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Lost and reaching out

WisopWisop United Kingdom New

Hi all! I'm reaching out on here as I'm feeling lost, and a bit heartbroken, about my initial journey into Buddhism. For years I've had a mild interest in it, but only for the last few months I've been going to one evening class a week, and then a few lunchtime classes in the day, and always loved it and found it very helpful. I was even looking forward to starting a foundation course as I wanted to take a step further than the general repeated tips of the general public classes.

But, as I'm sue a lot of those reading this will have gathered, I'm talking about the NKT, and after just the simplest googling, I'm horrified at what I've seen. Not just who's right or wrong, but that there arre protests in the first place, international b*tching, the 'survivors', this leader is apparently a fraud and and it's all a cult? or is it the Dalai Lama? I'm so disillusioned.

I've never noticed anything close to this at my local centre, but now I can't get it out my mind. I value the teachings, I thought it was original and valued and renowned, not that I'd know either way.
But my biggest problem is, if all this is the case, what else is there? There's no other buddhist centres or anything like it anywhere near me that I'm aware of, I don't want to turn my back on the whole thing, it's been wonderful. I suppose I just want someone to say 'yeah there were some bad eggs but it's all good really, keep going it's just as nice as you always thought it was.' I feel so lost, can anyone understand what I'm saying?


  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Yep. Went through the same thing about five years ago too. Ended up avoiding the NKT after reading all the online stuff and having a few experiences that I wasn't entirely comfortable with.

    But they did seem to be generally nice and compassionate people.

    I am always a little wary though when followers of a teacher start claiming he's enlightened. That can be dangerous. I heard that a number of times in the NKT.

    I have a friend that I respect a lot and she has been a member of NKT for many years and seems perfectly content and peaceful.

    Please don't throw the baby out with the bath water though. There are heaps of online groups you can join if you think the NKT isn't for you. Hang in there and keep your eyes open.

  • @Bunks said:> Please don't throw the baby out with the bath water though. There are heaps of online groups you can join if you think the NKT isn't for you. Hang in there and keep your eyes open.

    Good advice. I was involved in NKT myself a long time ago. I was aware of the controversy ( some ugly Tibetan religious politics, IMO ), but didn't have major concerns based on the people I actually met. One solution is to remain on friendly terms with the current group, while exploring other options.

    The Buddhanet directory is always worth checking, not all local groups are listed but the ones who are should know what else is going on.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I don’t have any experience with NKT, but a lot of different forms of Buddhism share many aspects. For instance the closest centre to me is a Tibetan Buddhism Gelug temple, and I did a number of courses there even though I sympathise more with Thich Nhat Hanh and Theravada. It was a valuable learning experience and taught me quite a lot about the dharma, even if it wasn’t perfectly aligned with the school I felt closest to.

    So the main thing I would say is don’t get too hung up on the exact school you’re following, just concentrate on the Buddha's lore and practice, and you should find it useful regardless, with perhaps the exception of Pureland, which is a bit different in its concerns and beliefs. As you learn more about the different schools you will find your way.

  • WisopWisop United Kingdom New

    Thanks guys, I think you're right in that I should take what I can from all the good aspects, and I still haven't seen anything particularly sinister. I like to think maybe just my centre has toned it down a bit. One small picture of Geshela, no guru worship, very little even states NKT on it and they seem quite independent.

    I'm glad to see in that directory there are a few other places in northampton to try out too.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Trust how you feel when you are actually with the group you work with. If you look deep enough there is a lot of "garbage" in almost any tradition. For me, it comes down to whether the truth of the wisdom changes due to the faults of the people. To me, it doesn't. I will take wisdom and teaching wherever I can get it, but I do stay aware of the motives of people always, because even in Buddhism there are rotten apples. If the things you see and hear in your group make you uncomfortable, there is a reason for it. If not, then why not enjoy what you are getting out of it and learning, and just keep your eyes open?

  • just the simplest googling, I'm horrified at what I've seen.

    Google can be like that ... :dizzy:

    For genuine dharma, you need a tree to sit under ... wait ... [news just in ... tree not required ...] ;)

    Excellent down to earth advice from @karasti
    Learn how to meditate independent of ... well everything ...

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    The benefit will come mainly from within, from you doing the exercises as you are taught.
    Yes, there is a secondary benefit from being around a teacher who has some skill at being a Buddhist. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a living example is worth a million.

    But don't be too quick to judge.
    Firstly, understand that until enlightenment, we are all flawed. And that includes teachers and dharma groups too. All we need is for them to be further down the road than us, to point out the way. Don't expect perfection. Especially since they cannot do your "work" for you.
    Secondly, Buddhist tradition advises you to observe the teacher for 5 years, assessing their character (without being judgmental) before you decide whether or not you will take this teacher as your teacher.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited October 2017

    Great advice from @FoibleFull B)

    The mark of a genuine student is they learn despite the messenger. You will find another group if need be.
    I was immediately thrown out of the YinYana Buddhist cult, when I revealed they had no leader or members.
    http://yinyana.tumblr.com :o

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Wisop said:

    Well last night I went to the first session of a foundation program, headed by a really lovely nun who promoted discussion and questions over everything. The core text is a commentary on the Bodhisattva Langri Tangpa's Eight Verses of training the mind, with a lot of meditation beforehand.

    My mind and body was screaming with wanting to move and fidget but this is the medicine I was after! I think I'll stick with it, especially as she said to come to a couple more before deciding to pay for membership. So no sales pitch here.

    I sincerely hope you find what you’re looking for @Wisop!

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Wisop said:
    The core text is a commentary on the Bodhisattva Langri Tangpa's Eight Verses of training the mind

    For those who are interested...


    I think I'll stick with it, especially as she said to come to a couple more before deciding to pay for membership.

    Good for you! Group meditation can be very helpful, especially if you also do a short daily meditation at home. And while some Buddhist centres function solely on dana, or voluntary contributions, not all do so.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited November 2017

    @Wisop you have landed on one of my favourite teachings/practices. It is both profound and layered. In the initial stages it is completely introspective receptive realignment of others ignorant/unskilful behavour as having opportunity for us.

    Later on it becomes an advanced skilful means of presenting unravelling for others benefit. Similar to ideas of crazy wisdom ...

    Bravo. Very pleased for you. B)

  • I lived near to the NKT Madhyamaka Centre in York, UK. At the time I worked with recovering drug addicts, and thought it would be really beneficial to take those in recovery for week long 'working visits' (where you work at the centre in return for your keep and access to all meditation classes). The head administrative nun there agreed to let me bring small groups there, and I did so for about 2-3 years. The results were remarkable. Some addicts got sober and stayed sober. Some had actual spiritual awakenings. They all loved their time there. Keep in mind that many of the addicts I brought were criminals, including some who had been convicted of some pretty nasty things. This was not a problem for the centre, and although the behaviour of some of the people I brought was at times a little bit rough around the edges, and difficult and embarrassing for me, the whole centre was very supportive and understanding.

    At some point during these trips I became aware of the whole scandal thing, and I too googled it, and it did make me think about whether it was right to take groups there. However, my conclusion was that my direct experience was so positive that it would be a bit ridiculous to let others opinions and experiences of other areas of the NKT upset that. You know, there are people out there in the world talking shit about you, and me, and most people on these forums. When Jesus was alive, people spoke shit about him. People will be speaking shit about Buddha right now somewhere. And some of that shit will be perceived as justified because certain behaviours of all of ours will be regarded as wrong... and sometimes, of course, we are wrong in our behaviour. But it would be upsetting if all our friends and family turned against us based on what others regard us as being.

    You have your own direct experience, and it seems to be positive. If that direct experience becomes less positive then I think it is worthwhile asking questions. I spent three years around the NKT and I have nothing but positive things to say about my own direct experience. Also, keep in mind that many people who end up at Buddhist centres are vulnerable, and when they don't get what they want, can turn a little bat shit crazy, especially when there is already some buzz to latch onto. You have your own mind and your own experience. Trust yourself to work this out for yourself.

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