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.

I have been chatting with a few people that are worried that by Niel 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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by Andrea Ballance


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'The author gives their permission for this to be reposted elsewhere.'


Duty of care:

'The legal obligation to safeguard others from harm while they are in your care, using your services, or exposed to your activities.'
Collins Dictionary

I am exhausted, two children, family illness and other commitments on top of my own health worries at the moment have tipped me over the edge and I am tired most of the time. One symptom of my current ill health is hypertension. No one finds this as funny as I do. A little part of me laughs hysterically at the coincidence of my past experiences of high stress and my current state of hypertension.

Feeling ill has been a reminder recently of the years I lived inside a Dharma centre. Probably raising my blood pressure as I think of those lost years! I tell my husband that I am so tired I have to put my feet up and every time he responds with love and understanding I am always shocked. Always shocked. After the shock I experience what feels like a brief flash of emotional grief. Grief for the years I was alone and unsupported. After being treated with little or no compassion in a dharma centre whilst being in the midst of the worst and longest illness of my life, I still find it shocking to be treated with understanding and compassion now and I disrobed and officially left the NKT in 2003.

This shock is only one of my ‘gravestone markers’ the trauma that being in and leaving the NKT has left me. These gravestones are many and have many facets. They remind me that I was in the NKT. I no longer think about it unless something pops up on my Facebook feed or I am talking with a friend. They remind me of how lost and bereft of love I used to be and how lucky I am now with my family and especially my kids. They remind me of all the people out there who are still recovering, about to recover and who have recovered enough to help others and they motivate me. Mainly they remind me how fleeting safety and happiness is and they send me briefly into a state of hyper awareness of suffering in the world.

I am looking from my home out into a very troubled world. Isis are killing and hurting people in such shocking ways. The horror that Syria has been put through. Violence towards women and the LGBT community, violence towards children, historical horrors and on top of all of that is the abuse people suffer under the guise of religion. Such an astounding amount of deliberately caused pain. So much pointless suffering and abuse.

Heightened by all of that has happened to me the isolation, the deprivation of love, the financial abuse and the invisible, cold guru, I am bereft to understand why the NKT treats people the way they do. Every atrocity that makes it into my conscious sphere weakens me. I feel totally exposed, vulnerable and it leaves me breathless and weak or disturbed by distant acceptance. All of those experiences magnify the horror in the mirror of my own experience; mainly because the abuse I experienced was so unnecessary, because I turned to Buddhism to understand how to love.

Recently, to add a new spin to my experiences in the NKT I have been finding out what happens in traditions outside of the NKT. I have heard that other gurus spend time with their students. The astounding news that when a student commits to a guru the guru commits right back. I even know someone whose guru rings her up and checks she is OK if he hasn’t heard from her for a while. I don’t know how to feel about this. It is so outside of my experience that it seems utterly bizarre to me.

I have also found out that the ordinary ordained monks in Tibet get rights to their monastery and its land. Such a profound act of respect and understanding of how to care for people. Someone dedicates their life to Bodhichitta, all living beings and they focus their energy and life into a monastery. They accept the relative poverty that comes with that. They bravely face spiritual transformation and in return they have a small bit of material security.

In the NKT you are expected to shave off your hair and to wear robes both of which reduce your chances of getting employment. You are expected to do all of this, work for your own keep in a job or get benefits, work in the centre, attend teachings and pujas, do your own meditation practice and fit in retreats. It is accepted that you WILL do this whilst you experience the profound emotional transformations that occur through practice. You are also expected to follow the teachers ‘advice’ – I saw many people in dilemmas when their teacher had asked them to take on centre work but that work had clashed with their ‘paid’ work.

All of the giving coming from the side of the ordained person is convenient for the NKT. Not taking any responsibility for their naive ordained sangha means they can afford high rents, to purchase land and make temples. The ordained give their life long commitment, work for free and support themselves. If anything goes wrong they are expected to take all the blame and to disappear. If they ask for support they are told to have faith in the guru they never see. If they get ill they are expected to get sickness benefit but still work for the centre. Or better, if you are sick you are expected to leave and not be a drain on the rest of the sangha and the centre.

