Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexually as

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Senior officials within Shambhala made several other previously unpublished disclosures during the hour-and-a-half-long call, including: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

Charles Carreon
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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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Part 2 of 2

Leaving Dorje Denma Ling

Kasung Command (in the US) then panicked. They appointed a local mentor, something they should have done weeks prior following my voluminous appeals to them. A few days later they advised that my post had, “…been dissolved”, and I was ordered to take a one month leave of absence immediately, with no pay thereafter, my one year contract with four months left to run notwithstanding. There was a complete lack of basic employment regulation due process as no hearing was held to hear my view and n disciplinary action was ever taken against me, prior to my illegal dismissal.

Wanting to continue with my studies in Shambhala, having committed so much to it and hoping that this situation was an anomaly, on October 24th, 2014 I gladly began driving to Shambhala’s Vermont residential facility, Karme Choling, for a month’s much-needed rest.

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.

Sifton finished by ordering me to not tell the Director of DDL how he had betrayed me. “We will do that,” he said. I had my doubts. Later, in early 2015, he emailed me to advise that I remove my eleven-ton container out of jeopardy at DDL as soon as possible. He encouraged me to get counselling, although I still can’t imagine where one goes to get counselling on a Vajra Master breaking his Samaya with his students by allowing his Administrators to so ineptly mismanage crime in the Sangha for decades. Clearly these administrators were in panicked damage control, just as they are again now.

The current Administration and Board of Directors is largely staffed by all the same people as during the events described above. The current sexual abuse scandal involves credible allegations pointing to a pattern in the Sakyong of forcing his students to have sex with him, and the cover up of those crimes by his Board of Directors.

The response to my situation by Jesse Grimes as the head of Kasung Command is especially telling. He is the highest authority in Shambhala’s so-called justice system. According to Sifton, his initial response in October 2014 was, “Fuckerty, fucking fuckers!” Yet instead of immediately reporting the events to the Police, per protocol and out of concern for the safety of the people at and near Dorje Denma Ling, even seeing that I was in complete shock he simply did nothing. After I wrote voluminous reports he finally reworded the internal protocols on crime in the summer of 2015, such that anyone witnessing crime is advised to report it to the Police. The protocol effectively remained unchanged, as did the respect for it among those accountable for overseeing it.

Writing about his discussions with Grimes on the subject to me, he said, “Our policy is to leave crime to the professionals.” Yet they both failed to help those professionals when the Police investigation which I launched became sabotaged at Dorje Denma Ling by its Assistant Director, in the shamelessly convenient absence of the Director when the Officers arrived to question him.

I reported these events to the Police in Nova Scotia in 2015, from the sanity of my new home in the UK. The junior Constable assigned to the case was enamoured by the lies of the organisation and failed to take me seriously. The Assistant Director who had witnessed one of my assaults denied doing so and persuaded him that Dorje Denma Ling had done all it could by providing mediation between myself and the Kitchen Manager, deflecting all attention from Blackburn as my main suspect. No discussion was even had of the fact that the mediation immediately preceded an inarguably life-endangering sabotage on my vehicle in a series of crimes of harassment against me, and the Director’s firing for not caring for staff, oh, and his absence from the appointment with the Constable.

While I was attending a program Emily Bower led at Karme Chöling during my time there, she also advised me to contact the Police. However I was too traumatized to administer such a complaint at the time as I prepared to flee Nova Scotia for Europe. However we did meet again later within the Care and Conduct Panel Complaint which I filed in 2015. By contrast, on that occasion, no such advice was then offered and I had the impression that their purpose was to gather whatever evidence of wrongdoing there may be in the various Complaints in order to protect the organisation’s legal position, and by inference, the publicising of wrongdoing and guilt of perpetrators.

In fact, while inviting me initially to explain my complaint the Chair, Dan Peterson, assured me all information would be held in the strictest confidence and not shared with anybody without my express consent. I trusted them with my trauma, naively it turns out.

Six weeks later Peterson wrote to say that he had shared my information with the various people named in the case without my consent. He explained that the policy on information disclosure had changed and that the new policy applied retroactively, without notice to myself. Mary Whetsell, who was not a member of the Panel then suddenly appeared in my inbox discussing my Complaint. She apologised for the fact that I had not been informed of the new policies, although it was unclear that she was authorised to speak on behalf of the Panel. The email was copied to the Panel’s members. Emily Bower’s response was a curt, “Thank you, Mary. Emily” rejecting both my objection to the Panel’s breach of my confidentiality and her own responsibility in it. So if anybody trusts the current administration to safely address their trauma, I am confident it is completely unfounded.

The Director of Dorje Denma Ling failed to substantially communicate with me on any of these issues, in particular the second life-threatening sabotage on my vehicle in October 2014. In fact, he has not, to date mentioned the second sabotage to me at all or the very real possibility that it may have occurred because he did nothing about the first one.

While my efforts to engage every available internal conflict-resolution process had failed, including an appeal to the President’s Office and the 14 most senior Administrators in December 2014, I began to work on the assumption that Shambhala was actively covering up the criminal activities against me. For instance, while it is a crime in Canada to harass employees to force the termination of their employment, it is also a crime to not report a crime to the Police. Admittedly I should have reported to the police far sooner than I eventually did. I fell into the majority of victims’ behaviour in not doing so for fear of retribution and shaming, as well as being at the effect of trauma and confusion related to the events and my samaya with Guru, and all amidst an emergency continental relocation in midlife due to safety concerns.

Leaving Nova Scotia

In December 2014, I therefore fled Nova Scotia for my life, even though I had by then purchased property near Dorje Denma Ling with the intention of establishing my furniture-making business independently of Dorje Denma Ling. Clearly the risks of sabotage were too great in such a tiny community as Tatamagouche, where Dorje Denma Ling is situated. I was unaware of Blackburn’s being banned at the time and had I known this I might well have stayed. But that is hypothetical.

I then arranged for the removal of my container from Dorje Denma Ling, at my own expense thus far. In a classic doublespeak, despite voluminous reports on the situation from myself, the Care and Conduct Panel’s final letter to me cited my lack of reports as reason for not compensating me further for having again to move my container on account of their false pretences and for their clear breach of my contract. Jesse Grimes wrote that he had investigated my allegations against himself and found himself to be innocent of everything. Sure.

That said, my voluminous reports persuaded them to fire the Kitchen Manager in April 2015 and the Director in September 2015. Their findings stated that he would be indefinitely barred from serving as an Officer of Shambhala and fired from his Directorship at Dorje Denma Ling, “…for failing to resolve conflict between Staff”. That said, David Brown, who considered my Appeal with Jesse Grimes then wrote Krogoll up in the Shambhala Times in glowing terms and announced his departure from his post as a resignation. Blackburn was never formally interviewed on his role in these events, so far as I can tell although every other staff member was given a cursory interview and my timely complaints about his behaviour are well documented. He had literally manhandled me out of a meeting in August 2014, which I had called with a group of people who all witnessed his behaviour. He then falsely accused me of the same behaviour via emails to various people with whom I was working, including the Director. “Manhandling” is common, he claimed and should not be tolerated etc. Nobody said anything and my reputation was unfairly tarnished with the Director’s passive approval.

One can assume that Blackburn was protected by Krogoll who, along with Anna Weinstein, his successor in the Kasung’s role of Sergeant Major, is aware of Blackburn’s witnessed physical assault on me. Despite more eloquent assurances left and right, nothing was done to curb Blackburn’s violence and, not surprisingly, it increased, to attempted murder and enabled by the unwillingness in the Administration to follow its protocols in dealing with crime and old dogs bullying or gaslighting new ones for the sake of their position.

It is this sort of absence of any real empathy in the former Director which inspired Sifton to write to me in 2015 and declare him “psychoemotionally deaf”. Sifton, to his credit, wrote to me saying that he had “not jokingly” proposed shutting down Dorje Denma Ling in a meeting of the Council of the Makkyi Rabjam, the governing body of the Kasung. This fell on deaf ears, despite a pair of them belonging to one who reeled when I told him about Balckburn’s clownish, heartless, reckless antics being dismissed by Krogoll as, “Oh Jeremy’s got a different sense of humour”.

During my decompression at Karme Chöling, I discussed my experience with many. I was invariably met with utter disbelief that their friend and huggable clownish mascot, Lennart Krogoll was capable of such callous heartlessness. Sifton’s parting advice in a 2015 email was about the need to read and study (the dead) Trungpa’s teachings, regardless of the fact that my living, supposedly caring guru was alive. I should get counselling on how my guru won’t talk to me about almost being murdered while following his instruction and to not, “…publish in the Weekly World”. But now it has come to that, because charlatans must be exposed for the benefit of creating enlightened society.

Before assuming a post within the organisation, Officers are now required to sign, on seven individual pages instead of one, undertakings to report abuse appropriately and to the police if required by law. Like the current overt effort to train people in trauma management, if there’s no heart, no real empathy, policy will not be enacted. If you declare that you need training to file a Police report on ‘systemic, abhorrent abuse’, as the Kalapa Council has essentially claimed, while placing yourself on a pedestal of ethical superiority, enabling crime and yet declaring that, “…the future of the world is in our hands…”, (the Sakyong) you are only surprised by the calls of “Charlatan!” if you’ve drunk too much koolaid, whisky or both.

I became overwhelmed by the prospect of documenting events and providing evidence to the police in Canada while establishing a new life in a new country. However, I was told by Torgny Vigerstad, the person who was eventually forced by my reports to conduct an internal investigation among staff at Dorje Denma Ling that, while he failed to interview my main suspect in my attempted murder because, “I am not the Police,” I should be satisfied with the fact that I had “unseated Dorje Denma Ling’s Director”. Somehow he concluded that no Staff were involved in wrongdoing, so his efforts were clearly a very mature whitewash. I am left feeling that these people have far too grand an idea of who they are. Krogoll is now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, promoting himself as an advisor to entrepreneurs through an organisation called Futurpreneur. He offers courses in “Conflict Deescalation” with the sanction of the Sakyong, most recently sharing a stage with him at a major multi-organisation conference in Vienna called “Peace Now!”

As I stated earlier, the former President of Shambhala advised that I refer to the second sabotage incident as attempted murder. However, he did so one day after resigning from the post in February 2015, having ignored my October 2014 appeal to him for his intervention just one month prior to that sabotage. Having indicated “systemic” wrongdoing, I wondered whether having resigned, he felt freer to speak his heart, and whether when he initially received my appeal for help he was overwhelmed by other abuse which catalysed his resignation from the Presidency.

Indeed, in April 2015 I had written to the Sakyong directly and experienced this same lack of interest. As I explained to him, my quandary was that in following his instructions as my guru to practice with Shambhala, my life was threatened by the criminal activity which I had experienced within the organisation. He referred me to the high faluting Shambhala International Care and Conduct Panel hoo-ha, completely disregarding my alarm at having my four emails to that Panel’s Chair go unanswered for a month because the Chair wasn’t monitoring the Panel’s official email address. I ultimately found the Chair’s wife’s email address and used that with success. I received a reprimand for using a channel which wasn’t confidential, ironically and absolutely no sense of care in my evident trauma! So yes, in my view, the Sakyong ignored my attempted murder because I told his Justice System was shot and he sent me right back into it, only to be thrown under the bus. Is he a charlatan guru? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind.

The Nova Scotia Labour Standards Board Complaint against Dorje Denma Ling

During my investigations I uncovered another incident which implicates the Sakyong in other criminal activity. In 2014, the Dorje Denma Ling Development Manager, Dominic Watson-Wall filed a case with the Nova Scotia Labour Standards Board. At issue was the Director’s inability to responsibly manage the finances of and Provincial Labour Standards applicable to Dorje Denma Ling at the time. Krogoll’s mismanagement failed to provide the Province’s minimum wage for employees despite many advisory reports from Watson-Wall. After resigning, Watson-Wall filed a Complaint asking the Province to oblige Dorje Denma Ling to meet its legal obligation to pay minimum wage to its employees.

As the Complaint neared its conclusion in 2016, it was debated by the Kalapa Council Shambhala’s main administrative body, the Kalapa Council, which is chaired by Joshua Silberstein, the Sakyong’s Chief of Staff. Shortly afterwards, Watson-Wall tells me that he was approached by “a member of the Kalapa Council, cheque in hand” in an effort to persuade him to drop the Complaint, and allow the facility to limp along with virtually unpaid Staff and the necessarily stressed environment entailed in such a situation.

He rejected the bribe. The Nova Scotia Labour Standards Board issued its decision shortly thereafter, obliging Dorje Denma Ling to pay minimum wage to all staff, retroactively to January 2016 at a cost of some $35,000. This immediately rendered Dorje Denma Ling incapable of opening for more than 5 months each year instead of the 12 months which it had sustained for years prior to the decision. So, clearly Krogoll grossly underestimated the disastrous potential of ignoring Watson-Wall, as did Selva as his Finance Manager.

My view of Shambhala is one of an organisation with very good intentions which does an excellent job of promoting itself as benevolent, with the taglines, “Creating Enlightened Society” and “Making Enlightened Society a Joke, sorry, Possible”. While Shambhala is content to advise that crime be reported to the police, it routinely avoids doing so for fear of damaging its image and the unquestionable benefit which it paradoxically has in improving people’s self-confidence. In my own case, through studying Buddhism and practising with Shambhala I have been able to reconcile significant family and personal issues and improve my life by achieving some significant inner peace, much like most Shambhalians.

However, it is delusional to suggest that I should continue practising with an organisation which is blind to my attempted murder and which tries, and fails, to flip my sense of betrayal by gaslighting me. To propose, as they did, that I report their crimes to the Police, including the Sakyong and his Shambhala Administrators who then covered them up, and expect their enlightened kindness while continuing to practice in the Sangha is fundamentally naive. They have bitten off more than they can chew in life.

The current clarion call for the Sangha to employ “outside help” is often being met with ridicule. The suspicion is that the Administrators do not have the will to address reconciliation of internal abuse which derives from their blind subscription to the mantra, “We hold the future of the world in our hands.” This arrogance is not only serving denial within the sangha, but it also prevents the very acknowledgement of wrong action which Buddhism seeks to nurture.

It is further delusional to suggest that I should “practise the teachings and get counselling”, as nobody except my guru is fully qualified to counsel me on my samaya with him as that is a contract I made with him alone. The guru has become blameless and the victim, responsible in a situation where the guru’s responsibility to provide a safe space (free from attempted murder) is not and cannot be provided, not because it’s impossible but because the vajrayana view of everything is pure applies to crime, allowing to be experienced even though it is preventable.

I can only look to the example of the Buddha who ultimately rejected all of his gurus’ practices and encourage others to step onto this path with eyes wide open, trusting only oneself. I suppose it’s a good lesson really, although I do feel as though I have been “raped” by Shambhala, and numerously, for the sake of senior student’s egos.

Shambhala subtly promotes a view that we are in essence good and beyond reproach, capable of anything, of flying to the moon. However, in naively inflating a person’s potential, it routinely appoints people to roles for which they are both underqualified and under-supported. The so called “Vision of Enlightened Society” becomes such an intoxicating elixir that when mistakes or crimes occur, they are reasoned away as being the result of the excusable illusion of human existence. By this perversion of the dharma, the pain caused to others becomes acceptable collateral damage along the Sacred Path, because, “Everything is Emptiness,” or, “It’s all an Illusion”. That is called dharmasplaining, and it’s extremely dangerous.

In completing his review of my experiences at Dorje Denma Ling, Sifton told me repeatedly that I was experiencing a, “…hot ngöndro”, referring to a spiritual practice, and that he was, “…jealous”, of my experience. I took this to mean that I should accept my pain as a benefit of my practice. All I could think was, “Must someone die before these self-involved, deluded charlatans sit up?” I am reminded by a supporter of this blog that somebody already did die: a woman who slept with a man callously infected with AIDS by the Sakyong’s predecessor, the Regent. The latter took vajrayana buddhist pure perception/groundlessness/emptiness to a tragic result by believing that he was protected from infecting his sex partners. Have we learned nothing about ethics as a Sangha since the late 1980’s?

Sifton made entirely ignored my suggestion that we discuss how Shambhala deals (i.e., covers up) crime in the Sangha, presumably for the same reason of a systemic, naive allegiance to absolutist, idealist philosophy. That discussion is now coming through the back door because the Care and Conduct Panel, as Shambhala’s Justice System, are becoming understood as the fox guarding the chicken coop. A huge sigh of relief was collectively breathed when the Sakyong married because it meant less managing of his alcohol fuelled sex parties and the allegations of sexual misconduct which slowly filtered down to the Panel despite best efforts by the Kalapa Council to keep his drama in the inner, inner, circle. It’s worth remembering that the Sakyong reluctantly took the job after being wrenched away from his mother in India to Samye Ling in Scotland, held captive there for a few years by Akong Rinpoche who placed him in a group home where he was burned with cigarettes amongst other physical abuses and finally released to his father and his new teenage bride to be raised in Boulder as the son of an infamous alcoholic wise man with a penchant for cocaine and wives. Now in his mid fifties, having inherited a Sangha full of his father’s students who predictably disagree with the way he runs it or leave it, mocking him or respectfully (in rare cases) I have no doubt that the poor fellow needs therapy. Surely forcing a student to have sex with you during your first child’s birthday party is indication enough? Apparently this is not so for the fawning, saccharinistas who surround him, worshiping his every move hereby ensuring their position on the Ivory Tower’s ladder is securely pampered also.

The damage of such clergy misconduct and its enabling is both to the noble mission of the organisation and to the students caught in the institutionally sanctioned crossfire of the Administrative lack of empathy which is applied to any complaint of misconduct. While considering a life at Dorje Denma Ling and in Nova Scotia generally, I met many Shambhalians who told me that its four Residential Land Centres were intense places at which to live and work, yet ultimately worth every challenge. Should I have expected those challenges to include attempted murder and the systemic cover up of criminal activity at both these ‘lay monasteries’ and across the organisation as a whole? It’s not what I taught my meditation students when we read from the Sakyong’s books in the group I started in my own home two years prior to moving to Dorje Denma Ling, because his books tell a very different story. They also don’t describe how, between writing chapters he drunkenly forced his students to sexually pleasure him, knowing which the reader leaves with a rather different interpretation than not knowing.

Conclusion

In my view, the Shambhala Administrators collectively disregard the consequences of enabling criminal activity within the Sangha, in the vain hope that a falsely benign public image can be maintained. This is based on the application the vajrayana pure perception philosophy, recently controversially expounded by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. That view holds that crime is acceptable if it is seen in terms everything in the world being sacred.

