Some friends asked me why the NKT protesters didn’t show up at the last teachings of His Holiness, e.g. in USA, France or Germany.
There weren’t protests in Germany because at the same time there was the NKT summer festival in the UK, and Kelsang Gyatso, NKT’s founder and leader, gave his last teachings before he retired.*
However, the protests had already stopped before His Holiness came to Germany in July 2009. So why Western Shugden Society / New Kadampa Tradition have stopped the protests against H.H. the Dalai Lama? Unlike 2002 there is no official statement by Kelsang Gyatso; and the NKT/WSS blogs offer contradicting statements. While NKT’s Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden Blog offers a story of successful protests, another blog run by an NKT follower offers a story of unsuccessful protests. Not only this, both contradicting statements of success and non-success can be read also on the former blog. – Be careful when visiting the blogs, you may catch the NKT ‘spin-virus’ but you can also learn the art of how to spin the facts… 😉
I lack time and enthusiasm to go through all of the perversions in those two statements, rather I found it amazing to see, that two apparent contradicting statements are offered as an explanation by WSS/NKT for stopping and continuing the protests respectively. At the moment the end of the protests are the reality not their continuation.
One remark with respect to the claims of success I wish to make at least. His Holiness always emphasized that people can practice Dorje Shugden privately and at their own places and there has never been a restriction for Shugden followers to set up their own monasteries. So what is sold as a success now by WSS/NKT is rather a natural outcome of what has been emphasized by H.H. the Dalai Lama and the TGIE ever since.
Personally I assume the reason why NKT stopped the protests could be because many NKT members ‘woke up’ due to the protests by NKT, and they started to question the organisation itself; many left NKT, and the protests must have been quite expensive too. Also there has not been too much success and the discussion about NKT’s controversial sides has quite likely damaged to a certain degree NKT’s reputation. However, this is just a speculation based on the New Kadampa Survivors discussions, emails I received and some observations and common sense. (For an example of NKT’s reputation struggle, the ‘false accusations against the innocent’, see e.g. the NKT Truth-Smear Website or the comments on this page.)
Personally I have to say to portray Shugden followers as ‘terrorists’ is beyond my level of comprehension and I can see no reason for the validity of such a claim. Though many Shugden followers may be purists, fundamentalists, rejective in acknowledging the facts, and also some of them were very violent – not only by killing Ven. Lobsang Gyatso and two of his students or trying to kill Chatral Rinpoche and the assistant of Trijang Chogtrul Rinpoche – also in the monasteries there were violence and tensions, though all these actions are condemnable, they do not constitute a proper basis for imputing the term ‘terrorists’. And it is also true, that there was violence against Shugden followers**, and if one investigates a bit, injustices can be recognized against Shugden followers too. However, all these events should be seen in perspective, from a broad and unbiased perspective, according to the facts, without putting a spin on the facts, and based on a proper understanding of the subject matter, including the historical and cultural setting, and the development or dynamics of the events.
Some Positive News***
I acknowledge NKT’s recent trial to be more honest and trying to stick to the facts respectively by rephrasing the description of what NKT is. The Official New Kadampa Tradition Website states now about NKT:
It is an international association of study and meditation centers that follow the pure tradition of Mahayana Buddhism derived from the Buddhist meditators and scholars Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa and introduced into the West by the Buddhist Teacher Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
Applause for this brave correction, at least in one point: that NKT is derived from Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa. If something is derived from something else, it is based on it, it has it at its foundation. The verb to derive indicates that the original thing (here, Je Tsongkhapa’s or Atisha’s tradition) and that which is derived from it (here NKT) are not the same. So it is an admission that the two are distinguishable as separate entities, where as previously the NKT claimed they and the old Kadampa school or Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition were synonymous. However, as someone pointed out in an email, the statement still includes a fault: the teachings of Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa were not ‘introduced into the West by the Buddhist Teacher Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’ – their traditions were known in the west long before Kelsang Gyatso left the Indian exile in 1977.****
With respect to the correct statement, that NKT is derived from their traditions, it would be really fine if NKT can go along with this way of accuracy and honesty. Well done!
Besides academic analysis the discussion on the Tricycle Blog, with almost 2500 comments, might be helpful as well.
* for his ‘last speech’ read this transcription Kelsang Gyatso’s last speech 2009
** Chryssides, George D. (1999) ‘The New Kadampa Tradition‘ in “Exploring New Religions“, Continuum International Publishing Group, 233-243
*** at least I see this as a positive development
**** as Jones pointed out in a comment I have missed the meaning of the statement here, so there is no fault in the statement and my claim is incorrect. The statement can be read as “Kelsang Gyatso brought to the West what he derived from those two traditions of Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa.” I apologize for this mistake. [Oct 28, 2009]