A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace: The Decline of Tradition and the Rise of the New Kadampa Tradition in 21st Century Western Buddhism

Posted on May 13, 2010


New Book: “A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace: The Decline of Tradition and the Rise of the New Kadampa Tradition in 21st Century Western Buddhism” by Gary Beesley

Protest against the Dalai Lama in 2008

Protest against the Dalai Lama in 2008

Many visitors to the Dalai Lama’s teachings across Europe and the USA in 2008 were surprised to come across groups of Chinese and Western protesters, many dressed in Tibetan Buddhist robes and with shaven heads, chanting anti Dalai Lama slogans, accusing him of being ‘a liar’, a ‘hypocrite’, and a denier of the basic human right to religious freedom. “A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace” charts the gradual development of the deity cult lying at the very beginning of the long running dispute that gave rise to these protests, from its bloody and controversial birth in the mid 1600s, down to its continuing bloody and controversial existence in the present day. Since the overwhelming majority of protesters outside the Dalai Lama’s teachings internationally were members of the Western, Neo-Buddhist Movement, the New Kadampa Tradition, and since it was they who provided the logistical framework and manpower behind them, ‘Cuckoo’ analyzes the history of the NKT and asks to what extent the group have become puppets of the Chinese propaganda machine in its ongoing war with the Dalai Lama of Tibet. For students of Tibetan Buddhism and those studying the transition of Buddhism from East to West in an academic context, this book provides a detailed study of the dogmas, doctrines and politics which have blighted the Tibetan religio-political world for the last three and a half centuries. Moreover, this issue is probably the greatest controversy that Buddhism has thus far faced in its transitional journey to the West. The book is therefore also a meaningful resource for scholars studying New Religious Movements, and the Sociology and History of Religions. Since the NKT is certainly among the West’s most controversial Neo-Buddhist Movements, members of New Religious Movement and Cult Watching groups should also find the work helpful, both in terms of understanding the history of the group itself, as well as in distinguishing factors common to various NRMs, sects and cults.

About the Author

Gary Beesley has been a Buddhist and educationalist specialising in the study of Indian Religions for more than thirty years. Having studied Buddhism in a traditional context in his early 20s, he returned to the West and consolidated this experience with academic qualifications in Comparative Religion and Religious Studies. He presently lectures in Religions and Philosophy at a small college in the North of England. A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace outlines the controversial history of the 18th Century Tibetan deity, Dorje Shugden, and traces the development of the cult down to the immediate present where it manifests as a central practice of the Western, Neo-Buddhist Movement, the New Kadampa Tradition. ‘Cuckoo’ provides an incisive analysis of the development of this emergent New Religious Movement as well as an appraisal of its position within the ‘Church/ Denomination/Sect/Cult’ typology. Finally, it examines to what extent the NKT has become embroiled in the Chinese Government’s ongoing campaign to undermine the Dalai Lama and asks whether that relationship might be something more than mere coincidence.

“A Cuckoo in the Peacock Palace” is due to be published in August 2010 and can be ordered from Amazon.