Acceptance: the first step toward self-transformation

please don't flush
Sign on yesterday’s train.

Do you ever feel that you have lost or are in the process of losing lots of things and people over the course of this life alone? And that, as you get older, this may just be more and more the story of your life?

From one perspective, yes, the end of collection is dispersion (including, it seems, all the working bits of our body) and the end of meeting is parting. But that is from the point of view of the dualistic mind, the mind of “in here” and “out there”, the mind of self-grasping. Inside our mind there is nothing to lose and nothing to gain, which means that outside our mind there is nothing really to lose or gain either. We may think that we have lost things and people, but we have lost nothing, other than perhaps our illusions. Whether awake, asleep, in this life, in the bardo, everything unfolds as mere karmic appearance to mind, created by our minds, not outside us. The story of our life will be very different if we rewrite it with deep wisdom and unconditional love ~ for then we will not be separated from anyone.

Even death, the biggest loss, is mere aspect of mind, mere imputation; and for people who realize this and are able to access and control their very subtle mind:

For such practitioners, death is just mere name.
They are simply moved from the prison of samsara
To the Pure Land of Heruka. ~ Root Tantra of Heruka  

I stopped long ago

inner peace 5We have everything we need inside us. We need to believe this, for it is true. All the peace and bliss we have ever wanted, all the connection, all the most exquisitely beautiful appearances, have always been part of our nature and potential; we just need to realize this.

And, if we do, we can finally stop running round and round in circles, life after life, following our delusions that have been convincing us that we have to get happiness and get rid of suffering outside the mind, and freaking out when our attempts prove futile. “I stopped long ago”, Buddha said calmly to the mass murderer Angulimala. This “madly hostile man” was in hot pursuit of Buddha, yelling at him to STOP, but failing to catch him even though he was running and Buddha was walking. “It is you who need to stop”, Buddha said. You can watch this scene in the Life of Buddha movie here.

We stop our delusions by transforming them, and we do this by first getting good at accepting that they are there as opposed to suppressing or repressing or combating them, and then trying to transform them. What does acceptance mean? I think part of it is that whenever we feel discouraged or useless or lonely, we can accept that, yes, we feel this way, that’s the way it is, but NOT accept that it is real or that it is me. We don’t accept that these thoughts are about anything particularly real — rather that they are just floating story lines with nothing behind them.

If we allow ourselves to relax and breathe a moment, as explained here, some space might open up around these seemingly solid feelings. They are just weather in the mind – we can let them pass and know that there is peace, that our mind is on our side, that there is in fact plenty of room in our basically okay peaceful sky-like mind for all of this. We make space. We can dilute our thoughts in a container of infinite size. We’re okay. We’ll survive. We might even expand.Dorje Shugden

Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden

Then it is not so hard to gain better perspective and transform whatever is coming up. And there is also powerful help on hand for doing this; we don’t have to do it all alone if we don’t want to. I just received a Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden empowerment and teachings at the International Spring Festival at Manjushri Center in the English Lake District. Dorje Shugden is a Dharma Protector, which means he specializes in helping us keep our minds off delusions and on Dharma. One way he does this is by helping us transform all appearances into the spiritual path, opening our wisdom eyes so that we know what to do with each delight or disaster as it arises, generating Dharma minds such as renunciation, compassion, or wisdom.

Dorje Shugden overcomes obstacles and helps us gather favorable conditions for Dharma practice, and after making lots of prayers to him over the past few days I now find myself writing this in the quiet seclusion of first class on the train from Preston to London Euston, which is weird as I never travel first class and have zero recollection of buying a first-class ticket. In fact I know I didn’t buy one, so this is technically a mistake. But, as it happens, the last two trains to London were cancelled and so standard class is totally jam-packed; yet first class trainhere is little old me in an empty carriage watching the sunset — with free wifi, endless supplies of free coffee and Perrier, place settings, and a box labeled “Delicious Deli Snacks”. The best favorable conditions may not, admittedly, be such luxury, and perhaps I would have more to practice patience with, for example, if I was in steerage like everyone else. But although some might argue that this means I am not quite ready to transform standing in the aisle for 3 and a half hours, and most likely they are right, I am not complaining (much less feeling guilty, even though one or two people have suggested I should be ;-)) This is because it still feels unusual, as if Dorje Shugden orchestrated it; so I am prompted to transform and offer it. And post this article while I am at it.

More later. Meanwhile, over to you – have you had some success in accepting seemingly insurmountable painful emotions and delusions (rather than suppressing them) such that you were then able to do something practical to transform them?

Postscript: Someone has just asked me how they can rely on Dorje Shugden as they haven’t come across this Buddha before. Enlightened beings appear in different forms for different purposes, including as teachers, personal Deities, and Protectors. One simple way to get the numerous benefits of having this Buddha in your life is to consider Dorje Shugden to be the same nature as Wisdom Buddha Manjushri and Je Tsongkhapa — he is the manifestation of the omniscient wisdom of all enlightened beings appearing in this form to protect you. Then just make any requests to him to avert your obstacles and give you favorable conditions for gaining temporary and lasting freedom and happiness.

You can do this, if you like, by thinking he is with you and saying his mantra in your heart:

OM VAJRA WIKI WITRANA SOHA

And/or by using this concise but says-it-all prayer:

All the attainments I desire
Arise from merely remembering you.
O Wishfulfilling Jewel, Protector of the Dharma,
Please accomplish all my wishes.

Dalai Lama, please give religious freedom

four Kadampa lineage Buddhas

I have to say that the Dalai Lama’s attacks on me feel quite personal — he calls me a demon-worshipper, a non-Buddhist, and any other number of unflattering things, and he won’t let me or any other Dorje Shugden practitioner go anywhere near him in case we somehow pollute him — but to be honest when I protested the Dalai Lama, I didn’t feel anything personal about it. I protested his speeches and his actions, not his person. I also don’t care about his political position, except insofar as he is using it to effect a religious ban. I don’t care what religion he practices.

So in this article I have addressed a few of what I feel are quite common misconceptions about my own and other Kadampas’ involvement in calling out the Dalai Lama on his ban and speeches against Dorje Shugden practitioners. In writing this, I also seem to have explored what I think are certain general misconceptions about how Buddhists should be – what tolerance means, what patience means, what compassion means, what religious freedom is, can Buddhists act in the world, and so on. I will be happy to read your feedback in the comments. A friend also co-wrote this, and I thank him for his very helpful input. Also, there are some very thoughtful, insightful comments in the comments section, which I hope you have the chance to read as well.

By the way, people are waking up to the fact — even since I first wrote this — that the Dalai Lama is not, after all, perfect. So the fact that he has done something wrong will perhaps not come as so much as a surprise as it might have done in the past. Recently he has been taken to task for his sexist remarks (for the first time, though he has said these kinds of things before). He has been notoriously homophobic on occasion, and he has admitted on many occasions that he gets angry, including most recently with his staff. If he gets angry with his loyal servants, perhaps it is not such a stretch to see how he can be angry with people who don’t agree with him.

As a Buddhist in the tradition of Buddha Shakyamuni, Je Tsongkhapa, and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, I first made peaceful protests against the Dalai Lama in 1996. Then again in 2008. Then again in 2014. And then again in 2015. I did not become a Buddhist in order to do this. Protesting against one of the world’s most popular figures was not something I’d ever envisaged in my life plan.  I have nothing against the man personally and would love nothing more than to live and let live. But the Dalai Lama has made this very difficult for me.

sign in Gelugpa monastery
“Gelugpa Monastery. Sign reads: “Those who propitiate Dorje Shugden or Have Association with Followers of Shugden May Not Attend or Explore The Territory of the On Going Teaching Program.”

I could go into the ins and outs of how and why the Dalai Lama has banned the practice of Dorje Shugden for political gain using mickey-mouse reasoning and jingoistic superstitions that anyone with ten minutes of Buddhist education could refute, eg, doing this practice destroys Tibet’s hopes of independence and shortens the Dalai Lama’s life. I have looked into all the Dalai Lama’s speeches and their refutations in detail in the past, as have many others, including wise and learned scholars, Yogis and Buddhist masters; and you can find the debates all over the Internet. But why I and many others are protesting comes down, I think, to something very simple that everyone can understand. We are standing up for the fundamental human right to defend ourselves against slander and to have the freedom to practice whatever religion we choose. Seen from the perspective of compassion, the maze of arcane reasoning and obscure religious history doesn’t seem so complicated. We are simply asking for freedom. It is not really that complicated at all.

This is in fact is what we are asking for precisely, and surely it is not too much to ask?: Dalai Lama points

 What’s going on
Dalai Lama cultural revolution quote
Words spoken at Trijang Labrang in Ganden Shartse Monastery, 1999. Since then, he has been true to his word. It has gotten worse, a lot worse.

