“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief, “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief …”Bob Dylan, All Along The Watchtower
Why wouldn’t anyone … have compassion for those stumbling with their eyes of wisdom closed and joyously persevere so as to clear away such confusion?Āryaśūra Pāramitā-samāsa
This website addresses complex issues related to Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama as well as Buddhism in general.
The articles included here provide information, detailed scholarship, analyses and opinions on these issues.
With that, we hope to counter the overblown caricatures or simplistic and often ideologically tainted portrayals of these issues, circulating on the internet or elsewhere in the name of enlightening us.
Since the vast majority of academic writing that uses Sanskrit is conducted in transliteration, we use another typeface (FF Fago) for those articles because it is capable of handling the characters necessary for transliterated Sanskrit.
Tenzin Peljor is responsible for producing this web site.
Buddhism in the West
Buddhism in the West
Jay Garfield examines what happens when Buddhism and the transmission of Buddhism moves into the West and how Buddhist practice and Buddhist ideas themselves develop, evolve or transform through interaction with Western culture.
The Ever-Changing Forms of Buddhism
James Blumenthal sees a great advantage in Buddhism’s current situation, where lineages from various countries and traditions are coming into contact with one another and influencing one another in profound and subtle ways.
The Three Turnings of The Wheel of Dharma – Why They Are Each Essential To All of Us
Jay Garfield calls on Mahayana practitioners to read and study the suttas and commentaries from the Pali tradition and explains why this is important. He suggests a different way of thinking about the relationship between the three turnings of the wheel in terms of three different subject matters.
Thinking through Texts: Toward a Critical Buddhist Theology of Sexuality
José Ignacio Cabezón recommends thinking through Buddhist texts when examining sexual ethics in Buddhism. A critical appraisal of the doctrine also involves understanding the context in which these ideas were elaborated.
Mindfulness has become an essential part of Western psychology and marries even with capitalism … however, there are different views as to what it actually is
Georges Dreyfus examines the definition and use of the term ‘mindfulness’ in Western and traditional Buddhist context:
Is Mindfulness Present-Centered and Nonjudgmental? – A Discussion of the Cognitive Dimensions of Mindfulness
Jay Garfield shows how mindfulness is essential not only for the development of insight, but also for the cultivation and maintenance of ethical discipline in
Mindfulness and Ethics: Attention, Virtue and Perfection
The Benefits of the Secular
In Defense of the Secular
Jay Garfield focuses in this essay on the benefits of the secular and why the secular is the best protection that a minority tradition like Buddhism could ever have.
The Root of Mahayana Buddhism
James Blumenthal introduces the most important Mahayana Buddhist masters:
The Seventeen Pandits of Nalanda Monastery
- The Scientific Buddha by Donald Lopez
- The Bodhisattva Ideal In Theravada by Jeffrey Samuels
- Bodhisattva Ideal in Buddhism by Ven. W. Rahula
What is Tibetan Buddhism all about?
Buddhist Meditation Traditions in Tibet: The Union of Three Vehicles by Georgios T. Halkias
How is education & life in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery?
Tibetan Monastic Colleges: Rationality Versus the Demands of Allegiance by Jeffrey Hopkins
What about violence in Tibetan Buddhism?
“Orientalism” and Aspects of Violence in the Tibetan Tradition Elliot Sperling
Is it justifiable to kill a tyrant out of compassion?
Khunu Lama: The life of an Indian saint
The need to enable full ordination for women
Full Ordination of Women – Interview with the XIV. Dalai Lama by Michaela Doepke
Teacher Student Relationship
- Buddha about Intimate Friends – Mitra-vargha (Tibetan Dhammapada)
- Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship: The Responsibilities of Teachers and Students by H.H. the XIV. Dalai Lama
- Questioning the Advice of the Guru by H.H. the XIV. Dalai Lama
- Relating to the Guru by Jetsünma Tenzin Palmo
- Devotion with Discernment – A question of personal responsibility by Rob Preece
The Dalai Lamas
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso
Journalist Stephen Talty travelled to Tibet and observed the deep devotion Tibetans within Tibet still feel towards their leader and religion. He walked through the Potala Palace and reflected on the young Dalai Lama maturing in the context of Tibetan culture and stormy, historical events. His conclusion is a thought-provoking and moving perspective on the Dalai Lama and his people.
The 14th Dalai Lama: The Making of a Spiritual Hero by Stephan Talty
The 14th Dalai Lama has acquired the stature of international star. Why are people so taken now by the Dalai Lama? This essay addresses these questions by examining some of the ideas with which the Dalai Lama is associated, particularly among Westerners who see him as embodying the fundamental principles of Buddhism.
The “lost discourse” between contemporary art and Tibetan Buddhism …
Culminating in the 1980s, one can speak of a kind of permanent conference of the mind having been instrumental in such artists as Beuys and Filliou, and spiritual masters as the 14th Dalai Lama and Sogyal Rinpoche.
Dalai Lama Interviews
- Dalai Lama interview about the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit, India, ethics, the institution of the Dalai Lamas, China-Tibet, Shugden & more by Raimondo Bultrini (2014)
- Interview with H.H. the Dalai Lama about hate, religion, dialogue, 9/11, fundamentalism & more by Raimondo Bultrini (2005)
The Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso
- NEW The Fifth Dalai Lama and his Reunification of Tibet by Samten G. Karmay
Is Tibet legally Chinese territory? Is there a legal title which could justify this claim to Tibet by the People’s Republic of China?
Tibet’s Status Under International Law by Eckart Klein
An authoritative perspective on the 1987–89 pro-independence protests and stereotypes that have clouded Western perceptions of the situation.
Essay: The Tibetans by Robert Barnett
Mass death in Tibet: 1.2 million Tibetan deaths over two to three decades is the figure that is almost always cited. But this figure has no reliable foundation.
The Body Count by Elliot Sperling
Pico Iyer’s account of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibet and the 1987–1989 Tibetan unrest in Tibet.
Thunder from Tibet by Robert Barnett
Tenzing Sonam, who made a remarkable documentary film for the BBC, reveals how the CIA once helped his people fight their oppressors.
CIA in Tibet: A Secret War in Shangri-La by Patrick French
Tibetan democracy is a very different kind of democracy compared with other democratic systems prevailing in other countries.
“Tibetan” Democracy by Dhondup Tsering
Tibet Myths, Propaganda and Facts: Correcting Misrepresentations
Human Rights in Tibet before 1959
Robert Barnett examines claims by China such as: 1) before 1959, all except 5 percent of the Tibetan population were slaves or serfs in a feudal system in which they were regarded as saleable private property, had no land or freedom, and were subject to punishment by mutilation or amputation; 2) serfs were liable to be tortured or killed; and 3) economy and culture were stagnant for centuries, life expectancy was 35.5 years, illiteracy was over 90 percent, 12 percent of Lhasa’s population were beggars, and the Dalai Lama was responsible for all of this …
Tibet as “Hell on Earth”
Elliot Sperling puts China’s “Serfs Emancipation Day” and their strong ambition to dominate the Tibetan historical view into perspective. “There’s no doubt that Tibet’s traditional society was hierarchical and backwards, replete with aristocratic estates and a bound peasantry. And there’s no doubt that Tibetans, whether in exile or in Tibet voice no desire to restore such a society. Many Tibetans will readily admit that the social structure was highly inegalitarian. But it was hardly the cartoonish, cruel ‘Hell-on-Earth’ that Chinese propaganda has portrayed it to be.”
The Myth of Shangri-la
Tsering Shakya wonders and investigates why the public support of the Tibetan cause has not materialised into political action. “Why is it that no major political party has dared to pass a single resolution on Tibet?” Shakya shows that the causes for this lack of political action are not only issues of realpolitik, but also how the West perceives Tibet and interprets the Tibetan political struggle. Western perceptions of Tibet and the images they have produced about Tibet “have hampered the Tibetan political cause. The constant mythologisation of Tibet has obscured and confused the real nature of the Tibetan political struggle.”
Shangri-la in Exile: Representations of Tibetan Identity and Transnational Culture
In this paper Toni Huber is primarily concerned with the representational style and agenda of a new type of Tibetan exile self-image. He outlines the social and historical context of their appearance and he considers the manner of their deployment by the exile community. He discusses four main points, 1) the reinvention of a kind of modern, liberal Shangri-la image of Tibet; 2) how new identity images are largely the creation of a political and intellectual elite in exile; 3) that it is the experience of the diaspora that provides the initial stimulus for a modern Tibetan identity production; and 4) though the “myth of Tibet” was historically a Western enterprise, new Tibetan exile identity claims represent, at least in part, an appropriation of the Western discourse about Tibet
Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies
Buddhism in the West and the Image of Tibet
L.S. Dagyab Kyabgön explores the genesis of the Western image of Tibet. “Europeans usually see in Tibet that which seems familiar to them—such as the apparent similarities between the religious customs of Tibet and the Catholic Church. On the other hand, Europeans judge the uniqueness of Tibet to lie either in its backwardness or in its manifestation of that which the West has lost. … Its seclusion lent the country an aura of mystery and magic. For this reason, Tibet offered itself as a screen upon which Western fantasies could be projected.”
“Violated Specialness”: Western Political Representations of Tibet
Robert Barnett endeavors to map in his paper ways in which the Western representation of Tibet has appeared in political texts in the West since the mid-1980s, and he examines the impact of such representations on the policies of foreign governments. “In doing so, I am responding to recent reductionist depictions of Tibetans engaged in the contemporary political and cultural domains as more or less trapped subjects of Western constructions. My study takes a different approach, looking at representations in terms of their functions and intended effects. In particular, I suggest that, rather than merely responding to Western discourses which emerged following the expansion of the Tibetan advocacy movement in late 1987, exile Tibetan policy-makers were already by then encouraging this trend as part of an intended and considered strategy. In doing so, they were continuing a tradition of Tibetan political self-representation, using images which were developed in Lhasa long before the Chinese invasion and which they have continued to shape and reconstruct in response to changes in their conditions and objectives.”
The Final Chapter of Imagining Tibet
Between Shangri-la and Feudal Oppression – Attempting a Synthesis
Thierry Dodin and Heinz Räther give an historical overview of the myth of Tibet and attempt to find an historically correct description of Tibet between the extremes of Shangri-la and feudal oppression.
If you google “Nazi-Tibet-Connection” google gives you about 225,000 results. If you search for “Tibetan uprising” Google lists about 185,000 results. The latter has historic significance but the alleged Nazi-Tibet connection is primarily the fabrication of some self-appointed “experts”. These self-styled “agents of enlightenment” who, while purporting to bring light into darkness and to demythologize Tibet, actually construct new myths by skillfully mixing fact with fiction—deliberately or not.
The following three papers by Historian and Tibetologist Isrun Engelhardt untangle the long, multilayered and complex process that finally generated the alleged Nazi-Tibetan connection.
This paper has two aims: first, to describe the long, multilayered and complex process that finally generated an alleged Nazi-Tibetan connection; and second, to lay to rest the oft-repeated claim that the Ernst Schäfer Tibet expedition of 1938–39 had some occult purpose.
Nazis of Tibet: A Twentieth Century Myth by Isrun Engelhardt
In 1939, Tibet’s regent, Reting Rinpoche, wrote two letters to the German leader at the time, Adolf Hitler. Although not the most important result of the Schäfer expedition, it became perhaps the most famous, serving as a basis for the ongoing Nazi-Tibet myth.
