NKT's founder and sole authority, Gyatso, severed his ties with his Tibetan roots and traditional Buddhist organization structures about 30 years ago to promote a unique new religion designed to appeal to Western audiences because they were susceptible to modern marketing techniques promising a quick path to enlightenment. All tenets of this new 'faith' were Gyatso's 'pure' Dharma - creative interpretations of Tibetan Kadampa Buddhism by Gyatso and only Gyatso, who purportedly, is only the third Buddha ever on earth and the only living Buddha since Buddha Shakyamuni 2,500 years ago.
For Gyatso, Western audiences, importantly, are more affluent than Tibetan Buddhists, and thus capable of funding Gyatso's dream of becoming a world leader like the Dalai Lama and trumping the accomplishments of Buddhists such as the Dalai Lama. Notably, Gyatso's public policy has been directed against the Dalai Lama, who, in contrast to Gyatso's global empire vision and protest organizing, succeeds by promoting peace and compassion (in 1989, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, usually ridiculed by Gyatso's followers).
Along his way, Gyatso granted himself a Geshe degree - similar to granting oneself a doctorate - to suggest Buddhist credentials without any actual diploma to his Western audience even after he was dismissed by Sera Je Monastery as "Possessed by a terrible demon...(we) 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
our College...we request all of our brothers and sisters, the
Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, to completely sever any
relationship with him." (presenting another reason why Gyatso does not market his controversial religion to Tibetans)
Gyatso claims that he rules over 1,100 NKT centers around the world, which include hotels, restaurants and government-subsidized housing. This commercial success, however, has yielded little respect from the Buddhist community.
A Few 'Humble' NKT Properties
(next enterprise? a travel agency and reserve a web site name, e.g. worldlyNKTtravel.com)
Gyatso's new 'faith' derivatized the 'New Kadampa' teachings of the Tibetan Buddhist Lama Tsonghkapa (1357-1419, also known as Losang Drapka), who revitalized with renewed monastic vigor the waning 'Kadampa' Buddhism of Atisha (980-1052).
Gyatso claims that his 'New Kadampa Tradition' formed in 1991 is NOT a form of Tibetan Buddhism regardless of the many borrowings from Tsonghkapa, Gelugpa and Tibetan Buddhism throughout Gyatso's books.
Curiously, while Tsongkhapa was one of the most prolific authors in the history of Buddhism, Gyatso removed his seminal works (and those of all other Buddhist authors, including the Dalai Lama) from the substantial library at Manjushri Center in England when Gyatso took control in the 1980s, replacing authentic Buddhist literature with Gyatso's line of books. For NKT teachers, Gyatso's books are the preferred way to learn about Tsongkhapa and Buddhism. According to Gyatso, reading books other than his will confuse Buddhist practioners, including Tsongkhapa's books, even though, according to Gyatso, "Je Tsongkhapa teachings have no equal in Tibet...Je Tsongkhapa himself is unequalled among all Tibetan scholars," Gyatso claims that his books are commentaries on Tsonhgkhapa's teachings. Wouldn't the direct words of Tsongkhapa have at least some merit for NKTites?
Unlike virtually all forms of religion in the world, Gyatso focuses his isolated publicity-craving brand of faith on a relatively new and controversial purported Dharma Protector named Shugden, who was known more for being invoked to harm infidels and who was not discussed by Tsongkhapa but, according to Gyatso, was Tsongkhapa's reincarnation (even though, according to Tibetan Buddhism, Tsongkhapa became a Buddha upon death). Gyatso professes a Shugden lineage of Buddha reincarnations that include Manjushri, the Wisdom Buddha, as well as a spiritual Shugden lineage that includes himself and his root guru Trijang.
