Kadampa Blogs, Questionnaires and Videos

October 19, 2008

As it says on the homepage of our website, the aim of the NKT is to introduce practical methods that can help people of all backgrounds solve problems and find happiness. As Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the Founder of the NKT, says:

“Our intention in teaching Dharma is not just to spread Buddhism. We are trying to help the people of this world by giving them special methods to solve their daily problems and to achieve the permanent happiness of liberation. In itself, the flourishing of Buddhadharma is not important unless it benefits others. This is the main purpose of Buddhism.”

There are a growing number of personal blogs by Kadampa Buddhist practitioners talking about how they integrate Kadampa Buddhism into their daily lives and use it to solve their own and others’ problems. For example: This Mountain, That Mountain and I Love Kadampa Buddhism.

Also, on a few NKT Center websites you can find questionnaires of Kadampa students who talk about how they first got interested in Kadampa Buddhism and then answer some interesting questions. For example: Meditation in San Francisco Questionnaires (since 2006)

There are also some short internet teachings that give a sense of the accessibility of Kadampa Buddhism available on the main Kadampa website.

These blogs and so on* offer a small taste of a large variety of NKT students from all different walks of life. Tens of thousands of Kadampa Buddhists are scattered all around the world, East and West – some living in Centers, most living outside and working regular jobs – and all trying their best to integrate Buddha’s teachings into daily life to find inner peace, control their minds, and help others.

If you have any helpful experiences you’d like to share, please feel free to post them to the comments section of this article.

(*Please note that New Kadampa Truth does not take responsibility for the contents of unofficial blogs and so on.)


Bodhisattva Centre Refutations

September 9, 2008

Recently at a Bodhisattva Centre (Brighton) Open Day, two people handed out leaflets to newcomers in order to dissuade them from attending the Centre’s Buddhist meditation classes. Many of their complaints stem from their dislike of the open opposition of many New Kadampa Tradition students to the Dalai Lama over his ban of one of their spiritual practices. It is understandable that some people might wish to protest in support of the Dalai Lama and it is their freedom to do so. Moreover, the New Kadampa Tradition and Bodhisattva Centre have not claimed to be faultless organizations. However, the information these two people were handing out was largely incorrect and misleading, so we need to address it here. Please let us know if you have any more questions about any of the issues raised below.

This leaflet has also been copied and pasted onto a couple of other websites. Most recently it has been adapted 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 mostly be found below.

Replies to: Information about Bodhisattva Centre

(We thought you might like to know)

The Buddhist Centre you are about to visit is one of the larger residential Centres of the New Kadampa Tradition.www.kadampa.org You may notice that the publicity for this Open Day does not mention the NKT or any Registered Charity information about the Centre.

This was not a deliberate omission. Bodhisattva Centre was not trying to hide the fact that it is a member of the New Kadampa Tradition or a registered British charity, and these facts are very clear from all the other Centre publicity.

If you commit to study with the NKT at Bodhisattva Centre you will only study the books of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The original texts they are based on are also available in many other Buddhist traditions.

Geshe Kelsang’s books form the basis of the three NKT study programmes (the General Programme, Foundation Programme and Teacher Training Programme) but outside of their studies NKT students can and do read what they wish. Everyone has freedom to do as they choose. Please see Smear: NKT students are not allowed to read non-NKT books for more information on this.

It is reasonable and consistent with other traditions of Buddhism to study only the books of that tradition — for example, you don’t study Zen texts in a Theravadin monastery. Geshe Kelsang’s books are based on Je Tsongkhapa’s commentaries to Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings, which are mostly in Tibetan. Some translations are available but most are not. For example, Geshe Kelsang’s Tantric books have no precedent; such detailed instructions are not generally or easily available, even in the Tibetan tradition. Geshe Kelsang has received requests for Guide to Dakini Land, for instance, to be translated into Tibetan so that Tibetan practitioners can benefit from it.

Geshe Kelsang has never claimed that his books are his original work. In Buddhism there is no original work because the teachings should be able to be traced back in their entirety to the word of Buddha. In Joyful Path of Good Fortunefor example, Geshe Kelsang says in the Preface:

I received these teachings from my Spiritual Guide, Trijang Dorjechang, who was an emanation of Atisha; thus the explanations given in this book, Joyful Path of Good Fortune, actually come from him and not from myself.

Geshe Kelsang’s books are the most complete set of instructions on attaining enlightenment available in the West and have been highly regarded by people of varying traditions over many years. You can check the book reviews on Amazon to see for yourself some of the benefit people derive from these books.

You will be taught to meditate on ‘absorbing the Guru’ ( who is manifest in this life as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso) into the depths of your mind and to reinforce this meditation with the protection of Dorje Shugden in the practice of Heart Jewel (daily) or Wishfulfilling Jewel (daily) and Kangso (monthly). This practice is the ‘essence of Kadampa Buddhism’ as taught by the New Kadampa Tradition.

It is your choice who your spiritual teacher is and no one can dictate this to you. The practice mentioned here, Heart Jewel and so on, is a traditional practice of the Gelug (Virtuous) tradition of Je Tsongkhapa, which is the tradition Kadampa Buddhists follow. This tradition has been followed for nearly 400 years by both Tibetans and Westerners.

The Dalai Lama has requested, in order to maintain peace and harmony in the communities of all Tibetan Buddhist traditions, that practitioners of Dorje Shugden should not attend his teachings or view him as their Spiritual Guide. He has not banned the practice. This recommendation does not affect anyone in the NKT. The NKT has always emphasized its complete independence from Tibetan society even though the lineage of the teachings is given as Tibetan.

Without justification, the Dalai Lama has banned the centuries-old practice of Buddha Dorje Shugden that was practised by his own Teachers and, in doing so, has caused a schism in the Buddhist community that has destroyed peace and harmony rather than maintained it. Even though, when questioned by the Western media, the Dalai Lama has claimed not to have banned the practice, well over a thousand monks who refuse to give up their faith have been expelled from their monasteries and lay people are being ostracized and persecuted by their communities — which clearly indicates that it is much more than a “recommendation” or “request”. Please see this video for speeches he has made on the subject, or read what he has said in his own words on a website about this issue.

This “recommendation” or ban does in fact affect the NKT adversely because the Dalai Lama is using his fame and exposure in the West to spread the view that the practice of Dorje Shugden is cult-like and non-Buddhist — hence, practitioners of this traditional and popular Protector Buddha are being smeared with these associations both in the East and in the West, unjustifiably so.

The NKT recognizes that there is a difference between Tibetan society/politics and the Buddhism that came through Tibet, just as there is a difference between politics and religion in general. Buddhism started in India with the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni and those teachings moved through Tibet and are now in the West. Consequently, although there are many lineage Teachers of Buddhism who are Tibetan, Buddhist teachings did not originate there and do not belong to Tibet or any other country. The NKT is a global Buddhist tradition that follows the traditional teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni as transmitted by both Indian and Tibetan Masters through to our present-day Teachers in different countries. The NKT is not a Tibetan organization and is not bound by Tibetan feudal society or politics.

However, members of the NKT, under the name of the Western Shugden Society (WSS) have organised and paid for frequent and persistent demonstrations all over the world against the Dalai Lama accusing him of not being a Buddhist, of lying and hypocrisy.

The WSS and the NKT are not the same. You can find out more about the WSS on Wikipedia.  The WSS is independently funded. The WSS is an ad hoc coalition of Dorje Shugden practitioners from many different countries, including many Tibetan practitioners of Dorje Shugden. Its aims are fourfold:

  • To give freedom to practice Dorje Shugden to whoever wishes to rely upon this Deity.
  • To stop completely the discrimination between Shugden people and non-Shugden practitioners.
  • To allow all Shugden monks and nuns who have been expelled from their monasteries and nunneries to return to their monasteries and nunneries where they should receive the same material and spiritual rights as the non-Shugden practitioners.
  • That the Dalai Lama tell in writing to the Tibetan community throughout the world that they should practically apply the above three points.

The Dalai Lama has been requested to discuss this issue but no reply has ever been received, which is why the WSS has had no choice but to organise demonstrations to raise public awareness of this problem.

Unfortunately, there is clear evidence that the Dalai Lama is lying and being hypocritical about this issue. For example he has said that there is no ban on Shugden practice (there is) and he talks constantly in public about religious freedom, love and tolerance while, under his orders, his people are being discriminated against and denied basic human rights if they refuse to give up the practice of this traditional Buddhist Deity.

The NKT is not allowed, under British Charity Law, to engage in political activities such as public protest. Some of the prominent members of the WSS who have been protesting are Gen Kelsang Khyenrab, Deputy Spiritual Director of the NKT, Kelsang Rabten, National Spiritual Director of NKT Australia, Kelsang Pema (the main public spokesperson) personal assistant to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for more than 8 years, and the current resident teachers of Bodhisattva Centre and centres of the NKT in Bexhill, Huddersfield, Wales, London, etc as well as many residents of this NKT centre in Brighton.

The NKT has not engaged in any political activity. As mentioned, the WSS is an independent body that is not affiliated with the NKT. Even so, WSS demonstrations are not political but are spiritual actions to stop the pure spiritual tradition of Je Tsongkhapa from being destroyed by political interference by the Dalai Lama. The demonstrations are loud but peaceful.

Since many dedicated NKT practitioners naturally practice Dorje Shugden in accordance with tradition, of course as individuals they are supporting the aims of the WSS, along with a large number of non-NKT Dorje Shugden practitioners, including Tibetans. However, the NKT charity is not organizing any demonstrations.

In the last two years many high level teachers of the NKT have left under suspicion of sexual misconduct including Gen Samden Gyatso, the previous long term Deputy spiritual director of the NKT as well as at least two Resident Teachers of Bodhisattva Centre.

It is true that Samden and two Resident Teachers of Bodhisattva Centre have left due to an inability to keep their vows of celibacy, and this is deeply regretted. Bodhisattva Centre has indeed been far more adversely affected by this behaviour than other NKT Centres.

[N.B. Since writing this, I heard from someone who rightly pointed out that Losang Dragpa Centre has been the most adversely affected by impure behaviour. LDC was the first (and hopefully the last) NKT Centre to be dissolved.]

It is worth noting that, unlike many religious leaders, even within Tibetan Buddhism, Geshe Kelsang himself has never had any accusations of impropriety leveled against him in terms of his moral behavior. The overwhelming majority of the 700 monks and nuns in the NKT do keep good moral discipline, and “many high level teachers” is a large exaggeration. Please see Smear: NKT has a lot of sexual scandals and cover-ups for more information.

So why is the WSS protesting against the Dalai Lama’s advice at a time when Tibetans are being imprisoned, tortured and murdered for trying to preserve their own culture which includes these precious Buddhist teachings?

This is a different issue because Bodhisattva Center is not part of the WSS and the Tibetan problem has nothing to do with the WSS. While they have compassion for the plight of the Tibetan people, neither the NKT nor the WSS have any political affiliations. If the Dalai Lama is undermining his own and others’ attempts to preserve Tibetan culture by his illegal ban and persecution of his own people, that is not the fault of the WSS but of the Dalai Lama.

It is not the WSS who is at fault; they are merely defending themselves against the Dalai Lama’s actions. The survival of the precious Buddhist teachings does not depend upon the survival of Tibetan culture. The WSS are principally concerned that the Dalai Lama’s politically motivated actions are destroying these teachings, and are therefore acting to stop him. The Dalai Lama has brought the protests on himself by banning the practice of Dorje Shugden and refusing to engage in discussion about it. Since it is the Dalai Lama who refuses to engage in dialogue, the WSS has had no choice but to act by organizing demonstrations.

Is the WSS creating difficulties for the Dalai Lama in the public arena in order to deflect public awareness of internal difficulties in the NKT under the pretence of protecting the practice of Dorje Shugden practitioners?

Not at all. As was said before, the WSS and NKT are different organizations. The WSS exists solely because of the actions of the Dalai Lama. There is no “pretence” because the practice of Dorje Shugden practitioners is being destroyed by the Dalai Lama and action has to be taken now. The Dalai Lama has brought these difficulties upon himself through his dictatorial and illegal actions. Once he has lifted the ban, all WSS activities will cease. For more information, please see www.aboutwss.org and www.wisdombuddhadorjeshugden.org


Nathaniel’s 31 Reasons for Leaving the NKT

September 3, 2008

Please note: Nathaniel has recently written an apology on his blog for his criticisms of the NKT and Geshe Kelsang and he has deleted the blog entry where the criticisms were listed. We’d like to commend him for his courage and honesty in doing this.

As you can see in the comments section, Nathaniel has requested us to delete the reply we made to answer his points, but unfortunately his criticisms are widely available on the internet from a number of anti-NKT sources: therefore, we have made the decision that our response needs to remain. Sorry, Nathaniel, we hope you understand why we have to do this. We wish you all the best with your future study and practice of Dharma.

Not long ago, a young man called Nathaniel Whiteman posted 31 allegations against the NKT on various Internet sites — all reasons, he said, for leaving the NKT. He created his own blog and repeated them there, from whence they have spread to other anti-NKT blogs or websites. He wrote to New Kadampa Truth saying that he would remove them or change them on his blog if he got replies.

Here is the letter that New Kadampa Truth wrote back to him last week. The only reason we publish it here is that he has not changed his blog as he promised. These 31 allegations are now public on the Internet and so we need publicly to address them. Please let us know if you have any more questions about any of them once you’ve had a chance to read the replies.

Nathaniel’s letter to the New Kadampa Truth team:

“Here is a list I have compiled, please address each of the following points that I have made in this email on your website new kadampa the truth, I also see that on the website you pick out 5 people who are spreading the the nktsmear campaign. I want you to do that with me as well.You have until the 30th of August or I will go to the press and possibly even take leagle action against Amoghasiddhi Centre and Chris Heyes for getting me to come to the united kingdom on false pretences. I am not affraid to talk about my experience in the nkt, so please do not take me lightly.”

Dear Nathaniel,

As promised in an earlier email, here are the replies from New Kadampa Truth and from your former teachers and friends. I am not worried about your going to the press or taking legal action but I do still thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify things.

I know you are hurting a great deal and sufficiently angry to have already gone ahead and made all your accusations publicly without discussing these first with the people they concern; and I am sorry for that. (Was it because you really do want to be one of the people deliberately spreading smears against the NKT as you suggest above?! I hope not). But despite that, I still hope these replies are not too late to help clarify things for you personally, especially those replies that specifically concern you; and that you will be able to find some closure. (Your letter was immensely long so I’m afraid this reply will have to be even longer!)

