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.
CREDIT: GETTY
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Barb Jungr’s diary: Apart-hotels, scattered families and bringing the Liver Birds back to Liverpool

My Liver Birds reboot, set in the present day with new music and a new story, is coming to life at the Royal Court Theatre.

For the last three years I’ve been writing a musical. Based on Carla Lane and Myra Taylor’s Liver Birds characters Beryl and Sandra, but set in the present day with new music and a new story, it is coming to life at the Royal Court Theatre – in Liverpool, appropriately. Amazingly, the sun shines as the train ambles into Lime Street, where Ken Dodd’s statue has recently been customised with a feather duster tickling stick and some garlands of orange and lime green. Outside the station, composer Mike Lindup and I buy a Big Issue. We have a scene opening Act Two with a Big Issue seller and we are superstitious. We check into our “apart-hotel”. Apart-hotel is a new word and means a hotel room with a kitchen area you will never, ever use.

At the theatre everyone hugs as though their lives depend on it; we are all aware we are heading into a battle the outcome of which is unknown. There will be no more hugging after this point till opening night as stress levels increase day by day. I buy chocolate on the way back as there’s a fridge in my apart-hotel and I ought to use it for something.

Ships in the night

There’s no point in being in Liverpool without running by the river, so I leap up (in geriatric fashion) and head out into the rain. You’d think, since I grew up in the north-west and cannot ever remember experiencing any period of consecutive sunny days here, that I’d have brought a waterproof jacket with me. I didn’t. It springs from optimism. Misplaced in this case, as it happens. I return soaking but with a coconut latte. Every cloud.

We have been in the theatre for seven hours. Everything has been delayed. The cast are amusing themselves by singing old television themes. They have just made short shrift of Bonanza and have moved on to The Magic Roundabout. We may all be going very slightly mad.

As hours dwindle away with nothing being achieved, Mike and I pop to the theatre next door to enjoy someone else’s musical. In this case, Sting’s. It’s wonderfully palate-cleansing and I finally manage to go to sleep with different ear worms about ships and men, rather than our own, about Liverpool and women.

Wood for the trees

This morning “tech” begins (during which every single move of the cast and set, plus lighting, costume, prop and sound cues must be decided and logged on a computer). Problems loom around every piece of scenery. Our smiles and patience wear thin.

By the end of the 12-hour session we know we have the most patient, professional cast in the known cosmos. I, on the other hand, am a lost cause. I fret and eat, nervously, doubting every decision, every line, every lyric. Wondering how easy it would be to start over, in forestry perhaps? There is a drug deal going on across the road in the street outside the hotel. My apart-hotel kitchen remains as new.

First preview

I slept like a log. (All those years of working with Julian Clary make it impossible not to add, “I woke up in the fireplace”.) At the crack of dawn we’re cutting scenes in the Royal Court café like hairdressers on coke. Today is ladies’ day at Aintree, which feels apropos; tonight we open Liver Birds Flying Home, here.

The spirit of Carla Lane, who died in 2016, always dances around our consciousness when we are writing. She was very good to us when we began this project, and she was incredibly important to my teenage self, gazing out for role models across the cobblestones.

I grew up in Rochdale, a first-generation Brit. My parents had come here after the war, and what family we had was scattered to the four winds, some lost for ever and some found much later on, after the Velvet Revolution. I had a coterie of non-related “aunties” who felt sorry for us. Ladies with blue rinses, wearing mothball-smelling fur coats in cold houses with Our Lady of Fátima statues lit by votive candles in every conceivable alcove. To this day, the smell of incense brings it all back. Yet the northern matriarchy is a tough breed and I’m happy to carry some of that legacy with pride.

Seeing the theatre fill with people is terrifying and exciting in equal measure. We’ve had to accept that the finale isn’t in tonight’s show because of lack of technical time. I’m far from thrilled. The show, however, has a life of its own and the actors surf every change with aplomb. The audience cheers, even without the finale. Nonetheless, I slouch home in despair. Is it too late to change my name?

Matinee day

The fire alarm is going off. I know that because I’m awake and it’s 4am. As I stand in reception among the pyjama-clad flotsam and jetsam of the apart-hotel, I suspect I’m not the only one thinking: if only they’d had alarms this annoyingly loud in Grenfell. I don’t go back to sleep. I rewrite the last scene and discuss remaining changes for the morning production meeting with my co-writer, George.

The Saturday afternoon performance (which now includes the finale) receives a standing ovation in the circle. The ratio of women to men in the audience is roughly five to one. In the evening performance it is 50/50, so I’m curious to see how Beryl and Sandra’s story plays to the chaps who’ve been dragged out on a Saturday night with their wives. In the pub after the show a man tells Lesley, the actress playing present-day Beryl, how moved he had been by what he’d seen and heard.

A few years ago I stood behind Miriam Margolyes as we were about to go on stage at the Royal Festival Hall in a Christmas show. She turned to me, saying, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” We agreed: “Because we can’t do anything else!” I suspect forestry is out of the question at this juncture. 

“Liver Birds Flying Home” is at the Royal Court, Liverpool, until 12 May.

Barb Jungr is an English singer, songwriter, composer and writer.

This article first appeared in the 18 April 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Enoch Powell’s revenge