It might be good to question the work of the Charity Commission (CC) with respect to the the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).
The New Kadampa Tradition is proudly claiming to have a constitution which is “completely democratic”:
Geshe Kelsang has ‘democratized’ Buddhism here in the West … (New Kadampa ‘Truth’ Blog)
… the NKT is more democratic and adapted to Western society than most Tibetan Buddhist organizations … (NKT ‘Truth’ Blog)
The charity is incorporated in England, and its constitution is completely democratic, sharing authority between a General and Deputy Spiritual Director, a team of managers and the member Centres themselves. At general meetings of the charity, each NKT-IKBU Centre is represented by its Resident Teacher. Modern Kadampa Buddhism (page 4)
But actual these claims do not match reality and the Charity Commission seems to play an important part to allow the New Kadampa Tradition to undermine democracy within their organisation more and more. I will discuss here briefly three rules and procedures which undermine democracy within the NKT organisational body and which indicate that the Charity Commission might fail to do their work properly allowing thereby undemocratic developments within one of the biggest—and most controversial (David Barrett)—Buddhist organisations in Great Britain which is involved in Britain’s NHS, education and chaplaincy work. (Recent development: the installation of an International Kadampa Primary School in Derbyshire.)
(1) In about 2006 the NKT was able to get through the Charity Commission the new rule that all NKT Resident Teachers in the UK are natural legal members of each local independent NKT centre / charity trust. This means that each of the about 51-54 NKT resident teachers in the UK is at the same time a member of each independent local NKT centre (without having ever seen or worked with it at any level), and all of these 50+ NKT resident teachers are members in each local centre.
What are the consequences of this rule?
If there is a local NKT centre—which is according to NKT, CC, and its own constitution an independent charity trust—with lets say about 20 local members, then still those 50+ UK NKT Resident Teachers are also members of this supposed “independent” local UK charity trust. So the local centre is imposed to add to their members 50+ NKT Resident Teachers which they might have never met or seen or who have never ever contributed to their centre. Those 50+ NKT Resident Teachers can overpower any vote by the local NKT centre with 20 origin members just by their majority. This scenario has been applied by NKT leadership already in the context of the Losang Draga Centre (the local charity trustees didn’t want to sell the centre but NKT leadership wanted to sell it–the Charity Commission knows about it and didn’t take actions) and recently NKT tried to apply this rule with respect to the Maitreya Centre in order to remove “rebellious” trustees and to replace them with trustees who are utter obedient to NKT leadership (see story and discussion here.) The Charity Commission does not take actions in this case either, except to suggest a mediation.
(2) There is another rule in the charity constitution of NKT which gives the NKT head office a veto in all decisions. All though veto can be found also in the UN context and other contexts, the Berlin state cult authority recommended not to install such a veto in the charity constitution of a Buddhist Centre in Berlin because this might contribute to a cult-like culture within the charity. In the NKT context such a veto is a perfect means to undermine any democracy because it is already a fact in the culture within NKT that NKT Resident Teachers, and NKT monks and nuns just obey unquestioned the wishes of the NKT secretary / leadership.
In about 2002 the NKT sent internal orders to all NKT centres to make sure that members of the local charity trusts are utter committed members of the NKT who do not question NKT head office’s authority. (At that time the NKT started to establish the New Kadampa Hotels and feared that members of local charity trusts might object this development as too mundane. A women of a local NKT charity trust in Germany told me about this. She was removed as a member of the local charity when she was sick in a hospital without having the chance to object her removal and after this internal order had been sent.)
Although the NKT Internal Rules were not part of the charity constitution of the NKT and not a part of the local NKT charity constitutions either the Charity Commission allowed the NKT to impose the NKT Internal Rules as part of the charity constitution of all NKT centres in UK.
(3) Recently the NKT tried to replace their present constitution by a new constitution which gives them even more power over local NKT centres and allows NKT leadership to remove charity trustees as they please.
The rule that NKT leadership in Great Britain decides who the local NKT teacher is (for instance in Germany, Brazil or where ever) had been proofed already to be very difficult, and also to be against other countries’ laws. A local NKT Resident Teacher could have taken up a loan by a local bank for the development of the centre (which happened in Berlin in 1999/2000) and if he or she is removed by NKT leadership in Great Britain suddenly this person would be in the situation of still being legally fully in charge of the loan the NKT is benefiting from without having any influence about the centre’s development any more. That’s why the lawyer of our Berlin NKT centre insisted in 2000 that the constitution must be changed to that the NKT in Great Britain cannot decide who is the NKT teacher of a NKT centre in Berlin / Germany. (What had been done then.) If the NKT is able to install / de-install the charity trustees of a local NKT centre as they please, the legal consequences can bring a great harm to the removed charity trustees. Not only this, where is the self-acclaimed independence of local NKT centres and democracy in this?
- The NKT and the UK Charity Commission – Part II 2010/03/07
- Do New Kadampa Tradition abuse the Charity Status for Political Activities? 2009/12/21
- Maitreya Buddhist Centre – News
- Charity Commission ‘not fit for purpose’, says Margaret Hodge
Highly critical report warns commission’s failure to investigate fraud and abuse was undermining public faith in good causes – The Guardian
If one looks more closely to the NKT Internal Rules, e.g. rule 10. “Withdrawal of authorisations”*, it becomes clear that NKT is rather an organisation which bestows identity and if one leaves that organisation one is loosing identity, including one’s name. Such a rule does not exist in democratic institutions nor monasteries, that by leaving them one cannot make use of the achievements one attained there. It is even more undemocratic and against the Vinaya and Buddhist teaching, that NKT ordained monks and nuns are threatened that if they leave NKT, they would loose their ordination. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso himself wrote me personally a letter in July 2000 which he sent also to the whole NKT ordained Sangha in Berlin saying:
Wenn Ihr Euch entscheidet Carola [Gen Kelsang Dechen] 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 ceases automatically. As a result, also your ordination vows will cease (to exist). This means that you are no longer ordained, and you cannot use the name no longer that you have received from me.
At the same time you won’t have any more the transmission blessings to teach my books. This means that you can not teach my books as a Dharma teacher.
In this way you will be in the same situation as Carola.
I hope you realize you are about your decision.
10. Withdrawal of authorisations
10§1. If any present or former NKT-IKBU Dharma Teacher separates from the NKT-IKBU and establishes a spiritually independent organisation, or follows another spiritual tradition, then he or she can no longer hold the lineage and spiritual tradition of the New Kadampa Tradition. In particular he or she cannot:
• teach any of the three Study Programmes: General Programme, Foundation Programme, or Teacher Training Programme, that are related to the NKT tradition;
• grant the empowerments of Lower or Highest Yoga Tantras that are related to the NKT tradition;
• grant ordination vows that are related to the NKT tradition; and
• use any spiritual name received from the NKT tradition, such as his or her ordination name or any special title such as ‘Gen-la’, ‘Gen’ or ‘Kadam’.
10§2. Each and every NKT-IKBU Resident Teacher should sign the NKT-IKBU ‘Agreement for Resident Teachers’ declaring that they agree to the above rule 10§1, and this declaration should be countersigned by a witness.
Last edited by tenpel on December 4, 2013 at 10:07 am