In the East, the Dalai Lama is clamping down heavily on religious freedom.  In the West, he is publicly slandering a huge number of Buddhists, calling them demon worshippers and cultists, among other things. For example, on Friday March 7 2014, for the first time in history, the Washington National Cathedral, “a spiritual resource for our nation… for people of all faiths and perspectives”, would not open its doors to anyone who makes prayers to the Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden. This ban was clearly displayed on the Dalai Lama’s own website, websites of teaching locations during his teaching tour, and other websites under his jurisdiction around the world. And this is happening again this year. These actions are aimed at destroying a tradition that has brought and could continue to bring deep happiness and mental freedom to millions of people.

Including me. I have been a Kadampa Buddhist for 35 years and it has brought me nothing but benefit. As is often pointed out, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to gain benefit from Buddha’s teachings, they’re common sense for everyone. If you find anything helpful on this blog, all I can say is that any bit of sense on it comes from practicing this tradition of Buddhism in my daily life. This includes making prayers to the Protector Dorje Shugden to help me remove unfavorable conditions (mainly delusions) and gather the necessary inner and outer conditions for me to improve my good qualities and help others. If the Buddhism I practice and share is not really Buddhism, but is spirit worship, a weird sectarian cult, etc, then I don’t know what Buddhism is.

Freedom of thought applies to you too

as a Dorje Shugden practitioner I believe in harmonyTo my fellow Buddhists of any tradition, and to anyone reading this, I am not asking you or anyone else to position yourselves one way or another on it, let alone become anxious or heavy. You don’t have to think about it at all if you don’t want to, of course. Compassion is personal. I am not challenging the Dalai Lama out of grasping, anxiety or aversion, only out of the wish to help and the belief that I can help remedy this situation. My teacher Geshe Kelsang received requests from Dorje Shugden practitioners to help, and, feeling for their plight, developed strong compassion. When I heard and saw what was happening, I prayed and meditated, and I wanted to do something practical too.

Everyone is entitled to their own freedom of thought, this is a fundamental human right, and actually what we are fighting for. As my teacher says, everyone has freedom. Staying happy, harmonious and respectful in our Buddhist communities regardless of whether we wish to work directly to resolve this issue or not is also important – we are after all seeking harmony. Rejecting those with a different opinion is also contradictory to what we want, which is an end to ostracism and persecution.

Also, I don’t believe anything real is going on. This situation is as empty of inherent existence as any other situation, and Buddhists’ main job is still and always will be to remove the main causes of suffering, self-grasping ignorance and its samsaric hallucinations. It might be futile to try to get to “the bottom of all this” – in reality, it is dreamlike appearance like everything else — there is nothing to get to the bottom of. Best to follow wisdom and compassion. The world we normally see does not exist, and that includes this problem.

What is Buddhist tolerance?

knock at doorsI am a huge believer in solving problems through meditation and prayer. But those who say Buddhists should sit passively and solve these kinds of problem ONLY through meditation and prayer may be kind of missing the point. Buddhists are not doormats. They are not inert. They don’t just sit around and stare at their navels. Sometimes I think the Western interpretation of Buddhist tolerance and pacifism gives rise to a mistaken understanding that wishy-washy Buddhists are afraid to deal with reality head on, honestly, and as it appears. “I mustn’t do that or suddenly I’ll be seen as unpeaceful or political. I must allow others to abuse me because if I don’t I’m being self-cherishing.” Of course if you have a headache, take a pill. If your car breaks down, fix it. If someone is behaving inappropriately, tell them to stop. This is normal stuff when human beings are living together. Most Buddhists in their day to day lives advocate for others and engage in active compassionate activities. There are some Bodhisattva vows that directly encourage this, such as going to the assistance of those in need, and helping others overcome their bad habits and negative actions.

There are two types of problem requiring two types of solution. For example, if my car breaks down, that is the car’s problem, an outer problem. If I get upset about it, I have a problem now, an inner problem, the only actual problem. The way to solve my problem is by changing my mind through patience, for example. But however patient I am, my car will not miraculously start running again – to solve that outer problem I need to take it to the garage.

Therefore, with a patient heart, I am asking the Dalai Lama (1) to stop lying; and (2) to give religious freedom. That’s all.

The importance of motivation

Dorje Shugden himself is a manifestation of stainless wisdom that is supreme inner peace, not a manifestation of delusion; and yet he appears in the aspect of supreme, skilful, compassionate activity. Buddha Tara likewise. Not to mention all the wrathful Deities in Buddhism. As Buddhists, we work with our minds, so we ask ourselves not so much, “What do my actions look like” but “What is the mind or motivation behind them?” When I ask myself what is my teacher’s reason for speaking up, for example, I can see clearly that it is because of his deep compassion – and he doesn’t mind if his actions make him unpopular amongst the powers that be. Our freedom of speech and action is informed by compassion and wisdom. When it is informed by delusions, we know it is not really free.

Nothing personal

As mentioned at the beginning, the Dalai Lama’s attacks on me can feel quite personal — he calls me a demon-worshipper, a non-Buddhist, and any other number of unflattering things, and he won’t let me or any other Dorje Shugden practitioner go anywhere near him in case we somehow pollute him — but to be honest when I protest the Dalai Lama, I don’t feel anything personal about it. I am protesting his speeches and his actions, not his person. I also don’t care about his political position, except insofar as he is using it to effect a religious ban. I don’t care what religion he practices.

“Stop lying” is not the same as saying “We hate you”. It is not personal. It can even be loving, if that is what is motivating it, just as a mother loves her child even when she tells him off for telling big fat porkies.

He can think what he wants
monks forced to vote
Monks forced to sign saying they will not pray to Dorje Shugden

There is nothing wrong in the Dalai Lama thinking that Dorje Shugden is a sectarian demon, or whatever it is he thinks – it is the ban and persecution that are wrong. The Dalai Lama does not have a right to repress other people’s rights.  The Dalai Lama does have a right to express his opinion … and we have a right to disagree. So if he says such stupid things in public, whoever he is and however popular, I also reserve the right to call him out on that in public, to say “Where is your proof? Why are you slandering us? Please stop.”  If the Dalai Lama says he is challenging our views, then he needs to discuss it – but he has never discussed it with anyone, including Geshe Kelsang, who has written several open letters asking him to. The Dalai Lama needs to give good reasons. A bearded monk strangling a villager in a dream is not going to cut it.

Don’t shoot the messenger

To those who say that our calling out the famous face of Buddhism is causing disharmony in the Buddhist world and giving Buddhism a bad name, I reply, “Why are you shooting the messenger?” There is already very serious disharmony in both India and over here in the West, and the reputation and very survival of Buddhism is under grave threat as a result of the Dalai Lama’s speeches and actions. He only needs to give one speech retracting the ban and restoring people’s rights, and the problem is over. We can all get on with our lives and practices in peace and harmony.

Calling out the Dalai Lama is like “shooting Bambi”, as one journalist put it to me in the 1990s, saying that no one would want to be the first to do that. But doesn’t someone have to challenge him if his actions are in direct contradiction to his honeyed words?

Was the boy wrong to call out, “But the emperor has no clothes!”?

Harmony

When we say to the Dalai Lama, “Justify what you are saying and lift the ban”, we are trying to create harmony, not disharmony. We are standing up for Tibetans who practice the same tradition as us but have zero opportunity to question or demonstrate. Challenging someone is not creating disharmony. If someone for whatever reason is saying things that are not true based on whatever reason, we try to correct that in compassionate ways – and if a public figure is influencing others to take on wrong views, we can challenge that publicly. It is a misunderstanding that to act or take a position against others’ views is somehow disharmonious or unBuddhist or not “right action”.

Buddhist tolerance and debate

Buddha Shakyamuni

In King of Concentration Sutra, Buddha says:

If someone generates attachment when hearing this Dharma,
And anger when hearing non-Dharma,
And out of pride destructively refutes,
Later they will experience suffering through the force of their pride.

If we are attached to our own ego, we might think we are a better person because of our special view and have aversion for others with other views, in which case we’d be entirely missing the main point of Buddha’s teachings, which is to overcome the three poisons of self-grasping ignorance, attachment and anger.

This quote seems to me the essence of Buddhist tolerance and wisdom, understanding that everyone needs to find their own path, the one that works for them. We test Buddha’s teachings like gold to see if they work for us personally because no one, not even Buddha himself, can force us to change – we have to want to take the medicine ourselves.  It doesn’t stop us debating with others – there is a long, rich, history of Buddhist masters debating and converting people to Buddhism that way (for the record, both Tibetans and Westerners have been asking and petitioning  to discuss and debate this with the Dalai Lama, but in 6,508 days and counting he hasn’t even agreed to a five-minute meeting with us.) I am not protesting out of attachment to my tradition, or anger that the Dalai Lama doesn’t like my tradition any more (even though he grew up in it). I am not trying to punish or hurt the Dalai Lama. This analogy is more how I feel about it:

shop
To Devotees of Avalokiteśvara
In Camp no. 3, near the mustachioed Amdo’s restaurant, a shop owned by a family of camp 4, they are Shugden worshipers, thus you all are strongly recommended not to walk in or buy anything from this shop.
signed: the group of enemy defeaters

If you were in a burning building, and you were able to hold a fire door open, and someone is standing in front of it saying: “Don’t come through here, it is dangerous, you’ll really regret it”, you’d say “Stop lying, can you let people pass through this door please.” You’re not angry at them; it is not even about them. This is not about the Dalai Lama but about keeping that door open and allowing people to go through. He can go through it or not, or find his own door, but please, we are asking, don’t obstruct other people going through if they want to, they need freedom and choice.

Not only is this not a personal attack, but it is also not contradictory with having love for him, wanting him to come through too, or find his own way, or whatever he can do to stop burning up. This is not being mean to the poor Dalai Lama, or slandering him. That sentimentality is not compassion. Geshe Kelsang once said that protesting the Dalai Lama is loving him.

Or let’s say you’re dispensing some effective medicine that people trust, and another company has some other product and is telling everyone that yours is poison, would you not object: “Hey, a lot of research has gone into this, it has been proven over generations to work, stop lying! Don’t kick people out of their homes, monasteries, health clinics, or communities if they take it! Don’t spit at them! Don’t stop them sending their kids to school!” Etc.

If the Dalai Lama wants to keep victimizing Dorje Shugden practitioners, saying that Dorje Shugden is a spirit, harmful to Tibet, causing him to die early, etc, he has to prove it. But he has provided no evidence for any of it.

Church and state

May everyone have religious freedom Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden I believe that many of the rights we take for granted today came about because the West allows freedom of speech and people have taken advantage of it. The Dalai Lama is slandering us in public and we are replying to him in public. In America there is a healthy history of standing up for ourselves, as we have been doing these last few weeks and years. We are challenging the lie that has been perpetuated because this tradition was very established and we haven’t done anything wrong. We are not spirit worshippers. We are not Chinese agents trying to harm Tibet or the Dalai Lama. We are not an obscure non-Buddhist sect. We are not the Taliban of Buddhism. These are unsubstantiated lies that have made us unpopular and mistrusted among many people in the West. And meantime we protest also because our fellow practitioners are experiencing even deeper abuses in India.

If you research some of the links on here or elsewhere, you’ll find many speeches and videos of the Dalai Lama calling on people to enforce his ban of these prayers, vilifying practitioners, and explicitly saying, “If they are unhappy with this, tell them it comes directly from me.” There are also multiple videos of members of the government in Tibet in Exile saying that they never disagree with the Dalai Lama, have no doubt about any of his decisions, and that he is not human, he is a Buddha. In this case, the Dalai Lama created this religious persecution, he continues to incite people to enforce it, and he has never tried to stop the violence. One word from him and the violence would stop.

yellow card Dalai Lama ban of Dorje Shugden
The infamous yellow card

This is why we have a separation of church and state over here – so that all religions can live together without one deciding to boot out all the others and deny them their rights. Unfortunately, there is no such separation in the office of the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama preaches tolerance, but in Tibetan society you have to sign to say you are not a Dorje Shugden practitioner or associated with one, otherwise you will lose your job, your income, your friends etc. People are being forced to reject their objects of refuge. Different religions in the USA may gripe at each other, but it would be entirely unacceptable over here to have to carry a card around to prove that you had sworn that you were not a Jew, for example, or associated with one.

What is going on in Uganda? An example of the need for free speech.

Switch out some of the words in this news article about Yoweri Museveni suppressing gays in Uganda and you could be talking about what is going on with the Dalai Lama. Eg, “penalty for those convicted of being Dorje Shugden practitioners”, “requires Tibetans to report anyone they suspect of being a Dorje Shugden practitioner”, “the tussle over the ban has drawn attention away from the Dalai Lama’s increasingly autocratic rule”, “local media have made anti-Dorje Shugden sentiment synonymous with patriotism”.

And if Yoweri Museveni came over here to spout anti-gay lies in public, saying gay people are “wrong, all wrong”, etc, (as the Dalai Lama has said about us), would people not stand up in public and say “Give gays in Uganda freedom” and “Stop lying about what it means to be gay”? I think they would. They would not want their freedoms to be eroded through passivity. And would people object to those protestors, “Don’t be so mean to Museveni, you are causing disharmony! And anyway what has it got to do with you what happens to gay people over there, you can be gay over here if you want to …?” I don’t think they would. To me, the two placards held at the peaceful protests, “Stop lying” and “Give religious freedom”, therefore say it all.

In the West people are free to make up their minds for themselves, and not everyone will blindly listen to the Dalai Lama just because he is a famous religious leader.  The protests provide a forum where we can say what we have to say, peacefully, with no one rioting or threatening the Dalai Lama, so that people CAN make up their own minds, can inform themselves rather than simply believing what the Dalai Lama is saying because he is famous and we would all like him to be a perfect, pure being. We are raising a red flag and, hopefully, a debate leading to a solution.

Religion, not politics
Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche
Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. The Dalai Lama’s teachers and Dorje Shugden practitioners.

I think another mistaken view is that any verbal or publicly physical positions are political, in which case you’d have to say that Buddha was a politician and not a spiritual teacher because he took a position. Lying is wrong. Killing is wrong. Harming others is wrong. These actions are wrong. Buddha was not seeking power. Many Buddhist masters have challenged other schools and teachers who have taught wrong views; there is a rich Buddhist history of that. During the so-called Buddhist “golden age”, they would walk directly and fearlessly into those places, their motivation not to gain worldly power but to keep the door to liberation open for that time and place. Tilopa had already sorted out his own problems, for example, and attained enlightenment, so he debated not for his liberation and certainly not for power as he remained a mendicant throughout his life. His purpose was simply Heruka’s compassion to keep the doors to liberation open for the people at that time.

So if someone says Buddha’s teachings are wrong, or Trijang Rinpoche’s teachings are wrong, it seems like partially my responsibility as a practitioner to keep those doors to liberation within the Kadampa lineage open for the people of this world. I am not saying that there are no other doors to liberation, I am not saying that, but this is MY tradition, it is special to me, and I want to share that with other people. And if someone of great influence is telling lies about it, saying it is the doorway to suffering, then it is very normal to respond, “No, actually, you’re wrong. You are lying”. To encourage a debate on that. And that is all I am doing. So where is the politics in that? There is no politics in that.

How can the Dalai Lama and his actions be such a threat to religious freedom for Kadampa practitioners in the West, especially in the U.S.A.?

one does not simply ban Dorje ShugdenEveryone in the media calls the Dalai Lama the leader of the Tibetans and also the Pope-like leader of Buddhism, and he uses this influence within the Buddhist world, claiming to be a representative. “I know Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition,” as he said in a recent encounter with a protesting nun, “and this is wrong”. It is very common for people to come to Kadampa centers, for example, and ask “What does the Dalai Lama think of you?”, even though he is not our religious leader. I believe that due to his position the Dalai Lama has powerful speech and the ability to seriously harm if not destroy the New Kadampa Tradition and Je Tsongkhapa’s pure lineage.  For me, this is the ideal moment to try and protect it.

Right now we have the freedom to practice, but if we don’t challenge those views in a democracy, where there is freedom of speech, then those are the views that get heard, and become influential, it is as simple as that; and finally they are the views that carry. The alternative is to use our freedom of speech to maintain a healthy challenge and a healthy debate so that the power of that speech becomes mixed with the power of debate and uncertainty, which is opposing fanaticism, not creating it. The whole history of feminism, gay rights, civil rights, etc, is all about challenging those views so that people can raise their consciousness about these things. “Hang on a second, perhaps black people are not in fact inferior, and should have the same freedoms as white people.”

What would have happened if no one had ever chained themselves to railings or ridden at the front of a bus, or if MLK or Gandhi had never stood up?  And so on. I have a dream of two different peoples living together. Let us do what we do and you do what you do, and don’t lie about us.

“Oh it’ll just go away on its own”, some people say, but why? There are still racists and homophobes over in the West, but the point is they are challenged daily, and for as long as that happens the rights of vulnerable groups are being protected.

People who protest the status quo don’t necessarily look cool at the time – for example feminists were labelled hysterical, extreme, militant, unwomanly, etc, but today I am very much enjoying their kindness. We Kadampas are often labelled “unBuddhist”, uncool, this is not “right action”. If protesting the Dalai Lama doesn’t make me look cool, but helps lift the ban, I don’t mind looking uncool.

 “And who are we as Kadampas to take the moral high ground when our own tradition is not completely free from stain (not the teachings of course, but the behavior of certain practitioners).”

Someone asked me this question the other day. But I think it is illogical. It’s like saying, who are you to argue that Yoweri Museveni is wrong and abusing human rights in Uganda when you still get angry with your friends or people in your group might be shoplifters? Although I can be wrong about other things and make mistakes in my life, this doesn’t mean what the Dalai Lama is doing is not wrong – it is still wrong. I need to improve and remove my own faults – that is still my main job, of course. But this argument above is like saying, “Why try and protect that shelter dog when you can’t protect yourself yet?” or “If you have any delusions, keep your mouth shut.” We are not being holier than thou. We are just trying to keep the door open.

Most of our lives, of course, hopefully 100%, are spent in trying to practice this tradition ourselves or there is no meaning of the fraction of time we spend in protests.

Thank you for reading this, I know it was long! Your turn now. Comments welcome.

SOME LINKS

Some news coverage from UK, September 2015.

Evidence of segregation

Dalai Lama must answer tough questions on Shugden Buddhists

May 21 2014 Tibetan Government’s Wanted List of Tibetans attending demonstrations

Hundreds turn out for Dalai Lama’s visit to National Cathedral ~ ABC 7 news story March 7 2014

Washington Post Article ~ March 6 2014

Attending a protest ~ one Buddhist’s account

1990s peaceful prayer vigils.

It is not just advice, he banned it.

Gelugpa monastery surrounded.

Thousands of monks expelled.

Kadampa (NKT) Centers all practice Dorje Shugden. If you haven’t seen this website, it gives a clear indication of why NKT practitioners want to join in with the protests to let the world know the Dalai Lama is slandering us and why we need to ask him to stop. “All this activity is perpetrating a schism in the present-day Buddhist Sangha by marginalizing and demonizing the NKT.”

For incidents of discrimination in India and elsewhere.

Why is the Dalai Lama suppressing religious freedom?  Check out all the links on this fairly comprehensive site.

The False Dalai Lama.

Lots more background, documentation, reasoning, etc.

Dorje Shugden history site.

Dorje Shugden debate site.

NBC coverage of recent protests.

“Not allowed to share religious and material relation with Dholgyal worshippers!” 

First-hand experience of recent discrimination in the East.

First-hand experience of recent discrimination in the West.

The Dalai Lama — love him but stop him.

Dalai Lama, the God-King.

Swiss documentary Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Another independent documentary by France 24.

An interview with Geshe Kelsang for Tricycle magazine.

Background article by one of the Dalai Lama’s translators. 

“I mean if female Dalai Lama come, then that female must be very attractive, otherwise not much use.” ~ Dalai Lama quote September 2015.

SOME VERY WATCHABLE VIDEOS

Dalai Lama, the “God-King”  The Dalai Lama was enthroned age 5 in Lhasa Tibet in February 1940. Since then there has been 68 years of unelected rule in which the Tibetan (and since 1959 the Tibetan exile community) has had ONE political and religious leader whose decisions can never be questioned.

How NOT to Love Your Enemies – with Prof. Robert Thurman During his book tour, promoting his NEW book: “Love Your Enemies”, Professor Robert Thurman demonstrates how to NOT to love your enemies, by responding to a question by attendee Morten Clausen, who politely asked Professor Thurman why he treats Shugden practitioners with so much antipathy and disrespect.

The dark side of the Dalai Lama ~ in his own words.

The case against the Dalai Lama and the recent history of Shugden discrimination ~ from a panel discussion at SOAS August 2014.

Tibetans from the International Shugden Community talk about the segregation and abuse suffered by friends and family as a result of the Dalai Lama’s actions. August 26 2014.

Click here for more videos.

No more nervous Nellie

Tomorrow’s another day

There have been some great comments on the previous no worry articles, including this one from DhiDakini: “In a meditation class, someone asked the teacher about the emotion of anxiety. I remember that he said in answer:

“Doesn’t it seem strange and so interesting that we sit in a pleasant moment and worry about things that AREN’T happening right now…?”

 It seemed so pithy and yet so staggeringly deep in that moment for me – made me wonder “WHY would I every worry again?’ Ha! (Then I started worrying about worrying too much…)”

Less of the me, me, me

Do any of these adjectives describe you: Nervous, agitated, anxious, apprehensive, tense, edgy, excitable, fearful, fidgety, flustered, hesitant, highly strung, hyper? What is the leitmotif of all of these states of mind? “Me”. We need to work on less of Me. If we are in the habit of worrying about ourself or those we are attached to, the smallest thing can fill our mind, crowding out all other perspectives, so we become rigid, blinkered and myopic. I give one example here.

Worrying is a huge distraction. It may pretend to be helpful in getting things done, but in truth it distracts us from helping others. Worry saps our joy and does nothing to fix a situation – we can solve problems more energetically and effectively with a light mind of patience. You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time. Worry is actually very tiring. And when we are tense, people can catch it from us (unless they are protected by the mind of love or  wisdom), and so things go backward in that sense too.

Fiona Layton says: “Habit yes it is, like all delusions. Worry comes from fear, which comes from self-cherishing, especially the part that needs to control the outcomes for myself and others.”

Taking and giving

We can be pretty sure that everyone worries a lot if they don’t have control over their mind. So, when you worry, it’s a good time to do taking and giving for everyone, especially those who are having a similar worry to yourself. How many people have to take care of sick cats or, even harder, sick children? We can take on their suffering and give them relief and everything else they need. Get the self out of the way and the worry goes but the compassion and love increase.

Quick explanation of how to do taking and giving

For those who are not familiar with the so-called “magical practice of taking and giving”, you can find it in this free eBook by Geshe Kelsang, Modern Buddhism, pages 95ff. You can also find it in Vide Kadampa’s Daily Lamrim blog.

Just in brief, for taking, with a mind of compassion we imagine we are taking on all the sufferings of others individually or collectively in the aspect of thick smoke, which dissolves into our self-cherishing at our heart and blows it up. We feel joy at having removed others’ suffering and destroyed our own worst enemy, self-cherishing, and meditate on this for as long as we can.

For giving, with the love wishing others to be happy we imagine that our body transforms into a wishfulfilling jewel, from which light rays radiate to touch all living beings, giving them whatever they need or wish for. As a result they experience a lasting and perfect joy and happiness. We too feel joy and meditate on this for as long as possible.

We can also combine the practice of taking and giving with our breathing, which really is one of the most fun and powerful methods for making our daily life meaningful. Not only does it reduce our worry, but it also improves our love and compassion, and creates potent causes for being actually able to bring happiness and freedom to others in the future. (If we understand emptiness, we’ll get the idea how everything begins (and ends!) in the imagination.) Taking and giving is taught in the books Universal Compassion and Eight Steps to Happiness.

On Facebook, Samuel Forbes beautifully explained how helpful taking and giving can be: “I suffer from intense anxiety (panic disorder) and I’ve found meditation on taking extremely helpful when panic sets in. In my experience, anxiety stems from self-cherishing, at least for me. When I’m anxious, I’m only worried about myself, not others. So, when meditating on taking, it helps me think of the fear others experience and I imagine taking it upon myself in the form of black smoke, ridding myself of self-grasping (the source of the fear) at my heart and developing compassion, purification and so forth all at once. Beautiful. With enough concentration and blessings it can work extremely quickly, sometimes in a matter of seconds, not only taking the fear away, but actually making the mind peaceful and happy. It is far more effective than any conventional medicine I’ve tried over the years.”

Victoria Kaya added: “My brother was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and most of my close family suffers from a rare heart condition. I know it can be difficult at that time not to worry; however the time I have spent in hospital I feel that the practice of taking and giving helped me to feel like I was able to do something for them and not feel helpless.”

You’re not alone

As explained in Ralph’s story, we can also turn our worries over through prayer, if we have faith. This method has worked pretty well for many people over the ages! As Sally Anne Atkinson says: “Hand it over :)” We obviously don’t have to be Buddhists to do this.

Mike Hume gives some personal examples: “When I look back at my life I can see many times when I have been in dangerous situations, several involving motorbikes. Once I fell in the river and was rescued and resuscitated, another time I was rescued from a large window falling on me, and there have been numerous less serious situations as well. Once I prayed very hard to Geshe Kelsang and Dorje Shugden [a so-called “Dharma Protector” who is the same as Wisdom Buddha Manjushri] to save my brother who was on life support when his vital signs were well below critical, and he survived; and I prayed in the same way when I was in a plane in a storm, when the captain announced, “A hole in the clouds has just appeared”. Fiona Layton says: “When I feel that I am not equipped to deal with certain situations, then I have forgotten my Spiritual Guide and Dorje Shugdan and all the other countless Buddhas who could bless my mind if I turned to them and instantly feel relaxed. This normally happens when I have skipped my prayers and Lamrim (must do it now actually!)” Maria Tonella says: “In reality for me there is not a worrying situation that cannot be softened by praying a mantra with faith.”

Have you found that any of the methods in this article have worked for you? Please share your experiences in the comments, and let others know of the article if it’s helpful.

One last article on worry in the pipeline! For all the no worry articles, see No worries.