STATEMENT OF UK BUDDHIST ORGANISATIONS RE: PROTESTS AGAINST HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA by the International Shugden Community / New Kadampa Tradition

LONDON, September 2015

We, the undersigned UK Buddhist organisations, state that we have no connection to, or association with, the protests against His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama staged in the UK by the International Shugden Community / New Kadampa Tradition. We actively dissociate ourselves from any activity of this organisation.

We assert that any differences of opinion among Buddhist organisations are  better expressed in a peaceful, respectful and reasonable manner. We are especially concerned about protestors’ aggressive, misleading and unethical behaviour and the confusing image of Tibetan Buddhism this presents to the UK public.

The UK Buddhist Organisations signed up to this statement express their respect and support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s strong commitment to promoting religious harmony and mutual understanding across all the world's major religious traditions. Religous harmony is one of His Holiness's three main lifelong commitments. Consequently, he takes a strong stance when it comes to sectarian intolerance. It is for this very reason - that the International Shugden Community / New Kadampa Tradition is sectarian - that the activities of the protestors are deemed unacceptable.

We further express our complete confidence in His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his advice.

Further detailed information on the controversy, the nature of the ISC/NKT and web links to helpful reference materials are found beneath our signatures.

LIST OF SIGNATORY BUDDHIST ORGANISATIONS

 
                      Awakened Heart Sangha UK

                      Bodhicharya Brighton

                      Bodhicharya Kent

                      Bodhicharya Somerset

                      Bodhicharya Sussex

                      Bodhicharya Totnes

                      British Buddhist Community of the UK

                      Buddhist Society, London

                      Cham Tse Ling, Preston

                      Drukpa UK

                      Dzogchen Community UK

                      Gomde UK Tibetan Buddhist Centre

                      Jamyang Bath

                      Jamyang Leeds

                      Jamyang London

                      Jamyang Liverpool

                      Jamyang Mindroling, Coventry

                      Jamyang Salisbury

                      Kagyu Dechen Dzong, Yorkshire

                      Kagyu Ling, Manchester

                      Kagyu Samye Dzong, London

                      Kum Nye UK

                      Land of Joy, Northumberland

                      Lelung Dharma Centre, London

                      Lam Rim Bristol

                      Lam Rim Wales

                      Lam Rim Wilts & Glos

                      Palpung Changchub Dargyeling, Wales

                      Pundarika UK

                      Rigpa UK

                      Sakya Dechen Ling, London

                      Sakya Thinley Rinchen Ling, Bristol

                      Sakya Thubten Ling, Bournemouth

                      Saraswati Study Group, Somerset

                      Togme Sangpo Study Group, Scotland

                      Vajra Kalyana Mitrata UK

                      White Tara Meditation Group, Oxford

                      Yeshe Study Group, Cumbria




THE DHOLGYAL/ SHUGDEN CONTROVERSY

There are four main Tibetan schools of Buddhism: Geluk, Sakya, Nyingma and Kagyu. The schools are based on particular sets of teachings which arose at different times during Tibet's history.  The teachings of each are considered to be appropriate to different minds; in the end, their practice leads to the same goal of Enlightenment.  Tibetan Buddhism is a Wisdom and Compassion tradition, the oral lineages of which have been handed down without a break from the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. In contrast, the propitiation of a renegade 'Shugden' entity carries with it a long history of sectarian disharmony between the Geluk and other schools. 

At  a crucial juncture for Tibet, occupied for over 50 years by the People's Republic of China, and at a time when Tibetan culture is deeply threatened, together with its unique and effective practice of Buddhism, there is a strong need for harmony and co-operation. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has highlighted the negative influences, and the implications for the future,  of the divisive, sectarian practice of propitiating 'Shugden'.  His Holiness requests his own disciples not to engage in this practice, but has also made clear that whether or not his advice is heeded is a matter of individual choice. However, contrary to protesters’ claims, the Dalai Lama has not banned this practice; ratherhe has strongly advised against it.

Regarding 'Shugden devotees' in India and other exile communities of Tibetans, neither Amnesty International (1998) nor the Supreme Court in Delhi (2010) could ascertain any violation of human rights when checking on claims that devotees had been subjected to systematic discrimination and infringement of their human rights.

WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL SHUGDEN COMMUNITY AND THE NEW KADAMPA TRADITION ?

The International Shugden Community (ISC) is the latest in a series of front organisations set up by members of  the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), a UK religious charity based in Ulverston, Cumbria under the guidance of a 'Supreme Leader', Kelsang Gyatso. This wealthy organisation with members worldwide has a long history of antagonism to the Dalai Lama and rejects his authority. Since early 2014, the ISC has staged aggressive protests during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visits to America, Australia and Europe.

The NKT is composed in the main of non-Tibetans who have little or no ability to speak or read Tibetan language and consequently little or no access to Tibetan Buddhist culture except through the writings of Kelsang Gyatso. Although the organisation follows an ethnic Tibetan teacher and utilises Tibetan Buddhist terminology, it does not consider itself a Tibetan Buddhist organisation - although, confusingly, its adherents often wear Tibetan coloured monastic robes, making it impossible for the public to tell the difference between those who have and whose who have not taken full Buddhist monastic vows.

In their campaign against the Dalai Lama, the International Shugden Community / New Kadampa Tradition has aligned itself with the Chinese Communist Party's drive to undermine the Tibetan religious leader.

 
FURTHER NOTES:

(1) There are four main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, the oldest the Nyingma (8th century), two later ones - the Sakya and Kagyu (11th/12th centuries), with the most recent the Geluk (14th/15th centuries). The Jonang tradition is considered a 5th. There is an even more ancient tradition, that of Bon, and a number of surviving smaller schools. 

(2) The Dalai Lama’s advice on Dholgyal/ Shugden can be found on his official website: http://www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden

(3) More information on the history of various front organisations (International Shugden Community formed 2014-15, Western Shugden Society formed 2008-14 and Shugden Supporters Committee), of the New Kadampa Tradition itself and its 'Supreme Leader', Kelsang Gyatso, can be found at:  http://info-buddhism.com/Western_Shugden_Society_unlocked.html

(4) Shadow Boxing on the Path to Nirvana by Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, 6 July 1996:  “The SSC’s [Shugden Supporters Committee] campaign against the Dalai Lama is a dream scenario for the Chinese Government. In 1993, they decided their best tactic for Tibet, this most troublesome province of the People’s Republic, was to divide the Tibetans among themselves. Eighteen months ago, Chinese documents began to appear undermining the Dalai Lama as a religious authority, indicating a shift of strategy. The SSC insist in their press releases that they have no connection with the Chinese. But are they inadvertently doing the Chinese’s work for them?

(5)  See report: ‘China’s new directive on controversial Shugden spirit in Tibet in bid to further discredit Dalai Lama’ at http://www.savetibet.org/chinas-new-directive-on-controversial-shugden-spirit-in-tibet-in-bid-to-further-discredit-dalai-lama/#sthash.A084NZU1.dpuf