Clouds of offerings to please the supreme lama

[An analysis on how to follow a spiritual master properly and a response to Shugdenpa’s accusation that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has breached his spiritual commitment to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche]

Omniscience, affection, and power of infinite Buddhas have all combined together
To perfectly arise as the refuge of the Dharma and beings, the pristine field of merit for the Land of Snow.
You are the Dharma Lord, the only eye of the universe who has mastered the infinity of Dharmas in their entirety.
By sitting eternally on the indestructible Vajra Throne, may you nurture us all.

I have pledged in front of the Three Jewels to never indulge in Dharmic and materialistic activities
With those who have disgraced their religious commitments; and although my commitments are extremely firm,
I am loaded with the responsibility of challenging adversaries who pose as threats to the Dharma.
As it serves a greater purpose, kindly grant me your permission so that I could combat their irreligious and perverted talks

By setting forth my own valid modes of reasoning that confirm with true religion.

For quite a while, there has been mounting criticisms by some western and Tibetan Shugden fanatics against His Holiness the Dalai Lama. With no idea about authentic Buddhism and the Nalanda tradition of Buddhism — in which the religious approach is based on critical analysis, and not on mere words of masters as the ultimate authority — bereft of this skilful means, they persevere in every means to accuse His Holiness of breaching the sanctity of his religious commitments to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. This accusation has only surfaced because of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s strong opposition to Shugden with whose practice Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was connected. Here, I would like to examine critically by using scriptural sources and valid modes of reasoning, and dismantle their accusations while remaining consistent with the authentic Dharma. Here, I would like to outline my response into three sections.

1. General presentation of Buddhist approach
2. The actual response
3. Conclusion and request to observe caution General presentation of Buddhist approach:

Generally speaking, although there are different kinds of Lamas, some as ordinary and others exalted, on the part of the student it is important to respect all of them by viewing them as Buddhas and relate to them with the same attitude. However, when doing this, it is the general approach of a genuine Buddhist student to investigate the words of his Lamas thoroughly before engaging in their advice. Let alone your lamas, but when it matters, even the words of the Buddha should be thoroughly investigated. This is because the Buddha’s teachings consist of different kinds that were given to different individuals to suit their different mental dispositions and inclinations. Therefore, when engaging in the teachings of the Buddha and your Lamas, it is extremely important to engage in them through thorough investigation. On the contrary, embracing them due to one’s attachment and faith that are only tainted by ignorance is not the proper approach of a genuine Buddhist practitioner. In the Shri Mahabaaltantraraja, the Buddha states thus [Gyud Gha, page 216, Derge publication སྟོབས་པོ་ཆེའི་རྒྱུད། སྡེ་དགེ་བཀའ་འགྱུར། རྒྱུད། ༢༡༦ ]:

‘Oh bhikshus and scholars,
Just as gold is burnt, sliced, and abraded [to retain its purity],
You should also investigate my teachings thoroughly.
These are to be embraced [by you], and not for respect [to me]’

The Buddha’s teachings consist of many kinds since they were taught to suit the intellectual rigours of different individuals. Thus, a teaching that prioritises a particular need of an individual may not literally be consistent with that which prioritises the mainstream practice of Buddhism. That this is so is not because of the ignorance of the Buddha, but because of the Buddha’s skillful means in taming beings of varied mental dispositions and inclinations. However, many who do not know this fact seem to blame the Buddha for inconsistency where as the real contradiction stems from one’s ignorance of the true versatility of Buddhism. In the beginning of the 12th chapter of Arya Deva’s Four Hundred Verses, it says thus:

‘Worldly beings who are totally bewildered
Consider the inconsistencies as the Buddha’s faults.’

As the teachings of the Buddha have interpretable as well as definitive meanings, and just as we need to engage with them by using critical discernment, the same thing can be said for the teachings of our teachers. Taking all their teachings literally without examining may land oneself into extremes. As such, it is very crucial for us to be consistent with the mainstream of Buddhism. Thus, so long as you consider yourself a Buddhist, your approach to the practice of Dharma [religion] must be consistent with the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. Any effort to modify the teachings of the Buddha — by pioneering any practice with no source in any of the Sutras or Tantras, or that contradicts with the authentic approach of Buddhism — amounts to corrupting and exploiting the impeccable teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. In Maitreya’s Sublime Continuum, it says thus:

‘As there is none who is more learned than the Buddha in this universe,
No one knows the ultimate truths more precisely as they are known by the Omniscient One.
Therefore, do not corrupt the Sutras that were presented by the sage himself —
Exploiting the tradition of the Buddha only amounts to causing damage to his teachings.’

In the Selected Works of Kadampa Masters, the incomparable Atisha, the founder of the Kadampa tradition, is quoted as saying thus:

‘When we had important or urgent matters to decide, the custodians of the Tripakas [the three sets of teachings] would assemble together and investigate if there were any restrictions prescribed in any of the three sets of teachings or not, or if there were any contradictions with the teachings of either of the three baskets. Thus, through such ascertainments, we would decide on them.’

Atisha also said this in the same text:

‘As I do not have much access to Sutras in Tibet, my faith in Dharma seems to falter.’

When giving his last piece of advice to his principle student Dromtonpa, Atisha said thus:

‘Henceforth, there is no need for you to receive teachings from those Indian masters who come here lured by gold. They would teach by corrupting the teachings of authentic Tantra. Therefore, you should rely on the scriptures of Sutras and Tantras as your spiritual master.’

In this text, it also says thus:

“When Dromtonpa was about to pass away, and as he was lying down on the lap of his student Potowa, Potowa’s silent tears fell on Dromtompa clothes. Drontompa then told him thus: ‘From now onwards, I do not have any specific direction for you with regards to which spiritual master to seek teachings from. Read the Sutras and Tantras. Rely on them as your master”.

The text further states thus:

“When someone asked Dromtonpa what would be the demarcation between religious and non-religious teachings, he replied thus: ‘Anything that is consistent with the scriptures [of Sutra and Tantra] is religion. If they do not confirm with them, then they are not religion.”

Thus, thinking along these lines, it is important for your practices to conform with the true legacy of the Kadampa masters; it is not sufficient to simply claim oneself of being a Kadampa. Otherwise, you would become a Kadampa practitioner for name sake only. For all these reasons, without any origin in any of the authentic Sutras and Tantras of Buddha Shakyamuni’s direct teachings which were translated into and are still available in Tibetan, making tall claims that Dolgyal — who has been recognised by many past masters as a mundane spirit — is a Tantric deity, or the Dharma protector of Tsongkhapa’s tradition only contributes to the destruction of the Dharma. Therefore, here I would like to say thus:

As there is none among us Gelukpas in this universe more learned than Tsongkhapa himself,

No one else would understand the ultimate truths more precisely than Tsongkhapa himself.

Therefore, do not corrupt the tradition of the wisdom-eyed protectors as pioneered by the erudite Tsongkhapa himself.

Exploiting the impeccable tradition of the gentle saviour only amounts to damaging the doctrine of ‘the Buddha with an Excellent Mind’ [Tsongkhapa].

This is not all. By seeking refuge in them, be it Dolgyal or any other being that appears as an ordinary worldly spirit to our ordinary perception, you would naturally disqualify yourself as a Buddhist because of dual refuge-mind and would become a non-Buddhist, even if you have not forsaken your refuge with the Three Jewels. I will elaborate on this further in my other writings. Here, I would concentrate on challenging those who have accused His Holiness of breaking his religious commitments to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, an accusation that I will prove to be solely based on their bogus assumptions and distorted knowledge.

The actual response:

Generally, although there might be emanations of Buddhas among your own teachers, however, there is no entailment in this logic to assert that someone becomes a Budddha simply upon becoming your Lama. This is because among your teachers, there are some who may be ordinary and others who might also be supreme. Some find it difficult to believe in a real emanation of a Buddha as he appears ordinary while others find no difficulty in believing some sanctimonious beings as Buddhas because of their devious natures. If all of your Lamas are Buddhas, and if there is entailment in this logic that someone is a Buddha because he is a Lama, then those who want to get enlightened swiftly should do thus: Cultivate a few qualities that accord with the Dharma, and gather a few people to whom you could teach. Once you became their Lama or the moment they accepted you as their Lama, you have become enlightened. This inevitably implies that there is no need to ascend to the five stages of the path to enlightenment and that there are Buddhas who have not abandoned any of the coarse or subtle delusions. Thus, although not all of your Lamas need to be Buddhas, to view all of them as Buddhas is because of their kindness to you, and in order to create the best condition for you to receive the blessing of Buddhas. Most importantly, it is also to stop any form of deprecation that might arise in you if you viewed them as ordinary beings. Thus, past Buddhist masters used to say thus:

‘Develop a pure attitude towards the person, but examine his teachings properly.’

Hence, it is important that you should have this kind of attitude towards your practice, engaging in those which are genuinely proper and abandoning those that are flawed. It is important that your own devotion and faith in your Lama does not obscure your wisdom of discernment, while at the same time your wisdom of discernment should not become perverted as to destroy your faith and devotion in your Lamas. Thus, faith and wisdom should complement one another. On the contrary, if you were to follow your Lamas’ words only literally, consider this difficulty: Suppose one of your Lamas holds the view of Chittamatra [Mind Only School] while a second Lama follows the Prasangika Madhyamika view. The first Lama would teach you that all things exist independently, while your second Lama would teach that things do not exist independently at all, the complete opposite of the former view. A student who has received teachings from both of them cannot accept all phenomena as both independently existent and empty of independent existence as this is untenable with reality. Just as a being could either be a human or a non-human since there is no union of these two mutually exclusive realities in one entity, in the same way, things have to be either independent or not independent. So, if you held the view of one master, your position would contradict the position of the other, thereby, straining your commitments to him and vice versa. This approach of following masters would deprive us of a safe practice devoid of any inconsistency. Thus, if the wisdom of discernment has no place in his/her approach as a practitioner, how would a student save himself/herself from going against either of the teachers in such a situation? Therefore, just as we distinguish the teachings of the Buddha as interpretable and definitive, it is equally important to treat the teachings of your Lamas and follow them through proper discernment. The great Indian scholar Archarya Tho Tsondrup said thus:

‘I do not [instinctively] consider the Buddha to be superior,
Neither do I despise the Serkyas and others.
Whoever speaks that which is consistent with reality,
I will definitely consider him/her as my teacher.’

This is an important advice of someone who knew the unique quality of Buddhism — to believe in being completely scientific, rational and practical. Therefore, it is important to engage in all actions by using your intellectual scrutiny to discern; especially with regards to the practice of Dharma, it must be carried out, not by an instinctive inclination or a blind faith, but through a thorough analysis. Without a proper analysis, following something on a whim triggered by delusions only lengthen your stay in this vicious cycle of samsaric birth. In Tsongkhapa’s Praise of Dependent Link/Origination, he says thus:

‘In being diverted from your teachings,
However long might I strive,
Just as discrepancies would stack up with time,
The view grasping at [an eternal] self becomes even more consolidated.’

Hence, it is important for us not to indulge in practices that only prolong our sufferings in samsara [vicious cycle of births], instead of abandoning them.

The first Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedun Drupa, one of the chief disciples of Tsongkhapa, sang a supplication prayer to Tsongkhapa as he became overwhelmed on remembering Tsongkhapa’s compassion. In this poetic prayer The White Snow Mountain in the East, he says thus:

‘By gloating over false paths engaging in which they have become old,
To those who practise the teachings precisely,
They hold inflictive attitudes that are deeply troubling.
Have not the demonic spirits entered their mental streams?’

It also says thus:

‘Those friends who want to follow me,
With your minds free from the chains of biased extremes,
By reflection and close scrutiny with impartial attitudes,
By all means, it is best to follow a genuine path.’

This is a very important and practical piece of advice genuine spiritual aspirants should follow. Although the purpose of Buddhism is to eliminate our delusions within, if our approach to it becomes something that does not destablise our delusions, but only concretises it, and if our Dharma practice is tainted by our own delusions, there is nothing worse than that. It is similar to the water meant to fight fire catching fire itself. Thus, our past masters in general, and specifically the Buddha [in Sutra] and Arya Asanga [in Hearer’s Ground or Nyensa] have all taught us the following four modes of reliance:

Rely not on the person, but on his teachings; rely not on the words, but on the meanings; rely not on the interpretable meanings, but on the definitive ones; and rely not only the sensorial perceptions, but on the wisdom mind.

Thus, when practising Dharma, it is important that your practice is associated with the four modes of reliance and the four modes of examinations that would result in a firm conviction in the Buddha Dharma. Tsongkhapa says thus in his prayer Virtuous in the Beginning, in the Middle and in the End:

‘By applying the four modes of examination on whatever is heard,
And by analysing properly and stringently throughout days and nights,
By means of contemplative analysis on the crucial points to discern,
May the skilful mind that arises from such contemplative analysis
Thoroughly eradicate all doubts on the crucial points to be examined.’

Therefore, it is extremely important for us to examine whatever we have heard and then engage in them. We should not consider the scriptural teachings as the final authority without putting them to proper scrutiny. Tsongkhapa says thus in his work The Essence of Excellent Instructions on How to Properly Differentiate Between the Definitive and the Interpretable Meanings:

‘Ultimately, we have to distinguish them [the interpretable meanings from the definitive ones] only by means of untainted modes of reasoning because a speaker who accepts something that is not consistent with logic cannot be trusted as an infallible person.’  

As such, if things are not properly examined, there is a risk that your own assumptions might contradict with reality: Basically, we can’t rely solely on assumption. However, engaging with practices by putting them through intensive scrutiny only means that you are discovering the truths that truly confirm with reality without either exaggerating or rejecting their true nature. Thus, such a truthful approach to practice is the most appropriate one. The reason why we should ultimately distinguish by relying on untainted modes of reasoning is explained in the same text by Tsongkhapa:

‘Realities too, have their own reasons within themselves that are ascertainable through proper inferences.’

Thus, from the statements cited above, the words ‘ultimately’, ‘untainted modes of reasoning’, ‘only’, ‘realities too’, all carry great weight. The emphasis here is that when analysing reality, our modes of reasoning should not become perverted or tainted by our own attachment towards our views, or be gloomed by instinctive inclinations that are biased, rather they must be free of such stains. Only untainted modes of reasoning are reliable and others are not: In order to convey these words in brief, Tsongkhapa gave us the instructions cited above.

In the Song of Spiritual Experience by Tsongkhapa, it says thus:

‘So this wisdom decisively penetrating the true mode of being,
The learned ones saddle it astride the horse of unwavering calm abiding;
And with the sharp weapon of reasoning of the Middle Way, free of extremes,
They dismantle all locus of objectification of the mind grasping at extremes;

With such expansive wisdom that probes with precision,
The learned ones enhance the wisdom realising the suchness.
I, a yogi, have practised in this manner;
You, who aspire for liberation, should do likewise.’

Although Tsongkhapa speaks in connection with emptiness here, the wisdom that penetrates into the true mode of being, and the expansive wisdom that probes with precision are applicable to all kinds of practices. In order to investigate the true mode of being, we need an expansive wisdom that could be ready to accept realities, however hard it may be when doing so. Even when you have good wisdom to discern, there should be precision in your approach; this will result in a decisive understanding of the object to be embraced or abandoned.

So, when it comes to instructions that you have heard from your teachers, you have to see if these instructions accord with the mainstream of Buddhism as presented by Buddha Shakyamuni himself. If somehow a situation arises where you have to choose between a particular instruction of your master and the teaching of the Buddha that contradicts it, it is wrong to abandon the Buddha’s teaching for that particular instruction. Simply accepting an instruction of a particular Lama without any consideration of whether such an instruction is consistent with the Buddha’s teachings or not is totally wrong. In the Greater Treatise on the Graduated Steps of Path to Enlightenment, Tsongkhapa states thus:

‘Therefore, if it were a genuine instruction, it would have the power to bring conviction in the greater treatises. However, if such instructions, no matter how long you practise them, do not bring any conviction on the greater treatises of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings, or go against the greater treatises, they should only be abandoned.’

Tsongkhapa further reiterates thus:

‘Anyone who considers the greater treatises as useful only for teachings, thinking that there are instructions apart from them which show the quintessential points to practise — and acknowledging as if the sublime Dharma is divided into the Dharma for imparting mere knowledge through teachings and the Dharma to practice — would create great obstacles for himself in generating higher respect for the impeccable Sutras and Tantras, and their commentaries. Holding a view that these greater treatises do not speak of essential points — but were taught only to expand one’s knowledge on external objects — and thus treating them as objects to be snubbed, should be understood as only cultivating the [negative] karma of abandoning the Dharma.’

The text also says this:

‘Gaining confidence in the instruction does not mean developing conviction in a small text of a [hand] palm’s size, but by understanding all greater treatises as instructions.’

It further states thus:

‘If these greater treatises are not supreme instructions, then, who could find an instructor superior than the authors of these greater treatises? If these vast and profound Sutras and their commentaries are understood as instructions, then, the profound Tantras and their commentaries would also be easily understood as instructions; in this way, conviction in their being supreme instructions will easily arise within.’

Thus, Tsongkhapa also reiterates this point in his work Graduated Paths to Enlightenment in Tantrayana:

‘Therefore, those with wisdom and aspiration —
Train your eyes of wisdom by means of flawless modes of reasoning,
And seek confidence on the quintessential points of the Buddha Dharma
Such that you are totally free of any challenges from adversaries.’

Thus, it is very crucial for us to ensure that our own practices accord with such a remarkable advice. Without thorough analysis, there is no way we can tackle the different confusions within our minds simply by means of blessing. In the biography of Tsongkhapa as composed by his principle student Khedrup Gelek Pelsang titled The Tale that Covers the Remarkable Story of the Most Revered Lama Supreme Tsongkhapa in its Entirety Called the Gateway of Faiths, Khedrup Rinpoche quotes Tsongkhapa as saying thus:

‘Earlier, just like those in Tibet who are presently considered intelligent and endowed with the best scriptural understanding, whenever I looked into the Sutras and their commentaries, I was able to easily grasp their meaning without any effort, and when I taught them to others, I developed a profound understanding of them, bringing relief over and again. However, I do not consider such experiences as reliable because if I exposed them to extremely subtle and meticulous examinations, most of those meanings on which I seem to have had confidence would totally collapse. Therefore, until your examinations have not reached their pinnacle by applying the impeccable and subtle modes of reasoning, even if you made your decisions, you would be just blurting things out.’

Thus, if there are certain differences in your position which may not tally with your teacher’s position, this does not strain your commitments to your teacher. Straining of commitments occurs only when you despise your teacher or deprecate his teachings while knowing well that those were faultless. If simply failing to totally comply with an instruction of your teacher amounts to breaking your commitments to him, then even Atisha would have broken his commitments to his vajra masters since he himself had confessed of constantly acquiring transgression of Tantric vows that he had always purified without associating with them even for a day. On the contrary, Atisha is considered the father of Kadampa, and such a master of his calibre would have kept all his commitments to his teachers with the utmost care. Although Atisha held the Prasangika Madhyamika’s view which is inconsistent with the view of Chitamattra as held by Dharmamati Survarnadvipa, he never had even the slightest of disrespect for Dharmamati Survarnadvipa due to the latter’s view of emptiness which is inferior to the Prasangika Madyamika’s view of emptiness. On the contrary, although Atisha had many other masters, he had held Dharmamati Survarnadvipa as the supreme jewel of his crown and accorded him the respect of a master to be held in the highest esteem. This was because Atisha had received all the teachings pertaining to the ‘mind training instructions on Bodhichitta’ from Dharmamati Survarnadvipa. However, Atisha did not abandon his view of Madhyamika which was not consistent with Dharmamati Survarnadvipa’s view just because of the latter being his most important master. Maintaining his own view of emptiness did not strain his student-teacher relationship at all. This is because Chandrakirti, one of the top Nalanda masters and a student of Arya Nagarjuna, said thus in his work a commentary to Nagarjuna’s ‘Fundamental of Wisdom’ called ‘Engaging in the Middle’:

‘If it has been spoken in perfect harmony with reality,
There is no sin even if it damages others’ doctrines.’

Chandrakirti says this after logically challenging positions of the Chitamattra School. This shows that engaging in practices by means of thorough examinations is indeed the tradition of Buddhism in general, and particularly of those following the noble lineage of Nalanda.

In Haribadhra’s commentary to Maitreya’s Ambhisamaya Alamkara called Illuminating the Meaning, it says thus:

“Vasu Bandhu, one who is the root of wellbeing of sentient beings,
By relying on his own intuitive inclination,
Had emphatically interpreted phenomena
As being merely conceived internally.

The one who belongs to the assemblage of superior beings,
And known by the name of Vilmuktiksena,
As he saw this interpretation as invalid,
He interpreted it with his mind that abides in the middle.”

In this, it says that Arya Vilmuktiksena or Bhavaviveka had challenged his own teacher Arya Asanga’s interpretation of the Ornament of Clear Realisation and had said that Asanga was wrong in interpreting Maitreya’s text from the viewpoint of Chittamatra, reiterating that it actually should be interpreted as speaking from the Madhyamika viewpoint. However, can we say that Arya Vilmuktiksena had strained his commitments to Arya Asanga?

Hari Bhadra continues:

After that, Vilmuktiksesena,
Who abides on the ground of faith,
Failed to find the meaning of the text
And commented on it on his own accord.

Here, Hari Bhadra says that Vilmuktiksesena also did not understand the real meaning of the Ornament of Clear Realisation.

He further states:

‘Those which have been found by the scholar [Arya Vilmuktiksena]
But not understood by some others [such as Vasubandu, Vilmuktiksesena, and Asanga]
As I have acutely understood them in their entirety,
It is truly a wonderful thing to be amazed at.’

Hence, Hari Bhadra’s candid confession that he understood those meanings of Maitreya’s Ornament of Clear Realisation which others had failed to understand well was only a truthful revelation of a genuine scholar. Such a wise scholarly bhikshu would not lie about it. He wrote a commentary to the Ornament of Clear Realisation with his own interpretations although those were not the versions of his masters. However, we cannot say that he was wrong or that he had broken his commitments to his direct and lineage masters whose views were not consistent with his.

Bhavaviveka in his work Burning the Views of Bigots says thus:

“Now, I would like to write the fifth chapter that will establish the suchness [emptiness] in which yogis would engage. Others who were bewildered by their own pride of being scholars asserted thus:

‘The ways to indulge in the nectar of emptiness
Had been properly shown as being the Yogacharya System [Chitamattra]’.

The emptiness of the Mahayana tradition as perfectly understood by Arya Nagarjuna — who had been prophesied by the Tathagata [the Buddha] and had attained the Arya grounds — was interpreted differently by Mahayanan scholars such as Archarya Asanga, Vasubandu and others. Thus, [only] those with no shame and embarrassment in boasting as scholars, by pretending as if they knew things that they did not, would say this.”

Archarya Bhavaviveka challenged the versions of Arya Asanga, one of the pioneers of the ‘chariot’s tradition’ who had been prophesied by the Buddha himself, as well as those of Archarya Vasubandu, the expanse of whose knowledge acquired him the name, ‘the Second Omniscient One’. Since both of them are his lineage masters, by challenging their version of emptiness, had Archarya Bhavaviveka breached his commitments to them?

Howeer, in the practice of Buddhism, scriptural authorisation, when compared with logical reasoning, is not preferred as more authoritative.

In the same text, Bhavaviveka says thus:

‘Trying to establish the reality of suchness [emptiness] by following only scriptural sources that contradict with reasoning is untenable. For example, if a mother, in order to get some time off from her child so that she could find time for her cooking, gave a ball-shaped stone anointed with sweets to him saying that it was Ladu [a traditional Indian sweet], the child, thinking that his mother would never betray him, would bite the ball shaped stone [that appears like a Ladu] with all his strength so much so that even his teeth would break down. Similarly, just as some people would incorrectly take medicines that were prescribed by the king of all doctors, unable to properly understand those teachings of the Tathagatha that are interpretable and have [hidden] purposes, some others would rigidly cling on to them by their literal meaning, saying that these are the words spoken by the Buddha himself. Such people — who are like the child who tried to eat the Ladu like stone given by his mother — would only be objects of ridicule for scholars. Therefore, do not rely only on scriptural sources, but use logical modes of examination to ascertain realities.’

We must also examine the words of our teachers without blindly accepting them. This kind of practice of analysing even the words of one’s master is not without origin in the Buddha’s Sutras because Tsongkhapa says thus in the Graduated Steps of the Path to Enlightenment:

“If we have to properly abide by the words of our Lamas, while obediently following the Lama, if the Lama leads you on the wrong path, or asks you to perform activities that are against the three vows [Self Liberation, Bodhisattva and Tantric vows], must we do them or not? To this, the ‘Vinaya Sutra’ says thus:

‘If he speaks anything that goes against the Dharma, abandon them’.

Also, ‘The Clouds of the Three Jewel Sutra’ says thus:

‘If they are virtuous actions, abide by them properly. If they are non-virtuous, do the opposite of them’. Thus, we must not listen to their [wrong] advice. That we should not engage in the improper advice is clearly stated in ‘The 12th Historical Account of the Buddha’s Past Lives’.”

As stated in Lamrim, in The 12th Historical Account of the Buddha’s Past Lives, it speaks of a story from one of the past lives of Buddha Shakyamuni in which he was a Bodhisattva. Even as all of the other students who were training under the same teacher went out to steal when their teacher asked them to, the Boddhisattva did not join them, and said this: ‘Even if it is for the Lama, stealing is always wrong and I will never do it’. Thus, as it is said that ‘the legacies of the Buddha who came earlier are practices for us to engage in’, it is crucial for us to follow the legacies set forth by our past masters.

Tsongkhapa further says in the Graduated Steps of Path to Enlightenment:

“However, we should not disrespect them, or despise and abuse them for that reason [of giving a wrong direction]. In the Fifty Stanzas, it says thus:

‘If it is untenable with valid modes of reasoning,
On that which is untenable, explain in words.’

Thus, we should clarify [our reasons for not doing so] properly [to the teachers] and refrain from engaging in them [the improper advice given].”

Tsongkhapa again reiterates this point in his commentary to the Fifty Stanzas:

“Now, the question that arises is, should we engage in all those advice that are consistent with Dharma? Well, even if the advice is consistent with Dharma, if you are not able to do it, by explaining your reasons properly in clear words [to the master], if you do not do it, there is no fault in this. However, if the action is something inconsistent with reasoning, that could not be practised, and the advice a non-Dharmic one, just as I have said before, you should clarify your reasons properly and refrain from committing it. This is because it is also said in the ‘The Ornament to the General Ritual of all Sublime Secrets’ by Archarya Manjunath [Jamphel Drakpa]:

‘With regards to words that commit you to non-virtuous deeds,
Explain your reasons and observe equanimity’……….”

Therefore, it is very important to remember these instructions and put them into practice.

Here, I would like to say this:

Even if triggered by altruism and virtuous by nature,
A frog’s swim in the great ocean of Dharma will lead to nowhere.
Thus, those who wish to journey to the great island of enlightenment,
How would you recognise and land on your destination without a captain?
Therefore, by boarding the ship of Shakyamuni,
Rely on a compassionate master as your captain.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has more than twenty Lamas from whom he had received various teachings. Except Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, none of his other teachers propitiated Dolgyal. As far as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s practice of propitiating Dolgyal is concerned, he had followed the same trend of propitiating a wrathful spirit as prevalent in Buddhism, but never considered Dolgyal a Buddha or as a refuge being that includes all the Three Jewels, unlike the contemporary Dolgyal practitioners. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama reported all his successive investigations on Dolgyal to him, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche responded back by saying that the result of successive divinations performed in front of the thangka of Kali Devi — that has long remained the ‘treasured object of veneration’ for all the successive Dalai Lamas — can never fail. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche showed neither any displeasure when His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave up the propitiation of Dolgyal nor complained when His Holiness started advising people on the issue of Dolgyal. Except for those handful of people claiming to be his followers who are now against His Holiness, the majority of the most renowned and close disciples of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche were totally receptive to the advice of His Holiness and had all given up Dolgyal. Many of those who are still alive could recall that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had even advised his students at Sera, Drepung and Gaden that they should not make the practice of Dolgyal a part of their monastic or group practice. For instance, Sera Mey Monastery came to be associated with Dolgyal because Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche was one of reincarnated tulkus of the monastery. For quite a while around the late 1970’s, the monastery had been facing various signs of inauspiciousness, and was financially very weak to support itself properly. So, when its abbot, the previous Kyabje Bangri Rinpoche of Kongpo house, consulted Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, he was told that those were signs of having displeased their principle monastic protector, Thawog Choegyal Chenmo. Kyabje Bangri Rinpoche then asked him what could be the causes of such displeasures. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche told him that he should investigate the matter by himself since he himself was a capable Lama. Bangri Rinpoche’s investigations all pointed out to their association with Shugden as the cause for Thawog Choegyal Chenmo’s displeasure. He then reported this to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche who then told him that the monastery should completely disassociate with the propitiation of Dolgyal. Thus, in 1980, Sera Mey Monastery completely stopped its association with Dolgyal, although some of its monks and Pomra Khangtsen still maintained the practice. Later, when Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche visited Sera Mey Monastery, some of the monks went to report to him that Bangri Rinpoche had committed a blunder of discontinuing the propitiation of Shugden in their monastery. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche told them that due to the displeasure shown by Thawog Choegyal Chenmo, this had to be done. He told them that he had been consulted on this matter and had given his approval to their abbot Kyabje Bangri Rinpoche.

Critically speaking, although Kaybje Trijang Rinpoche never instructed His Holiness to propitiate Dolgyal, however, if ever this were the case, then let’s examine under what category of instructions this instruction on Dolgyal falls, and if His Holiness has breached them. Generally, the Buddha’s prescriptive instruction according to the Vinaya tradition is divided into three:

  1. The restrictive prescription, such as restriction against killing others
  2. The mandatory prescription, such as the bi-monthly confession ceremony for the monastics
  3. The permissible prescription, such as allowing monks and nuns the freedom to choose between slippers or shoes as they like

Advising on the propitiation of Dolgyal is not restraining someone from doing something because it speaks of doing something that does not entail refraining, whereas asking someone not to kill animals is a piece of advice that pertains to the restrictive prescription. Thus, even if it were Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s instruction to His Holiness, it is definitely not a restrictive prescription. Even an amateur in debate would know the difference.

The second possibility is of its being a mandatory prescription. Mandatory prescriptions call for a stringent observation of the practice. It means that you must do it and there is no other alternative. However, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche never gave any instruction that made it mandatory for His Holiness to practise Dolgyal. On the contrary, when His Holiness reported the result of his successive examinations, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche said that any divination performed in front of the thangka of Kali Devi that has long served as the ‘treasured object of veneration’ for the successive Dalai Lamas cannot fail. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave up Dolgyal’s practice, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche accepted the thangka of Shugden that His Holiness had in possession. He also told His Holiness that Nechung can never fail in his prophesies. When His Holiness decided not to receive the life entrusting initiation in connection with Shugden, and later gave up Dolgyal’s practice, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche never complained at all but supported His Holiness’ decisions. So, this means that it does not fall under the category of the mandatory instruction.

As far as permissible instructions are concerned, you have full freedom to do as you like, and there is no obligation at all. So, although Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche never told His Holiness the Dalai Lama to maintain his propitiation of Dolgyal, if ever it were the case, it can only be a permissible instruction. Usually, as far as the practice of adopting protectors and deities are concerned, practitioners are never forced by their Lamas into them. Concerned aspirants have to make a request to be initiated or introduced to the Tantric deities or protectors. Unless they see special reasons for doing so, spiritual masters are not allowed to give teachings until they are requested three times. Even then, ideally, they would have to examine how suitable the aspirants are and then decide whether to give the teachings or not. Ideally, as Buddhists, we can neither commercialise the teachings nor force them on others.

As far as mandatory prescriptions are concerned, they come into force only when once you have received an empowerment or a vow, and since then you would have to follow commitments pertaining to the empowerment or the vow. As far as empowerments or teachings are concerned, it is up to the individuals to receive them or not. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had never received any teaching particularly connected to Dolgyal from any of his masters. So, how does that bring about disobedience or breach of commitment for failing to comply with Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s instruction?

Perhaps, you might say that propitiating Dolgyal was one of the most important practices that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had held so closely to his heart, and since His Holiness did not follow the former’s deep rooted desire, there was a breach of commitment. If this were the true — although there is nothing worse than postulating that Shugden’s practice was the main practice of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche — and if you insist on this logic, then, as Shari Putra and Mangalayana did not practise Bodhichitta as they were Hinayana Arhats [hearers], they should also be considered as having strained their commitments to Buddha Shakyamuni who held the practice of Bodhichitta as the closest to his heart. Also, if Shugden’s practice was Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s main practice, as Tsongkhapa did not practise any of the wrathful, worldly protectors at all and as all his protectors were wisdom-eyed protectors [those who have attained the path of seeing and beyond], Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche should be held accountable for violating the tradition that Tsongkhapa had pioneered and cherished. Also, since Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche received his bhikshu vows [see his auto-biography] from His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, and as the latter was opposed to the practice of Shugden [see Phabongkha’s biography written by his secretary Lobsang Dorji], with your logic, it naturally implies that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had also strained his commitments to His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. However, it was definitely not true that Shugden was the main practice of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, although there is no denying the fact that he was quite strongly connected with Shugden. How absurd it is that those who never saw Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche even once in their lives but have only heard of him now claim to know more about him than His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama who had spent several decades with him! The fact that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had transmitted his teachings and empowerments in their entirety to His Holiness the Dalai Lama brings into question how true these allegations against His Holiness by these Shugden fanatics are. My only sensible conclusion is that the contemporary Tibetans practising Shugden are only too lost in their senseless pursuit of a sensless cause while their western counterparts are just blubbering out of ignorance.

Again, if breaking your commitment occurs if you do not engage in a particular practice that your own master is engaged in, then as Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche became a Geluk purist in the latter part of his life, and abandoned his initial endeavour of engaging in the practices of other traditions, had he broken his commitments to his other masters such as His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama who had been practising the ecumenical system of Buddhism that includes teachings from all the four schools? Also, as his root master Dagpo Jamphel Lhundrup did not practise Dolgyal at all, had Khabje Phabongkha Rinpoche breached his commitments by pioneering a tradition that was not his own root master’s practice? By going against the legacies of his masters who had no connection with Dolgyal, did Phabongkha also breach his commitments to them?

Kyabje Phabongkha’s biography relates that Reting Rinpoche had performed a wrathful exorcism on Dolgyal. Reting Rinpoche and Phabongkha were teacher cum student to one another. Now, the question for you is, did Phabongkha Rinpoche breach his commitment to Reting Rinpoche by hailing the spirit, on whom the latter had performed an exorcism, as Manjushree?

Among the teachers of Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche, there was His Holiness 13th the Dalai Lama who was strongly critical of Kyabje Phabongkha’s practice of Shugden [read his biography written by his own secretary Lobsang Dorji]. How can you defend Kyabje Phabongkha from the same accusation when he deliberately propagated Shugden once His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama had passed away? These are facts that will come to light if you read the biography of Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche, written by his own secretary.

For Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche [the present reincarnation of Trijang Rinpoche], His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is his first Lama from whom he had received his first teaching and vows. However, now that he has snubbed His Holiness’ position on Dolgyal and has completely gone astray, how do you defend him from the same accusation?

If you go into the Lamrim treatise of Tsongkhapa and study the chapter on how to follow your masters precisely, all practices in this context are subsumed into two: how to mentally revere them, and how to follow them through actions. His Holiness has never deprecated or despised Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, or lost faith in him but continues to remain devoted to him. His Holiness has never denigrated any of the instructions of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. As for forsaking Dolgyal’s practice, His Holiness received the complete approval from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche when he gave up the practice.

Far from denigrating his instructions or despising Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has time and again referred to both Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Phabongkha as custodians of the teaching on the mind training instructions and the unique teachings of the Chakrasamvara Tantra, both the ‘father’ and the ‘mother’ Tantra. Thus, as His Holiness mentally treated Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche with the utmost respect, how could he mentally breach his relation or commitment to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche? As far as His Holiness’ actions are concerned, there was not a single instance in His Holiness’ action that had brought about displeasure to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. With regards to His Holiness’ disconnection with Dolgyal and his successive advice on Dolgyal, none of the close disciples ever recalled any instance of displeasure displayed by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. On the contrary, his autobiography refers to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the human emanation of Avalokiteshvara. When he gave an elaborate Lamrim teaching at Drepung Gomang Monastery in Tibet in 1952, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had commented that if the good karmas of the Tibetans would support it, this present 14th Dalai Lama would surpass all the accomplishments of the 1st Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drupa; the 5th Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Lobsang Gyatso; and the 7th Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Kelsang Gyatso, even if all of their activities were combined together. Samdhong Rinpoche and Dakyab Kyabgon Rinpoche have openly said that they had heard Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche giving this comment. Now, is it likely that this Dalai Lama, with whom Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had spent more than forty years, despise his own Lama? Surely you must give some credit to His Holiness who led Tibet and the Tibetans in their darkest period in history. Besides, the world reveres His Holiness as the icon of peace and the embodiment of compassion. Surely, all of these people have common sense that can discern. Although such rumours stem in the west from people who never saw Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, no one in our Tibetan society, in sharp contrast to the contemporary Tibetan Shugdenpa fanatics, believe them to be true.

If you still maintain that His Holiness had not followed the instructions of Trijang Rinpoche in connection with Dolgyal, then, as mentioned earlier by citing from the Fifty Stanzas, since His Holiness had thoroughly explained his reasons for giving up Dolgyal, and as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche himself had supported the decision of His Holiness, how would that breach His Holiness’ commitment to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche? Even if it was something Dharmic in nature that could not be accomplished, explaining the reasons for your inability to comply with the instruction does not breach any commitment. As far as Dolgyal is concerned, although it needs to be seen how far Dolgyal’s propitiation is in line with Dharma, His Holiness had explained everything in detail to both of his tutors. So, how does that breach his commitment to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche? Tsongkhapa says in his Lamrim and commentary to the Fifty Stanzas that you should examine thoroughly, and if an instruction does not confirm with the mainstream of Buddhism, the instruction should be abandoned, and not the mainstream approach of Buddhism.

If examining and coming out with a different version, that contradicts your teacher’s advice, does amount to straining your relationship with him and breaks your commitments, then even Tsongkhapa cannot be spared from this allegation. Although Tsongkhapa’s interpretation of emptiness is pertinent to the true intent of Arya Nagarjuna, it did not fit well with the interpretations of many of his direct and indirect masters. Thus, as his versions were in sharp contrast to the views of some of his direct masters — although the rest of the Geluk followers see that as an achievement and hail him as the pioneer of ‘the chariot’s tradition’ in Tibet — it appears that your crooked logics does not even spare Tsongkhapa! With His Holiness the Dalai Lama as your main target, you have been abusing and accusing all who do not confirm with your bogus practice. Is it not wiser to save your own heads from such hideous sins?

In Tsongkhapa’s most authoritative text on emptiness, The Essence of Excellent Instructions, it says thus at the beginning:

‘Those who have heard much, and strived enormously in logical reasoning,
As well as those who were endowed with many qualities
Of higher realisations which were not ordinary at all,
Were not able to grasp them despite their best efforts;
However, due to the kindness of Lama Manjushree,
I have perfectly understood these crucial points.
Enthused by extreme compassion, I will expound them here.’

At the end of the text, as dedication and the concluding remark, Tsongkhapa says thus:

‘The meanings of the vast expanses of classical treatises
As interpreted by Nagarjuna and Asanga,
The supreme among expounders of the two traditions of the chariot,
Have been expounded here precisely.
Where else would you find such a scrupulous explanation?

Although they have long engaged in extensive deeds,
These vital points of profundity and vastness, so difficult to fathom
Even for those Bodhisattvas who are well learnt in all kinds of academic arts,
I have found them as exactly as they are,
And familiarised myself with them properly.’

He again says thus:

‘That I have pursued and understood these vital points,
Which are so difficult to fathom, and have long become degraded,
Is attributed to the magic of logical reasoning.
Ah ha! Thinking how remarkable it is,
Even when I am alone on my own, I couldn’t stop uttering words of joy.’

Thus, it is clear that Tsongkhapa accepted in his own words that he had found the views of Chitamattra and Madhyamika, particularly the Prasangika Madhyamika, which were not properly understood by many of his direct and indirect masters, and that these two traditions have long degraded. This meant that Tsongkhapa’s interpretations of the views were different from those of his masters. However, for reviving the impeccable traditions of Nagarjuna and Asanga in Tibet, we all praise Tsongkhapa as the pioneer of ‘the two traditions of the chariot’ in Tibet. If being different from your teacher entails breaking your commitments to them, then, even Tsongkhapa is blamable for his impeccable revival of the traditions of Asanga and Nagarjuna. Isn’t that too extreme?

When the Buddha was about to pass away, he gave teachings that are now contained in The Miscellaneous Transmissions [Lung Trantsek Sutra]. In this Sutra, it says thus:

‘Oh bhikshu, whatever I have not permitted or restricted earlier, [when it comes to deciding on them in future] if things are consistent with the objectionable ones, and inconsistent with those that are acceptable, then, they are objectionable: As such, do not engage in them.

If things are consistent with the acceptable ones, and inconsistent with the objectionable ones, then, they are acceptable: So, engage in them. There is nothing to be remorseful about it.’

Although this advice is given in connection with the observance of monastic discipline that were not explicitly taught in clear words, we can incorporate the advice given here with other areas of practice. This is applicable to any of the Buddha’s prescriptions of restriction, obligation and permission, and is not confined to the Vinaya only. Thus, as it is important to see if Shugden’s practice is consistent with the mainstream of Buddhism as taught by the Buddha himself, His Holiness also did the same. Based on his extremely scrupulous modes of examination that he had conducted many times prompted by various reasons, His Holiness got the same result consistently. Thus, His Holiness decided to give up Dolgyal’s propitiation. As and when the situation required, His Holiness fulfilled his responsibility of explaining the risks associated with Shugden to the Tibetan people who revere and trust him entirely. How would this strain His Holiness’ religious harmony with Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche? Why can’t His Holiness advise his students on what he had discovered with absolute certainty?

The truth is that His Holiness’ advice did not go well with some narrow minded Tibetans who either lacked the practical guidance of their teachers, or did not receive a good education, or were lured by Chinese money. Thus, as they rebelled against His Holiness, their western counterparts also started blubbering together with them, despite their limited knowledge.

In Thoyon Lama Yeshi Tenpai Gyaltsen’s work Excellent Instructions from the Precious Kadampa Teachings Called the Treasury of Precious Jewels, in the section on the instructions of Dromtonpa, it says thus:

“Although Atisha desired to establish the Vinaya [monastic] lineage of Mahasamghika, Dromtonpa requested him not to do that as this tradition will not be good for Tibet. Atisha then complained thus:

‘I neither have the right to speak the Doha [poetical] instructions, nor the right to establish a Vinaya lineage. Therefore, my coming to Tibet has not born any fruit.’

In the tradition of Mahasamghika, if one acquired a root downfall in one lineage, he can still obtain the vows from another lineage. Seeing this as improper, Geshe Dromtonpa had requested Atisha not to establish the latter’s lineage.”

Thus, Dromtonpa’s request to Atisha in this regard concerns the well-being of the Buddha Dharma that he aspired to establish with an excellent foundation; therefore, critically speaking, this can never be against the true intent of Atisha. However, according to the logic of Shugden fanatics, even Dromtonpa should be held accountable for having breached the sanctity of the teacher-student relationship.

Although His Holiness’ advice on Dolgyal can never be against the intentions of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, even if it were, His Holiness’ is still right as his advice is aimed at the revival and revitalisation of the Buddha Dharma, and for the well-being of sentient beings.

As for the issue of Dolgyal, even if His Holiness the Dalai Lama were to warn Kaybje Trijang Rinpoche of the risks associated with Dolgyal’s propitiation, he would still be right since it is proper for a student to help reduce the drawbacks of his teacher. This is explicitly taught by Tsongkhapa in his Graduated Steps of the Path to Enlightenment or Lamrim Chenmo. In the section that deals with the perfection of generosity, it says thus:

‘In the same way, with your abbot, masters and friends who might be stingy, or even if they are not miserly, by offering them materials, you should let them give, and do not give them yourself.’

Conclusion and request to observe caution:

It is sad that these Shugdenpas are either under the influence of ignorance, or prejudicial, or totally bereft of any concrete knowledge of what Buddhism truly is. Thus, they blindly accept Dolgyal as a protector of Tsongkhapa’s tradition. NKT and many others like Dagom Rinpoche have even elevated him to the status of a Tantric deity. Their actions of abusing His Holiness as well as their acceptance of Dolgyal as a protector or a deity are nothing more than the destruction of the Buddha Dharma from the root. His Holiness is the light of Buddhism on this earth and attacking him is definitely the work of the enemy of the Dharma. Raising a mundane spirit — who has been called a sanctimonious and perfidious spirit by the Great 5th Dalai Lama and many other Lamas — to the status of a Dharma protector or even a Tantric deity and emphasing on the practice of appeasing such a spirit are actions that reduce the lustre of Buddhism to the practice of spirit worship. Thus, it is extremely crucial for those who really aspire to be on the true path to be wary of that pitiable spirit as well as his gullible followers.

In Vasubandu’s Abhidharma Kosakarika, it says thus:

‘The Buddha who was [like] the eye of the world had closed his eyes,
Most of those people who bore witness [to his teachings] have also faded away.
The Dharma is being greatly corrupted by the distorted conceptualisations
Of those who have not understood realities as they are.

The ‘Self-Arisen One’ [the Buddha] and those who cherished his teachings
Had all transcended to the supreme Nirvana, leaving migratory beings with no refuge;
With their stains [of corrupted views] in the absence of any authentic instructions,

Nowadays, people engage, on their own accord, in actions that bring destructions to goodness.

Thus, the doctrine of ‘The Able One’,
Is like the last breath at the throat that ends life,
Knowing that the time now is the peak for the delusions,
Those aspiring for liberation must observe absolute caution.’

The same kind of warning is specifically given to the Gelukpas by Je Gungthang Tenpai Dolme, one of the top Gelukpa masters whose scholarly accomplishments and experiential realisations won him the name Gungthang Jamphelyang, the Manjushree from Gungthang, or Gungthang, the Manjushree.

In his advice, he says thus:

‘Nowadays, the sublime tradition of our ‘great fatherly-master’ [Tsongkhapa]
Is covered by the dust of ignorance of the degenerate era:
Many people are led down the terrible steep
By totally pathetic hypocrites who poses as spiritual masters’.

As such, it is important for all of us who aspire for something good in this and future lives to be extremely careful.

As far as the western Dolgyal fanatics are concerned, their ancestors were not Buddhist. However, with the occupation of Tibet by China in 1959, what was a tragedy for Tibet and the Tibetans came in disguise for them: Due to the compassion and divine activities of His Holiness whose altruism is limitless, as well as due to the contribution of CTA, Tibetan monasteries, nunneries, Lamas and scholars, Buddhism started taking root in many western countries. However, although the majority of the western Buddhists remain grateful to the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism that has brought much positive change in their lives, some of them fell under the spell of Dolgyal’s vicious designs and were taught to hold spirit-worship in the highest esteem. Having fallen prey to those Tibetans whose designs do not confirm with any authentic Buddhist practices, they have now formed their organisations with the agendas of bringing defamation to His Holiness, causing maximum damages to his divine activities, and promoting the worship of Dolgyal by supporting the designs aimed at destabilising the Tibetan community at the behest of the Chinese Communist Regime. These are not bogus claims, and we have evidence to support them. To conceal their designs, they have come up with a lame excuse of preserving the lineage of Shugden by speaking as if they are protecting the legacy of Kyabje Phabongkha and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.

Just like a son trying to kill his own mother — without whom he could not have seen the world — for a very silly reason, likewise, these western Dolgyal fanatics who have totally forgotten the fact that the Buddhism that they seem to like has come from Tibet and the Tibetans are now attacking us, pretending as if they knew Buddhism better than His Holiness or the scholars from the three great seats. Although it is the tradition of Buddhism to revere the sources of the Buddha’s teachings and hold them in the highest esteem, however, by turning against His Holiness, CTA, as well as all the Tibetans who follow His Holiness, or in short, by turning against the very source of their teachings, that too, for a very flimsy purpose of cherishing a spirit whose practice brings more harm than benefit, these gullible western followers of Dolgyal have only proved how vulnerable they are and how limited their sense of discernment is. However, they must remember this, irrespective of whether they believe in it or not, that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the principle one among all the disciples of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. For more than forty years, Kyabje Trijang was by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s side, and offered him all his teachings in their entirety. Apart from his work on Shugden, there are volumes of writings, which are truly free of any fallacy, to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s credit. The same applies to Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche. When seen by the eyes of a good practitioner, there is truly no contradiction between His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s approach to Shugden and his commitments to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s works on Dolgyal were written before 1969, much before His Holiness started advising people against the practice.

The whole world knows His Holiness Dalai Lama’s activities for which he has won the hearts of millions. The Tibetans revere His Holiness as the human emanation of Avalokiteshvara and His Holiness has never failed us. By joining hands with those Tibetan Shugdenpas in pursuing such horrendous karmas of attacking His Holiness will never do any good to anyone. On the contrary, such actions will lead you to the deepest of all hells, with the most severe sufferings for innumerable eons. This is not an empty warning. I will explain them later by citing from authentic scriptural sources in Tantra and Sutra. No true Dharma practitioners would approve of what Shugden fanatics have been doing. These western fanatics neither have the rationalism of thinking that the version of their teachers could be wrong, nor the wisdom of reading and examining His Holiness’ points.

However, if there are some among them who care to think for their own good, then they should read Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim [now translated into English] and examine if their actions accord with Dharma. The Buddha himself taught thus in Dharmapada:

‘You are your own refuge;
Who else could be your refuge?
Those who have thoroughly tamed themselves
Are said to achieve higher attainments by the wise.’
Jestun Milarepa, the king of all yogis in Tibet, said thus:
‘Of all the hundred heads that there are,
Make sure that you do not neglect your own head.’

Thus, it is important for all of you to ensure that your own practices do not become inappropriate or perverted. Even if you commit sinful actions as a gesture of supporting your master, sinful actions do not become virtuous, but only remain as sins. There is no exception at all for any reason. This is clearly stated by Nagarjuna in his Friendly Letter to the King which says thus:

‘You should refrain from committing sins
For the sake of sages; bhikshu; and deities;
Or for the sake of guests; father and mother;
Or for the sake of your queen and followers
As there is no way the ripened sufferings in hell could be distributed [among them].’

Perhaps a doubt might arise that since we do not see the word master in this stanza, there is no sin in doing anything for your Lama. However, there is an explicit clarification on this in the commentary of Jetsun Redawa Shonu Lodroe, one of the most prominent masters of Tsongkhapa from whom Tsongkhapa received many teachings, particularly on Abhidharma and Madhyamika. Jestun Redawa is said to have offered back the Migtsema praise to Tsongkhapa although it was initially composed by Tsongkhapa for him. In his commentary to the Friendly Letter called Illuminating the Meanings, it says thus:

“In order to dispel this misunderstanding among the worldly people who believe that it is not irreligious to commit sins for their Lamas, or sages and others, it was said thus:

‘You should refrain from committing sins
For the sake of sages; bhikshus; and deities;’….”

This is also clearly stated in the 12th legacy of the thirty four divine legacies of Buddha Shakyamuni in his previous lives as Bodhisattvas. I have briefly covered this earlier; this is also stated in Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim Chenmo.

This truth that committing a sin even for the sake of Buddhas or Lamas is still sinful, and not religious or virtuous, can be logically ascertained. In Abhidharma Kosakarika, it says thus:

‘Liberation is known as the ultimate virtue;
Refraining from shame and embarrassment are natural virtues.
Those concomitant with them are concomitantly virtuous;
Motivations that trigger actions are motivational virtues:
The same can be said for the opposite, non virtue.’

As stated above, virtue can be classified as ultimate virtues, natural virtues, concomitant virtues, and motivational virtues. The same can be said for the non-virtues. As such, any action triggered by delusions such as anger is a motivational non-virtue. It is important for all to be vigilant and ensure that you do not become a fool who is led by a noose tied around his nose in the same manner animals are led helplessly.

Thinking that you are doing some service to Tsongkhapa’s doctrine or even with a genuine intention, if you hail Dolgyal, a perfidious spirit, as a Tantric deity or the unique protector of Tsongkhapa’s tradition, and engage in any actions which pertains to such fallacious views, these are not only against the refuge vow, but also tarnish the image of the Geluk tradition. With his genuine concern that makes it unbearable for him to see the degradation of Tsongkhapa’s genuine tradition, and for various other reasons, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consistently given advice warning his students not to give priority to worshipping spirits and nagas in general, and particularly Dolgyal. Those who had received teachings from His Holiness but snubbed his advice, and have even gone to the extent of attacking, accusing, and abusing His Holiness the Dalai Lama have all breached their commitments of the three vows. Particularly, they have all been stricken consistently by the root downfalls of despising the vajra master and deprecating his instructions. Despising one’s vajra master is considered the ultimate and the most hideous of sins in Tantrayana. This fact is clearly stated in Tsongkhapa’s The Four Interwoven Commentaries of Guhyasamaja Tantra. Even if you insist that it is only stated in connection with genuine vajra masters, there is no way anyone can truly find faults in the spiritual accomplishment and authority of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness is unquestionably the top spiritual authority of Tibet and its Buddhism. Only Shugden fanatics might try vainly to challenge this fact as a means to justify their own sins. As these people have strained their spiritual commitments to His Holiness, and despised his advice knowingly, these are truly what we call as ‘Daam Nyampa’, a Tibetan term for those who have severely strained their religious commitments. As such, indulging in worldly activities with them or engaging in religious activities with them will strain the sanctity of our practices. Associating spiritually with them or sharing worldly things with them will earn us the 10th root downfall of befriending the perilous one. Therefore, those who wish to do themselves any good must stay away from them. I will explain the scriptural sources and provide valid reasonings to ascertain my point elsewhere. Therefore, I will not elaborate them here.

The Tibetan Shugdenpas amidst their western counterparts are the most dreadful ones of all with severed commitments. Thus, associating with them, or letting them lead you will never yield any positive result in this and future lives. Just as a highly venomous snake is avoided from a distance and can never be befriended, these people are even worse, for they will only lead you to commit sins, such as despising the most compassionate Buddhist master of our time that will land you straight in the hellish realms for eons. I will quote from the Buddha’s Sutras and Tantras, as well as from the works of his genuine followers, and elaborate how sinful the actions of despising a Bodhisattva or a Buddha are in my other work. Just as two oxen who are bound by a common yoke would fall down the cliff together if one of them slips down, actions such as your bogus and vicious campaigns against His Holiness will definitely reserve your place in the hell for countless eons.

Although His Holiness had tried his best to bring back Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche so that he could continue his study at Gaden Shartse Monastery like other reincarnate Lamas, Gonsar Tulku from Switzerland literally changed his mind entirely, although initially, Trijang Rinpoche did consider following His Holiness’ advice. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration could guarantee his safety and even when there was no history of violence from non-Shugdenpas — despite those false allegations that you can read on the Shugdenpa’s website — what prevented him from returning back to his monastery? Later, he got disrobed. Even then, His Holiness tried to bring him back so that His Holiness could return back the teachings that he had received from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, but to no avail. Nobody could really compete with the spiritual accomplishment, understanding and authority of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The opportunity to train under him, be nurtured by him and to study at Gaden Monastery with thousands of other students under the top scholars of our time can never compare to whatever they have to offer Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche at Rabten Ling centre in Switzeralnd. Gonsar Tulku himself does not know how to write a proper letter in Tibetan. Also, he did not get a proper monastic education. Ask those of his age at Sera Jey Monastery to confirm this. Whatever he had learnt were those that he could learn while translating for Geshe Rabten. Presently, Trijang Rinpoche’s reincarnation seemed to have Yongyal Rinpoche as his root master. Yongyal Rinpoche did finish his study at Sera Mey, but he was only an average scholar. Everybody knows that at Sera. Ask those at Sera Mey, Jey, Drepung and Gaden who had studied with him and you will receive the same answer. Gangchen Lama did not study even one proper year at Sera Mey. Although he is a Tibetan who came into exile and shared the same fate as the rest of the Tibetan refugees, today, he has extended his hands to the Chinese, and betrayed his own countrymen, Tibet and his Lamas. Surprisingly, even such a sanctimonious being have find followers!

Study Kelsang Gyatso’s history and you will come to know that he never got a proper training at Sera. He never got his Geshe degree but uses a picture of Sera Jey’s monastic disciplinarian giving him a scarf as a proof of conferring upon him the Geshe degree. For your information, Geshe degrees are conferred upon by the monastic abbot, not the disciplinarian. The scarf is traditionally given by the disciplinarian to anyone who makes offering to the Sangha assembly, and this happened when Kelsang Gyatso made an offering at Sera Jey. His students use a prayer composition, written by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche at the request of Kelsang Gyatso’s students, as a validation of his claim of being a Geshe. When he was referred to as Geshe by his students, and when they asked Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche to compose a prayer for their teacher whom they called as ‘Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’, it is understandable that Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche would respond with politeness and refer to him as ‘Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’ in the prayer. This validation is a very feeble justification. His biography claims he studied at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and his own local monastery. However, most of his biography starts from his life in England; he has kept everybody in his centres in the dark without speaking or writing anything about his past.

His form of monasticism is based on his own version of Vinaya which he claims has a source in the Pragyaparimita Sutra. Which Buddhist scholar around the world in any Buddhist nation would approve of such a tradition of monasticism? When I first learnt about it, I couldn’t control my laughter! After that, I felt really sorry for him for trying to pioneer a monastic tradition of Buddhism that has no origin in the Vinaya Sutras. Ordination as a novice monk can be done by a bhikshu who has been a bhikshu continuously for ten years, and who has all the qualities of a preceptor as taught in Vinaya. Although I am not saying that his monks and nuns are not novices, it is hard to think of any real bhikshus or bhikshunis among them for a bhikshu’s ordination requires the presence of at least four more bhikshus on top of the preceptor. Except Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Kelsang Gyatso falls short of mentioning any name of his other teachers? Why is that? Surely Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche did not teach him debate and the other forms of monastic education at Tashi Lhunpo, Sera Jey or his own local monastery? All of these certainly put into question his credibility as a teacher. Why did he disassociate himself from the Tibetan society even before the issue of Dolgyal picked up?

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