Speech During Spring Teachings - 27 March 2006

Speech to an audience dominated by Tibetans from Tibet on 27 March 2006 during the Spring Teachings - 27 March 2006

I thought that I would talk to you about the Dolgyal issue. Actually, I have already spoken a great deal about this over a period of time and, therefore, most of you know about it. You not only know about it, but also, inside Tibet, which includes the U-Tsang region with Lhasa as the capital, and in most parts of Dotoe and Domey, there has been an appreciative understanding of my successive explanations of the issue. Many monasteries have made diligent efforts and taken responsibility to avoid mistakes about what to accept and what to reject regarding this matter.

Among the general public too, there has been a similar assumption of responsibility. You too have made efforts to avoid mistakes about what to accept and what to reject. For this I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude. Anyway, the issue is of critical concern to our Buddhist tradition in general and to Tibet's Ganden Phodrang or government in particular. Therefore, what has been done benefits Tibet. And because most of the concerned people have been able to make a proper choice between what to accept and what to reject in this matter, I felt an urge to thank you all. This activity which concerns the well being of our tradition should not begin and end like Chinese campaigns, which start suddenly to deal with an urgent current concern and then, after a while, calm down and dwindle away. We should be able to carry the work that we have started in regard to this matter to a successful conclusion.

In this connection, I initially used my brain to consider those aspects that were externally clear. With regard to the aspects that were hidden, and therefore not physically manifest, I carried out examinations by invoking the kindness and action of the Three Precious Jewels, the ultimate repository of all genuine knowledge. The Dolgyal Shugden question too is obscure. Therefore, I carried out a thorough examination of both its external and internal aspects before finally taking a decision on whether it was acceptable. It was therefore not at all the case I decided to reject it only on the basis of my personal judgement. I rejoice in the fact that you - both the laity and the ordained - have shown concern about all this and have made a proper choice of what to accept and what to reject.

There are, however, some cases of people pretending not to have heard what they have heard. There are still some cases of people deliberately practising and propagating Dolgyal. All concerned should consider them with great caution. To mention specific names in Tibet, there are some local monasteries in Chamdo with their principal of Chamdo Monastery. I hear that there are people there still reinforcing their efforts to propagate the practice of Dolgyal Shugden. In the Dagyab region too, at the branch Dragyab Monastery and in the Markham region also, I hear that there are people who are deliberately maintaining and propagating the practice.

Denma Gonsar passed away last year. In the region where he lived too, there are people who continue and propagate the practice of Dolgyal. There are among the monks and nuns coming to Lhasa from Markham, Dragyab, the Rawatoe region of Nyethang etc., people who still propagate the practice. There are monks from the Markham region, who have followed their tradition of joining the Ramoche Temple in Lhasa, where they are still propagating the practice of Dolgyal. Whatever is the case, if such people are deliberately and negatively repaying the gratitude we owe the successive Dalai Lamas and are thereby knowingly showing nothing but scorn for the religious and political cause of Tibet and the kindness of the Dalai Lamas, I have nothing else to say. If, nevertheless, I am reiterating what I have to say about this issue, it is because we need to hold as objects of compassion people, if any, who do not know about the issue, or who have not heard about it, or who, out of ignorance, have committed a rash mistake, or who have been led astray by others. All those who know about it have a duty to explain and thereby ensure proper conformity regarding what to accept and what to reject. I too view this as very important.

I have not restricted the practice of Dolgyal Shugden on the basis of a change of mind provoked by some new idea. In my own case, from early on I have held the lineages coming from Kyabje Pabongkha. I am an actual disciple of Kyabje Trijang Dorje Chang. I began to practise Dolgyal under the influences of many circumstances. But gradually I came to have major doubts about the external, internal and secret aspects of it and about developments arising from it. Finally I looked into the works of the previous Dalai Lamas and for the first time came to realize the error of propitiating Dolgyal; as a result I stopped doing so.

The controversy relating to Dolgyal arose during the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama. I examined how the Fifth Dalai Lama viewed the controversy and how he resolved it. Likewise, when I examined the works of other holy beings of the Snow Land of Tibet who embodied both knowledge and wisdom in general and specifically those upholders of the Geluk tradition during and since that time. In a work by Purchok Ngawang Jampa on the history of the Three Geluk Seats of Learning, specifically dealing with Ganden I found information about restrictions on Dolgyal. The biography of the Seventh Dalai Lama Kelsang Gyatso's Tutor Trichen Ngawang Chogden reveals that during his tenure as Ganden Tripa, the worship of earthly guardian-spirits on the premises of Ganden Monastery was eliminated. These historical actions are clearly revealed in the biography of Changkya Rolpey Dorje written by Thuken Choekyi Nyima. It records that Trichen Ngawang Chogden, when restricting the worship of mundane guardian-spirits within the premises of Ganden monastery clearly mentioned Dolgyal by name. The historical record is extraordinarily clear that the tradition of worshipping such entities within the premises of Ganden Monastery was restricted and outlawed. It is therefore clear for all to see that our present restrictions on the worship of Dolgyal have not come out of nowhere, nor has the name Dolgyal been conjured up out of nothing. Instead there are historical precedents to our actions which date from that period (the early to mid 18th century).

It is therefore not at all the case that the two-syllable name "Dol-gyal" is something we have recently created. It is clearly recorded in the old woodblock prints. At the time these woodblocks were being carved, a practice of worshipping Dolgyal existed in Lhasa. The name Dolgyal is clearly carved in these woodblocks. When Panchen Tenpey Nyima, the reincarnation of Panchen Palden Yeshe, came to Lhasa at a very young age, the Eighth Dalai Lama Jampel Gyatso's Tutor Yeshe Gyaltsen told him during one of their classes together to beware of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery’s being ruined by the new deity. The history of the order prohibiting the propitiation and worship of Dolgyal and of allowing only approved guardian-deities at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is extremely clear in the biography of Panchen Tenpey Wangchug.

Whatever the case may be , if you read the biographies of the previous Dalai Lamas, and looks at the biographies of other accomplished and responsible upholders of the Geluk tradition in chronological order, it becomes extremely clear that the highly realized, highly ranked reincarnate lamas, accomplished in both knowledge and wisdom, restricted the practice of Dolgyal. And I have carried forward the same task. More recently, Drepung Khangsar Dorje Chang, a contemporary of Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, said, "Today, the practice of Dolgyal Dorje Shugden is becoming a widespread phenomenon. This is not at all good."

In the case of Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche, he was, in the earlier part of his life, an ecumenical practitioner. Gradually, he developed a relationship with Dolgyal. Need I say more? His own biography records his comments about the inappropriateness of including Tamding Yangsang in the Lama Choepa Merit Field. His biography has only been printed in Tibet, not in India, which mentions  many similar issues. Prior to the passing away of the previous Dalai Lama, whose kindness was unparalleled, a disciple of Kyabje Pabongkha named Zhide Tazur had a dream in which the Dolgyal in a joyous, high-pitched tone, issued a prediction, asserting that the 30th, or last, day of the month in the Tibetan calendar, the day after the 29th, would be the day of reckoning. It is recorded that the disciple reported this to Kyabje Pabongkha. As everyone knows, there is a sense that the term "in a joyous, high-pitched tone" is not an ordinary usage, but indicates good news that deserves to be conveyed “in a joyous, high pitched voice” and welcomed with joy.

In the case of grievous news, you would express it in a subdued way, for it would not be appropriate to deliver it in a joyous, high-pitched tone. When Zhide Tazur, also known as Meru Talama, dreamed about Dolgyal and received from him a reassuring that "the day of reckoning would be the ‘namgang’ (the 30th day of the month) after the 29th day" in a joyous, high-pitched tone, and reported it to his teacher, Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche replied that the matter could be investigated. Later, on the30th day of the 10th Tibetan month, when the sad news of the passing away of the previous Dalai Lama emerged, Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche expressed the view that the prediction previously pronounced by Dolgyal saying that the day of ‘namgang’ at the end of the 29th day would be the day of reckoning, this is what it referred to. This is recorded in Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche's biography.

It prediction was correct. But the fact that it was pronounced in a joyous, high-pitched tone is strange. You should all think about it. The previous Dalai Lama was the very embodiment of kindness to Buddhism and to all sentient beings in the Snow Land of Tibet in general and to the Ganden Phodrang in particular. Was a show of rejoicing at his passing away a positive indication? Or did it indicate a negative disposition? We should think about that. During his lifetime, the previous Dalai Lama issued many firm instructions to Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche and one of the issues related to the practice of propitiating Dolgyal. Because Pabongkha Rinpoche found himself in trouble due to the firm instructions he kept receiving on the Dolgyal issue, and because they ceased as soon as the Dalai Lama passed away, it is not impossible that in the perception of the common people His Holiness’s work was deliberately obstructed.

It is important that you should reach a decision after examining the issue impartially, determining what is good and what is bad on the basis of understanding the entire, actual history of this issue. Apart from the reasons I have given above for objecting to the worship of Dolgyal, there are many other reasons too. Although I have personally had many symbolic revelations about this in dreams, I see no great need to disclose them. Nevertheless, I have witnessed many internal and external developments and indications. You should keep this in mind. It you need documents too, there are many. You can ask my office for them.

During the recent Kalachakra empowerment at Palden Drepung (Amaravati in  Andhra Pradesh), speaking to the religious community, particularly the lamas and Geshes, I stressed that when it comes to questions of what to accept and what to reject, everyone should be involved. It won't do to think that this is His Holiness’s responsibility, or to think that I will be satisfied if there are as many people as possible making offerings to me, and that you don’t need to get personally involved. Do you understand? Within the lay and monastic communities in exile those of you who have connections in Tibet have a duty to advise, educate and  convince people in Dragyab, Markham, Chamdo, Denma, and other places where there are problems.

It would be really unfortunate if people only pretend to follow my advice when they are in front of me, when I am teaching, but then disregard it in reality. Do you understand? This is not an issue that makes any difference to me personally. But, it concerns the religious and political interests of Tibet. Two-thirds of my life has already passed and I have no doubt I will live out the rest of my life happily. But, whatever happens, we should all think of the broader religious and political interests of Tibet. The great majority of the Tibetan people have reposed great faith in me and I, likewise, have a duty to them. Therefore it is my responsibility to offer guidance on what to do and what to avoid on the basis of what is good or bad about the matter in hand. Whether you heed such advice is up to you. Do you get it?

The previous Zong Rinpoche was a fervent practitioner of Dolgyal. I had to write to him about it when he was alive. However, his reincarnation, who is here with us today, has been astute in discriminating between what is good and bad. With a concern for what is in his immediate and long term interests and for what is of benefit to the religious and political cause of Tibet, he has avoided making mistakes. Before this gathering today I would like to congratulate Rinpoche and voice my appreciation of the choice he has made.

At present there are Tibetans who live in the Snow Land of Tibet and those of us who live in exile. Although those of you who have come here from Tibet will eventually be happy to go home, you have no freedom there. This situation is sad for everyone. Nevertheless, it will not be too long before those who live in Tibet and those of us outside will be reunited. This is what I keep praying for and I urge all of you to return home happy at heart. My Tashi Deleg to you all.