New Kadampa Tradition: Never mix with Tibetan Buddhists, they can cause “great spiritual confusion” and are dangerous for your “purity”

New Kadampa Tradition
International Kadampa Buddhist Union


To all NKT-IKBU Centres
05 August 2010

Dear Administrative Directors,

Because of the potential for great spiritual confusion both now and in the future, we advise and request that NKT Centres, teachers, managers and residents do not get involved with the activities of any Tibetan Buddhist groups, teachers or their students.

If you receive any invitations or requests from a Tibetan Buddhist group, teacher or student, please politely decline them, and forward them to the Education Council Representatives for our information.

These approaches can be for support in some form (for example with donations, fundraising events, visa applications, hosting, transport, publicity, social events); or offers to give teachings, empowerments or informal talks, or to perform pujas, ceremonies, ritual demonstrations and so on.

The main reason for this request is to help NKT practitioners to avoid mixing spiritual traditions, while of course maintaining respect for other traditions. It will also avoid being drawn into the many difficult political problems associated with Tibetan Buddhism, caused by mixing Dharma and politics.

Please inform the teachers, managers and residents at your Centre of this advice and request.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Warm regards,

Steve Cowing, NKT-IKBU Secretary
on behalf of the GSD and Education Council Reps

NKT declaration of sectarian views 2010

See also

And

What is the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)?

GUEST POST by Ex-NKT

The NKT-IKBU (International Kadampa Buddhist Union) is a controversial New Religious Movement – different from mainstream Buddhist groups – created by one Tibetan Buddhist monk called Kelsang Gyatso in 1992. There are no other Tibetans in the group, either as teachers or students, and there is no contact between the NKT and the rest of the Buddhist world. It can be called a ‘separatist’ organisation.

A UK-based research group dedicated to New Religious Movements that is partially government funded – INFORM at the LSE in London – received more enquiries about the New Kadampa Tradition than about any other group, including Scientology, in the last 5 years. Inform mentioned the NKT three times, along with Scientology and other radical groups, in their leaflet ‘Extremism on Campus’.

Due to the NKT’s promotional campaigns and expansion techniques – not used in traditional Tibetan Buddhism where the teacher generally only teaches when asked – the NKT is still expanding its international property portfolio. The NKT-IKBU has roughly 48 centers in the UK, 50 in the US including in Hollywood and the Hamptons, and more than 120 in the rest of the world, with roughly 600 venues temporarily rented for giving classes. ‘World Peace Temples’ are within Meditation Centers. There are 32 World Peace Cafes, one hotel and a children’s Primary School in England. Tharpa publishing company only publishes Kelsang Gyatso’s books, translated into many languages including Chinese.

Kelsang Gyatso’s teachings are described as ‘Modern Buddhism’ which claims to remove the ‘Tibetan’ from Tibetan Buddhism for western people. The NKT ordination, teachings, study program and volunteer work conditions are unlike those in other Tibetan Buddhist groups and are focused on maintaining the ‘purity’ of the NKT and the danger of ‘mixing’ with other traditions or the ‘meaninglessness’ of ‘ordinary’ life.

Dismissing orthodox doctrine, Kelsang Gyatso has made a ‘protector’ practice of ‘Shugden’ the central focus of his own tradition, using it to give an ‘NKT’ identity or ‘allegiance’ that can unify his students all over the world. It is the obligatory daily practice for every NKT centre and teacher. For NKT students, following Kelsang Gyatso’s instructions, their ‘Shugden’ has become an incomparable ‘Wisdom Buddha’ who can solve all their problems, and is completely bonded, psychologically, with Kelsang Gyatso as their unique ‘spiritual guide’.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has advised that his own students should not worship ‘Shugden’ as it increases sectarian conflict and is historically connected to violent disagreements in the Tibetan world, including the murder of his close associate and two other monks, 100 yards from the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala in 1997. Kelsang Gyatso has retired but still appears to actively promote his students engaging in a defamation campaign against His Holiness the Dalai Lama for making this doctrinal decision. NKT followers who disagree with the demonstrations have quickly been removed from their NKT teaching posts by Kelsang Gyatso. Investigations show that accusations of ‘abuse’, creating ‘apartheid’ and ‘lying’, etc that the NKT aim at His Holiness the Dalai Lama have no foundation in fact.

There are many documented cases where the NKT has threatened to sue using libel law to silence other Buddhist organisations, umbrella groups, internet forums and academics, authors and publishers. People inside the group can realistically fear social exclusion, illegal eviction or police arrest if they criticise policies. After initially pleasant experiences, survivors report being pushed by the group into serious commitments they did not wish to make. Followers leaving the group are told they will suffer in the ‘hell realms’ for leaving their ‘Guru’.

The NKT has been called a ‘cult’ by ex members due to the lack of democratic management and the group deliberately prioritising its own purposes over the well being of any individual. It is not known how many ‘NKT survivors’ there are, but an online support group has more than 1,200 members. Survivors have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and trauma. Many report confusion, a sense of betrayal and a deep distrust of others. Survivors experience problems integrating into ordinary society such as financial distress due to lost careers, housing problems and loss of contact with families as a result of their previous commitment to the NKT. Other psychological effects include intense fear, guilt, and disorientation relating to their identity and purpose in the world without the NKT.

Journalists drawn into the ‘Human Rights’ aspect of the NKT campaign may easily find themselves promoting the interests of the NKT.

INFORM

Inform is an independent charity providing information that is as up-to-date and reliable as possible about what many call cults, sects, new religious movements (NRMs), non-conventional religions, alternative religions, spiritual or esoteric movements and/or self-religions based at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Information by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Declaration concerning the demonstrations by New Kadampa Survivors

Different issues the NKT claim as ‘abuses’ by the Dalai Lama are discussed here:

Further information on the NKT can be found here:

Kelsang Gyatso’s Tibetan Relations

GUEST POST by Ex-NKT

Concise information for a broader public

Kelsang Gyatso’s Tibetan Relations

  • Kelsang Gyatso is the Tibetan Buddhist monk who founded his own New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) in 1992. He has lived in the UK since 1977.
  • Members of the NKT pose as the ‘International Shugden Community’ and the ‘Western Shugden Society’ and protest against the Dalai Lama for ‘abuse of the Human Rights’ of the Tibetans, saying that Shugden practitioners are refused employment, basic services, medical access and travel papers by the Tibetan government.
  • The Tibetan Homes Foundation was started in 1962 in Mussoorie, India, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It is a registered charitable institute dedicated to the care of orphaned Tibetan children and destitute Tibetan refugees.
  • Kelsang Gyatso’s sister, Kunchok Chonyi, lived at the Tibetan Homes Foundation Home in Rajpur, as she was ‘old aged and destitute’. She is known to practice Shugden.
  • Ngawang Dolker, known as the niece of ‘Kelsang Gyatso, the well known devotee’ of Shugden, was working as a nurse at the Tibetan Homes Dispensary, from 1985.
  • In September 1996, both women travelled to the USA on Tibetan Government permits through the Tibetan ‘Family Reunification Program’.

On the path to enlightenment, in traditional Tibetan Buddhist thought, it is considered essential to repay the kindness of others.

  • In July 1996 Kelsang Gyatso published 2,000 copies of a polemical text entitled “A Sword That Cuts the Suffering Plaint of Tibetans-in Exile” circulating these amongst the Tibetan exile community, mainly in India. In this text Kelsang Gyatso condemned the Dalai Lama for spending his whole life collecting the wealth of simple Tibetan people, giving them no material help and doing nothing that is really helpful for Tibet.
  • Kelsang Gyatso also criticised the Dalai Lama for deceiving the Tibetan people, suppressing their democratic rights and freedom, and using his initiations, particularly the Kalachakra (for World Peace) to ‘control the public’ and ‘destroy his opponents’.
  • Kelsang Gyatso and his NKT followers completely ignore the suffering of the Tibetan people. Kelsang Gyatso only supports his own charities that specialise in buying real estate to create NKT World Peace Temples and Kadampa Meditation Centres in every city in the world. NKT students have been told that supporting any ‘Tibetan’ or other charity is a waste of money that should go towards the NKT.
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama regularly devotes his resources towards promoting Tibetan Buddhist culture and secular ethics, donates large amounts of money to scientific, medical, humanitarian and ecological causes and charities, and acts as Patron to many other charities worldwide. The Dalai Lama Trust, his own registered charity, provides grant-based support to various organizations and individuals working for the promotion and preservation of Tibetan Culture. He tries to meet every refugee who escapes from Tibet.

Documents

See also

Revised Declaration from New Kadampa Survivors concerning the demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The following is a revised and abbreviated version of the Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness.

line-gothicWe, the undersigned, as former members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), and ex-practitioners of Dolgyal Shugden, are appalled and saddened that those who were once our NKT sangha demonstrate against and defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The NKT, led by their teacher Kelsang Gyatso, operates as the ‘Western Shugden Society’ (WSS) and more recently as the ‘International Shugden Community’ (ISC). These groups attack His Holiness with unwarranted allegations and distortions of what we know to be the truth. We now believe it is time to speak out!

1) The NKT call His Holiness the Dalai Lama a ‘liar’. His Holiness holds a different view from Kelsang Gyatso concerning the nature and history of Dolgyal Shugden and the effects of this practice upon the well-being of His Holiness, the Tibetan people and their cause. A difference of opinion is not lying.

2) The NKT claim that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has broken samaya with all his teachers by rejecting the practice of Dolgyal Shugden. This practice was viewed as problematic by His Holiness’ Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche. After extensive historical investigation His Holiness saw that Dolgyal Shugden worship was often associated with sectarian views and ‘distorted aspiration’. He explained to his Junior Tutor Trijang Rinpoche why it was his duty to avoid this practice and advise others to do so. Masters of other traditions have also dismissed this practice after investigation. According to Buddhist scriptures and past masters, these are correct and appropriate actions.

3) Kelsang Gyatso claims that by rejecting Dolgyal Shugden, His Holiness is rejecting all the lineage teachings of the Gelug tradition of Je Tsongkhapa. Shugden was not taught by Je Tsongkhapa and His Holiness still holds his lineage gurus and all Gelug teachings in the highest esteem. Kelsang Gyatso, however, is never seen in public with teachers connected to the lineage he claims to represent. He is alone, with no influence from either peers or superiors. He created his NKT in 1992 after a schism with another Tibetan Buddhist group whose property he kept as his own. In 1996 he was unanimously expelled from Sera Je Tibetan Buddhist monastery for being a ‘holder of broken commitments and wrong view’. Kelsang Gyatso has made his own tradition of ‘Modern Buddhism’ and his own ordination system without the traditional monastic code of conduct. He has isolated his students from the wider Buddhist world.

4) The allegation that the Dalai Lama is repressing Freedom of Religion is more relevant to the way the NKT operates. NKT centres are dedicated to the exclusive devotion of Kelsang Gyatso and Dolgyal Shugden. No other Tibetan teachers are allowed. NKT centres only sell Kelsang Gyatso’s books. Students only study Kelsang Gyatso’s books with teachers trained in the NKT and appointed by Kelsang Gyatso. Teachers at all critical of the NKT are removed from their posts. Ordained NKT people and others are told they may never get enlightened if they leave the NKT.

5) The Tibetan people number little more than 6 million. An unknown number of Tibetans, often quoted as being more than one million, have been slaughtered due to the Chinese occupation and colonisation. Claims made by the ISC such as ‘4 million Dorje Shugden practitioners are suffering’ from His Holiness’ abuse of their Human Rights are obviously untrue.

No established Human Rights group or court has ever confirmed any of the NKT, WSS or ISC’s claims of intentional Human Rights abuses by His Holiness the Dalai Lama or the Central Tibetan Administration. In 2010 the Indian High Court rejected a law suit by Dolgyal Shugden followers because of ‘vague averments’ and ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’.

6) There are many documented cases where the NKT has threatened to sue using libel law to silence other Buddhist organisations, umbrella groups, internet discussion forums and academics, authors and publishers. People inside the group can realistically fear social exclusion, illegal eviction or police arrest if they criticise policies. In our experience, the NKT generally prioritises the expansion of the group over the welfare of individuals. The NKT Survivors internet group numbers over 1,200 subscribers. There is no Dalai Lama Survivor’s group.

7) In 2008 Kelsang Gyatso stated that he was personally organising the NKT’s participation in the protests led by the Western Shugden Society (WSS). All the Directors of the WSS were and are members of the New Kadampa Tradition. However, the NKT has denied that they have any connection to the WSS. The latest NKT front group, the International Shugden Community (ISC) actively recruits protestors and fundraises for demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama inside NKT centres.

8) Misleading and deceitful media techniques are used in NKT campaigns. In his YouTube “News Broadcasts” for the ISC, senior NKT monk Kelsang Rabten hides his bias and status as a monk by not wearing his robes. An ISC video uses footage of young Burmese monks to fraudulently misrepresent the situation in India regarding the supposed ‘ostracism’ of Dolgyal Shugden followers. The mainstream press has published NKT accounts without confirming their accuracy.

9) Both in 1996-7 and in 2008 the NKT organised demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama that coincided with the public exposure on the internet of the alleged sexual misconduct of the Deputy Spiritual Directors of the NKT. His Holiness has not changed his view or his actions since 1996. Therefore we question what has caused NKT followers to start their demonstrations and defamations again in 2014.

We offer our support to the Tibetan people in their struggle to preserve their lives and their culture. We question the intentions of those who use their culture but do not support this struggle, not even acknowledging the kindness given in training their own teacher.

We feel that Kelsang Gyatso and his students have no basis in fact for making any attempts to discredit and disparage His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We request them to stop misleading and disturbing others with this false campaign.

26th September 2014

Carol McQuire
Jamie Kostek
Lynne Cracknell
Ani Tsultrim
Graham Smetham
Linda Ciardiello
Ian Thomas
David Cutshaw
Robert Helms
Steve Maxwell
Michael Brown
Charles Wesley
Andrew Durling
Andrew Cheadle
Kevan Webb
Tenzin Peljor
James Tregaskis
Tim Ford
Karma Yonten
Amanda Zinski
Stuart Everard
Andrea Ballance
Yeshe Tsomo
Richard Litchfield
Anne Maxwell
Andrea Clarkson
David Silver
Steve Cody
Peter Dornan
Ben Grimwood
Adrian Benson
Charles Miller
Chris Cliff
Michele White

Supporters

Lyn G Farrell
Charlie Worthington
Tony Allen
Ganesha von Hendricks
Ashoka von Hendricks
Dan Ballance
Joanne Clark
Carol Brearley
Jon Underwood
Erika Adler

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Background

See also

Kelsang Rabten Calls for Dialogue at the SOAS Conference: Is Dialogue Possible?

GUEST POST by Joanne Clark

At the SOAS conference, Rabten began his talk by stating:

Gen Kelsang Rabten at SOAS.

Gen Kelsang Rabten at SOAS.

 

“I’d like to make quite clear that we’re not here to argue. We very much want to move towards a resolution to this issue.

“We have tried to have dialogue on this with the Dalai Lama and his representatives for nearly twenty years … So even though they’re not here, maybe this is a step in that direction, who knows?”

Indeed, his stance was calm and reasonable. However, beside him on the table was a book entitled The False Dalai Lama: The Worst Dictator in the Modern World. How could the Dalai Lama ever have dialogue with people who write such things? In my mind, much of this dispute rests on the fact that many within the organized (rather fanatic) Shugden community have now demoted His Holiness from any position of religious or spiritual authority at all.

Given that the Dalai Lama’s stance regarding Shugden worship is based on him fulfilling his responsibility and duty as a religious leader, dialogue seems pointless. He made his points about Shugden, but insists that people should not follow him without investigating this issue and its 400 years of history thoroughly. He also states that its up to the individual to accept or to reject his advice. Shugden people can practice Shugden, Rabten can practice it. They have their own monasteries, their own places, but there are restrictions on the institutional level. So their rights to practice are met. However they cannot practice at places where the majority of the community decided against it– by a procedure laid down in the Vinaya (monastic code of discipline) by the  Buddha. This is comparable to prohibiting smoking in public places because it harms the non smoker. So, the real point of difference is not about the rights of Shugden worshippers, but about the Dalai Lama’s right advice and the right of people to follow his advice and to decide against smoking (Shugden worship) at public places —and that’s a different topic entirely!

Further, if Shugden worshippers see hidden agendas behind everything the Dalai Lama’s says and won’t take his words on face value, what is the point of speaking with him? They will come to their own conclusions regardless of what he says! Further, to call the person whom you claim to seek dialogue with a liar, evil and cruel, ruthless dictator, worst dictator of the modern world—is this a basis for a dialogue? Are Kelsang Rabten and NKT, or the organised Shugden fanatics, really willing to listen to anyone’s point of view but their own in dialogue?

In addition, how can there be dialogue while there is still so much deceit? I have found evidence of fifteen incidents of deception just in a few videos on the International Shugden Community (ISC) website—fifteen and I’m still counting. (see here) Some of these are unsubstantiated claims and some can only be called outright lies. This was the problem Tibetans encountered with the Chinese, where finally dialogue was proven to be fruitless.

In my view, the only dialogue that would be worth having in this situation would be regarding living conditions of Shugden worshippers in India. These would include the claims that Shugden worshippers aren’t given basic services, community membership or proper housing and are subjected to violence. The Indian legal system and the Tibetan Government in Exile could be part of these dialogues—and the Dalai Lama’s presence wouldn’t be needed at all. However, in view of the impossible demands Rabten makes at the end of his SOAS talk, such a constructive approach is clearly not what he is advocating.

Sometimes it even seems as if the ISC is more interested in harming the Dalai Lama than in helping Shugden worshippers in India.

Kelsang Rabten at Anti Dalai Lama protests

Kelsang Rabten at Anti Dalai Lama protests

As to Rabten’s claim that concerned Shugden worshippers have been trying to have this dialogue for nearly twenty years, it is clear that the slanderous ideas in the past and in the book beside him on the table are not new. Claims that the Dalai Lama is a horrible “dictator” and a conniving conspirator have been slung at him for nearly twenty years now from Shugden worshippers. The following quote from Rabten’s own teacher, Kelsang Gyatso, was written in 1997:

In reality [the Dalai Lama] is misleading people in order to
 fulfill his wishes. His main wish is to destroy the practice of Dorje Shugden 
and then to change the entire Gelug tradition. He wants to integrate all the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism into one so that the leaders of the other 
traditions will no longer have a role and he will become the only leader of
 Tibetan Buddhism. In this way he can easily control the spiritual life of 
all practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. I know this is his wish; he has been 
working towards this for many years.

Once again, how can there be dialogue if this is Kelsang Gyatso’s impression of who the Dalai Lama is? And how can there be dialogue if protesters are willing to go so far in their smear campaign as to hold insulting placards, depicting a revered teacher of Dharma, a fully ordained monk in robes in mocking caricature?

How can there be dialogue until the weapons are withdrawn?

Rabten then closes his talk at the SOAS conference by listing Shugden worshippers’ “requests” (which sound very much like demands). He states,

So to resolve this issue, we would request that everyone, especially those of you who care about the Dalai Lama’s image and reputation, to ask the Dalai Lama to accept the following four points:

  1. To allow anyone who wishes to practice Dorje Shugden the freedom to do so.
  2. To stop completely the discrimination against Shugden practitioners.
  3. To allow all Shugden monks and nuns who have been expelled to return to their monasteries and nunneries. And to receive the same spiritual and material rights as non-shugden practitioners.
  4. To write to Tibetan communities throughout the world telling them that they should apply practically the above three points.

The moment this happens, all our demonstrations will finish. I don’t think any of those requests are unreasonable. We simply want these people to have genuine and complete religious freedom. If that happens, all of our protesting will finish.

This is not a statement for dialogue; it is an ultimatum. Rabten repeats several times that if the demands are met, “protests will finish.” Rabten needs to understand first that the Dalai Lama cannot over rule the majority vote of the monks in the monasteries, who decided democratically, and based on the Buddha’s Vinaya, to separate from Shugden monks. If the Dalai Lama were to force the monasteries to go against their majority vote this would be an act of a dictator. On the other hand, His Holiness was clear: whatever the outcome of the vote is, also if it is pro Shudgen, he would definitely accept it. Now the NKT/ICS/Shugdenists should accept the rights of the majority and practice at their own places—which they can do freely.

Rabten also demonstrates his complete lack of understanding as to what followers of the Dalai Lama “care about.” This is not about “the Dalai Lama’s image and reputation.” Rabten’s is a jaded viewpoint regarding sincere students and followers of the Dalai Lama—who see his message as a world treasure.

Let me say to Rabten clearly: The Dalai Lama can take care of himself. His image and reputation are only important as tools towards fulfilling his life’s work. Beyond that, they have no role or importance.

And I would also remind Rabten that everywhere the Dalai Lama goes, people gather in the thousands and continue to be inspired to become more caring, decent human beings. Many people are so deeply moved by his words and presence that they start to weep – no matter what background, be they criminal, atheist, Christian or Muslim, scientist or old lady.  A few small bands of protesters have barely scratched the surface of his popularity or his work to make the world a better place. Recently, when he was in Ladakh, 140,00- 200,000 attendees came to hear him teach and give an empowerment. The countryside was a sea of attendees.

Rabten’s last words sounded to me like a threat from a man who imagines he has more power than he possesses. He imagines that the protests and the smears will force the Dalai Lama to change his mind. At the same time, he calls for dialogue! I fear he has little understanding of the situation. He fails to understand that the Dalai Lama spent years of investigation, reflection and contemplation regarding the issue of Shugden worship before he came to the difficult decision to restrict this practice. He is not going to change that because of a few people shouting themselves hoarse outside his events! He has said on different occasions that he has done his research expressed the results and now it is up to others to do their own unbiased, open research into the 400 years of Shugden worship.

From my own point of view, watching the aggressive faces or the dancing, hypnotic hilarity, or the robotic repetitions of protesters—or listening to accounts from X-NKT students—I have only gained a greater conviction that the Dalai Lama’s decision was the right and wise one. By its results, particularly within the NKT, Shugden worship appears like a dangerous, cult practice to me. The Dalai Lama is clearly protecting the Buddha Dharma by restricting it. How can there be dialogue while Shugden worshippers behave in these ways?

UPDATE

This morning, (August 25), during the question-and-answer at HH Dalai Lama’s teaching on the Bodhicharyavatara in Hamburg, a questioner asked something to this effect:

“If Trijang Rinpoche saw Dorje Shugden as an enlightened being, then why have you gone against your guru’s advice and banned the practice?”

His Holiness replied, “Good question.” and proceeded to answer.

However, the questioner immediately interrupted him and shouted loudly, “Stop lying!”

His Holiness then attempted to explain that as a Buddhist monk, he was committed to telling the truth.

Whereupon the questioner continued to shout loudly, “Stop lying, stop lying, stop lying.” He had a microphone, so it was quite loud!

This man was ultimately asked to leave by security and we could hear him shouting his slogan off in the distance as he was escorted out of the venue.

Is this what Rabten and the ISC/NKT mean by dialogue?

Update 31 Oct 2014

A dialogue had been arranged in London, at Tibet House, in 1996 between representatives of the Tibetan Government in Exile and Jim Belither and Lucy James of the NKT, amongst others. However, whilst these NKT members were on the train from Yorkshire to the meeting, a person on the train suffered a heart attack and the train was delayed. This was interpreted by the NKT members as an inauspicious sign and because of this as well as the fact that the time of the meeting coincided with a demonstration arranged at Eccleston Square, (the Buddhist Society I assume), they did not attend the meeting. The meeting was interpreted as a trap to disturb the arranged demonstration and no other meeting was arranged.

See also

See also by Joanne Clark

Declaration by New Kadampa Survivors concerning the Demonstrations against His Holiness

We, the undersigned, as former members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), and ex-practitioners of Dorje Shugden, are appalled and saddened that those who were once our NKT sangha demonstrate against and defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Inaccuracies and distortions of what we know to be the truth have been published as fact. The New Kadampa Tradition currently operates as the ‘International Shugden Community’ (ISC). Many allegations and insults are made against His Holiness which are completely unwarranted.

At demonstrations and on numerous web sites and Facebook pages, the NKT/ISC viciously attacks the reputation of His Holiness. We have tried to address inaccuracies with the group, but without success. We believe it is time to speak out with one voice. Here we highlight a few of the issues created by the New Kadampa Tradition, their leader Kelsang Gyatso, and his followers:

1) The NKT/WSS/ISC say that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a ‘liar’. A difference of opinion does not equate to lying. His Holiness holds a different opinion from Kelsang Gyatso and the NKT about the nature and history of Dolgyal Shugden and the effects of this practice upon the well-being of His Holiness, the Tibetan people and their cause. To call His Holiness a ‘liar’ because of this difference of opinion makes no sense.

2) The NKT/WSS/ISC claim that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has gone against all his teachers, broken his samaya and destroyed the lineage of Je Tsongkhapa by rejecting the practice of Dolgyal Shugden. His Holiness states that after conducting extensive research into the history and problems of Shugden practice, he consulted with his Junior Tutor Trijang Rinpoche and explained the reasons why it was his duty to reject this practice. The historical record shows that Shugden practice is often contentiously associated with sectarian views and ‘distorted aspiration’ and was viewed as problematic by His Holiness’ Senior Tutor, Ling Rinpoche. In fact, in this action His Holiness was actually following a course which, according to Buddhist scriptures and past masters, as Kelsang Gyatso himself states, is absolutely correct and appropriate.

In his book Clear Light of Bliss Kelsang Gyatso states: “When deciding which doctrine to rely upon, we should not be satisfied with the fame or reputation of a particular teacher, but instead should examine what he or she teaches. If, upon investigation, we find the teachings reasonable and faultless, we should accept them, but if they lack these qualities we should reject them, no matter how famous or charismatic their expounder might be.”

Kelsang Gyatso therefore contradicts his own advice when he asserts that His Holiness has broken his samaya with Trijang Rinpoche.

3) Kelsang Gyatso also claims that by rejecting one particular protector practice, this means that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is rejecting all Gelug teachings, the lineage of Je Tsongkhapa. His Holiness has not rejected all Gelug teachings and still holds his lineage gurus in the highest esteem. Kelsang Gyatso, however, is never seen in public with any teachers connected to the lineage he claims to represent. He is alone, without the influence of either peers or superiors. He created the NKT in 1992 after a schism with another Tibetan Buddhist group which invited him to the UK to teach in 1977 and whose property he then kept as the ‘mother centre’ of the NKT. In 1996 he was unanimously expelled from Sera Je Tibetan Buddhist monastery, where he trained, for being a ‘holder of broken commitments and wrong view’. As he is the only Tibetan teacher in his own tradition of ‘Modern Buddhism’, with his own ‘new’ ordination and no study of the traditional Vinaya teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, he also effectively isolates his own students from the wider Buddhist world.

4) In 1998 Kelsang Gyatso stated that the NKT would no longer be involved in any further demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He admitted that the Shugden issue was, in reality, an issue of Tibetan politics and promised that the NKT would not take part in any further inappropriate actions. Since then Kelsang Gyatso and the NKT have organised two further rounds of protests, one beginning in 2008, and the latest round currently being staged.

5) In 2008 Kelsang Gyatso wrote to all his dharma centres stating that he was personally organising the NKT’s participation in the protests. He also said the protests were being organised by a group called the Western Shugden Society (WSS). A simple check reveals that all the Directors of WSS were and are members of the New Kadampa Tradition. Yet the NKT often denies that they have any connection to the WSS. Kelsang Pema, Gyatso’s former assistant, informed journalists that the WSS had no leader.

6) Even if the NKT say that it is only an ‘individual decision’ for a student to support the protests, we know that at present the ISC directly and actively recruits protestors and fundraises for demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama inside NKT centres.

7) The 2014 NKT campaign is delivered by its latest front group, the International Shugden Community. Currently, the ISC has two registered groups. In Norway ISC records show the Executive Director and Chairman to be NKT teachers. The ISC US based non-profit company in California shares an address with a large health food company of which Len Foley, an ex NKT teacher, is CEO. His wife, Rebecca Gauthier, an NKT Resident Teacher, is also spokesperson for the ISC in the US.

The ISC front-man is a senior NKT monk named Kelsang Rabten. In his YouTube “News Broadcasts” Kelsang Rabten does not wear his monk’s robes and appears to be a professional journalist. He hides his status and biased position. One ISC video uses footage of young Burmese monks conducting traditional alms-rounds to fraudulently misrepresent the situation in India regarding the supposed ‘ostracism’ of Shugden followers. Techniques such as these are deceitful, designed only to exaggerate their claims against His Holiness.

8) The allegation that the Dalai Lama is engaging in repression of Freedom of Religion is, in fact, more relevant to the way the NKT itself operates. NKT Centres are dedicated to the exclusive devotion of Kelsang Gyatso. NKT centres and teachers are only permitted to teach from books written by Kelsang Gyatso. Teachers other than those trained by the NKT and appointed by Kelsang Gyatso are not allowed. Ordained NKT people and others are told they will be reborn in the hell realms and may not get enlightened if they leave the NKT.

9) With the backdrop of continued Human Rights abuses against the Tibetan people, who number little more than 6 million in total, and the mass slaughter of an unknown number of Tibetans due to the Chinese occupation and colonisation often quoted as being more than one million, claims made by the ISC such as that ‘4 million Dorje Shugden practitioners are suffering’ are obviously lies.

No established Human Rights group or court has ever confirmed any of the NKT/WSS or ISC’s claims of intentional Human Rights abuses by His Holiness the Dalai Lama or the Central Tibetan Administration. In 2010 the Indian High Court rejected a law suit by Shugden followers because of ‘vague averments’ and ‘absence of any specific instances of any such attacks’.

We offer our support to the Tibetan people in their struggle to preserve their lives and their culture and question the intentions of those who use this culture but appear not to support this struggle.

Both in 1996-7 and in 2008 the demonstrations against His Holiness the Dalai Lama coincided with the public exposure on the internet of the alleged sexual misconduct of the Deputy Spiritual Directors of the NKT.

10) There are many documented cases where the NKT threatened to sue using libel law and thus silenced other Buddhist organisations, umbrella groups, internet discussion forums and academics, authors and publishers. People inside the group can realistically fear social exclusion, illegal eviction or police arrest if they criticise policies. In our experience, the NKT generally prioritises the expansion of the group over the welfare of individuals. The NKT Survivors internet group numbers over 1,200 subscribers. There is no Dalai Lama Survivor’s group.

In view of the consistently unkind behaviour of his own organisation, we feel that Kelsang Gyatso and his students can have no moral right for making such attempts to discredit and defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Those of us who once belonged to the New Kadampa Tradition are resolved to bring these inaccuracies, disinformation, and outright lies to light. Who better to reveal the truth than we who were once inside the organisation?

19th August 2014

Carol McQuire
Jamie Kostek
Lynne Cracknell
Ani Tsultrim
Graham Smetham
Linda Ciardiello
Ian Thomas
David Cutshaw
Robert Helms
Steve Maxwell
Michael Brown
Charles Wesley
Andrew Durling
Andrew Cheadle
Kevan Webb
Tenzin Peljor
James Tregaskis
Tim Ford
Karma Yonten
Amanda Zinski
Stuart Everard
Andrea Ballance
Carol Dawson (Yeshe Tsomo)
Richard Litchfield
Steve Cody

Supporters

Lyn G Farrell
Charlie Worthington
Tony Allen
Cynthia von Hendricks
Ashoka von Hendricks
Dan Ballance
Joanne Clark

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Upadate

Ordained Too Early: An NKT Survivor Tale (Another New Kadampa Tradition Monk’s Story)

GUEST POST by Rob

In the NKT doubts about the NKT leadership are explained to be very dangerous and negative, they are said to be "doubts going into the wrong direction", deriving from an "impure mind", a "pure mind" NKT teachers explain doesn’t see faults. And faith Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – commonly called "Geshe-la" in NKT – is explained by Geshe-la "that functions mainly to oppose the perception of faults in its observed object." Of course such a context helps the NKT student to be "be like a wise blind person who relies totally upon one trusted guide instead of attempting to follow a number of people at once." (all quotes from the books of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.)

In the NKT doubts about the NKT leadership are explained to be very dangerous and negative. Doubts about the NKT and its leadership are said to be “doubts going into the wrong direction”, deriving from an “impure mind”. A “pure mind”, NKT teachers explain, doesn’t perceive faults. And faith is explained by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – commonly called “Geshe-la” in NKT – to have the “function mainly to oppose the perception of faults in its observed object.” Such views encourage an NKT follower to “be like a wise blind person who relies totally upon one trusted guide instead of attempting to follow a number of people at once.” (All quotes from the books of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Image & capture added by Tenpel.)

 

Someone suggested I tell my story, so thought I’d write a bit here about my time in the NKT, in case it’s interesting or helpful to anyone. There’s nothing incredibly scandalous or juicy, but why not.

I got involved in the NKT at a young age: 19. I first discovered Manjushri Centre at a low-point in my life when I really needed an escape. The atmosphere of kindness was very new to me, and I was hooked in almost immediately because of that. I didn’t know a whole lot about the different traditions of Buddhism at the time, so this was also the time I fell in love with Buddhism, without realizing what I had found intertwined with the good stuff.

After I returned home from a working visit, I meditated on my own and felt my heart chakra lit up for the first time in a special way, which I felt was the presence of Buddha at the time. This experience confirmed to me that everything was true and good. (I think this is one of the main ways we get hooked into traditions. We have spiritual experiences, and this leads us to adopt the associated beliefs with less questioning. At least this is my experience. Like a Christian who feels the “holy spirit”, then adopts the bible because of it.)

I then got involved with my local centre in Preston. I starting attending the pujas and GP classes, not really knowing what was going on at the time. A couple months later I was encouraged to move into a centre, and so I moved into the centre in Lancaster. Due to the meditation experiences I was having at the time, I never really questioned anything for a long time. Meditation in general and chanting can have a big effect on the mind, no matter what tradition or religion you’re in. In my mind, everything I was being told was true, because the practice felt really good.

I soon became the resident teacher’s lap-dog, and she joked with another nun that I was like Milarepa, and I felt like him (thankfully without the back-blisters!) Though I had been a lazy person in general, so I was thankful for the kick up the backside. I was scared of spiders, so I had to clean all the spiderwebs from the gompa, and capture the spiders and release them in the basement. The agony! I designed the centre publicity, with her over my shoulder, having me scrap one version after another and redo, over and over again (like Milarepa! but admittedly, a bit easier, heh.)

I was always taught to keep a pure view, so I had become to believe she was a Buddha and I ignored any mistakes or strange behaviour I saw. Looking back I know she was very young herself and inexperienced. Running a dharma centre after 6 years experience. But she was a good woman and person, but very indoctrinated.

I ordained at the age of 21, having only lived in the dharma centre for 1 year. I was entranced with the robes. I guess inside I wanted to be “special” like that, like I was getting into some kind of secret society. I really don’t feel I was mature enough at the time to make that decision.

As a monk, I never really felt 100 percent a monk. The lifestyle didn’t feel “monk-like” enough. I felt in-genuine. If I saw monks from the original Tibetan traditions, I would feel like they were proper monks, and I was a pretender. I shouldn’t have been so hard on myself, and yet, in a way I was right. It was all too easy to get robed up, without having the real motivations behind it.

Over time, due to working closely one-on-one with my RT, I began to develop attraction and feelings for her. So I decided to move to the centre in Preston. Where it was not long before I was enrolled on TTP and teaching a branch GP class.

I always felt a lot of guilt in my practice, that I was never doing enough. Every time I saw Geshe-la speak, he would give us a new practice and tell us to do it every day. And I really tried. I had all the hours of the day mapped out, and my daily practice became intense. Combined with the stress of TTP and teaching my GP class, I became like a time-bomb. I was doing too much and pushing myself too much. But I didn’t feel like there was any other way. I was frightened of entering the lower realms, dieing before my time. And I’d made all sorts of commitments to different practices, and I didn’t want to break them. I felt trapped.

I began to see my practice as this big, complex struggle, that I had to go through every day. It all seems so complicated, when the whole point was supposed to be inner peace. It just didn’t seem right. I began to sit out in the garden at night, and just sit and do nothing at all, and my mind would go quiet and I’d feel at ease.

I discovered a Theravada teacher online, called Ajahn Brahm, and I watched his videos, and his teachings made a whole lot of sense, showing a maturity that I didn’t see in the teachers of the NKT. “Pure view” had stopped my from seeing that. There was always a voice in the back of my mind, when Geshe-la was teaching, that told me he was basically reading from a book. Geshe-la teachings were never that inspiring to me, now that I think back. He sounded like he was just parroting his teacher, just like all the NKT teachers parroted him. Ajahn Brahm, on the other hand, was not a parrot. He spoke from his own experience, person to person. He knew the essence of the teaching, so he didn’t need to recite his own teacher’s words, word for word.

I attended the protests against the Dalai Lama in London, which I sincerely regret now. I don’t feel guilty, as I had no malice at all, but I regret it. I remember at the time, shouting the words with the others. I don’t even remember what the words were now. When I saw the supporters and students of his holiness walking by, after his teachings, I felt a lot of peace and love emanating from them, and I knew there was nothing wrong about them. I even saw the Dalai Lama in his car, and he waved to us all, as if we were dear friends. Some of the monks protesting with me seems pretty angry and aggressive. Some made a point of being peaceful, but there were a lot with aggression. One in particular was my own RT at the time, who is a well-respected monk. I suppose he thought he was being “wrathful”?

The leaflets we were given during the time of the protests were quite shocking, and caused many doubts among practitioners. The issue was that our propaganda brochures appeared to be written by an angry baby. The wording was very immature. We wondered, “had Geshe-la written this himself? And if not, surely he has at least approved the brochure?”

Going back to my life in the centre, my practice began to crumble, and I dropped out of TTP and stopped teaching GP. I began watching DVDs in my room instead, of Dirty Harry and the like, heheh. Luckily, I had a friend in the centre. A “non-Buddhist resident”. He’d spent some time with Theravada monks years ago, and had a “distaste” for the NKT. I’m wondering if the whole reason he moved into the centre was to rescue people from the NKT. He acted like a father figure for me, and was there for me, and backed me up when I was developing my doubts and considering disrobing and leaving the NKT.

I wanted a simpler path. And I began to question all the things I’d been believing blindly. Then there came a time when I decided in my mind that I had disrobed. As soon as my RT found out, he wanted me to leave the centre the very next day, without giving me chance to sort somewhere else out to live. Luckily my friend had some knowledge of the law, and told me they couldn’t do that. So I refused to leave, and carried out another month, mostly staying away from everyone except “the non-buddhists”.

When I finally left, I fell into a bad depression. All my beliefs were stripped away through what seemed like an unstoppable process, and I was left knowing completely nothing, and I was scared. I didn’t know where to turn, what tradition or religion, or what. I didn’t know what to believe anymore, but all the NKT stuff was still ingrained, and for the next year or so, and even now I suppose, I feel like there’s something I should be doing to avoid the hell realms, or something like that. And Sometimes I randomly worry that I’ve made the wrong decision, and I don’t want to accept it if I have, as I “abandoned me spiritual guide”, which equates to a billion aeons in hell or something. It sounds ridiculous, but the beliefs really get ingrained. The mind gets familiar, as the NKT would say.

I really feel lately, as I really feel like a child. I don’t know anything at all. Everything has gotten so complicated, and life seems really challenging. I don’t know who is right or wrong, how I should live my life or what.

I also seem to have developed some level of realization of death. It was one of my main practices as a monk, I did it every day, but never had a feeling for it. But now I think about death every day, in a spontaneous and frightening way. Like the raw, reality of it hits me in the face, like a very sober awakening, but I don’t know what to do with it. With no faith in anything, there’s nowhere to turn with that fear. I feel paralysed in my life, and I’m slowly wrecking everything. I don’t have a job, and I’ve been getting sanctions on my benefits. I’ve even been smoking weed. I just don’t have any ambition any more, or any clue as to what to do with my life, and I just can’t find an answer.

To wrap it up, some positive things I got from my time in the NKT:

I learned a lot about acceptance, and it’s a skill I can still use to deal with any situation, even pain. Though this was due to my own constant practising and contemplation, learning to notice the way the mind resists, and releasing it. I wouldn’t say it was down to anything written in the NKT texts, aside from the initial few sentences that got me thinking about it.

I learned to still my mind with concentration, and my ability to do this in meditation is still in-tact, post-nkt. Though again, I kindof feel like I learned this in-spite of the NKT. The whole practice never seemed that conducive to concentration to me, as there were just too many different objects to concentrate on, that it seemed ridiculous in the end.

Though now that I think about it, I think I had to basically re-learn meditation after the NKT, as for a long time I just couldn’t do it. Later I came to realize that meditation wasn’t taught that well at all in the NKT, after I listened to other meditation teachers, who clearly had a lot more genuine experience, which they spoke from, rather than para-phrasing books. Now I’ve learned to be at ease with myself, and it is a big difference to the constant struggling I experience in the NKT.

Ajahn Brahm had explained about Goal-Orientated paths and Source-Orientated path, and the NKT is a goal-orientated path. There is a lot of striving, at least that is my experience. Which is not very conducive to peace in my opinion.

It is nice to have let go of all that.

Anyway, hope this wasn’t too long and boring. Forgive me if the writing is a bit scattered.
Sincerely,
Rob
(Oct. 4th, 2012)

See also

Kalon Trisur Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche – Talk on the clarification of the current issue of Dolgyal at TCV Suja on 26th July, 2014

Here a summery of the video in English: The reason for the discussion is related to the questions that were put to the officials during the last discussion on Shugden in the Dharamsala TCV school. He mentioned that there were seeds of doubt regarding this issue that he wished to clarify the issues to clarify these doubts.

  • He also mentioned that he was happy that the students of the TCV school raised those doubts rather than hiding them, as this allows for an open discussion and gives people like himself to clarify the situation and provide further information. It is important to have questions in the context of a proper discussion, and without that the opportunity to explain and clarify is not available.
  • Therefore it is excellent that the students asked questions. He liked that the students asked questions and asked them to take advantage in the future of opportunities to ask them rather than remaining silent about doubts. He realized that only 6 students asked the questions in Dharamsala, but understands other students may share their questions and not be so confident to stand up in a crowd and share them. So some of what he shares in the talk will be based on these questions.
  • The allegations from the Shugden side that HH Dalai Lama is harming their religious freedom and their human rights are incorrect. An example of the incorrect allegations is the explanation of HHDL’s advice regarding this matter as a “ban”, this English word “ban” features in their materials. If we were to render this English word into Tibetan it would mean something like “not allowed, not permitted”. The Dalai Lama gave advice regarding this issue, critiqued it , but never said that Shugden practice was “not allowed”. (Tibetan for not allowed: mi chog). Therefore we can clearly state there is not a “ban”.
  • It is on this incorrect basis of HHDL issuing a “ban”, that the Shugden groups are loudly protesting, organizing against HHDL whenever they have the opportunity.
  • But we can clearly state that HHDL has never said Shugden practice is “not allowed”. He has said that it is good if one does not rely (on Shugden). It is clear, if one continues to rely (on Shugden), this becomes a case of disharmony with the advice of the Lama, and for this reason the Dalai Lama asked these people not to attend his religious discourses. It is stated clearly though that whether people listen to the advice or not, is their choice. Since there is extensive written evidence of this, there is no need for further clarification.
  • The policy of HHDL remains the same, for example during the Kalachakra initiation he requested those who rely (upon Shugden) to not come to the initiation, but whether one relies on Shugden or not is in one’s own hands (one’s own choice).
  • Therefore we see HHDL did not say “you are absolutely not allowed to rely on Shugden”. He said that it is “good if you do not rely on it, but whether you listen to this advice or not is up to you.” Therefore we understand that within the Tibetan community HHDL has not and cannot issue a “ban”, this is clear.
  • So we can see this is not an issue of freedom as people were clearly told it was up to them whether they acted according to the Dalai Lama’s advice or not. However, the Shugden side is explaining that due to the advice of the Dalai Lama, the result has been that this harms their religious freedom or their human rights. So some people may have a doubt that even to advise against the practice may have a result of harming the (Shugden side’s) religious freedom. To really understand this situation properly, one needs to do one’s own research.
  • If we examine the way of working of these (Shugden) organizations in the West, we can see that they fit in with the word “cult”. It would be difficult to come up with reasons to refute that they are a cult. For example, in the dharma centres of Geshe Kelsang, there were questions brought forth in the British government about their cult-like aspects. They managed somehow to prevent those questions from ripening into bigger problems. Bob Thurman has said that if the New Kadampa organization is not a cult, it is very clearly going in the direction of a cult.
  • In terms of the Refugee Welcome Centres and Schools, every Tibetan has been provided with the same facilities and conditions, including those who have said they rely on Dolgyal-the administration has not discriminated in this regard. They have been given the same access to health facilities and schools.
  • The previous Ganden Throneholder, Lungrik Namgyal Rinpoche (now resident in France) deceived HH Dalai Lama and promised to avoid Shugden in order to secure enough supporters to take the Ganden throneholder position. There should be a something in writing to this effect. As soon as this ended his tenure as Ganden Throneholder, he revealed he was still practicing Shugden.
    The CTA has requested documentation of specific incidents, individuals and evidence of Shugden believers being turned away from essential services such as medical help and education, and has received none.
  • Samdhong Rinpoche urged the students not to believe what he said because of which “side” he was on. He also urged them not to believe Shugden claims simply because they identified with that “side”, but to do the reading and checking necessary to form their own opinions.
    He mentioned that prominent Shugden people, of whom the CTA is well aware, were recently issued travel documents through the assistance of the CTA and the Indian government just like any other Tibetan. He noted the significant number of known Shugden people travelling on these documents. Therefore there are no human rights violation on freedom to movement, Shugden people are regularly leaving for foreign countries and returning to  India.
  • Mentioned that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and Gangchen Rinpoche have an incorrect understanding (extreme?) with regards to the teachings on “How to Rely on the Virtuous Friend (Teacher)”.
  • Even though the above people have caused problems, still according to Buddhism actually we should have compassion for them. Especially compassion considering the future karmic consequences of their actions.
  • Has reiterated that in the case of Kelsang Gyatso and Gangchen, they have been safe for many years. That the CTA NEVER issued orders to kill or harm these people. At the same time, compassion does not mean that their incorrect views, and mistakes, should not be pointed out and corrected.
  • He mentioned that Shugden people being refused from certain shops was not a campaign of the government.  This was a decision of the individual shopholders-that they had a right to privacy. This is a boycott, rather than human rights abuse, that began due to negative actions of Shugden party. That this is a personal decision. Explained it as an individual grassroots political action, like boycotting Chinese products as a way of effecting change in policy. It could be looked at as the shop or restaurant owners following a policy of what Gandhiji calls “non co-operation” with the Shugden side as a way of boycotting to affect change. So it is not social discrimination, but a social boycott. This manifests as a choice not to engage in material exchanges with the Shugden side.
  • Such a boycott is not necessarily negative. If the students harm others, this is negative. We can understand the current boycott as being a temporary and direct response to the lies and protest actions currently being done against His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We understand that whether one relies on Dolgyal or not is a decision within one’s mind. The current boycott that we see in some cases is a response to the misleading protests of the Shugden group, as this harms Tibetan society. Therefore we cannot say the decision to remain at a distance from  those participating in such Dolgyal organizations is a bad thing.
  • At the school for example, if the students are criticizing or harming them, this is not proper. But it should not be required to maintain close relationships with those of Dolgyal organizations. Choosing not to do so is not necessarily harmful for either party, from the point of view  of damtsik (samaya) it could be beneficial, in my personal opinion.
  • Mentioned that Shugdens took their case to both Amnesty International and the National Human Rights Campaign, and neither organization felt what was presented to them required a mandate to action.
  • Sees this issue through the lens of democracy like this: Democracy is open society that takes decisions for the well being of the people. Hence, considering harm of Shugden practice, for the well being of the people it should be spoken out against.

Update: Full Speech

The last Upholder of the Gelug Mahamudra Tradition: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

In the past it was the designated successor of Kelsang Gyatso, Kadam Neil Elliot, who claimed that the (whole) Vajrayana Mahamudra tradition is only existent in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and not outside of NKT. (There is still the recording of his voice).

Elliot claimed:

From 1991 to 1995 Gelong Thubten Gyatso (a.k.a. Neil Elliot) was 'the chosen one' to succeed former Geshe Kelsang. He was known as the 'heart-disciple' of GKG, who wrote a long life prayer for him recited regularly at NKT centres. Thubten was later disrobed because of a 'breach of his monastic vows', a polite way of saying sexual abuse. Neil Elliot (Thubten) organized and attended the WSS demonstrations–the old man himself reassigned Elliot to 'special ops'.

From 1991 to 1995 Gelong Thubten Gyatso (a.k.a. Neil Elliot) was the officially appointed successor and the ‘heart-disciple’ of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Kelsang Gyatso wrote a long life prayer for him recited regularly at NKT centres. Neil Elliot, who is very charismatic, played a key role in attracting Westerners to the NKT and he was the driving force that removed eclectic practitioners, who were not keen to exclusively rely on NKT/Kelsang Gyatso, from NKT. Such practitioners were seen as a threat for the “purity” of NKT. Later, Kelsang Gyatso had to strip Elliot officially from power after it became public via internet that Elliot was involved in sexual misconduct. (The NKT tried by all means to hide the reasons for this power change and the same story – even worse – repeated itself with the second officially appointed successor of Kelsang Gyatso, Samden Gyatso, a.k.a. Steve Wass.) Currently Neil Elliot is the resident teacher of NKT’s London Centre “Kadam Meditation Centre”. People aware of the NKT history find it very hypocritical that Elliot partakes in the protests against the Dalai Lama, calling the fully ordained monk and the holder of the monastic discipline the 14th Dalai Lama a hypocrite and liar, while Elliot turns a blind eye on his own inglorious past.

And we can say these days, previously you could find the practice of the Mahamudra outside this Tradition; other Traditions held this practice. But these days we can say definitely it doesn’t exist outside of our Tradition. Only this Tradition holds the lineage, the pure lineage, of the Vajrayana Mahamudra. So this is what we need to preserve, this is what we need to protect.

As some (controversial) Buddhist leaders get older, they or their Western students seem to be concerned about their legacy (see also Propaganda: The making of the holy Lama Ole Nydahl). There seems to be a need to establish their uniqueness and special contributions even before they die. For that purposes myths are created which single out those persons as unique and extraordinary. Tharpa publications produced a new book where NKT is publicly announcing such a myth in order to raise awareness within the Tibetan community about the uniqueness of the NKT founder Kelsang Gyatso. After NKT – based on the diligence of Kelsang Gyatso – has denounced the Dalai Lama (who Tibetans regard in the majority as their supreme leader) worldwide as a liar, hypocrite, saffron-robed Muslim, evil, cruel, worst dictator etc., it seems now is the time to teach Tibetans about the supremacy of Kelsang Gyatso by publishing a book in Tibetan, The Oral Instruction of Mahamudra. Via the NKT publishing arm, Tharpa publications, Kelsang Gyatso himself is keen to insinuate that he might be the last person on the planet who possesses the oral lineage of Mahamudra passed on by Trijang Rinpoche to him. Which means, enlightenment goes only through him (or his books) nowadays.

line-gothicTitle: “Meaningful to Behold” (mthong ba don ldan) : The Mahamudra of the Ganden Hearing Lineage Well Explained, Combined with A Summary of Essential Instructions of the Hearing Lineage

author credited on cover: Lama Losang Thubwang Heruka

TheOralInstructionOfMahamudra-KelsangGyatso

Front cover of “The Oral Instruction Of Mahamudra” by Kelsang Gyatso

Contents:

1.”Meaningful to Behold”: The Mahamudra of the Ganden Hearing Lineage Well Explained

2. The Preliminary Practice of the Mahamudra of the Ganden Hearing Lineage: How to Practice the Guru Yoga of the Hundreds of Deities of Tushita – in Accordance with the Mantrayana System

3. The Ganden Whispered Lineage Mind Ornament (“Adornment of Realization”): The Meaning of Profound Emptiness Well Explained (in verse)

4.”Essence of Tantra” Way of Practice of the Method of Accomplishment (Sadhana) of the Great Ghantapa’s Body Mandala of Glorious Chakrasamvara

Summary of Forward (Quick, Rough Rendition, Not Checked or Polished):

Many years ago Gelek Rinpoche, now resident in America, via telephone, asked a question to the Honorable Palden la of Trijang lhabrang. Gelek Rinpoche asked Palden la if there was anyone who had received the Mahamudra commentary instruction lineage suitably.

Palden la replied that he remembered, back in Tibet, at Tsechokling Monastery, among those who requested teachings of the Profound Instruction of Mahamudra there was Tsangpa Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, now of England, present. He also indicated another suitable receiver of this teaching may not exist.

Back-TheOralInstructionOfMahamudra-KelsangGyatso

Back cover of “The Oral Instruction Of Mahamudra” by Kelsang Gyatso

Then, at the insistence of a few lamas and geshes in both India and the West, who said since you are advanced in age it would be difficult for you yourself to teach/transmit this to assemblies of Tibetan people.

Within Tibet, Lama Thubten Purbu Rinpoche said you must offer this lineage of Mahamudra Instruction that you hold.

The reason to offer this is to revive the essence of the Conqueror’s doctrine (Gelug tradition), which has degenerated, and also to develop it, amongst the Tibetan people.

In this way may hearts  hold a cherishing of Jamgon Tsongkhapa’s Doctrine.

Kelsang Gyatso

line-gothic

It is clear that after the Dalai Lama failed so tremendously (in the eyes of Kelsang Gyatso and NKT) there is now only one shining star that is the bearer of the holy, secret and pure lineage of Trijang Rinpoche and Tsongkhapa, which is Kelsang Gyatso. “How fortunate we are!” (as NKT would joyfully exclaim the underlying message.)

Apparently the book seems to be looking for legitimacy from Tibetans (although two people who speak Tibetan say it is full of grammatical mistakes). It claims that Kelsang Gyatso received this transmission from Trijang Rinpoche at a place called Tsechokling in Tibet and that he might be the only living person who has it. This increases his importance and subsequently he claims that he was urged to “offer this lineage of Mahamudra Instruction” – and kindly he did. As the back cover puts it: “This precious text was written by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in Tibetan.” The author credited on the front cover: Lama Losang Thubwang Heruka (which insinuates an enlightened being) is one with the author credited on the back cover: Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Quite modest. According to the book, the name of the person who officially requested the book is a lama in Tibet, Lama Thupten Phurbu Rinpoche.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

David with the head of Goliath

The book must be seen in wider context of a long battle (or vendetta) of Kelsang Gyatso against the Dalai Lama. It appears a bit as the fight of the small David (Kelsang Gyatso) against the giant Goliath (Dalai Lama). Kelsang Gyatso spend a lot of time and effort to denounce the Dalai Lama as a total non-spiritual fake Dalai Lama and he himself personally took responsibility to organize the international protests against the Dalai Lama in 1996-98 and from 2008 onwards. Kelsang Gyatso also tried to educate Tibetans with his own pamphlets in Tibetan language where he claimed such things as:

He (the Dalai Lama) spent his whole life only collecting the wealth of simple Tibetan People. What material help has he provided to the Tibetan people? And regarding the issue of Tibet, what has he done that is really helpful? – see “A refutation of attacks on the advice of H.H. the Dalai Lama regarding the propitiation of guardian deities” by Tenpai Gyaltsan Dhongthog, 1996, p.33

In that context it is noteworthy to watch how NKT tries by all means to claim that the Dalai Lama would have lied with respect to Trijang Rinpoche’s acceptance of HH the Dalai Lama’s stance on Dorje Shugden. The NKT wants to tell: this man is not reliable (whereas Kelsang Gyatso is). The more the giant Dalai Lama is put down the higher the glory of small David. The NKT put a new video on YouTube that continues to spin the NKT myths. Without having any convincing argument the NKT / ICS still claim that the Dalai Lama lied. As a part of the video the NKT / ICS present a rather young monk, Geshe Lobsang Kalsang, as the Disciplinarian Master of Sera Mey Monastery.

LharampaGesheLobsangKalsang

According to the screen shot of this new NKT / ISC video this Lharampa Geshe Lobsang Kalsang is ‘from Sera Mey Monastery, Pomra Khamsten, Disciplinary Master from 200-2003′. However, according to Siling Tongkhor, Coordinator at Geden Tulku Association and Spiritual Director at Sermey Rongpo Khangsten, previously at Sera Mey Monastic University and Sera Tulkus group: “This monk, Lobsang Kalsang has never been the Disciplinarian Master of Sera Mey Monastery. He was from Sera Mey Monastery prior to the 2008 separation. And he became the disciplinarian master of Serpom, the Shugden monastery near Sera Mey.”

Geshe Lobsang Kelsang who was surely not any witness of the discussions between the Dalai Lama with Trijang Rinpoche and Ling Rinpoche issues forth one claim after the other what Trijang Rinpoche had said without naming any reliable source. Mere claims that prove not anything.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-08-03 um 20.29.26The cover of the book is a portrait of Kelsang Gyatso ‘as’ Je Tsongkhapa, with Buddha Shakyamuni at his heart, and Heruka inside his heart. That makes Kelsang Gyatso appear as the direct ‘successor’ of Je Tsongkhapa, insinuating to bring to fruition the prediction of the Whispered Lineage – the Ganden Oral lineage – that states that one of the Buddhas of this fortunate aeon will actually be a manifestation of Tsongkhapa and will teach tantra … (In the past NKT spread quotes “from a Sutra” that in extremely degenerate times – which is now according to NKT – a very pure being will appear that restores the “pure Dharma”. Such claims are part of the myths which NKT creates to attribute a special role in this world to their leader Kelsang Gyatso – a special role also Kelsang Gyatso is convinced of to have.)

Lama Lobsang Thupwang Dorje Chang is now called ‘Guru Sumati Buddha Heruka’ (on the frontspiece) and in Tibetan ‘Lama Losang Tubwang Heruka’.

I understand this is problematic as

a) This kind of portrait of the teacher as ‘the Guru Tsongkhapa’ is a private part of practice and paintings such as this are traditionally not done until a teacher has died.

b) Siling Tongkhor told that ‘this is acceptable, technically’, or ‘theoretically’ ‘as long as they don’t regard him as a Yidam but merely as an spiritual protector – Dharmapala’. This requires more thought.

c) The cover features a living teacher seated on a lotus. This lotus seat is traditionally only used for teachers who are dead and it is considered highly inauspicious to depict a living teacher in this way; if I remember correctly it is said to be the cause of premature death. (This is also true for the NKT practice to put a hair of Kelsang Gyatso in statues. This is done only with hairs of dead teachers. If it is done with the hairs of a living teacher, such an action too is seen as very inauspicious and as a cause for calamities.)

Update August 30, 1014

1. Enquiries in Dharamsala suggest that His Holiness has taught it at least 5 times. Once back in the 70s or early 80s during one of Lama Yeshi’s Dharma celebrations; a couple of times since in the Tsuglagkhang here; last year at Gyumey and at Emory University in USA. He says he received the transmission from both his tutors. Apparently recently he asked Samdhong Rinpoche to give it somewhere and when Rinpoche said he was willing, but he didn’t have the transmission, His Holiness said then I’ll give it you. It doesn’t sound as rare and exclusive as the NKT make out.

2. Palden la was the manager of Trijang Labrang when Trijang Rinpoche was still alive.

When shown Kelsang Gyatso’s book, a Rinpoche in Dharamsala who had studied in Sera said almost immediately responded “O this looks like a lie” particularly in reference to Gelek Rinpoche. About Lobsang Kelsang he said “O he’s crazy.” Checked with a translator he said that in the Sera mey he was known as Palden Nyonpa which roughly means Glorious Nutcase. He said he was wild and eccentric; inclined to cause a splash. Even about his own teacher Gyarong Khensur he could be disparaging. Therefore this person is not a particularly credible witness.

3. His Holiness has been quite clear about the fact that he kept his tutors informed about his views and activities. He didn’t ask Ling Rinpoche to prevail on Trijang Rinpoche. He has himself described how he asked Trijang Rinpoche to speak out on the matter because of the weight of his influence.

The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and the Dalai Lama

GUEST POST by Robert – a former NKT monk

The Protests

If you have tried to attend one of the Dalai Lama’s teachings in the west over the last six years, you will have noticed a peculiar mob of people gathered outside in a loud, formal protest. This mob is composed almost entirely of western Buddhists, both ordained as well as lay, who have determined to follow the Dalai Lama wherever he teaches, to demand he give religious freedom and stop lying. These are the chants you will hear, “Dalai Lama, stop lying!” and, “Dalai Lama give religious freedom!” It is quite a peculiar thing to behold, as rather than a visibly angry protest, the protesters all have big smiles on their faces, as if they are in some kind of blissful trance, and the chants have a definite rhythm to them, and are even accompanied by musical instruments, such as drums and tambourines. You will even see ordained monks and nuns dancing. It’s almost as if you’ve stumbled into a Hare Krishna street festival.

This apparent blissful harmony may at first seem contradictory to their very message which is summarised in their deafening chants. It may seem contradictory to the hateful and racist speech found in their leaflets they hand out that call the Dalai Lama such names as “The Saffron-Robed Muslim”. The reality is that the majority of these protesters know very little about which they are protesting, aside from what they are spoon-fed from their teachers.

Central to the NKT’s daily practice is “reliance on the spiritual guide”, which in their eyes requires the development of an unshakeable faith in their teacher, or Guru. To ‘doubt’ their teacher is considered a delusion, and it is also believed that those who doubt their Guru will create the bad karma to be without religion in the future, and furthermore, to abandon their teacher means they will create the bad karma which will cause them to be reborn in hell for a near-infinite period of time. So this is an example of how fear works in a belief-system. Because this belief-system is so strongly ingrained in practitioners, they don’t dare let their mind wander to doubt and these protests are a prime example of this. They happily protest, because they will do virtually anything their Guru asks, even without understanding all of the facts for themselves.

I know this first-hand, as during the year 2008 I found myself partaking in one of these ‘blissful protests’. Back then, I was an ordained monk in the New Kadampa Tradition. I remember the day our Buddhist Centre, where we lived, received a letter from the Guru, requesting us to take part in a protest against the Dalai Lama. For many of us, it was the first time we had heard of this conflict between our Guru and the Dalai Lama, so we were quite shocked. I personally did a little research online at the time, but I really didn’t understand the situation, and did not know who was right or wrong. So I fell back on my ‘faith’ and assured myself that my Guru was enlightened and he knew what was best and I shouldn’t doubt him.

So I found myself engaging in the 2008 protests in London and Cambridge. I had a peaceful mind and no aggression in the slightest towards the Dalai Lama. If anything, I was looking forward to seeing him, and I felt a little elated as he waved to us all from his car window, as he approached his teaching venue. With my peaceful mind, I protested loudly, holding a banner that read “Dalai Lama stop lying”, shouting the same chants that they still chant today, “Dalai Lama give religious freedom!”, “Dalai Lama stop lying!” I was able to remain at peace, as this wasn’t really my protest. I didn’t really understand it, but I was told I was creating good karma, as I was following my Guru, and it was for a good cause.

However, my faith began to waver a little, when I read the booklets we were handing out. The language used was very crude and full of insults, like an angry child had written it. This was the booklet that contained the phrase “The Saffron-Robed Muslim”, which was a phrase that stuck in my mind and disturbed me. I thought to myself, “was this written by my Guru, who I believe is an enlightened Buddha? Even if it was not written by him, surely he must have approved this booklet!” It did not add up for me at all. I had joined Buddhism to become a better person; someone more peaceful and kind. This was not what I had imagined Buddhism to be.

I even had a dream, the night after my second protest. Some may say dreams are meaningless, and sometimes I agree, though other times I think our deeper self has an important message for us. In the dream I was among the followers of the Dalai Lama, almost like a spy, and we were standing behind some barricades. The Dalai Lama came walking by, like he was on the way to a teaching. Everyone was cheering him except for me. I tried to shout out my words of protest, but the others around me kindly and warmly tried to stop me by putting their hands over my mouth, but I did it anyway. “Stop lying!” I shouted out and the moment the words left my lips, there was complete silence. The Dalai Lama had stopped and was now facing me. He approached me and warmly spoke, “you must not make up your mind, until you understand all the facts.” This advice was like a lightning bolt and I will never forget that dream.

The Tibetan Situation

My dream showed me the reality, that I did not understand the situation in Dharamsala, the situation of the Tibetan people in exile, and the controversy surrounding the practice of Dorje Shugden. The only information I had was what had been fed to me by the NKT. Often this information was watered-down, very narrow-minded and superficial, even twisting the facts. In this world you can find circumstantial evidence to support virtually any claim, and if you piece it together just right, it can become very convincing, especially to those so deep in the bias that results from the brain-washing of a belief-system such as this, that it’s an absolutely necessity for them to believe in it. The NKT’s campaign against the Dalai Lama is not at all about the unbiased revealing of information. It is about slandering the Dalai Lama by whatever means possible. They have gone out of their way to attack the Dalai Lama’s reputation and the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism as a whole.

They believe so strongly in their cause, and need to believe so strongly, that they will do anything to achieve their goals. It’s not about making information available, it’s about destroying someone’s reputation. This is why they will call the Dalai Lama such names as ‘the saffron-robed Muslim’ and the ‘false Dalai Lama’, and producing derogatory imagery of him. Here is a direct quote from an NKT monk, who is actually one of the leaders and organisers of the protests:

Demonstrations my friend, and lots of them. Using every peaceful and wrathful method at our disposal to make the Dalai Lama realize what a horrible mistake he has made.

So you can understand from this statement above, it is clearly not about making information freely available to people, as they claim, rather it is a personal attack on the Dalai Lama. It is about winning. Those who they upset or offend along the way, and those who have their experience of the Dalai Lama’s teachings ruined by their protests, these are just acceptable losses to them.

The whole drama has come about from the Dalai Lama advising against worshipping a particular diety called Dorje Shugden. This is not, as the NKT would have us believe, a violation of religious freedom. The NKT would have you believe there is even violence against Shugden practitioners, and they went so far as to take the Dalai Lama and his administration to court. It is important to note, however, that the charges were thrown out, as there was no evidence of ANY specific instances of these attacks.

After studying scriptures of religious texts in-depths, the Dalai Lama concluded that Shugden was an evil spirit and worship of him did not belong in the Tibetan monasteries, so he advised everyone against the practice. It was voted upon in individual monasteries, whether to continue the practice or not, and the result was not to continue, and those who wished to remain in the monasteries were asked to take an oath that they would not practice. The local people also wanted to take this oath, but were denied, so they decided to gather together and take oaths of their own. Unfortunately this has caused a division between those who are against Shugden practice and the minority of those that still choose to practice it. It is not, however, how the NKT would portray these circumstances. Shugden practitioners are not ostracised from society and there is no evidence of violence against them. On the contrary, there are investigations into Shugden practitioners themselves, surrounding the deaths of monks close to the Dalai Lama. Also, one Tibetan monk recounted an event he personally witnessed at only 15 years old, where he witnessed pro-Shugden monks violently beating anti-Shugden monks.

The NKT would have you believe that Shugden worshippers are banned from even grocery shops, so they cannot even buy food, and are treated as real outcasts. The reality is they are restricted by certain monasteries and religious shops, as their practice is not compatible with the mainstream practices of those monasteries. In other words, it is against their belief system. We wouldn’t expect Catholic monasteries to allow Wiccans and Pagans to live with them, because that would be in contradiction to the beliefs of the monastery as a whole.

To those who are non-religious or don’t believe in spirits, evil or otherwise, this whole situation may seem absurd. It may seem absurd for the Dalai Lama to ask people to stop worshipping an evil spirit if they don’t exist! We have to remember though, that for Tibetan Buddhism and for the NKT, these spirits are considered as real. These are religious communities after all, where the existence of good-natured enlightened spirits and also evil spirits are regarded as real. So we have to think in this proper context, without bringing in our own beliefs about spirits. In this context, if there really is an evil spirit who can harm people, then of course the Dalai Lama is going to want to restrict this practice.

We also have to remember that the Tibetan country in exile is not like countries here in the west. It is a religious country, where the political leader and the religious leader is the same person, so the effects of alterations in the religion are further-reaching than similar alterations would be here in the western world. So we cannot think of this situation in terms of how we live in the west. There are always problems and disputes when things change, but this is not a matter of religious freedom. Just as Wiccans are allowed to do their own practices freely, as long as they are not living in a Catholic monastery, Shugden practitioners are allowed to do their own practices freely, as long as they don’t do it in a Tibetan monastery that has taken oaths not to do the practice. We must also bear in mind that these Shugden monastics are not homeless in the slightest, as there are monasteries they can live in that endorse the practice of Shugden, such as Shar Gaden. One only has to visit DorjeShugden.com and click on ‘Places’ in the top menu, to see the many monasteries that support Shugden practitioners.

The problem is that Shugden practitioners are angry that their practice is no longer part of the mainstream of Tibetan Buddhism, and they blame the Dalai Lama for this and want to discredit him and try to force him to reverse his decision, through harassment. It is certainly a shame that some of the Shugden monastics had to leave the mainstream monasteries and find new homes, but this inconvenience for them is the far lesser of two evils, from the point of view of the Dalai Lama, who we must remember is the spiritual leader of a society that deeply believes in good and evil spirits. We should never forget this context of the Tibetan culture and religion, and we should not impose our own beliefs on this matter. We must respect the right of the Dalai Lama to make decisions on behalf of his people, in respect to this culture and religion, which is different to ours, here in the west.

Thank you for reading,
Robertline-gothic

Robert set up a Facebook group, Exposing the NKT. The description of the group is:

This community is for those who wish to share and discuss their experiences within the New Kadampa Tradition, so we can support each other, and also we hope that this information may prove valuable to those interested in the tradition, who want to learn more about what they are getting themselves into.

This is also a community for the research into the Dorje Shugden controversy, and the elaborate campaign the NKT has undertaken against His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

We are not a hate community, and we believe in unbiased research. Our goal is simply to make information available to people, with which they can make up their own minds.

We believe that current NKT practitioners, as well as ex-practitioners, deserve our kindness and respect, so this community will not tolerate any hurtful speech, and we wish only to benefit all parties.

See also

The True Nature of the NKT Sponsored International Shugden Community Hate Campaign …

GUEST POST

The True Nature of the NKT Sponsored International Shugden Community Hate Campaign Revealed: The Usurping of the Dalai Lama and Destruction of the Tibetan People’s Institutions in Exile

The videos released by International Shugden Community narrated by anchorman and sometimes NKT monk and Resident Teacher Kelsang Rabten (National Spiritual Director for New Zealand and Australia) are becoming increasingly political in nature. The thin veneer of a “human rights campaign” is beginning to peel away to reveal the true nature of these provocative protests and online hate media that goes along with them: the complete usurping of HH the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama institution, and all of the institutions serving the Tibetan exile community in India.

The stage for this phase of the program was set with the new slogan being chanted by singing and dancing NKT members, some in monastic dress: False Dalai Lama. Such a slogan was developed with the view of establishing a doubt regarding the authenticity of the Dalai Lama in the minds of the general public attending his open talks. It was also meant to mobilize the ground troops of drum playing NKT “ordained Sangha” around a new effort – the usurping of Tenzin Gyatso from his position as the 14th Dalai Lama. The video opens with intrepid reporter and part-time NKT monk Kelsang Rabten yelling at the Dalai Lama about being false and Reting’s recognition being fraudulent. He repeats over and over “it says you are the false Dalai Lama.” It is interesting that, having gone to the trouble to sneak into the talk and penetrate security, rather than bring up the Shugden issue (which is ostensibly the reason NKT is protesting), Rabten decides to use his 15 seconds in the spotlight to question the Dalai Lama’s authenticity and the validity of Reting Rinpoche as a regent. The video then cuts to Rabten sitting in a living room in Italy (perhaps a side trip during the Livorno protests) presuming to present an “in-depth report” and says that in this edition he will be SPEAKING with several Western and Tibetan scholars to hear what they have to say about the issue of the “False” Dalai Lama. Interestingly, there are no interviews with Western scholars included in the piece, just highlighted excerpts from library books. One Tibetan’s face is blurred throughout the interview so it is difficult to determine if he is a scholar. The only true interview excerpts included in the piece (and questionably translated), are with a Geshe who teaches at Gangchen Lama’s centre in Italy. The significance of the only Tibetan scholar on the video being a resident teacher at Gangchen’s centre will be explained later. First it is important to examine the source of the “research” that part-time monk Kelsang Rabten presents during his in-depth report. The only university level research he consults is the work of two China-linked Western academics, Melvyn Goldstein and Tom Grunfeld. Of the two Melvyn Goldstein is the more authentic, although he is regarded as having a pro-China bias that runs through much of his work. Tom Grunfeld, on the other hand, has been mired in controversy throughout his career for his colonialist, racist sentiments that mark his attitude towards the Tibetan people (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-schrei/what-good-it-does-a-respo_b_479379.html). This is on top of his lack of capacity in primary research regarding this topic as he understands neither the Tibetan or Chinese language. The famous Tibetan scholar Jamyang Norbu describes Grundfeld’s “research” as racist at best:

Another propagandists for China with pretensions regarding Tibetan history is Tom Grunfeld of Empire State College NY, author of The Making of Modern Tibet. I have written a fairly long review essay, Acme of Obscenity on his anti- Tibet “history”, where I have also provided detailed information of his Maoist background and his lack of qualifications (no knowledge of spoken or written Tibetan or Chinese language – for starters). If a similar book appeared today about Blacks or Jews there would, without doubt, be universal public outcry. Tom Grunfeld writes that Tibetan mothers licked their babies as they emerged from the womb – like animals. He goes on to specify that Tibetan were cruel, dirty, ignorant, syphilitic (90% of the population suffering from venereal diseases according to TG) sexual degenerates who were observed making love on rooftops in full public view. Clearly this is intended to portray Tibetans as barbaric, subhuman, even bestial, thereby justifying Communist Chinese rule in Tibet as necessary and civilizing.

One wonders how the moral indignation with which NKT members and Shugden protestors’ react to accusations of links with China cannot be laughed at, as their propaganda relies on the work of scholars holding a racist view of “backward Tibetans”, and sees the PRC as “liberators”. If this were truly the case, why did Shugden lamas along with the lamas of other lineages seek to leave Tibet when the PRC invaded? Part-time monk Kelsang Rabten then goes on to describe research that indicated Reting had a lust for power, and for this reason installed the fase Dalai Lama. It is never explained how choosing the “wrong Dalai Lama” would help raise Reting’s political profile. From the way the story is presented it seems as if Rabten would have us believe this is the first time there has been more than one candidate for the position of tulku. This is patently false, and anyone with even a cursory familiarity with Tibetan history knows that almost every candidacy for the position of a high lama involves some element of controversy regarding the recognition. (see the articles on this site regarding the Karmapa dispute). It would seem that the mere fact that there was another candidate is grounds enough to usurp the current Dalai Lama and label him as false. Several of the Tibetan Dalai Lama supporters now active on facebook regarding this issue, notably Siling Rinpoche, a scholar-lama from Sera Mey monastery, made the very valid point that the previous Trijiang Rinpoche’s recognition was also fraught with controversy. In fact, the majority of the people in the region from which the most vociferous of the Tibetan Shugden protest participants hail, Chatreng, was initiatlly dead-set against the recognition of the previous Trijiang Dorjechang, as he was from the U-Tsang region rather than their locality from where the Trijiang line traditionally came from. This information is contained within the autobiography of the previous Trijiang tulku. The video then goes on to a supposed “interview” with a blurry-faced “Tibetan scholar” who says, with no evidence, names, or dates etc. that “many lamas, many people and many (sic) Tibetan government don’t believe he (Tenzin Gyatso) is the real Dalai Lama because there was one other child (candidate).” By way of evidence for this proclamation it is only revealed that the other candidate had “some signs”. (Those familiar with the process of tulku recognition in Tibetan Buddhism will note that it is not at all a rare occurrence for several children to exhibit signs of being a reincarnation. Indeed, in the case of the Dalai Lamas, it is the historical norm that several candidates were considered.) Kelsang Rabten then goes on to explain that the current Dalai Lama was found in a village with a large Muslim population called Takster, a repeat of NKT’s Islamaphobic “saffron-robed Muslim” campaign, equating that since the Dalai Lama comes from a Muslim region he must be “false”. The remaining balance of the video is an interview with Geshe Jangchub Gyaltsen who is credited as being “from Ganden monastery, now resident in Italy.” This does not give the whole story, as a simple web search reveals that Geshe Jangchub Gyaltsen is now actually the resident teacher at Kunphen Lama Gangchen Centre in Milano, Italy. (http://www.lgpt.net/News/12/09a_12en.htm) Geshe Jangchub insinuates that since the other child candidate (who was later recongized as a lama called Diktru Tulku) comes from the Lhasa region (instead of the poorer and less famous region of Amo from where the current Dalai Lama was born), and since his family was wealthy and well-known in Lhasa society, he (Diktrul Tulku) must have been the correct candidate. One wonders who would take such elitist and classist comments seriously. The dharma centre where Geshe Jangchub teaches is significant as the spiritual director of Kunphen Lama Gangchen Centre, is no other than a disrobed monk from Sera Mey, Lama Gangchen, one of the most vocal Shugden supporters in Europe, who can be demonstrably linked to Chinese government authorities. His photos feature prominently on PRC propaganda sites where he lauds the Communist Party of China’s activities that “benefit and protect” Tibetan culture. (http://info.tibet.cn/en/newfeature/xzt_1stwenhult/xzt_1stwenhult_chuxizh/t20061011_160742.htm) So what does this all mean, and why have the NKT-sponsored International Shugden Community videos gone from the Shugden issue to proving the Dalai Lama is “false”? It is this author’s opinion that Shugden is actually a secondary issue. And that the current provocative activities are actually the result of careful planning by NKT founder Kelsang Gyatso, Gangchen Tulku (author of “Ocean of Truth Explained) and Kundeling Rinpoche (who said that the communist invasion of Tibetan by China was a good thing on television) to attempt to completely discredit and overthrow the Dalai Lama. Shugden is a banner around which the troops of NKT, Ganchen Centres and, to a lesser extent, Tibetans from the Chatreng region and Serpom, can rally around. It is a way to mobilize a reasonable amount of people to discredit the Dalai Lama and disturb his followers, so that his activities can be undermined. This is actually a political move by conservative Gelugpas opposed to the increasingly non-sectarian nature of Tibetan polity and openness of the Dalai Lama’s presentation of Tibetan Buddhism. As the Dalai Lama has in their eyes betrayed the traditional Gelugpa hegemony of the Tibetan political establishment he must be “false” and therefore worthy of deposition. In the words of Kelsang Gyatso’s student who posts under the moniker Atisha’s Cook, the Dalai Lama must be “shamed, belittled, ridiculed and discredited.” It is worthy of note too that the court case brought to the Delhi High Court by the NKT-supported Dorje Shugden Devotees Society involved a writ application about the legality of the Central Tibetan Administration (formerly the Tibetan Government in Exile). One wonders how a deliberate attempt to deconstruct an organization that gives voice to the difficulties of Tibetans, and has no practical real political power in India accomplishes anything. Indeed, such moves by Shugden lamas would be reason to label them as being agents of the Chinese regime, lauding Chinese government activities in Tibet and attempting to undermine the activities of the Central Tibetan Administration. One wonders how this hobnobbing of Shugden lamas with the Chinese authorities helps the cause of Tibetan Shugden worshipers who the NKT say are ostracized from their communities. Indeed, it would see to contribute to the marginalization of their communities in exile. The current shift in focus of the NKT’s campaign, from the Shugden issue to a movement to depose the “false Dalai Lama”, reveals the nature of the intention of this group of fundamentalist lamas from the beginning. One wonders who has anything to gain from such a move, when the pressure on the Tibetan people and their culture is at an all time high. It would seem, only a small group of fundamentalist Shugden lamas and the Chinese authorities.

See also

Shining Light on the Misrepresentations of the New Kadampa Tradition and Shugden Protestors

GUEST POST

Part 1, 2, and 3 of the following misrepresentations and excerpts as clarifications are based on the new ebook, Dolgyal Shugden: A History by The Dolgyal Shugden Research Society.

PART 1 focuses on the historical background of Shugden up to and including the period of Pabongkha Rinpoche.

Dolgyal Shugden: A History

Dolgyal Shugden: A History. The front cover shows Palden Lhamo.

Misrepresentation: Dorje Shugden is worshiped as an enlightened deity in the Sakya tradition.

Clarification from the text: When a Nyingma lama was trying to subdue the Shugden spirit, it fled and sought refuge in Sakya Monastery where it caused many disturbances. There, Sakya lama Sonam Rinchen bargained with the spirit that in exchange for accepting a torma cake from the monastery, in would not harm those in the region.
Sakya Scholar Jampa Thaye states: “The usual Sakya view about Shugden is that he is controlled by … Four Faced Mahakala. So he is a worldly deity, or demon, who is no harm to the Sakya tradition because he is under the influence of this particular Mahakala.”

Misrepresentation: The Fifth Dalai Lama, although initially opposed to Shugden, realized he was an enlightened being and therefore ordered a temple constructed in his honour at Trode Khangsar, in Lhasa.

Clarification: It is not clear whether or not the Fifth Dalai Lama actually established this temple. What is interesting, is that this temple is actually classified as a “Tsen Khang” (spirit house). Even if the Dalai Lama was involved with the construction of the temple, its location well outside the perimeter indicates that Shugden was worshiped as a worldly deity. Its classification as a Tsen Khang makes it clear the being inside is regarded as a spirit. Because worldly deities were not considered objects of refuge, their shrines were located outside monastic perimeters.

Misrepresentation: The Shugden practice was never controversial amongst Gelug Lamas apart from the Dalai Lamas.

Clarification: This is clearly not the case, many great Gelug lamas were opposed to Shugden practice. The author of famous texts on logic and history, Purchog Ngawang Jampa states: “Nowadays many who consider themselves followers of Tsongkhapa and adopt the three robes of a fully ordained Buddhist monk, go for refuge to worldly spirits. They will have to face the consequence of meeting with great misfortune.

Yongdzin Yeshe Gyaltsen, tutor to the 8th Dalai Lama: The new Dharma protector (Shugden) is the source of ruin of Tashi Lhunpo… if the monastery starts propitiation of some harmful spirit, it will be the source of great inauspiciousness.

The 8th Panchen Lama: “Propitiating and taking refuge in evil spirits like Dolgyal (Shugden), that are wandering hungry spirits, contradicts the practice of taking refuge in the Three Jewels, which is what distinguishes a Buddhist, therefore, such practices should be given up.”

Misrepresentation: We can prove that Dorje Shugden is an emanation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjushri due to his aspect and function.

Clarification: Contemporary Sakya Scholar Dhongtog Rinpoche: “You who claim that Shugden is inseperable from Manjushri, what is the source of your assertion? There is no prophecy or scriptural reference to this in any of the Buddha’s teachings, or in the works of any Buddhist master, or in the works of Tsongkhapa. If there is one, supply the quote.”

Misrepresentation: Pabongkha Rinpoche’s view of Shugden as an enlightened being is evidence this is the correct view.

Clarification: It seems Pabongkha himself wavered between various views of Shugden. When chastized by the 13th Dalai Lama for propitiating Shugden, Pabongkhapa replied: “I want to say from the depths of my heart that it is only due to my ignorance and not that I have knowingly entered onto an unwholesome path and led others onto that same path.”

Misrepresentation: Pabongkha Rinpoche was never a sectarian lama. He is merely being smeared by the Dalai Lama and his followers for political reasons.

Clarification: It is clear he was sectarian based on this and many other quotations: “… many from our own side, monks or laypeople, high or low, are not content with Tsongkhapa’s doctrine, which is like pure gold, and have mixed and corrupted this tradition with the mistaken views and practices of other schools, tenent systems that are reputed to be incredibly profound and amazingly vast but are in fact mistakes upon mistakes, faulty, dangerous and misleading paths.”

He also stated: “Apart from the doctrine of Manjughosa Tsongkhapa alone, the views of all Sakyas, Kagyus and Nyingmas are erroneous … for them liberation and the path to omniscience does not exist.”

Misrepresentation: Pabongkha Rinpoche was a completely non-political lama, and was never involved in non-religious affairs.

Clarification: Between 1938 and 1940, Pabongkha Rinpoche made repeated requests to Kham’s Kuomintang military governor, Lui Chuntrang, to forcibly suppress local Sakya, Nyingma and Kagyu monasteries for propounding a “wrong view of emptiness.” (These letters are sourced from Volume Cha of Pabongkhapa’s collected works.

Misrepresentation: None of Pabongkha Dechen Nyingpo’s followers or Shugden worshipers were ever involved in violence or sectarian actions.

Clarification: From a historical account included in the book: “The Lhasa administration was forced to send a delegation to the Geluk Shitam Gompa near Chamdo after a group of monks, claiming to be possessed by Shugden, broke down and smashed the doors of the Chamdo temple … the confessed that on their way (to Chamdo) they had entered a Nyingma monastery and destroyed a 30 foot image of Padmasambhava.”

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PART 2: The Impetus for the Dalai Lama’s Opposition and an Examination of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and his sectarianism.

Misrepresentation: The Dalai Lama’s words against Shugden have no basis in reason whatsoever.

Clarification: The current Dalai Lama began to speak out on this issue with the publication of a violently sectarian work called “The Yellow Book” by Zemey Rinpoche, threatening “impure Gelugs” with tragedy and mishap.

From the text: Along with the attribution of the deaths of a number of Geluk followers to the deity, the book claimed it was Shugden’s retribution that led to a great flood at Gyantse in 1954, a flood which almost completely destroyed the town and killed thousands of people and animals.

Misrepresentation: The New Kadampa Tradition and Shugden Supporters Community (front group in the 1990s) are seperate organizations.

Clarification: “When Andrew Brown, a freelance journalist working for the Independent Newspaper at the time, rang the contact number given by one of the two groups (Shugden Supporters Community and Freedom Foundation), he soon came to realize that both the SSC and Freedom Foundation were front organizations set up and run by members of Kelsang Gyatso’s New Kadampa Tradition.”

Misrepresentation: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a fully qualified Geshe and completed Geshe examinations at Sera Monastery, he merely did not pick up his certificate.

Clarification: Gyatso’s own statements about his Geshe degree are very contradictory.  “Initially, Gyatso claims to have become a Geshe before  entering Sera, at a monastery where the degree was not awarded. He then claims to have been awarded the degree many years after completing his training at Sera, though he did not take any examinations. He then claims to have been awarded the degree immediately upon having completed the course of study at Sera, where the degree has always been awarded after thorough examinations. Examinations which Gyatso freely agrees to having never taken.”

Misrepresentation: After coming to India  Geshe Kelsang Gyatso spent 18 years in retreat at various locations in the Himalayan region.

Clarification: “Critics suggest Gyatso actually spent much of his time in India in Mussoorie, convalescing as a TB patient …” in addition to 6 years in Dalhousie.

Misrepresentation: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is preserving Tsongkhapa’s tradition from the pollution of mixing instigated by the Dalai Lama.

Clarification: … in rejecting the the eclectic approach to dharma, Kelsang Gyatso was rejecting an approach exemplified by Tsongkhapa’s life and which was demonstrated by his constructing a tradition taken from each of the pre-extant Buddhist traditions of Tibet. Gyatso, in championing Pabonkha’s exclusivism, came to represent an exclusivism which is the very anithesis of the spirit of Tsongkhapa’s eclectic tradition.

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PART 3 Deliberate Misrepresentations About the Number of Shugden Followers, NKT’s Financial Transparency and the Murder of Gen Lobsang Gyatso

Misrepresentation: 4 Million people are affected by the Dalai Lama’s activities against the Shugden practice.

Clarification: The policies affect only certain Tibetan government departments and subsidiaries, monastic institutions connected with the Dalai Lama, and those who wish to take the Dalai Lama as their tantric master. According to experts with whom Brown spoke, only 100,000 people could be affected by the “ban”. After communicating with senior Buddhist academics, our conclusions are that the prohibition affects 30,000 at most.

Misrepresentation: The restrictions of the Dalai Lama effectively “bans” Shugden practice in all Tibetan communities in India and Tibet, as well as the West.

Clarification: Nowadays Shugden is propitiated without restraint in NKT centres worldwide, in numerous Chinese funded government monasteries in Tibet, and indeed in non government monasteries set up by devotees in the exile community, both in India, Nepal and beyond. The prohibitions surrounding Shugden worship then do not extend to all devotees but rather to a tiny minority of Tibetan Buddhists, each of whom is linked to the Tibetan government or His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the context of a tantric, guru-disciple relationship.

Misrepresentation: The New Kadampa Tradition is financially transparent and not involved in political activities.

Clarification: … the movement has repeatedly depended on its members collecting government assistance, often under false pretenses, and that this money has then been funneled in to the NKT’s own coffers to fund the expansion of its ever burgeoning property empire … the organization has taken full advantage of its religious status for charitable purposes, while simultaneously its members covertly engage in political activities and protests against the Dalai Lama across the globe.

Misrepresentation: Apart from the accusation of the CTA, and a document that may have been planted, there is no evidence Shugden worshipers were involved in threats to Gen Lobsang Gyatso or his death.

Clarification 1: There are other pieces of evidence. As one example: “A letter received by the Tibetan Government-In-Exile, dated May 5, 1996, and which requested a re-opening of the debate on the Shugden issue and restoration of devotees human rights warned: “… there should be no procrastination. And we, in our present state of desperation, have made up our mind to resort to desperate measures if such a decision is not made. And when we do take desperate actions, you will be filled with remorse.”

Clarification 2: The young suspects named by INTERPOL in the murders, suffered a breakdown of their car in Ambala, on the way to the home of Lobsang Gyatso in Dharamsala. They made a telephone call from a public kiosk, which was traced by the Indian police to the home of Chimme Tsering, the secretary of the Dorje Shugden Devotees Charitable and Religious Society in Delhi.

line-gothicDemocracy in the NKT, NKT Ordination, More NKT Finances and Evidence of Shugden Activists’ Connections with the Government of China

Misrepresentation: The NKT is an open and democratic organization, whereas the CTA and its affiliated monasteries behave in a dictatorial manner, for example expelling Shugden monks from monasteries.

Clarification: It is tempting to compare this letter (of KG firing Lucy James from her teaching position) to the expulsion of 6 monks from Sera Monastery three weeks earlier, expulsions that sparked the wave of international demonstrations…However, that particular expulsion was conducted by the monastic community rather than by a single leader, after alleged repeated disruptive behaviour on the part of the six and in accordance with the procedures of the Vinaya, the ancient codes of Moral Discipline set down at the time of the Buddha himself.
In the case of Lucy James, no such process was followed; the draconian decision came down simply as the result of her incurring the wrath of Gyatso and was seemingly his alone. Gyatso took the same decision when another longstanding student of his, Kadam Bjorn Clausen, the Swiss National Spiritual Director, expressed similar concerns about the demonstrations; he too was asked to resigned, purportedly because Gyatso was “concerned for his safety”.

Misrepresentation: NKT students are free to study other teachings if they wish, emphasis on devotion comes from the teachings of Pabongkha Rinpoche.

Clarification: Gyatso’s emphasis on guru devotion, particularly via the fundamental NKT practice of guru yoga, actually represents a hardening of Pabongkha’s perspective (as Pabongkhapa emphasized reliance on the teachings of his Geluk forefathers)… Gyatso, in his “Great Treasury of Merit”… declares:

Experience shows that realizations come from deep, unchanging faith, and that this faith comes as a result of following purely one tradition, relying upon only one teacher, practicing only his teachings, and following his dharma protector.

… in Kay’s words “Even the most exclusively oriented Geluk lamas, such as Phabongkha Rinpoche and Trijiang Rinpoche, do not seem to have encouraged such complete and exclusive reliance in their students as this.”

Misrepresentation: It can be shown that the ordination offered in the NKT is a completely valid ordination, and consistent with Lord Buddha’s teachings.

Clarification: Gyatso and his followers claim the ordination is based upon the Mahayana Perfection of Wisdom Sutras … specific scriptural citations, the commonest and most effective method of establishing the validity of assertions made in classical Buddhist texts, are sadly lacking and therefore it is difficult to establish the validity of these claims …

Misrepresentation: The ordination of the NKT was modernized to make it more practical and democratic.

Clarification: Gyatso claims his new system of ordination was invented for reasons of practicality.  Another possible though equally pragmatic reason is that when the NKT was founded, there were insufficient fully ordained monks within the organization to form the necessary quorum required for the transmission of the vows of the Vinaya.

Misrepresentation: Other Buddhist traditions hold this system of ordination as valid.

Clarification: The Australian Sangha Association, made up of Senior monastics of the Theravada, Tibetan and Chinese Mahayana Traditions issued this statement about NKT ordination:

all Buddhist traditions, have always insisted on the necessity of the conventional Sangha to hold Vinaya vows properly received in accordance with the prescribed rituals. The opinion of the ASA is that for NKT to present themselves to the public as authentic Buddhist monks and nuns is wrong and misleading.

Misrepresentation: Those working as volunteers at NKT centres while in some cases receiving social assistance do so in perfect accordance with the law.

Clarification: .… a fundamental requirement of the UK state benefits system is that claimants of unemployment benefit should be available for, as well as actively seeking, employment in order to qualify for that assistance. One ex member, who worked as a cashier in the organization between 1992 and 1993, alleges that many of those within NKT during that period satisfied neither of those requirements, and that they were rather working full-time for the organization. He cited a number of examples:

  • working full-time for NKT while claiming to be unemployed
  • working part-time for the organization while claiming to be unemployed
  • studying full-time on the TTP and claiming benefits, robed members were reported to change into lay clothes borrowed from other residents before visiting their local job centre to register and claim benefits.
  • claiming rent at one NKT centre while living and working part time at others.

Misrepresentation: There is not a shred of evidence of members of the Shugden movement being connected to the government of the People’s Republic of China.

Clarification 1: “In March 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that, at the same time the Chinese government was involved in the destruction of mainstream Buddhist temples, it was rebuilding Shugden monasteries in Tibet.

Clarification 2: “native Tibetan monks are given permission to travel to India by the Chinese government on the condition that they are devotees of the (Shugden) deity.

Clarification 3: Chimme Tsering, the secretary of the Dorje Shugden Devotees’ Charitable and Religious Society (DSDCRS) in Delhi, met a representative from the Chinese embassy in Nepal to draft a letter to the Chinese government asking for their help in raising the profile on the issue of discrimination against Tibetan Shugden practitioners in India.

Clarification 4: In February 2001 DSDCRS organized a “Millenial conference on Human Rights” whose guest of honour was the Chinese ambassador to India. On February 1st 2004, two more officials from the Chinese Consulate in Delhi also met with DSDCRS senior Lobsang Yeshe in Mysore, South India.

Clarification 5: Lama Gangchen, an outspoken proponent of Shugden in Italy, has demonstrable ties to the Chinese government. At Ganchen Monastery in Shigatse Monastery, local Chinese authorities tried to compel monks to accept Gangchen as their spiritual guru and begin Shugden practice. Since (surprisingly) the monastery had no prior history of worshiping the deity, they refused. Monks who continued to refuse the government officials insistence on Shugden and Gangchen, were threatened with arrest, detention and imprisonment.

Photo of Shugden followers celebrating Losar 2013 with Chinese Embassy. Friends identified on this photo lama Ajo from Serpom monastery, lama Gyatso who ger recently in Tibet to criticise HH Dalaï Lama there, as well as US Shugden leaders, Phuntsok and Dechen Tulku. Dechen Tulku is the man who appeared recently on very contraversed photo with Jamyang Norbu.

Photo of Shugden followers celebrating Losar 2013 with Chinese Embassy. Friends identified on this photo lama Ajo from Serpom monastery, lama Gyatso who ger recently in Tibet to criticise HH Dalaï Lama there, as well as US Shugden leaders, Phuntsok and Dechen Tulku. Dechen Tulku is the man who appeared recently on very contraversed photo with Jamyang Norbu.

For China’s involvement see also

Dalai Lama protests 2014: Shugden group in Oslo / Norway

The International Shugden Community (ICS) – which is the third front organisation of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) – have planned three days of demonstrations under the Dalai Lama’s Oslo visit. A senior member of the NKT’s Facebook commented this two days ago in the following manner:

This hypocrite will be in Oslo tomorrow – scene of his false award for peace by the Nobel Committee.

The protesters claim a “hidden intensive persecution campaign of thousands of Tibetan citizens in exile” that they wish “to draw world attention to” … (read more)

For a background of the group and a verification of their claims by independent experts see the following article by theForeigner. The journalist has done his job and consulted Dr Nathan W. Hill, Lecturer in Tibetan and Linguistics at London University SOAS’ (School of Oriental and African Studies) as an expert in the religious / political matter and INFORM as experts about New Religious Movements:

… the Dalai Lama is often accused by the pro-Shugden side as suppressing freedom of religion.

“This accusation makes no sense,” states Dr Hill. “The Dalai Lama is not head of any state; he has no military or police at his command; he has no political jurisdiction over which he can exercise suppression.”

“Some members of the Gelug sect left the authority of the Dalai Lama in order to follow what they see as a purer form of religion. These people may not be very popular in other parts of the Gelug sect, but their human rights have not been violated nor their freedoms suppressed; even if some people did want to suppress or silence the pro-Shugen side, they simply have no means of doing so,” Dr Hill concludes.

INFORM also remarks that a significant number of former NKT members report having been encouraged to join in protests against the Dalai Lama. These individuals have noted that any positive mention of the Dalai Lama at NKT meditation centres was (usually quietly) discouraged by the NKT teachers.

Moreover, INFORM state they received an enquiry from someone attending an NKT centre based in Sweden in connection with the current anti-Dalai Lama protests in Oslo. The person reported that Kelsang Tubchen was travelling to Sweden to encourage students and teachers in Sweden to attend these.

ISC press spokesperson Rachael Jeffrey tells The Foreigner there are no formal links between the ISC and NKT.

Read more …

The NKT ran protests already in 1996–98 against the Dalai Lama via the Dorje Shugden Supporter Community and they picked up the campaign again in 2008 via Western Shugden Society. For the Western Shugden Society campaigning NKT editors took over and manipulated all related Wikipedia articles in April 2008 (and these articles are still a mess today).

For the 2014 campaign the NKT founded a new front organization, the International Shugden Community. While during the first campaign in 1996-98 the media had the time and money to investigate the allegations and to offer their readers a balanced and critical account about the protesters, their assertions, the facts and the background of the group (see The Independent, The Guardian (PDF), and BBC) during the new wave of protests, from 2008 onwards, almost ALL international media repeated the allegations of the group without consulting independent academic experts / scientists. And even when they did, like the Time magazine, they misrepresented experts as Robert Barnett (Columbia University) pointed out. During the US vist of the Dalai Lama in March 2014 this pattern repeated itself again. In many cases the Shugden campaigners were able to mislead and misinform the media and spread these information on YouTube, Wikipedia etc. If you check all of this it is very hard even for a good minded and open person to understand what is true and what is not true.

After quite a while of media numbness in this matter there seems to be a bit of a shift, where the false allegations are being corrected and the background of the protesters is being investigated a bit more deeply than just repeating their claims …

See also

Of course for all of us who were or are directly affiliated or followed the NKT it is clear that it is NKT who run, organize and perform the protests, no matter if NKT followers lie to the press again and again. As we former members know, the “brainwashing” in NKT can be quite effective to repress memory and the events of the past. As a reminder here what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the founder of the NKT, wrote himself:

Cc NKT Central Office, Gen-la Khyenrab, Gen-la Dekyong, Managers & community of KMC Florida and Parbawatiya Center

Letter #1, sent April 13, 2008

Dear Resident Teachers and Administrative Directors of NKT Dharma Centers,

You have received a copy of the letter sent to Sera Lachi, Sera Je and Sera Mey by The Western Shugden Society. From this you can understand that it is very possible that The Western Shugden Society will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama. Concerning this issue, we should know five things:

1. The demonstrations will be organised by The Western Shugden Society, not by the NKT.

2. The Western Shugden Society is the unification of all the Western Shugden practitioners, and NKT is a part of this main body.

3. When the main body, The Western Shugden Society, organises demonstrations, the NKT needs to voluntarily contribute and help.

4. There is no basis to break our constitution or internal rules because this is not organised by the NKT.

5. The Western Shugden Society organising the demonstrations is not for the purpose of the six monks only, it is the method to prevent the destruction of the pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa, and to stop the extremely forceful campaign that the Dalai Lama is doing now to eradicate completely the practice of Dorje Shugden in India and other countries through unlawful actions.

We should recognise that the NKT is not involved politically, simply supporting The Western Shugden Society with these demonstrations. Peaceful demonstrations are respected by democratic governments, it is the position of the people, we should take this opportunity, there is no other method to stop the Dalai Lama´s campaign against Dorje Shugden practitioners.

There are three wheels of Dharma activities: 1) the wheel of studying Dharma, 2) the wheel of meditating on Dharma, and 3) the wheel of working for the Dharma. These demonstration actions are included within the wheel of working for the Dharma. Please keep this pure motivation.

With love and prayers,

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Letter #2, sent prior to April 27, 2008

My Dear Students,

I need help from you to solve the Dorje Shugden problem created by the Dalai Lama. Right now the Dalai Lama is removing the Tibetan Shugden worshipers from the Buddhist community saying that Shugden worshipers are not Buddhist because they worship an evil spirit – Shugden. At the same time he is preparing to remove western Shugden worshipers from the Buddhist community with the same reasons. His aim is to destroy the pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa´s doctrine. To stop this evil action, as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted.

Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need.

With much love and prayers

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

NKT Office
Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre
Conishead Priory
Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 9QQ
[+44] (0)1229 588 533
http://www.kadampa.org http://www.kadampa.org

The NKT and Its Relationship With Truth: Should People in Glass Houses Throw Stones?

GUEST POST by Joanne Clark

Several months ago, I posted an article on this blog revealing significant flaws in the Tharpa Publications’ translation of Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life by Shantideva. I gave examples of verses in which the Tharpa translation not only differs significantly from other translations, but also is at odds with Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s own commentary on that text. In fact, I found forty-eight such verses! In another ten verses I found discrepancies between the Tharpa translation and other translations that were not at odds with Geshe Kelsang. In the comment section following my post, no one seemed particularly concerned about this trouble—and it appears that NKT students and establishment are not concerned either. So in the interests of bringing high quality Dharma to the West, I would like to bring this subject up once more!

Shortly after I posted the article, I wrote to Tharpa Publications myself and told them of these problems. I have received no response from this email and at this moment, months later (8:27 AM, March 12, 2014), Tharpa still proudly displays this statement on their website, advertising their own (seriously flawed) translation of the text:

Composed in the 8th century by the famous Indian Buddhist master Shantideva, this new translation, made under the guidance of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, conveys the great lucidity and poetic beauty of the original, while preserving its full impact and spiritual insight. Reading these verses slowly, while contemplating their meaning, has a profoundly liberating effect on the mind. The poem invokes special positive states of mind, moves us from suffering and conflict to happiness and peace, and gradually introduces us to the entire Mahayana Buddhist path to enlightenment. (see here)

In case NKT readers doubt the accuracy of my own research, I have provided a verse-by-verse examination below. Perhaps this will save Tharpa translators some trouble and they can get started on the important work of fixing the text! That was my initial motivation in contacting them. Now I also want to inquire why they show so little concern for the truth? Why they proudly advertise the authenticity of a text that might have flaws?

The silence of Tharpa reminds me forcibly of conversations I have had on the website Dialogue Ireland with individuals who have been maliciously maligning the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist lamas—in fact, they are maligning all lamas except for Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Their vitriol and anger reminds me of what I see reflected on the faces of those NKT and Shugden protestors outside of Dalai Lama events.  When I first read the DI comments, they were written with such force and conviction that I was a little frightened they might be true. It challenged my faith. However, I forced myself to investigate. I forced myself to stay true to myself and not let fear govern my actions. I read peer-reviewed histories of Tibet. I read biased histories of Tibet. I read the writings of the Trimondis. I read Communist Chinese propaganda. I also happen to know quite a bit about the activities of HH Dalai Lama myself because he is my teacher and I study from him daily— but I read more of his books and his autobiographies. I listened to Mind and Life Conferences.

The result of my investigation did not particularly surprise me. I discovered that every malicious allegation made by commenters on DI that I investigated was either an outright falsehood, a careless error, an exaggeration, a mis-translation, a complete fabrication, or a quote or fact taken totally out of context.  What’s more, whenever I exposed a falsity or fabrication, I was called a “lamaist cult follower” and the truth of my statement was completely ignored.  This was my first direct experience of this anti-Dalai Lama machine, being initiated by Chinese and Shugden propaganda—and carried forward, it seems, by NKT students.

It seems that my comment to Tharpa was received in the same manner—it was simply disregarded as non-important, probably on the basis of my identity as a devotee of the Dalai Lama—and they simply continued business as usual. This surprised me. Even in the context of simple, proper business conduct, such allegations are usually investigated. I believe that any other publisher would at least reply to my email and investigate the trouble. Further, as a Buddhist practitioner, I find Tharpa’s disregard for the accuracy of their translation of this most sacred of texts to be disturbing at best.

Perhaps this is like translating a Tibetan word with no clear, exact English equivalent into one evocative word—BAN—and writing it on posters and placards to insight protest. These protestors are the same students who are given a flawed translation of an ancient Buddhist scripture and told that it “conveys the great lucidity and poetic beauty of the original, while preserving its full impact and spiritual insight.” Is this deception?

Recently, I have been reading commentaries by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and comparing them to those by my own teacher, HH Dalai Lama. This exercise has been very beneficial to my practice and has deepened my own understanding of Dharma. It has also deepened my faith in the Dalai Lama, whose approach to the Dharma is truly quite remarkable. Is there an NKT student anywhere who would do the same, who would study from HH Dalai Lama in order to investigate how his approach differs from and coincides with the approach being taken by their own lama? Would they ever challenge their faith—in order to make it firm? If not, how can NKT students justify their actions outside Dalai Lama teachings?

Recently, I read a news article from San Francisco in which protestors told the media that they were protesting against the Dalai Lama’s “lavish lifestyle.” I wondered if someone had decided that the Shugden issue wouldn’t sit as well with Western media as this familiar Western issue of “lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous”. Of course, I cannot know what formed the basis of that new idea. But I ask the NKT protestors who spoke to the media if they have ever actually investigated the Dalai Lama’s lifestyle? Are they aware that he accepts no money for teaching? Are they aware of how much he donates to charities? Have they walked through his modest home in India? Are they aware that he wakes at 3:30 am to practice and meditate and study and eats little if any dinner?

When I first began commenting on this website, I discovered an error in a post written by Tenzin, the website owner. In my first comment, I exposed this error. Tenzin’s response was immediate. He investigated, apologized and revised his post. I believe that this does not simply demonstrate Tenzin’s good and honest character—it also demonstrates that he is a sincere practitioner of Dharma. In my little understanding of Buddhist study and practice, students learn to challenge their own beliefs and attitudes constantly in order to deepen their understanding and remain true to themselves.  Is this lacking in the approaches being taken within NKT? Why is Tharpa silent?  It seems that until they can clean up their own house, until they can have the courage to acknowledge and then fix their own errors, they have no right to sit in judgment on the Dalai Lama. They have no right to call him a liar.

Last October, I attended a teaching on the Heart Sutra by HH Dalai Lama in New York City. While I was waiting in line outside Beacon Theater, there was a small band of protestors shouting “Dalai Lama go home!”

I remember smiling to myself and thinking how silly that sounded and thinking, “The Dalai Lama would love to go home!” But then I looked at the face of the elderly Tibetan woman in front of me. She looked hurt and confused. I wondered about the life of that woman, whether she had suffered much in Tibet and whether she had family there still whom she worried over. And then I looked at the red-faced protestors and wondered if they ever gave a thought to Tibetans being human beings. If they ever wondered about the suffering Tibetans had endured in Tibet. Did they ever stop to understand how important the Dalai Lama is to Tibetans, how he inspires them and helps them to maintain hope in the face of terrible tragedy?

I believe that most NKT students are caring, decent Dharma practitioners who would never intentionally harm others. In this context, I simply want to call on them to investigate before their next protest.  Find out where truth lies. Find out if Tibetans have suffered badly at the hands of Chinese. Find out if they deserve to be maligned and abused any further.  Find out if the Dalai Lama is a horrible demon—or simply a religious leader who takes his responsibilities seriously and has made a controversial decision based on information and reasons.  Investigate, investigate. And please, fix the Shantideva translation! Clean your own house before you throw stones at another!

Verses About Which GKG Concords With Padmarkara Translation Group and Not Neil Elliott

(49 Verses)

Some of these discrepancies might seem minor and insignificant to Western eyes. Some are clearly large and important. However, I cannot possibly presume myself capable of distinguishing between which words of Shantideva’s are important enough to be translated exactly and which are not really very important. I can only hope that the translations being made into modern English stay as close as they possibly can to the original intention of Shantideva—and leave it to the great masters to make commentaries on the entire meanings.

Sometimes it has seemed to me as if Neil Elliott is interpreting based on what he believes to be Shantideva’s intended meaning—instead of translating the actual Tibetan or Sanskrit words. This is most probably what accounts for the important discrepancy in Verse 2 in Chapter One. Sometimes, Neil Elliott even decides to add some poetic flourishes of his own, adding his own simile or descriptive phrase.  This I find disturbing.

I did my best to copy these verses exactly as I have found them. However, I am bound to have made typos and errors and for these I apologize.

Chapter One:

Verse 2:

Tharpa:

“…My reason for writing this is to benefit others…” (p. 5)

Padmakara Translation Group (PTG):

“I thereby have no thought that this might be of benefit to others…” (p.33).

GKG’s commentary: “Also, since he has no skill in the art of rhetoric or poetry, he has no intention of benefitting others who have already understood the teachings of Buddha.” (p. 14)

Chapter Two:

Verse 34-35

 Tharpa:

“…I have committed many kinds of evil action
With respect to my friends and others.”
And yet my friends will become nothing
And others will also become nothing…” (p.20)

PTG:

“… for the sake of friend and foe alike,
Provoked and brought about so many evils.”
“My enemies at length will cease to be;
My friends and I myself
Will cease to be…” (p. 44)

GKG:

“… Out of my ignorance, I committed much non-virtue for the sake of my relatives and friends, and did much evil trying to destroy my foes… I understand now that my enemies, my relatives and friends, and even myself will all eventually pass away and become as nothing… ” (p.80)

Chapter Five: Many errors by Tharpa

Verse 35:

Tharpa:

“… But always with a resolute mind,
Be mindful of my gaze.” (p.52)

PTG:

“…But rather with a focused mind
Will always go with eyes cast down.” (p. 67)

GKG:

…”We should cast our eyes downwards and look at the ground on which we are about to tread…” (186)

Verse 37:

Tharpa:

“To avoid dangers or accidents on the path,
I should occasionally look in all directions,
And prevent my mind from being distracted
By relying upon conscientiousness.” (p. 53)

PTG:

“And yet, to spy the dangers on the road,
I’ll scrutinize the four directions one by one.
And when I stop to rest, I’ll turn my head
And look behind me, back along my path.” (p.67)

GKG:

“[37] As we continue walking, we should occasionally look in the four directions to be certain there are no dangers or obstacles.” (p. 186)

Verse 45:

Tharpa: “Whenever I listen to any sort of talk
Whether pleasant or unpleasant
Or observe attractive or unattractive people,
I should prevent attachment or hatred towards them.” (p. 54)

PTG: “And if by chance you must take part
In lengthy conversations worthlessly
Of if you come upon sensational events,
Then cast aside delight and taste for them.” (p. 68)

GKG commentary: “…when we are associating with people engaged in senseless chatter or when we are watching a spectacle or a drama, we should keep our mind free from all attachment.” (p. 190)

Verse 46

Tharpa: “If for no reason I begin to perform actions
That cause damage to the environment
I should recall Buddha’s advice
And, out of respect, stop straightaway. (p. 54)

PTG: “If you find you’re grubbing in the soil
Of pulling up the grass or tracing idle patterns on the ground,
Remembering the teachings of the Blissful One
In fear, restrain yourself at once.” (p.68)

GKG: [46] Unless there is some purpose for our doing so, we should not dig the earth, cut the grass, draw patterns on the ground or engage in any other meaningless activity. We should recall the advice of the enlightened beings, bring to mind the heavy consequences of mindlessness and refrain from all senseless actions.” (p. 190)

Verse 59: The setting in this and following verses is a Charnal ground—and there are references to vultures and jackals eating the flesh as a means to diminishing attachment to the body. The Tharpa translation misses the references to Charnal grounds completely—whereas both GKG and PTG keep that context.

Tharpa: “If mind, you are concerned
About death taking this body from you
And its being burned or buried beneath the ground,
Why do you cherish it so now?” (p. 56)

PTG: ‘When vultures with their love of flesh
Are tugging at this body all around
Small will be the joy you get from it, O mind!
Why are you so besotted with it now?” (p. 70)

GKG commentary: “Why do I cherish this body so strongly? Why do I guard it and think that it is mine? When death separates us from our physical form, we shall depart alone without friends. Who will guard our body then? …Who will inherit our body once we have died? In some countries the discarded body becomes a banquet for vultures and jackals…” (p.198)

Verse 60: I see no reference in any translation of the body being “borrowed from others” and don’t know what it means—is it an addition from Elliott?

Tharpa: “Why, mind, do you hold this body as mine
And grasp it with such affection?
It is only borrowed from others
And will soon be taken from you.” (p.57)

PTG: “Why, O mind, do you protect this body,
Claiming it as though it were yourself?
You and it are each a separate entity,
However can it be of use to you?” (p. 70)

GKG: “We are not the same as our body and soon we shall be separated from it. Therefore, is there any meaning or purpose in protecting and being attached to it?” (p. 199)

Verse 66: And once again, Elliott misses the reference to charnal grounds:

Tharpa: “It is suitable to protect it and care for it
Only for attaining spiritual goals—
This body of a human being
Should be used just for practicing Dharma.” (p. 57)

PTG: As second best, it may indeed be kept
As food to feed the vulture and the fox.
The value of this human form
Lies only in the way that it is used. (p. 71)

Stephen Batchelor: “At second best it is only fit to be guarded
In order to feed the vultures and jackals.
(Truly) this body of a human being
Should only be employed (in the practice of virtue). (p.45)

GKG: “…Perhaps the only reason we are guarding our body is to be able to feed it to the vultures and jackals later on. The only reason for us to be protective of our bodies is if we are going to use it for the practice of virtue.” (p.200)

Verse 67:

Tharpa: “But if you guard it for other purposes
What will you be able to do
When the merciless Lord of Death seizes it
And reduces it to a pile of ashes?” (p.58)

PTG: “Whatever you may do to guard and keep it
What will you do when
The Lord of Death, the ruthless, unrelenting,
Steals and throws it to the birds and dogs?” (p. 71)

GKG: “…Otherwise, we are doing nothing more than preparing food for jackals.” (p. 200)

Verse 69: In this verse, Elliott adds his own piece of advice about not grasping and ignorance, words and meaning I cannot find in any other translation—or in GKG’s commentary.

Tharpa: “In exchange for paying my body its wages,
I will employ it to create virtue for myself and others;
But I should not grasp it as “mine”
Because such grasping is a form of ignorance.” (p. 58)

PTG: “So pay this body due remuneration,
But then be sure to make it work for you.
But do not lavish everything
On what will not bring perfect benefit.” (p. 72)

Stephen Batchelor: “Now having paid my body its wages,
I shall engage it in making my life meaningful.
However, if my body is of no benefit,
Then I shall not give it anything.” (p.45)

GKG: “We should be glad to pay it its proper wages if it helped us to engage in the practice of Dharma for our own and others’ benefit, but critical and strict whenever we discovered that it was not benefitting anyone.” (p. 200)

Verse 81: Elliott’s meaning is much less clear than the other two translations, which also lend themselves very well to GKG’s commentary.

Tharpa: “With either a cultivated motivation
Or one that arises spontaneously
I should always sow seeds of great virtue
In the fields of holy beings and living beings.” (p.60)

PTG: “Always fired by highest aspiration,
Laboring to implement the antidotes,
You will gather virtues in the fields
Of qualities, of benefits, of sorrow.” (p. 73)

Stephen Batchelor: “Always being motivated by great aspiration,
Or being motivated by the remedial forces,
If I work in the fields of excellence, benefit and misery,
Great virtues will come about.” (p.47)

GKG: “Whenever we think to engage in a particular practice we should first contemplate its benefits and thereby develop a strong aspiration for what we are about to do… Shantideva now mentions three groups of objects to which our virtuous activities can be directed. These he refers to as the ‘field of excellence,’ the ‘field of benefit’ and the ‘field of suffering.’” (pp. 203-204)

Verses 88-91: These verses make one wonder if Elliott is reading the same text as everyone else, including his own teacher!

Tharpa: “I should listen to Dharma
With respect and a good heart,
Recognizing it as the supreme medicine
For curing the pains of anger and attachment.

“I should teach the vast and profound Dharma with a pure intention
Free from any wish to acquire wealth or reputation;
And I should always maintain a pure motivation of bodhicitta
And make great effort to put Dharma in practice.

“I should explain Dharma to release those who are listening
From samsara, the cycle of suffering,
And to lead them to the ultimate goal—
The attainment of full enlightenment.

I should keep places clean and not throw litter
But dispose of it correctly.
Moreover, I should not defile
Water or land used by others.” (p. 61)

PTG (consonant with others) translate as follows:

PTG: “Do not teach to those without respect
To those who like the sick wear cloths around their heads,
To those who proudly carry weapons, staffs or parasols,
And those who keep their hats upon their heads.
Do not teach the vast and deep to those
Upon the lower paths, nor, as a monk,
To women unescorted. Teach with equal honor
Low and high according to their path.

Those suited to the teachings vast and deep,
Should not be introduced to lesser paths.
But basic practice you should not forsake,
Confused by talk of sutras and of mantras.

Your spittle and your toothbrushes,
When thrown away, should be concealed.
And it is wrong to foul with urine
Public thoroughfares and water springs.” (pp. 74-75)

GKG: “[88] Dharma should never be taught to someone who lacks respect either for us or for Dharma itself. Teaching such a person will not benefit him or her and will only create downfalls, or obstacles, for ourself… Shantideva next gives a detailed account of the circumstances in which it is improper to teach Dharma. Because teaching should only be given to those who have the proper attitude we should never teach anyone whose dress, manner or bearing demonstrates disrespect. This would include those who cover their heads though they are not sick, those who have not put down their umbrellas…

“[89] When trying to discriminate between proper and improper teaching situations we should take into account the general expectations and preconceptions of the society in which we live. For example, in many societies it is considered shameful for a man to remain alone with an unaccompanied woman unless that woman is somehow related to him. In such societies, therefore, it would bring great disrespect to Dharma for a male teacher to give Dharma to an unaccompanied woman… As far as the contents of our teachings are concerned, we should try to determine the capacity and inclination of our listener’s mind. If a student has a small disposition, we should not force the profound and vast teachings of Mahayana upon him… [90] we should not lead someone into the Hinayana path if he or she has a strong desire to receive Mahayana teachings. And, of course, under no condition should we ever forsake the Bodhisattva way of life…

[91] It is also important to observe good hygiene. We should not spit wherever we like, or throw our cleaning implements, such as the sticks used in India for cleaning teeth, on the ground without covering them up. Neither should we defecate or urinate on the banks of rivers, near water or in any place frequented by others. (pp. 209-210)

Chapter Six

Verse 32:

Tharpa: “If all things were like illusions, who would restrain what?
Surely any restraint would be inappropriate.”
On the contrary, it is precisely because things lack inherent existence
That it is possible to assert the continuum of suffering can be cut.” (p.74)

PTG: “Resistance,” you may say, “is out of place,
For what will be opposed by whom?”
The stream of suffering is cut through by patience;
There’s nothing inappropriate in wanting that!” (p. 82)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: Sanskrit: “[Qualm] ‘Averting anger is inappropriate, for who averts what?’
“[Response] That is appropriate, because it is a state of Dependent Origination and is considered to be the cessation of suffering.”
Tibetan: “[Qualm] ‘What counteracts what? Isn’t even the counteracting inappropriate?’
[Response] ‘There is nothing inappropriate in asserting that miseries are brought to an end in dependence on that.’” (p. 65)

Stephen Batchelor: “–(If everything is unreal like an apparition) then who is there to restrain what (anger)?
Surely (in this case), restraint would be inappropriate—
It would not be inappropriate, because (conventionally) I must maintain
That in dependence upon restraining (anger) the stream of suffering is severed.” (p.58)

GKG: “It might be argued that if everything is like an illusion, who is there who should restrain what anger? Surely all such restraint would be inappropriate in a world of illusions. But this objection is not correct. Although all things are like illusions in that they lack self-existence, suffering is still experienced. Severing this stream of suffering depends upon the efforts we exert in restraining such delusions as our anger. Although things lack independent existence—in fact, because they lack independent existence—cause and effect operate to bring suffering results from non-virtuous actions and beneficial results from virtuous ones. “(p233)

Verse 84: In this verse, Elliott has translated a meaning markedly different from other translators and his own teacher.

Tharpa: “People become angry when someone benefits their enemy,
But whether their enemy receives benefit or not,
It is the enemy’s own anger that urges him to attack;
So it is that anger which is to blame, not the benefactor.” (p. 83)

PTG:  “If someone else receives a gift,
Or that gift stays in the benefactor’s house,
In neither case will it be yours—
So given or withheld, why is it your concern? (p. 90)

GKG: “[84] Suppose someone gives our rival some money. The jealousy and unhappiness we feel about this will not do anything to change the situation. Whether that person gives money to our rival or not, there is no way in which we are going to receive that money. So why should we be jealous?” (p. 247)

Verse 87: Here, Elliott gives a nice verse, but it is doubtful that it is what Shantideva wrote!

Tharpa: “The thought that wishes for our enemy to suffer
Harms only us, through creating non-virtue.
Understanding this, we should not develop harmful thoughts
Toward anyone, including our enemy.” (p. 83)

PTG: “If unhappiness befalls your enemy,
Why should this be a cause for rejoicing?
The wishes of your mind alone,
Will not in fact contrive his injury.” (p. 90)

GKG: “[87] There is no reason to be happy and joyful when our enemy meets with suffering. How does such a jealous reaction hurt our enemy or benefit ourselves?” (p. 247)

Verse 90-91: Elliott is consonant with others in Verse 90, but then construes his own conclusion to that verse, which differs from other interpretations, including that of his own teacher.

Tharpa: “Praise, fame and good reputation
Will not increase my merit or extend my life,
Nor will they give me strength, freedom from illness,
Or any form of physical pleasure.

Transient pleasures, such as drinking and playing meaningless games,
Are deceptive.
If I understand the real meaning of a human life,
Such things will have no value for me.” (p. 84)

PTG: “The rigmarole of praise and fame
Serves not to increase merit or one’s span of life,
Bestowing neither health nor strength
And nothing for the body’s ease.

If I am wise in what is good for me,
I’ll ask what benefit these bring.
If it’s entertainment I desire,
I might as well resort to alcohol and cards!” (p. 91)

Stephen Batchelor: “The honor of praise and fame
Will not turn into merit or life;
It will give me neither strength nor freedom from sickness,
And will not provide any physical happiness.
If I were aware of what held meaning for me,

What value would I find in these things?
If all I want is (a little) mental happiness,
I should devote myself to gambling, drinking and so forth.”

(p.68)

GKG: “[90] To answer this doubt we have to examine the value of fame, reputation, praise and the like. How do these benefit us? Will others’ opinions help us to develop our minds, ensure our long life or prevent us from becoming sick?… [91] If our only interest is in obtaining the transient pleasures of a good reputation, wealth and sense gratification, there is no fault in behaving the same heedless way we have always done and continuing to neglect our spiritual training…” (p. 248)

Verse 123: Here, Elliott simply provides his own poetic image, a nice one, but not likely the one that Shantideva intended!

Tharpa: “If we harm a child,
There is no way to please its mother.
In the same way, if we harm any living being,
There is no way to please the compassionate Buddhas.” (p. 89)

PTG: “Just as when a man who’s tortured in a fire,
Remains unmoved by little favors done to him,
There’s no way to delight the great compassionate buddhas,
While we ourselves are causes of another’s pain.” (p. 95)

GKG: “[123] someone who is ablaze with fire finds no pleasure in receiving food and delicacies. Similarly, if we harm sentient beings and then offer elaborate gifts to the compassionate Buddha, these offerings will never please him.” (p. 254)

Chapter Seven

Verse 20: Once again, Elliott seems to miss Shantideva’s essential point.

Tharpa: “Some people might be discouraged out of fear
Of having to sacrifice their flesh,
But this is due to not understanding
What we should give, or when.” (p. 98)

PTG: “’That I must give away my life and limbs
Alarms and frightens me’—if so you say,
Your terror is misplaced. Confused,
You fail to see what’s hard and what is easy.” (p. 101)

GKG: “[20] When we hear about the great sacrifices that the great Bodhisattvas in the past have made while traveling the path we may become discouraged. The thought of giving up our flesh as they did fills us with great fear and we do not even want to contemplate such a ghastly experience. This fear, however, only arises because we are unable to discriminate between great and small suffering.” (p. 269)

Chapter Eight:

Verse 21: Here, Elliott has provided his own simile, with a meaning not consonant with any other translator or his own teacher. Unfortunately, according to my teachers, this verse is an important one, with an important meaning.

Tharpa: “Why am I unhappy when someone criticizes me
And happy when I am praised?
Both criticism and praise are just empty words,
Like echoes in an empty cave.” (p. 116)

PTG: “Why should I be pleased when people praise me?
Others there will be who scorn and criticize.
And why despondent when I’m blamed,
Since there will be others who think well of me?” (p. 113)

Stephen Batchelor: “If there is someone who despises me,
What pleasure can I have in being praised?
And if there is another who praises me,
What displeasure can I have in being despised?” (p. 92)

GKG: “Moreover, [21] there will always be some people who praise us and others who will despise us. So what pleasure can there be in being praised, and what displeasure from being despised?” (p. 296)

Verse 43: The setting for this verse is a traditional Indian wedding—Elliott appears to provide his own commentary instead of translating the actual scene as described by other translators.

Tharpa: “When we are very attached to someone
We want to see their face again and again;
But whether we see their face or not,
The real face always remains covered with skin.” (p. 120)

PTG:  “Oh what pains you went through just to draw the veil,
And lift the face that modestly looked down.
That face which, looked upon or not,
Was always carefully concealed.” (p. 116)

GKG: “[43] In ancient India, whenever a man encountered a woman, her face was hidden by a veil. Even at the marriage ceremony, her face would be covered and she would be very bashful….” (p. 305)

Verse 44: Elliott once again misses the meaning completely, once again missing the setting of a charnel ground.

Tharpa: “If we were to remove that skin,
We would realize that they are not an object of desire
But an object of aversion;
So why do we develop attachment for others’ bodies?” (p. 120)

PTG: “That face for which you languished so…
Well, here it is, now nakedly exposed.
The crows have done their work for you to see
What’s this? You run away so soon?” (p. 116)

GKG: “If this unveiling of a woman’s face can have such a magnetic effect on a man, [44] why is he not similarly attracted when, after death, her face is uncovered by vultures? Why does he not want to copulate with her then? Her body is still there but the man only wants to run away from it.” (p. 305).

Verse 45: And Elliott continues to miss the charnel ground setting in the following verses.

Tharpa: “Although we jealously guard our lover from others’ advances,
The Lord of Death will take him from us
And his body will be burned or buried in the ground;
So what is the point of our jealousy and attachment?” (p. 120)

PTG: “That body that you guarded jealously
And shielded from the eyes of other men,
What, miser that you are, you don’t protect it,
Now that it’s the food of graveyard birds?” (p. 116)

Stephen Batchelor: “(Previously) I completely protected (her body)
When others cast their eyes upon it.
Why, miser, do you not protect it now,
While it is being devoured by these birds?” (p. 96)

GKG: “[45] Lecherous men cherish a woman’s body so much that if another man were merely to look at her, great jealousy would arise. If this is the case, why do we not protect her when the vultures are tearing her to pieces with their beaks?..” (p. 306).

Verse 46: Once again, Elliott misses the charnel ground setting.

Tharpa: “Others’ bodies to which we are very attached
Are just collections of flesh and bone.
At any moment, they could be destroyed by the Lord of Death;
So why develop attachment to them?” (p. 120)

PTG: “Look, this mass of human flesh,
Soon to be the fare of carrion beasts,
You deck with flowers, sandalwood, and jewels,
And yet it is the provender of others!” (p. 116)

Stephen Batchelor: “Since vultures and others are eating
This pile of meat that I behold,
Why did I offer flower garlands, sandalwood and ornaments
To that which is now the food of others?” (p. 96)

GKG: “[46] Why go to the trouble of offering flower garlands, sandalwood and ornaments of gold and silver to something that will shortly be devoured by others?” (p. 306).

Verse 48: Because Elliott has missed the context of the wedding and the charnel ground, his translation here is rendered meaningless.

Tharpa: “Since both dead bodies and living bodies
Are mere collections of flesh and bone,
Why am I attracted to living bodies but not to dead ones?
Thinking in this way, I should stop attachment to others’ bodies.” (p. 121)

PTG: “You loved them once, when clothed and draped they were.
Well, now they’re naked, why do you not want them?
Ah, you say, your lust is no more there,
But why did you embrace them, all bedecked and covered?” (p.117)

GKG: [48] It is also strange that we are attached to her body when it is covered with skin and clothed, but repulsed by it when it lies exposed on the charnel ground.” (p. 306)

Verse 49: Here, it seems that Elliott has translated a word meaning “excrement” to mean “urine.” Also, he translates “food” to mean “fluids.”

Tharpa: “Both saliva and urine come from the same source—
The intake of fluids into the body—
So why is it that we like saliva when kissing
But have no desire for urine?” (p. 121)

PTG: “From food, a single source, come equally
Their body’s filth, the honey-nectar of their mouths.
So why are you delighted by saliva,
And yet revolted by excrement?” (p. 117)

Stephen Batchelor: “Since both excrement and saliva
Arise solely from food,
Why do I dislike excrement
And find joy in saliva?” (p. 49)

GKG: “[49] When we kiss a woman we drink the saliva from her mouth. Why is it that we like this spit that arises solely from the food she has eaten but not her urine and excrement, which arise from the same source?” (p. 306)

Verse 51: Here, Elliott simply misses the meaning.
Tharpa: “Just as we sometimes get angry at other people,
Why don’t we also get angry at pillows?
For although they too are soft to touch,
We cannot copulate with them!” (p. 121)

PTG: “Lustful ones, befuddled by desire,
Because you cannot copulate with them,
You angrily find fault with pillows,
Even though they’re smooth and soft to touch!” (p. 117)

Stephen Batchelor: “Thinking that they cannot sleep with this cotton,
Although it is soft to the touch,
Confused, negative and lustful people
Become angry towards it instead.” (p. 97)

GKG: “[51] But we are so confused that we cannot tell the difference between what is clean and what is unclean. If we find our pillow uncomfortable one night we are liable to get angry with it, but we never become upset with the discomfort of sleeping next to the impure body of a woman.” (p. 306)

Verse 58: Once again, Elliott does not translate excrement as do other translators.

Tharpa: “If you do not want to touch a place
Covered with impurities such as vomit…” (p. 122)

PTG: “And since you’re disinclined to touch
A place or object grimed with excrement…” (p.118)

Stephen Batchelor: “Since I do not wish to touch
A place that is smeared with excrement…” (p. 98)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “If you do not desire to touch soil and the like because it is smeared with excrement…” (p. 96)

GKG: “If you do not want to touch a place that has been defiled by excrement or vomit….” (p. 307)

Verse 69: Elliott translates the last line in this verse with a meaning different from other translations and his own teacher.

Tharpa: “Putting so much effort into beautifying it
Is just like polishing a sword that will be used to harm you.
It seems the whole world is pervaded by this madness
Because people believe beauty is only external.” (p. 124)

PTG: “Why go to such excess to clean and polish
What is but a weapon that will injure us?
The cares that people squander on themselves in ignorance
Convulse the universe with madness.” (p. 120)

Alan & Vesna Wallace: “Why do you meticulously polish it like a weapon for suicide? The earth is crowded with insane people, diligent in deluding themselves.” (p. 97)

GKG: “[69] this is like polishing and sharpening a weapon that will eventually kill us. There is no reason to engage in activities that will do nothing but harm us, yet this is precisely what people all over the world are constantly doing. They are deeply confused about what is virtuous and non-virtuous, what is clean and unclean.” (p. 309)

Verse 71:

Tharpa: “Furthermore, we do not come to enjoy others’ bodies
Without acquiring material possessions.
We exhaust ourself in non-virtuous activity to gather these
Only to experience suffering in this life and the lower realms
In the next.

PTG:  What’s more, possession of another’s filth
Is not to be acquired free of charge
All is at a price: exhaustion in this life,
And in the next, the sufferings of hell!

GKG: “[71] Furthermore, its basically impure nature is not the only disadvantage of the desirable body of others. We should realize that in order to engage in the sexual act, we tie ourselves ever tighter to the unsatisfactory aspect of samsara. As stated before, we forfeit our wealth, act non-virtuously and work with great difficulty merely to possess the object of our desire. Because of all this we encounter many problems during this lifetime and create the cause to descend to the lower realms where we shall experience even more suffering.” (p. 309)

Verses 97-98: Once again, Elliott misses the meaning—completely in both verses.  I have intentionally highlighted the “not” in Verse 98 and the “is” in GKG’s commentary to show the discrepancy.

Tharpa: “But why should I protect others
If their suffering does me no harm?
If we cherish only others, we find their suffering hard to bear;
So we definitely need to protect them.

It is not a wrong conception to think
That it will be I who experience the future suffering,
Because it will not be another person who dies
And yet another who is reborn.” (p. 129)

PTG:  “Since pains of others do no harm to me
What reason do I have to shield myself?
But why to guard against “my” future pain which
Does no harm to this, my present “me”?

To think that “I will have to suffer it”
In fact is but a false conception—
In the present moment, “I” will perish;
At another time, another will be born.” (p. 124)

GKG: “ As I said before, there is no reason for me to protect others from their misery. It causes me no harm. Then why do we work to eliminate the sicknesses of old age coming in the future or even the discomforts of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow? These future sufferings will do us no harm today. But if such misery is not prevented now I shall experience it in the future. This is a misconception. The self of this life will not experience the suffering of future lives.” (p.335).

Verse 100: Once again, Elliott’s meaning is different from others.

Tharpa: “We alleviate the suffering of the foot with the hand
Because it is a specific method to relieve this pain.
It is also incorrect to grasp at an independent self and others—
Such grasping should be completely abandoned.” (p.129)

PTG: “’This may be irrational,’ you’ll say.
‘It happens simply through the force of ego clinging.’
But that which is illogical for both of us
Should be refuted and dispensed with utterly!” (p. 124)

Stephen Batchelor: “—Although this may not be justified
It is done because of grasping at a self—
Yet surely whatever is not justified for myself or others
Should at all costs be rejected.” (p. 105)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “If one argues that even though it is inappropriate, it happens because of grasping onto a self, our response is: With all one’s might, one should avoid that which is inappropriate, whether it belongs to oneself or to another.” (p. 102)

GKG: “[100] It is inappropriate to relieve the suffering of our foot and of our future lives because we grasp on to these as ‘my foot’s suffering’ and ‘my future life’s suffering.’

It is completely unjustified to cling to the independent existence of the self and the independent existence of others. It is important to stop this grasping at independent existence because this has been the root cause of our floundering in the swamp of samsaric suffering since beginningless time.” (p. 336)

Verse 118:

Tharpa: “Out of his great compassion,
Arya Avalokiteshvara even blessed his own name
To relieve living beings from the fear of self-cherishing;
So I should recite his name mantra to receive his blessings.” (p. 132)

PTG: “This is why the Lord Avalokita
Out of great compassion blessed his name,
That those caught in the midst of multitudes
Might be released and freed from every fear.” (p. 127)

Vesna & Alan Wallace (Sanskrit): “Therefore the protector Avalokita empowered his own name to remove even one’s fear arising from timidity in front of an audience.” (p. 104)

GKG: “[118] The superior bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, out of his great compassion, sought to alleviate peoples’ fears by blessing his own name. He proclaimed, ‘If frightened sentient beings recite my name three times they will be free from all their fears…’” (p. 343)

Verse 181: Once again, Elliott misses the charnel ground analogy.

Tharpa: “Whether I care for it in the way that I do
Or allow it to be harmed by others,
The body itself develops neither attachment nor anger;
So why do I feel so attached to it?” (p. 143)

PTG: “Whether I protect and pamper it,
Or whether it is torn by beaks of carrion birds,
This body feels no pleasure, no aversion—
Why then do I cherish it so much?” (p. 136)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “Whether it is nurtured by me or eaten by vultures, it feels neither affection nor aversion, so why am I fond of it?” (p. 112)

GKG: “[181] Although we spend a lifetime caring for this body and guarding it strongly, in due time, it will be eaten by vultures.” (p. 361)

Chapter Nine

Verse 8: GKG’s commentary clearly comments on the PTG translation and not Elliott’s.

Tharpa: “No, there is no fault, because things exist by conventional, valid cognizers.
From the point of view of worldly people, seeing things is seeing reality;
But worldly people never actually see reality
Because the real nature of things is their emptiness.” (p. 149)

PTG: “Then know that there’s no fault. For momentariness
Is relative for meditators, but for the worldly, absolute.
Were it otherwise, the common view
Could fault our certain insight into corporal impurity.” (p. 138)

GKG: [8] Thus there is no contradiction between the Yogis’ understanding and our statement that things exist merely conventionally… In the world, the body is regarded as something pure and clean but in reality it is not. If it were, then the view of the worldly people would harm the Yogi’s realization that the nature of the bodies of ordinary men and women is impure.” (p. 381)

Verses 41 – 44 in the Tharpa translation are clumped together and so it is not certain exactly which verse is which. However, the GKG commentary follows the translation by PTG, up until Verse 43—and follows Stephen Batchelor’s translation up until verse 44. The overall meaning of Elliott’s translation of those verses misses the point. I have done my best to demonstrate this.

Verse 41:

Tharpa: “‘Because we do not believe in the Mahayana, your
Quoting from Mahayana scriptures is pointless.’
We both believe that the Hinayana scriptures are valid;
So you should apply your reasons for believing the Hinayana equally to the Mahayana.
Thus we understand that both are the holy Dharma taught by Buddha
Himself.” (p. 156)

PTG: “You say the Mahayana has no certainty.
But how do you substantiate your own tradition?
‘Because it is accepted by both parties,’ you will say.
But at the outset, you yourself lacked proof!” (p. 143)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “[Hinayanist:] The Madyamaka is certainly not authenticated.
[Madyamaka:] How is your scripture authenticated?
[Hinayanist:] Because it is authenticated by both of us.
[Madyamaka:] Then it is not authenticated by you from the beginning.” (p. 120)

GKG: “Hinayanist: The citations you are using to establish your point are from the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, which are Mahayana texts. [41] But we do not except that the Mahayana scriptures are the word of Buddha, so it is of no avail to try to prove your points on the basis of their authority…”

Prasangika: For that matter, how are your own scriptures established as the word of Buddha?

Hinayanist: Our Sutras are clearly the word of Buddha because both of us accept them as such.

Prasangika: Nevertheless, those Sutras were not established as the word of Buddha for you before you accepted the validity of your tradition.” (p. 397)

Verse 42: Here, it almost seems to me as if Elliott is providing his own commentary, missing Shantideva’s point completely.

Tharpa: “Because they do not understand its profundity,
The Vaibashika schools deny the Mahayana;
And because they do not believe in nirvana,
Some non-Buddhist schools deny the Hinayana.” (p. 156)

PTG: “The reasons why you trust in your tradition
May likewise be applied to Mahayana.
Moreover, if accord between two parties shows the truth,
The Vedas and rest are also true.” (p. 143)

GKG: “[42] These reasons are equally able to establish the Mahayana Sutras as the word of Buddha. Also, just because two people accept something as true, this is no real proof. If it were, then since many people believe the Vedic scriptures to be true, it would follow that they are true.” (p. 397)

Verses 43-44:

Tharpa: “Buddha’s purpose in teaching both the Mahayana and the Hinayana
Was to lead living beings to permanent liberation from the cycle of Suffering.
Focusing on this ultimate aim, practitioners of both the Mahayana and the Hinayana
Emphasize the three higher trainings of moral discipline, concentration and Wisdom.” (p. 156)

PTG: “’Mahayana is at fault,’ you say, ‘because it is contested.’
But by non-Buddhists are your scriptures also questioned,
While other Buddhist schools impugn and spurn them.
Therefore, your tradition you must now abandon.”

“The true monk is the very root of Dharma,
But difficult it is to be a monk indeed.
And hard it is for minds enmeshed in thoughts
To pass beyond the bonds of suffering.” (p. 143)

Stephen Batchelor: “Vaibhashika: (43) The Mahayana scriptures are not credible because they are disputed.

Madyamaka: However, since all your scriptures are disputed by the non-Buddhist and some by other Buddhist schools, you should reject your own scriptures, too. (44) You accept any teachings which can be classified into the three scriptural categories (Tripitaka) as the word of the Buddha, according to whether it discusses the higher training of moral discipline, concentration or wisdom. If this is so, since these three trainings are taught in most Mahayana scriptures, such as the ‘Samdhinirmochana Sutra,’ they are therefore similar to your scriptures. Why then do you not accept them as the word of the Buddha?” (p. 131)

GKG: “Hinayanist: [43] There is much dispute about the Mahayana scriptures; thus their credibility is put into question.

Prasangika: The Hinayana scriptures are greatly disputed by the followers of the non-Buddhist schools yet you do not question their credibility… Therefore if you can reject the validity of the Mahayana Sutras on the grounds that they are under dispute, you should equally reject the validity of your own scriptures.

[44] For you the criterion for a sutra being considered as the word of the Buddha is if it can be included within the Tripitaka: the three sets of scripture. Most of the Mahayana Sutras teach all of the three higher trainings; therefore they too can be included in the Tripitaka. If you accept the teachings of the first turning of the Wheel of Dharma as the word of Buddha, why do you not accept the teachings of the second and third turnings as well?” (p. 397)

Verse 47:

Tharpa: “The principle holders of Buddhadharma were said to be those who have
Attained Nirvana, the Arhats;
But the Arhats that you proponents of things assert
Cannot be real Arhats because, according to your view,
Their minds still grasp at truly existent things.” (p. 157)

PTG: (as in verse 44): “The true monk is the very root of Dharma
But difficult it is to be a monk indeed.
And hard it is for minds enmeshed in thoughts
To pass beyond the bonds of suffering.” (p. 143)

GKG: “[47] After Buddha’s passing away, the monk Arhats were those who upheld and were responsible for the propagation of the Buddha’s teachings. They became like the root of the teachings. However if, as you maintain, they had not understood that all phenomena are devoid of true existence, it would be extremely difficult to maintain that they were actual Arhats. It is impossible for there to be an Arhat, a being liberated from samsara, who still clings to true existence.” (p. 398)

Verse 65: Elliott renders a different meaning here to other translators, as well as his own teacher.

Tharpa: “’It’s like an actor changing roles and being seen in different aspects.’
Well, if the I changes in this way, it cannot be permanent!
Although the aspects change, its nature remains one and the same.’
But you cannot establish an unchangeable nature of the I, because you
Deny the ultimate nature of I, the lack of a truly existent I.” (p. 161)

PTG: “’But like an actor,’ you will say, ‘it takes on different roles.’
If so, this consciousness is not a changeless thing.
‘It’s one thing,’ you will say, ‘with different modes.’
That’s unity indeed and never seen before!” (p. 146)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “If it is the same thing taking another guise, like an actor, he too is not permanent. If he has different natures, then this unity of his is unprecedented.” (p. 123)

GKG: “Samkya: [65] The self is like an actor who is constantly forsaking one role and assuming another. When the conscious self apprehends visual form, it ceases to apprehend sound.

Prasangika: In that case, it would follow that the self is impermanent because, just like an actor, it changes its role and aspect.”

Samkya: There is no mistake because although the aspects change its nature remains one and the same. Hence, the apprehender of sound has the same nature as the apprehender of visual form.

Prasangika: So you assert that two unrelated phenomena—the apprehenders of sound and of visual form—can be of one nature. But such a proposition has never been heard of before.” (p. 410)

Verse 125: Elliott’s translation here definitely lacks the clarity of the other translations.

Tharpa: “If effects such as suffering are produced without Ishvara’s wishing for them,
It follows that they are produced through the power of something other than him.
You say that all effects are produced according to Ishvara’s wishes,
But those wishes have no power to produce all things, so how can Ishvara
Be the creator of everything?” (p. 174)

PTG: “If Almighty God does not intend,
But yet creates, another thing has forced him.
If he wishes to create, he’s swayed by his desire.
Even though Creator, then, what comes of his Omnipotence?” (p. 155)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “If Ishvara creates without desiring to do so, it would follow that he is dependent on something other than himself. Even if he desires to create, he is dependent on that desire. Whence is the supremacy of that creator?” (p.130).

GKG: [125] The god Ishvara can have no wish to produce the effect of suffering; this is something produced by our own actions. But if this is so you can no longer maintain that Ishvara is the creator of all possible effects. Alternatively, you would have to maintain that he is responsible for the unsought sufferings of the beings he created.

“Moreover, if all effects were wished for by Ishvara, it would follow that creation depends upon the wishes of Ishvara. These wishes are impermanent whereas Ishvara is permanent; now it seems that creation is not produced by the permanent Ishvara but by impermanent wishes. Therefore, how can you say that Ishvara is the cause of everything?” (p. 439)

VERSES WHERE GKG CONCORDS WITH THARPA BUT NOT WITH PTG

(10 verses)

Chapter 5, Verse 77: PTG and Stephen Batchelor interpret this verse to be in reference to finding happiness in rejoicing over the good qualities of others, whereas both Elliott and GKG simply see it as acting for others’ happiness. Given the context of the verses preceding it, I would expect that PTG and Batchelor’s meanings were more likely correct.

Tharpa: “I should perform all actions for others’ happiness.
This good quality is precious and rare,
And through it, I shall enjoy the pure happiness and joy
That arises from actions that benefit others. (p.59)

PTG: ‘The goal of every act is happiness itself,
Though even with great wealth, it’s rarely found.
So take your pleasure in the qualities of others.
Let them be a heartfelt joy to you.” (p.73)

Stephen Batchelor: “All deeds (of others) are the source of a joy
That would be rare even if it could be bought with money.
Therefore, I should be happy in finding this joy
In the good things that are done by others.” (p. 46)

GKG: “In brief, we should let all our actions of body, speech and mind be directed towards the happiness of others. Such beneficial conduct is rarely found in the world…” (p. 202)

Chapter 6, Verse 4:

Tharpa: “Overcome by a fit of anger,
I might even kill a benefactor
Upon whose kindness I depend
For my wealth or reputation.” (p.69)

PTG: “Noble chieftans full of hate
Will be attacked and slain
By even those who look to them
For honors and possessions. (p.78)

Stephen Batchelor: “A master who has hatred
Is in danger of being killed
Even by those who, for their wealth and happiness,
Depend upon the master’s kindness.” (p. 53)

GKG: “[4] Wishing to retaliate against those who have harmed us, we expose ourselves to great physical danger merely to exact our petty revenge. .. Sometimes this blind rage is even directed at our loved ones and benefactors.” (p. 217)

Chapter 7, Verse 13: Here, the difference of interpretation has to do with the question of whether someone is dying and “crying out like the gods” or whether we wish to “remain like a long-life god while living in the jaws of death.”

Tharpa: “I wish for higher attainments without having to make any effort,
Permanent freedom without having patiently to endure any pain,
And to remain like a long-life god while living in the jaws of death.
How foolish I am! When death comes, I shall be overwhelmed by suffering!” (p. 97)

PTG: “Much harm will come to those with small forbearance,
Who wish to have the fruit without endeavor.
Seized by death, they’ll cry out like the gods:
‘Alas I fall, by pain and sorrow crushed.’” (p. 100)

Stephen Batchelor: “Much harm befalls those with little forbearance
And those who want results without making any effort.
While clasped by death, they shall cry like the gods,
‘Oh no, I am overcome by misery.’” (p. 78)

GKG: “[13] We want to gain swift enlightenment without having to apply any effort, and we want to be happy without having to create virtuous causes. Furthermore, unwilling to endure the slightest discomfort we wish to vanquish all suffering, and while living in the mouth of the Lord of Death we wish to remain like a long-life god…” (p. 266)

Chapter 7, Verse 38: Here, the difference is between whether I have only accomplished my own discomfort in my mother’s womb—or her discomfort.

Tharpa: “Do I give help to those in danger?
Or relief to those who are suffering?
No! All I have done is experience the discomforts
Of being in my mother’s womb, and all the subsequent sufferings.” (p. 101)

PTG: “The frightened I have not encouraged
And to the weary I have given no rest,
My mother’s birth pangs and her womb’s discomfort,
These alone are my accomplishments!” (p. 103)

Stephen Batchelor: “I have not granted fearlessness to the frightened
And I have not given happiness to the weak.
All I have given rise to is
The agonies in the mother’s womb and to suffering.” (p. 82)

Vesna & B. Alan Wallace: “I have not granted fearlessness to the frightened, nor have
I comforted the distressed. I became a spear in the womb just for my mother to suffer.” (p. 81)

Kate Crosby & Andrew Skilton: “I have not given fearlessness to the fearful, nor have
I comforted the afflicted. I became a barb in the womb solely to my mother’s suffering.” (p. 70)

GKG: “[37-38]…Have I granted fearlessness to people who are frightened by those in authority, robbers, adversaries, wild animals and so forth? Have I confessed all my non-virtues and accumulated a wealth of virtue? No I have done none of these things.

“We should take a good look at how our life has been spent. Since the agonies of our birth we have encountered the sufferings of sickness, ageing, not getting what we want and receiving what we do not want.” (p. 274)

Chapter 8, Verse 60: Did Shantideva himself actually write “thirty-six different kinds of impurity”?

Tharpa: “You have no desire for the body of an insect, however small,
That emerges from a pile of dung;
So why do you desire a gross, impure body
That is produced from thirty-six impure substances?” (p. 123)

PTG: “The fetid worms that live in filth—
You have no love for them, even little ones.
And yet you’re lusting for a human form,
From filth arisen, and replete with it!” (p. 119)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “You do not desire a dirty worm originating from filth because it is small, but you desire a body that consists of much filth and is also born from filth.” (p. 96)

Stephen Batchelor: “I have no wish for a small, dirty maggot
That has come from a pile of filth,
So why do I desire this body, which by nature is grossly unclean,
For it too was produced by filth?” (p. 99)

GKG: “[60] Not even a particle of desire arises in us for the small insect that arises from a pile of dung. Why then are we so attached to a body, made up of thirty-six different kinds of impurity?” (p. 307-308)

Chapter 8, Verse 104:

Tharpa: “But such compassion will bring me suffering
So why should I strive to develop it?
How can compassion bring suffering?
It is the very nature of a peaceful mind!” (p. 130)

PTG: “’The sorrow felt in pity aggravates,’ you say
‘The pain already felt. So why engender it?’
But can the sting of pity be compared
With all that other beings have to suffer?” (p. 125)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “[Qualm]: Much suffering comes from compassion, so why should one force it to arise?

[Response]: After seeing the suffering of the world, how can this suffering from compassion be considered great?” (p. 102)

GKG: “[104-105] It is too much of a burden to cherish others as we do ourself. These others have limitless suffering. Why should I want to take on more suffering than I already have? If a bodhisattva had to experience more suffering in the course of helping other sentient beings overcome their misery, he or she would gladly endure it… But do not be concerned that such a being will have more suffering from his practices. When he sees someone in misery, his own great compassion protects him from experiencing any problems or suffering…” (p. 337)

Chapter 8, Verse 152: This is a clear difference of interpretation. Whose hair pores are tingling? In this verse, it seems that the entire purpose of this particular visualization practice has been missed by GKG and Elliott.

Tharpa: “When others hear of my good qualities
As they are proclaimed to the world
May they experience so much delight
That their hair pores tingle with excitement.” (p. 138)

PTG: “Just to hear them talk about my qualities,
My reputation on the lips of all,
The thrill of it sends shivers down my spine,
The pleasure that I bask and revel in!” (p. 131)

Vesna & Alan Wallace (Sanskrit): “Hearing my own good qualities being praised everywhere in this way, thrilled, with my hair standing on end, I shall enjoy the delight of happiness.” (p. 108)

GKG: “… May my superior qualities and realizations be known to all beings and, as a result, may they develop such bliss that their hair pores tingle with delight!…” (p. 355)

Chapter 9, Verse 3: GKG and Elliott later run into trouble with their interpretation of this verse.

Tharpa: “Of those who assert the two truths, two types of person can be distinguished:
Madyamika-Prasangika yogis and proponents of things.
The views held by the proponents of things, who assert that things are truly existent
Are refuted by the logical reasonings of the Prasangika Yogis.” (p. 148)

PTG: “Two kinds of people are to be distinguished:
Meditative thinkers and ordinary folk;
The common views of ordinary people
Are superseded by the views of meditators.” (p. 137)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: “In light of this, people are seen to be of two types: the contemplative and the ordinary person. The ordinary folks are superseded by the contemplative.” (p. 116)

GKG: “The views of the common Yogis who assert that all things are inherently existent are refuted by the logical reasonings presented by the Yogis who hold the Prasangika viewpoint, such as Shantideva.” (p. 370)

Chapter 9, Verse 4: GKG demonstrates the trouble with his and Elliott’s interpretation. In one line he interprets this verse as referring to the many levels of insight of the Prasangika. In the next line, he says that Shantideva’s purpose in mentioning the different levels of understanding of yogis is to point out that “the Prasangika the he represents is superior to and cannot be contradicted by any of the other philosophical schools.” It seems he is contradicting himself and would have done better to have interpreted both verses as did PTG.

Tharpa: “Moreover, among the Prasangika Yogis, there are different levels of insight-
Those with greater understanding surpassing those with lesser understanding.
All establish their view through valid, analytical reasons.
Giving and so forth are practiced without investigation for the sake of achieving resultant Buddhahood.” (p. 148)

PTG:  “And within the ranks of meditators,
The lower, in degrees of insight, are confuted by the higher.
For all employ the same comparisons,
And the goal, if left unanalyzed, they all accept.” (p. 137)

GKG: “[4] Furthermore, yogis holding the Prasangika view include those with many levels of insight; therefore, those with higher levels of understanding surpass and go beyond those with lesser degrees of realization. (It should be noted that a Yogi is someone who has achieved the concentration of the union of tranquil abiding and superior seeing.) But why is it necessary for Shantideva to mention the different levels of understanding of Yogis? He does so in order to point out that the Prasangika that he represents is superior to and cannot be contradicted by any of the other philosophical schools.” (p. 370)

Chapter 9, Verse 49: Because I have a lot of trouble getting my mind around the idea of a “non-deluded confusion”, I’m afraid I prefer the PTG translation, which makes sense to me. I’ll leave this debate up to those wiser than myself!

Tharpa; “The abandonment that Arhats achieve is not temporary.
They definitely do not take rebirth in samsara again.
But just as you say that they have non-deluded confusion,
Why not also say they have non-deluded craving?” (p. 157)

GKG (agrees): “Proponent of things: [49] The abandonment of delusions that we attain through meditating on the sixteen characteristics of the four noble truths is not temporary but final, and it includes the abandonment of all impurities as well. Such Arhats are free from craving, the principle cause for being born in samsara; thus there is no chance of their being born in samsara again.”

Prasangika: For you there are two kinds of confusion: deluded and non-deluded confusion. If you can talk of a non-deluded confusion then why not of a non-deluded craving? Such a craving would then have to be possessed by your so-called Arhats. Although temporarily they may not have the craving derived from grasping at a self-supporting, substantially existent self, they will still have the craving derived from grasping at a truly existent self.” (p. 399)

PTG: (as in Verse 46): “’Only for a while,’ you say. ‘For it is certain
That the cause of rebirth, craving, is exhausted.’
They have no craving, granted, through defiled emotion.
But how could they avoid the craving linked with ignorance?” (p. 143)

Vesna & Alan Wallace: (as in Verse 46): “If you think that as long as there is no craving there is no grasping onto rebirth, why could their craving, even though free of mental afflictions, not exist as delusion?”

Footnote: “The Pranjika p. 208: ‘As the lack of knowledge (ajnana) that is free of mental afflictions.’ The point here is that according to the Abhidharmakosha, there are two types of delusion: afflictive and non-afflictive. Thus, Shantideva is suggesting that there may similarly be both afflictive and non-afflictive craving and that Sravaka Arhats may be subject to non-afflictive craving.” (p. 121)

Stephen Batchelor: “Vaibhashikas: Although they (49) temporarily are not freed from suffering, as soon as they abandon their disturbing conceptions, they will be freed when they leave their bodies because they definitely do not have any craving for the aggregates of body and mind, which is a principle condition for conditioned existence.

Madyamaka: Yet while they still have a form of craving that is a completely undisturbing state of confusion, why would they not take rebirth with aggregates contaminated by actions and disturbing conceptions?

And footnote on the term “completely undisturbing state of confusion” : “Nyon-mongs ma-yin pa’I rmongs-pa According to the Hinayanists, the subtle confusion existent in the mind of an Arhat that distinguishes that state of realization from that of a Buddha.”

Sources Cited

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, 2007, Meaningful to Behold, Tharpa Publications, Glen Spey, N.Y.

Shantideva, (Padmakara Translation Group translator) 2003, The Way of the Bodhisattva, Shambhala Publications, Boston, MA.

Shantideva (Neil Elliott translator) 2002, Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Tharpa Publications, Glen Spey, NY.

Shantideva (Stephen Batchelor translator) 2010, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, India.

Shantideva (Vesna A Wallace & B. Alan Wallace translators) 1997, A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, NY.

Kelsang’s monks and nuns protest again, accusing the Dalai Lama of religious persecution and human rights abuses

His Holiness the Dalai Lama just met US President Barack Obama and the American people, while a Western Shugden group launched via the newly founded International Shugden Community (ISC) a PR Campaign to attack him.

Here is some background information about this Shugden group and a response to the group’s Feb. 19, 2014 PRWEB attack, and the subsequent street protests staged in San Francisco by Prof. Robert Thurman – posted with kind permission.

The Background of the Shugden Group

Behind these protests is a controversial UK-based New Religious Movement called the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), founded in 1991 by the Tibetan Kelsang Gyatso. Ex members harmed by the group have founded a self-help support group, New Kadampa Survivors, a group which currently has 1224 members. In recent years, Inform, an independent charity providing information about what many refer to as ‘cults’, sects, New Religious Movements (NRMs), non-conventional religions etc. and which is based at the London School of Economics and was founded by Professor Eileen Barker, received more inquiries about NKT than about Scientology. Indeed the NKT was explicitly mentioned in their leaflet “Extremism on University Campuses”.

It is not the first wave of protests that was initiated and conducted by Kelsang Gyatso and the NKT under the guise of a front organization. It’s already the third world wide media campaign of that group against the Dalai Lama. Unlike the first campaign in  1996-98¹ the last two campaigns (2008-ca. 2013) and the new campaign in 2014 demonstrate a severe inability and a thorough lack of investigation of the international media in their reports about who the protesters are and what their background is. So far I have not seen any newspaper article, TV news or video that provides proper background information about the protesters.

NKTDemo.98(4)_fs

NKT’s first world wide campaign from 1996–98 under the name Shugden Supporters Community (SSC). Here Germany, Berlin 1998

The NKT launched the first campaign against the Dalai Lama – according to NKT’s Newspeak a “ruthless dictator” and “oppressor of religious freedom” – under a front group with the name Shugden Supporters Community (SSC) in 1996-98.¹ In 1998 Kelsang Gyatso wrote in an Open Letter to the Washington Times that “in October 1998 we decided to completely stop being involved in this Shugden issue because we realized that in reality this is a Tibetan political problem and not the problem of Buddhism in general or the NKT. We made our decision public at this time — everyone knows the NKT and myself completely stopped being involved in this Shugden issue at all levels.”

Loud is the noise that ordinary men make. Nobody thinks himself a fool, when divisions arise in the Sangha, nor do they ever value another person higher than themselves. – The Buddha, Mahavagga

PRpema

Kelsang Pema (Helen Gladwell), personal assistant of Kelsang Gyatso and spokes person of the Western Shugden Society (WSS), speaks to the press

However, some years later he changed his mind and asked (or better pressurized) his students² by writing to them “To stop this evil action, as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organize demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted. Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need. With much love and prayers, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso”. Kelsang Pema, a NKT nun, was at this time his personal assistant. With Kelsang Pema as the spokes person a second campaign was launched under a new front group, the Western Shugden Society (WSS), from 2008–ca.2013.³ The Dalai Lama was depicted by the NKT/WSS/Kelsang Gyatso as a “21st Century Buddhist Dictator”, a “liar”, “the saffron robed Muslim”, a man whose “real nature is cruel and very evil”. Pema was later stripped form power by Kelsang Gyatso due to unexplained reasons.

SanFrancisco-010

NKT resident teacher Rebecca Gauthier and spokes person of the International Shugden Community (ISC) speaking to the press in San Francisco

For the campaigning from 2014 onwards the NKT founded again another front group, the International Shugden Community (ISC), whose spokes person is Rebecca Foley / Rebecca Gauthier, NKT Resident Teacher at the Tushita Kadampa Buddhist Centre near Los Angeles and co-author of “The Celibate – Sex. Lies. Salvation.” (She seems to have married Len Foley, the other author of that book.) Len Foley has been mentioned in different press articles as another spokes person of the protesters.

NKT now runs the common PR strategy:

Hundreds of Buddhists⁴ Protest, Accusing the Dalai Lama of Religious Persecution and Human Rights Abuses

wss4

NKT resident teacher Gen Kelsang Rabten (left) protesting with other NKT followers under the second front group NKT founded, Western Shugden Society (WSS)
[Image & caption added by blog owner]

Impassioned protests against the Dalai Lama will be staged this week during his speaking engagements in California by the International Shugden Community. Demonstrators are accusing the Dalai Lama of using his political power to ban a mainstream religious practice and create a religious apartheid, segregation, and system of persecution in the Tibetan exile community, including refusal of medical treatment, violent attacks on citizens and making hundreds of monks homeless. http://www.prweb.com/releases/DalaiLama/ReligiousDiscrimination/prweb11592622.htm

Len Foley, NKT teacher, co-author of “The Celibate – Sex. Lies. Salvation.” and inventor of the “bionic burger” goes in this video even so far as to mention the holocaust (0:57):

With respect to the claims the group makes Tibet scholar Robert Barnett from Columbia University said already to the editors of Time Magazine in the past:

I also made it clear that the Western Shugden group’s allegations are problematic: they are akin to attacking the Pope because some lay Catholics somewhere abuse non-believers or heretics. The Western Shugden Group is severely lacking in credibility, since its form of spirit-worship is heterodox, provocative and highly sectarian in Buddhist terms and so more than likely to be banned from mainstream monasteries – while its claimed concerns about cases of discrimination in India should be addressed by working within the Tibetan community instead of opportunistically attacking the Dalai Lama in order to provoke misinformed publicity for their sect.

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A Response by Robert Thurman, President, Tibet House US

Ever since 1997, when, according to detailed Indian police investigations, pseudo- monks who infiltrated to Dharamsala from China murdered the Venerable Lobsang Gyatso, a noted lama close to the Dalai Lama, and his two young disciples, the cult of the Dolgyal-Shugden spirit has been on the attack. The well-evidenced culprits were not tried as they escaped back into Tibet and China, but the cult continued its campaign at the behest of, and with substantial funding from, the United Front department of the People’s Republic of China, the agency handling relations with non-Chinese “minority nationalities.” The futile effort of the cult backed by the agency seeks to alienate Tibetans from the Dalai Lama, their beloved leader and even to turn world public opinion against the acclaimed Nobel Laureate and Gandhi heir. The final aim is to disrupt the Dalai Lama’s fifty-year-long nonviolent “truth and justice” campaign, to free the six million Tibetan people to be themselves in the special autonomous minority region offered them by the Chinese constitution, so far only on paper.

The cult and agency attack campaign is futile since its main claims are so easy to refute:

1) The worship of their chosen deity was not “banned” by the Dalai Lama, since he has no authority to “ban” what Tibetan Buddhists practice. “Banning” and “excommunicating” are not Tibetan Buddhist procedures.

Although they are Buddhists who should focus on emulating the Buddha, members of the cult are free to worship their chosen “protector deity,” whom they call Dorje Shugden, as much as they like. The young Dalai Lama himself did propitiate it as a minor worldly spirit or angel, until he studied the history of its cult and decided it was not a protector at all, but instead a mischievous “king” spirit known as Dolgyal (“king demon from Dol”). Once his historical studies brought him to that conclusion, he recommended that other lamas in his school cease their relationship, or at least keep it to themselves, since its liturgy contains condemnation of the minority sects of Tibetan Buddhism and of non-Buddhist religions. In the late 80s’, when certain individual lamas began to proselytize its cult, inducting even Western practitioners new to Buddhism, especially in England, he took the step of asking such persons to refrain from attending his initiations and associated advanced teachings, on the grounds that they were not following his advice and so should not take him as their teacher. They then went on the attack, claiming they had been “banned” and “excommunicated,” etc., when in fact the Dalai Lama was exercising his religious freedom by not accepting students who reject his advice, and actually go so far as to condemn him!

2) The cult of Dolgyal Shugden is that of a minor angel or demon, and never has been mainstream, To claim that “four million” people belong to it, or even “millions,” is untrue.

