NKT in Brazil – An Experience

I am sending this letter out to everyone I know, to the NKT, and to every cult watch organization I can find. Please forward this letter to everyone you can in order that this never happens to anyone again.

I was in Brazil working on the ITP temples project as a volunteer from September 5th until the Festival which started October 22nd.

This person standing next to Kelsang Gyatso in the photo* verbally abused the volunteer workers on the ITP Temple Project in Brazil for months. He threatened me on 3 occasions with physical violence. “If you do it like that I will hit you in the head with a hammer and you had better believe that I will do it.” He also described to me how quickly he could kill me. There were NKT members from Australia who were on the building team that were verbally abused. One woman was cornered and abused for an hour. The Brazillian construction workers were cussed at repeatedly. He told myself and another American that if we did not work the way he wanted us to we could pack our bags “and get the fuck out”. This was in the middle of Brazil, in a country where we do not speak the language. He also said this to the whole assembly of workers. People were terrified by this person. It is my understanding that this person, “Khyentse” is named Simon Beer and has a criminal background in Britain, having spent time in Prison there. He is from Manchester, and allegedly was part of a gang there.

I came to the NKT in June of this year.

I will not be going back.

My time in the NKT was very short, but long enough to see that there is a culture of verbal abuse that is accepted by the management hierarchy.

While in Brazil the monk in charge of the building project (picture attached, man to the left of Kelsang Gyatso) on three occasions threatened me with physical violence in order to “break through my self cherishing.” On one occasion he described to me how quickly he could kill me. It is my understanding from others who were on the project that his verbal assaults are typical of his behaviour, they have been ongoing for many years. The morale of the people on the building team when I arrived in Brazil was rock bottom. This person was verbally abusing people seemingly at random. Verbal threats were a daily occurance. “Who is going to get it next?” was the question every day. People were being terrorized by this mans anger and rage.

His managers, when they arrived, Rabchog and Genla Dekyong (The General Spiritual Director of the NKT), both told me that I should take it on the chin… There was no rational discussion of the possibility that his behaviour may be unacceptable.

I have found in my short experience in the NKT that any rational explanation of why one cannot attend puja, or more profoundly do certain types of work in Brazil is often met with the response that “you do not have enough faith” or “you need to do more for your guru” or some other such nonsense.

All of this is a form of abuse behavior, and complete and utter crap. This form of manipulation was manifest in Brazil, very obvious, and chillingly abusive.

The suggestion that I do not have enough faith in Buddha is so profoundly demented that it just makes me shake my head and feel compassion for those who have been polluted by the manipulative mind of control and abuse. It is a gangster mentality of uniformity, control, and manipulation.

That being said I have been so delighted to meet so many new friends from around the world. The teaching for me ultimately is the understanding that I already have all the tools I need in my own mind. I know that I simply need to continue my Zazen practice while following the 16 Bodhissattva precepts which I took many many years ago.

I have a profoundly deep respect for Kelsang Gyatso, it was delightful to meet him in person and hold him warmly in a friendly hug. It was also a blessing to give my Bodhissattva vow in his presence. Such a joy.

I will be around so to speak, not as a member of the NKT, but as a fellow Buddhist following the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. This experience has removed all traces of any faith I had in the practices of the New Kadampa Tradition.

In emptiness there is no tradition.

P.S. This letter is being sent to everyone in my e-mail list with the attached photo, so that anyone who is in the New Kadampa Tradition, is thinking of being involved in the NKT, or is a Buddhist can read this and think twice before practicing in this tradition, or volunteering to help in this tradition. I wish all of my friends in the NKT, with a heart full of love, the best in their spiritual practice. May everyone find the happiness they seek. I have found my happiness, and it is not in the NKT.

*The photo has been removed by the blog owner for the sake of protecting the privacy of the accused person.

50 Responses to NKT in Brazil – An Experience

  1. Steve Cowing says:

    Dear Friends,

    You may have recently read an email or posting from Matt MacCurdy about Kelsang Khyentse, the Building Manager of Manjushri KMC.

    We know Khyentse very well. Khyentse himself has told people that before he met Dharma, he had angry behaviour. He has said that since he met Dharma and became a member of the NKT community, he has pacified his previous anger problem and has found a peaceful and meaningful life.

    Khyentse helped to build the Temple at KMC New York for many years. There were no problems and people were happy with him. Then he worked on the building projects at KMC France, KMC Germany and KMC Spain for several years – again there weren’t any problems and people were happy with him. Normally as the Building Manager here at Manjushri KMC, Khyentse works with groups of people and again everyone is happy with him. So we understand that Khyentse is telling the truth when he says that through meeting Dharma, he has pacified his previous anger problem.

    Unfortunately this year in Brazil, two things happened – Khyentse had very heavy responsibility for the Temple building project with tight completion deadlines and also some people caused him to become angry. Because of this, his previous angry behaviour returned. We are very sorry that this happened.

    As NKT Managers we are now asking Khyentse to please maintain a peaceful mind, and we are also trying to prevent other people from causing his anger to return. In this way we believe that such problems can be avoided in the future.

    I hope this information is helpful to you,

    Warm regards,

    Steve Cowing
    NKT – IKBU General Secretary on behalf of NKT-IKBU

    • k-la says:

      It saddens me to say that in the decade and a half i have been involved with the NKT.

      The person in question has always been known as an abusive, over bearing individual. That has continually relied upon the methods of intimidation (physical or mental)and “spiritual” black mail to get his own way or enforce his own flawed approach towards spiritual matters.

      One of the reasons he was removed from his post as a resident teacher some years ago and placed into other less destructive positions of management.

      however his latest antics IMO are merely the culmination of a systematic reluctance to confront any such behaviour anywhere within the structure of our organisation.

      personally i’m never quite sure which aspect i find less agreeable.

    • Harry says:

      “Khyentse had very heavy responsibility for the Temple Building Project with tight completion deadlines and also some people caused him to become angry.”


      The above sounds more like an excuse than a reason for his behaviour.

      There are many people out there who hold jobs / positions that bring pressure, and I’m no exception. I’m also capable of getting angry at people due to pressure, but at no point do I threaten to kill anyone, hit them over the head with a hammer or verbally bully them because of “very heavy responsibility” or “tight completion deadlines”.

      You say that other people caused him to be angry? When I’ve studied with the NKT, I’ve been told that if someone makes me angry, it’s my self-cherishing mind that’s at fault. Does this not apply to Khyentse? Is it OK for him to be angry because other people caused him to react in that way? Please explain.

      Personally I’ve only met Khyentse once (back in December 2000) and only briefly. At that time he seemed a pleasant enough person and I for one would like to believe what happened in Brazil was a one off. But, if the NKT knew that Kyhentse’s responsibilities were heavier than usual, was he given the correct assistance to do his job? If not, why not?

      However, if what some people have said in response to Matthew McCurdy and yourself is true, in that Khyentse is frequently abusive, should the NKT ask him to leave the tradition?


    • charlotte says:

      Dear Mr Cowing, I am a very old and good friend of Khyentse (simon) and have been trying to get hold of him for many years… we lost touch… is there anyway I can get hold of him through yourself? .. or you can pass a message onto him on my behalf? is there a way I can talk to you in private rather than on here. I miss him and he is a very good soul and a long time friend that I would really like to talk to. Its charlotte. he’ll know. thanks

  2. Dear Steve,
    this sounds like a honest reply and excuse to me. Something new in the world of NKT, something I really appreciate. It makes the events understandable.

    I hope you don’t mind that I use this opportunity to remind you, that ex-NKT continuously pointed out that persons have to work too hard for the NKT and have to neglect their inner growth for the sake of NKT’s material growth. As long as this is not corrected it will happen again and again that NKT ordained persons will show patterns of angry and abusive behaviour—no matter how hard they try to do their best to work on themselves. Inner development needs space and not rushy and pushy business.

    There is an imbalance within the NKT between the need for space for internal growth and development in the Dharma and NKT’s needs for material expansion. As long as this imbalance imposed by the NKT leadership onto their devotees is not corrected people will complain in this way also in the future.

    So I hope and would like to encourage you to take that outbreak not too much as a personal failing of Khyentse but as a failing of NKT’s leadership. Personally I feel NKT leadership is burning their devotees like wood, and I would not hesitate to use the word exploitation for what is demanded from devoted followers.

    However, I deeply appreciate that at least this time NKT has restrained to attack the criticizing person, Matt, and accepts the critic and do apologize.

    Well done,
    thank you.

    (I hope too that Khyentse is treated with love and compassion and that no ‘Dharma bombs’ like ‘you have harmed millions of millions of sentient beings’ are now thrown onto him.)

    Warm regards,
    A NKT Survivor.

  3. “some people caused him to become angry. Because of this, his previous angry behaviour returned”

    I am going to respond to this in a public forum to make some points very clear.

    1. I was not the cause of this condition in his life, nor was I in Brazil. He was verbally abusing people before I arrived on the jobsite.

    2. The characterization that everyone was happy on the previous jobs is a falsehood. I have spoken with multiple people from a previous job who do not share this view.

    3. I have spoken with multiple people in the NKT organization who have asked to not work with the man, despite these requests the organization continues to put him in a management position.

    4. The man threatened me with a verbal assault which is far beyond anything I received in the US ARMY Basic Training. Nobody in my life has ever threatened to kill me, let alone on three occasions, until this man did.

    5. I do not have a criminal background, have never been charged with a violent crime, have never been in prision. I clear a full background check and work at a local college campus.

    6. I have never killed anyone, threaten to kill anyone, or caused major bodily harm to someone. All I know about Khyentse (Simon B.) is that he has been in prison, for what crime I do not know.

    7. If anyone is reading this thinking of leaving the NKT I can assure you that the Blessings of Buddha do not stop when you leave the NKT, and stop the practices and rituals they teach you. Do not be afraid to walk away from the tradition. It is not, as I have heard some in the NKT say, “Spiritual Suicide.”

    8. My name is Matthew McCurdy

    • Thank you Matthew for your clarification.
      What we are so familiar with seems to be the case also here: the NKT are the masters of spins.
      Maybe nowadays NKT are even more skilfully than in the past to put a spin on the facts? Or am I too naive to assert a positive change?

      (I removed the full name of the person. Obviously for NKT it is properly fine to have mentally sick or unstable persons as Resident Teachers and Managers. Even a resident teacher who asked for permission to step down because he is mentally sick and felt unable to fulfil his job was said he should continue ‘because this will help millions of millions of sentient beings.’ The faults lie mainly in the NKT leadership. I think you just met an event which traces go back to the leadership. Who knows, maybe NKT told Khyentse by building their temples he could purify all his negative Karma and he should have ‘faith’…)

  4. Matthew McCurdy says:

    The Buddha taught us to use our discriminating wisdom, and not to rely upon lineages and teachings alone. The doctrine of the NKT is to follow them without question.

    Choose for yourself. Reality is the man threatened me and has threatened many others for years and the NKT hides this. Tell all of your Buddhist friends.

    Kalama Sutra
    Do not believe in anything (simply)
    because you have heard it.
    Do not believe in traditions because they
    have been handed down for many generations
    Do not believe in anything because it is
    spoken and rumored by many.
    Do not believe in anything (simply) because
    it is found written in your religious books.
    Do not believe in anything merely on the authority
    of your teachers and elders.
    But after observation and analysis,
    when you find anything that agrees with reason
    and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all
    then accept it and live up to it.

    Anguttara Nikaya

  5. Brian Ananda says:

    I used to frequent NKT centers…and yes, I have witnessed this type of behavior.

    Ironically, I must thank them. Although they spoke of what a “lesser” teaching the Theravada was (they refer to it as Hinayana), I ended up frequenting just such a place to see if that was a lie, too.

    Sure enough, I found a home…and met a few real meditation masters. And get this…they refuse to even set a “suggested donation” rate. They refuse money most of the time…

    To make a long story short…I learned what Buddhism is *not* from NKT. I was so repelled that I backed straight into the lap of a wonderful tradition that spreads authentic teachings, never threatens you, never talks badly of other traditions, and focuses on bring out the best in you…not the worst.

    I do believe the NKT had good intentions when the began. However, they have devolved into something very ugly & dangerous. If you are looking for something better, try the Bhavana Society (bhavanasociety.com).

    Even if you don’t adopt the tradition, they will set you on the right track.

  6. Robert Thomas says:

    Hi Matt

    I am sorry to read about your experience and this behaviour.

    Did you make any reply on the newkadampatruthblog? I don’t see your response there which seems surprising. Any reason why not?

    I wish you the very best


  7. Robert Thomas says:

    Just FYI there is an excellent discussion of NKT reaction and way of solving sad situations such as this now and in the future.



  8. Matt says:

    I honestly dont give a rats ass about what the NKT may or may not do to fix their problem with their management structure allowing the verbal abuse (assault) of people.

    At the end of the festival I got word that all of the workers were to assemble so we could discuss what happened and talk about how changes could be made. I was told Genla Dekyon would be there. It was bullshit. All of the workers got together and were lectured by a monk. (Toglen? Guy is going to Argentina)He told us that “now is not the time to complain because Geshela is here…” and on and on. It was a complete insult to all of us, he was telling us to be quiet, belittling us, telling us to not complain, to keep quiet.

    I worked as a professional in the homebuilding industry. I have never been treated with such callousness.

    I am gone, and am not going back. What happened already occurred. I am picking up the pieces and moving on.

  9. T says:

    I am sorry you had this experience. Karma is not one sided. You say you are a Buddhist but you don’t appear to have looked at your own mind and seen that the causes for experiencing all of this came from your previous negative actions. Both parties had the karma for this to ripen. There are no innocent parties. All is mere appearance based on karma ripening.

    Your angry mind is very present even now – reading your post and your replies to comments. Accept your karma, purify … we are all in training. Your karmic potentials crashed with others too. Pray that all living beings are free from negativity and the effects.

    • I would like to intervene to say that this is not necessarily true. Kamma is not a cause in & of iteself, but an inclination for causes.

      If what you say is true, once a person had made it over “the hump” of purifying bad karma, one would never experience suffering again.

      Good acts, in & of themselves do not lead one to liberation. I believe this was made clear in the Brahamajala Sutra. Of ocurse, one would not know this is they simply read books by an “all knowing” guru instead of read the word of Lord Buddha directly.

      Going to, or remaining in, the NKT is “spiritual suicide”. My karma improved the moment I left them and found true Buddhists that not only spoke about metta & compassion, but embodied it, as well.

      As the Lord Buddha said to Ananda: “Spiritual Friendship is the whole of the holy life.”

      And in the Anguttara Nikaya (10:61), is your reason to avoid the NKT: Lord Buddha spoke,

      “…and what is the nutriment for not hearing the true Dhamma? Associating with people who are not truly good…”

      But don’t take my word for it…just visit you local NKT center. You’ll see enough to know the truth, I think. Immeditaely you’ll notice they’re not spreading Dhamma, but SELLING Dhamma. I dare you to try to walk past the door man (aka entry fee collector, as if you were attending a night club) without paying.

      May you escape the thicket of lies & deceit at NKT as soon as possible, & finally begin your path to liberation.

    • Shaun says:

      Good heavens, so what you saying is he should of sat back and be insulted,humiliated, oh and turned into a slave or be potentially bludgeoned over the head with a hammer, a good little Buddhist? all to purify his negative karma, isn’t he a lucky bunny, I’ll stick with Vajrasattva a few prostrations, an you know a good heart an compassion But each to his own, if you want to be insulted turned into a slave and hit with hammers, I’m sure you could find a S and M club cheaper than an NKT center an you may developed some wisdom. Ps I’m NOT JOKING,

    • What I don’t like are the tactics and approach of some NKT followers. First one is massively attacked by a strange NKT manager, than this is played down by the NKT management at the spot, then the head of the office shows here to spin the facts, and finally a NKT follower throws “Dharma bombs” attacking to victim. It was far more nice to see Robert Thomas’ approach here, though indeed this was harshly refused by Matt. But a compassionate person should feel the harm done. A person told me that he observed that in Thailand when a person gets angry a Dharma person would understand the anger of the person comes because he was harmed and is hurt, then he or she would ask in a compassionate manner: oh what has been done to you that you are so hurt? This would be an expression of compassion for me, while the lecture above sounds like having thrown an angry “Dharma bomb” to make the other party either silent or to make him feeling guilt.

      It is also mere hypocrisy that NKT person teach such things they do not practice themselves…

  10. Luno says:

    T, maybe you teach this profound understanding to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, your guru, and the NKT that they should understand that

    “Karma is not one sided. They say they are Buddhists but they don’t appear to have looked at their own minds and seen that the causes for experiencing all of the criticism they receive came from their previous negative actions. Both parties had the karma for this to ripen. There are no innocent parties.* All is mere appearance based on karma ripening.

