We Have to Be True to Ourselves
Dear friends around the world,
When I openly informed the public that I practise and will continue to practise Dorje Shugden, I basically committed ‘professional’ suicide as a teaching lama that has some standing within the international Buddhist community. And then some people like the monasteries, friends, non-Tibetan people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, long-time compatriots and people I had grown up with, had to ‘toe the party line’ and they avoided me, abandoned me and never spoke to me again. Just because the Tibetan leadership said we cannot practise Dorje Shugden, we have no freedom to continue and must abandon our religious beliefs immediately. Failing to do so includes ‘punishments’ like ostracisation, segregation, criticism, loss of ‘credentials’, being labelled a Chinese government-paid spy, having to endure hundreds of hate comments on social media, death threats, abandonment by relatives, being disallowed from joining any Tibetan public events within the communities, being barred from any of the Dalai Lama‘s public talks (although everyone else of any religious or non-religious denomination is allowed) and constant attacks on my personal life. The attacks on my character by total strangers on social media are to discredit me so that my continued practice of Dorje Shugden is seen as the actions of someone who is of lesser value, and is therefore easily relegated to something that deserves to be punished. I am someone who deserves to be degraded, berated and in fact hated just because I refuse to be brow-beaten into abandoning my spiritual practice of my choice. People say, “Why don’t you just practise quietly?” That is what I am trying to do but I am berated on social media and by the Tibetan communities always. I have a right to practise and share this practice with whoever I want, as does any other person of any other religion for their own faith.
I have had high profile lamas privately write to me and tell me to seek audience with the Dalai Lama to ‘confess’ my bad deed of practising Dorje Shugden, and then surrender and get into the Dalai Lama’s good books again. They infer that by doing so I will become popular, well-known, clear my reputation and things will become ‘easier’ for me. They even offer to help me do so, saying they will write introduction letters for me. When I politely declined, they have avoided me till this day although I have met and known them for decades. Even lamas whom I have known for 30 years, suddenly will not talk to me anymore.
Even lamas who practised Dorje Shugden and abandoned the practice to be politically correct do not speak to me now, even though we were friends prior to this. I had thought that our friendship was based on each other and not our spirituality, but the lines seemed to be blurred now. I am the bad guy for continuing with Dorje Shugden and so they want to stay ‘clean’ by avoiding me. By interacting with a fellow spiritual colleague such as myself, it would be ‘professional suicide’ for them too. I guess being accepted helps you continue your spiritual work, even if it means you have to bury your conscience deeply.
The Tibetan leadership say we have full freedom to practise Dorje Shugden if we choose and the Dalai Lama is just giving ‘advice’ not to practise. But they have to say this in order to look democratic, so they can continue receiving Western financial aid which amounts in the millions. So they say we can choose to follow the ‘advice’ or not, but if we choose NOT to follow this one single ‘advice’ from the Dalai Lama, then we are not allowed to his talks, to Tibetan events, to the monasteries, to Tibetan institutions and we are totally demonised and segregated. Surprisingly (or not), any other advice that is not followed does not have such severe penalties. This is happening now and daily.
Just think – I believe in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and have practised Buddhism for over 40 years. My family, parents and grandparents are all Buddhists. My root teacher conferred upon me the practice of Dorje Shugden when I was 18 (I am now 51) and told me to continue this for life. I swore to that oath with my root teacher. According to Buddhist tantric codes, no leader or other spiritual authority should or could override this. Some Tibetan spiritual authorities try to make me override my teacher’s instructions but according to tantric codes, we must carry out our sworn promises to our root teacher and that is all I am doing. I have simplified this but basically that is what it is. My teacher for the entirety of his 81 years of life practised Dorje Shugden, as did his teacher and his teacher before him for the last 400 years since the Dorje Shugden lineage originally and officially began.
Now I am hated, demonised, avoided, degraded, berated and segregated simply for my religious beliefs. I have never had any ill intentions towards my own people the Tibetans, the Tibetan nation or His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but I simply wish to continue to practise Dorje Shugden (which I had sworn to my root teacher I would do). But on a daily basis, I am attacked on social media by people I have never met and called all types of names for upholding my personal religious beliefs. This type of spiritual harassment and hatred started by the Tibetan leadership must end if they wish to be recognised as democratic and truly in service of their own Tibetan people. The Tibetan leadership must speak up and embrace everyone no matter what their religion is. Their ‘democratic’ label is important to further garner the financial support of many Western and Japanese donors who support the Tibetan refugee leaders in Dharamsala, and the Tibetan diaspora community of 150,000 or more in India and Nepal. It is sad that the Tibetan leadership has not become independent of handouts and financial support after being in exile since 1959. This in itself speaks volumes. It has been 58 years already and the exiled Tibetan leaders still need handouts, donors and aid in the millions? Why is that? This really speaks volumes, and not positively so.
I firmly believe that if I am a Tibetan, whether I am an atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Bonpo, Jonangpa, Dorje Shugden, Shamanistic or none of the above, I should be embraced, respected and given equal footing with other Tibetans by the Tibetan leadership (CTA) just by virtue of the fact I am Tibetan. For example all Americans should be treated equally by their American governments, and the same can be said for every other people and their government. Their religion, colour, gender and orientation should make no difference in the fair governance of their own people by any leadership. I should be allowed, if I choose to be involved, with all Tibetan gatherings and secular talks given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I and my Dorje Shugden compatriots should not be barred from the Dalai Lama’s secular talks based on my religion. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is famous worldwide for his reputation of religious tolerance. Why not be tolerant too, towards his own people who practise Dorje Shugden? My religion should not matter in the eyes of the Tibetan leadership. All citizens should be treated equally. This is a sign of an ‘enlightened’, modern, progressive and democratic government. Would any genuine democratic government make any laws or advise any citizen against any religion in today’s world? Of course not. Unfortunately this is not happening within the Tibetan communities which are torn apart by prejudice and discrimination. I hope this changes soon.
I have no ill intent to my fellow Tibetan people, the Tibetan nation, its leaders and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I have no political connections or inclinations and never had to any country. I am a monk and I have no political interests; my only interests are spiritual in nature. I have never harmed the Tibetans or their communities and have no intention of doing so. In fact I have donated greatly to the poorer Tibetan communities, monasteries, the Dalai Lama’s causes and the Tibetan leadership in the past 20 years. I have raised quite a substantial amount of money for them. They have kept all my offerings, donations and financial help although I practise Dorje Shugden, but they have ostracised me. It seems my donations are clean but I am not. All I am seeking is freedom of religion, for the Tibetan leadership to give full freedom of spiritual practice without segregation, and for no more demonisation of any Tibetan who sees things differently but are still loyal to their own people, as I am. My spiritual views are different, but I still respect His Holiness the Dalai Lama very much and wish our Tibetans the best always. Om Mani Peme Hung.
For more interesting information:
- How Tibetan leadership treats a sponsor (jindak)
- They said NO!
- They want to kill me
- The Buddhist Divide – An Unholy Campaign against Religious Freedom
- How shall I hate you today?
- Tsem Rinpoche and China
- I can speak up now about Shugden
- Tibetan Leadership’s New Anti-Shugden Video
- Comparisons of the Dorje Shugden Ban With Historic Persecutions
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