Contemporary Scholars – The 100th Ganden Tripa (Ganden Throneholder)
Statement of His Eminence The 100th Ganden Tri Rinpoche (Head Of the Gelugpa Sect) regarding the worship of gods and protectors
As stated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his recent speeches regarding the worship of gods and protectors, the six major monasteries summoned gatherings at every level – monastic assembly, monastic administrators, monastic sections, individual monks – wherever deemed necessary. Signatures and finger prints of every individual monk supporting the ban on worshipping such dubious deities by any individuals or groups had been submitted. I myself attended these meetings and made essential clarifications on merits and demerits of such worship. Consequently, I had a deep satisfactory feeling that this controversial issue was finally solved, creating a peaceful atmosphere “as stainless as the sky and as pure as the earth.” But unfortunately a handful of monks from certain monasteries committing “the downfall of negligence (breach of an ordained monk for neglecting the correction of their faults)” created more imbroglio and crisis in our community by sticking misleading information and distributing pamphlets without any sense of loss over their time, energy and money.
This polemic is not similar to the communal conflicts between the Hindus and the Muslims. This is an inter-sectarian theological strife caused by misunderstandings, which certainly can be solved through clarifications and correcting the things by reminding their misunderstandings and the faux pas. Thus, everyone must strive in understanding the truth by which we can gradually solve this issue. By just stating the practice of its worship by the earlier great lamas and vying for the right to faith and belief does not validates the stand. As the great Lamas of the past visualized the union of the mind of peaceful and the wrathful deities, it appears to them in a pure form. It is completely different from the worship by an ordinary person like us whose mind is filled with continuous flow of deluded emotions.
Contemptuously grave is the act of alleging rift between His Holiness and the great masters of the past with reference to this worship. This demonous act of presuming one’s lama as an ordinary person and misconceivingly over-estimating and under-estimating the realities is a heinous act, committed out of one’s delusion-ignorance. Thus, it is advisable to be conscientious
If it (Shugden) were a real protector, it should protect the people. There may not be any protector such as this, which needs to be protected by the people. Is it proper to disturb the peace and harmony by causing conflicts, unleashing terror and shooting demonous words in order to please the Dharma protector? Does this fulfill the wishes of our great masters? Try to analyze and contemplate on the teachings that had been taught in the Lamrim (stages of path), Lojong (training of mind) and other scriptural texts. Does devoting time in framing detrimental plots and committing degrading act, which seems no different from the act of attacking monasteries wielding swords and spears and draining the holy robes of the Buddha with blood, fulfill the wishes of our great masters?
The Mahayana teachings advocates’ altruistic attitude of sacrificing few for the sake of many. Thus why is it not possible for one, who acclaims oneself to be a Mahayana, to stop worshipping these dubious gods and deities for the sake and benefit of the Tibetans in whole and for the well-being of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In the Vinaya (Buddhist code of discipline), it is held that since a controversial issue is settled by picking the mandatory twig by “accepting the voice of many by the few” the resolution should be accepted by all. As it has been supported by ninety five percent it would be wise and advisable for the rest five percent to stop worshipping the deity keeping in mind that there exists provisions such as the four Severe Punishments (Nan tur bzhi), the seven Expulsions (Gnas dbyung bdun) and the four Convictions (Grangs gzhug bzhi) in the Vinaya (Code of Discipline).
If we abide and adhere to the vows and teachings and are able to protect, preserve and flourish the teachings, we need not feel doubtful and confused when we have countless deities as numerous as the stars in the boundless sky. And it is quite possible that a fake deity may appear to us caused by our ignorance and contaminated actions. As Horton Chenmo’s (Hor ston chen mo) Mind Training Like the rays of Sun (Blo sbyong nyi ma`i od zer) States:
At this period, when this realm of existence is filled with beings whose actions of body, speech and mind are engaged in harming others, the Dharma protectors, the gods and the Nagas have left for other universe to protect the teachings and the four categories of Buddha’s disciples. And on the other hand, the power and the spells of the devilish non-humans, who enkindle the evils, increase and become powerful. They, assuming the form of religious practitioners, cause every calamities and sufferings in this world and cause various obstacles to the Dharma practitioner
There are many gods and Nagas assuming the form of the powerful ones and granting boons. What certainty is there in god whose appearances are ever changing, obstacles befell on persons who had the vision of evil spirit in the form of white Manjushri. In the past, Tendar, a slain Mongolian abbot of Sera Je monastery, too is said to have had the vision of an image similar to that of Je Tsongkhapa, but had to undergo many obstacles. And, in our ritual texts, it had been said that there are many demons and spirits who assumes the form of a deceased and inflict sufferings to their surviving relatives. And many fire sacrificial rites are meant to banish and ward off these outer evil forces. Even amongst the retinue of the great protector, Vaishravana, there hides many terrifying demons. And, as for the fifteen directional protectors, there are `the fifteen evil protectors’ that are to be subdued through Phurba rituals and the `fifteen godly protectors.’ And as for the sixty two Chakrasamvaras with reference to the subduables and the subduers, it is held that there are sixty two evils that are to be subdued. And if the practitioner does not abide by the vows and if he were not free from desire and attachment, the power of the evil deities would increase and would cause more harm than good. If we worship or invoke gods and protectors with a mind focusing on the nine apprehensions of conceit as the center of our meditation and practice, then it is said that the god and protectors, if good and real would never fulfill your wishes but would be as dangerous as holding a burning thunderbolt in your hand. His Holiness clearly quoted from the life story of Changkya Rolpai Dorjee, the banishment of Dolgyal from the Ganden area by the great throne-holder Ngawang Chokdhen out of his innately pure mind which is free from any misconception. And, the life story of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo written by Dho Drupchen relates:
While Khyentse Wangpo was imparting Tantric teachings (rgyud brtag pa gnyis pa) at Derge Lhundrup, Shugden approached to listen to the teachings saying, “As your explanations are good and the teaching are elegant, I felt desirous in listening to it.” Thus not only humans, but even the ferocious non-human too swarm around the nectar of his teachings.
When such great Rimey Lamas (non-sectarian lama) forbids the worship, it must be known that it is undoubtedly true that these arise out of our own misconception. What certainty there is in such misconceived appearances? Once when Arhat Upgupta was giving teachings, an evil spirit tried to interrupt him but found him invincible. Upgupta then said, “I had never seen the Buddha. Thus, evil one, assume the form of the Buddha.” The demon instantaneously assumed the form of the Buddha. Out of deep reverence, when the great Arhat was about to prostrate, it is said that the demon unable to bear the sight changed himself into his real form. And in Khedrup Rinpoche’s text `The Great Explanation of Kalachakra (Dus’ khor tik chen)’ states that the devil Garab Wangchuk tried to interrupt Galo in his practice by assuming different forms and protecting him and at times approaching him for teachings. But Galo sought the initiation of Shemar, and therefore, turned invulnerable. Thus, there are numerous other analogies proving fallible nature of these spirits and demons, which assume godly images and fulfil some trivial wishes.
And at times, worshipping of gods even if it be real, had to be stopped. During the 21 days Molam festival in Lhasa, performing invocations and trance rituals of deity Karmasha of Lhasa was prohibited. It is held that Chushur Tenpa Tsering, a cruel chieftain, died and was born as an evil spirit in the locality of Samye Pekar. This evil spirit dropped poison in the utensil meant for the monk assembly at the Molam festival. But the Dharma protector Nechung perforated a hole from beneath the utensil with cloth- spear by which the afternoon tea could not be served. If candidly expressed, Karmasha was held guilty as the accusation and allegement fell on him. During the commencement of the Molam congregation, the disciplinarian of Drepung monastery sternly declared his warning in the Karmasha invocation hall:
“No one shall, during the 21 days Monlam festival, burn even an iota of incence as dimunitive as the breath of a guinea pig nor shall one offer Torma as small as the tiny thump. No musical instrument shall be played. How can Chushar Tenpa Tsering, a man who had entered the heart of evil-spirit, be the minister Jatri Chanchik (Karmasha)?”
Thus, there is no certainty in the appearances caused by our Karmas as the saying goes:
A single object conceived with disparate mind is held to be a non-established existence.
When one is attached to the doctrines, it is no different for getting attached to wealth and riches. It is stated in Abhidharmakosa (Mngon pa mdzod) as:
Pride, arrogance and haughtiness Are out of attachment to one’s attributes [Thus,] such mind are fully obscured.
And, the great Je Tsongkhapa had stated:
It had been said that if one does not meditate analytically on the tenets with an unbiased analytical mind, by abandoning discrimination out of attachment towards oneself and aversion towards other, one would forever be tightly bound in this cyclic existence. Thus, we must understand that this statement is a unique teaching given to us out of great compassion.
Thus, our disputes and arguments are out of attachment and if keenly examined with an unbiased mind, we would come to know that there is not a single good thing that is in conformity with the Dharma.
Whatever may it be, god or evil spirit, there is no restriction in worshipping it. One had not understood the basic definition of the universally acclaimed `Right to faith and belief.’ A short definition of it can undo the knots and clarify the misunderstanding of this principle. An individual has complete freedom whether to have faith in a particular religion or not. Again, an individual has complete freedom whether to have belief in a particular religion or not. Thus, according to this principle, no one can be forced into particular religious system. This itself becomes an answer to their allegement.
We most probably say, “we have solemn faith and belief in our religion.” Whatever religion may it be, no difference of accessibility and restrictions had been made. Everyone is guaranteed with the right to faith and belief. One may insists, “I have complete right to faith and belief and no one can restrict me from worshiping any gods and protectors.” But, if citizens feigning right to faith and belief, violates the constitutional laws of his country in such manner, it would cause an unruly state “where people violates the law and horse shakes off its saddle.” And to them, it might also be appropriate for a Buddhist to practice the religion of the Hindu and the Muslim. If one enters Buddhism but practices in an overtly opposite manner to the Buddhist principles and tenets, then one violates the principal hallmark of Buddhism and feigning right to faith and belief does not help. Hence it is said, “When in Yala Shampo, worship god Yala Shampo” and “When one drinks the water of the land, so must one adhere to the laws of the land”. Thus when one seeks refuge in the Buddha, one does not seek refuge in other gods; when one seeks refuge in the teachings of the Buddha, one should not commit ill deeds: and when one seeks refuge in the Buddha’s community, one does not befriend a person with wrong and distorted views. Thus, the enforcement of this right to faith and belief encompasses only to a certain limited spheres.
If right to faith and belief had not been limited monastic rules might have not been possible. In Tibet, law of the monastery proclaims that postulant monks shall seek admission only in their respective monastic sections. Law again states that the great Lamas and Tulkus through their numerous incarnations shall not change their monastic sections or monasteries, but had to stick to a particular monastic section. Many cases caused by such misunderstandings had been reported. Here too, some monastic sections had been filing such cases. Thus, with a clear understanding of this right to faith and belief, we should strive to settle such cases and must prevent such false cases to rise.
The act of pronouncing one’s strong faith in worldly gods is no different from publicizing your faults and downfall in your adherence to “the advice or refuge-seeking.” Moreover, there is none amongst us who had not received teachings from His Holiness. Likewise every of us had received many Tantric initiation, instructions and transmissions. Thus, disfiguring and demeaning one’s Vajra Guru would cause results so inconceivably grave and unbearable. And it is sarcastic on finding a person, who upholding the laws of cause and effect not having even the slightest regrets and doubts over blindly committing a grave blunder and also drowning everyone in it. It would be wise to contemplate and practice in cultivating reverence to one’s master as had been taught in Dorjee Chang’s Lamrim (stages of path). The root text of Guhyasamaja Root Tantra (Gsang `dus rtsa rgyud) states:
If sentient beings commit an action as grave as the heinous crimes. He [still] can attain the superior Vajra Vehicle but who from within disregards his master shall never attain, even if exerted. And also in the tantra of Vajrapani Initiation (Lag na rdo rje dbang bskur ba`i rgyud):If we, Tantric practitioners, do not think on the immensely grave demerits of disregarding one’s master, who would?
This demonous act of ignoring the advice of His Holiness on spiritual and temporal ground intended for the benefit of Tibetans and masterminding certain detrimental activities in finding slightest differences to your view clearly signifies ones lack of patriotism. Does the sour reality of governmental official needing police and security to escort them on their visit to the monasteries, centers of peace and religion, not become a cause for shame and embarrassment to the Tibetans in general and the monastic centers in particulars? Thus, it is timely to stop this strife by being aware of the grave outcome and essence less nature of this root of disagreement. But without sound conscience, if one adamantly tries to oppose it, then like “a hundred birds flying east: and the pack bird flying west” one would turn into our enemy’s best friend for having a same adverse standpoint and strategy. And, one would face the same consequences as did the adamant Pelsur Jholak. Thus, it is wise for everyone, ordained and the laymen, to bear some minor loss on this ground.
If Je Rinpoche had introduced this New Kadampa Tradition in order to distinguish between the worshipper of this Red god and the rest, then it would be appropriate. But, it should be known that Je Rinpoche did not introduce this tradition in order to distinguish the worshippers from the rest. It is quite improper if one does not have any understanding on these extreme consequences. If one continuously swaggers on acquiring some wealth and status like a little son rejoicing on receiving some gifts from his parent, we need not explore the whole world to find an example to wholly prove and validate Je Rinpoche’s prophecy:”My teaching will be destroyed by wealth and riches.”Kindly ponder over the contents and practice it as this had been written out of strong resolute intention by a person inept in politics.
20 September, 1996 http://www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden/ganden-tripa