H.H. the Dalai Lama: Concerning Dolgyal with Reference to the Views of Past Masters and other Related Matters
A talk on Dolgyal by H.H. the Dalai Lama during the course of religious teachings in Dharamsala, October 1997
There may be many among you who have never been involved in the practice of Dolgyal at all. In many other cases, you may have practised it in the past, but have later given it up. With the hope of strengthening your sense of conviction about this, I have brought here some statements made by lamas in the past. I am going to read them out to you. In the letters and statements that they have recently distributed, proponents of Dolgyal (also known as Shugden) assert that this issue should be understood on two levels – on an interpretable level and on a definitive level. They say, for instance, that even the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) composed a prayer for assistance (‘prin’ chol) addressed to Dolgyal. Of course, it is difficult for us to prove convincingly whether it belongs to the Fifth Dalai Lama or not.
The Collected Works of the Fifth Dalai Lama are classified into three sections: the five outer volumes, the twenty-five inner volumes, the secret or Kagyama volumes, which consist of the Extensive Secret Visions or Sangwa Gyachen. Previously, this last volume existed only in handwritten form, not in a printed edition. However, eventually it has been published in print.
There are outer, inner and secret sections to the Fifth Dalai Lama’s works, but among them you will not find a single ‘prayer for assistance’ addressed to Dolgyal written by the Fifth Dalai Lama. However, let us allow for the possibility that there are some texts by the Fifth Dalai Lama which escaped the notice of the compilers.
Regarding the Fifth Dalai Lama’s open statement about Dholgyal, folio 157 (front and back) of the autobiography of the Fifth Dalai Lama called Dukulai Gosang, Volume Kha, Lhasa edition, says:
It is well known that at Dol Chumig Karmo (Dol Chumig Karmo is Shugden’s place of origin, where a shrine was constructed to him. He is also referred to as Dolgyal because he is a Gyalpo from Dol Chumig Karmo. Gyalpo is a class of interfering spirit. Since Shugden belong to this group, he is also called Gyalchen, the great Gyalpo.) A very powerful perfidious spirit (darn sri, the spirit of one who has deliberately breached his oath or commitment to his lama out of resentment and dissension), born due to distorted prayers, has been harming the teaching of the Buddha and sentient beings in general and in particular. The harmful activity has intensified since the fire-bird (year), 1657, and (the spirit) has been successful in many of his missions. But, as if this did not concern them, hardly anyone has taken any action. At the end of the earth-bird (year), 1669, a new house was constructed at Dol Chumig Karmo and articles were placed there in the hope that it would become a place for the Gyalpo to settle.
(H.H. – So, it appears that attempts were made in the beginning to appease it by peaceful means.)
However, his harmful activities only intensified and recently many lay and ordained people have been afflicted with diseases and several monks have died. Therefore, all the monks unanimously decided that a fire ritual should be performed.
Consequently, two groups of practitioners were organised. One was led by Nagrampa Dhondup Gyatso, who acted as the Vajra Acharya of (a performance of) the Dorje Drolo ritual and the other was led by Nangjung Ngagchang Losang Khyentse, who acted as the Vajra Acharya of (a performance of the) Yangsang Karma Dragpo ritual. Likewise Rigzin Pema Thinley of Dorje Drag, Dharma King Terdag Lingpa, Vugja Lungpa, Drigung Tulku Rinpoche, Katshal Zurpa Ngari Kunchok Lhundup and Palri Tulku performed the Wrathful Lama, Yama, Phurba, Loktri practice for seven days, at the conclusion of which a fire ritual was performed, during which the ‘perfidious spirit’ and his entourage were burnt. Everybody was convinced (of its success because of) the wonderful signs that appeared and the smell of burning flesh that they all witnessed. Thus, many sentient beings were explicitly granted the gift of fearlessness, because their lives were saved. And indirectly these creatures (‘byungpo means creature or evil spirit) were delivered to the peaceful state of being, released from having to experience the intolerable suffering of bad states of rebirth due to their increasingly negative actions.
At that time a declaration (zur dpang, refers to the testimony or deposition of a witness) was issued to indicate that these creatures or evil spirits were without protection and refuge. (Consequently), the Dardhingpas of Dorje Drag Monastery compiled mantras. As a religious practice for the deceased, Sera and Drepung Monasteries performed the Prayer of the White Umbrella Deity 44,000 times and recited the Heart Sutra 118,000 times during eleven sessions during which tea was offered in each monastery. As an offering for the recitations, gold coins equal to the value of two Ithals (about 27 kgs) of wheat were given to each monk. At sixty-seven other well- disciplined monasteries in the neighbourhood, tea and gold coins to the value of one Itha] (about 13.5 kgs) of wheat were offered to each monk with a request that they perform the White Umbrella Prayer as many times as possible for the deceased. At Yerpa, the Gyuto monks performed the prayer of appeasement of Gonpo (Mahakala) and Choegyal (Dharmaraja) 693 times, Tenma 1,121,800 times, and the Sixty Section Ritual Cake Offering to Overcome Evil (Drug chu pa’i gTor dog). At Choekhor Gyal they performed rituals to (Palden Lhamo) Magzorma, to Mahakala the Lord of the Tent (Gur and Zhal), and to Begtse and at Gatshal they performed the prayer for appeasing the Dharma protectors in general, 10,000 times and the prayers of the Six Armed (Mahakala), ?Leshin and Vaishravana (rNam sre) 1000 times. At 11 district capitals they performed the Prayer for Invoking the Spirit of the Deity to Vanquish the Enemy (dgra-lha-dpangs-bstod) and other practices to appease local deities and spirits.
So, the number and types of prayers that were performed are listed. It is also mentioned that when the exorcism was performed the Fifth Dalai Lama himself issued a declaration (zur dpang) calling on the assembly of Dharma protectors to be just witnesses to the exorcism of this forsaken spirit. This is what appears in the Dukulai Goesang.
Regarding the declaration which was written at that time, below is a translation of the testimony that the fifth Dalai Lama mentions in his autobiography. The original Tibetan can be found on page 148 front and back (English pages 423 and 424) of the volume Da of his Collected Works published in Gangtok, Sikkim.
“Because of the clever manipulations of Lak Ahgyal of Gekhasa, the false reincarnation of Tulku Sonam Geleg Palzang (Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen) was successful (in being recognised as the reincarnation). But because of distorted prayers he became a perfidious spirit (dam Sri) and brought serious harm to sentient-beings.
[H.H.- Gekhasa was the location of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s (1617-56) birthplace. Lak Ahgyal was the name of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen’s mother. She seems to have been a very capable women. To begin with there had even been a rumour that her son was the reincarnation of Gyalwa Yonten Gyatso (the Fourth Dalai Lama). Gekhasa is probably in Toelung. Therefore, the text says, “because Lak Ahgyal was so clever and skilful the false reincarnation of Tulku Sonam Geleg Palzang was successful”.
Tulku Sonam Gelek Palsang was the reincarnation of Dho-Ngag Rabjam M’awa Panchen Sonam Drakpa (1478-1554). Then, because of Ahgyal’s skilful manipulation Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen came to be known as the reincarnation of Gelek Palsang. However, this text states that he was indeed a mistaken and false reincarnation. When the text says “he was successful” it means that even though he was the false reincarnation, he succeeded in maintaining his position as the real incarnation. Then it says,]
But because of distorted prayers he became a perfidious spirit (dam sri) and brought serious harm to sentient beings. Therefore, a total of seven groups of practitioners led by (Pema Trinley) Rinpoche of Dorje Drag, Choegyal Terdag Lingpa, Choeje Vugja Lungpa, Ngari Ngagchang Konchok Lhundup, Palri Tulku and two groups of practitioners of Phende Legshe Ling (Namgyal Dratsang) performed a ritual fire offering and burnt the interfering spirit. This is the declaration I have written at that time:
To the deities, Legden, Chagdrug, Leshin and Magzor, To the oath bound protectors Gongzhi, Gonpo, Chamsre and Begtse, etc. Who have been propitiated and whose practice (has been done) I offer this sublime libation. The so-called Drakpa Gyaltsen pretends to be a sublime being, even though he is not, And since this interfering spirit and creature of distorted prayers Is harming everything – both the dharma and sentient beings – Do not support, protect or give him shelter, but grind him to dust.
To the female protectors like Nodjin Yangghaza, etc. and Gyalpo Ku-nga, Khyabjug, Dorje Leg and particularly Nechung and his entourage I offer this sublime libation. The so-called Drakpa Gyaltsen pretends to be a sublime being, even though he is not, And since this interfering spirit and creature of distorted prayers Is harming everything – both the dharma and sentient beings - Do not support, protect or give him shelter, but grind him to dust.
To the seven Barwa brothers like Tse-marpa etc. And likewise Setrab of Sangphu etc.- the wrathful gods and spirits among whom this negative spirit seeks support I offer this sublime libation. The so-called Drakpa Gyaltsen pretends to be a sublime being, even though he is not, And since this interfering spirit and creature of distorted prayers Is harming everything – both the dharma and sentient beings - Do not support, protect or give him shelter, but grind him to dust.
Having agreed before the root and lineage lama Vajra Dharas To increase what is good and beneficial to sentient beings and the dharma, If you protect this perfidious spirit, Will you not cause your own past pledges to degenerate?
There are groups of interfering spirits who display inopportune miracles In the form of human sickness, cattle disease, hailstorms, famine and drought. May their power and ability Their body, speech and mind be smashed into tiny particles.
So, this is the declaration issued by the fifth Dalai Lama. It is quite strongly worded.
Next, is the Sangwa Gyachen, which is also the secret autobiography of the fifth Dalai Lama and is included in the Kagyama section of the fifth Dalai Lama’s Collected Works. A printed edition of the Tsapoe was eventually published in Delhi in 1972 by the Ladakhi doctor Sonam Wangdu. In the Pure Visions section of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s Sangwa Gyachen there are twenty-five sub-sections. Among them, in the Vase Gyachen, we find the following:
As I was listening to these words, the great Acharya, holding a Khatvanga in his right hand and with his left hand in a threatening gesture, flanked by two dakinis, spoke as follows:
There is no difference between me and Avalokiteshvara. Without involving in too much chatter Put into practice what I showed you earlier.
In order to dispel obstacles, perform the dispelling ritual of the White Umbrella deity and Charka and the previously described Lukdril.
(H.H.- From this point on it is written in the cursive (Trukyig) script. It goes like this.) A fire ritual was performed at the site of the Upper Palace in Drepung. H.H.- this indicates that there was some problem with the Upper Palace. This is what we find in the Vase Gyachen. Again, in another division of the Sangwang Gyachen called the Drithue Gyachen, we find the following:
On the first day of the female Earth- Bird year, at Drepung, a black woman the size of a mountain placed her right foot on the Upper Palace, and her left foot on the Choekorling at Drepung. There was a haze of dust.
This also shows that the Upper Palace was marked by controversy. Therefore, the claim by Dolgyal practitioners that there exists a prayer propitiating Shugden composed by the Fifth Dalai Lama is unlikely to be true. Even if it were considered to have been written by the Fifth Dalai Lama, it must have been written during the initial period (of this affair) when he has stated himself that he tried skilfully to employ peaceful methods. Nevertheless, while we may accept (the assertion that he did write such a prayer) as true, usually when we are confronted with a situation in which we have to decide which of two options is correct – for example, between a statement made by the Buddha earlier in his life and another that was made later- according to the Vinaya, the later statement is considered more reliable than the former. So, the later a statement was made the more importance is attributed to it. Therefore, even if we accept that the propitiation prayer does belong to the Fifth Dalai Lama, what he said distinctly, clearly and emphatically during the later stages of his life must be considered as of overriding importance. So, this has concerned the involvement of the Fifth Dalai Lama.
Next, the collected works of Thukhen Lobsang Choekyi Nyima (1737-1802) contain a biography of Changkya Rolpai Dorje (17 17-86). The biography describes how Changkya Rolpai Dorje travelled to Lhasa from Amdo. It reads as follows:
One day, he (Changkya Rolpai Dorje) went out to make a circumambulation of the monastery (H.H.- this is at Ganden) and as he reached the right corner of the mountain behind Ganden he became aware of the smell of a great (column) incense smoke rising from the village that lay down below on the floor of the valley. He asked, “What is the name of that village?” Someone familiar with the area told him, “It’s called Thagye.” (“Tha” means edge and “Gye” means expand. So, together, it means “the edge expands.”) He responded, “That is an auspicious sign” and seemed to be very pleased. This, I (Thukhen Lobsang Choekyi Nyima) think is an extremely good sign that due to the grace and kindness of Je Lama himself (Changkya Rolpai Done) the tradition of Gyalwa Tsongkhapa will spread and flourish in all places, at all times.
Then, as he continued his circumambulation, a tantric Geshe accompanying him explained the stories associated with each and every one of the many naturally formed stone images of deities, mantras, and hand and foot imprints on stones that were lying above and below on the sides of the road. In particular, he was shown a stone on which there was a very clear image of Tsongkhapa, which was said to have formed during the time of the Seventh Dalai Lama.
[H.H.-I don’t remember this. Do any of you know about this? An image of Tsongkhapa, which was said to have appeared during the time of the Seventh Dalai Lama. Which direction is it in? The direction from which the Thirteenth Dalai Lama extracted Tsongkhapa’s hat from its treasury is in the East.]
Then they sighted a footprint, which was not attributed to anyone in particular. At that point, Je Lama (Changkya Rolpai Dorje) jokingly said, “this foot print probably belongs to a Nyingmapa. So, those of you who are followers of Phurbuchock had better avoid it. At that point, Thukhen Rinpoche said, if a Nyingmapa is able to leave his footprint at the seat of Je Tsongkhapa, then I should also be able to leave a foot print on the jewelled ground of Sukhavati. That made everybody burst into laughter. [He just boasted a little as a joke.]
Later, when they looked into it, they found that there was a saying that the footprint belonged to Khonton.
[H.H – Do any of you know about this?]
Then he went to the place where Machen was propitiated. Since, Je Lama (Tsongkhapa) and his disciples didn’t propitiate worldly spirits, even the spirit belonging to Je Lama’s (Tsongkhapa’s) own birthplace was not given a place within the circumambulatory limits.
[H.H. – What I want to say starts from here.]
Previously, some Ganden Throne holders propitiated Dholgyal and inauspicious events took place. Consequently, Trichen Dorje Chang (Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen 1677-1751) (here it very clearly states that the spirit was Dolgyal destroyed the images and so forth of him and banished him from the premises of the monastery. Then, he went to Lambar and Lhasa and repeatedly said, “This time I went to Ganden and was able to do something extraordinary”.
This is what appears in the biography of Changkya Rolpai Dorje, composed by Thukhen Rinpoche.
Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen was the root guru of the 7th Dalai Lama and an extremely great being. He was from Amdo, so we are from the same region of Tibet, and became the first Reting Rinpoche. He was really an incredibly great being. It was he who was responsible for making Gyalchog Kalsang Gyatso what he was. These two, both Lama and disciple, had great devotion for each other. I am moved to tears, particularly when I reach the point in Gyalchog Kalsang (Gyatso’s) biography where Trichen Rinpoche says he doesn’t want anything except Reting. When the time came for him to leave for Reting, Gyalchog Kalsang requested him to stay a little longer. But, Trichen Rinpoche says, “Now, I will go”. Then Trichen Rinpoche mounts his horse and sets off. According to past accounts, there was a place in the Potala called the Wanglatang. That’s where Trichen Rinpoche left from and as he began his descent, Gyalchok Kalsang watched after him from the window of Wanglatang. It is really moving, because they both wept.
Anyway, I have been wondering what we might find in Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen’s biography. There is one by Changkya Rolpai Dorje. At first I thought there must be a biography of Trichen Ngawang Chogdhen by Gyalchog Kalsang as Trichen was his root lama, but there isn’t. He probably didn’t have time to write one. However, he instructed Changkya Rolpai Dorje to write Trichen’s biography instead. So, this is what we find on page 67 of the biography of Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen composed by Changkya:
Previously, a very vicious and evil spirit (it is not specifically stated that the spirit is Dholgyal, but it is clear from Changkya’s biography that the spirit referred to is Dholgyal. It also refers to the time when Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen was the Ganden Throne-holder,) possessed a man at Draksep. Some unstable lamas, former abbots, and monastic hostels (khangtsens) did practice in relation to it simply by invoking and propitiating it. A cairn for invoking spirits had also been erected on top of the Iangtse mountain. Considering how inappropriate was this turn of events he issued an edict to the assembly of monks that as there had been no tradition of propitiating worldly spirits and protectors within the premises of this seat of learning since the time of Je Tsongkhapa, henceforth, nobody would be allowed to engage in such activities. The cairn was demolished (this is very clearly stated in the biography of Changkya) and the stones and earth were returned to the places from which they had been taken. The spirit was invoked through a medium in trance and was then ordered not to come through such trances henceforth. Dolgyal replied, “If this is the order of Tri Rinpoche, I have no choice but to leave.” Then, the ghostly spirit fled to Taktse Shol. Je (Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen) himself went into retreat. He made it a rule that the prayer to Dharmaraja composed by the Omniscient Gedun Gyatso (the second Dalai Lama), should be said in the Main Hall of Ganden. Due to Dharmaraja’s wrath the Lamas and former abbots who had been propitiating the spirit were killed and the monastic hostels also suffered many misfortunes. Consequently, such misdeeds entirely ceased and the action that had been taken became an excellent cause for maintaining the purity of the monastery.”
