We, the organizers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Norway in 2014, are being asked about our assessment of the issue of the «Shugden controversy». We are asked this because a large group of «traveling protesters» of Shugden worshippers has landed in Norway and intend to launch verbal attacks on the Dalai Lama while he is here.
Our discussion is limited to the information that we have received from various parties, plus what we have found via web search.
The Buddha has said that we should be flexible of mind, and investigate for ourselves rather than to blindly accepting the truth presented by others. We have tried to ignore that the attacks on the Dalai Lama are made in a confrontational and insulting style, and look at the merit of the claims made with an open mind.
These are our current views:
1. The claims related to systematic human rights violations against the exile Shugden worshippers are not credible. No independent journalistic source has been found to support these claims, and our network inside the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala tell us that these claims as baseless. Furthermore, the claims have been brought before independent human rights bodies, such as Amnesty International, who have investigated and dismissed them. However, there seems to have been some examples of individuals attacking Shugden worshippers or denying them access to public locations or jobs. We have not been able to find out whether or not these actions have been properly investigated and dealt with, as they should.
2. The claims that laws have been passed banning Shugden worshippers from e.g. government jobs, hospitals, schools and monasteries are false. We have asked representatives of the Shugden movement to provide references to the laws and articles they are referring to, and not received any such information.
3. The Tibetan parliament in exile is walking a dangerous path in strongly taking sides in the religious controversy. In a recent resolution, the Tibetan parliament has moved that it: «Further recognises also the Dolgyal [Shugden] followers and others – whose have caused grave harm to the faith and polity of Tibet under the Chinese government’s ploy and in violation of the law of Karma – as criminals in history.» Even thought this resolution has no legislative effect, and even though some Shugden followers haveresorted to violent tactics such as murder, we feel that this resolution does not adequately discriminate between criminal actions and personal faith issues.
4. The claims that the Dalai Lama is suppressing religious freedom are based on a misrepresentation of the concept of religious freedom. The claims that the Dalai Lama is suppressing religious freedom is based on three facts:
a. The Dalai Lama is actively advising people to stay away from the Shugden practice, because in his view it fosters sectarianism, replaces the rational approach of Buddhism with spirit worship, and because it harms the unity of the Tibetan people.
b. The Dalai Lama asks people who practice Shugden worship not to attend his teachings.
c. Monks and nuns who practice Shugden worship are not welcome to dwell in monasteries and temples that follow the Dalai Lama’s guidance.
In our view, the Shugden group have misunderstood the concept of religious freedom. The Dalai Lama has no obligation to hide his religious views or to accept all students, regardless of their actions. To the contrary, it is a matter of His Holiness’ religious freedom that he be allowed to chose what religious practice to recommend or refute, which students to accept and what religious conditions apply to people who want to dwell in the monasteries under his direction.
In general, we feel that the claims raised against His Holiness are originated and voiced in a way that is neither constructive, respectful nor honest. There seems to be an echo chamber of Shugden chat rooms, blogs and institutional websites that repeat and amplify generalizations based on a few, isolated incidents. We are very sorry that some Shugden people have decided to spend their time and resources to try and discredit a great spokesperson for peace with harsh words and unreliable accusations. We wish them and everyone else inner peace and peace with the world around them.