Spirit worship or authentic Buddhist practice?


Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden practitioners have repeatedly been accused of being spirit worshippers, which is completely untrue. It is also a grave yet nonsensical insult because it implies that they are not pure Buddhist practitioners, whereas in fact they go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha like every other Buddhist. They practice Buddha Shakyamuni's teachings onáthe union of Sutra and Tantra asáexpounded in Je Tsongkhapa's tradition.


For them, Dorje Shugden is not a worldly spirit but a Wisdom Buddha, an emanation of the wisdom of all the Buddhas appearing in a wrathful form to protect practitioners from their own inner enemies of the delusions (i.e. uncontrolled, unpeaceful and negative minds). If other people wish to see him as a spirit, that is their prerogative; but it is very un-Buddhist to slander and persecute those who have never regarded him in that way and who have a close faithful relationship with him as an emanation of a Buddha.


From Geshe Kelsang's letter to the editor in Newsweek, 1997


HH the Dalai Lama claims: "Nobody would pray to Buddha for better business, but they go to Shugden for such favours - and this is where it has become like spirit worship."


This is not true. Many Tibetans pray to other Buddhas such as Tara and make prayers to other Dharma Protectors for success in business and for the removal of obstacles. Why are Shugden practitioners singled out?


Particularly, in the Kadampa tradition we do not pray for worldly attainments such as wealth, reputation, success in business, etc.-- we pray for the welfare of all beings and the attainment of spiritual realizations.


HH the Dalai Lama is also contradicting himself. He previously regarded Dorje Shugden as a Buddha, and composed verses of praise to him that can still be seen today. It is his responsibility to resolve this contradiction.


Authentic spiritual lineage


If the practice of Dorje Shugden is harmful then it follows that Je Phabongkhapa was not an authentic Buddhist master, and if he was not then there is no doubt that his heart disciples, Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (the Senior and Junior Tutors of HH the Dalai Lama) were also not authentic. These three Lamas are the most important Gelugpa Lamas of recent times. If these three are not pure Teachers then there is no doubt that the entire practice of the Gelug Tradition is invalid. This is the main issue that needs clarification.


And from some clarification surrounding the present debate regarding the Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, 1996-8


The Dalai Lama says: "Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit. To seek help from such a spirit detracts from the Buddhist way of relying on one's own efforts and can degenerate into a kind of spirit worship."


Geshe Kelsang's reply:


"How can he prove that Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit? I also asked in these letters for proof that Dorje Shugden is a worldly spirit, but again I have never received any clear reply. The only reason that has been given is that some other Lamas have said this. This is not a valid reason, some other Lamas say Dorje Shugden is the Wisdom Buddha."


A response to the posting by Tseten Samdup: 'Shugden versus pluralism and national unity controversy and clarification', which came from the Department of Information and International Relations, Central Tibetan Administration, Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamsala 176 215, INDIA


Geshe Kelsang: "Concerning whether or not Dorje Shugden is an enlightened being, there can be no final conclusion through negative debate, mixing religion with political aims. This is because from the point of view of many people he is a worldly being, but at the same time from the point of view of many other people he is the Wisdom Buddha. This reasoning applies not only to Dorje Shugden, but to all holy beings.


If someone asked you how to prove that the fifth and fourteenth Dalai Lamas are Buddhas, you would most certainly find it difficult to give clear reasons. On the other hand, if someone asked you how to prove that these two lamas are not Buddhas, you could easily give a clear answer. You could say: they are not Buddhas because they need translators, they get sick, they are unable to come to their own decisions but have to rely on those of oracles, and sometimes they even get angry. How can a Buddha get angry, get sick, and so forth? Buddhas do not need oracles? So talking about this subject is completely meaningless, and only destroys peace and harmony in Buddhist circles."

Political Leader

dalai lamaDalai Lama

The Hypocrisy

Follow the story of the Dalai Lama's 30-year political campaign to destroy a centuries-old spiritual tradition taught to him by his own Spiritual Guide, and the efforts of those he's hurting to stop him:

Brief summary
- What is happening
- What is the Western Shugden Society (WSS)?
- Detailed reports of discrimination from inside India and elsewhere

The Dalai Lama's position
- A Great Deception
- Praise to Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden by the Dalai Lama
- In the Dalai Lama's words

Why is this happening?
- Why is this religious suppression taking place?
- Are the Dalai Lama's reasons valid?

Efforts to restore religious freedom
- Geshe Kelsang's open letter
- The ban is illegal and unconstitutional
- Press reports and videos
- Dorje Shugden Devotee's Charitable and Religious Society
- Dalai Lama sued for repressing religious freedom
- A conflict with a solution
- Announcement from Serpom Norling Monastery

Analysis of situation
- Sectarianism
- Can the Dalai Lama ever make a mistake?
- Is the Dalai Lama the only spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism?
- Theocracy or democracy?
- Spirit worship or authentic Buddhist practice?
- Freedom of worship
- The Dalai Lama's justifications
- Analysis by Dalai Lama's translator (PDF)
- What would Thomas Jefferson think of the 14th Dalai Lama?
- Book Reviews
- Videos

Evidence and first-hand accounts
- Chronological background
- Discord in exile documentary
- Political motivations for the ban
- Summary to date from Tibetan exiles
- Other

Ongoing persecution 2008-2010
- Recent vote sticks and call for help
- Forced signature and ID card campaign
- Persecution of monks at Sera Monasteries
- Public humiliation and explusion of monks
- Letter to Indian Prime Minister regarding abuses
- Letters from Dorje Shugden Devotees
- Urgent appeal from Sera Monasteries
- Support from Indian police
- Western Shugden Society letter to Sera monasteries
- Western Shugden Society letter to TGIE
- Heartfelt request from monks in Mundgod
- More discrimination planned around the world
- Letter from an FPMT monk
- Other
- What you can do

Related Sites

Dorje Shugden