One of Kelsang Gyatso's full time supporters, a very close disciple, was removed from her position because using her common sense she bravely questioned the protests as being political and against Kelsang Gyatso’s own former statements and claims. After having her removed as a resident teacher (which is a deep fall from grace) she has now to show her ‘devotion’ by engaging all over the internet to spread NKT/WSS agitation.
Someone recently said: “I think it’s very sad that what started as a good and pure tradition has turned into yet another political cult of personality.”
It is sad indeed, it is very sad, and I am very sorry for ''Geshe'' Kelsang! Never would I wish for myself or others to end like this. For me it appears he has either ruined his spiritual life (and that of most of his followers) or he shows what one should never do. In the latter case he would be a bodhisattva and all his followers his emanations, but I think this is not what the actual situation really is – however, at least for me, it is a great teaching.
I do not agree with “what started as a good and pure tradition”. NKT started not as a pure tradition but as a result of a schism and conflict. The roots of NKT are poisoned.
The schism which forms the basis for the emergence of NKT, started with 'Geshe' Kelsang’s strong criticism of Lama Yeshe’s open approach, and 'Geshe' Kelsang’s great emphasize on his own rigid and exclusive approach, which he labeled as being “pure” while he labeled Lama Yeshe’s approach as “mixing dharma with politics”. As far as I have understood it, there was this ideological conflict at Manjushri Institute, and this ideological conflict was nourished by personal policies, e.g. a strong interest of 'Geshe' Kelsang to run Lama Yeshe’s Institute – although he was rather a guest. 'Geshe' Kelsang was just one of two 'Lamas' Lama Yeshe had invited to help Westerner with the Dharma.
I think when the conflict developed it was appropriate by Lama Yeshe to ask 'Geshe' Kelsang to resign. It would have been very easy to for 'Geshe' Kelsang to move to one of his own centers with his students and to leave the Institute to Lama Yeshe and 'Geshe' Konchog Tsewang. It is said that his students asked him to stay, but honestly if I cherish the person who invited me and know that my benefactor is the spiritual leader of that place, how can I refuse his request to resign and stay? It is clear that this will only result in more problems. And more problems indeed appeared on the Priory after 'Geshe' Kelsang’s refusal to resign.
Moreover I assume that 'Geshe' Kelsang has enforced the situation – otherwise he wouldn’t have been accused by witnesses of that time: “The emergence of the NKT is thus described as the growth of a ‘personality cult’, orchestrated by a ‘totally unscrupulous rogue 'Geshe'’ through the ‘cynical manipulation’ of students and the ‘transference of [their] loyalty and devotion’ via the practice of guru devotion.” (Kay 2004 : 83)
Kay shows that Kelsang Gyatso had the strongest interest in running Manjushri Institute. Why? Entwined in this setting is the Shugden controversy which appears to me rather to have been used to justify the split and to confirm Kelsang Gyatso’s personal beliefs of a rigid and exclusive Dharma approach.
On top of that, his 3-year-retreat without spiritual guidance has created a further shift in his thoughts up to the point that it is (only) he who preserves the tradition of Je Tsongkhapa and his own Gelug-fellows and their masters are rather members of the “quite degenerate” Gelug-world. Additional interwoven in this complex setting is that Kelsang Gyatso gave tantric empowerments and bound the students more close to him and taught & developed his own unique approach on total guru reliance which most westerners (with respect to Dharma very naive people) were not able to question as being extreme and out of the context of a correct Dharma understanding.
I think, the announcement of NKT was rather the peak of a controversial development which was already contaminated and as researchers say, is “rooted in conflict and schism”. I would say the root of NKT was already poisoned, if the root is poisoned, the trunk, branches, leaves and fruits are poisoned as well.
The only way to get rid of that poison is to question the developments and to be open for an honest self-critical approach. There are no signs that this will happen, rather NKT is now the child of Geshe Kelsang and he defends it as a mother defends her child. After his passing away NKT will probably collapse or split into many sub groups.
The foundation is not pure, the outcome won’t be it either. The future will show this, I guess. The past (two successor scandals) and present (confusion in the Shugden conflict and NKT/WSS’s destructive actions) have already indicated many signs of the underlying (very) sick base. It is just obvious that NKT is not able anymore to understand the world even on a simple reality base but spins it in a way that it fits into the own world view. There are reasons why NKT propaganda sounds like that of the Chinese communist dictators.
OK, we will see. However, in general, to focus too much on criticism is not good either.
What always will be a good idea - if something is seriously sick, then wish the person to be healed. So I wish to express my wishes for the inner healing of 'Geshe' Kelsang, NKT and all its members, and I wish them to encounter good doctors, mainly to be open to genuine Buddhist teachers and experienced Sangha who can help them in that process of self-purification.