To OM or Not to OM

Drums in the Distance


I live a stone’s throw from the “Hinkley Hilton” in Washington, DC, where the Jodie Foster obsessed assassin nearly murdered Ronald Reagan in 1981.

This morning I awoke to the sound of beating drums and chanting; nearly as loud as when the Lubavitcher Jews are celebrating in the street on the other side of our building, as they do several times a year.

I keep meaning to go watch that.

The Jews, I mean.


These drums and chants were loud.

I headed out for a morning walk, partly determined to find out what all the fuss was about.

A Helo Overhead


To the chants was added the unmistakable thwap-thwap-thwap of a Bell 420, a.k.a. the US Park Police helicopter, a sure sign that the President is on the move.

Connecticut avenue in front of the hotel was mobbed as I learned that the National Prayer Breakfast was set to begin with Bam, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and various other religious potentates as attendees.

It was quite a scene to take in.

Police everywhere.

A sizable crowd was gathered on the east side of the street perched rather at the foot of the monumental statue of Civil War General George B. McClellan to whom then President Lincoln famously asked, “Since you aren’t using your army do you mind if I borrow it?

"Little Mac"

“Little Mac”

Turns out they were the pro-Dalai crowd, there in support.

As often happens in Washington there isn’t just one demonstration but several and they can duel.


Across the way, on the west side were the anti-Dalais, the folks with drums and chants whom I heard from my apartment.

But wait, these people are Buddhists.

Buddhists don’t fight.

Yes, they do.

Propitiating the Spirit of Dogyal Shugden, Whatever That Means

As usual, it all comes down to sucking up.

Dogyal Shugden is a sort of Tibetan spirit rather recently rediscovered whose favor is being sought by a wayward sect of Buddhists said to be non-Tibetan or western converts.

(If you guessed the converts were from California, kudos to you.)

By propitiating, or sucking up to Dogyal (not sure how that’s done) they have run afoul of the 14th Dalai Lama, or so they say.

And they say some downright mean things.

Dalai Lama, “The worst dictator in this Modern Day.”

Dalai Lama is “false.”

Dalai Lama lies.

14th Dalai Lama

14th Dalai Lama

What’s in a Name?

I found those pale-faced and western-dressed angry Buddhists banging on drums to be a little disconcerting, rattling my karma, what little of it there is.

I heard both sides out, briefly, gathered the literature and left to sort it all out.

My decision was made on the literature, but not what it said, and a name.

The Dalai Lama handouts were black-and-white regular copies.

The Dogyal Shugden handouts were slick booklets on shiny paper.

The Dalai Lama letter was signed by Rigden Dolma, the local chapter president.


Len Foley from Thousand Oaks, CA.

I don’t think so.













  • Mike says:

    Who knew!

  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    This has been an ongoing issue for many years, Eric, and whole books have been written about it, which I have in my library. Yes, it is a pathetic situation, and very serious. As if the Dalai doesn’t have enough concerns, the pro-Shugden folk present a real threat. They are guilty of many things, including the murder of the abbot of a monastery (he was also a fine scholar) steps away from His Holiness’s compound in Dharamsala. They are people to stay away from, I promise you. Interesting, too, that no Tibetans are ever among them. On a more uplifting note, I had the pleasure, yesterday afternoon, of attending a conference with His Holiness and leading members of Muslim groups in America. Highly civilized and informative discussion. Audience and speakers, alike, were all on the same page.

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