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.]

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dougal's picture

the pair of you (and Tashi, wherever he's lurking) -

you think that criticising the Dalai Lama makes me and others by definition wrong and badly-motivated.

examine that thought. what reason do you have for that view, other than "but he's the Dalai Lama!"?

you think that being the Dalai Lama makes him by definition right and purely-motivated.

examine that thought. what reason do you have for that view, other than "but he's the Dalai Lama!"?

i call you out.

Dorje's picture

Even though a Buddha emanates in human form, he cannot be murdered because his karma to be murdered has been exhausted. That is why one of the five acts with immediate retribution is drawing the blood of a Tathagata rather than killing a Tathagata, as the latter is impossible. Of course, Buddhas show the impermanence of phenomena by taking the appearance of dying, but they are never killed. To admit Dragpa Gyaltsen was killed is to admit he wasn't enlightened.

The status of Setrap as another worldly deity, a wrathful form of Brahma, is also accepted. Even though he is sometimes claimed to be an emanation of Amitabha, this does not refute his worldly rank. The Gyalpo Ku Nga, Pehar is also claimed to be an emanation, but he is also never taken to be an enlightened protector or suitable object of refuge.

It is not me that claims that these enlightened protectors are worldly spirits, it was lamas like Pabongkhapa that first claimed it was okay to take worldly spirits as enlightened. In an exchange with Palden Gyatso he is asked:

"Learned one: in general (and apart from transcendent protectors as objects of refuge), where is the contradiction between the statement that it is inappropriate to rely upon and engage as objects of refuge, protectors such as Yudronma, Setrab, the Ku Nga, Gyalchen Shugden, and so on who have taken a mundane form even though they are actually transcendent and also such statements in each one's amendment rite: for example, that of Yudronma i.e.

"Externally, the great medicine goddess who removes the darkness of ignorance;
internally, the dakini who bestows great bliss;
secretly, Dhateshvari, Vajravarahi--
with this supreme unsurpassed support of confidence and faith..."

Since doubt has arisen in my ordinary mind, please give clear advice that will remove uncertainty like the sunlight.


Though one should not go for refuge to these protectors that have taken mundane form, even though they are transcendent in essence; if one attains intense uncontrived conviction that, in terms of the definitive meaning, Yudronma is the mother of the Buddhas, Vajrayogini or is among the rank of the twenty four heroines and the twelve Vajrayoginis; Setrab is Amitabha, The Ku Nga are the five families, Shugden is Peaceful and Wrathful Manjushri, and so on-- through focusing on this one and that one's essentially transcendent aspect, it is suitable to go for refuge [to such protectors]."

This equivocation by Pabongkhapa is where the Dharma degenerated and turned into mere spirit worship. Worldly protectors like Setrap, Yudronma and the gyalpo spirit under discussion serve their purpose as worldly spirits, but when they are promoted to enlightened status and treated as such, refuge vows are broken and the Dharma is destroyed.

Trijang's argument why the Sakyas first worshipped this gyalpo spirit as one of the three gyalpos they made offerings to is aprocryphal piffle that has no basis in historical fact. And you reject your critics as superstitious?

Your falacious appeals to authority do not merit a response other than to say I can find any number of lamas with impressive credentials, being incarnations of this or that enlightened lama, who would also say your protector is a harmful gyalpo spirit.

Dorje's picture

TK’s site clearly shows that some lineage lamas of Dorje Shugden practice regarded DS as enlightened. Even Pabongkhapa himself regarded him in this way, so don’t lie.Phabongkhapa said that this protector had the appearance of a worldly deity and is not an object of refuge.
Though one should not go for refuge to these protectors that have taken mundane form, even though they are transcendent in essence; if one attains intense uncontrived conviction that, in terms of the definitive meaning, Yudronma is the mother of the Buddhas, Vajrayogini or is among the rank of the twenty four heroines and the twelve Vajrayoginis; Setrab is Amitabha, The Ku Nga are the five families, Shugden is Peaceful and Wrathful Manjushri, through focusing on this one and that one’s essentially transcendent aspect, it is suitable to go for refuge [to such protectors].
This is a more nuanced position than is ever taught in your cult.

Rodney Billman's site puts together a whole load of small comments found in colophons to rirual texts, which commonly employ excessive praise as a literary device, and infers a significance that simply did not exist. There is no official Sakya lo.rgyus or legend of this protector, showing its real lack of importance. Then again we have Sakya lamas like Ngawang Yonten Gyatso and Jamyang Khyentse who totally opposed this spirit worship as evil. Rodney's site that proves so much actually proves nothing.

Dorje's picture

LH, a gelong is someone that holds the vows of a gelong. It has nothing to do with realisation. Do you think the Buddha was a gelong? How about Vimalakirti? Was Drontompa a gelong?

If you link the definition of gelong to realisation it would mean people who are not gelongs are not realised, which is ridiculous. There have been many great practitioners who are not fully ordained. This is no bad reflection on them. The Buddhist tradition is pretty clear about what constitutes a member of the ordained sangha. It is people that hold certain vows, irrespective of realisation. If you want to start another tradition, fair enough, but at least be up-front about it and stop your silly game of dressing up.

Dorje's picture

I’m saying it is not a synthesis at all. There was no need for a new synthesis, which is why all the Rime practitioners remain grounded principally in one tradition.
This is not true. What tradition did Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen grounded in? Was Jamgon Kongtrul Bonpo, Nyingma or Kagyu? They were Rime lamas and the tradition they passed on was Rime.

You also ignore the fact that Jamgon Kongtrul was the source for many new teachings, found in his termas. His compositions, and especially his emphasis on Jonang teachings and Shentong, have been very influential in Tibetan belief and practice. This synthesis is just as new and unique to Jamgon Kongtrul as any other synthesis by any other lama.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

"The Dalai Lama has spent 30 years destroying the tradition of Je Tsongkhapa"

such a non-sense as Dorje-la pointed out, and the use of common sense will show to everyone having a bit knowledge what Je Tsongkhpa has taught.


Hi Harry,
you said:
"Personally i think apologies are owed to the DL for material such as the “dictator” letter. This letter is completely wrong, and i doubt in the least that it has helped the situation. No, i think if anything it’s made things worse."

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

Dorje's picture

"You call them ’sects’ because you think each has only certain sections of Buddha’s teachings."

No, I don't.

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.

Buddhism doesn't talk about sectarianism, it talks about reality.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear SC,

As I said in an earlier post, the practices of other traditions are of no interest to me. I'm only interested in establishing the validity of the Gelugpa lineage Gurus in general and the practice of Dorje Shugden in particular.

Dorje Shugden practitioners in general, and in particular the great Je Pabongkhapa have been accused of sectarianism. The statements that Je Pabongkhapa were made in private letters. It is the Dalai Lama who has been instrumental in making these letters widely known in the Tibetan Buddhist community, I believe with only one aim in mind: to destroy Je Pabongkhapa's reputation and to justify his own political action of banning the practice of Dorje Shugden on the grounds of sectarianism.

This is completely false. I challenged Dorje a few posts ago to give some modern day examples of the sectarianism of Dorje Shugden practitioners and he failed to do so. Every time he levels an accusation of sectarianism it's against Pabongkha and his opposition to certain Nyingma monasteries. Even if that were true, it's no reason to ban a centuries old spiritual practice, arguing that 'Dorje Shugden practice is inherently sectarian' because there are no other examples he can give. It's a smokescreen by the Dalai Lama. As you probably know, the more something is repeated, the more it becomes regarded as the truth so the Dalai Lama is hoping to associate sectarianism with Dorje Shugden practice, even though there is only one example that anyone mentions.

I'm afraid there's no valid basis there at all. Even if Je Pabongkhapa was sectarian, he's just one of thousands who do (or did) this practice. It's not right to ban a religious practice on the strength of the outspoken views of just one practitioner. We have an expression for this: tarring everyone with the same brush. If a practitioner of a particular Nyingma protector said that all Gelugpas are going to Avichi Hell because their practice of emptiness is nihilistic, would it be right to ban the practice of this protector? Should we ban the texts of Gorampa for being a heretic because he disagrees with Je Tsongkhapa? I would say, resoundingly, "no". There's room for many views and no one has the right to dictate the spiritual practices of anyone else. Everyone is entitled to spiritual freedom.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Tenzin Peljor,

Firstly, I'd like to apologise with reference to my comments about your faith in the Dalai Lama. It's your choice who your Teacher is of course and it's none of my business who you develop faith in.

I've been thinking about what you said about a 'self-referential system'. There is no valid Buddhist self-referential system except Buddha Shakyamuni and Conqueror Vajradhara's teachings. Even these are not truly self-referential because they are the teachings of the Buddhas of the three times and the ten directions and not their own ideas.

