Mountain Phoenix on Dorje Shugden

Dorje Shugden

I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of blog posts by Tibetan Mountain Phoenix on her blog ‘Mountain Phoenix over Tibet’ which provides some interesting analyses of the Dorje Shugden issue from a less biased point of view than other Tibetan commentators:

Even though the blog posts were a couple of years old but the issues she refers to are still relevant, unfortunately. In her first post, amusingly titled ‘Ghostbusters: I ain’t afraid of no ghost’, she says:

“ Even if the pro-ghost people were all unpatriotic, selfish, pro-Chinese, Kundun-haters, and devil-worshippers, I’d wish the Kundun followers wouldn’t behave like riffraff. Honestly, it’s not flattering to the Dalai Lama to have such a following. I would wish for His Holiness to distance himself from this kind of behaviour. And I would also wish he would stop raising the issue in public. From an innocent bystander point of view, it would be more effective to debate the issue with the defiant Lamas and Geshes directly. After all, it’s them who need to be persuaded. The collateral damage of raising the issue in front of the public has reached a frightening proportion.

Actually, I wish Kundun would consider dropping this issue altogether – just like what some of the Tibetan media have done. He has successfully discouraged the practice for years. So then the ones who remain stubborn just can’t be helped, can they? Why not leave it at that? There can’t be too many renegades left by now, can there? A couple of Lamas here and there, and most are keeping a low profile anyway. If the Dalai Lama stops to speak against the practice, they will stop defending themselves. If he intensifies his efforts, they will too. The way I see it, it is Kundun that controls this. “

‘Kundun’ is a name for the Dalai Lama. The destruction of Dorje Shugden’s practice has been an obsession of the Dalai Lama for over thirty years. He can’t stop mentioning it in public.

As Mountain Phoenix says:

“The collateral damage of raising the issue in front of the public has reached a frightening proportion.”

It certainly has. Every time the Dalai Lama mentions it, there is a witch-hunt in which innocent Dorje Shugden practitioners are persecuted. They are already denied basic human rights such as travel permits, education and medical treatment. They are also barred from shops because of their religious beliefs. This has gone on for far too long and has even resulted in a split within the spiritual community. Dorje Shugden worshipping monks have been expelled from the monasteries under the control of the ‘Ganden Podrang’ or Tibetan Government in Exile and have had to build their own monasteries of Shar Gaden and Serpom. The division caused by the Dalai Lama’s words is probably irreparable, even if he were to retract his statements.

Mountain Phoenix wants to say this to the Dalai Lama:

Dear Kundun,
Do you surf the net sometimes? I really hope so. I humbly wish you would read what a fellow Tibetan has to say and people like Acha Purbu-la think. I wish you would agree that this ghost hunt leads us nowhere and is disrupting social harmony. I wish you would stop making the ghost an issue and lead us again on the path to cope with the big problems that lie ahead of us as a people.

Sadly, because she follows the Dalai Lama, she refers to Dorje Shugden as ‘a ghost’, even though later she acknowledges that there is a view held by some that he is a Buddha:

“To be fair to the other side, I should mention that they don’t think they are worshipping a ghost. For them, the ghost is an enlightened being (a Buddha or something to that effect). A view, that many people don’t like to hear, no Tibetan media reports on, and nobody wants to openly talk about. Nevertheless, if the other side believes the ghost is a divine Being, it is their right. Likewise, it is the right of the mainstream people to believe that the ghost is a demon. It is their right to believe in one way or the other but just keep quiet about it. On the other hand, one can opt out from making a stand and just keep quiet about it.”

She refers to Dorje Shugden as a demon and calls it a mainstream view. This shows how much damage the Dalai Lama’s view has caused in the last thirty years. Through blind faith in ‘Kundun’ and his draconian ban on the practice, Tibetans have turned away from the practice of Dorje Shugden, a once mainstream Gelugpa practice. However, there are those who sincerely wish to keep their commitments to their spiritual Teachers and have steadfastly refused to abandon the practice; and they have been marginalized and ostracised from Tibetan society.

