By giving up Dolgyal, how can one practise properly?

[Note: this is not an excerpt from any of His Holiness’ talks on Dolgyal]

After collating all these details on Dolgyal, perhaps some may wonders if there is any possibility of getting out of this mess and start practising properly. Being in the midst of Dolgyal practitioners and having received many teachings from them, some people might feel that it is best to stay connected to them. However, others may wonder if there is any possibility of being in their midst, but staying away from Dolgyal’s practice and their continued denunciation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Many of them justify everything they do in the name of their allegiance to Dolgyal. However, is it really virtuous? What really defines virtue and sin is crucial. Anything done with anger, attachment [even for one’s own religion or Lama] and out of ignorance that brings harm on others and oneself is definitely a sin. When Lamrim speaks of our commitments to spiritual masters, it speaks in terms of the connection between a qualified master and a qualified student. How qualified are these contemporary proponents of Dolgyal who have fallen out with His Holiness? Probably none of their senior Tibetan members can claim of having no spiritual connection with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Kelsang Gyatso who calls himself a Geshe, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gangchen Rinpoche, Lama Michel, the fake Kundeling, the fake Serkong Tritrul, Yonggya Rinpoche, Dragom Rinpoche, Dranak Rinpoche, Trisur Lunrig Namgyal [The former Gaden Tripa], Nga Lama, Tsem Tulku and so forth, name any of them: All of them had received teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and had been associated with the Tibetan society until they found their position elsewhere. But now, they seem to give an impression that they had not been treated well, although the fact is that they had betrayed their own people and nation for money and the short-term euphoria that it provides, forgetting all the values and practices they had been taught. When the rest of the Tibetans find it so difficult to visit their loved ones in Tibet, these Shugden practitioners can go to Tibet anytime. Why? Isn’t this enough to prove that they have fully submitted themselves to the Chinese, and turned a blind eye to the fact that their own country is occupied by the PRC?

It is a pity that even these traitorous people could find their array of followers. How can they truly benefit others when they have deserted their own people and their own Lamas, and instead collaborated with the PRC? The world knows that 1.2 million Tibetans died as a direct result of the Chinese occupation that started in 1949. More than six thousand monasteries were destroyed. For a Tibetan, Tibetans who collaborate with and seek refuge in this communist regime and desert their own people and leader — whose kindness, spiritually and physically, while they were in the Tibetan society were so easily forgotten — can only be traitors. Forgetting their Tibetan identity may not be that bad, but turning against their own people and leader for their mundane selfish interest while pretending as if they are Buddhists and as if they are doing everything in the name of religion is condemnable. This is because the propitiation of a perfidious spirit can never be considered as religious in Buddhism. If they claimed of pioneering a new religion with a name such as Dolgyalism or Shugdenism, it would be a different matter. But so long as they continue to claim to be Buddhists, corrupting the very foundation of Buddhism by their portrayal of the worship of a devilish spirit as an essential part of Buddhism will never be tolerated by those who know and practise Buddhism properly. Whatever they say or might do, the fact still remains that Dolgyal has remained controversial; historically, there were a greater number of realised Lamas who recognised Dolgyal as an evil spirit than those who recognised him as a genuine Dharma protector.

Having considered all pros and cons, if someone who is rational, but sincere, wants to quit Dolgyal, the question that arises, is how can I do this without forsaking my teachers who are Dolgyal practitioners?

One of the qualities that define a good student as taught in Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim [see Tsongkhapa’s Steps of Graduated Path to Enlightenment] is that a student should be able to discard the improper and embrace the proper instruction. As we have teachers who could also be ordinary beings, it is inevitable that they make mistakes sometimes. However, the path to enlightenment that we all follow is something that was taught by Buddha Shakyamuni, and our teachers are only trying to teach us what was taught by the Buddha. So long as you are speaking of Buddhism and of being a Buddhist, we are talking about the teachings of the Buddha, and not about some practices which not only have no origin in the Buddha’s teachings but sharply go against them. Therefore, any inconsistency on the part of the teacher should not be used against her/him, and without any disrespect for him/her, one still needs to practise by using the wisdom to discern between the proper and improper. Any shortcoming on the part of those who you might have accepted as your teachers should not become the reason for you to lose respect for them. Thus, by mentally maintaining all due respect, one can still move on with the practice. While keeping a sense of gratitude for the good things that you have learnt from them, you can still distance yourself physically from them. For others who are not your teachers, you can always maintain a compassionate attitude. Thus, as the world is wide and opportunities are varied, you will find some truly remarkable masters elsewhere. No authentic Buddhist scripture will restrict you from seeking other masters. If you look into the biography of Tsongkhapa, you will find that on the advice of his teacher Choeje Dhondrup Rinchen, he went all the way from Eastern Tibet to Central Tibet, leaving behind his teachers there. In Central Tibet, he sought teachings from many masters. The legacy of Tsongkhapa is something that all Gelukpas should try to follow, and anything that deviates us from following his example is definitely an obstacle.