Whenever the Western Shugden Society (WSS) demonstrate, there always seem to be a few individuals waiting to jump on the blogs to insist that the WSS is the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).
This theory is incorrect.
As it says on the Western Shugden Society website (translated into 9 languages):
“The Western Shugden Society (WSS) is an ad hoc coalition of Dorje Shugden practitioners from many different countries. The immediate aims of the WSS are expressed in a recent letter we sent to the Dalai Lama.”
The WSS includes many Tibetans, both in India and in countries in the West. For example, if you look at the WSS website, particularly at the news reports from the demonstration at Colgate University, you will see photos of some of these Tibetans in the West.
The Tibetans who are suffering under the Dalai Lama’s ban and subsequent ostracism and human rights abuses in India are of course not free to travel to demonstrate – they need identity cards to do anything and are not issued these if they are Dorje Shugden practitioners. The WSS is demonstrating on their behalf. At this point, the Dalai Lama cannot force Westerners to give up their practice of Dorje Shugden, although he has created a great deal of tension and bad feeling in Western Buddhist Centers through his actions.
As one Tibetan, Tenzin Gelek, said today in reply to a blogger (June 12 2008):
“Western Shugden society is coalition of Dorje Shugden practitioners around the world including Tibetan. It is not NKT group. We do share same lineage and teachers. As a Tibetan I am very grateful to all demonstrators for bringing helping us Tibetan, who are suffering, because of this ban. The suffering of Dorje Shugden practitioners in Tibetan Exile is true and real. Many westerners are misinformed by Dalai Lama and his publicity machine accusing Dorje Shugden practitioners as support by Chinese and devil worshipers or there is no real ban. Until 1996 we all lived in harmony in monasteries and Tibetan community. Dorje Shugden practitioners are suffering, monks are kick out of monasteries, children are ban from school and denied aid given by western aid group etc. We urge all freedom loving peoples of world to support our religious freedom and human rights. Thank you all.”
If you read the account of the demonstration given earlier on this blog, you will also get more of a feeling for who is in the WSS.
As for those who follow the New Kadampa Tradition, it is clear that many Kadampas are also Western Shugden Society supporters as they rely upon the practice of Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden. However, by no means all WSS supporters are NKT, not even a majority. There are potentially hundreds of thousands of WSS supporters worldwide and over the coming months (or years if needs be) they will engage in more and more activities to bring the Dalai Lama’s unlawful and unconstitutional actions to light. For example, check DorjeShugden.com for some other Western Shugden practitioners and ShugdenSociety.info for some of the Shugden practitioners in the exile community in India.
In May 2008, at the Spring Festival at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (the Spiritual Director of the NKT) explained that he was supporting these demonstrations because the spiritual lives of Shugden practitioners throughout the world are in danger and he wants to help them.
This is the motivation of many of the people practicing in the New Kadampa Tradition. As one NKT practitioner expressed it: “For example, I am an NKT practitioner, but I am also individually and by choice (not by NKT policy) a supporter of the Western Shugden Society as I want to help restore the religious freedom of Shugden practitioners in India -- those are two different hats.”
If the demonstrations were organized by the NKT, there would have to be a decision taken by the NKT Board of Directors. But they have never met about the issue nor made such a decision.
Finally, it is worth noting that NKT practitioners are free to attend the demonstrations or not as they choose (and they do choose), as these have nothing to do with the NKT organization.
and in India: