Shock waves Reverberate through Tibetan Buddhism in Malaysia

The Buddhist Channel, 30 Sept 2023

UPDATE (25 Oct 2023)

The Buddhist Channel has been informed that Kunzang Chokhor Ling has amended their website which reflects the true reason for the establishment of the society. With the update, the issue of contradiction raised by this article has been resolved. The amendments in their website can be seen here:

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Recent developments have sent shock waves through the Tibetan Buddhist community in Malaysia, with two concerning incidents coming to light. The first involves the arrest and detention of a Tulku accused of sexual assault on a woman six years ago.

Another unfolding situation centers around Palden Nyima Rinpoche, who faces allegations of misleading his followers and misrepresenting himself with false credentials. Rinpoche is the founder of the Kunzang Chokhor Ling Buddhist Association, headquartered in Petaling Jaya.

The organization's website prominently states that Nyima Rinpoche's "current guru is His Holiness the 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Kyabje Thupten Thrinle Palzang, who instructed Rinpoche to start a Dharma center in Malaysia or Singapore."

However, The Buddhist Channel has obtained a letter from the office of Dodrupchen Rinpoche, dated September 27, 2023, which unequivocally denies issuing any such instructions to establish Dharma centers in either of these countries.

Additionally, there are allegations that Nyima Rinpoche has issues with his visa privileges during his stay in Malaysia. This raises questions about the oversight of national bodies, particularly the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, responsible for ensuring that non-Malaysian monks do not misuse their visa status. Indirectly implicated in this matter is the Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia, the official body responsible for vetting the credentials and legitimacy of Tulkus, Rinpoches, and Lamas.

The issue at hand raises concerns about lax vetting processes and the need for a more robust system to verify the legitimacy of Buddhist teachers. Given the absence of centralized certification authorities in Buddhism, relying on a comprehensive set of criteria is imperative to assess a teacher's authenticity.

Such a vetting system should include:
  • Lineage and Credentials: Legitimate teachers should have a well-documented lineage traceable to recognized masters within their tradition.
  • Reputation: Researching a teacher's reputation within the Buddhist community, seeking recommendations from trusted practitioners and reviewing online sources to provide insights.
  • Teaching Style: Forming a national ethics committee to observe the alignment of a teacher's content and style with traditional Buddhist teachings. This is to ensure that the teachings follow that of mainstream Buddha Dharma that correct and verified.
  • Ethical Conduct: Obtain records of personal behaviors. Assessing a teacher's adherence to moral standards, such as the Five Precepts, is essential.
  • Community Involvement: Obtain records of community engagement. A legitimate teacher typically engages actively with the Buddhist community.
  • References: Seek testimonials from former or current students to gain insight into the teacher's character and methods.
  • Interview the Teacher: Establish an interview process. Engaging in conversations about the teacher's personal journey and understanding of Buddhist teachings.
As Buddhism emphasizes personal responsibility and discernment, it is crucial for the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia and the Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia to collaborate on a framework that closes loopholes and ensures transparency in the application process for foreign resident monks. Such measures will help instill confidence in the local Buddhist community.

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