A spokesman for the Dalai Lama has described the Shugden Buddhist community who have staged protests against the religious leader during his tour of Australia as a “cult” and said their protests were intended to “create friction among Tibetan Buddhists”. Protests against the rejection of the Shugden community, which has been described by the demonstrators as “religious apartheid”, have marked every point of the Dalai Lama’s 12-day tour. The mixed reception to his appearance in at a business lunch in Perth on Monday, his last formal engagement before the tour ended on Tuesday, was typical. The protesters are complaining about the Dalai Lama’s stance on the worship of Shugden, or Dolgyal, a spirit alternatively seen as enlightened or malevolent. The Dalai Lama, on his own website, cites the danger of Tibetan Buddhism “degenerating into a form of spirit worship”. Since 1975 he has recommended against the practice.
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