This account appears in the biography of Trichen (Ngawang Chokdhen) composed by Changkya Rolpai Dorje, which can be found among Changkya’s Collected Works. It is clearly stated below that this account refers to Dolgyal. However, here it just refers to the Gyen gong (ghostly spirit). The text’s reference to the activities of some “unstable lamas, former abbots, and monastic hostels (khangtsens)” prior to Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen’s becoming the Ganden Throne-holder, is confirmed in the works of Purchok Ngawang Jampa.
This is what we find in the Catalogue of the Three Monastic Seats composed by Phurchok Ngawang Tampa:
Thus, at the time when Je (Tsongkhapa) himself was alive, apart from those dharma protectors who are bound by oath and are mentioned in the tantras themselves, no objects for propitiating or seeking the slightest help of harmful negative worldly spirits who are ghosts, was ever installed within the premises of this monastic seat. As a result, all the members of the community, both Lamas and disciples lived in harmony and the tradition of study and practice flourished. Even (the cairn) to the spirit of Tsongkhapa’s birthplace was placed outside the monastery. However, nowadays, many people who consider themselves to be followers of Tsongkhapa, and who adopt the three robes of a fully ordained Buddhist monk, go for refuge in ghostly spirits. They will have to face the consequence of meeting with great misfortune.”
This account is a very clear. We can compare how things developed later with how they were in the beginning. When Phurchok Ngawang Tampa prepared his Catalogue of the Three Monastic Seats, he describes how things were previously. When Tsongkhapa was alive there was no occasion for the propitiation of worldly spirits whatsoever. However, he complains, for some time since then, even in this monastery (Ganden), some people, who claim to be followers of Tsongkhapa and who wear the three robes of a fully ordained Buddhist monk, go for refuge in ghosts. As a result, even though there was previously great harmony and purity at Ganden, later because of such activities, many inauspicious events have occurred. This is what Phurchok Ngawang Jampa clearly explained.
Subsequently, when Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen became the Ganden Throne-holder, because Phurchok Ngawang Jampa was not on the throne, he had no authority and was unable to do anything more that criticise. However, both he and Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen were from Sera Te, as you all know. Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen records that when he came to Lhasa from Amdo, Phurchok Ngawang Jampa was known as the Lhopa Khampa, renowned as one of the top students in dialectics. This is recorded in Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen’s biography. Later, they became guru and disciple, but from the point of view of age, they were contemporaries. That is why it is very likely that when they occasionally met Phurchok Ngawang Tampa would have raised this issue with Trichen Rinpoche.
As far as Phurchok Ngawang Jampa was concerned, as he was not the Ganden Throne-holder, there was nothing he could do except complain. Whereas, Trichen Ngawang Chokdhen, who was both the Ganden Throne-holder, and the tutor of the seventh Dalai Lama, used his authority to prohibit the practice of propitiating negative worldly spirits and ordered the destruction of the temples for propitiating such spirits.
Moreover, the words of the text quite clearly show that Tri-Rinpoche, by invoking Choegyal (Dharmaraja), virtually killed those who had misbehaved. That this all refers to Dholgyal can be established by the passages found in Changkya Rolpai Dorje’s text. This is why the statements in the letters of enquiry sent by the previous Dalai Lama to Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche, stating that ‘physically putting on the three robes and then taking refuge in ghostly spirits is not correct”, turns out to be absolutely accurate. These things were not written by me, nor do they only appear in new editions, they appear in editions that were produced in Tibet.
During the past sixty years the practice of Dolgyal became very widespread. Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche was really an incredibly great master. As I always say, he is virtually the supreme holder of the Stages of the Path (Lam rim) and Mind Training (Lo jong) traditions. But with regard to Dolgyal he seems to have made mistakes. Rinpoche himself was a highly realized being. He was capable of enthralling anything – human or non-human – at will and so call on their assistance. That is quite possible, but it is a different matter (from seeking ordinary assistance). Trijang Rinpoche was also an exception. However, it is a great and dangerous mistake for those following them simply to imitate what these lamas did. Although Dragyab Tokden Rinpoche was an incalculably great master of the Stages of the Path, following Phabongkha’s visit to different areas of Kham, he went too far with regard to the Dolgyal Practice. As a result, many difficulties connected with religious sectarianism arose in Kham. Likewise, many controversial incidents took place in parts of Utsang and Lhoka, which even today many older even can clearly recount.
Evidence of this can be glimpsed in the writings of the Amdo scholar and lama, Tseten Shabdrug. There is one part where he tells the story of his root lama Alak Jigme Damchoe. The text was printed in book form in Tibet. Alak Jigme Damchoe’s two-volume commentary to Tsongkhapa’s Essence of Eloquent Explanation (Drange Lekshe Nyingpo) is probably the most extensive commentary on it to date. Therefore, he was an extremely great scholar. But his greatest contribution was probably his Great Commentary of figje Tokdun. He himself said that this text was his greatest achievement and it does indeed look remarkably good. So, this is what we find in the biography of this great master, composed by Tseten Shabdrung:
On this occasion, the excellent scholar known as Choekyi Lodroe, the illuminator of the Nyingma school and the reincarnated tulku of the incomparable Jamyang Khyentse, [H.H.- Khyentse Choekyi Lodroe was actually a Sakyapa from Derge, but had trained in all four traditions) even though I didn’t know him [H.H.- They hadn’t met each other until then] sent me a gift and an accompanying letter from Derge Menchoe Dzongsar Gon. The letter reads:
‘When I heard about you, I felt great joy. I thought that I probably have a connection with you from past lives. Much as I wish to meet you in person I am (unable to because I am) by the force of karma sick and am at a very distant place. So, there is nothing I can do, although I continue to offer prayers (that we might meet) in my mind. Some of the followers of Ven. Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo Rinpoche engaged in heated argument over the systems of philosophical tenets of the New and the Ancient traditions. They engaged in many mistaken activities such as destroying images of Padmasambhava and other peaceful and wrathful deities. They said that reciting the mantra of the Vajra Guru is of no value and would destroy the Padma Kathang (by burning it or throwing it into rivers.) Similarly, they asserted that turning Mani prayer wheels, observing weekly prayers for the deceased, and so forth are of no purpose and so placed many on the path of wrong view.
They held Gyalpo Shugden as the supreme refuge and the embodiment of all the Three Jewels.
[This does not mean that he himself held Shugden as the embodiment of all Three Jewels. Rather, he is critically reporting what these people are doing. Generally in Sakya tradition Gyalpo Shugden is depicted as riding a horse. So, it is classed among the spirits (Tsen) and isn’t regarded as if it is the embodiment of all three objects of refuge.]
Many monks from minor monasteries in Southern area, claiming to be possessed by Shugden, ran madly in all directions destroying the three symbols of enlightenment (images, scriptures and stupas) and so forth. Displaying many such faults they greatly harmed the teachings of the Second Conqueror, Je Tsongkhapa. Therefore, if you were to compose an advisory letter for everyone’s benefit and were to publish it and distribute it throughout the three (provinces) U, Tsang and Kham, it would greatly contribute to counteracting such disturbances to the teaching.”For myself, I request you please to send me a copy of the Tokdun Tantric commentary. Thank You.
The manner in which this request was made is evidence that the many matchlessly renowned great masters of the central and bordering regions of Tibet, who assert themselves as upholding all four schools of Buddha Dharma without discrimination, through the ripples of the white wave of expertise, conduct and kindness, all feel humbled and subdued before the one who wears the golden coloured crown and takes great responsibility (for the doctrine).
These are what some of the historical accounts have to say. However, it sometimes, seems that some of the Gelugpa Dharma holders have been slightly excessive in their views. For instance, a couple of days ago we found Aku Sherab Gyatso saying, “The way Je Rinpoche presents the reality of the basis, the nature of the path, and the way the fruits are attained in his commentary to the Completion Stage, and his method of making divisions are so brilliantly wonderful that some Nyingmapas have stolen them.”
It doesn’t make any sense to criticise their having understood them. It is not that the Nyingmapas are not allowed to understand the wisdom of Tsongkhapa. This is wrong. Our attitude should accord with the statement, “those wishing to accomplish the benefit of sentient beings engage in understanding the paths of all three vehicles.” Otherwise, it is as if they are suggesting, “May the remarkable teachings of Tsongkhapa not be understood by the Nyingmapas, may they be hidden from them.” Therefore, sometimes it is possible to go to excess.
However, sometimes political considerations may have a bearing on the situation. For example, accounts of Kunkyen Lama (Jamyang Shepa, 1648-172 1, of Labrang Tashi Kyil) explain that one day an Amdo lama came to see Kunkyen Lama Jamshe Ngawang Tsondrue in the hope of receiving a commentary to some text from him. It says, “that day Gyalpo Lhasang (Lhasang Khan, leader of the Dzungar Mongols) was there also and so there was much activity and he was not able to get the teaching.” Kunkyen Lama Jamshe Ngawang Tsondrue was a disciple of the Fifth Dalai Lama, who was preceptor at Jamyang Shepa’s full ordination as a monk. There is hardly any text by Kunkyen Lama in which he does not pay homage to the victorious father and son. In his text on the Middle View or in his Great Text on Tenets he says something like this:
“If you think over and over again of the way in which the Lotus Holder upholds the Dharma, it moves the very hairs on your heart.
He expresses fulsome praise for the Fifth Dalai Lama, not for the sake of flattery or to observe etiquette, but out of deep faith. (In his turn) the Fifth Dalai Lama had probably given predictions and instructions with regard to the setting up of Tashi Kyil monastery and the subsequent dissemination of the dharma in Amdo. Likewise, in his work on the Middle View, when he arrives at the difficult point of describing identification of the object of negation, (Jamyang Shepa) quotes statements from the Stages of the Path, Sacred Word of Manjushri (by the Fifth Dalai Lama) with strong praise for it as a text written purely from personal experience. Therefore, he placed the Fifth Dalai Lama upon his head, respecting him as an incredibly great master. However, it was different when it came to political matters. For example, he didn’t accept Gyalchog Tsangyang Gyatso as the reincarnation of the Fifth Dalai Lama.
This is clear from his incredibly good history of Yamantaka. When the lamas of the lineage are being chronicled, after the Fifth Dalai Lama, it says, “His reincarnation is the present incumbent Holder of the Lotus, Ngawang Yeshi Gyatso.” No other Tibetans recognised him. Gyalpo Lhasang appointed him and Kunkyen Lama Jamyang Shepa recognised him. So, it is as if only Jamyang Shepa recognised him. All other Tibetan accounts of the time unanimously refer to Rigzin Tsangyang Gyatso as the reincarnation of the Fifth Dalai Lama, despite His Holiness having apparently given back his monk’s vows and his consorting with women. The generally accepted view of Rigzin Tsangyang Gyatso as being the reincarnation of the Fifth Dalai Lama went unchallenged, except by Kunkyen Lama Jamshe Ngawang Tsondrue. That is why for some time the Shugden organisation have asserted in their letters that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is very critical of Jamyang Shepa. But this is all I have said, no more than this.
Now, as a Lama from Loseling College Ling Rinpoche was very partial to the scriptures written by Panchen Sonam Drakpa. Whereas Gen Nyima used to prefer the texts of Kunkyen Lama. He would repeatedly say, “Oh, this text by Jamyang Shepa is so good.” Yongzin Rinpoche would never say such a thing. (Laughs) For example, (Jamyang Shepa) always says that the ‘truth of cessation’ is not emptiness, it is ultimate truth, but not emptiness. Yongzin Rinpoche would emphasise that this is not possible. Whatever the case, he would not give even a little on the views expressed by Panchen Sonam Drakpa. He considered them to be like ultimate truth.
However, at the same time, Yongzin Rinpoche had incredible faith and respect for Kunkyen Lama Jamyang Shepa. Yongzin Rinpoche was from a U-Tsang background and belonged to Loseling College, so he had no particular connection to Amdo. However, he was always full of praise for Amdo Tashi Kyil, describing it as a treasury of transmissions and instructions, where every aspect of Je Tsongkhapa’s tantra and sutra tradition was upheld.
Later, when the Fifth Kunkyen Lama came to Lhasa, when I was small, Yongzin Rinpoche came into contact with him. On that occasion, the Kunkyen Lama wanted to establish a branch of the Upper Tantric College at Tashi Kyil. At that time, Yongzin Rinpoche was probably the Lama Umze of Gyutoe (the Upper Tantric) College, so, he sent some Gyutoe monks to Tashi Kyil. Yongzin Rinpoche’s intention was twofold. On the one hand he wanted to fulfil the wish of Kunkyen Lama Jamyang Shepa and on the other hand he instructed the monks he despatched to bring back from Amdo copies of rare texts that could no longer be found in central Tibet. This was something Rinpoche took particular responsibility for.
In 1955, on my way back from Beijing, I stopped in various parts of Amdo and I clearly remember the visit I paid to the Tashi Kyil monastery. I had the good fortune of paying the monastery a visit. At that time Kunkyen Lama’s reincarnation was very small, and his tutor was really extraordinary, really incredible. The way he presented the formal threefold mandala offering was truly extraordinary, really good. Sadly, the Chinese later killed him during a ‘struggle session’ of ‘thought reform’ (thamzing). He was a truly great being. At that time, Gungthang Rinpoche was also there. He was about twenty-five years old. He too was an extraordinary person.
While I was there at Tashi Kyil, I gave an empowerment of Chenrezi. Yongzin (Ling) Rinpoche told me later that on that occasion, I don’t remember it myself, they put on the blindfold this way or they used some initiation substance that way. Such was his respect for Tashi Kyil that he even paid attention to such minor traditions. Therefore, I too have unwavering respect for the lineage of Kunkyen Lamas. So, what the Shugden organisation says about it is really slander. There is no need for me to convince you or them about this, but, it is important to know the truth, how things really stand. What Kunkyen Lama has been right about is right and what he was wrong about is wrong. But, in matters such as this, I am very clear in my own mind and don’t visualise every aspect of the Lama as correct.
For example, as we saw Aku Sherab Gyatso said, “Oh, what a pity, what a pity. This was understood by the Nyingmapas….“, and other such things. (Laughter) After some time, we might even say, “Oh, what a pity, if a Nyingmapa attains enlightenment. (Laughter) But even then, if we say “Oh, what a shame….“, when a Nyingmapa attains enlightenment, it will not help any Gelugpa attain enlightenment. Therefore, I tell people that there is no need for what is known as “seeing everything that the lama does as correct”.
If it were appropriate to see everything the Lama does as correct, then there would have been no need for the Buddha to explain the qualifications of a Lama in such great detail. The Buddha himself wouldn’t have to have undergone austerities for six years. He could have continued to live as a prince surrounded by many queens and given teachings to his followers. The reason the Buddha renounced the world, was ordained as a monk and undertook austerities for six years was to give us an example. He wanted to show us that in order to purify our minds, which since beginning less time have been thoroughly defiled by the three poisonous disturbing emotions, we have to make effort and have to be able to withstand hardship. Therefore, the Buddha’s teaching is something, which can withstand investigation. It is not something incapable of withstanding analysis that depends only on faith.
However, if you become aware of mistakes your lama has made or he has done things you do not approve of, that does not mean that you should lose faith. For example, I myself have received considerable teachings from Reting Dorjechang, and many teachings from Taktra Rinpoche too. Both of them are my lamas. But (my faith does not extend to) all their deeds. I am referring to what actually happened. In a letter written in his own hand Reting Rinpoche approved a plot to take the life of Kyabje Taktra Rinpoche. I have seen it myself. This is how it happened. A number of documents were seized and among them were found letters Reting Rinpoche had written personally to people like Nyungne Lama in Lhasa. My late abbot himself showed them to me. It was apparent from these letters that when Nyungne Lama, Kharto Rinpoche and others had first sought Reting’s approval of their plans, he had repeatedly counselled and advised them to exercise restraint. But the letters seem to indicate that, by and by, as if to the perception of ordinary sentient beings dependent arising had gone wrong, Reting Rinpoche himself developed a desire to get rid of Taktra Rinpoche. This was clear from the documents and there is no problem in saying so.
For us Buddhists there is no contradiction here. I don’t feel at all uncomfortable about saying this. Reting Rinpoche’s hand written letter says, “Take care that the old monk (referring to Taktra Rinpoche) does not escape” This is completely wrong. I don’t even try to imagine that this was correct. Even so, I don’t view these actions as a cause for my losing faith in him. I have unwavering faith in Reting Rinpoche. However, mistaken actions such as I recognize as mistakes. I don’t think of these as the Lama’s so called “inestimable deeds”.
Similarly, with regard to Trijang Rinpoche, I don’t believe his behaviour in relation to Gyalchen was correct. I don’t visualise it as divine activity. However, I don’t use it as ground for losing faith in him either. He was really such an important Lama to me. I received immeasurable kindness from him even when I was very small. It may seem a little boastful if I give you this example of my strong faith in Trijang Rinpoche. I often dream of my lamas, and in one clear dream Kyabje Rinpoche was urinating and I was lapping it up. So, I do have single pointed faith in him. But the fact that I have faith in him doesn’t mean that I should have faith in everything that he did. And when Kyabje Rinpoche was still alive, I was able to tell him so.
Now, I belong to the line coming from Kyabje Phabongkha, and I hold the lineage of my two tutors. At the same time, since I sit on the throne of the Dalai Lama, I have to carry the responsibility of this institution on my shoulders. From this point of view, I have said before that even Gyalchog Kalsang Gyatso, the Seventh Dalai Lama was not fully qualified to sit on the throne of the Dalai Lama. I said this previously when I gave the Great Stages of Mantra teaching. I wonder if any of you here remember? This is how it seems to me.
Being fairly forthright person I don’t know how to be courteous and discreet. However, sometimes I have been able to do it. For example, when dealing with the Chinese, you have no choice, but to be conciliatory. I worked with the Chinese for nine years in Tibet. On those occasions when I met Mao Tsetung I flattered him a little. Otherwise, my nature is basically frank and open. Therefore, at this time, it is important that you try to listen and understand the whole of what I have said. Only then will you get my point. If, on the other hand, you pick up only one of the many things I have said and black out the rest, saying, “Gyalwa Rinpoche has broken his guru-disciple relationship, he is this and that, and Gyalwa Rinpoche is critical of Jamyang Shepa”, you may not fool many people, but some people will probably be deceived.
I am just telling you how things stand. Do you understand? Whether we are talking about Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche or Trijang Rinpoche, both were inestimably great masters. However, some of their deeds came about as a result of the nature of their disciples and due to their karma and merit. Therefore, since we all have a fundamentally pure bond with each other, I have explained these things to you in order that you will be able to feel confident about them. It’s not that I have any personal wish to speak about them.
Now in connection with these issues, I wanted to tell you some of the personal experiences I have had, even though there may not be much meaning in them. Of course, I have given a detailed account, which you can find in books that have already been published. From time to time I do have strange dreams. However, I would like to recount several things that have not been published so far. I have already described elsewhere the dream I had when I arrived at Ganden, as a result of which the statue of Dolgyal in the Choegyal chapel had to be removed.
After that, when I was in France some years ago, I had a dream one night of a white person who was said to be Dolgyal. That white man seemed to enter into a hollow space under the earth, something like a house underneath the ground. After he had entered the hole, I closed it up by completely covering it with earth and then levelled the ground by stamping on it. Then to one side there was an image of four-armed Mahakala. It’s faces were quite big, probably life size. Even though it was a statue, this Mahakala and I started wrestling with each other. As we fought the four armed Mahakala turned into the two-armed form and it seemed that I had won. So, it seems as if there is something in this. Even before that, on another occasion, which related to something to do with Kyabje Rinpoche, I had a dream that I suspected was probably due to Dolgyal. There was a thangka of Shel Dramsug in the background. This too indicated something. It is mentioned in the biography of Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen that he had a particular relationship with Shel and it does seem like there was some connection there. It’s quite strange. So, this relates to my experiences with Gonpo shel.
On another occasion, some years ago, I gave a talk about Dolgyal to the staff of the Tibetan administration in Thekchen Choeling. As I was coming back to my office at the end of the talk, I saw that about ten pictures of Gonpo Shelshi (all of them photographs of a thangka), something I have neither seen before nor since, had been brought for consecration. It was unprecedented then and has not been repeated. There is a place where all the religious items people bring for blessing are deposited. On that occasion, after I had finished talking about Dolgyal, and as I was coming back to the office, I saw amongst the other items about ten conspicuous pictures of Gonpo Shel. I thought, “Well, what’s this. This is rather strange’. There was some rice nearby, so I threw some grains over them and all ten collapsed. I thought, “Oh, that’s good”. (Laughter)
I have received the full permission to practise all the Mahakalas, Gonpo Shel Namqyur Chudun. Even as a very small boy I had great faith in Gonpo Shel and was very fond of him. Since the time of the Omniscient Gendun Drup (the First Dalai Lama) there has been a special relation with him and he had become an exclusive protector (of the Dalai Lamas). I challenge any suggestion that he is somehow crossed with me or opposed to me over the issue of Dolgyal. I have nothing to be afraid from Gonpo Shel, there is no reason for me to have to give in him. (Laughter) So, this is how it is. But this is just a digression. It seems to me that there is some connection with Shel. But, now that I have said that, the Dolgyal advocates will probably start invoking him too. (Laughter) Let them do so. It won’t make any difference to me. (Laughter) Let me boast a little. Gonpo Shel is not a fool. He will support me and not them, because I am making a positive contribution to the Buddha Dharma.
But I feel that if people say nasty things to me, I don’t need to bow my head, I need to hold it high. If the other person is humble, I also want to be humble. I think of myself as no more than a beggar, I don’t have any sense of myself as something special. Even whenever I come across a beggar, I have a genuine sense of being equal to, if not lower than, him. I don’t think, “I am something”. But when the other side acts big without reason, then it’s only right that I should act a bit tough in return. (Laughter)
That’s why, as I just mentioned, when it is said that (my opponents) have been doing lots of black magic, I just have to laugh. I don’t do anything about it, I don’t even visualise the protection wheel. On my part, I really have true faith in the Buddha dharma and the most compassionate Buddha. I really have true faith. I told the government staff that I have a pure refuge in my continuum. When I generate faith in the precious Dharma, I generate real faith in the precious Buddha. And I also have genuine faith in the qualified followers of the Buddha. The statement that if you have pure refuge, you will not be harmed either by humans or non-humans, is definitive. There is no need to qualify it as definitive or subject to interpretation or to explain it through the method of six extremes and four systems, is it?
So, when I hear that people are provoking others to behave negatively or are behaving negatively themselves, my response is that they will make their mouths hurt and tire themselves out. I have heard, for example, that they are blowing the long horn very hard, but I can’t see much point in that.
So, I was talking about one of my dreams. Later, on another occasion, we were performing a ritual of Hayagriva. It was not particularly aimed at Dolgyal. The aim was to destroy anything, be it human, non-human, a lama, a deity or a ghost. That harms the Dharma and the just cause of Tibet. Whatever it is, it should be eliminated. It can’t be helped. One night during the period when we were conducting this ritual, I dreamt that I was sitting on my bed. Beside my bed was a small boy, about seven or eight years old, whom I took to be Dolgyal. This boy was holding my right hand. When I looked again, I saw that where he held my hand the boy’s fingernails were changing into claws and he was extending them. I was annoyed, grabbed the child by the neck and strangled him. My visualisation of myself as Hayagriva and my sense of divine pride were very clear. While still maintaining this clear vision and divine pride, I took the child in my hands, rubbed it between my palms and swallowed it. It was a very clear dream. Then I awoke. And as I awoke I was still in the process of swallowing. The thought went through my mind, “Strange, how could something the size of a small boy squeeze down my throat”. (Laughter) That was because my ordinary perception had begun to arise again. Previously I had been experiencing clear vision and divine pride, but immediately on awakening, ordinary preconceptions arose again. Consequently, I asked myself, “How could this happen?” So, this was another incident.
Then, last year, we went to Drepung and stayed there for two or three days. After that I stayed at Ganden for one or two days. Isn’t that right? So, it was during that time, on the night of my arrival at Ganden, that I had a dream of somewhere like Dungkar monastery in Dromo. Generally, whenever I have dreams connected to Dolgyal, I dream of Dungkar monastery. I think that’s because I first encountered him Dungkar monastery. It seemed like Dungkar monastery and I thought it was Dungkar monastery. But in appearance it wasn’t actually Dungkar monastery. There was a huge hall. I was on the middle floor. There was also a huge wall. And in order to go down to the hall from the middle floor you had climb down a ladder.
As I went down the ladder, there were people on either side whose flesh and blood had completely dried up, just like the lumps of dried meat (thukpai dhor) half infested by worms, which we put in the thukpa at the time of the Great Prayer Festival in the Tsuglagkhang in Lhasa. In the past, there used to be a meat shop at the Tsuklagkhang, behind what was known as the Simchung Labrang. I used to watch what was going on down there and I have seen the chunks of meat on display. It was all dried meat. There was no red meat, it was all completely dried out and yellow looking. So, it was as if these people had only their skins left, which looked very like the dried meat served during the Great Prayer Festival. They looked so miserable. They were cutting pieces of dry flesh off their bodies with a knife and eating them. Then, on the floor of the hall, there was a huge thangka of Gyalchen laid out.
These people looked so appalling. I felt very distressed and disturbed, and wondered, “How can I help them?” but there was nothing much I could do. Then it occurred to me that it might help them if they heard the sound of ‘Manis’ in their ears, With strong compassion I recited “Om Mani Padme Hum” about three times, after which I woke up. At the same time, as I passed down between these emaciated people, I became aware of a strong, very strange smell. A long time ago I dreamt of Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche and in that dream I smelled the same smell. That was twenty years ago. The two smells were just the same. Although I didn’t recognise this while I was actually dreaming, as soon as I woke up I realised that the two smells were the same. So, there was something strange going on there. These are just instances from my personal experience, so there’s nothing reliable about them. However, I sometimes wonder if some of them don’t have some significance. Anyway, I have simply told you about them.
Now, another thing that I have talked about before, and which you can read about in the books that we have put out, is how to approach practice in relation to worldly spirits (arrogant ones) Regardless of what (the nature or status) of a particular deity is in definitive terms, if it manifests as a worldly spirit, it must be dealt with care. The way to relate to it and the meaning of a worldly spirit’s ‘life entrustment’ (srog-gtad) is that the worldly spirit puts its life at the yogi’s command and the yogi controls the worldly spirit. It is not that the yogi put his life at the command of the worldly spirit. Look at how Gyalchen practitioners behave these days. They say, “I have received the ‘life entrustment’ “and act like as if they have given their entire body, speech and mind over to a worldly spirit. They say with great fear, “If I break (my commitment to perform) the monthly propitiation ceremony to him, he will harm me.” They have got things totally out of perspective.
First of all you have to reach a confident state of realisation. I told Trijang Rinpoche this last year. There is no need (for him) to be hasty at the moment. First, Rinpoche should study the scriptures well and from time to time, he should do authentic retreats. Dolgyal is something with whom Rinpoche has a connection from past lives, and when the time comes, when Rinpoche’s personal realization reaches maturity, I will decide through ‘dough-ball’ divination whether he should take up the practice. And if the divination indicates that Rinpoche should do the practice, then, if Rinpoche has acquired a degree of inner confidence and realisation, it will be perfectly all right. But there really is no hurry. So, this is how you should proceed. This is what qualified practitioners do. For example, it doesn’t look as if the Sakya lamas have submitted themselves to Dolgyal.
By the way, Kalu Rinpoche once told me a story. He had gone on pilgrimage to Sakya. As he visited the Protector Chapels at Sakya, one by one, the caretaker who was showing him round, rather casually explained the stories of the chapels and the images they contained. However, when they reached the entrance of one chapel the caretaker removed his shoes, made three prostrations and with great reverence, explained the story associated with it. It turned out that the chapel belonged to Dolgyal. So, it seems that that Sakya caretaker also regarded Dolgyal as holier than the Buddha. What a caretaker? But he was only doing what we all do. Usually, when we see a statue of the Buddha, all we feel and say is “I go for refuge to you”, that’s all. We don’t think, “the Buddha might disturb my dreams” or “the Buddha might harm me” or “do something to me”. On the other hand if we see a deity snarling with bared fangs, and if the chapel is dark, or there are paintings of an entire human skin with its four limbs and head spread out, we feel, “Oh, this might harm me.” We are afraid, thinking, “If I don’t act respectfully it might harm me.”
We shouldn’t do this, it’s foolish. As Buddhists we should not do such things. Should we? Who should we be afraid of? We should be afraid of (offending) the Buddha. Who should we turn to for refuge? We should seek refuge in the Buddha. He is the one we weep before. (His Holiness weeps) The Buddha is really great. Incredible. Apart from him, whom can we rely upon?
Je Rinpoche was someone who practised the sevenfold deities and dharmas of the Kadampa tradition. He added the three deities, Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara and Yamantaka to Atisha’s Stages of the Path. It’s very good if we can do that too. It’s the right thing to do. Je Rinpoche saw that it was important and introduced the tradition. So, it must be right. Since, Tsongkhapa approved it, it must be right. Yes, of course. And with regard to protectors, he appointed Mahakala and Dharmaraja. If we keep increasing the number of protectors in addition to them, it’s wrong. There is no need for that. There is a danger of the dharma becoming distorted. That really would be a shame. Therefore, a real holder of Tsongkhapa’s tradition should supplement the “Stages of the Path of the Three Beings” with the practices of the three meditational deities Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara and Yamantaka. And if you really feel you need a dharma protector you can take the Six Arm Mahakala and Kalarupa. There is no need for any others besides these two.
Now, in my case, since the time of Gyalwang Gedun Drub, a special relationship developed with Palden Lhamo. And from the time of Gyalwa Gedun Gyatso and Sonam Gyatso a special relationship developed with Nechung due to his connection with Drepung. Even though Gyalwa Rinpoche (the Dalai Lama) was originally from Tashi Lhunpo, later, after he had become a Drepung lama he became connected to Nechung. So, it is due to my connection with the Tibetan Government and my responsibility within the Tibetan Government that I too maintain this relationship. Simply as a Buddhist monk and a practitioner of the Kadampa lineage, I wouldn’t need to do the practice of any deity, not even Palden Lhamo. Would I? But, this is how things stand.
So, it is only the Buddha whom we should be afraid of offending and whom we should rely on from the heart. It is as if we think the Buddha has no power to perform any effective activity. When we recite the Ornament for Clear Realisation whom do we point to when we recite the part on the ‘twenty-seven activities’? It is as if these have no effect at all. If you offer a ““ or a ritual cake, you think you are seeking the protector’s help. You think that whatever you are doing will be successful that your business will be successful. How sad. Look at the state of our sense of refuge. Isn’t it important that we should think more carefully? Don’t you think so? As followers of the Buddha, and as followers of this extraordinarily pure new Kadampa tradition, introduced so remarkable by Je Rinpoche, we should be properly qualified and worthy of it. When we claim to be followers of the pure Kadampa tradition, but in practice if we propitiate deities and ghosts it is totally wrong. This is one reason why I have stopped the practice of Shugden practice. Another reason is that it is clear that from the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama this deity was not on good terms with the Ganden Phodrang government (of Tibet). It had to be stopped for this reason too.
And the third reason is that it should be possible for all different schools of tenets in general and in particular the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism (Gelug) Sakya, Kagyu, and Nyingma – to be incorporated into the spiritual practice of a single individual. This would really be a remarkable thing, a tribute to the glory and beauty of the dharma. This is something I am striving to achieve. Let me tell you a story. Previously, when the late Kunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen was alive, I once consulted Yongzin (Ling) Rinpoche (about the fact) that the Kunu Lama Rinpoche possessed the transmission of the Essence of Secret Tantra (Gyu Sangwang Nyingpo). I said, “I am wondering whether or not I should receive this transmission from him”. His answer was that it was probably better for the time being if I were to defer it. “It wouldn’t be so good” he said. Yongzin Rinpoche was concerned that if I received such Nyingma teachings, Dolgyal might harm me. (Laughter) There were such strong preconceptions at that time. Later, when the Dolgyal issue had blown up …
Now, let me tell you a little about Yongzin (Ling) Rinpoche. Until I started restricting the practice of Dholgyal, he never said anything to me about it. He remained silent and very cautious. Once I started restricting it, Yongzin Rinpoche said, “Yes, you have done the right thing”. In his own case he told me that, usually, whenever he asked Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche questions on different topics, whatever answer he received, he always felt from the depth of his heart, “Of course, this is really the only truth, of course,” as if the answer had come from the Buddha’s own lips. He had complete conviction. Then, one day, Yongzin Rinpoche asked Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche about Dolgyal. He reported that it was being said that those who had a relationship with Nechung should not maintain a relationship with Dolgyal, because it is said that Nechung and Dholgyal are not on good terms. He asked what the truth might be.
Continuation… Phabongkha Rinpoche replied, “This can’t be true at all, because Dolgyal actually came into existence at Nechung’s instigation. So, Nechung, being the one who prompted his emergence, such a conflict isn’t possible.” Even though that was Phabongkha’s answer, on this issue, for whatever reason, in his heart Yongzin Rinpoche didn’t feel “Yes, this is the truth,” as he usually did. Somehow, the question “What’s the answer to this?” lingered on in his mind. This is what he told me and that was the situation. But this is just a digression.
