(Please remember that you are still most welcome to send stories of your own experiences of the New Kadampa Tradition to our comments section on this blog entry: Kadampa Blogs and Questionnaires)
On a new page on the website, New Kadampa Truth, there is a clear explanation of the New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT~IKBU). I am including it here as it gives a helpful background to the tradition for those who do not know much about it.
As of 2008, the New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT~IKBU) is an international association of 1100 study and meditation Centers in over 40 countries throughout the world. One of the fastest-growing grass roots Buddhist traditions in the world, the New Kadampa Tradition aims to bring pure Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings to a modern-day audience, making them accessible and practical for new students as well as experienced practitioners.
Kadampa Buddhism was first established by Indian Buddhist master Atisha (982-1054 AD), who reintroduced Buddha’s pure teachings into 11th century Tibet at the request of the Tibetan King Jangchub O. ‘Ka’ refers to Buddha’s teachings of Sutra and Tantra, and ‘dam’ to Lamrim, Atisha’s special presentation of these teachings, known in English as ‘the stages of the path to enlightenment’. Kadampas are practitioners who take Buddha’s teachings as personal advice and put them into practice in their daily lives by following the instructions of Lamrim.
Introduced in the West by Tibetan-born (and now naturalized British and US citizen) meditation master Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the NKT~IKBU follows the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism as taught by Atisha and Tibetan Buddhist master Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 AD) The tradition was passed in an unbroken lineage (transmitted from realized teacher to student) from Je Tsongkhapa through the generations to Je Phabongkhapa (1878-1941 AD), and finally to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (1901-1981 AD), the teacher of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, and to Trijang Rinpoche’s close disciples, including Geshe Kelsang Gyatso himself.
The New Kadampa Tradition closely follows the original intention of Atisha’s presentation, and that of Je Tsongkhapa who revitalized the practice of Kadampa Buddhism in 13th century Tibet, further clarifying the presentation and setting a pure example of systematic study and moral discipline for his followers, who became known as ‘new Kadampas’ or ‘Gelugpas’ (the ‘Virtuous Tradition’).
The New Kadampa Tradition, as introduced by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, brings these instructions into a modern vernacular, aiming to integrate Buddha’s teachings into a cohesive system of study and practice designed for people with modern lives and fitting into their indigenous culture. With three distinct Study Programs (General Program, Foundation Program and Teacher Training Program) offered at Centers internationally, the New Kadampa Tradition offers classes at different levels, appealing to those seeking practical advice for daily living as well as to those wishing to deepen their experience of Buddhist practice through formal study and meditation.
The NKT~IKBU holds three International Dharma Festivals throughout the year, attracting thousands of visitors, with national and regional Festivals and Dharma Celebrations held in many countries. Almost 200 Resident Teachers from Centers throughout the world participate in the International Teacher Training Program (ITTP) each Summer. There are currently over 700 Buddhist monks and nuns in the NKT. The ITTP and TTP (Teacher Training Program) produce many ordained and lay Buddhist teachers to lead Centers and branch classes in their own communities.
The NKT~IKBU is an international non-profit organization registered in England as a charitable company. Through the International Temples Project, established in the early nineties, the NKT~IKBU has built Kadampa Buddhist Temples for World Peace in the UK, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Spain, with plans for additional Temples soon in Germany and Australia. The project is funded entirely by voluntary donations and by revenue from International Buddhist Festivals. Individual NKT~IKBU Centers operate many World Peace Cafes throughout the world. The NKT~IKBU operates a Hotel Kadampa in Southern Spain and another in the Italian region of Tuscany; and there are Kadampa International Retreat Centers in Scotland and Switzerland, with short- and long-term retreatants. Tharpa Publications has published 22 NKT Dharma books by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, now translated into several languages, including accessible books on meditation and Buddhist teachings as well as detailed commentaries to traditional Buddhist texts.
Most NKT~IKBU Centers and other facilities are operated primarily by volunteers, with a small group of sponsored employees receiving a stipend for their work. All Temples and NKT Centers are open to the public for individual and group visits, and many Centers work closely with their communities through school programs, branch classes, prison programs, hospice programs and other special outreach programs.
You are welcome to visit any NKT~IKBU Center any time you wish. Please see the official website www.kadampa.org for a list of Centers and other information.