Another Reply to the Bodhisattva Centre Protestors

September 13, 2008

New Kadampa Truth wrote a reply to Carol McQuire on all the points she made, and she has now posted more replies, which can be found on various websites, such as Tenzin Peljor’s. (We know from Tenzin’s website that Carol McQuire was the person who organized the original leaflet to hand out outside Bodhisattva Centre.)

(Carol’s original leaflet has also been made into a new blog imitating the design of this one, created by someone called exKelsang conscript. The answers to the points raised there have not been included on that blog but can be found on the New Kadampa Truth’s original replies. )

We thank Carol for the opportunity to clarify further.

We have not answered each of the points individually as this will turn into an interminable debate about small points. We have answered in a number of subject areas as follows:

New Kadampa Tradition questions

Practising one tradition or many?

The presentation of Buddha’s teachings can be original but the content of the teachings cannot change. In this sense, the New Kadampa Tradition is both traditional and new. The three study programmes are a new development but what they teach is traditional Buddhism.

Because you consider it a good thing to study books from several Tibetan traditions and commentaries by many Teachers, you seem unhappy that the New Kadampa Tradition study programmes are based only on the tradition of Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa as presented in Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s commentaries; and you see this as a disadvantage. Why? Please provide a logical justification or simply accept and respect that some people want to practise many traditions and some people want to practise only one. Everyone is different and has choice. If you wish to study with many different traditions, you are free to do so. In the New Kadampa Tradition we believe we have received a full set of instructions for attaining enlightenment that work for us, and it is our freedom to follow those instructions.

Later, you say: Even practices taught by Je Tsongkhapa such as Guhyasamaja and Yamantaka, are not considered appropriate practices in the NKT.

This is completely untrue, whoever told you that? The practice of Guhyasamaja is implicit in the practice of Offering to the Spiritual Guide because we meditate on the body mandala of Guhyasamaja. (See Great Treasury of Merit). The practice of Yamantaka is implicit in the Offering to the Spiritual Guide, Heart Jewel and Wishfulfilling Jewel. (See Heart Jewel).

It is wrong to say that we do not rely on Guhyasamaja and Yamantaka in the NKT. For example, in Heart Jewel Geshe Kelsang says that accomplishing the attainment of Je Tsongkhapa has the same function as accomplishing the attainment of Yamantaka, and reciting the Migtsema prayer has the same function as reciting the mantra of Yamantaka. The Guru yoga of Je Tsongkhapa is practised every day in NKT Dharma Centres.

In accordance with the instructions of his own Spiritual Guide, Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, Geshe Kelsang has presented a simple practice of Highest Yoga Tantra where we rely upon the practices of Heruka and Vajrayogini to attain enlightenment. How many paths to enlightenment do we need? Relying sincerely on one Tantric Deity as the synthesis of all Deities accomplishes the attainments of all Deities.

Moral discipline and support issues in the NKT

You say: The last three Resident teachers have left Bodhisattva Centre through problems with moral discipline. Geshe Kelsang appointed all of these teachers. Have the causes of this lack of moral discipline in very long term practitioners been addressed? The new Internal Rules require the educational programme co-ordinators to aid in creating an environment suitable for the teacher to be able to practice moral discipline. How is this implemented? Are there clear guidelines….etc

You’ve raised some good food for thought here, thank you. As an organization and as individuals, we are generally trying to improve and to support teachers and practitioners, both lay and ordained, and we will give your points due consideration.

WSS questions

Clarifying the relationship between WSS and NKT

You seem confused about the relationship between the WSS and the NKT. It has to be said many times: the WSS is NOT the NKT. The WSS has many more members than the NKT because it includes all Shugden practitioners who are suffering under the Dalai Lama’s ban, including all Tibetan practitioners of this Deity as well as Western practitioners of this Deity from non-NKT Buddhist Centres. It also includes some non-Buddhists who have sympathy with this issue and who have supported the demonstrations as a matter of religious freedom and human rights.

Is this so difficult to understand?

It is true that Geshe Kelsang asked his students to help with the WSS, but that does not mean that the WSS is the “political front” of the NKT or other uninformed associations that people are making on the Internet. Geshe Kelsang has been concerned about the Dalai Lama’s political actions of destroying the pure tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. He has also been asked for help by Tibetan practitioners in India. He decided to respond and to take some responsibility, and he asked his students to help by supporting the WSS demonstrations. These are currently seen as the only way to make the Dalai Lama listen and hopefully engage in dialogue to solve this problem.

Geshe Kelsang as an individual, concerned Dorje Shugden practitioner has requested his students as individual, concerned Dorje Shugden practitioners to support the WSS. Many NKT practitioners want to help but there are also many who remain uninvolved in the demonstrations.

The WSS is independently funded and has no financial ties to the NKT at all. My understanding from the WSS is that many private individuals have been incredibly generous – including many Tibetans who for various reasons cannot attend the demonstrations in person but support them through their money and prayers. The WSS receives funds through its website into its own bank account.

Geshe Kelsang has encouraged his NKT students to support the WSS with their time and energy because if the Dalai Lama succeeds in destroying the reputation of Shugden practitioners in the minds of the general public as successfully as he has done in the minds of his followers, the NKT will have no function and will not be able to benefit others by offering the teachings of Je Tsongkhapa throughout the world. (Just look at E-sangha for evidence of this and the accusations of people like Robert Thurman). The NKT is therefore supporting the WSS in protecting this pure Buddhist lineage for both this and future generations.

Is it the intention of the WSS to disrupt the teachings of the Dalai Lama?

You said: It is reported that these loud but peaceful demonstrations have been so loud as to interrupt the teachings of the Dalai Lama. Was the intention to stop the teachings? Why continue with hours and hours of ‘loudness’ if the people you wish to reach are trying to listen to Dharma? Are you saying that no-one should listen to the Dalai Lama? That his teachings are so contaminated that you should interrupt them?

No, it is not the intention of the WSS to disrupt the teachings of the Dalai Lama. It is of course people’s choice whether they attend his teachings and follow his view. Many people appreciate him. But the WSS does not believe that he is perfect or that he is right on this issue, and it is normal and healthy in a democratic society to express concerns about leaders who are adversely affecting your life.

The WSS is only wanting to engage him on the subject of Dorje Shugden. Since the Dalai Lama will not listen to Dorje Shugden practitioners, and diplomacy has not worked, the WSS has to be “a fly in the ointment”, so to speak. They are therefore exercising their democratic right to demonstrate wherever the Dalai Lama is giving teachings.

This is not much different to you standing outside Bodhisattva Centre and handing out leaflets – the difference being that at this point the NKT are trying to understand and respond to your concerns.

I will post part two of this reply to you tomorrow.


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