Author Topic: LAMA ZOPA WORSHIPS AT TRIJANG RINPOCHE'S STUPA (good or bad?)  (Read 21169 times)


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« on: January 07, 2012, 04:50:06 PM »

His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche is the irrefutable guru of the majority of great Gelug Contemporary masters. Many of the teachings His Holiness the Dalai Lama passes on now is from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. The Dalai Lama studied under Trijang Rinpoche for 30 years. Trijang gave teachings in Gaden, Sera and Drepung. All the attained and great masters around the world are his students.
In Vajrayana Buddhism we are taught to visualize our teachers as one with our meditational deity (yidam) or simply as a living Buddha. This way the blessings are greater when we do our practice. Whatever the teacher gives us we should follow diligently and never disparage the teachings and teacher, to do so would break all of our words and commitments related to tantra and attainments. We would never gain realizations or attainments if we dare disparage our tantric guru. Vajradhara, Guru Rinpoche, Tsongkapa, Panchen Sonam Drakpa, Tilopa, Shantideva, Naropa, Milarepa, Atisha, Kyabje Pabongka, Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche, Sakya Kunga Nyingpo, Drigung Gyabgon Rinpoche, Gaden Tripa, Jamyang Konchok Shepa, Trichen Ngawang Chokden, Panchen Lama have all stated this clearly. Such erudite masters and scholars such as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche spent his whole life until 81 disseminating the Buddha Dharma tirelessly holding the pure morality of a monk. All the teachings Trijang Rinpoche has generously given have lineage, source and athenticity without a doubt. Besides being highly attained, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was a scholar of the highest caliber therefore chosen to be the Junior Tutor (Yongzin) to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Why choose a Dorje Shugden practitioner to be the tutor of the 14th Dalai Lama and then disparage him for it? Trijang Rinpoche did not ask for the position. With so many masters and scholars, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was chosen from among thousands during that time. This is clear what it says about his qualities. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche for many incarnations has practiced the Heruka, Vajra Yogini and Dorje Shugden diligently as his heart practice. Incarnation after incarnation he would engage in the same practices never taking a rebirth without control. If his practice of Shugden was wrong, then he would not be able to take rebirth life after life benefitting others.
After the death of His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama started to ban and criticize Dorje Shugden the root protector of his root teacher. How can such a great master be blind to not knowing if Dorje Shugden was something not positive. How can only the Dalai Lama see what is right or wrong and not his teacher. If the Dalai Lama can criticize his teacher and say Trijang Rinpoche is wrong, then students of the Dalai Lama can say Dalai Lama is wrong. Once the doors open, it opens both ways and for everyone. If the Dalai Lama starts the unheard tradition that his teachers can be wrong, then Dalai Lama can be wrong also. The very foundation of Vajrayana Buddhism is destabilized if we go that route. Everything becomes uncertain. In fact His Holiness the Dalai Lama says those who practice Dorje Shugden we should not associate with them on both a secular level or a spiritual level. If that is the case, then we cannot associate with our teachers such as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as his practice was ‘wrong’. We must never practice anything Trijang Rinpoche taught us and abandon him as our teacher. We must abandon any of our teachers that practice Dorje Shugden? Doesn’t make sense. So all the practices, yidams, commentaries we received from our teacher should be abandoned and immediately stopped?
Dalai Lama says we have the freedom to practice or not practice Dorje  Shugden. But if you do practice Dorje Shugden you will be banned from his teachings, ex-communicated from the Monasteries, you cannot enter into any Tibetan institutions, hospitals, markets or meetings. Tibetans that do not practice Dorje Shugden may not associate with those who do even if you are family. As strange as it sounds, that is what the Dalai Lama has said clearly and openly within the Tibetan communities repeatedly. His speech outside of India in Europe and America are much more toned down of course. You can find his speeches for Tibetans all over Youtube. Every other citizen of this planet no matter their religious orientation may associate with the Dalai Lama except Dorje Shugden practitioners. It’s not Dorje Shugden practitioners need to associate with Dalai Lama, but why is the such segregation from a spiritual leader? That does not sound like the words that should come from the mouth of a Nobel Laureate of Peace. You are effectively not part of Tibetan society anymore if you practice Dorje Shugden. That is not freedom of religion but blackmail of sorts. This is what His Holiness that Dalai Lama says now. If that is the case all teachings, sadhanas, practices and lineages by Trijang Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden master practitioners for the last 350 years are wrong? That does not make sense. Trijang Rinpoche was a lineage holder within the Gelug School and many important lineages come through him. If we were to have negative view or abandon Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche we cannot gain any tantric attainments from our practice. The Gelug school as we know it becomes nullified of blessings and authenticity. Impossible. How can we meditate our Guru who is one with our Yidam to be wrong? Dorje Shugden practitioners should not be prejudiced against in anyway. They should be able to enjoy the rights, dignity and privileges like every other Tibetan. The Dalai Lama should accept, love and be close to all Tibetans regardless of their personal religious beliefs. This is religious freedom. Religion should never be factor for effective governments and leaders in today’s day and age. Can the president of any country ostracize citizens in their own country or disallow their equal rights based on religious beliefs? Of course not. But this is happening now within the Tibetan communities of India and Nepal. Do your research please.
These days professing you have faith in Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche or associating with his young incarnation in the USA is tantamount to saying you believe in Dorje Shugden or you are against Dalai Lama. What I find interesting if this is the case, in this recent video, Lama Zopa Rinpoche is doing puja, prayers and worship in front of the most famous Dorje Shugden practitioner, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s stupa. This stupa contains the remains and relics of the late great Tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Yongzin Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. So since Lama Zopa is worshipping in front of the stupa, is it right to assume that he finds Trijang Rinpoche faultless and his practice of Dorje Shugden correct after all? Or Trijang Rinpoche is faultless except for Dorje Shugden? So Trijang Rinpoche is with fault. It becomes confusing.
Remember Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa both received the Dorje Shugden life entrustment empowerment (sogtae) from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. This is a promise to practice Dorje Shugden for all of this life until you achieve Bodhicitta. In Tibet at Domo Geshe Rinpoche’s personal Dungkar Monastary, Dorje Shugden took trance of the then oracle and pronounced Lama Zopa to be a genuine Tulku and he should be taken care of. Lama Zopa’s Tulku or reincarnation status was accepted by the sangha because Dorje Shugden had recognized him officially back in the 1950?s. This one is written clearly in Lama Zopa’s biography “The Lawudo Lama” by Jamyang Wangmo published by Wisdom Publications, page 172-173. (see full story here “Who Made Lama Zopa a Rinpoche?”: )
Now we see Lama Zopa worshipping in front of Trijang Rinpoche’s stupa. Depending on what side of the fence you are forced to choose, it can be good or bad. This is not to attack the Dalai Lama or Lama Zopa. But this is to express the difficult situation that occurs when religious freedom is curtailed. Whatever you do is observed and subject to criticism. Worshipping at the stupa of your guru is considered a negative action now if your holy master was a Dorje Shugden practitioner. This does not make sense to anyone who understands the Dharma especially tantra.

See the video here:


Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Phari Rinpoche and Khadro la doing puja


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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2012, 05:29:35 PM »
I rejoice when hearing Lama Zopa worships at Trijang Rinpoche's stupa. I also admire his courage.

I would think the BAN will be lifted VERY SOON!!! :D

Positive Change

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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2012, 09:27:52 PM »
There is absolutely nothing wrong or to be faulted with this... if there is then why do we need to practice at all. Are we not suppose to view our Guru as infallible? If they were, our practice would mean absolutely nothing!

Hence when HHDL starts to seemingly "unravel" the very fabric of this fundamental truth, he is, at the same breath, saying he too can be faulted. Therefore, perhaps if we think deeper, HHDL is already telling/teaching us something... if we all looked and thought deeper, we would "see".

However, restricting freedom in any form should be viewed as unjust... but there are ways of "dealing" with such issues and I do not believe fighting fire with fire should be the way. We should take the peaceful way... showing through example and fighting discrepancies/ignorance with information/knowledge and not making the situation worsen by accusations or finger pointing.

That is why I love this website as it gives an accurate account with a non biased view. Always showing both sides of the coin at the same time making sure we remain peacefully searching for an end to this fallacy of a ban...


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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2012, 11:02:51 PM »
If Lama Zopa did indeed recieve the life instrustment from Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang then he is certainly still practicing in secret no genuine Lama gives up commitments to their Gurus.

hope rainbow

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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2012, 03:35:51 AM »
If Lama Zopa did indeed recieve the life instrustment from Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang then he is certainly still practicing in secret no genuine Lama gives up commitments to their Gurus.

I can only imagine how difficult it must be for some students nowadays that have to deal with apparent "contradictions" between two of their gurus, or even with an apparent "contradiction" from their only guru, when it comes to the practice / non-practice / secret-practice of Dorje Shugden.

The thing is that we live in days where the spiritual practice is made extremely difficult, where obstacles are enormous for the vast majority of the spiritual seekers, enormous, inward and outward obstacles.
One major antidote to these obstacles is the faith in our Guru(s).
The effect of the ban is that it reinforces our faith. Some might loose it along the way, unfortunately, but others will have their faith strengthened and will be able to go further in their practice and benefit many others through their examples.

One must never doubt his Guru, may it be Lama Zopa, the Dalai Lama, Trijang Rinpoche, Gangchen Rinpoche... One must not let the ban weaken his faith, one should seek to gain stronger faith and use this opportunity to think deeper and beyond the appearances and without attachment to the worldly.
The ban is giving us this opportunity now, this is historical.


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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2012, 11:52:56 AM »
One must never doubt his Guru, may it be Lama Zopa, the Dalai Lama, Trijang Rinpoche, Gangchen Rinpoche... One must not let the ban weaken his faith, one should seek to gain stronger faith and use this opportunity to think deeper and beyond the appearances and without attachment to the worldly.
The ban is giving us this opportunity now, this is historical.

How true! In times like this, when spiritual practice is extremely difficult and is curtailed, we must not doubt our Guru but must have faith and be stable in our practice. We need to also understand the dharma, read up more about Dorje Shugden especially from this website.  When we have more knowledge, our faith becomes more stabilize and our practice more stronger.

It is good that Lama Zopa worships at Trijang Rinpoche's stupa. It shows that Lama Zopa never weaken his faith for his Guru.


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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2012, 09:25:04 PM »
Lama Zopa is a real master, although he is in charge of FPMT which openly declares their stance against Dorje Shugden, Lama Zopa himself has no qualms in worshipping Trijang Rinpoche's stupa. Lama Zopa surely understands the situation well, he never lost faith in th Dalai Lama, he never lost faith in the lineage guru of Dorje Shugden. Any negative acts of ostracizing and condemning Dorje Shugden practitioners are done by the members of FPMT themselves for their own selfish gains.


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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2012, 01:51:52 AM »
Dear fellow DS practitioners and anti-DS practitioners (if you happen to read this post)

Lets put things in perspective together. We have never ever heard any high lamas who are DS practitioners say anything bad about HHDL. This is a FACT. Nomatter what they do outwardly as a result of this ban, time and time again, we can see that their faith in their guru is as strong as ever, this is the esscence of vajrayana.

Lama Zopa doing prayers in front of his guru Trijang Rinpoche's stupa  is another excellent example of guru devotion and a subtle hint to everyone. Please open our eyes to see and think deeper, even though FPMT is against DS practice and Lama Zopa is the spiritual head of FMPT, what does this say to all of us when he is doing prayer in front of his guru's stupa and whom is a DS practitioner?? So is lama Zopa selectlively saying I take refuge in you Trijang Rinpoche except the DS part, or is lama Zopa saying I have never lost a single faith in you, my guru, and that I will keep all the holy practices you have transmitted to me and keep them close to my heart?

Trijang Rinpoche has told all his students not to criticize HHDL and that as practitioners, we should be patient and things will be clearer in the future. Why can't we adopt the advice of this holy master? Afterall, buddhist practitioners, whether you are practising DS or not, we should accept each other's differences in beliefs, cutlure and habits. That is the basis for harmony and co-existence, that is the basis of religion.

If we can accept our neighbours who may be of different race, culture, and belief system, why cant we accept our family members then?

This is a time for all buddhist practitioners to make a change, to really put down our foot in what we learn from the teachings into PRACTICE!!!!!


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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2012, 02:27:43 AM »
Lama Zopa is a real master, although he is in charge of FPMT which openly declares their stance against Dorje Shugden, Lama Zopa himself has no qualms in worshipping Trijang Rinpoche's stupa. Lama Zopa surely understands the situation well, he never lost faith in th Dalai Lama, he never lost faith in the lineage guru of Dorje Shugden. Any negative acts of ostracizing and condemning Dorje Shugden practitioners are done by the members of FPMT themselves for their own selfish gains.

As far as I remember he did not openly go against Shugden, but only stated to follow the advice of the Dalai Lama and that was all. Sadly the students of his center do not follow this example and choose to be overzealous and destroy the faith of others just to look good. They do not realize that such actions will have disastrous consequences, of misinterpreting the Lama's instructions. Sometimes it is important to distinguish the Lama from the students, as some students do not follow instructions.


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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2012, 03:32:35 AM »
Lama Zopa is a real master, although he is in charge of FPMT which openly declares their stance against Dorje Shugden, Lama Zopa himself has no qualms in worshipping Trijang Rinpoche's stupa. Lama Zopa surely understands the situation well, he never lost faith in th Dalai Lama, he never lost faith in the lineage guru of Dorje Shugden. Any negative acts of ostracizing and condemning Dorje Shugden practitioners are done by the members of FPMT themselves for their own selfish gains.

As far as I remember he did not openly go against Shugden, but only stated to follow the advice of the Dalai Lama and that was all. Sadly the students of his center do not follow this example and choose to be overzealous and destroy the faith of others just to look good. They do not realize that such actions will have disastrous consequences, of misinterpreting the Lama's instructions. Sometimes it is important to distinguish the Lama from the students, as some students do not follow instructions.

Very true what you said here Ensapa. We really have to differentiate the actions of a lama and those of his followers. As followers, many may either interprete wrongly the message from his lama and hence their actions may diviate from what the lama's intention is. In most cases, this is magnified and worsened by the delusions of the followers.



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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2012, 04:31:21 AM »
By worshiping at Trijang Rinpoche's stupa, Lama Zopa definitely showing that he has strong Guru Devotion and that the lineage is intact, is perfect.
On the other hand, FPMT which he heads is openly supporting the ban, which doesn't make sense. The same actually with HHDL.
We also see the actions of the followers of both HHDl and Lama Zopa, imposing the ban. Acting strongly to impose the ban. Doesn't make sense again.
Hmm. Appearance can be really misleading. We should all examine the situation carefully. If we do not understand, then don't criticize and definitely don't take negative action.
Sometimes a Guru may do things or give instructions that we may not understand well. But it is always for our own good. In this case, is HHDL and Lama Zopa doing the same to their followers?


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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2012, 08:47:29 AM »
To me, the lovely sight of Lama Zopa(this great holy compassionate Lama) doing a puja - worshipping-  at his Guru, Trijang Rinpoche's stupa is both inspiring and a cause for much rejoicing.

This shows us that Lama Zopa's Guru Devotion for his Guru, Trijang Rinpoche, has always been there. When his Guru Devotion has always been with him, it is only logical that what his Guru, Trijang Rinpoche , gave him to practice as a lifelong practice until attainment of Bodhicitta - the practice of Dorje Shugden-  would always be honored by him. To further substantiate the fact that he has never broken his samaya with his Guru, and also the fact that he does not have any doubts about the rightness of practicing Shugden and about the rightness of his Guru giving him this lineage practice, I will quote here what he said at the time when, in "supporting the Dalai Lama and fulfilling His Holiness's wish", he seemingly gave up his Shugden practice:

"That it does not mean that Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche have made mistakes(in their relying on Protector Dorje Shugden). It does not mean they are wrong. Nor does one look at the Protector as evil....For us ordinary beings, it is difficult to judge, because we cannot see these Lamas' minds..."(In fact, the last sentence, especially, seems to be directed at his FPMT students).

On a broader scope, I see Lama Zopa worshipping at his Guru's stupa, as the bigger picture coming together. The time of the ban's lifting will be soon. The fulfillment of the 'prophecy' of the Southern Gate of the Monastery(see 'Ch XXII. The State Oracle - Oracles and Demons of Tibet: THe Cult and Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities..' as it appears in another thread)  opening for the Protector of our Time, Dorje Shugden, to enter and to replace Nechung is almost here!


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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2012, 09:23:34 AM »
Lama Zopa is a real master, although he is in charge of FPMT which openly declares their stance against Dorje Shugden, Lama Zopa himself has no qualms in worshipping Trijang Rinpoche's stupa. Lama Zopa surely understands the situation well, he never lost faith in th Dalai Lama, he never lost faith in the lineage guru of Dorje Shugden. Any negative acts of ostracizing and condemning Dorje Shugden practitioners are done by the members of FPMT themselves for their own selfish gains.

As far as I remember he did not openly go against Shugden, but only stated to follow the advice of the Dalai Lama and that was all. Sadly the students of his center do not follow this example and choose to be overzealous and destroy the faith of others just to look good. They do not realize that such actions will have disastrous consequences, of misinterpreting the Lama's instructions. Sometimes it is important to distinguish the Lama from the students, as some students do not follow instructions.

These followers of the FPMT who engage in disparaging their gurus are extremly degenerate, Lama yeshe was a Dorje shugden practitoner all his life how do they expect to recieve any blessings from Lama Zopa when they sincerly critic the practice of his spiritual guide, Those whom view Dorje shugden as a spirit will also incur the downfall of finding fault in the Lama. It is a pathetic excuse to say we must see him as an actor making mistakes for our benefit accomplished Lamas are not as stupid to entrust their protection to a worldly being and view such a being as being inseperable from their gurus wisdom. If this is indeed fact as the other camp likes to play then it would be no good taking Lama Zopa or any other Lama who had a spiritual guide whom practiced shugden as an enlightened being and expect to recieve any benefit from intiations into Tantra as the most basic commitments of refuge would be broken. One is not a pure container if they are taking refuge in a spirit and one cannot enter the Vajrayana if they are so what does this say for all those whom share the same lineage as us yet say oh yes Dorje shugden is an evil spirit.  ::)

Ive said it before and will say it again I dont think masters like Lama Zopa would be as silly to break connection with their Gurus after recieving a life entrustment of Dorje shugden its not something you can take back, Lama Zopas advise is some of the most moderate Ive heard this is obviously from a Great being who views Dorje shugden as per authentic instructions, However due to circumstance he cannot say anything that contradicts the word of the Dalai lama because they (The FPMT) have tied their loyalties to the political machinations of His Holiness.

Now imagine a few years back if things had gone the other way His Holiness began speaking out about this issue and every Gelug lama spoke back out against him saying his reasoning where unfound and illogical where would his power lay with which to have created this great schism is every practitoner would have been brave and stood up for their lineage and their gurus. Je Pabongkha used to become exceedingly red in the face when a person would critise his Guru and severly admonish them infact one time when he was extremly busy teaching and so forth a Lama in order to give Pabongkha Rinpoche a rare empowerment scolded his Lama and sent word to Rinpoches assistant on this Pabongkha immeditatly travelled to meet him to. Now imagine if all practitoners had the courage of Vajrapani to protect their teachings and their gurus as feircly and a loyally as some of the great examples of our lineage masters.

Big Uncle

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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2012, 10:04:03 AM »
Lama Zopa is a real master, although he is in charge of FPMT which openly declares their stance against Dorje Shugden, Lama Zopa himself has no qualms in worshipping Trijang Rinpoche's stupa. Lama Zopa surely understands the situation well, he never lost faith in th Dalai Lama, he never lost faith in the lineage guru of Dorje Shugden. Any negative acts of ostracizing and condemning Dorje Shugden practitioners are done by the members of FPMT themselves for their own selfish gains.

Yeah! He is a shining example of a student of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche through and through. I rejoice and adore him for that. I don't really like the rest of FPMT because of their stance. They have been awfully quiet too especially since Lama Zopa Rinpoche has taken ill recently. I think their stance of not worshipping and turning around and hurling fire pujas at Dorje Shugden (at Kopan) has resulted in the karma that Lama Osel (the incarnation of Lama Yeshe) is staying away. It sounds a little circumstantial to some but I personally believe that is the real reason behind this. After all, Lama Osel was recognized by the Dalai Lama and gone through the appropriate tests so he must be unmistaken incarnation.

Anyway, here is the advice that Lama Zopa Rinpoche shares with his students. Also, I have highlighted statements that would be relevant for discussion and do share other parts that you find of interest or of relevance.

Dorje Shugden by Lama Zopa Rinpoche (

Dorje Shugden is a spirit or mundane Dharma protector that some believe is a fully enlightened being. He has become a rallying cry for some who wish to return Tibet to a theocracy (His Holiness the Dalai Lama wants democracy) with one school or sect as the official ‘church’. No FPMT center does this practice and all fully support His Holiness the Dalai Lama's wish that this practice not be done. For more information, see

Dorje Shugden   
[posted Oct 2009]
Rinpoche gave the following talk on the Dharma protector practice, Dorje Shugden. First he talked about the importance of compassion and our responsibility for leading all sentient beings to enlightenment. To do that, we need first to become enlightened ourselves. In order to do that, we have to complete the entire path to enlightenment, the root of which is guru devotion. Then Rinpoche talked about the qualities of the guru, including the ten qualities from the Abhisamayalamkara and the twenty qualities required of a tantric guru.
If you are making a new Dharma connection with a teacher, aside from the other qualities of the teacher that you should check, you should also examine the teacher to make sure that he or she is in harmony with His Holiness Dalai Lama regarding the practice of what is called döl-gyäl, the protector Shugden. Make sure that the teacher does not do this practice. These days, that is an extra analysis you should make. In that way, you’ll avoid problems in the future.

Recently, I also introduced a new guideline for the protection of the Dharma centers and their students, which is not to invite to the center teachers who do the protector practice and are therefore against His Holiness the Dalai Lama. However, this doesn’t include gurus who may have practiced the protector in the past. It doesn’t mean that they’re bad. I’m not saying that. If you have already made a Dharma connection with such teachers and you criticize them or give them up, that is totally incorrect; that is opposite to lam-rim practice. The lam-rim, sutra, and tantra teachings all explain how to practice guru devotion so that we can avoid creating such heavy negative karmas as criticizing our gurus. It’s for our benefit. Since we disciples want profit, not loss, since we aspire to achieve the highest profit, enlightenment, the complete qualities of cessation and realization, it is crucial to know how to practice guru devotion.

If those gurus who used to do the practice still had the same aspect now, if they were still alive in that aspect, they would also change. For example, His Holiness himself did the practice in Tibet for a short while, but after extensive analysis, checking many experiences and signs, and considering the advice of many other high lamas who advised not to do the practice, His Holiness also decided against it.

It is not only His Holiness who is saying not to do this practice. Before His Holiness, many other high lamas, holders of the entire Buddhadharma, also instructed their monasteries and students not to do this practice. After checking in many ways, His Holiness came to the conclusion that for the benefit of individual people as well as the world in general, he would stop doing this practice and also advised others to stop. Therefore, if those gurus who did the practice still had the same aspect, they would stop. Also, many gurus, many great teachers who are still living, have stopped as well, even though they used to do the practice before.

Even though many people, groups, and monasteries have asked His Holiness to change his advice on this, he has remained firm. Since he arrived at his decision through many years’ analysis, there has been no change; His Holiness always says the same thing in this regard. As His Holiness has said in many teachings, he will never change his opinion on this matter. If His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not Chenrezig, if he’s not Buddha, who else is there in the world that you can point to as Buddha? If His Holiness is not the Buddha of Compassion, then it’s a mistake to call other lamas Buddha, who are said to be incarnations of a Buddha.

[Rinpoche then explained in detail how His Holiness is Chenrezig and how the guru is Buddha.]

Protector Practice   
[posted Oct 2009]
A student wrote to Rinpoche saying how another student had been doing a protector practice, which His Holiness the Dalai Lama had asked people to stop practicing, but had now stopped.

My dear Tony,
I hope you are well. I received your message regarding the other student. I think it is very good that he has stopped that practice, and especially it is excellent that he has faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama. That is really great!

There are so many reasons to follow His Holiness. He is the embodiment of compassion of all the Buddhas, and especially now he has reincarnated to guide the Tibetan people. In fact, as we all know, for many lives His Holiness the Dalai Lama has reincarnated to guide the Tibetan people, and especially to preserve the complete teachings of the Buddhadharma. His Holiness is the only one in this world who completely preserves the holy Dharma that came from the Buddha, which has come through the great yogis and pandits of India and Tibet. Because of His Holiness, the Buddhadharma has spread all over the world. Not only the Buddhadharma, His Holiness is also able to speak in a universal language that goes beyond religion. Every year thousands of people follow the path and make their life meaningful, and are able to find answers to their life questions due to His Holiness.

This is all due to the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. So, you can see how His Holiness is of the greatest benefit to this world. Even the political leaders of this world respect His Holiness. It is the same with so many great Tibetan reincarnations, who also follow His Holiness. If this isn’t Guru Shakyamuni benefiting the world, if this isn’t Manjushri benefiting the world, then who could it be?

There are many reasons for following His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice regarding not following or practicing the protector. His Holiness is able to teach in any culture and able, in a very grounded way, to relate so well to others. Therefore, we have the responsibility to pray for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life and to help and support His Holiness’s holy wishes and activities.

His Holiness supports many things, such as the environment, etc., but His Holiness’ main message has to do with the mind, because everything comes from the mind. Suffering and happiness depend on the mind. His Holiness not only teaches the entire path to enlightenment, but also in a very practical way helps people to deal with the problems of their daily lives. Therefore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s existence in this world is extremely important. He is the guide and gives the antidote for all the problems of this world.

Therefore, one person following His Holiness’s advice achieves His Holiness’s wishes—this is the cause of His Holiness’ long life. The more we as individuals follow His Holiness’ advice and support His Holiness, the longer His Holiness will stay in this world and benefit sentient beings.

As far as reincarnation is concerned, the most important thing is being recognized through this life’s actions. Recognition should come naturally and organically in dependence on how that person conducts his life and activities to benefit others. The label tulku doesn’t mean anything; the importance is how much you benefit sentient beings. If you don’t benefit sentient beings, the title is empty, really empty. So, we should not be concerned with a label. People will respect or not respect in dependence on this life’s actions .

In essence, everything will depend on his practice, how well he does this in accordance with Lama Tsongkhapa’s instructions. And that’s it. The result will come from that.

Actually, more and more people want to be recognized as a tulku. In fact, all of us are reincarnations—we are the reincarnations of worms in our stomach, pigs, dogs, cats, and bugs. So, everyone is a reincarnation of someone, something. The worms in the stomach are there because of their past negative karma of being attached to sex. So, everyone is a reincarnation. Without a past life, there will not be this life.

So, the conclusion is: whether recognized or not, people respect you on the basis of your actions to benefit others. This approach fits.

Thank you for all your activities. Please try as much as possible to do everything with bodhicitta. In this way there will be the most benefit to sentient beings.

With lots of love and prayers...

Dorje Shugden Practice
(Advice given 16 May 1997)
A student asked Rinpoche questions about the practice of the protector Dorje Shugden. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had asked his students to stop performing this practice. Many students had received initiations from their gurus and taken commitments to perform the practice before His Holiness made this request. The student had decided to stop performing the protector practice, but was concerned about the impact on his relationship with the gurus who had given him the initiations and commitment to do the practice. Rinpoche commented as follows.

With regard to your question about the protector and your concern about not generating negative thoughts and losing faith toward other lamas, the decision that you have taken is correct.

Kopan Monastery had been performing the Dorje Shugden practice from the beginning, as this was Lama Yeshe’s main protector, on whom he relied whenever he needed help for anything. But since His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the one who holds, preserves, and spreads the entire Buddhist Dharma—both the lesser vehicle and the Mahayana, Paramitayana, and Secret Mantra Vajrayana—without the existence of His Holiness, not only Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism but Buddhism in general would suffer in the world. It would be similar to when children are left behind when their parents die. It would be like that.

Therefore, support for His Holiness becomes very important. Another thing is that His Holiness is the main source of world peace. In this aspect, His Holiness gives so much peace and happiness to so many millions and millions of people in this world. This aspect of His Holiness is the greatest inspiration, bringing many millions of people’s hearts toward Buddhism. Even though we have many high lamas, not everyone is able to manifest this particular aspect, even though from my side the virtuous friends are of the same essence.

Therefore, it becomes very important to support His Holiness and to fulfill His Holiness’ wishes. For that reason, Kopan Monastery stopped doing this practice. This was done for His Holiness. This does not mean that Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, and His Holiness Song Rinpoche have made mistakes. It does not mean they are wrong. Nor does one have to look at the protector as evil. For us ordinary people it is difficult to judge, because we cannot see these lamas ’ minds.

Another side of the teaching is that it is mentioned that the protector is an Arya Bodhisattva, a manifestation of Manjushri. So, then, there is also the risk of our creating very heavy karma in that context.

In addition, if one has received teachings, initiations, and so forth from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso*, including the practice of Dorje Shugden, there is a way of practicing lam-rim in relation to this situation. In the lam-rim, it says that the Buddhas—for example, Buddha Vajradhara, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, and so forth—manifest in ordinary form and guide us to enlightenment. That means they manifest in an ordinary aspect that shows mistakes, such as having delusions, performing mistaken actions, and so on. One can also think in this way about the situation, according to the lam-rim. In reality, there is no mistake here, but the guru is showing the aspect of making mistakes, like a movie actor.

Thinking in this way and relating the situation to that part of the lam-rim helps keep one from losing faith, from losing guru devotion. It only inspires one. Why? Because without the ordinary aspect that shows mistakes, we have no other way to be guided. There is no other method for the Buddhas to guide us to enlightenment.

Another way to look at this situation is that although in reality there is no mistake on the guru’s part, nevertheless we see mistakes according to our karma. The guru shows mistakes because we only have the karma to see this manifestation at this moment, and nothing else.

In this matter, that aspect becomes most precious and important for us, for our minds. As it is mentioned by Gyalwa Ensapa, “Until one becomes separated from evil karmic obscurations, even if all the Buddhas without exception directly descend in front of one, one will not have the fortune to see the supreme holy body, adorned with the holy signs and exemplifications, but rather only the present appearance (the ordinary view). ”

Even if a guru kills another guru or kills many millions of people, as Hitler or Mao did, since one has made a connection with him or her, one should never lose faith from one’s own side. Unless from his or her side the virtuous friend tells you, “Now I am no longer your guru. You should not follow me anymore,” unless he gives this permission, one must not give up one’s faith in that teacher.

One time, after I had listened for three days to one person’s teachings, that person told me not to follow him. The bodhisattva Khunu Lama later explained to me that it was acceptable not to follow that person, but important not to criticize, to keep the mind in equanimity regarding him.

It is said in the tantric teachings, “If one thinks one’s own guru is bad-tempered, one will be reborn in the hell realms for 60 eons.” If one does not cultivate devotion after one has made a Dharma connection—which means having received teachings with the recognition of guru and disciple—then it is said in the teachings that one will be reborn as a dog one hundred times, and then be reborn in a lower caste—or, as His Holiness Song Rinpoche mentioned, as a scorpion. This applies even if there are no negative thoughts arising toward the guru, such as heresy or anger, but one still does not develop devotion and follow the teacher after listening to even just one stanza, even if one no longer regards that teacher as one’s guru or forgets one ’s guru-disciple relation.

The conclusion is that both ways of looking at the situation with the guru are correct, because there is a purpose to both: that is, to benefit others. These ways of thinking are what protect our mind from the heaviest karma.

Action Against Lamas
(Advice given 11 April 2002)
A student who had very heavy obstacles in his life, and felt like he was being attacked by spirits, had taken it upon himself to force lamas who were performing the protector practice, Dorje Shugden, to stop. Rinpoche sent him the following advice.

My very dear Jimmy,
Thank you very much your kind letter. I appreciate you following His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s wishes. That helps Tibet, and also helps your growth—not physical growth, but spiritual growth. You made a wise decision. That is very important: thinking big for the future of the teachings of Buddha and for sentient beings.

If those other lamas are your gurus—that means, if you have received initiations or teachings from them, with the recognition that you had a guru-disciple relationship and that person is the guru and you are the disciple—then if you get angry or generate heretical thoughts toward that person, it is not good.

In Lama Tsongkhapa’s Lam-rim Chen-mo [The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment], it says, “Even simply generating non-devotional thought, to think of the guru as an ordinary person, is an obstacle.” So, you can imagine what it is like if you generate heresy and anger toward your gurus and criticize them with a negative mind. This is creating the heaviest obstacle to realizations on the path to enlightenment, and the heaviest obstacle even to this life’s happiness, as well as to future lives’ happiness. There is no need to mention liberation or enlightenment.

The other thing is that in this life, by generating heretical thoughts or anger toward the guru, one experiences heavy sufferings, especially sickness, and many catastrophes, one after the other. Also, when you die, it is in such a terrible way. It is very terrifying, not peaceful, and there is the most unbearable suffering in the hell realms. Not only that, but it lasts for such a length of time, for eons.

Please read the section on guru devotion in Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo’s Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand. Also, read the section on guru devotion in Lama Tsongkhapa’s Lam-rim Chen-mo. Please study other Dharma books, at least these two texts and the sections that I have mentioned.

In the teaching Commentary on the Difficult Points of the "Black Enemy of Yama," [Tib: Dra-nag-ka-drel] [see Steps on the Path to Enlightenment, Volume 1, page 157] it is said that after having made a Dharma connection, receiving teachings (even four words), with a recognition of a guru-disciple relationship (the other person is your guru and you are his or her disciple), if you forget to devote yourself to that person as a guru, or if you don’t regard them as your guru, you will be born as a dog for one hundred lifetimes, and then you will be born into a lower rank. His Holiness Song Rinpoche says one is born as a scorpion instead of in a lower rank.

If you did create negative karma with your teachers, please confess whatever heresy, anger, or criticism you have committed against them. Confess as quickly as possible.

If death comes before your confession, your future lives will be so difficult. Not only will you be unable to meet the guru, but you will also be unable to meet the Dharma. Not only that, but you will experience unimaginable suffering for an incredible amount of time.

The Fifth Dalai Lama advised how to practice guru devotion in this kind of situation. When you have difficulty with gurus, seeing mistakes in their actions, then think that this is the view of your own hallucinated mind. All these appearances are your own mistakes manifested as the guru’s holy actions. Recognize it as your own mistake and abandon it, like a poison.

What is to be abandoned is one’s own thoughts of seeing mistakes in the gurus, which are ordinary concepts. You can abandon this by thinking in the way His Holiness the Fifth Dalai Lama explained.

Gyalwa Ensapa said,

In short, whatever great or small realization one generates is due to having meditated with little or great devotion. To the qualified valid gurus, may I be able to complete the commitment without obstacles, and look at the gurus’ qualities with no mistakes.

The other way is to think that bodhisattvas work for sentient beings. Their only concern is other sentient beings, without exception, no matter how evil they are. The more evil they are, then the more the bodhisattvas cherish them, and the more concern the bodhisattvas have for them. Their attitude is like this, and their action is only to work for sentient beings. That includes you. Even a very new bodhisattva who became a bodhisattva today thinks like this. Therefore, there is no question about Buddha, who completed the path, with both method and wisdom, who has omniscience, perfect power, and complete compassion for all sentient beings, including you. The Buddha will not work for himself, even for one second, but only for all sentient beings, continuously, according to the level of their minds. Buddha works by manifesting in various forms and revealing different methods, not only by giving teachings, initiations, vows, and so forth, but also guiding beings in many different ways, giving advice and leading you in so many ways from happiness to happiness, up until enlightenment.

Now, there is not just one Buddha. There are numerous buddhas guiding you and other sentient beings. Who else are those buddhas than your gurus? Who gives you teachings, vows, initiations, oral transmissions, and advice? Who definitely brings you to enlightenment with these methods? There is no question. If they are not manifestations of the buddhas, or Buddha doesn’t manifest through them and guide you, then that means there is no Buddha guiding you. That means either you don’t accept that there are countless buddhas, or you don’t accept that there is even one Buddha, or you think that there is a Buddha, but he is not omniscient. Or you think that Buddha doesn’t have compassion toward you, or Buddha doesn’t have perfect power to guide you or to reveal methods to you.

If you think like this, it means there is no Buddha and nobody can become a buddha. All these mistakes arise, and many Buddhist teachings become falsified.

Because you trust in His Holiness the Dalai Lama, you have no doubt that His Holiness has limitless compassion. You have no doubt that His Holiness and particularly what he teaches is Chenrezig manifested. He is not telling lies. So, you have no doubt that Shakyamuni Buddha does exist, and that his path has no mistakes, and there is no doubt that there are countless buddhas. Then, think that the conclusion is: for all those from whom you have received teachings with a recognition of a guru-disciple relationship, from your side, you must have a new mind, a different mind, 24 hours every day, and think differently. Think of them as Buddha. Each and every one of them is Buddha guiding you. This is the most important thing. This devotional thought is the most precious one in your life, more precious than billions of dollars, gold, diamonds, or wish-fulfilling jewels. From this thought, you can achieve all happiness up until enlightenment, and you can bring about complete happiness for all sentient beings. You can fulfill all the wishes of all sentient beings.

Thank you very much. Sorry, you have written many times, but I wasn’t able to reply quickly. Please keep my reply. It might be helpful to read it from time to time. You can also show it to others who have similar problems.
With much love and prayers...

Forsaking a Guru
(Advice given 4 April 1998)
A student wrote to Rinpoche saying that he had forsaken one of his gurus, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso*. The student said that he was not keeping his vows and was aware of the negative karma that could result from these actions. Rinpoche answered as follows.

Once you have made a Dharma connection with the virtuous friend, your guru, you cannot give up this relationship unless the guru himself or herself says, “Don’t come,” or “Don’t regard me as your guru.”

By giving up Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, you have created heavy negative karma in this life. Since you haven’t given me up, I suggest that you confess to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso about what happened, and devote yourself again to this virtuous friend.

According to guru devotion practice, no matter how many gurus you have, you should look at all of them as one being, one mind, and that is Dharmakaya. That view must come from the disciple’s side. You look at them as one mind in different bodies, acting in different ways, according to the karma of sentient beings and their ordinary mistaken minds.

This is what one should practice, if one wants profit and not loss. So, change your attitude and apologize to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Confess to him and follow him again, unless he says, “No”. This will help lighten your heaviest negative karma.

In this world, people are so afraid of getting cancer or AIDS, but they don’t think about eons of suffering in the hell realms. There is such great suffering in the lower realms that cancer and AIDS or whatever suffering one can encounter in the human realm seems a great comfort and pleasure by comparison.

Causing heresy and anger and giving up the virtuous friend is much worse than killing and waging wars. This is because the object is very powerful. One’s guru is the most powerful among all powerful objects, such as buddhas.

The karma from forsaking one’s guru is worse than the karma generated by Hitler and Mao Tse Tung. Mao Tse Tung caused harm to many holy beings, but they were not his gurus. In the world, someone who kills many millions of people can still achieve enlightenment in that same lifetime. But generating heresy toward the virtuous friend and giving up one’s devotion to the virtuous friend makes it difficult to achieve enlightenment, even if one practices tantra with much hardship. It will be like taking a rebirth in hell.

Therefore, what I am saying is this: In the world, actions such as killing and waging war have very bad repercussions and are terrible, but the karma from these actions is mild compared to heresy and giving up one’s guru.

You can see in the outline in the lam-rim, even if one commits the five heinous crimes—killing one’s father, killing one’s mother, drawing blood from a Buddha, causing schism in the Sangha, and killing an Arhant—one can still achieve enlightenment, but not based on mistaken devotion to the virtuous friend. If you read Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, or Essential Nectar, particularly the lam-rim outline on guru devotion, you will understand.

I advise you to make your negative karma smaller by apologizing with regret. Practicing Buddhism is basically your choice. If you want to be free from suffering and its causes, delusion and karma, this is what you need to do: practice the Buddhist path and the Four Noble Truths. If you don’t want to be free from suffering and its causes, then there is no need to practice Buddhism. If you don’t want happiness, then don’t practice virtue.

*Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a teacher in the UK, who continues to engage in and encourage the Dorje Shugden Protector practice.


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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2012, 12:29:11 PM »
Just to add to Big Uncle's post, i think everyone should read this. I have bolded some sentences for emphasis and also commented below within the text in blue:

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this talk to students of the FPMT’s Masters Program at Istituto Lama Tsongkhapa, 22 October 2000. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.

Recently I sent a letter (see note below) to the abbots of the large monasteries of Sera, Ganden and Drepung to inspire the older geshes and other lamas who had a strong connection with the previous life of my root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, to request his incarnation to show the aspect of following His Holiness Dalai Lama’s holy wishes and return to India to study in his monastery and follow the normal way of life of such high lamas. In this way, the incarnation will benefit the world greatly, in the West and especially the Tibetan people in the East. I’m not going to read the whole thing from top to bottom to you, just a few parts.

His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche has been in Switzerland away from his monastery, under the control of other people, for a long time. Some time ago, I felt that because he was my root guru, I must do something about it. I felt it unbearable to leave things as they were; I felt I had to try to resolve this issue. Therefore I wrote this letter, which expresses my own thoughts, hoping to inspire the abbots and older geshes to add their views and request the incarnation and his entourage to return to India.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has taken unbelievable responsibility for the peace and happiness of this world. He has worked for world peace in general and, in particular, for the preservation of Buddhism, the holy Dharma, in its entirety—the teachings of the Lesser Vehicle and both Mahayana Paramitayana and tantra. On top of that, there’s the issue of Tibet, which is unbelievably hard and such a difficult situation. Despite the many problems, His Holiness has taken responsibility for the welfare of all Tibetan people, especially those in the monasteries—the monks’ means of living and their education. That in itself is an unbelievable task, but in addition, he has taken responsibility for the freedom of Tibet.

If Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s incarnation were to follow His Holiness’s holy wishes and go back to study in the monastery like His Holiness Ling Rinpoche and other lamas do, it would reduce the burden in His Holiness’s heart and relieve the discomfort of this situation. So that’s one aspect of this.

There are many contemporary and ancient stories about His Holiness Dalai Lama that, together with valid quotations from the scriptures, prove that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is Chenrezig; the Buddha of Compassion. [See Lama Zopa's talks In Praise of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and Great Compassion and His Holiness the Dalai Lama] The qualities of his holy body, speech and mind, his great compassion and his holy actions are as limitless as the sky and benefit not only the East but also the West; in fact, every country in the world.

His Holiness has even managed to spread the Dharma to far-flung countries where normally you’d never hear any Buddhadharma at all. Like the rising sun, he has shed the light of Dharma upon the sentient beings who live in those countries, leading them along the pure path to peace and happiness, to liberation and enlightenment. Because of such incredible, extensive work throughout the world, His Holiness’s kindness is beyond measure.

What proves that the founder of the Buddhadharma, Shakyamuni Buddha, is a pure founder, a valid founder? This is proven by his teaching being pure and valid. Similarly, the fact that even ordinary beings like us can see the extensive qualities of His Holiness’s holy body, speech and mind proves that he is the Buddha of Compassion.

Further proof that His Holiness is the Buddha of Compassion comes from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in India, when he predicted to the bodhisattva Eliminating Defilements (Dribpa Namsäl), “The sentient beings in the Snowland of Tibet will be subdued by the Buddha of Compassion.”

Guru Shakyamuni Buddha also predicted to the bodhisattva Thayä Rigchog, “The Chenrezig who is going to work for the transmigratory beings of the Snowland of Tibet is you.”

Furthermore, the teachings say, “The guide of all the sentient beings in the Snowland of Tibet will hold the position of a king. The savior of Tibet, Phurgyäl Yül, is my heart disciple. His holy mind is completely clear, without obscuration, but he will work for sentient beings in a hidden manner by acting as an ordinary being.”

When we meet this Chenrezig that the Buddha predicted, hear his holy speech and are guided by him with compassion, if His Holiness Dalai Lama is not that Chenrezig, who else can Chenrezig be? If His Holiness is not Chenrezig, then nobody can be Chenrezig; even those great yogis who are said to be incarnations of this buddha or that are suspect. You can’t trust any other incarnation.

So, that proof relates to the ancient stories from the time of the Buddha, when he predicted that Chenrezig would be the Dharma king of Tibet and preserve Dharma and guide sentient beings in Tibet by revealing the Dharma.

However, there are also recent stories that prove the ancient stories true. When His Holiness was giving teachings at Geshe Sopa Rinpoche’s center, Deer Park, in Madison, Wisconsin, recently, he said, “I have no experience, no realization of bodhicitta and no realization of emptiness.” His Holiness often says that, but later, during an interview with the staff of Deer Park, somebody raised the question, “If you don’t have those realizations, as you say, there must be no hope for people like us.”

When His Holiness heard this, he felt incredible compassion and had to say something, so he told the people that he remembered being around Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in India. This means that he was one of the bodhisattvas who were part of the Buddha’s entourage. It slipped out that he remembered being in the presence of the Buddha.

This story is connected to the previous stories about the predictions the Buddha made to those bodhisattvas and that Chenrezig would guide sentient beings in Tibet and that the bodhisattva Thayä Rigchog was in actuality Chenrezig and would be the one who would do that work in Tibet.

There are many Buddhist leaders in the world, not only those from Tibet. But amongst all these Buddhist leaders, His Holiness’s deeds are beyond compare. Because of His Holiness, the Buddhadharma, the precious teaching of the Buddha, the only medicine that can eliminate the suffering of all transmigrator beings, is flourishing. His Holiness’s holy actions have prevented the Buddhadharma from degenerating.

Besides His Holiness having taken complete responsibility for preserving the stainless teaching of the Buddha, he has also taken full responsibility for the freedom of the six million Tibetan people in the world. His Holiness has borne great hardship to ensure that Tibetans everywhere have both Dharma and temporal freedom.

Because of all this, we must not only completely abandon any thought of giving harm to His Holiness’s activities but also put every effort into helping him. The time has come for all of us together to offer His Holiness every possible service. Therefore, each of us should generate the most extensive thought of benefiting others and ourselves. In this way, please follow His Holiness’s advice and wishes as much as you possibly can.

Whereas above I am asking everyone to follow His Holiness’s advice, in a later paragraph I quote the sutra that says, “Bhikshus and the wise should examine my teachings like goldsmiths analyze gold, by cutting, rubbing and scorching it. Examine my teachings in the same way and then put them into practice. Do not practice Dharma on the strength of blind faith alone.”

So, the Buddha himself said that we should first analyze his teachings and once we are convinced of their validity then put them into practice. We should not just blindly follow what he said simply because he said it.

My Question: Is Lama Zopa telling us to examine what the Dalai Lama is saying and not to follow on "blind faith alone"? "We should not just blindly follow what he said simply because he said it."

We have many gurus; many virtuous friends with whom we have made a Dharma connection. You often find that, when you ask your various teachers for advice on your practice, you receive different instructions. That’s quite common.

It also says in the teachings that you should not simply rely on the person giving Dharma teachings but on the Dharma itself. In other words, you should base your practice on valid teachings of the Buddha and the previous pundits’ and yogis’ commentaries on those teachings. Moreover, you should practice according to your own capacity. Just because something is called Buddhism or Buddhist meditation doesn’t mean that you should necessarily put it into practice. Of course, your practice should be based on valid teachings of the Buddha and the ancient Indian pundits’ and yogis’ commentaries, but even then you should just practice according to your own capacity.

You have to use your own wisdom; you have to analyze. One guru tells you not to do a certain thing; another tells you to do it. Which one are you going to follow? You have to use your own wisdom. So here, in my letter to the abbots, I’m talking about the practice of this particular protector, Shugden.

My Question: You have to use your own wisdom. Does that mean we do not necessarily listen to the Dalai Lama?

Some of you may be familiar with this issue, others may not. However, whereas so far I’ve just been talking about general advice, where one guru tells you not to do something and another says to do it, what I’m doing is leading up to the specific issue of the practice of Shugden. One guru tells you “Don’t practice this protector”; another says, “Practice this protector.” You find yourself getting conflicting instructions from different gurus. How are you supposed to know what to do?

What you have to do is use your wisdom. Analyze the various instructions you have received to determine which course of action is the most beneficial for sentient beings, which creates fewest problems. Once you have reached a conclusion, practice that.

My Question: Here Lama Zopa doesn't say don't practice Shugden. Is he being diplomatic and skilful?

The teachings also explain what to do if your guru tells you to do something that you can’t do, that is beyond your capacity; something that you cannot transform into the path to enlightenment and would create heavy negative karma if you did it. For example, if your guru tells you to do something very heavy, like killing a human being, but from your side you feel that you don’t have the capacity to do it, how do you handle that situation?

It is said in the teachings, “Like an actor, the one Dharmakaya, the great bliss, the ultimate guru, manifests in many different forms.”

Therefore, from your side, you must look at the holy minds of all the gurus with whom you have made a Dharma connection as the great, blissful Dharmakaya. You must see them as being completely free of error and in possession of all good qualities. Your mind must look at all of them as Buddha. By keeping your mind in that view, you don’t lose your guru devotion. If continuously you keep in mind that your gurus are Buddha, non-devotional thoughts, such as disbelief, anger and so forth, do not arise. It is extremely important to avoid generating negative thoughts towards your gurus because such minds create enormous obstacles not only to gaining realizations but even to temporary success. However, the Vinaya teachings say, “If your guru tells you to do something that is not Dharma, do not do it.”

Also, the Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion says in verse 24, “If you cannot do what your guru suggests, you can request permission not to do it by explaining why you can’t.” Humbly, without arrogance, without thinking, “Oh, my guru doesn’t know this, he doesn’t know that,” by looking with devotion at your guru as Buddha, humbly explain how you are incapable of doing what he asks. As skillfully as you can, try to get permission from your guru not to do what he has asked you to do.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said, “Special disciples and special gurus, like Milarepa and Marpa or Naropa and Tilopa, are different. In such cases, every single word that the guru says to the disciple, even if it involves killing, stealing and so forth, has to be followed exactly.”

In this part of my letter, then, I am offering His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche my suggestions for dealing with various questions that arise, such as, “Perhaps His Holiness says this, but what about other lamas, who say something different?” Here I try to answer those various points. Of course, this approach can help with many things, but the particular issue here is that of Shugden.

Then I request His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche to go back to India to study in his monastery. It is extremely important that he return to his monastery to undertake deep, extensive study. The people who are preventing the incarnation from doing this are not considering the extensive benefit that he could offer sentient beings if he were allowed to develop in the normal way. They are not thinking of his future benefit to sentient beings.

At the Gelugpa meeting in Delhi in March 1999, which we, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, helped organize, all the abbots agreed that if His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche’s incarnation’s holy activities were not developed in one of the great monasteries, if they were developed outside, they wouldn’t count.

Another thing is that the way things are, the Tibetan people see the incarnation as being against His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In that way, Tibetan people and others generate wrong views towards him and thus create the extremely heavy negative karma of criticizing a holy being.

My Question: So Lama Zopa is saying here people should NOT criticise HH Trijang Rinpoche because they are creating very bad karma? HH Trijang Rinpoche is a holy being - therefore, how can what he is practising be evil?

Also, other people’s misuse of the incarnation damages his samaya with His Holiness, which severely hinders the incarnation’s ability to develop his holy actions to benefit sentient beings. Moreover, if a bad connection is made with His Holiness this time, there will be bad connections in all future lives. This hinders his ability to benefit sentient beings in future lives. Therefore, it’s extremely harmful. Many sentient beings collect negative karma. Most people can understand all this. Even someone with just a little lam-rim knowledge can understand these problems.

Some people say that if you don’t practice Shugden, Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching cannot be developed. The next point answers this view.

Some people think that the practice of Shugden prevents Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings from degenerating and promotes their development. But there have been many Gelug lamas who without practicing Shugden, spread Buddhadharma, spread the stainless teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa like the sky. Lamas like Their Holinesses the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth Dalai Lamas, Ling Rinpoche and Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen—a great, well-known Tibetan lama who wrote many, many teachings and not only didn’t practice Shugden but also advised against the practice.

Purchog Jampa Rinpoche, a very high lama of Sera Je Monastery and an incarnation of Maitreya Buddha, wrote against the practice of Shugden in the Monastery’s constitution. Jangkya Rölpa’i Dorje and Jangkyang Ngawang Chödrön, who wrote many excellent texts, also advised against this practice, as did Tenpa’i Wangchuk, the Eighth Panchen Lama, and Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen, the Fourth Panchen Lama, who composed the Guru Puja and wrote many other teachings, and Ngulchu Dharmabhadra. All these great lamas, and many other highly accomplished scholars and yogis who preserved and spread the stainless teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa, recommended that Shugden not be practiced.

This point is very important, because people think that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the only one trying to stop the practice of Shugden. Therefore, the people who are practicing it get negative towards His Holiness. But His Holiness is not the only one. There are many other high lamas who, in monastery constitutions, have advised their monasteries not to practice, or, if they are practicing, to stop. There are many, many lamas who have done this.

No other protector has become such a big issue, but this has become important because not only His Holiness the Dalai Lama has advised against it but so have many other great lamas. Therefore it is something that we have to think about.

Even though this specific issue does not concern most of you—only a few old students—everybody has to understand what I mentioned at the beginning and again in the middle: how to remain devoted to lamas who give you conflicting advice and how to get permission not to do something you have been asked to do without generating wrong views, arrogance or anger.

My root guru, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche; Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru’s root guru; His Holiness Song 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. They were all aspects of the Dharmakaya.

I myself took the initiation of Shugden from His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. There were four of us—Lama Yeshe, Claudio Cipullo, Piero Cerri and myself. However, this initiation can be given to only three people at a time; there cannot be four. Kyabje Rinpoche had set up the altar and made all the preparations perfectly—of course, everything he did was always perfect—and was there, waiting for us. After the four of us sat down, he said, “You cannot be four; only three. Whoever has bodhicitta, who has let go of the I and cherishes others, should leave.” Lama shot up immediately. I just sat there like a donkey, as if I were made of stone. So then the three of us, Claudio, Piero and I, took the initiation.

Of course, Lama 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. Of course, this was not Lama’s principal practice. His principal practice was bodhicitta, emptiness, clear light, illusory body and so forth. The protector puja was done simply to overcome obstacles.

However, all these lamas giving different kinds of advice are all manifestations of the Dharmakaya. The point is that many great lamas who had incredible qualities and were of unbelievable benefit in Tibet, preserving and spreading the stainless teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa, advised against the practice of Shugden.

Similarly, His Holiness is of enormous benefit to sentient beings and, furthermore, has taken on the incredible burdens of his position. Therefore, it has become crucial that we support him, especially in his efforts on behalf of Tibet. This is very important and the main reason we changed—why Kopan changed; why I changed [i.e., stopped practicing Shugden]. As I understood how hard His Holiness works and what heavy burdens he has assumed, I changed. How could I be against His Holiness? There was no way. The only thing to do was to support, serve and help him. That’s the main thing.

My Question: So Lama Zopa only supports the Dalai Lama, he doesn't necessarily support the ban?

The next question—and here, I’m just posing hypothetical questions and giving the answers, like the debate texts do—that comes up for some people is that if the incarnation of His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche doesn’t practice, the lineage of Shugden will degenerate and die out. Some people might think this because in his previous life, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche was the main lama preserving this lineage, which had come down through his root guru, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo. To that, I say there’s no need to worry because many other people do the practice, so the lineage will not get lost.

Then, some people say that this practice should continue because it promotes wealth and prosperity in the world. In response, I say that the practice of Shugden is not necessary for wealth. There are many rich and powerful countries in the world, like Saudi Arabia and the USA, that don’t practice Shugden. They haven’t taken the initiation; they haven’t made a commitment to practice. As everybody knows, wealth and prosperity comes from merit and virtue; from the creation of good karma.

After Guru Shakyamuni Buddha left his father’s palace but before he began to practice Buddhism, he practiced Hinduism. That’s not because he didn’t know that Hinduism was not the way. It was to show sentient beings that his first choice was wrong and that Buddhism was the right path.

At one point, when things in Tibet became very difficult politically, His Holiness came to Dromo Geshe Rinpoche’s monastery in southern Tibet. At that time the Tibetan government could not decide whether His Holiness should go on to India or back to Lhasa. So His Holiness and his ministers consulted Dromo Geshe Rinpoche’s monastery’s protector, the one in question. Through the oracle, Shugden said that His Holiness should not go to India. This protected Tibet for another year or for so. What I have heard is that after that experience, His Holiness would recite prayers to Shugden regularly. However, after many years of analysis, when His Holiness was about to take the initiation of Shugden, he received signs in a dream that he should not. As a result, he didn’t take the initiation.

This is the same as what Guru Shakyamuni Buddha did. He first became enlightened inconceivably long ago, not, as history tells us, two-and-a-half thousand years ago in India. According to the Theravada tradition, that’s what happened, but the Mahayana does not accept this—we believe he became enlightened inconceivably long ago. Therefore, as an enlightened being, how can the Buddha make a mistake? He simply practiced Hinduism to show sentient beings that it was the wrong path. This is just what His Holiness did; he practiced Shugden to show us it was wrong.

Because of His Holiness’s special capacity to benefit people extensively by revealing the entire Buddhadharma in a very short time, in two or three days or even one or two hours, it is very important that he have a long, healthy life. Since His Holiness can introduce the Dharma to people in such a short time, leading them to the peace and happiness of liberation and enlightenment, the longer and healthier His Holiness’s life, the more he can benefit us sentient beings. Therefore, we need to support him. That’s the main point.

For example, if something were to happen to His Holiness’s life, what would happen to Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism? Imagine how much suffering there would be. We’d have no guide; all those monasteries would also be guideless. Everything depends on His Holiness. Like a father and mother, His Holiness is everything; not only to Dharma students but especially to Tibetans. Who would we listen to if His Holiness were not there? You can see how much suffering there’d be without him.

If Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism is lost, the complete teaching of the Buddha is lost. If there’s no Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism there’s no complete teaching of the Buddha. Even though there might be Chinese Mahayana and other traditions, it’s only Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism that has everything—the Lesser Vehicle teachings, Mahayana sutra and Mahayana tantra; especially the complete teaching on tantra. You see how much suffering and confusion there’d be in the world. This is particularly true for Tibetans.

Therefore, it’s extremely important that you understand this. His Holiness’s advice is to not practice Shugden, therefore, we have to support His Holiness and fulfill his wishes on this point. That’s the essence of what I’m trying to say. I don’t know whether any of you are practicing Shugden, but this is just to inform those who do not know and to clarify the situation for those who do.

Another thing is that some Tibetans and others severely criticize Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo because he practiced Shugden, making him out to be some kind of demon. However, Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo wrote incredible teachings on sutra and tantra; on Heruka, Tara Cittamani and many other topics. All these amazing teachings were written purely from his experience. So it’s impossible that he can really be some kind of evil being, as those extremists accuse him of being. There’s no way he could have done the negative things they say he did.

My Question: So how can Pabongka Rinpoche be bad? If he is not evil, Dorje Shugden cannot be evil also?

The great translator Ra Lotsawa, one of the main Yamantaka lineage holders, is supposed to have killed many people through his tantric power, but nobody regards Ra Lotsawa as bad. Tantric powers are attained on the basis of bodhicitta, the realization of emptiness and the generation and completion stages of Highest Yoga Tantra, and when you gain the powers that come with the clear light and the illusory body and do wrathful actions—for example, separating evil beings’ consciousness from their body—the main point is to transfer their consciousness to the pure land. That’s the end result of wrathful tantric actions. Wrathful actions like that are done to benefit other sentient beings. When dealing with evil beings through peaceful actions doesn’t benefit them the only way left to benefit them is through wrathful actions. If you possess the necessary powers and qualities you can benefit others in that way with no danger to yourself. Not only can you but you are supposed to. It’s part of your samaya.

There are many stories about the great yogis and living beings. For example, one great yogi called Lobpön Jampel Shenyen made soup with live worms. And when Naropa first met his guru, Tilopa, he was down by the river cooking live fish and eating them, which made him think, “This can’t be Tilopa.” So when he asked, “Are you Tilopa?” Tilopa said, “No.” Later on, when Naropa had generated faith and again asked, “Are you Tilopa?” Tilopa said, “Yes.” Anyway, great yogis can assume such aspects.

The incarnation of Kyabje Dorje Chang, His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche, is His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s guru and the lama of all the Tibetan people, so it’s terrible if he’s hidden away in some corner as if there’s something wrong with him. That’s absolutely shameful. Therefore, the people around him have to think very extensively. In his previous life he performed incredibly holy actions; therefore, his present incarnation has the potential to spread Dharma in both the East and the West like the rising sun spreads light. Even just within the FPMT there are more than 120 centers in which he could spread the teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa when he finished his geshe degree. But the extent to which he can practice guru devotion and develop his holy actions depends almost entirely on his attendant.

My Question: If there's nothng wrong with Trijang Rinpoche, why IS he being sidelined? All because he doesn't wish to renounce his precious Dorje Shugden practice? It IS absolutely shameful!

Then in my letter to His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche I also request the incarnation that whatever sutra and tantra teachings he offered His Holiness Dalai Lama in his previous life, to please take those complete lineages from His Holiness Dalai Lama. So I request this from my heart.

However, this does not apply only to His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. It applies to all of you as well. The main point in telling you all this is that if you read the letter, it might give you an idea of how to practice in general and particularly what to do with respect to the issue of the protector, Shugden. The other point is to let know something about this issue itself.

1. The letter was addressed to the reincarnation of the previous Trijang Rinpoche and Lama Zopa Rinpoche sent it to the abbots to get their input and support for it. Here, Rinpoche is reading parts of this letter to the assembled students and commenting on it. The letter itself is not available at this time.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being