Nathaniel’s 31 Reasons for Leaving the NKT

Please note: Nathaniel has recently written an apology on his blog for his criticisms of the NKT and Geshe Kelsang and he has deleted the blog entry where the criticisms were listed. We’d like to commend him for his courage and honesty in doing this.

As you can see in the comments section, Nathaniel has requested us to delete the reply we made to answer his points, but unfortunately his criticisms are widely available on the internet from a number of anti-NKT sources: therefore, we have made the decision that our response needs to remain. Sorry, Nathaniel, we hope you understand why we have to do this. We wish you all the best with your future study and practice of Dharma.

Not long ago, a young man called Nathaniel Whiteman posted 31 allegations against the NKT on various Internet sites — all reasons, he said, for leaving the NKT. He created his own blog and repeated them there, from whence they have spread to other anti-NKT blogs or websites. He wrote to New Kadampa Truth saying that he would remove them or change them on his blog if he got replies.

Here is the letter that New Kadampa Truth wrote back to him last week. The only reason we publish it here is that he has not changed his blog as he promised. These 31 allegations are now public on the Internet and so we need publicly to address them. Please let us know if you have any more questions about any of them once you’ve had a chance to read the replies.

Nathaniel’s letter to the New Kadampa Truth team:

“Here is a list I have compiled, please address each of the following points that I have made in this email on your website new kadampa the truth, I also see that on the website you pick out 5 people who are spreading the the nktsmear campaign. I want you to do that with me as well.You have until the 30th of August or I will go to the press and possibly even take leagle action against Amoghasiddhi Centre and Chris Heyes for getting me to come to the united kingdom on false pretences. I am not affraid to talk about my experience in the nkt, so please do not take me lightly.”

Dear Nathaniel,

As promised in an earlier email, here are the replies from New Kadampa Truth and from your former teachers and friends. I am not worried about your going to the press or taking legal action but I do still thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify things.

I know you are hurting a great deal and sufficiently angry to have already gone ahead and made all your accusations publicly without discussing these first with the people they concern; and I am sorry for that. (Was it because you really do want to be one of the people deliberately spreading smears against the NKT as you suggest above?! I hope not). But despite that, I still hope these replies are not too late to help clarify things for you personally, especially those replies that specifically concern you; and that you will be able to find some closure. (Your letter was immensely long so I’m afraid this reply will have to be even longer!)

1. Your personal accusations against Nagarjuna Centre and Amoghasiddhi Centre

I wrote to Bridget and Chris Heyes with your accusations and they have replied to all of them. They also checked with their Centres to see that what they wrote was accurate. Amanda Day (Administrative Director at Nagarjuna Centre) held a Director’s meeting where she read your email and the replies. The Directors of Nagarjuna Centre fully support all the refutations. Chris gave the same information to his Company Secretary and Centre Managers, who also fully support all refutations.

However, I would like to add that the useful thing about complaints is that they give us the opportunity to check our behaviour too. The teachers and managers are able to hold up the mirror of complaints to see if there are ways in which they could improve themselves for the future.

Chris Heyes put out an advert for Amoghasiddhi Café Assistant position, which included details of condition of stay, sponsorship and details of work hours etc. Nathaniel Whiteman responded to the advert. Chris contacted Legden, Nathaniel’s teacher in South Africa, who gave excellent references. Nathaniel’s visa was initially refused but he then appealed and was granted a 5-year student visa. This visa included the condition that he would receive sponsorship from the Centre for working in the café. To support his application, the Centre had to send to the authorities a copy of accounts, proof of the Centre’s existence etc. Therefore, the conditions of his stay in England were very clear to Nathaniel and to the Home Office; there were no deceptive actions as Nathaniel is claiming. The Administrative Director at Amoghasiddhi Centre has a copy of his application.

At that time Kelsang Chodor was the café manager and Nathaniel worked with him as his assistant. Kelsang Chodor later disrobed, and this probably influenced Nathaniel adversely. Nathaniel then suggested a friend from South Africa, Antony Passmore, for the position of café manager. Antony Passmore was interested and accepted the position. Nathaniel was offered the position of café manager but did not wish for it and was happy to work along with Antony Passmore.

From January this year to the present date Nathaniel became increasingly more unhappy, angry, discouraged and disruptive within Amoghasiddhi Centre. He had requested ordination prior to arriving at Amoghasiddhi Centre and was due to ordain at the summer festival. Chris was concerned about him ordaining as he felt he was unstable. However, he was adamant he wanted to ordain. Chris talked on a number of occasions with Nathaniel about his disruptive behavior, especially in public areas such as the café. It became obvious that Nathaniel was not suitable to continue in his position and Chris suggested that he go to Nagarjuna Centre for a working holiday up to the festival and then return to South Africa. Nathaniel seemed very pleased with Chris’s suggestions

While he was at Nagarjuna Centre, he assisted in the café for about 2 weeks. He seemed fine and quite happy. However, he formed a friendship with a person who has a lot of anger towards the NKT because of the recent demonstrations.

Just before the festival, Nathaniel asked to return to Amoghasiddhi Centre to pick up his personal things and do a working holiday weekend. Chris and Amanda felt this would be okay as he seemed more settled. However, once he was back at Amoghasiddhi Centre, he requested sponsorship money. This was refused as his terms of stay had changed. As a result of this and a heated discussion with Antony Passmore, he became very volatile and had to be asked to leave the Centre. He was offered money for his travel fare to Nagarjuna Centre, but refused it and left for London

The Education Program Coordinator from Amoghasiddhi Centre received a call from him during the festival requesting help. She was not in a position to help him so phoned Chris, who told her to get him to either contact him or Amanda and they would organize help for him. That was the last we heard from him.

This email from Nathaniel was not sent to Chris, Bridget or the managers of Amoghasiddhi or Nagarjuna Centre; he never expressed a desire to discuss it with them before posting it on the Internet. We can send exact dates and further details of his visa etc if needed

2. Allegations about Nagarjuna Centre

Allegation 11: “There are about 4 people at Nagarjuna who were previously ordained none of them seem to be mentally stable”

Geshe Kelsang allows people who have disrobed to return to Centres as residents if they meet the necessary conditions. Nagarjuna Centre has accepted 3 previously disrobed people who live at the centre in a community of 30 people. They are well thought of by the Centre management, and their resident teacher and peers.

Allegation 12: “2 students at nagarjuna centres sponsorship has suddenly stopped, so they had to return to their own country”

During the time Nathaniel was at Nagarjuna Centre, there were 2 students who had been previously part-sponsored, who returned to their country of origin for a holiday. They returned for the festival and are currently negotiating residency at another Centre in the UK. Their intention is to remain in England. (Update: They are at another UK Centre now.)

Allegation 23: “peoples accommodation and food and travels to the demos if didn’t arrange them? I witnessed this at Nagarjuna Centre. But you can ask questions because you lack faith in your guru an enlightened being”

Nagarjuna Centre hosted accommodation for UK demos. All funds for this were provided by a private beneficiary; no Centre funds were used.

3. Allegations about Bridget Heyes

Allegation 7: “At nagarjuna centre, the resident teacher Kadam Bridget is believed to be Tara. In her flat she is allowed to eat meat and watch tv, no one else is…”

We have no control over how people view Bridget; however she does not encourage her students to view her as a deity. Bridget has 2 children. All children living in Dharma Centres (full time) are given the choice of TV for their entertainment and to eat meat, as long as this is done discreetly within their own home.

Allegation 8: Bridget daughter earns 5 pounds an hour to work in the café, and I up until I began receiving nothing earned that in 6 hours “

The café sponsors two people full time. In addition they have relief helpers who assist on a regular basis at £5 an hour; Bridget’s daughter is one of these. Also, working holiday volunteers (who work in return for board, lodging and all classes) may be allocated to help in the café; Nathaniel was one of these.

Allegation 9: “At nagarjuna centre students are asked to donate to bridget so that she can take her kids on vacation”

Nagarjuna Centre students happily sponsor Bridget and the children to attend the NKT Festivals with Geshe Kelsang. Without taking the children, Chris and Bridget could not both attend the Festivals.

Allegation 10: “Apparently she earns 500 pounds a month”

Bridget does not earn £500 a month. The Centre sponsors Bridget £160 per month as Resident Teacher (plus lodging). Chris is sponsored £110 per month as the resident artist (this is covered by the income from the art department). Some of the students of the centre have chosen to sponsor Bridget a total of £120 per month to help with childcare costs.

Allegation10 (contd) : “… and doesn’t go to ittp, rarely attends pujas and often doesn’t teach her classes…”

Bridget attends pujas and teaches FP & TTP classes at Nagarjuna Centre. She also teaches regular weekend courses, day courses and empowerments. She also teaches courses at Drolma Centre, Amoghasiddhi Centre and Samantabhadra Centre.

As Chris is one of the NKT Temples artists and resident teacher at Amoghasiddhi Centre, sometimes if he is away Bridget nees to care for the children and will arrange for morning FP (7am) to be covered by another teacher.

Allegation10 (contd) : “… her festivals, food, accomidation, childrens accomidation, car and husbands accomidation are also paid for.”

All Resident Teachers receive accommodation at their Centre as part of their sponsorship. Bridget purchased her own car but receives help with transport costs.

4. Allegations about Amoghasiddhi Centre

Allegation6: “I have been removed from amoghasiddhi centre and was placed in nagarjuna centre because of bad behavior and all funds to me stopped.”

At Chris’s suggestion, Nathaniel agreed to go to Nagarjuna Centre on a working holiday as he was unhappy at Amoghasiddhi Centre and needed a change. Nathaniel was aware that Nagarjuna Centre would not be able to sponsor him. The plan was for him to spend 2 to 3 weeks at Nagarjuna Centre on a working holiday (full board and lodging and classes), attend the Summer Festival, and then return home in September to his family home in South Africa.

Allegation24: “I had to work some times up to 50 hours of so called voluntary work at the centre, I asked for one day off and got told no we don’t want to make antony unhappy… what about my happiness? Oh it doesn’t matter because Im leaving any way!”

Nathaniel agreed to work 35 hours a week. The café is open 9.30am to 3pm five days a week. If he worked longer hours, we are sorry for overlooking this because it is not in keeping with the contract of 35 hours per week for people working at NKT Centres (to give them time for study and meditation). We will try and be more careful with our café staff in future. At the time, we did not know about it because he never complained of it.

Allegation 28: “At Amoghasiddhi centre there have been 4 people who disrobed in its 3 or 4 years of existence, and has had about 5 or café managers, it must be a pure place, these people must be teaching me a lesson, they are deluded I must not be so deluded, I must allow Guru Buddha into my heart.”

One person has disrobed at Amoghasiddhi Centre. In 4 years there have been 4 café managers.

Allegation31 : “, at Amoghasiddhi Centre people pay 35 pounds a month to receive teachings from a teacher who is only her 2 days a week some weeks and the class is often led by DanBeenham who is not a qualified teacher nor even studying on ttp.”

Chris Heyes is Resident Teacher at Amoghasiddhi Centre and present for 3 days a week. Sometimes he is there longer for weekend courses or other Centre duties such as publicity etc. Chris is also an NKT artist and when requested to go to a Temple to paint and during ITTP (or, recently, when his mother was seriously ill) Dan teaches the classes. Dan is a sincere student and teacher, who has been studying Dharma for many years.

Allegation19: “Antony passsmore and Tsepho (who ever) will be taking ordination this year. Nice the nkt could do with a person who refers to Vajradhara as a blue dude and a gay man who is terminally ill and wont take his medication because the illness comes from his mind and geshelas dharma is the only cure!”

We have no knowledge of Antony’s suggested illness or sexuality. Certainly, if he needs to be on medication, we believe he should take it.

Allegation21 : “I was told not to speak about Kelsang Chodor who disrobed. And heard people tell people that he left because of his ill health AND NOT THE TRUTH which is that he left because he came to Amoghasiddhi centre on ” false pretences” just like myself”

Chris is not aware of Nathaniel being told not to talk about Kelsang Chodor. It was clear to the community that he left due to bad health, and personal issues about ordination and organised religion.

Allegation22: “At the Amoghasiddhi centre where antony passmore is now the café manager (and the only person not moving out of the centre) is on a sponsored position. As a part of his sponsorship he gets accommodation and food as well as a 115 pound donation a month. Recently I witnessed the centre filling out a form for housing benifit s on his behalf which he was just asked to sign. If the benefit was granted amoghasiddhi centre could receive funds from the government to cover Antonys rent that he doesn’t have to pay for! This is a case at many centre throughout the uk and the british government have launched an investigation into this freud!”

Antony is sponsored as café manager and receives board and lodging and £110 per month. Housing Benefit was discussed with him due to the Centre being up for sale and the fact that there was a prospective buyer, in which case the café would have closed and the café manager position dissolved. However, as the sale of the property fell through, Antony never applied for housing benefit and his full sponsorship remains.

5. Allegations about Kelsang Legden

20) Kelsang Osel was told by Kelsang Legden her teacher at the time that she should not have her cancer removed, but rather allow it to purify it self by letting the karma ripen,

I contacted Kelsang Legden, who said that he never advised Osel not to have her cancer removed.

she went ahead with the surgerry but before she did she was (very cleverly) forced to leave the centre (in her own free will) in a terible state, she is now a working nun who lives on her own out side of the nkt

Legden says that the reason why she left the Centre had nothing to do with her illness at all. She did not adapt to community life and chose to leave. He added: “Kelsang Osel has moved to another town but is still studying on correspondence Teacher Training Program and is happy with her new life. Community life did not suit her but she still enjoys the teachings.”

From Osel’s own letter to you, that you included, it seems that she is content and still practicing Dharma.

6. Your general allegations against the NKT

1) Samden Gyatso (the 2nd ex national spiritual director of the nkt) had sexual relations with many women for a very long time (using tantra as an excuse), the only reason he ever disrobed is becuase one of the nuns tried to commit suicide after falling pregnant with his child, only then did Kelsang Gyatso do some thing about it.

Samden Gyatso’s behaviour cannot be justified and it has been condemned without equivocation.
There is no truth in your allegation that a nun fell pregnant and tried to commit suicide. Despite Samden Gyatso’s negative behaviour, there was no cover-up, as you imply. This following factual explanation comes from the ex-monk who was originally implicated on the New Kadampa Survivors chat group in December 2006 as being the one to reveal that there was a cover-up, from which all subsequent speculation and gossip has stemmed.

In November 2005, the ex-monk wrote to Geshe Kelsang to explain his recent suspicions about Samden’s behaviour, based mainly on the kind of advice Samden had given him. When Geshe Kelsang asked the ex-monk if he had anything definite to base his suspicions on, he replied that he had not, and was then requested not to repeat such things without evidence. The ex-monk wrote again to Geshe Kelsang in January 2006 with more detail and explanation, again saying he had no proof, he had not seen anything directly, and no one had confided in him; but he had a strong suspicion. Geshe Kelsang replied that he had confronted Samden, but that Samden had said: “Nothing this person says is true.”  At that time, Geshe Kelsang told the ex-monk: “I understand that it is my responsibility to maintain the purity of the tradition, and I will keep what you told me in my heart.”

Samden Gyatso was removed from his position in February 2007 for different reasons given in a letter sent to all the Resident Teachers. Once Samden was removed, a few people came forward with their stories, and evidence of his negative behaviour was then available for the first time. As a result of this, and after Samden/Steven Wass had written a proud and strange letter to some NKT Resident Teachers, Geshe Kelsang wrote back a strongly-worded condemnation of his behaviour that he copied to all the Resident Teachers.

The silver lining in this dark cloud, if there can be such a thing, is that since Samden’s negative behaviour came to light, the NKT Internal Rules have been changed so that teachers are more accountable in general and the General Spiritual Director (GSD) is now appointed for a term-limit of only four years (as opposed to a maximum of sixteen years in the previous edition of the Internal Rules). After the four-year term in office the GSD now returns to his or her previous Centre as the Resident Teacher. It is hoped that this will go a long way to making sure the NKT is a humble democratic organization with no build-up of power in one individual in the future. Furthermore, Geshe Kelsang and others in the NKT are trying to help individually anyone affected negatively by Samden’s behaviour.

If you have any more questions about this, please ask us. The NKT is not attempting to hide anything. We are not a perfect organization, we are continually trying to improve our service, and where we see things going wrong we try to correct it as soon as possible in a clear and transparent manner.

2) a Resident Teacher has been caught on numerous occasions watching pornography on the centre computer, he is still ordained!

This old news has been blown out of all proportion. The monk in question apologized for the transgression. Many people engage in this kind of behaviour and few are publicly humiliated for it. Personally, I think it is time to leave him alone.

3) Lodro the ex teacher of Heruka centre in london ran off with Togme the ex teacher of Bodhisatva centre in Brighton.

This is true. They are of course no longer teaching and have disrobed. Ordained people anywhere, of any spiritual tradition, finding it difficult to keep a celibate lifestyle is nothing new. There are plenty of examples of respected Western teachers in other traditions who have disrobed, Robert Thurman and Stephen Batchelor to name but two.

What’s important here is that the NKT has made it very clear that it does not condone such activity and that there are serious consequences to disrobing. For example, someone who has disrobed will never be able to teach in the NKT again (this is unlike some other traditions, which do allow disrobed Sangha to continue teaching). The point of such consequences is to help people consider very carefully before ordaining, and then, obviously, to watch their minds and moral discipline while they are ordained.

4) The Current residet teacher in Bodhisatva centre has just ran off with her 3rd man.

Are you saying that she’d already run off twice before? I think not. What is true is that sadly the now previous Resident Teacher of Bodhisattva Center has disrobed, and, it seems, that, yes, a man was involved. Is she proud of her action? No … she is, according to her family, very regretful.

However, it might be said that as an ordained person you are holding yourself to higher standards of conduct than most. Consequently you have further to fall. A great number of Tibetans and Westerners from other traditions have broken their moral discipline. The NKT is by no means alone in this, although it seems to be the only one criticized for it so publicly.

Buddhist ordination is still new in the West. Also, and I speculate, possibly the NKT has still been experiencing some of the fall-out from the disrobing of Samden Gyatso. Be that as it may, in the NKT we do try to support those who wish to undertake an ordained lifestyle and to respond with compassion if they are no longer able to do so. Hopefully, with time there will be less disrobings.

5) Kadam Lucy james from florida in the us and kadam Bjorn have been asked to step down from teaching by Kelsang Gyatso himself because they expressed concern over the Western Shugden Society.

It is true that Kadam Bjorn did express concerns about the demonstrations; after all, he was the recipient of death threats in 1996 from Tibetans loyal to the Dalai Lama in Switzerland. Out of concern for Bjorn’s safety, Geshe Kelsang asked Bjorn to resign. Later when Geshe Kelsang asked if Bjorn would like to resume his previous roles, Bjorn respectfully declined for personal and professional reasons. There is no disagreement or disharmony between Geshe Kelsang and Bjorn, and, in fact, Bjorn was at the forefront during the demonstrations in Germany.

However, these types of accusations do point to a larger issue: Neither Lucy or Bjorn have made any complaints about what took place and by all accounts stayed happy and peaceful throughout. They remain loyal and practicing disciples of Geshe Kelsang and the NKT. As long as that’s the case, then what happens between them and their Spiritual Guide is, quite frankly, their business and not ours. No one had the right to put Lucy’s private letter from Geshe Kelsang on the Internet for example; this was not ethical.

Imagine the Internet chatter that would have surrounded, say, Marpa’s treatment of Milarepa, or Tilopa’s treatment of Naropa, had the Internet existed in those ancient times. Both Lucy and Bjorn have been disciples of Geshe Kelsang for more than 25 years. It is the function of a Mahayana Spiritual Guide to challenge his or her senior disciples to help them make spiritual progress. Sometimes the nature of that challenge may not be immediately apparent to outside observers; but as long as the disciples themselves are finding it meaningful and beneficial, then what business is it of ours to complain?

17) incouraged (not told) not to read books other than geshelas, why what do you not what me to read? Its all the same any way??? is it not? Is the nkt the only pure source of dharma????

This is a smear that is answered from many angles on the New Kadampa Truth website.

18) There is a monk from america who playes with dolls… but thats ok, as long as he doesnt say anything negative about the nkt. He has also been found watching pornography on the internet by a person whom I have come to know.

Bridget told me: “It was suspected that someone had used a Centre computer to watch porn but there was no evidence that it was this monk. It was one incident and there have been no others.”

25) all the buddhas are inseperable from your guru (kelsang gyatso) becuase its benificial to believe, just as it was benificial for certain people to believe that Samden was inseperable from Kelsang Gyatso and Kelsang Gyatso inseperable from all the Buddhas so if he wants to have sex with me it must mean that I am ready to take a consort, Kelsang Gyatso doesnt say any thing so its fine… a pitty that when she fell pregnant she didnt hold the view that she was giving birth to an enlightened being becuase maybe she wouldnt have tried to commit suicide!

This has mainly been answered above. Geshe Kelsang has never asked everyone to view him as inseparable from all the Buddhas, much less to view Samden Gyatso as inseparable from him.

26) Kelsang Gyatso asked that this year people do not give him statues as a gift but rather give him money.

Geshe Kelsang has, in fact, asked Centres not to give him anything at all. Individuals are free to do as they choose; however it is untrue that Geshe Kelsang has requested to be given money. Geshe Kelsang lives in a small room and has very few material possessions. Whenever he is given a gift, he immediately passes it onto others.

27) At Madhyamaka centre some one tried to commit suicide after being ordained for a few years.

I have not heard anything about this story and I will check into it if you can you give me any details (privately, please, to be fair to them).

29) At the demonstrations certain members of ordained sangha had to wear lay clothes inorder to do security work. I guess a monk in robes wouldnt be able to “take some one down”

Monks sometimes wear lay clothes. This is normal. Monks and nuns are permitted to wear lay clothes when they work outside the Centre too, and when travelling, and at other times too if they wish (they must wear their robes for teachings and so on, of course). There is no rule to say they must always wear their robes.

30) At Gyaltsabje centre in Sheffield the majority of the paying residents arent even buddhist.

What is wrong with that? Actually, a Buddhist Centre is a very nice place for people to live if they want some peace and quiet, free from televisions, smoking, meat-eating and so on.

13) Manjushri centre was stolen by the nkt, this Legden even confirmed for me when I first found it on the internet.

I asked Legden about this and he replied: “This is a complete lie since I had no idea whatsoever of what happened there and I cannot recall at all to have spoken to Nathaniel about it in any way or at any time.” This sounds believable because he was not around in those days. A very clear explanation of the whole issue can be found here on the website New Kadampa Truth. The FPMT has not challenged this account because they know it is true.

14) There are people in the nkt who have ‘Lung’ (a disease in ur inner energy winds) from incorectly practicing Highest Yoga Tantra, and as a result will not be able to meditate in this life ever again! The Tantric empowerment is supposed to given to people who have done alot of purification and have a stable practice of Dharma. Its FUCKED me up, to say the least!

I am of course very sorry to hear that you feel that way. However, without details of these people who can never meditate again in this life (which sounds unlikely), it is hard to comment further on this allegation except to say that Geshe Kelsang gives very clear explanations of who is ready to engage in Highest Yoga Tantra in all his Tantric texts. He also talks about the danger of lung disease and how to avoid it.

15) If ever you have a problem in the nkt you are told that you are “deluded” ” self cherishing” ” in samsara” ” need to allow guru kelsang gyatso) buddha (shakyamuni) into your heart ” or  “not tell any one elso becuase it could destroy peoples faith” This I have been told, I was even called a spoilt brat.  And sadly you come to a point where you believe it!

It is untrue to say that whenever anyone has a problem they are always told these things. Sometimes, perhaps, they are told these things (not the “spoilt brat” bit perhaps!), as they would be in any Buddhist organization, and sometimes that is okay. Why? These things can be useful to hear because Buddhists are trying hard to overcome the delusions, or inner poisons, in their minds in order to overcome suffering, and it helps to be reminded. Buddhists do also believe that suffering comes about because we are in samsara, the cycle of uncontrolled death and rebirth, and that this suffering does not automatically end at death. It is also a Buddhist teaching that it can greatly help pacify our minds to invite Buddha and our Spiritual Guide into our hearts, if we have faith. There is nothing unique to the NKT about your allegation here. I am sorry that you say you were told not to talk about your problems with others – if this happened, sorry. Usually in Buddhism we’re encouraged to talk to our Sangha as one of our objects of refuge. I have asked Bridget and Chris to look into this.

16) told that if you disrobe you will take rebirth in hell. Most traditions of Buddhism that I know dont tell you that.

Which Buddhist traditions don’t say that negative actions create the cause for future suffering? Any kind of misconduct, not just sexual, creates imprints for future suffering – that is the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni. The degree of negativity depends on the motivation and other extenuating circumstances – which no one else can judge. However, luckily, we can all purify our negative imprints.

31) The nkt welcomes you with open arms but throw you out like a piece of dirt when you are of no benifit to them, they will not support you in any way, they will take your money and give you advice and if you want more advice they will take some more,

I am so sorry you feel this way. I hope the answers above go somewhere to alleviating your pain. You are still welcome with open arms. No one has ever wanted to throw you out like a piece of dirt.

Your former teacher Legden was sorry he had hurt your feelings and had this to say about you: “He is actually such a nice guy and was loved by most of our students. My letter to him sounds quite harsh I must admit. On the other hand, when he was going through a crisis during Spring Festival, he was quite receptive when I told him off and apparently appreciated it. It’s been my intention to help him and not to harm him in any way. I knew how much he had been wishing to live the life of an ordained person. Anyway, obviously I haven’t been skilful enough and I will write to him to apologize.”

Good luck, Nathaniel. Please let me know if any of this is not clear or if you have more questions.

Love and best wishes,

New Kadampa Truth


16 Responses to Nathaniel’s 31 Reasons for Leaving the NKT

  1. Adam says:

    Thank you so much for the above. I have read every word of it which I thought only appropriate having read every word of the allegations. Actually, when I first came across Nathaniel’s own web-site I decided it would be better not to read it. Then I came across it posted by someone else on a completely separate blog and decided to read it. Material spreads easily on the web, although that doesn’t mean that it necessarily gets a particularly large readership – it’s difficult to tell.

    As it happens I spoke to a number of members of the Johannesburg Sangha at the Summer Festival, including Legden. They are all such nice people. Legden is a wonderfully calm and stable person, and I am so pleased to think of him spreading the Dharma in South Africa. One of the ladies I spoke to told me about Nathaniel – this was before I’d come across him on the net. She just said that she really liked him and that everyone else liked him and was impressed by his sincerity and knowledge of Dharma, and that they all felt a bit shocked by the way things had developed.

    I regard this blog as an important development to the New Kadampa Truth site and I think that it will serve an number of functions. 1) Specific allegations require specific answers. For example, although I was able to answer some of the allegations for myself I was unaware of the extent to which the allegations about events at Nagarjuna Centre were or weren’t true. I feel better for having received specific and detailed answers about this.

    Secondly I think that this sets an important precedent as it means that people know that they can get answers. The fact is that letters and e-mails to Geshe Kelsang often go unanswered. Of the ten or so letter and e-mails that I have sent him over the past thirteen years I have received one reply. That was in 1977 when in response to my request for some spiritual advice he advised me to practise mindfulness. I appreciate this advice although I can’t really comment on the extent to which I have or haven’t managed to practise it.

    In general in society people do have the right to not answer others. Not giving a reply isn’t necessarily an unfriendly thing. I receive far more text messages from one of my friends that I ever send him, but I’m not unhappy to receive them, and I value him as a friend. He’s also happy to receive the occasional text back from me, and all is well. Perhaps a non-reply may sometimes contain an important answer of sorts? In any case, the fact of the matter is that if someone chooses to not reply to us we have to accept this. Geshe-la often doesn’t reply to people and so of course we must accept this, either out of faith or just out of necessity!

    BUT…. surely organisation should be accountable in some way, and should be able to offer people a reply of sorts to any genuinely held grievance that they may have? Furthermore, I also think that it’s far better if such grievances shouldn’t have to be addressed to senior figures within the Tradition anyway – who people may wish to keep seperate from their “issues.” So in reality this is two further points: 2) that from our side we are now agreeing to perform a function that responsible organisation do generally agree to perform – that of answering all grievances and enquiries, and 3) people can know that if they do have grievances they can report them to someone who will provide them with a response.

    I can only say that I think that this is extremely valuable, and something for which I am extremely grateful. Perhaps at least some of the Nathaniels of the future will report their grievances to NKT Truth first of all, and won’t feel the need to post them publicly on the internet. Wouldn’t this be in everyone’s best interests? I know that if this facility had been available I would have used it before now. As it is I learnt my lesson eventually and in my own way, and feel stronger for it. A good friend said that the real NKT survivors are those who go through the s*** and stay within the organisation!!!

    In retrospect I don’t really regret any of my experiences, even not getting answers I was looking for, even if I regret, quite appropriately, some of my deluded responses to them. However, I’m also very pleased that this facility has been made available and I hope that it will be used by those who need it.

    I would be happy to be part of this project in particular by entering into correspondance, where appropriate, with people who are aggrieved rather than hostile, and would appreciate an exchange of thought and ideas. Let me know if this would be helpful. I would be willing to submit the correspondance to be checked, but in any case I would only wish to correspond in a private capacity really, as a volunteer befriender as it were, and not on in the name of NKT Truth as such, as this is better done by yourselves.

  2. Maik says:

    With love & prayers, I would like to say this:
    Perhaps when Nathaniel is done feeling sorry for himself, he can actually take time to go back to school and learn how to write; then maybe, his allegation would be readable as well as laughable.

  3. Missmp says:

    I met Nathaniel briefly and he was very smart, friendly and social…but also young and inexperienced. The step he was about to take was a big one, and I think he became anxious and confused. He must have hurt and suffered a great deal as a result of his perceived experiences. It is very easy to begin to doubt or be swayed by negativity – for him, this wasn’t the right time. Regardless of his grammar, English or immaturity in this matter, we should pray that in the future he meets Dharma again and is able to take it into his heart. I truly hope he is able to get over this soon and maybe in this life, regain his faith.

    Thank you NKT for explanations above – honesty and timeous responses do much to set the mind at peace.


  4. Zulu says:

    I was also quite shocked to read his blog and appreciate greatly the answers provided. I have only been going to an NKT centre for a short-ish while and things like these can scare one off easily. Why he wanted to create a rift in the Sangha is for him to know, but it seems he has not been very honest with all of his readers. After talking to people at the recent festival and asking my own questions, it seems his running away from being ordained had more to do with his homosexuality than with the NKT. Having a very close friend going through loads of doubts, fears and uncertainties before “coming out”, I understand how Nathaniel could have tried to hide his sexual orientation behind robes and finally deciding not to, but then blaming the NKT for his failure to take vows. As mentioned by others, he was apparently a very well loved member of his centre with a deep understanding, even at his age, of Dharma. Surely he must know all the Dharma answers to his suffering. Either way, I too have been praying that he finds Dharma again in a future life.

  5. Nathaniel Whiteman says:

    HI every one.

    I would like to defend my self here, please accept my apology for my bad grammar and spelling, but you try and run a blog from your cell phone! And also perhaps think of this before you make such horrible statements against me. You dont know me, how can youu say that I was confused over my own homosexuality? Who says I was in the so called closet? I accepted my sexuality long ago, and it had nothing to do with my deciscion to take ordination. My decicision came from a long conversation with my teacher, Legden, he suggested it to me and I accepted because I wished to make the Dharma a part of my life, let me also tell you that when I left the NKT I had mad arrangements to go to India and take ordination there instead, so please dont try and make me out to be the bad person here, I accept that some of the points on my blog were not correct and am going to remove them now that I have access to a computer again. I am also in the process of compiling a new letter to the truth team with some unanswered questions.

    PS MAIK where in the your Buddhist scriptures does it say that humilliating and attacking you enemies intelegence is acceptable.

  6. E11 says:

    “PS Maik where in Buddhist scriptures does it say that humiliating and attacking your enemies’ intelligence is acceptable”

    Nathanial with all your accusations and blogs you have humiliated loads of people, causes and effect.

    Don’t you think its time to move on now.
    Again I hope you will meet the dharma in future life.

  7. Nathaniel says:

    I have moved on thank you very much. If Dharma is what the NKT teaches I PRAY THAT I NEVER MEET THE DHARMA AGAIN! It has been like a nightmare that continues to haunt me. Get off your high horse and stop prtending that you are so pure and holy! Perhaps blowing up Manjushri Centre at this years summer festival might be a good idea… at least Ill get 1000 virgins in heaven.

  8. Joel says:

    I’d just like to add that these message posts at the end of the web page here may not actually be Nathaniel, but people impersonating him on the internet. I am referring to the posts titled: ‘Nathaniel Whiteman Says:
    December 26, 2008 at 9:41 am’ and ‘Nathaniel Says:
    April 17, 2009 at 7:03 am ‘.

    – may the actual nathaniel find peace and happiness.

  9. Nathaniel says:

    Hi all.

    This is the real nathaniel.

    Please can we remove all this information about me. I have removed my blog and placed an appology to the NKT and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso on the site…

    That information came from a different side of me which I hope does not show itself ever again.


  10. Roisin says:

    Unfortunately, Nathaniel’s specific allegations have made their way onto other sites on the Internet, not just his own blog, which is why their refutations remain here, at least for the time being, so that people who are confused and upset by the allegations can see both sides of the story.

    New Kadampa Truth

    I find it highly distasteful that a spiritual organisation devoted to promoting an end to suffering would totally disregard an individual’s request to remove information about them regarding a very painful time in their lives.

    Nathaniel has very bravely admitted on his blog to suffering from a mental illness and has retracted his statements and apologised. Surely a link to Nathaniel’s blog and apology would suffice?

    The NKT have admitted to being un-qualified to deal with mental illness and it is understandable that an individual with mental illness could cause problems, people suffering from mental illness are difficult enough for their loved ones to deal with and even qualified mental health professionals may struggle with them from time to time so it’s understandable that NKT teachers with no mental health qualifications would be ill equipped to cope. That said, let us not forget that the person who is ill suffers the most and it takes a lot of strength and courage to be able to admit to being ill, apologise for any wrong done during the time of illness and go on to try to rebuild their life.

    The copies of Nathaniel’s blog in circulation would simply lose their power if both the NKT and Nathaniel put an end to the whole episode. It seems to me that Nathaniel has already attempted to do that. Would it hurt to do the same? Would it really harm an organisation such as the NKT to show some compassion and comply with the request to remove this page?

  11. Jemima says:

    Many allegations against the NKT are made when people are feeling disappointed and angry, or have an axe to grind, (regardless of whether or not they also have mental health problems), so they necessarily want to lash out and strike. Often they regret their words later because they were exaggerated or untrue. There is nothing new in this, it is human nature, or at least the nature of anger.

    However, although the NKT can and has accepted Nathaniel’s apology, and “commends him for his courage and honesty”, the Internet is not so forgiving. Once slander is out there, it remains out in cyberspace for a very long time, and therefore the refutations also need to remain.

    Anyone reading this post will understand that Nathaniel and the NKT have moved on, yet there are still detractors who either do not know about Nathaniel’s apology or choose to ignore it, who reiterate his original slander as if it were fact. That is why this article is still needed, to help others who have read these allegations in hostile sites.

  12. Roisin says:

    I am aware of that point Jemima, I was aware of it before my comment was edited to include the NKT’s statement at the start of my last comment. My point was that there was a request to remove the page as it obviously serves as a reminder of a painful time, both for an individual and a spiritual organisation accused of being anything but. That request, however, seems to have been rejected on the basis that the NKT still feels the need to defend. What is there to fear from an individual who has already issued an apology and a retraction? What is to fear from complying with a request to remove something that serves only as a reminder of hurtful times?

    Sadly yes, the nature of the internet is that information and posts are circulated well beyond their ‘use by’ date and I understand that neither Nathaniel nor the NKT can control the further circulation of the original allegations or the continuation of detractors to rely on them as proof of their “axes to grind”. That said, neither needs to contribute to the continued existence of the whole matter.

    I stumbled upon this site because I was curious about the NKT and was more than a little shocked to discover the allegations on the internet against them. Having read further, and from my own (granted very limited) experience of the NKT I was coming to the conclusion that obviously no one organisation will ever satisfy everyone and that sadly perhaps some people came to the NKT with higher expectations than could be met and were simply backlashing at having been let down by their own expectations. The continued existence of this page, however, makes me very sad as it seems as if there is no compassion, no willingness to ‘be the bigger person’ if you will and let the whole matter drop by complying with the request to remove the page.

    I maintain that a link to Nathaniel’s apology would suffice in answer to this whole matter but if the NKT fears the allegations made so much that it feels unable or unwilling to do so then so be it. Personally I find it distasteful and very sad that that the apparent feeling of needing to defend wins out over compassion, forgiveness and leaving the past behind.

  13. Jemima says:

    I take your points Roisin. But I don’t think the NKT is fearing the individual, simply trying to make sure that when unsuspecting people stumble upon these allegations on the net, which they will, they will also be led to this page and the refutations. In a way, it has nothing to do with Nathaniel any more. He started the ball rolling, everyone who comes to this page knows that he has moved on and that the NKT and he have no grief, but meanwhile on the internet the allegations he made have taken on a life of their own and that is why this page is here. If it were not here, then when people found the allegations, some of them very serious, they would have no way of knowing how they are answered by the facts.

  14. ratikala says:

    unfortunately this whole saga illustrates the undeniable truth that samsara is without doubt suffering ,and as dharma practitioners we should practice loving kindness both on and off the meditation cushion ,how ever deluded anouthers actions might seem it is our duty to help one anouther through any difficulties with humillity and compassion. we must all be care full that our personal behavior does not bring disscredit to such knoble a tradition as Bhuddism . As some one who has spent time with the N.K.T.and moved on ,I find it best to suggest that one takes what is of benifit ,and regard that as a true blessing ,to be thankfull for all good association ,and to forgive the less inteligent behavior one is likely to find in any organisation .however my word of warning must go to anyone in any position of authority,by taking that position one must be totaly dedicated to serving others , Ego is without doubt a deeply seated problem for western practitioners , therefore we must carefully examine our motivation at all times.
    I hope that nathaniel and any others who have suffered similarly “might find perfect teachers” it might not be with the N.K.T. it dosent matter what matters is realisation that is bhudhism.
    It is allso my experience that as human beings we canot help but complicate things ,and that whilst mahayana motivation is wonderfull we could all benifit from simply practicing the eight fold path .best wishes to all , may every one achieve enlightenment !

  15. Geronimo says:

    May his suffering quickly cease. 😦

  16. Geronimo says:

    May all suffering quickly cease. 😦

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