‘Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.‘ (3)
- Introduction to The Shugden Ban
- The Shugden Scapegoat in Mongolia
- Recent events
- The Scapegoat Principle
- Evidence of the Shugden scapegoat in the Tibetan exile community:
- Evidence of the Shugden scapegoat in the West
- Three key political reasons behind the scapegoating of Shugden practitioners
- The spread of Shugden Scapegoat Propaganda
- Common Shugden Scapegoat Strategies (Including section on the Reuter’s Chinese agent accusation)
- In Conclusion
- In depth Analysis of Propaganda Strategies: Samdhong Rinpoche, Robert Thurman, Tibet House
Introduction to The Shugden Ban
The Shugden ban is the Dalai Lama’s ban on any any religious practices associated with the Buddhist Dharma protector, Dorje Shugden, in the Tibetan exile community. The ban on the practice forced Shugden practitioners to give up an intrinsic part of their beliefs; or leave their community in order to continue to practice; or practice secretly. Such a ban is clearly against an individual’s human right to religious freedom and is therefore illegal. The Dalai Lama and his followers have insisted that there is no ban despite the large amount of evidence available that Tibetans have been forced to stop practising
The Shugden scapegoat in Mongolia
With the setting up of the Grand Maitreya Project it is obvious that the Dalai Lama has backing from powerful political and religious leaders in Mongolia. These include Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin, the President of Mongolia, billionaire politician Battulga Khaltmma, the leader of Mongolian Buddhism His Eminence Khambo Lama Gabju Choijamts Demberel, Lama Jhado Rinpoche and the Venerable Thupten Ngodup, the State Oracle of Tibet. (93) The backing of such influential people, together with the Dalai Lama’s position as Spiritual Guide to millions of his followers, means the Dalai Lama could have considerable influence over the political and economic decisions made by Mongolia. Mongolia and the countries surrounding it are fully aware of the economic and political advantages that come with ‘controlling’ Buddhists; this is done through the instructions of their spiritual teachers. Buddhism also brings access to the millions of dollars that are pumped into temples in the form of offerings, purchasing merchandise and paying high prices to attend Buddhist teachings and empowerments. In order to have full control over Buddhist society in Mongolia a scapegoat campaign has been taking place to weaken the position of the Shugden community. The division in the Buddhist community between the Shugden practitioners and followers of the Dalai Lama is explained in more detail below. In the Mongolian Buddhist community the division is being deliberately strengthened, even enforced, through teachings and communications sent into the Mongolia from the Dalai Lama. The division is then being utilised by super powers in international politics to strengthen their own position and weaken the political position of others.
For more information please read Gilded Cage article ‘Religion and Politics.’
18 September 2016, Tashi Dargyeling Monastery, Tibet
‘Tashi Dargyeling Monastery in the Nyentog region of Tibet released an official letter warning of the monastery’s boycott of all Shugden practitioners and those who have connections with these practitioners. A rough translation of the letter issued by the sangha of the monastery is as follows:
Letter from Nyentog Tashi Dargyeling Monastery
Generally, the Buddha’s Dharma and especially H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama’s life is harmed by Dorje Shugden. Recently, some people within our community have been making thangkas (religious paintings) of this deity and supporting this practice. We would like to inform that the monks of Nyentog Monastery firmly protest against these works and urge them to stop. If these individuals do not conform to the monastery’s requests and continue to worship Dorje Shugden or remain connected to the deity’s practitioners, we will cut connections with these said individuals completely. For those who refuse to distance themselves from the practice, the monks of the monastery will not go to the homes of these individuals to perform pujas (prayers). If there is anyone who passes away in these households, the monastery will not be open to them [i.e. no funeral rites will be performed for the deceased]. These are the three conditions that our monastery is firm with, and this promise is witnessed by our Protectors Kalarupa and Chechog Sheltred.
Signed by all Sangha members of Nyentog Monastery
The story featured in a Radio Free Asia article.
‘The administration of Nianduhu Monastery gathered for a meeting and concluded the following: In the future regardless of which village they are from, those who have Shugden’s picture, statue or thangka found in their houses should be totally cut off from us. If their family members are sick or pass away, Nianduhu Monastery’s sangha will no longer perform rituals for them.” The source also said: “Nianduhu Monastery’s sangha community also released a joint statement on 18th September 2016 urging the villagers to boycott Shugden.” (71) The letter and statement from the Monastery will mean the segregation of any Shugden practitioners from their own community. An equivalent to this in the Christian religion would be if the leaders of the town’s Catholic church called for all those in the town, who continued to worship the Holy Ghost, be cut off from their church, be denied rituals such as funerals, and to be shunned by their community. This is clearly against Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.’ (72)
Anti Shugden Teachings
The Dalai Lama seems to be taking advantage of any public appearance to say something negative about Dorje Shugden practice, or Dolgyal as he negatively refers to the practice, and to reinforce the scapegoat tactics.
When preparing students for the Kalachakra empowerment, January 2017 the Dalai Lama said: “Having undertaken a great deal of research,” he declared, “I discovered that Dolgyal arose due to distorted prayers. The Fifth Dalai Lama described him as malevolent, saying that he harmed the Dharma and beings. If you want to propitiate Dolgyal, that’s up to you. But if you want to make or keep up a relationship with me, please don’t also maintain a relationship with Dolgyal.” (73) It is interesting that the Dalai Lama accuses Shugden practitioners of being sectarian whilst showing such lack of tolerance in his own teachings. Ironically in the teachings before this he has talked about the connections between all Buddhists and encouraged those present to ‘take advantage of being here together to get to know one another better in an ecumenical spirit. He said that in the past such opportunities were rare, but today can be easily achieved.’ This of course would not include getting to know Shugden practitioners who are banned from all his teachings. He also managed to insert another negative comment; ‘He asserted that the Dolgyal people’s warning that if Gelukpas have even a Nyingma text in their homes, Gyalpo Dolgyal will punish them, is no good at all. He stated clearly that all Tibetan Buddhist traditions have roots in the Nalanda tradition and encouraged the establishment of harmony and friendship among them.’ Interestingly again the Dalai Lama apparently fails to see the irony of accusing the Shugden practitioners of intolerance, when he threatens to ‘punish’ practitioners with exclusion from a relationship with him and consequently with their Tibetan community. (74)
Teachings in Switzerland October 2016
The Dalai Lama seems keen to ensure the ban on Shugden practice within the Tibetan community remains firmly in place by regularly speaking against the practice in his teachings. On October 15th the Dalai Lama used two of the commonly used Shugden scapegoat threads, see below, in his teaching in Zurich, Switzerland. ‘Speaking on the controversial Dholgyal deity, the Tibetan leader recalled, “I did the practice for some time, although there were several great teachers at Drepung who were apprehensive about it. Eventually I did a divination about it that prompted me to stop. I discovered that the 5th Dalai Lama had written that Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen had been lucky to be recognized as the reincarnation of Gelek Palsang. He also wrote that Dolgyal arose as a result of distorted prayers and that he harmed beings and the Dharma.” The Tibetan leader said that Dholgyal propitiators staging demonstrations against him does not affect him. He said, ”They (Dholgyal followers) criticized me and you may have seen the demonstrations they held against me and the way they depicted me—not that I mind about that, but I am concerned about their ignorance.”’ (70) Stating that the 5th Dalai Lama wrote that Shugden practice ‘harmed beings’ may be a response to recent claims by Tsem Tulku that the Dalai Lama had lifted the ban, after he was filmed in conversation saying Shugden practice did not harm him. Tsem Tulku’s claims led many to hope that there had been a relaxing in the ban but these recent statements show that is simply not the case.
September 19th 2016, Avalokiteshvara Empowerment in France
After the empowerment the Dalai Lama spoke about the ban on Shugden practice in the Tibetan Buddhist community. What he said was: ‘Regarding ecumenical and non-sectarian practice, I didn’t pursue it to begin with because of my connection with Dolgyal (Shugden). The 5th Dalai Lama described Dolgyal as a ‘perfidious spirit’ who harms the doctrine and sentient beings due to having made flawed prayers…“I hear that some people report that I have said no one should do the practice of Dolgyal. That is not what I say. There are problems with the practice, which I know from my own experience, and that’s why I recommend people not to do it. But if someone wants to do it, they can. There are monks today in monasteries adjacent to Ganden and Sera who specifically follow the practice. “What I do say is that Dolgyal broke his bond with the 5th Dalai Lama and has been controversial ever since. I’ve encouraged people not to do the practice, but I haven’t said that no one can do it.” (67)
His statement, ‘If someone wants to do it they can,’ has led some people to believe that the Dalai Lama has done a U Turn and is now allowing Shugden practice: On the website http://www.tsemrinpoche.com, Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, the Malaysian based ‘spiritual advisor to Kechara’ Buddhist Temple, has posted a lead article that states: ‘Dear friends around the world, I have such great news to share and I am ecstatic about this turn of events… I sincerely thank His Holiness the Dalai Lama for these pronouncements, and myself and hundreds of thousands of us now hope that through reconciliation, non-Dorje Shugden and Dorje Shugden practitioners can live together in peace and harmony, towards the development of spiritual attainments.’ (68) Unfortunately the Dalai Lama’s comments do not indicate any change in his stance on Shugden practice which is clearly shown in the words, ‘There are problems with the practice, which I know from my own experience, and that’s why I recommend people not to do it.’ In order for people to understand how powerful these words are they would need to understand that Tibetans see the Dalai Lama as a living Buddha, who they must follow with blind faith. His ‘recommendations’ have the power and authority to control the actions of all his followers. His followers believe that not following his ‘recommendations’ would mean not attaining the everlasting happiness of Enlightenment; it would also lead to your segregation and hatred from the other members of your community. This tactic is illustrated on the Central Tibetan Administration’s website; ‘His Holiness the Dalai Lama has advised Tibetans and Buddhist followers that propitiating Dolgyal will lead to sectarianism and spirit/cult worship, which is fundamentally against the teachings of the Buddha. As a spiritual leader, he considers it is his responsibility to guide his followers on the correct spiritual path. Ultimately, it is for each individual to decide whether or not to listen to his guidance.’ (69) So on the one hand the Dalai Lama is just giving advice, on the other hand Shugden practice is ‘fundamentally against the teachings of the Buddha.’ It is easy to see how it is impossible for those who venerate the Dalai Lama as their Holy Spiritual Guide to ignore this ‘advice.’
The Dalai Lama, his powerful followers, and the Central Tibetan Authority have been carefully and skilfully enforcing the ban for decades, through a complex web of religious ‘advice,’ scapegoating propaganda, control of income to the exile community and control of the media. Even as recently as 12 July 2015 the Central Tibetan Administration has published an article on its official website that states the Dalai Lama did not ban Shugden practice in the exile community, that he has only ‘advised against propitiating Shugden.’ (41) In truth there is much evidence to the contrary, including articles on the CTA’s own website that make it very clear just how formal and binding this ‘advice’ actually is.(43) To be completely clear about this being most definitely a ban it is important to understand how the ban is enforced through many different strategies. The combination of these strategies leave the Shugden practitioners, in the exile community, with neither the freedom or the ability to practice their religion. This discrimination against a religious group is breaking the constitution of the exile community, India and international laws on religious freedom, it is illegal.
Jamyang Norbu, Tibetan political activist, has great insight into Tibetan religion and politics and makes the following observations about the Shugden controversy: ‘Of course, people must be allowed their beliefs no matter how ridiculous or wrong we may perceive them. I believe people have the right to worship Shugden or any other deity they want, while the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader certainly has the right to object to this on theological grounds and ask people to refrain from such practises. But that is not the problem. The trouble is that the Tibetan government has been inducted to implement the Dalai Lama’s proscription of Shugden worship. The Tibetan government claims it has not issued any orders or appeals to people to harass or ﬁght Shugden worshippers. Yet it has produced and distributed literature and videos demonizing Shugden worshippers. It has furthermore made no effort to dis-courage or condemn attacks on Shugden groups. Furthermore, His Holiness’s statement that the worship of Shugden is harming his health and life (which I have a problem accepting) is deﬁnitely inﬂammatory, considering the kind of blind fanatical loyalty he draws from many simple Tibetans.’ (63)
These tactics, and the resulting religious apartheid in the Tibetan community, has been shamefully ignored by the international community. It is true that there are some monks who continue Shugden practice in two monasteries in the exile community, but they did so only after being physically thrown out of their own communities, after death threats, after losing all of their entitlement to equal rights and financial support. This is similar to the way black, native, South Africans were ‘allowed’ by the white Government to live in settlement ghettos in South Africa; so Shugden practitioners were corralled into walled off monasteries, banned from shops, libraries and clinics. This article explains in detail how the ban is enforced, a ban that still separates families and communities to this day.
In the same article Tsem Tulku Rinpoche has posted a video of a discussion that took place after the Teaching. His translation states the Dalai Lama says: ‘“God is harming! Naga is harming! For example, Gyalpo Shugden. I have put him [Dorje Shugden] in a position where he is a recipient of my compassion. Besides, I do not nor have I ever had any feeling that Gyalpo Shugden will harm me. Do you understand? No matter how pitiful or wretched we are, however if we practise the Bodhicitta, love and compassion, no god or ghost can harm us.’ If this translation is correct then this does appear to be a contradiction to what had been previously said, in many different articles and speeches by the Dalai Lama and his followers, that Shugden practice would shorten the Dalai Lama’s life: Prompting the Tibetan political commentator Jamyang Norbu to say ‘Furthermore, His Holiness’s statement that the worship of Shugden is harming his health and life (which I have a problem accepting) is deﬁnitely inﬂammatory, considering the kind of blind fanatical loyalty he draws from many simple Tibetans.’ (63) However as the Dalai Lama is now 81 years old it would be ridiculous for him to continue to say Shugden practice harms his life as it is clearly not true! This was one of the scapegoating strategies used for many decades, it served its purpose well, it was a powerful way to create hatred towards Shugden practitioners. The fact he has been ‘caught’ off guard contradicting what was clearly untrue in the first place is not a sign that the ban is being lifted.
Rather than these latest comments from the Dalai Lama being seen as some kind of lifting of the Shugden ban they need to be recognised as continuing the Shugden scapegoat strategies within the Tibetan community. The Dalai Lama should be ‘recommending’ that Tibetans adhere to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international community should be making sure that he does so.
‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.’
It is interesting that the Dalai Lama feels able to criticise Myanmar’s State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi ‘for not speaking up against the atrocities committed against the Rohingya. “She remained quiet for a while, as Nobel Laureate she should speak against injustice,” the report quoted him as saying.’ (70) He has remained silent throughout the injustice of the forceful eviction of Shugden practitioners from their own community.
How the ban is enforced
The ban on Shugden practice is enforced through the following methods, more details of which can be found in the relevant sections of the Gilded Cage Articles:
The union of religious and secular power, known as chösi nyiden, in Tibetan politics means the Dalai Lama’s position, as spiritual guide, ensures unquestioning obedience to all his instructions. (Part Two: Religion and Politics)
USA financial support, through NED, of Dalai Lama and Free Tibet campaign for their own political agenda ensures Dalai lama and CTA have monopoly of income, they use this monopoly to enforce their political agenda. (Part Three: Corporate Power)
This same financial support ensures Dalai Lama and CTA have complete control of the media, silencing any protest from Shugden practitioners. (Part Six: Media Control)
Propaganda techniques, including a complex Shugden scapegoat strategy develops feelings of fear, paranoia and hatred towards Shugden practitioners. (See Below)
Physical intimidation including violent physical attacks on Shugden practitioners in the exile community and at protests, vandalism of homes and properties, intimidation lists of protestors published on CTA website, newspaper articles, posters, letter and social media messages carrying threats of violence including death threats. (See below)
Manipulation of ‘voluntary tax’ chatrel system ensures undemocratic control is maintained. Lack of employment, voting rights, travel, access to education all ensure opposition is eradicated or kept in weak position. (Part Seven: Fraudulent Elections)
Suppression of Labour and minorities ensures opposition is kept weak and tight control over the majority can be maintained. (Part Nine Suppression of Labour: Part Ten Gender Roles)
Corruption and cronyism, the Free Tibet campaign and NED backing from USA has led to enormous amounts of money being generated, all of this money is channelled through charities and organisations controlled by the Dalai Lama and CTA. This money is a huge incentive for people to uphold the ‘Dalai Lama myth’ and suppress any opposition to him. (Part Seven: Corruption and Cronyism)
The combination of all of these elements led to what is a complete ban on Shugden practice and a level of hatred, towards Shugden practitioners, that is so intense that it caused Jamyang Norbu to issue the following warning in 2013: ‘I was told that Dharamshala is going around all Tibetan communities making people sign pledges that they would ostracize Shugden devotees, and not even share a meal with them or have anything to do with them. I was told to watch an Al Jazeera documentary on the issue and I was shocked. I had not known that things had gotten so out of hand. Tibetans really need to deal with this issue through discussion and debate, before we start murdering each other, one of these days, just like Sunnis and the Shias, or Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. If anyone is under any illusion that Buddhists are inherently nonviolent just look back at the way Buddhist monks were instigating the killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and more recently the killing of Muslims in Burma.’ (44)
The signing of pledges is a fact. Monks were forced to take oaths that they would stop their Dorje Shugden practice and that they would refuse to associate with anyone who continued their practice. (47)
These oaths did not just apply to the monasteries, professional lay people, including doctors, were also forced to ‘submit a declaration’ that they would stop their Shugden practice or tender their resignation. (47) These are clear evidence of human rights abuses by the Dalai Lama and his government in exile.
Jamyang Norbu is right to be so concerned, at protests against the Ban on Shugden practice in the exile community, organised by the International Shugden Community, in Aldershot 2015, followers of the Dalai Lama had to be physically restrained by the Police from attacking the peaceful protestors.
The use of the fascist principle of scapegoating others to eradicate or control groups of people is investigated here:
The Scapegoat Principle
One definition of Scapegoating is: ‘The practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame as a scapegoat.’ (2) Another more medical definition of scapegoating is:
“Process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc.. upon another individual or group; the amount of blame being unwarranted.” (3)
The aim of this article is to investigate how the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) use scapegoating tactics normally associated with Fascist governments, as described in Dr Lawrence Britt’s ‘Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism.’ (1)
The term ‘scapegoat’ is biblical in origin; ‘after the high priest symbolically transferred all the sins of the Jewish people to the scapegoat, the goat, “destined for Azazel” was driven into the wilderness and cast over a precipice to its death.’ (4) It is an effective political tool that has been used throughout history; from Pandora being blamed for ‘unleashing all the troubles humans face today;’ (5) to the Jews in Nazi Germany; and the blaming, by some, of minority groups for national woes in modern society.
The use of Scapegoating as a political tool
Scapegoating is a very effective political tool for three reasons:
1. It turns the attention of the masses away from the failings of the government.
2. It removes the blame for the failings of the leadership from the government to the scapegoat.
3. It unites the people against a common enemy, making them easier for the government to influence and control.
Scapegoating is a very popular tactic with Fascist Government; ‘Fascists often blamed their countries’ problems on scapegoats. Jews, Freemasons, Marxists, and immigrants were prominent among the groups that were demonized.’ (6) ‘Scapegoating is instrumental to the worst violations of human rights against individuals and minorities, including genocide.’ (7)
Mussolini used the tactic in the fall of 1938, quite probably due to the strong influence of his ally Hitler; ‘naming the Jews as an “anti-national threat.” The government imposed extreme discriminatory laws on Jews, and immediately the Jews — who were living in relative peace ever since the unification of Italy in 1871 — were treated with contempt by the State. Not only were the Jews prohibited from teaching/attending schools, working for the government, and publishing, but they were also not allowed to own private property or practice their professions.’ (8)
Hitler and the Nazi’s used blatant propaganda and dehumanising techniques to unify the Germans against the Jews,
“Was there any form of filth or crime…without at least one Jew involved in it. If you cut even cautiously into such a sore, you find like a maggot in a rotting body, often dazzled by the sudden light – a Jew.” – Hitler, ‘Mein Kampf’
The repercussions of this policy of scapegoating are unforgettable.
Victims of scapegoating in the exile community
The people likely to fall victim to the scapegoating techniques, used by the Dalai Lama and CTA, would be anyone who holds an opposing view to the Dalai Lama. Four clear examples of the use of this strategy are: Dorji School in Nepal, (10) Thirteen Settlements, (11) advocates of Tibetan Independence (12) and Shugden practitioners.
THE SHUGDEN SCAPEGOAT
Evidence of the Shugden scapegoat in the Tibetan exile community
Sera Jey Monastic University Identity badge
On 25th January, 2016, SJMU announced on their website that they had officially ‘introduced an Identity Badge for bona-fide member monks of Sera Jey.’ (55) The rest of the announcement makes it clear that the badge is less to distinguish members as being part of the monastery, their robes alone would indicate their membership, but is more to identify the monks as not being ‘Dogyal propitiating monks.’ The use of the word Dogyal here is very significant as it is a derogatory term used in the exile Tibetan community to describe Shugden practitioners.
The yellow star identity badge used by the Nazis ‘was intended to humiliate Jews and to mark them out for segregation and discrimination.'(56) The Shugden practitioners will be singled out for discrimination by their lack of badge. SJMU is a very powerful influential institution within the exile community and will influence the behaviour of other monasteries. There is no practical use for the badge so it can only be assumed that this is simply another way to highlight the division in the Tibetan Buddhist community caused by the Dalai Lama’s shugden scapegoat tactics.
At the moment there is nothing to distinguish between a Buddhist monk who practices Dorje Shugden and one who doesn’t because the robes of the monks are extremely similar.
Sera Jey Monastery Shar Gaden Monastery
The badge would be a clear symbol to members of the community outside the monasteries which monks are Dorje Shugden practitioners and which aren’t. In a society where scapegoat tactics have led to physical attacks and death threats against the monks who refused to give up their Shugden practice, being able to clearly identify them in public seems to be marking them out for ‘segregation and discrimination’ in their community. An article presented by Yale University Genocide Studies Program explains the significance of finding ways to easily identify groups: ‘Group classification on ID cards or other official personal documents (passports, residence permits, etc.) force a person to be affiliated with a governmentally-defined group and expose persons to profiling and human rights abuses based upon their group identity. In times of crisis such classifications facilitate the targeting of persons on the basis of group affiliation, making individuals readily identifiable for possible detention, deportation, or death.’ (57) With the evidence of death threats and violence against Shugden practitioners (see below) it is vital that the international community respond to actions like this, clearly meant to intimidate and humiliate a religious group.
Discrimination in the administrative structure
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), under the leadership of the Dalai Lama, make blatant use of the scapegoat strategy in their campaign against Shugden practitioners. ‘The methods Dharamsala has used to pressure Tibetans into giving up one of their cherished religious practices and the tradition it is meant to protect are based on silencing any genuine disagreement with its policies through a kind of psychological warfare that uses threats against those perceived to disagree with the Dalai Lama, intimidation, and social pressure.’ (39)
The effects of this targeted discrimination are felt mainly within the exile community; where Shugden practitioners, like the Jews in Mussolini’s fascist Italian state, are prohibited from working for the Government. They are also excluded from ‘free schools, health care and access to vocational training.’ (13)
Consequences of scapegoat technique In the Exile Community
The full extent of the effect of the ban in the exile community cannot yet be fully assessed because the lives of people who speak out against the ban are put in danger. This is due to active encouragement from the Dalai Lama and his representatives to stop people practising Dorje Shugden using ‘whatever means,’ even violence.
In 1998 Swiss Public Television produced a documentary investigating the effects of the Dalai Lama’s Shugden ban on the exile Tibetan community, it goes some way to reveal the extent of the intimidation and violence used against Shugden practitioners to silence them. In Monasteries where monks refused to take the oath to give up their Shugden practice death threats were received such as this one:
This letter states, ‘Whoever reveres Dorje Shugden must be targeted and firmly opposed. We must bring them before the public, they must be killed.’ While the crew were filming a Monk received this personal threat, the drawings show him hanging by the neck from a tree, the words say, ‘You will be dead in seven days time.’
In the exile Tibetan settlements any villagers who refused to give up their practice were shunned by society, threatened and homes attacked. This couple describe their social isolation and their fears for their family, ‘We cant go on living like this. …I don’t care if they kill us parents but I am afraid they will harm our child. Every time I go to work I am afraid they will kill my child or kidnap him before I get back. We still live in the Tibetan community but we don’t belong there anymore they have excluded us completely.’
In the second part of the documentary a woman describes how people broke into their house and destroyed everything, even trying to burn it down, they were left with nothing, ‘My husband worked 35 years for this.’
These are some of the long term effects:
- The banning of Shugden worship by the CTA Chamber of Tibetan Peoples’ Deputies
- The withdrawal of democratic legal rights within the Tibetan refugee structure.
- The purging of CTA institutions
- The instigation of forced signature campaigns denouncing Shugden worship within Tibetan Buddhist monasteries
- House-to-house searches and assault against Shugden worshippers and their families
- The withholding of welfare privileges from Shugden worshippers and their families by CTA organisations
- The expulsion of monks and nuns from exile monasteries
- The desecration and destruction of Shugden statues and shrines
Evidence of the Shugden scapegoat in the West
Unfortunately the blatant propaganda techniques of the Dalai Lama and CTA have paid off in that they have successfully created a scapegoat in the form of the ‘Dolgyal’ (Shugden) The evidence for this can be found in the shocking levels of abuse that Shugden practitioners receive online, as illustrated in the screenshots in the comments, below.
The online abuse is orchestrated, it targets individuals and organisations and has included abusive language, attempts to interfere with individuals’ livelihoods and threats of violence and death.
This level of abuse is a clear illustration of the “dark” side of group mentality when a scapegoat has been created, this ‘is an enhancement of disruptive or meaningless behavior without perception of responsibility, in a process that suppresses in part ethical and rational consciousness.’ (17) What is particularly worrying in these abusive comments is the frequent use of the term ‘dogs’ to describe Dorje Shugden practitioners. This shows that the Dalai Lama and CTA have been successful in dehumanising the practitioners. ‘According to Haslam, the animalistic form of dehumanization occurs when uniquely human characteristics (e.g., refinement, moral sensibility) are denied to an outgroup. People that suffer animalistic dehumanization are seen as amoral, unintelligent, and lacking self-control, and they are likened to animals. This has happened with Black Americans in the United States, Jews during The Holocaust, and the Tutsi ethnic group during the Rwandan Genocide.’ (18) This is very similar to the dehumanising process other Fascist nations used when ‘unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe.’ A good example of this is the use of rats in the Nazi propaganda film, ‘The Eternal Jew,’ Barsam describes the film as arguing that “Jews are criminals;… they have no soul;… they are different in every way;… killing them is not a crime, but a necessity—just as killing rats is a necessity to preserve health and cleanliness.” (19)
What is deeply worrying is the the Dalai Lama and CTA, who are clearly aware of the level of hatred that exists towards Shugden practitioners, as a result of their own Shugden scapegoat propaganda, have gone as far as to post photographs, names and locations of Tibetans, who now live outside the exile community, who have taken part in the demonstrations against the ban. Many see this as an official ‘hit list.’
Three key political reasons behind the scapegoating of Shugden practitioners
The following is a clear and rational explanation of the reasons behind the scapegoating of Shugden practitioners in the exile community. The article is posted anonymously by a Western Shugden practitioner; it is still the case that Shugden practitioners have to protect their identity when posting articles about the Shugden controversy because of the threats being made against Shugden practitioners, by members of the Dalai Lama’s community; threats of physical violence, and frequent attempts to ruin reputations and livelihoods.
WisdomBuddhaDorje Shugden blog
“There are three key political reasons behind the Dalai Lama’s ban:
- 1. The Dalai Lama seeks to consolidate all power under him to strengthen his hand in his negotiations with the Chinese.
- Dorje Shugden provides a convenient scapegoat for all the problems faced by Tibetans, thus deflecting blame away from the Tibetan government in exile.
- Persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners distracts attention away from painful concessions being made by the Dalai Lama in the negotiations with the Chinese.
1.The Dalai Lama seeks to consolidate all power under him to strengthen his hand in his negotiations with the Chinese.
The Dalai Lama’s principal responsibility is as political head of Tibet. After the Chinese invasion, he felt that complete Tibetan unity was indispensible for advancing the Tibetan cause. He already had absolute political power, but to obtain absolute societal power as well, he felt he needed to unite the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism into one (under his authority). Then all of Tibet would be fully united and be able to speak with one voice (his). Towards this end, he became a staunch advocate of the Ri-me movement (a movement which seeks to practice all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism together). Those who resisted his efforts, including (but not limited to) Dorje Shugden practitioners, became seen by him to be a threat to his objective to unite all of Tibet. By extension, any who opposed him became seen by him to be a threat to the cause of Tibet and by extension to his life.
“Below are some excerpts of a review of the book Buddha’s Not Smiling: Uncovering Corruption at the Heart of Tibetan Buddhism Today, by Erik D. Curren. The review was written by Lama Karma Wangchuk.
History belies the Shangri-La image of Tibetan lamas and their followers living together in mutual tolerance and non-violent goodwill. Indeed, the situation was quite different. Old Tibet was much more like Europe during the religious wars of the Counter-reformation than a neighborhood in Berkeley, California where synagogue, mosque, church and dharma center make cozy neighbors….For hundreds of years in Tibet, lay followers of each religious school clashed with each other for control of the government of central Tibet or rule over provincial areas. Lamas had to defend their monasteries and landholdings from supporters of the other schools as well as from the central government …
One of this book’s most valuable achievements is to show, for perhaps the first time in English, how the complex sectarian conflicts of Old Tibet followed the lamas when they fled into exile in 1959. At first, faced with the Chinese invasion in the fifties and early sixties, Tibetans experienced a period of unity and the Karmapa and Dalai Lama enjoyed a close friendship. But in exile, things changed. “Hundreds of years of habit would not die so easily,” Curren writes, “and after a few months in India, competition between the administrations of the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa resurfaced. The Dalai Lama and his ministers had just lost their country. In exile, they wanted to create a unified Tibetan community. To achieve this new unity, exile leaders in their new headquarters in the Indian hill-town of Dharamsala began making plans to extend their control over the five religious schools of Tibet .”
Curren’s account of the United Party initiative will be shocking to many readers. The United Party was a plan run by the Dalai Lama’s brother Gyalo Thondup to unite all Tibetans, regardless of their region or religious affiliation, into a coherent group able to stand together against the Chinese. The most controversial part of the plan was a scheme to combine the four Buddhist schools and the Bon religion—governed separately for more than five hundred years back in Tibet —under a single administration led by the Dalai Lama. “When word of the United Party’s religious reform got out in 1964, the exiled government was unprepared for the angry opposition that leaders of the religious schools expressed. To them, this unification plan appeared as a thinly disguised scheme for the exile government to confiscate the monasteries that dozens of lamas had begun to re-establish in exile with funds they had raised themselves.”
The sixteenth Karmapa led the opposition to the United Party, serving as spiritual advisor to a group of refugees from thirteen resettlement camps in India and one in Nepal—the “Fourteen Settlements” group—thus earning the enmity of the Dalai Lama’s ministers in Dharamsala. Under the Karmapa’s leadership, the opposition group succeeded in stopping the religious consolidation plan, and in the mid-seventies, the United Party closed up shop. But apparently ministers in Dharamsala were looking to avenge their political defeat. In 1977, an assassin claiming to be working for the Tibetan exile administration shot and killed the political head of the Fourteen Settlements, Gungthang Tsultrim. As Curren writes, “When apprehended in Kathmandu, the murderer, Amdo Rekhang Tenzin, told the Royal Nepalese Police that the Tibetan exile government had paid him three hundred thousand rupees (about thirty-five thousand dollars) to assassinate Gungthang. Even more shocking, the hit man claimed that Dharamsala offered him a larger bounty to kill the sixteenth Karmapa.” (40)
Opposing Dorje Shugden practitioners had potent political significance for getting the other schools of Tibetan Buddhism to unite around the Dalai Lama in that traditionally the Gelugpas had dominated Tibetan society for centuries. Those who resisted him were not opposed to the cause of Tibet, they simply didn’t believe that the political cause of Tibet was more important than the spiritual cause of centuries-old spiritual lineages. Further, Dorje Shugden practitioners are of the view that an even stronger unity can be achieved within the Tibetan community through what the Dalai Lama teaches so eloquently abroad, namely ‘Unity in Diversity’. Unfortunately, it seems the Dalai Lama does not feel these same principals apply to Tibetans. Instead, at home he practices ‘Unity of Absolute Conformity’, both politically and spiritually.
2. Dorje Shugden provides a convenient scapegoat for all the problems faced by Tibetans, thus deflecting blame away from the Tibetan government in exile.
The Tibetan community faces many challenges and many difficulties. Many promises have been made that have not been able to be fulfilled. The Chinese have grown in power exponentially during this same period. The Dalai Lama is correct to pursue a conciliatory approach with the Chinese in the hope of winning greater concessions from them, thus it is counter-productive to blame the Chinese for Tibetan problems. As governmental regimes around the world tend to do, a scapegoat needed to be found that could deflect blame away from the Tibetan government in exile for these challenges and failures. What better scapegoat than some unseen ‘evil spirit’? Given the superstitious nature of some quarters of Tibetan society, he can conveniently be blamed for all problems and difficulties. Since Dorje Shugden practitioners were resisting falling into line behind the Dalai Lama’s new presentation of Tibetan Buddhism (Ri-me), scapegoating Dorje Shugden practitioners killed two proverbial birds with one stone.
3. Persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners distracts attention away from painful concessions being made by the Dalai Lama in the negotiations with the Chinese.
Looking back over the last 40 years, one can see a pattern emerging where the Dalai Lama ratchets up his persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners exactly when he is required to make some of the most difficult concessions in his negotiations with the Chinese. Again, we see this political tactic being used by many regimes around the world – keep the domestic population distracted while concessions are being made at the international level. (It should be noted that we are not saying the concessions made by the Dalai Lama were misplaced, what we are highlighting here is the relationship between these politically necessary concessions and the persecution of Dorje Shugden practitioners).
To explain things simply: The Dalai Lama has two, sometimes contradictory, functions. On the one hand, he is a spiritual leader for many; on the other hand, he is the political head of state for Tibet. Prior to the Chinese invasion, the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism where able to function separately from one another, and mutual respect and tolerance existed between them. However, after the Chinese expelled the Tibetans it created a dilemma for the Dalai Lama. In order to advance the Tibetan cause against the Chinese, the Tibetan community would need to be united.
The Dalai Lama reasoned (we would say incorrectly) that the way to unite all the Tibetan people together would be to spiritually unite the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism together. Thus, the Dalai Lama himself became a practitioner of all four schools, and became a staunch advocate of the Ri-me (non-lineage) movement. He then tried to unite all Tibetans into this new presentation and form of Tibetan Buddhism.
Some practitioners, most notably the Dalai Lama’s own spiritual guide Trijang Rinpoche, were of the view that the spiritual cause of centuries old lineage was more important than the political cause of Tibet, and so as a result, they did not go along with the Dalai Lama’s new set of teachings. The common denominator of many of those who did not go along with the Dalai Lama’s new way of practicing was that they were Dorje Shugden practitioners. This presented a unique challenge to the Dalai Lama’s efforts, because in effect his ‘own tradition’ wasn’t in agreement with what he was doing, and so that presented a serious question on the legitimacy of his actions. Thus, the spiritual non-compliance with the Dalai Lama’s wishes became perceived by him as a political challenge to his authority.
It is for this reason that he came to view Dorje Shugden practitioners as a threat to the unity of Tibet – they would not recognize his spiritual authority to override centuries of lineage for the sake of political expediency. And since he considers himself to be intricately linked with the cause of Tibet, anything that is a threat to the cause of Tibet is by extension a threat to his life – thus he claims Dorje Shugden practitioners are a threat to his life. As politicians sometimes do, he then created a pretext for what was in fact a political move to marginalize any opposition to his consolidation of all power (political and spiritual) under his leadership. His pretext was that Dorje Shugden was an evil spirit. Therefore, those who relied upon him are not Buddhists. If they are not Buddhists, then they can no longer represent a challenge to his authority. Because in Tibet religion and politics are one, to disagree with the political dictates of the Dalai Lama is tantamount to disagreeing with the Dharma (the teachings of Buddha), which nobody can do, and so therefore there is no scope for dissent.
This is the core political reason behind all of the Dalai Lama’s actions. It is important to keep this in mind when interpreting his statements. When this political calculation is clear, then the real purpose behind the present campaign against Dorje Shugden practitioners can be seen for what it really is. We would like him to just consider that persecuting his own people as a scapegoat — causing them incredible sadness, fear and loneliness — is not going to win the old Tibet back, nor help the unity of the Tibetan people either now or in the future.” (14)
The suggestion that the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government in Exile were working towards a merging of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions is verified by a recent interview given by Samdhong Rinpoche, former Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Tibetan Government in Exile: ‘And 1959 December and 1960 January, in Bodh Gaya, the congregation of people generally agreed that henceforth all the three cholkas will remain united, like the goal of iron, nobody can destroy it. And they have written it to His Holiness, giving this pledge to His Holiness. And since then, a unity of the three cholkas, was explicitly asserted by the people. And not only cholka, we also need the unity of the religious traditions. Although the four traditions belong to Buddhism, and the pre-Buddhist tradition are not much different from Buddhism, they are quite similar. The five religious traditions should also be united as one, not only in the religious affairs, but also in the social and political affairs. Our unity must be expressed through the unity of the all religion traditions and the unity of the four cholkas. That was the basic idea.’ (66)
The spread of Shugden Scapegoat Propaganda
The methods of spreading the propaganda across the exile Tibetan community and internationally are:
1. Media control in the exile community (Gilded Cage Part 6, Media Control) allows the Dalai Lama and CTA to promote their own agenda across all media channels without fear of contradiction.
2. The Dalai Lama exploiting his position as spiritual leader by expounding anti-Shugden propaganda in his ‘teachings.’
As recently as March 2016 the Dalai Lama included in a teaching to ‘about 300 people gathered in the temple at Deer Park Buddhist Center in Hamilton County, Ohio, United States,’ the following accusation: ‘However, he said, there is also a text by Gyen Lobsang Gyatso, the founder director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, who was murdered by Shugden people.’ (61) This statement is a reference to the fact two Shugden practitioners were accused of his murder: ‘Indian police have accused Lobsang Chodak and Tenzin Chozin of stabbing Lobsang Gyatso, a close aide of the Dalai Lama and head of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, and two of his students on February 4, 1997, in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala.’ (62) The fact is that the case has never been brought to trial and therefore the identity of the murderers, Shugden practitioners or otherwise, has never been proven. The question is what right does the Dalai Lama have to make such a statement, in a public forum, without the identity and motives of the murderers being proven in a court of Law?
3. International media: due to the world-wide celebrity status of the Dalai Lama he is able to spread his anti-Shugden propaganda through the international media; who therefore become participants in his scapegoating campaign. Unfortunately Shugden Scapegoat propaganda can be picked up by journalists who fail to do their research properly, or are happy to make money out of poorly written articles. This is true of the recent article by Jamie Doward, working for a mainstream newspaper, The Observer, who clearly had not fully investigated all aspects of the controversy, presumably because being able to use the word ‘extremist’ provided sensationalist headlines that sells newspapers easily. A full refutation of this article can be read below. (31)
4. The scapegoat propaganda is clearly displayed on the CTA’S official website and on the websites of the Tibet House network. Some of the earlier propaganda on official CTA websites show clear evidence of using propaganda techniques, see analysis of the Tibet House article below.
Most recently, due to a great deal of media interest in the Shugden controversy, the CTA have tried to downplay the discrimination against Shugden practitioners by using words such as ‘advice’ and ‘choice,’ whilst at the same time reinforcing the discrimination with ‘explanations’ against Shugden practice that include words like, ‘sectarianism’ and ‘divisiveness.’ (41) They also try to justify the discrimination by suggesting the Dalai Lama is following the example of his ‘distinguished predecessors.’ In reality the predecessors identified, the Fifth and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama were extremely brutal men, engaged in many acts of violence towards others. (42) Following this line of thinking really only confirms that the present Dalai Lama is acting in a fascist manner towards a minority, as the example he is following, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, was once described as ‘an absolute dictator; more so as regards his own country than Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini in theirs.’
5. Biased propaganda from international charities who use their platform to promote the Shugden propaganda; for example articles and tweets published by the International Campaign for Tibet.
6. Biased ‘scholarly’ articles, presented by Dalai Lama supporters in the West, presenting as well researched academic articles, carrying anti-Shugden Propaganda. See analysis of Robert Thurman’s propaganda techniques below.
6. The anti-Shugden propaganda is carried across all social media channels by Dalai Lama followers, Westerners and Tibetan
Common Shugden Scapegoat Strategies
1.Threat to Tibetan Freedom
The CTA exploits the strong emotions associated with the Free Tibet Campaign, the ‘Tibetan people’s ongoing peaceful struggle for a genuinely autonomous Tibetan region,’ to direct anger and hatred towards Shugden practitioners,’
a. Kashag Statement, 31 May 1996 ‘The essence of His Holiness’ advice is this: “Propitiating Dolgyal does great harm to the cause of Tibet. It also imperils the life of the Dalai Lama. Therefore, it is totally inappropriate for the great monasteries of the Gelug tradition, the Upper and Lower Tantric Monasteries and all other affiliated monasteries which are national institutions ever to propitiate Dolgyal.’ (15)
b. The CTA states, seemingly as facts, that Dorje Shugden, and those that regard him as their Dharma protector, are a direct threat to the campaign for Tibetan independence and the life of the Dalai Lama. They state that Tibetans have not been able to ‘achieve the ultimate triumph,’ i.e. Tibetan independence, because of ‘obstructive factors of various kinds…form and formless.’ The statement goes on to say that the Dalai Lama has investigated these obstructive forces and found that it is the spirit of Dorje Shugden that harms ‘the cause of Tibet.’ He is quoted as saying, “Recently I have conducted a number of prayers for the well being of our nation and religion. It has become fairly clear that Dolgyal is a spirit of the dark forces.’ In their unsubstantiated view those that propitiate Dorje Shugden are choosing to undermine the Tibetan fight for independence and this practice is, ‘one of the greatest dangers to the cause of Tibet.’ (15)
c. Robert Thurman, Huffington Post: ‘The final aim is to disrupt the Dalai Lama’s fifty-year-long nonviolent “truth and justice” campaign, to free the six million Tibetan people to be themselves in the special autonomous minority region offered them by the Chinese constitution, so far only on paper.’ (16)
d. International Campaign For Tibet: “The protesters are from an extremist religious group that is aligned with the political agenda of the Chinese government in Tibet to undermine the Dalai Lama and enforce allegiance to the Chinese Communist party,” said Kate Saunders, the communications director or the International Campaign for Tibet. “This systematic campaign against the Dalai Lama and deepening oppression threatens the very survival of Tibetan religion and cultural identity.” (45)
2. Chinese Spies
These outrageous claims are further backed up by statements to the Press and on the internet, that Shugden practitioners world-wide are being paid by the Chinese Government, to actively undermine the Tibetan cause; these are claims that lack any evidence or substance. For the Tibetans the Chinese are the aggressive enemy that invaded their homeland and tortured, imprisoned and killed many Tibetan people. By accusing Shugden practitioners of working with the Chinese the Dalai Lama and CTA are cynically using this emotive subject to scapegoat Shugden practitioners. They are deliberately setting up members of their own Tibetan community as targets for hatred and abuse, for other Tibetans, causing a divide in the community that may never be healed. As these false accusations of Chinese collusion are spread world-wide, through official statements and the international media, duped by the myth of the Dalai Lama, many Westerners also turn against Shugden practitioners.
a. Robert Thurman, Huffington Post: ‘The cult continued its campaign at the behest of, and with substantial funding from, the United Front department of the People’s Republic of China, the agency handling relations with non-Chinese “minority nationalities.” The futile effort of the cult backed by the agency seeks to alienate Tibetans from the Dalai Lama, their beloved leader and even to turn world public opinion against the acclaimed Nobel Laureate and Gandhi heir. (16)
b. Samdhong Rinpoche, speech about Shugden practice at Suja TCV School: ‘Among the questions asked before, there was one that says that the PRC is extending support to the Dholgyal worshippers, in all nations, by all the three means of manpower, finance, and technology….. Majority of the people coming to the demonstrations are paid a daily wage for their participation… currently we are going through a phase of period when the Dalai Lama-led Tibetans and the PRC look at each other as adversaries. So the present support for the Dholgyal groups from the PRC is a reflection of that phase of relation.’ (17)
c. Reuters Article
The allegations of Chinese funding were the subject of a recent article published by Reuters, ‘China co-opts a Buddhist sect in global effort to smear Dalai Lama.’ (48) The article rehashes various vague and unsubstantiated accusations made against Shugden practitioners, over several years, by staunch Dalai Lama supporters. The article makes tenuous links between Tibet, China, international demonstrations and ‘security’ concerns for the Dalai Lama’s safety; using as its sources so called ‘experts’ on Tibet, Indian officials and a Tibetan ‘Lama.’ What is clearly lacking in the article is substantiated facts and evidence.
The validity of the Reuter’s article was called into question by a highly reputable political analyst and journalist Andrew Korybko; ‘It’s all misinformation.’
5. Allegations of public disorder and crime:
Many articles and comments about Shugden practitioners refer to them in terms of dangerous criminals, even murderers. Allegations are made in official statements posted on the CTA’s own website, that refer to acts of violence by Shugden practitioners, that are not substantiated by any evidence, or legal proof. Much of what is said is based on the murder of Geshe Lobsang Gyatso February 4, 1997, the principal of the Buddhist School of Dialectics, in Dharmasala, along with two of his students. Although there were some links made between the murders and Shugden practitioners at the time, evidence was insubstantial and not upheld by the police or any court of law. Despite the fact these libellous allegations are based on rumour and conjecture only, the murders are referred to time and again as evidence of Shugden practitioner’s violence.
a. Official Kashag Statement 1996: ‘Following His Holiness’s advice on Dolgyal during the spring teaching, the Dolgyal followers established Dorjee Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society in Delhi and subsequently harassed and threatened violence against many individuals, monasteries, organizations and Tibetan settlements.’ (15)
b. Samdhong Rinpoche, speech about Shugden practice at Suja TCV School: ‘Take, for example, the Dholgyal worshippers. At this present time, they are the biggest cause for public and administrative unease. In terms of contravening morality, the Dholgyal followers have terrorized, murdered, beaten, and tortured people and continue to do so. If one looks at these acts, they have contravened morality.’ (16)
c. ‘Members of the Shugden cult have been responsible for a campaign of fear and intimidation involving horrific attacks on Tibetans in India. These include the violent murder of Lobsang Gyatso, the elderly abbot of the Tibetan Buddhist School of Dialectics and two of his students in Dharamsala on February, 4, 1997.’ (21)
d. Robert Thurman, Huffington Post: ‘Pseudo- monks who infiltrated to Dharamsala from China murdered the Venerable Lobsang Gyatso, a noted lama close to the Dalai Lama, and his two young disciples, the cult of the Dolgyal-Shugden spirit has been on the attack.’ (16)
6. Threat to Dalai Lama’s Health
In a scapegoat tactic also used against Tibetan Independence supporters, (18) the Kashag Statement states that Shugden practice directly harms the health of the Dalai Lama, to the point of potentially causing his death. Again there is no evidence or substance to these claims; although there is a bizarre quote from one of the Dalai Lama’s previous statements that is tantamount to a suicide threat, should Shugden practitioners choose to continue their practice: ‘“You should not think that dangers to my life come only from someone armed with a knife, a gun, or a bomb. Such an event is extremely unlikely. But dangers to my life may arise if my advice is constantly spurned, causing me to feel discouraged and to see no further purpose in living.’ This theme is also exploited in this paragraph of the Statement: ‘However, some people have continued to propitiate Dolgyal, either because they failed to appreciate the threat it poses to the Tibetan cause or because they have decided to disregard it. This has impaired the sacred relationship between the people of Tibet and their protector-deities. Today, this is one of the greatest dangers to the cause of Tibet and the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.'(12)
7. Spirit of the Dark Forces
The Dalai Lama, CTA and his followers deliberately portray Dorje Shugden as a malicious, evil and even violent spirit and Shugden practitoners as ‘spirit worshippers.’ This is despite the fact that Dharma protectors, with the same qualities as Dorje Shugden, are common in Tibetan Buddhism. The Dalai Lama himself was a Shugden practitioner for many years, until it became necessary for political gain for him to turn his back of the teachings of his spiritual guide. Quotes from old Tibetan scriptures are deliberately taken out of context and used to illustrate that Dorje Shugden is violent but so are his followers; even though the entire Buddhist community know that these scriptures do not apply to the modern day teachings and beliefs of the worldwide, peaceful Shugden community. There is also, frequent, untrue suggestions that Shugden Practitioners worship Dorje Shugden as some sort of God-like figure, even more important than Buddha. This is not the case and such allegations are made only to try and create fear in the people’s minds towards Shugden practitioners.
a. The Dalai Lama deliberately twists the role of Dorje Shugden as a Dharma protector, into the practice being a form of spirit worship, when he says; ‘It has become fairly clear that Dolgyal is a spirit of the dark forces.’ (15)
b. ‘Advice’ on CTA Website: ‘The problem with Dolgyal practice is that it presents the spirit Dolgyal (Shugden) as a Dharma protector and what’s more tends to promote the spirit as more important than the Buddha himself. If this trend goes unchecked, and innocent people become seduced by cult-like practices of this kind, the danger is that the rich tradition of Tibetan Buddhism may degenerate into the mere propitiation of spirits.’ (19)
c. Georges Dreyfus, The Shugden Affair: ‘Now [I] exhort to violent actions Shuk-den, who is the main war-god of Dzong-ka-ba’s tradition and its holders, the angry spirit, the Slayer of Yama (i.e., Yamantaka or Manjushri in his wrathful form)….In particular it is time [for you] to free (i.e., kill) in one moment the enemies of Dzong-ka-ba’s tradition. Protector, set up [your] violent actions without [letting] your previous commitments dissipate. Quickly engage in violent actions without relaxing your loving promises. Quickly accomplish [these] requests and entrusted actions without leaving them aside (or without acting impartially). Quickly accomplish [these] actions [that I] entrust [to you], for I do not have any other source of hope. This passage clearly presents the goal of the propitiation of Shuk-den as the protection of the Ge-luk tradition through violent means, even including the killing of its enemies. We should wonder, however, what this passage means? Is it to be taken literally? And who are these enemies?’ On the surface the quote is shocking but it is taken out of context and deliberately used to promote an image of a violent spirit but in Dreyfus’s own words, ‘A short answer is that in certain ways the statements of this ritual text are not very different from the ones found in similar texts devoted to other mundane protectors. By itself, this text does not prove very much.’ (20)
8. Allegation of sectarianism and Cult
Articles and statements made by the CTA, Dalai Lama and his followers use Western society’s fear of sectarianism and cult to further scapegoat Shugden practitioners.
The truth is simply that this particular school of Tibetan Buddhism is not sectarian, it just follows a particular Buddhist path that does not, traditionally, have the Dalai Lama as its spiritual leader. Traditionally the spiritual leader of the Gelugpa tradition is the Ganden Tripa and Shugden practitioners see no reason why this should no longer be the case, just because it suits the Dalai Lama’s political aims to amalgamate all Tibetan Buddhist schools.
a. Robert Thurman, Huffington Post: ‘The members of the cult do not come from numerous Tibetan sects, but exclusively from the super-orthodox fundamentalists of the majority Gelukpa sect or order.’ (16)
b. American Buddhist Perspective Blog, ‘The Shugden Cult, Dalai Lama protests, Race and Genocide.’ (22)
c. Barbara O’Brien, About Buddhism Website: ‘Shugden worship is bad for Tibet. Among other things, it is alleged that the Shugden cult, which goes about protesting the Dalai Lama wherever he speaks publicly, is being supported by the government of China.’ (23)
In conclusion then the Dalai Lama and the CTA show clear evidence of the strategic use of scapegoating tactics with regard to their treatment of the Shugden community as a whole. ‘In identifying “goodness” and “superiority” with “us,” (CTA/Dalai Lama) there was a tendency to identify “evil” with “them.” (Shugden practitioners worldwide). This process involves scapegoating and dehumanization. It was then an easy step to blame all societal problems on “them,” and presuppose a conspiracy of these evildoers which had emasculated and humiliated the idealized core group of the nation. To solve society’s problems one need only unmask the conspirators and eliminate them.’ The exile community are understandably frustrated at the lack of progress, with a growing sense of disempowerment they will search for some way of feeling more in control. The CTA under the Dalai Lama are deflecting this frustration on to the Shugden community to ‘by focusing their animus on a clearly defined enemy,’ (16) in this case the Shugden practitioners. Future articles will indicate that there are high levels of corruption and cronyism in the exile Tibetan community’s system of governance, while people are busy attacking and criticising the common enemy of the Shugden scapegoat they are not investigating the faults of their leaders.
The Dalai Lama and CTA should heed the following warning, and perhaps now is the time for the exile Tibetan community to turn their attention from the falsely described faults of the Dorje Shugden community towards the corruption and failings of their leaders: ‘Scapegoating can be a self-destructive process, as it is basically a process of alienation; it is the way a dying society disguise its septic lunacy into the sickening madness of stigmatized individuals or minorities. It is a process that gives a surge of self-satisfaction and self-fulfillment – intense but ephemeral as it leaves real problems unsolved or worsened.’ (17)
In depth Analysis of Propaganda Strategies
The following are detailed analysis of articles written by Dalai Lama followers and members of the exile Tibetan government with the sole intention of creating an international Shugden scapegoat.
1. Samdhong Rinpoche’s Shugden Scapegoat Propaganda Techniques
On 26 July 2014, the former Kalon Tripa in the exile Tibetan community, Samdhong Rinpoche, made a speech about Shugden practice at Suja TCV School. (18) This speech was in response to the Tibetan students’ unexpected questioning of the CTA’s Prime Minister, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, concerning the discrimination against Shugden practitioners in the exile community. As Samdhong’s speech is directed to a Tibetan audience the scapegoating methods he uses mirror the methods used in the Kashag Statements; including the use of the insulting term ‘Dhogyal’; there is also passing reference to the Shugden scapegoating technique used for Western audiences.
It is important to note at this point that this article uses references the English translation of Samdhong’s speech provided by one of the Dalai Lama’s ardent followers, Tenzin Peljor; this is to ensure there can be no allegations made that the speech has been interpreted in a biased way, to the benefit of Shugden practitioners. (2)
Shugden Scapegoat Methods used by Samdhong
Allegations of public disorder and crime: When explaining why, in his opinion, Shugden practitioners may not be entitled to Religious Freedom in the exile community, Samdhong states: ‘Take, for example, the Dholgyal worshippers. At this present time, they are the biggest cause for public and administrative unease. In terms of contravening morality, the Dholgyal followers have terrorized, murdered, beaten, and tortured people and continue to do so. If one looks at these acts, they have contravened morality.’ These allegations are completely without factual basis and no proof is provided, instead Samdhong appears to be relying on a Tibetan strategy he refers to later in his speech, ‘If you tell a lie big enough as a mountain, you may get truth the size of a yak,’ the Tibetan way of saying ‘mud sticks.’
