Another Reply to the Bodhisattva Centre Protestors

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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20 Responses to Another Reply to the Bodhisattva Centre Protestors

  1. medibuddha says:

    If you are going to characterize the Dalai Lama’s teachings as “un-Buddhist”, you need to credibly quote and reference the source of the material so that everyone can judge for themselves whether this is an accurate summary of the teachings.

    From New Kadampa Truth:
    MediBuddha, thank you for your comment, you are right. Here are the sources of the Dalai Lama’s un-Buddhist quotes:

    Times Online article regarding the Dalai Lama’s comment that God made the trees and everything:
    http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/charles_bremner/2008/08/a-day-out-with.html?OTC-widgets&ATTR=tolblogs

    The video of the Dalai Lama’s teaching where he says we are all the same at birth:

  2. Chelvi says:

    A well considered response full of clarity and sensitivity.

  3. Ron Cook says:

    Below was an email sent to Tenzin Paljor the most vehement critic of Shugden practitioners and of the NKT. He will not post it. He will not answer these questions nor other important ones. He is very selective it what he chooses to respond to. These are some of the most important questions concerning the Dalai Lama and yet remain completely ignored. If you (Tenzin Paljor) are so confident in your beliefs why are you afraid to answer these questions?

    Dear Tenzin,

    Since you have taken it upon yourself or been asked to represent the views of the Dalai Lama, I wish to submit six important questions that hopefully you can provide clear replies to. Since you have gone to great lengths to accommodate the questions of a concerned citizen in Brighton, then in fairness please show the same willingness to address the questions below – they to come from a concerned citizen. If you are fair and open minded as the people visiting your blogs indicate, demonstrate these qualities by providing the appropriate answers. There is no valid reason not to post these questions and let your readers draw their own conclusions.

    Sincerely,
    Ron Cook

    1) If it is appropriate for the Dalai Lama to decide what spiritual practices are appropriate, and seeing clearly that such a decision causes divisiveness, why are the reasons he cites for the ban on Dorje Shugden not being supported by the teachings of Buddha? What sutras specifically dictate the need for invoking spiritual bans? If the ban is not politically motivated there must be an authentic spiritual basis for this action. The teachings of Buddha address all possible delusions that sentient beings are capable of generating, therefore, please cite the sutras that necessitate imposing the ban on Dorje Shugden.

    2) Why is the Dalai Lama consistently patient, apologetic, and conciliatory toward the Chinese and not Dorje Shugden practitioners? The Dalai Lama has never acknowledged any email, petition, fax, phone call, telegram, or verbal request, nor has he ever granted an audience to anyone wishing to try and solve the Shugden controversy. However, he makes effort to engage the Chinese at virtually every opportunity. Please explain this double standard of engagement.

    3) The Dalai Lama says that Dorje Shugden practitioners are free to ignore his ‘advice’ and continue to practice their faith. How is this possible when his government, his siblings, his personal friends, and representatives of Buddhist traditions that he controls, at every opportunity, disparage and attack Dorje Shugden practitioners? What basis is there to believe that Shugden practitioners have freedom? The Dalai Lama has said:

    “Everyone who is affiliated with the Tibetan society of the Ganden Phodrang government, should relinquish ties with Dhogyal. This is necessary since it poses danger to the religious and temporal situation of Tibet. As for foreigners, it makes no difference to us if they walk with their feet up and their head down. We have taught Dharma to them, not they to us…

    ‘Until now you have a very good job on this issue. Hereafter also, continue this
    policy in a clever way. We should do it in such a way to ensure that in future generations not even the name of Dhogyal is remembered.”

    (From a speech delivered July 14th 1996, in Caux Switzerland)

    Since the Dalai Lama has expressed an intention to utterly destroy the practice of Dorje Shugden, please explain the nature and type of freedom such practitioners shall enjoy.

    4) Johan Candelin, director of the World Evangelical Fellowship’s (WEF) Religious Liberty Commission, invited the Dalai Lama to meeting in Helsinki on June 20, 1998. One of the topics discussed was the persecution of Christians in Sri Lanka by Buddhists. The Dalai Lama said that any Buddhist who persecutes Christians “misunderstands the true nature of Buddhism.” Persecution is defined in the Random House College Dictionary (def. 3) to mean:

    “A program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religious or moral beliefs or practices.”

    If persecution of Christians is inappropriate and contrary to the true nature of Buddhism, why is the persecution of Shugden practitioners been not only acceptable, but advocated by the Dalai Lama? How can any reasonable person not consider the Dalai Lama’s words and actions to be hypocrisy in the extreme? Please clarify that persecuting Shugden practitioners is not hypocrisy.

    5) The Dalai Lama freely admits that previous to his ban he was a practitioner of Dorje Shugden. He also composed a prayer to the deity entitled, Melody of the Unceasing Vajra, which is subtitled: ‘A Propitiation of Mighty Gyalchen Dorje Shugden, Protector of Conqueror Manjushri Tsongkhapa’s Teachings, by the Supreme Victor, the Great 14th Dalai Lama.’ Since the Dalai Lama is considered to be infallible and a fully enlightened being, how can these completely opposite beliefs be reconciled? Should we understand that the Dalai Lama was a faulty being when he practiced this deity in the past? If so, how is it that he can be considered to be faultless now? Enlightened beings cannot become more enlightened with time, nor can their perfect state degenerate. Moreover, such a pure being is omniscient, and would know indubitably that such a reversal of belief would cause tremendous confusion and problems. A flawless being should be able to provide a coherent, logical, and plausible explanation for this contradiction. The Dalai Lama has yet to provide such an explanation. Please explain how the Dalai Lama’s reversal on Dorje Shugden can be considered anything other than the confused and mistaken action of an ordinary being.

    6) For nearly four centuries the deity Dorje Shugden has supposedly caused harm to many people. The Fourteenth Dalai Lama claims that since the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Dorje Shugden has caused not only a consistent degeneration of Buddhism, but many other serious problems. If this is true, why is it not possible for any of the reincarnations of the Dalai Lama to subdue this being? It is claimed that each of the Dalai Lamas are successive manifestations of the Buddha of Compassion (Chenrezig). There are many accounts of high Lamas subduing malevolent spirits in Tibet, yet the succession of ten Dalai Lamas cannot accomplish a similar feat. Practitioners of Dorje Shugden claim that he is an enlightened being, and therefore impossible to subdue. Please explain the failure of these ten Dalai Lamas to subdue Dorje Shugden. Please explain the failure of thousands of high Lamas to do the same.

  4. EKC says:

    Carol wasn’t suggesting that Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings and Atisha’s teachings shouldn’t be passed on. She was clearly saying that to rely only on the books of one person – Geshe Kelsang – and discourage the study of other books related to Je Tsongkhapa’s and Atisha’s teachings is biased and limited.

    Like many others I was never told I *musn’t* read non-NKT Buddhist books but asked continually why I would want to. The answer is to get a broader, more balanced, view and understanding. Since I’ve been reading the books of other Buddhist traditions I have greatly increased my understanding and overview of Dharma and Buddhism.

    New Kadampa Truth response:

    Dear EKC,

    Thank you for your comment. If you spent much time studying at a NKT Center, you probably are aware that Geshe Kelsang’s works are commentaries to the works of Buddha, Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa, and contain many root texts and quotations. He has composed these books so that Westerners can gain a comprehensive understanding of the complete path to enlightenment according to the presentation of Je Tsongkhapa. These books are the basis of the Foundation Program and Teacher Training Program.

    I don’t know why your friend asked you that question so this is my best guess. There are many people who just read a lot of books and become very intellectual about Buddhism. If we read many different books from different traditions, this can be a distraction and also does not leave us much time to practice. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it can be.

    However, if you didn’t feel that way, and no one told you that you musn’t read non-NKT books, what was the problem with you reading other books? We are free to ignore our friends’ advice if we don’t find it helpful.

  5. “How many paths to enlightenment does one need?” What an excellent question!

    A husband and wife once complained to me about an NKT monk (a mutual friend) who relies soley on GKG’s teachings and books, and had no interest in reading books from other traditions. I asked, “Is there anything missing in the NKT presentation?” They said, “No.” I followed up with, “Is it a complete path to enlightenment?” They said, “Yes.” I think that answers their complaint about the monk!

    Besides, how much time are we guaranteed? Life is most uncertain…

  6. EKC says:

    “How many paths to enlightenment does one need?” is not the real question, but “How could it be possible that one path will suit every living being?”

    Buddha taught the path that Mahayanists refer to as the Hinayana, or small vehicle. Interestingly, when a lama was asked what small vehicle actually means he replied that it means nothing has been added to it. Yet Mayhayana traditions including NKT insist the Mayhayana is superior by virtue of the add-ons it contains. NKT goes further and says it is now the only true path.

    There are countless living beings and therefore countless paths to enlightenment.

    New Kadampa Truth Response:

    Dear EKC,

    When has the NKT ever stated that it is the only true path? http://newkadampatruth.org/newkadampatradition3.php#37

    When Geshe Kelsang was asked if there are other complete paths besides Gelug, he said:

    “Of course! Of course we believe that every Nyingmapa and Kagyupa have their complete path. Not only Gelugpa. I believe that Nyingmapas have a complete path. Of course, Kagyupas are very special. We very much appreciate the example of Marpa and Milarepa [in the Kagyu lineage]. Milarepa showed the best example of guru devotion. Of course the Kagyupas as well as the Nyingmapas and the Sakyapas, have a complete path to enlightenment. Many Nyingmapas and Kagyupas practice very sincerely and are not just studying intellectually. I think that some Gelugpa practitioners need to follow their practical example. But we don’t need to mix our traditions. Each tradition has its own uncommon good qualities, and it is important not to lose these. We should concentrate on our own tradition and maintain the good qualities of our tradition, but we should always keep good relations with each other and never argue or criticize each other. What I would like to request is that we should improve our own traditions while maintaining good relations with each other.”

    (Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, An Interview With Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Tricycle: the Buddhist Review, No. 27, Spring 1998, p. 76)”

    Hinayana means small vehicle, Mahayana means great vehicle, and Vajrayana means the Secret Mantra vehicle. Was the Lama who told you about the “add-ons” a Hinayana practitioner? Mahayana practitioners of course would not agree with that statement. Buddha Shakyamuni taught all three vehicles in his Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma. The Hinayana teachings spread most widely to begin with.

    Some people don’t have the karma to meet the Hinayana, some don’t have the karma to meet the Mahayana, and some don’t have the karma to meet the Vajrayana. Some don’t have the karma to meet Buddhism at all and follow other spiritual traditions.

    If some people choose to follow the Hinayana path, this is wonderful. No one in the NKT has ever said it not a genuine spiritual path. The Hinayana teachings are holy Buddhadharma. The NKT is not critical of Hinayana traditions. If Hinayana practitioners choose to criticize the Mahayana, this is their choice.

    Whatever path you choose to follow, I hope it brings you the happiness you seek.

  7. hongkongphoey says:

    The arguments of the WSS are like a dog chasing its own tail. There is no debate just circular logic. There is nothing to answer. Tenzin has answered these questions many times. Because you cannot accept or tolerate points of view other than your own you just keep going on and on.

    It is very sad that you attack others, accuse them of not being Buddhist when the central tenent of Buddhism is that there are no external enemies, just delusions coming from within. It’s time to look within, rather than looking outside for so called enemies and persecuting others.

    New Kadampa Truth response:

    Dear hongkongphuey,

    Thank you for your comment. Those of us who work on the New Kadampa Truth team or in the Western Shugden Society do have other things we would like to do, but smears keep getting thrown at the NKT and the WSS, so we have to keep giving perspective on those smears. Of course, whatever perspective you choose to agree with is up to you. The WSS can tolerate other points of view. What it does not tolerate is the Dalai Lama’s political ban of Dorje Shugden practice in the exile community in India because this is causing suffering.

    Tenzin Peljor is entitled to his point of view, but the NKT and the WSS are also entitled to defend themselves from his accusations. Tenzin has even said this himself. The NKT and the WSS are both happy to engage in debate with Tenzin Peljor and do so the whole time on various blogs and other places where there is that option.

    Most people in the WSS do not believe that the Dalai Lama’s way of behaving with respect to this religious persecution is in accordance with Buddha’s teachings on compassion and so on. However, the WSS does not regard the Dalai Lama as an enemy. You are right, the common enemy of all living beings is the delusions of anger, attachment, ignorance and so on; and we must all identify and overcome these if we are to be free from suffering. This is Buddha’s teaching.

    The practice of patience can protect our mind from the sufferings of anger, but it doesn’t make a ban on a religion go away. External activity, motivated by compassion, is also necessary. Members of the WSS practice patience and protest against the ban at the same time. Many Buddhists other than those in the WSS engage in activism in order to protect their human and religious rights. There is nothing un-Buddhist about this.

    You say that the WSS is persecuting others. Who is it persecuting? The truth is on the contrary. The WSS is standing up for those who are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

  8. EKC says:

    Then why does NKT strongly discourage its students reading/studying other Buddhist texts then the books of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso?

    I’m also very aware that what GKG says and what his followers actually do with what he says are frequently two very different stories – like GKG says always question and check out my teachings and NKT teachers say you must do/believe XYZ because GKG said it , and they say he doesn’t really mean that you should question what he says but is just making allowances for “soft” Western students. Sure had me confused when I was a member of your New Religious Movement.

    Btw, I find the way you keep pretending to wish happiness on people whose posts you tear apart (not so much mine but Carol and Tenzin for example) to be quite unnerving in its insincerity. I sense high levels of passive agressiveness. The old “I’m not upset so I’m superior to you if you are” tactics. I’m sorry you need to feel superior.

    Ps why is my comment from Sept 14th still awaiting moderation?

  9. Harry says:

    EKC,

    “Btw, I find the way you keep pretending to wish happiness on people whose posts you tear apart (not so much mine but Carol and Tenzin for example) to be quite unnerving in its insincerity. I sense high levels of passive agressiveness. The old “I’m not upset so I’m superior to you if you are” tactics. I’m sorry you need to feel superior.”

    These “tactics” are used by people who either mean their warm words or who are being aggressive or sarcastic or whatnot.

    How can you know if someone is wishing or pretending to wish?

    You can’t. If anything you can try and guess.

    My own guess from reading this blog is that that the writer is genuinely courteous. EKC, if you read Tenzin Peljor’s blog you will notice that he is also courteous in a similar way. He has a few times ripped apart my posts and then wished me all the best. I personally really like this attitude. It helps keep things friendly, light, and most importantly respectful.

  10. Harry says:

    EKC,

    NKT doesn’t to my knowledge “strongly” discourage reading other texts. Although i have been personally discouraged one time, but only once (in 6 years of involvement) and i believe this person was a bit extreme in their views. They were taking to an extreme the idea that is broadcast in the NKT, that it may be confusing to our practice to rely on many texts. For example if in retreat on tranquil abiding, one tries to follow the instructions from three different texts from masters from three different traditions (this may mean three differing approaches) the result could be much confusion as in what one needs to do to attain said realization. By following the clear instructions from one qualified master, generally speaking, we are much more likely to achieve results. It’s about focus and time, with our human limitations taken into account. Empty mountains put it well: If we have a complete path and little time, what benefit can we reap from studying other paths? Well i guess this is just my view generally speaking.

    Unfortunately (or is it, really?), some people take this advice a bit extremely and think it means we are not allowed to read anything else. I personally don’t find this such a massive problem, because i find it helpful in trying to understand my samsara. Being samsaric beings i think we all fall into extreme ways of thinking. On one hand i can develop patience and compassion towards people trying to feed me extreme views, and on the other side of the coin i can use this as an opportunity to look at my own extreme views. Of course, it doesn’t harm to let these people know if they aren’t acting accordingly. In fact, i’m glad this issue has been brought up. If many people were holding extreme views in relation to texts the issue will hopefully be clarified in this spotlight.

    I have been recommended non-NKT texts many times by fellow Sangha (and not secretly under the table), and a couple of those times by a resident teacher.

  11. Middleway says:

    I keep hearing that NKT teachers discourage students from reading books written by authors other than GKG. All I’ve ever heard from GKG is the recommendation that at some point, after we’ve investigated appropriately, we commit to one tradition. This isn’t the same as never reading another Dharma text. I’ve had ‘non GKG’ books recommended to me by my teachers on several occassions and I’ve benefitted from reading them. Is there a suggestion that bullying students into not reading non GKG texts is NKT policy? If so why haven’t I come accross this in 4 years in the tradition, having met hundreds of Kadampa’s? If someone wants to practice in a way different to that which Geshe-la promotes, then who’s stopping them from finding a Sangha that agrees with them? Not me, that’s for sure. I hope this courtesy is returned by those who make that decision.

  12. EKC says:

    Middleway:
    there is, as I have indicated, a huge gap between NKT official policy and what happens in NKT centres and to people who join the NKT.

    Personally I received strong discouragement from reading non-NKT books as a resident at three different UK centres. At one centre where I stayed a few days I was among ordained people, most if not all teachers including the centre’s RT, when they were laughing and joking derisively about a GP student who brought “Buddhism Without Beliefs” by Stephen Batchelor to a GP class. “He just doesn’t get it” they concluded.

    What didn’t this earnest student “get”? That his actions would cause such derision behind his back, certainly.

    The NKT line about reading other books than GKG’s is always “Why would you want to?” and no answer is ever good enough for them. Apparently to be GKGs student and read anything else is an insult to the only pure Dharma tradition on earth … by which of course they mean NKT. Guys, get real. If the only pure tradition on earth has sunk to the level of fist waving at anti-Dalai Lama protests then I choose a less pure but peaceful one. And one that follows its own rules from the top to the ground. And, come to that, one where it is possible to have an audience in person with one of the top people.

    BTW, to defend behaviour by saying someone else does it too (Harry, Sept 16th) is a non-argument. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I sincerely believe we need to take responsibility not just for what we write or say but for how what we write or say is received. If we are taken to be insincere it is up to us to either say, yes, I was and apologise if necessary, or to show how we are actually sincere in a way that people are able to receive. Personally, I see posting aggressively to someone and then ending by saying you wish them well to be very strange, confusing and disorientating. I can only ask that you do not do it to me.

    And, my comment from Sept 14th still awaits moderation. Why not either post it or reject it?

  13. EKC says:

    Sorry, I must clarify for truth: I was resident at two UK centres and lived very near another which I attended several times a week. Saying I was resident at three centres is not quite true.

  14. medibuddha says:

    Dear Kadampa Truth,

    Thank you for providing the references to back up your claim that “the Dalai Lama has definitely taught some un-Buddhist things of late.”

    I reviewed your references, and do not find them to be adequate, substantial proof of your claim. I would appreciate it if you would retract or otherwise correct your statement. You have used casual statements, without consideration of their context, to support your political agenda, preferring to view the quotes with a narrow, partisan and biased view.

    You first referenced the account of Charles Bremner (from a blog) at the public opening of Lerab Ling Temple in France. At this inauguration event, there were, in addition to the local and extended Sangha, various political dignitaries and senior figures from various religions. For ease of reading this response, here is the quote:

    “We should strive for inner peace in the concert of God…. We also have responsibility to take care of the planet. The trees and all beautiful things are part of creation … Harmony is very very essential.” He blessed all religions…

    We might wonder what this means, especially the phrase ‘concert of God’. It’s reminiscent of a poem I remember translating once – Baudelaire, perhaps? After several comments were made questioning this quote on Mr. Bremner’s blog, he checked his notes and posted this to wisdombuddha,

    [His reference to God was in the context of remarks welcoming representatives of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, who were in the temple for the ceremony. He was making the point that all religions have a common purpose of striving for harmony and so on… But I am not a theologian so apologies if I am misinterpreting. CB]

    I queried Mr. Bremner further regarding the languages being spoken, and he said that the Dalai Lama was speaking English, which was being translated into French, he thought, by Mathieu Ricard. It was difficult to hear over the loudspeakers, partly because it was raining. Mr. Bremner was listening to both the English and the French, and had enough doubt about what was said that he could not confirm that the word “creation” or a derivative of it was even used.

    To generalize this quote to the broader statement that the Dalai Lama is teaching un-Buddhist things is spurious, that is, deceptive & fraudulent. First of all, this was not a formal teaching environment, and needs to be interpreted in accordance with the event.

    Second, he was speaking specifically to Muslims, Christians and Jews. What language is he to adopt, if not the language of the people to whom he is speaking?

    We do not have the surrounding notes and comments, but do have the eye-witness account of the journalist who took the notes. He has freely admitted he has interpreted, and may have misinterpreted, the Dalai Lama. As teaching a ‘creationist God’ would clearly contradict decades of teachings and scores of books by the Dalai Lama, do you really think it is in any way reasonable to make this claim?

    I can only conclude that you are furthering an agenda to create suspicion and doubt through any possible means towards the Dalai Lama and the Dharma he teaches, with the specific purpose of damaging his reputation. I am sorry to reach this conclusion, as it is the same conclusion I reached after first reading the pamphlet handed out at the demonstrations. Then I was told by a Resident Teacher that the rhetoric was regrettable, but not the opinion or rhetoric of the NKT. It was the WSS, and “we have no control as we are only a part of the organization”. My concern, at that time, was thus pacified with the statement, “it’s not us!”

    But now, here on a Kadampa website (please don’t say it’s not official, it is obviously at least condoned by the NKT) is the same type of rhetoric, trying to lead others to doubt the Dalai Lama, any way you can.

    Given this lengthy response on a single point, I’m not going into the video statement, except to suggest that you please take a closer look at it, listen to the question asked, and honestly, really honestly, ask yourself whether you think the Dalai Lama was giving a teaching on karma and past lives in that situation. I think it is inaccurate, unfair and specious to claim he was teaching ‘a blank slate’, as you claim.

    You do have to take into account the context. I have heard the complaint that it is hard to tell what the Dalai Lama is doing when – is he politician, religious figure, making casual remarks, what is he doing? Please, the feigned confusion is merely an excuse which you deliberately capitalize on, having calculated this as another way to introduce doubt in the minds of those with positive views of the Dalai Lama. The people writing this blog are adults, I presume, and if you cannot tell what the context of a comment is, if you cannot parse out the meaning of the comment, then you shouldn’t use it as the basis for your spurious claim.

    I am not anti-NKT, but a Kadampa practitioner. I am, however, more and more alienated and discouraged by these disingenuous claims and purposeful, albeit ridiculous, attempts to paint the Dalai Lama as something other than a Buddhist.

    I offer you this feedback with the hope that you will think at least twice before you claim something like this again. Making outrageous claims that cannot be verified makes all of your statements dubious. Do you understand the disservice you do yourself when you exaggerate and grasp at straws to support your position? You are eroding your own credibility. Please don’t try to blame the lack of support you will experience on the Dalai Lama, you are doing this to yourself.

    Though you claim that the NKT and WSS are separate, there is some very unfortunate mixing going on between the two, and this is one case in point. If the organizations are separate, the NKT has a certain reasonable deniability for the radical and offensive statements of the WSS. If you use the same language, logic and rhetoric on NKT websites as the WSS uses, then you are, in fact, no different, and you lose all of us who have difficulties/qualms with the WSS. You are throwing away your own students and friends. This is quite sad.

    Please do not respond with all of the things that the Dalai Lama has done, that is the way that comments are often dealt with, to turn the argument around to another topic. I do not have the time to make all of this long response unassailable from a logical point of view, and it is not my intention to do so.

    I hope you will do the decent and honorable thing, and admit that you are being unreasonable in trying to assail the Dalai Lama as a non-Buddhist, based on some casual remarks given at public events. I encourage you to stick to the issues, and at least make sure that your claims can be substantiated, make sure they are true. You are responsible for your website content.

  15. Harry says:

    EKC,

    “BTW, to defend behaviour by saying someone else does it too (Harry, Sept 16th) is a non-argument.”

    I’m not defending behavior exclusively by saying someone else does it too. I give an argument and then i give an example of someone who has opposing views (to mine) and acts in this way, in defense of said behavior. Examples may strengthen arguments, which is why i used it.

    “I sincerely believe we need to take responsibility not just for what we write or say but for how what we write or say is received. If we are taken to be insincere it is up to us to either say, yes, I was and apologise if necessary, or to show how we are actually sincere in a way that people are able to receive.”

