A Commentary on Religious Intolerance & the Dalai Lama

By: Khenpo Gurudas Sunyatananda

Although many Westerners have become more familiar with various expressions of Buddhism, there remain some aspects of the ancient traditions that continue to evade popular culture and understanding. Our ideas are largely shaped by the media, and the “face” painted by various organisations’ public relations efforts, rather than being formed by close examination, reasoning and investigation.

The public impression of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama is a classic example of this kind of superficially developed image. Few Westerners understand the workings and politics of Tibetan Buddhism and of the Tibetan Government in Exile. They see the media coverage, the sound bytes encouraging compassion, environmental responsibility and calling for an end to violence and oppression – in which His Holiness seems to speak with a sense of genuine concern for all of humanity. Along with the Karmama, the Dalai Lama is, after all, considered by Tibetan Buddhists, to be the primary embodiment of the Buddha of Compassion, Chenrezig (Avalokiteśvara).

As a Tibetan Buddhist and particularly as an ordained monk, who has received initiation into Tibetan spiritual practices from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I maintain respect for him as one of the principal spiritual teachers of my lineage. This respect does not, however, preclude the responsibility every monastic and every practitioner has to think for themselves, examine the teachings being transmitted to them, and question anything which appears to contradict reasoning or the message and essence of the Dharma path.

One of the mounting concerns for me personally, involves the marginalisation, displacement and mistreatment of a number of Buddhist monks, including complete withdrawal of food/support, access to medical attention and a seemingly “blind eye” to violence, over what is, at the surface, a difference in spiritual practices/prayers and traditions. And it cannot be ignored that this disagreement has escalated and caused tremendous suffering, in no small part due to a questionable “ban” by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, against the practice of this particular Buddhist devotion, which incited marginalisation and mistreatment of the monks, who were bound by their monastic vows to continue the devotion for life.

This spiritual practice is the devotional practice to a Tibetan Dharma protector (something of a Tibetan Buddhist equivalent of a patron saint or guardian angel, although in the Buddhist vernacular, the word “deity” is used – without implication of the kind of Western or Abrahamic “creator deities”). A Dharma protector is said to be an emanation of an enlightened being (or bodhisattva), who have dedicated themselves to avert or protect against any obstacles to a particular group of practitioners spiritual realisation. It has been a tradition within India for every monastery to have its own patron or Dharmapala – a custom which spread among Mahayana Buddhists to Tibet.

This entire concept of Dharma protectors has another aspect – one tied-in to the more superstitious and legends of the ancient Tibetan mythos. For example, many of these protectors or “patron saints” are believed to have been Tibetan “mountain spirits”, who were subdued and bound under oath by the Great Guru Rinpoche, and there is considerable disagreement among various schools and sects, concerning which Dharmapala belong to which class of protectors.

Overall, I have remained uninvolved in such meritless disagreement, politics and sectarian posturing. Such things do nothing to alleviate suffering, and frequently involve elements of ancient dispute and territorialism that are not useful or relevant to a postmodern practice of the Dharma.

The Dharmapala Gyalchen Dorje Shugden is one of the principal Dharma protectors and considered to be the Dharma protector of Lord Manjushri, from whom Je Tsongkhapa – the Great Lama who illuminated the Dharma in Tibet, by bringing the mindstreams of the great sectarian expressions of Buddhism into one enlightened path – received his training.

For some reason, we may never really know, in the late 1970s, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama – who was himself a practitioner of Shugden devotion – issued a statement against the practice. In July of 1980, this disagreement over the practice was elevated by His Holiness’ speech at Sera Monastery, in Southern India, during which he said:

“To summarise my views, I am not saying Gyalchen [Dorje Shugden] is not an authentic Deity, but in any event, for those who mainly rely on Palden Lhamo or Gyalpo Kunga [Nechung], whether it be a great master or a monastery, it does not bode well to worship Gyalchen.”

Such a statement, while surprising, was not something that raised any concern for those of us who read about it in the West, since it seemed to indicate that His Holiness was simply making a prescription from a personal perspective. The Dalai Lama, while perceived to be the equivalent of the Roman Catholic Pope, does not traditionally have the authority (as His Holiness has often reminded listeners) to issue “edicts” and “order” people to engage in one particular spiritual practice or another. In fact, it appeared that historically, the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan Government in Exile were devoted to bringing together the many fragmented sects of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon traditions, to recognise and respect the diverse traditions that make up the fabric of Tibetan culture and spirituality.

