January 11, 2011

Nice art, troubled history: Dorje Shugden

dorje shugden, himalayan art resourcesIssues around the worship of the Tibetan deity Dorje Shugden have been the source of much conflict ever since the deity and its associated practices were adopted by the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. But it was not the Gelugs who inducted the deity into the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. In fact, it was only in the early 20th century that Gelugs adopted practices linked to Dorje Shugden. Previously, such practices were primarily associated with the Sakya sect.

Depending on your teacher, Dorje Shugden is either a deity or a potentially harmful demon. Tibetan iconography expert Jeff Watt's interest, however, is not sectarian. At Himalayan Art Resources, Jeff lays out for us the history of Dorje Shugden and the deity's representation in Tibetan art. Above, Dorje Shugden is depicted riding a lion. For an overview and easy navigation, click here.

Warning: Fine to discuss the art but sectarian mudslinging is strictly prohibited (seriously)!

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rabten62's picture

Dragshul Thinley Rinchen 1871-1936

I believe in his autobiography he claims his father is an emanation of Avalokiteshvara * because * he is an emanation of Dorje Shugden.

Here's an article listing several Sakya Throneholders who regarded Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector with references to prove this:

But I agree with you, I doubt these days I would find a living Sakyapa who would be willing to say on record that they rely on Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector. Sad times.

Dolgyal's picture

Not since Jamyang Khyentse as I mentioned, who died in 1959. Also solidly opposed to the cult was the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rikpe Dorje, Khyabje Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, HE Shamar Rinpoche, Chatral Sangye Dorje, to name a few.

Those who read Tibetan, can download this document: Kyabje Sangye Dorje Rinpoche’s Rain of Adamant Fire as PDF file
sangs-rgyas rdo-rje, bya-bral (1979). dga-’ldan shar-rtse dze-smadsprul-sku blo-bzang dpal-ldan gyi smra-ngan gi sa-bon gzhom-pa’i‘bel-ktam. lung-rigs rdo-rje me-char.[Chatral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche. The Rain of Adamant Fire. A Holy Discourse based upon scriptures and reason, annihilating the poisonous seeds of the wicked speech of Dzeme Trulku Lobsang Palden (Gangtok: Sherab Gyaltsen, Palace Monastery, and Delhi: Lakshmi Printing Works)

rabten62's picture

And then we can list all the great masters who proclaimed the many wonderful spiritual benefits of relying upon Dorje Shugden such as Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Zong Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten, Lama Yeshe, Geshe Kelsang etc. etc.

Do you think it's useful to get into a 'my teachers are better than your teachers' discussion. Seems a bit pointless to me.

It has always surprised me, though, that these supposedly 'non-sectarian' teachers would want to criticize the faith and practice of others.

Still, in the end, of course they are free to teach whatever they feel appropriate. For example, Dorje Shugden practitioners didn't complain about the Dalai Lama criticizing their protector for nearly 20 years. It was only when he started using his political power to impose his beliefs on others they started to speak out.


Dolgyal's picture

The great non-sectarian Sakya lama Jamyang Khyentse wrote:
"Some followers of Ven. Phabongkha DechenNyingpo Rinpoche engaged in heated argument onthe philosophical tenets of the new and the ancient.They engaged in many wrong activities like destroying images of Padmasambhava and those ofother peaceful and wrathful deities, saying that reciting the mantra of the Vajra Guru is of no value and fed the Padma Kathang to fire and water. Likewise, they stated that turning Mani prayerwheels, observing weekly prayers for the deceased etc. are of no purpose and thus placed many on the path of wrong view. They held Gyalpo Sxxxxn as the supreme refuge and the embodiment of all the Three Jewels. Many monks from small monasteries in the Southern area claimed to be possessed by Sxxxxx and ran amok in all directions destroying the three reliquaries (images of the Buddha, scriptures and stupas) etc. displaying many faultsand greatly harming the teaching of Je Tsongkhapa,the second Conqueror."

Dolgyal's picture

Two More Shxxxxn Activists Identified as Murderers
(The Tribune | November 29, 1997)

Dharamsala: With the identification of four of the six suspects in the murder of a Tibetan religious guru, the state police has approached Interpol for their extradition. The accused are reportedly in Tibet.

According to Mr ID Bhandari, DIG (NORTH), a letter has been written to Interpol on November 19 to issue arrest warrants against the persons suspected to be involved in the triple murder which took place in February. The Principal of the Tibetan Dialectics Institute, Mr Lobsang Gyatso, was murdered along with two pupils by six persons in McLeod Ganj.

According to Mr Bhandari, it was learnt that the six murderers reached Lhasa after committing the crime and were safely escorted to their villages. The two accused who have now been identified include Thupten Choden and Lobsang Phuntsok. The two accused who had earlier been identified are Tenzin Choezin and Lobsang Chodak.

Sources said the six suspects, alleged to be Shxxxxn cult followers, had crossed over to Tibet immediately after committing the crime and were escorted to their native villages by the Chinese Army.

The Kangra police had earlier arrested five Shxxxxn supporters from Majnu-Ka-Tilla in Delhi for interrogation."

rabten62's picture

And those two suspects have never been charged let alone convicted. And the police have been shown to have fabricated evidence in the case. And the 5 members of the Shugden society were completely exhonerated by the courts - while the police were reprimanded for using illegal means to try and secure a conviction. And on, and on, and on.

Really, though, shouldn't we be trying to foster harmony and heal the rifts between us?

Dolgyal's picture

An apology from WSS and an audited financial statement disclosing whre the money came from for trans-atlantic airfares, legal attacks, an office in central London and so forth would be a start. As someone pointed out, Kelsang Gyatso , who claimed leadership of WSS in a public letter and pressured his students to participate in political activities would be an appropriate person to make the apology to the Tibetan people.

Dolgyal's picture

You are clearly straying into radical and divisive politics which we hoped to avoid in this discussion of art.

"Praise to you, the protector of the Yellow Hat tradition, you destroy like a pile of dust; Great adepts, high officials and ordinary people; who defile and corrupt the Gelug order." An artistic work or a nasty collection of death threats, what do you consider The Yellow Book by Zemey to be? Here's a few victims recounted in this 1973 'cult classic':
KHARDO TULKU: "...So in short, all his deeds were unsuccessful which was purely due to the miraculous power of D–––––– S––––––––".
TATSAK RINPOCHE:"his health deteriorated again. Tatsak Rinpoche then left for India for medical treatment and as well as for the purpose of
pilgrimage. He went to a big hospital in Calcutta for treatment. Even that
was of no avail and he passed away."
SURKHANG PEMA WANGCHEN:"The punishment of Dharma protector D–––––– S–––––––– struck and he died at the age of twenty two.
were taken out and in their place boiling oil was poured. The intensity of
his pain and misery were beyond imagination. "

and so forth, the blessings of your so-called protector

rabten62's picture

Since you asked... it is obvious that The Yellow Book is not to be taken literally, it clearly contradicts Buddha's teachings on the benefits of refuge and so forth.

I think it's an example of a wierd parable style teaching that must be popular with some Tibetans. I've heard similar - to my ears ridiculous - stories from Tibetans about Yamantaka's sexual conquests and so forth.

And then there's those stories about Shantideva's wisdom sword... presumably for some people these have benefit which is why great teachers might tell them - but obviously they're not literally true, and personally I don't find them helpful.

Dolgyal's picture

The edition Yellow Book was largely bought up by Trijang Rinpoche, who distributed it to his followers, he dictated, composed and condoned the death threats it contains. This is not a 'wierd' genre of fantasy fiction (much as you would like to appear to distance yourself from its vile contents)–these victims were real people like Reting Rinpoche, who took incurred the wrath of your demon by taking teachings from Kalu Rinpoche and Chatral Sangye Dorje.
In the context of the time, when His Holiness was receiving teaching from Khyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the implied fundamentalist meaning was very clear: Rime is pollution.
As we have seen, it cost the hegemonist cult dearly–on a permanent basis, the non-sectarian approach is the path for Tibetan Buddhism prevails, the fanatic westerners who still defend this sort of perversion can do what they will.

Dolgyal's picture

No, because I quiver at the erudition of Dolgyal scholars like this one:

No, because Tricycle will pull the plug if you go off topic of art. They ostensibly deleted the lengthy debate on the suggested topic which however can still be viewed at:

Philip Ryan's picture

Hi Dolgyal, the previous post was not deleted, but due to the long chain of comments, it has proven resistant to our attempts to import it from Wordpress to Drupal. We have the data and are trying to figure out how to deploy it!
-Philip Ryan, Web Editor

Jangchub's picture

I agree with rabten62. It is very kind of Tricycle to write an unbiased blog post about Dorje Shugden.

Here is another nice quote about Dorje Shugden.

“Even these days, some suspect those who rely upon and propitiate Gyalchen (Dorje Shugden) of conjuring ghosts, but it is the babbling talk of those who don’t understand the definitive meaning.”

-Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe, Symphony Delighting an Ocean of Conquerers, 1967

rabten62's picture

Lovely for Tricycle to host a non-sectarian discussion of Dorje Shugden.

Here's a view of the symbolism of his form:

"Dorje Shugdän appears as a fully ordained monk to show that the practice of pure moral discipline is essential for those who wish to attain enlightenment. In his left hand he holds a heart, which symbolizes great compassion and spontaneous great bliss - the essence of all the stages of the vast path of Sutra and Tantra. His round yellow hat represents the view of Nagarjuna, and the wisdom sword in his right hand teaches us to sever ignorance, the root of samsara, with the sharp blade of Nagarjuna's view. This is the essence of all the stages of the profound path of Sutra and Tantra.
Dorje Shugdän rides a snow lion, the symbol of the four fearlessnesses of a Buddha, and has a jewel-spitting mongoose perched on his left arm, symbolizing his power to bestow wealth on those who put their trust in him. The single eye in the centre of his forehead symbolizes his omniscient wisdom which perceives directly and simultaneously all past, present, and future phenomena. His wrathful expression indicates that he destroys ignorance, the real enemy of all living beings, by blessing them with great wisdom; and also that he destroys the obstacles of pure Dharma practitioners."
- Heart Jewel, by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

riechersm's picture

Jeff Watts said "This collection of works is called in short the Dorje Shugden Be'u Bum. The collection also includes those early Sakya writings."

To read translations of the history of Dorje Shugden practice from the original Tibetan, check out www.dorjeshugdenhistory.org. I think most curious people will find themselves educated by what they read there...

Jangchub's picture

"In recent years the person most responsible for propagating the practice of Dorje Shugden was the late Trijang Dorjechang, the root Guru of many Gelugpa practitioners from humble novices to the highest Lamas. He encouraged all his disciples to rely upon Dorje Shugden and gave Dorje Shugden empowerments many times.

Even in his old age, so as to prevent the practice of Dorje Shugden from degenerating he wrote an extensive text entitled Symphony Delighting an Ocean of Conquerors, which is a commentary to Tagpo Kelsang Khädrub Rinpoche's praise of Dorje Shugden called Infinite Aeons."
-From the book Heart Jewel by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Trijang Dorjechang was the Dalai Lama's spiritual guide.

Dolgyal's picture

Lets all sign the WSS online petition
as often as you like, it is completely padded with false names
of imaginary Tibetans for example:

First Name Last Name

Dakpa Bakto 2008-06-04 10:22:02

Dakpa Cheme 2008-06-05 12:20:43

Dakpa Chezin 2008-06-04 10:35:46

Dakpa Choedar 2008-06-05 12:31:52

Dakpa Choedar 2008-06-03 11:26:31

Dakpa Gyatso 2008-06-05 12:08:46

Dakpa Gyurmey 2008-06-05 11:16:04....

