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Dark side of Geluk sect?

May 13, 1998 07:45 AM
by David Green

At the start of a religious visit to the United
States, the Dalai Lama was picketed in New York City last week by a
group of Buddhists charging him with--of all things--religious
intolerance. The dissident monks and nuns are upset because the Dalai
Lama has strongly discouraged worship of Dorje Shugden, a traditional
protector god of the Geluk sect, to which he himself belongs. The
dissidents regard Shugden as an emanation of the Buddha and
indispensable to their spiritual life and liberation.

The Dalai Lama once worshiped Shugden too, but that, he said in an
interview last week, ``was when I was young and ignorant.'' After
studying the 300-year-old Shugden tradition--and after consulting the
state oracle--he concluded that Shugden is really an ``evil spirit.'' He
now refuses his sacred initiations to those who worship Shugden, thus
alienating some 15,000 mostly Western converts. Tensions are high. Last
year three members of the Dalai Lama's inner circle were ritually
murdered by unknown assailants. Although there is no evidence of
complicity by the dissidents, the incident has stiffened the Dalai
Lama's resolve. ``We should practice the Dharma [the Buddha's
teachings], '' he declared last week, ``not spirit worship.''

Extract from Newsweek; May 11, 1998

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