. Regarding Kache Phalu, quoting his story sounds good, but in reality, to use a political term, this is just another campaign.]

His Holiness then brings the subject of a vote. He says that he is not controlling this issue, that it is up to the people, through the democratic way we can vote, he says. The first vote will determine whether the Tibetan people need Dolgyal or not, and the second vote will determine whether the Tibetan people will have any association with both the Dolgyal practitioners and those who support Dolgyal. If 60% of the vote says yes, we need or accept Dolgyal, then His Holiness stated that he will not mention his name ever again and the responsibility will be on “your” shoulders. If 60% of the vote says no, we do not need or accept Dolgyal, then His Holiness stated that he will see from there how he will work things out.
He went on to say: So, this is democracy!

[Comment: Why has this voting system been left until this late hour? There is no pry-bar which can remove the nail that has been hammered for so many years, even the head of the hammer has sunk into the wood. Even if 60% of the vote were to come out in favor of Dorje Shugden, I doubt that that will be enough for Gaden Podrang. If the vote comes out as a no for Dorje Shugden, is His Holiness truly going to split the Tibetan community into two, instead of unifying his people for the freedom of Tibet and working for religious harmony? I quote His Holiness: "I have three commitments. Number one commitment is promotion of human values. Number two commitment is promotion of religious harmony. These two are my commitment until my death, fully committed. Then third my commitments is about Tibetan issue, Tibetan freedom struggle."]

So therefore, His Holiness says, we can do this, we can place the Fifth Dalai Lama and the lineage from the Fifth Dalai Lama on one side of the scale, and on the other side we can place Pabongkha and some Sakya lamas and see which is heavier. In order for a person to say that the Fifth Dalai Lama and those that followed are wrong… that person has to have reached the same stage of Vitarka (conceptual awareness) as the Fifth Dalai Lama.

[Comment: Yes, before you place anything on the scale, that scale needs to be set properly, accurately, and equally. In this case we all know that there is no such scale. If His Holiness the Dalai Lama truly wants to weigh these two lineages on the scale, it is hardly equal to include the entire lineage of the Dalai Lamas on one side and Pabongkha and "some few Sakya lamas" on the other. Just as one would have to have the same stage of Vitarka as the Fifth Dalai Lama in order to correct him, what would it take in order to correct Kyabje Pabonkha Dechen Nyingpo, the Sakya Panditas, Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang and countless lineage lamas who have understood Gyalchen Dorje Shugden. In order to correct them one would likely have to have achieved full enlightenment. His Holiness' words are like an oak tree, with no straight branch to be found.]

And finally, His Holiness mentioned this: The Dolgyal practitioners have killed, and have the reputation of murderers, but let’s leave that. These days they are suspected of going under Communist China. Now that is very interesting!

[Comment: If we are really going to bring this centuries old issue to the table, let's talk about who the suspects are. Who was it that killed Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen by stuffing Tibetan offering scarves down his throat? If we are really investigating murders, the real case has been under cover for three hundred years, and is ready to be opened at any time. Who ordered the murders: The Tibetan ministers. Why was Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen killed: because there was jealousy between the two houses, Gaden Phodrang and that of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen. The ministers of Gaden Phodrang, the Fifth Dalai Lama's house, were jealous of the status that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen had achieved in the region, even as far as China & Mongolia, and chose to take matters into their own hands. Before bringing the murder case onto someone else, one should make sure that their own involvement is clear.]

So now His Holiness is taking the middle way, abandoning the call for Tibetan freedom and requesting Tibetan autonomy. I will just mention that this was not at the instruction of Dorje Shugden. In Tibet we already had autonomy, whether it was genuine or not, and it was obtained by Panchen Rinpoche who gave his life for the Tibetan people. I am quite certain that the topic of Dorje Shugden will not end here. There will come a day when we do not achieve the middle way, Tibetan autonomy, and at that time Dorje Shugden or his community of followers will be the target once again.

As I mentioned before, the Tibetans in exile have democracy, but when you look closely it is a democracy only by name.

Let me explain: At the head of all Gelugpa monasteries we have Gaden Tripa who is the representative of Lama Tsongkhapa. Then we have Sharpa Choeje and Jangpa Choeje who are representatives of the two disciples of Lama Tsong Khapa, Gyalsab Je and Khedrup Je. These seats are named after Lama Tsongkhapa’s primary monastery, Gaden, and the two colleges within Gaden, Shartse & Jangtse. However, Gaden Tripa being the representative of Lama Tsongkhapa is the representative for all Gelugpa monasteries practicing the lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa. In addition to this, each college within the monasteries has an abbot. These abbots are supposed to be chosen by the monastic community within their own college. So each college has their own policy and decision makers.