    Their angry minds are very present even now – reading their websites and blogs and your reply to comments of a person who was mistreated by the NKT. Accept your karma, purify … we are all in training. Your and NKT people’s karmic potentials crashed with others too. Pray that all living beings are free from negativity and the effects.”

    *It is NKT who claim to be innocent and that others are guilty of mistreating them. Maybe you teach the NKT for a while that “There are no innocent parties.” NKT seem not to be aware of this. It might help 😉

  11. Shaun says:

    Oh forgive my bad grammar, I was too busy laughing my head off, at T’s post. Unbelievable!!!

  12. Matt says:

    T is another NKT zombie. The buzz words are all there. It is pure NKT teaching in a nutshell. Hope it works out for you T, you are a good disciple.

    The dominant paradigm in the NKT is that everything is Just Fine, dont complain, obey your manager regardless of the idiotic nature of the request.

    If you quit a job because the management structure is oppressive, you were verbally abused, do you go back to the place of employment to tell them how they could do better? That certainly be out of the ordinary and strange, would it not?

    My post may seem angry to you T, I would describe it as vitriolic, since I know my mind and it is my mind which has typed all of this.

    My view of the NKT at this point is one of pure cynicism. They are marketing Buddhism, selling empowerments. I think the best way for my mind (there it is again) to describe the NKT… Scientology mated with the Hare Krishnas. There is the slick internet presentation and book publishing (Scientology) and there are the dewy eyed disciples in robes with the puppy dog face parroting what “Geshela said…”

  13. Matthew McCurdy says:

    Healing. I would like to share a response I gave to a fellow on the NKT Survivors Yahoo group regarding his question “Is Buddhism Dead for You”

    I understand what you are talking about. The richness of my initial experience in Buddhism, in Berkeley California, during a time of personal and spiritual growth was an incredible experience, fireworks which lasted for a couple of years, then waned as I found myself drifting back into the muck of daily existence. For me the chance to meet other Buddhists and chant with them (at the Nyingma institute) was like a revelation. There are other Buddhists? other than my Father? WOW… Combine that sense of wonder, a backpack, a thumb, and hitchhiking and it makes for a wonderfull year of travelling, camping in the Redwood Forest, living in treesits for the sake of other sentient beings… The
    wonder I had when I first encountered Buddhism wore off when I found myself unemployed and destitute in Portland Oregon. Back to the grind of working…
    That was 1998, when I found myself poor and undernourished, visiting various Buddhist meditation places, a couple of years after hitting the road. I tried Zen, took the Precepts and Bodhisattva Vow. I tried Kagyu, Took Refuge Vows. I tried Shambala. I had the opportunity to take the Green Tara Empowerment from Sakya Jetsun Chimey Luding Rinpoche…. I did not find a ‘place’ in Sangha. I
    was alone.

    I lived my life for over a decade, moved around the country, for the Military,for work, and found myself buying a home in Arlington Texas, now since
    Foreclosed. Looking at my life, thinking about the cycles, practicing Green Tara from time to time, I found myself ready to look to Sangha again… The
    closest Buddhist Temple to where I live is an NKT Center…I had heard of them before, through an ex girlfriend. Had even been to the NKT house in Portland Oregon in 2001… Hmm, should check this out… My initial experience at the Temple was wonderful, very kind people, even monks and nuns! IN TEXAS! I spoke to them about my wish to be ordained, that I have found my life to be a cycle of suffering, that I see Buddhas teachings in my life… Within 6 months I had joined the Survivors group here on Yahoo, having been threatened with violence on 3 occasions, the first 3 times in my life that I had someone threaten to kill me, and it was a monk and everyone in the NKT knows about him and nobody would do anything about it. Everyone is terrified of him…

    So I knew at that point exactly what I had to do, and I did it. For the sake of all sentient beings, including those in the NKT this ‘monk’ must be exposed to the world, the police, and I am not stopping and I am not apologizing and I am
    not backing down.

    Now I am exhausted. I feel spent, used up. I dont practice anything other than getting up and going to work every day. Planning a backpacking trip for
    September… My interest in Buddhism at this point is limited to exposing the NKT, and hoping my friends still in the NKT are well. I got rid of every
    vestige of Buddhism (especially the NKT) from my life, have no practice…

    Oh, but wait, there is that book I picked up from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the book the Monk in the NKT would not read because it was not written
    by Kelsang Gyatso. The Vow of the Earth Store Bodhisattva Ksitigharba… The great vow, the endless vow, and I remember that essence of my Buddhism does not lie in anything other than the indestructible nature of my vow that I gave, my
    Bodhisattva Vow. The NKT can never take that away, The psychotic monk did not take it away, I dont need any empowerments, and I dont need to practice any kind of esoteric yoga tantra, I dont need a shrine, or an image of Buddha.

    I just need to be me. I just need to know my mind. Knowing our own minds is what is important, and it is what Buddha Shakyamuni taught us by telling all of
    us to just meditate. Just breath in and out and be in our bodies, because that is where we are right now. All of the other crap was piled on top later on.

    This was my response, and my breath of fresh air having experienced the healing process of leaving the NKT, and finding my refuge in Buddha’s teachings away from the dogma and Dorje Shugden crap.

    Beware of the NKT, anyone reading this, they will teach you False Dharma, and claim that it is the only “pure lineage”. Think of the other events in History where someone espoused “purity”…

    • Seeker says:

      “That was 1998, when I found myself poor and undernourished, visiting various Buddhist meditation places, a couple of years after hitting the road. I tried Zen, took the Precepts and Bodhisattva Vow. I tried Kagyu, Took Refuge Vows. I tried Shambala. I had the opportunity to take the Green Tara Empowerment from Sakya Jetsun Chimey Luding Rinpoche…. I did not find a ‘place’ in Sangha. I was alone.”

      That is an important bit of information. Regardless of tradition you follow or consider “right” (with all these traditions, and, particularly, institutionalised traditions – some of them start making claims to absolute truth, pushing others aside), the essence of road to liberation remains the same.

      It does not depend on any single person or tradition, or colour of the robe/hat.

      It’s within the seeker. The robes and hats are a mere scaffolding. The building is the seekers mind.

  14. Matthew McCurdy says:

    For anyone reading this I want to share an experience I had many years before encountering the NKT… It is from a discussion on death in the NKT Survivors Yahoo Group… Where we talk about Dharma, not Dogma…

    The most profoundly beautiful events in my life, the most spiritual, surround my closest brush with death.

    In the 1990s I was an on again off again forest activist on the west coast of California and Oregon. While trying to stop the logging of an ancient forest next to a stream where endangered salmon still spawned I and other forest activists played ‘cat and mouse’ with the loggers in the woods. After spending hours attempting to stand in the way of the falling trees, and realizing that
    they would not stop cutting the trees the Forest Service announced a “Closure Area”, stopped the loggers, and with bullhorns told all of us to leave the area or we would be arrested. Not trusting the Forest Service Law Enforcement we decided to hike out of the area instead of walking down to the road. We had on light clothing and many miles of hiking through rough terrain to leave the area. After a few hours of hiking we reached the point where we were to meet our friends in a vehicle, and found our way blocked by Forest Service Law
    enforcement vehicles on the road. As we decided what to do it started to rain. We retreated back down the logging roads and found an area where trees had blown down. Under a blown down tree we built a shelter of bows, and crawled inside. The rain turned to sleet, then snow. As I sat there wet and cold and tired I told my campadres that I was starting to feel the first stages of hypothermia,
    and if we were to survive the night we could not fall asleep. The six of us huddled together. I had a candle and lit it, not so much for the warmth but for the light. I sat there losing feeling in my legs and arms. As I nodded in and out of consciousness I kept my mind focused on the dripping water off the log in front of me, and the fire of the candle. Late in the night, as we lay suffering, I nodded out and felt myself moving rapidly through a gray ‘tunnel’, I suddenly arrived in a warm and beautiful place. There were ferns, several trees around me, shafts of light, and a giant tree which was partially burned in front of me. I then entered the tree, into a gray formless void. I awoke to the candle, put my finger in it, and could not feel the candle burning my finger. The next morning the sun broke and we found that it had snowed several
    inches. We walked out of there and survived.

    3 years later I was living in Berkeley California, and decided it was time to try Buddhism again. I attended some chanting sessions at the Nyingma
    institute, but thought to myself “the Buddha was not enlightened indoors…” so found places to go in the Berkeley hills, in the forest, to chant and meditate. I was doing so in a small grove of Redwood trees and had a profound and expansive experience chanting the Avalokiteshvara mantra. When I returned home that evening to the converted warehouse I was living in my room mate told me
    that an activist had been killed. He was a young man named David Chain, and had been killed by a falling tree in the Redwood forest of Northern California. The next day I quit my job and hitchhiked to Arcata California. I helped others to
    physically blockade the logging road to the site of his death so that no logging could be done to alter the area where he died. In doing so we helped to allow an independent investigation of his death to occur. While there, after the investigation occurred, I walked to the area where he had been killed. Above the site there was a few redwood trees left. As I walked into the presence of these ancient beings my memories of the vision I had while hypothermic years before became real and I was in the place of ferns, shafts of light, ancient trees, and the understanding that I am but a small drop in the ocean of being that we are all a part of. I helped others set up a tree sit in this tree, which others named Tara in recognition of the fact that if David Chain had not died these trees would have been cut down the day of his death.

    I lived there for a few months, in the Tara tree, and eventually moved on. All things are impermanent. Tara and another ancient tree on that hillside were cut down later.

    For me it was a lesson in faith, and the understanding that I am but a drop of water in an ocean of being. I feel fortunate to be this drop of water with a consciousness, am thankful for it, but understand that eventually the rain will fall to the ground, flow to the river, and become one with the ocean again. As I will when I die.

  15. Dear Matthew,
    Thank you for posting your experiences with the NKT.
    I had a similar experience to you although I wasn’t so sensible. After some time of being at the end of violent verbal abuse from a teacher, I ended up washed out and a bit of a mess. What I realised from this experience was that I had been trying so hard to please this person mostly out of attachment to them and the NKT. The difficulty I had, was due to the delusions within my own mind. It was my own mind that made me a victim. It wasn’t clear at the time. I thought I was practising patience, but now I realise I was practising continuing my delusions and my suffering. (And others.)
    You were brave to stand up for what you believe and not to get caught up in nonsense activity out of delusion of attachment of wanting to please for the sake of being liked.
    As for the NKT – I am still deeply and sincerely appreciative for everything they do for me – for all the appearances, good and bad. Its a journey and one that I frequently want to run away from, but I know deep in my heart that I am extremely fortunate to have met Geshe-kelsang Gyatso and the community of dear sangha.

  16. Matthew McCurdy says:

    It has come to my attention that Kelsang Khyentse has excused his actions in Brazil towards me by stating he had to treat me in that manner because I had been in the Army so he made out that I have violent tendencies. He would have known I had been in the Army because it is on my resume. To set the record straight… I was in the Army for 6 months and 8 days, was medically discharged due to injuries. I was injured by the Army, I never harmed anyone else. On the contrary while I was in the Army I worked in the shot clinic helping to vaccinate the incoming recruits against Polio, Flu, Measels, Mumps, Rubella, Tetanus, etc. I helped to vaccinate hundreds of people, possibly a thousand. How is this in any way violent?

  17. j says:

    seems like a just another implementation of standard TTP teaching methods. JPGF Pg 57-98 [j/k]

    “getting your dharma point across to those that have served in the forces”

    nice of simon to share his psychoanalytical skills with us all (again).

    • Matthew McCurdy says:

      Thank you, the double speak from teachers in the NKT that I spoke with regarding my experience was ridiculous. I was told that it was “purification” to be treated that way. I was also told that the behavior is not typical, basically excusing it as an isolated event. Learning what I did about the person from others in the NKT I saw that these excuses were hollow. The verbally abusive behavior is common from this person, as the time draws near for Kelsang Gyatso to arrive on site he lessens his abusive behavior. He told me that when Kelsang Gyatso arrives everyone would be blissed out. In my opinion everyone was blissed out because Khyentse had stopped verbally abusing and manipulating people. I saw it as a manipulative tactic on his part. Thank you for confirming that the NKT does have teachings on “those that have served in the forces”. They have absolutely no right whatsoever to judge people.

  18. Carol says:

    Beautiful account of your forest experience Matt, thank you! xCarol

    • Matthew McCurdy says:

      Thanks Carol.

      By the way, anyone reading this who experienced the systemic abuse and manipulation in the NKT, or was personally threatened or abused by anyone in the NKT I urge you to write your story to INFORM.


      It will remain confidential. But not in my case, since the NKT published my name on the internet before I did here. Typical bully behavior which they have used in the past to try and silence any discussion of the NKT not being perfect, and to sweep allegations of abuse under the rug. I use the word systemic in all seriousness. The behavior of abuse which is not put in check by the NKT is acceptance of said abuse by the NKT.

      Cheers NKT, I enjoyed the dance but will not be asking for another.

  19. Matthew McCurdy says:

    I have read of the NKT threatening lawsuits and libel suits against people. In at least one case I know of against an author of a book who became so afraid of the legal costs which could be incurred they dropped the publishing of the book. These suits are called SLAPP suits and they are more easily brought in British court than here in the United States. If the NKT does choose to sue me, they will have a rough road with it. Having been an activist I understand how to get a story into the media. Any lawsuit filed against me and I will go straight to the internet, news media, print media. The blog is just a small thing. I doubt the NKT would choose to sue me. But if they do I will raise a legion against them.

    • Matthew McCurdy says:

      Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation are more easily filed in British courts. They are often brought not to win, but to just incumber the person in legal costs. Here in the United States they are more easily defended when the conduct falls within the rights to petition or free speech. Come to think of it, has anyone who has been libeled by the NKT in Britain thought about filing a SLAPP suit against them?

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  22. Crispi says:

    I know Khyentse, he fine.
    Oh and i’m a copper by the way 😉

  23. mick says:

    matt, try turning the other cheek and whats that in your eye?

  24. who am I? says:

    I’ve been to nkt in …….and volunteered my time at the center in……. NKT is zombieland. The monks and nuns are confused, deceitful, full of themselves and full of shit. I feel bad for them. A truly confused lot indeed. My last night there I had a vivid dream of Buddha looking down upon us and laughing so hard he began to cry. It felt wonderful leaving.

  25. Marty says:

    Can you not be a Buddhist without belonging to a particular group?

  26. Andrew Donohoe Paisley says:

    Hi Matthew I left the NKT about 2 and a half years ago after being with them for about 7 years. I have also experienced very negative behaviour and attitudes from so called monks and nuns. I tried to hang on but there was an enormous amount of stuff i couldnt stomach. Im aware that I had a disagreement with you on facebook about a certain letter sent to the centres. I later found out that everything you had said was correct as i read the letter myself. Since leaving I have eventually found my feet, got a proper paid job and returned to MY spiritual practice with the enthusiasm that initially got me interested in meditation and finding inner peace. I am not against NKT but im certainly NOT for them either. I too have met some incredible people through NKT and sadly ive met some very unpleasant and unstable NKT “monks” and “nuns” too. I respect Geshe Kelsang but got rid of all NKT books, CDs etc..He is NOT my Guru…..Buddha within is..i am not afraid of negative karma for leaving. I am thankful to have found my love and joy in Father Buddha and Spirituality again..many paths…but all just pointers to what is pure and eternal…i will NEVER become part of any religious group ever again…Im glad for the experience..I learned so much but not from any book. I apologize for being in denial about that letter and i wish u well. much Metta 🙂

  27. Madeline says:

    This is a bunch of lies

  28. Matt McCurdy says:

    To follow up on this post I made back in 2010 about the verbal abuse endured by so many on the building project. In 2012 I returned to Brazil to stay with some friends in Sao Paulo, and took a visit to the NKT Temple. It was nice to see friends who had worked on the project, and who had also endured the verbal abuse. It was closure for me, the NKT is in the past now.

  29. Shugden says:

    Now khyentse is turning into dharma protector dorje shugden. Be careful out there…

    • Matt M says:

      Khyentse, Shugden, and the NKT can kiss my ass.

    • Matt M says:

      So “Shugden”, is this some kind of veiled threat? Am I to not exercise my freedom of speech because Khyentse is turning into a mythical being?

      More likely the meditations the NKT expound which a person imputes their I as something other than who they are, is causing him to have psychological issues to the point where he believes he has become some kind of mythical being.

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