Through the Eye of Dorje Shugden Buddhists
In recent years, Dorje Shugden has become a controversial issue in which many western Buddhists who follow the Dorje Shugden deity of the Tibetan Buddhism have raised the issue of religious freedom under the Dalai Lama.
CNN's report on Dorje Shugden:
Dalai Lama Greeted by Protesters in Manhattan
As I did my research on Tibet, I saw an Internet newsgroup called alt.religion.buddhism.tibetan, whree many Buddhists were arguing over the Dorje Shugden issue. A search via the Deja News search engine yielded over two thousand messages posted in the newsgroup on the subject of Dorje Shugden. Much of the details are very religious in nature, but I have gathered the more introductory posts that offer a glimpse of the issue.
On The Outs
by John Goetz
NOW magazine, January 22-28, 1998
Gonzar Ripoche, the spiritual leader of one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the exile community outside India, says:
"I have spent many years in exile and have a great reverence for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. But now he is abusing our Freedom by banning Shugden. It makes me very sad."
It's important to realize what the ban of Dorje Shugden means.
The Tibetan Studies Press Office, a homepage of the European study groups on Tibetan Buddhism, carries a commentary:
"In public the Dalai Lama is preaching harmony and tolerance, among Tibetans he is urging an incomparable witch-hunt against the followers of the protector deity - among whom was his own root Lama."
The site also contains a full text of the Cholsum Resolution, in which delegates from various Tibetan organizations agreed on measures against persons who rely on Dorje Shugden as a protector-deity.
Part of the resolution states: "To make it impossible for those who are engaged in undermining the prestige of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and our government to get access to foreign travels, admission into schools, old age benefits, child support systems, and aid for the destitute, we will urge that these people are not put in the same category as other Tibetans."
James Burns, a British Buddhist devoted to Dorje Shugden, has written many highly informative posts on the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.buddhism.tibet. Here are links to some of his posts, listed in sequence of introducing the background of the issue to the eventual ban, and the reactions of Dorje Shugden followers.
Burns explained his feelings in a post on Sept. 15, 1998:
"In the UK how would you feel if you were not allowed to travel abroad because you are a Buddhist?
How would you feel if you were not allowed to hold a legal, government or medical post because of your religion?
How would you feel if your children and relatives were banned from attending state schools?
How would you feel if someone was sick in your family but you were frightened to ask for medical help because people would find out what your religion was?
How would you feel if people boycotted your business or profession just because you held certain beliefs?
How would you feel if your relatives and friends were encouraged to spy on you and report what you did just because of what you believed?
How would you feel if people came into your house uninvited and removed those things that you held most sacred?
How would you feel if you lost your pension and state benefits just because you were a Buddhist?
How would you feel if, on the same basis, your UK citizenship was removed?"
Dorje Shugden Ban, background:
Dorje Shugden Ban, reactions and repression part 1:
(His Material Highness: For a look at the original article mentioned in this post, please see: His Material Highness: http://www.salonmagazine.com/news/1998/07/13news.html
The Mongoose-Canine Letter:
This is one of the most interesting posts that includes a letter by a Tibetan insider, addressed to the Dalai Lama, that showed many intricate secrets of the Tibetan government in exile. James Burns begins to see the truth behind the Tibetan propaganda.
"To people in the West we seem to think that the exiled community is and has been united behind the Dalai Lama throughout it's existence. However as is well known to the Tibetans themselves the truth is very far from this." "The Dalai Lama has exercised Power and control most effectively through the flow of information." "It is remarkable how effective such information control has been on the minds of Westerners. We are only now beginning to see a cultural questioning of issues Tibetan and this has long been overdue. The Dalai Lama has felt so confident about his propaganda efforts that in a speech earlier this year he was proclaiming how his fame would be the determining factor in the Dorje Shugden issue."
A disillusioned Dorje Shugden follower (view 1)
James Burns wrote: "Yes Chris. I have got to say that for many years I was a firm supporter of the Dalai Lama and all that he stood for and tried to do. When the Dorje Shugden issue came to a head by the introduction of the Ban, I still supported him although I felt that he had made a serious mistake on this issue and that he needed to change." "However when I began to look into matters it also began to be clear to me that there were a lot of other things that I could not approve of with regard to the actions of His Hoiness. It was quite contrary to what I had expected of him."
"For example I found out that the beatings so graphically shown of Tibetan Monks in there monasteries in the late 80's were not being carried out by the Chinese as was being suggested but were actually carried out by Tibetans! The style of the beatings were typically Tibetan and quite beyond the style and methods of Chinese soldiers or police."
[For facts presented by a Tibetan that may back up this point, please read: "Tibetans and the Cultural Revolution".]
"I further found out that the unrest at this time had been precipitated by the Dalai Lama's envoys to Tibet who had abused the hospitality of their Chinese hosts. This made me give some serious attention to the amount and degree of propaganda coming from Tibet House and the claims of the Chinese."
A disillusioned Dorje Shugden follower (view 2)
James Burns wrote: "As I have pointed out previously let no-one be in any doubt that it is the Dalai Lama who is behind the United Cholsum Organization. It is commonly perceived, in the Exiled Community, to be the public vehicle of his private office. In trying to handle the Dorje Shugden issue through this vehicle he is no doubt attempting to give himself an escape route should the actions of the United Cholsum Organization be subject to the International condemnation that it so richly deserves."
"The people on this newsgroup who continue to support the Dalai Lama's efforts in persecuting a section of his own people are a disgrace to Buddhism and to humanity. Such people are not Buddhists. If they were then they would do what they could for those in distress. The sectarian and fundamentalist attitudes that these people complain of can most clearly be seen in their own ranks. The right of all people to enjoy freedom of spiritual belief and practice must be universally proclaimed. Where such freedoms are not to be found it must be condemned with the utmost energy. Tyranny in any disguise must be recognised for what it is and firmly opposed."
"People who speak universally of freedom, democracy and openness, yet persecute and restrict their own people must be seen for the hypocrites that they are. There is no room in modern society for this form of behaviour and we must make it known that people who do so can expect no support for their activities."
For more informative articles by James Burns, please search with the Deja News engine for posts by James Burns in the forum alt.religion.buddhism.tibet.
(Since the Deja News has archived some of these posts, you will see "No Matches" on some of the searches. But upon "no match", if you click on "searching through old messages, you will find a wealth of posts.)