Below are some of the best reviews of A Great Deception – The Ruling Lama’s Policies from Amazon.com. The book is now available in the US from the Independent Publishers Group. If you’ve read the book, feel free to post your own review in the comments section below or better yet write your own review on Amazon.com
Review by Michael-James B. Weaver
This book advocates a spiritual solution to a political problem that has plagued Tibetan society for the past 15 years, the Dorje Shugden controversy. Walking in the footsteps of the Buddha, high Lamas should renounce involvement in political affairs. Buddha spoke of his renunciation in this way: “Bodhisattvas should follow my example. I renounced my kingdom and attained complete enlightenment. You must be aware of how close the relationship between renunciation of the world and the eventual attainment of supreme enlightenment is.” Buddha’s father offered to abdicate the throne in favor of his son’s rule, to which Buddha replied, “Father, I am no longer the son of one family, one clan, or even one country. My family is now all beings, my home is the Earth, and my position is that of a monk who depends on the generosity of others. I have chosen this path, not the path of politics. I believe I can best serve all beings in this way.”
It is readily apparent throughout this book that the Western Shugden Society is *no* fan of Communist China, a “totalitarian regime” that “invaded” Tibet and has now “occupied” it for more than 50 years. Still, primary blame for the “catastrophic decline” of Buddhadharma in Tibet over the past few hundred years, which ultimately precipitated the loss of the country to the Chinese, rests solely on the unholy mixing of religion and politics which the book calls ‘Lama Policy’. The current Dalai Lama’s political ambition to become the unprecedented spiritual head of all Tibetan Buddhists, his unfailing adulation of Mao, and his fascination with ‘half-Buddhist, half-Marxist’ communism (seriously retarding his exile government’s democratization) are all given heavy treatment in the book. Many Tibetans feel personally betrayed by the Dalai Lama, who unilaterally handed over the cause of Tibetan independence to the Chinese as early as the 1980s, without consulting either the Tibetan parliament or his people. Once Tibetan nationals started to realize that their hopes for a ‘Free Tibet’ had been ruined, the Dalai Lama’s scapegoating of Dorje Shugden practitioners began… and for the past 15 years this clintonesque misdirection has worked amazingly well, albeit to the detriment of the Tibetan exile community’s internal trust, peace, and harmony.
The book puts forth a most intriguing thesis, which is touched on throughout various chapters as it retraces the history of the Dalai Lamas; the implications will be earth-shattering for many Tibetan Buddhists, yet liberating for many others including myself. That is, “a great deception” has been perpetrated since the death of the Fourth Dalai Lama, in that no one who has carried this title since–from the Fifth to the current Fourteenth–has actually fulfilled the First Dalai Lama’s promise to his root Guru, Je Tsongkhapa, who was the founder of the Gelugpa tradition: “From now until I attain enlightenment I shall seek no refuge other than you… I pray that, with my mind free from the influence of attachment and hatred, I may strive to maintain your doctrine and cause it to flourish without ever giving up this endeavor” (translation in the book Heart Jewel by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso). The first four Dalai Lamas are presented as pious, holy men who lived “exemplary lives of pure moral discipline and spiritual practice,” and so there is no doubt about their authenticity.
In sharp contrast, the so-called Fifth Dalai Lama’s military escapades (including sectarian suppression of the Jonang, Kagyu, and Bön traditions), political intrigues (including the assassination of his spiritual ‘rival’, Dragpa Gyaltsen), and abhorrence of his root Guru the Panchen Lama call into doubt whether he was really the reincarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama at all. Rather, “Many Gelugpa lamas believe that Dragpa Gyaltsen, and not Losang Gyatso, was the actual incarnation of the Fourth Dalai Lama and that when Dragpa Gyaltsen died he became a Protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s Ganden tradition” (i.e., he manifested as Dorje Shugden). Indeed, it would be interesting to know how pervasive this interpretation is amongst contemporary Shugden Lamas, because it helps to explain so much, for example, why the earliest rituals to Dorje Shugden identified him as an emanation of Avalokiteshvara (see the Dorje Shugden History website), and why it is that the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Dalai Lamas weren’t particularly noteworthy, to say the least.
The book is a damning account of the Fifth, Thirteenth, and current Dalai Lamas’ theocracies and their failures as political and spiritual leaders. And, although the book is heavily sourced, it is intended merely as a starting point for journalists and scholars to dig even deeper. In a sense, exposing the Dalai Lama’s “open secrets” to the world in this way is like giving us permission to look past the facade and not feel blasphemous for doing so: the authors invite the world again and again to scrutinize the Dalai Lama’s actions just as they would any politician, and not be mesmerized by the celebrity of this ‘simple Buddhist monk’. For these Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama can no longer hide behind the mask of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, for his actions simply do not merit it: even the current Dalai Lama’s militant campaigns, political intrigues, and abhorrence of his root Guru (whom he never acknowledges) are laid bare, a haunting replay of the Great Fifth’s samsaric life.
Nevermind the fact the Dalai Lama has never had the ecclesiastical authority to ban prayers to Dorje Shugden, what this book makes transparent is that neither does he have the *moral* authority. Of course, the Dalai Lama’s Buddhist teachings and lectures are spectacular, which is a testament more to the wisdom and kindness of his unsung Spiritual Guide, Trijang Rinpoche, a Dorje Shugden practitioner who arguably was the greatest Tibetan Buddhist master of his generation. The Dalai Lama often says that we have to choose between himself or Dorje Shugden, which in effect amounts to choosing either the Dalai Lama or the late Trijang Rinpoche; for many Shugden practitioners this has been a difficult but clear choice, and this book makes it crystal clear.
Review by Aaron Pearson
What a fantastic read. I couldn’t put this book down. Once you get past the first couple of chapters, which makes some quite strong accusations against the Dalai Lama and his `religious ban’ on a group of Buddhists, the book starts to unravel the background behind these claims – and there’s a lot of information to back them up. The book has almost 400 references to various resources so it does seem pretty credible after all.
The book gives a lot of interesting facts about the previous Dalai Lamas, a lot of which I didn’t know about. Particularly interesting was the chapter on the present Dalai Lama, with new information about his escape from Tibet, about his dealings with the CIA, and other things like the fact that members of his family are part of his Government – it’s quite an eye-opener.
The main point of the book is to put pressure on the Dalai Lama to stop his ban against Buddhists who follow a deity called Dorje Shugden. I understand that he claims there is no ban, but when I looked into some of the references in the book I found some video footage of the Dalai Lama referring to the ban as `his’ – see the Western Shugden Society website, under ‘videos’. On the same website I also found some footage from a TV News Channel of a Buddhist monk being refused entry to a local shop because he is a follower of Dorje Shugden. With all these claims I read saying that there is no ban, this type of evidence seems pretty hard to ignore. It seems like a pretty clear cut case of religious discrimination when you can’t even go into a shop and buy some groceries because of your religious beliefs!
What I came away with was a feeling that the image of the Dalai Lama I had previously was a bit superficial. I knew he’d won the Nobel Peace Prize, that he is the head of the Tibetan Government etc. and on that basis I had him down as a good guy, fighting for World Peace, but I now realise I didn’t really have anything to back this up with. This book takes things to a whole new level. There are pictures of him shaking hands with Chairman Mao, with ex-Nazi SS soldiers, with the Aum Cult leader (responsible for the Japanese train gassing) and more. Now I’m not saying I think he’s a Nazi, but when you put all of this together, my image of him being a ‘holy man’ is now looking a bit dubious. Well, that’s my take on it anyway.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of controversy and to anyone who is interested in finding out about the Dalai Lama’s background – everything other than what he would want you to know of course. And to anyone who won’t read the book because they don’t feel comfortable that the ‘holy’ Dalai Lama is finally being brought into disrepute, if this information is true, you might want to think about the suffering of the Buddhists in Tibet who are being discriminated against – if we continue to turn a blind eye to these types of reports, then maybe no one will ever find out the truth behind these claims?
Review by C. Poulengeris
I read this book really carefully and I think it is excellent. For a long time Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama) has been doing whatever he likes with very little scrutiny from Western observers. Anyone who should dare to criticise the Dalai Lama is usually just attacked. Far better to investigate the complaints to see if they hold water. In this book the Dalai Lama’s most serious failings are exposed. It is a little bit like the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
In any case, I would recommend this book because it is very well researched with a lot of documentary evidence. It has cast iron evidence of
1. His links to the CIA
2. His shady, shady finances. This guy has received hundreds of millions of dollars over the years for “Tibetan Independence”. Everyone knows that the Dalai Lama (against the wishes of many Tibetans themselves) gave up on Tibetan Independence years ago. What has happened to the money. It certainly hasn’t been used for the benefit of alleviating poverty amongst Tibetans!
3. How he is attempting to divide and weaken the Gelugpas (by attacking the worship of a popular deity called Dorje Shugden) so that they will then join his “Rime” (Ecunemical) movement. (The Rime movement by the way never existed until recent times, invented by, yes the 14th Dala Lama)
4. His utter failure to do anything whatsoever either for Tibet or for Tibetans in general (above and beyond some serious nepotism regarding his close family)
5. His disrespect for his own Spiritual Guide (His Holiness Trijang Dorjechang). There is documentary evidence where he says that HH Trijang Dorjechang was wrong to worship Dorje Shugen. According to Mahayana Buddhism ANYONE who directly criticises their own Spiritual Guide is creating heavy negative karma.
It is, I believe, very well researched and accurate.
Anyone who may find it hard to believe that the Dalai Lama is fallible should read this book. It exposes the Dalai Lama’s failings. As Abraham Lincoln said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
An excellent book.