⒈ Dorje Shugden Essay

Friday, August 27, 2021 1:32:47 PM

Dorje Shugden Essay

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Who is Dorje Shugden? - Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Basically it seems to me that what we are dealing with here is a controversy between Traditionalists and Modernisers. Like all Dharma Protectors Dorje Shugden is a fierce figure who unusually however appears in the form of a Gelugpa monk. He is considered by some of his followers to be an emanation of Manjushri, although others including I think the New Kadampa Tradition appear to consider him to be a fully enlightened Buddha of whom Manjushri is himself an emanation. The Dalai Lama, on the other hand, considers Dorje Shugden to be simply a worldly deity—a figure of great power but no intrinsic spirituality—of doubtful reliability and not a Buddha at all, or even a bodhisattva.

Thus as regards the doctrinal dispute, for one side it is a matter of relying on a Buddha, albeit an apparently rather fierce Buddha; for the other if they take refuge in a worldly deity then this is to abandon taking refuge solely in the Buddha and thus to abandon the very definition of being a Buddhist. From such a perspective if one is not careful this could easily degenerate into a Buddhist version of demon-worship. The practice of Dorje Shugden goes back to the I7th Century, but it has been particularly predominant in the 20th Century among followers of the controversial Gelug lama Pabongkhapa, who died in The problem is that Pabongkhapa was renowned for being—or at least held by followers of other schools of Tibetan Buddhism as being—extremely sectarian and intolerant of other schools.

The practice of Dorje Shugden was considered at least by other traditions as having been developed as a form of Gelug triumphalism and aimed at bringing into play a Dharma protector for the magical suppression of the other schools, or at least their marginalisation. In particular it was considered that the practice of Dorje Shugden was aimed at the Nyingma pa tradition. In the later s and early s there was fierce controversy among certain Gelug, Sakya and Nyingma Lamas in India over Dorje Shugden and his status, which the Dalai Lama attempted to cool down.

The material has been published and is available in Tibetan. The Dalai Lama himself was apparently urged by Trijang Rinpoche to undertake the practice of Dorje Shugden and eventually declined. For some time His Holiness has been sensitive to the problems with this practice in promoting a perceived sectarianism, and he had urged that the practice be undertaken only in private and not promulgated. He also said that those who would take himself as a spiritual master and respect him, and those who work for the Tibetan Government in Exile, should not engage in the practice of Dorje Shugden.

This means also that those who would take Tantric initiations from him should not engage in the practice either. If a Tantric master gives initiation to those who take refuge in a worldly god and therefore do not have a pure Buddhist refuge then this can rebound on the health and life of the Tantric master. It looks as though what has happened is that recently he has started to put this opposition to the practice of Dorje Shugden forward with greater urgency, perhaps in connection with his attempts to encourage a democratic political system for the Tibetans within which the old sectarian and regional rivalries and antagonisms could have no place.

It is this issue which is far and away the main issue in the controversy between the Dalai Lama and the New Kadampa Tradition, which has been running for some years. It is surprising that there are followers of the NKT who seem to be unaware of the dispute, but it has been marked for some time by the absence of any pictures of the Dalai Lama in NKT centres. One can indeed understand the perspective of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso et al. The Dalai Lama as both a political and a spiritual figure considers that this practice is not skilful or suitable for the present situation of the Tibetan people or Tibetan Buddhism in the world. From the perspective of the NKT the Dalai Lama and his followers have abandoned and abused a Buddha or bodhisattva and a crucial dimension of the Gelug tradition.

Thus the NKT wants to claim at least de facto that they now represent the true Gelug tradition. The NKT does. Hence the importance of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his many books , and the direct linking by his followers of Geshe Kelsang himself with Shakyamuni Buddha and the original founder of the Gelug tradition, Je Tsongkhapa. I do not know of the truth of the stories of widespread active suppression of the practice of Dorje Shugden in India.

Judging by the figure of four million supporters, I would however be inclined to be rather sceptical of such reports coming from the Shugden Supporters Committee. He has not given one single valid reason to prove that Shugden harms his life, harms Tibetan people, or harms Tibetan independence. It is clear he is lying. Through checking carefully and honestly everybody can understand that he is lying.

As a result non-Shugden practitioners have become extremely angry with Shugden practitioners. They have forcefully expelled Shugden practitioners from Tibetan society, using public humiliation, provocation, intimidation and threats, including dismissing them from their jobs, refusing them basic services and publicly spreading lies about them. The Dalai Lama is an ordained Buddhist monk.

Buddha said that ordained people should never harm a single living being or cause anyone suffering, but the Dalai Lama has harmed and is continuing to harm millions of innocent people by causing them completely unnecessary suffering, fear and danger. In one month alone, February , he expelled innocent Shugden monks from the Tibetan community. All of these monks were very poor, and they lost everything, including care and support for their daily lives received from their relatives, friends and community. They had no idea where they should go or who would support and help them, finding themselves refugees for a second time.

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