NKT's Style of Buddhism - Dress Like Tibetan Clergy and Protest against Buddhists
NKT May Target You Too
This essay is for visitors to a NKT center or festival, those considering NKT's version of ordination, those hoping that NKT offers genuine Buddhism, those assuming that NKT is not politically motivated, those assuming that Kelsang Gyatso is respected by his peers and teachers, those with dependant/compulsive/obsessive/addictive personalities, those hoping that NKT might solve their loneliness, and especially young NKT monks and nuns who might have prematurely joined NKT. Inside NKT your ego will be patronized. Life outside NKT offers much more spiritual and loving potential and richer experiences of wisdom and compassion.
Visits to a NKT center can be deceiving.
Usually, we see peaceful space and community. The teachers soft spoken and enthusiastic, we listen quietly. During our meditations we privately admire the beautiful art and statues. During breaks we chat with others more relaxed. Our attraction to Buddhism is rewarded with a sense of calmness and a peek at hopeful insights and fulfillment should we continue our participation.
Some of us are inspired to go further and enter into more formal teaching programs and sometimes join NKT's administration and clergy. Many of us enjoy volunteering at NKT events or for NKT projects.
Our experiences become self fulfilling. It feels good. We think that we might have found our destiny or at least the prospect for deeper meaning in our lives. Some of us can afford to attend NKT festivals to intensify our sense of participation and exercise our yearning for a like-minded community. We listen to Kesang Gyatso, spellbound and now feeling comfortable with joining those who speak of him as Geshe-la. Many of us become attached to our center's teachers and cry when they leave.
Some of us isolate ourselves from the world, bit by bit. The promise of merit toward a quick path to complete happiness becomes overpowering. Deeper involvement with NKT and decreasing involvement with the regular world are mesmerizing. Our new sense of holiness is, bit by bit, intensified by seemingly holy rationalizations for self cherishing. We fall into a stew of gratifying self righteousness at all costs. Some of us begin to feel superior to others.
We notice that no Buddhist teachings other than Kelsang Gyatso's are presented or discussed inside NKT, but dismiss a sense of uneasiness or confusion because Kelsang Gyatso's books and his teachings shared with us by our teachers seem more than sufficient for our new found path to nirvana. We wince when our questions about other traditions are deflected, but readily forgo further pursuit because of the many gratifications we experience and the many promises of merit towards our ultimate destiny of happiness.
Bit by bit, we forget the Mahayana goal and Bodhisattva vow of preferentially working to help others so that we can fuel our egocentric path for happiness. Some of us see no problem in joining NKT's battles against Buddhists from other traditions and from unfaithful ex students and clergy of NKT.
Bit by bit, we distance ourselves from Buddhism though we pretend to be and sometimes dress as Buddhists.
A previous essay here described the process...
"I wanted to become a Buddhist monk after having read the Four Noble Truths. Even in my childhood I had the wish to become a monk. Looking for a place where I could become a Buddhist monk, I learned about the NKT through Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s book, The Meditation Handbook, and the posters of NKT.
Moving into the NKT center, I had a some Dharma books, including a Dzogchen book and one from HHDL. When the teacher saw me with these books he said, "We study here pure Dharma books,” looking displeasingly on my two Dharma books. Shortly after this episode, he showed me Geshe-la's books, saying “These are pure Dharma books." Then I heard about the dangers of mixing 'pure Dharma' with 'impure Dharma', as Geshe Kelsang puts it...Assuming this to be true I threw these and my other Dharma texts into the garbage because I now feared that I might destroy pure Dharma by mixing it and thereby ‘harming countless living beings’ – doing evil. Subsequently, I did not read any Dharma book other than Geshe-la’s because I feared polluting my mind.
When I studied Geshe-la's book Understanding the Mind, I became even more convinced that I had acted correctly in throwing my previous Dharma books in the garbage, because on pages 166/167 Geshe-la states, “it is mixing different religious traditions that causes sectarianism...studying non-religious subjects is less of an obstacle to our spiritual progress than studying religions of different traditions...the practices taught by one teacher will differ from those taught by another, and if we try to combine them we will become confused, develop doubts, and lose direction."
The next things I learned were: Geshe-la is a Buddha, Geshe-la is completely reliable and knows the three times (present, past and future), and my NKT teacher is not different from him. If I see faults in them this is due to my impure mind, because Buddhas - unlike me who is a deluded being whose perception is not reliable - don’t see faults, they have “pure view”.
I was asked to give a loan. I gave all my savings and when I asked later to get it back they said I should be patient. They gave me the feeling that I was addicted to my money. Likewise, my cupboard and another person's couch were taken over. This other person was told he was addicted to his couch; therefore, he may be reborn as a tiny insect in that couch in the future.
Step by step, I was sucked into the system of NKT until I was quite brainwashed, deceiving myself and others. All of us were only worried about gaining "realizations" by being devoted to Geshe-la and doing what he said and giving them money, time and energy to NKT for our sake to accumulate merit, because without merit there would be no spiritual progress and no realizations.
I learned also that HHDL is possessed by a Mara (evil spirit) and is destroying the pure Buddhadharma and has broken with his root guru (this implied, he will go to hell for this of course) and is forcing others to do likewise. So we, including me, started to organize international protests 1996-1998. NKT convinced me so much how evil HHDL was, that I started to hate him and to convince all people how bad the Dalai Lama was. Another nun confessed to me that her hate towards HHDL; another nun shredded her picture of HHDL. However, the protests became very aggressive and hostile; I felt very uncomfortable.
I learned that the last pure being on earth is Geshe-la and HHDL is an evil oppressor of religious freedom, is merely a worldly politician and is destroying the pure tradition of his rot guru, Trijang Rinpoche.
Later, I recognized that not only that I had such experiences, they seemed to be symptomatic for and systemic in NKT (experiences of other NKT monks appear elsewhere on this web site).
My NKT experience was like eating a sweet but poisoned fruit. The taste was sweet in the beginning; there were good times and good things I learned. Later, the poison started to ruin me.
I expect that NKT will use their usually strategy to blame the reporter as mentally unhealthy or emotionally unstable or something similar - as they have often done it the past."
This ex NKT monk's prediction was correct. NKT has repeatedly vilified him on several NKT web sites and in hundreds if not thousands of NKT Internet blog posts.
While this Buddhist voluntarily left NKT, many others have been banned by NKT from their rooms/apartments they rent from NKT or from further attendance at NKT events for asking questions about NKT's battles with Buddhists.
Click here for one of NKT's enemy lists (click the blue rectange to go to NKT's sordid descriptions of some of NKT's perceived enemies, Profiles of People who Post on the Internet Against the NKT). Would a legitimate Buddhist group sponsor such web sites to publish its unscrupulous ridicule against its perceived enemies? How would you feel to be added to NKT's enemy list? (note: NKT has several similar web sites)
Consider another common story...
"Over the last 6 years, it has taken me some time to be able to build up the courage and openly express the way I felt and more importantly what I have encountered over the period of time I have been a member of this tradition. I have now left the tradition and feel able to talk and discuss this matter with out being controlled by fear.
When I first met the NKT it was due to reading several books by HH. The Dalai Lama (HH represents His Holiness). For some time I had been studying his texts and trying to practice them to the best of my ability. I had a strong connection with Chenrezig and also strong devotion towards HH. I prayed regularly and made offerings to images of HH and Chenrezig so that I may be able to enter in to Lama Tsongkhapa's doctrine and take ordination. I found the NKT in the north of England and felt totally comfortable as they were also Gelug, or so I thought.
Shortly after enrolling in a study program, I came in to contact with the issue surrounding Geshe Kelsang and HH. I couldn't understand why it was happening and was told it was due to HH destroying the Gelug lineage. I was told that Maras possessed HH and that he planed to have Geshe Kelsang assassinated. I couldn't figure out what was going on, HH was and still is I may add a great source of inspiration to me however, I felt as though I was placed in a position to embrace Geshe Kelsang as my Root Guru and renounce HH and the Tibetan traditions. I was told that it was best to only stick with Geshe Kelsang's books as they were pure and coming from the heart of Lama Tsongkhapa and not mixed with worldly concerns. I was also introduced to the view that Geshe Kelsang is the manifestation of the Wisdom Buddha Manjuhsri and non other than Je Tsongkhapa himself.
On account of my ego being so desperate to believe that I could once and for all over come suffering I requested ordination. Some 6 weeks after I met the tradition. My ordination request was granted and a western teacher asked me if I would start to teach. I couldn't believe what I was hearing I was asked to teach Dharma after a few weeks of being in the tradition I declined the offer as I found this to be insane.
I was working all the time and I had very little time for meditation and I became exhausted. I couldn't cope. I felt suicidal, alone and frightened. I couldn't talk to any one as I was told that as an ordained person I was not to show how I was feeling as it would destroy the faith of others. Out of a community of 40 only myself and one other person were ordained.
I couldn't understand what was happening; however, I knew I had made a grave mistake.
I didn't realize I was being manipulated at the time. I raised several thousand pounds for both the NKT's international temples project and for the refurbishment of one of the Tantric Gompa's. The more recognition I receive the more I worked to raise funds. I became almost like an addict my ego being desperate to be accepted and to feel wanted.
This air of paranoia was confirmed when I was told by my teacher from Madhyamaka center that "HH The Dalai Lama was evil and that Ven. Lama Zopa and other FPMT Lama's are just waiting like a pack of wolves to take over the tradition as soon as Geshe Kelsang passes away." This was the person I had been led to believe was a living Buddha.
I confronted the management about my findings as I was always told I could ask any questions. I asked them to prove I was not in a cult. I was told I must leave, as I was a threat to the harmony and faith of other practitioners with in the center. I left and handed my robes and vows back.
I found life difficult adjusting back into normal living I was ex communicated from all my friends. I had no refuge and I felt like my life was over. I found it hard to relate to people I used to be friends with and I just felt trapped in a bubble and not being able to interact with others. I decided to go to Manjushri center once more for help as I was feeling alone and frightened and in need of refuge. I turned up and was escorted from the premises and was told I was not welcome. I was escorted out in front of every one like a common criminal and taken to the train station. Looking back it done me good as my ego got a severe blow. However I now felt totally alone and I just wanted to end it all. I stood at a bridge in Durham city with a pocket full of tablets and contemplated jumping into the river."
(happily, this individual recovered and is doing well)
In the words of one NKT survivor,
"NKT faithful may never agree with the truth about the harm they are causing. Their hate and egos have overruled their humanity. They have learned to enjoy their adrenalin surges from bad mouthing others, acting and looking like crack addicts rather than Buddhists. It gives them their arrogance and lust for power. Their spin has become a reflex because it is so comforting to them. We can only pray that they return to compassion and wisdom...Ironically, NKT's fighting their biographers and critics gives them their only serious, though desperate, purpose and enthusiasm, even if it is self destructive and harmful to others. When the reality sets in that more leave NKT than stay, they may return to earth and dedicate themselves to Buddhism rather than their egos."
Another NKT survivor insightfully described her path,
"what astounds me is what I see as the disintegration of the NKT-IKBU into an extraordinary justification of it's own view point...sexual activity was an essential part of the monastic path to enlightenment in the NKT. The reason for my explusion was having talked to another southern RT about my worries and concerns due to the behaviour of Lodro and Thogme - frequent absences from the Centre, extensive use of Centre funds for personal costs and receiving untaxed income. I had expected love, compassion and moral discipline from my NKT teachers, that's all. And on occasion, some wisdom. I did find that years ago. But, as they say, perhaps all I saw was the reflection of my own potential."
Ironically, NKT argues that it is understandable that after members, monks and nuns leave NKT because of their disgust and distrust, many join the NKT survivors group hoping to derive some therapeutic benefits from the discussions held.
Consider the essayist here who was banned by NKT...
"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, a false charge. No examples, no substantiation, no discussion, I was simply banned.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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."
Consider the removal of a widely loved and senior NKT teacher, eliciting many tears from the center's students and teachers, by Kesang Gyatso for not sending anyone from the center's large jurisdiction to a NKT protest rally...
"Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2008
Subject: Letter from Geshe-la FAO Managers & community of KMC Florida and Parbawatiya Center
You know that not one single student of NKT Dharma Centres in Florida joined the demonstration in Hamilton, NY, and this week the Admin Director of KMC Florida has resigned saying:
"Since the beginning of our involvement with the NKT we have been repeatedly told that the NKT was not involved in politics. Now that the NKT has opened up with its political position and begun demonstrating I can no longer be a part of the organization. This complete lack of honesty about the NKT's involvement in Tibetan politics is the reason for my departure."
This clearly shows that the students have seriously misunderstood the demonstrations through receiving wrong information from you – their Resident Teacher.
You directly told me that the NKT was involving in political activities and that this was against the NKT and Dharma Centre constitutions; this is completely untrue.
Previously I wrote two letters to the Resident Teachers and Admin Directors of NKT Dharma Centre's (which are pasted below) in which I clearly explained that the NKT was not organising the demonstrations, the NKT was not involved in political activity and there was no basis for either the NKT or Dharma Centre constitutions to be broken.
I am very sorry that you have not trusted me. Because you do not trust me I cannot work with you therefore my conclusion is that you should resign from being an NKT Resident Teacher. From 1st May 2008 you will no longer be an NKT Resident Teacher. I will prepare a new Resident Teacher for KMC Florida and Parbawatiya Center.
With much love and prayers,
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Cc NKT Central Office, Gen-la Khyenrab, Gen-la Dekyong, Managers & community of KMC Florida and Parbawatiya Center
Letter #1, sent April 13, 2008
Dear Resident Teachers and Administrative Directors of NKT Dharma Centers,
You have received a copy of the letter sent to Sera Lachi, Sera Je and Sera Mey by The Western Shugden Society. From this you can understand that it is very possible that The Western Shugden Society will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama. Concerning this issue, we should know five things:
1. The demonstrations will be organised by The Western Shugden Society, not by the NKT.
2. The Western Shugden Society is the unification of all the Western Shugden practitioners, and NKT is a part of this main body.
3. When the main body, The Western Shugden Society, organises demonstrations, the NKT needs to voluntarily contribute and help.
4. There is no basis to break our constitution or internal rules because this is not organised by the NKT.
5. The Western Shugden Society organising the demonstrations is not for the purpose of the six monks only, it is the method to prevent the destruction of the pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa, and to stop the extremely forceful campaign that the Dalai Lama is doing now to eradicate completely the practice of Dorje Shugden in India and other countries through unlawful actions.
We should recognise that the NKT is not involved politically, simply supporting The Western Shugden Society with these demonstrations. Peaceful demonstrations are respected by democratic governments, it is the position of the people, we should take this opportunity, there is no other method to stop the Dalai Lama´s campaign against Dorje Shugden practitioners.
With love and prayers,
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Letter #2, sent prior to April 27, 2008
My Dear Students,
I need help from you to solve the Dorje Shugden problem created by the Dalai Lama. Right now the Dalai Lama is removing the Tibetan Shugden worshipers from the Buddhist community saying that Shugden worshipers are not Buddhist because they worship an evil spirit - Shugden. At the same time he is preparing to remove western Shugden worshipers from the Buddhist community with the same reasons. His aim is to destroy the pure lineage of Je Tsongkhapa´s doctrine. To stop this evil action, as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted.
Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need.
With much love and prayers
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso"
No one in NKT's heirachy is safe from Kelsang Gyatso's wrath.
While NKT denies its leadership in NKT's battle against the Dalai Lama, Kelsang Gyatso wrote, "I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted." NKT's pictures of itself directing the protests are priceless testaments to NKT 'truth'.
Two Highest NKT Clergy - Khyenrab (holding Ostracism sign) and Dekyong (2nd person to his left)
Dekyong Megaphoning NKT's Bible (note pretense of being Tibetans, displaying Tibet's Flag against TIbet's historical leader, the Dalai Lama; click here to review NKT's notorious bible, The Tibetan Situation Today, distributed around the world by NKT while NKT claims it is not a political organization - not only are the contents largely a distortion, the weird treatise is clearly political; NKT megaphones and distributes the booklet along side the communist Chinese government who also seeks to undermine the Dalai Lama's influence over the Tibetan people)
More NKT Megaphoned Anger
NKT Incites Anger
NKT Readies Its Protest Rally Busses
Although within NKT its mission to assault Buddhism is treated like a secret, because of the Internet anyone can readily learn about NKT's battles with Buddhists. By reviewing NKT's attack web sites and the pictures of its protests which NKT is so proud, NKT's core can be examined.
