The Monk Who Had No Confidence: ‘Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche’

GUEST POST by Carol McQuire

I write with sadness and shock about a person who was my ‘teacher’ for 12 years. I have researched Kelsang Gyatso’s life for the last three months. I have consulted books, websites, videos, academics, monks, teachers, Tibetans, westerners, and of course, listened to other NKT ‘survivors’. I can reference my sources. I will show you that Kelsang Gyatso does not have the qualifications or experience you would expect a ‘lineage holder’ in Tibetan Buddhism to have. The phrase ‘getting away with it’ comes to mind. And ‘beware of too many titles’?

NKT followers will say this does not matter. That is their decision. But in terms of what this means for Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism in Britain at least, is that in relation to what ‘training’ and what ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ is, the NKT is not. To attribute failures to ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ when what is at fault is the corruption of a system that in its own context has produced marvellous human beings is mistaken. ‘Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’ is the product of invasion, destruction and diaspora, perhaps even trauma. His NKT is ‘not’ Tibetan Buddhism – the NKT will already tell you that. But the ways in which it ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ Tibetan Buddhism – most NKT followers don’t know.

I have made a document. If any Tibetans or westerners can provide added information to complement or discredit my account, it will be welcomed. The process of making it – and it is ongoing – is full of side tracks and cul de sacs. I imagined a stressed NKT ‘Education Programme Co-ordinator’ trying to finish a leaflet, with instructions from his or her Resident Teacher to ‘write about Geshe-la’s life’ and very little information, inventing a few extra details to make up the word count. I enclose one account of his life circulated amongst NKT ordained at the end so that you can see the myths exposed. Like the ‘third Buddha’ attribution – Kelsang Gyatso can always say “It’s up to my students what they say!” And perhaps that’s what his students wanted to hear.

Nothing is clear in Kelsang Gyatso’s life. Even his birth place is unclear, given differently according to your source. NKT accounts differ. There is no authorised biography. There is no biography. It all feels ‘hidden’, uncertain and vague; nothing can be ‘known’ accurately – his teachers, his studies, the transmissions he received, when, where and from whom, even if he was fully ordained. Tibetan sources say he was not. As an ex NKTer said “He goes to great lengths to have his followers talk about him.” He can always say later that they made a mistake!

I have not analysed the ‘story’ of how Manjushri Institute was lost to Kelsang Gyatso and his students. I have reconfigured some ‘facts’ about Kelsang Gyatso in a slightly different way. I have mostly used Kelsang Gyatso’s own words – he tries to keep carefully within the boundaries of what could be called ‘truthful’ in his books and often ‘gives himself away’ in his oral teachings, if you understand the Tibetan context. A lot of the meaning comes from what he leaves out, not what he says. For instance, in his books, he only credits having received two teachings from a particular teacher and these are the teachings he first gave in the UK; commentaries to Lamrim and Vajrayogini practice. Nothing else is given an ‘oral’ source, unheard of in Tibetan Buddhism. For a ‘master’ who complains that His Holiness is ‘destroying the pure Dharma of Je Tsongkhapa’, Kelsang Gyatso has remarkably little of that lineage in himself. Whether through illness or through other causes, he is not remembered by many Tibetan sources as actually being seen studying in Tibet, (though a top Geshe did say that ‘Kelsang Gyatso did well in his studies’) and he managed to avoid the very transmissions from His Holiness the Dalai Lama that would have provided a basis for a ‘Je Tsongkhapa’ lineage. Of course, his uncle was the Kuten Lama, a Shugden oracle, so he most probably had a monastic education, but I can find little proof other than his own words until he arrives in Buxar in exile. I have still yet to find ‘Nyamring’, or ‘Ngamring Jampaling’ monastery where he was living as a child. There are leads, but nothing is definitive.

How could I teach as I could not speak English? I had no confidence” thought Kelsang Gyatso before coming to England. Perhaps it wasn’t the English he lacked confidence in. How much Dharma did he study? We don’t know. All his major books – presentations of standard, traditional texts common to all branches of Tibetan Buddhism – were translated by Tenzin P. Phunrabpa to whom credit should still be given, including for Ocean of Nectar. Most of the NKT study programmes are based on these early books. NKT students think that these commentaries to introductory texts are ‘Geshe-la’s’ and his greatest and unique kindness to them. They are not unusual – they are packaged properly.

His later books weren’t translated from Kelsang Gyatso’s oral teachings: they were written with the Tharpa editing team and panned out through local NKT study programmes. The focus has been, not teaching his students, but ‘The Importance of Developing New Dharma Centres’, the name of an NKT leaflet published in 1992. Kelsang Gyatso has not published more complex books as he matures, but simpler ones to attract a simpler audience. His attempt at publishing for a Tibetan audience, in 2014, was quickly dropped from the Tharpa website after the gift of 500 books to a Shugden monastery in India, Shar Gaden. I was told by two separate sources, that the Tibetan spelling was remarkably bad. Kelsang Gyatso did offer us the ‘Perfection of Wisdom Sutras’ (I heard him live, I can’t remember the year) but said that we ‘weren’t ready for it’ and should do more Lamrim. That book never appeared.

Kelsang Gyatso has repeatedly stated that ‘the book is the teacher’ and given minimal oral or ‘live’ commentaries to his own published books as he stressed, as his students, that we read the book ‘again and again’ as he did, until it felt like ‘Je Tsongkhapa was talking to him’. In the NKT Teacher Training Programme we were asked how we were going to create those experiences for ourselves. Transmissions from thin air…? In the Tibetan world this is not transmission, especially for tantra: if everything is edited, shortened and rounded out, then ‘what’ were we studying? Like the medicinal tree, we had part of the beauty of Dharma. The danger is in taking that as the ‘whole’. If there’s a long way to fall, as in tantric practice, you need more instructions, not less. You can’t make do with a book and your own imagination. You can easily get lost, disoriented, confused and, dangerously mistaken. And ‘teach’ the same misapprehensions to others, even if you are ‘keeping to the words in the books’ as an NKT teacher. At what point in this process of ‘bringing pure Dharma to the West’ is the ‘transmission’ lost? That is a new question. And we don’t really know what ‘transmissions’ Kelsang Gyatso has. Any Tibetan teacher will tell you; it’s their guarantee.

My conclusion? Read his life. (Out soon!) I think, with so little formal study, that Kelsang Gyatso, faced with a request from Geshe Rabten to go to Switzerland in 1978 to teach Dharmakirti’s Pramanavartika, (difficult even for highly trained teachers), soon realised he’d be better as an ‘independent’ teacher with his own British students, far away from the ‘systems’ he left behind in Tibet. He’s still fighting those systems, so that he can’t be ‘seen’ by them, hiding as he is behind ‘Shugden’ and full of blame. Is this a smoke screen for the fact that he never became what His Holiness the Dalai Lama definitively is, a fully qualified teacher? If you abandon a ‘system’, you have to create your own – I feel Kelsang Gyatso got trapped within his own invention as the very system he rejected is simultaneously also the source of his own attraction.

If my ‘life’ of Kelsang Gyatso provokes a proper biography, or parts of one, I will be content. Kelsang Gyatso is an unknown.

Carol McQuire, New Kadampa Survivors, 31st October 2014.

Last edited on Nov. 2, 2014, 2:23 pm

See also


  1. Well put. Indeed Kelsang Gyatso is a master in telling by not telling, a master of indirect speech and a master in letting fill out the listener what he aims they should think without that he states it directly.

    Certain patterns of what you write can be recognized at the eModernBuddhism-site (gaps of factual information are filled with boasting claims). I find especially the claim “that reveal the entire Buddhist path to enlightenment” not humble at all (as the text states at the end), and it is a claim you cannot prove. There are also factual wrong claims. His texts don’t include the Buddha’s Sutra and Tantra teachings. He mentions them here and there and only some of them. I think most NKT people even never heard about the Sutra of Golden Light. To “reveal the entire Buddhist path to enlightenment” in only 21 books (some of them copy and pastes from other books) would also imply that he is more clever than Tsongkhpa and that he didn’t miss any thing. This cannot be established as valid and it is more likely untrue because a lot is not there. For instance, he didn’t teach about or write about Abhisamayalamkara, Abdhidharmakosha, Vinaya, Pramanavartrika … But of course, as you say Carol, who leaves a system has to create his own, and he has to claim it would be equally sufficient to attain enlightenment. His heart sons didn’t give an example of enlightenment nor do his protesters, including Khyenrab and Dekyong … And did Kelsang Gyatso give the example of an enlightened being? For me not. He always blames others, he doesn’t see dependent arising and points at a single person to be the sole culprit/guilty of any undesired situation.

    Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was ordained as a Buddhist monk in Tibet at the age of eight. He is a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism. Living in the West since 1977, he is the author of 21 highly acclaimed books that reveal the entire Buddhist path to enlightenment, including Buddha’s Sutra and Tantra teachings. He has also founded over 1,100 Kadampa Meditation Centers and groups around the world.

    Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism.

    Geshe-la, as he is affectionately called by his students, is primarily responsible for the worldwide revival of Kadampa Buddhism in our time.

    From the age of eight Geshe-la studied extensively in the great monastic universities of Tibet and earned the title ‘Geshe’, which literally means ‘spiritual friend’. Under the guidance of his Spiritual Guide, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, he then spent the next eighteen years in meditation retreats in the Himalayas.

    In 1977 he accepted an invitation to teach at Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre in England, where he has lived and taught ever since, giving teachings and guidance to an ever-growing group of disciples.

    Each year, Geshe-la gives teachings and empowerments at the International Kadampa Festivals, which are attended by thousands of people from all over the world.

    He has published a series of remarkable books on Buddhism and meditation, from basic introductory books to advanced philosophical texts and meditation manuals.

    Geshe-la has established three unique study programs and 1100 centers and groups around the world, trained hundreds of qualified Teachers and a flourishing ordained community, and created a project to build Buddhist Temples in every major city in the world.

    In his teachings Geshe Kelsang emphasizes the importance of meditation and how to apply it in daily life, the need to be truly happy, and how to cultivate a good heart to help others — and he demonstrates these qualities perfectly in his own life.

    This remarkable Teacher inspires so many people from so many different countries because he teaches from example.

    He is a humble Buddhist monk dedicated to helping people throughout the world find true happiness in their hearts.

    • ¿Can you guys see the Dalai Lama’s mind? or ¿Can you guys see the Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s mind? ¿How do you know who is lying and who is saying the truth? maybe Sherlock Holmes can help you.

      From my point of view, when I see Dalai Lama, I feel confused and I see a sad person carry with his own heavy mistakes. When I see Gueshe Kelsang Gyatso I get a peaceful mind and I feel I am close to get direct realisation that just can cause their blessings.
      Do you know that finally, what manifest to your mind depends of your purity? There are not inherently existent Gueshe Kelsang Gyatso and there are not inherently existent Dalai Lama. Sorry, are you investigating something that you will never find as absolute truth.
      So, will be your feelings your real treasure when death comes.

      So please, if you cannot see others minds I propose that you concentrate in your own mind, and with faith and strong regret ask for forgiveness you for your deep mistakes. This path, that you are walking, leads to the lower realms.


      • Hi Dindalo,
        indeed it is difficult to judge if someone lied or not. That’s why I always recommend to be cautious in calling someone a liar – except you have a perfect proof that a person told something deliberately wrong although he knew the truth. It was the NKT and Geshe Kelsang who started to call HH the Dalai Lama a liar just because he doesn’t subscribe to their extremely rare point of view that Shugden is a Buddha. However, not accepting Shugden as a Buddha if you have good reasons and evidence is not a lie. The whole distorted liar blaming game was started by Geshe Kelsang and NKT. The Dalai Lama only refused to accept to be a liar because for him, he didn’t lie.

        What ever you see, if you feel confused or not when you see an animate or inanimate objet tells more about you than about the object you observe. The confusion is in your mind. The Buddha doesn’t experience confusion when he sees an object. He is not even confused about evil indented human beings such as Devadatta nor about people who want to kill him like Angulimala.

        Happy to hear that you feel peace when you see Geshe Kelsang.

        If it is true what you say

        Do you know that finally, what manifest to your mind depends of your purity?

        it follows you and all the NKT followers as well as Geshe Kelsang suffer from an impure mind because you see the Dalai Lama as “evil and very cruel”, as a “Liar”, “21st Century Dictator” etc.

        With respect to your advice, what about to practice first what you preach and delivering this advice to Geshe Kelsang, Kelsang Khyenrab, Dekyong, Rabten etc etc? It follows, “So please, if the NKT leadership and their followers cannot see the Dalai Lama’s mind I propose that you concentrate in your own mind, and with faith and strong regret ask for forgiveness him for your deep mistakes. This path, that you are walking, leads to the lower realms.”


        • Hi Tempel,

          First of all ,sorry about my english. I try my best to be clear.

          From your point of view, when the Dalai Lama appears in your mind, you see a holy being in front of you. That is totally right and perfectly true. In the same way, when Gueshe Kelsang Gyatso appears in front of me, I see a holy being and I think that is also right and totally true.

          That means that we have different connection with different mental continuous. The connection that you built with the Dalai Lama is wonderful and a miracle and also I think my connection with Gueshe Kelsang Gyatso is wonderful and a miracle too. I believe that is a miracle because, with this connections, we connect with the wisdom. And this is a real good fortune.

          So, in the other hand, it is perfectly true that Dalai Lama and yourself, when appears in your own minds the form, speech or mind of Dorye Shugden, you guys percibe something dark, I mean, a bad spirit.
          But you have to agree that is also right that when the form, speech or mind of Dorye Shugden appears in my mind, I experience the unity between this holy deity, Je Tsongkapa and Buddha Shakyamuni. And this experience is reality, and as true as your experience.

          Both experiences are true, are reality, because all the phenomena, all the experiences that you have right now, depends of our previous actions, our Karma, our mind’s potentials. That implies, that you will have different experience than me in a lot of things although we experiment the same base phenomena.

          Now my question is: why the Dalai Lama ask others to feel and to experience the same that him with the phenomena of Dorge Shugden, if he perfectly knows that there is not inherent existence?

          Why, I say, somebody can be absolutly sure that Dorje Shugden practice is bad for every one, specially when most of the modern tibetan lamas, lineage Gurus and profound scholars did the practice all his lives? I think one thing is to correct your teacher but other is to say that most of the modern teachers that had “worshiping” Dorje Shugden, are now in the Lower Realms because this practice. I think this is an extreme view. Sorry. So, if all my lineage Gurus are in lower realms because the Dorye Shugden’s practice, I swear I want also to be there. Sorry.

          So, why do not respect my believing, my own experience of Dorye Shugden?

          May be because you feel that you are right and others are wrong. Is ok, most humans beings feel exactly the same.

          You got my point?

          Could be wonderful if you accept that your Dorye Shugden judgment is relative. That it is possible that, in the same instant, someone see Dorje Shugden form and feels a bad spirit and other see Dorje Shugden and see a perfectly enlightened buddha.

          It is correct from the dharma point of view?

          Thank you.

          • Hi Dindalo,
            a quick reply …

            Its not a matter of how you perceive things but rather how they are – though of course mind plays an important role in how things are perceived. Let’s put it straightforwardly, if a terrorist appears to you it is not that he appears to you as a terrorist and to the Buddha as a pure being. A terrorist with evil intentions to kill as many people as possible will appear also to the Buddha as what he is, a terrorist with evil intentions to kill as many people as possible. (However, relativity means for instance, to his son he will be still the father – maybe even a kind father; but he is also a terrorist.)

            You can understand this also with the example of Devadatta, the envy cousin of the Buddha. The Buddha saw Devadatta’s bad intentions, evil minded plans and so did Shariputra and others. However, there were some disciples of the Buddha who fell pray to the boasting and manipulations of Devadatta and started to follow him. When they saw Devadatta as a pure being they were just deluded. Devadatta misguided them… That’s why the Buddha sent his two main disciples to those of his disciples who followed Devadatta and asked Shariputra and Maudgalyana (when I remember the story correctly) to tell them that Devadatta is a deceptive teacher and that they shouldn’t follow him. The Buddha also asked his monks to announce in all directions that Devadatta can’t be considered as a member of his / or representing the Sangha. Some understood and disconnected from Devadatta, however, some continued to follow Devadatta … (as far as I know Devadatta’s followers continued to be a group even after the death of Devadatta …)

            As you see from this example of the life of the Buddha himself, the Buddha was able to judge an evil intended being as what it is. Even if all the disciples of Devadatta saw Devadatta as holy and pure, it was a misconception, a delusion, not in line with reality.

          • This fundamental misunderstanding of dependant origination is recurrent among NKT posters, mostly newcomers to the dharma
            For a phenomenon to actually exist in the relative domain, three fundamental components are required: causes, components, and mental label. This is Nagarjunas teaching on the three levels of dependant origination. To suggest that a phenomenon exists simply because one labels it in a particular way overlooks the necessity of the causes and components being present. It is akin to suggesting that, when the causes and components of a human being come together, if we see the resultant appearance as a banana then for us it becomes a banana. This, from my PoV is insanity, not Buddhism.Try peeling and eating the resultant appearance and you will see if it is a banana.
            This isn’t Buddhism, it’s solipsism used to justify dangerous misconception It is false dharma and a degenerate view

            • You are very right, no name.

              This nihilistic view of things, which is things are what you label them, is widespread in NKT. It was spread also by Kadam Ryan in the official NKT chat in the past (nobody objected it) and it has been expressed here on the blog by NKT followers again and again, and again and again we corrected this dangerous view here on the blog. It is dangerous because it undermines your discrimination for good and bad ethics or wise and foolish persons or negative or positive influences etc.

              However, when I addressed the topic in an extra post “Name only”: The dangerous attitude of Nihilism being taught in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) it was of course an NKT follower who wanted to convince me that NKT doesn’t teach it but they do or they teach emptiness in a way that people very easily and widespread misunderstand it that way as Dindalo has misunderstood it. I can’t remember any NKT teacher who was able to clarify these misunderstandings because at my time in NKT, this wrong view was also widespread and nobody whatsoever, has ever made one aware of its fallacy or corrected it. Such a wrong vieww – things are how you see them or things are how you label them – was instead approved to be correct and sustained by further (faulty) explanations.

              • This nihilistic teaching is maintained and sustained in the NKT as it enables the NKT to make its students accept whatever the NKT wants them to accept as ‘reality’. Students are trained in ignoring their own perceptions and ethics and substituting NKT perceptions and ethics. To prove you are a ‘good Kadampa practitioner’ NKT style you are encouraged to engage in actions that may make you unpopular with ‘ordinary’ people, such as shouting defamatory accusations at the Dalai Lama. To do this, people need to be disconnected from their own perceptions by thinking that nothing is ‘out there’ except what they are told to perceive. And to be a ‘good student’ they need to perceive what the NKT tells them to perceive. This is what makes the NKT a dangerous organisation – in that it trains people to disconnect from reality in the name of ‘protecting the pure tradition’. To ‘protect the NKT’ you are expected to perceive the Dalai Lama as ‘corrupt’.

                I would like to see a public debate between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kelsang Gyatso. The respective existent qualities of each teacher would be very easy to investigate in this way. I would probably bet on the fact that ‘Kelsang Gyatso’ is not a person that Dindalo has met, so, as far as he or she is concerned, Kelsang Gyatso’s very existence is questionable and taken on ‘faith’. I would bet that Dindalo has a western person telling him or her that ‘Geshe-la is a Buddha’ and that thinking this way is a ‘fast path’ to enlightenment.

                Having heard Kelsang Gyatso teach live on many occasions, I know, for instance, that he is not capable of speaking English at the level that his books imply. Much of what ‘Kelsang Gyatso’ is for NKT students is a constructed phenomenon that has been deleted from the ‘credits’ that used to appear in those very books. As No Name rightly reminds us – What are the causes and conditions for Kelsang Gyatso to ‘appear as a Buddha’ for Dindalo? The books, the centres, the gardens and the cafes the NKT so enthusiastically create. Not the live presence or real human interaction a teacher, particularly in the Tibetan tradition, is expected to give as the basis for the slow development of a genuine Guru Yoga practice.

                It is as if the long, complex and individual spiritual path in the Tibetan tradition is compressed into a simplistic ‘think this way and you will be saved’ conversion into the NKT’s view of reality, as ‘nothing’ else is out there… is it? And unfortunately, nothing ends up ‘existing’ in the minds of so many NKT students except the NKT and its values and intentions – that everyone in the whole world be so fortunate as to be able to engage in ‘Kadampa meditation’ for ‘World Peace’. A hugely ironic intention considering how much upset the NKT has caused those who disagree with its aims.

                • We have a family friend with Alzheimer’s-it is so sad to see this person try to appear lucid enough to have a simple conversation. Looking back at encounter with him a few years back-when the Alzheimer’s was in an earlier stage-the condition certainly explains some erratic and slightly inappropriate behaviour.
                  People have speculated that Kelsang Gyatso is suffering from dementia. Based on our experience with our friend, I can’t help thinking this would both explain and excuse Gyatso’s strange and bitter political performance taken up with great fervour by his devotees since the 1990’s.
                  More than a little ironic is the fate of NKT with all their “palaces of impermanence.” Kelsang Gyatso should therefore be an object of compassion.

