Karmapa Thaye Dorje and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje and Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche

By Steve Lee

The picture above shows a historic meeting in 2010 between H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje and the current incarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, a high-ranking Nyingma incarnation. The Karmapa Thaye Dorje was one of two candidates for the highest seat in the Karma Kagyu lineage and was recognized and enthroned by the Shamarpa. The Shamarpa is the second highest-ranking lama of the Karma Kagyu lineage and traditionally, it is the Shamarpa’s role and duty to recognize and enthrone incarnations of the spiritual head of the lineage – the Karmapas.

The throne of the 17th Karmapa was and still is contested by H.H. Karmapa Ogyen Trinley, another candidate recognized and enthroned by Tai Situ Rinpoche, the third highest-ranking lama of the Karma Kagyu tradition. In a break with tradition, this was done without the consent and agreement of the Shamarpa. However, Tai Situ Rinpoche somehow managed to secure the political support of the 14th Dalai Lama who quite surprisingly endorsed Ogyen Trinley in a move that has split the Karma Kagyu until this day. Many observers have voiced their opinion that the Dalai Lama should have mediated the quarrel instead of taking sides, which has resulted in devastating consequences for the Karma Kagyus.

With the Dalai Lama’s interference in what should be a Karma Kagyu matter, Ogyen Trinley was officially recognized as the 17th Karmapa. In fact, the highest court in India that presided over the court cases brought by the Karmapa Trust found that the rightful and legal occupant of the Karmapa’s seat (based on the will of the 16th Karmapa) was, in fact, the Shamarpa’s candidate, Thaye Dorje. Nevertheless, the wrong candidate was enthroned with the endorsement of the Dalai Lama and, as has become convention in modern history of Tibetans-in-exile, the Dalai Lama’s word is the law that cannot be challenged.

The Dalai Lama, and therefore the Central Tibetan Adminstration (CTA), only associates and promotes the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley and have never provided any political space and due recognition for the Karmapa Thaye Dorje. Even as it has become clear that the wrong candidate was enthroned, the Karmapa Thaye Dorje has never been granted any audience with the Dalai Lama and is even deemed to be ‘fake’. Instead of an independent impartial government, the CTA’s official activities and dealings with the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley have thus far served to galvanize this mistake.

For all intents and purposes, Ogyen Trinley then is the ‘official’ and therefore ‘true’ Karmapa endorsed by the Dalai Lama and the CTA’s diktat. Any act by anyone that goes against the Dalai Lama’s will is deemed an act of betrayal against the Dalai Lama and therefore treacherous. So, when Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche agrees to meet with the ‘unendorsed’ ‘fake’ Karmapa Thaye Dorje, he is in fact going against the decision of the Tibetan leadership and the Dalai Lama.

Another photo of H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje and Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche in 2010

Now, this is interesting because going by recent events in the Tibetan political and spiritual landscape, for example the Dorje Shugden controversy, such an act would be regarded as treason and the act of a traitor. And yet, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s decision to meet the Karmapa Thaye Dorje clearly shows his blatant disregard for the ‘official’ Tibetan stance. This is tantamount to ‘betrayal’ deserving of reproach and public condemnation as we see in the way Shugden worshippers have been treated. Yet, the Dalai Lama and CTA have said and done nothing to reprimand Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

It is obvious that the other main Tibetan Buddhist sects such as the Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya do not recognize the Dalai Lama’s self-proclaimed universal authority over all spiritual matters and do not abide by his recognition and pronouncements. On the contrary, the leaders of the Nyingmas, Kagyus and Sakyas are free to make their own decisions without fear of reproach from the Dalai Lama and the CTA, who dare not act against them nor impose the usual bullying tactics for fear of being labeled sectarian. Why then, does the Tibetan leadership admonish only Gelugpas who ignore the ban on Dorje Shugden?

Time and time again, the Dalai Lama and the CTA have heavy-handedly imposed harsh consequences on Dorje Shugden practitioners for refusing to abide by the Dalai Lama’s illegal ban on their practice, to the extent of publishing a list of Dorje Shugden supporters in the style of a “most-wanted” list, for the mere act of engaging in peaceful protests against the unconstitutional ban. Yet, when it is non-Gelugpas who blatantly flout the Dalai Lama and the CTA’s pronouncements, nothing is done. What possible reason could there be for this double-standard in enforcement other than to ensure the other sects’ support for the Dalai Lama and CTA in the political arena?

The Dalai Lama has never criticized or admonished a Lama or even an ordinary monk of another sect. Neither would any high lama of those sects simply submit to the Dalai Lama’s pronouncements. This is not because members of religious sects apart from the Gelugpas are beyond reproach, but because the Dalai Lama cannot and does not have the authority to do so. For that matter, neither do all ordinary Tibetans agree to the Dalai Lama’s decisions as we can see in the continuing call of most Tibetans for the CTA to seek full independence from Chinese rule, even though the Dalai Lama has opted for autonomy instead. Again, we do not see those seeking Tibetan independence punished for disagreeing with the Dalai Lama. Only the worshippers of Dorje Shugden are singled out and targeted.

The Karmapa Ogyen Trinley backed by the Dalai Lama

One might argue that perhaps the Tibetan leadership does not admonish lamas and monks from other sects because they do not have the necessary knowledge to interfere. After all, that is the illogical excuse that they always use – they do not know enough about the other sects to interfere. We at DorjeShugden.com firmly believe that it works both ways. If the Tibetan leadership feels they are suitably qualified to recognise the Heads of other Buddhist traditions, then they should feel equally qualified to reprimand monks and leaders who meet with the candidates they do not recognise.

