Correcting misinformation spread by the anti-Dalai Lama Protesters

Testimonies from Ex-Members of the NKT

As a key to understanding who the protesters are, and their underlying motivations, the following is a collection of testimonies from ex-members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NTK) as gathered by the New Kadampa Survivors Group.

But Which Reality Is Real? Opening a discussion about abuse in Buddhism.
by Andrea Ballance

I was always struck by a story Tich Nhat Hann put in one of his books about Buddha and the sick monk… in essence, a monk was extremely sick with diarrhoea and when Buddha found him he had been left with little or no help weak and covered in his own excrement. Buddha cleaned him up and looked after him and told the sangha that treating people this way was not acceptable.

This one story has been the underpinning of my approach to dharma and experience in the NKT, there are countless retreats to go on, prayers to be made, mantras to count but we must deal with both aspects of the path, the physical as we currently see it and the spiritual as we aspire to become. If someone is dying in front of us it is not just their karma it’s ours too. If someone is starving in front of us it is our karma too. If a guru is destroying someone in front of us it is our karma too.

I was at a festival one year, brand new, not a Buddhist and not actually sure what I was getting myself into. I was with friends and I was actually having the time of my life. We had just had a teaching and a guy came and sat next to us and told us he was really struggling and couldn't do his scheduled in rota place in the washing up tent. I was new and busy and had made plans so didn’t feel like I could do his job for him. I remember looking up at the big golden Buddha and I thought, ‘if you are so powerful why don’t you help this guy out then?’ A voice in my head then said, ‘I have helped him out I sent him to you’

All of the esoteric stuff aside (who knows what that was actually about, the NKT has many energy abusive types in IMO), although I found this unexpected and frightening I also found this interesting. It changed my perspective on practising dharma and this experience grounded my motivation and gave me a lot to think about in the terms of how I was going to practice dharma.

The NKT and Sogyal Rinpoche have been publicly disgraced by thier OWN actions and this disgrace had been backed by senior Buddhist leaders including the Dalai Lama. Even though their actions are widely accepted as wrong the victims are always blamed for the actions of the guru. In the case of Sogyal I read somewhere that all of the karma ripening here and his students disclosing his bad behaviour have been a major cause in his illness. I am the only one outraged by this? I am horrified that not only is this guy ‘going into retreat’ and not prison and now his victims are being blamed for genetic and environmental cancer.

I have been watching the responses to Sogyal Rinpoche’s revealed actions and the numerous other questionable things that are coming to light from other sources and teachers and I can see some profound amount of victim blaming. It all sounds like this:
It was their good fortune to be blessed by the guru...
A TRUE practitioner wouldn’t be upset and wouldn’t challenge...
If people had enough faith...
Please pray hard to help the guru...
His students were obviously not ready for the teaching he gave them...

I love the Dharma. For me, it is deeply and powerfully moving. The way it plays with reality shifting points of view and solidity of the reality as I see it is amazing and has been a powerful influence in my life. The Tantric concept of turning everything into the path as the guru-deity blows my mind. I can see clearly the benefit from this teaching.

Everything is the guru. But that means everything. EVERYTHING.

Not just the good but the bad too. We all agree. The guru’s wrathful actions can clear away our delusions and lead us to clearer understandings of the mind, of reality and of compassion.
So I put it to you. Maybe this guru was teaching us abuse is not ok? Maybe he was teaching us that enlightened people do not victim blame? Maybe he was saying love is not allowing someone to get lost in power games? Maybe he was showing us our own spiritual laziness, the laziness of being a bystander? Maybe this guru's big teaching was about power abuse and that power based sex, violence and child abuse in the name of Buddha should not be tolerated? That abusers need to be stopped?

Maybe this Guru wants you to know how to weave duality together. Maybe the guru is getting you to admit where you actually are on the path. Are you a 10th ground Bodhisattva with the ability to see that what is manifesting in front of you is not abuse? No. Well maybe then your job is to stop the abuse?
We do not get to cherry pick what is empty of inherent existence and what isn’t. EVERYTHING is empty. EVERYTHING. This includes abuse. For there to be the emptiness of abuse there needs to be abuse. For there to be the emptiness of violence there is violence in the first place. For the emptiness of plate, you need a plate.

Are we all cult victims here? Are we all so hell-bent on our own version of ‘becoming a Buddha’ that we are going to ignore the emptiness of child abuse, bullying or rape in case we are stopping ourselves and others from becoming enlightened? When you are faced with a decision like this wouldn’t you choose to take a risk and take a bit longer to get enlightened? Does Buddha care if you are five minutes late in getting enlightened because you stopped to make sure you protected someone from abuse?

We have some deep questions to ask ourselves. What are we trying to achieve here? Buddha cleaned and looked after the sick monk and asked that everyone else look after him too. We are all the sangha of Buddha. We need to look out for each other and be compassionate first and full of so-called wisdom second.
We need to be able to look directly into the Dharmakaya with a clear heart. With not only faith in our idea of guru but with a mind ready to encompass the whole of reality. The guru is the very important finger pointing at the moon. Only you know what level you are at. You need to be honest with yourself and act accordingly.

If this Buddhist path means turning a blind eye to child abuse, to rape, to cruelty then I admit that I am not at a level that fully understands that. It is not a goal I am aiming at. And while I can choose to see that EVERYTHING is the path to enlightenment I will continue to err on the side of caution.

Yes, the guru could be an enlightened Buddha. This is important. But what if they aren’t. What if the student wasn’t ready for these enforced teachings? What if it is abuse? Both sides are equally important. Who put you/me in charge of what teaching is being taught here? How do we know what the lesson is? I believe we have to look in our own heart and mind and be honest with where we are at and work from there.

Buddhism and the teachings of Buddhism are profound and beautiful. I will always be eternally grateful for the teachings I have received. I would be nothing if it weren’t for the generosity of the Tibetan people sharing dharma in the face of their own great horrors. There is so much good to be found but people will not be able to find it while predators and abuse is given the blind eye and victims are blamed because this dynamic will, rightly, always steal the focus.

If our teachers are good we can only protect them from wrong accusations and lies if the dharma community is clear about what is ok and acceptable.

I was told the time of Maitreya was coming maybe it is here the time of Maitreya and the coming age of loving kindness. Maybe the world is so impure we cannot learn quickly with wrathful teachings. Maybe if you want a guru who is all BDSM you could set up a Buddhist community up for that. Other than that maybe not being a guru who is into sex and power is also ok? Because the way I see it is the emptiness of abuser can be ‘found’ in the an actaul abuser that needs to be stopped. The emptiness of plate is found in the plate.
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I Too Am A Whistleblower. From the Other Side of the Darkness.
By Andrea Ballance

With the horrific revelations of Harvey Weinstein and Sogyal Rinpoche, I felt compelled to write a message of support and love to the people brave enough to stand up and rip the illusions away from the predators that live among us. Some of these remarkably brave people have been through terrible experiences and It hurts my heart to see such pain being inflicted because of power that has gone bad.

