By Kalsang Rinchen
Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama arriving at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on March 3, 2014.
San Francisco, March 4: Tibetan communities living in various parts of the United States and Canada, led by two members of the Tibetan parliament from North America, have condemned the recent “slander ” against the person of the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, currently on a three week visit to the US, by members of “International Shugden Community”.
29 Tibetan associations and the two members of Tibetan parliament, Tashi Namgyal and Norbu Tsering, have expressed concerns about the security of the Dalai Lama who is scheduled to give a public talk in Washington DC on March 7.
A joint statement issued by the members of Tibetan parliament, and the 29 Tibetan associations urged the US government to step up its security for the Tibetan leader who faced protests from the “International Shugden Community” in San Francisco.
The 2 members of the Tibetan Parliament have met with the representatives of 29 Tibetan associations in the US and Canada on the sidelines of the Tibetan leader’s visit to Minneapolis on March 2. The Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay, at the Tibetan New Year celebrations in Minnesota, also expressed his concerns over the “denunciation” of the Tibetan leader and urged Tibetans all over the world to be mindful of such “slanderous” accusations against the Tibetan leader.
A video of the Tibetan leader talking to a nun apparently belonging to the “International Shugden Community” amongst the public on the way to his hotel in San Francisco was uploaded on youtube by a user called “Shugden”. Exile Tibetans say the video was taken with a deliberate attempt to defame the Tibetan leader who the nun and her fellow protesters allege is “undermining their religious freedom.” Meanwhile, the Tibetan exiles say that the allegations were baseless and that there was not a single Tibetan among the protesters outside the venue of the Tibetan leader’s talk on Feb. 23.
Jamyang Norbu, Tibetan writer and activist notorious among the Tibetan society for his open criticism of the Dalai Lama and exile Tibetan administration’s Middle Way Policy, has also expressed his reservations against the Tibetan leader’s encounter with the nun in the video, which he describes as “a deliberate set-up to embarrass” the Tibetan leader. “The behavior of the Western Shugden followers, at the very least, reveals an insensitivity to the hopes and dreams of those Tibetans suffering under Chinese rule who yearn for the day when the Dalai Lama will return to an independent homeland,” wrote Jamyang in an article “Is the Dalai Lama Safe”.
Pamphlets distributed by the protesters accuse the Tibetan leader as “the worst dictator of modern time.” Tibetan exiles said they feel deeply hurt by “such slander of their respected leader.” “It is particularly painful for us Tibetan Americans since we are acutely aware that His Holiness represents the only source of hope for millions of our compatriots inside Tibet,” said a statement
by the Tibetan Association of Northern California, which organized the talk at the Berkeley School.
Protesters in maroon robes with yellow stripes held banners and placards that read, “Dalai Lama, stop lying,” outside the Berkeley School, the venue for the Tibetan leader's talk on Feb. 23. The Tibetan Association of California said monastic names given by the protesters’ spokespersons suggest that they mostly belong to the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), founded by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a staunch follower of Dorjee Shugden based in the United Kingdom that has voiced animosity towards the Dalai Lama in the past.
TANC's statement said it restrained its members from confronting "provocative protestors" out of respect for the compassionate leadership of the Dalai Lama. “If members of NKT or their affiliates have any specific complaints against the Tibetan community and its leaders, we urge them to bring them to the attention of our representatives in the appropriate way rather than resorting to insulting one of the most acclaimed leaders of our time,” TANC’s statement added.
The joint statement issued by the Tibetan associations said, “As the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness the Dalai Lama feels it to be his moral responsibility to advise his Buddhist followers on what is in the best interest of the Tibetan tradition. It's in connection with this, drawing from his wisdom and years of critical examination, that His Holiness has spoken about the negative aspects of the historically divisive and controversial Shugden practice.”
The statement further said, “At the same time, His Holiness has clearly stated that, in the end, it's up to the individual to choose what they wish to do. So why are the Shugden group bothering His Holiness when they do not want to heed his advice?”
The Tibetan leader says he was himself a follower of Dorje Shugden but that he later quit in 1975 for reasons he describes as "strong sectarian overtones" and "a history of contributing to a climate of sectarian disharmony" among the four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan leader denounces
the worship of Dorje Shugden as "spirit worship" and fears that the propitiation of it might degenerate the "rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhism" into "mere propitiation of spirits."
The Tibetan leader was in Rochester, MN, for his annual medical check up on Monday. He also met with the members of the Mind & Life Board to discuss the progress made in a project to include secular ethics into modern education curriculum.