Friday, November 21, 2008

A response to "India Update – Present Situation" on Tenzin Peljor’s anti-Shugden blog

On his anti-Shugden blog, Tenzin Peljor posted an “update” from his friend, a Western monk visiting India. Even reading between the lines of this monk’s account from Sera Monastery, there is something really quite sinister going on in this enforced segregation of monks. It is also not made any the less sinister by a Buddhist monk attempting to justify it:

- By all accounts the situation at Sera, despite the anti-Dalai Lama vitriol of some Shugden monks in the breakaway faction of Pomra Khangtsen, is largely peaceful. In fact, the demands of WSS have already been met! Both sides are continuing their practices without interruption and, through the division into two monasteries, there has been little conflict to mention the past two months. Both sides have kept all their own buildings and no one is homeless as a result of this dispute.
- The seperation has in fact eased tensions and made it easier for both sides to focus on their divergent goals.

In fact, the WSS aims have not been met at all. It is most regrettable that the monks should be separated. Segregation did not work out too well in the South of the U.S. or in South Africa.

However, if the choice is between “separate but equal” (Jim Crow) or being deprived access to basic social services, then separate but equal is better. The question is then whether Shugden practitioners are still denied access to shops and medical care within the monasteries and nearby communities? It would appear that yes, they are, and there are accounts to show this.

If within the monastery they wish to keep things separate to keep the peace, this is better than nothing, despite the sad irony that the peace was only shattered in the first place by the forced signature campaign. But if in the larger Tibetan community, Shugden practitioners are shunned and denied equal access to public places, then clearly there is a problem.

- The Shugden portion from Pomra Khangtsen at Sera Mey (about 120-130 monks and novices) is not attracting any new Tibetan monks as those who come into exile do so in the spirit of being close to HHDL.

This is actually a pretty disquieting statement. To see why, and what is going on here, please read the account of the sixteen young refugees who escaped Tibet last year to come to Pomra Khangtsen but were turned away (and beaten) by the ironically named “Tibetan Reception Center” as they would not renounce their worship of Dorje Shugden. This might explain why Pomra Khangtsen is “not attracting any new Tibetan monks”!

Here is another update from India from some bhikkshus who are living through the ban and segregation and others who are witnessing it. This report, quoted in blue, answers the specific points made in Tenzin Peljor’s monk’s report:

More recently, no Tibetans have been able to come into exile because of the recent uprisings in Tibet. Once things calm down, refugees will again try and come to India for schooling and monastic education. But what will happen when they arrive in Nepal? They will approach the Tibetan Reception Center (TRC) in Nepal, and later in Dharamshala. They will be asked if they are worshippers of Dorje Shugden or not. If they are, and if they do not sign their names to saythey will give up their religion, they will be accused of being enemies of the Dalai Lama and they will not be given the necessary recommendation letter to join any monastery in India. Without this letter, no Abbot is permitted to admit them.

On February 23rd, 2007, Tsering Dondup, the General Secretary of the Department of Religion & Culture (from the Tibetan Government in Exile) sent a letters to the Abbots and staff of every Gelug monastery. It read:

“Even at the head Tibetan Reception Center they are explaining why H.H. the Dalai Lama has banned the worshipping of Dholgyal (Dorje Shugden) to our brothers who newly arrived from Tibet.” … The Reception Center must explain as before why H.H. the Dalai Lama has imposed a ban on worshipping Dholgyal. If, despite your explanations, they don’t listen and take a strong stand, there is no way to let them go to any of the Gelug monasteries, including Sera, Drepung and Ganden, as has been happening until today.”

Tenzin Peljor’s monk continues:

- Most of the Tibetan Pomras have left the Khangtsen and re-joined Sera Mey. Especially the young monks want no part in the vitriol of the more militant leaders who now largely control the breakaway faction. The nasty rhetoric spewing forth from several of the leaders of the faction against the Dalai Lama, in the words of this monk “literally had the monks running out the door back to the majority faction of the monastery.” The nasty comments and lies are so poisonous even many monks loyal to Shugden cannot stand it and have left the monastery altogether.

Now, lets ask why monks from Pomra Khangsten would leave? If you were a Shugden practitioner, treated as a pariah by your former friends and Abbots and made to live in separate quarters, falsely accused of being a demon worshipper, a Chinese traitor and an enemy of state, how brave would you have to be to stay put? How soon would you succumb to the pressure to renounce your faith so that you can return to the main part of the monastery and be on the side of right and might again? Especially if you were young and saw your whole life ahead of you as one of exile, an object of suspicion and contempt? It takes a great deal of courage to stand up for your religious beliefs against those in power, as has been seen throughout history in many different parts of the world.

It is not rather cynical to call the Shugden monks a “breakaway faction”?! These are the same poor monks who were forcibly expelled from their monastery for refusing to renounce their faith in the forced signature campaign. They did not leave because they wanted to! They were pushed out. They were not trying to start a new movement – they just wanted to continue in peace with the practice that had been done for generations in the monasteries.

In terms of supposedly spreading vitriol against the Dalai Lama, lets face it -- anyone whoever questions the Dalai Lama about anything is accused of this. The fact is that all Shugden monks were friends of the Dalai Lama and respected him, many used to have great faith in him; and having to defend themselves against him is incredibly painful.

The position of Shugden practitioners is that everyone should be free to practice as they wish and they seek mutual tolerance and respect between the different traditions, something they themselves are denied. However, there is nothing wrong with informing people of the Dalai Lama's actions and explaining why they are self-contradictory and harmful. Then others are free to decide.

Besides, as the sources in India point out:

Many monks have indeed left Pomra, and many monks still remain in Pomra. But those who left Pomra did so under pressure and fear of being deported from India. The word has been spread widely: “If Shugden devotees do not give up, they will be thrown into the street”. Not only that, but they have been threatened with being driven out of India in the name of an organization called the “Himalayan Cultural Association”.

Pomra monks have no animosity toward these monks who have left. People are free to practice or not as they choose, and will not be asked to give up that choice.

These days, monks who want to join a monastery come from Tibet. For Tibetans living in exile and abroad, it is very rare for them to ask for their children to be admitted into the monastery these days. They are not prepared to send their children. They prefer sending them to school and college. They have seen too many who have disrobed, and monks who disrobed earlier had no other skills and therefore no choice but to join the army divisions or sell sweaters on the street.

Now due to too many problems in the monastery, monks from both sides are not happy. They do not feel like staying in the monastery, so they leave and, when they can, go to America and Europe. You can now find hundreds of ex-monks, including many Geshes, in New York and other places in America and Canada. They are working as laborors in restaurants, shops and factories. Some of the more fortunate monks, or those who have a link with the Buddhist Centers, have the opportunity to teach Buddhism.

Most of the monks who joined the monastery at the beginning of 80 are hardly found in the monastery any more. There only remain a few senior monks who came to India in 1959. Many have passed away.

There are many monks who stayed in the monastery for three years and then left for abroad. Every day, two or three monks from all the Tibetan monasteries go abroad to Europe, America, Canada, South America, Asia. (American visas are difficult to get. Some apply three or four times. If you get an American visa, people think you get a ticket to paradise.) If a Shugden monk has an Indian passport, then he can go. Otherwise, as a Tibetan refugee, a Shugden monk is not issued the Identity Card or Certificate, which is the necessary traveling document for Tibetan refugees.

Every year, fewer and fewer monks join the monasteries, so most Tibetan monasteries now have a lot of Nepali monks.

As for the false claim that Pomra is recruiting Nepali children and then teaching them to hate the Dalai Lama, this is denied.

Pomra now has over 400 monks, over two hundred of whom are living outside the monastery. The majority are Tibetan. There are almost 100 Nepali monks. No one was made or taught to worship Shugden. They came to the monastery to learn Buddhism. They are taught to respect all religious beliefs, and never speak badly about other religious beliefs. The monks usually study the five texts, Valid Cognition, Perfection of Wisdom, The Middle Way, The Treasure of Knowledge and the Vinaya. Dorje Shugden is the Dharma Protector of Pomra. He is propitiated in the assembly hall once a month and at the end of puja.

No one is against the Dalai Lama. No one has developed enmity towards him despite the persecution and discrimination over more than a decade.

Tenzin Peljor's monk continues:

- Despite threats from Shugden worshippers, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will perform hundreds of bhikshu ordinations for novice monks of both Sera Mey and Jey this year around Losar at Sera Monastery.

What threats?! Where is there any sign of threats? This is typical propaganda. Of course HHDL would love to perform hundreds of bhikshu ordinations for novice monks, and that’s fine – but in which case, how can the Shugden monks be hypocritically accused of bolstering their numbers? One thing is for certain: none of these novices will ever hear a good word about Dorje Shugden.

The Bhikkshus continue:

Monks in Sera and Ganden are not happy that the Dalai Lama is about to visit again. Every time he goes there, he stirs up the Shugden issue, and then there is a problem. There are many monks who are not from Pomra who are also complaining: “Why is the Dalai Lama coming to the monastery so often?” A month to go, and people are expecting worse things to happen in the monastery. They think: “The Dalai Lama is coming. He will definitely make the matter worse. He is making this visit as an excuse to retaliate for the worldwide protests and Delhi High Court Case.” Whenever the issue calms down a bit, the Dalai Lama comes along and says something to raise the issue again. Every time he comes, he says something that provokes people.

