With a heavy heart, I join several others who have written to this web site - one of seemingly countless repositories of NKT information, good, bad and ugly.
Though I supported the local center for 6 years, I was banned from NKT yesterday for allegedly posting negative comments about the center on the Internet. No examples, no substantiation, no discussion, I was simply banned.
I have seen that NKT promotes Gyatso as a Buddha, one of infinite knowledge. Why did it take Gyatso so long to have me banned, or did he have a vision that he already got all the money he was going to get from me? Maybe NKT did not like that I decided not to fund the building a few years ago of a new NKT temple in my city and, feeling rejected, elected to reject me. I have no rational explanation for NKT's action to ban my further participation.
Consider the absurdity of being banned by an organization. Would a legitimate religion or company ban an attendee or customer for purportedly making negative comments. Would an amazon.com customer be banned for making negative comments about amazon.com or a book purchased? Would a restaurant ban a customer for making negative comments? Would a car dealer ban you from the dealership for making negative comments about the car dealer? Would an honest pastor ban a member of the church for saying negative comments? Or, instead, wouldn't they all at least try to resolve any misunderstanding for everyone's benefit?
Of course, corrupt and illegitimate organizations tend to ban those exposing their misconduct. Assume NKT's scary premise, that I made negative comments about the center. Does it make sense to be banned? All I can conclude is that NKT is either childish, paranoid and/or corrupt/illegitimate.
I was surprised by being targeted by NKT for a ban. A strange policy that I understood NKT executed elsewhere finally arrived at the small local center. Fortunately for me I suppose, unlike many others who NKT has banned and devastated, I do not rely on NKT for housing, meals or employment.
By the way, negative comments are not necessarily the same as false comments, which I also have not distributed. Cultivated by my inherent ethical life and by my long experience as a reliable expert for print, radio and television media and testifying under oath before government agencies and as a court-accepted expert in legal compliance and corporate ethics, none of my positions is knowingly untrue and without significant substantiation. Incidentally, I have not found a statement in this web site that NKT may try to argue is adverse that is not well documented.
Until yesterday, my views about the local center had been largely supportive. About a week ago, I paid for an upcoming event preparing attendees for the Summer Festival but was informed by the administrative director that my payment would be refunded. Belatedly, perhaps, I can no longer support the center.
Six years of contributions down the drain. I had participated with numerous events/courses/retreats and a powa (a transference of consciousness after death ritual), enjoyed many yummy foods, was once a center sponsor (until disillusioned by the center's teacher), purchased most of the organizations books and CDs/DVDs, purchased several 9 inch statues and many other commemorative pieces, received many promises of substantial karmic merit from center teachers and board members...to arrive alas, perhaps inevitably, at my NKT 'graduation', one of the infamous bans the questionable 'tradition' seems to be famous for.
Several times at the center and elsewhere the past 6 years, I recommended to many to attend events and teachings at the center, producing many attendances and purchases. In 2003, amidst much confusion at the center, I interceded with county government officials to clarify the center's building plans for a temple and other property improvements, and submitted my endorsement in writing for the project (which has yet to begin even after at least 6 years of fundraising; my inquiries about the temple's status deflected).
Last August, the center asked for my help to troubleshoot its ailing computers, leading me to spend about a week on them and also build a new computer for the center and install new operating systems and an office software package costing me over $1,800 so that the center would have a reliable computer to host its music at center events and to broadcast center teachings on the Internet. The center replied last September,
"I really appreciate the fact that you donated that computer. If you hadn't they would not be able to record the study program classes. They also wouldn't have had any working computer if you didn't clean up the beige box as well."
I have spent over $5,000 with the organization (and considered donating far more), including contributing towards the sending of a center monk to a tantra festival in England. Many viewed me as an experienced and dedicated Buddhist, including the center's new resident teacher, who wrote me (amongst other discussion),
"It was wonderful to meet and speak with you...Thank you for coming and taking the time to share your views with me...Feel free to write again with any further questions...You study a lot, it's very impressive!"
About a month ago, I updated the center's information with a helpful local spiritual newsletter so that the center's information was accurate and put in a good word about the local center as I have done with dozens of individuals the past 6 years. The center had not updated its information for the last few years.
Though many at the center were devastated by the ousting of its senior teacher and the resignation of its pivotal administrative director a year ago for not supporting the organization's new political battle against the Dalai Lama (facts known independently around the world), leading many to leave the center, I was encouraged by the fresh and articulate young nun even if she was sent to 'revitalize' the center to bring it into compliance with corporate public policy. We had many thought-provoking discussions and email exchanges about many matters, including about my concern with the spectacle of NKT protests against the Dalai Lama around the world contradicting Buddhism's compassionate aims. She included at least one of our discussions into her teaching. Though I felt she was limiting her potential, possibly even tragically, she seemed happy in her role, even if many attending the past Valentine's Day event and several other events at the center expressed shortcomings and usually did not return.
Many asked me within and distant from the center about the international controversy generated by the parent organization, but I pointed out that though I could not understand it either (but sent an email a year ago to NKT's spiritual director in my country advising against the protests against the Dalai Lama*), the local center seemed removed from that controversy and the center had much to offer (at least I had hoped they did).
I regretfully accept now that the local center reflects its global image, folks who like to dress up and act like Buddhists but at their core effectively reject Buddhism in favor of self gratification.
Like many others have concluded, I can no longer support the center. I understand that others from the center have expressed their concerns as I am now doing.
I drive by the center often during the course of my daily activities, wondering why there is such great turnover among center attendees. I wonder why so little seems to be happening at the center these days, including proper care of its grounds. I wonder why almost all of the most dedicated students left, why various teachers have left and why those training to be teachers rarely become teachers. I wonder why what could have been to profoundly improve lives will not.
Like the offerings throughout this web site and its numerous documentary references, which I have immersed myself with the last 24 hours and from which I have learned much, at first there seems to be nothing new in my story, reminding me of NKT's recurring response to any discussion about its mission that NKT seeks to trivialize, 'there is nothing new'. Perhaps, inside the mind space of NKT there is nothing new, but this does not mean that our experiences and evaluations are meaningless and automatically wrong and inconsequential as NKT wishes. Like each of our lives, each of our experiences matters.
The surprise action against me by my local center yesterday led to my researching its parent organization more deeply, compelling me to share my story to help others avoid similar fates, though my story is far from as traumatic as so many others have reported for nearly 20 years.
After much consideration and a long meditational walk, I have come to support this web site's stated "heart-felt plea that Gyatso, his NKT cult and his spiteful devotees relinquish their offensive public ego display and their abuse of esteemed Tibetan teachers of Buddhism. Show the world compassion, not militancy."
I also agree with what this web site's home page says,
"Buddhism is beautiful. To some, Buddhism is a deeply spiritual and endless journey, to others a profound religion, and to others a science of the mind. Buddhism is all these things and much more.
Compassion and wisdom are Buddhism's inspiration and purpose - love, happiness and relieving suffering have guided the lives and destiny of practicing Buddhists everywhere.
According to the cosmology of Buddhism we are all connected. What affects each of us affects all of us. What we do during our lives generates karma, which helps guide our individual and collective happiness in this life and in our future lives. We live and evolve in a profoundly connected universe.
The ultimate purpose of all of our lives is to help others. Through our compassion we increase happiness and reduce suffering so that all of us will realize our invevitable destiny, enlightenment, as soon as possible."
It is truly amazing how much and for how long disturbing information about NKT controversy, misconduct and quarrel with Buddhism has been readily available, the most revealing of which has been published by NKT itself. Critical coverage of NKT public policy and scandals - published by a wide array of independent sources - appears to document the largest religious controversy in the world and to challenge NKT's claim of practicing Buddhism or adhering to Kadampa teachings.
How I was treated by the local center exemplifies the dark essence of NKT. Obviously, the local center had some sort of committee meeting to discuss what NKT construed as my anti-center behavior, horrible enough to NKT to be banned. Rather that practice Buddhism and reach out to embrace me, or at least get the facts and clarification (about NKT's allegations against me), particularly since I had been involved for 6 years and was promised so much beneficial karma for my many contributions and enthusiasm, the decision was made to push me away. All I got was a brief timid phone call telling me I was banned. No discussion, no compassion. Click, and dial tone.
Being banned is ok with me. Like most, I do not want to go where I am not wanted. It is saddening that the center went the way of its notorious parent.
Nevertheless, I agree with a previous essay on this web site,
"We must help NKT.
Encourage their dedication to Buddhism, their refuge vows in the Three Jewels and their understanding of samsara. Greet them kindly, hug them, regardless of the harm they have caused.
Their preocupation with protests and web sites and blog posts against Buddhists is like a mother to us, teaching us the futility of anger and ego. Their dramatic decline in orchestrating attacks against the Dalai Lama and on the Internet may be a good omen.
They will eventually find compassion...for the benefit of all of us."
* My 14 May 2008 email to the NKT's Spiritual Director in my country...
"I sent the following to the center last Friday, but have had no reply. I enjoyed your introduction of (the center's new teacher), and look forward to attending her teaching. I use to be active in the Center and would have enabled (ie, paid for) the build of the new temple, but tired of (the previous teacher's) arrogance and evasiveness, painting for me a portrait of deceit. Please forgive my edge, but I am profoundly concerned about the orchestrated media spectacle of Buddhists protesting each other and its likely effect of doing far more harm than good. I believe you will find via marketing research that the viewing public sees nothing attractive about Buddhism after watching or reading about these demonstrations.
Rather than participate with the egregious name calling and an array of other samsaric egoistic sufferings throughout the web site of the Western Shugden Society and partly echoed Wednesday (effectively, a disturbing political message for the world, which will do far more damage, especially to subtle minds, than what the Dalai Lama is being blamed for), far greater adherence to Tsongkappa’s teachings throughout The Great Treatise would be achieved by showing the world and each other the fruits of compassion by practicing compassion in real rather than meditative and passive and negative ways. If the Dalai Lama is wrong, he should be helped rather than blamed. Rather than bitterness aimed at the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, and rather than demonstrate hatred in preparation for and during the planned demonstration against the Dalai Lama as the sadly-political denouement of the Spring Festival’s Vajrapani Empowerment, far greater good will be achieved by helping others, not showing the world another ‘he said she said’. The theater of a march against the Dalai Lama at the conclusion of a Vajrapani Empowerment will make Shakyamuni and Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara wince and help the world turn away from holiness. What the Dalai Lama does need not interfere with compassion and wisdom; certainly attacking the Dalai Lama attacks compassion and wisdom, more ours than his. Those reaching further down the path need not pause to show the world more ugliness. Any of us with the strength of enlightenment surely will do better. I keep asking, why not use this strength?
Pray that I am not ostracized in any fashion described in the Tibetan Situation Today – Surprising Hidden News.
On a supportive note, (our county's spiritual leader's) description of the purpose of revolving Resident Teachers is well taken, to show that the message is independent of messenger."
I did not receive a reply...until yesterday.
I still cannot understand why NKT, which has long been independent from the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, chose to stifle its beneficial potential with its irrelevant fight against the Dalai Lama and its interference with Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan Government in Exile. NKT's bad reputation is self inflicted, as most notorious reputations are.
We regret receiving this essay, yet another account of NKT banning one of its active members, who supported the local center if not its corporate headquarters. We are grateful that the author was not damaged as so many others have been by NKT. It appears that NKT has a retention problem with its visitors, students and teachers.
We agree with the author that, "NKT is either childish, paranoid and/or corrupt/illegitimate."
NKT continues to represent the largest contingent of visitors to this web site and despite numerous invitations over the last several months has yet to report any errors in this web site. If NKT supplies corrections, they are likely to be shared here.
This report inspired our graphic designer to offer the following 'merit' badge,