1. Your personal accusations against Nagarjuna Centre and Amoghasiddhi Centre

I wrote to Bridget and Chris Heyes with your accusations and they have replied to all of them. They also checked with their Centres to see that what they wrote was accurate. Amanda Day (Administrative Director at Nagarjuna Centre) held a Director’s meeting where she read your email and the replies. The Directors of Nagarjuna Centre fully support all the refutations. Chris gave the same information to his Company Secretary and Centre Managers, who also fully support all refutations.

However, I would like to add that the useful thing about complaints is that they give us the opportunity to check our behaviour too. The teachers and managers are able to hold up the mirror of complaints to see if there are ways in which they could improve themselves for the future.

Chris Heyes put out an advert for Amoghasiddhi Café Assistant position, which included details of condition of stay, sponsorship and details of work hours etc. Nathaniel Whiteman responded to the advert. Chris contacted Legden, Nathaniel’s teacher in South Africa, who gave excellent references. Nathaniel’s visa was initially refused but he then appealed and was granted a 5-year student visa. This visa included the condition that he would receive sponsorship from the Centre for working in the café. To support his application, the Centre had to send to the authorities a copy of accounts, proof of the Centre’s existence etc. Therefore, the conditions of his stay in England were very clear to Nathaniel and to the Home Office; there were no deceptive actions as Nathaniel is claiming. The Administrative Director at Amoghasiddhi Centre has a copy of his application.

At that time Kelsang Chodor was the café manager and Nathaniel worked with him as his assistant. Kelsang Chodor later disrobed, and this probably influenced Nathaniel adversely. Nathaniel then suggested a friend from South Africa, Antony Passmore, for the position of café manager. Antony Passmore was interested and accepted the position. Nathaniel was offered the position of café manager but did not wish for it and was happy to work along with Antony Passmore.

From January this year to the present date Nathaniel became increasingly more unhappy, angry, discouraged and disruptive within Amoghasiddhi Centre. He had requested ordination prior to arriving at Amoghasiddhi Centre and was due to ordain at the summer festival. Chris was concerned about him ordaining as he felt he was unstable. However, he was adamant he wanted to ordain. Chris talked on a number of occasions with Nathaniel about his disruptive behavior, especially in public areas such as the café. It became obvious that Nathaniel was not suitable to continue in his position and Chris suggested that he go to Nagarjuna Centre for a working holiday up to the festival and then return to South Africa. Nathaniel seemed very pleased with Chris’s suggestions

While he was at Nagarjuna Centre, he assisted in the café for about 2 weeks. He seemed fine and quite happy. However, he formed a friendship with a person who has a lot of anger towards the NKT because of the recent demonstrations.

Just before the festival, Nathaniel asked to return to Amoghasiddhi Centre to pick up his personal things and do a working holiday weekend. Chris and Amanda felt this would be okay as he seemed more settled. However, once he was back at Amoghasiddhi Centre, he requested sponsorship money. This was refused as his terms of stay had changed. As a result of this and a heated discussion with Antony Passmore, he became very volatile and had to be asked to leave the Centre. He was offered money for his travel fare to Nagarjuna Centre, but refused it and left for London

The Education Program Coordinator from Amoghasiddhi Centre received a call from him during the festival requesting help. She was not in a position to help him so phoned Chris, who told her to get him to either contact him or Amanda and they would organize help for him. That was the last we heard from him.

This email from Nathaniel was not sent to Chris, Bridget or the managers of Amoghasiddhi or Nagarjuna Centre; he never expressed a desire to discuss it with them before posting it on the Internet. We can send exact dates and further details of his visa etc if needed

2. Allegations about Nagarjuna Centre

Allegation 11: “There are about 4 people at Nagarjuna who were previously ordained none of them seem to be mentally stable”

Geshe Kelsang allows people who have disrobed to return to Centres as residents if they meet the necessary conditions. Nagarjuna Centre has accepted 3 previously disrobed people who live at the centre in a community of 30 people. They are well thought of by the Centre management, and their resident teacher and peers.

Allegation 12: “2 students at nagarjuna centres sponsorship has suddenly stopped, so they had to return to their own country”

During the time Nathaniel was at Nagarjuna Centre, there were 2 students who had been previously part-sponsored, who returned to their country of origin for a holiday. They returned for the festival and are currently negotiating residency at another Centre in the UK. Their intention is to remain in England. (Update: They are at another UK Centre now.)

Allegation 23: “peoples accommodation and food and travels to the demos if didn’t arrange them? I witnessed this at Nagarjuna Centre. But you can ask questions because you lack faith in your guru an enlightened being”

Nagarjuna Centre hosted accommodation for UK demos. All funds for this were provided by a private beneficiary; no Centre funds were used.

