Smear: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has made mistakes in establishing the manner of his succession

Truth: Geshe Kelsang has shown great skill in establishing the manner of his succession. Since establishing the NKT in the West in 1991, Geshe Kelsang has explored a variety of ways to maintain the lineage and tradition for future generations, knowing that the Tibetan “tulku” or reincarnation system was prone to political abuse and would also never work in the modern world.

He first explored the idea of one elected successor who would succeed him as General Spiritual Director (GSD) of the tradition from his death until his successor's death (the Papal model); he then tried the idea of a committee of four elected elders who would share the responsibility equally for their lifetimes; and then he tried the idea of one successor elected for up to four terms of four years (sixteen in total).

Finally, based on these methods being tried and tested and all found to have drawbacks, he finally came to the decision that none of those models would work in the West.

Therefore, it was concluded that it is best to elect one new GSD every four years, for a fixed term of four years. After four years, they will return to their previous NKT Center as a Resident Teacher.

For most practitioners in the NKT, this is a very comfortable way of proceeding for future generations, as it ensures that each successive GSD will mainly function to manage and maintain this tradition for just a short period of time. Thus, the emphasis of the tradition is on the Dharma that is being taught, not the individual who is acting as the temporary director. Even if Geshe Kelsang himself were in a future rebirth to become GSD, he (or she) would only be able to serve in that capacity for four years, providing he or she fulfills all the necessary requirements (ordained, a National Spiritual Director, etc).

It is thanks to having experienced first-hand the limitations of the other methods of succession that NKT practitioners can appreciate the current system and realize its wisdom.