Why we have made this site
For over 10 years Kadampa Buddhism in the West in the form of the New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) has been subject to a great number of false allegations. The purpose of this website is to try and respond to these with facts and the truth.
We are trying here to redress the balance. Previously, due to Kadampa students staying passive and not answering these smears, they built up without opposition. Our aim with this site is to restore some neutrality.
What is the New Kadampa Tradition?
Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (AD 982-1054). "Ka" refers to Buddha Shakyamuni's teachings, and "dam" to Atisha's special Lamrim instructions known as "the stages of the path to enlightenment". By integrating their knowledge of all Buddha's teachings into their practice of Lamrim, and by integrating this into their everyday lives, Kadampa Buddhists are encouraged to use Buddha's teachings as practical methods for transforming their daily activities into the path to enlightenment, improving their love, compassion and wisdom.
The Kadampa tradition was later promoted widely in Tibet by Je Tsongkhapa and his followers, who were known as the "New Kadampas". The New Kadampa Tradition ~ International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) is an association of over 1100 Buddhist Centers and groups that derive their inspiration and guidance from the example of the ancient Kadampa Buddhist Masters and their teachings, as presented to the modern world by Ven Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. For more information, see www.kadampa.org.
The aim of the NKT-IKBU is to introduce practical tools that can help people of all backgrounds solve problems and find happiness. As Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the General Spiritual Director, says:
"Our intention in teaching Dharma is not just to spread Buddhism. We are trying to help the people of this world by giving them special methods to solve their daily problems and to achieve the permanent happiness of liberation. In itself, the flourishing of Buddhadharma is not important unless it benefits others. This is the main purpose of Buddhism."
Why does a reputable Buddhist tradition need to defend itself?
The NKT-IKBU has been successful at bringing Buddha's teachings to the West and these teachings have positively affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. As a new development in the West it has had teething problems -- some expected, some not. The NKT-IKBU is trying to learn from its mistakes and is not unwilling to have them pointed out. Our challenges have not been dissimilar to those of other Western Buddhist organizations.
Yet when one of the top five anti-defamation law firms in the world recently investigated both the NKT-IKBU and all the libel on the Internet against it, it came to the conclusion: "The New Kadampa Tradition is a respectable international organization whose reputation has been severely defamed."
This website is needed because, unbelievably, New Kadampa Tradition students and teachers have been accused of being spirit worshippers and cultists, even murderers. They have been accused of destroying the health and lives of others, even of causing the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Britain. They have been heckled and shouted at, barred from other Tibetan Buddhist organizations and online Buddhist forums, spat at, and threatened.
Their venues have been cancelled, their Centers vandalized, their publicity torn down or defaced. Some Tibetan practitioners wear protective ribbons, chant, and make mudras (hand gestures) merely upon encountering a Kadampa. The same negative gossip and insinuation is repeated again and again on the Internet until people come to believe it, largely due to the defamatory work of several individuals engaged in a smear campaign, who acknowledge that they would like the New Kadampa Tradition to be destroyed. Websites plagiarizing the name of the tradition store defamatory and divisive material, even though this material is prejudiced or was discredited years ago.
All this activity is perpetrating a schism in the present-day Buddhist Sangha by marginalizing and demonizing the NKT. Many detractors of the NKT feel justified in their activities, regrettably, because they follow the Dalai Lama, who for political reasons started many of the rumors against the NKT himself e.g. that we are spirit worshippers and cultists and harm people. Due to people’s intense and sometimes blind loyalty to the Dalai Lama, these rumors have inspired hatred of the NKT and so have developed a life of their own. The Dalai Lama has an unquestioned reputation and so many people have naturally believed him over the NKT without investigating further.
All this is naturally disturbing to many NKT practitioners, who frequently leave the tradition as a result, even though this decision is usually very painful for them. New people understandably do not attend NKT meditation classes in the first place if they encounter and believe the false accusations that the NKT is a cult and worships a spirit etc. Many who remain in the NKT have their faith tested and, if they are not vigilant, subtly eroded by the constant mudslinging and gossip.
Although we do not claim to be perfect, the fact is that we are not a cult, we do not worship a spirit and we have never intentionally harmed a single person through our practices. What the NKT does is teach Mahayana Buddhism, motivated by the wish to help others. This much is clear from any of our websites e.g. www.kadampa.org and from the many thousands of Kadampa practitioners who are still very happy with the tradition. On this site, we wish to address each smear and allegation with truth and facts, with the hope and prayer that concerned people will then be more fully informed and thus better able to resist the erosion of their confidence and the destruction of their trust.
We also know that mistakes have been made, and we are genuinely sorry for those mistakes and trying honestly to learn from them (both as individuals and as an organization, with the help of the Internal Rules).
We are trying here to redress the balance. Previously, due to NKT students staying passive and not answering these smears, they built up without opposition. Our aim with this site is to restore some neutrality. For a long time, those mentioned on Behind the Lies have been attacking us non-stop in different ways and under different aliases. We are simply clarifying who they are and what they have been doing, and we have been happy to remove any inaccuracies from our profiles that we have heard about.
If you have any concerns about the NKT from what you have read on the Internet, heard from Tibetan Buddhist groups or from your own personal experience, we actively invite you to please let us know and we will do our best to address them. Rather than automatically assuming that what you are reading on other sites is the truth, please instead give the NKT the benefit of the doubt until you have had time to find out more. Please with an open mind investigate the matter for yourself or by sending us a private email if you prefer.
To report a smear, please contact [email protected] to communicate with the NKT~IKBU PR team.
If you have any concerns or complaints about the NKT~IKBU organization, teachers or managers, please feel free to email [email protected], or call [+44] (0)1229-588-533 and ask for an Education Council representative, who will address your concerns fairly in accordance with the Internal Rules 4.7 and 12.
We cannot guarantee that we will have all the answers to your concerns, but we will do our honest best to help you clarify the issue and then, on the basis of having multiple perspectives, you can make up your own mind. The NKT is not perfect, and we welcome reading your concerns as a means of helping us to improve and do better in the future.