Smears of The New Kadampa Tradition
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Truth: Because the system of ordination in the NKT follows Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings on ordination interpreted by Geshe Potowa (1031-1106), and this contains the essential meaning of all ordination, it is entirely valid.
It is important to understand the essential meaning of ordination before judging whether NKT ordination is valid or not. Just because it is different from the Tibetan tradition doesn't make it invalid.
Truth: NKT monks and nuns are authentic and try to show a good and practical example of service, celibacy and humility for our modern world. Buddha Shakyamuni himself said that the Vinaya should be practiced in accordance with what is most acceptable for society. The NKT is following this advice from Buddha.
NKT monks and nuns practice everything that a fully ordained monk or nun in Buddha's tradition would practice, minus the cultural rules that make benefiting others in the West in these modern times almost impossible. Nowadays, most Western monks and nuns are not living in actual monasteries but are out and about helping living beings.
In response to some NKT monks and nuns joining the Western Shugden Society (WSS) to protest against the Dalai Lama's political ban of the worship of Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden, the Australian Sangha Association (ASA) recently delivered a statement to say that NKT monks and nuns are not authentic. It is strange that they did not issue similar statements about other any other monastic tradition when Buddhist monks protested in Tibet, Burma, Vietnam, Korea or Cambodia! Their statement stems from their allegiance to the Dalai Lama (which is clear from their website) and is more politically than spiritually motivated. In fact, see the video Response to letter from the Australian Sangha Association for more on the subject of the ASA’s letter to the New Kadampa Tradition, showing their demonstrations, and the NKT’s reply, showing the violence of Dalai Lama supporters in 1996 and the present-day.
Continue reading for a direct reply to their statement here, clarifying the spiritual reasons for the authenticity of NKT Buddhist monks and nuns.
Truth: Unlike many religious leaders, even within Tibetan Buddhism, Geshe Kelsang himself has never had any accusations of impropriety leveled against him in terms of his moral behavior and has always lived humbly, in one room at Manjushri Center, working voluntarily, giving his money away, and never abusing his power or authority. Unfortunately, his students have not always been so blameless, though the overwhelming majority of the 700 monks and nuns in the NKT do keep good moral discipline.
Despite a few widely publicized instances of misbehavior, and contrary to what has been posted on various forums, nothing is being covered up. As soon as an instance of misconduct has come to light and there is sufficient evidence, action has always been taken to remove those transgressing their commitments from their responsibilities in accordance with the ordination vow of celibacy and the Internal Rules 7, 8§3, 11§2, 12§3.
Each ordained person has responsibility for their own vows, but the NKT is also trying to help them by tightening up the Internal Rules and putting safeguards in place at Dharma Centers to reduce the possibility of inappropriate behavior occurring in the future.
Truth: The General Spiritual Director (GSD) will not grant ordination to anyone unless they sincerely request to become ordained from their own side and also if they have permission from their parents and so forth. The GSD does not accept for ordination anyone under 18 years of age, and they are encouraged to wait until they are 22 years of age or older. In the NKT there is no pressure to become ordained, as can be seen from the far greater number of NKT practitioners, including senior members, who remain lay.
Truth: This is not true. NKT practitioners are followers of Je Tsongkhapa, who taught that ordained Kadampas must maintain the outer example of the Pratimoksha vows, which includes refraining from all sexual activity. It is clear from all Geshe Kelsang’s Sutra and Tantra commentaries and teachings that sexual activity is not permissible for any ordained person under any circumstances. Anyone who states otherwise is misinformed.
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