(TibetanReview.net, Mar13’16) – A group made up largely of a section of Western followers that worships a controversial Tibetan spirit and has hounded Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, during his overseas visits over the last several years has declared an end to its demonstrations and disbanded. A visit to the website of the International Shugden Community (ISC) only reveals this special announcement: “The Directors of the International Shugden Community previously announced that from 1 Dec 2015 they had decided to completely stop organising demonstrations against the Dalai Lama. Now, from the 10th March 2016 the International Shugden Community itself will dissolve, including its websites.”
Signed by Len Foley, Representative of the International Shugden Community, it ended by saying “May everybody be happy.”
Reporting on the development, Reuters said Mar 12 that the announcement came after its investigation revealed in Dec 2015 that China’s ruling Communist Party backed the Buddhist religious sect behind the protests that had confronted the Dalai Lama in almost every country he visited. Reuters further said it found that the sect had become a key instrument in China’s campaign to discredit the Tibetan spiritual leader.
On its part the group did not give any reason for ending its public demonstration campaign against the Dalai Lama, or for disbanding itself.
Reuters cited the Dalai Lama as saying, speaking on the sidelines of a media briefing in Geneva Mar 11, that he was aware of the decision by the ISC to disband.
The group is mainly centred in the UK and is associated with the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Geshe Kalsang Gyatso. In the United States, the ISC is registered as a charity in California. It also has presence in some other countries and enjoys open backing and support from the Chinese government. Reuters reported in Dec 2015 that an internal Communist Party document distributed to Chinese officials in 2014 described the Shugden issue as “an important front in our struggle with the Dalai clique.”
The group’s grouse against the Dalai Lama is the latter’s advice against worshipping a 17th century Tibetan spirit called Dorje Shugden, also known by its original name Dolgyal. The Dalai Lama has said Shugden is a malevolent spirit, that worshipping spirits is un-buddhist and that it is also a religiously divisive figure. However, Shugden worshippers contend that the spirit is an enlightened being and advising against worshipping it a violation of their religious freedom.