The sale of Losang Dragpa Centre (Todmorden) and remortgaging of NKT properties

Here the NKT office replies to the questions raised in the comments to this article on 21 May 2010 by John Swainson. Thank you, John, for the opportunity to clarify.

(Q1)  Has the NKT used money from the sale of Losang Dragpa Centre (in Todmorden, West Yorkshire) for the development of centres abroad contrary to the Internal Rules?

No.

In accordance with Clause 9.1 of LDC’s Memorandum of Association and with section 17§5 of NKT-IKBU Internal Rules, the Spiritual Director of LDC (i.e. the General Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition~International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) advised that it would be most beneficial if LDC’s remaining assets could be given to Manjushri KMC, the original “Mother Centre” of the NKT-IKBU, for subsequent distribution to one (or more than one) other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU.  This proposal was checked with the Charity Commission, explaining that Manjushri KMC is a part of the NKT-IKBU charity, and was then formally adopted by the directors and members of LDC.

In this way the requirements of LDC’s constitution and of the Internal Rules were met.

The receipts from the sale of Dobroyd Castle were donated by LDC to the NKT-IKBU charity in October 2008. They were then designated by NKT-IKBU to International Temple Project purposes, where the funds would bring most benefit. Some of the funds were used to buy a property for Hotel Kadampa Holland in January 2009, and the rest contributed to subsequent international developments, all to promote the Buddhist Faith of the New Kadampa Tradition around the world in accordance with the charitable objects of LDC and of the NKT-IKBU.

Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC) was closed only because no NKT Teacher was qualified to improve the Centre spiritually or materially, given the history of spiritual impurity at the Centre.

In general, the trustees of a charity are bound by law to strive to realize the current market value of any assets that their charity offers for sale.  This is what the directors of LDC did when selling Dobroyd Castle.  Professional valuations of Dobroyd Castle made in previous years were  not relevant.

(Q2)  Has the NKT raised money, through remortgaging properties, to finance the International Temples Project (ITP) when those properties were in need of funds for development, contrary to the Internal Rules?

No.

Section 18§1 of the present NKT-IKBU Internal Rules says:  Since the purpose of opening NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres is to spread NKT Kadampa Buddhism, all the assets of these Dharma Centres shall be used only for this aim.  The annual profits made by each local NKT-IKBU Kadampa Buddhist Centre shall be used for the development of that Centre, including improvements to accommodation and so forth, and any remaining profit shall be donated to the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account of their respective country.

The purpose of this rule is twofold:  (1) to indicate to the directors of each Centre that annual profits should not merely be ‘hoarded’ by the Centre; and (2) to give clear guidance as to the most beneficial way to use surplus funds to promote the Buddhist Faith of the New Kadampa Tradition in accordance with the charitable objects of the Centre.

The rule does not otherwise limit the discretion of Centre directors as to how to use their existing Centre assets to promote the Buddhist Faith of the New Kadampa Tradition most effectively.

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24 Responses to The sale of Losang Dragpa Centre (Todmorden) and remortgaging of NKT properties

  1. Bill Esterhaus says:

    I rejoice that John Swainson knows the internal rules well enough to raise these questions. It’s also a good check to make sure that the internal rules are being followed – wonderful!

  2. Steve Rogers says:

    I am troubled by the vagueness of the phrase “history of spiritual impurity”. I attended a retreat at Losing Dragpa Centre, Dobroyd, in 2007 and was satisfied with every aspect of the experience. To my knowledge, no facts supporting the charge of spiritual impurity have been published, and I am left with the impression of a smear against LDC having been perpetrated by the NKT itself. Without properly explaining the closure of LDC, we can only imagine the truth. This provides a basis for gossip and further smears (which, in the absence of a clear report, are irrefutable); tends to tar the entire staff of LDC with the same brush (since no-one has been excluded from the criticism); and misses the important opportunity to educate the Kadampa sangha on what went wrong, depriving us of the best tool for preventing a recurrence. So we are now in the invidious position where, after several high-profile failures in our mother church, we do not know what happened, why it did, how to prevent it happening again (this is NOT the same as having disciplinary structures, which can only bolt the door after the horse has flown) and who was or was not involved. Meanwhile, investigative journalists, ill-wishers, fantasists, conspiracy addicts, and those claiming to have inside knowledge, all have the advantage over honest practitioners, who in their search for truth are being expected to do without the luxury of facts.

  3. Crescent Moon says:

    Steve, I can understand your concerns, and of course without clear public statements there is no way to be sure what happened.

    My assumption has been that individual people made mistakes, and that they were given the opportunity to learn and improve without having their reputations ruined. Should we always err on the side of full disclosure, no matter the cost to the people involved? There must be some threshold below which a matter can remain private.

    And of course, if some matters are going to remain private, then those who do not know their details will have no way of judging whether it was appropriate for them to remain private. I don’t know any way out of this problem other than trust. But for me, trust is preferable to everyone’s dirty laundry being hung out in public.

  4. Lineageholder says:

    I’m not sure we need to know exactly what happened, what good would it do? I think we have a curiosity and we like to tie loose ends together. All we can say is that it was our collective karma for Losang Dragpa centre to close. No doubt lessons have been learned individually and by NKT-IKBU managers. No doubt the Internal Rules have made things a lot clearer and there are guidelines that will prevent centres closing in the future. I’ve found I’ve learned my biggest lessons through my failures, so from the point of view, it’s useful to fail. All we can do is move on and try to improve individually and collectively.

  5. John Swainson says:

    Hello Crescent Moon

    I have seen the letter which came from head office and it said… ‘due to the actions of the last three teachers, the centre has now become impure’…

    It is public knowledge who these were. Samden, Samten and Chogkya, not sure if I used the right spelling there.

    So, the parent organization identified who was ‘to blame’.

    The Samden issue is well documented. What Samten did I have no idea.

    When Samten left, he was replaced by Chogkya.

    However, Samden returned to help her establish herself.

    He gave many teachings which were well attended, you could hardly move in the car park.

    What Chogkya did to contribute to ‘impurity’ I have no idea.

    She left one day, leaving a message on the notice board saying she ‘had made some mistakes’.
    Consider this…

    ‘when Khenrab was asked why no one from NKT came to help us after
    our teacher left so suddenly and all the rest he said “It would have been like throwing someone into the lion’s den”. It struck me hard… Comment by resident of LDC 2007.

    John Swainson

  6. Crescent Moon says:

    John, I think your clarification illuminates my point. There is a wide range of mistakes a teacher can make, and there must be some threshold below which they should be allowed some privacy. Of course in egregious circumstances like Samden’s behavior the truth has to come out, but people should be allowed some dignity and privacy around smaller mistakes.

    If we accept that smaller mistakes deserve privacy, then when things are kept private we can only trust that the mistakes are small. Personally I don’t mind trusting in that way regarding this situation, but of course each person has to make up his or her own mind.

  7. fishsalad says:

    Of course it was spiritually impure.
    The place came into being because of a cult that worships a goblin.

  8. Coqui says:

    Fishsalad,
    thanks for reminding everyone why this site is needed.
    Keep up the good work dispelling immature accusations, New Kadampa Truth.

  9. John Swainson says:

    The sale of Losang Dragpa Centre and remortgaging of NKT properties.

    Your reply to my first question stated…

    ‘In accordance with Clause 9.1 of LDC’s Memorandum of Association and with section 17§5 of NKT-IKBU Internal Rules, the Spiritual Director of LDC (i.e. the General Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition~International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) advised that it would be most beneficial if LDC’s remaining assets could be given to Manjushri KMC, the original “Mother Centre” of the NKT-IKBU, for subsequent distribution to one (or more than one) other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU. This proposal was checked with the Charity Commission, explaining that Manjushri KMC is a part of the NKT-IKBU charity, and was then formally adopted by the directors and members of LDC. In this way the requirements of LDC’s constitution and of the Internal Rules were met.’

    However, when I read that same section of the Internal Rules, this is what it says…

    ‘17§5. If any NKT-IKBU Dharma Centre is wound up or dissolved for any reason whatsoever, then after paying or adequately providing for the debts and obligations of the Centre, the remaining assets of the Centre shall be distributed to one or more than one other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU in the same country.’

    I draw your attention to the last four words in the above, which are ommitted from your statement…which reads…

    ‘…for subsequent distribution to one (or more than one) other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU.’

    The missing words are,’in the same country.’

    So how do the assets end up in Holland and funding other ‘international developments’?

    The Internal rules also state…

    ‘The Members of the Centre shall choose the recipient Centre(s), in consultation with the GSD.’

    Your statement above says…

    ‘…Spiritual Director of LDC (i.e. the General Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition~International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) advised that it would be most beneficial if LDC’s remaining assets could be given to Manjushri KMC.’

    At the time this was Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Are we to believe the members would oppose the wishes of the Spiritual Director?

    Another extract from the Internal Rules…

    ‘… gradually transforming … into independent NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres having their own charitable and financial status and their own Resident Teacher.’

    This would indicate the intention for all centres to be autonomous but coming under the umbrella of NKT-IKBU adhering to the stated rules.

    But

    The charity number for both Manjushri KMC and NKT-IKBU are the same, so I presume they are both one and the same in the eyes of the Charities Commission and that Manjushri KMC does not have have its own charitable status nor financial independence from NKT-IKBU.

    This is confirmed by the following statement.

    ‘In furtherance of its aims, at its Conishead Priory premises the charity also operates the residential Buddhist Centre Manjushri KMC.’ NKT-IKBU accounts 2008.

    So to transfer the assets to Manjushri KMC is the same as tranferring the money to NKT-IKBU

    Now we have the machinery for the assets to find their way abroad.

    ‘18§4. Annual profits made by the KMCs, international Retreat Centres, Tharpa Publications and Hotel Kadampas in each country throughout the world must be donated to an NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account.’

    There must be some reason for stating the assets of a centre, which is dissolved, must be distributed to one or more than one centre ‘in the same country’ as the wording about profits distribution of other centres, is different.

    For instance, ‘Annual profits made by the KMCs, International Retreat Centres, Tharpa Publications and Hotel Kadampas in each country throughout the world must be donated to an NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account.’

    Did the NKT-IKBU explain to the Charities Commission the situation omitting the words ‘in the same country’?

    Anyway, the rules state that assets from the dissolution of a centre should be donated to one or more centres in the same country, not to the IKBU.

    It is still my belief LDC was abandoned in order to realise the assets and use them to fund overseas projects and the Internal Rules were manipulated to make this possible.

    You made reference to the reason for the closure of LDC.

    ‘Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC) was closed only because no NKT Teacher was qualified to improve the Centre spiritually or materially, given the history of spiritual impurity at the Centre.’

    I saw the letter from Manjushri and it referred to the actions of the three previous teachers making the Centre impure.

    Are we to assume that the NKT is so impoverished with regard to the quality of teaching and moral discipline among its teachers that no one was qualified.

    I find this suprising having read the qualities and credentials of the teachers in the publications from all the Centres.

    Perhaps this may indicate the thinking of the powers that be at the time.

    “It would have been like throwing someone into the lion’s den,” was Khyenrab’s reply when asked why no one from NKT came to help us? Statement from ex – member of LDC.

    With none of the teachers there,responsible for the impurity, what was the fear?

    However…

    ‘12§3. As the moral discipline guides, the Education Council Representatives shall concentrate on the following three steps:

    (a) becoming aware of any breach of moral discipline or of these Internal Rules which has occurred, principally regarding (i) Dharma Centres, (ii) ordained Sangha, (iii) Resident Teachers and (iv) practitioners living in NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres.

    When any such problem is recognised, the Education Council Representatives should:

    (b) ask and encourage the Dharma Centre or individuals involved to stop their inappropriate behaviour. If they do not agree to change their behaviour accordingly:

    (c) report the problem to the Directors of the NKT-IKBU Charity, and then implement any practical solution that the Directors may require.

    Was the Education Council negligent in not applying the above or are we to believe after steps (a) & (b) were taken, that both Samten and Chokgya ignored The Educational Council Representatives and part (c) was implemented?

    When we consider the history regarding Samden and Thubten and their subsequent removal from office, I wonder how far abroad their influence was felt when in such an exalted position.

    Consider Brighton, the abdication of senior practitioners, the installation of a teacher who was allegedly found to have a questionable history and who left the post soon after.

    Why was the label ‘impure’ only attached to one centre?

    With reference to your second answer…

    ‘18§1. Since the purpose of opening NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres is to spread NKT Kadampa Buddhism, all the assets of these Dharma Centres shall be used only for this aim. The annual profits made by each local NKT-IKBU Kadampa Buddhist Centre shall be used for the development of that Centre, including improvements to accommodation and so forth, and any remaining profit shall be donated to the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account of their respective country.’

    The purpose of this rule is twofold: (1) to indicate to the directors of each Centre that annual profits should not merely be ‘hoarded’ by the Centre; and (2) to give clear guidance as to the most beneficial way to use surplus funds to promote the Buddhist Faith of the New Kadampa Tradition in accordance with the charitable objects of the Centre.

    On point one, this is from the accounts of NKT-IKBU 2008.

    ‘Retained surplus for the year, £ 2,873,471’

    I will play devil’s advocate and say ‘hoarded’ and ‘retained’ are synonymous?

    On point two, the financial records of both Heruka and Tara Centres show improvements etc. being put on hold through lack of finance as they had given large amounts to the Temples Fund.

    I accept your point about Centre directors using their discretion as to how to use existing Centre assets but feel they are more concerned with expansion around the world in preference to providing better facilities at properties they already own.

    John Swainson

  10. fishsalad says:

    Accurately researched John, thank you.
    I guess there isn’t a lot that can be be said in defence. Going off the response you’ve had.

  11. fishsalad says:

    Whats your thoughts Cocki ?

  12. Coqui says:

    My thought is that there seems to be no problem in that the assets of LDC were given to Manjushri, which is in the same country, and then the GSD and directors decided to help out Holland, thereby using the assets to benefit millions of people in Holland, potentially. I have nothing against the Dutch so I’m happy with the outcome. The charity commission are cognizant of all that was decided and agreed. In any organization, business decisions get made that some people like, some people don’t.

    It strikes me as fine to point out when things are not to one’s liking, and maybe they will be next time, but when things are not to our liking that is also life and to be expected.

    Meanwhile I rejoice in the hard work of all the students of Losang Dragpa Centre as this is now enabling people in Holland to receive the teachings. (We never know exactly how our virtuous actions will turn out.) And I hope those students are happy continuing their Dharma practice at other centres e.g. the one close by in Keighley.

  13. John Swainson says:

    Thankyou NKT team for the opportunity to respond to your clarification. I hope you will take ‘the opportunity to clarify’ the situation regarding my last post.

    John Swainson

  14. John Swainson says:

    I replied to Crescent Moon’s comment on 7th June but it disappeared.

    I can only assume it was moderated off the forum.

    For the sake of transparency, truth etc. then I feel all responses should be acceptable as long as they are within the bounds of reasonable discussion.

    For the record, here it is again.

    Dear Crescent Moon

    Remember the contents of the letter I quoted…’the actions of the previous three teachers, the centre has become impure’?

    Which minor misdemeanors would cause a centre to become ‘impure’?

    The Internal Rules say…

    8§3. The Resident Teacher’s commitments shall include:
    • to keep pure moral discipline and good behaviour;
    • to cherish and care for their Dharma Centre;
    • to teach only subjects that form part of the three NKT Study Programmes;
    • to apply continual effort to increase the number of students and branches of their Centre;
    • to send an annual progress report about their Centre to the GSD and to the Education Council Representatives;
    • to respect other spiritual traditions and try to maintain good relations with them, but the Resident Teacher shall not mix his or her teachings and spiritual practices with those of other spiritual traditions;
    • to act in accordance with these Internal Rules;
    • to make effort to attend the annual International Teacher Training Programme held at the Mother Centre of the NKT-IKBU, until he or she has completed the programme successfully;
    • to be the authorised representative of their Centre at all general meetings of the Charity (or to be an Individual Member of the Charity, if their Centre is not yet incorporated); and
    • to be a member of and participate in meetings and decisions of the Education Council.

    So, it could have been one or more of the above.

    However…

    12§3. As the moral discipline guides, the Education Council Representatives shall concentrate on the following three steps:
    (a) becoming aware of any breach of moral discipline or of these Internal Rules which has occurred, principally regarding (i) Dharma Centres, (ii) ordained Sangha, (iii) Resident Teachers and (iv) practitioners living in NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres.

    When any such problem is recognised, the Education Council Representatives should:

    (b) ask and encourage the Dharma Centre or individuals involved to stop their inappropriate behaviour. If they do not agree to change their behaviour accordingly:

    (c) report the problem to the Directors of the NKT-IKBU Charity, and then implement any practical solution that the Directors may require.

    Are we then to believe after the above steps have been taken that both Samten and Chokgya ignored The Educational Council Representatives and were then dismissed from their positions as they had caused the centre to become impure?

  15. Ruth says:

    Various people know the content of my post that you have rejected. The real truth will out, as they say. Hiding it only makes it more scandalous.

  16. newkadampatruth says:

    In response to John, the answer is yes.

    In answer to Ruth, we took a decision not to publish the details you supplied of Chokgya’s mistake because she has paid for this mistake, it is not actually a secret, and (as you yourself have pointed out) people know about it anyway, so why bring it up again.

    The main culprit was Samden Gyatso, without a doubt. Without his egregious breaking of moral discipline — of which everyone is painfully aware — the one Centre where he had the most influence would not have had to close, and the students remaining would not have had to move on to other Centres.

    Everyone makes mistakes. According to Buddha’s teachings, people should also be forgiven and allowed to move on. Therefore, we at New Kadampa Truth feel that it is not necessary to cause individuals’ reputations to be besmirched all over the Internet years later if it is not in the public interest. Leave them be. They have served their time.

    You might also be pleased to know that Samten is now teaching at KMC New York, where he is doing a very good job. He managed to complete a three-year retreat, which is no small accomplishment, and one that any sincere Buddhist can aspire to.

  17. Robert says:

    Dear Ruth,

    People accept positions in the NKT because they want to help others and spread the Dharma. Do we need to pick over the sordid details if their delusions get the better of them and they don’t succeed? At least they had a good intention. What’s yours?

  18. Crescent Moon says:

    Dear John,

    I agree with newkadampatruth’s response. I have no wish to speculate about the faults of Samten or Chogka. I can do much more good contemplating my own.

    Keep in mind that the internal rules have been a work in progress for nearly a decade, so the procedures outlined in them may not have been in place at the times you are talking about. But assuming these procedures are in place, don’t you think they would be done in private? Even in an ordinary business whose only purpose is to make profit for owners or shareholders, personnel matters are generally dealt with privately and discreetly. There is nothing wrong with this. People make mistakes, and they deserve to address those mistakes with discretion and dignity. Of course there are gross exceptions such as Samden’s misconduct, but they are not the rule.

    Since these things are dealt with privately, there is no basis for you or me to know how well these procedures are followed. Again, this is no different from any other normal organization. Of course a few people have to oversee these things, and then others have to trust them. Sometimes that goes wrong, too—this is samsara after all. But as I tried to express before, there must be room for privacy and discretion. If every single bit of everyone’s dirty laundry were aired publicly, how many people would be willing to be involved? The organization would collapse and accomplish nothing.

    I am not advocating that nothing is ever made public, but there must be a middle way. Personally, I am comfortable trusting that the people such as the Secretary of the NKT-IKBU, the TKMCDD, the General Spiritual Director, and so on (the upper management, if you will) are doing their best to handle these situations appropriately as they come up.

  19. Ruth says:

    My aim is truth and openess, particularly for Chogka’s ex students like myself who trusted her and her status as a pure Buddhist teacher implicitly.

    While I would agree that Samden was most responsible for what happened with Chokga, a teacher is a public figure and also a highly trusted and highly regarded person, and those whose trust was so severely betrayed need to know facts in order to process events and move on. Many of us can no longer bear to be Buddhist after our NKT experiences, and we need to heal in the world, not through being denied truth, bizarrely, in the name of the dharma.

    People can only make good decisions when they have the facts on which to base those decisions, but when I was in NKT facts were commonly denied to students as too potentially disturbing of our minds. Which, to me, makes the mind boggle!

  20. newkadampatruth says:

    We have included Ruth’s comment here, as she is answering something Robert asked her earlier. We still do not agree that it is necessary to invade Chokga’s privacy for all the reasons given above.

    However, we are very sad and sorry that as a result of everything that happened at Losang Dragpa — due mainly to Samden’s actions causing the centre to be closed — people have experienced a loss of faith.

  21. Ruth says:

    It’s good to know that some in the NKT truly regret the suffering caused by the closure of LDC.

    As I mentioned in private correspondence with the moderator over my last post here, the people of Todmorden and the surrounding area are still bewildered about what happened at LDC, why the Buddhists left after 12 years.

    If the NKT truly regrets their suffering, are they prepared to try to help those people with something like a press release in the local paper, Todmorden News, explaining things? Three years later I am still recognised as an ex-resident of Dobroyd/LDC and asked questions about it. One woman chased me along a busy road, so desperate was she to ask someone she thought might have answers for her.

  22. Ruth says:

    Would it be correct to interpret the silence following my last post as no one’s willing to even talk about it?

    Come on NKT, if you’re really trying to improve your image! I mean, I was on my way to being convinced …

  23. newkadampatruth says:

    Hi Ruth,

    I don’t think that follows. No one has replied to your comments but it doesn’t mean they are not willing to talk about it — they might simply have no more to say on the subject.

    You made a reasonable suggestion and perhaps a press release will be issued if it seems that is the right thing to do, and it is not considered too late. It is up to the NKT office. You can also write to them directly whenever you want.

    In the meantime, if anyone else chases you down the street, you can also refer them to this blog and suggest they write to the NKT office for clarification.

    Thank you again and best wishes.

  24. John Swainson says:

    The residents of Todmorden had supported the Losang Dragpa Centre for twelve years. They attended open days where in excess of £9000 was regularly raised. They came to Stop The Week events, usually over eighty people each time. The local primary school held concerts in aid of the roof fund. The Council usually offered grants. The Mayor and Councillors visited as did the tradespeople of the town so there was a link with the community. The article below gives details relating to a grant received by Losang Dragpa Centre.

    The announcement follows bids from more than 1,200 organisations to the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund. This is the second round of a £13.8 million fund to help organisations promote community cohesion and shared citizenship at a local community level. Phil Woolas said:
    “This demonstrates how we are stepping-up work in communities to promote understanding and cohesion by effectively engaging women, young people and hard to reach groups. We must continue to emphasise our sense of British-ness and the shared values which hold us together.
    “Faith organisations play an important role in our communities and know their communities well, we want to draw on the expertise of faith, interfaith and non faith based community groups and do all we can to support them.
    “This local approach will help reach directly into communities to promote shared citizenship and integration. It is vital that we find ways of bringing people from different faiths and cultures together to understand their differences and celebrate their shared experiences.
    “The programme has already made a significant impact where projects are up and running and I am certain we can build on this to develop practical solutions to promote community cohesion.”

    Bumper grant boost will save Dobroyd roof – Todmorden News

    Published Date: 8th March 2007
    By Staff Copy
    Water dripping into buckets does not aid meditation, however beautifully ornate the leaky roof.
    But now, thanks to a grant of £127,000 from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Buddhists at the Losang Dragpa Centre at Dobroyd Castle, Todmorden will be able to repair the roof and save the intricate stone-work dating back to 1869.
    “The Buddhists here have done a great job of renovating and redecorating the castle room by room over the years. But they’ve never had the capital to tackle the roof, which is a huge problem,” said Trevor Mitchell, English Heritage team leader for West Yorkshire.
    Trevor explained the first step would be to bring in architects and surveyors to assess the situation as the flat roof leaks in a number of places, stone-work is suffering from water damage and the tower is showing signs of cracking. The grant will go a long way to fund the roof repair but the Buddhists will have to raise funds to complete the scheme, which will cost in the region of £200,000.

    “There have been times when I’ve tried to meditate and all I could hear was dripping water. I’ve had to go up into the attic with a bucket to stop it dripping before I could continue,” said Kelsang Tsalden, who has been a resident at the Buddhist centre for seven years.
    Members of the community have brought the castle back to life after it stood empty for a number of years. Paint has been stripped from ornate wood panelling and most rooms have had a face lift, but resident nun Kelsang Longku, admitted it was a never-ending programme, like painting the Forth Bridge. Even the leaky roof has been tackled by working parties of volunteers patching the cracked asphfalt but the roof coverings and drainage systems need to be replaced.
    Gen Chokga, the centre’s resident teacher, said: “Receiving the grant is wonderful for us. It will mean that we can begin essential work to protect the fabric of this beautiful building, for the benefit of generations of Buddhist and non-Buddhist visitors alike. Without the help of English Heritage and HLF this would not be possible.”
    The grant is part of a regional programme of support, totalling £1.6 million, for 15 churches and places of worship across Yorkshire and Humberside, to target eroded masonry, leaky roofs and damaged stained glass windows.
    Fiona Spiers, Heritage Lottery Fund manager for the region, said: “By focusing on the most urgent repair needs, often with quite modest grants, this joint Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage scheme supports the efforts of local people and makes a significant difference to the long-term prospects for buildings like the Buddhist Centre.”

    Castle mystery as monks quit – Todmorden News
    Published Date: 30 August 2007
    By Carol Longbottom

    Monks have left Todmorden causing concern for the future of a historical landmark.
    The Losang Dragpa Centre, a Buddhist centre based at Dobroyd Castle, Todmorden has closed its doors after 12 years.
    Fears have been expressed as to the future of the building, which fell into disrepair when left empty before the Buddhists arrived in 1995. And scheduled work for renovation of the roof has been left in the balance.
    Todmorden Town Councillor and a Friend of Dobroyd Castle David O’Neill expressed his shock at hearing the news of the Buddhists’ sudden departure.
    “I heard there had been a meeting last Friday at which they decided to close it and now it’s shut. I’m obviously really concerned about the building because I remember when it was closed for years before the Buddhists’ bought it. My first fear was they were just going to leave at once but there was someone there when I went up,” said Coun O’Neill, who lives close to the castle, which has been run as an approved school for boys by the Home Office and then as a privately run school for boys with emotional and behavioural problems before its transformation into a Buddhist centre.
    “There were a number of people interested in turning it into a hotel or a computer centre before the Buddhists bought it but as far as I understand there was a covenant placed on the building by the Fielden family stipulating it must be used for educational purposes,” added Coun O’Neill.
    In March this year the Buddhists celebrated their successful bid for funding to renovate the leaking roof and save the intricate stone-work, which dates back to 1869. The grant for £127,000 from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund would have gone a long way to funding the repairs and the Buddhists were hoping to raise the remaining funds to complete the scheme, which it is estimated will cost in the region of £200,000.
    Trevor Mitchell, team leader for English Heritage in West Yorkshire, said he was aware the Buddhists were closing the centre.
    “We have just found out about it. It’s early days and we will contact them formally about how they want to proceed.
    “They have had a small development grant of around £10,000 or £15,000 to find out what needs doing. The risk to the public purse is relatively small,” said Mr Mitchell.
    “But even though they have closed the centre it doesn’t mean they have walked away from the building. People are still there at the moment looking after it.”
    During its time as the Losang Dragpa Centre the castle was home to about 20 monks and nuns at any one time and offered a range of activities for visitors, including meditation courses, weekend retreats, a cafe and annual summer fairs.
    The castle was bought by the monks of the New Kadampa Buddhist Tradition for £320,000 in 1995. The tradition has centres in 40 countries worldwide with over 40 centres in England alone. In February this year the tradition acquired the 18th century 38-bedroom Chateau de Segrais set in 56 acres, just outside Le Mans in France.
    No-one from the New Kadampa Buddhist Tradition was available to comment on the closure of Losang Dragpa Centre.

    As an ex-resident I know we were told not to talk to the press, secrecy was paramount.

    Did the NKT not feel they had some duty to the community which had supported it for so long?

    Following the closure this appeared on the Internet.

    A group of walkers along the part of Pexwood Road within the castle grounds were confronted by one of the monks from the castle.
    They were asked if thay had seen the signs. They replied “No”. They were told that they were trespassing on private land and were not permitted to walk there. The walkers continued on their route through the grounds.
    Locals will know just how beautiful the grounds are at this time of year. As the “Trespassing” signs go up around the castle we will be taking the opportunity to assert our rights to walk through the grounds.

    It was usual for the grounds to be accessible to the general public for the purpose of walking.

    So, Losang Dragpa Centre featured large in the lives of many Todmorden residents and, as you can see, there was dismay at its closure. As soon as it closed it became a no go area, even to those who had supported it for many years.

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