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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 13, 2010 11:52PM

Alexander Berzin has a set of archives here. It contains excerpts from his book
'Relating to a Spiritual Teacher'


The boddhisattva precepts are the chief reference point.


Though not all agree with the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 Traditions which govern the group governance of 12 step associations may be a useful tool by which to assess whether a particular community is healthy. One of the most useful traditions is 'We place principles before personalities.' The teacher or guru is there to serve the Buddhist tradition and practices--the Buddhist traditions and pratices are not supposed to serve the personality of the guru.

A center is supposed to support Buddhist practice. The centers own fame and glamour and public image must NEVER compete with the well being of members or the honesty of thier practice.

The qurirks and politics of a center must never become a distraction from what you've arrived to learn.

This same Zen center may be unique in that its code of ethics states that members must not use the center as a place to recruit clients or business partnerships of any kind.

A community can be measured according to whether it supports the practice of all persons who enter with honesty, curiosity and courtesy.

A community and its leader/s should have no favoritism for those who are wealthy, famous, charming, or who match the leaders' political biases or erotic preferences.

A leader and community must be welcoming to the public but beware of seeking glamour or fame or become addicted to public image. Properly understood, glamour and name dropping are just as much intoxicants as drugs, lust or alcohol.

If there is a to be a difference in rank within a commuity that rank should serve only to clarify levels of skill, not support an unhealthy glamorization of power.

A community can plan intelligently for the future but must never treat members on a use and dispose basis. No member should be encouraged to donate extensive work time or money to a community at the expense of his or her family, or at the expense of planning for his or her old age or future medical needs.

Abuse by proxy


This quote is from someone who served time in a non buddhist situation that later turned into a tangle. But it sums up how to tell whether a group or residential community is falling short of its stated mission.

You're there for the stated mission (practicing Buddhism), not to serve the unconscious emtional needs of leaders who are still unfree.

Here is what this other person said. This is supplied not as an endorsement of what this author of this quote is currently doing, but as a description of how things often go wrong at practice communities.

One person wrote of how someone recovering from addiction was a senior student at an NKT center. The author describes a situation from 30 years ago, where a teacher with a drinking problem tried to function as a leader and left a legacy of confusion for many students--a confusion that added to the stuff they were already trying to figure out.


The problem was that (the teacher's) unresolved issues would become the collective unconscious for the entire community.

'Rather than simply helping students resolve psychological and spiritual issues, they soon found themselves entangled in the trappings of a man who desperately needed to control others in order to accomplish his own survival amidst the ongoing nightmare of freeing himself from his own demons.



Everyone did (practice) related to their (own personal riddles)but so many of us got caught in the daily trappings of “working” for the Center and rather than this meaning that (the Dharma) would be made available to others, it turned into a merry go round of activity that kept the organization functioning for the sake of the organization.



Here the “Children of an Alcoholic Teacher” theme kicks in. After years of reflection and analysis one could see that something was wrong with the Center. We all believed through repetitive public relations that “(the Teacher)” was the man. He was the Master Teacher. Bios on Mr X were put out introducing him this way and of course we all believed it because we were studying “Truth” therefore everything had to be true, right?

"They would say that X was the embodiment of Love and that he was a man who really cared about his students.

"But I never found that to be the case. First off he was too busy to spend any time with anyoneand then it was a quick hello and you’d give him a kiss on the cheek and be on your way.

And there were the stories about X that seemed to go a bit beyond the believable. Everyone he had met and knew, all of the history he was involved in, and all of the things he had done.

"And when you began to question any of this with anyone they would get real uptight which reinforced the “secret” thing and the “rule of silence”. After all, your own therapy (or in Buddhist terms, your practice) was at stake so why rock the boat?

And even though we were all supposed to understand that each of us was special and had infinite potential, still... there was something a little more special about (our teacher).



Apparently the illusion created for the “persona of the Teacher” was important in order that people would believe that the man was bigger than life and lived a in a world of mystery and glamour.

"So many stories faded from people’s minds but they left their impression on the student body and created the mystery that surrounded the man.

"But with so much rigidity and the need for everyone to keep silent about the (Leader)the simplicity of Truth was sometimes left on the bookshelf while the emotional turmoil that lived on in the students from their past continued to haunt them with no where to turn.

The student was told to believe in the techniques and the tools that they were being taught yet so many found themselves continuing to try to figure out what was going on around them in the (Center).



Outwardly the Center attained little success. And inwardly many were left in shambles not knowing what to do about their own lives because the Center became their life.

'Sadly the Center did not present any guidelines for students to move on but only to continue to work to keep the organization functioning and to make sure that (the Teacher)was taken care of.

Everyone in the Center felt somewhat isolated because they knew that their problems were their own and yet the important thing was (taking care of the Teacher or preserving in their own minds the pristine glamour of the teachers mythologized image).

There was more energy expended to get people to volunteer and keep the machine running than to reach a hungry world by presenting living testaments of inner success by allowing individuals the freedom to express their own divinity

" Students turned inward, not for introspection, but for isolation.

By denying what was happening the organization did not have to change. To be angry would be to reject the ( Teacher or the Dharma). To reject the Teacher would be to find yourself all alone.

(material in brackets has been changed by Corboy to universalize the author's insights. The orginal can be read here. )


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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 14, 2010 12:15AM

Here it is, nicely condensed:


When I asked the exit counselor, Joe Szimhart, his own thoughts about truth seeking he replied:


"Truth is not what you find in the end, in the packaged religion, it is a gift you get along the way if the way you practice is moral, elegant and socially sound."

soyjoy, I agree with you. ..."

There is nothing inherently wrong with knowlege or being taught knowledge, which can be openly questioned, discussed in civil, adult ways with transparency of intention, it's the CULT around the knowledge that is sick..."


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Some new information
Posted by: Tenzin Peljor ()
Date: July 16, 2010 02:50AM

Hi there,
I added some new information on my blog with respect to NKT.
It could be helpful for some to read a post about threats of legal actions against others by NKT and how NKT is launching a new campaign to attract new members by offering events in bookshops and collaborating with Waterstones. The latter post also includes an internal training manual by Tharpa, NKTs publishing arm:

New Kadampa Tradition threatened to sue NBO too
Waterstones’ Naivity Helps the Spread of the New Kadampa Tradition

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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: whatisacult ()
Date: August 15, 2010 07:15AM

Hi whatisacult and everyone,

It's great that you shared that you didn't get a response from the NKT office, it's valuable evidence for others in their healing. We weren't the only ones who were given no healthy dialogue when the sheen started to wear off.

As well as asking "What is a cult" you might ask "Are my thoughts and feelings valued and respected when I search for truths that don't fit in with the "message", am I encouraged to continue with these enquiries with the support of those in authority?"

To get out of an institutionalised state of mind we ultimately have to trust ourselves, no mean feat for many of us with low self worth/low self esteem, many people in NKT have previously been abused,mistreated prior to joining.

Hey I havent logged in for a while thankyou for your reply.
Im looking to publish a website requesting change in the NKT. Ive written it already and asked many people how it comes across. But that fact that I can ask noone in the NKT this is rather telling. I have to keep who I am anonymous because I am still in the NKt. I just feel like if I knew who was bordering on leaving perhaps I could ask them but still my identity would probably get found out. So I cant openly do my enquiries nor can I get a healthy dialogue.
The NKT has changed a lot over the last 20 years. The teachers focus more on this instruction rather than before when there were many charismatic examples, which is better. But the administration has become more controlling and people have to follow methods dictated by someone 100s of miles away now that there is a set rigid way of doing things. Before when the people who ran the centre were in charge it sometimes went well & sometimes not.

Then there would be the problem of promoting the website. It is very easy to find anti NKT and pro NKt websites, but how do you find a website about reform? The pro NKT will say my website is bad & not to go there. The anti NKT will say my website is bad because it might stop people leaving by giving an idea it could be reformed. Yet there is a vast group of people in the NKT who would be interested in pressurising for reform.

What do people think? How can I communicate with the people who want this sort of thing

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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: Tenzin Peljor ()
Date: August 15, 2010 11:54PM

I hope you don't mind if I answer you?

With respect to your wish to look for fellows who wish to change NKT from within to the better, you might contact Robertect from the forum []

He and some others were for a short time members of the NKS but felt it would be better to make an own group dedicated to change NKT from within to the better.
Subsequently they founded this yahoo group above.

Personally I have experienced Robert as a genuine, fair and good minded person.
Maybe he can help you.

Though - based on reasoning and experience - I doubt profound change were possible in NKT it is always worth a trial.

However, personally I compare NKT with East Germany (there are a lot of similarities), when the faults of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) system became obvious even for convinced people, many tried to change the GRD to the better or to save it, but it didn't work. I think it didn't work because there was no basis for a deep change which was really needed because the systen was "too rotten from the root" (e.g. greed for power and to control others pervaded the mind of the leadership, as well as intolerance for the opinions of others or their diffent way of thinking, which they felt threatens them) and the ideological concepts of Communism—as they were understood by the GDR leadership (Honecker etc:)—were unrealistic, narrow minded, and full of delusions and pride (they had a lot of absurd propaganda, e.g. Überholen ohne einzuholen, claiming they are better than the "evil imperialists") ...

The "Betonköpfe" (conrete heads, which means people who cling fnatically to their believes and reffered to the Communist leadership) and the wall were the manifestations of the narrow minded, and self-centred thinking which is common in dictators' minds / dictatorships. The people could get free only by stripping the concrete heads from their power (public and peaceful protests) and finally by approaching the wall threatening the leadership by pressuring them to let them go out of the country. (Actually there were many many many causes and conditions why the wall broke down.) But the key point is that later people realised that many had developed a wall within the mind, and the real struggle is to break down the mental wall. Sadly concrete heads do not want to break down their inner wall, they do everything to keep it. There is no basis for communication or only in sofar as it helps them to keep their power...

Change without the help of non-NKT masters and truly experienced Buddhist Sangha + change without the acknowledgement of faults by the leadership and a genuine desire to improve and to learn from the own faults, I think, is wishful thinking.

But this is only my understanding. It would be nice if I am wrong here but I fear I am not.

Nevertheless Good Luck and inspiration on your way.

PS: I have a problem with the distinction of Anti-NKT and Pro-NKT. Critisism is not necessarily Anti-NKT nor is it pro-NKT to tell about good points of the NKT.

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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: whatisacult ()
Date: August 16, 2010 01:14AM

Dear Tenzin

Thankyou for your reply. Indeed I think you forgot but I was hoping you would offer your opinion but you said you were unable to because you were about to go on holiday!
The yahoo group you mention is closed and has been since November. Most people are on facebook now & relaxing talking about other topics.
The main point I see is that we are all creating karma, and I dont know what direction to choose at my crossroads. I think comment on my website will help me decide. I put nkt reform in google & there is nothing.

I dont think wishes are powerless. if you have a wish its likely a lot of other people have that same wish. Then you all put your heads together & make requests until people get so sick of your requests they fulfill them. I remember that story in the movie shawshank redemption where Tim Robbins wrote a letter every day or week for 6 months until a library grant was given for the prison.

Anyway the survivors group has made a big impact. I have spoke to a lot of people in the NKT who dont have any administrative positions who have joined it simply to try to figure out how to solve these problems & upsets. I think a lot of them do genuinely care about what has been happening and are thinking about these things. But I cant ask any of them to review my website. Because I cannot risk my identity being revealed.

Ive written a letter to the nkt office but I cant click send. I just want everyone to be happy I dont want to start this course of action because what if Im destroying the reputation of Buddhism? Do the ancient teachings also say if you perform negative actions towards the Buddha Dharma or Sangha you create huge obstacles & negativity? From what Ive read Shantideva of the 7th century says this repeatedly so its not modern.

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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: Tenzin Peljor ()
Date: August 16, 2010 07:26PM

Dear wiac, since you wrote me also personally we have now a double talk one in public one privately. I hope we are able to keep both threads seperately.

You say: "I dont think wishes are powerless."
Wishes have power, but you could also wish that you get not sick anymore in this life or that you don't die. But no matter how much you wish things which are unrealistic from an ordinary point of view, they won't be fulfilled. However, deathlessness is possible by attaining Nirvana with the appropriate methods. So if you really understand the functioning of the NKT and you have the right methods, there might be a way. BUT on the other hand, nobody attains Nirvana who does not strive for it, similarly nobody can create a profound change within NKT if the leadership is unwilling to allow change. And as long as they feel threatened by other opinions, critisicm and other Budhhist masters and the opinion of the non-NKT Sangha and even threaten them to sue them, there is just no basis for change. And so it was within East Germany, the concrete heads didn't like change. The change started btw by a powerful leader of another country (Gorbatschow, SU) but unlike East Germany NKT is not involved in any confederation in which they are just a part of a greater group. Maybe there is some change when KG has passed away...

Sometimes one has to check carefully if a ship is actual sinking and if it and the people can be really rescued or not. If neither the ship nor the people can be rescued, one should rescue oneself, instead of wasting energy for the impossible.

Maybe the key point is to investigate: Is change possible? How could this change be achieved? What favourite factors and what opposing factors are there? What allies do you have to achieve your goal?

You write:
"Anyway the survivors group has made a big impact. I have spoke to a lot of people in the NKT who dont have any administrative positions who have joined it simply to try to figure out how to solve these problems & upsets. I think a lot of them do genuinely care about what has been happening and are thinking about these things. But I cant ask any of them to review my website. Because I cannot risk my identity being revealed."

Mhm. Some of the admins wish to improve things but you cannot contact them to ask for help for you website? Why it is a problem that they know your idendity and why do you cannot ask them anonymously for help to review the website? You could also contact them anonymiously to review it and even to offer articles for your website. Why not?

What I see is that you have fear of those who should be your allies for change. Isn't this self-contradictory? Maybe you start be contacting Robert he might have found out what space or chances there are for change. I doubt that you will find allies for your plan and website on RickRoss or NKS. Allies must come from people directlly within NKT. On the other hand, you could just run your website and include a blog on it to invite discussion, maybe this helps?

You write:
"Ive written a letter to the nkt office but I cant click send. I just want everyone to be happy I dont want to start this course of action because what if Im destroying the reputation of Buddhism? Do the ancient teachings also say if you perform negative actions towards the Buddha Dharma or Sangha you create huge obstacles & negativity? From what Ive read Shantideva of the 7th century says this repeatedly so its not modern."

Oh my dear. Actually, here the problem of self-censorship becomes evident. (Self-censorship is also a big issue in dictatorships.)
I try my best to address this point in a nutshell.

1. You are not responsible for the feelings of others. Everybody is responsible for the own feelings and responses.
2. That the other person is responsible for the own feelings and responses does not mean one shouldn't be sensible.
3. What destroys Buddhism? ---> Think about this point.
4. Are actions which point out and correct and critisize wrong developments among Buddhists per se negative actions?
5. What is about the Buddha who said that in the future there will be monks who only use the terms of wisdon, concentration and ethical discipline but do actually not possess it: did he perform negative actions towards the 3 Jewels when he pointed out these coming faults? Check the Jataka tales and the life of the Buddha. Wasn't he very critical of Devadatta too, who was a fully ordained monk? Didn't the Sangha expell even Andanda for the faults he was accused of? Did the Buddha and the Sangha went to hell for this?

In some days I will hopefully be able to upload an axcellent article by a Buddhist master whose root Guru is also Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche, and you can see that he - as well as H.H. the Dalai Lama or Dzongzar Khyentse Rinpoche as well as others - are very critical but they do it out of concern and without hostility, so it is something good!

There are a lot of points to be investigated and to be checked more carefully so that the discriminating ablities increase. Good to have this discussion. Lets see.
BTW, here is a quote by the master Dagyab Rinpoche, whom I mentioned above:


»We Tibetans are aware of some Western followers who believe that Tibetan lamas are enlightened buddhas and infallible gurus, despite their all-too-human deficiencies. It is disillusioned Westerners, who in the course of their lives have experienced the total collapse of their ideals, and who cling to the wishful image of a holy and healing Tibetan tradition. Wherever angst, insecurity, and despair are strong, there is a corresponding desire for something superior, and Westerners project fatherly power upon the lamas. A false understanding of Buddhist teachings, especially that of the Vajrayana, has impelled these projections.

The myth of Tibet and the Western crisis of the senses thus work together to make a quick, but rather superficial, spread of Tibetan Buddhism possible. Tibetan Buddhism, however, has quite a bit more to offer than exotic symbolism and mystical sensations. It is a path that one must take seriously: Clear instructions and a disciplined, systematic practice are its foundation.


Although one can assume that most exiled lamas show a sincere interest in preserving and spreading their religious culture, their integrity and credibility are still endangered when they try to play the "great wise ones." This makes their work easier—at least at first—and people can easily approach them. With time, however, an unhealthy and ultimately unavoidable dynamic is set in motion. In contrast, the Dalai Lama exemplifies the positive approach with his personal and ideological credibility, especially insofar as he refuses to project certain images.

Historically speaking, one could claim that the Tibetan people idealized and even worshiped lamas. But the Dalai Lama is trying to oppose just such religious and social degeneration with his reforms. Pious Tibetans often listened to a lama teach publicly for days—without understanding a word. They were satisfied with the blessings his presence afforded and practiced Buddhism according to their own level of understanding. Such people were devoted indeed, but also naive and superstitious. Such is unacceptable for long-term growth among Tibetans, much less Westerners. It is my opinion that a progressive, critical investigation of the myth of Tibet and its effects is necessary in order to prevent harmful developments of this sort. After thirty years, we can now see that the positive aspects of the traditional image of Tibet have had rather negative consequences for the long-term propagation of Buddhism, while the negative aspects of this image, at the very least, have stimulated Tibetan lamas and their students to evaluate themselves critically and, in the end, fruitfully.«

Dagyab Kyabgön Rinpoche »Buddhism in the West and the Image of Tibet« in
Imagining Tibet - Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies, Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2001, pp. 386-388.

Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2010 07:45PM by Tenzin Peljor.

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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: Buddhist ()
Date: November 15, 2010 03:30AM

I came to the NKT in June of this year.

I will not be going back.

My time in the NKT was very short, but long enough to see that there is a culture of verbal abuse that is accepted by the management hierarchy.

While in Brazil the monk in charge of the building project (picture attached, man to the left of Kelsang Gyatso) on three occasions threatened me with physical violence in order to "break through my self cherishing." On one occasion he described to me how quickly he could kill me. It is my understanding from others who were on the project that his verbal assaults are typical of his behaviour, they have been ongoing for many years. The morale of the people on the building team when I arrived in Brazil was rock bottom. This person was verbally abusing people seemingly at random. Verbal threats were a daily occurance. "Who is going to get it next?" was the question every day. People were being terrorized by this mans anger and rage.

His managers, when they arrived, Rabchog and Genla Dekyong (The General Spiritual Director of the NKT), both told me that I should take it on the chin... There was no rational discussion of the possibility that his behaviour may be unacceptable. As a Buddhist I have been turning the other cheeck since I was a child.

I have found in my short experience in the NKT that any rational explanation of why one cannot attend puja, or more profoundly do certain types of work in Brazil is often met with the response that "you do not have enough faith" or "you need to do more for your guru" or some other such nonsense.

All of this is a form of abuse behavior, and complete and utter crap. This form of manipulation was manifest in Brazil, very obvious, and chillingly abusive.

I have been practicing Buddhism for a very long time. Buddha has been in my family since I was a child. The suggestion that I do not have enough faith in Buddha is so profoundly demented that it just makes me shake my head and feel compassion for those who have been polluted by the manipulative mind of control and abuse. It is a gangster mentality of uniformity, control, and manipulation.

That being said I have been so delighted to meet so many new friends from around the world. The teaching for me ultimately is the understanding that I already have all the tools I need in my own mind. I know that I simply need to continue my Zazen practice while following the 16 Bodhissattva precepts which I took many many years ago.

I have a profoundly deep respect for Kelsang Gyatso, it was delightful to meet him in person and hold him warmly in a friendly hug. It was also a blessing to give my Bodhissattva vow in his presence. Such a joy.

I will be around so to speak, not as a member of the NKT, but as a fellow Buddhist following the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. This experience has removed all traces of any faith I had in the practices of the New Kadampa Tradition.

In emptiness there is no tradition.

P.S. This letter is being sent to everyone in my e-mail list with the attached photo, so that anyone who is in the New Kadampa Tradition, is thinking of being involved in the NKT, or is a Buddhist can read this and think twice before practicing in this tradition, or volunteering to help in this tradition. I wish all of my friends in the NKT, with a heart full of love, the best in their spiritual practice. May everyone find the happiness they seek. I have found my happiness, and it is not in the NKT.

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Re: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (New Kadampa Tradition)
Posted by: donyo gyalpo ()
Date: May 05, 2011 07:58AM

Wow what an mixed discussion- I was recently considering attending a NKT meditation evening. I myself have been studying Buddhism for several years and most of my studies have been through the Sakya Tradition. Our local Centre recently closed and our resident teacher has been sent teaching thoughout Australia. As I started to miss the closeness of a Sanga I started looking for another centre that I could attend for general mediation etc. I found a NKT centre. Over the years I had heard some rather unsettling stories about the tradition, especially after their “fall out” with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Unsure on how to approach this I contacted my main teaching, an amazing Lama and Rinpoche from Tibet (from the Sakya Tradition), now living in Australia. This was his advice:

“New Kadampa Tradition is a large Gelukpa Buddhist group -doing as much Dharma work as anyone else. But they had a fall out with HH the Dalai Lama concerning Shugden practices and this has caused many confusions. They have come out in the public and held demonstrations against HH the Dalai Lama and this has hurt many people's feelings. I feel sorry for them and anyone affected by this saga. I rejoice their work but people find it very unsettling if they belong to a group which is rejected by many once they find out. But strong practitioners do not need to worry about these things as they can tolerate it.”

Whenever I am unsure, the famous Buddha quote always rings true:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense”- Shakyamuni Buddha.
Its as simple as that.

Even the most beginner student has that basic intuition of right and wrong. Listen to your feelings and always question the teachings, in a respectful way of course.

Donyo Gyalpo

May all beings have happiness and the cause of Happiness, May they be free from suffering and the cause of suffering, May they never part from the happiness that is without suffering, May they dwell in equanimity free from attachment and aversion to those near and far. OM AH HUM OM AH HUM OM AH HUM.

BEST QUOTE: “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense”- Shakyamuni Buddha.

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New Blog from a former NKT follower
Posted by: Tenzin Peljor ()
Date: June 13, 2011 02:20AM

Just to let you know, I've just recognized a new blog from a former NKT follower who was once very active in defending NKT and claims to be a professional writer. The blog does not accept comments but it is worthwhile to read.

It might take some time for the person to realize that an organization is always much like the head of it and that the state of NKT has in fact to do a lot with Kelsang Gyatso—but of course not only him.

While reading it, it became clear to me how hard it is to disassociate from NKT or to be cut off, on the other hand all those experiences from having followed or left a cult seem now to be far away for me (its now 11 years that I left the NKT). The past is gone, and for me it is hard to get a feeling what it actual means to be caught in a cult or to leave it.

I believe the experiences and writings at the blog written by a former follower of the NKT Sydney Centre in Australia, Mahasiddha Buddhist Centre, can benefit seekers, and former or present NKT followers to make up their own minds.

Here is the blog:

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