Her final conclusion puts Tibetan democracy to the test and it is a more balanced outlook:

“The way Tibetans have been handling the Dholgyal/Shugden issue says quite a bit about the state of our democratic values. We, Tibetans are okay with dissenters being forced into obedience. We see nothing wrong with this political method. We have no issues with the Dalai Lama exerting pressure on dissenters by using secular government bodies and tolerating the taking of oaths and signatures in his name. Some even believe it is their duty to expose Dholgyal/Shugden supporters and slander them.”

Sadly, not much has changed since Mountain Phoenix wrote her original blog post two years ago. The Dalai Lama is still speaking out against the practice (even as recently as last month) and Dorje Shugden practitioners are still being ostracised and vilified by the majority of Tibetans.

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7 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Thanks for sharing this. Very well presented points and accompanying commentary and I am encouraged to see a more balanced point of view which isn’t so aggressive and slanderous from a Tibetan.

    I’d like to share this on the forum too if that’s okay with you – would be great to get some discussion going as to how different points of view can be presented without necessarily being aggressive or offensive.

  2. Yes, this is definitely a more balanced and less biassed view, coming from the opposite camp, in regard to the pro- and anti-Shugden conflict.
    She suggests ‘to stop raising the issue in public’ but instead she advocates that the Dalai Lama engage in direct debate with the ‘defiant Lamas and Geshes’ as, in her own words, this would be ‘more effective’. Hers is a voice of peace, albeit the lone voice in the wilderness.

  3. Mountain Phoenix’s voice of peace is a rather muted one.’Peace’ in its truest sense means ‘zero conflict’. A mind state of ‘zero conflict’ can only stem from a non-dualistic mind, a mind that has no clinging to the sense of ‘I’.
    Thus we must continue to believe in and advocate ‘non-partisanship’ as the way forward.This is because non-partisanship in regard to this seeming great conflict is indicative of a selfless or non-dualistic mind and a mind of Bodhicitta. This is, in itself, a reflection of the ‘enlightened mind’ of Dorje Shugden.

  4. I guess Mountain Phoenix does not mean to say that Dorje Shugden is a ghost. Sometimes we do not know what the mind of the other person what the word is to be meant. I think she meant a spirit not a ghost as she had later claimed Dorje Shugden is a Buddha. I like the way she said why don’t Dalai Lama come out into the open and rectify with the Dorje Shugden’s practitioners. Instead of just slapping a Ban on the Dorje Shugden practitioners using Tibetan government politics. This is not a Government Political issue. This is Spiritual issue.

  5. I respect the sharing by Mountain Phoenix. However, I doubt Dalai Lama is going to go public to rectify this or lift the ban.

    The question is who do we see Dalai Lama as.

    If he is Avalokiteshvara, then we will see that all these seemingly harmful actions are actually not so and the motivation and ultimate goal is to liberate us.

    If we see him as a samsaric being, then what proof have we got? Do we want to take the risk of jeapordizing our own practice….how will this view bring benefit to us.

    I choose not to size up the Dalai Lama. I don’t dare. Focusing on clearing wrong views about the Protector Dorje Shugden will be more beneficial for the little time I have in this life.

  6. Instead of putting the main focus on Dorje Shugden issue. The Tibetan Government should in fact do things for their people and the country and concentrate more on important issues. I believe this controversy regarding Dorje Shugden is Tibetan politics. Then why is the whole world of Dorje Shugden followers be affected. On the other hand Dalai Lama is suppose to be the Tibetan Spiritual Leader and are not supposed to be involved in Politics.

  7. Dalai Lama has always took on both the spiritual and political role as far back as the incarnation of The Great 5th. With this dual role, he has preserved Tibetan Buddhism and brought it to the international forefront but of course, many will also critique and question how theocratic feudal system of governance has not helped TIbet to advance as a nation.

    How dependent or not how the Tibetan Government function in relation to the Dalai Lama’s influence is unknown to me. Have and will the Tibetans tow the line with TGIE without the Dalai Lama?

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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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