Smear: The NKT is Fundamentalist

Truth: This is not true. The definition of fundamentalism in Wikipedia is “deep and totalistic commitment” to a belief in, and strict adherence to a set of basic principles (often religious in nature), a reaction to perceived doctrinal compromises with modern social and political life.

Fundamentalism is therefore clinging to a set of principles in reaction to the perception that too much compromise of these principles has been made in the modern world. This does not apply to the NKT. As with all Buddhists, NKT practitioners try to practise Buddha’s teachings as they were traditionally transmitted to them without imposing their own interpretation or omitting anything; however there is a flexibility at NKT Centres around the world to compromise with the norms of society as necessary to benefit others, which is the antithesis of fundamentalism.

There is an expression in Kadampa Buddhism: “Remain natural while changing your aspiration.” One example of this flexibility is the NKT ordination. The ten commitments provide the flexibility to function in the modern world — such as being able to support oneself by having a job, handling money and freely meeting with people to help them — but they also provide the necessary restraint from inappropriate actions that Buddha taught in the Sutras to make progress on the spiritual path. The NKT ordination is far more suited to living in the modern world than the traditional ordination based on the Vinaya. It is critics of the NKT ordination who appear to be fundamentalists by clinging to a fixed idea of ordination that cannot change with the times. For them, NKT ordination offers too many compromises with modern life. However, because Geshe Kelsang understands the essential meaning of Buddha’s teachings, he is able to made changes in presentation where necessary without compromising what Buddha taught or the strength of monastic ordination.

There are many other examples of flexibility and changes to the presentation of Buddhism introduced by the NKT, such as the training of Buddhist teachers of every nationality for every country, the training and promotion of lay women and men as teachers alongside monks and nuns, the translation of books and prayers into modern languages, new sadhanas compiled under the compassionate guidance of Geshe Kelsang, the use of new tunes and modern instruments in the music accompanying pujas, the composition of the Liberating Prayer (a new praise to Buddha Shakyamuni), following the solar calendar familiar to the West as opposed to the lunar calendar followed by the Tibetans. These and many other innovations distinguish the New Kadampa Tradition from other traditions. However, the essential meaning of Buddha’s teachings remains unchanged. In this way, NKT is both flexible and traditional at the same time, but it is not fundamentalist.

This post was copied from the New Kadampa Truth site: Smear: NKT is fundamentalist.


3 Responses to Smear: The NKT is Fundamentalist

  1. […] Links Smears against the NKT September 10, 2008, 1:11 pm Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Dalai Lama, Fundamentalist, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, New Kadampa Tradition, Tibetan Buddhism Smear: The NKT is Fundamentalist […]

  2. matt says:

    Thank you very much for all your efforts, as a resident at a centre I am very heartened and glad that the NKT is standing up for itself and taking a more proactive stance on the web. for a while i have thought it would be beneficial for NKT to engage skilled public relations consultant in order to protect its reputation more skilfully. I think now things appear to be moving in a very positive direction. There is a PR professional in London who is excellent called Chris Springham at a PR firm called Luther Pendragon. PR is about investing in protecting reputation…. I am sure you engage professional lawyers for property contracts etc, but have suspected you never engage a professional PR guy…. but instead do it in house? I think it is time, for even greater improvement… best wishes matt x

    PS ( I dont understand what you mean when you say Website in the box above… I just read your web site and am responding to it)

  3. newkadampatruth says:

    There is a more extensive discussion of this subject on this blog: