A Presentation of Dharma for the Modern World

Today, I came across a website where someone was saying many horrible things about Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Most of what they were saying has already been addressed on the New Kadampa Truth website. But, one thing they were saying has not. They were questioning whether or not Geshe Kelsang had permission from, his spiritual guide, Trijang Rinpoche to make a new presentation of Dharma. At the NKT Summer Festival, in 2004, Geshe Kelsang made it very clear that he did have permission from Trijang Rinpoche. Below is part of this teaching.

A Presentation of Dharma for the Modern World

Sometimes if we mix ordinary view and profound Dharma, then it causes people more confusion. For we Buddhists the confusion is enough! It is everywhere, big confusion in Buddhist people. Because previously our Buddhist texts were very profound and modern people found them very difficult to understand. Buddhist Teachers are also giving teachings following the tradition of their own country, which is very difficult for people in other countries to understand. In this way, there is huge confusion.

So now our responsibility, the main job of Kadampa Buddhist Teachers, is to disappear the confusion of the people throughout the world. We should never cause confusion to increase. Therefore, you need certain skillful methods.

Even for myself, at the very beginning it was very difficult. If I taught according to the Tibetan tradition, Western people found it very difficult to accept or understand-there was not much meaning for them. If I taught my own presentation, a different design, I worried because I need to follow my lineage Gurus’ tradition. So big problem, you know. Every Teacher who came from ancient country, from Eastern country, had this problem. But I solved my problem when I had my last meeting with my Spiritual Guide Trijang Rinpoche.

At that time, he was near passing away, so I went to India to see him. I had a very good opportunity to have a long meeting. I made him a long-life ritual prayer called “ten shu” with an assembly of monks, and then I had a long meeting. During this, I asked many questions about my own problem, because if I taught according to the Tibetan tradition, Western people found it difficult to accept because they are not like Tibetan people. They are educated people who went through school and university or college. They have learned a lot. They are knowledgeable people. They will not follow blind faith. They immediately check how it is true or not. They immediately want practical things. So if we follow our own tradition, it is very difficult. So now I gave many lists from Sutra and Tantra, now what do we do with this?

He said clearly, “Don’t worry! My students are Tibetan people. Your students are people from other countries. Of course, you teach with different methods. Of course, your presentation of Dharma is necessarily going to be different than mine, because people’s characteristics, nature, capacity, wishes, and society are different.”

He said this and I was so happy that he gave me permission. He said: “You don’t worry. Buddha himself said that the way of presenting Buddhadharma should be like the way a doctor gives medicine to different people. The doctor never gives one medicine to everybody, every sick person. Different sick people receive different medicines, because they are not the same. Similarly, the way of presenting Dharma is necessarily going to be different according to different people.”

He told me this example. So then I realized that he gave me permission to make a new design for the people of the modern world. So we did, and it works very well. – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

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3 Responses to “A Presentation of Dharma for the Modern World”


  1. 1 Jimmy February 19, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Two blog posts in one day! — and both very interesting.

    These words from Geshe-la are good, thank you. Can you let us know when Geshe-la said this?

  2. 2 Jimmy February 19, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    And perhaps you should also write to New Kadampa Truth to suggest that they add this smear to the website?

  3. 3 wisdomfire February 19, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Hi Jimmy,

    Thanks for your comments. Geshe-la said this at the NKT Summer Festival in 2004. In fact, there is a video of this teaching available online from the Festival Diaries. Here’s a link: http://kadampa.org/english/events/festivals/diaries/2004/summer/teachings.htm

    Click on “A New Presentation of Dharma” to watch the video.

    I’ll send an email to the New Kadampa Truth team to suggest that they add the smear as you suggested.


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