The NKT does have a problem with the way people view their teacher

Geshe Kelsang states the following on the New Kadampa Truth site:

“If our teacher appears to do something unusual, we have to ask them about it to find out why because the teacher may have made a mistake. If they are getting angry, we can say, “Please calm down.” Teachers and students need to help each other to grow spiritually which cannot happen if students ignore a teacher’s obvious faults. Students can respectfully point out such faults if there is benefit in doing so.”

Geshe Kelsang has many times given teachings on how to rely on a teacher publicly and in these teachings he is very clear that blindly following a teacher is not correct. This is what he says publicly. He encourages his teachers privately however ‘to be perfect and act in a way that promotes faith”, people take this in all manor of ways and often misuse or act in misguded ways trying to fulfil that advice. Even if Geshe Kelsang is giving proper advice on how to be a teacher the advice that comes through their teacher or teaching peers is never to confide your own personal troubles to students and maintain a distance from your students. If you do this your students can generate faith in you and you should alow your students to see you as pure.

We believe this is just setting both the resident teacher and their students up for huge disappointment and is actually hindering the practice of Dharma as Dharma is the experience of real life not the experience of a play called ‘look at me I’m being a teacher now you act like a student’.

It is our direct experience that the culture within Dharma centres is not in accordance with Geshe Kelsangs’ public wishes. There is a culture of worshipping the resident teacher. The resident teachers particularly in the main centres do not discourage this at all. Some even demand respectful attitudes and will feel a person who treats them as an equal ‘has no faith’ which is one of the main downfalls for a student practising with in the NKT.

Geshe Kelsang publicly encourages students to question their teacher but it is our experience that many people have been asked to leave their homes because they have challenged their teachers behaviour. Many people have experienced isolation from their peers within a Dharma centre because they do not agree with what a teacher does or says. Many people have been refused to be allowed to teach because the teacher of a centre has decided they do not like a person or because they feel challenged by that person.

It is understandable that people feel especially respectful to a person wearing robes, who seems to have a huge knowledge of the Dharma and who speaks the teachings off of the throne that change a persons heart and mind. Repeating something you have heard or read doesn’t make you enlightened.

Many people get to a point where they can not make any decisions about their life without seeking the advice of the resident teacher. Even to the point of asking what kind of diet they should be on, if they should get romantically involved with a person, if they can visit their family, What to do about the pains they are experiencing due to their meditation practice, if the resident teacher will bless their mala/statue/whatever. All good if your teacher has realisations but not so good if they only joined the NKT at the spring festival, were ordained by the summer festival and because their teacher liked them were teaching by the autumn of the same year.

This is not unlike one of the points NKT is currently demonstrating about and asking the Dalai Lama to address. The abbot/teacher of a Monastery/Dharma centre not giving people the freedom and permissions they need to live a full life because they do not believe in accordance with what the abbot/teacher has decided they should. The resident teacher can actively stop a person living a happy fulfilled life just because they don’t like a person, find them challenging or just don’t know what to do with them.

Resident teachers are not trained in helping people, running centres or managing centres. In fact they are often not particularly trained in anything including the Dharma they teach. They are often left emotionally and spiritually unsupported. Most do not have any direct link to Geshe Kelsang and their knowledge of him is often only through stories and gossip. Some have been left financial unsupported even when they have been sent to countries they have never been to before. Countless monks and nuns have used their life savings to keep a centre going or when starting up centres. None of those monks or nuns will ever get their money back. So many people give away their savings only to finally give up their ordination or poistion due to being unsupported, they find themselves a few years down the line penniless and with out a CV with which they can get a job.

When it comes to teachers the NKT has a thousand things to be ashamed of. People are not disposable. An ordained person is for life not just for five years while you burn them out and leave them exhausted.

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