Letter from a senior FPMT monk

Below are some extracts from a letter written by Yeshe Sangye, a senior FPMT monk and close disciple of Lama Yeshe. The full letter can be found here. As he says himself at the end of his letter:

I hope all that read this would understand better.
That is my hope to write. As I have not said anything for over twenty years.

Why are we including his letter here? Because many times NKT-IKBU Centers and students have been at the receiving end of slander and disruption at the hands of FPMT Centers and students, ever since the Dalai Lama spoke out against Dorje Shugden and the FPMT decided to follow his lead. This is a fact, and it is backed up by Yeshe Sangye (below).

It is a serious matter to be involved in criticizing other Mahayana traditions (it’s a downfall of the Bodhisattva vows) and impeding the spreading of pure Buddhadharma is contributing to the suffering of others. This is a big world, big enough for NKT~IKBU and the FPMT and all other Buddhist traditions.  There are billions of suffering beings and these beings all have different karma.  While we rejoice in the FPMT’s work of spreading Buddha’s teachings, we do not rejoice in their political actions against the NKT because of following the Dalai Lama’s view.  Dharma mixed with politics is like delicious food mixed with poison – the only result will be suffering in the end.

As explained on the New Kadampa Truth website, FPMT members are regularly contributing to  Internet forums where they criticize the NKT and try to dissuade anyone reading their posts from attending NKT Centers.  The NKT has written to the FPMT asking them to desist from criticizing our tradition and specifically mentioning some individuals on the Geshe program (Tenzin Peljor); but nothing has improved. Quite apart from the fact that the FPMT de facto has an official policy of discrimination in place by not allowing Dorje Shugden practitioners to be teachers, to ordain in the FPMT tradition, or even to attend FPMT teachings, here are a few specific examples of the treatment the NKT has received from the FPMT:

  1. FPMT Mexico has officially criticized NKT on their website.
  2. One FPMT student claimed on an Amazon Buddhist discussion group that we are praying for the death of the Dalai Lama or FPMT Teachers such as Thubten Gonpo, one of our main critics.
  3. A personal story from an NKT Teacher: “A student of mine who was heading for Foundation Programme spent the summer in Nepal.  He took one of the 10 day Lamrim courses at Kopan and told one of the nuns, a Swedish nun called Ven Karen, that he was from Kingston and went to the NKT Centre there.  He said she then spent a long time trying to convince him that we were a cult and that he should not go there.  She brought up things like we worship an evil spirit, we’re all about money etc. He came back disillusioned about our Centre and Buddhism in general. He wasn’t impressed with the FPMT that much, but her words stuck and after a couple of meetings with him, he left, taking with him our core students from the University.”
  4. Another personal story from an NKT Teacher: “We had a student in Taiwan whose auntie became an FPMT nun and was banned from coming to our centre. His name is ***** and N**** is still in touch with him.”
  5. A story of discrimination from France: “Around 2004 Vivre Autrement alternative health fair in Paris. We were denied a stand at this very popular annual event which attracts 1000s. I had applied under the name of Editions Tharpa, mainly to offer books etc. FPMT people turned the organizers against us, as they wanted to have a stand, and we were refused.”
  6. According to one testimonial received from an NKT member in Boston:”We were constantly hearing feedback from General Program students about how they were told by the FPMTers that we who attended NKT centers were not Buddhists, we were a money making cult, we had no authority to teach, our ordinations were not real, Geshe Kelsang was an evil wizard leading us all into hell … you get the idea.”

These are just a few examples – we have many more examples of FPMT interference in the development of the NKT-IKBU, and this sad state of affairs is still continuing today.

Lama Yeshe of the FPMT was no spirit worshipper. His wish in establishing the FPMT was to spread Dharma in the West, a wish that the New Kadampa Tradition is fulfilling. There is no conflict between Lama Yeshe’s and Geshe Kelsang’s intentions, and they were close friends and peers who regularly engaged in Gelugpa spiritual practice together, including monthly Dorje Shugden pujas; so why is the FPMT attacking us? It can only be because FPMT members have become a political tool of the Dalai Lama’s to fulfill his wish to destroy this tradition. Is this any way to repay Lama Yeshe’s kindness?

Here are extracts from the letter:

“LAMA YESHE was the very symbol of skillful compassionate action in constant motion and he mentioned many times that Dorje Shugden made his works grow as far as it did during his life time. Lama stayed true to his root teachers such as H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Geshe Rabten and H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche showing us what guru devotion is really meant to be free of political inclinations. In his practice of Dorje Shugden, Lama never hinted even slightly of sectarianism, or disregard for any form of religion never mind Buddhism.….Much simpler back then. Simpler that there was next to zero in lama-bashing, centre-bashing, lineage-bashing or siding up with H.H. the Dalai Lama for political reasons.
….If I must choose between the Dalai Lama and my root guru, Lama Yeshe, then I choose Lama Yeshe. He is the one that cared for me.

….I HOPE FPMT WILL NEVER CRITICIZE DORJE SHUGDEN WHICH IS LAMA’S PERSONAL DHARMA PROTECTOR. I HOPE THAT FPMT STUDENTS WILL RESPECT LAMA’S WISHES AND PRACTICE THE DHARMA. I HOPE THEY NEVER CRITICIZE STUDENTS, CENTRES AND GREAT LAMAS WHO WISH TO CONTINUE THIS PRACTICE OF DORJE SHUGDEN. I am very happy to see Lama Yeshe sacred picture in this website’s masters sections. Many people are afraid to say the truth to look politically wrong. But that is not what the dharma is about. We should let go of attachment of this sort and just do our practice. Ego-less state of mind is the goal of our practice as Lama would say.

….Also never to criticize Dorje Shugden and the practices Lama gave us SO THAT HIS CURRENT INCARNATION CAN MANIFEST AS A DHARMA TEACHER. The only way his unmistaken current incarnation can manifest as a great dharma teacher again, is if his students keep samaya clean free of politics and free of politically motivated actions in the name of dharma. Otherwise, it would be the responsibilities of the students if the current Lama Yeshe incarnation cannot perform the actions as he had set out to do. After all, if we as FPMT members criticize others who practice Dorje Shugden, then that will accumulate very heavy karma. Why? Because we destroy the faith of others in their gurus. Do we have the right to do that? Does Lama Zopa’s closeness with H.H. the Dalai Lama validate FPMT CENRES AND MEMBERS TO BE SOME KIND OF SPIRITUAL POLICE. That type of spiritual arrogance will be the downfall of any dharma organization. IT IS CONTRARY TO THE SPIRIT OF LAMA YESHE’S ASPIRATIONS. We should reflect Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa well, by never criticizing other sects, lamas, lineages, practices, Dorje Shugden, etc. Why because it contradicts Lama Yeshe’s Bodhicitta aspirations. We should not especially criticize lamas who are spiritual heirs of Sera, Gaden, Drepung or who are students of Pabongkha, Trijang, Zong Rinpoches. Why? Because they are OUR LINEAGE LAMAS ALSO AND THEY ALL PRACTICED DORJE SHUGDEN AS THEIR PRINCIPLE PROTECTOR.

….We cannot think of Lama’s work just expanding in our life time which it can due to Lama Zopa. But into future lifetimes. Future generations. So for that to happen, we need continuation of Lama’s successor. If we just follow along the current political tides, we may look clean and good, but simultaneously it becomes damaging to what lama’s previous incarnation practiced and that would not be very good. What’s the point if Lama’s centers and works grow now and after Lama Zopa’s passing, it stops, slows down or what not? Is spiritual attainments gained by flashing pictures we have taken together with the Dalai Lama to other centers and justifying our arrogant authoritarian ways with that? I don’t think so. I think if Dalai Lama is close to FPMT we should reflect that well by being even more humble, even more gentle, even more kind so we do not stain the name of H.H. the Dalai Lama. We cannot uplift his name or prove our guru devotion to him by putting down anything in regards to Dorje Shugden. That would be a heavy price to pay at the expense of our own Lama Yeshe’s heart protector. That is Dorje Shugden.

So when Lama was alive, we practice Dorje Shugden and Dorje shugden is ok and a Buddha.
Kopan had monthly ‘secret’ pujas to Dorje Shugden as with most of the centers. The FPMT centers that were fortunate to have a great lama/geshe living nearby would always invite them monthly to the centers to do the monthly Dorje Shugden pujas as instructed by both Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa. The young Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche who resides in Nepal was often invited to Kopan Monastery to perform incredible pujas. Even before the current new Kopan Prayer Hall was built, many preliminary pujas had to be done on the land before the foundation was set. Kopan invited Kyabje Pabongkha Rinpoche to perform them. Then when Dharamsala started stepping up on their anti-Shugden campaign, Kopan cut their ties with Pabongkha Rinpoche. It remains so till this day amazingly and he is the reincarnation of our lineage master!!! I was amazed when I heard that from very reliable sources. In fact, Kopan wanted to look good, that the monk administrators influenced some Taiwanese sponsors against Pabongkha Rinpoche. Rinpoche was promised by them to build a Pabongkha Monastery in Nepal, and the Taiwanese had promised to sponsor it. In order to get on Dharamsala’s good side and to get the sponsorship for themselves, Kopan administrative monks told the Taiwanese Sponsors (which I will withhold name from here) that Pabongkha Rinpoche is not following Dalai Lama’s instructions to abandon Shugden practice and that they should not support Pabongkha’s Rinpoche’s intent on building the Monastery in Nepal. Consequently it worked and unfortunately for Kopan’s karma. My question is, who put Kopan as the spiritual police in Nepal and so daringly create schism between their lineage guru’s sponsors??

Example the Delhi FPMT Branch centre in the past on monthly basis would invite the great Rongtha Gyabgon Rinpoche who lived in Ladakh Budh Vihar, New Delhi to perform the pujas at their centre every month. Dorje Shugden full puja was done at FPMT centre in Delhi monthly with great offerings. It was advised by Lama Zopa. In fact, Lama Zopa used to perform the Dorje Shugden pujas in both Kopan and Delhi himself on many occasions!! Himalayan Yogic Institute in Katmandu had a Dorje Shugden statue in their side shrine room in a box with offerings, it would be opened from time to time as did the Delhi centre.

So Kopan is now very great, how did Dorje Shugden damage Kopan?? What was the wrong results manifesting now due to the decades that Lama Yeshe practiced Dorje Shugden and had Kopan do pujas monthly?? So if a friend helped us in the past, and we get a new friend, we simply abandon the old friend? Is that ethical or dharmic?

Then Lama dies and we don’t practice because H.H. the Dalai Lama says not to. And HH has reasons beyond our ordinary minds can conceive. Then one unfortunate day, H.H. Dalai Lama passes away (very sad time) and Lama Yeshe is back and then we again practice Dorje Shugden?? I mean that is a strange scenario. Back and forth that is.

It is very sad, because many of the FPMT centers now go on spiritual witch-hunts condemning other centers in their same cities. Using Dorje Shugden practice as negative as their ‘pure’ reasoning to take students away from their respective centers to join the nearby FPMT centers. But in fact they are just as I see it, trying to increase their own memberships. I have witnessed this. Many, many, many of the older Lama Yeshe students have gone underground with their practices of Dorje Shugden. Some like me do not really go to the centers here in the USA anymore. They will not abandon their practice of Dorje Shugden because of their great devotion to Lama Yeshe and are somewhat flabbergasted at the direction that some new FPMT centers’ are going with their arrogant witch hunts. What is important to remember is JUST BECAUSE YOU ATTEND THE DALAI LAMA’S TEACHINGS, OR HAVE TAKEN PHOTOS WITH HH DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY VALIDATE YOU AS A SPIRITUAL POLICEMAN AND GO ON WITCH-HUNTS. We must practice the essence of what HH teaches as did Lama Yeshe, which are tolerance, compassion, forgiveness and not ever slandering any lama, dharma, lineage or practice. As the karmic retributions will fall onto us. We should never mislead new FPMT students toward this line of thought. We are destroying our organization slowly if we do so.
FPMT centers citing so and so practice Dorje Shugden and so therefore they are not pure. That is so hypocritical and political because Lama Yeshe practiced and Lama Zopa was recognized as a tulku by Dorje Shugden himself. In Dorje Shugden is a ghost, then Lama Zopa’s recognition becomes nil. In fact some of the FPMT centers’ committees are in direct competition to attach students to their OWN centers for fundraising, attendance, membership, etc. So they use the heinous method of condemning Dorje Shugden to scare other centre members into joining FPMT. In fact when they do that, it is a disgrace. Older/senior FPMT students should speak up to new and younger ones who have not had the great fortune to meet our founder, Lama Yeshe.

