Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Al Jazeera News Documentary Video on Dalai Lama's ban ~ Transcript

Here is a full transcript of the recent footage on Al Jazeera, called The Dalai Lama: the devil within.

Hello and welcome back.

The Dalai Lama is revered as a hero by his people and respected worldwide for his peaceful philosophy. But a number of exiled Tibetan Buddhists living in India no longer believe in his leadership. They are accusing him of religious discrimination.

At the heart of this dispute lies a Buddhist Deity Shugden. Considered a god by some and a demon by others.

The Dalai Lama has banned worship of Shugden. In May, 400 monks were thrown out of monasteries because of their religious beliefs and Shugden worshippers have been shunned by other Tibetan Buddhists.

On the streets of the Tibetan refugee camp of Bylakuppe in southern India, Delek
Tong, a Shugden worshipping Buddhist monk, is no longer welcome. 

(Delek Tong) "Look at this, it says: 'No Shugden worshippers allowed.'"

"Hi, I worship Shugden, can I come in?"

"No, I am sorry, I don't want you or any Shugdens in my shop."

The Dalai Lama has asked the Tibetan community to stop the worship of the 400 year old Deity Shugden.

"When you followed the Dalai Lama's advice, did you not forget that us Shugden are also Tibetans like you?"

What this means in practice is that Delek Tong cannot walk into this shop because of his religious beliefs.

"I have taken an oath and I won't have anything to do with the Shugden poeple who are doing bad things for the Tibetan cause. I won't do anything he says. But he is telling the truth. I'm not a person who just blindly believes someone. I believe someone who is telling the truth. Here Dalai Lama always tells the truth."

(Another monk) "What do you think you are doing? Aren't you ashamed of yourself? We are both Tibetan monks. The Dalai Lama is our only protector."

(Delek Tong) "I am not violating the teaching of Lord Buddha."

(Another monk) "You have nothing to do here. There are certain rules in worshipping idols. If you don't do it right your idol becomes the devil."

For some, Shugden is an idol that protects you from harm. For the ones that follow the teachings of the Dalai Lama, Shugden is simply a spirit that brings evil.

"This is a sensitive issue. Filming is not forbidden. But filming these Shugden people can create a lot of problems. Be careful what you say in front of the camera. We are going through a critical time."

"Can you please stop. Otherwise I'm going to break that camera. I said I'm refusing all this and you are taking again and again."

Now this Deity is at the center of the controversy. On the one hand, the Dalai Lama wants to ban it; on the other, there are more than 4 million people across the world that worship Dorje Shugden.

According to the Buddhist tradition, the deceased monk came back as a spirit and was deified by the 5th Lama. Ever since, Shugden has been revered as a Protector Deity.

The worship of Shugden is a sensitive issue that is creating tension in the exiled Tibetan community. Last January the Dalai Lama asked his community to stop the worship of the 400 year old Deity so as to end the divisions.

Dalai Lama:
"I used to worship Shugden. The spirit was very fond of me. However, I realized it was a mistake. So I stopped. Recently monasteries have fearlessly expelled Shugden monks where needed. I fully support their actions. I praise them. If monasteries find taking action hard, tell them Dalai Lama is responsible for this. Shugden followers have resorted to killing and beating people. They start fires. And tell endless lies. This is how the Shugden believe. It is not good."

For Mai and her family, Shugden remains a protector. Her family have been worshipping the Deity for generations. Because they have defied the rule of the Dalai Lama, they have been ostracized from the community.

"They have made separate rules for us. They said that no one is supposed to talk to us. And no one is supposed to have any contact with us."

"If he is really Buddha, if he's really God, he would not create so much problem. He won't give us so much trouble. If he is the Buddha, he would not give any problem to any human being."

"Dalai Lama is being unfair and selfish. He is doing his own wish."

The decision to ban the worship of Shugden was taken here in Dharamsala. Since 1960 there are 46 MPs working here to decide the affairs of Tibet and the refugees living here. This is the heart of Tibetan democracy.

“Did you debate about Shugden in parliament?”

(Tsultrim Tenzin):
"There was no argument. There was no argument. If there is some opposition then there will be argument. But there is no opposition. We do not have any doubt about Dalai Lama's decisions. We do not think he is a human being. He's a supreme human being and he is god. He's Avalokiteshvara. He has no interest of himself. He always thinks of others. Everybody is happy. In our system everybody is happy because there is full democracy. Everybody can express whatever he likes."

So why are Shugden people discriminated from the community? We asked the Prime Minister what he thought about the signs posted outside the shops.

(Samdhong Rinpoche):
"That is true. ‘Who have not disassociated the perpetrating the spirit, kindly not come in this shop.’ This is very clear. Then why should they go into that shop? That is unfair on their part. A lot of Shugden perpetrators are becoming terrorists and that they are willing to kill anybody. They are willing to beat up anybody. It is very clear that now people who are perpetrating Shugden are very close to the PRC leadership. That is clear."

Being linked to the PRC, the People's Republic of China, is the highest act of treason in the eyes of the Tibetan government in exile. 

No Shugden worshipper has ever been charged or investigated for terrorism and yet the monks that continue to worship Shugden remain victims of name and shame.

"What the posters say is that we are related to the Chinese government. We don't have anything to do with China. There is no proof, yet many people are harassing us and threatening us."

Fearing for their lives, these Shugden monks are now living in hiding in a monastery in southern India where they sought refuge after being told they must leave their monastery.

