(6.62) “At least you should retaliate when people speak ill of you
And cause others to lose their faith in you.”
In that case, why do I not get angry
When people speak ill of others?
(6.63) If, mind, you can forbear such loss of faith
When it is related to others,
Why are you not patient when others speak ill of you,
For that is related to the arising of delusions?
(6.64) Even if someone were to insult or destroy the Dharma,
The holy images, or the stupas,
It would still not be appropriate to get angry with them,
For how could the Three Jewels ever be harmed?
(6.65) We should also prevent anger arising towards anyone
Who might harm our Spiritual Guide, our friends, or our relatives
By seeing that such harm also occurs in dependence upon conditions
In the way that was just explained.
It is very easy to think it is justifiable to get angry against people who seek to harm the three jewels. Even if we don’t think it is justifiable to get angry, it is easy to actually get angry when we feel others are attacking us, our tradition, Geshe-la, or our faith. We receive a lot of criticism from a lot of different directions, and even the most secure in their faith can easily become discouraged or angry at those who keep falsely accusing us or unfairly criticizing us. This is part of our karma, no doubt because we did this to others in the past.
I have actually spent a good amount of time “defending the tradition” against those who would attack it. This started for me way back in the mid-1990s when the Dalai Lama started to aggressively attack Dorje Shugden practice and practitioners. What was being said didn’t jive at all with my experience of Dorje Shugden practice, teachings, or our tradition, but I was still relatively new. I wrote Geshe-la about what I had read/heard expressing concern, and he wrote back saying, “Dorje Shugden could never have anybody. Investigate for yourself.” So that’s what I did. I read through everything that was written on the web at the time, including all of the speeches by the Dalai Lama, statements made by the Tibetan parliament, and others. The more I looked, the more it made no sense. Each of the arguments lodged fell apart upon investigation. By investigating myself and comparing it with what I had learned, it became very clear to me that the Dalai Lama’s position was full of contradictions. I helped Venerable Tharchin prepare a book to try answer some of the arguments lodged against us. It never got published, but it did clarify my own thinking.
It was very easy for me to get angry about all of the criticism against Dorje Shugden and the NKT because my in-laws, who were already skeptical about my involvement with Buddhism thinking I had joined some cult, found all of this stuff and it created all sorts of obstacles. I had had obstacles with them before and also had written Geshe-la about how to deal with this. He replied that “they might have a problem with external manifestations of Dharma practice, but everyone appreciates a good heart and a good example. You will need to be skillful.”
A second wave of this happened about 10 years later when the criticisms started up again, and so did our protests in response. I spent the entire summer at TTP writing a website that answered every single argument made against us. My goal was to enter into a debate against all those who opposed us. I invited all of our main critics to engage in the debate, line by line, with the agreement of whoever loses the debate has the intellectual integrity to at least admit it. Unfortunately, nobody took me up on my offer. But the website still exists, and I believe it can be a useful resource for somebody new encountering these questions to help them work through the arguments made on both sides. You can visit this site at: https://dorjeshugdendebate.wordpress.com/ But I also remember discussing with these people on a variety of different on-line forums, and while I was strong in my faith, it really wore on me (and others), and I eventually had to step away because it was just so negative.
A third wave happened about 5 years ago. The criticisms started up again, and so did our protests. I was in China at the time, and found it so absurd how those accusing us used my presence in China as proof that we were working for the Chinese. No, actually, I was working in the American embassy, but facts didn’t matter. One of our chief critics then published a manifesto of why we are so bad and why Dorje Shugden is so bad, so I decided to try once again and debate with them – this time on their medium. It turned into this absolutely massive discussion. I tried to be fair and objective in my arguments, admitting it when we were wrong. My hope was by being reasonable I could at least soften things up a bit. I tried to move people – on both sides – towards agreeing the resolution to the conflict was for everybody to practice their bodhisattva vows. In the end, my efforts failed. But I can say that I tried.
These same folks, 20 years later after their original dispute with the NKT, are still at it. My theory is they are unable to let go and get on with their lives because somewhere inside of them, they know they are wrong. So they are battling within themselves and keep coming back. Of course they would howl in protest at such a characterization, but the core question remains – why haven’t you moved on with your life yet? If the NKT isn’t for you, fine, it doesn’t need to be. You have your bread, we have ours. Why decades of relentless attack? Why are they so threatened by us thinking what we do? I’m fine with them thinking whatever they want. But it still functions to activate anger and defensiveness in me when I see their attacks. I try accept this as purification.
Many people have their own story with all of this. It’s not easy for people to work through. But working through it is a fantastic way to become solid in our own Dharma understandings and confidence in our path.