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Re: Myths, Dugpas, and HPB

May 15, 1998 12:10 PM
by Daniel H Caldwell

K. Paul Johnson wrote:

> Now to Dugpas:
> > their branch of the faith (there are four in Tibetan Buddhism) are known to
> > the gelugs, or Yellow Hats.  Part of the conflict lies in the fact that they
> > believe that the Dalai Lama (who is also a Gelug, but who, as spiritual and
> > political leader of Tibet, attempts to befriend all four branches) is a
> > traitor because he is promoting dialogue with another major branch, the
> > Niyingma, or Red Hats.  The Shugden believe that even talking to a Nyingma,
> > let alone touching one of their religious works, is a sin.
> Thanks for this fascinating info!  The author, obviously not an
> insider, is a bit mixed up in that the Nyinga are not the only
> red hats, so are the Kargyutpa.  But anyhow, this bit is
> wonderful and makes me revise some of my ideas.  My basis for
> saying that "the Gelugpa simply don't view the red hat sects as a
> band of evil magicians" is the testimony of two Western initiates
> into Tibetan Buddhism.  But both of them learned their view from
> the Dalai Lama, who clearly does not accept such a
> characterization.  However, the Shugden people's attitude is the
> first glimpse I've seen of a historical basis for where HPB might
> have gotten her own portrayal of "dugpas."  And thus strengthens
> the case for some personal acquaintance with Tibetan Buddhism.
> (Which I had considered in her favor anyhow, despite evidence of
> some distortions.)  So I will eat humble pie and say that maybe
> this horrific view of red hats is something she got from Tibetan
> sources after all.  But will continue to say that it is horrid
> and totally untheosophical to demonize a particular religious
> sect in this way.  As the passage below indicates, it can lead to
> murder:

Paul, I'm glad that you are willing to "eat humble pie" but I'm
somewhat dismayed that your admissions above indicate that you
*have had* a somewhat poor understanding of the Tibetan religions.  If
reads even the short, generalized historical accounts of the
development of Tibetan Buddhism, a perceptive reader should get the
idea that there have been divisions, struggles, and even physical
violence (e.g. between the dGe lugs pas and the so-called "Red Hat"
sects).  In the 16th and 17th centuries there were power struggles
and "warfare" between the Karmapas and the Gelugpas. For example,
the 5th Zhwa dmar Kar ma pa fought a political and religious "war"
against the Gelugpas.  A century later, in the 1640s and 1650s, many of
monasteries of the "Red Hats" were confiscated by the so-called "Yellow

*A deeper study into the primary sources* provides vivid color and
crucially important details to the general outline pictured
in the basic histories.

Even in the early 1900s there were Gelugpa lamas who were very much
some of the teachings and practices of various so-called "Red Hat"

All religions have their "dark side." Why should we be so naive as to
think that "Tibetan Buddhism" is an exception?  Obviously, your
"two Western initiates into Tibetan Buddhism" were not aware of this
"dark side."

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