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According to Kelsang Gyatso, NKT's founder, Shugden is a Tibetan political matter, although he abandoned his promise to stay out of it and unleashed the political ploys of choice against a more famous rival - protest rallies and Internet attacks against the Dalai Lama.

Shugdenism began as a small movement in Tibet over the death in 1642 of a contemporary of the Fifth Dalai Lama as a means to undermine him. The movement remained small, and largely quiet, until the early 1900s. Fortunately, Shugden controversy was outweighed by continued development of the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Shugdenism took center stage in 1976 with the publication of The Yellow Book, which cast one school of Tibetan Buddhism as superior and actively against the others, using Shugden to ruin the lives of those not from the presumed master school.

The Dalai Lama, the cohesive force of Tibet particularly since Tibet's overthrow by the communist invasion from China 1949-1959, which forced the exile of the Dalai Lama and about 100,000 other Tibetans to India, could not tolerate the ramifications of The Yellow Book. In 1978, the Dalai Lama began recommending to leading Tibetan monks that they not worship Shugden.

Arising from the Dalai Lama's concern with growing sectarianism in the Tibetan community and his attempt for rapprochement with the Chinese people, in 1996, the Dalai Lama more broadly communicated his views about Shugden, leading many to believe that Shugden was banned from Tibetan worship.

NKT's Kelsang Gyatso, a kind of sibling to the Dalai Lama in their early years, exploded his rivalry with a vigorous campaign of protests and Internet attacks. To Kelsang Gyatso, the Dalai Lama's views of Shugden were anti-elitist, Marxist, Nazism and political. The political allegation is partially true because the Dalai Lama's role in Tibetan society is to harmonize and the historical crescendo of Shugdenism to break apart Tibetans became a matter he could not avoid on behalf of the unity of Tibetans, particularly those exiled from their country under communist rule.

Shugdenism is an idea whose aim has always been to divide, explosively so since 1996. Kelsang Gyatso believes the opposite...that the purpose of the 400-year lineage of Dalai Lamas is to divide, explosively so since 1996.

Claims that Shugden is powerful, swift and precise - benefitting his believers and harming his disbelievers - are little more than superstition. As leading Tibetan Lamas have noted, there has never been a purported deity or protector who needs so much protection himself. Shugdenism is a wish designed to gratify and to revenge...a 'faith' that seeks to strengthen egoism and demean disbelievers (99+% of us)...essentially, the opposite of Buddhism and what Buddha Shakyamuni taught.

In connection with his book Ruedi Hofstetter wrote,

"The 'Treasury of Dharma' illustrates that the teachings of Buddha are indeed a rare and most precious treasure which, if one is able to see its value and is skillful in using it, not only fulfills one's temporary needs, but accomplishes the result of lasting happiness. If ignorance, egoism, greed, hatred, pride, jealousy and so on forcefully dominate one's mental continuum, endless problems and sufferings for oneself and others will result instead of peace and happiness. On the contrary, if satisfaction, contentment, altruism, patience, love, compassion, wisdom and so forth are strong and stable in one's mind, even negative conditions are transformed into supportive factors. Since the faults in the mind, no matter how great they may seem, are not in the nature of the mind itself, they can be totally eradicated, and no matter how weak the positive qualities may seem, they can be developed infinitely. The accurate methods to achieve both are the essence of the teaching of the Enlightened One, and the content of this book."

(In pdf form, Mr. Hofstetter distributed Ursula Bernis' 'book' - Condemned to Silence: A Tibetan Identity Crisis (1996-1999), which lambasts the current Dalai Lama and is an 'intellectual' resource for NKT's books against the Dalai Lama - The Tibetan Situation Today and A Great Deception)


In contrast to Shugdenism, Buddhism has the potential to help us pursue a life of compassion, to actually help others more than ourselves. Our Nirvana will be a pleasant side effect. It is vastly more useful, and important for our individual and collective spirituality, to help others more than ourselves....we are one, they are many.

Which direction will you go?