Dalai Lama’s words at the ‘Survivor’s meeting’ in Cambridge, September 2015 – a Commentary

Recently, the False Dalai Lama met with people who call themselves the ‘NKT Survivors Group’ and, interestingly, during that supposedly private meeting he made many false and misleading statements that were recorded and published by the CTA. His intention is obviously to publicise his own views about Shugden and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. I feel bound to comment on this and to correct any lies/misleading statements by him.  The original text is in black, in the inverted commas, and my comments are in brackets and are in blue.

Please note that I am an individual Dorje Shugden practitioner and any views I express below are my own. I do not represent the International Shugden Community (ISC) in any way.

“His Holiness next met with members of a group who call themselves NKT Survivors, people who have left the new religious movement the New Kadampa Tradition. One of several reasons for their discomfort has been the involvement of NKT members in spiteful (truthful) demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama in cities across the world.

(The discomfort is actually the False Dalai Lama’s. I heard that at a meeting in Los Angeles between his representatives and the ISC, his representatives said that he was ‘humiliated and embarrassed’ by the protests. The protests are only taking place because of his refusal to have dialogue to resolve the issue and there is no spite involved, only truth. I’m sorry he is distressed about the demonstrations but he’s not distressed enough to stop harming Shugden Buddhists so I expect his embarrassment is going to have to continue for as long as he maintains a ban on Dorje Shugden practice and refuses to accept the ISC’s four points.)

The focus of these protests is a difference of opinion about a controversial spirit known as Dolgyal or Shugden.

(This is untrue. The Dalai Lama is entitled to have and express whatever view he wants about Dorje Shugden – it is not the status of Dorje Shugden that is the issue but his enforcement of a ban against the practice, an enforced signature campaign and banning of Shugden Buddhists from shops, restaurants and medical centres because of their beliefs. The Dalai Lama has used his political power to enforce a religious ban. This is illegal and against human and religious rights. Shugden Buddhists naturally wish this ban to be lifted and this is the purpose of the demonstrations organised by the ISC.)

His Holiness began:

“I think you know the story of this spirit is nearly four hundred years old. At one time I too propitiated it. My Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche, who gave me ordination, had nothing to do with it, but my Junior Tutor, Trijang Rinpoche did practise it.

(It is untrue that Ling Rinpoche had nothing to do with Dorje Shugden practice, he was just not as high profile and as promoting of the practice as Trijang Rinpoche. He wrote prayers to Dorje Shugden and other Dharma protectors and so, if he had nothing to do with the practice, why would be write these prayers?)

Having some doubt about it, in the early 70s I asked some scholars to research the matter. We discovered that the issue dated back to the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, who (wrongly) described Dolgyal as a perfidious spirit that had arisen as a result of distorted prayers.

The 5th Dalai Lama made this statue of Dorje Shugden
The 5th Dalai Lama made this statue of Dorje Shugden

(The Fifth Dalai Lama later changed his mind, wrote a praise to Dorje Shugden and fashioned a statue of him with his own hands. He also established the first Dorje Shugden Temple, Trode Khangsar, in Lhasa. Why would he do this for a ‘perfidious spirit’? The 14th Dalai Lama is being ingenuous here)

“Later, during the time of the tutor of the 7th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Chokden, who also became Ganden Tripa, Throne-holder or leader of the Gelug tradition, several abbots propitiated this spirit and a shrine was built at Ganden Monastery. Ngawang Chokden, who was the first Reting Rinpoche, had this shrine demolished and restricted the propitiation. He stated that during the life of Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug tradition, a shrine even to his ‘birth deity’ was not allowed within the precincts of Ganden Monastery.

(More lies or distortions. In this account, Dorje Shugden is not mentioned, all that is said is that a ‘gyalpo’ was expelled and that could refer to any number of beings. It was just a local spirit.)

“Later still, the 13th Dalai Lama restricted practices concerning this spirit and wrote to Pabongka Rinpoche about it, saying that the way he related to it risked breaching his Buddhist refuge vows. I discovered that no Dalai Lama had any involvement with this spirit until I did. Perhaps if the 5th and 13th Dalai Lamas were to reappear now they’d send me back to Amdo!

(The banning of Dorje Shugden practice by the 13th Dalai Lama is not documented anywhere. This story was introduced by Georges Dreyfus in his propaganda piece The Shugden Affair: Origins of a Controversy but is likely a fabrication according to Tibetan scholar Trinley Kalsang:

There is a claim that 13th Dalai Lama restricted the propitiation of Dorje Shugden, in particular through personally

The 13th Dalai Lama did not ban Shugden
The 13th Dalai Lama did not ban Shugden

restricting the activities of Pabongkha Rinpoche. Dreyfus states, “Finally the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and his government applied pressure on Pa-bong-ka to desist from propitiating Shuk-den… According to his biographer, Pa-bong-ka promised not to propitiate Shuk-den any more.” This references Lob-zang Dor-je, Biography of Pha bong kha (pa bong kha pa bde chen snying po dpal bzang po’i rnam par thar pa, folio 471.a-.b. However, this not actually found in presently obtainable publications of Pabongkha Rinpoche’s biography. The Dalai Lama’s website refers to Nyimo Publisher Palden as the edition that contains this correspondence between Pabongkha Rinpoche and the 13th Dalai Lama, yet no information on this publisher or publication can be found. Consequently, the edition containing this correspondence is not available for verification, which makes its authenticity highly questionable and most likely a fabrication”)

“Once I made a decision to stop the practice, I kept it to myself. Then Ganden Jangtse Monastery got in touch with me to say that they had been experiencing misfortunes and they had asked Trijang Rinpoche about it. He told them it was a result of displeasure on the part of their traditional protector Palden Lhamo. They asked me what to do about it. I conducted a ‘dough-ball divination’ asking first whether their problems were to do with Palden Lhamo’s displeasure. The answer was, “Yes”. Then I asked whether the displeasure was a result of their adopting a new protector and again the answer was “Yes”. I informed some senior Lamas from Ganden Monastery and asked them to decide what action to take.

(the Dalai Lama likes to appear scientific and rational and here he is performing a dough ball divination.)

“Gradually this advice became known. Inside Tibet some worshippers of Dolgyal said that the Dalai Lama was taking these steps because he was trying to favour the Nyingmas, so I had to explain things more publicly. Previously, even my Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche, who had nothing at all to do with this practice had been wary of my receiving Nyingma teachings because of Dolgyal’s reputation.

The Dalai Lama deeply disappointed his Tutors

(Fabrications and lies – we have only the False Dalai Lama’s word for this but based on evidence from elsewhere it’s extremely unlikely that Ling Rinpoche had nothing to do with Dorje Shugden practice as he had, as mentioned above, composed prayers to Dorje Shugden. In all likelyhood, Ling Rinpoche was disappointed with the Dalai Lama for not being satisfied with Gelugpa teachings. In Ocean of Truth Explained it says:

“Later, in Dharamsala, India, Ling Rinpoche died with deep disappointment because the Dalai Lama refused his request to stop encouraging Gelugpas to practise the Nyingma Tradition. And Trijang Rinpoche died with deep disappointment, because the Dalai Lama refused his request to stop banning the practice of Dorje Shugden.”

The False Dalai Lama likes to say that his Gurus were in agreement with his actions but this is not the case.

Once I stopped propitiating it I gained personal religious freedom and was able to follow an ecumenical, non-sectarian approach to Buddhism like previous Dalai Lamas. I had confirmed this course of action through another divination before a renowned statue of Avalokiteshvara.

(the previous Dalai Lamas (apart from the 5th), in particular the 1st Dalai Lama Je Gendundrub, were sincere followers of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition and had no need to seek teachings in other traditions. Je Gendundrub wrote in his Song of the Eastern Snow Mountain:

Only the 5th and 14th Dalai Lamas have been dissatisfied with Je Tsongkhapa's tradition
Only the 5th and 14th Dalai Lamas have been dissatisfied with Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition

From now until I attain enlightenment
I shall seek no refuge other than you
O, Venerable Father and Sons
Please care for me with you compassion

The False Dalai Lama is clearly confused about the meaning of n0n-sectarianism and has no faith in the Gelugpa tradition. This is not to denigrate other traditions, it just means that the Gelugpa tradition contains a complete path to enlightenment so why would anyone want to seek teachings elsewhere? Notably, the False Dalai Lama didn’t consult his Gurus as to whether he should receive teachings from other traditions: rather, he performed divinations which is very strange! This shows that he doesn’t trust his Gurus. If the 14th Dalai Lama doesn’t trust his Gurus or his tradition then he’s not qualified to give Buddha’s teachings or spiritual advice to anyone.)

“As a consequence of all this, supporters of Dolgyal set themselves up as a group in Delhi. Then the murder of Gyen Lobsang Gyatso took place. The perpetrators, who had been identified by the Himachal Pradesh Police in their investigation, escaped back to Tibet, where they were welcomed by Chinese officials.”

(The murder of Gen Gyatso and his two assistants is a mystery. There are several motives and no evidence linking the murder to Shugden practitioners, therefore what the False Dalai Lama is saying is hearesay and conjecture specifically designed to implicate Shugden Buddhists in horrible murders.)

“When I explain about all this, I make clear that it’s my duty to do so. If people disagree and continue the practice, that’s their business. However, I’m concerned about their next lives. These demonstrators are angry with me. I try to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness, being angry with me won’t do them any good. When I see them, I feel a lot of concern for them.

(The False Dalai Lama is appearing to give practitioners a choice but the main point of the ISC protests is that Shugden practitioners have no choice because they are ostracised by Tibetan society in which the False Dalai Lama rules through fear and intimidation. Demonstrators are not angry with the False Dalai Lama, they are concerned with the truth and religious freedom for Shugden Buddhists)

“As Buddhists we should follow authentic teachings, such as those of the 17 Nalanda masters.”

(Where would these ‘authentic teachings of the 17 Nalanda Masters be obtained from? One has to rely upon a living qualified spiritual guide to receive any Dharma instructions. Even if the False Dalai Lama had these instructions, he’s not qualified to teach because he has broken with his Gurus and his lineage)

Contrary to his own advice, the Dalai Lama seeks the counsel of worldly spirits like Nechung.

“Depending on spirits like this is a degeneration of the practice of the Dharma.”

(Why then does the False Dalai Lama ask the advice of the Nechung and other oracles annually, when he knows they are worldly spirits? Surely he is contradicting his own advice?)

“Because of tantric tradition we tend to emphasise ‘Guru Yoga’ and following the Guru’s word. However, even the Buddha advised his followers to examine what he said, to investigate whether it made sense, rather than accepting it just at face value. Read more widely. Study the works of Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti and Shantideva. Also read Je Tsongkhapa’s ‘Great Stages of the Path to Enlightenment’. Don’t worry about having made mistakes, the 14th Dalai Lama did too.

(Nowhere in the Buddhist sutras or tantras does it say we should blindly follow the Guru’s words, however, that is what the Tibetans who follow the Dalai Lama are doing. They blindly believe him, for example, when he says that Shugden Buddhists kill and beat people and are involved in arson. These are all lies but they are believed because they have blind faith in him.)

“Kelsang Gyatso’s commentary to Shantideva’s ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life’ is good. Still, pay attention to the four reliances: depend not on the person, but on the teaching. Depend not on the words, but their meaning. Depend not on the provisional meaning, but the definitive meaning and finally depend not on a superficial understanding but on wisdom. Read books, gather your friends together and discuss what you’ve learned. Give each other confidence. I admire your courage. Believe in truth and the Buddha’s authentic teachings.

(Good advice)

“I know Kelsang Gyatso. He was not a Geshe, but a good scholar. When I was in Mussoorie he gave me a copy of Gungthang Rinpoche’s writings for which I was grateful to him.

(Geshe Kelsang is a Geshe because he completed the requisite study and performed his Geshe ceremony. The only thing he neglected to do was to take the final exams as he didn’t agree with the system that had been introduced.)

Lama Zopa invited him to teach in England, but later they quarrelled. I sent an official to try to mediate.

(This is untrue – Lama Yeshe invited Geshe Kelsang but the actual request to go to England came from his root Guru, Trijang Rinpoche. The quarrel was about the FPMT wanting to sell Manjushri Institute to fund projects in Asia without consulting the community. The FPMT and Dalai Lama supporters like to say that Geshe Kelsang stole Manjushri Institute from Lama Yeshe but this is untrue.)

In 1981, he came to Deer Park in Madison Wisconsin to receive the Kalachakra empowerment that I was giving at the request of his teacher Geshe Sopa. So although he has now taken against me, his own teacher, apparently he insists that his own students only follow him. You should continue to regard him with respect, even if you tell yourself that you are now trying to follow the authentic teachings of the Buddha and Je Tsongkhapa.”

(Geshe Kelsang has never received Kalachakra empowerment from the False Dalai Lama, only general Lamrim teachings. Geshe Kelsang has never insisted that his students should only follow him. )

His Holiness told the group to feel happy and that he would remember them. He again told them not to worry if they feel they had made a mistake, they can remind themselves that he did too.”

It’s very unfortunate that the False Dalai Lama chose to publicly meet with those who are antagonistic towards Dorje Shugden and the practice. Requests have been made to him for twenty years to engage in dialogue to resolve this bitter division within Buddhism but he has never replied or shown the slightest indication that he wishes to solve this problem through dialogue.

I can only conclude that the False Dalai Lama wants war, not peace. He wants to stand his ground and contradict his own teachings about the importance of understanding and cherishing others, of dialogue as shown in this video:

These are not the actions of a spiritual Teacher.



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