A former personal attendant of the Sakyong who told me that “it’s only a matter of time before Shambhala is taken down by a lawsuit”, evidently speaks the truth. Shambhala is now experiencing the same fire into which Boston’s Catholic Church was thrown under the leadership of Cardinal Bernard Law. The bold efforts to address sexual abuse and abuse of power within the Sangha by Andrea Winn and Project Sunshine is drawing much support from the grass roots of the Sangha. This is in stark contrast to the abuse directed at the Project by Shambhala’s Administrators, and, it must be understood, by extension the Sakyong. As the Report of Phase two of the Project was recently about to be published, the Kalapa Council threatened to sue the independent investigator who had written it, should she publish the allegations against the Sakyong and his Administrators contained in it. The phrase used was, “…all available action”, a phrase which the Council unsuccessfully tried to convince readers, excluded litigation. The Sangha is now reeling in confusion as a result of the Sakyong’s various wrongdoings.

In Canada, it has taken decades to acknowledge the need for reconciliation of the abuse suffered by its aboriginal peoples at the hands of those intoxicated by power. Thankfully this process is now well under way – in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand likewise; in the United States, not so much; in Kenya it has begun; across the world we are seeing a rising confidence in truth telling about the very human trait of abuse of power. The courage of victims speaking their truths with the fearlessness about which, ironically the Shambhala Teachings talk, is giving pause to leaders everywhere who may be tempted to use their positions to either directly commit crime themselves or enable it by covering up criminal activity by others.

Shambhala’s relevance will be immeasurably enhanced should it apply its teachings to creating a responsible model for dealing with crime in a religious organisation. As the Sakyong proclaims, “The future of the world is in our hands”, it seems that he is up for the challenge of processes like restorative justice with his victims. The fear and arrogance which declines independent appraisal of its Administrators’ actions presumes that Shambhala is above the temporal laws which guide the societies in which its members reside. Regardless of how much it may feel like a chosen, divinely empowered army of noble, nonviolent, warrior lay monks, crime within its ranks will ultimately be subject to the Courts wherein its soporific niceties will be rendered void and only its pleas as to restorative justice models will save the organisation from an implosion of spiritual gluttony.

The institutionalised denial which, now Buddhist Project Sunshine is facing points to the Shambhala Administrators’ fear of independent appraisal. Nobody yet says this better than Lady Diana Mukpo, the wife of one of its most senior Administrators, the now disgraced Mitchell Levy and former wife of the organisation’s founder. Mr. Levy recently recused himself from internal policymaking on sexual abuse due to decades of sexual abuse allegations against him.

Lady Mukpo’s recent letter is now ‘featured’ on the Shambhala Times website. Her reaction echoes that of Cardinal Law in response to the allegations of his covering up sexual abuse: implausible deniability for the organisation’s systemic abuse.
This clip from the 2015 movie Spotlight is a timely example of how religious institutions tend to lean on whistleblowers and maintain the status quo denials of corrupted ethics so obvious to impartial observers. The award-winning movie addresses the Boston Globe newspaper’s success in exposing the institutionally sanctioned sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in recent decades.

For Lady Mukpo to call now for a “transparent, measured, and responsible accounting of the facts”, to heal the pains which her former husband and his son’s Regent caused decades ago points to the organisation’s inability to reconcile decades of past harms. Compounding this inept response, she characterises the Project’s allegations as gossip, mob justice and an attack on her family. This is in contrast to two of Mr. Levy’s colleagues on the organisation’s governing council who are on record directly praising the value of the Project to Ms. Winn.

Such a self-serving defense of her family heritage and honour, and an attack on the well-intentioned effort towards reconciliation would be unnecessary had the Administrators themselves not failed to make that effort. In my view, her letter is a Kalapa Council sanctioned broadside across the bow of Project Sunshine and the victims which are given refuge by this vessel. It amounts to blatant victim shaming, is fundamentally contrary to the Shambhala Teachings and ironically undermines the Shambhala Administration. It puts the lie to the Council’s simultaneous February 12th letter where they ask for forgiveness for poorly administering the systemic, criminal abuse in the Sangha on which this Project sheds such a clear light.

The only risk which I can see with Project Sunshine is that it is not totally independent of the Sangha and may become subject to the perversions of its Administration. Pursuant to Lady Mukpo’s ideals, I have indeed attempted a responsible accounting of the facts, both by the Sakyong and within the Shambhala Administration. They have completely failed me, my perpetrators and their future victims, if any.

The Sakyong’s Executive Secretary, David Brown and the head of the Kasung, Jesse Grimes wrote to me jointly in their closing my Complaint to the Care and Conduct Panel, which the Sakyong personally advised I pursue. They concluded that no compensation was due to me for breach of contract or for being forced to relocate from Nova Scotia on account of my attempted murder, because I had made insufficient effort to notify the Administration of my experiences. They ignored the fact that I had engaged every available internal conflict-resolution process, written voluminous reports, immediately notified the Director of Dorje Denma Ling of the life-endangering sabotage to my vehicle and personally approached Jane Arthur as the Director of Shambhala Residential Retreat Centres three weeks after the event. She declined to speak with me in person at that point, or at any other opportunity over the next two weeks of my time at Karme Choling, near which facility she is resident and was present.

It was in this same letter, written on an elaborate Shambhala letterhead that Jesse Grimes reported his findings on my allegations that he was remiss in not reporting these crimes to the Police. It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone, and especially Lady Mukpo, that her family is receiving a little dissent just now because such is the position of royalty. The only surprise for me, as with the former Director of Dorje Denma Ling, is that it has not happened sooner.

I am satisfied now to know that I have done a civic duty in telling my story and to let people believe (and respond) as they will.

To those who have perpetrated crimes against myself: I have the protection of my local police force. Any attempts to further harm me online or elsewhere will be noted by them as possible evidence of guilt in crimes committed against myself and others and your ongoing, confused aggression. In the latter, I sincerely wish you well.

I also wish the reader all success in your pursuit of enlightenment.
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Re: Former teacher at Boulder's Shambhala accused of sexuall

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:16 am

Tantric Trolling, Tantric Fixing: Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse’s Posts on Clerical Sexual Abuse
by Matthew Remski
July 18, 2018

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Just over a year ago, eight long-term students of Sogyal Lakar (known as Sogyal Rinpoche) sent him a letter that is still shaking the foundations of his “Rigpa International” corporation. The letter from “The Eight” accused him of decades of physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse of students, a “lavish, gluttonous, and sybaritic lifestyle”, and degrading the image and meaning of global Buddhism. The accusations have not been denied. Lakar has retreated from public life, and RI says that it’s investigating. Whether this will result in transparency and restorative justice remains to be seen.

Khyentse Norbu (Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse) comes from a decorated family of Tibetan Buddhist teachers, and is said to be a “Rinpoche” — a reincarnated “precious one”, born to carry perfect and rare teachings forward from a primordial source. Norbu is known for engaging his cosmopolitan global audience with pugnacious erudition, pot-stirring books, and a flair for documentary filmmaking, in which he was reportedly tutored by Bernardo Bertolucci, who he met on the set of “Little Buddha”.

Norbu shares a global stage with Lakar as a popular teacher of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana). Accordingly, his students asked him to comment on the accusations against Lakar. A month after the letter from “The Eight”, he obliged by posting a ten thousand-word essay that was shared over a thousand times on Facebook, and lauded by his students around the world as a nuanced defence of Vajrayana’s abiding magic and the unorthodox but salvific bonds it promotes between teachers and students.

"Defence” is perhaps not the right word, however. The essay spends none of its time on the accusations. Rather, it sermonizes on the glory of the Vajrayana process, and laments the poor education of those who claim to be hurt by it. The Eight, Norbu argues, must have known what they were in for as Vajrayana students. They should have had “superior faculties” that would have allowed them to transform the perception of Lakar’s abuse into a belief in his spiritual care. These faculties should have been further cemented by the students’ “samaya”, or psychospiritual commitment to Lakar. The essay reminds readers that for Lakar’s students to break samaya by not framing all of his actions as beneficial condemns them to aeons of literal hell.

In the Vajrayana world, worldly laws don’t apply. Lakar is not committing crimes in that world, according to the essay’s reasoning, but rather relieving his students of the social conditioning that deludes them into thinking that mundane concepts like “crime” ultimately exist. The essay also deploys a quasi-subaltern discourse to elevate this goal above any consideration of institutional abuse. The non-Tibetan consumers of Lakar’s content are hopelessly naive, the essay argues, and to investigate whether concepts like “samaya” contribute to grooming conditions for abuse is the folly of “a few liberal, puritanical, Abrahamic, or individualistic activists.”

Vajrayana devotees, the essay argues, enter into a dangerous contract.
The report from The Eight, which the essay neither quotes nor links to in the Facebook post, confirms the danger. Speaking of Lakar, The Eight write:

“You have punched and kicked us, pulled hair, torn ears, as well as hit us and others with various objects such as your back-scratcher, wooden hangers, phones, cups, and any other objects that happened to be close at hand. We trusted for many years that this physical and emotional treatment of students –- what you assert to be your “skillful means” of “wrathful compassion” in the tradition of “crazy wisdom” –- was done with our best interest at heart in order to free us from our “habitual patterns”.


But if Lakar is guilty of anything, the essay suggests, it is in not giving his students the adequate training in understanding that punches and kicks from a Vajra master can lead to spiritual freedom.

At the same time, the essay criticizes Lakar’s supposed lack of traditional training. But even this reasoning turns back on The Eight, who should have been able to assess Lakar’s training before committing to him.

The essay’s content, which blurs the lines between victim-blaming, spiritualized sado-masochism, and promises of liberation, will be familiar to anyone who has studied modern global Vajrayana groups with a critical eye. If there’s anything novel about it, it’s in Norbu’s ability to pad in, Jordan Peterson-style, culture-war rhetoric that conflates critics with snowflakes:

If you are uncomfortable with the non-dual groundlessness of Buddhism—you might just as well follow one of the Abrahamic religions. These are the religions that follow a clearly grounded dualistic path and say things like “don’t eat pork, do eat fish, and women must wear burqas.” If the label ‘religion’ is altogether too embarrassing for your elitist so-called progressive minds, you might try some kind of quasi-atheistic secularism, coated with moralistic ethics and bloated with dogmatic liberal self-righteousness. Or you could blindly allow yourself to be swallowed up by existentialist angst, then get annoyed with those who get blissed out on hope.


Judging by the comments, many supporters appreciated the tough love.

But in October, Norbu escalated the anti-political-correctness rhetoric to outright mockery, dressed up in satire. In a post he has since tried to delete, he presented a sixteen-page spoof contract produced by “Bender and Boner Lawyers” designed to ensure regular-guy Rinpoches like himself “who desire to save all sentient beings yet also wish to have fulfilling sex lives”. In its joke-world, the contract would ensure that Rinpoches have the legal consent of students they want to have sex with. Justin Whittaker provides a good analysis here. (To see how the spoof taps into Jordan-Peterson-land, read what commenter “Daniel S. Thompson” has to say. According to him, criticism of Norbu’s satirical appeal to self-responsibility is coming from “Cultural Marxism”, which isn’t a thing.)

Lama Tsultrim Allione denounced the post.

Tsultrim Allione
about a year ago

I thought this might come in handy for Rinpoches like myself who are not omniscient, not omnipotent, and not well trained; who don’t give enough preparatory training on the prerequisites to their students; and who get carried away by their own self-agendas and, from time to time, by their hormones.

MAKE LOVE NOT HEADLINES! SCREW WITHOUT GETTING SCREWED!

Bender and Boner Law has over 70 combined years’ experience in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. We are sensitive to the special needs of Gurus and Rinpoches who desire to save all sentient beings yet also wish to have fulfilling sex lives.

Let one of our ironclad consent forms protect you from fears of future litigation. Our in-house psychologists are on call 24/7 to assess your potential partners for any unsuitable moral quirks and/or tendencies to play victim.

If you’ve already made a few mistakes, (and who hasn’t?), don’t worry! We can still save your reputation, your assets, and your ass. Free initial consultation. Call us before it’s too late! See our website at http://www.theyconsented.com


Disgusting and disrespectful unfortunately not surprising and definitely not funny. At all.


Not funny — but certainly sophisticated. In the style of Middle-Way philosopher-rebels who historically have delighted in mocking all moral and existential positions as absurd, Norbu is plausibly making fun of multiple sentiments at the same time. He’s spoofing both predatorial American litigiousness and the damage-control industry. He’s self-deprecating in his suggestion that because he lacks omniscience and is remains a red-blooded male, he needs a contract like this for self-protection. He’s questioning the sanity of potential students, and the perceived prudery of spiritual aspirants by listing, exhaustively, the particular and explicit sex acts that the hypothetical Rinpoche needs his students to consent to.

The primary target of the contract, however, is the “snowflake” attitude that is deemed so uptight, legalistic, and politically correct that all of the spontaneity of both sexual ecstasy — and, by implication, spiritual realization — would be outlawed. Consent, the joke suggests, is a buzz-kill.


Here’s where things get deadly serious, perhaps revealing the implications of “samaya” to such an extent that even Norbu had to walk it back. The hidden punchline of the contract is the assertion that there can be no informed consent within a Vajrayana pedagogy. And if that’s true, there can be no protection whatsoever for people like The Eight, despite the fact that Norbu says they should have investigated and analyzed Lakar beforehand.

The joke illuminates a double-bind: you have to know beforehand what you cannot know.

For emphasis:

The Vajrayana student cannot know or consent to what they are getting into. The mundane egoic person who would ask for a legalistic contract to consent to a transformative process is the very person who would be destroyed by that process. They engage samaya because the teacher knows what they cannot know, what cannot be explained before it is realized. It can only be realized through the death of the mundane personality. Samaya marks that death.


Last week, Norbu Facebooked this defence of global Vajrayana culture in general, and the version of it on offer through Shambhala International in particular.

Buddhism is no stranger to obstacles. Outer, inner and secret obstacles have plagued Buddhists since time immemorial. And among the many Buddhist traditions, paths and methods, the Mahayana and especially the Vajrayana have encountered particularly daunting challenges.

But for not even a moment have such obstacles disheartened the great bodhisattvas of the past. On the contrary, those very obstacles have fuelled the enthusiasm, determination and aspirations of so many great masters, practitioners, students and patrons of Buddhism in the past.

Even in our own time, we ourselves have witnessed great vidyadharas and tantric masters who have given literally everything to keep the lamp of dharma burning.

The sight of Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche still writing, teaching, editing, and instructing students by candlelight way past midnight even into his 80s remains etched in my memory. Or the sight of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, even with his severe asthma, still conferring initiations and teachings, searching for the right text, compiling and proofreading manuscripts. Or the sight of Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche never giving in to social expectations and political correctness, and relentlessly encouraging and leading students into many years of retreat in mountains and forests. All those images and many more are as clear in my mind today as when I witnessed them.

And how can we forget Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche venturing alone into places totally unknown to him and bringing himself down to the most ordinary human level to single-handedly create nuances, terms, language, atmosphere, discipline and stages of practice for new dharma students. To take just one example among thousands, coining the term “basic goodness” of human beings brilliantly spoke to the hearts and minds of people in the here and now without ever deviating from the most traditional Buddhist teachings.

Nothing Trungpa Rinpoche did was for entertainment or commercial purposes – giving in to popular demand by diluting and watering down the truth – but it was always to guide students on the authentic path to liberation.

Now is the time to remember these great masters and their unrelenting dedication to the dharma even after they had lost everything and become completely homeless! And now is the time to emulate their courage and fortitude, and to follow in their footsteps.

How can we even call ourselves dharma practitioners if we cannot handle temporary obstacles? Why even choose Buddhism with its daring methods to dismantle all our dualistic fabrications if all we are seeking is a safe life, an insured path, and material, worldly comforts? People say: “Come the hour, come the man.” Well, for every one of us, this is the hour, and every one of us is this woman or man.

There are so many ways we can encourage ourselves at this time. When I recently read Pema Chodron’s 2015 Tricycle interview*, I couldn’t help but get goosebumps and tears in my eyes that an heir of Tilopa, Marpa and Milarepa – Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche – has borne a grand-daughter called Pema Chodron. If Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s entire life in the west was just to give birth to one Pema Chodron alone, that should be cherished and cause for celebration. Personally, I wouldn’t even need all Trungpa Rinpoche’s brilliant books and teachings: – just having her alone as his legacy is good enough for me. Even in the Tibetan tradition, it is rare to find someone with the courage, insight, humility and bravery of a Pema Chodron.

Many paths are like package tours. The Vajrayana is an adventure, and those of us who have signed up for it have every reason to be cheerful, excited, and famished for this unbelievably rare opportunity to pump our adrenaline. And at the same time, we must do absolutely everything to protect this most precious inheritance.

https://redrockcrossing.wordpress.com/…/pema-chodron-on-th…/


The post doesn’t mention current circumstances: that Shambhala’s leader, Ösel Mukpo, has been accused of forced confinement and sexual assault. Further, that accusations against Mukpo come within the context of revelations about intergenerational sexual abuse at SI, following in the legacy of its founder, Chogyam Trungpa, who openly slept with students and had seven wives when he died of terminal alcoholism n 1987, and appointed a successor who had unprotected sex with male students while knowingly carrying HIV.

This new post ignores all non-idealizing context with a rear-guard elevation of Trungpa and language that positions the current criticism of institutional abuse as a cultural attack that has forgotten the Tibetan genocide. The description of Trungpa is black and white, which goes to show that the language of the dangerous trickster needs only be used when acknowledging “perceptions” of harm:

Nothing Trungpa Rinpoche did was for entertainment or commercial purposes – giving in to popular demand by diluting and watering down the truth – but it was always to guide students on the authentic path to liberation.


This hymn to Trungpa ends by citing the fruits of his labour: the wisdom of Pema Chödrön, a spiritual “grand-daughter” of lamas gone by. It cites and links to an interview Chödrön gave to Tricycle in 1993. I’ve commented on this interview as a rationalization of the disorganized attachment typical of high-demand groups in this post.

Unfortunately, Norbu falsely gives the date of the interview as 2015. While it is still true that Chödrön has not issued any statement on the Mukpo crisis nor updated the sentiments expressed in the interview, the wrong date makes it look like this is closer to her present view than it might be, and worse — that she may have conducted the interview as a recent, pre-emptive strike against the coming scandal. In praising Chödrön this way, this post might be doing her a disservice. Further idealization of her 1993 statement will make it more difficult for a possible update to be made or broadcast.

To summarize: the August letter, October “joke”, and the recent Facebook post all suggest that Vajrayana teachers are not “safe” in any mundane sense. They can’t offer safe spaces or consensual contracts. On the other hand, those who nonetheless crave the danger of Vajrayana teachers are the most earnest and passionate of students.

These arguments advocate for the value of disorganized attachment to a teacher as a means to spiritual liberation.

The student is asked to depend upon a person who will necessarily terrify them.
They are told they are immature if they unwilling to do it. They are told they are ignorant if they feel they were hurt by it. They are told it is their fault if they don’t perceive their experiences as “pure”. They are told, told, told, told, told.

The good news is that these statements aren’t at all deceptive. Norbu is telling the world exactly what’s going on.
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