–list continues for roughly 200 false names registered on or around the same day and supposedly from India

....Dakpa Jampa 2008-06-05 11:21:15

Dakpa Woeser 2008-06-03 12:00:54

Dakpa Yarpel 2008-06-04 11:29:08

Dakpa Yarphel 2008-06-05 11:37:27

Dakpa Yeshi 2008-06-05 12:24:04

Dakpa Zingkjong 2008-06-05 11:40:52...

Dolgyal's picture

In 1939, on the occasion of the enthronement of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, the Vth Reting Rinpoche, a nonsectarian Rime lama prophetically wrote:

"May the cold winter of evil ways subside throughout the world and particularly in Tibet, China and Mongolia; that the goodness and joy of the Queen of Spring may arrive and the summer face of enlightenment be revealed within or mind.
May the thoughts and ways which end all the world’s disturbances: such as destructive attacks by errant cultists and the malignant energy of rGyal-po spirits be subdued and pacified from within, and completely overcome!
Throughout all lives may the great master known as the Holder of the White Lotus continue to manifest as a Mahayana teacher and thus care for our world. May all living beings cross the paths and stages to enlightenment, beneficial to both oneself and others be spontaneously fulfilled.
May the mighty Dharma protectors with whom you have long been familiar–such as Palden Lhamo, Bektse Chamdral, Gyalchen Ku-nga and especially the Oath bound Dorje Drak-den–release an immediate force of the four activities.
By the strength of the blessings of the unfailing objects of refuge, the power of the truth of the unchanging ultimate sphere, and the mighty current of the extraordinary pure altruistic aspiration auspiciously be accomplished spontaneously and without hindrance.

rabten62's picture

I'm not sure how your post is relevant to this discussion. Considering all the other posts you've submitted, presumably you're hoping to discredit Dorje Shugden and his followers with this quote. You've referred to Reting Rinpoche a number of times so far, but do you really want to be invoking him?

After all, around the time of the quote you give above, on the eve of the second world war, whilst the Regent of Tibet, Reting was writing to Adolf Hitler wanting to form a union between Tibet and Nazi Germany:

"To the German King, the sublime Herr Hitler from the Regent of Tibet, Reting Hutuku, on the 18th day of the first Tibetan month of the Earth-hare year. To the German King, Herr Hitler, who has achieved power throughout the whole wide world. It pleases me that you are in good health and that your good deeds are crowned with success. [...] I greatly hold the wish that the previous good relationship between our two residences will intensify. I believe that you, sublime King, Herr Hitler, agree with me on this issue and consider it important and are not indifferent to it. I wish for your good health and for news of your wishes."

It sounds preposterous but you can check the facts:
“Nationalsozialistiche Expeditionspolitik: Deutsche Asien-Expeditionen 1933 – 1945” by Peter Mierau, p357, Herbet Utz Verlag, Munich, 2006

Either Reting was an incredibly poor judge of character or Tibet has some really sinister secrets. In either case I don't think quoting the 5th, let alone the 6th, Reting furthers your argument.

It's sad that this discussion has descended into a series of accusations from you. I was attracted to the discussion by the prospect of having a chance to discuss Dorje Shugden's form etc without the venom we've gotten used to receiving. Sadly I find myself mostly just responding to series of deliberately misleading accusations. It's a shame. I salute Tricycle for testing the water to see if it might be possible, seems it still isn't.

Dolgyal's picture

Here’s a quote from the Canadian magazine Maclean’s blog from WSS supporter Thomas David Canada (who is not Canadian, but an Italian-American married to a billionaire pharmaceutical heiress) aka "Lhakpa Gyaltshen" addressed to Tibetans–

” No wonder you lost your land, only cowards run away…………………….



Come on down and we’ll check your skin or better yet, We’ll just deport you back to China”

As a Tibetan by birth, I find this comment (one of several in the same vein) racist, anti-immigrant and extremely offensive–I do not feel demanding an apology is amiss. We are similarly not happy about NKT/WSS calling our spiritual and temporal leader "liar'' ,"Muslim","Nazi" and so forth as well as accusing him of plotting to murder his colleague and Dharma brother HH the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa.
Wrong speech will come back on the WSS, that is the natural law.

rabten62's picture

I don't know if that's a genuine quote or not. In any case, I don't like it, don't think has any value, and am sure you won't find anything like it on the WSS site. The WSS has no axe to grind with the Tibetan people.

Calling the Dalai Lama a liar seems quite a reasonable statement to me. The WSS site provides several references that show lies he has told. If you can prove otherwise, then let me know which ones are not lies and give me the evidence. Is it not ok to point it out if Dalai Lama tells lies?

In the context of highlighting the doubts about the legitimacy of the present Dalai Lama that have existed from the very beginning, the WSS reported that some Tibetans gave the young Dalai Lama a nickname the 'saffron robed muslim'. You'll know from your own history that there was quite a lot of power politics going on around Reting throughout the search for the re-incarnation. Reting needed to control the new 'reincarnation' to maintain his own position. He found a boy from a muslim area, who had to be bought from the muslim warlord, and who was escorted towards Lhasa by muslim fighters. I think it's quite plausible that those who suspected Reting of manipulating the situation would have called the boy a 'saffron robed muslim'.

I'm actually surprised the WSS hasn't gone more into the fact that the language the Dalai Lama spoke at home was chinese and that there were very bad omens around the time of his birth.

As far as I am aware the WSS have never referred to the Dalai Lama as a Nazi, though there are comparisons to Hitler's conduct with respect to the Jews and others in 1930s Germany (ie. before the holocaust). These comparisons seem completely reasonable to me: the consistent scapegoating of a minority group, the steady reduction of thier civil liberties and so forth. The WSS also refers to the Dalai Lama's associations with Nazis such as Heinrich Harrer, Bruno Beger, Miguel Serrano.

