Letter from Gary Beesley about withdrawal of “A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace”

Posted on July 1, 2010


Previously I blogged about the Buddhist Scholar Gary Beesley who was forced to withdraw a book about the New Kadampa tradition and the deity Dorje Shugden. The following rather alarming information was posted today at the “Western Shugden Society – unlocked” website:

I received the following letter with the request to post it on this blog.

Dear xxxxxx

Thank you so much for your kind letter and expression of concern for my family and myself. I must say, the last few months have been trying and the knowledge that others are praying for our well being certainly does help lighten the load considerably.

As to why I found it necessary to withdraw the book, believe me, it was not an easy decision, particularly after the significant amount of time, research and funds I put into the book. ‘Cuckoo’ was three years in the writing, researching and legal scrutiny, and it was not very easy to abandon the project after having learned so much about the history of the deity, and the nature of the NKT.

My principle reasons for withdrawing the book were financial and, more importantly, the effects the impending publication began to have on my wife.I will explain these after outlining the financial constraints of the situation.

I was somewhat surprised at the widespread attempts across the web to suggest that the book had been withdrawn for the reason that it contained libelous untruths. I thought the letter I posted on the web via Dialogue Ireland WordPress made it quite clear that the reason I had withdrawn the book was because, despite the fact that all the information in the book was evidenced and already in the public domain, I came to the conclusion that I could not match the legal costs of a libel case, in particular because the NKT have, in the past chosen Schillings, amongst the UKs most costly and libel law firms, a partnership with a reputation in legal circles of unremitting ruthlessness, to act on their behalf.

As you know, England itself has a notorious reputation in international legal circles because of the huge imbalances in its archaic libel laws. These imbalances facilitate the issue of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,(SLAPPs) lawsuits served to intimidate and silence opponents by burdening them with the excessive costs of legal defence so that they withdraw any criticism or opposition. This was the background to the famous Mclibel case in 1994 where two individuals, who could not match the legal might of McDonalds were found guilty of libeling the huge multi-national in a leaflet they published.

In the Mclibel case, it took nearly ten years for the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the ruling on the basis of the fact the couple had been denied their freedom of expression under the European Convention on Human Rights. I do not have the time or funds to engage in such a lengthy and expensive legal battle. Nor, as a Buddhist, do I feel that engagement in such embittered wars of words is befitting of my faith.

The content of the legal threat letters, which I have attached for your own perusal, do however throw up some rather interesting issues; I’ll leave you to read the letters yourself and make your own observations on some of the startling contradictions contained therein.

The second, more sinister reason for the withdrawal of the book was, as I said, the effects that began to manifest through my wife.

About two days after it became public knowledge that ‘A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace’ was to be published, she began to bleed heavily. At first, we thought this might simply be a period but after day five of continuous heavy blood flow,  I began to become more than a little concerned.

The concern increased when, on the morning of day six she awoke to tell  me she had had the strangest dream: ” I dreamt I was being strangled by a bearded demonic figure” she told me. “I managed to struggle free and ran out of the house, where I was approached by a kind looking man, who took me by the hand and began to comfort me”. “But, when I looked down”she continued, “I saw that his nails had grown into claws and that the claws were beginning to penetrate my hand”. At that point, she woke up.

I didn’t say anything to her at first, but those who know anything about the experiences of those who have offended Shugden will recognize both of these, the strangling and the claws, as being a clear indication that one has incurred the displeasure of the deity. The strangling dreams have been reported frequently by those who have formerly propitiated, then abandoned the deity and are well documented. The claws are reminiscent of a dream the current Dalai Lama had some years ago in which he says “I dreamt that I was sitting on my bed. Beside my bed was a small boy, about seven or eight years old, whom I took to be Dolgyal. This boy was holding my right hand. When I looked again, I saw that where he held my hand the boy’s fingernails were changing into claws and he was extending them.”

The bleeding continued unabated  to the point that I decided to seek urgent medical advice and, within hours of seeing the doctor, my wife was rushed into hospital for emergency transfusions.

They ascertained on arrival, that while the human body ordinarily contains around 5.5 litres of blood, my wife had only around 2.8. She continued to bleed profusely for the next few days, though her symptoms were alleviated somewhat by regular transfusions. She eventually stabilised and the bleeding was stemmed after about a week.Once the bleeding stopped however, my wife had to endure painful and intrusive examinations, initially while conscious. These examinations revealed a small growth in her uterus, which was immediately removed. Fortunately, after making prayers and desisting from further activities in relation to the publication, we have recently learned that the growth was non-malignant.

Of course, some might argue that my wife’s condition was induced by psychosomatic causes, this being a response conditioned by a combination of subliminal fear and a knowledge of the manner in which the wrath of the deity manifests.

However, unlike myself, my wife knew absolutely nothing of the manner in which Shugden’s displeasure manifests; neither is it something that I have ever discussed with her nor is it anything of which she has ever read. Until I finally explained the significance of the dreams, she had no knowledge of, nor interest in such matters and the explanation that there was the possibility that the affliction was the result of my having offended the deity came as a great shock to her.

I’m sure you can see from this why it has been impossible for me to continue with the book; though I would, hopefully, willingly sacrifice my  life for the Dharma, it is certainly not appropriate to consider sacrificing that of my wife, the mother of my children. In short, not only was the future livelihood of my family under threat; circumstances appeared to indicate that their very lives might be under threat. I therefore felt it imperative that I withdraw the publication.

Despite the above, there is a definite bright side to all this. Now that I have abandoned work on the project, as well as my wife’s illness subsiding, I have become aware of the great value of remaining totally detached at all levels from the highly politicized internecine disputes that characterize Western Buddhism and instead, focusing on the Dharma itself.

I believe it was Jamgon Kongtrul the Great who observed that any sense of allegiance to a particular school, sect or view is a massive hindrance to the development of one’s own understanding. This allegiance to a particular faction, combined with the cult of personality endemic in Western Buddhist organizations nowadays, is, in my opinion, the basis of all that is wrong with Buddhism in the West in the 21st century.

At least in my own case, these obstacles have presented me with the opportunity to abandon involvement in endless childish games and instead focus on that which is truly meaningful. I only wish that others involved in this unholy row would realize this and stop fighting. Otherwise, it is only matter of time before naive and inexperienced Westerners, many of whom appear to consider themselves great experts in their faith despite having seen only one face of the jewel, destroy the Dharma. It took the Tibetans 1200 years to screw things up; we Westerners seem to have managed the same in less than 40!

With many, many thanks for you concern and good wishes,