Tag Archives: gelugpa

Ghosts, Stephen Batchelor and the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a man revered by nearly the whole world, but surely we are free to ask for clarification when we see blatant contradictions in his words and behaviors?

It seems that people are so desperate to believe that this man is a great being that there immediately develops an air of hysteria should anyone try to investigate or critisize his actions. It is time to realize that the Dharma is still the Dharma even if one very popular political leader is not a perfect practitioner. If the Dharma is to survive in this world, we need to be able to take an honest look at how it is being represented and promoted in the world. Especially when the use of political power to enforce a sectarian agenda is involved.

There are many non-political spiritual guides teaching the pure Dharma of the Nyingma, Sakya and Kagyu traditions, as well as the Ganden tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. If we rely on our teachers and forget worldly motivations, the Dharma will thrive here in the west and throughout the world.

I am interested to see if anyone can explain this one to me. Here are the Dalai Lama’s own words…

“Anyway, Ling Rinpoche’s opposition to me receiving the transmission of that Tantra was based upon his fear of Dolgyal. Therefore, what happened was that though I wanted to take that Tantra, because of someone’s fear of Dolgyal, I was unable to. My rights to freedom of religious choice were thus violated.”
-The Dalai Lama,  Second Gelug Conference , Dharamsala, 6 December 2000

So the Dalai Lama is here claiming that his Tantric spiritual guide was afraid of “Dolgyal,” a pejorative way of referring to Dorje Shugden.

“When I generate faith in the precious Dharma, I generate real faith in the precious Buddha. And I also have genuine faith in the qualified followers of the Buddha. The statement that if you have pure refuge, you will not be harmed either by humans or non-humans, is definitive.”
– A talk on Dholgyal by H.H. the Dalai Lama , Dharamsala, October 1997

Any yet here, the Dalai Lama is saying that someone with Refuge has no need to fear spirits. So what is he saying? That Ling Rinpoche doesn’t understand this? Why would Ling Rinpoche be afraid of “Dolgyal?”

In his book Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist, Stephen Batchelor recounts an interesting story about Ling Rinpoche…Kyabje Yongdzin Ling Rinpoche

“Shortly before I left Dharamsala, Ani Jampa, an English Buddhist nun, asked me to translate for her in an interview with Ling Rinpoche, the senior Tutor of the Dalai Lama. She explained to Rinpoche that she would shortly be leaving India to visit other countries in Asia and asked if he could provide her with a Sung-du– a knotted protection string- to ward off the influence of harmful spirits. Ling Rinpoche chuckled and said that all she needed to do was to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (community). If she sincerely entrusted herself to these three guiding principles, which are commitments common to all Buddhists, that would be sufficient to protect her against whatever harmful influences she might encounter.”
-Batchelor, 2010, Pg 209

So, obviously, Ling Rinpoche was not afraid of “Dolgyal,” something that would be immediately obvious to anyone who knows who this lama was. Moreover, Ling Rinpoche was incredibly devoted to his root guru, the renowned lama Pabongka Rinpoche, whose main protector was Dorje Shugden.  There can be no question that he never feared  the protector of his own spiritual guide, who he loved and revered. It seems the Dalai Lama is setting a new precedent for relating to one’s Guru,  a tradition in a style not seen before in the Vajrayana.

So what are we left to conclude? The Dalai Lama says Ling Rinpoche was afraid of spirits.  It seems that either Dalai Lama is lying, or he sincerely believed that his own spiritual guide had no refuge, and therefore is not even a Buddhist. Either way, it is not a pretty picture.

Is there something I am missing here? Is there another conclusion? We all want to see the Dalai Lama as a great man, but how can we, as honest and sincere spiritual practitioners, understand this behavior?

Please feel free to comment, and as always,  scholars and yogis, please check.

A Sakya Tale- The Mahasiddha’s Prophesy

Imagine, if you will…

The year is 1849, and the Sakya temple known as Mugchug resounds with the sonorous tones of a great assembly of high Sakya lamas engaged in a special ritual practice. The Sakya Throneholder Tashi Rinchen, head of the entire Sakya tradition, is in attendance. In fact, the entire ritual practice has been requested by this Sakya Tri (Throneholder).

Sakya Temple

In the Sakya tradtion, the position of Throneholder passes from father to son. There are two main houses or “phodrang” from which a Sakya Tri may arise, Dolma phodrang and Phuntsog phodrang. These houses alternate such that when a Throneholder passes away and his sons are still in their minority,  a child of the previous Tri will take the throne, allowing the young potential-throneholders to mature and receive the training appropriate to a leader of the Sakya tradition. In this way, the Sakyas ensure the continuity of their tradition’s leadership.

As of this evening in 1849, however, Dolma Phodrang Thegchen Tashi Rinchen, Lord of the Sakyas, Thirty-Fifth Throneholder and supreme leader of the tradition, has no son.

Mahasiddha Pema Dudul

As the Dolma house line carries the most precious and esoteric teachings in the Sakya tradition (1), the situation is considered extremely grave.

Tashi Rinchen himself has requested Mahasiddha Padma Dudul, a very great Sakya master and incidentally both a retired Throneholder himself and also Tashi Rinchen’s father, to perform a ritual to ensure the swift birth of a male child. This is why the high lamas and tulkus have gathered this night. (2)

During a break in the ritual, eager to discover  any results, Tashi Rinchen turns to Mahasiddha Pema Dudul and asks him, “Who will come to take rebirth as my son?”

With joy, the great Mahasiddha replies….

These days times are so degenerate no-one else is coming, but now Grandpa Shugden himself will definitely come as your son!”

To be continued……

___________________

Notes:

1 Drogmi.org, Biography of the Present Sakya Trizin. I assume this refers mainly to the Lamdre tradition, the heart of the Tantric transmission of the Sakyas, which has been passed down through the masters of the Dolma phodrang.

2 Khri chen Drag shul ‘Phrin las rin chen. Rdo rje ‘chang drag shul ‘phrin las rin chen gyi rtogs brjod (The Autobiography of Khri-chen Drag-shul-phrin-las-rin-chen of Sakya). Dehra Dun: Sakya Centre: 1974, pp. 29-31.

A Sakya Tale (Part Three)- Dorje Shugden, the Great Compassionate One

Sakya Lineage

(Continued fromabove…)

In 1871 Kunga Nyingpo had his own son, Dragshul Trinley Rinchen. Dragshul Trinley Rinchen grew up to become the 39th Holder of the Sakya Throne.

In his autobiography, this lama explained that his father Kunga Nyingpo was Avalokiteshvara. In order to prove this, he recounted the story about Mahasiddha Pema Dudul and Trinley Rinchen detailed above and then wrote

The Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden Tsel definitively is Avalokiteshvara. The Nyingma Tantra Rinchen Nadun says “The one known as Dolgyal is not mistaken on the path to liberation, he is by nature the Great Compassionate One,” which establishes this by scripture.

The Great Je Sakyapa Kunga Nyingpo is well-known as an incarnation of the Arya Lotus in Hand (Avalokiteshvara). The Arya Lotus in Hand definitively is none other than the Lord of Mandalas, but provisionally by assuming the manner of a tenth level bodhisattva he simultaneously sports billions of superior, middling and inferior emanations to accomplish immeasurable benefit for beings, such as setting them on paths to the higher realms and liberation. (2)

Thus in order to show that his father was Avalokiteshvara, he set out to show that his father was well-known to have been an emanation of Dorje Shugden, and then demonstrated with a quotation from Nyingma tantra that Dorje Shugden and Avalokiteshvara are the same person.

As further demonstrated in his Autobiography, Dragshul Trinley Rinchen was a practitioner of Dorje Shugden as well, and was considered to be “a very great Sakya master, one of the most outstanding masters in our recent time.” (1)

So when we consider the relationship of the Sakya Tradition to the Practice of Dorje Shugden we see that, contrary to the claims of some present-day Sakya Lamas, for more than three hundred years Dorje Shugden has been viewed in Sakya as an Enlightened protector. Not among the provincial practitioners or those without education, but by the Throneholders of the lineage, and the holders of the Sakya’s most precious Tantric transmissions, Lamdre Lineage holders like Morchen Dorjechang who wrote praises to Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being. 


When the leader of an entire Buddhist tradition says “Dorje Shugden is definitively Avolkiteshvara,” it seems to me to be difficult to make the claim, as some have tried to do in the debates over this issue, that the great Sakya masters never viewed Dorje Shugden as anything other than a spirit. In fact it seems that there has been an unbroken tradition of the practice of Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector from the early 1700’s right through modern times.

It is easy to understand that most lamas don’t write about their Dharma protector practices, which have traditionally been in the nature of secrecy. It isn’t unreasonable, therefore, to assume that there were many masters other than the ones enumerated here that held Dorje Shugden as their protector and as a fully enlightened being. 


Since this material is so readily available, it seems odd that the Dalai Lama, who has attempted to ban this practice as “spirit worship,” doesn’t seem to be aware of it. He doesn’t list the views of these great masters when recounting the results of his research, at any rate.

What could the reason for this oversight possibly be?


A list of the supreme heads of the Sakya Lineage who can be shown to have viewed Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being:

  • 30th Sakya Throneholder Sonam Rinchen (1705-1741)
  • 31st Throneholder Sachen Kunga Lodro (1729-1783)
  • 33rd Throneholder Padma Dudul Wangchug (1792-1853)
  • 35th Throneholder Tashi Rinchen (1824-1865)
  • 37th Throneholder Kunga Nyingpo (1850-1899)
  • 39th Throneholder Dragshul Thinley Rinchen (1871-1936)

__________________________________________________________________

…..For more information on past masters who relied on Dorje Shugden as an enlightened protector, please consult Dorjeshugdenhistory.org

1. Gonsar Rinpoche, 1996, Public Talk

2. Khri chen Drag shul ‘Phrin las rin chen. Rdo rje ‘chang drag shul ‘phrin las rin chen gyi rtogs brjod (The Autobiography of Khri-chen Drag-shul-phrin-las-rin-chen of Sakya). Dehra Dun: Sakya Centre: 1974, pp. 29-31.

Think it over.

Trijang Dorjechang

Trijang Dorjechang

“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

101st Ganden Tripa Leaves Ganden Shartse to Join Dorje Shugden Monastery

Dorje Shugden practitioners have known for some time that Khensur Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche, the 101st holder of Je Tsongkhapa’s throne, or Ganden Tripa, is a practitioner of this protector.

101st Ganden Tripa Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche

It has been very interesting nonetheless, to watch what has happened as he has left office, his official seven year term completed. The Ganden Tripas have been the heads of the Gelugpa lineage since the time of Je Tsongkhapa. Perhaps it is interesting to note that the Ganden Tripa has traditionally been an elected position from within the monastery system of the Gelug tradition, but at some point since 1999, the Dalai Lama has inserted himself into the process, and the head of the Gelug tradition is now appointed by this political leader of Tibetans.

As Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche was nearing the end of his term in April of 2009, he did a remarkable thing. He wrote a letter.

Leaving no doubt as to his authority to do so,

I, the undersigned, Lungri Namgyel, the official head of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism (Ganden Tripa) and successor to the said order’s founder, Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), whose headquarters are Ganden Monastery in Karnataka state, south India

the Ganden Tripa conferred upon Trijang Rinpoche and his Trijang Buddhist Institute, “the authority to represent and transmit the teachings of the Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism in the United States.”

The previous Trijang Rinpoche, Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe, was the greatest master of the previous century, and the Root Guru of the Dalai Lama. The current recognized reincarnation fo Trijang Rinpoche, recognized as such by the Dalai Lama, is a well known Dorje Shugden Practitoner like his predecessor, and his Trijang Buddhist Institute openly continues the practice in the United States.

For those who know little about this issue, it may not seem like much, but for anyone aware of the severe social and political penalties in Tibetan society for publicly going against the wishes of the Dalai Lama, it is a statement of tremendous import, not to mention courage. The fact that the Ganden Tripa waited until he was completing his career as a head of the tradition to make such a statement is also rather telling. It shows that while he held the office, it simply would have been too controversial. The Ganden Tri would likely have been removed from his office by the Government. That he had to wait until he was no longer subject to the Dalai Lama’s control to express his views, is indicative of the air of intimidation created by the Tibetan Government in Exile. For more detail on this topic, see Ganden Tripa Authorizes Trijang Buddhist Institute.

But it seems the story doesn’t end there. The latest news from South India is that the Ganden Trisur (the epithet Trisur refers to a retired Ganden Tripa such as Lungri Namgyal Rinpoche) has officially left Ganden Shartse, a monastery under the control of the Tibetan Government in Exile, for Shar Ganden Monastery. Shar Ganden is a new monastery that has recently been formed by those monks and lamas that have been expelled or otherwise made unwelcome at Ganden Shartse. It proudly and openly upholds the tradition of practicing Dorje Shugden as a wisdom protector of Manjushri Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings.

Shar Ganden Monastery, South India

Thousands of practitioners have left the traditional monasteries where they are subjected to bans, harassment and repression by the government and its enforcers, to join monasteries like Shar Ganden and Serpom Norling, a monastery formed from the practitioners previously associated with the Pomra Khangtsen of Sera monastery. These new monasteries are increasingly seen as the actual repositories of the Ganden tradition, free from Government interference, and many high lamas and tulkus have left the Government’s monasteries to join them.

Now, in a shocking move, the most recent head of the Ganden tradition along with his Labrang, or office, has joined them. The Ganden Trisur’s personal assistant related that, in the words of one member of the Dorje Shugden Forum,

HH Trisur Rinpoche had to wait this long until the term of office as Gaden Tripa completed to MAKE THIS MOVE BECAUSE IF HE HAD MADE THIS MOVE EARLIER, THE DALAI LAMA WOULD HAVE REMOVED HIM FROM OFFICE. And that would not be good for the Gelug on the whole. NOW THAT HE HAS FINISHED HIS TERM, HE CAN DO WHAT HE LIKES. NO ONE CAN TOUCH HIM, DISTURB HIM OR DISGRACE HIS POSITION. INCREDIBLE PLANNING. THIS WAS RELAYED BY HIS PERSONAL ASSISTANT!

It seems that the current Trijang Rinpoche and his entire office have also joined Shar Ganden Monastery.

Above all, it is sadly ironic that great Gelug Lamas like the Ganden Tripa and Trijang Rinpoche, whose previous incarnations include several Ganden Tripas, have had to leave Ganden Monastery in order to uphold Je Tsongkhapa’s lineage when Je Tsongkhapa established Ganden Monastery for precisely this purpose.

Has it ever been more clear that religion and politics should not be mixed? The brilliant founding fathers of the United States gave this gift to the people of this country, and this policy is also enshrined in the guiding documents of many of the most influential and prosperous western democracies. May the Tibetan people too gain the privilege of engaging in their spiritual practices without the ominous shadow of government control obscuring the light of religious freedom.

The Dalai Lama’s ‘Research’ Concerning Past Masters and Dorje Shugden

When the Dalai Lama speaks out against the practice of Dorje Shugden, he often describes how he came to renounce his own practice of this deity, a practice he engaged in for a quarter-century. In these speeches, he inevitably mentions his own “thorough research.” Due to this reference, repeated over and over again, most people already inclined to believe the Dalai Lama are mollified, and are therefore disinclined to look into the matter further.

As an example, consider this introduction on the Dalai Lama’s own website…

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Advice Concerning Dolgyal (Shugden)
Following long and careful investigations, His Holiness the Dalai Lama strongly discourages Tibetan Buddhists from propitiating the fierce spirit known as Dolgyal (Shugden)….

and from the Dalai Lama’s talk at Lehigh University in July 2008.

During the Fifth Dalai Lama this problem started. From 1951 to the early 70’s, I myself was a worshipper of this spirit, so actually, previously, I was also one of them….Then around early 70’s..using different sort of methods to investigate, also reading the biographies of past many great masters, mainly the lamas of the yellow hat sect, …suppose if this Shugden is truly reliable, most of the great lamas after the fifth Dalai Lama, then I think must practice….but this is not the case. So….I developed some doubt.  Then…thorough investigation, then it became clear.

So, what are the results of all this thorough research? What did the Dalai Lama discover amongst the thousands of works written by the great masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition?

Let’s take a look.

Three of the seven “historical references” listed on the Dalai Lama’s website refer to works that do not even mention Dorje Shugden. Of the remaining references, one is by Je Pabongka, one of the most well-know advocates of Dorje Shugden practice. Another is from the Fifth Dalai Lama, although it is believed by many that he later retracted this opinion and changed his view, composing prayers to Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being. The final mention is by one “Jigme Damchoe Gyatso” and is hardly compelling. It is also rejected by several important contemporary Lamas, such as Lama Zopa and Zong Rinpoche.

However, this does not stop the Dalai Lama and his government from citing the many “references” they have found, and representing them as being about Dorje Shugden when they are not.

Trichen Ngawang Chogden

Trichen Ngawang Chogden

This extraordinary master was the root guru of Kelsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama. He was also the 54th Ganden Tripa, head of the Gelugpa Tradition. The view that this Lama spoke out against the practice of Dorje Shugden is derived from an episode in his biography written by Chankya Rolpai Dorje, another highly renowned Lama of the Gelug tradition. This Biography, however, never mentions Dorje Shugden. Instead, it talks about a local spirit known as Taktse Gyalpo.

The incident (the Dalai Lama) refers to is narrated in Changya’s biography of Trichen Ngawang Chogden. An evil monk spirit (rgyal.’gong) from Dragsob (brag.sob) who was invoked by some active Lama retired from his monastic office (bla.zur) and a Khamtsen at Ganden. They built a wayside shrine for this spirit in the circumambulation path of Ganden.

Trichen Ngawang Chogden declared this unsuitable. He said that since the time of Je Tsong Khapa and his disciples no worldly spirits were worshiped at his [Ganden] monastery and that in future this would also not be permitted. When that spirit was invoked through an oracle, he said that since the Trichen Rinpoche had said this, he had no choice but to leave and he excused himself and left for Taktse-Shöl. The Lama retired from his monastic office who had relied on that evil spirit died soon after as punishment by Kalarupa [one of Je Tsong Khapa’s protectors]. There is no reference to Dorje Shugden in this passage . The evil monk spirit (rgyal.’gong) was continued to be worshiped as a local deity at the place where he came from.

-Ursula Bernis,  Condemned to Silence A Tibetan Identity Crisis, 1999

The reason this spirit from went back to “the place where he came from,” Taktse, an estate not far from Ganden Monastery, is because the spirit referred to in this verse is Taktse Gyalpo, a local spirit said to have been the spirit of a monk who died in bad circumstances.

In this biography master Changya clearly mentions what Trichen Ngawang Chogden has expelled is a ‘Gyalpo’, instead of ‘Dolgyal’. ‘Gyalpo’ is a general name used for all the deities and spirits born as incarnation of former lamas or monks. Therefore hundreds of Gyalpos exist in the Tibetan pantheon, and the term does not only apply to the Dolgyal. The name Dolgyal is a short term for ‘dol gyi gyalpo’. Dol is the name of a place, where the first temple of Dorje Shugden was erected by the 5th Dalai Lama.

-Dorje Shugden Charitable Societey, Chronicle, 2008.

So the original text says “Gyalpo,” and clearly refers to Taktse Gylapo, not Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden is not mentioned.

The Samlo department of Ganden monastery took over (the Taktse) estate, and with it, adopted that spirit of the estate as a protector deity of the department. It was then worshipped in the Ganden monastery in their department for some time, until it was expelled by the great master Trichen Ngawang Chogden, who at that time was the throne-holder of Ganden. The spirit was sent back to its estate, where it was worshipped by the villagers until 1959.

-Chronicle

The recognized reincarnation of Trichen Ngawang Chogden was called Trichen Tenpa Rabgya. Tenpa Rabgya was a Geshe lharampa from Sera Monastery, and became the tutor to Changkya Yeshe Tenpai Gyaltsen, the reincarnation of Chankya Rolpai Dorje. Among his teachers were such luminaries as Panchen Lama Palden Yeshe and Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen. Tenpa Rabgya was a famous practitioner of Dorje Shugden, and wrote praises and rituals for his practice, requesting him to come from the “wisdom Dharmakaya,” clearly indicating his view that Dorje Shugden was a Buddha.

“An Unbelievable Expert on All Subjects…”

Sermey Jetsun Khen Rinpoche Losang Tharchin on Pabonka Rinpoche

Dalai Lama, Corje Shugden, NKT, Kadampa Tradition

Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Lharampa, ex-Abbot Sera Monastery

KYABJE PABONGKA RINPOCHE DECHEN NYINGPO and his classmate, Gyelrong Sharpa Choje—known as Jangsem Choje Lobsang Nyima—went together very often to debate when they were at their monastery. Indeed, both of them became Geshes. Later Jangsem Choje Lobsang Nyima entered Gyu Me Tantric College and became a great scholar. He proceeded to become gi-go, an administrator, as I did, then Lama Umdze, then Abbot, and finally almost reached the position of Ganden Tripa.

Pabongka Rinpoche Kyabje Dechen Nyingpo’s life proceeded in another direction such that he was later to become a very famous teacher of Sutra and Tantra, especially of the Lam Rim (Stages of the Path to Enlightenment) tradition. Whenever he taught, many people came from miles and miles around to attend his teachings. Everybody said he was an unbelievable expert on all subjects.

Later, when Lobsang Nyima had learned that Kyabje Dechen Nyingpo was going to be in nearby Chusang Ritro, his curiousity piqued from having heard so much relating to Kyabje Pabongka’s fame coming from all quarters, he decided to visit him and so he brought along a pot of excellent yogurt as a gift for Rinpoche. During that visit they met for a long time discussing many points on numerous topics. Since Kyabje Pabongka had answered every one of his questions so thoroughly, Lobsang Nyima couldn’t argue with him at all on any of the points.

Upon his return, when others asked about the visit he remarked: “When we were on the debate ground at Sera Mey, Kyabje Dechen Nyingpo wasn’t an expert at debate by any means. At the time I didn’t think he had learned very much. But now I understand that his way of studying and mine went in different directions. For instance, when we debated, I for my part, would apply reasons and quotations to back up my arguments, all the time focusing on the other debater. But Kyabje Pabongka, for his part, when studying, asking questions, giving answers, reciting quotations, giving reasons, everything, would focus all of these on himself, applying them to his own mind. Therefore, by using such a method, there is no way to argue with him on any of the points since he has mastered them all.”