Join our Mailing List

"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Hundreds protest Dalai Lama

July 14, 2008

Monks and nuns of the Shugden Society say the Buddhist leader stifles
religious freedom.

By TONY NAUROTH
The Express-Times
Sunday, July 13, 2008

BETHLEHEM | Those looking for enlightenment Saturday from the Dalai Lama
at Lehigh University's Stabler Arena first had to maneuver past 400
monks and nuns protesting a 40-year-old arcane decree by the
Tibetan-leader-in-exile that they said violates their religious freedom.

The monks and nuns of the Western Shugden Society weren't hard to miss.
Dressed in gold and maroon robes and most of them with shaved heads, the
protesters held up signs and chanted -- in Tibetan -- "Dalai Lama! Give
religious freedom." And "Dalai Lama! Stop lying."

The beef between the society and the Buddhist leader centers on the
worship of the deity Dorje Shugden and specifically a prayer of peace
and love Buddhists have used for 400 years.

Kelsang Pema, a society spokeswoman whose given name in her native
England is Helen Gladwell, said the Dalai Lama "outlawed the prayer back
in the 1970s because he claimed the thousands of Shugden followers
saying the prayer did physical and spiritual harm to him."

Pema suggested that non-Shugden devotees persecute those who practice
Shugden to the point of throwing all Shugden monks and nuns out of their
monasteries and nunneries, denying Shugden followers jobs, getting their
children expelled from schools -- even burning their homes and denying
them medical care.

As an example, she told of a doctor in India who was about to treat a
patient suffering from tuberculosis when an anti-Shugden follower in the
room attacked the doctor, beating him.

"We admit this person could have done this on his own, but the Dalai
Lama does not speak out against such actions."

No one in the Dalai Lama's entourage could be reached for comment.

Many people leaving Stabler Arena after listening to the Dalai Lama said
they thought the protest was to get the Chinese out of Tibet and
reinstate the Dalai Lama as the true leader of that Himalayan country.

Tom Howard of Center Valley said of the Dorje Shugden disagreement, "I'd
have to know more about it before I could understand it."

The Western Shugden Society composed and delivered a letter dated April
12 to the Dalai Lama asking him to give them freedom to practice Dorje
Shugden; to stop discrimination against Shugden people, to allow the
Shugden monks and nuns to return to their monasteries and nunneries, and
to put the three points above in writing and distribute it throughout
the Buddhist world.

"We haven't heard from him," Pema said. "Honestly, we don't understand
why he's doing this. It's so bamboozling."

The protest was peaceful, although a line of police officers was on hand
and security at the arena was tight; metal detectors were in use.

Staff writer Tony Nauroth can be reached at 610-759-4599 in Nazareth,
610-258-7171 in Easton or tnauroth@express-times.com.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank