Speech to an Audience Dominated by Tibetans from Tibet on 27 March 2006 During the Spring Teachings
I thought that I would talk to you about the Dolgyal issue. Actually, I have already spoken a great deal about this over a period of time and, therefore, most of you know about it. Not just know about it, but also, regarding inside Tibet-which includes the U-Tsang region with Lhasa as the main, and in most parts of Dotoe and Domey-there was an appreciative understanding of my successive explanations of the issue and many monasteries have made diligent efforts in taking the responsibility to avoid mistakes about what to accept and what to reject in this matter. Among the general public too, there was a similar assumption of responsibility and making of efforts to avoid mistakes about what to accept and what to reject. For these I express praises of appreciation and gratitude. Anyway, the issue is of critical concern to our Buddhist faith generally and regarding Tibet’s Ganden Phodrang or government especially. Therefore what has been done benefits Tibet generally and because most of the concerned people have been able to make a proper choice between what to accept and what to reject in this matter, I felt an urge to thank you all for it. This activity which concerns the well being of our faith should not begin and end like the Chinese campaigns, which start suddenly to deal with an urgent current concern and then, after a while, calm down to eventually, sort of, die out. We should be able to carry forward to a successful conclusion the work that we have started in the matter.
In this, I initially used my brain to ponder over the aspects that were externally manifest. With regard to the aspects that were covert, and therefore not physically manifest, I carried out examinations by invoking kindness and action from The Three Precious Jewels, the ultimate repository of all genuine knowledge. The Dolgyal Shugden question too is a covert one. Therefore I carried out a thorough examination of it both in its external and internal aspects before finally taking a decision on its acceptability. It was therefore not at all a case in which I made a decision of rejection in a matter in which I could make a conclusion on the basis of my personal judgement. I am rejoiced by the fact that you – both the laity and the religiously ordained – have shown concern in all this and made a proper choice of what to accept and what to reject.
There are, however, some cases of people pretending not to have heard what they have heard; especially, there are still some cases in which I feel that persons deliberately practice and propagate Dolgyal. With regard to them, all concerned should think with great caution. To mention specific names in Tibet, there are some local monasteries in Chamdo with their principal of Chamdo Monastery. I do feel that there are people there who are still strengthening their efforts to propagate the practice of Dolgyal Shugden. In the Dragyab region too, some such at the branch Dragyab Monastery and in the Markham region also, I feel that there are people who deliberately retain and propagate the practice. Denma Gonsar passed away last year. In the region where he lived too, there are people who continue and propagate the practice of Dolgyal. In the Rawatoe region of Nyethang there are among the monks and nuns coming to Lhasa from Markham, Dragyab, etc., people who propagate the practice. There are monks from the Markham region who have followed their tradition of joining the Ramoche Temple in Lhasa, where they are still propagating the practice of Dolgyal. Whatever is the case, if such people are designedly reciprocating in negative kind the gratitude we owe to the successive Dalai Lamas and are thereby knowingly showing nothing but scorn for the religious and political causes of Tibet and the kindness of the Dalai Lamas, I have no suggestions to offer. If, nevertheless, I am reiterating my emphasis on the issue, it is because we need to hold as objects of compassion people, if any, who do not know about the issue, or who have not heard about it, or who, out of ignorance, have committed a rash mistake, or who have been led astray by others. All those who know about it have a duty to explain and thereby ensure proper conformity regarding what to accept and what to reject. I too take this as very important.
It is not at all on the basis of a change of mind arising from a new thought that I have restricted the practice of Dolgyal Shugden. In my own case, I have previously been a religious lineage holder of Kyabje Pabongkha. In particular, I have been an actual disciple of Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. From the very beginning I have practiced Dolgyal under the influences of many circumstances. Gradually I came to have many major doubts about the external, internal and secret aspects of it and about developments concerning it. Finally I looked up the works of the previous Dalai Lamas and for the first time came to realize the error in practicing Dolgyal; as a result I stopped it.
The controversy relating to the issue of Dolgyal arose during the Fifth Dalai Lama. I examined such things as how the Fifth Dalai Lama viewed the controversy and resolved it. Likewise, when I examined the works of the snow land of Tibet’s holy ones embodying both knowledge and wisdom in general and specifically those of the upholders of the Geluk faith at and during that time, I came across the contents of the work of Purchok Ngawang Jampa on the history of the Three Geluk Seats of learning dealing with Ganden. That work records information about restrictions on Dolgyal. And the biography of the Seventh Dalai Lama Kelsang Gyatso’s Tutor Trichen Ngawang Chogden reveals that during his tenure as the Ganden Tripa, the worship of earthly guardian-spirits on the premise of Ganden monastery was restricted. These historical actions are clearly revealed in the biography of Changkya Rolpey Dorje written by Thuken Choekyi Nyima which records that Trichen Ngawang Chogden when restricting the worship of earthly Guardian-spirits within the premise of Ganden monastery clearly mentioned Dolgyal by name. And the historical record there is extraordinarily clear that the tradition of worshipping them in the Ganden monastery’s premise was restricted and outlawed. It is therefore a matter of common knowledge that we are not restricting the worship of Dolgyal, or have brought up a hitherto non-existent Dolgyal name, totally out of nowhere; rather, there is a historical precedent to our action dating from that period.
It is therefore not at all the case that the two-letter name “Dolgyal” is a recent creation by us. It is clearly recorded in the old woodblock prints. At the time these types of woodblock manuscripts were being sculpted, a practice of worshipping Dolgyal prevailed in Lhasa. The woodblock manuscripts contain sculpting of the Dolgyal name. When at one time Panchen Tenpey Nyima, the reincarnation of Panchen Palden Yeshe, came to Lhasa at a very young age, the Eighth Dalai Lama Jampel Gyatso’s Tutor Yeshe Gyaltsen told him during instruction to beware that Tashi Lhunpo Monastery might be ruined by the new deity. The history of the order prohibiting the propitiation and worship of Dolgyal and of allowing only accomplished guardian-deities at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is extremely clear in the biography of Panchen Tenpey Wangchug.
Whatever be the case, if one reads the biographical works on the successive previous Dalai Lamas, and looks in chronological order at the biographical works of the accomplished and responsible upholders of the Geluk order, it becomes extremely clear that the higher level, holy-born lamas, accomplished in both knowledge and wisdom, had restricted the practice of Dolgyal. And I have carried these forward. From a more recent point of view, Drepung Khangsar Dorje Chang, a contemporary of Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, has said, “Today, the practice of Dolgyal Dorje Shugden is becoming a widespread phenomenon. This is not at all good.”
In the case of Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, he was, in the earlier part of his life, a practitioner of ecumenical faith. Gradually, he developed a relationship with Dolgyal. Need I say more? His own biography records about the inappropriateness of including Tamding Yangsang in the Sphere of the Lama Choepa Congregation. His biography has been printed only in Tibet, and not in India. Because of many such and similarly related matters, at the time of the passing away of the previous Dalai Lama of unparalleled kindness, a disciple named Zhide Tazur of Kyabje Pabongkha had a dream in which the Dolgyal in a joyous, high-pitched tone, issued a forecast, assuring that the day of namgang (the 30th, or last, day of a month in Tibetan calendar) after the end of the 29th day would be the day of reckoning. History records that the disciple reported this to Kyabje Pabongkha. As everyone knows, there is a sense that the term “in a joyous, high-pitched tone” is not an ordinary usage but refers to good news that deserves to be conveyed in a joyous, high pitched voice and welcomed with happiness. In the case of a news conveying grief, one would express it with a subdued mind, for it is not a message of such kind as to be delivered in a joyous, high-pitched tone. When Zhide Tazur, also known as Meru Talama, dreamed about Dolgyal and received from him a reassuring forecast of “the day of Namgang (30th day of the month) at the end of the 29th day” in a joyous, high-pitched tone, and reported it to his teacher, Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche replied that the matter could be investigated. Later, on the day of namgang (30th day) of the 10th Tibetan month, when the sad news of the passing away of the previous Dalai Lama emerged, Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche expressed the view that the previous forecast pronounced by Dolgyal about the day of namgang at the end of the 29th day being the day of reckoning referred to it. This is recorded in Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche’s own biography.
It was right that a forecast was made. But the reference to the fact that it was pronounced in a joyous, high-pitched tone was strange. You all should think about it. The previous Dalai Lama was the very embodiment of gratitude to Buddhism and all sentient beings in the snow land of Tibet in general and to the Ganden Phodrang in particular. Was a show of rejoicing at his passing away a positive indication? Or did it indicate a negative disposition? We should think about it. During His lifetime, the previous Dalai Lama issued many firm instructions to Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche and one of the issues related to the practice of propitiating Dolgyal. Because Pabongkha Rinpoche found himself in trouble due to the firm instructions he kept receiving on the Dolgyal issue, and because as soon as the Dalai Lama passed away they ceased to come, it is not impossible that in the perception of the common folks there was a deliberate obstruction to the work of His Holiness.
It is important that one should arrive at a decision after examining the issue with an impartial attitude while determining what is good and what is bad on the basis of understanding the entire, actual history behind it. Apart from the reasons I have given above for objecting to the worship of Dolgyal, there are many related reasons. Although I myself, personally, had many symbolic revelations in dreams about it, I see no great necessity to say everything about them. But whatever be the case, I have been witnessing many internal and external developments and indications. You all must keep these in mind. It you need documents too, there are many. You can ask the office and others.
During my recent Kalachakra teaching at Palden Drepung (Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh state), I emphasized to our religious fraternity in exile-with the lamas and the Geshes as the main-that with regard to the guidance I provide as important on the question what to accept and what to reject, one should think in terms of unequivocal unanimity of commitment. It just won’t do to go about with the attitude that this is the responsibility of His Holiness, that I will be satisfied if there are as many people as possible making me offerings, and that it does not matter to me personally. Do you understand? Within the lay and religiously ordained communities in exile those having connections in Tibet have the duty to advise and educate in a convincing manner people in Dragyab, Markham, Chamdo, Denma, and other problematic places as well as related other persons. It would be extremely tragic if in front of me, and, when I am giving the guidance, a person pretends to comply, only to betray hypocrisy when dealing with the reality. Do you understand? This matter does not make any difference to me personally. Chiefly, it concerns the religious and political interests of Tibet. Two-thirds of my life has already been spent and there is no doubt that I will be able to complete the remaining portion of it in happiness. But, whatever be the case, everyone should think of the broader religious and political interests of Tibet. The broad masses of the Tibetan people have reposed great faith in me and I, likewise, have a karmic prayer and oath-bound duty to them. Pursuant to this I am duty-bound to offer them guidance on dos and don’ts on the basis of what is good and what is bad about the matter at hand. Whether to heed them or not is in your hands. Do you get it? The previous Zong Rinpoche was an ardent practitioner of Dolgyal. I even had to write to him on this issue when he was alive. His reincarnation, who is here with us today, used his power of discrimination between the good and the bad, and, with a view to avoid mistakes about what is in his immediate and long term interest or disadvantage and for the sake of the religious and political causes of Tibet, carries out his practices with care to avoid mistakes. It is only proper that in front of this gathering today Rinpoche has come to the path of perfection. He rightly deserves congratulatory praise and appreciation for having taken the decision to conform.
The people of the snow land of Tibet currently remain set apart between those in and outside the country. Although those who have come from Tibet will gradually have to happily and joyfully return home, there is no freedom there. The current situation is a sad one for everyone. Nevertheless, it will not be too long before those in and outside Tibet will definitely reunite. I keep praying for this and urge you all to return home with happiness in your minds. My Tashi Deleg to all of you.