Three years later, however, the Dalai Lama orders a beautiful murti (temple statue) of Dorje Shugden to be broken into pieces and removed from great Puja Hall of Ganden Monastery. And by March of 1996, it became apparent that what began as a rather curious disagreement over spiritual traditions was now anything but that, as the Dalai Lama issued a formal ban against the Shugden sadhana (spiritual devotion) in his annual teachings at Thekchen Choeling Temple in Dharamsala, saying:

“Whether outside of Tibet or within Tibet, this Deity is [in] discord with [government Deities] … this is serious in the context of the common cause of Tibet. Therefore unless I remind you once again, there are ones who pretend they have not heard it. It will be good if you comply [with what we are saying] without our having to resort to this last step. It will be the last resort if [we] have to knock on doors. It will be good if [they] can heed without having to resort to this last step. Whether it be a monastery, or the residence of eminent spiritual masters, or private individuals themselves, it will be a different matter if they do not have the interest of the Tibetan cause [in their heart]. If you consider the cause of Tibet, if you agree to the leadership of the Dalai Lama, if you support my part in the [exile] government, your stand should not be otherwise [on this point].”

This statement seemed to indicate a very serious breach between His Holiness and his own spiritual Teacher (guru), which raised some concern in my heart as a practitioner. But I also felt there was some sort of underlying political agenda behind the statement, and hoped that it would come to light and become resolved in short order, since these kinds of behaviours were certainly not consistent with the image of a Tibetan spiritual leader whose mission was underscored by non-sectarianism, equanimity and compassion.

I could not fathom what would cause one of my principal teachers to show such apparent disdain and disrespect for his senior teacher, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, his junior tutor, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, or our beloved teacher, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. In the Tibetan Buddhist practice, particularly in the Vajrayana tradition, this is called “breaking samaya” – severing the bonds and vows made to one’s teacher at initiation.

Shortly after that formal announcement of the ban, read at Drepung Monastery in April of 1996, as reports of sectarian violence began to come into Lojong Monastery and Lojong Hermitage (the monastic community I led in Arizona and Georgia, under the auspices of the Contemplative Monks of the Eightfold Path), we began hearing about the destruction of images, peoples’ homes, and threats being issued over this absurd disagreement. Letters to Dharamsala went unanswered.

Although the Shugden sadhana was part of the spiritual practice of many of our gurus and lamas, it was not something into which we had been initiated in the West; however, we felt compelled to make a string statement, decrying the reports of violence and accusations that were beginning to be hurled by both sides. After all, His Holiness himself taught us, “The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be.”

That motivation by love also forced me, two years later, in 1998, to formally stop wearing the traditional Tibetan robes, until an end to the injustice and intolerance was achieved. We issued a clear statement that this ban represents a human rights violation, and by its own admission, suppresses the perceived “democracy” of the Tibetan Government in Exile (stating, “… concepts like democracy and freedom of religion are empty when it concerns the well-being of H.H. the Dalai Lama and the common cause of Tibet.”).

How can it be that within the Tibetan Government in Exile, freedom to practice all forms of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Jain Dharma, as well as recognition and freedom to engage in the spiritual practices of the ancient Bön tradition are permitted, while the simple devotional practice of a group of monks who otherwise have far more in common with the main monasteries of Ganden Shartse, Drepung and Sera than any of the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism? Something is wrong. We are not being given the full story.

I certainly do not feel qualified to comment or speculate on whether or not there is a constitutional right for monasteries to reject the traditions of their past lamas and gurus and restrict particular spiritual practices, once considered acceptable. And I will say that if this were simply a disagreement, and resulted in a peaceful, compassion-focused schism between two sects of Tibetan Gelugpa, then I would have seen no dramatic cause for alarm. However, it is never acceptable for a group to abuse its authority and demonise people, causing them to be disparaged, marginalised and displaced from their monastic homes; while simultaneously encouraging the public to refuse any contact and support of these displaced monks – resulting in the considerable hardship, suffering and even senseless death of many monks, who were refused food, shelter and medical care.

Sectarianism is bullshit, in the simplest of terms. And religious separatism is sickening and an embarrassment. But when a philosophy, such as Tibetan Buddhism, which is founded upon the awareness of our role in the creation of suffering, and focused on alleviating that suffering by avoiding the root causes, and serving with an open, compassionate heart, begins to cause more suffering than ever before, all in the name of intolerance and dogmatism, we can not be silent.

In his book, “Gurus for Hire, Enlightenment for Sale”, our esteemed and respected Teacher, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, writes of this controversial ban, “The Tibetans create suffering even in the only thing they have to offer the world: Buddhism. Leave the Tibetans to their own suffering. This has nothing to do with us non-Tibetans.”

I never wish to disrespect or disregard the teachings and advice of these most advanced and attained teachers; however, I must first remain faithful to the vows and commitments made in my ordinations to the Buddhist and Franciscan contemplative traditions. Among those vows was a commitment to uphold human rights, and to “without waivering, confront human rights violations, social justice issues and the causes of suffering” wherever I encounter them.

At serious question is the matter of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s discrimination against Shugden practitioners, and whether he is actually violating Indian laws against religious/deity discrimination, as well as the fundamental concern about the ban’s apparent transgression of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Within India’s Constitution is a provision governing ‘freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion’ demands that ‘all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.’ (cf: Article 25; Constitution of India).

The Shugdenpa – practitioners of the devotion to Gyalchen Dorje Shugden – have not only faced ostracisation from Buddhist gatherings, but have faced such reprehensible and unethical hardships as the loss of their jobs, expulsion from school for their children, refusal of medical care and other inhumane treatment, as well as cases of extreme physical violence.

What has the Dalai Lama done to resolve this cause of unbearable (and unprovoked) suffering? Nothing. Over the past three decades, he seems to have done nothing other than continue to underscore the discrimination and create greater and greater hardships on the people entrusted to his care. I find this very painful to watch.

Article 2 of the United Nations Declaration On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Intolerance And Of Discrimination Based On Religion Or Belief adopted by the General Assembly in 1981 says: “No one shall be subject to discrimination by any State, institution, group of persons, or person on the grounds of religion or other belief.”

On November 12, 2009, His Holiness was among the spiritual leaders who endorsed and launched the Charter for Compassion – a bold initiative that was the brainchild of 2008 TED Prize-winner, Karen Armstrong, and made possible by the generous support of the Fetzer Institute. The Charter of Compassion is a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life.

The words of the brief, but powerful Charter are included below, not only because I personally believe they are concepts we can all get behind and support wholeheartedly, but because I find it deeply disturbing that His Holiness would publicly appear to support such a tremendous work, and yet violate the very principals on which it was founded:

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

The violence continues to escalate. In May of last year tulkus Lobsang Damchoe and Lobsang Choekyi Gyaltsen, were savagely attacked by six men. Both of the victims are young boys. Where is the compassion in such violent attacks?

Where is the compassion behind refusing food to a monk? Where is the compassion that drives hospitals and doctors’ offices to refuse healthcare to Shugden practitioners?

What we see in the Tibetan Government in Exile, much like we see within the walls of the Vatican, is what happens when the separations between religious institutions and civil government are blurred.

In February 2008, more than 900 monks were expelled from their monasteries, at the order of the Dalai Lama, under conditions that were, in and of themselves, highly suspect. Since that time, a form of institutionalised apartheid has been put in place within the Tibetan Government in Exile, and every attempt to ostracise, condemn, and spread fear about the Shugdenpa has continued to be made.

My personal perspective is that this kind of sectarianism is the direct result of what happens when the pure intentions and authentic message of great teachers, like Buddha Sakyamuni (or Rabbi Jesus), are corrupted, distorted and manipulated from pure philosophies into “religions”.

We see much the same kinds of persecution occurring in Burma, at the hands of the unjust and inhumane leaders of the State Religion there.

It’s sickening. And to be sure, sectarianism occurs in this country as well. In fact, our refusal to be silent about these kinds of injustices… our refusal to turn the teachings of the Buddha or the Christ into literally-interpreted, superstitious, dogmatic and fundamentalist religions… our insistence at remaining open, inclusive and dedicated to the compassionate care of ALL PEOPLE… has led to our Buddhist-Franciscan community losing all of its corporate and personal benefactors. We lost our monastic homes, our ability to feed hundreds of people on the streets every day, even our ability to clothe and feed our community of 54-74 monks and nuns.

And my recent decision to begin speaking more publicly about the injustices being suffered by the Shugdenpa, despite our not being Shugden practitioners ourselves, has further resulted in attempts to disparage, discredit and hurt my work, my reputation and the existence of our community. In fact, it has resulted in veiled threats and “promises” to make life “unbearable” for me and members of my ladrang (monastic household of the Order’s principal spiritual teacher).

Despite attempts by some to deny and gloss over such facts, Tibetan Buddhism is a highly syncretic and pluralistic form of Mahayana Buddhism, which has integrated elements of Tibetan Bon, Shamanism, Manichaeic tradition and animistic beliefs. Throughout history, the tension between the various authorities/lamas of different Tulku lineageshas created repeated conflicts in Tibet and for Tibetan Buddhism. This, I believe, will one day be revealed to be another unfortunate and unnecessary conflict, arising over political and egocentric agendas, and causing unacceptable suffering.

In an address given in 1996, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “Even if my master says something I compare it with what Je Tsongkhapa said and examine it on that basis.”

I have taken that advice to heart, and have therefore felt it necessary to publicly address the issue, and hopefully shed a less biased, less politicised, and less sectarian light on the issues.

It is my firm belief and focus of my constant encouragement for others to respond to sectarianism as a form of disease, and to work diligently to end all forms of intolerance, hatred and violence. To this end, I encourage others to consider ways in which they can support and offer encouragement to the marginalised and displaced monks of the Shugden tradition, as well as lay practitioners around the world. If this commitment makes it difficult for our monastic community to sustain itself, then we will disband, and live in individual hermitages, or on the streets, because nothing is more important than the practice of compassion, and the rejection of intolerance, injustice and all obstacles to the Dharma path. Our lives are vowed to alleviate suffering, wherever we encounter it, by any skilful means possible.

For my part, my refuge in the Enlightened Nature of All Beings (Buddha), the Path (Dharma) and the Fellowship of Practitioners (Sangha) gives me hope and peace. I continue to work for the same to be said for the two “sides” of this unfortunate controversy and disagreement.

I likewise pray to bring about the causes for merit, so that the Great Master Kyabje Zong Rinpoche may take reincarnation and allow us to sit at his Lotus Feet, and be reminded of the importance of an authentic reliance on the essence of the teachings of our supreme teacher, Jamgön (Je Tsongkhapa). I take refuge until I am enlightened, and from the positive merits I collect by practicing generosity, compassion and the other perfections, strive to attain realisation (enlightenment) for the benefit of all sentient beings, until suffering no longer exists.

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Drawing on the essential teachings of the great spiritual teachers, philosophers and freethinkers throughout time, Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda (retired Archbishop Francis-Maria Salvato, O.C.) has been regarded as a provocative, revolutionary “voice of reason” within the field of religion and spirituality, since 1983. Having the distinction of being one of the few openly non-theistic, openly-gay and post-denominational thinkers ever to serve as Bishop-Exarch and spiritual leader of the autocephalic Eastern Catholic Franciscans in North America, Gurudas is the author of more than 600 articles, eight books and currently serves as the spiritual advisor for a non-theistic, intentional spiritual community, The Spiritus Project. He can be reached at: http://orderofcompassion.com and http://livingdharma.spruz.com

Copyright ©2009-2010, Khenpo Gurudas Sunyatananda (The Most Reverend Dr. F. Francis-Maria G. Salvato, M.Sc., O.C.). All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced, blogged, quoted or distributed, provided the entire copyright including contact information remain intact. It may NOT be altered in any way, without express written permission.

16 Comments on “A Commentary on Religious Intolerance & the Dalai Lama”

  1. Thank you, Gurudas, for bringing this issue to the attention of those of us who were not aware of it before. Your compassion and committment to your vows to reject intolerance, injustice and all obstacles to the Dharma path causes me to strengthen my resolve to do the same. This is an excellent, insightful article you’ve written for all of us, giving us another opportunity to figure out how, with our compassion (amongst other resources), we can help in this very sad situation. Namaste’.

  2. Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m a little astounded as i had not been aware of this secular discrimination. It seems that whatever becomes iconoclast by media attention becomes soiled. Rather than strive for individual perfection, we prefer to make gods with clay feet. Compassion and tolerance can go such a long ways in resolving differences, but only by remembering what it involves can we truly practice it.

  3. One thing that I feel is imminently important about this article is it helps us understand that no religion/culture/spirtual practice, etc. is free from political secularism.

    This unfourtunate turn of events should serve to show those of us who have little understanding of Tibet and their political structure that there is more going on than the “mean chinese” taking away thier land. In fact before the cultural revolution in China there were at least 3 groups claiming leadership of Tibet. Tibet has problems just like the rest of the world. We tend to think of this area as much maligned when in fact it is much misunderstood.

    I also find it unfourtunate that His Holiness has drawn a line in the sand and shown a lack of compassion in this issue. Hopefully the questions asked and the publicity will cause him to explain himself more fully.

    We should all take every opportunity to always think for ourselves and practice compassion, even despite the examples set by leaders. It is important to be humble yes but also to stand for what is right even when it is heartbreaking to do so.

  4. Agreed, Grainne:

    And while we may never know the “whole story”, or the reasons for the political machinations that led to such unjust treatment of these dedicated monks, we must always remember that human rights is more important than supporting the popular, charismatic figure…

    Even beloved figures and “spiritual leaders” make mistakes. (And for me personally, the first mistake is allowing the philosophy of the Buddha to be turned into a religion. Nothing truly good ever comes from religion… and nothing truly good ever will.)

    Peace!

  5. As a Nyingmapa, I see this as largely a Gelug problem. I am also aware that historically, Shugden practitioners have tended to be fundies with a hard-on for the teachings and followers of Padmasambhava. Under the direction of Pabongka Rinpoche, groups of monks were actually sent out like troops to destroy Nyingma monasteries, etc. so they have long had a pernicious influence on the solidarity of the Vajrayana community. There are strong indications that Shugden sects both within Tibet and here in the west, receive funds and support from the CCP merely because of their anti-HHDL stance. After considering the problem for decades in exile, HHDL has finally decided to act on this issue. Please note that he has not forbidden the private practice of Shugden, only its public presentation.I would advise anyone who wants a better understanding of this issue to read what HHDL himself has carefully articulated.

  6. Ogmin, anyone that has actually read any of Pabongka’s works or a his biography would dispute your claims. For that matter if you’ve read Dudjom’s The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, then you would know better to say such things. After all dont you think it would have made it into Dudjom’s book if there were rogue army’s of gelugpa monks marching about the country side desicrating Guru Rinpoche statues?

  7. I really won’t begin to dispute such absurd and baseless claims as the idea that Shugdenpa are fundamentalist, which is preposterous, nor the offensive idea that Pabongka Rinpoche (in whose lineage I am ordained) would have endorsed, let alone ordered such violence. It’s utter and complete nonesense. But then we have to remember that the Nyingmapa are also the group that has been sharply criticised for the questionable proclamation of certain Western financial donors as “tulkus”. So I consider the source. (Interestingly, the only group I have heard endlessly spew the “my guru is a pure guru and pure lineage” bullshit in the U.S. has been Nyingma groups. So my opinion about fundamentalism in Buddhism sharply differs from yours, Ogmin.) Given that we have always observed a devotion to Guru Rinpoche, I find it equally absurd to consider the idea that Shugdenpa have a “hard on” against the Nyingmapa or Guru Rinpoche.

    Namaste!

  8. Thank you for a balanced article.

    I just wanted to add that far from there being a schism between the Nyingmapas and Shugdenpas, HH Penor Rinpoche, a NYINGMA High Lama, opened his ladrang to the ostracised Shugden practitioners so that they may have access to food. May HH Penor Rinpoche return swiftly to benefit many sentient beings.

    Please read this (http://www.dorjeshugden.com/forum/index.php?topic=666.0)
    HH Penor Rinpoche Sympathetic to Dorje Shugden Monks

    Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement is around 5 hours drive away from Bangalore in South India. From Bylakuppe to Sera is another 30 minutes through the villages.

    Bylakuppe has a large population of Tibetans of which there are many Monasteries such as Sera, Serpom, Penor Rinpoche’s Monastery, Zongkar Choede, and not far is Gyurme Tantric College.

    Many shops that sell daily needs in that area are owned by Tibetans laity.

    When the ban came down from HH Dalai Lama, even association on a social, business or casual manner NEVERMIND SPIRITUAL with Dorje Shugden practitioners are not allowed. On all the Tibetan store/business fronts, notices were posted that if you practice Dorje Shugden, you may not purchase from here or enter!! Many Tibetan salespeople did not want to post up the sign, but they also had no choice. They themselves said off camera. Why? Because they need business to support their families and this ban just curtails business and Tibetan Govt does not reimburse them in any way.

    From Sera Monastery to the town of Byalukuppe is a ride of around 30 minutes. But there are many stores on the way to Bylakuppe that would save time/energy to purchase from without having to go Bylakuppe.

    There are many poor, sick, aged, very young and infirmed monks that makes it difficult to get to Bylakuppe to purchase supplies especially during the summer monsoons. Monsoons are relentless rains for 3 months with plenty of very muddy roads.

    Penor Rinpoche’s Monastery is halfway from Sera to Bylukuppe and in his monastery there are stores selling supplies. Businesses catering to the needs of locals for a cheap price for convenience sake.

    When Penor Rinpoche heard re the ban and the difficulties/inconveniences for many monks to purchase items, PENOR RINPOCHE OPENED UP HIS NAMDROLING NYINGMA MONASTERY (fhttp://www.namdroling.org/) for the Dorje Shugden monks to get supplies. Shocked the local community in both good and bad ways! Shocked the Tibetan Govt. Shocked the others shops!

    This was a powerful statement from such a high being. Penor Rinpoche has never commented against Dorje Shugden. Nor do you see him running to Dharamsala to attend teachings, long life pujas to Dalai Lama or get involved with Tibetan Politics. He doesn’t dislike the Dalai lama, but he doesn’t regard Dalai Lama as the spiritual head of all sects, full stop.

    Penor Rinpoche doesn’t need the support of the Tibetan Govt and Dalai Lama to make his work as large as it had become. Also Penor Rinpoche really is unbiased, compassionate and a strong lama. He doesn’t care regarding politics or religious bans that are unfair or should not be applied.

    Penor Rinpoche allowing monks who refused to give up their centuries old practice of Dorje Shugden to enter his monastery and interact was a huge message to the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Govt. The Dalai Lama and Tibetan Govt DARE NOT SPEAK UP AGAINST THIS ACT. They know that whatever they are doing with bans, can only be done within the Gelug for now, of which the Dalai Lama belongs to, BUT NO OTHER SECT WOULD EVER TOLERATE CRITICISM, BANS, RULES AND REGULATIONS MADE TO THEM BY A DALAI LAMA WEARING A YELLOW HAT.

    In fact, because the Dalai Lama is so famous, to rub shoulders with him or take pictures can hurdle you temporarily into the limelight which will boost your centre and sponsorship. Sad.

    Many lamas of all sects would do that in order to further their own causes. We will observe the truth of this after Dalai Lama passes away whether the Tibetan Religious leaders/Monasteries gel together or fall further apart. Not one Leader of a Sect will be able to take over the Dalai Lama’s position. That is for sure if we observe history.

    Penor Rinpoche is someone who practiced his own lineage perfectly without involving in politics which shows his great sense of dharma purpose and a truly evolved being. A great example. Very inspiring.

    I wish HH Penor Rinpoche’s incarnation returns soon and spreads the light of BuddhaDharma again.

    TK

  9. “In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an ecumenical movement became popular among the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Naturally, the fundamentalist Shugdenistas objected. Disciples of a powerful pro-Shugden lama named Pabongka Rinpoche allegedly destroyed some Nyingma monasteries and statues of the founder of Nyingma, Padmasambhava (a.k.a. Guru Rinpoche). In response, the 13th Dalai Lama forbade invocation of Shugden, saying that such invocation was destroying Buddhism. Pabongka and his disciples continued the practice surreptitiously, however.”

    source

  10. That your response is inflammatory and misleading notwithstanding, Ogmin, there are more significant errors and facts you continue to choose to overlook.

    And while no one has contributed more to understanding the essence of Tibetan Buddhism, since Je Tsongkhapa, than Je Pabongkha Rinpoche, I will begin by saying that it’s too bad that ecumenical spirit doesn’t seem to have rubbed off on you.

    Rather than taking their cue from you, about the Nyingma perspective, I would recommend that readers deal with this in a more logical, compassionate, intelligent and rational method. The former throne-holder of the Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma tradition, His Holiness, the late Penor Rinpoche, would never have opened his monasteries (in defiance of Tenzin Gyatso’s edict and absurd warnings about the “dangerous Shudgenpa”) to these monks, if their practice were dangerous, objectionable or injurious to the Dharma. Yet he did, in fact open Namdroling Monastery to the displaced monks, making a POWERFUL statement about compassion, the Dharma, and the Shugden practice, as well as “ecumenism” (for what that’s worth).

    You disgrace your teacher when you refer to monks and the high lamas in whose lineage we serve, by calling us “Shugdenistas” (yes, I now practice the Shugden sadhana, as do all of the monks in our order). I am sickened by yet another display of vile sectarian bullshit from the Western Buddhist community, especially from those who are supposedly ordained.

    May you and all those trapped by ignorance and hatred, intolerance and stupidity find relief and wisdom at the Lotus Feet of the Awakened Ones.

    Namaste.

    – khenpo gurudas sunyatananda

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