Wiac, I lack time for detailed discussion but maybe I can contribute with some points. When you say "What Im trying to say is that I am following instructions of Geshe Langri Tangpa, Geshe Chekawa, Lamrim of Atisha, Shantideva. And Chandrakirti is my ambition my goal!"
I would like to add - if you follow exclusively NKT - you follow their instruction as presented by the NKT/KG. This means you see these teachings through the glasses of Kelsang Gyatso and NKT. You may also follow only a superficial understanding of their teachings and these teachings may have been presented to you in a too radical, a less differentiated manner. But to really know this there is no way than receiving teachings from qualified teachers outside of the NKT. Since NKT as a completely self-referential system, as long as you only follow NKT this approach may give you the feeling this may be "the truth" what they teach, but you may recognize outside of NKT that the presentation of NKT is rather superficial, lacks differentiation and is often black and white and rather fanatical. And here starts already the problem with NKT:
If the teacher presenting the teachings is not a valid teacher or his teachings are not genuine, if the teachings lack differentiation or are wrong, are mixed with bias and personal views, or are based on a black and white understanding and a lack of deeper knowledge or even mixed with mind poisons (e.g. the teachings aim to keep the listener in the organization or to prevent that they go to other Buddhist teachers because the teacher is pride and feels, only he himself is the only genuine Buddhist teacher, then there are right from the start a lot of problems, especially for those who lack genuine knowledge what Buddhism, and especially the complex Tibetan Buddhism is all about, and how the behaviour, knowledge, modesty and humbleness of other Buddhist teachers is pervading them.
„What I want to know is how are people getting harmed, what is causing it?“ When the teachings are mixed with mind poisons and lead towards Nihilism or distortions of the teachings about the teacher-student-relationship, or to rejection and perversions of conventional reality (see the vile Dalai Lama attacks as one example), when they lead to pride and stupidity which prevent to realize what is correct and what is not correct, and when those teachings lead you to loose your freedom to go to other teachers, to receive teachings from other masters etc. then this can be considered to be harmful, can‘t it? Think about why the most promising spiritual children of Kelsang Gyatso, Gen Thubten and Gen Samden (both his announced successors), ended spiritual totally corrupted - not only this, Kelsang Gyatso covered up the abuses (and thereby prolonged them) until they became public in the internet.
The point is that many ex-NKT are convinced that „there is something rotten in Denmark“ or the „root is poisoned, hence the tree, the leaves and the fruits are poisoned“. But to recognize this poison and how it came into the own mind is not easy - especially for beginners who are just spiritual hungry and may be greedy for every spiritual food what is praised as being „pure“ etc. Those effected by the poisonous food may not be able to recognize it or may lack the brave to face what is going on in the own mind: some improvements but also some corruptions etc. how to put this all together? (NKT will say it is your negativity if you have doubts and also that it may be a "purification process" and exactly at this point the teachings go more and more into the direction of a "brainwashing". However, all this is a subtle and difficult to recognize process...)
I am not sure if your post is honest or just "damage control" of NKT. Until today NKT has not excused to the members they have damaged but instead they attack almost every critic or person who holds a different view than themselves as a „disgruntled ex-member“ or somewhat „unstable mental person“ „aggressive“ „homeless“ „liar“ etc. and instead of listening to them, NKT leadership and NKT members discredit critics or people who hold different beliefs than NKT on their „name and shame list“ in a rubric „behind the lies“ on their „new kadampa truth“ site, throwing the blame back to the critic as they have always done. Even if you may really try to be honest, NKT and their leadership is not. And how can honest discussion start if perception of events and modes of conduct are so different as it is indicated on your post: you claim „But now people are much calmer & more sensible & down to earth.“
how on earth can this be true taking only into consideration the slanderous, noisy and angry attacks against the Dalai Lama and even Buddhist organizations like ASA? (In the last campaign NKT was far more calmer than in the present one.) Sensible? Interesting. What I see in some parts of your post is rather a confirmation how I know NKT / NKT members: perception of oneself and the perception of others about NKT / NKT members are the opposite - they are completely different; what NKT see as white, Buddhists outside NKT see as black, what NKT see as black is seen outside of NKT as white, not to speak about gray tones and colors... It is difficult to find a basis for discussion here. If you / NKT members believe the Dalai Lama is a liar and a hypocrite, a non-spiritual mundane politician who destroys the pure Buddhadharma, and those who see his qualities are deluded, while contrary to this NKT is the pure realm of Vajrayogini with a pure leader free from any fault and full of intelligent and pure practitioners [who often think they know the Dharma better than the masters outside of NKT], what is the point of discussion? Where there is a basis for it? There is no basis for discussion I think. What would be a good basis for discussion then? The wise masters I met outside of NKT only shake their heads to show their sadness and disagreement with what NKT is doing. How sad to be looked at with pity by the wise!
I think - to make it short for today (before 11th Dec. I have no time to write more) - the issue is mainly about a valid recognition or insight if NKT is helpful or harmful, if the leadership is based on valid Buddhist teacher(s) who is/are genuine and who has/have integrity.
I think, the key to understand all of what critics say and what NKT say lies in the ability of correct discrimination and being able to look from different perspectives and putting things together, and the capacity to discriminate this correctly based on knowledge. So it is, I think, really a good idea that you open up and try to get a broader perspective of how cults are defined etc. The key point to get it right seems to me: a good knowledge of Buddhism, relying on one’s intuition, being brave to question things and one’s own perceptions and views, without being attached to sides - this means to be unbiased. Based on knowledge and open unbiased investigation one will understand the situation/facts as they are, free from to many projections which derive from either attachment, aversion or ignorance.
So for your journey to find out what‘s going on let me conclude here with Je Tsongkhapa’s advise:
„The defining characteristics of the student who relies upon the teacher
Aryadeva states in his Four Hundred Stanzas (Catuh-sataka):
"It is said that one who is non-partisan, intelligent, and diligent
Is a vessel for listening to the teachings.
The good qualities of the instructor do not appear otherwise
Nor do those of fellow listeners."
Aryadeva says that one who is endowed with the three qualities is suitable to listen to the teachings. He also says that if you have all these qualities, the good qualities of one who instructs you in the teachings will appear as good qualities, not as faults. In addition, he says that to such a fully qualified person the good qualities of fellow listeners will also appear as good qualities and not as faults.
It is stated in Candrakirti's commentary that if you, the listener, do not have all these defining characteristics of a suitable recipient of the teachings, then the influence of your own faults will cause even an extremely pure teacher who instructs you in the teachings to appear to have faults. Furthermore, you will consider the faults of the one who explains the teachings to be good qualities. Therefore, although you might find a teacher who has all the defining characteristics, it may be difficult to recognize their presence.
Thus, it is necessary for the disciple to have these three characteristics in their entirety in order to recognize that the teacher has all the defining characteristics and in order then to rely on that teacher.
With respect to these three characteristics, "nonpartisan" means not to take sides. If you are partisan, you will be obstructed by your bias and will not recognize good qualities. Because of this, you will not discover the meaning of good teachings. As Bhavaviveka states in his Heart of the Middle Way (Madhyamaka-hrdaya):
"Through taking sides the mind is distressed, Whereby you will never know peace."
"Taking sides" is to have attachment for your own religious system and hostility toward others'. Look for it in your own mind and then discard it, for it says in the Bodhisattva Vows of Liberation (Bodhi-sattva-pratimoksa):
"After giving up your own assertions, respect and abide in the texts of the abbot and master."
Question: Is just that one characteristic enough?
Reply: Though non-partisan, if you do not have the mental force to distinguish between correct paths of good explanation and counterfeit paths of false explanation, you are not fit to listen to the teachings. Therefore, you must have the intelligence that understands both of these. By this account you will give up what is unproductive, and then adopt what is productive.
Question: Are just these two enough?
Reply: Though having both of these, if, like a drawing of a person who is listening to the teachings, you are inactive, you are not fit to listen to the teachings. Therefore, you must have great diligence. Candrakirti's commentary says "After adding the three qualities of the student to the two qualities of being focused and having respect for the teaching and its instructor, there are a total of five qualities."
Then, these five qualities can be reduced to four:
(1) striving very diligently at the teaching,
(2) focusing the mind well when listening to the teaching,
(3) having great respect for the teaching and its instructor, and
(4) discarding bad explanations and retaining good explanations.
Having intelligence is the favourable condition that gives rise to these. Being non-partisan gets rid of the unfavourable condition of taking sides.
Investigate whether these attributes that make you suitable to be led by a guru are complete; if they are complete, cultivate delight. If they are incomplete, you must make an effort to obtain the causes that will complete them before your next life. Therefore, know these qualities of a listener. If you do not know their defining characteristics, you will not engage in an investigation to see whether they are complete, and will thereby ruin your great purpose.“
(Lam Rim Chen Mo, p 75ff, Snow Lion Publications)
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2009 06:23AM by Tenzin Peljor.