Thursday, November 24, 2011

Abbot of Gyumed Tantric College Speaks Out on Dorje Shugden

Gyudmed Monastery Kensur Sonam Gyaltsen’s Letter to Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan Government-in-exile
An open Letter to Gelug Monasteries & Sangha Regarding Dorje Shugden

Dear all Gurus and monks,

Regarding the letter sent December 30, 2010, and received on January 13, 2011. The content of this letter asked me to give up the protector practice, let me explain:

In 1996 I was the Khenpo (abbot) of Gyudmed Monastery, at that time, from the Khenpo to the new monks at the end of the seats, everybody was to submit a statement to stop propitiating protector. Besides this, the letter also mentioned that we must make sure to cut off all Dharmic and worldly connections with people who pray to Gyalchen (Dorje Shugden) Protector. Such an order is impossible to carry out, please allow me to state my reasons:

Jangtse Dratsang (Gaden Monastery North College) is not a newly built monastery in India, there have been many Gurus, Rinpoches, and Geshes who propitiated Gyalchen Shugden: the attained Gurus that spread the Dharma nectar to learning monks in the Dratsang – Serkong Dorje Chang, his incarnation the 2nd Serkong Dorje Chang, Kenchen Tendakwa Rinpoche, Phara Rinpoche Lobsang Yeshe Sonam Chokyi Wangchuk, (Hardong) Geshe Rinpoche Kenrab Samten, (Gowo) Kensur Yeshe Gawa, (Tsawa) Drokmi Jampa Lodro Rinpoche, (Gowo) Geshe Nyima Gyaltsen, (Gowo) Ken Rinpoche Sonam Kunga.

These great Lamas are great masters who taught Sutra and Tantra teachings in Jangtse Monastery, if we swear to cut off all Dharmic and worldly material relationship with them, it is totally unacceptable. Forcing ourselves to cut off all Dharmic and worldly material relationship with our Gurus is something impossible to do even for non-Buddhists, let alone Buddhists like ourselves. 

Where did you get your Sutra and Tantra lineage from? Maybe you dug it out from the ground. 

Ken Rinpoche Sonam Kunga tirelessly taught us a lot of great scriptures, he received the teachings from his Gurus and Geshes. From Serkong Dorje Chang to Ken Rinpoche Sonam Kunga, and all the Dratsang great masters in between, it is widely known that they practiced protector Gyalchen Dorje Shugden.

You forced us monks to cut off all Dharmic and worldly material relationship with them, I cannot do it, because I am a monk, according to Tibetan traditional vinaya code a monk is not allowed to swear. This code is also in Shakyamuni’s Vinaya scripture towards the end, page 392, you can go and check for yourselves. You should request Samdhong Rinpoche, “Please be compassionate, don’t let the monks swear, because monks are not allowed to swear.” But you didn’t request, and you followed Samdhong Rinpoche’s order and you swore, and caused the great Gaden Monastery to fall apart into different factions. I did not swear because I did not want to create schism among Sangha. Some people abuse the vinaya power in their hands, this is widely known, it is like our Tibetan proverbs “The person in charge of the water flour mill is not the main person-in-charge, the head of the farm village is not the government officials.”

I have already quoted the scriptures for you in my letter above, and have shown to you with valid and solid proofs that Gyalchen Dorje Shugden is a saint, is a protector, is a Gelug protector. I am not trying to show off my knowledge in my letter, I wrote it because I had no choice.

It seemed like our government-in-exile had nothing better to do, they spent so many years to create chaos, excommunicate many monks, divided a fine dratsang into two factions, I wrote this letter because I had enough, it is too much.

Regarding Dorje Shugden, we just have to check the historical materials and we will understand the original facts. I wish the unnecessary chaos created in these 40 years can be pacified very soon.

This letter is sent to the religious department, Samdhong Rinpoche and various dratsangs, please read it openly in front of all sangha.

Gyudmed Monastery Kensur Sonam Gyaltsen
January 13, 2011
written in
West Europe

Gyudmed Kensur Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Gyudmed Kensur Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche, or known as Geshe Sonam or Gen Tati, was born in the Year of the Tiger fire, the 13th day of the first Tibetan month (March 13, 1926), in a large family of nomadic herders in Atsa Region, between Kongpo and Kham in central Tibet. Rinpoche entered religious life at the age of 5.

On March 23, 1959, like thousands of his countrymen, Rinpoche fled Tibet for exile in India. In 1971, Rinpoche passed the exams of “Geshe Lharampa” (Doctor in Buddhist philosophy) where he obtained the first rank.While at Gaden Jangtse, Rinpoche studied under teachers like Phara Rinpoche, Geshe Samten Kenrab, Geshe Nyima Gyaltsen, Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche.

