An Interesting Exchange

The Situation Within the Monasteries

This exchange between “beggar” and “mahabodhi” has been extracted from the forum. It shares some interesting information about the situation experienced by monks within the monastic communities. Of course, since this exchange, Dokhang Khangtsen did separate from Gaden Shartse to form their own monastery, Shar Gaden.

Venerable Mahabodhi,

For the benefit of our readers and hopefully the larger public, could you describe to us in detail what the situation will look like in Seramey and Shartse colleges once the total clampdown has happened, so that everyone one can get an actual impression and clear picture of how life will be for the Sangha there?

Thank you very much again and ahead of time!

Yours, beggar

PS: something I’ve mused over for a while now… why or how is it that Dr. Thubten Jinpa has been a close disciple of Zemey Rinpoche and is now the main translator of His Holiness the Dalai Lama? Would you know anything about how this ‘transition’ happened?


Dear beggar,

I used to own that title, but no longer. Someday when we see one another, you will know mahabodhi.

As time permits, I will be happy to share my knowledge. However, due to my poor written English it requires a second set of hands and takes some time to put together.

First, let me say that when I read this forum I notice some honest students who are sharing their own experiences and their own practice, mentioning where initiations were received, etc. Please let me make this small contribution. I understand that this information is being shared in earnest, without much showing off so-to-say, but in order to benefit all sentient beings, and to maintain one’s own tantric samaya, any tantric empowerments or initiations that one has received, or commentaries, retreats, etc… it is not necessary to share the details of these events.

It is quite enough to say “I am qualified to talk about this subject…” or, maybe “I am barely qualified to talk about this subject… “. In this way you keep the practice safely between yourself and your kind root gurus. Even if the deity that you practice is known throughout the world, to you it should be a sacred and very secret practice held close to your heart.

Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang once shared this story: A Chinese emperor once requested Gongtang Jamphel Yang [Manjushri] to teach him the secret dharma. Gongtang Jamphel Yang ushered him close and then whispered in his ear “om bendza pani hung.”
“So…” Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang says, “What does that mean?” The mantra of Vajrapani was known to everyone and a very popular mantra. However, in this case, it was the main meditational deity of Gongtang Jamphel Yang, and thus it was his secret practice.

So, in this way we can communicate without damaging our tantric vows… it might be beneficial.

Now to answer your first question regarding the current situation within our monasteries, it is a very sad time. Even during the 5th Dalai Lama’s time it did not happen like this. We had our own country and the monastic institutions had their own power… and thus the ability to stand on their own two feet. Here and there Gaden Phodrang attempted to bring down some lamas, but it was unable to tackle the great monastic institutions.

Now we are refugees in India, without a country. The success of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is due to the kindness of his senior and junior tutors and the respect of the Tibetan people. And yet, the very moment they and the other great Gelugpa masters of that time passed away His Holiness immediately began to stir up the Tibetan community, even within individual families. Kungo Palden Tsering, Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang’s attendant and a former Tibetan Minster, highly regarded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile, was the last one to pass before they were comfortable to begin this campaign. A few months before Kungo Palden Tsering-la passed, my friend and I took him to the Pitampura Train Station in Delhi on his way to Dharamsala. As we were walking, he said to me: “Son, you are young. When you are older some sad times might come. We Ministers used to have a saying, ‘You can remove your hat in respect for others, but don’t let the arch of their foot onto the back of your neck.’” I remember these words very clearly and especially at this time. It gives me the strength to speak the truth, without praising or criticizing someone based on my own like or dislike, but based on my knowledge of the facts.

dokhang

Members of Dokhang Khangtsen before the split

As I mentioned before, I am not really all that impressed with the recent voting issue. So far, twelve Gelug monasteries have presented 10,495 yellow sticks… no one has chosen the red stick. On February 9th Gaden Shartse and Sera Mey will choose their sticks. From Gaden Shartse, the majority of Dokhang Khangtsen’s members have already told their abbot and the other members of their college that they will not choose a stick and will not take the oath. There might be a few members of Dokhang Khangtsen who will choose the yellow stick and join in taking the oath, but the vast majority have made their decision, a long time ago actually. Sera Mey’s Pombra khangtsen it is likely a similar story – I’m not sure of the ratio of members.

The oath, which I don’t think has been mentioned here yet has likely occurred in most of the monasteries so far. In Gaden Jangtse, in front of the Palden Lhamo thangka and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s picture, as well as the voting representatives, the abbot, chanting master and disciplinarian, each monk stood and pledged that they will not practice Dorje Shugden and will have no relation with any practitioners or their supporters in the future.

Basically His Holiness and the Tibetan Government in Exile are dismantling the monastic community, with particular emphasis on Gaden Shartse and Sera Mey. I can tell you, the 5th Dalai Lama is not the founder of Gaden Shartse – it was founded by Neten Rinchen Gyaltsen, Sthavira, one of the main disciples of Lama Tsong Khapa. The first abbot of Gaden Shartse was Khedrup Rinpoche. Several abbots later Gaden Shartse Trantsang and Sangpo Nyarong Tratsang [called Sangpo Yarcho - where the summer debates were held] merged together and at the same time, the great protector of Sangpo Nyarong, Dharmapala Setrap, became the main protector of Gaden Shartse. Many great abbots have taken their seat at Gaden Shartse. To this day, in the monastery the names of all these abbots are recited in a lineage prayer each morning, just prior to the debate time. Within Gaden Shartse there are eleven houses. In order to have this college, one has to have these eleven houses. It would be like taking the arm from a body and calling it a complete body.

Tibetans have a saying: “Water runs beneath the bridge – even though the water itself moves on, the bridge must remain steadfast.” So Gaden Shartse itself must be like the bridge and let these politics and controversies which His Holiness, the Tibetan Exile Government and those monks within Gaden Shartse who are working for them, pass by without damaging the bridge. The monastic community as a whole must think clearly about what kind of movement is really going on. There are those like the monks of Dokhang Khangtsen who are honest, who are appreciating their monastery and who have taken responsibility for their actions and are saying they will remove themselves. They are making this choice on behalf of the monastery and the peace between their fellow monks. Down the road, some might say that they kicked them out and are finally rid of them. However, these monks do not need to leave quietly, they are certainly capable of delivering a fierce debate, but through their appreciation of their monastery they are taking this responsibility on themselves.

It is my wish that Gaden Shartse can remain whole, with all of its eleven khangtsens. Who knows… the majority of the monks from Dokhang Khangtsen that are withdrawing under this pressure might offer up the name of Dokhang to those few members who choose the yellow stick, in which case the monastery will comply with the regulations being imposed, but will also remain with all of its parts.

I doubt however that this campaign will stop there. If you didn’t know, they have already “cleaned up” the Lam Rim lineage prayer and removed Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang’s name from that lineage. Sherig Pharkhang, the official printer for the Department of Religion and Culture, has even removed Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang’s name mantra from the consecration mantras that they print. This means that if one were to order the collection of mantras that are used to fill statues, stupas and many holy objects they will not include Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang.

dokhang

Dokhang Khangtsen

Regarding the monks who choose the red stick or refuse to choose at all… they will be removed as members of the monastery. Within Dokhang Khangtsen they will likely have to sit down and divide their facilities, properties, etc. However if, and I think this is unlikely, no members of Dhokhang choose the yellow stick, well, then Dokhang Khangtsen will be gone from the monastery. They may remain in Mundgod as the land there does not belong to the Tibetan Government – it is under Indian jurisdiction – and who knows… the Tibetan government might have to build some small version of the Berlin wall to really keep things “clear”.

India itself is a land of religious freedom – and as long as the Indian government takes up this issue they will support us. The Tibetan Government in Exile does not have the power to expel any individual from Indian land although they are trying to. They have even attempted to govern who is coming and going within the monasteries in Tibet, but have found little influence there. One can still find many statues of Dharmapala Dorje Shugden and his followers within the monasteries in Tibet.

