Are Dalai Lama's critics backed by China?

Followers of the Dalai Lama claim that China is behind dissent by those who question his ban on the

It has been 12 years since I first heard Dorje Shugden’s name. Under normal circumstances it's best not to talk about protectors openly. This is because protectors can lose their strength for a person, and you don't really want them to expire. Best kept in silence, they serve as fuel on the path to enlightenment. In monasteries protectors’ shrines are closed, only to be opened on special occasions. That is how one should treat their guardian angel, for to secretly cherish them helps to fulfill one's commitment.

Lets have a look at a non-Buddhist example. Elie Wiesel, the Jewish writer, said that his thoughts when waking up were always of war and how it could be possible for mankind to be so cruel. He used the thought of suffering as an anchor in his mind. In this way the suffering during the war provided him with the energy to work relentlessly to gain insight and write, with the hope of preventing the human race from making the same mistakes again.

Buddhists too are worried about human suffering and want to work towards enlightenment.

Now a person could try and be a good Buddhist, but at the same time they could be having mundane things on their mind that are likely to take them offtrack. Not every Buddhist wakes up with the thought to relieve mankind of suffering, most need a special wake up call. My teacher’s teachers used the thought of Dorje Shugden to keep their mind on the right track, as did the Dalai Lama’s teachers, and many more in Gelugpa and Sakya lineages.

Buddhists generally don’t say one lineage is better than the other. However we do place maximum trust in our own teachers, while at the same time always examining the purity of their words. Their words are not easily put aside and are highly respected. This is because they are seen to be Buddha’s own words coming to us in the present. The wisdom they carry has the power to cause enlightenment, with which a lot of suffering could come to an end. If you find you can’t trust your teachers purity, either your teacher is no good and has other things than Buddhism on his mind, or you yourself are having trouble understanding what Buddhism is all about.

Deity Dorje Shugden is said to be the spirit of Tulku Dragpa Gyalchen, a famous enlightened practitioner living contemporaneously with the fifth Dalai Lama. He turned out to be more famous and loved than the Dalai Lama himself, which incited jealousy amongst the Dalai’s entourage. Eventually he was brutally killed by some of the servants of the fifth Dalai while he was away from home. Being enlightened, the Tulku had to help his assailants in the killing of himself. Being absolutely pure their arrows and spears could not hurt him, they only produced extra eyes on his body.

He told his assailants he had a little leftover negative karma that could be used to kill him in a very violent way. This made him a powerful protector. At the moment more versions of this story circulate, but this is the one that the present Dalai Lama himself must have heard from his teachers who initiated him in the practice, the ones he now says made a mistake in relying on this deity. His criticism of his own teachers comes conveniently at a time when they have all passed away. So now others who shared the same teachers criticize the Dalai Lama. In response, some of the Dalai Lama's supporters claim his opponents are being supported by China.

"The Shugden and the Chinese are obviously allies," the Tibetan prime minister in exile Samdhong Rinpoche said in a recent interview with France 24 TV. "Their cults all over the world are financed by the Chinese."

The Dalai Lama says he has investigated this matter to his utmost capacity. However in the end this was his decision: Ban the ghost.

Meindert Gorter is a student of Kundeling Rimpoche, a major critic of the Dalai Lama’s ban on the deity Dorje Shugden. He lives in the Netherlands with his wife and two children.
Picture: ANDRÉ CARRILHO
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Leader: Boris Johnson, a liar and a charlatan

The Foreign Secretary demeans a great office of state with his carelessness and posturing. 

Boris Johnson is a liar, a charlatan and a narcissist. In 1988, when he was a reporter at the Times, he fabricated a quotation from his godfather, an eminent historian, which duly appeared in a news story on the front page. He was sacked. (We might pause here to acknowledge the advantage to a young journalist of having a godfather whose opinions were deemed worthy of appearing in a national newspaper.) Three decades later, his character has not improved.

On 17 September, Mr Johnson wrote a lengthy, hyperbolic article for the Daily Telegraph laying out his “vision” for Brexit – in terms calculated to provoke and undermine the Prime Minister (who was scheduled to give a speech on Brexit in Florence, Italy, as we went to press). Extracts of his “article”, which reads more like a speech, appeared while a terror suspect was on the loose and the country’s threat level was at “critical”, leading the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, to remark: “On the day of a terror attack where Britons were maimed, just hours after the threat level is raised, our only thoughts should be on service.”

Three other facets of this story are noteworthy. First, the article was published alongside other pieces echoing and praising its conclusions, indicating that the Telegraph is now operating as a subsidiary of the Johnson for PM campaign. Second, Theresa May did not respond by immediately sacking her disloyal Foreign Secretary – a measure of how much the botched election campaign has weakened her authority. Finally, it is remarkable that Mr Johnson’s article repeated the most egregious – and most effective – lie of the EU referendum campaign. “Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350m per week,” the Foreign Secretary claimed. “It would be a fine thing, as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS.”

This was the promise of Brexit laid out by the official Vote Leave team: we send £350m to Brussels, and after leaving the EU, that money can be spent on public services. Yet the £350m figure includes the rebate secured by Margaret Thatcher – so just under a third of the sum never leaves the country. Also, any plausible deal will involve paying significant amounts to the EU budget in return for continued participation in science and security agreements. To continue to invoke this figure is shameless. That is not a partisan sentiment: the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove, denounced Mr Johnson’s “clear misuse of official statistics”.

In the days that followed, the chief strategist of Vote Leave, Dominic Cummings – who, as Simon Heffer writes in this week's New Statesman, is widely suspected of involvement in Mr Johnson’s article – added his voice. Brexit was a “shambles” so far, he claimed, because of the ineptitude of the civil service and the government’s decision to invoke Article 50 before outlining its own detailed demands.

There is a fine Yiddish word to describe this – chutzpah. Mr Johnson, like all the other senior members of Vote Leave in parliament, voted to trigger Article 50 in March. If he and his allies had concerns about this process, the time to speak up was then.

It has been clear for some time that Mr Johnson has no ideological attachment to Brexit. (During the referendum campaign, he wrote articles arguing both the Leave and Remain case, before deciding which one to publish – in the Telegraph, naturally.) However, every day brings fresh evidence that he and his allies are not interested in the tough, detailed negotiations required for such an epic undertaking. They will brush aside any concerns about our readiness for such a huge challenge by insisting that Brexit would be a success if only they were in charge of it.

This is unlikely. Constant reports emerge of how lightly Mr Johnson treats his current role. At a summit aiming to tackle the grotesque humanitarian crisis in Yemen, he is said to have astounded diplomats by joking: “With friends like these, who needs Yemenis?” The Foreign Secretary demeans a great office of state with his carelessness and posturing. By extension, he demeans our politics. 

This article first appeared in the 21 September 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The revenge of the left