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.
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Why I’m thinking of joining the Labour Party

There’s a lot to admire in the direction Jeremy Corbyn is taking the party – perhaps it’s time to get involved.

Why I’m leaving Labour”, as Owen Hatherley remarked a few days ago, appears to be the new “why I’m leaving London”. However, aside from a few high(ish) profile departures, the bigger story is the net increase in membership of 90,000 that Labour has enjoyed since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Indeed, the last few weeks have got me seriously considering whether I should add to these impressive numbers and join the party myself.

For me, one of the most cheering pieces of news since Corbyn’s victory was the convening of an advisory committee to shadow chancellor John McDonnell, including policy and academic heavyweights such as Mariana Mazzucato, Ann Pettifor, Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty. It was a clear indication that some fresh and serious thought was going to be put into the creation of a plan for remaking and rejuvenating the British economy. The early signs are that Labour will be offering a dynamic, high-tech economy of the future, with good pay and job security at its heart, which will stand in sharp contrast to the miserable Randian dystopia George Osborne has been pushing the country into during his time at the Treasury.

Also refreshing has been Corbyn’s use of Prime Minister’s Questions to give a voice to those affected by austerity. Given that our media and political class is disproportionately populated by people from privileged backgrounds, it’s really important that an extra effort is made to ensure that we hear first-hand from those bearing the brunt of these policies. It’s right in principle, and it turns out to be good politics as well. Because apparently many Conservative MPs are too stupid to realise that responding to the concerns of working class people with loud, derisive braying merely provides the public with a neat and powerful illustration of whose side each party is on.

Corbyn has taken a lot of flak in the media, and from MPs on the Labour right, for his response to the Paris attacks. But as someone who researches, teaches and writes on British foreign policy, Middle East politics and security issues, my admiration for the Labour leader has only grown in recent days.  

In the atmosphere immediately after a terrorist atrocity, a discourse emerges where caring about the victims and being serious about dealing with the threat are taken to be synonymous with advocating military responses and clampdowns on civil liberties, irrespective of the fact that fourteen years of pursuing this approach under the “war on terror” has only served to make the problem far worse. At times like these it takes a great deal of courage to articulate a careful, cautious approach emphasising non-military forms of action that address root causes and whose effects may be less dramatic and immediate. Many people were simply not in the mood to hear this sort of thing from Corbyn, but his policies are objectively more likely to make us safer, and I admire him for not being intimidated into silence despite the gallons of vitriol that have been poured on him.

In general, on national security, there is something heavily gendered about the narrative that casts the alpha male Cameron keeping Britain safe versus the dithering milquetoast Corbyn who doesn't understand the harsh realities. We reached the nadir of this stone age machismo during the last election campaign when Very Serious Jeremy Paxman put it to Ed Miliband that he couldn’t have Vladimir Putin in a fight.  After the disasters of the last decade and a half, the time is right to articulate a more intelligent, sophisticated alternative to the expensive, counterproductive militarism of the Conservative Party and the Labour right wing.

The question of whether Corbyn can win an election is certainly one that preoccupies me. He will struggle to attract voters to his right just as Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham or Liz Kendall would have struggled to win back votes Labour lost to the SNP and the Greens. Enthusing and rallying the perhaps 30 per cent of the electorate who are broadly on the left is one thing, but adding the other 6-7 per cent that you need to win an election is another challenge altogether. Corbyn and his team have been on a steep learning curve since their shock victory in September, and they urgently need to clarify their message and improve their media strategy. Almost all the corporate press are bound to remain hostile, but there are ways to provide them with as little ammunition as possible.

More importantly, Corbyn’s team need to find ways of connecting directly with the public and bring them actively into what he's trying to do. In the current anti-politics mood, an opposition party based on a genuine, engaged mass movement could be a formidable force. Initiatives like “Momentum” will need to make quick and substantial progress.

Fundamentally, Corbyn’s Labour has to do what everyone concerned with genuine social progress has had to do throughout history: articulate points of view that go against prevailing orthodoxy, and do so in as persuasive a way as possible. By definition, these are battles against the odds. But you can't win them if you don't fight them. And for me, and I think most people on Corbyn's part of the left, five years of austerity have taken us beyond the point where we can accept the least worst version of the status quo. That prospect has simply become too painful for too many people.

So will I join? I’m still unsure. Without doubt there will be times when the leadership needs constructive, even robust criticism, and as a writer and researcher I may feel more free to articulate that outside of the Labour tribe. But whatever choice I make, the point for me is that this isn’t really about Jeremy Corbyn so much as the wider movement he represents, demanding a real change of course on politics, economics and foreign policy. That collective effort is something I will certainly continue to play an active part in.

David Wearing researches UK-Saudi-Gulf relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he teaches courses on Middle East politics and international political economy. He sits on the steering committee of Campaign Against Arms Trade.