Tag Archives: nyingma

The Dalai Lama is Misusing Tantra

When a nation’s politics and a religion’s spiritual teachings become mixed, the goodness of both is lost.

This week, the Dalai Lama is performing the Kalachakra ceremony in Washington, DC, drawing great interest from the US national media.

What exactly is the Kalachakra, and what is the significance of this?

Kalachakra is a practice belonging to Buddha’s teachings called Highest Yoga Tantra. Tantric teachings were taught to help ripen our inner Buddha nature quickly, and so they are known as the quick path to enlightenment. For this reason these teachings are incredibly precious.

In order to enter into a Tantric practice such as Kalachakra, one receives an empowerment or initiation. However these teachings and practices can easily be corrupted if done with a selfish motivation, so the empowering teacher explains the importance of practicing for the purpose of benefiting others. Without a pure, compassionate motivation, an ignorant practitioner of Highest Yoga Tantra could easily misuse the teachings to increase their own enjoyment, reputation, and worldly success. But with a motivation of universal compassion and loving-kindness, practitioners gain a powerful tool to enhance their spiritual practice and train their mind. But what happens when the Tantric master is a head of state?

Tantra & Public Approval

Though the Dalai Lama has officially relinquished his political duties, he remains the de facto leader of Tibet. How is this? His opinions and pronouncements are taken as unquestionable dictates. Thus the spiritual leader retains his political authority.

By granting the Tantric empowerment of Kalachakra, the Dalai Lama takes on the role of the Vajra Master. When entering the practices of Highest Yoga Tantra, practitioners develop a special, inner relationship with the Spiritual Guide granting the empowerment. To speed up their spiritual progress, they learn to view their Spiritual Guide, who appears as an ordinary being, as a Buddha, a fully enlightened being. This helps practitioners take the teachings to heart and overcome their mental difficulties quickly, and they carry this commitment (samaya) with them into their daily lives.
When the Dalai Lama finished giving a Tantric empowerment, he doesn’t go off and continue to focus on pure spiritual activities – he takes up the political cause of Tibet. As it says in A Great Deception, “The consequences of mixing Dharma with politics will always be at best bad, at worst catastrophic.”

The consequence of this is that when the Dalai Lama gives a speech on foreign policy, his followers view it as an enlightened being’s foreign policy. When the Dalai Lama advocated for the freedom of Tibet, his followers view this as an enlightened being’s support of Tibetan independence. When the Dalai Lama issues a reform, his followers view it as an enlightened being’s reform. When the Dalai Lama ostracizes an entire segment of Buddhist society, his followers view it as an enlightened being’s indictment.

Using Tantra to Harm

So we can see the problem. By giving Kalachakra empowerment so many times publicly and simultaneously continuing his political activities, the Dalai Lama has actual used Buddha’s precious Tantric teachings to increase his political power and eliminate opposition. This is incredibly shameful.

The Dalai Lama has been able to hide behind this commitment for his followers to view him as a Buddha. He has been able to use Tantric samaya to quash opposition to his pronouncements. He has been able to use his robed Asian mystique to spark unquestioning admiration in Westerners. As a result, the 14th Dalai Lama has pursued an unprecedented consolidation of political and spiritual authority.

This pursuit of power has resulted in substantial damage to all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He severely damaged the Nyingma tradition by defaming the popular Dudjom Rinpoche in the 1960s, accusing him of spying for the Chinese, leading to his arrest. This is still a popular accusation used to hinder the Dalai Lama’s opponents! He divided the Kagyu tradition by throwing his weight into the Karmapa controversy, supporting Communist China’s candidate and denying Shamar Rinpoche’s selection. This division resulted in pitched battles at Rumtek Monastery, the seat of the Karmapas. Rumtek is now closed off to both candidates and the Kagyu tradition remains deeply divided. He disparaged his own root Gurus of the Gelug tradition by saying they were wrong about their Dharma Protector practice, and subsequently banning this practice of Dorje Shugden, destroying the religious freedom of Gelugpas around the world. Those continuing to practice Dorje Shugden are ostracized. They are verbally and physically assaulted because of the Dalai Lama’s political pronouncements under the aegis of his Tantric samaya.

World Peace?

The Dalai Lama has said that the Kalachakra will bring world peace. This depends on the intention of the Vajra Master and the disciples. Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama has been unable to separate Buddha’s teachings from the political cause of Tibet. What’s worse, is that he hasn’t been able to separate this clearly for his disciples. Thus the most recognized face of Buddhism misuses Tantra for his personal gain. He uses Tantra to increase support for his ban on Dorje Shugden practice; and as he performed the Kalachakra in Washington, DC, he has even pushed the ban on American soil:

This a tragic misuse of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings. How can an enlightened being use pure view to enforce harming living beings? How can this be a pure intention?

Dudjom Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama

The text from this video comes from the section entitled The Dudjom Rinpoche Affair from the book A Great Deception – The Ruling Lamas policies by the Western Shugden Society.

The Assassination of Gungthang Tsultrim

Below are two paragraphs of an article on the Karmapa controversy website that have been published in the book A Great Deception – The Ruling Lama’s Policies in the section entitled The Assassination of Gungthang Tsultrim.

‘In 1964, the government-in-exile of the Dalai Lama wanted to introduce social, economic and religious reforms to the recently evicted Tibetans. Gyalo Thondrub, the Dalai Lama’s audacious brother, decided that the best answer to Mao’s invasion and destruction of their country was to adapt Tibet and Tibetan policy in exile to the new Communist realities. He boldly proposed to abolish the old Buddhist schools, to do away with the rich, religious show, and thus bring the high lamas to the ground. “No more thrones, rituals, or gold brocades,” he was rumoured to have uttered. The spiritual hierarchies of the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and the corollary sub-orders fell victim to slander and reproach. His words struck fear into the lamas’ hearts. As more details of the elaborate plan began to emerge, it became clear that a coup against three of the schools was being hatched. The new religious body that would replace the traditional lineages was to be controlled by the Gelugpa hierarchy. The worried lamas rushed to Karmapa for help.’

‘When in 1976, Gungthang Tsultrim, the political head of the alliance, was murdered and the assassin confessed to operate on orders from the Tibetan cabinet. Hired for the job, he was paid rupees three hundred thousand by the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala. The Tibetan government-in-exile had also offered him more money for eliminating the 16th Karmapa, he confessed.’

Defamation of Je Phabongkhapa

Je Phabongkhapa

Je Phabongkhapa

Below is another sample from the book A Great Deception – The Ruling Lama’s Policies published by the Western Shugden Society.

Je Phabongkhapa, or Phabongkha Rinpoche, (1878-1941) ‘was one of the great lamas of the twentieth century. He attained his geshe degree at Sera Monastic University, Lhasa, and became a highly influencial teacher in Tibet. He was the root Guru of both tutors of the present Dalai Lama, and the teacher of many of the other Gelug lamas who have been bringing the Dharma to the West since they fled Tibet in 1959.’

But the Fourteenth Dalai Lama now defames this great Teacher. As recently as March 27th, 2006 the Dalai Lama implied that Je Phabongkhapa developed a sectarian bias due to his association with Dorje Shugden:

‘In the case of Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, he was, in the earlier part of his life, a practitioner of ecumenical faith. Gradually, he developed a relationship with Dholgyal. Need I say more?’

But the Dalai Lama gives no evidence for saying that Je Phabongkhapa was sectarian later in his life.

On another occasion the Dalai Lama said that although ‘Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche was really an incredibly great master…. virtually the supreme holder of the Stages of the Path (Lam rim) and Mind Training (Lo jong) traditions’ and ‘was a highly realized being’, that nevertheless ‘with regard to Dholgyal [Dorje Shugden] he seems to have made mistakes.’

The following account illustrates the low esteem in which Je Phabongkhapa is held within certain sections of the Gelugpa Tradition as a result of the Dalai Lama’s defamation. In August 2009 there was a Rigchung degree ceremony (for those who have successfully completed their study of the Pefection of Wisdom Sutra) held at Sera-Mey Monastery in South India. During the ceremony for a monk from the Gungru Khamtsem section fo the monastery, the disciplinarian of the monastery Geshe Ngawang Yonten publicly read out the ‘refuge letter’ (in which a patron writes the names of his family and spiritual masters for blessing by the assembled monks). The refuge letter included the names of Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche and Drana Rinpoche (another prominent Dorje Shugden practitioner).

After the ceremony the disciplinarian received phone calls from monks complaining about his reading out the names of these two Lamas. The next day in the assembly hall, the disciplinarian apologised: ‘I didn’t get prior notice before reading this letter. The person who wrote the names has accumulated negativity, as I did for reading it [the letter]. Therefore we should purify our sin by offering katag [traditional Tibetan offering scarf] to the Protector Thawo. These Lamas did not sign and pledge that they will never worship Shugden, and we will never share material and religious ties with Shugden followers.’

During the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s time, Je Phabongkhapa was the most famous and influential Lama who engaged practically in spreading the doctrine of Je Tsongkhapa throughout Tibet. He was greatly influential in reviving the Gelug Tradition at this time, emphasizing the practical application of Buddha’s teachings instead of just scholastic knowledge, and was the lama most involved in promoting the practice of Dorje Shugden. Because of this, detractors of this practice such as the present Dalai Lama have tried either to maintain that Je Phabongkhapa rejected the practice of Dorje Shugden towards the end of his life, or to smear him with the accusation of being sectarian and promoting Dorje Shugden practice as a way of damaging other Buddhist traditions.

There may be another reason for the present Dalai Lama’s defamation of Je Phabongkhapa. As Goldstein says ‘Phabongka was famous for his view that lamas should not become involved in politics…’ which is not an attitude the Dalai Lama can accept, especially from such an important figure within the Gelug Tradition.

With regard to the many rumors being circulated about Je Phabongkhapa, someone asked Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, ‘Is it true what some people say about Je Phabongkhapa rejecting the Nyingma Tradition?’ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso replied:

‘This is a hundred-percent not true. Though careful investigation I came to understand that when Je Phabongkhapa visited the Kham area in eastern Tibet he gave extensive teachings everywhere. Many thousands of people gathered for his teachings. People of Kham deeply respected him and were devoted to him. At that time, some people, due to jealousy and in order to destroy Je Phabhongkhapa’s reputation, circulated false information saying “Phabongkhapa is evil, he rejects the Nyingma tradition and he destroyed statues of Padmasambhava”. Gradually this false information spread throughout Tibet, but I clearly understand that these people lied.’

There are a number of personal accounts of Je Phabongkhapa that testify to his enormous spiritual power and his ability to turn people’s minds towards spiritual practice. Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, who was for fifteen years abbot of Rashi Gempil Ling, a Kalmuck Mongolian temple in New Jersey, USA, and founder of the Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Centers, recalls attending Lamrim teachings given by Je Phabhongkhapa:

‘Like so many others in the audience, I was stunned by the power of his teachings. Most of it I had heard before, but the way which he taught it and, I felt, the blessings I had received from him made it suddenly strike home for me. Here I was, living the short precious life of a human, and fortunate enough to be a student at one of the greatest Buddhist monasteries in the world. Why was I wasting my time? What would happen if I suddenly died?”

Geshe Tharchin remembers a Tibetan nobleman who held a ‘powerful position equivalent to Minister of Defense’ attending Je Phabhongkhapa’s teachings, showing up in his:

‘… best finery … decked out in silk, his long hair flowing … A great ceremonial sword hung from his belt, clanging importantly as he swaggered in. … By the end of the first section of the teaching he was seen leaving the hall quietly, deep in thought–he had wrapped his weapon of war in a cloth to hide it, and was taking it home. … finally one day he threw himself before the Rinpoche and asked to be granted special lifetime religious vows for laymen. Thereafter he always followed Pabongka Rinpoche around, to every public teaching he gave.’

In his autobiography Khyongla Rato, founder of the Tibet Center in New York, writes that Tibetans referred to Khangser Rinpoche and Phabongka Rinpoche as ‘the Sun’ and ‘the Moon’. He also writes of the tremendous power of Je Phabhongkhapa’s teachings:

‘During that summer session several traders and at least two high government officials found their lives transformed by his eloquence: they forsook their jobs to study religion and give themselves to meditation.’

Khyongla Rato requested and received full ordination from Je Phabongkhapa and would often pray ‘… that like Pabongka Rinpoche, I might learn to help people by teaching, writing and discussion.’

In a short account about his life, Rilbur Rinpoche says:

‘That was the time of the great lama Pabongka Dorje Chang, who was the most outstanding unsurpassable lama of that time. It was him and nobody else. I’m not saying there weren’t any lamas except Pabongka – there were Kyabje Kangsar Rinpoche, Tatra Rinpoche, and many other great lamas – but he became the principle teacher, the one who was giving continuous teachings.’


‘I have had some success as a scholar, and as a lama I am somebody, but these things are not important. The only thing that matters to me is that I was a disciple of Pabongka Rinpoche.’

None of these highly-respected teachers who knew Je Phabongkhapa personally make mention of any sectarian bias whatsoever. In an interview given in the FPMT Mandala magazine, Mogchok Rinpoche, shortly after being appointed resident teacher of the FPMT centre in Lavaur, France, said that his previous incarnation had first belonged to the Shangpa Kagyu tradition:

‘In my past life, Mogchok Rinpoche was student of Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche; it was then that he changed to the Gelug tradition. He received many initiations and teachings from Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche.’

However, it is clear that Je Phabongkhapa did not put any sectarian pressure on his new disciple. As the interview continues:

‘Q: Do you know why he chose to change tradition?
‘A: I think he found that the Gelugpa tradition contained a lot of wisdom. But the previous Mogchok Rinpoche didn’t abandon Shangpa Kagyu completely, he practiced according to that tradition as well.’

Je Phabongkha’s spiritual influence – over government ministers and even lamas from other traditions – was undoubtedly a source of jealousy. As a Gelugpa lama he was responsible for promoting the pure teachings of Je Tsongkhapa, but there is no evidence of him action out of sectarianism, or in any way that was damaging to other traditions. The claims made by the present Dalai Lama are completely false.

Open Letter to Robert Thurman from the Western Shugden Society

This letter was posted on the Western Shugden Society website today:

An Open Letter

To Robert Thurman,

We the Western Shugden Society are writing this letter regarding your previous public statement that Shugden people are sectarian, naming them “the Buddhist Taliban”; and your recent public statement that the Western Shugden Society protestors are “working for the Chinese”.

As you know, Shugden people want to practice the Gelug tradition purely, without mixing with the Nyingma tradition. Because of this the Dalai Lama has said to Shugden people that they are sectarian. In truth, the Nyingmapa also want to practice their Nyingma tradition purely without mixing with the Gelug tradition; and it is the same for the Sakyapa and Kagyupa. So according to the Dalai Lama’s view, the Nyingmapa, Sakyapa and Kagyupa are also sectarian, but he only says that Shugden people are sectarian. In reality he is lying.

If you, Robert Thurman, are not yourself lying, then you must show your evidence to prove your public statements: that Shugden people are sectarian, “the Buddhist Taliban” as you named them; and that the Western Shugden Society is working for the Chinese. You should show your evidence publicly through the internet before 25th October 2008. If your evidence does not appear by this date then we will conclude that you have lied publicly and are misleading people.


Western Shugden Society