I am pretty sure that the monks who are honoring their practice of Dorje Shugden will be okay. They are a large community, speaking of Dokhang Khangtsen in particular, and they will not suffer in terms of food, support, etc. They will not be able to join with the monastery in their meals, debates and prayers, however they will continue to study… they are one of the largest Khangtsens in the monastery… and will continue with their debating. They have lamas, geshes, all levels of the classes are within Dokhang Khangtsen. The Dorje Shugden Devotees Society will certainly do what they can to support both them and Pombra Khangtsen, and of course, if anyone wants to contribute to their daily living I’m certain it would be appreciated.

Now, regarding your second question: There is a Tibetan proverb that says, “If one enjoys the best and heaviest of jewelry, they must be willing to carry the weight.” Of course His Holiness needs the best, a highly educated and intelligent person. We all know the quality of His Holiness’ teachers including Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche whom he himself chose. However, we also know what happened when they disagreed with his plan.

It is not my place speak of Geshe Thubten Jinpa’s actions, this you will have to ask him directly. However I can share with you what I remember regarding his first translation for His Holiness.

Geshe Thubten Jinpa became Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche’s student and joined with Gaden Shartse College to reside at Zemey Ladrang. He was very intelligent and already spoke good English. He obtained his geshe degree at an early age and was one of the great scholars of his time. The other colleges were anxious when they knew that he was joining in the debates. In 1985, in Dharamsala, His Holiness gave initiations of Guyasamaja, Chakrasamvara and Yamantaka followed by commentary on Guyasamaja. At the same time, Geshe Thubten Jinpa came to Dharamsala to pick up some medicine for Zemey Rinpoche from Dr. Lobsang Drolma. During the initiation time, His Holiness’ main translator Lhakdor was held up in his travels and unable to make it to Dharamsala in time for the initiations. His Holiness found out that Geshe Thubten Jinpa was attending the teachings and sent a message to request him to translate. All the foreign students in attendance that day were extremely pleased with his understanding of the teachings and his handle on the English language

thubtenjinpa

The Dalai Lama and his translator, Geshe Thubten Jinpa

After that he was regularly requested to accompany His Holiness to translate both in India and abroad. I rejoice that His Holiness has found such a qualified geshe who can translate both the Sutra and Tantra with ease and clarity.

Other than that, between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Geshe Thubten Jinpa, I don’t know their relationship. It would appear that up to now they are in agreement.

With that I will close.

Best Wishes.

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3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. If Thubten Jinpa is great, it is because of all his Shugden worshipping gurus such as Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche and Kyabje Lati Rinpoche.

    Thubten Jinpa himself commissioned Dorje Shugden pujas for himself for many years.

    It was Dorje Shugden thru trance of Choyang Dulzin Kuten that told Zemey Rinpoche to take care of Thubten Jinpa as he has important work to do later. Zemey Rinpoche did just that.

    I wonder how Thubten Jinpa felt while translation for Dalai lama and Dalai Lama would have very unpleasant things to say re Zemey Rinpoche many times over.

    Dalai lama owes alot to Dorje Shugden in many ways.

    Everyone realizes that, but just keeps quiet for now. They are afraid of the Dalai Lama. But everything is impermanent and will change no doubt.

    tk

  2. It is thru the kindness of Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche that Thubten Jinpa has what he has now.

    Thubten Jinpa even lived in the house of Zemey Rinpoche (Zemey Ladrang) in Gaden Shartse. He lived together with Zemey Rinpoche.

    How kind Zemey Rinpoche has been to Thubten Jinpa.

  3. Thank you Ven. Mahabodhi for giving such a clear and precise sharing of information with beggar on the situations within the Monasteries. Ven. Mahabohdi has honestly talked about the Division of Ganden Monastery and Dokhang Monastery into two divisions. And how a wall was built to separate Dorje Shugden’s practitioners and Dalai Lama’s followers. How the monks have to pledge not to support Dorje Shugden’s practitioners. According to the votes. The marjority took the votes of the yellow sticks were people voting for the Dalai Lama and the red stick is the votes for Dorje Shugden’s practitioners. After the voting it is decided that Dokhang Monastery be separated and removed from Ganden Monastery. The Dorje Shugden monks have built a new Monastery which is separated by a wall from Ganden Monastery.

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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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