Heart Jewel – Standing Up for the Middle Way

October 9, 2009

We’re happy to recommend ‘Emptymountains’ site ‘Heart Jewel – Standing Up for the Middle Way’, which has just been re-designed.

The site is well-written and contains the actual published and unpublished speech of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Trijang Rinpoche and Je Pabongkhapa, which answers the smears and allegations against the NKT-IKBU. It also contains a great deal of clear background and reasonings related to the Dorje Shugden controversy that you may find helpful.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

New Kadampa Truth Website

April 13, 2009

We are happy to say that we have made the New Kadampa Truth website easier to navigate by adding sub-sections:

Tradition | Ordination | Finances | Organization | Teachers | Teachings | Other

There are also some additions and updates to the website in English, Deutsch, Español and Français.

As it says on the website:

Established in 2008, NewKadampaTruth.org (together with its associated blog) is the online service of a New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT ~ IKBU) Public Relations team consisting mainly of experienced and knowledgeable teachers and administrators within the New Kadampa Tradition.

Its primary purpose is to provide in-depth, authoritative refutation of smears against the NKT ~ IKBU for those who have read or heard defamation of this time-honored Buddhist tradition. It also endeavors to increase transparency in the NKT ~ IKBU and pass on complaints. For this reason, it invites comments and questions. People can also write anonymously and know that their questions will be heard and respected and, if wished, addressed privately and discreetly. NewKadampaTruth.org has no physical office. It is associated with and endorsed by the NKT office at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in the UK.

If you have any concerns or complaints about the NKT~IKBU, or if you would like to report a smear, please contact report@newkadampatruth.org to communicate with the NKT ~ IKBU PR team.


New Kadampa Survivors (continuation of the ‘cult’ smear history)

March 25, 2009

For previous installments:

The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 1
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 2
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 3
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 4
E-Sangha and “sect bashing” (continuation of the ‘cult’ smear history)

The New Kadampa Tradition is not different from other spiritual organizations in that it is not suited to everyone, and many people who try it out do not stay. As a non-proselytizing Buddhist tradition that is not trying to convert anyone, this has always been expected and it is not a problem.

Sadly, though, some of these people leave through disappointment or even irritation and anger; and some of these go onto become active critics of the NKT on the Internet. The bad reputation the NKT has received from the Dalai Lama’s words and actions has proved a rallying point for diverse criticism of the NKT. This can obscure or distort people’s genuine personal grievances by causing every difficulty or disappointment to be exaggerated by the supposition that the NKT must be a cult because the Dalai Lama says so. Instead of taking each disappointment on its merits and seeing it in the context of an organization that is basically sound with room for improvement, some have jumped to the conclusion that their own difficulty is part of a far larger pattern – and that, although they appreciated the NKT before, they have only just realized that they have always been part of an abusive spirit-worshipping sectarian cult 🙂

Learning from criticism

This is not to say that the NKT~IKBU has not made mistakes because of course it has. The NKT~IKBU is a groundbreaking movement and operates worldwide. The Kadam Dharma it offers is pure and has stood the test of time, but the organization itself is naturally made up of imperfect living beings. It would be strange if there were not some problems. As the NKT~IKBU has said, it accepts and is sorry for its mistakes and is trying its best to learn from these, hence the Internal Rules and its many edicts for ensuring harmony, democracy and pure behavior. A great number of improvements and adaptations have been made over the past 30 years.

Hopefully, improvements will continue to be made both by the organization and by its individuals – there is no reason why not. From this point of view, as an ancient Buddhist tradition strives to adapt to the modern world, criticism has proven to be a very helpful mirror in which the NKT~IKBU has been able to see its faults and strive to remove them. As the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! As Geshe Kelsang has advised on the subject of criticism: check whether what is said is true or not. If it is true, accept and learn from it gratefully. If the criticism is not true, it is still true that we have the basic fault of self-cherishing, so we can still appreciate that person for criticizing us and use it as a reminder to reduce self-cherishing.

Understanding the Status Quo

But as the NKT, despite resistance and resentment from Tibetans who wish to preserve the Tibetan status quo, moves ever more steadily away from Tibetan politics and the vortex of the Dalai Lama to become an increasingly autonomous, non-political and democratic Western Mahayana Buddhist organization, Kadampa students have also had to wisen up. During this transition, they are having to learn to distinguish the genuine mistakes they and others have made (and continue to make) from the politically motivated wild accusations and falsehoods perpetuated by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE), and various Tibetan Buddhist groups. Only then are they able to take responsibility for the former while ignoring or rebutting the latter.

New Kadampa Survivors

Both the mistakes and the wild accusations find their way onto the New Kadampa Survivors, which is an Internet chat group that serves as the main convergence for NKT dissent. From the point of view of learning from criticism, the NKT has benefited from the focus of the New Kadampa Survivors chat group. Certainly, it has no objection to it existing and, if it helps some people, that is also good. But it may also be clarifying to understand it from an historical and cultural perspective.

Understanding the context

The NKT wishes to divest itself of Tibetan cultural accretions and especially Tibetan politics. It is not under the autocracy of the Dalai Lama and TGIE, and this is not pleasing to them. In the broader context of the damaging perceptions of the NKT being a sectarian breakaway inauthentic spirit-worshipping cult engendered by the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan groups, it is easier to understand the arising of the survivors’ chat group in 2007, which spilt over from E-Sangha.

It is hard to imagine this group arising if the NKT had remained under the umbrella of Tibetan Buddhism and the authority of the Dalai Lama and kept his pictures on their walls. After all, other Tibetan groups and Lamas without “survivors” groups have had as many if not more disrobings and disaffected students. Moreover, their unquestioning worship of the Dalai Lama as a God King, and “overall leader of all Buddhist traditions on this earth”* can easily be construed as cult-like, as can alarming but all too common statements like this one from a TGIE MP on France 24 explaining why there was no need for a vote to ban Dorje Shugden: “We do not have any doubt about Dalai Lama’s decisions. We do not think he is a human being. He’s a supreme human being and he is god.” Or this one from the TGIE quoted in the New Internationalist: “Concepts like democracy and freedom of religion are empty when it comes to the well-being of the Dalai Lama and the common cause of Tibet.”

The NKT and Geshe Kelsang have never strayed into such murky waters but their opposition to the behavior of the singularly famous head of Tibet has provided a rallying cry and justification for diverse detractors, which is not possessed by Tibetan Buddhist groups under the Dalai Lama’s patronage.

Rules of the game

According to its founder, David Cutshaw: “It is a place for former members to come and openly discuss what it was like being part of this sectarian cult.” There are three rules on Survivors: “No NKT propaganda is allowed; no NKT members/followers/students are allowed; no debate of Dorje Shugden is allowed.” What this means is that no positive input is permitted about the NKT (or Dorje Shugden).

The intention of David Cutshaw may well have been to find an audience himself and provide support for others. Perhaps there has been some relief for certain members as they have been able to voice their grievances and find sympathy. But the overall atmosphere and group dynamic is one full of blame, where everything is blamed on Geshe Kelsang and the NKT. (The only personal responsibility members seem to take is for their own neediness or naivety in joining the cult.) Even when outright untruths are told and re-told, no one is permitted to come forward to confute these or restore some balance, for that amounts to “propaganda” and the message is censored.

This all means that those who were seeking answers or support invariably become more negative, and newcomers stumbling upon this group (finding it for example while searching NKT in Google) receive an entirely one-sided and distorted depiction of the NKT. If they do not take the trouble to question what they are reading, it is natural for them to believe it, become disillusioned, and resolve henceforth to avoid the NKT.

Vicious circle

From this point of view, the survivors group is not helpful to the development of the NKT (and nor do they wish to be!) The very existence of the survivors’ group (and the fact that members often foray onto other Internet sites to share their views) has also fuelled the prejudices of Tibetan Buddhists further into thinking that the NKT must indeed be a cult if there are ex-members who are prepared to say so; and this has created a vicious circle of criticism and negative views. This has been a damaging factor in the NKT’s reputation in the Buddhist community (but music to the survivors’ ears!)

Disinhibition

(As an interesting aside, Internet chat groups are known to have a “disinhibition effect”, which according to psychological reports is not always benign and can “lead to rude language, harsh criticisms, anger, hatred, and even threats”, or “simply a blind catharsis, an acting out of unsavory needs and wishes without any personal growth at all.”)

Reasons for joining

It seems that most people on Survivors joined in 2008 as they were disillusioned by the Western Shugden Society’s demonstrations against the Dalai Lama’s ban, and/or by Samden’s and/or Lodro’s disrobings. In the latter case, this disillusionment is quite understandable and since that time steps have been taken to avoid a repetition.

For one thing, since the disrobing of Samden Gyatso, the Internal Rules specify that the authority of the both the teacher and the managers in each Center is subject to checks and balances and more equally shared out.

