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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Dorje's picture

I love gyatso's videos on youtube. He looks such a befuddled old man and obvious power hungry fraud. I love the way he can't speak clear English despite having lived here for over thirty years. I wonder why the NKT don't post more videos of him on the internet. The videos of his cult followers singing his praises in 'calm' cult-like voices are worth a laugh but they are not nearly as good as the ones featuring the garbled English and naked ambition of the man himself.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear TP,

You quote Andrew Brown:

The view from inside the Shugden Supporters Community [NKT] was almost a photographic negative of everything the outside world believes about Tibet and the Dalai Lama…

Yes....because the world doesn't know the truth and it doesn't particularly want to either. Andrew Brown didn't want to accept the evidence he was shown. The media regard the Dalai Lama as some kind of idealistic Shangri-la spiritual pin up because that's how he's painted himself. In fact is he's a politician and dictator who oppresses others' religious freedoms but the media either can't or doesn't want to accept the evidence for this; that's irresponsible denial.

I can understand why they don't want to accept it. Everyone needs hope but regardless of how much they want to cling onto their idealistic fantasy about the DL, time will change their view. It's already been shown that he lied about his involvement with the CIA in the '70s.

The very fact that it's the Tibetan Government in Exile's website you've referenced for an out of date news story ably demonstrates the reprehensible political smear game the TGIE is engaged in to justify their religious oppression of Shugden practitioners, but the truth will be known, it's just a matter of time, just like the CIA debacle.

Dorje's picture

Shugden is referred to as rgyal po chen po and rgyal chen where the second is shortened for the first. I’ve never seen Pehar referred to as rgyal chen only as rgyal po. I’ve never seen rgyal po chen po mean great rgyal po spirit, only great king My main point is this protector is seen as a gyalpo spirit by all, either as a samsaric being or an emanation showing the conventional appearance of a gyalpo spirit. Do you agree?

Dorje's picture

Geoffry Samuel refers to both the Gelug and Rime as sytheses. This is a good approach, I think, as it better describes what the Jamyang lamas were doing. I have a feeling you are avoiding my question because there is really no logical reason why Rime is should not count as a valid sythesis whereas Gelug does. So, going back to your original model, that you've spent over a year and a half working on, why would one sythesis count as extreme inclusivism whereas the others don't?

harry (gandul)'s picture

"GKG is skilful enough to establish himself as a Buddha by indirect means and indirect speech."

The evidence for this kind of thing is rather flimsy. HHDL has jokingly suggested that he himself is Chenrezig. What does he mean? Was he really joking!?... etc

One can start making a big thing out of this, but ultimately what is the point? One needs to take these things with a pinch of salt.

I have never got the impression that GKG is subtly trying to get people to think he is a Buddha.

SeekingClarity's picture


Now that you've explained your position a little more fully (#1139), as I say, I'm happy to go along with your framework. That doesn't mean I fully accept it. But, I am interested! And I guess that once you illustrate it with some concrete points (e.g. about Phabongka) I'll be able to get more of a handle on it.

On a more pragmatic point, I guess I'm not a this point prepared to spend a great deal of time analyzing and commenting on your framework before we proceed. I personally regard that as you asking too much of me...and perhaps also of other posters. As I say, I will probably wish to engage more once I see your framework in action.

One last point: the way the English language works, "sectarianism" and "non-sectarianism" are necessarily opposites! So I stand by my view that they are!

Dorje's picture

There is no reason not to and if one feels inclined to take teachings from other traditions this is up to the individual.

Je Tsongkhapa took teachings from many traditions. He put these together to form his own tradition. These practices compliment each other and lead the individual to realisation.

Buddhadharma is Buddhadharma. To say it is harmful and confusing to practice different elements of the Buddhadharma together is harmful and misleading. It is a lie.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

In the film docu I mentioned already “Dorjee Shugden, The Spirit and the Controversy” also other masters state their point of view. Not only is HH Sakya Trizin is very clear about this subject and HHDL corrects the wrong claims made by Shugden followers with respect to the 5th Dalai Lama, but also two other eminent Tibetan Masters are very clear that Shugden is no object of Buddhist worship.

Tai Situ Rinpoche:

“We Kaygue followers normally do not mention this name without fear. There is no Shugden practitioner among Kagyue followers. The reason why we fear the one I name just now, is because we believe that he causes obstacles to spiritual practice and brings discord in families and among the community of monks.”

HH Mindolling Trichen Rinpoche:

“Shugden is a ghost. We Nyingma practitioner do not follow him. We propagate only those protectors that were bound by Padmasambhava. Shugden came after Padmasambhava. Shugden is a hungry ghost in the human realm.”

dougal's picture

further - if you check NKT-IKBU Internal Rules, you'll see that GKG isd due to retire in summer next year. he has systematically disempowered himself over the last few years, handing over effective control of the organisation he created to the Education Council, the assembly of all the Resident Teachers of NKT-IKBU Centers worldwide. this council, right now, has the power to remove GKG from office asGeneral Spiritual Director of NKT-IKBU if his behaviour were to be found to be harmful to the development of Buddhadharma in this world.

he has consistently taught publicly and privately over the years that we need to apply wisdom in our reliance on our Gurus, and to check that their instructions are in accordance with Lord Buddha's doctrine. he as told his disciples directly that we *should not* blindly follow anyone, including himself, but that we should develop our own wisdom to discriminate correct advice to follow, and incorrect advice to reject.

sounds like the actions of an insecure, power-humgry despot to me, eh? what do you think?

you do think, right?

namkhah's picture

Search 'People's Daily online',, there's reams and reams of Chinese Shugden nonsense, postings by "Thomas Canada". I personally don't like getting reamed but there it is.

NKT Insider's picture

Just in case you might be scratching your head about the subtle distinctions between NKT-IKBU and WSS - I know as an absolute fact that Kelsang Pema personally visited many NKT centres and engaged in formal meetings with all residents encouraging them to engage in the protests against the Dalai Lama.

Of course there was no pressure from NKT head office for NKT members to support the protests - everyone was free to make up their own minds - it was a loose coalition of like minded people ..... who had all independently researched the issue ......

or was it a carefully orchestrated campaign principally by the NKT

you decide... I already know .... and I used to support the NKT.

murari's picture

Put me in a castle with thousands of lost and adoring and unquestioning devotees acting on my every whim and I'd go mad as a hatter too. It is merit to give me money?

T.P.'s picture

Hi LH,
that the claims made by NKT/WSS are baseless is my opinion, I didn't intend nor did I claim, that AI is saying this. I said "in relation to the baseless claims" and referred additionally to AI's statement.

So, neither had I the intention nor do I think that I actually tried to distort the facts as you have claimed. However, thank you for pointing this out, because indeed it is not at all my aim to distort the facts and every correction is most welcome.

While claims of Human Rights abuses in Tibet by the PRC's leadership are not baseless, Claims of Human Rights abuses in India as claimed by KG/NKT/WSS against HHDL are baseless. (At least this is my opinion after investigating this issue.)

In general, that our opinion will be different, is just natural I think. As Andy Brown said already 12 years ago:

"The view from inside the Shugden Supporters Community [NKT] was almost a photographic negative of everything the outside world believes about Tibet and the Dalai Lama...It was a powerful indictment, flawed only by the fact that almost everything I was told in the Lister house was untrue. "

Dorje's picture

Also is the entire volume of rituals collected by the Mongolian Lobsang Tamdin (1867 - 1937) political? He documents the dissemination of the practice in Mongolia and Amdo, and describes him as the Protector of Tsongkhapa, and makes no mention of any of Pabongkha’s rituals, therefore he was not influenced by him. No mention of Phabongkhapa? So how does this address my point that Phabongkhapa politicised this gyalpo worship? I don't get what you're trying to say. As with your other references to other lamas that are not Phabongkhapa, this has no bearing on my point. Phabongkhapa used this protector for political advantage, to strengthen the Gelug hegemony and to persecute non-Gelug schools. And you're talking about what?

