The Silencing of the Shugdens

Dear Gen-la Kunsang, June 23, 2013

I have written you recently, after trying, but receiving no response from either the educational council or Gen-la Dekyong at the main Center at Manjushri.  I am quite disturbed by the lack of communication available in this organization when genuine and sincere Shugden practioners bring information to the educational council.  Even when I requested a confirmation for receipt of emails, I did not receive any acknowledgement at all from Manjushri Center.  I was concerned about some specific issues, many of which occurred in class at Vajrarupini Buddhist Center, San Diego.  The first two letters, which I originally sent only to Gen-la Dekyong and Gen Jampa, resulted in Chokyi’s immediate demand that I not write them again or others.  As I had already discussed matters with her for over a year before writing, I simply ignored her request.  I am concerned that people with strong affiliations with Dorje Shugden are being silenced in the NKT, while those who propagate other dharmas enjoy impunity from criticism.

I began writing Gen-la Dekyong and Gen Jampa in October 2012; after receiving an order for silence from Chokyi for my first endeavor, I decided it might be wise to take a break from Center activities for a few months.  I generally only did offerings a few days a week (since 2011), had regular weekly tsog puja attendance by video link with my daughter (since 2009) and did some gardening and occasional cleaning.  Though I have a dual B.A. and informed them of this, as well as good clerical skills, and despite having volunteered to take office work home, which they have allowed other people to sometimes do, there was always some excuse why I would not be appropriate for anything in the office.  I mention this, not because it would have otherwise upset me, but rather because their choices at VBC have long seemed to favor non-Shugden practioners over Shugden ones; our current office staff include an EPC who had never been to a Long Protector Puja before becoming EPC, didn’t seem to know how to do Dorje Shugden offerings when she arrived, and also went, during a two hour teaching on Dorje Shugden to change the oil in her car.  I mention this because I think we know we can change oil anytime, especially in San Diego, but it is really rare to get a two hour teaching on Dorje Shugden.  (Name deleted), the AD, is a full time lawyer, whom I have seen at tsog puja approximately 4 times in 4 years; I would estimate that my daughter and I had attended about 90 percent of WFJ and Long Protector from 2009 through 2012, and about 80 percent of OSGs.  (I am not sure why, but my karma was always complicated around getting to OSG at first).

My daughter Kristen and I, having stopped all VBC activities at the end of October 2012, braved VBC again on Jan 25th 2013.  It had been raining all day, which is highly unusual weather in San Diego, so I was concerned we might have to leave early if my daughter, who usually gets to run around at a park before puja, might be restless.  The then AD, (Name Deleted) actually offered to watch her so I could be in the gompa.  They went upstairs, and now, though my daughter generally stays in video link with me in the foyer, this one incident is being used to help ban my daughter from puja; normally the reason we attend together is twofold: she started attending with me when she was an infant, and I did not have much access to childcare, which allowed both of us to come and receive blessings.  I still do not have a lot of access to childcare, being on very limited government funding, but my daughter really loves to come to puja, so I always think that letting her draw or play with quiet toys in the video link with me is beneficial to all living beings.  I know she delights in puja and requests it regularly.

The next time we came back, was Long Protector of that same month; they had moved the video link to right outside the gompa, having placed a shelf in front of the video link outlet that allows us to have video link from the foyer.  I felt this was too close, but despite the fact that they move the furniture around almost constantly at VBC, they feel that this shelf must remain in this location.  Apparently this is the only thing in samsara which is permanent?  At any rate, Chokyi  insisted that we come to the gompa; when I protested saying Kristen, my daughter was too young, Choyki said it would be fine.  After that evening we were banned, due to our having been coloring together in the gompa for the first two hours of Long Protector and making a modicum of soft whispers.   We were also, after all these years of coming, suddenly banned because when we went to the video link outside the gompa, Chokyi claims she had a complaint of noise, though she will not say from whom.  For this reason, my daughter who enjoyed the blessings of Dorje Shugden and Je Tsongkapa from the time of 5 months until nearly the age of 4, at least weekly, at VBC is no longer allowed at video link.  There is no discussion from Chokyi or the “managers” concerning moving the video link back to the foyer, despite my repeated requests.

With this in mind, please understand that there are only about 8 regular tsog puja attendees, of which we were two.  The Kid’s class is now the only thing they will allow my daughter to attend, but if you will read the letter I am attaching “VBC in crisis” you will understand why I will not personally be able to do this.

I am very disturbed  they are keeping Shugden practioners away, and also silencing us with retributive action; I am also completely horrified that Gen Atisha’s offer to step down was accepted and he was replaced with Amy Peng, who immediately allowed anti-Shugden people to teach and started discussing the removal of our Dharma Protector.  I was informed that Gen-la Dekyong thought that Amy would be really wonderful, and that she was completely interchangeable with Gens Rigpa and Atisha, according to Gen-la Dekyong.  Gen Atisha was an absolutely perfect teacher, as was Gen Rigpa, whom we had for a Principal teacher while Amy was here; however, I thought he was only there to teach during a short transition and to give empowerments, so I didn’t mention all the strange things Amy was doing at that time.  When Atisha left, he was blamed for the Center not thriving, though I assure you that there is no way that that is possible.  If our Center was not thriving it may have been because (Name Deleted) the A.D. was hardly ever there, and constantly putting obstacles in people’s paths for the running of the Center.  Frankly, she was completely impossible to deal with, and also avoided Long Protector puja.

Furthermore, I have just discovered, while looking on the internet for information concerning Shugden issues, that Kelsang Pema, the Western Shugden Society Spokeswoman was asked to step down, according to the NewKadampaTruth blog, which used to have a link on the Kadampa.org main page.  It said the directors of the charity had asked her to step down as she wasn’t fulfilling her duties according to the internal rules.  I do not know her, but I do not believe, even for one ½ breath that she was treated fairly.   Atisha was the best Kadampa teacher other than Rigpa that I have ever seen, and he supposedly needed to “retrain” whereas in Southern California we have a plethora of completely unqualified teachers who teach nothing resembling Geshe Kelsang’s doctrine who are allowed to remain.  My 4 year old daughter has been attending puja longer than the EPC and the AD at VBC combined, but is suddenly banned from anything to do with Shugden on the premises.  The website NewKadampaTruth that allowed me to find out what had happened to a very vocal member of the Shugden community, Kelsang Pema, no longer has a link on the Kadampa.org website.  Under no pretense should any of you be complicit with the silencing of the Shugden population; I have been a member of VBC for four years, but became persona non grata upon writing the lineage; I am currently on correspondence with KMC LA, and only have minimal contact with one Sangha member at VBC.  Everyone else seems afraid to talk to me, and has been avoiding me.  We were members for two years when there were teachings available from Atisha, and then for 6 months we were fortunate enough to have Rigpa; but for the last year and a half it has been terrible, and Amy, who mixes all the dharmas together and doesn’t want to stay with Shugden should not teach in the NKT at all.

Please do something to help restore our lineage.  We need desperately to increase our teaching standards and look for people who actually like Dorje Shugden and practice his practice to teach and run our Centers.  We are being ousted, one by one, and speech between the oppressed Shugden members in this Sangha is being restricted.

I hope you appreciate that I have not met or been to teachings with your or Gen-la Dekyong, and so I really am quite lost about what is going on.  I am telling you that it doesn’t look good that Amy Peng, who thought we would give up Shugden, is considered as qualified as Atisha.  I have written other letters concerning qualifications, and I think we are really ousting key members of the Sangha, or simply those who would protest the loss of Shugden in many cases.  If I ever take HYT vows with you or anyone from your lineage, it will be with the caveat that you must stay with Shugden or Shugden himself must decide he’s changing form.  I am actually requesting that he stay with me until full Buddhahood, so please understand, I am telling you if any of you disavow Shugden, I will not blindly follow.  Please talk to Geshe Kelsang.  I do not know what is going on, but I can see that we are falsely accusing people with strong Shugden karma to keep them away from their Sanghas, and in some cases, from their positions within the NKT.  Please help before the unqualified ‘teachers’ end up in the lower hells for their actions.

Thank you,

Kelly Inman

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