Concerning The Protests At The Teachings Of H.H. The Dalai Lama: A Resolution Proposal II

Dear Nicholas Pitts/Kelsang Rabten,

Re: Resolution of the Shugden Conflict by the Removal of its Causes

First of all, can I thank you for responding in a spirit which demonstrates a sincere wish to resolve this unfortunate dispute.

I would like to address your response to my original request [copied after minor editing below] by taking each point at a time.

Your response suggests the following:

  1. That I send this current reply directly to the ISC
  2. Provide you with information about the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama.
  3. Confirm whether the Dalai Lama has knowledge of the contact being made and whether he supports it.
  4. You advise that “If someone genuinely close to the Dalai Lama made contact, and did so with the Dalai Lama’s knowledge and support, with the intention of moving towards a resolution I am certain there would be a very positive response from the ISC”

With regard to point 1, I would like to offer the following observation.

This point is a request that our communications be conducted privately, beyond public scrutiny. I am afraid I am unwilling to do this. You are aware, I am sure, of your anonymous correspondent Indy Hack’s recent, controversial decision to publish the content of a personal communication with Columbia University’s Professor Barnett online, despite Professor Barnett stating categorically that he objected to this in no uncertain terms. Indy Hack justified the decision to publicize the comments, stating, “What he said to me has such bearing on the protests and is so overwhelmingly in the public interest, I felt there was no choice but to share it”.

Since the current communication concerns bringing those same protests to an end, I feel it is similarly appropriate that our communication be conducted in the full glare of public scrutiny. This will ensure that nothing is hidden from anyone, as well as ensuring that all those involved, those affected, the general public and the press are free at all times to observe our progress and conduct. This is only fair; there should be no secrets, nor a ruling elite who decide how the situation should unfold from behind closed doors.

Points 2 asks that I provide you with information about the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama as a prerequisite to further dialogue.

Here, I would refer you to two useful ideas from the Buddhist tradition. While personally, I abhor the tendency in myself and others to preach to others how to practice Dharma, there are nevertheless certain teachings that can help us understand practicalities in life and indeed how to set such preconditions might be limiting and unwise. I hope you will forgive my apparent condescent.

The first of these is the parable of the poisoned arrow, from the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta from the Theravadin Majjhima Nikaya, which I am sure you are familiar with. For the sake of those who are not, and to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first.”

The second is the the teaching on the ‘Four Reliances’, common to the Theravadin and Mahayana traditions, in particular the first two, which state:

  1. Do not rely on the personality of the individual but on the message
  2. Do not rely on the words of the message but on their meaning

I will not preach to you about the meaning of these; they are self explanatory.

Nevertheless, I hope you understand my point. Who I am and the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama are somewhat irrelevant here. What is most important, whoever I am and whatever that relationship, is that I have the ear of many of the important players in this issue, Tibetans and Westerners alike and moreover, that they consider my ideas and opinions valid and important. I can assure that both are definitely the case, as those who know me and with whom you have conversed have confirmed. This is a genuine offer to you on my part for me to use whatever influence I have to help all those affected by the discrimination you and I both find abhorrent.

Moreover, I would point out to you that, even imagining I were part of the Dalai Lama’s innermost circle, this would be to your distinct disadvantage rather than to your benefit. Historically, in such situations those closest to such figures are often reactionary in their outlook, overwhelmed by a sense of their own importance along with their opinions, enduring deep seated delusions of their own grandeur. Clearly, such an individual would be useless to you in resolving issues such as those we wish to address here. Far better that you have an independent who holds a moderate perspective and yet has the ear of the hierarchs, who advocates a ‘middle way’ and who has the interests of all parties involved at heart.

Your final points are related and as follows:

3. Confirm whether the Dalai Lama has knowledge of the contact being made and whether he supports it.

4. You advise that “If someone genuinely close to the Dalai Lama made contact, and did so with the Dalai Lama’s knowledge and support, with the intention of moving towards a resolution I am certain there would be a very positive response from the ISC”

With regard to point 3, I have no idea whether His Holiness is yet aware of my decision to suggest all that I have done below since, as I made clear originally, I am entirely independent; I do not work for the Dalai Lama and I therefore do not need to seek his permission to act. Moreover, my decision to approach the issue in this manner was made less than 72 hours ago and is therefore a relatively new development. Nevertheless, I will forward the content of this communication to the relevant persons and ask that he be made aware. As to whether he supports such a contact, it goes without saying that His Holiness’ only concern is the happiness and freedom from suffering of all beings, regardless of their persuasion. In light of this, I think it safe to assume that he would support our initiative, since its sole purpose is to end suffering and restore peace and happiness to our communities.

I have already answered point 4 above, inter alia. I sincerely hope that we can move forwards on this and achieve a happy end as soon as possible, for the benefit of all involved.

Please take time to consider your response. The festive season is upon is, which usually brings with it a significant drop in activity on many fronts. Can I suggest you let me have your response to my original suggestions no later than the 5th of January, 2015, by which time you should have been able to discuss the issues and reached your conclusions?

Best wishes


Subsequent to posting the offer below, I was advised that in Dharamsala, The ‘Global Tibetan Volunteers for the Truth’ (GTVT which have a definite connection to the CTA) are now placing NEW signs around town —I’ve seen the image. The new sign from the GTVT reads: ‘Give up alcohol your health will be better – Give up Shugden you will be happier / feel better.”

The GTVT have previously posted unattributed inflammatory material. Whether they are linked to the CTA is open to investigation. Nevertheless, it is clear that they have an aggressive agenda, which can only harm any peace process. Should you respond favourably, I can assure that everything will be done to bring such aggressive manifestations to an end.

Original  Proposal [edited version]


Helpful background interviews



Note by blog owner

The blog is actually closed, however until Saturday, 20th Dec. 14, 10am updates will be given and comments will be approved.

This Blog will be closed from now on to the end of April 2015

Dear Reader of this blog,

I will be in India for four months and I will be offline during that time. You can read the posts and comments and you can also add new comments. Please note: new comments need to be approved by me because this is a closely moderated blog due to the contentious nature of the topics. Until I am back new comments will be stored in a waiting queue and I will approve them at the end of April 2015. Thank you for your understanding.

For further updates or new information you could visit for instance:

Use your life well. I am going to enjoy this break and media abstinence very much ;-)
Thank you for everything. Tenpel


The story of a New Kadampa Tradition monk or How I got sucked into a cult

My name is Tenzin Peljor / Michael Jäckel. I was 29 when I met the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) in December 1995. At that time the general public didn’t know about any controversy relating to the NKT or how people have been damaged by the NKT. No Buddhist informed or warned any person interested in Buddhism to carefully consider whether they should develop their interest in Buddhism by placing their faith in the NKT. Here is a summary of my story.

Enlightenment by 21 Lamrim meditations! – What a marketing!

Enlightenment by 21 Lamrim meditations! – What a marketing!

I wanted to become a Buddhist monk after reading about the Four Noble Truths. Even in my childhood I wished to become a monk (though back then, a Christian one). Looking for a place where I could become a Buddhist monk, I learned about the New Kadampa Tradition through Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s book, »The Meditation Handbook«, and the posters and advertisements of the NKT.

My NKT teacher, who was the NKT representative in my country, convinced me to move into the NKT center and to pay rent – about three times as much for a small room as I had paid for a whole apartment. When I complained, she said, “You should think about how much you value following this path.”

Moving into the NKT center, I had some Dharma books, including a Dzogchen book and one from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When the teacher saw me with these books she said, “We only study pure Dharma books here,” looking displeasingly on my two non-NKT Dharma books. Shortly after this episode, she showed me Geshe-la’s books, saying “These are pure Dharma books!” Then I heard about the dangers of mixing ‘pure Dharma’ with ‘impure Dharma’, as Geshe Kelsang puts it.

The ugly, unfortunate result of not understanding pure Dharma and of following misleading teachings that pretend to be pure Dharma is sectarianism. This is one of the greatest hindrances to the flourishing of Dharma, especially in the West. Anything that gives rise to such an evil, destructive mind should be eliminated as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. (Clear Light of Bliss, 1982, page 154).

Assuming this to be true I threw these and my other Dharma texts into the garbage because I now feared that I might destroy pure Dharma by mixing it and thereby ‘harming countless living beings’ – doing evil. Subsequently, I did not read any Dharma book other than Geshe-la’s because I feared polluting my mind and destroying “this pure tradition”.

Later, I learned that I needed faith, and that doubt is the opposite of faith and very bad. It was explained to me that there are three kinds of doubt, but it was especially made clear that doubting Geshe-la, his teachings or NKT teachers is “doubt going in the wrong direction.”

When I studied Geshe-la’s book »Understanding the Mind«, I became even more convinced that I had acted correctly in throwing my previous Dharma books in the garbage, because on pp. 166–167 Geshe-la states,

It is mixing different religious traditions that causes sectarianism … studying non-religious subjects is less of an obstacle to our spiritual progress than studying religions of different traditions … the practices taught by one teacher will differ from those taught by another, and if we try to combine them we will become confused, develop doubts, and lose direction.

I didn’t want to loose direction or get confused. He was the master, he knew. My NKT teacher told me that we all are deluded beings and our analyses, thoughts and perceptions are not reliable: “Buddha says, we are not only wrong, he says we are totally wrong”.

The next things I learned were: Geshe-la is a Buddha, Geshe-la is completely reliable and knows the three times (present, past and future), and my NKT teacher is no different from him. If I see faults in them this is due to my impure mind, because Buddhas – unlike myself who is a deluded being whose perception is not reliable – don’t see faults, they have “pure view”.

Three years after I left the NKT in 2000. Losang Tashi was my monks name at that time.

Three years after I left the NKT in 2000. Losang Tashi was my monk’s name at that time.

The next step for me was that I was asked to lend my computer to the NKT office. When I asked for it back (to do my final university exams), I was told that I had donated the computer and I must be confused about what I had said. My NKT teacher explained to me, “Sometimes we do not remember what we say, you know …” It was explained to me that this academic study is worldly and unnecessary, a distraction from pure Dharma. Eventually, my NKT teacher and her most devoted students convinced me of this and I gave up the idea of finishing my academic study by doing my final exams. There is no need for an academic degree I thought. When I worried about it they told me I should not think too much, saying “Leave the thinking to the horses, they have a bigger head.”

I was asked to give a loan. I gave them all my savings and later when I asked for it back they said I should be patient. They made me feel that I was addicted to my money and that it was inappropriate to ask for it back. Likewise, my cupboard and another person’s couch were also taken. This other person was told he were addicted to his couch; therefore, he may be reborn as a tiny insect in that couch in the future.

The NKT center was gradually “inspiring” me to do more and more unpaid work for them (in order to ‘accumulate merit which we need for our spiritual progress’) and at the same time complained that I was away too often from the NKT centre as I had a mundane job in a private school: “You are too samsaric”, they said. Nonetheless I was giving them about 90% of my earnings.

Due to the gradual shift to do more and more unpaid work for the NKT and doing lesser mundane work from which I could make a living I could no longer pay the high rent the NKT centre demanded from me. Only one day after the date I should have paid my high rent they complained about my behaviour. They warned me about how much negative Karma I had created by not paying my rent on time. They denied that it was possible to balance it with their debts to me, “This is something very different, you should not even think like this.” They suggested that I should ask my friends to help me and to give me money. I did this; I asked a medical doctor who was a friend and she gave me the money. I didn’t get my savings back; so finally I decide to “donate” them.

I observed a similar pattern with all other NKT monks and nuns: finally, all of their savings, time and energy were taken over.

When I visited the NKT festivals in UK, we were told that we should have faith in our teachers, they are good teachers, and properly qualified. Later I found out that my NKT teacher had studied for only two years within NKT and that my NKT ordination was not an authentic monk’s ordination. A friend who complained about our NKT teacher to Geshe Kelsang was told, “If you would have Bodhichitta (a pure mind) you would see the Bodhichitta in your NKT teacher.” So of course my friend was wrong, he had no pure Bodhichitta, no pure mind, therefore he saw faults in his NKT teachers.

I didn’t want to receive the Highest Yoga Tantra initiation, but I had received so much pressure (manipulation) from my NKT teacher and the group that I took it. Afterwards, I was told that Geshe-la was now my root guru, and that if you leave your root guru you will be reborn in hell, all of your realizations will be lost and in all your future lives you will be without a qualified teacher.

Step by step, I was sucked into the system of NKT until I was quite brainwashed, deceiving myself and others. All of us were only worried about gaining “realizations” by being devoted to Geshe-la and doing what he says and giving our money, time and energy to the NKT to accumulate merit for ourselves (+ “inspiring” new followers of NKT to do it likewise), because without merit there would be no spiritual progress and no realizations.

This is me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the <a href="" target="_blank">New Kadampa Tradition</a> under the front group <a href="" target="_blank">Shugden Supporters Community</a> (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998. The Slogans were created by Kelsang Gyatso and state for instance "Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas. Please don’t lie." or "Dalai Lama please grand us religious freedom."

This is me (Kelsang Tashi at that time) protesting against the Dalai Lama with the New Kadampa Tradition under the front group Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) in Berlin, Tempodrom, 6. August 1998. The Slogans were created by Kelsang Gyatso and state for instance “Dorje Shugden loves Nyingmapas. Please don’t lie.” or “Dalai Lama, please grant us religious freedom.”

I learned also that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was possessed by a Mara (evil spirit) and was destroying the pure Buddhadharma and had broken with his root guru (implying that he will most certainly go to hell for this) and forcing others to do likewise. So, all of us, including myself, organized international protests against the Dalai Lama from 1996-1998. The NKT convinced me that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was so completely evil that I started to hate him and to also convince all the people I met how bad the Dalai Lama was. Another nun in deep despair, shedding tears confessed to me how much she hated His Holiness; another nun shredded her picture of the Dalai Lama. The protests became very aggressive and hostile; I felt very uncomfortable.

I learned that the last pure being on earth is Geshe-la and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an evil oppressor of religious freedom. I learned in NKT that the Dalai Lama is merely a worldly politician and is destroying the pure tradition of his root guru, Trijang Rinpoche.

Finally, I woke up, realising how one-sided Geshe-la’s claims were when he pointed out that the reason for some wrong developments within NKT was another person. Geshe-la completely blamed this person alone while stating that he (Geshe-la) had not done anything wrong and that NKT had not done anything wrong. I realized that this is not the Dharma and that my teacher’s and Geshe-la’s approach was not consistent with Buddhist teachings (for example, the Four Noble Truths) because delusions are the cause of suffering and things are interdependent / dependent arising and appear due to many causes and conditions and not due to a single cause. It is impossible to blame a single person for a conflict. I finally realized that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is not a Buddhist master because he hasn’t understood even the basics (dependent arising, patience, kindness and modesty), and I became determined to leave him.

Later, I recognized that I was not the only person who had such experiences; they seemed to be symptomatic and systemic for people in the NKT (Experiences of other NKT monks appear elsewhere on this website).

My NKT experience was like eating a sweet but poisoned fruit. The taste was sweet in the beginning; there were good times and good things I learned. Later, the poison started to ruin me.

Art work by Carol McQuire – A NKT Survivor

Art work by Carol McQuire – NKT Survivor

I expect that NKT will use their common strategy to blame the monk reporting here as mentally unhealthy or emotionally unstable or something similar (e.g. “disgruntled ex-member”) – as they have done so often in the past.

Nevertheless, I wish to express my gratitude to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and NKT. I learned a lot and I do not want to forget my positive experiences. Actually, in the end, my negative experiences turned into something good by my learning from my faults and those of Geshe-la and NKT – a great teaching that I will treasure. However, I would be happy if others could avoid stepping into such a devastating situation, which I see as a spiritual trap.

May His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the one who really cares for the welfare of migrating beings, have a very long life and may all his prayers and holy deeds be fulfilled.

May Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his students of past, present and future attain the state of full enlightenment, may they have faith in the Three Jewels, follow genuine teachers and rejoice in the ten virtuous actions.

Written around the year 2006 or at the time when the New Kadampa Survivors Forum was set up.


See also

Open Letter by Chairman of the Board of Trustees of New Kadampa Tradition’s Maitreya Buddhist Centre

GUEST POST – re-posted with prior permission from the author

I think it might be useful to post here the open letter I wrote back in 2012 in my attempt to try and summarise how an NKT Centre, Maitreya Buddhist Centre in Bexhill, England, became fatally undermined by the authoritarian tactics of an NKT monk sent in by NKT head office with a hidden agenda to make sweeping changes against the wishes or best interests of the centre’s members:

Message from one of the charity trustees of Maitreya Buddhist Centre

Dear members and supporters of Maitreya Centre,

Maitreya Buddhist Centre, Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, District of Rother, England.I would like to present to you the reasons for the charity trustees of Maitreya Centre refusing to comply any further with the instructions of the NKT (New Kadampa Tradition) head office. This is our side of the story and undoubtedly different to the one presented by Kelsang Chodor, the Resident Teacher, who did not give us the courtesy of allowing us to present our case at the same time as he presented his case to the members.

When Kelsang Chodor first arrived at Maitreya Centre, he promised to work with everybody at the centre and to give everyone the chance to get involved if they wished to help move the centre forward. However, right from the beginning he did not wish to discuss any matters concerning the centre with the trustees collectively, and frequently ignored the considered advice of the Admin Director (AD) and Education Programme Co-ordinator (EPC), who became very frustrated that much of their hard work was being undone and undermined. He called a meeting of all the members in January without consultation with the trustees. January being the traditional month of retreat in NKT centres, just holding this meeting at that time was deeply disruptive of the retreat; indeed, some people coming to the meeting were expecting to be able to have a retreat meditation but were stuck in the meeting instead. Chodor then announced his wish that the centre move to residential accommodation in Hastings. The fact that many members at that meeting expressed their concerns about aspects of this proposal and that there was not sufficient momentum generated for such a move, together with the concern of many that Sonam should still have a place within the centre if it moved to Hastings, probably goes a long way to explain what happened next, because very soon afterwards Kelsang Sonam was banned by NKT head office from all teaching activities. No explanation for this decision was given by the NKT despite repeated requests by the trustees. Finally, after several weeks, a brief statement was issued by NKT head office stating that Sonam was ‘impure’, without giving any evidence whatsoever for that claim and failing to give Sonam or anyone an opportunity to challenge that claim. I have known Sonam for 20 years now and I can honestly say that the claim of ‘impurity’ is just ridiculous. He has taught Kadam Dharma faithfully for many years to many hundreds of people and led many of them into the path of the NKT and has shown great compassion and loving-kindness in his practice of moral discipline and in his behaviour towards others. He has shown great patience whenever he has been the victim of malicious gossip by others in the centre, and has always served Lam-ma faithfully when she was Resident Teacher, helping her massively to cope with the burden of her duties. His humility and good heart is obvious to all who take the trouble to meet him and get to know him. The loss of access to his teachings has been devastating for the people in Hastings who attended his classes and derived great benefit from them, and the arbitrary, sudden, and unjustified nature of that loss has significantly damaged the reputation and credibility of the NKT in that area. But, perhaps more importantly, from the centre’s point of view, he ran two branches in the Hastings area, one of which was very successful indeed and brought a lot of much-needed income into the centre, and his series of Saturday Meditation Workshops were always very well attended and also brought much needed income into the centre. All this was lost when Sonam was ordered to stop teaching, placing a massive strain upon the centre’s cash-flow at a time when economic conditions worsening in the general economy were beginning to affect the centre too. Chodor made no serious attempt to retain those branches and workshops and never discussed with the trustees how they could be retained.

Then Chodor asked me to stop teaching the Friday afternoon class, again with no explanation and no justification provided other than that the Internal Rules give him the power to do so. Again he did not offer to discuss this decision with me although I asked him to do so, as I had genuine concerns about how the decision would affect those attending the class, especially as Chodor was not offering to find another teacher or to keep the class going; bear in mind that one of the ladies attending that class is a 95 year old lady for whom that class is the only one she can attend given her frailty and for whom it is precious to her at her time of life (she has also been a devoted member of the centre ever since it started). I ask you: would you have had the heart to deny her that class? Furthermore, the class was also generating significant income for the centre, income that would be lost and making the financial strain on the centre even worse. For these reasons I therefore decided to refuse Chodor’s request to stand down as a teacher. My moral conscience and bodhisattva vow did not allow me to abandon both the people attending that class and to weaken the centre still further by denying it a source of income. This has of course allowed Chodor to claim that I have broken the Internal Rules, but if that is true, then so be it. Here I stand, I can do no other.

Then we come to the next significant action of Chodor which was to ask for one of the monks of Bodhisattva Centre to move into the centre’s flat. That would have meant asking one of the existing residents to leave to make way for that monk, even though there were no grounds for ending his tenancy, and also giving priority to that monk above those people already on the waiting list of applicants (all dharma practitioners) who wanted to move in whenever a vacancy occurred. No doubt this refusal of Chodor’s request by myself and my colleagues has undoubtedly contributed to his, and NKT head office’s, present determination to remove us completely from any role within the centre, even though, according to our constitution, the administration of the flat is purely an administrative matter for the AD and trustees to manage, and is not the final responsibility of the Resident Teacher. Again, the trustees invited Chodor to attend a trustees meeting in order to discuss why he made this request and how we might be able to help him, but again he refused. He has always refused to discuss anything with the trustees.

Now, under charity law the registered charity trustees of this centre have a legal responsibility to ensure that the administrative and financial affairs of the centre are maintained in good order. We now feel that we are legally obliged to step in and prevent Chodor from continuing further to undermine the centre financially and, more importantly, undermining people’s access to the dharma by arbitrarily shutting down classes and courses without due cause or explanation/justification, and without adequate consultation with anyone or respect for the advice of the AD and EPC.

It should be borne in mind that under section 12 of the very Internal Rules that Chodor and NKT head office like to quote so much, the centre is obliged to emphasise its development by, amongst other things, “increasing the number of students, through caring for people with kindness and by making good publicity” and “ maintaining the centre as a pure, peaceful and harmonious society” and “increasing the number of branches of the Centre”. I charge that Chodor, backed by NKT head office, has been guilty of breaking the Internal Rules himself because his actions have helped to decrease the number of students, has treated many of them with great unkindness, minimised good publicity (Chodor refused to authorise a new Centre brochure for 2012 despite one that had been painstakingly prepared in good time by the EPC), decreased the number of branches and classes, and has turned what was a peaceful and harmonious centre for 6 years under the loving guidance of Lam-ma into one now riven by discord and irreversibly split. If Chodor is a completely pure and reliable teacher as the NKT says he is, what does such chaos say about his style of management and motivation in the short time he has been here?

Therefore, I am totally unapologetic about the actions that I and my colleagues have taken at this time, and I am willing to discuss them in detail and answer any questions that members have and I totally concur with Mr R. B. in his letter when he says the trustees will abide by whatever the members want when ALL of them have had a chance to express their agreement/disagreement with the trustees decisions. People who know me know what I have done for the centre over the years and my devoted service to the NKT for 20 years; I would never have taken a decision to stand up to the NKT lightly. I and my colleagues are having to take this extreme stance because there is nowhere to go within the NKT for our legitimate concerns to be addressed or even listened to. I am perfectly happy to stand down if a majority of local members want me and the other trustees to stand down, but I am equally happy to carry on as trustee if the majority of members wish me to.

The latest attempt by Chodor to allow only his side of the argument to be presented before the trustees can do so is just typical of the divisive manoeuvrings he has been engaging in throughout. Bear in mind that none of the trustees or centre officers were invited to the meeting he called yesterday with the members to discuss the private letter the NKT sent to the centre trustees, a private letter that he deliberately leaked to as many members as possible BEFORE the trustees had had a chance to compose a reply to NKT head office. Also bear in mind that I and my colleagues are just volunteers, not paid employees of a corporation. We cannot be compelled to obey orders coming from a head office over 300 miles away if we feel that they are unjustified. We have given up much of our time and energy to help the centre flourish for 6 years. If we go, other members will have to be volunteers and generate a high level of commitment and hard work to keep the centre going; total obedience to orders, regardless of circumstances, is not, and should never be, the requirement or expectation of volunteers in this or any other organisation.

Thank you for reading this and best wishes for your health and happiness,

Andrew Durling,

Chairman of the Board of Trustees,

Maitreya Buddhist Centre.

1st March 2012


See also

The story of a New Kadampa Tradition nun: “Disrobing”


My name is Andrea Ballance. I was a member of the New Kadampa Tradition. I was ordained in this tradition. I was a fully absorbed, dedicated, misguided and later an abandoned devotee of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

I thought when I joined (before the internet as we know it, now you can always google the group you are getting involved with!) that this was a mainstream Buddhist organisation similar to being in a religion like the Church of England but the Buddhist version.

I joined as one of their main teachers called Gen-la Thubten was being exposed for having sexual relations under the guise of a spiritual practice with nuns, single students, students who were married and in long term relationships. I was kept oblivious to all of this so I had no qualms about diving head first into the tradition. I was extremely naive back then. I thought all Buddhism was connected to the Dalai Lama. He was on TV, had books in normal bookshops, etc., he had to be legit, except it turned out (more to do with my happy blindness rather than it being hidden) this tradition had nothing to do with the Dalai Lama and I had not noticed.

Andrea Ballance as a nun in the NKT.

Andrea Ballance as a nun in the NKT.

I was ordained for about five years. Disrobing (this is the name they give taking off robes and dressing like a normal person again) from being, what I thought was an ordained nun, took me a long time. The process had started really from the first year of my ordination. Small chinks and rips in my integrity and ideas of what is moral and right were my first warnings.

I can not tell you how much I loved being a nun. No words can describe to anyone the absolute amazement and joy I felt when I realised not only that I, ME, could be a nun but that I was actually going to get ordained. The freedom I felt, freedom from conventional demands of beauty, behaviour, dress and female expectation. The joy of being allowed to be something I admired with all my heart. A nun – to me the ultimate expression of spiritual compassion and bravery. I loved nuns and monks so much that I have to admit I did not feel worthy of the robes. I hid in my ordination photos – I did not want to ruin the pictures with my obviously misplaced aspiration.

After ordination I was living, motivated to the best of my ability, a REAL life. A life dedicated to compassion and growth. A life that really had the power to benefit and influence the world, starting with the people around me. I was an object of trust and unconditional love for people, albeit aspirational. I could be useful to people who like me, may have had dark times and needed just one human to project ‘good’ on to so that they could chose to keep going. The slow cracking and poisoning of this well meant life choice practically nearly killed me.

I never fitted in. I was never allowed to fit in. I would call out teachers if I thought what they were saying was wrong. For example a teacher said, in front of a crowd of mixed ordained and lay people, “Fat people do not look very nice but thin people might be sick”. This ended in me having stern words with this particular teacher pointing out the shallowness of the statement. Pointing out that people saw him as Buddha on the throne (although to be fair Buddha was no stranger to being portly) and Buddha never said anything like that! Pointing out that thin people may be anorexic and that he may have caused some serious damage and pointing out that fat people only ‘look bad’ to people who can not live in the real world. I was not liked. I was seen as a troublemaker and a problem. I was excluded and pacified and basically ignored as much as possible.

I moved around from one centre to another – asked by the guru himself to move into the centre my first terrible cold and selfish teacher was moved to. I could not move straight away and spent sometime with the new teacher that had been ‘promoted’ to the main centre, Manjushri Centre. I realised quickly that we would not get on. I felt physically sick when a nun cornered me in the main hallway and whispered that I had been ‘picked to be in Genla Samden’s inner circle’. I left as soon as I could.

I then moved to the centre run by my first teacher called Losang Dragpa Centre. This particular centre has been shut down and it is now and sold off. It was deemed too impure. Unsurprisingly I was kicked out of that centre after a couple of years accused of ruining people’s faith and ‘stalking’ the teacher. I have to add that this teacher I thought was like a best friend. Like family. I loved him very much and even though I saw him as terribly flawed I was devoted to him.

They then allowed me to move to another big centre called Madhyamaka Centre. This was run by a teacher called Chodzom who it was later revealed was having sexual relations not only with the teacher Genla Samden but also with her own students. I did not know that at the time but knew I was not welcome there. My problem was that if I left the Dharma centre and tried to go it alone as a nun without a group I knew that I would become lonely and isolated and that that would not be right for my spiritual growth. Needless to say leaving this Dharma centre was the rusty nail in the coffin of my ordination.

I did not know how to leave. Barely no relationship with my family. I was stuck. No money. No deposit for a flat. Nowhere to go to. No one who would understand me outside of this group. I couldn’t stay, it was just too painful. I knew of the current sexual habits of the promoted main teacher. I couldn’t settle with the way I had been cast out of my last centre. I was not welcome in the new centre and was policed. I had become very ill and suffered from exhaustion; this was seen as laziness and selfishness and I was bullied for it by the centre management.

The months before I finally left I completed a month of silent retreat. I had found myself thinking everyday that the students were not compassionate in the Dharma centre and tradition. Not interested in practice of Buddhism as I understood it. No compassion, no Dharma. If there was no Dharma there then why was I trying to be a nun there? This echoing would not leave me alone. It would start the minute I sat on my cushion to meditate and repeat mantras.

This month long silent retreat helped me to come to terms with my undeniable realisation that the tradition I was involved with was not right for me and questionable for others. With this came the realisation I could not wear the robes of a tradition, be their advertising so to speak, if the tradition had no integrity or compassion. I just couldn’t do it.

The whole experience leaving the Dharma centre and choosing to go it alone was so traumatic. I can not even remember how it all came about. When had I contacted my family? I cannot remember emptying my room. Where we went… How we got wherever we ended up. All that part of my memory is a blank, a void. Same with the following months, they are missing completely from my memory. I remember nothing until I remember that I was living back with my family.

I couldn’t talk about the things that interested, healed and motivated me. I felt like I had been dropped into another country and I didn’t know the language or the customs. It felt to me like I was a character in a dark comedy horror film – a film where I was the main character, a ghost of some drowned, gray, dripping, cold, uncomfortable to be around ex Buddhist nun. Forced, for a plot twist, to live in a normal warm blooded family. I was a bald-headed woman, wearing funny clothes, in a world that doesn’t recognize a desire to be a pure Buddhist.

If I had been isolated as a member of the NKT it was nothing to the isolation I experienced here. The confusion and darkness that filled my life was unbearable. I couldn’t talk about the pain I was in with anyone. How could they possibly understand? No one to turn to that could understand that my mind felt like it was being held in acid, burning all day and all night with no relief. The only relief was dreamless sleep. I tried to sleep all the time. I was a shell. No Sangha, no Dharma teachings, no deep conversations. Alone, exhausted, stripped bare. No practice, no prayers and eroding faith. Guilt for letting everyone down and not making it as a nun. Pathetic, untouchable, unlovable, rightly abandoned and ignored. Ignored even by my guru.

I couldn’t get angry and back on my feet because I can remember the underlying feeling that everything that had happened was meant to be for my benefit. It is what the wrathful guru, a real teacher like Marpa would do right! A guru who really believed in my potential and really believed in the fact this pathetic human could use Buddhist teachings to purify their intention. Become a really useful living being. A real guru, who trusted my intention to be pure, who would force me to go it alone, to face my darkest fears. In particular, my fear of being in a world that doesn’t recognize bodhichitta.

It did not occur to me at the time to question the fact this ‘test’ was being given to a nun who had never been able to get any personal guidance on her practice or even stabilize any meditation techniques. With no one to take refuge in. I was left with an unsettling, undermining feeling that I should be grateful. That all my feelings of utter devastation, confusion, my feelings of isolation and abandonment were the evidence no one could work with me. That I deserved abandonment. The crushing and humiliating proof of what a self-obsessed, ego-driven, selfish person I was.

This invisible acid bath of torture I found myself lying in had the words MY and SELF forming in its vapours. The biggest crime an aspirant of unconditional love could commit. Everything I was, was harmful mind disease. I did not want to reach out and contaminate another human being. I was contagious and a vortex of badness that would ruin peoples lives.

I would like to say this dark place taught me loads of positive things and that i was back on my feet in months. But being an ex- cult member doesn’t heal like that. It just doesn’t make sense one morning and TA DA! you jump out of bed shouting, “Oh! That was unpleasant but I learnt a valuable lesson there”. The reality is, you exist. You exist until something manages to get inside the darkness and empty greyness and make life have meaning. That thing has to get in almost against your wishes. It needs to germinate when you are not looking and often it is just time and space away from the cult that gives the seed of happiness a fighting chance.

For a long, long time nothing has ‘enough’ meaning. Nothing really motivates you. Nothing makes you feel happy naturally as a by product of it just being there. It is grim, exhausting, lonely and relentless. You become a bedfellow with suicidal thoughts and the arguments for not ending it all. You revisit your guilt and pathetic-ness, each time fighting their gravity because the only thing left in you is the belief that negativity is a bad thing. Of course you know what negativity is, you have a degree in that. An intimate knowledge that can be called upon for varying levels of self abuse your cult no longer needs to provide people for because you have taken on their job for them.

You do survive however. You do become endowed with a creeping feeling of meaning in your life and you do go on to achieve awesome things and be an awesome person. It just might take ten years or more before you can get it together enough. For your memory to stay strong enough to be useful. And, as in my case, you might find you are no longer motivated by love and kindness just a desperation to be free of being remembered as ‘that person who brought it upon themselves, because they willingly joined a cult’.

You may also find that when you go through periods of having a good time… or people being nice to you… or a run of good luck… or even something small like someone checking how you are feeling, that you have an overwhelming need to run, hide and cry. The panic may swallow you whole and leave you breathless and you may feel lost in this new and unchartered experience. You must be your ultimate bravest at these points. You are entitled to be loved and experience happiness after all you are a sentient being and there are Bodhisattvas out there working on your behalf too.

May EVERY living being be free from suffering – even us.

Andrea Ballance also created the video cartoons :: Watno Guru


More NKT survivors’ testimonies

Concerning The Protests At The Teachings Of H.H. The Dalai Lama: A Resolution Proposal I


@ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Len Foley, Neil Elliott, and Nicholas Pitts (Kelsang Rabten)

I am a member of a small, unofficial, though well connected group of activists who have at heart the best interests of all parties concerned in the Shugden issue. I would like to offer my hand to you in a spirit of reconciliation and ask you to consider the following.

Since 1996 you have been protesting at various events wherever and whenever the Dalai Lama has appeared. You state the reason for your protests is that the followers of Shugden are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.

As principal evidence of this discrimination you circulate press packs which provide photographs of signs requesting Shugden devotees not to enter certain premises. These premises are of three types: religious institutions such as temples and monasteries; medical facilities; and shops owned by private individuals.

With regard to the first of these, you should be aware that it is a right enshrined in law, both in India and elsewhere in the civilized world, for the patrons and proprietors of religious institutions such as temples to ask those who hold differing religious views from their own not to enter certain buildings or areas. In India, non- Hindus are frequently instructed not to enter Hindu temples; thus exercising a right of admission refusal enshrined in Indian law. Elsewhere, in Saudi Arabia non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mekkah. In the West too, similar prohibitions exist: Gentiles are asked not to enter certain areas of synagogues, non-Catholics are prohibited from teaching in Catholic schools without the permission of the Church in some European countries, and so on. Even in the temples of the New Kadampa Tradition, those who have chosen not to receive certain tantric initiations such as Vajrayogini cannot enter premises where Vajrayogini teachings are taking place.

In short, ‘discrimination’ on religious grounds is quite normal practice in many of the religious traditions across the world and followers of these religions accept this, without claiming that they are being deprived of their human right to religious freedom or that they are the victims of discrimination. Please explain why followers of Shugden should be treated any differently in this regard and why normal accepted protocols should not be observed in their case.

However, you should be aware that if it is the case you consider yourselves discriminated against by the signs in religious institutions, there is very little that can be done about these, since such prohibitions are entirely legal, accepted practice internationally, with regard to the followers of many faiths. If you remain concerned over these signs, please lobby the Government of India, since it is they aho sre responsible for legilating in this regard.

Secondly, with regard to the documentary evidence provided from medical facilities, these images are over 15 years old and apparently no longer current. Please provide current evidence of  discrimination in a medical context so that, if it should prove to exist, those responsible can be informed of the disagreeable nature of their conduct and the problems their actions are causing and asked to remove all signs and restrictions, with a view to restoring harmony between our communities.

If you can provide current evidence of discrimination with regard to medical care, you are welcome to do so since it will give us an opportunity to rectify this discrimination immediately. If on the other hand you cannot provide current evidence, it would be entirely appropriate for you to cease protesting in this regard, since the offending circumstances have clearly ceased to exist.

Thirdly, with regard to the signs in shops in the exiled Tibetan community, these have been placed there as the result of individuals’ personal decisions, after considering the advice of HH the Dalai Lama. As such, His Holiness cannot instruct them to now remove them since this would imply that His Holiness had instructed them to be placed there in the first place and indeed that he was wielding political control over these individuals, neither of which is the case.

Nevertheless, I can confirm that many of  the individuals concerned have already realised their actions are providing ammunition for the critics of His Holiness and have therefore chosen to remove the offending signs. I can now confirm, categorically, that there are no more signs in Dharamsala or Mundgod. If you dispute this, please provide appropriate, dated photographic evidence. The situation in the settlement at Bylakuppe is not yet as clear but I do know efforts are underway to advise those who post such signs that, though they may well be acting in good faith, their actions are causing great harm at many levels and that it would be best therefore to remove them.

In summary, every effort is being made to ensure that, where actionable, any instances of discrimination against Shugden worshippers you claim are brought to an end.

In response, if it can be shown that the remaining shop signs in Bylakuppe and anywhere else they may have arisen have been removed, will you cease your demonstrations? If you are unwilling to do this, please state your reasons so they can be addressed at the earliest opportunity and this unfortunate situation can be resolved.

Please send your response to this website as soon as possible for public scrutiny and so any problems can be addressed.

Thank you.

updated December 18, 2014, at 01:24 pm

line-gothicSee also

Helpful background interviews

Update Dec. 18, 2014

The Pope and Dalai in the eyes of Beijing by Raimondo Bultrini

English Translation by Raimondo Bultrini & Francesca Paoletti of Papa e Dalai agli occhi di Pechino

“One thing is certain: that the commitment to peace by Pope Francis is indubitable. But for what reason did the pontiff not meet the Dalai Lama?” This is what Il Giornale [translator’s comment: this is a mainstream Italian newspaper] asks after the announcement that the Vatican is “snubbing” – to quote the words of the Guardian – the Tibetan leader. “There are no official reasons – writes Il Giornale – The background could be the relationships (which today are still very tense) between Beijing and the Holy See, with the claim by the [Chinese] government to nominate the bishops (this has become a common practice), totally ignoring the approval coming from the Pope. But negotiations are ongoing and, soon,relations could improve. For this, Tibet’s reasons can wait …”

I found this text in front of me while I was trying to answer the same questions. Why does the Pope, who is so inclined towards social outcasts and the victims of injustice, not receive a man who was forced to escape from his country as a refugee, one of the many that – according to Bergoglio’s words – are living on the sacrifice of Christ himself?

OK, the Dalai is a “refugee” holding a Peace Nobel Prize, he has had good fortune in terms of fame, not only as the representative of an oppressed culture, but also as a wise one coming from a different religion, Buddhism, who has so far given advice that was able to change millions of lives. Nothing compared to the multitudes of the followers of Christ’s message. But still he is the victim of a huge injustice, such as was the expropriation of his country, of his home, depriving him of the contact of those people that, after generations, still love him and are loved in return, despite all Chinese attempts to conquer minds and hearts of the Tibetans. If the Italian government, instead of the Lateran Treaty, had imposed on the Church the seizure of all goods and the submission of the Pontiff to the Party of the Duce [Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party], it would not have been a nice thing. So out of mutuality, between persons who believe in the freedom of faith, an embrace of solidarity with the Dalai Lama, just like those given to leaders of other religions and to Muslims, would have been universally appreciated. But certainly not by China.

Screenshot article

The kiss between the Pope and the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church Bartholomew (Photo Filippo Monteforte/Epa). On the right, the embrace with the Argentinean Rabbi.

Now, we can assume that the Pope might be moved by the compassionate intention not to hurt Beijing, especially – as Il Giornale reminds us – while there are currently delicate discussions going on, but for sure this leaves many others disappointed. Especially because the Catholics in China do not have much hope left for a treatment different from that reserved to the Tibetans, should they actually choose to go under the patronage of the Pope and not only or no longer under that of the United Front Department, Section for Religious and Ethnical Affairs of the Communist Party.

We do not know what image Pope Francis has of the religious situation in China and the consequences that befall individuals and movements that may pose any threat to the power control of the Party and the State. The Falun Gong and its annihilation with torture, killings and mass arrests of followers are a warning from history. Since the Vatican well  knows what the persecution of priests and devotees means in the same People’s Republic, it can therefore also imagine why, in turn, the highly spiritual Tibetans look for support, from an entity of perhaps moral and ethical “infallible compassion” such as the head the largest body in the Western Church.

A patrol of the Chinese army in front of the Potala in Lhasa.

A patrol of the Chinese army in front of the Potala in Lhasa.

The Vatican only need observe the photos and videos on social networks where you can see the Chinese tourists entering the monasteries and temples with shoes on, throwing the butts of cigarettes around, taking selfies with two V fingers amidst devotees and monks who meditate or prostrate themselves to the Buddha. Sure, they are acting in a gentler fashion than the soldiers of the PLA did when they razed religious buildings and statues and trampled the rosaries and prayer wheels of the devotees, and sometimes still do, according to reports from human rights groups and Tibetan exiles.

But in today’s China, there are more subtle ways to denigrate a religion and with it the love that binds the people to their current spiritual leader. To this end, China is supporting a group that accuses the Tibetan leader of committing injustices against the devotees of a certain deity of fierce aspect called Gyalpo Shugden or Gyalchen. This organization, which is headed by an old lama who was expelled years ago from his monastery for “severe violations of religious bond with the Buddhist community,” is so rich they can ship hundreds of people around the world  in order to demonstrate in the street and accuse the Dalai Lama of being a liar.

There is evidence of payments made by the followers of this erudite scholar and recognized heretic, Kelsang Gyatso, to organize the travel of the wandering protesters. Gyatso, the founder of the “New Kadampa Tradition”, whose aim is to revitalise the tradition of the original school to which the Dalai lama still belongs. With a luxurious seat in England and hundreds of centers in America and other countries where they practice the worship of Shugden, considered powerful and effective against all enemies inside and out, but that according to the Dalai Lama, is a source of discord and tension between the Tibetans from its origin to the time of his fifth predecessor, in the seventeenth century. The operational arm [of the NKT] in the current international anti Dalai campaign is the Western Shugden Society, recently renamed the International Shugden Community; their first public appearance, with the same tenor as that of today, was at a protest in central London in 1996.

One of the three monks killed in the name of the Gyalpo Shugden cult in '97

One of the three monks killed in the name of the Gyalpo Shugden cult in ’97

It ‘s a story full of intrigue and mysteries, including a triple murder in Dharamsala in India the year after that first demonstration in England, near the residence of the present Dalai Lama. A group of Tibetans who belonged to the same cult and was – at that time officially – connected to the NKT, was investigated and has not yet been acquitted in the investigation based on the substantial evidence of a plot to assassinate the director of the local school of Tibetan Dialectics, who had sided with the Dalai [Lama] against this practice considered so “dangerous”. In the assault, three monks were killed by stabbing them. Among the investigation papers were seized a list of authorities of the then Tibetan government in exile, the Dalai lama at the head, to be eliminated. A risk that according to intelligence Tibetan exiles still exists today.

Since there were no other “tracks” plausible, the culmination of the investigation of the triple murder focused inconclusively on the role of the association  owned by a group of Tibetan monks and lay people of a district in New Delhi, the Dorje Shugden Devotee’s Charitable & Religious Society, passed into the background. Yet it would have been important to get to the bottom of this, as it was its adherents that opened up for the first time to the Chinese the opportunity to realize the benefits of their special version of Tibetan Buddhism, based on the worship of a spirit which, ideally, is on their side and not that of the enemy, the “separatist” Dalai.

Starting in the days just after the triple murder in February of 1997, the Chinese authorities granted special privileges to practitioners of Shugden (the killers entered China via Nepal despite an arrest warrant being still pending), and invite them regularly to political and strategic consultations on how to reduce the influence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet. In exchange for this, they offer help in building yet more new temples dedicated to their “Buddha” Shugden, while Tibetans urging people not to follow this worship, as recommended the Dalai Lama, are even arrested as happened in these current hours to the 77-year old Jamyang Tsering.

A statue of Shugden with the fierce face hidden

A statue of Shugden with the fierce face hidden

At the international level, the current media strategy of the International Shugden Community is much subtler and employs millions of posts on social networks and invitations to the followers to participate in the campaign “Dalai lama stop lying” via twitter or more directly in places where demonstrations that are taking place in several places in the world visited by the Tibetan leader.

China naturally observes this, rubbing its hands together at this controversy which aims to undermine the figure of the Tibetan leader right on his personal strong point of human rights. The Dalai explained  his position many times on this subject and there are hundreds of gigabytes of online documents and testimonials from his own voice as well as books by scholars such as Georges B.J. Dreyfus [‘The Shugden Affair: Origins of a Controversy‘] and the Dolgyal Shugden Research Society (‘Dolgyal Shugden: A History’).

In this way, even the experts of the Vatican can investigate the background of this case and catch here and there a glimpse of the kind of strategy of defamation and denigration that China could take to downsize, just like the Dalai Lama, even the Pope of Rome.

For example, some more recent history, and equally embarrassing for the Catholic Church as that Tibetan spirit-demon, could re-emerge, history which has as protagonists Pope Bergoglio and other priests during the darkest period in modern Argentine history. In 2000 a court in Buenos Aires wrote in the judgment against three former soldiers sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two progressive priests, that the church hierarchy had “closed its eyes” to that double murder. Those were the years when the current pope was leading the argentines Jesuit order (1973-1979), at the top of the Catholic hierarchy who were asking the faithful to act as “patriots”.

A young Jorge Bergoglio in Buenos Aires

A young Jorge Bergoglio in Buenos Aires

Bergoglio remained officially silent even during the kidnapping of two other priests of his congregation, who were accused of conniving with the opponents of the regime while they were working in the slums. The Pontiff has always denied that he abandoned his men and instead always said that he helped several times the priests of the underground resistance. But he refused twice to act as a witness in related lawsuits, until in 2010 when he decided to appear in front of the judges and the lawyers said he had been overly “evasive”.

The accusations, from which Bergoglio has always been acquitted, are relatively important in the past of a monk of flawless faithfulness to the ideals of the Church. But when making agreements with men of power, such as for sure are the Chinese politicians negotiating with the Vatican, there are many surprises to be encountered. Considering all this, St. Peter’s hierarchs would have been well advised to reconsider their decision to renounce the meeting with the Dalai Lama only in order not to offend Beijing. If one day it could deem useful, the mud of those years under the generals in Buenos Aires could come back to the surface and the Pontiff would find himself – just as the Dalai Lama –at the centre of a controversy built up by others and backed up by the religious Department of the Communist Party.

For even in Chinese they say: “Defame, defame, something will remain”.

Originally published at La Repubblica Blog: Papa e Dalai agli occhi di Pechino (14 Dec. 2014)

line-gothicRelated articles

Interviews about ‘the Shugden controversy’ with academic experts

Related blog posts

Raimondo Bultrini about Shugden, the protests against the Dalai Lama and China’s role in it

The 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates ceases today. A brief summery covering the ISC / New Kadampa Tradition protests and links to new academic material can be read here. Raimondo Bultrini posted on the La Repubblica blog an article on the matter of the Pope who did not receive the Dalai Lama. Here is a rough translation of the relevant section related to the Anti Dalai Lama protests and Shugden.

