The Dalai banned the practice of Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden, claiming that it degenerates Buddhism into spirit worship. However, as usual with the Dalai Lama, this highlights his enormous hypocrisy because he relies upon supernatural non-Buddhist beings to make decisions. From Evan Osnos’ profile of the Dalai Lama, appearing in last month’s issue of The New Yorker (pp. 69-70):
…For advice, he turned to what he calls his “supernatural counsels,” a private world of divination and soothsaying that has helped him make difficult decisions ever since.
He relies most heavily on the “state oracle,” a deity called Nechung, who communicates through a human medium, usually a monk. According to the Dalai Lama’s description in his memoir, the medium slips into a trance “with bulging eyes and swollen cheeks…. His breathing begins to shorten and he starts to hiss violently.” The Dalai Lama poses questions, and the oracle responds with enigmatic advice. On complex affairs of state, he writes, “I seek his opinion in the same way as I seek the opinion of my Cabinet.” For further help, he Dalai Lama relies on a form of mo divination, in which choices are written on pieces of paper and placed in balls of dough. He then swirls the balls in a cup until the right answer tumbles out.
The confidence in the supernatural is common among Tibetans, though not universally accepted. Jamyang Norbu, a prominent writer and critic of the Dalai Lama, bemoans the practice of “burying our collective head in the sands of superstition and inertia.” When I asked the Dalai Lama how he balances his trust in science with his faith in the supernatural, he said that he views the oracles as “consultants.”
“After I consult human beings and these oracles, if there’s something clear, something which I can now decide, then I decide,” he told me. He said that he had made “all major decisions” from the age of sixteen with the help of the oracles, and he had become convinced that they are correct.
Can you imagine President Obama making a major social or economic decision by relying upon the advice of spirits? If he did, his sanity would be called into question; yet the Dalai Lama is quite blasé about his reliance on spirits, oracles and doughballs!
It’s a sign of a serious lack of wisdom when you have to ask spirits what to do. Someone who has deep wisdom always knows what to do and doesn’t have to ask for opinions from any ‘supernatural counsels’ or material ones, for that matter. Despite lacking the confidence and wisdom to make decisions without relying upon divination and ghosts, the Dalai Lama’s followers believe he is a fully enlightened being.
Does he really believe that his reliance on such superstitious things is Buddhism? They are more like pre-Buddhist, shamanistic practices – and then he has the gall to claim that those who rely on the Wisdom Buddha are ‘non-Buddhist’! Through such practices, he’s encouraging his people to stay in the Dark Ages.
Although the Dalai Lama has tried to court the scientific community by participating in conferences about the mind and creating links with Emory University, it’s surprising that any scientist would want to have any dialogue with the Dalai Lama when he engages in such irrational practices. Also, anyone who is trained in logic (as the Dalai Lama apparently was) would be able to look at the reasons justifying the ban of Dorje Shugden prayers and find fault immediately; they wouldn’t have to do the equivalent of tossing a coin to decide if it was justified or not. We can only assume that the Dalai Lama did consult his ‘supernatural counsels’ before making the decision to ban the practice – otherwise, how else could he have got it so wrong? He certainly engaged in dough ball divination to determine whether the reincarnation of his Guru, Trijang Rinpoche, should be allowed to do the Protector practice.
It’s a shame he doesn’t have more faith in his Teachers and less in non-Buddhist practices and pre-Buddhist deities. Through such misguided reliance, he is destroying Tibetan Buddhism and degenerating it into mere superstition.