Correcting misinformation spread by the anti-Dalai Lama Protesters

Are The Protesters Real Buddhist Monks?


Ms. Dekyong, spiritual director of the NKT and author or ISC’s A Great Deception, leading WSS/NKT members in monastic robes

“Hundreds of Buddhist monks gathered in the centre of Oxford this morning to protest loudly against a visit by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.”  declared the Oxford Mail in May 2008. Invariably these days, wherever the Dalai Lama goes, be it Australia, Europe or the US, he is followed by the same group, at first the Western shugden Society (WSS) and now the International Shugden Community (ISC), many of whose members appear to be monks and nuns. IN fact they are not ordained according to the traditional Buddhist Vinaya, the Sangha’s monastic code.

The Buddhist  tradition’s system of ordination is an ancient one, stretching back 2,500 years to the 4th century BC. Since then, generation after generation of young men and women have been initiated into the monastic tradition and followed the hundreds of vows associated with the monastic way of life in accord with that system.

But the New Kadampa Tradition ‘monks and nuns’ protesting outside the Dalai Lama’s teachings are NOT monks and nuns at all; neither have they received an ordination according to any historically established system of ordination, nor do they maintain the vows of a Buddhist monk or nun.

The system by which these ‘ monks and nuns’ were ‘ordained’ was invented not by the Buddha in the 4th century CE, but by the NKT founder Kelsang Gyatso in the mid 1990s. Those NKT followers who inappropriately dress in the robes of genuine Buddhist monks and nuns do not maintain the hundreds of vows of the true monastic but rather maintain the five vows of a Buddhist layman, with the vow against infidelity upgraded to celibacy plus five more ‘vows’ which are little more than general advice such as ‘practice contentment’ and ‘reduce one’s desires’. These latter vows then, are not vows in the true sense at all. Rather they are spiritual aphorisms, general advice that even the Buddhist layman follows as a simple matter of course.

In June 2008, after noisy demonstrations by NKT/WSS protesters wearing monastic robes in Sydney Australia, the Australian Sangha Association, the body representing all genuinely ordained Buddhists in the continent, stated: “…the robed members of this group have not taken monastic vows….”, “Members of the NKT who wear robes do not follow the tradition….”,  it must be emphasized that this is not a monastic ordination according to the teachings of Buddha”, and “The opinion of the ASA is that for NKT members to represent themselves to the public as authentic Buddhist monks and nuns is wrong and misleading.”

The disturbing image of angry monks and nuns with clenched fists sporting banners condemning the Dalai Lama for ‘banning’ the practice of Dolgyal Shugden and stealing away the religious freedom of ‘millions’ is based on a number of falsehoods. The irate protesters are not properly ordained monks and nuns. Most are members of the NKT cult, under the sole leadership of Kelsang Gyatso, who ‘ordains’ them in a brief ceremony of his own devising. Their monastic status is therefore not validated by any authentic Buddhist order. Furthermore, The Dalai Lama has not ‘banned’ the practice, in the sense of the word as used in contemporary Catholicism, and there have never been ‘millions’ of Shugden practitioners. The Dalai Lama only advised against the practice, considering it misguided and harmful to Buddhist practitioners (see the short video of H. H. the Dalai Lama on this site), and, while acknowledging their freedom to persist in it, requested those who do so, not to attend his teachings or initiations.

The stated aim of these  protesters who call  the Dalai Lama a ‘liar’, ‘the worst dictator in the modern world’, and a ‘perpetrator of a great deception,’  is to force the Dalai Lama to retract his recommendation not to propitiate the spirit, Dolgyal (aka Shugden) and accept them in attendance at his teachings and initiations. One has to wonder, in light of their extremely negative opinion of the Dalai Lama, why they would want to be accepted by the Dalai Lama or attend his teachings. Clearly, their true aim is simply to vilify the Dalai Lama and tarnish the  reputation of the Nobel Peace Prize winner. The correspondence between this aim along with their use of language  and that of the propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party, who routinely identify the Dalai Lama as a ‘snake,’ a ‘devil,’ a ‘splitist’ and a ‘wolf in monk’s robes’ is both uncanny and recurrent.