I think it is fair to say that power abuse is genderless and has no particular clothes except the clothes of those with power over people less powerful than them. Surviving this kind of abuse is difficult and exhausting and it is an unfair journey that no one deserves to have to go on.

In relation to Buddhism (possibly other religions too), the power abuse has a different feel and focus. It has the extra room of the belief in future lives and cyclic rebirth. When you are abused by a guru you are not just abused for this life you are tied to them for all your future lives. The predators that appear in Buddhism are focused on the long game.

I will leave this thought here. The ramifications of this are utterly profound and can destroy someone on a level many people cannot recognise.

I have come out the other side of enforced ‘victims’ journey. I have been told that I brought it on myself, that is was my own fault, that it was my karma. I have been told to have compassion for my abusers, that in my case I probably provoked them. That by speaking out I am going to hell, that I am ruining Buddhism, that it is me that is impure. That I was breaking vows and we all know the implication of breaking vows is not only a hellish rebirth but the biggest crime of all we are hurting all living suffering beings by not working towards enlightenment. It goes on, guilt upon guilt, layers of isolation on layers of isolation.

The whole experience of being abused for me has been a messy and complicated experience. I became confused in the cult environment and was mean to people at points. I am sure there are people lining up ready to say that I have acted badly at points. I am not a Buddha. I was sucked up into a cult and acted like a cult member until I could break free. Everyone who leaves the NKT, for example, feels like this. It makes it hard to speak out.

Recently I went to Tunbridge Wells and had Boulderstone Technique. I have worked so long and hard at healing myself. I had held the strong belief that no one outside of Buddhism would understand that I had been made terrified through all of my future selves/lives, not just this one manifesting here, so I never went to formal therapy. However, I had hit a numb plain, I was just numb. No motivation, just robot me. So I had nothing to lose so I went. Now I am a completely different person than I was six months ago, I feel I can now say that I have survived. I am no longer surviving.

On the other side of the darkness of being a whistleblower and a whipping boy for the spiritually weak. I have come to understand that being a whistleblower is a duty all of us ‘victims’ are forced into. If we do not take up the mantle of whistleblower we feel shame and regret like we are backing the predator. From one enforced duty bound reality to another. It can still feel like you are dancing to the predator's tune. Worse, surviving the Buddhist guru predator can even feel like you are propping up their ego and proving they weren’t a predator all along just by the virtue of you not taking your own life. You survived, you could handle it, therefore, the guru knew what would happen.

I have also started to realise how utterly exhausting these predators are. They draw in the unsuspecting and then they affect their families and their communities. They are the largest sources of power drain I have ever born witness to. Buddhism by its very nature is about removing our deluded notions and beliefs and moving us closer to enlightenment. If there is a predator in the dharma centre’ they are obstructing the path to enlightenment. They are drawing the energy away from study, meditation and concentration and moving all of that focus onto themselves and their actions. Completely deluded divas.

Are we practising Dharma or not? A predator will bring the dharma down. If you think anyone around me wants to skip freely into being a Buddhist after my experience you would be wrong. Every predator in Buddhism separates countless living beings from their potential. They do not even have to hurt people directly, the ramifications of their actions does it for them. Revealing a predator is the only and best thing you can do for a true and real Buddhism, a true and real sangha, for real dharma to flourish in general.

Many other established religious organisations do not proudly ‘out’ their predators, choosing instead to deny or hide them and protect them. This gives the predator not just free reign to hurt the people in their direct sphere but eventually, it will spread distrust and bring down the organisation they are being protected by. We need to get the predators out. We need to say as a community, ‘we can not promise to know who is a predator but when we finally see one in action we remove them’.

All you whistleblowers and predator survivors, I love you. I love if you speak out, I love you if you can’t speak out, I love you because you bore witness to such deep cruelty and you didn’t turn to hate. You may get lost but you survive. Your job is just to find happiness and your journey is yours

For those of you who find speaking out saves them, who then get publicly abused by the spiritually dry and end up in the constant mind labyrinths of guilt and potentials for suffering, I see you. I see your heart and motivation. You are the cause for people's enlightenment. You are the vehicles of pure Dharma. I see you, I am standing with you and I know that you are the true refuge for people lost in the darkness.

To the people in 'power' who are not predators. YOU have the duty to stand up like the Dalai Lama and other prominent Buddhist teachers and protect the purity of the Dharma. This should not be left to the people who have been systematically abused by a predator. YOU are the holders of the lineage, the true protectors. In general, however, I want to just add the length of time Sogyal was allowed to 'carry on' for is pretty damning from my perspective.

It is time for safeguarding policies. For a dharma centre culture to emerge that makes it difficult for these people to get into power. For the powerful to stand up and say enough is enough. Is it me or do western disciples seem to be remarkably naive? But blaming them for the corruption of a Lama is not the answer. The answer is a code of conduct that fits into the year 2017.
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The Pure Buddhadharma
By Andrea Ballance

I have had PTSD from leaving, what I and others consider to be, a Buddhist cult since before 2003. Recently I have had a therapy called the Boulderstone Technique (TBT) for this PTSD. I was truly surprised when, after one (long) treatment, my symptoms had massively reduced. For example, I no longer suffer from spaced out periods of crippling fear and feel, finally, safer in my body and mind. Thank you Boulderstone Technique for that. I am not going to go into too many details about this but you are welcome to message me if you want to talk about this.

As you can imagine this reduction in background fear has been revolutionary for me. The things that had been blocking my happiness, the grief at losing my ordination and the left over ingrained guilt and terror that have been underlying in all my experiences (on a sliding scale of pain) since leaving the NKT, gone. Forgotten.

This terror has been my background music. It has stopped me from completely engaging fully in life and in any formal Dharma. It has made me frightened of my connection to the ‘Buddhas’ or enlightened energy as I understand it. It fully separated me, not only from my faith but from all spiritual connections. This fear and dread that at any point I could be flooded by feelings of terror, made me hide from any spiritual experiences. I couldn’t trust my own mind anymore, it had almost been made my enemy. Because I had been judged impure by my sangha, my teachers and guru on such a deep level I was crippled by the thought - what if I make another catastrophic mistake and then have to deal with that alone?

I have been thinking about something a friend once said to me. They told me that the light in the eyes of someone's smile is where you can find Buddha. This has stayed with me. When I was frozen at the beginning of my recovery I would timidly watch someone's face light up and try to warm my lonely soul in the warmth of their smile. I would watch for the light and wonder, is that really what the Buddha is about? Then a few weeks ago, almost in harmony with the circle my path is on at the moment, another person said to me that they felt the NKT’s ‘evil’ lies in the way they separate people from that light. They saw it as a cruel thing to do to someone. Putting an ocean of terror between a person and their Buddha light. That is what happened to me and many many others.

I started my Buddhist journey with a deep deep wish to understand compassion and love. In particular unconditional love. It was my obsession. Along my journey I lost all contact with love and towards the end of my journey I lost my faith in the fact any human could really love unconditionally. My path slowly derailing from love to what is dharma?

Then fifteen years into my journey of recovery my faith in love was restored when I met the Dalai Lama. Pretty galling that I had to meet one of the most unobtainable people in the world to get back to that truth. I just can’t argue with the fact the Dalai Lama has stood in the full glare of a western media. A media intent on making us all believe that self importance is the only way. The Dalai Lama has stood by his belief and faith that only love and compassion will win out. My respect for his undying commitment to warmth and love will always stay with me now. He is among a very small list of people who I can say saved me.

I have just been hearing stories about what looks like online attacks on people who I believe are sharing their dharma understanding on the internet. The NKT don’t seem to like it if their students share their dharma experience with out their prior consent. I wonder if they feel it’s their dharma and they have a right to decide who teaches it? Trying to ‘keep it pure’ maybe? Maybe they feel they own it? Which of course just can’t be the case as it is suppose to be shared freely. This got me to thinking…

Even though His Holiness ‘saved’ my dharma practice and I am increasingly indebted to him I do not see the Dalai Lama wanting or needing my devotion. He nor his messengers are in my life on a day to day level. He does not dictate what books I read, where I get my inspiration from, where the blessings from the Buddhas come from. He just saw my face in a meeting with him, reached out to me and cared about me for a moment and then I was left free to let my karma and my life slowly open into a stronger, more happy place. He has never demanded anything from me in return for an act that saved my faith in love.

Now I watch him on the internet doing his conferences with lady gaga and the like and he is always smiling, like he feels it is his job. He is always making that ‘Buddha light’ in his eyes. He brings out that light in others.

Since meeting with His Holiness I have gone on to have TBT as I said above. TBT has opened the doors to my practice. I am no longer frightened to meditate. I am no longer distrustful of my reactions or scared of Buddhist teachers or experiences. This therapy gave me the confidence to take the opportunity to go to see the Karmapa in Frimley a friend gave me. I went to an empowerment! The empowerment meant I could focus on a Buddha and do their practice. Not what I see as a tarnished NKT practice just a normal clear one. I now have daily practice. I just can’t believe that after so many years of complete darkness that I am able to practice again. Thank you for that! I have missed it so much.

When I look into the faces of NKT students, particularly their 'ordained' group members I do not see the light of Buddha dancing in their eyes. I do not see people free to experience Buddha in their lives in whatever way that enlightened energy chooses for them. They are not free to be inspired by any other teacher than Kelsang Gyatso or one of his Dharma robots. They all look scared to me. They look grey faced, tight lipped and when I am around them I always feel like they are holding their energy still. I know I was.

I look back as a survivor and ask, what were we scared of? I do not believe we were scared of violence. I believe we were scared of breaking the rules, upsetting the teacher, upsetting the guru. We were frightened of bad karma and of doing the wrong things. Saying the wrong thing. Asking the wrong questions. Being the wrong kind of dharma practitioner. Being ‘self-cherishing'. Not making enough merit. Not acting like a Bodhisattva. Not doing the centre work. Of having negative thoughts and god forbid, DOUBTS. Of not being or doing things purely enough. Of not being pure enough.

I am not convinced this can even be taken seriously as a Buddhist dharma practice. If you are propelled by fear, by being quietly silenced, by conformity, by trying to be a ‘valid’ practitioner by the belief that everyone around you is impure you just can’t be happy. If you are 'expected' and forced to practice dharma rather than choose too you are surely not practising dharma anymore?

There is no Buddha light there. No compassion. No love. Guarded friendship. It’s just lonely. It's just all the negative sides of interconnection. You can not be happy if all around you are unhappy. It is just not possible.

If you believe that Buddhas can only manifest within this new group the NKT then you have to have the wrong idea of what a Buddha is and does. If you believe Buddha can only work through one teacher and his versions of Buddhist texts then you are, in my opinion, being tricked. If you believe that Buddha wants you to give your everything so he can take everything with nothing in return, not even love, then you are painfully mistaken. I can see that now. I am sure of that now.

I feel that any sane person searching for enlightenment has to ask, if Buddha is the light in someone’s eyes when they smile, If that really is Buddha, is your practice taking you closer to this? Is you teacher taking you closer to this? If Buddha's light is in every smile, I think you will find smiles in your group and more smiles out in the world. There will be more light the wider you cast your net.

Is what you are practising really dharma?

Is that the real pure dharma?
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I have been chatting with a few people that are worried that by Neil getting re-ordained the NKT are 'normalising' the abuse this guy has orchestrated in the past. So Neil taught Samden this sexual lineage and then Samden passed it on to his students who in turn passed it on to their student... There is no judgement here from me on that by the way. If it was an openly sexual lineage I wouldn't care it is just that it is not. It is in this confusion that the abuse is happening.
So, many people have told me that my animations helped them and the things I have written that they came across (obvs not just my stuff) so then I had an idea. -
If I asked all of you here HOW did you get out? How did you decide this tradition is not for me? How long did the transition take from leaving physically to leaving emotionally and spiritually?
PLEASE could you write a paragraph about this. Advice for people you might be karmically able to help on the safest way to leave.
I want to gather all of the advice - which can be anonymous - and make a little wordpress site with it. Just a quiet site of help and support for people who have been hurt like us.
So i leave it in your hands now. If no one gets back i won't do it etc.
SO i just wanted to add... you could write your advice... tape your voice talking your advice.... video your advice.... any format and tiny to large pieces will be used. I am willing to help people write this stuff out.
You must also let me know if you want to remain anonymous.
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So I have given this piece a lot of thought and I find I am seriously conflicted about sharing this part of my journey. The concrete stuff of how people were uncompassionate or emotionally immature I can share, it is not easy to share but because I found I had no choice but to share it, the choice was easy. This side of my experience in the NKT I have never shared with hardly anyone never mind strangers.

However I am going to share these most personal and intimate experiences because I feel I want to give a space to the unprovable spiritual and energy abuse we went through in the NKT.

So my disclaimer is… Yes, it could have all been in my mind. Yes, these things could have been caused by stress. No, I am not the only one who experienced weird stuff. No, I do not think it makes me special. No, I do not want to enter in to massive discussions over my sanity. No, I no longer have experiences.

People ask, ‘if the NKT was so bad why did you stay?’ ‘If you couldn’t see ‘your’ guru why did you hang around?’and other reasonable and sane questions. Why would someone stay in an abusive environment?

My spiritual journey started when I was very small. We were living in Germany and I was playing outside in the garden on a warm sunny day. I sat down and crossed my legs and just got still. Who knows why. I was interested in experimenting with any and all experiences when I was young. As I sat (in what I now know was meditation posture) I felt as though my ‘inner me’ was shrinking and I was kind of sitting inside a big dark body looking out of two very distant eye holes / windows. I was all peaceful and safe inside my body my consciousness tiny and distant from the rest of the world. I didn’t really even realise what was going on until I had the loud thought I should stand up and somehow I need to grow to fit inside my body again.

So as time went on I had one interesting experience after another but later put this down to possibly having childhood epilepsy. Who knows. My parents were busy and if I had epilepsy it wasn’t picked up on or diagnosed. These random experience were not frequent but I had them on and off, through my teens and early adulthood until I can say my spiritual path started in earnest.
When I ‘started’ my path (i don’t know if you can even say that as it is really a river of consciousness) I was interested in the idea of inner guides and what I now have come to understand are the concepts of crazy wisdom and emanations. Exploring this ‘style’ of spiritual openness brought me to interesting books by the Dalai Lama and other spiritual people but Buddhism was for me the real area I wanted to focus on.

I followed my ‘signs and indications’ and came to Manjushri centre, Ulverston, for a summer festival. So although I was open to being spiritual I had never really got involved fully with a religion or group like that before. This naivety was very much my problem as I was wide open to influence. It was easy for a more experienced energy worker or practitioner to play with my innocence and lack of experience.

For example on my first summer festival in the NKT I was camping down in the woods. I had rode my bike into Ulverston with some friends and we had all met up in a pub. I spent the time talking to a girl who shared with me some of her really difficult and abusive past. I was really gutted for her. As I was talking to her I started to become exhausted. So much so I really didn’t know how I was going to make it home. Riding the bike seemed impossible. I knew though I had to go home, I had to sleep, I had never felt physically drained like that before.

I got on the bike and through sheer physical memory I pointed the bike at the Buddhist centre and started pedalling. By the time I reached the wall that marked the boundary of the farm next to the centre I was fantasising about climbing off the bike and curling up to sleep in the roadside. I carried on but then I realised the road was actually a gradient. I was trying to peddle up a gradual hill. I decided to get off the bike and try to find a place to sleep. I know this sounds crazy but I literally was completely drained and had no energy left. I realised it wasn’t safe for me to sleep by the side of the road but at the time had no one to phone for help, had no friends with me and I just couldn't go on anymore.

When people ask me why I moved to Manjushri and why I joined the NKT and I tell them various things like I worked with the mind before I met the Dharma and nothing spoke the truth as much as Dharma… or I had connected deeply with the teachings on renunciation so I knew I just had to find out more… These are reasons are true but another reason was that my life got irrevocably changed and even saved on this day.

I couldn’t pedal anymore. I knew if I got five minutes sleep I would have enough energy to get back to my tent. So as I was deciding to get off my bike in this horrible groggy state I realised I was still moving. I thought, Ah! this is one of those moments when you wave in out of sleep but your body is still working. Then I realised I was not pedalling my bike. I felt like I was on a scooter.

Now I know how crazy that sounds. I am also happy to believe that my mind was so exhausted that it decided to dream I was moving without pedalling. However the experience I had was that I was somehow pulled (at the the time I thought it was by someone's aura) on my bike up the road, down the drive and into the centre. I remember wondering when I would have to take responsibility for the bike. I felt like ‘the bike’ took me right to my tent. I climbed into my tent and slept hard. I was too drained to be freaked out by this experience.

Later I stopped and replayed the experience in my mind. It had a profound effect on the way I viewed Kelsang Gyatso. Obviously I assumed at the time it was him who saved me. In retrospect if a mind could have saved me from sleeping by the side of the road like that it would not necessarily been him.
This experience blew my mind right open. Blew me right open. I was completely open and now I see, vulnerable to the NKT after that.

That same festival I was sitting in the temple with my friends. This guy walked up to me and told me he needed help. I can not remember the ins and outs of it all but in essence he needed someone to take his shift in the washing up tent. I remember feeling massively irritated by the situation and I looked at the big Buddha statue and formulated the thought. I thought you were a Buddha why don’t you help him? Then I had the freakiest experience of words formulating in my mind making ‘the feeling’, ‘I have done something, I have brought him to you so you can help him.’ This made me laugh. So I got up and went and did the shift for the man. Did Buddha just talk to me? In my head? Probably not but, Wow, what an eye opener to what the mind can hear/do. I had a few other protective ‘experiences’ in that festival.

It took a while and frankly even though all my signs and indications were telling me not to move into the centre I had to go. How could I miss an opportunity to learn meditation and the Buddhist teachings and find out more about my mind! I moved into the centre. Why wouldn’t I after that?

There was a whole lot of stuff in the world I obviously has no idea about. I didn’t have a plan as such I just knew that I couldn’t live and ‘ordinary’ life anymore. Buddhism seemed to hold the keys to my own mind's sanity, the way to help others and the path to me fulfilling my mind's potential.

So I moved into the centre. The main centre, Manjushri. After a while of living there I started to have this awareness that everything was actually blissful. I am not going to be able to put it into words but I will try. I felt like everything was powerfully permeated by bliss. Everything was dreamlike in it nature and we didn't need to get stressed or worried about anything. That I was a part of a strong blissful energy connection. This state went on for about two weeks. It became normal for me. I was not ungrounded as such, the world was still there I was just a slightly removed blissful part of it. Coming out of that state was painful and took a lot of my inbuilt emotional protections with it.

The first time I went into a Shugden puja I wanted to leave. I was literally desperate to leave. The energy in the room was overpowering. I used to avoid the puja if I could. I found that time in there went on in them forever.
One day I went into the puja and I was trying to be less affected by the energy. I was sitting crossed legged with the shrine with all the Shugden statues were to my right. I had my head bowed and eyes half shut. There was a shift in the energy of the puja and I felt that the shrine and the Buddhas in the shrine had come alive. I am not sure now if I did see them or I just felt like I could see rainbows shining out of the cabinet. As I had never experienced anything like that before and was not looking to have an experience like that I did not look up into the shrine. Although the experience actually ‘felt’ ordinary to my body my mind was really not up for looking into a shrine where it felt everything had come alive. I was completely and utterly freaked out by this experience.

Another time I was lying in the sun on the grass outside of Manjushri centre by the cafe. I was talking to my friend and as I was only about a year into living in a centre I was actually enjoying the sun and the company. I looked up to the roof of the centre and saw multiple straight rainbows coming out of the centre roof. I remembered the straight rainbows I had seen on Thangka paintings and realised this must be a widely experienced phenomenon.

After the straight rainbow experience I went to see the main teacher of the centre at the time Samten kelsang. I was starting to think I must be losing my mind and seeing stuff. As I explained to him some of the experiences I had been experiencing. He spoke the usual robot language about how mediation is not about ‘seeing things’ and then he went on to accuse me of having pride and was actually quite mean to me. I left the meeting pretty confused. I was not reassured that I was not losing my mind. I was not feeling pride so I couldn’t understand why I had been roasted for that. He shut me right down and I never spoke to many people about these experiences from there on in.
After that I became very cautious of Pujas and meditation. I didn't want to be seeing things that either meant I was mad or full of pride. Both of those things would be getting in the way of Bodhichitta and I was now completely passionate and fascinated by bodhisattvas and the concept of Bodhichitta.

