Thursday, July 9, 2015

Shugden Dorje followers oppose Dalai Lama

"False Dalai Lama, stop lying" reads Shugden Dorje banner held by supporters also holding Buddhist flag, Honda Center, Anaheim, July 5-7 (Mark Rightmire/
the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama and monks, Dharamsala, India
Hundreds of protesting emails demanding retractions and apologies poured in last month after the Observer reported on planned demonstrations in Britain against the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader [and semi-retired political leader].

Coupled with a storm on Twitter and placard-waving near our office in London, it had all the hallmarks of a carefully organized campaign to pressure the paper to kill a story, and all from apparently peace-loving Buddhists.
The article alleged that the Chinese authorities were encouraging a “toxic” campaign by the International Shugden Community to undermine the Dalai Lama and which could threaten Buddhism itself.
The [rival Tibetan] sect, described as extremist by the International Campaign for Tibet, had disseminated images of the guru as a pig, described him as a Muslim, and compared him to Hitler

The story added, without attribution, that the sect believed in an evil spirit that inflicts madness and death on its enemies. It said demonstrations, organized by the Shugden-following New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), were planned when the Dalai Lama arrived at a new Buddhist center in Hampshire and at the Glastonbury festival. NKT declined to comment.
Shugden followers wrote to deny that they were extremist, that they had any links with the Chinese, or that their campaign was aimed at splitting Buddhism. They denied that NKT was organizing the protests, and they rejected entirely the idea that they believed in an evil spirit.

They maintained that the “false” Dalai Lama, as they called him, was himself a follower of Shugden teachings until 1976 but was now banning the practice and suppressing human rights.

“The net effect of your biased and harmful accusations is to abuse and alienate innocent Shugden Buddhists,” wrote one emailer.

“Instead, why don’t you honestly assess the claims of Shugden Buddhists?”

So I turned to an acknowledged authority, Professor Robert Barnett, director of modern Tibetan studies at Columbia University (USA).
“Their campaign depends on the implication that a ban by the Dalai Lama on Shugden practice exists throughout the Tibetan Buddhist community,” he said. “There is no ban in that broad sense, though some Tibetan organizations are said to have at certain times imposed such bans on their own members, which is indeed a matter of concern.

But the Dalai Lama did issue a [Shugden] prohibition to those who ask to take religious teachings with him. This could be loosely termed a ban, but it was a requirement that applied only to those people who ask to study religious texts with him. The ISC literature does not acknowledge this distinction.”
Yama, Lord of Death, as a yakkha on Tibetan thangka
Discriminatory statements by some in the exile Tibetan administration had not helped and he believed the Dalai Lama should have done more to clarify that Shugden worshippers should not be discriminated against. “But, regrettably, the Shugden campaign has tended to elide and confuse those questions and to focus on political, personal and sectarian issues which are extraordinarily provocative and incendiary.” All this had closed off most avenues for reasonable discussion.
There was no firm evidence, he said, of Chinese funding or involvement in Shugden protests organized in the west, but there was very strong evidence of significant Chinese involvement in Shugden organizations in India and Tibet. “NKT and its sister groups have formally linked themselves to those exile groups in India at times, including at least one joint statement and campaign. Leaders of the exile Shugden groups in India frequently travel to China and have formal receptions with Chinese officials, in which they make public statements.”
But more significant, he felt, was the fact that Shugden groups in the west expressed the same core views as the Chinese authorities and used the same specific strategy, and often the same terminology, notably the decision to focus their campaigns on attacking the Dalai Lama and describing him as “false”. He believed that a convergence of strategic objectives and methods was evident.
It was not, however, correct to say that Shugden followers in the west believed in an evil spirit. More

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