Smear: NKT students worship Geshe Kelsang

January 22, 2009

This is the final article exploring how Kadampa students rely upon the Spiritual Guide in these modern times. For the previous articles, click here:

Smear: Geshe Kelsang calls himself the third Buddha and seeks veneration from his students

Relying upon the Spiritual Guide in these modern times

NKT detractors sometimes make unjustified claims about the NKT’s supposed cultish devotion toward Geshe Kelsang. The trend was started in a 1996 article by Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian newspaper, where she said that NKT members “pray to and worship Geshe Kelsang”. One recent example of a public attack on a website (by someone called “Truthsquad”, who has never been to an NKT Center):

“Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, now 78 and worshiped by his devotees as a cult hero, as the greatest Shugden protector, and as a supreme omniscient being whose narcissistic visions, power goals, dharma interpretations, lineage anaysis and fundamentalist politics are infallible.”

There is never any evidence provided for attacks of this nature. Geshe Kelsang has never claimed to be an omniscient being or a Buddha. He rarely talks about himself at all. He is a very humble monk and renunciate. He spent sixteen years blissfully happily in strict retreat, only emerging to bring Dharma to the West because his Spiritual Guide Trijang Rinpoche asked it of him.

While he is in the UK over the summer period, Geshe Kelsang lives modestly and simply in one small room at Manjushri Centre, the same room he lived in when he first came to the UK, and never leaves his room except to teach. He possesses very little. He does not even own a car, having sold the one car that was offered to him in 1986 so that he could donate the proceeds to ‘Live Aid’. He does not own a house, having given away the one he was given for a retreat center. He gives everything that he is offered away, including the royalties on his books and all gifts of money, property, statues and so on.

When he is not at Manjushri Centre, he lives quietly in unknown locations with just one or two assistants, and rarely travels or even leaves the house. There he engages in meditation retreat and continues to work tirelessly to help others by writing beautiful and acclaimed Dharma books and helping to preserve and promote the Kadampa Buddhism of Je Tsongkhapa in accordance with his own Spiritual Guide’s wishes.

Geshe Kelsang does not have one single trapping of luxury, power or worldly success. Nor is he interested in or engaged in politics. Although he is in good health, in Summer 2009 he will voluntarily step down as General Spiritual Director of the NKT, in a democratic system of succession that he himself has established.

As mentioned in an earlier article, relying upon the Spiritual Guide, or “Guru devotion”, is a teaching common to all of Mahayana Buddhism. However, Geshe Kelsang has managed to introduce these teachings in a skilful way that is acceptable to our individualistic Western sensibilities. In the West, people are suspicious of religious systems that promote another person and demand unswerving allegiance (except, curiously enough, when that person is the Dalai Lama!)

In recent years in particular, Geshe Kelsang has been explaining a profound and skilful method to practice relying upon the Spiritual Guide, which enables students to regard their Spiritual Guide as an emanation of Buddha during teachings whilst also giving them the freedom to relate to them as a more ordinary person at other times. It seems that by following these instructions, Buddhist practitioners of the future will be able to continue to make progress toward enlightenment in dependence upon Buddha Shakyamuni’s instructions on relying sincerely upon a Spiritual Guide. However, they will be able to do this without having to adopt unskillful, extreme or societally unacceptable behavior, and without the potential danger of being “cheated” or betrayed by a worldly or badly motivated teacher. For example, in Paris 2008 Geshe Kelsang said:

“It is necessary to clarify what happens during teachings. For example, if I have a pure motivation giving teachings to people out of compassion, and the teaching itself is pure, then the wisdom being of Buddha will enter my body and remain in my heart. In particular, I mainly give teachings from Lama Tsongkhapa, and so I have deep faith in Lama Tsongkhapa. If my motivation, view and actions are pure, and the teaching is correct, then the wisdom being of Lama Tsongkhapa will enter my body, remain at my heart inseparable with my mind, and speak through me. At that time I am like CD player, but the real teachings are coming from Lama Tsongkhapa or Buddha Shakyamuni. This means that at that time, practically, I can be an emanation of Buddha or Lama Tsongkhapa. For as long as that wisdom being remains, I am an emanation of Buddha, an emanation of Je Tsongkhapa. I can say this. If my pure motivation, view, or actions change, then the wisdom being will disappear and I will not be an emanation, I will become ordinary.”

This applies of course not just to Geshe Kelsang but to all those giving correct Buddhist teachings out of faith and with pure motivation, view and actions. “Emanation of Buddha” can refer to those who have attained full enlightenment as well as to those who are temporary emanations, functioning as Buddhas through the force of their faith, motivation and so on. Students can receive Buddha’s blessings from these emanations.

“It is important to distinguish these kinds of things. An emanation of Buddha can have many meanings. One meaning of emanation of Buddha is a person who really is Buddha, but there are other people who are temporarily functioning as Buddhas through the wisdom being of Buddha entering and remaining at their heart when they give teachings. At that time they have the same function as Buddha, and are also an emanation of Buddha. When the wisdom being disappears, they are no longer an emanation. Therefore, at different times, different situations will arise. Sometimes I can be an emanation, sometimes maybe not necessarily.”

Hopefully these three articles have helped to clarify how relying upon the Spiritual Guide is practiced in the New Kadampa Tradition. Similar teachings on pure view, Guru devotion and so on can be found in Geshe Kelsang’s books. For example, in Mahamudra Tantra pps 28-9 he explains how we should not reveal our Tantric realizations as this could result in inappropriate behavior:

“Even if we have the realization that spontaneously believes that we are Buddha Heruka, we should never indicate or declare this to others, as such behavior is inappropriate in normal society. People will still see us as John and not Heruka, and we also know that John is not Heruka. The realizations of divine pride and clear appearance are inner experiences that have the power to control our delusions, and from which pure actions will naturally develop. There is therefore no basis for us to show inappropriate behavior; we must continue to engage in our daily activities and communicate with others as normal.”

Geshe Kelsang himself is a very good example of what he teaches as he never indicates or declares his realizations to others. He gives his students the freedom to develop whatever view they wish of him. They can view him as an ordinary Teacher, or as a kind person, or as a Bodhisattva, or even as a Buddha, as is their wish. But this is their choice and it is a private matter of the heart.

Let us know if you have any questions or comments.


Relying upon the Spiritual Guide in these modern times

January 19, 2009

This article is a continuation from Smear: Geshe Kelsang calls himself Third Buddha and seeks veneration from his students.

The only reason for having a Spiritual Guide is to receive guidance on a spiritual path. And the only reason to follow or rely upon that Spiritual Guide is to make progress on that spiritual path — never to gain worldly power or success.

Geshe Kelsang said in Paris in October 2008:

“To understand who our Spiritual Guide is, we should know what the spiritual path is. If we know this, then we can understand how someone can be our Spiritual Guide…. If we understand that the qualification or characteristic of the teacher is to sincerely lead his or her students to correct spiritual paths (principally the trainings in renunciation, universal compassion and the correct view of emptiness) through giving teachings and showing a good example, we don’t need to worry. He or she will never cheat us. Otherwise we may be cheated.”

We can be “cheated” by someone who abuses our reliance for worldly purposes, for example for power, reputation, prestige or wealth. However, we cannot be cheated by someone who is genuinely leading us along the spiritual path if we are relying upon them for our own spiritual development and not for their benefit.

As Geshe Kelsang says:

“The most important thing is that we are doing this for our own purpose, because faith is our spiritual life. Dharma and the normal aims of samsara should not be mixed. If we separate these there will no problems; if they are mixed then it is possible that some problems will arise because the teacher can misuse his or her higher position due to the students having so much devotion.”

This is similar to saying that religion and politics do not mix – if politics and worldly concerns are brought to bear on a relationship between a Spiritual Guide and a student, the relationship becomes a power struggle wherein the student is inevitably the loser. The teaching on Guru devotion means to develop and maintain deep faith in our Spiritual Guide and to put his or her teachings into practice. “Just this!” There is no need for further relationships, such as business or political relationships, which in fact will only give rise to problems.

(This has been shown, for example, in the situation over the last 30 years in the Tibetan exile community. The dual, conflicting role of the Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader and political leader in charge of their lives and livelihoods has led to great suffering and confusion for many practitioners in the Gelugpa tradition because he used his worldly power against them.)

Pure, effective Guru devotion has in fact always worked independent of politics. There are classic examples we can follow, as Geshe Kelsang suggests:

“We can take examples from ancient times of how, for example, the Indian Buddhist Master Naropa relied upon Tilopa and how Atisha relied upon Serlingpa, and in Tibet how Dromtonpa relied upon Atisha and Milarepa relied upon Marpa.”

However, a note of caution:

“We should follow their example, but because both the teachers and the students were very simple, there were no problems. Now in the modern world it is not simple. Due to the huge development of material activities, people have developed many different aims. So be careful, keep Dharma purely and never allow extreme views. Teachers should never use Dharma for their position, and students should never use their teachers for their position. We should follow Guru devotion only according to the development of Dharma realizations. Because the modern world has developed so much, it is very easy to follow in an extreme way. We know that other religions have this extreme; teachers say something and their students immediately follow them, and this causes suffering to so many people. It is very necessary to prevent these kinds of things.”

In keeping with the Kadampa Geshes’ precept “to remain natural while changing your aspiration”, and the common sense wisdom tradition of Je Tsongkhapa, today’s Buddhists need to avoid zealous types of behavior that have no place in modern, democratic cultures. Our view of our Spiritual Guide must be kept inside the heart. We must avoid fanaticism mentally, verbally and physically — for example, telling the world that our teacher is an enlightened being, using epithets such as “Avalokiteshvara” or “Manjushri” etc.

“Teachers should never show ‘I am a holy being, I am Buddha’ and so forth, and also the students should never say, ‘My Teacher is a Buddha’. This is ridiculous. Saying ‘My Teacher is Heruka’ or ‘My Teacher is Vajrayogini’ is not correct conversation! We should speak and act exactly as normal. We should respect what people in society believe. Otherwise, if we behave and react in strange ways that society does not accept, we will become isolated. They will never appreciate us. Even faithful disciples never talk like this. For example, I have many faithful students, but they never say ‘Geshe Kelsang is Heruka’ or ‘He is Buddha’ or ‘He is Lama Tsongkhapa’. They never say this. … Modern people follow the truth as they see it, so if you say ‘He is Heruka’, ‘He is Buddha Shakyamuni’, people will see contradictions and not appreciate or believe you.”

This approach also has the potential to avert the disharmony that comes from comparing and contrasting one’s spiritual leaders.


Smear: Geshe Kelsang calls himself ‘the Third Buddha’ and seeks veneration from his students

January 14, 2009

Tenzin Peljor on a recent Tricycle editors’ blog, refers to Geshe Kelsang: “In NKT there is an autocrat and he uses his power in an autocrat way.” Elsewhere, the NKT has been accused of calling Geshe Kelsang the “third Buddha” and seeking veneration from his students.

The truth is that Geshe Kelsang has never used any self-aggrandizing terms in relation to himself — he is very humble and self-deprecating, attributing any success or good qualities that he may possess to Je Tsongkhapa and his Spiritual Guide, Trijang Dorjechang.

For example, in a teaching before a Je Tsongkhapa empowerment in 1995 he said:

“We can think, how is it possible that a foolish man like myself can write fifteen Dharma books? These are very different from other books. The NKT Dharma books that we are using as our subject of study and practice are not just a collection of lectures. They are complete with root text, commentary and outlines, made perfectly like Dharma scripture. How can a foolish man write these books? I can say that because Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings are so profound, precious and clear, it gives Geshe Kelsang the opportunity to write these books. All the explanations of NKT Dharma books come from Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings. Because these teachings are so special, even a humble practitioner and foolish man like me has the opportunity to present such beautiful books. Through this alone we can understand the pre-eminent qualities of Je Tsongkhapa.”

Moreover, gradually throughout his teachings and books over many years, Geshe Kelsang has been clearly teaching how not to rely inappropriately or in a cult-like way on a Spiritual Guide. Buddha’s traditional instructions on Guru devotion need to be understood and practiced carefully within our modern Western context. They must be applied in a very different way to how they were (and still are) sometimes applied in Tibetan society, and especially they must not be mixed with political control.

For example, in Paris in 2008, Geshe Kelsang said:

“Generally, of course, relying upon the Spiritual Guide is the root of Dharma realizations, as Buddha Vajradhara said in the Highest Yoga Tantra teachings and Buddha Shakyamuni said in the Sutra teachings. This teaching is everywhere — from Buddha Shakyamuni up to our present teacher, every teacher has unanimously taught this. We cannot change this. But because society, times and other conditions are different, we need to be careful. What we say and what we want should always remain in the middle way, never extreme.”

Geshe Kelsang explains that although it is a traditional and vital Buddhist teaching to view your Spiritual Guide as a Buddha in order to gain realizations of the stages of the path to enlightenment, this view must be kept inside the heart and not verbalized; and the teachers and students must also not claim to be holy beings (whether they are or not).

He explains: “Je Tsongkhapa strongly rejected revealing clairvoyance and miracle powers, or giving physical or verbal indications that we are a holy, pure or enlightened being.”

This is a “middle way” followed in the New Kadampa Tradition, which enables both teachers and students to avoid strange, “extreme” behavior, and to act normally around each other. It is in keeping with the practice of Je Tsongkhapa’s disciples in their monasteries in Tibet. For example, if a monk made a display of his miracle powers or clairvoyance, he would be asked to leave.

More on this subject coming later. Please feel free to make comments or ask questions.


Kadampa Buddhism in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa

January 9, 2009

Buddhism is starting to take root in areas of the world that would have been impossible even a few years ago.

This is one of the advantages of Kadampa Buddhism. Because it is not tied to Tibetan culture and politics, it is able to adapt flexibly to different customs and lifestyles whilst providing the pure Dharma teachings of Buddha and Je Tsongkhapa.

And check out a photo story detailing an earlier trip.


The qualifications of NKT Teachers

December 18, 2008

Some people have accused the NKT of having inexperienced or unqualified teachers. This has been addressed on the New Kadampa Truth website. Here are some extracts.

“This complaint generally arises in the minds of those who feel that all Dharma teachers need to be Geshes who have studied for decades in monasteries, or the nearest Western equivalent. However, the NKT never claims that its teachers are already fully trained or perfect…

Some teachers in the NKT have been studying and practicing for decades and have a vast depth of knowledge and experience. Others have been studying and practicing for only a few years. However, although there are a variety of NKT teachers, all of them are the same and effective insofar as they are acting as spiritual friends, simply teaching pure Dharma to help students find a happy life in accordance with the tradition of Buddha Shakyamuni, Je Tsongkhapa and Atisha as presented in the West by Geshe Kelsang….

Geshe Kelsang has also said on several occasions that teachers and students can help each other to make progress and can learn from one another. He cites his own example of learning so much from his own Western disciples. From this point of view, the NKT is more democratic and adapted to Western society than most Tibetan Buddhist organizations, where the teacher is considered superior to the students, Tibetan teachers are favored over Western teachers, and monks and nuns are favored over lay people….”

There are also a couple of other current blogs on the subject:

Dharma Teachers in the New Kadampa Tradition

Everyone can teach Kadam Dharma

As the author of the first one has pointed out, Geshe Kelsang has said that we don’t need to be Dharma millionaires in order to teach. People in this world are poor in terms of Dharma, so whatever experience of Dharma we can give them will benefit them.

It is so true. You don’t have to be a millionaire to give something of benefit to a homeless person, you need only a few spare dollars and a loving heart. Same for Dharma. And Dharma is the gift that keeps on giving — the more we give, the more we get, and the more we have to give!

Someone new to Buddhism told me recently that they would feel just as comfortable, if not more comfortable, listening to weekly Dharma teachings from someone who was not too far advanced and too far ahead of them. They said they would feel less intimidated and under less pressure because, as they pointed out, they were not at this early stage necessarily interested in learning everything about Buddhism and meditation. They just wanted a kindly instructor who was a few steps ahead and could teach them some basic meditation techniques for e.g. overcoming their anger problem. That person could always point them in the right direction if they wanted to find out more later. Also, they could always attend Celebrations and Festivals occasionally to see the bigwigs in action.

This is what they told me, and it led me to an insight into Geshe Kelsang’s point about Dharma millionaires. I pondered this and realized that I have had the same thoughts in the past when it came to learning other things, like yoga. When I attended a yoga class, I remember feeling relieved when the instructor did not seem to have mastered every asana, but seemed to be just a few steps ahead of me — I even found myself feeling pretty relaxed, and closer to her as a person, when I saw her make a mistake and topple over! It didn’t make me want to stop and find another teacher. And, thinking about it, it did not in any way diminish my respect for her as she never pretended to be perfect in the first place.

I remember feeling that there was a real possibility that I could even catch up to her if I wanted to, and that she could teach me what I needed to know in a very direct, immediate, unpretentious way. I didn’t want to know everything about yoga, I just wanted enough to help me become a little more flexible. So she could teach me the downward dog, and that was enough to begin with! Then she could teach me a little more. And so on. She only needed to stay a few steps ahead. I also knew that she could always point me in the right direction if I happened to surpass her and needed further instruction.

People who come to NKT weekly introductory classes are very often seeking simple, practical advice to make their lives happier and more peaceful. Most of them are not Buddhist. Even someone who has a few years of experience in Kadam Dharma, some faith, and a compassionate intention is able to give them this practical advice for a happy life. If their students go on to surpass them in experience and understanding, that is wonderful — and those students can then be directed to other more experienced teachers as necessary. Moreover, there are plenty of opportunities in the NKT to receive teachings from very experienced teachers, just not necessarily weekly on your own doorstep.

On the other hand, if every potential student had to wait for every Buddhist teacher to be thoroughly realized and accomplished before they could receive any teachings, they might have to wait for a very long time — death could easily come first. Looking back, if I had had to find the most accomplished yoga instructor before I could get started on the downward dog, I would have given up before even reaching the starting post.

(Please feel free to make comments. Also, you are still most welcome to send accounts of your own experiences of the New Kadampa Tradition to our comments section on this blog entry: Kadampa Blogs and Questionnaires.)


Has the NKT broken away from the mainstream?

December 7, 2008

Following on from the last article, Are NKT practitioners real Gelugpas?, there is another related allegation, which is that the NKT has broken away from the main Tibetan Buddhist traditions (including the Gelugpa).

Some critics see an apparent contradiction between claiming a pure Tibetan lineage and separating completely from contemporary Tibetan tradition. Some critics argue that the New Kadampa Tradition, as it is known today, is not part of the ancient Kadampa Tradition but a split from the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Yet others have argued that the NKT is a so-called “NRM” (new religious movement) deriving from Tibetan Buddhism, and a controversial one at that!

These claims are not new — they were all made in the 1990’s — but they have found their way onto Wikipedia and various other websites. So here is an answer to them, which hopefully will be helpful in showing the differences but also the relationship between the NKT and Tibetan Buddhism. Your comments and questions are most welcome.

The NKT is a Mahayana Buddhist tradition with historical connections with Tibet, rather than a Tibetan tradition. The reason for this is that Geshe Kelsang wishes NKT practitioners always “to present Dharma in a way appropriate to their own culture and society without the need to adopt Tibetan language and customs”. For example, we do not recite prayers in Tibetan, practice reliance on oracles, recognize Tulkus (reincarnated teachers), do Lama dancing, or use prayer wheels, prayer flags, and so forth, which all come from Tibetan culture. Nor do we engage in any political activity whatsoever, including Tibetan politics such as the campaign to free Tibet.

When Buddhism moved from India to Tibet, was Tibetan Buddhism a ‘splinter group’ from the main Indian traditions? No, it was a new development of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings in Tibet, and its practitioners were Tibetan (not Indian) Buddhists. In the same way, the NKT is a new development of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings in the modern world and NKT practitioners are Buddhists of all nationalities (not Tibetans or Tibetan Buddhists).

The NKT follows the pure Gelug tradition that has been passed down from Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419 AD) and whose teachings can be traced back through a line of lineage teachers to Buddha Shakyamuni himself. Therefore, Kadampa Buddhism started in India, spent a period in Tibet, and is now flourishing in the West.

While there are Tibetans who are (and have been) Kadampas and Gelugpas, Kadampa and Gelugpa Buddhism are not uniquely or naturally Tibetan. Although Je Tsongkhapa was born in Tibet, it is not necessary to be a Tibetan Buddhist in order to be a Gelugpa. Je Tsongkhapa presented the timeless wisdom of Buddha Shakyamuni, which is independent of culture and nationality.

There is no contradiction between claiming a pure Tibetan lineage and separating completely from the contemporary Tibetan establishment and other Tibetan Buddhist groups, as some people have suggested. It is possible to be a Buddhist follower in Je Tsongkhapa’s lineage but not a Tibetan Buddhist, just as a child of Russian immigrants to America may consider themselves American but not Russian.

Everyone who practices Je Tsongkhapa’s special explanation of Buddha’s teachings purely without mixing is a Gelugpa, and so the NKT is definitely a Gelugpa tradition. However, the NKT is quite separate and different from the Tibetan Gelugpa tradition. Its prayers and teachings are not in Tibetan, it has no relationship with the Dalai Lama, it has no political affiliations, and the presentation of its teachings is Western. It is Gelugpa in terms of view, practice, and action, rather than in terms of being a member of the politically-influenced Tibetan Gelugpa organization.

The presentation of Kadampa Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang is a modern incarnation of this ancient tradition and its presentation is especially suitable for Western and other modern-day practitioners. Before he passed away, his root Guru Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche advised Geshe Kelsang to teach in accordance with the needs of his Western students. Therefore, this presentation has been designed by Geshe Kelsang with the permission and encouragement of Trijang Rinpoche. Judging by the increasing number of Kadampa students throughout the world, it is working very well.

As for the claim that the NKT is a controversial NRM deriving from Tibetan Buddhism, the NKT is not a  “new” movement in terms of doctrine but an ancient Mahayana tradition whose presentation has been adapted to the modern world. Paradoxically, the NKT is described as “traditionalist” and “orthodox” in its presentation of Buddha’s teachings, yet at the same time called an NRM for not compromising on tradition.

The NKT is not part of  Tibetan Buddhism as it has separated out from the Tibetan hierarchy to become an independent organization. This was done in order to not compromise pure Dharma by allowing it to become a theocratical mixture of religion and politics.

“Controversy” arose in Tibetan Buddhist circles due to the NKT’s vocal disagreement with the Dalai Lama in the 1990’s over his banning of their ancient religious practice in the Tibetan exile community in India. This disagreement arose from the intention to preserve the traditional Protector practice of Dorje Shugden, which has been passed down by great Gelug teachers for generations.

Finally, it is in many ways ironic to call the NKT a ‘breakaway’ tradition when in fact they closely follow the teachings of their Spiritual Guide, who in turn relied upon the teachings of his own Spiritual Guide, and so on.  One could argue that the real ‘break with tradition’ came with the Dalai Lama’s decision to abandon the teachings of Trijang Dorjechang, who was both his Guru and the main upholder of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition in his generation.

We hope this helps. Please leave comments if you wish for further clarification.


Are NKT practitioners real Gelugpas?

December 6, 2008

There is an allegation about the NKT that comes up from time to time, which is that NKT practitioners are not real Gelugpas. Hopefully the following answer to this will help. If you have any questions, please ask in the comments section.

(See also this latest article for answers to related claims, Has the NKT broken away from the mainstream?)

The truth is that NKT practitioners are actual Gelugpas. Those who exclusively follow Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings are called ‘Gelugpas’. The NKT is a pure Gelugpa tradition because (1) it exclusively teaches Je Tsongkhapa’s doctrine, (2) its lineage Gurus from Je Tsongkhapa onwards are exclusively Gelugpas, and (3) Geshe Kelsang’s spiritual education and root Guru (Trijang Rinpoche) are within the Gelugpa tradition.

In 1998 Geshe Kelsang stated in an interview:

“We are pure Gelugpas. The name Gelugpa doesn’t matter, but we believe we are following the pure tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. We are studying and practicing Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings and taking as our example what the ancient Kadampa Lamas and Geshes did. All the books that I have written are commentaries to Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings. We try our best to follow the example of the ancient Kadampa tradition and use the name Kadampa to remind people to practice purely.”

The Gelug or ‘Virtuous Tradition’ (also known as ‘Ganden’ tradition) was founded by Je Tsongkhapa (1357-1419AD), an emanation of Wisdom Buddha Manjushri. As predicted by Buddha Shakyamuni himself in Root Tantra of Manjushri, Je Tsongkhapa appeared in Tibet, the ‘Land of the Snows’, to re-establish the purity of Buddha Shakyamuni’s doctrine by establishing the ‘Ganden’ (‘Joyful Land’) tradition.

Geshe Kelsang first introduced the title ‘New Kadampa Tradition’ to give the Centers under his spiritual direction a distinct identity within the wider Buddhist world. Although the Gelugpas were sometimes referred to as ‘new Kadampas’, the name ‘New Kadampa Tradition’ had never been used previously in a formal sense. Nevertheless, by using this title, Geshe Kelsang is making it clear that practitioners of this tradition are principally following the teachings and example of Je Tsongkhapa. The word ‘New’ is used not to imply that it is newly created, but that it is a fresh presentation of Buddhadharma in a form and manner that is appropriate to the needs and conditions of the modern world. Furthermore, by using the title ‘Kadampa’, Geshe Kelsang encourages his disciples to follow the perfect example of simplicity and purity of practice shown by Atisha and the Kadampa Geshes.

(1) The NKT exclusively teaches Je Tsongkhapa’s doctrine

All of Geshe Kelsang’s books, which are the core of the three NKT study programs, are based on Je Tsongkhapa’s commentaries to the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Vajradhara, and other great Buddhist Masters. For example:

Geshe Kelsang’s book  / Je Tsongkhapa’s book

Joyful Path of Good Fortune / Lamrim Chenmo (Great Exposition of the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment)

Universal Compassion / Sunrays of Training the Mind (notes compiled by Je Tsongkhapa’s students)

Understanding the Mind / Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings on Commentary to Valid Cognition by Dharmakirti

Guide to Dakini Land / Be dön kun säl (Illuminating All Hidden Meanings )

Essence of Vajrayana /  Be dön kun säl (Illuminating All Hidden Meanings ) and commentary to the Heruka sadhana, Dö jo (Wishfulfilling)

Clear Light of Bliss / Lamp Thoroughly Illuminating the Five Stages

Tantric Grounds and Paths / Great Exposition of the Stages of Secret Mantra

Ocean of Nectar / Clear Illumination of the Intention: An Extensive Explanation of the Great Treatise ‘Guide to the Middle Way’

Geshe Kelsang’s remaining books come from Je Tsongkhapa’s Lamrim (stages of the path) and Lojong (training the mind) teachings, from the Ganden oral lineage instructions passed on to him by his root Guru, from the Kadam Emanation Scripture, and from Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.

While the presentation of the teachings is especially suited to people in this modern world, the meaning of the teachings has not been compromised: the teachings are the same as those given by Je Tsongkhapa himself.

(2) The NKT lineage Gurus from Je Tsongkhapa onwards are exclusively Gelugpas

The NKT has an unbroken lineage of spiritual teachers from Buddha Shakyamuni to the present day. There is a pure lineage from Buddha to Je Tsongkhapa, and a pure Gelugpa lineage from Je Tsongkhapa to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (see Great Treasury of Merit p. 99-100 [Tharpa Publications]).

The lineage shows that the Buddhadharma practised in the NKT is, firstly, pure Buddhism in that it is the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni; and, secondly, pure Gelugpa in that it is the teachings of Je Tsongkhapa.

(3) Geshe Kelsang’s spiritual education and root Guru (Trijang Rinpoche) are within the Gelugpa tradition

Geshe Kelsang received his spiritual education in the Gelugpa tradition, at Jampa Ling and Sera Je Monasteries, and principally from his root Guru, the great Gelugpa Master Kyabje Trijang Dorjechang, who was at one time the Throne Holder (‘Ganden Tripa’) of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition.

In addition to having been trained in the Gelugpa tradition, Geshe Kelsang has continued to follow the guidance and example of Trijang Rinpoche by devoting his whole life to promoting Je Tsongkhapa’s pure tradition, carefully basing every one of his writings and teachings on Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings, and especially by remaining uninfluenced by worldly concerns, thereby acting in accordance with the meaning of Buddha’s teachings.


Letter from a senior FPMT monk

November 24, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are extracts from the letter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Yeshe Sangye”

The full letter can be found here.


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.


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.)


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