Information on Mi-Zong Buddhism; any reports of a raid on Sheda Larong College in Tibet in March 2001 [CHN40533.E]

Although information specifically referring to "Mi-Zong" Buddhism was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate, the section entitled "Buddhism" on the Communist Party of Vietnam's Website equates Mi-Zong with Mantrayana Buddhism (Vietnam n.d.). Mantrayana, according to the teachings of Geshe Wangdrak (Losang Tenzin) of Tibet, is one of several forms of Budddhist practice and stems from a major sect of Buddhism called Mahayana (Tibet 10 Nov. 1997). The Encyclopedia of Religion states that "the Diamond Vehicle (Vajrayana)3/4where diamond means "the unsplittable"3/4or the Mantra Vehicle (Mantrayana)3/4where mantra means "magical speech"" is a practice that combines yoga and ritual (1987, 472).

In correspondence sent to the Research Directorate, a professor and head of the Department of Oriental Philosophy and Cultural Studies at St. Petersburg State University maintained that

[p]ractically [Mi-Zong] is just the same as Mantrayana (there may be some slight and insignificant differences in connotations of [the] two terms but not of practical importance).
Mizong or Mi-tsung (Secret Sect or School) is a title of Chinese or Japanese ... Tantric Buddhist teachings and practices known as well as Vajrayana (Tib. Theg-pa rdor-rje), Diamond Path. The Tibetans do not use this Chinese word to [refer to] their Tantric practices, but Tantism ... or Vajrayana is [an] extremely important aspect of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism (12 Dec. 2002).

Tibet has historically been a significant source of Tantric Buddhist practice and literature (Encyclopedia of Religion 1987, 474). Tantric Buddhism

accept[s] the old Buddhist ontology of three worlds filled with deities and demons, and contribute[s] the premise that one can relate to these forces by ritualistic manipulation of one's nature (body, speech, and mind), thereby attaining "success" (siddhi) in such mundane forms as appeasing the deities, or the supermundane success of winning complete enlightenment (Buddhahood), possible in a single lifetime (ibid., 473).

No reports of a March 2001 raid on a college by the name of "Sheda Larong" were found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

However, several reports of the expulsion of approximately 4,500 monks and nuns (TLT 30 Sept. 2001) by Chinese police from the Serthar (or Sethar) Buddhist Institute in the Larung Gar valley beginning in May 2001 (ibid.) were accessed (ibid.; AFPC 28 Aug. 2001; TIN 8 Nov. 2001; ibid. 19 Aug. 2001; International Religious Freedom Report 2002 7 Oct. 2002, "Tibet," Sec. 11). During this time, Chinese authorities destroyed over 1,000 homes of the residing monks and nuns (AFPC 28 Aug. 2001). Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog, the founder and senior teacher of the Institute, was forcibly relocated for one year (TIN 25 July 2002; ibid. 8 Nov. 2001), and clergy were forced to denounce the Dalai Lama (AFPC 28 Aug. 2001).

According to the International Religious Freedom Report 2002 for China, foreign observers believed that Chinese authorities were concerned about the size of the institution and Khenpo's influence (7 Oct. 2002, "Tibet," Sec. 11). The expulsion at Serthar also occurred shortly after China's Vice President, Hu Jintao, stated that "'illegal activities under the cover of religion must be resolutely stopped and punished according to law'" (AFP 6 Mar. 2001). Although Khenpo has since been allowed to return to the Serthar Institute, "the situation ... is reportedly still tense" (TIN 25 July 2002). For further information on the treatment of Buddhists in China, including at the Serthar Institute, please refer to CHN38776.E of 15 April 2002.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 6 March 2001. "Chinese Leader Calls for Smashing of Religious Dissent in Tibet." (World Tibet Network News 7 Mar. 2001) [Accessed 11 Dec. 2002]

American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC). 28 August 2001. China Reform Monitor. No. 405. Edited by Al Santoli. "Chinese Police Force Tibetan Monks, Nuns From Monastaries." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2002. 7 October 2002. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

Encyclopedia of Religion. 1987. Vol. 2. Edited by Mircea Eliade. NewYork: MacMillan Publishing Company.

Head of the Department of Oriental Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Faculty of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia. 12 December 2002. Correspondence.

International Religious Freedom Report 2002. 7 October 2002. "China." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

Tibet. 10 November 1997. The Government of Tibet in Exile. Geshe Wangdrak (Losang Tenzin). "An Introduction to the Kalachakra." [Accessed 12 Dec. 2002]

Tibet Information Network (TIN). 25 July 2002. "Return of Senior Teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog to Serthar Buddhist Institute." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

_____. 8 November 2001. "Serthar Teacher Now in Chengdu; New Information on Expulsions of Nuns at Buddhist Institute." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

_____. 19 August 2001. "Expulsions of Nuns and Students Threaten Survival of Important Tibetan Buddhist Institute." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2002]

Tibetan Liberation Theater (TLT). 30 September 2001. "Report From Tibet." [Accessed 12 Dec. 2002]

Vietnam. n.d. Communist Party of Vietnam. "Buddhism." [Accessed 11 Dec. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Unsuccessful attempt to obtain information from the Canada Tibet Committee.

Internet sites, including:


Canada Tibet Committee

Country Reports


Freedom House

International Tibet Support Network

Quiet Mountain

Students for a Free Tibet

Tibet Information Network: Religion

Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy: Annual Report 2001