Tenzin Peljor's monk says:

- His Holiness has continued to withdraw from any political responsibilities in order to allow the Tibetans to take charge of their own future. This indicates all the talk about him being a dictator is baseless. The current meeting is being held largely in his absence, and on Phayul you can read a document where he begs the Tibetans to discuss every option openly.

The Dalai Lama said he has withdrawn from political responsibility but he is still the political head and he always will be. Although the present meeting about Tibet’s future is called a public meeting, eventually they will do what the Dalai Lama wants. He himself avoided attending the meeting to try and show that he is not involved. They are holding the meeting now. I will give you their resolution: their resolution will be that the majority of public want to follow the Dalai Lama’s way.

Pomra monks have to seek food, water, medicine etc themselves. Mostly they are supported by Pomra. No one else supports them. But they are fine with these things, they have faith, as Buddha said: “My practitioners will not starve.”

The situation is relatively peaceful in Sera for the time being. But peace can be destroyed at any time. Shugden and non-Shugden monks live in separation. I don’t think Shugden monks will be allowed to live peacefully.


Thom said...

All of the accusations coming from this monk are as ridiculous as the Dalia Lama now portraying himself as a beneficent Dictator struggling for true democracy. After all these years, this Dalia lama has been unable to create a democratic government for this ragtag of refugees.

He now faces the New Delhi High Court for his violation of India's Constitution and her protective measures to ensure people have the right to believe as they choose to believe. He cannot hide from the Law!

Thom said...

Tibetans once again acknowledged their traditional theocratic beneficent dictator as the Supreme Leader of their cause. Whatever that might be in reality?
The absurd notion that the Dalia lama represents anything even romotely resembling a democratic leader is as big a joke as Tibetans actually capable of governing themselves witin the framework of a democratic system. It would appear that once a people become no more than chattel controlled by a potentate,will always be as serfs and slaves as long as Dl torments them with false promises and hopes of an actual return to a homeland that never existed except in dreams and movies.

Jimmy Marsden said...

This ban has also led to schisms in the West. Check out:

"The 16-year-old Tibetan Association of Western Massachusetts, with about 130 members, has voted to disband following a split vote, according to one of its founding members."

"It's really heartbreaking," said Sonam Lama, a Deerfield stonemason and founding association board member who said he voted against the disassociation. Lama is not a believer in Shugden but sees the issue as one of freedom of religion and expression by Tibetans in this country.

Lama, who immigrated to this country in 2000, said, "I don't understand the Dalai Lama's thinking.

He said the "segregation" of followers of the 400-year-old deity is especially pronounced in India, with some retailers even refusing to allow believers in their shops.

Gail McFadden said...

The Times of India Editorial on November 27 reports on the meeting about Tibet's future, pointing out something we already knew:

"And while the Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that the Tibet issue is not about him but about all Tibetans, the end result of the special meeting bears out China's stance: in spite of his democratic rhetoric, the Dalai
Lama has never empowered Tibetans to feel comfortable taking stands at variance with him. Accusations of disloyalty to the Dalai Lama remain a weapon in political and personal feuds in Dharamsala."

For the full article:

Thom said...

TOP ARTICLE | He Has Got It Wrong
27 Nov 2008, 0000 hrs IST, Elliot Sperling

Print Email Discuss Share Save Comment Text:

Bloomington: In the end, China was right. It is all about the Dalai Lama. Following a week-long "special meeting" to discuss the future of the
Tibetan movement, delegates from various points in the Tibetan exile world agreed, more or less, to continue with the Dalai Lama's 30-year-old policy of accepting Tibet's place as a part of China while seeking greater autonomy within the Chinese state. One says "more or less" because reports have emerged that the meeting was weighted against those groups most obviously dissatisfied with the policy.

It was not the policy that sold itself but the person from whom it emanates. China has long placed the Dalai Lama's status at the centre of its negotiation stance, offering him a nominal position should he return. And while the Dalai Lama has repeatedly stated that the Tibet issue is not about him but about all Tibetans, the end result of the special meeting bears out China's stance: in spite of his democratic rhetoric, the Dalai Lama has never empowered Tibetans to feel comfortable taking stands at variance with him. Accusations of disloyalty to the Dalai Lama remain a weapon in political and personal feuds in Dharamsala.

But several weeks before the meeting the Dalai Lama stated that he was losing faith in China, and many Tibetan exiles energetically responded with calls, not for violence, but to make Tibet's independence once more the official Tibetan position. They certainly felt there was good reason for concluding that negotiations with China had reached a dead end and that the Tibetans should minimally reclaim the legitimacy that their cause had lost through years of the Dalai Lama asserting (often at China's prodding) that Tibet should not be independent and that it was to Tibet's benefit to be a part of China. As far as the advocates for Tibet's independence are concerned, those benefits had been on ample display in Tibet during March and April.

In 2002, following a decade without direct talks, Dharamsala once more began sending delegations to Beijing to discuss the Tibet issue. Periodically the Tibetan representatives delivered cautious assessments, citing the positive steps taken by both sides to better understand each other's position. For many observers, however, it seemed clear that these talks were never meant to go anywhere. They were, rather, devices for marking time while China waited for the Dalai Lama to pass away. The talks also provided a convenient display of engagement at times when it was expedient to deflect international concern over China's policies and human rights violations in Tibet.

That China was uninterested in reaching an arrangement with the Dalai Lama became obvious before discussions began. But after the latest round concluded earlier this month their futility was obvious. The perennial Tibetan delegates, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, returned to India, vowing to make no statement before the special meeting. But there was no need for them to speak. Within days, Zhu Weiqun and Sithar, their Chinese counterparts in the meetings, held a press conference and bluntly said the talks had gone nowhere. They rejected any compromise with the Dalai Lama on any of his proposals about the nature of autonomy within Tibet and stated that, while the door was open for him to return, he must reflect on his mistakes "and return to the correct and patriotic stance". And so, after almost 30 years of contacts China signalled that they had never advanced beyond square one. It's only about the Dalai Lama; otherwise there is no Tibetan issue. And the signals were given without any attempt to disguise China's awareness of holding the upper hand: having successfully staged the 2008 Olympics and poised now for a major role in addressing the global financial crisis, China thumbed its nose at the Tibetan delegates who returned to India in silent embarrassment while Chinese officials let the global media in on the failed discussions.

Naivete has marked the Dalai Lama's dealings with China. At China's insistence he long ago repudiated Tibetan independence, delegitimising the concept in a way no Chinese leader could ever do. But he has yet to understand that he was willingly led to a dead end. Under present-day conditions, it is unlikely that demands for Tibetan independence would have brought the movement any closer to a resolution of the issue. But they could not have left Tibetans in a weaker position than they are now in; indeed, the international taint that attached to China's possession of Tibet would have remained an advantage.

The Dalai Lama has helped remove that taint and now, after the special meeting, he remains the arbiter of the Tibetan position. Noticeably gloomy, he opined a few days ago that at least he still has faith in the Chinese people. One must ask whether he is aware of the vast groundswell of popular Chinese antipathy to Tibetans that came in the wake of the March events. In the 1990s he was in the habit of referring to Deng Xiaoping as his old friend. If Deng knew of this, he must have been bemused (or baffled) by such professions of friendship. Throughout the abortive negotiation process the Dalai Lama would seem to have been similarly speaking to imaginary friends, something most people stop doing at around age five.

The writer teaches Tibetan history at Indiana University.

Thom said...

Considering the 5th Dalia lama was a War Lord. Who enlisted the aid of the Mongolian Cavalry to slaughter his Tibetan opposition in his coup to take over the land, we now call Tibet. The Dalia Lama lineage has ruled Tibet as ruthlessly as any dictator for nigh over 350 years. This 14th Dl is only intent on provoking dissnt within the Tibetan population by torturing them with the beleif that one day they will return to thier fictional fantasy land. Where 95% of the people lived no better than serfs and slaves and received mutilation for Justice.
He is the Deceiver and should be ignored. He has no moral high ground. He is nothing other than a man in guicchi shoes with a rolex wearing robes and lying to maintain his ruse.

Thom said...

When China becomes more democratic, with freedom of speech, with rule of law and particularly with freedom of the press ... once China becomes an open, modern society, then the Tibet issue, I think within a few days, can be solved," the Dalai Lama said.
Talk about he kettle calling pot black!
This man becomes more and more absrd with every word he utters. His accusation towards China for it political postion is only an expression of his own inability to even grasp the most fundamental aspects of a true democracy. He's been beating this dog for over 350 years as a dictator. Why the world is blind to his true nature becomes more mysterious with each day. He is not the elected had of anything and refuses to allow anyone else to take the reign of power. Once he dies the Tibetans will be so bewitched following a ruthless dictator, they will simply die on the vine in confusion and ignorance. Why he torments people is beyond my comprehension. He is the one dividing the people and nations with his beguiling lies and deception is disgusting. What kind of Buddha_God_King dallies in the world the way he has for his life. None! He is the Crusader of Lies! It would appear that the Europeans still cling to Medievalist and Potentates.