Lucy James, longtime NKT Kadam until April and now active with Internet and protest planning duties, has posted extended blog entries recently. Because Lucy is widely considered a senior intellect in NKT, these posts are fascinating for their skillful merging of Buddhist precepts and Shugden lore.
August 26, 2008
"Why not just ask another Deity or Buddha to protect us?! I have been relying upon this Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden for 27 years and have felt every day his beneficial influence in my life. I'll try and give some context here to help the general reader.
According to Mahayana Buddhism there are countless Buddhas, or enlightened beings, because everyone (Buddhist or not) always has the potential to perfect their love, compassion and wisdom. The Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden is one Buddha among many. Some people trying to figure it out have asked me, "Why the fuss about this particular Buddha? Why not just give into the Dalai Lama's wishes to stop the worship of this Buddha? Isn't all Buddhism the same?" This is equivalent to suggesting to a Franciscan that he stop making prayers to St. Francis. What may seem an obscure practice to others, including other Christians, is an essential part of others' faith.
But to understand the context, we can step back a moment to point out that Dorje Shugden practitioners are all Buddhists who rely on Buddha, Dharma (inner realizations of his teachings), and Sangha (the spiritual community). As Buddhists, we are dedicated to improving our inner qualities such as love, compassion and wisdom to find greater peace of mind and capacity to help others, culminating in the highest spiritual goal of enlightenment for the sake of all living beings. Along with that we are striving to overcome the so-called delusions in our mind, such as anger, greed, pride and ignorance, that cause our own and others' suffering. Lofty goals indeed! And that is where Dorje Shugden comes in. We need help if we are going to do this.
According to the Mahayana Buddhism of Tibet and elsewhere, Buddhas can appear in any form they choose -- they have mastered reality, the illusory nature of all phenomena, so they can do as they please! Some enlightened beings appear as teachers (in any tradition), some appear as Dharma Protectors, some appear as ordinary beings. Dorje Shugden is a Dharma Protector manifestation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri. He protects the Dharma of love, compassion and especially wisdom in our minds. His relatively wrathful aspect symbolizes his power to help us defeat the inner enemies of the delusions.
This tradition of prayer and worship is not a new thing. It is 400 years old.
For 400 years Dorje Shugden practitioners have made peaceful prayers to this Buddha. For example:
“Now is the time to protect the pitiful and protectorless;
Now is the time to protect Dharma practitioners as your children.”
This is an unbroken tradition of prayer that has been passed down to us through generations of highly accomplished Buddhist masters up to the present day. The Dalai Lama himself was a recipient of this tradition through his own masters, including the beloved Trijang Rinpoche, who taught him most of the Dharma he knows. Dorje Shugden is a Buddha and so his compassion protects all living beings, but his main job is to protect the realizations (inner spiritual experiences) of those who are sincerely trying to follow the tradition of Buddha Shakyamuni (500BC) as transmitted via the great Indian Buddhist master Atisha (982-1054AD) and the great Tibetan scholar and saint Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419AD). This is called the Ganden, or Gelug, or Kadampa tradition.
Just as there are many paths up the mountain, so there have always been many Buddhist traditions, all dating back to Buddha Shakyamuni (500BC). Dorje Shugden practitioners are not claiming to have the best tradition, just the one that works best for us. The Dalai Lama has broken with his masters and this tradition and now insists that everyone follow him along his own unchartered path.
Two words about the Yellow Book and why it was denounced: "superstitious claptrap".
Dorje Shugden is not a demon but a Buddha, a fully enlightened being."
August 30, 2008, responding to unfindable posts from Geezer
"I know Geezer has sabotaged this entire conversation (and the same with Meindert Gorter's other blogs) with his spam but I think it is good that it looks like no one is responding and stooping to his level.
The best way to deal with Geezer and other trolls or spammers is probably just to report them to the New Statesman. It says on their contact page:
To report comments on articles or to make a complaint about New Statesman content please email: email@example.com."
September 18, 2008, responding to a blogger's questions
"Thank you for your questions, it's good to explore these issues deeply.
There are many Buddhist practices that are not referred to in the Sutras and Tantras but that arose due to enlightened activity after Buddha's passing. For example, the Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa is not included in the Sutras and Tantras, but many practitioners have attained realizations through practising it. The close lineage of the Mahamudra instructions that are practised by Tsongkhapa's disciples are also not included in the Sutras and Tantras of Buddha Shakyamuni and Buddha Vajradhara, yet they were passed down from Manjushri directly to Je Tsongkhapa and then to a succession of lineage Gurus to the present day. Through practising these instructions, many of these Gurus attained enlightenment in three years and three months.