3. Allegations about Bridget Heyes

Allegation 7: “At nagarjuna centre, the resident teacher Kadam Bridget is believed to be Tara. In her flat she is allowed to eat meat and watch tv, no one else is…”

We have no control over how people view Bridget; however she does not encourage her students to view her as a deity. Bridget has 2 children. All children living in Dharma Centres (full time) are given the choice of TV for their entertainment and to eat meat, as long as this is done discreetly within their own home.

Allegation 8: Bridget daughter earns 5 pounds an hour to work in the café, and I up until I began receiving nothing earned that in 6 hours “

The café sponsors two people full time. In addition they have relief helpers who assist on a regular basis at £5 an hour; Bridget’s daughter is one of these. Also, working holiday volunteers (who work in return for board, lodging and all classes) may be allocated to help in the café; Nathaniel was one of these.

Allegation 9: “At nagarjuna centre students are asked to donate to bridget so that she can take her kids on vacation”

Nagarjuna Centre students happily sponsor Bridget and the children to attend the NKT Festivals with Geshe Kelsang. Without taking the children, Chris and Bridget could not both attend the Festivals.

Allegation 10: “Apparently she earns 500 pounds a month”

Bridget does not earn £500 a month. The Centre sponsors Bridget £160 per month as Resident Teacher (plus lodging). Chris is sponsored £110 per month as the resident artist (this is covered by the income from the art department). Some of the students of the centre have chosen to sponsor Bridget a total of £120 per month to help with childcare costs.

Allegation10 (contd) : “… and doesn’t go to ittp, rarely attends pujas and often doesn’t teach her classes…”

Bridget attends pujas and teaches FP & TTP classes at Nagarjuna Centre. She also teaches regular weekend courses, day courses and empowerments. She also teaches courses at Drolma Centre, Amoghasiddhi Centre and Samantabhadra Centre.

As Chris is one of the NKT Temples artists and resident teacher at Amoghasiddhi Centre, sometimes if he is away Bridget nees to care for the children and will arrange for morning FP (7am) to be covered by another teacher.

Allegation10 (contd) : “… her festivals, food, accomidation, childrens accomidation, car and husbands accomidation are also paid for.”

All Resident Teachers receive accommodation at their Centre as part of their sponsorship. Bridget purchased her own car but receives help with transport costs.

4. Allegations about Amoghasiddhi Centre

Allegation6: “I have been removed from amoghasiddhi centre and was placed in nagarjuna centre because of bad behavior and all funds to me stopped.”

At Chris’s suggestion, Nathaniel agreed to go to Nagarjuna Centre on a working holiday as he was unhappy at Amoghasiddhi Centre and needed a change. Nathaniel was aware that Nagarjuna Centre would not be able to sponsor him. The plan was for him to spend 2 to 3 weeks at Nagarjuna Centre on a working holiday (full board and lodging and classes), attend the Summer Festival, and then return home in September to his family home in South Africa.

Allegation24: “I had to work some times up to 50 hours of so called voluntary work at the centre, I asked for one day off and got told no we don’t want to make antony unhappy… what about my happiness? Oh it doesn’t matter because Im leaving any way!”

Nathaniel agreed to work 35 hours a week. The café is open 9.30am to 3pm five days a week. If he worked longer hours, we are sorry for overlooking this because it is not in keeping with the contract of 35 hours per week for people working at NKT Centres (to give them time for study and meditation). We will try and be more careful with our café staff in future. At the time, we did not know about it because he never complained of it.

Allegation 28: “At Amoghasiddhi centre there have been 4 people who disrobed in its 3 or 4 years of existence, and has had about 5 or café managers, it must be a pure place, these people must be teaching me a lesson, they are deluded I must not be so deluded, I must allow Guru Buddha into my heart.”

One person has disrobed at Amoghasiddhi Centre. In 4 years there have been 4 café managers.

Allegation31 : “, at Amoghasiddhi Centre people pay 35 pounds a month to receive teachings from a teacher who is only her 2 days a week some weeks and the class is often led by DanBeenham who is not a qualified teacher nor even studying on ttp.”

Chris Heyes is Resident Teacher at Amoghasiddhi Centre and present for 3 days a week. Sometimes he is there longer for weekend courses or other Centre duties such as publicity etc. Chris is also an NKT artist and when requested to go to a Temple to paint and during ITTP (or, recently, when his mother was seriously ill) Dan teaches the classes. Dan is a sincere student and teacher, who has been studying Dharma for many years.

Allegation19: “Antony passsmore and Tsepho (who ever) will be taking ordination this year. Nice the nkt could do with a person who refers to Vajradhara as a blue dude and a gay man who is terminally ill and wont take his medication because the illness comes from his mind and geshelas dharma is the only cure!”

We have no knowledge of Antony’s suggested illness or sexuality. Certainly, if he needs to be on medication, we believe he should take it.

Allegation21 : “I was told not to speak about Kelsang Chodor who disrobed. And heard people tell people that he left because of his ill health AND NOT THE TRUTH which is that he left because he came to Amoghasiddhi centre on ” false pretences” just like myself”

Chris is not aware of Nathaniel being told not to talk about Kelsang Chodor. It was clear to the community that he left due to bad health, and personal issues about ordination and organised religion.

Allegation22: “At the Amoghasiddhi centre where antony passmore is now the café manager (and the only person not moving out of the centre) is on a sponsored position. As a part of his sponsorship he gets accommodation and food as well as a 115 pound donation a month. Recently I witnessed the centre filling out a form for housing benifit s on his behalf which he was just asked to sign. If the benefit was granted amoghasiddhi centre could receive funds from the government to cover Antonys rent that he doesn’t have to pay for! This is a case at many centre throughout the uk and the british government have launched an investigation into this freud!”

Antony is sponsored as café manager and receives board and lodging and £110 per month. Housing Benefit was discussed with him due to the Centre being up for sale and the fact that there was a prospective buyer, in which case the café would have closed and the café manager position dissolved. However, as the sale of the property fell through, Antony never applied for housing benefit and his full sponsorship remains.

5. Allegations about Kelsang Legden

20) Kelsang Osel was told by Kelsang Legden her teacher at the time that she should not have her cancer removed, but rather allow it to purify it self by letting the karma ripen,

I contacted Kelsang Legden, who said that he never advised Osel not to have her cancer removed.

she went ahead with the surgerry but before she did she was (very cleverly) forced to leave the centre (in her own free will) in a terible state, she is now a working nun who lives on her own out side of the nkt

Legden says that the reason why she left the Centre had nothing to do with her illness at all. She did not adapt to community life and chose to leave. He added: “Kelsang Osel has moved to another town but is still studying on correspondence Teacher Training Program and is happy with her new life. Community life did not suit her but she still enjoys the teachings.”

From Osel’s own letter to you, that you included, it seems that she is content and still practicing Dharma.

6. Your general allegations against the NKT

1) Samden Gyatso (the 2nd ex national spiritual director of the nkt) had sexual relations with many women for a very long time (using tantra as an excuse), the only reason he ever disrobed is becuase one of the nuns tried to commit suicide after falling pregnant with his child, only then did Kelsang Gyatso do some thing about it.

Samden Gyatso’s behaviour cannot be justified and it has been condemned without equivocation.
There is no truth in your allegation that a nun fell pregnant and tried to commit suicide. Despite Samden Gyatso’s negative behaviour, there was no cover-up, as you imply. This following factual explanation comes from the ex-monk who was originally implicated on the New Kadampa Survivors chat group in December 2006 as being the one to reveal that there was a cover-up, from which all subsequent speculation and gossip has stemmed.

In November 2005, the ex-monk wrote to Geshe Kelsang to explain his recent suspicions about Samden’s behaviour, based mainly on the kind of advice Samden had given him. When Geshe Kelsang asked the ex-monk if he had anything definite to base his suspicions on, he replied that he had not, and was then requested not to repeat such things without evidence. The ex-monk wrote again to Geshe Kelsang in January 2006 with more detail and explanation, again saying he had no proof, he had not seen anything directly, and no one had confided in him; but he had a strong suspicion. Geshe Kelsang replied that he had confronted Samden, but that Samden had said: “Nothing this person says is true.”  At that time, Geshe Kelsang told the ex-monk: “I understand that it is my responsibility to maintain the purity of the tradition, and I will keep what you told me in my heart.”

Samden Gyatso was removed from his position in February 2007 for different reasons given in a letter sent to all the Resident Teachers. Once Samden was removed, a few people came forward with their stories, and evidence of his negative behaviour was then available for the first time. As a result of this, and after Samden/Steven Wass had written a proud and strange letter to some NKT Resident Teachers, Geshe Kelsang wrote back a strongly-worded condemnation of his behaviour that he copied to all the Resident Teachers.

The silver lining in this dark cloud, if there can be such a thing, is that since Samden’s negative behaviour came to light, the NKT Internal Rules have been changed so that teachers are more accountable in general and the General Spiritual Director (GSD) is now appointed for a term-limit of only four years (as opposed to a maximum of sixteen years in the previous edition of the Internal Rules). After the four-year term in office the GSD now returns to his or her previous Centre as the Resident Teacher. It is hoped that this will go a long way to making sure the NKT is a humble democratic organization with no build-up of power in one individual in the future. Furthermore, Geshe Kelsang and others in the NKT are trying to help individually anyone affected negatively by Samden’s behaviour.

If you have any more questions about this, please ask us. The NKT is not attempting to hide anything. We are not a perfect organization, we are continually trying to improve our service, and where we see things going wrong we try to correct it as soon as possible in a clear and transparent manner.

2) a Resident Teacher has been caught on numerous occasions watching pornography on the centre computer, he is still ordained!

This old news has been blown out of all proportion. The monk in question apologized for the transgression. Many people engage in this kind of behaviour and few are publicly humiliated for it. Personally, I think it is time to leave him alone.

3) Lodro the ex teacher of Heruka centre in london ran off with Togme the ex teacher of Bodhisatva centre in Brighton.

This is true. They are of course no longer teaching and have disrobed. Ordained people anywhere, of any spiritual tradition, finding it difficult to keep a celibate lifestyle is nothing new. There are plenty of examples of respected Western teachers in other traditions who have disrobed, Robert Thurman and Stephen Batchelor to name but two.

What’s important here is that the NKT has made it very clear that it does not condone such activity and that there are serious consequences to disrobing. For example, someone who has disrobed will never be able to teach in the NKT again (this is unlike some other traditions, which do allow disrobed Sangha to continue teaching). The point of such consequences is to help people consider very carefully before ordaining, and then, obviously, to watch their minds and moral discipline while they are ordained.

4) The Current residet teacher in Bodhisatva centre has just ran off with her 3rd man.

Are you saying that she’d already run off twice before? I think not. What is true is that sadly the now previous Resident Teacher of Bodhisattva Center has disrobed, and, it seems, that, yes, a man was involved. Is she proud of her action? No … she is, according to her family, very regretful.

However, it might be said that as an ordained person you are holding yourself to higher standards of conduct than most. Consequently you have further to fall. A great number of Tibetans and Westerners from other traditions have broken their moral discipline. The NKT is by no means alone in this, although it seems to be the only one criticized for it so publicly.

Buddhist ordination is still new in the West. Also, and I speculate, possibly the NKT has still been experiencing some of the fall-out from the disrobing of Samden Gyatso. Be that as it may, in the NKT we do try to support those who wish to undertake an ordained lifestyle and to respond with compassion if they are no longer able to do so. Hopefully, with time there will be less disrobings.

5) Kadam Lucy james from florida in the us and kadam Bjorn have been asked to step down from teaching by Kelsang Gyatso himself because they expressed concern over the Western Shugden Society.

It is true that Kadam Bjorn did express concerns about the demonstrations; after all, he was the recipient of death threats in 1996 from Tibetans loyal to the Dalai Lama in Switzerland. Out of concern for Bjorn’s safety, Geshe Kelsang asked Bjorn to resign. Later when Geshe Kelsang asked if Bjorn would like to resume his previous roles, Bjorn respectfully declined for personal and professional reasons. There is no disagreement or disharmony between Geshe Kelsang and Bjorn, and, in fact, Bjorn was at the forefront during the demonstrations in Germany.

However, these types of accusations do point to a larger issue: Neither Lucy or Bjorn have made any complaints about what took place and by all accounts stayed happy and peaceful throughout. They remain loyal and practicing disciples of Geshe Kelsang and the NKT. As long as that’s the case, then what happens between them and their Spiritual Guide is, quite frankly, their business and not ours. No one had the right to put Lucy’s private letter from Geshe Kelsang on the Internet for example; this was not ethical.

Imagine the Internet chatter that would have surrounded, say, Marpa’s treatment of Milarepa, or Tilopa’s treatment of Naropa, had the Internet existed in those ancient times. Both Lucy and Bjorn have been disciples of Geshe Kelsang for more than 25 years. It is the function of a Mahayana Spiritual Guide to challenge his or her senior disciples to help them make spiritual progress. Sometimes the nature of that challenge may not be immediately apparent to outside observers; but as long as the disciples themselves are finding it meaningful and beneficial, then what business is it of ours to complain?

17) incouraged (not told) not to read books other than geshelas, why what do you not what me to read? Its all the same any way??? is it not? Is the nkt the only pure source of dharma????

This is a smear that is answered from many angles on the New Kadampa Truth website.

18) There is a monk from america who playes with dolls… but thats ok, as long as he doesnt say anything negative about the nkt. He has also been found watching pornography on the internet by a person whom I have come to know.

Bridget told me: “It was suspected that someone had used a Centre computer to watch porn but there was no evidence that it was this monk. It was one incident and there have been no others.”

25) all the buddhas are inseperable from your guru (kelsang gyatso) becuase its benificial to believe, just as it was benificial for certain people to believe that Samden was inseperable from Kelsang Gyatso and Kelsang Gyatso inseperable from all the Buddhas so if he wants to have sex with me it must mean that I am ready to take a consort, Kelsang Gyatso doesnt say any thing so its fine… a pitty that when she fell pregnant she didnt hold the view that she was giving birth to an enlightened being becuase maybe she wouldnt have tried to commit suicide!

This has mainly been answered above. Geshe Kelsang has never asked everyone to view him as inseparable from all the Buddhas, much less to view Samden Gyatso as inseparable from him.

