(TibetanReview.net, May28’20) – The Dalai Lama’s embrace of modern technology to deliver religious teachings, especially to confer empowerments during the Covid-19 times of today, has been severely criticized by a former member of the Tibetan parliament in exile who is also a religious figure. He has been strongly criticized by many Tibetans for his stand and the exile Tibetan administration’s minister for the Department of Religion and Culture has landed himself in trouble for a statement which failed to condemn him for his scathing criticism of the Dalai Lama.
In remarks seen posted online on May 25, Tulku Ugen Topgyal, who lives and runs a monastery at Bir near Dharamshala, has said giving religious teachings and empowerments via Internet represented a degeneration of the Buddha Dharma and tantamounted to destroying the religion. He is said to have used vile epithets against lamas who deliver religious teachings and empowerments over virtual platforms.
The Dalai Lama has long described himself as a man of science and favoured adapting Buddhist knowledge to modernity through mutually beneficial interdisciplinary exchanges.
Tulku Ugen Topgyal, 69, a two-term member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile between 1994 and 2006, has maintained that empowerments cannot be received through long distance transmissions such as through Internet or on television because it was imperative that both the teacher and disciple should be physically together.
President Lobsang-Sangay-led cabinet of the Central Tibetan Administration has denounced Tulku Ugen Topgyal for his remarks. Calling his remarks defamatory, the exile Tibetan cabinet has expressed disappointment beyond measure and said it considered his conduct wrong.
However, a response issued by the Minister for Religion and Culture Ven. Yuthok Karma Gelek was reported to have maintained that although virtual empowerments cannot be conferred, the blessings thereof could still be received. He was reported to have called Tulku Ugen Topgyal a person known to speak his mind without rancour.