Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexually as

The impulse to believe the absurd when presented with the unknowable is called religion. Whether this is wise or unwise is the domain of doctrine. Once you understand someone's doctrine, you understand their rationale for believing the absurd. At that point, it may no longer seem absurd. You can get to both sides of this conondrum from here.

Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:01 am

Letter of Apology
by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
Kalapa Council Quarterly Update
July 10, 2018

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To the Shambhala Community,

In a state of complete heartbreak, I write to you, humble, embarrassed, and thoroughly apologetic for disappointing you. I feel a tremendous amount of sorrow for the pain, confusion, and anger that our sangha is experiencing. I accept accountability for this pain, and want to express my commitment to personal growth.

I fully support a third-party investigator being hired to look into claims of sexual misconduct in the Shambhala community. I feel that I must, at this time, step back from my administrative and teaching responsibilities as a leader of Shambhala to allow space for the investigation to occur.

It is clear to me that I have much more learning to do. I am committed to engaging with women and others in our community who have felt marginalized,
beginning this week. I will be using this time of self-reflection to deeply listen and to better understand how the dynamics of power, gender, and my actions have affected others.

I know that some of what you are hearing may be surprising and shocking for those of you who have only known me as a teacher. I wish to share with all of you some of the challenges that I have gone through. None of this is to give an excuse for my actions, but I do wish to be open with you about my journey as a human, and give some history and context to my life and behavior.

After the passing of my father, I took on the leadership role of Shambhala at a young age, followed by my enthronement in 1995. During this period, I struggled to find my way, and fumbled with unhealthy power dynamics and alcohol. I failed to recognize the pain and confusion I was creating.

Noticing this, a group of senior students came to me deeply concerned about the way I was drinking, and it was then that I began to realize how my actions were impacting others, and affecting my ability to lead in a genuine way. At that point, I realized that I needed to change my lifestyle.
Again, I am not saying that this is an excuse.

In the years following this feedback, I cut back my drinking, began running and developed a more healthy lifestyle, physically and spiritually. I committed myself to deepening my own practice and teaching path. In 2005, I met and married my wife, the Sakyong Wangmo. We established our home and began a family together. She has been a teacher and partner, helping me to open my heart in a healthy way.

Since then, I have consciously worked on improving my relationship to alcohol as well as trying to improve my general behavior and my relationship to others as a teacher and as a person.
Personal development and learning is a lifelong process and I know that I must continuously apply myself and hear the feedback that I am getting. I feel tremendous regret and sadness, and I commit myself to continuing this healing.

Our teachings advise that we do not give up on ourselves or on each other. I am realizing that I have much to learn and am committed to that process. I hope that by my doing this, our Shambhala community and organization can evolve, and become a true place of kindness, respect, and dignity. I am here for you, and am thinking of you always.

With love,

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:21 am

The Unbearable Smugness of “I Got Mine-ism” Amongst Cult and ex-Cult Members
by Matthew Remski
April 6, 2018

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I’ll preface this post by saying that, in accordance with the clinical research, I do not believe there are strong correlations between prior life experience and the likelihood that a person will join or stay in a cult (or “totalist”, or “high-demand” group.) What follows is a speculation, based on memory and anecdote, on why people who are already inside such a group may be more prone to the kind of enabling and moral harm that Facebook friend Joseph Teskey has described to me as “I got mine-ism” (IGM).

IGM is a defensive strategy by which a member who has not (or believes they have not) directly experienced abuse or institutional betrayal within the group deflects stories of abuse within the group by immediately self-referring, saying things like: “I don’t know about other’s experience; I find/found the teacher/teachings to be profoundly helpful in my life.” The statement is usually couched within an unwillingness to act on behalf on victims or mitigate future harm.

In my own two cult experiences, I adopted the defence of IGM to varying degrees, and I remember many others who did as well. In the circle of people I’m thinking of, none of us (that I’m aware of) had prior experience with therapy. We had all come from family and social cultures in which that just wasn’t part of the wellness toolbox. When we gravitated towards the techniques of meditation and yoga offered by the groups, we found that they could have powerful self-regulatory effects we had never felt before, and we were hooked.

I believe that many of us were under the illusion that the meditative/yogic technique was the key to our new-found capacity for self-regulation. I don’t think we understood that we’d been love-bombed, or acquired a new family / safe haven in one fell blissful swoop. We didn’t understand that our internal changes were as much relational as they were intra-personal. The messaging was always singular and privatized: “You can go within, you can find x, you can choose y, you can be responsible.” One was never encouraged to really examine who was saying this to you, or why, or what they might want.

A paradox formed part of the group’s deception: you were told you were entirely self-responsible, and yet the benefits you experienced were mostly if not entirely coming from the group dynamic. You were emotionally isolated within a group somatic process that made itself invisible.

My own, and I believe others’, prior training in self-responsibility (or lack of experience with therapy) gave us the impression that we were in a place in which we had to resolve all conflicts or grievances internally. In a cult you can’t ask people for help and expect transparency or existential honesty. It’s palpable, whether you cognize it or not, that anyone with standing in the community who you would go to for help will reframe your appeal in relation to some deeper way in which you must surrender to the teaching or the leadership. In other words: any counselling is highly motivated and manipulative. It’s designed to protect the dynamic by making it manageable. Nobody will suggest that you leave, when leaving might be the only healthy thing to do, as hard as it would be.

If you’re aware of all of these rules, I believe you’ll double-down on the hyper-individualism that makes sense and seems to keep you safe. You remind yourself that you are there for your own development: that’s all you have control over. Yes, there are problems, ups and downs, hypocrites and assholes. People get hurt. Some recover, some don’t. Such is life, you feel, and it’s the same in here as it is out there.
God is both shrugging and chuckling at the thought that you would have it be different.

And so nothing has really changed from before you were enmeshed in this new scene: you were always on your own, just you and God and the fates, and it’s the same now. And this feeling of the atomic self, equipped with nothing but a technique for self-consolation, means that you have no time for the sorrows of others. How could you bear to add them to your own?

The height of my own IGM was catching myself casting judgments on an older woman who died of cancer while in the group. Classy. She had sought out and received no care, in part because she maintained an affect of complete and total devotion to the leader. So obviously, she was fine.

Instead of being able to understand that I was part of a network that enabled harm, I criticized her in my heart. I remember distinctly feeling: her death was her own fault. She was stupid for not seeking treatment. But at some point I realized that I was criticizing her for not being able to do what I actually needed to do: reach outside of the group, restore other relationships, recognize that I had been fooled by my society into believing something that the group had expertly amplified: “You’re on your own, so you’ve got to get your own.”

I don’t want to abdicate responsibility for any way in which my IGM hurt other people, like those I hardened myself against and refused to sympathize with, even after I saw them emotionally and physically abused by a leader. At the same time I think it’s important to recognize that IGM is enforced by the isolationist dynamics of such groups. Cult members who are incapable of bearing witness to the trauma of their fellows are stunted, I believe, by a subtler form of trauma they are able to mobilize into a sophisticated defence that looks like spiritual dedication.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:34 am

Leaked notes reveal Buddhist leader coerced female students into sex: Stories of drunken parties and sexual misconduct are emerging from his inner circle.
by Joshua Eaton
July 6, 2018, 8:00 AM

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Sakyong Mipham signs a book during a program in Munich, Germany, on Feb. 2, 2007. CREDIT: Robertivanc via Flickr

A senior official in the Buddhist group Shambhala International admitted Monday that its head, prominent Buddhist teacher and author Sakyong Mipham, had coercive sexual relationships with his female students, according to meeting notes obtained by ThinkProgress.

The notes come from a private video call Monday between ground-level Shambhala leaders and its governing body, called the Kalapa Council. They reveal a crisis of leadership, with members calling for Mipham, the council, or both to step down in the wake of a sex scandal that has rocked the organization.

“There is no one holding this body accountable right now,” one person told the council during a question-and-answer session. “That’s not ok [sic]. I want to see some accountability. I want to see members step down.”


Mipham and the Kalapa Council referred requests for comment to the public relations firm Hiltzik Strategies, which declined to comment on the record.

Last week, the advocacy group Buddhist Project Sunshine published a report detailing allegations of coercive relationships and sexual assault by Mipham — including a second-hand allegation that a woman in Chile accused him of rape.

Senior officials within Shambhala made several other previously unpublished disclosures during the hour-and-a-half-long call, including:

● Shambhala is hiring the Halifax law firm Wickwire Holm to investigate the allegations against Mipham.

Two members of the Kalapa Council — a governing body within the organization whose members have been appointed by Mipham himself — have held separate interventions with Mipham in the past over his heavy drinking and his louche behavior with women, one of which lead to him going on “retreat.”

A council member and another senior official seemed to admit to the facts of a 2011 incident in which Mipham allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in the kitchen of his Halifax home after the first birthday party for one of his daughters.

● Shambhala nevertheless believes the Chile allegation to be untrue and said that the organization has “first-hand witnesses who indicate it isn’t true.”

In a letter sent to Shambhala members before the report’s release last week, Mipham acknowledged what he called “relationships” with his female students in the past, but he stopped short of admitting to any sexual misconduct.

“I have recently learned that some of these women have shared experiences of feeling harmed as a result of these relationships,” Mipham wrote. “I am now making a public apology.”

Mipham echoed those sentiments at the beginning of the call Monday, apologizing again for this behavior, saying he has “a lot of hard work to do” and that he feels “sad and embarrassed” about the disclosures. He did not go into detail about his behavior or how it might have affected the women involved.

Early in the call, one member of the council, Adam Lobel, described the “wild culture of drinking, spontaneous poetry, and parties” he witnessed while working closely with Mipham in the early to mid 2000s.

“A lot of what we saw with women was consensual,” Lobel said. “What was disturbing was his inability to connect with women as a human being [sic].”

Lobel described what he saw during that time as “off and confusing.”
Eventually, Lobel said, an intervention was staged that led to Mipham being sent on a “retreat” after which he appeared to settle down — evidenced by fewer instances of drunken public debauchery and his 2006 marriage to Khandro Tseyang.

debauch verb
1a archaic : to make disloyal
b : to seduce from chastity
notorious for debauching young women
2a : to lead away from virtue or excellence
debauched by ambition
b : to corrupt by intemperance or sensuality
debauched poets
a debauched society

debauch noun
1 : an act or occasion of extreme indulgence in sensuality or carnal pleasures : an act or occasion of debauchery
2 : ORGY
a debauch of pleasure


-- debauch, by Merriam-Webster


“The story line I’ve had in my mind is one of human growth and healing,” Lobel said before admitting that the organization needs to own up to Mipham’s history with women.

But at least one woman has said Mipham sexually assaulted her since his marriage in 2006. In the Buddhist Project Sunshine report and an interview with ThinkProgress, the woman described how Mipham lifted up her skirt, groped her breasts, and began drunkenly kissing her in the kitchen of his Halifax home in 2011 after the birthday party for his one-year-old daughter.

“I felt like I just did something I didn’t want to do, and I didn’t have a way out,” the woman, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal, told ThinkProgress. “I felt trapped … There was no one there to help me. I felt alone.”

During the call Monday, two senior Shambhala officials, one of whom is on the Kalapa Council, seemed to concede the facts of that incident and said they tried to provide support to the woman afterward.

“She told me her account a couple of days after,” one of the officials said. “I said what happened was not ok [sic] and it’s not your fault. I shared my feelings with [Mipham].”


Shambhala is not aware of any incidents since 2011, according to notes from the Monday call.

ThinkProgress is not identifying the two senior officials in order to protect the identity of the woman who says Mipham sexually assaulted her.

Toward the end of the call, an unnamed person said they had a sexual relationship with Mipham in 2003 and challenged Lobel’s assertion that the relationships he saw Mipham engage in were all consensual.

“I had a relationship with [Mipham] in 2003,” the person said. “I don’t feel it was consensual, given the power difference.”


“All of us are lea[r]ning a lot about power dynamics,” Lobel responded. “I no longer see those relationships as consensual in that same way. I’m sorry for any of the pain you have gone through.”

Lobel did not respond to a request for comment on the leaked notes.

Mipham showed visible regret as he addressed the call Monday, according to a brief summary of the call posted online by the Shambhala meditation center in Atlanta, Georgia. Some of those who participated in the call expressed gratitude at what they described as his decision to discuss his past with greater honesty.

But others have said that it’s time for the organization’s rigid, top-down leadership structure to change. That will be difficult for an organization that’s viewed itself as building an enlightened society with Mipham as the literal king at its center — complete with a royal court, attendants, titles, a flag, and an anthem.

Sue Gilman, a Shambhala teacher, summarized the mood she saw among the group’s rank-and-file in an email included in the summary published by the Atlanta, Georgia center.

“The Sakyong must step down until full investigations have happened,” Gillman wrote. “The Kalapa Council has to dissolve and a transitional governing body [be] put in place. The monarchy needs to go. This needs to happen now, not in a month.”

Do you have information about sexual misconduct in Shambhala or another religious organization? Contact reporter Joshua Eaton by email at jeaton@thinkprogress.org or by Signal at 202–684–1030.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:04 am

Boulder man who set car on fire and died identified
by John Bear
Staff Writer
POSTED: 07/10/2018 07:36:46 PM MDT
UPDATED: 07/10/2018 07:38:19 PM MDT

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The Boulder County Coroner's Office has identified a man who was found dead Sunday in the front seat of a car that he had intentionally set on fire. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)

Kathleen Moore spoke fifth, and gave me permission to disclose her name. Moore was the partner of the late Bill Scheffel, who died of suicide on July 8th. He immolated himself in his car a week after giving a despairing address to a community gathering to discuss the scandal.

Moore issued a direct and personal appeal for accountability amidst a culture of silencing.

Moore described having been isolated by the community after Scheffel’s death, pushed to the margin as an outsider, as someone willing to discuss toxic dynamics within the group. This follows, as she says, a pattern that impacted Scheffel himself. She began by reading a quote from Scheffel’s address:

I’m in a world of pain. When Trungpa Rinpoche died, there were many forces at work. Now there’s a phenomena of you’re either in or out. We are no longer a society. We’ve become a church. Society has division, diversity and dissonance. The rank-ism [here] creates distance and has broken me.


“Since he died,” Moore continued, “his friends who are mostly senior students of Trungpa Rinpoche, almost all of them teachers, are saying things like, I killed him, that I’m responsible for his death. No one will say this to me. I hear it from others who’ve heard it and believe those people. But what I’m experiencing is incredible amounts of silence.”

Instead of directly answering Moore’s public appeal to suggest policy that would address ways in those who criticize the group are marginalized, Simmer-Brown offered to meet with Moore in person.

“It sounds like this may be a more personal conversation between you and me and I would be delighted to talk with you one on one about that,” said Simmer-Brown, effectively silencing a discussion about silencing, and further blurring the lines between public responsibility, private resolutions, and perhaps even therapy.

-- Judith Simmer-Brown to Distraught Shambhala Members: “Practice More.” (Notes and Transcript), by Matthew Remski


A man who died after intentionally setting his car on fire near the Boulder Rifle Club on Sunday has been identified as 64-year-old William Scheffel, of Boulder.

The Boulder County Coroner's Office has completed an autopsy and Scheffel's cause and manner of death are pending further investigation, according to news release.

Boulder County sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a burning car near the 4900 block of North 26th Street on Sunday morning and found charred human remains in the driver's seat of the car.

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Figure 1: Partially burned car abandoned in a rural area

Arson and fire will render very difficult forensic evaluation of a crime scene, and in particular of a victim deliberately burned post-mortem.

-- “The Fire will do the Rest”: Concealing Homicide through Posthumous Burning of Corpses, by Zija Ismaili, Bledar Xhemali, Admir Sinamati and Gentian Vyshka


Scheffel's death remains under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.

My personal effects began to be routinely sabotaged and a mixture of corn chips, grass and gravel were placed in my vehicle’s fuel tank. The Director suspected the Kitchen Manager in the vehicle sabotage while I told him that it was more likely the work of his ex-army chauffeur friend who he had recently employed in the Facilities Maintenance Department, Jeremy Blackburn....

About an hour after leaving Dorje Denma Ling, I discovered that the strange sound on my vehicle came from the rear-axle gears: the oil cap on the differential cover had been removed. The oil inside the differential had completely drained from it. This could have resulted in my death as the gears could have seized while I was driving, and caused a major accident on the highway. I immediately suspected the Kitchen Manager in collusion with the Director’s friend in the Dorje Denma Ling Facilities Department, the latter having quietly slipped away to Europe just days earlier without explanation. I later learned that he had in fact been banned from Dorje Denma Ling due to his slander and witnessed physical assault of me and that this had occurred without my knowledge or formal input. However, his banning clearly occurred too late.

I began to investigate what I felt at least criminally reckless behaviour and to research which laws may be applied to the situation. As I could have died in the incident which occurred in the context of relentless harassment, and as Blackburn is most likely to have known the mechanical implications of such an action, it seems obvious that had I died there would have been a murder investigation. In addition, given that no life was lost, the overwhelming likelihood of Blackburn’s involvement in the apparent first and second vehicle sabotages makes an allegation of attempted murder plausible in this case.

In this analysis I am supported by Shambhala International’s former President, Richard Reoch. He is also the former Public Relations Chief for Amnesty International and a broker in the ceasefire in the intractable recent war in Sri Lanka. On two occasions in 2015, four months apart he was careful in assessing what I told him of the scenario, found it to be credible, and earnestly encouraged me to not refer to the incident as merely willful aggression or recklessness, but as attempted murder. He encouraged me to do what I could to pursue all avenues of investigation in this. He was also very clear that I may get nowhere with the Sangha’s internal conflict resolution processes as wrongdoing was, “…systemic…” in the Sangha. He finally told me that if I approached the Sakyong, “…even though you think he should be interested, he ain’t! He just ain’t!”

Having effected an emergency repair, I drove to Maine to spend three nights at the home of Toby Sifton, one of the Kasung Command and my main supervisor. He consoled me with apparent heart, while I arranged for a new differential to be fitted to my vehicle at a cost of $3,000. Nobody offered any compensation and it was clear it was not worth asking for any, despite it being clear to Kasung Command that a major incident had just occurred at Dorje Denma Ling.

Sifton ordered me to silence so as to, “…not feed this beast”, namely the gossip surrounding the Kitchen Manager’s storyline. In my utter confusion, I began a month of attempted healing at Karme Chöling in Vermont. I effectively suppressed any criticism of anybody elses’s responsibility in the aggression which had, preventably, come my way. However, just as the Jews are not responsible for their holocaust, I am not accountable for that aggression and the Sangha remains at risk of harm because, to this day it has been swept under the rug.

Sifton informed me via email that I would risk his personally collecting me from Karme Choling to, “…exile on Ragged Island to subsist on seaweed”, (on the coast of Maine) should I discuss my experience at Dorje Denma Ling with anybody at Karme Choling during my month there. It did seem somewhat of a harsh to toy with making me his prisoner while the Kitchen Manager was left freely crowing around the Nova Scotia Sangha, “We ejected the Rusung from Dorje Denma Ling!” The Kitchen Manager was reported to have done this in the Sakyong’s Halifax kitchen in her role as his trainee cook. Still she was not questioned, and it would be six months before she was properly fired. As a victim of Sangha crime I was being silenced while slander was allowed to generate against me.

-- The institutionalised cover up of crime in the Shambhala International Sangha, by Edmund Butler


John Bear: 303-473-1355, bearj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/johnbearwithme

***************************************

Librarian's Comment: May 2 at 11:59 PM
https://www.reddit.com/r/ShambhalaBuddh ... dium=web2x

As a retired prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, I can only say that finding a body in a burned automobile raises serious suspicions about whether the death was a homicide, rather than a suicide. Burning yourself to death is a difficult way to kill yourself, and self immolation inside a car is almost unheard of. The only reference to a case of self-immolation in an automobile is in a paper entitled Unusual motor vehicle suicides, and was "a backup to a drug overdose."

On the other hand, burning a body in a car is a textbook way of hiding evidence of murder. Planting rumors about why the person would commit suicide is a second form of concealment, called staging: "For example, after killing a person an offender puts the victim into their vehicle and sets the car on fire with the aim of destroying any physical evidence that may have been left behind. This would be a precautionary act. If the offender does the exact same thing, but writes a suicide note, signing on behalf of the victim, speaking of mental anguish and the desire to end their life, this would constitute staging."

Getting Away With Murder: An examination of detected homicides staged as suicides

I became acquainted with the technique of burning the body in an automobile after simulating an automobile accident when I was an Oregon Deputy DA, and watched a video with some detectives of the exhumation of a body that had been buried eighteen years. Asking why we were watching this, another DA told me that a Native American in a Georgia prison was dying, and confessed to participating in a biker murder in Grants Pass where they shot the victim in the throat with a shotgun, put his body in a car, doused it all with gasoline, and pushed it over a cliff. Sure enough, Josephine County sheriffs called it a fatal one-vehicle crash. But when they exhumed the body (not much flesh left on the bones by the maggots, but there was still a cohesive spinal structure visible), they x-rayed it and -- boom! There was a wad of buckshot right in the neck.

Obviously, if a person self-immolates themselves, there's going to be a different appearance than if someone ignites their corpse. Here is the difference: "If a person is alive but unconscious before they are burned, the burned body will assume a pugilistic posture. This term arises from the similarity of the posture to that of a boxer in the ring; the arms are raised up in a defensive position and the hands are tightened into fists. The legs may be bent into a defensive stance as well. "

Burning Evidence

I don't have any information on the appearance of Bill's body, but good police forensic practices are often not followed, and homicides are taken for suicides all the time. (See the likely murders of Ferguson activists, including at least one the police are calling suicide that was almost certainly a lynching. The Boulder law enforcement do not have a great reputation for investigating homicides involving the wealthy, as we can recall from their inability to solve the Jon Benet case.

Suicide by a Dharma student is a rare thing. Sometimes people know too much. Questions should be asked, but the Boulder media isn't doing it. Somebody should get the coroner's report, and see if Bill's burned corpse was in a "pugilistic posture." If not, then he was dead before the car was burned.

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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:04 am

A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir
by Samuel Bercholz and Pema Namdol Thaye
shambhala.com
$24.95 - Hardcover

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Details

Take a trip through the realms of hell with a man whose temporary visitor’s pass gave him a horrifying—and enlightening—preview of its torments. This true account of Sam Bercholz’s near-death experience has more in common with Dante’s Inferno than it does with any of the popular feel-good stories of what happens when we die. In the aftermath of heart surgery, Sam, a longtime Buddhist practitioner and teacher, is surprised to find himself in the lowest realms of karmic rebirth, where he is sent to gain insight into human suffering. Under the guidance of a luminous being, Sam’s encounters with a series of hell-beings trapped in repetitious rounds of misery and delusion reveal to him how an individual’s own habits of fiery hatred and icy disdain, of grasping desire and nihilistic ennui, are the source of horrific agonies that pound consciousness for seemingly endless cycles of time. Comforted by the compassion of a winged goddess and sustained by the kindness of his Buddhist teachers, Sam eventually emerges from his ordeal with renewed faith that even the worst hell contains the seed of wakefulness. His story is offered, along with the modernist illustrations of a master of Tibetan sacred arts, in order to share what can be learned about awakening from our own self-created hells and helping others to find relief and liberation from theirs.

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Inferno, 2015. Acrylic, 20.75 x 27 inches. © Pema Namdol Thaye

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Gates of Hell (detail) 2015. Acrylic, 20.75 x 21.1 inches. © Pema Namdol Thayel

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Momo Drollo, 2013. Acrylic, 23.75 x 30 inches. © Pema Namdol Thaye


News & Reviews

"Sam Bercholz, one of the most genuine and heartful teachers of dharma I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, has written a harrowing and vivid account of what might await us after death. A dark thrill to read, it is also a generous gift, reminding us that what we do here matters urgently." —George Saunders, author of Tenth of December

"A Guided Tour of Hell graphically illustrates the naked consequences of the destructive side of our attitudes and actions. Buddhism says, when our mind is released from this physical setup, we could enjoy a heavenly world of peace and light, or suffer in a hellish world of darkness and pain. No one else creates these worlds for us. They are the reflections of our own past mental habits. Thank you, Sam, for returning with these mesmerizing descriptions of what you witnessed on the other side. I hope that they will make us mindful to become better people." —Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, author of The Healing Power of Mind and Boundless Healing

"This book is an astonishingly generous offering: a tour of hell, guided with love. This is not a pacifying love. Rather, it is a love that destroys illusion to leave the reader in a state of discomfiting wakefulness. If you seek a deeply refined and discerning spiritual view that will compel you to journey beyond conventional thought, never to return, this book is for you." —Susan Piver, author of Start Here Now

"An apocalyptic guided tour through the infernal Buddhist hells realms revealed during a near-death experience. A courageous and subjective account, resonant with Buddhist doctrine, that veers far from the heavenly realms of much modern NDE literature. Sam Bercholz’s narrative is vividly illustrated by Pema Namdol’s brilliant artwork." —Robert Beer, artist and author of The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs

"A fascinating and deeply thought-provoking testimony, powerfully illustrated. A must-read for anyone who wonders what might happen at the time of death." —Matthieu Ricard, author of Happiness
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:13 am

A Guided Tour of Hell
by Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Apr 20 — Sep 16, 2018

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A guided tour of one man’s harrowing descent into the Tibetan Buddhist realms of hell encourages us to contemplate the meaning of life and the consequences of negative action.

After collapsing in the hospital following heart surgery, longtime Buddhist teacher Sam Bercholz felt himself being pulled violently down into a realm beyond life, where he witnessed dramatic suffering. Bercholz recounted the nightmarish imagery and intense sensations of this near-death experience to Tibetan American artist Pema Namdol Thaye. The artist drew on his training in traditional Tibetan arts as well as his childhood obsession with graphic novels to translate these descriptions into a series of vibrant acrylic paintings; more than 20 of these works are on view in this exhibition.

Thaye’s paintings forcefully depict the karmic suffering of hell-beings in fantastical landscapes, both fiery and crystalline. These characters — among them a suicide bomber, a murderous warlord, a self-absorbed socialite, a scientist who invents a doomsday bomb — each represent a negative habit of mind: envy, hate, greed, disdain, materialism.

The artworks encourage us to contemplate suffering in order to inspire us toward greater good in life. To this end, the final painting in the series, Samsara, reminds us that hell is only one of six possible destinations on the karmic wheel of life.

On Saturday, June 23, get an inside look at the exhibition A Guided Tour of Hell with artist Pema Namdol Thaye. Learn more.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:26 am

Outcomes of patients who commit suicide by burning
by O. Castana,1,∗ P. Kourakos,1 M. Moutafidis,1 N. Stampolidis,1 V. Triantafyllou,2 Ath. Pallantzas,1 E. Filippa,1 and C. Alexandropoulos2
March 31, 2013

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Summary

Cases in which people use fire when attempting or committing suicide are not common but nevertheless constitute a cause of admission to burns units worldwide. Usually these people are suffering from stress and have been diagnosed as mentally ill. Schizophrenia, depression, and personality disorders are the most frequently diagnosed conditions. The psychological problems appear to have been overlooked by the family or not to have been presented to them. The aim of this study is to present the clinical features, characteristics, and outcomes of patients burned during a suicide attempt. The role of the psychiatrist is important, starting in the emergency room. The incidence of patients committing self-injury by burning appears to be higher in women burn patients. Deceased patients usually have a larger extent of burns and a higher incidence of other injuries and require more surgical procedures and longer hospitalization times. The problems for burn unit staff and qualified psychiatric care are discussed.

Introduction

Attempted suicide by burning (“self-immolation”) is uncommon in Western countries, accounting for 2-6% of burn centre admissions. Nevertheless, this particular patient group remains a great challenge for the burn team because of its special characteristics, placing a heavy burden on medical, nursing, and financial resources.

In 2008, according to WHO, Eurostat, and Elstat (Greek Statistics Service), the annual suicide rate in the 27 EU member states was 10.1 suicides per 100,000 population, the highest being in Lithuania (30.7 per 100,000 and the lowest in Greece (2.8 per 100,000).

In Greece there were 4042 documented suicides in the period 1999-2009, at a steady rate. Since then there has been an increase: from 507 cases in 2009 to 622 in 2010 and 798 in 2012. Psychiatrists correlate this phenomenon with the higher unemployment in the last years.

Given this increase in suicide rates in Greece we took the opportunity to review the particular subset of patient suicides by burning presenting to our Burns Unit in Evaggelismos Hospital.

A retrospective review was performed, examining emergency admissions to our Burns Unit over the past six years. We included burn patients with documented self-inflicted injuries, excluding cases in which deliberate self-harm might have been suspected but not admitted. We recorded patient demographics, marital status, previous psychiatric history, and total body surface area (TBSA) burned.

Results

The review of our records for the past six years showed that nine patients who attempted suicide by self-immolation were admitted to our burns unit (Figs. 1-​-3)3) (Table I), representing 4% of all burn admissions. This incidence does not reflect the true incidence of suicide by immolation since some patients may have died immediately and were never transferred to our burns unit.

[x]
Fig. 1: Injury pattern of patient who attempted suicide by burning.

[x]
Fig. 3: A third patient.

[x]
Table I: Demographic data of our patients

Five of the patients were female (55%) (mean age all patients, 58 yr; age range, 39-82 yr). Four patients (45%) were single/divorced at the time of their injury, five were unemployed (55%), and two (22%) were in prison.

Nearly all the patients were reported to have had a low income status (unemployed, supported by family, low pension). A psychiatric history was recorded in five cases (55%), depression being the most common diagnosis, followed by bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse. The average TBSA was 40.4% (range, 5-91%). Three of our patients sustained inhalation injury for which they were intubated, only to succumb to their injuries in the first five days of hospitalization (mortality, 33%). Eight were injured when they set fire to their clothing - in three cases they set fire to the bed linen as well; four patients used a liquid accelerant on their clothes (gasoline, domestic use alcohol) and swallowed acid solution resulting in a chemical burn. The surviving patients were taken to the operating theatre under general anaesthesia at least twice during their hospital stay. Nearly all returned for more surgery after their discharge. All of the surviving patients received immediate counselling from our hospital’s psychiatric team; two were transferred to the psychiatric ward before their discharge from hospital.

[x]
Fig. 2: A second patient.

Discussion

Characteristics of self-immolation suicide patients


The special characteristics of self-immolation victims have been reviewed and described in the literature, and a distinct difference has been discerned to this regard between Western societies and those in the East. For our review we will focus on the characteristics of Western societies: despite the low incidence of suicide attempts by self-immolation, these are associated with a much higher mortality, mean TBSA burned, frequency of complications (including inhalation injury), and prolonged hospital stay.

Most of the patients had sought psychiatric consultation prior to the event, and 43-90% were diagnosed as suffering from a psychiatric condition (including, in decreasing order, depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse). The treatment of this group of patients was characterized by delayed healing, increased need for surgery, and poor cooperation. Various studies found a male preponderance, mostly in the fourth decade of life. The most common method documented is the use of a liquid accelerant to enhance the effect of setting one’s clothing on fire. The mechanism of the action together with the absence of the will to rescue oneself from the flames leads in most cases to involvement of the face, trunk, and upper extremities as also to frequent inhalation injury. Many studies also report a correlation with a low education or socio-economic status. Additional factors are loneliness, life-altering events and social stresses, the presence of chronic illness, and long-term disability.

Self-immolation victims in Greece

A previous retrospective study performed (1996-2003) at the Gennimatas General State Hospital in Athens, Greece, reported an incidence of 3.7% (53 patients), with a mean age of 53 years, 43% males, and mean burn TBSA 41.6%. A psychiatric history was noted in 43% of the patients (mostly depression). The use of flammable liquid was the most common method (70%), and the mortality rate was high (75%). The mean hospitalization time for survivors was 59 days.

Our patients generally followed the characteristics mentioned above, the majority having a psychiatric history, low socio-economic status, high TBSA percentage, high incidence of inhalation injury, prolonged hospital stay, increased need of surgery, and high mortality rate. Our group of patients showed a slight female preponderance (55%), compared to most of the series reported (yet in accordance with the other retrospective study from Athens), and a slightly higher mean age (58 yr).

Conclusion

Suicide by self-immolation represents only a small percentage of burn admissions; however, this patient group is a great burden for the specialist team because of its unique characteristics.

The nine burn patients treated in our department over the past six years generally followed the trend of selfimmolation victims in Western societies; however, the sample was too small to allow any conclusions to be drawn.

We believe that this percentage underestimates the true rate of self-inflicted burns because of the frequently observed reluctance of patients and families to admit to selfharm. Insufficient record keeping and the lack of an organized national burns database also make the evaluation of burn patients (and self-inflicted burns) difficult.

Undoubtedly this subgroup of patients deserves special attention from the burn team because of their poor prognosis, and the importance of close cooperation with the psychiatric specialist cannot be overemphasized.

_______________

References

1. World Health Organization; http://www.who.int/en .
2. Eurostat; http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal ... ostat/home .
3. Elstat; http://www.statistics.gr/portal/page/portal/ESYE .
4. Theodorou P, Phan VT, Weinand C, et al. Suicide by burning: Epidemiological and clinical profiles. Ann Plast Surg. 2011;66:339–43. [PubMed]
5. Forster NA, Nuñez DG, Zingg M, et al. Attempted suicide by self-immolation is a powerful predictive variable for survival of burn injuries. J Burn Care Rehabil. 2012;33:642–8. [PubMed]
6. Moniz P, Casal D, Mavioso D, et al. The self-inflicted burns: Typology and its prognostic relevance in a 14-year review of self-inflicted burns in a tertiary referral centre. Burns. 2011;37:322–7. [PubMed]
7. Daigeler A, Langer S, Hüllmann K, et al. A follow-up study of adults with suicidal burns: Psychosocial adjustment and quality of life. J Burn Care Rehabil. 2009;30:844–51. [PubMed]
8. Pham TN, King JR, Palmieri TL, et al. Predisposing factors for self-inflicted burns. J Burn Care Rehabil. 2003;24:223–7. [PubMed]
9. Poeschla B, Combs H, Livingstone S, et al. Self-immolation: Socioeconomic, cultural and psychiatric patterns. Burns. 2011;37:1049–57. [PubMed]
10. Tsati E, Iconomou T, Tzivaridou D, et al. Self-inflicted burns in Athens, Greece: A six-year retrospective study. J Burn Care Rehabil. 2005;26:75–9. [PubMed]

Articles from Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters are provided here courtesy of Euro-Mediterranean Council for Burns and Fire Disasters (MBC)
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:38 am

Suicide by Self-Burning While Driving a Vehicle
by Motoki Osawa [1] *, Yoo Tanaka [1] [2], Yu Kakimoto [1], and Fumiko Satoh [1]
1 Department of Forensic Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine, Japan
2 3rd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, Japan
Submitted: 01 November 2016
Accepted: 17 November 2016
Published: 18 November 2016
© 2016 Osawa et al.

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Abstract

Three cases of suicide by self-burning while driving a vehicle are introduced, in which planned multiple suicide, for which more than two methods are combined, was suspected. They committed suicide by igniting flammable matter while driving and the vehicle collided with a guard rail or walls at high speed. It might be carried out to camouflage a suicidal action as an ordinary accident for insurance fraud or other purposes. No alcohol or drugs were detected, and carbon monoxide hemoglobin saturation was high: 52% on average. Unlike typical social self-immolation, middle aged males who had no history of mental disorder committed this type of aggressive self-inflicted burn.

ABBREVIATIONS

COHb: Carbon Monoxide Hemoglobin

INTRODUCTION

A vehicle fire occurred in a tunnel of an expressway one evening in 2015. The driver, a woman in her 30s, was rescued. The driver later confessed that she had attempted suicide by sprinkling kerosene on the passenger seat of the vehicle and setting it ablaze with a cigarette lighter. A survey of the Japanese literature reveals that Yamauchi et al., reported a similar case of suicide by vehicle fire, in which a vehicle in a tunnel of an expressway collided with a wall, causing a vehicle fire, after which a middle-aged man was found dead [1]. Because a melted plastic tank was found in the passenger seat, it was inferred that the driver had ignited the accelerant by himself, with the intent of suicide. It might be said that this case is one type of planned multiple suicide for which more than two methods are combined [2]. The youth tends toward aggressive behaviors accompanied by high seriousness and lethality [3,4].

As suicide means, induction of exhaust gas in a stationary vehicle has been popular [5,6], but attempt on moving wheel such as crash is rare. According to the general statement related to suicide during vehicle driving summarized by Pompili et al., based on reports from various nations and regions [7], driver suicides account for 1%-7% of all driver deaths. They concluded that, generally speaking, more than 2% of all deaths can be judged as suicide. Suicidal actions taken during driving usually show a pattern in which a vehicle with one driver causes an accident independently, although other vehicles are involved in some cases [8]. As for the specific suicidal means of automobile driving, intentional collision accidents are common, although various accidents such as plummeting into a valley also occur [9]. Shkrum et al., reviewed self-burning suicides in Canada between 1986 and 1988. Six of 43 victims reportedly found inside the compartment of automobiles, and kerosene was used as an accelerant in one case [10]. Viklund et al., retrospectively analyzed 118 cases of death caused by vehicle fire in Sweden, reporting that 5 cases (3%) were judged to be suicide [11]. However, details of the circumstances in both case reports remain unknown.

In the current investigation, accidents suggestive of intentional vehicle fire death with the intent of suicide were extracted from past autopsy cases and analyzed.

CASE PRESENTATION

Cases subjected to autopsy in 16 years of 1999-2014 at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Tokai University School of Medicine were reviewed. Self-burning suicide cases occurred 63 times during the period. Of those, 3 cases are suspected of suicide by vehicle fire. An outline of each case is presented below.

Case #1

In the evening, a station wagon collided with the right guard rail of the automobile expressway, caught fire and burst into flames in a tunnel about 200 m further down the road. After the fire was extinguished, the driver, a man in his 40s, was found dead in the driver’s seat. A plastic tank was found under the rear seat, kerosene reaction was detected in the vehicle, and parts of a cigarette lighter were found. Although no suicide note was found, he was reportedly troubled by the fact that an adulterous relationship had been discovered. He had no history of mental disorder such as depression. Autopsy and examination results revealed excessive carbonization of the entire body and soot aspiration image. Blood alcohol tests, urinary alcohol tests, and drug and toxicology tests were negative, although carbon monoxide hemoglobin (COHb) saturation was 48%.

Case #2

In the early morning, on a highway, a passenger car collided with a concrete wall divider from the frontage road, caught fire and burst into flames (Figure 1). After the fire was extinguished, a man in his 60s was found dead in the driver’s seat. In all, four metal paint cans were found in the passenger seat and rear seat. Parts of a cigarette lighter were also found. Results showed that he had large debts and had taken out more than one life insurance policy on himself. His body was carbonized, and had been incinerated to the torso. Confirmation of the soot aspiration image was difficult. Blood alcohol, drug, and toxicology tests yielded negative results. COHb saturation was 31%. No organic matter was detected in the blood using GC/MS method.

Case #3

A passenger car collided with the guard rail and burst into flames in the early morning at a downhill curve in a mountain area. After the fire was extinguished, a man in his 50s was found dead in the driver’s seat. A lump of melted plastic in the shape of plastic tank was found and kerosene reaction was detected in the compartment. He had no history of mental disorder such as depression and exhibited no speech or behavior suggestive of suicide. Autopsy and examination findings revealed that his entire body was burned excessively and soot aspiration image was noticed. Blood and urinary alcohol test, and toxicology were negative, and COHb saturation was 77%.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Items common to the three cases described above are presented in Table (1). Flammable matter was ignited while driving at high speed on the express way or downhill and the vehicle collided with a guard rail or walls. The vehicle then burst into flames. The victim was found dead in the driver’s seat. No alcohol or drugs were detected. COHb saturation was high: 52% on average. Bohnert described that in deaths occurring after car fires due to collisions, the COHb value are usually <40%, often even <20% [12]. This report suggests that the victims did not attempt to escape even after the outbreak of fire and remained in the vehicle. Lam et al., found a statistically significant association between suicidal thoughts and injuries by automobile collision [13].

Table 1: Characteristics of three cases of suicide by self-inflicted burn while driving a vehicle.

Age, sex / Middle-aged men


Situations / Single driver, collision with side wall or guardrail
Burns / Severe
Accelerant / Kerosene (2), Paint products (1)
COHb content / 52% (mean)
Blood alcohol / Not detected
Other drugs / Not detected
Suicide note / None
Psychiatric history / None


In the three cases, plastic tanks for kerosene or metallic paint cans were left in the passenger compartment. In two cases, a kerosene reaction was detected in the vehicle. From these findings, all cases are deemed as intentional fire outbreak and are regarded as complicated and elaborate methods of suicide. The three presented victims clearly prepared to complete suicide. In contrast to younger age of suicide that exhibits the predisposition of impulsive and aggressive behaviors [3,4], these middle aged males, with the mean age of 56 years old, characteristically selected the planed methods accompanied by high seriousness and lethality.

Traffic accidents involving two-wheel vehicles and automobiles normally occur because of carelessness. In reality, one normally considers that fatal traffic accidents are not intentional but accidental. If someone intends to camouflage a suicidal action as an ordinary accident for insurance fraud or other purposes, a traffic accident might well become one option. It has been pointed out that fatal automobile accident data apparently fail to exclude possible suicide or suspected suicide [14]. In these three cases, fire outbreak did not occur in a stationary vehicle, although the vehicle came to a standstill after collision. Evidence indicates that the drivers attempted to camouflage their intentions as an ordinary traffic accident. Moreover, they attempted to provide beneficiaries with a favorable payment of life insurance [15]. Regarding other possibilities, they probably wanted their families not to suffer from the disgrace of suicide by pretending a traffic accident.

No victim had a history of mental disorder such as depression. Franchitto et al., reported that 42% of the patients who attempted self-burning suffered from depression. Most of them had a history of attempted suicide by some other method [16]. It is characteristic that no victim in any of the three cases exhibited a history of mental disorder. Rather, some victims had economic trouble or relationship difficulties.

As for the fire accelerant, kerosene was used in two cases; paint thinner was used in one case. If these flammable materials had not been used, the collision would probably not have produced a vehicle fire. Malic et al., reported that, in 78% of cases of suicide by self-burning, an accelerant such as kerosene was used [17]. They also reported that, in the case of self-burning, with damage intended by the victims themselves, the degree of burn injury was more severe than in cases of assault.

The frequency of self-inflicted burns as a means of suicide apparently depends on the region and sex. Self-burning suicide is generally less common in economically developed countries including Japan: self-burning suicide is used rarely, in about 1% of all suicide cases (1.3% for males; 1.9% for females) [18]. However, it is said that self-burning suicide is markedly influenced by social, cultural, and psychological factors. For example, in Tibet and South Korea, self-burning suicide reportedly accounts for about 5% of all suicide cases [19,20]. Such self-immolation as a cultural or moral statement in India is well-known [21], although no self-immolation occurs for those reasons in Japan. Although self-burning while driving a vehicle as reported this time is truly a rare occurrence, it is considered that economic aspects related to payment of insurance claim or considerations for the victim’s family are important. Similar cases are found only rarely in other countries. It remains unknown whether this phenomenon is peculiar to Japan, or not.

Hernetkoski et al., analyzed accidents in Finland and reported that fatal traffic accidents are decreasing as are deaths of automobile drivers at present, but rates of intentional accidents are increasing [22]. As for distinctive features of such cases, it is said that single-vehicle accidents of vehicles with one person aboard are increasing. Fatal traffic accidents involving vehicle fires probably include some cases of suicide where volatile accelerants are sprayed in the vehicle and ignited by the driver.

CONCLUSION

We demonstrate a social and clinical topic concerning an aggressive suicide method by self-burning while driving a vehicle. Three victims similarly committed suicide by igniting flammable matter while driving, then the vehicles collided at road side. It seemed to be carried out to camouflage a suicidal action as an ordinary accident. These middle aged males who had no history of mental disorder committed this type of aggressive self-inflicted burn.

_______________

REFERENCES

1. Yamanouchi H, Dewa K, Fukuda M, Motomiya Y, Xu HD, Naito E. Potential suicide of burning vehicle in traffic accident. Jpn J Legal Med. 2006; 60: 168.

2. Racette S, Sauvageau A. Planned and unplanned complex suicides: a 5-year retrospective study. J Forensic Sci. 2007; 52: 449-452.

3. McGirr A, Renaud J, Bureau A, Seguin M, Lesage A, Turecki G. Impulsive-aggressive behaviours and completed suicide across the life cycle: a predisposition for younger age of suicide. Psychol Med. 2008; 38: 407-417.

4. Mento C, Presti EL, Mucciardi M, Sinardi A, Liotta M, Settineri S. Serious Suicide Attempts: Evidence on Variables for Manage and Prevent this Phenomenon. Community Ment Health J. 2016; 52: 582-588.

5. Sarchiapone M, Mandelli L, Iosue M, Andrisano C, Roy A. Controlling access to suicide means. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011; 8: 4550-4562.

6. Liotta M, Mento C, Settineri S. Seriousness and lethality of attempted suicide: a systematic review. Aggress Violent Behav. 2015; 21: 97-109.

7. Henderson AF, Joseph AP. Motor vehicle accident or driver suicide? Identifying cases of failed driver suicide in the trauma setting. Injury. 2012; 43: 18-21.

8. Pompili M, Serafini G, Innamorati M, Montebovi F, Palermo M, Campi S, et al. Car accidents as a method of suicide: a comprehensive overview. Forensic Sci Int. 2012; 223: 1-9.

9. Milner A, De Leo D. Suicide by motor vehicle “accident” in Queensland. Traffic Inj Prev. 2012; 13: 342-347.

10.Shkrum MJ, Johnston KA. Fire and suicide: a three-year study of selfimmolation deaths. J Forensic Sci. 1992; 37: 208-221.

11.Viklund Å, Björnstig J, Larsson M, Björnstig U. Car crash fatalities associated with fire in Sweden. Traffic Inj Prev. 2013; 14: 823-827.

12.Bohnert M. Kraftfahrzeugbrand. Rechtsmedizin. 2007; 17: 175-186.

13.Lam LT, Norton R, Connor J, Ameratunga S. Suicidal ideation, antidepressive medication and car crash injury. Accid Anal Prev. 2005; 37: 335-339.

14.Jenkins J, Sainsbury P. Single-car road deaths--disguised suicides? Br Med J. 1980; 281: 1041.

15.Ohberg A, Penttila A, Lonnqvist J. Driver suicides. Br J Psychiatry. 1997; 171: 468-472.

16.Franchitto N, Faurie C, Franchitto L, Minville V, Telmon N, Rougé D. Self-inflicted burns: the value of collaboration between medicine and law. J Forensic Sci. 2011; 56: 638-642.

17.Malic CC, Karoo RO, Austin O, Phipps A. Burns inflicted by self- or by others -- an 11 year snapshot. Burns. 2007; 33: 92-97.

18.White paper on suicide in Japan, 2012.

19.Gauthier S, Reisch T, Bartsch Ch. Self-burning - a rare suicide method in Switzerland and other industrialised nations - a review. Burns. 2014; 40: 1720-1726.

20.Caine PL, Tan A, Barnes D, Dziewulski P. Self-inflicted Burns: 10 year review and comparison to national guidelines. Burns. 2016; 42: 215- 221.

21.Poeschla B, Combs H, Livingstone S, Romm S, Klein MB. Self-immolation: socioeconomic, cultural and psychiatric patterns. Burns. 2011; 37: 1049-1057.

22.Hernetkoski KM, Keskinen EO, Parkkari IK. Driver suicides in Finland-- are they different in northern and southern Finland? Int J Circumpolar Health. 2009; 68: 249-260.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:51 am

“The Fire will do the Rest”: Concealing Homicide through Posthumous Burning of Corpses
by Zija Ismaili [1], Bledar Xhemali [1], Admir Sinamati [1] and Gentian Vyshka [2]*
1 Institute of Legal Medicine, Rr. Dibres 371, Tirana, Albania
2 Faculty of Medicine, University of Medicine in Tirana, Albania
Anthropology 2015, 3:1
*Corresponding author: Gentian Vyshka, Faculty of Medicine, University of Medicine in Tirana, Albania, E-mail: gvyshka@yahoo.com
Received: May 15, 2015; Accepted May 15, 2015; Published May 22, 2015
Citation: Ismaili Z, Xhemali B, Sinamati A, Vyshka G (2015) “The Fire will do the Rest”: Concealing Homicide through Posthumous Burning of Corpses. Anthropol 3: 146. doi:10.4172/2332-0915.1000146
Copyright: © 2015 Ismaili Z, et al.

