New Internationalist

Buddhists at loggerheads

‘It’s too confusing for me,’ I heard a student confessing outside Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre.

To the right was a group of Tibetan exiles with their brightly coloured flags, here to greet the Dalai Lama on the Oxford leg of his UK tour. In the middle, a smaller group of Chinese students with one large red Chinese flag and a poster showing a wedding against the backdrop of the Potala Place – presumably to suggest the ‘happy union’ of China with Tibet.

But to left, was a much larger group of maybe 500 people bearing two big banners which read: ‘Dalai Lama: Stop Lying!’ And for those of us who couldn’t read, they chanted the same lines – like a stuck record, for four hours. ‘But they aren’t Chinese!?’ said the confused student. ‘They’re not Tibetan!?

It was true: I looked but could not spot one Tibetan among them. Although many were garbed in the robes of Tibetan Buddhism, the assembled protesters were overwhelmingly white and British. ‘Why are all these British people protesting against the Dalai Lama?’ the student went on, in his determined fog of un-enlightenment. The simple answer is that they were from the Western Shugden Society which is accusing the Dalai Lama of violating the human rights of Buddhists by ‘banning’ a prayer to Dorje Shugden, a deity central to their practice.

To explain their case they called a press conference at Oxford’s prestigious Randolph Hotel. Spokesperson Kelsang Pema (aka Helen Gradwell) claimed that in recent months hundreds of monks had been expelled from their monasteries and that devotees were being attacked and discriminated against in Tibetan communities in India. She claimed that more than a third of Tibetan exiles were adherents of the practice. Tibetan refugee Diki Dolma, who has connections with both Britain and India commented: ‘That’s nonsense! We know the Tibetan exile community and we know it’s just not true. Very, very few follow this practice. I feel sorry for these protesters. I think they don’t know much about Buddhism. They make out they are monks, but, look they don’t even know how to wear their robes properly!’

The emergence of such an orchestrated protest at this time – and the personalized and vituperative nature of the attacks against the Dalai Lama – raises other questions. ‘We are not connected with China,’ insists Helen Gradwell. ‘The Dalai Lama is mixing politics up with religion but we are not. We are not political. We have no position on Tibetan autonomy.’ Asked whether it bothered her that protesting at this time might be playing into the hands of the Chinese authorities, she said that the fault lay with the Dalai Lama for banning the prayer.

To add to the confusion the Office of Tibet in London claims that the Dalai Lama has not banned the prayer. He is ‘advising’ against it – but saying that those who choose to ignore his advice this cannot expect to attend his teachings. He considers Dorje Shugden a ‘fierce spirit’ which can be used to curse others. Devotion to this spirit is seen as encouraging sectarianism, harming the prospects for Tibetan autonomy and, indeed, the Dalai Lama’s own longevity.

In 1997 Indian police investigations linked the murder of three Tibetan monks, who had been outspoken in critics of Shugden practice, to members of the Dorje Shugden Society who escaped over the border to Tibet. The Chinese have been actively encouraging Tibetans to practise the Shugden school as a way of reducing the power of the Dalai Lama, said a spokesperson from the Free Tibet Campaign.

When monks in Tibet’s Ganden monastery destroyed a statue to Dorje Shugden they were arrested by the Chinese authorities and ordered to pay for a replacement. The fact that the Dalai Lama is being accused of precisely the charges he levels against the Chinese authorities – abuse of human rights, lack of freedom of speech – has not gone unnoticed by his supporters.

‘We assume that China is behind it but we don’t have the evidence to prove it,’ said one Tibetan exile, who did not want to be named. Towards the end of the demo in Oxford a man standing close to the Shugden contingent started up his own separate and not altogether intelligible chant. Nearby, I could hear a tall British monk saying into his mobile phone, ‘It’s alright now. The police are coming for him.’ And sure enough the man was promptly bundled off by two officers.

‘What about his freedom of speech?’ I asked one of the Shugden stewards. ‘He was just causing trouble,’ came the reply. Er…

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  1. #19 Stephen 30 May 08


    I do this practice and it is certainly never used to curse anyone. The prayer is to Dorje Shugden to request help with spiritual practice ie generating postive minds of love and compassion and protection from obstacles to this.

    Dorje Shugden is not a bad spirit but an enlightened being and this practice has been and is taught by many great masters of the Gelugpa Lineage.

    The Dalai Lama himself was given this practice by his spiritual guide and practiced it until he was 50.

    On one hand the Dalai Lama says he has merely advised against it which is fair enough but in reality he does everything he can to force Tibetan people to stop. Monks expelled from monastries people getting attacked and many other terrible things.

    Perhaps China does exploit this problem to their benefit but Dorje Shugden practicioners have no connection with the Chinese.

    If you look into this issue although the history and arguments about Dorje Shugden are complex you will see the Dalai Lama lieing and contradicting himself on this issue. For one he says there is no ban and no problem when in reality there is a ban and many many problems are made for faithful Dorje Shugden practicioners.

    Why does he do this? I think because the pure lineage of Dharma practiced by Dorje Shugden practicioners will not fit in with or go along with his vision of combining all Tibetan Buddhist lineages into one with him as its head. So he uses his position to destroy and discredit it.


  2. #20 Johnny 30 May 08

    re:Buddhists at loggerheads

    Not just in Europe.

    His Eminence Gangchen Rinpoche is a faithful follower of Dorje Shugden, just like Dalai Lama's own teachers Trijang Rinpoche and Pabonkhapa Rinpoche.

    For an alternative view of the controversy go to His Eminence's website here:

    Or you could try the Swiss documentary on the issue from 1998:

    Or the New Internationalist's own report on the issue from a few years back:

    As far as religion is concerned, the Dalai Lama, as an initiated Buddhist monk, trashed his belief by violating the Buddhist doctrine, trampling the religious rules and raped the religious passion of Tibetans. He picked the reincarnation for the Panchen Lama without following the official procedure, chose a foreign national for a living Buddha, and chose several reincarnations for one living Buddha in total disregard of relevant rules followed in Tibet for centuries. This so-called "protector of human rights" and "guardian of religious freedom" persecuted members of other sects within the Tibetan Buddhist community to purge those who disagreed with his devious ways. As well as his acts against the Dorje Shugden practitioners, he has angered the Sharmapa and caused a split in the Kagyu school by agreeing with the Chinese who should be next Karmapa, when it was by tradition the Sharmapa who should choose:

    The Shamar Rinpoche has this to say about the Dalai Lama:

    "But if His Holiness is merely using his immense popularity in the Himalayas, in India , and around the world in an attempt to usurp control over the Karmapa Labrang, then I must respectfully reject his opinion about Rumtek. I realize that HH Dalai Lama wants to unite the Tibetan people to work for their freedom. But that is no reason to trample on the human rights and religious freedom of Buddhist believers. As our cause is just, so we should respect human rights in all situations, not only when it is convenient for us to do so.

    All leaders, no matter how virtuous, must have limits on their power. Many popular, charismatic leaders in the past have used popularity and prestige to set themselves up as dictators. Perhaps these leaders had good intentions and hoped that by increasing their own power they could accomplish more good in the world. But in the end, absolute rule has always led to suffering.

    I hope and pray that His Holiness will not act like such a dictator, and that he will not use mass support to claim authority over the Karmapa that he does not have and to trample the religious freedom of Karma Kagyu believers."

    Shamar Rinpoche's response to the attack by Dalai Lama supporter Robert Thurman:

  3. #21 a protester 30 May 08

    check the facts

    everyone has the right to _peaceful_ (even if loud!) freedom of speech. the police moved that gentleman on presumably out of concern that he was becoming potentially unpeaceful in his expression of his opinion. no one has the _right_ to be violent or abusive.

    please - go and check out the facts. don't take anyone's word for anything - not ours, and not the Tibetan Government's.

    they say "there is no ban" but the Dalai Lama has, repeatedly and on record, referred to this very "ban"* - as a direct result of which people _are_ suffering terribly, losing their freedom, being socially excluded and worse.

    but please - don't take my word for it. go and find out for yourself. the clear and plentiful evidence is there to be seen: the Dalai Lama is not what he seems.

    and still many people say that _we_ are mislead, confused, or lying.
    so - are we?

    * On May 8th, 1996 in a public address in Dharamsala (on video tape), for example, the Dalai Lama says, "It has been twenty years since I first mentioned the Dorje Shugden public restriction (ngas dam.bsdrags Also, in an address on May 5, 1996, the Dalai Lama says, "It may have been about ten years ago... I once gave my reasons for issuing the ban." (Tibetan: dam.bskrags); Select Addresses of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the Issue of Propitiating Protector Deities, Sherig Parkhang, Dharamsala, July 10, 1996, p. 175; and "In this way came the reasons, on account of which I have issued the ban (Tibetan: dam.bsgrags) in recent times. In banning [this reliance on Shugden], many came forward and declared that henceforth they will abide by my injunctions...." p. 183.

  4. #22 Daniel 02 Jun 08

    Please help

    Surely of all publications the NI could properly investigate this issue - Buddhists do not protest against the Dalai Lama unless it's for a very good reason. Since 1996 Tibetan Dorje Shugden practitioners in India - some of whom helped the Dalai Lama escape from Tibet - have been ostracised and physically attacked due to being conveniently branded as 'enemies of Tibet.' Now in 2008 this misfortune is worsening following the Dalai Lama's tightening of this unlawful ban. Western Buddhists who try to help them through peaceful protests are dismissed as agents of China - how long will it take before the facts emerge?

  5. #23 Lineageholder 04 Jun 08

    Please Investigate

    Dear Vanessa,

    Please go to India and investigate this issue; see for yourself the suffering that the Dalai Lama has inflicted on innocent spiritual practitioners who refuse to conform with his ban on this Deity. It's an abuse of human rights and unconstitutional, being against the law of Deity worship in India. Please investigate and report what you see. Thank you!

  6. #24 Jampa 20 Jul 08

    Dorje Shugden

    Hi, I am the owner of dharmadhatu weblog and not HE Lama Gangchen.But He is my teacher.I myself do not propitiate Shugden and Rinpoche never proposed me to do so.On my site I only show both sides and arguments.The Geshe Kelsang people get no support from me.I have followed the teachings of HH the Dalai Lama and ofcourse my rootlama Lama Gangchen Rinpoche.Rinpoche is the living embodiment of equanimity and love.He regrets the split in the Tibetan world deeply.He collaborates with the chinese when this is needed to promote peace and help to his people in Tibet.He is lives in Italy.
    His advice is : no politics !Peace with everything and everything with peace.

  7. #25 michael.jaeckel 10 Sep 08

    Check out more

    These two sites may be of help for more background information:

    They were produced by a monk who was affiliated in the past with the protesters and HE Lama Gangchen.

  8. #1 Johnny 18 Sep 08

    Poor Journalism

    I'm sorry but this is very poorly researched. The following article published in New Internationalist about 10 years ago seems better informed:

    You could also try the Swiss TV documentary on this which is available on Youtube and the recent France24 documentary.

  9. #2 Lyara 18 Sep 08

    This article is full of misinformation and sounds subjective rather than journalistic, as if Vanessa Baird cannot believe that anyone other than Chinese could find a fault in the Dalai Lama.

    I notice that you had comments on this article not too long ago but that these have all been removed, so I am reluctant to write more in case you plan on deleting these comments again? Please advise.

    In the meantime, your readers may be interested in looking at other points of view on or

    Thank you.

  10. #5 phillip_at_newint 18 Sep 08

    Missing comments

    Hi Lyara,

    Thank you for your comments. If you've been here before, you might notice that we recently re-designed the blog section of the NI site.

    During this re-design, we replaced the commenting system that we were using to make the process of registering and submitting comments easier.

    Unfortunately, we have not had time to migrate all of the comments that were in the old system yet. Rest assured it's on our (long) list of things to do.

    This new blog just went online a day or two ago ... so please be patient. We'll have those old comments back up in no time.



  11. #3 Lyara 18 Sep 08

    France 24 TV documentary

    Here is the URL for the documentary mentioned in the first comment:

  12. #4 Lyara 18 Sep 08

    The New Statesman on this controversy

    And finally, the UK periodical, The New Statesman, recently featured this controversy in four parts, each of which attracted a great deal of attention. Here is the last of the four parts:

  13. #6 Lyara 19 Sep 08

    Missing comments

    Thanks Phillip!

  14. #7 Khedrup 20 Sep 08

    the other side

    For people to make an informed opinion of this dispute it is good to understand the nature and history of the practice. This can be done by examining this academic paper (written by a Buddhist scholar who completed the Geshe degree and teaches in a university):,com_docman/task,doc_view/gid,159/Itemid,48/

    You can also examine these websites for another view:

    and the view of HHDL:

    There are historical reasons that this practice is problematic, and the statement that Shugden devotees are completely non-political is inaccurate. Some are very political, such as Kundeling Losang Yeshe who has vocally approved the occupation of Tibet by the PRC.

  15. #8 Tenzin 20 Sep 08

    Let's stay on solid ground...

    Dear Johnny, it's the same old way of Shugden followers, what does not follow their point of view is ’poor journalism’ while their propaganda sites are very good and reliable?

    Dear Lyra,
    please don't misinform the reader, it is not New Statesman who offers the four articles but the columns were written by a follower and representative of the highly controversial Kundeling lama. The articles lack sources and claim things which are his beliefs but not necessarily true.

    My response to that is this:

    Also my unlock page may be of help for another perspective:

    Best Wishes, Tenzin

  16. #9 Tenzin 20 Sep 08

    Video by A Buddhist Monastery

    To balance France 24 this Video by Buddhist monks and nuns from the Buddhist Monastery Path Hue, Frankfurt am Main, Germany maybe also of help:

  17. #10 Johnny 21 Sep 08

    solid ground


    You are saying that the France 24 documentary and the Swiss documentary from 1998 are not solid ground? You are also saying that the 1998 article from New Internationalist is not solid ground?

    None of these sources are from WSS.

    This article quotes no sources and merely repeats the claims made by the Dalai Lama without any critical examination. No antithesis is offered so we can explore the issue.

    The underlying theme seems to be that the word of the Dalai Lama cannot be questioned. Understandable if he is a spiritual leader. Unhealthy if he is political.

    In the article, the opinion of an anonymous Tibetan bystander is taken in itself as proof. For a magazine that is usually fairly sceptical, not to say iconoclastic, this is not normal behaviour. It shows how much we in the West want to believe in the myth of Tibet.

  18. #11 Johnny 21 Sep 08

    the other side


    If Kundeling Losang Yeshe has approved the occupation by PRC, then he is in very good company as the Dalai Lama himself accepted PRC government in the mid 90s.

  19. #12 Tenzin 22 Sep 08

    Solid Ground

    I didn't judge the France 24 TV or Swiss TV production previously. I criticized your approach of blaming articles not supporting Shugden followers's pov as ’poor journalism’.
    Maybe you read my post again.

    Regarding France 24 TV the contribution is not that bad, but the claim of Shugden worship is a religion and 4 Millions would practice it is just wrong and has no solid ground and support by independent academic research - it is just exaggeration, I guess they took it from Shugden followers' claims and didn't verify it. Also that there is Apartheid and persecution is heavily exaggerated. It is clear that there are injustices but please at both sides!

    The Swiss Breakfast TV, 10 o'clock, appears to me was another victim of the search for something spectacular or controversial and believing what them was told, e.g. to ’ban’ Shugden worship would be similar like if the pope would ban the worship of Maria Magdalena. Many of the claims were later approved to be wrong and they received so many complaints that they were forced to balance in some further TV contribution the claims of the first production. In Swiss there are many Tibetans who just know it better. Sadly these TV productions, balancing the first one, NKT/WSS never mentions....

    I saw that video as a preparation to increase our fighting force in NKT for the last protests (1996-98). The mood and atmosphere which was build up was like I know it from the brainwashing in the east German army - to fight the enemy of our working class, the evil imperialists. I wondered about this and also why Buddhist who claim to suffer so much do not remember Karma.

    Later I could recognize more strange stuff and inconsistencies. I collected some of them here:

    The response of the TGIE which corrects some of the wrong claims can be seen here:

    Don't forget, I know both sides quite well and I know now how dictatorships function. I didn't expect to meet a Buddhist dictatorship in the guise of NKT. However I learnt my lesson.

    Keep you chins up friend.

    My response to France 24 is this:

    and don't say this is not sourced ;-)

  20. #13 Johnny 23 Sep 08

    poor journalism

    Sorry Tenzin,

    You have not disproved the original complaint.

    That there is discussion and disagreement surrounding this question is widely accepted.

    However, this article does not even attempt to investigate the issues. Which is what is badly needed.

    Instead, it merely repeats the claim of the Dalai Lama that Dorje Shugden practitioners are Chinese agents. It is this very claim that the WSS object to. That the NI just repeats it without any disclaimer is unusual given that the NI does not normally kowtow to reputations.

  21. #14 Tenzin 24 Sep 08


    I think we discuss in different directions. Best Wishes.

  22. #15 Lyara 01 Oct 08

    Al Jazeera coverage of the Dalai Lama's ban

    Check out this footage on the Dalai Lama's ban of Dorje Shugden shown yesterday to a potential audience of 40 million:


    News article:

    One interesting point made by the lawyer is that the main reason the legal case against the Dalai Lama was delayed three months was because the Dalai Lama said he was sick/exhausted. Is it possible that the Dalai Lama threw off his European teaching engagements to delay the troublesome court case rather than because he was actually exhausted?

  23. #16 Lyara 01 Oct 08

    Trouble in Paradise -- another news article

    ’The political undertones that surround Tibet make this issue all the more sensitive. With political, as well as religious, unity at stake, both sides have begun to ponder what a rift might mean for the future of Tibet. This presents a particular point of interest to the West. For decades, the Dalai Lama has been revered as a champion of peace and, as a result, we have developed a particular soft spot in our heart for him. However, if the claims made by the Western Shugden Society are true, and there is actual religious persecution occurring in Tibet and in the exiled communities, will the West be willing to confront our champion of peace on this issue? I am not suggesting that the claims are definite; however, if the problem persists and persecution becomes an undeniable reality, we will have to decide what is more valuable to us, a united Tibetan community able to reach an agreement with the Chinese or our basic belief in religious freedom.’

    To read the full article:;ustory_id=3a756613-6805-4235-9d11-e90606184a6d

  24. #17 Lyara 01 Oct 08

    Hard for Us -- Dalai Lama and Religious Freedom

    And one more recent news article to show New Internationalist readers more of what is going on, taken from Cincinnati City Beat:

    Myths about the Dalai Lama abound in the West. He is not, in fact, the head of Buddhism around the world; he isn't even the head of Tibetan Buddhism. Before the Chinese invasion, he didn't preside over Shangri-la; Tibet was a feudal society, a place of extreme poverty ruled by a theocracy supported by a wealthy nobility.

    While the Dalai Lama smiles beatifically, his policies as head of the Tibetan Government in Exile have suppressed religious freedom.

    At issue is a devotional practice the Dalai Lama once followed but has now decided to stamp out. This involves honoring Dorje Shugden, a wisdom Buddha who is an important part of the lineage that GSL Monastery and millions of Tibetans follow.

    The Dalai Lama hasn't simply discouraged honoring Dorje Shugden. Declaring the deity an evil spirit, he's vowed to crush the tradition.

    The Tibetan Government in Exile denies identity cards to Tibetan nationals who refuse to sign oaths renouncing the deity, leaving them unable to travel, hold jobs or receive aid, according to Lisa Farnsworth, a law professor at Indiana University. Monks who hold fast to their loyalty to Dorje Shugden have been expelled from monasteries, she says, and others have been denied food or barred from participating in prayer rituals.

    ’We're talking about basic human rights -- being able to eat, being able to have housing, (not) having your life threatened,’ Farnsworth says. ’You can talk about love and compassion all you want, but people are being hurt by the Dalai Lama's actions.’

    The issue attracted attention earlier this summer when a crowd leaving the Dalai Lama's lecture in New York City started heckling Dorje Shugden followers who held signs saying, ’Dalai Lama, Give Us Religious Freedom.’ Police officers urged the protesters to leave the scene for their own safety.

    ’There were 50 police officers there who said, 'We can't protect you. You've got to get on the buses and get out of here,' ’ Farnsworth says.

    Farnsworth is a lay student at Dagom Tensung Ling Monastery in Bloomington, Ind., GSL's ’sister’ monastery.

    ’There was one primary reason why we established our monastery: to preserve our lineage,’ Kuten Lama says. ’The hardship is because (the Dalai Lama) took our religious freedom, our human rights. But it is very hard for us ordinary persons to explain to the world because he is so powerful and famous and our words are not too important.’

  25. #18 Lyara 03 Oct 08

    Dalai Lama monks bomb Shugden residence

    Here is a news article from Radio Free Asia:

    'Terrorist actions'

    The security official said: ’They carried out terrorist actions...If they don't appeal, they will be taken to Kongpo for imprisonment 10 days after sentencing. None had lodged an appeal by Sept. 30.’

    I got this interesting comment from:

    What makes this particularly horrible is that these terrorists were supposedly Buddhist monks, training in monasteries!

    Moreover, the actions of these monks were clearly motivated by allegiance to the Dalai Lama, the supposed champion of peace and non-violence:

    ’No one was hurt in the blasts, three of which occurred at a Chinese military base camp, one at the Markham county office, three at an electric power transmission station, and one at the residence of a Tibetan who worships Shugden, a controversial deity espoused by Beijing but regarded with suspicion by those loyal to the Dalai Lama.’

    The followers of the Dalai Lama cannot blame this one on Chinese sympathizers trying to stir up trouble because three of the bombings were at Chinese military base camps.And although Robert Thurman has falsely accused Shugden practitioners of being the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism, there is no proof that any Shugden practitioner has ever been engaged in acts of terrorism. However, this is more clear proof that certain followers of the Dalai Lama -- and monks at that -- are no better than terrorists.

    Thankfully, this time, no one was hurt; but, as Shugden practitioners have been pointing out, they are constantly subject to persecution and violence due to the Dalai Lama's repressive ban, and it is only a matter of time before one of them is killed.

    The Dalai Lama and his government need to ask themselves some hard questions, including why monks loyal to them are engaged in such acts of pre-meditated violence and how an innocent Dorje Shugden practitioner could come to be the target of such violence.

  26. #26 Lyara 18 Oct 08

    A plea to investigate this more deeply

    I saw someone had posted a similar plea on a Tricycle blog and thought it was even more appropriate here.

    Please, please, New Internationalist, ask the Dalai Lama some questions about what is actually going on with the banning of Dorje Shugden practice, and don't be fobbed off with his reply that Shugden practitioners are demon-worshippers, traitors to Tibet, damaging to his lifespan, Chinese agents, murderers and cultists -- unless he can provide some actual evidence.

    From an article written by Sara Chamberlain in the New Internationalist years ago we can see that persecution has been going on for years but still no one in the Buddhist community other than the Western Shugden Society is really standing up for the rights of the oppressed. Are the media that bowled over by the Dalai Lama that they cannot question him more deeply when the evidence is now evident for all to see?

    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.’

  27. #27 Tenzin 29 Oct 08

    Yes, investigate more deeply who is behind this campaign

    Dear Lyra, if you plea to investigate more deeply then also those behind this anti-dalai-lama campaign, the new kadampa tradition and his leader geshe kelsang gyatso should be investigated. tricycle discussion shows some of the striking background of the protesters:

    Former members expressed their concern and warnings:

    Cult awareness groups in UK received complaints about those behind the protests, the New Kadampa Tradition, and the history and violence related with Shugden worship is not Buddhist either. NKT and Kundeling misinforms the press and when somone like Al Jazeera or Swiss TV quotes without verification then these claims are used as proofs that NKT/WSS's claims are correct.

    I heard the France 2 TV contribution was balanced:

    Sadly it is in French.
    Best wishes.

  28. #28 Tenzin 29 Oct 08

    Background of the protesters

    Maybe it is better to follow this link, there are more commentaries made by visitors included:

  29. #29 Lyara 20 Nov 08

    sad story of 16 young Tibetan refugees

    Thanks Tenzin, I have seen all those blogs as you have put the same links to them all over the world wide web. I find them to be full of a lot of propaganda and very outdated news reports. I also contacted the cult place you've mentioned elsewhere, Inform, and they say that the NKT is not a cult and not even a so-called new religious movement, though they have had some complaints from disgruntled ex-members.

    Anyway, I am more interested in the ongoing persecution and denial of religious freedom to a huge swathe of the Tibetan population. Today I read this testimonial from a young monk who was a group of sixteen teenagers who fled from Tibet to go see the Dalai Lama in India and live at the monastery, but who were refused entry by the Tibetans because they were Shugden practitioners. Honestly, I find that sort of thing very sad and also it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. I wish the Dalai Lama was not all wrapped up in it, but clearly he is.

  30. #30 Lyara 18 Dec 08

    Non-Shugden practitioners also increasingly condemn the ban

    These days, more and more, even non-Shugden practitioners just trying to get to the bottom of this problem by checking out articles on the Internet are coming to the inevitable conclusion that the Dalai Lama's ban is just wrong. Plain wrong. For example,
    An extract:
    ’Why I think the ban should be lifted.
    Buddha Shakyamuni [1] was the founder of Buddhism, in his own words Shakyamuni said that ’practitioners have the freedom to make up their own minds about what to adopt and what to practice, and which spiritual leader to follow.’ He also said that ’no one should believe him just because he said it or because others believed him - they needed to ascertain the truth for themselves.’
    So why does the Dalai lama have a right to tell Buddhist not to practice Dorje Shugden? If Shakyamuni said we should effectively be finding these things out for ourselves then no one has the right to tell Buddhists what they can and cannot practice.’
    An extract:
    ’If only a fraction of these stories are true, and the evidence would suggest so, they document a type of political pressure that is not normal. In fact, these reports are highly disturbing for our young democracy. In a democratic setting, it would not be possible to single out a group of people, label them and pressure them into compliance with the majority view. It's actually a fascist thing to do and conjures up the darkest memories.

    If we consider our society democratic, the question is: Why do some of us tolerate or even support this type of pressure on a minority?

    We all know that in a democratic society, the rights of minorities do not depend on the goodwill of the majority. In a democratic society, the rights of minorities cannot be ’overruled’ by majority vote. The law is supreme and protects the rights of all citizens. We should know that a truly democratic Tibetan society would not force those with deviating views into obedience. A truly democratic Tibetan society would be strong enough to put up with dissenting views even though the majority may not approve of them.’

  31. #31 Tenzin 16 Jan 09

    WSS campagin and people behind it lack credibility

    Contrary to Lyara's exaggerated claim, the Buddhist community condemns the protests and an academic Tibet scholar says that WSS - the protesters - lack credibility.

    Tibet scholar Robert Barnett of Columbia University states

    ’I also made it clear that the Western Shugden group's allegations are problematic: they are akin to attacking the Pope because some lay Catholics somewhere abuse non-believers or heretics. The Western Shugden Group is severely lacking in credibility, since its form of spirit-worship is heterodox, provocative and highly sectarian in Buddhist terms and so more than likely to be banned from mainstream monasteries – while its claimed concerns about cases of discrimination in India should be addressed by working within the Tibetan community instead of opportunistically attacking the Dalai Lama in order to provoke misinformed publicity for their sect.’

    [a href=’’]Issue should be resolved within Tibetan community

    How Buddhists see the protests:
    ’The aggressive manner with which the 'ordained' Shugden followers express their disagreement with the Dalai Lama is not in accordance with the Buddhist behavioural regulations for monks and nuns (Vinaya).’

    for more see:
    [a href=’’]How Buddhists view the protests of NKT/WSS

    Moreover the Australian Sangha Association advised the WSS to excuse to HH the Dalai Lama and made known that the 'ordained' are not real monks and nuns:

    [a href=’’]Australian Sangha Association Statement Regarding Protests at the Teachings of H.H. the Dalai Lama

  32. #32 Lyara Atkins 29 Nov 10

    There is an unbelievable wealth of documented evidence about the Dalai Lama's less than holy actions in the new book, A Great Deception.

    Anyone interested in getting to the bottom of all this, check out and surf around that site. Better still, read the book, it is a page-turner.

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About the author

Vanessa Baird a New Internationalist contributor

Vanessa Baird lived and worked as a journalist in Peru during the tumultuous mid-1980s, and she maintains a passionate interest in South America. She joined New Internationalist as a co-editor in 1986 and since then has written on everything from migration, money, religion and equality to indigenous activism, climate change, feminism and global LGBT rights. She also edits the Mixed Media, arts and culture section of the magazine.

Vanessa’s books include The No-Nonsense Guide to World Population (2011), Sex, Love and Homophobia (2004), The Little Book of Big Ideas (2009) and, People First Economics (2010). In 2012 she won a prestigious Amnesty International Human Rights Media award.

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