August 18, 2008
I wanted to write a short post with my view on the Samden issue, Its obviously well known among people so I don’t feel I need to explain the details. Over the past year people have asked my thoughts and feelings on this matter. This seems an ideal place to post this. Here goes;
I knew Samden throughout my time in the New Kadampa Tradition and he was obviously a prominent figure within the organisation. As such when everything came out about him many people experienced varying degrees of shock, disappointment, anger, disillusionment, disbelief and crisis of faith. I would like to offer my own point of view.
Although I felt incredibly sad for the people involved, part of me felt delighted as I would no longer have to sit through his teachings, which I found extremely painful! I felt optimistic about who the next teacher would be as for me the only way was up.
A friend of mine was starting to think after this, Do the teachings not work? and Why did Geshe-la choose Samden? With respect to the teachings not working, it is clear that Samden was not following the teachings and so it does not follow at all to say that the teachings don’t work. Samden was the ‘Gen-la’ which many people would have thought made it clear that he was well practised within the Dharma, however I feel that the only way to believe or not if the teachings work, is by practising them oneself and using personal wisdom to investigate what the teachings say. Samden was doing things that were never ever taught to him and Geshe-la made this quite clear within correspondence between the two of them.
With respect to why Geshe-la chose Samden, obviously I don’t know the answer to this, but my opinion is that at the time, years ago, Samden was the person that was able to push the tradition forward, he had lots of energy which was good for the development of the NKT at that time. Also thinking from the point of view of now, although it has been a troubling time for the NKT they have learned many lessons quickly. They have had to put many things in place that are designed to help prevent this kind of situation arising in the future, and prevent the degeneration of the tradition in general. I feel that also from this situation people will have a much better and balanced view of their teachers and check more carefully what advice they are following and not just follow them based on blind faith or the teacher’s reputation. This I believe is helpful for both teacher and student. Following reputation of a teacher rarely has good results. For example the Dalai Lama has an amazing reputation which so many follow without question, and yet at present he seems to mainly have a political motivation and be trying to force everyone into giving up the practice of Dorje Shugden. Geshe-la on the other hand now has a terrible reputation, why? because he is one of the only well known teachers to be standing up to the Dalai Lama’s actions. What does Geshe-la have to gain by doing this? nothing in fact it only gives a bad reputation. It doesn’t help give Geshe-la power or influence, quite the opposite. He could have so easily acquiesced to the Dalai Lama’s decrees and his own reputation would have remained intact.
So for me I’m positive about the New Kadampa Tradition’s future and still as glad as always to be a part of it.