However, it's not just Je Tsongkhapa's tradition that relies on Buddhist practices that were not originally taught by Buddha Shakyamuni. The Nyingma (and Sakya) traditions rely upon Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche, whose practice is not included in the original Sutras and Tantras, including his mantra. Nyingmapas also rely on “termas” or “hidden treasure texts” that were not taught directly by Buddha, and the practice of Dzogchen that is very popular these days was also not taught by Buddha Shakyamuni, yet it is found to be effective by those who practise it. As in the expression, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, we can know if a practice is authentic if the meaning of its content can be traced to the Sutras and Tantras (such as is the case with Lama Chopa or Offering to the Spiritual Guide) and if, by relying on it with faith, we receive realizations. The efficacy and authenticity of Dorje Shugden practice is well known to those who rely upon it, including a huge number of great and “saintly” (as Stephen Batchelor puts it) Gelugpa Lamas.
Gelugpas and Sakyas have been relying upon Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Protector for four hundred years. The Fifth Dalai Lama established the Temple of Trode Kangsar for him, wrote a praise to him and made a statue of him with his own hands. The Eleventh Dalai Lama enthroned Dorje Shugden as an enlightened Potector of the Ganden tradition and this tradition has continued until the present day.
Obviously the practice of relying on the Wisdom Buddha in the form of Dorje Shugden has been passed down through the generations because it still exists intact today, but I don't have the names of the Teachers who transmitted it. Perhaps they are the Gelug lineage Gurus from the time of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen. If anyone is reading this and would like to contribute more accurate historical information, it would be appreciated.
As I understand it, the present close lineage practice of Dorje Shugden that we rely upon was given to Tagpo Kelsang Khedrub Rinpoche by Dorje Shugden himself in Tushita Pure Land. He then passed it on to Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo, who passed it on to Trijang Dorjechang Losang Yeshe, who passed it on to his disciples, including Trijang Dorjechang, Zong Rinpoche, Tomo Geshe, and others, including my own Spiritual Guide Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche. It is from these precious Lamas that we have received the lineage of instruction.
If it seems difficult to accept that these instructions come from Tushita Pure Land, we can look to the tradition of teaching the texts of Maitreya -- such as 'Sublime Continuum of the Great Vehicle' and 'Ornament for Clear Realizations' -- which were given to Asanga by Maitreya in Tushita. This is accepted by faithful Buddhist scholars, so in reality there's nothing strange in asserting this. Just as Je Tsongkhapa received the instructions on the Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa and the close lineage of the Mahamudra directly from Manjushri, so Tagpo Kelsang Khedrub Rinpoche received the instructions on Dorje Shugden practice directly from Dorje Shugden. Both these practices are taught in the Gelugpa tradition by great Masters who are themselves living embodiments of the benefits of relying on these practices, so there is no need to doubt them.
The superstition comes from how the book (Yellow Book of Zemey Rinpoche) is read. If you take the stories of the Yellow Book too literally, they can make you overly superstitious – witness Namkhai Norbu advising his students to wear protection cords and wave mudras at Dorje Shugden practitioners to protect themselves.
Also, on E-Sangha, some posters were recently making the point that if you keep the book 'Heart Jewel' written by Geshe Kelsang, which contains the practice of Dorje Shugden, you are encouraging the spirit to hang around you and so it would be best to get rid of it.
These views are just as sectarian as claiming that Dorje Shugden will harm you if you even touch a Nyingma text. In some Tibetan Buddhists' minds, Dorje Shugden is the modern day equivalent of the bogey man. Although such views seem laughably superstitious, it is possible that a misunderstanding or literal reading of the Yellow Book can lead to them, which is why it does more harm than good
Personally I think the confusion over the Yellow Book comes from failing to understand that these kinds of stories are just that -- stories. Every religion has stories and parables that are not intended to be taken literally but designed to help the reader or listener lead a better life. Did Jonah really set up his home in a whale's stomach? Was Sarah really turned to a pillar of salt when she turned to look back at her town? If a Dorje Shugden practitioner stubs his toe when he picks up a Dzogchen text, is that really because he is being “punished”? Buddhas don’t work that way. Our suffering comes from our own karma.
I don’t subscribe to the Yellow Book and nor does my teacher Geshe Kelsang. The only person who keeps bringing it up is the Dalai Lama as a justification for banning the practice of Dorje Shugden and criticizing Gelugpa “sectarianism”.
Why did Zemey Rinpoche write it? I don’t know. Perhaps as a warning, Tibetan-style, to the Dalai Lama and other Gelugpa teachers not to try to mix Je Tsongkhapa's teachings with other traditions, thereby destroying the special qualities of both. The 14th Dalai Lama had already attempted to merge the different schools or sects of Buddhism together in 1961 but was blocked by the Thirteen Tibetan Settlements led by the 16th Kamarpa.
Anyway, if it was intended as a warning, it clearly has backfired as the Dalai Lama has gone ahead and mixed the traditions together anyway. He has every right to do that for himself, but not to impose his views on everyone else in the political heavy-handed way that he is doing. This, to me, is a far greater sectarian crime than writing a yellow book."
There were, of course, refutations of Lucy's Shugden and Yellow Book commentary. For example, no Sakya Lama has ever relied upon Shugden as a wisdom protector, while there were some prayers to Shugden not as a Buddha but as a worldly protector the present Sakya Trizen ended this practice, that Tagpo received instructions from Shugden means that Tagpo was talking with himself since Gyatso claims that Tagpo was a Shugden incarnation, Shugen's purpose to harm and kill non-believers in the Yellow Book was corroborated by Pabongkha and Dorje Trijang, The Dalai Lama is dedicated as leader of the Tibetan people to harmonize not merging the schools of Tibetan Buddhism, etc. And, of course, several Shugdenites called these refutations lies. Nevertheless, Lucy's romanticized characterization of Shugden blatantly contradicts Pabongkha's Shugden purpose and Stephen Batchelor's 1998 article revewed elsewhere on this web site.
About Shugden, Dorje Trijang wrote in his notes of Pabongkha's teachings:
"This protector of the doctrine is extremely important for holding Tshongkhapa's tradition without mixing and corrupting it with confusions due to the great violence and speed of his actions, which fall like lightening to punish violently all those beings who have wronged the Yellow Hat tradition, whether they are high or low. This protector is also particularly significant with respect to the fact that many from our own side, monks or lay people, high or low, are not content with Tsongkhapa's tradition, which is like pure gold, and have mixed and corrupted this tradition with the mistaken views and practices from other schools which are tenet systems that are reputed to be incredibly profound and amazingly fast but are in reality mistakes among mistakes, falulty, dangerous and misleading paths. In regard to this situation, this protector of the doctrine, this witness, manifests his own form of a variety of unbearable manifestations of terrifying and frightening wrathful and fierce appearances. Due to that, a variety of events, some of them having happened or happening, some of which have been heard or seen, seem to have taken place: some people become unhinged and mad, some have a heart attack and suddenly die, some see through a variety of inauspicious signs their wealth, accumulated possessions and descendants disappear without leaving a trace, like a pond whose feeding river has ceased, whereas some find it difficult to achieve anything in successive lifetimes."
Superstion as Lucy contends or Factual as the author contends?
Lucy's view is not shared by other Shugdenites. Lucy's guru and self-proclaimed chief Shugdenite, Gyatso, wrote in his book about Shugden, Heart Jewel, "In general, there are many people who are harmed by spirits ... These spirits enter into people’s bodies, causing them to become insane, interfering with their spiritual development, or causing untimely death." This comment of Gyatso is consistent with Pabongkha's view of Shugden's purpose (see preceding paragraph) and the view of other Shugdenites (see next paragraph).
According to Shugdenites at dorjeshugden.com,
"The much talked about “yellow book” contains stories of what happened to people who “displeased” Dorje Shugden, which means to say, they were practitioners of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition and of Dorje Shugden as Dharma protector who did not heed his repeated advice and warnings not to mix and pollute the teachings. Sickness, insanity and death ensued. The book was compiled by Tzeme Rinpoche, an eminent lineage holder, and we can therefore assume that these accounts are more than mere pedagogy, but actually happened the way they are told. (As a consequence of the scandal following the printing of the yellow book, Tzeme Rinpoche has ceased to teach. A famous disciple of Tzeme Rinpoche is Dr. Thupten Jinpa, HH the Dalai Lama’s main translator.)"
Notably, NKT also claims that The Dalai Lama is NOT a Buddhist, and "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."
Lucy on YouTube - Is Anger Worth It? (no)
and, Part 2
"...they get into the bath with us...there they are in bed with us...we've ended up married to it...anger never works...a mind of ignorance...anger is a deluded mind...we exaggerate its bad qualities...all we can think of is just chomping teeth...we entirely neglect to think anything good..."
NKT's Anger on Parade
The perspective taken in this web site is that other than Lucy's Shugden and Yellow Hat feelings (i.e., that Shugden is a Buddha and the Yellow Book was merely a warning parable rather than a literal document of a high Lama writing what he was told by even higher Lamas, e.g., Dorje Trijang), Lucy is mostly correct about traditional tenets of Buddhism. As Lucy says, "As Buddhists, we are dedicated to improving our inner qualities such as love, compassion and wisdom to find greater peace of mind and capacity to help others, culminating in the highest spiritual goal of enlightenment for the sake of all living beings." Lucy's description of Dharma as inner realizations of Shakyamuni's teachings rather than the scriptures per se is thought provoking.
As long as it is not harmful, different religions should be permitted to practice as they wish whether this 'right' is protected by law or not (for example, Shugdenism is being forced onto the people of Tibet by the communist Chinese government in order to diminish the rightful leadership of The Dalai Lama, thus forcing loyalty to the Chinese government instead of The Dalai Lama). If The Dalai Lama realized in the mid 1970s that his boyhood teachings about Shugden were wrong, The Dalai Lama has the religious freedom to not be bound for life to his early (incorrect) instructions as Shugdenites and NKT demand (The Dalai Lama's early instructions from his junior tutor Dorje Trijang contradicted the beliefs of previous Dalai Lamas who did not consider Shugden or his purported prior incarnations as Buddhas or to include Tsongkhapa). If Buddhist monsteries or sects elect not to worship who they consider are false gods and demons (e.g., Shugden), they have the religious freedom to do so. If Shugdenites, led by NKT, wish to worship Shugden in their communities, they should have the religious freedom to do so - as long as it is not harmful.
However, NKT does not have the right to dictate to Tibetan Buddhists, the Tibetan people, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Tibetan Buddhist sects and schools not subscribing to NKT's version of Shugden, The Dalai Lama (who is, other than by NKT and other spiteful Shugdenites, a universally admired head of state and spiritual leader), the Tibetan Government in Exile or the government of India, which graciously invited the exiled Tibetans subjugated by the communist invasion of Tibet in the 1950s. NKT does not have the right to dictate the religious precepts of others. Moreover, NKT does not have the right to spew such vitriol against The Dalai Lama and particularly since April 2008 against other respected Buddhist Lamas and a half dozen individual Buddhists. These living beings have religious AND human rights being ridiculed by Gyatso and his renegade cult, NKT.
If Shugden worshipers want a religion that - without harming others, the historical modus operandi of Shugden - wishes to worship Shugden, create one. NKT may be your vehicle (but, do not question them and be cautious around their abusive clergy).
However, in the process, please do not soil the 2,500 year history of Buddhism and drive away innocent observers of your Shugden protests from the Buddhist path. There is no mara more demonous than your conduct.
"As Buddhists, we are dedicated to improving our inner qualities such as love, compassion and wisdom to find greater peace of mind and capacity to help others, culminating in the highest spiritual goal of enlightenment for the sake of all living beings." (Lucy James, August 26, 2008)
Also in August, Lucy James created another web site, her Google Knol. Interestingly, Lucy James refers to herself as a Kadam even though she was fired from her post in April by Gyatso. This Lucy James web site is pro-Buddhist, in contrast to her assaulting web sites and posts against The Dalai Lama and NKT's analysts and critics.
Regarding any NKT follower posting anything on the Internet, they regularly dismiss the edict from Gyatso himself (clearly, the edict was disingenuous as is Gyatso's act of lamb while operating like a wolf)
"Some small group in our NKT society engage in meaningless activity on the internet, not only Sangha, some lay. This is incorrect. We are Kadampa practitioners, Kadampa Teachers. Why are we enjoying meaningless activity, discussion? We can have a meaningful discussion with pure practitioners or senior practitioners, Teachers. There is no meaning in talking about silly things publicly on the internet. Instead, make meaningful discussion with our pure practitioners, senior Teachers. Please give my message to the individuals of this group. Stop this kind of actions. Gen-la Khyenrab, give my message in email or writing. Stop meaningless discussion on the internet. If you wish, do meaningful discussion with senior Teachers or pure practitioners, or meaningful discussion with your Teacher. No meaning engaging in silly question and answers on the internet. Please Gen-la Khyenrab, pass my message. I am telling you for your purpose and our society's purpose. In this way, keep individuals and society pure and show very good example."
If NKT would heed this edict and terminate its assault of The Dalai Lama, various other Buddhists and Buddhism, what a better world this would be.
"I have been studying and practicing meditation and Buddhism for 27 years under the guidance of my teacher Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. I have edited twenty Buddhist meditation books, some of them bestsellers. I have taught meditation and Buddhism extensively in Buddhist Centers throughout the UK, in San Francisco and in Florida. I have a BA degree in English and a PGCE postgraduate degree. I spent several years of my childhood in Sri Lanka, where I first developed an interest in Buddhism."