Similarly, Geshe Kelsang's books do not contain his own ideas but they do contain many, many scriptural citations from great Buddhist writers such as Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Milarepa, Shantideva, Atisha to name just a few in the context of mainstream Buddhist teachings. All of these teachings are traceable to the Buddhist sutras and tantras, so how are Geshe Kelsang's books 'self-referential'?

You are correct when you say some of Geshe Kelsang's books contain some praise of his achievements at the beginning, but this is not unusual. I've read other Buddhist books that have been edited by someone other than the author and they always praise the author of the book - for example in the book 'The Yogic Deeds of Bodhisattvas' by Geshe Sonam Rinchen, which is a commentary to Aryadeva's four hundred, Ruth Sonam praises Geshe Sonam Rinchen for his good qualities. It's common for students to do this, no?
Also, I think that Geshe Kelsang is worthy of praise because only he has produced such a comprehensive and internally consistent presentation of the path to enlightenment for Westerners. You cannot deny this fact. Geshe Kelsang himself does not take credit for this, though. He often praises his own root and lineage Gurus. For example, he says that Joyful Path of Good Fortune is not his teaching but the teaching of Trijang Dorjechang.

As for references and further reading, you must understand that Geshe Kelsang's books are not principally written for scholars (even though some of the subjects are very scholarly - such as Understanding the Mind and Ocean of Nectar) but as practical guides and meditation manuals for those who are seeking enlightenment. They are not written for University professors but for people with little time and lots of responsibilities, such as jobs and families who want to gain Dharma realizations. It's certainly enough for me to have all the stages of the path to enlightenment explained with unparalleled clarity - I don't need references. I said that the presentation of Dharma by Geshe Kelsang was different and more suited to Westerners, and this is one way in which it is. Generally, people want to be told what to practice and how to practice. They want to know how to unmistakenly enter, make progress and complete the path to enlightenment. If the presentation isn't academic enough for you, there are plenty that are, so try them - but don't criticize the books for being practical!

As for 'further reading', you'd have to read every book you recommend in order to ensure that it was genuine and had no mistakes in order to be able to recommend it. Also, generally, people don't need help in finding new books to read! You've only got to look at a website selling Buddhist books to see that there are hundreds and everyone wants to read 'the latest thing' that everyone else recommends, which is fine, but depth and not breadth is a better approach I feel. Everyone has choice though. I think it best not to criticize other people's choices just because they don't suit you.

Friendoftruth's picture

How many words!

The more you use words -you hope- more the truth about the Dalai Lama's persecution should become buried, hidden, ignored, forgotten.
You don't need to go to such efforts, trust the world to do that spontaneously. Journalists, Academia people, politicians ... they are not easily going to admit that they have been deceived, that they are wrong. After all, to back a civic and religious persecution does not do any good for their good name, so it's normal to go and feign to believe that there is no persecution.

But no matter what, the beans have been spilled, and those who are innocent and still not members of the media-cult of the Dalai Lama are seeing and understanding. The truth cannot be hidden forever.
You should go to some blogs. It's a pleasure to see some non-Buddhists fighting for "the Shugden people", just because they've understood that they are victims of the Dalai Lama's power.

Now, let's face it: the beens have been spilled by the WSS. I salute the WSS for the demonstrations. They know very well that I am not in agreement with some of their actions, but I applaud their demonstrations that told the world about the Dalai Lama's persecution of the faithful Gelugpas.

I don't know any ot the NKT people but I respect Geshe Kelsang Gyatso because I've read some of his Dharma books and they are excellent! Thank you, old Lama, you honour the lineage with your Dharma writings.

Beyong this, I'm just a lone ranger, as some people know in the electronic Protector´s community. But let me sit down for a moment and smile. I am being treated as what? A possible Indian spy working for the Chinese government? This is delicious. Please tell me how they pay, by the hour? The recession is coming upon us, I might follow your inspiration and go to the next available Chinese consulate or something, and tell them look, these guys here think I'm a spy working for you, would it be possible to have such position?

I've also wondered about those 4 million, though. But then again, I don't know anything about Tibetan population matters. I'm just a Western Buddhist trying to do my practice and from time to time help the world know the truth about my holy lineage, my holy Lamas, their holy teachings that I hope to embody one day.

One thing I know: there are Tibetan monks and Lamas that have publicly given up the Protector practice, and externally show respect for the Dalai Lama, but continue in their hearts being secretly faithful. Let me give you a clue: look for those that do not talk against the Protector, that do not persecute others. Sometimes they are surrounded by fanatic followers that do persecute others, but they themselves just keep silent, and with great patience and compassion they plant seeds in those poor ignorant ones. They do not slander the faithful Gelugpas, they do not profer sacrilegious words again the Protector, they are hidden practitioners. I don't know how many they are, but I know a few of them, and I can infer very easily about several others. I don't believe they are hidden out of fear, they are hidden in order to be able to continue teaching and benefitting others without being destroyed by the DL's followers shenanigans.
Dear Lamas, I know sometimes some young spirits among the Protector's practitioners have a poor opinion of your silence. But many more understand your compassionate, difficult position. Anyway, shenanigan-doers, I would not be so quick with the champagne. Do not rejoice too early about the end of the Protector's practice ... you might be surprised in the future.

I don't have time to read all the writings, I just glance and jump from one to the other. Beyond the liberality with the truth there seems to be quite a bit of plain misinformation. Nobody needs to be a monk to be a practitioner. So the childish, gross invitation to sexual activity is certainly misdirected and not needed. Such bad manners!

I hope you don't get offended by my slight teasing. It's really boring, guys, to try and refute always the same litanies of untruthfulness. Aren't you fatigued yet?

Good night! Dream about little angels.

dougal's picture

Namkhah -

i still have no clue what you're talking about.

you seem to know a lot about NKT, though. maybe save that for Survivors, eh? this here's about the Dalai Lama's crime.

so you don't like NKT. fair enough, each to their own. but that in no way changes one iota the fact of the matter which is that the Dalai Lama is a liar who has split the Sangha and is destroying the spiritual lives of thousands (including you and i, apparently). just because you don't like those calling him out and calling the world to witness, doesn't make them wrong.

Lineageholder's picture

Hi Dorje,

Well, we can debate about who is confused. Your views come simply from the bias you have picked up from anti-Shugden sources.

Of course Buddhas cannot be killed but their emanation bodies are taken from ordinary parents and so they appear to undergo ageing, sickness and death. This was so even for Buddha Shakyamuni who showed the manner of passing away at Kusinara. According to Trijang Rinpoche (who was also enlightened), the circumstances of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's death were brought about to enable him to become the protector of Je Tsongkhapa's tradition.

Your claim that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was given the title of incarnation of Panchen Sonam Dragpa as some kind of consolation prize because he wasn't recognised as the 5th Dalai Lama comes from George Dreyfus who has been discredited for failing to include the evident history of Dorje Shugden practice as explained by Trinley Kalsang on his Dorje Shugden history site. Dreyfus' paper is a political one, written to support the Dalai Lama's view and to discredit the practice of Shugden. Trijang Rinpoche properly credits the incarnation lineage of Dorje Shugden to the works of Panchen Losang Chogyan and Losang Luntog Tenzin Trinley, the previous incarnation of Ling Rinpoche who are impeccable sources, far more reliable than the political Prof. Dreyfus!

There is a close connection between Dorje Shugden and Setrap, yes. Setrap is not a gyalpo (do you guys mistakenly believe all enlightened protectors are gyalpos? I'm beginning to wonder!) but an emanation of Buddha Amitabha, this is well known. Trijang Rinpoche says that the epic struggle between the Great Fifth and Dorje Shugden was emanated to show the greatness of both.

The reason why Dorje Shugden went to the Sakya tradition is also explained by Trijang Rinpoche:

Then, having gone toward Tashi Lhunpo in Tsang,
Because of a slight inauspicious occurrence,
You immediately went to Sakya in a wrathful manner,
And were enthroned as a senior Dharma protector, praise to you!

Dragpa Gyaltsen, because he had himself previously studied much profound Dharma with Panchen Lozang Chokyi Gyaltsen, after he arose in a wrathful form, he intended to go to Tashi Lhunpo to go before the Panchen, king of Dharma and be a protector of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. When he arrived, he saw the Eight Vaishravana Horse‐Lords holding hands on the ling kor, the route encircling Tashi Lhunpo, in a protective manner, making it a bit inauspicious for him to go in that direction, so in a manner of wrath he immediately went to Sakya, remembering the imprints of his incarnation as Venerable Sakya Pandita.