Dorje's picture

And I'm asking you to say where Rime differs from other traditions in that it is a synthesis of Buddha's teachings that lead to liberation.

Are you saying that Rime does not lead to liberation? Are you saying that Jamgon Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse weren't enlightened?

If Rime is extreme inclusivism, why isn't Gelug also extreme inclusivism? Why not any other presentation of the Buddha's teachings? These scholars are hung up on ideas of traditions as purely historical. This is fine if you limit a tradition to a Tibetan political entity, but I would suggest a tradition is more than that, a synthesis of the Buddha's teachings that lead to liberation.

So, if you want to go back to the start, you need to define what you mean by tradition.

Lineageholder's picture

Dear TP,

I wonder if you would have had the courage to say that when Gen-la Thubten was still the beloved and powerful successor of GKG

At that time, it wasn't clear that what was being printed in Full Moon was unskilful, but we can see that subsequently it was not a good idea. It was well intentioned but naive.

I say what I think, TP, we're not programmed NKT robots as you would like to portray. If I find fault I will say so. This is the way for the tradition to improve, to recognise what mistakes were made and try to learn from them.

It's a pity you don't have the same opportunity. You have to tow the party line of bowing down to the God-King, the Dalai Lama, whose divine word is law and is the policy of the Tibetan Government in Exile. No-one dare step out of line on your side of the divide, we know what happens to those who do.

GKG is skilful enough to establish himself as a Buddha by indirect means and indirect speech. So its natural that even his most naive followers will soon conclude that he is a Buddha. We have discussed this already elsewhere.

How can you help anyone who is determined to see faults even where there are none? You want to impute deception on everything related to the NKT, don't you TP? I think you proved from your posts yesterday why you will always find fault with the NKT - you're not programmed to do anything else.

emptymountains's picture

Dear SC,

I will wait to see what KP and TP have to say as well before proceeding. I see discussing the other points you bring up as my goal, but we cannot get too far ahead of ourselves without establishing a proper foundation. I only started to participate in this thread when TP opened the door that allowed me to bring it up.

I can understand why Dorje feels that what I am doing now is wasted energy because he does not yet see the connection between what I put forth in #4 (i.e., modereate and extreme exclusivisim and inclusivism) and the 'disparities' both you and he see between Phabongkhapa and GKG's views. Therefore, he doesn't see how I can reconcile them. But at this point, I'm asking that Dorje and others scrutinize my reasoning that got me from #'s 1, 2, and 3 to #4.

SC, in order for you yourself to accept #4 as "a provisional working model," then you must now view eclecticism as the second extreme (with sectarianism being the first). Is this so? Just yesterday, you were saying that sectarianism vs. non-sectarian is a black-or-white, open-and-shut case. Have you since changed your mind?

I don't want you to "jump the gun" on this important point. There's no since in talking about the implications of #4 if you truly do not accept it. That is to say, if you have problems with #4 now, then you will certainly have problems with any conclusions I draw based on it. I may be able to use #4 to show the subtle meaning of Phabongkhapa's supposed sectarianism, but this will be worthless to you if it turns out to be just another "source you cannot accept."

And if it is something you cannot accept, then either you or Dorje should be able to fix #4 to more accurately reflect a Buddhist perspective on non-sectarianism using Buddha's tripartite model. I would love to see what you come up with.

By the way, I regret saying in a previous post that the model of the middle way was Buddha's "invention." This would be like saying he invented emptiness. Rather, this was how Buddha taught us to understand all things so as to not become trapped in black-or-white thinking, which I think has happened in this sectarianism vs. non-sectarianism debate.

P.S. Dorje and SC, please notice that my model does not eliminate the possibility of sectarianism, so I cannot gloss over it. I am fully willing to acknowledge publically that Phabongkhapa was sectarian IF he fits the tripartite model's criteria for it (i.e., exclusivism devoid of inclusivism). Likewise, as it stands now, you would have to be willing to acknowledge that someone like the Dalai Lama has fallen into the other extreme if they fit the tripartite model's criteria for it (i.e., inclusivism devoid of exclusivism). The model I am using will also allow me to explain how not all forms of apparent eclecticism are extreme (e.g., Je Tsongkhapa), which previously most NKTers have not had an adequate answer for, I would say. But all of this is down the road...

Lineageholder's picture

Dear Dorje,

Yes, of course it's everyone's choice what they want to practice, but I'm saying 'what justification is there for practising more than one tradition?'

People can choose to throw themselves off a tall building, of course they have freedom but that doesn't mean that it's a good idea to do so.

Please give me a spiritual justification for why the practice of teachings from different traditions is required to attain enlightenment.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

With respect to Wikipedia, I corrected as good as I could some of the misleading points in the main article on Dorje Shugden:

The problem I see and other see is, that mainly the NKT 'truth team' or editors from NKT work on the articles.

The last spin was to quote from a Russian newspaper which quoted the official PRC news agency, that HHDL would have referred to Shugden as a "Chinese Spirit". The sentence read:

The Dalai Lama sometimes refers to him as a "pro-Chinese demon".[4] -- and this is the source for it:

Everyone with academic 3rd party sources and knowledge can improve the article and the related ones, like that linked by the Tricycle Editor Team

Lineageholder's picture

Dear All Traditions are Rime,

You said:

My point is the fact that NKT is the ONLY Buddhist organization in the Vajrayana tradition (perhaps the only Buddhist tradition at all in the world, I haven’t studied enough to know) that uses the books of only one master as the final authority is dangerous. Why is the NKT approach so exclusive? Why does it buck the trend of the last few centuries of Buddhist practice in looking at a variety of texts in favour of the teachings of only one master?

NKT follows the teachings of many Masters: Buddha Shakyamuni, Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Atisha, Geshe Chekhawa, Geshe Langri Tangpa, Milarepa, Shantideva, Je Tsongkhapa, Guntang Rinpoche, Kelsang Gyatso (the seventh Dalai Lama), Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen, Longdol Lama, Je Pabongkhapa, Trijang Rinpoche and all the other Buddhist masters who have transmitted the teachings and who are quoted in Geshe Kelsang's books.

NKT students do look at a variety of texts because many texts are quoted in Geshe Kelsang's books. If you can show me that these teachers have been misquoted or that the methods taught in Geshe Kelsang's books are not what was taught by these Teachers then there is some basis for disagreement. Otherwise, where is the problem? If Geshe Kelsang's books perfectly transmit all the stages of the path to enlightenment, why is it not possible to attain enlightenment by relying upon these explanations alone?

I've read books by other Teachers in the Gelugpa lineage and none of them have contradicted Geshe Kelsang's books.

I agree that NKT is a unique development of Buddha's teachings in these times. Has any other author compiled all the instructions of Sutra and Tantra that lead to enlightenment before, and presented them in a way that makes them easy to practise? Even the Dalai Lama has not done that.

Let me just ask you: Have never attended any of Geshe Kelsang's teachings? Have you have read his books? If not, then you have no basis to criticize GKG, the teachings or those who follow them. If you say that following the teachings of one person is 'dangerous', please give logical reasons why, not simply 'this hasn't happened before'

You seem to imply that Geshe Kelsang is on some kind of ego trip. If you met the man, you would realize how wrong you are. He doesn't view the teachings as his own. (unlike the way that Robert Thurman portrays all the benefits of Buddha's teachings as being attributable to the Dalai Lama). They are the teachings of the Ganden Oral Lineage, received from his own Teacher Trijang Dorjechang. If you read the preface to Joyful Path of Good Fortune you will see that he says that the teachings do not come from him but from Trijang Rinpoche. Does that sound like an ego trip to you? In contrast, if you check the Dalai Lama's website, you won't find any mention of his lineage or his Teachers. Both Geshe Kelsang and the Dalai Lama share the same root Guru but the Dalai Lama rarely mentions him, except to say that he was 'wrong'.

Who is the one who is showing pride and arrogance?

I doubt very much if even Buddha Shakyamuni would have claimed that the teachings he gave were his - he received them from all his Gurus through countless previous lives. No one owns the teachings, not even Buddha.

namkhah's picture

Okay Dougal. here are excerpts from Wen's Fan diatribe of today:
"Religious apartheid is becoming a reality among the Tibetans in exile. Such events are unprecedented in Tibetan Buddhist history and are completely unacceptable in most countries of this modern world. This forced segregation has no part in the Buddhist way of life or in a democratic society. Falun Gong, I consider as a cultist group, but I have no problem with communicating with any of these individuals. So for the Tibetan exiles especially Dalai Lama who keep insisting the West ways and values are what they want and they value human rights and democracy, then, they would be contradicting themselves by ostracising these Dorje Shugden followers. We in the West have seen such attempts to demonize and marginalize religious groups in the past and have rightly condemned them and resoundingly rejected them. I've see those (YouTube) video clips posted above. They are all video taped this July and August. It's about time that Amnesty International do another investigation of what's going on in the Tibetan exile community in India nowadays.
After all, this laughable 'stick votes' just happened this year........
Also, if you have to keep insisting that I am from China making comments with some kind of propaganda, show me the proof.
If it's merely suspicion, well, I can continue to surmise that you are CIA funded shills, most likely Tibetan exiles, here spewing hatred against China and Chinese."

It is abundantly clear the 'NKT/Shugden issue' has been adopted very fiercely by Chinese ultra-nationalists to serve their own agenda.

Gyalpo Nyi's picture

No Relationship? The UK Charity Commission Confirms the New Kadampa Tradition and the Western Shugden Society are One and the Same.
The NKT, the WSS and Politics
One of the greatest concerns of the NKT is its preservation of the illusion of it being a Buddhist ‘religious’ charity rather than a political movement. For the wider world to perceive the NKT as a political movement, an essential aspect of the group’s actual character (though one not readily talked about at its beginners groups) would be a PR disaster. They, after all teach a form of ‘pure’ Buddhism untarnished by the pollutions of extant forms of the faith, long established ‘traditions’ which, they claim, have ‘degenerated’ into ‘politics’. Hence, the internal rules of the NKT-IKBU state “The New Kadampa Tradition shall always be an entirely independent Buddhist tradition and the NKT-IKBU shall have no political affiliations.”
Kelsang Gyatso himself distanced the NKT from the whole issue of the conflict over Dorje Shugden more than a decade ago when, in a letter to the Washington Times he proclaimed the issue a “Tibetan political problem” and publicly avowed that,
‘…in October 1998 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.”
The corollary of this rhetoric is epitomised by the Western Shugden Society’s allegations against the present Dalai Lama that he (not generations of masters and independent minded Dalai Lamas before him) has polluted Buddhism by ‘politicizing’ it via the issue of Dorje Shugden. The Western Shugden Society book, ‘A Great Deception’ brims with such rhetoric. The group’s website describes its membership as “freeing Buddhism from Political pollution, protecting Shugden practitioners from persecution by the Dalai Lama”.
There is then a definite desire on the part of Kelsang Gyatso and the NKT to keep the two, politics and religion, separate in the minds of newcomers and potential converts; indeed, this distinction is repeatedly emphasized throughout the follower’s encounter with the organization.
And yet, what one gradually ‘learns’ about Buddhism when one encounters the NKT is:
Dalai Lama=politics=pollution of ‘pure’ Buddhism;
Kelsang Gyatso/NKT=’Pure’, non-political Buddhism.
This routinely perpetuated, highly political motif is prominent throughout one’s involvement with the NKT, even in the upper echelons of the organization’s ruling elite. In his letter to NKT centre directors in April 2008 for instance, after elsewhere stating he would personally organize demonstrations against the Dalai Lama as the ‘representative’ of the Western Shugden Society, Gyatso wrote:
It is very possible that The Western Shugden Society will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama. Concerning this issue, we should know five things:
1. The demonstrations will be organised by the Western Shugden Society, not by the NKT.
2. The Western Shugden Society is the unification of all the Western Shugden practitioners, and NKT is a part of this main body.
3. When the main body, The Western Shugden Society, organises demonstrations, the NKT needs to voluntarily contribute and help.
4. There is no basis to break our constitution or internal rules because this is not organised by the NKT.
We should recognise that the NKT is not involved politically, simply supporting The Western Shugden Society with these demonstrations.”
Clearly, the idea that the NKT is an apolitical organization is considered a valuable asset from the NKT’s perspective. This maintenance of the dualistic distinction between politics and religion, between the ‘polluted’ and ‘politicised’ on the one hand and the ‘pure’ and the ‘apolitical’ on the other, provides both the mantra and mindset which drive the NKT’s Shugden devotees in their allegedly ‘apolitical’ war against the Dalai Lama in the material world and in cyberspace.
So how political are the NKT? More importantly, to whom can we ask that question and guarantee a trustworthy response?
Of course, we could ask the NKT. But we already know that the NKT could never possibly be a political organization from their own perspective; the internal rules of the group state,” the NKT-IKBU shall have no political affiliations.” And if that’s what the NKT rules say, then it must be true.
Gyatso explicitly disassociates the NKT from political activity above when he states that because the WSS and not the NKT were organizing demonstrations, the NKT’s internal rules on political affiliation were therefore not being breached. ‘The NKT is not involved ‘politically’, claimed Gyatso, it was simply ‘supporting’ the activities of the Western Shugden Society.
So, from Gyatso’s perspective, the NKT has no involvement with the Shugden Society, they are just their ‘supporters’. The NKT ‘party line’ answer to our question then, is that the two, the NKT and the WSS, are distinct entities.
Critics of the NKT/WSS
We have already seen that the NKT’s critics consider this distinction to be a false one. They point to the fact that, before the demonstrations against the Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso declared, “As the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly”.
Similarly, critics point to the fact that the WSS Press speaker during the 2008 anti Dalai Lama campaign was Kelsang Pema (Helen Gradwell), personal assistant to Kelsang Gyatso for 8 years. Again, in the US, the frontman and leader of WSS demos was Kelsang Khyenrab, then Deputy Spiritual Director of the NKT, second only to Gyatso. The frontwoman and leader of the same WSS demos was Kelsang Dekyong, then National Spiritual Director of NKT USA, now General Spiritual Director of the whole organization. In Germany, the WSS frontman and leader of demonstrations was Kelsang Ananda, National Spiritual Director of NKT Germany. Finally, the leader of WSS demos in Australia was Kelsang Rabten, National Spiritual Director of NKT Australia and New Zealand. On each occasion, the vociferous demonstrators were overwhelmingly members of the NKT.
So one for, one against. The NKT say they are not political and that they only ‘support’ the activities of the WSS, and their opponents say they are political because the NKT are the WSS, simply pretending not to be the NKT so as not to become tarred by the brush of ‘politically polluted religion’ . Remember, according to the NKT, that’s where the Tibetans got it wrong and where the NKT get it right; the NKT definitely does not perpetuate the fault of mixing politics with religion.
Inform: Neutral Advice?
Perhaps a third more neutral party such as the Home Office financed ‘Inform’ might be able to provide a more academic opinion on whether the NKT is the same as the WSS and whether it engages in political activity or not. Inform, according to its aims, provides accurate, balanced, up-to-date information about new and/or alternative religious or spiritual movements. These are the people government departments talk to when they want information on established religious groups and New Religious Movements. Notably, in 2008, they received more enquiries about the NKT than any other controversial British New Religious Movement.
The standard letter Inform issue when contacted about the NKT confirms that “the NKT-IKBU stresses that it is an independent organisation with no official political position or formal association with the Western Shugden Society.” The file Inform hold on the NKT lists the WSS as an ‘associated organization’ because of the “substantial demonstrable connections between the two,” and what an Inform spokesperson described as “the visible overlap of the membership base and spokespersons of both groups “. New Religious Movements often set up legally independent charities and companies in which their members are encouraged actively to become involved, Sun Yung Moon’s Unification Church providing numerous examples of such practice.
So, it would appear that the ‘neutral’ position is that the NKT and the WSS are ‘associated’, the former having set up the latter and then encouraged its followers to become members.
However, one must ask how ‘neutral’ this information actually is. As mentioned above, 2008 saw Inform receiving more enquiries about the NKT than any other NRM. In response to the ever-growing concern about the organization, Inform decided to produce a leaflet on the NKT charting its history and some, though not all, of the controversies surrounding it. As academics involved in the study of New Religious Movements, Inform have always provided the organizations they comment on with draft copies of anything they write about them so that the organization has chance to comment before publication. But when Inform provided the NKT with what they intended to write, the NKT responded, characteristically, by threatening legal action.
This means that Inform cannot even tell the Home Office, the government office that finances it, exactly what it knows about the organization because the NKT has prevented it from doing so, indeed it has prevented Inform from presenting the full extent of its information to all government bodies or to the public via its increasingly ubiquitous threat of litigation. From this perspective, it would seem that NKT has even more power than the UK Government itself.
Therefore, we cannot be sure that Inform’s stance is a neutral one, not because of inadequacies or biases on the part of Inform’s academic staff, but rather because their responses must always be considered against the knowledge that the threat of NKT legal retribution hangs, like the sword of Damocles, over everything they might dare to say or print. From this perspective, it would seem that NKT has even more power than the UK Government itself
At least the author Gary Beesley, can take some solace from this. The widespread response from the NKT web-police after he was forced to withdraw his book on the NKT, ‘A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace’, from circulation was that the legal suppression of his work was due to its being filled with libellous falsehoods. However, it is quite clear that the suppression of ANY information that does not concur with their version of truth has become routine practice for the NKT, whether it is false or true. The 19th century German philosopher Schopenhauer observed that all truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, secondly, it is violently suppressed and then thirdly, it is accepted by all as self-evident. If such is the case, the NKT’s suppression of Beesley’s work has already set in motion a process which will ultimately lead to widespread acceptance of its content.
The UK Charity Commission
Another important body that has had a long relationship with the NKT is the UK Charity Commission. Like Inform, one of the fundamental tenets of the Charity Commission is neutrality. Unlike Inform, the NKT have a vested interest in maintaining a healthy relationship with the Commission since their charitable status as the registered charity ‘NKT-IKBU’ brings significant benefits, both in terms of funding and tax exemption.
After the demonstrations of 2008, a number of individuals wrote to the Commission to express their concerns about the NKT-IKBU’s infrastructure, assets and membership being utilised in the WSS’s highly political anti Dalai Lama campaign. Generally speaking, charities are advised not to engage directly in political activity. In a recent report on the activities of the League Against Cruel Sports, for instance, Andrew Hind, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said:
“Charities must guard their independence very carefully, which means not engaging in any party political activity or leaving the charity open to the perception that they may be.” Critics of the NKT would certainly suggest that the NKT, in the guise of the WSS, was engaged in just such activity.
However, the Commission rejected this complaint stating:
“Our view, is that the charity is undertaking campaigning rather than political activity, (a view) based on the distinct definitions of these terms, derived from charity law. Political activity involves trying to secure support or oppose a change in the law or in the policy or decisions of a central government, local authority, or other public body whether in this country or abroad. Campaigning is about mobilising support and raising awareness about an issue, whether in the public domain generally or particularly among stakeholders or governments, or both.
In this case, the charity is campaigning against an edict or a resolution (I refer However, we do not think that this is a political campaign or political activity because the edict has not been pronounced by a functioning government or political leader. Neither is the edict capable of being legally enforced. Clearly, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile do pass resolutions, decisions and edicts which are followed by their supporters. However, these do not become laws or policies in Tibet, India or any other country, and their supporters have the choice of whether to comply or not.”
In other words, the campaign against the Dalai Lama is not a political one because the Dalai Lama is not a political leader and his edicts are not legally enforceable.
Supporters of the Dalai Lama’s position on the Shugden issue can be forgiven for perhaps perceiving this somewhat characteristically evasive and insipid response something of a disappointment. To suggest that the Dalai Lama is not a political leader simply because he is not currently the head of state or that his actions are not political simply because his edicts are not legally enforceable seems a very convenient way for the Charity Commission to, once again, refrain from acting when action is urgently needed. Even the NKT would disagree with them on both issues. After all, their central argument is that the Dalai Lama is a political figure and his edicts on Shugden are being enforced within the exiled Tibetan community.
Significantly more noteworthy however, is the repeated use of the phrase “the charity is …campaigning”. To whom exactly do the Commission refer when they speak of ‘the charity’ campaigning against the Dalai Lama’s edicts? Certainly, it is not the Western Shugden Society; the WSS have, at least until now, not registered as a UK charity. Moreover, the complaints that the Charity Commission received were not made against the WSS but rather, against the NKT-IKBU itself.
Thus, when the Commission refer to the non-political ‘campaigning’ activities of ‘the charity’, the charity are referring directly to the NKT. From the perspective of UK Charity Commission, the demonstrations against the Dalai Lama that were carried out in the deliberate guise of the WSS were in fact, the activity of registered charity 101504, the New Kadampa Tradition-International Kadampa Buddhist Union.
The Charity Commission’s response continues:
“…it would appear the charity believes its involvement in the issue to be political. We will therefore write to the trustees to explain the legal position that applies to charities taking part in political activity and campaigning, and the duties and responsibilities that must be complied with. As mentioned above, the reason for being involved in the campaign must be related to the charity’s purposes and trustees must be able to justify the resources applied….Our advice will also include trustees considering the methods used to campaign, such as taking part in demonstrations or associating with another organisation(s).”
This then, further confirms that it is the NKT-IKBU to which the Commission refer in their response. In fact, several phrases in the passage raise some very interesting questions. For instance, if “the charity believes its involvement in the issue to be political.” why does “the charity” publicly deny that it engages in any form of political activity? Again, why do the Commission believe the NKT-IKBU considers its “involvement in the issue to be political.”? Is it because they have consistently denied any association between their own activities and those of the WSS? Is such apparently deceptive behaviour acceptable for a charity in the eyes of the Commission?
According to the Commission’s response to the complaint that the NKT IKBU charity has bee engaging in political activities, charities can undertake such campaigning activity, “as long as they are only undertaken in the context of supporting the delivery of the charity’s purposes or aims, in this case the Dalai Lama’s edict against Shugden propitiation”.
The Charity Commission website states that the aims and purpose of the NKT-IKBU are the “Public promotion of Kadampa Buddhism throughout the world, by supporting the development of Kadampa Buddhist centres throughout the world, by publishing and distributing book on Kadampa Buddhism and training teachers in the same, and finally the maintenance of a year-round programme of Buddhist teachings and meditation at the charity’s home premises.”
Where in this statement of aims and purposes, does the NKT IKBU refer to its ‘religious freedom’ campaigns against the Dalai Lama? Is it not the case that, despite the fact that this has very clearly been one of the NKT IKBU’s most prominent activities of recent, such activities do not appear to link to any of the stated aims or purposes, either explicitly or indeed, implicitly? Why is it that the NKT-IKBU’s significant involvement in these activities is not made clear in the statement aims and purposes?
Surely, if this campaigning has become a significant aspect of the NKT-IKBU’s activities, this should be made clear in its statement of aims and purposes? If not, how are the general public or indeed non-governmental bodies such as English Heritage and the National Lottery to know whether they are contributing to a cause, the aims of which they agree with? Is this perhaps why the NKT have been so keen to hide the fact that, though they and the WSS are nominally distinct, they are in fact the same entity?
After the 2008 demonstrations by the NKT/WSS the Administrative Director of Kadampa Meditation Centre, Florida resigned, declaring:
“Since the beginning of our involvement with the NKT we have been repeatedly told that the NKT was not involved in politics. Now that the NKT has opened up with its political position and begun demonstrating I can no longer be a part of the organization. This complete lack of honesty about the NKT’s involvement in Tibetan politics is the reason for my departure.”
If more people were aware of this total dishonesty over the NKT’s thoroughly political nature, how long would it be before it was no longer one of the largest and fastest growing New Buddhist Movements in the West? How long would it be before the mortgage payments could no longer be met and its burgeoning property empire began to collapse inwards, like the proverbial sand castle slipping back into the sea?

Tom's picture

By funding protests around the world using charitable donations, and then lie about it by saying it is not him but the Western Shugden Society even though he directed his faithful Pema to organize these protests, by negating Buddha's teachings in the way he conducts his brand of Buddhism, by his exclusion of classic Buddhist texts from his enterprise, and by his painting Buddhism so negatively for the press and its is Kelsang Gyatso who is disparaging and abandoning the holy Dharma.

All anyone has to do experience this tragedy is attempt to discuss these matters with any 'leader' in NKT and read NKT's political web sites and blog posts.

Sure, much of what is in Kelsang Gyatso's selections of Buddhism in his proprietary books is appealing. But, why do NKTites find it so difficult to exemplify what little from Buddhism Kelsang Gyatso (ie, his ghost writers) chooses to write about?

Yea, yea...we know. Lineageholder and other NKTites will say protesting, yelling, raising arms, disrupting, painting negative images of Buddhism, threatening litigation, ridiculing its 'ordained' and members who leave NKT, and mounting its monumental PR attack machine are all compassionate acts inspired by their private Buddha, Kelsang Gyatso (whose failing to protect many inside NKT from almost thematic abuse is somehow reinvented as some sort of profound teaching).

NKT, if nothing else, please adhere at least to the selections of Buddhism that are represented in 'Kelsang Gyatso's' books. This would be so very helpful to help make the world a better place for all of us to access our inevitable Bodhisattva potential.

Lineageholder's picture


The AI statement simply says that the claims of human rights abuses are not within its remit, not that there aren't any.

None of the material AI has received contains evidence of abuses which fall within AI's mandate for action -- such as grave violations of fundamental human rights including torture, the death penalty, extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detention or imprisonment, or unfair trials.

Read the words as they were intended to be read because you're trying to distort the facts. Claims of human rights abuses by the Dalai Lama's cronies are not baseless.

Dorje's picture

That’s funny, you claim Phabongkha recognized one shouldn’t take refuge in Shugden, but at the same time you adhere to an apocryphal letter in response from Pabongkha that apologizes to the 13th DL for taking refuge. Also you probably can’t explain why in 1921 the 13th DL’s biography mentions Shugden as ‘jam mgon bstan srung pa and the subsequent restoration of the Potala and Ganden stupas. Was that political? Also you probably can’t explain the Shugden Cham in Kham performed in 1924 and public oracle invocation in 1928 if the 13th DL truly banned the practice.Hey, I'm just agreeing with Geshe Kalsang Gyatso who said
Although Je Phabongkhapa’s view is that Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being, the 13th Dalai Lama, using his political power, did not allow Je Phabongkhapa to publicize this view, so he had to accept the lower position of Dorje Shugden. Therefore, at that time Gelugpa practitioners lost their freedom to say publicly that Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being. To the majority of ordinary Tibetans Dorje Shugden appeared as a worldly spirit.
According to Geshe-la, it was only the 5th, 13th and now the 14th Dalai Lamas that ever said this fully enlightened Protector was in any way a worldly spirit.

You use the point Phabongkhapa makes saying that it is okay to take refuge in worldly protectors if you believe them to be enlightened as a restriction from taking refuge in worldly spirits. Actually the reverse is true and Phabongkhapa's exception is really a licence for people to take refuge in any kind of worldly protector just because they claim they are the emanation of some deity or other.

This is really pernicious and leads to the degeneration of the Dharma. We now have thousands of western people taking refuge in a worldly spirit claiming that it is a Buddha. When the Dalai Lama says it is inappropriate to take refuge in worldly spirits they shout him down, calling him a liar. This shows the kali yuga is fast approaching when people dressed as the monastic sangha whilst holding nothing more than upasika vows shout at a fully ordained gelong for criticising taking refuge in worldly spirits.

emptymountains's picture

Dear Dorje,

I am quoting sources normally acceptable to you (e.g., Dreyfus, Kay, the Dalai Lama, other Rime Teachers, etc.) who say that Rime is an eclectic approach and not a separate tradition. Why are you are blaming me for what your 'side' is saying?

I'll repeat my last request: Perhaps you can recommend to me a book that presents Rime as a tradition and not just an approach to the established Tibetan traditions. I was going to get Ringu Tulku's book The Ri-Me Philosophy of Jamgon Kongtrul the Great, but if he's got it all wrong...?

Your attempts to reject Rime as eclecticism whilst saying that eclecticism is an extreme sounds an awful lot like sectarian bigotry to me.

We are back to where we started: If sectarianism is one extreme, and eclecticism is the middle way, then what is the second extreme called? David Kay calls Rime "radical inclusivism." Might he have meant extreme inclusivism?


Tenzin Peljor's picture

yes GKG does not say he would be the 3rd Buddha, only his successor said this, the 'first fully qualified Western Tantric master', Gen-la Thubten, whom you seem to portray now as belonging to "a bunch of over-enthusiastic and unskillful students of Geshe Kelsang", I wonder if you would have had the courage to say that when Gen-la Thubten was still the beloved and powerful successor of GKG.

GKG is skilful enough to establish himself as a Buddha by indirect means and indirect speech. So its natural that even his most naive followers will soon conclude that he is a Buddha. We have discussed this already elsewhere.

SeekingClarity's picture

em, Dorje

Re #1140 and #1143
em, Re #1143, I'm happy to accept your point 4 as a provisional working model and for you to set your case.

A few remarks regarding #1140. It is clear that Pabongka's stated position on other traditions differs massively from that of GKG (Avichi Hell v complete paths). Now given that many in the NKT regard GKG as unmistaken and GKG regards Pabongka as unmistaken, from the point of view of the NKT, we have, on the face of it, a pretty glaring disparity - two unmistaken individuals seemingly saying mutually exclusive things.

LH's initial attempts to resolve this were (1) Pabongka didn't mean it and (2) if he did mean it, it doesn't matter becauase what he says isn't important. It seems to me that neither of these will remotely do. Clearly he did mean it and clearly one can't on the one hand flag up the great importance of lineage and then claim that what lineage holders say is unimportant. And I don't see that the NKT has come up with anything that resolves this seeming disparity either.

One way of resolving it is to claim that GKG holds the same view as Pabongka and is just putting a gloss on things to make the NKT more palatable to Western students. This appears to be Dorje's suspicion. He suggests that as GKG has said some pretty disinegenuous things re DS (on the Yellow Book, Dhongthog and Morchen for example), how do we know he's not being disingenuous about other traditions?

Personally, I think GKG is being genuine about other traditions. But if he is, then it seems to me that there is burning need for him/the NKT to explain how they view Pabongka's remarks.

Dorje's picture

Although many different names have been given-
Great Perfection (Dzogchen), Great Seal (Mahamudra) and Great Madhyamaka,
Path and Fruit, Object of Cutting, and Pacification -
When they are investigated by a Yogin
Who has cultivated them experientially,
He arrives at just one intention.

- Panchen Lobsang Chokyi Gyaltsen

The various doctrinal views found in the provinces of U, Tsang and Ngari
Are all the very teaching of the Victorious One.
How fine if, not allowing the demon of sectarianism to ignite animosity,
The radiance of the jewel of pure perception would encompass all.

- Panchen Lobsang Yeshe

Rodney Billman's picture

Correction to previous post, that would be page 322.

All Traditions are Rime's picture

Ummmm... Are you forgetting the Third Council? Learn some history.

dougal's picture

namkahahah -

an interesting, if somewhat bonkers claim. i checked the article you link to here, as well as the source article it's taken from, and found no reference to either Shugden (nor even the Dalai Lama) whatsoever.

you have some evidence for this statement: "Shugden is a main cause célèbre for Chinese ‘Astroturfers’", or are you just making sh*t up?

Freedom's picture

NKT was very successful in the past to stop publications or to delete discussion threads by threatening to sue persons or groups. Among these are:

- Beliefnet and other discussion forums,
- Dr. Reiss (researcher),
- Inform (research group).
- Recently they have also threatened to sue the Network of Buddhist Organisations in UK (NBO).

Also NKT members write to Yahoo, Flickr, Wordpress and other web platforms to delete or to remove blogs and discussion groups. So far to NKT's oppression of freedom of speech or religious freedom.

They were not successful in all cases to repress critical information but in some they were successful—not to speak of the NKT editor team on Wikipedia.....

Lineageholder's picture


Geshe Kelsang is not praising his books, he's praising Buddha's teachings which are wisdom and more meaningful than normal mundane learning because only Buddha's teachings lead to liberation and enlightenment whereas mundane learning leads to more and more samsaric problems.

It is not good to disparage the holy Dharma as this is an action similar to abandoning Dharma.

T.P.'s picture

In relation to the baseless claims of NKT/KG/SSC/WSS of human rights violations, the AI statement from 1998 can be found here:

It is worthwhile to watch the real existing human rights violations in Tibet, e.g. this undercover Video from last year:

Also this video about the Yogis of Tibet may be helpful to put things in perspective, who are preserving the Buddhadharma:

Rodney Billman's picture

Shugden is referred to as rgyal po chen po and rgyal chen where the second is shortened for the first. I've never seen Pehar referred to as rgyal chen only as rgyal po. I've never seen rgyal po chen po mean great rgyal po spirit, only great king (see nitartha dictionary). Moreover, Sachen Kunga Lodro coined the term rgyal chen rigs lnga, or five families of the great king which of course is meant in terms of the five buddha families (rigs lnga).

Dorje's picture

I personally don’t believe that Dorje Shugden is in the aspect of a worldly spirit
Then you are in disagreement with your lineage lamas.

if you deny that Buddha can emanate as a worldly spirit, you’re indirectly denying that Buddha can benefit all living beings. Buddha can appear in any form to benefit others, as an evil person, a handicapped person, or even as an insane person if that benefits living beings. Therefore, of course Buddha can emanate as a worldly spirit. I'm not denying that they can, but if you look at Tibetan culture it seems they were doing it an awful lot. I find it much more believable that zealous followers of this or that worldly spirit, over time, decided to promote their favourite spirit to enlightened status to boost their own position, just as Sachen Kunga Lodro seems to have done, using any obscure old text as justification.
Buddhists don’t have any worldly aims
Ah, Nyingje. You're so naive.
Dorje Shugden doesn’t have any political aims.Ah, Nyingje. You're so naive.

Tenzin Peljor's picture

Yes to meditate on the inseparability of oneself, guru and deity is HYT practice. For a pre-HYT practice one could imagine the guru dissolves into light and the light is blessing one's mental continuum.

emptymountains's picture

Dear Dorje,

A lot of this thread has been disagreeing about what Teachers or scholars are acceptable to everyone involved in the debate. There have been a lot of vain attempts by both sides to convince the other about what sources can or cannot be used to support one's position. I am trying to circumvent all of that by using the two truths of the middle way between extremes as a framework, which as Buddhists, we ALL can agree on.

We have to have a starting place before we can go into all the things you repeated in your last two posts. Otherwise, we are talking past each other. I am open to constructive criticism of what I said in post #1139. To begin, is my understanding that all Buddhist teachings can be explained on the model of the middle way incorrect? Is my understanding that the middle way always has two aspects (each countering one of the two extremes) incorrect? Is my understanding that everything and anything can be taken to an extreme (even non-attachment and emptiness)?

As a result of the above questions, do you disagree with how I presented examples 1, 2, and 3 in that post? If you agree with the first three examples but only have a problem with #4, maybe you can suggest a re-wording? For example, if you think that sectarianism/exclusivism is one extreme, and that eclecticism is the middle way, then there is still the question of what is the *other* extreme...?

You will also have to show how eclecticism as the middle way has two aspects, one countering one extreme and the other countering the other extreme, respectively. I have shown how moderate exclusivism and moderate inclusivism are the two aspects of the middle way between sectarianism and eclecticism, and I challenge you to come up with something as comprehensive as this.

Again, I can only answer your other points if we can agree on a common frame of reference. Everything you ask about can be answered with reference to #4, but I cannot rely on using that in our discussions if you can show there are internal inconsistencies in it (e.g., that in fact #4 does *not* correctly parallel #'s 1, 2, and 3).

P.S. In response to your post #1140, by implication you are saying that because Lama Yeshe practiced the Geglupa tradition exclusively, he had a hidden hostility towards other traditions. Can I assume, then, that you have a problem with David Kay's theoretical model which says that someone can be both exclusive and inclusive at the same time (or are those two terms mutually exclusive? --pun intended!).


Dorje's picture

"They are harming themselves and others. They harm themselves through confusing their spiritual path. What will they do if they receive two contradictory spiritual instructions?"

Nonsense. The various tenets of the four schools of Tibetan buddhism are all similar enough not to confuse anybody. The differences that do exist are easy enough to understand with a little bit of study and understanding. In any case, even if someone is of particularly low intelligence to get confused, is this any reason to kill them?

"Furthermore, they are harming their tradition and others by implicitly giving the message that the Gelugpa tradition is not a complete and practical path to enlightenment in itself."

Nonsense. Many Kagyupas practice Nyingma teachings, for example. Nobody thinks that this means that Kagyu tradition not a complete and practical path to enlightenment in itself. People are free to practice from whatever tradition they see fit. This should never be a problem and definitely not a reason for harming, killing, depriving of wealth and ruining future births. Absolutely absurd.

"My question would be: if a tradition contains all the instructions needed to attain enlightenment, why would it be necessary to seek instructions from other traditions? Isn’t that actually a lack of faith and wisdom? The way to attain realizations is to practise a small number of instructions deeply rather than being discontented and seeking new teachings all the time."

People can choose to practice from whatever tradition they feel connected to. If they what Kagyu, then Gelug and then Nyingma practice, this is up to them and certainly not for a novice like you to judge. Your position does nothing but show your ignorance of how the Buddhadharma all leads to one result. That you should use this as a justification for killing sentient beings is shameful.

"I really don’t see why it’s necessary to receive teachings from other traditions when you’ve decided to practice within one. If you haven’t decided, sure, shop around, but sooner or later you’ve got to make your choice, decide on one and get on with getting enlightened"

BS spoken by a novice with no understanding outside his own narrow tradition. LH, you really don't have to see anything. What traditions others choose to practice is not up to you. That you say their choice that you fail to understand is a good enough reason for them to be killed is deeply regretable, especially as it is supposed to be coming from a Buddhist.

As the great non-sectarian Gelugpa -Nyingmapa yogi, Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol once sang

"In the snow ranges of Tibet,
Owing to the kindness of sublime beings of the past,
Many profound teachings were taught.

These days most practitioners
Hold the various teachings to be contradictory
Like heat and cold.
They praise some teachings and disparage others.

Some holy beings have said that
Madhyamika, Mahamudra and Mahasandhi
Are like sugar, molasses and honey:
One is as good as the other.
For this reason, I have listened to
And reflected on all of them without partiality.

Sectarian practitioners with aversion and attachment,
Please don't reprimand me.

When the immaculate white snow mountain
Of Madhayamika, Mahamudra and Mahasandhi
Is bathed in the sunlight of pure perception,
The stream of blessings will certainly flow."

Rodney Billman's picture

From Sakya Throne Holder Kunga Lodro's autobiography, Lamdre Lobshe series, volume 6 page 222:

"From the Nyingma tantra Rin chen sna bdun: Dolgyal, Dolgyal he who is thus called is by nature undeceiving, because he is the Great Compassionate One himself."

dougal's picture

the biggest schism ever seen in Lord Buddha's Sangha caused by the one man most people see as the most high-profile example of Buddhism?


namkhah's picture

Shugden is a main cause célèbre for Chinese 'Astroturfers', see below:

SOURCE: Far Eastern Economic Review article by David Bandurski of Hong Kong University's China Media Project.

They have been called the 'Fifty Cent Party' the 'red vests' and the 'red vanguard'. But China's growing armies of Web commentators - instigated, trained and financed by party organizations - have just one mission: to safeguard the interests of the Communist Party by infiltrating and policing a rapidly growing Chinese Internet. They set out to neutralize undesirable public opinion by pushing pro-Party views through chat rooms and Web forums, reporting dangerous content to authorities.

By some estimates, these commentary teams now comprise as many as 280,000 members nationwide, and they show just how serious China's leaders are about the political challenges posed by the Web. More importantly, they offer tangible clues about China's next generation of information controls - what President Hu Jintao last month called 'a new pattern of public-opinion guidance.'

bolox's picture

How widely recognised is it that the nkt and the wss are in fact the same organisation ?

Ron's picture

I recently watched a video on YouTube of Kelsang Gyatso praising French NKT zealots working at distributing His vanity press books as meritorious and more meaningful than normal mundane learning: the implication clearly is that 'my' books are wisdom. This is comically self-serving, and borders on pathological narcissism.
Are these books ghost written? It certainly seems so as Gyatso command of english is poor. Here is another supposed example of Gyatso's written work, here threatening litigation against Wesley Pruden, Editor of The Washington Times: "We have two possibilities:
1. You can publicly apologize and withdraw your false statements and accusations and print an article which must be based on my above letter on the front page of your newspaper with a similar impact to the article entitled Dalai Lama faced with death threats (23rd November 2002) -- the article which contained false information. In this way your readers will receive a balanced interpretation of this situation and it will show clearly that you have considered and presented both sides equally.
2. If you do not accept to publicly apologize and withdraw your false statements and accusations, and to print an article based on my letter as detailed in point (1), then I have no choice but to engage in legal action."
Dated Nov. 25, 2002 - LOS ANGELES, Calif. Source:

T.P.'s picture

In Kelsang Gyatso's own words:

“The way to progress through and complete the fourteen grounds of Highest Yoga Tantra is gradually to practice and complete the practices of the two stages - generation stage and completion stage. These days many people talk about Tantra, but there are few who teach the two stages. There are even teachers who never mention the two stages and yet claim to be teaching something even higher than Highest Yoga Tantra! I wonder what sort of Buddhahood these so-called Tantric Masters attain? It must be a very deluded kind of Buddhahood! Rather than following these ‘modern Buddhas’, we would do much better to emulate the great Yogis of the past, such as the eigthy-four Mahasiddhas and especially the highly renowned Nagarjuna.

There are predictions that as times become more impure people will become increasingly attracted to false Dharma and begin to show contempt for pure Dharma. False Dharma will flourish widely and it will become more and more difficult to meet pure Dharma. Since these predictions seem to be coming true, we are extremely fourtunate to have met the pure and authentic teachings of Je Tsongkhapa.”

(KG, p.54-5, Tantric Grounds and Path, 1994)

»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«

(made by KG on Google Groups)

"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.

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."

(made by KG in his "Ordination Talk" 1999)

Mahamudra Claim by his successor Gen Thubten:

"And we can say these days, previously you could find the practice of the Mahamudra outside this Tradition; other Traditions held this practice. But these days we can say definitely it doesn’t exist outside of our Tradition. Only this Tradition holds the lineage, the pure lineage, of the Vajrayana Mahamudra. So this is what we need to preserve, this is what we need to protect. "

(see Gen Thubten's speech embedded in this Powerpoint file)

Third Buddha Claim by by his successor Gen Thubten:

"[Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is the] third Buddha, because he has restored the essential purity of Buddha's doctrine and shown how to practice it in extremely impure times."

(NKT magazine Full Moon, Spring 1995)

In reply on the Third Buddha Claim, which was also reported by The Guardian in 1996 and in other media, KG said:

“People who are thinking Geshe Kelsang is the Third Buddha is not bad. Maybe they think like this because their pure mind. Because they are happy with me and there is some benefit from spiritual, you know. So maybe they think oh maybe he Buddha. That is nothing wrong [laughs].” ~ K.Gyatso

(see the already mentioned and linked BBC Documantary "An Unholy Row")

On totally Reliance and following only NKT:

“Experience shows that realizations come from deep, unchanging faith, and that this faith comes as a result of following one tradition purely - relying upon one Teacher, practising only his teachings, and following his Dharma Protector. If we mix traditions many obstacles arise and it takes a long time for us to attain realizations.”

Kelsang Gyatso: Great Treasury of Merit: A Commentary to the Practice of Offering to the Spiritual Guide, 1992, p 31

About "faith":

"unwavering faith and confidence" and "it is essential to eliminate those doubts that interfere with the development of pure faith."[18] Faith he explains is "a naturally virtuous mind that functions mainly to oppose the perception of faults in its observed object."[19] "In particular, our ability to rely completely upon our spiritual guide depends upon having faith based on conviction that our spiritual guide is a buddha."[20] and "We should be like a wise blind person who relies totally upon one trusted guide instead of attempting to follow a number of people at once."[21]

[18] Kelsang Gyatso: Understanding the Mind, 1993, p 75
[19] Kelsang Gyatso: Joyful Path of Good Fortune, 1990, p 107
[20] Kelsang Gyatso: Joyful Path of Good Fortune, 1990, p 106
[21] Kelsang Gyatso: Guide to Dakini Land: The Highest Yoga Tantra Practice of Buddha Vajrayogini, 1996: p 18

Regarding sectarianism:

"It is mixing different religious traditions that causes sectarianism"[22] , and he discourages the reader of doing so, stating "studying non-religious subjects is less of an obstacle to our spiritual progress than studying religions of different traditions."[22] "The practices taught by one teacher will differ from those taught by another, and if we try to combine them we will become confused, develop doubts, and lose direction."[23] “The ugly, unfortunate result of not understanding pure Dharma and of following misleading teachings that pretend to be pure Dharma is sectarianism. This is one of the greatest hindrances to the flourishing of Dharma, especially in the West. Anything that gives rise to such an evil, destructive mind should be eliminated as quickly and as thoroughly as possible."[24]

[22] Kelsang Gyatso, Understanding the Mind, 1993, p 167
[23] Kelsang Gyatso, Understanding the Mind, 1993, p 166
[24] Kelsang, Clear Light of Bliss, 1982, p 154

"The NKT is a Western Buddhist community which is completely independent from Shugden groups in India, Nepal and other countries; we have absolutely no political affiliations. We are not against the Dalai Lama personally and never have been but we previously simply requested him to stop his ban of Dorje Shugden worship; this was a request for the basic human right of religious freedom. At the same time we also publicly clarified what is the true nature and function of this popular Buddhist deity. However in October 1998 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."


Nov. 25, 2002

Core Teaching of WSS about HHDL (very likely written by KG):

"At that time, the Tso Kha Chusum (“Thirteen Groups of Tibetans) were against your plan and because of this for many years the Tibetan community lost their harmony and peace. Finally, the leader of the Tso Kha Chusum, Gungthang Tsultrim, was murdered by a shotgun. Tibetan people believe that Gungthang Tsultrim was killed by people working for you. Later, some other important members of the Tso Kha Chusum suddenly died, and people believed your organizations created the conditions for their death. It is said that you have a secret organization in New Delhi, led by your brother whose function is to destroy or kill anyone who opposes your plan.

According to some sources, you were born in a Muslim family. When you were a child who did not know anything, some ignorant Tibetans acting as representatives of the Tibetan Government chose that boy as the reincarnation of the Tibetan Dalai Lama. Since that time, that boy wore saffron robes, and the local people jokingly nicknamed you as ´The Saffron Robed Muslim´. In this way, you received the position of the Tibetan Dalai Lama. Because of this, many people now keep your photograph on their shrines and worship you.

You have received a higher education in Buddhism from your kind teacher Trijang Rinpoche. However, the sad situation is that after you arrived to India your behaviour changed. You were continually against the intention of your Root Guru, Trijang Rinpoche, who is the lineage holder of Je Tsonghapa´s doctrine. You strived strongly to destroy Trijang Rinpoche´s spiritual tradition, which is the pure tradition of Je Tsongkhapa´s doctrine.

Since 1996, you have regarded Trijang Rinpoche´s followers as your enemies and you are now giving orders to the ordinary people and monasteries to expel them from their society. Following your views and your orders, many people believe that Trijang Rinpoche´s followers who practise Dorje Shugden are their enemies.

In both India and Tibet, many Shugden temples, shrines, statues, paintings and texts have been unlawfully destroyed, and many monks have been expelled from their monasteries. Following your orders, the authorities of the monasteries are continually making efforts to expel the monks who have devotion for Trijang Rinpoche and who practise Dorje Shugden. In this way, you have caused millions of people great suffering and sorrow.

All these horrible situations have developed through the power of your evil actions. This is our valid evidence to prove that you are not Buddhist. Because of this, we also believe that you are the saffron robed Muslim.

Throughout your life you have pretended to be a Buddhist holy being giving Buddhist teachings that you have stolen from Trijang Rinpoche. By doing this, you have cheated people throughout the world. In summary, it is clear that your real nature is cruel and very evil."

(See Anti CNN and official WSS website)

Rodney Billman's picture

"Phabongkhapa used this gyalpo spirit as a political tool before the Dalai Lama was even born."

Tell me at exact what time he became a political tool. I'm seeing that the Fifth Panchen Tenpa'i Wangchug (1854/1855 - 1882) died long before Pabongkha was of ripe age, yet he is mentioned in the yellow book. I'm also seeing that these other people mentioned in the yellow book all seem to have a personal connection with the Shugden oracle and repeatedly ignored his warnings. So, whose to blame Shugden or Pabongkha?

"The 13th Dalai Lama tried to stop him, but in the end Phabongkhapa managed to make this political practice widespread in the Gelug tradition."

That's funny, you claim Phabongkha recognized one shouldn't take refuge in Shugden, but at the same time you adhere to an apocryphal letter in response from Pabongkha that apologizes to the 13th DL for taking refuge. Also you probably can't explain why in 1921 the 13th DL's biography mentions Shugden as 'jam mgon bstan srung pa and the subsequent restoration of the Potala and Ganden stupas. Was that political? Also you probably can't explain the Shugden Cham in Kham performed in 1924 and public oracle invocation in 1928 if the 13th DL truly banned the practice.

Also is the entire volume of rituals collected by the Mongolian Lobsang Tamdin (1867 - 1937) political? He documents the dissemination of the practice in Mongolia and Amdo, and describes him as the Protector of Tsongkhapa, and makes no mention of any of Pabongkha's rituals, therefore he was not influenced by him. Not only that he writes about the Shugden initiation that started from the Eighth Kirti reincarnation of Amdo Rongchen Kirti Lobsang Trinley (1849-1904), who describes Shugden as the Protector of Tsongkhapa. Unlike your claim about the 13th DL banning Shugden this can be verified in original sources.

So without knowing the history that well how can one make these sweeping generalizations?

Dorje's picture

"Let me see if I got this straight."

The propitiation of a gyalpo spirit to bolster the Gelug hegemony at the expense of the other Tibetan religious traditions is politico-animism.

Dorje's picture

just to add, empowerment is the means by which one 'unites' with the Guru (guru yoga). Empowerments of Guru Yoga are pure HYT. You DON'T get sutra guru yoga. Not possible.

Dorje's picture

You can see both of these at work when Geshe-la says, “At the same time as cherishing our own tradition, we should respect all other traditions and the right of each individual to follow the tradition of their choosing.” When I analyze this, I see moderate exclusivism
So? I really don't see the relevance. We are discussing the merits of worshipping a protector praised for killing and harming sentient beings just because they chose to develop faith in Mahayana Buddhist teachings. This worship was spread by a lama that said that these Mahayana Buddhist teachings were faulty, dangerous and misleading and led those following them to Avichi hell.

How does Kelsang Gyatso's 'apparent' respect make this practice any less poisonous and any more valid? I don't get it.