Saturday, May 31, 2008

Monks protests against Dalai Lama

Hundreds of Buddhist monks gathered in the centre of Oxford this morning to protest loudly against a visit by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The Dalai Lama is speaking at the Sheldonian Theatre and about 1,000 members of the Western Shugden Society turned up outside.

The protesters chanted "Dalai Lama stop lying" and other slogans as he arrived for the talk and 9.30am.

The chanting reached fever pitch as the Dalai Lama arrived in a chauffeur-driven vehicle and was escorted into the building.

The society claim the Tibetan leader has banned a traditional Buddhist prayer, while his followers are abusing the human rights of Shugden Buddhists.

The Sheldonian Theatre was cordoned off to members of the public who are not invited to the talk and there was a strong police presence including officers on horseback.

Supporters of the Western Shugden Society are thought to have come to Oxford from as far away as Brazil, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Many of the demonstrators have been following the Dalai Lama around the UK and protested at his engagements in London and Nottingham in recent weeks.

Kelsang Pema, spokesman for the Western Shugden Society, said: "The demonstration is very loud and we hope the Dalai Lama hears our message.

"When the Dalai Lama was 50, he decided that one very simple and pure spiritual prayer should not longer be regarded as Buddhist.

"But even if he experienced a change of heart himself, he should not have inflicted this on Buddhist communities throughout the world.

"We have tried to petition him peacefully since the 1990s but he will not listen and now people are being expelled from monasteries and schools for trying to practice this prayer."
The demonstration is expected to last until shortly after midday.

From Oxford Mail

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On Whose Authority?

The Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden, but on whose authority?

Since the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, the position of Dalai Lama has most definitely been a political one. No one would dispute that the Dalai Lama is the political leader of Tibet and head of the Tibetan Government in Exile, but what of his religious authority? Does he have the right and authority to ban the practice of a religious deity, as he has with Dorje Shugden, or to endorse a candidate to be the next Karmarpa thereby causing a schism in the Kagyu tradition?

The Dalai Lama is not the head of any of the four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism – the Nyingmas, Kagyus, Sakyas and Gelugpas. Each sect of Tibetan Buddhism has its own head. Many people mistakenly think that the Dalai Lama is the head of Tibetan Buddhism, or at least of the Gelugpa school, but if he is not head of any of the individual schools of Tibetan Buddhism, how can he be head of the whole Tradition? There is no 'Pope' of Tibetan Buddhism.

The confusion about the Dalai Lama's religious authority lies in the fact that he is a politician who is also a monk. When the Dalai Lama speaks, is it a politician who is speaking or is it a spiritual leader? No-one is quite sure, but clearly it can't be both because the aims of politics and religion are opposite and contradictory. It's not safe for a monk to do the job of politician unless the monk is stronger than the politician. If not, the monk becomes a politician who abuses religion for worldly goals rather than a religious leader who uses power and influence to accomplish spiritual goals.

Unfortunately, in the case of the Dalai Lama, it seems that the politician is uppermost. His actions are causing suffering to millions of Buddhists of the Tibetan lineage. There is one main reason why the Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden; because it is politically advantageous for him to do so. He is playing the dangerous game of using religion to serve politics. His 'religious' reasons for banning this Deity are a smoke screen that hide a political agenda. Since 1961 the Dalai Lama has had the wish to unite all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism under his leadership. In an open letter to the Dalai Lama in 2001, the International Karma Kagyu Organization wrote:

In 1961 the Tibetan government in exile proposed to merge the four Tibetan schools into one religious body headed by Your Holiness. This policy inflicted serious spiritual suffering on much of the Tibetan exile community. Rallying behind Karmapa's authority, thirteen Tibetan settlements challenged the Exile Government's plan and as a consequence the whole scheme was abandoned. Later in the seventies Karmapa came under blame because he had chosen to defend the autonomy of the three other lineages.

“This policy inflicted serious spiritual suffering on much of the Tibetan exile community”. This is also true for the Dorje Shugden ban. The scheme to merge the schools together may have seemed to be abandoned but His Holiness has not changed his ambitions; he still wants to be the supreme spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism. To this end he has split the Kagyu tradition in the Karmapa controversy and has also split the Gelugpa tradition over the issue of Dorje Shugden. Frighteningly, he is supported by most Tibetans and many Westerners in these actions who argue that 'Tibetans must be united at this time in order to achieve a free or autonomous Tibet'. If it is generally felt that Tibetans must be united, the Dalai Lama can justify the removal of anything that he feels might divide them, such as different religious practices and traditions. When the Dalai Lama does this he claims that these practices are 'sectarian'. There doesn't have to be anything wrong with 'sectarian'; that which is sectarian is that which is characteristic of a sect. A sect is simply a religious denomination.

Difference is not normally a problem. It's only a problem if differences are used to stir up disharmony, as the Dalai Lama has by demonising practitioners of Dorje Shugden. Different sects of Buddhism can engage in different practices but still respect each other. Why can't Dorje Shugden practitioners live happily side by side with those who do not practise Dorje Shugden? This was the case before the Dalai Lama spoke out against the Protector and linked the practice to such emotive subjects as his health and the cause of Tibetan independence. In this way, he made a harmless practice that gives great spiritual benefit into a threat.

In these spiritually degenerate times, religion is serving the needs of politics. Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama's fame and charisma is so great that no one questions his actions. Buddhadharma is either being destroyed due to attachment to Tibetan nationality or because the Dalai Lama wants supreme power – not just political but also religious, and is operating a 'divide and rule' policy. Either way, Buddhadharma is being destroyed; this will be the ugly result of the Dalai Lama's actions.

What gives him the authority to make pronouncements about someone else's spiritual practice? It is normal in Buddhism to follow the views, intentions and practices of a respected Spiritual Teacher, but the Dalai Lama has proclaimed his tutor Trijang Rinpoche 'wrong' for promoting the practice of the Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden. In doing so he has cast doubt on the whole Gelug lineage and is now operating autonomously without any legitimate spiritual authority. By instigating a grossly biased 'referendum' on Shugden and having monks who refuse to give up the practice expelled from their monasteries he has caused a deep schism in the Gelugpa tradition. Who is questioning his actions? Who will stop him? Most Tibetans will accept anything he says because he is their leader and the great majority of Westerners are so blinded by his smiling visage in the media and his public image as a 'simple monk' and 'man of peace' that they will also go along with what he says. He can do no wrong.

Far worse than Tibetan genocide is the destruction of Buddha Shakyamuni's holy teachings through the distorted views and mistaken actions of the world's most charming and famous Buddhist. It's an 'inside job', but how is it that nobody has thought to ask “on whose authority is he doing this?” It is an indictment of our collective intellects in this age of celebrity, where style reigns over substance, that more people are not asking this question.