What is Lobsang Sangyal’s stand regarding Dorje Shugden devotees in a secular context?

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you to bring your attention to a particular issue related to the Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Dr. Lobsang Sangay, who is also an alumni and Fulbright Scholar of Harvard Law School (LL.M. ’96 S.J.D. ’04). The CTA is the governing body of the Tibetans currently living in exile in India.

Before His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama relinquished his secular power to the CTA in 2011, he had imposed a ban on a Tibetan Buddhist deity called Dorje Shugden, who is worshipped by over 4 million Tibetans in both monastic and lay communities. (www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden/his-holiness-advice)

The ban on Dorje Shugden has resulted in deep cracks within the Tibetan lay and monastic communities. The damage has even extended to non-Tibetans all over the world who are followers of the Tibetan Buddhist religion and practices.

The ban on Dorje Shugden has created far-reaching damages: monasteries have been divided, monks have been separated from their community, ostracized and even violently beaten, highly-respected Buddhist teachers and abbots suffer their houses being stoned, monks and lay practitioners of Dorje Shugden are banned from visiting shops, hospitals, public gatherings, social festivals etc. Children are banned from attending Tibetan schools, families have been separated… to mention only a few of these heart-wrenching cases. In short, the Tibetan community are not allowed to associate with Dorje Shugden practitioners – monks or laypeople – in both spiritual and secular spheres. The situation is just like that of the Apartheid. (dorjeshugden.com/?p=285)

The frustrations caused by the ban have even pushed some practitioners, especially in the West, to go onto the streets to protest against this ban, imposed by the Dalai Lama and upheld by the CTA. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM7kY3mzKfk)

The Dalai Lama has since relinquished his political leadership in the CTA in March 2011, and been succeeded by Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the new Prime Minister. The Dalai Lama is now exclusively a religious figure, a spiritual teacher and an ordained monk; Dr. Lobsang Sangay remains a purely secular leader and a lay person.

Why the Dalai Lama banned the practice of Dorje Shugden is not an issue here. In this democratic, free world, anyone can believe in and practice any god or deity they wish. If a religious head wants to ban a particular practice, it is his prerogative to do so but it remains a purely religious issue. The reason the Dorje Shugden issue affected both religious and secular spheres of the Tibetan community is because the Dalai Lama used to hold both religious and secular power simultaneously. It is therefore understandable that the ban consequently impacted both the religious and secular activities and wellbeing of the people.

But things have changed now, monumentally.

This is a question we would like to now pose to Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the current Prime Minister of the Tibetan people: Under his leadership, where he is not a religious figure, a spiritual teacher or a monk, what is the CTA’s stand and policy regarding Dorje Shugden devotees in a secular context? As strange as it may sound, Dorje Shugden practitioners are currently still forbidden from attending any of the Dalai Lama’s talks or religious ceremonies. This is within the spiritual sphere of the Tibetan community. However, we want to know if Tibetans can now interact with and engage in discussion with their new secular leader, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, regardless of their religious beliefs?

When the power shifted from the Dalai Lama to Dr. Lobsang Sangay, this issue was not addressed clearly, so many people are still left in the lurch. Thousands of these practitioners are now asking: Is the ban lifted within the secular aspects of their daily life? Are Dorje Shugden practitioners allowed to visit shops, schools and hospitals etc. which are clearly a part of secular living but were previously out of bounds to them during the Dalai Lama’s rule? Are they allowed to associate with the general public now in secular activites, such as public meetings, gatherings, social events, festivals etc.? (dorjeshugden.com/?p=9694)

We would really like to hear from Dr. Lobsang Sangay clearly, without any ambiguity, about the CTA’s position in this issue, because the ban has long had a negative impact on thousands of people’s lives. They deserve to know from their own government, once and for all, if their plight can be alleviated.

Thank you,
Practitioners of Dorje Shugden

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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