I spent this morning comparing two aspects of Kelsang Gyatso - his books and his politics.
His books are recommended. Though unsatisfactory for monastic training or deeper exploration of Buddhism (though used exclusively for these purposes by Kelsang Gyatso), they are simplified but readily accessible introductions to Buddhism with particular affinity with Tibetan Buddhism. The highly revered Tibetan Lama Tsongkhapa, 1357–1419, is referenced often, albeit his prolific writings are banned inside NKT.
Even after twenty years of scorn from Kelsang Gyatso and tens of thousands of caustic Internet posts from his clergy and followers against the Dalai Lama, last month (September 2015), the Dalai Lama applauded Kelsang Gyatso's commentary of Shantideva's Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life. In 1984, the Dalai Lama wrote the Foreward to Kelsang Gyatso's book, Buddhism in the Tibetan Tradition. (However, in its 2008 printing the Dalai Lama's Foreword and his name on the book cover were removed. Furthermore, since 1996, Kelsang Gyatso has claimed that Tibetan Buddhism is corrupt.)
Shantideva lived during the 8th century in India, where Buddhism began 2,500 years ago.
Kelsang Gyatso wrote,
"This holy scripture is a very practical guide that teaches us how to enter, make progress on, and complete the Buddhist path to enlightenment. It is a condensation of all Buddha's teachings and it shows clearly how these teachings can be integrated into our daily life...In reality, all the problems we experience day to day come from our self-cherishing and self-grasping - misconceptions that exaggerate our own importance. However, because we do not understand this, we normally blame others for our problems, and this just makes them worse. From these two basic misconceptions arise all our other delusions, such as anger and attachment, causing us to experience endless problems...(practicing these instructions) we shall attain the supreme inner peace of enlightenment, which is the real meaning of our human life."
While Kelsang Gyatso wrote this in 2002, in 1996 he began his continuing political battle against Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama. This battle is the polar opposite of Kelsang Gyatso's comments and the profound nature of Shantideva's work.
Kelsang Gyatso's politics are easy to find on the Internet. Simply Google 'Kelsang Gyatso controversy', 'NKT controversy' and 'NKT cult'. Google will return hundreds of thousands of story links, including hundreds of video links to Kelsang Gyatso's protest rallies. You can even buy from amazon.com Kelsang Gyatso's eggregious political anti-Buddhist manifestos: The Tibetan Situation Today, A Great Deception and The False Dalai Lama.
Kelsang Gyatso's polemics severely detracts from the constructive nature of his books. They thrive on and cultivate self-cherishing and self-grasping. Ego is difficult to overcome, especially when it is so aggressively nurtured by Kelsang Gyatso.
This is most unfortunate.
Please consider embracing Shantideva's profound teaching, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Live, available at amazon.com.
Kelsang Gyatso wrote about two dozen books. Only one of them discusses Shugden, Heart Jewel: The Essential Practices of Kadampa Buddhism. It was published along side the creation of NKT, the so-called New Kadampa Tradition. The book describes Shugden as having a gentle nature. However, this has never really been the case. Today, at the hands of Kelsang Gyatso, Shugden is only associated with controversy and negativity, generating substantial media coverage at the hands of NKT's media savvy public relations machine.
Kadampa Buddhism came from Atisha (982-1054) and Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), revered Tibetan Lamas of Buddhism.
Neither discussed Shugden nor revered Shugden, even though these Buddha's lived after Shugden arrived hundreds of years earlier according to Kelsang Gyatso. Shugdenism would not occur until hundreds of years after their death.
Shugdenism effectively was introduced by Pabangkhpa (1878–1941) as a political tool to feed an extremist sectarianism and denounce disbelievers. He terminated this effort at the request of the 13th Dalai Lama.
Pabangkhapa passed Shugdenism to Trijang Rinpoche (1901–1981), who extended his teacher's political extremism, though not against the 14th (current) Dalai Lama. In fact, Trijang Rinpoche was close to the Dalai Lama, one of his childhood teachers. Trijang Rinpoche never attacked the Dalai Lama.
His student Kelsang Gyatso exported Tibet's Shugden sectarianism, further radicalized it and dramatically enhanced its reach around the world. Kelsang Gyatso devised a western Shugden public policy 1996-present of dozens of protest rallies and hundreds of thousands of Internet posts attacking the Dalai Lama as a Nazi, Marxist, dictator, murderer, hypocrite, human rights abuser, traitor, evil, Muslim, cruel, pig, liar, false Dalai Lama, spiritual con man, one of biggest scams of the century, corrupt politician and CIA agent.
It was Kelsang Gyatso that invented modern Shugdenism, a vile platform of attack.
Kadampa Buddhism was a gentle and valuable school of Buddhism before Kelsang Gyatso decided to degrade and replace it. The beautiful legacies of Atisha and Tsongkhapa are being debased by Kelsang Gyatso and his new 'religion' company, NKT.
This is most unfortunate.
Nevertheless, please consider exploring Atisha's Kadampa Buddhism and Tsongkhapa's New Kadampa Buddhism.
Because of Kelsang Gyatso's politics, please consider limiting your involvement with his so-called New Kadampa Tradition.