In many places where His Holiness the Dalai Lama travels he is now subject to protests by worshippers of Dorje Shugden, also known as Dolgyal, a “protector deity” that is considered by some to be one of the protectors of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism.
On July 7th a meeting was held in California between representatives of the Dalai Lama and three members of the International Shugden Community. The meeting was called by the Office of the Dalai Lama out of concern “that many among the Shugden protestors may be poorly informed about the Shugden issue and His Holiness’s stand with regard to it.”
The Shugden protestors allege that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has banned “the practice of Dolgyal/Shugden.” Representatives of the His Holiness say that this is untrue and that “although His Holiness has for forty years advised against propitiating Shugden, he has always been consistently clear that, in the end, it is up to individuals to choose whether or not to follow his counsel.”
The report states that one of the principal reasons why His Holiness advises against this practice is because of the well-documented sectarianism associated with it: “In the past, Shugden practice, especially in Eastern Tibet, provoked widespread distrust between monasteries, prevented members of the Geluk school from receiving instructions belonging to the Nyingma tradition, and even led to desecration of religious images and scriptures. His Holiness considers this kind of divisiveness and disharmony to be deeply regrettable. As someone who actively promotes inter-religious harmony and understanding, he opposes discrimination against anyone on grounds of faith. His Holiness the Dalai Lama feels a moral responsibility to advise his followers against Shugden practice.”
For more on the Shugden controversy, see:
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Advice Concerning Dolgyal (Shugden) from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s official website;
- In Response to the Shugden Protestors’ Allegations from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s official website.
- The Dalai Lama And The Cult Of Dolgyal Shugden by Robert Thurman, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism at Columbia University and co-founder and President of Tibet House US.