A growing number of people are leaving the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) and sharing their reasons for doing so. We hope this information can help you come to an informed decision about the kind of Buddhist organization you would be comfortable committing to.
- NKT students study only books written by one person, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, a Tibetan monk expelled by his Tibetan monastery. Although students are not forbidden to read other books they are strongly discouraged from doing so.
- NKT’s main daily prayers are to a controversial deity known as Dorje Shugden. The Dalai Lama strongly discourages Shugden practices as divisive. Indeed the current protests against him by the WSS (Western Shugden Society), many members of which are high profile NKT teachers, are proving divisive and ugly, as are NKT techniques of swamping online Buddhist chat rooms and message boards with pro-Shugden and anti Dalai Lama propaganda.
- Two high profile members of the NKT, both serving long term as Deputy Spiritual Director at different times – Neil E. (Gen Thubten) and Steve W. (Gen Samden) – had to be removed due to sexual misconduct committed with several nuns and lay women. Both had vows of celibacy and were either deliberately misusing or misinterpreting higher tantric teachings to justify sexual exploitation of their followers.
- NKT has never given clear information about the two ex-deputy spiritual directors and NKT members find out through rumour and gossip, mainly at NKT festivals. They are told not to let it disturb their minds.
- Many other high level NKT teachers have also been involved in sexual misconduct, showing that they are poorly supported within the tradition, and many have misconceptions about what a vow of celibacy actually covers.
- Ex-residents of NKT Dharma centres report having been required to sign away their rights as tenants, illegally. Many were told that the centres had the right to evict them without notice, for example.
- It is commonly reported amongst past and present NKT members that many people who move into NKT centres give up their paid jobs to go on benefits. They then work unpaid for the centres while deceiving the welfare/benefits agencies of their status. Monks and nuns are told not to wear their robes to the Job Centre when they sign on.
- NKT monks and nuns are not actually ordained as monks and nuns according to a vital Buddhist text known as Vinaya. Fully ordained monks and nuns under the Vinaya have over two hundred specific vows, while NKT monks and nuns have 10 vows, several of which are very vague. Many Buddhist schools do not accept NKT ordination as valid.
Ex NKT members strongly suggest that potential new members do their own research before considering a commitment to this New Religious Movement.
Those seeking independent information can contact the British-based research group INFORM.
Statements by Buddhists
- Australian Sangha Association Statement by ASA (July 2008)
- How Buddhists view the protests of NKT/WSS
- Declaration of Expulsion of Kelsang Gyatso from Sera Je Monastery by the General Assembly of Sera Je Monastery, August 22, 1996
- To the Tibetan Buddhists around the world and fellow Tibetan compatriots within and outside Tibet by Sera Je Dratsang, Sera Monastic University, P.O. Bylakuppe – 571104, Distt. Mysore (K.S.), South India (no date)
- Are NKT monks and nuns authentic?
- How important is the Vinaya?
- Academic Research regarding Shugden Controversy & NKT
- Western Shugden Society – unlocked
- The New Kadampa Tradition
- Experiences with the New Kadampa Tradition and Kelsang Gyatso
Critical Newspaper Articles about the New Kadampa Tradition
- Battle of the Buddhists by Andrew Brown, The Independent (July 15, 1996) – PDF Copy
- Shadow boxing on the path to Nirvana by Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian (July 6, 1996) – PDF Copy
- Call to close sect’s benefit loophole by Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian (July 13, 1996)
- Sect disrobes British monk – The Guardian – (Aug 15, 1996)
- Cult Mystery by Newsweek, Tony Clifton (April 28, 1997)
- Death threats to Dalai Lama blamed on rival Buddhist sect by The Sidney Morning Herald, (November 16, 2002)
- Dalai Lama faced with death threats by Washington Times (Nov 22, 2003)
- BBC Documentary “An Unholy Row“
Open Letters by Kelsang Gyatso
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s reply to Newsweek “False Accusations Against the Innocent” – PDF-Copy from WebArchive
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s “Open Letter to the Dalai Lama” (Dec 9, 1997) – PDF-Copy from WebArchive
- Open letter from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to Wesley Pruden, Editor in Chief, Washington Times (Nov 25, 2002)
- Open letter from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to Tom Burton, Executive Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald (Nov 27, 2002)
Author: EKC – a member of the New Kadampa Survivors.