Are they Buddhists? PART II

Centres running on their concocted version of the Buddha’s teachings naively  believe in their promotion of the status of an ordinary controversial spirit to the height of a trans-worldly protector or a tantric deity. Despite all these, the fact that people in their centres still venerate those Shugden lamas only speaks of the extent of their deception and people’s naivety in blindly believing in the claims of someone they trust, without ever questioning the validity of such claims. However, those who have the wisdom to doubt the credibility of their claims may look into the historical evidence presented here on this website and then decide on their own. Those who are hesitant of breaking any religious commitments to them should not have this fear as you have not received any genuine vows or empowerments from them; therefore, you are not bound by any commitments. However, by maintaining a sense of gratitude for whatever good things that you might have learned from them, there is nothing wrong in moving on. By keeping a reasonable distance from them and their cultish tradition, there is every virtue in starting everything afresh as a new Buddhist under the guidance of a genuinely qualified master. Failing to achieve enlightenment after six years of practising austerity with his five friends, even Buddha Shakyamuni left them to pursue a path to enlightenment that is devoid of any extreme, and got enlightened.

The sources for the claims of Shugdenists are only available in the works of masters such as Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche [1878-1941], Dhakpo Kelsang Khedrup, Sokpo Tamding and so forth, who all appeared in the beginning of 20th century. The Great 5th Dalai Lama [1617-1682], who was a contemporary of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen [1619-1656], explicitly mentions in many of his writings, over and again, that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was born as an evil spirit out of distorted prayers. Trichen Ngawang Chokden [1677-1751], Phurchok Ngawang Jampa [1682-1762] Changkya Rolpai Dorji [1717-1782], and Thuwuken Chokyi Nyima [1737-1802] and Yongzin Kachen Yeshi Gyaltsten [1713-1793] were some of the greatest Geluk masters after Tsongkhapa and his chief disciples. All of them declared Shugden as an evil spirit.

Although people’s excitement and enthusiasm in embracing Buddhism are triggered by the international fame and recognition of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, some limited number of people, who have been silently relying on the His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s influence and contribution to the image of Buddhism to boost their Dharma businesses, have turned against him: this is because His Holiness has been sincerely warning people of the risks associated with the propitiation of a controversial spirit. As His Holiness’ advice does not confirm with the position of Tsem Tulku and others of his type, their aggressive clinging to Dolgyal and fall out with the Dalai Lama have definitely brought damage to their image. What His Holiness, did with a sincere motivation, was to help many naïve ones from falling prey to the lure of an evil spirit, and what Shugden fanatics did by retaliating against His Holiness with false accusations was only to save their face and belief in a controversial spirit. China, that only seeks to destroy Tibet’s rich culture, saw a political opportunity that can be exploited in her favour and decided to use the Shugden fanatics against the Dalai Lama. In their foolish pursuit of a spirit’s practice, Shugden fanatics, who claim to be Buddhists practising the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism, blindly chose to embrace her, only to abandon their bigger goal of preserving and promoting the genuine Tibetan tradition of Buddhism. The result is that they are now avoided by all the followers of the Dalai Lama. Thus, in an attempt to save their face and show their disappointments while forgetting their own mistake of naively and blindly following wrong teachers and embracing the wrong ally, they have done everything that they could against Holiness the Dalai Lama: accusing him of religious persecution, calling him a fake Dalai Lama, and accusing His Holiness and CTA of ostracising the Shugden practitioners.

While those in China and Tibet are unquestionably beyond the reach of the Dalai Lama to deprive them of religious freedom, NKT centres and other Shugden centres around the world have every liberty of following their Buddha Shugden. Shugden fanatics in India and Nepal have their own separate monasteries to continue their beloved tradition of Shugdenism and His Holiness the Dalai Lama has never interfered in their private affairs. Around the globe, all religious leaders warn their followers of the risks and benefits associated with different practices within their own tradition. If simply speaking on the pros and cons of a particular practice to those who look for guidance within one’s own tradition is a deprivation of religious freedom, then no religious leader on this Earth is free from such an allegation. As His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is unquestionably the Supreme Spiritual Leader of the Tibetans, he  has every right to give his advice to those who look up to him for guidance. If his advice on Shugden does not confirm with the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, then the Shugden fanatics have a very strong point to argue with the Dalai Lama. Apart from that, there never was any religious persecution from the side of His Holiness the Dalai Lama against which they could truthfully pursue their campaign.

As on whether the present Dalai Lama is fake or not, none of those questioning his authenticity as the Dalai Lama have any religious attainment to question the credibility of the present Dalai Lama, especially with regards to the question of him sharing the same mental continuum with the past Dalai Lamas. Practically speaking, whether His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama is the real Dalai Lama for them or not is not our concern, but the acceptance of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as the real Dalai Lama is within the hearts of all genuine Tibetans, and that’s what really matters to us. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was recognised by the 13th Dalai Lama and Nechung as the reincarnation of his predecessor. The Nechung oracle that recognised Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as the reincarnation of his predecessor was the one who gave warnings about Dolgyal to His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. At the time when the previous oracle of Nechung gave the same warnings to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, both Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Ling Rinpoche were still alive, but none of them ever questioned the reliability of the Nechung oracle. Apart from the oracle or medium, if Nechung as a protector is to be considered unreliable, then how do you defend the history of Dolgyal as found in Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s ‘Commentary to Shugden’s Eulogy’? In the commentary, Shugden’s history starts with Nechung requesting Panchen Sonam Dakpa to arise as a Dharma protector to protect the doctrine of Tsongkhapa. In there, it further states that Nechung reminded Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen of his pledge to arise as a Dharma protector after the untimely death of the tulku. Read his work to confirm this and his autobiography to confirm who was behind the recognition of Kaybje Trijang Rinpoche as the reincarnation of his predecessor.

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche first served as a debate-assistant and later as the junior tutor to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. In truth, His Holiness is the chief disciple of Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, and presently the custodian of all their teachings. Any means of repudiating their closest and principal representative can never be an act of allegiance to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, but an act that would only disgrace him; this is because by calling this Dalai Lama a fake Dalai Lama, they are inadvertently accepting that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had served a false Dalai Lama for almost more than half of his life! If this was the case, how would this reflect on Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s legacy? Although Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was truly a great lama, if he was not associated with the 14th Dalai Lama, where would his prestige in the Tibetan society be today? If Ling Rinpoche and Trijang did not become tutors to the Dalai Lama, would the legacy of Kyabje Phabongkha, who was one of their principle lamas, be the same in the minds of the Tibetans?

Despite its unpleasantness to the ears of Shugdenists, they must be reminded of this that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s auto-biography relates how Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche had advised him to serve the present Dalai Lama, and how Phabongkha Rinpoche had prophesied that the present Dalai Lama’s activities would be more extensive than that of the 7th Dalai Lama. The autobiography also speaks about Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s great joy in seeing the Avalokiteshvara for real when the young 14th Dalai Lama newly arrived in Lhasa from Amdo, following his recognition as the authentic reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. How would Shugdenpas repudiate those points in Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s autobiography written by himself in his own words?

Although Shugden fanatics have been blubbering around that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has imposed a ban on the practice of Dolgyal/Shugden, His Holiness has time and again reiterated the following in his talks:

‘Basically, it is entirely up to the individual to practise religion or not, and or to practise any kind of religion. However, if you are someone who practises Dolgyal/Shugden, you should not come to receive teachings or vows from me.’

His Holiness has never forced anyone to give up propitiating Dolgyal. Based on his years of thorough investigations and experiences, he has been giving his reasons why propitiating Dolgyal is harmful to both individuals and communities, temporarily and in the long run. This warning comes from his responsibility as the Supreme Religious Leader of the Tibetans who place their utmost trust and faith in him. In some way, his advice is similar to the statutory warning that you see on the cigarette which warns people of the risks associated with smoking. Due to the health risks associated with smoking, it is restricted in some private and public places such as schools, offices, restaurants etc. However, whether to smoke or not is an individual choice. The same can be said for the advice of His Holiness against Shugden/Dolgyal. His Holiness has advised monasteries such as Sera, Drepung, Gaden, and others — who all pledge their loyalty to him and run under his patronage and blessing — against the practice of Dolgyal; this is similar to Tsem Tulku or Kelsang Gyatso advising their students in their centres.