                  • I agree totally that he should be an object of compassion (as well as of affection and love). However, I dodn’t think his deep seated grudge and hostility – hate – against the Dalai Lama is caused by dementia. Maybe dementia – if he developed it, might be even a cause for him to forget his main enemy. Which would be quite of a spiritual helpful occasion…

                • “This nihilistic teaching is maintained and sustained in the NKT as it enables the NKT to make its students accept whatever the NKT wants them to accept as ‘reality’. Students are trained in ignoring their own perceptions and ethics and substituting NKT perceptions and ethics.”
                  I’m not so sure this is deliberate policy; such an assumption smacks of conspiracy theory. From my PoV, the reason such ideas persist is because the NKT is made up primarily of people young and inexperienced in genuine dharma, a closed system that lacks the guidance of experienced practitioners where wrong concepts flourish simply because they persistently go unchallenged. I doubt very much that someone sits there decreeing that certain misconceptions be allowed to persist since they serve a purpose of maintaining wrong views that perpetuate cult ‘group think’
                  As for a public debate between HH and KG, there is little point in wishing for such since it will never happen.
                  The compressed path the NKT offers is not an alternative to the Tibetan tradition, it is a micro representation of one path within the huge multi faceted edifice that is Tibetan Buddhism Tibetan Buddhism presents a seemingly endless variety of different approaches o cater to the needs of varied individuals The travesty of NKT thinking is the assumption that having understood superficially the teachings of Je Tzongkapa, albeit through the filter of one mans egotistic and self serving interpretation, followers have seen the greater truth as it is presented in all the varied presentations that exist within the Tibetan traditions.Such narrow minded sectarian thinking Is not the sole domain of young NKT followers. Dogmatic thought arises naturally even in the mind of new western converts of the genuine traditions, particularly where they have failed to fully examine the teachings outside their world and have made the sweeping assumption that they have found the highest truth and thus need look no further.
                  You are right about KGs English AFAIR it was always broken, pidgin English and he made no effort to improve it.While I am sure he is eloquent in his own language, the language in NKT books is flat and uninspiring. They could easily have been written by Siri, using a cut and paste strategy while utilising a dictionary of tired Buddhist cliches for those who are easily satisfied with superficial thought. They resemble in their profundi such titles as ‘500 recipes for microwave cooking”, on sale at your local, discontinued line, discount book store. Hopefully closing down soon

                  • I agree. I didn’t reply because I had reservations about that this attitude is deliberately maintained. My observation is rather, that there is a huge lack of awareness or introspection and a high resistance to see and to accept own faults. This hinders a healthy questioning of one’s own views and perceptions and as a result there is much blindness. This blindness and the harmful actions deriving from it are not deliberate, rather the beings blinded by mind processes resulting from pride, sectarianism etc. make those beings who in disseminate such distorted views on emptiness a victim of themselves.

                    To understand that these processes are not deliberate is also important for the cultivation of one’s own acceptance/patience, compassion and capacity to forgive and to let go. I remember at one point Alex Berzin looked me in the eyes – after I told him some stories about Dechen: “Do you think she does it deliberately?” I thought careful about it, and the insight that she does most of the things because she can’t see her errors, that she is just spiritually blind, and can’t do it better, helped me tremendously.

                    However, theoretically it could be deliberately but if you carefully check, there is a sense of honesty in this blindness that also touches me or others. This makes it unlikely that these are deliberate actions.

                    • IT is essential when making criticism of the NKTS approach that any criticisms are based on rational and dispassionate observations and not on emotions such as resentment, exaggeration or conspiracy theorising. Even if our motivation is sound, If our allegations and criticisms are based on such exaggerated assertions, this will only evoke vehement, JUSTIFIED and seemingly VALID responses. The result, in the eyes of the undecided is the accuser becomes the loser and the villains the winners.

                    • To issue criticisms based on rational and dispassionate observations and not on emotions is the optimum approach if you want to reach people with your arguments. However, sometimes this is not possible. Which I think is also important to accept. However, its true, you rather loose creditability in the eye of the dispassionate reader in such cases.

                    • Agreed
                      Jigme Yeshe’s work is clearly of some importance to her. My motivation in pointing out the need for a more dispassionate analysis is because her intention is to reach as many people as possible This cannot be achieved by basing any analysis on exaggerated propositions. The story of the NKT is in itself sufficient to convince one of its dangers- it does not need embellishments

                    • Tenpel. I think it is important to separate out the different levels at which decisions are made within the NKT. The level at which I am speaking of ‘manipulating’ the NKT teachings is at the highest level. The majority of the teachers, even Resident Teachers, will not be aware of this ‘deliberation’. The NKT is a construct created by a group of highly ambitious and highly focused intelligent individuals over nearly 40 years. The NKT has been changing radically (to use one of their new favourite words!) to foster and implement more control over the growing empire of centres. There is a marketing process in which ‘new teachings’ and ‘special transmissions’ are brought in to keep the audience entranced. The design of these ways of promoting the NKT is deliberate and thought out; not an accident. The creation of the NKT was not an accident. It has been a relentless de-Tibetanising of the teachings, a relentless drive to become completely independent of any other group; Shugden reinforces this separation and isolation. What could have been a more simple desire by Kelsang Gyatso to ‘preserve’ the ‘Shugden tradition’ he received from Trijang Rinpoche, became, in the hands of his western student elite, a method for increasing the power of the NKT. That whole process was very, very deliberate – trying out different versions of prayers, of words, of tunes. Shifting, deleting, editing, adding. This process isn’t done by the ‘ordinary’ Resident Teacher.

                      And compassion? I don’t feel there is any difference. Surely we would feel more compassion for someone who is deliberately constructing a sectarian agenda. I recall to mind Neil Elliott’s extraordinary justification of ‘ridicule as a protest technique’ as one example.

                  • My point about a debate was to emphasize the disparity in skill between the teachers I compared, not to say that I ever thought it would be at all possible.

                    I came to a ‘rational and dispassionate’ conclusion that the NKT ‘project’ of insufficient grounding in reality being a deliberate policy due to various observations and comparisons. Principally:

                    a) the complete lack of attention to meditation practice in relation to respecting one’s own integrity as the basis for the path (‘Good Kadampas’ follow instructions)

                    b) the chronic and persistent complaint of ex NKT suffering some degree of ‘dissociation’; separation between mind and body, a ‘non-groundedness’ that appears to come from leapfrogging practices of shamatha to use the fantasies of ‘tantra’ based on making Kelsang Gyatso the ‘essence’ of the path in ways quite unlike what is done elsewhere. Hearing hours of teachings by the Dalai Lama, for instance, does not create this ‘space-like’ effect. NKT teachings do.

                    c) the extraordinary project of ‘editing’ that is occurring with all the ‘new’, new versions of Kelsang Gyatso’s books as well as the earlier ‘progress’ from the first editions. Editing cannot be anything other than deliberate. When Neil Elliott started editing, which can be traced by the credits that used to exist within the books, the style and content change considerably.

                    I suggest that No Name was not trained in the NKT and has not watched the NKT’s ‘progression’ with sufficient interest to see that my comments do not correspond to ‘conspiracy theories’ but to realistic appraisals of NKT development. The ‘inner circle’ of the NKT makes decisions very deliberately. I was present on occasions when precisely these kind of policies were discussed – ‘how’ the NKT method would be promoted. From the days of ‘Transform Your Life’ the NKT’s policy was to simplify to be able to ‘spread’ the NKT more easily.

                    Simplified presentations are easier to ‘spread’ and the NKT’s ‘same classes all over the world’, with teachers giving the ‘same explanations’ with ‘no misunderstandings’ (in Kelsang Gyatso’s words), is a deliberate method to control NKT teachers. Power and policy coming from the editing project, the ‘modern’ Buddhism they promote.

                    Simply put, the NKT way of teaching emptiness, lacking complexity and accuracy, enables the organisation to have more power over students who can easily fill the role of ‘teachers’ who teach by rote, obliged to quote the words from the books, trusting in the books far more than in their own practice; as a teacher you are deliberately told to put your own reactions aside as ‘Geshe-la’ and the NKT ‘know best’. Their presentation of emptiness facilitates this.

                    It’s easy to be a ‘Kelsang Gyatso clone’ using his words. Impossible to be a Dalai Lama clone or a Sakya Trizin clone, isn’t it?

                    Sounds less like a ‘conspiracy theory’ now. And more an expression of the convenience of a power based organisation that craves world domination through meditation! I quote Dekyong, Summer Festival 2016; ‘Imagine that every person in the world has the good fortune to be here meditating at Manjushri’. In a ‘normal’ practice this would be one of the visualisations. For the NKT it’s a truth that needs to be put into effect – an NKT world peace temple in every city!! That’s the twist.

                    People who leave the NKT have to twist themselves back into reality. That’s what we see and hear over and over again. People have to ‘wake up’ to themselves and their own integrity. You only rise up in the NKT hierarchy if you follow instructions. You will probably say that is nothing to do with the way emptiness is taught. We can agree to disagree.

                    Eager proselytising, also prevalent in enthusiastic beginners in other ‘traditions’ but what I am referring to goes far further than that.

                    • Dindalo writes in unspecified ‘accent’ and presents a common argument that has often emanated from a certain Kuala Lumpur Chinese group. We need to remember that ostensibly English people like “Gaz Patmore”, “Kate Walker,” “Kay Beswick” and the host of other fictional identities in various ethnic flavours are not really worth seriously engaging with.
                      As for Kelsang Gyatso-his brain is not organically functioning- therefore he cannot debate or teach anything anymore to anyone and it is silly to even consider this going forward except perhaps that we are all in samsara and subject to decay. The question arise: is dementia the ultimate blessing of practicing in the New Kadampa Tradition? If so, count me out.

                    • Quite. NKT practice can be dangerous.

                      So the public needs to be warned.

                      Even though the public protests against HHDL have stopped, the secret ‘protests’ against HHDL still continue; the most gullible and enthusiastic NKT students are gradually introduced to ‘radical’ NKT thought that alienates them from anything Tibetan or from taking any refuge in His Holiness. Therefore this hypocrisy – as newcomers are also told that the NKT ‘follow the same tradition of the Dalai Lama’ – still needs to be exposed. The NKT needs a label, like a packet of cigarettes, saying that NKT practice could be bad for your health.

                      You may not consider the various people you mentioned as ‘worth taking notice of’ but they are in contact with the NKT and in many ways do Indy Hack’s dirty work for him.

                      Just because the NKT are quiet doesn’t mean that they have changed the ways of thought that provoked their defamatory protests over the last 19 years! That still needs clarifying. And there are still too many people ‘in recovery’ from the NKT to think that nothing worrying is going on.

                      But what’s the actual appeal of believing in conspiracy theories? What purpose do they serve people?

                      For one thing, conspiracy theories help us cope with distressing events and make sense out of them. Conspiracies assure us that bad things don’t just happen randomly. Conspiracies tell us that someone out there is accountable, however unwittingly or secretly or incomprehensibly, so it’s possible to stop these people and punish them and in due course let everyone else re-establish control over their own lives. Conspiracies also remind us that we shouldn’t blame ourselves for our predicaments; it’s not our fault, it’s them! In these ways, believing in conspiracies serves many of the same self-protective functions as scapegoating.


                    • He/she (!) – NoName – is welcome to ignore the facts and insist on criticising any more extensive analysis coming from experience (of so many survivor accounts) as ‘conspiracy theory’.

                      In no way does analysing ‘how the NKT is constructed’ remove the need for each person who was involved in the NKT to understand their own motivations and ‘karma’ for being there. That is a completely different topic.

                      I wonder why No Name is so dismissive of anything except ‘telling the NKT story’. But what the NKT does now is the NKT story as well, isn’t it? And that’s all I am talking about – and it’s designed and deliberate, this NKT story. There are people in the NKT who are very interested in power. Are you really saying there aren’t? When even your ‘story of the NKT’ shows that there are?

                      And lets see how this dynamic changes once certain key characters in the NKT saga are no longer with us. Why be so dismissive? I will not worry about your views – the karma of the deeper NKT story will tip itself over at some point into the public eye.

                    • No Name – replied on 7 September at 6 p.m. ish.

                      He/she (!) is welcome to ignore the facts and insist on criticising any more extensive analysis coming from experience (of so many survivor accounts) as ‘conspiracy theory’.

                      In no way does analysing ‘how the NKT is constructed’ remove the need for each person who was involved in the NKT to understand their own motivations and ‘karma’ for being there. That is a completely different topic.

                      I wonder why No Name is so dismissive of anything except ‘telling the NKT story’. But what the NKT does now is the NKT story as well, isn’t it? And that’s all I am talking about – and it’s designed and deliberate, this NKT story. There are people in the NKT who are very interested in power. Are you really saying there aren’t? When even your ‘story of the NKT’ shows that there are?

                      And lets see how this dynamic changes once certain key characters in the NKT saga are no longer with us.

                    • And your point is?
                      Sometimes, bombarding the world with endless theories, be they valid or not, makes the message you are trying to get across completely undecipherable. It’s like they say about make up “less is more”
                      I get that you are concerned for others about the growth of the NKT, which is admirable.
                      But if you really want to achieve the desired goal, bombarding others with what I experience as long, rambling tracts, tracts which at times exhibit behaviours others might perceive as paranoia/ conspiracy theory is not the way to achieve it. First, IMO, a long break from thinking about the whole issue until it becomes an obsession is needed. Like I used to tell my agoraphobic friend, you need a holiday
                      Seriously, this is not a personal attack. It’s just that your posts come across to me as obsessive and driven by intense aversion as much as they might be by compassion. I would like you to succeed but IMO to achieve that a far greater degree of detachment than you currently exhibit is needed. Otherwise, there is the danger of ones whole life being spent on something which ultimately, only damages oneself. You know the basic rules of good academic essay writing. So apply them to this.

                    • No name, “bombarding others” with “long, rambling tracts” etc., yes, you might experience it that way and you might think its counter productive. However, I am not so sure about this. What you don’t find useful might be still useful for jigmeyeshe and other ex-NKT. Remembering back, some people also complained about my long winded explanations on my German cult website. But a) at that time I could not do it better, b) “cult victims” rather absorb EVERYTHING written, no matter how longit is. It can help to unravel their mind and to put their experiences into perspective.

                      However, all in all, if you write to the press or for a broader public you need concise and to the point explanations. Though I got used to that after a while, just some days ago I wrote a too lengthly email to a German newspaper. They didn’t reply while all those who got brief, to the point and concise information replied after they checked the content. However, here on the blog, people are free to express themselves as they like to do it or as they see it beneficial. You made your points, now give jigmeyeshe please some space to follow her own ways. We have another context here on the blog than if we want to reach out to public institutions or the press … However, thank you and jigmeyeshe for the discusssion! (I only followed it superficially I have to confess …)

                    • “e/she (!) – NoName – is welcome to ignore the facts and insist on criticising any more extensive analysis coming from experience (of so many survivor accounts) as ‘conspiracy theory’.”
                      Actually that was never said. All that was done was a quote and the word ‘ interesting’ still, nevertheless, as they say, who the cap fits….
                      Sometimes, or at least once in a few lifetimes, it is very useful to take on board the advice of others, especially when it is expressed out of a desire for ones wishes to be fulfilled. Sometimes, a little criticism can be helpful. Repeatedly assuming intellectual superiority makes Jack and Jigme a dull boy!
                      A focus on the facts rather than theorising is very useful AND sufficient. When someone has been very hurt by their experience of an organization, their experience can easily make them bitter and angry and even if their intentions are good, their actions are then poisoned by their resentment. That’s why I advise letting the story tell itself- it’s sufficiently telling, without embellishment There’s no need to theorise- things are bad enough without it

                    • The type of mind abuse in question here is typified by the online review-obviously not one of those glowing ones planted by NKT:

                      “Retreat gone wrong
                      This spring, i was at the centre 3-4 times with my wife and two young daughters who attended a child care class. My wife then attended a weekend retreat without us, and believes she was targeted and subject to emotional manipulation. I would rather not go into further details but can say that the next month was rather difficult for us to survive as a family. The spiritual head (NB: in this case “Gen-la” Kelsang Khyenrab) refused to answer my request for help. I will not go back.”


              • Hi Tenpel,

                Above you said:

                “when I addressed the topic in an extra post “Name only”: The dangerous attitude of Nihilism being taught in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) it was of course an NKT follower who wanted to convince me that NKT doesn’t teach it but they do or they teach emptiness in a way that people very easily and widespread misunderstand it ”

                Not sure you mean me or someone else here ;-) At any rate, I was discussing this issue with you in that post. It is not simply my opinion, it is a fact that you are wrong in your judgement. You may recall, I posted several quotes from Geshe Kelsang’s books regarding conventional reality and compared them with quotes from Tsongkhapa, Lonsang Gyatso & Lama Yeshe. You never responded. I challenged Linda about the same thing some months ago as well, again no answer. Meanwhile, you have often casually declared that Gyatso teaches a dangerous form of emptiness in which conventional truth is established by whatever we want it to be. I see no evidence for this at all.

                I suggest clearer discrimination in this topic: You speak either of Gyatso’s books; or of certain NKT teachers (in which case you need to be specific), or of NKT students. If however you are implying all three, you err, as the view of conventional reality presented by Gyatso is in line with Tsongkhapa’s Prasangika view.

                Therefore, if you maintain that Gyatso indeed teaches nihilism, you need to show this. By the way, even if his books presented conventional reality as an ‘anything goes’ canvas – which he does not – this still would not fit the description of nihilism.

  2. It makes me sad that those of you who was regarded Geshe Kelsang as your Guru should now destroy your present and future happiness with such hatred towards someone who only showed you kindness. Very, very sad indeed – you obviously have no faith in karma.

    • Mhm Pagpa, then why not feeling sadness for your guru, that he is so full of aversion and hate towards the Dalai Lama, who is also his guru?
      It feels as quite of a ‘hypocrite sadness’ what you write here. How much happiness is Geshe-la destroying in running really bad intended rallies full of slander and lies against his guru, the Dalai Lama? As you say “with such hatred towards someone who only showed you kindness. Very, very sad indeed – he obviously has no faith in karma.” (I know a person who said that he was a witness of KG attending teachings/empowerment by the Dalai Lama. There are also other people who said this. But there is more Geshe-la got from the kindness of the Dalai Lama! Sadly he seems not to remember that …)

      And then there is also a difference. Carol doesn’t launch a slander campaign, she just investigates how much facts there are really about KG’s life … This is quite different of what KG does with the Dalai Lama …

    • ratikala DD says:

      Namaskaram Pagma ji

      Thank you for mentioning Karma , this is a very important point and one not easily understood .
      please be assured that for many of us leaving a tradition and a guru who we initialy beleived to ge showing us great kindness was not an easy descision . even questioning the teacher can be an uncomfortable experience .
      But here I think we need to realy examine the meaning of kindness . when taking on the position of Guru or teacher one takes on a huge responcibility . and even the higest teacher has an authority above him and a support system , a true Guru acts only on behalf of his Guru therefore that line canot be broken , he never acts independanty or allows his deciples to put him in the position of a god . a true Guru is the Humblest of servant of his linaige but ultimatly he is the servant of the countless Buddhas throughout time , ….he canot be in any way self serving as he is a renunciate .
      Therefore we must ask this question what is true kindness ? …is it kindness to lead ones deciples into disputes with ones liniage , is it kind to use then as foot soldiers in battle ? allowing them to committ actions that in karmic terms have some very severe implications .
      We must also ask what is our own true futue happiness , and where that happiness lay ?
      We repeatedly pray that everyone be happy , and that everyone be free from misery , …
      yet we engage in disputes that bring the entire of Buddhism into dissrepute ? causing misery for millions , and bringing Tibetan Buddhism into disrepute .
      If we are to talk of Karma than what reaction are we creating ?
      Personaly I bear no hatred or malice towards Geshe Kelsang , I canot disrespect him due to the fact that in the early days I received some very beautifull teachings from him , yet what I realised is that the teachings propagated through the NKT could only take a practitioner so far , so that when faced with a dilema such as this Shugden issue many are not equiped with the understanding nececary to deal with this issue in a way which would not become detremental to all concerned , ….therefore unfortunatly I had no option other than to reject Him as a uru as one canot take refuge where hatred and ignorance is permited to exist .
      I could not , and would not be in a place where the Dalai Lama was held in such contempt , and would not as I was asked make a chioce between the two , how ever even leaving in the early stages of this ugly dispute was not easy , but staying would not have contributed to my happiness or future wellbeing either , there were some that tried to encorage me just to get on with my Dharma practice and not let this dispute destract me , if one could remain in the NKT in blissfull ignorance of the actions of some of the group? ….there was what seemed to me an unhealthy attitude of compliance , and a beleif that we should continue our practice for the sake of all the suffering beings traped in samsara , …

      But here we must examine Karma very carefully , the sanskrit root of ‘Karma’ is action and as we know every action has a reaction , … we must very carefull study the far reaching implications of not only our own actions but of our actions as a group , therefore even if only by association we are implicit in unwholsome actions of any group we identify with . What I canot understand is how or why Geshe Kelsang has permited his students to even take part in any campaign which fostered such hatred . personaly I canot call this kindness . furthermore I canot understand how he allowed his devotees to enter a plea of human rights ??? …I canot help but see that Human rights is a secular issue , …this is not a secular issue , this is a devotional issue . ..therefore if we are so filled with the ideal of Bodhichitta , and with the aspiration that all beings should have the oppertunity to attain enlightenment , then what would we care about our own rights , what would we realy care about one particular practice amongst many ? ..could we not give up one practice or are we so attatched to it that we are prepaired to jeopardise the entire reputation of Tibetan Buddhism for the sake of our attatchment ?

      Yes , we must examine the implications of our actions , not just for our own sake , but for the sake of all .
      we must also carefully examine what we mean by present and future happiness and what truely equates to happiness ? also we must examine the future hapiness of others and that Buddha Dharma not be brought into disrepute or that it is permitted to be used as a politicaly divisive tool .

  3. ratikala DD says:

    Dear Carol ,

    Thank you for your refreshingly astute post , with out need to recourse to slander your observations pin point the sadness of this entire situation .

    Had I not had the great fortune to have come across the Tibetan Works and Archives editions of Tibetan texts before meeting up with the NKT , I like many others would have had no means of comparison between Geshe Kelsangs writings and teachings and those of many other highly qualified but infinatly more humble lamas both senior and contemporary to Geshe Kelsang , it was only because of this prior knowledge that I was a little cautious of the whorlwind romance many westerners had with the teachings of Geshe Kelsang .
    I can agree entirely with the suggestion That Geshe Kelsang may have chosen to split away (for numerous reasons) to teach independantly , but even that there is every possibility that there may well have been a genuine wish to give simple Dharma teachings that would be of benifit to the western mind , …how ever at the same time due to inexperience of the west he prehaps underestimated the extent of grasping that the western mind is capable of .
    having adopted him as their teacher and taken to his teachings and to the Ideal of blissfull hapiness through the practice of bodhichitta , the western mind is prone to attatch , then to vhemently deffend the object of its attatchment , by 1996 , it was eveident that this was a movement that was going to grow People I took teachings along side all too quickly became teachers in their own right , without full training or sufficient time for any practitioner to realise the tenacity of the ego , therefore when the beginings of the split over Dorje Shugden occured the automatic responce was to defend and attack , I canot help but feel that much of this situation has been un whittingly fueld by the practitioners them selves , even still I canot for one moment immagine that this is what Geshe Kelsang would have intended , but that is no excuse , if one puts one self forward as a teacher one must have better knowledge of the human condition and how the practitioner in his ignorance will respond .
    allthough gave up any association with the NKT very early on in this dispute , it has saddened me greatly to see so many practitioners going in to the NKT in good faith with the intention to help the suffering of mankind , instead a great deal more suffering has been caused .
    I feel desperatly sad for all those who have been hurt or who have become dissilusioned with Buddhism as a result of this unfortunate deception , …I think the lesson for us all is that we need to be humble even in our aspirations and to fully understand the responcibility to others of our every action .

    I live in hope that the NKT bubble will burst and that practitioners will be able to look at this sorry situation objectively .
    thankyou for your post ,

    every blessing to you for your future practice .

  4. Finally people are understanding that Kelsang Gyatso is a completely bogus teacher.

    • lobsang tsultrim says:

      I am no way connected to NKT or geshe kelsang. I am Tibetan Buddhist monk( geshe) of Gaden. I read some of geshe kelsang books such as Ocean of nector, Joyful path and Guide to kechara land. Those books are very much concordant with Tsogkhapa’s teaching and authentic.

      • Thank you for your comment. Where in Joyful Path can you find the clear and precise descriptions of the qualifications a proper student of the Mahayana must have (intelligence, non-partisan, dilligent)? And where there is any commentary by Je Tsongkhapa about Vajrayogini?* Between Joyful Path and Lam Rim Chen Mo, there are quite distinct differences (including how Tsongkhapa approaches topics);** and since there is no commentary by Je Tsongkhapa on Vajrayogini, a conclusion “Those books are very much concordant with Tsogkhapa’s teaching and authentic.” don’t make much sense to me. With respect to Ocean Of Nectar, John Powers found it highly sectarian (the works of Tsongkhapa are not sectarian):

        * As far as I know, there is not only no commentary by Je Tsongkhapa about Vajrayogini practice – which was included in Gelug school only later (see list of lineage lamas) – but there is also not even the slightest prove of the 19th Century claim that Je Tsongkhapa’s secret practice was Vajrayogini. I guess this claim is just propaganda from those who wanted to stress the importance of Vajrayogini practice and had a strong liking for it.

        ** Kelsang Gyatso’s Joyful Path is rather similar to Pabongkha Rinpoche’s “Liberation in the Palms of your Hands” – or this oral tradition of Lamrim based on Pabongkha Rinpoche.

        • * As far as I know, most Gelugpas accept Vajrayogini as part of their lineage. Certainly Lama Yeshe & Zopa mention it as a secret practice of Tsongkhapa and I believe so does the Dalai Lama (but maybe I am mistaken, it is a vague memory of something I read)? Gyatso claiming that it was a secret practice of Tsongkhapa, while not historically provable, is not at odds with the lineage.

          John Powers did not say the book is sectarian at all, but even if he did, so what? His editorial review states that the editors of the book rely on faith rather than wisdom, as their preface denotes. This is a silly comment as countless Buddhist texts begin with thanks to the author. He then says, ‘in spite of limitations, it does provide a wealth of information regarding the Gelugpa interpretation of Chandrakirti and Nagarjuna.’

          • Maik, of course Vajrayogini practice became a part of the Gelug lineage but only long after Je Tsongkhapa. This is not only a matter of fact but can be easily found out by checking the lineage gurus of the Gelug version of the Vajrayogini Sadhana.

            I guess it was Pabongkha Rinpoche who spread this idea that Vajrayogini was a secret practice of Je Tsongkhapa – or one of those few Gelug masters who included the tantra into the Gelug school before Pabongkha Rinpoche. Such claims must be seen in context (as the claim that Shugden is enlightened or a manifestation of Manjushri). Most often there is an agenda of a lama behind it.

            To get certainty a historian with knowledge of Tibetan language should check when this claim first appeared and under which circumstances. However – important to note and revealing enough – nobody of those who claimed Vajrayogini was a secret practice of Tsongkhapa has ever shown any prove via scriptural citation or logic or historical record. This is very much at odds with Je Tsongkhapa’s own approach who always based his claims on scriptural sources (Sutras and Tantras or the commentary works of widely acknowledged Indian Panditas such as Nagarjuna, Shantideva, Aryadeva etc) and logic. (see for instance his Lam Rim Chen Mo). That’s why I called it below a 19th century claim. I am convinced that it is of recent origin and I’ve never came across any evidence using scriptural sources, logic or historical records for this claim.

            That Lama Zopa Rinpoche or Lama Yeshe or Geshe Ngawang Dargey (see his brief commentary on Vajrayogini) repeat this claim doesn’t make it more valid. The claim that it was a secret practice of Tsongkhapa can be investigated by checking texts and history. Any claim is easily made but to refute or to put it into context is always more work. Tibetans have a strong tendency to establish claims of long tulku lineages that go back to students of the Buddha. I regard this all mainly as propaganda for the sake of power (or the students wanted just to have the greatest of the greatest lama with the longest of the longest tulku lineage to satisfy their own ego): the longer your lineage, the longer your name, the higher you are, the more attention, money and support Tibetans will give to you and the more special you feel to follow such a lama.

            With respect to Powers, he calls the commentary by KG on page 3 a “sectarian and uncritical work”.

      • Indiawalla says:

        Unusual for Tibetan geshe to read in English ocean of nectar when they can read original works in tibetan. Why were u attracted to read KG’s work in english if you’ve no interest in nkt?
        Do you have own centre in West

  5. Pagpa, if you have information to correct the above account of KG’s life, please provide it. Otherwise to use fire and brimstone to instill fear in people who are trying to access information about his past is not “defending” your guru, it makes it seem like there is something to hide. Carol says in the above account she welcomes corrections with evidence. Provide some, if you have it, rather than using the guilt thing (I have lots of Irish Catholics on one side of my family so I recognize that game from a mile away).

  6. I also want to comment a little bit on KG’s “kindness”. I don’t really get how his students measure that, certainly not in terms of the amount of time he took with them, surely? It seems to me it is only in the early days, when KG was not head honcho and so obliged to teach to earn his keep, that students had regular teachings from him and access to interviews. As soon as he had the power to choose how to spent his time, he was teaching only for a couple of days maybe 3 times a year (many ex-NKT accounts I have read confirm this).
    Compare this to most lamas, geshes and khenpos teaching at dharma centres in other organizations, Where I work the Geshes have a minimum of 9 full teaching days every month, not including interviews and rituals trainings with the students.
    You might argue that is not relevant as NKT is too large for that to be practical. But certainly HH Dalai Lama, HH Karmapa, HH Sakya Trizin, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other similar figures have large numbers of students and other responsibilities?
    The Dalai Lama travels around the world giving hundreds of hours of teaching a year, and he is 79! Lama Zopa continues to teach, even courses several weeks in length, after having a stroke! That is kindness, that is generosity, that is helping students.
    Why has KG taught so little over the years? Why do NKT people choose a teacher whose teachings they have such limited access to? I honestly am trying to understand and don’t get it.

    • jigmeyeshe says:

      This is a short summary of what Kelsang Gyatso taught:

      TAUGHT IN TIBETAN 1977- 1987 Translated by Tenzin P. Phunrabpa, edited and published by British students.

      Short Lamrim, much shorter than Pabonkgha’s. From Yeshe Tsondru – says an NKT leaflet or using Easy Path 1st Panchen Lama.
      Shantideva, Bodhisattvacharyavatara
      Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara
      Heart Sutra,
      8 verses of Mind training (Langri Tangpa),
      7 points (Chekhawa)
      Lama Chopa explanation (Guru Yoga)
      Instructions on how to practice Vajrayogini
      Vajrayana Mahamudra – Six Yogas of Naropa

      Very few quotes from other teachers included in the books. By 1995 all the books only refer to his own books for reference.

      WROTE BOOKS FROM TEXTS: Read short extracts to students from these books. Full instructions not given – we were told to ‘read the books’ to understand.

      Commentary to a shortened Heruka Body Mandala (I have checked with two other versions)
      Uncommon Vajrayana Mahamudra
      All other books are shortened versions of the above.
      He states ‘receiving teachings’ on Lamrim and ‘instructions’ on Vajrayogini from his spiritual guide, Trijang Rinpoche. I can find no other reference except to the texts he took the information in the books from.

      (Work in progress – not definitive)

      • jigmeyeshe says:

        BOOKS FROM TEXTS: 1987-1995


        And, as I have added to the above article, we got teachings from western teachers. From 1992 onwards Kelsang Gyatso didn’t teach twice a week in Manjushri any more, which he appears to have done after his ‘retreat’ from 1987-1990 in which he was writing his really simplified meditation manuals and creating the NKT. The study programmes, including his NKT TTP, were started in 1992 (need to check the exact date but the teachings he gives on this are from that date) and then you have a self sustaining, self referential system set up. As long as you have new centres, you can expand the programmes, and if people are teaching ‘by rote’, then you just have to keep the teachers feeding in. There is no need for Kelsang Gyatso any more except for Shugden – Oh, I forgot to put him in the list!!! LOL

        1992 (Oh, again!!!) Shugden book published. He started teaching Shugden in private. Not until the 1990s was ‘Shugden’ made mainstream. The new Temple at Manjushri had Shugden integrated into the main shrine room. I don’t think anyone realised how significant this was. Can’t remember the date of the Temple construction.. late 1990s? The first one took a long time…

  7. Focus on your actions, not other people’s.

    • Why then do you focus on others’ actions?

      • LOL right on Tenzin. Pot calling the kettle black, perfect illustration of that phrase.
        And flying around the world to focus on another person’s actions. Spending thousands of benefactors money solely for the purpose of criticizing others.
        The lack of introspection and perspective is mind-boggling. All we are doing is posting on a blog, he’s following the DL around the world so he can blame and shout at him.

    • Phagpa: “Focus on your actions, not other people’s.”
      Ha Ha Ha Ha. That is so rich coming from you Phagpa. Even your ex-teacher, the fraudulent geshe, gyatso couldn’t do that. Sad bitter old man that he was.
      By the way phagpa, I knew you liked the internet but this isn’t the sort of website you usually frequent, is it?

      • dawn criddle says:

        honestly i think you aare all missing tge point here ,surely if one puts the instrution in to practice a nd gain results in lamrin as well as tantra,whats the problem all of the muck raking you are doing ,how can you call yourselves buddhists Dawn Criddlle

    • Stop the NKT ban on traditional dharmapalas.

      NKT = fake monks

  8. There is no picture of Trijang Rinpoche and Kelsang Gyatso together

    • But one with Zong Rinpoche:

      Not having a picture is no proof of anything …

      • Tenpel whose side are you on?

        • I try to be reasonable and balanced.

          • In fairness, the picture of Zong Rinpoche, Geshe Konchok and Gyatso was taken at Ulverston train station when Zong came to teach at the Manjushri Institute at Lama Yeshe’s invitation. Gyatso was also teaching there at Lama Yeshe’s invitation. It doesn’t really mean anything. Earlier I saw a photo of Zong Rinpoche with John Denver (who sang Country Roads, Leaving on a jet plane, etc.) Are we to infer Mr Denver was a learned geshe or a recognised tulku? A photo doesn’t mean any more than a lack of photo means.

  9. This comment was posted on DS-COM:

    October 29, 2014
    this is your problem,
    of course, HH Trijiang can read and wrote many volumes including his own autobiography, in which he said, “Tibetans should follow every words of HH Dalai lama” . Have you read read this part ? of course, not, your illiterate teachers, Kelsang Gyatso, Gangchen pa could not read and have never read Trijiang’s works. If you care so much about Trijiang, at least them his works. None of his works translated into western languages , his reincarnation are not studying, instead of studying at monastic universities, what is he doing? you guys are simply disgrace to Trijiang , whose works i high admired and regards.
    If you care about Trijiang rinpocher, go to study his work. your folklore teacher kelsang Gyasto is an illiterate man, he can not read properly Tibetan and let along write one correct sentence. I listened how he read in Tibetan and saw his hand writings. He is a simply illiterate man.

    What is interesting to see is indeed, that though the Shugden Supporter site is so busy and consumes so much money and effort, they and others (including the NKT) who claim to keep the heritage of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche didn’t translate the works of him – except a poor translation of his Shugden text “Music delightning …” So, how much devotion do they really have and how much they just want to rant against the Dalai Lama which was strongly discouraged by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche? No devotion to his texts, not heeding of his advice what type of guru devotion is this? If Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche is their root guru they are really his worst students ;-)

    If KG is an illiterate or not I don’t know. And I would not use this to denounce someone, though it is interesting to be praised to be a scholar and to be an illiterate at the same time. He was able to read from his books when he gave teachings, so he can read.

    • Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche in “Music delighting an Ocean of protectors”:

      As stated above, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and Omniscient Panchen Rinpoche were like Lords of the Teachings. In actuality they are, respectively, Arya Avalokiteswara and Buddha Amitabha emanating in the human form of special holy beings.

      Those who claim to hold his lineage (NKT’s WSS website) write

      Wars and Murders ordered by the Fifth Dalai Lama

      The institution of the Dalai Lama as we currently know it – mixing Dharma with politics as a method of government – begins with the Dalai Lama popularly known as the ‘Great Fifth’. With the Fifth Dalai Lama’s sovereignty encompassing all spiritual and temporal authority he became not only an autocrat, but also supreme master over life and death for the masses of ordinary Tibetans. An examination of some of the Fifth Dalai Lama’s own statements indicates just how far he was willing to go to eliminate those who opposed him

      Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche in “Music delighting an Ocean of protectors”:

      But some who are narrow minded, not understanding this point, consider this Dharmapala to be like an ordinary worldly being and, with supposed faith in the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, disparage him; or else they indeed admire this great Dharmapala but criticize the Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama. Using either one as a reason not to admire the other and speaking badly about either in any way is the conduct of an ordinary being who, under the influence of attachment and hatred, just tries to help friends and hurt enemies; it obscures the increase of these great holy Aryas’ deeds and creates the karmic cause to experience unbearable suffering in the future. Why is this true? Because it is utterly impossible that such great beings, who are special emanations of Arya Avalokiteswara and Buddha Amitabha, could lack the power to overcome the harmful force of any sort of magical spell, harmful demon, or spirit. This is because they are both powerful Lords who have overcome external and internal maras without exception.

      And what do those who claim to represent his pure lineage, the NKT’S ISC state among others?

      Dalai Lama – The Worst Dictator in this Modern Day

      Through this information we are telling the Dalai Lama to stop lying, stop harming millions of people, stop abusing basic human rights, and stop religious discrimination.

      For his own selfish political gain the Dalai Lama has falsely banned the worship of the enlightened deity called Dorje Shugden … While the Dalai Lama enjoys a luxurious life for himself, making huge amounts of money through using Buddha’s teachings, he causes millions of people to suffer by creating division between them and destroying their harmony and peaceful life. …

      The Dalai Lama is an ordained Buddhist monk. Buddha said that ordained people should never harm a single living being or cause anyone suffering, but the Dalai Lama has harmed and is continuing to harm millions of innocent people by causing them completely unnecessary suffering, fear and danger. He is acting in direct contradiction to Buddha’s teachings and is publicly showing great disrespect to Buddha and Buddhism. In one month alone, February 2008, he expelled 900 innocent Shugden monks from the Tibetan community. All of these monks were very poor, and they lost everything, including care and support for their daily lives received from their relatives, friends and community. They had no idea where they should go or who would support and help them, finding themselves refugees for a second time. …

      Not only are these mainly untruths or spin of the facts it is totally contrary to what their root guru’s root guru said. So what lineage do they hold? And how much devotion does this demonstrate? No devotion, no heeding of advice, actual they humiliate their own lineage guru who would be embarrassed to read those things …

    • jigmeyeshe says:

      In Mussoorie, Kelsang Gyatso…

      ‘would do pujas but they would be specific to issues that may have arisen during certain divinations. He did not do the divinations for us but he did the pujas that were required to clear up issues that came up in the “Mo” divinitions. As for his character, they regarded him as a good monk and they did refer to him as Geshela although he was not a Geshe at the time, this was probably as a sign of respect for his academic prowess, he knew his “Pecha” well (a good scholar) it means.’

      Those of you who know Tibetan culture, what does ‘knowing your pecha well’ mean? From other sources, Kelsang Gyatso was skilled at doing pujas for healing. Now, does knowing the pujas make you a ‘good scholar’? People are generally kind, but in reality, what might these statements mean?

      • It simply means he knows his books. That does not mean he has eclectic or broad knowledge of other lineages in the way His Holiness the Dalai Lama does. My friends knew him in Mussoorie, they thought he was alright in those days, but were surprised how he turned out after going abroad.

        • Yes, that is what it means. Pecha is the Tibetan word for religious text. If someone knows their Pecha it means they know their books. Like if I say a priest “knows his Catechism”.

          • jigmeyeshe says:

            Can this apply to either pujas/rituals or to scholarly study as in a monastery with debates and examinations? Or to both?

            • Would be more about “knowing their way around the books”, than about rituals. However, being good in Pecha does not necessarily mean you are a scholar (kaypa/mkhas pa). Usually, a true scholar can debate, compose texts and lead disciples. It is not a term thrown around lightly in the quite competitive Gelug scholastic establishment.

              Those skilled in rituals would be praised in a different way. Actually, lama teachings the entire path, as Sutra “virtuous friend” and tantric “guru” needs to possess the qualities of pecha scholarship as well as being most expert in the mandala rituals and so forth.

    • jigmeyeshe says:

      The Tibetan edition of the ‘Oral Tradition of Mahamudra’ is full of mistakes. Who really wrote it? I am told it was quite common for monks not to write properly in Tibetan at that time. But Kelsang Gyatso was 20 years old when he left Tibet – supposedly – because we don’t even know how he left and who with. Someone said he left with Trijang Rinpoche – and his autobiography will be published in English soon – that will be interesting. We may have the situation that Geshe Lhundup Sopa praises Kelsang Gyatso in his but Trijang Rinpoche leaves him out? We’ll soon see.

  10. ralph castro says:

    I have seen Kelsang Gyatso talk more than once. Here is what I belive

    He is very kind and sincere and humble, but also exteremely conservative
    even though he is conservative, he is exteremely open with complicated and secret matters in his talks and writings and does not hold back for those that are paying attention. Unfortunatly a lot of people are not paying attention. It does have the feel of a mass movement.

    The organization is cutlish from a social point of view which sucks. A lot of the members don’t know much about Buddhism or tantra, but many are sincere and trying. The members that are their for the wrong reasons are many, but Gyatso has built a huge world wide network of centers and programs for people to understand very complicated topics very quickly and in english.

    His books are emphasized because they are english commentaries on root texts, and are intended to cover all stages of the path, which I belive they do in the lineage of Je Tsongkhapa.

    The sadhana texts are very good, all written materials reference the history and lineage of the written texts. The whole feel of the organization is very different from what you will find at more “traditional” centers its true. I don’t know what it is like to live as a kadampa preist, monk or nun

    As far as the Tsongkhapa lineage whether Kadampa or Gelugpa it is a very intellectual tradition, and the intellectual materials of the books are both simply explained but cutting to the right focus, the more complicated books are razor sharp. I don’t know what the more advanced students do about getting copies of original texts, etc. I don’t know what the future of this lineage will be. I met some real whackjobs in the NKT, with zealoutous minds, and other people with an almost wiccan goddess circle like smugness to them. A lot of fools, but it was a large event. There were many sincere people also. Geshe Kelsangs books are pretty amazing in my opinion, and I do belive he studied his ass off for his Geshe title. The amount of writing he has produced is intense. The NKT practices focus on the good parts of universal compassion and world peace and kindness.

    If anyone is abusing people or anything shady in the higher ranks, that really sucks and is disappointing. My impression of Geshe Kelsang is he is a pretty powerful Lama.

    • dharmaanarchist says:

      Erm, if a buddhist teacher is “extremely conservative” he will defintiely not invent his own “monastic” ordination.

  11. Kelsang Gyaltso is not Geshe And not good teacher

  12. Lobsang Says: “Kelsang Gyaltso is not Geshe And not good teacher”

    Well, thanks for that…wonderful and erudite statement! Now I understand the whole things so clearly!!!

    • See Kelsang Gyatso’s own statement:
      Also the book here contains good material to the Geshe title claim:

      With respect to the claim of he is not a good teacher. I agree, since he does not live what he preaches, e.g. dependent arising, non-hate etc. instead he finds faults only in others (others are always the cause of problems and “guilty” as he phrases it himself) while he or NKT have never made any fault but are “innocent”. Ha ha ha ;-)

    • It’s remarkably ironic that a person seems to be criticising a point made by a Tibetan because of their poor English in defence of a Tibetan who has lived in England and been surrounded by English speaking people for almost 40 years but whose spoken English is still so bad his NKT cult video producers still put English subtitles on them.
      Of course, Kelsang is not a geshe and his claim to being a geshe is a lie.

  13. John Folawn says:

    At the 2007 Summer Festival, Geshe-la said that collective karma is responsible for natural disasters, including violent storms. He said only a Buddha could understand collective karma. Then, the sunny summer sky darkened, the wind began to howl, and the rain was as heavy as I’ve experienced. Thousands were witnesses. He kept teaching as though nothing was going on, but what was going on was exactly what he was teaching. Most of us were very concerned about safety. When the teaching ended and we left the temple, there were several inches of water on the ground. If you are a scientific materialist, it was a coincidence. I’m not. Geshe-la created the storm to prove the point. It was not the first nor the last time he has done such things for me. He’s the real deal.

    • If you hold a Mahayana view, then its not what ‘things he has done for you’, its what is beneficial for suffering sentient beings. Generally the Drukpa Kagyu are most noted for weather control. The late Sai Baba made watches appear and milk come forth from a vessel…so what?
      I could use a new watch, though.

      • John Folawn says:

        Yes, it’s a learning process. I’m learning and am not quite at your level. Some people like me need stuff like that storm to consider it’s not just science. So have some patience and maybe we will both get what we really want. You want a watch and I want no more storms.

        • Things like this are interesting, John, but they could have various causes. We could dismiss the storm as a meteorological coincidence or could see something ‘other worldly’ going on, but should we automatically assume kelsang has some realisation and started the storm himself? Weather controlling siddhis are definitely at the more mundane end of the spectrum and are not proof of realisation in themselves.
          It is possible that kelsang predicted the storm, maybe even at just a subconscious level, like when we think about someone then they phone us.
          Alternatively, there is a strong school of thought that thinks kelsang worships and is very close to a powerful worldly spirit. Making a big storm is pretty standard for worldly spirits. I myself have had a little experience in this area when I was once putting the remainder offerings out under a long hedge opposite my house, suddenly out of nowhere a very strong gust of wind blew along the long hedge, making it ripple violently as it approached. I took that to signify the arrival of those outside the mandala coming to accept the offering. These kinds of things aren’t that rare and shouldn’t be taken as evidence of a teacher’s realisation.
          Overall, I’d say it’s best to discern a teacher’s realisation from his compassion. Is he open, approachable, warm and kind? Have you had close positive personal encounters with kelsang where he treats you as an individual and gives you his time and attention and talks to you as if he really knows who you are? If so, great.
          Kelsang may be able to have some control over the elements in a limited way, but he has shown at least twice that he is unaware or unconcerned that his closest students and ‘heart sons’ are sexually abusing their students. Surely this lack of awareness undermines any proof of realisation a bit of wind and rain may offer?

    • I am not a scientific materialist, I am a Buddhist And I consider the occurrence mere coincidence.
      Attempting to establish a natural event as being a result of the super powers of ones superhuman guru smacks of the feeble minded blind faith of the gullible- a blind faith that has become increasingly common among NKT followers whose understanding of guru devotion is based on a wild distortion of the genuine teaching.The guru is a once ordinary human being who has since accomplished extraordinary insights He is not a wizard whose magical powers are to be worshipped or used to justify the suspension of judgement and engage in blind obeisance
      Even if it were his actions that caused the rain, so what? This ability is considered a minor siddhi-in Tibet every village had its rainmaker. As my own guru said to me when I marvelled at his ability to control the weather when requested to do so, “anybody can make rain”
      control of the weather is a simple process. One can prevent rain with prayers to Haysgriva. the Sherpa people prevent unwanted rainstorms by burning dog excrement ( the smell offends the local Lha) Does this make them enlightened beings?
      Don’t believe the hype

      • John Folawn says:

        I live in a secular world driven by $. Apparently, you don’t. A storm in the context of teaching collective karma may be what I and others needed at the time. Had you been there you would have laughed. I rejoice in your higher realizations. And we put dog poop in plastic bags we don’t burn it.

        Blind faith: nope. I challenge everything. The storm was just one thing, and there were more, as I said. The point I was trying to make was that a teacher can do something like a storm and other more subtle things to encourage the student to let go of the secular and go inside. You can criticize him or others, but if the end result is to connect to your Buddha nature, well good for the teacher.

        • Thank you
          Just a word of warning- don’t talk about Buddha nature in the NKT; its at best provisional, at worst heretical. Pabongka would have you run out of town. Your repeated exhibiting unwillingness to open your mind to the possibility that you may have been conned tells me you remain immature in the Dharma.Therefore it is only right you acknowledge my superiority. You are right. I have found the true dharma. You are in a cult. I hope that one day you can stand on your own two feet and recognise your Buddha nature and stop the dualistic fantasy of the great guru in the sky v the puny, unworthy sentient being

    • At the 2007 Summer Festival, Geshe-la said that collective karma is responsible for natural disasters, including violent storms.

      Then why is he so in-consequent and partial in his teachings? Shouldn’t he teach too: “that collective karma is responsible for the Shugden issue?” And if he is so fearless with respect to a storm, why does he fear to be killed? I mean this man is very good in telling stories and insinuating he had supernatural power and you seem to buy those stories and skilful manipulations.

      To give you two examples: 1) He told he visits every NKT centre twice a day. Our NKT RT and we believed it. Funnily Geshe la didn’t get what happened in our centre though he claimed to visit it (via supernatural powers) 2x a day. He even claimed that this NKT RT had betrayed him. How could this happen? As a regular visitor of the centre he should have known what’s going on but he didn’t. Another case, 2), he claimed that Tibetan lamas praised his students for their high realisations, ‘so many students so high realisations, so rare to find it.’ etc. But WHO are these students with “high realisations”? We thought it must be his heart sons, Elliott or Wass, but both proved to have not even the “realisation” to keep their monastic vows.

      Geshe la is a great story teller and grand manipulateur par excellence. Using indirect speech or hints he induces in others awe about his supposed good qualities; and it feels good to believe in those stories. Ok, you can continue to believe in stories and manipulations. I don’t buy it any more.

    • jigmeyeshe says:

      Perhaps you should have taken note of the ‘storm’ of collective bad karma brewing over the NKT world at that point. The protests against the Dalai Lama were a ‘storm’ created to upset others. It would have been more ‘incredible’ in the rainy Lake District of England to have ‘magicked’ two weeks of glorious sunshine so that his students were not rain soaked and cold in the camping areas and in the darker parts of Manjushri. But then, Shugden is all about ‘storms’, isn’t he?

  14. A number of dolgyal people do not put much stock in scientific reason or what we might call our conventional spatio-temporal reality. So when (and I quote) “Gangchen Rinpoche urinated on a spot upon this land and within a few days, from that very source, spring water arose” This is due to what: your invisible god or Gangchen’s own golden blessing?
    Similarly, ISC/ NKT executive Len Foley sells deer antler capsules and desiccated deer placenta online as miraculous health aids while is colleagues preach against vaccination, a proven benefit to public health.
    But most prolific in the magical thinking department has to be Tsem– who has many stories of the gyalpo demon helping marriages, ensuring success in business, surviving car crashes and saving people on their deathbed. It seems more likely one will be a beneficiary of Tsem’s magical feats if you are an executive in petroleum extraction or rubber export industry but not always, so long as you donate as much money and time as you can to Kechara House. You can read these fabulous ‘testimonials’ on the cult website and for those who don’t read very well some miracle tales have been published as comics.
    This lack of faith in rational thinking apparently does not preclude the dolgyal cultists from utilizing the web, twitter, Facebook and so on to spread misinformation and sell ‘dharma’ trinkets online, nor indeed from using airplanes extensively and unnecessarily –a significant cause of climate change, by the way.

  15. As someone who was an avid nkt member and is now in the confusing position of having no access to any sangha except zen practitioners and also being at odds with the hostile reception of the nkt by other traditions this whole conversation is a very low energy ugly debate that is going nowhere. I feel as though most contributions to this thread are obvious examples of attachment and hate and self-grasping and the cause for bad karma. The whole situation is for a lack of better words “fucked up” and any energy put into it including my own 2 cents here is at best a waste of time.

    • Hi Stephen, thank you for your comment. Hostility doesn’t lead us in any positive direction. I think its important to discuss these issues without hostility or anger and based on understanding.

      What would be your suggestions how to deal with the whole and how other Buddhists should relate to the whole issue?

    • Right on, brother!

      Who cares about all this drama anyway? The fact that we’re all inevitably going to die and there is no escape from the ceaseless cycle of birth and death not exciting enough for everybody?

      • URR? Future generations? Its called being a Mahayanist. P reserving the dharma for future generations is the greatest gift we can give those who follow.On the other hand, on a personal LEVEL though, youre right. All this fussing and fighting is a heap of BS

      • No escape? Ceaseless cycle of birth and death? I almost missed those two totally non Buddhist ideas
        Clearly there is an escape (3rd noble truth) and there is and to the cycle (nirvana)
        Thought I’d better point that out.

  16. Nancy Fleming says:

    I have had the complete opposite experience, through Geshla’s teachings being so accessible and so comprehensive I have had 12 years of joy, peace and life transforming blessings. And if your experience was so bad then why not just move on, as a true Buddhist would?

    • jigmeyeshe says:

      And abandon ‘all sentient beings’? That’s the public the NKT want to reach. And a certain percentage will be completely deceived by the NKT not being what it says it is. It’s anti Dalai Lama stance isn’t written on the tin; the behaviour of its senior teachers concerning the protests has been disgusting in many cases – harassing the Dalai Lama in the street, using defamatory and nasty memes online. And that goes without the utter exploitation of ‘Tibetan Buddhist ordination robes’ to get new followers without those who wear the robes following the ethics they represent. I applaud you for having enjoyed some good experiences of the Dharma but do not applaud you for lacking a realistic appraisal for the people who ‘transmit’ Kelsang Gyatsos’ books to you. Best.

    • Ignorance is bliss. Remember the frog in the well who, like yourself, needed to get out more.
      Just because you are happy with your experience, this doesnt negate the many who have suffered or the immense evil and hatred the nkt have instigated in the name of truth.”I just cant believe it about that nice Mr Hitler; he is so kind to his dog. The holocaust is surely a myth”

  17. Al Gallupe says:

    So much judgement. Is this what Buddha taught? To cast aside as only secondary the teachings of great compassion for all beings and the wisdom of emptiness so we can engage in parsing every comment and action to find fault in others. Is it any wonder that religion has gained such a reputation as a platform for conflict?

    In my humble practice I try to focus without distraction on the things that matter – the liberation from suffering of all living beings. I have been studying through NKT for about 6 years and count every blessing I have received as nothing short of wondrous. Thank you Geshe-la and all the wonderful teachers and practicioners you have inspired and blessed are all those whose every word is positive and beneficial.

    • You criticise judging others but you judge others yourself – as negative. At the same time you judge your own humble practice and Geshe Kelsang as positive.

      So your reasoning targets yourself “Is this what Buddha taught? To cast aside as only secondary the teachings of great compassion for all beings and the wisdom of emptiness so we can engage in parsing every comment and action to find fault in others.”

    • joanneclark7 says:

      Al, here’s a quote from your Geshe-la about the Dalai Lama (made almost 10 years ago, shortly after the first round of protests):

      “It looks as if [the Dalai Lama] humiliates the Gelugpas, as if he destroys the dharma of the Gelugpas. It’s not only about Dorje Shugden. If Dorje Shugden is bad, then all those Gelugpa lamas who engaged in the practice of Dorje Shugden are impure. Then, without doubt the Gelugpa dharma is impure. He publicly destroys the Gelugpa dharma, so how can he say he is a Gelugpa lama?”

      I don’t think you can get more critical than that– than telling a Dharma teacher he is destroying the very precious Dharma he works tirelessly to uphold. I myself believe it’s important to question and even doubt with right motivation– but I try to stay clear of maligning others and making such destructive, extreme statements as that made by Kelsang Gyatso.

      I think your point is important, but you want to be careful of any fundamentalist idea of your own perfection. We all have to look into ourselves and stay true to our practice, I agree with you there. But we can’t be blind either. We can’t ignore harm and so we need to speak out sometimes. Definitely, some go too far on both sides of this trouble. In the end, it’s between us and ourselves, resolved on each solitary cushion and in the sincerity of our hearts.

      • Thank you Joanne.

        What Geshe la says here is also totally illogical.
        He assumes that a lineage lama can’t make a fault or can’t have erred. However, Buddhist history has shown the opposite; it has shown that lamas erred and made faults. It were later lamas who corrected earlier lamas and sometimes the own student corrected their own teacher(s). Also Tsongkhapa disagreed with his Madhyamika teacher, Ven. Rendawa, on different points – e.g. if the Kalachakra Tantra is authentic or if Rendawa’s understanding of Madhyamika is correct. Rendawa was of the opinion that the Kalachakra Tantra is not authentic and Tsongkhapa was of the opinion it is. Now imagine the students of Ven. Rendawa had established a line of bizarre reasoning as Kelsang Gytaso did it here, it follows: “It looks as if [Je Tsongkhapa] humiliates his own teacher Rendawa and the Sakya school, as if he destroys the dharma of the Sakyas. It’s not only about the Kalachankra Tantra and Madhyamika. If Rendawa erred, and was not able to discriminate a genuine tantra from a fake tantra, then all those Sakyas who refused to accept the Kalachakra tantra as being authentic or who hold a different Madhyamiaka view than Tsongkhapa are impure. Then, without doubt the Sakya dharma is impure. The Sakya monk, Je Tsongkhapa, therefore publicly destroys the Sakya dharma, so how can he say he is a Sakya lama?”

        It is really sad and shameful to see how ill-educated Western disciples of Kelsang Gyatso accept his illogical arguments without questioning it or without seeing its absurdity. Kelsang Gyatso would not win any debate with such arguments. Such arguments have NOTHING to do with Tsongkhapa’s rich tradition of good reasoning …

        BTW, is the quote from the Tricycle interview?

        • joanneclark7 says:

          Yes, Tenpel, the quote is from the Tricycle interview (1996 or 1997 I believe). And I might add that you will not find a single quote from the Dalai Lama in which he criticizes Kelsang Gyatso. On the other hand, this allegation made on the newkadampatruth website appears to simply be another blatant lie:

          “In 1997, the Dalai Lama himself, in a book published in the French language, openly called Geshe Kelsang a cult leader and improbably accused him of thirsting for power. From La Force du Bouddhisme by the Dalai Lama and Jean-Claude Carrière, pp 19-20:

          “Dalai Lama: …at the moment in England, a well-educated lama is behaving like a true cult leader.

          “Jean-Claude Carrière: A fundamentalist lama ?

          “DL : Whatever… he’s banned all my books, all contact with me, all images of the Dalai Lama. He accuses me of this and that. His faithful, a few thousand people, are only allowed to read his books, to display and venerate his photograph, and so on… But there you go, it’s only human. We are either all alike or all different. If our differences get the upper hand, then each individual can mark out their own territory of truth and cling to it with all their might.”

          When I consulted the English translation of this book, I found no statement from the Dalai Lama even remotely close to what is quoted here. Not only that, but the French version of this interview was published in 1994– not 1997 as claimed by the NKT! The English translation was copyrighted 1996. Why does this matter? Because nkttruth are telling a chronological story about the “Dalai Lama’s retribution” to the protest campaign of 1996. And because in 1994, the NKT and their attitudes towards the Dalai Lama are very unlikely to come up in any conversation. Once again, they get all mixed up in their efforts to malign the Dalai Lama.

          I can only conclude by quoting from Al Galuppe himself: “So much judgement. Is this what Buddha taught? To cast aside as only secondary the teachings of great compassion for all beings and the wisdom of emptiness so we can engage in parsing every comment and action to find fault in others. Is it any wonder that religion has gained such a reputation as a platform for conflict?”

  18. So, you are a Buddha? And what happend if no buddy see Shakyamuni as a Buddha? could Shakyamuni help the preople with direct teachings? So, the conviction that you are something is not enough for a Bodhisattva to help others. So, is not enough to be a Buddha for yourself, others have to perceive you as a Buddha in order to get your blessings, That is the real way to help others. Even If Dalai Lama was a fake Buddha, if you believe he is a buddha, you get the blessings for a Buddha.
    I hope i make my point clear.

    • I am not a Buddha, are you a Buddha?

      Buddha Shakyamuni was rather easily recognised for his realisations by most of the people of his time and there was no controversy regarding his attainments.

      The Buddha asked his disciples explicitly to check his behaviour of body, speech and mind.
      However, only those who had the clairvoyance to read other people’s mind (he had disciples who could do that) were also able to check his mental qualities by reading or seeing his mind. Those who could not do that he asked to check his verbal and physical behaviour carefully!

      Therefore, to see a Buddha as a Buddha is not a matter of a positive projection or blind belief or mere assumption or simple visualisation but a matter of

      a) did the person really attain the claimed qualities? and
      b) am I able by careful checking the qualities by checking the behaviour of that person’s body, speech and mind to detect these or not?

      The Buddha himself said about this careful checking (see Vimamsaka Sutta):

      Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was living at aVatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s Park. There he addressed the monks thus: “Monks!”—”Venerable sir!” they replied. The Blessed One said this:
      2. “Monks, a monk who is an inquirer, not knowing how to gauge another’s mind,11 should make an investigation of the Tathagata in order to find out whether or not he is perfectly enlightened.”
      3. “Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, have the Blessed One as their resort. It would be good if the Blessed One would explain the meaning of these words. Having heard it from him, the monks will remember it.”
      “Then listen, monks, and attend closely to what I shall say.”
      “Yes, venerable sir,” the monks replied. The Blessed One said this:
      4. “Monks, a monk who is an inquirer, not knowing how to gauge another’s mind, should investigate the Tathagata with respect to two kinds of states, states cognizable through the eye and through the ear thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathagata or not any defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’12 When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘No defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathagata.’
      5. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathagata or not any mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’13 When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘No mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathagata.’
      6. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathagata or not cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘Cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathagata.’
      7. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Has this venerable one attained this wholesome state over a long time or did he attain it recently?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘This venerable one has attained this wholesome state over a long time; he did not attain it only recently’
      8. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Has this venerable one acquired renown and attained fame, so that the dangers [connected with renown and fame] are found in him?’ For, monks, as long as a monk has not acquired renown and attained fame, the dangers [connected with renown and fame] are not found in him;
      Approaching the Dhamma 95
      but when he has acquired renown and attained fame, those dangers are found in him.14 When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘This venerable one has acquired renown and attained fame, but the dangers [connected with renown and fame] are not found in him.’
      9. “When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Is this venerable one restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and does he avoid indulging in sensual pleasures because he is without lust through the destruction of lust?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘This venerable one is restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and he avoids indulging in sensual pleasure because he is without lust through the destruction of lust.’
      10. “Now, monks, if others should ask that monk thus: ‘What are the venerable one’s reasons and what is his evidence whereby he says: “That venerable one is restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and he avoids indulging in sensual pleasures because he is without lust through the destruction of lust”?’—answering rightly, that monk would answer thus: ‘Whether that venerable one dwells in the Sahgha or alone, while some there are well behaved and some are ill behaved and some there teach a group, while some here are seen concerned about material things and some are unsullied by material things, still that venerable one does not despise anyone because of that.15 And I have heard and learned this from the Blessed One’s own lips: “I am restrained without fear, not restrained by fear, and I avoid indulging in sensual pleasures because I am without lust through the destruction of lust.'”
      11. “The Tathagata, monks, should be questioned further about that thus: ‘Are there found in the Tathagata or not any defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ The Tathagata would answer thus: ‘No defiled states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathagata.’
      12. “If asked, ‘Are there found in the Tathagata or not any mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ the Tathagata would answer thus: ‘No mixed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear are found in the Tathagata.’
      13. “If asked, ‘Are there found in the Tathagata or not cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through the ear?’ the Tathagata would answer thus: ‘Cleansed states cognizable through the eye or through
      he ear are found in the Tathagata. They are my pathway and my d°rnain, yet I do not identify with them.’
      14. “Monks, a disciple should approach the Teacher who speaks thus in order to hear the Dhamma. The Teacher teaches him the Dhamma with its successively higher levels, with its successively more sublime levels, with its dark and bright counterparts. As the Teacher teaches the Dhamma to a monk in this way, through direct knowledge of a certain teaching here in that Dhamma, the monk comes to a conclusion about the teachings.16 He places confidence in the Teacher thus: The Blessed One is perfectly enlightened, the Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, the Sahgha is practicing the good way.’
      15. “Now if others should ask that monk thus: ‘What are the venerable one’s reasons and what is his evidence whereby he says, “The Blessed One is perfectly enlightened, the Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, the Sahgha is practicing the good way”?’—answering rightly, that monk would answer thus: ‘Here, friends, I approached the Blessed One in order to hear the Dhamma. The Blessed One taught me the Dhamma with its successively higher levels, with its successively more sublime levels, with its dark and bright counterparts. As the Blessed One taught the Dhamma to me in this way, through direct knowledge of a certain teaching here in that Dhamma, I came to a conclusion about the teachings. I placed confidence in the Teacher thus: “The Blessed One is perfectly enlightened, the Dhamma is well proclaimed by the Blessed One, the Sahgha is practicing the good way.”‘
      16. “Monks, when anyone’s faith has been planted, rooted, and established in the Tathagata through these reasons, terms, and phrases, his faith is said to be supported by reasons, rooted in vision, firm; it is invincible by any ascetic or brahmin or deva or Mara or Brahma or by anyone in the world.17 That is how, monks, there is an investigation of the Tathagata in accordance with the Dhamma, and that is how the Tathagata is well investigated in accordance with the Dhamma.”
      That is what the Blessed One said. The monks were satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One’s words.
      (MN 47: Vimamsaka Sutta; 1317-20)

      For a perfect print out of this copy and paste see pages 93–96 of In the Buddha’s Words, An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali CanonEdited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

      Please don’t use sectarian arguments as Geshe Kelsang does “this is Hinayana”, sorry the Buddha is not Hinayana. The Kadampas take ALL teachings of Buddha as personal advice.

      Of course things get a bit more complicated in Vajrayana where one of the trainings for an ADAVANCED student who is well rooted in the Sutras is advised – AFTER CAREFUL checking of a teacher – to see him or her as a Buddha. But this should not be taken literally. For details see here:

      I hope this helps you a bit to get a more nuanced and dharmic view on this complex topic. Sadly, the NKT and Geshe Kelsang give a total simplified and misleading view on it.

    • The only things you have made clear are that you have not read the responses to your earlier posts and that you do not understand the teaching on dependent arising.
      First study with many teachers, then decide what’s right and wrong. You are clearly a beginner who has had the great misfortune of encountering one of the most notorious cults in western Buddhism at the first meeting. How sad that you do not have sufficient compassion towards yourself to recognize your mistake and move on. I pray for folk like you.

      • True. Dindalo it still in the mode of convincing others what he learned in NKT instead of thinking, checking and seeing for himself and to pick up arguments and to discuss with an open, inquiring mind.


  1. […] Our skills and abilities all come from the kindness of others; we had to be taught how to eat, how to walk, how to talk, and how to read and write. Even the language we speak is not our own invention but the product of many generations. Without it we could not communicate with others nor share their ideas. We could not read this book, learn Dharma, nor even think clearly. [Excerpt from: “Eight Steps to Happiness” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso] […]

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