Of course, as I expected, the NKT tried hard to defame me online and usually I do not bother to correct them. I will continue to follow this approach.
However, I write this post because I feel this time that I have to correct a tiny piece of misinformation with respect to my person because in this case an established institution and one of the research officers working there is (ab?)used to misrepresent my intentions, some of my work, websites and blog. It appears from glancing through a recent article by the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) / International Shugden Society (ISC) activists and reading the title of the DI post that IndyHack / NKT / ISC want to portray me as an agent of the CTA / Tibetan government body in exile. This is wrong. I act on my own. I think and decide for myself according to how I see things and feel them to be correct.
It is the mental set up of ill-informed conspiracy theorists and the own experience of one final lasting, all controlling, all powerful and unquestionable authority in NKT one has to follow with “unwavering faith” – Kelsang Gyatso – that projects these ideas onto me and the CTA and the Dalai Lama. Here the piece from the heap of misinformation available that I became aware of, rather accidentally, and which I wish to correct:
My first concern with Inform was their relationship with Tenzin Peljor and to what degree they were aware that he was working for the CTA. In addressing this aspect Suzanne Newcombe said, “We are aware that he works towards the [sic] promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues.”, adding, “it is clear from his many public websites that Tenzin Peljor works actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA.”
From the very outset (from 2006 onwards) I started to give information critical of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) that was usually not, or only hardly available. Accounts of critics were actively and successfully repressed by the NKT. Initially I made this in order to warn people about the demerits of an organisation which I consider to be a very destructive cult and which – in the long run – harmed me and many of my friends in many ways (though in the beginning we had a lot of benefits too).
Later my motivation changed into that I wanted to enable people – especially Western newcomers to Buddhism – to understand the harming and manipulative aspects of the organisation in order to empower them to make an informed decision before they follow or commit to NKT since NKT won’t tell them the unpleasant things and will deceive or manipulate them skilfully from the very start, unintentionally or intentionally exploiting the naivety and faith of Buddhist newcomers.
I started this blog under the name of www.westernshugdensociety.wordpress.com with the aim to correct the misinformation of the NKT spread via a highly professional, media savvy worldwide campaign (via three different front groups) with respect to Shugden because misinformation increases confusion in others and correct information were hardly available in 2008 when NKT editors even manipulated the Wikipedia articles so that they conformed with their press campaign.
Correct information empowers people to understand. I always saw and still see my work as a spiritual task: give reliable information so that based on facts and a broad range of accurate, differentiated information people can make up their own mind, and in the best case, the mind poisons – like confusion, hate and attachment – can dissolve. Understanding (wisdom) is the way to (mental) freedom. My blog and websites were just set up to balance the NKT propaganda without the slightest aim of “promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues.” or to work “actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA.”
The same is true for my other websites, including my personal one which I started only to get some control over the misinformation NKT spread about me in the internet in different languages and on different blogs, websites, forums and comment sections.
Other articles and posts on my websites and blogs aim to dispel confusion about topics many Westerners misunderstand and that are related to Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lamas and Tibet. But again, the target is to dispel misunderstandings and the way to do this is to provide as much as possible accurate and reliable, differentiated information and knowledge (mostly but not exclusively from academic experts), correct and differentiated information, which was in the past very difficult to find online.
Moreover, my websites and blog include articles, interviews and comments that are not at all promoting the Dalai Lama or the CTA but actively criticise some of their actions, e.g. the dealing with of the Middle Way Approach is criticised in the Elliot Sperling article, or the CTA list of Tibetan Anti-Dalai Lama protesters or the Dalai Lama’s silence with respect to Sogyal Rinpoche are criticised on this blog.
Congruency of opinion is no valid evidence that a person promotes and actively supports a person who has a similar position. In my case it is rather coincidental that after a long process of investigation and analysis + research my opinion is more in line with that of the CTA and the Dalai Lama. The congruency is then the result of that at the end of a careful analysis both parties found the same facts but this congruency is not a matter of agenda and promotion.
I asked Inform for further clarification as to why they erroneously saw my websites as ‘promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues’ and why they see my websites as working ‘actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA’. In response they issued the following statement:
This is the longer quote from which Indy Hack took those two sentences:
“We are aware of Tenzin Peljor’s multiple websites and affiliations with the Bodhicharya Centre, FPMT, and his ordination by the Dalai Lama. We are aware that he works towards the promoting the Dalai Lama’s position on various issues.
“We were not aware that he was currently working at the Central Tibetan Authority’s main offices in Dharamsala. However, it is clear from his many public websites that Tenzin Peljor works actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA.”
Although Indy Hack has not fully misquoted, Indy Hack has carefully selected from a larger piece of text which makes the final ‘quote’ misrepresentative to some extent. Use of the phrases ‘promoting’ and ‘actively supporting’ does not necessarily imply any kind of formal affiliation; these phrases are also not a comment about Peljor’s ‘intention’ or purpose in providing these websites.
These two statements were made in a larger response to specific questions raised in an email exchange questioning to what extent Inform was aware of potential bias of people presenting Inform with Information.
Tenzin Peljor’s public biography on http://tenzinpeljor.de/ openly states ordination by the Dalai Lama as well as affiliations with the Bodhicharya Centre and the FPMT (via study at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Italy); these traditions are broadly supportive of the Dalai Lama’s teachings as a Buddhist spiritual leader. However, working within these traditions does not necessarily mean that an individual is uncritical of them. People’s beliefs are more nuanced and varied than those presented by institutions. Specifically, Tenzin Peljor is not promoting any of these institutions’ views on his independently-run websites of buddhism-controversy-blog.com or http://info-buddhism.com/. The opinions voiced on these website are his as an individual. In particular, on http://info-buddhism.com/ Tenzin Peljor promotes a range of independent academic opinions, some of which are critical of the CTA, and Tibetan Buddhism more generally.
The website buddhism-controversy-blog.com is critical of a number of Tibetan traditions, including the NKT. In particular, the discussion of links between the NKT and ISC/WSS is consistent with the CTA’s more public linking of the two organisations with the survivors’ statement on its official website last summer. However, the published Information on buddhism-controversy-blog.com suggesting links between the NKT and the ISC/WSS pre-dates any public statements of the CTA by years.
While Tenzin Peljor’s websites can be read as working ‘actively in ways that support the agenda of the CTA’ this is not proof that he is actively working as an employee of the CTA or with the intention or purpose of explicitly supporting the CTA or Dalai Lama’s agenda. This Information was contextualised in the correspondence from which the quote was taken, but the nature of the original questions was not incorporated into how the short quotes were used in the blog post.
Quote given with permission from Inform.
PS: I am not working for the CTA nor did I set up or run the website http://www.dalailamaprotesters.com. However, I gave them permission to use articles from http://www.info-buddhism.com and after their request I gave them also the domain http://www.shugden.info which I bought for another purpose.