Fortunately, most who visit an NKT center return only a few times if at all. Hundreds of long-time students, including at least dozens of NKT's so-called monks and nuns, leave NKT in fear or disgust or after various kinds of abuse. Disillusionment is common in NKT. Many have been banned from entering an NKT center because they questioned NKT's misconduct.
Many NKT members remain embroiled inside NKT, conflicted between what NKT demands and what their inner selves recognize. NKT's focus on Tantra as a fast track to becoming a Buddha has great appeal to NKT's western targets, though it has resulted in notably sexual abuses by about half of Kelsang Gyatso's named heirs and several other NKT clergy before they left in disgrace and produced many casualties.
An example of one NKT member who feels trapped...seeming to plea for help by placing his story on the Internet for everyone to see...
Posted October 7, 2010
An orphan among mother sentient beings
Since the age of 31 I've been, to all intents and purposes, an orphan.
My mother died when I was 17. My father died in 1999, in unnatural circumstances.
Since then, I've been adrift in my own peculiar universe. In a sense, I am free, in both the best and worst ways. For over 11 years I've had nobody to tell me what to do, how to behave, what to think, what to say, what not to say, what I need to achieve, or how I need to be.
I am still single. Perpetually so. In fact, being single is the only thing I know how to be. And as I am far away from home, I also no longer have the baggage of any past relationships of any significance. No friends of twenty years to reinforce old habits, or renew forgotten grievances. No pressure, no guilt, no human attachments, no loyalties, no obligations, no immediate family in my vicinity. And no one to remind me who I used to be.
There's really only the dharma centre I've been going to for the last 5 years.
To some extent, that may be why I am still there. It is some connection to something. It is something to which I do belong. I am a citizen of sorts, even if only somewhat second class.
And of course, there's dharma – the beauty of the profound path, which used to enthral me. Which used to be my answer. And which is still the closest thing that I have to any kind of answer.
But where others have been able to accept the whole dharma package the NKT provides, I have not. Some parts of it have resonated strongly. And still do.
Others have not. And still don't. I won't go into details.
But I was at class last night and had a moment of clarity. I suddenly remembered what it was that I had issues with. And it largely boils down to one thing – my reluctance to immerse myself, my distaste for conforming.
There's too much peer pressure. There's too much group think. And there's the idiotic belief that fitting in with the centre is an indication of spiritual success. Well, experience has showed me that nothing could be further from the truth.
In my four or five years there, people have come and gone as regularly as clockwork. Some of them are completely immersed in centre activities. Some of them are acclaimed practitioners. For a time, anyway. Some stay for years, and then disappear back into "Samsara", none the wiser or better for their experience.
For most of these people, their brush with the NTK and `kadam dharma' seems to have little lasting impact.
This is sad, of course.
Or perhaps it isn't.
I'm not sure.
I find it hard to understand or relate to these people because I have found something in the tantric teachings. I have found something in the emptiness teachings. I have found something in Lam Rim. I have found some sort of practice. I have found some sort of path.
And unlike most people who pass through, I'm no under illusions that I am leaping up that path in leaps and bounds.
Nonetheless, in spite of these realisations, I am not really a member of the family. I am not really a part of the group. I am, in a sea of mother sentient beings, still very much an orphan.
Who am I? This blog is an extension of the second incarnation of my online alter ego, Wisdimjunky. Who that is in the so-called real world does not matter. Wisdimjunky doesn't exist, ultimately, or even conventionally. However, to satisfy convention, let's just say that he's a writer, a Buddhist, and someone with authority issues. He is also a Vajrayogini practitioner, and a long-term, committed, but conflicted, member of the New Kadampa Tradition.
Posted September 11, 2010
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him
Who am I?
Changes in the life of the kadampa centre I attend, as always, move unreasonably fast. I go to the same place I've been going to for four years, and yet I'm like a stranger. All the faces are new. All the expressions are eager, naive, burning with unbridled enthusiasm. And though most of the new people probably know who I am (at least for some reason, they know my name), nonetheless there has been a significant displacement in belonging.
I attend the centre, but I no longer belong. They belong, all the new ones – at least for now. Belonging is encouraged at the centre. The centre likes people to belong. I must confess the fact that I don't belong is more to do with me than with them. I have rejected the notion of belonging. It's not just me who no longer belongs to the group. The group no longer belongs to me either.
Fact is, when conflict ensued between me and the centre over a variety of things a year or so ago, I did things that kind of drew a big fat line in the sand. And that line is still very much there. It is largely an internal line on an internal stretch of sand. I'm fairly sure no-one else can see where that line begins and where it ends. All that is abundantly clear, both to me and others, is that things have changed, and once I was very much a part of the centre, and now I am conspicuously not.
It's not entirely a situation I'm happy with, but I've been learning to accept it. Many times I think I should simply leave and go to the FPMT, with whom I have an old and neglected association.
But tantra keeps me in check. My tantric practice, which I have every intention of once resuming purely, is extremely important to me. And no other centre or tradition can offer me the same practice. Not now. I am now certainly a part of this tradition.
Fact is, my biggest conflicts with my centre owe a lot to tantra. Actually, they owe almost everything to tantra. I have always felt it to be wholly neglected in favour of other things. This has not been a small issue, it has been a major issue.
Recently, that has changed. Recently, tantra has come back into the centre spotlight. And I think I had a lot to do with that.
Right now, I'm not quite sure what to do next, but by reconfirming their commitment to supporting tantric practitioners, the centre has made overtures to me. Of that, I am sure. I have been tantra's advocate. And finally tantra has got its day in court.
I know that my practice stands no chance without some kind of support from some kind of sangha. The last year has showed me that.
The ball is kind of in my court. But unfortunately the game has changed. I don't know whether to kick the ball, hit it with a racket, or pick it up and run with it.
So much has changed. Not just at the centre. But within me too. I am not the practitioner I was.
Posted September 9, 2010
I sit here contemplating what has gone wrong with my Buddhist practice since last posted a blog entry on my old blog Old Path Black Clouds.
You may remember that blog. You may remember the creature known as Wisdomjunkie.
That creature ceased to be. The creature I am now bears little relation to the person writing those insightful (or insightless, depending on your perspective) articles on New Kadampa life.
So much has changed. I have not stopped attending my centre. But I walk the halls like a ghost, disappearing out the door at the end of any class or occasion. I may as well not be attending. I am filled with aversion for spiritual life. I find solace in the world now, not in a practice. Renunciation? I believe I've renounced that.
In terms of my relationship with my "spiritual community", it's not good. Though it's been worse recently. I'm not much a part of that social scene anymore – my fault as much as anyone's, I know. The treachings don't resonate the way they once did for me. But I do attend. I'm still on the Foundation Programme, believe it or not. Because, although I am lost, life is not without hope. Although my practice is dead, there is always the possibility of life after death.
I do practice tantra. Imperfectly. It is the one element of my practice that survives. And though I hardly even pretend these days to be keeping my commitments, I have done enough to be able to renew them. And so there is hope. Hope that one day I will re-awake. Hope that my old sense of purpose will return. Hope that I can overcome the internal obstacles in me. Hope that direction will find me.
Fear that I have gone too far down wrong paths.
Awareness that I am weak. That my attachments have grown strong. That my world is crumbling. And that the last vestiges of my guru devotion dwindle, like a flame without air.
Forgive this rambling. Allow me this cryptic, melodramatic moment with my own little crisis. It's my first post after a long hiatus. With luck, clarity will return. With luck, things will get better.
Is that not the meaning of hope?
Maybe like many others, with the help of family and friends this NKT member will find the courage to leave NKT and stop blaming himself.