I would like to pick up some thoughts of you:"But this is not to say that Geshe-la is wrong in advising us to respect all religious traditions and practice only one of them purely, without picking and mixing."
I think it is wrong. Why? This concept is based on grasping for inherent existent purity and leads to attachment towards one's own school and either hostility or neglecting of the values of other schools of thought. You might argue this is not true in NKT, my own observance and experience within NKT proves for me that it is true. Also expert Robert Lifton says that at the heart of all fundamentalism lies a concept of purity. People within NKT develop even fear to read other books than "Geshe-la's". I assume you didn't read reliable accounts on the history of NKT where Geshe-la himself forced the removal of books not written by him? Very strange example he has given with this, hasn't he?
More over "the Dharma is pure" (for the sake of yourself and others please read the texts of Maitreya/Asanga to understand this.) Bodhisattvas are said in the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras to seek millions of millions doors of dharma. So they open up and are looking hard for any Dharma there is, and this action is praised by the Buddha, not to be satisfied to look for all the Dharma there is. The Perfection of Wisdom Sutras nor any Sutra of the Buddha are saying one should neglect any Dharma and focus only on one. To help others a Bodhisattva seeks millions of millions of doors of Dharma, and this is what all the great wise teachers in Buddhism did, including Atisha, Je Tsongkhapa etc. Also; what is the problem of "mixing" "pure Dharma! with "pure Dharma" isn't the result of this 'mixing' "pure Dharma"? You find in the texts of Maitreya and Asanga that "the Dharma is pure from the start" Dharma is never impure. What strange conceptions and grasping are at the heart of a political approach to the Dharma of dividing Dharma into pure and impure Dharma? Such an approach is strange indeed and it is very worthwhile to question it.
It is also questionable if one can call NKT a "tradition", it is derived from the Gelug tradition, and it claims to be totally independent from it. So it is something new, a new movement. When does a movement become a tradition?
However, if you are happy with it, fine :-)"It would only be a problem if my delivery was 'off message' due to wrong understanding or reliance upon the teachings of other traditions. NKT students are encouraged to give dharma teachings because it deepens our understanding of Geshe-la's books …"
What is wrong to learn from the Dharma taught in other schools which might be of greatest benefit for you and others? Why ignoring the Dharma Buddha and the Wise have taught (just presented by other schools) when all these Dharmas are just means to liberate and to enrich the mind?
I would like to offer some quotes of the Wise:»A wise person will have faith in the teachings of all orders, will love the Dharma found in each just as a mother cherishes all her children. A wise person's mind is vast like the sky, with room for many teachings, many insights, many meditations. But the mind of an ignorant sectarian is limited, tight, and narrow like a vase that can only hold so much. It is difficult for such a mind to grow in Dharma because of its self-imposed limitations. The difference between the wise Buddhist and the sectarian Buddhist is like that between the vastness of space and the narrowness of a vase.«
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye
»And from this day on in every life, with the special motivation that holds others dearer than self, bless me to protect the Buddha's teaching like my life, as you Mahatma, have done. And you in whose heart or pure appearance there is no sectarian prejudice please clear away the trouble to the Buddha's teaching raised by the specter of sectarianism in those who become partisan when they hold you as supreme.«
(The final two verses of Taktsang Lotsawa's Biography of Tsongkhapa, Sarnath 1967, p. 619)
»Just as a king overpowered by self-interest Is not worthy of being the protector of the kingdom, A sectarian person is not worthy of being a holder of the dharma. Not only that, he is unworthy of upholding even his own tradition.«»The noble ones share a single ultimate view, but arrogant ones bend that to their own interests. Those who show all the teachings of the Buddha as without contradiction can be considered learned people. But who would be foolish enough to think that those who cause discord are holders of the dharma?«
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye
OK, you could argue that one could get confused reading "other" traditions (NKT is Gelug why not reading their texts an those of Je Tsongkhapa?) but the problem with "getting confused reading other tradition's text" is the lack of inner wisdom and inner understanding; only from this confusion can arise. So instead of limiting the mind one should understand one's own school firmly and then reading other schools will only lead to a deeper understanding, as Jamgon Kongtrul also says:»The scholars and siddhas of the various schools make their own individual presentations of the dharma. Each one is full of strong points and supported by valid reasoning. If you are well grounded in the presentations of your own tradition, then it is unnecessary to be sectarian. But if you get mixed up about the various tenets and the terminology, then you lack even a foothold in your own tradition. You try to use someone else's system to support your understanding, and then get all tangled up, like a bad weaver, concerning the view, meditation, conduct, and result. Unless you have certainty in your own system, you cannot use reasoning to support your scriptures, and you cannot challenge the assertions of others. You become a laughing stock in the eyes of the learned ones. It would be much better to possess a clear understanding of your own tradition.