In 1974, Rinpoche completed a 600-pages doctoral thesis which the theme focuses on “mental images” at the University of Varanasi, India.  Rinpoche arrived in France in 1980, where Rinpoche lived until 1990. That year, Rinpoche was appointed as the Vice-Abbot, then three years later, the Abbot of Gyudmed Dratsang until 1996. After that, Rinpoche returned to and lived in France.

From 2002 to 2006, Rinpoche went into ​​a solitary retreat. Since 2004, Rinpoche devotes his time to writing. Rinpoche completed a treaty on the Vinaya, specifically the ordination of Bhikshuni. It traces the history of the introduction of the Vinaya in Tibet and chronicles the debates, the decisions taken by great masters, and supporting references.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Dorje Shugden Practitioners are not Isolationist - Part 2

Monks being forced to vote on a 
religious practice is  clearly wrong
Isolationism was intensified when in 2008 the Dalai Lama started a new phase of persecution against Shugden practitioners. Whilst ostensibly on a religious visit to Drepung Loseling monastery in South India, instead he instigated a political referendum on whether the monastery wanted Shugden monks to remain in their ranks. He forced the monks to vote by having them select a stick of either red (for Dorje shugden) or yellow (for the Dalai Lama) colour in a public referendum. Very few monks were brave enough to go against the Dalai Lama and as a result of the 'referendum' which was undemocratic and unconstitutional - since when do monks engage in a political vote on a spiritual practice? - nine hundred monks were expelled from their monasteries. The Dalai Lama himself is on video shamelessly praising the Abbots of the monasteries for expelling the monks. 

This intensified the schism in the Sangha that the Dalai Lama has instigated with the introduction of the ban in 1996. Eventually the monks found a home in two new monasteries that were purpose built for them by various Western benefactors, Shar Gaden and Serpom. It was clear that the monastic community was completely split. High walls were erected between the new monasteries and the old to separate the two factions.

The Central Tibetan Administration quickly introduced a process of oath-swearing for Tibetans whereby the had to swear in front of Palden Lhamo not to share material or spiritual resources with Shugden practitioners. Just as the monasteries were divided, this split families and set family members against each other as some swore and some bravely refused. The suffering that this caused was incredible and further isolated Shugden practitioners, making them pariahs in their own communities. It's difficult to believe that a so-called 'Buddhist' society could countenance this, but out of blind faith in the Dalai Lama, the ordinary people have instigated his evil actions. There are many examples in history where the weak have been influenced by powerful and charismatic dictators to create evil - this unfortunate situation is just another one of those.

All of these actions, instigated by the Dalai Lama, clearly show that he is not a qualified Buddhist Teacher, nor even a Buddhist, as it is a commitment of Buddhism not to harm others.
(continued in part 3)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Dalai Lama: "Shugden practitioners: you're not welcome"

Dalai Lama: "don't come and
receive teaching  from me"
We recently received another sad proclamation from the Dalai Lama, who regularly makes an issue of the practice of Dorje Shugden in his public teachings, and encourages his followers to stop this venerable, traditional Dharma practice.  This time his teaching is from Mongolia.

We're grateful to the Dorje Shugden Society for translating this news item which appeared on Norway Tibet Radio (Voice of Tibet) on 9th November 2011:

Broadcaster: Since the Dalai Lama is giving Avalokiteshvara initiation tomorrow, he has announced that Dholgyal devotees (Shugden) should not attend the initiation. He also said the propitiation of Dholgyal has caused detrimental to the harmony among Buddhists.

Dalai Lama: Today it is like I am giving a lecture. It is not necessary that you listen by recognizing me as Guru. It is alright if you come to listen, saying what Dalai Bashi is  saying. Tomorrow you will take a teaching. I am giving an initiation. I am giving vow. Therefore there will be Guru and disciple relationship. Pure commitment is  necessary. During the course of initiation, the pure commitment is necessary. In time, I worshipped the so-called King Shugden. I didn't know and I make a mistake. Then, having paid attention, it was wrong. Also, during the course of through analysis, king Shugden emerged during the time of the fifth Dalai Lama. If I say about the way the fifth Dalai Lama recognize king Shugden, according to his text, the nature of king Shugden is evil spirit; its cause was the wrong prayer; and its function is to harm Buddhism and living beings. So if you say this is a protector of Buddhism, or a protector of Gelug Tradition, it is disgrace and shame. Je Rinpoche has empowered and entrusted Six hands Mahakala and Dharmaraj. Je Rinpoche has seen capability in them. Simply speaking, he didn't empower them on guesses. (laugh). If you worship king Shugden, you have broken commitment with the fifth Dalai Lama, and so to the thirteen Dalai Lama. If you receive an initiation from me, you will break commitment with me. If there is anyone who worship king Shugden – actually it is your choice whether or not you worship - , please don’t come to receive teaching from me. If you are a monk or a lay, please don’t come tomorrow. If you are deceived by saying that business and luck would flourish, you should stop from now. You don’t need to be afraid at all. In case a case is necessary to be filed, I would file the case. You don’t need to be afraid. It is a freedom if you contempt although you know it is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you walk upside down.
The only detriment to harmony is the Dalai Lama's sectarian and exclusive attitude towards Dorje Shugden practitioners.  He alone is destroying harmony in the international Buddhist community by making an issue where is none.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Dorje Shugden Practitioners are not Isolationist - Part 1

Some people criticise Dorje Shugden practitioners for being 'isolationist' or 'sectarian', but it's important to understand why these perceptions have come about because it may appear that 'Shugdenpas' have deliberately decided to separate from Tibetan society or Tibetan Buddhism as taught by the Dalai Lama, however, as will be explained, this is not the case.

Despite showing an open and 
accommodating face to Westerners, 
the Dalai Lama is a religious dictator
 who controls Tibetan Buddhism 
The principal cause of isolationism is ostracism by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama for political reasons. The Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden, but unlike some religious disagreements where there is a 'live and let live' attitude, the Dalai Lama will never allow anyone to remain neutral on the issue. He has forced Tibetans to swear an oath in front of the Tibetan protectoress Palden Lhamo not to share material or spiritual resources with Shugden practitioners. Thus, it's not possible to abstain or remain neutral on this issue if you are Tibetan, because if you do not swear an oath, you are excluded from Tibetan society.

This ostracism began very early on, in fact, as soon as the Dalai Lama decided, for incorrect reasons, to stop practising Shugden. He then formed a plan to destroy the practice by exploiting the blind faith of the Tibetan people which has been encouraged by giving many public Kalachakra empowerments. The problems started in 1976 when the Dalai Lama gave up the practice. This caused many problems from the beginning. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explained how this ostracism began:

Out of sectarianism, the Dalai 
Lama has made it impossible for 
Shugdenpas  to be his students
Lama Yeshe was the general spiritual director of Manjushri Center, while I had the responsibility of organizing the daily programmes. We were both very happy to have the picture of HH the Dalai Lama on the shrine because we hoped that the people of Manjushri and HH Dalai Lama would develop a good spiritual connection and relationship. Many times we invited the Dalai Lama to come to Manjushri Centre, although we both knew, even then, that he had rejected the practice of Dorje Shugden. We assumed it was not his real intention because we found it difficult to believe that he really wanted to destroy the practice of Dorje Shugden.
So for a long time we continued to practise Dorje Shugden and kept faith in the Dalai Lama. Then later the situation deteriorated because he intensified his ban on Dorje Shugden worship. I heard that he said in public that those who practise Dorje Shugden cannot be my friend. Then my mind gradually changed, especially as we received criticism from people who were saying that Manjushri Centre had broken its guru devotion to the Dalai Lama because of our continued practice of Dorje Shugden. As his picture was on our shrine, people believed that he was our root Guru -- on the other hand because we practised Dorje Shugden people thought we were against the Dalai Lama. Due to this contradiction we received a lot of criticism.
The Dalai Lama never visited Manjushri Centre because he was displeased that Lama Yeshe and Geshe Kelsang continued to practise Dorje Shugden.

Because the Dalai Lama's stance on Dorje Shugden was not to allow any religious freedom, Tibetan Buddhism began to polarise into two distinct camps – those who followed the Dalai Lama's view that Dorje Shugden was a harmful spirit and those who had faith in the traditional Gelugpa lineage view of Je Pabongkhapa and Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang that Dorje Shugden was a protector aspect of Je Tsongkhapa himself. The Dalai Lama made it clear on many occasions that he wanted to eradicate the practice of Dorje Shugden completely, and so it became a case of 'if you're not with me, you're against me'. This caused a lot of suffering for Shugdenpas who were torn between their faith in the Dalai Lama and their faith in their Lineage Gurus and Shugden himself. They had to make a choice, and no choice was comfortable as it involved the loss of something precious in either case.

(to be continued in part 2)