Though many NKT teachings and most of what Kelsang Gyatso writes in his books are sound, visitors to NKT and especially those young adults about to become a NKT monk or nun are advised, Buyer Beware.
Most eventually leave NKT, sometimes after substantial trauma and fear, sometimes after intervention from loved ones, sometimes after sexual abuse, sometimes after donating all their savings, sometimes expelled from NKT's government-subsidized housing or from attendance at its meditation centers, sometimes ridiculed on its web sites or in its prolific blog posts.
Be careful with your time and money. Please realize that for your precious spirituality NKT is recklessness cloaked with righteousness. Think about how NKT treats others. Your life is more valuable than dedicating it to NKT. NKT is not a tradition but the means of Kelsang Gyatso to spread Shugden extremism and to attack the Dalai Lama and Tibetan autonomy.
For his assault on Buddhism, the monastery that Kelsang Gyatso attended for his Geshe degree, never awarded, sees him as a pariah, writing that...
"However, it is a measure of profound sorrow that a so called “Geshe”
Kelsang Gyatso and his English supporters have embarked upon a ruthless smear campaign
to tarnish the International stature of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in the name of alleged
“religious persecution”. It is nothing short of blasphemy in the eyes of the overwhelming
majority of the six million Tibetans.
These days, [in Kelsang Gyatso] the demonic cloud of overwhelming arrogance displays itself with a mass of deluded pride, like a bat who thinks he is above the sky…. This demon with broken commitments…. burns with the flame of unbearable spite towards the unsurpassed omniscient 14th Dalai Lama, the only staff of life of religious people in Tibet, whose activities and kindness are equal to the sky.
We advise him to accept the fact that he is an ordinary being and stand no chance
whatsoever to challenge the Dalai Lama. He is not even a Geshe. The so called “third
Buddha” is a figment of imagination conjured up by his fawning desciples as
a propaganda tool to attract more people to his centre and that it should not go to his head.
We have therefore stripped him of his membership from our
Sera Jhe Dratsang since the holy scriptures have clearly prescribed to evict such apostates
who will foul the Sanga community’s spiritual purity and serenity and will have a negative
influence for the whole community.
In his apparent
ecstasy, he even disowns being a Tibetan and works against the very people where he was
(referring to Gyatso)...Possessed by a terrible demon, without shame, embarrassment, or
modesty, he doesn't have even the slightest care or concern for any
of the commitments of the three vows [pratimoksha, bodhicitta, and
tantric] which he undertook.
Therefore, all those connected with Sera Je College, lamas and
tulkus, abbots, former executives, senior and junior geshes, together
with the leaders of the individual khangtsen [regional houses], all
together, in agreement, with one voice, hereby proclaim that on this
day, August 22, 1996, Kelsang Gyatso, the one with broken commitments
and wrong view, is cast out with the "ritual nine expulsions," and is
thereby banished from this place, and the being a part of the rule of
This means that we request all of our brothers and sisters, the
Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, to completely sever any
relationship with him. Concerning the practice of worshiping divine
protectors at this Monastery in particular, the protector who was
directed by the previous great masters to advise, command, and look
after our Monastery is the Dharma protector Dregpa Chamsing [Dregs Pa
lCam Sring). Aside from this protector there has traditionally been
no worship of Dolgyal [Dorje Shugden]."
Kelsang Gyatso receives teachings from no one. His last teacher, a Tibetan Rinpoche and the Dalai Lama's junior tutor, died in 1981.
NKT is not affiliated with any form or school of Buddhism. It has created its own self proclaimed 'tradition', which specifically contradicts Tibetan Kadampa and New Kadampa Buddhism. No one in NKT is properly ordained, a Geshe, a Rinpoche or a Lama. Claims that Kelsang Gyatso is a Geshe and the Third Buddha are bogus.
NKT is little more than a business with a front end that looks like Buddhism to beginners. NKT's only charities are its mansions, apartments, restaurants, hotels, spas and book publisher. If it wasn't for the ugly image that NKT presents to the world, tarnishing Buddhism in their selfish search for profits and power and thereby turning many away from Buddhism, and the devastation it has perpetrated against many of its students and clergy, NKT would merely be an inconsequential group of aspiring extremists.
Do not trade yourself for NKT's rosy promises.