winds of change…

2012 has been an epic year for me for the obvious reason that Maitreya Buddhist Centre in Bexhill broke apart as a result of the extreme stresses placed upon it by the  decisions of NKT management, all of which were bizarre in the extreme and were not defended in any coherent or rational way by the NKT. But then 2012 was  an epic year of tremendous change throughout the NKT, as witnessed by the strange, mysterious transfer of  Tharpaland from its Scottish base in the Forest of Ae to its new base in Schloss Sommerswalde in Germany. The sale of the Scottish Tharpaland was publicly defended by the NKT on the basis that nearby wind farm projects within 5 miles of  Tharpaland would disturb the meditative concentration of NKT people engaged in retreat at Tharpaland, and a series of so-called ‘scientific’ research studies were done by the NKT to supposedly ‘prove’ this. Needless to say, the studies were without the slightest scientific validity,  which explains why they were not published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal, and anyway this reason for moving Tharpaland is fatally undermined by the fact that the new Tharpaland base in Germany is only 4 miles away from a wind farm, and is also in the German state of Brandenburg, which has over 3,000 wind turbines;  indeed, more wind turbines per capita than any other area in the world! As usual, the real reason for the sale of the Scottish Tharpaland is never given by the NKT, despite the fact that this place was where Geshe Kelsang Gyatso himself did several years of retreat there, making the site a very blessed place for many NKT followers and presumably the site was one that worked very well as a retreat centre for many years.

Furthermore, the fact that the NKT settled its court case in New Zealand over the aborted purchase of Highden Manor by paying the damages awarded against it, damages that apparently amounted to $1 million, was never made public by the NKT. This gross incompetence on the part of NKT management has cost the NKT charity dear, but NKT disciples have no opportunity to question the NKT managers on this gross waste of charity money, or indeed to question the NKT on anything that goes on behind the closed doors of NKT head office.  Perhaps the MPs who are asking why the RSPCA have spent over £325,000 of charity money on legal fees in prosecuting a hunt for illegally killing a fox ought to ask hard questions of the NKT about squandering so much charity money on a aborted attempt to purchase property in New Zealand, breaking New Zealand law in the process. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “there is something rotten in the state of the NKT”, but just quite what is causing the rot or how far it has spread, and how much further it has to go, is anyone’s guess. Certainly the NKT management will never tell you…

But that is, as they say, history. And when traditions, especially Tibetan Buddhist ones, become ossified and sclerotic once the spiritual impetus of their founders fade away, then history tells us that new lineages form as students and disciples break away from institutional rigidity to establish new, initially smaller study groups that revel in renewed creative endeavours and freedom of practice. That I can definitely verify from my own personal  experience during 2012, and it is what gives me hope and energy for 2013.

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