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Is charitable activity of no interest to Buddhists? Of course not, social service is a direct application of the Buddhist teachings on compassion and loving-kindness.

However, according to the teachings and opinions posted by many NKT followers on the Internet, social service is an afterthought. To NKT, the best way to serve sentient beings is through marketing 'Pure Dharma' - and 'protecting it' through ugly protests against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other eminent masters of the lineage who question Shugden reliance.

NKT's policy on charity, though not clearly stated, is that giving money to charities other than NKT is missing the point. This is because, as many NKTites have posted, charity to 'mundane organizations' is only providing 'temporary happiness and relief from suffering'.

The underlying message in this mentality is not difficult to comprehend. 'Give us your money, come to our empowerments and teachings, and help us promote NKT throughout the world, because only that results in permament happiness and relief from suffering'.

Apart from Kelsang Gyatso donating an old car to a famine relief organization in the early 1990s (loudly trumpeted in several NKT publications), NKT has expressed no interest in serving any community other than its own. Its only 'charities are its Dharma Centres, business and political activities aimed at destroying the reputation of His Holines the Dalai Lama and other authentic teachers.

Fortunately, this selfish approach to benefitting others (ie, that the only way to help others is through the promotion of its cult) is not the rule in Buddhism.

Many other Buddhist organizations from all the traditions ARE interested in social service and helping others. To contemplate the various activities of these organizations is a welcome relief from thinking about the self-centredness of NKT's self-propagation approach. Other beings outside the 'mandala' of the organization DO matter. Helping others, not just those who profess to one's own lineage and teachers, does matter.

Thank goodness other Buddhists see the value of promoting causes other than themselves. For example...

The Shambhala Organization, a Kagyu-Nyingma federation of temples and meditation centres founded by Trungpa Rinpoche and headed by his son, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, sponsors these charitable activities:

Peacemaker Institute: offers training for social activists.

Prison Dharma Network: offers Buddhist training and education to prisoners.

Envision Halifax: a new initiative committed to igniting a culture of civic engagement throughout the Halifax region.

100 Bowls of Compassion: a fundraiser that Shambhala has done for the past three years in collaboration with Miriam's Kitchen, a breakfast, case-management, and housing program for the homeless in Washington DC.

Bearing Witness: a progam based in Santiago, Chile that promotes awareness of the plight of political prisoners.

Click here for information on more charitable projects.

The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), NKT's self proclaimed 'enemy', also funds a broad spectrum of charitable projects:

Amdo Eye Center: building a hospital in Xining, the capitol of Amdo, Tibet, to provide continuous, sustainable and quality eye care.

Animal Liberation Fund: the Animal liberation fund is for buying animals that are going to be killed; they are rescued and circumambulated around holy objects in order to plant the seeds of enlightenment in their minds.

Animal Liberation Sanctuary: a 13-acre park that is being created on land adjacent to Kopan Monastery in Nepal. The object of the sanctuary is to house animals that were to be killed so that they may live out the natural course of their lives.

Mongolia, FPMT: Lama Zopa Rinpoche established FPMT Mongolia at the end of 1999, specifically to re-ignite Buddhist culture in Mongolia and to help provide social support, food and education to the poor and under-privileged.

Click here for information on more charitable projects.

The Tzu Chi Foundation, a Chinese Mahayana organization based in Taiwan, supports eathquake and famine relief, hospitals, hospices and myriad other charitable activities. It also offers support to the homeless and Buddhist resources in countries throughout the globe, through a network of Buddhists dedicated to practicing "Compassion in Action". The number of charitable activities is too many to count, so a visit to the web site is a must (click here).

In addition, the Theravada traditions in Thailand, for example, run AIDS hospices and drug rehabilitation clinics under the auspices of the local monasteries and the Thai Buddhist council.

After pondering the various charitable acitivites of all these Buddhist organizations, one could be forgiven for asking the simple question: Does NKT just not get it? Are compassion and loving kindness slogans for the meditation cushion and publicity brochures? Or, are they teachings that Lord Buddha intended us to practice?