As things deteriorated in my time in the cult the magic was less frequent and drained away. I had less and less 'magical' experiences. I had powerful dreams as time went on, warning me that Gyatso was not my guru. I had an experience where all my books flew off my shelf except for Gyatso’s dharma books. I was becoming more and more disillusioned. The time where I had committed to ‘just being a nun and doing my practice’ had been and gone. I was probably a bit depressed when the next thing happened.

I started to get the urge to tidy my room. I felt like I was being pestered by someone. I fought the feeling because I was exhausted, chronically exhausted. I had become so physically ill I just had to focus my energy on doing pujas and my practice etc and keeping my room tidy was not important to me. The feeling did not leave it just started to feel more pressing. Before I knew what I was doing I was putting stuff away. I remember catching myself and thinking, ‘why am I tidying up? No one visits my room. I am going to stop’. Anyway this pressing feeling that I needed to tidy up turned into a feeling that I was going to get a visit from someone very important.

At this point I decided my mind was playing tricks on me and to be honest I got a little bit angry. I was tired of being messed around with. I decided to ignore the feelings I was having. The feeling however grew and then as I was sitting on my couch I got the feeling someone important had come to see me. It had the feeling of Medicine Buddha with his retinue. All very grand. I am like, ‘Ok I have a whole weird energy drama going on today just ride it and don’t buy into it’.

The feeling changed from, ‘someone is coming to someone is here’. A palpable feeling of excitement and pomp in the air.
Then I became ‘aware’ that this ‘Being’ was there because they had heard how dedicated to the Dharma I was and how much I had been trying to do the right thing. I had sparked their interest and it had wanted to come and see me. This feeling lasted long enough for me not to be able to ignore it and for me to be able to recall it clearly now. Why was it so important? I was not completely alone. Hallucination or otherwise this experience kept me ordained and focused on my practice and on my integrity for a long time afterwards.

Other experiences include energy and light. I was dedicated to Tara and was doing her puja and as I was singing a white ball of light started to appear in the corner of my room. I think by this point I had become annoyed with ‘weird’ stuff happening and stopped singing and went to sleep.
After an empowerment one time I went home and laid out on my bed. I suddenly felt like all my energy was being hoovered/sucked away from me. Like it was being harvested. I was powerless to stop the feeling so decided to see it like it was purification. Lots of energy changes would happen after empowerments.

I became so exhausted and ill in the time I lived in this cult. In the end I went to a Tibetan Dr. I wish I could remember his name. He gave me herbal medication and told me to stop eating rice. He was very right about the rice. I remember taking the medicine and feeling better (best Dr I have ever had) and then one day I was taking a nap (I was periodically exhausted and had to sleep in the day) and I was drifting in a sleepy state. I felt like I was floating in clouds. Then the clouds parted and I saw the very surprised face of the Dr who seemed shocked to see me. Who knows if that was real or not but it felt real. Sorry Tibetan Dr for visiting you by mistake! Or did I? What is real!

Then there were the countless little things, the coincidences, things turning up just as I needed them. There were teachings happening in my daily experiences. Meditation experiences and feelings of guidance in my daily life. Energy information everywhere. People with strong auras, people messing with my energy and people trying to help and reassure. All of which science cannot prove and I could be called bonkers and mad for.
I also had strong experiences in meditation. These ‘feelings’ guided me. I found I had to be strong and often ended up in a situation of conflict following the feelings I had had in mediation. Now that has got to be wrong, meditation make you more peaceful, right?

So why didn’t I leave? I was a human with no experience trying to connect with the enlightened wisdom in the universe and I felt it was telling me, ‘It was a bad idea to come here, but here you are. You want to make the most of this? Buckle up and let's do this’.

A cult in the Dharma is a very difficult place to navigate. Having inexperienced teachers with no meditation experience is dangerous. Having a base of deception as a foundation for heart opening practices is catastrophic.

I did get caught up in my magical experiences but not out of pride but because a prudent student should not be allowing changes to their reality without checking their validity. I had no one to help me understand what was going on on energy levels or in relation to these experiences. I was left afraid of my own mind and my practice. As time went on all I wanted from the echoes of my being was to understand and practice meditation. Not being able to learn this destroyed me.

I still feel abandoned not just on a basic level on a profound spiritual level. Obviously because of my understandable naivety I often feel humiliated as I remember things, invaded and taken advantage of. I feel tricked and deceived. I feel taken for granted by the NKT and the ‘Buddhas’. I no longer feel safe in my own experience of my mind mainly at night. I feel I can be influenced without my permission although again this doesn't bother me until the night. I generally don’t feel like I gave permission to be messed with on an energy level like this.

I have to add though Gyatso himself never tricked me into seeing him as my guru. The situation I was in did all that. I did all that on my own. He told me directly he was not my teacher. I am very confused about his role in my life. I find him a mix of honesty, cowardice, and there is a general feeling of ‘I have no idea of what you are capable of’. Who knows if he had my best interests at heart? I do not.
By Andrea Ballance
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By Tommy Hunt

Last night I was watching videos critical of the NKT. I knew about the Shugden controversy and some minor protests from NKT members but it seems it’s all escalated over the years. It's been an eye-opener, as they say. I was involved in the New Kadampa Tradition for 4 years studying formally in the late 90s. I learned a great deal about the Buddhist path with several profound experiences. I continue my study but I am no longer involved with that group or any group. My practice now is primarily Pure Land and the study of wisdom.

I attended 2 Festivals at the Manjushri Center in Ulverston with my wife of that time. She had met one of the NKT teachers in Toronto earlier and was enthralled by the experience. From my teens I was always interested in Buddhism but never part of a group so becoming involved in the NKT was a new experience for me. I pretty much tagged along in the early going as my wife became more and more involved. Later I volunteered for this and that and heard stories of people being burned out from work load but that never happened to me. I had no problem saying ‘no’. I was never into the guru stuff so the hints of cultism I sensed from time to time (like being discouraged from reading other books or investigating other traditions) didn’t really bother me. Their rationale was the focus on one tradition yielded better fruits. Sounded reasonable however I did in fact read other books and did in fact investigate other traditions. One thing I recall was a suggestion not to spend too long visiting friends and family members who were not NKT. I think the time limit was a week but I’m not certain. That was just weird and should have been a red flag but like I said I wasn’t bothered by the odd thing or two - not until later.

Towards the end of the 4 year period I was with the NKT two things happened that changed my trajectory. One was a small thing but really got my back up. During a ceremony given in honor of one of our more advanced teachers (the very same person that inspired my wife at the beginning) I was instructed to offer a gift to him. Fine, no problem - happy to do so. What bothered me was I was instructed to bow deeply holding the gift aloft like a Nahua making an offering to his Aztec God, Tezcatipoca. This creeped me out and even more so because I did it. I regretted doing it. The second thing that happened was my wife began to pull away from me. She had become very involved with the NKT and spoke sometimes of ordination (I remember several married couples became ordained). This alarmed me so I got on the phone to her spiritual main squeeze in Toronto and asked him to have a word with her because I wasn’t getting through. I was trying to save my marriage. He did and advised her that to break up a marriage wasn’t good ju ju. He said she should “bring me along”. That stopped the bleeding and our marriage limped along after that for another 5 years before finally falling apart. She happily became a nun and I went away and found a better wife.

Reflecting on my experiences and listening to ex-NKT members brings me to the conclusion that there is a cult-like aspect to this group. This business with stalking and protesting the Dalai Lama is nuts. It isn't right that this is happening. It is harmful to NKT people and harmful to Buddhism in general, particularly here in the West. They have to stop it. There were positive things that came from my time with the NKT to be sure, but there was also a price. But for a broken marriage, I don’t feel damaged however if I had a do over, I would look for another group.

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This is an extraordinarily generous and wise video made by Andrea Ballance to support people leaving the NKT. It is with gratitude and pride that we post this here. This will be so useful to anyone leaving the NKT and suffering the complex web of emotional and psychological challenges this may bring up. Thank you so much Andrea. Thank you. ... See MoreSee Less


By Peter Graham Dryburgh

[Image by Carol McQuire]

“The hurt and harm of spiritual abuse is rarely inflicted upon people with the intention to wound anyone”. Major Scott Nicloy

When we think of abuse in the year 2016, we think of horrific, intentional acts that are set out by a perpetrator, whose simple intention is to violate, humiliate and control another person by whatever means possible – for they need this, they thrive on this to succeed in their role, it is a must, it is the core, the life essence of the perpetrator.

Sadly in this day and age, there is an unspoken danger, an abuse never mentioned, nor addressed by law no society in general, but we have passed new laws around psychological abuse in the UK (December 2015) to protect the oppressed, but it is still not recognised that within the realms of ‘spirituality’ that there is abuse, there is manipulation, there is control forced upon those who feel ‘devoted’ and (simply in my opinion), that this must change.

A number of years ago, I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as living with a condition called “Developmental Post traumatic Stress Disorder”, which is a culmination of many traumas in life to effect the mind, or the brain, and one of these contributors was most definitely ‘spiritual abuse’ at the hands of and the control of the ‘New Kadampa Tradition’, which cost me my home, my job and around £10,000 in debt, but most importantly, for a long time, it cost me my confidence and self esteem, my dignity and my heart.

When you give nothing but trust, you sometimes leave yourself vulnerable; however, when you are manipulated into this trust, and manipulated into believing that you are doing the right thing, it can leave you quite damaged.

I remember my first ever meeting with the NKT, it was nothing more than a simple meditation class in my locality, it was an interest I had. At that initial meeting I raised the question around their relationship with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and I was greeted at the next class by the ‘resident teacher’, not the course teacher, to eliminate my fears and concerns regarding their ‘tradition’ – which I now realise was their first lie, their first mis-truth, and sadly the road into ‘spiritual abuse’.

Everything seemed to happen so quickly for me, I was encouraged to leave an unhealthy relationship that I had been in for a number of years, give up my property, leave friends and family behind – all in the name of ‘seeking perfection’ and Dharma – I had had an interest in Buddhism for a number of years, but I grew up in fishing villages and islands on the Scottish coast, so accessing this spiritual path was jarred with obstacles, until I moved for employment reasons to Birmingham, and I had been presented with such an easy access. One might say that I should have been more cautious, one would think I may have spotted the signs, but I challenge this, because, with every form of abuse, the perpetrator ‘sugar coats’ the truth, it is given with false love and the offer of true friendship and a spiritual ‘brethren’, a family almost.

So I started attending classes, moved into the centre, started paying for as much as I could in order to ‘gain merit’ on my road to enlightenment, which became the most important ‘mantra’ in those years, almost more important than spiritual prayers themselves, ‘gain merit, gain merit, gain merit’ is something that was taught so hard lined it became something I ate, slept and breathed for a long period of time.

When the NKT offered me the opportunity to become ‘ordained’, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I was never able to refuse – it had almost become a situation where my dreams had come true – and this is where the real abuse started, it was customary to give ‘interest free loans’, pay for building renovation, cars, statues and even the resident teacher to attend ‘festivals and empowerments’ in foreign countries (I recall paying so that someone could go to Germany for ‘Highest Yoga Tantra Empowerment’ and also being told that I may not achieve enlightenment for ‘eons’ as doing so left me unable to afford to go myself). Sadly the more I gave, the more it seemed never to be enough, there was always a need for something – I was never allowed to give up my job (which was not an issue as I loved helping others, and worked full time in an alcohol and drug treatment service) as I was the only person who brought money into the ‘Centre’ that was not based on fraudulent benefit claims by the other ordained staff there.

As time went on, my responsibilities matched my financial contribution; on times where I could afford to take out loans from my own bank, my responsibilities were great, and the respect I appeared to be shown matched this; on months where I had to pay back more to the bank than I could to the ‘centre’, I was almost shunned and kept to the side – but I did so ‘willingly’ as it meant I was balancing the negative karma from both this life and past lives, and who would not wish for this, especially in the road to enlightenment – which after the HYT empowerment, would only take 3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days – yet I never gained this empowerment, as I always paid for others to do so, generating the karma to allow myself to do so one day. I began to despair, for only one reason – that I might never find enlightenment – that I might never be free from samsara and able to actually help other people? I think this is when my doubts begun to set in.

I began to realise that even working from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday to Friday outside of the centre, I would often be up til 2 a.m. working on the building, and up again at 5 a.m. to ‘get the shrine room (gompa) ready for the day, my weekends had become full of ‘cherishing the centre’ and I lost any friends (and was encouraged to do so as they were negative to the path) who were not connected to the NKT; it became my entire life, my world, my every waking and sleeping moment.

Meeting Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (GKG) was a special and rare occurrence, and when I did, he would simply laugh and tell me that any worries were due to negative karma, and to simply see these issues as purifying negative karma, to see them as wonderful opportunities on the road to enlightenment, so as I had become so engrossed in seeing GKG as my living Guru, and a living embodiment of the Buddha himself, then of course I would thank him and feel that I had done wrong by even questioning the ‘challenges and worries’ that I faced in daily centre life.

I used to welcome an NKT festival in Ulverston as it was almost a break, a holiday from responsibility. I was often challenged by ‘senior’ monks and nuns as I always missed the first session in the temple, morning meditation, as I used this for catching up with sleep – and frankly it was a delight to be able to shower and dress in peace away from the sometimes thousands of people who were there – it became my welcome break – and I think the beginning of realising that things were not right.

I started to worry when there were death threats made against GKG and security precautions were taken – such as bullet proof vests were being worn by monks under their robes – and we were asked if we would take a bullet for ‘Geshe-la’. This is when it became real to me, realising that it actually can’t be a safe place, a genuine place to be, so I hatched a plan to leave, which was filled with obstacles. It was almost similar to the film ‘The Running Man’ – and with every sexual based scandal the NKT was facing with all the corruption and money laundering that was evident, with benefit fraud, and exploitation of innocent people, you think it would be easy to walk away when you are faced with these dilemmas – but it isn’t, there is the huge guilt of ‘breaking away from the Guru’, there is the being ostracised by your community, friends and even teachers.

