September 16, 2008

Dorje Shugden: Deity or Demon?

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a lot of activity on this blog and elsewhere around the Buddhist web relating to the Dorje Shugden controversy. While we take no position on this rather arcane sectarian dispute, we have covered it in the past. In order to shed some light on the controversy, we reproduce here the opening two pages of a special section from the Spring 1998 issue with links to the section's contents, including interviews with Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, leader of the New Kadampa Tradition, and Thubten Jigme Norbu, the recently deceased brother of the Dalai Lama. Click on the images below to see larger versions of the opening spread, and the links below that to read the articles themselves. - The Editors

Dorje Shugden page 1 Dorje Shugden page 2


[UPDATE: Thanks to Danny Fisher for pointing out the Wikipedia link on the controversy above.]

Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
namkhah's picture

Cone Beckham: Apparently Dolgyal has been inserted into a revisionist version of the Lama Chopa tsog shing, circa 2008. Reminds me of the communists used to insert and remove political figures from photos depending on whim also.

Namkhah's picture

Your views are clearly non-Kadampa, look after your own defilements and shortcomings before judging other's intimate relationships with their teachers that you did not know. If this is the drivel former geshe instructed you to spread around the world, I pity your destiny as you will labour under the results of this Mara for a very long time. What a bitter failure and negative traitor KG is.

Gyalpo's picture

NKT has produced not one geshe despite hundreds of 'centres', you are not in a position to evaluate monastic academic standards. Even your bjg shugden scholar Rodney has a poor grasp of the language and terminology, let alone qualified to set us right on Tibetan history. Spiteful is an adjective very appropriate to former geshe-la who is waging the nasty smear campaign with the willing and creative participation of his minions, manufacturing evermore outrageous porkies.

emptymountains's picture

Dear Dorje,

These are not listed as vows, more aspirations, as far as I understand it.

This artificial demarcation of the first 5 vows beings vows and the latter 5 vows being mere 'aspirations' comes solely from Tenzin Peljor, not from GKG, who teaches *10* vows (not 5 vows + 5 aspirations).

The ASA picked this up also, which tells me who instigated their letter.


emptymountains's picture

TP and Dorje,

First off, it was you who first raised the question of Rime in this discussion, not me. Interestingly, in post 1150, you said, “It is wrong what WSS claims that Rime would be a separate Buddhist tradition, it is an approach.”

The definition of tradition as posited by em in #1225 ... is not very applicable, because of using a vague term like ‘perfect’ which invites fuzziness...

I said, “Buddhadharma is always perfect in terms of being free from (doctrinal) error.”

... and because of the claim that it is “presented by an enlightened being” - the latter can’t be determined by an ordinary being, because only a Buddha knows who is a Buddha, it follows only a Buddha can determine what is a tradition and what not.

We know whether we ourselves are Buddhas. If we are not, we cannot go about creating our own personal synthesis of Buddha’s teachings, since we do not have the necessary discriminating wisdom. For example, I am not a Buddha so it is inappropriate of me to add to my tradition from other traditions.

If there is indeed a Rime ‘tradition’ (and I’m still waiting on something other than DJ’s word on that), then it is fine. But if it is nothing other than an eclectic approach (which is how TP, Ringu Tulku and others have explained it), then this raises serious issues.

Still, if the eclectic approach itself is considered the middle way, then we still need to identify what the second extreme (sectarianism being the first) would be. At what point is “all-inclusivism” taken too far?

The subject, Rime is a tradition because it is a synthesis of Buddha’s teachings presented by an enlightened being, a special set of Dharma instructions uniquely suited to that tradition’s practitioners, according to the needs and dispositions of its practitioners.


So what Dorje said is correct, based on your definition. But If you quote in that context RTR this is just a distraction or manoeuvre to avoid the consequence of your own position, that if you posit tradition in this way it follows Rime is a tradition. You have to accept this consequence.

But, as I quoted from Ringu Tulku (and to which you have previously agreed), there is no special set of Dharma instructions for Rime. There is just the four sets of Dharma instructions from the other four traditions, which unenlightened practitioners feel free to pick-and-choose from. Again from Samuel:

Rimed was not a school with a definite doctrinal position. (p. 537) Nor, as we have already seen, did the Rimed movement have any common philosophical standpoint. (p. 543)

You cannot be sectarian towards eclecticism, just as you cannot be sectarian towards sectarianism.


harry (gandul)'s picture


"What would change for your if Geshe-la himself wrote the manifest of the 21st Buddhist Century Dictator - what would you think then?"

What is the purpose of this question? Would you like to believe that KG wrote it or do you have any evidence?

Personally i am open to the possibility. Although i have my reasons to doubt it.

If he did write it i don't have a major problem with this. I wouldn't be happy of course. Maybe it's because i am new generation, i don't know, but i view KG as a human being as well as my spiritual guide. He has said things before which i did not agree with. As far as i'm concerned he is a man, who like all of us makes mistakes. I try to keep an open mind, with respect to apparent mistakes.

Dorje's picture

I think the model you have proposed is nonsense. You have used dodgy logic to come up with a model that ignores reality.

You still haven't explained why taking teachings from other traditions is in any way undesirable.

If one is faithfully practicing any teachings of the Buddha, defined by their adherence to the four seals, how is this a problem? Are you seriously suggesting, as your lineage lamas did, that following Mahayana Buddhist practices leads to unfortunate results?

Do you consider yourself to be a Buddhist following the Buddha's teaching or are you just a follower of Kelsang Gyatso?

Tenzin Peljor's picture

BTW, thank you Dorje for your contributions.

The wrong claims of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso with respect to history are not tenable any more. I hope lineageholder will report this to Geshe Kelsang, and he changes the slogans of the WSS campaign: "Please give us Wisdom!", "We learnt that you are no liar, Thank you!".

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Kagyupa and Dorje,

To address your posts about the Protector practice, there is historical, scriptural, logical and experiential reasons why Dorje Shugden is a Buddha. I'm frankly amazed if you haven't come across logical refutations of the Dalai Lama's dodgy reasons for banning the practices such as 'it's harming my health and the cause of Tibetan independence'. There is the logical argument that if Pabongkha and Trijang were confused about what is and what is not a suitable object of refuge, the whole Gelugpa tradition is called into question and loses its validity, since its lineage Gurus are not realized.

Trijang Rinpoche also gives many logical reasons why Dorje Shugden is a Buddha in his text 'Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors', as well as historical information (the incarnation lineage of Dorje Shugden and support from the 5th and 11th Dalai Lamas, to name just a couple of things). I'm not going to repeat all that information there, you can find it all over the internet.

Dorje has a one-track argument called 'Phabongkha was sectarian' - is that your reason for banning the practice? It's a very poor one. As I explained there are no modern day examples of sectarianism from Dorje Shugden practitioners, but there is a very BIG example of sectarianism from the Dalai Lama, but you don't condemn him. Even if Pabongkha destroyed Nyingma monasteries as you claim (and I don't accept), at least he didn't destroy a whole tradition of Buddhadharma as the Dalai Lama is doing. In fact, it can be argued that the Dalai Lama is destroying Buddhadharma in general. What worse crime can there be?

