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anti-Buddhist?

 
 
NKT RESPONDS TO NKTWORLD

I have been reading your NKT World web-site. I must admit that I am grateful to you for making available to me the letter from Steve Wass and Geshe-la's reply which I had been unable to find previously.

In general the mistake you make is to conflate two separate issues - the character of the NKT as an organisation and the correctness or otherwise of the protests of the WSS. This is an unfortunate mistake as it is impossible to judge whether of not the protests are justified in this manner, but only by an objective examination of the claims of human rights abuse made by the protestors.

The vilification and persecution of Dorje Shugden worshippers within the Tibetan exile community is very real. There are many independent sources which have verified this. Have you read the web-site of the Dorje Shugden Devotees in India? I suggest that you do so. In particular you should read the research work of Ursula Bernis who examined this issue in great detail between 1996 and 1999.

During the WSS protests in Nantes I spoke with an Italian woman of Vietnamese descent who has recently been to Southern India and has filmed forty hours of video footage documenting the reality of oppression and intimidation within the exile community. The plight of the Dorje Shugden worshippers is truly pitiful and all Buddhists and people of good-will should have compassion for them. Anyone who has read the classic novel Uncle Tom's Cabin will have some sense of what it means for someone to try to maintain their faith in the face of fierce adversity. The plight of the Dorje Shugden worshippers is like that of Uncle Tom: "....though he held firmly to the rock of faith it was with numb and trembling grip." Thankfully Uncle Tom triumphed over those who would crush his faith and reduce him to moral bankruptcy, and I hope and pray that Dorje Shugden worshippers will likewise triumph over those who wish to deny them their faith, reputation, and self-belief.

The Western Shugden Society is engaging in the practice of non-violent resistance in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King said that the person of non-violent resistance tries to balance the truths of two opposites. It agrees with the man of violence that evil must be resisted, but balances this by also agreeing with the man of acquiescence that evil must not be resisted by means of physical force. You should also know that it is not without reservation that NKT people have engaged in the WSS protests. I think that almost all of us have some sense of reservation about engaging in this activity. Am I admitting that we are wrong or might be? I think that I am admitting that it can't be said to be obvious that the activities of the WSS are right. However, I also believe that on the basis of a thorough understanding of the issues i.e. the reality of persecution within the exile community, and on the basis of a thoughtful consideration of the options available, and a thoughtful consideration of the philosophy of non-violence resistance, the case for these protests can be made, I think conclusively.

I would like to say a warm hello to my good friend Mo who has made a sincere and responsible contribution to this web-site. Mo is right to say that the case for protest activity isn't made explicitly within Geshe-la's books. For this reason I am drawing people attention to the writings of Martin Luther King who makes these points more explicitly.

Perhaps you would like to consider publishing this small contribution to provide a different perspective and to stimulate further discussion.

 

Editor's Note
These comments are appreciated. There is little doubt that Shugden worshipers are vilivied by much of the rest of the world's community, particularly by Tibetans who are loyal to The Dalai Lama, their temporal leader of a 'country' in exile since 1959, by way of patriotic duty and who consider The Dalai Lama their spiritual leader and an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. This vilification is reminiscent of that against minority groups and political competitors.

However, political protests by purported Buddhists are profoundly antithetical and counterproductive, e.g., when NKT monks and nuns dressed as Tibetan Buddhist clergy protest against leaders of Tibetan Buddhism and criticize its followers for their religious preferences. The protests portray anger, power envy and what most viewers consider offensive and something to be avoided. NKT's vilification of The Dalai Lama and NKT's critics and biographers is exceedingly hurtful.

Importantly, WSS is intimately connected with NKT, effectively portraying a bipoar disease. What WSS does reflects the character of NKT. Political protests of purported Buddhists against genuine Buddhists is never justified.

This is a deeply troubling situation. Moreover, Gyatso's management of these protests is extremely off message for NKT's beneficial promise (even if it considers Tibetan Buddhism degenerate and only it offers the world the only pure form of Buddhism).

Shugdenites and NKT would accomplish far greater results by practicing Buddhism, or at least project an inspiring example to the world of their faith in the ethereal Shugden. Greater faith in Shakyamuni, Avalokiteshvara and Tsongkhapa is urged, or better yet, explore and live their insights in wonder and in union.

Presumably, the author of the above essay refers to the following web link when recommending the reading of Ursula Bernis' work, Shugden Issue - Bernis Research - Shuden Society, Delhi, which notes, "It is commonly known that the Dalai Lama is still the religious and political head of Tibetans...China is doing whatever it can to destabilize the exile community, discredit the Dalai Lama worldwide...The unusual circumstances of exile require atypical solutions to social and political problems...The Indian police and legal systems have often proven to be corrupt and Tibetans do not trust them...The institution of Dalai Lama has emerged today as the only unifying factor...Yet Tibetans have been a genuine source for spiritual discovery in the last decades for many people around the world, and the Dalai Lama a powerful source of inspiration...There are a number of religious issues embedded in Tibetan political and social problems that take some effort to extricate. The one I found especially striking in its impenetrable abstruseness is the Dorje Shugden...Chinese authorities, ever on the lookout to embarrass the Dalai Lama and to disparage his followers, did not waste time in 1996 to seize the issue to serve their divisive ends...Although different views about him were known in Tibet, in exile, this Dharmapala became demonized in unprecedented ways even for Tibetans...Amnesty International specified recently that there had been no human rights violations -- torture, death penalty, extra-judicial executions, arbitrary detention and unfair trials -- in the Tibetan exile community as a result of the Dorje Shugden conflict." NKT's trouble making in this arena helps no one, but instead markets a portrait of ego and hate, thereby hurting many.

NKT's equating NKT/WSS with Uncle Tom's Cabin underscores the fictional basis for NKT's fight against Buddhism.

In direct response to the question posed by the author, Yes. Shugen worship has been examined for many years, including intensive investigation of dozens of pro-Shugden web sites and blogs such as that of the Shugden Devotees in India. Furthermore, analysis was augmented with numerous meditations as well as heart-felt considerations of the benefits and risks of urging NKT to practice Buddhism.