Our Lama vs the Dalai Lama – The Underlying Reasons For the Ban
The Dorje Shugden controversy began when the Dalai Lama made successive attempts to wrongly assert the nature of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden to be a harmful spirit. He had since issued numerous statements to the effect of banning the practice of Dorje Shugden. The following is a discussion of the underlying reasons for those who choose to abide by the ban on Dorje Shugden and those who continue the practice of Dorje Shugden.
In order to support this allegation that Dorje Shugden is a spirit, one has to be prepared to dismiss all the traditional teachings, as taught by the great lineage masters such as Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. These teachings are amongst the greatest dharma that forms the foundation of Gelugpa education, and assert that Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri.
In spite of the unimaginable consequences of such allegations, the Dalai Lama went as far as to make the claim that his teacher (Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche) was wrong about the nature of Dorje Shugden during a television interview (see below). If the Dalai Lama is right about his allegation, it would shake the very foundation of the entire Gelug tradition as the lineage was founded on the transmission of teachings from an authentic teacher to disciple since the time of the Buddha.http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/DalaiLamaGurusWrong.flv
Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/DalaiLamaGurusWrong.flv
All Tibetan Buddhist traditions must be able to trace the authenticity of its teachings to a correct and valid source. If one of the successive masters of the lineage was wrong about a particular aspect of the teachings, it undermines the entire lineage because it casts doubts upon other aspects of the lineage as well. Every other teaching, transmission and practice that descended from the master could be mistaken as well.
On top of that, worshipping a spirit would mean that great lineage masters such as Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had broken their refuge commitments. The refuge vows and commitments are the foundation for higher vows, practices and teachings. One of the main commitments is to only take refuge in the Three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Therefore, the higher vows, higher practices and teachings of these lamas are all invalidated, since they took refuge in Dorje Shugden, allegedly a spirit and worldly being. In other words, the entire Gelug lineage is undermined as most current lamas have received teachings, initiations and transmissions from these great lineage masters who taught that Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri.
Furthermore, there are more allegations that Dorje Shugden’s practice shortens the Dalai Lama’s life and harms the Tibetan cause. However, it is traditionally believed that a high lamas’ lifespan is actually determined by the samaya or spiritual bond between the teacher and his or her students. Therefore, heavily broken samaya can create the cause for the lama to have a shorter life. This means that the student has not kept his or her vows, commitments and promises made to the lama. What this infers is that Dorje Shugden’s practice that had for centuries been worshiped as part of the tradition and commitment to the lama suddenly became a danger to one’s samaya with the Dalai Lama. How can a practice, that is such a part of the tradition that has upheld the lineage, suddenly be the cause of broken samaya?
Furthermore, the Dalai Lama embodies the Tibetan cause and therefore any harm towards the Dalai Lama would also mean an intention to harm the Tibetan cause as well. On the contrary, Dorje Shugden on two occasions in Tibetan history acted to safeguard the Dalai Lama’s life. Dorje Shugden via the Panglung oracle had been the one to initiate the formation of the Chushi Gangdruk band of Khampa warriors that later escorted the Dalai Lama in his great escape out of Tibet. And it was the Panglung oracle who took trance of Dorje Shugden at the request of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche during the final hours and gave the instructions that he should leave Tibet immediately. Therefore, Dorje Shugden saved the Dalai Lama’s life and that means that he had safeguarded the hopes of the Tibetan cause.
For High Lamas, Geshes and ordinary practitioners to accept these allegations about Dorje Shugden, it would require one to accept the ban on face value. However, this would not be enough for the educated and informed, as they would immediately see through the faults and shortcomings of the ban. Therefore, we should explore the underlying reason why High Lamas, Geshes, ordinary monks and practitioners would accept or reject the ban.
For Those Who Abandon The Practice
As it was mentioned earlier, the followers of the Dalai Lama have to take the Dorje Shugden ban on face value and basically ignore the contradictions and the dire spiritual implications of the ban itself. The Dalai Lama being the spiritual head of Tibet, is the highest ranking lama and he definitely outranks any High Lama or Geshe who may be our teacher.
Therefore, it almost seems as if those who follow the Dalai Lama’s ban on Dorje Shugden are doing so because the Dalai Lama outranks their very own lamas who taught them Dorje Shugden’s practice in the first place. This has severe implications for our spiritual bond or samaya with our teacher because it is our teacher and not the Dalai Lama who gave us precious teachings, vows, commitments and initiations. Even if the Dalai Lama is our teacher, he cannot simply negate the spiritual commitments we have with our previous teacher.
If one has a simple Geshe as one’s teacher alongside the Dalai Lama, both should be considered equal in our practice. There is no higher-ranking Guru in our practice. According to the 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion by Ashvagosha, if we cannot engage in Dorje Shugden’s practice because we choose to abide by the ban, we have to return to the teacher who had given us the practice to explain and seek permission to give up our practice. If the teacher is no longer alive, we are bound by the commitment for life and we cannot simply give up the practice if we want to truly advance in our spiritual practice.
However, there are some who understand this point and who still choose to abandon the practice. In forsaking the spiritual aspect of the guru-disciple relationship, it must be to gain some sort of reputation or monetary benefit through this association and adherence to the Dalai Lama’s ban. If one is seen to be associated with the Dalai Lama, it would boost one’s perceived Dharma ‘currency’ and propel one into a ‘higher’ spiritual circle and this would make it easier to raise funds and for people to offer assistance. This means forsaking one’s samaya with the lama who had given the practice to you and hence, any spiritual dimension to this direction is gone. One would have traded one’s spiritual commitments for the benefits of the high rank that the Dalai Lama provides.
For Those Who Maintain The Practice
For Dorje Shugden practitioners, who decide to follow through with the lama and Dorje Shugden, they can easily see the faults in the reasons given to justify the Dorje Shugden ban. They cannot ignore the contradictions and implications of upholding the ban and are not swayed by the high public status of the Dalai Lama because the Dalai Lama cannot simply override the instructions and samaya that one has with one’s lama.
Hence, the rank of the Dalai Lama would hold no sway in the decision to maintain one’s Dorje Shugden’s practice. For a Dorje Shugden practitioner, maintaining the samaya that one has with one’s lama is of paramount importance. This is because one’s spiritual practice is of the utmost priority and the underlining reason for this is to gain real spiritual attainments and enlightenment.
However, there are implications of going against the Dalai Lama’s ban on Dorje Shugden and that comes with the price of being ostracised within the Tibetan community if one is Tibetan. Furthermore, if one is influential and regarded as a threat, personal information could potentially be put on the Tibetan leadership’s hit list, which is published on their own website. This would undoubtedly incite lynch mobs and the threat of physical violence. The price is high but one would be able to keep and maintain one’s samaya and thus be able to gain attainments.
It seems that those who uphold the ban on Dorje Shugden may not be doing so simply out of pure devotion to the Dalai Lama. They may have a vested interest in securing a picture with the Dalai Lama or other ways to appear close to him in order to appear legitimate and credible in the eyes of the public.
This would definitely translate to dollars and cents in terms of sponsorship and funding for their respective organisations. So, there are those who are really looking to profit from their connection with the Dalai Lama and are adhering to the ban as a political move in order to further their own agenda. On the other hand, those who continue to uphold and practice Dorje Shugden have chosen to face being ostracized and harassed for their spiritual conviction rather than appearing to be politically correct.
Kyabje Denma Gonsa Rinpoche
on guru devotion
Or view the video on the server at:
At this time, we see guru devotion in the great monasteries, it is like a vessel leaking. At this time, in the four great monasteries, I see the first [in guru devotion] is Tashi Lhunpo. I am not flattering. The better one is Tashi Lhunpo monks.
Before, Sera has a lot of monks joining…
(video breaks abruptly)
…What I am teaching you today, this is correct or not correct, you must examine. If it is correct, you must practice. If it is not correct, then you can discard it. That is okay.
In brief, you all must carefully examine Lama Tsongkhapa’s Dharma. Apart from that, at this time, Lama Tsongkhapa’s Dharma is like a butter lamp in the strong wind. It has very nearly extinguished, like that. Now you all must carefully examine Lama Tsongkhapa’s Dharma, must carefully examine Lama Tsongkhapa’s Dharma. Do you understand?
If you practise the Protector [referring to Dorje Shugden], you do the practice. If you don’t practise, you don’t do the practice. This is no problem. If you practise, say it very clearly – “I do the practice.” If you don’t practice, say it very clearly – “I don’t do the practice.” Don’t be two-faced.
Must have unity and solidarity. Do you understand? Then good. Then it will be useful that we are monks and stay in the big monasteries. [meaning if they are monks but have no unity, it will not be useful]
At night, all our virtues we must dedicate to enlightenment and the growth of Buddha Dharma, and all the holy masters’ long life, and make aspirational prayers for the growth of Lama Tsongkhapa’s combined sutric and tantric Dharma and for it to remain for a long time. Do you understand?
And if you are a Dorje Shugden practitioner, make aspirational prayers for Dorje Shugden’s blessings to spread all around the world. If you are not a Dorje Shugden practitioner, make aspirational prayers for all protectors’ blessings to be timely and for the Buddha Dharma to grow.
Then good. Then all of you work towards mental unity and pure vows. Please practise well. That’s all, thank you. Finish.
For more interesting information:
- The Buddhist Divide – An Unholy Campaign Against Religious Freedom
- To Sum It Up
- Who Is Dorje Shugden To Me
- Miraculous Healing
- Are You Secular or Spiritual
- Nechung – The Retiring Devil of Tibet
- 700 Meet A Buddha
- 10 Holy Dorje Shugden Statues in the World
- The Sakya Lineage & Dorje Shugden
- The Prophecy of the 16th Karmapa
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