In summary, one must see all the teachings as without contradiction, and consider all the scriptures as instructions. This will cause the root of sectarianism and prejudice to dry up, and give you a firm foundation in the Buddhas teachings. At that point, hundreds of doors to the eighty-four thousand teachings of the dharma will simultaneously be open to you.«
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye
NKT has also the problem that their "purity-complex" leads them also to not to read the texts written by Je Tsongkhapa or other Gelug masters, how pity!. Such narrow mindedness is an innovation and "progress" even compared with the underlying sectariansim within Tibetan Buddhism ;-)"NKT students are encouraged to give dharma teachings because it deepens our understanding of Geshe-la's books"
Dharma teachings should be given for the sake of others not for one's own sake, though as a side effect they are helping also oneself. So I find this a bit of a strange approach. The motvation should be compassion and not to increas one's own understanding of certain books.
Also there is a blind belief within NKT that Geshe-la's books explain all the Dharma and teachings there are to tame the mind of individuals but they don't do this. In important points the books and NKT teachings are unclear and vague too and they do not explain properly the profound depths of certain issues like "faith" for instance. Based on this NKT fellows develop also superficial and wrong understandings and this leads them finally astray in their very practice. As a start you can read this investigation of "faith" within NKT: [www.amazon.com
] However, this doesn't mean that there are not many good points in arguments and explanations there too. But its not that perfect as most NKT followers think and it is not perfect enough, I think, that it were sufficient to read only "Geshe-la's books".
Sticking only to NKT books might turn out to be like the run of a hamster in a wheel, self-circling thinking without deeper understanding. This is especially true for the use and abuse of the term "faith" within NKT."On the other hand, it is distressing when other Buddhists imply that I am a pariah because of my association with NKT, and in my view the organisation would be negligent if it did not defend itself against unfounded allegations that sow doubts and worries in the minds of sincere practitioners."
Its never nice to hear bad things about things one loves. The question for me is rather, how to deal with it? Why are those things appearing to my mind? What do they have to do with me?
However, to sum the complete issue as to "defend itself against unfounded allegations that sow doubts and worries in the minds of sincere practitioners." is really very one-sided, isn't it? Others are saying and expressing that they are/were harmed by NKT
in many different ways, see for instance these videos [www.xtranormalbuddhist.co.uk
] but you are claiming what they say is unfounded? Do you know how many people NKT has harmed and who have finally also given up the Dharma in this life completely? Do you know about their side of the story? Their experience is unfounded, your experience is founded, you are pure (or sincere) others are not?"Much of the criticism aimed at NKT appears to me to be politically motivated nit-picking and a direct result of the controversy that was ignited when it publicly opposed HH Dalai Lama's pronouncements on Dorje Shugden back in the 1990's."
This is not true, and this is excatly what NKT wants to make others believe, but it is wrong, because much of the criticism is based on former follower's experiences and not on political motivation. So it is coming from NKT'S own "sincere" and "pure" practitioners ... There is a forum of more than thousand people called »New Kadampa Survivors« you can ignore them to be able to stick to the NKT, however, they have something to say which is hard to claim it were politically motivated, see e.g. [buddhismnewkadampa.wordpress.com
]"The NKT is no different to any other charity in seeking regular donations of time and money."
According to your point of view and background it is like this, according to others (including me) there is a big difference ;-)"My spiritual practice remains faithful to NKT and I will continue to engage wholeheartedly while circumstances allow, but hopefully without attachment."
All the best :-)
Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2012 03:41AM by Tenzin Peljor.