This obviously does not just apply to the ordained. There are many hardened lay people who are expected to do exactly the same as above. They are also treated as unpaid staff. Although they are allowed (even though everyone knows a REAL bodhisattva does not NEED a relationship) to have a partner and even children, both the partner and the children are of course expected to not interfere with their ‘practice’.

I cannot for the life of me understand why the NKT think they can just expect this level of giving off of their lay and ordained people. To me this seems like a form of financial abuse. It is just milking people. Milking them of their time, their savings and their future ability to earn. If the NKT decide they have no use for you after ten years of ‘working for the dharma’ you are going to have to be one smart mover to get that down on your CV and still be able to earn a proper and decent wage.

While I was healing I wondered why no one seem to care about me, my progress or even my past. I was ordained, I was dedicated and I was reliant and dependant on my Dharma centre. I realised the other day that when I think these things it is habitual for me to think that I sound like I am complaining rather than raising really important and valid questions. When we/I say, ‘why did no one seem to care?’ it may come over as whining or ‘self cherishing’. The normal rhetoric of the un-comapssionate Buddhist still colours my inner thought. 'Its your karma', 'Are you still dwelling on the past? You should be over that by now', 'Why haven't you forgiven these people like a good Buddhist would.

In the background I can hear the ghosts of, ' you should not be thinking and talking negatively', 'you must only speak positively about this spiritual guide' and all of the rote and shameful ways that are used by the badly informed and wrong Buddhists out there. These are ghosts. My ex-guru publicly believes in standing up against guru's as long as it is publicly stated it is an act of love. If he, a 'spiritual master' is doing it, it must be a teaching. I am encouraged by this and it helps me to continue in my decision to share my story.

It was as a lay person that I found out about running businesses and looking after employees. I have been a training director in a company and I am currently working with a team of volunteers in my community arts work that I do. As I was involved in setting up the volunteer group it sank in that the cold law of the land had a better feeling of responsibility to people than the Buddhists I had dedicated my life to. Then I found out about the legal term, duty of care.

There is a legal definition in Britain for the term Duty of Care.

Taken from the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
Meaning of “relevant duty of care”
(1) A “relevant duty of care”, in relation to an organisation, means any of the following duties owed by it under the law of negligence—
(a) a duty owed to its employees or to other persons working for the organisation or performing services for it;
(b) a duty owed as occupier of premises;
(c) a duty owed in connection with—
(i) the supply by the organisation of goods or services (whether for consideration or not),
(ii) the carrying on by the organisation of any construction or maintenance operations,
(iii) the carrying on by the organisation of any other activity on a commercial basis, or
(iv) the use or keeping by the organisation of any plant, vehicle or other thing;
(d) a duty owed to a person who, by reason of being a person within subsection (2), is someone for whose safety the organisation is responsible.

I have to stress I am not a lawyer but as a lay person I am not convinced the NKT take their legal and also importantly moral responsibilities seriously. Why does the moral part of this need highlighting? Well Buddhism is the religion of compassion. The religion of the great Bodhisattvas, the people who give their lives for others. This is the higher ground of Buddhism. In the case of the NKT, in my opinion, the ordinary and mundane law of the land is aware and concerned more about moral behaviour than they have appeared to be. This is something they would be wise to take a look at.

People turn to Buddhism to relieve and understand their own and others suffering. They are often so taken with Buddhism that they get carried away. A term they use a lot in the NKT is the honeymoon period. In this honeymoon state I gave away my material goods and my common sense with regard to material matters. I lost my freedom and trusted an organisation that recognised no duty of care towards me. I gave up my future and dedicated myself completely to the NKT, Geshe Kelsang and my understanding of what Dharma was.

In this world rammed full of the worst kind of suffering surely it is Buddhism’s job to help people find peace? It is Buddhism’s job to show people a way to end the suffering in the world. It is Buddhism’s job to stand up and proudly be brave in its core belief of kindness. Be strong in its compassion. Be the powerful, unwavering and completely unfashionable force of love, warmth and forgiveness. Within this practise, shouldn't meeting the requirements of the legally defined minimum be a given? Shouldn't aspiring Bodhisattvas been going further? Shouldn't the NKT be a shining example to other “worldly” organisations of how to treat their staff?

Humans are dependant-related phenomena. There are easy to follow basic guidelines on how to care for a human. If your organisation is failing in this area it is your duty to change how your organisation treats people. In my opinion it is not appropriate to ignore and berate people that your organisation has let down and damaged. This is the 21st Century.

I'm not legally trained and I can't be sure if the law has been transgressed – but I do know what I and others have experienced at the hands of the NKT is not within the spirit of this legislation. More than that I know that this is not the Buddhist way. It is also not right to continue in this way with your current and active students.

The time has come to ask the NKT why they are failing in their Duty of Care for students? NKT, will you ever look within your own organisation and start treating your students with the human decency they have a right to? They need you to and it is your legal and dare I say it, moral duty.
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“The Ticking Bomb That Took 23 Years to Explode”. Part Two

(This present writing is a sequel to my previous Tibetan Translator's Testimony)

By Tenzing Wangdak

All testimonies on this Facebook Page are protected by Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND

It was in April 1991, thoughts on recent unpleasant episode were still lingering in my mind. We were driving from Seville to Cordoba by car and I could see miles and miles of sunflower fields out of the window touching the horizon. Suddenly I felt myself gripped by a strong emotion of seeing how small and insignificant I was before the universe. Momentarily I was lost in thought, and recovering, I saw tears rolling down my cheek. I wiped them off with the back of my right hand, with a wry smile on my face. Such a feeling lifted a very heavy weight off my mind. Then I felt very happy. After the summer of the same year, I left the centre definitely.

A very important question arises, why is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso so determined to fight tooth and nail on Shugden issue? To answer this question, I have to go back to the mid July 1989. Myself and Geshe Tamding Gyatso rode from Manjushri Institute, Cumbria, England, to a small retreat centre called Tharpaland in Scotland where Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was doing retreat along with some of his students. We spent one weekend over there. During one of the conversations between the two geshes, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso said that his teacher Trijang Rinpoche instructed him to carry on Dorjee Shugden practice. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso said and, I quote; “Kyabje Triyang Rimpoche was very ill. When I saw him in poor health, I felt very sad. I implored him to extend his life and live longer for the sake of Dharma and the well-being of living beings. I prostrated before him, and then performed a long-life prayer repeatedly. After the prayer, Kyabje Trijang Dorjeechang told me, "Be cautious. Now, Shugden practice is declining".” Well, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso took this statement as if he were given the responsibility of upholding and reviving it.

Another time, Geshe Tamding Gyatso was speaking with him and at one stage of their conversation he praised Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for his invaluable work for the Dharma, publishing the books entitled "Clear Light of Bliss" and "Meaningful to Behold". Geshe Tamding Gyatso told him that some of his students in Spain appreciated them. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso responded, "Thanks to the Buddhist books composed by the previous Tibetan masters like Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen, Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen, Ngulchu Dharmabhadra, etc. They made my work simple. Without their help, it would be an uphill task to give teaching on these two texts. The credit goes to them.” He was right. I saw most of the Tibetan lamas using commentaries written by highly accomplished teachers of the past as a reference to teach Buddhism to their students in the west.

I talked with Geshe Tamding Gyatso many times over the importance of a dharma protector in Buddhist practice. Once we were talking on Dorjee Shugden, I asked him whether or not Dorjee Shugden was a worldly deity. He replied very clearly that Dorjee Shugden was a worldly deity; Kyabje Triyang Rinpoche said that he was a worldly deity. Geshela was thoughtful for a while and continued, “Had H. H. the Dalai Lama advised us not to propitiate Dorjee Shugden in the early 1960s, I wouldn't have received the Life Entrustment Empowerment. In the early 60s at Buxa Refugee Camp, Assam, Kyabje Triyang Rinpoche and Kyabje Song Rinpoche were the most famous known lamas of the time, and most of the monks received teachings and tantric initiations from them. I was amongst them.” Fortunately, Geshe Tamding Gyatso stopped the Shugden practice in the 90s.

In the summer of 1989, we were invited to give teachings in the Buddhist Centres in England, which were under the direction of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. I still remember vividly one incident at Madhyamaka Centre, Yorkshire. It was in August, 1989. One day I attended for the long life prayers of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and I was sitting next to Geshe Tamding Gyatso in the front row. Neil Eliot, the spiritual director of the centre, was sitting on the opposite side, first in the front row. As soon as we finished the long life prayer, a small book was distributed. I opened it and saw the picture of Dorjee Shugden. I turned the pages, and then put the book upside down on my desk. After that, I looked at Neil Eliot and he was smiling at me. I smiled him back. Well, he realized I was not going to do this practice. Neil Eliot was considered quite a charismatic personality. He resembled Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo with his bulky physique and bald head. He was regarded as the worthy successor to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. I remembered him calling himself Thubten Gyatso, and he was quite proud of his Tibetan name. In fact, it was also the name of the 13th Dalai Lama. During my 8-day stay at the centre, even I got along very well with him.

I came to realize later that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso expelled him from Madyamaka Centre due to the unfortunate incident of his sexual life in the centre. His life as a Buddhist monk ended rather in an inglorious way. He has already changed his name from Thubten Gyatso to Kadam Neil Eliot. Perhaps, this gives him a new lease of life. Nowadays, from the sources of the New Kadampa survivors, he is one of those who mastermind behind closed door to mobilize protest against H.H. the Dalai Lama in the streets of Europe and USA. Nevertheless, he does it at the behest of Kelsang Gyatso. I thought that he lost the opportunity to be Kelsang Gyatso’s successor. Now it seems that he enjoys absolute power in the NKT community.

Shugden worshippers practice their protector freely whenever and wherever they like. Nobody has imposed any restriction on their religious freedom. Nonetheless, they have no right to encroach on the rights of other people. His Holiness has said over and over again that they are free to do their own practice of Shugden, but with the condition that they are advised not to attend his teachings. How foolhardy they are! Despite having full religious freedom, they still believe it has been cut. Consequently, they have protested against the Dalai Lama in the streets of big cities in Europe and USA, demanding a religious freedom that they already have. They have gone too far and made this situation intolerable for Tibetan people. Going against something obvious is a clear indication of mental disorder.

Recently I found the infamous Yellow Book by Zemey Rinpoche on the internet, only the relevant parts of it. It recounts the stories of prominent Geluk teachers and government officials who became the victims of Shugden for having gone astray from the path of Gelukpa tradition. It was appalling. According to Yellow Book, their lives revolved around Shugden. One powerful Spirit played the decisive role to dictate the fates of those unfortunate victims. The fact remains that the book is based on wild assumptions rather than logic. Such assumption is open to discussion. How true is it? There was no evidence to prove the veracity of these claims. Now, let me believe that it is true for a while, then, how is it possible that a religion with non-violence as its foundation act violently? Is this the way to instil fear in the hearts of fellow Gelukpa practitioners? Is this the way to leave fellow dharma practitioners out in the cold? Are they deliberately wreaking havoc in Gelukpa Society? Has Lord Buddha taught them to kill fellow dharma practitioners? I have come to the conclusion and will say that they messed up Tibetan Buddhism in the 20th century.

This kind of belief is deeply imbedded in a strict religious orthodoxy. We must take into consideration other important factors that could be the causes of their untimely death. In the first half of the 20th century, the life expectancy of Tibetan people was very low. Untimely death was a commonplace. The causes of the death could be poor nutrition, harsh climate, lack of hygiene, lack of medical facilities and improper diet.

There is a general saying among the Tibetan Buddhists that having taken the Life Entrustment Empowerment of Shugden, you are left with no choice but to practice it compulsorily everyday in your lifetime. Failing to comply with it would result in severe punishment. Wow! Divine Wrath in Buddhism! This sounds very similar to the Christian concept of making “pact with the devil” in which, you ask his favour of wealth, fame and power, and in return, you are obliged to sell your soul to him.

Kyabje Pabongka was mainly responsible for the revival and spread of Shugden practice. The 13th Dalai Lama admonished him for the spread of Shugden practice even in the Drepung monastery, which had no connection whatsoever with the spirit until then. Consequently, Pabongka promised the Dalai Lama through a letter that he would abandon it immediately and never perform it in the future. Shortly after the death of H. H the 13th Dalai Lama, not only did he renew his Shugden practice but also spread it far and wide in Tibet. He brazenly broke his solemn promise. Now it could be a sheer coincidence that, he did it at the time when the whole world was passing through one of the darkest periods in human history. The world was in turmoil – the Sino-Japanese war was in full swing, the dark cloud of the Second World War was looming in Europe. Communism was expanding rapidly like wild fire towards many Eastern countries. Religious persecution was rampant in the Communist countries.

In Mongolia, during the great purge of 1937, more than 18,000 monks were either shot through the head or burnt alive. Buddhism was facing a real danger of a total extinction in that country. A famous Mongolian Buddhist teacher, Lobsang Tayang, was one of the victims. I even heard that he was burnt alive during the religious persecution in Mongolia, but I cannot confirm it. During the teachings of H.H. the Dalai Lama at the temple in Dharamsala, 1983, a booklet “A Precious Crystal Rosary” was distributed freely to all the people who attended the teaching. It deals with one hundred and eight verses in praise of great compassion. The famous Mongolian Geshe Lobsang Tayang composed this beautiful poem. H.H. the Dalai Lama, at that time, advised us to read it over and over again till it wears out. Sadly the life of this great master, who happened to be a Shugden practitioner, met with a tragic end.


In Highest Yoga Tantra, the role of a dharma protector is to help the practitioner on his or her spiritual adventure to Buddhahood. The practitioner encounters innumerable obstacles in his spiritual career, especially at the beginning, when his mind is wild and undisciplined. In the Guru Yoga Assembly Tree, the position of a Dharma protector is placed down on the 6th row. The practitioner who reaches a high level of inner realisation, with the strong and stable divine pride of the meditational deity, is in a commanding position to entrust his Dharma protector to obey his order. The relationship between the practitioner and the dharma protector is comparable to a powerful king and his chief minister. The minister is ready to listen and obey the orders given by his powerful king. In a similar way, a highly realized tantric practitioner commands his protector and entrusts him with the work of eliminating all the obstacles coming in his path to Buddhahood.

Now, let me take into consideration the possibility of this relationship working the other way round. Suppose the practitioner is spiritually weak and lacks high spiritual experience. Naturally, his position becomes vulnerable. Under such circumstances, he could easily fall prey to his worldly dharma protector. It is comparable to a weak king who obeys to every single word of his powerful minister. Most of the Shugden worshippers belong to the second category.

In my opinion, dharma protectors work effectively only on a personal level. A tantric practitioner who develops a firm divine pride of his meditational deity could command his protector to eliminate the obstacles on his way to Buddhahood. Granting the protector any big responsibility that he cannot cope with is doomed to failure. Since my school days I have loved History. I realized at that time that the most famous Buddhist universities like Nalanda and Vikramashila were ransacked and plundered by the foreign invaders led by Bakhtair Khilji and his army around 1193 to 1205 AD. All the monks were beheaded and many burnt alive. All the sacred books were burnt and the pall of smoke hung in the sky for many days. Sadly, no dharma protector saved the most famous Centres of learning of the world from the brutal onslaught of the Muslim invaders. Nowadays, we can only see Nalanda´s ruins. There is no trace of Vikramashila left. If the story is true, then the dharma protector of Nalanda, Raven-faced protector, was so frightened with the raid that he ran away from the place. But, it sounds more like a buzz or the words on the street. I saw the ruins of Nalanda for the first time on a silver screen of Bollywood when I was 13 years old in 1972.

Lama Tsongkhapa painstakingly established Gaden Monastery in 1409 in the hope of perpetuating Buddhism. It is generally accepted that he entrusted the three dharma protectors Kalarupa, Vaisravana and six-armed Mahakala to help true dharma practitioners of the three scopes of Lamrim on their spiritual journey to Buddhahood. In fact, they are the protectors of true Gelugpa practitioners rather than the tradition itself. Shugden claims that he is the undisputed dharma protector of Gelukpa Tradition of our time. What was his reaction when the Red Guard Army undertook the systematic destruction of Gaden monastery during the Cultural Revolution? Even the most precious relic, the preserved body of Lama Tsonkhapa, was not spared and was burnt. Luckily, Bomi Rinpoche, one of the monks, managed to save the skull and some ashes from the fire. Shugden’s boastful claim flies in the face of historical evidence. In fact, he stood helpless in the face of such a mournful event - the worst humiliation he faced. He failed miserably to save the three most important monasteries of Gelukpa tradition which he was supposed to protect. Therefore, it is foolhardy to consider him as the most important dharma protector of the Gelukpa tradition. However, in the NKT he still enjoys the title the most important protector of Gelukpa tradition! Shugden claims he has a direct access to Lama Tsongkhapa. Now he says he comes from the pure land of Lama Tsongkhapa. Really? Did he report the total destruction of the three centres of learning of the Gelukpa School to Lama Tsongkhapa? Did he explain to him his own failure to protect them and especially, Gaden Monastery?

I think the main cause of our failure lies in our basic emotional set-up. Often, when we find ourselves in a situation where we have no answer to solve our problem, we become desperate and insist on finding some solution from non-human sources like worldly spirits, but when these become desperate, they tell lies.


Gen. Lobsang Gyatso, my teacher, was an outspoken critic. His critical writing on Trijang´s overemphasis on Shugden´s role in Gelukpa School provoked condemnation. In mid 70s, he infuriated many people, mainly the Tibetan government officials in exile and the monks from Sera, Gaden and Depung. To my teacher, Trijang´s behaviour was unacceptable. It was the most difficult period for him, but he stood the ground. Indeed, He was a monk with steel nerves, who could rise to the occasion when the odds were against him. Fortunately, he received H H. the Dalai Lama´s support. My teacher believed strongly that Dorjee Shugden was an evil spirit. In November 1991, I met him for the first time after my four years in Spain. In the course of our conversation, I told him openly and straightforwardly that I got an impression that Shugden was not a non-sectarian dharma protector of Gelukpa school after having listened to the tape recorded teaching by an oracle who channelled peaceful Shugden. My teacher responded me saying, "He is cunning and manipulative. Long time ago in Tibet, he wanted to impress me using the same tactic of his apparent non-sectarian attitude. He thought that I would fall into the psychological trap he laid, but I did not". My teacher belonged to Drepung Loseling Monastery, which has no connection whatsoever with the spirit. The majority of the monks in Drepung Monastery have always considered Dorjee Shugden a demon, dating back some three hundred years.

In my last meeting with him in 1996, he said and I quote, "Shugden is lying low. In the past, he would often appear in my dream, wearing magnificent clothes and very bright ornaments. Nowadays, he looks sad and miserable. His clothes are dusty and worn out".

One year later, on the 4th Feb. 1997, some Shugden followers murdered him ruthlessly along with two students in his room. However, his sacrifice has not gone in vain. In fact, it has proved to be a turning point in the history of Gelugpa society. Since then many lamas and monks have abandoned the Dogyal practice. He carved a niche for himself in the Tibetan Buddhist history as an undaunted monk who was mainly responsible for the downfall of Dorjee Shugden practice in Tibet, both within and without.

If Gen. Lobsang Gyatso were alive, he would be 87 years old, enjoying the glory of the great contribution he made not only to the Buddhist world, but also to Tibetan society. He would be extremely satisfied with his own students working to make this world a better place.

Links to translated works by the authors mentioned can be found here:

Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen

Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen

Ngulchu Dharmabhadra

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