3) The members of the cult do not come from numerous Tibetan sects, but exclusively from the super-orthodox fundamentalists of the majority Gelukpa sect or order.

4) The Dalai Lama has never asked anyone to persecute anyone, and members of the cult who mind their own business and do not attack the Dalai Lama are not bothered by other Tibetans. Those who do attack the Dalai Lama with outrageous name-calling—”dictator,” “false lama,” even “demon,” and “liar,” etc., naturally do provoke the vast majority of Tibetans, who adore their Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama himself has never approved of either the provocations or any harsh responses, and remains steadfast in his adherence to nonviolence in principle and practice.

5) The whole fuss would have died down long ago except for the fact that the “hard-line” operatives of the “United Front Work Department” of the People’s Republic of China, the agency in charge of dealing with China’s “minority nationalities,” sees the cult as a potential wedge they hope to drive between the Dalai Lama and his people and between him and world opinion. They therefore fund the leaders of the cult in Tibet, Mongolia, India and the West, and provide them the means to carry on their expensive propaganda campaigns. Evidence for this is very plain on the surface. For example, the so-called “Panchen Lama” reincarnation, whom the Communist party chiefs appointed after abducting and disappearing the five year old boy properly chosen in the traditional way by a committee of his monastery with approval of the Dalai Lama, is shown on the internet in various photographs sitting in front of a large icon of Dolgyal Shugden, as a sign of aggressive defiance of the Dalai Lama. The obvious fact is that the clearly stated purpose of the cult and the United Front agency of the PRC is to try to prove to the world that the Dalai Lama is not as nice as we all think, but is a bad, even “evil,” person.

Whatever one believes about the reality of fierce angels or demons, it is clear that the leaders of the Dolgyal Shugden  cult have done nothing over the last 30 years but cause trouble, both to their own followers and to the unity of the Tibetan people, both in exile and in Tibet. It has benefited no one except those misguided operatives in the Chinese government who wish to destroy Tibetan Buddhist culture, in order to assimilate systematically deracinated Tibetans into becoming second class Chinese citizens, and thus, through such a policy of crushing the identities and even lives of the “minority nationality” Tibetans, to secure forever their claim to the vast territories and resources of the Tibetan plateau. But as we have seen all over the world—and as aware persons can attest here in America with our still very much present First Americans—history never does end, people do not give up their distinctive identities, and truth and justice inevitably arise from the ashes of even genocidal flames.

Those who would like to read a thorough study of the Dolgyal Shugden cult by a distinguished professional journalist, can download a kindle copy of R. Bultrini, The Dalai Lama and the King Demon, published by Tibet House US.

Robert A. F Thurman

President, Tibet House US

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Update March 3rd, 2014

Footnotes

¹ See some press articles from the UK like “Battle of the Buddhists” by The Independent, The Guardian’s Shadow boxing on the path to Nirvana, or the BBC documentary »An Unholy Row« (1998) about the New Kadampa Tradition and the Dorje Shugden Controversy. For a summery of this first campaign see here.

² Kelsang Gyatso for instance removed the NKT resident teacher and editor of his books, Lucy James, immediately from her positions and power when she dared to remind him of what he said in 1998, that the protests are political and that NKT (also according to the UK charity laws) should not engage in political actions. This set an example for all NKT people that those who object the protests will be removed from their positions and status.

³ From 2008 onwards the campaigning by the NKT students of Kelsang Gyatso included the manipulation of Wikipedia articles.

⁴ Those protesters who dress themselves in the Tibetan robes of Buddhist monks and nuns are not members of the monastic order of the Buddha, they are not even novice monks or nuns, and therefore they cannot act on behalf of those who are full members or partial members of the Buddhist monastic order, fully ordained monks and nuns or novice monks and nuns. However, they have of course freedom of speech but if slander is “freedom of speech” or an unethical or illegal act everybody has to check and judge for themselves.

  Last edited by tenpel on March 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm
(the Shugden/Panchen Lama image was removed,
new images were added,
Len Foley information and video were added,
a better introduction, a quote by Robbie Barnett  and two headlines were added,
added information about NKS & Inform,
added link to Bob Thurman article, Huffington Post
added Mahavagga quote from Buddha)

Is the NKT a Pure Lineage of Tsongkhapa? The Problem With Root Texts Within the NKT Study Program

GUEST POST by Joanne Clark

Online statements change frequently and I know that organizations, such as the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) evolve and change. However, at the time of this writing, (Dec. 8, 2013) these claims still appear on a NKT website as part of their statement of purpose. As stated by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (GKG) in 1998, they write:

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

Later in that same web page is stated:

The NKT exclusively teaches Je Tsongkhapa’s doctrine

All of Geshe Kelsang’s books, which are the core of the three NKT study programs, are based on Je Tsongkhapa’s commentaries to the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, Buddha Vajradhara, and other great Buddhist Masters.”[1]

The Nkt’s choice of the word “pure” in regard to their statement of purpose, is in itself problematic. However, that discussion is not my purpose here. Readers may view an examination of that topic here.

For my purposes here, I will be using the term “purity” to refer to a meaning of authenticity or correctness—and address NKT’s claim in that regard.

Even in that context, even without knowing anything about the NKT, such claims seem to be extraordinary. Anyone who knows anything at all about Tibetan history and has read any of the biographies of the Kadamapa masters, will be aware that Tsongkhapa’s lineage is a compilation of different lineages (Kagyue, Sakya, Kadampa) and emerged through the efforts of many translators, many scholars, and many extraordinary and realized meditators. The emergence of the Gelugpa was a joint effort of cooperation between different lamas, lineages and translators over hundreds of years. In light of this, GKG’s claim that he alone, with no assistance from Gelug practitioners, scholars or translators outside of NKT, is capable of bringing a pure tradition of Tsongkhapa to the West is quite remarkable!

For example, here is what is missing in the NKT study program from Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition:

  • there is no tradition of the Vinaya as practiced by Tsongkhapa (Vinaya constitutes the rules and commentaries for the ethics of monks and nuns)
  • there are no English translations of the 18 volumes of Je Tsongkhapa’s work in the NKT study program.
  • there are only two texts by Je Tsongkhapa himself in the NKT, the Three Principle of the Paths (two pages) and a lamrim prayer (one page)
  • there are none of the five Maitreya texts which form an important corpus in traditional Gelug study programs.
  • the study and practice of the combination of the three Highest Yoga Tantras, Guhyasamaja, Heruka and Yamantaka do not exist in NKT. These are central to the Gelug lineage and there is a good translation of Tsonkhapa’s commentary on Guhyasamaja available.

I believe that NKT students tread a difficult path. The NKT organization has placed itself well outside of mainstream Tibetan Buddhism—and yet NKT study programs are positioned in the center of mainstream Tibetan Buddhist study. Students are taught to revere Buddha, Nagarjuna, Atisha, Tsongkhapa and Shantideva, the same Buddhist masters that we in mainstream Tibetan Buddhist circles revere. They study from those masters. We also study from those masters. Yet oddly, students are lead to believe that NKT is somehow different, that NKT is “pure”.

Resulting from this is a likely inference that Gelug/Kadam study and practice outside of NKT is not “pure.”—not authentic. This inference results also from the fact that no texts by Tsongkhapa, Atisha, the Buddha, Shantideva, Nargajuna or any other teacher, translated outside of Tharpa Publications, is integrated into NKT study programs or even sold in NKT centers—and no commentaries by teachers other than GKG are studied within the study program. In that way NKT student are totally dependent on Kelsang Gyatso’s texts and if there are any faults in them, or if they miss important points of the path, they cannot go beyond these limitations or correct their misunderstandings derived from it. Therefore it is possible that this inside/outside path (pure/impure dichotomy) could place students at risk for some confusion!

In fact, so little attention is paid to the study of root texts in the NKT study program that the one translation of a major root text available to NKT students contains many errors. Moreover, these errors have not been noticed or corrected in the ten years that the book has been in circulation! This text is the Tharpa Publications translation of Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara. Last I counted, there were over 40 verses rendering a different meaning to that given in four other translations that I possess!  Worse still, many of these errors do not appear in GKG’s commentary on the text. Despite Tharpa’s claims that the translation was done “under the compassionate guidance of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso,” he seems unaware of the many errors that it contains!

Here are some stark examples. In the second verse of the text, Shantideva makes a gesture of humility as part of his statement of purpose in composing the text. He writes, as translated by the Padmakara translation Group (and consonant with other translations), “

I thereby have no thought that this might be of benefit to others…” (p.33).

However, the translator from NKT reads this line quite differently and writes,

“My reason for writing this is to benefit others…” (p. 3)

GKG commentary favors the mainstream translation:

“Also, since he has no skill in the art of rhetoric or poetry, he has no intention of benefitting others who have already understood the teachings of Buddha.” (p. 14)

So it appears that GKG is probably reading from the Tibetan and is unaware that his translators have a different rendition! (Of course, GKG does not see this statement as an expression of humility as do other commentators, but that discussion is not my purpose here.)

In Chapter Five, verses 88-91, the Tharpa translation gives a dramatically different rendition to that of other translations, making one wonder if they were reading a different text! Here is an example:

In Verse 88, the Tharpa translation reads:

I should listen to Dharma
With respect and a good heart,
Recognizing it as the supreme medicine
For curing the pains of anger and attachment. (p. 61)

The Padmakara Translation Group (and others) translate as follows:

Do not teach to those without respect
To those who like the sick wear cloths around their heads,
To those who proudly carry weapons, staffs or parasols,
And those who keep their hats upon their heads. (p.74)

How on earth could two such completely different renditions occur?

GKG’s commentary on verse 88 reads:

“Dharma should never be taught to someone who lacks respect either for us or for Dharma itself. Teaching such a person will not benefit him or her and will only create downfalls, or obstacles, for oneself … Shantideva next gives a detailed account of the circumstances in which it is improper to teach Dharma. Because teaching should only be given to those who have the proper attitude we should never teach anyone whose dress, manner or bearing demonstrates disrespect. This would include those who cover their heads though they are not sick, those who have not put down their umbrellas … “ (p. 14)

So GKG is clearly addressing the translation as given by the Padmakara Translation Group (and three other translators), unaware that the Tharpa translation renders his commentary meaningless! Translation by Tharpa of the three verses following, 89-91, have exactly the same trouble, rendering inexplicable meanings that do not accord with any other translations or even GKG’s commentary.

And this is not the only occurrence of such discrepancies. They happen numerous times throughout the text (I’ve lost count!). In Chapter Eight, there are six verses on just two pages alone that render an entirely different meaning to all other translations!

Here is an example of two of these verses:

In verses 43-44, the Tharpa translation reads:

43. When we are very attached to someone
We want to see their face again and again;
But whether we see their face or not,
The real face always remains covered with skin.

44. If we were to remove that skin,
We would realize that they are not an object of desire
But an object of aversion;
So why do we develop attachment for others’ bodies?

The Padmakara Translation Group and GKG both read these verses differently, placing the context in a charnal ground and also in a traditional Indian wedding:

43. Oh what pains you went through just to draw the veil,
And lift the face that modestly looked down.
The face which, looked upon or not,
Was always carefully concealed.

44. That face for which you languished so …
Well here it is, now nakedly exposed.
The crows have done their work for you to see.
What’s this? You run away so soon?

GKG’s commentary reads:

“[43] In ancient India, whenever a man encountered a woman, her face was hidden by a veil. Even at the marriage ceremony, her face would be covered and she would be very bashful … [44] why is he not similarly attracted when, after death, her face is uncovered by vultures? Why does he not want to copulate with her then? Her body is still there but the man only wants to run away from it.” (p. 305).

Then later in Chapter Eight, there is this discrepancy involving two important verses:

In verses 97-98, the Tharpa translation reads as follows:

97. But why should I protect others
If their suffering does me no harm?
If we cherish only others, we find their suffering hard to bear;
So we definitely need to protect them.

98. It is not a wrong conception to think
That it will be I who experience the future suffering,
Because it will not be another person who dies
And yet another who is reborn. (p. 129)

This is another very strange translation that misses Shantideva’s meaning completely. The Padmakara Translation Group (and all others, including GKG) provide an opposing meaning:

97. Since pains of others do no harm to me
What reason do I have to shield myself?
But why to guard against “my” future pain which
Does no harm to this, my present “me”?

98. To think that “I will have to suffer it”
In fact is but a false conception—
In the present moment, “I” will perish;
At another time, another will be born. (p. 124)

GKG writes, ignoring the Tharpa translation: “As I said before, there is no reason for me to protect others from their misery. It causes me no harm. Then why do we work to eliminate the sicknesses of old age coming in the future or even the discomforts of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow? These future sufferings will do us no harm today. But if such misery is not prevented now I shall experience it in the future. This is a misconception. The self of this life will not experience the suffering of future lives.” (p.335).

Here is another example of Tharpa’s translation troubles:

In Chapter Six, Verse 123, the Tharpa translation reads:

If we harm a child
There is no way to please its mother.
In the same way, if we harm any living being,
There is no way to please the compassionate Buddha. (p.89)

This is a very nice translation and does convey a meaning very close to what Shantideva intended. However, I don’t believe that it is what Shantideva actually wrote! Here is the translation from Padmakara Translation Group:

Just as when a man who’s tortured in a fire,
Remains unmoved by little favors done to him,
There’s no way to delight the great compassionate Buddhas,
While we ourselves are causes of another’s pain. (p.95)

And GKG’s commentary on this reads:

“someone who is ablaze with fire finds no pleasure in receiving food and delicacies. Similarly, if we harm sentient beings and then offer elaborate gifts to the Buddha, these offerings will never please him.” (p. 254).

Once again, he clearly favors the translation done by the Padmakara Translation Group!

These are a few examples of the errors I found in the Tharpa translation of the Bodhicharyavatara made “under the compassionate guidance of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.” Indeed, translators (and lamas) are only human and errors will happen. I myself study this text using four different translations because I know that there will be discrepancies. However, the errors in the Tharpa translation are more pervasive and significant than I have seen anywhere else, and they could render the entire translation flawed. That in itself is not alarming, because there are probably other flawed translations out there. Nor is it my intention to nit-pick. However, GKG has made an extraordinary claim by saying that he alone, without assistance from other translators or commentaries, is capable of bringing the Kadampa/Gelug tradition “purely” to the West. And my question is: How can he claim purity with errors such as these? With errors such as these, he can only claim to be human and to need more help from others!

I also wonder why no student of NKT has ever questioned this confusion—this text was published over ten years ago! Have they become so confused that they don’t even recognize confusion when it appears? Or perhaps they simply have never cultivated the habit of critically reading a root text in conjunction with a commentary.

Thousands of hours of work has been done to translate into English the Kangyur and Tengyur—to translate the great works of Tibetan scholars such as Tsongkhapa—to translate the works of the great scholars of ancient India. Much more work is still to be done. This work is being done because authentic Buddhism cannot be brought to the West without the root texts. That is the robust tradition that Tsongkhapa followed. If the NKT is sincere in “studying and practicing Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings and taking as [their] example what the ancient Kadampa Lamas and Geshes did,” then surely they would follow the tradition of diverse and extensive study of the many root texts upon which the Kadampa tradition relies? Surely they would put much emphasis on providing students with (accurate!) translations of these texts? Perhaps instead of seeking to follow a “pure” lineage of Tsongkhapa, they would do better to follow a robust lineage of Tsongkhapa, one that questions and investigates and makes cross-references—and isn’t afraid to read texts that come outside of their one, narrow view?

GKG writes in Understanding the Mind:

“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.”  (pp. 166-167).

Is that true? Or is there greater risk for confusion when students are not given opportunity to question and cross-reference many sources and texts, when they are denied full access to their critical faculty?

As the Buddha said,

Bhikshus and the wise should examine my teachings like goldsmiths analyze gold, by cutting, rubbing and scorching it. Examine my teachings in the same way and then put them into practice. Do not practice Dharma on the strength of blind faith alone.[2]

Contrary to this robust advice by the Buddha, the diet within the NKT study program could be called pre-digested, because all the study is interpreted by one individual alone. The root texts are almost exclusively provided to students through the one lens of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Pre-digested is the diet of invalids and babies. Does Geshe Kelsang believe that Westerners are incapable of digesting the rich diet of the ancient texts themselves? Incapable of receiving a full and nutritious diet?

Here is an example. In Lamrim Chenmo, Tsongkhapa writes extensively on the qualities necessary in a spiritual teacher. He quotes from authors such as Maitreya and advises students on how to show respect for the teacher, while still maintaining their ability to judge the teacher and critically analyze his/her teachings. He tells the story of Atisha and Serlingpa:

“The great Elder [Atisha] held the Madyamaka view and Ser-ling-ba held the view of a ‘true aspectarian’ Cittamatrin [Mind Only School]. Therefore, Atisha’s view was superior to that of Ser-ling-ba. Still, Atisha upheld Ser-ling-ba as the guru who was unrivaled amongst his gurus, because Atisha had obtained the spirit of enlightenment and a general presentation of the stages of the Mahayana path in dependence upon him.” (p. 82)

So yes, Atisha held Serlingpa in high esteem—however, he also refuted Serlingpa’s main philosophical standpoint. He did not allow reverence for Serlingpa to dull his own critical faculty. In the two major texts by GKG that I have viewed, Joyful Path of Good Fortune and Meaningful to Behold, there is no mention of Atisha’s philosophical differences with Serlingpa , though GKG does speak of Atisha’s great devotion for Serlingpa.

In addition, if one compares GKG’s main commentary on Lamrim, Joyful Path of Good Fortune with Tsongkhapa’s major commentary on Lamrim, Lamrim Chenmo, it appears that overall, GKG’s instructions on guru reliance are weighted towards blind faith, while Tsongkhapa’s are not. GKG advises us to view the lama as a Buddha, with the reasoning that the faults we see in our lama are actually faults in ourselves and our own faulty perceptions. In fact, I found no teaching whatsoever coming from GKG about how we are to act when the lama advises us to do something that is not in accord with the Dharma, no acknowledgement anywhere that lamas will have faults. He does not provide students with that important dimension to proper reliance on a spiritual teacher—nor does he allow them to believe their own eyes if they see faults.

On the other hand, Tsongkhapa acknowledges that lamas will have faults, saying “if you rely on nonvirtuous teachers and bad friends, your qualities will slowly diminish …” (p.90). He also quotes from several sources about what to do if the lama advises us wrongly: “… the Cloud of Jewels Sutra says, ‘With respect to virtue, act in accord with the guru’s words, but do not act in accord with the guru’s words with respect to nonvirtue.’” (86). Even in the context of the instruction “seeing the guru as Buddha,” Tsongkhapa’s advice is grounded in sound reason, steering students well away from blind faith. He reasons that focusing on the good qualities of our lamas, while ignoring their faults, will help us better cultivate those good qualities in ourselves. Unlike GKG, Tsongkhapa does not stress that it is our own misperception when we see faults in our lamas! He does not put blinkers on our eyes! Faults are faults—not seeing them is blindness. Not focusing on them is a useful training of the mind.

At least, that is my small understanding of Tsongkhapa’s instructions and how they differ from GKG’s. I don’t pretend that it is necessarily correct! I am simply trying to start a conversation, trying to demonstrate how studying commentaries beside the root texts can begin investigations that deepen our understanding and critical faculty. No one denies that NKT’s approach is one-sided. And I particularly don’t deny that GKG appears to be a very intelligent lama. However, I am asking if his approach is safe? Understanding the full diversity of Tsongkhapa’s advice to following a spiritual teacher—an approach that is similar to that taken by HH Dalai Lama in regard to Trijang Rinpoche, for example—is vital for Western students and it appears to be missing from the NKT study program. Students have no access to the extraordinary means—provided by Tsongkhapa himself—by which they can judge GKG’s commentaries—except those means provided by GKG!

There will be many who claim that I am attempting to “smear” the NKT. However, anyone who knows me will know that I also question practices within other Western Tibetan Buddhist organizations, such as Rigpa. I myself study and practice outside of mainstream Tibetan Buddhist communities because of some of the problems I have encountered. These troubles are not exclusive to the NKT, though I believe that the NKT has brought them to new and potentially very dangerous levels.

I believe that Westerners need to be having these conversations and asking these sorts of hard questions. Every Western Buddhist center that is reliant on a powerful, charismatic leader must be prepared to answer hard questions about the Buddhism being taught. If that Buddhism is weighted heavily towards the teachings and texts written by the powerful, charismatic leader, at the expense of the root texts of past masters, then questions need to be asked. Then students are at risk. Students are not being given the whole truth and then we can start talking about cults.

The NKT claims to be a “pure lineage” of Tsongkhapa—and yet they fail to provide students with a full study of Tsongkhapa’s teachings, one that includes the extraordinary breadth of his actual writings and thinking, as evident in those many root texts that have already been translated into English. They claim to provide a study of the Bodhicharyavatara—and yet the translation of the root text they study from is seriously flawed. I could be wrong, but I can see only two directions open to NKT. One is to simply use the translations of the root texts that are available (despite the fact that most have been done by mainstream Tibetan Buddhists and some are dedicated to HH Dalai Lama) and thereby create a fuller study program of Tsongkhapa’s lineage. The other option is simply to bite the bullet and admit that they are not pure Gelug, not pure Kadam, not pure Tsongkhapa nor Shantideva, but pure Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

Sources Used:

Tsonkhapa, (translated, 2000) The Great Treatise On The Stages of the Path; Volume One; Translated by The Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee; Snow Lion Publications; Ithaca, NY.

Shantideva, (translated 2003) Bodhicharyavatara; Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group; Shambhala Publishing; Boston, MA.

Shantideva (updated translation 2006); Bodhicharyavatara; Translated by the Padmakara  Translation Group; Shambhala Publishing; Boston, MA.

Shantideva (translated 1979); Bodhicharyavatara; Translated by Stephen Batchelor; Tibetan Works and Archives; New Delhi, India.

Shantideva (translated 1997); Bodhicharyavatara; Translated by Vesna A. Wallace and B. Alan Wallace;  Snow Lion; Ithaca, NY.

Shantideva, (translated 2002); Bodhicharyavatara; Translated by Neil Elliott “under the compassionate guidance of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso”; Tharpa Publications; Glen Spey, NY.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso; (revised 2007); Meaningful to Behold; Tharpa Publications; Glen Spey, NY.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso; (revised 1995); Joyful Path of Good Fortune; Tharpa Publications; Glen Spey, NY.

Gesehe Kelsang Gyatso (2002); Understanding the Mind: The Nature and Power of the Mind; Tharpa Publications; Glen Spey, NY.

The Dalai Lama and the King Demon – Dorje Shugden by Raimondo Bultrini

… the Buddhist movement never tries to destroy evil absolutely, as it would be evil to do so. Instead, it seeks to transform evil into good, turning even demonic entities into ‘protectors of freedom’ (dharmapala) or ‘world protectors’ (lokapala). To think that evil can be eradicated by destroying an external demon is to miss the ‘dark side’ within oneself, to destroy one’s own demonic unconscious potential, and hence actually to be taken over by the demon of one’s own egotism. – Robert A.F. Thurman

Cover Dorje Shugden / Dalai Lama Book by R. BultriniThose who are interested to get a broader and more detailed background knowledge about the Dorje Shugden controversy and their global players might find the book The Dalai Lama and the King Demon – Tracking a Triple Murder Mystery Through the Mists of Time by Raimondo Bultrini, an investigative journalist from Italy, very useful. (You can only pre-order it, the publication date is 1st Jul ’13.)

Bultrini is a senior journalist who worked for different Newspapers, including La Republica, and who wrote investigative and featured articles on Mafia, Red Brigates and on the new fascist bloodbath killings which occurred in Italy during those years. Bultrini is a member of Choegyal Namkhai Norbu’s Dzogchen Community in Italy.

The upcoming book by Bultrini about the Dorje Shugden Controversy is a translation of ‘IL DEMONE E IL DALAI LAMA’ (2008, 406 p.) from Italian into English.

In this book Bultrini shows the different players and their different involvements, including that of the Chinese authorities and the Dharamsala’s counter-espionage, the New Kadampa Tradition’s/Kelsang Gyatso’s involvements as well as that of Lama Gangchen Rinpoche, Kundeling Lama, the 14th Dalai Lama, his sister, the Delhi ‘Shugden Society’, the assassination of Gen Lobsang Gyatso … and vicious plans from here and there. To give you an idea about some of the dynamics most Westerners just don’t know, here an excerpt:

In a talk broadcast in 2002 by a Tibetan radio station, the young Trijang offered a number of disturbing revelations. He recounted how, while still in Dharamsala, he was told of a plan by the Tibetan Youth Congress and the Tibetan Women’s Association to attack his Labrang [the residence of the lamas.]. “Consequently,” he said, “the Chatreng community appealed to me to immediately come to Delhi and thereafter to leave for Densa [Ganden monastery in south India]. I did so, leaving my attendant, Tharcin, in Dharamsala to request an interview with His Holiness. Anonymous letters and telephone calls were received at the Labrang, where masked men were seen trying to enter my residence at night. As a result, the Chatreng community deputed around twenty guards for my security. In 1996, Gonsar Rinpoche and others decided to move me to Switzerland. The situation in India deteriorated and grew tense between the followers and non-followers of the Protector, consequently delaying my return. Later that year with my aide Tharcin I had an audience with His Holiness during his visit to Switzerland. Tharcin apprised him of the threats to my life and we agreed I should continue my studies abroad. Six years have passed since then.”

Trijang recounted how he had subsequently had other audiences with the Dalai Lama in Europe, during which the Tibetan leader had asked him to choose between his spiritual guide and the protector. “I could decide against him”, he said, but nor could I stop propitiating Shugden with whom my relationship dates back to previous incarnations. I find myself in an immensely difficult situation. The followers of the Protector would not have listened to me”, he added, “and no one seems to care about the difficulties I am facing (…) I also don’t want the people of Chatreng, who have great expectations of me, to be disheartened. But if I continue to propitiate the Protector publicly, I would be compelled to become a sort of head of his worshippers, and this would be an offence to the Dalai Lama from whom I received my Bhikshu ordination, and has always treated me with extraordinary benevolence. I cannot even hope to keep a low profile as they [the Shugden devotees] would not let me.”

The broadcast contained another series of remarkable revelations. “I have reason to believe”, he said, “that my return to India may possibly result in internal chaos, attempts on lives and other immoral activities bringing disgrace to His Holiness (…) I cannot sleep and I have had health problems. I am worried about thinking what will happen next. It is quite terrifying to think that I might be a cause of disgrace instead of serving the Tibetan people and His Holiness (…) Some have told me, “If you abandon the Protector [Shugden], there is no knowing what will happen. We will not consider you a lama [as guru]. The people of Chatreng are strange, very wild and unruly. We do not know what they may do.”

It is very clear my life might be in danger. So I have decided to leave my Labrang and disrobe, so that none of the Shugden worshippers can ask me to be their leader. I hope that this way I can respect the wishes of the Dalai Lama and still revere the protector, practicing in private and far from everyone. I intend to follow a middle way, neither for nor against Shugden. I appeal to both parties not to contact me.”

His account ended with another dramatic twist. “In my own Labrang,” he said, “I have recently witnessed a kind of factionalism and I have discovered that one person in particular was planning an evil conspiracy. This plan was to murder my assistant, Tharchin, and to implicate His Holiness’s government in exile with this odious crime. The conspirator aimed to become chakzoe [manager] of my estate. Tharchin has been very kind to me, more so than my own parents, and has taken care of me since I was three years old. As well as managing the affairs of my Labrang. With my own ears I heard this person discussing on the telephone a plan to assassinate Tharchin. It is really a matter of great sadness and surprise, especially since the person involved in this ploy has been very close to me as well. If he succeeds in his plan, it would be a cause of great trouble for the Labrang, as well as a cause of disgrace to the Tibetan government and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. These are not lies, but true facts which I want everyone to know. That is why I made this statement.”

Trijang concluded his message urging the followers of the Protector to stop seeking him. “I do not wish to be in touch with you,” he said. [After this declaration, Trijang moved to the United States with a small number of his most faithful followers.]

The young Trijang Rinpoche’s radio message created no little embarrassment among the Gyalpo’s practitioners. The image of a community, ‘living peacefully and devoted to the Buddhadharma’ promoted in their propaganda material was seriously damaged, and, for a long time, the polemics against the Dalai Lama seemed to be diminishing. But hopes that they would fade away completely have not been fulfilled – far from it.

I have still to check if the book includes also something about the New Kadampa Traditions’s ‘Western Shugden Society’ campaign, which started in April 2008, and the lawsuit against the Dalai Lama and the TGIE by Kundeling Lama which was finally not even accepted by the Delhi High Court (see PDF: Delhi High Court Dismisses Dorjee Shugden Devotees’ Charges by TibetNet/CTA).

For the publisher’s announcement see:

More by Raimondo Bultrini:

Dorje Shugden – Academic Research:

Update July 7th, 2014

  Last edited by tenpel on July 7, 2014 at 1:25 am

Is the NKT a Personality Cult? – A Check Based on Word Statistics

In Germany there is a politician, Peer Steinbrück, who runs a campaign “More We, less I”. Spiegel Online investigated in a ‘Münchhausen Check’ if Steinbrück really says what he preaches by investigating two of his speeches and making a use-of-words statistic. For this they used among others a tool called Wordle to create a word cloud that makes the results easily visible. For the creation of a word statistic cloud the website or blog must have an Atom or RSS feed. The more a word is used the bigger it is written. In that way you get easily what is been stressed the most.

Now, I wondered what would be the result if I check the official New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) start page as well as their official site about Buddhism. I expected that at the centre of NKT and Buddhism is not the Buddha or Buddhism but NKT and its founder Kelsang Gyatso – this is what I would expect at least from a ‘good personality cult’ or based on my experiences.

Here are the results

Result of the official Homepage of the New Kadampa Tradition, http://kadampa.org/en/buddhism, relying on the Atom or RSS feed of that site:

Wordle: New Kadampa Tradition

The result of the official “Buddhism” page of the New Kadampa Tradition, http://kadampa.org/en/buddhism, relying on the words displayed, is:

Wordle: New Kadampa Tradition about "Buddhism"

To create the use-of-words statistic of NKT’s official “Buddhism” page I used all the words displayed on that page. The reason for this approach is that the Wordle javascript program relies on the Atom or RSS Feeds of the blog or site, and is therefore on all pages of a site the same. Hence, it doesn’t convey what words are really displayed to the reader of a specific page.

While the first result above shows that at the very centre of NKT is one person only “Venerable Geshe Kelsang founding NKT-IKBU”, the second result above demonstrates that “Kadampa” is what “Buddhism” is all about for NKT, and since the term “Kadampa” is synonymous with NKT – at least in the cosmos of NKT, as well as in their self-promotional approach – the meaning it conveys is ‘Kadampa=NKT=Buddhism’ or in brief ‘We are Buddhism.’

Another question I had is, who is the focal object of NKT’s Western Shugden Society? Is it Buddhism, Shugden or the Dalai Lama?

Here is the result of http://www.westernshugdensociety.org/

Wordle: Western Shugden Society

Using those statistic tools based on the NKT’s own Atom or RSS feeds and words displayed respectively it becomes somewhat more clear that the main object of ‘the Buddhism’ the New Kadampa Tradition is advertising is not so much Buddhism or the Buddha but mainly one person, NKT’s founder Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The main object of NKT’s Western Shugden Society is not Dorje Shugden but one person, the Dalai Lama.

In that way it is also somewhat statistically explainable what drove Gen Kelsang Sangye to promote a new book of his guru at a BBC World News talk about Mindfulness in Schools. He has no other choice if he speaks about Buddhism or mindfulness than being compelled to stress his guru Kelsang Gyatso and one of his new books respectively because only HE is the center of his life, his tradition and his Buddhism.

But shouldn’t we begin with ourselves first? I checked this blog. Who is the focal object of this blog, NKT, Shugden, Tibet, the Dalai Lama, Sogyal, I (tenpel)? The RSS Feed gives this result:

Wordle: The Dorje Shugden Group WordPress Blog

Applying the approach of getting the statistics not based on the RSS Feed but on the mere words the start page displays, the following result is given:

Wordle: Blog The Dorje Shugden Group - Start Page

To make the investigation complete, here also the words-displayed statistics – which means not relying on the RSS or Atom Feeds – of the NKT’s and the Western Shugden Society’s official start pages:

Wordle: NKT official Homepage - use of words statistic

Wordle: Western Shugden Society - Use of words displayed on start page.

In case you have problems with the Javascript on Wordle, here are the results in a gallery:

Last edited by tenpel on May 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Is forsaking the Guru, Kelsang Gyatso, worse than the karma generated by Hitler and Mao Tse Tung?

Offline there was a brief email discussion about an advice Lama Zopa Rinpoche is giving here:

We had already a discussion at E-Sangha in 2007 about this advice in the thread “New Beginnings – New Teachers, Constructive discussion on starting over“. [When I remember correctly it was at this thread where the first public account of sexual abuse of Kelsang Gyatso's appointed successor Steven W. (Kelsang Samden) appeared – in the form of an innocent question a la "Can a monk in the Gelug school have sexual relationships?" After it became public that way at E-Sangha over night – in the literal sense – Samden was removed from all NKT websites.]

It might be useful for some to have some thoughts about Lama Zopa’s advice also here at the blog. That’s why I copy and paste my past thoughts on it from that thread (including all grammatical and spelling errors).

My own teacher said I should ignore this advice by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. I hope this is of help for some.

March 26, 2007

Dear seeker,
as you have brought up the links here you may also have found the advice of Ven. Lama Zopa Rinpoche of Forsaking the Guru here:

http://www.lamayeshe.com/lamazopa/advicebo…e/shugden.shtml

This advice was referred to by present NKT to ex-NKT as well.

With all the respect to Lama Zopa Rinpoche I do not agree with it. I will give some reasons and sources here.

The problem here is very difficult and tricky. So I will use common sense, background and the scriptures.

1. the letter is a personal advice – not intentioned for the public

2. It seems to me that Lama Zopa Rinpoche is answering based on the teachings on Guru devotion how them were taught by Trijang Rinpoche – these teachings seem to be quite radical and seem not to include the case of following false Gurus or Gurus who have gone wrong.

3. It appears to me that Lama Zopa Rinpoche – although in my eyes a real Bodhisattva, tends towards to take teachings sometimes very literally as Pabongkha Rinpoche did. (Also in our Vinaya class the Geshe said he does not share the literally interpretations of some of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s views. So you can see there are different opinions and approaches. Nevertheless this Geshe cherish Lama Zopa Rinpoche very much as a holy being.) None of my Lamas gave me such advice, as Lama Zopa Rinpoche is giving here. One of my teachers said: we regard it as positive to separate from a false teacher. I should follow HH the Dalai Lama’s advice, his advices are in accordance to Sutra and Tantra. The same was taught by H.E. Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche: He said one must separate from false Gurus, because they will lead one away from the path. The same you find in Jamgon Kongtrul’s text and Alexander Berzins summery of different texts. (Quotes see below).

4. Tsongkhapa’s texts do not support this view: Tsongkhapa said: Distance yourself from Vajra Masters who are not keeping the three vows, who keep on with a root downfall, who are miserly with the Dharma, and who engage in actions that should be forsaken. Those who worship them go to hell and so on as a result. (see Tantric Ethics: An Explanation of the Precepts for Buddhist Vajrayana Practice by Tsongkhapa, ISBN 0861712900 – page 46) In his commentary on Guru devotion Je Tsongkhapa states one should not follow “if it is an improper and irreligious command”, and cites the Vinaya: “If someone suggests something which is not consistent with the Dharma, avoid it.” (see: The Fulfillment of All Hopes: Guru Devotion in Tibetan Buddhism, Wisdom Publications, ISBN 0-86171-153-X, page 64)

5. My common sense and proofing do not support this view. I do not think it is a good action to send the victim back to the perpetrator and giving thereby the chance to be misused/misguided again, which will be very negative for both sides. What is the use of that?

6. I think Lama Zopa Rinpoche tries to harmonize the different difficulties and views in the Gelug school, whereas HH the Dalai Lama is quite frank about what is correct and what is not, so the advices of HH the Dalai Lama gives a more frank direction. I do not believe that such advice will ever be stated by HH the Dalai Lama nor have any of his advices regarding that topic such connotations as this advice.

Sources:

- Chapter 15 Fear of “A Breach of Guru-Devotion”
http://www.berzinarchives.com/e-books/spir…teacher_15.html

- Buddhist Ethics (Treasury of Knowledge) by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye, Snow Lion Publications

—————————————————–
Avoiding Contrary, Harmful Companions

8.1 Obstructions of a harmful friend

“The harmful teacher is one of bad temperament, of little pure vision, great in dogmatism; he holds [his own view) as highest, praises himself, and denigrates others.”

In general, the nonspiritual teacher (mi-dge-ba’i bshes-gnyen) is a lama, teacher (mkhan-slob), dharma brother [or sister] (grogs-mched), and so forth—all those who are attached to the phenomena (snang) of this life, and who get involved in unvirtuous activity. Therefore, one must abandon the nonspiritual friend. In particular, although they have the manner of goodness in appearance, they cause you to be obstructed in your liberation.

The nonspiritual teacher has a bad temperament, little pure vision (dag-snang), is very dogmatic (phyogs-ris), holds as highest his view (lta-ba) as the only dharma, praises himself, slanders others, implicitly denigrates and rejects others’ systems (lugs) of dharma, and slanders the lama—the true wisdom teacher—who bears the burden of benefiting others. If you associate with those who are of this type, then, because one follows and gets accustomed to the nonspiritual teacher and his approach, his faults stain you by extension, and your mindstream (rgyud) gradually becomes negative. Illustrating this point, it has been said in the Vinaya Scripture:

“A fish in front of a person is rotting and is tightly wrapped with kusha grass. If that [package] is not moved for a long time, the kusha itself also becomes like that. Like that [kusha grass], by following the sinful teacher, you will always become like him.”

Therefore, as it has been said in The Sutra of the True Dharma of Clear Recollection (mDo dran-pa nyer-bzhag; Saddharmanusmriti-upasthana):

“As the chief among the obstructors (bar-du gcod-pa) of all virtuous qualities is the sinful teacher, one should abandon being associated with him, speaking with him, or even being touched by his shadow.”

In every aspect one should be diligent in rejecting the sinful teacher.

————————–

The Buddha said:

The devotee acquires the same faults
As the person not worthy of devotion,
Like an untainted arrow smeared
With the poison of a tainted sheath.

Steadfast ones who fear the taint of faults,
Do not befriend bad people.
By close reliance and devotion
To one’s companion,
Soon one becomes just like
The object of one’s devotion.


The wise devote themselves to holy,
Not to unholy people,

Wise persons are those who know
Infantile ones for what they are:
‘Infantile ones’ are those
Who take infants to be the wise.

The cencure of the wise
Is far preferable
To the eulogy or praise
Of the infant.

Devotion to infants brings misery.
Since they are like one’s foe,
It is best to never see or hear
Or have devotion for such people.

Like meetinng friends, devotion to
The steadfast causes happiness.

Therefore, like the revolving stars and moon,
Devote yourself to the steadfast, moral ones
Who have heard much, who draw on what is best -
The kind, the pure, the best superior ones.

(from the Tibetan Dhammapada)

—————————

Je Tsongkhapa citing the Ornament for the Essence said:

Distance yourself from Vajra Masters who are not keeping the three vows, who keep on with a root downfall, who are miserly with the Dharma, and who engage in actions that should be forsaken. Those who worship them go to hell and so on as a result.

(see Tantric Ethics: An Explanation of the Precepts for Buddhist Vajrayana Practice by Tsongkhapa, ISBN 0861712900) – page page 46

——————————

Dza Patrul Rinpoche in “Words of my perfect teacher”:

The Great Master of Oddiyana warns:

No to examine the teacher
Is like drinking poison;
Not to examine the disciple
Is like leaping from a precipice.

You place your trust in your spiritual teacher for all your future lives. It is he who will teach you what to do and what not to do. If you encounter a false spiritual friend without examining him properly, you will be throwing away the possibility a person with faith has to accumulate merits for a whole lifetime, and the freedoms and advantages of the human existence, you have now obtained will be wasted. It is like being killed by a venomous serpent coiled beneath a tree that you approached, thinking what you saw was just the tree’s cool shadow.

By not examining a teacher with great care
The faithful waste their gathered merit.
Like taking for the shadow of a tree a vicious snake,
Beguiled, they lose the freedom they at last had found.

———–
So why following and going back to Gurus one has recognized as not genuine or misleading? I think the most need is to overcome negative feelings in any direction. Because they disturb the mind.

But a weak mind and a misleading Guru, what will be the result other than harm? Why going back?

This is my opinion and I think every one has to check on his own and has to find his own approach.

  Last edited by tenpel on November 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm

The Birth of the New Kadampa Tradition ‘Lineage': ‘Teething Problems’

GUEST POST

Recently, a poster on this blog spoke of “cases of denial, which, in the current climate here in the UK, especially with regard to sexual exploitation, are relevant. These are related to individual’s actions and not to policy but there was a reluctance to accept that this was happening.”

For the sake of clarity, these issues are here recounted.It should be noted that since the deposition of Steve Wass, Kelsang Gyatso’s second appointed but failed successor, further appointees have come and gone, under circumstances which are far from clear (how could it be otherwise in a climate where cover ups and a complete unwillingness to admit to mistakes are clearly the norm?) Those knowledgeable about these circumstances are welcome to share that knowledge here, provided they are not simply  repeating rumour, as are those with knowledge of the ongoing psychiatric consequences experienced by the victims of the abuse cited, as well as their attempts to come to terms with these.

The link between Gyatso and Elliott was and is a strong one and it is clear that from very early in their relationship, the former recognized the latter’s potential as an effective orator and organizer. One of the conditions of membership that Gyatso stipulated in his 1991 letter to centres inviting them to join the NKT was that, when he died, ‘Gen Thubten Gyatso’ (Elliott) would be the organisation’s ‘Spiritual Director’.[1] Gyatso even went so far as to pen a long life prayer for his disciple which, until 1996, was regularly sung throughout all of the NKT’s centres. Elliott reciprocated by referring to his teacher as the greatest reformer of the Buddhist traditions since Tzong Ka Pa, ‘the Third Buddha’ who ‘restored the essential purity of Buddha’s doctrine’ and demonstrated ‘how to practice it in these extremely impure times’. According to Bunting, Elliott was, ‘The power behind the throne’;[2] he was certainly a figure held in awe by many among the organisation’s ever-burgeoning intake.

Elliott himself was an enigmatic individual, oft seen in his early ordained days pounding Manjushri’s cloister beneath a dark cloud with furrowed brow, an indication perhaps of the intense personal struggles he was undergoing at the time; the above, somewhat dualistic portrayal of the ‘pure’ versus ‘impure’ dichotomy that haunts so many beginners in Buddhism perhaps offering an insight into what the nature of those internal struggles might have been. In time however, he gave the appearance of having controlled his demons and subsequently became a central figure in the development of the NKT. Kay tells us that many of the distinguishing features that pervade today’s NKT, such as its study programmes and expansionist policies, were a direct result of Elliott’s inspiration. He was also a keen propitiant of Dorje Shugden and it was his influence as much as Gyatso’s that led to its instigation as a central and universal NKT practice.

The intensity of his devotion to both deity and teacher were rewarded, as we have seen, by Gyatso’s authorization of Elliott to grant Shugden initiations. Elliott was portrayed as, ‘…the first qualified English Tantric meditation master in Britain’[3] though actually, two other English teachers of Tibetan Buddhism in the UK[4] had several years previously been given permission to grant initiations; unlike Elliott however, each had trained for lengthy periods in their own respective traditions. That the myth of Elliott’s uniqueness continues to endure demonstrates the ignorance of those who perpetrated it and those who believed it with respect to their knowledge of the other Tibetan Buddhist traditions extant in the UK at the time.

As Lord Acton observed, absolute power corrupts and this seems to be exactly what happened with Elliott, as a result of the absolute power which he came, so rapidly, to wield.[5] Delusions of grandeur seem to have set in by the spring of 1994 when he declared NKT teachers (and thereby, by implication, himself) to be ‘emanations’[6] of Gyatso, ‘the Third Buddha’, a declaration that, with little imagination, could be interpreted as a direct claim to enlightened status.

Despite the fact that such a claim, if untrue, represents one of the ‘four defeats’ resulting in immediate expulsion from the monastic community,[7] this does not appear to have been the basis for his rather unceremonious public disrobing in 1996, after what the Guardian newspaper described somewhat nebulously as a ‘breach of his monastic vows’.[8]

That Elliott should fall prey to worldly whims and stumble back into the garden of earthly delights is not an indication of great evil but rather an indication of his being subject to the same basic frailties that affect each of our ordinary human lives. Nevertheless, the event was extremely damaging for Gyatso and the NKT for a number of reasons, not least because it cast doubt on the judgment of one perceived by his followers to be the ‘Third Buddha’. Again, for someone in a position of such power and respect to demonstrate what appear to have been some rather basic human shortcomings cast doubts over the efficacy of the whole of the NKT’s path, of which Elliott was probably the most devoted adherent. Finally, if Elliott’s misconduct was of a sexual nature, this raises the spectre of misuse of power and sexual abuse, something which the NKT would certainly not wish to be associated with; the fact that the organization repeatedly refused to comment on the specific causes for his expulsion could be interpreted as an indication of a fear of the potential damage such allegations might cause.[9]

Elliott disappeared from the radar for a short while but, despite his initially being ‘banned’ by the NKT,[10] returned to the organization as a layman and now resides at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre (formerly ‘Manjushri Institute’) where, according to ex members, he continues to play an important role in the NKT. In 2003, the NKT’s publishing house Tharpa produced yet another of the ubiquitous translations of Shantideva’s popular ‘Guide to the Bodhisattva’s way of Life’, this particular translation being the work of Kelsang Gyatso and Neil Elliott. Images of him alongside members of the press during the demonstrations against the Dalai Lama outside the Albert Hall in 2008 and videoing the demonstration in Nürnberg indicate that Elliott is also involved with the WSS at a relatively senior level.

After the debacle of Neil Elliott’s very public disrobing in 1996, Gyatso eventually appointed Steve Wass, or Gen-la Samden Gyatso, as his next successor and Assistant Spiritual Director in charge of the worldwide development of the NKT. ‘Gen-la’, one of the first of Gyatso’s first disciples to have ordained under his newly created system of ordination, was described as:

‘…a powerful and inspiring teacher with vast personal experience of the Buddhist path. He teaches even the most profound teachings with perfect clarity and is loved and respected internationally for his practical, warm-hearted approach to Buddha’s teachings.’[11]

Elsewhere, he was portrayed as:

‘…a perfect example of the extraordinary qualities we can develop through sincerely relying on a spiritual teacher and putting Buddha’s teachings into practice in our daily lives … If we follow his example and rely on his teachings we can make our lives truly meaningful.’[12]

However, websites[13] created by NKT followers in 2008 to ‘fight the smears’ against the organisation, indicate that ‘Gen-la’s’ behavior behind closed doors at the time was far from exemplary.

These tell us that in December 2006 allegations began to surface on the internet that Samden Gyatso had been engaging in sexual acts with a number of women over a considerable period of time, behaviour allegedly justified by his claiming the sex was ‘tantric’. Moreover, it was suggested that, despite having full knowledge of this, Kelsang Gyatso had failed to act. As a result, Samden remained in his position and continued the abuse for a significant period of time.[14]

According to the NKT’s ‘smears’ website, in November 2005 an ex-NKT monk wrote to Gyatso explaining his suspicions about Samden’s misconduct, suspicions based on specific advice Samden had given him. Gyatso asked if the ex-monk had any evidence of misconduct, which he had not. He was then asked not to repeat the allegations, unless he could produce said evidence.

In January 2006, the same person wrote to Gyatso again, explaining the nature of his suspicions in more detail. Once again, he had no proof; neither had he seen anything, nor had anyone confided in him; he simply felt a ‘strong suspicion’. Gyatso revealed in response that he had in fact confronted Samden over the allegations, but that the latter had responded by denying any wrongdoing.

Samden Gyatso was finally removed fifteen months later, in February 2007, purportedly for other, unassociated reasons,[15] reasons which were outlined in a letter sent to the Resident Teachers (RTs) of each of the NKT’s many centres. It was only after his removal, the NKT claim, that a small number of people came forward, each with similar stories of sexual exploitation providing evidence that there was indeed substance to the earlier allegations.

Gyatso then wrote to Samden condemning his behaviour. The letter, which was copied to all NKT RTs read:

‘You have destroyed the NKTs reputation and the power of all NKT Resident Teachers. Through your actions so many ordained Teachers have disrobed following your view which is opposite to Buddhist view – you tried to spread a sexual lineage which you yourself created. Even in society a Teacher cannot have sex with students. After you left many people confessed to me that you had had sex with them … We will never allow your sexual lineage to spread in this world.’

According to the ‘smears’ website, Gyatso and others in the NKT are presently trying to help individually anyone affected by Samden’s behaviour. Samden himself simply disappeared from the NKT radar: in May 2007, Vishvapani of the FWBO noted that:

‘If you follow links to Samden on the NKT’s webpage they will take you, in a somewhat Orwellian manner, to his replacement, Kelsang Khenrab, with no word of explanation of how or why the change took place.’[16]

The deposition of Samden Gyatso was an imperative for Gyatso for a number of reasons. Firstly, in Tzong Ka Pa’s monastic tradition, to engage in sexual acts with a physical partner is totally forbidden for monks; Gelug monastic practitioners must rely only on a visualized partner throughout their corporeal life before achieving enlightenment in the after-death state through meditative transformation of that experience.[17] For Samden to introduce a path which contradicted this, as the above implies, represented a clear threat to Gyatso’s portrayal of his organization as the inheritor’s of the purity of Tzong Ka Pa’s tradition; if Samden’s path were to gain credence, this would totally undermine such a claim.

Secondly, the deposition was imperative from a public perspective because, in distancing themselves from Samden and his actions, the NKT and Gyatso were able to separate themselves from the abuse which he had seemingly perpetrated. What seems rather strange however is that, in doing so, they openly revealed both the nature and degree of the abuse in which their former Assistant Spiritual Director had supposedly engaged. In light of the circumstances surrounding his predecessor’s deposition still remaining a closely guarded secret, this represented a significant change of tack by the NKT. Let us examine the nature of this alleged abuse so as to understand why this unprecedented revelation was necessary.

It can be argued that while all forms of sexual abuse are immoral, the level of that immorality varies in dependence upon the nature and context of the abuse. For instance, while the sexual abuse of an adult is immoral, the sexual abuse of a vulnerable minor is perhaps significantly more so.

In this case, the sexual activity is alleged to have taken place between two, consenting adults at any one time. Normally, such a consensual act would not be considered immoral. However, Samden was both a monk and the Assistant Spiritual Director of the whole of the NKT empire and, as such, occupied a position of trust. This raised status transforms a consensual act into an abusive one. The UK Sexual Offences Act 2000 for example, argues that it is an abuse where a person who holds a position of trust over another engages in sexual relations with that person. Since Samden was in a position of great power and trust at the time these events are said to have occurred and the supposed relationship between the individuals concerned was a fiduciary one, it would certainly be appropriate to refer to such acts as abusive.

Of course, it could be argued that, because the supposed victims were adults under the impression that the sexual activity was, it seems, ‘tantric’ and therefore conducive to their long term well-being they would have consented to the activity, thus rendering it non-abusive. The reality of the situation however, is that the path that Samden is alleged to have espoused was common to him alone; as Gyatso put it, ‘you tried to spread a sexual lineage which you yourself created’. As a trained Buddhist practitioner with many years experience of teaching the tantric path, Gyatso would surely have been capable of distinguishing a fabricated path from a valid, historically established one.

What this means is that, not only would Samden’s purported multiple relationships with his female students been abusive, occurring as they seem to have done in the context of an unequal relationship, but also that they were justified on the basis of a false representation of the Buddhist path which promised the victim spiritual benefits if they participated. The sexual abuse then would have been of a ritualized form.

It was therefore, of the utmost importance for the credibility of Gyatso and the NKT that they publicly distanced themselves from Samden’s actions at the earliest opportunity, since no organization would want to be accused of knowingly and consistently presiding over adult ritual abuse or be forced to deal with the aftermath of such a scandal.

As with the case of Neil Elliott however, this raises some important questions, not least among them, how Gyatso could once again have not realized that he was presiding over misconduct, misconduct that had been pointed out to him repeatedly but against which he had failed to act. Seemingly, this occurred because the initial accuser had not presented Gyatso with any substantial evidence. Some however must surely have wondered why the ‘Third Buddha’ would have needed such evidence and, in light of his experience with his first proposed successor, why Gyatso had not acted significantly earlier.

In a 2008 response to allegations that ‘Geshe Kelsang has made mistakes in establishing the manner of his succession’[18] the NKT claimed that Gyatso had in fact ‘…shown great skill in establishing the manner of his succession’, and that it was ‘…thanks to having experienced first-hand the limitations of the other methods of succession that NKT practitioners can appreciate the current system and realize its wisdom’; unsurprisingly, the response made no specific reference to the nature of the ‘limitations’ highlighted by the inappropriate actions of either Elliott or Samden, despite their magnitude.

[1] Kay (2004) p 79
[2] M Bunting (August 15th 1996) ‘Sect Disrobes British Monk’ The Guardian, London
[3] Bunting (August 15th 1996)
[4] Rigdzin Shikpo (Mike Hookham) of the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions, and Lama Jampa Thaye of the Sakya and Kagyu traditions.
[5] John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834-1902). The historian and moralist, expressed the opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887 that: ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.’
[6] Thubten Gyatso ‘On training as a teacher’ in ‘Full Moon’ NKT magazine
[7] 1) Penetrative sexual intercourse. 2) Stealing above a trivial amount. 3) Killing a human being. 4) Falsely claiming superior spiritual achievements. If a monk engages in any of these four actions, he is no longer a monk and is not readmitted into the community.
[8] Bunting (August 15th 1996)
[9] Bluck (2006)  ‘…senior disciple Gen Thubten Gyatso was ‘disrobed and banned’ from the NKT, ostensibly because of a ‘breach of his monastic vows’ … though there is some confusion here.’ p 132
[10] Bunting (15th August 1996)
[11] Publicity, Australasian Festival 2006, published 24th March 2005
[12] Publicity for a course at the NKT’s Rameshori centre in Atlanta, Georgia, November 2005
[13] http://www.newkadampatruth.org   http://newkadampatruth.wordpress.com/about
[14] http://newkadampatruth.wordpress.com/2008/09/03/nathaniels-31-reasons-for-leaving-the-nkt/
[15] One person appears to have been told that Samden had resigned because he found the prospect of eventually becoming the NKT’s General Spiritual Director too heavy, and that he had withdrawn ‘into retreat’. See Vishvapani (May 2007) ‘NKT Succession and Questions of Authority’ http://dharmasights.blogspot.com/2007/05/nkt-succession-questions-of-authority.html
[16] Vishvapani (May 2007)
[17] See A Berzin (August 2003) ‘A Short Biography of Tsongkhapa’: ‘Tsongkhapa died at Ganden in 1419, at the age of 62. He attained enlightenment after his death by achieving an illusory body (sgyu-lus) instead of bardo. This was to emphasize the need for monks to follow strict celibacy, since enlightenment in this lifetime requires practice with a consort at least once.’
[18] http://www.newkadampatruth.org/newkadampa47.php#kadampa
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