We do not know that idea has made Pope Francis of the religious situation in China and the consequences that befall individuals and movements that may pose any threat to the power control of the Party and the State. The Falun Gong and its annihilation with torture killings and mass arrests of his followers is a warning in history. Since the Vatican knows what they mean persecution of priests and devotees in the same People’s Republic, can ‘therefore also imagine why in turn the Tibetans try spiritualissimi support, perhaps by an entity moral and ethical “infallible compassion” what is the boss the largest in the Western Church.

The Vatican would be enough to observe the photos and videos on social networks where you see the Chinese tourists enter the monasteries and temples with shoes throwing around the butts of cigarettes, taking Selfie with two fingers in V between devotees and monks who meditate or prostrate themselves the Buddha. Sure, they act so only milder than did the soldiers of the PLA, which razed edfici and religious statues, rosaries and trampled mills prayer of the devotees. And sometimes still do, according to reports from human rights groups and Tibetan exiles.

But in China today, there are more subtle ways to denigrate a religion and with it the love that binds the people to their current spiritual leader. To this end, China is supporting how can ‘a group that accuses the Tibetan leader of committing injustices against the devotees of a certain deity of fierce called Gyalpo Shugden or Gyalchen. This organization, which is headed by an old … moved away years ago from his monastery for “severe violations of religious bond with the Buddhist community,” is so rich you can ship around the world hundreds of people in order to demonstrate in the street and accuse the Dalai Lama of being a liar.

There is evidence of payments made by the followers of this erudite scholar and considered heretical, Kelsang Gyatso, to organize the travel of the protesters traveling. Gyatso is the founder of the “New Kadampa Tradition”, with the aim to revive the tradition of the original school which still belongs to the Dalai lama. It has a luxurious home in England and hundreds of centers in America and other countries where they practice the worship of Shugden, considered powerful and effective against all enemies inside and outside, but that according to the Dalai Lama is a source of discord and tension between the Tibetans since origin at the time of his fifth predecessor, in the seventeenth century. The operational arm in the current international campaign anti Dalai is the Western Shugden Society, later renamed International Community Shugden, and their first public appearance was in 1996, during a protest in central London, the same standard of those of today.

It ‘a story full of intrigue and mysteries, including a triple murder in Dharamsala in India the year after that first demonstration English, near the residence of the Dalai Lama. A group of Tibetans who belonged to the same cult and was – at that time officially – connected to the NKT, was investigated and then acquitted in the investigation despite the serious evidence of a plot to assassinate the director of the local school of Tibetan Dialectics, who had sided with the Dalai against this practice considered “dangerous”. In the assault were killed by stabbing two monks. Among the papers of the investigation was seized a list of authorities of the then Tibetan government in exile, the Dalai lama in the head, to be eliminated. A risk that according to intelligence Tibetan exiles still exists today.

Since there were no other “tracks” plausible, with the end of the investigation on the triple murder is passed into the background the role of the association that was owned by a group of Tibetan monks and lay people of the district of New Delhi, the Dorje Shugden Devotee’s Charitable & Religious Society. Yet it would be important to get to the bottom, as were its adherents to open for the first time to the Chinese the opportunity to realize the benefits of their special version of Tibetan Buddhism, based on the worship of a spirit which, ideally, is on their side and not that of the enemy “separatist” Dalai.

Starting with the days of the triple murder in February of 1997, the Chinese authorities have granted special privileges to students of Shugden (the killer entered China via Nepal despite an arrest warrant still pending), and invite them to regular political consultations and strategy on how to reduce the influence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet. In exchange for help to build more new temples dedicated to their “Buddha” Shugden, while Tibetans urging people not to worship as recommended the Dalai Lama, are even arrested as happened in these hours to the 77-year old Jamyang Tsering.

At international level, the current media strategy of the International Community Shugden is much thinner and employs millions of posts on social networks and invitations to the followers to participate in the campaign “Dalai lama stop lying” via twitter or directly in the places of the events that are taking place in several places in the world visited by the Tibetan leader.

China observes naturally rubbing his hands this controversy which aims to weaken the figure of the Tibetan leader in his own strong point of human rights. The Dalai explained many times its position on the subject and there are hundreds of gigabytes of online documents and testimony from his hands and books of scholars such as Georges BJ Dreyfus and the Dolgyal Shugden Research Society (‘Dolgyal Shugden: A History’). So even the experts can investigate the Vatican about the background of the case and here and there a glimpse of the kind of strategy of defamation and denigration that China could take to resize, as well as the Dalai Lama, even the Pope of Rome.

For example would reappear out some more recent history and equally embarrassing for the Catholic Church of that spirit-Tibetan demon, whose protagonists Pope Bergoglio and other priests in the darkest period in modern Argentine history. In 2000 a court in Buenos Aires wrote in the judgment against three former soldiers sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two priests progressives, that the church hierarchy had “closed eyes” of the double murder. Those were the years when the current pope led the Jesuit order Argentines (1973-1979), at the top of the Catholic hierarchy who asked the faithful to act as patriots.

See also

Dalai Lama in Rome: Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Summit, media, protests & interview with Robert Barnett


Logo of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates from 12–14 Dec 2014 in Rome

The International Shugden Community / New Kadampa Tradition protesters try diligently to get their message and accusations through during this weekend in Rome, Italy, where His Holiness the Dalai Lama participates in the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. (Why the summit moved from South Africa to Italy read here.)

It seems that weeks before this event started the protester prepared their media campaign and began quite early to flood for instance twitter via the hash tags ‪#‎dalailama‬ and ‪#‎nobelpeacesummit‬ with propaganda. (I guess Facebook was used in a similar way though – as far as I understand it – Facebook cannot be so easily abused for slanderous accusations or a hate campaign as Twitter.)

Twitter campaigning example teeded by NKT students

Twitter campaigning example tweeted by NKT students

The ISC/NKT also offered free flights, free accommodation and free food for the protesters. (see PDF)

However, the ISC campaign doesn’t turn the 14th Nobel Peace Prize Laureates’ Summit to the protesters’ favour and the campaign appears to be less successful than the ISC campaigning in the US. This year in the US the Western Shugden campaigners got at least some of their messages and accusations (slander) reported by local news and also some few major news.

The lead in the press in Italy was set by a major newspaper, La Repubblica, with an interview by Raimondo Bultrini – a well known expert on the Shugden issue, an investigative journalist with a high standing and a mafia expert who is also a Buddhist and close student of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. Namkhai Norbu is a well known Buddhist master from the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism and he worked at an university in Italy as a professor.

Unlike past noisy protests this time the protesters had to perform their protests rather far away from the location. The Tibetan National Congress had campaigned for this end.

Most of the Italian newspapers followed the lead by La Repubblica. This is a common media phenomenon, how and what one of the greatest newspaper of a country reports first sets the record for the other media in that country. According to a friend, the Italian newspapers took over most of the content of Raimondo Bultrini’s La Repubblica interview, and the position of the protesters is rather downplayed if not even ridiculed by the media.

The biggest issue in Italy are not the protesters but the indignation that there is no meeting of His Holiness the Pope with His Holiness the Dalai Lama because the Pope gave in to the pressure by China – fearing bad consequences for his 120 million Christian believers in China. Open Doors (UK) estimates that 100 million Christians face persecution in China. (see also BBC)

Some of the outrages commenters in Italy argued that the H.H. the Pope Francis seems to be more happy to visit mosques in Turkey than to welcome a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate but this seems to be quite unfair to me because Pope Francis’ faithful Christian brothers and sisters in China and their welfare might be more important to him … though it doesn’t feel very brave or solidly. I feel reluctant to condemn the pope’s decision.

However, the appeasement politics to China by almost all Western countries, the giving in of Westerners to China’s bullying tactics indicate also a lack of integrity. Human Rights are talked about a lot but when the economics come in Human Rights are easily set aside.

There is an interview with Tibet scholar Robert Barnett from Columbia University that covers different subjects related to the Shugden controversy and the protests, including an investigation into the claims of the protesters, and the role and power of the Dalai Lama. Many things Robert Barnett says are not known to the general public. The interview and what he has to say is really worth reading – and it is balanced and fair:

There is also an article by Prof. Hartmann about religious freedom and the Shugden conflict that investigates and criticizes a frequently used media from Germany, ARD’s Panorama magazine, who offered under the guise of enlightenment a strange propaganda piece:

And finally, here is the translation by Francesca Paoletti of the La Repubblica article from 11 Dec. 2014:

The values of the Dalai Lama: “Like Malala, I am fighting for truth”

The Buddhist leader is in Rome, but he will not meet the Pope: “Religion is not enough, we need a secular ethics”.

“Pope Francis? I would be very happy to meet him.”
This is what the Dalai Lama says in this interview to La Repubblica, just ahead of the summit of Nobel Peace Prize holders that will take place in Rome from tomorrow [Friday] until Sunday. But a summit between the pontiff and the Buddhist spiritual leader will not take place. “An audience is not scheduled. There will be a message from the Pope to the Dalai Lama, signed by the State Secretary Parolin.” is what is communicated by the Vatican.

The other topics discussed in this interview are the difficult relations with China, the Nobel Prize to Malala and the right to education, and the controversy of the “dissident Tibetan Buddhists”, who have also announced protests against the Dalai Lama in the coming days in Rome. But he also adds that religion alone is not enough to solve the troubles and the injustice in the world: “We need a secular ethics, which is shared also with non-believers”.

Your Holiness, following Chinese pressure the Nobel Peace Prize holders have moved their world summit meeting dedicated to Mandela after you had been denied the visa to enter South Africa. What was your reaction?

“You see, at the beginning, two Nobel Prize holders from South Africa had invited me and of course I accepted. However, the embassy in India refused to issue a visa for me. Even previously I wasn’t allowed to meet and pay my respects to Mandela before he died, but I accept things as they are.

Of course, for the involved governments, national interests are important, but I can reassure them that the Dalai Lama is not a harmful person. My interest is in promoting human values, in a world of 7 billion members of the same family.

We have to carry these values within us whatever we are doing, be it in politics, economics, religion or education. If I had a political agenda, I would feel disappointed, but this is not the case. And certainly I appreciate my friends from the Nobel Prize for their warm support. Thanks to them and to the support of the Mayor of Rome, this time I will be able to participate.”

Many people cannot understand why powerful China is so afraid of you.

“They call me a demon and a separatist, but in reality it is the Chinese army that acts like a separatist in Tibet. If you hit a dog, it will run away. If you want the dog to stay, you have to treat it with kindness.

Tibetans are human beings and it is not enough to blandish them with infrastructure if afterwards there is a complete lack of respect. The fight is between the power of guns and the power of truth. At present, the weapons are winning, but in the end, truth will prevail.”

Malala, who received the Nobel Prize yesterday, became a symbol for the right to education. Do you believe that education can be a substitute for religion?

“Many people that create problems in many parts of the world are often well educated, so we must not talk only about education, but also about values. And it is religion that takes care of this. But today we must also pay as much attention to the secular ethics that is the foundation of all religious traditions. If education is combined with a spirit of kindness, then your education, your knowledge will be constructive throughout all your life. You will be able to contribute to society and to the improvement of humanity.

Despite its role as a moral guide which gives  meaning to life, in our modern secular world, religion alone is no longer adequate as a foundation for ethics. One reason for this is that many people do not follow any particular faith and so we should find an ethical approach to counter this lack of values which is acceptable both for those who have a religious faith and for those who do not. I am talking about a secular ethics; inner values that should be transmitted through education, which today is more focused on material things than on moral principles.”

You said you are eager to meet Pope Francis. There seem to be similarities in the simplicity of your approach to the world.

“I had a favourable impression of him and I would be very happy to meet him in person. I was impressed by his decision to remove that German archbishop who was preaching restraint to his church while living in luxury. I also admired his attempt to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It was a good, beneficial effort.”

You have said repeatedly that you might be the last of the Dalai Lama lineage, but the Chinese authorities have replied: “Whether he likes it or not, he must be reborn”.

“If I were to die today, I think that the Tibetan people would choose to have another Dalai Lama. But in future, if this institution is no longer relevant or beneficial and Tibet changes, then the institution of the Dalai Lama will cease. Personally, I feel that it has achieved its goal. When in 2011 I transferred my responsibility to a new lay leader, elected by the exiled people, I didn’t do it reluctantly, but with joy.”

But China has already recognized and taken control of another “reincarnated” Tibetan.

“Reincarnation should arise out of free will or at least on the basis of karma, of merit and of the prayers of the person involved. Nobody else can force or manipulate the way in which one person wants to be reborn in their next life. And it is particularly inappropriate for the Chinese communists, who explicitly reject the notion of past and future lives, thus leaving aside the notion of reincarnated Lamas. They only think in terms of politics and power.”

A group of dissidents that used to belong to your same religious tradition has been protesting for some time in various parts of the world and they will also be in Rome today. They ask for the freedom to worship a being that you consider a “sinister spirit” and they say they feel discriminated against.

“Out of ignorance, from 1951 until 1970, I also worshipped this ghost. Then I found out that the 5th Dalai Lama, who had a profound knowledge of this matter, referred to this spirit as an entity born of distorted prayers and as harmful to the Buddha’s teachings.

Making a mistake out of ignorance is understandable, but to consciously act mistakenly is another matter. Those people that manifest against me in public, in the USA and in Europe call me an enemy of Buddhism; they shout, beat drums and carry banners. Their faces are contorted in aggressive expressions. Their slogan is “Stop lying”: but who is lying really?

Because of distorted information, the followers of this practice are totally confused. But in the end it is good thing that these things draw attention to this problem, since they encourage people to investigate what the whole thing is about.”

(With the cooperation of Jeremy Russell)

More and more testimonies from former New Kadampa Tratition (NKT) followers

In the last weeks three new public testimonies of “New Kadmapa Survivors” were posted with the full name of the author on the New Kadampa Survivor Actvists Facebook Group.

In a new testimony Ivy describes the experience exactly as most of the stories of encountering and then following the NKT unfold:

I was in the NKT for 5 years. My initial year there was incredible. Everyone was so kind and seemed so happy. I stayed on the outskirts for a while, only going to GP classes once a week or a puja here or there. I was befriended on Facebook by practically everyone within a few weeks. Each time I went to the center I was bombarded with attention by nuns and starry-eyed students, which made me feel extremely welcome. Eventually one nun started asking me if I wanted to build merit by cleaning the bathrooms at the center once a week. It took me about a year to work my way into the “inner circle” of the center this way. I began volunteering for reception shifts, helping in the bookshop, doing flower offerings, cooking meals, assisting the teacher in his branch classes, and of course, cleaning the bathrooms. I became close friends with some of the more senior members of the center and soon began considering moving in to the center myself, and perhaps even ordaining …

Ivy’s story ends similar as the story ended for those who had the integrity and courage to leave the NKT and who want now to inform the broader public about the NKT in order to protect others from the damage NKT is inflicting on their followers in the long run:

With a heavy heart, I quietly stopped going to the center. No one ever contacted me to see where I went or what happened, even though I’d been very close friends with them for 5 years. They all unfriended me from Facebook after I posted a picture of the Dalai Lama with a quote about kindness. It took me years to come to grips with the fact that I was in a cult. My entire life was built up and then shattered. I’ve been going to therapy ever since but I still am very distrustful of people, particularly dharma teachers. I haven’t been able to meditate because every time I sit my mind is flooded with memories. The NKT is an extremely dangerous organization that has ruined the lives of a lot of genuine spiritual practitioners. I hope that anyone reading my story will think twice about joining their ranks.

Read Ivy’s full story …

Thank you Ivy and all those who started to speak up!

More NKT survivors’ testimonies



Update Dec 3, 2014

@IndyHack who harasses, defames and harms under the guise of human rights rhetoric on Twitter and on his “” site the Dalai Lama, scholars, Buddhist monks and the Tibetans – including Tibetan Shugden practitioners:

This is Jamyang Khedrup’s final statement to your activities regarding him

My friend who is in IT sent me this message that seems to help to clarify that I am not behind @manjushriNL:

My feeling is that the person behind @manjsuhriNL is related to Rigpa Amsterdam, see:

- and

I think this person will never react on Twitter and that’s a shame.

New Political Force of Tibetans and an amazing result: 14th World Peace Summit now in Rome

To make you aware of a new, successful Tibetan political group, I would like to introduce briefly the Tibetan National Congress (TNC) and a very successful move they made. The TNC describes themselves on Facebook:

The TNC is a political freedom movement established as a democratic, non-sectarian, non-regional, pan Tibetan movement that seeks to pursue the ultimate goal of restoring a sovereign and independent Tibetan nation state.

victorySouth Africa rejected the entry of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a Nobel peace prize winners’ summit; giving in to the pressure and bullying of China. The TNC has successfully relocated the Nobel Peace Summit to Rome.

The Tibetan Political Review states (Nov 20, 2014):

The 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates was scheduled to convene in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2014, but was later cancelled following several Nobel Peace laureates pulling out of the event after the South African government succumbed to pressure from China to deny a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Summit will be now moved to Rome from December 12 to 14, 2014. where it was first hosted and then seven times after; Rome where the Secretariat’s office is based. The Permanent Secretariat of Nobel Peace laureates summit is yet to make a formal announcement. But a formal invitation to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is an honorary citizen of Rome, has been accepted. Read more …

The New York Times’s Sinosphere Blog describes the pressure from China onto South Africa (October 6, 2014):

The Chinese government has been on something of a tear lately in its effort to compel governments to shun the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. In recent years, pressure from Beijing has convinced political leaders in countries like Norway and Britain to snub him, at least in venues associated with visiting dignitaries.

But a decision by South Africa to deny the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a gathering of former Nobel laureates in Cape Town appears to have backfired in a way that is drawing increased scrutiny to China’s heavy-handed tactics.

Last week, South Africa was forced to cancel the 14th World Peace Summit, which had been scheduled to start Oct. 13, after nine former peace prize winners and 11 affiliated organizations announced they would boycott the conference. The event was billed as the largest gathering of Nobel laureates and was to be dedicated to Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader who was also a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. South Africa would have been the first African country to host the event. Read more …


The TNC also made a petition in which they ask the authorities of Rome to ensure that any anti-Dalai Lama protesters in Rome be kept at a safe distance from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness the Dalai Lama will attend the relocated 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome on December 12-14, 2014. You can sign the petition here:

Media Note to Tibetan Youth Congress Official Statement on Dorjee Shugden released on May 23, 2014

The Western campaigning Shugden group tends to ignore the voice of Tibetans. It is also somewhat strange that Westerners speak of an issue that is a deeply inner Tibetan topic. That’s why from time to time this blog highlights Tibetan voices.

statement.DS_In the past few months, activities to disrupt the unity and harmony of Tibetans from Dorjee Shugden groups have rapidly increased. They have been organizing carefully orchestrated protests at various cities across the world where His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been engaged in Public events and talks. The slogans used by members of the group are despicable and have no truth whatsoever. Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) in its Statement released on May 23, 2014 condemned these activities by the Dorjee Shugden group.

Lately the group has been targeting TYC and is trying to tarnish the reputation of the largest Tibetan NGO in exile. They have set up Dorjee Shugden Tibetan Youth Congress page on social media sites Facebook and Youtube. False allegations and anti Dalai Lama activities, comments and videos are released through these sites. TYC would like to make it clear that we have no relations with the Dorjee Shugden group so called ‘Dorjee Shugden Tibetan Youth Congress’ and are not associated with these sites. We ask the group to stop using the name of our organization to further their propaganda. TYC will formally launch a complaint with the social media sites and ask that they be taken down immediately.

Formed in 1970, TYC remains the most politically active organization in exile working for the freedom of the Tibetan people. The Chinese government has time and again charged TYC with baseless allegations and has accused TYC of inciting violent riots and the self-immolations inside Tibet. TYC has always maintained that those accusations hold no truth and the organization continues to adhere to the principles of non-violence in order to achieve our goals. It is clear that both the Chinese government and the Dorjee Shugden group are working towards creating conflict amongst Tibetans. But they will not win.

The Tibetan people are bonded by our faith and trust in our spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and we will not be divided by such futile efforts. We are more than just a cause. We are a people whose resilience should not be taken for granted and today with the courage and spirit of Tibetans inside Tibet, the Tibetans in exile and in Tibet remain more united than ever. Tibetan Youth Congress reminds all Tibetans to remain vigilant, attentive and cautious during visits of HH the Dalai Lama to your cities and we urge you to step up security and also partake in educational awareness raising campaigns regarding this issue.


See also

Dalai Lama protests: A letter to the editors of WELD for Birmingham magazine

You might have noted that it are rather small local US magazines, blogs, or news sites that picked up the sensationalist claims of the International Shugden Community (ISC) protesters against the Dalai Lama during his recent visit in the US. News is a business. The news business sells information and it depends on click rates and an advertisement model to earn money. News are not generally dedicated to the truth but to earn money which in turn depends on the click rates. A new movie highlights the moral corruption that can go along with the pressure to sell information, Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal. I think if you consider this background, its implications, and the stress local news journalists usually experience it is understandable why they so often fail to inform their readers well and rather offer the media-savvy protesters a platform for their propaganda, letting them express their often absurd claims unchallenged.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-11-25 um 13.19.15After a complaint to one of those magazines, WELD for Birmingham, the journalist Cody Owens encouraged me to write a letter to the editor, Nick Patterson. Patterson in turn asked me to sent him a letter he can publish as a reply to their previous piece about the Anti Dalai Lama protests. Since this letter to the editors is not available online on WELD, I was thinking to share it with you because it portrays a general dilemma of the news dealing with the protests and the Shugden issue.

Dear Nick Patterson and Dear Cody Owen,

The October 28 article, “Protesting the Dalai Lama” tries to give a balanced account of the different perspectives of two opposing groups. On the one side, a mainly Western group that accuses the Dalai Lama of “violating human rights”, “instigating violence based on religious beliefs”, “persecution” etc. On the other hand, mainly Tibetans who oppose the protesters’ claims and support the Dalai Lama. The latter try to make the issue understandable for Westerners by referring to Shugden worship as “devil worship” and claim that the protesters are financed by China, a claim which the protesters reject.

Both clashing worlds are quite contrary to each other; what I missed was a perspective that evaluated both sides’ claims.

I think the whole issue is that both sides come from two different worlds which do not meet; what is said is mainly based on cross cultural confusion and misinformation. The protesters strongly emphasize human rights violations and religious discrimination (a Western / U.S. perspective) while the Tibetans stress the nature of the fierce deity Shugden as a violent wrathful spirit that kills and harms those who practice teachings from different Buddhist schools – therefore, for them, it is correct to restrict such a practice due to its religious intolerance (a religious Occidental / Tibetan perspective).

I assume due to a lack of time you were not able to ask any academic expert about this topic. Please allow me to set the record straight by quoting briefly academic experts.

Tibet scholar Robert Barnett from Columbia University (New York) told Time Magazine in 2008 that the protesters were “severely lacking in creditability” and that the practice of Shugden is “heterodox, provocative and highly sectarian in Buddhist terms”. John Makransky, an American professor of Buddhism and comparative theology at Boston College, said about the cross cultural confusion apparent in this context:

“A stunning recent example of this: some Tibetan monks who now introduce Westerners to practices centred on a native Tibetan deity, without informing them that one of its primary functions has been to assert hegemony over rival sects! The current Dalai Lama, seeking to combat the ancient, virulent sectarianisms operative in such quarters, has strongly discouraged the worship of the ‘protector’ deity known as Dorje Shugden, because one of its functions has been to force conformity to the dGe lugs pa sect (with which the Dalai Lama himself is most closely associated) and to assert power over competing sects. Western followers of a few dGe lugs pa monks who worship that deity, lacking any critical awareness of its sectarian functions in Tibet, have recently followed the Dalai Lama to his speaking engagements to protest his strong stance (for non-sectarianism) in the name of their ‘religious freedom’ to promulgate, now in the West, an embodiment of Tibetan sectarianism. If it were not so harmful to persons and traditions, this would surely be one of the funniest examples of the cross-cultural confusion that lack of critical reflection continues to create.”

Bearing in mind the cross cultural background, there are two other things worth to consider: 1) not a single human rights group – despite being flooded with material by the group since 1996 – has ever confirmed religious discrimination or human rights abuses 2) the Indian Delhi High Court rejected the protesters claims because of ‘vague averments’ and an ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’ against Shugden worshippers.

With regard to the accusation itself: It is simply not true, that the Shugden people don’t get travel documents etc. They get travel documents, they get jobs, access to education, health services etc. not even a general ban exists. However, there are a few problematic instances and the practice is restricted in certain institutional contexts like the three main Gelug monasteries. But the restriction on Shugden worship was decided by democratic majority vote in which all the monks had a say, in a “stick referendum” – a procedure laid down by the Buddha to settle conflicts in the monastic communities. A significant majority of monks at those institutions voted to restrict Shugden worship, and those who wanted to continue Shugden worship, though they had to leave the broader institution, got their fair share of the buildings, property and money. If there was an unfair division of assets or other issues of discrimination these could be addressed in India with legal means. The Tibetans in India are under the Indian constitution and the case Shugden campaigners launched in the Indian High Court at Delhi was dismissed.

The protesters build a huge conspiracy theory out of some rare examples, a conspiracy in which the Dalai Lama is “the worst dictator of our modern time”, “a liar” (because he does not share the protesters’ view that Shugden is a Buddha), “evil and cruel” etc. The whole campaign only aims to attack the character of the Dalai Lama, and the “Human Rights”, “Religious Freedom” framework is only the guise to do that. Academic experts such as Prof Jonathan Gold in The Princetonian or Prof Nathan Hill in The Foreigner recently called the accusations of persecution and denying freedom of religion more or less nonsensical.

This brings me to the last point. Who is behind the protests? And why am I writing to you? I was once a part of this very campaigning group and protested and organized protests against the Dalai Lama too, from 1996-98. I was seriously misinformed by the group. Over the last 12 years, I have investigated all of their claims and discovered the majority are false, mixed with some few truths, exaggerations, things taken out of context, misrepresentations and lies that culminate in a total spin of the facts (which certainly appeal to the uneducated person) – twists, that any expert or any knowledgeable person could easily repudiate as false or misleading.

We ex-members of the campaigning group – the New Kadampa Tradition – issued a declaration, and we ex-members are helping each other to recover from the damage the group has done to us in a self-help forum “New Kadampa Survivors” which has 1,270 members. We compare the campaigning group and their strategy with Scientology. There are a lot of similarities, and I think, if Scientology bullies one of their enemies with a huge world wide media campaign, the press would be a bit more careful to report extensively about their accusations.

And this is what I would like to ask the press: please be more careful and please ask academic experts. The reader is otherwise left in confusion about how valid or non-valid the claims of a high profile campaigning group and its opponents are; some of the false allegations will stick to the Dalai Lama and will only undermine his wonderful, human, and enlightening activities and the inspiration he brings to others.

I also hope that the Tibetans will one day engage  a Western media expert to correct the protesters claims because I feel it is not helpful to speak about topics not addressed by the protesters such as the nature of Shugden and what role China plays in the dispute. The accusations must be addressed directly.

With very best wishes,
Tenzin Peljor
Buddhist monk and a former teacher and member of the protesting group

(November 3rd, 2014)

Tibetan Political Review about the Anti Dalai Lama protests by the Western Shugden group

And yet, just outside the Beacon Theater were a group of people, mostly western monks and nuns backed by a few Tibetans who were shouting “religious freedom, stop lying, false Dalai Lama” etc. Obviously they were part of the Dorjee Shugden group and had gathered there with the explicit intent to malign the Dalai Lama with their false allegations and fabricated lies. Even as a common layman, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pity on these protesters who were ignorant of the true story surrounding the Shugden spirit and who were being used as pawns by the organizers of the New Kadampa Tradition headed by Geshey Kalsang Gyatso.

Well, I thought, the Shugden group could howl and shout for as much as they wanted but this one thing I was absolutely sure. They could never succeed in their attempts because His Holiness the Dalai Lama has the love and support of the entire Tibetan people who have this unique spiritual relationship which is so special and so precious that not even the strongest of force on this earth can break it.

They may call him what they want – “false Dalai Lama”, “liar” etc. (the Chinese called him a “demon”, a “wolf in sheep’s coat” and a “jackal”. And god knows what else they might call him. But the fact of the matter remains that he is still the simple Buddhist monk and, most important of all, he is still the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet who is adored and loved not only by his own people but by tens and thousands of people around the world.

So why is this small group of people so hateful in nature? What is it they want? Their claim that they have no religious freedom is not at all true as they continue to worship the Shugden spirit with full freedom just like they used to and, in fact, with even more zeal and enthusiasm. So where does the question of religious freedom come from? Oh, wait a minute, do they mean the deprivation of their own religious right in their own center where, we are told by former members, they are forced to listen only to Geshey Kalsang Gyatso’s teachings and read books written only by him? We don’t hear something like this anywhere else! The Dalai Lama admits that he himself lost his freedom when he practiced the Shugden spirit many years ago due to ignorance but says “he is now free to listen to and receive valuable teachings from all the teachers of the Sakya, Kagyud, Nyingma and Bon traditions” without any fear or reservations.

Read more …

New TV Documentary on Sects & New Religious Movements in the UK

Looking to speak with people about UK Sects

Optomen TV is currently producing a new documentary series about sects and religious movements within the UK and would like to speak to anyone with experience of such groups. If you or anyone you know was, or perhaps still are, involved with one of these groups we’re keen to hear from you.

There is no obligation to take part in the documentary at this stage, if you have any questions or would like to share your experience to help with our research then please do get in touch.

You can contact us in the strictest of confidence at and any personal details you give will be used in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and only for the purpose of producing this programme.

‘False Flags’ , Memes & Trolls: The Death Of A Website And The Birth Of A Crisis For The NKT


Probably the most prolific of activists in the NKT/ISC jihad[*] against the Dalai Lama et al of recent has been the somewhat inappropriately tagged ‘Indy Hack‘ (for those not in the know, ‘indy hack’ is common parlance for ‘independent journalist’, both epithets here being thoroughly inappropriate). Indy, a clear contender for the position of ISC Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, has been a prolific poster recently and has been the driving force behind several NKT/ISC web projects, most notably the ‘’ site, yet another thinly veiled attempt to characterize Kelsang Gyatso’s personal vendetta against the Dalai Lama as a battle for human rights.

Nevertheless, despite clear devotion to the cause and a seeming obsession with publishing even the most insignificant, supposedly relevant minutiae, suddenly and without warning on November 13, 2015, Indy went to ground, announcing on Twitter that “Due to recent events I will be taking a hiatus whilst I review my position on the #Dalai Lama controversy. No new articles/tweets for now thx”. Simultaneously and again without warning, the “Are Buddhists Racist?” site disappeared into the mists of the internet graveyard.*

One might assume that Indy was simply taking a break after a hard-fought, though relatively fruitless media campaign during the Dalai Lama’s recent US tour. But look again at the “racist” website and it soon becomes apparent why, for a number of reasons, Indy may have very suddenly ‘chosen’ to “review his position”.


Indy’s most recent ‘scoop’ was the supposed revelation that one of the world’s leading academics on the Tibet issue had confirmed unequivocally that there really was a ban on Shugden practitioners in the Tibetan exiled community. As always, this “confirmation” was used to justify the NKT/ISC protest campaign against the Dalai Lama.

However, it turned out that this revelation was in reality a deliberate misinterpretation of Barnett’s words, twisted beyond recognition so as to provide ammunition for the NKT/ISC jihadi[*] hate campaign. Moreover, the sentiments Barnett expressed were part of a private communication in a letter that was clearly marked ‘off the record’, ie not to be reproduced and not for public consumption. Despite Barnett’s requests for them to be removed, the misinterpreted comments remained.

In acting in this cavalier manner, Indy was actually in flagrant violation of Articles 5 and 7 of the National Union Journalist’s ‘Code of Conduct‘, by falsely attributing sentiments and posting comments which could cause significant damage to Barnett’s reputation and standing. Barnett, for many years a journalist himself, would surely have known this and would also have known that, in such cases, normal procedure would be to report the journalist concerned to the NUJ’s Ethics Commission. The Commission would then normally, as a matter of course and at minimum, take disciplinary action against the individual concerned.

Perhaps here then, we have the reason why Indy chose so suddenly and without warning, to retract the website and take a well-earned break from Buddhist jihadi[*] politics.

Or perhaps not.

If this were the real reason for Indy’s hiatus and the death of the website, it would have been sufficient to simply remove the content relating to Barnett and the revelation of his alleged confirmation of a ban. The removal of the whole site then, reveals that something more is afoot than a simple attempt by Indy to avoid disciplinary action from the NUJ. A quick perusal of the content gives us clear evidence for the real reasons behind the mystery.


The other ‘big story’ on Indy’s website was the so-called ‘Lamagate affair’. In Indy’s words, “Lamagate refers to the hacking scandal that surrounds the Dalai Lama’s trip to the US in fall 2014. It centres around the Dalai Lama’s most trusted US friend and confidant, Professor Robert Thurman, who allegedly tried to solicit members of Anonymous to engage in computer hacking on his behalf.”

On 29th October 2014, Professor Thurman was alleged to have published a tweet asking how to get the help of the Anonymous group to “get info out” about certain individuals he supposedly wished to target. In the following hours, Thurman is said to have published a series of tweets identifying specific Twitter accounts to target, identifying each as, “key Anti HHDL Shugden Twitter Spam Accounts”, and followed the account name with the tags #anon and #OpShugden. #OpShugden was devised by another Twitter user (@OpTsampa) who appeared to be working alongside Thurman in his campaign. @OpTsampa also tweeted an offer of 50 BitCoins ($16,967) to anyone who could link the most accounts together that had been identified by Thurman.

Such actions are potentially illegal under US and international law and so, in a deliberate attempt to implicate Thurman in a very embarrassing and very public controversy, Indy produced a handy “how to” guide on the site, entitled “How to indict Robert Thurman”. The guide provided contact details for both the FBI and NYPD, along with the following suggested text for inclusion in a complaint:

It is alleged that Professor Robert A. Thurman (@BobThurman) did knowingly solicit others to commit computer hacking and provided information to direct said computer hacking against several users of Twitter in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1030 (a)(2). On October 29th 2014 it is alleged Professor Robert A. Thurman directed computer hackers associated with the ‘Anonymous’ group to hack Twitter’s computer servers and extract information about the following users: @tompotter1945, @TalkingTibet, @wisdomdakini2, and @Vajralight. I am making a formal complaint about alleged criminal activity by Professor Robert A.Thurman and asking you to investigate whether any criminal activity has taken place.

As a result, according to Indy, multiple reports containing the above statement were submitted, both to the FBI and the NYPD.

One might wonder why, in the face of such a potentially successful campaign tactic, Indy would choose to withdraw the website and assume radio silence. Increasingly, everything points to him being told to do so because someone in the upper echelons at the NKT/ISC knew something that we don’t, or that we didn’t UP UNTIL NOW.

Sadly for Indy (and all his NKT/ISC associates who have forwarded these allegations and incitements via Facebook and Twitter and therefore are all equally culpable and liable in the eyes of the law), it is beginning to look very much like these posts attempting to incite Anonymous and offering funds to engage in illegal acts, allegedly by Thurman and his associates, are actually ‘false flags’.

False flag tactics are operations designed to deceive in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by entities, groups or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them. Two of the most famous examples in cult history are the Nazi’s Reichstag fire and Scientology’s “Operation Freakout”.

In the former, an arson attack was alleged by the Nazis to have been carried out by a Dutch Communist and this was cited as evidence that Communists were plotting against the German government. Hitler, then Chancellor urged the government to pass an emergency decree to counter the “ruthless confrontation of the Communist Party of Germany”. The government subsequently instituted mass arrests of Communists, including all of the Communist parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rivals the Communists gone and their seats empty, the National Socialists easily won subsequent elections and thus allowed Hitler to consolidate his power. Several historians claim the Reichstag arson was actually planned and ordered by the Nazis as a ploy to win those elections.

In “Operation Freakout”, in retaliation for writing The Scandal of Scientology, members of the Church of Scientology stole stationery from the author Paulette Cooper’s home and used that stationery to forge bomb threats and have them mailed to a Scientology office. The Guardian’s Office also had a plan for further operations to discredit Cooper known as Operation Freakout, but several Scientology operatives were arrested in a separate investigation and the plan failed.

