My plea to His Holiness the Dalai Lama by His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche

Some people would like to say that there is no ban. Some people would like to say there is a ban. And some people are not even sure what the ban is about. There are some people who said that the ban is not such a big deal because you have all the freedom to practice. Well, back in the 1960s and 1970s in USA America, and I like to use this example because I’m from the US and I experienced this when I was growing up… not directly and not as harshly, but there was desegregation in the 1960s, the desegregation of black people going to school with white people. This is because during that time, black people and white people could not go to school together. That would also include brown people, yellow people, red people; people of any colour that were not white were segregated to different schools.

So when desegregation came and they had to integrate, all blacks and whites went to the same school. And although federally everybody was allowed to go to school together and there was integration, still the old prejudices, the old thoughts, the people who thought that people who were not white were inferior, or that they didn’t deserve to be with whites, were still there. So although the law was enacted in 1964 that everyone goes to the same school, there’s no more segregation based on colour, yet when people went to all-white schools, they had rocks thrown at them. They had people threaten them, they had people beat them up, they had people called them names, and it was a long road to integration. It took another 10, 15, 20 years where a lot of black people and people of colour were not scorned or hurt or abused in schools that were predominantly white. People said, “Well, what are black people complaining about? They get to go to the schools, they are going to the schools, and the law says they can go to the schools.” But you see, the law is one thing; people’s prejudice is another thing. People’s prejudice came from a law that said “blacks can’t go to school with whites. People of colour couldn’t go to school with whites.”

So that law was in place for many decades in the United States. When I went to school in the early 70s in America, I didn’t suffer as much as the black people did back in the 40s, 50s and 60s but there was prejudice in the schools. I did suffer a lot of racial discrimination while I was in school, being called names (racial slurs), and being cornered, and being abused, that did happened. It wasn’t as intense and as bad as what black people had to suffer in the “heyday” of segregation. I’m perhaps oversimplifying what happened, and I don’t mean any disrespect to the sufferings of the black people, and even the good white people who thought that this was wrong, because not all white people thought that this was right either. So I am not trying to disrespect what happened to the black people and the good white people, but these days in America if you say segregation of schools, of people of colour, people will be surprised. The generation now will be like, “Huh?! What are you talking about?” Nobody will stand for it. But back in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s in America, that’s how it was for people of colour, especially the beautiful black people and white people.

Similarly, a lot of people now say, “Well, there’s no ban against Dorje Shugden. You have your own monasteries, you have your own properties, you have your own places, just don’t come to our place.” Well that doesn’t make sense to me because, why is there our own place? Why are there our own monasteries, our own properties when these did not exist prior to 1996? Prior to 1996, all Dorje Shugden practitioners and non-Dorje Shugden practitioners were in the same monasteries, the same hospitals, the same schools, the same government positions, the same kind of meetings/gatherings. They all went to the same Lamas but after 1996, when the ban was introduced and heavily enforced, then suddenly there were Dorje Shugden monasteries and non-Dorje Shugden monasteries. Dorje Shugden people cannot go to the hospitals, cannot go to the schools, cannot have the equal educational opportunities and jobs within the Tibetan community that non-Dorje Shugden people have.

To say that there is no ban BUT if you wish to practice, you can’t be with us – that may not be a ban in name but that is the ban in action, in spirit, and in real life. And I myself am a Dorje Shugden practitioner, and I have suffered taunts, threats, negative reactions, degradation, bias, prejudice. I have suffered all that only because I am a Dorje Shugden practitioner. Here’s the link to an article that I have put in – Will the Dalai Lama Agree With This? You can see the amount of hatred that I experienced simply because I am a Dorje Shugden practitioner. I don’t steal, I don’t lie, I don’t kill. I hold my monk vows, I do my meditation, I do my practice, I teach Dharma, I help people as much as I can, I help animals, I help the homeless, and I do the best I can as an ordinary human being can do. Yet I’m not allowed to go to a Tibetan hospital, I can’t join the monastery that I come from, I cannot go to any of the Dalai Lama’s teachings. And it’s not that I need to go the Dalai Lama’s teachings, but why is it that only this group of people cannot go to the Dalai Lama’s teachings? That doesn’t make sense.

So if you say there’s the freedom to practice, yet you put people down all the time and you are violent towards them, and you are saying negative things against them, and you’re always prejudiced against them and keep everything separate, I don’t think that’s the freedom to practice. I think that in name it looks like the freedom to practice but in actual life, there’s a heavy prejudice against Dorje Shugden practitioners and they had to suffer quite a lot.

This all came from the Tibetan leadership, I’m sorry. This can only be eliminated by the Tibetan leadership because there was no such thing prior to 1996. None. There was no such thing prior to 1996. I went to Gaden Monastery and when I entered Gaden Monastery in January 1988, everything was fine. But in 1996, Gaden Monastery had to split into two and physically split in two in 2009. It had to split into Gaden Monastery and Shar Gaden Monastery. The properties had to be split in two, the monks cannot meet. The monks who chose to pray to Dorje Shugden cannot talk and meet with monks who do not practice Dorje Shugden; that did not exist prior to 1996/2009. Therefore, whether we want to call it a ban, whether we want to call it not a ban, there is prejudice against Dorje Shugden people and by me putting up these placards, I’m sending a message to the Tibetan leadership in a very respectful manner that this ban should be removed. It is undemocratic, it is unethical, it is not spiritual and we are biasing a group of people from the fundamental rights of religious practice and also the right to practice in peace without being scorned, feared, abused, or berated. I’m not fighting for this fundamental right; I deserve it, I’m born with it and I’m asking for everyone not to take it away. So I’m not asking for the right because I’m born with it; I’m asking for people not to take away what I am born to.

Secondly, when I made these placards and I send the message to the leadership and people who don’t like Dorje Shugden practitioners, I don’t mean any disrespect to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I don’t mean any disrespect to the leadership or anyone, but I’m expressing my pain, my sorrow, my disappointment and all the sufferings that I and many of us – thousands of us – have endured because of this prejudice against Dorje Shugden practitioners. I think that when we are speaking up against something that is wrong, I do not think that we should insult, put down, be harsh, use negative words or point at faults, mimic, or hurt the person that we are trying to get to change what is happening. You see, because when they do that to us and they hurt us, we don’t have to hurt them back.

My practice of Buddhism and my commitment to Buddha’s teachings, to karma and cause and effect, tells me that even though the ban has caused me so much problems – for us and for myself – it doesn’t give me the right to be rude, to berate, to degrade and to fight back in a way that is disrespectful, that is not polite, that is not right. Because when we use impolite messages, and we start to point at people’s personal so-called downfalls that we perceive – whether existing or not – and when we start calling people negative names all the time, what happens is that people start to not see what you are standing up for. They start focusing on your negative speech, your negative representation, and your negative method of bringing the message across. What happens then is that instead of them focusing on the message, they are focusing on the messenger. So if I am always going to put the Dalai Lama down, which I dare not and I would not do… and we shouldn’t do that to any sentient being because if even we are in the right, we are not excluded or divorced from karma and its effects.

So therefore, if I am bringing this message to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and I am bringing it to his ministers and people in power, the Tibetan leadership. I am asking them respectfully as a human, as a Tibetan, as a person that still respects them, that you do other things that are good. But this one thing can you please look into it? Can you please do something about it because it is hurting a lot of people and it is not right? When we approach people and we want to create a change, the change we wish to create we should not precipitate with vulgarities, rudeness, threats, bad language, pointing out their negative points, calling them negative labels. Why? Because we are not divorced from karma. Whatever they say to us has karma; whatever we say to them has karma. When we start using methods which are rude and impolite, we send the message to the world that we are what they say we are. “We are rude; Dorje Shugden practice does make us bad. Dorje Shugden’s practice does make us angry and violent” – that’s not true so since that is not true, we cannot use violent, rude, negative, degrading types of language against the people or person whom we’re requesting for a change. The reason is we want everyone to please focus on the message and what we’re trying to achieve and not so much the messenger. We have to be polite, respectful and stick to the laws of cause and effect in person and even on social media. We must send the right message out of reconciliation. If They cannot think in this manner, we must think in this manner because we have taken refuge in Dharma. We must refrain from rude words, sarcasm or attacking them on a personal level. None of us are perfect. To speak, write and act in polite dharmic ways is the best way to approach people we wish to create changes, to bring the ban down. We have been wronged, but we must forgive.

Therefore my method of doing this is the peaceful way, the respectful way. The way to achieve equality, non-segregation and removal of the ban is by doing it this way, by addressing the people with a respectful, polite and good manner. And I feel that if we pursue in this type of way, it will have much more effect, it will be more effective, and it will be more humanly. We must treat others the way we want to be treated. Even if they are not treating us well, we still must attempt and treat them back well. Because this will send a good message to everyone out there that yes, we are working towards removing the ban against Dorje Shugden and all the pain it has caused, but we do not want to create pain back to the people who has caused us pain. We want to set a good example to onlookers and bystanders also. We do not want to create unhappiness or problems for them. We would like them to look at the problem, sit down and discuss, and come to a mutual agreement where both parties will win. I repeat: I would like both parties, the Dorje Shugden practitioners and the non-Dorje Shugden practitioners, to gather together and speak and talk politely, drink tea, human to human, intelligent being to another intelligent being. One Dharma practitioner to another, one practitioner who believes in the law of cause and effect, speaking to another practitioner who believes in the law of cause and effect. And to respect the law of cause and effect by exercising politeness, kindness, intelligence, wisdom, debate, and to learn and not to win. Debate is to learn and not to win. Even if they are not practicing or abiding by the law of cause and effect we must do so and take them as our practice. Be courteous when speak out or even when ‘protesting’. Use messages and placards that are polite and respectful. This will bring us further and also spiritually it is correct. We do honor to our gurus and protector when we are kind in the face of unkindness because we take the situation onto the path. Especially if we are sangha or taken vows or are dharma teachers or students.

Therefore I have come out with these placards along with my team. What is written on the placards is some by myself, some is by my team; not everything is from me although my name is on it in order to send a message to everyone who is interested or is involved in this ban in one way or another, or have some ramifications from this ban to please request the Tibetan leadership politely, again and again, without scourging them, without saying negative things against them, to come to the table and talk. I myself do not wish to go to the table and talk, I am a nobody. I have not much knowledge. But I would like the learned people of the Dorje Shugden practitioners and the learned people of the non-Dorje Shugden practitioners to get together and discuss, and come to a good conclusion so that the sufferings of the people who are enduring this ban may end. Hence I have come out with this bunch of placards to be shared on social media to create awareness, and I have spoken up and I have shared.

I request His Holiness the Dalai Lama to please look at the sufferings of all beings, not just non-Dorje Shugden practitioners, and for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to please look at the sufferings of all beings, not just non-Dorje Shugden practitioners. We love you, we respect you, we miss you, we would like to request you to please send representatives down to talk and resolve this. Because if it continues this way, it will not be good all around. Forgive me Your Holiness the Dalai Lama for me to request so directly of you to remove the ban. I bow to you always.


Thank you, Most humbly, and with apologies,
Tsem Rinpoche





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