Why does the Tibetan leadership not go all the way in their support for their own candidate? If they truly support the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley, then they should reprimand everyone equally for meeting with Thaye Dorje, regardless of what sect they are from. The Tibetan leadership should not speak up only when the lama who disagrees with their edicts is a Gelugpa, but remain quiet when the lamas who disagree are from the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu sects. It is a clear indication that the Tibetan leadership does not operate in a democratic, fair manner in applying their policies to all Tibetans. It is in fact, embarrassing for the leadership to have so little conviction in their own decisions, that they do not uphold them consistently and regardless of the rank and background of the perpetrator.

Thus when the Tibetan leadership demonises Gangchen Rinpoche for meeting with the Chinese-recognised Panchen Lama, but they fail to reprimand other lineages’ monks for meeting candidates they do not recognise, the Tibetan leadership’s intent is clear – they wish to court favours and support from the other sects. Gangchen Rinpoche practices Dorje Shugden and therefore anything he does will be manipulated in order to demonise him, in the process disregarding any of the other great works he has done.

We would ask the Tibetan leadership to be fair in their policies to all. Governments should not pick and choose who their policies apply to, on the basis of what the person or organisation can provide for them. In transparent, democratic nations, such corruption would not be tolerated. If the Tibetan leadership feels they have the necessary authority to recognise a person who will provide spiritual guidance to millions of people, then they should have the necessary authority to apply sanctions to anyone from ANY tradition who disregards their policies. The role of a government is to implement the law regardless of an individual’s race, religion, ideology, faith and relationship with them.

It appears that respect and rule of law within Tibetan society is a commodity to be traded for political support and only granted to non-Gelugpas, while Gelugpa practitioners of Dorje Shugden must continue to suffer in silence, since the Dalai Lama can do as he likes within his own sect without fear of repercussions.

Clearly there is a policy of unfairness against Dorje Shugden Lamas and lay worshippers, and the Dalai Lama has forced every level of state machinery and Tibetan society to impose and enforce a very personal prejudice against a group of Buddhists who have fallen out of favor. There cannot be any doubt that the ban against Dorje Shugden is simply the product of pure discrimination by the Dalai Lama, hollow in reason, tradition and law, and therefore should be abolished without question.



More Photos of H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje with Other Spiritual and Political Leaders

Today the Karmapa Thaye Dorje continues to be revered by a large percentage of Karma Kagyus as their rightful leader and is accorded great respect from other Tibetan Buddhist leaders without reproach from the Tibetan leadership.

H.H. Sakya Trizin, head of the Sakya sect and H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje

H.H. Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, spiritual head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage and H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje

H.H. Karmapa Thaye Dorje and the King of Bhutan

H.E. Gangchen Rinpoche meets the young Chinese-backed 11th Panchen Lama. This photo triggered accusations towards Gangchen Rinpoche, a Dorje Shugden Lama, of being traitorous to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan cause for independence.

Dechen Tulku Rinpoche pictured here with Za Choeje Rinpoche who hails from Drepung Loseling Monastery. Za Choeje Rinpoche purportedly does not practice Shugden but still engages in pujas and prayers together with Dechen Tulku Rinpoche. We can only guess Za Choeje is not afraid of the wrath of the CTA and the Tibetan leadership by being together.

His Holiness Sharmapa Rinpoche of the Karma Kagyu Sect. In relations to the Karmapa, he is the second highest in their lineage. He has been consistently ousted by the CTA and the Tibetan leadership. By right Sharmapa is the one who should recognize the current Karmapa. But the CTA and Tibetan leadership interfered and recognized Ogyen Trinley and sidelined Sharmapa’s candidate Thaye Dorje. Pictured is Dechen Tulku Rinpoche who is a outspoken proponent of Dorje Shugden’s practice. Dechen Tulku is on the CTA’s hit list as one of the enemies of the Tibetan Leadership. You can see Sharmapa and Dechen Tulku meeting not in fear of CTA or the Tibetan leadership.


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8 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. There is no justice and lack of fundamental principles in the Central Tibetan Administration. Their days are numbered and the whole wide world are watching them.

  2. See a photo of His Holiness the Sakya Trizin hosting the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley to a meal here:


  3. I read with disgust the double standard of the undemocratic ruling elite who calls themselves CTA. Looks like Tibetan constitution is built on the framework of dictatorship, prejudice and unfairness. And I thought Buddhists are supposed to practice the middle path! It is clear now that this administration has abandoned their commitment to values for their own social, political and economic interest. How shameful.

  4. Is so unfair ! I suppose Buddhist should practice compassion and kindness why is that violent and political issue involved in a genuine practice very sad to see this happen .

  5. Shrug den is gay

  6. Gang hen rimponche is a fuking douche bag

  7. Anti-Shugdenists like the one above is undharmic and uncivilised. Vulgarity is their way of life. My prayers for them. OM MANI PADME HUM.

  8. This website is to provide information for everyone to learn more of Dorje Shugden. Comments and debates should be in a civilized manner, without derogatory remarks made against any religious lamas and certainly no vulgarities. You may make comments here minus what I wrote above, this is democracy unlike the unjust ban put on the practice of Dorje Shugden by Dalai Lama and enforced inhumanely by the CTA.

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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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