102nd Ganden Tripa: intolerable for woman to control sangha


Video released: 102nd Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche says that it is intolerable for a woman to control the Bliss & Wisdom sangha; Rinpoche instructs BW sangha to organize a vinaya committee to expel vinaya-breaking gurus and monks, and hold a referendum to decide if Mary Jin should remain

The 102nd Ganden Tripa Rizong Rinpoche spoke to Ven Fan Yin and a group from Bliss & Wisdom in Ladakh on 15 Jul 2017. A video of the proceedings has just been released. His Eminence Rizong  Rinpoche speaks in Tibetan, with a Chinese translator.

Here is the transcript:

Rinpoche: That day I spoke to His Holiness the Dalai lama about this matter. His Holiness told me, there are so many problems, especially with the Chinese Communist Party, I don’t know if I can help resolve this problem. It’s better to use wisdom to judge and solve the problem.

Ven Fan: Our wisdom!

Rinpoche: Small problems are everywhere, not just Bliss & Wisdom. I’ve been to a lot of places – when organizations get large, there are bound to be some problems. Especially in this degenerate age, where the dharma is on the decline, then where money and practical benefits are concerned, problems often crop up.

A lot of Buddhist and non-Buddhist organizations go to His Holiness the Dalai Lama with their problems. His Holiness himself cannot resolve all of those problems personally. He can only provide suggestions, give advice and teachings. It’s up to the organization to resolve those problems by themselves.

His Holiness told me that in this organization, two factions might emerge. These two factions should come together to discuss. The solution will depend on which faction has more supporters.

Then where Mary Jin is concerned, it is better for her not to get involved in the vinaya. For her to be a committee member, or an important person, would be fine, but she should under no circumstances govern the sangha. His Holiness also told me that since I have retired from the Ganden Tripa position, it is better to request the current Ganden Tripa Rinpoche for guidance. Since I am more familiar with Bliss & Wisdom, His Holiness instructed me to speak to the current Ganden Tripa, and see if he has any guidance or solutions.

Ven Fan: We have already contacted the Ganden Tripa Rinpoche, we hope to be able to meet him soon.

Rinpoche: Since it is the 21st century, His Holiness often emphasizes that whether we are Buddhists or believers of other religions, it’s better to come together and have a dialogue. We should discuss mutually beneficial solutions, and resolve the problem peacefully. If we can do this, then it will be of great benefit to the world. Furthermore, whether we are from the Tibetan tradition or the Chinese tradition, we have succeeded the lineage from the Nalanda University, a very excellent lineage. It’s quite a pity that such problems crop up in a Buddhist organization like this. It would be better for us to use the wisdom taught to us by the Nalanda masters to make an informed judgment on what action to take.

Ven Fan Yin: I’ll arrange for a meeting and report in detail.

Rinpoche: The Ganden Tripa Rinpoche has yet to assume his position. The enthronement ceremony will take place in August, then we can… His Holiness the Dalai Lama personally told me that since I am familiar with this organization, I can help out with what I understand. That’s what His Holiness emphasized to me.

I think we all know that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is basically a very important person in Buddhism today. Where the Gelugpa is concerned, he is one of the most important lineage masters. Since 2005, he has offered political power to the Tibetan people. He is completely devolved of politics, and will only be the spiritual leader.

He hopes that not just Tibetan Buddhism, but also all traditions of Buddhism and other religions, can come together and improve humanity. That’s his ideology.

Furthermore, in the past one or two hundred years, the Buddhadharma has been on a rapid decline. We really need to strengthen our dharma practice. That’s what His Holiness emphasizes and he himself has been putting in a lot of effort in this regard.

Of course, many organizations come to His Holiness with their internal problems. His Holiness is unable to resolve most of them directly, he can only teach the dharma and equip us with wisdom, so that people can take this wisdom back to their organizations and resolve their problems. That’s the best way.

After the Ganden Tripa Rinpoche is formally enthroned, see if you can meet him the very next day. See if we can report to him what we know, and he can liaise with His Holiness to see if there is a better solution to this. That’s all I can suggest now.

For example, Ladakh here is not a very big place. But now we have a temple gathering, a gathering of Ladakhi devotees – these devotees have split themselves into different factions, the Gelug, the Kagyu and so forth. The gathering ended in chaos. Problems like this happen everywhere. What I mean is that the solution from the problem comes internally.

Of course, the problems in this organization are coming only from a few people! Perhaps for their own benefit, or some other reason, they have messed up the entire organization. Basically the entire organization is good, but there are some black sheep inside. This happens in many organizations, it’s usually unavoidable.

As we know, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has an ocean of wisdom. These few days, we have listened to a lot of his teachings; it will be very beneficial if we can put them into practice in our daily life.

As for the successor lady, at that time Master Jih-Chang had great expectations of her. He gave her the responsibility to take good care of this organization. A huge responsibility was given to her. We all hope she will take good care of this organization.

Of course, our own lineage is very important, that’s right. But our way of practice must be like an ocean – listen and learn widely. After learning widely, of course, we do return to our own tradition, but when we are learning, we must learn widely. His Holiness hopes that such problems will never crop up in any Buddhist organization. It’s better that we hold internal meetings to discuss this problem. Also, the emphasis will be on looking to the current Ganden Tripa Rinpoche for guidance.

Within Tibet, now the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has divided them into two factions – one faction is central Tibet, corresponding to the Lhasa area, and the other area comprises the remaining Tibetan areas. Many Tibetan areas are not in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, but in another province like Qinghai. The Chinese are trying to drive a wedge in between Tibetans within the autonomous region and outside. They are trying to infiltrate, undermine and destroy many organizations within Tibet, and probably Tibetan Buddhism as a whole. Many problems with the larger organizations have their root in politics.

What I think is that the CCP was never in favor of religion anyway. The CCP knows that if His Holiness the Dalai Lama is still around, Tibetans will never resort to violence to regain independence. Because His Holiness often says that if Tibetans in Tibet use violence in pursuit of independence, he would rather not have independence at all. He does not want independence for his country to come at a terrible human cost. He doesn’t want that! Because of that, the CCP knows that as long as His Holiness is still around, there will not be widespread violence. His Holiness wants to use dialogue with the Chinese, to see how the situation can be resolved harmoniously. His Holiness’ greatest wish is that within Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism can be maintained. But the Chinese know that if His Holiness returns to Tibet, his stature and power may become too strong, and they will not take the risk. So he’s being kept in limbo.

Since 2005, when His Holiness gave up his political position, the Chinese sent an envoy to Dharamshala to request His Holiness to return to China. They told him, you are the most important Buddhist figure on the planet, please come to Beijing. Tibet is just a sparsely populated region anyway, come to Beijing where you can benefit more people.

Then His Holiness said, great! You are inviting me to Beijing, and that’s great, but I need to warn you that I find it hard to control my mouth! China has done a lot for Tibet – Tibet was impoverished in the past, we had no roads, no airports, nothing. Although China has brought benefit to Tibet, China has also created tremendous harm. When I come to Beijing, I will speak my mind, I will tell them both sides of the story – the good and the bad. I’m living in India now, so whatever comes to my mind, I can say it right away. Can you give me the same freedom in Beijing? I certainly wish to live in Beijing, but I can’t control my mouth and I won’t allow you to decide what I can say and cannot say. At this point, the Chinese envoys gave up.

Of course, the reason why Tibet is in this state today is not only because of Chinese oppression, but because many in Tibet have created the negative karma for that to happen. A few years ago, His Holiness the Dalai Lama read a book written by a famous Chinese scientist. In his book, he mentions that a lot of the destruction in Tibet came about not only because of the Chinese, but the Tibetans had a role in it as well. So His Holiness also agrees that Tibet’s situation today is not only due to Chinese oppression, but he concedes that the Tibetans played a role as well.

His Holiness told me that he hopes that Chinese oppression will not last long, and he expects to see some changes in the years to come. Because Chinese politics and policy is starting to change. Now, any dissent is quickly suppressed, but this may change in the future. Perhaps the CCP will be easier to communicate with.

Even inside China, more people are talking about democracy. Most countries in the world are now democratic. CCP oppression may not last long. I certainly hope that the whole of China can become democratic, it may be better.

In terms of dharma, I will not give many teachings now, because His Holiness has already given many teachings in the past few days. You guys have been studying Buddhism for a long time, you are long-time students. In terms of politics, you might know better than me too. Actually, I think you might even know better than me when we will see the third world war. So in the past few days we’ve heard a lot of teachings from His Holiness, I don’t have much to add, so that’s all for now.

Regarding your problems in Bliss and Wisdom, I hoping that we can discuss this with the Ganden Tripa when he is enthroned.

Ven Fan: There may be some questions for Rinpoche here from the audience, can we invite Rinpoche to answer some questions.

Rinpoche: Views expressed are my own and do not represent His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Q: Rinpoche, I have a rather urgent question, so I’d like to take up some of everyone’s time. Just as Rinpoche said, in a large sangha, there will inevitably be divisions and factions, and these divisions can still be mediated through internal consensus building. But if these problems were caused by their spiritual guru, then it will be more difficult. In this case, this guru has already polluted the sangha, she is disguising her false dharma as correct dharma, and using various tricks and manipulation to control the disciples around her. The disciples who refuse to listen to her get blackmailed or threatened with black magic. Her disciples have been under her control and manipulation for so long that they are unable to realize that their guru is wrong. In this case, how can those with wisdom help those who are still lost? How can those who disobey her protect themselves from her black magic?

Also, His Holiness keeps reminding us about kindness and compassion. How can we view this guru with kindness and compassion? And are there any better ways to resolve this issue?

Rinpoche: I have spoken to Bliss and Wisdom’s lady guru in the United States. We met once for about an hour. During that conversation, I told her very clearly, “I heard that Master Jih-Chang handed over responsibility for Bliss and Wisdom to you. If you can be a leader, then good. There are two types of dharma – one is the sutras, one is the vinaya. Where the sutras are concerned, if you understand them and you are qualified to teach, then you can teach the sutras to both the monks and lay people. However, where the vinaya is concerned, the sangha uses the vinaya to resolve their problems. As a lady, you should under no circumstances govern a sangha. You must be very careful about that.”  I told her very clearly that she was not to interfere with the vinaya and the sangha.

If someone abuses her position as guru in the sangha to destroy the sangha’s vinaya, or teaches false dharma, then this person is not suitable to serve as the guru. We must be clear on this. In the sangha, whether monks and nuns or the anagarikas and lay people are involved, a vinaya committee (羯摩) should be held to conduct disciplinary proceedings. The vinaya committee has the power to expel those who break the vinaya and are thus unsuitable to remain in the monastery.

I have already mentioned that for a lay person to lead a sangha is completely inappropriate. Use the vinaya committee to take action, and do not allow her to occupy that position any more.

If the Buddha was there, the Buddha has psychic powers, so he would know. But in this age, we can’t see the Buddha directly. So what we should do is to get the monks who are upholding their vows purely to organize a vinaya committee to conduct disciplinary proceedings and determine who should be expelled from the sangha. This is the procedure laid down in the vinaya.

In that organization, it’s better for employees and executives to be lay people instead of monks. If she is just an employee, executive or leader in one of the enterprises run by lay people, then I have nothing to say.

But what I cannot tolerate is that she is controlling the entire sangha. This is against the vinaya. So this is a problem we need to solve.

Q: And the problem of black magic?

Ven Fan: Putting black magic on people to make them ill, to make people….

Rinpoche: Regarding psychic powers or black magic, if people are controlled by her, and are unaware of what they are doing, then it’s difficult for them. But if there are monks with pure morality, who are aware of what is going on, these monks can set up a separate sangha and bring these problems to their attention – tell them what is right and what is wrong. If monks see something wrong in the sangha, they must take action immediately. But if those inside are completely incapable of seeing the truth, then it will have to fall to those outside to help them.

Two days ago when I was speaking to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we spoke about cults in China. Many fake gurus are masquerading as gurus or lamas, claiming to have psychic powers or claiming that their dharma is the most powerful – using various tactics to ascend the throne. Once on the throne, they teach “sutras”, but only for the sake of money. Initially, they are primarily motivated by money, but eventually they don’t stop at money but want sex, and everything else they can get. When this happens, some disciples come to Dharamshala or India and complain to His Holiness the Dalai Lama – this has happened, what do we do? His Holiness the Dalai Lama always tells them clearly, “In this situation, if you have evidence, immediately publicize it to the general public, and make it known that this person is unsuitable to be a guru.”

Sometimes it’s also our fault, whenever someone sits on a throne and gives teachings, we get impressed easily, but we cannot immediately take him as our guru! First investigate his motivation and attitude, evaluate the content of his teachings, and evaluate his personal conduct. If after observing for a while, we do not see any problems, and can see that he has the qualities of a guru, then we can take him as our guru. Otherwise, if we simply take someone we don’t really know as our guru just because he is sitting on a throne and says a few words, then it’s really our fault.

So in future, whenever someone claims that he has extraordinary powers, or that his dharma is superior, don’t believe him easily. Listen carefully to what he says, and observe his actions to see if they conform to his teachings. After observing carefully, and you have generated faith in his conduct, then you can take him as your guru. Don’t rush into making a decision. Especially in this day and age, so many people are using the Buddhadharma, or the name of religion to cheat others. We have to observe carefully if what he is saying is the correct dharma.

Q: Mary Jin uses black magic on those who disobey her. How can these monks protect themselves?

Rinpoche: Basically, it’s better that we have faith in the dharma. Regardless of what powers she has, it will probably be no match for the protection we get by practicing the true Buddha dharma. As for this, you have to have faith in yourself and in the dharma. If you do, it will be difficult for people to put black magic on you to make you ill or to make you mentally unhappy. Have faith in yourself and in the dharma – but this is actually not that easy.

Where the vinaya guidelines are concerned, even during the Buddha’s time there were those in the sangha who did not uphold the vinaya purely. So the Buddha instructed monks who upheld pure morality, and who have no doubts in their heart, to set up a vinaya committee to determine if those who break their vows should continue to remain in the sangha. Now that our sangha is so huge, it is even more important that decisions be taken by committee, instead of being directed by a single person.

Out of compassion for those inside, if we want to help them, it’s best to tell them to leave quickly, this is the best way. If one person leaves, two people leave, and eventually fewer and fewer people remain inside, then there will be less room for them to mess about. As far as possible, tell those people in the organization to leave quickly. The more people leave, the better. In the end, if only two factions remain, then we may have to hold a referendum! Hold a referendum to decide if the lady is suitable to remain as the guru.

Even during the Buddha’s time, he did not intervene personally in disputes, but left it to the sangha community to arrive at a consensus.

Q: I would like to report to Rinpoche, that when Ven Fan Yin met His Holiness, His Holiness instructed Ven Fan Yin that if there were any inappropriate activity in the organization, then it should be investigated and publicized. In fact, a lot of people have committed a lot into this organization over the years – financial contributions, and even sending our children to become monks. When they hear about this, they are going to be very upset, they will suffer a lot, because they have put in so much for so long. And their faith in the triple gem and in Master Jih-Chang, and so forth – can Rinpoche give them some teachings which may relieve their suffering?

Rinpoche: Of course, by publicizing things, a lot of people may be hurt – their faith in the dharma may be shaken, Tibetan Buddhism as a whole – there will be some harm done, no doubt about that. But this kind of harm is a short-term harm. In the long run, if the sangha continues like that, destroying and persecuting more and more people, then the harm will be even greater. Then it will be even worse.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been saying for a very long time. If someone is behaving inappropriately in a sangha, or if his actions transgress the vinaya or the sangha, then he should leave quickly. In a sangha, morality and vinaya should be very pure. Any impure conduct must be dealt with expediently.

Of course, some harm will be done in the short-term, but we must think of the long run. For the sake of keeping the Buddha dharma alive in this world, this is very small in comparison. If some people get hurt, that’s still small in comparison with allowing an organization like this to destroy Buddhism as a whole. So we must use a broader perspective to look at this, instead of focusing on the short-term harm.

Q: This year Rinpoche gave the transmissions for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s name mantra and long life prayer in Taiwan, can Rinpoche give the transmissions for his own name mantra and prayer?

Rinpoche: I would prefer to give His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life prayer.  And the Seventeen Panditas, the one written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It’s best if you can recite that every day.

Q: I would like to report to Rinpoche, Rinpoche has been tremendously kind towards us Taiwanese for many years. Some of us in Taiwan would like to put in some effort to make donations to Rinpoche’s temple and khangtsen, and invite Rinpoche to make offerings to the sangha. If possible, could Rinpoche then invite those sangha to do pujas for us and dedicate the merits?

Rinpoche: In my monasteries, Samtenling Monastery, Rizong Monastery, and South India – there are quite a number of monks, probably two hundred. I will ask the monks to do pujas and dedicate the merits. As for money, I don’t need any at the moment, so keep them with you. In future, if I need anything, I will let you know. I have received a lot of donations now, so that’s enough, I don’t need any more. So don’t worry about me, I hope that your organization can quickly resolve your problems.

Translator: In the process of translation, if there are any words that may be unsuitable or incorrect, please let me know, I may not express myself as well as Taiwanese.

Rinpoche: I have given you the oral transmission, my eyes are not very good so I can’t read the text, please visualize that you have received the oral transmission.


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