Lama Yeshe’s main protector practice was Dorje Shugden till the end. He didn’t take an unfortunate rebirth. Dorje Shugden didn’t harm him? IF LAMA YESHE WAS PRAYING TO A GHOST, THEN WHY DIDN’T HE TAKE REBIRTH IN THE THREE LOWER REALMS??


We must think clearly and not be swept away by convenient political tides in order to fill our dharma centers with membership so it gives it a successful appearance. If that was done, what would be the cost?  It would affect Lama Osel’s current incarnation in not being able to manifest as a dharma teacher. We destroy other people’s faith in their lama, and help them break their samaya with their lama, that karma would return back to us PERSONALLY AND AS A GROUP.

We as FPMT should respect our founder’s wishes and not ever criticize Dorje Shugden, his practitioners, his lineage, his followers in anyway because our founder, Lama Yeshe was one of them. We shouldn’t practice or not practice what the current political situation pressures us to or not to. We should do what our lama says. So during Lama’s life Dorje Shugden is good and now Lama is dead, so Dorje Shugden is bad??? Wouldn’t that infer that lama was wrong, had bad degenerate practices, lacking in wisdom, had no refuge, had no attainments and wasted his life praying to a spirit?? So if lama gave us Heruka initiation and practice, then it had no blessings because lama’s refuge degenerated due to his practice of Dorje Shugden?? Since Dorje Shugden is a spirit and Lama kept up his ‘sogtae’ (Dorje Shugden’s initiation) or life entrustment practices his whole life, then all of the other practices lama did was degenerated and ineffective when passed to us.
So any practices Lama Zopa received from Lama Yeshe and passes it to others would logically be degenerate also??? Wouldn’t it?

The implications are quite big if we choose to believe that way….So that would mean many of the practices that Lama Zopa does now and gives others that are directly from Lama Yeshe are degenerated because Lama Yeshe was degenerated?? Of course not. Very dangerous line of thought. Very ruinous direction we are heading toward. I watched Lama Zopa get brow-beaten into ‘giving’ up his Dorje Shugden practices. And Lama has to be degenerated because H.H. Kyabje Trijang and Zong Rinpoches were degenerated we have to falsely assume. Both these lamas practiced Dorje Shugden till they entered parinirvana (deaths)…Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche entered into 12 days of clear light meditations in Dharamsala and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, three days. And their unmistaken incarnations are back recognized by both H.H. the Dalai Lama and Dorje Shugden via his oracle again. How come they didn’t go to the Three Lower Realms since they worshipped Dorje Shugden the ‘spirit’ their whole lives in fact in all their previous many incarnations they worshipped also.

They didn’t descend into the lower realms from a lifetime of practicing and propagating a Dorje Shugden. Since these great lamas have ‘degenerated’ their refuge by the practice of Dorje Shugden which implies they have zero attainments in the first place to choose a spirit to worship, then their other practices naturally became defiled. Do we choose to believe that way of thought?? I and many others clearly don’t. It doesn’t make sense. Many teachers and thousands of their disciples around the world today are committed and practice Dorje Shugden today. Because they have been given this practice by H.H. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche. They are following the commands of their root gurus, so what are they doing wrong? We switch gurus like status symbols?? These are both the root gurus of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa. So we should not criticize other centers, lamas, students that practice Dorje Shugden. Be true to your dharma practice.

Even if hypothetically lama had given up his Dorje Shugden practices during his life, which he did not, his gurus didn’t give it up. So if his gurus did not give it up, then the practices received by Lama Yeshe would have been degenerated since his lamas are degenerated. Lama Yeshe was inviting H.H. kyabje Zong Rinpoche up till his death in the early 80’s to his centers giving teachings, initiations, transmissions and commentaries. And Dorje Shugden life empowerments to hundreds. So however you want to look at it, then many of the practice graciously conferred by lama Zopa today are in one way or another defiled or at least contaminated. Could that be so? I don’t want to go that direction.

So however many photos lama Zopa takes together with H.H. the Dalai Lama and advertised (as today, affiliations with Dalai Lama in any way would hint at authenticity/genuine practice whether you are or not) or whoever many events of H.H. are sponsored by Lama Zopa, it still cannot wash away the inner degenerate practices received from Lama Yeshe. Is that what we choose to believe? Even if Lama Zopa truly gave up his Dorje Shugden practices to be ‘absolved’, then he would have to give up all the practices that Lama Yeshe gave him also or at least don’t pass it to others. Then we have to believe the founder of our FPMT Lama Yeshe WAS WRONG.


In order to be truly clean? Just giving up Dorje Shugden wouldn’t be enough as his root lama, Lama Yeshe would have to be thought of as WRONG IN LAMA ZOPA’S DAILY MEDITATIONS. I also don’t think so. So I again request everyone to think of the implications….

Yeshe Sangye”

The full letter can be found here.

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6 Responses to Letter from a senior FPMT monk

  1. Matthew Rochford says:

    this is really interesting

    on the one hand FPMT are being unskillful in their criticism of NKT centres and on the other a senior FPMT monk has stated (what many of us knew already) that Lama Yeshe was a sincere and committed Shugden practitioner.

    this process on uncovering the facts and the truth goes on..

    all best wishes

  2. mahachakra says:

    This shows that possibly Lama Osel will be the new awakening for the FPMT when his generation grows up.
    He is in fact born in the same years as myself and many other young Buddhists..which will see a new Dalai lama emerge as well as see the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe,Trijang Rinpoche,Zong Rinpoche and NKT’s western Dharma grow up and mature.

    This will be a very interesting time.

  3. Thomas Canada / Cedar City,Utah says:

    A new Dalai Lama is as appealing as a re-elected George Bush. The Dalai Lama lineage is as finished and done as the dungeons beneath the Potala.

  4. Steve Rogers says:

    I don’t know and many people do not know whether a new Dalai Lama would be good for the Tibetan people.

    I do know that peace of mind and peaceful friendly conduct towards other beings would be good for everyone and would make people stop worrying about who is their leader, what is their nationality etc.

  5. v svendsen says:

    I am not a Buddhist..but didnt Buddhism originate in India and transfer to China and Tibet etc?
    Buddhism evolved in those places in context with those new cultures and places it found itself in.
    Now we see Buddhism evolving and finding expression in a western context.
    Any seeker or person interested in Buddhism would find this infighting a clear indication that Buddhists are hellbent on their own destruction.
    A belief system that produces such destructive behaviour is no better than the troubled world we already live in.

    From New Kadampa Truth
    Thank you for your comment. It is politics, not Buddhism, that is producing the destructive behaviour of the Dalai Lama banning a Buddhist tradition; and it is this politicking that requires a response if this tradition is not to be wiped out. People of all faiths need the freedom to practice their religion without political interference, and sometimes they have to stand up for this.

  6. Chris Armistead says:

    Hello – I recently began attending an NKT temple here in Phoenix to learn Dharma and Buddhism, since all the other studies I’ve done for spiritual enlightenment have pointed me in the direction of the Buddha. It saddens me to hear of this disagreement amongst Buddhists. For me, anything that brings me closer to enlightenment is good, so I intend on going. I do not concern myself too much with all this; Buddhism is Buddhism; there is no ‘papal’ authority vested in anyone that I have seen. If some Buddhists decide to act as a judge toward other Buddhists, then it seems to me that this is not what the Buddha taught us to do, but rather to listen with an open mind and heart. Am I mistaken?

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