Yesterday I became a bit distracted and checked what NKT is presently doing. I found a new blog which I feel is worthwhile to read:
When I checked the WordPress tags I found one WordPress post by Michael-J B. W., a person who was (is still?) extremely skilled in putting a spin on the Wikipedia articles related to NKT or Dorje Shugden. I will comment on that here a bit but before I do that I’ll give a short (and one-sided) background to some of his activities. Michael has not only spun successfully Wikipedia articles, he also removed links to academic papers from my Website about Tibetan Buddhism which were linked on Wikipedia by (ab)using a rule which says that no website which mirrors WP content should be linked. Of course my websites only uses four former articles from WP and there is no problem in linking an academic article which has nothing to do with Wikipedia. WP is flexible enough to allow to link e.g.Prof. von Brück’s or Prof. William’s article though my website indeed include four former WP articles which are marked as being such. Since I’ve encountered Michael’s spins different times, I decided not to say anything or to restrain to respond to his perversions of the facts because I felt any engagement into that direction is just a waste of time.
However, yesterday I glanced through one of his posts, The Virtuous Friend: You Will Know Them by their Root. I was again struck by his abilities to turn the facts upside down. E.g. he wants to give the impression that I would deliberately ignore statements with respect to the teacher student relationship or that I would in a way manipulate or ignore certain information by suggesting e.g. “…but Tenzin Peljor fails to give his audience the surrounding context” or “the quote which Tenzin Peljor left out” or “how Tenzin Peljor pretends that Lama Zopa’s advice on not abandoning Shugden Lamas such as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso does not exist.”
Among others he refers to a post, Characteristics of those unsuitable to be gurus, offered here but Michael ignores that the information these quotes provide were just given for the sake to balance the one-sided and often misleading information of NKT or their followers and the fear and feelings of guilt these install in people and which function to bind people to the NKT making them fear to leave this new religious movement (or this ‘cult’ as some say). He also ignores that unlike Kelsang Gyatso I give exact book titles and page numbers where interested people can actual read the complete context while Kelsang Gyatso mentions certain texts but without mentioning the page number or a publication where people can cross check—not only this, he discourages his students to read books not written by him because they would “confuse” them. So my quotes are means to balance NKT’s or Kelsang Gyasto’s misinformation and they do not claim—unlike NKT or KG—to present the “complete path to enlightenment” implying neither cross checking or anything else is needed to achieve a better understanding of Buddha’s teachings.
Michael goes over the top in his suggestive post when he states:
Indeed, it is also interesting how Tenzin Peljor pretends that Lama Zopa’s advice on not abandoning Shugden Lamas such as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso does not exist. Lama Zopa points out how important it is “not to criticize, to keep the mind in equanimity regarding him.” One wonders why quotes like these do not appear in Tenzin Peljor’s set of advice:
“By giving up Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, you have created heavy negative karma in this life. Since you haven’t given me up, I suggest that you confess to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso about what happened, and devote yourself again to this virtuous friend.” — Lama Zopa Rinpoche
First of all, the ‘set of advice’ Michael is referring to is a compilation of different posts and quotes given in internet forums to fearful NKT followers as a means to help those, who were manipulated by NKT teachings, to let go their fear and worries to leave that organisation. Since the organisation is totally fixed on Kelsang Gyatso, who himself said that he himself would be the NKT, people should learn that there is no problem in leaving an organisation or a teacher who is not really qualified or even misleading. The ‘set of advice’ states clearly in the beginning:
“This set of advice was compiled quickly for people who left NKT or who are thinking about to leave NKT. It mainly aims to give a quick overview on matters of concern NKT people might have with respect to the Guru. It is aimed to support those who are thinking to leave NKT or who have have left NKT already and who now might have doubts if leaving Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a negative, positive or neutral action.”
Also I do not pretend that this advice by Lama Zopa Rinpoche does not exist. From what does Michael conclude that? In contradiction to his claim is the fact that I discussed this advice in detail on E-Sangha and put that advice into perspective. Different times I replied to some emails by worried ex-NKT with respect to this advice too. E-Sangha does not exist any more nor do I have a copy of that discussion. To save some time, I just quote from an email I sent to a former NKT follower regarding this advice in 2010:
[… Tulku Rinpoche] advised to ignore this advice.
I wonder why FPMT even puts a personal advice to a specific person online…
Nobody has to accept advice or a teacher which/who is contrary to the teachings. Though it is not good to be negative to one’s teacher and it is correct to inspire to stop such negativity, the teachings suggest to leave a teacher when one realises he is not qualified. And also Je Tsongkhapa comments in his commentary on Guru devotion one should not follow advice of the guru which is contrary to the Dharma.
So leaving NKT or GKG is NOTHING bad, it is virtuous to leave a misleading teacher, because a misleading teacher leads one onto wrong paths. However, one should make a neutral distance, and of course every negativity creates negative Karma but (I think) one should also not be too tight about this. How can one not be upset about being abused? We are human beings, but as Buddhists we work on our states of mind to not respond too negative to things or to respond at least neutral or if possible in a positive manner.