I personally feel you have exaggerated my statements on personal experience of the practice to the point where you feel that is the only evidence for Dorje Shugden being a Buddha. That's an extreme, and one you should avoid. As I said there is a wealth of other evidence if you want to examine it. Personally, I'm surprised you are prepared to dismiss personal experience as deceptive and unimportant. When Buddha said 'come and see' do you think he was just talking about doing academic research? Do I have to explain to you what realizations are and what characterizes them? I can do, but perhaps you'd be better studying lorig texts and understanding what a valid cognizer is. Geshe Chekhawa, in Training the Mind in Seven Points gave various criteria to measure success in the practice of training the mind, one of which is:

Always rely upon a happy mind alone

The measurement of having trained our mind is that we are always calm and happy. I have found that relying on Dorje Shugden has led to increasing calmness and happiness, that's how I know it's not deceptive. If delusions agitate the mind and Dharma pacifies it, it's not difficult to work out if your practice is successful or not. On the other hand, if your practice causes you to develop intellectual pride, jealousy or anger, this is a mara or obstruction and you are 'turning a god into a demon' as Geshe Chekhawa says. This would also include using Dharma for worldly purposes as the Dalai Lama is doing.

I'm astonished that you think so little about personal experience. There is an expression 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating', but you guys seem to think that:

* The proof of the pudding is whether a Master Chef tells you its okay or not - if not, you can't eat it!

* The proof of the pudding is whether the recipe looks good and is backed up by scriptural references

* The proof of the pudding is whether the ingredients come in nice packaging or not.

When Buddha asked his followers to test his teachings as they would test gold, he was encouraging them to investigate from all points of view, but also from experience of putting the teachings into practice. If you label all such experience as deceptive, one wonders what Nirvana would be for you? Of course there are deceptive minds and there are deceptive experiences, but Buddha explains how to tell the difference between them. From my experience, Dorje Shugden practice fulfills the criteria for a non-deceptive experience. If you've tried it and found otherwise, it's not for you. If you haven't tried it, there's nothing to talk about other than other people's ideas.

TheFinalTruth's picture

Jimmy the Westerners are very dependent on the transmission of Buddhism by the societies who were able to keep Buddhism alive. This is very true to every form of Buddhism, also for Tibetan Buddhism.

I think, it is a type of megalomania to think one Geshe is able to transfer Buddhism - especially the so deep and vast type of Indian-Tibetan Buddhism - to the West, not only this but also to praise this own set of teachings while belittling the Tibetan Buddhist tradition from which NKT derives and is completely dependent from.

It is also cultural megalomania to tell the Tibetans what they do wrong and spread the own cut and dried opinions about them via internet and press issues. Much more as almost no NKT people know Tibetan language or anything valid about the Tibetan history and culture. Almost all of them are unable to read the original Tibetan or Sanskrit sources and have to rely completely on 22 books (some of them are just a copy and paste editions from other boos of Geshe Kelsang) - NKT'S founder - while being discouraged to study the Tibetan or Sanskrit texts of the great Indian and Tibetan pandits, and being actively discouraged to study even texts by other authors than Kelsang Gyatso.

To adopt the Indian-Tibetan Buddhism to the West - if Westerners are ever able to fully understand and appreciate it - will take some hundred years. It was the same when the Indian Buddhism came to Tibet, it took some hundred years to give it a solid and valid ground there. The heritage and the deepness and vastness of Indian-Tibetan Buddhism, the Tibetans offer to the world, can't be measured. And no words can be found to really praise and express the gift they offer to the world. I am deeply and heartfelt grateful to all of the Tibetans who were able to keep that Buddhist heritage, I am deeply in debt to them and I will do - as a Westerner - what ever I can to repay their kindness, and to support them in any way possible.

It is clear that HH the Dalai Lama and other high realised Lamas play an important role in that transmission and adoption process, and that they are not only the hope of Tibetans but also the hope for Westerners who try to comprehend and to practice the complete three vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism, and strive for great enlightenment to benefit all sentient beings.

Although Buddhism does not belong to the Tibetans with respect to Tibetan Buddhism only the Tibetans are those who will guarantee a proper transmission process, and such a process will take time. You can see the healthy development in the Theravada Tradition in the West: there is still a great admiration and exchange with the masters from Thailand, Sri Lanka etc., great respect for the Sangha of those countries and the people there. And there is no doubt about that they are the elders and lineage holders and genuine Buddhist authorities. The same is true for Tibetan Buddhism. (- but not for NKT of course, they are "completely independent").

From a historical point of view, Westerners are the younger to all the Buddhist traditions. To the Theravada, Mahayana of all countries. As a younger one should respect the elder, this is what the Buddha has taught. If this is not done only faults will be the result. Even worldly beings are able to foresee the results of such a hubris.

With respect if Shugden is harming others read just Pabongkha Rinpoche in an introduction to the practice:

"[This protector of the doctrine] is extremely important for holding Dzong-ka-ba's tradition without mixing and corrupting [it] with confusions due to the great violence and the speed of the force of his actions, which fall like lightning to punish violently all those beings who have wronged the Yellow Hat Tradition, whether they are high or low. [This protector is also particularly significant with respect to the fact that] many from our own side, monks or lay people, high or low, are not content with Dzong-ka-ba's tradition, which is like pure gold, [and] have mixed and corrupted [this tradition with ] the mistaken views and practices from other schools, which are tenet systems that are reputed to be incredibly profound and amazingly fast but are [in reality] mistakes among mistakes, faulty, dangerous and misleading paths. In regard to this situation, this protector of the doctrine, this witness, manifests his own form or a variety of unbearable manifestations of terrifying and frightening wrathful and fierce appearances. Due to that, a variety of events, some of them having happened or happening, some of which have been heard or seen, seem to have taken place: some people become unhinged and mad, some have a heart attack and suddenly die, some [see] through a variety of inauspicious signs [their] wealth, accumulated possessions and descendants disappear without leaving any trace, like a pond whose feeding river has ceased, whereas some [find it] difficult to achieve anything in successive lifetimes."

It would be good to lay down arrogance and disrespect to other nations.

Cone Beckham's picture

What's fascinating to me is that a hallmark of the Kadampa tradition was it's reliance on the "Buddha's Word." Heck, the name of this lineage reflects that focus. Historically, the a major impetus of the Sarma lineages was an effort to rely on the Indian sources of Sutra and Tantra, to "get back to the source, so to speak." Tsong Khapa's synthesis of various lineages of practice and theory, including the Kadampa lineages, was always predicated on the authenticity of the Indic roots from which these practices and theories arose. And yet, to my knowledge, no one on the WSS / NKT side has given references to any Indic sources for this "protector practice" they defend. However, it has surpassed the main Dharmapalas mentioned time and again by Tsongkhapa--Mahakala, etc., and become the focal point of NKT practice. The NKT websites contain images of various HYT deities and mandalas, and almost invariably Dolgyal's image is there in the protector's place, if not at the center. To my knowledge, there's no iconographical history for such depictions--has anyone seen such iconography that dates even to the time of Pabongka, if not before?

I'd recommend that those of you who don't read Tibetan, learn it. Then, you can research Pabongka's history and the histories of DolGyal in the Sakya, etc.--

If one really investigates this dispassionately, there's only one conclusion you can come to. But it's pretty hard to withhold judgement, when faith is involved.

Lineageholder's picture


I did not know either of the Tutors personally, but that's not the point. The present Dalai Lama did know them personally, and despite receiving their kindness for many years, betrayed them by mixing Dharma with politics and bringing the Gelugpa tradition into a state of degeneration. Do you really think that the Dalai Lama criticizing Shugden practice, one of the heart practices of his Root Guru, and implicitly all those who practice it in the middle of an empowerment is the Kadampa way of life? Think again!

I am a spokesperson for nobody but myself but I do honor the great Kadampas who eschewed the mixing of Dharma and politics. As Geshe Chekhawa said, "Do not misuse Dharma". These are words that the present Dalai Lama should contemplate deeply.

Lineageholder's picture

GKG was not expelled from anything, because there was nothing to be expelled from. He had already completed his Geshe training and he had been present at his Geshe ceremony and had left Sera-Je many years previously. All he experienced was the spiteful revenge of the TGIE because of his open opposition to the Dalai Lama.

How can you be expelled from something you left many years ago? They can't take away any of his learning or realizations, so the so- called 'Sera Expulsion Letter' is meaningless.

harry (gandul)'s picture

Hi Dorje,

I get the point that the NKT ordination is different than that of a fully ordained monk, traditionally speaking anyways. NKT monks and nuns are NOT walking around saying "we are Gelongs", so i don't know why you think they are. Nobody is trying to fool anyone into believing that NKT monks/nuns have gone through the traditional stages of ordination and are now wearing the glorious robes as a result. I don't know where you get this idea. It is explained clearly that the traditional system has been replaced. I really like TP's response to the accusation of lying, saying that lying is intentionally deceiving, whereas expressing your point of view is not. Perhaps the NKT's ordination is invalid, but that wouldn't mean that NKT monks and nuns are being dishonest as they are simply following what they believe is the ordination of Buddha.

KG has changed the system so that there aren't different levels of ordination for different levels of practitioner, instead making it one ordination that practitioners of all levels can practice. The main function of JT's robes are not at all to indicate status. I'm not sure exactly what the main function is, perhaps LH can explain, i think they function as a reminder of what ordination means, or something along those lines. I am certain it is not much to do with indication of status. In simplifying the ordination into one, KG had to choose a set of robes. So he chose the most blessed. I'm more inclined to think he has done this for their qualities, not because they are an award or an indication of status. Of course if you have a negative view of KG you are probably going to expect that his reasons are unprincipled.

Once again, my main question is does NKT ordination really differ from what Buddha intended for monastics? If Buddha appeared in the west in the 21 century instead of India 2600 years ago, what would his vows look more like, the original ones or the NKT ones?

I'm sorry if my questions aren't very clear or helpful. I am trying to improve my own understanding here. For me it simply isn't enough to dismiss the ordination just because the system is changed. In Buddhism systems have been changing all the time, so as to adapt to the times and the cultures. The external differences of the ordination aren't enough to prove they differ internally, or essentially.

It would be interesting to look into what Thich Nat Hahn says about Buddha suggesting the removal of the vows of lesser importance. I would like to know if this can be traced back to a Sutra.

Ps: regarding the last 5 commitments, they are not mere aspirations. They are methods of moral discipline which are taken as commitments. It's not like you take them thinking i hope i can practice these one day. One takes them promising to practice them NOW, to the best of one's ability.

Dorje's picture

does the fact that a being is so represented say anything about how the person so representing views that being’s status (mudane v supramundane)?
No, not really. The five usually refer to a central figure its four guardians, gate keepers (of the mandala) or emanations interacting with the world with the four activities (pacifying, enriching, over powering and subjugating). This can be found in mandalas of enlightened beings and also retinues of unelightened protectors.

I think this idea grew out of the 'first' worldly protectors, the four guardian kings who inhabit the four directions of Mount Meru and help the Buddhist teachings if they can.

SeekingClarity's picture

Hi Harry

Thanks for your very honest post (#1432).

It seems that there are many complaints regarding the NKT. Here are a few that come to mind. I'm sure there are others people could add.

(1) The NKT/WSS is wrong about DS and has behaved badly towards the DL
(2) NKT is a cult
(3) NKT's emphasis on having only one teacher (GKG) is inappropriate
(4) GKG/NKT have not dealt with the "sex scandal" stuff appropriately
(5) NKT has encouraged/not actively discouraged certain members from illegitimately claiming benefits

I guess my only point would be that 2-5 in the above list are irrelevant to the DS debate in the sense that whether they are true or false has no bearing on whether DS is or is not a Buddha.

Like you, I think there is much of great value in GKG's books and I personally have appreciated the Dharma I learned in the NKT. (Others seemingly have had a pretty torrid time of it, though.)

emptymountains's picture

Dear DJ, KP, and TP:

KP, this is not my tripartite conceptual schema; it is the way Buddha taught us to analyze things. So, despite all everyone's recent responses, this remains unanswered from post #1167:

I still leave it up to you, then to correct #4. All you have to do is change and replace a few keywords:

4. In terms of non-sectarianism, Buddhism posits a middle way between the extremes of exclusivism/sectarianism and ???. To maintain the middle way and not fall into one of these extremes, we need both inclusivism/eclecticism and ??? together.

DJ, you said in post #1151 that the second extreme would be of the "New Age" variety, combining practices from both Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions. You haven't shown any internal inconsistencies resulting from my version of #4, but I can certainly show you unwanted inconsistencies if this is your version:

4. In terms of non-sectarianism, Buddhism posits a middle way between the extremes of exclusivism/sectarianism and "combining Buddhist practices with non-Buddhist practices." To maintain the middle way and not fall into one of these extremes, we need both inclusivism/eclecticism and "exclusion of non-Buddhist practices" together.

Just let me know!


Tenzin Peljor's picture

Some additional thoughts related to the previous discussion and some spiritual matters came to my mind.

1. experience

In general experience is no valid proof, its just experience. Experience can be deceptive as well. That’s why there is the approach by the Buddhist masters to not to cling to experiences or to proof their validity by further investigation and analysis.

To elaborate this point:
- some one who took drugs may have different experiences and convictions, but almost all of them are rather of deceptive nature
- a good beguiler will be always kind to fulfil his aims, he will be convincing and speak in a convincing manner, he may be also very generous to his future victims. There will be some who experienced to be betrayed and some not. The latter experience is no proof that the person was no beguiler, nor is the experience of the person who experiences the “kindness” of the beguiler before he actual cheats the victim, a valid proof, that the beguiler is a reliable person. The same example applies to an adult who abuses children or an abusive teacher. Therefore experiences have to be put in context and to be investigated from different perspectives
- westerners tend to cling on experiences. i met western people who had experiences of visions of buddhas, mandalas, padmasambhava etc. what struck me was that they were not really happy, and appeared to be rather confused or weird. When they asked genuine Tibetan lamas about their experiences (which in deed were quite amazing, I translated for them) these lamas said in all cases their problem is that they cling on those experiences and that Tibetans know this phenomenon and that this clinging will lead them to go crazy, therefore the lamas’ advice was in all cases to let go that experience. They also explained when someone starts with a spiritual path and meditation, there are certain “energy movements”, these lead to such experiences and they should not be taken seriously.
- In this context it is good to remind Je Tsongkhapa who had visions of Manjushri and who double checked it with Lama Umapa and the scriptures.
- Also the followers of Shoko Asahara (Aum Cult) and the people form the Jonestown Temple reported about their good experiences with their leaders and the good experiences in the context of their cults, but this didn’t proof their leaders to be holy beings, and the cults to offer valid ways to liberation.