Working for the Chinese: Samdhong states, as fact, that Shugden practitioners in the exile community and abroad are paid by the Chinese, despite the fact this is a completely baseless allegation: ‘Among the questions asked before, there was one that says that the PRC is extending support to the Dholgyal worshippers, in all nations, by all the three means of manpower, finance, and technology….. Majority of the people coming to the demonstrations are paid a daily wage for their participation… currently we are going through a phase of period when the Dalai Lama-led Tibetans and the PRC look at each other as adversaries. So the present support for the Dholgyal groups from the PRC is a reflection of that phase of relation.’
Disparaging the Shugden Practitioners’ Faith: Samdhong states that Tibetans only follow Dorje Shugden practice because they are paid by the Chinese to do so. He asserts that when Tibet is given autonomy there will no longer be the opportunity for the Shugden practitioners to be paid by the Chinese, at which point they will give up their practice. ‘From among the worshippers, too, the majority of them make the outward show of a Dholgyal worshipper solely for the sake of protecting their livelihood, work, position, etc. There is a very little number of those who carry out the worship from the depth of their hearts….However, in the future, if His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the PRC reached some agreement and the day arrives for the Tibetan issue becoming resolved, then the support of the PRC to the Dholgyal groups would not be forthcoming, nor would it be deemed necessary. There would be no purpose to gain from such a support then. On that day, it would be easily clear how many of them worship from the depth of their hearts.’ Buddhists take great pride in the depth of their Faith and loyalty to a particular tradition, such allegation of fickleness, and having Faith based on material gain, are deliberately insulting to the Shugden practitioners.
Minimising the size of the Shugden community: In order to trivialise the Shugden practitioner community further Samdhong deliberately minimises the number of practitioners: ‘In Tibet, too, the number of people worshipping Dholgyal is dropping on a daily basis. When they claim that they have some 4 million followers, this is an utter exaggeration. Let alone 4 million, there may be hardly one hundred thousand of them in actuality, I think.’ Samdhong’s words directly contradict the statement from Thupten Wangchen, one of the members of the 15th Tibetan Parliament in Exile 2011-2016; ‘approximately 30% of all Tibetans used to practice this protector Deity. They made prayers and requests to Dorje Shugden as part of their normal daily Buddhist rituals.’
Western Shugden Scapegoating Strategy: A full explanation of the Shugden scapegoat strategies used for the Western audience is given on arebuddhistsracist.com ‘The CTA strategy was to use academics to lend credence to their claims that the protests were organised by the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and to try and paint them as a rogue Buddhist cult.(25) Samdhong refers to Robert Thurman’s article on the ‘cult’ of Dorje Shugden, ‘If one reads Prof. Bob Thurman’s articles, one would see very clearly how the New Kadampa is either a Cult already.’ He goes on to say; ‘In particular, if we look at their ways and activities from the perspectives of the western world, it would be hard for them to defend their status as a religious group. Rather, theirs could be considered a Cult. The centers of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso operating in England had been, on several occasions, suspected to be leaning towards such an organization by the British Government.’ Again these are baseless allegations; further explanation is given on arebuddhistracist.com as to how British government organisations have been manipulated by people acting on behalf of the Dalai Lama and the CTA. (26)
Harbingers of Disease: Samdhong makes use of a very disturbing scapegoat strategy to justify people ostracising Shugden practitioners within their own community, when he brings in the analogy of disease. ‘For instance, in the schools, if the rest of the students were to bully and despise a student who worships Dholgyal, then that is unacceptable. On the other hand, if the other students choose to distance themselves from that student, then, I think, there is nothing wrong with that. There is no reason for anyone to be physically close to each other. Just as one would distance oneself from someone with contagious disease.’ Linking groups of people with disease is a scapegoating technique that plays upon people’s fears and has been used throughout history: ‘The attempt by some GOP politicians to tie the ebola outbreak to immigration issues is nothing new in American or European history. Immigrants have often been despised, feared and stigmatized by the native-born as harbingers of disease or even death. Conflating disease carriers with foreigners and social outcasts is a practice that stretches back to the Black Death when helpless Church Officials – fearing loss of public confidence – blamed Jews, immigrants and witches for the plague… Calling this syndrome “medical nativism,” historian Alan M. Kraut wrote in his book, Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the Immigrant Menace by “Existing ethnic prejudices and public hysteria in the face of disease often created a wholly false linkage between illness and specific immigrant groups.”’ (27)
Beneath contempt: Speaking about a group of people as though they are beneath contempt is another disturbing use of a scapegoat strategy. It is commonly used by Fascist states to encourage the ostracism and persecution of groups of people, such as the Jews in Fascist Italy: ‘‘immediately the Jews — who were living in relative peace ever since the unification of Italy in 1871 — were treated with contempt by the State’ This technique was so effective in establishing Romani gipsies as beneath contempt in Nazi Germany that genocide took place; ‘ In Nazi racist ideology such people were beneath contempt and considered to be worth less than Jews, so they did not see a need to record their incarceration or death.’ (28)This strategy can be observed in this paragraph of Samdhong’s speech; ‘If the few Dholgyal followers insist on their current stand, saying they do not intend to change from their present behavior and that they do not intend to accept reason and truth, then that is a case of foolish stubbornness. There is hardly any way to respond to that. Such things are better off to be left unattended. By leaving them unattended, even if some of them breakaway from the mainstream society, it is more beneficial both to the Tibetan cause and our ultimate situation. If they continue to stick around, it is not going to be any more beneficial. Not just that, if they continue to stick around, as a result of that there is going to be great harm both in the short term and long term as well as in the ultimate. This is very clearly evident. I can say this without mincing any words.’
2. Tibet House
The following article recently appeared on Tibet House Korea website, it has been translated into English here:
Edward Filene helped establish the Institute of Propaganda Analysis (29) in 1937 to educate the American public about the nature of propaganda and how to recognize propaganda techniques. Filene and his colleagues identified the seven most common ‘tricks of the trade’ used by successful propagandists. Using Filene’s categories it is possible to break down the Tibet House article very easily to reveal the manipulative mind games of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA, formerly the Tibetan Government in Exile).
1. Name Calling: abusive or insulting language referring to a person or group: Examples of name calling can be found almost immediately in the article, for example: ‘Shugden is harmful,’ ‘Shugden is bad energy,’ ‘Shugden is an evil spirit,’ ‘illegitimate child of Tibetan Buddhism.’ The name calling may seem childlike in its use of language but it should be remembered that these words are designed to tap into centuries of fear and superstition – that evil forces or spirits may cause serious harm and that unfortunate occurrences or any “bad luck” can be explained through such invisible forces. Superstition and irrational fears are clearly being deliberately stirred up for the purpose of justifying a politically motivated ban and the systematic persecution of Shugden Buddhists.
2. Card Stacking: make the best case possible for his side and the worst for the opposing viewpoint by carefully using only those facts that support his or her side of the argument while attempting to lead the audience into accepting the facts as a conclusion.The most obvious illustration of card stacking in the article is at the end when the writer is trying to suggest there is no ban. He stacks the cards to suggest there is religious freedom by saying Shugden people:
- have their own temples
- live with other Tibetans
- have registration cards
- can have a passport
The article does not of course refer to these facts:
- Shugden Buddhist have been forced to establish their own temples due to the ban
- many families have disowned their Shugden Buddhist members
- in order to receive registration (identity) cards or travel documents Shugden Buddhists need to lie about their faith
- there are signs banning entry to shops, monasteries and clinics
- lack of training and employment for Shugden practitioners
- being shunned, spat on and physically attacked
- being threatened, photographed and listed on official websites
- being referred to as a “cancer” or having a “contagious disease” by official representatives of the Dalai Lama
3. Band Wagon: persuade the audience to follow the crowd. This device creates the impression of widespread support. It reinforces the human desire to be on the winning side. This tactic is the first used in the article with the statement that Shugden is not ‘traditional Tibetan Buddhism’ and ‘does not belong to any of the four schools.’ This places Shugden Practitioners firmly outside of Tibetan tradition as a whole, Tibetan Buddhism as a whole and all four schools of Buddhism specifically.
4. Testimonial: associate a respected person or someone with experience to endorse a product or cause by giving it their stamp of approval hoping that the intended audience will follow their example. Here the propagandist inverts this trick by associating a respected person with disapproval of Shugden:
- Buddha Shakyamuni did not endorse Shugden as a special protector otherwise ‘he would have predicted his coming.’
- The 5th Dalai Lama, who is greatly respected, saw Dorje Shugden as ‘an evil spirit.’
- The 14th Dalai Lama ‘found evidence that Dorje Shugden was a very serious issue.’
5. Plain Folk: convince the audience that the spokesperson is from humble origins, someone they can trust and who has their interests at heart. The writer uses the phrase, ‘as I personally know.’’ to convince the reader this is written from his own experience and is therefore more personal and convincing. He also says the Dalai Lama feels he has a ‘responsibility to take care of Tibetans’’- thereby evoking the feeling that the Dalai Lama is someone who has their interests at heart. The argument that because someone has the interests of the “ordinary folk” at heart then it’s ok to demonise, ostracise and persecute other people is used over and over again by the Dalai Lama, The CTA and many of their supporters. It also engenders an atmosphere of fear, suspicion and the reality that given the “right” information the general populace will do the “dirty work” of those who hold power.
6. Transfer: carry over the authority and approval of something we respect and revere to something the propagandist would have us accept. Propagandists often employ symbols (e.g., waving the flag) to stir our emotions and win our approval. The writer continually refers to the Dalai Lama as this is someone that people have been taught to respect and revere over many generations:
- “This problem dates back to the time of the 5th Dalai Lama”
- ‘On June 13th 1997 the Dalai Lama officially announced’
- ‘Recently across America and Asia Dorje Shugden people disrespect the Dalai Lama.’
- ‘Dalai Lama says that you have a religious freedom to worship Shudgen but I am sure that you will get the consequence of this before you die.’
The whole campaign against the Shugden Buddhist seems to hinge on what the Dalai Lama’s opinion is. As the most powerful symbol of Tibetan identity many will just blindly follow his advice – however unfair it may be,
7. Glittery Generality: vague, sweeping statements (often slogans or simple catchphrases) using language associated with values and beliefs deeply held by the audience without providing supporting information or reason. They appeal to such notions as honour, glory, love of country, desire for peace, freedom, and family values.
The writer makes repeated use of this trick by associating Dorje Shugden with the Chinese invasion of Tibet and loss of Tibetan independence.
- ‘When the Chinese invaded Tibet the oracle of Dorje Shugden was in the army and said “If you go this way, we will be safe” But they were killed.’
- ‘Dorje Shugden walked between the Chinese army and him and changed into a young man and took the Chinese army into the Temple, to the debating yard and where the monks studied Dharma and then the Temple was
attacked and destroyed.’
These references bring in to play, against Shugden practitioners, the deep seated sense of nationalistic pride and the emotions connected with the trauma and loss caused by the invasion. They also reinforce superstitious programming and again there’s no evidence to back the claims up.
The use of all 7 of these propaganda strategies clearly illustrate that this article is indeed propaganda, which is by dictionary definition:
“Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view”.
This propaganda has been printed on an official Tibetan website, with the sole intention of further increasing the divide between Shugden practitioners and their fellow Tibetans and to perpetuate the discrimination towards Shugden practitioners all over the world. Given the obvious unwillingness of the CTA and Dalai Lama to restore harmony to the Tibetan Community, is now the time for others to demand it in increasing numbers.
3. Robert Thurman
These same 7 propaganda tricks can be seen at work in in Robert Thurman’s article, “Concerning The Current Wave of Protest Demonstrations Against His Holiness the Dalai Lama”, which was posted on Huffington Post and on the Tibet House US website. Analysis shows Thurman is using his position to manipulate and mislead his audience to increase discrimination worldwide against all Shugden practitioners.
1. Name Calling: abusive or insulting language referring to a person or group. Thurman does not use overt name-calling; he is directing this article at the mostly middle-class, liberal, intellectual elite of Dalai Lama followers in the West, who would find the open use of insults distasteful. He achieves the same end though, with the use of indirect, inferred insults: “seemingly-media savvy”, “extremist attitude”, “new, would-be Buddhists” – clearly trying to discredit those that disagree with him through opinion rather than fact. The most important insult, perhaps, is his use of the word “cult” used when referring to the New Kadampa Tradition (a legitimate Buddhist charity). For example, when referring to former members of the Buddhist organisation he uses the sentence “a group of ex-cult members”, because “cult” is a word that evokes strong fears in many individuals in the West and in this context is derogatory. He also refers to Dorje Shugden as a “hostile spirit”, “fierce” and “malevolent.” He also uses quotations marks around “deity” to imply his personal rejection of these ideas and presumably to encourage others to do the same.
2. Card Stacking: using one’s own “facts” whilst ignoring or discrediting any information from the “enemy”. Thurman’s use of card stacking is notably similar to that used in the propaganda article published on the Korean Tibet House website: “Shugden worshippers have religious freedom because nobody has banned them from worshipping, they have support from the Chinese Government, their own monasteries and meditation centres, support networks, clinics etc”. Like the Korean Tibet House article he also does not refer to the evidence that clearly shows the extent of the Shugden ban: signs barring entry outside shops and clinics, people barred from employment, separate monasteries and so forth. Similarly Thurman card stacks when defending the Dalai Lama’s reputation: assertions that he has already retired from public office, that no future Dalai Lama will assume political responsibilities, that he wants abbots and sages to decide for themselves on Shugden. Again there are no cards of opposing evidence that the Dalai Lama deliberately manipulates his followers, using lies about Shugden practice and hiding his agenda for control over the exiled Tibetan community.
3. Bandwagon: persuading the audience to follow the crowd. This device creates the impression of widespread support. It reinforces the human desire to be on the winning side. Thurman makes frequent use of this propaganda trick, deliberately minimising the numbers of Shugden practitioners, to make them seem like the insignificant, unpopular minority; “the small group”, “their actually very small numbers of individuals”, “small handful of Shugden Lamas”, “smaller Shugden monasteries.” Their small numbers are then contrasted with the “vast majority of the six million Tibetans who love their precious Dalai Lama.” He does not of course include the large numbers of Shugden practitioners in Tibet and in the West. He is deliberately creating the impression Shugden practice is not supported by many.
4. Testimonial: associating a respected person, or someone with experience, to endorse a product or cause by giving it their stamp of approval, hoping that the intended audience will follow their example. As in the Korean Tibet House article, the Dalai Lama is used as the “respected person” whose lack of approval of the Shugden practice suggests the audience should also reject the practice. “The most important world teacher in this era, His Holiness the Dalai Lama” does not approve of Shugden; using words like “important”, “world”, “teacher”, “era” and “Holiness”, in one sentence, builds up the Dalai Lama’s importance in the reader’s mind so he will be persuaded to accept his opinion as correct. Thurman uses the highly respected Amnesty International, and the weight of the judicial system in High Court of Delhi, saying they “rejected” claims by Shugden Practitioners that they were being deprived of human rights. Actually they said there was insufficient evidence at that time, which is not surprising in a climate where anyone speaking out against the Dalai Lama would be shunned and possibly suffer physical harm. Amnesty International were also unable to comment on issues which don’t fall within their narrow remit of torture and imprisonment. Thurman also uses the Tibetan people, who are held in high regard by the West for standing up to communist China, to endorse the Dalai Lama: “the vast majority of the six million Tibetans love their precious Dalai Lama”.
5. Plain folk: convincing the audience that the spokesperson is from humble origins, someone they can trust and who has their interests at heart. Thurman talks about the relationship between the Tibetan people and the Dalai Lama in terms of the Tibetans being “under his protection.” This is remarkably similar to the sentiment in the Korean Tibet House article that the Dalai Lama has a “responsibility to take care of Tibetans”. Thus by suggesting that the Dalai Lama is the protector of the Tibetans, this implies that Shugden practitioners, who Thurman suggests are the aggressor who “attacks him and treats him as an enemy”, are also attacking the Tibetan people’s protector.
6. Transfer: carrying over the authority and approval of something we respect and revere, to something the propagandist would have us accept. Propagandists often employ symbols (e.g. waving the flag) to stir our emotions and win our approval. Here Thurman also inverts this trick by carrying over the strong negative feelings people have towards Communist China, as a result of their invasion and dominance of Tibet, to Shugden practitioners who he would have us reject. Americans in particular in the West have a deep seated fear and dislike of Communism and any group that appears to support them. Communism arouses strong patriotic and nationalistic feelings in many Americans, so transferring these strong feelings against Shugden practitioners is a strong propaganda tool. Here Thurman again does not make the direct accusation that Shugden practitioners are linked with Communist China directly; he implies it with the use of the words “there is no documentary proof of a direct link between the NKT front groups ISC or WSS and the Communist United Front.” In other words he is suggesting there is a link, just no documents to prove it. His “proof” is the allegation that Shugden practitioners and China carry the same anti-Dalai Lama message. “The Chinese propaganda…has had exactly the same aim as that of the protestors.” This is of course completely untrue as Shugden Practitioners have only been protesting for the religious freedom of Shugden protesters – they have no other political agenda. Associating the two groups together in this way, despite the lack of any evidence of a link existing, is a clear use of a propaganda tool to encourage further discrimination against protestors.
7. Glittery Generality: vague, sweeping statements (often slogans or simple catchphrases) using language associated with values and beliefs deeply held by the audience, without providing supporting information or reason. They appeal to such notions as honor, glory, love of country, desire for peace, freedom, and family values. To understand the use of the tool it is important to remember who Thurman’s intended audience is, the mostly middle-class, liberal, intellectual elite of America. So Thurman uses the language associated with values and beliefs that this group aspire to; “higher training of ethics, meditation and critical wisdom, and so being taught to find calm and insight in their own hearts and minds”. He says NKT Buddhists are not trained in these values, thereby disassociating them from all of these higher intellectual practices, revered by the intellectual elite – without presenting any supporting evidence for this being the case. Such transparent use of all 7 of the propaganda tricks clearly indicates that Thurman is setting out to manipulate and mislead Western society. His article contains very few facts and a great deal of implied falsehood. In fact this article and the one displayed on Tibet House Korea are so similar in content that one could almost feel they have been written by the same person; both articles just adapted to better manipulate the fears and ingrained values of the Eastern or Western audience.
- i) ‘The Tibetan Government in Exile’ Stephanie Roemer
- ii) https://gildedcagearticles.com/fraudulent-elections/