Information about the New Kadampa Tradition and Kadampa Meditation Centers

September 14, 2008

We thought it would be important for you to know that the teaching or Buddhist Center you are contemplating visiting, or in which you are already involved, is controversial from the much broader Buddhist
perspective, and that you should know the facts and have information from all sides before you make up your mind.

Here are some main points:

  • If you commit to study with the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) at any Centre you will only study the books of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, and only his books will be found in their book stores. The original texts they are based on are also available in many other Buddhist traditions, but unlike most other traditions, the NKT teachers will not encourage you to read them. The rationale the NKT uses for this is that mixing traditions will confuse you.
  • You will be taught to meditate on ‘absorbing the Guru’ (who is manifest in this life as Geshe Kelsang Gyatso) into the depths of your mind and to reinforce this meditation with the protection of Dorje Shugden in the practice of either Heart Jewel (daily) or Wishfulfilling Jewel (daily); also, Offering to the Spiritual Guide (2 times per month), and Kangso, (monthly). These practices are the ‘Essence of Kadampa Buddhism’ as taught by the New Kadampa Tradition. The practice of Dorje Shugden, a deity, is in part, but only in part, at the heart of the controversy.
  • You will notice that there are no pictures of the Dalai Lama at any teaching or in any New Kadampa Tradition center, as they are forbidden. The Dalai Lama has requested, in order to maintain peace and harmony in the communities of all Tibetan Buddhist traditions, that practitioners of Dorje Shugden should not attend his teachings or view him as their Spiritual Guide. He has not banned the practice of Dorje Shugden, and as such, it does not affect anyone in the NKT. The NKT has always emphasized its complete independence from Tibetan society even though the lineage of the teachings is promulgated as Tibetan.
  • The NKT claims that it does not engage in political activities, such as public protest, but it does state that they support the activities of the Western Shugden Society. However, members of the NKT, under the name of the Western Shugden Society (WSS) have organized and paid for frequent and persistent demonstrations all over the world against the Dalai Lama accusing him of not being a Buddhist, of lying and hypocrisy.
  • Under the auspices of the WSS, many of the prominent members of the NKT who have been protesting are Gen Kelsang Khyenrab, Deputy Spiritual Director of the NKT, Gen Kelsang Dekyong, National Spiritual Director of the United States, Kelsang Rabten, National Spiritual Director of NKT Australia, Kelsang Pema (the main public spokesperson) personal assistant to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso for more than 8 years, and the current resident teachers of the world-wide centers of the NKT.
  • In the last two years many high level teachers of the NKT have left under suspicion of sexual misconduct, including Gen Samden Gyatso, the previous long term Deputy spiritual director of the NKT.

So why is the WSS protesting against the Dalai Lama’s advice at a time when Tibetans are being imprisoned, tortured and murdered for trying to preserve their own culture which includes these precious Buddhist teachings?

Is the WSS creating difficulties for the Dalai Lama in the public arena in order to deflect public awareness of internal difficulties in the NKT under the pretense of protecting the practice of Dorje Shugden practitioners?

You can contact INFORM, a research group at the London School of Economics that studies new religious movements for information on the NKT.

For more information you are also welcome to email: