The following piece, entitled “CTA, Stop Irritating China”, openly indicating the authors’ allegiances, appeared at dorjeshugden.com recently, a site allegedly run by Chinese-Malaysian students of the Tsem Tulku at his behest.
While he has repeatedly publicly denied being a Shugden practitioner, disenchanted former followers allege that covert promotion of the practice is widespread throughout Tsem Tulku’s centers. Mounting evidence provided by internet security experts and the testimony of several former devotees would seem to confirm that these allegations are true.
This pro-Chinese propaganda piece from Shugden devotees lays the entire blame for the civil unrest within Tibet at the feet of the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), overlooking the fact that the unrest might also be the result of the illegal occupation of Tibet and slaughter of over a million Tibetans by Chinese communist forces in the 1950s and 1960s.
As is always the case with pro Shugden propaganda, the Dalai Lama’s advice on Shugden practice is disingenuously portrayed as a ‘ban’; this so-called ban, which forms the nucleus around which the authors’ pro-Chinese arguments revolve, is portrayed as preventing the harmonious continuation of “Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage … in its most traditional form” [i.e. with Shugden as its central component], despite the fact that Tsongkhapa died hundreds of years before Shugden’s emergence and therefore could never have propitiated the deity.
The authors claim that in the CTA’s unwillingness to condemn the recent self-immolations within Tibet, they are implicitly encouraging the practice. In fact, it is well known that the Dalai Lama himself and the CTA deplore the immolations as “ineffective” and misguided; however, they feel bound to honor the supreme self-sacrifice of such heroic persons, who give their lives—without harming anyone else—in order to appeal to the hearts of China’s leaders and the world to cease their oppression of the Tibetan people and the military-industrial destruction of Tibet’s environment. Yet the authors of this article do attack the immolators themselves for their ‘non-peaceful protest’, not acknowledging their heroic engagement in the ancient Buddhist practice of self-sacrifice. In this denunciation, they echo the Chinese government’s propaganda line that the immolators are “terrorists,” even though all 134 of them, so far, have not harmed a single other being. The authors also condemn the CTA for ’embarrassing’ Beijing by peacefully raising the issue of widespread human rights abuses with international tribunals, an action they consider unhelpful to the Tibetan cause, perhaps preferring that such abuse went unnoticed by the international community.
Their ‘solution’ to the Tibetan problem is to place all negotiations in the hands of pro-Chinese Shugden Lamas [Gangchen ‘Lama’ is pictured alongside this suggestion], especially because “the Chinese leadership has been supportive of [Shugden practice]”.
The message is clear: the future happiness of the people of Tibet requires that responsibility for autonomy negotiations be taken out of the hands of the ‘reactionary’ Dalai Lama and his CTA ‘running dogs’ and placed directly into those of pro-Chinese Shugden practitioners. The piece does not however address the issue of whether these so-called ‘lamas’ have at their heart the interest of the Tibetan people, ruthlessly oppressed and frequently slaughtered by the Chinese for their peaceful religious beliefs, or, more likely in the case of Shugden lamas, concerns for their own wealth, power and status, inside Tibet and beyond.
“CTA, Stop Irritating China”
It is clear from recent events that wherever the CTA (CTA; Tibetan leadership based in Dharamsala) does not have a strong influence, there is harmony and Lama Tsongkhapa’s lineage is able to thrive in its most traditional form. In Tibet, where the CTA is not able to influence the local population, Dorje Shugden’s practice has been spreading throughout the monasteries, thanks to the hard work of the lamas combined with the faith of the lay community. This has been possible with the support of the local authorities, which is not unreasonable since Shugden practitioners have always been very respectful of the local government and the laws of the land.
On the other hand, the CTA (formerly known as the Tibetan Government-in-Exile) has always been a thorn in China’s side. The Chinese leadership has always considered the CTA as a separatist group for actively working towards an independent Tibet. The CTA’s campaign for an independent Tibet is in spite of the fact that the Dalai Lama has been for many years seeking self-autonomy, in the same manner as Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the Chinese government has turned a deaf ear on all of the CTA’s proposals thus far.
In order to move forward in negotiations with the Chinese, it would be wise to examine the possible reasons for this rejection. After all, it has been over 50 years since the Tibetan leadership established themselves in Dharamsala and they have not come any closer to dialogue with the Chinese leadership, let alone an agreement. Perhaps it would be sensible for them to review their methods and establish a realistic set of goals.
It would also be sensible of them to review who it is they are seeking dialogue with, and to review the current situation. China has always been sensitive to any matters related to Tibet and the CTA have not been respectful of this. Instead, the CTA have repeatedly and consistently supported parties and groups whose goal is to destabilize the community there. For example, the CTA refused to condemn self-immolations which were held in support of independence, thus indicating they were supportive of the self-immolators’ motivations. This is despite the CTA’s claims that they are a non-violent and peaceful leadership; onlookers would very much agree that self-immolations are in no way a peaceful form of protest. Likewise, the CTA has lent their support to groups who call for a boycott of Chinese goods, or who have sought to embarrass the Chinese government by suing them and taking them to international tribunals.
The CTA seems to be acting without a particular goal in mind. Some factions campaign for independence; others prefer autonomy. Regardless of whatever result they are pushing for, neither group has ever considered nor spoken seriously about what will happen if they are able to return to Tibet. For example, how will generations of Tibetans born outside of Tibet integrate into a largely modernized society that is familiar with leadership from Beijing, not Dharamsala? How will the Tibetan leadership merge their policies with those of Beijing, to ensure harmony for the people?
For the CTA to assume Beijing will automatically approve all of their current policies is ludicrous, especially if those policies are harmful to China at large. Thus the CTA also have to consider the ban on Dorje Shugden. The implementation of the Dorje Shugden ban is a constant reminder that if the CTA were to assume governance of Tibet, they would push for the continuance of this ban. This ban however, would only serve to divide the Tibetan people, and disharmony is something the Chinese leadership is very much sensitive to.
We come to the above conclusion because thus far, the ban has caused great schism within the Tibetan communities in India and Nepal. This schism is at a level which the Chinese authorities will not tolerate; families breaking up, monasteries splitting, monks and nuns protesting, people attacking religious institutions and banning certain sectors from accessing basic social welfare services. In fact, no modern government would tolerate such a divisive and medieval ban like the one that has been systematically implemented on Dorje Shugden practitioners in Tibetan communities throughout India and Nepal. From the standpoint of the governance of a nation, a religious ban does nothing but divide the people and that, in essence, makes the Dorje Shugden ban a separatist act. Thus the CTA needs to consider if their ban on Dorje Shugden is helping their goals for returning to Tibet – will the Chinese leadership want dialogue with a group that has done nothing but proven their schismatic nature amongst their people inside and outside of Tibet?
It is undeniable that China’s economic strength makes her a powerful and formidable enemy. For the CTA who continue to rely on donations and handouts, it would be far smarter for them to work towards becoming her ally instead. Instead, the CTA have spent the last five decades years posturing and seeking to embarrass the Chinese leadership into an agreement. It is therefore no surprise that the Chinese have refused all proposals from the CTA for self-autonomy.
In essence, the CTA have wasted over 50 years antagonizing the Chinese leadership and it has not brought them any closer to achieving their goals. An alternative and wiser strategy may be to abolish the Shugden ban and seek out influential Shugden lamas who have maintained a good relationship with the Chinese government. These lamas may be Shugden practitioners but at the end of the day, they are ethnic Tibetans and would do all in their power to ensure all Tibetans get a chance to return to Tibet and be reunited with their loved ones.
Therefore, powerful and influential Shugden lamas may hold the key to reopening dialogue with China if the CTA really want to go ahead with their proposal for self-autonomy. On all fronts, the CTA have failed to court the Chinese leadership – not only have they antagonized the leaders for over 50 years, but they are now imposing a ban on a practice that the Chinese leadership has been supportive of. Why would the Chinese leadership want to entertain such an administration and have dialogue with them?
Therefore, it is absolutely vital that the CTA immediately abolishes the Shugden ban to start fresh talks with the Chinese. At the end of the day, it boils down to the fact that the CTA actually need the Chinese leadership more than the Chinese leadership needs them. And if the bridge to dialogue can be the Dorje Shugden lamas, and the CTA are serious about achieving their goals, they should stop marginalizing and ostracizing Shugden lamas. For years their antics have driven the Shugden lamas to seek refuge and work in China, where they are now able to assist anyone directly. Whilst Shugden lamas move freely throughout Tibet, the Dalai Lama continues to travel the world expressing his wish to return to Tibet before his passing. Will the CTA swallow their ego and use any and all means to make this a reality (if they truly love the Dalai Lama, that is) or will they continue to implement a ban that is undemocratic, illogical and illegal? The ball is now in their court and only time will tell what they decide.