Dear Gen-la Dekyong, and Educational Council, March 28, 2013
I have written you previously concerning issues with pure Kadam Dharma at VBC in San Diego, and also about issues concerning the discouragement of Shugden practice by some of the teaching staff. I also wrote you that VBC was insisting, with two managers who have not historically attended tsog puja, and a board of directors who have generally not attended tsog puja, that my daughter Kristen not be allowed back to tsog puja via video link, which began immediately preceding Gen Jampa’s arrival Feb 13th 2013. I consider that the RT, Chokyi, is retaliating against me and my family for writing you and Gen Jampa, as every time I protest something she does, Chokyi finds another way to lessen our dharma participation at VBC. I am registering an official complaint that Kelsang Chokyi’s behavior is retaliatory, disparaging, separates my family from the Shugden members of the Sangha, and that her continuing to allow people to teach and make policy who openly propagate other dharmas, including but not limited to Gregg Lane, is a violation of the agreement that an RT teach only Je Tsongkapa’s doctrine; if much of her teaching staff does not keep the heart commitment, then by allowing them to teach, she also breaks it, as their appointment is under her jurisdiction.
As mentioned in previous letters, my daughter, Kristen, now four, has been attending Long Protector, WFJ, and OSG, since early infancy via video link. After the NKT gave guidance to the new AD, Angela, about children in puja, Angela informed me that I could request that Kristen be allowed to attend, via video link, Heart Jewel and WFJ, but not the longer pujas. Angela’s reasoning was based on the idea that Kristen would disturb people in the gompa for longer pujas, but that is unreasonable; she has not historically disturbed anyone. You have a letter, I believe, from Lora Driscoll stating that Kristen has never presented a noise problem. (Lora Driscoll regularly attends tsog puja; Angela does not). I protested that Heart Jewel has two long silences, and therefore we might disturb those in the gompa if we left from the main door; I also protested that my daughter loves LPP and OSG, and that we also needed video link or Skype to the foyer, as it is farther away from the gompa door. My friend Lora Driscoll wrote another letter to the AD requesting that Kristen be allowed to attend LPP in the foyer on the 29th, either by Skype or video link. The response from VBC is now that Kristen can no longer attend puja at all, as there is now no place to put a video link, due to VBC’s ‘expansion.’ The expansion that is relevant is that they have moved a bookshelf in front of the video link outlet and also ignore us every time we mention skyping to the foyer, which we had done on a few occasions in the past; the problem then would be easily solved by allowing us to be in the foyer. When I and Lora Driscoll wrote them about this, the rule was subsequently changed to now not allowing Kristen at puja at all. I take this to mean that if we won’t accept what Chokyi and Angela propose, then we can have no puja at all. As mentioned previously, we have a majority of people who attend LPP and OSG who asked us back, which would indicate that they don’t consider us a noise problem; 6 out of 8 regular attendees asked us back, which leaves out Chokyi and one other person.
I think, rather than there being any truth to my daughter’s being noisy in video link, that Chokyi wishes to separate my family from the practicing Sangha, as retaliation for my writing Gen-la and Gen Jampa. Chokyi called me on Feb 13th to tell me not to bring Kristen to puja; she specifically mentioned that there was an email about Gen Jampa’s doing WFJ with us, and not to bring her to that one. That same evening, Chokyi allowed a 9 or 10 month infant to enter the actual gompa. The problem of noise is obvious in an infant, so I do not find it reasonable that we were being asked to leave, after all these years of regular puja attendance, due to my daughter’s alleged noise level. Furthermore, Chokyi insisted on the LPP on Jan 29, 2013 that Kristen was ‘ready for the gompa,’ and while I protested that I was more comfortable with video link, Chokyi clearly insisted that we should go in. If she had thought Kristen were too noisy in the foyer in the past, then would it make sense that she would invite her into the actual gompa? After we made it through 2 hours of LPP, we went to the video link in the hallway, but were going to leave, as we have sometimes done in the past, because Kristen was looking restless. Louise, the then AD, came out and offered to watch Kristen for a while, and then brought Kristen in at the end of puja. I do not think there was any way for us to succeed, because it looks as though we were being invited in, as though, due to her quietness (which really is the case from the foyer) we would be ‘ready for the gompa’, and then, the video link having been moved to 5 feet from the gompa door, we were too noisy once we needed to go out. Again, it seems odd that we were invited into the gompa if noise were such a problem, but it also looks as though Chokyi just wanted to make a point to me that I am not to disobey her decree to not write her bosses; if so she set things up to fail; we failed according to her in the gompa, and failed in the video link when it was right outside the gompa door.
Chokyi generally does not brook any dissent; if I talk to her for a year about teaching staff issues, concerning the content of the dharma that they propagate, she accuses me of disparaging others and causing disharmony. As mentioned before, we do not attend the Kid’s class any longer, due to the several issues mentioned in the immediately preceding email, and the fact that I cannot offer a teaching mandala to Chokyi under the circumstances aforementioned in other papers. So, at this point, they are telling me, that as a single mom needing blessings, I should budget money for a babysitter; as I pointed out to them for the last 2 or 3 years, I am on Social Security disability right now, which barely allows us to pay our rent and buy food; my daughter receives a government food subsidy (it buys groceries, but only enough for her half); we have little money for food, utilities and other necessities; I can only budget when there is money to work with in the first place, but also, since my daughter has come to puja for so long, and also enjoys and requests puja, I do not understand how we can reasonably deny her request, or mine for video link. If she were really making noise, I really wouldn’t want to bring her, but right now, I do not feel the issue is noise, but rather that I have argued with the RT and now written to you.
Furthermore, it seems clear to me that a lot of the people at VBC really don’t understand the blessings of puja, or they would attend them regularly too. I hope one day that will change, and I think improving our teaching staff so that people who actually propagate pure Je Tsongkapa doctrine and demonstrate a sincere interest in our practices would greatly benefit the Sangha. When many of the influential people in the Sangha openly talk in the Center about how they ‘hate puja’ etc., then it might not be that newcomers would really be inspired to go to puja. Obviously, we get a lot of blessings at puja, and it is a wonderful to connect with other people by actually practicing with them; my daughter, at VBC video link Jan 29, 2013, having just had her 3rd birthday, informed me during the “Homage to Manjushri” part of LPP that “Manjushri is empty.” I didn’t teach her that, so I think the Buddhas must have helped her notice that during puja. I remember the date simply because her birthday had been 3 days before; this was over a year ago. If we weren’t too noisy at that point, then how is that reasonably why we are being banned now?
VBC keeps telling me that Kristen is welcome at Kid’s and Families, but I first of all, have to mention that though Gregg Lane and other influential members of the community consider teachings much more important than puja, I do not consider one more important than the other; it saddens me deeply what has happened in the Kids’ class since Atisha’s departure; though Chokyi says we are all Shugden practioners at VBC, I explained in the immediately preceding letter that the current kid’s class assistant and sometimes teacher, not only spoke in favor of other lineages (the Dalai Lama’s version of Buddhism), and against Geshe Kelsang, but had no previous interest in the class, much like Gregg Lane, unless she can teach it. I think maybe you can understand that since our attending the Kid’s class previously had resulted in being asked by a teacher selected under ‘Shugden’s retiring’ Amy Peng to head out to class at the Thich Nhat Hanh Center, and that Gregg who wanted the changes to the Kid’s class, immediately read the class directly from a book from a zen lineage, that I might not trust Gregg and the changes he instigates; I understand that Chokyi claims that we are no longer allowing zen books; that’s good, but my question is why we are trusting a long term member of the Sangha who discourages puja, openly encourages just sitting meditation rather than the Kadam Lam Rim and Heart Jewel, and who reads a zen book to the Kid’s class that he needs ‘new ideas’ and changes in, almost as soon as Atisha leaves? It seems to me that it might be hard to disprove that someone holds the heart commitment under most circumstances, but perhaps looking for some attempt at following NKT doctrine and participation in puja for teachers would be helpful. Either teach us the pure Kadam dharma or don’t pretend to teach in an NKT Center.
At any rate, whether I as a parent choose to take my child to a particular class should have no bearing on whether we attend puja. Puja has incredible benefit to my daughter and me and it really helps all living beings when we attend; as mentioned before, I practice at least 2 or 3 hours a day (formally) at home, and do lojong throughout the day, so taking my daughter to puja does not interfere with my practice.
I bring this to your attention, as I feel it bears on people speaking out in our Sangha; I am labeled by Chokyi as disharmonious for any disagreement with her and accused of ‘forming disharmonious minds’ by the AD; however, I am only keeping the heart commitment, which isn’t based on any disharmony, but rather is with the blessings of Dorje Shugden and all the Buddhas for the continuation of the holy Kadam dharma which is indispensable in helping all living beings.
I have informed VBC that we will not be back until some reasonable attempt at pure Kadam dharma has been restored. We remain members of the NKT via correspondence at KMCLA. I hope that you will help the Shugden practioners of San Diego by restoring our dharma to its purity. I register a formal complaint against the RT of VBC, Chokyi, for failure to keep the heart commitment by choosing inappropriate staff, specifically including but not limited to Gregg Lane, disparaging practioners as disharmonious when they speak in favor of pure Kadam dharma, and retaliation against myself and my child for my writing the lineage. I sincerely hope we can accommodate Shugden practioners at VBC. I dedicate the merit of myself and others to pure Kadam dharma flourishing throughout San Diego and all of limitless space.