Characteristics Of Those Unsuitable To Be Gurus

Many people trained within NKT might be full of fear and guilt to either leave NKT or after they have left NKT already. These feelings of guilt and fear might undermine the clarity to make a firm and strong decision and to rejoice into a virtuous deed.

Since the NKT offer only a selection of the vast basket of Buddhist teachings within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it might be helpful for NKT affiliated persons to learn those teachings not given in NKT—especially about the teacher-student-relationship.

Recently a nun pointed out teachings from the Kalachakra Tantra which say that a wise disciple would abandon wrong gurus as they would abandon hell.

I will give the quote—and a link to a file with other quotes from Buddhist scriptures—below.

For the sake of keeping you updated here is a news from the special realm of NKT:

The NKT leadership recommended in a letter from 5th Aug 2010 to all NKT-IKBU Centres to not associate with other Tibetan Buddhist practitioners:

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, fund-raising 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


Ornament of Stainless Light – An Exposition of the Kalachakra Tantra by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso, pp. 214–216, translated by Gavin Kilty

Characteristics of those unsuitable to be gurus

The third verse of the Initiations chapter says:

Proud, ruled by anger, and lacking vows,
greedy, without knowledge, working to deceive disciples,
a mind that has fallen from great bliss,
without initiation, totally attached to wealth,
unaware, of harsh and coarse words, filled with carnal desire,
the wise disciples should abandon taking such people
as causes of complete enlightenment
as they would abandon hell.

People with such faults are not fit to be relied upon as gurus in the Vajra Vehicle. Even if one takes such a person as a guru and requests initiations and so forth, there can be no meaningful receiving of the initiation. Moreover one will become infected by a measure of his faults and fall from all elevated status in this and future lives. Most of the above verse is easy to Understand. “Without knowledge” means to be without the essential teachings on the six-branched yoga, for example. “Working to deceive his disciple” means to delude disciples by telling lies. “A mind that has fallen from the great bliss, without initiation” means that without having received the initiation he is bestowing, he nevertheless teaches it to others. “Filled with carnal desire” means working only for the pleasure gained from the sexual union of the two organs.

Therefore the way to rely upon a guru is firstly to know the characteristics worthy and unworthy of devotion and then to examine thoroughly who is and who is not fit to be a guru. The Great Commentary says on the second verse of the Initiations chapter:

Disciples who wish to gain worldly and nonworldly powers by way of mantra should first devote themselves to a guru. Furthermore one should examine the vajra master thoroughly. One should thoroughly examine his words. Otherwise, relying upon a guru unexamined, the disciples’ dharma will be perverse, and perverse dharma will send them to hell.

Also the Paramarthaseva says:

He, omniscient in the complete Vajra Vehicle,
has said that very wished-for siddhi follows the master.
If perfect disciples examine the master, therefore, as they would gold,
they will not accrue even the tiniest of faults.

However what should one do if one already regards as a guru someone endowed with those unworthy characteristics? The Great Commentary says:

In mantra, even though one has taken as a guru a person with the faults of pride and so forth, wise disciples, meaning those of intelligence, will abandon him as a cause of complete enlightenment as they would abandon hell.


Because of these words, even though he has been taken as a guru, if he does these wrong deeds, disciples who strive for freedom should leave him.

A passage quoted in the Great Commentary says:

Without compassion, angry and malicious,
arrogant, grasping, uncontrolled, and boastful,
the intelligent disciple will not take such a one as guru.

Therefore, if one has taken someone with these faults as a guru, then this disciple who is seeking freedom should part company with him and not associate with him again. These quotes from the Great Commentary teach just this point and this point only. They do not teach that one should loose one’s faith due to seeing faults because, as it is so rightly said:

Once that is used as a reason and one casts off the undertaking of holding him as a guru and as a field of reverence, one opens up the opportunity for a root downfall to occur. One must learn, therefore, to distinguish what is to be developed from what is to be discarded.

Some explain the two instances of the phrase “taken as a guru” in the two Great Commentary passages above as applying to gurus taken by others.



  1. ‘Beyond each mountain pass is a different religious sect with thousands of scholars and fools who follow it, saying, “Only this is true; this will not deceive you.” This self-authorization of one’s own truth delights a group of similar beings: when told to a group that does not agree, they are scornful.’
    Gendun Chopel ‘An Adornment for Nagarjuna’s Thought’

    It is interesting to note that the mentality Chopel here criticised ws that of sectarian fundamentalists in Tibet, in prticular those followers of Pabongka who were running riot at the time, attemting to violently subdue the red hat sects while claiming to be ‘possessed’ by Shugden. Lo and behold, the same mentality he alludes to is characterised by this latest edict from probably the most political of oall contemporary Buddhist movements with Tibetan roots, the New Kadampa Tradition-seingly, only they know ‘the truth’ and all others have become polluted by politics. So screaming slogans of hatred, calling others liars and engaging in placard holding demonstrations is not political activity. I guess it must just be the new face of ‘pure’ religion. How lost these people are and how sad that they dupe so many.

  2. Chopel was eventually imprisoned by Taktra, after being arrested on his way home from Trijang Rinpoche’s home. What did the two have in common? both were disciples of Pabongka. Chopel has been subsequently recognised as one of Tibets greatest visionaries

    • And he was released from prison by the 14th Dalai Lama… Lopez’ Tricycle article (1995) starts:

      “SHOULD THE LIFE OF Gendun Chopel ever be made into a movie, the film would begin with a panoramic shot of the Potala, the Dalai Lama’s palace, on a brilliantly sunny morning in November 1950. The camera would pan down to the cluster of buildings known as Shol at the foot of the Potala, zooming slowly to the notorious prison, where a group of prisoners is being released as the result of a general amnesty pro­claimed in the name of the current Dalai Lama, who was then fifteen years old. The inmates emerge one by one into the sun­light, some staggering, some limping, all unshaven, with long, unkempt hair, ema­ciated, dressed in rags. The camera focus­es on the last man to emerge, undistin­guished from the rest. He appears disori­ented as he is approached by a small group of obviously well-born monks and lay peo­pie. But instead of greeting them, he turns to look behind and above, to stare at the massive edifice of the Potala, looming over him. The sight sends him into a reverie (cinematically rendered as a flashback),back to 1927, the year he arrived in Lhasa and first beheld the Potala. In the years between these visions of the great struc­ture, he would live the most remarkable (and what has become the most storied) life of modern Tibetan history. A brilliant his­torian, philosopher, and artist, Gendun Chopel is today regarded by some as a trai­tor, by others as a prescient culture hero….”

  3. ‘Gendun Chopel is today regarded by some as a traitor (Pabongka’s fanatical and power drunk followers), by others as a prescient culture hero….'(Non-sectarians everywhere)

  4. actually, the NKT letter is a good summery of what NKT’s fundamental believes are.

    1. NKT is a pure tradition
    2. to ‘protect’ its claimed ‘essential purity’ it should not be ‘mixed’
    3. people who meet/go to other Buddhist teachers, groups or even have contact with them are in the great danger of getting ‘confused’
    4. to ‘protect’ them from ‘confusion’ they should follow only NKT and Kelsang Gyatso

    We take refuge in Geshe-la, his books. his centres and his followers. Amen.

    The basic idea of a claimed fundamental ‘purity’ of the NKT ‘lineage’ is a bit like the claim of the Nazis of a supposed purity of the Aryan’s race. Subsequently the Nazis forbade the Germans to have relations with the Jews because this would mix the ‘pure’ German/Aryan blood with that of the Jews.

    Like this idea is completely crazy because humans are humans no matter what supposed race they are, similarly the idea of ‘pure Dharma’ is also crazy because Dharma is Dharma and there has never been a teaching that there exists ‘impure Dharma’–the opposite of the ‘pure Dharma’. There is Dharma and there is non-Dharma.

    As Maitreya says in the Uttara Tantra Shastra–one of the many Buddhist Mahayana treatises not taught in NKT: “The Dharma is without defilements.”

    What NKT is doing is to claim to have a better, a more pure Dharma. The basis of this assumption is not based on reality because NKT derive this ‘special purity’ from the claim to have preserved ‘purely’ the ‘special lineage’ of Je Tsongkhapa (which could be portrayed as a mix of different schools + his own thoughts/realizations). Actual NKT have only a fraction of Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings (and often it is presented in a distorted manner). So where is the purity here? The claimed purity is just propaganda or an unverified (blind) belief.

    Actually, I think, the claim of ‘purity’ is based on a sense of self-importance and/or superiority. Because one is so important and special everything related to oneself must be very special, very unique and very pure too. I think, this is the pattern of thinking like the believes of a racist, who thinks the own race and the own culture/religion is is better than others.

    While NKT does not openly claim, to be better than others, the repeated emphasize of the own purity (of lineage, practice, and practitioners), combined with the infusion of fear to destroy that claimed purity by ‘mixing it’ with other Dharma teachings (‘traditions’), together with the repeated belittlement of other (Tibatan) Buddhists as impure (this is what ‘mixing Dharma with politics’ actual means in the NKT context: impure person, impure practice = evil sinners), will lead to the result that NKT followers are utter entangled into NKT and will finally have no connection any more to other Buddhists.

    Though NKT leadership claimed in the past wrongly every NKT follower could go to other Buddhist teachers and masters, finally they state openly, what they really think: NKT followers should stay purely in NKT and have no contact with other Buddhists.

    I fear most NKT followers believe this type of skilful NKT propaganda. The disconnection from genuine Buddhist masters and traditions will further increase the power of the self-circling, self-referencing beliefsystem Kelsang Gyatso set up for Westerners, which holds them tightly like a spell.

  5. dorjeshugdentruth says:

    Here is a reply to this post

    [link removed by blog owner]

    comment by TP
    Make a link to my blog on your blog fist. I have accepted enough links to all of your blogs and multiple websites. Do not abuse my blog as your spam link machine. Try to remember what fairness is.

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