news

Update on 19.8.2014

Readers of this site may well be interested in this panel discussion that was held last week at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba-pdha1noE&feature=youtu.be

Update on 13.9.2012

A new document has been placed in the archives section. This document is a letter that was sent directly to Geshe-la by one of the trustees of Maitreya Centre. No reply to that letter was ever received.

As for mediation, the NKT has still not indicated any willingness to engage in it.

 

Update on 13.8.2012

A clarification on ‘mediation’ might be beneficial for all readers of this blog. The Charity Commission itself has a guidance booklet that sets out its recommendations about how to deal with conflicts within charities, and the Commission’s definition of mediation given in that booklet is:

Mediation: Mediation is a private and confidential process by which the parties in a dispute agree to appoint an independent person who meets them and their advisers with a view to helping the parties reach a solution. As the solution is agreed to by those directly affected, rather than imposed externally, it is more likely to provide a long-term resolution.

Further on in the booklet is this paragraph:

a charity might consider a more formal approach to resolving a dispute by employing the services of a professional mediator.  Mediation can be a quick and cost-effective way to resolve disputes.

If the parties involved in the dispute decide to take their disagreement to the charity tribunal or the court, the tribunal or the court will expect them to have tried mediation before hearing their case. Often the parties need our permission to take court action in relation to a dispute within the charity. In these cases, we will usually expect them to have tried mediation before we provide our consent to allow the matter to go to court. Even if the Commission agrees that the matter is best resolved by the court, it will not follow that the charity must in all cases meet the costs of the application. This may have to be paid by those bringing the case.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on mediation makes the following statement about the connection between mediation and Buddhism:

Some cultures regarded the mediator as a sacred figure, worthy of particular respect; and the role partly overlapped with that of traditional wise men or tribal chief. Members of peaceful communities frequently brought disputes before local leaders or wise men to resolve local conflicts.[3] This peaceful method of resolving conflicts was particularly prevalent in communities of Confucians and Buddhists.

This connection between Buddhism and mediation is explored in great detail and very movingly by a professional mediator, Kenneth Cloke, in his article entitled Mediation and Meditation: The Deeper Middle Way. This very experienced mediator and Buddhist meditator talks about how mutually beneficial and supportive the practices of mediation  and meditation are to each other, but interestingly he makes the point that:

Buddhists have not always been the best role models in conflict, and Buddhism has, in my experience, fallen short in developing the social practice of what I call “inter-mindfulness,” or what meditation teacher Shinzen Young calls “the monastery of relationships,” which is an essential part of many conflict resolution practices.

Nevertheless, he concludes his analysis of Buddhism and mediation by saying that:

What is fascinating to me as a practitioner of both over the course of many years are the ways they call out to each other, invite each other in, and increasingly require the skillful practice of the other. Trying to meditate without addressing underlying conflicts makes our practice superficial, frustrating, and incomplete. Trying to mediate without cultivating awareness traps us at the surface of our conflicts and ignores what is taking place in their depths. When we combine these practices, we are led to the deeper middle way, and to profound insights, both for ourselves and others.

This beautifuly encapsulates the conviction of the original management team of Maitreya Buddhist Centre that both sides to the ongoing dispute about the centre should see the proposal of mediation that the Charity Commission recommends as a precious opportunity to put into practice the Buddhist principles we have all learnt over the years. The offer of formal mediation with a professional mediation service is still on the table, despite the attempts of one party to the dispute to avoid any conflict resolution procedure by making repeated allegations of criminal activity to the local police, who only want the parties to the dispute to sort it out amongst themselves, as true Buddhists should anyway.

Update on 20.7.2012

The remaining trustees of Maitreya Centre, following guidance issued by the Charity Commission, have recently offered, in writing, to enter formal mediation with NKT representatives, guided by a professional, officially registered mediator, as a way of ending the dispute with NKT head office. The NKT have now rejected this offer without any offer of further discussion on mediation as a way forward. This rejection, if it remains the NKT’s position, is directly contrary to the Charity Commission’s written advice to the NKT that it should engage in mediation to resolve this dispute. This clearly shows that NKT head office is not interested in any reasonable, amicable settlement of the dispute and that the NKT prefers to ignore the explicit advice of the Charity Commission itself. The offer of mediation remains open, nevertheless, so even at this late hour  a resolution could be achieved. But the management of Maitreya Centre can do no more beyond keeping this offer open.

Update on 27.6.2012

Fresh advice from the Charity Commission has now been received. The Commission has refused to consider officially recognising the three new charity trustees imposed upon the centre by the NKT unless both parties to the dispute over the centre have demonstrated that they have participated in  mediation, which has to be offered by the Education Council of the NKT, in an attempt to resolve the dispute. It is hoped that, if the mediation process is set up to be fair and impartial to all involved, and publicly seen to be so, then a speedy resolution of the dispute should be possible. Legal advice is being taken to try and ensure that such fairness and impartiality can be established.

Update on 22.6.2012

Advice from the Charity Commission is still being awaited.

In the meantime, given that certain emails and/or letters are being selectively made public by the NKT/IKBU to justify its actions and approach to Maitreya Centre,  a new ‘archives’ page has been set up on this blog to contain those documents that can now be released to provide more context and details about what happened at Maitreya Centre. It is hoped that this will help followers of this blog to make up their own minds about what happened and why, and to put what the NKT-IKBU say about the matter into sharper perspective. More documents will be added as and when it is safe and/or appropriate to do so.

Update on 24.5.2012

The local police have completed their initial enquiries into the situation at Maitreya Buddhist Centre. At the invitation of the Charity Commission, a fresh submission has now been made to it, and further advice from the Commission will be given in due course, although it is worth noting that the Commission has repeatedly advised that the situation should be resolved through negotiation/mediation if at all possible rather than through the courts, or through threats of litigation, a fact that those claiming to act for the NKT should take note of, as they have so far failed to follow this course, a fact not lost on the Commission itself. It is because of the Commission’s insistence on negotiation/mediation that the legally valid management team of Maitreya Centre will not initiate legal proceedings itself at this time. All that John McBretney (the alleged legal representative of the members of Maitreya Centre) needs to do to attain a quick and peaceful end to the dispute is to talk amicably with the Centre’s solicitor, who has previously advised John McBretney about the legal inappropriateness of his approach in dealing with the whole matter. The web domain meditateinbexhill.co.uk has been taken over by Chodor, so although it is still online, it is effectively immobilised and useless, for he has apparently changed the passwords thereby denying the website designer any access to the domain; therefore, please ignore that web domain as it is not relevant at all now.

Update on 11.5.2012

A police investigation into the criminal trespass and occupation of Maitreya Buddhist Centre’s premises has now begun. The Centre has also initiated legal proceedings. Kelsang Gomchen would be well advised to immediately provide the centre’s legally registered administrator with free and unrestricted access to the centre’s premises and administrative records, and to vacate the centre’s premises as soon as possible.

Update on 9.5.2012

A fresh submission has now been made to the Charity Commission, detailing the latest illegalities affecting Maitreya Buddhist Centre. The latest discussions with the centre’s landlord have been very constructive, and the landlord continues to give his full backing to whatever legal actions the Centre’s legally valid management team wishes to pursue to overcome the latest illegalities. People who have tried to get into the centre today who have no part in the dispute and who simply wished to do some meditation or just to visit the centre were turned away today by the monk squatting in the flat. The lock-out of all members not ‘authorised’ by this squatting monk appears to be complete.

Update on 8.5.2012

There is now evidence of squatting within the centre’s residential accommodation, a squatting apparently organised and implemented by the illegal and self-appointed new ‘management team’. The monk squatting within the flat is also engaged in intimidatory behaviour towards two of the centre’s residents. This totally outrageous and illegal activity will be met with legal action within the next few days if this squatting monk does not leave forthwith. Such legal action will be with the total backing of the centre’s landlord.

Update on 6.5.2012

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, and the persons involved in this takeover are now extremely vulnerable to action being taken against them by the legal authorities. Certainly this drastic action  violates all norms of ethical behaviour and is against all principles of settling disputes peacefully, as well as being completely contrary to the teachings of the Buddha’s dharma. This attempt to forcibly remove the legally registered Administrative Director of the centre and the legally valid Board of Trustees represents the desperation of an NKT-backed team that is acting out of blind obedience to orders, a team that has never once made a  credible legal case that is backed by a legal opinion or legal authority of any sort.

Update on 4.5.2012

The fraudulent website that purported to be the official website of Maitreya Buddhist Centre has now been taken offline, no doubt due to the reporting of that fraud to the relevant authorities. Evidence has now been obtained which indicates exactly who committed that fraud, and that member of Maitreya Centre should be under no illusion that an investigation into that fraud is still ongoing. There are also indications that this same member, together with others who have the backing of NKT head office, are considering taking drastic actions with regards to Maitreya Centre, actions which would be contrary to an amicable resolution of the dispute. If these actions are indeed taken, and if they are once again a flouting of the law, then the management of Maitreya Centre will not hesitate to take further action if necessary, including involving the police.

Update on 26.4.2012: Fradulent website

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.

Charity Commission reply of 19.4.2012 to Maitreya Buddhist Centre

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; the Commission has informed John McBretney (NKT head office’s representative in this matter) of this fact. Therefore, the repeated threats of litigation made against the existing trustees of Maitreya Buddhist Centre over the last few weeks were entirely without any legal foundation in both charity and company law; this is also backed up by the legal advice obtained by the trustees over the last few weeks. The management of the centre will fully comply with the guidance issued by the Commission in its reply and, given that  John McBretney (who falsely claimed to be the legally valid representative of the members of Maitreya Buddhist Centre) has also stated in writing to the trustees’ solicitor his commitment to accepting in full the guidance of the Commission, it is now the hope of the management of Maitreya Buddhist Centre that  all threats of litigation will now be withdrawn and that NKT head office will proceed instead to hold informal discussions in good faith with the management, or at least offer mediation, with a view towards an amicable resolution of the dispute. Meanwhile, all existing classes of the centre, such as are left, will continue as normal.

Current state of play at Maitreya Buddhist Centre as of 8.3.2012

There is now the possibility of a peaceful settlement to the dispute between the charity trustees of Maitreya Buddhist Centre and the NKT, as both sides to the dispute have now referred the issues involved to the Charity Commission and both sides have expressed their willingness to abide by whatever guidance the Commission eventually offers. Meanwhile, all meditation classes at Maitreya Buddhist Centre will resume as normal from this Sunday onwards, after the centre’s half-term break ends. Furthermore, the centre will maintain normal opening hours, assuming there are enough volunteers available to staff the premises within those hours of opening.

Message from the Education Programme Co-ordinator of Maitreya Buddhist Centre

4th March 2012

To: NKT head office:

To whom it may concern,

It is with much regret that I now find myself leaving the NKT family, after 6 years of solid hard work as the EPC of Maitreya Centre, helping to grow a flourishing Dharma community here in Bexhill, working with two different Resident Teachers who both had their idiosyncrasies, which I worked with by putting into practice the teachings on patience I have received.

I now find that the course of action that the NKT and the new RT of Maitreya Centre are working on is the exact opposite to all the teachings I have received and the vows I have taken. I am sure that you feel that the things that have been said and are implementing are for the greater good, but to ignore good solid advice and to lie to me is, I find, very childish and political. I would not expect any adult, let alone a child, to treat not only me, but all the members and visitors to Maitreya Centre, in such a way as to remove all semblance of caring for the community; it is abhorrent.

If we are to become better people then we should not be treading all over the feelings of people who for whatever reason come and visit our Dharma Centre. We should be actively encouraging them to come and enjoy what the Centre had to offer, but most of what was on offer has been removed, for whatever reason.

Again I reiterate that, for the past few months, I have had the distinct feeling that I have been lied to and ignored and that it seems the Corporate Lie must be held on to no matter what the cost.

Sincerely yours,

Jon B.

Message from one of the charity trustees of Maitreya Buddhist Centre

Dear members and supporters of Maitreya Centre,

I would like to present to you the reasons for the charity trustees of Maitreya Centre refusing to comply any further with the instructions of the NKT (New Kadampa Tradition) head office. This is our side of the story and undoubtedly different to the one presented by Kelsang Chodor, the Resident Teacher, who did not give us the courtesy of allowing us to present our case at the same time as he presented his case to the members.

When Kelsang Chodor first arrived at Maitreya Centre, he promised to work with everybody at the centre and to give everyone the chance to get involved if they wished to help move the centre forward. However, right from the beginning he did not wish to discuss any matters concerning the centre with the trustees collectively, and frequently ignored the considered advice of the Admin Director (AD) and Education Programme Co-ordinator), who became very frustrated that much of their hard work was being undone and undermined. He called a meeting of all the members in January without consultation with the trustees. January being the traditional month of retreat in NKT centres, just holding this meeting at that time was deeply disruptive of the retreat; indeed, some people coming to the meeting were expecting to be able to have a retreat meditation but were stuck in the meeting instead. Chodor then announced his wish that the centre move to residential accommodation in Hastings. The fact that many members at that meeting expressed their concerns about aspects of this proposal and that there was not sufficient momentum generated for such a move, together with the concern of many that Sonam should still have a place within the centre if it moved to Hastings, probably goes a long way to explain what happened next, because very soon afterwards Kelsang Sonam was banned by NKT head office from all teaching activities. No explanation for this decision was given by the NKT despite repeated requests by the trustees. Finally, after several weeks, a brief statement was issued by NKT head office stating that Sonam was ‘impure’, without giving any evidence whatsoever for that claim and failing to give Sonam or anyone an opportunity to challenge that claim. I have known Sonam for 20 years now and I can honestly say that the claim of ‘impurity’ is just ridiculous. He has taught Kadam Dharma faithfully for many years to many hundreds of people and led many of them into the path of the NKT and has shown great compassion and loving-kindness in his practice of moral discipline and in his behaviour towards others. He has shown great patience whenever he has been the victim of malicious gossip by others in the centre, and has always served Lam-ma faithfully when she was Resident Teacher, helping her massively to cope with the burden of her duties. His humility and good heart is obvious to all who take the trouble to meet him and get to know him. The loss of access to his teachings has been devastating for the people in Hastings who attended his classes and derived great benefit from them, and the arbitrary, sudden, and unjustified nature of that loss has significantly damaged the reputation and credibility of the NKT in that area. But, perhaps more importantly, from the centre’s point of view, he ran two branches in the Hastings area, one of which was very successful indeed and brought a lot of much-needed income into the centre, and his series of Saturday Meditation Workshops were always very well attended and also brought much needed income into the centre. All this was lost when Sonam was ordered to stop teaching, placing a massive strain upon the centre’s cash-flow at a time when economic conditions worsening in the general economy were beginning to affect the centre too. Chodor made no serious attempt to retain those branches and workshops and never discussed with the trustees how they could be retained.

Then Chodor asked me to stop teaching the Friday afternoon class, again with no explanation and no justification provided other than that the Internal Rules give him the power to do so. Again he did not offer to discuss this decision with me although I asked him to do so, as I had genuine concerns about how the decision would affect those attending the class, especially as Chodor was not offering to find another teacher or to keep the class going; bear in mind that one of the ladies attending that class is a 95 year old lady for whom that class is the only one she can attend given her frailty and for whom it is precious to her at her time of life (she has also been a devoted member of the centre ever since it started). I ask you: would you have had the heart to deny her that class? Furthermore, the class was also generating significant income for the centre, income that would be lost and making the financial strain on the centre even worse. For these reasons I therefore decided to refuse Chodor’s request to stand down as a teacher. My moral conscience and bodhisattva vow did not allow me to abandon both the people attending that class and to weaken the centre still further by denying it a source of income. This has of course allowed Chodor to claim that I have broken the Internal Rules, but if that is true, then so be it. Here I stand, I can do no other.

Then we come to the next significant action of Chodor which was to ask for one of the monks of Bodhisattva Centre to move into the centre’s flat. That would have meant asking one of the existing residents to leave to make way for that monk, even though there were no grounds for ending his tenancy, and also giving priority to that monk above those people already on the waiting list of applicants (all dharma practitioners) who wanted to move in whenever a vacancy occurred. No doubt this refusal of Chodor’s request by myself and my colleagues has undoubtedly contributed to his, and NKT head office’s, present determination to remove us completely from any role within the centre, even though, according to our constitution, the administration of the flat is purely an administrative matter for the AD and trustees to manage, and is not the final responsibility of the Resident Teacher. Again, the trustees invited Chodor to attend a trustees meeting in order to discuss why he made this request and how we might be able to help him, but again he refused. He has always refused to discuss anything with the trustees.

Now, under charity law the registered charity trustees of this centre have a legal responsibility to ensure that the administrative and financial affairs of the centre are maintained in good order. We now feel that we are legally obliged to step in and prevent Chodor from continuing further to undermine the centre financially and, more importantly, undermining people’s access to the dharma by arbitrarily shutting down classes and courses without due cause or explanation/justification, and without adequate consultation with anyone or respect for the advice of the AD and EPC.

It should be borne in mind that under section 12 of the very Internal Rules that Chodor and NKT head office like to quote so much, the centre is obliged to emphasise its development by, amongst other things, “increasing the number of students, through caring for people with kindness and by making good publicity” and “ maintaining the centre as a pure, peaceful and harmonious society” and “increasing the number of branches of the Centre”. I charge that Chodor, backed by NKT head office, has been guilty of breaking the Internal Rules himself because his actions have helped to decrease the number of students, has treated many of them with great unkindness, minimised good publicity (Chodor refused to authorise a new Centre brochure for 2012 despite one that had been painstakingly prepared in good time by the EPC), decreased the number of branches and classes, and has turned what was a peaceful and harmonious centre for 6 years under the loving guidance of Lam-ma into one now riven by discord and irreversibly split. If Chodor is a completely pure and reliable teacher as the NKT says he is, what does such chaos say about his style of management and motivation in the short time he has been here?

Therefore, I am totally unapologetic about the actions that I and my colleagues have taken at this time, and I am willing to discuss them in detail and answer any questions that members have and I totally concur with Bob Bailey in his letter when he says the trustees will abide by whatever the members want when ALL of them have had a chance to express their agreement/disagreement with the trustees decisions. People who know me know what I have done for the centre over the years and my devoted service to the NKT for 20 years; I would never have taken a decision to stand up to the NKT lightly. I and my colleagues are having to take this extreme stance because there is nowhere to go within the NKT for our legitimate concerns to be addressed or even listened to. I am perfectly happy to stand down if a majority of local members want me and the other trustees to stand down, but I am equally happy to carry on as trustee if the majority of members wish me to.

The latest attempt by Chodor to allow only his side of the argument to be presented before the trustees can do so is just typical of the divisive manoeuvrings he has been engaging in throughout. Bear in mind that none of the trustees or centre officers were invited to the meeting he called yesterday with the members to discuss the private letter the NKT sent to the centre trustees, a private letter that he deliberately leaked to as many members as possible BEFORE the trustees had had a chance to compose a reply to NKT head office. Also bear in mind that I and my colleagues are just volunteers, not paid employees of a corporation. We cannot be compelled to obey orders coming from a head office over 300 miles away if we feel that they are unjustified. We have given up much of our time and energy to help the centre flourish for 6 years. If we go, other members will have to be volunteers and generate a high level of commitment and hard work to keep the centre going; total obedience to orders, regardless of circumstances, is not, and should never be, the requirement or expectation of volunteers in this or any other organisation.

Thank you for reading this and best wishes for your health and happiness,

Andrew Durling,

Chairman of the Board of Trustees,

Maitreya Buddhist Centre.

1st March 2012


164 Comments on “news”

  1. Sorry to hear this but thank you for this explanation as to why there are no classes currently. Organized religion eh?

  2. Ian Thomas says:

    Good for you Andy. You have my love and support. I have known you and others at Maitreya for many years and you have always shown yourself to have the great commitment and integrity,

  3. Jordan says:

    Thank you Andy this is appreciated, and thanks for doing what is right. May NKT head office gain compassion, love and wisom.

  4. John Swainson says:

    Hello Andy

    Your experience of dealing with the NKT office is not a one-off. Losang Dragpa Centre was closed with stories of impurity ringing in our ears. Two trustees at LDC were ordained and did not oppose the central office. I know my experience of dealing with the NKT office and its lack of transparency influences my opinion of the organisation but feel there should be more dialogue and not just passive acceptance when a situation is seen to be wrong.

    John Swainson

    • andydharma says:

      Hi John,
      The option of referring the matter to the Charity Commission is a very good option, and one I am considering as part of a wider consultation with legal experts. I will not hesitate to follow up that option if necessary and if cirumstances allow me to do so.
      Cheers,
      Andy.

  5. John Swainson says:

    Hi Andy again

    I presume you will liaise with the Charity Commission?

    John Swainson

  6. Tenzin says:

    Andrew, you and some of the members of Maitreya Centre are “just” experiencing what »New Kadampa Survivors« experienced already and point out since many years:

    – NKT teachers are established and removed arbitrary, neglecting the karmic relationships like if they were furnitures you can put here and there. This is a mere power approach to give power to totally committed NKT followers who obey without questioning anything. This arbitrary approach which usually is done without any communication has happened again and again and now it happens in Maitreya Centre too. The suffering it creates has been experienced also by other NKT followers again and again.
    – the term “pure” is also a power means. Actual one can only say someone is pure if one knows his mind, and since this is not possible for ordinary beings it is ridiculous to use that term (or at least one should be extremely cautious to use it), and when it is used it is easily abused as a power means pushing someone to be more special than others. To impute to a person the label “pure” without having a proper discrimination if the basis of imputation is suited to be called “pure” makes it very easy to label the same person in times of trouble as “impure”.
    – I assume all of you who don’t obey NKT leadership will be removed. This is the way of NKT.

    Though all of this might be very painful, and I think any type of optimism is deceptive in this context, if the developments at Maitreya Centre lead to a disconnection for some faithfully Dharma practitioners and some of them find true genuine masters after disconnecting from NKT, actual this can turn out to be one of the best things that could have happened: to be forcefully separated from NKT and thereby meeting the true masters and the Three Jewels outside of the NKT system.

  7. Margo Malosevic says:

    Same old….

  8. John Swainson says:

    Some thoughts.

    You could go it alone with ‘impure’ Sonam and yourself as teachers.

    You would not be ‘authorised’ to teach the NKT stuff but where did they get it all from in the first place?

    In whose name is the property rented. Is it the company or an individual?

    I presume the trustees and members would prefer to stay within the NKT at the moment?

    If so, I cannot see any way of altering their view of how they want the centre to develop.

    I have found them to be inflexible.

    They have requested you stop teaching and withdrawn Sonam’s authorisation to teach because of impurity and in doing so they gain greater control. This looks like a take over bid on their part.

    Your accounts on the Charity Commission website do not show any property owned by the Maitreya Centre. The only monetary assets are fixtures, fittings and some cash in the bank

    Nowhere in the Internal Rules can I find the requirement to own a property.

    ‘Until a branch Centre itself incorporates as an independent charity, it shall remain a part of its parent Centre, both legally and financially’. Internal Rules

    This shows you are independent of any other centre legally and financially. However,
    they later say this…

    18§9. If any NKT-IKBU Dharma Centre is wound up or dissolved for any reason whatsoever, then after paying or adequately providing for the debts and obligations of the Centre, the remaining assets of the Centre shall be distributed to one or more than one other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU in the same country, or be given to the NKT-IKBU International Temples Project….

    …which does not appear to indicate independence.

    If your centre owned a property and it was ‘wound up or dissolved for any reason’, impurity, for example, then all the assets would go to the NKT.

    We at LDC did not want the centre to close but the power did not lie with us. So much for independence. There was no debt but they did sell it for just over £2 million after buying it for £350.000!

    With regard to the Charity Commission, they were of no help in our situation as they said I should take up the matter with the trustees etc. Your situation is different in that you are the trustees so they may listen and act as arbitrator.

    The function of the Resident Teacher is to lead the students of his or her Centre into the pure spiritual paths of the New Kadampa Tradition.

    No mention here of dealing with financial or administrative affairs.

    John Swainson

    • andydharma says:

      Hi John,
      Thank you for your considered response, and for your constructive suggestions. I and some of my fellow trustees are taking legal advice and working out our options. I am pleased to say that NKT head office appear to have taken some steps which may well be contestable, or open to challenge, from a legal point of view, but obviously I can’t go into details at this time without compromising my position. Suffice it to say that I am very happy with the legal advice I have received so far. But what is interesting is that, as you say, there is actually not that much there for NKT head office to have! Our centre is tiny by the standards of most centres and the credibility of the NKT is so trashed locally that if head office gain total control of all the material assets of the centre, they will lose most of the members and supporters, who will simply move to other premises and request teachers who can operate outside of the NKT flag. Pyhrric victory indeed! And anyway, what is a dharma centre? It certainly is not the material assets, nor is it a piece of paper with ‘Internal Rules‘ written on it! I’ll leave NKT head office to work out what it actually is! (Clue: it has something to do with love for the Spiritual Guide who inseparable from one’s own inner wisdom and compassion). Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
      Best wishes,
      Andy.

      • John Swainson says:

        Hi Andy

        It is no secret that I am critical of the NKT. I was happy with the spiritual side but felt I had to make a stand against the way the organisation could ride roughshod over some vulnerable and not so vulnerable people.

        The NKT are happy to use the threat of the courts but are quick to withdraw when challenged. I refer to the sale of Highden Manor in New Zealand. They used the NKT Truth site to challenge the High Court ruling against them but quickly withdrew their counter claim for damages when they realised their mistake. That matter is still to be resolved, but they still remain liable to the cost of over 1million NZ$.

        Be careful when resorting to the law. It is expensive.

        John Swainson

        .

      • andydharma says:

        no need to resort to law now. The Charity Commission is now involved, thank goodness.

  9. John Swainson says:

    I wish your group well.

    John Swainson

  10. Kadampa Kev says:

    John Swainson says:

    The function of the Resident Teacher is to lead the students of his or her Centre into the pure spiritual paths of the New Kadampa Tradition.

    It’s therefore clear that Gen Chodor is doing what he is being asked to do. I don’t know what was taught at Maitreya Centre by Sonam, but if this site is anything to go by, they were not following the internal rules of the New Kadampa Tradition because they are teaching something other than Kadam Dharma – by mixing with Theravadin Buddhism, for example, that appears on the blogroll as well as ‘Buddhist Geeks’ and other non-Kadam Dharma.

    The Centre is an NKT Centre, so what should be taught there is only Kadam Dharma. This is clear from the Internal Rules:

    8§3. The Resident Teacher’s commitments shall include:
    • to keep pure moral discipline and good behaviour;
    • to cherish and care for their Dharma Centre;
    to teach only subjects that form part of the three NKT Study Programmes;
    • to apply continual effort to increase the number of students and branches of their Centre;
    • to send an annual progress report about their Centre to the GSD and to the Education Council Representatives;
    to respect other spiritual traditions and try to maintain good relations with them, but the Resident Teacher shall not mto respect other spiritual traditions and try to maintain good relations with them, but the Resident Teacher shall not mix his or her teachings and spiritual practices with those of other spiritual traditions;teix his or her teachings and spiritual practices with those of other spiritual traditions;

    This, needless to say, goes for other Teachers in the Centre.

    If Sonam and his supporters want to teach something other than Kadam Dharma, they should start their own centre, otherwise they need to abide by the Internal Rules as every other NKT centre does. If they don’t want to be part of the NKT, that’s their choice too, but Maitreya Centre is an NKT Centre and its members want it to remain so.

    • andydharma says:

      I am grateful for your reply as this gives a chance for a real debate to emerge about recent events at Maitreya Buddhist Centre. To make things clear about this blog: it is not an NKT blog and does not claim to be one. It is simply a virtual space for anybody to talk about dharma matters if they wish, and as you know the NKT does not have a monopoly on dharma. I can honestly say that only Kadam Dharma, as taught by Geshe-la and laid down by the NKT’s Internal Rules, was ever taught at Maitreya Centre by all of its teachers, including Sonam. I should know. I went to most of the GP and FP teachings given by Lam-ma and Sonam over the last 6 years. And the vast majority of members who attended those teachings would agree if you only asked them. Of course, there is always malicious gossip spread by a minority about any teacher. Sonam was tried in absentia by the NKT and found guilty of being an ‘impure’ teacher without any evidence for that put forward at all to Sonam or anybody at the centre, and without any chance of Sonam being able to reply to his accusers. If the NKT is going to be judge, jury and executioner of all its teachers when it comes to accusations of heresy, then the NKT is in danger of losing a lot of its teachers in the future and NKT teachers, including Chodor, will always have to be looking over their shoulders worrying about whether or not they will be next to be ‘excommunicated’, no matter how long their experience of teaching is and no matter how many years of devoted service they have given to the NKT. You say that the majority of Maitreya Centre’s members want the centre to remain an NKT centre. That may or may not be so (it certainly does not seem that way at the moment!), but I can assure you that a clear and sizable majority of members of Maitreya Centre are disgusted by the lack of any willingness of Chodor and the NKT to engage meaningfully with the sincere and genuine concerns of centre members and management about the decisions Chodor and head office have made. They have had enough of arbitrary decisions made without due cause or justification, and are indeed perfectly willing to leave the NKT if that is the only option left and pursue their dharma study and practice elsewhere if necessary. The NKT will be the big loser, as it will succeed in driving away many sincere dharma practitioners whose only wish was to carry on practising the Kadam Dharma Geshe-la taught, free of interference from Resident Teachers who arrogantly think they know better than anybody else. As you point out, one of the Resident Teacher’s commitments under the Internal Rules is “to apply continual effort to increase the number of students and branches of their centre”. Well, since Chodor arrived, we have lost 6 out of the 8 classes we had before he arrived, two of those classes being branch classes, and our overall student numbers have dropped significantly as a result, for obvious reasons, and the loss of class fee income means that the financial health of the centre is in dire peril. Need I say more?

      • Kadampa Kev says:

        Hello Andy,

        I find it hard to believe that Sonam was not ‘mixing’ with other traditions, as his post from last month on this forum indicates that it is so:

        http://maitreyabuddhistcentre.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/sunya-the-worthless/

        Sunya, according to Edward Conze, means worthless as in ‘this tissue has no value to me, it is worthless’.

        To quote Bodhidharma “all things are empty, and there is nothing desirable or to be sought after”, and to quote Edward Conze, “Things are empty in the sense that they are unsubstantial and unsatisfactory”.

        This ‘unsatisfactoryness’ I associate with duhkha or contaminated suffering in Buddha’s original teaching. This is the second of three signs or four seals within Buddhism that mark a person as being a buddhist. This sign states that all phenomena or dharma are unsatisfactory or marked with suffering. ‘Unsubstantial’ I interpret as to be ‘unable to fulfil desire’, and relate it to a difficult concept in emptiness – the phrase held by all schools that phenomena are not self-supporting or substantially existent. I will look at all these words over the next few posts.

        I don’t seem to remember any references to Edward Conze or Bodhidharma in any of Geshe-la’s books, and there’s certainly no mention of the word Sunya or duhkha. The presentation is therefore not in accordance with NKT Dharma books and is a mixture of Mahayana, Zen and Theravada.

        If you want to mix traditions, that’s up to you, but Maitreya Centre is an NKT Centre and should abide by the Internal Rules.

        By the way, if this is not an NKT blog, why does it bear the name of an NKT Centre? That’s really confusing; perhaps you should consider changing the blog title: just sayin’!

        I think all this conflict is very sad. I do hope there is an amicable agreement and wish you all the best :) I’ve had my say and will bow out now.

        Kev

      • andydharma says:

        Hello Kev,

        Thank you for your reply. This is great, as you have a willingness to discuss matters in a friendly way that was totally absent from Chodor or NKT head office. Indeed, they did not want to talk at all about anything! Firstly, you quote at length from one of Sonam’s posts. But Sonam is not an official NKT teacher now, and has not been for months. Nor does he have any official role within Maitreya Centre; Chodor won’t let him have any role. That gives Sonam a freedom to talk about dharma in whatever way he wants to now. If the NKT don’t want Sonam, then they have no more hold over him. The NKT can’t have its cake and eat it too!

        As for the title of this blog, the name Maitreya Buddhist Centre is not actually the name of the centre in NKT eyes. Many months ago the NKT changed the official name of the centre to Maitreya Kadampa Buddhist Centre. I was very careful when titling this blog to make sure that the word ‘Kadampa’ was left out so that there was no explicit claim to be following the Kadampa tradition, whether it be an NKT or non-NKT one. This blog is a dharma forum, full stop. The reality on the ground is that there are now two Maitreya Buddhist Centres: one that the NKT still makes an official claim on and which a few members still want to belong to, and one that many members feel has been cast out by the NKT but, for them, it still functions as a psychological reality in people’s minds and is one in which compassion and lovingkindness is still to be found. These ‘outcasts’ still feel a bond with Maitreya Buddhist Centre and therefore still find it practical and valid to use this name when referring to themselves and each other. Anyway, the NKT does not own the words ‘Maitreya’, ‘Buddhist’, and ‘Centre’. As long as these words are used in a clearly non-NKT context, and do not have the tag ‘NKT’ after them, then there is no problem. Maitreya Buddhist Centre is mere name. A prasangika, even an NKT one, should be able to understand that!

        Yes, I agree with you Kev that all this conflict is very sad, but as I have said elsewhere already, an amicable agreement is in sight as both the NKT and the trustees of Maitreya Buddhist Centre have referred the whole conflict to the Charity Commission and are perfectly happy to comply with whatever the ultimate verdict of the Commission is.

        Thank you again, Kev, for contributing to this blog and you are welcome back any time. :-)

  11. Kadampa Kev says:

    Sorry, I don’t know what went wrong with the formatting. That important rule is:

    8§3

    • to respect other spiritual traditions and try to maintain good relations with them, but the Resident Teacher shall not mix his or her teachings and spiritual practices with those of other spiritual traditions

  12. John Swainson says:

    Hi Kadampa Kev

    We could play ‘ping pong’ with these rules all day.

    However, here is my ‘ping’.

    12§3. As the moral discipline guides, the Education Council Representatives shall concentrate on the following three steps:
    (a) becoming aware of any breach of moral discipline or of these Internal Rules which has occurred, principally regarding (i) Dharma Centres, (ii) ordained Sangha, (iii) Resident Teachers and (iv) practitioners living in NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres. When any such problem is recognised, the Education Council Representatives should:
    (b) ask and encourage the Dharma Centre or individuals involved to stop their inappropriate behaviour. If they do not agree to change their behaviour accordingly:
    (c) report the problem to the GSD, and then implement any practical solution that the GSD and Education Council Representatives may together require.

    I presume the three steps were followed before…

    …‘Kelsang Sonam was banned by NKT head office from all teaching activities. No explanation for this decision was given by the NKT despite repeated requests by the trustees. Finally, after several weeks, a brief statement was issued by NKT head office stating that Sonam was ‘impure’, without giving any evidence whatsoever for that claim and failing to give Sonam or anyone an opportunity to challenge that claim’

    §4. The purpose of the Internal Rules is to provide guidelines:

    • To help resolve any dispute that might arise within any Dharma Centre of the NKT-IKBU

    The rules have not been useful so far.

    Resolving a dispute usually requires dialogue.

    John Swainson

  13. Jordan says:

    I am one of the sincere students of Sonams classes and can confirm that yes we only ever received pure Kadam Dharma of Geshe Kelsang from him. I have attended ALL his classes for the last 3 years. I feel very sorry for Chodor as unfortunately he has obviously been forced by NKT head office to break internal rules and to completely ignore his vows and not do what is best for the people of Maitreya centre , clear for all to see. Which has lost him respect with the members of Maitreya centre who are just being truthful and trying to practice Dharma and thus stopping his chances of helping the centre to develop and grow. I dont know why NKT head office want to do this but they have surely misunderstood what is right or have something else in mind altogether…

  14. John Swainson says:

    Good to know the Commission are involved in the resoution of this dispute. The Commission say they only get involved when the administration has broken down. The Commission has always told me that it cannot get involved in matters of belief etc. This may leave the position of Sonam unresolved. Do you expect the Commission’s decision to include the issue of Sonam’s impurity/purity? This is not something they will do. Will you be allowed to teach again?

    John Swainson

    • andydharma says:

      Yes, I am very relieved and relaxed myself now that the Charity Commission is involved. I’m afraid I can’t reveal what is in any submission to the Charity Commission at this stage. Suffice it to say that great care was taken that only issues that are of direct relevance to the Commission were put forward, and legal advice was taken in the preparation of the submission. I feel content that the Maitreya Centre trustees have been able to fully put their case to the Commission. We can do no more but wait.

  15. John Swainson says:

    Thankyou.

  16. Tim says:

    I feel for you guys. I left after 10 years of dedicated (possibly fanatical) involvement after the waves of sexual misconduct revelations regarding the then most senior teachers, and the lies and manipulation used to “Manage” the situation. I won’t re-hash the sordid details again.
    All I can say is that with a cooler head, and with the benefit of some objective distance and the perspective of seeing other traditions in action, the NKT is quite clearly dysfunctional, and a very poor imitation of Kadam Dharma in both teaching and practice.
    I’m still angry that genuine interest in human development and spiritual paths is sucked up and twisted by NKT machine into a paranoid separatism over an obscure Tibetan political feud, and a weird superstitious avoidance of any other excellent materials and instructions from any other source than “Geshe”-La
    I wept with joy when I saw the vast range of resources available from Access to Insight website, and the structured programmes available from FPMT.
    One thing I realised very quickly: The ordination offered by NKT is not in any way an ordination, and the preparation required is woefully insufficient. Other traditions may require that you live in a training monastery for a year before you take vows, and live there for 5 years, with the support and mentorship of highly experienced Monks or Nuns before you go on to live in a secular and worldly society which is in so many ways set up to encourage exactly the opposite of ordination. So no surprise very genuine and sincere followers of the path find it so difficult. This is possibly the saddest legacy of NKT.
    There is a wide world of spiritual practice outside the NKT.
    I’m now very happily non religious.
    I urge anyone involved with any Tibetan tradition to read some Bon resources – you’ll see how much of Tibetan Dharma is actually Bon paganism. Still valid, just not Dharma. And read some of the history of Tibet, read about life there now, and ask yourself “If it is by their fruits you shall know them, is Tibetan Dharma really the most compassionate and complete spiritual path?”

  17. malka says:

    My support for Andy and Sonam and all the members of our beautiful centre remains steadfast. The NKT have shown themselves to be bullies and dictators lacking love, wisdom and compassion which has been both shocklng and revealing. I will not be attending any further NKT run sessions at the centre, as i have lost all faith in their spiritual leadership and their ability to behave according to the buddhist tradition and teachings.

