The Questionable Policies of the FPMT

This article was written in reference to a policy published by FPMT regarding their organization’s stance on the Dorje Shugden issue. We at felt it necessary to comment on the misinformation and inaccuracies contained within FPMT’s document which is available here on their website (in PDF format) or here on our server (in Word format).



Dear friends of FPMT,

We hope you are well and that your Dharma activities flourish greatly everywhere.

We write with much distress since we came across this recent document regarding a public policy that has been issued by the Foundation of the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) organization. As one of the largest leading Buddhist organizations in the world, it is surprising and disappointing to see that you would make such statements, which we feel are not at all in the spirit of Buddhist teachings. Your stance and policy vis-à-vis “The Shugden Issue” is attached here for your convenience, which we will refer to within this letter.

Of course, it is the prerogative of every organization and institution to establish policies for their members. It is necessary, in fact. There is however, a fine line between simply stating a policy regarding certain issues and practices, and passing judgment on another’s practice or on other practitioners. This policy, we feel, crosses this fine line in several places, which we will address:

1. We find it interesting that the statements against the practice of Shugden are necessarily and intricately tied in to “support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” You state, for example,

FPMT has made a commitment to support His Holiness, because of understanding the reasons why His Holiness has advised against this practice. Due to our commitment, we do not share our materials and facilities with those who knowingly continue to practice Shugden against this advice.

This strongly implies that Shugden practitioners are deliberately not heeding the Dalai Lama’s advice. This is not a correct assumption to make nor to suggest because: – Shugden practitioners may not necessarily be students of the Dalai Lama and therefore are not obliged in any way to follow his instructions. They are not contravening any “advice” by continuing their practice; nor does it mean that they are not supporting His Holiness. – Further, although Shugden practitioners are not following the same advice and practices as you, as a Dharma practitioner, shouldn’t you still extend your help and aid to them? It seems very strange that we would offer aid and blessings to animals and spirits, but not wish to share materials and facilities with someone just because they make a different religious choice.

2. A part of your document about the Shugden issue includes extensive guidelines on how centers must state “[clearly] that the center supports His Holiness” in all your printed and online materials. Why is this directive being stated in the context of the Shugden issue? This necessarily and automatically implies that Shugden practitioners are against the Dalai Lama and do not support him. As has already been pointed out above, this is NOT the case and a person’s choice to practice Shugden is not an act of defiance or disloyalty.

Of course, we rejoice to hear of how much you support His Holiness. However, surely the support of a spiritual leader should be inherent within a center’s practices, out of a sincere respect and devotion to him; it should not reiterated in the context of not doing a particular practice. It appears very political in this way.

3. In “supporting” the Dalai Lama’s ban against Dorje Shugden, you thus also support the very reasons for denouncing Shugden’s practice. If anyone is well versed in the most basic tenets of Buddhism, they would realise that these reasons are illogical and against the practice and most fundamental Dharma teachings. How can FPMT purport to give authentic Dharma teachings and practices to their members and students, when they are promoting policies like this that completely contravene the teachings of Buddha? These points can be very easily disputed, as follows:

i. The danger of Tibetan Buddhism degenerating into a form of spirit worship. Thousands of highly attained masters – including the Dalai Lama in his earlier years, Lama Yeshe (the founder of FPMT) and even Lama Zopa have recognized Dorje Shugden as an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri. How can all these masters make such a huge error to confuse a Buddha with a spirit? Can they all have been wrong? We don’t think so. Engaging in Dorje Shugden’s practice is NOT one of spirit worship, but one that we can take full refuge in and gain attainments by.

ii. Obstacles to the emergence of genuine non-sectarianism. In stating this, you seem to support the claim that Shugden practitioners are sectarian. How is this the case? How is it that Shugden practitioners are sectarian? They simply follow the instructions, teachings and practices given to them by their teachers, within their monasteries and lineage. Just because they do not take teachings from other teachers or sects does not mean they are sectarian! This is the same practice across all lineages. Further, if you were to study the propitiation and prayer texts of Dorje Shugden, nowhere will you find any encouragement towards acting in sectarian ways. This claim is irrational and untrue.

iii. The practice is especially inappropriate in relation to the well-being of Tibetan society. – Firstly, how can a religious practice affect the secular running and well-being of Tibetan society (or any society)? Isn’t the well-being of the people the responsibility of the government and secular authorities? It does not make sense to say that a single practice or a so-called “spirit” can impact the well-being of an entire society.

- Secondly, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people is His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is broadly recognized as the emanation of Chenrezig and therefore, fully enlightened. To say that a certain practice would affect Tibetan society is to say that this one being of Shugden (who you claim to be a spirit) has more influence and power than the Dalai Lama himself. How is this possible? Again, it is illogical.

- Lastly, there are many, many FPMT centers around the world that are NOT situated within Tibetan societies of communities. They operate within completely different countries and governing laws, and the centers are run by people who are not of Tibetan origin at all. How would their Dharma practice have any bearing on the Tibetans? It is like saying that if a Christian prayed to a certain saint, it would badly affect the Italians. It is illogical!

4. Another point you make is this:

Center libraries should not contain books by known Shugden practitioners Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition) and Gangchen Rinpoche. The purpose of this exclusion is to avoid generating confusion among students about who is a reliable Tibetan Buddhist teacher.

It is surprising and saddening that your policy also includes judgments of other Buddhist teachers. We respect every center’s right to choose any books they wish as study material or for their libraries. However, this should not allow you to pass judgment on the reliability or caliber of any Lama. To say this, you are directly inferring that teachers like Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his entire organisation of the New Kadampa Tradition and Gangchen Rinpoche are not “reliable Tibetan Buddhist teachers”. Please remember that both these teachers studied under the same Guru, Trijang Rinpoche, as FPMT’s own spiritual guide and founder, Lama Zopa and Lama Yeshe. The teachings they give around the world follow exactly these teachings from the holy lineage of Trijang Rinpoche and Pabongka Rinpoche, including the Lamrim, which we are sure is also practiced within FPMT.

5. It is most shocking that you would try to discourage Shugden practitioners from joining other Buddhist unions and organizations. First and foremost, Buddhism is not dictated solely by the Dalai Lama; nor does it “belong to” and is ruled by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans. There are many, many Buddhists in the world who have not even heard of his name. Buddhist unions and organizations do not only comprise groups that are under the direction or lineage of the Dalai Lama; they include groups from all sects and traditions, so whether or not someone practices Shugden should not even be an issue.

Supporting the Dalai Lama is always a good thing for he is a great teacher and has done so much for the Dharma. But he does not have any right to determine any individual’s practice and freedom of religion, especially if they are not his students. By discouraging anyone from joining a Buddhist union or group is very disharmonious and serves only to create greater conflict within the Buddhist community. You show the world that this is how you treat fellow Buddhists.

Actually, if you really believed that this practice of Shugden was “harmful” and “bad”, wouldn’t you want, all the more, to help these people to understand things better instead of just simply excluding and disassociating from them? In the Buddhist teachings, we are encouraged to help the most difficult beings, to extend help and blessings even to spirits! But we would turn away Shugden practitioners who are, essentially, also fellow Buddhists? Shouldn’t we be even kinder and more patient with them, to help them understand a “correct” way? We are writing out of sincere and genuine concern; not out of any wish to antagonize or offend. If our words have sounded harsh, we apologise. It is not our intention to disrespect or hurt, for we greatly admire the many decades of work and dedicate of FPMT to bring Dharma everywhere. However, we are most disturbed seeing this policy that you have issued and wish only to draw your attention to these matters.

We hope you will take the time to consider what we have written. Whether you choose to practice Dorje Shugden or not is not for us to judge, but we sincerely request you, at the very least, not to disparage, belittle, push away or put down Shugden practitioners in this way. They are Buddhists too, they are people too, many of them are very sincere practitioners with great devotion to their teachers and the Three Jewels, and carry the very same spiritual aspirations as your good selves.

With prayers, | |


Read the discussion on Facebook! Click below to see what people have been saying about this article, and join in the discussion by clicking HERE.


For further reading:

Where is Lama Yeshe? (

FPMT Lineage Masters are Dorje Shugden Believers (

FPMT, Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden (

A True Inspiration: Claudio Cipullo (

Fabrizio Pallotti (

Politically Correct at the Expense of the Lineage (

Lama Yeshe and Geshe Rabten (

The Broken Samayas of FPMT (

Lama Zopa admitted to being recognized by Dorje Shugden (

Recognized by Dorje Shugden, but Speaks against Dorje Shugden (

Kopan Monks Asking for Dorje Shugden Puja for Lama Zopa (

Dakini Healed Lama Zopa? (

Who made Lama Zopa a Rinpoche? (

A Tribute to Ven. Lama Yeshe Rinpoche (

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6 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. In the spirit of Buddhism, there ought to be joys for all buddhists regardless of sects. All sects and practices in Buddhism is a ‘pointer’ towards moon. These pointers must not be in conflict against one another but praise one another as the destination is the same on moon in its pointers. Denying the Buddhism practices is against Buddha Sakyamuni and contaminate your compassionate heart. For buddhism to be in its usual lustre during Buddha era in India, praise the Buddhism sects of one another and hold no control against other religions or non religions. If there is doubt, please relies on dharma instead of people or disciple of Buddha Sakyamuni on Buddhism practices.

  2. ☹️

    It didn’t have to be this way, but they gave up their samaya and as a result- Lama Osel disrobed, never finished his studies, achieved nothing much in his secular life, just running around with his girlfriend and clubbing in Ibizia, Spain. His previous life accomplished so much with the help of his determination, hard work and Dorje Shugden. Lama Yeshe credited much of his success to the help he was bestowed by Dorje Shugden. By FPMT abanding Dorje Shugden, they broke their samaya with their lineage gurus such as Trijang Rinpoche and Zong Rinpoche from whom they received the Dorje Shugden sogtae commitment practice. Also it was with Lama Yeshe’s permission they received sogtae from these great masters. By abandoning the practice, they broke their spiritual bond (samaya) which is sacred in tantra with Lama Yeshe and lineage lamas. So it is no surprise Lama Yeshe came back in this incarnation unable to manifest being a great dharma teacher like his previous life. It is a shame and embarrassment to FPMT that Lama Osel ended up not doing much. It is a testimony to their failure in keeping their samaya to their guru and lineage lamas. FPMT wanted fame and rub shoulders with the famous and in return, they lost Lama Yeshe. After Lama Zopa passes away, FPMT will just go down for sure. No one can take over. Breaking their samaya was the wrong thing to do. 💔👎Too bad.

    So many more pictures and information to read here:


    lama Yeshe as Vajrasattva with consort in Tushita FPMT dharamsala


  3. 😆Lama Zopa, who has received sogtae (initiation of Dorje Shugden) from His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, had said that: 👍

    “Lama (Yeshe) and I practiced Shugden for many years. That was always the main thing that Lama did whenever there were problems to overcome. At the beginning of every Kopan course, Lama always did Shugden puja to eliminate hindrances.”

    “My root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche; Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru’s root guru; His Holiness Zong Rinpoche, from whom many of the older students received the initiation of Shugden; and the previous incarnation of Gomo Rinpoche, who has a strong connection with Istituto Lama Tsongkhapa, here in Italy, all promoted the practice of Shugden.”

    Photos: 1) Teachings by H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche to FPMT students. 2) As Lama Yeshe reached the end of his life, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came to the hospital to do prayers for Lama Yeshe. Lama Yeshe was very devoted to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden till the end.


    ZR - LY

  4. In FPMT’s centre called Tushita in Dharamsala, North India, they have a statue of Lama Yeshe in the form of Vajrasattva with consort. Now the question is simple: If Lama Yeshe practised Dorje Shugden, then he is a bad lama, so why doesn’t FPMT stop the homage/respect to their founding father Lama Yeshe? If they trust him, they will go to three lower realms for worshipping Lama Yeshe who worshipped Dorje Shugden. And all statues of Lama Yeshe should be discarded from all their centres right? In fact, in nearby Gaden Choling Nunnery in Dharamsala, the nun’s took their Dorje Shugden statue out of their main prayer hall where it was worshipped for decades and destroyed the statue in the garbage dump and jumped up and down on it to further desecrate it.

    Furthermore they make a Dorje Shugden worshipping Lama Yeshe in the form of divinity as Buddha Vajrasattva. That is a double-whammy no right? Why is FPMT so contradictory? Why are they blind to this double standard?

    If they wish to disassociate from Dorje Shugden lamas, they have to disassociate from their own centre-founding Lama who is Lama Yeshe. They must set the example right. Everyone knows Lama Yeshe worshipped, trusted and believed in Dorje Shugden till the end of his life. Lama Yeshe is the one that founded FPMT, so they have to be clean across the board and be honest right? If disassociate, then do it all the way. They should have no pictures, statues and images of Lama Yeshe at all. They should not be making images of him as a deity (Vajrasattva) as that is even more wrong according to their stance against Shugden and Shugden Lamas.

    Why encourage their members to worship a Dorje Shugden loving Lama like Lama Yeshe? That is what they are doing when they keep all his images in their centres around the world. They are sending the wrong message out. Lama Yeshe was wrong in their view to practice Dorje Shugden. Lama Yeshe broke his refuge vows by practicing Dorje Shugden. Lama Yeshe’s lineage, teachings, initiations and commentaries are all corrupted because he worshipped Dorje Shugden. So they should ritually expel his images from their centres with immediate effect to be in the clean arena.

    Dalai Lama said if you worship Dorje Shugden, no one should associate with you and you will go to hell. So how come FPMT still keeps a statue of Lama Yeshe in many of their centres? Is that not hypocrisy?

    Pics attached: Lama Yeshe as Vajrasattva with Consort housed in Tushita Centre, Dharamsala AND Lama Zopa prostrating to a statue of Lama Yeshe



  5. I do not understand how a Lama like Lama Rinpoche can write things like this, when it is well-known that he himself gave Dorje Shugden initiations and told the initiates that they were incurring a lifelong obligation to continue the practice, and that breaking such an obligation would incur grave negative karma. It is very confusing and frankly, depressing.

    Lama Zopa has written some excellent books, such as his work on the Medicine Buddha. However, his logic in this foreword is gravely flawed and perhaps even essentially anti-Buddhist. For instance, he says, “If the Precious Victorious One, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is not the actual Buddha and Arya Avalokiteshvara, then you can say that in this world there is no emanation of Buddha benefiting sentient beings. In this way bodhicitta and the entire teachings of the Buddha become false.”

    Say what??? I do not know whether the Dalai Lama is or is not an emanation of Avalokiteshvara, though, based on his words and actions, I sincerely doubt it. (I mean, the man has repeatedly stated in countless interviews that he is not enlightened, and seems to relish scoffing at the notion that he might be). Regardless, the fact that the Dalai Lama is or is not such an emanation has nothing whatsoever to do with whether there are other emanations of Buddha currently on earth benefitting sentient beings.

    Logically, one does not rule out the possibility that other living Buddhas exist today, or other emanations of Avalokiteshvara, simply by denying that the Dalai Lama is such a one. If I deny that my wife is a panda bear, I am not denying that pandas exist. Indeed, to make a claim of exclusivity on the Dalai Lama’s behalf, as Lama Zopa has done, is really anti-Mahayanan in spirit, for it belittles and denigrates the efficacy of all other Buddhist schools and traditions. Someone seems to have imported the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility into Dharamsala, and now they are beginning to round up the infidels and burn them at the stake.

    It is the height of irony that Lama Zopa urges practitioners to examine their beliefs openly and honestly, and then states as a matter of fact that the Dalai Lama is omniscient and one must adhere to what the ‘omniscient one’ says. Am I not permitted to question whether the Dalai Lama is truly omniscient, and to judge this claim by the evidence of the man’s words and actions? Am I not allowed to take him at his word when he says he is NOT omniscient? Am I not allowed to question his lack of success in defending the cause of Tibet, or his lack of compassion in his treatment of Shugden practitioners, or his bumbling manner in any number of interviews, or his willingness to be used as a CIA puppet or guest editor of a highly immoral fashion magazine?

    Sadly, the recent actions of Lama Zopa and the Dalai Lama have completely soured me on Tibetan Buddhism. I have been forced to turn back to the Theravadan and Chinese teachings, because I will never again turn my will and intellect over to a guru who demands total obedience, even when he teaches one thing today and a completely different thing tomorrow. With this version of Buddhism, it’s a heads-you-win, tails-I-lose situation for the sincere follower … any faults of the guru are really the fault of the practitioner, whose bad karma has caused those faults to manifest. And even when the guru manifests obvious error, he still is not to be questioned because the error again is in the eye of the practitioner and only through blind loyalty can he cleanse his karma to the point where sincere questioning is of any value. If this is the case, then there is no point in advising practitioners to question and judge the teachings, because their bad karma will not allow them to make reasonable judgments. Reason itself is banished; it has become soiled and fallen and no longer can be trusted. Blind obedience becomes the only permitted path … you must believe in the Dalai Lama because he is a priori infallible and any evidence to the contrary is not credible, because ONLY the Dalai Lama represents Buddha in today’s world and EVERYONE ELSE is deluded.

    And so the question arises: if I am required to have blind faith in the Dalai Lama in order to be “saved”, what separates this form of Buddhism from any other exclusivist, country-club members only, religion? What separates Buddhism from the monotheistic religions once reason has been outlawed? You can use the same “your bad karma prevents you from seeing things as they are” argument to justify any religion, any cult, any superstition, any belief whatsoever. It might take a slightly different form — “your ways are not God’s ways,” or “your reason was broken in the original fall from grace of sinful man,” but the essence is the same: don’t trust yourself, look to others, particularly those who are held up as masters, for the truth. In this way, Lama Zopa’s attempt to defend the Dalai Lama becomes an atomic weapon capable of destroying any and all religious belief, or empowering any and all zealots of every stripe.

    I find all of this unworthy of the spirit of inquiry I believe Buddha Shakyamuni promoted, and the spirit of compassion that Avalokiteshvara represents. I hope that one day all the confusion that these modern-day avatars have sowed will be cleared up and those of us who relied upon them as examples and guides on the spiritual path will have our disappointments honestly and frankly acknowledged and rectified.

    Comment left by a Howard from

    Picture attached: HH Zong Rinpoche performs last rites for Venerable Lama Yeshe. Both these lamas were totally devoted to Dorje Shugden until they passed. Decades later, Lama Zopa who has abandoned his guru Lama Yeshe’s practice of Dorje Shugden, to befriend the Dalai Lama.


  6. Where is the lama yeshe & zang Rimpoche at present address la can u send me la both Rimpoche address la

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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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