Thursday, May 7, 2009

Prayers to Dorje Shugden by revered Gelugpa Buddhist Masters


Sebastian said...

Check out this perceptive and factual article from the book by an academic called Jane Ardley (

The Tibetan Independence Movement: Political, Religious and Gandhian Perspectives (pp. 175)

During the late 1990s a dispute emerged within the Tibetan exile community that illustrates perfectly why Tibetan politics must become fully secularised. A long-standing issue in the Tibetan community has been the worship of the deity Dorje Shugden, considered to be the spirit of a seventeenth-century monk, Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen, who protects the Gelug sect and its members, particularly from the influence of the Nyingma sect. Worship of this figure is especially popular in eastern Tibet, and the present Dalai Lama prayed to Dorje Shugden for many years. However in 1976 the Dalai Lama announced he was advising against the practice because it was promoting sectarianism, which could potentially damage the Tibetan independence movement. Twenty years later, in 1996, the Dalai Lama went further and announced that members of both government departments and monasteries under the control of the Tibetan exile administration were forbidden from worshipping the spirit because the ‘practice fosters religious intolerance and leads to the degeneration of Buddhism into a cult of spirit worship’. This led to a massive outcry from Shugden supporters, particularly in Britain. The Dalai Lama was accused of religious intolerance and provided an opportunity that was not missed by Beijing, who used the dispute as a further reason to denounce the Dalai Lama. In December 1998 the first secretary of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi was reported to have visited a Tibetan settlement in southern India notorious for its support of Shugden.

Although a report by Amnesty International exonerated the Tibetan government in exile of human rights abuses, the unfortunate fact remains that the Dalai Lama, as political leader of the Tibetans, was at fault in forbidding his officials from partaking in a particular religious practice, however undesirable. The whole Dorje Shugden affair was an illustration of the complexities of the relationships, both religious and political, between the sects in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. While the Dalai Lama’s stated concern, that worship of the deity threatened the Tibetan struggle, is entirely valid from a political perspective, this was not cause enough to ban it as a religious practice. It was also difficult to justify on the grounds that China would manipulate the issue, though this was extremely likely to happen. Rather, the Dorje Shugden affair was an example of an issue that should have remained completely in the religious arena and should not have been politicised at all. However, given the two concepts remain interwoven in the present Tibetan perception, an issue of religious controversy was seen as a threat to political unity. The Dalai Lama used his political authority to deal with what was and should have remained a purely religious issue. A secular Tibetan state would have guarded against this.

While Gandhi insisted that religion and politics were inseparable, it was not this view that dominated the post-independence Indian state. Congress were resolutely secular, as they recognised that no single religion could be allowed to dominate government, having seen the damange that religio-politics could inflict during Partition. The Dalai Lama, a staunch admirer of Gandhi, should be aware of this. Although it was appropriate for the Gandhian infusion of religion and politics to influence the practical ‘means’ of independence, in other words, satyagraha, Gandhi’s religious ideas did not influence the political thinking of the state-builders of the new India.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for Tibetans: religion may have a place in the practical means of resistance and protest, but it should not play a role in the government in exile, which, it is intended, should form the government of a future Tibet. Although Tibetans inside and outside Tibet may use some form of religious ritual or religious justification in their protest, this does not mean the government in exile should interpret all protest in religious terms. Nor does it mean that religion has to then infuse political life at an institutional level. For true Gandhian techniques to be developed, the Tibetan political process would need to become resolutely secular, while leaving religion to continue to play a role at grass-roots level.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these videos.

I saw them and was speechless.

I just couldn’t imagine any of the Abbots of the Gelug monasteries telling these revered masters to abandon the monastery, the Dorje Shugden practice or else.

Maybe that is why the Dalai Lama had to wait until all these revered masters were gone to enforce his decision to abandon the Dorje Shugden practice.

Revered masters, with the aim to gain spiritual realizations, see Dorje Shugden as a Buddha, Dharma Protector. Positive view, with positive results.

The Dalai Lama, with the aim to become the master of all Tibetan Buddhist Traditions and become the head of “Tibetan religion”, see Dorje Shugden as sectarian, harmful sprit. Negative view, with no positive results.

Rather than emulate those revered masters the Dalai Lama and maintain a positive view, he preferred to build up a cult of personality also changing others’ view. No wonder the Chinese fear the Dalai Lama’s power and political aims, which cause bad karma to ripen.

We all know that power and politics are very good conditions for bad karma to ripen. It is not necessary to have clairvoyance or higher realizations to know this.

Even politicians know, as I remember having read that a U.S. Governor said: “I think the fatal flaw of a lot of people in politics is that they want to be loved.” This is clearly bad karma ripening.

Too bad we created the collective karma to experience this situation. We should not blame others for our misfortune and failures. Otherwise we would not be able to love them all.

We need to love others, by keeping a warm heart and a feeling of being close to others without exception… This is necessary, in short, to be happy and complete the path enlightment… as I was recently advised by a revered master and Dorje Shugden practitioner.

So no hard feelings :)

Thom said...

Why did Samdung attempt to bailout of the TGIE?