When Sera, Drepung, Gaden and all monasteries and nunneries that function under the patronage and blessing of His Holiness decided to follow His Holiness, it became difficult for those who turned a blind eye to his advice to remain with the rest. As their personal practice of Shugden was not in line with the position and the rule — deduced from successive resolutions — upheld by all the Tibetan monasteries and nunneries, Shugden practitioners were left with two choices: to abandon Shugden and live in their former monastery, or to abandon the monastery and practise Shugden elsewhere. Some decided to abandon Shugden to live in their monastery while others decided to practise Shugden and formed their own separate monastery by taking their share of land and wealth with them. This happened in 2008. All settlements between the two sides were carried out peacefully and Shugden fanatics now have their own separate monasteries within the Tibetan settlements, just a few steps away from their former monasteries. Where is there any religious persecution?

Six million Tibetans inside Tibet continue to suffer religious persecution and millions of Buddhists in China have limited religious freedom. If Shugden fanatics truly want to show solidarity and speak out against religious suppression, then who has blocked their mouth from speaking against China’s persecution of religious freedom in Tibet?

China had publicly vilified the late Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche with all kinds of abuses; the 10th Panchen Lama was publicly humiliated and imprisoned for speaking his thoughts for his country and its culture, and finally poisoned to death; thousands of monks and nuns were forcefully disrobed; more than 6000 monasteries were destroyed and 1.2 million Tibetans died as a direct result of China’s occupation of Tibet. Far from voicing their disappointments against China, Shugden fanatics have openly addressed her as the Great Dragon and flaunted the support of China in their ‘Tibetan Public Talk’ series. Generally, no society is free of any fault and the same applies to the Tibetan society. Although they pretend as if they care for the Tibetans, Shugden fanatics have tried every means to befriend and collaborate with almost all individuals and groups that have drifted away from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and CTA that truly represent the people of Tibet. By truthfully looking at all that they do in the name of defending the practice of a controversial spirit whose practice they have every freedom to conduct, do they really look sincere in their approach as religious practitioners, or are they hordes of lunatics and bigots?    

For many such reasons, all those who chose to follow His Holiness made their pledge in front of the three jewels to never associate with those who have shown their back on His Holiness. True to their own pledge that they made in front of the three jewels, monasteries, nunneries and others who are devoted to His Holiness and his stance on Dolgyal decided to inform all Shugden practitioners that they no longer wish to socially and religiously associate with them. As a result, people started sticking warnings in their shops, restaurants, monasteries and other places to express their unwillingness to involve Shugden practitioners in their social and spiritual life. This movement came from people’s initiative and not by any official endorsement. From a legal perspective, it amounts to exercising their own rules in their own places and accessing control over their private property. For a refuge community that has faced numerous difficulties in staying united while gearing for their common goal of returning back to their own land one day, this act of avoiding impediments is not any racial or religious segregation, but simply an act of patriotism to stay united under His Holiness and show their support for their beloved leader. It is a public movement to show on whose side they are and also to fend themselves from China’s infiltration [supporting the Shugden fanatics in their campaign against His Holiness].

There are monasteries such as Shar Gaden and Serpom in South India, Dungkar Gonpa in Darjeeling, NKT centres and others that all freely conduct the practice of Dolgyal. Nobody has entered any of their monasteries or Dharma centres to impose any ban on their practice of Dolgyal. From their part, if Shugden fanatics were to restrict anyone who does not practise the spirit from entering any of their centres or receiving teachings from their teachers, it is within their right and they have every freedom of imposing such restrictions. Not one from those on the Dalai Lama’s followers would ever complain. Although their adamant clinging to the practice of Shugden, followed by their aggressive and vociferous protests against His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the reason for finding themselves shunned away by the vast majority of Buddhists who follow the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism, they now accuse His Holiness of ostracising them. Instead of looking for reasons within themselves for their seclusion and rejection by the vast majority of Buddhists in the world of Tibetan Buddhism and working to rebuild their own failures, like spoilt and troublesome children who, without acknowledging their own faults, continuously create nuisances, these Shugden fanatics only bluff around hoping to find some sympathy for their own stupidity.

Although Shugden fanatics accuse His Holiness of repudiating Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness’ deed of refining the Dharma, particularly the tradition of Tsongkhapa, in order to retain its purity — by opposing the worship of Dolgyal who was declared by the Great 5th Dalai Lama and many past eminent masters as an evil spirit — and advising his own followers about the risks associated with the practice of Shugden, cannot be considered as going against Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. When refining and retaining the pure form of Buddhism in Tibet, even Tsongkhapa had questioned the validity of many customary practices in Tibet, and opposed the views on emptiness as held by many of his direct and indirect masters. If even Buddha Shakyamuni had given his permission to question and examine the validity of his own teachings, how does this not apply to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s teachings on Dolgyal? Did Tsongkhapa also repudiate his own masters by writing against their view of emptiness and establishing the proper view of emptiness as interpreted and refined by Arya Nagarjuna? Or did Atisha repudiate his own master Dharmamati Survarnadvipa by rejecting the Chittamatra view of emptiness as held by the latter?

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was recognised by the 13th Dalai Lama and Nechung as the true reincarnation of his predecessor. The 13th Dalai Lama was also a lama for both Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche. The 13th Dalai Lama was opposed to Kyabje Phabongkha’s propagation of Shugden and had advised him against the practice. For deviating from the advice of the 13th Dalai Lama, should we also consider these two masters as having turned against their own master? His Holiness has the utmost respect for Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and so did Tsongkhapa for his masters. However, if something that is in line with the teachings of the Buddha might appear as inconsistent with the advice of a particular master, it is our tradition in Buddhism to stick to the mainstream of Buddhism and abandon the particular advice which is inconsistent with the mainstream. This is exactly what Tsongkhapa and His Holiness did. Genuine Buddhist practitioners know how to practise devotion towards a master even if he/she does not agree with a portion of his/her master’s teachings. Whenever a greater need arises, it is the tradition of past masters to challenge even the views of their own masters, if such views are inconsistent with the genuine teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. Sadly, those whose knowledge and experience in Dharma are limited or crooked tend to credit their doubts and confusion, instead of trying to search for a formidable answer. This is exactly what Shugden fanatics are doing now.

The International Shugden Community have decided to stop their public protests against His Holiness the Dalai Lama from 1st December 2015 and on 26th February 2016, they have made an announcement that the International Shugden Community itself will dissolve, including its websites from 10th March, 2016, which was a good news for all of us. However, so long as there are people who want to know the other side of the story about Dolgyal, we will continue our clarifications but will not intrude into the private affairs of others such as NKT — who are outside our own Tibetan community — for believing in the other side of the story if they follow their own path without attacking His Holiness the Dalai Lama and our community. What they do in their centres is their business and how we manage things is more of our concern than theirs. However, since every Tibetan has the responsibility of preserving, enriching and safeguarding the pure form of the Nalanda tradition that thrives in our society, we will continue to provide our clarifications against public misrepresentations and exploitations of our genuine tradition, irrespective of whether such misrepresentations or exploitations come from inside or out. Let them tell their story and we will provide our evidence. People then can choose at their will.

Although has dissolved as per their announcement made on 26th February, 2016, is still an active filthy mouthpiece that only disseminates rumours, abuses, and all despicable hearsays aimed against His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community. There are other pro-Shugden websites that also speak their side of the story. Therefore, people who read pieces in them should also study our side of the story. After that, if they still want to plunge downward, nobody will stop them.


The Editor
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