By Lauren Wanko
He brought together more than 4,000 people this morning. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet visited Princeton University for the first time. Without hesitation, he put on a university baseball hat. Then he delivered his message of the importance of compassion and affection.
“Any action in your life carry with a sense of compassion. Then your life will be meaningful,” he said.
Inside, it appeared as though the attentive audience was captivated by the Dalai Lama’s message.
“So now time come you must think more seriously about oneness of humanity,” he said.
The crowd was silent.
Outside, a completely different scene. More than 300 members of the International Shugden Community gathered in protest.
“We’re here campaigning for the religious freedom of Shugden Buddhists,” said ISC Spokesperson Nicholas Pitts.
The Shugden practice involves making prayers to the deity Dorjay Shugden.
“Shugden Buddhism is part of mainstream Buddhism. It’s only since the Dalai Lama instigated the campaign of discrimination and persecution that it’s needed its own separate name,” Pitts said.
The International Shugden Community points to the Dalai Lama’s website: “Following long and careful investigations, His Holiness the Dalai Lama strongly discourages Tibetan Buddhists from propitiating the fierce spirit known as Dolgyal (Shugden).” The website indicates the Dalai Lama once practiced it, but renounced the practice in 1975 after discovering the profound historical, social and religious problems associated with it.
“I think some of his best points in our argument are on his website. On his website there is a call for complete social exclusion of Shugden Buddhists and that’s outrageous. He’s the most famous Buddhist monk in the world. He’s acting like a bigoted person calling for social exclusion,” Pitts said. “What is happening now in the Tibetan exile community, and spreading through the world, is that people are denied services at shops, restaurants, hotels.”
In the university gym, the Dalai Lama spoke of love and tolerance.
“We all have same right,” he said.
When asked what protesters are you hoping for, Pitts said, “We’re hoping he’ll put in writing request throughout the Buddhist world, throughout the Tibetan community to end the persecution to end the segregation.”
The International Shugden Community says they’ve been asking to have a meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama for nearly 20 years. They say he has never responded to their requests.
Meantime, the Dalai Lama urged university students to spread his message of compassion among others so they may create a peaceful generation.