Header image header image 2  

BACKGROUND: NKT vs The Dalai Lama and Others

Buddhism, which was created by a lay person named Shakyamuni in India about 2,500 years ago, migrated to Tibet by the 7th century and was re-invigorated by Atisha from India in the 11th century, forming a Buddhist school called 'Kadampa'. A few hundred years later, Tsongkhapa profoundly intensified Tibetan Buddhism with prolific writing skills and renewed commitment to monasticism, forming the 'New Kadampa' movement, which later became known as the Gelug school (the others three principle schools are Nyingma, Kagyu and Sakya).

One of Tsongkhapa's students was Gendun Drup, who eventually became revered as the first Dalai Lama, the leader of the Gelug school (New Kadampa lineage) and builder of Tibet's Gendun Monastery. In 1935, Tenzin Gyatso ( the 14th Dalai Lama) was born and is considered the reincarnation of the preceding Dalai Lama and emanation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Historically, the Dalai Lamas are also Tibet's political leader, though the current Dalai Lama is now in exile due to the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950s.

In 1976, The Dalai Lama suggested that Tibetan Buddhists refrain from worshiping a purported protector of Dharma (Buddha Shakyamuni's teachings) known as Shugden (just had several preceding Dalai Lamas). As leader of the Tibetan people The Dalai Lama concluded that Shugden worship represents worship of a vengeful spirit, is an obstacle to religious harmony and undermines the well being of the Tibetan society.

The leader of NKT (which stands for the 'New Kadampa Tradition', wrongly implying a form of Tibetan Buddhism but rather a controversial Buddhist-disguised cult) is 'Geshe' Kelsang Gyatso, now 78 and worshiped by his devotees as a cult hero, as the greatest Shugden protector, and as a supreme omniscient being whose narcissistic visions, power goals, dharma interpretations, lineage anaysis and fundamentalist politics are infallible. Though never officially granted the Geshe academic degree, Gyatso was invited in the 1970s to teach at the Manjushri Center in England operated at that time by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Ultimately, Gyatso took control of this center (see Footnote 2), breaking away from Tibetan Buddhism in favor of creating his own domineering cult nominally based on Tibetan Buddhism. Gyatso's primary tantric teacher was Trijang Rinpoche (1900-1981), who was also a junior tutor of the current Dalai Lama and root guru for Lama Yeshe, the founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Buddhism.

Gyatso, a nephew of a Shugden oracle (see footnote below), began his public campaign against the Dalai Lama in 1996 (a few years after taking control of Manjushri Institute from Lama Yeshe), a fight which escalated to a caustic worldwide assault on The Dalai Lama April 2008. Now, everywhere that The Dalai Lama appears in public, NKT deploys a militarized zone where Gyatso's sect protests against the Dalai Lama - usually along side of Chinese government representatives who also seek to diminish the impact of The Dalai Lama. There have been suggestions, including from within NKT, that the Chinese government is funding NKT's protests. (almost all of the world's Buddhists do NOT worship Shugden) (Responding to Newsweek's 1997 expose of NKT, Gyatso (falsely) promised that he and his followers had suspended their involvement with the Shugden controversy, Gyatso denied Robert Thurman's analysis that Shugden worshipers were the Taliban of Tibetan Buddhism, Gyatso denied Robert Thurman's analysis that NKT is destroying religious freedom, Gyatso denied the financial wrondoing within NKT reported in English newspapers, and Gyatso absurdly boasted that if The Dalai Lama is right about Shugden the entire practice of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is invalid (ie, Tsongkhapa's lineage is bogus) (Gyatso nemesis Robert Thurman was ordained in 1964 as the first American Tibetan Buddhist, earned his Harvard Ph.D. in Sanscrit Indian Studies in 1972, was one of Time Magazine's 25 most influential people in the world, is the Tsongkhapa Professor of Religion at Columbia Univiersity, is President of Tibet House in New York City, , and is a prolific author and translator of Tibetan Buddhism literature.) In Gyatso's 2002 press release responding to media stories about Shugden worshipers having been implicated in the murders of 3 Lamas loyal to The Dalai Lama regarding Shugden and in death threats against The Dalai Lama, Gyatso denied that either he or NKT had any involvement and Gyatso guaranteed that neither he nor NKT would perform inappropriate actions in the future. Ever since, NKT has been a non-stop conduit for inappropriate actions. (see links below)

During the first week of July 2008, Gyatso stepped up his campaign against The Dalai Lama by deploying its assault web site, www.newkadampatruth.org, which identified 8 individuals other than The Dalai Lama who Gyatso sees as a threat to his unique-but-isolated empire: Lama Yeshe (deceased), his successor Lama Zopa, and 6 other individuals, some of whom feel that they were harmed by NKT abuses or misled into a destructive cult, including dramatic stories of prolific sexual misconduct my NKT monks and nuns most notably including 2 recent named successors to Gyatso upon his death or retirement. Notably, Gyatso's new web site attempts to discredit a few bloggers with sordid psychiatric descriptions. (Gyatso's web site is styled after Presidential candidate Barak Obabma's anti-smear web site). So palpable is NKT's vengence against these Buddhists in NKT's web sites and protest rallies it is easy to visualize a candle-lit seance of NKT clergy channeling Shugden and the cult's demons against them.

NKT's attack web site has inspired predictable escalation of attacks from NKT fundamentalists against The Dalai Lama, three other Tibetan Buddhist Lamas and 5 individuals targeted by NKT. For example, one of the individuals targeted by NKT's web site shared the following on July 8: "I have been bombarded today with email after email. One suggested that I might get killed by the NKT if I continue with the group. What was shocking is this person seems to want me to be. Just when I think nothing the NKT does can get any worse, it does. Another email referred to me as a demon. They don't like me in the least. Which is a shame, I'm a nice guy once you get to know me. And yet another email was sent telling me how he knows several members on here, and they all had mental health problems prior to the NKT, just like me. It seems Lucy James is trying to get back in good standing with GKG after he removed her as resident teacher. She is doing it by attacking anti-NKT web sites. She was editor for wikipedia. I have no doubt she is behind newkadampatruth.org . It seems Miss James is power hungry and will at all cost say and do anything to get her "throne" back. Let's hope she gets reinstated as RT. Maybe then I will stop being a target for brainwashed NKT fanatics." Hopefully, fundamentalist history will not repeat itself, such that an NKT believer acts out threats of bodily harm, escalating ugly cult behavior to criminal deeds (interestingly, the object of NKT's strongest worship, Shugden, is credited with murdering many non believers, one reason Shugden statues and pictures present such a scarry demon-like demeanor).

In addition to NKT's unscrupulous abuse of The Dalai Lama and 8 other Buddhists, Gyatso charged the Western Shugden Society via web sites, internet blogger posts and lawsuit against the Dalai Lama in India to hurl a range of ugly rhetoric against The Dalai Lama. NKT prepared an attack booklet, The Tibetan Situation Today, which can be found on the web site of The Western Shugden Society.

Organizationally, NKT's survival appears challenged by impoverished circumstances. Its management structure is thin. Gyatso's current heir (the two previous heirs disrobed following signficant sexual scandals) is perceived as weak and susceptible to overthow by one of the other three clergy in 'middle management', below which are a few hundred entry-level manager 'resident teachers' (many very young and perhaps only half in the clergy) dispersed around the world. A critical mass of ex-members, teachers, and disrobed nuns and monks have reported distubing patterns of deceit by NKT, mismanagement of its centers and by its clergy, sexual misconduct, intolerance for other Buddhist traditions, confusion by NKT's students and teachers over NKT's breakaway and independence from all other forms of Buddhism and particularly its Tibetan Buddhist roots, confusion over its 'non-political' political advocacy for Shugden and against The Dalai Lama, cultish devotion to its spirit worship of Shugden, and over the last several months the sense of emergency in management over the potential for NKT demise upon the passing of 78 year old Gyatso (exemplified prolifically by NKT's blogosphere public relations pursuits arising from NKT's paranoia over its perception of The Dalai Lama's superior standing around the world; NKT initiated an organized worldwide campaign against the Dalai Lama in April 2008, and in July 2008, NKT created a corporate web site to attack other Tibetan Buddhist Lamas and a few lay Buddhists who expressed concern over their negative experiences while at NKT or over NKT's destructive mission against Buddhist morals).

It appears that a unilateral sibling rivalry by Gyatso against The Dalai Lama charged with paranoia and widely publicized sexual scandals and patterns of abuse within NKT is behind Gyatso's unilateral but possibly self destructive war. It also appears that NKT is determined to fractionalize Tibetan Buddhism and play a Shugden political card to weaken The Dalai Lama and intensify Chinese Government domination over Tibet. Sadly, in the process, Buddhism is under attack and Gyatso's young and idealistic monks and nuns may end up as so many other ex- NKT monks and nuns have - feeling deeply hurt and victimized by NKT, which is emerging as an increasingly ugly cult.

Because NKT does not consider itself a form of Tibetan Buddhism, NKT should not be considered Kadampa or New Kadampa Buddhism, both of which are treasured Tibetan forms of Buddhism. NKT asserts that is a separate form of Buddhism from Zen, Chinese, Thai, European, Australian, American and any other school of Buddhism. The vows of its monastics are confined to NKT-defined vows. Accordingly, NKT is a sect unto itself and has created a unique and relatively new religious 'tradition' aspiring dominance, which helps to explain its hostility toward The Dalai Lama, other well known Tibetan Lamas, the Sera Monastery in India where Gyatso received training, and its biographers and critics (who typically are ex-clergy and members). It would appear that NKT is fighting intensely for a perceived battle of survival, though the battle is unilateral. Because of the ferocity of its personal attacks and intolerance for other religious viewpoints, many consider NKT a cult - a systematically recurring report from individuals who found the courage and reabilitative family support to leave NKT and concluded in scholarly analyses of NKT (eg, the examination of David Kay in Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain, see web link below).

The fraction of the world's Buddhists worshiping Shugden is minute. In desperate search for converts Shugdenites embrace the Chinese Government's subjugation of Tibet and insertion of Shugden worship inside Tibet and China to weaken The Dalai Lama. One of the Chinese Government's strategies - kidnap Tibet's Panchen Lama and his family in 1995 (at age 6 and the 10th reincarnation of the first Panchen Lama, 1385-1438, Tibet's Panchen Lama became the world's youngest political prisoner). The rightful Panchen Lama was replaced with a Chinese government sanctioned puppet, now 19 years old, granting him State ranking and paying all of his expenses - representing to Shugdenites a welcome Chinese Government interference into Tibetan Buddhism because now Shugden worship will be official state policy in China for its 1.2 billion population in China and Chinese Government conscripts in Tibet. (click here to see the 'Panchen Lama' of the Chinese Government placed in front of a Shugden image - the Chinese Government's latest strategy against The Dalai Lama and Tibetan people)

Lama Choyang Duldzin Kuten (1917-2002, Gyatso's uncle), on pilgrimage in India at the age of 17, lost consciousness. Monks speculated that he either had an epileptic fit or had been possessed. Upon return to Tibet, the "terrible experience" recurred; it was diagnosed to be caused by Shugden. The experience that he and others found disturbing made him feel alienated from the monastic community. He was tested repeatedly during a few years of "suffering" and for his final test he and other monks had doubts about the authenticity of his Shugen possessions. Eventually Trijang Rinpoche and others determined that he was an oracle for Shugden. In 1959, he followed The Dalai Lama into exile in India. It has been reported that Lama Kuten visited his nephew Gyatso at Manjushri in England in the early 1990s, and in 1996 severed his links with NKT and returned to India to support The Dalai Lama. What Shugden said during Lama Kuten's possessions would be most interesting. Notably, within 1 year of his passing in 1981, Trijang's reincarnation was found and recognized by The Dalai Lama. Kyabje Trijang Chocktrul Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Trijang Buddhist Institute in Vermont, USA. On its home web page The Dalai Lama is prominently featured (not demeaned as NKT does).

About July 29, 2008, NKT published its response to allegations that 'NKT stole Manjushri Institute' from the Foundation of the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) (click here). NKT's response appears to revive what many opined was NKT blackmail against FPMT (click here), while adding a new twist. According to NKT, FPMT was conducting a hundred or so serious criminal activities, including drug smuggling. NKT corporation presents this statement as a fact, not an allegation. Unless there is a court or jury verdict against FPMT for such criminal activity, it would appear that NKT is now adding slander/libel to its 1983 apparent blackmail (note: actual criminal activity, including drug smuggling, slander and libel, necessitates a court or jury verdict). About this story, as with NKT, it is difficult to know with certainty what is true. Journalists and this web site can only do their best. Unfortunately, Lama Yeshe died in 1984 (after the purported 1983 blackmail phone call from NKT), and can not defend himself. Why NKT would rekindle this story now is not clear; some have opined that NKT is self destructing.



GYATSO CAMPAIGN (click links)
Western Shugden Society
New Kadampa Truth
NKT parent web site
NKT support blog
Gyatso 1996 interview
Gyatso 2002 open letter
Gyatso 1997 response to Newsweek
NKT financial information
New Kadampa Truth Blog
Tibetan Situation Today
NKT Internal Rules

HH the 14th Dalai Lama
Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition
Tibetan Government in Exhile
Tibet Info . Net
Central Tibetan Administration
Tibetan Administration regarding Shugden worship
The Dalai Lama's position regarding Shugden worship

New Kadampa
An NKT history
Sera Monastary letter to Gyatso
Three members of The Dalai Lama's inner circle killed
The Dalai's Lama's advice regarding Shugden
Gyatso succession
David Kay book, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain
David Kay 1997 article about NKT
Shugden issue undermining Tibetan freedom
Story of an ex-NKT monk, Gyatso bodyguard responsible for taking a bullet
An analysis of the Western Shugden Society
Review web site covering range of NKT controversy
The Shuk-Den Affair: Origins of a Controversy
Australian Sangha Association Statement about NKT/WSS protests against The Dalai Lama
A monk from Sera Monastery describes the Shugden controversy
Anti-Shugden - Elimate the evil, Embrace the Dharma
Shadow boxing on the path to Nirvana
NKT cult at work on somebody asking for help (imagine someone feeling trapped or your child receiving this)
Sera Monk Discusses Shugden Fundamentalism
Letting Daylight into Magic
Statement of the 100th Ganden Tripa regarding Shugden
Understanding the Dorje Shugden Controversy
Letting Daylight into Magic: The Life and Times of Dorje Shugden
Two Sides of the Same God
Tales of Intrigue from Tibet's Holy City
A quick note on Dorje Shugden
A brief history of opposition to Shugden
A Shugden review
It's the Dalai Lama vs Shugden



The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path. Tshongkhapa
Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Live. Shantideva
The Complete Works of Atisha. Richard Sherburne
Ornament of Stainless Light. Khedrup Norsang Gyatso
Mind of Clear Light. The Dalai Lama
Indestructable Truth: The Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism. Reginald Ray
Secret of the Vajra World: The Tantric Buddhism of Tibet. Reginald Ray
The Bliss of Inner Fire. Lama Yeshe
Dakini's Warm Breath. Judith Simmer-Brown
Highest Yoga Tantra. Daniel Cozort
Yoga Tantra: Paths to Magical Feats. The Dalai Lama, Tsongkhapa & Jeffrey Hopkins
Diety Yoga. The Dalai Lama, Tsongkhapa and Jeffrey Hopkins
Tantra in Tibet. The Dalai Lama, Tsongkhapa and Jeffrey Hopkins
The Six Yogas of Naropa. Glenn Mullins
Readings on the Six Yogas of Naropa. Glenn Mullin
Secret Buddhism: Vajrayana Practices. Kalu Rinpoche
Tantric Ethics. Tsongkhapa
Tibetan Buddhism & Modern Physics. Vic Mansfield
The Rise of Esoteric Buddhism in Tibet. Eva Dargyay
Dzogchen: Heart Essence of the Great Perfection. The Dalai Lama
The Life of Milarepa. translated, Lobsang Lhalungp
Mind Beyond Death. Dzogchen Donlop
Tsongkhapa's Final Exposition of Wisdom. Jeffrey Hopkins
Sky Dancer: The Secret Life and Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel. Kieth Dowman
The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols. Robert Beer
Buddhist Symbolism in Tibetan Thangkas. Ben Meulenbeld
The Cakrasamvara Tantra: The Discourse of Sri Heruka. David Gray
The Treasury of Knowledge. (a series of books) Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye
Oracles and Demons of Tibet. Rene De Nebesky-Wojkowitz
Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Alexandria David-Neel
The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin
A Truthful Heart: Buddhist Practices for Connecting with Others. Jeffrey Hopkins
How to See Yourself as You Really Are. The Dalai Lama
Heart Advice for Death and Dying. Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Becoming Enlightened. The Dalai Lama
Bon: The Magic Word: The Indigenous Religion of Tibet. Samten Karmay
Memoirs of a Tibetan Lama. Lobsang Gyatso
The Story of Tibet. Thomas Laird
Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement. Ronald Davidson
The Quantum and the Lotus. Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan
Buddhism Without Beliefs. Stephen Batchelor
The Sound of Two Hands Clapping. Georges Dreyfus
The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk. Palden Gyatso
Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, John Powers