Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc (DLM)is an amazing spiritual and cultural resource in Atlanta. I have been a volunteer and sangha member since 2001 and I can honestly attest to the positive, peaceful effect the dharma teachings, empowerments, meditation sessions, cultural activities, celebrations, and spiritual events have had on numerous individuals including myself. DLM brings a true sense of community to Atlanta and promotes compassion and loving kindness towards all beings regardless of background and faith, which has the capacity to eliminate hatred, fear, selfishness, and ultimately needless suffering not only at the individual level, but at the family and community levels. Whether it was attending weekly teachings with Geshe Lobsang Tenzin-la, working information booths at concert venues and community events, educating the community about Tibetan Buddhism, attending Mystical Arts of Tibet performances, assisting with altar set up at our old space off of Briarcliff Road, or engaging in retreats, every minute I have spent at Drepung Loseling Monastery has enriched my life, moved me farther along the spiritual path,and has allowed me to open my heart, mind, and welcome calm into my life. The current resident teacher is knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to meet with students to discuss teachings or to provide personal advice. I know there was a substantive reason that I stumbled upon Drepung Loseling Monastery as a new resident of Atlanta and new Buddhist practitioner in 2001, and when I am far from this precious jewel due to work commitments or otherwise, I miss the sangha members, staff, and gurus very much. They are like family to me. I have made wonderful, lifelong friends and so many meaningful connections as a result of spending time at DLM.
Finding Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc in Atlanta has been of immense personal benefit. Through the weekly teachings, the Saturday Foundation and Intermediate Series, and the retreats and initiations by visiting teachers, I have received many precious teachings that have helped me calm my racing mind and turn it toward more compassionate and disciplined paths. Although these teachings are invaluable, the most precious teachings of all have come through observing the generosity, kindness, and patience of the staff that work there. Their selflessness, integrity and gentle sense of humor has been my greatest inspiration to dedicate myself to the path of Buddhism and to this center.
Drepung is an organization that has changed my life, and I mean that literally. It has promoted a more profound understanding and living of the dharma for me, and I've personally witnessed this in countless of other individuals. I feel that it's made me a kinder, more patient, and less selfish individual, among other things. DLM has supported me in so many ways. The spiritual director and several members were there for me personally when my marriage was dissolving, the resident teacher is always helping me live the dharma with advice when asked, spontaneous (as well as formal) teachings, and so many other ways. When I first started attending teachings at DLM, and not everyone knows this, the staff kindly let me pay 50% less for a class series I wanted to take, because I was having money concerns. They didn't even hesitate when I asked! The staff interacts with everyone with compassion and kindness, whether Buddhist or not. They make teachings on meditation, loving kindness, and related ethical behaviour available to all, and constantly encourage and invite folks from the community, other faiths, etc. to interact. Lastly, Drepung makes huge efforts toward their mission of helping the endangered Tibetan culture thrive in exiled communities. In addition to classes in Tibetan language, we have festivals, great masters, cultural talks and the like. I could go on and on about how this organization has benefited and positively affected my life, but I will spare the reader from too long of a review to read.
I was dismayed to read the recent spate of posting on Tibet and Drepung related sites claiming that Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc. in Atlanta is somehow guilty of financial improprieties. I don’t know the author of these postings, so I have no idea what would motivate him to write such things. But as a member and involved volunteer with Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc. for more than ten years, I can say that I have never seen even the slightest hint of anything inappropriate going on. The individuals he calls out are all well known to me, as is the administrator of the Delhi branch of the monastery. Over my time as a volunteer in Atlanta, and during the course of five trips to India, I have also had the opportunity to meet and speak with numerous Drepung Loseling senior teachers, administrators, former and current abbots, as well as younger monks at the monastery, administrators and nuns at Jamyang Choeling, (which DLM, Inc. also helps to support), and the directors and staff of other highly regarded Tibetan institutions. NEVER have I heard one single negative thing about Geshe Lobsang Tenzin-la, the other staff members, or the organization. In fact, DLM, Inc. and Geshe Lobsang-la seem to be universally held in the highest regard, and any comment made tends to be a compliment about the excellent work that they do. As a professional video and event producer, I am well versed in managing six figure budgets and cash accounting, and familiar with the types of expenses required to run road shows, and to do work across international boundaries. As a Drepung Loseling volunteer, I have also very frequently handled money for the organization while assisting the monks with sales, collecting course fees at class registrations, etc. I can tell you several things about this—first, the series of checks and balances used by DLM, Inc. to manage cash is virtually identical to the system routinely employed by large film and event productions where thousands of dollars may have to be moved around in cash. Secondly, the accounts at DLM are meticulously kept; there is no mixing of funds designated for one purpose with those of another, and I can assure you that all funds reach their intended destination. I also know, quite well, three individuals who have driven the monks on tour during the last couple of years. They are all intelligent, thoughtful, honest, people who would never tolerate exploitation of the monks for anyone’s personal gain. All three reported nothing but positive experiences about their time with the monks, and none has had any notion that something ‘fishy’ was going on with the money. Individuals who are not production professionals seldom have a very clear idea about the numerous behind the scenes costs and procedures involved in staging events, particularly when it involves moving people, things, and money across international lines. I could list about 100 typical expenses that Mr. Jennings has not taken into account, which include everything from visa fees to export and customs tariffs to the sheer expense of flying the monks to the US from India. I am extremely troubled by Mr. Jenning’s hazy accounting, lack of reference to specific people from which his so-called information was obtained, inaccuracies in his description of how DLM, Inc. and DLM in India are organized, as well as his fictitious description of the dealings with the Ewing Halsell Foundation. I have actually read all of the correspondence between the Foundation and DLM, Inc. No offer of a multi-million dollar venture was ever tendered, and the transfer of a very small piece of land, which one of the Trustees wanted to personally donate to the monastery, could never be completed because of the collapse of that individual’s health, and later, death. Let me wrap this up by providing an example of the care with which things are handled by both DLM, Inc. and DLM in India. At least once or twice a year, when I know that someone is heading towards India, I will hand one of the staff members a small stack of envelopes containing personal letters and cash offerings intended for various monks at DLM in India—these range from the young monk I have sponsored for almost ten years through the educational fund, up to senior teachers with whom I have developed relationships. In EVERY single case, I will receive a letter from that individual in which—among the personal news--they mention the exact amount received. In the case of the monk I sponsor through the educational fund, he also often includes a photo of himself holding my letter and the cash offering. If that much effort is taken to demonstrate that such small donations have been handled appropriately, why on earth would the ‘disappearance’ of large sums of money be tolerated? For that matter, my cash donations could easily be ‘lost,’ and I would be none the wiser. Mr.Jenning’s inferences simply do not line up with anything I know or have experienced for the last ten years. And where, may I ask, is all this supposedly missing money? Anyone who knows the DLM, Inc. staff knows what modest lifestyles they lead: there are no luxury cars, no opulent houses, no fancy vacations. It is simply ludicrous to suggest that they are personally benefiting from money intended for the monastery in India. It is extraordinarily unfortunate that Mr. Jenning has decided to cast doubt on an organization and its staff that have impeccable ethics, a deep devotion to the dharma, and a sincere wish to help Tibetan culture survive in exile while sharing it in the west. I hope something will happen that will put his mind at ease about the organization, and that he will refrain from making any more harmful accusations.
This organization acts a front to personal revenue for the director. More details on my blog at http://drepungloselingmonastery.blogspot.com/2010/05/fraud-by-atlanta-based-non-profit.html There is countless amouts of money that is never reported and thus probably is going into someones pocket.
Review from Guidestar