But these days, the current holders of these seats, have been pressured and positioned by His Holiness and the Tibetan Government in Exile, and have involved themselves and their monasteries into some very dirty Tibetan politics. During his visit to Mundgod this month, His Holiness met with the all the abbots in a joint meeting. In front of everyone His Holiness pointed to Gaden Shartse’s current abbot and said: “You! I chose you so that you could do what I requested, but you are not doing what I asked, and in addition you are stopping others from doing what I have asked!”

So, when you look from the outside it does appears that all of these policy makers are there, but in reality they are like statues.

Within the monastic community they are now unable to unite together and make their own decisions. Their institution is being controlled by the Tibetan Government in Exile, which is not acting on behalf of the Buddha Dharma. In fact, they are buying monks and lay people alike to support their position on this issue, and the money that they are using for this campaign is coming from the poor, hard working Tibetans who pay annual taxes through their green book.

I’m sure you have heard what is happening the monasteries in South India these days. After His Holiness left Mundgod, the Tibetan Government in Exile brought this issue to the representatives of the monasteries and they met for two days to determine how they would proceed. They chose to vote using colored sticks, one red and one yellow. They have started this voting on January 26th through February 9th 2008. I am not surprised so far by the choices that have been made – yellow sticks have prevailed at each of the colleges and temples that have voted thus far. For the first vote, yellow means that one has voted against Dorje Shugden. For the second vote, yellow means that they support the severing of any relations with followers or supporters of Dorje Shugden. Red obviously means the opposite of these two choices. (A brief side-note on the choice of colors: We all know what yellow might symbolize here, and red, well that’s the color used to cross out a monks name when they have passed away or left the monastery for the life of a lay person.)

The reason for my lack of surprised is that they have already collected signatures from the monasteries, more than once, especially focusing on Gaden Shartse and Sera Mey colleges. During that time, Gaden Jangtse kicked out many monks – I think it was 17 – and here again they have expelled 13 or so. Gaden Shartse and Sera Mey did not expel any members of their colleges at that time. From Gaden Shartse they are pin-pointing Dokhang Khangtsen in particular, from Sera Mey they are pin-pointing Pombra Khangtsen. Since the first round of signature collections, the majority of the members of Dokhang and Pombra Khangtsen’s took responsibility for themselves and have not attended even one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings.

These two colleges are the seats of Kyabje Pabonkha Dechen Nyingpo and His Holiness’ own teacher, Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. These two great masters are the main holders of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings. We are all well aware of this. Even the Dalai Lama himself chose Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche to be his teacher. During that time, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was the main follower of Dorje Shugden and the main disciple of Kyabje Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo.

In my opinion, this issue is not simply between Gaden Phodrang and Dorje Shugden himself. This issue is related with the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa which we call Gaden Nyengyu (translated as the whispered lineage, or a lineage of secret teachings transmitted only to the closest disciples through direct communication with their root teacher or meditational deity) and those who do not like this lineage based on their own delusions.

The lineage of Gaden Nyengyu, instead of harming the Buddha Dharma, has cherished and upheld the Buddha Dharma. Gaden Nyengyud is the root of Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage. So His Holiness mentioned this time in Mundgod that it is time to separate the mustache from the mouth. The meaning of this example is that one needs to find the root or the source of the mustache, before one can remove it permanently. If it is not clear, the root of the mustache is the Gaden Nyengyu lineage.

Dharmapala Dorje Shugden is not the root of the mustache. During Lama Tsongkhapa’s time, Duldzin Drakpa Gyaltsen made a promise that he would arise as the protector of the Buddha Dharma and particularly for Lama Tsongkhapa’s pure lineage. The more degenerate the times become, the greater he will benefit for sentient beings, just as Heruka did.

And now to change the subject, and for your reading enjoyment, here is my suggestion for the name of a new monastery: Gaden Nyengyu Tratsang, the “Gaden Nyengyu Mahayana Buddhist University.”

Under the great Manjushri Lama Tsongkhapa, Kyabje Pabongkha Chogtrul Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche, etc.
The yidam: Chakrasamvara, Yamantaka, Guyasamaja, Vajra Yogini, etc.
The main protector: Dharmapala Dorje Shugden,
Other protectors: Four Faced Mahakala, Setrep, Six-Armed Mahakala, Kalarupa, Vaishravana and Kali Devi

I myself will volunteer as the custodian and maintenance worker.

With that, I thank you again for your efforts and request those of you in the international community to write to your local and federal representatives, to bring light to this issue of religious freedom. It will help in the long run.

Thank you,

Mahabodhi

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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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