This will not be a re-hashing of the pros and cons of this controversy. In this respect, I take a position of neutrality. Recent conversations with Lamas and other Dharma practitioners has convinced me that it is time for me to make a public statement. As a long-time Dharma practitioner in the Gelug Lineage, this is not a topic with which I am unfamiliar.
My Root-Lama – Chodag Tulku Rinpoche, with whom I studied until his passing at the end of 2001. I was ordained by Dagom Rinpoche at Dagom Ganden Tensung Ling Monastery in Bloomington, Indiana.
Chodag Tulku and I had many long and detailed conversations about this matter. He gave me very specific instructions regarding how I was to handle discourse on this topic and the things I have to say about it are either his direct words or are informed by his what he taught me. His teaching was that while this all started as an internecine religious squabble some centuries ago, it has degenerated into a squabble about Tibetan politics and not religion. Tibetan politics, both before and since the introduction Buddhism, has a long, violent, bloody history filled with deep political intrigue, and long-standing sectarian hatred, including the assassinations of many religious figures, even Dalai Lamas, and open warfare between monks in rival monasteries. My Lama said that as a practitioner and a monastic, I am to avoid the mixing of politics and Dharma. It is always disastrous, always poisons both.
This first thing I want to address is the first question usually asked, aside from, perhaps, "What is all this Shugden mess?", and that is : "Are you a Shugden practitioner?" As with ALL tantric practices, I will neither deny nor confirm any connection to this practice. As with all of ones practices, especially Tantra, it is an inappropriate topic for public discourse for any practitioner, period. A true Tantric practitioner will not engage in any publicly discourse with respect to whether or not they have an empowerment for a specific practice. To do so violates ones tantric vows. This is the teaching of my Root-Lama.
Some of you will make an immediate assumption one way or the other about what my answer "means". If you actually care one way or the other about whether or not I, or anyone else, is a Shugdenpa then you already have a proclivity for wasting your time and meddling in affairs that do not concern you. My personal observation would simply be that you do not spend enough time on your meditation seat or reading the Bodhisattva and Tantric vows.
The second thing I wish to address is this. I do not have relationships with Lamas and other practitioners, or friendships and acquaintances with anyone, based on their position on this matter. I don't know how most people feel about this controversy and, truthfully, don't care what anyone thinks.
I know many people who are Shugden practitioners, even more who are not and, for the most part, have no clue about the vast majority of the practitioners I know. If it matters to you, then I'm probably not someone you want to know. I base my decisions regarding friendship on how one treats other people and whether or not they are disruptive to my mind-stream. My Lama's teaching on this was, also, quite clear. 1. You can have all the compassion and loving-kindness toward another sentient being and, quite reasonably (within the dictates of yogic principles) not want that being to be anywhere near you. 2. You should always avoid those who are disruptive to your mind-stream regardless of who they may be.
Any of you who have gone to hear Tibetan Lamas since the introduction of the Dharma in the West has taken teachings from, studied with, or has been empowered by, one or more Shugden Lamas whether you know it or not. Many of you still take teachings from a Lama who is a Shugdenpa. The fact that you don't know is an example of the both the critical importance of secrecy in Tantra and the facetious pretense of superiority that is at the heart of this centuries-old, occasionally rehashed squabble about political influence and sectarian persecution.
I have a zero-tolerance policy toward, and absolutely no respect for, anyone who engages in such nonsense, who perpetuates this blatant disrespect for the teachings of the Buddha, or for anyone who harasses or intimidates another person for their spiritual beliefs and practices. My Lama was very clear on this aspect of the teaching of Shakyamuni: The beliefs of others are not your concern.
NKT sells the idea that Tibetan Gelupa (NKT claims it is the only pure Gelug lineage) are fire-breathing protesters along side Kelsang Gyatso's campain against Tibetan Lamas and NKT survivors.
As usual, NKT is wrong and anti-thetical to Tibetan Buddhism or any other form of legitimate Buddhism or spirituality. Rather, NKT is a business selling Buddhist quotes and art renderings.
Unfortunate, although profitable, for NKT. Even more unfortunate, often at great personal and spiritual expense, for those who NKT draws into its cult with empty promises of prosperity and nirvana.
Kelsang Gyatso's previous heir with the umbrella, his current heir on the right with the belt.
a terrible portrayal of Buddhism...widely respected Tibetan spiritual, monsastic and government leaders opposed by the wealthy British NKT cult
Excerpted from a 2009 book by Stephen Schettini....
"Scientists aren't the only ones with an agenda. In England, the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) has emerged as a player in the Dolgyal affair, a vocal opposition to the Dalai Lama and a cult to be reckoned with. Its founder, the Sera Jey monk Kelsang Gyatso, was installed as a spiritual advisor for Lama Yeshe's Manjushri Institute back in the early eighties, and promptly commandeered it. That Tibetan imagery and lore can be turned to such forms isn't at all surprising, but its growth is astonishingly so. The NKT is firmly established in more than two dozen countries, with assets running into the hundreds of millions. Back in 1982, I translated a seven-day course for Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in the Lama Tzongkhapa Institute in Italy. I found him a pedantic teacher and an irascible man, one of very few Tibetan teachers to whom I took a visceral dislike.
I've corresponded with several NKT members who initially took up arms against my provocative little web page on the topic. In the end, they admitted that they were in search of a sympathetic ear, and ultimately a way out. This is a guilt-driven rather than a military-style cult, making its web both insidious and sticky. Rather than challenging its members, it's best to ask about their allegiance and let them formulate their rationalizations out loud. Given time, the skilful design of the Buddha's teachings seems able to penetrate even such convoluted trips."