The sale of Losang Dragpa Centre (Todmorden) and remortgaging of NKT properties

June 5, 2010

Here the NKT office replies to the questions raised in the comments to this article on 21 May 2010 by John Swainson. Thank you, John, for the opportunity to clarify.

(Q1)  Has the NKT used money from the sale of Losang Dragpa Centre (in Todmorden, West Yorkshire) for the development of centres abroad contrary to the Internal Rules?

No.

In accordance with Clause 9.1 of LDC’s Memorandum of Association and with section 17§5 of NKT-IKBU Internal Rules, the Spiritual Director of LDC (i.e. the General Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition~International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) advised that it would be most beneficial if LDC’s remaining assets could be given to Manjushri KMC, the original “Mother Centre” of the NKT-IKBU, for subsequent distribution to one (or more than one) other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU.  This proposal was checked with the Charity Commission, explaining that Manjushri KMC is a part of the NKT-IKBU charity, and was then formally adopted by the directors and members of LDC.

In this way the requirements of LDC’s constitution and of the Internal Rules were met.

The receipts from the sale of Dobroyd Castle were donated by LDC to the NKT-IKBU charity in October 2008. They were then designated by NKT-IKBU to International Temple Project purposes, where the funds would bring most benefit. Some of the funds were used to buy a property for Hotel Kadampa Holland in January 2009, and the rest contributed to subsequent international developments, all to promote the Buddhist Faith of the New Kadampa Tradition around the world in accordance with the charitable objects of LDC and of the NKT-IKBU.

Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC) was closed only because no NKT Teacher was qualified to improve the Centre spiritually or materially, given the history of spiritual impurity at the Centre.

In general, the trustees of a charity are bound by law to strive to realize the current market value of any assets that their charity offers for sale.  This is what the directors of LDC did when selling Dobroyd Castle.  Professional valuations of Dobroyd Castle made in previous years were  not relevant.

(Q2)  Has the NKT raised money, through remortgaging properties, to finance the International Temples Project (ITP) when those properties were in need of funds for development, contrary to the Internal Rules?

No.

Section 18§1 of the present NKT-IKBU Internal Rules says:  Since the purpose of opening NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres is to spread NKT Kadampa Buddhism, all the assets of these Dharma Centres shall be used only for this aim.  The annual profits made by each local NKT-IKBU Kadampa Buddhist Centre shall be used for the development of that Centre, including improvements to accommodation and so forth, and any remaining profit shall be donated to the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account of their respective country.

The purpose of this rule is twofold:  (1) to indicate to the directors of each Centre that annual profits should not merely be ‘hoarded’ by the Centre; and (2) to give clear guidance as to the most beneficial way to use surplus funds to promote the Buddhist Faith of the New Kadampa Tradition in accordance with the charitable objects of the Centre.

The rule does not otherwise limit the discretion of Centre directors as to how to use their existing Centre assets to promote the Buddhist Faith of the New Kadampa Tradition most effectively.

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Smear: NKT has a global empire of businesses from which it makes lots of money

December 31, 2009

One common smear from NKT detractors is that NKT is really a money making empire of book publishing, Dharma Festivals and Celebrations, Retreat Centers, hotels, cafes and spas, and that these activities and businesses make a lot of money.

Truth: As far as explicit business activities are concerned, there is Tharpa Publications (whose main purpose is to benefit others by distributing Buddha’s teachings in Geshe Kelsang’s books), and the Kadampa Hotels.

To get some perspective, only three of the NKT’s Kadampa Meditation Centers (KMCs) out of over one thousand Centers and branch classes are Kadampa hotels. These are situated in Malaga (Spain), Tuscany (Italy), and South Limburg (Holland) respectively.  The reason for the existence of these Hotels as KMCs is that when Geshe Kelsang and his students were looking for a suitable building for KMC Spain, the most suitable was a hotel in Malaga.  Unfortunately, the local authorities would not allow a change of use for this building, which had to remain as a hotel, so Geshe Kelsang’s idea was to buy the building and operate the hotel with the KMC inside it.

One of the main aims of the New Kadampa Tradition is to ‘exemplify Buddhist practice through public service’ and a hotel is a perfect medium to accomplish this.  Kadampa Buddhism has cherishing others at its heart, so the intention is for guests to enjoy a stay at a hotel where all the staff have this as their heart practice.  It seems so far that this attitude of the Kadampas who work in the three Kadampa Hotels is the reason for their popularity – the guests are treated with uncommon kindness and respect because the primary aim of the Hotels is to cherish others, not to make money. In any case, profits from these hotels are, as with all profits from Kadampa Buddhist Centers and Kadampa Meditation Centers, donated to the International Temples Project (ITP) for the building of Temples for World Peace.

NKT Dharma Centers, whether Kadampa Meditation Centers  (KMCs) or Kadampa Buddhist Centers (KBCs), often have World Peace Cafes associated with them. Some of these make a profit, but their main purpose is not financial. Their primary purpose is to exemplify Buddhist practice through public service and to act as a means by which the public can connect with Buddhism, or just find out more about Buddhism and the Kadampa Buddhist communities.  Profits from these World Peace Cafes are used to defray the running costs of a Center and to support Center development.  Any funds that are not required for this purpose are donated to the ITP.

No individual or Center can benefit from any profits from NKT activities because these profits are used solely to build Temples for World Peace. This is legally enshrined in the moral discipline guide of the New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union, the Internal Rules:

14§7. The profits from each Festival and Dharma Celebration shall be used only for the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project; except that profits from the annual International Festivals held in the UK may also be used as properly required for the running of the NKT-IKBU.

and

18. Resources of NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres

18§1. Since the purpose of opening NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres is to spread NKT Kadampa Buddhism, all the assets of these Dharma Centres shall be used only for this aim. The annual profits made by each local NKT-IKBU Kadampa Buddhist Centre shall be used for the development of that Centre, including improvements to accommodation and so forth, and any remaining profit shall be donated to the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account of their respective country.

18§2. At the end of the financial year each local NKT-IKBU Kadampa Buddhist Centre shall send a copy of their annual financial report to their NSD, to the Secretary and to the Temple & KMC Development Director.

18§3. The Directors of the NKT Charity together with the Education Council Representatives shall have the authority to prevent the misuse of the assets of any NKT-IKBU Dharma Centre.

18§4. Annual profits made by the KMCs, international Retreat Centres, Tharpa Publications and Hotel Kadampas in each country throughout the world must be donated to an NKT-IKBU International Temples Project account.

18§5. At the end of each financial year the Administrative Director of each KMC and each international Retreat Centre, the Finance Director of each Tharpa Publications and the Managing Director of each Hotel Kadampa shall send a detailed financial report to the Secretary, the Temple & KMC Development Director and the Treasurer.

18§6. All the funds in the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project accounts throughout the world must only be used for the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project and cannot be used by individual Dharma Centres or for any other purpose.

With respect to the claim that the NKT makes ‘a lot of money’,  all profits are donated to building Temples for World Peace. The more money that is raised, the more people around the world are benefitted through having access to these Temples and the teachings of Buddha.

Some people have argued that business is necessarily bad or at least not compatible with Buddhism. But business, like any other activity, can be either good or bad depending upon the motivation with which we engage in it.  Resources are necessary for benefiting others.  For example Marpa (Spiritual Guide of the famous Buddhist saint Milarepa) would engage in business and use the money he made to travel to India so that he could obtain and bring back Buddhist texts for the benefit of the Tibetans.

One of the six perfections that are the main path to enlightenment is giving.  Through operating Kadampa Hotels, World Peace Cafes and other appropriate businesses, Kadampas have the chance to practice cherishing others, and the profits from these activities are given to others in the form of Kadampa Temples that are intended to create peace in the world. Those training on the path to enlightenment try to give up the wish to keep things for themselves and dedicate their activities and possessions to the benefit of others.  In the case of Kadampa businesses, everything is created for and donated to the benefit of all living beings.


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