Kadampa Buddhism is a Mahayana Buddhist school founded by the great Indian Buddhist Master, Atisha (AD 982-1054). His followers are known as “Kadampas.” “Ka” refers to Buddha’s teachings, and “dam” to Atisha’s special Lamrim instructions known as “the stages of the path to enlightenment.” Kadampas are practitioners who regard Buddha’s teachings as personal instructions and put them into practice by following the instructions of Lamrim.
The Kadampa tradition was later promoted widely in Tibet by Je Tsongkhapa and his followers who were known as the ‘New Kadampas’.
The lineage of these teachings, both their oral transmission and blessings, was then passed from teacher to disciple, spreading throughout much of Asia and now to many countries throughout the western world.
Buddha’s teachings, which are known as “Dharma”, are likened to a wheel that moves from country to country in accordance with changing conditions and people’s karmic inclinations. The external forms of presenting Buddhism may change as it encounters different cultures and societies, but its essential authenticity is ensured through the continuation of an unbroken lineage of realised practitioners.
The New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union (NKT-IKBU) is an international association of Mahayana Buddhist study and meditation centres that follow the Kadampa Buddhist tradition founded by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. These Centres all follow the three New Kadampa Tradition Study Programmes (see below) and are guided by a common code of moral discipline called the Internal Rules of the NKT-IKBU.
To bring them together under the auspices of a legal entity, every NKT-IKBU Centre is a member of an international Buddhist charity with the same name ‘New Kadampa Tradition – International Kadampa Buddhist Union’. The charity is incorporated in England, and its constitution is completely democratic, sharing authority between a General and Deputy Spiritual Director, a team of managers and the member Centres themselves. At general meetings of the charity, each NKT-IKBU Centre is represented by its Resident Teacher.
The NKT-IKBU maintains an ‘International Temples Project‘, whose aim is in general to introduce the Buddhist faith of the New Kadampa Tradition publicly, and in particular to exemplify Buddhist practice through public service. To accomplish this aim the NKT-IKBU continually emphasizes the development throughout the world of:
- local Kadampa Buddhist Centres;
- regional Kadampa Meditation Centres;
- international Kadampa Buddhist Temples;
- international Retreat Centres;
- national publication departments (Tharpa Publications); and
- Hotel Kadampas.
The NKT is a legally and entirely independent Buddhist tradition, and the NKT-IKBU has no political affiliations.
Modern Kadampa Buddhism
Through the activities and dedication of the renowned Buddhist Master, Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Kadampa Buddhism has spread to many countries in recent years.
Geshe Kelsang has worked tirelessly to spread Kadampa Buddhism throughout the world by giving extensive teachings, writing many profound texts on Kadampa Buddhism and founding the New Kadampa Tradition. His latest book, Modern Buddhism, presents the very essence of the Kadampa Buddhist path, both Sutra and Tantra, in an accessible manner that can be easily integrated into our modern lives. Modern Buddhism is available as a free e-book.