Bulletin: New NKT-IKBU Temple & KMC Development Director

Kelsang Pema has been asked to step down as NKT-IKBU Temple & KMC Development Director by the Directors of the Charity because she was no longer performing all the functions of her office in accordance with the Internal Rules.

New Kadampa Truth would like to thank Pema for her sincere work for the NKT-IKBU. We wish her every good health, happiness, and delight in her Dharma practice.

The Directors of the Charity have appointed Kelsang Rabchog, formerly administrative director of Manjushri KMC, to take her place.

Stephanie Atkinson, formerly director of Tharpa Publications UK, is the new administrative director for Manjushri KMC.

Peter Davis is the new director of Tharpa Publications UK.

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27 Responses to Bulletin: New NKT-IKBU Temple & KMC Development Director

  1. Madeleine says:

    I wish Pema well, thanks Pema.

    But I can’t help thinking that this is a good development for the NKT-IKBU because, for whatever reason, and maybe it was an experiment, Pema was juggling too many balls on her own.

    First it looked like the teachers had too much authority, but then in reversing that situation it looked like Pema and a few admin directors under her control had too much authority. So asking her to step down seems to be acknowledging that.

    I appreciate the way that the NKT organization keeps evolving and becoming more democratic. The middle way would seem to be where teachers, managers and students can work more as a team and collectively take ownership and responsibility for the flourishing of their centers. What do others think?

  2. John Swainson says:

    ‘Kelsang Pema has been asked to step down as NKT-IKBU Temple & KMC Development Director by the Directors of the Charity because she was no longer performing all the functions of her office in accordance with the Internal Rules.’

    12§3. As the moral discipline guides, the Education Council Representatives shall concentrate on the following three steps:
    (a) becoming aware of any breach of moral discipline or of these Internal Rules which has occurred, principally regarding (i) Dharma Centres, (ii) ordained Sangha, (iii) Resident Teachers and (iv) practitioners living in NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres. When any such problem is recognised, the Education Council Representatives should:
    (b) ask and encourage the Dharma Centre or individuals involved to stop their inappropriate behaviour. If they do not agree to change their behaviour accordingly:
    (c) report the problem to the Directors of the NKT-IKBU Charity, and then implement any practical solution that the Directors may require.

    The question arises yet again… did she refuse to ‘change her inappropriate behaviour’?

    Or did the The Educational Council become aware of a breach of the rules, part a, miss out part b, and implement part c?

  3. Kevin says:

    It’s an enormous job with massive responsibility, I think Pema did a wonderful job for a long time. I don’t know how she did it, I don’t think I could have.

    Pema, you more than deserve a rest 🙂 Good luck Rabchog, I’m sure you will be great too.

  4. newkadampatruth says:

    I think we can safely assume that part b was not left out, John, although please note that it is the Charity Directors (not the Education Council) who are responsible for the appointment and removal of the KMC and Temples Director:

    4§6. The Directors of the Charity shall be responsible for the appointment and removal of the four main executive officers. When one of these main executive offices becomes vacant for any reason then the Directors of the Charity shall appoint a replacement through prior discussion with the continuing main executive officers before appointing a replacement.

  5. A. Thorssen says:

    Responding to Madeleine, I think you have hit the nail on the head. I wonder if the Internal Rules will be modified to share out the responsibilities of the Temples Director. Another alternative is for all future Temples Directors to be chosen for their delegation and people skills. After all, the US President has a lot on his plate too.

    Or a bit of both…

  6. John Swainson says:

    If you are pointing out an error in my post then the Internal Rules must contradict each other as all I did was quote from them.

    The rules do state The Educational Council should report any problem to the Directors and then ‘implement any practical solution that the Directors may require’. Such as removal from the post.

    Are you saying the Directors were aware of inappropriate behaviour before the Education Council, whose duty it is to become ‘aware of any breach of moral discipline or of these Internal Rules’?

    If so, then the inappropriate behaviour must have only been obvious to a very small group of people.

  7. Khechog says:

    Good luck Pema, your work is apreciated.

    In response to Madeleine, my experience is that your description of a way forward, if I understand it correctly, is already happening. Though it did look to me like Pema was holding an unbelievable ammount we don’t actually know that this was an issue. If it was, it would seem wise to spread the role – I’m sure this will be addressed if necessary.

  8. newkadampatruth says:

    John, no, we were not pointing out an error, just clarifying who it is who appoints and removes the four main executive officers for the benefit of our readers. All procedures were followed correctly.

  9. lois smith says:

    where is pema now ? is she been removed from the nkt? i must say she seemed to have a bit of a chip on her shoulder about a few things….

  10. Hello friends, Kadampa.
    This moment, help us to reflect and find
    wisdom, on the blessing of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

  11. ryanengen says:

    I have been with the NKT for many years now, and my experience has shown me that we somehow have the right person at the right time; and that as times change, so do the personnel making it happen. Pema literally carried the weight of the world for the last few years. I don’t know anybody else who could have done what she did. I secretly wondered whether there was more than one of her…

    The NKT is an evolving organization. It tries to identify how it can do better and does not hesitate to make changes when appropriate. I believe it is this ability to reinvent itself again and again which will ensure its long run viability.

    In any case, a MAJOR thank you to Pema for all of your hard work, and good luck to Rabchog, who I do not know but have heard good things about.

  12. I love the NKT says:

    Yes, thank you to Pema. And i agree with Ryan that the NKT is constantly trying to improve. The NKT is doing something quite radical with bringing an ancient tradition to a modern world, and transforming a system of delivery that was always culturally autocratic into something that is democratic (and while it is at it, trying to separate Buddhism from politics). Sometimes this means that things have to be done by trial and error, and the evolving Internal Rules reflect this, as do the mistakes that sometimes get made.

    My hope in this latest development is that it will now become easier again to give feedback to the powers that be. At some KMCs, information was only solicited by Pema from the one person working directly for her, even if that person was new to the center. Other people who had been around forever were not consulted, decisions got taken based on limited intel, and this, I believe, led to some mistakes. And sometimes it went the other way too — the kmc admin director would instigate radical and sometimes unwelcome changes with no explanation or justification other than “Pema says so”, and this caused a certain disenfranchisement amongst those on the ground.

    I don’t think it was meant to be like that, I think it was just the pressures of having to work fast due to being responsible for so much. Perhaps it needs to be spelled out that constructive comments and feedback are always going to be welcome from the communities? I understand that the KMCs need to be flagship centers and therefore to a certain extent centrally controlled (at least, I think that’s the idea?) But there are loads of competent and dedicated local people at the KMCs and it’ll be great if they get consulted more, IMHO, as they are then more likely to take ownership of and responsibility for their centers, which are then more likely to grow and flourish.

    I am optimistic that this will happen as I think everyone wants it to. Good luck Rabchog 🙂

  13. Kevin says:

    You know what gives me hope? NKT is very transparent when it comes to organizational changes. For better or for worse, there’s a lot of interest in what NKT-IKBU is doing, in the organization and the people. Some of that interest is malicious, some of it genuine. NKT’s organizational ups and downs are there for all to see. No doubt other Buddhist organizations have changes and problems with their structure and people but those are not made public in the way that NKT publicizes its changes. There’s nothing to hide and it’s done in a way that’s dignified. Everyone makes mistakes and it’s not always wise to publicize those mistakes over the whole internet. I think that people should be given the freedom to make mistakes without fear of their reputations being trashed – after all, we’re all just learning and trying, so well done to New Kadampa Truth for telling us everything that’s going on. I believe it is due to the unfair criticism that NKT has faced in recent years from the Dalai Lama’s followers and ex-members that such transparency exists whereas it may not in other Buddhist traditions who have not had to address such criticism with dignity and tenacity.

  14. lois smith says:

    ‘pema says so ‘ which would translate to ‘geshla says so’ don’t you think ?
    I really think that the idea of “there are loads of competent and dedicated local people at the KMCs and it’ll be great if they get consulted more, IMHO, as they are then more likely to take ownership of and responsibility for their centers” would be a fantastic leap forward for the nkt. Good idea Rabchog!

  15. Geoff says:

    ‘pema says so ‘ which would translate to ‘geshla says so’ don’t you think ?

    You know, from what i’ve heard, this has been the problem, people assuming that all Pema’s decisions have come directly from Geshe-la, when in fact they have not. Who knows whether she misrepresented Geshe-la deliberately or unintentionally. Who knows whether some people wanted to believe her so they themselves could hide behind her authority and justify the things they were doing, or whether they just believed it out of blind faith. Whatever the case, that false assumption was there and is what caused mistakes to occur.

    So, we live and learn. How we prevent that mistake occurring again with the next person in charge is the question. Do we trust our own integrity and speak up when we think mistakes are being made, even respectfully reporting the mistakes to the relevant authorities? (I suppose in the case of the KMC and Temples director that would mean reporting their decisions to the charity directors? Or the Education Council via the NKT secretary?) Being faithful of course does not mean we must be sheep; it sometimes means sticking our neck out.

    Toeing the party line against our better instincts is not advisable when there is no actual party line to toe, just changes in the wind, which we later discover when the house of cards comes down.

    Checks and balances is how democracy works, and so my feeling is that this is the direction in which we hopefully are headed. For this to happen, the powers-that-be have to be happy to receive feedback and there must be no fear of reprisal for those giving it. Of course, their feedback can be dismissed if it is not appropriate, but the person must not be dismissed for giving it.

    My thoughts, anyway. (And I think it should be noted that a majority of NKT centres do work very democratically already).

  16. lois smith says:

    Great reply , i think it is important to find out why see was removed though to show total transparency and maybe this maybe show some of those critics that we have changed !

  17. poospoon says:

    why would a stainless tradition need to change ?

  18. Geoff says:

    The tradition itself does not need to change, the Dharma is beautiful and comes through a realized lineage from Buddha Shakyamuni via Lama Tsongkhapa.

    But the human organization that exists as a vehicle to bring this Dharma to the modern world can constantly improve, of course.

  19. lois smith says:

    Transparency or bust

  20. A Kadampa monk says:

    There is no way to gain complete protection from the sort of things that have happened over the past years as the NKT evolves. Fundamentally it all boils down to whether we are keeping Dharma in our hearts and coming from a pure place and not from ego. No matter how many checks and balances we have, if individuals bearing great responsibility lose their pure motivation, faith, and compassion things will go wrong. This is true in any religious organization.

    Pema started with a really good motivation and tried her best but somewhere along the line things went wrong. Power sharing is the main external protection against the corruptive influence that power can have, and it will help protect the people at the top from losing their pure motivation. But our final protection as an organization is in our minds, and the more we are collectively aware of that within our organization the less we will depend on external structures alone to protect us.

    I believe the Internal Rules are being changed, and I hope some of the changes will shift the power over to a greater number of people. But, even with a team of people, we can see from many other organizations that a culture where feedback is not welcomed is still very possible. So again it still comes down to the Dharma practice of everyone within the NKT, especially those in positions of responsibility.

  21. Jim says:

    Yes, I agree with you. This would apply to all of us, including our spiritual directors, teachers and organizers — we all have to be careful. Dharma is everything that the NKT is set up to give, so of course it makes sense to enjoy our own product, walking the talk. (Frankly, the less responsibility you have, the easier this can be, sometimes 😉

    We also don’t need to take this as an invitation to be passive and do nothing skilful about our external conditions — for example the Internal Rules are constantly changing in accordance with our society’s needs and as mistakes are rectified, and this is an important process of compassion in action and skilful means.

    It is the nature of the samsaric beast to develop delusions and mistaken appearances, to think again and again that we are right and others are wrong. I do it all the time. It seems from all what Buddha is saying that there is no one really to blame here, only our delusions. So perhaps we also need to not waste any good crisis that arises but practice understanding and forgiving each other instead. That way we can move on, keeping our sights on the only thing that should matter to an authentic NKT student, which is using Dharma to get rid of our real enemies of self-grasping and self-cherishing. Anyway, thank you Kadampa monk, i’m going to keep trying.

  22. lois smith says:

    If this website is supposed to answer rumours then it should be able to answer this one….
    I repeat has geshla had a stroke.

  23. newkadampatruth says:

    Hi Lois,

    As we replied to you privately, there are no grounds for this rumor, and we are not sure where it is coming from. (There have been similar rumors about Geshe Kelsang’s health on the Survivors’ site over the years, none substantiated.)

    Thanks and best wishes,
    New Kadampa Truth

  24. lois smith says:

    thanks for clearing that up

  25. Incidentally, on the day this rumor got started, I received an email reply from Geshe-la (via info@kadampa.org) accepting my request that he compose a “Prayers for World Peace” sadhana. In this, we can all rejoice!

  26. jim says:

    Hello…I just discovered this site today and don’t know if this is the correct place to post or not…

    Just wanted to say since 2007 NKT teachings through the kind support of Kelsang Tonglam (HK) and Kelsang Yangdak (Malaysia)have been reaching the Philippines.

    If any NKT members are passing through the Philippines it would be a pleasure to meet with you all.

    Jim Ward
    Baguio City

  27. Michelle says:

    What I dont get is why Kelsang Pema has to be perfect? Nobody else is perfect so why do NKT people have to be perfect. I see over and over people watching those who are trying to run the NKT in a very judgemental way saying that they have to be perfect. Then when they show any human trait they become subject to criticism and ridicule. John Swainson, Ive seen a lot of people doing this perhaps since you are presenting this viewpoint you could explain where these people are coming from? Do the people running the NKT need to be perfect? Honestly how does it feel to be told all eyes are on you your not allowed to have any human personality/problems or else a load of people are going to be are going to be saying that the NKT is not valid. ST Leonards Hospice is run by people with egos, anger, attachment etc. The staff have internal arguements etc. Those people dont have to be perfect. They are respected as human beings and allowed to be human beings. Why do you say we are not allowed to be human beings its ridiculous. Its totally illogical. Is there any other organisation in this world where a group of people are watching waiting for someone to show a moment of anger so they can criticise them saying they are failures for showing human emotions?
    Thanks

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