Whichever example you choose, you get the picture. False flagging is disingenuously making it appear that an enemy has committed a misdemeanor which they have not, in order to enrage opinion and/or incite action against them. It seems increasingly clear that the Lamagate scandal, along with its seeming attempt to involve Anonymous and allegations of bribery for hacking, are all manifestations of false flagging.

Regardless of who is responsible for the ‘flagging’. the problem for Indy and his bosses is that his original claims created a meme, a meme which spread like wildfire and which led to significant online trolling of Thurman, not to mention defamation of both Thurman and the Dalai Lama himself.

Of course, as an exemplary Buddhist, the Dalai Lama is highly unlikely to instigate defamation proceedings for defamation; had he chosen to do so, the NKT/ISC propaganda war against him would have ended long ago. Perhaps though, Thurman’s worldly whims will lead him to act.

Such action however could prove costly and Indy has been quite security conscious, thus making any investigation less than easy. Indy’s website, for example, was run via a proxy server, based in Malaysia, in what was no doubt a covert attempt to implicate Tsem Tulku and his disciples in the emerging scandal, a further escalation in the ugly war that is developing between these two extreme factions in the ISC camp.

Actually though, Thurman need not worry and can keep his money in the bank for, by inciting the FBI to become involved, the NKT/ISC followers have ensured that an investigation WILL take place into all aspects of the controversy-BOTH SIDES WILL BE.


What this means is that all the significant resources of the FBI will be brought to bear; ISPs, identities, allegiances and all will be forcefully revealed and the characteristic machinations underlying the NKT/ISCs operations laid bare. And if it does turn out that the Lamagate scandal is an elaborate stunt on the part of the NKT/ISC, they will be liable to both criminal proceedings, proceedings which could result in imprisonment, and significant loss of funds, both sanctions applying to Indy, his co-conspirators who have re-tweeted his falsehoods and defamation and even the NKT itself.

So, if you’re wondering whether Indy decided to take a ‘hiatus’ of his own volition, here’s your answer. If you want to know whether he jumped or was he pushed, look no further. He was pushed.


[*] The blog owner questions the context of the use of the words jihad or jihadi. (See the comment section.)

* A PDF copy of the ‘arebuddhistsracist’ site for private or research purposes can be obtained by contacting the blog owner.

Guest posts do not necessarily reflect the point of view of the blog owner. They are added to allow a constructive discussion from different angles. Most guest posts are written anonymously because the authors wished to be anonymous. However, the real name of the author of any guest post and his or her background is known to the blog owner.

Nathan Gyatso: Letter to the western Shugden propitiators

Dear western Shugden propitiators,

You must know that Tibetan Buddhism has been preserved and protected under the great leadership of HH the 14th Dalai Lama in exile. When Tibetans faced the most unprecedented challenge in the history of Tibet, HH the Dalai Lama, though only a teenage boy, shouldered the full responsibility, and exerted all his compassion and wisdom to guide the nation and its people. When everything related to religion including Tibetan Buddhism was destroyed by Red China, it was HH the Dalai Lama who, with his pre-eminent foresight, established the well-found monastic institutions in India. On account of this distinguished vision of HH the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism has spread from the East to the West, where some people have even deemed it as a panacea, though being exaggerated. It has indeed become an opportune rain for many, particularly for those who have suffered mentally due to lack of a secure and compassionate environment. I absolutely understand why so many people have become cynical and full of loathing against the culture and religion they are born in.

It is a pity that instead of cherishing and valuing what HH the 14th Dalai Lama has done for the sake of those who need such Dharma to alleviate their sufferings, some have even attempted to attack and slander him due to being misled. This is truly what we called “Reply to Kindness with Ingratitude”. It seems that some are indulging in confounding black and white and making deliberate prevarications. Having said this, I have to underscore again what HH the Dalai Lama has said about the propitiation of Shugden, “As a spiritual leader, it is my responsibility to tell people what is proper and what is improper; however, the ultimate choice is your own.” Does anyone find there is any mistake within this piece of advice? Moreover, he has never used the word “ban” on Shudgen practice.

Read more …

The International Campaign for Tibet’s statement on the Shugden demonstrators

The ICT issued a statement that is worth to consider.

While Tibetans are truly oppressed and deprived of religious freedom, tortured, arrested, killed by colonialist China in Tibet, while Tibetans self-immolate for their freedom in Tibet, none of the protesters face ANY only slightly similar harm or pain. The protesters – “overwhelmingly white American and European men masquerading as Tibetan monks and victims” – run a slander campaign from their cozy arm chairs. The NKT/ISC protesters waste all of their money and energy to follow the force of their own confusion which is based on through misinformation and subsequent hostility. Their minds create distorted, demonising images of the Dalai Lama and their whole campaign only abuses the terms of Human Rights, Religious Freedom to justify a hate and slander campaign against the Dalai Lama. It’s just that.

logoThe International Campaign for Tibet is dismayed by the demonstrations by some Buddhists in the name of “International Shugden Community” aimed at undermining the work of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

While we leave it to the learned Buddhists to comment on the validity of the issue, our concern is that these Shugden demonstrators are causing great damage to the broader Tibetan issue. The people of Tibet continue to suffer under a ruthless and brutal Chinese regime. On account of this, the Tibetans in Tibet are even sacrificing their lives calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet.

The Chinese Government looks upon the Dalai Lama as the source of their inability to legitimize their rule in Tibet and have been attempting to sever his connection with the Tibetan people. The Shugden demonstrators are thus contributing to the fulfilment of the Chinese Communist Government’s agenda of undermining the authority of the Dalai Lama. In 1959 the Tibetans rose as one against the Chinese Government that was destroying their religion, culture and identity. That situation has not changed today.

The demonstrators are attempting to create seeds of discord and confusion among the public by using terms like religious freedom, human rights, etc. to define their issue. We feel the Shugden controversy is complex and people need a deeper understanding. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s website ( as also that of the Central Tibetan Administration ( and by the Tibet Houses ( covers the historical development of this controversy.

Right now the time is for all those concerned with the survival of Tibetan religion and culture to look at the real cause for the suffering of the Tibetan people. If the Shugden demonstrators are genuinely concerned about religious freedom and human rights of the Tibetan people, they will serve the cause better by working to alleviate the plight of the Tibetans in Tibet, rather than focusing on their parochial interest. By their own admission, they are spending much energy and resources for the sole purpose of slandering His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

See more at:

Shugden and the New Kadampa Tradition: Fear of Ghosts

GUEST POST by Carol McQuire

Fear of ghosts

I’ve been thinking lately that the problem with ‘Shugden’ is that he makes people frightened. And people are frightened of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). In the UK people are frightened of ‘talking up’ about their experiences. People fear the ‘injustice’ and ‘lies’ of the NKT. But that’s the myth and that’s our main function – by ‘talking’ we can stop the fear. There is no need to fear the truth. And what is the truth? The truth is that the NKT ‘harass’ for their ‘Shugden’ with exaggeration and hype, with the deceptive techniques of a bad politician. And they are unkind. Institutionally unkind. We have the data.

And the reality? ‘Shugden’ will destroy the NKT! Catch 22 – they need him, they depend on him, but their need will destroy them.

I’ll explain.

In 2012 in Manchester, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was joking about the Chinese practising Shugden: it’s ‘their problem’, he said, as he’s ‘warned them’. And he laughed and laughed. We need to laugh and laugh. The NKT have been warned too!

The NKT wears the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ of being ‘pure Dharma’ – it’s a hoax. A mirage. Their ‘Shugden’ has stopped them looking beyond their own noses …

In a superb twist, ‘Shugden’ will destroy the NKT because the NKT aren’t giving ‘pure Dharma’ at all – it’s all contaminated with the ‘business model’, the franchise, the ‘worldly success’ that Shugden is well known for in the Tibetan world. What is the ‘heart’ of Tibetan Buddhism and the ‘lineage’? It’s the warmth and wisdom of the teacher. But there is no teacher at the heart of the NKT. He left them years ago. This is why they scream so loudly, so that he might hear. The taboo. He can’t and won’t hear them. But His Holiness does. How ironic!

Their ‘Shugden’ will destroy them, all by himself, using precisely what attracted them to him – ‘worldly’ desires – the ‘quick’ path to ‘bliss’ – the grand and ‘special’ tradition that expands and expands, limitlessly. The more the Shugdens demon-strate (joyfully!), the more they ‘grasp’ at him. The more they ‘grasp’, the more their own ‘Shugden’ will eat them up. It’s the opposite to a ‘true path’. You can see them getting more and more extreme, and weakening – watch the last few ISC videos. All tangled up by Shugden. Lost logic.

We need to understand and remember this. The NKT Shugden followers who ‘protect’ him will be ruined by him.

I quote from Tenzin’s blog:

In Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors,

‘About the violence Shugden brings to other sentient beings Trijang Rinpoche states’ (p. 121–122):

“Furthermore, whether they were lords of Tibet, great lamas who held the political power of the throne, lamas and tulkus, great or small, with illustrious lines of incarnation, holy beings rich in scriptural and realized qualities, high lords of vast lands and works, those haughty with pride of family lineage, dominion and wealth, any who hypocritically claimed to be followers of Protector Manjusri Tsongkhapa’s Teachings while remaining unsatisfied with Je Lama’s precious Teachings of Sutra and Tantra which, in terms of view, meditation, and action, need not crave more from any other tradition, and, instead, mixed, polluted, or confused them with other modes of view and practice, whether lay or ordained, regardless of status, there have been many who have met with unpleasant wrathful punishments, such as being punished by authorities, litigation and legal disputes, untimely death, and so forth. Such swift, decisive signs appear to direct perception. Here praise is offered to that manifestation as a great wrathful protector who raises the Yellow Hat Teachings to the heights of the heavens.”

Tenzin states: “This mundane harmful spirit is, according to Trijang Rinpoche, an emanation of Manjushri who emanated for the special purpose (p. 9) of protecting the purity of Tsongkhapa’s tradition” …

Let’s ‘translate’ this writing by Trijang Rinpoche, making it relevant to the current situation:

Furthermore, whether they were lords of the international world, great lamas who influenced the political power of governments, lamas and tulkus, great or small, with illustrious lines of incarnation, holy beings rich in scriptural and realized qualities, high lords of vast lands and works, those haughty with pride of family lineage, property and wealth, any who hypocritically claimed to be followers of Protector Manjusri Tsongkhapa’s Teachings while remaining unsatisfied with Je Lama’s precious Teachings of Sutra and Tantra which, in terms of view, meditation, and action, need not crave more from any other tradition, and, instead, edited, ignored or confused them with other modes of view and practice, such as business and real estate,  whether lay or ordained, regardless of status, there have been many who have met with unpleasant wrathful punishments, such as being punished by authorities, litigation and legal disputes, untimely death, and so forth. Such swift, decisive signs appear to direct perception. Here praise is offered to that manifestation as a great wrathful protector who raises the Yellow Hat Teachings to the heights of the heavens.

That’s what Trijang got wrong – ultimately it’s not the ‘others’ that get harmed – it’s the narrow minded Shugden fanatics that get destroyed by him. They ‘lose’ what they most crave – their teacher. Shugden blindness ignores Je Tsongkhapa’s non sectarian legacy, his intellectual breadth and ignores his kindness. NKT ‘Shugden’ practitioners aren’t actually allowed access to Je Tsongkhapa’s works – if they encountered the real magic of Je Tsongkhapa’s writings the NKT ‘illusion’ would start to unravel.

We need to ‘see’ this clearly – the NKT have done nothing except create problems for themselves; hundreds of ‘survivors’, hundreds of people who have suffered and suffer, while His Holiness the Dalai Lama is stronger than ever, solid in his practice and his wisdom, confident in his compassion. The weight of karma will fall upon the NKT in the guise of the ‘Shugden’ they follow; empty of compassion, a false prophet for the age of commerce, doomed to fail. It’s just a case of when – remember, he’s only a ghost. An annoying, noisy ghost!

Remember to laugh, they have been warned!

Carol McQuire, New Kadampa Survivors


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