Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dalai Lama Demonstration Down Under

a first-hand account

Just returned from the Sydney demos - it felt very meaningful to be asking for religious freedom on behalf of all the Tibetan practitioners who do not have the opportunity to make their voices heard; as well as for the many Western practitioners who are also subject to prejudice and ostracism.

For example, some of the Tibetan people present at the Dalai Lama's talks, who live in Australia, admitted to having had to sign the oath to not practice Dorje Shugden nor mix with anyone who does engage in the practice.

At least if they had refused to sign in Australia, they may be ousted from their Buddhist Centers and shunned by their Tibetan neighbors, but they would not be prevented from receiving basic human rights. Not so in India, where the forced oath campaign has already caused untold suffering in the form of ostracism and lack of access to material and medical resources and identity cards in the Tibetan exile community. This oath-taking campaign is now spreading disharmony and mutual distrust amongst Tibetans and other Buddhist practitioners even in Australia and other Western countries.

There was a determined and joyful mood amongst the protestors who had gathered from all over the world to uphold and protect Je Tsongkhapa's tradition both now and into the future. As well as Australians, there were 32 people from Hong Kong, 12 from Malaysia and Singapore and others from far-flung places such as New Zealand, New Caledonia, South Africa, the US and Canada.

The police were impressed with the peaceful, though noisy, nature of the gathering and some even recorded the chanting on their mobile phones and made it their ring tone! At times there was spontaneous dancing from some protestors to accompany the melodious chanting: "Dalai Lama give... religious freedom."

Imagine being forced to sign an oath, for example, not to worship Saint Francis or another great Saint, nor mix with anyone who does? This is the equivalent – freedom of worship of the Buddhist Deity Dorje Shugden (the Dharma Protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition) is being outright denied or, in Western countries, vehemently frowned upon. It seems non-sensical in this age of tolerance and religious pluralism, and yet the Dalai Lama has been getting away with it – no one in the West questioning his feudalistic abuse of power. Until now.

Many people who were attending the Dalai Lama's talks were interested to find out what all the fuss was about and, once they were informed about what is happening, many expressed surprise that the Dalai Lama has not agreed to discuss a possible solution.

The auspicious causes we created for the future and the interest of the media made our efforts worthwhile.

Posted courtesy of a Buddhist monk in attendance.
For media examples, see below this article and see the popular Nine MSN Sunday morning news show June 15 2008.


cardano said...

Can anyone please elucidate on the following:
1. What exactly is the Dorje Shugden practise and what does it involve?
2. What benefits do practitioners derive from practising it?
3. Where did it originate, and what is its significance today for practitioners?
4. How does it fit in with Buddhist teachings and practises and implementing those into daily life?
5. What are the politics behind the ban by the Dalai Lama and what may have prompted him to issue such a ban.
6. What prevents anyone from practising it anyway in his/her privacy?
7. What do protesters hope to achieve by going public, and by all accounts, sow, what appears gratuitous discord, amongst the Tibetan community?

And apparently undermine the moral and representative authority of the Dalai Lama at a very, very crucial time for him and Tibetans.
To the public at large it has all the appearance of a rather self-centred opportunity for these practitioners to embarrass the Dalai Lama, and to gain maximum leverage for their cause, whatever the merits of it may be.

Many thanks to anyone who can fill the void of insight into this issue.

Anonymous said...

1. Guidance in changing our lives into the path to enlightenment.
2. Inspiration through a capable "force" influencing our lives.
3. It originated with great practitioner who through a number of lives took rebirth as an Indian Mahasiddha, Tibetan Lama to uphold a special tradition of Buddhism.
4. It involves reliance on a deity that can give us the life opportunities to progress toward our own Buddhahood.
5. The motivation of the ban is creating a wedge issue to pander loyalty.
6. In Tibetan society, at the social level a lot of discrimination. My wife refused to sign petition against the practice and her house was sacked.
7. To draw attention to the issues being experienced in the monasteries, the false demonization and rewriting history and slandering our lineage masters.

The DL turned a sacred debate session in January into a political grandstand to reinitiate a public backlash against Dorje Shugden practitioners. He has created this social divide, and unlike a responsible ruler has only exacerbated the issue to garner loyalty. What is his plan for Tibet? Most Tibetans talk about freedom but he has renounced this! Tibet is a lost cause until there is responsible leadership.

adam said...

if you have a look at the WSS web-site you should be able to receive answers to many of these questions. Many answers are also given in this blog. I'll attempt some short answers which hopefully you may see if you visit this site
1. The practice of Dorje Shugden is a prayer to a Dharma Protector - a Buddha who helps us with our spritual practice.
2. The main benefit of this practice is that it protects the growth of Dharma realizations.
3. The practice is specifically related to the tradition of the great Buddhist master Je Tsongkhapa.
4. Buddhism is very different to other world religions in that it relies upon "lineage" and does not place quite such exclusive emphasis on its founder as religions such as Christianity or Islam.
5. The Dalai Lama wishes to be the "Pope" of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and dislikes this practice because it emphasises the value of maintaining the purity of the tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. He is also using Dorje Shugden practice as a scapegoat by saying that this practice damages the cause of Tibetan indepedence - a patently ridiculous claim.
6. People may be able to practise it privately and secretly if they wish, but why should they have to disavow a spiritual practice in which they have faith? Apparently there have also been reports of people's houses being broken into and searched for images of Dorje Shugden.
7. It is the Dalai Lama himself who is responsible for sowing dicord within the Tibetan community. The Tibetan community has been split into those who wish to continue with their practice of Dorje Shugden and those who regard Dorje Shugden as an evil Chinese spirit and hate those who refuse to comply with the ban and to continue their worship of Dorje Shugden. The WSS is merely trying to draw the world's attention to this situation, and to get the Dalai Lama to lift the ban.

I do understand your perception of this situation as a rather self-centred opportunity to embarass the Dalai Lama. However, I think that if you look into the situation more you will be able to see the situation in different terms. The Swiss documentary about this issue avaliable on You Tube might be a good starting point.

Z said...

I had similar questions and found the answers here... just screen the web pages here and the headings of each section tell pretty much the bottom line.

I have other questions:

Why care a lot for the Tibetans' suffering caused by the Chinese but care less for the Tibetans' suffering caused by the Dalai Lama?

What make us think that Tibetans can practice and enjoy freedom of religion even in private, against the Dalai Lama's personal beliefs on religous practices? (Haven't read what the Dalai Lama has done and does to prevent this?)

Why the Dalai Lama should be respected and supported nevertheless he is committing human rights atrocities to achieve his political plans and enforce his personal beliefs... and why the Chinese should be stoped at any cost?

Why the Dalai Lama's personal belief on a religious practice justifies his human rights atrocities?

Why would people make public demonstations and statements that undemine the authority and embarrass the politicians that commit human rights atrocities?

Why anyone, even if regarded as the Dalai Lama of Tibet, would enjoy of international immunity to commit human rights atrocities to achieve any political cause or, worst, to enforce his personal beliefs?

Wisdomsword said...

Cardano, you've asked some good questions and are getting some good replies, thank you everyone. Hopefully, these questions and answers will help more people understand the situation. I also plan to post some longer replies on the blog itself.