I can speak up now about Shugden
Dear friends around the world,
I have been wanting to speak out gently about our lineage, practice, protector and traditions for over 15 years. I have received advice from my Guru to keep silent and stay low key. I could not defy my guru’s instructions. I have been asking every few years may I speak up and finally late last year I received permission. I have been following instructions to remain silent.
Some may think I was hiding or afraid to speak up or was not loyal, but I don’t have to prove who I am by speaking up. I only needed to have guru devotion and trust my teachers. I’ve been accused of hiding my practice and denying the practice, but in actuality I have never stopped the practice, but only publicly and in our centres I didn’t allow it until I got permission from my teacher. You see, being open about our protector practice in Tibetan society can get us physically hurt in the past as there are many over-zealous people who do not think but hurt people. It does not bother me what others say or think of me, only what my teacher thinks of me. My guru devotion is the most important facet of my life. People can say all they want against me, but it does not bother me because I know what I am doing. I have confidence in my guru and the holy protector he gave me. I don’t have confidence in all the negative talk on the internet and gossip circles against my guru, practice or my protector. They can say what they want, time will tell what type of person they are. A tree is known by its fruit. If a person is always spewing acid from his mouth against others, even against people they barely know or never met, only reflects their mind and eventually they will be seen for their character.
In Tantra you don’t reveal your Yidam and protector. They are secret practices. When kept secret then attainments arise. We may have a outer protector (Setrap) or one for the public that may be revealed but we can have a secret protector we don’t reveal, given to us by our teachers. We can have general Yidams like Manjushri, Tsongkapa, Tara and we can reveal but not our personal secret Yidam. Our Yidam and protector are not something we should speak about casually with friends or on the internet. We must be humble and disciplined. These are the tenants of tantra and not my rules. Read the tantric vows, Guhysamaja’ root text along with Stages and Paths of Tantra by Je Tsongkapa to understand more. Many do not understand these important points, but when it comes to dharma/tantra, I am very traditional for all that I outwardly may not appear traditional in order to bridge the minds of modern people at times, but I am. If your secret Yidam is Yamantaka for example, then someone asks you, is your Yidam Yamantaka? Then you can say no it is not. By tantric code you are not lying because you must keep your practice secret until higher attainments are achieved. You can just say, it’s Tara. By revealing your Yidam, you can attract obstacles. Similar for protector practice. You should not reveal your protector beyond your inner circle if practiced in the strictest sense. When someone is highly attained and they ask them do you have clairvoyance, even if they do have, they must say no and act ordinary. This is the Kadampa way or the way of mind training teachings infused within Gelug School and monasticism. To be humble is the correct way of mind training. In the monasteries of Gaden, Sera and Drepung, you are not allowed to show supernatural powers openly when you have achieved them. Strictly forbidden. So by tantric code you are not allowed to reveal your innermost secret Yidam and protector no matter how many people try to out you. Those trying to out you with your practice shows deep ignorance of highest yoga tantra. Those who keep asking people to out their protector and Yidam and practices shows deep ignorance. To a practitioner, their demands are the prattle of the ignorant.
I will speak up more and more about our lineage, practices and protector but I will not speak in a harsh way that offends or hurts or damages others. Karma is still involved. Whether our name-calling or speech is for good purposes or not, there is still karma. I don’t need more negative karma. We can reveal and share the truth in kind speech consistently but not be degrading another person or teacher or practitioner. My guru and protector would not be pleased if I was unkind to others. I choose the middle way to speak kindly even against people who try to make my life difficult at times.
I will not speak up against His Holiness the Dalai Lama because I have taken my ordination vows and many teachings from him. But His Holiness is not my only teacher. I wish to not choose between my gurus although some people do that but not me. I will keep the practices H.H. the Dalai Lama gave me and I will keep the practices H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche my root guru gave me. I refuse to choose. I cannot choose. It’s against my tantric vows to choose. I may not agree with what some of my teachers manifest and I can speak out gently, and I do, but I will be polite and kind about it. I will be respectful about it. I will keep all my gurus. H.H. the Dalai Lama is famous and very well known and more well known than H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, but that doesn’t mean Zong Rinpoche is any lesser or wrong. I don’t choose my gurus and their advices based on fame. I choose the guru according to the way they affected my life tremendously and turned my mind around and that is my particular karmic connection to my guru and my choice. Even some gurus may irk you strongly and you go away, but that could mean you have tremendous connection to them and just need to purify karma to connect better with them. Strong karmic affinity to a teacher can come as great faith or even disdain at first. Karma is strange.
Kyabje Zong Rinpoche touched my heart deeply and penetrated my being to the core when I met him when I was 18 years old in Los Angeles. I loved every minute of being with him. He is my root guru forever and I will never abandon any of the practices and Protector he gave me. That is called devotion to our Guru. I am not a great person nor have any spectacular qualities, but the one quality I like in myself is my guru devotion. If practicing the protector Zong Rinpoche bestowed upon me brings people to abuse me and hurl insults at me or ostracize me or leave me, then let it be so. I can take abuses for the practice Kyabje Zong Rinpoche gave me. Enlightenment is more important than anything samsara can ever offer. I rather get insults for practicing what Zong Rinpoche gave me than receive praise for abandoning what my teacher bestowed upon me. I like praise as anyone does, but not at the cost of my spirituality. I will not sell my soul. So please don’t scorn me or hate me for having guru devotion and only trying to follow and be loyal to my guru. I am sorry if this offends you. I wish you well. It is more important to keep your protector practice because your guru gave this to you as opposed to keeping it for the protector. You keep your practice due to deep faith in your guru and not necessarily the protector. Keep this point strong in your mind. Be it your protector is enlightened or not makes no difference once your Vajradhara-like guru assigns them to you. You keep your promise to your guru. This is most important.
Why do I have to choose between H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche? For many many years, I didn’t have to choose between these two lamas, but why am I forced into a position to choose now? You may have the option to choose because you didn’t take teachings from one or another lama, but that is not afforded to me, please understand. So I have to find answers within the dharma for manifested conflicts as it can be disturbing to my mind. According to Gurupancasika text by Ashvagosha, we have to respect all teachers we took teachings from regardless. We cannot disparage any teachers, or our spiritual practices will not ripen. That may seem harsh and difficult, but then being in a comfort zone is the biggest obstacle to our spiritual progress. If they manifest conflict or differences, then I choose to see it as divine play to tame my mind. In Tantra, all sound, forms, perceptions, thoughts are that of a Yidam. In that way we change our reality day by day as we have to perfect this. We cannot see our lama(s) as mistaken and then in our tantric practice we see him as Buddha all in the same day. Some may do that, but that will be a hindrance. It will conflict. Not to be mired in our samsaric-made thoughts is the purpose of this tantric meditation. Because if I see it as conflict, I will abandon all lamas. How can one highly attained lama be higher than another. Rank is man-made and only for secular purposes, but it does not fit the spiritual realm. My lama can be a simple hermit in a cave with two students. But he is still a Buddha to me whether he is famous and well-known or not. Just because one lama is well-known and famous does not mean his advice can override that of another simple and humble hermit guru. I follow my lama because his teachings benefit me, not because he is famous. Fame and having thousands of students should have nothing to do in whose advice we choose.
If I choose to continue with what Kyabje Zong Rinpoche gave me and the protector that he bestowed upon me, then does that automatically mean I am against the Dalai Lama? I don’t think so. Of course not. So if I am a Taoist, Satanist, Hindu, Zen, Christian or pagan, does that mean I am against the Dalai Lama too because I differ from his spiritual tradition? Of course not. If I’m not against the Dalai Lama then why pigeon-hole me this way? Why does everything have to be summarized as so black and white? We have a mother and a father, sometimes they have disagreements, there are points in our mother we agree with, there are thoughts in our father we agree with also. Sometimes we have to agree with our father, sometimes we have to agree with our mother, but if we agree with one of our parents, it does not mean we are against the other parent. Why does it have to be so black and white in the case of our lamas too and so cutthroat? I don’t think it has to be that way. I don’t choose that way.
Some people say by giving up their protector or browbeating others into giving up their protector, they are sincere and good students of the Dalai Lama. Well I don’t think you can follow one advice and forget the rest and then say you are practicing well. The fact you have to choose one lama over another or abandon friends because of this shows something is inherently wrong. For example His Holiness Dalai Lama teaches also:
- Tolerate your enemies. So by bad-mouthing others due to their protector practice are you following what the Dalai Lama is teaching? Control your speech and what you send out.
- China is supposed to be the big enemy of Tibet. That is their view. I am just using this as an example. The then Communists destroyed thousands of temples, killed many sangha, burned thousands of statues, sacred texts and banned Buddhism. That seems to be massive damage, and infinite negative karma collected. They seems to be Dalai Lama’s archrival. But the Dalai Lama can forgive the Communists. So why not forgive the Shugden people who have done so much less ‘harm’ and so much less so-called ‘damage’? So if the Dalai Lama can forgive the Communists in his public statements, why can’t his followers not berate Shugden people and forgive? The Dalai Lama wants to meet the Chinese current leaders to resolve the Tibet issue. Why not meet the Shugden followers to resolve this issue too? Why forgive one enemy and ignore another? Just hypothetical questions. So it will behoove everyone to be kind and forgive as the Dalai Lama taught.
- The Dalai Lama said don’t lie and be honest. Is everyone out there who follow him honest? Do you hold your vows well? You never lie?
- Refuge vows when taken, forbade the four negativities of the speech, three of the mind and three of the body. Are we holding our refuge vows well? If not, then don’t look at others to criticize but look within. As a student of Dalai Lama and any lama, shouldn’t you hold your refuge vows? Of course you should in all circumstances.
Three of the Body
- Sexual Misconduct
Four of the Speech
- Divisive Speech
- Harsh Words
- Idle Chatter
Three of the Mind
- Hatred and Malice
- Wrong Views
When we are harming others for example Shugden practitioners and berate them daily on the internet, are we holding our refuge vows given by the Dalai Lama or taught by him? If we want to be good Dalai Lama followers and we should be, and to represent him well, we should hold our refuge vows and practice dharma deeply and not hurt or accuse others. If others wish to practice anything we don’t agree with, then it’s their right. If it is their right, then why berate them daily on the internet and in person? Why bar them from certain public places just because they practice something you don’t like? Saying it’s their right to practice Shugden, but on the other hand advising against Shugden always, hurts many sentiments and seems hypocritical. For example, let’s say Asian people are equal to any other race (which they are), but then they are not allowed in certain schools, towns and public places would seem hypocritical right? You say they are equal but your actions does not show that. Why say you advise against Shugden constantly but that’s only your advice and your advice harms many millions? America always accuses China of human rights issues, but look what happened in Ferguson recently. Some people may speak against the Dalai Lama and therefore you think it gives you the right to act against them crudely. But think carefully, how you speak and the words you use will perhaps have a more negative impact than positive for yourself, the Dalai Lama and Buddhism. Represent the Dalai Lama well even if others do not. Do not let the behavior of others affect our behavior, because karma is individual and we suffer it individually at this point.
In other words, those without sin do cast the first stone at the sinner. Which one of us is without sin? No one. So stop stoning others already. Therefore we should not judge. We should be kind, forgive and be tolerant. To hate is to be samsaric and to forgive is to be divine.
For the last 400 years, the protector practice since its inception, no one had to choose between one lama and another, why suddenly now (since 1996), we have to choose between one lama and another? And that if we choose one lama, we are against the other lama? That may be your view, that may be the way you think, that may be the way you perceive your world, but that is not the way I perceive my world. My world is different, my world is the middle way, I can take the good things from all my lamas and practice, and the things I don’t agree with, I don’t have to comment and make negative snide remarks against them, or I don’t have to choose. Again, this is my world, and that’s how I choose to live my world. You have the choice with yours. My world offers me peace of mind, your world makes you compete and feel disloyal to one lama or another, I refuse to be put in that position, and I will never be put in that position. I choose to respect all my lamas and other teachers, and I choose to practice what they have given me, because in the end, it is the practice that will bring me to enlightenment. I will not choose but I will speak up about the practice that my root guru gave me which has benefitted me so much and has brought benefits to many for four hundred years. I will share with many others who are karmically ready.
I am nothing, but the best thing that happened to me was meeting H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. I will love, respect and keep my faith in him till my last day. I will not surrender my practice or my protector assigned to me by Kyabje Zong Rinpoche no matter how much pressure there is. If the protector was good enough for my guru, then it’s good enough for me. I would rather die than surrender my faith and devotion in my guru and the practices he gave me. I will never sway. I mean no offense to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for this and I don’t practice my protector for political reasons. I never have. Dalai Lama may not agree with my practice, but I fold my hands and respectfully bow and say I am sorry and but I will continue. I don’t get paid for my practice and I don’t get profit. Even the dharma stores and online stores we have from Kechara, I do not receive one single dollar. All profits go to the staff and their stipend and the upkeep of our beautiful Kechara. I don’t make profit from dharma ever.
I will be firm always in my Guru, Yidam, dharma and protector. I will share what I learned with the world. Life is somewhat beautiful in dismal samsara because I met His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche who passed me the practices and lineage of His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Trijang Rinpoche was the root guru of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. How lucky am I? A useless vagabond like me wandering in samsara for so long chanced upon meeting a living Heruka Buddha and his name was His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche!! How lucky am I? Too lucky! Very lucky and very fortunate. I love Kyabje Zong Rinpoche who is my spiritual father and I love His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche who is my spiritual grandfather. H.H. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche was Trijang Rinpoche’s guru so that makes him my spiritual great grandfather. How lucky am I to have three living Buddhas to be connected to. I love Zong Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche and Pabongka Rinpoche. And everyone may accuse me, abuse me and degrade me for my faith and devotion to them, but I will not give up. I will not give up one single practice they have bestowed upon me when no one else was around. I am loyal. Spiritually loyal.
I will never abandon my guru and practices. I will work towards my practices of lojong and Lam Rim and promote dharma to many. My main practice is not any protectors but Dharma especially lojong. I will continue to strive and work hard to be a better person and engage in my spiritual practices. My time on this earth is short and I don’t want to waste it on anything in samsara because it’s empty of meaning.
I pray this ‘conflict’ with the Dorje Shugden issue will end amicably soon. Dorje Shugden followers in the millions will not abandon their practice. So it would be good leaders of the Dorje Shugden practicing community met with the Tibetan leadership to work out something that will be a win-win situation for both sides. May no one be hurt and may everyone win. I hope this will be granted soon.
There is nothing left in life to do. I will be the best person I can in the way I know how and if some people have a problem with that, I ask their forgiveness as I forgive them.
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