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Abstract

Arson and fire will render very difficult forensic evaluation of a crime scene, and in particular of a victim deliberately burned post-mortem. However, new methodological approaches have made possible to recover as many biological tissue as possible even in burned remains of human bodies, and thus to produce valid data for judicial purposes. The authors of the paper present pictures from two cases, the first one found inside a car that was set fire with the aim of erasing all traces of the crime. Careful forensic evaluation concluded in the favour of a subdural hematoma beneath a bone defect in the right temporal area of the skull, raising suspicions about a premortem injury, since heatinduced hematomas are mostly epidural in nature. The second case was an incomplete burn of lower extremities during a dying fire due probably to a self-extinct mechanism. Theories on both these eventualities are considered in the discussion section of the paper.

Keywords:

Fire scene investigation; Burned corpses; Skeletal remains; Arson

Introduction

Although arson is a merely criminal issue and treated as such in penal codes, the omnipresent psychology and psychiatry has been so generous as to grant arsonists a particular mental health disposition [1]. The psychiatrically oriented authors accept that firesetting is a behavior, arson is a crime, and pyromania is a psychiatric diagnosis; with courts being rather unable to make necessary distinctions [1]. These hazardous terminological artefacts will be otherwise of no help, when coming to practical issues.

Deliberate firesetting has been a widely used technique from settlers to clear the land and Yoder appraises the value of the setting ablaze living materia when writing ‘the fire will do the rest’ [2]. In spite of this, cremation is a technique as old as humanity itself and from a medical or public health perspective advantaged [3]. None of the above mentioned usages was initially conceived for concealing the traces of a crime, especially of homicides.

The fact is that unfortunately, fire will erase much of the evidence of a crime, and in any evidence will be left it will be of little value in judicial terms. There are however, many authors and techniques that try to pick up some remains of the forensic evidence even in burned corpses. Mostly, the research and the investigation will be limited to hard tissues that resist longer to the heat: bones and teeth [4]. Crime scene investigation will focus primarily into identification, but further analytical steps (if feasible) need to be taken aiming to clarify the mechanism of the death, the presence of any antemortem injury and other relevant details are of importance. In fact, absence of any vitality signs indicates postmortem burns, frequently used by perpetrators to conceal homicide [5].

Cases Study

We present pictures from two burned bodies, and the respective investigative setting of those. The first one is the case of a male aged approx. 40 years, whose death was considered violent, and whose corpse had signs of premortem injuries. The perpetrators set ablaze the corpse inside a car (Figure 1) and abandoned in a secondary rural road.

The charred corpse was found seated inside the driver place. The most important finding was that no signs of any shooting were found, but several fractures of the head skull suggested heat-induced changes of the cranium. Nevertheless, the forensic experts performing the autopsy concluded that the hematoma found in the right temporal-parietal area was a subdural one, which would theoretically orient its origin as an intra vitam, or premortem and therefore would orient the investigation toward a murder. A bone defect ranging 10 × 10 centimetres was seen at the same place, and brain parenchyma protuberance was evident, in a carbonized consistency.

Image
Figure 1: Partially burned car abandoned in a rural area

In fact, the distinction of the origin of an intracranial hematoma following a burn is a matter of controversy, with several factors playing a role, even with the extra force applied during the extraction of the victim from a closed place (eventually the car seat) or in an attempt to save someone from an accidental fire, eventually from self-immolation [6,7]. However, in our illustrative case hemorrhagic infiltrations of osseous margins of the cranial fractures were another indicator of the premortem nature of the injuries. The presence in the blood toxicological analysis of a value of 43% of carbon monoxide suggested as well that the victim was still alive, albeit unconscious, when deliberately burned.

The second image (Figure 2) is a partially burned corpse of a female. In an attempt to erase all possible evidence from the crime scene, the perpetrator covered the victim with a blanket and set fire. However, no fuel dousing was applied in the hurry-up of a hate crime, which might explain that the fire died out without burning down the entirety of the corpse; instead only signs of partial burns were visible in the distal twothirds of lower extremities (Figure 3).

In this second case, a variety of factors might have lead to an uncompleted burn, probably related to the self-extinction of the fire. Closed compartments might have some influence on this self-extinction probability, and apposite predictive models have been elaborated [8].

[x]
Figure 2: Charred corpse, with the cranium showing an extensive bone defect in the right temporal-parietal area (star) and a subdural hematoma beneath.

[x]
Figure 3: Burns in the lower extremities, in a failed attempt to set fire to a crime victim.

Discussion

The challenge of a forensic evaluation of burned skeletal remains in not only a methodological one. The fire in fact erases much of the evidence, if not even the entirety of that, when burning is complete. However, authors have demonstrated that perimortem trauma might survive the burning process, hence the necessity for a thorough and accurate examination of all skeletal remains in a fire scene [9].

There are several and well-documented postmortem thermally induced changes, such as:

a. The ‘pugilistic’ attitude of the extremities;

b. The epidural heat hematomas, in the form of epidural extravasates;

c. Cranial suture separation and dura mater rupture;

d. Heat-induced fractures of the cranial vault;

e. Transformation of blood inside the vascular system in dried claylike masses;

f. Heat-induced skin separation;

g. Soot particles in the airways and

h. Protrusion of the tongue [10].

The presence of such heat-induced fractures and hematomas will render notably much more difficult the distinction of premortem skeletal injuries; nevertheless every attempt needs to be made to recover as much data as possible. Different sources have been focused on providing a methodological approach to all this particularly difficult forensic assessment, and have proposed (1) to develop fatal fire scene recovery protocols and guidelines, with the principal aim of locating and recovering all biological tissue remains still present; (2) to document soft tissue burn sequences and bone heat-induced modifications and (3) to analyze effects of fire and heat on the diagnostic characteristics of skeletal trauma [11]. Particular processing of fire scene will safeguard evidence, which will otherwise get lost when routine or classical scene processing is used. The importance of a specialized and prudent approach to burned skeletal remains is therefore widely professed.

Conclusions

Albeit heat and fire-induced changes to corpses are able to destroy substantial part of forensic evidence, still some data might be recovered, particularly through applying ad hoc methodologies and protocols. Experimental models have been tried and validated for this purpose [12]. The criminal trend of posthumous burning of corpses is fomented from the general presumption that fire will leave no traces of any criminal and premortem injuries. More than a medico-legal issue, the fire scene investigation requires a multidisciplinary approach and evaluation, with criminologists and other specialists having their say in formulating conclusions and providing the necessary evidence to courts with regard to violent deaths. Attempts to mask, to disguise or manipulate violent deaths through posthumous burning of the victims need accurate protocols to uncover the truth, a very much difficult albeit still feasible task.

_______________

References:

1. Burton PR, McNiel DE, Binder RL (2012) Fire setting, arson, pyromania, and the forensic mental health expert. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 40: 355-365.

2. Yoder newsletter.

3. Wells TS (1880) Remarks on Cremation or Burial? Br Med J 2: 461-463.

4. Berketa JW (2014) Maximizing postmortem oral-facial data to assist identification following severe incineration. Forensic Sci Med Pathol 10: 208- 216.

5. Tümer AR, Akçan R, Karacaoglu E, Balseven-Odabaşı A, Keten A, et al. (2012) Postmortem burning of the corpses following homicide. J Forensic Leg Med 19: 223-228.

6. Dirnhofer R, Ranner G (1982) Intracerebral hemorrhage in a burn victim--burn hematoma, salvage injury or intra vitam origin? Arch Kriminol 170: 165-172.

7. Ahmadi A, Schwebel DC, Bazargan-Hejazi S, Taliee K, Karim H, et al. (2015) Self-immolation and its adverse life-events risk factors: results from an Iranian population. J Inj Violence Res 7: 13-18.

8. Zhang J, Lu S, Li Ch, Yuan M, Yuen R (2013) On the self-extinction time of pool fire in closed compartments. Procedia Engineering 62: 266-274.

9. Ubelaker DH (2009) The forensic evaluation of burned skeletal remains: a synthesis. Forensic Sci Int 183: 1-5.

10. Dettmeyer RB, Verhoff MA, Schütz HF (2014) Forensic medicine: fundamentals and perspectives. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, USA.

11. Symes SA, Dirkmaat DC, Ousley SD (2012) Recovery and Interpretation of Burned Human Remains. Research and Development in Forensic Anthropology and Forensic Odontology. US National Institute of Justice, Biblio Gov, NIJ.

12. Herrmann NP, Bennett JL (1999) The differentiation of traumatic and heatrelated fractures in burned bone. J Forensic Sci 44: 461-49.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:30 am

Part 1 of 2

The institutionalised cover up of crime in the Shambhala International Sangha
by Edmund Butler
March 4, 2018, updated July 22, 2018

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Introduction

My experience with Shambhala International from 2007 to date has led me to conclude that, despite a well-crafted aura of goodness based on high ethics, the organisation is as prone to corruption as any other. My intention in publishing here is to inspire others to tell their stories. I make no apologies for its length: it is brief compared to the review of Shambhala’s corrupt sense of justice which has long been required and which may now be starting.

Shambhala International lists 14,000 members worldwide, primarily in North America and Europe. Of these, approximately 2,000 are vajrayana students of the organisations’ leader, Sakyong (‘Earth Protector’) Mipham Rinpoche (‘Blessed One’). It is reliably estimated and quoted by senior students that approximately 100,000 ‘unique visitors’ attend the 220 Shambhala Centres and Groups each year. In July 2018 credible allegations of sexual assault by Mipham and their systemic cover up by his Administrators were acknowledged by those Administrators after they had threatened legal action against their publication. Much of the trouble is a macrocosm of what I experienced in the organisation.

In 2014 I fled one of Shambhala’s four Residential Retreat Centres, Dorje Denma Ling in Nova Scotia, because Shambhala’s Administrators overtly ridiculed my evidence of numerous crimes at that centre, in particular my attempted murder by vehicle sabotage. They failed to inform either myself or the police investigation which I then initiated that they had quietly banned my main suspect from the centre for some of those crimes, just days prior to the discovery of my vehicle’s life-endangering sabotage. As the sabotage became apparent, he continued to slander me and complain about his ban to guests at Dechen Chöling, one of the other four Retreat Centres, to where he had silently gone after being banned from Dorje Denma Ling. Based on the (lack of) information they found, the Police concluded that Dorje Denma Ling was safe for me, even though my main suspect frequently visits Nova Scotia. This case is typical of the Shambhala Administrators’ habit of covering up crime while abdicating their duty of care. My inability to find either empathy or a sense of accountability within Shambhala following my voluminous reports on criminal activity within the Sangha, is evidence that the Administration’s sense of justice is deeply unethical.

In 2015, the just-retired President of Shambhala encouraged me to refer to this life-endangering sabotage as “attempted murder”. As the former Public Relations Manager of Amnesty International and a key broker in the Sri Lanka civil war ceasefire, I took his advice to heart. He also told me that the covering up of this kind of behaviour is “systemic in Shambhala”. The recent attempt by Lady Diana Mukpo to protect her husband, Mitchell Levy, from criticisms of his habitual preying on young women is a classic and very public display of this kind of behaviour in the Sangha.

I prefer to continue sharing my experience with Shambhala in public forums by way of alerting others to the destructive nepotism in the organisation and the harm to which they may be subjected should they join or remain in the group. Project Sunshine is revealing widespread child sexual abuse and its decades long cover up, involving senior teachers and others in the Shambhala Sangha. This reaches into the Shambhala International’s Board of Directors, the Kalapa Council where Levy resides as one of its oldest members. He is one of the Sangha’s most senior teachers and recently recused himself from discussions related to the now very topical issue of sexual abuse due to the many allegations of same against him, one involving a 16 year old girl with whom he had an ongoing affair as a man old enough to be her father. This nepotism, of course, extends to the Sakyong (“The Boss”, my former guru) as I narrate below. This blog is surely the tip of an iceberg and as time goes by this year, it seems that dogs are baying and skeletons are falling out of closets.

“It is not a breach of samaya to bring painful information to light. Naming destructive behaviors is a necessary step to protect those who are being harmed or who are in danger of being harmed in the future, and to safeguard the health of the community … We must distinguish teachers who are eccentric or provocative—but ultimately compassionate and skillful—from those who are actually harming students and causing trauma. These are two very different things, and it is important that we do not lump them together. There are plenty of teachers who push and provoke students to help them learn about their minds, but that is not abuse. Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse are not teaching tools.” Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, as presented by Shambhala’s own publication, Lion’s Roar.

Narrative

My transition to Dorje Denma Ling


In 2013 the Kasung Command led by Jesse Grimes, Toby Sifton and Ian McClaughlin and the now former Director of Dorje Denma Ling, Lennart Krogoll invited me to take up a dual post as Rusung and Artist in Residence. As Rusung I was charged with the spiritual, emotional and physical health, safety and security of all people at the facility, including both staff and guests. My role was supervised by Kasung Command. The post of Rusung became defunct with my departure, effective with its summary ‘dissolution’ in 2014. In my role as senior management at the facility, I was junior only to the Director.

As Artist in Residence it was agreed that I would set up a Joint Venture between my furniture-making company and Dorje Denma Ling by moving an 11 ton container of machinery, lumber and a thirty-year collection of specialist hand tools from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. An existing building onsite would be converted for the workshop operations. I had sold my property in BC in order to facilitate this major life move, having provided a Shambhala-based meditation group in my community there for the previous two years. I intended to enrol my daughter in the Shambhala School in Halifax and we interviewed there for this purpose.

The Director, who from my point of view spoke on behalf of the Kasung as my most direct supervisor in my dual role, promised that I would be housed in family friendly quarters, and that my daughter’s airfares from British Columbia would be covered by Dorje Denma Ling to facilitate our relationship. I was asked to make a three-year commitment to the post, which I gladly did, having been recommended for the post by a handful of senior members of the community in both Vancouver and Nova Scotia generally. However, upon arrival in February 2014, I was only offered a one-year contract.

It quickly became clear that the Director had been numerously and formally advised between September and December 2013 by the members of Dorje Denma Ling (advisory) Council to not invite me to fill this post of Rusung/Artist in residence. This advice was offered primarily because, as the Director had grossly mismanaged the facility’s finances to date, it could not support the joint venture as proposed. While this advice is minuted in the Council’s meetings of the time, I was kept unaware of it by all concerned despite having many face to face conversations with all of them prior to my departure from British Columbia.

I soon learned that the Director also did not have the legal authority to establish a for-profit business venture between my company and the organisation due to its charitable tax status. In pursuing that Joint Venture therefore he jeopardised Shambhala’s tax charitable status in Canada and therefore its success in Canada and reputation internationally.

I therefore moved my life across the breadth of Canada at the age of fifty-one and arrived at Dorje Denma Ling under the entirely false pretences of the Director and Kasung Command. At the April 2014 Dorje Denma Ling Council meeting, nine members discussed the Director’s attempts to establish the Joint Venture without any legal or internal institutional authority, or even an internal business plan to protect Dorje Denma Ling. Council advised the Director that, “in order to avoid a lawsuit”, (Torgny Vigerstad) the Joint Venture should be wound up. Council therefore voted, unanimously and with the Director’s agreement to compensate me some $9,000 in respect of costs incurred in the moving of my container across Canada.

Although he ultimately did authorise full payment of the $9,000 as agreed, the Director attempted to reduce that payment by 50% in an extraordinarily insensitive email exchange with myself days before honoring his minuted commitment in Council. Aware that the Finance Manager of Dorje Denma Ling at the time, Sandra Selva had sought to have me fired on evidently trumped up charges, he allowed himself to be persuaded by her that the proposed 50% reduction was fair. Employing aggressive logic he compounded it by suggesting, unbelievably that as I was responsible for accepting the contract to work at Dorje Denma Ling I was responsible for 50% of my moving costs.
He appears to ignore the fact I experienced a disruption in my life as a result of his stubborn idealism in misrepresenting the situation beyond any possible assessment I may have made. In fact, the contract came about entirely as a result of the Director’s wishful thinking and that of the persuasiveness of a local Shambhala resident of Tatamagouche, Angela Pressburger who had a vested interest in seeing the Centre flourish on account of her Bed and Breakfast business which was intrinsically linked to the success of the Center.

Kasung Command apologised for the eighty-square-foot cubicle which the Director forced me to inhabit despite his empty promises of ‘family accommodation’ of twice that size. I was obliged to live in it with all of the furniture and possessions sufficient for such accommodation. I was told there simply was no other space available, and, “Sorry about that”.

As it turned out, the Dorje Denma Ling Development Department’s construction budget had been depleted entirely, three months prior to my arrival due to the Director’s financial mismanagement. This left the much needed 500 square foot, three bedroom staff accommodation house 20% unfinished and well over time. It serves as a monument to how he, according to Senior Administrators, “…wrecked Dorje Denma Ling”. While the ‘Hemp House’ could have been completed in six months at a cost of less than $50,000, due to the Director squandering $200,000 on a long-term infrastructure plan for the facility, devoid of any proven market need for such and in the face of considerable skepticism of same, that project also failed. Naturally I was left to pay for my daughter’s airfares myself, the Director advising I approach Kasung Command to cover his commitment to meet that expense while knowing full well that the Command had virtually no operating budget whatsoever and had insisted that Dorje Denma Ling pay my wages for that very reason.

Following the Director’s approval of Council’s advice to pay compensation to myself he excluded me from all of the Dorje Denma Ling management meetings for the rest of my nine month tenure, despite my appeals to all levels of the organisation’s administration and Kasung Command. The internal staff strife was at breaking point and alcohol consumption was epidemic
—snow moving equipment, on which the facility depended for its daily survival, was routinely being operated by one person, Steve Ellenburg who was a known alcoholic and numerously observed to be consuming alcohol while operating it. His assistant appealed to me as a basic safety concern in this regard and, due to the Director’s inaction refused to work with Steve.

Working at Dorje Denma Ling

One month into my tenure the Director asked me to facilitate staff feedback on his, “…lack of care for Staff”. He called a staff meeting to inform us that he would be setting aside an entire day for twelve half-hour appointments to this end, the precise schedule and process to be coordinated by myself. Only one staff member of the twelve booked an appointment: Steve Ellenburg. According to Steve, the Director confided in him his surprise that he had not yet been fired. Clearly he was the most eligible of wiling candidates for the job, which appeared to number just one. A few staff simply ignored the exercise entirely, confiding in me their mistrust in the Director. One staff member told me, wide-eyed and waving his hand as though it were passing through the Director’s body, “It’s like there’s just nothing there.”

The Assistant Kitchen Manager, Roberta Canfield had aspirations to the Kitchen Manager’s post, naturally. She was a good cook and well organised. However, she also routinely bullied her junior staff into resignation so as to achieve her goal. Three people had succumbed to this treatment in the year prior to my arrival. One of her victims wound up in an alcohol-detoxification clinic after consuming three bottles of whisky in one day. He never returned. Although I was on leave at the time, when I returned neither the Director, Assistant Director, Michael Shadoan, Desung (Officer overseeing emotional health and well-being), Lilly Gleich nor the Personnel Manager, Marc Lanthier brought this to my attention as they should have. I had to ferret out the information, feeling somewhat responsible as the victim had finally turned to me as the last person on whom he thought he could rely for support. Sadly they all conspired to get rid of him when I was unable to help him, rather than deal with real issue: the well-known abuse by the Assistant Kitchen Manager. It turns out this situation was a microcosm of the way in which justice is often handled in the Sangha generally.

By her own admission, this Assistant Kitchen Manager recognised mental health issues in herself and, in her most vulnerable moment, asked me to arrange counselling. The Director failed to pursue this option even though I had arranged a suitable counsellor. At the start of my tenure he told me that his, “blind spot” was in firing people, but in reality he didn’t accept guidance, as with the Joint Venture and the Hemp House. He saw his Director’s role as governed only by the Sakyong despite Jane Arthur then holding the post of Land Center Director. He rarely sought advice in his role, and I never once heard him refer to the Land Center Director. His interactions with Dorje Denma Ling’s Advisory Council amounted to three meetings during my nine month tenure. More importantly, while the Shambhala Administration was entirely aware of his management failings via various offices and roles, it entirely failed to intervene, something of which he was clearly curious as evidenced by his discussion with Steve Ellenburg as above.

On July 11th, 2014, Dorje Denma Ling’s routine water test by the Nova Scotia Health Department returned a result showing positive for coliforms. This rendered Dorje Denma Ling’s drinking water officially unsafe for human consumption at that point. Protocol indicated that a second water test should be performed within twenty-four hours. This was not undertaken even though the Kitchen Manager, Renate Hemphill and the Assistant Kitchen Manager discussed it and agreed to do it. Apparently they were “too busy” providing for the guests at the facility.

When it discovered the error five weeks later, the Health Department issued a Boil Water Advisory. Notices were posted at every tap per Canadian law and more water testing was undertaken. Everyone, guests and staff alike, naturally became very concerned. The Kitchen Manager resigned, citing her negligence in conducting the July water test and her difficulties in dealing her Assistant Kitchen Manager.

The Assistant Kitchen Manager became the Kitchen Manager by default. She removed all of the Boil Water Advisory Notices saying there were, “…too many questions”. She began declaring that I had no role in overseeing the situation, even though I was routinely introduced to every guest at the beginning of every program as “our Health and Safety Officer”, and my posted job description clearly covered that role. At a Staff meeting in early September, the Director followed my recommendation and advised her that she was jeopardising his personal liability in removing the notices and that they should remain in place. he did not mention the possible health risk which at that point was still unknown.

She continued to remove the notices, which I was replacing with the sanction of the Director’s directive above. She said that the Health Department had made a “typo” on the water test and the water was potable and became very upset when I proved her to be lying. Officially, the water remained, “… non potable”, yet since achieving that distinction the Kitchen Manager had wilfully overseen its general consumption at the facility, unbeknownst to anybody else except the former Kitchen Manager. In that state, the water was consumed by over 600 guests including the Sakyong’s pregnant wife, senior students, children and Staff. One day I found one crumpled notice taped to the underside of the guest toilet seat. I had to assume that the hand of the Kitchen Manager was at play here, with sick humour.


It seems that it was a lack of requisite empathy for her victims in the Administration generally which permitted her continued employment in both the Sakyong’s private kitchen and at Dorje Denma Ling for seven months after the Boil Water Advisory.

So, while the war of notices continued with virtually no assistance from either the Director (beyond his directive) or the Assistant Director, I contacted the Nova Scotia Health Department’s Testing Facility to ascertain any anomalies in the process concerning the July water test. I was assured that there had been no, “…typo”, as claimed, that Dorje Denma Ling’s water was indeed non potable and that I was obliged to ensure that the formal Notices remain in place per Canadian Federal Law, until the Water Boil Advisory was officially declared ended by the Department. The Health Inspector firmly reminded me that we were, as ever, subject to her unannounced compliance visits.

When I informed the Director of same he made no response. In fact, when the Finance Manager, as an old friend of the Kitchen Manager, insulted me in front of him for pursuing his directive to maintain the notices without any evidence, the Director simply looked down his nose at me, silent, as if I were the offending party. A day later I was physically assaulted by the now emboldened Kitchen Manager in front of a witness when she threw me off the kitchen loading dock as I was investigating the situation, attempting to enter the kitchen to read the official water analysis document posted on the fridge. I was fortunately not injured though I fell the two feet to the ground. She unexpectedly rammed her shoulder into my sternum when I attempted to pass her in the narrow space which she had left for me between her body and the dock’s edge.

We then finally saw some action from the internal Administration. I was immediately ordered by the Assistant Director to stop posting the Health Department’s Notices despite the fact that we were obliged by law to keep them in place and the water testing was incomplete. I advised that protocols should be altered to allow the Rusung, instead of the Assistant Manager, to oversee water safety protocols at the facility. His response was typical of Shambhala Administrators—nothing to see, nothing to change, move along. In declining to effect my proposal he dismissed me with a snicker, saying, “I’m not sure how Roberta would feel about that”. He clearly had no regard for the fact that we had just served officially unpotable water to over 600 people. He apparently felt that not calling out the Kitchen Manager’s wrongdoing took precedence over repairing the ineffective administration of the facility’s water safety protocols and the disregard for the liabilities of the facility, the Director and himself.


The Director then published a still publicly available comment on a private website which monitors water safety in Canada independently of the government. The item highlights the Water Boil Advisory as above. The Director incorrectly states that the water at Dorje Denma Ling has was, “… never unsafe”, regardless of his witnessed directive to Staff regarding the Water Boil Advisory Notices and his admonishing the Kitchen Manager for jeopardising his liability in removing them. He goes on to promote Shambhala’s mission to create enlightened society, regardless of its irrelevance in that context. I am left feeling that there is a tendency for those in power in Shambhala to live in their own bubbles of soporific belief that they are chosen warriors who will save the world. The fact is they merely represent another religious institution, as prone to corruption and deception as any other.

While I received absolutely no effective front line support from Kasung Command to this point, I then began to experience a concerted campaign of bullying, harassment and physical assault directed by the Kitchen Manager and involving two other staff, both self-important “old dog” students of Trungpa, the organisation’s founder, namely Jeremy Blackburn and Sandra Selva. By these three people, in an incident which can be seen as ‘mob bullying’, I was subjected to verbal abuse almost hourly for two months, as well as four other physical assaults after the kitchen dock incident, two of those with witnesses.

I asked the Director to suspend the Kitchen Manager pending counselling. He agreed to do this, but then declined. So, with his inaction, yet again, the stage was set to give free rein to the Kitchen Manager’s vindictive machinations. My personal effects began to be routinely sabotaged and a mixture of corn chips, grass and gravel were placed in my vehicle’s fuel tank. The Director suspected the Kitchen Manager in the vehicle sabotage while I told him that it was more likely the work of his ex-army chauffeur friend who he had recently employed in the Facilities Maintenance Department, Jeremy Blackburn. The Kitchen Manager was asked to agree to relocate her employment in mid-September 2014, following another of her abusive verbal outbursts, this time against a guest and involving slander against myself. She then turned her attention on me, saying openly that, “…because I’ve lost my job, he should lose his”.

The Director failed to intervene in this abuse for six weeks and met each of my appeals with the sadly familiar institutionalised tendency to bury reports of abuse by frequently telling me so often that it began to sound like a mantra: “She’s digging her own grave.” His puppy dog eyes failed to convince me that he was acting responsibly. In particular, the physical assault and the vehicle sabotage went entirely uninvestigated by him, and the Kitchen Manager accordingly and predictably felt emboldened by his inaction. Slander against me prevailed like wildfire. I became sleep deprived due to the aggressive, nightly and entirely unnecessary operation of dehumidifiers next to my room, occasional random kicking of my door as the Kitchen Manager entered her room opposite my own, late at night and early in the mornings. The abuse tactics were creative, unpatterned and entirely unpredictable.

Support from Kasung Command was entirely absent, their sole advice coming from Ian McClaughlin in late September and being to, “…ignore her”. No mention was made of my pleas for their support with regard to the unfolding phenomena of mob bullying. I was being gaslighted by my supervisors as ignoring my abusers was naturally impossible in an environment where twelve of us lived in close quarters while attempting to facilitate hundreds of guests in a calm, friendly environment. Even when a participant brought me to the Director for support in her complaint against the Kitchen Manager, he met the effort with derision. The participant had asked what was for dinner and received the response, “Revenge will be served”. The Director’s response was to chuckle and say, “Ooooh! That sounds tasty. I’d like to see the recipe for that!” The participant and I left his office in disgust at his heartlessness.

By mid-October, after virtually daily appeals for help, I managed to convince the Shambhala Administration to establish in-house, professional mediation using a community member. She was naturally biased as she depended on Dorje Denma Ling for the pursuit of her decades-old spiritual path within the community, being resident in nearby Halifax. The prospect of the Director losing his post for mismanagement of the facility was one she clearly intended to diminish as finding people to fill it is historically very difficult. It is poorly paid ($21,000/year) and a 24/7, often very stressful, job.

That mediation failed almost before it had begun as the Kitchen Manager merely used it to abuse me further by spreading slander about what we discussed in it among the Staff and guests despite our pledge to confidentiality while it was ongoing. Secondly, as the victim of mob bullying I was now being subjected to humiliation among the Staff I was technically managing, by being the alleged perpetrator of abuse in a mediation process which the Kitchen Manager ensured was gossiped about across the Nova Scotia Sangha.

She then assaulted me for the fourth time, during a programme hosting 50 participants and outside the shrine room where the programme was occurring during a break when all the participants were mingling around. In front of multiple witnesses, she body checked me as I attempted to get away from her telling her very clearly to leave me alone. Unfortunately the tension by this point had become so intense that I shouted this request repeatedly as nobody, again, felt willing to confront the Kitchen Manager during her assault. Although the Assistant Director finally and reluctantly physically removed her from my person, he then immediately denied witnessing the assault leaving the Kitchen Manager idly threatening to call the Police and have me charged with assault.
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