Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail: Br

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

Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:41 am

Acknowledgement And Gratitude To The Abuse Survivors

A heart full of thanks goes out to the brave women and man survivors who contributed to this report, and a special thanks to "Ann". All of the survivors who have contributed to our three reports have created a space for truth telling and through your sharing you have allowed the Shambhala community to grasp the depth of the situation. This community transformation and healing literally would not be happening if you had not decided to be so brave and compassionate in sharing your stories. May you be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May new joy open within your hearts as you experience the freedom to create a life free from these heavy secrets.
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:41 am

Appendix 1: BPS 3-month organizational start up budget

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You can donate to Buddhist Project Sunshine at our on-going GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:43 am

Appendix 2: Memo of New Findings of Buddhist Project Sunshine's Preliminary Investigation Into the Clergy Sexual Misconduct of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche - Carol Merchasin, J.D

MEMORANDUM

TO: ANDREA WINN

FROM: CAROL MERCHASIN

SUBJECT: UPDATE ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OF THE SAKYONG

DATE: AUGUST 23, 2018

I begin this report by answering publicly two questions that have been raised within the community: one of which is my relationship to Buddhist Project Sunshine; the other is why I am issuing yet another investigative report. Other questions are in the form of an FAQ section at the end of this report.

My Relationship to Buddhist Project Sunshine

My investigative work and the reports I have issued are completely independent of BPS. I have interviewed the people coming forward, made decisions on credibility and patterns of behavior and written the investigative reports. They are then published by Andrea Winn, founder of BPS.

I can tell you that Andrea has had no input into the conclusions I come to or what I have written in my reports. In fact, Andrea has never even tried to interfere with my independent judgment. (She did once change my use of the words Project Sunshine to Buddhist Project Sunshine). In return, I do not interfere with Andrea’s independent judgment. We have maintained that division of work throughout. In fact, I have not even read Andrea’s reports after the first one, because I do not want to be influenced by her point of view.


Many people support Andrea and her work. Others are disturbed by things she has said or done. What I will say without question is that none of these issues would ever have seen the light of day without Andrea. So, if you want a community that deals properly with sexual violence against women and men, that doesn’t cultivate hypocrisy or keep dark secrets, Buddhist Project Sunshine has been more helpful to you than the Kalapa Council.

I encourage people to separate themselves from any of the personalities, either mine or Andrea’s, and focus on the credibility of the allegations, the well-being of victims and where to go from here.

Why Another Report?

I have written this third investigative report because 1) there are allegations of a new level of harm that needs to be understood by the community and 2) the people who feel they have been harmed do not have anywhere else to go. There is a general mistrust of the Wickwire Holms investigation (the “Wickwire Investigation”) and so people continue coming to me. People who have gathered the courage to come forward, people who have been systematically ignored, or silenced deserve to have their voices heard. At this moment, Buddhist Project Sunshine has provided the only forum to bring these stories forward.

I worry that people have reached overload on the allegations of the sexual misconduct of the Sakyong, but when I weigh that against the silencing of people whose stories deserve to be told, I have come down on the side of the stories and the need for the community to hear them.


INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: “ANN,” “KEITH,” AND “LAURA”

On July 8, 2018, Buddhist Project Sunshine published my 2nd investigative memo on the Sakyong’s alleged sexual assault on a woman in Chile. As has happened in the past, several new men and women have come forward to tell their stories. Some did not want their stories to be made public and I have honored that request. Other allegations could not be investigated for a variety of reasons.

One woman came forward precisely to tell her story because she wanted the community to know of her long, traumatic relationship with the Sakyong -- others wanted their stories told because his leadership led to their silencing and re-traumatization.

I state again that these are allegations. I have not been able to corroborate everything in the stories that follow. Where I haven’t corroborated something, it is either because there was no corroboration possible or because, despite my efforts to reach out to numerous witnesses with offers of confidentiality and anonymity, few have come forward.

“Ann” (a pseudonym) came forward after the July investigative memo. She had left the sangha long ago, and telling her story was painful, but she was heartened by the other women who had spoken up and she wanted to include her voice. She did not wish to write an impact statement so I am telling Ann’s story here, pieced together from hours of taped interviews and reviewed by her to ensure accuracy. Ann’s story (even though written by me) contains details that have not yet been corroborated, largely as you will see, because the only people who could confirm her story are people who have refused to speak about it.

Ann’s Story

Ann is a survivor of extraordinary childhood sexual abuse which is hard to read about and even harder to imagine. Her father operated a child prostitution ring disguised as a day care center. She was a child prostitute. When her father was arrested on federal charges of violating the Mann Act, Ann was prepped by the FBI to testify against him. In the end, she was not able to do it; she was only four years old. She is speaking out now about the trauma and exploitation that she experienced in Shambhala so that she can help stop the abuse of other women and girls and heal her four-year-old self that couldn’t speak out then.

In 2001, Ann decided that she needed to find a dharma home. Her grandmother had been a Buddhist and an important person in her life. Ann called Gampo Abbey because she had read Pema Chodron’s books and they had helped her to come to terms with her trauma. She asked the people at Gampo Abbey to ask Pema where she could go that would be a safe place to study the dharma.

The message came back that Ann should go to her local Shambhala Center.
She did that and she immediately connected to the teachings. But Ann wanted even more — she wanted a teacher, a community, the family she had never really had. What she got was something different.

As Ann began to get deeper into the teachings, she went to Karma Choling for a retreat. She spoke openly about her childhood and the trauma she had experienced. At Karme Choling, she was quickly brought to the Sakyong by a kusung to provide healing services to him. (Ann was a healing services provider).

The first time that the Sakyong initiated a sexual advance toward Ann was in 2002 or 2003. Ann was in a padmasmbhava feast and a kusung came to get her to take her to the Sakyong to give him a healing treatment. He began making sexual advances and it was a struggle for her to keep him away and to provide the treatment. The Sakyong indicated that he was in the form of guru Rinpoche and that having sex with him was part of the practice; that it was an honor for her because he was her vajra guru. But Ann did not give in to him. She completed the healing practice and left.

Ann resisted the pressure for sex, but eventually the Sakyong became angry if Ann did not do what he wanted. He became cold and hard if Ann refused him. She was confused, afraid of his anger and then his coldness, and she fell into the same patterns of silence, loyalty and fear that she had experienced as a child. But even from the beginning, it did not seem right to her. There was no relationship, there was only a sense of being used by the Sakyong for sex.

During the summers of 2004-2005, Ann worked in the Sakyong’s household at SMC. Where she was working, Ann had a clear view of the people who came to wait for their appointments with the Sakyong. Ann saw lots of people come, but she began to notice that there were parents bringing young teenage girls. The girls seemed nervous. The parents occasionally said something like, “This is such an honor for you to have this experience.” Then a kusung would come for the girl and the parents would leave. Ann worked directly below the Sakyong’s bedroom and since there was no air conditioning, in the summer the windows were open. Ann could hear what sounded distinctly like sexual encounters.

Ann worried about this. She asked several kusung, “What’s going on with these young girls?” They always said the same thing. ”There is nothing for you to worry about.” But she did worry because she knew what it was like to be a child used for sex. She knew what she saw and what she heard through those windows.

Over time, Ann began to feel like the Sakyong believed that she was “his possession” and that he “owned” her.
This was familiar to her from her childhood and it was deeply disturbing. Ann knew it was not a good situation, but she did not want to leave the sangha and the teachings. [1]

Ann became increasingly uncomfortable with her feeling that the Sakyong was using her for sex as she had been used as a prostitute. But he was her guru. Ann discussed her concerns with female Acharyas and other senior Shambhala women leaders. She specifically asked them whether the statement in one of the restricted Sadhana practices that reads, “whatever the guru commands I will follow” meant that she had to have sex with him “on demand” in the middle of the night, give money that she didn’t have, and be controlled by him. But they either didn’t seem to care, or they essentially said that it was “not a big deal” or that she should be happy about the situation, because it was “an honor” and it proved that she was “special.”

As Ann continued to question what was happening, she asked a male Shambhala leader: “Why did he choose me? Why is he doing this to me?” Ann asked this because she felt that the Sakyong actually did not like her but that he only wanted to control her.
The Acharya told her to be careful. He said, “The Sakyong does this — he looks for trauma survivors. He takes vulnerable women and makes them his possession.” Some years later, in 2006 or 2007 on a retreat in France, she asked the same questions of another Acharya who told her, “You do not have to do this.” It was the first time anyone had said this and it marked the beginning of her ability to break away.

In 2005, when the Sakyong came to Boston to run the Boston Marathon, Ann was invited to come as well.
A day or two before the marathon she was brought by a kusung into the bedroom where the Sakyong was staying in a private home.

He was lying on the bed in his underwear and 4-5 men from his “inner circle” (i.e. Kalapa Council members, leaders, kusung) were present. [2] The Sakyong called Ann over and motioned for her to sit down on the edge of the bed. She became nervous. As a child prostitute she had been subjected to horrible situations, including gang rape. This looked the same.

The Sakyong began to initiate sex with her. He took her hand in his hand and began stroking his penis with it while the men looked on from the other side of the bed. He said, “Can you take care of me?” and then he said to her, “What can you do for them?” [3]

Ann began to panic and told him repeatedly, “No, I am not comfortable doing this.” She remembers that one of the men then moved to stand in front of the door and another took off his jacket. She began to shake with fear and to dissociate from her body. The Sakyong then sexually assaulted her, putting his hand on the back of her neck and trying to force her mouth down on his penis. Finally, Ann twisted away, stood up and fled the room. She left the house and stayed elsewhere. [4]

This was not the first time that she had been brought by kusung to perform oral sex on the Sakyong in front of other men. Ann alleges that at SMC, in 2003 or 2004, a kusung brought her to the Sakyong’s room where there were a number of men present – again, the Sakyong’s “inner circle.” She was told to kneel in front of him while the men stood around. He opened his robe to reveal that he was naked. She realized that she was expected to perform oral sex on the Sakyong in front of these men. Ann says that she “freaked out” and dissociated. She began to cry, scream and hyperventilate. She remembers only that someone, perhaps the Sakyong, finally said, “Let her go.” She left SMC early and flew home.


Back in Boulder there was a lady whom Rinpoche loved very much. There was also a young man who had never slept with a woman. Both of these people were very close students of Rinpoche. In talking, Rinpoche expressed his interest in having this young man's first sexual encounter be a very positive one. It seemed to me quite normal when he proposed that his own consort spend the night with the young man. So it was arranged and came to pass. The following day I went into Rinpoche's bedroom to find him sitting on the edge of the bed, his head hung down. Sensing he might be sick, I inquired gently if everything was all right. I put my hand on his shoulder and his body lacked any energy or vitality. I looked into his face and saw that he had been crying, tears still rolling silently down his cheeks. Very concerned, I asked him what was the matter. He turned his deep brown watery eyes upon me and quietly said, "They spent the night together."

"But, Sir," I said in mild protest, "you set it up like that." He did not answer, but the tears continued. I managed to get him dressed, his body limp and unresponsive. He would not eat or drink. It was all tears. I called Michael Root, who lived close by, and explained that Rinpoche seemed brokenhearted and that I could not understand why, since he himself had suggested the rendezvous. Acting upon Michael's suggestion I drove Rinpoche over to Michael's house where we finally managed to give him a warm bath, washing his back with a sponge. Rinpoche still would not eat or even have his usual glass of sake.

Following a phone call Michael reported that the young couple had arrived back at the Court. Hearing that, Rinpoche perked up and said, "We must welcome them." Life returned to his body. He drank his waiting glass of sake and we drove back to the Court to prepare a welcoming meal. Rinpoche played the kind and gracious host to his lover and the young man. I did not fully realize at the time his enormous pain. In an act of compassion and kindness he gave up someone with whom he was truly in love to benefit another person. The fact was that he loved both of them and for their happiness unhesitatingly took upon himself the resulting pain.

-- The Mahasiddha and His Idiot Servant, by John Riley Perks


In 2005, the Sakyong and Ann decided she should go to go to a monastery in India to practice. She was told she would go with another teacher close to the Sakyong. After she had made all of the preparations for the trip, a male Shambhala leader called her and asked her to make a $6,000 donation, which was actually the Sakyong’s own yearly obligation to a particular feast at one of the monasteries. Ann didn’t have any money, but she used a credit card and went into debt. It was not the last time she was pressured to give money she didn’t have.

Money was not the only thing that the Sakyong used his power to get from Ann. After he became engaged and it was clear that he was going to maintain a house in Boulder, he instructed her to buy a condominium there. She assumed that this would be where she would live so that she could continue to be part of his household. Ann didn’t have any money so she mortgaged her own home in another city and bought a condo in November 2006.

After Ann had furnished the home, the Sakyong came to look at it. He said, “You need to sign this condo over to me — I have had a quitclaim deed prepared and I want you to sign it. I want it for Tseyang (his wife) and her sisters.”

Ann said, “But what about me, what am I going to do?”

He said, “Buy another condo.” She couldn’t do that – she had no money – so she sold it in early 2007.

A year or two later, Ann found the courage to leave the Sakyong and the sangha. After she did, several high-level leaders called her repeatedly over a period of 18 months. She would not speak to them so they left messages. They said, “You can’t leave because you’re breaking your samaya vows.” They said, “You have to remain silent about anything that happened to you.” They said, “If you leave you will live in the Hell Realms.” Despite their insistence, Ann refused to meet with them.

It was extremely hard for Ann to leave Shambhala. She said she did it because she felt that the Sakyong was using the dharma for his own purposes, that he used women to have power and control over them, and, in the process, he destroyed the teachings for many people. As a result of the Sakyong’s actions, Ann herself began to have serious doubts about the dharma. It took her four years of solitary practice, but she stayed with it and she found a teacher who cared about her spiritual path; she is now active in a dharma community in her hometown.

CREDIBILITY, CORROBORATION AND PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR

I found Ann to be extremely credible. She has dates and details, some of which have been corroborated. I have reached out to the people who might be able to corroborate various facts but only one person responded. [5]

From Ann’s story, I have listed 5 allegations:

Allegation #1: The Sakyong targeted Ann and exploited her for sex.

From a childhood of exploitation where loyalty and silence were enforced, Ann came to Shambhala, where she alleges that she was exploited sexually by the Sakyong, who knew her entire history of trauma and vulnerability.

I attempted to corroborate this claim. I reached out to the Shambhala leader whom Ann says told her that the Sakyong targeted vulnerable women, but he did not respond to me. I was able to corroborate that Ann spoke to a woman leader about her concerns about her relationship with the Sakyong. That woman’s recollection is that Ann spoke about being “unhappy, troubled” with her relationship with the Sakyong. But this woman did not have a clear recollection of the source of that unhappiness.

The allegation that the Sakyong targeted vulnerable women is part of a pattern, but not one that Ann could have known about. Another woman came forward with a similar experience – she felt that she was targeted and abused by the Sakyong because she was vulnerable but, at her request, her story was not printed. In addition, the coldness, the lack of empathy, the anger, the lack of relationship, the abuse, these have all been a part of almost every person’s story.

Allegation #2: Ann alleges first-hand knowledge of underage girls being brought to the Sakyong for sex at SMC

The allegation that underage girls were brought for sexual encounters with the Sakyong, if true, is a criminal offense with no statute of limitations in Colorado. I cannot investigate this allegation. The information that Ann has would have to go to the District Attorney in Larimer County, Colorado.

Allegation #3: The Sakyong sexually assaulted Ann twice in the presence of other male leaders and on one occasion, tried to force her to have sex with them.

Ann alleges that on two occasions, the Sakyong tried to force her to perform oral sex in the presence of a group of Shambhala leaders. The first time, she was “let go” after she began crying and screaming. Later, there was a second incident where she was asked to also have sex with a number of male Shambhala leaders. This can only be confirmed by the Sakyong or the people in the room, none of whom are available to me.

The practice of forcing a woman to perform oral sex echoes an allegation in the BPS Phase II investigative Report, in which a woman said that the Sakyong pushed her head to his penis and forced her to perform oral sex after she told him that she didn’t want to have sex.

Sexual assault is a crime. If the statute of limitations has not expired, co-conspirators who were present could also be implicated.


Allegation #4: Coercion for Money and Real Estate

Ann alleges that the Sakyong pressured her into making a $6,000 donation that was his own obligation. He also drew up a quit claim deed and tried to get her to sign her condominium in Boulder over to him, knowing that it would be a financial burden to her. She paid the $6,000 and other amounts as she was asked to do. But she would not sign over the condominium. Instead, she sold it.

I have confirmed that Ann bought the condominium and that she sold it a short time later. I have reached out to two people to corroborate why Ann sold the condo; one did not have any knowledge and the other did not respond to me.

Allegation #5: Using Fear to Silence

This is a recurrent theme – Shambhala has used several different types of silencing when people have raised their voices about sexual misconduct.

1. Silencing by shunning. Many survivors were ignored or ostracized until they felt forced to leave the community.

2. Silencing by offering friendship instead of accountability. In the last two reports, there was one corroborated allegation (and others uncorroborated) of a woman who felt that leaders were trying to placate her so that she would not go public with her story.

3. Silencing by the use of internal “mediation” for criminal acts like sexual assault and rape.

4. In Ann’s case, silencing by threats, instilling the fear that if she ever came forward, something bad would happen to her.

CONCLUSION

I have corroborated Ann’s story of her childhood, the purchase and the quick sale of the condominium in Boulder that the Sakyong told her to deed over to him. The people who can corroborate the remainder of Ann’s story, kusung, acharyas and others -- men who were present in Massachusetts and Colorado when Ann was sexually assaulted -- have either not responded to me or are not available to me.

THE HARM OF ORGANIZATIONAL COMPLICITY

The allegations of the complicity of Shambhala leaders in Ann’s story is shocking, but there are also other forms of complicity that create harm, as it has with two other former community members who came forward in the last month.

KEITH - RAPED AT AGE 15; LAURA - SEXUALLY ASSAULTED AT AGE 18

“Keith” (a pseudonym) was 15 years old in 1983 and when he was raped by an older man, a man he trusted, a member of the community at Karme Choling, the night before he went into retreat. [6} Laura (a pseudonym) was sexually assaulted by an older man, a staff member at Encampment in 1998.

I have corroborated Keith’s allegations by talking and corresponding with people to whom he made contemporaneous statements, including a person that he spoke to shortly after the rape. He was, she told me, visibly shaken; the story that he told her is exactly the same as the one he told me. Since rape does not often happen in the presence of others, contemporaneous statements may be the only corroboration. Laura’s assault is also well corroborated, her attacker having actually later pled guilty to similar offenses.


What happened to Keith and Laura, both young, trusting practitioners, is heartbreaking. Not only the initial incidents, which also happen in our society at large, but also how it was dealt with within Shambhala years later. What happened to Keith and Laura, specifically what happened after their assaults, says a lot about what happens in organizations where sexual misconduct is perpetrated and tolerated at the top of the organization.

Shambhala’s process of dealing with sexual violence created almost as much trauma as the initial incidents. The men who did these crimes were not reported to the police, they were not removed from positions of trust within the Shambhala community, and the survivors were offered internal Shambhala “mediation” as a remedy.

In Keith’s case, he had put the rape behind him and left the community in 1987. Later however, he had a chance encounter with his rapist who was a kusung at the Sakyong’s side as preparations were underway for the Sakyong’s enthronement in 1995. This man, while escorting the Sakyong away, looked back and said to Keith, “You are WEAK, you always were, you always will be.”

This comment sparked Keith to finally came forward in 2003 and report to Shambhala International what had happened to him. Instead of investigating (it was still possible to do that in 2003, I did it in 2018), they offered Keith the opportunity to have a “mediation” with his rapist. Fortunately for him, Keith declined but his 2003 encounter with Shambhala remains a traumatizing incident. There was no concern for the safety of others, as this man has continued to be active in public roles within the Shambhala community.

A few years after Laura was assaulted, she came forward to Shambhala to tell her story. She too was offered “mediation” and she accepted. She sat in a room with the older man who had sexually assaulted her while he denied it, where she was made to feel like a liar, made to feel that she had to defend herself when she had done nothing wrong. Again, there appears to be have been little concern for the well-being of Laura or others, as the man who assaulted her remained in a position of power within the community.

Mediation is not, and never has been an appropriate response to crimes or allegations of sexual assault.
Mediation is a tool for disputes; a sexual assault is not a dispute, it is a crime. Mediation puts enormous pressure on the survivor to “forgive” on someone else’s time frame. It strives for compromise, where compromise is not appropriate. And whether this was the intention or not, having to face the person who violated you discourages reporting.

Please read this below, from a former member of the community who was sexually harassed at a land centre and who has some strong truths about what happens when leaders are not able to lead the organization on the issue of sexual misconduct. This appeared on Facebook after the Sakyong made his first statement about his “relationships” with women in the sangha. I use it with permission:

I believe it is crucial to see the link between the covering up of the occurrences of misconduct by acharyas, land centre staff, other teachers, and other members of the community, and the statement of the Sakyong that has recently been released. If the care and conduct committees, etc, had acknowledged the sexual misconduct of “lesser” figures, it would have been a slippery slope for them to have to recognize the misconduct of the person in the highest position of leadership. It seems clear that the systemic silencing about and minimizing of all forms of misconduct serves a purpose….” (Emphasis added).

….I have been told by some members that they still find benefit in the teachings and community, and that they pray that I and other “victims” will one day be able to come back to experience the benefits that they do. They seem not to be able to recognize that they find benefit in the teachings, practices, and community precisely because they are not likely targets of sexual predation. Just because some people find benefit in a system does not mean that the system is working. It only means it is working in their favour. [Emphasis added]. I have been told by a senior teacher that it is my karma that prevents me from benefiting from the Shambhala teachings, and my suffering of sexual misconduct within the community points to the fact that I am not meant for Shambhala. At the time it felt like some kind of terrible rejection, and victimblaming, and ostracizing. Now, however, at some level, I will have to agree. To use people’s spiritual seeking against them in this kind of blackmail – no, I am not meant to participate in such a thing.


WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Since the July memo, a number of women have come forward with additional allegations against the Sakyong. Several of their statements are included in the BPS Report. As importantly, some individuals with first-hand knowledge provided corroboration for prior allegations.

Here are what I now know to be “key facts,” meaning allegations that are credible, have credible corroboration and are relevant to the allegations.

1. In 2002, the Sakyong sexually assaulted a woman in Chile and this assault was known to David Brown, Jesse Grimes, and Mitchell Levy. These two facts have been corroborated by several different, unrelated people. To my knowledge, the Sakyong has never denied this.

2. In 2011, the Sakyong sexually assaulted a woman in the kitchen of his house in Halifax after the birthday party of his daughter. Members of Kalapa Council were aware of it. The Sakyong has never denied this. Indeed, he appeared to have “apologized,” calling it a “personal relationship,” which it was not.

3. Over the years, the Sakyong sexually assaulted several women, including between 2002 and 2011, both before he married and after, not just while drunk but also while sober. There are simply too many reports following the same pattern to believe that this number of unrelated women are all lying. Could there be differences in exactly what happened in these situations? Of course. People remember different things, people see things a particular way, memories fade. But in my experience, these differences do not change the obvious conclusion — that unwanted, nonconsensual sexual groping, fondling, kissing, forced oral sex and other sexual assaults, happened.


RECAP AND TIMELINE

Several people have requested that there be dates associated with the allegations. In a prior report, the women involved did not want dates to be revealed, fearing that they could be identified. But now that there are many more allegations, dates are useful and non-identifying.

Year / Allegation

1987—Sexual misconduct 1994 —Sexual assault
1996 —Sexual assault – leaders aware
1997 —Group sex encounter
1999 —Sakyong targets a vulnerable woman for his own sexual gratification
2001 —Sexual assault
2001 —Sakyong targets a vulnerable woman for his own sexual gratification
2002 —Sexual assault/Chile -- leaders were aware
2003 —Sexual encounters for his own sexual gratification with Naropa students
2003-2004 — Sexual encounters with underage girls
2004 – Sexual assault in the presence of male leaders
2005 --Sexual assault in the presence of male leaders
2006—2007 — Coercion for money and real property
2011 – Sexual assault; leaders aware.


WHAT’S NEXT

When I wrote my first report on June 28, 2018, I asked for a full investigation. Now, many women later, the Wickwire Holms law firm has been retained to conduct this investigation.

I do not have any issue with the lawyers or the law firm selected, but I believe that there is a problem with the structure of the investigation itself.


THE STRUCTURE OF THE WICKWIRE INVESTIGATION

On Wednesday, Ms. Bath at Wickwire Holms responded to an email I sent last week asking for information on who had retained Wickwire and who they were reporting to. She wrote, “We have been retained by Shambhala USA (formerly Shambhala International) through its general counsel Alexander Halpern LLC to conduct the investigation. I am not in touch with Shambhala except through counsel. As the organization has its own counsel for advice and representation, our role is solely that of investigator. Our office has complete control of the investigation process and analysis of the stories and accounts received. We'll provide the report to Shambhala through counsel.”

Wickwire will hand over its investigative report to Shambhala USA or its legal representative. Whether this guarantees the integrity and transparency that the allegations require is a decision for the sangha. A more transparent solution would be for an independent monitor or board to release the report in its entirety as it is written by Wickwire.


See this article below for an example of what is often done when an organization has conflicts of interest, both real and perceived and when transparency has been compromised:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/us/w ... ation.html

FAQ’S

Here are the most frequent or interesting questions and my answers.

1. Why should we believe you?

There is a considerable evidence that the Sakyong has committed a number of sexual assaults. But you do not have to believe me; I have said from the beginning that this investigation is preliminary and an outside law firm should do a full investigation. However, there are certain problems in the structure of the outside investigation (see above) which I am hoping will be remedied.

2. Isn’t it true that all of this is about women who threw themselves at the Sakyong?

It may be true that there were women who threw themselves at the Sakyong — but those are not the women who came forward in this investigation. So far, the women I have spoken to allege that they were “ghosted,” [7] groped without permission, locked in a bathroom and assaulted, forced to have oral sex after telling him “no,” targeted because they were vulnerable, asked to give cash and real estate to him, humiliated by an unprovoked assault in full view of others, and traumatized by the demand for oral sex in front of other men while being asked to have sex with them too.

3. Do you think that the Wickwire Holms Investigation is independent?

I have no reason to believe that the lawyers who will lead the investigation are anything but professional and neutral. However, they are working within a structure that I think legitimately gives rise to a lot of suspicion. I have asked for an independent outside monitor because it is the best thing for the entire community and the Sakyong. It ensures that the results would be perceived as neutral no matter what the results are.

4. Aren’t there other facts you have left out that would provide more context to some of these events and help us to understand them better?

Probably. There are always more facts than time or resources. I have tried to focus on what I would call “key facts” – those facts that bear on the ultimate question being asked. For example, if the ultimate question is: ‘did the Sakyong sexually assault a woman in Chile?’ then for me whether the dinner guests left before or after the assault may not be relevant, although those details could certainly provide context.

5. Aren’t you just in the pocket of either Shambhala International or Buddhist Project Sunshine and being paid by one or the other?

If I am doing this because I am being paid by one or the other, then let me mention that I could have made more money working at McDonalds, since I am not being paid by anybody. I am not “against” the Sakyong, I am not “for” anyone, I am interested as I have been from the beginning in allowing people whose voices have been silenced to be heard and then investigated. Understanding that “the truth” is elusive, I am interested in getting as close to “the truth” as possible.

6. At this point, aren’t you doing more harm than good?

I don’t think so but I suppose it depends on how you define harm and good. Let’s just acknowledge that the responsibility for the harm doesn’t lie with the men and women who are coming forward -- they committed no crimes. These are serious allegations and ignoring and silencing people is never the answer. It seems to me that dealing with the actual problem is the answer -- in which case, you need to know what the problem is; in which case, you need to hear what people have to say.

As the community member I quoted above said: Just because some people find benefit in a system does not mean that the system is working. It only means it is working in their favour.

So lucky you, if the balance of harms is in your favor; but it certainly isn’t for everyone.

7. Do we even need an investigation?

Maybe not. It depends on whether you, and the majority of the community is satisfied with the conclusion that the Sakyong has engaged in sexual misconduct and an abuse of power over the last 30 years – conduct that occurred while he was single, after he was married, while he was drunk and while he was sober. If you are not satisfied with that conclusion, then you need a full investigation.

8. I have a question. How can I ask you?

You can email it to me at cmerchasin@aol.com. I will do my best to answer.
_______________

Notes:

1 Research indicates that victims of childhood sexual abuse are especially vulnerable to abusive adult relationships.

2 The Sakyong was not drinking during the incidents that Ann relates here.

3 As has been my practice, I will not reveal these names here because I do not have corroboration. Indeed, these men are the only corroboration. However, I will turn their names over to the Wickwire Investigation.

4 After I had sent this memo to Buddhist Project Sunshine, a man who had been in the household on that day in Boston, came forward to respond to my request to talk. Ann reported that she thought this man had seen her upset and that they had talked, although she said she did not tell him what happened. However, although this man was in a position to see things going on in the household, he had no knowledge of any incident nor any memory of seeing Ann upset or conversing with Ann at that time. He stated that he absolutely never saw any improprieties on the part of the Sakyong during the time period from 2005-2006.

5 I did not reach out to anyone in the Sakyong’s “inner circle” as I had been instructed by an intermediary not to do so. However, I would expect that they will participate in the Wickwire Investigation.

6 There is no statute of limitation on rape of a minor in Vermont. Keith has indicated that he will be turning his information over to the appropriate authorities there.

7 From the Urban Dictionary: [Ghosting] is done in hopes that the ghostee will just "get the hint" and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting...is closely related to the subject's maturity and communication skills.
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:37 am

Buddhist Project Sunshine Final Report [PHASE 1] [EXCERPT]
A Firebird Year Initiative To Bring Light And Healing To Sexualized Violence Embedded Within The Shambhala Community
February 27, 2017 – February 15, 2018
Respectfully offered by Andrea M. Winn, MEd, MCS

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Welcome

Welcome to this pioneering journey of charting a new land: a land where we hope to unite the enlightened wisdom of Shambhala vision with a process of compassionate and very human healing. For Shambhala to flourish, we must heal the intergenerational trauma of sexualized violence that is active within the Shambhala community.

The aim of this report is to raise our community lungta to take on the frightening shadow of sexualized violence lying across the heart of our community. Ultimately, the aim of this work is to inspire healing throughout the Shambhala community, in a fully embodied, fully engaged, comprehensive and collaborative way.

Project Sunshine began with a clear mandate of bringing abused women leaders together to heal and then form an activist group. When this mandate failed, I turned to progressive Shambhala leaders to fulfill the original mandate of gathering leaders, creating a vision, and taking action on sexualized violence within the community. After several productive meetings, these leading edge leaders were not prepared to move forward with creating a vision of an abuse-free Shambhala. In the end, a group of caring people formed together organically within the heated time of the past few weeks. This group will help facilitate an on-line dialog about this report for a period of three weeks.

Through the course of this project there has been a wealth of learning gained. In addition, related conversations have sprung up during the span of this project around the violence and trauma in Sogyal Rinpoche's community and the #MeToo upwelling. This report will share (1) an overview of the project, (2) reflective learning from Project Sunshine, and (3) recommendations and possible next steps.

***

Developing A Contemplative Spiritual Framework

I recognized early on in the project the necessity for a contemplative approach to dealing with this societal problem. Through dialog with my friend and spiritual companion, Grace Brubaker, we developed what we call a “contemplative spiritual framework” for the work of Project Sunshine.

This framework is a stance or an approach. The analogies we came up with for this approach were mid-wife and gardener. A mid-wife has the role of facilitating a healthy birth. She doesn’t do the birth herself. Instead, her focus is on preparing herself in every way to be as faithful and as connected with the divine to facilitate the birth. The mid-wife does not get attached to the outcome, because it is beyond her control. Similarly, a gardener plants and tends the garden. The actual growth is a mystery.

This approach is freeing. It frees us because there is no ultimate responsibility. We are not “gods” who can control. Instead, we can seek to be in sync with and responsive to the goodness that is being born, in its own way and in its own right timing.

Operating in this way provides a framework and influences how we think, how we act, and how we are together. Many of us have taken samaya, and this is a serious and deep vow to all of our vajra brothers and sisters. Many of us also feel a tremendous loyalty and dedication to fulfilling Trungpa Rinpoche’s vision, and now also the vision of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Underlying all of this is a deep sense of commitment that we wish to live out. Part of this commitment is to be concerned about our community. Developing a contemplative spiritual framework is a way to live into this sense of commitment and explore what changes are needed.

***

What is Project Sunshine?

Work on abuse has been done under "Shambhala Care and Conduct." This work has, however, not gone far enough since women are currently being abused without recourse, and past harm has not been attended to. Known child abusers are freely active within the Shambhala community, some are even senior teachers. Meanwhile, many who have been abused have been left with no recourse but to leave the community to heal and move forward as best they can, often with diminished resources of lungta and money.

Project Sunshine is a one-year project that was launched on Shambhala Day 2017 [February 27, 2017] to (1) establish a working body of concerned citizens to address the situation of sexual and social abuse in the Shambhala community, and (2) create a promotional campaign to start a productive conversation about this situation on a community-wide level.


***

Why I Started Project Sunshine

I started this project out of compassion. Something has gone tragically wrong in the Shambhala community. We have allowed abuse within our community for nearly four decades, and it is time to take practical steps to end it. I experienced profound abuse in this community, and I don't want to see it continue to happen to others like me. I saw a way to help through creating Project Sunshine to establish a strong foundation for change.

A year ago I came to a point in my life where I was ready to come out from under the rock of oppressive silence and bring change that has been long needed in the Shambhala community. I was sexually abused as a child by multiple perpetrators in our community. When I was a young adult, I spoke up about the community’s sexual abuse problem and was demonized by my local Shambhala center, ostracized and forced to leave. The shocking truth is that almost all of the young people in my age group were sexually harassed and/or sexually abused. I don't know the statistics on the generations of children after mine. What I do know is that many of us have left the community, and for those who have stayed, their voices have been unheard. Beyond child sexual abuse, women continue to be abused in relationships with community leaders and by their sanghas.

I have been doing intensive healing for the last 15 years. After the first couple of years of my own healing, I trained in ways to help others. I’ve completed an MEd Counselling Psychology at the University of Toronto specializing in treating relational trauma, and I completed a six-month certificate in dispute resolution at York University.

One thing that is clear to me is that a single woman can be silenced. However, a group of organized concerned citizens will be a completely different ball game. Creating such a group is a way to create sanity for ourselves in the midst of this crazy situation, and then we can look at how to share that sanity with others.

Through my work as a therapist, a mediator, and as a Heroic Leadership Coach, I have lead this 1-year initiative. I put a number of supports in place so I could serve as a steady leader for Project Sunshine. Perhaps the most important of these was regularly meeting with Karlene, a strategic counsellor at the Toronto Rape Crisis Center. Karlene has accompanied a number of grass roots groups who successfully influenced their communities to open up dialog about abuse, deal effectively with abusers, and make positive change. One such group confronted a group of Catholic Priests, giving Karlene experience with activist work in a religious community. Karlene strongly suggests the power of writing our stories, both as survivors of the abuse and as leaders who have witnessed abusive situations happening within the community. She suggests sharing these stories widely in the community as a tool for invoking conversation and change.

Vision

This one-year vision was to gather a powerful group of concerned citizens to protect the integrity of the Shambhala lineage. We will do this through influencing the Shambhala community to acknowledge and repair past abuse of women and children in the community, and integrate new values that honour tenderness, vulnerability and other strengths typically associated with the feminine.

Mission

To accomplish this vision I worked to organize a powerful activist group engaging a 5-stage process: (1) Build emotional safety, skills and resiliency; (2) Document abuse stories; (3) Form a strong activist group; (4) Envision the change we want; and (5) Launch a Shambhala abuse-awareness campaign in 2018.

Values

The values I worked to inspire both in myself and those who engaged the project were:

• We are fiercely loyal to the vision of the Shambhala Teachings
• We look to the Great Eastern Sun to lead us

• We work to create safety and stability in our own minds and in community through practicing Shamatha daily

• We fearlessly and compassionately acknowledge the impact of violation**(See appendices on impact)

• We practice boundaries as defined by Dr. David Gruder: "A boundary is any limit I need to honour in order to love or work with you without resentment and with integrity. A boundary is not a line drawn in the sand, a position, posture, ideology, ultimatum or other tool for manipulation or control."

• We work with our own projections and act powerfully from the wisdom of our deep self-knowing: In moments of rage, we take a sacred pause to have mercy for our self and unpack what has happened before acting.

• We have decided to reclaim the power of our heart and voice for our own benefit and the benefit of all sentient beings.

Goals

1. Create a wise and empowered Shambhala right-relations activist group

2. Create the space to have emotionally safe and clear dialogs about abuse that has been suffered in our community

3. Collect impact stories from people who have experienced abuse and from leaders who have witnessed abusive situations in the Shambhala community

4. Create a promotion campaign to launch in 2018 so that Shambhala citizens across the globe are able to hear the truth of what has happened to women, children and other vulnerable people, and participate in creating healthy relational changes in the community.


Project Sunshine had five phases over the time span of one year

1. Build emotional safety, skills and resiliency


We are building skills for dealing with triggers, processing experiences with a greater sense of inner safety, and growing a deeper understanding of our boundaries. We are working specifically to deal with fears around making these community changes by contemplating the following:

• See your personal resilience: (1) You know your needs, (2) You are responsive to your own needs, (3) Know you will take care of yourself no matter what happens

• Think strategically about systems that protect abusers: (1) Attacking people who speak up perpetuates systemic abuse of women and children, (2) Know at times people will attack you, (3) Since you know it is coming, you can be strong in yourself, know what you need and want, and know that ultimately not much harm can be done to you because you will take care of yourself

• Working with projections: Create a strong sense of self-awareness to be able to identify when you are projecting and when others are projecting on you.

• Understanding the nature of doing disruptive work: This activism is about shifting a community's mindset toward right relationship around sexual relations and emotional boundaries. Attacks will come, so a key skill is to develop space to anticipate the unknown and the ability to know how to tend yourself in the midst of doing disruptive work.

• Understanding the nature of "Lateral violence" or "micro aggressions" among the activist group: Differences can lead us astray and pull us apart. We can suddenly find ourselves having a really awful moment together. We can remind ourselves that we are not enemies. We have had a weird moment that felt hurtful, but it is yet to be determined if it was destructive. It is wise to take a pause, remember our goals, and have dialog to come to greater clarity.

2. Document abuse stories

We originally aimed to collect four anonymous one-page stories from people who experienced abuse in the Shambhala community. We wanted to publish these stories in two major Shambhala publications in 2018 to raise awareness and get the conversation towards change going. Since the stories are anonymous, there will be no back and forth between the survivors, perpetrators and the community; if names were used, this could turn into combative relationships. Also by not using names, the authors and the publishers are not at risk for being sued. The tool I created for this is available in Appendix 5 of this report.

We are interested in providing a context in which these stories will be received in a productive, rather than reactive, way. Therefore, we are also collecting statements from Shambhala leaders who can help to frame our activism in a workable and committed manner. This will instil greater confidence in community members to receive and reflect constructively upon the stories.

3. Form a strong activist group

This is not one single person's problem. This is a serious community-wide problem that will continue to suck the lungta from our community until it is addressed. There are people who have insight, skill and passion who know in their heart that they must come forward and contribute their part in this. Andrea Winn arose as the initial instigator, and others are now exploring their role in being part of the movement to end sexualized violence within Shambhala, which includes healing what has happened in the past.

4. Envision the change we want

We are developing a contemplative spiritual framework for creating community change that is in alignment with Shambhala values. In the future we would like to engage fun activities to envision a Shambhala community that deals effectively with abuse, and even a Shambhala community free of abuse! What could that look like? The session I designed for this is shared in Appendix 6.

5. Launch a Shambhala abuse-awareness campaign in 2018

We would like to reach out to a couple of community-wide Shambhala publications to organize a 4-month series to publish the documented abuse stories and accompanying pieces from Shambhala leaders. We'd like to plan this in a way that fosters emotional safety for community members to engage and personally reflect. We also want to provide places for members to engage in dialog when they are ready, such as a moderated social media discussion forum.

The work of Project Sunshine has become known world-wide at this point. This final report is serving as the community-wide publication.

***

Statements From Community Leaders

Sangyum Agness Au [NOT INCLUDED]

Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown [NOT INCLUDED]

Community Elder, Judy Lief


I am very impressed with all the work and heart you have put into this project. It is very timely—long overdue. Although I myself have not been abused, in my various roles, I have been repeatedly frustrated by the lack of response and even understanding of this problem from the leadership. As you say, it is a deeply entrenched pattern of power, chauvinism, and denial that mirrors the patterns of the larger society. I fully support this work and will be happy to help in any way I can. In any case, I’d like to keep in touch as this healing work takes root. I know too many fine young people who have left the sangha based on experiences such as yours, or who have stayed connected but with their voices unheard.

It is so good that you have created a forum for women to connect and support one another. It seems to me that there are two tough issues. One, of course, is the initial bad behavior and its harmful results and how to facilitate healing. The second is the institutional avoidance of this shadow side of things and the pattern of ignoring these incidents, making light of them, or even retaliating on or shutting down the people who speak up. I’m pretty sure this combination is a familiar pattern in the larger world, as well.

On the individual level, my concern is not only to help women heal from such trauma, but to regain their power and not fall prey to the trap of identifying as a “victim.” Being a victim is one thing, taking that as an identity is another. I see you as a role model for women in speaking up and taking action, being able to feel and release the pain, and not letting your frustration with the blindness and indifference control you. Personally, I find it is so painful that women genuinely interested in the dharma and in the path of meditation feel there is no safe place for them to study and practice together.

At the institutional level, we are a culture (Shambhala), within a culture (Buddhism), within a culture (USA),within a culture (Tibet), all very patriarchal. Yet in spite of this, personally I am so grateful and rather than being held back in any way, I only felt pushed by the Vidyadhara in a good way to come into my own potential and confidence.

There is a broader context that it might be good to ask some folks to work on, which is the source tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and its entrenched patriarchal hierarchy. I think that Trungpa Rinpoche did make a break with this to some degree, but I still feel it as another shadow hanging over the broader community and at some level influencing the discussion as well.

This patriarchal hierarchy is very evident if you travel to Asia. There is a deep patriarchal view in many Asian cultures, at a level beyond Western culture. There are a lot of joyful wonderful women in Tibet. However, at the same time women are viewed very poorly, as second class citizens. Women seem to be viewed as inferior to men and are not well treated. Theoretically, in Tibetan Buddhist texts, women are revered as an embodiment of prajna, but in reality they are not treated well. In the vinaya, it is taught that the highest ranking nun needs to defer to lowest ranking monk. Monastic resources go to monks, and very few go to nuns. Nuns lack the educational opportunities that monks have. The good news is that this is changing. There are currently male Tibetan Buddhist teachers that are trying to offer more to nuns. And there are exceptional Tibetan woman teachers who are revered.

In terms of Project Sunshine, it’s important that you are taking this pain and making something positive out of it, in a way that can change things for others. This is about dealing with a lot of emotional energies, and not burying them, but rather it is about dealing with them and then letting them go.

Doing the things you are doing in Project Sunshine is bringing healing. You are looking beyond yourself, engaging and not hiding from the difficult and painful situations that exist, and not solidifying them. This is about helping others.

It means the world to me that you are brave enough to take something like this on. You are helping make progress in people’s understanding of these kind of things, and hopefully we can begin to put some mechanisms in place to prevent this happening as much as it does now.

***

Anonymous Stories and Impact Statements from Survivors

Story & Impact Statement #1


I grew up in the Shambhala community. I was sexually abused by several men. The greatest impact came from one, who I will call John. When I was a teenager, I did my first serving shift with a primary teacher in the teacher’s residence. John was close with the family and living in the same house. I had to pass by his room every time I did something for the principle I was serving. John kept stopping me at his door to talk with him. Then, one time he asked me to come in the room and shut the door. He was sitting under the covers of his bed and removed the covers and I saw he was naked on the bottom half. He had me sit by him on the bed and told me to kiss his penis. I was young, a girl, and I wanted to respect him and “be nice”. I was profoundly confused. A friend of mine years later was physically attacked by John, and five of us dharma brats came to my friend saying we had been abused by John. This is when I learned his child abuse was wide spread. The rape counsellor I was seeing said that if five of us came forward, there were likely many more who had been abused by him since it is rare for anyone to speak about child abuse. I spoke about my experience of child abuse in my local community. The leadership held secret meetings and sent me a threatening email telling me to stop speaking about the abuse.

My experience of abuse in the Shambhala community has impacted my life over the decades. Every intimate relationship I’ve been in has been a high intensity nightmare. I want to be close with someone, but I am terrified.
It’s like I don’t have the ground within me to build healthy trust. Having been both sexually abused and demonized by my community when I spoke about it, I have had no community connection for over 15 years. I’ve resorted to living very alone. For instance, recently I had a bad pneumonia and nearly died. I had no one in my life to visit me in the hospital, except for one Christian man who saw it as his Christian duty to visit me twice. It’s hard to admit this, but my intense loneliness hits me at night. I stuff myself with food and watch TV until late. I am quite sad about this. My rape counsellor says this profound loneliness is part of the cost. I love the Vidyadhara and I am deeply committed to Shambhala. At the same time, having been abused by many leaders in the community tears at the fabric of my being. The psychological pressure has been overwhelming. It has been hard to establish a life and also hard to have a meaningful or safe relationship with meditation.


Story & Impact Statement #2

I was married to an emotionally and verbally abusive husband who was a senior teacher in the Shambhala community. It was very hard to finally realize I had no choice but to end the marriage. I tried every way I could to keep it private and not upset the community or expose my husband, because that somehow seemed the right thing to do. It became necessary for me to seek help from Shambhala when the next Scorpion Seal retreat was approaching (year 6 for me), because I needed to do the program so that I could continue on my spiritual path. I asked for help from a number of people: first my husband himself, who declined to step aside, then the local centre Health & Wellbeing officers, then the Desung, then the President of Shambhala, who finally referred me to the acharyas. I was asking to be able to attend the Scorpion Seal retreat, and I was asking my husband, as a senior teacher, to graciously staff it elsewhere, without blame. (I had program credit at this particular centre and couldn’t afford to pay tuition and travel somewhere else, while my exhusband was paid to attend wherever he went.) A person in the Office of Social Wellbeing was assigned to facilitate this situation. She wanted me to attend the program with my husband present, and she said arrangements would be made so I would never see my husband and that they would 'protect' me from him. I knew that it would be impossible for me to feel safe in such a small and intense group retreat setting, and I made it clear that I could not do the retreat in an atmosphere like this. Shambhala at all levels, including the acharya group, labeled me as the problem when I couldn’t consent to do the retreat with him with their ‘protection,’ and they declined to assist me at that point. In short, the wellbeing of my ex-husband, the perpetrator, was given a greater value than mine. So, adding to the trauma I was experiencing from the years of abuse and upending my life by leaving the marriage, I was unable to continue on my practice path and stay with my closest sangha who had been going through the retreat together. I felt that I was not believed, not valued, not cared for, and simply thrown away to allow the status quo to continue.