Mishandled Mail: The Strange Case of the Reting Regent’s Letters to Hitler by Isrun Engelhardt
Ernst Schäfer’s German expedition to Tibet has been the subject of sensationalist and ill-informed films, books, and articles on the internet. Many of these focus upon its alleged political objectives and secret occultism, a focus which has given rise to increasingly wild speculations.
Tibet In 1938–1939: The Ernst Schäfer Expedition to Tibet by Isrun Engelhardt
- The Influence of the Occult on the 1939 German Expedition to Tibet by Jigme Duntak
- Robert Jay Lifton on the meeting of Shoko Asahara (Aum Shinri Kyo cult) with the 14th Dalai Lama – Quote from a Tricycle Interview
- Aum Shinrikyo’s Spiritual Journey From Meditation to Mass Murder by Ian Reader
- The Lama Wearing Trousers: Notes on an Iron Statue in a German Private Collection by Achim Bayer
- Self-Delusion: The Middle Way Approach of the Dalai Lama and the exile leadership (CTA) by Elliot Sperling
- The Tibet-China Conflict: History and Polemics by Elliot Sperling
- History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles versus the People’s Republic of China by John Powers
Christian Missionaries in Tibet
- Sacred Words and Earthly Powers: Christian Missionary Engagement with Tibet – John Bray
- Between Tolerance and Dogmatism: Tibetan Reactions to the Capuchin Missionaries in Lhasa, 1707-1745 – Isrun Engelhardt
- Saving Tibet from Satan’s Grip: Present-day Missionary Activity in Tibet – Robert Barnett
- Book Review (PDF): »Jesuit on the Roof of the World:Ippolito Desideri’s Mission to Tibet« & »Mission to Tibet: The Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Account of Father Ippolito Desideri, S. J.« – Reviewed by John Murphy
- Travels in Tartary, Thibet, and China During the Years 1844-5-6 – Evariste Régis Huc
The Dorje Shugden Controversy
- Academic Research Regarding Shugden Controversy & New Kadampa Tradition (2008–2015) by T. Peljor & C. Bell
- The Shuk-Den Affair: Origins of a Controversy (1999) by Georges Dreyfus (PDF)
- The Tulkus and the Shugden Controversy (2001) by Michael von Brück
- This Turbulent Priest: Contesting Religious Rights and the State in the Tibetan Shugden Controversy (2003) by Martin A. Mills
- Charting the Shugden Interdiction in the Western Himalaya (2009) by Martin A. Mills
- The Predicament of Evil: The Case of Dorje Shukden (2011) by Georges Dreyfus
- Notes on the Shugden protests (2015) by Robert Barnett
- Protests against the Dalai Lama over Dorje Shugden (2014) – An interview with Robert Barnett
- The Dorje Shugden Conflict (2014) – An interview with Thierry Dodin
- The Dalai Lama and the Shugden Cult (2014) by Jens-Uwe Hartmann
- A quick note on Dorje Shugden (rDo rje shugs ldan) (1996) by Paul Williams
- Dorje Shugden and Religious Freedom: Notes on a Conflict (1997) by Jens-Uwe Hartmann
- The making of a Shugden hub in the United States (2014) by Thierry Dodin
- Some Media and the Shugden Controversy – How TV Channels and YouTube Can Deceive You (2014) by Tenzin Peljor
- Dorje Shugden (2008) – An article mainly based on scholarly papers
- Pluralism the Hard Way: Governance Implications of the Dorje Shugden Controversy and the Democracy- and Rights Rhetoric Pertaining to It (2009) by Klaus Löhrer
Dorje Shugden – A Distant and Critical Perspective
- Provocations of the Gyalpo by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
- A Spirit of the XVII Secolo by Raimondo Bultrini
The Dorje Shugden Controversy
- Document – China: AI’s position on alleged abuses against worshippers of Tibetan deity Dorje Shugden (1998) by Amnesty International
- Developments in India, 2008: Sowing dissent and undermining the Dalai Lama by TibetInfoNet
- Delhi High Court Dismisses Dorjee Shugden Devotees’ Charges (2010) by TibetNet/CTA (PDF)
- Original statement by the Delhi High Court (2010) (PDF)
- Panel Discussion at SOAS: “The Shugden Controversy & the 14th Dalai Lama” (YouTube, 2014) by London Ney
Tibet, CIA, Tibetan Guerrillas, and the Dalai Lama
- A Secret War in Shangri-La by Patrick French
- »CIA in Tibet« by Lisa Cathey and Kefiworks: Vimeo channel
- The Phantoms of Chittagong by Claude Arpi
- Phantom Warriors of 1971 – Unsung Tibetan Guerrillas by Manas Paul
Kalachakra and Shambala Myth
- About the Kalachakra Tantra by Alexander Berzin
- Holy Wars in Buddhism and Islam: The Myth of Shambhala by Alexander Berzin
- Mistaken Foreign Myths about Shambhala by Alexander Berzin
Buddhist Organisations · Buddhist Teachers
- New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU) – aka Kadampa Buddhism or Modern Buddhism
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – Founder of the New Kadampa Tradition
- Realising the Guru’s Intention: Hungry Humans and Awkward Animals in a New Kadampa Tradition community by Carol McQuire
- “Ocean of Nectar: Wisdom and Compassion in Mahayana Buddhism” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Reviewed by John Powers (PDF)
- BBC documentary: An Unholy Row – with the XIVth Dalai Lama, Stephen Batchelor, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Ondy Willson, Avyorth Rolinson, and Kelsang Khyenrab
- The old Kadampa Tradition of Atisha
- International Shugden Community / Western Shugden Society – unlocked by Tenzin Peljor
- Who is protesting against His Holiness the Dalai Lama? by Tsultrim Palmo & Carol McQuire
- Statement of the Deutsche Buddhistische Ordensgemeinschaft (DBO, German Buddhist Monastic Association) (2014)
- Australian Sangha Association Statement by ASA (2008)
- Blog “Tibetan Buddhism :: Struggling With Diffi·Cult Issues” by Tenzin Peljor
- The Recognition of Incarnate Lamas in Tibetan Buddhism and the Role of the Dalai Lama¹ by Geoffrey Samuel
- Who is the Karmapa? Western Buddhist Responses to a Challenge to Traditional Religious Authority by Helen Waterhouse
- Who is the Karmapa Lama? – BBC
Lama Ole Nydahl / Diamond Way Buddhism
- Macho Buddhism: Gender and Sexualities in the Diamond Way by Burkhard Scherer²
- Interpreting the Diamond Way: Contemporary Convert Buddhism in Transition by Burkhard Scherer²
- Lama Ole: Buddhist teacher or charlatan? by Joe Orso
- Controversial Buddhists by MyWeekender.co.uk
¹ The file was
kindly provided by Geoffrey Samuel. His expert testimony was requested
for a court case in New Zealand. The court case was about the ownership
of a Dharma centre belonging to the Karma Kagyu Trust.
² Burkhard Scherer is a disciple of Lama Ole Nydahl. See: Random House, 16 April 2012.
Soka Gakkai International (SGI)
FWBO was renamed in Triratna Buddhist Order (TBO/FTBO)
Geshe Michael Roach
- Death and Madness at Diamond Mountain – Scott Carney
- Sex and Death on the Road to Nirvana – RollingStone
- read more …
Thich Thien Son
Thich Thien Son, Zen Master and Abbot of Pagode Phat Hue (Frankfurt) and »Buddhas Weg« (Odenwald), was expelled from the »German Vinaya Sangha Association« (DBO) on the 24th of December 2010. The expulsion was made after a thorough investigation. The DBO had received five affidavits by former students of Thich Thien Son which clearly demonstrate that he had had inappropriate sexual relationships with several of his students.
- “When fraud is part of a spiritual path: a Tibetan lama’s plays on reality and illusion” by Marion Dapsance in “Minority Religions and Fraud – In Good Faith”
- “In The Name Of Enlightenment” :: Stephen Batchelor Interview (Vimeo)
- The lamas who give Tibetan Buddhism a bad name – The Guardian
- Point of View: Sogyal Rinpoche and the Silence of the Tibetan Buddhist Community and the Dalai Lama – by T. Peljor
T.Y.S. Lama Gangchen Rinpoche
- Allegiance to the Dalai Lama and those who “become rich by opposing splittism” by TibetInfoNet
- The Role of Lama Michel, the “Little Buddha” of São Paulo, within the Globalized Tibetan Buddhist Movement of Lama Gangchen by CESNUR
Kundeling Lama – Atisha Charitable Trust
- see: TIN-Update116
- Open Letter – Conference of Western Buddhist Teachers 1993
- Controversies related to Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lamas and Tibet – Q&A with Thierry Dodin
- Critical Thinking, Creativity & The Problem With Beliefs: The NKT, Rigpa and SGI by Matthew O'Connell
- Cults, Cultish Shennanigans & Buddhist Groups by Matthew O'Connell
- Address to the Global Buddhist Congregation 2011 by the XVIth Dalai Lama
- more: Inform (Information Network Focus on Religious Movements)
Western Buddhism: Problems, Presentations & Debates
- Buddhism without Sectarianism by the Deshung Rinpoche
- Tibetan Buddhism in the West – A Series of Three Articles
- Dangers in Devotion: Buddhist Cults and the Tasks of a Guru by John Crook
- Movements In British Buddhism by Ken Jones
- Sangha Schism by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
- Address to the Monks of Ganden, Drepung, and Sera about Buddhism in Foreign Countries by Alexander Berzin
- The Meeting of Traditions: Inter-Buddhist and Inter-Religious Relations in the West by Oliver Freiberger
- Tibetan Buddhism as a World Religion: Global Networking and its Consequences by Goeffrey Samuel
- Global Buddhism: Developmental Periods, Regional Histories, and a New Analytical Perspective by Martin Baumann
- A Lie Repeated – The Far Left’s Flawed History of Tibet by Joshua Michael Schrei
- A Difficult Pill: The Problem with Stephen Batchelor and Buddhism’s New Rationalists by Dennis Hunter
- Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist by B. Alan Wallace
- Rebirth: The Case of the Siamese Sergeant Thiang San Kla by Francis Story
Self-Immolations in Buddhism
From March 2011 to June 2012, over three dozen Tibetans set themselves on fire to protest against repression in China. Self-immolation, though exceedingly rare, has been part of the global repertoire of protest for half a century. This article places the Tibetan cases within an international context of suicide protest over several decades.
Self-Immolation in Context, 1963-2012 by Michael Biggs
In Tibet, where China pretends to have liberated the population from obscurantism and imperialism and led it to a better life, there are dozens of Tibetans who burn themselves to express their political frustration.
Part I: Why are Tibetans doing that?
Self-immolations of Tibetans I – An interview with Thierry Dodin
Is there a background within Buddhism that supports an act of self-immolation? For instance Jamyang Norbu as well as Robert Barnett found that it would resonate with the Buddhist tradition. Jamyang Norbu even called them “Martyrs” …
Part II: Self-immolations & Buddhism
Self-immolations of Tibetans II – An interview with Thierry Dodin
Part III: Reactions and Consequences
- Self-immolations of Tibetans III – An interview with Thierry Dodin
Vinaya Teachings – Monastic Ethics
Do not say after my parinirvana that pure practitioners have no protector. Now that I have taught the Pratimoksha Sutra and the excellent vinaya well, regard these as the World-honored One after my parinirvana.Shakyamuni Buddha in the Pratimoksha Sutra
Pratimoksha Sutra – Buddha
Shila Samyukta Sutra – Buddha
The Essence of the Vinaya Ocean – Tsongkhapa