Though, now you have me thinking about it... a Nazi is a national socialist. The Dalai Lama says he is a communist, and I understand that this is the political system he would prefer for this autonomous Tibet. His idea of an automous Tibet seems to be based entirely on Tibetan ethnicity, which is definitely a form of nationalism. So, gosh, maybe it wouldn't be an unreasonable claim to make. I mean throw in the supreme unquestionable national leader stuff as well... However, even though it might actually be true technically, people would probably take it the wrong way.

The references to the plot to murder the 16th Karmapa is from sources close to the Karmapa and their evidence is published widely in books and on the internet. I haven't seen a convincing refutation of their evidence. Presumably you will be aware that the leader of the 13 settlements was killed in a shotgun attack and a number of the 16th Karmapa's close supporters died in suspicious circumstances.

I'm still waiting for you to provide specific references from the website for us to discuss. I'm hoping two things may come from this. First, if there are statements by the WSS that can't be substantiated they can get removed, and secondly you and perhaps others will come to realise that the WSS is not the fanatical organisation you assume it is, and also that maybe there are some areas where the Dalai Lama really does need to behave better.

Dolgyal's picture

Didn't take long for the 'you are a Nazi' argument to come out, whatever that is called You are certainly very quick to judge people you do not know. I imagine most Tibetans had no idea where Germany was at that time. Don't tell me, you don't actually know Tibetan language either, right?

Dolgyal's picture

Until WSS/NKT apologizes to the Tibetan people and publishes a financial statement that accounts for their funding, you will meet steadfast opposition, the way the KKK or neo-Nazis would and should in America, where freedom of speech and justice are respected.

rabten62's picture

You know, maybe there really are some Dorje Shugden practitioners who are as nuts as you seem to think we all are. I haven't met them but I can't rule out the possibility.
All the Dorje Shugden practitioners I have spent any length of time with - western and Tibetan - have been decent people, trying to improve themselves and help others. People who are sincere in their Buddhist faith and take delight in the lineage they receive from their teachers.
The comparison with the extremist groups you mention just doesn't apply.
It would be nice one day to be able to have some sort of positive discussion with a view to creating harmony. In that kind of discussion we could debate the facts of the matter calmly and respectfully.
If you're honest you'll have to admit that many of the points you've made on this site have been deliberately disingenious. I think the points I've made in response are factual, but if you can prove otherwise then I'm open to changing my opinion.
I do appreciate that many Tibetans have found it deeply distressing to have the Dalai Lama publicly challenged, and honestly I do sympathise with you guys. But on the other hand I think what's he's done is so far out of line that it needs to be opposed. He wasn't willing to enter into any dialogue on the matter and so the public challenges evolved.
In the end I think challenging the Dalai Lama when he makes mistakes is more healthy than following blindly, and ultimately everyone will be better off for it, hopefully even the Dalai Lama himself.

Dolgyal's picture

No, your websites and publications are not places of reason but are truly offensive to an identifiable ethnic group–and as such very much fit in to the legal definition of hate literature. We are perfectly capable of administering our own culture and do not require the help of the British first generation 'lite buddhists' dictating terms to us.
WSS has crossed the line into extreme and hurtful rhetoric, you do not seem to get it: the Dalai Lama is like a family member or father, to us, even those who completely understand shortcomings of the exile administration. Even K. Gyatso was a TB patient for many years and owes his life to the kindness of the admittedly small and weak TGIE, which (as has been pointed out repeatedly) has no police or army and only administers schools, dispensaries and a few modest civilian areas such as religious affairs. NKT in particular have developed a nasty internal culture of scapegoating perhaps to distract from the sex scandals at the top levels.

rabten62's picture

The stated purposes of 'A Great Deception', and the WSS website are to oppose discrimination and promote equality. I haven't seen them making any criticisms based on ethnicity whatsoever.

Unfortunately, since the Dalai Lama wields such power and has refused to engage in dialogue, it seems the only way to undermine the discrimination and move towards some sort of resolution is to put pressure on the Dalai Lama by exposing his failings publicly. It's a method to force him into dialogue. It's sad that it has come to this.

The fact that some people are offended by this doesn't make it hate literature. I don't think the WSS want anyone to hate the Dalai Lama, let alone any other Tibetans, and also they wouldn't be able to publicly expose the Dalai Lama's faults if those faults weren't there. They are just shining a light on parts of his history that have been conveniently brushed under the carpet to create the image he now enjoys.

The WSS sites seem factual to me and I believe they are reasonable people. If you can convince me that any of their statements aren't reasonable statements to publish, I'll happily argue with the WSS on your behalf to remove those statements.

With respect to first generation western Buddhists surely this is an object of rejoicing. We want the Dharma to flourish all over the world and bring peace and harmony everywhere don't we? So, maybe in the west we're new to Buddhism and some mistakes get made that you Tibetans roll your eyes at (like your earlier comments about the treatment of Thankhas). That's no big deal really is it?

Conversely, Democracy is a new thing for you Tibetans. We've had it for a long time and we understand it well. For example, maybe you think the 'referendum' in the monasteries was democratic. The monks were voting on whether Shugden monks should be thrown out of the
monasteries. The vote was held in public and any monk that voted against the Dalai Lama's express wishes whether for their own sake or for the sake of others knew they would
suffer for their vote. To me, it's obvious that that isn't democracy, it's coercion. Maybe that's not obvious to you yet (give it a few more generations ;-p ).

The same can be said of the signature collections and so on, maybe you think they are showing majority rule. But you see, democracy isn't as simple as majority rule. In a qualified democracy the rights of minorties are absolutely protected. The majority can't vote to persecute minorities.

On the Dalai Lama's personal website he posts the resolution by the ATPD and the statement by the Kashag, as if this is showing that good democratic processes and the will of the people have been followed. And yet they are a stain on Tibetan efforts at democratization - to be proud of them shows a fundamental ingorance of the proper workings of democracy.

Those documents may repeatedly say things like 'we are not removing the rights of religious freedom' but they do exactly that.

To turn to something beautiful for a change let's consider the UN's 'Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief':

Seriously, do read it, it's beautiful. Then read the statement by the Kashag:

It's a master class in emotional blackmail and coercion. If you read between the lines of those documents the Dalai Lama promotes on his site, without rose-tinted spectacles, they really are an assault on democratic values no matter how much they claim not to be.

I do honestly think it would have been hard to come up with statements more likely to induce hatred towards the Shugdenpas than the words the Dalai Lama chose.

Dolgyal's picture

Below is an interesting letter on the banning of Gary Beesley's book

NKT is determined to keep bringing negative attention to itself. Ultimately, this pattern of behavior will be seen as NKT’s greatest impediment and far more potent than criticisms from NKT survivors and analysts. NKT’s own legendary negativity and condescending bravado are the sources of its controversy.
A few days before the release of another book about NKT, this one entitled ‘A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace: The Decline of Tradition in 21st Century Western Buddhism and the Rise of the New Kadampa Tradition’, NKT threatened the book’s publisher and author.
Because of the NKT’s threat against the livelihood of the author’s family, the author withdrew his book from publication.
NKT supporters, in turn, boasted on Internet blogs that NKT had stifled the book’s publication, branded it libel filled with lies without seeing any more than the book’s title, and claimed that the author withdrew his book from publication because he agreed with NKT’s assessment of his book, itself based on reading the book’s title on amazon.com.
From a letter on NKT letterhead dated May 14, 2010 from the Resident Teacher (John McBretney) of NKT’s Heruka Center in London…
“From the title itself and having read the table of contents that appears on Amazon’s website, we infer that the book, if published, would be very damaging to the reputation of the New Kadampa Tradition and its Founder Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. There are approximately 1,200 NKT Centres throughout the world all of which would suffer serious financial loss. In addition, the spiritual lives of thousands of NKT students would be harmed, in some cases irreparably. The financial losses and personal suffering due to discouragement and loss of faith caused by the book’s publication would be very great.
If the book is defamatory to the NKT and Geshe Kelsang, the NKT will sue for damages and an apology in open court. The consequences of legal action by the NKT will be very serious.
We need a reply from you by 2l May 2010 to our request to read the manuscript of the book otherwise we will put this matter in the hands of our lawyers.”
NKT claims that it inferred very damaging information from an advertisement on amazon.com! Based on this ad, NKT determined the book was libelous and threatened to sue the author.
However, NKT’s alleged inferences are not facts. Based on the book’s description and table of contents, the book mostly if not completely contained information about NKT already discussed at length by NKT supporters, survivors and analysts.
Perhaps NKT feared that the book made this information too readily available and presented it in too compelling a manner compared to other books addressing NKT sold on amazon.com. Clearly, NKT feared this book.
Notably, NKT did not claim that the book actually contained content defamatory to NKT. NKT claimed IF it did, then it would sue the author. Apparently, NKT had not read the book.
“The consequences of legal action by the NKT will be very serious,” according to NKT. Sounds ominous (and odious).
Most likely, however, legal action by NKT would be very serious for NKT because the process of litigation would involve discovery of significant information from NKT, eg financial records, its profits and losses, its internal memoranda, how NKT handled its many sexual abuse scandals, what NKT does specifically with its government subsidies, its financial relationships and associations with WSS, Shugden organizations and China, etc.
To examine NKT’s proof of its claims for the court to assess the merit if any of NKT’s lawsuit, NKT would also have to provide further information about its claims through depositions under oath to tell the truth of NKT’s management, resident teachers, board of directors, NKT financial contributors, government contacts, business heads, corporate officers, accountants, renters, and key business, real estate, marketing and public relations employees, agencies and consultants.
As founder of NKT, its leader for 20 years, for directing NKT’s protest rallies, for threatening lawsuits before and for his oversight if not design of the current threat, Kelsang Gyatso would need to be deposed under oath and provide to the court and parties of NKT’s lawsuit his files and diaries. This deposition and various others would likely be videotaped.
Most likely, all this information would be made public and provide dramatic material for subtantial media coverage, new NKT analyses and books about NKT.
In the already established environment of…
thousands of Internet posts from NKT supporters attacking others
thousands more from NKT survivors and analysts describing NKT’s cult
various books and tens of thousands of blog posts already published addressing NKT’s cult
various sexual abuse scandals inside NKT
NKT protest rallies around the world, books and web sites against the most admired Buddhist in the world
numerous vile youtube videos posted by NKT supporters
numerous NKT support web sites attacking NKT survivors and various Buddhist Lamas
assessments of NKT’s war by Tibetan Lamas and other respected teachers
TIbetans praying that NKT will cease its war
NKT singles out a future book as the cause of serious financial loss of NKT … a small book amidst a massive sea of concern over NKT’s actions.
Next, John McBretney, again on behalf of NKT, wrote the book’s author May 16, 2010,
“In the title and subtitle of this book you are deliberately and directly implying that the development of the New Kadampa Tradition has caused the Gelug Buddhist Tradition to decline.
You have publicized this false implication widely through the Internet, and in this way you are denigrating the reputation of the 1,200 Buddhist Centres of the New Kadampa Tradition throughout the world. This will of course cause great damage to the public moral and financial standing of all these Centres, now and far into the future.
NKT would like with this letter to propose to you that you completely remove all the negative information about the New Kadampa Tradition, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and Dorje Shugden from your forthcoming book. If you sincerely agree to do this, then the 1,200 Buddhist Centres of the New Kadampa Tradition will patiently accept the immense harm that you have already done to their reputation by spreading.
If you do not accept this proposal, then the NKT will have no choice but to engage in legal action against you and your publisher to protect all the Buddhist Centres of the New Kadampa Tradition. The NKT would sue for compensation for the further great damage to its moral and financial standing that the book would cause.
We need to receive your answer before 1 June 2010. If we do not receive your answer by then, we will conclude that you have not accepted our proposal.”
Notably, NKT is threatening litigation for an alleged implication of something almost certainly not contained in the book.
After 15 years of NKT blaming the Gelug tradition for its decline, NKT now transfers the blame to itself based on NKT inferences from an unpublished book’s title and subtitle (‘Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace: The Decline of Tradition in 21st Century Western Buddhism and the Rise of the New Kadampa Tradition’). In fact, nothing in the book’s title or subtitle makes this claim. Nevertheless, NKT believes that the book will have so much credibility that it single-handedly will cause the decline of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (something that NKT claims occurred long ago already) as well as NKT’s corporate empire. Furthermore, NKT claims it is not a form of Tibetan Buddhism.
NKT does not care about the Gelug tradition. It cares about its corporate wealth.
NKT’s blame for its demise on others is a recurring theme with NKT.
For example, Kelsang Gyatso, NKT’s founder, wrote Kelsang Samden, one of Kelsang Gyatso’s heirs booted by NKT,
“You have destroyed the NKTs reputation and the power of all NKT Resident Teachers. Through your actions so many ordained Teachers have disrobed following your view which is opposite to Buddhist view – you tried to spread a sexual lineage which you yourself created. Even in society a Teacher cannot have sex with students. After you left many people confessed to me that you had had sex with them. You had sex with so many students and through your deceptive actions one nun tried to commit suicide because of your sexual behaviour towards her.
Because the NKTs reputation and power of the Resident Teachers has been destroyed by your activities now the future development of the NKT will be difficult both materially and spiritually. However, I myself and all my students are working hard to recover the damage you made. We will never allow your sexual lineage to spread in this world.”
Is NKT saying that NKT was destroyed a few years ago, rebuilt itself and now threatening an unpublished author so as not to be destroyed again, “now and far into the future”?
NKT chose an author of an unpublished book to threaten legal action rather than any of the following…
Kelsang Gyatso for distributing an email saying he will personally organize protests against The Dalai Lama (years earlier, Kelsang Gyatso determined his campaign to be a political one)
The Australian Sangha Association for informing the public that “the opinion of the ASA is that for NKT members to represent themselves to the public as authentic Buddhist monks and nuns is wrong and misleading.”
Dhongtog Tulku Tenpai Gyaltsen’s for writing a book (Earth Shaking Thunder of True Word) about NKT’s battle with the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama for recommending that his people not worship NKT’s principle deity
Robert Thurman for referring to NKT as the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism in 1997 in a Newsweek article about NKT
Sera Je Monastery for saying that Gyatso is possessed by a demon
the 100th Ganden Tripa for wondering why Shugden needs so much protection from humans, esteemed Buddhist Lamas for not worshiping Shugden
‘Tricycle: The Buddhist Review’ for its 1998 articles associating Shugden, NKT and murders of Dalai Lama associates (one of Tricycle’s blogs about NKT would take 1,648 pages to print)
the whole of Tibetan Buddhism which Gyatso sees as degenerate
NKT’s ex clergy and lay members for reporting their debilitating experiences in NKT
the individuals against whom NKT created a web site, to among other attacks publicize sordid psychiatric biographies (a favorite technique of NKT), http://www.newkadampatruth.org
amazon.com for presenting critical comments about Gyatso’s books and for advertising a new book that NKT claims would ruin NKT
Google for presenting user groups with critical comments about NKT
Yahoo for presenting user groups with critical comments about NKT
the media for reporting NKT news book authors and publishers for critical documented examinations of NKT’s 2 decades of controversy
blog discussion forums for examining NKT’s admitted faults
hundreds of Internet bloggers struggling with NKT’s abuse
NKT’s ultra-ego, WSS, for contributing to the mess NKT is in
the billions of people in the world who do not believe NKT’s ‘faith’ that the Dalai Lama is a fake Dalai Lama, not a Buddhist, a dictator, a spy, a liar and a murderer.
Incredibly, NKT claims that it will accept the alleged immense harm that the author has allegedly already caused by the the author’s ‘widely publicized’ comments about NKT on the Internet. Notably, NKT’s web sites set up to identify NKT’s enemies have yet to mention this author, who NKT alleges would ruin NKT if his book was published and has already caused immense harm.
Clearly, NKT feared this book. NKT feared that this book would have decisive impact greater than thousands of previous commentaries about NKT. Wow. The book, based on its title and table of contents alone, was a blockbuster in NKT’s eyes.
This is NKT at work, the antithesis of Shakyamuni, Tsongkhapa and Buddhism.
NKT’s audacity to blame others for its problems seems boundless.
Paraphrasing a recent essayist here, NKT is a circus of superstition.

rabten62's picture

So, what you're telling us is...

The NKT wrote a letter to an author who was about to publish a book saying that they thought the book would probably be libelous and if it was they would sue for damages.

On reflection the author withdraws his book.

Then there's lots of statements supposed to make us believe that the author would definitely have won such a court case.

In which case, of course, he wouldn't have any damages to pay, and presumably any legal costs he had incurred would have to be paid by the NKT.

Obviously the author and felt there was a reasonable chance a judge would consider his book libelous.

The libel laws are there to protect the innocent from others publishing unsubstantiated slander for vindictive or financial reasons. It looks like they worked in this instance.

The NKT is a collection of people trying to improve themselves and help others. It isn't perfect, mistakes have been made. People try to learn from them and improve.
By all means do read the http://newkadampatruth.org/ website.

But are you just trying to deflect from the opportunity to discuss whether the claims about the Dalai Lama on the WSS site are in fact true? Surely there must be something on there that you can prove is wrong.

I'm going to have to move on from this forum pretty soon, it'd be really nice if we could reach some common ground through actually discussing with each other rather than you just throwing one random accusation after another and me responding to it, only for you to immediately head off on yet another tangent.

Wisdom Moon's picture

This article explains why the Dalai Lama is being critically assessed:


I, too, would like to see conclusive evidence that the Dalai Lama is not involved in all these deceptive activities but there's a lot of third party evidence to prove otherwise. I'd be happy to see DG provide some qualified refutation, though.

Dolgyal's picture

So again the cultists are attempting to hijack the Tricycle blog as a platform for their radical and surrealistic agenda which manufactures victimization and responds with arrogance and vitriol. WSS has tainted all western monastics with their nasty politics. Amnesty found no evidence of religious persecution in India so dropped the file. Nga Lama, the self- annointed Kundeling's case in New Delhi courts was dismissed, but do keep trying, my nephew is going to law and could use the money!

rabten62's picture

Now, now DG, don't tell fibs. We were having a lovely discussion about the symbolism of Dorje Shugden's form until you hijacked it with your negative agenda (that will be obvious to anyone who's prepared to try and follow the posts in a chronological order - which doesn't look easy to do). I tried to carry on that positive discussion, but it proved impossible under the onslaught of your deliberately misleading posts, so I've given up on the original stated purpose of this thread.

But since we're here chatting, I thought maybe we can make some progress on the underlying issues. If the Tricycle moderators feel that it the discussion needs to be shut down, that is absolutely their perogative.

My offer to you is genuine and sincere. I know the WSS editorial team, I know who to contact and I think I may have some influence. I would like to publicly show that they are reasonable people.

What I need from you is a reference to a statement on the WSS site that is unsubstantiated and that you can conclusively prove to be false. Do that and I promise I will argue with them on your behalf.

I'm sticking my neck out here, DG, are you going to step up to the plate?

The WSS site is huge and has so many shocking statements about the Dalai Lama. I think it would reflect pretty poorly on your national leader if you couldn't show even one of them to be conclusively false.

So please...

1. Tell the statement(s) you can refute.

2. Give me some way of finding it on the WSS site like:
WSS > Photos > The Dalai Lama's Wikileaks Shame
or give me the url, like:

3. Give me the evidence that proves it conclusively wrong or unsubstantiated.

Over to you.

Dolgyal's picture

What no time deadline, like 14:00 GMT?
The loser is not in a position to dictate terms, although it reminds me of my days in short pants, trying to keep my lunch money in the schoolyard or perhaps "Lord of the Flies".
Only Kelsang Gyatso has had the guts put his given name as leader of WSS, the rest of you hide behind layers of white sheets. If you wish to hold a properly formatted public debate with a moderator, Geshe-la should avail himself of the challenge.

You really seem to understand very little about Tibetan's sensibility. In Asia in general, I would say that we tend to take one's speech as advocacy, whereas in the west, people affect opinions more casually and perhaps often to merely draw attention to themselves. As I am neither a Gelugpa follower nor part of the TGIE myself, I am not qualified except to remind you of your situation from your own side:

Letter to Kelsang Gyatso, August 22, 1996
His Holiness The Dalai Lama is the undisputed leader of the six million Tibetans and a world renowned Buddhist leader as well as a respected statesman of great charisma for which he was awarded the prestigious 1989 Nobel Peace Prize among many others. His genuine concern for the welfare of the Tibetan people, the weak and the down trodden and his teachings on compassion to bring about a more humane and harmonious world and his call for the protection of all forms of life on our planet and their habitat in the form of what he termed as 'Universal Responsibility' has caught the imagination of the world and is held in great esteem by virtually the whole world irrespective of their religious affiliations or political ideology.

However, it is a measure of profound sorrow that a so called 'Geshe' Kelsang Gyatso and his English supporters have embarked upon a ruthless smear campaign to tarnish the International stature of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in the name of alleged 'religious persecution'. It is nothing short of blasphemy in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the six million Tibetans.

It is nothing but a crude form of debasing the Dalai Lama for his own selfish ends...We have nothing but pity for your ignorance...Why not mind his own business and do what he likes in his own bigoted kingdom?

Actions speak louder than words and we are under no illusion with whom your sympathies are despite your statements to the contrary. The Tibetans all over the world were deeply distressed by your attempt to portray the Dalai Lama as a 'ruthless dictator' an 'oppressor of his own people' and smash his International stature so that the Tibetan struggle will be like a rudderless ship tossing helplessly in the sea of international intrigues and treacery. From where did you borrow your vocabulary to malign the Dalai Lama? Are they not straight from the Chinese propaganda dictionary?

These days, [in Kelsang Gyatso] the demonic cloud of overwhelming arrogance displays itself with a mass of deluded pride, like a bat who thinks he is above the sky. This demon with broken commitments. burns with the flame of unbearable spite towards the unsurpassed omniscient 14th Dalai Lama, the only staff of life of religious people in Tibet, whose activities and kindness are equal to the sky.

...Kelsang Gyatso who is today a pariah in the Tibetan community...

We advise him to accept the fact that he is an ordinary being and stand no chance whatsoever to challenge the Dalai Lama. He is not even a Geshe. The so called 'third Buddha' is a figment of imagination conjured up by his fawning desciples as a propaganda tool to attract more people to his centre and that it should not go to his head.

