Buddhism is not an evangelical religion and teachers of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) do not try to convert people. The majority of those who attend classes worldwide are not Buddhist; they attend to learn how to meditate to find mental peace. Some become interested in Buddhism and join a study program, but many do not, and there is no agenda to force people to join these programs.
NKT Centers are places to learn and practice Buddhist meditation as a way to find mental peace, solve daily problems, grow spiritually, enjoy community, and transform the world. The teachings are open to everyone from all backgrounds and walks of life. There is no discrimination based on race, gender, background, age, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or otherwise — everybody is always genuinely welcome at Centers around the world.
Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso once asked a group of people at Heruka Buddhist Centre in London: “Who is more important, the people who come to classes only once or the people who come and stay?” His reply was: “The people who come only once because there are many more of them.”
Kadampa Centers advertise classes principally by means of posters, newspaper listings, social media, Center websites, and so on. Buddha himself travelled from town to town to deliver Buddhist teachings. Every religious tradition that has some success could be described as self-promotional. Our General Program (introductory class) is our biggest program and it has high turnover, which is expected because as Buddhists we believe that different people have different karma and different spiritual paths to travel. This attitude is not the hallmark of a “missionary zeal” (which is a definition of evangelistic).
One reason why the NKT has grown is because Geshe Kelsang has inspired and trained many good teachers in many countries to teach in their own languages and according to their own culture. Another is because Kadampa Buddhism is practically suited to modern-day practitioners, emphasizing how to mix Buddha’s teachings into normal daily life. NKT practitioners also believe that the growth of the NKT can be attributed to the blessings of the Dharma Protector of Je Tsongkhapa’s tradition, Wisdom Buddha Dorje Shugden.