  18. tenpel says:

    Congratulations to both your centre and NKT to be willing to undergo a guidance by the Charity Commission. I think this is quite a revolutionary step also for NKT to be willing to follow the advice of a third party. Well done. I wish both, the Maitreya Centre and NKT a peaceful settlement of the dispute. Keep your chins up!

    • andydharma says:

      Thank you for wishing us all well. It is indeed fascinating that the Charity Commission is involved, but I think the involvement has been an inadvertent consequence of the failure of both sides to achieve an informal resolution of the dispute using internal procedures alone. It is ironic, and perhaps deeply troubling, that fellow Buddhists should have to appeal to a non-Buddhist organisation for resolution of a dispute between them! But I think the referral to the Commission does mark a historic moment in the NKT, and perhaps for all Buddhist organisations in this country, as it will set a precedent for how it should manage its constitutional affairs and how it should best make its model of governance dovetail in with the legal and political culture of British society as a whole. The NKT has agonised over its constitution ever since it started, and there have been several major changes and amendments to its constitution over the years in an attempt to achieve some sort of long-term organisational stability; the present dispute is very much connected with the NKT’s desire to bring in a radically new constitution and to find a way of making all existing UK NKT centres adopt that new constitution. Personally, I think the NKT has focussed too much on trying to achieve internal stability via constitutional means, and that it should have focussed more on how to foster a culture of constructive debate and dialogue in which openess, transparency, accountability, and culturally accepted mediation procedures could be effectively integrated into the NKT’s governance model. But this does raise some fascinating and serious issues about how far a Buddhist lineage, especially a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, can, or should, accommodate itself to the values and culture of a politically liberal and democratic society. Hopefully the Charity Commission’s eventual guidance will shed some light, and provoke some much-needed debate, on these issues. In the meantime, I will definitely keep my chin up! Or at least maintain a stiff upper lip?

      • tenpel says:

        Thank you for your comment.

        It appears to me that a new generation of NKT followers with fresh self-esteem and the needed portion of persistence to take the NKT Internal Rules really as a subject to follow has arisen. I’ve never seen a critical, open, self-reflective blog like this from any NKT centre over the past 15 years … Usually in the past, NKT leadership would just have removed all of “you rebels” but this time they were not able and the persons in charge of your centre try to find a solution which is according to the Internal Rules and what has been taught in the NKT. Not only is, you are open to criticism to your own behaviour and NKT leadership’s behaviour. And not only this, now, even NKT leadership (who has been always very bossy and controlling) accepts a third party council … I am really amazed (though of course all of this is also suffering, there is for me a certain type of freshness, unseen, unthinkable so far…)

        Since Buddhists are human beings I don’t see a problem to accept third party council. As a Dharma practitioner one is learning to be open to learn from everybody. Everybody has a type of wisdom and compassion and even from faults one can learn. Many Buddhist centres nowadays learn and apply Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent speech teachings or request psychologists (mostly members of the community) to council disputes and tensions.

        So, I think it is only “ironic, and perhaps deeply troubling, that fellow Buddhists should have to appeal to a non-Buddhist organisation for resolution of a dispute between them!” if one thinks Buddhist are somewhat better human beings or more wise than others but this needn’t be the case at all. So it is better to be open to learn from everybody, I think.

        Again Good Luck to all of you and NKT too and please keep us up to date.

        May the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas direct you, and may all good qualities arise in the mind stream of everybody.

      • andydharma says:

        Thanks for replying and continuing what is a fascinating and crucial debate. I think you make a very good point about accepting third-party advice in a spirit of humility and not seeing it guiltily as evidence that we are somehow ‘bad’ Buddhists! Dharma is to be found everywhere, not just within Buddhism, and indeed you mentioned Marshall Rosenberg, who, I have just discovered, appears to be remarkable for what he has achieved; there is obviously so much compassion and dharma wisdom in what his organisation is doing. I have also looked up the Charity Commission website a lot these last few days, and it has a very wise and compassionate view on how to resolve charity disputes, and it emphasises the value of using respected and neutral third parties for dispute resolution or, if necessary, professional mediators. Perhaps the NKT could change its Internal Rules to allow the services of neutral third parties and/or mediators to be used if informal talks about resolving disputes break down? Although I have to say, in our own case, all attempts to try and engage the NKT in informal talks were rebuffed anyway, so that way of resolving disputes was not even open to us at any stage! It was not even available to us before there was any dispute! I and my fellow trustees were, as a Board, completely ignored from the first day that our present Resident Teacher arrived! Easy to see how a dispute can get out of hand in such circumstances…

  19. [...] the meaning of the term “purity” on Maitreya Centre’s Blog >>> see also News* [...]

  20. tenpel says:

    Thank you for replying Andy. I agree with you. Its amazing to explore in a more humble manner what good qualities there are already and its very helpful to open up to see the richness there is, and to be inspired by it; to make use of it.

    —-

    Reading your reply, at the end it becomes obvious to me, that while you and the trustees had been open for a solution process, NKT was not; NKT leadership hasn’t been open to it at any point. Actual this is what I “expected” from NKT leadership. I think, the teacher-student-relationship and the NKT leadership guidance can be summerised as a “one way road” – at last by now. Either you follow or you have to go. Taking into consideration your description how NKT leadership as blocked all trials from your side to have a dialogue on this, I wonder how open NKT leadership will really be when it comes to a mediation by the CC? However, it is still amazing to see that there is this agreement to step into such a process, and that the trustees have been able to use the Internal Rules and the CC to insist on a fair solution … your approach has my respect and appreciation!

    BTW, I was a witness when our centre was in a somewhat similar political situation where we, who had run the centre, were tried to be kicked out, and it were Kunsang and Dekyong who were asked to take it over. Sadly we finally had to involve the police to ask them to go. It wasn’t nice …

  21. ecumenical buddhist says:

    I wonder what will happen when GKG dies…will the whole thing implode under the tribal infighting between would-be new leaders or will it all quietly fizzle out?

    Unfortunately I was taken in for a short while but suddenly came to my senses in the middle of the last HYT empowerment (how empowering was that!).

    I saw Tantra for what it really is and ‘the Guru’ for what that concept really is and like the person who previously posted, understood it to be the slavery of pre historic shamanism and not the freedom of the original path.

    I feel for you all as it’s sad to think of all the sincere practitioners being ill used by a worldly dharma, which explains poor moral discipline in terms of its own skewed world view.

    In my small opinion, a benevolent Guru advances students as a wise friend , not a controlling master. When he has taught you all he knows, you are free to seek one further on the path and you will know him when you see him (I use ‘him’ just as a grammatical convention).
    Please excuse this intrusion into your pain, your wellbeing is paramount in all this. Keep strong.
    All things must pass,

  22. tenpel says:

    “I saw Tantra for what it really is and ‘the Guru’ for what that concept really is and like the person who previously posted, understood it to be the slavery of pre historic shamanism and not the freedom of the original path.”

    I disagree.

    I think it is utter underestimated that Tantra is for mature Bodhisattvas of highest capacities. In the past Tantric Initiations were given only to a few, handful, people. Je Tsongkhapa restricted Tantra to well educated and learned monks (who understood and internalized the basics of Buddha’s teachings, like the Four Noble Truths and their 16 aspects).

    If one looks on the examples of Tilopa / Naropa or Marpa / Milarepa, most Tibetans forgot to tell that Naropa and Milarepa were extreme mature students. Naropa was one of the abbots of Nalanda who is said to have been able to discriminate what is Dharma and non-Dharma. Milarepa had strong renunciation, fear to go to hell and compassion when he started to search for a master. He had a strong mind even joking with Gurus who tried to get him with a simple “propaganda” of promising “instant-enlightenment.” What Westerner has such or similar qualifications??? If mature, well learned persons who are grounded in the scriptures and practice of mindfulness, renunciation, compassion and emptiness rely on properly qualified Tantric master, then this doesn’t become a slavery but a path to freedom. But if immature, less learned, less educated, un-grounded persons – with respect to the great treatises – practice tantra there is a big risk that it becomes slavery and only a copy of the practice (at best).

    Dzongzar Khyentse Rinpoche remarked that Thervada monks are by far more receptive vessels for the Tantras than other Westerners. Why? Because they have internalized the basis of Buddha’s teachings.

  23. tenpel says:

    BTW, in Theravada there are Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners …

    http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/jeffrey2.htm

  24. John Swainson says:

    I wrote this some two years ago. It was part of a cautionary tale.

    ‘Soon, there were smaller centres popping up all over the place. They began as a meditation group in a rented room or someone’s house. They advertised these meetings in the locality.

    Some of these groups were well attended and the more interested members thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have a bigger place of our own!’

    Well, one thing leads to another and before long plans are being made about how to make them a reality.

    ‘We will need to raise money,’ says one.

    Eventually, they decided to club together and see what they can afford

    They donated money or made interest free loans. They invited others to give or get involved.

    Now, they were in a position to offer courses of study, day classes and something to make them feel really special, an empowerment! It was done at first, only by the Tibetan monk, but he now has others to do it for him.

    Advertising was thought to be the best way forward so they published a website which gave all the information about what they were doing and how much money they would need to achieve their goal.

    A property was found which would be ideal for their needs and they described the benefits such a property would provide.

    Potential donors were asked to imagine how these facilities would improve life for the people of their city.

    Fundraising and donations raised enough to pay for a deposit on the property.

    Encouraging quotes were used, such as, ‘From giving comes wealth…’ Nagarjuna

    ‘Continuous drops of water falling into a pot will make it full. First there is one drop, then two, three, four, until the pot is overflowing…’ Buddha.

    Many ways of giving were suggested, who could resist, as by doing so you would accumulate merit.

    Just think how fortunate the people of this city will be when they have the opportunity to attend the centre.

    Once upon another time, there was a group of people, similar to those above, who thought it would be a good idea to find a property to develop into a Buddhist centre.

    This centre became popular and eventually had to find bigger premises. They bought a very large building in 1995 and proceeded with its development.

    2004
    REVIEW OF PROGRESS
    Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC) has again enjoyed a successful year with respect to
    income generation and increased awareness within the local community about the
    centre and its activities .
    Courses and retreats held at the centre in addition to branch classes continue to be
    well attended . Our seating capacity was reached in the main meditation room on
    several of our special weekend courses. The World Peace Cafe remains very popular
    with the local community and is enjoyed by visitors attending courses at the centre . The annual summer fayre was very successful again this year. The event was enjoyed by approximately 1,000 people and raised close to £9,000.

    LOSANG DRAGPA CENTRE
    REPORT OF THE DIRECTORS & TRUSTEES
    For the 18 months to 30th December 2005
    Review of Progress
    Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC) has again enjoyed a successful year with respect to
    income generations and increased awareness within the local community about the
    centre and its activities.
    Courses and retreats held in the centre in addition to branch classes continue to be well attended.
    Upgrading the facilities in the castle, the conversion of the gymnasium into the
    meditation hall and creating new accommodation for students and visitors were the main projects that have been completed in the book year. Creating the meditation hall has allowed LDC to accommodate the increasing numbers attending the courses and
    retreats.

    The year 2005 marked the 20th anniversary of LDC. A special weekend was held in
    March to celebrate the anniversary. The well-attended event included teachings by Genla Samden, the Deputy Spiritual Director of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT).
    The annual summer fayre in June 2005 was even more successful this year and raised
    LDC’s profile within the local community. The event was enjoyed by approximately 1,500 people with takings of over £9,100.- on the day.
    In the summer of 2005 Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the Spiritual Director of the New
    Kadampa Tradition (NKT), appointed Gen Chokga as the new Resident Teacher of LDC.
    The amount of students living at the centre remained constant during the book year. A quarter of the students living and studying at LDC are international students.
    Our plans for 2006 will include restoring the interior of the castle to its original
    outstanding beauty, and to begin the conversion of the former stable building. LDC will continue to offer meditation courses and retreats at the castle and in the surrounding areas to provide people with the opportunity to study Buddhist teaching and meditation practices.

    Losang Dragpa Centre
    Report of Directors & Trustees
    For the year to 31St December 2006
    Review of Progress

    The World Peace Café, ‘very popular with the local community’ was closed! See Review of Progress 2004.

    Losang Dragpa Centre (LDC) has seen a reasonable year with respect to income generation and a stable awareness within the local community about the centre and its activities. The directors and trustees consider the results, as set out in the Accounts, to be satisfactory.
    In general the course and retreat attendance has been reasonable.
    One of the main projects of the year was the initiation of the roof repair fund, a project designed to raising funds towards the roof repair of Dobroyd castle, the home of LDC. We worked closely with English Heritage and towards the end of the year were awarded a large grant of £127,000 under their listed places of worship scheme. This grant would be paid to the centre over the next two years if LDC was able to
    successfully match fundraise. Smaller grants and other sources of funding were identified and a plan to secure further funds towards the roof project was created.
    The stable block conversion project, due to start this year, was put on hold and the roof repair project was made a priority. After several months the restoration project, initiated in 2005, was also put on hold so that more time could be devoted towards the repair of the roof.
    Towards the end of the year a smaller project to upgrade the accommodation blocks was initiated and two of the bathrooms were refitted.
    The annual summer fayre in June 2006 had a similar attendance to the previous year (approx 1,500) and raised even more funds (approx £10,000), despite poor weather on the day.
    The amount of students living at LDC decreased during the year. Approximately a quarter of the students living and studying at LDC are international students.
    Our plans for 2007 included fundraising for our roof repair project and starting the first phase of the works with our conservation accredited architect and his team. Until August 2007 LDC continued to offer meditation courses and retreats at the castle and the surrounding areas to provide people with the opportunity to study Buddhist teachings and meditation practices.

    On the 20 August 2007 the NKT-IKBU withdrew its authorisation of the centre. Under article 82 of the Losang Dragpa Centre “Articles of Association” the Charity must be voluntarily wound up immediately if the authorisation given to the Charity by the NKT-IKBU is withdrawn from the Charity by the Spiritual Director acting in pursuance of the Internal Rules. The directors have therefore resolved to begin the process of dissolving the Charity and closing the centre. The Charity Commission has been advised and it is expected that the Charity will have sufficient assets to pay all its liabilities.

    Meanwhile, on foreign shores…

    Extract from NKT-IKBU accounts…

    The charity owns all the issued share capital in two foreign companies one in Italy costing £1,368,766, The Pensione Villa Splendor SL and the other in Spain costing £2,109,000 The New Kadampa Tradition KMC Spain SL.
    The Spanish company was formed by NKT – IKBU in 2005, and operates the hotel from premises which are owned by NKT – IKBU as is the goodwill all of which was purchased in 2005 and is included in the fixed assets. The Spanish hotel has been converted to follow the basic Buddhist precepts, including the creation of meditation rooms and shrines. Goodwill on the purchase of the hotel in Spain has been written off during the year as the opinion of the trustees was that with the poor trading of the hotel its acquired goodwill has been reduced to nothing.
    The Italian company was acquired in 2006 by purchasing the shares from an Italian family who owned all the shares. The Italian company owns the hotel and grounds. The hotel has been converted to follow the basic Buddhist precepts, including the creation of meditation rooms and shrines.
    With reference to the Spanish company the income for the year was £249,774 with expenses of £279,198 making a loss of £29,424. Total assets amount to £606,235 and liabilities total £839,068. Total funds are in deficit by £232,833. As regards the Italian company the income for the year was £125,905 and the expenditure was £168,653 making a loss of £42,748. The company at the year end had liabilities of £635,103.
    Assets total £592,355.

    17§5. If any NKT-IKBU Dharma Centre is wound up or dissolved for any reason whatsoever, then after paying or adequately providing for the debts and obligations of the Centre, the remaining assets of the Centre shall be distributed to one or more than one other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU in the same country.
    The centre was bought in 1995 for £350,000 and sold in 2008-9 for roughly £2,250,000
    A fair profit.

    But has it gone to an NKT-IKBU Centre in this country?’

    The Charity Commission agreed with me the NKT-IKBU had not followed their own rules and wrote to them advising they should do in future.

    ‘If you decide to contribute to a centre near you, like the one above, which would benefit your area, how keen would you be knowing that centre could be closed at any time and all its assets be distributed elsewhere?

    Remember the original purpose of the fund raising stressed the benefits for people in your area.

    Extract from Charity Commission

    A dissolution clause is the part of a charity’s governing document that enables the trustees or, if the charity has a membership, the members to decide to bring the charity to an end. The clause will often be found towards the end of the governing document. It will set out what is to happen to any remaining assets and who is responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the governing document are followed. In some cases our approval will be needed before the remaining assets can be used.

    The management at LDC said they were unaware of impending withdrawal of authorisation so it must have been the members who decided to bring the charity to an end.

    Do you know who your members are?

    They have the power to close you down and allocate all the assets where they think fit.

    From NKT-IKBU Structure and Governance.

    1§4. In order to bring them together under the auspices of a legal entity, each and every NKT-IKBU Dharma Centre shall be a member of the international Buddhist charity called the ‘New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union’, registered in England with company number 2758093 and charity number 1015054 (throughout this document called ‘the Charity’).

    12§1. Each and every NKT-IKBU Dharma Centre shall emphasise its development in the following ways:

    • gradually transforming the branches into independent NKT-IKBU Dharma Centres having their own charitable and financial status and their own Resident Teacher.

    So…

    You will be a member of the NKT-IKBU.

    You will have your own charitable and financial status.

    You will raise money and provide goodwill to develop the centre for the benefit of the people in your area.

    But, you will only continue to function as long as the members allow.’

    From NKT-IKBU Structure and Governance.

    The Members of the charity are (a) the sole Subscriber to the original Memorandum
    and Articles of the charity (namely Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso); and (b) all
    incorporated NKT-IKBU Buddhist Centres throughout the world; and (c) all the Resident
    Teachers of unincorporated NKT-IKBU Buddhist Centres throughout the world.

    Doesn’t appear to include the rank and file as members.

    John Swainson

  25. John Swainson says:

    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; the Commission has informed John McBretney (NKT head office’s representative in this matter) of this fact. Therefore, the repeated threats of litigation made against the existing trustees of Maitreya Buddhist Centre over the last few weeks were entirely without any legal foundation in both charity and company law; this is also backed up by the legal advice obtained by the trustees over the last few weeks. The management of the centre will fully comply with the guidance issued by the Commission in its reply and, given that John McBretney (who falsely claimed to be the legally valid representative of the members of Maitreya Buddhist Centre) has also stated in writing to the trustees’ solicitor his commitment to accepting in full the guidance of the Commission, it is now the hope of the management of Maitreya Buddhist Centre that all threats of litigation will now be withdrawn and that NKT head office will proceed instead to hold informal discussions in good faith with the management, or at least offer mediation, with a view towards an amicable resolution of the dispute. Meanwhile, all existing classes of the centre, such as are left, will continue as normal.

    I will allow that John McBretney wrongly assumed he was right.

    I will allow that Steve Cowing believed his statement on New Kadampa Truth about the aborted Highden Manor sale was justified, even though the statement was quickly removed.

    I will allow that New Kadampa Truth were mistaken when they said they had not breached their own rules regarding the allocation of monies gained from the sale of Losang Dragpa Centre even though the Charity Commission had said they had.

    ‘It would appear that the transfer was not in accordance with the Internal Rules because Manjushri KMC is described as being a part of NKT-IKBU and not a separate Member Centre. The relevant clause states that assets after dissolution “shall be distributed to one or more than one other Member Centre of the NKT-IKBU in the same country”.

    The Commission…’ will therefore write to the charity to advise that the charity must comply with its rules. I will advise trustees that they need to be able to justify their actions to the charity’s members and supporters.’ Charity Commission

    I will allow that the NKT were mistaken when they claimed they had checked this with the Commission before proceeding. The Commission has no record of this.
    If this matter had been checked with the Commission then it would have been clear that to dispose of the assets in this way would not be within the rules.

    The wording of this rule has since been altered.

    I am prepared to accept that the NKT believed they were acting properly in this matter.

    I wrote to NKT Truth asking this question.

    ‘Just been talking to the owner of one of the cottages next to the old Losang Dragpa Centre. He informed me that there had been a problem with the flow of water on to his land which was caused by a blockage in the drainage channels on LDC’s land. When he contacted the NKT office office and dealt with someone he referred to as Steve, he was told the centre was closed and it was not their responsibility. I was informed by the owner of the said property that the ownership of LDC had not changed at this point, therefore he wanted them to deal with the problem. There was further correspondence but eventually it ceased as the NKT office stopped responding. The remedial work was done at a cost of £6,000 by the owner of the said property.
    We know that the LDC property was sold in excess of £2,000,000, so why could the NKT not admit their responsibility for the remedial action? Or have I been misinformed?
    Please take this opportunity to clarify.
    Posted September 22nd 2010 and is still awaiting moderation!
    Ah well. In this centenary year of the sinking of the Titanic, it may be appropriate to say these things are just, ‘the tip of an iceberg’.

    A mischievious question.

    Are you going to become the new Priory Group?

    John Swainson

    John Swainson

    • andydharma says:

      ha, ha, ha! No, I don’t think I’m clever enough to help start anything like the Priory Group. Anyway, I think that’s not necessary anyway. Why do what Buddha Shakyamuni did and just wander off into the forest and anyone who wants to tag along can do so. No organisation, no hierarchy, just the freedom of the road and a trust in each other’s company and a wish to talk dharma all day and all night (in between contemplation and meditation, of course!). But then maybe I’m just irredeemable…

  26. tenpel says:

    It might be good to consider, that NKT leadership might try by all means also to close this wordpress blog. They might argue that you are using a name “Maitreya Buddhist Centre” for the blog which belongs to them. It might be good if you make updates of this blog by using the WordPress export function. BTW, could you kindly name the links of the official Maitreya Buddhist Centre website and the fraudulent one? Good luck! Your are really going through a challenge. I hope you can keep peace of mind and some humour …

  27. andydharma says:

    The fraudulent website was http://www.meditateinsussex.org, but the website has now been taken down and if you go there at the moment you just get a ‘page not found’ notice. No doubt our reporting of the website as fradulent had its effect. What is galling is that the supposed Resident Teacher of Maitreya Buddhist Centre was apparently flagrantly breaking the law by creating, or sanctioning the creation of, the website! The official website of the centre, registered with the Charity Commission, is http://www.meditateinbexhill.co.uk but that site is being redeveloped at the moment and that redevelopment is obviously being hampered by what is going on, not least because of the unwillingness of the Resident Teacher to work with the management team on issues like website development, or on any issues at all for that matter. As for this blog, it is not claiming to be the official blog of anything, not even of Maitreya Buddhist Centre, hence the absence of any NKT signage and any charity registration number. However, it would not surprise me if eventually the NKT tried to shut the blog down anyway through fair means or foul. But I think the NKT should concentrate on trying to act within the law themselves; after all, that is what I know Geshe Kelsang himself has always wanted the NKT to do.

  28. Arla says:

    I’m ex-NKT for similar organisational reasons and the declaration of the centre I was living at as “impure” – when I can say for sure that when Samden was at Manjushri centre that centre must have been way more impure but there has been no suggestion of closing it!

    Good luck to those trying to do the right thing; I hope you prevail and especially that you come out of this unharmed and strong in the dharma. Sadly in ways like this NKT has destroyed many people’s faith in the dharma and the huge benefits it has had on their lives.

  29. John Swainson says:

    The following confirms the fraudulent website was registered by the Resident Teacher.

    Now you can access domain ownership records anytime, anywhere… right from your own desktop!Download Now>

    Domain ID:D164947079-LROR
    Domain Name:MEDITATEINSUSSEX.ORG
    Created On:09-Mar-2012 00:38:07 UTC
    Last Updated On:09-Mar-2012 00:38:08 UTC
    Expiration Date:09-Mar-2013 00:38:07 UTC
    Sponsoring Registrar:NetEarth One Inc. d/b/a NetEarth (R1902-LROR)
    Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
    Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
    Registrant ID:DI_21235967
    Registrant Name:Christopher Skelton
    Registrant Organization:Maitreya Buddhist Centre
    Registrant Street1:Bodhisattva KMC
    Registrant Street2:3 Lansdowne Road
    Registrant Street3:
    Registrant City:Brighton
    Registrant State/Province:East Sussex
    Registrant Postal Code:BN3 1DN
    Registrant Country:GB
    Registrant Phone:+44.07900620455
    Registrant Phone Ext.:
    Registrant FAX:
    Registrant FAX Ext.:
    Registrant Email:

    Facebook still has this info.
    Launched 2012
    A Member of the New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union
    Company Overview
    Description
    MAITREYA KADAMPA BUDDHIST CENTRE, based in Bexhill, East Sussex, is a special place of tranquility, rest, reflection and friendship. It is home to an international Kadampa Buddhist community who share a similar wish to make their lives meaningful by finding lasting peace and happiness from within and helping others to do the same.
    CHARITY NUMBER 1108359

    ‘What is galling is that the supposed Resident Teacher of Maitreya Buddhist Centre was apparently flagrantly breaking the law by creating, or sanctioning the creation of, the website! ….the unwillingness of the Resident Teacher to work with the management team on issues like website development, or on any issues at all for that matter’

    This does not match with his ‘official’ description.

    ”…insight and wisdom skillfully(sic) guiding people to inner peace and happiness in their lives’..

    • tenpel says:

      For the resident teacher there is quite likely high pressure from the NKT leadership to do those actions. The policy NKT applies for people in power is: either you follow the instructions of the NKT leadership or you are removed. And of course if NKT loose face in the public, they will blame the resident teacher. This is just the common pattern of NKT power games. I could give examples if wished for.

      • andydharma says:

        Yes, I feel very sad for the Resident Teachers, as the demand for total obedience on their part is now so intense. Their whole livelihood is now so dependent upon the NKT that it is very easy for the NKT to make them dance to any tune whatsoever. I admire the intense faith and devotion of the Resident Teachers, but that faith and devotion has to be total in order to cope with a degree of loss of personal autonomy and assertiveness that most people in our society would find quite crippling.

      • anonymouswone says:

        What I think is sad about it is the people are trying to improve themselves and are then asked to do horrible things. Thats not exactly a good situation to be in. You have to start lying to yourself to convince yourself you are still a good person, whilst remaining haunted by a bunch of strange and seeminging horrible things youve been forced to do to other people.

        On my website http://thearticls.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/importance-of-controlling-and.html I recommend the NKT to follow 7 ethics. This problem is solved by ethic number 5
        Religious ethic 5: Do not treat new people & visitors different from converts. If you wouldn’t do it to a new person don’t do it to a convert & vice versa. Do not treat rich young able people differently from sick elderly poor people. If you wouldn’t invade a new person’s privacy don’t invade the privacy of a long time devotee. Following this guideline solves a huge range of issues.

        You would not on a persons first visit ask them to do horrible unethical things to another person and then to lie to themselves saying its for the greater good.

    • andydharma says:

      Many thanks for this, John. Very kind of you and very helpful for the ongoing investigation into the fraud.

  30. John Swainson says:

    Also, the contact phone number on the Maitreya Kadampa Buddhist Facebook page is that of the Bodhisattva Centre and not yours.

  31. tenpel says:

    “Yes, I feel very sad for the Resident Teachers, as the demand for total obedience on their part is now so intense. Their whole livelihood is now so dependent upon the NKT that it is very easy for the NKT to make them dance to any tune whatsoever. I admire the intense faith and devotion of the Resident Teachers, but that faith and devotion has to be total in order to cope with a degree of loss of personal autonomy and assertiveness that most people in our society would find quite crippling.”

    Well said.

    The problem I see that this is a part of the “NKT system”: it makes people totally dependent on NKT–especially for ordained.

    1) you study only GKG’s books 2) you receive a “special NKT ordination” (actual a simple Rabjung ordination) that is not accepted outside of NKT as a real monk or nun ordination (which would be a getsul (novice) or gelong (full ordination) 3) you learn only the point of view of one teacher 4) you can teach what you have learned only within NKT context + when you leave you cannot 1) use your ordination name anymore 2) teach GKG’s book anymore etc. (see internal rules) 3) teach Buddhism as you have learned it within NKT (because it is too one sided and superficial) etc …

    This process functions in the following way: all your spiritual life (and identity) is based and is conferred by NKT, and as soon as you leave NKT you are a nothing. You have to restart. There is no Buddhist school with such an extreme approach, which makes their close followers utter dependent, and it needs extreme courage to leave the NKT after you have invested more than 5 years into it. Few people will have such a courage, and the longer you were in NKT and the more hope you have placed into it, the harder it is to go …

  32. m says:

    As Geshe Kelsang once remarked, “The NKT Office shouldn’t tell centers what to do; centers should tell the NKT Office what to do”.

    • tenpel says:

      Nicely said, and this usually eases people but the policy is exactly the opposite and so it has been since NKT’s inception.

    • anonymouswone says:

      Where did this quote originate? Im looking for quotes to contradict the current developments. Ie I maybe need a bit more to convince people he said it eg a year or a situation or if someone important told u he said that

  33. John Swainson says:

    Sorrry to hear this one.

    I believe The Maitreya Centre is based in rented property. If so, what is the wording in the contract? Can The Maitreya Kadampa Centre rent a property for which The Maitreya Centre already hold the lease?
    Looks like another phone call to the Charity Commission.

    • andydharma says:

      Yes, Maitreya Centre’s premises are rented, but not on a commercial lease, so the premises could be ‘unrented’ quite easily…
      Yes, yet another submission to the Charity Commission is needed. Here we go again…

      • anonymouswone says:

        What about a protest? Like the Shugdenites did. Just go there holding signs and sing pujas all day. Make offering mandalas requesting Dharma. Maybe if they see they are turning away sincere Buddhists they will realise how ridiculous they are being

  34. tenpel says:

    I am sorry to hear this attempt to “take over” the MBC.

    It was predictable and NKT will now show some other sides …

    I wish you strength, clarity and courage and a deep rooted Dharma practice. OM MANI PÄME HUM.

    Your’re on the way.
    May all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the three times and ten directions bless you and be with you, so that your spiritual path can grow more and more, no matter what happens.

    • andydharma says:

      Many thanks for your kind words. So many people have expressed equally kind messages of support in so many ways. I am deeply grateful for them all.

  35. John Swainson says:

    You do have a contract with a landlord.
    You have your own charitable status.
    You have your own company name.
    No one but yourselves and the landlord has a right to be on the property.
    The Maitreya Kadampa Buddhist Centre can not be found on the Charity Commission website.
    The Maiteya Centre can be found.
    You as Trustees are responsible for the management of the centre.

    I understand your desire to find an amicable resolution to the dispute.
    How far have the NKT sought an amicable resolution?

    The Commission are the only arbiters here.

    You appear to hold all the cards but to win may result in withdrawal of authorisation from the NKT.

    However, you hold the lease, you hold independent charity status, you are an independent company.

    You hold the finance.

    • andydharma says:

      yes, all good points, none of which are lost on the centre’s landlord, with whom we have an excellent relationship.

  36. anonymouswone says:

    The thing is they cannot claim the status of charity or business unless they follow the guidelines that the charity commission makes them legally sign up for when they apply for a charity number. They have to have committees and democracy in order to get recognised as a charity

    • andydharma says:

      yes, you are correct. The new administration appointees of the NKT have absolutely no valid legal status in company or charity law. Therefore, they are, in effect, toothless and unable to effectively administer the centre anyway, no matter how much they try and bluff it.

  37. John Swainson says:

    Who will look after the ‘fort’ during the Spring Festival?

  38. John Swainson says:

    You have a statement from the Commission confirming your legal status. You have the backing of the landlord. You have someone on the property who has no right to be there. Call the police.
    If this person has no right to be there then they will advise them to leave. Is this person using the utilities without permission? That is theft.
    You could also withdraw your affiliation to an organisation which is using bullying tactics. Do you wish to remain affiliated to such an organisation?
    The statement related to the purpose of your charity says you will promote Buddhism as taught by Kelsang Gyatso. You could alter the purpose of the charity. After all, you are the legal representatives. Use other teachers. Kelsang Gyatso does not hold the copywrite on Buddhism, just as the Catholic Church does not hold the copywrite on Christianity.

  39. John Swainson says:

    You may not wish to resort to this but consider what would happen if an unauthorised person was driving customers away from a retail outlet against the wishes of the people with a legal right to trade. If the person, after being asked to leave, did not do so, the police would be called.

  40. to andy......respect to nkt/ikbu says:

    first comes the prophet….good!
    then the bureaucracy (a system in which most decisions are taken by unelected officials) …bad!

  41. raenn says:

    to andy …much respect
    to nkt/ikbu…….beware the the use of unbridled power!

  42. anonymouswone says:

    Before this trouble started:
    How many people were living at the centre?
    How many people were studying the foundation programme?
    How many people were attending Lama Chopa?
    How many people were attending the evening General programme class at the centre?

    (just to get a clear picture)

    • andydharma says:

      Four people were living at the centre. 3 now, not counting Gomchen.
      About 20 people were on the FP. Now it is less than 10, if, indeed, the FP is still running.
      About 5 to 10 people regularly attended Lama Chopa. A few days ago, only 3 were there.
      We used to have 3 evening GPs and one afternoon GP a week, bringing in between 30 to 50 people a week. Now only about a dozen come to the single GP that is left (Chodor brings his cohorts with him from Bodhisattva Centre to create an appearance of greater numbers).

  43. anonymouswone says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maitreya_Buddhist_Centre,_Bexhill.JPG perhaps this page needs more info. You know we should put the history of all this on wiki

    • anonymouswone says:

      The NKT admin office deletes all this history then pretends it didnt happen. We should be forming an archive of all these things

  44. John Swainson says:

    I support your action here.
    Does this monk physically restrain you from entering the Centre. Surely you have keys?

    • andydharma says:

      He does not have to physically restrain me. He has put a new padlock on the front door of the shop and has had the yale door lock changed by a locksmith, so that none of the keys held by anybody other than Gomchen, and those who Gomchen approves, work at all now. That means our Admin Director can no longer enter the centre to do any administration and indeed nobody can enter the centre without Gomchen’s explicit permission, even if they just want to meditate or do a puja in the centre’s gompa, as entry into the gompa is via the shop’s front door. Someone who has no part in the dispute turned up outside the front door and asked Gomchen if he could go into the centre to meditate and was refused by Gomchen! Not even the centre’s landlord can now enter his own property!

  45. John Swainson says:

    This person has changed the locks. Did he ask permission from the landlord? There must be something in your contract about this. The landlord should be allowed access to his property after prior notice.

    On a different tack, given that this person is occupying the premises with the sanction from Head Office, is this an organisation in which you can trust?

    When the new administrators moved into Losang Dragpa, the locks were changed to the workshops, so we, who worked there. could not gain admission without their blessing.

    • anonymouswone says:

      please can you copy and paste a good source of what happened at losang dragpa for me at http://articlesnkt.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/losang-dragpa-centre.html

    • andydharma says:

      Gomchen changed the locks without permission from the landlord, taking cruel advantage of the fact that the landlord is in poor health and has always been a very gentle and kind man who tries to do his best by his tenants and believes in talking through any problems, which is the complete opposite of NKT head office’s approach at the moment. I think the problem is not whether I can trust the NKT but whether the NKT is capable any longer of trusting anybody, even its own core devotees; the institutional paranoia now runs very deep, in my opinion. What the NKT fails to realise is that locking people out of the centre means that it has total control over – wait for it – an empty space. Well, they are welcome to enjoy an empty space, and, if that constitutes ‘winning’, then I’m happy to let them win! The real, truly meaningful centre – which is the group of people sincerely practising Dharma – has quite happily gone elsewhere, regrouped, and is enjoying Dharma teachings and group meditations in a relaxed atmosphere free of institutional control freakery and paranoia. And locking everybody out of the centre detroys the financial baisis for keeping the premises going anyway, so that empty space will soon become a ‘lost’ empty space. So what was that all about? I dunno, but it wasn’t about Dharma, of that I’m sure!

  46. anonymouswone says:

    Hope this is accurate I made an approximate history. If there were any other events that need adding please reply to me http://articlesnkt.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/maitreya-kmc.html

  47. John Swainson says:

    I don’t feel this is a matter of winning and losing. It is more an example of how far the NKT are prepared to go in a dispute; potentially breaking the law. This is yet to be decided. The Commission have had their say. The NKT have shown their hand by changing locks at a property not owned by them. They have interfered in the business of a Centre which is, as they say in the Internal Rules, independent both financially and legally.
    Given their past record I am not surprised by the developments at your Centre.
    If you walk away, they will maintain they were right to act in the way they have.
    If you continue with your action, a lawful decision will be made.
    If the decision is in your favour then your group can continue meeting at the original venue.

  48. tenpel says:

    Thank you Andy and anonymouswone. I saw this coming, and more might come like this …

    Later, after we removed Dekyong and Kunsang by police and moved to another place the obedient NKT followers entered this place and climbed through the windows to occupy it. Again the police was called to throw them out. Later they tried by legal means to become the legal owners of the place but they lost the case at court. However, though similar in pattern: utter delusion and paranoia, not trust but craziness – the case in Germany is also a bit more complex than yours seem to be. If I find time I will write a summery on your blog anonymousone.

    Andy and all Dharma devotes of MBC: Wishing you all the best, and the compassion and wisdom to make the best out of it!

  49. maddy says:

    perhaps it will help them find emptiness…………

    • andydharma says:

      They have certainly found an empty space. Maybe that is all they understand emptiness to mean. If so, no wonder they thought it was so important to break the law by breaking into it and locking everybody else out! I for one have no intention of trying to break back into their empty space; may they enjoy being inside that empty space and find meaning in reflecting on how that empty space is just a reflection of the emptiness that is inside their souls.

      • tenpel says:

        My experience is that NKT leadership always think THEY are right and OTHERS are deluded. So based on this type of pride they ignore laws and legal procedures as soon as developments weaken NKT’s power and control. They just feel so justified to have the right to occupy place which formerly (they said) and legally belongs to others.

  50. maddy says:

    yes it was like walking in on a jolly from Brighton last monday, very sad seeing robed people so deluded and pretending to be Buddhists, rallying around their leader in desperation with fixed grimaces, it’s enough to scare anyone away, let alone the gentle souls of Bexhill on Sea!

  51. John Swainson says:

    The Hastings Observer seems to have a block on their article about the dispute.

  52. John Swainson says:

    Hi Andy
    The fraudulent website meditateinsussex.org appears to be operational. There are two names for the centre. One is the original, the other is Maitreya Kadampa Buddhist Centre. When I type in Maitreya Centre and use the domain name meditateinsussex.org I get the Kadampa version. So it seems both titles are being used. The charity number is the same.

  53. [...] 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 [...]

  54. John Swainson says:

    Hi Andy

    Help me out here please.
    I understood your domain name was meditateinbexhill.org and this gave your site under construction.

    Meditateinsussex.org always pointed me to the fake webite.

    However, now all I get is the same website whichever domain name is entered.

    According to one of the domain searches the domain name meditateinbexhill.org is available to buy.

    Am I wrong?

    John Swainson

    • andydharma says:

      Our original domain name was meditateinbexhill.co.uk, which has now been taken over by Chodor and his team as Chodor managed skilfully to persuade the wesbite host to transfer ownership of the site away from the legal management team, despite us advising the website host not to allow this. It’s all part of the ‘grab everything while you can’ mentality of Chodor’s team. Now that he has resurrected the mediateinsussex.org website, he has no doubt linked the two websites together. Anyway, the bigger picture is that there are now two big investigations going on: one by Companies House and one by the Charity Commission (for the second time!). They are very serious, in-depth investigations which could later lead to a more serious police investigation (an initial enquiry has already been completed) if criminality/illegality is established by either investigation. So it does not really matter what Chodor and his team get up to now, because they are just digging an ever deeper hole for themselves. They are taking a high-stakes bet that the statutory authorities will not eventually move against them. They have cojones for sure, but I suspect they have their work cut out behind the scenes now with the awkward questions undoubtedly being thrown at them by the authorities. We’ll see…

  55. John Swainson says:

    Cojones. Was that used as a noun or a verb?

  56. John Swainson says:

    The website host, is it the same as those used by all NKT Centres?
    If so that would be a considerable lever for the NKT to persuade the host to act in their favour.They could withdraw from that host and it would then lose out financially.

  57. John Swainson says:

    Is it domains@kadampahosting?

  58. John Swainson says:

    Only looked at a few Centres but they have used Kadampa Hosting

  59. John Swainson says:

    Seems like you have your website back!

    • andydharma says:

      Illusory. Yes, the website is back up, but Chodor still owns it and has changed all the passwords to prevent our web people having any access to it. Quite what game Chodor is playing by allowing the website to go back up, especially when he already has his own one operational again, is anybody’s guess! Still, it does not matter, because he is still digging himself an ever deeper hole…

      • John Swainson says:

        Hi Andy

        Please forgive a poor peasant but how can he own it? You are the ones that pay the bills for this site.
        I know this is all incidental stuff and the meat lies in the decisions elsewhere but surely these actions are crackers on their part?

      • andydharma says:

        Yes, my colleagues are paying the bills, for now anyway. After all, we are trying to be good Buddhists, allowing the fortunate few, those who are still regarded as ‘pure’ enough, to continue to receive Dharma at the centre, even if it is Dharma as taught by people who regard us as ‘impure’, and who do not have any willingness to talk with us amicably as one human being to another. At no point have we stopped the Dharma being taught. Only Chodor and his team stopped Dharma being taught, arbitrarily, without discussion or explanation. Still, we go the extra mile, and practise generosity and patience even to those who would deny the same things to us. Surely this is what Geshe-la taught.

  60. John Swainson says:

    ‘The principal object of the charity is to make Buddhist teachings available to the public’,
    But only those considered pure enough. Public benefit my foot…!

    Are your residents locked out or are they ‘pure’.

    • tenpel says:

      IMO the term purity or pure is often abused within NKT as a political means. It has been used from the inception of NKT as a means to establish some specialness which makes NKT unique and distinct different from the “degenerated [world]” of Tibetan Buddhism.

      Such a promulgation of purity of the own school of thought and the own followers, and the direct or indirect claims of a degenerated Tibetan Buddhist world in general is easily going into the direction of breaking the first root vow of the Bodhisattva “Praising ourselves and/or belittling others” “out of desire for profit, praise, love, respect, and so on from the person addressed, or jealousy of the person belittled”. So there is a history behind the use of the term purity within NKT which I think would be good to question.

      In power struggles within NKT the term pure or purity is used to withdraw power and status from others as it suits. Which just indicates that this term pure has been used already naturally as a power means, and so it is easy to apply it in situation where there is a fear of loosing power.

      • andydharma says:

        Yes, a very good analysis of the situation. I would only add that it is not just a fear of losing power but also a deep-seated anxiety about group and personal identity that underlies the use of ‘purity’ as a means of demarcating the pure NKT-self from the impure non-NKT world. Worrying this much about purity just creates a new caste, and we’re then back to the original ‘Buddha versus the Brahmins’ situation. Somehow I don’t think the Buddha cared a jot about caste…

      • tenpel says:

        Thank you. This is very true what you added: “a deep-seated anxiety about group and personal identity that underlies the use of ‘purity’ as a means of demarcating the pure NKT-self from the impure non-NKT world.” It might be a general tendency that for many Buddhists in general their groups and leaders have become something like a corporate identity with which they identify and which they regard often as somewhat esteemed and better than others (one finds this also with Ole Nydahl and his Diamond Way Buddhism).* With such a mentality not only the ego gets involved and starts to complicate things but also pride (to be special) and sectarianism (attachment to one’s own school of thought and aversion or hostility to others) come into play. If the latter two mindsets have developed spiritual progress is halted as long as they are in the mind.

        *I think this grasping to identity is often based on a feeling of a weak self, some disorientation in the social society, and the loss of family structures in Western societies.

  61. Jas Baku says:

    This sounds incredibly painful. My heart goes out to all involved; best wishes and prayers to you.

  62. Claire from Bognor says:

    Hi Andy,

    So sorry to hear what has been happening, I hope that you and Sonam and all concerned are OK. Please give my love to everyone – I am thinking about you and wishing you all a peaceful resolution to the situation. I know that you all have such good hearts and I hope to see you all again one day. Will you be going to Festivals? (Remember how courageous we all were in Berlin!). Do let me know where you set things up – I don’t have your contact details but will see if someone else does. Please tell Sonam I still appreciate all his love and advice.

    Best wishes,
    Claire
    X

  63. tenpel says:

    Did you try to speak with Geshe-la, Kunsang or Dekyong?

    • andydharma says:

      I sent a letter to Geshe-la about a month or so ago, which I’m fairly sure reached him as a special line of access opened up for me (yes, disillusionment with the actions of NKT head office has spread further and deeper than even I had realised!). I have had no reply so far. I see no point in contacting Dekyong or Kunsang as I understand they are totally supportive of the actions of John McBretney. Still, if my understanding is incorrect, they are welcome to contact me anytime! Anyway, my letter to Geshe-la was sincere, heartfelt and comprehensive, so if I get no reply then I know that that avenue of appeal is forever closed off to me.

      • tenpel says:

        Thank you Andy.

        I sent also a heartfelt and sincere letter to Geshe-la. He replied, and the answer helped me to reaffirm my decision to leave NKT. From the very beginning (at that time, in 2000) Kunzang and Dekyong acted on his behalf.

        Nevertheless, I think it were good if you could receive a reply from him.

  64. John Swainson says:

    Thanks for that Andy

  65. tenpel says:

    Thanks for the update. I hope you are still in a good shape of mind? The current situation might be quite challenging. May the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the three time and ten directions bless you – and NKT administration too of course ;-)

  66. John Swainson says:

    Andy, who will be the referee?
    Will there be an agreement as to a fair dialogue between you?

    What it comes down to is you have been denied access to a property for which you pay rent. You have people in that property who have no right to be there. They have fraudulently used your charity number. What makes the Charity Commission think there will be useful dialogue unless an independent agency is present?
    I understand your desire for an amicable resolution here but is it realistic?
    The Commission have already suggested dialogue but as you say there has been none. All they are doing is suggesting the same. They are forcing the NKT to the table but who will arbitrate?

    • andydharma says:

      Yes, who will arbitrate in the fair and impartial way that arbitration and/or mediation must be done? That is the ultimate question. You could say whether or not that question can be answered will be the defining moment in this whole dispute. Arbitration and/or mediation could have been tried from day one of the dispute. It wasn’t, and here we are six months or so after the dispute started and we are still waiting for it to be tried. I honestly don’t know whether or not to hope for fairness and impartiality at this stage is realistic, but I do know that for the Charity Commission to refuse to register the three trustees claimed by the NKT as being legally valid is simply disastrous for the NKT from a public relations point of view and reveals its lack of ability to demonstrate publicly that it is acting legitimately in this dispute. The only way it can hope to put that right is to get serious about fair and impartial arbitration/mediation that meets the parameters of natural justice as recognised by the legal authorities of the land. For the NKT to keep insisting that it is acting legally without any genuine evidence to back that up is just not going to cut the mustard anymore.

  67. John Swainson says:

    Hi Andy

    ‘The Commission has refused to consider officially recognising the three new charity trustees imposed upon the centre by the NKT unless both parties to the dispute over the centre have demonstrated that they have participated in mediation, which has to be offered by the Education Council of the NKT’

    If your statement here is accurate I find the word ‘unless’ ringing a warning.

    Does this mean that if the NKT offer mediation the imposed trustees will be recognised by the Commission?

    This would mean they become legitimate in the eyes of the Commission putting your legal position in jeopardy.

    John

    • andydharma says:

      As I understand it, from studying the Charity Commission response, just offering mediation is not enough. The mediation would have to be demonstrably authentic, and there would have to be a resolution achieved by that mediation process. And mediation being what it is, the resolution has to be acceptable to both sides and the process has to be guided by a neutral third-party whose impartiality is accepted by both sides. If the Education Council cannot actually offer, and implement, that kind of process then its own legal position is in jeopardy, and the Charity Commission has indicated that it is just not interested in intervening at all unless mediation can be demonstrated to have occurred.

      • John Swainson says:

        Hi Andy

        Mediation implies there will be an agreement where both sides are reasonably happy with the outcome. The fact that you are a legally and financially independent charity which cannot function as its teachers have been suspended and it’s premises hijacked is beyond doubt. If there is mediation then you surrender your automony. They will gain a foothold which, at present , they do not legally have. As I have stated bfore, the Charity Commisssion are of no use when it comes to action. What are they trying to do?

        They will not recognise the NKT ‘trustees’ unless they agree to mediation is throwing the onus on to the two parties and not taking the lead in deciding a dispute where one side has a legal right to function and the other no legal claim at all.

        If mediation occurs the Commission will not need to intervene.

        John

      • andydharma says:

        You may be right, but my understanding is that if there is successful mediation, the Charity Commission will not need to intervene. And mediation is only successful if it is fair and impartial. Moreover, mediation can only happen if both sides set aside all attempts to nail down the rights and wrongs of the case and reach a compromise that suits both sides. Our side is, and has always been, willing to do this. The question is: is the NKT willing?

  68. John Swainson says:

    Hi Andy

    May I suggest you go back to your original posts and refresh your memory as to why the dispute arose in the first place. Then look at the way they have conducted themselves. To set aside the rights and wrongs is to ignore the fact they have acted in the way they have.

    If they do not agree to mediation and the Commission do not recognise their trustees then the situation still exists where you, the legal occupants of a property, are still unable to use.

    If they gain any sort of power here after mediiation how long will it be before you are told your presence is not welcome as you are upsetting the community?

    • andydharma says:

      Yes, all your points are valid, but what I am convinced of is that if they flatly refuse mediation, then they are in a legal black hole, which opens up lots of options for us to use as far as regaining lost ground is concerned. And if they do go through genuine mediation, they will lose some power, not gain more, as they would have to retreat from a position of wanting total control over everything if mediation is to be publicly seen to be done. Rest assured that we would hold the NKT to the highest legal standards if they did accept mediation.

  69. John Swainson says:

    ‘Fresh advice from the Charity Commission has now been received. The Commission has refused to consider officially recognising the three new charity trustees imposed upon the centre by the NKT unless both parties to the dispute over the centre have demonstrated that they have participated in mediation, which has to be offered by the Education Council of the NKT, in an attempt to resolve the dispute’

    All the NKT need to do is negotiate their new trustees onto your board. There is no upper limit to the number of trustees so if they outnumber you then the NKT win

    ‘The Commission’s view is that Mr R.B., Mr J.B. and Mr A.D. are the charity’s trustees. I have informed Mr J.M. of this view’.

    So what mediation is needed?

    Unauthorised personnel are on the property. If they have changed the locks without permission then that damage needs repairing.

    ‘The Commission is unable to intervene in the running of the charity and as such I am unable to offer you any advice or guidance regarding this. I can only suggest that you seek independent professional advice with this regard’

    If they are unable to intervene in the running of the charity then what is their purpose, why do they refuse to recognise…’the three new charity trustees imposed upon the centre by the NKT unless both parties to the dispute over the centre have demonstrated that they have participated in mediation, which has to be offered by the Education Council of the NKT, in an attempt to resolve the dispute’?

    Surely, this is intervention.

  70. [...] (1) In about 2006 the NKT was able to get through the Charity Commission the new rule that all NKT Resident Teachers in the UK are natural legal members of each local independent NKT centre / charity trust. This means that each of the about 51 NKT resident teachers of NKT in UK is at the same time a member of each independent local NKT centre (without having ever seen or worked with it), and all of them are members in each centre. If there is a local NKT centre—which is according to NKT, CC, and its own constitution an independent charity trust—with about 20 local members, then still those 50+ NKT Resident Teachers are also member of this supposed “independent” charity trust. And those 50+ NKT Resident Teachers can overpower any vote by the local NKT centre just by their majority. This scenario has been applied by NKT leadership already in the context of the Losang Draga Centre (the trustees didn’t want to sell the centre but NKT leadership wanted to sell it) and recently NKT tried to apply this rule with respect to the Maitreya Centre in order to remove “rebellious” trustees and to replace them with trustees who are utter obedient to NKT leadership (see story and discussion here.) [...]

  71. john swainson says:

    See my post 21st March above

  72. beth says:

    This is exactly the type of situation for which they created this Resident Teacher Member level. The theory being that they can just remove anyone they feel is not compliant.

    • andydharma says:

      Yes, that summarises the situation exactly! It may be one way of running an organisation, but it has nothing to do with Dharma or the Buddha. Indeed, it’s the exact opposite, as any study of the Vinaya would show.

      • tenpel says:

        The Vinaya is indeed very democratic but sadly its not present within the NKT though it would offer so much help and guidance for the ordained …

  73. beth says:

    Festivals are over. Any movement?

    • andydharma says:

      No movement on the mediation front at all. But there was an attempt by the NKT-appointed new ‘trustees’ to have me arrested for fraudulent use of centre funds. That attempt failed completely as soon as my solicitor gave the facts of the case to the police, who have now completely withdrawn the threat of arrest. Presumably this attempt to criminalise the whole matter was the NKT’s way of trying to avoid having to go to mediation. Question is: why are they so afraid of mediation?

      • tenpel says:

        Thank you for this.

        “Question is: why are they so afraid of mediation?”

        IMO, in the NKT culture there is no attitude of openness and open discussion. Nor is there an attitude of taking others point of views seriously or even to reconsider that the own point of view might be wrong. Rather there is a thorough attitude of “we are right” (or “I am right”) and who concords with us is also right, while all those of different opinions are not only wrong, they cannot be taken seriously either, and are deluded and they become an enemy, as soon as they express their thoughts in the public.

        There is no way to discuss with a person or organisational body whose members hold on to the own views and beliefs as supreme. Seeing the own views as supreme is one of the five types of wrong views and leads to a mass of delusions. True humanity cannot grow in such an environment.

  74. Tenpel says:

    Hi Andrew, thank you for the info about mediation and Buddhism. There is another good text by John McConnell (UK), who himself was a Quaker, and later became a Buddhist: “Mindful Mediation” you get it at Amazon UK for £9. He came in the past to Sri Lanka and other countries as a mediator and then learned Buddhism there, realizing how much it is suited for mediation. Now he uses dependent arising (paticca samuppada) as the very start of every conflict resolution process.

    • andydharma says:

      Many thanks for this, Tenpel. Sounds like the book should become recommended reading for administrators of Buddhist centres!

      • Tenpel says:

        Many Buddhist Centres apply mediation already. Also the Kagyue Centre I support in Berlin is applying mediation in conflicts. Its a perfect means if both parties agree and the mediator is qualified. I think its a matter of openness and being humble …

      • andydharma says:

        This is fascinating! Are you able to say how the Kagyue Centre you support appoints the mediator? Where are the mediators found? Which other Buddhist Centres use mediation?

  75. Tenpel says:

    Usually we ask first one of the centre members (often a psychologist) who is qualified if he/she is willing to mediate and then we ask the parties if they accept him/her as a mediator. In another case we organised an external mediator. We suggested him and those needing mediation had to decide if they are willing to accept him. To find mediators I would suggest to first check within the organisation and if there is none, to check outside. (But an internal mediator makes only sense when it is not a conflict between the organisation and a group of people but between few people within the organisation, and the mediator must not be involved in the conflict or taking sides with one of the parties.) The external mediator was found by one of the board members personal relation and it turned out to be a really good choice.

    The key point is to see where and when mediation is needed to suggest it to the parties, and if everybody accepts then to find a suitable one which both sides can happily accept. (And of course clarifying the costs for it.)

    I heard that other Buddhist centres also apply mediation. For instance a big centre in Frankfurt engaged one in a particular situation. It was felt by all sides as very helpful – though it was too late to resolve the conflict. When I remember correctly I think also Rigpa makes use of mediation. I heard it here and there when I talked with people, that Buddhist centres use mediators – but of course not all.

    • andydharma says:

      This is very enlightening and useful information, Tenpel, so thanks for that! According to research shown me by my solicitor, formal mediation in the UK has the following success rate: about 75% of cases settled on the day, with another 14% settled shortly thereafter, giving an aggregate settlement rate of 89%. So, once again, why does the NKT fear mediation?

      • Tenpel says:

        I think, it is extremely successful because it takes both sides seriously and both sides can meet on the same level, none is higher than the other or lower. This unbiased attitude gives space for compassion and understanding to grow – compassion and understanding for oneself and for the other side.

        “So, once again, why does the NKT fear mediation?” I am sure you know the answer.

  76. john swainson says:

    The CC advocate mediation. NKT do not appear to agree. Therefore the CC should be proactive in finding a resolution.

  77. How do you know that Geshe’la received the letter?

    • andydharma says:

      I know for sure that the letter reached Geshe-la’s secretary/personal assistant. The possibility of that person not handing the letter to Geshe-la, or informing him about it, does not bear thinking about.

  78. Frank says:

    Thank you for publishing your letter in the archives. I hope you find some inner peace through these difficult times. Personally, I would hand over the administration of the centre to the NKT-IKBU. There are greater struggles than this one that require greater attention..
    In many Asian cuntries, the citizens are very well trained in conflict avoidance rather than in discussion. Silence is used, not as aggression, but as a method of solving the problem. This is a difficult concept to understand for us westerners. Thanissaro Bhikkhu once said that he is not a big fan of dialogue as he has already enough internal dialogue to sort out.

    It appears, to me, that the outcome is pre-determined.

    • andydharma says:

      Thank you for your kind words, which are deeply appreciated. I and my colleagues have always been willing to hand over the administration of the centre, but we were never given the chance to do so amicably in consultation with the NKT. The NKT simply took over the administration by force, reinforcing the fiat accompli by changing the locks and taking over whatever assets and documents they could get their hands on. What I and my colleagues will never do is grant legitimacy to that and neither will the Charity Commission as long as mediation is refused. No doubt the NKT can live with that as they have most of what they want, but the lack of legitimacy will haunt them in the long term because I know for a fact that this, and similar episodes, has not gone unnoticed by the statutory authorities and those with influence within government, and sooner or later there will be a reckoning between the secular authorities and the NKT – and there can be only one winner. By that time I will have happily long gone into the silence.

      • Frank says:

        Thank you too for your honesty. I too felt a need for a sense of social/natural justice. But, if we look at other religious institutions we can clearly see that they have survived far worse crimes. From a Buddhist perspective (as you know) natural justice is part of the doctrine.

        It is obvious that the NKT never wished for the issue to be mediated.

        You are no longer a part of the NKT and this occurred when you stopped following the chain of command. You have essentially rejected the NKT and have either started your own tradition or are following another tradition. Would the NKT then enter into mediation with someone from another tradition?

        What will you do from this point forward? Will you rejoin the NKT? Will you join another tradition? Will you abandon Buddhism in favour of another faith?
        Where will you go from this point forward?

        In my life, I am struggling to regain a regular practice.I enjoy listenning to Gil Fronsdal… he presents Buddhism in a modern form which I can relate to. Would I call myself a Buddhist – probably not, as I can no longer go for refuge.

        Either way it is a difficult journey for you.
        I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide to do.
        Try to maintain a peaceful mind and try to let go of your attachments during the process.

  79. andydharma says:

    Thank you again for your kind words and compassionate advice, which I shall try to follow. You are absolutely right to identify membership of the NKT as now totally dependent on whether or not one follows the “chain of command”. Total obedience is the criterion for inclusion in that lineage. But I do have the sense that it is the NKT management hierarchy that has wandered away from the tradition of Geshe-la and is actually creating a new tradition of its own. It feels more that the NKT left me rather than me leaving the NKT (ironically, the NKT has removed for me my attachment to the NKT lineage, and I’ve felt increasingly liberated as a result!). What I will do from this point forward is to follow the Buddhist path as my inner wisdom and my Spiritual Guide(s) help me to do and at the moment that means learning from many traditions as well as from the ‘tradition’ of my own experiences and realisations, some of which came from, and do still come from, the ‘blessings’ I feel that I still receive from Geshe-la. You mentioned ‘refuge': is that something that is an exclusively Buddhist practice? Or is it, in essence, something universal, beyond all lineages and traditions, reformulated differently by each tradition/lineage/faith? I would argue that you are going for refuge every time you listen to somebody like Gil Fronsdal, and benefiting from it. And perhaps it is irrelevant whether or not one calls oneself a Buddhist as a result of doing that. Anyway, just my quirky view! I wish you all the very best in your spiritual activities and meditations.

    • Frank says:

      Possibly the NKT left you or you left the NKT. In my case, I sometimes feels like it is the later. But it is no different to any worldly relationship and a Dharma/Dhamma centre is still a worldly relationship. Both participants of that relationship are in a constant state of flux. Is the person who changes responsible… or is the person who refuses to change responsible… or is it both? I personally think that the NKT management is following the chain of command and that Geshe-la is the first link of that chain. Is this good or is this bad? Well I guess it depends on a persons perspective and purity of mind. In my worldly life, I have had people treat me harshly (physical and verbal abuse) and yet I have viewed them with kindness and affection. Can I extend this kindness and affection to other contexts? Not at the moment! This is more than likely due to having felt a sense of betrayal and my sense of person-hood has been harmed as a result. But at the end of the day, I am responsible for my own feelings.

      I guess every living being goes for refuge. Even an unearthed worm goes for refuge to moist and fertile soil. But from a Buddhist perspective this type of refuge results in bondage – not freedom. Going for Buddhist refuge is a personal thing and requires time to develop and, once destroyed , requires time to regain. Many people do not, and cannot, regain a sense of trust to sustain such a healthy relationship. We move on and return to our worldly lives – trying to make sense of existence. Do other faiths/traditions have equally beneficial refuge practices? I tend to believe they do and, depending on the individual, may have refuge practices that hold greater validity (for them). At one time, I watched a Catholic priest on his death bed… he was the gentlest of souls and was polite and courteous till the end. He always thanked those around him and asked when the next service was being held; even in his pain and discomfort. Would I treat others in the same way and would I turn to prayer? No I would not.

      Thank you once more for your blog. This will be my last post…best of luck :-)

      • andydharma says:

        Many thanks for your contributions to this blog and for the truly lovely story about the Catholic priest in his deathbed – what a way to go! Best of luck to you! :-)

  80. tenpel says:

    Very nice discussion. Thank both of you.

    Andy, I just pointed out to someone the meditation by Atisha, where he teaches on the Sutra level the reliance on a teacher. A method not being taught in NKT where there is only the tantric level explained (and this also not in full detail.) I was thinking this method taught by Atisha might be interesting for your or some of your friends:

    http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/e-books/published_books/spiritual_teacher/pt2/spiritual_teacher_08.html

    • andydharma says:

      Thanks so much for this, tenpel! Your link is so useful, for me anyway. This is definitely the kind of nuanced analysis of reliance upon a spiritual guide that I never received within the NKT, despite the fact that this analysis is apparently derived from the Kadampa tradition!

  81. [...] get a better grip on the deceptive nature it is good to read the history of Maitreya Buddhist Centre – which stands also for cases within NKT not made public – and the deceptive campaign of the [...]

  82. [...] meanwhile, I would like to offer a review by Andrew Durling – who is also a former NKT follower who just recently left NKT – which he posted on Amazon. He kindly agreed that it can be posted here on the blog [...]

  83. lucy kingsley says:

    Is anybody still here?

    • andydharma says:

      Yes, I’m still here! Nothing further to report as NKT has still not accepted offer of mediation to resolve dispute at Maitreya Buddhist Centre in Bexhill. However, it has come to my attention that the NKT has been referred to the Charities Commission for submitting an inaccurate and misleading statement of the Centre’s financial affairs, so that may change the overall situation at some point in the future. Meanwhile I and many of my former colleagues at the Centre are happily engaged in pursuing our spiritual meditations elsewhere. Merry Christmas, everybody!

  84. Beth says:

    That could get interesting. Wonder how it was inaccurate or misleading. Guess we will have to wait to see if anything ever becomes public.

    • andydharma says:

      It was misleading because the income and expenditure figures were absurdly too low compared to the previous year’s figures, despite the retention of the same premises for the centre. But then keeping the figures low enough ensured that a full set of accounts did not need to be submitted to the Charity Commission, thereby avoiding any real public accountability. Very convenient, n’est pas?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers