The Setting Of …
1. The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU) — aka Kadampa Buddhism or Modern Buddhism
2. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso — The Founder Of The New Kadampa Tradition
3. Dorje Shugden Controversy — The Background Of A Dispute
4. Western Shugden Society (WSS) / International Shugden Community (ISC) — Who Is Behind The Protests Against the Dalai Lama?
This site aims to give verifiable and accurate information about the setting of the New Kadampa Tradition. For further information it is strongly recommended to read research papers or to contact INFORM.
New Kadampa Tradition (NKT-IKBU)
The New Kadampa Tradition describes itself as Kadampa Buddhism and as a ‘time-honored’ tradition, stating that “Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (AD 982-1054)”.
However, Peter Bernard Clarke, a theology professor at Oxford, has characterised the NKT as a “controversial Tibetan Buddhist New Religious Movement (NRM)”. And David Barett has characterised the NKT-IKBU as “deriving from Tibetan Buddhism” and as “one of the newest and most controversial buddhist movements.”
Kay, David N. (1997) ‘The New Kadampa Tradition and the Continuity of Tibetan Buddhism in Transition‘, Journal of Contemporary Religion 12(3) (October 1997), 277-293 (PDF)
Dr. David Kay’s “Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain – Transplantation, development and adaptation” (PDF), London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004.
McQuire, Carol (2013), “Realizing the Guru’s Intention: Hungry Humans and Awkward Animals in a New Kadampa Tradition Community” in Spiritual and Visionary Communities: Out to Save the World, Edited by Timothy Miller, Ashgate: 65–82.
Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Kelsang Gyatso is a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Gelug teacher (scholar) and author of Buddhist books. He was born in Tibet in 1931 and ordained at the age of eight. In 1976 he was invited by Lama Thubten Yeshe, a Gelug Tulku, to teach at his FPMT center Manjushri Institute, Ulverston, England. After a schism with the FPMT he founded the New Kadampa Tradition in 1991.
Although Geshe Kelsang Gytaso was described by some followers as the “Third Buddha, because he has restored the essential purity of Buddha’s doctrine and shown how to practice it in extremely impure times” and is described nowadays as “a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism”, he is seen as controversial as well.
The Sangha of his order in Sera Je monastery issued a formal “Declaration of Expulsion” on August 22, 1996 expelling Geshe Kelsang from his monastery.
Dorje Shugden Controversy
Dorje Shugden is a deity whose precise nature — enlightened tutelary deity (Yidam), bound worldly Dharma protector (Dharmapala) or an evil and malevolent force is disputed among adherents of Tibetan Buddhism, especially its Gelug school.
Dorje Shugden (Wylie: rdo-rje shugs-ldan), “Powerful thunderbolt”; also known as Dhol-rgyal) is a relatively recent, but very controversial, deity within the complex pantheons of Himalayan Buddhism. There exist different accounts and claims on Dorje Shugden’s origin, nature and function.
Protests: Western Shugden Society / International Shugden Community
The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is mainly behind the world wide media campaign against the Dalai Lama and is orchestrated under the label Western Shugden Society (WSS) and recently International Shugden Community (ICS). The founder of NKT, Kelsang Gyatso, urged his followers: “[…] To stop this evil action, as the representative of the Western Shugden Society, I personally will organise demonstrations against the Dalai Lama directly. I requested Kelsang Pema and Kelsang Thubchen to do this job for me and they have accepted. Please help Pema and Thubchen with whatever they need. …”
Self Help Forum & Testimonies
David Cutshaw from the USA, a former member of the NKT-IKBU, created a Yahoo group called ‘New Kadampa Survivors’ in May 2007. This discussion forum aims to offer help to those previously involved in the NKT, as well as to their families and friends. The NKT tried to undermine the forum by using ‘troll strategies’ and attempted to convince Yahoo to shut it down. Members of the group are lay persons, ex NKT teachers, nuns and monks. Testimonies of “NKT Survivors” have been posted on the buddhism-controversy-blog and the Facebook group New Kadampa Survivor Testimonies.
Current followers of the New Kadampa Tradition and their political wings, the Western Shugden Society (WSS) and International Shugden Community (ISC), portray themselves as “Modern Buddhists”, and the Dalai Lama and mainstream Tibetan Buddhists as “backward traditionalists”. Though a number of journalists have, without investigation, believed and repeated such claims, this picture couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Shugden was the practice of the Lhasa aristocracy and members of the power-hungry Gelugpa monastic hegemony, whose intention was not to share power but rather to maintain and increase it. Then and now, Shugden practitioners see themselves as superior to other Tibetan Buddhist schools and as the sole representatives of the purest of the Buddha’s teachings. Even though these facts are well known to Indo-Tibetan Buddhist experts, they are rarely reported online.
For a brief summary of the actual historical situation see the following essays: Gareth Sparham’s »Why the Dalai Lama Rejects Shugden?« or Prof. Paul William’s »A quick note on Dorje Shugden (rDo rje shugs ldan)«. To get an overview over the current wave of Anti Dalai Lama protests you can read the following interviews: Protests against the Dalai Lama over Dorje Shugden – An interview with Robert Barnett or The Dorje Shugden Conflict – An interview with Thierry Dodin.
Art Work Of A »New Kadampa Survivor«
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – Two sides of the same person
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso & Dorje Shugden
Art work by Carol McQuire, a »New Kadampa Survivor« (NKT Survivors)
Art work by Carol McQuire (on Facebook: New Kadampa Survivor Activists)
Art work by Carol McQuire »Transform Your Life«
Art work by Carol McQuire »Demons don’t dialogue, they demand and defame …«
Art work by Carol McQuire »Come out« (on Facebook: New Kadampa Survivor Activists)
By Carol McQuire (Background interview with Robert Barnett: Protests against the Dalai Lama over Dorje Shugden)