Perhaps it is you who should consider more reliable sources such as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, great Hero of Tibet, composer of the Tibetan national anthem, Gelugpa lineage holder, emanation of Venerable Atisha and many, many other great Masters going back to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni himself, Throne Holder of Je Tsongkhapa's tradition and tutor to the present Dalai Lama. You will never discover the truth by relying upon those who mix Dharma and politics.

namkhah's picture

Lineageholder: I won't dignify your silly post with than answer, but consider this rant from your puppetmasters: a Chinese ultra-nationalist commenting to a national newspaper:
"An Observer from Canada writes: Questions for Dalai and his cliques: -- Why did dalai persecute the Dorje Shugden followers? What happened to Freedom of Religious that he preached? -- Since every Tibetans obeyed him without questions in persecuting and ostracising the Dorje Shugden follwers, then why didn't didn't Dalai stop the Tibetans from disrupting the Olympics Torch relay and killing the innocent people during the riot? Dorje Shugden is a once-respectable Tibetan Buddhist god. But now the Dalai Lama says anyone who worships him is aiding the Chinese Communist occupiers of Tibet. Those who persist in the worship of Shugden have been driven out of Tibetan exile communities, beaten, their possessions destroyed. Three monks have been killed in this dispute. Why did Washington get involved in Tibet? Here's what John Knaus says: The primary objective has little to do with aiding the Tibetans: It was to impede and harass the Chinese Communists. And U.S. geopolitical interests would be served by forcing Mao to divert his already stretched resources to counter guerrillas in a remote and rebellious area. He was in a position to know. When he was with the CIA, he helped train Tibetans in guerilla warfare at a base in Colorado."
Posted 07/03/09 at 5:32 PM EDT

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Dorje,

I'm incredulous that you regard having a long list of largely outdated and irrelevant vows to be the defining characteristic of a Gelong and not having realizations. Your view is definitely evidence of Kali Yuga. It's all words and no meaning. You clearly don't know what a Gelong really is.

Dorje's picture

I get my path of the Rime tradition direct from my lamas, just as you get your NKT straight from your NKT teachers. The teachings and practices I receive have been passed down from Jamyang Khyentse and Jamgon Kongtrul to my lamas' lamas and onto my lamas. The Rime lamas didn't just pass on any part of the Buddha Dharma. Jamgon Kongtrul's Five Treasures are vast but they are not all-inclusive.

Your narrow definition of sectarianism allows for the rejection of many syntheses in Tibetan religion, such as Shije and even Kadam, neither of whom have large monastic institutions.

Define tradition and then we can discuss if Rime is one or not.

You know full well what you are doing, and I am sure anyone reading here is also aware of what you are doing. You are using a narrow definition of tradition that you do not even share (and that your own 'tradition' would fail) to dismiss Rime as a valid path. This is both sectarian and dishonest.

Dorje's picture

The Dalai Lama hasn't said anything about this practice that Phabongkhapa didn't say. It just so happens that Phabongkhapa thought that a protector killing people was okay. The Dalai Lama and other opponents to this practice do not.

emptymountains's picture

Dear Dorje,

Regarding your post #1166, who was it that divided the one Buddhist tradition up into the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions? Was it not Buddha's skillful means? Likewise, I regard all the diverse Buddhist traditions existing today as a result of Buddha's kindness in providing a unique path (with some overlap between, of course) suitable to the diversity of practitioners.

Removing all the "foreign" elements would be sectarianism, especially since they were introduced by enlightened beings (the only ones who can synthesize new traditions, since only they have both the correct motivation and discriminating wisdom to do so).

Eclectics like to make their own doorways out of the burning house of samsara, or try to escape using two or more doorways at once (and thus hit a wall). It's best to use the nearest exit (i.e., the path karmically nearest to oneself), established by a living Buddha via one of the pre-existing Buddhist traditions.


SeekingClarity's picture


In #830 you write

If you and the Dalai Lama are right about Dorje Shugden being a worldly spirit, you are implicitly saying that Trijang Rinpoche was not enlightened and was not the incarnation of these great beings…

A similar situation exists with respect to Je Pabongkhapa who is widely held to be an incarnation of Heruka…

..these are the unacceptable consequences of asserting that Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit... (my emphasis)

It seems to me that the above is a specific form of a more general argument which you you reject. This argument goes as follows:

P1: Enlightened beings are omniscient and are therefore unmistaken about spiritual (and all other) matters
P2: Pabongka held that X, where X is a spiritual matter
P3: X is untrue
C: Pabongka is not an enlightened being

In #830 X was DS is a Buddha. However, given that it is a spiritual matter, it seems that X could equally be the practices of non-Gelug schools in his time led to Avichi Hell.

In order to reject the general argument it seems to me that you have to reject P3 i.e. you have to reject that Pabongka could ever have been mistaken about a spiritual matter. Thus it seems to me that you must reject the contention that Pabongka was mistaken about non-Gelug practices of his time leading to Avichi Hell.

And if (1) you reject the general argument and (2) the practices of non-Gelug schools have not changed since Pabongka's time, then it seems to me that you personally are committed to holding that these practices are the cause for rebirth in Avichi Hell.

I suppose alternatively you could hold that Pabongka was wrong about non-Gelug practices and still hold he was enlightened if you reject P1 and argued that sometimes enlightened beings give the appearance of being mistaken. But I'm not sure you would argue this?

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Tenzin Peljor,

Where, in Geshe Kelsang's books does it say we should be narrow or develop blind faith? You can practice a selection of teachings deeply, or you can read lots of different teachings and gain no real experience of any of them. What Geshe Kelsang is advocating is deeply practising lamrim because when you gain experience of lamrim, you gain experience of all Buddha's teachings. By focusing on the 'narrow' as you put it, your experience becomes vast.

When Venerable Atisha was in Tibet, he said something like "you Tibetan Buddhists practice hundreds of Deities and do not receive the attainments of even one, whereas we India Buddhists practice one Deity and receive the attainments of hundreds"

Faith is explained very clearly in Joyful Path, Transform Your Life and Understanding the Mind and is obviously the result of contemplation, meditation and experience, not blind belief. Nowhere in his books does Geshe Kelsang advocate just believing something because we're told to. Developing deep faith in the Spiritual Guide for example comes gradually as a result of many years of contemplating and meditating on correct reasons, not a snap decision.

On the other hand, I find your unswerving faith in the Dalai Lama, despite the fact that he's caused a schism in the Sangha and is persecuting spiritual practitioners to be blind and in defiance all logic. Your summation of the Dalai Lama's good qualities is admirable, but we can see that he doesn't live up to them. I'm sure if you really contemplated his actions and example against what you believe about him, you would see there's something seriously inconsistent, but that's a matter for you, not me. Such blind belief is not possible when you practise correctly.

I'm puzzled by the inconsistencies you seem to see in Je Tsongkhapa's teachings and Geshe Kelsang's. Can you quote directly from Tsongkhapa where his view differs from those given in Geshe Kelsang's books? You haven't given any concrete examples, just general criticism. Furthermore, such criticism is unique to you. I haven't seen anyone else who has knowledge and experience of Dharma criticizing Geshe Kelsang's books - in fact, they are used by an number of Tibetan teachers.

Gyalpo's picture

TheFinalTruth: Thank you for your post, I dispute the Independant's 100,000 figure. The latest Chinese census puts the TAR number at 2.5 million Tibetans and claims Tibet's population was 1.14 million in 1951, though estimates vary pre-invasion. Kham and Amdo have no cities as such, just small towns , the vast Changthang region and western Tibet is even more sparsely populated. The diaspora population in India, the only and strictly limited jurisdiction of the TGIE is still only 100,000. There's about 4000 each in New York and Toronto (not under TGIE influence in any real sense) and smatterings here and there, like Suisse, of course. So now we have 30 percent maximum of 100,000 (not one full lakh) as the basic number. Of those 30K, the number of hardcore Dolgyal people is certainly not synonymous with every Gelugpa family, since every major dratsang has ceased the practice years ago. So from the fabulous 4 million estimate, the realistic figure has dwindled into something quite modest, I would venture probably less than a couple of hundred ethnic Tibetans are now affected, maximum. HHDL has not set foot in Tibet for 50 years, he has obviously no political power neither there, nor in Mongolia or Siberia. Even so monks are risking their lives running away from Gangchen the disco lama imposition of Shugden practice! The writing is on the wall: face it, it's over, ghost, you're finished.

dougal's picture

hey Gyalpo -

i see somebody creating a huge and terrible karma (like, say, knowingly causing the biggest schism ever seen amongst Buddha's followers) - an action that will lead to the most horrendous consequences - and, yes, i hope he can purify it as quickly as possible.

i'm not much of a Kadampa, but i'm not inhuman and i do have some small modicum of compassion.

why - do you do differently?