I made a decision to deliberately break my ‘ordination vows’ so that there was no way I could or would stay, and even that process wasn’t without challenges – I did nothing sinister, I simply masturbated to break my celibacy vow – thinking they would simply discard me for this – however, I was wrong, I was told to do the Sojong Practice and that was told it was a standard process, almost a ‘secret club’ that most monks would do this once a year, then renew their own vows at the ordination of others – I was even partnered with another monk who would talk to me about how ‘okay this was’ and told (and I quote) “we all do it”. The only thing that I had to change, was that I would have to do a month’s retreat and write a letter to GKG to apologise for doing this “without permission”.

So there is no celibacy in the NKT ordained community – and this is when my mind became so entrenched in absolute terror – but terror of remaining there – as I was assigned another monk to ‘help me’ in my celibacy – and this turned out to be that if I did not masturbate myself – it was okay, the expectation was to ‘help each other’ – not a comfortable concept – he now (K Cho) runs and manages a prominent centre in Rome, so my mind was made up!

I actually waited for the centre to ‘close’ for two weeks, and everyone went away to where they went to. I remained, and spoke with a student at the centre, and asked for her help. I lived in her cupboard for a number of week as I had nowhere else to go, I was not allowed to speak to anyone, and as I could not get transport I left my belongings there – of which I managed to fish some clothes and basics from a skip a few days later.

If I was to be asked what my biggest mistake was to date, it was picking up a copy of ‘Transform Your Life’ in a bookshop all those years ago – it did transform my life, but not in a good way, not by any means...

The author gives permission for this article to be posted elsewhere.
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Clarification of this pages function.

The New Kadampa Survivors Testimonies page was set up to be a safe space for people to share their personal stories of the damage the NKT has done to them. Is a space where often very vulnerable people share and speak thier truth publicly.
This is not a discussion group or a place where people have the freedom to bring up anything they like and use the page for their own personal agenda. The agenda on this page is to support people hurt by the NKT and be part of the wider education about the NKT and its seriously damaging behaviour.
Recently we have had an onslaught of comments based around people's personal issues with Buddhism. We do not represent Buddhism in general we represent people who want to share their testimonies.
So we will be deleting any comments that do not relate constructively to the post they are written under.
Let us use this page to support and nurture the people who have a right to speak of the hardships they have been through.
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Andy Durling speaks out his many years of experiences new kadampa tradition (NKT).
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Open letter to the hearts and wisdom of NKT students.
To my friends in the NKT.

Friends, firstly I am writing this to the people who knew me and who I genuinely still love dearly. I am also writing this to the people who find themselves in the NKT and passionate about Dharma. I feel connected to you through your passion for something that is beyond time and space and whose essence is pure unrefined love, the Buddha and his teachings.

I really need to say to you all, surely it is time to breathe and stop for a bit? It is time to ask your heart and wisdom what is going on? We all get it. You guys feel like there is some hideous oppression going on. You are standing firm against what you perceive as a disgusting oppression of people who have no freedom.

BUT If any of you out there know me and still see me as a friend you have to listen! You all look like crazy cult victims. You are chasing down an old man in your cars, you are bullying him in corridors, you are wrecking the Tibetan people’s final years with their (possibly) last Dalai Lama. Definitely, once he does pass over and rebirth, their last Dalai Lama for years....

Read more here:
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Mixing traditions by Andrea Ballance

When I was a part of the NKT I lived in three main centres. Manjushri the then Losang Dragpa and Madhyamaka centre. I visited many smaller centres and attended the festivals I could. So I can say that I had a broad experience of the NKT’s way of dealing with things in different settings.

I found that the smaller centres had clear rules that the only ‘dharma’ they studied was Kelsang Gyatso’s own translations. However as their set up was more of a shared house/lucky to have lodgers who pay rent structure, the reading of the wider Buddhist spectrum was ignored. You did not have to be an NKT student to live in a satellite centre. I believe these rules are stricter these days.

At the festivals the focus was only Kelsang Gyatso’s teachings. There was no talk of other Buddhist teachers by most people. The only people who talked of other lamas were the long term ‘oldies’ that all seemed to have special status just from them being around for a long time.

In the three centres I lived in and especially as one of Gyatso’s nuns, it was expected that I would only have his books and no one else’s books. I would go as far as to say it was expected that I would only ever read his Buddhist translations.

The ‘rules’ or as it is given to you ‘advice’ comes from all sources. Your best friend, other ordained people, the teacher. Really, to best utilise your precious human life, become a ‘Pure Kadampa’ and get enlightened as quickly as you can you ‘should’ only read the ‘Pure Kadam Dharma’. The ‘Pure Dharma’ only comes through Kelsang Gyatso. Other Tibetan Lamas could be corrupt, confuse you and lead you down a wrong path. They have not been taught ‘Pure Kadam Dharma’ so they can not give you the correct and most powerful advice.

You could tell who was a career practitioner by how strictly they kept to these rules. They would have all of Gyatso’s books and sadhanas on their bookshelf. They shortened their hair, often wore maroon and yellow clothes and worked hard in the centre. They would often hold positions in the centre like EPC (Education co-ordinator) roles kept for the special and very dedicated.

If you are accused of mixing traditions you would have done something on this list:

Practiced spiritual healing – Reiki (this for some reason does not include alternative therapies)

Read another Lama’s books or own them. You were encouraged to get rid of these books.

Gone to another Lama’s teachings.

Have anything from a belief in the Dalai Lama to a picture of him.

Had a picture of a Lama outside of Gyatso’s approved list

Have thangka paintings by an artist not approved by Gyatso.

Used divination of any description unless you were given permission by Gyatso himself.

It was frowned upon if you:

Read non Buddhist books (whatever they maybe).

Had admiration for any person ‘outside’ of Buddhism eg. Maya Angelou for example.

If you drew pictures and art that was not ‘Buddhist’. If you were not painting Buddha or painting a statue you were wasting your time.

Kelsang Gyatso has his hair put into every statue filled in his dharma centres. This ensures that there are ‘qualified’ pure statues. So if you have a statue not filled in a centre then it is an ‘impure’ or as they say ‘unqualified’ statue. Although I do remember relics and other packages being put into the first statues I saw filled. I am not sure if that is still encouraged. You always had to be vigilant in case an ‘unqualified’ Dharma artifact slipped into your possession.

Possible text exceptions are Liberation in the Palm of your hand by Pabongka Rinpoche and texts by Trijang Rinpoche. I have to stress however these are not encouraged they are merely books you could argue a case for as they are by the Lineage gurus. No living Lama is allowed to be read in a centre.

Your widened spiritual path that brings you into contact with Buddha’s teaching is slowly shrunk until out of a kind of compassion and need to get enlightened, your world is shrunk. You are left no choice but to only read Gyatso’s version of the Buddha mind and experience. You do that or risk contaminating and slowing down your path in effect leaving millions of sentient beings languishing in samsara in horrendous suffering. Who wants to that?

If you are caught reading, owning or practicing things not specifically mentioned in his translations like mindfulness, you get labeled. You become regarded as a wildcard, a rebel. You would not be allowed to teach and you would be challenged in centre teachings. You would not be invited to join TTP (Teacher Training Programme). You would be treated with distrust. You would eventually be confronted and if you persisted in following other lama’s teachings or liking other sources of Dharma your life would be made uncomfortable and you would be asked to sharpen up or leave. You would be isolated, tolerated and eventually made to feel like leaving was you only option. You might even be evicted.

On a wider level the NKT have written instructions not to talk to any Tibetan groups or get caught up in any Tibetan causes. Yet they are caught up in the Dorje Shugden issue. They wear Tibetan Buddhist robes but they see Tibetan Buddhism as corrupt and dangerous to their practice. They claim to be a Gelugpa lineage but have nothing to do with the actual Gelug lineage.

So when the NKT shout about religious freedom you should remember this. None of them have freedom. They have had their freedom systematically removed from them. In their world talking to and taking teachings from the wider Buddhist community is a crime punishable by banishment. That crime is called ‘mixing traditions’. They see everything outside of their centres and teachers as impure and dangerous to their practice. These views are everything from completely deluded to fanatical. Compassion is necessary and really the only way you can help these people. Love will be the only thing that gets them to hear you.
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How I counteracted the loss of the NKT – as advice by Andrea Ballance

When you leave the nkt you will experience grief and huge loss. I did. You will find this disorientating and you may even feel washed away and not know who you are for a long time. You may feel like you lose friends and you will lose the feeling of security you built up around your centre, teachers and their presence. Your Home.

You may be consumed by guilt. You will deny that you have left Kelsang Gyatso. You will say you have just changed your environment. You will lose your practice and you may find your faith in the Buddhas and your connection to Buddhism becomes unstable.

It will be hard.

You MUST KNOW it is worth it because regardless of what they say or think....

See the rest of the article here...
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Stealing the Dharma out of the air.

by Andrea Ballance

I went to Aldershot to see the Dalai Lama teach. It was my first dharma talk since I left the NKT in 2003. I have not been able to go into a Buddhist environment since their debilitating treatment of me.

The opportunity arose and someone even bought me a ticket. The universe, knowing I would find an excuse not to go, also manifested me a friend who needed my help. I could not let my friend down because, like me, going to these events takes enormous bravery. I felt like I had to go and really it was time for me to experience dharma not influenced by Kelsang Gyatso.

I spent weeks preparing myself. Would I hear a phrase like “you must have compassion” and start crying? Would I see the ordained people and freeze, overwhelmed by my grief for my lost ordination? Or would I be able to quieten my anxiety enough just to enjoy the experience? I was riddled with all this before the event. When I woke at 5am to collect my friend I had become calm but mainly from a defence mechanism of zoning out.

I left at five and I drove for over two hours to get to the teaching. My husband, knowing what an epic milestone this was for me, had made sure I had lunch money and had worked out my route. He also made sure I went to bed early, so I could enjoy the day. I left my really busy and overworked husband to get the kids ready for school and I was relying on my in-laws, both of whom are terribly ill with different illnesses, to take and collect my kids from their respective commitments. So many people had made sacrifices for me to go to the event.

So I was expecting to be sad, shaken and emotional, but I was not expecting the cause to be the NKT. I can not believe after everything I have already experienced at the hands of this childish, harmful group that they could take away my first and bravest attempt at re-embracing dharma. I can only try to express the deep sadness I felt watching them steal the love and Bodhichitta out of the air.

I had only driven two hours, over burdened an already busy stressed out dad and relied on ill people to run around after my kids. At the event I discovered that there were people who had travelled there from all over the world and of course there were also many refugees with their own stories to tell. People had come from everywhere at great expense to see their teacher.

I remember when I was a nun how deeply I needed to see my guru. Just to be in his presence was everything to me. Hoping he could help me with my confusion, hopefully bless my mind and help me move closer towards being a beneficial human consciousness. I was totally devoted and dedicated to learning and moving forward. My devotion to my guru made all my troubles and life experiences easier to tolerate. It helped me to make sense of the crazy world I lived in. Most of all though it reinspired me and kept me focused. It helped me stay clear that Bodhichitta and emptiness were the right things to dedicate my life to.

I can only imagine the people at the talk were in that same space of mind. Although the Dalai Lama is not my teacher, I saw the look of the devoted and recognise their deep reverence. I felt a very happy, devoted and excited atmosphere in the people I was standing with.

The NKT were in my opinion deceptive and aggressive from the start of their set up. I got there at 8am but they were there before. They set up three areas of demonstration, one directly in front of the Tibetan community. They started their drumming and shouting hours before the Dalai Lama had even turned up. They sent people across the road to stand in with the Tibetan, Nepalese and other members of what they see as the opposing side.

One NKT monk, dressed in black jeans and Tshirt, stood menacingly with a very large camera taking pictures of the NKT and innocent attendants of the event. He seemed unnecessarily intimidating. I was really shocked that a monk would be doing that and had to check if he was still a monk and if he knew what he was doing. I say monk, but obviously we know he is not really ordained in a way that Buddhist scripture and tradition recognises. The NKT do not follow the Vinaya unlike the rest of the Buddhist world.

It was obvious that the NKT, in their mission to demonstrate against the Dalai Lama, have started to see the Tibetan and Nepalese people as their targets too. Happily drowning out their chance to hear their teacher. Happily intimidating the general public.

I did not deserve my first dharma talk in twelve years to be ruined by their anger. The Nepalese who have just suffered an earthquake disaster in Nepal needed to pray for their families and did not deserve that to be marred by an argument that is not theirs. The Tibetan people who have quite frankly suffered enough already at the hands of the Chinese did not need their opportunity to sit with their teacher hijacked either.

I have lived in the NKT centres and been around their legacy from many years. I am a complete victim of their rigid and uncreative approach to communication. This however took the biscuit. I wince when I think of the bad karma they made just by virtue of my experience of them, but when you add on all of the other people there I nearly cry! What terrible, appalling karma to be making. I have never seen such a well executed “own goal” be made in all my life.

After we had all retreated into the teaching they moved across the road, with their drums and megaphones and made the police look incompetent and biased. I felt sick. These people used to be my friends and instead of saying mantras they were drowning out someone else’s teacher – someone else’s chance for peace and blessings. Someone else’s chance to have their family blessed.

I feel deeply sorry for the NKT. Their lack of ability to communicate is hurting people. If this started out as a mission to be heard, it has now turned into a mission to harm. They seem to harm everyone they come into contact with in my opinion, even themselves.

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