Dolgyal practitioners say that Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk, the eighth Panchen Lama, practised Nyingma teachings and consequently was destroyed by Gyalchen. Reting Rinpoche also did Nyingma practices and was also destroyed. This is what is often said. It is also said that many other lamas were similarly destroyed by Dolgyal. This sort of thing scares people. In India too, at Orissa and other places, first Song Rinpoche visited them and gave teachings on Dolgyal. After that, those who did the practice of Dolgyal became scared and took books like the Padma K’a-thang (the pronouncements of Padmasambhava) out of their houses and in some cases even threw them away. Some gave them away to their neighbours. Similar incidents have happened elsewhere. These are the true facts, not just things that were made up. People who actually witnessed these events are stilt alive.
People usually say that in general Gelugpas are not allowed to become Nyingmas and, in particular, once people start propitiating Dolgyal, if they engage in Nyingma practices, Dolgyal will destroy them. So, when they say this, they are taking exactly the opposite line to what I say – “We should try to practice all the four traditions in a complete form within one single physical basis”. This attitude poses an obstacle to my efforts to try to introduce this good example. Therefore, I have had to put a stop to it.
Now, let me talk about how I have gone about stopping it. To begin with, in the past, when even I was not aware of the issues involved. I too did this (Dolgyal) practice. Later, when I recognised the very negative aspects of doing so, I gave it up. I have described howl gave up the practice in books that have already been published. I gave it up after proper consultation, but without making a lot of fuss. However, I didn’t immediately make my decision public. In due course, though, after I had received a request for a divination about certain matters related to Ganden Jangtse monastery, I had to make things clear.
But the main reason I had to start to raise this issue was because of the controversy that erupted out of the book The Ambrosia That Flowed From the Mouth of the Heroic L.ama Father (Phagoe Lamai Shel ghi Dhu Tsi) by Zedme Rinpoche. Some people say that there is contradiction between what His Holiness said earlier and later. Of course, there is a contradiction. But the reason for it is that at first I thought that if a person wanted to do this practice personally it would be all right, so long as he or she didn’t do so over elaborately. That was what I declared. I said, “Don’t do the practice in relation to the Gaden Phodrang.” That was what I said and many people listened to me.
And yet, many others did not pay heed to what I said. For example, in Pompora Khangtsen in Sera, they have stuck their necks right out. They are continuing the practice with great extravagance. Another example is Gaden Shartse monastery, where they are also being extravagantly zealous. But, the most important thing is that, within Tibet itself, people are being told that Gyalwa Rinpoche’s prohibition of Dolgyal is subject to interpretion and is not definitive. (It is said that) Gyalwa Rinpoche himself is doing the practice. Others say that Gyalwa Rinpoche’s clamping down on Dolgyal is due only to his wish to appease the Nyingmapas. This is the kind of thing that is being said.
When people say this kind of thing, it is as if all that I have given so much thought to, all that I have investigated, analysed and come to decisions about over the years is being distorted and made ineffectual. But what I have started I will have to finish. Won’t I? Usually you have to consider whether something is worth doing or not. If you conclude that it is worthwhile, then even if it is going to take three aeons to complete, you should see the task through to the end. Likewise, whatever the task might be, if it is a proper and important that it be done, then once you have begun you should complete it, shouldn’t you?
They came to kill people and kill they did. But I will pursue this issue through to the end. I can’t back away from it now. Therefore, since my initial attempt was not sufficiently effective and has not produced the desired result, I have had to be stricter in my restrictions. From the outset, my reasons for restricting (this practice) were in the hope that it might be of some help. It wasn’t for any personal reasons of my own. Arid since my initial approach was not effective enough I have had to apply stronger measures. So, this is how things have come about. It’s not as if I suddenly heard something and responded immediately without further thought. Neither did I act in order to please a particular faction. This is how things came about.
The Gyalchen organisation has been fiercely critical of me and has poured abuse on me, but it doesn’t affect me. On the night when people were murdered, I did feel suddenly afraid. I felt a little angry too. But then thinking it over again I thought, “If it was the Chinese who were killing people, we wouldn’t be very surprised. But here we have people who generally claim to be followers of the Buddha. In particular, they claim that what they are doing is for the sake of Jamgon Lama (Tsongkhapa). And thirdly, they say that they are acting in the name of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.” If Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche were alive right now, imagine how sad he would feel. They have killed people. The people killed were Bhikkshus. The two students were also fully ordained monks. At the time when these monks were killed, they were engaged in writing scriptures. What were they writing? They were translating “Praises to the Buddha through Dependent Arising” by Tsongkhapa into Chinese, which was a religious act. How were they killed? Poor Gen, even though he was an old man, he was stabbed sixteen times. Imagine. How disgusting, and how sad?
At the time, I felt quite disturbed. But thinking it over again, I though, “What a tragedy? These people were completely under the sway of ignorance. They were totally and grossly enthralled by ignorance. They were totally under the control of gross disturbing emotions.” I felt great compassion. And as a result of compassion my fear was gone and so had my anger. I felt totally relaxed. However, as I said earlier, if somebody were to come at me with a knife, I wouldn’t stay where I was feeling compassion. I would run away, just as I did when I was a child, when once I was chased by a nomad’s dog. But maybe now, since I am old, I would not be able to run as fast as I did then. At least, I could run a little way.
So, I felt thoroughly at ease. Later I came to know that people were worried and saying things like, “Gyalwa Rinpoche’s heart is broken. He feels so sad and so on.” Then, after what I said to Tibetans in New York about my reincarnation, people’s suspicions were further raised like the saying, “the inauspicious sign and the cock’s crow coincide.” And when I recently gave Bhikkshu ordination to many people, that created even more suspicion. But this is just pointless speculations. As you all know, from our meetings together over the last few days, I am totally at ease and free from worry. I don’t mind how many problems I face. They give me good opportunities to practise patience. In fact, this is howl felt when the troubles occurred. It causes much more distress when we fight amongst ourselves than when the Chinese yell at us. So, to be able to practise patience towards something that hurts more is the greater opportunity. I often teach the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life (Bodhisattvacharyavatara) to other people, now the teacher himself has found an excellent opportunity to practise patience, and that is really precious. This is what I think of the present situation. Anyway, since my first attempt (to contain this practice) was not effective, I have had to reinforce it. In the future too, until I am no more, I will continue on this course and follow it through to the end. I will not stop halfway through.
Recently, during one of my meetings with people newly arrived from Tibet, I had of chance of talking to them a little about it. There were quite a lot of monks among that group and quite a number of them were bound for the three ‘Seats of Learning’. I asked if any of them were going to Sera Med or Shartse. Some, about two to each monastery, answered, “Yes”. I reminded them that when they came from Tibet to India, they came with very a pure motivation and intention to study. I said, “You didn’t come here to kill people. But now you are here, you may find people will tell you something different. Particularly with regard to Dolgyal, you may come across many trouble makers. Nevertheless you should do your best and study well. You must be alert and try to understand these issues properly.”
The reason I said this is that after months and months of inquiries, the Indian police identified a group of six people who they suspected of having killed (Gen Lobsang Gyatso and his two students). They have concluded that all six have since returned to Tibet. Among the group were a couple of monks from the Pompora Khamtsen at Sera Med and a couple more from Ganden Dhokhang Khamtsen. The majority were Chatrengpas, one was from Lithang and couple were from elsewhere. They were all relatively newly arrived from Tibet. So, when we look at it from this angle, it is also very saddening, isn’t it? A few newcomers from Tibet, who didn’t know anything, were deceived either with money or misinformation. It was done in a really poor way. However it was done, these people were deceived. It is really a disgrace.
What’s more, it’s being said that, some of the Shugden supporters have met again recently to discuss what steps to take against those people who continue to speak out against them. I don’t know whether this is true, this is what I have heard. Shortly after people were killed in Dharamsala, letters were posted which said, “We have offered three chunks of meat for Losar, we have still more to offer.” See how callous they are. Disturbing emotions are really so disgusting. This kind of behaviour should really be blamed on disturbing emotions, not on the human beings. But if we don’t take care of people who are under the sway of disturbing emotions it is also no good.
So, (what I have said) is just for clarification. You must try to understand these issues, but there is no need to whip up a storm. There is no need to go out and abuse others, nor should you go out to fight. Just keep these things in mind and if it occasionally seems as if some people are being misled or are confused and if it seems that if you were to explain matters the other person would understand, then explain things clearly. Understand? It is important that people are not duped. But, on the other hand, if it seems that the person won’t listen even if you explain, then there is no point in insisting. People have different natures and dispositions. Everyone has his or her own views. But, from our side, we should be careful. We should always remain alert and listen and check what different sorts of things they are doing. But, beyond that, there is no need to insist or take any other action. Understand?
The present abbot of Sera Med, the acting abbot and the abbot of Shartse and the abbot of Iangtse are all here. You have all done as much as you could. I know only too well under what pressure you have been working. But some may still be feeling, “Since Gyalwa Rinpoche didn’t leave things as they were all these unnecessary things have occurred.” This was something that had to be done. It is not as if Lamas in the past said what they did for no reason at all. It is also something that I have had to do even though I had no wish to do so.
Now, think. I first started placing restrictions on Dolgyal about seventeen or eighteen years ago. If, to begin with, I had been firmer, it is possible that by this time there would not be much problem. To be frank, Kalsang Gyatso was not well established in England at that time. Twenty years ago too, Sera Med’s Gangchen Lama, was not well established either. Now, I am being quite clear about it. Similarly, twenty years ago, Gonsar Rinpoche was yet to put down any roots. Likewise, Yongkyab Rinpoche of Sera Med and Serkong Tritul from Ganden Jangtse. It is they who are presently spearheading (the opposition). So, if we had imposed strict restrictions twenty years ago and implemented them effectively, we would not have these problems now.
However, since the restrictions we made nearly twenty years ago were ineffective, even though we did try, this whole mess has occurred. But imagine what would happen if yet another ten or twenty years were to pass (without taking action). If this were something that did not need to be restricted to start with, I would not have done so, and if I had I would have been wrong. But it is quite clear that something had to be done, whether you look at it from the point of view of accounts of the past, or the real situation at present, or from personal experiences. Whatever angle you look at it from, something had to be done. Therefore, the restrictions that I started to impose about two years ago actually came a bit late rather than too early. Once something like this has started, it is like a disease. When a large tumour has already grown, it will be painful to cut it out. It won’t be easy. However, if the tumour is not removed, it can threaten your life. Therefore, it is vital that it should be removed.
In my position I have some responsibility for the doctrine of Buddhism in general and the tradition of Jamgon Lama Tsongkhapa in particular. Secondly, I have some responsibility for the Ganden Phodrang (government of Tibet). The great majority of the Tibetan people rely on me. That’s why (I can’t accommodate) someone who is not on good terms with Kalarupa, Palden Lhamo, or the Five Brother Kings, someone the Great Fifth Dalai Lama recognised as a perfidious spirit who had broken his pledges, who was also recognised as perfidious spirit by Lamas such as Phurchog Ngawang Tampa and Trichen Ngawang Chokden, both of whom were crystal clear Gelugpas whose word must be accepted as true. In the eyes of ordinary sentient beings, Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche was really an inestimably great master, but next to these great masters there’s just no comparison, is there?
Now, if someone were able to apply reasoning and support their case with citations from the scriptures, if they were able to interpret the meaning of past lamas’ statements with complete clarity, if they were able to state categorically “Yes, this is what this means, he said this with such and such purpose in mind, the reason for this is so and so …“ and prove things clearly and logically to the extent that we could feel quite convinced, then it would be a different matter. Otherwise, if you fail to meet such conditions, and still claim, without being able to offer a credible explanation, that (Dolgyal) is a great Dharma protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition, it will be really difficult to accept. Therefore, I am trying to put into practice what many great Lamas of the past have said. You too should keep these matters in mind. Up to this point, with a few exceptions, most of you did the best you could. All of you, whether you are members of the Three Seats of Learning or the general public, and also you serving and retired abbots, senior Lamas and Geshes, understanding the vital reasons have acted without mistake. I am really very happy. Thank you very much.
One reason I am saying all this is that whatever the reality may be, it is difficult to say that Dolgyal deliberately harbours ill will in his heart. When I first came to know him in Dromo. I found him to be quite impressive. In personal terms, he showed me great fondness and respect. However, as I have said elsewhere on other occasions, he seems to be like certain human beings for whom, no matter what they are involved with, even though their motivation is good, things start going wrong and turn out inauspiciously. This is how it is with Dolgyal. It is due either to negative prayers he made in past lives or due to some incident of negative interdependent origination. Such things happen and this is possible.
Consequently, since this issue relates to the religious and temporal affairs of Tibet as a whole, and since I have responsibility for them, I had to take up this task. I couldn’t just turn away from it on the grounds that it was complicated and would be difficult to resolve in the short term. Since it is a matter closely related both to the Dharma and to our temporal affairs in general, it is an important issue. This is why it had to be done.
It is such a shame. Recently, lamas residing in Europe put together quite a strongly worded resolution as a result of a meeting they convened last year. I was also sent a letter. They have said, “During this generation the Gelugpa tradition has reached point where it faces the danger of decline. A time has come when Lamas and disciples are not on good terms, and parents and children are not on good terms.” This is what they have written. And the person who is responsible for all this is me. (laughs) Some people even say that Gyalwa Rinpoche has actually taken birth in order to destroy the Gelugpa tradition. A long time ago, very long ago, poor Alo Choenze said that the fourteenth Dalai Lama had taken birth in order to destroy Buddhism in general and the tradition of Jamgon Lama Tsongkhapa Chenpo, in particular. And at the end he wrote: O, mighty King of the Yamas along with your retinue of followers, Destroy this man who harm the Dharma of Atisha and Lobsang Drakpa (His Holiness jokes: Destroy this Amdo boy called Lhamo Dhondup, who harms the Dharma), And look after the Dharma and those who uphold it as if they were your own son.
Poor Alo Choenze. He was like that by nature. Before he died, not long ago, he also fell out with his own daughter. Recently, when I visited Australia she was totally disillusioned with her father. She told me, “He was such a bad man. I told him, ‘You are not my father’ and we quarrelled a lot. As grounds for telling him he was not my father, I said, ‘My face doesn’t look like yours. My nature is not like yours. So, you are not my father.” How sad, It is just a sorry state of affairs and nothing more. Not all, but some of the Lamas in Europe are like that too. You should be aware of these things, but there is no need to rush out and get angry with them. But, its important to be aware of what’s going on.
My main worry now is the young reincarnation of Trijang Rinpoche. Since (the opposition) have not been able to bring about any effect through other means, they are saying that His Holiness is condemning Kyabje Phabongkha Rinpoche and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. Since, I am (apparently) principally motivated by contempt for these two Lamas, I have just been using Dolgyal as the excuse. You please check whether or not this is true.
My own stand is that these people are now proving to be the real living perfidious spirits. It’s just such a shame. Last year, when I conferred the Guhyasamaja initiation during the inauguration of the new prayer hall of Gyutoe monastery, I wished very strongly that Trijang Rinpoche could also have been there. Some of you who were there at the time might remember this. Ling Rinpoche was there. I had instructed him to come especially for that purpose from South India. Both Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche were graduates of Gyutoe, the Upper Tantric College, and since the College had built a new hall and I was giving an initiation there, I wanted to do it in the best possible way. So, I conferred the initiation according to the sand mandala and very much wished that both the young reincarnations could be present.
But Trijang Rinpoche was not able to attend. And then again recently, when Lati Rinpoche departed for the West, I told him, “There’s no need to say this to many people just now, but, since Trijang Rinpoche plans to return to India at the end of September it is important that he should do so. Since I am giving some teachings around that time, it would be really good if he could attend them. I am expecting to confer the initiation of the Sixteens Drops of the Kadamapas for that first time on that occasion and it would be very good if could give it to Kyabje Rinpoche’s reincarnation at that time. If that were possible, it would be a really auspicious way for me to repay the kindness of my lama. It would be really very good. But there is no need to spread this about just now, as that may give rise to obstacles.”
I also recently had a talk about this with the abbot of Shartse College when he came to see me for the first time after he was appointed abbot, I told him too that this is roughly what I had planned. That was my initial plan. However, things didn’t work out as I wished and there is nothing much to be done.
I am sorry that I have talked so much. I have told you all this in order that all of you will feel easy about these things. Probably, if you feel at ease, Dharma Raja will also feel at ease. This is all right because if we reach a time when Dharma Raja has become old and useless, then maybe the Gelugpas will need a new protector. Otherwise, there is no need for anybody else. I think the curved knife and the skull club of Dharma Raja definitely have some power. I am sure Je Rinpoche would have have given responsibility for protecting his tradition to someone who was qualified for the task. It’s just not feasible that Je Rinpoche would have placed it in the hands of somebody who was incapable.
If we rely single pointedly on Six Armed Mahakala and Dharma Raja and seek their support, then, although I can’t say whether you will receive immediate help with matters like business, with regard to more important things, I think they are infallible. If you are dealing with (thebs rang) those spirits who are said to have very small bodies, but who help people accumulate wealth, and you make them small ritual cake offerings, it is possible that your business will be more successful. But, these deities, (Six Armed Mahakala and Dharma Raja) are only concerned with important and essential issues, so there is no room for fallibility.