You’re interested in going to a Buddhist center in your city for the first time. What advice can be given?

Lion’s Roar posted an entry I’m interested in going to a Buddhist center in my city for the first time. Any advice? On a rather quick reading I found it a bit incomplete recollecting my and others’ people experiences with cult-like groups such as the New Kadampa Tradition / Kadampa Buddhism. I wondered how that advice given by Lion’s Roar can prevent one from falling pray to cultish or questionable Buddhist groups? What do you think? I think its not a complete or a pretty save advice that Lion’s Roar offered.

That’s why I had the idea to ask YOU about what advice you have to offer to newly interested people who want to visit a Buddhist center in their city for the first time. Most of you have experiences of harm in cultish or damaging Buddhist groups. What would you advice to people interested to go to a Buddhist center in their city so that they might NOT end up in the pain and suffering as we had to experience it – or finally even abandoning the Buddhadharma altogether?

A person who relied on the Sangha of the Pagode Path Hue in Frankfurt – outwardly a young, dynamic Sangha – whose (former) abbot, Thich Thien Son (Mai Hue Giang Tran), has been alleged of multiple sexual abuse of his (male) students (including the abuse of young men who were already abused as children and whom he promised to heal from that abuse!) – wrote on my German blog this very sad message recently which I just approved:

Die Geschichte von TTS hat bei mir ziemlich viel zerstört. Von „Buddha Dharma Sangha“ ist nur noch Dharma geblieben. Den Buddhismus habe ich hinter mir gelassen.
„Sangha“??? um Gottes Willen – Die Sangha, die eine Stütze sein sollte, Reaktionen der Menschen in der Sangha, die Abhängigkeit von TTS hat mir gezeigt was Sanghas sind: Ein Haufen Blinder die nicht man zu sich selber ehrlich sind. Süchtig nach Macht, Anerkennung und Gier, hörig bis zum Anschlag. Oder einfach: Verlogen. Sangha ist definitiv kein „Juwel“. _()_

Translation: The story of TTS has destroyed a good deal to me. From “Buddha Dharma Sangha” has remained only Dharma. The Buddhism I have left behind me.
“Sangha” ??? For God’s sake – The Sangha, which should be a support, the reactions of people in the Sangha, the dependence on TTS showed me what Sanghas are: A pile of blind people who are not true to themselves. Addicted to power, recognition and greed, submissively dependent to the limit. Or simply: mendacious. Sangha is definitely not a “gem”. _ () _

It makes me so sad to read this.

And its even sadder that – as it appears to me – many gave up Buddhism altogether* after having made devastating experiences in unhealthy or abusive Buddhist groups. So my request, my call to you – the readers of this blog – is what advice would you give to newcomers to Buddhism to be able to avoid the negative and harmful experiences we had to make? How can new seekers of  Buddhism avoid to bump into a Buddhist centre which might be good in online and print marketing and self-presentation but harmful to its members or followers?

You could use the template by Lion’s Roar and offer your own advice in the comment section. Maybe we can help and protect some people?!

(I will add my thoughts later in a comment.)


* Luckily, Joram, who wrote the comment quoted above, seems still to have faith in the Dharma!

Esoteric Teaching of Wat Phra Dhammakāya by Mano Mettanando Laohavanich

Those interested to cultivate a deeper understanding of the Dhammakaya Movement, Wat Phra Dhammakaya (Thai: วัดพระธรรมกาย), can read the academic paper, “Esoteric Teaching of Wat Phra Dhammakāya” by Mano Mettanando Laohavanich published in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Volume 19, 2012. So far this blog had only one post regarding this movement, “Dhammakaya sect knows where Steve Jobs was reborn” (2012/09/16).

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Chedi of Wat Phra Dhammakaya at night

The abstract of the paper states:

Thailand’s controversial Wat Phra Dhammakāya has grown exponentially. In just three decades, it has come to have millions of followers in and outside of Thailand and over forty branches overseas. The esoteric teaching of meditation taught by the leaders of the community has inspired thousands of young men and women from various universities to sacrifice their lives to serve their Master, something that has never been seen before in Thailand or elsewhere in the Theravāda world. What is the nature of this esoteric teaching? Why is it so appealing to these young minds? These questions are discussed and analyzed by the author, who was one of Wat Phra Dhammakāya’s founding members.

Read the full paper: “Esoteric Teaching of Wat Phra Dhammakāya” by Mano Mettanando Laohavanich

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Update June 2016

Update August 2016

There is also an academic book Nirvana for Sale?: Buddhism, Wealth, and the Dhammakaya Temple in Contemporary Thailand by Rachelle M. Scott, published by State University of New York Press, 2009.

The synopsis reads:

Explores the relationship between material prosperity and spirituality in contemporary Thai Buddhism.

What is the proper relationship between religion and prosperity? Rachelle M. Scott looks at this issue in a Thai Buddhist context, asking when the relationship between Buddhist piety and wealth is viewed in favorable terms and when it is viewed in terms of conflict and tension. Scott focuses on the Dhammakaya Temple, an organization that has placed traditional Theravada practices, such as meditation and merit-making, within a modernist framework that encourages personal and social prosperity. The Temple’s construction of a massive religious monument in the late 1990s embodied this message, but also sparked criticism of the Temple’s wealth and fund-raising techniques and engendered debates over authentic Buddhism and religious authority. Scott situates this controversy within the context of postmodern Thailand and the Asian economic crisis when reevaluations of wealth, global capitalism, and “Asian values”occupied a preeminent place in Thai public discourse.

Human Rights Press Award for Reuters Investigates “The Long Arm of China” | Dalai Lama | Shugden

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The English Online Grand Prize of the The Human Rights Press Awards 2015 went to David Lague, Paul Mooney, Benjamin Kang Lim, Sui-Lee Wee and Stephanie Nebehay, a cohort of China experts working at Reuters.

Joyce Lau of The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong, writes:

In “The long arm of China”, they used multiple articles to draw a larger picture of how China engages with minorities and the outside world.

“This is very good, wide-ranging reporting,” said barrister Jacqueline Leong, who has been a HRPA judge since its first year in 1996. “The package as a whole drew together common threads between three different issues: the Dalai Lama, the UN Human Rights Committee, and the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in the nation’s far West.”

“These three are rarely put together,” added judge Armin Kalyanram, a former chairperson of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

HRPA-logo-230x350pxThe official website www.humanrightspressawards.org states about the award:

The Human Rights Press Awards recognize top rights-related reporting from around Asia and are organized by The Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong KongThe Hong Kong Journalists Association and Amnesty International Hong Kong. The goal of the Awards is to increase respect for people’s basic rights and to focus attention on threats to those freedoms.

Part four of Reuters investigates “The Long Arm of China” covered the Shugden controversy and the role China plays in it, “Special Report: China co-opts a Buddhist sect in global effort to smear Dalai Lama”. This investigative article was written by David Lague, Paul Mooney and Benjamin Kang Lim. They sought among others the expertise of Robert Barnett, Elliot Sperling and Thierry Dodin. Basing their article on Reuters’ investigation, China Digital Times (CDT) wrote a neat summary and linked to different background sources: “China Backs Sect in Global Effort to Smear Dalai Lama”.

Updates

On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, the US government Congressional-Executive Commission on China, co-chaired by former presidential candidate Marco Rubio, held a hearing to “examine the Chinese government’s reach beyond its borders to stifle critical discussion of its human rights record and repressive policies …. These efforts include … clandestine efforts to discredit the Dalai Lama through a Communist Party-supported rival Buddhist sect …”. The hearing was held to formulate recommendations for Congressional and Administration action to combat such activities.

According to Phayul and Tibet.net, an American District court penalized a Tibetan Shugden follower, Mr. Lobsang Gyaltsen aka Dowa Gyakpa, yesterday (May 23) for assaulting a senior citizen during a mass protest rally two years ago during His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
There is an English interview portion with the lawyer who represented Mr Ngawang Norbu Sherpa, the victim. What becomes clear – at minute 19:46 – is that the shugden protestor, Lobsang Gyaltsen, was the first to launch a legal complaint, against Mr. Sherpa for defending himself. Because Mr. Sherpa put his arm out when Lobsang Gyaltsen, the Shugden supporter, kicked him. Then, after he was cleared with evidence, Mr. Sherpa made the counter claim, which resulted in 1 year of probation for the defendant and month fines. The Shugden defendant, Mr. Lobsang Gyaltsen, admitted his wrongdoing and if he violates his probation faces two years in jail.

Kadampa Ordination – A Misguided Approach

Shugden won’t protect NKT monastics, NKT monastics have to study, observe and protect their vows themselves.

You can find below the content of The New Ordination Handbook of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).

My claim is: With the information provided in The New Ordination Handbook the NKT and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso misguide and misinform their faithful students and those who want to become Buddhist monks and nuns within the NKT. Based on this misguidance NKT monks and nuns risk to break and to loose their vows being thereby spiritually harmed in grave ways. In my opinion, this new superficial, whitewashed, ambiguous version of monastic ordination also damages the transmission and understanding of Buddha’s teachings and the Vinaya in the west.

There is an Ordination Handbook from 1999 by Kelsang Gyatso which is different to the new one. It is also more complex in its distortions and inventions. In the Ordination Handbook from 1999 Kelsang Gyatso claims among others that the NKT ordination stems from the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras or that “If we can maintain the determination to keep our vows through the death process and into our next rebirth, we will still be ordained in our next life.” Both claims are not tenable if investigated properly using authentic Buddhist scriptures, existent commentaries, and reasoning.

Other forms of errors reagrding the 1999 Ordination Handbook and the so called “Kadampa Ordination” were discussed already in other posts here on the blog and recently also by Geshe Tashi Tsering on YouTube (see the Further Readings section at the end of this post). For a brief overview about the NKT ordination see here.

The very key problem with The New Ordination Handbook comes right at the beginning under the heading “What is the Ordination Vow”. It reads:

When we took our ordination in front of our Preceptor and the Assembly of Sangha we made the promise to practice the commitments of ordination. This promise is our ordination vow. For as long as we maintain this promise we are practising the ordination vow. If we give up this promise we break our ordination vow.

I regard this passage and The New Ordination Handbook as being highly problematic because in essence the explanations given here are 1) unclear, 2) not precise and 3) they include a fundamental twist that is not concordant with the Vinaya as laid down by the Buddha and as stressed by Je Tsongkhapa — whose “pure” heirs the NKT so diligently claims to be.

In the context of this New Ordination Handbook and the teachings given in general on ordination within the NKT it becomes clear to an investigative mind that Kelsang Gyatso has never taught properly at which point a vow is really broken — though the Vinaya and its commentaries are explicit about this. Instead of really helping NKT monks and nuns to understand the boundaries of their vows and how to maintain them, this New Ordination Handbook adds more clouds to the already existing confusion by claiming wrongly, that the ordination vow is a “promise to practice the commitments of ordination” and that this promise is kept “for as long as we maintain this promise”. According to Kelsang Gyatso, the ordination vow is broken only when “we give up this promise”.

The 10 vows of NKT ordination are explained in the following way:

There are ten commitments of ordination that we promised to practice. These are to abandon killing, stealing, lying, or cheating, sexual activity, taking intoxicants, and engaging in meaningless activities, and to practice contentment, to reduce our desire for worldly pleasures, to maintain the commitments of refuge and to practice the three higher trainings — training in higher moral discipline, concentration and wisdom. The tenth commitment, to practice the three higher trainings, is the actual method to attain permanent liberation from all suffering, which is our deepest wish and the real meaning of human life.

Now, for a monk or nun in the NKT, because of not setting the boundaries for breaking the vows clearly, the faithful monastic might truly wonder when his or her vow of not killing, not stealing, not lying, not having a sexual activity, not taking intoxicants etc. is broken.

Can you kill a mosquito or are you going to loose your vows when you do so? Can you kill an animal, like a rat, or do you loose your vows when you kill a rat? If you can kill a mosquito or a rat then can you also kill a human being without that your vows are being broken?

What about stealing or lying? Can you steal and lie as you please or as you feel needed — maybe even “for the benefit of all”? — or “for as long as [you] maintain this promise” to train in “the commitments of ordination”?

What about having no sexual activity? If you had a wed dream, did you break your vows? If you masturbated, have you broken your vows of ordination? If you have sex with another nun or monk is this ok “for as long as [you] maintain this promise” to train in “the commitments of ordination”?

I remember an NKT monk who abandoned the robes after he masturbated because he was thinking he had broken his vows. The amount of existing confusion within the NKT regarding the vow of celibacy can also be imagined based on a testimony by a former NKT monk, Peter Graham Dryburgh, that reads:

I made a decision to deliberately break my ‘ordination vows’ so that there was no way I could or would stay, and even that process wasn’t without challenges – I did nothing sinister, I simply masturbated to break my celibacy vow – thinking they would simply discard me for this – however, I was wrong, I was told to do the Sojong Practice and that was told it was a standard process, almost a ‘secret club’ that most monks would do this once a year, then renew their own vows at the ordination of others – I was even partnered with another monk who would talk to me about how ‘okay this was’ and told (and I quote) “we all do it”. The only thing that I had to change, was that I would have to do a month’s retreat and write a letter to GKG to apologise for doing this “without permission”.

So there is no celibacy in the NKT ordained community – and this is when my mind became so entrenched in absolute terror – but terror of remaining there – as I was assigned another monk to ‘help me’ in my celibacy – and this turned out to be that if I did not masturbate myself – it was okay, the expectation was to ‘help each other’ – not a comfortable concept – he now (K Cho) runs and manages a prominent centre in Rome, so my mind was made up!

There are also cases of sexual activities with nuns by former officially appointed monastic successors of Kelsang Gyatso, e.g. Gen la Gelong Thubten Gytaso (Neil Elliott) or Gen la Samden Gyatso (Steve Wass), and other famous NKT teachers like Gen Kelsang Lodrö (David Everard) of the Bodhisattva Centre in Brighton etc., which indicate that not only NKT monks and nuns but also the NKT leadership is in great confusion about when vows are broken and when not — or at least, even the NKT leadership seems to lack serious support and education for understanding and maintaining their monastic vows!

I remember a teaching about Vajrayogini (a hightest yoga tantric practice) given by Kelsang Gyatso where he said that as long as you maintain “divine pride” you can even act negatively without facing consequences … “divine pride”, so I remember, he said, turns even actions usually regarded as negative into positive deeds – as long as you “keep divine pride”. I wondered at that time, ‘If I have sex with another person while I imagine ‘I am Vajrayogini’ is this then permissible?’ Luckily, I dropped that thought as unacceptable.

The sexual misconduct within the leadership of NKT and among some NKT resident teachers relates back for me to Kelsang Gyatso who misses to teach his monks and nuns properly about the vows but prefers to give ambiguous, unclear and even misguided teachings that leave too much space for personal interpretations.

But in fact, according to Buddhism, when is the ordination of a Buddhist monk and nun really lost or broken? At what point are you no Buddhist monk or nun anymore? What are the boundaries you have to transgress to loose your ordination?

In general, someone who has committed a defeat, a root offence (pali: Parajika) — which is 1) having sexual intercourse with humans or animals, or 2) Stealing something of value, or 3) Killing humans, or 4) Lying about attainments — is defeated by that downfall and can’t be a member of the monastic order anymore. (For a more detailed and nuanced explanation see here.)

Je Tsongkhapa lists the following causes for loosing one’s ordination vows in The Essence of the Vinaya Ocean:

Causes of Loss
Causes of losing vows are two.

Common Causes
Giving back the training, death, two sexes appearing, changing thrice, and cutting one’s roots of virtue are common.

Special Causes
Learning one was not yet twenty, agreeing to serve, and the day’s elapsing are special to, respectively, bhikshus, probationer nuns, and fasters. Some assert the vows are lost if one commits a root offence or if the holy Dharma vanishes. Vaibhashikas of Kashmir assert one with vows with a root offence is like a rich man with a debt.

Geshe Rabten a yogi and scholar of the same school as Kelsang Gyatso, the Gelug school, respected to some degree even by the NKT because he practiced also Shugden, states in his commentary on the gelong vows about the four “root vows” (pali: Parajika) — which are the most important vows for any monastic:

The first classification of the precepts of a gelong are the heaviest; these are called pen pa, which means defeat. They are called defeats because they cut the strength of a gelong vow. They cause them to degenerate. The reason for calling these defeats is that if two people are fighting and one loses, he is defeated. And so in the same way if we should commit one of these defeats it is like the precepts defeat us and we are the defeated.

THE FOUR DEFEATS 

There are four defeats:

1. sexual intercourse
2. taking that which is not given
3. taking human life
4. a specific type of lying

(1) Sexual intercourse 

This defeat occurs when one has sexual intercourse with either a human or a non-human, e.g., an animal, The way the actual defeat occurs is: first there arises lust/attachment/desire in the mind to engage in the act, then it involves one of the three pathways of the opposite sex, this other being. These three pathways are, for a female, the mouth, the anus, and the sexual organ. So if one’s male organ enters any of these three pathways, then as soon as there arises the physical pleasure from just the motion or activation of the semen, this defeat is incurred.

During the time of the Buddha there were some bhikshus who thought a defeat would occur only if sexual intercourse was carried out with a human being, but that it would not if it were carried out with an animal. They acted upon that attitude and then the Buddha told them that they were committing a defeat by acting in this way. Also some other gelongs, not knowing exactly what was involved in this defeat, thought there would be no defeat if intercourse were carried out with a corpse. So they did this, with just half a corpse even. They wanted to keep the vinaya, they wanted to keep their vows, but they did not know how. So the Buddha explained that the vow included corpses, either half or whole, and that a defeat was incurred when any of the three pathways were entered.

(2) Taking that which is not given 

This excludes two cases:

  • the first is that if some person has said that this food is for you, and he then sets it out, and then you come along and take as much as you like, there is no downfall.
  • the second is taking that which others have discarded, that have been thrown away, not wanted anymore.

So these two do not constitute a downfall. But now for other things, things that are not one’s own and belong to another person. If there arises the motivation “I would like to steal that, I would like to take that for myself,” and then having this motivation one goes out and takes it or sends someone else to do it, then as soon as the thought or attitude arises, “Now it is mine, now I have got it,” this defeat takes place. So this defeat occurs whether one acts directly or indirectly. In order for this defeat to occur it does not mean you have to wear a mask, hold a revolver, and generally carry on like a thief, holding somebody up—like that. It also occurs if one should rob someone openly, to their face, snatching something from them by force perhaps. There is also a third way of stealing, and that is through deceit of trickery, lying or deceiving other people in order to get something from them. So in each of these three ways this defeat can occur.

(3) Killing 

This involves killing a person or one who is to become a person. A person is defined as one who has come from a womb—a human—or one who is still in the womb when the head and limbs have already formed—a human fetus. This is called a person, and this is what is created when the male and female elements come together and the consciousness enters that mixture. In either case of killing, one should have the motivation “I would like to put an end to, to cut the life of this being,” and with that motivation to commit the act, either oneself or causing someone else to do it. Like saying to another person, “Please give this person poison, please shoot this person.” In either case, if the individual dies before oneself, then this defeat occurs.

There are many ways in which one is able to kill someone, e.g. amongst those who think of themselves as practicing Dharma, there are some who use a certain kind of mantra, very violent mantras that can be used to kill a person. So one could apply these mantras and thus take the life of another being, and although one may have that the feeling that one is a great Tantric Master, what has occurred is simply a defeat.

Question: What happens if the person committing the act dies before the victim? Is the effect different or changed? And if this is so, then why is it?

Answer: There is a difference. For example, if one gives some slow-acting poison to someone else, obviously with the intent to kill him or her, and then in the meantime one dies, and later this other person dies, then if one asks, “What is the time that the person was killed and the defeat incurred?” it would obviously be at the time that the victim died. If the person doing the killing had already died and had taken birth as a bug, or something similar, then it cannot be said that that this bug killed that person because it certainly did not. So there would not be anyone who was responsible, because the person who set out to do the killing is no longer existent.

(4) Lying 

This refers only to a specific kind of lying. Not all kinds of lying result in this defeat. This defeat specifically refers to lying about one’s attainments. For example, if one should be lacking the attainments of Samadhi, Samatha, clairvoyance and one should tell otherwise. Or if one should claim to be the incarnation of this or that particular Lama when one obviously is not, as soon as such a false statement is made about one’s attainments and another person hears it, then this defeat occurs. This act of lying does not even have to be a verbal action; e.g. if one is a Guru and one’s disciples are saying “It really seems as though you have great clairvoyance,” and one does not say anything, one just sits there silently agreeing, giving the impression that one is agreeing, or just giving a knowing smile or laugh, then this defeat would occur. If one is just joking about one’s insight and others accept it as a joke, then the defeat does not occur; there still occurs a sort of downfall, however, but not a defeat.

However, if you are playing around and the other person is not aware of this, it would not be a defeat, but a downfall, which is only just below a defeat and therefore still very heavy. The only kind of results that come from a defeat are suffering, and so if you should try and describe the virtues of committing one of these defeats, there is really nothing to say.

There are two kinds of downfall. The first is called a natural, i.e. it is such that whoever commits it, whether with or without vows, whoever is engaging in it, when he does something that is unwholesome, that leaves an evil imprint on the mind. This is called a natural evil act.

Question: If someone borrows something with the intention of returning it when one has finished, but fails to ask the person for it if he is not around at the time one needs it, is that considered as stealing, having the intention to give it back, but not specifica1ly asking for it?

Answer: It would not be a defeat because one does not have the intention to keep it forever. However, a downfall would still occur although it would be one of the less heavy ones.

So Geshe is not teaching us this so that we can become learned, have great knowledge of the vinaya. This is entirely in order to be put into practice. For example other things like compassion, Bodhicitta: if we can put these into practice and meditate on them, then this is excellent, but if one cannot, then the result is not[sic] going to the lower realms. But now that we have the vinaya, the result of not practicing this … very difficult! So this is something that simply must be practiced; there is no way we can avoid practicing it. So the Buddha told the gelongs that they were to have few concerns, few activities and few desires. Which would leave them content with just a few things, clothing and so on. Whereas if they had a lot of desires they would always be getting this and that for themselves, acquiring many things. So Buddha said that there are thirteen things, specific articles to have, and these are sufficient.

This is quite in line with the Vinaya, the Pratimoskha, as it was taught by the Buddha, as it is been taught and practiced in the Pali Tradition, and as it is been taught and stressed by Je Tsongkhapa and the Gelug school from which the NKT derives.

However, sadly, these important and differentiated teachings about the Vinaya are totally absent in the NKT. Instead, Kelsang Gyatso blurs the whole Vinaya topic with his superficial, distorted and misleading explanations, leaving monastics in a state of confusion, uneducated and unguided. Shugden won’t protect NKT monastics, NKT monastics have to study, observe and protect their vows themselves.

I fear, this New Ordination Handbook — which is quite in the tradition of the common confusion found within the NKT about this subject — will lead NKT monastics even more into a wrong direction because these superficial explanations can be read and interpreted in ways, that you can do what ever you like as a Buddhist monk or nun in the NKT “for as long as [you] maintain this promise”, the “promise to practice the commitments of ordination”. According to The New Ordination Handbook, NKT monks and nuns only break their ordination vows when “we give up this promise”.

I would like to encourage and to urge every NKT monk or nun to really study the vows, its boundaries and to live according to the Vinaya and Pratimoksha as laid down by the Buddha and stressed also by Je Tsongkhapa. It will be only for your benefit and the benefit of others as well as Buddhism in general.
Thank you very much!
As a start you could read Geshe Rabten’s commentary or, if you like, you could contact me and I can give you a commentary on the vows by a respected Lharampa Geshe of the same school as Geshe Kelsang who taught the Vinaya and the monastic vows correctly to Western monks and nuns.

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The New Ordination Handbook of the New Kadampa Tradition. Author: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

The New Ordination Handbook of the New Kadampa Tradition

INTRODUCTION

The instructions given in this leaflet are a practice guide to a meaningful life. To avoid obstacles and to make progress in practising the ordination vows I would like to encourage those who are ordained to memorize The New Ordination Handbook of the New Kadampa Tradition and put its every meaning into practice. By doing this they will experience immeasurable meaning in this life and in their countless future lives. I guarantee this.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Buddha’s Enlightenment Day
April 15th 2010 

The Practice of the Ordination Vow

WHAT IS THE ORDINATION VOW

When we took our ordination in front of our Preceptor and the Assembly of Sangha we made the promise to practice the commitments of ordination. This promise is our ordination vow. For as long as we maintain this promise we are practising the ordination vow. If we give up this promise we break our ordination vow.

There are ten commitments of ordination that we promised to practice. These are to abandon killing, stealing, lying, or cheating, sexual activity, taking intoxicants, and engaging in meaningless activities, and to practice contentment, to reduce our desire for worldly pleasures, to maintain the commitments of refuge and to practice the three higher trainings – training in higher moral discipline, concentration and wisdom. The tenth commitment, to practice the three higher trainings, is the actual method to attain permanent liberation from all suffering, which is our deepest wish and the real meaning of human life.

To avoid obstacles and to make progress in our practice of the three higher trainings we need to practice the other nine commitments, from abandoning killing to maintaining the commitments of refuge. Understanding that the happiness and freedom of each and every living being are equally important we should abandon performing actions that cause others to experience suffering and problems, including killing, stealing and lying or cheating. This is the basic foundation upon which all spiritual realizations will grow. If we check carefully we shall understand through our own experience that sexual activity, taking intoxicants and engaging in meaningless activities are serious obstacles to pure Dharma practice in general, and especially to our practice of pure moral discipline, concentration or meditation, and wisdom. Understanding this we should abandon sexual activity, taking intoxicants and engaging in meaningless activities. Through practising contentment and reducing our desire for worldly pleasures we shall be able to control our distractions, and thus easily make progress in our practice of the three higher trainings. Understanding this we should apply great effort to practising contentment and reducing our desire for worldly pleasures.

We should never give up the promise we made in front of our Preceptor – who is the representative of Buddha – which was to go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha throughout our life. This promise is our refuge now. Saying ‘I go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha’ means that we will apply effort to receiving Buddha’s blessings, to putting Dharma into practice and to receiving help from Sangha, our pure spiritual friends including our Spiritual Teacher. This is the principal commitment of the refuge vow. Through maintaining and sincerely practising this principal commitment of refuge we can fulfil our final goal.

HOW TO MAINTAIN AND MAKE PROGESS IN OUR

PRACTICE OF THE ORDINATION VOW

There are four main practices of the ordination vow: (1) the practice of renunciation. (2) the practice of higher moral discipline; (3) the practice of higher concentration and (4) the practice of higher wisdom.

The first is the gateway through which we enter the path to liberation – the supreme, permanent peace of mind known as ‘nirvana’. The remaining three, called the three higher trainings, are the actual path to liberation.

To develop the realization of renunciation we should deeply contemplate how in our countless future lives we will have to experience the unbearable sufferings of animals, hungry ghosts, hell beings, humans, demi-gods and gods. A deeper explanation of this contemplation is given in Modern Buddhismin the chapter The Path of a Person of Middling Scope. We should deeply contemplate this explanation continually until we develop intense fear of the unbearable sufferings of the endless cycle of impure life, samsara. This fear is renunciation and arises from our wisdom; it is not ordinary fear but is part of wisdom. We should therefore engage joyfully in the actual path to liberation – the three higher trainings.

THE PRACTICE OF HIGHER MORAL DISCIPLINE

In the practice of higher moral discipline we apply effort, motivated by renunciation, to abandon inappropriate actions in general and especially breaking our commitments of the ordination vow – the ten commitments already listed. When we train in higher moral discipline we are learning to be deeply familiar with the practice of moral discipline, motivated by renunciation – wanting to attain permanent liberation from the sufferings of countless future lives.

The nature of moral discipline is abandoning inappropriate actions, maintaining pure behaviour and performing every action correctly with a virtuous motivation. It functions as the basic foundation upon which all other spiritual realizations will grow, and it prevents future sufferings and problems for ourself and for others. If we check carefully we shall understand that most of our human problems arise because of our lacking the practice of moral discipline. We know that some intelligent animals can be trained to stop certain inappropriate actions, maintain pure behaviour and perform actions correctly but the difference between them and human beings is in their motivation; animals have no opportunity to develop renunciation. In Buddhism, renunciation necessarily arises from wisdom.

THE PRACTICE OF HIGHER CONCENTRATION

In the practice of higher concentration we sincerely learn, with the motivation of renunciation, to be deeply familiar with the concentrations or meditations presented in Lamrim teachings – meditations on the preciousness of our human life, death, renunciation and so forth. We should also apply effort to controlling our distractions; with distractions we cannot accomplish anything. When we are training in higher concentration we are learning to be deeply familiar with concentration or meditation, motivated by renunciation.

The nature of concentration is a single-pointed virtuous mind. For as long as we remain with this mind we shall experience mental peace, and thus we shall be happy. The function of concentration is to prevent subtle distractions; and we prevent gross distractions through sincerely practising moral discipline. Normally, distraction is the main obstacle to our Dharma practice. We can solve this problem through sincerely practising moral discipline and concentration; together they give rise to quick results in our Dharma practice.

THE PRACTICE OF HIGHER WISDOM

In the practice of higher wisdom we sincerely learn, with the motivation of renunciation, to be deeply familiar with meditation on the emptiness of all phenomena – the mere absence of all phenomena that we normally see or perceive. When we do this we are training in higher wisdom. In this training we emphasize attaining tranquil abiding focused on emptiness. Through this we shall develop the wisdoms of superior seeing, the path of seeing and the path of meditation, and the wisdom that directly realizes and experiences nirvana, the supreme permanent peace of mind. A practical explanation of this development can be found in Modern Buddhism.

In general, wisdom is a virtuous, intelligent mind that functions to understand meaningful objects – the existence of past and future lives, karma, emptiness and so forth. These objects are meaningful because understanding them brings great meaning to this life and our countless future lives. We should apply great effort to developing the wisdom that recognises, reduces and finally abandons completely our self-grasping ignorance – the root of all our suffering and problems. We can accomplish this with careful study and strong practice of the teachings on emptiness given in Modern Buddhism in the chapter Training in Ultimate Bodhichitta.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, when we took ordination following the instructions given by our Preceptor, we changed three things; our mind, our physical aspect and our name. We changed our mind from attachment to this life to renunciation, wanting to liberate ourself permanently from the sufferings of our countless future lives. We should maintain this change throughout our life. To do this, every day we should contemplate the instructions on death, the existence of future lives and renunciation presented in Modern Buddhism. 

We changed our physical aspect by wearing the three precious robes of ordination; the shamthab, zen and chogu, which indicate that our main practice in daily life is the three higher trainings, called ‘higher’ because they are motivated by renunciation; training in higher moral discipline, higher concentration and higher wisdom. We wear these special robes not to show that we are a special person, but to remind ourself that our daily practice is the three higher trainings. We should keep this recognition in our heart and put it into practice.

[Line drawing of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden inserted.]

The three precious robes of ordination are very special clothes; the shamthab represents higher moral discipline; the zen represents higher concentration and the chogu represents higher wisdom. Another significant item of clothing of an ordained person, the dongkha, represents the abandoning of self-grasping ignorance.

In general there are three levels of trainings in moral discipline, concentration and wisdom, which correspond to the stages of the path of persons of initial scope, middling scope and great scope. The first level of these trainings is practising the path to higher rebirth that protects us from taking lower rebirth; the second level of these trainings is practising the path to liberation that protects us from taking rebirth in samsara; and the third level of these trainings is practising the path to full enlightenment. Since we need to protect ourself from lower rebirth and samsaric rebirth, and we need to attain the supreme happiness of enlightenment, it is definite that we need to practice the entire Kadam Lamrim from relying on our Spiritual Guide to training in superior seeing, as presented in Kadam Lamrim instructions such as Modern Buddhism. In this way, by sincerely putting Kadam Lamrim instructions into practice, we shall accomplish the ultimate goal of human life, the supreme happiness of full enlightenment.

DEDICATION

By not transgressing the practice of moral discipline
Of the Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva and Tantric vows,
And by gathering virtuous Dharmas and accomplishing the welfare of sentient beings,
May we complete our heart practice, the perfection of moral discipline.

ColophonComposed by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, April 2010
Copyright: New Kadampa Trdition –International Kadampa Buddhist Union 2010.

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Further Readings

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Last edited on April 28, 2016 at 11:32 am

Did the Shugden group, ISC, give up protesting against the DalaiLama? Its a bit more complex …

After The Guardian and Reuters reported about the disbandment of the International Shugden Community (ISC), I expressed some reservations in a blog entry (see Some Final Remarks). Unlike many claims made online and in print – for instance on Reddit or The Guardian – Reuters didn’t establish that the International Shugden Community (ISC) – which was founded and is operated by the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) – is financed by China nor was the defector Lama Tseta a member, supporter or follower of the NKT. The Shugden groups are also not homogeneous and there are many not one.

Did nobody wonder how it could happen that after the official “disbandment” of the ISC on March 10th, 2016 – the commemoration day of the Tibetan Uprising – during the last day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to Madison, some of the Dolgyal (Shugden) adherents flew a plane with a large banner that read “Dalai Lama Stop Lying” over the venue in Madison in the afternoon? The plane was up for at least 2-3 hours. 3-4 Tibetan Shugden protesters also stood in front of the venue and distributed materials. So are the protests really over and how much substance have the Reuters articles?

I think in the sense of upholding the spirit of European enlightenment more differentiation and more precision is needed. Things are complex and though the misunderstanding that “Reuters established beyond doubt the link between the International Shugden Community and the Chinese communist party” (The Guardian) might settle for most people the Shugden dispute, it is just not correct. In the light of the facts, ’s self-confident claim in The Guardian, “a victory for real journalism” is quite embarrassing.

Nevertheless, thanks to Reuters, thanks to The Guardian and to the very few other international newspapers and journalists – like Foreign Policy – who tried to report about it in a more nuanced and more informed way.

Thanks to everybody – especially the academic experts – who helped to shine light on this diffi·cult topic!

Here is a reflection by Tibetologist Thierry Dodin about this complex topic:

A Warning Letter from Lama Ole Nydahl: Don’t Mix Tantric Methods and Teachers

Dearest Diamond Way students and friends,

A few words of timely advice:

I understand that many of you, who haven’t had the Phowa practice yet, are now looking to receive this timeless experience.

Recently, at the great initiation of Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s monastery in Nepal, I spoke to Dupsing Rinpoche whom I didn’t know but who had apparently been contacting our Diamond Way centres and offering his teachings, among them Phowa. I told him that our strength lies in the fact that we only take teachers who have been sent directly by Karmapa. Furthermore, he agreed that there are many Phowa-lineages and promised that to avoid confusion he will never mix into our Diamond Way practices and centres but instead do his own work.

Our Diamond Way centres should stay with our transmission as blessed by the 16th Karmapa, who always stopped any mistakes on the tantra-level. Concerning Phowa, our method is the Drikung-Kagyu practice given by Ayang Tulku to Hannah and me in the presence of the 16th Karmapa in Rumtek, Sikkim in 1972 with the wish that I should teach it to our many friends. This was also requested and blessed later by Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche and many of our highest lamas. Handled like this, it has brought perfect results to at least a hundred-and-twenty-thousand students so far.

Even If Dupsing Rinpoche or anybody else may have a similar text to the one we are using, it is not the same living transmission. Our observation and experience and – more importantly – that of our great Karma Kagyu lamas Hannah and I learnt from over the last 45 years, warn all students against mixing deep and tantric methods and teachers.

Tibetans never mix practices from different lamas and Vajrayana transmissions, even if they have the same lineage-lama and use the same texts; this is because it is known to lead to unending and fruitless discussions rather than a deep inner growth and lasting experience.

I therefore advice strongly against bringing confusion into our practices by taking tantric methods from teachers not sent to our DW centres by Karmapa. There will certainly be enough people for good and hard working lamas to create their own centres and organisations upholding their own methods.

Most Venerable Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche and myself advise our Diamond Way students eager to learn Phowa to begin with the preparation which has been so effective in the past: please do at least half a million OM AMI DEWA HRIHmantras. Meditating on the Red Buddha over your heads, you will receive the blessing of the pure land and our noble lineage. Furthermore, as the great 16th Karmapa often stated, our main practices remain the Ngöndro and the exciting Karmapa meditations leading to the Great Seal teachings of full enlightenment. Over the centuries this created timeless human growth.

For the basic and fundamental teachings leading to Phowa we have several hundred qualified Diamond Way teachers and I aim to give Phowa courses as soon as possible again. Therefore, if you start the OM AMI DEWA HRIH mantras and continue polishing the floor with your prostrations I shall give the practice when conditions come together. Joining in the stream of awareness already created, your results will be powerful and connected to modern life.

Countless best wishes and may we meet soon again.

Long Live our noble Karma Kagyu lineage!

Yours, Lama Ole

P.S. The focus on and deep practice of one method at a time is what brings lasting results.

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A brief commentary by the person who leaked the letter

Dupsing Rinpoche is a Karma Kagyu lama following – just like Ole – Thrinle Thaye Dorje as Karmapa. Dupsing Rinpoche is one of my teachers, so I know him quite well.

He did not contact Ole’s centers, in fact – to my best knowledge – Ole’s German students contacted Dupsing Rinpoche and requested him to give teachings (though not within Ole’s facilities). Ole wants to keep total control of his group but does not have enough courage to make this clear, so instead of telling things like they are, he spins stories such as those in this letter. Of course anyone who has studied with Tibetans will know that what Ole says there is non-sense, but his students never had a chance to personally study with Tibetan teachers, they only attend public lectures and empowerments given by the teacher whom Ole personally invited and whom he kind of oversees.

This being so his students have no knowledge on how Tibetans conduct themselves when it comes to Dharma and think of sectarianism as being not only norm, but also a requirement.

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Sectarianism & Non-Sectarianism

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How Rebirth Takes Place, Tulkus, Recognizing Reincarnations – HH the 14th Dalai Lama

Reincarnation

A very clear statement by the Dalai Lama on voluntary reincarnation (tulku) in general, and on his own future incarnation as the 15th Dalai Lama from 2011.

Translated from the original Tibetan
www.dalailama.com

Introduction

My fellow Tibetans, both in and outside Tibet, all those who follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and everyone who has a connection to Tibet and Tibetans: due to the foresight of our ancient kings, ministers and scholar-adepts, the complete teaching of the Buddha, comprising the scriptural and experiential teachings of the Three Vehicles and the Four Sets of Tantra and their related subjects and disciplines flourished widely in the Land of Snow. Tibet has served as a source of Buddhist and related cultural traditions for the world. In particular, it has contributed significantly to the happiness of countless beings in Asia, including those in China, Tibet and Mongolia.

In the course of upholding the Buddhist tradition in Tibet, we evolved a unique Tibetan tradition of recognizing the reincarnations of scholar-adepts that has been of immense help to both the Dharma and sentient beings, particularly to the monastic community.

Since the omniscient Gedun Gyatso was recognized and confirmed as the reincarnation of Gedun Drub in the fifteenth century and the Gaden Phodrang Labrang (the Dalai Lama’s institution) was established, successive reincarnations have been recognized. The third in the line, Sonam Gyatso, was given the title of the Dalai Lama. The Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, established the Gaden Phodrang Government in 1642, becoming the spiritual and political head of Tibet. For more than 600 years since Gedun Drub, a series of unmistaken reincarnations has been recognised in the lineage of the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lamas have functioned as both the political and spiritual leaders of Tibet for 369 years since 1642. I have now voluntarily brought this to an end, proud and satisfied that we can pursue the kind of democratic system of government flourishing elsewhere in the world. In fact, as far back as 1969, I made clear that concerned people should decide whether the Dalai Lama’s reincarnations should continue in the future. However, in the absence of clear guidelines, should the concerned public express a strong wish for the Dalai Lamas to continue, there is an obvious risk of vested political interests misusing the reincarnation system to fulfil their own political agenda. Therefore, while I remain physically and mentally fit, it seems important to me that we draw up clear guidelines to recognise the next Dalai Lama, so that there is no room for doubt or deception. For these guidelines to be fully comprehensible, it is essential to understand the system of Tulku recognition and the basic concepts behind it. Therefore, I shall briefly explain them below.

Past and future lives

In order to accept reincarnation or the reality of Tulkus, we need to accept the existence of past and future lives. Sentient beings come to this present life from their previous lives and take rebirth again after death. This kind of continuous rebirth is accepted by all the ancient Indian spiritual traditions and schools of philosophy, except the Charvakas, who were a materialist movement. Some modern thinkers deny past and future lives on the premise that we cannot see them. Others do not draw such clear cut conclusions on this basis.

Although many religious traditions accept rebirth, they differ in their views of what it is that is reborn, how it is reborn, and how it passes through the transitional period between two lives. Some religious traditions accept the prospect of future life, but reject the idea of past lives.

Generally, Buddhists believe that there is no beginning to birth and that once we achieve liberation from the cycle of existence by overcoming our karma and destructive emotions, we will not be reborn under the sway of these conditions. Therefore, Buddhists believe that there is an end to being reborn as a result of karma and destructive emotions, but most Buddhist philosophical schools do not accept that the mind-stream comes to an end. To reject past and future rebirth would contradict the Buddhist concept of the ground, path and result, which must be explained on the basis of the disciplined or undisciplined mind. If we accept this argument, logically, we would also have to accept that the world and its inhabitants come about without causes and conditions. Therefore, as long as you are a Buddhist, it is necessary to accept past and future rebirth.

For those who remember their past lives, rebirth is a clear experience. However, most ordinary beings forget their past lives as they go through the process of death, intermediate state and rebirth. As past and future rebirths are slightly obscure to them, we need to use evidence-based logic to prove past and future rebirths to them.

There are many different logical arguments given in the words of the Buddha and subsequent commentaries to prove the existence of past and future lives. In brief, they come down to four points: the logic that things are preceded by things of a similar type, the logic that things are preceded by a substantial cause, the logic that the mind has gained familiarity with things in the past, and the logic of having gained experience of things in the past.

Ultimately all these arguments are based on the idea that the nature of the mind, its clarity and awareness, must have clarity and awareness as its substantial cause. It cannot have any other entity such as an inanimate object as its substantial cause. This is self-evident. Through logical analysis we infer that a new stream of clarity and awareness cannot come about without causes or from unrelated causes. While we observe that mind cannot be produced in a laboratory, we also infer that nothing can eliminate the continuity of subtle clarity and awareness.

As far as I know, no modern psychologist, physicist, or neuroscientist has been able to observe or predict the production of mind either from matter or without cause.

There are people who can remember their immediate past life or even many past lives, as well as being able to recognise places and relatives from those lives. This is not just something that happened in the past. Even today there are many people in the East and West, who can recall incidents and experiences from their past lives. Denying this is not an honest and impartial way of doing research, because it runs counter to this evidence. The Tibetan system of recognising reincarnations is an authentic mode of investigation based on people’s recollection of their past lives.

How rebirth takes place

There are two ways in which someone can take rebirth after death: rebirth under the sway of karma and destructive emotions and rebirth through the power of compassion and prayer. Regarding the first, due to ignorance negative and positive karma are created and their imprints remain on the consciousness. These are reactivated through craving and grasping, propelling us into the next life. We then take rebirth involuntarily in higher or lower realms. This is the way ordinary beings circle incessantly through existence like the turning of a wheel. Even under such circumstances ordinary beings can engage diligently with a positive aspiration in virtuous practices in their day-to-day lives. They familiarise themselves with virtue that at the time of death can be reactivated providing the means for them to take rebirth in a higher realm of existence. On the other hand, superior Bodhisattvas, who have attained the path of seeing, are not reborn through the force of their karma and destructive emotions, but due to the power of their compassion for sentient beings and based on their prayers to benefit others. They are able to choose their place and time of birth as well as their future parents. Such a rebirth, which is solely for the benefit of others, is rebirth through the force of compassion and prayer.

The meaning of Tulku

It seems the Tibetan custom of applying the epithet ‘Tulku’ (Buddha’s Emanation Body) to recognized reincarnations began when devotees used it as an honorary title, but it has since become a common expression. In general, the term Tulku refers to a particular aspect of the Buddha, one of the three or four described in the Sutra Vehicle. According to this explanation of these aspects of the Buddha, a person who is totally bound by destructive emotions and karma has the potential to achieve the Truth Body (Dharmakaya), comprising the Wisdom Truth Body and Nature Truth Body. The former refers to the enlightened mind of a Buddha, which sees everything directly and precisely, as it is, in an instant. It has been cleared of all destructive emotions, as well as their imprints, through the accumulation of merit and wisdom over a long period of time. The latter, the Nature Truth Body, refers to the empty nature of that all-knowing enlightened mind. These two together are aspects of the Buddhas for themselves. However, as they are not directly accessible to others, but only amongst the Buddhas themselves, it is imperative that the Buddhas manifest in physical forms that are accessible to sentient beings in order to help them. Hence, the ultimate physical aspect of a Buddha is the Body of Complete Enjoyment (Sambhogakaya), which is accessible to superior Bodhisattvas, and has five definite qualifications such as residing in the Akanishta Heaven. And from the Body of Complete Enjoyment are manifested the myriad Emanation Bodies or Tulkus (Nirmanakaya), of the Buddhas, which appear as gods or humans and are accessible even to ordinary beings. These two physical aspects of the Buddha are termed Form Bodies, which are meant for others.

The Emanation Body is three-fold: a) the Supreme Emanation Body like Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha, who manifested the twelve deeds of a Buddha such as being born in the place he chose and so forth; b) the Artistic Emanation Body which serves others by appearing as craftsmen, artists and so on; and c) the Incarnate Emanation Body, according to which Buddhas appear in various forms such as human beings, deities, rivers, bridges, medicinal plants, and trees to help sentient beings. Of these three types of Emanation Body, the reincarnations of spiritual masters recognized and known as ‘Tulkus’ in Tibet come under the third category. Among these Tulkus there may be many who are truly qualified Incarnate Emanation Bodies of the Buddhas, but this does not necessarily apply to all of them. Amongst the Tulkus of Tibet there may be those who are reincarnations of superior Bodhisattvas, Bodhisattvas on the paths of accumulation and preparation, as well as masters who are evidently yet to enter these Bodhisattva paths. Therefore, the title of Tulku is given to reincarnate Lamas either on the grounds of their resembling enlightened beings or through their connection to certain qualities of enlightened beings.

As Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo said:

Reincarnation is what happens when someone takes rebirth after the predecessor’s passing away; emanation is when manifestations take place without the source’s passing away.

Recognition of Reincarnations

The practice of recognizing who is who by identifying someone’s previous life occurred even when Shakyamuni Buddha himself was alive. Many accounts are found in the four Agama Sections of the Vinaya Pitaka, the Jataka Stories, the Sutra of the Wise and Foolish, the Sutra of One Hundred Karmas and so on, in which the Tathagata revealed the workings of karma, recounting innumerable stories about how the effects of certain karmas created in a past life are experienced by a person in his or her present life. Also, in the life stories of Indian masters, who lived after the Buddha, many reveal their previous places of birth. There are many such stories, but the system of recognizing and numbering their reincarnations did not occur in India.

The system of recognizing reincarnations in Tibet

Past and future lives were asserted in the indigenous Tibetan Bon tradition before the arrival of Buddhism. And since the spread of Buddhism in Tibet, virtually all Tibetans have believed in past and future lives. Investigating the reincarnations of many spiritual masters who upheld the Dharma, as well as the custom of praying devotedly to them, flourished everywhere in Tibet. Many authentic scriptures, indigenous Tibetan books such as the Mani Kabum and the Fivefold Kathang Teachings and others like the The Books of Kadam Disciples and the Jewel Garland: Responses to Queries, which were recounted by the glorious, incomparable Indian master Dipankara Atisha in the 11th century in Tibet, tell stories of the reincarnations of Arya Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. However, the present tradition of formally recognizing the reincarnations of masters first began in the early 13th century with the recognition of Karmapa Pagshi as the reincarnation of Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa by his disciples in accordance with his prediction. Since then, there have been seventeen Karmapa incarnations over more than nine hundred years. Similarly, since the recognition of Kunga Sangmo as the reincarnation of Khandro Choekyi Dronme in the 15th century there have been more than ten incarnations of Samding Dorje Phagmo. So, among the Tulkus recognized in Tibet there are monastics and lay tantric practitioners, male and female. This system of recognizing the reincarnations gradually spread to other Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and Bon, in Tibet. Today, there are recognized Tulkus in all the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Sakya, Geluk, Kagyu and Nyingma, as well as Jonang and Bodong, who serve the Dharma. It is also evident that amongst these Tulkus some are a disgrace.

The omniscient Gedun Drub, who was a direct disciple of Je Tsongkhapa, founded Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Tsang and took care of his students. He passed away in 1474 at the age of 84. Although initially no efforts were made to identify his reincarnation, people were obliged to recognize a child named Sangye Chophel, who had been born in Tanak, Tsang (1476), because of what he had to say about his amazing and flawless recollections of his past life. Since then, a tradition began of searching for and recognizing the successive reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas by the Gaden Phodrang Labrang and later the Gaden Phodrang Government.

The ways of recognizing reincarnations

After the system of recognizing Tulkus came into being, various procedures for going about it began to develop and grow. Among these some of the most important involve the predecessor’s predictive letter and other instructions and indications that might occur; the reincarnation’s reliably recounting his previous life and speaking about it; identifying possessions belonging to the predecessor and recognizing people who had been close to him. Apart from these, additional methods include asking reliable spiritual masters for their divination as well as seeking the predictions of mundane oracles, who appear through mediums in trance, and observing the visions that manifest in sacred lakes of protectors like Lhamoi Latso, a sacred lake south of Lhasa.

When there happens to be more than one prospective candidate for recognition as a Tulku, and it becomes difficult to decide, there is a practice of making the final decision by divination employing the dough-ball method (zen tak) before a sacred image while calling upon the power of truth.

Emanation before the passing away of the predecessor (ma-dhey tulku)

Usually a reincarnation has to be someone’s taking rebirth as a human being after previously passing away. Ordinary sentient beings generally cannot manifest an emanation before death (ma-dhey tulku), but superior Bodhisattvas, who can manifest themselves in hundreds or thousands of bodies simultaneously, can manifest an emanation before death. Within the Tibetan system of recognizing Tulkus there are emanations who belong to the same mind-stream as the predecessor, emanations who are connected to others through the power of karma and prayers, and emanations who come as a result of blessings and appointment.

The main purpose of the appearance of a reincarnation is to continue the predecessor’s unfinished work to serve Dharma and beings. In the case of a Lama who is an ordinary being, instead of having a reincarnation belonging to the same mind-stream, someone else with connections to that Lama through pure karma and prayers may be recognized as his or her emanation. Alternatively it is possible for the Lama to appoint a successor who is either his disciple or someone young who is to be recognized as his emanation. Since these options are possible in the case of an ordinary being, an emanation before death that is not of the same mind-stream is feasible. In some cases one high Lama may have several reincarnations simultaneously, such as incarnations of body, speech and mind and so on. In recent times, there have been well-known emanations before death such as Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje and Chogye Trichen Ngawang Khyenrab.

Using the Golden Urn

As the degenerate age gets worse, and as more reincarnations of high Lamas are being recognized, some of them for political motives, increasing numbers have been recognized through inappropriate and questionable means, as a result of which huge damage has been done to the Dharma.

During the conflict between Tibet and the Gurkhas (1791-93) the Tibetan Government had to call on Manchu military support. Consequently the Gurkha military was expelled from Tibet, but afterwards Manchu officials made a 29-point proposal on the pretext of making the Tibetan Government’s administration more efficient. This proposal included the suggestion of picking lots from a Golden Urn to decide on the recognition of the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas, Panchen Lamas and Hutuktus, a Mongolian title given to high Lamas. Therefore, this procedure was followed in the case of recognizing some reincarnations of the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and other high Lamas. The ritual to be followed was written by the Eighth Dalai Lama Jampel Gyatso.  Even after such a system had been introduced, this procedure was dispensed with for the Ninth, Thirteenth and myself, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Even in the case of the Tenth Dalai Lama, the authentic reincarnation had already been found and in reality this procedure was not followed, but in order to humour the Manchus it was merely announced that this procedure had been observed.

The Golden Urn system was actually used only in the cases of the Eleventh and Twelfth Dalai Lamas. However, the Twelfth Dalai Lama had already been recognized before the procedure was employed. Therefore, there has only been one occasion when a Dalai Lama was recognized by using this method. Likewise, among the reincarnations of the Panchen Lama, apart from the Eighth and the Ninth, there have been no instances of this method being employed. This system was imposed by the Manchus, but Tibetans had no faith in it because it lacked any spiritual quality. However, if it were to be used honestly, it seems that we could consider it as similar to the manner of divination employing the dough-ball method (zen tak).

In 1880, during the recognition of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Twelfth, traces of the Priest-Patron relationship between Tibet and the Manchus still existed. He was recognized as the unmistaken reincarnation by the Eighth Panchen Lama, the predictions of the Nechung and Samye oracles and by observing visions that appeared in Lhamoi Latso, therefore the Golden Urn procedure was not followed. This can be clearly understood from the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s final testament of the Water-Monkey Year (1933) in which he states:

As you all know, I was selected not in the customary way of picking lots from the golden urn, but my selection was foretold and divined. In accordance with these divinations and prophecies I was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and enthroned.

When I was recognized as the Fourteenth incarnation of the Dalai Lama in 1939, the Priest-Patron relationship between Tibet and China had already come to an end. Therefore, there was no question of any need to confirm the reincarnation by employing the Golden Urn. It is well-known that the then Regent of Tibet and the Tibetan National Assembly had followed the procedure for recognizing the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation taking account of the predictions of high Lamas, oracles and the visions seen in Lhamoi Latso; the Chinese had no involvement in it whatever. Nevertheless, some concerned officials of the Guomintang later cunningly spread lies in the newspapers claiming that they had agreed to forego the use of the Golden Urn and that Wu Chung-tsin presided over my enthronement, and so on. This lie  was exposed by Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, the Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, who the People’s Republic of China considered to be a most progressive person, at the Second Session of the Fifth People’s Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region (31st July 1989). This is clear, when, at the end of his speech, in which he gave a detailed explanation of events and presented documentary evidence, he demanded:

What need is there for the Communist Party to follow suit and continue the lies of the Guomintang?

Deceptive strategy and false hopes

In the recent past, there have been cases of irresponsible managers of wealthy Lama-estates who indulged in improper methods to recognize reincarnations, which have undermined the Dharma, the monastic community and our society. Moreover, since the Manchu era Chinese political authorities repeatedly engaged in various deceitful means using Buddhism, Buddhist masters and Tulkus as tools to fulfil their political ends as they involved themselves in Tibetan and Mongolian affairs. Today, the authoritarian rulers of the People’s Republic of China, who as communists reject religion, but still involve themselves in religious affairs, have imposed a so-called re-education campaign and declared the so-called Order No. Five, concerning the control and recognition of reincarnations, which came into force on 1st September 2007. This is outrageous and disgraceful. The enforcement of various inappropriate methods for recognizing reincarnations to eradicate our unique Tibetan cultural traditions is doing damage that will be difficult to repair.

Moreover, they say they are waiting for my death and will recognize a Fifteenth Dalai Lama of their choice. It is clear from their recent rules and regulations and subsequent declarations that they have a detailed strategy to deceive Tibetans, followers of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and the world community. Therefore, as I have a responsibility to protect the Dharma and sentient beings and counter such detrimental schemes, I make the following declaration.

The next incarnation of the Dalai Lama

As I mentioned earlier, reincarnation is a phenomenon which should take place either through the voluntary choice of the concerned person or at least on the strength of his or her karma, merit and prayers. Therefore, the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized. It is a reality that no one else can force the person concerned, or manipulate him or her. It is particularly inappropriate for Chinese communists, who explicitly reject even the idea of past and future lives, let alone the concept of reincarnate Tulkus, to meddle in the system of reincarnation and especially the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas. Such brazen meddling contradicts their own political ideology and reveals their double standards. Should this situation continue in the future, it will be impossible for Tibetans and those who follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to acknowledge or accept it.

When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision. If it is decided that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should continue and there is a need for the Fifteenth Dalai Lama to be recognized, responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned beings and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.

The Dalai Lama

Dharamsala
September 24, 2011
www.dalailama.com

The Cessation of the International Shugden Community / Dalai Lama protests

I guess you read or heard it already, the International Shugden Community (ISC) announced their “dissolving”. What is a bit mysterious is the why and if this is meant seriously. I want to share briefly some thoughts with you about this.

ISC announcement, made on 26th February 2016. www.internationalshugdencommunity.com

ISC announcement, made on 26th February 2016.
http://www.internationalshugdencommunity.com (PDF)

This announcement was made on the 26th February, 24 hours after Tibetans and Ex-NKT activists staged counter-protests against Neil Elliott’s teaching venue at Putney library.

Neil Elliott can be considered as the main ideologist behind the spread and expansion of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) as well as the creator and maintainer of the driving forces in how the NKT recruit new members and in how the NKT bind them skilfully to their organisation.

Its the NKT who ran those protests via ISC.

Those counter-protests against NKT centres in London and in Great Britain, I think, were very effective to raise awareness about the controversial background of the NKT and in that sense they are a real threat for the missionary drive that pervades the NKT since its inception. That’s why some ex-NKT (and so do I) rather speculate that the withdrawal from the Anti-Dalai Lama protests might likely be based on this perceived threat for their further expansion. However, Reuters or The Guardian specualte it was because of the investigative article by Reuters, “Special Report: China co-opts a Buddhist sect in global effort to smear Dalai Lama, from Dec 21, 2015.

Maybe it was a combination of both. In general, phenomena arise due to many causes and conditions. The cessation of the protests was even predicted by the Dalai Lama a while ago. It might be worth to note that the NKT / ISC dated their dissolution three months earlier, on December 1st 2015.

There is also a new piece written by Tsering Woeser on RFA, The Shugden Issue Used to be Just a Religious One. I cannot really agree with many points in it, however, I can fully subscribe to this point of view:

In indicating that followers of the Gelugpa school should drop their Shugden practice, the Dalai Lama is effectively handing over greater religious freedom to believers. It is effectively a negation of something negative that yields a positive. – Tsering Woeser

Some days ago I asked Linda Ciardiello, who takes part in the counter-protests, to send me images and to give a brief report about them, putting them into perspective with what The Guardian wrote. Here is her report / her thoughts and some images and a video of the NKT counter-protests.

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A “victory for real journalism” or a victory for determined activism?

by Linda Ciardiello
March 7, 2016

When the Dalai Lama visited England in the summer of 2015 it should have been a joyful occasion – a celebration for the UK Tibetan community in exile. But sadly his visit was marred by a series of overwhelmingly loud, intrusive and offensive protests by the New Kadampa Tradition, under the banner of their front group, the International Shugden Community. Greatly disturbed and hurt by the actions of the NKT, an independent group of London-based Tibetans decided the time had come to stand up to the NKT, to fight back, and to send them a clear message that their actions would no longer be tolerated by Tibetans. Thus a counter demonstration was staged by Tibetans and Tibet-supporters on September 18th outside KMC London, NKT’s main south London centre in Morden.

Through social media, a number of former members of NKT heard that this counter-protest had taken place and came forward to offer the Tibetans their help and expertise for further direct action against NKT. Thus the counter-protest movement against NKT quickly began to gather momentum, with a second demonstration being held outside NKT’s Shantideva Centre in Reading on November 8th. At this demonstration a speech was delivered addressed to the Resident Teacher there and to the Spiritual Directors of NKT stating “We Tibetans have been victimised, intimidated, harassed and disturbed by your actions towards our Dalai Lama to a degree beyond our tolerance and we are therefore asking you to please stop hurting us” and that their campaign against the Dalai Lama “has a political dimension which is aligning the NKT to serve the agenda of China’s brutally repressive dictatorship”. It has recently been rumoured that a week after this demonstration in Reading occurred, with its direct appeal to the NKT to desist from their campaign, a private email from ISC bosses was sent out to NKT anti-Dalai Lama activists to say that their protests would stop as of December 1st.

But no such email was received by anyone outside NKT/ISC and thus the counter-protest movement against the NKT continued to gather strength and confidence with a third demonstration staged outside NKT’s Brighton Centre on December 13th, followed by a fourth outside their Bristol centre on January 31st 2016 which garnered extensive press coverage in the Bristol Post and a fifth outside their Southampton centre on February 21st, which also gained press coverage in the Southampton Echo. Meanwhile, the counter-protest movement had spread internationally, with a demonstration staged outside a Public Talk in Vancouver, Canada given by Kelsang Khyenrab, NKT’s Deputy Spiritual Director on 10th February. During the question and answer session of his talk, Khyenrab was even confronted by a pro-Tibet activist in the audience who asked him what he had against the Dalai Lama and if he’d ever compared him to Hitler, at which Khyenrab attempted to wriggle out of his embarrassment by feigning amnesia.

With a forthcoming UK visit by the Dalai Lama planned for April, the counter-protest movement had no plans to let up with their pressure on NKT, as they set out to target the London NKT centres in the weeks prior to the visit, with Neil Elliott as a particular target. Elliott is the most senior teacher in the NKT and is understood to be the real “power behind the throne” of Kelsang Gyatso and the NKT. He is suspected to be the prime “mover and shaker” of their attacks on the Dalai Lama and the secret chief of their International Shugden Community. Thus on Thursday 25th of February a counter-protest was held outside Putney library, his teaching venue for one of their “branch classes”. The protesters caught sight of Neil Elliott and his assistant approaching the venue and some could not contain their anger with him, loudly denouncing him and his “cult” with “shame on you!” and “leave Tibetans alone!”

Within 24 hours of Elliott’s public humiliation a public announcement was issued by the International Shugden Community stating that they had already announced protests against the Dalai Lama would stop as of December 1st, and in addition it had now been decided that the ISC would disband completely and all their websites would be removed by March 10th. This announcement has been greeted with some relief but also considerable suspicion by Tibetans and former NKT members, not least because similar announcements have been made in the past, only for them to change their mind, break their word and regroup under a different name. The ISC is in fact the third front group NKT has created to mount their attacks on the Dalai Lama.

The announcement was met by NKT members and Shugden worshippers with surprise, disbelief and considerable confusion – no explanation was given for the decision. Some NKT members declared that perhaps the decision had been made because they “had won” – despite the fact that the Dalai Lama has not changed his stance on Shugden worship at all and has not accepted any of their demands. Yet perhaps they have won in the sense of the damage they have wrought on the Dalai Lama’s reputation in some people’s eyes – but that damage is as nothing compared to the damage they have done to their own reputation!

There was also the declaration that if need be, the NKT will re-group in the future. It’s not surprising therefore that Tibetans and former NKT do not trust the ISC’s announcement and nothing short of a public announcement and apology by the NKT themselves, not their front group, would ease that distrust. Thus the counter-protest movement against NKT continues and there have been two further demonstrations since the announcement was made – one outside Elliott’s class in Morden on Tuesday 1st March and one outside a day course NKT held at University College London in Bloomsbury on Saturday 5th March – with more to come.

Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper has reported the collapse of the ISC in an article published on 28th February, as a footnote to the concerted attack made on the Guardian by the NKT/ISC for their unfavourable report on NKT’s activities and motives back in the summer, where they were labelled as an “extremist sect”:

”It’s worth recording that the same journalist’s reporting was vindicated last week when an international Buddhist sect which he claimed last summer was funded by the Chinese to denounce the Dalai Lama, announced it was dissolving. The sect had mounted a concerted email campaign against the paper, and held a protest near our London office demanding that the story be withdrawn. Then Reuters established beyond doubt the link between the International Shugden Community and the Chinese communist party. Collapse of protest – and a victory for real journalism”

Bullet point summary

  1. Dalai Lama visit to UK in the summer of 2015 marred by NKT/ISC’s very loud and intrusive protests.
  2. Tibetans and Tibet supporters stage counter-protest outside KMC London in Morden on September 18th
  3. Tibetans and ex-NKT join forces to stage protest outside NKT’s Reading Centre on November 8th. Appeal made in speech to NKT to stop hurting Tibetans and stop working to China’s anti-Tibet agenda.
  4. 15th November: ISC make private announcement to their members that protests against the Dalai Lama will stop as of December 1st (Publicly rumoured at end of February)
  5. 13th December: Tibetans and ex-NKT protest outside NKT Brighton centre.
  6. 31st January: Tibetans and ex-NKT protest outside NKT Bristol Centre – extensive press coverage in Bristol Post.
  7. 10th February: Canadian Tibetans and ex-NKT stage protest outside Public Talk given by NKT’s Deputy Spiritual Director, Kelsang Khyenrab in Vancouver. Khyenrab is publicly confronted by Tibet supporter during his talk.
  8. 21st February: Tibetans and ex-NKT protest outside Southampton NKT Centre – coverage in Southampton Echo.
  9. 25th February: Tibetans and ex-NKT protest outside KMC Branch class in Putney given by Neil Elliott – considered the “power behind the throne” of Kelsang Gyatso, NKT and the ISC. Elliott publicly confronted and humiliated by Tibetans in the street outside the venue.
  10. 25th February: Public announcement that ISC have ceased demonstrations against the Dalai Lama and will disband as of 10th March. No explanation given.
  11. NKT members reaction: surprise, confusion, disbelief and declaration that it is because they have “won” and that if they need to they will regroup in the future.
  12. Anti-NKT demonstrations continue – 1st March: KMC London, Morden; 5th March: KMC Bloomsbury branch. More to follow.
  13. 28th February: Guardian newspaper announces dissolution of ISC, putting it down to Reuters confirmation that they are funded by the Chinese government and describing it as “a victory for real journalism”.

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ISC announcement as found on 12 March 2016. www.internationalshugdencommunity.com

ISC announcement as found on 12 March 2016. http://www.internationalshugdencommunity.com

Websites gone include

  • Dalailama Truth Facebook and Twitter
  • Western Shugden Society website
  • DalaiLamaNews website
  • InternationalShugdenCommunity website

The URLs remain active for these sites. In some cases, a short statement concerning the dissolution of the ISC and its media has replaced the content.

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Some Final Remarks

The NKT has been banned on Reddit – most of you might know – with rather dubious reasons. And when Stephen Pritchards of The Guardian writes “Then Reuters established beyond doubt the link between the International Shugden Community and the Chinese communist party. Collapse of protest – and a victory for real journalism.”, he is not really correct. Why?

Reuters established what other sources had already established, that China backs Shugden groups in India and Tibet; but Reuters did not establish that China backs financially the Western ISC which was founded and ran by the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT). However, some of the few Tibetans among the protesters have a clear link to China and to officials of the Chinese Communist Party. The merit of the Reuters investigative article is that it gave a rather holistic picture of the whole and ended the prevailing confusion of many international media about this tricky subject.

IMO, the whole international media coverage of the Shugden controversy is rather a testimony of the low quality and lack of expertise in religious matters of the media. It rather testfies that journalists and newspapers / media work and investigate under time pressure, and while lacking expertise, they have to hastily fill pages or broadcasts with interesting (attention catching) news – at the cost of sober and precise information. Their output in this context has very often left readers in confusion, ill informed and even misinformed up to that they offered their readers without further verifications (missing to contact academic experts), the propaganda of a media savvy campaigning group that has never shown any restraint from lying, distorting and manipulating information. The few well investigated articles can’t neutralise really the huge amount of ill informed press articles and documentaries that have been published over the last decades.

I hope this delusion has now an end and people can focus on relevant issues.

Last edited on March 12, 2016 at 12:57 pm

Updates

Sogyal Rinpoche & Rigpa – An interview with the former director of Rigpa France Olivier Raurich

Translation of an interview with the former director of Rigpa France Olivier Raurich which appeared in the French magazine “Marianne”¹

Q: When did you become interested in Buddhism and how did you encounter Sogyal Rinpoche?

I studied mathematics at l’ecole normale superieure (teacher training college) in the Rue d’Ulm, aiming to become a scientific researcher. At 24, I had an existential crisis leading to a spiritual quest. When I first discovered Buddhism, I really liked the idea of “verifying with your own experience.” At first, it wasn’t about belief, but getting benefit from meditation. I went to conferences and encountered Sogyal Rinpoche. He spoke English and something resonated.

Sogyal Rinpoche, 2008 Wikipedia Commons

Sogyal Rinpoche, 2008
Wikipedia Commons

After several years, he said that I am very hard-working and spoke very good English. I became his translator in France, without having any personal relationship with him, because Sogyal Rinpoche immediately imposes absolute dominance in relationships. He was the master, inaccessible and irritable — it’s all about carrying out his instructions, full stop.

Q: So you have been a privileged witness to his rise and the growing success of his organisation, Rigpa?

Over the years, I actually became increasingly active in Rigpa, as a meditation teacher and president of Rigpa France. I appeared several times on the television show “Buddhist Wisdom” on France 2.
At the same time I had my job teaching maths, because almost everyone is a volunteer in Rigpa, and the few salaried jobs there are very poorly paid. To make offerings in money and labour is part of Buddhism and it seemed great to me to offer service for free. Later I realised that under this pretext Westerners became veritable milk cows.

The big retreat centre, Lerab Ling, situated in L’Hérault, opened in 1992. The same year, “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” appeared. It was drafted by Patrick Gaffney, a brilliant and modest English scholar, and a man I greatly admire, from teachings given by Sogyal Rinpoche and other masters.

It became an international best-seller, and people flocked to Sogyal Rinpoche, who became a global Buddhist star. I was excited — I had the impression we were going to spread Buddhist wisdom throughout society.

Q: Considering his behaviour, especially with his closest disciples, did it ever shock you?

He’s a charismatic communicator, but what shocked me immediately was the disconnect between his rhetoric and his character. He loves luxury, fashion and violent American films. Ecology and social issues do not interest him at all. He is not at all shy about singing his own praises — to excess and in front of everyone. He stays in luxury hotels, surrounded by the most expensive electronic gadgets. I struggled to accept this behaviour, because at the same time some people in Rigpa were very poor. He preached that he had the same contentment, simplicity and renunciation in this life, without needing to practice. For a long time, I thought his behaviour it was related to cultural conditioning from his origins as a Tibetan aristocrat.

He blew hot and cold with me — sometimes he praised my translation to extremes – and sometimes he humiliated me in public. He was always very authoritarian. There were consistent rumours that he abused young women — not by physical violence, but by a huge psychological hold over them. This was officially justified by the concept of “crazy wisdom,” which maintains that great masters can commit acts which are incomprehensible to ordinary mortals.

This applies to everyone — “If the master humiliates you, it is to liberate the ego, to purify the disciples” and “There is no greater action than the will of the master” and so on … the traditional Tibetan texts are very clear on this point.

I was primarily interested in Buddhist teachings. I hosted internships and that side of things, with the team of instructors. We did a good job of spreading Buddhism. That’s what made me stay so long.

Q: How is it that Sogyal Rinpoche was not worried? Why has the Dalai Lama never reacted?

Several crises have occurred. There was the lawsuit for sexual harassment in 1993 in the United States. Subsequently, some former students have told their stories and a lot of people left Rigpa on those occasions, particularly in 2000 and 2007.

Then in 2011, an article appeared in “Marianne” — after this Sogyal Rinpoche decided not to appear at the meditation retreats for newcomers at Lerab Ling.

Many people left. Rigpa paid a very expensive professional agency in Paris, specialising in crisis communication, to train a few spokesmen, including myself, to respond to the allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse. We were advised not to answer questions, but rather to endlessly repeat certain key phrases – and to quote the Dalai Lama as much as possible for moral support.

Q: The Dalai Lama clearly says (in “Ethics in the Teacher-Student Relationship” , 1993; Healing Anger, Snow Lion, 1997 pp. 83-85) that the abusive behaviour of masters must be exposed publicly and explicitly. Why has he not reacted himself?

My hypothesis is that he cannot discredit Sogyal publicly, because it would undermine Tibetan Buddhism. Sogyal Rinpoche has managed to make himself indispensable in the Tibetan community.

Q: When did you start to have doubts?

I stayed all these years despite my reservations, because I hoped  Rigpa would be able to share profound wisdom with the greatest number of people, which would benefit society as a whole. But it became more and more difficult to invite people to his teachings, because his behaviour became impossible at times — pretentious, even in public. I had begun to write my first book, to illustrate how authentic Buddhist wisdom can be open to the world, adapted to the west, and conforming to humanist ideals.

Beginning with the article in “Marianne,” I felt the tension ratchet up a notch within the Rigpa leadership. All the secrecy and manipulation of information weighed heavily on me. I had come for teachings on humility, love, truth, and trust, and I found myself in a quasi-Stalinist environment and permanent double-talk. His dictatorial side and anger worsened and I was increasingly disturbed by it. He did not hesitate to brutally silence and ridicule people in meetings. Critical thinking is prohibited around him — the door is locked. Negative feedback never reaches him — only praise is reported because people in the close circle are afraid of him. It can make him angry or he would humiliate those close to him. He can also be friendly and full of humour if everything conforms to his wishes.

In the summer of 2014, during a retreat for the older students I made my decision to leave because I saw through him clearly — I saw his falsity. He demanded abundant offerings, specifically in cash, in front of 800 students. Each had to write their name on the envelope, so that he could check the amount.

There is also increasing control over regular students. They are made to feel guilty if they do not come to retreats. There is a lot of pressure — the Rigpa computer database identifies participants in retreats, practices, past meetings, etc. If a student does not attend, it must be justified – if a student leaves in the middle of a teaching, someone has to find them and ask why. This has driven a lot of people away.

Q: What is your assessment of that experience which lasted twenty-eight years?

The fact is that my spiritual education happened through him. Even though he didn’t write The Tibetan book of Living and Dying, he was it’s driving force. It is a very good book, it has helped thousands of people, even if it does contain some elements of Tibetan superstition.

I do not dismiss these years because I have studied, practised and shared meditation, the teaching of the spirit of compassion, the basis for Buddhist philosophy —  impermanence and interdependence. That’s why I asked Sogyal Rinpoche to write the preface for my first book. But for the last few years, he has insisted on more and more religiosity and absolute devotion to the master. Authentic Buddhism is wisdom, founded on experience and reflection, as explained frequently by the Dalai Lama, who embodies exemplary Buddhism.

Today, I have left behind the abusive or traditional aspects which are not adapted to our times. I participate in spreading a secular wisdom for the west in a collaborative and egalitarian manner, without gurus or magic charms, where everyone strives to embody what he preaches. I am finally at peace with myself.

Interview by Élodie Emery
English translation and edited in March 2016

¹ Bouddhisme : l’imposture Sogyal Rinpoché

See also

Dorje Tsering: Where We Failed Him

Dorje Tsering

»When a 16-year old Tibetan burns to death, it isn’t a noble sacrifice. It is suicide. My thoughts on self-immolations.« – Gelek Bhotay

»Finally, a thoughtful yet caring critique of Tibetan responses to immolations: @GelekB’s call to go beyond heroics.« – Robert Barnett

Drifts & Drafts

Dorje Tsering succumbed to his injuries on the third day of his stay in the hospital’s critical care unit.

He was 16 years old. He looked younger, much younger, than his age. In one of the more widely shared photos of his, on people’s Facebook posts and profile pictures, he is in a classroom. He is smiling, in a kindly way.

For most people, this is the only image with which they will identify with this young Tibetan boy in India: a sunny, cherubic face, nattily attired in his school uniform, caught as if in the midst of writing notes on his notebook. There is no sign or trace of the violent deed to come.

View original post 1,127 more words

When it is more than abuse – Experiences within the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)

By Peter Graham Dryburgh

The hurt and harm of spiritual abuse is rarely inflicted upon people with the intention to wound anyone.
– Major Scott Nicloy

When we think of abuse in the year 2016, we think of horrific, intentional acts that are set out by a perpetrator, whose simple intention is to violate, humiliate and control another person by whatever means possible – for they need this, they thrive on this to succeed in their role, it is a must, it is the core, the life essence of the perpetrator.

Sadly in this day and age, there is an unspoken danger, an abuse never mentioned, nor addressed by law no society in general, but we have passed new laws around psychological abuse in the UK (December 2015) to protect the oppressed, but it is still not recognised that within the realms of ‘spirituality’ that there is abuse, there is manipulation, there is control forced upon those who feel ‘devoted’ and (simply in my opinion), that this must change.

A number of years ago, I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as living with a condition called “Developmental Post traumatic Stress Disorder”, which is a culmination of many traumas in life to effect the mind, or the brain, and one of these contributors was most definitely ‘spiritual abuse’ at the hands of and the control of the ‘New Kadampa Tradition’, which cost me my home, my job and around £10,000 in debt, but most importantly, for a long time, it cost me my confidence and self esteem, my dignity and my heart.

When you give nothing but trust, you sometimes leave yourself vulnerable; however, when you are manipulated into this trust, and manipulated into believing that you are doing the right thing, it can leave you quite damaged.

I remember my first ever meeting with the NKT, it was nothing more than a simple meditation class in my locality, it was an interest I had. At that initial meeting I raised the question around their relationship with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and I was greeted at the next class by the ‘resident teacher’, not the course teacher, to eliminate my fears and concerns regarding their ‘tradition’ – which I now realise was their first lie, their first mis-truth, and sadly the road into ‘spiritual abuse’.

Everything seemed to happen so quickly for me, I was encouraged to leave an unhealthy relationship that I had been in for a number of years, give up my property, leave friends and family behind – all in the name of ‘seeking perfection’ and Dharma – I had had an interest in Buddhism for a number of years, but I grew up in fishing villages and islands on the Scottish coast, so accessing this spiritual path was jarred with obstacles, until I moved for employment reasons to Birmingham, and I had been presented with such an easy access. One might say that I should have been more cautious, one would think I may have spotted the signs, but I challenge this, because, with every form of abuse, the perpetrator ‘sugar coats’ the truth, it is given with false love and the offer of true friendship and a spiritual ‘brethren’, a family almost.

In general NKT centres are portrayed by the press uncritically as the World Peace Cafe Baltimore which has an article in the Baltimore Sun http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/dining/bs-fo-world-peace-cafe-20150929-story.html

In general NKT centres or their activities are portrayed by the press uncritically. For instance the World Peace Cafe Baltimore has an article in the Baltimore Sun or there are similar uncritical articles in the Daily Telegraph or The Guardian about retreats in the NKT.

So I started attending classes, moved into the centre, started paying for as much as I could in order to ‘gain merit’ on my road to enlightenment, which became the most important ‘mantra’ in those years, almost more important than spiritual prayers themselves, ‘gain merit, gain merit, gain merit’ is something that was taught so hard lined it became something I ate, slept and breathed for a long period of time.

When the NKT offered me the opportunity to become ‘ordained’, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I was never able to refuse – it had almost become a situation where my dreams had come true – and this is where the real abuse started, it was customary to give ‘interest free loans’, pay for building renovation, cars, statues and even the resident teacher to attend ‘festivals and empowerments’ in foreign countries (I recall paying so that someone could go to Germany for ‘Highest Yoga Tantra Empowerment’ and also being told that I may not achieve enlightenment for ‘eons’ as doing so left me unable to afford to go myself). Sadly the more I gave, the more it seemed never to be enough, there was always a need for something – I was never allowed to give up my job (which was not an issue as I loved helping others, and worked full time in an alcohol and drug treatment service) as I was the only person who brought money into the ‘Centre’ that was not based on fraudulent benefit claims by the other ordained staff there.

As time went on, my responsibilities matched my financial contribution; on times where I could afford to take out loans from my own bank, my responsibilities were great, and the respect I appeared to be shown matched this; on months where I had to pay back more to the bank than I could to the ‘centre’, I was almost shunned and kept to the side – but I did so ‘willingly’ as it meant I was balancing the negative karma from both this life and past lives, and who would not wish for this, especially in the road to enlightenment – which after the HYT empowerment, would only take 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days – yet I never gained this empowerment, as I always paid for others to do so, generating the karma to allow myself to do so one day. I began to despair, for only one reason – that I might never find enlightenment – that I might never be free from samsara and able to actually help other people? I think this is when my doubts begun to set in.

Kadampa-Joy

The life within the New Kadampa Tradition is advertised as being full of joy and full of peace and ease.
© New Kadampa Tradition Facebook Page

I began to realise that even working from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday to Friday outside of the centre, I would often be up til 2 a.m. working on the building, and up again at 5 a.m. to ‘get the shrine room (gompa) ready for the day, my weekends had become full of ‘cherishing the centre’ and I lost any friends (and was encouraged to do so as they were negative to the path) who were not connected to the NKT; it became my entire life, my world, my every waking and sleeping moment.

Meeting Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (GKG) was a special and rare occurrence, and when I did, he would simply laugh and tell me that any worries were due to negative karma, and to simply see these issues as purifying negative karma, to see them as wonderful opportunities on the road to enlightenment, so as I had become so engrossed in seeing GKG as my living Guru, and a living embodiment of the Buddha himself, then of course I would thank him and feel that I had done wrong by even questioning the ‘challenges and worries’ that I faced in daily centre life.

I used to welcome an NKT festival in Ulverston as it was almost a break, a holiday from responsibility. I was often challenged by ‘senior’ monks and nuns as I always missed the first session in the temple, morning meditation, as I used this for catching up with sleep – and frankly it was a delight to be able to shower and dress in peace away from the sometimes thousands of people who were there – it became my welcome break – and I think the beginning of realising that things were not right.

I started to worry when there were death threats made against GKG and security precautions were taken – such as bullet proof vests were being worn by monks under their robes – and we were asked if we would take a bullet for ‘Geshe-la’. This is when it became real to me, realising that it actually can’t be a safe place, a genuine place to be, so I hatched a plan to leave, which was filled with obstacles. It was almost similar to the film ‘The Running Man’ – and with every sexual based scandal the NKT was facing with all the corruption and money laundering that was evident, with benefit fraud, and exploitation of innocent people, you think it would be easy to walk away when you are faced with these dilemmas – but it isn’t, there is the huge guilt of ‘breaking away from the Guru’, there is the being ostracised by your community, friends and even teachers.

I made a decision to deliberately break my ‘ordination vows’ so that there was no way I could or would stay, and even that process wasn’t without challenges – I did nothing sinister, I simply masturbated to break my celibacy vow – thinking they would simply discard me for this – however, I was wrong, I was told to do the Sojong Practice and that was told it was a standard process, almost a ‘secret club’ that most monks would do this once a year, then renew their own vows at the ordination of others – I was even partnered with another monk who would talk to me about how ‘okay this was’ and told (and I quote) “we all do it”. The only thing that I had to change, was that I would have to do a month’s retreat and write a letter to GKG to apologise for doing this “without permission”.

© Carol McQuire: “Transform Your Life”

© Carol McQuire: “Transform Your Life”

So there is no celibacy in the NKT ordained community – and this is when my mind became so entrenched in absolute terror – but terror of remaining there – as I was assigned another monk to ‘help me’ in my celibacy – and this turned out to be that if I did not masturbate myself – it was okay, the expectation was to ‘help each other’ – not a comfortable concept – he now (K Cho) runs and manages a prominent centre in Rome, so my mind was made up!

I actually waited for the centre to ‘close’ for two weeks, and everyone went away to where they went to. I remained, and spoke with a student at the centre, and asked for her help. I lived in her cupboard for a number of week as I had nowhere else to go, I was not allowed to speak to anyone, and as I could not get transport I left my belongings there – of which I managed to fish some clothes and basics from a skip a few days later.

If I was to be asked what my biggest mistake was to date, it was picking up a copy of ‘Transform Your Life’ in a bookshop all those years ago – it did transform my life, but not in a good way, not by any means…

Posted originally on the New Kadampa Survivor Testimonies Facebook Page.

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More NKT survivors’ testimonies

The Secular vs. the Spiritual: Is India Squandering Its Top Export: The Buddha?

Secular values are the values that citizens share regardless of their religious differences; secular policies are policies to which citizens can be expected to give rational consent regardless of their religious commitments. – Jay Garfield

You might have read the quite harsh essay by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche on the Indian Huffington Post Blog, called “How India Is Squandering Its Top Export: The Buddha“. In that essay Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche essentially argues that India and Nepal should respect more deeply “their Buddhist heritage” and should deal with it in far better ways. Rinpoche called India’s and Nepal’s “lack of concern” to be “both a leadership failure and an endemic societal blindness.”

Jay Garfield wrote an intelligent reply, “In Defense of the Secular“, pointing out some issues in Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s essay. One of Jay Garfield’s points is that the usage of the word “secular” as a pejorative term as well as its contrasting with the “valorized spiritual” is a mistake because “it creates a pernicious duality between the secular and the spiritual that denigrates the civil society that is the best protection that a minority tradition like Buddhism could ever have.”

There are some other issues in the essay by Dongsar Khyentse Rinpoche that might need to be addressed or thought/discussed about. For instance, the demise of Buddhism in India. The demise of Buddhism in India is a complex issue as Thierry Dodin pointed out in an interview. One of Dodin’s points was that Buddhism in general is no form of religion that reaches out to the masses. “The Buddhist elites, whether in the Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana – all three were represented in Southeast Asia – care little about whether the people understand the teachings. Among the lay people, Buddhism has always been more addressed to educated and relatively wealthy people who had time and leisure to devote themselves to the great metaphysical questions – suffering, cessation of suffering, etc. For the masses it has tolerated traditional forms of religion as the prebuddhist spirit worship or even introduced Indian gods like Brahma or Ganesha that were tangible. Other religions – Islam, Hinduism and Christianity – are in many ways closer to the people: they give the people’s daily lives a structure and put the individual in a social system of coordinates.” (translation by me)

I have also strong reservations about Dongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s portrayal of China’s efforts with respect to Buddhism in such a positive light and that he is using China as a positive example to criticise India and Nepal while not spending a single word about the often questionable motivations of China’s engagement for Buddhism. The efforts of the Communist Party in China or the PRC in general to do something for Buddhism is mainly a means to control people and to exert soft power. (see for instance: “Seminar held to reinterpret Tibetan Buddhism to justify China’s policy in Tibet” by TibetanReview)

Did Geshe Kelsang Gyatso lie when he claimed that he didn’t receive teachings from H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama?

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) (or “Kadampa Buddhism” / “Modern Buddhism”), makes a big fuss about Guru Yoga, using this teaching to demand utmost obedience from his followers in the name of “Guru Devotion”. While he can’t accept non-obedience or criticism against his own person he put a lot of effort into initiating and running three world wide Anti-Dalai Lama campaigns, using his ill informed or misinformed western converts to attack the Dalai Lama as a “ruthless dictator”, “21st Century Buddhist Dictator”, “destroyer of the Buddhadharma”, “false Dalai Lama”, “saffron-robed Muslim” whose nature is “very cruel and evil”. (For the whys see here.)

When Kelsang Gyatso was expelled from his monastery in 1996, the expulsion letter of his monastery college Sera Je found his behaviour against the Dalai Lama unacceptable, especially because Kelsang Gyatso received both sutra and tantra teachings from H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama when he was in Tibet. The letter claimed that Kelsang Gyatso received the fifth Dalai Lama’s Lamrim Jampel Shalung at the Norbu Linka summer palace and the Kalachakra Initiation in 1956.

Having the Dalai Lama as one of his teachers and running international character assassination campaigns in the guise of “religious freedom” against his own teacher is a grave fault according to both, Sutra and Vajrayana teachings. It is also hypocritical by Kelsang Gyatso to demand utmost and rather slavish devotion from his own followers and abusing these followers to run a defamation campaign against one of his own teachers, the Dalai Lama. It is ridiculous to threaten his own followers to “break their guru devotion” if they dare to oppose him even respectfully – threatening them with countless rebirths in the hell realms – while he himself runs disrespectful smear campaigns against one of his own teachers who is widely considered to be a great Bodhisattva.

However, Kelsang Gyatso tried to escape the consequences of his own behaviour and the arguments pointing out his misbehaviour by claiming that he has never received teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama (see for instance this interview).

In a new YouTube video, Geshe Tashi Tsering of the Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London says he has evidence that Kelsang Gyatso “received many teachings from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, including Vajrayana teachings.” As an example Geshe Tashi Tsering mentions a teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Lama Tsongkhapa’s Nga Rim Chen Mo, The Great Exposition of the Path of Mantra. Geshe Tashi names two witnesses who are still alive, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin and Geshe Lobsang Tengye who are both of Kelsang Gyatso’s former monastery (Sera), his former college (Sera Je) and his former house (Tsangpa Khangtsen).

I think all NKT followers and ex-NKT alike can relax because there is nothing to be feared by leaving a teacher who does not live what he preaches, and who is – according to his own teachings – on the path to hell ;-)

Actual, it is virtuous and correct to leave a non-virtuous or abusive or misleading teacher because such a teacher will lead his students onto wrong paths.

Je Tsongkhapa citing the Ornament for the Essence said:

Distance yourself from Vajra Masters who are not keeping the three vows, who keep on with a root downfall, who are miserly with the Dharma, and who engage in actions that should be forsaken. Those who worship them go to hell and so on as a result. – Je Tsongkhapa in “Tantric Ethics: An Explanation of the Precepts for Buddhist Vajrayana Practice”, ISBN 0861712900, p. 46

However, following the 14th Dalai Lama’s advice to former NKT followers, “You should continue to regard him with respect …”

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Jamgong Kongtrul Lodro Thaye in “Buddhist Ethics” (Treasury of Knowledge), Snow Lion Publications:

Avoiding Contrary, Harmful Companions

8.1 Obstructions of a harmful friend

The harmful teacher is one of bad temperament, of little pure vision, great in dogmatism; he holds [his own view) as highest, praises himself, and denigrates others.

In general, the nonspiritual teacher (mi-dge-ba’i bshes-gnyen) is a lama, teacher (mkhan-slob), dharma brother [or sister] (grogs-mched), and so forth—all those who are attached to the phenomena (snang) of this life, and who get involved in unvirtuous activity. Therefore, one must abandon the nonspiritual friend. In particular, although they have the manner of goodness in appearance, they cause you to be obstructed in your liberation.

The nonspiritual teacher has a bad temperament, little pure vision (dag-snang), is very dogmatic (phyogs-ris), holds as highest his view (lta-ba) as the only dharma, praises himself, slanders others, implicitly denigrates and rejects others’ systems (lugs) of dharma, and slanders the lama—the true wisdom teacher—who bears the burden of benefiting others. If you associate with those who are of this type, then, because one follows and gets accustomed to the nonspiritual teacher and his approach, his faults stain you by extension, and your mindstream (rgyud) gradually becomes negative. Illustrating this point, it has been said in the Vinaya Scripture:

A fish in front of a person is rotting and is tightly wrapped with kusha grass. If that [package] is not moved for a long time, the kusha itself also becomes like that. Like that [kusha grass], by following the sinful teacher, you will always become like him.

Therefore, as it has been said in The Sutra of the True Dharma of Clear Recollection (mDo dran-pa nyer-bzhag; Saddharmanusmriti-upasthana):

As the chief among the obstructors (bar-du gcod-pa) of all virtuous qualities is the sinful teacher, one should abandon being associated with him, speaking with him, or even being touched by his shadow.

In every aspect one should be diligent in rejecting the sinful teacher.

Reuters’ Special Report about the Shugden controversy and the joint effort of China’s Communist Party & the New Kadampa Tradition to discredit the Dalai Lama

Here is the new special report by Reuters, “China co-opts a Buddhist sect in global effort to smear Dalai Lama“, about the globalized Dorje Shugden controversy and how the Shugden movement gets “clandestine support from [China’s] Communist Party.” Reuters: “Their joint campaign to discredit the Tibetan spiritual leader is paying off, especially in Britain.”

Reuters’ investigation is part four of Reuters investigates “The Long Arm of China”. The detailed and thorough journalistic analysis by Reuters includes an investigation of the background of the Shugden controversy, “The politics of Tibet’s poisonous religious divide“.

See also

Update

Last edited on Dec 26, 2015

The psychological pitfalls of integrating an Eastern spirituality into a modern Western context. (Spiritual by-passing)

By Coline R. Moore

(This was originally written as an essay submitted for a counselling qualification and thus is a bit academic – however some people might find it useful.)

The disciple is unworthy; modestly he sits at the Master’s feet and guards against having ideas of his own. Mental laziness becomes a virtue; one can at least bask in the sun of a semi-divine being. He can enjoy the archaism and infantilism of his unconscious fantasies without loss to himself, for all responsibility is laid at the Master’s door. – C.G. Jung

A striking expression, with the aid of a small amount of truth, can surprise us into accepting a falsehood. – Vauvenargues

Cult thinking doesn’t just exist in cults. It exists in schools, companies and idealistic organisations – wherever emotional need (which is universal) meets two cc’s of charisma. Some families are mini-cults, where an all powerful father binds his children emotionally by dealing out love with the one hand, and abuse with the other – from ex-premie website.

It seems to me that people aspiring to practise Buddhism sometimes fail to progress and create further difficulty for themselves and others because of trying to be “good Buddhists”. This is exacerbated if there is a premature identification with “non-self” (‘anatta’ – a central tenet of Buddhism) and spiritual realisation, effectively (and at least temporarily) foreclosing movement towards a fully embodied realisation of potential. As an undergraduate psychology student in the late seventies I was familiar with Jung’s caution against adopting wholesale Eastern spirituality:

… it is sad indeed when the European departs from his own nature and imitates the East or “affects” it in any way. The possibilities open to him would be so much greater if he would remain true to himself and evolve out of his own nature (my emphasis) all that the East has brought forth. (Jung, C.G. 1962 p 85-86)

Perhaps Jung was not arguing for an outright rejection of Eastern spirituality so much as for a genuine emergence of spirituality out of authentic existential dilemmas. But what were the dangers that Jung was alluding to?

“Western consciousness … has been uprooted from the unconscious and the latter is suppressed. In the East, the unconscious is manifest in experience, and in that context it is appropriate to seek to control the influence of the passions by detaching from them. In the West, a similar path can lead to a further and undesirable suppression: “ … since one cannot detach oneself from something of which one is unconscious, the European must first learn to know his subject (the unconscious).” (Jung 1978, p83) The initial task is thus to assimilate unconscious contents into consciousness and, only then, to seek an emancipation from them … It is premature to seek liberation from something we have no contact with; one cannot set down something one does not know one is carrying. To attempt to do so is to foster an even greater separation rather than a movement toward wholeness …” (Ray 1996 p.26)

498887main_Fermi_bubble_art_no_labels

(c) NASA

To know one’s subject from a person centred viewpoint involves knowing when values are “introjected or taken over from others, but perceived in distorted fashion, as if they had been experienced directly.” (Merry 2002, p 35) and knowing when experiences are “… ignored because there is no perceived relationship to the self-structure (and) denied symbolization or given a distorted symbolization because the experience is inconsistent with the structure of the self.” (ibid)

Even when behaviour is brought about by organic experiences and needs it may be that “the behaviour is not ‘owned’ by the individual.”

(ibid p36) Thus … “Psychological maladjustment exists when the organism denies to awareness significant sensory and visceral experiences, which consequently are not symbolized and organized into the gestalt of the self-structure. When this situation exists, there is a basic or potential psychological tension.” (ibid)

Of course since Jung was speaking his assertions have been extensively challenged and developed and Eastern spirituality has entered the collective consciousness. Nevertheless the post modern spiritual landscape is a complicated one due both to the plethora of therapies and counselling styles let alone conceptions of self (Brazier 1993 p82-83).

Carl Rogers “viewed the self … as a fluid structure, subject to change and revision, rather than something fixed at a particular point. This is consistent with Rogers’ entire attitude towards the person as being in process throughout life. In other words, the self is not an entity; rather, it is a constellation of perceptions and experiences, together with the values attached to those perceptions and experiences.” (Merry 2002 p33)

This idea of anatta or “no self” in Buddhism has given rise to a great deal of confusion and difficulty amongst Western practitioners and teachers of Buddhism and therapists or counsellors who wish to incorporate Buddhist ideas.

In the Buddhist world there is a distinction between “… the mere self, the transactional self which functions conventionally in the world, and an absolute or essential self, a fictitious self, which is to be denied.” (Watson 2000, p31) According to this view the self “is an illusion; it is the imposition of a container self with attributes of independence and permanence upon the foundations of the conventional or transactional self of ever-changing mind states.” (ibid p33)

According to her a modern psychological understanding of the development of self in the individual mirrors the process in the species as a whole so that “… bodily awareness comes first. This is followed by representation of one’s own physical state; a move from self monitoring to self-awareness, which leads to the imputation of a self within a system. Once this imputation is symbolised within language it is reinforced and reified by social structures and value systems of the cultural sphere. Self-image as process retaining a connectedness with the environment, gives way to a self-concept which becomes increasingly solid and autonomous” (ibid.)

(c) NASA Pluto's Blue Sky

(c) NASA Pluto’s Blue Sky

But what happens if there were a shift away from the self concept towards the organismic self? What qualities might a fully functioning person exhibit? Merry, summarising Rogers, claims such a person would

… Be open to experience. Exhibit no defensiveness. Be able to interpret experience accurately. Have a flexible rather than static self-concept open to change through experience. Trust in … her own experiencing process and develop values in accordance with that experience. Have no conditions of worth and experience unconditional self-regard. Be able to respond to new experiences openly. Be guided by … her own valuing process through being fully aware of all experience, without the need for denial or distortion of any of it. Be open to feedback from … her environment and make realistic changes resulting from that feedback. Live in harmony with others and experience the rewards of mutual positive regard.” (Merry 2002, p40)

Similar qualities seem to emerge, according to psychologist Guy Claxton, when the ‘self-system’ is switched off, as it is, he suggests, in mystical experiences. Basing his ideas on the writings of a number of mystics and psychologists including William James and Jung, he claims that in such states the brain-mind’s “intrinsic ability to harmonise and prioritise would be freed from the demands and vetoes of the SS (self system), dissipating the sense of stuckness, and re-establishing a sense of flow … the sheer weight of needs, threats and preoccupations would drop dramatically … the disqualified senses of connectedness and belonging would be immediately rehabilitated, and the inhibited priorities of compassion and care would be released to take their place … the sense of loss of self … and of impenetrable (but trustworthy) mystery at the core of experience, arises … when the SS is disabled, so too are all its defensive inhibitions and evasions.” Claxton 2000, p 108-9

However traditional Eastern societies “provided a religious context that honoured and supported spiritual retreat, and placed little or no emphasis on the development of the individual.” (Welwood 2000 p140)

Unfortunately in their zeal many Westerners have imitated the traditional model and “pursuing impersonal realisation while neglecting their personal life … have found in the end that this was like wearing a suit of clothes that didn’t quite fit.” (ibid)

Welwood suggests that “though industrial society has alleviated many of the grosser forms of physical pain, it has also created difficult kinds of personal and social fragmentation that were unknown in premodern society – generating a new kind of psychological suffering that has led to the development of modern psychotherapy.” (ibid p144)

Without wishing to idealise Eastern cultures, he explains that “in giving priority to the welfare of the collective, Asian societies also did not foster the division between self and other, individual and society, that is endemic to the Western mind. There was neither a generation gap nor the pervasive social alienation that has become a hallmark of modern life.” He explains how early childrearing practices combined a positive regard with sustained early mother-child bonding and worked with the collective responsibility to produce a strong self esteem together with a strong psychological foundation to the self, qualities which by contrast are often lacking in the West. The more pervasive extended family exposed children to a wide variety of role models and sources of nurturance which create an ego structure whose boundaries were more flexible, permeable and less strongly defined than in the West. This automatically prevented the kind of narcissistic injuring and intense reactivity that often occurs in nuclear families. (ibid)

In sum Welwood suggests that “the traditional Asian family seems to foster more of an inner core of well-being than the modern Western family does, by providing more of what Winnicott describes as the two essential elements of parenting in early childhood: sustained emotional bonding and allowing the child to be, to rest in unstructured being.” (ibid p147)

Because the context in which Eastern spiritual practices arose is usually so different to what prevails in the West today it behoves Western practitioners and teachers of Buddhism to be as psychologically astute as they can be. Welwood suggests that the founders of these traditions never contemplated the host of issues that beset the practitioner today especially outside of the monastic tradition. (ibid 2000 p138) He makes a distinction between realisation and actualisation, the former being a direct experiential realisation of “one’s own true nature beyond the conventional ego” (the initial goal of Buddhist practices) whereas “actualisation refers to how we live that realisation in all the situations of our life.” (ibid p139) He suggests that “psychological work might serve as an ally to spiritual practice – by helping to bring an awareness into all the hidden nooks and crannies of our conditioned personality, so that it becomes more porous, more permeable to the larger being that is its ground.” (ibid p140)

Indeed he suggests that “expressing absolute true nature in a thoroughly personal, human form may be one of the most important evolutionary potentials of the cross-fertilisation of East and West, of contemplative and psychological understanding. The great potential in bringing these approaches together is to learn how to transform our personality … thus redeeming the whole personal realm, instead of just seeking liberation from it.” (ibid p166)

To fail to bring this psychological awareness to the task in hand is to invite various distortions and difficulties no matter how great a spiritual realisation one may have had because at some point practitioners again “… encounter circumstances that trigger their emotional reactivity, their unresolved psychological issues, their habitual tensions and defences, or subconscious identifications …” (ibid p139)

Welwood has coined the term ‘spiritual bypassing’ to describe “the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep personal, emotional’ unfinished business’, to shore up a shaky sense of self, or to belittle basic needs, feelings and developmental tasks in the name of enlightenment.” (ibid p150) and he warns that even those “who develop a high degree of spiritual insight power, even brilliance, may still remain consistently blind to islands of darkness and self-deception in themselves. They may even unconsciously use their spiritual powers to reinforce old defences and manipulative ways of relating to others.” (ibid p139)

The teacher in these contexts needs not only to be aware of his own capacity for such distortions but also that of the student or client. Issues around transference and counter transference further complicate the matter. Buddhist teachers have no supervision for their work despite it frequently containing counselling or psychotherapeutic elements. Some may rely on their own teachers for supervision but others simply rely on an informal network or ‘sangha’ for balances and checks. In recent years, after many disastrous episodes in Buddhist centres ethical guidelines already present within Buddhism have been refined to make them appropriate to the role of teacher. Although breaches of trust have occurred in other areas it is within the sexual field that difficulties have most often occurred. In these new guidelines teachers …

a) “agree to avoid creating harm through sexuality and to avoid sexual exploitation or adultery … not to use their teaching role to exploit their authority and position in order to assume a sexual relationship with a student.

b) If a genuine and committed relationship interest develops … between an unmarried teacher and former student, the student must … be under the guidance of another teacher. A minimum … of three months … from the last formal teaching between them, and a clear understanding … that the student-teacher relationship has ended must be coupled with a … commitment to enter into a relationship that brings no harm …” (Kornfield 1993)

The new BACP ethical framework requires a counsellor to be in regular supervision – a notable difference to the ethical guidelines adopted by most Buddhist communities. Otherwise the guidelines are similar: “Practitioners must not abuse their client’s trust to gain sexual … or any other kind of personal advantage. Sexual relations with clients are prohibited.” (www.bacp.co.uk 2004)

One would hope that both teachers of Buddhism and counsellors in a Buddhist context would be sufficiently psychologically astute to recognise their own shortcomings and areas of difficulty so that unnecessary suffering is avoided. Supervision of Buddhist teachers would seem to be desirable given the various ways in which Buddhist teachings and practices have been misunderstood and misused by some Westerners and given the difficulties of adopting spiritual teachings within a Western context without a complementary psychological awareness. The ethical guidelines mentioned above offer some safety for clients and students alike but awareness of the issues would appear to offer the best security.

Colin Moore April 2004
Check my website for more details www.clearlightmind.co.uk

Bibliography

Jung.C.G (1962), Commentary on ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower’. R.Wilhelm (trans) Routledge, London

Ray C, (1996), Western Psychology and Buddhist Teachings : Convergences and Divergences in Beyond Therapy, Guy Claxton Ed., Prism Press, Dorset

Merry, T (2002), Learning and Being in Person Centred Counselling, PCCS Books, Ross on Wye

Brazier, D (1993), The Necessary Condition is Love: going beyond self in the person-centred approach in Beyond Carl Rogers, Brazier, D. (Ed) Constable, London

Carl Rogers (1980), A Way of Being –found in www.bryant-jefferies.freeserve.co.uk/counspir.htm )

Jinpa, G.T (2000), The Foundations of a Buddhist Psychology of Awakening, in The Psychology of Awakening, Watson, Batchelor and Claxton (Eds) Weiser inc. York Beach USA

Rogers, C.R. (1961), On Becoming a Person, Constable, London

Watson, G (2000), I, Mine and Views of the Self, in The Psychology of Awakening, Watson, Batchelor and Claxton (Eds), Weiser inc. York Beach USA

Claxton, G (2000), Neurotheology: Buddhism, Cognitive science and Mystical Experience, in The Psychology of Awakening, Watson, Batchelor and Claxton (Eds), Weiser inc. York Beach USA

Brazier, D (2000), Buddhist Psychotherapy or Buddhism as Psychotherapy, in The Psychology of Awakening, Watson, Batchelor and Claxton (Eds), Weiser inc. York Beach USA

Welwood,J (2000), Realisation and Embodiment: Psychological Work in the Service of Spiritual Development, in The Psychology of Awakening, Watson, Batchelor and Claxton (Eds), Weiser inc. York Beach USA

Kornfield, J, (1993) A Path with Heart: A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, Bantam, New York

ethical framework for good practice in counselling and psychotherapy (2004) www.bacp.co.uk

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Who needs facts when we have the Internet?

Guest Post by Sandy Clarke

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal. There are those who do not realise that one day we all must die. But those who do realise this settle their quarrels. – The Dhammapada

So bizarre do I find the notion that I’m behind the ‘Indy Hack’ persona that I struggle to know where to begin in presenting this guest blog. I’m grateful to Tenzin Peljor for providing me the opportunity to offer some of my thoughts on the issue, and to give insights into my brief experiences with Tsem Rinpoche and his Kechara organisation.

From the outset, I wish to say that I’m reluctant to write about either issue: as some on both sides of the argument will know all too well, there are always enough people to fuel the fire. Progress towards an amiable conclusion is a rare gem to be found as controversial discussions evolve and heels are dug deeper into the ground. I’m also keen to avoid dishing out unnecessary criticism. My thoughts here reflect my experiences, and in no way attempt to define any organisation or person in their entirety. I don’t say this out of any fear of retribution or criticism; rather, I say it simply because I don’t know enough to make such judgements or assessments.

Recently, I was mentioned in a (now deleted) tweet by someone who asserted that I was Indy Hack. Prior to this tweet, I had never heard of the Indy Hack persona. According to the Indy Hack Twitter account, the person(s) is apparently from the UK and a journalist, but that’s where the similarities end with regard to the tenuous linking of us both by people who seem eager to jump to wayward conclusions.

Needless to say I don’t know of any affiliations Indy Hack may or may not have to Buddhist organisations or individuals, but some have offered up the idea that I work for Tsem Rinpoche and am attempting to smear the Dalai Lama and his supporters in relation to the Shugden controversy. As someone who tries his best to practice Buddhist principles, it seems to me rather un-Buddhist to smear or be aggressive towards anyone – I can’t imagine any circumstance which would lead me to be a part of – let alone run – such a campaign.

Further, I have very little idea of what the Shugden controversy is, and have even less interest in finding out more beyond what I do know. From my experience as a political journalist, I’m all too aware that debates, in which views and feelings are deep-rooted, rarely come to a conclusion in a short while: an extra voice is often a hindrance more than a help. Suffice it to say, my knowledge of the Shugden issue is negligible. I can no more explain the basics of the matter than I can Quantum Theory.

It’s true that I was, for between two-to-three years, assisting Kechara with some writing and editing work on a freelance basis. I randomly discovered Tsem Rinpoche around seven years ago while watching some videos on Tibetan Buddhism on YouTube and I was, as many others have been, intrigued by his character and charisma, and so I got in touch to see if I could offer my services in any way.

It’s also true that I became captivated by Tsem Rinpoche and his organisation, despite thinking at the time that I was too clever to be caught up in such nonsense. I even wrote embarrassingly gushing and saccharine tributes to Tsem Rinpoche (to save you the hassle of looking, one letter can be found here and a verse can be viewed here). These are examples of how easy it is to get caught up in a romanticised ideal, rather than producing anything of worth based on rational thought and reason. I don’t make any comment on Tsem Rinpoche’s character here – I merely admit a foolishness that can arise from being enthralled by a rose-tinted interpretation of personality.

I disassociated myself from Kechara after a few concerns became one too many. To a degree, I remained sceptical throughout, finding the ritualistic, superstitious aspects of the organisation a bit too fantastical for my tastes. I also disagreed with the “one lama one centre” policy that discouraged associates to seek teachings elsewhere.

There were two occasions that bolstered my decision to disassociate myself from Kechara. On the first occasion, I was told a story by an e-Division member that a disciple of Tsem Rinpoche’s was told to sell 108 Tsongkhapa statues in order to get rid of some heavy karma. She apparently failed to meet this target and died of cancer some months later.

On the second occasion, a personal assistant to Tsem Rinpoche at the time advised me that I could have my karma cleansed by monks during a special ceremony at Ganden monastery … for the small sum of £1500. Even as someone who was captivated by the teachings of Tsem Rinpoche, this leapt out along with the story about the student as being, quite frankly, bonkers. It was at this point that I realised Kechara was definitely not the place for me.

There are other incidents that gave rise to concern, but I trust these examples give a flavour of why I came to have my reservations. The organisation certainly seemed to be keen on welcoming new people into the fold. I was sent a box of gifts to my home in Scotland (including a statue of Tsongkhapa, with whom I apparently (paraphrase) “shared a strong affinity”), and a number of the Kechara members were extremely friendly and welcoming. There was lots of talk of “bringing people into the Dharma” which, although I found strange considering the Buddha seems to have discouraged evangelism, I dismissed at the time as being par for the course at Kechara. I was quite happy to help with the transcription, editing, and writing of publication material (for which I was paid), but I wouldn’t say I ever felt part of the Kechara organisation to the extent others clearly were.

The last correspondence I had with Tsem Rinpoche was via Facebook. We had what I thought to be an engaging debate on vegetarianism in relation to animal suffering. As in the famous Kalama sutra, Buddha strongly encouraged free inquiry and the questioning of scriptures, assumptions and even teachers. As Kechara members leapt to the defence of Tsem Rinpoche (as though he needed it), I was asked who I was to question his views, or comment on the Buddha’s teachings when I am nowhere near the same level of attainment. It’s perhaps at this point the last of my naivety in relation to Kechara fell away.

This last communication was around five years ago. I haven’t been in touch with Tsem Rinpoche since then, nor have I had any dealings with Kechara except for one email I received out the blue recently, offering me freelance work. I politely declined. It would appear that some people have been keeping tabs on what I’ve been up to (which feels weird), and so perhaps my work with a management consultancy firm in KL, Malaysia inspired the idea that I’d be keen to make a reconnection. Needless to say, I have no desire to do so.

I’ve been told – though I’ve been unable to verify as yet – that there may have been posts published recently relating to Tsem Rinpoche, written in my name. If such posts exist, critical or otherwise, for the record, I haven’t written anything for or about Tsem Rinpoche or Kechara since my last communication with him five years ago, nor do I intend to write anything along those lines in future.

I also noticed that a commentator on Tenzin Peljor’s blog appears to have suggested that a member of Kechara’s e-Division has offered rumours implying that I am behind the Indy Hack persona (though I appreciate I may have misinterpreted the comment). However, if it is the case, I have no idea why anyone would spread such a rumour, and would be disappointed to think it started from a Buddhist organisation. Again, it could easily be that I’ve completely misinterpreted the comment.

That I found myself to be involved in a weak conspiracy theory left me bemused; that the person(s) behind Indy Hack has caused some people some grief is upsetting, though I suppose he or she would argue that the people they’re “exposing” are the ones causing the grief. I have contacted one other person besides Tenzin Peljor with regard to this issue, namely Carol McQuire – both of whom I found after reading through a couple of blog posts, and tweets from the Indy Hack account. The reason I point this out is to, hopefully, avoid any assertions that I am, in fact, in the Dalai Lama’s employ, or that of MI5 or Mossad or whoever – my life is much too mundane to be part of some spiritual vigilantism, misguided or otherwise. I’ve perhaps inadvertently written a controversial line on politics, HR or business, but that’s as far as it goes.

For the past five years, I have been inspired by and attempting to follow Theravada Buddhism, discovering that the teachings of Ajahn Mun and Ajahn Chah resonate most with my understanding and appreciation of Buddhism. After my dealings with Kechara, I decided to take the revolutionary step of actually reading the teachings of the Buddha, to take my lead from the source. It can be, in my experience, easy to forget that even the most charismatic modern-day spiritual teachers are flawed beings. To accept any idea without question is silly – to accept everything without question is to actively engage in serfdom.

On a person note, I find it sad that there is so much politics within what is supposed to be a religion of peaceful spiritual practice. It seems easy enough to read verses of, say, The Dhammapada, but much more difficult to heed its advice and warnings. Online aggression and bullying – regardless of where it comes from – is entirely disheartening, and doubly so when much of it is carried out anonymously. It’s sad to see that we’ve reached the point where we forget there are people on the other side, with stories, thoughts, feelings and emotions just like ourselves. Were it not for his equanimity and wisdom, I suspect the Buddha would feel like banging his head against the wall, given that we so often we miss the point of his teachings.

I’d like to thank Tenzin Peljor once again for providing me with a platform to express these thoughts. I don’t intend to write any further on the subject, and I apologise to anyone who may have been offended by anything I have written. As I mentioned earlier, my thoughts are based on the limited experience I have had with Kechara, and I stress again that I don’t know nearly enough about the organisation, Tsem Rinpoche, or the Indy Hack persona to make a bona fide judgement. I’m able only to share some of the experiences I’ve had, and why I disassociated myself from the organisation.

On a final note, perhaps an idea for us all to consider is to check the facts before reaching what we feel to be substantial conclusions. There have been, again on both sides, some ugly, needless criticisms levied at individuals – this isn’t the ideal way to behave, though I should thank the person who said all I brought to the table was an NUJ membership, bad poetry and banalities – a good lesson on ego was provided! A slight correction is in order though: I no longer bring an NUJ membership to the table.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s »Modern Buddhism« – Who are the Kadampas? – Geshe Tashi clears the distortion of four Kadampa deities

This is part 3 of many to follow. Geshe Tashi Tsering explains what Kadampa is and what the four Kadampa deities are which Kelsang Gyatso distorted, replacing Miyowa with Shugden.
These videos are aimed as an education for the general public particularly for those “supposed Buddhist ordained monks and nuns of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)”.

Part One: Geshe Tashi explains Buddhist ordination rite

Part Two: Geshe Tashi challenges NKT Buddhist ordination rite

Why Buddhist men shouldn’t be ordained

There are a lot of strange reasons by some Buddhist male monastics why women are not really suitable for ordination. Bhante Sujato finds similar reasons why men shouldn’t be ordained.

Sujato’s Blog

Just because I can’t resist.

10. A man’s place is in the workforce, where he can earn money to donate to nuns.

9. Mens’ avoidant and primitive ways of communicating and dealing with emotions make them unsuitable for community living.

8. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to pursue a spiritual calling. Indeed, the broad shoulders and “top-heavy” physique of “real men” can cause them to topple over in meditation. This creates a crashing noise that distracts the women, whose “pear-shaped” bodies have clearly evolved for sitting still for long periods of time.

7. Studies have shown that men are more violent and more promiscuous than women. In addition, men drink more. They therefore have stronger unwholesome roots of greed, hatred, and delusion due to their bad kamma…

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The Special Teacher Training Programme in Kadampa Buddhism (STTP) – Student Agreement

Here is a document the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) asked their students to sign after they had enrolled for the “Special Teacher Training Programme in Kadampa Buddhism (STTP)” at the Kadampa Meditation Centre London. The students of the STTP were confronted with this legal agreement, that has far reaching consequences, after they had studied for 18 months – halfway through the programme – in November 2015.

The SSTP was initially designed for six months, offered at NKT’s main centre, Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre, and was set up in 2013.

The term STTP is nowadays exclusively applied to a 3 year study program under Kadam Neil Elliott at Kadampa Meditation Centre London. The first three year STTP at KMC London started in May 2014.

(For details & documents see: Special Teacher Training Programme (STTP))

For any person interested in the STTP it would be only fair to be informed of this legal agreement before subscribing to the STTP so that anybody interested in the STTP can make an informed decision. For your information, here is the legal agreement:

Special Teacher Training Programme
Student Agreement

Dear (name and address removed for privacy reasons)

NKT Proprietary Rights

As you will be aware, we, New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT), publicly promote and support the development of Kadampa Buddhism and Kadampa Buddhist centres throughout the world. Protection of the purity and integrity of the lineage and spiritual tradition of the NKT is essential for the benefit of all future generations. Therefore NKT permits you to attend its Special Teacher Training Programme (STTP) and access the STTP-related training materials, including all spiritual works, teaching programme, audio recordings, documents, discs, information data and any other material whether in oral, electronic or written form and howsoever recorded (the Training Materials), subject to the terms of this letter agreement.

NKT Intellectual Property Rights

  1. You hereby acknowledge that all intellectual property rights of whatsoever nature (including without limitation copyrights, design rights, trade marks and know-how) in the Training Materials belong and shall belong to NKT absolutely. You shall have no rights in or to the Training Materials other than the right to use them for your own personal, non-commercial use (the Permitted Purpose).
  1. You undertake not to offer for sale, sell, distribute over any medium, or in any way commercially exploit any part of the Training Materials.
  1. You undertake not to obscure, remove or amend any copyright or other proprietary notice of NKT included on or in the Training Materials.
  1. You acknowledge that you have no right (and shall not permit any third party) to copy, reproduce, publish, modify, adapt or make error corrections to the Training Materials, in whole or in part in any form.

Confidentiality

  1. Information contained in the Training Materials is confidential to NKT. You agree to keep all the Training Materials confidential and not to use the Training Materials for any purpose other than the Permitted Purpose.
  1. You shall treat and safeguard all the Training Materials as strictly private and confidential and take all steps and precautions necessary to preserve such confidentiality.
  1. You shall not at any time without the prior written consent of the NKT disclose any of the Training Materials to any third party.
  1. You shall immediately notify NKT in the event that you become aware that any Training Materials (or part of them) have been disclosed or are in the possession of any person otherwise than as permitted by the terms of this letter agreement.

General

  1. You acknowledge that the Training Materials have not been prepared to meet your individual requirements and NKT does not guarantee that the Training Materials alone will be adequate for your needs. To the extent permitted by law, NKT shall have no liability whatsoever for your interpretation or use of any information contained in the Training Material.
  1. You acknowledge that the intellectual property rights and information contained in the Training Materials are valuable and that:

a. NKT may take legal proceedings against you or third parties if there is any actual threatened or suspected breach of any intellectual property rights or of this letter agreement; and

b. damages may not be an adequate remedy for any breach and NKT may seek an injunction or any other remedy equitable or otherwise.

  1. You agree that because the STTP is a teacher training programme in Kadampa Buddhism, if at any time you wish to teach the material received on the programme you must receive the prior written permission of the Education Council of the NKT (which may be given or withheld in its absolute discretion).
  1. If you offer for sale, sell, distribute, commercially exploit, reproduce, copy, publish, modify, adapt or disclose any part of the Training Materials in contravention of the terms of this letter agreement, your right to use the Training Materials will end immediately and you shall immediately destroy and permanently erase the Training Materials (and all copies thereof).
  1. If you do not comply with these terms and we do not take action immediately, this does not mean that we are giving up any rights that we may have (such as taking action in the future).
  1. Should any provision (in whole or in part) of this letter agreement be void or voidable, such provision (or part of it) shall not prejudice the remaining terms of this letter agreement.
  1. This letter agreement and any non-contractual obligations arising out of or in relation to this letter agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and the parties hereby submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts in relation to all matters arising out of or in connection with this letter agreement.

*        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *        *

I have read,  understood and fully agree to the above.

Signature: ………………………………………………………………………………………. Printed

Full Name: ………………………………………………………………..

Date: ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

See also

Updated: Nov 28, 2015

The fallacies of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) ordination rite

Here you can listen to an explanation by Geshe Tashi Tsering from the Jamyang Buddhist Centre in London who explains what went wrong with the NKT Buddhist ordination system and how Kelsang Gyatso misinterpreted the teachings of Tsongkhapa and Atisha regarding ordination.

In the next video you can listen to an explanation by Geshe Tashi Tsering where he explains the Buddhist ordination rite for the general public particularly for the people in NKT under Kelsang Gyatso. The video aims to educate people to judge for themselves whether they have received actual Buddhist ordination according to the Vinaya by the Buddha or not. The Australian Sangha Association (ASA) and the German Buddhist Monastic Association (DBO) released also statements regarding the NKT ordination.

I very much appreciate the effort and compassion of Venerable Geshe Tashi Tsering to explore this topic for the general public. However, Geshe Tashi errs here when he says that he thinks that there are two intact ordination lineages. There are at least three ordination lineages which are still intact: 1) Theravada, 2) Dharmagupta and 3) Mulasarvastavadin.

This blog has covered the topic of NKT ordination right from the start in 2008:

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