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.


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.


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

The New Ordination Handbook of the New Kadampa Tradition


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Further Readings


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

First hand account of an ex NKT follower of being in the 2008 demonstrations against HH the Dalai Lama

Even with the start of 2016 you will still find strong claims of denial by NKT activists that the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is behind the protests against the Dalai Lama although plenty of evidence has proven this fact. (For a detailed discussion see here.) I was thinking to repost the following account that was written in 2009. When I remember correctly it was posted in the Yahoo New Kadampa Survivors forum founded by David Cutshaw. The Facebook group New Kadampa Survivor Activists made this report public and stated: “We have been asked by the author to keep his/her identity secret so you may wish to ignore everything on that basis. People are wary of the NKT to the extent of thinking that they need anonymity.”

The people that used to run the WSS [Western Shugden Society] website were two people called Kelsang Chokyi and Kelsang Sudhana. They ran the website from a back room behind the NKT internet offices. Lucy and Nick were heavily involved. Sudhana and Karla Hessian (maybe spelled that wrong but she is EPC [Education Program Coordinator] of NY) used to do the videoing at the demonstrations, and these are the videos you see on the WSS website. However, they were very careful that they only allowed people to discuss the demonstrations as WSS and not NKT. The demonstrations were organised by NKT people (e.g. Neil Elliott etc.) and security was organised by the NKT (Kelsang Khyentse, Michel Gautier and other security people) On the day passes were issued to people by the NKT (although using a different logo which apparently represents the WSS) All bus stewards and demo stewards were organised by the NKT and were members of the NKT. Banners and placards were also produced and stored by members of the NKT.


Photo from the 2008 NKT/WSS protests.

For demonstrators the demos were put on as free. So all people had to do was turn up and everything would be paid for (accommodation, travel and food). On demonstrations individual NKT Centres donated food and drink for people to eat on the coaches, and accommodation was almost always in Centres although hotels were provided on some occasions (all paid for). For example on one occasion food and bottled water was provided by Heruka Centre. However, when people on the internet started asking where the WSS got their money from a letter was issued from the NKT secretary that centre money should not be used to send teachers on demonstrations (i.e. flights), so the students should raise the money themselves. Needless to say we know that the NKT expected its teachers to attend, and we all saw what happened to Lucy when not enough support was given. On long bus trips the WSS also handed money to people so that they could buy their lunch, no one knew where this money came from but it was widely referred to as Geshe-la’s [Geshe Kelsang Gyatso] money. In NY, France, Germany and the UK demonstrations it was the same. There were other Tibetan teachers/students that were present at some demonstrations (only ever a handful) however 99% of the attendance was NKT.

In the days after the New York demonstrations (the day when the WSS people were evacuated) Pema told the demonstrators that she had phoned Geshe-la to tell him what happened. Geshe-la apparently laughed on the phone and was delighted. Let me make that clear- he was delighted that there had been a scene between the Tibetan crowd and the WSS. He referred to this as a ‘perfect demonstration’. Pema then said that later Geshe-la phoned up to ask how the students were and if anyone was hurt- this was not his first thought apparently.

The last I knew officially was the last demonstrations in Switzerland (?) were cancelled when the Dalai Lama cancelled his teachings. After that nothing was told to students or teachers. I did take part fully in demonstrations believing it was important to do what my teacher told me, however now I have learned things kept from students about the NKT I regret ever doing so.

See also


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.


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.


More NKT survivors’ testimonies

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 …”


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.

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

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:

“Name only”: The dangerous attitude of Nihilism being taught in the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT)

Just as a chariot is verbalized
In dependence on collections of parts.

So conventionally a sentient being
Is set up depending on the mental and physical aggregates.
— The Buddha

Buddhism itself is very radical but this involves an understanding that none of the things we normally perceive exist.
Kadam Lucy James

As a former NKT teacher and as a student of the founder of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) Kelsang Gyatso, I am quite convinced that within the NKT there is a profound misunderstanding of reality. A misunderstanding which can be pointed out as “Nihilism” – the rejection that conventional phenomena exist. This rejection is going along with the belief that it depends only on you what phenomena are and how they function – dependent on the name you give to phenomena. According to this thinking NKT teachers teach, “if you see Geshe la [Kelsang Gyatso] as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha” or “if you see Shugden [Dolgyal] as a Buddha he will function for you as a Buddha”. Likewise, NKT teachers teach, “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.”

These explanations reflect a nihilistic attitude. This nihilistic attitude is wide spread within the NKT and permeates the minds and arguments of the majority of NKT followers, including NKT teachers.

A sidetrack reflection about pure and impure minds and labelling

Funnily, NKT leadership and their followers are inconsequential in applying their own teachings – and thus would have to be regarded according to their own logic as being “hypocritical”. Seeing “Geshe la” and Shugden as Buddhas or NKT as pure is a valid approach and true (if you see them as Buddhas you get the blessings of the Buddhas but if you see them as ordinary beings you get nothing – so they say). The NKT leadership encourages to project perfection and purity onto those things that form the basis of the NKT and onto the NKT leadership itself. But when it comes to the Dalai Lama or Tibetan Buddhism in general, labels such as “worst 21st Buddhist century dictator”, “hypocrite”, “evil and cruel”, or “quite degenerated” etc. are regarded as valid labels and are believed to reflect reality.

Now, according to NKT’s own arguments, why labelling the worst things onto the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism? Weren’t it better to see them in a more positive light, or in a more beneficial way, “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.”? What’s so beneficial to see the most negative things in the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism? Why can’t NKT followers see the Dalai lama also as a Buddha and Tibetan Buddhism as pure? Does the NKT leadership has a need to create outer enemies as a power tool and as a part to form a nationalist NKT identity?

What does this labelling of negative attributes to outer NKT forces tell about the NKT leadership and their devoted followers? Gen-la Kelsang Kunsang, the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition and the National Spiritual Director of Mexico, teaches about “The Purity of Mind” as follows:

Following Gen la Kunsang’s teachings, it follows, how impure must be the minds of the NKT leadership and many of the NKT followers who slander and harass the Dalai Lama or Samdhong Rinpoche as “cruel and evil or “corrupt and evil”? How does this reflect NKT followers’ minds according to the NKT teachings?


In the center NKT nun Gen Kelsang Norden.

Back to topic – The nihilistic attitude within NKT

The nihilistic attitude, which is so present in the NKT, is dangerous and is also used for what I call sometimes “brainwashing” or “indoctrination” within the NKT.

It forms an important part to bring reality in line with the NKT ideology of a pure NKT world that is threatened by a “very degenerated” outer world. This attitude serves as an important basis to bend reality until it fits the NKT party line. Such a way of seeing things won’t bring you closer to reality – as the Buddhist path should do – but it brings you far away from enlightenment and undermines your conviction in the law of cause and effect (Karma) and subsequently it undermines ethics and good ethical conduct – which makes a nihilistic attitude really dangerous. That’s why Buddhist commentaries – including those by Je Tsongkhapa – state that Eternalism is less dangerous than Nihilism because the latter is going to undermine your faith in the law of karma and then your behaviour will degenerate and the result, when the misdeeds ripen, will be suffering. Eternalism doesn’t have these detrimental effects and can coexist with faith in the law of Karma.

I think, the misunderstandings of conventional reality and the nihilistic view within NKT are based on a lack of substantial and open debate, a lack of substantial knowledge of the works of Gelug masters such as Je Tsongkhapa, Khedrup Je or Gyaltsab Je, and the narrow, sectarian and stupid attitude promoted by the NKT that if you read only the books of its founder, Kelsang Gyatso, this would be good enough to reach enlightenment – “its all in his books” as NKT teachers use to claim.

Here is one example for this Nihilism from the former, closely moderated, official NKT internet chat forum, a comment NKT lay teacher and NKT advocate Kadam Ryan gave:

There are three main things to think about when thinking about the ‘Dorje Shugden issue’. The first is that Buddhas do not exist from their own side, but depend upon the minds of the living beings who view them. If you view Dorje Shugden as a Buddha, then for you he will function as a Buddha. If you view him as big blob of orange Jell- O, then for you he will be a big blob of orange Jell-O.

When I remember correctly, this explanation was not only accepted but also praised by NKT forum members as “profound” or “wise” etc. For sure nobody challenged it or doubted that explanation in any way. Expressions and discussions of such views occur not only in NKT teachings by NKT teachers but they were expressed also on this blog and Wikipedia talk pages.

The view of the NKT leadership and what Tsongkhapa actual states about conventional reality

Now lets focus on what NKT leadership teaches. Kelsang Gyatso, NKT’s final and only authority, states:

I am not saying all phenomena do not exist. All phenomena do exist. The way they exist is as mere name. Anything other than mere name does not exist. But all the phenomena that we normally see or perceive do not exist even as mere name because they are all mistaken appearance. – The Oral Instructions of Mahamudra

Gen Kelsang Dekyong, the Spiritual Director of the NKT and the Resident Teacher at Manjushri KMC, the Mother Center of “Kadampa Buddhism“, explains emptiness this way:

If you carefully analyse what Kelsang Gyatso and Kelsang Dekyong say, you can detect that there is a lack of clarity that gives space to the interpretation or misunderstanding that things are name only – a type of Idealism. And from this it makes perfectly sense (if you don’t question it or dig deeper into the topic using authentic Buddhist scriptures), when NKT teachers teach “if we understand emptiness we can impute things in a way that they are most beneficial to us.” The reason for this heavy misunderstanding and wrong view I think is, that the NKT leadership does not properly and in-depth explain what “mere name” really means. As a result of this, there is too much space for interpretation, a space that invites to fill the gaps of knowledge with fantasy. I think, there is an ambiguity and a lack of clarity or scrutiny within NKT what conventional phenomena are – at least according to how Tsongkhapa explained it.

The insight chapter of Je Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo (folio 313b Tibetan, p. 178 of English) states:

How does one determine whether something exists conventionally? We hold that something exists conventionally:

  1. if it is known to a conventional consciousness;
  2. if no other conventional valid cognition contradicts its being as it is thus known
  3. if reason that accurately analyses reality – that is, analyses whether something intrinsically exists – does not contradict it.

We hold that what fails to meet those criteria does not exist.

The meaning of “mere name” or “name only”

Now, what does “mere name” or “name only” actually mean within the context of the Gelug school which the NKT claims to be the “pure” heir of?

In Buddhism the term self has two meanings that must be differentiated in order to avoid confusion. One meaning of self is “person,” or “living being.” This is the being who loves and hates, who performs actions and accumulates good and bad karma, who experiences the fruits of those actions, who is reborn in cyclic existence, who cultivates spiritual paths, and so on.

The other meaning of self occurs in the term selflessness, where it refers to a falsely imagined, overconcretized status of existence called “inherent existence”. The ignorance that adheres to such an exaggeration is indeed the source of ruination, the mother of all wrong attitudes — perhaps we could even say devilish. In observing the “I” that depends upon mental and physical attributes, this mind exaggerates it into being inherently existent, despite the fact that the mental and physical elements being observed do not contain any such exaggerated being.

What is the actual Status of a sentient being? Just as a car exists in dependence upon its parts, such as wheels, axles, and so forth, so a sentient being is conventionally set up in dependence upon mind and body. There is no person to be found either separate from mind and body or within mind and body.


This is the reason why the “I” and all other phenomena are described in Buddhism as “name-only.” The meaning of this is not that the “I” and all other phenomena are just words, since the words for these phenomena do indeed refer to actual objects. Rather, these phenomena do not exist in and of themselves; the term name-only eliminates the possibility that they are established from the object’s own side. We need this reminder because the “I” and other phenomena do not appear to be merely set up by name and thought. Quite the contrary.

For instance, we say that the Dalai Lama is a monk, a human, and a Tibetan. Does it not seem that you are saying this not with respect to his body or his mind but about something separate? Without stopping to think about it, it seems that there is a Dalai Lama that is separate from his body, and independent even of his mind. Or consider yourself. If your name is Jane, for instance, we say, “Jane’s body, Jane’s mind,” so it seems to you that there is a Jane who owns her mind and body, and a mind and body that Jane owns.

How can you understand that this perspective is mistaken? Focus on the fact that there is nothing within the mind and body that can be “I.” Mind and body are empty of a tangible “I.” Rather, just as a car is set up in dependence upon its parts and is not even the sum of its parts, so the I depends upon mind and body. An “I” without depending on mind and body does not exist, whereas an “I” that is understood to be dependent upon mind and body exists in accordance with the conventions of the world. Understanding this type of “I” that is not at all to be found within mind and body, and is not even the sum of mind and body but exists only through the power of its name and our thoughts, is helpful as we strive to seeourselves as we really are.

– “Realizing That You Do Not Exist in and of Yourself”, pp. 126–29 – HH the 14th Dalai Lama

You can’t label things arbitrarily as you like – A clarification by Pabongkha Rinpoche

Ok, NKT followers won’t except what His Holiness teaches nor won’t they sincerely check what Je Tsongkhapa taught or challenge easily the view of their leadership. However, maybe they accept Pabongkha Rinpoche as a valid source of information within the context of their own school of thought. Pabongkha Rinpoche states in his commentary to Je Tsongkhapa’s Three Principles of the Path – published by Mahayana Sutra and Trantra Press and Khen Rinpoche Geshe Lobsang Tharchin, whose root gurus were Pabongkha Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche:

If we look for the very root that keeps you and I going round in this circle of life, we come down to ignorance, to our grasping for a “self”. To cut this root, we must develop wisdom which perceives that no such “self” exists. If we were to discuss what no-self is in any detailled way, it would be best to apply a number of sections from the works on the Steps to the path [Tsongkhapa’s Lam Rim Chen Mo]; one example would be the “fourfold analysis.”Here though we will give only a brief presentation of the most vital points concerning correct view, and we will use the classical reasoning based on interdependence.

Now every existent object is a product of something to be given a name and something else to give it a name. There is not a single atom of anything in the universe which does not rely on this process—there is nothing which exists from its own side. I too then am a product: someone has taken two things together, my body and my I mind, and called it “me.” I am nothing more than that. There is no “me” which exists from its own side; there is no “me” which does not rely on someone taking my body and mind together and granting it the name. Neither in fact do my body or my mind themselves exist from their own sides.

We can express all this in the classical form of a logical statement:

Consider all objects, those of the cycle and those beyond it.
They have none of the true and solid existence that I hold them to have; they cannot exist on their own.
Because they are interdependent.

What we mean here by “interdependence” is that all objects are interrelated with others on which they depend; that is, they occur through dependence on other objects. This is why there is absolutely no way they can exist on their own.

We can take for example the way we appoint the chanting master of a monastery, or the governor of some district, or any similar figure. First there must be a reasonable basis to be called “chanting master”: there must be a person who is worthy of being the chanting master.

Then there must be someone like the abbot of the monastery who says, “He is now the chanting master.” Until the abbot does so, until the abbot applies the name and the concept to this person, he cannot be the chanting master—even though he may have all the qualities you need to be named “chanting master.”

If this were not the case, and if the person were somehow the chanting master from the beginning, all on his own without anyone putting the name or idea on him, then he would have to have been the chanting master all along—from the time he lay in his mother’s womb. And when he was bom, the moment he came out of her womb, people then should have said, “Here comes the chanting master!”

But people didn’t say it, because getting to be the chanting master depends on many other factors. We don’t call someone “chanting master” until there is a basis to give the name—a monk who is fit to be chanting master, and until a person qualified to give him the name hangs it on him, and says “This is the chanting master.” Neither until this time does the person himself think “I am the chanting master.” But once the concept has been applied to him, “You are the chanting master,” then people start to talk about him as “chanting master,” and he too begins to think “I am the chanting master.”

The case is the same with something like a horse. We take the body and the mind of the horse, and we put them together— we take all the proper causes and conditions together—and label them with the name “horse.” A building is the same too: nothing but a name put on a certain collection of parts that act as the basis to receive the name.

And the same goes for every existing entity: they arc nothing but a name and a concept, “This we call this, and that we call that,” applied to the collection of parts that acts as the basis of the particular entity’s name. There does not exist the single tiniest bit of anything thatis some kind of object on its own, divorced of the parts we give its name.

“Well then,” you might think to yourself, “if every object is nothing more that what we label it, then I can go out and call gold ‘brass,’ or call a pillar a ‘pitcher,’ and that’s just what they will be.” But it’s not; we do say that things are just labelled what they are, but for the label to be applied, the basis that gets it must be a reasonable one for the particular label.

When we apply a label, three conditions must be present. The three are as follows: (1) the object must be known to a conventional perception; (2) no other conventional perception can contradict its existence; and (3) no ultimate analysis can contradict its existence either. All three must be there.

Now here is what we mean when we say that one conventional perception has been contradicted by another. We can be standing looking at a scarecrow way off in the distance, and someone next to us says ‘That’s a man over there,” and we believe him. Then someone comes up who’s seen for himself that the thing is a scarecrow and tells us “It’s just a scarecrow.” Our initial perception of the thing as a man then vanishes. This is an indication that the basis was not a reasonable one for the given name.

That’s not all—we can go around giving out all sorts of names, we can say “Rabbits have horns,” but that’s not going to make the horns exist; there’s no reasonable basis to get the label. Therefore we must have a reasonable, conventional state of mind that is applying a name to a reasonable collection of parts which acts as the basis we want to give the name—and which actually exists.

Thus too when we go to name somebody governor of a district we have to have a person who is suitable to be given the name—we must have a reasonable basis for our label. We don’t take some deaf-mute bastard kid and appoint him governor.

A Final thought

What the NKT teachings often ignore is that for a correct process of labelling a name to a basis, the basis must have the respective qualities and must be able to perform the function the label is referring to. If I label rope to a vicious snake and use that “rope” as a belt to fix my trousers, the vicious snake won’t accept that usage, to serve as my belt, and highly likely this vicious snake, that is not a rope, is going to bite me – no matter how much or how deep I believe or convince myself that this vicious snake is a rope and suitable to be used as a belt.
Similarly, the rope won’t serve as a basis from which poison for medical purposes can be extracted. No matter how much you “squeeze” the rope and no matter how much you pray or how deeply you believe the rope to be a poisonous snake, no poison can be extracted from the rope.

Last edited by tenpel on October 31, 2015 at 11:50 pm

New design & new articles about NKT, Hitler’s letters to Reting, Vinaya etc. + Revised articles about the NKT “Kadampas”, Geshe Kelsang & Shugden

Bildschirmfoto 2015-06-09 um 15.57.40

After about 18 months of hard work, with the kind support of friends, I am happy (and somewhat relieved) to announce the revision and redesign of the site http://www.info-buddhism.com.

Key objectives were to create a modern and fresh design, to use more images because visitors complained about the lack of visual stimuli, to make it mobile device able (responsive), to add new articles, to revise existent articles, and to make it social media able – up to now I was not very interested in using social media, but I have had to learn that there is no way to ignore social media if you want to reach people.

Kadampa-Buddhism-Modern-Geshe-la-3bEspecially the revisions of the New Kadampa TraditionGeshe Kelsang Gytaso and the Shugden Controversy article might be worth reading.

Feedback and constructive criticism is welcomed.



“The Dalai Lama Truth” – Dalai Lama Protesters Cannot Bear The Truth

Bildschirmfoto 2015-06-03 um 12.59.51

Someone sent me a copy and paste from the New Kadampa Tradition’s (NKT) “Dalai Lama Truth” Facebook page. There is a post that reads:

Dalai Lama brings his religious discrimination to Australia

Buddhists will be protesting the Dalai Lama this week when he visits the Blue Mountains on his “Ocean of Wisdom” tour, accusing him of hypocrisy, intolerance and persecution. The protesters will appeal to the Dalai Lama to live up to his reputation as a human rights advocate and end his campaign of persecution against Shugden Buddhists.

See these images of discriminatory notices barring access to Buddhists who rely on Dorje Shugden, in India – and now on the website for the Dalai Lama’s 2015 Australian tour! This is a direct result of the False Dalai Lama’s illegal and unethical ban on this centuries-old Buddhist practice.

The comments unfolded as follows:

  • Iain Macfarlane how do you know he is the false dalai lama?Seems a little harsh
    1 · 12 hrs
    • Alison Dubois I’m no expert. I believe the current Dali was “chosen” by the government, not by the traditional Buddhist spiritual methods. The “Chosen” Dali is not currently accessible. I’m not clear where he is.
    • Iain Macfarlane ok,as a membver of nkt i think we are barking up the wrong tree however,the best way to discredit dl is to point out that he got advive concerning ds from the nechung oracele,this oracle tolg tibetan soldiers that british bullets wouldnt hurt them,so hasnt exactly got a good track record

If you know the Shugden stuff and Tibetan history well you can easily see that the commentators suffer from serious misinformation and a thorough lack of knowledge. Since you cannot argue with the NKT campaigners by relying on facts, history, academic sources, or sober reasons and arguments or by quoting what other Tibetan Buddhist masters have to say about this, I wondered if the NKT is tolerant enough to accept a correction by a source that they should consider to be their “holiest source of information”. Hence I made a test and wrote a longer comment quoting their most holy guru, the “root guru” of their “root guru”, the unfailing and omniscient, His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche:

Bildschirmfoto 2015-06-03 um 01.59.21Why are you so ignorant and why are you not knowing the facts? The Dalai Lama was chosen by using the traditional methods and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche confirmed himself (written down by Zemey Rinpoche) that he is the right Dalai Lama:

“His Holiness the Thirteenth Dalai Lama passed away in the water-bird year. For about two months the Prime Minister and the Kashag held the responsibility of the Government. After that the General Assembly nominated the Reting Rinpoche, Gaden throne Holder Yeshi Palden and Yongzin Phurchok Jamgon Rinpoche for the regency. The Reting Rinpoche’s name was confirmed with traditional tests were done in front of Lord Avaloketeshvara in the Potala Palace. Accordingly he was enthroned as the Regent on the 10th day of the first month of the wood-dog year.

Thus he held the responsibility to head the Gaden Phodrang, the Tibetan Government. He took particular interest in the construction of the tomb of the thirteenth Dalai Lama and the search for the next reincarnation. He personally went to the precious lake and saw the visions which gave clear signals of the reincarnation. He then recognized and enthroned the right reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Those were indeed some of his wonderful deeds.”

(see the Yellow Book)

Not only this Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche wrote himself:

“There is something I must mention at this point. As stated above, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and Omniscient Panchen Rinpoche were like Lords of the Teachings. In actuality they are, respectively, Arya Avalokiteswara and Buddha Amitabha emanating in the human form of special holy beings. Yet this Lord of Dharma Protectors exhibited an ability to harm or destroy them, and such events as the Great Fifth, having been able to summon this Dharmapala to be burned with intense samadhi but not accomplish it, also shows that the enlightening activities of these great masters and those of this Dharmapala are each as mutually universal and pervasive as the other. But some who are narrow minded, not understanding this point, consider this Dharmapala to be like an ordinary worldly being and, with supposed faith in the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, disparage him; or else they indeed admire this great Dharmapala but criticize the Dalai Lama or Panchen Lama. Using either one as a reason not to admire the other and speaking badly about either in any way is the conduct of an ordinary being who, under the influence of attachment and hatred, just tries to help friends and hurt enemies; it obscures the increase of these great holy Aryas’ deeds and creates the karmic cause to experience unbearable suffering in the future. Why is this true? Because it is utterly impossible that such great beings, who are special emanations of Arya Avalokiteswara and Buddha Amitabha, could lack the power to overcome the harmful force of any sort of magical spell, harmful demon, or spirit. This is because they are both powerful Lords who have overcome external and internal maras without exception.”

(see Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors)

I deliberately didn’t add any link so that they don’t feel disturbed having a link on their page to any source that is not their own.

However, the “Dalai Lama Truth” page failed my “tolerance test” and deleted not only my comment but also the comment by Iain who wondered “how do you know he is the false dalai lama?Seems a little harsh”.

To hear the voice of the “root guru”, Trijang Rinpoche, of the NKT followers’ “root guru”, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, seems to have become unbearable and unacceptable for NKT devotees who claim to be Trijang Rinpoche’s heirs. After the voice of the Dalai Lama became unbearable for the NKT leadership and their followers their delusions lead them now even so far that the voice of the “root guru” of their “root guru” became unbearable and unacceptable – something to be deleted, eradicated and brushed under the carpet.

Michelangelo_Caravaggio_065If you examine more closely it becomes evident that the NKT world became a constant echoe of their own images, voices and views. It is what happened to Narcissus who was carried away by his beauty and pride. Like under the spell of Nemesis the NKT Narcissists see in all their writings, blogs, websites, placards, images, cartoons, and protests only their own view, a distorted reflection of reality, and fell in love with it, not realizing it is merely an idea – and factual even wrong. Similar to Narcissus, who was unable to leave the beauty of his reflection in the water and drowned, the NKT Narcissists are drowning in their own imaginations and views about Shugden and the “false Dalai Lama” and wonder still “Why doesn’t the world wake up?”, failing to see that it is they who have to wake up and not others.

Good morning!

PS: Funnily, the site is named an “Education Website”. I agree, they need some education ;-)

See also

Why did the 14th Dalai Lama change his stance on Dorje Shugden / Dholgyal?

Some great learned and spiritually evolved persons have proclaimed (Gyalchen Dorje Shugden / Dhol-gyal) as a valid protector and even in their personal lives they have achieved amazing success; there are such persons to this day who we can see for ourselves. On the other hand as I told you just a while ago, the story of Gyalchen has been murky since quite early time. It is because of this that I have had to explain the situation and suggest some restrictions. However, I have not done this for political reasons or other purposes. – HH the 14th Dalai Lama (1980)

Introductory note: In the following four talks, given in 1978, 1980 and 1983, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, explains in detail what events, circumstances, reasons and investigations caused him to change his stance on Dorje Shugden / Dhol-gyal. Though these four talks comprise about 46 DIN A4 pages it is really worth reading them because they offer plenty of information and details that are not known to many. It becomes clear while reading it that the Dalai Lama was extremely cautious and careful with this subject matter and didn’t take it lightly in any way. – Tenpel

Background of the first talk: This talk was given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama concerning Shugden Practice on 13th July 1978 (at his residence ) to a group of people comprising the Ven. Lobsang Nyima, the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery, Geshe Loten, monk officials and twenty two senior monks of Namgyal Monastery, five senior monks of Nechung Monastery, two teachers of the Dialectic School, two monk-representatives, each from the branches of the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges at Dharamsala, and Rato Kyongla Tulku and Nyagre Kelsang Yeshi, both resident in America, who were admitted by special permission. This is a transcribed and edited version of the talks, which was approved by His Holiness after he had made a number of modifications and additions.


Today, I want to tell you a story, because lately, there has been some discussion about Gyalchen Shugden, and I thought I should make some comments about it to you Namgyal and Nechung monks. As you know, there have recently been some changes concerning Gyalchen Shugden and I thought I should explain the actual and the real situation concerning these changes in the beginning, middle and end. I discussed it with Kushab Khenpo (Ven. Lobsang Dhondup 1911- 1977), but no one except him had any knowledge of this until today.

The origin of Gyalchen: As related in the Praise of Dependent Arising (bstod-‘brel) of His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche (1901-1981), Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen (1619-1656) was the origin. It is my view that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen’s instinctive behavior and ways of thinking were good. I have looked at his Collected Works which also contain his secret biography. He seems to have been good in his studies and to have had a gentle subdued mind. In his biography there are a few Guru Yoga texts, one of which has Buddha Shakyamuni in the centre and around him: Guru Rinpoche (9th century) surrounded by the Guru lineage of the Nyingma Order; Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158) surrounded by the Guru lineage of the Sakya Order; Marpa (1012-1097), Mila (1052-1Í35) and Dagpo (1079-1161) – surrounded by the Guru lineage of Kagyud Order; Je Rinpoche (1357-1419) and his two spiritual sons surrounded by the Gurus of Gelug Order; in the front, are his root gurus Panchen Lobsang Chogyan (1668-1737) and the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), from whom he had received teachings directly; such was the arrangement of the merit-field. During the actual seven-limped rite of making prostration, rejoicing and so forth in relation to this, teachings of past Sakya, Gelug, Kagyud and Nyingma masters are summarized and it is explained that one should pay homage and recite eulogies through recollecting their qualities. At the conclusion, he explains that a boundless crime based on contemporary sectarianism produces causes to be thrown into bad realms and that he had written this Guru Yoga deliberately to avoid such negative results. Having seen that, I thought it was good. Usually, Gyalchen is considered a biased deity, however, since there was this account in the Collected Works of Dragpa Gyaltsen, I thought it was good.

In the Collected Works of His Holiness Sonam Gyatso (the Third Dalai Lama 1543-1588), it is related that, at one time, when the young Rinpoche was playing with water in his private apartment Drung Sung Rabpa, an attendant, disapproved and rebuked the young Rinpoche. When the young Rinpoche paid no heed, the attendant said, “Panchen Sonam Dragpa (1273-1345) will take care of me, I shall go to the upper residence”.

This statement is actually quoted. In view of this, it seems that there were two residences, (bla-brang), the so called lower residence of the Dalai Lama and the upper residence of those of the lineage of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen, both of whom seem to have been quite famous. As a result of this it seems certain there were petty conflicts between the staff of the two residences.

In one section of the biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), there is an account of his once spending a week in retreat and preparing to perform the Mashi ritual on the day of an eclipse. That morning he felt very sluggish and his meditation session remained unpleasant. On the same day a message was received unexpectedly that the Tulku of the upper residence was sick. When His Holiness the Fifth Dalai Lama visited him, he saw that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen had been seized by an evil spirit and had lost consciousness.

His Holiness also stated clearly that the sluggishness in his own body have been the result of a similar attack (gdon-grib). If you go through the biography of His Holiness the Second Dalai Lama, Gedun Gyatso (1475-1542), it seems that Nas Nying Gyalpo (a local deity from Nas Nying, Tsang) had some influence on the lineage of Dalai Lamas. Moreover, although it is not stated in the biography of the Fifth Dalai Lama, according to common tradition, it is believed that Dragpa Gyaltsen was killed by stuffing his mouth with scarves. There is also an account that in, one of the previous incarnations of the lineage of Dragpa Gyaltsen, Nechung caused this to happen. Since these appear in the common texts, I need not explain them in detail.

Anyway, according to common knowledge, it is said that a relationship developed between the Fifth, Dalai Lama and Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen and that Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen arose in a wrathful aspect; such is the common belief. It is further said in the general Collected Works of Fifth Dalai Lama that Dol Gyalchen displayed a strong miraculous power. There is an account that in order to repress this the Fifth Dalai Lama himself performed wrathful rituals. Similarly, it seems that in the same connection that Rigzin Terdag Lingpa of Mindol Ling monastery and Rigzin Pema Trinley of Dorje Drag performed two Fire-rituals simultaneously, one at E-WAM and the other at Potala. It is mentioned, in the Collected Works of Rigzin Pema Trinley, that during this wrathful rite which was deliberately aimed to annihilate Dol Gyalchen people actually smelt the odor of raw meat burning. From then on (Dol Gyalchen) was captured for ever. This is one story.

Another account has it that Se-trab (bse-khrab) rescued Gyalchen and therefore he could not be burnt. Again, another common story tells that after Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen arose in a wrathful aspect, he went to Tashi Lhunpo because he was a disciple of Panchen Lobsang Chogyan. However, he was unable to get into Tashi Lhunpo, which was guarded strictly by the Namse Ta Dag Gyad (rnam-sras rta bdag brgyad) protectors. This is a point which warrants consideration. At that time, Panchen Lobsang Chogyan, who was the head of the Gelug Order, was residing at Tashi Lhunpo monastery and if his disciple Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen had arisen in his wrathful aspect, then Namtho-Se (rnam-thos-sras), one of the guardians of the three types of disciples should have escorted and welcomed him as commanded by Je-Rinpoche. Anyway for whatever reason, when he went to meet his Lama he was unable to do so and met with difficulties. At that time it seems that a hierarch of the Sakya Order seeing some purpose in doing so, took care of Gyalchen and so Gyalchen came to form a relationship with the Sakya Order. This is one version of events.

Now, Tsang Yang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706) was a strong Nyingma practitioner, and during his reign the tradition of the Fifth Dalai Lama remained healthy. Subsequently, the Seventh Dalai Lama followed purely the Gelug Order, in which case he ought to have had a connection with Gyalchen, yet there is no mention of such a relationship in his Collected Works. Since then there had been no Dalai Lama until my predecessor who seems to have had any connection with Gyalchen.

There is another story that when either Tsultrim Gyatso, the Eighth Dalai Lama (1758-1804) or Lungtog Gyatso, the Ninth Dalai Lama (1805-1815), was traveling through Kham, Gyalchen came through his medium and sought an audience with him. This a story from the very place. Beyond this, Gyalchen has had no particular connection with the lineage of Dalai Lamas. It seems that during the time of Panchen Lobsang Yeshi (1668-1737) there wasn’t any connection and consequently, even during the time of Panchen Palden Yeshi (1738-1780) there probably was not any connection. I don’t know how the situation stood during the life of Panchen Tenpai Nyima (1782- 1853), but there is an account that during the life of Panchen Tenpai Wangchuk (1855-1882) there was some rivalry between him and Gyalchen. I do not know how this happened, but it may be that either he first propitiated Gyalchen and then late they became rivals or that their rivalry occurred without their having any connection to begin with.

During the reign of my predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama (1876-1933), the performance of many deity-mediums were banned and in particular the Gyalchen medium was banned quite strongly. However, he did not ban Gyalchen’s performance from Lhasa Trode Khangsar, although it seems, he issued a legal warning to the public. In those days, the ban was strictly enforced even in Drepung and thus, the only image of Gyalchen in the Drepung Tantric College had to be removed. It was traditional for the monks of Drepung Tantric College to blow conches and trumpets while summoning Gyalchen and this was also banned. Similarly, in Ganden too those who propitiated Gyalchen were rigorously warned against doing do.

Just after the Thirteenth Dalai Lama banned this practice, the Ganden Throne-holder, who was either Minyag Ami or Yeshi Wangden relentlessly applied the law and so it occurred that even in Ganden propitiation of Gyalchen had to be carried out very secretly. This is what happened during the reign of my predecessor, the previous Dalai Lama.

Then, I make a mistake. If you ask what that mistake was? It was that I was unable to follow the exclusive tradition of the previous Dalai Lamas. Moreover, when I went to Dromo, I had to stay at Dromo Dunkar monastery, where there was a tradition of summoning the wrathful and peaceful aspects of Gyalchen through the medium of a monk. The medium himself wasn’t a particularly good scholar, but when the deity was summoned he seems to have given clear prophesies, which was much appreciated. It had so happened that I had left Lhasa for Dromo rather hurriedly and the mediums of Nechung and Gadong were not among the entourage.

In those days, I did not have a close connection with either Nechung or Gadong, such that I would summon them in my private apartment, except that they were invoked during the summer, winter and annual ceremonies. In any case, until then had been a growing child and it goes without saying that I could not think independently about deity devotion; in fact I could not even think about things in general that much. However, it was on that occasion that neither Nechung nor Gadong were with me, although it was a crucial juncture in negotiations between Tibet and China. Amongst the officials there were those who wanted me to return to Lhasa and those who wanted me to go to India and so it became very difficult for me to decide.

At this crucial point there was, for one thing, a good monk medium nearby and, for another, my strong faith in Je-Phabong Kha, because of which I felt a close bond with him. Also, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had a strong affection for me and this was a further cause. Anyway, with the coincidence of many causes I finally had to summon Gyalchen in my apartment at Dromo. While summoning him, the monks chanted the Hundred Deities of the Joyous Land (dga’a-ldan lha-grgya-ma) to the tune of Sangphu monastery. In the course of the actual performance the medium wore yellow robes, chogo and namjar, and a pandit’s hat in which he looked quite eminent. Facing towards me, he prostrated like a felled tree. When asked for predictions and advice, he answered fairly clearly. Once he said, “I have just come from Tushita after enquiring of Je-Rinpoche”. Everything seemed to be fairly well resolved. Then, while returning from Dromo to Lhasa my intention to propitiate Gyalchen increased and consequently I summoned the wrathful Shugden in the main hall of Dunkar monastery and I offered him a new costume. This is how my relationship with Gyalchen developed at the beginning. This was the first time that the Fourteenth Dalai Lama made a mistake, not being able to stand on my own two feet I didn’t follow the path shown by the previous Dalai Lamas.

During the regency of Kyabje Tagdrag Rinpoche (1874-1951), Geshe Tsewang Samdrub let monks perform the wrathful ceremony of Bhairava at Chagpori and Chensel Lingkha, and when I had already left for Dromo, Geshe Samdrub performed the ceremonies of increase and power and he deliberately sent their mystic wheels (‘phrul-‘khor) to me at Dromo. In this way I developed some connection with Geshe Samdrub. Later I returned to Lhasa.

Jampa Choesang, the chief attendant, was a very close friend of Geshe Tsewang Samdrub, who lived at Chagsam. Choekhor Yangtse’s Gyalchen Choje, presently at Mundgod, and Geshe Tsewang Samdrub also seemed to be very close friends. Because of these relationships, I once received a prediction from Choekhor Yangtse’s Gyalchen via Geshe Tsewang Samdrub and my chief attendant, Jampa Choesang. Subsequently, I used to send my servants back and forth to Geshe Tsewang Samdrub through my chief attendant Jampa Choesang with enquiries for prediction. In this way I requested predictions from Choekhor Yangtse Gyaltsen quite often through Geshe Tsewang Samdrub. At that time, in accordance with the counsel of Choekhor Yangtse Gyalchen, the Bhairava, Rigjema and Kalacakra statues at Lhasa Shol were erected. In the same period during one of the monk medium’s trances, he said, “Next year on the third day of the Tibetan New Year you must offer a grand invocation ceremony to me, and if you do so there will definitely be an omen to examine”. Thus, on the third day of the first month of the Tibetan New Year, after performing the Tsetor ritual and making dough-ball offerings to Lhamo in the morning, an extensive invocation prayer to Gyalchen was chanted. As there was then neither a thanka nor a statue of Gyalchen in my apartment, I borrowed a thanka of Gyalchen from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and hung it up.

That night I had a dream in which I saw a few yaks and Serchen flowers under an overcast sky on the lawn behind the Mahakala chapel at Norbu Linkha. I saw the Esteemed Abbot (Ven. Lobsang Dhondup) holding a golden scoop filled with melted butter. This was a good sign, but the yaks I had seen raised some doubts. When I reflected on this now, the yaks probably represented evil portents (dam-sri). This was my dream. From then onwards until the year before last (1975) an extensive invocation ceremony was offered to Gyalchen annually, on the third day of the first Tibetan month. Subsequently, a new thanka of Gyalchen was painted, a copy of the one owned by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. This is also mentioned in the biography of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.

Then, one day, in order to examine the Choekhor Yangtse Gyalchen, I sent a letter in accordance with the usual custom for consulting him, in which I did not write the meaning explicitly but wrote it secretly in cypher. The reply returned also written in cypher which was not very clear, but it appeared that the meaning could be inferred if one wished to do so, which indicated his dissatisfaction. From then onwards I had no further connection with that medium nor did I summon Choekhor Yangtse’s Gyalchen. I may have requested an invocation rite once or twice, through Trijang Rinpoche but otherwise there has been no special connection. I offered a grand invocation ceremony to Gyalchen on the third of the first Tibetan month and usually as a part of my daily recitation, I recite the invocation prayers of Gonpo, Cheokyong, Lhamo, Namse, Zhal, Chamsing and Gyalpo Kun-nga concluded by the words: “Rang Nyid Yi-dam…..” and so forth from the invocation of Gyalchen. So this has been about my connection with Gyalchen at the beginning and in the middle.

Sometime back, during the life of the previous Dalai Lama (13th), in one of his declarations Nechung said, “You have neglected the indispensable black stupa, but white-washed the rock unnecessarily”. Likewise, I did not cultivate a special relationship with Gyalpo Kun-nga in general, nor specifically with Dorjee Dragden who had a long standing connection with the lineage of Dalai Lamas, which can be traced back to the Tibetan King, Choegyal Trisong Deutsen and even further to a relationship with Gyalpo Kunchog Bang. On the top of this it seemed, that I was cultivating a relationship with a new deity who had no responsibility to the Tibetan Government and no relationship with the lineage of the Dalai Lamas.

However, just before I left for China I began summoning both Nechung and Gadong in my private apartment. Since then, through summoning them we have gradually become close and well acquainted with each other and their predictions have also become more precise. This is because, as the common saying goes, “the deity and the people have the same habits”, and consulting them became quite convenient. Since then, from a practical point of view, it has been unnecessary to maintain a relationship with Choekhor Yangtse‘s Gyalchen or any others. I have summoned both Nechung and Gadong whenever necessary and for those matters which neither could resolve I have applied the method of throwing dough-balls. There have been many instances when even this latter method has been valuable, but as they have not been related before, there is no need to disclose them now.

In 1956, the Chinese raised objections concerning my proposed visits to India, and as the situation became more difficult Nechung predicted, “There will be no problems at all and your wishes will be fulfilled” and eventually everything went well. Later, we were faced with a further quandary over whether I should return to Lhasa or not and consequently both Nechung and Gadong were summoned. Nechung was particularly determined and declared that it would be better to return to Tibet since there was no advantage in staying in India. In 1959, during the period of revolt against the Chinese rule, Nechung was summoned on a number of occasions and it was Nechung who decided the day, exact timing and even the route to be followed for my escape from Norbu Linkha. In any case it proved absolutely successful and free of difficulties. Both Nechung and Gadong are quite resolute on important issues, but Nechung in particular is infallibly resolute.

After arriving in India, I stayed first at Mussoorie and then moved to Dharamsala. Soon after my arrival in Dharamsala, I wanted to receive “Life Entrustment” (srog-gtad) of Gyalchen from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and therefore I mentioned it to him. At that time, someone, whom Kyabje Rinpoche did not remembered clearly, had offered him a copy of the ‘Great Lam-rim’ in a fine old edition from Ganden. Trijang Rinpoche set it aside saying, “I shall give it to you, because we need to have a ‘Lam-rim’ text during the Gyalchen “Life Entrustment” ceremony”.

Sometime later when I have moved my residence from Swarg Ashram, to Theckchen Choeling, I summoned Nechung and Gadong and Nechung declared, “Propitiating A-say Khenpo was a mistake”. I thought that during the life of the previous Dalai Lama (13th), there was a saying that A-say Khenpo meant Gyalchen Shugden, but doubting that it was the same, I asked Nechung what he meant and he confirmed that his statement was about Gyalchen. Then I said to Nechung, “At present there are many people who propitiate Gyalchen and if Nechung were to make such a statement publicly it would ruin the spiritual bond in the hearts of many people. Therefore,” I said to Nechung, “it will be better if you keep silent”. Nechung just said, “Yes”, and since then until the release of the yellow book known as the Oral Transmission of the Intelligent Father (pha-rgod bla-ma’i zhal-lung), that is for nearly seven or eight years Nechung has spoken not one word about the matter.

When Nechung spoke like this, I asked him to keep quiet out of an unflinchingly pure concern for the mental turmoil and disunity this could cause amongst my people and since then Nechung has said nothing about it. However, I learned a lesson myself, for I realized it was not proper to offer “Life Entrustment” to Gyalchen.

In those days I liked Gyalchen and I had an inclination towards him, because of the spiritual lineage of Kyabje Phabongkha, felt close to Gyalchen, nevertheless there is a conflict between Gyalchen and Nechung. If you ask who is the person most closely acquainted with Nechung beneath this sky? Excepting those with clairvoyance and speaking generally, amongst human beings I am the person most closely acquainted with Nechung, and similarly, Nechung is probably the deity who knows most about me. It is a commonly held notion that Gyalchen was coerced by Nechung, therefore, even Trijang Rinpoche remarked in his Praise of Dependent Arising that it is impossible for there to be any conflict between Nechung and Gyalchen. But this is only a common notion, for no matter what the man in the street may say, it is a fact that there is a conflict between Nechung and Gyalchen.

Personally, I don’t see Nechung as “that old deity” and Gyalchen as “this new deity” and if I had to choose one between them, I would definitely choose Nechung and not Gyalchen. So, because of this, I thought that I should not offer “Life Entrustment” to Gyalchen and I did not do it. However, since it is not easy to make such a decision hastily, both Serkong Rinpoche (1914-1983) and I discussed it and I disclosed all the recent occurrences to him. This was when I was receiving A Lamp on the Path to Enlightenment (lam-sgron) teachings from Serkong Rinpoche, we were talking over tea during a break when there was a loud resounding ‘bang’ of a stone hitting the roof. After this I brought the matter to the notice of Yongzin Rinpoche (Ling Rinpoche 1903-1983) telling him what had happened and asking what it would be best to do now. Yongzin Rinpoche told me that the matter was very important and that it would be better not to offer the “Life Entrustment” ceremony. Since I had already requested Trijang Rinpoche to offer the “Life Entrustment” ceremony, I informed him of all the circumstances clearly, told him that wouldn’t now offer the “Life Entrustment” ceremony, and gave up my plans. At that time, except for deliberating over whether I should offer “Life Entrustment” or not, I made no change in my regular personal practices of both reciting the annual invocation prayers and the daily offering of invocation.

H.H. the Dalai Lama (middle) and his two main tutors. On the right side of H.H. the Dalai Lama sits Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, his senior tutor and on the left side sits Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, his junior tutor.

H.H. the Dalai Lama (middle) and his two main tutors. On the right side of H.H. the Dalai Lama sits Kyabje Ling Rinpoche, his senior tutor and on the left side sits Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, his junior tutor.

Sometime after that, in one of his declarations Nechung said, “A Hundred Thousand Tsoq must be offered to Guru Rinpoche at the Tsuglag Khang (main temple) and if this is done an omen for the general cause of Tibet will appear”. The first time we offered a hundred thousand tsog to Guru Rinpoche we didn’t have anyone well-versed in Nyingma rituals and I had yet to come across a text of Extensive Secrets (gsang-ba rgya-can). Finally, I found the Secret Sadhana of Hayagriva (rta-mgrin gsang-sgrub) in the Tamdring Section of the Collected Works of Thu’u Kan (Chokyi Nyima 1737-1802) in which there were beautiful descriptions of how to offer Tsechu,Tsog and the reasons for offering Tsog to Padma Sambhava. Although it was compiled by him, it is basically a collection of the teachings of Gyalwa Gedun Gyatso (Second Dalai Lama 1475-1542) and Panchen Lobsang Choegyan; I based the text that we have been reciting at Tsuglag Khang on this.

Then, a few years later during the offering of one hundred thousand tsog in the tenth month of the Wood Rabbit Year (1975) some Gelug monks and nuns hesitated to join the gathering. It is generally believed that all Tibetans wish for the independence of Tibet; erecting a statue of Padma Sambhava and offering a hundred thousand tsog in the Tsuglag Khang is not a duty incumbent on me, Tenzin Gyatso. Guru Rinpoche is the Guru of all Tibetans, his compassion and oath have a special power especially during this dark period of degeneration when both the human and non-human beings of the black side have the upper hand. From their own side Tibetans have a special karmic and virtuous connections with Guru Rinpoche. It is for this end and these reasons that we maintain a connection with Guru Rinpoche, therefore, it is important that we (Tibetans) should pray to him. I felt quite uneasy when people behaved like this over such an important, common issue.

After looking into it, I discovered that an awful book had been released. This was why nuns dared not join the gathering, for they had lost heart or so somebody told me. After further investigation, I came across the yellow book the Oral Transmission of the Intelligent Father, which Zemey Rinpoche (1927-  ) had kept secret from me. I had not heard of it until I began to investigate the reasons why people had not turned up for tsog, but by then the book had already been distributed publicly. Then, a couple of days later, I received a complimentary copy of a textual rejoinder by Dhongthog Tenpai Gyaltsen (1933- ) accompanied by his own handwritten letter. I looked at both the yellow book and Dhongthog’s rejoinder and I felt really despondent. No matter what prayers I say while I am in my own room, when I am in my office, I represent the Tibetan people as a whole. I never take a biased stand saying that I am a Gelugpa, or that I am a Nyingmapa, or a Kagyupa. Not being mere partial towards Amdopas or any others, I remain the representative of all Tibetan people. As a result of maintaining this position there are invariably some who agree with me and others who do not. If one agrees, there are always few others who do not. For instance, amongst the Gelugpas there are those who grumble that I do not care for Gelugpas and similarly there are a few amongst the Nyingmapas and Kagyupas who make the same complaint. Yet I consider this only as a sign of my being a representative of all and worry about it no [small text passage missing]

During this period of my life when I have a real responsibility to work for the cause of Tibet as best I can, it is possible that a dissatisfied person or one who is ignorant of the actual situation may create a cause for disunity, this is natural and I should certainly excuse them. However, Kushog Zemey is neither and is fully aware of my past and present views on sectarianism. The Teachers Training College which was first started in Dharamsala, later had to be moved to Kangra because of some problems with the then house of the Tibetan Cultural Printing Press and one day I purposely visited them in Kangra. In the main hall, I sat in the middle while Kundeling and Zemey sat on either side of me. There I gave a long talk to the teachers training group, in which I said that those who recognize Gelugpa practitioners and philo­sophy as perfect and others as imperfect must also agree that in Tibet before the time of Je-Rinpoche, there had been many practitioners in Tibet who attained the state of unity. I pointed out that these practitioners must have advanced through discerning the correct view, for if, within themselves, they lacked unmistaken view, meditation and conduct, it would be impossible for them to have gained realization beyond the great or middle path of preparation. For these reasons, since Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya and Gelug traditions are all equally profound dharmas, unifying sutra and tantra teachings aimed at the spontaneous achievement of Buddhahood. I stated clearly that there is no point whatever in talking about good or bad religious traditions.

As Zemey Rinpoche was present there, he heard everything I had to say and it is impossible that he didn’t understand. What’s more under the aegis of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche I took him to China, in 1956, on the 2500th anniversary of Buddha Jayanti, I took him to India. Then, after my arrival in India following the revolt of 1959, selecting him from among equals, I appointed him as the Principal of the Teachers Training College. So he is one who knows quite well what is going on and who has continually received good treatment; then he behaves like this. I give thought to the issues concerning Tibet and maintain a policy, yet it may be that someone is unable to make a beneficial contribution to it in the way that rain aids a river, nonetheless it can never be fitting for him to do something harmful. Even if such conduct was not knowingly, or intentionally an act of spite, it is a hundred percent certain that it was an invidious act of carelessness which is clear even to a blind man. To be frank, I felt extremely sad about it.

How would the situation seem to others, when a person whom the Dalai Lama had singled-out from among equals and to whom he had given responsibility, writes such a book. He is a direct disciple of Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Trijang Rinpoche is my Guru, therefore, a thinking person might say: “Ah they belong to the same faction, but they vary only in their degree of frankness. The Dalai Lama’s Guru speaks like this and a man to whom the Dalai Lama has given special attention speaks in the same way. It doesn’t matter if the Dalai Lama says that there is no discrimination in his policy towards the cause of Tibet, when, in fact, this is the actual policy or thought at the core of his heart.” Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche as well as Zemey Rinpoche should have given thought to this, but unfortunately they didn’t.

In the first place there is a crucial doubt about whether the contents of the text should be accepted literally, but ultimately I think one can only say, “I think it means this… … or may be it means that”. If we accept that it is true, then it is difficult to categorize it as something worthy either of praise or blame. Think in particular, how far it serves the purpose if we seemingly view the pre-eminence of the Gelug tradition as restricted to the issue of a controversial Dharma Protector. Even if we say it was a praiseworthy work, since the need to stop it is greater then the purpose it serves, is it not rather something that should have been kept quiet, for, at present what good purpose does it serve when told? To be specific, if this theme, “the root of corruption” refers to the unbiased practice of Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu and Nyingma teachings by one individual, then the previous Dalai Lamas, the 2nd 3rd and especially the 5th Dalai Lama were extremely corrupt in their practices, weren’t they? Then the 5th Dalai Lama’s words: “May the teachings of the Second Buddha, Lobsang, flourish for ever without corruption” is a great falsehood. He was a scholarly monk, how could he tell a lie contradicting the facts?

When the omniscient Khaedrup in his Commentary on the View – A Lamp Dispelling Darkness (Ita-khrid mun-sel sgron-me) supplements the Sakyapa’s Cause and Continuity of Mind-Basis of All (kun-gzhi rgy-rgyud), a means of meditation on the view of inseparability of cyclic existence and nirvana, he never intermingles their terminology with that of Je-Tsong Khapa’s [small text passage missing?] that it is inappropriate to mix up the terminology exclusive to each tradition by imposing one’s own interpretation. He advises: “Do not mix the meaning and terminology of others in this context. Here I shall not mix them either, for to do otherwise becomes a cause for the loss of all the individual traditions of instructions.” If it is thus inappropriate for Gelugpas to practice Nyingma teachings and for Nyingmapa’s and others to practice Gelug teachings, then from Gyaltsab and Khaedrup down, many other Gelug Geshes have corrupted the doctrine. At present there are some Gelugpa’s who view it as inappropriate should a Gelugpa practise Nyingma teachings, but take pleasure when a Nyingmapa listens to Lam-rim teachings. This contradicts the thought of Khaedrup-Je concerning the corruption of Gelug teachings through their being intermingled with Nyingma teachings.

In short, it seems as if each sect has to turn its back to the other, as if a Buddhist were meeting a non-Buddhist. Therefore, the meaning of corruption should be understood not as the unbiased, eclectic practice of one individual, but as the mixing and inter-appropriation of transmissions exclusive to each tradition. Consequently, there is no borrowing of terms exclusive to Sakya and Nyingma teachings in the Fifth Dalai Lama’s commentary to the Gelug Lam-rim – the Transmission of Manjushri (‘jam-dpal zhal-lung), nor any appropriation of terms exclusive to Sakya and Gelug teachings in his Commentary on Dzoqchen Doctrine (rdzogs-chen lta-khrid rig-‘dzin zhal-lung). Therefore, I think that the actual view of the omniscient Khaedrup is to maintain purely the terminology exclusive to each tradition. As is said in the Ornament for Clear Realization (mngon-rtogs-rgyan): “Those benefiting migrators will accomplish the deeds of worldly beings only through knowledge of the paths”. When a person with a Mahayana disposition needs to be trained through listening to, thinking about and meditating on the teachings of the greater and lesser vehicles, how can it be a fault, rather, isn ‘t it praiseworthy when someone practices all the Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu and Nyingma teachings through listening, thinking and meditation according to his own level of realization?

Recently, as a result of the circulation of Zemey’s book, Dongthog Rinpoche wrote a rejoinder. I was told that having heard of this a few Gelugpas at Varanasi became impatient and were preparing to write a rejoinder to Dongthog’s text. It appears there was a rumour among them that Dongthog had not written his text himself, but that it was composed by Dudjom Rinpoche and credited to Dongthog. Now, how does this look? It wouldn’t matter if both Zemey and Dongthog met and debated face to face, yet when it has been clearly stated that Zemey’s text was taught by a principal Lama of the Gelug, Trijang Rinpoche and it is rumored that Dongthog’s text was written by Dudjom Rinpoche, then ultimately both Trijang Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche become responsible.

Since this was becoming a source for an increase in sectarianism between our religious traditions, I was compelled to ask the Council of Religious Affairs to issue a notice stating that the root from which the poison spread was Zemey’s book and that at this crucial time everyone should think seriously of working together to benefit the teaching of Buddha in general, for creating causes of disunity can never be justified. Following this notice no rejoinder was written from the Gelugpa side, and while no doubt some Nyingmapas considered writing their own rejoinder they restrained themselves, so there was no response from the Nyingma side either. Dongthog wrote his rejoinder being personally a Sakya, but also an admirer of all the religious traditions and their philosophies.

The situation was such that there was a grave risk of conflicts arising. I thought to myself that until now I had stopped Nechung from making any statement, but to do so further wouldn’t be fair on my part. So one day, when I had summoned Nechung in my private apartment; I asked him clearly about the matter.

Eight or nine years ago when Nechung told me it was not appropriate to rely on A-say Khenpo, I told him straightforwardly that it would be better for him to keep quiet about it and the Dharma Protector has maintained silence till now, for which I am grateful. However, it would be unjust of me to continue to restrict Nechung’s statements on the one side, when the other side are able to say what they like. According to legal procedures too, it is not justified to let one side say whatever they wish and to restrict the other side from saying anything. So I told Nechung he could say whatever he had to say and that I would support him by upholding the truth of his statements.

The Dharma Protector took time to relate a number of past and recent historical events concerning Gyalchen Shugden. The gist was that more harm than good comes from relying on Gyalchen Shugden. To be more precise, the kinds of calamity and misfortune that occur and the catastrophes that eventually arise are apparent among the people who are at present relying on Gyalchen Shugden. Also, except for a yogi who has really reached a high level of spiritual insight and relies on Gyalchen in a most secret way, it is more dangerous and more disadvantageous than beneficial if the current practice is continued. Moreover, it is said that relying on Gyalchen Shugden displeases Palden Lhamo. This is what I have understood about Gyalchen.

There has been some debate over whether Nechung and Gyalchen are in harmony or not, but this discord between Lhamo and Gyalchen is a new thing. If there is discord with Lhamo it is of primary concern and extremely important, therefore, I thought it would be good to take every precaution on my part. Until then, it was either the 6th or the 7th month of the Rabbit year, I had recited the invocation prayer as usual, but later, towards the end of winter as the New Year of the Dragon was approaching; it occurred to me to thoroughly examine whether propitiation rituals should be performed this time or not for usually an elaborate propitiation had been conducted at the beginning of every year. I was doing a retreat at the time reciting the six-syllable mantra and the personal mantras of Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyatso, as I had recently received that initiation from Trijang Rinpoche.

The Abbot of the Namgyal Monastery was not here at the time as he had gone to Varanasi for dental treatment. On his return, I decided to prepare for a grand invocation offering to Palden Lhamo prior to performing a dough-ball divination and then implement whatever the result indicated. I put my confidence in this dough-ball divination. It was either on the 15th or the 16th of the last month of the Rabbit year when the Esteemed Abbot returned. On the 18th or 19th, the Esteemed Abbot and I, with 15 monks of Namgyal Monastery, assembled and chanted the invocation prayers of Palden Lhamo. On that day, the weather was stormy and there was thunder and so forth. Before preparing dough-balls for the divination we had recited the ‘Crowning Ceremony Prayers’ (mnga‘a-gsol). As we chanted the line, rnal-‘byor-srung-ma’i-gtzo-bor-mnga’a-gsol-gyi — “I enthrone you as principal protector of yogis” the light went off. The electricity in Dharamsala is unreliable, so I thought I should not jump to any conclusions about it. However, I thought that if it were an omen then of course it would be true. The reason being that Palden Lhamo has been a definitive all-encompassing Dharma Protector from the time of Gyalchog Gendun Drub. Knowing this, I still continued to rely on Gyalchen, so reciting the line, “I enthrone you as the principal protector of yogis” had become somewhat meaningless. It could have been a true omen, because the real situation was different from what that line says.

Three things were written on pieces of paper during the actual preparation of the dough-balls for the divination. On the first piece of paper was written, “It is good to rely continually on Gyalchen”. It had been decided that if this were the outcome there would be no change in the annual and everyday invocation rituals. On the second piece of paper was written, “It is good to rely on Gyalchen in a very secret way”. It this were the outcome, I thought of doing propitiation rituals in private but without involving the assembly of the Namgyal Monastery. I thought of chanting invocation prayers as I do daily. On the third piece of paper was written, “It is good to stop relying on Gyalchen”. I had decided it would not be necessary to chant invocation or propitiation prayers if this were the outcome.

Each of us recited “Jo Dunma” (bhyo-bdun-ma) a thousand times and then chanted the ‘Crowning Ceremony Prayers’. Mindful of the great importance of the matter we rolled up the three pieces of paper while making profound prayers. “Stop relying on Gyalchen” was the final outcome. On the same day, I performed another divination with dough-balls containing the names of a few candidates to be appointed as abbot of Namgyal Monastery and final outcome favored the Esteemed Abbot.

After the dough-ball divination I felt comfortable at heart, for I had arrived at final decision as to what I should and should not do. Likewise, I felt much more confident, if a little surprised, because I could see that things had turned out as Nechung had told me they would. That night, I found it quite hard to stop doing the invocation prayers so I said them before going to bed. Next morning at dawn I had a dream that Trijang Rinpoche was sitting on a pair of soft cushions near the windows of a room where I used to receive Dharma teachings from my two Tutors, Serkong Rinpoche and so on. Trijang Rinpoche was sitting dejectedly on the last cushion near the door, resting his head on the floor-carpet. When I arrived I asked Trijang Rinpoche not to sit like that, saying that if he would like to sleep he could lie down properly on both the cushions with his head away from the door. Trijang Rinpoche replied, “No, I am going now”. “May I offer you a cup of tea?” I asked. “No”, he said, “I am going”. Then I asked, “Oh, may I offer you a cup of hot water ?” and to this he agreed. I took a glass and flask in my hands and poured him some hot water. He drank it and took two light blue tablets of western medicine and then told me he was going, so I came out with him to see him off. Then he left by the back door of my former residence, passed by the stairs and went along by the kitchen and left in that direction. When Trijang Rinpoche had gone, I found men who looked like Khampas, their upper torsos bare, on either side of the office. I thought they had come to see me out of faith. Then I went back to my house. Such was my dream.

When I awoke, I had a thought that Trijang Rinpoche and Gyalchen were extraordinary. It was extremely clear that Gyalchen had caused my dream and that it was a sign from him. Both Nechung’s declaration and Palden Lhamo’s dough-ball divination had indicated that Gyalwa Rinpoche should cease to rely on Gyalchen, although it seemed this had somehow saddened Trijang Rinpoche. However, there was no mistake from my side, Trijang Rinpoche had told me he would be going so I went see him off and in parting we smiled at each other. Only then did things become clear and this was the meaning I found. Moreover, as I had been caught between two parties, Gyalchen – a wrathful deity and my Guru Trijang Rinpoche on the one hand and Nechung and Palden Lhamo on the other, I had a difficult time, not knowing what to do or how to act between them. However, with the result of the dough-ball divination and the clear absence of any sort of negative reaction from Gyalchen in the dream, I felt a sense of relief. It was like having my eyes opened with respect to my personal relationship with Gyalchen and his practice. Because I now had to make changes in the performance of the annual propitiation rituals in full view of the Namgyal monastic assembly, an explanation was imperative, but I felt rather uncomfortable about explaining it to them and I wondered what would be best to do.

Although my own decision about what I should practice and avoid was clear-cut, I was unsure whether I should speak about the matter to others or not, so I threw a “Mo” (dice- divination). The questions I asked were, “Would it be good to keep the outcome of the dough-ball divination to myself without disclosing it to others ?” and “Would it be good to explain to others what I have seen?”. “It is good to tell others” was the result. So, on the same day, I called the Abbot of Namgyal Monastery to my office and asked him, “Was the dough-ball divination we did last time effective or not?” He replied: “In general, there is no question of Gyalwa Rinpoche’s dough-ball divination being effective, it is always effective and would not be anything else. On this particular occasion the dough-ball divination could not fail because “Jo Dunma” was recited a thousand times and it was accompanied by profound prayers”. Assuming it was accurate, I explained to him the complete history of past and recent events.

The Esteemed Abbot and I shared the same opinion and we became “Comrades” as the Chinese say. He was a very confident, magisterial, hard-headed man devoted to the Gelug Tradition and having great faith and respect for Palchen Phurpa (dpal- chen phur-pa). In short, he was a person who followed whatever policy I decided, sincerely and without hesitation. That’s why when he died I was sorry and felt a sense of loss. When I explained to him all that had happened concerning Gyalchen up to the previous day he agreed with me unflinchingly. “Yes. Yes. That’s right”, he said, “I have no misgivings about that”. I sent word through him that it was not necessary to do the annual propitiation ceremony. Sometimes Namgyal Monastery also recited invocation prayers to Gyalchen during their daily invocation rituals and particularly, some time ago, they started saying Gyalchen invocation prayers daily at my house during their evening invocation session. We felt a little uncomfortable to make any sudden changes, big or small, until a suitable occasion arose. The Esteemed Abbot and I decided to make an announcement when such an occasion presented itself. He himself was a person who had entrusted his life to Gyalchen, but he was not restricted over that, he was able to continue to rely on Gyalchen.

These recent events are both secret and inconceivable. In the past, Ra-lotsawa, Darma Do-de, Nyan-lotsawa and so on killed each other through their magical powers. Killing one another is the final result of disharmony. Yogis were killing each other, yet inasmuch as they had become adept in the higher levels of Secret Mantra it is impossible that they had not developed the mind of enlightenment in their mind-streams. A qualified tantric practitioner who possesses Bodhicitta, the altruistic mind to become fully enlightened for the sake of others, will generally not harm even the life of an insect. Accounts of yogis who killed each other in demonstration of their magical powers are controversial, yet such things are inconceivable to the minds of ordinary people like us. Such things occur for another reason and purpose. Explaining this to the Esteemed Abbot, I told him that these things are called very hidden and are thus inconceivable. It had become clear that if Gyalchen is relied on, then a conflict arises with Palden Lhamo and Gyalpo Kun-nga. But then, that is no reason to praise one and despise or disparage the other, we can be neutral. I told him, “There is nothing wrong in your continuing to rely on Gyalchen yourself”. From that night onward however I stopped saying Gyalchen’s invocation prayers and did not even let them resound in my mind. I was able to sleep soundly without the slightest sign of disturbance from Gyalchen. Sometimes I could not sleep because of a rise in blood pressure, but apart from that, there were no interferences which I suspected to be the work of gods or spirits.

Once or twice afterwards I had a dream which I thought was of Gyalchen. Once I dreamed of Trijang Rinpoche sitting in a small room, which he told me had moved to. He was sitting there as a simple monk and said, “I am happy here”. There was a little monk to serve him. I offered him a flower. I thought this was something. Then, on the third day of the New Year, I told the ritual assistant that now, in keeping with the traditions we observed in Tibet, we could confine ourselves to the recitation of Palden Lhamo’s prayers only. I did not make any special mention of Gyalchen. Although at times we used to recite prayers of Gon-Chos-Begtse (mgon-chos-beg-rtze) etc. in addition to the Lhamo prayers, on that occasion, without offering many reasons, I told him that we would recite only those prayers which had been formerly recited in Tibet. At the time, you Namgyal monks might not have noticed anything significant.

On the tenth of the first month of the Dragon Year, Nechung made the following declaration:

“The Red and the Black were given the name oracles and strictly entrusted with the activities of the line of Dalai Lamas but, so to speak: ‘Sending ritual cakes to the northern gate when the devils are residing at the eastern gate should not be done”. I understood his statements to mean that it was not right for a new man to make offerings and prayers to a new god without maintaining the confidence of Palden Lhamo and Gyalpo Ku-nga, who have acknowledged designations. That day the Cabinet were present as usual during the Oracle’s trance and after witnessing it, I called them to my office. I talked over the meaning of the statement with them in detail. I disclosed everything to the Cabinet ministers about how my relationship with the Gyalchen had begun, how his prayers and invocation had been conducted in the meantime and how I had told Nechung to keep silent when he made his first statement about it. I told them how, later, when the “Yellow Book” was published I had maintained impartiality, as one should in a court of justice, and how I then asked Nechung to speak out and what he had said, and finally how, mindful of it’s importance, I had employed the dough-ball divination. I told them that now it was improper for a member of staff who was working for me and the Tibetan Govern­ment to make offerings or prayers to Gyalchen or anyone else except Gyalpo Ku-nga and Palden Lhamo. However, I told them that if an individual personally relied on Gyalchen, then that would a be a matter of his own religious freedom and he could do whatever he wanted, but I made it clear to them that it was incorrect to depend on Gyalchen formally and officially in connection with the Tibetan Government’s affairs, which would be quite a different matter.

After that I sent a message through the Chant-leader and the Disciplinarian to the Esteemed Abbot of Namgyal Monastery stating that from that day onward there was no need for the monastery to say Gyalchen’s invocation prayers or the annual grand propitiation ceremony and thus, they were prohibited. That was done on the tenth of the first month and I think it was on the twelfth that Yongzin Ling Rinpoche returned from Bodhgaya. I went to meet him and explained to him everything that had happened. On the thirteenth I met Trijang Rinpoche on his return from Mysore and I told him in detail all that had occurred.

In reply Trijang Rinpoche said,

If this is what was indicated by Nechung and the dough-ball divination then it must be true. There is no room for deception. As far as Nechung is concerned, I know full well that he gives first class predictions without any error on important issues, and likewise as regards the dough-ball divination, for it was conducted before the ‘thanka of the speaking Palden Lhamo’. After the Great Fifth Dalai Lama had died he revived, while the Desi (Regent) was crying in despair and begging to know how many years he should keep (his death) secret and so forth, and said, “You can decide the less important issues yourself, but more important matters should be decided through dough-ball divination conducted before the ‘thanka of the speaking Palden Lhamo’ , which was the meditational object of His Holiness Gedun Gyatso, for that will be infallible”. This is the very thanka he spoke of. There have never been any mistakes in the dough-ball divination conducted before it, there is absolutely no deception in it. There must certainly be a reason and purpose for that. In general, conflict between Palden Lhamo and Shugden is impossible, but the present discord between them is probably connected with Tibet’s spiritual and political affairs.

Trijang Rinpoche did not believe there was a conflict in general between the two but that the present circumstances arose from the spiritual and political affairs concerning the Government. During the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama many common and uncommon circumstances occurred which could have given rise to this. Such was the explanation Trijang Rinpoche gave. Anyway, he had been told everything and I also felt very relieved. Then, Trijang Rinpoche said to me, “Would it not be good to give the thanka you have to someone who is relying on Gyalchen?” I replied that I did not remember I had a thanka of Gyalchen and that I had forgotten it until now. I wondered whether it would be all right to keep it with the rest of the thankas. I thought that if for some reason I could not keep it I would offer it to Trijang Rinpoche and that I would decide whether to keep it or not either by dough-ball divination or by asking Nechung.

The next day, the fourteenth, happened to be the occasion for the State Oracle’s (Nechung‘s) New Year prophecy in my private apartment. At that time I asked for guidance, saying that I was happy to have received his unequivocal declaration recently, which had been confirmed by the result of the dough-ball divination. I said that on my part I would follow this course with regard to what I should observe and what I should give up. I told him I had a thanka of Gyalchen which I would keep if it were all right to do so, otherwise I would offer it to Trijang Rinpoche and asked which would be better. The Dharma-protector replied ferociously, “It should be removed immediately from the residence of Loppon Thongva Donden (ie. The Dalai Lama)”. After the Oracle’s trance I sent the Ritual Assistant at once to offer the thanka to Trijang Rinpoche. In that way I did away with it. Well, that’s once chapter of the story.


Sometime later when I was doing retreat on the “Kagyad Chidril” (bka’a-brgyad spyi-dril), which forms part of the “Dag nang gya chen” (dag-snang rgya-can) of the Nyingma tradition, I had number of good omens in my dreams, which I won’t tell you now because they are not relevant to the present context, and just before my departure to Ladakh to give the Kalacakra Initiation in the mid-summer of the Dragon Year, I received a letter requesting divination from Jangtse:    College of the Ganden Monastic University. The letter said: “For sometime now various misfortunes have continuously befallen Jangtse College and many students are experiencing difficulties. General divinations have shown that there seems to be some negative reaction from a protector. Sometime ago advice was sought from Trijang Rinpoche and a new “Tan-zas” (rten-rdzas) was created for Palden Lhamo and a grand propitiation ceremony was properly performed. Please examine by divination whether there is still a negative reaction from Palden Lhamo at present”. This letter requesting divination was brought to me by Serkong Rinpoche.

Palden Lhamo

Palden Lhamo

Ganden Jangtse is a monastic college where Je-Rinpoche’s doctrine is preserved and students train accordingly. Due to the kindness of Jangtse monastic college in training their students many qualified and obliging scholars have arisen, such as Serkong Rinpoche and the Esteemed Abbot whom I am employing at present. Now if such a monastic college where students engaged in study and practice where to experience deterioration, it would have an adverse effect on Je-Rinpoche’s doctrine, so the matter is quite important. I thought it would not be right for me to make a decision through a hasty divination, for they had made a request to me because they were unable to judge for themselves. Mindful of the importance of the matter I did a dough-ball divination. I enquired whether the misfortunes constantly befalling Jangtse monastic college were due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo or not, the result was: “It is due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo”. I did another dough-ball divination, if there is a conflict with Palden Lhamo, is it due to some other factor or it is because of too great a dependence on Gyalchen. “There is a conflict with Palden Lhamo because of too great a dependence on Gyalchen” was the outcome. Although the first response was – “It is due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo; because the second outcome was — “There is a conflict with Palden Lhamo because of too great a dependence on Gyalchen”, I felt quite confident about it.

However, I could not judge how people would react or what opinions they would form if I were to mention this in a letter or not. Nevertheless it would not be correct for me to give an account which differed from the facts because they had turned to me because the matter was so important. I had difficulty in deciding what to do, so I called Serkong Rinpoche and the Esteemed Abbot and told them the outcome of the two dough-ball divination I had done at the request of Jangtse monastic college and to which I had attached great importance. I told them I was in a quandary for it was expedient neither to explain the matter clearly nor to remain silent. I discussed with them what, from their point of view, would be the best course to follow.

In the end I did not write the specific details, but confirmed that the problem was due to a conflict with Palden Lhamo and that, therefore, full faith and confidence should be given mainly to Palden Lhamo. I wrote that every precaution should be taken with regard to new protectors other than those who had been relied on in the past and in this way I gave them a hint. I told Serkong Rinpoche and the Esteemed Abbot that they could both give a proper explanation to dependable monks of Jangtse monastic college when the time was right. Both of them sent oral messages with the monk who came to receive the response to the request for divination and it seems they sent letters too.

In Jangtse monastic college there were many monks who had received the “Life Entrustment” of Gyalchen and who had been reciting the propitiation and invocation prayers to him in the assembly hall and after this they made little change in terms of abbreviation. Later, I met Abbot Yeshe Thupten of Loling Monastic College, Abbot Gedun Zangpo of Jangtse Monastic College and Abbot Lekden of Sera-Je Monastic College when they came here for the Annual General Meeting of the Dragon Year (1976). I gave them a full explanation and I even asked Abbot Gedun Zangpo of Jangtse Monastic College what he had done in his college — he said changes had been made in the recitations done in the assembly hall and so forth. After I had given this thorough explanation it seems that the Esteemed Abbot reviewed the situation in Namgyal Monastery once more.

Gyalchen Dorje Shugden / Dholgyal

Gyalchen Dorje Shugden / Dholgyal

Last year I received a second letter requesting divination as I was about to leave for south India. The letter said that the prayers which had been recommended following the divination requested the previous year had been completed and requested a further divination to examine whether the conflict with Palden Lhamo had subsided and whether the matter was now clearly settled. I personally gave great importance to this. Usually, when I have to make an important journey I make a thousand ‘tsog’ offerings to Palden Lhamo and on this occasion together with a grand propitiation I did a dough-ball divination. When I enquired whether the discord between Palden Lhamo and Jangtse Monastic College had subsided or not, the outcome was —” Even now it has not subsided”; Therefore, I did another divination to discover what to do in order to mitigate it. I asked, “Is it necessary to accumulate prayers of confession and propitiation to Palden Lhamo and make a great offerings to her in the assembly?” or “Should reliance upon Gyalchen be restricted more rigorously?” The outcome was that reliance on Gyalchen should be more severely restricted. As I was about to go to Mysore, I did not send a letter to give an account of the divination.

After arriving in Mysore I had a discussion with the Abbot of Jangtse Monastic College. I told him the outcome of the second dough-ball divination which I had recently done and asked him what he thought was best to do. He requested me to explain the matter to a group of the staff and Geshes of Jangtse Monastic College and advise them. So on the day I visited Ganden I gave a brief explanation, in a small private room at Jangtse, to a group of about ten, the Abbot, Chant-leader and some of the Senior Geshes of Jangtse, concerning the earlier and later divinations I had done on behalf of Jangtse. As there was no need to tell my own story, I did not.

To sum up, if you think and gain some understanding of these matters, you will see that now and in the past I have taken into consideration everything that occurred and have taken no hasty decision which would later be a cause for regret. A series of examinations were conducted and results were checked and weighed against each other, which indicated that if one relies on Gyalchen then a conflict with Palden Lhamo arises as was mentioned on different occasions. Although the importance of the Oracle’s predictions and divinations is difficult to assess, considering them and omens I received in dreams, the indications were extremely clear.

I almost forgot to tell you this; when I first asked Nechung about Gyalchen, in his reply he said clearly, “There is more harm than good in relying on Gyalchen. For that reason, when the previous Dalai Lama was alive, I, the spirit, had informed him in his very presence of such matters”. Moreover, when Gyalchen was studied and investigated and detailed information was collected there were strong indications that Nechung was antagonistic on different occasions during the time of Gowo Choezur (a former Nechung Oracle), when both the Government and private individuals relied on Gyalchen. This information has been kept alive in the oral traditions of the senior Geshes from Drepung. Similarly, a prophecy previously given at Drepung asks “How can it be that the Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen is born as a spirit ?” I gained a clear understanding of that from one of my dreams, but it is difficult to say whether that is reliable. Moreover, another oral tradition of some senior Geshes from Drepung has this to say: “There was discordance between Nechung and Kyabje Phabongka”.

Furthermore, when Dakyab Togden, the disciple of Je-Phabongka, visited many Gelugpa Monasteries in Kham, because he relied strongly on Shugden it seems Gyalchen became widely known in those areas. When I examined the many monasteries, labrangs and families who have established a new relationship with Gyalchen over the years, it seemed many calamities had eventually befallen them. Anyway, I have come to a definite understanding of how these matters came about from both the dough-ball divinations and Nechung’s predictions and when I investigated accounts related to these things as well as events that I have witnessed myself I could see that something strange [line missing]

Accordingly, a summary of the outcome of the questions and doubts presented to Nechung incidentally during the course of trance is as follows: One of the main reasons for Palden Lhamo’s displeasure is that while the guardians of the Gelugpa doctrine are protectors of all three levels of practitioners, because they do not seem to be enough, a protector with a new face is becoming more popular than all the others.

Another reason is that Palden Lhamo is the exclusive protector in whom the line Dalai Lamas have placed complete trust; because a new wrathful protector has been relied upon, as if in competition with her, she has become displeased. What’s more, it seems that the present Gyalchen, who has an aggressive nature, is neither an incarnation of Panchen Sonam Dragpa nor an incarnation of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsan. If you ask, then who is he? It seems that he is someone who made evil prayers. For that reason anyone who strongly relies on Gyalchen is eventually subject to various calamities, whatever he may do. Sometimes there are disturbances in the general cause of Tibet headed by Gyalwa Rinpoche, one of the conditions for which seems to have been the exploits of this protector.

Nechung, the Chief State Oracle of Tibet

Nechung oracle

I asked Nechung, “If that were the case, how was it that Kyabje Phabongka, who was a true yogi and a fully qualified, spiritually realized lama accepted him as a qualified Dharma Protector? And how was it that the lineage of this protector’s ‘Life Entrustment’ practice originated from a vision of Dulzin Dragpa Gyaltsen received by Tagp’u Dorje Chang?” The protector told me in great confidence that the Maha Vidhyadhara (rig-‘dzin chen-po), referring to Kyabje Phabongka, had made great mistakes in the latter part of his life. “But that is not to say that I, Pekar Gyalpo, am displeased by the great errors which took place. However, you will understand if you examine what misfortunes and misjudgments occurred during the last phase of activities of the Maha Vidhdhara’s life”. He told me, “You will understand if you examine what kind of bad omens occurred at the time of the death of his re-incarnation in India. Not only that,” he added, “the line of his successive incarnations will not be able to bring their life’s work to completion”.

Many people know that Kyabje Phabongka faced difficulties, but many people thought that because of his great reputation and his service to the Gelugpa doctrine that other schools of tenets such as the Nyingmapas had cast spells on him, so the Nyingmapas were blamed for his difficulties. However, the facts seem to differ from that, for it seems that hid difficulties occurred as a punishment from the Black and the Red protectors (Nechung and Palden Lhamo).

Now with regard to visions there are two types; visions arising from the three sources of divine blessing and visions arising by force of harmful interferences. I doubt that this is a case of a vision caused by harmful interferences. There are critical as well as urgent matters like this which one dares not speak openly about. A few years ago, around the time that Nechung had just given his first prediction (about Gyalchen), I had a dream of Kyabje Phabongka telling me that I should embrace the “Life Entrustment” practise of Gyalchen. Ling Rinpoche’s chief attendant came in front of him and said that it would be all right. However, I was terrified and very upset because a scar on Phabongka’s wrist was bleeding. Now after some reflection I have realized that this was probably an illusory display by harmful interferences. But this is a digression.

The matters I have explained were of an extremely urgent nature and unable to bear the responsibility alone, I first told everything to Yongzin Tri Rinpoche (Ling Rinpoche) in detail, but he was not that upset. After that I told everything to Trijang Rinpoche, for I felt that if I were not to tell him, my conscience would weigh heavily on me, but when the time came I felt as if I dared not tell him. That notwithstanding, until now Trijang Rinpoche’s life, deeds and beneficial activity have been nobly fulfilled throughout and as long as the Buddha’s Teachings do not decline in Tibet, Kyabje Rinpoche’s manifestations must come because of his compassionate thought and the firm pledges he has made. From our side too, we should make prayers and wishes accordingly. In such matters it is not good if anything should go wrong. Trijang Rinpoche’s reliance on Gyalchen is not something he has begun anew in this life, for he has relied on him since his previous incarnation and there is no need for him to stop now. However, Palden Lhamo is pre-eminent, below are Gyalpo Kunga like the treasurer who holds chief responsibility in a family, while Shugden should be seen as an ordinary store-keeper working under him. In other words, if he is regarded like a local deity or a personal birth deity and is propitiated and invoked in that way, I think, that would be all right. If, however, one were to think of his having equal status with Gyalpo Ku-nga or even higher status then them, then there is a danger of conflict with Gyalpo Ku-nga. Although Kyabje Phabongka was an inconceivably great lama that is what happened to him. I explained clearly to Trijang Rinpoche that this should be borne in mind. Yongzin Tri Rinpoche has not had any difficulties in his activities, but then he was formerly a hard-headed Geshe from Drepung.

So, this is how the two Tutors came to know of these matters and understood them thoroughly. I told Trijang Rinpoche that these issues concerning Gyalchen were very sensitive and that I was placing a restriction on Gyalchen, different people — some with knowledge and others without knowledge — would come to seek his advice. As he was aware of all the causes of the early and later events, I asked him to please give advice on such occasions, which suit the dispositions of his questioners, because a word of advice given by Trijang Rinpoche would carry greater weight with those who rely on Gyalchen than a hundred or thousand explanations that I might give them. Gyalchen is relied on chiefly by Trijang Rinpoche; if after understanding the purpose and reason he, who actually depends on Gyalchen, were to give an explanation, others would certainly believe it. Although I am giving an explanation, some people believe in it whereas others don’t. Therefore, I suggested, it would be good if Trijang Rinpoche were to give such advice, similarly, I also asked Yongzin Tri Rinpoche to give such, advice.

Apart from a little explanation I have given to a few trustworthy ex-abbots and Geshes when we met, I have never said a word about this to a large gathering until now. When I examined how it would be if I were now to explain recent matters to a general assembly of Namgyal and Nechung monks the result was good, and accordingly, I have today given such an explanation to all of you gathered here. Have you understood […] Remember the series of events both before and after. You will understand that this restriction is not being imposed because of my likes and dislikes if you look for yourselves into the conditions from which these events developed over a period. This matter has become a very sensitive topic, so you should each take great care, people may give you different information or may come to clear their doubts about what they have heard. If you have occasion to give an explanation, then what I have told you today are the bare facts, if you base your account on them, the meaning will be understood by people with an unprejudiced outlook, who are prepared to apply reasoning. So, if you have an opportunity to give such an explanation, well and good.

We have here religious communities of Namgyal, Nechung and the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges who are responsible for performing rituals. I have already told both the Abbots and Lama Umzed (Monk-Prefects) of both the Upper and Lower Tantric Colleges and they know everything. Among those of you who go out to perform rituals, I told the monks of Namgyal Monastery last year not to recite Gyalchen prayers, if someone outside requests you to recite Gyalchen prayers, you can say that the monastery does not do that practice. Even if it is inconvenient for monks of the two Tantric Colleges, who visit private households to perform rituals, to discontinue this practice all at once, it will be better if they can avoid it.

You Tantric Colleges have two Dharma protectors whose practi­ces have been continued from Jetsun Sherab Sengye and his spiritual sons, what need is there for more: It would be absurd if the elaborate performance of “Trochu” (khro-bcu) and the offering of Druqchu-ma (sixty section ritual cakes) were an insufficient practice. It is best if we pursue our own studies and follow the traditional way handed down by previous lamas without omitting or super-imposing anything.

There will be nothing insufficient in doing that. Would it not be better not to have to do so many ostentatious propitiations? However, if it can’t be helped and you feel obliged to recite it out of deference to a considerate benefactor, I think it would be better if you could say it in an abridged form. If you need to recite other prayers which are not included in the repertoire of one of the Tantric colleges you should consider prayers to Palden Lhamo and Ku-nga as principal. If you should have to recite prayers to Gyalchen, apart from the abbreviated invocation prayers, it would be better not to accord him the same honour and respect given to Dalha Gyalpo (dgra-lha’i rgyal-po), the king of Guardian-Protectors. Now have you all understood? I explained this roughly to the teacher of the School of Dialectics last year, but today he has understood the matter in every detail. If there is interest among your fellow Geshes and friends and also if you feel it is convenient to tell them, you can explain this to them. Have you understood? It is good if you can understand the state of affairs clearly, [missing] if you upset through not understanding them.

Zemey Rinpoche

Zemey Rinpoche

Now matters concerning Venerable Zemey, which are related to the publication of his book. To begin with when his name was on the list of candidates for the seat of Lama Umzey at the Upper Tantric College I threw a “Mo” first concerning Venerable Lati, then Zemey and after that the names of Geshes in order, but the outcome was not at all favourable to Zemey. Not knowing what to do I left it for a few months. Around that time the Venerable former Abbot of Namgyal came to see me and I told him that the outcome of the “Mo” concerning the candidates for the Lama Umzey’s seat had not been good and asked him, “Is there a better, candidate?” He told me that the assembly of the Tantric College had great hopes for Zemey Rinpoche. I replied that it was true, that he was qualified and could shoulder the responsibility. Immediately after this meeting I threw a “Mo” concerning Zemey Rinpoche himself, but the outcome was still no good. I thought it was strange and again, left it for a while. Then, after another one or two months I threw a “Mo” once more thinking that it would not be right if a final decision about the position of “Gyupa Lama Umzey” were not taken soon, but the outcome was not good at all.

Anyway, there were obstacles to Zemey Rinpoche in the three “Mos” I have thrown. Around about the time that there were those obstructions, the yellow book had just been published, so it seems that the result of the “Mos” had not been good because he had created powerful causes which would inevitably result in his punishment before long. If the “Mo” had been favorable and he had become Lama Umzey of the Upper Tantric College, and his book had then been published and caused trouble, then his position would have become more established – it’s quite remarkable. That’s enough —Tashi Delek.

END OF TALK ONE line-gothic

Background of the second talk:  An excerpt concerning reliance on gods and protectors from a talk given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to a gathering of abbots, lamas, workers and senior monks of the Drepung, Ganden, Sakya and Nyingma Monasteries at Mundgod (India) on the 25th of June, 1980.

Of late the way of relying on the Dharma Protectors has become something of an issue and in fact you already know something about it. I thought that as a group of responsible people has gathered it might be helpful if I were to say something about it. You have had difficulties over this and I too have had complications and problems. Up to now I had thought that these would be overcome, if I personally, in a bit to solve the problem, discarded some things and adopted others. But in the course of this, as the saying goes, “You bang your head when you get up and hurt your bottom when you sit down”, I was in the difficult position of not knowing what to do. There have been many authentic cases of people experiencing mishaps and failures due to this issue of protectors; yet most did not know what the underlying cause was. Although I did know what it was, it was neither proper to keep silent knowingly, nor was it proper to talk about it. This was the quandary I was in. Obviously, you also had problems in not knowing what to do. Although those of you from Jangtse College were in difficulties about what to do, nevertheless you listened to me and appreciated the situation as far as you were able.

I have never reacted like a startled rabbit with respect to this matter, taking rash steps without any investigation. Not taking Nechung’s declarations simply on trust, I have done a series of investigations over the years. Since the time of the Victorious Gedun Gyatso, the Second Dalai Lama, Nechung has been one of the two state protectors referred to as the Red and the Black protectors, who have had special connection with Tibet’s Ganden Podrang Government. He has not been created at some later stage and more important, he is a deity who has never let us down. But when it comes to Gyalchen, I have been particularly cautious. If you ask what definite conclusions I have come to, I cannot say what the ultimate inconceivable identity of Gyalchen may be. If, amongst human beings who we can see directly with our own eyes, we can not gauge the nature of another, how then can we know the nature of a deity? However, if you are a person who relies mainly on Lhamo (Shri Devi), and Gyalpo Ku-nga (the Five State Guardians), it is certain that in terms of practical life they somehow do not approve of reliance on Gyalchen. From an historical point of view there was certainly a plan for Gyalchen in the begi­nning, however, I have the impression that things did not go well according to the initial scheme. Whether a mistake occurred or some mischief slipped in some way or another, it seems the matter is fraught with problems.

According to those who normally take Gyalchen as a valid protector it was Nechung who induced him initially and provided the provocative condition, so they need to rely on Nechung to trace Gyalchen’s origin. If Nechung’s support is needed, the way things stand at the moment it may be that I know Nechung better then any under the sky and when I examine all the relevant matters from beginning to end it is quite clear that Nechung Dorjee Drakden does not favor a person who turns to Gyalchen. Whether the time is not ripe or whatever the reason may be, it is hundred percent certain that under the present circumstances he is unsuitable and brings more loss than gain. Similarly, it is certain that mishaps have occurred when persons relying on Palden Lhamo turn to Gyalchen.

We have made blunders because our sense of discrimination has become like the grazing habits of a blind yak, for if we examine the works and lives of many lamas things are otherwise. For instance, I have recently read the biography of Chang-kya Rol-pey Dorjee (1717-1786) written by Thue-kan Choe-kyi Nyima (1737- 1802). On page 251 of the edition published by the Lower Lhasa Publishing House (Sholpar) it says: “One day, when Chang-kya Rinpoche was walking with Thue-kan on the Ganden circumambulatory path they saw an unidentified footprint, Chang-kya Rinpoche playfully said to Thue-kan, ‘It is the foot print of Nyingmapa, you disciples of Phurbu Chogpa (Phurchog Ngawang Jampa 1882- 1762) had better avoid it.’ Right after this he also said to Thue-kan, since Je Lama (Tsong Kha-pa, 1357-1419) and his sons did not depend on worldly protectors, even the cairn of his (Tsong Kha-pa’s) birth-deity, Ma-chen (rma-chen) was not accommodated within the (Ganden) circumambulatory path. Once because some Ganden Throne-holder had experienced many misfortunes after turning to Dhol-gyal, the then Great Throne-holder Vajra Dhara, demolished the monumental abode of Dhol-gyal and banished him from the monastery.”

The biography was about Chang-kya Rol-pey Dorjee, written by Thue-kan Cho-kyi Nyima. Trichen Dorje Chang, the Great Throne-holder Vajra Dhara cited in the account as an example, refers to the Victorious Kelsang Gyatso’s (The Seventh Dalai Lama, 1708-1757) tutor, the first Reting, the then Great Ganden Throne-holder, Ngawang Chogden (1665-1751). This account was related about Trichen Ngawang Chogden, a purely Gelugpa lama, unlike the Victorious Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682) who was not allied to just one Dharma tradition; it was narrated by Chang-kya Rol-pay Dorjee and written down by Thue-ken Cho-kyi Nyima. So, this is a story concerning three prominent lamas of the Gelugpa order, which shows that from early times this issue has been very troublesome.

Some great learned and spiritually evolved persons have proclaimed (Gyalchen) as a valid protector and even in their personal lives they have achieved amazing success; there are such persons to this day who we can see for ourselves. On the other hand as I told you just a while ago, the story of Gyalchen has been murky since quite early time. It is because of this that I have had to explain the situation and suggest some restrictions. However, I have not done this for political reasons or other purposes.

Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche has, not only in the present life, but also from previous times had a close rapport with Shugden and has treated him as exceptional. From beginning to end I have fully informed Kyabje Rinpoche of this matter and he knows all about it; I am not talking about something he doesn’t know behind his back. The principal sources of this matter have been derived from dough-ball divinations conducted before Lhamo and the decrees of the Dharma Protector Dorje Drakden (Nechung). As for Nechung, Kyabje Rinpoche affirms from his own experience that he is absolutely reliable. He said, “Never has Nechung failed in crucial moments; certainly there must be reason for his speaking thus.” Similarly when I also told him about the former and later instances of the dough-ball divination, except for saying, “the dough-ball examination conducted before Lhamo is never misleading, there must be an inconceivable reason and purpose (for that).” He never acted as if he had misgivings about the outcome of the tests, and because of this I feel at ease. I am by no means ignoring or deriding Trijang Rinpoche but it is possible that some, failing to understand things well, may feel apprehensive about this. This is the complete account of the earlier and later causes of this issue.

Now, if an individual personally has a special karmic relationship with Gyalchen or through his own experience has found him favorable or his teacher after perceiving some significance has instructed him to turn to him and propitiate him, since he is at liberty to practice religion, he is free to decide what religion to practice. Similarly, he is free to decide what protector to rely on; no one can say this is allowed or not allowed. It is his own choice.

However, just as I have told you, if a person treats Lhamo and Gyalpo Ku-nga as pre-eminent then there are stories of mishaps occurring if he then relies on Gyalchen. Therefore, I feel it will be beneficial if the collective religious bodies like the monasteries and their colleges are cautious about this; they are not at fault if they have been unaware of this issue. I too nearly took a disastrous step, I had recited Gyalchen’s invocation prayers very diligently and even informed Kyabje Rinpoche of my wish to receive “Life Entrustment.” Later sensing something amiss I thought, “Now, if I am not careful this won’t be safe”. I conducted a dough-ball examination and dice divination which were so convincing that since 1975 I have completely stopped the practice. I have not even had a portentous dream to make me wonder if the deity was vexed.

If we examine the history of Lhamo and the Five State Guardians they are found to have been inconceivably reliable. Can you tell how long the Drepungpas have relied on Lhamo? Is there any special account of her during Jamyang Choje’s (1379-1449) time? I wonder if she didn’t enter the picture at the time of the Victorious Gedun Gyatso (1475-1242), because “The Lord of Siddhas” (grdub-pa’i dbang-phyug) which is recited in the assembly today was presumably written and offered by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso (1423-1513) to the Victorious Gedun Gyatso as a long life prayer. Normally speaking there is no way that a work by Khedrup Norsang Gyatso would find a place in the Drepung Assembly prayers, but he and the Victorious Gedun Gyatso had an extraordinary mutual teacher and student relationship and while the Victorious Gedun Gyatso was serving his term as the Drepung Throne-Holder he incorporated the prayer for the fulfillment of wishes along with prayers invoking Lhamo into the Drepung Assembly recitations.

Let me digress, although no great purpose is served in relating a story from my dreams, still I think it will do no harm. One year, I dreamt that I was on the top of the Potala Palace, facing Drepung yet at the same time I was in the belly of Palden Lhamo and seemed to experience the clear light. While I was looking at Drepung Monastery, the melodious chanting of Lhamo’s invocation prayer rang clearly in my ears, and a man said to me, “This was incorporated into the Drepung Assembly recitations by the Victorious Gedun Gyatso, who also taught the tune.”

Considering the nature of the story I have told you, I wondered if this dream was not connected with it. So, there are many reasons why many highly qualified persons chose Lhamo and Gyalpo Ku-nga as protectors. Since they are infallible we can be quite at ease; they are protectors who we can by no means afford to abandon. On the other hand there is no need of those protectors who are fraught with complications and about whom we require many explanations to determine who they actually are.

END OF TALK TWO line-gothic

Background of the third talk:  An excerpt concerning reliance on the Dharma Protectors from a talk given by His Holiness, on the 18th July, 1980 at the Sera Religious Establishment to a meeting of ex-abbots, abbots, workers, a group of senior monks and the members of the Bylakuppe Regional Working Committee of the Tibetan Youth Congress and others.

It occurred to me that I should say something about the issue of Dharma Protectors. You have had a hard time with this, but that is not your fault. With regard to myself, I too have really had great difficulties with respect to reliance on the protectors.

Formerly, I too used to rely on Gyalchen and I recited his invocation prayers without a break. I even informed Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche of my wish to receive “Life Entrustment” from him and Kyabje Rinpoche had then got hold of a Lam-rim text needed during the “Life Entrustment” ritual. (Since this was later changed, he gave me the scripture separately). Hence, I also got caught in a great dilemma. The tussel was between my teacher Kyabje Rinpoche and a ferocious deity on one hand and mainly Palden Lhamo and the Gyalpo Ku-nga on the other. I was between the two. Since I am among the incarnations of the Lord Gendun Drup, the first Dalai Lama (1391-1474), it would be unbecoming if I did not conform my actions to the practices of the line of former incarnations of the Victorious Lords (the Dalai Lamas) and their glorious lives. In particular, beginning with the Peerless Fifth Dalai Lama the responsibility for wielding secular power of Tibet has fallen on the Dalai Lamas. Since I am shouldering responsibility for Tibet’s religious and secular affairs at present whether successfully or otherwise, Palden Lhamo and Dorje Drakden, the minister of the king of speech of the North direction, who is the embodiment of the Gyalpo Ku-nga, being the principal protectors relied upon by Tibet Ganden Podrang Government have an extraordinary connection with this responsibility. Some former officials have remarked that the past administration of Tibetan Government was entrusted to deities. It seems they were right, decisions were not simply taken by men after deliberation, instead a deity was consulted and then rituals were performed. If the administration was entrusted to a deity, it would be strange if that deity was then left unsa­tisfied, otherwise men would have find their own means. As it was deity-orientated, it would have been pointless if the deity in whom the decision-making power was invested were not gratified.

For instance, at the beginning of the Chinese intrusion, when I was still young, whenever the Government performed the summer and winter and other invocations of Nechung, he showed signs of being pleased before me and gave scrupulous advice on matters concerning Gyalwa Rinpoche’s (my) personal security. But when asked on the religious and secular matters he would only burst into taunting laughter. On occasion Gadong was used as an inter­mediary to invite Nechung and in view of the critical period Tibet’s religion and politics were passing through, the cabinet fervently requested Nechung to give clear-cut directions, but laughing a scornful HA-HA he disappeared.

Beginning around 1952 I started invoking Nechung in my private apartment and our relations gradually improved. As we became closer Nechung’s decrees became clearer and he started taking greater initiative in Tibet’s religious and political affairs. These days, for instance, whatever reluctance or divine resentment Nechung may have had, it has completely left him. After the flare-up of the controversy over the religious protectors in particular, I felt a sudden change in his attitude, like a dramatic change in the weather, and at that time I also had some very extraordinary dreams. Basically the source of discord came from Palden Lhamo’s side. From then on, as it became clearer and easier for me to decide which protectors to turn to and which to avoid, I began to have greater success correspondingly. Just as I began to achieve greater success in my work there were clear indications that Tibet’s religious and secular affairs, which are connected with my work, simultaneously started looking up. Basically it is luck; along with an increase in luck, success is related to the virtuous assistance of the protectors as a precondition.

In the same vein, I have written prayers invoking Tibet’s guardian deities and protectors. As I wrote them I wept, thinking of the plight of Tibet and how Tibet’s guardian deities and protectors, such as the Twelve Guardian Goddesses (bstan-ma bcu- gnyis), who are under the strict command of Acharya Padma Sambhava and who like we human refugees have become miserable without leadership and refuge. I am just a single-handed man.

I do not have any qualities or power of either a spiritual or worldly nature and although I am equal among men, because I bear the title of Gyalwa Rinpoche, the Precious Victor, I have tried to cheer up Tibet’s guardian deities and protectors. It is distressing, for among them, some like Wo-De Gong Gyal and Machen Bomra etc. are indigenous to Tibet and it is as though we are from the same stock. Anyhow, many conditions prompted me to compose these invocation prayers and they proved very beneficial.

In this way, through my own experience I have seen that many things have been verified. I have examined things from various angles and in conclusion, although I am not saying that Gyalchen is imperfect, however, it is quite clear that if a person depends mainly on Palden Lhamo and the Gyalpo Ku-nga, whether the dependent is an individual high lama or a monastery or a college, it is detrimental then to turn chiefly to Shugden.

It is like raising a huge building here at the Sera religious establishment, if things are done elaborately, they may look splendid for a short while, but as pomposity increased, there will be more gossip about it and this will eventually create a rift in the community. Fearing you would feel very upset if I had to speak about it after the building was complete and its interior decoration and fittings were installed, I thought, “What if I tell them about it from the outset, then it will be up to the monks to listen or not. Since the long term interest and the interests of the majority are the most important, although some may not like it at the time, I had better tell them about it clearly so there won’t be any cause for regret later”. This why I wrote you a letter. As you have unswerving faith and commitment to Gyalwa Rinpoche, I felt happy when you a heeded me and said you would do exactly as I told you. Although you had difficulties in doing so because you remained silent it has worked very well. I must say, “Thank You”.

I have distributed to each of the colleges a transcribed copy of a talk I gave sometime ago at Dharamsala concerning the causes of the issue of the Dharma Protectors, hoping that it could be understood with impartiality by those who would really like to know. But if it isn’t properly understood, it will be pointless if it is misused only to spread rumor and gossip. As the causes were explained in detail in that talk I need not spell them out here again.

I have told the whole of this story, from beginning to end, directly and clearly to Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche. And Kyabje Rinpoche said:

These investigations were done most thoroughly. Nechung’s declarations have never failed us at critical moments, the dough-ball examinations conducted before Lhamo in your apartment are the same. After the Fifth Dalai Lama had breathed his last, the Desi desperately prayed to His Holiness for guidance because the responsibility for the completion of the building of the Palace etc. had fallen on him. His Holiness revived once more and said to the Desi, ‘Don’t be so depressed, you can decide general matters through your own discretion; as for those you can not decide, conduct a dough- ball examination before this thanka painting of Lhamo which was the chief object of worship and reliance of the Victorious Gendun Gyatso.’ No one to this day has ever been deceived by a dough-ball examination done in front of this thanka. There must be special significance behind this.

That is what Kyabje Rinpoche himself told me. It seems, that some people who haven’t understood the situation are saying that Gyalwa Rinpoche’s guru-devotion practice has degenerated and that he is rising against his two tutors. Whatever they may say, it doesn’t make any difference to me, for as we say, “You must be true to yourself”. If you haven’t done anything wrong, then that’s that. It is possible that some who are unaware of the matter may wonder, “Now, what is this?” Well, I have told you how the story goes. Besides this, I explained it to Kyabje Rinpoche himself and that as far as he is concerned, being the chief disciple of Kyabje Phabongka he is following his guru’s practice in relying on Gyalchen and having a connection with Gyalchen from his former lives, he hasn’t created a new one which didn’t exist before, so that he needn’t abandon Gyalchen, but I requested him to consider two things; that it is imperative not to misjudge who is the chief and who is the subordinate protector and that what may happen in future lives is uncertain, although he has had a successful career in this present life.

I haven’t been like those who will say behind someone’s back what they can’t say to his face or who bully a person who can be bullied and roll up in meekness when he can’t. So this is how things are in general.

Whether you are from Je College or Mey College or an individual house, you must hold as pre-eminent the protector who has been assigned by the founder of the monastery or the college. Apart from that, there is no point in adding new ones to those you already have anti being over-elaborate about them. But if an individual through his karmic relations with Gyalchen has received tangible and commonly acknowledged results, then that is an exception. Otherwise things can turn out worse than better if you indulge in various elaborations. I nearly did the same; I, who am called ‘The All Knowing One’, and who bear that title nearly fell under the influence of ignorance. Thus, there is a danger that you too might fall under the same influence. So, you must all be particularly careful.

Now, as for Gyalchen’s story; basically Gyalchen is established as valid by citing Nechung as the source. There is an account which says that in the beginning Nechung’s miracles evoked him, intermediately, Nechung induced Panchen Sonam Dragpa and finally, Nechung made him meet with a condition (to rise as Gyalchen). If Nechung has to be depended on, then today under this sky no one knows Nechung better than I do; and after thinking about it and investigating it I find that there is no support or backing from Nechung.

A plan had been drawn up in the beginning but owing to some obstacles it did not meet with success. Though I do not have any clairvoyance, I have done thorough investigations from various angles. May be I am being stubborn, but even if something is stated by lamas I examine it by comparing and contrasting it with what Je Rinpoche has said. Similarly I do not simply take for granted what a Dharma Protector has said. I think about it, and even do divination myself. Thus, I am very careful and cautious, and do not act rashly. That is my nature.

About Nechung, I inquired through Gadong whether Nechung’s judgement has been direct and unerring both in Tibet and after coming to India, “He can be trusted completely” was the answer. Presumably, there are some who speculate that this issue has arisen because I listen credulously to Nechung and that there is disharmony between Nechung and Gyalchen, which is like some ordinary jealousy between them. Basically, Palden Lhamo is at the root of this.

Moreover, if we Gelugpas accept the validity of popular conventions, we must conform to what is widely known in the world. What is called inconceivable and secret is a different matter. Just as we found yesterday, in the Golden Garland Of Good Explanation (legs-bshad gser-phreng) that the presentation of popular conventions would be inexplicable if we had to base them on the miraculous transformation of an instant into an aeon and aeon into an instant by the high level Arya Bodhisattvas. Similarly, we cannot base our practices of abandonment and accomplishment on the inconceivable secrets which are only within the Tathagatas field of experience. Thus, we must go by what is most widely accepted in the world. If we do this, then it is doubtful whether the present Gyalchen is the next birth of the continuum of Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen or whether Tulku Dragpa Gyaltsen was the reincarnation of Dulzin Drakpa Gyaltsen. Even if we assume he was, still this business arose not out of harmony, but from the disharmony between Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and the Victorious Fifth Dalai Lama, as is evident if you read his biography. If we say that the well-known things mentioned in the biography were for the sake of less intelligent disciples or were related from the point of view of worldly conventions, and that matters of inconceivable secrecy are somehow different and extraordinary, well then, let us first develop a refined consciousness capable of experiencing such mystical things. If we had such a consciousness we could then make use of them, but so long as our mind-stream remains an ordinary consciousness we simply have to go by popular conventions. If the person is at an ordinary level but the object of experience is something of inconceivable secrecy then he cannot experience it.

In general, it is the tantras which speak of religious protectors. By engaging in the practice of deity-yoga once brings these protectors under control and commands them to assist one to accomplish various activities such as pacification, which are done as a means to attain enlightenment for the sake of others and oneself. But if a person who lacks such power beats a dilapidated old drum until it is worn out, it won’t do much good. Alternatively there will be visible benefits if one is serious about his practice of refuge and checks his observance of the law of cause and effect, it will be a better expression of the Buddhist outlook. Ordinary people especially, who have a deep-seated interest in food and clothing for the present life might see worldly gods and spirits as more beneficial and helpful then Buddha Shakyamuni when they are caught in a tight spot. Since there is no obvious rite to propitiate Buddha Shakyamuni in order to accomplish longevity, wealth and success in business ventures, there is a great likelihood of their entrusting themselves whole-heartedly to these gods. If this should happen the Buddhist practice of refuge is thrown to the wind and if the refuge practice is discarded, the person will cease to be a Buddhist. So, you must take the utmost care.

Having understood these things, you should give up or retain practices accordingly. Those of you who have already sought “life Entrustment” with Gyalchen need not give him up, but can continue to rely on him. However, it would be good if you are not over-elaborate about it arid don’t give the impression that he is the Lord of the Dharma Protectors; rely on his without confusing the status of the protectors, taking the real state affairs into consideration. For those of you who have not sought “life Entrustment” from him there is no point at all in buying a noose for your own neck.

The Kadampa traditions is the best. They had four deities: Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of the Doctrine, Arya Avalokiteshvara, the deity of great compassion, Arya Tara, the deity of virtuous activity and Achala, the deity who removes obstacles. To these were added the paths of the three persons or the three baskets of teachings. Together, the tradition was called the Seven-fold Deity and Dharma Tradition. Their practice was as simple as that, without elaborate propitiation rituals like offering incense-smoke and gold-libation etc. to worldly spirits and demons. We have not achieved realizations like those gained by past lamas, yet we undertake many ritualistic performances which they couldn’t afford. In terms of virtuous assistance and accomplishments we have gained nothing from these rituals.

So, this has been something about Gyalchen. I have been informal here, but I have spoken frankly, for there would be no point in talking at length about it otherwise. If you need to tell someone about it, then tell the complete story comprehensively, otherwise it will be better if you don’t disclose this to anybody as if it were some everyday affairs.

END OF TALK THREE line-gothic

Background of the fourth talk: An excerpt concerning reliance on the Dharma Protectors from a talk given by His Holiness on the 29th of March, 1983 in the Convention Hall above the Drepung Great Assembly Hall, Mundgod, to a gathering of ex-abbots and abbots of the three chief monasteries, the two tantric colleges, the Tashi Lhunpo, Nyingma and Sakya Monasteries.

Now, one of the things I want to talk to you about is the Dharma Protectors. Today, an unusual new situation had developed. Since you are going to hear about it sooner or later, if I do not tell you the abbots, it is possible that through misunderstanding and confusion you may wonder what has happened. So I thought I should tell you what really happened before I leave this religious establishment.

The Gyalchen statue in the Chogyal (Dharma Raja) chapel in the Great Assembly Hall of Ganden may have been made before I imposed a restriction on him. Still, even after the recent controversy over Gyalchen, it is not easy for me to ask that a statue which has already been installed be changed. It has remained like this for some years until now, since it was obviously not at all easy for the Ganden La Che, the Ganden Central Executive Committee members to do anything about it. After my arrival here the other day some people said to me, “There is a Shugden statue in the Ganden Chogyal chapel”. I told them that it had already been installed and nothing could be done about it. In my mind I did not have any intention to make an issue out of it and I had pretended not to see or know about it. I understand that you too were helpless to do anything except to leave it as it was.

Then, I spend two nights at Jangtse College and two nights at Shartse College. On the second night at Shartse I had a dream; it was four in the morning when I woke up. At the end of that very disturbed dream, I saw a mace, said to be the symbol of office of the Chief Disciplinarian of the Great Assembly (Tsogchen Shal-ngo). It was like a mace made of wood, resembling the club belonging to Drepung Gomang College. A voice said, “This is Shugden’s main object of residence which was given to him by one of the Panchens: it must be destroyed. I thought to myself, “How can it be destroyed? Unless it is smashed with a hammer or sawn into pieces, it can’t be done.” At that moment, one of bodyguards called Chogyal (Dharma Raja) said, “It must be smashed with a hammer; it will not do if it is not totally destroyed.” Someone said, “That’s a good idea.” On examination the mace was found to have a silver band around it. Since it couldn’t be smashed with a hammer the silver band had to be removed with a chisel, Chogyal the bodyguard said, “I will smash it to pieces.” Nearby where it was being destroyed, there was a lake into which I threw the broken parts. On the top of the mace there were three or four green peg-shaped knotted tassels and it occurred to me that it would not be proper if these fell in people’s hands. So, I removed them and threw them into the lake. This was the kind of dream I had.

On waking I became curious and wondered what the dream meant; I did a rosary-divination with the intention of discovering whether the dream was worthy of a consideration or not, and the resultant number of beads was seven and eight. That very day I was to pay a visit to the Great Assembly Hall of Ganden. Although I usually conduct dough-ball tests before Lhamo, on this occasion because there was a special connection with Dharma Raja himself, I thought it would be better to do the dough-ball test before him while making a sixty-section cake offering. I wrote our three points and gave them to Tawawar, asking him to roll them up in three dough-balls. I sent word to have sixty-section cake made in the private chamber of the Ganden Assembly Hall. Nobody else had faintest idea of this development and I thought it would not be appropriate if any non-humans came to know of it.

On reaching the Great Assembly Hall, I recited The Hundred Deities of the Joyous Land (dga’a-ldan lha-brgya-ma), one rosary of Mig-tse-ma and then A RA PA TSA which is what I usually say. At the end of the recitations of the name mantras of my gurus, I generated the inner and external Dharma Rajas through instantaneous upright generation (skad-cig dkrong-bskyed) and recited Dharma Raja’s commitment restoration and confession prayers and his name mantra a few times. Then I made the sixty- sectioned offering. When I was about to roll the dough-balls I recited Mig-tse-ma, the mantra of Mahakala, and Lhamo respec­tively a few times and then I rolled the balls before the sixty-sectioned cake was taken out.

The three options I wrote down were: “It would be better to leave things as they are”, “It would be better to wait for a better occasion in future to take a step”, because I thought a time would come to renovate Ganden, and the statue could then be taken sway without being noticed; and “It would be better to change things now”.

While rolling them, another option came to mind; “If it would be better to change things now, would in be better to speak of it right now or to mention it after the hectic Monlam festivities have subsided?” Since, there was no way to roll this into a dough-ball there and then, and because at times the dough-ball falls off languidly and at other times it jumps off suddenly, I said to myself mentally, “If I have to tell them right now, the dough-ball should jump out at once and if I have tell them after the Monlam festivities have sett­led, the ball should roll our slowly.” Generating this inten­tion, I rolled the three balls, and one jumped out suddenly. When opened it read, “It would be better to change things now”.

That being the outcome, I sent at once for the abbots, ex-abbots, some important officials, dialecticians and senior Geshes from both Shartse and Jangtse Colleges. Explaining things to them above the Assembly Hall just as I have explained them to you now, I asked then, “Can the statue of Gyalchen be taken to a place where there is a Gyalchen shrine or given to a Gyalchen devotee? If not, there is nothing to do but to plead with him (the wisdom being) to leave. However, as has been said, “If you think you can’t do what you have been told, explain the reasons for your inability.” Just as we find in the Restoration and Purification Sutra (gso-sbyong) I asked them once, twice and thrice, “Have you anything to say?” but they said nothing; so as it says further, “If nothing is said, it should be taken as it is.” (i.e. the proposal isaccepted). So that’s what I decided. This unforeseen event took place recently. The Ganden Central Executive Committee will see to it that the decision is carried out.

Since the news about this will spread gradually to other monasteries, it is possible that some will say that the statue of Gyalchen in the Ganden Great Assembly Hall has been got rid of. If such people some, tell them that I have not taken this step rashly through guess work or without examining and analysing things. I did not have any previous intention to do such a thing, but on my arrival here I had that dream. Now, there is no point in giving importance to dreams for, generally speaking, we will continue to have mistaken perception as long as there is ignorance in our mind-stream. If we have mistaken perceptions while we are awake, then dreams are doubly mistaken, so there is no relying on them. However, wondering what my dream could mean I did a divination and got a result. Still, out of great concern, making the sixty-sectioned cake offering and praying fervently to Dharma Raja, I conducted a dough-ball test above the Assembly Hall and I got the results I mentioned earlier. In this way I have been extremely careful and have not acted indiscriminately. Since this matter will be much talked about later, I wondered if the presiding abbots of the colleges would then explain the underlying cause of this matter. Since the Tantric Colleges, Tashi Lhunpo Monastery and the other colleges will also come to hear of it, if you explain to them the earlier and later causes of this issue what I have told you about it and how things stand now they will be convinced. That is why I thought I should give this explanation to you.

END OF TALK FOUR line-gothic

Additional sources

Why ‘Kadampa Buddhism’ (NKT) has all the characteristics of a cult

Here is something I wrote several years ago about what makes the NKT a cult. Since I don’t debate the cult much these days I thought I would share it again. Please overlook any grammar mistakes I may have made. Grammar was always my worst subject in school. – David Cutshaw

The leader is always right

It’s blasphemy to question Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (GKG). He knows all, and sees all. The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) teaches he is a Buddha, the one and only one living today. Not many people will go against the wishes of a Buddha, so when people are told Geshe-la says: it’s best not to mix with other traditions, or read books with other teachers, most in the NKT do as they’re told. The NKT makes GKG out to be god like. Even making such statements that he visits each NKT center several times a day. I was told he doesn’t even need to fly on planes to get to empowerments. He can just magically appear. I was also taught if I place all my faith in Geshe-la I would not only have a fortunate rebirth so would my family. The NKT uses the mystical Geshe-la to have complete control of it’s practitioners. Some who have dared to question his authority have been banned from their center. I for one had deep guilt when I saw faults in Geshe-la. I just knew I would go to hell for it.

No questioning

As stated above people who have dared to question GKG have been banned from their center. Not just GKG but also their resident teacher. A lot of which where committing sexual misconduct, but those who so dared to report their teacher where more than likely the ones who got into trouble. They where often told not to tell anyone or they may lose faith. But more often then not they where told something along the lines that they are the ones with the problems. You see GKG chose those teachers to teach on his behalf. He is a Buddha, so he knows what’s best and has no faults. If you see faults in your resident teacher, you are seeing faults in a Buddha. In other words all the blame should be placed on the one seeing faults. Not the one screwing everything he can get his hands on. It’s not wise to ask questions in the NKT. Like for instance saying you disagree with something GKG has said. Or making a remark you don’t like how your center is operated. You’d most likely get a reply that Geshe-la has made the rules, and he knows what’s best.

The whole world is against us

The whole world is against the NKT. I was pretty much lead to believe I’m a Jew, and HH the Dalai Lama is Hitler. The NKT teaches they have Pure Dharma, but to make matters worse there are people who are trying to destroy it. Namely the Dalai Lama and the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). I was lead to believe that HH the Dalai Lama had the power to ban Buddha’s and even enter peoples centers and remove Dolgyal statues. I was taught that the FPMT was trying their best to destroy the NKT, and will even take it over after the death of GKG. All of this left me paranoid, and I felt it was my duty to protect the NKT’s pure Dharma at all cost. I debated against HH the Dalai Lama and of course I made a lot of donations to the NKT to protect it from the people who are trying to destroy it.

No one else is right

I was taught only the NKT has pure Dharma. I was taught only the path set forth by GKG lead to enlightenment. All other Buddhist traditions where corrupt, especially Tibetan traditions who are corrupted with Tibetan politics.

Financial Exploitation

Since people are trying to destroy the NKT’s pure Dharma, there’s no better cause then donating to it, and it’s growth. The NKT gives to no other charity then the International Temples Project. I was asked all the time to make a donation with a promise if I did I would always have Dharma not only in this life, but all my future lifes to come. Just touching a NKT built Buddhist temple would lead to a higher rebirth so my teacher claimed. I donated all that I could. I also paid my centers rent in the summer time while my teacher was away doing TTP. I felt honored to do it. I was after all giving the gift of pure Dharma to all living beings. I was even asked to take out a loan and donate the money to my center. Thankfully I never did that. One person at my center was not so fortunate. She gave my center a credit card under her name. After my center folded she was left with thousands of dollars to pay out of her pocket. Other people have given their life savings, and even their homes to the NKT. They more than likely did so believing in the NKT cause. Which is to give and protect pure Dharma.

Using fear and intimidation

If you question GKG you will burn aeons in hell. If you see faults in GKG, the NKT, your resident teacher, etc you have an impure mind, which can only lead to the lower realms. If you say anything bad against the NKT you will be taken to court. If you stray from the path GKG has set forth for you, you’ll also burn in hell for that. No wonder those of us who get the courage to leave have a lot of fear at first. We’re even afraid to tell people what our experience was like practicing with the cult, because if we did the NKT and it lawyers would sue us. The NKT installs fear into it’s practitioners. It works very well I might add.


All of the above will do just that. I was so brainwashed I needed my teachers permission to vote. I did what was expected of me, as the brainwashed Kadampa that I was. I believed the world was out to destroy the NKT with a passion. To the point I used to pray to Dolgyal to protect the NKT from the mean ol’ Dalai Lama. I was so brainwashed I felt the NKT was the only family I needed. As a result I neglected my family and friends.

All of this and more is what makes the NKT harmful.

Originally posted: https://www.facebook.com/groups/talkaboutshugden/697555483689267/



David Cutshaw founded the New Kadampa Survivors.

See also

BBC: An Unholy Row

Why do Buddhists – especially but not exclusively ‘Kadampa Buddhists’ – fear enlightenment?

Recently a monastic elder from Switzerland pointed out an article from the New York Times that was reprinted in an Indian newspaper, the Deccan Herald. Omri Boehm, an Israeli, criticizes in The German silence on Israel and its cost, the silence of German’s public intellectuals (Habermas, Grass) with respect to Israel’s wrongdoings. Boehm calls for “rational, ethical voices”, “not silence are needed”.

I found the whole article very inspiring and to the point. Most of the well thought out arguments have a great meaning in other context, like Buddhism, and for a 21st century Buddhist too. For instance the silence of Buddhists within and outside the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) with respect to the wrong doings and damage the NKT leadership and the whole organization are creating for many individuals and Buddhism at large, or the case of Sogyal Rinpoche etc.

However, in this post I will mainly focus on the NKT.

What is enlightenment?

The enlightenment Boehm is referring to, is not one of the three types of Buddhist enlightenment (or awakenings) but the European enlightenment (in German: Aufklärung). Boehm about Immanuel Kant’s concept of enlightenment:

In his well-known essay from 1784 — “What Is Enlightenment?” — Kant defines enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity,” a process of growing up that consists in finding the “courage” to think for oneself. That does not mean, however, to think by oneself, or alone. On the contrary, Kant insists that using one’s “own understanding” is possible only through a “public use of one’s reason,” in at least two interrelated ways.

First, in order to think for oneself one must strive to transcend the perspective of one’s private commitments — personal, historical, professional, civic — and attempt to judge from the cosmopolitan “standpoint of everybody else.” Second, and closely related, is the idea that thinking for oneself is possible only by thinking aloud. We would not be able to think very “much” or all too “correctly,” Kant writes, if we would not think together “with others with whom we communicate.” Transcending our private perspective thus depends on submitting our opinions to the judgment of the “entire reading public” — striving to reach, through public debate, an agreement of “universal human reason in which each has his own say.”

How to engage Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s students in rational discussion?

For 15 years I have had discussions with NKT followers, read their comments, answered to them. NKT followers have been given from the outset space here on the blog to express their views openly and to engage in discussion or dialogue. I read their and Kelsang Gyatso’s views on google groups, in Buddhist and non-Buddhist forums, newspaper comment sections etc. and I recognized the effectless trials of other Buddhists (mostly Ex-NKT) to reach out to NKT followers with reasonable arguments. Engaging with NKT followers in discussion is and was in 99,9% of the cases a discussion or a dialogue with a deaf.

Since I was myself an NKT follower and became over time within the NKT immature and stopped my process of growing up, replacing critical thinking and analysis with the repetition of arguments that were parts of the group propaganda and most often totally untrue or a spin of the facts, I understand very well how NKT followers feel and think.

Rarely has anybody from the NKT managed to have any reasonable public discussion – except “seeking clarity” on Tricycle blog [He was the most open guy I witnessed in public discussions. After his open research he left the NKT.] or a bit Kadam Ryan here on the blog. However, at the end Kadam Ryab asked me to delete all of his contributions basing his wish on what I see as ‘irrational fears’ like fear of “splitting the Sangha” etc. (I promised to fulfill his wish and will do this in the next week, [hopefully!].) So one of the rare NKT persons, Kadam Ryan, who opened up a bit, and who was brave enough to be faced with corrections (and also some hostility), who finally had eve to agree with some of the corrections, retreated into silence. The other NKT person, “seeking clarity” on Tricycle blog, left the NKT altogether. Kadam Ryan asked for the future not to be involved in any public discussions and he decided to ignore the misbehavior of the Anti-Dalai Lama activists from his own organization and what the leadership of the NKT has to do with this. Why? My thesis is, because Kadam Ryan as well as the vast majority of NKT followers fear enlightenment. 

I think, NKT followers deeply fear to think for themselves, to come to another view than the NKT leadership, especially Kelsang Gyatso. Having another view than the omniscient Keslang Gyatso is feared to “doubt going into the wrong direction”, which hinders your to attain enlightenment.

I think, NKT followers deeply fear to find out that Kelsang Gyatso, the NKT and they themselves might have fundamentally erred. They fear the consequences of their possible new findings. Findings that might contradict what they have learned until now and believed to be true. Therefore, it is by far easier to withdraw from open, honest public discussion and to avoid to get aware of the own and the NKT leadership’s errors. An awareness, based on a valid perception, that would enable to address and to correct these faults and to finally overcome them is the most dangerous thing for an NKT follower.

A former NKT follower has summarized these fears as “terrors”:

1. The terror of uncertainty and ‘not knowing’

2. The terror of having made a dreadful mistake in ‘trusting’ the NKT blindly

3. The terror of having to work it out for oneself when one’s intuition has been on hold, perhaps for decades

4. The terror of breaking ‘vows and commitments’ to the NKT

5. The terror of ‘losing face’ 

6. The terror of ‘starting again’

7. The terror of losing all those years for nothing

There is much to keep people ‘in’ the NKT and not much to entice them out. Except exhaustion or ethics. 

During the process of their involvement with the NKT those following the NKT will gradually, unaware of that process, block all their critical analytical faculties. Open analysis and critical thinking will be replaced by Dharma phrases, what “Geshe la says”, simple slogans, narrow-minded concepts, simplified Buddhist teachings, faulty propaganda etc. There is not any chance within the system of the NKT to question these claims, concepts, superficial Buddhist teachings that have a strong tendency to Nihilism and growth-hindering simplifications because the NKT is a totally closed and self-referential system where “purity” and salvation can be found only within the very organization and its enlightened and sole leader + his books, Kelsang Gyatso. Only by adhering 100%ly “purely” to the material of NKT, enlightenment can be attained. Outside of NKT there are evil forces of a “degenerated Tibetan Buddhism”, with the “the worst dictator of the Modern world” (the “false Dalai Lama”) etc. or just impure Dharma or Dharma that in no way should be “mixed” with the “pure Dharma” of the NKT.

Discussions within the NKT study programs aim solely to ‘help’ ‘Kadampa Buddhists’ to adopt exactly the same view on NKT, Kelsang Gyatso, his Dharma presentation and the outside world as Kelsang Gyatso has expressed them. Discussions within the NKT study program don’t aim to help the student to form an own, mature, critical, differentiated understanding of Buddhism, the Dharma or the NKT and its leader but to form a homogeneous view that is totally, 100%ly, in line with the views of NKT’s enlightened leader, the third Buddha, Kelsang Gyatso. That’s why NKT followers act and discuss like parrots in public discussions. They see themselves as “vessels” through which “Geshe-la speaks”. It is a successful institutionalised process within the NKT that eradicates any individuality and independent thinking for the sake of forming an homogeneous body of followers that expresses at all times and at all places what “Geshe la said”, an organisation in which every individual can be replaced at any time by any body else.

People like me, who come from a Communist dictatorship or Russians who followed the NKT, have it easier to identify the whole setting of the NKT as a dictatorship setting with all its mechanism you commonly find in dictatorships. In a way the NKT seems to be more successful than dictatorships to manipulate their followers because you will always find dissidents in dictatorships but where are the dissidents in the NKT? There seem to be none at all. What a dream for any dictator!

In such a setting as that of NKT you will become mentally like a child, you will become immature, there is no true growth possible. Why? Because growth and maturity need critical thinking, critical analysis, vast knowledge and understanding, the ability to look at yourself and your own environment with an open and clear but critical and differentiated attitude. As a genuine spiritual seeker you must have the wish and bravery to question everything for the sake to find truth based in facts. Just as the Buddha did it. (He learned from his teachers but when they erred or couldn’t further help him, he left them.)

Buddhism stresses to find faults in yourself and not primarily in others. This is only possible by getting aware and by discussing your own faults (including the context in which you live and work), by openly investigating them, by admitting them (if they are really there), by exposing them and not by ignoring them. An open spiritual seeker will be grateful about reasonable criticism (advanced practitioners will be able embrace also unreasonable criticism as a tool to improve their patience.) But in the NKT all energy is used to brush errors and facts that contradict the NKT world view under the carpet and to blame instead others, attacking them, and to defend the own “purity” by all means, portraying oneself as the poor victim of outer hostile forces.

What I read and heard from the NKT founder & leader Kelsang Gyatso were always things like these:
“I have not done anything wrong!”, “You my students have not done anything wrong”, “These are wrong accusations against the innocent” (you could find this sentence for years on the NKT main site*), “I promise that I and NKT have never acted inappropriately” etc.. While claiming his own purity and infallibility Kelsang Gyatso points out only others as the sole culprit of unwelcomed or painful  developments – be it a certain NKT resident teacher or the Dalai Lama. While bathing himself in innocence he puts the blame on others. It was this amazing lack of Buddhist thinking and Buddhist practice by Kelsang Gyatso personally – his total unawareness that things arise in dependence of many causes and conditions and that oneself might have contributed to the effects one does not like – which led to my “emergence from self-incurred immaturity”, when I had the good luck to witness directly in around June 2000 in Berlin at NKT’s Dipankara Centre.

If you read all those comments by NKT followers in the internet and if you see how much they missed (e.g. see comment section of the Open Letter to Followers of the New Kadampa Tradition by Gavin Kilty) or regretted (e.g. Kadam Ryan here on the blog) to have engaged in public discussion, you will easily detect that uninformed people who have no clue whatsoever about Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism and the history of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism or the history and practice of Shugden in Tibet and the Dalai Lamas – including the vast and profound qualities of the current Dalai Lama – repeat like parrots the faulty propaganda or empty Dharma phrases that the NKT / Kelsang Gyatso / Kadam Neil Elliot have skillfully and gradually instilled in them.

At the end the blind want to “educate” the world to “understand the deceptive nature” of the Dalai Lama, who is – according to the blind – “destroying pure Buddhism in this world”. Ignorant people who missed to educate themselves first before they try to educate others – including better informed people – want to educate the world! Wow! Buddhists who have become so blind and so deluded that they cannot see that most of these (baseless) accusations they throw against their opponents are all projections that just reflect the situation within their own organization with its autocrat leader.

Isn’t it deeply sad when a man, who practices ‘Kadampa Buddhism’ since about 35 years, who was appointed as the successor of Kelsang Gyatso to uphold his lineage, Gen Kelsang Khyenrab (Steve Booth), thinks and behaves like an ignorant child, when he writes in the comment section of  an all in all factual rather correct article by Newsweek Relentless: The Dalai Lama’s Heart of Steel:

Another thorough whitewash of the mafia-style false Dalai Lama and demonization of sincere Shugden Buddhists. This article is just propaganda not worth serious reading.

Gen Kelsang Khyenrab (Steve Booth)

left: Gen Kelsang Khyenrab (Steve Booth)

I am younger than Khyenrab and I would be happy to respect him as an elder Buddhist from whom I can learn. But his comment is just so childish and totally ignorant of the facts, hostile to others (“mafia-style false”) and self-praising (“sincere”) that it makes me really sad to see what the NKT made out of a man who once might have started as a sincerely seeker of a genuine spiritual path.

What are the forces in the NKT and in Khyenrab himself that make an adult, a practicing Buddhist for about 35 years, who should be wiser or more mature now, behaving more stupid than an uneducated child?

If you 1) read all of those internet comments by NKT followers or Kelsang Gyatso’s statements on Google Groups or his Open Letters, 2) if you have sober knowledge about Tibetan Buddhism, Tibet, its history etc., 3) if you can think for yourself, and) if you really openly look into this case, you will realize that the elders in the NKT (as well as newbees who swallowed the NKT agit prop) have attained a realization within the NKT setting that is the opposite of Kant’s enlightenment:

  • a self-incurred immaturity
  • a state that is the opposite of growing
  • a thorough lack of finding the “courage” to think for oneself
  • an inability to engage in any meaningful discussion of one’s “own understanding” through a “public use of one’s reason”
  • a total lack of the ability to transcendent the perspective of their private commitments — personal, historical, professional, civic — and attempting to judge from the cosmopolitan “standpoint of everybody else.” (For instance, they have never ever tried to understand [or even to note] why Shugden practice is feared by Kagyupas, Nyingmapas, and even Sakyapas; why it harms the unity of the Tibetans in exile, the life of the Dalai Lama. Instead they wrongly claim there would have been never ever any problems between Nyingmapas and Gelugpas, “Shugden loves Nyingmapas, Dalai Lama please don’t lie!” etc. Why do they expound such untruths? Because this is what Kelsang Gyatso wrongly proclaimed to them or in interviews, and because “he is enlightened” “it must be true”.)

Among the many other distorted attainments people have gained within NKT are misconceptions about monastic vows and life or what even simple things like lying actual is. To call another person who points out facts that can be found in any sober academic research a liar – because the NKT holds another (historical distorted) view on it – reveals that NKT followers do not even have a correct understanding of basic Buddhist ethics because another opinion is no lie, even when the opinion is considered to be wrong.

However, this is only a secondary thought …

My thesis and concluding thoughts

As long as NKT followers or ‘Kadampa Buddhists’ – and we Buddhists in general! – do not even attain a fraction of the enlightenment as defined by Kant, we can forget about Buddhist enlightenment because Buddhist enlightenment includes to see the facts as they are and not to turn the facts upside down. To see the facts as they are is the very basis for being able to eradicate the own wrong views that block one’s spiritual growth and that block the increase of one’s understanding, wisdom and compassion and the ability to relate to oneself, others and the world in a healthy, fact-based and constructive way.

Further, IMO, genuine spirituality is based on honesty, openness, introspection, spiritual integrity, and the constant questioning of the own believes and understandings until one sees the things as they are. At least one should get closer to reality and not further away from it …

You can be a Buddhist without having any sense of spirituality or spiritual integrity at all. Maybe it would be good to avoid that because it is of no use, except to please and to decorate the samsaric ego by attaching a new nicely shining label on it: “I am a (purely practicing) Buddhist, please adore me!”


* Scroll down the site image at web.archive.org there you can find:

New Kadampa Truth
Now is the time to dispel false accusations against the innocent

See also

A Tibetan Translator’s Testimony by Tenzing Wangdak – Part 2

The Ticking Bomb That Took 23 Years to Explode. Part Two

This present writing is a sequel to my previous Tibetan Translator’s Testimony.

By Tenzing Wangdak

It was in April 1991, thoughts on recent unpleasant episode were still lingering in my mind. We were driving from Seville to Cordoba by car and I could see miles and miles of sunflower fields out of the window touching the horizon. Suddenly I felt myself gripped by a strong emotion of seeing how small and insignificant I was before the universe. Momentarily I was lost in thought, and recovering, I saw tears rolling down my cheek. I wiped them off with the back of my right hand, with a wry smile on my face. Such a feeling lifted a very heavy weight off my mind. Then I felt very happy. After the summer of the same year, I left the centre definitely.

GesheKelsangGyatsoA very important question arises, why is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso so determined to fight tooth and nail on Shugden issue? To answer this question, I have to go back to the mid July 1989. Myself and Geshe Tamding Gyatso rode from Manjushri Institute, Cumbria, England, to a small retreat centre called Tharpaland in Scotland where Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was doing retreat along with some of his students. We spent one weekend over there. During one of the conversations between the two geshes, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso said that his teacher Trijang Rinpoche instructed him to carry on Dorjee Shugden practice. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso said and, I quote; “Kyabje Triyang Rimpoche was very ill. When I saw him in poor health, I felt very sad. I implored him to extend his life and live longer for the sake of Dharma and the well-being of living beings. I prostrated before him, and then performed a long-life prayer repeatedly. After the prayer, Kyabje Trijang Dorjeechang told me, “Be cautious. Now, Shugden practice is declining”.” Well, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso took this statement as if he were given the responsibility of upholding and reviving it.

Another time, Geshe Tamding Gyatso was speaking with him and at one stage of their conversation he praised Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for his invaluable work for the Dharma, publishing the books entitled “Clear Light of Bliss” and “Meaningful to Behold”. Geshe Tamding Gyatso told him that some of his students in Spain appreciated them. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso responded, “Thanks to the Buddhist books composed by the previous Tibetan masters like Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen, Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen, Ngulchu Dharmabhadra, etc. They made my work simple. Without their help, it would be an uphill task to give teaching on these two texts. The credit goes to them.” He was right. I saw most of the Tibetan lamas using commentaries written by highly accomplished teachers of the past as a reference to teach Buddhism to their students in the west.

I talked with Geshe Tamding Gyatso many times over the importance of a dharma protector in Buddhist practice. Once we were talking on Dorjee Shugden, I asked him whether or not Dorjee Shugden was a worldly deity. He replied very clearly that Dorjee Shugden was a worldly deity; Kyabje Triyang Rinpoche said that he was a worldly deity. Geshela was thoughtful for a while and continued, “Had H. H. the Dalai Lama advised us not to propitiate Dorjee Shugden in the early 1960s, I wouldn’t have received the Life Entrustment Empowerment. In the early 60s at Buxa Refugee Camp, Assam, Kyabje Triyang Rinpoche and Kyabje Song Rinpoche were the most famous known lamas of the time, and most of the monks received teachings and tantric initiations from them. I was amongst them.” Fortunately, Geshe Tamding Gyatso stopped the Shugden practice in the 90s.

In the summer of 1989, we were invited to give teachings in the Buddhist Centres in England, which were under the direction of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. I still remember vividly one incident at Madhyamaka Centre, Yorkshire. It was in August, 1989. One day I attended for the long life prayers of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and I was sitting next to Geshe Tamding Gyatso in the front row. Neil Eliot, the spiritual director of the centre, was sitting on the opposite side, first in the front row. As soon as we finished the long life prayer, a small book was distributed. I opened it and saw the picture of Dorjee Shugden. I turned the pages, and then put the book upside down on my desk. After that, I looked at Neil Eliot and he was smiling at me. I smiled him back. Well, he realized I was not going to do this practice. Neil Eliot was considered quite a charismatic personality. He resembled Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo with his bulky physique and bald head. He was regarded as the worthy successor to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. I remembered him calling himself Thubten Gyatso, and he was quite proud of his Tibetan name. In fact, it was also the name of the 13th Dalai Lama. During my 8-day stay at the centre, even I got along very well with him.

I came to realize later that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso expelled him from Madyamaka Centre due to the unfortunate incident of his sexual life in the centre. His life as a Buddhist monk ended rather in an inglorious way. He has already changed his name from Thubten Gyatso to Kadam Neil Eliot. Perhaps, this gives him a new lease of life. Nowadays, from the sources of the New Kadampa survivors, he is one of those who mastermind behind closed door to mobilize protest against H.H. the Dalai Lama in the streets of Europe and USA. Nevertheless, he does it at the behest of Kelsang Gyatso. I thought that he lost the opportunity to be Kelsang Gyatso’s successor. Now it seems that he enjoys absolute power in the NKT community.

Shugden worshippers practice their protector freely whenever and wherever they like. Nobody has imposed any restriction on their religious freedom. Nonetheless, they have no right to encroach on the rights of other people. His Holiness has said over and over again that they are free to do their own practice of Shugden, but with the condition that they are advised not to attend his teachings. How foolhardy they are! Despite having full religious freedom, they still believe it has been cut. Consequently, they have protested against the Dalai Lama in the streets of big cities in Europe and USA, demanding a religious freedom that they already have. They have gone too far and made this situation intolerable for Tibetan people. Going against something obvious is a clear indication of mental disorder.

Recently I found the infamous Yellow Book by Zemey Rinpoche on the internet, only the relevant parts of it. It recounts the stories of prominent Geluk teachers and government officials who became the victims of Shugden for having gone astray from the path of Gelukpa tradition. It was appalling. According to Yellow Book, their lives revolved around Shugden. One powerful Spirit played the decisive role to dictate the fates of those unfortunate victims. The fact remains that the book is based on wild assumptions rather than logic. Such assumption is open to discussion. How true is it? There was no evidence to prove the veracity of these claims. Now, let me believe that it is true for a while, then, how is it possible that a religion with non-violence as its foundation act violently? Is this the way to instil fear in the hearts of fellow Gelukpa practitioners? Is this the way to leave fellow dharma practitioners out in the cold? Are they deliberately wreaking havoc in Gelukpa Society? Has Lord Buddha taught them to kill fellow dharma practitioners? I have come to the conclusion and will say that they messed up Tibetan Buddhism in the 20th century.

This kind of belief is deeply imbedded in a strict religious orthodoxy. We must take into consideration other important factors that could be the causes of their untimely death. In the first half of the 20th century, the life expectancy of Tibetan people was very low. Untimely death was a commonplace. The causes of the death could be poor nutrition, harsh climate, lack of hygiene, lack of medical facilities and improper diet.

There is a general saying among the Tibetan Buddhists that having taken the Life Entrustment Empowerment of Shugden, you are left with no choice but to practice it compulsorily everyday in your lifetime. Failing to comply with it would result in severe punishment. Wow! Divine Wrath in Buddhism! This sounds very similar to the Christian concept of making “pact with the devil” in which, you ask his favour of wealth, fame and power, and in return, you are obliged to sell your soul to him.

Kyabje Pabongka was mainly responsible for the revival and spread of Shugden practice. The 13th Dalai Lama admonished him for the spread of Shugden practice even in the Drepung monastery, which had no connection whatsoever with the spirit until then. Consequently, Pabongka promised the Dalai Lama through a letter that he would abandon it immediately and never perform it in the future. Shortly after the death of H. H the 13th Dalai Lama, not only did he renew his Shugden practice but also spread it far and wide in Tibet. He brazenly broke his solemn promise. Now it could be a sheer coincidence that, he did it at the time when the whole world was passing through one of the darkest periods in human history. The world was in turmoil – the Sino-Japanese war was in full swing, the dark cloud of the Second World War was looming in Europe. Communism was expanding rapidly like wild fire towards many Eastern countries. Religious persecution was rampant in the Communist countries.

In Mongolia, during the great purge of 1937, more than 18,000 monks were either shot through the head or burnt alive. Buddhism was facing a real danger of a total extinction in that country. A famous Mongolian Buddhist teacher, Lobsang Tayang, was one of the victims. I even heard that he was burnt alive during the religious persecution in Mongolia, but I cannot confirm it. During the teachings of H.H. the Dalai Lama at the temple in Dharamsala, 1983, a booklet “A Precious Crystal Rosary” was distributed freely to all the people who attended the teaching. It deals with one hundred and eight verses in praise of great compassion. The famous Mongolian Geshe Lobsang Tayang composed this beautiful poem. H.H. the Dalai Lama, at that time, advised us to read it over and over again till it wears out. Sadly the life of this great master, who happened to be a Shugden practitioner, met with a tragic end.


In Highest Yoga Tantra, the role of a dharma protector is to help the practitioner on his or her spiritual adventure to Buddhahood. The practitioner encounters innumerable obstacles in his spiritual career, especially at the beginning, when his mind is wild and undisciplined. In the Guru Yoga Assembly Tree, the position of a Dharma protector is placed down on the 6th row. The practitioner who reaches a high level of inner realisation, with the strong and stable divine pride of the meditational deity, is in a commanding position to entrust his Dharma protector to obey his order. The relationship between the practitioner and the dharma protector is comparable to a powerful king and his chief minister. The minister is ready to listen and obey the orders given by his powerful king. In a similar way, a highly realized tantric practitioner commands his protector and entrusts him with the work of eliminating all the obstacles coming in his path to Buddhahood.

Now, let me take into consideration the possibility of this relationship working the other way round. Suppose the practitioner is spiritually weak and lacks high spiritual experience. Naturally, his position becomes vulnerable. Under such circumstances, he could easily fall prey to his worldly dharma protector. It is comparable to a weak king who obeys to every single word of his powerful minister. Most of the Shugden worshippers belong to the second category.

In my opinion, dharma protectors work effectively only on a personal level. A tantric practitioner who develops a firm divine pride of his meditational deity could command his protector to eliminate the obstacles on his way to Buddhahood. Granting the protector any big responsibility that he cannot cope with is doomed to failure. Since my school days I have loved History. I realized at that time that the most famous Buddhist universities like Nalanda and Vikramashila were ransacked and plundered by the foreign invaders led by Bakhtair Khilji and his army around 1193 to 1205 AD. All the monks were beheaded and many burnt alive. All the sacred books were burnt and the pall of smoke hung in the sky for many days. Sadly, no dharma protector saved the most famous Centres of learning of the world from the brutal onslaught of the Muslim invaders. Nowadays, we can only see Nalanda’s ruins. There is no trace of Vikramashila left. If the story is true, then the dharma protector of Nalanda, Raven-faced protector, was so frightened with the raid that he ran away from the place. But, it sounds more like a buzz or the words on the street. I saw the ruins of Nalanda for the first time on a silver screen of Bollywood when I was 13 years old in 1972.

Lama Tsongkhapa painstakingly established Gaden Monastery in 1409 in the hope of perpetuating Buddhism. It is generally accepted that he entrusted the three dharma protectors Kalarupa, Vaisravana and six-armed Mahakala to help true dharma practitioners of the three scopes of Lamrim on their spiritual journey to Buddhahood. In fact, they are the protectors of true Gelugpa practitioners rather than the tradition itself. Shugden claims that he is the undisputed dharma protector of Gelukpa Tradition of our time. What was his reaction when the Red Guard Army undertook the systematic destruction of Gaden monastery during the Cultural Revolution? Even the most precious relic, the preserved body of Lama Tsonkhapa, was not spared and was burnt. Luckily, Bomi Rinpoche, one of the monks, managed to save the skull and some ashes from the fire. Shugden’s boastful claim flies in the face of historical evidence. In fact, he stood helpless in the face of such a mournful event – the worst humiliation he faced. He failed miserably to save the three most important monasteries of Gelukpa tradition which he was supposed to protect. Therefore, it is foolhardy to consider him as the most important dharma protector of the Gelukpa tradition. However, in the NKT he still enjoys the title the most important protector of Gelukpa tradition! Shugden claims he has a direct access to Lama Tsongkhapa. Now he says he comes from the pure land of Lama Tsongkhapa. Really? Did he report the total destruction of the three centres of learning of the Gelukpa School to Lama Tsongkhapa? Did he explain to him his own failure to protect them and especially, Gaden Monastery?

I think the main cause of our failure lies in our basic emotional set-up. Often, when we find ourselves in a situation where we have no answer to solve our problem, we become desperate and insist on finding some solution from non-human sources like worldly spirits, but when these become desperate, they tell lies.


Gen. Lobsang Gyatso, my teacher, was an outspoken critic. His critical writing on Trijang’s overemphasis on Shugden’s role in Gelukpa School provoked condemnation. In mid 70s, he infuriated many people, mainly the Tibetan government officials in exile and the monks from Sera, Gaden and Depung. To my teacher, Trijang’s behaviour was unacceptable. It was the most difficult period for him, but he stood the ground. Indeed, He was a monk with steel nerves, who could rise to the occasion when the odds were against him. Fortunately, he received H H. the Dalai Lama’s support. My teacher believed strongly that Dorjee Shugden was an evil spirit. In November 1991, I met him for the first time after my four years in Spain. In the course of our conversation, I told him openly and straightforwardly that I got an impression that Shugden was not a non-sectarian dharma protector of Gelukpa school after having listened to the tape recorded teaching by an oracle who channelled peaceful Shugden. My teacher responded me saying, “He is cunning and manipulative. Long time ago in Tibet, he wanted to impress me using the same tactic of his apparent non-sectarian attitude. He thought that I would fall into the psychological trap he laid, but I did not”. My teacher belonged to Drepung Loseling Monastery, which has no connection whatsoever with the spirit. The majority of the monks in Drepung Monastery have always considered Dorjee Shugden a demon, dating back some three hundred years.

In my last meeting with him in 1996, he said and I quote, “Shugden is lying low. In the past, he would often appear in my dream, wearing magnificent clothes and very bright ornaments. Nowadays, he looks sad and miserable. His clothes are dusty and worn out”.

One year later, on the 4th Feb. 1997, some Shugden followers murdered him ruthlessly along with two students in his room. However, his sacrifice has not gone in vain. In fact, it has proved to be a turning point in the history of Gelugpa society. Since then many lamas and monks have abandoned the Dogyal practice. He carved a niche for himself in the Tibetan Buddhist history as an undaunted monk who was mainly responsible for the downfall of Dorjee Shugden practice in Tibet, both within and without.

If Gen. Lobsang Gyatso were alive, he would be 87 years old, enjoying the glory of the great contribution he made not only to the Buddhist world, but also to Tibetan society. He would be extremely satisfied with his own students working to make this world a better place.

Links to translated works by the authors mentioned can be found here:

[Photographic image chosen by the author. Photographer unknown]
Originally posted on New Kadampa Survivor Actvists

The Buddhists Who Hate the Dalai Lama More Than the Chinese Do

Dorje Shugden is an obscure trickster spirit, believed to have originated in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in the 17th century. And though the spirit’s followers in the Western world probably number only a few thousand, they’ve been surprisingly successful at generating attention for themselves and their campaign to discredit the Dalai Lama. Recently, BloombergReuters, and the Washington Post, among other outlets, have covered the Shugden followers’ protests, and in a measured tone — surprising for the absurdity of the Shugden followers’ claims. In its Feb. 6 edition, Newsweek put the Dalai Lama on its cover with the headline “Relentless: The Real Dalai Lama.” A Shugden supporter gleefully handed me a photocopy of the article, in part because the article included the subheading “False Dalai Lama” — the same chant Shugden followers make at protests.

There is a new and thorough article by the Foreign Policy, Meet the Buddhists Who Hate the Dalai Lama More Than the Chinese Dothat covers the recent press coverage, the protesters, who is behind the protests, and the “surprising … absurdity of the Shugden followers’ claims”.

Have the Dalai Lama protesters sought dialogue?

The ISC / Dalai Lama protesters are now frequently claiming that they have sought dialogue with the Dalai Lama but the Dalai Lama has never accepted dialogue with them. Once again however, this claim is misleading.

If you really seek dialogue, you try to put yourself in the shoes of the other person. You try to understand as well as you can the way of thinking of the person with whom you seek dialogue. While you are working towards that aim you don’t denigrate the other person as ‘false’ or a ‘hypocrite’, ‘very professional liar’, ‘worst dictator’ etc, because this isn’t a basis for a dialogue. The Dalai Lama protesters have not done the former but rather stress the latter. Does this behaviour reveal a genuine motivation for a dialogue or is ‘dialogue’ just more rhetoric like the terms ‘human rights’ and ‘religious freedom’?

During the first round of the protests (1996–98) the protesters didn’t seek dialogue. They issued demands. The demand of Kelsang Gyatso – who “masterminded” and led the protests¹ – and the demand of the NKT protesters was that “the Dalai Lama signs a declaration promising freedom to propagate worship of Dorje Shugden.”¹ If the Dalai Lama does so, Kelsang Gyatso said in an interview to The Daily Telepgraph, they will “immediately cease all activity.”¹

Before that interview with The Daily Telegraph in 1996, a dialogue had been arranged in London, at Tibet House, between representatives of the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGIE, now CTA) and Jim Belither and Lucy James of the NKT, amongst others. However, whilst these NKT members were on the train from Yorkshire to the meeting, a person on the train suffered a heart attack and the train was delayed. This was interpreted by the NKT members as an inauspicious sign and because of this as well as the fact that the time of the meeting coincided with a demonstration arranged at Eccleston Square, they did not attend the meeting. The meeting was portrayed as a trap to disturb the arranged demonstration and no other meeting was arranged. It seems likely, based on the protesters refusal to accept the TGIE offer for a dialogue, that Kelsang Gyatso said to The Daily Telegraph:

There is no point in us meeting. He will reject what I say. He will never agree. Demonstrations are our only outlet.¹

On May 1st, 1998 a petition was delivered to the Dalai Lama in New York, asking him to sign a declaration. In this declaration the Dalai Lama was asked to confirm that former statements he made were “untrue”, and to acknowledge that his “false information” had created “great suffering”. It concluded, “Therefore, I declare that from now on everyone has the complete freedom to worship Dorje Shugden, and that no one should interfere in any way with their worship.” The petition was signed on behalf of the Dorje Shugden International Coalition, Morten Clausen, an NKT teacher.

During the second round (2009–2014) and during the third round (2014–??) of protests there were no calls for a dialogue, but ultimata were issued (if you don’t do as we wish we will organise protests against you, it is now in your hands). These ultimata were again unreasonable demands, such as to revert a democratic decision made via majority vote (Stick Referendum) by monks in the monasteries in 2008. There, the majority of Buddhist monks decided to remove Shugden worship from their monastic practices and to separate themselves from monks who wished to continue Shugden worship. It is the right of the monks to decide under which contitions they want to live. As a single individual, the Dalai Lama cannot go against a monastic procedure and the majority vote within monastic communities.

For analyses with further details regarding the claims of having sought dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, see:

¹ Dalai Lama Faces Revolt For Barring ‘Death Threat’ Deity, The Daily Telegraph, July 15,1996.

How are newcomers introduced to the Dorje Shugden issues in the New Kadampa Tradition?

Question: Is there any NKT documentation that talks about when to introduce the Dorje Shugden issues to new students? Is there a deliberate policy of concealment and delay in introducing this until people are ‘too far in to get out’?

Answer – in three parts by Carol McQuire

[1] It’s simply not talked about that way. Even internally in the NKT documentation, I have not seen any that is that specifically discusses ‘Shugden’.

If you read the Notes on Teaching Skills by Gen Thubten Gyatso there is a lot in there about ‘gradual introduction’, etc,. The implicit understanding is that this is about the ‘real NKT’/Shugden, etc but that method also applies to a lot of things about Dharma, not just to ‘Shugden’.

As ‘Shugden’ is such an integral part of the NKT it’s not managed as being at all ‘dangerous’ or ‘nasty’ to bring people in to do the practice – it’s a kindness to them to do so. People are invited to do Heart Jewel/Shugden as the daily ‘Guru Yoga’ and main centre practice – every day, every centre – to say thank you for the kindness of the centres, books, study programmes, etc. It’s not ‘announced’ as ‘Shugden’ like a ‘secret practice’ or something prohibited or wrong. It’s so normalised and ordinary you have no idea what you are being drawn into. It’s the NKT’s main practice so how would it be ‘managed’ as ‘secret’? Doing Heart Jewel – the Ganden Lhagyema with Shugden prayers attached – is also a commitment when you join a study programme and of course, if you want to teach in the NKT.

It’s the Dalai Lama’s views that are ‘secret’ and as so many people who ‘drop in’ to the NKT know nothing about what the Dalai Lama thinks and as most of them know nothing about Buddhism or Tibetan Buddhism, then it’s a ‘non-issue’. We tell people who ask us how to ‘check’ that the best way to find out ‘what the NKT is’ is to ask about His Holiness in a general NKT teaching and watch the ‘reply’! It will most probably be an embarrassing silence or a mumbled excuse! Many people attracted to the NKT find it difficult to believe that there is no refuge in His Holiness the Dalai Lama by the NKT as the NKT sangha look just like him and at some point the ‘lineage’ connection to Tibetan Buddhism will be mentioned by them. People may well go to the NKT because of His Holiness and his positive influence on them. That is the sadness embedded in the lack of clarity surrounding these issues.

The NKT does a lot of ‘secret information’ sharing. Knowing ‘what the Dalai Lama says’, etc, is the more ‘secret information’ that is one of the issues you may talk about in private with your NKT teacher and it’s part of the ‘secret bonding’ between the local teacher and their students that keeps the NKT going and the protests going. NKT students are warned not to trust what is said on the internet, etc. They are told about the ‘poor, victimised’ NKT, and the ‘poor victimised Kelsang Gyatso’, etc. The ‘Shugden’ issue is almost marginalised and it’s certainly minimised – if you look at p. 148 in the ‘Modern Buddhism’ ebook that’s a free download, you can see a line drawing of ‘Shugden’ but he’s only called the ‘Wisdom Protector’ so how would a beginner in the NKT realise what the connection is to the protests against His Holiness? It all appears to be very benign and positive.

[2] When you ‘normalise’ Shugden like that, the Dalai Lama then comes across as ‘crazy’ for criticising it and you slot everyone into supporting the campaign as a ‘nice’ thing to do because His Holiness is ‘so mistaken’.

The ‘hardcore’ activists, like IndyHack and Gen La Khyenrab, ‘rev up’ the protest team with all the online accusations and that can deflect criticism of the campaign in general into criticism of their ‘crude’ techniques – this might be an actual ‘campaign ploy’ so people don’t look too much into the real issues and instead they stay ‘in house’ – but in general, it’s seen as the ‘decent’ thing to do to tell His Holiness that he is wrong.

What is also remarkable is that NKT people really seem to fear ‘going outside the box’. Sometimes their idea of ‘research’ is to watch Rabten’s videos for the International Shugden Commuity or look at the Dorje Shugden Tibetan Follower’s videos. Nothing else! Everything outside the ‘NKT view’ they really see as propaganda. I know, because that’s how I thought when I was there! His Holiness was really a ‘bad deal’! It’s fascinating how they do that – all of us ask afterwards how it happened – to university graduates and intellectuals who feel proud of our ability to ‘think independently’! I feel it’s the normalising of the NKT value system – a consistent, inward looking barrage of subtle and not so subtle praise of the ‘Special Kadampa’ techniques. Everything from the Dharma is attributed to Kelsang Gyatso’s ‘kindness’ and when we first ‘fall in love’ with Dharma the NKT justifications and consistently ‘shifted’ teachings slip in too. All your gratitude is highly focused towards the NKT and ‘Geshe-la’, not to ‘Budddha’ or ‘Tibetan Buddhism’.

That’s why a ‘normal, logical’ method when analysing the protest ‘justifications’ will fall short – it’s the whole fabric of ‘how the NKT did it with Shugden’ that needs analysing.
When the NKT/ISC, etc say that His Holiness the Dalai Lama ‘wants to destroy the NKT’, this feels like the truth as discrediting Shugden discredits the NKT world completely. So, the NKT ‘war’ becomes the almost desperate need to preserve ‘their’ tradition, which is then ‘overlaid’ back again onto a ‘Tibetan’ issue as a wider justification of their actions.

The game of ‘creating our own tradition’ which will ‘be’ Tibetan but not ‘Tibetan’ in practice (‘connected’ but ‘isolated’) started when Neil Elliott and other westerners met Kelsang Gyatso at Manjushri Institute in the 1970s. His Holiness wasn’t publicly against Shugden worship then, so it was a ‘sensible risk’ for Gyatso and Neil to create their ‘separate, Shugden tradition’ and ‘world’ during the 80s. They had designed most of it by 1992 – the music was still missing but the basic, simplified books and sadhanas in English were ready. Then, all their great new structure which had the ‘guru yoga of Shugden’ at its heart was torn apart in 1996 by His Holiness’ decision – which I am sure was not at all directed at ‘attacking the NKT’. The decision was taken to help conflicts simmer down and this eventually worked within the Indian diaspora – but Kelsang Gyatso and Neil, then ‘Gen Thubten Gyatso’ were then stuck in the cul de sac of being primarily a ‘Shugden’ group – I think that’s why Kelsang Gyatso went to India with Kelsang Pema in 1996 – to see what he could salvage as a ‘campaign’ against His Holiness, not just ostensibly to ‘see’ the political realities.

Gavin Kilty talks about the wider context here:

[3] It’s almost as if, the more logic you use ‘against’ the anti Dalai Lama protesters, the more you alienate them, as Shugden is so ‘normal’ and listening to what His Holiness says is such a big conceptual contrast to what they have been taught to think, that it produces ‘cognitive dissonance’ and ends up increasing their faith in the NKT. It’s difficult for them to think ‘beyond’ the NKT view.

It’s very, very clever. Bound onto the back of Kelsang Gyatso’s ‘love’ for Shugden as it seems to represent his bond with Trijang Rinpoche and his ‘lineage’ and is the ‘residue’ of the actual Tibetan lineage that Kelsang Gyatso holds and tried to give to his students but in a very crude way (without him having to make the actual effort to ‘be’ a spiritual guide to anyone in person), Neil Elliott used this ‘Kelsang Gyatso figurehead’ to create their own ‘New Kadampa Tradition’ using educational, psychological and politically astute management techniques. What many people don’t understand from outside the NKT is how unimportant the actual person of Kelsang Gyatso is in everyday NKT life – your local teacher, centre and the books are far more so. ‘Geshe-la’ was always more of a ‘concept’ than an actual ‘spiritual guide’ – this is more evident now that he no longer appears in public – he ‘appears’ through ‘Heart Jewel’ practice to ‘talk’ to students who so often say they feel ‘close’ to him but what are they actually close ‘to’?

It was a brilliant plan – to make their own ‘tradition’ and then sell ‘their’ Dharma as a product using corporate commercial techniques and building up a world wide empire of real estate by using students almost like ‘slave workers’ – NKT volunteers, including most of the teachers, work for nothing except the ‘privilege of being allowed’ to work for the NKT! The plan inevitably got warped – their campaign hasn’t changed with the times – it used to be more realistic in the late 90s. It’s not now – they have to look harder for justification – which is why their campaigns are becoming more and more absurd. Last week ‘Atisha’s Cook’ – one of the anonymous online protesters – produced a meme stating that His Holiness is ‘worse than Hitler’. ‘Shugden’ is even hyped up as a ‘religion’ in itself.

10  Atishas Cook the Dalai Lama is worse than HitlerThe NKT simultaneously ‘uses’ Tibetan Buddhism as validation and has to keep itself completely separate from it. The protests function to do both, very neatly. It’s difficult to do that, but they managed to pull it off – at least for their own followers! The reality that Gavin Kilty analyses, in the face of this, seems ‘abnormal’ and ‘absurd’. And to us, on this side, the NKT appear utterly absurd! It takes a lot of thought for people of either side to ‘understand’ where the ‘other side’ is coming from at all.

Carol McQuire


NKT Survivor Testimony: “I Am Not Your Teacher”

I Am Not Your Teacher

by Andrea Ballance

The shortcoming of hanging pawns is that they present a convenient target for attack. As the exchange of men proceeds, their potential strength lessens and during the endgame they turn out, as a rule, to be weak. – Boris Spassky

Definition: Hanging pawns are an open, half-isolated duo. It means that they are standing next to each other on the adjacent half-open files, usually on the fourth rank, mutually protecting their stop squares. They share a number of characteristics of weak pawns they are not directly protected by other pawns and may become targets of attack.


Photograph of Kelsang Gyatso, founder of the New Kadampa Tradition, taken from the back cover of “Clear Light of Bliss” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Wisdom Publications, London, 1992. No photographer credited.

I was ordained and living in Manjushri Centre. For as long as I had been there I experienced a troubled relationship with the centre teacher who at the time was Samten Kelsang. I would ask him questions, get cryptic answers, bad answers, an answer read out of one of Kelsang Gyatso’s books or no answer at all.

In his defence, I was passionate about the Dharma and had an unending list of questions to ask and get answers to. I was so utterly blown away by the scriptures and what their meanings could be. I was desperate to talk to people who had more knowledge than me. I probably annoyed him. I know he had no idea how to ‘deal’ with me.

I had tried for many years to be a friend to this teacher and he would fluctuate between being a friend, treating me like a stranger or treating me like I was an enemy trying to harm him. He refused to let me join the Teacher Training Programme like the other students. When my friend asked him why, he just replied, “she is not ready”.

Gradually over the years I became sicker and sicker with what I now think was some form of chronic exhaustion brought on by stress. This also played a part in what people and this teacher thought of me. I think it was widely accepted that I was a shirker and I was lazy.

I was constantly thrown into arguments with this guy. He would say the most shallow things and I would have to check if they were for real or not. I have used this example before, where he said that, “Fat people do not look good, but that thin people might be sick”. He would sit and just stare at people when they were in asking for advice. He would be inappropriate and fixate on lay people. He was unsupportive and very obsessed with his own reputation and his pond-like fame. He was also in very poor health a lot of the time and he tried to hide that from his students. Could one be a Buddha and still be epileptic?

Samten tended to work by the ‘dogs tooth’ method of being a teacher. Better to hide all the flaws, not be open about who you are and let the student ‘project’ pure teacher onto you.

This idiotic and traumatic student-teacher connection ended one summer when this teacher decided he wanted me to be kicked out of Manjushri Centre. He got the management together and convinced them that the best thing for him would be if I was told to leave the centre. I was completely devastated.

Photograph taken by Andrea Ballance.

Photograph taken by Andrea Ballance.

As a nun I never and, I can truly say this, never, approached this teacher without meditating. Either meditating on the cushion, if I felt what was going to be broached would end in an argument, or breathing and taking refuge as I walked up towards him. To me, he had a powerful energy and I found it hard to breathe around him, so I always needed to be clear as to why I was talking to him. So I would take refuge in my guru and the Buddhas…imagine their light shining in through my crown chakra into my heart and then deal with whatever ridiculous situation was before me.

Because of this, because I would take this confusion into my meditations and practice, I was confident that even though I had had troubles with this teacher, I had always done my best. So when the centre management ganged up on me and told me I was to be thrown out, I refused to leave without seeing Kelsang Gyatso. After all I felt that I was straight with my guru and the Buddhas.

I remember in the days that followed the management’s request for me to leave that I cried a lot. Manjushri Centre meant a lot to me and although I had never fitted in and I was endlessly confused there, it was the only place I had ever been a nun. One afternoon while this was all kicking off, I went to the toilet. I had to walk over the chapel to get to the toilets. As I opened the doors I heard two people chatting in the chapel.

The male voice said,

“She will not leave unless she sees Geshe-la’”

A female voice replied,

“She will see him over my dead body”.

Of course they were discussing me.

I was devastated. Exhausted from illness and sure no one would take on a nun that had been thrown out of another centre, I was lost. I had no chance of speaking to my guru – the one person who would be able to see my intention and help me. I had people actively preventing my situation from being told to him. So I would leave the centre, be barred from my guru and have nowhere to go. I was gutted.

Like I said, I was passionate about the Dharma and completely dedicated to my ordination and the life I had stumbled upon. At that point, I had no plan B and I was panicking. My friends started to help me. People tried to smuggle me in to see him and I wrote a letter that a friend either gave to him or just left in his room after she had been to see him. I remember the letter. I could hardly write it. It looked as though it had been written by a child.

A few more days passed and I still was not sure that he had even read the letter. I went to the office and checked my mail and the nun who had exclaimed that I would see Geshe Kelsang “over her dead body” walked up to me. She seemed amused and her voice had softened and she said “Geshe-la will see you” and she gave me a date and time. I said thank you and felt relieved. I nearly didn’t hear what she said over the blood rushing through my veins and the anxiety filling my mind.

I had to prepare to see the guru now. I think I had met him briefly a couple of times but he didn’t know me. In fact, the first time I ever met him was as he was walking around the centre with his entourage. A boy called Chris really wanted Geshe-la to meet me and kept pointing at me and saying my name. Eventually Kelsang Gyatso looked over at me and instead of saying, “Hello”, he said,
“This one is trouble.”

So we weren’t best buddies. We didn’t ‘know’ each other in the ordinary sense of the word but he had ordained me so I thought I could call him my guru and see him in that way. I had no Dharma possessions left because from the moment he arrived in Manjushri Centre, I slowly gave him everything. I don’t want to talk about that because I really was trying to be pure and make good karma for people, and in the hope I made some I don’t want to ruin it by feeling embarrassed about it now.

So I had nothing to take to offer him and I had to buy something. I had a little money and so I managed to get an unfilled statue that was unpainted and a katag and then I just had to wait. I just had to wait and hope he would help me.

Most of the rest of this is a blur for me. I went to the audience with him. He was much smaller than I had remembered him. Bird-like. I sat down and the door was left open. I gave him my offering. We talked about things and the main reason I cannot remember what was actually said was because he was looking at me with a really peaceful face while at the same time shouting at me with a really annoyed, angry voice. He was like two people. He indicated that he needed to sound angry with me for the people outside of the room.

In this audience he told me that I needed to act more like a nun and that he was not my teacher.

I think at that point my mind left the room and shortly after that he let me leave. I stood up and as I left the room the little bird-like guru hugged me. It was a hug that was made out of the energy “sorry”. It said, “I am sorry”. He did not say I am sorry, though the energy of the hug felt like he was trying to say “I am really, really sorry.” After that I went back to my room.

I was devastated all over again. I was just a person who wanted to go to teachings, be a nun, to have a teacher… The whole stream of teachings and pujas and meditations demand that you respect your teacher… that you have a teacher, that you devote yourself to a teacher… When you ordain – you have to realize here that I genuinely thought I was actually ordained – the moment you ordain, your guru is Geshe-la. Every prayer book, meditation guide and ritual prescribe visualizations of the Teacher, the guru – Geshe-la… except he just told me that he wasn’t my teacher.

No words can describe the utter confusion and loss I experienced after that meeting. If he was not my teacher, then what was this ordination about? What was my life about? I was horribly lost. Slowly all the corner pins of my good intention and determination were being kicked out from beneath me.

I really could not resolve the meeting I had had with Geshe-la and I still cannot today.

About a week after the meeting, Geshe-la sent someone to ask me if I would move to Losang Dragpa centre in Todmorden. I was really unsure because I just had a gut instinct that I would not get along with Samden Gyatso, the teacher there, but I agreed because Geshe-la was ‘the guru’.

A few weeks later Samten Kelsang got transferred from Manjushri Centre and appointed the resident teacher of Losang Dragpa Centre – the centre I was moving to. Samden Gyatso was transferred to Manjushri Centre and took over as Resident teacher of the ‘Mother Centre’.

Make what you will of all of I have explained above, because I still have not worked through it all and I have been disrobed for over ten years.

After all of that I just felt like a lost jigsaw piece. I realized that in some way my reputation had been reinstated through moving me to Losang Dragpa rather than simply asking me to leave Manjushri, but there was no solidity, no definite plan, no one who said “Oh, this has been done to help you.” It just felt like I was a joke being played on Samten but maybe I was just being used as a pawn in the bigger NKT game – a game that I had not consented to and still have no understanding of.

This testimony was originally posted on this Facebook Page and is protected by Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND.

line-gothicSee also by Andrea Ballance

More NKT survivors’ testimonies

A Tibetan Translator’s Testimony by Tenzing Wangdak


My Diary – The Ticking Bomb That Took 23 Years To Explode

My name is Tenzing Wangdak. I woke up at around 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning, December 17th, 2014. I was in no mood to go to work. Looking around my bedside, I saw my small computer. I picked it up to navigate through the websites on the internet. There were messages from my Facebook friends. There was one particularly interesting message. The title was “We need to talk about Shugden.” My younger brother Zoksang, who lives in Kingston, New York City, sent it to me. It was about one western Buddhist nun who tells the story of her woeful life when she was studying in the New Kadampa Tradition. She is one of those ex-students of the NKT who came out very strongly against the high level of religious fanaticism and sexual scandals prevailing in the tradition. I asked myself a question – is it the right time to tell my part of the story of the Shugden controversy?

It was way back in March 1991 when I had a face-to-face confrontation with Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. It all started with the decision taken by the FPMT of not allowing any teachers working under the spiritual direction of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to teach Buddhism at any Buddhist centre affiliated to the FPMT. In Menorca, we had a Dharma centre run under the direction of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The resident lama was Geshe Tamding Gyatso, and I was his translator at this modest centre, on this small and beautiful island of Spain. Every year we visited some Buddhist centres in other parts of Spain, mainly in Madrid, Valencia, Alicante and Seville. The FPMT run those centres. Unfortunately, they informed us that Geshe Tamding Gyatso was not allowed to teach anymore at these centres from now onwards.

Well, I thought there might be some good reason that the FPMT had for taking such a decision. Quickly, we learnt that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso had taken the drastic step of transforming the face of all his centres on the pretext of establishing and following a pure Gelugpa tradition. He removed the pictures of H.H. the Dalai Lama from Manjushri Institute, Cumbria, and from all other centres in the United Kingdom. In those days he was a Buddhist teacher highly admired by his disciples, both in England and Spain, for gentleness, simplicity, pure ethical discipline, knowledge and meditation. I thought a great meditation master would never make such a mistake. Someone who, I thought, was a role model for those who followed the model of study and practice established and guided by Lama Tsongkapa.

Photo of Kyabje Khen Tamding Gyatso Rimpoche

Photo of Kyabje Khen Tamding Gyatso Rimpoche

Here at Menorca, we learnt the true news. Geshe Tamding Gyatso, our resident teacher, was very upset. It was in the middle of November, 1990, we were at the house of the director of our centre. I said to Geshe-la that there might be some kind of misunderstanding, and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso would not make such a mistake. I even insisted he make a call to clarify the situation. At the beginning he was hesitant but decided to do so. They talked for almost one hour and we were wondering what was going on. He was not saying much. Yes, yes, here and there, nothing more. The person on the other end of the phone line was doing all the talking. After the call, Geshe Tamding Gyatso said to me; “How could he be such a ruthless sectarian?” There was a deep frown on his face. I found him really upset. The board members of our centre were nervous and very unhappy. They openly told us that the attitude of Geshe Kelsang was not justifiable, and they were thinking of having a separate Dharma centre independent of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.

After a few days, we invited Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to come over to our centre to clarifying the on-going controversy of Shugden worship. At that time he was at Manjushri Institute, he accepted the invitation and decided to impart some basic Buddhist teachings during one weekend in March, the following year.

Our director was so sure of himself that the prospect of opening an independent Dharma centre under the direct spiritual direction of the resident Lama, Geshe Tamding Gyatso seemed a reality. The visit of Geshe Kelsang was drawing near and we were cleaning the centre to welcome him. The centre was in a three-storey building on the main street of Notario Quintana in Cuitadella de Menorca. Geshe Kelsang was to stay in my room. So I cleaned it up. One night I dreamt of Geshe Kelsang entering the main door of the centre and giving me a stick. I woke up in the morning with a strong feeling that something unpleasant was going to happen.

On Friday 23rd, March 1991 he visited our centre. I greeted him warmly. He reciprocated with the same customary Tibetan greeting. One Spanish nun accompanied him wherever he went. He looked thin and frail. On the same day, in evening, the centre performed the Dorjee Shugden Invocation Ritual. From September 1987 to March 1991 when the centre performed the Shugden Invocation Ritual, there were not usually more than three or four persons participating. It was always done on the 29th day of every month. That same evening, Geshe Tamding Gyatso, the resident teacher, invited Geshe Kelsang Gyatso to assist in the ceremony, but he was too tired and too weak to attend. I was on the ground floor, lying on the sofa, watching TV. I saw more and more people coming one after another to join the ritual for the first time in more than three years. Later, I could hear the sound of damarus, ringing bells and chanting in perfect harmony. I felt very sad, frustrated and helpless. There was nothing I could do to prevent them from joining the ceremony. I was completely broken inside. They were completely overwhelmed by Geshe Kelsang’s presence. After the completion of the ritual, the people returned home happily. The director saw me sullen and sulky. I had a brief conversation with him. “Well”, he said to me, “we are very happy to have you here as our translator. We want you to stay with us.” I looked straight at his face.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso commanded respect and submission. The sight of him fascinated them with awe and reverence. They idolised him the way I used to idolise some Bollywood hero when I was a teenager.

Next day, March 24th, Geshe Kelsang gave Dorjee Shugden initiation for which some new people joined to receive it. It was shocking to see people happily participating it in the hope of receiving protection from the worldly spirit in their lives. I found the arrangement manipulative in the hope of attracting more people to spread it far and wide.

On 25th/26th March, in the morning around 10 a.m., the two Geshes met in the room where Geshe Kelsang was staying. Their talk lasted for 2 hours. I was in the kitchen, and suddenly Geshe Tamding Gyatso entered to prepare momo (Tibetan dumplings) for lunch. He was not his usual self, but a bit agitated. So, I asked him, “What has happened to you?” Geshela replied, “Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was accusing me of trying to separate him from his centre. I told him frankly that I would never do such thing. It was, in fact, the board members of the centre who wanted to do it.” Geshe Kelsang continued, “If it was not you, then, most probably, it was Tenzing, the translator, who influenced them to do so, because he was from Dharamsala.” Geshe Tamding Gyatso came to my defence telling him that it was not true at all. What prompted me to meet Geshe Kelsang in his room to have a private talk was his sheer lack of respect towards a senior geshe. Geshe Tamding Gyatso was senior to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. He was an authentic geshe of the highest class, whose mastery over tantric knowledge of Shri Guhasamaja, Heruka, Yamantaka, Kalachakra and Vajra Yogini was just breath taking. All kinds of tantric rituals were at his fingertips. I saw him performing them by heart. The wrong accusation was the last straw that broke the camel´s back.

After lunch, I went straight into Geshe Kelsang´s room. I greeted him warmly and hesitantly asked him if I could have a talk with him. He called me in warmly and I sat down on the floor. He was sitting upright on the bed. So I took the initiative of breaking the ice.

“Geshela, I am not happy with the way that the Shugden empowerment was given here yesterday, because there were several new people who had never received the basic Buddhist teaching and have no idea whatsoever of the protector Dorjee Shugden. They received the Empowerment. I think it is against the basic guideline of Tibetan Buddhism.” My explanation provoked a strong anger in him. He angrily replied, “Tenzing, it is not your business.” He repeated the phrase several times. Then he continued, “the work of a translator is to translate and nothing more, and the work of a resident teacher is to teach, nothing more. It is the board members who run the centre.” He continued, “Yesterday, the board members came up here to tell me that, not only you hate Dorjee shugden, you also hate me?” I was bewildered, could not believe my ears. However, I kept my cool and answered him firmly, “It is a sheer lie, and how could I hate Dorjee Shugden when I don´t know him. I continued saying, “I have never hated you. Had I hated you I would have never read your books and manuscripts!” I looked up at him and saw him seething with sheer anger, taking in a deep breath, and looking up at the ceiling. Suddenly he looked down and questioned me defiantly, “I want to test your skill in the art of debate, for you have studied Buddhist philosophy for many years. “Is Kyabje Trijang Dorjeechang a root spiritual teacher of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama?” I replied, ”He, indeed, is one of them.” Kelsang Gyatso continued, “If he is one of the root teachers, how could Dalai Lama possibly go against the words of his own teacher?” At this point, he went ballistic and yelled, “He cannot go against his own teacher´s words. When we do Dorjee Shugden practice we are doing a favour to the Dalai Lama. We do not bring disgrace to him.” He then kept silence for a moment and came out with more aggressive, cold and calculated comments.

“He (the Dalai Lama) is Nyingmapa, Zogchenpa, and the one who has broken the spiritual relationship between himself and his teacher. His lineage is impure.” At this stage of the conversation I found the atmosphere in the room unbearable. I felt unsettled. Anyhow, I kept cool and retaliated with the following answer, “If a disciple can not comply with the words of his lama, he can tell this politely to his teacher.” I cited the 24th stanza from the text of Ashavagosha, Fifty stanzas of Guru yoga”.

Intelligent disciple, with joyful mind,
Listen the lama’s words with enthusiasm.
Explain to him in words
If you can´t comply with it.

For a moment, silence reigned in the room and I took the opportunity to end the conversation with the following comforting words.

“I am an ordinary monk who works as a Dharma translator and you are a Dharma teacher. So, there is no comparison whatsoever. We do have very distinct viewpoints with regard to Shugden issue. You think you are always right, and I think I am right. But, who knows who is right? I follow H.H. the Dalai Lama. I, therefore, will leave the centre for good. You find a good Dharma translator for Geshela, someone who propitiates Dorjee Shugden. The voice within me says that I am right, not wrong. Excuse me if I am wrong.” He was completely taken aback by my final words. He kept silent meanwhile I went out of the room.

He realized that I could not be pushed over easily. I kept my cool under the most difficult situation. At the end of the day, I found him callous, ruthless, devious, obstinate and unyielding. Indeed, he was a hard nut to crack.

After the summer, 1991, I left the centre. In Menorca, life was easy and comfortable. I enjoyed summer life on beautiful beaches for three years with my Spanish friends. However, I decided to leave the centre. I worked there for more than three years without any payment. I had nothing to lose and more to gain from such a decision. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the risk to find a better future life.

I used to admire Geshe Kelsang. At one stage of my life I thought he was a role model for many Buddhist practitioners. Unfortunately, he turns out to be one of the worst Buddhist fundamentalists the Buddhist world has seen in many years. He has completely forgotten the life of Lama Tsongkapa who studied under the great masters of other schools. My teacher, Gen Lobsang Gyatso, was completely right when he said to me in 1986, “It is ironic that when you meet Kelsang Gyatso for the first time, he appears be a gentle, soft, and simple monk. He gives you the impression of someone who is on the verge of attaining Buddhahood in two or three days, but, he is rotten from inside in real life.”

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was once considered a great meditation master, but now he is outcast officially not only from his own monastery of Sera Je, but also from the Gelukpa Society. At present, he is lying low, but still he is using his students to defame the Dalai Lama at all costs. He accuses the Dalai Lama of the violation of Human Rights, but he is blind to his own act of destroying lives of NKT survivors. He accuses the Dalai Lama of banning religious freedom but he prohibits people from reading Dharma books of fellow Buddhist teachers. How dare he say that he is following the pure lineage of Lama Tsongkhapa, while not allowing his own students to read Lama Tsongkapa’s books! I was flabbergasted to realize that there were no Dharma books other than his own books in the bookstores of his centres.

He says that the Shugden is Lama Tsongkapa’s manifestation, when more than 95% of Tibetan Buddhists consider him as a terrifying worldly spirit. He, in fact, degrades Tsongkapa to the status of a worldly deity. What a shame!

His long, reclusive life has taken a mental toll on him. He has gone insane to the point of no return. His hatred and resentment towards the Dalai Lama is clearly reflected on the banners and the placards written with “21st century Buddhist Dictator”, a “liar”, “the saffron robed Muslim”, a man whose “real nature is cruel and very evil”, etc.

It was in January, 1993, one year and a half after I left their dharma centre, when Geshe Kelsang Gyatso revisited it and carried out the so-called “Lineage cleansing”. He threw out some old members of the centre, who were his fervent admirers and Dorjee Shugden worshippers, without obvious reason.

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso once said that Geshe Tamding Gyatso was the most qualified dharma teacher to come to the west. This time, he gave him no choice but to leave the centre. Geshe Kunchok Tsewang, then resident teacher at Manjushri Institute, retired at the age of 68 without choice. They sent him back to his monastery in South India. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is now 83 years old, but still holds a firm grip on all the centres of NKT. He does not want to renounce the absolute power he enjoys. What I find so unbelievable is that a man who is considered “the third Buddha” by his own followers is not spared from the unholy trinity of power, status and wealth.

The big difference between the two geshes is that Geshe Tamding Gyatso went on to become the abbot of Ganden Shartse Monastery, thus fulfilling his lifelong dream before his death, whereas Geshe Kelsang Gyatso remains a monastic outcast of Gelugpa Society.

The devil inside him makes his Dharma
Practice dust
Resentment flows deep in his blood,
Nipping the bud of empathy in his heart.
Ignorance obscures his mind completely
His frenzied mind runs like a wild elephant
His ego fills up like a balloon
That is sure to burst.
His behaviours do not match his preaching.
Hence, his books are worthless scrap of paper.
I feel sorry for him.

I write this testimony to fully support the NKT survivors who have taken the right decision to break away from the NKT. One of my Tibetan friends insisted that I do this. Personally, I have nothing against Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. His attitude and behaviour in the recent years are so intolerable for Tibetans that I take the opportunity to tell the truth. The people of the NKT need to take the blindfolds off their eyes and see the wider world of Buddhism. It is high time for them to stop running the ugly show of protest and come to their senses. Geshe Kelsang needs to recover from his spiritual madness. He can still rectify his mistakes and leave them behind as if they were a terrible nightmare. It is not surprising that a human being makes mistakes – one after another. Man is the only animal who trips over the same stone twice. After all, we are emotional creatures.

By Tenzing Wangdak.

20th January 2015


Originally posted

More Testimonies


Buddhist Bullshit

Post-Traditional Buddhism

I generally avoid getting political on this blog. Not because I am apolitical, or think it too messy a subject to broach, but because I have used this blog primarily as an exercise in exploring ideas and experiences I personally find curious and interesting. It’s been a primarily personal affair.
Although I have been attempting to write a blog post on non-duality this December, I have failed three times and the pleasure in the task has evaporated, which is never a good sign. In wondering what to write next, I was surfing the net on Boxing Day and came across a couple of videos by ex-members of a Western Buddhist organisation of which I was a solid member for a number of years, even once considering ordination (yikes!). The organisation is called the NKT (New Kadampa Tradition) and is to be found on many cult-watch websites.
I was involved with…

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Concerning The Protests At The Teachings Of H.H. The Dalai Lama: A Resolution Proposal II

Dear Nicholas Pitts/Kelsang Rabten,

Re: Resolution of the Shugden Conflict by the Removal of its Causes

First of all, can I thank you for responding in a spirit which demonstrates a sincere wish to resolve this unfortunate dispute.

I would like to address your response to my original request [copied after minor editing below] by taking each point at a time.

Your response suggests the following:

  1. That I send this current reply directly to the ISC
  2. Provide you with information about the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama.
  3. Confirm whether the Dalai Lama has knowledge of the contact being made and whether he supports it.
  4. You advise that “If someone genuinely close to the Dalai Lama made contact, and did so with the Dalai Lama’s knowledge and support, with the intention of moving towards a resolution I am certain there would be a very positive response from the ISC”

With regard to point 1, I would like to offer the following observation.

This point is a request that our communications be conducted privately, beyond public scrutiny. I am afraid I am unwilling to do this. You are aware, I am sure, of your anonymous correspondent Indy Hack’s recent, controversial decision to publish the content of a personal communication with Columbia University’s Professor Barnett online, despite Professor Barnett stating categorically that he objected to this in no uncertain terms. Indy Hack justified the decision to publicize the comments, stating, “What he said to me has such bearing on the protests and is so overwhelmingly in the public interest, I felt there was no choice but to share it”.

Since the current communication concerns bringing those same protests to an end, I feel it is similarly appropriate that our communication be conducted in the full glare of public scrutiny. This will ensure that nothing is hidden from anyone, as well as ensuring that all those involved, those affected, the general public and the press are free at all times to observe our progress and conduct. This is only fair; there should be no secrets, nor a ruling elite who decide how the situation should unfold from behind closed doors.

Points 2 asks that I provide you with information about the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama as a prerequisite to further dialogue.

Here, I would refer you to two useful ideas from the Buddhist tradition. While personally, I abhor the tendency in myself and others to preach to others how to practice Dharma, there are nevertheless certain teachings that can help us understand practicalities in life and indeed how to set such preconditions might be limiting and unwise. I hope you will forgive my apparent condescent.

The first of these is the parable of the poisoned arrow, from the Cula-Malunkyovada Sutta from the Theravadin Majjhima Nikaya, which I am sure you are familiar with. For the sake of those who are not, and to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first.”

The second is the the teaching on the ‘Four Reliances’, common to the Theravadin and Mahayana traditions, in particular the first two, which state:

  1. Do not rely on the personality of the individual but on the message
  2. Do not rely on the words of the message but on their meaning

I will not preach to you about the meaning of these; they are self explanatory.

Nevertheless, I hope you understand my point. Who I am and the nature of my relationship with the Dalai Lama are somewhat irrelevant here. What is most important, whoever I am and whatever that relationship, is that I have the ear of many of the important players in this issue, Tibetans and Westerners alike and moreover, that they consider my ideas and opinions valid and important. I can assure that both are definitely the case, as those who know me and with whom you have conversed have confirmed. This is a genuine offer to you on my part for me to use whatever influence I have to help all those affected by the discrimination you and I both find abhorrent.

Moreover, I would point out to you that, even imagining I were part of the Dalai Lama’s innermost circle, this would be to your distinct disadvantage rather than to your benefit. Historically, in such situations those closest to such figures are often reactionary in their outlook, overwhelmed by a sense of their own importance along with their opinions, enduring deep seated delusions of their own grandeur. Clearly, such an individual would be useless to you in resolving issues such as those we wish to address here. Far better that you have an independent who holds a moderate perspective and yet has the ear of the hierarchs, who advocates a ‘middle way’ and who has the interests of all parties involved at heart.

Your final points are related and as follows:

3. Confirm whether the Dalai Lama has knowledge of the contact being made and whether he supports it.

4. You advise that “If someone genuinely close to the Dalai Lama made contact, and did so with the Dalai Lama’s knowledge and support, with the intention of moving towards a resolution I am certain there would be a very positive response from the ISC”

With regard to point 3, I have no idea whether His Holiness is yet aware of my decision to suggest all that I have done below since, as I made clear originally, I am entirely independent; I do not work for the Dalai Lama and I therefore do not need to seek his permission to act. Moreover, my decision to approach the issue in this manner was made less than 72 hours ago and is therefore a relatively new development. Nevertheless, I will forward the content of this communication to the relevant persons and ask that he be made aware. As to whether he supports such a contact, it goes without saying that His Holiness’ only concern is the happiness and freedom from suffering of all beings, regardless of their persuasion. In light of this, I think it safe to assume that he would support our initiative, since its sole purpose is to end suffering and restore peace and happiness to our communities.

I have already answered point 4 above, inter alia. I sincerely hope that we can move forwards on this and achieve a happy end as soon as possible, for the benefit of all involved.

Please take time to consider your response. The festive season is upon is, which usually brings with it a significant drop in activity on many fronts. Can I suggest you let me have your response to my original suggestions no later than the 5th of January, 2015, by which time you should have been able to discuss the issues and reached your conclusions?

Best wishes


Subsequent to posting the offer below, I was advised that in Dharamsala, The ‘Global Tibetan Volunteers for the Truth’ (GTVT which have a definite connection to the CTA) are now placing NEW signs around town —I’ve seen the image. The new sign from the GTVT reads: ‘Give up alcohol your health will be better – Give up Shugden you will be happier / feel better.”

The GTVT have previously posted unattributed inflammatory material. Whether they are linked to the CTA is open to investigation. Nevertheless, it is clear that they have an aggressive agenda, which can only harm any peace process. Should you respond favourably, I can assure that everything will be done to bring such aggressive manifestations to an end.

Original  Proposal [edited version]


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