Smear: NKT practices the personality cult of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Truth: It is interesting how no one ever accuses the Dalai Lama’s followers of being involved in a personality cult, even though he receives far more veneration and adulation than Geshe Kelsang and does nothing to stop it. In fact, it could be argued that he has spent the last twenty years exploiting it.
In one of the latest movies about him, The Unwinking Gaze, the Dalai Lama says that many Tibetans will die when he does, and some will even commit suicide. It would be unthinkable for Geshe Kelsang to talk like this.
Robert Thurman’s latest book on the Dalai Lama, Why the Dalai Lama Matters, is an extraordinary example of the idolatry that the Dalai Lama inspires, including a picture of him as 1000-Armed Avalokiteshvara.
On the other hand, Geshe Kelsang has never promoted himself as a personality -- he is very humble and self-deprecating, attributing all the success of the NKT to his Spiritual Guide Trijang Rinpoche and the blessings of Je Tsongkhapa. He rarely mentions himself at all.
For example, in a teaching before a Je Tsongkhapa empowerment in 1995 Geshe Kelsang said:
“We can think, how is it possible that a foolish man like myself can write fifteen Dharma books? These are very different from other books. The NKT Dharma books that we are using as our subject of study and practice are not just a collection of lectures. They are complete with root text, commentary and outlines, made perfectly like Dharma scripture. How can a foolish man write these books? I can say that because Je Tsongkhapa's teachings are so profound, precious and clear, it gives Geshe Kelsang the opportunity to write these books. All the explanations of NKT Dharma books come from Je Tsongkhapa's teachings. Because these teachings are so special, even a humble practitioner and foolish man like me has the opportunity to present such beautiful books. Through this alone we can understand the pre-eminent qualities of Je Tsongkhapa.”
In the NKT, Buddha Shakyamuni is always referred to as the founder of Buddhism, and is the only ultimate authority.
Also, Geshe Kelsang, who is retiring in August 2009, has put in a system of democratic succession involving an elected new General Spiritual Director (who will be in place for four years before the next person is elected) (See Internal Rules 5§7 and 5§8). The next elected GSD is Gen-la Kelsang Khyenrab.