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<-Back to WTN Archives Sect disrobes British monk
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World Tibet Network News

Sunday, August 18, 1996

1. Sect disrobes British monk

The Guardian - London
15 August 1996

Madeleine Bunting
Religious Affairs Editor

SENIOR monk in Britain's fastest growing Buddhist sect, which
led a campaign against the Dalai Lama last month has been disrobed and
banned from the sect.

Gen Thubten Gyatso - originally Neil Elliott - is widely seen as having
been the driving force behind the rapid expansion of the New Kadampa
Tradition (NKT) since its founding in 1991. With headquarters at
Ulver-ston, Cumbria, it now has more than 20 affiliated resi-dential
centres and 200 branches around the country.

Speculation over the cause of Gen Thubten's departure will further rock the
credibility of the sect after its international campaign to dis-credit the
Dalai Lama, whom it accused of religious intolerance and hypocrisy.

Gen Thubten, a Buddhist monk for 16 years, became interlocutor for Geshe
Kelsang, a semi-reclusive Tibetan monk, who barely speaks English, shortly
after his arrival in Cumbria in the late 1970s.

Kelsang set up the NKT in 1991, and Gen Thubten was known as his successor
or "heart disciple". He is described by former members as having been the
"power behind the throne'

Former members understand that Gen Thubten was disrobed because of a breach
of his monastic vows. He was deeply revered by the 3,000 NKT members for
his knowledge of Buddhism and his charismatic teaching.

The NKT confirmed that Gen Thubten had been disrobed earlier this month
and removed from the programme of its two week annual summer festival,
which ends this weekend. He had been due to speak at the event.

"Neil Elliott has resigned as an NKT teacher," said Jim Belither, NKT
secretary. "Issues about monks disrobing are a matter between the monk and
his spiritual teacher. I don't know whether he went of his own free will or
if he was forced to go. We have no comment."

Speculation has been rife within the NKT sect since Gen Thubten resigned as
Kelsang's successor in January, claiming he was tired and needed time for

Gen Thubten was head of the Madhyamaka Centre in York, one of the
affiliated residential centres, The centres have acquired a series of
substantial properties, including a castle, estates and several stately
homes in the past five years. One of the main sources of income was has
been the rent charged to the 300-odd residents in receipt of housing

Mr Elliott, described as the first qualified English Tantric meditation
master in Britain, is understood to have returned to his parents in Kent.

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  1. Sect disrobes British monk

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