Far fewer people are joining the chat group nowadays, and the vast majority are “lurkers” or non-active participants. The same few people make almost all the postings. Judging by conversations and reports, it would appear that about half the members are NKT practitioners who are or were curious to read what is being written about them or their teachers.

Agent provocateurs

There are also members of survivors who have clearly never been to an NKT Center. They come from other Tibetan Buddhist groups and are on the chat group solely to “do research” for their own anti-NKT agendas (particularly an individual calling himself VJ Kumara who went so far as to wish for Geshe Kelsang’s death), sow dissatisfaction and TGIE propaganda, or promote their own traditions and Gurus. (Sometimes the Survivors realize they are being used in this way, at which point they have protested to the moderators.)

Tenzin Peljor deserves a mention here since he was the first to appear on the group straight after Dave had posted his first messages in 2007, suggesting he made the group public so everyone could find it; and since then has been a frequent poster and self-appointed spiritual advisor to the survivors, painstakingly ensuring that no one forgets how dreadful the NKT is and how wonderful (non-Shugden) Tibetan teachers and groups are by contrast. As with Namdrol on E-Sangha, survivors looking for guidance tend to trust Tenzin because they believe him when he makes himself out to be an expert on the NKT (and now Tibetan Buddhism), even though he has not been near the NKT in over 10 years and had an atypical experience of it.

A sense of proportion

In December 2010 the Survivors celebrated their 1000th member. While it would be wonderful if there were no survivors at all because everyone continued to enjoy their experiences within the NKT, it is worth getting this figure into proportion.

  • On the Tampa Bay Florida Facebook page alone, servicing one of the NKT’s medium-sized Centers, there are 1000 followers.
  • Teachers in New York, Texas, Brazil, Mexico and other places each week have audiences of hundreds. It is impossible to say exactly how many students attend NKT Centers every week, but it is certainly thousands.
  • Each International Festival attracts thousands of attendees.
  • Dharma Celebrations worldwide each typically attract hundreds of attendees.
  • Several hundred members of the Survivors’ group are still Kadampa practitioners who are just checking what is being said about them.
  • The vast majority of Survivors never post anything.

Moral discipline guides

Genuine mistakes have been and continue to be thoroughly investigated. The NKT has no wish or intention to endorse any cult-like behavior. The vast majority of people in the NKT try to be kind, well intentioned and reasonable, which is why NKT Centers generally enjoy success and their communities worldwide are growing. Some managers or teachers in the NKT have engaged in inappropriate or over-bearing behavior due perhaps to delusions, worldly concerns, poor people skills, over-enthusiasm, or failing to put the essential teachings on cherishing others into practice. However, these all too human shortcomings are not institutionalized in the NKT, and this behavior is neither encouraged by nor acceptable to the organization.

Please know that if you have any concerns or complaints about the NKT~IKBU organization, teachers, or managers, you are invited to email info@kadampa.org, or call [+44] (0)1229-588-533 and ask for the Secretary or Deputy Secretary of the NKT~IKBU, who will address your concerns in accordance with the Internal Rules 4.8, 12.1 and 12.3. These NKT “moral discipline guides” are responsible for making sure that Centers and individuals are “caring for people with kindness”, “improving the qualifications of Dharma students so they become qualified Dharma practitioners and Teachers”, “maintaining the Centre as a pure, peaceful and harmonious society”, avoiding “any breach of moral discipline”, and so on. If these things are not happening at an NKT Center, and for any reason you are not comfortable discussing it with the teacher or managers, you are requested to write to the moral discipline guides straightaway.

It does not follow from the unskillful behavior of a few individuals that the NKT is a cult, nor that such behavior cannot be found in other traditions that have not been labelled cults. Each case needs to be taken on its merits.

Where the criticisms on the Survivors group are groundless, factual responses can be found on New Kadampa Truth.

Footnotes

*(as proclaimed in a recent political announcement from a meeting with the Dalai Lama, March 6-8 2009):

“As per the gist of the intention of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, International Genden council, and the resolutions of Three Great Seats regarding the evil spirit Dholgyal (Shugden), monasteries including the Three Great Seats are heading toward positive direction, cherishing one’s interest. However [we] will discuss what is the best to carry out concerning the activity on the whole and the impairment imposed by Dholgyal adherents to Tibetan religion and politics, as well as their various actions of defamation carried out against His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

For the sake of Tibetan religion and politics, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the overall head of all Buddhist Traditions on this earth, has given admonition not to worship the spirit Dholgyal. For the leaders who are High Lamas, Abbots, Tulkus, representatives, extend fully support on 10th meeting. Furthermore, through this meeting, they appreciate and praise the monks of Gelugpa monasteries for picking the vote-stick accorded the Vinaya and completely relinquishing the religious and material ties with Dholgyal worshippers.”


E-Sangha and “sect bashing” (continuation of the ‘cult’ smear history)

March 5, 2009

For previous installments:

The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 1
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 2
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 3
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 4

The Rise of Sectarianism in Buddhist Discussion Forums

In the late 1990s, the cult smear against the NKT was spread mainly by the Tibetan government in exile and official Dalai Lama websites, on alt.religion newsgroup discussions, and by word of mouth in Tibetan Buddhist Centers loyal to the Dalai Lama. However, in the years that followed, during the 2000’s, a fully-fledged Internet attack on Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and the NKT began to take place on certain Buddhist discussion boards such as E-Sangha, Buddhanet, Beliefnet, and Phayul by Tibetan and Western supporters of the Dalai Lama.

The normal pattern in such discussion forums was that a “newbie” would post a question along the lines of: “There’s this Buddhist group near me called the NKT, I’m thinking of going to some of their classes, what do people think? Do you have any information about them?” This innocent question would result in a flood of negative posts, denouncing the NKT as a cult, claiming they weren’t Buddhist but spirit-worshipping murderers, etc, and recommending the questioner try “a genuine Buddhist group”.

These posters who were so vehemently opposed to the NKT were Tibetan Buddhists from various sects although, more recently, they were joined by a few disaffected ex-NKT members who jumped on the bandwagon with prolific posts.

E-Sangha

The most egregious of these discussion forums is E-Sangha, which has also recently been receiving a slew of complaints from other Buddhist groups and individuals for its intolerance and censorship. As it says on the E-Sangha Watch website:

E-SANGHA WATCH has been created with the support, guidance and encouragement of concerned Buddhist clergy and lay-persons of several schools wishing to firmly yet constructively oppose, publicize, correct and explain to the unwary the current state of intra-Buddhist sectarian bias, misinformation, religious intolerance and ‘sect bashing’ which unfortunately exists under the present policies and administration of the ‘E-Sangha’ Buddhism Portal website.

(More examples of E-Sangha’s bias, misinformation, intolerance and sect-bashing are  also collected here and here. Laura Busch also wrote a doctoral thesis on E-Sangha available here.)

Many NKT practitioners and others have been shocked over the years to find that the New Kadampa Tradition is actually banned on this supposedly open Buddhist forum, the largest Buddhist chat group on the Internet! The board regulations state in black and white:

“These few “Buddhist” schools of thoughts are not recognized by E-sangha. No links to their websites, their books, or their followers’ websites are allowed: New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and all other proponents of Dolgyal/Shugden”

However, a reading of the background to this ban and who instigated and maintains it will hopefully reassure people that the reasons behind it were completely capricious and unjustified.

E-Sangha is a Buddhist forum that started in 2003. In September 2003, E-Sangha administrators conducted a poll of its members to decide if the NKT section that had been started on the board should be removed. This poll was requested by Global Moderator Henry Chia, also known as Ngawang Gelek, a Sakya practitioner from Singapore who had posted actively against the NKT on the alt.religion newsgroup discussions during the Dorje Shugden controversy in 1996/97.

Labeling the NKT as non-Buddhist for its reliance on Dorje Shugden, Henry cut and pasted every single negative article regarding the NKT and Dorje Shugden taken from the TGIE and Dalai Lama official websites and then advised the members “to make up their own minds”. As one member pointed out: “Thanks to Henry, plenty of information is now available for folks to make an informed vote.” There was no information, however, posted from the side of the NKT or any other Shugden practitioner.

There never was a vote. By the middle of September 2003, “Teyes”, the E-Sangha founder, had decided:

“I have read through almost every word that Henry had written, clicking on almost every link. The messages are exhaustive and I tried hard to digest the vast amount of information. I am not an expert in Buddhism, although raised in a Buddhist family, thus all members help are required, especially in issues like this. I appreciate Henry’s frankness in raising this point and I agreed with Henry that:

1) There will be no links to NKT website as from today.
2) There will be no seperate listings of them as a unique group within our database.
3) All NKT’s folks can participate in all our discussion.
Thanks everyone for their help, especially Henry. (So members, you can disregard the votes about NKT). Have a nice day!”

And he followed this with another posting later:

“Dear members,
I have considered all the pros and cons when NKT section was removed. After examining, I am rather worried that newbies in Buddhism might be misled. That’s my main fear, especially E-Sangha has been growing steadily over the last 2 months, and is right now, the most active board on Buddhism. I hope that we will put this issue behind us. Thanks.”

With no knowledge of the NKT other than what he had heard from Henry, and despite the fact that the NKT had hundreds of Centers and thousands of students all over the world who were happily and sincerely practicing Mahayana Buddhism, the owner of E-Sangha condemned the NKT as dangerous for “newbies”, a theme that was continued in all subsequent discussions.

Another E-Sangha global moderator called Namdrol (Malcolm Smith) joined in the discussion and over a period of many months provided E-Sangha members with a huge amount of astounding, sometimes laughable, and (according to one psychiatrist who responded) clinically delusional misinformation. For example, those who rely upon Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden (called here “Dolgyal”) are responsible for the invasion of Tibet, Mad Cow disease, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

“Gyalpos also cause strife and cattle diseases. The outbreak of Mad Cow disease in Northern England a couple of years ago has been attributed to the strong presence of Shugden practitioners in Northern England.”

“I don’t hate Pabhongkha; I don’t hate Dolgyal. But I think that Dolgyal is harmful and that because of him, the Tibetan Goverment fell, the Chinese were able to easily invade, and these sorts of things are predicted in many texts.

It may be hard for you to beleive, but the strong presence of Dolgyal practitioners in Northern England led to the Mad Cow disease outbreak; the burning of the millions of bovine corpses incited the anger of the Mamos, and they in turn caused these wars in which we are now ensconced– so this is no joke–really!”

 

Most recently, Namdrol incited forum members to more intolerance (on the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s being admitted to hospital for kidney stones):

“We can all thank the Shugden people for HHDL’s present state of ill health.”

However, because he is an “old-timer” and a global moderator, his words astonishingly enough have carried weight and adversely influenced many people. For example:

“Namdrol’s point’s should be well taken, he really knows his stuff when it comes to Tibetan Buddhism. He has practiced for a long time and personally knows many very high lama’s, and Rinpoche’s”.

Namdrol has devoted many postings to slandering the Gelugpa tradition in general that was passed down through Je Phabongkhapa, Trijang Rinpoche and their disciples, even casting aspersions on Lama Zopa and the FPMT (who have the Dalai Lama as their patron). Umpteen people have been banned from E-Sangha for questioning the moderators or not toeing the party line, but not once has another moderator asked Namdrol to stop his divisive, intolerant and sectarian speech.

Here is an example of the intolerance toward the NKT on E-Sangha that was enshrined as policy in 2003 and continues to this day, from a recent thread concerning the opening of an NKT World Peace Cafe:

“The NKT is not a legitimate Buddhist organization in my opinion. For this reason, I would certainly avoid the cafe. I would also spend an hour or two emailing leads to local media about the controversy surrounding the cult.”

“the NKT is dangerous and the spirit they worship is too. how can they propose to open a world peace cafe when the biggest part of their organization is the worship of a malicious spirit?”

“As we all know, this cult have done and still doing so much damaging to the public”

“To them Dharma is a business opportunity to fund the growth of their sect and kelsang gyatso’s empire.”

“You could always be an infiltrator, share some other views. Would be interesting to go in there and say you know, a lot of people consider the NKT to be a cult.”

(For the smear that Geshe Kelsang has profited from the growth of the NKT, see Smear: Geshe Kelsang has millions of pounds that have come from his disciples.)

It is clear that some E-Sangha members are sufficiently militant to take action against the NKT by contacting venues where classes are being held to get them cancelled, defacing publicity, and vandalizing Geshe Kelsang’s books in bookstores so that they won’t sell. Some members have openly boasted about engaging in such activities, and the existence and effects of these behaviors are one reason the New Kadampa Truth website was compiled.

E-Sangha’s mission statement reads: “E-Sangha’s intent is to keep the tradition alive and flourishing, and to help bring peace, harmony and happiness into everyones lives.” Yet they have been the source of destroying peace, harmony and happiness between Buddhist groups and practitioners since they began in 2003. The clique of moderators have frequently broken their own detailed board guidelines on adhering to right intention, right speech, and right action.

Any reference to the ‘NKT’ on a web forum or discussion board these days will almost inevitably draw a barrage of ‘cult’ allegations as surely as a magnet attracts iron.

