Recently, Tenzin Peljor has been spreading smears about the New Kadampa Tradition’s ordination. Peljor has been stating that according to the NKT’s current ordination vows NKT monks and nuns can raise families, and go to war to serve one’s own country. This is not true.
NKT monks and nuns take vows of celibacy and vows to abandon killing any living beings (including insects). So it would be unacceptable for NKT monks and nuns to have children (post ordination) or to join the military.
However, Tenzin has also stated that NKT monks can work to make money. This is true. Many ordained Sangha in the NKT work to support themselves. In Eastern countries, Buddhist monks and nuns beg for food with a begging bowl. In Western countries, Buddhist monks and nuns would be looked down upon for begging. Without the respect of Westerners it would be difficult to benefit them. So many Western ordained Sangha work to support themselves while also maintaining their ordination vows.
Buddha Shakyamuni said that the Vinaya should be practiced in accordance with what is most acceptable for society.
Tenzin Peljor also says that it is incorrect that Buddha said this. It is not just Geshe Kelsang who has quoted Buddha saying this.
The below quote is from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Freedom Wherever We Go:
When the Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, he told his attendant, the Venerable Ananda, that the minor and lesser rules [of the Vinaya] could be removed, so that the text would remain light, relevant, and appropriate. At that time, Ananda did not inquire which specific trainings the Buddha was referring to. So after Buddha’s passing into Nirvana, the elder monk Kassyapa did not dare to remove any of the precepts. Two thousand six hundred years have gone by, and this recommendation by the Buddha has not been carried out.
From the New Kadampa Truth website:
Traditionally, Tibetan Buddhism follows the Vinaya Sutra, which comes from the Hinayana tradition. In the system of Tibetan Buddhism, the level of ordination is determined by the number of vows. Someone is a fully ordained monk if they hold 253 vows, or a fully ordained nun if they hold 364 vows. (There is no longer any tradition for full ordination for women in the Tibetan tradition and so Tibetan Buddhist nuns are secondary to monks.)
The NKT ordination follows the tradition of ordination explained by Geshe Potowa and other Kadampa Geshes. According to this system, it is the level of renunciation that determines the level of ordination, not how many vows you hold. In NKT ordination, a monk or a nun becomes ‘fully ordained’ (Gelong or Bhikshu (monk), Gelongma or Bhikshuni (nun) by holding the ten vows of ordination and having developed the realization of renunciation, that is, having developed the spontaneous wish for liberation such that it is ever-present in the mind, day and night.