After Padmasambava, Tibetan Buddhism started to decline again in Tibet but was later reintroduced by a Buddhist Master called Atisha. The New Kadampa Tradition came out of Tibetan Buddhist traditions and is one of the major Buddhist schools in the UK.
ORIGINS AND HISTORY
The New Kadampa Tradition is one of the fastest growing Mahayana Buddhist traditions in the West, with 900 meditation centres in 37 countries. The tradition was founded by the Tibetan-born meditation master, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
Followers believe it offers local access to Buddha’s teachings, meditation practice and an alternative view to life that promotes peace and harmony.
Kadampa Buddhism was founded in 11th Century Tibet by the Indian Buddhist Master Atisha (982 – 1054 CE). He was invited by King Jangchub Ö, a ruler of Ngari region of Tibet, to reintroduce Buddhism to Tibet.
In the 13th Century, the Tibetan Buddhist master Je Tsongkharpa, one of Tibet’s saints, developed and promoted Kadampa Buddhism throughout the country.
He reformed the monasteries, emphasizing the practice of moral discipline, systematic study and meditation, which characterize the three Kadam lineages.
He also wrote commentaries to many sacred Buddhist texts, clarifying their meanings, and taught the union of Sutra and Tantra. His life was an example of purity in body, speech and mind. His followers became known as New Kadampas or Gelugpas (The Virtuous Ones) who strived to become great Bodhisattvas and Buddhas themselves, so they could help release others from the suffering of cyclic existence.
The New Kadampa Tradition in the West
In 1976 Geshe Kelsang was invited to teach in the UK by Lama Yeshe, the headteacher of the FPMT, Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition.
Critics claim this was the beginning of a rift between Kelsang and the FPMT. They also accuse Kelsang of starting a breakaway movement and argue that the New Kadampa Tradition, as it is known today, is not part of the ancient Kadampa Tradition but a split from the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.
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