    I completely agree with you here. Taking responsibility for our speech is a really important thing. Personally i know i have much to improve. But i think it’s a bit risky, for one’s own sake, to leave our final judgement for the reply or lack of reply. There are an infinite number of reasons why whoever writes this blog may have decided not to reply to your accusation. Two reasons off the top of my head could be: They haven’t yet had the time. Or in view that someone already gave a reasonable response they didn’t feel the necessity (this being the case that they were innocent in relation to the accusation, of course). Or a combination of these two. That’s just two or three possibilities in an ocean.

    “Personally, I see posting aggressively to someone and then ending by saying you wish them well to be very strange, confusing and disorientating.”

    On one hand there is the fact that often what appears to our mind as aggressive appears to someone else’s mind as not aggressive. As in this case: you perceive this author as aggressive and i generally don’t. Similarly i sometimes perceive Tenzin Peljor as aggressive (like in his recent response to Ron Cook) and some people don’t see him so. Often these perceptions are very affected by our attachments and biases towards our own views. For example i’ve noticed that being an NKT-er and DS practitioner, and a human being suffering from attachment and friends, i read TP’s blog with a defensive attitude in my mind. This defensiveness makes me more susceptible to perceiving aggression in what may simply be confidence or humour. This is normal since we are all attached to our views (i think that’s the case anyway), but it’s important to recognize this if we want to learn truth. Attachment and bias cloud our perceptions.

    Even in the case that the poster is “aggressive” (inverted commas because as we know, confidence and humour can easily be interpreted as aggression. Especially if one is biased) i think it’s great that they have the decency of being courteous. Of course, unless their courtesy is sarcastic. I think things are much easily misinterpreted in writing since 90% of communication away from paper/screen is non-verbal, i.e. bodily.

    You seem like an honest person, EKC, but an underlying negativity seems to be present in your posts. I understand that your bad experiences with some people in the NKT have left you feeling bitter towards the tradition. Trust me, i know exactly how you feel. I’ve lived in 3 centres and now i live close to one, and in six years of involvement i’ve heard and seen all sorts of nonsense. I’ve felt bitter and angry too. But to be honest, if i check, it’s no more nonsense than anywhere else inhabited by delusional humans that i’ve come across. And because people are trying to practice Dharma (yes even in the sometimes pitiful, weak way us humans try) there seems to me to be so much more good than bad. For example, in the years i lived in centres i was always amazed at the speed in which conflicts were resolved between individuals. I’d never witnessed this before in a non-dharmic environment. I guess after years of kicking and screaming that the world is a mean place and that the NKT ain’t any less meaner i’m starting to think, hmm, maybe it really is something to do with my mind. It’s true, life isn’t all that nice, and no drop in new age centre or spiritual tradition is going to change that. When i came across NKT i thought life would just become all dandy and happy. Being surrounded by spiritual practitioners who are following the teachings of the blissful Buddha just had to be an endless happy dance. I was wrong and realizing this was painful. But i’m glad i stuck it through the disillusionment. When i was angry with NKT i just thought, well, i can leave now and let my anger eat me up, or i can remember all the good things NKT has given me and try and heal the wounds. I’m going through this process right now, and the first thing i’ve started to notice is how my anger was blowing things out of proportion.

    I’m not trying to re-convert you, i’m just saying the NKT isn’t as bad as you paint it. Your pain will ease if you learn to let go of your anger and see the NKT in a more realistic light. This is how it has been for me anyway. Perhaps your experience was worse than mine, and you really did come across a particularly deluded lot. I’m sorry if that is so. It seems to me fine that after this experience you choose to move on. I just think things will be easier for you without resentment, with compassion for those deluded people who were behaving in a harmful way.

    Take it easy,
    Harry

  16. Harry says:

    I kind of agree with Medibuddha that the “clean slate” claim is taken out of context. It seems a little bit contentious to use this quote against the DL for the good reasons Medibuddha has stated.

    From New Kadampa Truth

    Apologies if we did take the Dalai Lama’s quotations out of context and thank you, MediBuddha, for your research. We quoted the newspaper and did not too extensive research ourselves, which was lazy. It is true that we could have made our point (about his non-Buddhist behaviour with respect to his ban of Dorje Shugden practice) without bringing in the content of these teachings. Therefore, I have approved both comments pointing this out and removed the sentence in question.

    Best wishes,
    New Kadampa Truth

  17. hongkongphoey says:

    Two points….

    One…
    You said …”The WSS can tolerate other points of view. What it does not tolerate is the Dalai Lama’s political ban of Dorje Shugden practice in the exile community in India because this is causing suffering”.

    Then you say… “Most people in the WSS do not believe that the Dalai Lama’s way of behaving with respect to this religious persecution”.

    So is the issue a religious (spiritual) or political one. If it is a religious issue then your response must also be religious and the debate would be a theological one. If the issue is political then the debate would be a political one. Such confusions brings us to the sorry mess we have with the WSS/NKT stance on HHDL’s actions as both spiritual leader and political leader of the Tibetan people.

    So be honest about on what grounds you are challenging HHDL – political, spiritual or both (mixing religion and politics).

    Two

    You seem (the WSS) confused as to what constitutes debate – you do not debate (with an open mind) just present one sided info as fact. In the real world we call this spin. Anyone challenging this .. their argument is labelled as a smear – once again political manipulation tactics.

    Lets explore this mixing of religion and politics.

    you said “Most people in the WSS do not believe that the Dalai Lama’s way of behaving with respect to this religious persecution is in accordance with Buddha’s teachings on compassion and so on. However, the WSS does not regard the Dalai Lama as an enemy”.

    Buddha’s teachings on compassion shows us we should develop compassion for all living beings (equanimity). Choosing to be compassionate to a minority at the exclusion of the majority is not true compassion – it is compassion mixed with attachment. This attachment lead us to feel we are right and justified in our view. We can then take the moral high ground and in this case we can ‘justifiable call HHDL (the embodiment of Avoliketshvara the Buddha of Compassion to most Tibetans) acting without compassion (and give 6 reasons why he is not a Buddhist). If this is not creating an enemy in the mind i do not know what is.

    In Tibet there has been and still is terrible religious persecution. I do not see the WSS/NKT taking a stance here. Instead the picture of religious persecution within the monasteries in India is compared to the holocaust. Yet with an open mind maybe we could see that HHDL is acting in accordance with the majority view of the monks who live there. The figure of 1000 monks ‘kicked out’ of their homes is and an exaggeration in terms of numbers and does not bear close scrutiny. They have been allowed to keep their homes but they are not allowed to engage in monastery activities. Why? Because these are the rules of the monastery. When I lived in an NKT centre, what would have happened if i demanded to use the Gompa to do a long life puja for HHDL and encouraged others to follow me (or something more subversive perhaps)? Surely, by the logic of the WSS, it would have been an infringement of my religious freedom if i was not allowed to do so. If I was asked to leave then I would be being ‘kicked out’ of my home with nowhere to live and no money. What terrible suffering .. persecution by the NKT!

    Or maybe it was my fault and my karma.

    What I cannot understand is this. If Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri – the same person wearing different clothes. Then why not go for refuge to Manjushri. Then problem solved. Surely this would be the wise and compassionate thing to do. The practice of patience is very profound and includes the term patient acceptance. A very precious commodity indeed.

    But hey that’s just too easy….. or is this issue reallly about politics and spin and has nothing really to do with religious persecution. I think I will leave that one for Amnesty International to sort out.

    Peace.

    Oh and by the way the practice of patience is very profound and includes the term patient acceptance. A very precious commodity indeed.

  18. hongkongphoey says:

    I repeated the last paragraph. If you allow my comment can you please delete this duplication. Ta

  19. medibuddha says:

    Dear Kadampa Truth,

    I see you removed the statement that the Dalai Lama is “un-Buddhist”, as well as the related text.

    Thank you very much for doing that. I think the last three paragraphs, especially the one about wanting to engage the Dalai Lama on the Dorje Shugden controversy alone, keeps to the issue very nicely.

    Kind regards.

  20. Harry says:

    Yeah thanks.

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