Shugden, Gyatso's wrathful protector
"In Tibet, every monastery had its own Dharma Protector...From the time of Je Tsongkhapa until the first Panchen Lama, Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen, the principle Dharma Protector of Je Tsongkhapa's lineage was Kalarupa...Later, it was felt by many high Lamas that Dorje Shugden had become the principle Dharma Protector from this tradition...Previously the beings of this world had the karma to see Buddha Shakyamuni's Emanation Body and to receive teachings directly from him. These days, however, we do not have such karma, and so Buddha appears to us in the form of our Spiritual Guide and helps us by giving teachings and leading us on spiritual paths...the beings of the present time have a stronger karmic link with Dorje Shugden than with other Dharma Protectors...In recent years the person most responsible for popagating the practice of Dorje Shugden was the late Trijang Dorjechang..."
Trijang (1900-1981) was Gyatso's 'root guru' and was a junior totor of the Dalai Lama, who realized during the 1970s like his predecessors that Shugden is a harmful spirit not to be worshiped. Notably, Gyatso's uncle was Shugden's direct contact with this world (ie, oracle) but Buddhas do not rely on oracles, spirits and worldly deities do. Gyatso vehemently denies that Shugden is a spirit, claiming that "worldly deities are not real Dharma Protectors...they do not have the wisdom or the power to protect the development of Dharma within a practitioner's mind...Some people believe that Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri who shows the aspect of a worldly being, but this is incorrect." Gyatso's uncle disagreed with Gyatso and supported the Dalai Lama.
The 2 essential practices in Gyatso's derivatized religion "to experience the supreme joy of full enlightenment" are:
1. The practitioner visualizes Gyatso as Tsongkhapa to purify negativity, accumulate merit, and receive blessings to natually accomplish all the stages of Sutra and Tantra.
2. The practitioner relies upon Shugden. According to Gyatso, the best way to do this is to practice his Wishfulfilling Jewel sadhana after receiving a Highest Yoga Tantra empowerment from him ("Highest Yoga Tantra - a Tantric instruction that includes the method for transforming sexual bliss into the spiritual path.") This practice is designed to appeal to Gyatso's targeted Western audience, for whom Gyatso grants mass Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments every other year to hundreds of NKT faithful at a time regardless of their experience level and in the presence of children.
Before his retirement this summer, Gyatso will preside over his last festival, which will grant Shugden and Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments and guided retreats during the 15-day event to hundreds of visitors. "Everyone is welcome."
To be 'faithful' in NKT, NKTites must first visualize Gyatso as Buddha Tsongkhapa and then, with Gyatso's being merging with theirs, practice Tantra in the context of Shugen worship.
Apparently, in so doing, Gyatso's previous heirs and some resident teachers perpetrated sexual misconduct against students and residents, causing some to have suicidal feelings and convincing many to leave NKT. Many of these victims have shared their horror stories with NKT while remaining NKTites typically further berate these individuals - a matter acknowledged at least in part by Gyatso (writing to one of his previous discredited heirs),
actions so many ordained Teachers have disrobed following your view
which is opposite to Buddhist view – you tried to spread a sexual
lineage...You had sex with so many students and
through your deceptive actions one nun tried to commit suicide because
of your sexual behaviour towards her."
Unfortunately, Gyatso's purported Buddha status could not prevent this abuse.
from Gyatso's Wisfulfilling Jewel sadhana
Please establish favourable conditions and subdue immediately all traiters, enemies, and obstructors...
Especially to you, supreme, supramundane Protector of the doctrine,
Very powerful, swift, and wrathful Dorje Shugden,
I offer this drink of nectar that bestows bliss;
Please partake, and swiftly and spontaneously fulfil all my wishes.
Trijang's 'root guru was Pabongkha (1878-1943). About Shugden, Trijang Rinpoche wrote in his notes of Pabongkha's teachings:
"This protector of the doctrine is extremely important for holding Tshongkhapa's tradition without mixing and corrupting it with confusions due to the great violence and speed of his actions, which fall like lightening to punish violently all those beings who have wronged the Yellow Hat tradition, whether they are high or low. This protector is also particularly significant with respect to the fact that many from our own side, monks or lay people, high or low, are not content with Tsongkhapa's tradition, which is like pure gold, and have mixed and corrupted this tradition with the mistaken views and practices from other schools which are tenet systems that are reputed to be incredibly profound and amazingly fast but are in reality mistakes among mistakes, faulty, dangerous and misleading paths. In regard to this situation, this protector of the doctrine, this witness, manifests his own form of a variety of unbearable manifestations of terrifying and frightening wrathful and fierce appearances. Due to that, a variety of events, some of them having happened or happening, some of which have been heard or seen, seem to have taken place: some people become unhinged and mad, some have a heart attack and suddenly die, some see through a variety of inauspicious signs their wealth, accumulated possessions and descendants disappear without leaving a trace, like a pond whose feeding river has ceased, whereas some find it difficult to achieve anything in successive lifetimes."
According to Shugdenites at dorjeshugden.com,
"The much talked about “yellow book” contains stories of what happened to people who “displeased” Dorje Shugden, which means to say, they were practitioners of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition and of Dorje Shugden as Dharma protector who did not heed his repeated advice and warnings not to mix and pollute the teachings. Sickness, insanity and death ensued. The book was compiled by Tzeme Rinpoche, an eminent lineage holder, and we can therefore assume that these accounts are more than mere pedagogy, but actually happened the way they are told."
Further discussing the Yellow book, Lidsay McCune wrote (Tales of Intrigue from Tibet's Holy City: The Historical Underpinnings of a Modern Buddhist Crisis),
"In 1973, three years before the Dalai Lama made his public condemnation of Shukden, a senior Gelukpa monk named Dzemé Trulku Lozang Penden (1927-1996) published an account of Dorjé Shukden called “Oral Transmission of the Intelligent Father” (Pha rgod bla ma’i zhal lung). In recent times, this text has simply become known as the “Yellow Book.” In it, Dzemé Trülku details various acts of retribution perpetrated by the deity against those monks and laymen who have offended him. One example of this is the case of Fifth Paṇchen Lama, who Dzemé Rinpoché claims incurred Shukden’s wrath by adopting Nyingma practices. The author attributes these anecdotes to the oral teachings of his and the Dalai Lama’s tutor Trijang Rinpoché (1901-1981), the “intelligent father” of the text’s title. Many of the monks and laymen mentioned as victims of Shukden’s wrath were Gelukpa practitioners who “tainted” their practice by adding to it various rituals of the Nyingma variety. Three years later, having abandoned his own propitiatory practices, the Dalai Lama announced his disapproval of the deity. Naturally, there are many Shukden proponents who claim that he made his disavowal out of fear of incurring the deity’s wrath. And there has indeed been some concern among his followers for the well-being of the Dalai Lama following his denunciation and subsequent ban of Shukden worship."
Gyatso's public policy use of Shugden is consistent with these analyses. First in the mid 1990s and recharged in 2008, Gyatso is deploying Shugden against the Dalai Lama. Everywhere the Dalai Lama appears, NKT is there protesting with angry faces and raised fists along side the communist Chinese government against the Dalai Lama hoping to harm the beneficial impact of the Dalai Lama the last 70 years. Though Gyatso has no constructive interest in Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetans or the Tibetan Government in Exile, Gyatso has drawn his line in the sand and has become the world's leading proponent of Shugden worship. Gyatso is also attacking anyone who criticizes his campaign against the Dalai Lama on behalf of Gyatso's primary deity, Shugden, including other Tibetan Lamas, Buddhists, residents expelled by Gyatso and members of NKT who generated the courage to leave the NKT cult, which has exchanged Buddhist compassion with malevolence rather than the Buddhist holy purpose to exchange self with others.
NKT sees Communist Government in China its ally in Shugden promotion and against the Dalai Lama and Tibet
The following Internet posts from NKTites are common...
“And wouldn’t China promote it bigger and better than anyone. After all they have economic power base that is growing by the month. We have to look beyond this generation alone. We have to look at China and her relationship with Dorje Shugden long after the Dalai Lama has passed on…China is making Dorje Shugden bigger and bigger."
"Then from China, Dorje Shugden’s practice will spread to the multitudes of Chinese speaking areas of Asia, then the world. Everyone respects China either for monetary, business or cultural reasons. It is after all one of the greatest cultures known to man past and present. It will be the number one culture in the world as it has been in ancient times in the near future due to economic growth. Everything Chinese will be respected and proliferated in the world. In the near future, the tide will turn towards the east and that is China. Everything Chinese will be sought after, praised and valued. Even today, many governments do not wish to offend the Chinese government in hopes of securing lucrative deals. After all, isn’t bringing prosperity one of the main functions of any government whether Democratic or Socialist?…making Dorje Shugden the most popularly known Buddhist deity next to Kuan Yin in China at this time."
NKTites wish Shugden to be the most popularly known Buddhist Deity!
However, extreme physical harm can come from pro-Shugdenite forces. For example, here and here.
According to the 100th Ganden Tripa (the spiritual leader of the Gelugpa in Tibet, the school of Tibetan Buddhism that Gyatso was trained in and claims to adhere to in its purest form), "If it (Shugden) were a real protector, it should protect the people. There may not be any protector such as this, which needs to be protected by the people. Is it proper to disturb the peace and harmony by causing conflicts, unleashing terror and shooting demonous words in order to please the Dharma protector? Does this fulfill the wishes of our great masters.")
An interview with Gyatso in 1997 is instructive,
"Lopez: Last summer , you organized demonstrations in London against the Dalai Lama. The British press was very supportive of the Dalai Lama and the New Kadampa was painted in quite negative terms. Do you regret the formation of the Shugden Supporters Community in retrospect? Could you perhaps have done it differently?
GKG:We had hoped that His Holiness the Dalai Lama would change and give freedom to Tibetan people. That was our aim. Our demonstration was telling him: You made a mistake so you should change. After the demonstration we requested him to please sign a declaration to give complete freedom to Dorje Shugden worship, and he refused. Then when he returned to India he was stronger than before.
Lopez: Do you think that in retrospect the demonstrations were not a good idea?
GKG:Demonstrating was telling him that he made a mistake. Demonstrating should have been a teacher for him. Demonstrating was loving him, not disrespecting him, not harming him. But he never changed.
Lopez: In the West, demonstrating is not perceived as an act of love.
GKG:But from our point of view we were hoping to make him realize that he made a mistake so that he could correct it.
Lopez: For the New Kadampa Tradition it was something of a public relations disaster with all the negative press that was created. I was wondering whether you would have done things differently.
GKG:The New Kadampa Tradition suffered, our reputation was destroyed, and we lost many things. Yes, of course we are suffering, because people believe what the Dalai Lama says. Also many other groups and centers who practice worship of Dorje Shugden including those in Europe and America are also experiencing suffering. Many people are saying Dorje Shugden practitioners are bad, they are a cult or sectarian - they are using bad names because of what His Holiness the Dalai Lama says. In reality, we haven’t done anything wrong."
(yea, right. what about the anti-Buddhist impressions made on viewers of NKT's protests and Internet assaults? and, what about all the NKT denials that NKT is not involved with the protests against the Dalai Lama?)
NKT is doing anything it can to blur the legacy of Buddhism and to undue the beneficial impact of sincere Buddhist practitioners and teachers on us. Sometimes with its pretty-face pretense, sometimes with its raw ugly face, NKT is using its renegade breakaway movement to deface Buddhism (which is coincidentally consistent with Shugden's utility to destroy non-fundamentalists and legitimate schools of Buddhism).
Gyatso's 'pure Dharma' and (at first) sweet sexy cult is doing more to harm Buddhism than anything else.