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Fri Feb 3, 2012, 01:05 AM


Does anyone know the Buddhist side of this story?

There was apparently a conflict between Tibetan Buddhism and Mongolian shamanism (Tengerism) in the late 1500's. I ran into a shocking allegation in the book "A Story Waiting to Pierce You" by Peter Kingsley that the first Dalai Lama requested the complete destruction of the shamanist religion, including the slaughter of any Mongolian shamans who continued to practice. He apparently made the request of Altan Khan, who agreed to it and carried it out.

I ran across a Tengerism web site that appears to agree, but this all sounds a little one-sided. I'm wondering what the Tibetan view of that situation was/is. Anyone know?

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Reply Does anyone know the Buddhist side of this story? (Original post)
GliderGuider Feb 2012 OP
ellisonz Feb 2012 #1

Response to GliderGuider (Original post)

Fri Feb 3, 2012, 03:26 AM

1. According to wikipedia it was a peaceful conversion of Altan Khan, who may have well done so...

Altan Khan invited the 3rd Dalai Lama to Mongolia again in 1571 and embraced Tibetan Buddhism. After some hesitation, with followers begging him not to go, Sonam Gyatso's party set out and was met at Ahrik Karpatang in Mongolia where a specially prepared camp had been set up to receive them. Thousands of animals were given to him as offerings and five hundred horsemen had been sent to escort him to Altan Khan's court. When they arrived there, they were greeted by over ten thousand people including Altan Khan dressed in a white robe to symbolize his devotion to the Dharma.[8]

Some sources say this first meeting between Sonam Gyatso and Altan Khan took place in Amdo[9] or near (lake) Kokonor,[10] rather than in Mongolia itself. Further, some claim that Altan Khan bestowed the title Dalai on Sonam Gyatso, while the latter gave the title of Brahma, the king of religion, to Altan Khan.[11] These inconsistencies may be due to some confusion in the texts or the existence of alternative accounts of this important meeting in the Tibetan literature.

Altan Khan had Thegchen Chonkhor, Mongolia's first monastery, built, and a massive program of translating Tibetan texts into Mongolian was commenced. Within 50 years most Mongols had become Buddhist, with tens of thousands of monks, who were members of the Gelug order, loyal to the Dalai Lama.[12]

Sonam Gyatso's message was that the time had come for Mongolia to embrace Buddhism, that from that time on there should be no more animal sacrifices, the images of the old gods were to be destroyed, there must be no taking of life, animal or human, military action must be given up and the immolation of women on the funeral pyres of their husbands must be abolished.[13] He also secured an edict abolishing the Mongol custom of blood-sacrifices.[14] "These and many other such laws were set forth by Gyalwa Sonam Gyatso and were instituted by Altan Khan."[15]

The Third Dalai Lama publicly announced that he was a reincarnation of Phagpa, while the Altan Khan was a reincarnation of Kublai Khan and they had come together again to cooperate in propagating the Buddhist religion.[16]

More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Dalai_Lama

Tibetan Buddhism in particular hasn't always been the absolutely non-violent religion that some imagine it to be:

The Dalai Lama's message for Armed Forces Day may surprise those who assume him to be a pacifist
Mark Vernon
guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 June 2010 05.00 EDT

The Dalai Lama has sent a message of support for Armed Forces Day, which is next Saturday. In it, he writes of his admiration for the military. That is perhaps not so surprising. As he explains, there are many parallels between being a monk and being a soldier the need for discipline, companionship, and inner strength.

But his support will take some of his western admirers by surprise, not least when it comes to his thoughts on non-violence.

Attitudes towards violence in Buddhism are enormously complex. There are some traditions that argue aggression, and killing in particular, is always wrong. But there are others which argue that killing can be good, when executed by a spiritually skilled practitioner who can do so with the right motivation. Tibetan Buddhism falls squarely into the latter tradition, and previous incarnations of the Dalai Lama have been such practitioners. The 13th, for example, modernised the Tibetan army.

What the present Dalai Lama argues, in his message of support, is that violence and non-violence are not always what they seem. "Sweet words" can be violent, he explains, when they intend harm. Conversely, "harsh and tough action" can be non-violent when it aims at the wellbeing of others. In short, violence "harsh and tough action" can be attitudinally non-violent. So what should we make of that?


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