Now these monks living here in India have taken matters into their own hands. They've decided to take the Dalai Lama to court on the grounds that he is breeching their freedom of religion.

Thubten is on a campaign to gather evidence of religious discrimination. 

"Why I am here - I am working very hard for religious freedom. I fight for religious freedom. So therefore, I'm here. There is no chance to have religious freedom. If you fight for religious freedom with the Tibetan exile government, then automatically they will put your picture on the poster and everybody says, “Don't talk to them. Don't listen to them.” So therefore, we haven't any chance to tell our truth all over the world."

With the help of rebel monk Kundeling Rinpoche, they are taking the most famous ex-Shugden practitioner, the Dalai Lama himself, to court.

"So there is no democracy. The man, Dalai Lama, talks about democracy, talks about compassion, talks about dialog, talks about understanding, talks about a solution, but for us there is no solution. There is no dialog. There is no understanding. There is no compassion. Because in his perception we are not human beings. We are just evil. We are evil and we are agents of the Chinese. That is what it is. It is as simple as that."

With just a few days to go before the Dalai high court hearing, Kundeling and Thubten meet with their lawyer.

(Shree Sanjay Jain:)
"It is certainly a case of religious discrimination in the sense that if within your sect of religion you say that this particular Deity ought not to be worshipped, and those persons who are willing to worship him you are trying to excommunicate them from the main stream of Buddhism, then it is a discrimination of worst kind."

No matter what the outcome of the court case, in a country where millions of idols are worshipped, attempting to ban the Deity is an uphill battle. One in which many Buddhist monks have lost their faith in the spirit of the Dalai Lama.

Earlier this month the Dalai Lama's lawyers requested a 3-month extension on the   grounds that he was ill. The case will be heard on the 9th of December and we will definitely keep you updated.


Anonymous said...

I´ve got a question for you:

How is posible, at the ligth of such evidences, that people in western countries, trust the words of this ordinary man?

I think that must be something very very wrong in our culture and society ( we think that we live in a rational and civilised culture, but the Dalai Lama issue tell us something very diferent; it tell us that we DEAL WITH THINKS IN A IRRATIONAL WAY RESPONDING EMOTIONALLY WITHOUT THINKING SO MUCH, WE JUST LET OURSELVES BE MANIPULATED BY MEDIA. In some sense, it´s easier understand tibetan people being cheated by the man that they believe to be a king god, they have been educated to believe that; but what excuse have we got?

I think that most of times our behaviour is not so different of tibetan people, maybe more sofisticated, "more educated" if you want, but I see the same sickness a NO THINKING APROACH TO THINGS AND SITUATIONS,

Anonymous said...

This persecution has been going on for years. Why has nothing been done about it? When the evidence of persecution is now everywhere, why are people not questioning the Dalai Lama?

From an article in the New Inernationalist ten (yes ten) years ago:

Deity banned
Outrage as Dalai Lama denounces Dorje Shugden

Buddhists picketed the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the United States and Europe. They protested against the ban on the worship of the 350-year-old deity, Dorje Shugden, whom they say is one of the most revered in the Buddhist religion. In 1996 the Dalai Lama announced that worship of Dorje Shugden was banned and explained that his oracle, Nechung, had advised him that the deity was a threat to his personal safety and the future of Tibet.

The Tibetan Government-in-exile said its employees must stop worshipping the deity or be sacked. The office of the Dalai Lama told the superiors of the Sermey Monastic College in Bylakuppe, India: ‘If there is anyone who continues to worship Dorje (Shugden), make a list of their names, birthplace and class... Keep the original and send us a copy of the list.’

According to PK Dey, a human-rights lawyer from Delhi: ‘Those worshipping Shugden are experiencing tremendous harassment. It is not in a particular part of the country, but everywhere there are Tibetans. Dalai Lama supporters are going from house to house searching.’ For example, in Clementown, India, the house of a family of Shugden worshippers was stoned and then firebombed. Wanted posters describe people believed to be Shugden leaders as the top ten enemies of the state. The posters have been put up in monasteries, settlements and in Dharamsala by the Government-in-exile’s Department of Security.

Dorje Shugden worshippers say the ban and its implementation are in direct conflict with the proposed constitution of a free Tibet, laid down by the Dalai Lama in 1963. The constitution states that all religious denominations are equal before the law, and every Tibetan shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. But when Dorje Shugden worshippers challenged the ban, the Tibetan Government-in-exile stated that: ‘Concepts like democracy and freedom of religion are empty when it comes to the well-being of the Dalai Lama and the common cause of Tibet.’

During recent peace vigils a petition with 15,000 signatures was handed to the Dalai Lama stating the need for all Tibetan traditions to flourish. Protesters asked him to sign a declaration of freedom to worship Dorje Shugden. The Dalai Lama refused.

He says that he banned the worship of Dorje Shugden because it is a divisive deity that causes sectarianism among his followers, and is leading to the degeneration of Buddhism. But in doing so he has left many Tibetans confused. Gonsar Rinpoche, a Tibetan Lama who has worshipped Dorje Shugden throughout his life, says: ‘I cannot accept this ban on Shugden. If I accept that all my wise and great masters are demon worshippers, then their teachings are wrong, everything they believe in is wrong. That is not possible.’

Sara Chamberlain

Pema Schneider said...

See the Dalai Lama talking about the ban in 2008 and 2013.
Contradictions in Dalai Lama's speeches on Dorje Shugden.