Actual, I do not accept this advice and I wrote something about this and my reasons on E_Sangha in the past.
You can ask also Ringu Tulku about this if you like.
I wonder if Lama Zopa Rinpoche still has this view since he knows now better how much people suffer and are misled in NKT—its a very old advice. I would support that idea to write to Lama Zopa!!! A monk told me when the NKT resident teacher of Paris asked Lama Zopa to be her teacher too, he refused as long as she is a student of Geshe Kelsang!* One can also ask if he finds it a good idea to follow Geshe Kelsang and to learn the Dalai Lama is the enemy of Buddhism (though that is a bit provoking.)
Though I don’t like to write something about this to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, I support the wish to clarify this directly with him.
I would also read or make suggestions with respect to a letter to him, however, the letter must be written by others. For me this matter is finished in a way, and I think it is better people write for whom this really creates worry or is a subject of concern. This makes things more urgent/serious. I do not expect a reply so it would be dishonest if I would write something.
Is this ok for you what I wrote/suggested here?
Though Michael’s post (not to speak about his blog in general) has more perversions, I save my time by just ignoring them and I give rather some quick reasons why I think that actual Kelsang Gyasto is not a reliable spiritual teacher. First of all he has isolated and is isolating himself and his followers from other genuine Buddhist masters, the Dharma (not written by himself), and the Sangha (all the many genuine practitioners and masters outside of the NKT). This is cultish but these are not the actions of a Buddhist master who understands that persons have different needs, Karma and inclinations, and that one can learn from everything and everybody. To create ‘one Dharma for all’ and to bind the own students to one single isolated teacher is also an expression of a lack of compassion and the lack of the wisdom which sees the individual aspects of the phenomena and sentient beings. Because the Buddha has great compassion and because he possesses the wisdom that knows the individual aspects of phenomena, and because all the Buddhas possess these qualities, the enlightened Buddhas know that there are limitless Dharmas for limitless sentient beings. No Buddha has ever claimed that the holy Dharma can be comprised into 22 books written by one single author nor is there any prediction or scriptural quote that this would happen or that such a reduction of the Dharma would be appropriate; instead the scriptures emphasize that there exist limitless doors of Dharmas given by limitless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, they do not say to read the Dharma of another Buddha would “confuse” the own disciple. Secondly instead of seeing the dependent arising of things Kelsang Gyatso has put the blame different times solely on others and claimed at the same time he would have not done any fault at all. This shows for me that he does not apply even basics of Buddhism when he encounters problems because according to the sixteen aspects of the Four Noble Truths there is no singular external cause for the production of a phenomenon (e.g. it is not possible that the Dalai Lama is the sole and single source which created the problems with respect to the Shugden practice). All phenomena are dependent arising and arise due to many causes and conditions, its parts, and by ‘mere’ thought. So how can a Buddhist master who has an understanding of dependent arising (emptiness) put the blame on others? There is a contradiction here.
I could continue like this but to make it short, I quote from a letter Kelsang Gyatso sent to me and other students of the former NKT resident teacher of Berlin, and NKT’s representative for Germany, Gen Kelsang Dechen. I think for those who have knowledge about Buddhism, NKT’s internal (cultish) dynamics, and psychology or who rely on their common sense it will be easy to recognize that these statements by Kelsang Gyatso are highly manipulative, fear provoking, and contrary to the teachings of the Buddha and the Vinaya (the rules for Buddhist monks and nuns). Kelsang Gyatso threatened those NKT followers who were thinking to follow Gen Dechen—who has full support from Lama Gangchen Rinpoche and Lama Kundeling Rinpoche, two known Shugden Lamas—that if they do so the following will happen:
Wenn Ihr Euch entscheidet Carola zu folgen, wird die Verbindung zwischen Euch und mir automatisch enden. Aufgrund dessen werden Eure Ordinationsgelübde enden. Das bedeutet, daß Ihr nicht mehr länger ordiniert seid und Ihr könnt den Ordinationsnamen, den Ihr von mir empfangen habt, nicht mehr benutzen.
Gleichzeitig werdet Ihr die Überlieferungssegnungen, um meine Bücher zu unterrichten, nicht mehr haben. Das bedeutet, daß Ihr meine Bücher nicht als Dharma-Lehrer unterrichten könnt.
Auf diese Weise werdet Ihr in der gleichen Lage wie Carola sein.
Ich hoffe, Ihr seid Euch im klaren über Eure Entscheidung.
If you decide to follow Carola [Gen Kelsang Dechen], the connection between you and me will automatically cease. As a result of this your ordination vows will cease. This means that you are no longer ordained and that you cannot use the ordination name any more that you have received from me.
At the same time you won’t have the transmission blessings to teach my books [any more]. This means that you cannot teach my books as a Dharma teacher.
In this way you will be in the same situation like Carola.
I hope you have clarity about your decision.
This approach is “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” but it has nothing to do with Buddhism.
* Amendment, June 18, 2011
According to to some emails I’ve received in the past days this is not correct. The person asked me to state “According to this person this is not correct, they never asked Lama Zopa to be their teacher.”