@Steve_H Since you wrote that all comments are welcome: frankly, I’d be very, very careful with the NKT sect.
When the Dalai Lama visited my city some years ago and gave a public talk to a huge crowd, I became witness of how NKT sect members came with several buses and actively interrupted and tried to disturb his talk on several occasions.
About two dozens of the sect members (absolute majority of them non-tibetans) played huge drums and chanted “Hey Dalai Lama, Stop Lying!” for hours. Very aggressive and tense atmosphere.
I am not a follower of the Gelug school or the Dalai Lama, and I was curious, so I tried to talk to one of the demonstrating sect members… and it was like talking to a radical, brain-washed person.
The person did not want to engage in a conversation but kept repeating how the Dalai Lama was not the “real Dalai Lama” and is actually a liar, and had forbidden to worship Dorje Shugden etc… a real conversation was not possible and I left after a few minutes.
Later on that day, the Dalai Lama gave another talk in the town hall, which I also attended. Several NKT sect members were constantly disrupting his talk. One male sect member started screaming and yelling before he had to be escorted out by security.
Another one asked the D.L. how he could have allowed tibetan children to be traumatized because he had endorsed foster programs after the Chinese invasion of Tibet where children were taken to foster families to Switzerland.
The Dalai Lama then asked his translator to answer that question and the tanslator (a Tibetan) then gave a heart-wrenching account that he had been one of those children and that that foster program had helped save many tibetan children from starvation and hardship since shortly after the Tibetan exodus there was not enough food, money, infrastructure etc. in the refugee camps in India. The question was clearly aimed at trying to discredit him but the personal, sincere first hand account of his translator spoke for itself.
What sticks stronlgy in my memory for that day was a very un-buddhist, aggressive and even fanatical NKT guerilla-type action that day, designed to smear the Dalai Lama and to disrupt the event.
The tibetan schools that I had encountered so far were more concerned with dharma practice than with this sort of aggressive political activism. Very strange.
Regarding Dorje Shugden:
For NKT followers, they see Dorje Shugden as an enlightened manifestation of Manjushri, others see him as a lower (i.e. unenlightened) wrathful protector deity (e.g. like the Sakya-school) , and still others see him as a demonic being.
Some accounts report that the Dalai Lama’s teacher at some point in time stopped maintaining Dorje Shugden practice and adviced the Dalai Lama to check on the purity of Dorje Shugden’s energy.
The Dalai Lama himself then discontinued his Dorje Shugden practice due to his belief that Dorje Shugden’s energy was impure and not enlightened and asked his followers (basically all of the Gelugpas) to discontinue as well, although traditionally it was a widely maintained practice.
Supposedly, the Dalai Lama was so convinced of the impurity of Dorje Shugden’s energy that he proclaimed that Dorje Shugden practitioners continuing the practice were not allowed to participate in the Kala Chakra ritual.
This caused a controversy within the Gelug-tradition since the Dorje Shugden practice was widely practiced.
Perhaps you have had your own experiences with tantric deity practices and perhaps even connected to Dorje Shugden yourself.
In my opinion tantric deity practices can be dangerous depending on the type of energy with which one connects.
I personally cannot comment about Dorje Shugden’s energy, but, I’d at least be very, very careful if the Dalai Lama is convinced that Dorje Shugden’s energy is impure and advises against continuing this practice, being an authority on many meditation practices and widely respected by all major tibetan schools of buddhism and bön.
Entering and maintaining tantric connections involves trust and a leap of faith until the Deity’s energy is experienced. Since you merge with the deity’s energy, this can be problematic if the energy does not have a high degree of purity and does not radiate compassion and love to all sentient beings of all creeds and faiths… that energy can be very powerful, overwhelming and can influence the practicioner… on and off the meditation cushion. Attachment to certain experiences can grow and with that also dependencies… and what happens with one’s personal autonomy then?
Interestingly, other buddhist traditions such as for example the Nyingmapas have their own account on the story of Dorje Shugden, so do the Sakyas.
I found this interesting paper which seems to describe the controvery in a balanced way and although it is in german, google translate or deepl.com will easily make it available, if of interest: