One year ago, I was asked by the husband of a very dear friend to say a few words at her service, following her stunningly early departure. I had limited time, but enough experience to squeeze-in the essentials for my dear soul sister. Her practice was largely "secret", so not well known to the others in attendance. A minister spoke to benefit the family and loved ones, and then I was allowed to sort of set the record straight, as it were. Following the service, the minister approached me and asked if I represented a specific temple. He had no idea that he was taking an opener to a can of worms when he asked, and I paused before I was able to say that I am actually primarily a solitary practitioner, and that I was actually associated with a couple of different temples and organizations, but that there were political complications. (He said "I thought it was just us", and laughed.) I briefly went on to describe my current loyalty to a small group in Virginia, and lamented that I was not able to get there very often, as it is distant, and I do not drive. The first Buddhist teacher I heard speak was His Holiness, xiv Dalai Lama. I have since been blessed with contact with various teachers, and I hold loyalty to -and vows with- several. Buddhism is not homogeneous, as many non-Buddhist seem to think. It's a vast, complex system of teachings that has been adopted by -and adapted to- various cultures, and people of varying inclinations, for a couple (almost a few) thousand years As I noted my "affiliations" here, I could see the relationships and proclivities in the abbreviations, as would many Buddhists, but I also realized that to someone entirely outside of the Buddhist community, they are essentially meaningless combinations of letters. The NKT, or New Kadampa Tradition, has since become the IKBU, or International Kadampa Buddhist Union. They trace their origins to the same Tibetan -and Indian- teachers as the other affiliations I have mentioned, but they have diverged as another branch on the tree. I have walked out on several of these differing branches, and have been welcomed warmly by all (for the most part). The teacher who has most directly touched my heart (and poked my chest) was the most Venerable Kirti Tshenshab Rinpoche. Described as a "true Kadampa", by some, but considered by many to be Gelugpa, he has since passed into another form. My current ordained guide is Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa, of DKNL. (More alphabet soup!) However, my first formal, extended study was with Kelsang Atisha of the NKT. Regardless of which of the noodles you pull from the soup, the stock remains the same, and I practice in the lineage of Je Tsongkhapa (Tibetan), as well as Atisha and Naropa (Indian). Mine has been a complex journey. I was once asked, by a nun who shall remain unidentified by name or affiliation, who my teachers were, because she could tell that I knew a bit more about what was going on in her class than a simple beginner. I told her who my teachers were, and she denied knowing them. That is essentially true: she had not met them, but she certainly knew of them, and I would later come to find out that everyone in the building knew of the teachers I mentioned, but they were not allowed to speak about them. I once asked an-other nun with which center she was associated, and she replied "I'm allergic to centers." The thing is, if you are a Mahayana Buddhist, you probably know that we are no strangers to controversy. It is taught that a Mahayana guide should have certain qualities, and that a teacher should be examined for some time, and by these criteria, before one establishes what is known as a relationship with a Guru, for Guru Yoga. The fact is that some of my teachers would prefer not to be in the same general vicinity as one another, but that is not a problem for me. It was, at one time, more disturbing, but I have studied and compared teachings from various sources, and for the most part, each of my teachers, regardless of their own affiliation, is teaching from the same Primary Sources, and I refer to those sources often. All of that said, I am technically not a member of the NKT, or the IKBU, as it is now named. I am also not currently concentrating on ACI (Asian Classics Institute) or DM (Diamond Mountain) Even the FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition) does not currently know me as a member, though they have a relationship with the MSTC (Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Center) and with Gyumed Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jampa of DKNL (Do Ngak Kunphen Ling). Any questions?