Author Topic: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden  (Read 10729 times)

hope rainbow

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Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« on: July 31, 2010, 05:40:42 AM »
Quoted below is a talk given by Lama Zopa on Dorje Shugden (my questions thereafter)
Extracted from http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=335

QUOTE:
(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 Abhisamayalankara 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.]
(End of quote)

Hope Rainbow:
I am doing this post with no ill intention. I am only seeking other’s input so that I can gain more understanding on the practice of Dorje Shugden.

Observation : 
Lama Zopa: “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.”
(end of quote)
My factual observation: the result of the ban is:
a) that Dorje Shugden has now become famous,
b) that the practice of Dorje Shugden has become more popular in the world.
From a shugdenpa’s point of view, this ban is indeed “for the benefit of individual people as well as the world in general.” Otherwise, it seems to be rather counter-productive.

Question :
I could not find here Lama Zopa explaining how Dorje Shugden is a spirit or a demon, he did not even mention it. Is there other teachings in which he is explaining more on this aspect of the “controversy”? If you know, please share with me.

Question :
Lama Zopa : “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.”
(end of quote)
My question:
If one’s guru has given the practice of Dorje Shugden to his disciple, then that guru has passed away, and the disciple is told by a qualified Teacher to stop the practice of Dorje Shugden, then how does he reconcile this cessation and not giving up his guru?


honeydakini

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2010, 03:10:49 AM »

Question :
I could not find here Lama Zopa explaining how Dorje Shugden is a spirit or a demon, he did not even mention it. Is there other teachings in which he is explaining more on this aspect of the “controversy”? If you know, please share with me.



HopeRainbow,
I hope there are rainbows and plenty of sunshine in your area today!

On the FPMT website, there is a section featuring personal advice that Lama Zopa has given to his students regarding Dorje Shugden. This also includes the section that you have quoted in this thread.

Here it is: http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=335

Scroll down the page and you will see his personal answers to students who had more specific questions about the protector practice.

What I find quite helpful is to note that Lama Zopa does not explicitly speak badly against Dorje Shugden, but rather, his stance is to respect the Dalai Lama and his directive that FMPT do not practise DS seems to be more about respecting the wishes of Dalai Lama, whose qualities he talks about in length. It's an interesting approach.

Will attempt to answer your second answer next!

honeydakini

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2010, 03:39:45 AM »
Question :
Lama Zopa : “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.”
(end of quote)

My question:
If one’s guru has given the practice of Dorje Shugden to his disciple, then that guru has passed away, and the disciple is told by a qualified Teacher to stop the practice of Dorje Shugden, then how does he reconcile this cessation and not giving up his guru?

It is interesting that you’ve asked this as this is probably the precise dilemma that thousands of DS practitioners around the world are facing. Many have both Dalai Lama and another teacher as their Guru so they are caught in the middle – if they give up the practice, they break samaya; if they keep the practice, they break samaya. So, what can they do?

The situation in your question is slightly different though, in that the practice was given FIRST by one of our Gurus…. Then another one comes along and advises us to stop it. In this case, I would say that I personally would not give it up because although my first Guru has passed on, it doesn’t make his instructions or teachings to me any less important. Samaya is for life; the relationship and advice doesn't end just because our teachers have passed on. No teacher has the right to just come along and tell you stop doing what your previous teachers have already advised you to do. If that was the case, then any teacher can come along and mess up everything that our teachers had already told us to do before. It becomes havoc and we can become very, very confused in our path and practice.

I can’t really advise an individual what they should or shouldn’t do because this is already a matter of samaya between a disciple and his guru(s) and this decision, I feel, should come ultimately from the disciple, not from being told by someone on a forum!

However, I can share what I understand and from accounts I have heard: From my understanding, there are many practitioners out there who are continuing the practice quietly, without creating any outward problems or speaking about the situation. Their current teachers may have advised them not to do the practice so they do not practice it publically in any way; but they still have a commitment to their previous teachers, so they continue, albeit quietly.

It is, however, very difficult, as many are caught in a situation where they feel like they cannot be truthful either to their first teacher who openly encouraged it, and their current teacher who has requested they disavow the practice. Some choose to “sit on the fence” but in this case, I feel it is not necessarily a bad thing; for many, there is no other choice.

honeydakini

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2010, 04:30:12 AM »
By the way, HOPE RAINBOW:

There have been other threads on the forum about FPMT/ Lama Yeshe/ Lama Zopa & Dorje Shugden. Do read through them too - a few interesting discussions and plenty more information on the situation:

FPMT - Sectarian?
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=702.0

Kopan Monks divided
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=659.0

Lama Zopa says its shameful (he comments on how Trijang Rinpoche has to remain "hidden")
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=749.msg7218#msg7218

Lama Osel renounces FPMT
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=478.0

Who made Lama Zopa a Rinpoche?
http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=49.0

hope rainbow

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2010, 04:40:34 AM »
Thank you HD,
I have read through some of the earlier topics indeed, and I came to the same conclusion as you regarding the skillful way Lama Zopa talks about Dorje Shugden.
Thank you for sharing

WisdomBeing

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2010, 11:26:02 AM »
Dear Hope Rainbow,

Just to add that I think Lama Zopa is placed in an awkward position because he himself has such a close link to Dorje Shugden with:

1. his being recognised as a Rinpoche by Dorje Shugden 
2. his own root Lama, Lama Yeshe, being a loyal Shugden practitioner, even when HH The Dalai Lama was staring to be against Dorje Shugden

Despite his outward support for the Dalai Lama's ban, Lama Zopa's decision to not criticise Dorje Shugden or Geshe Kelsang Gyatso - even to the extent of encouraging Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's students to return to him, shows that Lama Zopa is inwardly not against Dorje Shugden's practice. At the very least, his stance is inconsistent.

In particular, see these paragraphs - which is very telling (I bolded these sentences for emphasis) :

"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. "

(from http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=335)

The fact that Lama Zopa says the Gurus are not wrong actually contradicts the Dalai Lama who has said that his gurus were wrong. Also when Lama Zopa says the Protector is not evil and that it is mentioned that DS is Manjushri, that also contradicts the Dalai Lama.

It's very inconsistent.





Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

hope rainbow

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2010, 02:36:21 PM »
It i not a feature for High Lamas to be inconsistent.
On the opposite, it is a characteristic for High Lamas to be consistent!
Consistent in taking their students through trainings so that a mind shift operates (mind transformation), consistent in making sure that Dharma grows.

Again I quote Lama Zopa:
“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.”
(end of quote)

The result of the ban is:
a) that Dorje Shugden has now become famous,
b) that the practice of Dorje Shugden has become more popular in the world.
Since Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri, as is Lama Tsongkhapa, since they are from the same mind continuum; the spread of Dorje Shugden practice can online equate with the spread of Dharma.

So much for the "inconsistency", as far as I understand.

Helena

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2010, 03:06:25 PM »
This has been a very useful thread of valuable discussions. Thank you all for sharing so much of your thoughts and learnings. They are indeed very helpful to anyone reading.

Granted we may always find an exact, absolute answer because we should always consult our teacher as well as reflect within. At the end of the day, if one continues with the practice of DS, but outwardly, they have to show some sort of respect to HHDL - then it is something they have to do and need to do.

Skillful means are very crucial in handling delicate situations.
Helena

shugdenprotect

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2010, 03:15:46 PM »
HoneyDakini and WisdomeBeing, Thank you for the valuable information and links shared in this thread!

After reading the teaching by Lama Zopa on Dorje Shugden quoted by Hope Rainbow, I simply feel that Lama Zopa’s approach is one that is quite skillful as it maintains respect for every party involved. Lama Zopa seems to be concocting the best possible approach taking into consideration the sensitivity of the situation. This is putting Dharma teachings into action.

As HoneyDakini pointed out, many DS practitioners continue to worship Him discreetly and secretly. This will enable them to maintain their respect for HH the Dalai Lama AND keep their samaya to their Guru who bestowed the practice of Dorje Shugden upon them. I believe that HH the Dalai Lama has the clairvoyance to know that there are DS practitioners who are still practicing in secret. By not exposing them, HH is indirectly permitting them to do so. Therefore, as mentioned several times in other threads, this ban could be a tool to spread the worship of Dorje Shugden more efficiently.

beggar

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2010, 04:04:01 AM »
Hey y’all

It is good to read up and be acquainted with what is going on in other centres. However, may I, an old hack here, lend some advice to all the inquisitive and faithful new practitioners here. And that is that whatever methods other lamas may be using, that is what may be most suited to their disciples, followers and centres.

We cannot simply take their model and make it fit into our own practice, centres and Dharma families.

Most important always, is to follow what your own Lamas have advised you – whether it is to practise openly, or quietly etc. Your Lama will know what is best for you and the community you are practising with.

Maybe now is the best time for you to come out in the open. or maybe now is not really the right time yet. Sit tight, be patient and keep your samaya clean then you will know for sure that everything will turn out well.

PS hope rainbow and all the others: don’t mistake this as me discouraging you from reading and finding out more. What you’re doing is great! It is helpful to share information, discuss with each other and understand. That’s what the forum is for! Glad to see a return to these discussions and not small squabbles

pgdharma

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2010, 08:27:04 AM »


As HoneyDakini pointed out, many DS practitioners continue to worship Him discreetly and secretly. This will enable them to maintain their respect for HH the Dalai Lama AND keep their samaya to their Guru who bestowed the practice of Dorje Shugden upon them. I believe that HH the Dalai Lama has the clairvoyance to know that there are DS practitioners who are still practicing in secret. By not exposing them, HH is indirectly permitting them to do so. Therefore, as mentioned several times in other threads, this ban could be a tool to spread the worship of Dorje Shugden more efficiently.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has taken upon himself the great responsibility of trying to guide the Tibetan people in exile both materially and spiritually. If he is not successful in gaining independence for Tibet, the teachings will really be in danger of getting lost, because many of the highly realized lamas are now quite elderly and will soon pass away.1 If His Holiness is successful, the Dharma may again spread throughout Tibet, which will also be of great benefit to the rest of the world. The redevelopment and preservation of the Dharma in Tibet is of enormous importance, so please pray that all of His Holiness’s holy wishes will be fulfilled.
www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=461

Could the ban be a tool (through HH compassion and using skilful methods) for Dorje Shugden practice to benefit Tibet and the rest of the world? Dorje Shugden is now well known and popular despite the ban.

Dolce Vita

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2012, 02:57:03 AM »
Lama Zopa has emphasized the importance of Guru Devotion, he said if the practice has been passed down from the Guru, the student should follow. For a student to progress and gain enlightenment, guru devotion is very important. He even used refer to Lamrim with regards to this point.

On the other hand, he also advised us to be respectful to HHDL, that HHDL is Chenrezig. In a way, Lama Zopa was saying our Guru's instruction prevails all.

Ensapa

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2012, 03:15:01 AM »
[quote author=hope rainbow link=topic=862.msg9952#msg9952 date=1280554842
Question :
I could not find here Lama Zopa explaining how Dorje Shugden is a spirit or a demon, he did not even mention it. Is there other teachings in which he is explaining more on this aspect of the “controversy”? If you know, please share with me.
Not only does he not mention or say about that, he even told his students not to criticize or judge and saying directly that if they do, they will incur heavy negative karma. And its so funny that the students still dont get the hint.

Question :
Lama Zopa : “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.”
(end of quote)
My question:
If one’s guru has given the practice of Dorje Shugden to his disciple, then that guru has passed away, and the disciple is told by a qualified Teacher to stop the practice of Dorje Shugden, then how does he reconcile this cessation and not giving up his guru?
Again, does anyone notice he only mentioned teachers and not students/practitioners of Dorje Shugden? What kind of students puts words into their teachers' mouths? how extremely sad to see this happening!My lama had said another teacher cannot override your own teacher's instructions, irregardless of the power and rank of the 'new' teacher. Would you change your family name because your parents pass away? If not why change teachers and 'invalidate' 'old' practice?

[/quote]

comments in blue

Mana

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2012, 11:42:19 PM »
That is right, Lama Zopa never criticizes that Dorje Shugden is bad or evil or is a demon, the most he said is don't practise it and don't invite teachers who is practising it. Lama Zopa knows well who Dorje Shugden is and is trying his best to compromise the situation, because on one hand is the protector who recognized him, and on the other hand is HH the Dalai Lama.

Therefore there are signboards and forms in FPMT centers stating that "people who practise Dorje Shugden ar not allowed to join/enter", which is in accrodance with the Dalai Lama's "advice", but the students took one step further to demonize Dorje Shugden, which their gurus never did and will never approve of.

Since Dorje Shugden is the one who recognized Lama Zopa, so by criticizing and demonizing Dorje Shugden, the students of FPMT actually nullify the validity of their own guru, it is a very simple logic, but they continue to do so, which shows clearly their had no guru devotion, and they are not in FPMT for spiritual practice.

vajrastorm

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Re: Lama Zopa's talk on the practice of Dorje Shugden
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2012, 09:35:57 AM »
Yes, I agree that Lama Zopa is being skillful here. He avoids criticizing Dorje Shugden directly as a demon. He merely says that not practicing Dorje Shugden is in keeping with the advice and instructions of the Dalai Lama. He further says that following the Dalai Lama's instructions was so as to "avoid problems in the future". Very vague words indeed.

However, Lama Zopa is adamant about not criticizing or giving up Gurus (one has made Dharma connection with) for their Shugden practice.

I like what HR says about the results (or aftermath) of the ban being consistent with what His Holiness said about why he stopped practicing Shugden and advised others to do the same: "His Holiness came to the conclusion that for the benefit of individual people as well as the world in general, he would stop practicing Dorje Shugden and advised others to do so too".

The results of the ban are: (1) that Dorje Shugden is very well-known and popular; and(2) the Dharma of Je Tsongkapa (as taught to the Dalai Lama by His great teachers, like Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche), the Dharma for which Dorje Shugden arose as a Protector to preserve and spread, is being spread all over the world by the Dalai Lama. , to the benefit of all.

So the results are very consistent with the purpose of the Dalai Lama not practicing Shugden and asking others not to practice Him.