26) Kelsang Gyatso asked that this year people do not give him statues as a gift but rather give him money.

Geshe Kelsang has, in fact, asked Centres not to give him anything at all. Individuals are free to do as they choose; however it is untrue that Geshe Kelsang has requested to be given money. Geshe Kelsang lives in a small room and has very few material possessions. Whenever he is given a gift, he immediately passes it onto others.

27) At Madhyamaka centre some one tried to commit suicide after being ordained for a few years.

I have not heard anything about this story and I will check into it if you can you give me any details (privately, please, to be fair to them).

29) At the demonstrations certain members of ordained sangha had to wear lay clothes inorder to do security work. I guess a monk in robes wouldnt be able to “take some one down”

Monks sometimes wear lay clothes. This is normal. Monks and nuns are permitted to wear lay clothes when they work outside the Centre too, and when travelling, and at other times too if they wish (they must wear their robes for teachings and so on, of course). There is no rule to say they must always wear their robes.

30) At Gyaltsabje centre in Sheffield the majority of the paying residents arent even buddhist.

What is wrong with that? Actually, a Buddhist Centre is a very nice place for people to live if they want some peace and quiet, free from televisions, smoking, meat-eating and so on.

13) Manjushri centre was stolen by the nkt, this Legden even confirmed for me when I first found it on the internet.

I asked Legden about this and he replied: “This is a complete lie since I had no idea whatsoever of what happened there and I cannot recall at all to have spoken to Nathaniel about it in any way or at any time.” This sounds believable because he was not around in those days. A very clear explanation of the whole issue can be found here on the website New Kadampa Truth. The FPMT has not challenged this account because they know it is true.

14) There are people in the nkt who have ‘Lung’ (a disease in ur inner energy winds) from incorectly practicing Highest Yoga Tantra, and as a result will not be able to meditate in this life ever again! The Tantric empowerment is supposed to given to people who have done alot of purification and have a stable practice of Dharma. Its FUCKED me up, to say the least!

I am of course very sorry to hear that you feel that way. However, without details of these people who can never meditate again in this life (which sounds unlikely), it is hard to comment further on this allegation except to say that Geshe Kelsang gives very clear explanations of who is ready to engage in Highest Yoga Tantra in all his Tantric texts. He also talks about the danger of lung disease and how to avoid it.

15) If ever you have a problem in the nkt you are told that you are “deluded” ” self cherishing” ” in samsara” ” need to allow guru kelsang gyatso) buddha (shakyamuni) into your heart ” or  “not tell any one elso becuase it could destroy peoples faith” This I have been told, I was even called a spoilt brat.  And sadly you come to a point where you believe it!

It is untrue to say that whenever anyone has a problem they are always told these things. Sometimes, perhaps, they are told these things (not the “spoilt brat” bit perhaps!), as they would be in any Buddhist organization, and sometimes that is okay. Why? These things can be useful to hear because Buddhists are trying hard to overcome the delusions, or inner poisons, in their minds in order to overcome suffering, and it helps to be reminded. Buddhists do also believe that suffering comes about because we are in samsara, the cycle of uncontrolled death and rebirth, and that this suffering does not automatically end at death. It is also a Buddhist teaching that it can greatly help pacify our minds to invite Buddha and our Spiritual Guide into our hearts, if we have faith. There is nothing unique to the NKT about your allegation here. I am sorry that you say you were told not to talk about your problems with others – if this happened, sorry. Usually in Buddhism we’re encouraged to talk to our Sangha as one of our objects of refuge. I have asked Bridget and Chris to look into this.

16) told that if you disrobe you will take rebirth in hell. Most traditions of Buddhism that I know dont tell you that.

Which Buddhist traditions don’t say that negative actions create the cause for future suffering? Any kind of misconduct, not just sexual, creates imprints for future suffering – that is the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni. The degree of negativity depends on the motivation and other extenuating circumstances – which no one else can judge. However, luckily, we can all purify our negative imprints.

31) The nkt welcomes you with open arms but throw you out like a piece of dirt when you are of no benifit to them, they will not support you in any way, they will take your money and give you advice and if you want more advice they will take some more,

I am so sorry you feel this way. I hope the answers above go somewhere to alleviating your pain. You are still welcome with open arms. No one has ever wanted to throw you out like a piece of dirt.

Your former teacher Legden was sorry he had hurt your feelings and had this to say about you: “He is actually such a nice guy and was loved by most of our students. My letter to him sounds quite harsh I must admit. On the other hand, when he was going through a crisis during Spring Festival, he was quite receptive when I told him off and apparently appreciated it. It’s been my intention to help him and not to harm him in any way. I knew how much he had been wishing to live the life of an ordained person. Anyway, obviously I haven’t been skilful enough and I will write to him to apologize.”

Good luck, Nathaniel. Please let me know if any of this is not clear or if you have more questions.

Love and best wishes,

New Kadampa Truth


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