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.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
a first-hand account