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Are Dalai Lama's critics backed by China?

by Meindert Gorter, New Statesman, August 27, 2008

Followers of the Dalai Lama claim that China is behind dissent by those who question his ban on the worship of Dorje Shugden

London, UK -- It has been 12 years since I first heard Dorje Shugden’s name. Under normal circumstances it's best not to talk about protectors openly. This is because protectors can lose their strength for a person, and you don't really want them to expire.

<< Buddhist monks and nuns of Shugden Society demonstrate against the Dalai Lama in front of New York's Radio City Music Hall on July 17, 2008. Ed Ou / AP

Best kept in silence, they serve as fuel on the path to enlightenment. In monasteries protectors’ shrines are closed, only to be opened on special occasions. That is how one should treat their guardian angel, for to secretly cherish them helps to fulfill one's commitment.

Lets have a look at a non-Buddhist example. Elie Wiesel, the Jewish writer, said that his thoughts when waking up were always of war and how it could be possible for mankind to be so cruel. He used the thought of suffering as an anchor in his mind. In this way the suffering during the war provided him with the energy to work relentlessly to gain insight and write, with the hope of preventing the human race from making the same mistakes again.

Buddhists too are worried about human suffering and want to work towards enlightenment.

Now a person could try and be a good Buddhist, but at the same time they could be having mundane things on their mind that are likely to take them offtrack. Not every Buddhist wakes up with the thought to relieve mankind of suffering, most need a special wake up call. My teacher’s teachers used the thought of Dorje Shugden to keep their mind on the right track, as did the Dalai Lama’s teachers, and many more in Gelugpa and Sakya lineages.

Buddhists generally don’t say one lineage is better than the other. However we do place maximum trust in our own teachers, while at the same time always examining the purity of their words. Their words are not easily put aside and are highly respected. This is because they are seen to be Buddha’s own words coming to us in the present. The wisdom they carry has the power to cause enlightenment, with which a lot of suffering could come to an end. If you find you can’t trust your teachers purity, either your teacher is no good and has other things than Buddhism on his mind, or you yourself are having trouble understanding what Buddhism is all about.

Deity Dorje Shugden is said to be the spirit of Tulku Dragpa Gyalchen, a famous enlightened practitioner living contemporaneously with the fifth Dalai Lama. He turned out to be more famous and loved than the Dalai Lama himself, which incited jealousy amongst the Dalai’s entourage. Eventually he was brutally killed by some of the servants of the fifth Dalai while he was away from home. Being enlightened, the Tulku had to help his assailants in the killing of himself. Being absolutely pure their arrows and spears could not hurt him, they only produced extra eyes on his body.

He told his assailants he had a little leftover negative karma that could be used to kill him in a very violent way. This made him a powerful protector. At the moment more versions of this story circulate, but this is the one that the present Dalai Lama himself must have heard from his teachers who initiated him in the practice, the ones he now says made a mistake in relying on this deity. His criticism of his own teachers comes conveniently at a time when they have all passed away. So now others who shared the same teachers criticize the Dalai Lama. In response, some of the Dalai Lama's supporters claim his opponents are being supported by China.

"The Shugden and the Chinese are obviously allies," the Tibetan prime minister in exile Samdhong Rinpoche said in a recent interview with France 24 TV. "Their cults all over the world are financed by the Chinese."

The Dalai Lama says he has investigated this matter to his utmost capacity. However in the end this was his decision: Ban the ghost.



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