Dorje's picture

If your claim that Dragpa Gyaltsen was the incarnation of Panchen Sonam Dragpa is your evidence for Dragpa Gyaltsen’s status as an enlightened being, that doesn’t explain how he still was able to be murdered. As you know, enlightened beings cannot be killed. Also, the claim that Dragpa Gyaltsen was the tulku of Panchen Sonam Dragpa was first suggested to placate his supporters who believed he was actually the rightful claimant to the throne of the Dalai Lama, so, not even his supporters would agree with your claim. His supporters would definitely not agree that their esteemed lama would be reborn as a protector of any class. The view that he was reborn in the form of this spirit was first suggested by the opponents of Dragpa Gyaltsen. Your claim that Desi Sonam Chopel murdered Dragpa Gyaltsen is another unsubstantiated allegation.

If he was reborn as a protector of Tsongkhapa’s tradition, why was this protector first adopted by the Sakya tradition that holds that Tsongkhapa’s tradition is fundamentally flawed?

The reasons traditionally given for why the fire pujas failed to subdue this gyalpo spirit are also given by Trijang Rinpoche in your excerpt. Setrap, another gyalpo spirit (one of the three ‘Gyalpo Sum’ of the Sakya tradition) interfered with the puja, helping this gyalpo to escape.

Lineage Holder, so much of your argument here is just confused thinking based on nothing more than your own ignorance of the subject of protector deities in Tibetan Buddhism. I suggest you look outside of your morally corrupt cult and start think about taking teachings from qualified lamas.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear namkhah,

Everything is a product of imagination because everything is created by mind - what kind of Buddhist are you?? You're either ignorant of Buddhist thought or wilfully twisting the meaning - 'the ministry of misinformation' as Bill said above.

Dear TP,

In response to the report from Sera Monastery on your website, what a sad, sad state of affairs, a division in the Sangha caused by the Dalai Lama’s draconian ban.

The campaign against the Dalai Lama is not baseless because he alone is the cause of all the sectarian problems and division we are witnessing. It's his ban and his responsibility.

If it’s true that there is peace between the two ’sides’ that’s good, but there are still two factions. This should never have happened because a divided house is a weak house.

Buddha would be appalled by this. The Dalai Lama should restore the religious freedoms of Shugden practitioners and desist from his sectarian slandering of them in order to restore harmony to the Buddhist community.

Dorje's picture

"Adapting to modern times isn’t about fulfilling the wishes of society to the point where our spiritual development is at risk."

and how would not wearing robes, not shaving the head or not having a foreign name put our spiritual development at risk? There have been many great practitioners who were laymen. You don't need monasticism to attain realisation, and if you can't hold the vows or don't wish to, there is no shame in it. The shame comes when you dress as one holding the vows but fail to do so.

emptymountains's picture

Dear Dorje,

Indeed, my path is Rime, and EM is attacking my path. In doing this he has fallen into extreme exclusivism (sectarianism) according to his model.

No, your path is Buddhadharma. Your approach is eclecticic, as it is not a new tradition of its own (per everyone I have cited before, including your own Samuel) but an eclectic synthesis of pre-existing traditions. How can someone be sectarian towards something that isn't even a 'sect'?

I'm not trying to be incorrigible. I am only asking for verification that Rime is a tradition, since you are the only one who seems to be saying it. If you were to put that Rime is a tradition up on Wikipedia, for example, I would stamp it with the "citation needed" tag.


SeekingClarity's picture


Oops! Try again!

If it cuts plenty of ice, then it does so both ways. There are very great lamas in both lists. Thus

It cuts plenty of ice when you realize the spiritual integrity of those anti Shugdenpa Great Beings proves that they Shugdenpas were not spirit worshipers and the Dalai Lama is wrong right.

The only move left to you here, LH, is took get out your realization-ometer as claim “my lamas are better than your lamas”.

Dorje's picture

Well, if you aleady have a complete path to enlightenment via one tradition, what motivates you to want something more? Do you feel that your tradition is missing something and that you can somehow “add” to it by practicing multiple traditions?
Sorry, em, but this argument is the nonsense you were fed to keep you in your NKT cult. Your failure to recognise this is sad for you, but you can not then apply it to others. You may say that you only read Kelsang's books because they contain everything you need, but you are only saying this because you have been conditioned or brainwashed to limit yourself in this way. This limiting doesn't help you at all. It only serves your superiors in your cult.

It is natural and responsible for people to look into the situations they are getting into thoroughly. For example, if a lama is teaching on emptiness, it is good to look how other lamas teach emptiness so that one gets to understand the differences and nuances between the traditions. Looking back at how the Indian panditas taught about emptiness, without the Tibetan concerns added is also very useful. Looking at the Prajnaparamita Sutras is also a very good idea. In this way you get a good well-rounded knowledge of a subject. Knowing it thoroughly, you can apply it in your meditation.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Tenzin,

I think it's funny that you say that NKT has a shallow or superficial explanation of faith, but then you go on to give a completely dry and intellectual presentation worthy of a University Professor.

Tell me truly, Tenzin - how does all this knowledge improve your life? Does it help you to realize your own mind? A bit of lamrim meditation would do you the world of good.

How to develop admiring faith (simply)

1. Sit in front of a statue of image of something you consider to be pure or holy with admirable qualities

2. Contemplate those qualities

3. Become aware of your pure and clear state of mind - that's faith.

For all your intellectualizing about faith, what you say is actually incorrect. It's possible for faith to be damaged if it's on the level of correct belief. This would require me to go into a long explanation of valid and non-valid cognizers but you can read Understanding the Mind as well as I can so I'll spare you. Suffice to say there are many different levels of faith before a correct belief transforms into a valid cognizer and before a realization becomes introvertible, because the mind doesn't fully realize its object, it's possible for that faith to become non-faith through the arising of doubts tending away from the truth.

It's to prevent the arising of non-faith towards the Kadampa Tradition and Dorje Shugden that I'm engaging in this debate on Tricycle - to refute the incorrect information and dodgy reasoning concerning both of these so that someone with an open mind can consider this different information and reasons and come to their own conclusions, and to protect the faith of Kadampa practitioners who find the kinds of things you are saying disturbing.

Do you know what that disturbance is? It's doubt and non-faith. Such things are indeed possible, despite your denials. It's vital for one to get to know their own mind through experience as well as books.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Kagyupa,

My point in mentioning my own experience was that you are criticising something you don't have any experience of, not that I'm special or having blinding spiritual experiences. Surely the ultimate test of any spiritual practice is that it gives the results that it says it will? My small experience is testimony to that. 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.

TheFinalTruth's picture

Dear FriendsOfTheTruth, if you are a friend of the truth you should not believe what NKT claims. NKT is not famous for being honest being able to discriminate correctly, and this is also the impression and experiences of the media.

What you claim in post # 394 is true for NKT:
"One thing, one has to admit, the NKT and their followers have in common: their liberality about the notion of truth. It seems that this poor truth has been reduced by them to a function quite simple: if it serves us, we use it, if not, we deny it, if necessary, we invent it."

You should be ashamed to put a spin on the facts but I guess you are under the heavy influence of NKT's propaganda and there is no hope for getting the things correctly, and in the full context. Of course you quote from NKT sources to "verify" your claims. I think you rely on the wrong source of information.

Read The Independent, an independent and not easy to manipulated source:

Let us start with allegiance of the people involved. Ron Lister and his wife claimed not to be members of the NKT, but merely "concerned Buddhists". However, when I went to use the telephone in the hall, I noticed that the first number on their speed dial was for "Geshe-la", as the devotees of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso call their guru; later I discovered that Ron and Ruth Lister had edited the first of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso's books to be published in English, and Geshe Kelsang himself told me that he had accompanied Ron Lister on his "fact-finding" tour round India to find evidence of the Dalai Lama's alleged persecutions.

The more one digs into this story, the more everything comes back to the NKT, a sect founded by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in the late 1970s after he gained control of the Buddhist centre at Coniston Priory in Cumbria from a rival Buddhist organization. Since then, the NKT has been enormously successful. Unlike most Buddhist organizations, it actively makes converts and solicits donations. Steven Lane an NKT member for eight years said: "I have met Geshe Kelsang Gyatso on numerous occasions. He never orders. Sometimes, he suggests. Sometimes, he helps you to see different options.

This is a curious perspective. All the other evidence suggests an attitude of slavish devotion on the part of his followers. The foreword to one of his recent books says: "From the depths of our hearts we thank the author for his inconceivable kindness in composing the book. Throughout the preparation of this book, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has demonstrated compassion, wisdom, and inexhaustible patience ... there can be no greater proof of the immense value of the Boddhisatva's way of life than the living example of such a realized Master.

It was in Hebden Bridge, in Ruth Lister's house, that Steven Lane, a plump young man in his twenties with monkishly cropped hair, arranged to tell me the story of the Shugden Supporters Community.

Steven Lane talked for nearly an hour, hardly drawing breath, without notes. He had the catechetical manner you find among Scientologists or Trotskyists: people who know not only all the answers, but all the questions, too. If the wrong question came up, he simply steamed on and ignored it.

The view from inside the Shugden Supporters Community was almost a photographic negative of everything the outside world believes about Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The worship of Dorje Shugden, Lane said, could not possibly be taken as threatening. It was a harmless spiritual practice, comparable to the worship of St Francis in Christianity; and four million people followed the deity. A long and damning report on the NKT which had appeared in the Guardian could be explained because its author was a member of a rival Buddhist organization. The Dalai Lama, he said, was not a spiritual leader; not even a member of the Gelugpa tradition (the dominant Buddhist tradition in Tibet). In fact, the Dalai Lama was not really struggling for Tibetan freedom at all, and his actions against Shugden were motivated by political desires. It was as if Lane were asserting that Nelson Mandela was a secret agent of apartheid with no moral stature at all.

It was a powerful indictment, flawed only by the fact that almost everything I was told in the Lister house was untrue. The figure of four million worshippers of Shugden was preposterous. There are only about six million Tibetans in the world at most, of whom less than half are members of the Gelugpa order (Steven Lane estimated 30 per cent), where the veneration of Shugden is concentrated. Even among the Gelugpa, only monks can be initiated into the cult of Shugden, and only a minority of those actually are. Most of the experts I talked to thought that about 100,000 people at most could be affected by the Dalai Lama's ban.

Gyalpo's picture

dougal: " i do actually hope that guy can see the error of his ways and purify his actions before he dies, i really do."

Are you actually serious? Do you have any idea how pompous that statement is? Do you learn anything at all about Kadampa teaching at 'New Kadampa'? Apparently not. Maybe it's a cultural attribute that values humility that's missing, maybe it's just everso thrilling to opine as if you are the authority, I'm not certain. I suggest you stop prostrating to your own ego and re-examine the basics before passing judgement based on what daddy tells you.

Lineageholder's picture


Thanks for the quote, I can now understand how CNNR's view of Dorje Shugden is so wrong. Firstly, Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen did not break his samaya in a very bad way. He was an incarnation of Panchen Sonam Dragpa, the 15th Ganden Tripa who was Abbot of Ganden, Drepung and Gyuto Tantric College and who himself was recognised as enlightened:

Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen did die tragically, murdered at the hands of the 5th Dalai Lama's chamberlain Desi Sonam Chopel. Being a great Master of Sutra and Tantra, what problems did he cause? Having stainless moral discipline, he didn't cause any! I think that CNNR should provide evidence of such accusations.

Upon his death, Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen did not become a gyalpo but a ChoGyal (Dharma King), Dorje Shugden, the special protector of the doctrine of Je Tsongkhapa, as it was prophesied at the time of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen's previous incarnation Duldzin Dragpa Gyaltsen. If Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was a mere gyalpo, why did the fire pujas and other rituals that the Great Fifth employed completely fail to subdue him? Because he has Vajra power and is an emanation of Manjushri!

As Trijang Rinpoche himself says in Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors:

The Fifth Dalai Lama performed the ritual activity but as he was doing it Sangpu Setrab emanated a monastery on top of Bumpa Ri, Vase Mountain, where none had been before and rocked the Potala Palace back and forth, which caused the
Great Fifth's concentration to waver just slightly; and also by the power of Dragpa Gyaltsen, himself, having single pointedly practised glorious Guyasamaja while he was alive and attained high experiential realizations of its two stages, the fire puja was not successful. Likewise, when the great vajra master Dordrag Rigtzin peformed wrathful fire puja, Gyalchen came to the fire puja ladle but, when he turned the ladle over to pour into the fire he went to the backside of the ladle, and when he turned it upright, he was sitting on top again, and so on, and he was unable to burn him.
When Mingling Terchen performed wrathful fire puja and Gyalchen came to the fire puja ladle, when he was about to put him in the fire, Setrab emanated a celestial mansion in the sky until Terchen's mind was distracted and he lost him
from the ladle. The ritual monks saw a pigeon fly away. When Gadong Ngarampa performed fire puja, one of the ritual monks squeezed a dry apricot pit that flew up and struck the master in the head so that his samadhi dissipated and he was unable to burn him. Other teams of practitioners could not do it either.

In short, since CNNR's original premise is wrong, all of his subsequent writing is wrong and full of laughable superstition.

namkhah's picture

"King Dorje Shugden" is a product of the human imagination to posit "he" is an actual entity is primitive theism and not buddhadharma whatsoever.

Dorje's picture

Harry, there was already a similar kind of vows in the Buddha's system as found in the NKT. These are the five basic vows (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and drinking) plus celibacy. This kind of 'ordination' (sang chod genyen/brahmacharya upasika) could be considered the 'essence' of the gelong vows, but it is not gelong vows. As such, holders of these vows do not wear the robes of the ordained sangha or of a gelong.

I do not agree that it is impossible for westerners to be gelongs or getsuls. I have met some very good western monastics. However, if people can't keep the traditional vows, there is no reason for dressing up and pretending they are. If I see a NKT member in the street and I don't know they are an NKT member, I may pay them the respect due to ordained sangha despite them not being ordained sangha. Dress has a social function of helping people identify those that are following the vows of the Buddha. NKT members dressing up is both false advertising, and given their protests against the Dalai Lama, a fully ordained gelong, brings the Sangha into disrepute.

Dorje's picture

"You seem to think that, by definition, if each lineage can be said to be a “complete path” it is mistaken to involve oneself in paths other than one’s own, and you feel this is what happens with “Rimay” practitioners?"

Indeed, my path is Rime, and EM is attacking my path. In doing this he has fallen into extreme exclusivism (sectarianism) according to his model.

SeekingClarity's picture


If it cuts plenty of ice, then it does so both ways. There are very great lamas in both lists. Thus

It cuts plenty of ice when you realize the spiritual integrity of those anti Shugdenpa Great Beings proves that they Shugdenpas were not spirit worshipers and the Dalai Lama is wrongright.

The only move left to you here, LH, is took get out your realization-ometer as claim "my lamas are better than your lamas".

emptymountains's picture

Dear Dorje,

You call them 'sects' because you think each has only certain sections of Buddha's teachings. I believe that all traditions have complete paths (i.e., each has a "whole pie"). Two traditions can only compliment each other if one has something essential that the other one doesn't.

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.


Tenzin Peljor's picture

Dear LH, I think the dilemma expressed in post #909 and elsewhere is the misunderstanding about what faith is.

Faith is exactly "belief in facts" and it arises when someone recognizes clean clear the real existing qualities of an object.

There are certain issues were doubt is just very correct, e.g. when there is a phenomenon praised of having qualities which it does not possess, like a doctor who is not able to cure people or samsara as being a pleasure grove. To let go harmful objects one contemplates the faults of the object, there is nothing negative in this when the object really possesses these negative aspects and functions and one does not over exaggerate the faults. Correct doubt protects from being harmed. Another event is when people are lying then these persons can be doubted to state the facts according to reality or to be a reliable source of information. The Buddha also encouraged doubts (see Kalama Sutra).

"Faith" is another topic in NKT which is taught in a superficial manner or which is not explained thoroughly or even misleading and wrongly. The correct explanation about faith, according to all Indian-Tibetan Buddhist schools, based on Abhisamyalamkara or Abhidharmasamuccaya can be found e.g. at Alex Berzin's website or the origin sources. Some of them have been translated into English.

The definintion of faith (skt. shradda, tib. dad-pa) is:

“A constructive emotion that focuses on something existent and validly knowable, something with good qualities, or an actual potential, and considers it either existent or true, or considers a fact about it as true.“

Here a more detailed explanation by Berzin:

The focal object of the meditation, then, is the mentors' good qualities. The way in which we focus on them is through believing that these qualities are there and that the person actually has them. Believing (daypa, dad-pa), usually translated as faith, means varying things to different people in diverse cultures. Let us examine the classical Buddhist definition in the hope of bringing about a rectification of terms. We shall use as our basis Vasubandhu and Asanga's discussions, as presented by Yeshey-gyeltsen, the tutor of the Seventh Dalai Lama, in Indicating Clearly the Primary Minds and Mental Factors.

The Definition of Believing

The Buddhist discussion of believing refers neither to beliefs as mental objects that someone passively holds, nor to belief or faith as a general state of mind that characterizes a "believer." Rather, as Asanga explained, believing is the constructive mental action of focusing on something existent and knowable, and considering it either existent or true, or considering a fact about it true. Thus, it does not include believing that an unknowable God or Santa Claus exists or that the moon is made of green cheese. Further, believing a fact occurs only while validly cognizing it and implies certitude. Therefore, believing also excludes presumption and blind faith, such as believing that the stock market will rise.

There are three ways of believing a fact to be true. (1) Clearheadedly believing a fact about something is a mental action that is clear about a fact and which, like a water purifier, constructively clears the mind. Vasubandhu specified that it clears the mind of disturbing emotions and attitudes toward its object. (2) Believing a fact based on reason is the mental action of considering a fact about something to be true on the basis of thinking about reasons that prove it. (3) Believing a fact with an aspiration concerning it is the mental action of considering true both a fact about something and that one can achieve the goal of an aspiration one consequently holds about the object.

Asanga further explained that believing a fact to be true acts as the basis for inciting intention. Intention, in turn, serves as the basis for positive enthusiasm to accomplish a goal.

The Three Ways of Believing That a Mentor Has Good Qualities

In explaining sutra-level guru-meditation, Tsongkhapa specified that disciples need to focus on the good qualities that their mentors actually have, while believing clearheadedly that the mentors truly have them. In delineating only one way of believing these qualities to be a fact, he followed Vasubandhu's presentation of the constructive mental action of believing. Sangwayjin, however, mentioned all three ways of believing as part of his general discussion of the spiritual path. Therefore, applying all three ways of believing in a mentor's qualities to guru-meditation seems an appropriate elaboration for gaining more inspiration, a stronger intention, and greater enthusiasm. We shall follow the order that Yeshey-gyeltsen used for the three, since they form a logical progression:

(1) After distinguishing our mentors' good qualities, we focus on them first while believing clearheadedly that they actually have them. In other words, these qualities are clear to us from having examined our mentors' behavior and character. The more we focus on the qualities and clearheadedly believe them to be a fact, the more we cleanse our minds of disturbing emotions and attitudes toward our mentors, such as arrogance or doubts about the person.

(2) Once we are able to focus clearheadedly on our mentors' actual good qualities and are clear that they have them, we recall what "having good qualities" means. The Sanskrit term for good qualities, guna, also appears in the non-Buddhist Samkhya school of philosophy as the name for the three universal constituents - intelligence, energy, and mass (Skt. sattva, rajas, and tamas) – that form an intrinsic part of every phenomenon. In Buddhism, however, the term refers to the good qualities that, as aspects of Buddha-nature, are the intrinsic potentials or properties of the clear light mind. The Tibetan translation yonten (yon-tan) means literally the correction of a deficiency. The implication is that, although everyone has the same potentials, realization of them comes through strengthening one's natural abilities in order to overcome shortcomings.

Reminding ourselves of the connotation of the Tibetan term yonten enables us to think next about how our mentors gained their qualities through following a process of behavioral cause and effect. Our mentors have become qualified spiritual teachers as the result of intensively training in Dharma. Moreover, we know that our mentors definitely have good qualities, based on irrefutable evidence – our personal experience of the positive effect that our teachers have had on others and on us. Thus, we focus on our mentors' good qualities while believing even more strongly, based on sound reason, that their possession of these qualities is a fact. Our minds are totally free of arrogance or doubts.

(3) Clearheaded about our mentors' good qualities and knowing that they have gained them through a process of behavioral cause and effect, we focus next on these features while believing something about them involving our aspirations. We believe that these qualities are something that we too are able to attain, based on our Buddha-natures and appropriate effort. Moreover, by seeing how much our mentors have helped others and us by having these qualities, we believe them to be something that we need to attain and that we shall strive to attain to help others too. The constructive mental action of believing this about our mentors' good qualities strengthens our development of bodhichitta - the mental action of focusing on enlightenment with the strong intention to attain it for the benefit of all. This intention, in turn, serves as the basis for positive enthusiasm to attain the same good qualities as our mentors have.

Related with faith is the mental factor “Firm conviction (tib. mos-pa)” – the second of the mental factors of what GKG has translated as the ‘Five Object-ascertaining mental factors’, he translated mos-pa in ‘Firm apprehension’. According to the Gelug sources used by Berzin "'Firm conviction (mos-pa)' focuses on a fact that we have validly ascertained (nges-pa) to be like this and not like that. Its function is to make our belief (dad-pa) so firm that others’ arguments or opinions will not dissuade us. For Vasubandhu, this subsidiary awareness means regard. It merely takes its object to have some level of good qualities - on the spectrum from no good qualities to all good qualities - and may be either accurate or distorted."

The detailed explanation by Berzin based on origin sources states:

Vasubandhu defined mopa as the mental action of apprehending an object of focus as having a good quality. The good quality he meant was the object being interesting enough that one would want to stay focused on it. As a general mental action, it accompanies focusing on anything and its strength may vary from strong to weak. Thus, the mental action corresponds to taking interest in an object while focusing on it.

Asanga, on the other hand, interpreted good qualities in the definition as meaning to be true. Thus, he restricted the scope of mopa and explained it as a mental action that occurs while believing a fact about its object of focus. Thus, Asanga explained being firmly convinced of something as a mental action that focuses on a fact that one has validly ascertained to be like this and not like that. Its function is to make one's belief so firm that others' arguments or opinions will not dissuade one. Shantideva added that firm conviction in a fact grows from long-term familiarity with the consequences that consistently follow from it.

Being firmly convinced of a fact, then, does not arise from blind faith. It requires valid cognition. In A Supplement to the Middle Way, Chandrakirti gave three criteria for validating the cognition of a fact.

(1) Appropriate convention must accept the fact to be what one considers it to be. Here, the mentors' features on which we focus must be those that the Buddhist literature agrees to be requisite qualities of spiritual mentors. If businesspeople consider these features as assets for teachers to possess in order to attract large audiences – for instance, that they be entertaining and adept at telling good jokes – their convention does not validate our considering the features positive qualities. The convention of people interested in fame and profit is inappropriate for the situation.

(2) A mind that validly cognizes the conventional phenomenon on which one focuses must not contradict what one considers true about it. Suppose that objective people who know us well correctly see that a certain quality of one of our teachers, such as an authoritarian, feudal manner, is having a negative effect on us. Their valid perception would invalidate our considering this feature to be self-assuredness and our believing it to be a positive quality.

(3) A mind that validly cognizes the deepest way in which things exist also must not contradict what one considers true. Regarding our mentors' abilities as inherently existent in them, as if our teachers were almighty Gods, is an invalid cognition. A mind that correctly sees how things exist knows that good qualities do not exist in that way. Good qualities arise through behavioral cause and effect, by correcting deficiencies.

If you apply this correct Dharma understanding in the context of NKT and the Shugden debate there will be more clarity about what is an object of faith and what is not an object of faith. Correct faith can't be destroyed, because correct faith is based on facts / reality. But wrong views can be destroyed and undermined because they base upon delusions and do not accord with facts or reality.

From this Dharma pov there is no need to worry about things like you've stated: "What does concern me is the doubt their statements create in the minds of sincere practitioners who are in danger of being misled due to fixation on the qualifications of some scholar...Those without eyes of faith are generally blind to the most important things in life and academic treatises are based on ‘facts’ which do not sum up the entirety of a spiritual issue...."

If the researchers state facts and they give evidence that e.g. there was strong opposition to Shugden worship, that there were sectarian and violent actions, then this is in the first case no spiritual matter, these are just facts. It becomes a spiritual matter for those spiritual practitioners who wish to judge whose statements are more according to reality, those of GKG or those of HHDL. To judge an object one has to thoroughly to understand it. The more perspectives are included in the judgement, the better it is. Researcher can be of great help for that. Like someone can be of great help to you to recognize the kindness of your mother by telling you what she actual took upon herself for hardships to raise you up, although the person who tells you this maybe not spiritual at all. The Bodhisattva vows and the example of some of Buddha's students make this clear by emphasizing to see every being as one's teacher.

To sum it: real faith can't be undermined, wrong views can be undermined. Real faith is unshakeable, wrong views will collapse if one sees reality as it is. Faith will increase if one sees reality as it is. From that pov HHDL usually emphasizes "Buddhism means to come more close to reality." or "Wrong views will sooner of later collapse because they are not based on reality."

With respect to what the essence of Vinaya is, there is an "Essence of the Ocean of Vinaya", composed by Je Tsongkhapa:

With all problems and issues we've discussed here, I think, we come more close to Je Tsongkhapa, all the Buddhist masters, and the Buddha who say, that all problems come from ignorance (or delusions) and none other source.

I hope with our engaged discussion here at Tricycle some of GKG's wrong views, e.g. “Until now there have been no problems between Gelugpas and Nyingmapas, and there has been no arguing or criticism.” or “Now, my main point is that people should know that all the present problems regarding Dorje Shugden within the Mahayana Buddhist world have no creator other than HH the Dalai Lama. He is the source of all these problems because it was he who first publicly claimed that Dorje Shugden is an evil spirit...I clearly understand that the responsibility for this lies with HH the Dalai Lama.” will collapse in some of his followers who wrongly over took them based on blind belief or lacking other sources. If such wrong views collapse in some of GKG's followers, actual this is no loss of faith this is the destruction of wrong views which do not accord with reality.

This can be seen as a joyful event, because wrong views are the source of suffering and the source of the causes of suffering: harmful actions.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Tenzin P,

Slanderous, depreciating statements as issued by the NKT/GKG/WSS and its food soldiers against the Dalai Lama can’t be found by him.

Yes they can, but there aren't many because the DL likes to make the bullets and get other people to fire them. His common tactic is to stay in the background and allow other people to give his message - like Sera Monastery's expulsion letter for example, or Robert Thurman's criticisms of Dorje Shugden practitioners. The extremely negative tone of the 1998 Newsweek article 'Cult Mystery' can have only one source, but those words are not attributed directly to the DL - they can be attributed to Thurman or Clifton but not the DL. He's very clever - he always puts himself in a position where if he needs to deny something, he can, although his negative propaganda against Shugden practitioners has been well documented recently by France 24 and Al Jezeera, where he says:

Shugden followers have resorted to killing and beating people. They start fires. And tell endless lies. This is how the Shugden believe. It is not good.

This is slander and deprecation. This is not how the Shugden believe at all.

Then you say:

The motive to “expose the hypocrisy of the Dalai Lama” (see WSS website) is also no Dharma practice or proper motivation of a Buddhist.

If someone is destroying the Buddhadharma, then out of compassion for others it is a Dharma practice to expose their hypocrisy. The Dalai Lama himself said so. In the article 'Shaping the Future', documenting a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Western Dharma teachers, he himself said:

When there is incontrovertible evidence of wrong-doing, then it is one’s responsibility to take action. Make voice! Give warning! We no longer tolerate!”

There is incontrovertible evidence of wrong doing (causing a schism in the Sangha, one of the five heinous actions) so it is WSS's duty to take action.

I'm sorry that your six and a half years of Shugden practice didn't yield any thing other than doubts. Obviously, it wasn't for you.

TheFinalTruth's picture

Lineageholder, or dear NKT truth team, just to clarify some points from # 388:

NKT tells or told their followers that the Dalai Lama is the enemy of Buddhadharma, because “he is destroying the ‘pure tradition’ of his root Guru” As in NKT there is only one policy: the truth is what “Geshe-la says”. It is very clear from whom this view derives. It was also Geshe Kelsang who claimed:

»The Dalai Lama has been very successful in destroying this ancient religious tradition. He is very clever at destroying the spiritual practice taught by his root Guru Trijang Rinpoche, but he is very ignorant and foolish at achieving Tibetan independence. This should be his main job because he is the Tibetan political leader, but in this he is paralyzed, without any direction. Everyone can see this situation now. The Dalai Lama is using these three reasons, repeating them over and over like a weapon to destroy the spiritual practice taught by his root Guru. He is continually saying these things, and people believe him, and their minds are gradually changing. In reality he is misleading people in order to fulfil his wishes. His main wish is to destroy the practice of Dorje Shugden and then to change the entire Gelug tradition. He wants to integrate all the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism into one so that the leaders of the other traditions will no longer have a role and he will become the only leader of Tibetan Buddhism. In this way he can easily control the spiritual life of all practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. I know this is his wish; he has been working towards this for many years. Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, “Re: RELIGIOUS ISSUES - related to DORJE SHUGDEN and the DALAI LAMA”, 01/12/1997«

It is also Geshe Kelsang who separated from the Sangha, and made all NKT members completely dependent on himself by not allowing teachers from the own school (Gelug school), respected elders, Tulkus, Rinpoches etc. to teach the Dharma, Buddha’s teachings.
He denounced his own school by claiming that the “Gelug school is very degenerated” and by claiming that the NKT is “very pure”. He may not said the latter point directly but by claiming that the Gelug school is “very degenerated” and postulating the Dharma he teaches (and thereby NKT) as “very pure” or “pure teachings” or “pure tradition” and warning on “mixing its essential purity” by other Dharma teachings (not from him) he established this concept by indirect means and this view is still very present and dominating within NKT. It is a dominating view, that NKT has something like an “essential purity”. Also in his ordination talk from 1999 he puts down his own school to establish NKT’s supremacy:

Nowadays the practice of the Vinaya has almost died out, not only the Vinaya but Buddhism in general is degenerating, including the Tibetan Gelug tradition. I am not the only one who says this, many other Lamas have said the same. Over two hundred years ago a Gelugpa lama called Gungtang Jampelyang wrote a praise to Lama Tsongkhapa in which he said ‘Now, although the Ganden doctrine is increasing materially, its practice is seriously degenerating. This makes me very sad.’ Every year it is degenerating and becoming weaker, while political activities are increasing. This is very sad.
However here in the west we are very fortunate. For us this is not a degenerate but an increasing time. During an increasing time the Dharma is flourishing, it is very easy to gain realizations, and there are many pure practitioners and realized beings. When Buddhadharma first began to flourish there were many realized beings, both Yogis and Yoginis. Then gradually they became less and less common, until now it is very rare to find a pure practitioner.

Also point 2 you bring up in post #388: Geshe Kelsang may not say this directly but by indirect means, by using hints. Point 2 shows how this is established, you show the way to do it yourself: “if there are pure Teachers of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition in Tibetan Buddhism they have to subjugate themselves to the Dalai Lama’s political wishes and keep their practice of Dorje Shugden secret.” This implies there almost no “pure teachers” any more because either they have to “subjugate themselves to the Dalai Lama’s political wishes”, which means from NKT’s perspective they act politically and are therefore impure, and it also implies that those who do not practice Shugden and especially the Dalai Lama are no “pure teachers”. NKT is also a master of hints and establishing their views by implication.

WSS is 90-95% NKT and maybe 20-30 Tibetans. “The problem” was set up and is issued forth mainly by NKT, Geshe Kelsang’s Western followers, because they have the interest to “expose the hypocrisy of the Dalai Lama” (see WSS- website). I doubt that Tibetans support NKT financially.

Different media reported that probably China supports NKT and this makes much more sense than claiming Tibetans would support them, because:
1. NKT fulfils the political wishes or visions of China but not that of Tibetans. (Of course NKT skilfully guise their actions in a “religious freedom”-issue while neglecting that Shugden worship is no religion)
2. In general Tibetans have less opportunity to support Westerners financially!!!

WSS and NKT is the same. WSS is a front group of NKT as the former Shugden Support Community (SSC) was a front group of NKT. By the way also at that time (1996-98) NKT claimed wrongly SCC is not made of NKT but by Western Tibetan Centers or Tibetan teachers, like Lama Gangchen and others. They did all to deceive the media and the public and to hide the fact that SSC is NKT. Their claim that Lama Gangchen or other Western Tibetan Centers would support them, was just untrue. NKT members deceived the media by claiming wrongly they are not NKT members but “concerned Buddhists”. This was the NKT tactic 10 years ago. Nowadays there is not much difference, the only point is that NKT does not list other Tibetan Lamas who would support them (of course they claim this is due to the “immense fear they have” – one of the many half-truths NKT is operating with.)

NKT / WSS is blackmailing HHDL. Shugden can be practiced privately and also in those monasteries where only Shugden followers live. The majority of the other monasteries decided to have no Shugden worship at their place. This is their very right. Also NKT bans what they see as harmful in their centres like other Buddhist teachers, other Dharma books, images of the Dalai Lama, people who have broken their NKT ordination etc. Also this bans are a lack of religious freedom, but no Buddhist organizes protests against this. Rather they see it as the NKT approach and let live them with this. If I would be the Dalai Lama I would not give power to people who blackmail me and are rather religious fundamentalists. So I guess you /NKT waste money and time. That the Shugden conflict is political is the view of Geshe Kelsang or did he lie when he said in 2002:

In October 1998 we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue because we realised 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.

It is very clear from Geshe Kelsang’s statement and WSS’s denigration campaign that he and NKT have something personally against the HHDL. It is also Shugden worship which adversely affects the spiritual practice of others (see history and views of majority), and not the restriction of it. So your campaign is just non-sense to say the least.

namkhah's picture

dougal: If you had been out of short pants that's what was happening–I mean corpse, shovel, dig hole in earth, do you get it yet laddy? Working on road construction even learned people, vey hard life. These are the ones who fed your idle 'geshela' for many years with their hard labour and what does he do?, send white guys out to slag them off, its an absolutely despicable betrayal and stinks of the ambiguity you NKT people who dress up as monks and nuns and ring your little bells feel toward non-whites.

Buddhist Friend: Fickle organization it seems:Gen Thubten...toast, Gen Samten...toast, Lucy James, I guess not I imagine there are other yet to get the boot.
other than that, no comment

Ron's picture

Truthsayer said "You’ll have to let it go when you go to your next life, for sure." You should consider thisquote from Chogyal Namkai Norbu Rinpoche:

"At the time of the 5th Dalai Lama there was a monk who broke his samaya in a very bad way and created lots of problems and at the end of his life he died very tragically and became a kind of Gyalpo. He became part of a group of Gyalpo. Later this Gyalpo manifested and some Gelugpa and Sakyapa lamas had contact with that spirit. And it seemed that that spirit helped them and served them so they considered him to be a good guardian. Then they invented a puja to have more contact with that spirit. Later the 5th Dalai Lama and Minling Terchen, an important Nyingmapa lama, found out about this and said that this was a very bad spirit which shouldn't be considered as a guardian, but should be eliminated. They performed many pujas in order to eliminate him but maybe they did not succeed very well.

Some Gelugpa Lamas continued to do pujas and particularly some very sectarian Gelugpa lamas believed that this Gyalpo was a very good guardian because he only protected the Gelugpa school and eliminated and controlled all the other schools. They believed that and continued to do more pujas and ask for more of these kinds of actions which seemed to work with the Gyalpo. Or at least they thought they did. And they went on like this for many centuries.

Some Lamas didn't like what was happening and tried to go against this development, but without success. Then our present Dalai Lama told us that when he was young, one of his younger teachers taught him this practice of Gyalpo. The Gyalpo was called Gyalpo Shugden, it wasn't just any kind of Gyalpo. He said that when he was young, he did this kind of puja for some years. But later when he studied the books of the 5th Dalai Lama, he found that it was something negative. And he discovered that this guardian had also disturbed the government of Tibet. Later on the Dalai Lama asked people for many years not to do this practice anymore, because it is very negative. That is true, because I know at least three or four people in my country, in particular one of my uncles at the Sakyapa monastery, who also did the Gyalpo practice. One of my uncles was a lama there and performed pujas in the Gyalpo temple for two or three years. In the end he had a very strong illness, his energy became disordered and he had a great many problems. I know three other lamas who performed pujas in the same temple and one after another each of them went mad. This was the influence of the Gyalpo. Sometimes it seems that for a short while the practice of Gyalpo helps - that is why many people do the Gyalpo puja - but in the real sense they get disturbed later on because when someone is connected with the Gyalpo, they are transformed and become subject to them. When these people die they become part of the class of Gyalpo. The life of a Gyalpo may last for five or six thousand years so for that reason it is considered something very negative."

Bill Esterhaus's picture


Here's just one such example from Morchen Kunga Lhundrup, the great Sakya Lama and promoter of Dorje Shugden practice showing that DS was always regarded as an enlightened being:

Although having found the pure nature Dharmakaya,
By the power of compassion emanating a form,
[I] entrust you for the sake of performing
All three times’ bodhisattvas’ countless activities.

This shows that the claims that have been made here that the Sakyas never saw DS as an enlightened protector or relied on him in this way are simply more ministry of misinformation lies. This shows how the Dalai Lama and his supporters are trying to change history to suit their own nefarious purposes.

Nyungne Lama, who was himself regarded as an incarnation of Dorje Shugden wrote this in his ritual prayer to DS:

Seeing you as a Buddha in mind,
Staying close to me,
For pure ethics and devotion,
Increasing lifespan, merit and endowments,
Being praised by all,
Living piously without pride,
Please perform activities
To effortlessly perfect all goals.

There is no point in continuing this discussion because, as a member of the cult of anti-Shugden you are unable to accept the facts. Just read the website, educate yourself and stop spreading sectarian lies about the Dharma King Dorje Shugden.

Thank you and goodbye.

harry (gandul)'s picture

Hi Dorje,

That it is different from the vinaya taught by the Buddha does make it invalid.

What needs to be considered is if in essence it remains the same. The 10 vows of NKT ordination are a condensation of the 243 (?) originally prescribed vows. Wether the formula actually works well is another story. I don't think the mentioned sexual misconduct instances are alone enough to prove that the ordination is different in essence to that of Buddha's. Neither is protesting, even though like you i didn't personally agree with the protests.

About the difference between essence and all that rest. The essence is the core, the important part. The rest is merely what is added on top, or we could say how the essence is dressed. It seems to me that so many of the original vows prescribed by Buddha are disposable, IF of course we make sure we are keeping to the essence of what said vows entail. I think Buddha wanted to teach liberation, not an outer conduct code. I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about vinaya, but it makes sense to me that it's ok to change the vows to suit modern westerners who want to take Buddhist ordination, of course ensuring that the meaning of the vinaya is kept intact. If you think the essence has been removed or damaged, can you or someone else explain how?

I agree that some aspects of the vinaya may not be totally appropriate for modern times, but how is wearing robes or shaving the head any more appropriate than these?

I think it's about finding a middle way in between what is adequate for oneself and what is adequate for others. Adapting to modern times isn't about fulfilling the wishes of society to the point where our spiritual development is at risk. But i also think that keeping the vows as they were would make it near impossible for westerners to be monks and nuns. I think KG is has tried to strike a balance here, so that people can take the robes without having to go and live in a tibetan monastery to do so. In India becoming a monk was accesible, here it is not.

Dorje's picture

"Too bad the Dalai Lama doesn’t give his seal of approval saying Rime is a new bonafide Tibetan Buddhist tradition."

EM, you are comparing apples to oranges. Your assertion that Rime does not constitute a tradition amounts to nothing until you give a stricy definition of what you mean by 'tradition'. Going by your past definition (a synthesis of practices and teachings by an enlightened being that leads to enlightenment) there is no doubt that Rime is a tradition. If you bring up the arguments of others saying that Rime does not constitute a new monastic institution, then fair enough, but this is not how YOU understood tradition and it is not how I do either.

Using your definition of 'tradition' please explain why Rime doesn't constitute a tradition.

namkhah'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.

Dorje's picture

Well, *in general* then, if someone practices just one tradition, do they necessarily have a hidden hostility towards other traditions? Does their pratice of just one tradition mean that they aren’t practicing all of Buddha’s teachings?

Everyone practices just one tradition, the Buddha's tradition. All four Tibetan Buddhist schools have teachings in common, and teachings adopted from other traditions. No one really practices just one tradition in this sense. If they went out of their way to remove all the 'foreign' elements of a given tradition, yes, they probably have some issues with hostility, or at least some kind of OCD.

SeekingClarity's picture


The original source of the GKG quote (an e-mail he posted on google groups) in unclear as to which of Dhontog's books on DS he is referring to but I decided it didn't really matter as they all make a similar sort of case.

Re scholars, some are of course pracititoners too. And the work of those that are not can I think be useful in marshalling certain information. I guess one just has to appraise everything with a critical eye. And I'm sure you don't despise scholars - I was just indulging in a little hyperbole!

Kagyupa's picture

Those of us who've practiced for any extended period will agree, I think, that one's Gurus always advise that talking about one's experiences, etc., is not really "appropriate." In fact, it's often detrimental to one's practice to discuss such things publically. In the Vajrayana traditions of Tibet, such things are usually only "laid bare" at very special points, or in secret writings, etc.

Lineageholder, however, feels that he's had some "special experience" or realization with respect to his so-called "protector" and he trumpets it here, on this forum, and for the express purpose of proving his argument. In fact, he's now stated that this experience of his is the prime factor in his argument! In other words, his own experience (as well, we assume, as the words of his Guru and his Guru's followers), trumps the documented historical record and the vast corpus of material antithetical to his view.

You can't really argue this, in the same way that you can't argue faith with Evengelical Christians.

Gyalpo's picture

namkhah: There are certain hallmarks of the Indian usage of English that are easy to identify. Similarly, Chinese bloggers are easy to spot, the numerous grammatical and spelling errors are one, but also professional Chinese communist propagandists seem to get paid by the word and drone on interminably.