2. scholarly approach
Another point is the rejection of a scholarly approach as being dry or as lacking experience. I think it should be kept in mind, that to be a scholar and a practitioner is not mutually exclusive. There are many scholars who are high realised practitioners, e.g. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, HH the Dalai Lama, the Ganden Tripas and so forth, and of course also Je Tsongkhapa or Atisha. Je Tsongkhapa is referred to be the “Crown Jewel of Scholars of the land of Snow (Tibet).” The Gelugpas believe that if one does not understand a topic properly one can not meditate on it, therefore they put emphasize on a precise understanding, to reject this as dry and superficial is somewhat foolish if one claims to be a follower of Je Tsongkhapa.

3. logic
With respect to mirage’s logic in # 916. If Manjushri and Shugden are one being then there is no problem. If they are not of one entity and Shugden is not enlightened and harmful than there is a problem. Like one’s mother and one’s dog are of two different entities, if one calls the own mother and the dog, probably both will come, and both will perform different functions according to the situation and their predispositions and one’s karma etc. So if you invite Shugden and he is not enlightened and harmful he will perform his function, like if you invite a thieve to show your treasures.

Dorje's picture

"Those who criticise the practice of Dorje Shugden are refuted by many different approaches such as:

1. Historical information
2. Logic and reasoning
3. Scriptural references
4. Personal experience of practitioners

and maybe other things I haven’t thought of. On the other hand, it seems to me that the Dalai Lama’s reasons for banning the practice are contrary to history, logic, scripture and experience."

This is not true. The position of those that oppose this practice is that it is rooted in sectarianism and sectarianism is to be rejected.

Proof that those lamas were sectarian can be found in the historical accounts of their sectarian activities, such as the forced conversion of non-gelug gompas in Kham by Phabongkhapa and his followers.

The teachings and claims made by Phabongkhapa and his followers also show their sectarianism and they themselves ally their protector to this political sectarian cause.

The claim that subjective personal experience validates this practice is meaningless unless one looks at exactlt what is being experienced and what the result was. For example, can we say that Phabongkhapa became a better follower of the Buddhadharma after worshipping this protector for much of his life, or did he instead become a powerful and charismatic politician who engaged in violent purges of other followers of the Buddha?

Looking at the senior students of Kelsang Gyatso, such as Gen-la Thubten Gyatso, Gen-la Samden Gyatso and Gen Kelsang Lodro, can we say that this protector helped them in keep their practice 'pure'? These were some of the foremost western exponents of this dharma protector practice, but it seems that their dharma practice was not protected from their delusions at all.

If, having run out of historical, political and doctrinal justifications for this practice, we are forced to turn to our personal experience, these are the kinds of questions we must ask.

I do have personal experience of worshipping this protector and nothing in that experience tells me that this is a valid dharma practice. Of course, other's experience may differ, as subjective experience is notoriously unreliable when dealing with such matters.

namkhah's picture

Gen Hur: Don't worry, their very celibacy ensures that these first generation Shugdenoids will die out very soon. In dharmic time, the blinking of an eye.

Gyalpo's picture

Get used to being defeated, its your destiny.

Namkhah's picture

Lineageholder: NKT/WSS's misusage of dead lama's authority is thoroughly reprehensible. Even disrespectful to the living– for example, Gelek Rinpoche specifically requested the end to unathorized use of his picture on your website as he does not endorse the cult fanatics agenda or aims in any way. Under tort law he is well within his rights to sue the culprits behind the hate website for defamation.
Lineageholder, did you actually know either the deceased senior or junior tutors personally? I guarantee readers you are not their spokesperson and it is highly impudent and yet another ongoing insult to the Tibetan community from the cultists. WSS/NKT is an insult to the very name Kadampa, a bad and sad joke.

Gyalpo's picture

whatever, GKG nonetheless was certainly expelled from his dratsang, and the completion of his degree questioned the text of the letter was previously posted here in its entirety (No. 111 above)

Dorje's picture

Of course, you’re free disagree and state Shugden is an ordinary Gyalpo that did take rebirth from throwing karma. But it’s your word against a number of earlier lamas, as I mentioned a few earlier.
Not just my word, Rodney. I think you'll find more lamas back my position than yours, if you want to play the numbers game. Generally, the lamas that claimed this gyalpo spirit was an emanation had some political or personal investment in making that claim.

Dorje's picture

EM, you are saying that Rime is not a tradition but are refusing to define 'tradition' to explain what you mean. I understand that the lamas and scholars you have mentioned do not consider Rime to be a tradition in the institutional monastic sense, and they are largely correct. But the four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism are not the only traditions of study and practice found in Tibet, they just happen to be the most prominent political entities. This is interesting when discussing Tibetan politics, but not so useful when we are discussing traditions of study and practice.

Until you give a definition of what you mean by 'tradition', there is no way to preceed with this irrelevant side-track of yours. As you may have guessed by the words at the top of this page, this discussion is about a protector deity, not your views on my tradition. I looked at the Rime wikipedia article and noticed that the discussion had been bizarrely sidetracked into a pointless exchange about this Gelug protector. I even noticed there was actually a section about this protector spirit at the end of the Rime article. This just makes a complete mockery of wikipedia. No wonder most people consider it a joke if it allows editors to add things that are so clearly part of their own manic obsessions.

Let's agree, if you want to discuss Rime, do it there. If you want to discuss this protector spirit, do it here. Deal?

Tenzin Peljor's picture

I agree with you Kagyuepa "This thread just keeps circling around on itself." though some interesting points were stated.

I felt also it may be time to stop, because its circling, and most things have been said. Also GKG will soon leave this earth and then the master mind behind the WSS campaign (and NKT) won't be present any more in the way it is now. For NKT will start another period in their history and it will probably be quite hard.

We will see what the future will bring...

Personally I see the WSS campaign as a present for present NKT students because it made unmistakeably clear what the real views and thoughts within NKT are.
After the 1996-98 campaign NKT worked hard to hide that and to appear to outsiders as smooth and easy acceptable as possible - mainly by applying a certain type of duplicity (saying things in public or to newbies differently then they really think or act, aimed to bring Newbie into the group. After they had confidence the real views were gradually communicated).
Some people woke up now due to the WSS campaign and have left NKT and are following now authentic Buddhist schools. So these people have a proper basis for their spiritual path. Probably in the future engaged NKT members, like LH, will say about the WSS campaign:

"This came from a bunch of over-enthusiastic and unskillful students of Geshe Kelsang, not from him. I don't rejoice that they had such bad view of the Dalai Lama, it was naive of them to exclaim this publicly and it’s certainly not right to force others to believe and follow it. I hope that such things do not happen these days. We live and learn."

and about LH someone will write:
"At that time, it wasn’t clear that what was being posted on tricycle blog and all over the internet was unskilful, but we can see that subsequently it was not a good idea. It was well intentioned but naive."

And probably Khyenrab will write Open Letters, stating:
""in ... we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue because we realized that in reality this is a Tibetan political problem and not the problem of Buddhism in general or the NKT. We made our decision public at this time -- everyone knows the NKT and myself completely stopped being involved in this Shugden issue at all levels.

I can guarantee that the NKT and myself have never performed inappropriate actions and will never do so in the future, this is our determination. We simply concentrate on the flourishing of holy Buddhadharma throughout the world - we have no other aim. I hope people gradually understand our true nature and function. "

and many people from NKT will claim:
"Things have changed!" (Like the PRC always claimed when criticism with respect to Tibet situation was issued.) - while on the root - the views - haven't really changed.


(Probably you had a link in your post and it was filtered out. I had the same. Remove the link and it will go through. Or add another word than the “it appears you already said that!” won't be shown again.)

Kagyupa's picture

Quoting from David Kay and from Tenzin Paljor's site :
"According to Kay, Geshe Kelsang was gravely concerned that the purity of Tsongkhapa's tradition was being undermined by the lingering inclusivism of his Western students, something he had been outspoken for some years, "but he now acted more forcefully in his opposition to it by discouraging his students both from receiving guidance from teachers of other traditions and from reading their books."[24] Kay states that another result of these "radically exclusive policies" was that after the foundation of NKT the Manjushri Institute Library, with over 3000 books,[25] was removed.[26] Kay goes on to state that, "this began with non-Gelug books being removed, but as Geshe Kelsang's vision crystallised, even books by Gelug teachers became unacceptable to him and the library disappeared altogether. He thus became convinced that the Tibetan Gelug tradition as a whole no longer embodied Tsongkhapa's pure teachings and that he and his disciples must therefore separate from it. From this point onwards, Tibetan Gelug lamas would no longer be invited to teach within his network. This perceived degeneration extended to include its highest-level lamas, and so even veneration for the Dalai Lama was now actively discouraged."[26] The pictures of the Dalai Lama were removed from the gompas and shrines of Geshe Kelsang's centres.[26] In 1990 Geshe Kelsang became also outspoken against the Geshe Studies Programme[24], and "made the pursuit of his new programmes compulsory."[24] According to Kay "As it was no longer possible for students to follow the programmes of both Geshes, the basis of Geshe Konchog's teaching programme at the Institute was undermined, and in 1991 he retired to Gyuto Monastery in Assam, India."[24]"

Call this "exclusivism," rather than it what you will, it should be obvious what it really is. These actions cannot by any stretch be called an example of any "Middle Way."

Dorje's picture

"Of all the thousands and thousands (some say millions!) of Dorje Shugden practitioners, this is all you’ve got to support your claim that Dorje Shugden practice is sectarian?"

Phabongkhapa was the source of the belief that this protector was an enlightened being that punished Gelugpas that developed faith in other traditions. Phabongkhapa isn't just one of the thousand followers, he is the source of it, and the source of it was a sectarian politician.

Of course, even though the sectarian views come from Phabongkhapa, his followers like Togden Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche and Dzeme Tulku continued to spread these sectarian views and act them out. Accounts of the sectarian activities of Phabongkhapa and his followers predate the current Dalai Lama's rejection of this protector worship by a long way, so your claim that this view comes from him is a nonsense that serves only to show your ignorance.

Phabongkhapa's letters were published by Trijang Rinpoche. They were in the public domain. Some texts pertinent to this issue were translated into English to allow people that cannot read Tibetan to understand the situation better. If these things had not been translated the NKT could still be hiding behind Kelsang Gyatso's false and misleading lies about this protector practice.

When Kelsang Gyatso said there was never a problem between Gelug and Nyingma traditions, he was lying. When he said that no Gelug lama had ever claimed this protector would harm a Gelugpa that took Nyingma teachings, he was lying. When Kelsang Gyatso said that the idea that this protector was harmful started with the Dalai Lama, he was lying. When Kelsang Gyatso said that the view that Phabongkhapa and his protector were sectarian started with the Dalai Lama, he was lying.

We now know that many of Kelsang Gyatso's remarks about this protector are lies because we can read the accounts and words of those that lived before the Dalai Lama, such as Ngawang Yonten Gyatso or Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, mentioned above, who totally opposed this protector worship on the basis that it is a spirit that spreads sectarianism.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

BTW, I hope my last posts, especially # 664 answers also earlier claims I made and who were picked up and questioned in Lyra's post # 580.

For more on this see my comments on NKT ordination at my WSS-unlocked block.

So far.

Good insights. Keep well. :-)

Gen Hur's picture

Marsden: Interesting that you deny your own side's superstitions about Shugden practice: personally I prefer to avoid teachings about precisely what Lord Buddha intended from neophyte recent converts with broken lineage (like NKT). If its all the same to you, we live in separate mileiu: I will never automatically respect a dress-up novice even as sangha. Stay 'very real' it merely furthers the pretense you are heavily invested in.

dougal's picture

wow Gyalpo, what can we possibly say to such vajra-like reasoning?

clearly, the debate's over - you win.

Dorje's picture

1. your entire argument is built on your blind faith in lamas who had a vested interest in promoting the lamas of their lineage. Nothing more than a house of cards.
2. Ditto.
3. The first mention anywhere of this spirit had it as a harmful gyalpo spirit that needed taming. The Fifth Dalai Lama was very clear on this, as was the Sakya Trizen. Your cult leader even agrees that the first view of this gyalpo spirit was as a gyalpo spirit.

The more flimsy your arguments get, the more inflated your hyperbole becomes. What a joke.

Lineageholder's picture

To refute the constant lies of those who criticise Geshe Kelsang in accordance with the wishes of the TGIE and claim that he is not a real Geshe:

Fact: Geshe Kelsang is a Geshe . To claim otherwise is either a mistake or a downright lie.

Dorje's picture

It shows that Shugden was already spread through Amdo and Mongolia before PabongkhaThis doesn't mean that Phabongkhapa didn't politicise it and use this protector to serve his political agenda.
We’re back to the straw man argument about refuge from earlier, there are two clearly distinct points here. One is claiming Shugden is an emanation of an enlightened being and one is about taking refuge. The former does not entail the latterThe former leads to the latter. Look at how the NKT treat this spirit. The idea of its being a worldly protector is completely lost and it is treated as a Buddha in every sense. The view that it is a suitable object of refuge because people have a conviction in its enlightened nature has become a view held by the NKT and others. Even without 'formal' refuge verses, it is given more importance than all except possibly Je Tsongkhapa, but as it is Je Tsongkhapa (according to these people) this distinction doesn't really exist. Read some of LH's posts to see this is no straw man.
As mentioned the Sakya Throne Holders mentioned Shugden was an emanation of Chenrezig but their rituals don’t take refuge in Shugden Sakya rituals place Shugden after Pehar in terms of importance, so they definitely didn't take refuge in it. They didn't actually do much with it. It was only ever of very minor importance to them.
Actually this so-called license was dug up by critics on e-sangha, otherwise it would have stayed undisseminated in the annals of Pabongkha’s collected works. So ironically indirectly it would appear your party’s criticisms are actually promoting Shugden.This quotation from Phabongkhapa shows that he classified his protector along with other worldly spirits, but saw those spirits as emanations and said they could be objects of refuge. This has led to a degeneration of the Dharma.
Another point is we’re not talking about “pure view” when stating Shugden is an emanation. You say “any kind of worldly protector”, but clearly Trijang Rinpoche mentions there is a difference between Shugden, Pehar, Dorje Legpa and the other protectors like Ode Gungyal, ones who were born from contaminated karma. There’s a difference between pure view and recognizing dependent origination. The only difference here is that these worldly spirits become popular protectors and over time people start calling them emanations. Often these verses of praise are mere flattery but if taken out of context can give the impression that a protector occupies a position of more importance than they do. In the Sakya tradition, for example, this gyalpo spirit may have been referred to as an emanation in some ritual texts and colophons but its real status can be shown by the fact that in these ritual texts it is assigned as an inferior of Pehar, it has no initiation or life entrustment and there is no official Sakya lo rgyus or legend connected to it.

T.P.'s picture

dear em, i switched in my last post to 'you' because the first part was addressed mainly to you.

In general I would suggest to examine your definition by using syllogisms. I think you know the way how to do that. I add here a general description from our class:

Eg. The subject – sound – is an impermanent phenomenon, because of being a product.

- subject / basis of dispute = sound
- predicate (of probandum) = impermanent phenomenon
- sign = product
• thesis / probandum = sound is an impermanent phenomenon
• negandum = sound is a permanent phenomenon
• predicate of negandum = permanent phenomenon

The definition of a correct sign is: that which is the 3 modes
• property of the subject 1
• pervasion:
– forward pervasion 2
– reverse pervasion 3

Proving that a particular reason is a correct sign that establishes a certain thesis = Proving that it is the three modes
(Note: if 2 is established, 3 is definitely established)

Eg. The subject – sound – is an impermanent phenomenon, because of being a product.
“product ” is a correct sign in that syllogism:
1 → sound is a product
2 → whatever is a product is pervaded by being an impermanent phenomenon
3 → whatever is not an impermanent phenomenon is pervaded by not being a product
{Debate in Tibetan Buddhism, pages 52 - 53}


We can use this to check if your definitions withstand logic.
Regards, Tenzin (I use an abbreviation for my full name now.)

harry (gandul)'s picture

Hi LH, i will try to reply to 1410 tomorrow. Thanks for your comments.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

The wisdom of individuality, related to the lotos family of Buddha Amithaba and compassion, would open the mind so much, to find teachings or ways to help others, that also to give Christian teachings to Christians would be not the slightest contradiction, when one really is able to see the ability of the other person. There are also records were students of Buddha taught Hindus just according to their tradition to help them to get a fortunate rebirth. such a deed is an expression of both, wisdom and compassion. of course if the person is ready for higher tenets these can be taught as well. but only if one knows them.

Dorje's picture

"No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head and saying “you must worship Shugden, but if you step out of line, he’ll kill you” "

Lama Gangchen is.

Kagyupa's picture

[quote]I have never been deceived by my Gurus or by the practice.

Those who criticise the practice of Dorje Shugden are refuted by many different approaches such as:

1. Historical information
2. Logic and reasoning
3. Scriptural references
4. Personal experience of practitioners

and maybe other things I haven’t thought of. On the other hand, it seems to me that the Dalai Lama’s reasons for banning the practice are contrary to history, logic, scripture and experience.[/quote]

Well, I have not seen any evidence from areas 1, 2, 0r 3...and the post I was referring to basically says "Personal experience trumps all."

How do you know you have not been deceived by your gurus or your practice? Can you answer that question?

History, logic and scripture (if interpreted widely to include Tibetan commentators) time and time again refute your Shugden practice. This thread contains a great deal of historical research on the issue, as well as logical and scriptural arguments against the practice. I have not seen any such arguements, from these three areas, supporting the practice, other than quotes from GKG's books and websites.

Seriously. You're sidestepping the issues--

Jimmy Marsden's picture

Gen Hur, the Buddhist religion does not belong to the Tibetans! The intention of Buddha was for Buddhism to protect all living beings. You are the one who is engaging in ethnocentric cultural imperialism.

Namkah, there is no evidence whatsoever anywhere of Dorje Shugden harming anyone, whether they mix different schools of teaching or not. Show me evidence if you have it -- no one else has ever managed to come up with any. But that hasn't seemed to matter to fanatic followers of the ban and persecution. It is precisely this kind of spurious claim backed up by blind fanaticism that has caused this witch hunt and a very real persecution of Shugden practitioners.

Everything is projected by the mind, it is true, but Wisdom Protector Dorje Shugden still functions to protect living beings from ignorance and suffering. To deny the existence of conventional truth is for you to fall into the extreme of nihilism.

Gyalpo's picture

Tenzin: The ultimate ego trip for you, eh? You are such an asshole.

Lineageholder's picture

From the Dorje Shugden History site referenced above:

In short, it has been revealed from historical sources that Dorje Shugden is the Three Bodhisattvas: Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani and Manjushri. He is the sole protector ever to bear the title Protector of the Conqueror Manjunatha, having the responsibility to protect and promote the doctrine of the Second Buddha Jamgon Lama Tsongkhapa. In the distant future, he is the Seventh Buddha of this fortunate eon.

Homage to the Great King Dorje Shugden, the Heart Jewel of Dharma Protectors!

Gyalpo's picture

One would generally avoid a defrocked doctor or a brain surgeon who obtained a bogus degree from a matchbook, why? because although it is true credentials aren't everything, academic standards count. GKG was disgraced and disciplined for bad behaviour decades ago and his novice 'teachers' are hastily and poorly trained. So anyone interested in studying dharma should exercise particular caution with NKT, however friendly or charming they seem– a few years down the road you'll be among the growing disillusioned ex-NKT cohort. Research carefully first!

Rodney Billman's picture

"However, you, I and Dorje would all agree that Trijang held DS to have a worldly aspect. So can I ask what you think Trijang held this worldly aspect to be?"

This worldly aspect would be that which exhibits worldly actions such as possessing the oracle, spontaneously possessing monks which was more common earlier, other types of paranormal type of stuff for a purpose.

The ontological status of Shugden is really something profound. Reading the colophon to Sachen Kunga Lodro's Wrathful Torma says that although there were some who saw signs when the they tried to bury, hurl and burn Shugden when he only came back as before Nechung gave the prophecy that they couldn't compete or look down on Shugden, as he was indestructible and gave him the name Dorje Shugden Tsel. These rituals (burning, hurling, burying) also have work in their destructive power if the being is an ordinary spirit.

One of the earlier epithets to Shugden used by the Sakyas is mthu rtsal, meaning magical power, so would appear the so-called worldly aspect of Shugden is an emanation in the truly magical sense of the word. So it would appear there is a transcendental form behind that worldly aspect.

In the colophon to Nyungne Lama Yeshe Zangpo's wrathful torma says it was written for the wrathful supramundane form ('jigs rten las 'das pa'i rang gzugs). Wrath itself has nothing to do worldly or not worldly, but this ritual describes the transcendent mandala of Shugden which has characteristics found in other wrathful yidams. So unlike other worldly deities there is more than just the ultimate nature of being merely empty of inherent existence, there is actually a more subtle manistation in a higher realm.

T.P.'s picture

Though I agree with Kayguepa in # 1677 I wish to use logic for em/Dorje's discussion.

The definition of tradition as posited by em in #1225:

"A Buddhist ‘tradition’ is a perfect synthesis of Buddha’s teachings presented by an enlightened being. A tradition is special set of Dharma instructions uniquely suited to that tradition’s practitioners. With his skillful means, a Buddha can re-synthesize a tradition as necessary, according to the needs and dispositions of its practitioners."

is not very applicable, because of using a vague term like 'perfect' which invites fuzziness, and because of the claim that it is "presented by an enlightened being" - the latter can't be determined by an ordinary being, because only a Buddha knows who is a Buddha, if follows only a Buddha can determine what is a tradition and what not. The definition implies also that only "a Buddha" can " re-synthesize a tradition" which mustn't be the case.

Now with respect to the former discussion between em and Dorje - neglecting what can't be determined - if the founding figure of a tradition is a Buddha or not - assuming in this context the Rime masters were enlightened, and leaving out the vague term 'perfect' - if tradition is posited as "a synthesis of Buddha’s teachings presented by an enlightened being, a special set of Dharma instructions uniquely suited to that tradition’s practitioners, according to the needs and dispositions of its practitioners." it follows

The subject, Rime is a tradition because it is a synthesis of Buddha’s teachings presented by an enlightened being, a special set of Dharma instructions uniquely suited to that tradition’s practitioners, according to the needs and dispositions of its practitioners.

This syllogism is valid because it has a valid sign which has the three modes: the property of the subject, forward and backward pervasion.

So what Dorje said is correct, based on your definition. But If you quote in that context RTR this is just a distraction or manoeuvre to avoid the consequence of your own position, that if you posit tradition in this way it follows Rime is a tradition. You have to accept this consequence.


with respect to LH #1662
you didn't upset me.

If you posit worldly as referring to the eight worldly concerns how can you validly say HHDL or Tibetan Buddhists are degenerated or worldly? Do you can read the mind of others to be able to determine if their mind is under the influence of the eight worldly concerns?

How do you know and how can you validly determine that a person or even the whole of Tibetan Buddhists - especially who oppose Shudgen worship - are motivated by the eight worldly concerns?

If you posit:
The subject, HHDL is a worldly politician because he is govern the Tibetans, it follows also the Buddha when he was a Bodhisattva king and ruled his kingdom was a worldly politician, because he had govern his people.

According to my observation most of what LH or NKT members state lacks either valid reason or if examined the (wrong) view collapses.

harry (gandul)'s picture

"I propose moving forward by action instead of words. To that end I complained to the local library board that has been allowing NKT to use public meeting rooms for introductory sessions recruiting new cult members. If people in every city actively resist the cult, their demise will be hastened."

Well i'm glad i found the cult in another town and in another time. Perhaps in your town i would have been prevented from encountering Buddha's teachings by the likes of you.

Honestly, how much longer are you guys going to mantain this "cult" business? So, some NKT members have displayed cult-like tendencies, does this mean that the whole tradition is a cult?

You criticize GKG all the time. But you can hardly find fault in his main body of work, his books. After some searching you point out a few little faults, but nothing substantial. JT's teachings are the main thing KG talks about, and has spent most of his energy in presenting these. I think you spend so much time contemplating the faults of NKT, wether they are there or not isn't my point here, that you miss the main point which is to spread JT's Dharma Jewels.

I am open to the possibility of KG and previous lamas being wrong about DS, and i am open to perhaps one day looking into other traditions to practice. But i hope i never fall into these activities of defaming other traditions, going around warning venues about this cult and that one... Certainly not in relation to a tradition which, although displays some cultish behaviour, clearly strives to promote the ancient wisdom of Buddha Shakyamuni.

If i discover that indeed NKT is a cult, i will always be grateful to it and KG. No price is too heavy to pay (that's me anyway), to be able to see images of Buddha and to hear his words.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

"What I am trying to point out is that one aspect of non-sectarianism (i.e., inclusivism) CAN be taken to an extreme, just as exclusivism taken to an extreme produces sectarianism."

Personally I would posit openness as one main aspect (or expression) of non-sectarianism. One main aspect of sectarianism is narrow mindedness.

Now with respect to inclusivism as an extreme. If inclusivism lacks the two bodhicittas, it will lead to an extreme, like Jamgon Kongtrul warned to "get mixed up about the various tenets and the terminology" what would be an expression of a lack of wisdom.

Now with respect to exclusivism. I said my points on this above. Maybe one could posit it also like this "If exclusivism lacks the two bodhicittas, it will lead to an extreme".

The problem I have with such a position, is the Dharma is the Dharma, it is our refuge nomatter where it and by whom it is taught as long as it is taught correctly, and based on a proper motivation. Sentient beings are very individual why one should exclude for the benefit of oneself and for the benefit of others Dharmas, just because they are not in the own tradition, but could be of tremendous help for once own or others progress? One could be totally dedicated to the own school but if there are certain teachings from other schools which benefit the mind more, why one should avoid them?

In this also Geshe Chekhawa, the great Kadampa master gave an example: He had heart many teachings from many masters, yet still he was missing something. So he became a restless wanderer who searched for something more, because all what he received, though helpful, did not really help to transform him. Then finally due to this this dissatisfaction and his search and Karma, openness etc. he finally met the verses of Geshe Langri Tangpa and by this he finally met Geshe Sharawa who taught him then finally the Lojong teachings.

An exclusive approach bears from my own understanding many risks but I would find it hard to say it is wrong. I think this would be wrong, to claim this. I think the main points are again the two bodhicittas and this includes a proper understanding of dependent arising.

With respect to NKT, according to my understanding what NKT lacks is the wisdom of individuality, which is related with the Lotos Family of Buddha Amithaba and compassion, and as far as I remember the family which opposes attachment (which would include to overcome attachment to one's tradition or a certain type of words or Dharma presentations). The uniform structure and teachings with one teacher and one set of selected teaching for all lacks the understanding of the wisdom of individuality and it lacks compassion which is strongly related the wisdom of individuality.

When I left NKT the teachings on the five types of Wisdoms related to the 5 Buddha Families (also teachings missed in NKT) were a key to understand my experiences better and to understand what I should apply and what I should avoid.

Since that an open approach - as all my non-NKT teachers (even Lama Gangchen) - have seems to me the key for transformation.

So with respect to exclusivism, I have the strong feeling - but are not very sure - it may bear to many risks and one has to be more careful then with an inclusive approach.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Dorje,

You also said of Je Pabongkhapa:

He referred to other traditions as “faulty, dangerous and misleading paths” and “mistakes among mistakes” in his commentary to the life entrustment ritual that he composed for his protector. That he made the other sectarian statements, that other traditions lead to vajra hell, for example, in private does not diminish the fact that these were his beliefs

So what? We're all entitled to our own beliefs, surely? Perhaps you've expressed views or opinions in letters to other people that you wouldn't want to become widely known? What matters is if your beliefs are wrong or harmful and you express them openly. Pabongkha did not do so. In his Lamrim teaching he criticizes the Bon tradition's beliefs but as far as I know he didn't criticise any tradition of Buddhism. As to the validity of his beliefs, I don't know.

The letters may have been collected by Trijang Rinpoche and published as part of Pabongkha's collective works but it's 'A Case to Study' by Tenzin Ragyal that was published by the Dalai Lama's office that spread this information far and wide. Do you really think that if the Dalai Lama hadn't, basically, instigated a smear campaign against Je Pabongkhapa that the contents of these private letters would be widely known? No, they would not. They would be known by a few Gelugpas who would be interested in reading Pabongkha's collected works.

The Dalai Lama has instigated this smear campaign because the article was published by his office. He's effectively acted to stir up negative views towards Pabongkha. If I found some letters from my grandfather that were sent to someone else and those letters contained controversial statements, I wouldn't be going around telling everyone who would listen 'look at what my grandfather said, isn't he bad?' or even publishing the letters in a newspaper so that as many people as possible would read them and develop a negative view of my grandfather. How shameful that the Dalai Lama is doing just this, trying to smear his lineage Gurus in order to justify his own views and actions - this is not the Buddhist way where respect and reliance on the Spiritual Guide is the foundation of all spiritual realizations.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

Another example of putting down the Gelug school (and Tibetan Buddhism) while praising the own NKT can be found in GKG’s ordination talk from 1999 from which I already quoted, I just found this:

If we followed the example of the Tibetan tradition, of degenerate times, it would be impossible for us to make any progress. The Dharma itself is of course the same but the presentation and way of practising are different.

For this reason I am always encouraging you to have confidence that you can definitely gain higher realizations and become an enlightened being. I believe this is possible.

The meaning is: the non-NKT Tibetan schools have not the unique presentation of NKT, therefore "it would be impossible for us to make any progress." (note the term "degenerate times" in that context). But if you follow my system, the NKT, you will become an enlightened being. No PR campaign could make it better… (see also my post # 648 in which I already quoted two passages from the same source. I think most will get an idea how NKT is functioning.)


“I asked you to prove that, scripturally, Geshe Kelsang’s books are divergent from Tsongkhapa’s teachings.”

I said this already and gave a link with respect to the 34th Bodhisattva vow. As wished, here the details:

The Bodhisattva Vow: A Practical Guide to Helping Others by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso page 23 states as the 34th Bodhisattva:

34 "Preferring to rely upon books rather than our Spiritual Guide"
The root of Dharma realizations is sincere reliance upon our Spiritual Guide. If we neglect this practice and prefer to acquire our understanding from books, we incur a secondary downfall.

Je Tsongkhapa’s commentary on Asanga’s Chapter on Ethics in the “Bodhisattva Bhumi”, which explains the Bodhisattva vows, called "The Basic Path to Awakening" (translated by Mark Tatz), states as the 34th secondary vow of a Bodhisattva:

"Deprecating him and referring to the letter."
Asanga: "To deliberately discount the person speaking doctrine - not sincerely conceiving of him as a spiritual adviser and a teacher - and to fail to pay respect to him with one’s body, while ridiculing him with humiliating [questions] and making sarcastic remarks with harsh words,, and referring to the literary expression in the sense of making much of it, is a defiled fault."

Commentray by Je Tsongkhapa:
“Briefly, if the words are not good but the meaning is good he fails to rely upon the meaning, whereas if the words are good but the meaning is not he does rely upon it. Some would have it that the deprecation amounts to saying to the preacher that his teaching is only literary expression, without meaning, or that the meaning is incomprehensible—in other words, failing to enter into the spirit of the letter. This should be taken as explained earlier in the Bodhisattva Bhumi in context of the four points of reference.

Jinaputra and Samudra further gloss this as a misdeed of "disrespect for the doctrine.

These three misdeeds are explained by the new commentary as failing, respectively, in eliminating bad view, in application to study, and in service to the lama, [all] as part of collecting wholesomeness. "Makes his reference the letter" is explained as relying upon the literary expression in the sense of discounting the person who is speaking doctrine."

Another example of GKG’s teachings which do not accord with Je Tsonkhapa are his claims in the ordination talk of 1999 and his general attitude to NKT ordination:


“Traditionally, Tibetan Buddhism follows the Vinaya Sutra, which belongs to the Hinayana tradition. Personally I find this strange. We are Mahayana Buddhists so why are we following the Vinaya – the Pratimoksha vows - of the Hinayana tradition?”

Je Tsongkhapa in the same text:

“Not training for the sake of others' faith.”
Asanga: "The bodhisattva trains himself as do the hearers [Hinayana] - not refusing to conform by distinguishing himself from them - according to what has been legislated by the Lord as trainings in the Pratimoksa, the source work, and in other vinaya texts such as the Vibhanga that are commentaries to it, to be reprehensible by precept (which means, those [rules] not reprehensible by nature), in order to guard the thought of others."

JTS's comment: "He renounces whatever the hearers renounce."
Asanga: "In order that those previously without faith may have faith, and those previously faithful may develop it further,"
JTS: "there are precepts for not drinking alcohol, abstinence from eating at the wrong time and so forth, as well as [not] digging the soil, making a fire, etc. You must train yourself in these as do the hearers, for if you fail to do so, not only does a fault develop contradicting the pratimoksa - a misdeed also develops contradicting the bodhisattva vow."
Asanga: "The reason for this is that the hearers, intent as they are upon their own welfare, train themselves in trainings that guard the minds of others. How much more so must the bodhisattvas, intent as they are upon the welfare of others!"

“Rejecting the hearers vehicle.”
Asanga: "To hold oneself, and espouse to others the view that 'A bodhisattva does not listen to doctrine that is associated with the vehicle of the hearers; he should not guard the words and the sense of it, nor should he train himself sustainedly in it. There is no need to do these things' - is a defiled fault.
JTS: "To hold the opinion that it is necessary for someone of the lesser vehicle to listen etc. to the hearers' vehicle, but it is not necessary for the bodhisattva, does not constitute a fundamental rejection of the vehicle of the hearers. It looms especially large, however, as the seminal transgression of causing others to reject the pratimoksa."
Asanga: "The reason that this results in transgression is that if the bodhisattva need apply himself even to tirthika treatises, what need to mention the exalted word of the Buddha?"
JTS: "To maintain that those of little familiarity with doctrine, so long as they belong to the Greater Vehicle, need not train themselves in pratimoksa, is a great pitfall that accumulates obstacles whose karmic maturation is a paucity of doctrine. This precept is the best guideline for avoiding it."

With respect to the wrong claims on the 34th BS vow by GKG and the wrong comment, in Geshe Sönam Rinchen's "The Bodhisattva vow" this vow is correctly explained, as it has been explained by Je Tsongkhapa and Asanga.

Gen Hur's picture

A western hare krishna clone is telling Tibetans how to conduct their own religion and culture without even being able to read and write the language themselves... that's just ethnocentic cultural imperialism. Get an afterlife, white boy.