Sadly, we can see that the Dalai Lama’s unjustified condemnations have been effective in associating ‘NKT’ and ‘cult’ in the minds of his followers and many other Tibetan Buddhists.


What is the NKT~IKBU?

November 12, 2008

(Please remember that you are still most welcome to send stories of your own experiences of the New Kadampa Tradition to our comments section on this blog entry: Kadampa Blogs and Questionnaires)

On a new page on the website, New Kadampa Truth, there is a clear explanation of the New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT~IKBU). I am including it here as it gives a helpful background to the tradition for those who do not know much about it.

As of 2008, the New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT~IKBU) is an international association of 1100 study and meditation Centers in over 40 countries throughout the world. One of the fastest-growing grass roots Buddhist traditions in the world, the New Kadampa Tradition aims to bring pure Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings to a modern-day audience, making them accessible and practical for new students as well as experienced practitioners.

Kadampa Buddhism was first established by Indian Buddhist master Atisha (982-1054 AD), who reintroduced Buddha’s pure teachings into 11th century Tibet at the request of the Tibetan King Jangchub O. ‘Ka’ refers to Buddha’s teachings of Sutra and Tantra, and ‘dam’ to Lamrim, Atisha’s special presentation of these teachings, known in English as ‘the stages of the path to enlightenment’. Kadampas are practitioners who take Buddha’s teachings as personal advice and put them into practice in their daily lives by following the instructions of Lamrim.

Introduced in the West by Tibetan-born (and now naturalized British and US citizen) meditation master Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the NKT~IKBU follows the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism as taught by Atisha and Tibetan Buddhist master Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 AD) The tradition was passed in an unbroken lineage (transmitted from realized teacher to student) from Je Tsongkhapa through the generations to Je Phabongkhapa (1878-1941 AD), and finally to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (1901-1981 AD), the teacher of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, and to Trijang Rinpoche’s close disciples, including Geshe Kelsang Gyatso himself.

The New Kadampa Tradition closely follows the original intention of Atisha’s presentation, and that of Je Tsongkhapa who revitalized the practice of Kadampa Buddhism in 13th century Tibet, further clarifying the presentation and setting a pure example of systematic study and moral discipline for his followers, who became known as ‘new Kadampas’ or ‘Gelugpas’ (the ‘Virtuous Tradition’).

The New Kadampa Tradition, as introduced by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, brings these instructions into a modern vernacular, aiming to integrate Buddha’s teachings into a cohesive system of study and practice designed for people with modern lives and fitting into their indigenous culture. With three distinct Study Programs (General Program, Foundation Program and Teacher Training Program) offered at Centers internationally, the New Kadampa Tradition offers classes at different levels, appealing to those seeking practical advice for daily living as well as to those wishing to deepen their experience of Buddhist practice through formal study and meditation.

The NKT~IKBU holds three International Dharma Festivals throughout the year, attracting thousands of visitors, with national and regional Festivals and Dharma Celebrations held in many countries. Almost 200 Resident Teachers from Centers throughout the world participate in the International Teacher Training Program (ITTP) each Summer. There are currently over 700 Buddhist monks and nuns in the NKT. The ITTP and TTP (Teacher Training Program) produce many ordained and lay Buddhist teachers to lead Centers and branch classes in their own communities.

The NKT~IKBU is an international non-profit organization registered in England as a charitable company. Through the International Temples Project, established in the early nineties, the NKT~IKBU has built Kadampa Buddhist Temples for World Peace in the UK, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Spain, with plans for additional Temples soon in Germany and Australia. The project is funded entirely by voluntary donations and by revenue from International Buddhist Festivals. Individual NKT~IKBU Centers operate many World Peace Cafes throughout the world. The NKT~IKBU operates a Hotel Kadampa in Southern Spain and another in the Italian region of Tuscany; and there are Kadampa International Retreat Centers in Scotland and Switzerland, with short- and long-term retreatants. Tharpa Publications has published 22 NKT Dharma books by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, now translated into several languages, including accessible books on meditation and Buddhist teachings as well as detailed commentaries to traditional Buddhist texts.

Most NKT~IKBU Centers and other facilities are operated primarily by volunteers, with a small group of sponsored employees receiving a stipend for their work. All Temples and NKT Centers are open to the public for individual and group visits, and many Centers work closely with their communities through school programs, branch classes, prison programs, hospice programs and other special outreach programs.

You are welcome to visit any NKT~IKBU Center any time you wish. Please see the official website www.kadampa.org for a list of Centers and other information.


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


%d bloggers like this: