Author Topic: INTERESTING READ-PART2  (Read 10255 times)


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« on: December 18, 2007, 12:41:31 AM »
In his concluding remarks, Wilson observes that "…the debate surrounding Shugden was primarily one of differing understandings of the constitution of religious rights as an element of state life, particularly in the context of theocratic rule. As an international dispute, moreover, it crossed the increasingly debated line between theocratic Tibetan and liberal Western interpretations of the political reality of religion as category." In particular he sees the main failing of the Shugden Supporters Campaign as arising from their erroneous assertion of "the separation of religion and state as the basis for the understanding of religious freedom and denied any legitimate functioning role to Buddhism within the constitution of that state."[22]
Whereas Kay states "The Dalai Lama opposes the Yellow Book and Dorje Shugden propitiation because they defy his attempts to restore the ritual foundations of the Tibetan state and because they disrupt the basis of his leadership, designating him as an “enemy of Buddhism” and potential target of the deities retribution."[16]
Another point of the political dimension is the involvement of the Chinese, interested to use this conflict to undermine the unity of the Tibetans and their faith towards the Dalai Lama. So for example when the official Xinhua news agency said 17 Tibetans destroyed a pair of statues at Lhasa's Ganden Monastery on 14 March 2006 depicting the deity Dorje Shugden, the mayor of Lhasa blamed the destruction on followers of the Dalai Lama. On the other side, according to BBC, analysts accused China of exploiting any dispute for political ends. According to BBC "...some analysts have accused China of exploiting the apparent unrest for political gain in an effort to discredit the Dalai Lama. Tibet analyst Theirry Dodin said China had encouraged division among the Tibetans by promoting followers of the Dorje Shugden sect to key positions of authority. 'There is a fault line in Tibetan Buddhism and its traditions itself, but it is also exploited for political purposes'..."[27]
[edit] Background of the conflict in the Gelug tradition
Historically the Gelug tradition, founded by Je Tsongkhapa, has never been a completely unified order. Internal conflicts and divisions are a part of it and are based on philosophical, political, regional, economic, and institutional interests. In the 17th century the Gelug order became politically dominant in central Tibet. This was through the institutions of the Dalai Lamas. Although he is not the head of the Gelug school — the head is the Ganden Tripa, the abbot of Ganden Monastery — the Dalai Lama is the highest incarnate Lama of the Gelug school, comparable to the position of the Karmapa in the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Because of his responsibility as the political and religious leader of the Tibetans, the Dalai Lama's duty is to balance the different interests and be sensitive towards the different traditions and relationships. "It is necessary also to reflect on what the development of such a sectarian cult has meant and continues to mean for the Dalai Lama and for all the Tibetans in exile (and also for the Tibetans in occupied Tibet, for whom the repercussions of this matter are many and of more than secondary import)."[13] There were power struggles from the 14th century onwards "competing for political influence and economical support"[28] and a tendency of a strong sectarian interpretation of the Buddha's doctrine. This sectarian attitude was encountered in the open approach of the Dalai Lamas, especially the 5th, 13th and 14th, and through the development of the Rimé movement at the end of the 19th century, which Gelug lamas also followed.
The founder of the Gelug school, Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), had an open, ecumenical and eclectic approach. He used to go to all the great lamas of his time from all the different Buddhist schools and received Buddhist teachings from them. But his first successor, Khedrubje (mKhas grub rje) (1385-1483) became "quite active in enforcing a stricter orthodoxy, chasting... disciples for not upholding Tsongkhapa's pure tradition".[28]
According to David N. Kay
"from this time, as is the case with most religious traditions, there have been those within the Gelug who have interpreted their tradition 'inclusively', believing that their Gelug affiliation should in no way exclude the influence of other schools which constitute additional resources along the path of enlightenment. Others have adopted a more 'exclusive' approach, considering that their Gelug identity should preclude the pursuit of other paths and that the 'purity' of the Gelug tradition must be defended and preserved.[29]
In the past the different approaches of Pabongka Rinpoche (1878-1943) ('exclusive' religious and political approach) and the 13th Dalai Lama (1876-1933) ('inclusive' religious and political approach) were quite contrary. Especially at that time, the conservative Gelugpas feared the modernisation and the reforms of the 13th Dalai Lama and tried to undermine them. As a sign of that modernisation from within the Tibetan society, the Rime movement won strong influence, especially in Kham (Khams, Eastern Tibet),
"...and in response to the Rimé movement (ris med) that had originated and was flowering in that region, Pabongkha Rinpoche (a Gelug agent of the Tibetan government) and his disciples employed repressive measures against non-Gelug sects. Religious artefacts associated with Padmasambhava — who is revered as a 'second Buddha' by Nyingma practitioners — were destroyed, and non-Gelug, and particularly Nyingma, monasteries were forcibly converted to the Gelug position. A key element of Pabongkha Rinpoche's outlook was the cult of the protective deity Dorje Shugden, which he married to the idea of Gelug exclusivism and employed against other traditions as well as against those within the Gelug who had eclectic tendencies."[17]
According to Samuel Pabongka Rinpoche, who was a "strict purist and conservative", "adopted an attitude of sectarian intolerance" and "instituted a campaign to convert non-Gelug gompa (monasteries) in Kham to the Gelugpa school, by force where necessary."[30] Pabongkha Rinpoche and his disciples prompted the growing influence of the Rimé movement by propagating the supremacy of the Gelug school as the only pure tradition.[31] He based his approach on a 'unique understanding' of the Shunyata view in the Gelug tradition.
Although Trijang Rinpoche (1900-1981), one of Pabongkha Rinpoche's famous disciples, had a more moderate view on other traditions than Pabongkha, nevertheless "he continued to regard the deity (Dorje Shugden) as a severe and violent punisher of inclusively orientated Gelug practitioners."[32] Trijang Rinpoche, as the Junior Tutor of HH the Dalai Lama introduced the Dorje Shugden practice to His Holiness in 1959. Some years later the 14th Dalai Lama recognized that this practice is in conflict with the state protector Pehar and with the main protective goddess of the Gelug tradition and the Tibetan people, Palden Lhamo (dPal ldan lha mo), and that this practice is also in conflict with his own open and ecumenical (Rimé) approach and religious and political responsibilities. After the publication of Zemey Rinpoche's sectarian text The Yellow Book on Shugden, he spoke publicly against Dorje Shugden practice and distanced himself from it.
[edit] The conflict in the west
[edit] Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and New Kadampa Tradition
These ideological, political and religious views on an exclusive/inclusive approach or belief were brought to the west and were at large expressed in the west by the conflicts (1979-1984)[33] between Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who developed at Manjushri Institute an ever increasing 'exclusive' approach,[34] and Lama Yeshe, who had a more 'inclusive' approach[35] and had invited Geshe Kelsang in 1976 to England at his FPMT centre and later lost this centre, Manjushri Institute, to Geshe Kelsang and his followers.[36]
However, these conflicts didn't appear to the public. But the issue about the nature of Dorje Shugden became visible to the broader public by the NKT media-campaign (1996-1998) on Dorje Shugden against the 14th Dalai Lama, after the Dalai Lama has rejected and spoken out against this practice.[37] He has described Shugden as an evil and malevolent force, and argued that other Lamas before him had also placed restrictions on worship of this spirit.[37] Geshe Kelsang teaches that the deity Dorje Shugden is the Dharma protector for the New Kadampa Tradition and is a manifestation of the Buddha[37] and commented that this practice was taught him and the Dalai Lama by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, that's why, he concludes, they can not give it up, otherwise they would break their Guru's pledges.
In 1996 Geshe Kelsang and his disciples started to denounce the Dalai Lama in public of being a "ruthless dictator" and "oppressor of religious freedom",[38] they organized demonstrations against the Dalai Lama in the UK (later also in the USA, Swiss and Germany) with slogans like "Your smiles charm Your actions harm".[39] Geshe Kelsang and the NKT accused the Dalai Lama of impinging on their religious freedom and of intolerance,[40] and further they accused the Dalai Lama "of selling out Tibet by promoting its autonomy within China rather than outright independence, of expelling their followers from jobs in Tibetan establishments in India, and of denying them humanitarian aid pouring in from Western countries."[41] Newspapers like The Guardian (Britain), The Independent (Britain), The Washington Post (USA), The New York Times (USA), Die TAZ (Germany) as well as other newspapers in different countries picked up the hot topic and published articles, reported about the conflict and especially the Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) and NKT. Besides these and CNN also the BBC and Swiss TV reported in detail about these conflicts. The Guardian: "A group calling itself the Shugden Supporters Community - the majority of whose members are also NKT - has mounted a high-profile international campaign, claiming the Dalai Lama's warnings against Dorje Shugden amount to a ban which denies religious freedom to the Tibetan refugee settlements of India. And NKT members have been handed draft letters to send to the Home Secretary asking for the Dalai Lama's visa for the UK to be cancelled, arguing that he violates the very human rights - of religious tolerance and non-violence - which he has spent his life promoting."[42] According to the Independent: "The view from inside the Shugden Supporters Community was almost a photographic negative of everything the outside world believes about Tibet and the Dalai Lama."[43] Regarding the facts SSC (NKT) spread, the Independent said: "It was a powerful indictment, flawed only by the fact that almost everything I was told in the Lister house was untrue."[43] In support of the NKT, the SSC published a directory of supporters ("Dorje Shugden Supporter List"), which included monasteries in India and other non-NKT Western-based centers, associated with known Tibetan Buddhist teachers. This list was part of the second press pack, released on 10 July 1996.[44] The listing of western-based groups and their Buddhist teachers may have been misleading as well.[44] Lama Gangchen Rinpoche for instance did not express his support for the campaign and was shocked to hear that he had been listed as a supporter.[44] Also Dagyab Kyabgön Rinpoche was put on the list without he had been asked for and even after he had complained to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso individually, his name and his organisation's name weren't remove from the list.[45] According to a German Buddhist Magazine there were a number of names of Tibetan teachers and their organisation on the list who never gave their support or even were asked for it.[45]
As a result of the aggressive campaign the NKT was faced with hostile press articles. Donald S. Lopez, Jr. commented: "The demonstrations made front-page news in the British press, which collectively rose to the Dalai Lama’s defense and in various reports depicted the New Kadampa Tradition as a fanatic, empire-building, demon-worshipping cult. The demonstrations were a public relations disaster for the NKT, not only because of its treatment by the press, but also because the media provided no historical context for the controversy and portrayed Shugden as a remnant of Tibet’s primitive pre-Buddhist past."[46]