Firstly apologies about the title but I couldn’t stop myself, and please don’t judge me because I like the music of Eminem…. 

I read an article this morning on A New Kadampa Buddhist’s blog, titled “Is the Dalai Lama Authentic?….calling Reting Rinpoche” After reading this I hastily read the original article the writer was referring to, which is “Reting Lama, How he chose the fake Dalai Lama.” published on the Western Shugden Society (WSS) website. 

So having read this I have to admit firstly thinking … I wonder who the real Dalai Lama is? (or to be precise “Would the real Dalai Lama please stand up”) but after this initial thought I regained some sense and perspective. I looked at some other sources of information including those provided by A New Kadampa Buddhist. I have to say it is difficult to get clear answers about the facts and details. What is clear is how messy and corrupt large parts of Tibet’s own mixture of Politics and Religion are. We are all accustomed to discovering layers of deception, intrigue and corruption within political circles. By now most of us whatever continent we live on, have a fairly sceptical viewpoint of politics and the motivations of those in power. However what is disturbing is mixing this with Mahayana Buddhism – along with the claims of purity and sincerity that go along with it. The way the Tibetan ‘powers that be’ over the years appear to have used religion and mixed worldly motivation in with it, really does make a mockery of Mahayana Buddhism and the teachings of Je Tsongkhapa, Padmasambhava and Atisha.  

It sure makes me glad that Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has severed ties with all of this carry on. I am so grateful to him. Whatever anyone’s criticisms are of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, anyone looking at his books and teachings can see undoubtedly that he has endeavoured to extract and pass on the teachings of Je Tsongkhapa and Atisha without the trappings of politics and worldly concerns. 

Again this is a place where I have to comment on those people suggesting that the New Kadampa Tradition is being political just because so many NKT members have also joined the WSS and taken part in demonstrations against the questionable Dalai Lama. My comment is clearly stated in my previous post but I will state it again here, the NKT and the WSS are different organisations, last time I checked it was ok for a person to belong to two organisations. Clearly many members of the NKT are openly active in WSS and engage in demonstrations, however it is not within the NKT’s mandate as established within the internal rules to become political as an organisation. There is nothing hidden here – and this is really very straightforward to understand. Many prominent and well known teachers in the NKT have attended WSS demonstrations, so clearly there is no attempt to conceal. What is so difficult to understand here – everything is open – two different organisations with different purposes, having many common members.

In the commentary to Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, moral discipline is defined as the intention to abandon all faults, downfalls and non-virtue. I definitely want to abandon all the above so have become interested in moral discipline particularly in practising the moral discipline of restraint. In Joyful Path of Good Fortune (pg 455 The Moral Discipline of Restraint) Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says  “ This is the moral discipline of abstaining from non-virtue. To practice  this moral discipline we need to understand the dangers of committing negative actions, make a promise or vow to abandon them, and then keep that promise or vow. Thus we cannot be said to be practising the moral discipline of restraint if we unknowingly avoid committing negative actions, since even babies can do this.”

I like doing the practice of precepts (occasionally). I don’t do it as often as I would like, which is ridiculous really, but one reason for this is – I try to make my day special and meaningful when I have taken precepts. So I use the day to study and meditate to the best of my ability. As I don’t use my days in this way normally, it becomes much more special. I don’t take precepts on days when I have to go to work or engage in other things that would completely distract me. Is this right? or maybe I should be doing precepts more often and ensuring I transform my other activities? I don’t know…. I think I benefit more from keeping the days I do precepts free, although maybe I should be challenging myself and my ordinary life more. I worry that if I did take precepts on a work day all moral discipline would just be gradually lost to overly diluted practice.

In addition to the practice of precepts what I have started doing is being more aware of practising the Moral Discipline of Restraint on a daily basis. I have been doing this from time to time in the morning, by making a particular promise in front of my shrine to the Buddhas, promising to abandon a particular action for a specified period of time (generally a day). This totally helps me to remain mindful of the practise of moral discipline at times when I would almost definitely have not given it a second thought. I don’t promise the earth or anything (I am anything but hasty these days in my Dharma Practice, mores the pity!) …. things such as for the day not to be critical of others verbally or mentally. Or perhaps to give up something I am particularly attached to for the day. Again I know this is no mammoth act but this is working for me at the moment and helping to make me more aware of the practice of moral discipline and guarding alertness.