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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

Lama Yeshe’s Request for Geshe Kelsang to come to England

This is a little bit of history that I hadn’t known about before tonight. It’s now on the Wikipedia article about Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. We are so fortunate that Lama Yeshe and Trijang Rinpoche requested Geshe Kelsang to come to the West and that he accepted.

In Geshe Kelsang’s own words:

When I was in India I received an invitation from Manjushri Institute in England through Lama Yeshe, who was my very close friend in Tibet. He and I were from the same monastery in Tibet and we had the same Teacher. He wrote to me and requested me please to go to England and give Dharma teachings. I received this invitation but I didn’t answer for two months. At that time it was difficult for me to say yes due to certain commitments to local Tibetan people, and also I thought how could I teach as I could not speak English? I had no confidence. Lama Yeshe was very clever; he went to visit my root Guru Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, and requested him to ask me to go to England to teach Dharma. He knew if my root Guru asked me, then I would agree to go.

New Kadampa Tradition ‘Cult’ Smear, Part 3

Part three of the articles on the New Kadampa Truth Blog about the history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear has been up for a couple days now. This article highlights the Dalai Lama’s first publicized attacks on Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and Je Phabongkhapa (one of the principal lineage Gurus of all modern day Gelugpas).

Part three also addresses the smears of the New Kadampa Tradition and Geshe Kelsang Gyatso published by Newsweek in 1997 in the article entitled Cult Mystery. The main body of which was based on interviews with the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman.

This combined with the Sera Expulsion Letter cemented in the minds of many Tibetan Buddhists the belief that the NKT was a cult. 1996 and 1997 were bad times for the NKT. Brave as they were to stand up to the Dalai Lama, their actions were misconstrued and the unfair smear of their being a cult began.
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 3

For previous installments:

The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 1
The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 2

The Dalai Lama’s Mixture of Religion & Politics

The below text is by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso about the Dalai Lama mixing religion and politics from a 1997 interview. This evening, I came across it and found it helpful, so I decided to share.

Question: Do you support the separation of Church and State in any reconstituted Tibet?

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso’s Answer: Yes, I believe that the separation of Dharma and politics in a reconstituted Tibet is of the utmost importance. I appreciate that you also agree with this. This mixing of religion and politics causes so many problems, I understand this very clearly. The problem surrounding the worship of Dorje Shugden is due to mixing of religion and politics. The Dorje Shugden issue is a religious issue, but the Dalai Lama is using his political power to try to destroy this practice. This is the source of the problem. I clearly understand that although the Dalai Lama may say he supports a separation of Church and State, the reality is far different. Otherwise why is he still holding on to both these positions, that of religious leader and political leader of the Tibetan community in exile?

The issue of the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama is in reality a religious issue, likewise the reincarnation of the Karmapa. Why is the Tibetan political leader involved in these things? Why does he not leave these matters to the disciples of these two religious leaders? I don’t believe that the Dalai Lama is interested in a separation of Dharma and politics. If he were really interested in changing to a more democratic society, he would have already begun the transition from a feudal autocracy to a free society within the Tibetan communities in India. This has manifestly not happened. – Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, November 18th, 1997

The Origins of the ‘Cult of Shugden’ Smear

The second in a series of articles about the history of the ‘cult’ smear of the New Kadampa Tradition was posted on the New Kadampa Truth blog this evening. The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear, Part 2 reveals the origins of the smear ‘cult of Shugden’. The smear was first used by Andrew Brown in his article “Battle of the Buddhists” which appeared in The Independent (15 July 1996). The label ‘cult’ was then used by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile as a weapon to try to destroy the reputation of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso and the New Kadampa Tradition.

“Oh no, am I in a cult?!”

The New Kadampa Truth blog has rolled out the first in a series of articles about the New Kadampa Tradition being labeled as a cult by supporters of the Dalai Lama. The ‘cult’ smear has probably been the most damaging smear to the reputation of the NKT even though there is no actual basis to support it. It’s wonderful that this series of articles is being published by the New Kadampa Truth team. May the truth prevail!

A quote from the article: The history of the New Kadampa Tradition’s ‘cult’ smear

Being accused of being a cult by someone who dislikes you is similar to being asked if you are still beating your wife every night. No matter what is said or not said in defence, the insinuation remains that you beat your wife. For simply addressing this topic, the NKT may be accused by the same detractors of being defensive (”they wouldn’t need to defend themselves if they weren’t in fact a cult!”); but we will take that risk. From the faultfinders’ point of view, we’re damned if we defend ourselves and damned if we don’t. Why not just ignore them? Because people surfing the Internet sometimes encounter the allegation that the NKT is a cult and then assume that the person who said this somehow knows something that they do not. They may then believe this and either stay away from the NKT or, if they are already in the NKT, anxiously ask themselves, “Oh no, am I in a cult?!”

Update: Dalai Lama’s Court Case in Delhi High Court

An update on the Dalai Lama’s court case in Delhi High Court has been posted on the Shugden Society blog. Unfortunately, it’s not good news, but it’s good to know what’s going on at least.

Here’s a link: Update on the Dalai Lama’s Court Case in New Delhi, India