First hand accounts of ex NKT/New Kadampa now on youtube
Date: October 13, 2014 03:29AM



Ongoing project to record the experiences of former members of the UK-based controversial New Kadampa/NKT Buddhist sect.

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Re: First hand accounts of ex NKT/New Kadampa now on youtube
Date: October 17, 2014 04:33PM

Questions in UK Parliament regarding NKT/ New Kadampa sect and two other controversial Buddhist New Religious movements:

In the early 2000s, a number of questions were raised in the UK House of Commons, questions which concerned allegations of ‘cultish behaviour’ in the New Kadampa Tradition. These questions and their responses are recorded here.

PQs 147208,147209
Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department has had discussions with the Community Development Foundation on the appropriateness of religious groups receiving grants from the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund where allegations of cultish behaviour have been made against them; And what representations her Department has received on cultish behaviour in the (a) Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, (b) New Kadampa Tradition and (c) Soka Gakkai International.

Mr. Dhanda: The Department has received correspondence from a member of the public regarding the alleged cultish behaviour of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, New Kadampa Tradition and Soka Gakkai International. No other representation has been received by the Department. Communities and Local Government has commissioned the Community Development Foundation to administer the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund. Officials made the Community Development Foundation aware of the existence of the allegations. The Department considered whether these allegations had any relevance when set against the Fund’s stringent criteria and guidelines. The decision was made that the criteria were satisfied and the award of funding was made.

PQ 152364
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what guidance he has issued to schools on dealings with organizations which have been the subject of allegations of cultish behaviour, with particular regards to (a) Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, (b) New Kadampa Tradition and (c) Soka Gakkai International; and if he will make a statement.

Kevin Brennan: The Department has issued no such guidance. Religious education syllabuses for maintained schools without a religious designation are drawn up by an agreed syllabus conference which advises the local education authority. The non-statutory framework for Religious education was published in October 2004 and provides that pupils should be taught about Christianity, at least one other principle religion and a religious community with a significant local presence. It is up to schools and local authorities to decide upon resources and teaching methods and this would include checking the credentials of any organization they chose to work with. (In fact, no such legislation exists; vetting procedures apply only to individuals and not organizations and there is no statutory requirement for Local Authorities to check organization’s credentials)

PQ 152368
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what his policy is on the offering of grants to organizations against which there have been allegations of cultish behaviour to support their activities in schools. with particular regards to (a) Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, (b) the New Kadampa Tradition and (c) Soka Gakkai International; and if he will make a statement.
Jim Knight: The Department has offered no grants to: (a) Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, (b) new Kadampa Tradition and (c) Soka Gakkai International. All Government Departments follow stringent procedures, seek appropriate references and use independent assessors to examine the constitutions and financial records/accounts of all organizations before they make any recommendations for funding.(While ‘the Department’ had offered no such grants, other Government Departments had done so, despite receiving warnings about the allegations and despite the fact that the groups concerned were the nations wealthiest Buddhist organizations and certainly did not need to rely on charitable handouts, funds which were intended for the UKs more impoverished Buddhist organizations)

PQ 156701
Mr. Leech:To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations the Government has received on the activities of(a) The Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, (b) The New Kadampa Tradition and (c) Soka Gakkai International; and when such representations were received.

Mr Dhanda:Communities and Local Government has received correspondence from a member of the public regarding the alleged cultish behaviour of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, the New Kadampa Tradition and Soka Gakkai International, and the recommendation of funding to these organizations under Round 2 of the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund. This representation was received on 1 May 2007. As far as we are aware, no other representation has been received.

PQ 157746
Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 16 July 2007, Official Report, column 75W, on the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund, what investigations took place into the allegations made against the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, the New Kadampa Tradition and Soka Gakkai International before her Department took the final decision to grant funds to the three organzations from the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund.

Mr. Dhanda: I refer to the earlier answer (that being that Government itself made no investigations)

PQ 157747
Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations her Department has received on cultish behaviour in the (a) Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, (b) New Kadampa Tradition and (c) Soka Gakkai International.

Mr. Dhanda: I refer the hon. Member to the earlier answer.


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Re: First hand accounts of ex NKT/New Kadampa now on youtube
Date: October 18, 2014 07:27PM

Testimony of former bodyguard of NKT head Kelsang Gyatso:

Dispute closes NKT’s Bexhill Buddhist centre
An extraordinary power struggle is tearing apart a Buddhist community in England.

While scouring the headlines for stories that might fit on Wildmind’s blog under the “news” category, I came across the intriguing headline “Dispute closes Buddhist centre,” discussing problems at the Maitreya Buddhist Center of the New Kadampa Tradition, or NKT, in Bexhill in East Sussex.

Unfortunately both newspapers that carried the story had removed the article. But a friend came to the rescue by pointing me toward Google’s cache of the story, and someone on Facebook sent me a link to a blog which presents one side of the dispute (read the blog from the bottom up).

First, a bit of background. The NKT were founded by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, and they’re one of the largest Buddhist movements in the UK. Probably in terms of the number of centers they have, they are the absolute largest, although some of the “centers” are no more than rooms rented for an evening class. They have a strong expansionist policy.

The NKT is also famous for the “Dorje Shugden Controversy,” which is, to my mind, a rather weird dispute about a Tibetan Deity. Dorje Shugden is a deity who has been worshipped in Tibetan Buddhism since the 1700s. However, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama came to the conclusion that Shugden is not an enlightened being but is a worldly figure, and he first spoke out against his worship and then issued a ban on the practice. Since Geshe Kelsang Gyatso is a firm believer in Shugden, this caused a bitter dispute between the NKT and the Dalai Lama. This puts the NKT in the unfortunate position of being opposed to one of the most popular and revered figures in the world.

This particular story, however, has nothing at all to do with the Dorje Shugden dispute, which is a phenomenon I find weird (it’s a dispute over a figure I consider to be purely imaginary). It seems to have to do more with tensions between an individual, and legally autonomous, local center of the NKT, and the central organization itself, to the point where the central NKT is attempting a takeover. Whether or not they have good reason to do that I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem that they have the legal right to do so, if indeed the local centers are constituted as independent charities with their own boards of trustees.

Bearing in mind that we only have one side of the story presented here, the Maitreya Buddhist Centre, which is a charity registered under English law and with its own board of trustees, ended up with a resident teacher, Kelsang Chodor, who made organizational decisions that were unpopular with the board. A teacher who was asked to stop teaching refused to do so, and when Chodor bypassed the trustees in some of his decision making he refused to meet with them. The newspaper article outlines the background and explains the build-up of the conflict:

A volunteer at the Maitreya Buddhist Centre claims “a traumatic and bitter dispute” has left this former haven of peace changed forever.

Now the building in Sea Road is locked with no sign of when it will be opened again.

Andrew Durling helped set up the meditation centre having been at the start of New Kadampa Tradition meditation classes in Bexhill.

He was one of the trustees when the charity was registered and was responsible for the oversight of administration.

The centre became established and thrived with up to 50 people a week attending regular meditation classes led by resident teacher Lam-ma and other teachers she appointed.

However since she retired there has been a breakdown in the relationship between NKT and the centre’s management team, and from there Andrew and others have struggled to reach agreement with the head office based in Cumbria.

One of the trustees claims that the central NKT tried to replace the board of trustees, which would seem to be an illegal course of action:

The Charity Commission has now replied to the submission made to it by the charity trustees of Maitreya Buddhist Centre many weeks ago. The key element of that reply was that the attempts by NKT head office back at the beginning of March to remove the existing trustees of the centre and to replace them with trustees of the NKT’s own choosing was invalid and a breach of the centre’s own constitution

As the newspaper article puts it, “This appears to have become a struggle for control between a handful of volunteers and the umbrella organization which has more than 1,000 branches throughout the country.”

The blog also alleges that the NKT made “repeated threats of litigation” against the center.

From an organizational point of view I find this fascinating, partly because the organization I’m part of (Triratna) is similarly constituted in such a way that individual centers are independent. But what’s difference we don’t have a “head office” that could attempt a takeover. The most that could happen if a center were, for example, to go off the rails, is that the center could be told that they could no longer consider themselves to be affiliated with the parent organization. This actually happened once, with our Croydon center, where the Order member in charge of the situation there had created a kind of personality cult based on manipulation and bullying. He wasn’t the only person involved, because he had created a kind of “gang” that maintained control using the same techniques he himself employed. After attempts were made to correct the situation through dialogue, Sangharakshita, then founder of the Triratna Order, told the board of trustees that they would have to change their ways or cease being affiliated with the rest of the Triratna Community. And things did change as a result, with the ringleader leaving both the Croydon center and the Order.

The Bexhill situation is also interesting to me simply because it’s got to the point where a Buddhist center is no longer functional because of internal politics. That’s quite an extraordinary situation, and I’ve never head of that happening before. I’m not sensing a lot of dialog going on, which is unfortunate. Of course we don’t really know what’s going on. I’ve only seen one side of the story, and even if I was aware of both sides it would be impossible to be certain of the facts. Unfortunately, as the newspaper reports, “The head office was approached several times for a comment this week but none was forthcoming.”

The NKT has quite a traditional authoritarian structure (traditional for Tibetan Buddhism, anyway), where monks and nuns are basically told where to go and when. The NKT tries to be highly centralized, with the guru making decisions for the local centres, but the local centers are (as I understand it) legally separate entities, and so ultimately the guru (or the central organization) has limited legal control over them. That suggests a fragility in the NKT. Two ways to hold a local center in place when it has problems with the central organization are dialogue and authoritarianism. In this case the NKT seems to have adopted an authoritarian approach, through wielding power.

This following excerpt from the blog reveals a fascinating twist in how this power is being used:

A website purporting to be the official site of Maitreya Buddhist Centre, using the charity’s registration number and using its registered address, is currently active. However, this website is entirely without the sanction of the current legally valid trustees and management team of Maitreya Buddhist Centre, and is in direct conflict with the website that has always been the real official site of Maitreya Buddhist Centre, a site registered with the Charity Commission. This fraudulent website has therefore been reported to the relevant authorities, including the police and the Charity Commission.

Creating an alternative website for the center — one not controlled by the trustees — is an extreme step, or mis-step. It suggests that the NKT is struggling, within an authoritarian mind-set, to bring one of its centers back into the fold of central control.

This tactic, of setting up an alternative website, is one I’ve seen the NKT use before, albeit in a different form. Several years ago, members of a Buddhist Center in England were surprised to discover that the NKT had set up a website using the name of their center, which was not in any way NKT affiliated. This was almost certainly a breach of trademark law as well as a breach of UK charity law. It was also rather unpleasant — a kind of spiritual “phishing” attempt. The situation, fortunately, was resolved through dialog between the two organizations.

Back in the Bexhill power struggle, the blog also describes a new management team being sent in to wrest control from the elected trustees:

It appears that Maitreya Buddhist Centre has now been ‘taken over’ and a new management team is attempting to take charge of the premises. This is as flagrant a violation of charity and company law as it is possible to achieve …

Generally, if the board of trustees is properly constituted, then an outside entity has no legal standing to take over the center. Even the parent body — the NKT — can consider itself to be only the spiritual, rather than the legal, head of the center. [This may not be the case with the NKT, although I believe that charities are meant to be independent and not under central control.]

It seems that having opted for an authoritarian approach, the NKT is finding that it’s not a viable option, or at least not a straightforward one.

I take no pleasure in reporting these events. The situation must be intensely painful for all concerned, and I truly hope that dialog and trust can be restored.

I wonder, however, whether dialogue is now even possible in Bexhill now that the authoritarian path has been chosen? Trust is more easily broken than restored.

This pain is evident both in the comments of Andrew Durling, one of the trustees, who has been at the epicenter of the conflict:

“Whoever ‘wins’ (so called) the situation will find there is nothing left. I am as guilty as anyone else.

“This bold experiment in bringing buddhist meditation to Bexhill has, temporarily at least, failed.”

He said the community had been irrevocably split, with some backing him and others supporting NKT, and added: “It is anyone’s guess whether it will be alright.”

It’s also evident in the comments of a woman who had been attending classes at the Maitreya Centre:

“They have taken my place of worship away from me. It isn’t a proper buddhist centre anymore.”

She added: “It is just awful.

“I won’t go back there, it’s a mess. I am really sad. I want to say – how dare you do this[?]”

As the Buddha said, “Spiritual friendship is the whole of the spiritual life.” It’s worth remembering that as we witness this painful conflict.


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Being ex - NKT Buddhist Controvery blog
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 16, 2015 12:41AM

Being ex - NKT Buddhist Controvery blog


Insightful article. Over two hundred comments.

A few quotations:


EKC says:

May 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Lessons to learn … that something that feels good may not be good … that when your instincts say “this is wrong” … learn to follow them, not go to someone more sucked in than you are for soothing down … that when you know a group has harmed others don’t wait until it harms you personally to leave it! And never never ever go along with something where the group justification mantra is that outsiders (including your close friends and family) cannot understand. What made us think we were so special?!

It’s good to know in oneself the tendency to ignore warning signs in favour of some feelgood elements, to be on the alert, and to have others who have been through it to check things out with.

Exit Costs


Fleadle says:

December 20, 2012 at 9:34 pm

"...That feeling of belonging in the NKT is very powerful. I have just lost an NKT friend of 10 years because I chose to speak out about the treatment of my friends at the hands of Geshe-la and because I was mistreated by my resident teacher. She told me via e-mail she could no longer see me, this stung though I get it, I know how deep in it we can get and how fearful it is to get out.(her whole life is NKT her husband too) It is sad to say but for everyone in the NKT until they suffer mistreatment they are unlikely to leave, because leaving is scary


anonymous says:

May 23, 2012 at 3:30 am

Yes, yes – the secret here, in my view, is not to see the NKT, or any other external force as something that has harmed you, because it is our failings and weaknesses that lead us to give up our inner conscience, ‘inner guru’. If you act like a door mat, then hey, guess what, you get treated like one!
Neither the NKT, nor I suspect any other Buddhist organization worth its salt, is going to deliberately cause you mental and emotional harm.
I have only myself and my ignorance to blame. I won’t fall into the same trap again, that’s for sure, but in the process I irrevocably lost something precious....



May 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I disagree with an attitude that the NKT causes no harm, we brought it all on ourselves. There are many in the organisation who don’t intend harm, yet still perpetuate it, and there are the greater harms like the sudden closing of residential centres and the sexual abuses of Elliott and Wass to consider too. One thing NKT does is gradually attune its members into more and more harmful actions, so that eventually they become AD or EPC and unquestioningly do things that are harmful like evict people or bully money and unpaid work out of them.

To read these and other comments go here



One commenter referenced an article by David Kay analyzing power struggles at NKT in Kay's book

"Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain: Transplantation, Development, Adaptation"


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2015 12:46AM by corboy.

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Re: First hand accounts of ex NKT/New Kadampa now on youtube
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: April 22, 2015 02:22AM

I'm curious as to why the UK seems to be dominated by the "chain store" approach to Tibetan Buddhism. It seems that it's mostly international and UK-wide Buddhist organizations that set up sanghas, all of which have cult issues, and most of which are of questionable legitimacy, from what I understand. (Please feel free to correct me, or expand on this, as you see fit.)

Diamond Way Buddhism
Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

There seem to be very few, if any, locally-owned an operated groups, but maybe we just don't hear about the ones people operate from their homes, or the ones initiated by a local grass-roots community effort. In the US it's mostly small, independent sanghas, or a local institution that was founded by a lineage head who immigrated to the US back in the early days of TB (examples: Sakya Monastery, Seattle; the Nyingma Center, Berkeley, CA)

It's a little worrisome that the scene in the UK is dominated by people of questionable repute and qualification.

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BBC News story about New Kadampa Tradition
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 30, 2023 10:11PM

Religion: Anglesey dad fears Buddhist group brainwashed son


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