By Lobsang Wangyal
ON THE WEB, 28 May 2020
Setting off a major controversy, Tulku Orgyen Tobgyal, a Tibetan Buddhist lama residing in Bir, criticised the Dalai Lama for giving teachings and empowerments through the Internet.
Tobgyal, in a message circulated on the Internet on Monday 25 May, has said that giving such teachings and empowerments via Internet is degenerating the Dharma, and that such a practice is no less than destroying the Dharma.
He argued that empowerments cannot be received through long distance transmissions such as through Internet or television, but rather both the teacher and student should be physically together.
Tulku Orgyen Tobgyal, 69, had been a member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile twice between 1994 and 2006.
The Dalai Lama has given teachings online earlier this month, and has planned to give an empowerment at the end of this month.
Enraged Tibetans from around the world have condemned Tobgyal for the criticism, and demanded that he offer an apology to the Dalai Lama.
The Lobsang-Sangay-led Tibetan cabinet-in-exile denounced Tobgyal for making such callous remarks.
In an announcement, the Cabinet has accused Tobgyal of being mistaken, and explained that online teachings and empowerments are the only options during the current pandemic situation.
The Minister of Religion and Culture Yuthok Karma Gelek has been embroiled in controversy too for issuing a letter pursuant to the views of Tobgyal, that virtual empowerments cannot be conferred, although the blessings could be received.
Many online comments have since asked for Gelek’s resignation.
Some Tibetan NGOs have condemned Orgyen Tobgyal’s views. The Executive Committee of U-Tsang province has issued a letter of protest against him. A similar letter has been issued by the Tibetan Community of Toronto, Canada.