Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mountain Phoenix on Dorje Shugden

I'd like to draw your attention to a couple of blog posts by Tibetan Mountain Phoenix on her blog 'Mountain Phoenix over Tibet' which provides some interesting analysis of the Dorje Shugden issue from a less biased point of view than other Tibetan commentators:

Even though the blog posts are a couple of years old, the issues she refers to still pertain, unfortunately. For example, in her first post, amusingly titled 'Ghostbusters: I ain't afraid of no ghost', she says:

Even if the pro-ghost people were all unpatriotic, selfish, pro-Chinese, Kundun-haters, and devil-worshippers, I’d wish Kundun followers wouldn’t behave like riffraff. Honestly, it’s not flattering to the Dalai Lama to have such a following. I would wish for His Holiness to distance himself from this kind of behaviour. And I would also wish he would stop raising the issue in public. From an innocent bystander view, it would be more effective to debate the issue with the defiant Lamas and Geshes directly. After all, it’s them who are meant to be persuaded. The collateral damage of raising the issue in front of the public has reached a frightening dimension.

Actually, I wish Kundun would consider dropping this thing altogether - just like some of the Tibetan-language media. He has successfully discouraged the practice for years. So then the ones who remain stubborn just can’t be helped, can they? Why not leave it at that? There can’t be too many renegades left by now, can there? A couple of Lamas here and there, most keeping a low profile. If Kundun stops to speak against the practice, they will stop defending themselves. If he intensifies his efforts, they will too. The way I see it, Kundun can control this
'Kundun' is a name for the Dalai Lama. The destruction of Dorje Shugden practice has been an obsession of the Dalai Lama's for over thirty years. He can't stop mentioning it in public. As Mountain Phoenix says:
The collateral damage of raising the issue in front of the public has reached a frightening dimension.
It certainly has. Every time the Dalai Lama mentions it, there is a witch hunt in which innocent Dorje Shugden practitioners are persecuted. They are already denied basic human rights such as travel permits, education and medical treatment. They are also barred from shops because of their religious beliefs. This has gone on for far too long now, and has even resulted in a split in the spiritual community. Dorje Shugden worshipping monks have been expelled from the monasteries under the control of the 'Ganden Podrang' or Tibetan Government in Exile and have had to build their own monasteries of Shar Gaden and Serpom. The division caused by the Dalai Lama's words is probably irreparable, even if he were to retract his statements tomorrow.

Mountain Phoenix wants to say this to the Dalai Lama:
Dear Kundun, do you surf the net sometimes? - I really hope so. I humbly wish you would read what a fellow Tibetan has to say and people like Acha Purbu-la think. I wish you would agree that this ghost hunt leads us nowhere and is disrupting social harmony. I wish you would stop making the ghost an issue and lead us again on the path to cope with the big problems that lie ahead of us as a people.
Sadly, because she follows the Dalai Lama, she refers to Dorje Shugden throughout as 'a ghost', even though later she acknowledges that there is a view held by some that he is a Buddha:

To be fair to the other side, I should mention that they don’t think they are worshipping a ghost. For them, the ghost is an enlightened being (a Buddha or something to that effect). A view, that many people don’t like to hear, no Tibetan media reports on, and nobody wants to openly talk about. Nevertheless, if the other side believes the ghost is a divine thing, it’s their right. Just as it’s the right for the mainstream to believe the ghost is a deamon. Believe one or the other but keep quiet. Or opt out altogether and keep quiet.
She refers to the view that Dorje Shugden is a demon as mainstream. This shows how much damage the Dalai Lama's views have caused in thirty years. Through blind faith in 'Kundun' and his draconian ban on the practice, Tibetans have turned away from the practice of Dorje Shugden, a once mainstream Gelugpa practice, with the result that those who are sincerely wishing to keep their commitments to their spiritual Teachers and who steadfastly refuse to abandon the practice have been marginalized and ostracised from Tibetan society.

Her final conclusion, from her later post '"Evil Spirit" puts Tibetan democracy to test' which is fairer and more balanced:

The way Tibetans have been handling the Dholgyal/Shugden issue says quite a bit about the state of our democratic values. We Tibetans are okay with dissenters being forced into obedience. We see nothing wrong with this political style. We have no issues with the Dalai Lama exerting pressure on dissenters by using secular government organs and tolerating oaths and signature actions in his name. Some even believe it is their duty to expose Dholgyal/Shugden supporters and slander them.

Sadly, we can report that not much has changed since Mountain Phoenix wrote her original blog posts two years ago. The Dalai Lama is still speaking out against the practice (even as recently as last month) and Dorje Shugden practitioners are still ostracised and vilified by the majority of Tibetans.

Dalai Lama, please give religious freedom.