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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

The deity banned by Dalai Lama

August 29, 2008

Meindert Gorter
The Statesman (UK)
August 26, 2008

Meindert Gorter talks about Dorje Shugden, a Buddhist deity whose
worship has been banned by the Dalai Lama

I am a Dutch student of Kundeling Rimpoche, one of the Dalai Lama's
major critics in the Gelugpa tradition. I'll try to give an
explanation of the Dorje Shugden controversy that is both
understandable for those who are not initiated in the
Mahayana-Vajrayana Buddhist tradition and still explains the very
crux of the problem.

When I met Kundeling Rimpoche in 1995 I was interested in Buddhism
and thought he might teach me more then the zen-meditation class I
kept falling asleep in. I was apprehensive with the idea of following
a guru. However I attended some of his lectures and was especially
impressed by the search for purity his form of Buddhism stands for,
this together with the examining attitude towards the functioning of
thoughts gave me the enthusiasm to meet up with him in 1996 again.
'Tame your mind', and 'mind is always stronger then matter' are two
things that were very appealing to me then.

Buddhism is not about faith but about examining your present
circumstance. Being in a fragile body that can break down at any
moment, how do you make your life meaningful? You shape your own
destiny and if you want to grow towards enlightenment like the Buddha
himself did, you can make progress towards that goal.

This was the first time I heard a Protector Deity existed, a sort of
helper on this path to enlightenment. In fact it is nothing more then
a powerful thought, helpful in keeping the mind focussed on the goal
which is the enlightenment one chooses to pursue. A protector helps
to create the right circumstances to study Buddhist dharma, and is
said to give his life to protect the serious Buddhist practitioner
that relies on him.

However as I said before it was just a thought. However as thoughts
seem to be more important then matter, it really does make a
difference if one has the backup of a fierce thought! Then I heard
that the name of my teacher's protector deity was Dorje Shugden and
that the Dalai Lama had banned this specific deity from the pantheon
of protector deities that exist. The Dalai's explanation was that
this specific deity caused hindrances in solving the Tibetan diaspora
and was bad for his health. Supposedly people who relied on this
deity were just after money instead of Buddhism, so the deity seemed
to be out of order.

My understanding at the time was such that I had no shame to ask
Kundeling why he did not just choose another deity to protect him. In
the end this deity-reliance is just a powerful thought, its just
about faith and if you put your faith in another deity why wouldn't
this work just as good or maybe even better then Dorje Shugden,
surely the Dalai Lama will know won't he?
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