Are Buddhsist Racist

Read my one & only interview in the New Statesman

What is Racism?


Race can be defined as:

"A classification system used to categorise humans into distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”


Racism can be defined as:

“The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”


When a group of people are labeled according to a certain religious belief or affiliation and their access to public services, jobs, livelihoods and social freedoms are denied or restricted on the basis of this belief or affiliation this is racism.

Conflict and protests

The stage was set for conflict and unsurprisingly conflict very quickly began to arise. There were many reports of fights breaking out between practitioners and threats being made. It seemed like this was a ban that was not going to be implemented as swiftly and smoothly as the Dalai Lama and his government had hoped.

Support for Dorje Shugden practitioners came from an unlikely source, a Tibetan monk based in the UK called Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

Geshe Kelsang GyatsoGeshe Kelsang Gyatso had received teachings on Dorje Shugden practice from the same person who had taught the Dalai Lama, a highly respected monk called Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, so he seemed ideally placed to confirm or deny the view that Dorje Shugden practice was harmful.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso spoke out openly against the Dalai Lama's ban on Dorje Shugden and encouraged his students – mostly westerners from Europe and America to also speak out and demonstrate against the ban.

So then the conflict stepped onto the International stage, wherever the Dalai Lama went to give teachings in the west he was followed by a group of protesters. Protesters who were subdued at first, but have now grown into a more vocal opposition with loud chants, professionally designed leaflets and placards and an effective media team campaigning through both traditional media outlets as well as new media.

Often the conflict gets drawn into specific details about the history of the religious practice and doctrinal debate. All of which tends to confuse the average reader and doesn't make for interesting or exciting news angles, and so the whole controversy rages on without much sign of a resolution.

On the one hand you have Dorje Shugden practitioners calling for religious freedom and labelling the Dalai Lama as a dictator, on the other hand you have the opponents to the practice of Dorje Shugden calling protesters agents of the Chinese government and terrorists.

Behind all of the drama there are ever increasing levels of racism and prejudice within the Tibetan community and the wholehearted acceptance of it in Government institutions which calls for serious scrutiny.

What does the Dalai Lama say about it?

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