Kelsang himself has transgressed the eight shortcomings of relying wrongly upon his own spiritual master H.H. The Dalai Lama. According to the circular released by the Sera Jhe Tsangpa Khangtsen, to whom Kelsang belonged, he had received both sutra and tantric teachings from H.H. The Dalai Lama when he was in Tibet. He had received the fifth Dalai Lama's Lamrim Jampel Shalung at the Norbu Linka summer palace and the Kalachakra Initiation in 1956 from H.H.The Dalai Lama which incidently was the first Kalachakra initiation by the fourteenth Dalai Lama. As it were, there is simply no question of his not being a desciple of H.H. The Dalai Lama but he has ignored this aspect and launched a blistering attack on the Dalai Lama in the name of ''religious persecution' along with his gullible followers. The outcome of all this attempt to denigrate the person of the of Dalai Lama by Kelsang clearly transgressed his spiritual relationship with the Dalai Lama and though he has mentioned in his letter that “all of us are destined to go to hell”, we are in no doubt that he will infact be the one who will land in hell.

We have therefore stripped him of his membership from our Sera Jhe Dratsang since the holy scriptures have clearly prescribed to evict such apostates who will foul the Sanga community's spiritual purity and serenity and will have a negative influence for the whole community. Owing to the above reasons contained in the holy Tantric treatises, the Sera Jhe Dratsang's Abbot and ex-abbots, Reincarnations of holy Lamas, Geshes, and the House Masters of the fifteen different Houses unanimously decided to strip Kelsang Gyatso of his membership in the Sera Jhe Dratsang and his own House had earlier done the same.

He states that for the last eighteen years the Dalai Lama has done nothing!!! His hatred towards the Dalai Lama obscures him from seeing any merit of the Dalai Lama...It is not the fault of the holy Buddha, nor Lama Tsongkhapa nor H.H.The Dalai Lama but the beholder like Kelsang Gyatso whose demonic instinct get the better of them...He is an object of pity and nothing else.

We sincerely hope that the cult leader and his fanatical supporters go through this and think twice before their vitriolic outpourings on the holy person of the Dalai Lama. We believe you would trust the Chinese version more than ours and because of this we took the liberty to quote from the Chinese communist periodical. It would be even better if you would care to go through the whole article and you will be surprised that even the Chinese communists have far greater respect for the Dalai Lama than cult leader Kelsang Gyatso and his cultists in Cumbria, England!!! What's more, if any one disagrees with his 'pure' cult, he gets the boot...But with Kelsang anything goes, after all he is the 'third buddha' in the British Isles.

His venomous invectives against the Dalai Lama is unbecoming of a Buddhist...

The sacrilege he was committing by banning the photos of the Dalai Lama and even the utterance of his name in the premises of his cult kingdom. It is an unheard piece of news which every Tibetan will condemn with the severest indiction. The motivation behind this act was, he was now planning to wean away innocent, unsuspecting, young minds towards his cultist school called the 'New Kadampa Tradition' which imposes a ban on Tibet's Spiritual and Temporal leader the Dalai Lama and thus undermine his authority even in the exile community. His single minded motivation now is to undermine the authority of the Dalai Lama and maroon the Tibetan people. This is unacceptable to the six million Tibetans and we will challenge him for this.

In his apparent ecstasy, he even disowns being a Tibetan and works against the very people where he was born.

His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is the embodiment of the compassion of all Buddhas, the golden flower in the land of snows, Tibet, the form of the deity who has appeared in Tibet, the representative of Buddha Shakyamuni, the spiritual leader of all Buddhists in the world, and the great advocate of non-violence.

For those who come from the land of snow mountains, to find in His Holiness our sacred source of refuge for this and future lives is truly our inborn nature, like our eyes which give us sight and our innermost heart.

(referring to Gyatso)...Possessed by a terrible demon, without shame, embarrassment, or modesty, he doesn't have even the slightest care or concern for any of the commitments of the three vows [pratimoksha, bodhicitta, and tantric] which he undertook.

He continuously broadcasts blatantly shameless mad pronouncements, attacking with baseless slander His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whose kindness for us, the people of Tibet, has been greater that the Buddhas of the three times. These unimaginable statements which defame the name of His Holiness have created an urgent adverse situation which no Tibetan can tolerate.

Therefore, all those connected with Sera Je College, lamas and tulkus, abbots, former executives, senior and junior geshes, together with the leaders of the individual khangtsen [regional houses], all together, in agreement, with one voice, hereby proclaim that on this day, August 22, 1996, Kelsang Gyatso, the one with broken commitments and wrong view, is cast out with the "ritual nine expulsions," and is thereby banished from this place, and the being a part of the rule of our College.

This means that we request all of our brothers and sisters, the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, to completely sever any relationship with him. Concerning the practice of worshiping divine protectors at this Monastery in particular, the protector who was directed by the previous great masters to advise, command, and look after our Monastery is the Dharma protector Dregpa Chamsing [Dregs Pa lCam Sring). Aside from this protector there has traditionally been no worship of Dolgyal [D_____ S_______].

These days, we keep in the honored position on the crown of our heads the instructions of our Government, the great Ganden Potrang. Therefore, all sangha who reside here, as evidence of their commitment not to worship the protector Dolgyal, have freely signed such a pledge, and offered it before the clear eye of His Holiness. Beyond that, anyone who is not blind should be able to comprehend this with their ordinary eye of understanding and mind of attachment and aversion; as they say, no one needs a lamp to make things clear in the light of the sun and moon.

For the future, we publicly make the strongest request to everyone not to associate the good name of Sera Je Monastery with this holder of broken commitments and wrong view."

Wisdom Moon's picture

Amnesty International did not say that there was no evidence of religious persecution, what they said was there was no evidence of persecution within their remit - torture, imprisonment and so forth.

The Court Case in Delhi had to be dropped - could you imagine the embarrassment the Indian Government would suffer in having to find the Dalai Lama guilty of religious discrimination by breaking the Deity discrimination law? - it really would be headline international news. Almost no-one is brave enough to stand up to the Dalai Lama even though he is breaking the law. It's laudable that Kundeling Rinpoche at least tried to bring this issue of religious persecution out into the open and engage the world's media, but it's a hot potato that no one will touch because of the Dalai Lama's influence.