Furthermore, this official met with my husband (we were in the process of a divorce through all of this) and she told him that I had filed a complaint against him, which was untrue and threatened to derail our delicate divorce negotiations. I felt deeply betrayed by this official's actions.

The atmosphere resulting from all of this was toxic, with all but my close friends either ignoring the issue when they saw me or actually avoiding me. The silence from every level of the organization spoke volumes about the “culture of blindness” pervading and poisoning the societal aspect of Shambhala. I eventually decided to leave my home and community in Canada, which was triggering and painful for me, and I now live in the city where I am originally from in the United States. No one from any level of the Shambhala hierarchy has ever contacted me since then to offer any kindness or guidance about my spiritual path or to inquire about my well-being. After being a highly contributing member of this community for over forty years, fulfilling roles at various levels, including secretary to the Sakyong at one time, this has been a profoundly devastating experience that has broken my heart and completely changed my life.


Story & Impact Statement #3

I was staffing a Shambhala Level 5 around 15 years ago. The visiting teacher was particularly exciting, and I was caught off guard in her Saturday evening talk. She said people in therapy just moan and groan, and she said it several times. She said it yet again in the question and answer period, and I raised my hand. When she called on me I said, “I find your statements about people in therapy insensitive. I was sexually abused throughout my childhood in the Shambhala community, as were most of the children, and I got a lot from therapy that the Shambhala teachings never helped me with. I wonder if this kind of insensitivity is why the adults allowed so much sexual abuse to happen to us kids.” The teacher sat fully upright as a warrior, and there was a pregnant silence. Then she replied, “Maybe you will teach us that sensitivity.”

Despite her response, the local leadership was terrified. I had been a dedicated leader for years in this community, and the council chose to meet secretly about me. Of note, three of my best friends and my Meditation Instructor were part of these meetings. The council then sent me an email telling me to: (1) stop doing any teaching, (2) step down as leader of the small Shambhala LGBT sub-community I had started, and (3) stop talking about inappropriate things.

Over the next 6 months I met with two visiting teachers - an Acharya and a senior ranking Kasung officer - explaining what was happening and asking for their help. Both refused to help. I felt at that point that I had no choice but to leave the Shambhala community.

Years later I bumped into one of the participants of that Level 5. He said he missed seeing me around. I said that the leadership had gotten upset about my talking about the childhood sex abuse problem because it could negatively affect newer students.
He replied that his experience was quite the opposite; when he heard us talking openly and respectfully about the abuse, it heartened him and made him see us as a healthy community.

It is hard to succinctly describe the impact these abuses have had on me. The original sexual abuse has made it very hard to feel safe in my body. As an adult, I felt profoundly betrayed by my good friends and Meditation Instructor, people who I trusted. I believed they felt connected with me and loyal to me in a way that could weather an upheaval. I stopped trusting people through this and have socially isolated myself for over 15 years. Although I am intensely lonely, I seem unable to form intimate connections because I am terrified of experiencing a betrayal like this again. Even with no sangha, I am a diehard practitioner and have continued my Vajrayogini and werma practices on my own all these years. I’ve been limping along at a snail’s pace, lacking the vibrancy that comes from participating in programs, having an MI, and being part of a sangha. Inside, I feel like a very long, cold winter with no hope of the warmth of the spring.


Story & Impact Statement #4

I am a gender queer person, who uses the pronouns “they” and “he”; I was socialized as a male. I'm a survivor of clergy victimization from my experiences in the Catholic Church where I was groomed and raped as a young teen by 2 different priests over a period of years. After years of recovery and therapy, I entered Shambhala as an adult thinking that was all “behind me”. I became a dedicated Scorpion Seal practitioner. I had heard stories about sexual misconduct in Shambhala. I had heard that a senior teacher had raped men. I felt concerned. For over a decade I experienced a few incidences of sexual violence from both men and women in Shambhala. The greatest impact came from a male sangha member who sexually violated me on retreats and trainings. He exposed his entire naked body to me and asked me “Do you like what you see” he told me that I would have to use his “dick” to unlock the community computer, He would make regular references to his “balls” and “ass”, and made homophobic comments to me by calling me a “Sissy”. He had a pattern of acting out on retreats and trainings. Complaints had been made against him. I had even mentioned his behaviors to my therapist, who was a sangha member, but nothing seemed to change and it all got really confusing. I eventually wrote a letter to the community leaders that included an Acharya, Shastris and Kasung. The accused was finally suspended from leadership. He tried to justify and defend his behaviors. He was then immediately allowed to be a Kasung at Children’s Day, and I realized I needed support outside the community. I obtained an outside sexual assault advocate and non-sangha - therapist to support me in the process. I spoke to a lawyer who wanted to “sue the socks off" of Karuna Training and Shambhala. I was not interested in pursuing a lawsuit. The community leadership seemed confused on how to address the issue skillfully. They put together a panel to work with the accused. I felt concerned about a spiritual organization like Shambhala trying to assess and treat someone with issues of sexual pathology. It seemed outside the scope of our local center to do this. I think the accused needed a professional psychosexual evaluation and outside treatment program. My outside advocate helped me in obtaining a temporary sexual assault protection order and filing a police report.

The impact has been painful on many different levels. I have experienced a reoccurrence of PTSD symptoms from past abuse. I have wanted to leave the sangha. Even though he did not touch me, his assaults felt like a rape. I have experienced anxiety, mistrust of sangha, fear, guilt and isolation. Due to the stress of speaking out about the sexual violence, I got in a bike wreck and broke my arm. The treatment is expensive. I have felt overwhelmed at times and also enraged at the denial of certain community members.
I also have felt supported by some of the sangha and empowered by my outside advocate, and new therapist.


Story & Impact Statement #5

What happened to me is that I was sexually assaulted during a gathering at the home of a friend and fellow sangha member, who I will call Mary. For reason(s) never revealed to me she refused to give me the name of the man who assaulted me. She also indicated that perhaps I was fabricating being assaulted. Mary is a Meditation Instructor, Kasung, Programme Coordinator, and gives out information regarding end of life planning at my local Shambhala Centre.

I made a number of attempts to obtain the name of the man who assaulted me. After a mediation session with the local Desung, Mary threatened me that if she gave me the man’s name and I went to the police, she and I would likely no longer be friends.

Eventually I went to the police without the identity of the man and made a statement. Only after Mary was questioned and the man charged did I learn his identity. After the inhumane way Mary has treated me, I ended our friendship.

Care and Conduct have said that there was no disciplinary action they would take toward Mary since she was not in an official Shambhala role (At an event or at the centre) during the assault, or when she denied me the name and indicated that I was lying about the sexual assault. My husband has been a great support to me through this ordeal, and points out that we are in our Shambhala role 100% of the time. I do wonder what will happen if someone else reveals to Mary they were assaulted. As a representative for Shambhala, how will she treat them?


Now I seek an apology from Mary for not telling me the name of the man who sexually assaulted me, and for indicating I was lying about being assaulted (let alone her comment, if I was to go to the police she would end our friendship ). I spoke with the Regional Commander in Halifax today by phone. He said Mary feels she has nothing to apologize for.

Presently, I do not feel comfortable to attend programmes and practise sessions at the Halifax Centre. I wonder about continuing my role as a Kasung/Shabchi. I have in the past attended programmes, but when Mary is attending or coordinating, it takes too large of a toll on me being fake and pretending everything is OK. I feel heartbroken.


Reflective Learning From Project Sunshine

General reflections


My first reflection is on what happened when I reached out to women leaders in the beginning of the project. Six of them came to be part of a private discussion forum to explore questions about Project Sunshine. Once they became members, they did not engage – they simply watched. A couple of months into the project, when I began to approach and meet with Acharyas, half of the women left the group.

What I have learned is there is a break down in trust between abused women and the Shambhala leadership.
This is an area that needs attention, and I would suggest Shambhala leaders could benefit from trauma-informed education so they can take their seat more confidently as leaders around issues of sexualized violence.

Secondly, it is very, very hard for abused women to rouse the energy to engage. I know this from my own experience of many years of feeling completely beaten down with no sense of hope. Some of the women told me that they found my social activism terrifying – they were sincerely afraid for my safety in engaging the Shambhala leadership.

When I met with the Shambhala leaders, most expressed denial of the problem. At first they would tell me that this problem was taken care of years ago. I had to be persistent in stating that women are still being abused and women are still being forced to leave the community. These leaders were open to my persistence and began to acknowledge there is a problem and in fact starting telling me about new cases of abuse that I was unaware of. All of the leaders I met with were generous with their time and attention to this important work. I would like to highlight the contribution of one of these leaders, Acharya Adam Lobel, as he made work on Project Sunshine a priority, specifically seeking out useful connections for integrating the work of Project Sunshine with existing Shambhala initiatives.

Another reflection on working with the Shambhala leaders is their reluctance to dedicate resource to this issue and their reluctance to take the step of envisioning what Shambhala could look like as a community that deals well with abuse. Through my work I have found that creating a vision for where you want to go is key to creating inspired change. I designed a simple vision session and proposed it to the Shambhala leaders who were engaged with Project Sunshine. Their responses were, "This is not a priority for me", "There is no juice here for me", and "I am not interested". One leader said she would be willing to do the vision session if it happened at a time that was convenient for her. Of note, towards the completion of Project Sunshine, I was told that the leaders of Shambhala, including the Sakyong, now see this work as a priority for the community.

Despite the inability to move forward with both the abused women leaders and the Shambhala leaders, I must highlight the courage and good will I experienced from both groups. Although the women would not engage with me, they made a point of encouraging me in this important work. Although the Shambhala leaders were not ready to act on shifting the pattern of violence in Shambhala, they made it clear that they care and they want this healing to happen, they just don't know how to engage.

There is fear in the hearts of everyone who I talked with, and this is easily expected. Sexual violence is frightening. It is powerful. It has a great impact on the lives of those who are abused and everyone who is touched by the incident of abuse.

In my discussions with Shambhala leaders there was also a desire expressed for finding a way of working with the perpetrators that encourages their development on their path. We do not see the solution being to lock them up in prison. There are existing community-based processes, such as restorative justice processes that can involve everyone who is touched by a violation, and as a community, find a way for the perpetrator to make right what he or she has done. Ideally these are well-facilitated, organic processes that we could modify to include values intrinsic to the Shambhala community.

A further reflection is the timing of this project and events that happened outside the community that relate to violence. First, the situation with Sogyal Rinpoche and his extreme abuse of his students came into the light, and he stepped down as the leader of his community. This situation spurred much dialog and analysis of what is happening in Tibetan Buddhist communities in the West. I read a somewhat concerning essay [1] from a well-respected teacher, and I can see that he is struggling to provide leadership to the world-wide Tibetan Buddhist community. It is my hope that leaders like him will see that no one person has the solution or answer to this problem. This is a situation where we need to intelligently bring people together, including women of wisdom, to discern the appropriate way forward in planting Tibetan Buddhism more strongly in the West.

Then the #MeToo movement sprang up, where women are speaking out and naming men who have abused them. There has been great support for this empowerment of women, some of whom remained silent for decades about the abuse they suffered.

As my final general reflection, I myself went through the initial phases of the project. I threw myself into building emotional safety, skill and resiliency for doing this work. I learned a great deal about strategies from Karlene, the Rape Crisis Center counsellor, and I met with my friend, Grace, every week in a support call that allowed for a deeply reflective and compassionate connection for developing insight and understanding through each step of the project. By doing this work myself, I feel some foundation for others to do the same has been established.

_______________

Notes:

1 https://www.buddhistdoor.net/news/dzong ... l-rinpoche (note, you will have to copy and paste this link to make it work in your browser)

***

Raising questions about the Conduct and Care Process

In my conversations with people over the past year, I learned of many situations of Conduct and Care Processes that resulted in further harm done by the process itself. Rather than resolving conflict, those facilitating the process created greater harm. I have no doubt that they had the best of intentions. However, we need to look more deeply into what is working in this process and what is not, and make changes.

I was asked to review the process when it was first being created by Richard Reoch (then President of Shambhala) and Simone LeHaye (then Desung General). In fact, the original process had my name and the name of a man who sexually abused me used throughout the process! My response to the draft sent to me was first, they should not be using my name in it.

Second, I saw clear problems in the process. I pleaded with Mr. LeHaye to consult his local rape crisis center for help with the process, as he was located in France and I understood at that time that the French feminist movement was strong. He and Mr. Reoch refused to do any such outside consultation.

It is clear to me that both Mr. Reoch and Mr. LeHaye were white men in positions of power, and I can’t help but wonder if some bias may have inadvertently entered the process, perhaps to protect white men in power. I have learned in the past week that the Care and Conduct Process is confidential to the point that men have gone through the process, were found to have caused harm, and the community never knows of this. This doesn’t feel right to me and does not resonate with my sense of justice or care for community harmony.

I also understand that the result of some Care and Conduct Processes has led to a handful of male teachers being removed from their position and told they can never again teach in Shambhala. There is a basic Shambhala value around working with people and never giving up on them. I feel that value may not be fully met with our existing Care and Conduct Process and the options available for addressing harm. Can we find truly responsive ways of stopping their harm AND helping them? I feel that as a community, we MUST explore ways for addressing harm that resonate with the values we hold dear within Shambhala.

Furthermore, given the failures of our in-house Care and Conduct process, we clearly need to consult with organizations outside of Shambhala with expertise in restorative practices, gendered violence and abuse, and are feminist.

***

Attending to those who have been abused

I have been part of many conversations over the past year with women who have been abused in the Shambhala community. The stories of abuse are nothing short of horrific. Quite simply, the violence that has happened and the lack of response from the Shambhala organization has resulted in a profound corruption in the heart of our community over the lifespan of this community - since the early 1970’s.

There is a pattern that I personally experienced, and many women experienced, of being fiercely loyal to this community and taking every step imaginable to get support from community leaders. With the lack of responsiveness, for many of us,
the only sane response was to make the heart breaking decision to leave the community. It is not only the worst imaginable decision to have to make, but it is confounded by deep questions about breaking samaya for those of us who entered the Vajrayana path in Shambhala.


One teacher and survivor of abuse in Shambhala responded to things I wrote about samaya in this report, and I feel it is important to bring her words forward, with her permission:

I never ever feel that any of us have broken our samaya by leaving, speaking up, etc. I think that is a misunderstanding that is used to keep people quiet and afraid. I'm glad I saw that and I am so, so, so sorry you have that thought, and I hope we can either talk about that or just somehow that you can let that one dissolve into space. Your heart and mind are so luminous. Samaya isn't just keeping to outer things, or even practices. The violation is when someone abuses someone, turns someone away from the dharma, etc., all those things on the list, and the secret level is if you shut down the love in your own mind and make it an enemy, which obviously you haven't. So that's all off the top of my head, but for me it's a very sore point that is another form of abuse, to make people think they're breaking their samaya if they speak out, have to leave, etc.


Other abuse survivors have chosen to stay in the community, and it has been a challenging and confusing experience. There is a deep psychological challenge to stay in emotional connection with a community in which you were abused and the community either responded with lack of care, or worse, further abuse. You can read the impact statements a little further along in this report. Writing these initial impact statements was a huge first step for these people. I do not believe, however, that they communicate the profound trauma these people have experienced.

In some of the community discussions now happening, some are advocating for a trauma-informed healing model that integrates Shambhala values and wisdom. I believe this is absolutely necessary.

Furthermore, some women have been so devastated and have lost every last shred of hope that the Shambhala community could ever become a healthy place for them. For these women, we will need to offer a space for healing that is outside the community.

For these women to ever return, the community needs to become an emotionally safe place. This can be done, but it will take time and continuous effort to create this community taming. The community will need to embrace change and turn and face this demon of abuse. This effort will be worth it, for all of us. It is about creating a sane and healthy community for us and for the greater world that we serve.

Of note, I had no communication with any other second-generation members of this community. This remains a deeply hidden wound. I would like to see this community rouse the resource to have a dedicated person to seek out the lost generation, to see how they are, and to offer healing and support. I am haunted by the line in one of Trungpa Rinpoche’s songs, “Confident that our children see the Great Eastern Sun.” It haunts me because so many of our children are suffering in profound darkness. This is unacceptable, and it is time for us to bring healing and light to our lost second generation.

***

Identify the needs of various groups connected with this issue

We need to explore how to support the greater resilience and confidence of our Shambhala leaders. It is important that they have the supports needed as they step more fully into their role of providing leadership, collaboration and support for this process.

We need to support the work of the sangha abuse survivors. The survivors need to be heard. For those who have been forced to leave the community, when and if they want a pathway back into a respecting relationship within the sangha, then we need to find ways to facilitate a process for this.

And what about the children of Shambhala? In my view it is unacceptable that so many of the second generation of this community have been forced to leave the community due to being abused, scapegoated and shamed. This happened to me, and it has happened to unknown numbers of other young people. We need to set up a discovery process to find the lost children of this community and tend to their needs for healing and reconnection.

We need to stop protecting the abusers, and instead empower them to step into reconciliation processes where they can make rightful amends for their abuses. One senior Shambhala teacher suggested that since it has been many years since one of the primary child molesters was active that we should just move on. This teacher does not understand that the harm still lives: in those he abused, those who were impacted by his abuse, and he himself cannot act in full integrity as a Shambhala leader carrying the burden of unreconciled harm he has done within our community. Things do not magically disappear over time. And abuses continue to happen to this present day.
What is called for is for us to dig in deeper, create resource, embody this lineage of confidence, and clean up these situations for the overall health and well-being of our community.

Oppression through sexual violence has clear relationships with other forms of oppression, such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. Dialog needs to happen around the intersection of all forms of social violence happening within the Shambhala community.

Next steps for Project Sunshine

It is time to bring the light of the Great Eastern Sun to a widespread societal problem that exists also within our community. It is a matter of deciding to make a difference and then taking one small step after another. That is what I have done with Project Sunshine, and it has had measurable success in just one year. This project shows that it is possible to investigate, be curious, dialog, form alliances with those who were abused and with Shambhala leaders, and create inroads towards peace. Genuine peace. Peace that comes with pain and stepping through fears to create a space of greater and greater integrity.

I took this 1-year project on as one lone person who cares about the health of the Shambhala community. It was more work than I ever could have imagined! This has been done with my full heart, and I am grateful that I gave myself this gift, and that it will hopefully be received as a gift to the community.

My volunteer position radically scales down today. I will continue giving 5 hours of time a week to follow ups from the project, including fielding questions and contributing to the discussion in the Facebook forum that will be offered soon. If the community gathers energy to take further action needing a project manager, we will need to raise funds for that. But for now, let's just talk!

Let's talk – New buds & beginnings: A forum to discuss Project Sunshine

The most important next steps are to see who has the ability to step in to this conversation about healing sexualized violence, and has the staying power to stay with that conversation. So far I have seen a lot of people dip their toe in and then drop back into a place of denial and/or paralysis, or worse yet, condemning this work and trying to silence it. This is certainly an area that can be remedied partially by taking better care of ourselves (please see the section on self-care).

If you are interested in some of the ideas and approaches discussed in this report and want to be part of the solution, please join us in a moderated social media discussion forum.

First, we respectfully ask you to take one week for personal reflection, and we hope you will give the Horizon Analysis method a try. Then bring what you learned from your Horizon Analysis to our moderated Project Sunshine discussion forum opening on Thursday February 22nd. Watch the Project Sunshine webpage for the access link on February 22nd!


***

Appendix 5: Project Sunshine Shambhala Abuse Awareness Campaign

Note: This is the document sent out to people in 2017.

Project Sunshine is a one-year project that was launched on Shambhala Day 2017 to (1) establish a working body of concerned citizens to address the situation of sexual and social abuse in the Shambhala community, and (2) create a promotional campaign to start a productive conversation about this situation on a community-wide level.

We are actively seeking written submissions from survivors of abuse within the Shambhala community to be part of this abuse awareness campaign in 2018. As a survivor myself, I know this is a big thing to ask. This is about getting the community together to talk. We are gathering these stories because we want people to be emotionally affected by this.

The goal of this awareness campaign is to get the community thinking about this situation and for them to care.

This phase of the work is about raising awareness. This is not about accusing an individual. Creating structures for justice will follow, and that will be the right time to name the abusers.

Submissions are:

• Anonymous: no names and no historical features that reveal identities

• 1 page – 250 words - with two sections:
• Your Story – written with love and self-respect
• Impact – how has experiencing this abuse impacted your quality of life, including sense of well-being, relationships, finances, etc.

You can see two abuse story examples in the pages that follow. I am willing to assist with editing your story, if that will be helpful.

KI KI SO SO!
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Sat Feb 09, 2019 8:52 pm

Part 1 of 2

Buddhist Project Sunshine Final Report [PHASE 2] [EXCERPT]
A 3-month Initiative To Bring Healing Light To Sexualized Violence At The Core Of The Shambhala Buddhist Community
by Andrea M. Winn, MEd, MCS
With Collaborators: Richard Edelman, Carol Merchasin, J.D., Elizabeth Monson, PhD, and Women Survivors
June 28, 2018

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


What is Buddhist Project Sunshine?

Why I Started Buddhist Project Sunshine


I started this project out of compassion. Something has gone tragically wrong in the Shambhala community. We appear to have allowed abuse within our community for nearly four decades, and it is time to take practical steps to end it.

In early 2017 I came to a point in my life where I was ready to come out from under the rock of oppressive silence and bring change that has been long needed in the Shambhala community. I was sexually abused as a child by multiple perpetrators in our community. When I was a young adult, I spoke up about the community’s sexual abuse problem and was demonized by my local Shambhala center, ostracized and forced to leave. The shocking truth is that allegedly almost all of the young people in my age group were sexually harassed and/or sexually abused. I don't know the statistics on the generations of children after mine. What I do know is that many of us have left the community, and for those who have stayed, their voices have been unheard. Beyond child sexual abuse, it appears women and other vulnerable people continue to be abused in relationships with community leaders and by their sanghas.

I experienced profound abuse in this community, and I don't want to see it continue to happen to others like me. I saw a way to help through creating Buddhist Project Sunshine to establish a strong foundation for change.

Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 1

I launched Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 1, a one-year project, on Shambhala Day 2017 [February 27, 2017] to (1) establish a working body of concerned citizens to look into the suggestion of sexual and social abuse in the Shambhala community, and (2) create a promotional campaign to start a productive conversation about this situation on a community-wide level.

Phase 1 resulted in Shambhala International publicly declaring 'ABHORRENT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR' by Shambhala teachers. This initiated our community's healing process.

Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 2

It became clear to me that Shambhala International leaders were not grounded enough to help our community heal from the dynamics of sexual abuse. It is alleged that some of the worst abuse has been perpetrated by key Shambhala leaders, and therefore, more energy was likely to go into covering up the abuse than bringing it into the light. A woman emailed me who said she was abused by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. She shared the image of an apple that is rotten at the core, and she asked, how can the community heal if the core is rotten? I took her question to heart.

At the same time, Carol Merchasin, an experienced sexual misconduct investigator wrote to me saying,

"Andrea: You do not know me but I have watched what has gone on at Vajradhatu and then Shambhala since 1982 and I am glad there is some chance that sanity may now reign, even if Shambhala International does not have the fearlessness to confront the problems. I am a lawyer with many years of experience in sexual issues in the US workplace and I know that unless perpetrators are held to account, it is very hard for organizations to heal. I haven’t seen much willingness for SI to do that. Just know that there are folks out here supporting you."


Receiving messages like these showed me the next step was to reveal the alleged clergy sexual misconduct of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. It is important to acknowledge that Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche perpetrated equally damaging abuses, and his actions will definitely need to be held to account as well in our community's healing process. However, in discussion with Carol Merchasin, it became clear that the place to start is with the current living teacher, who can be held to account for his actions.

A third major player came forward at this time, Richard Edelman, who has done years of research into the history of abuse in Tibetan Buddhism, the broader spectrum of trauma and abuse happening in Buddhist communities in the West, and the nature of cult dynamics within Buddhist communities.

At that point I asked Carol Merchasin to do a preliminary investigation into the alleged clergy sexual misconduct of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and I asked Richard Edelman to assist me in overseeing the investigation. I can assure you that this investigation was done with care, professionalism and thoroughness. I have complete confidence in the findings.

We presented the findings to Shambhala International's mediator, Kathleen Franco, on May 24th, with our direct call for the Kalapa Council to hire a third-party neutral investigator to conduct a full investigation into the allegations of Sakyong Mipham's sexual assaults and sexual misconduct. It has been more than a month, and we have still received no response from Shambhala International to the findings or our call for an investigation. I now respectfully present the findings to the Shambhala community in the memo attached to the end of this report.


***

Stories From Women Survivors of Sakyong Mipham's Alleged Clergy Sexual Misconduct

A number of women came forward to be interviewed for the Buddhist Project Sunshine preliminary investigation of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. You will find the results of this investigation in Appendix 5.

Some, but not all, of these women were also willing to write their story and the impact the alleged abuse had on them for this report. They did this to help the community more fully understand the depth of the problem we must now face so we can make informed decisions as we move forward as a community.

Anonymous Story & Impact Statement #1

Some months ago, I read Project Sunshine’s Phase I report. What powerfully stood out for me were the impact statements of those who had experienced sexual abuse within the Shambhala Buddhist mandala. It was the heartbreaking details – from what happened, to how what happened had affected and continues to affect the lives of those women and men who suffered these abuses and transgressions, that pierced my heart and branded themselves in my mind’s eye. How true it is that the devil is in the details! For this reason, I have decided to write my own impact statement – so that light may be brought into a darkness that has persisted over many years and to encourage anyone who reads this statement to learn the truth about not only the abuses described, but also to peer into the larger culture of collusion and blindness that has functioned to sanction and excuse such abuses. This impact statement seeks to present both a description of SMR’s sexual misconduct as well as the larger context in which the events and experiences I experienced unfolded.

The first time I saw Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, I knew he was my teacher – not just a teacher for this life, but a teacher I had known before and with whom I was now reconnecting in this lifetime. I sobbed with joy after my first conversation with him – a conversation whose content was irrelevant to my sense that our communication had nothing to do with what was said, but that it was part of a larger recognition of the open wisdom and compassion that forms the bedrock of our lives. From that day on, I turned my entire life toward the Dharma and toward my teacher. I did whatever I could to offer myself to the Shambhala world and to serve SMR.

Over years I studied, practiced, and trained to serve. I completed almost every practice available in the Shambhala Buddhist mandala. I studied every text. In particular, I trained in service to the Shambhala mandala on multiple levels. First, I trained as a server in the Sakyong’s household. It was in serving in this role, often late at night at banquets or dinner parties that extended into the wee hours, that I first saw the patterns of heavy drinking that I later became intimately familiar with. As I moved up through the ranks of service, I was around SMR more and more. I trained as a kasung and as a kusung-in-training. I left behind my secular life, my friends, and almost my family. Shambhala was my world, my home, my deepest joy. I loved serving, I loved practicing, I loved studying. My dearest friends were sangha. At the center of all of this was my teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

I provide this background as context for what happened. Shambhala was my world and the inner mandala was my home.

Over these years another story played itself out. Part of this story, the part I take responsibility for, was my romantic fantasy of a Tibetan Buddhist guru who could see in and through me, who intimately knew exactly who I was and who could and would orchestrate whatever conditions were required to wake me up. The other part of the story was the clergy sexual misconduct enacted by the Sakyong and condoned, supported and hidden by those who served him.

From early on, I watched myself and others (both men and women) strive to secure a place near SMR. One way this dynamic evolved took place around the “parties” that occurred wherever SMR was staying. Sometimes there would be only one party, other times more. These parties formed a secret world behind the regular programs and events of SMR’s visits to different centers. They lingered in the shadows, tantalizing us with their promises of unusual and intimate experiences with the otherwise distant-seeming guru. To be invited to such a party signaled a kind of acceptance to the inner mandala, the secret mandala. When I first began to be invited to these parties, I was elated. I felt as though my devotion was being recognized and acknowledged and that I now genuinely “belonged.”

The parties all followed a similar pattern. They began with socializing and drinking, music and banter. At some point food was served and the drinking continued. Most of us became highly intoxicated, but few so much as SMR himself. The more intoxicated he became, the more he demonstrated various kinds of outrageous activities – spontaneous poetry competitions, long monologues, harangues of some people who had displeased him. Alongside these (mostly) harmless demonstrations, SMR also pursued another activity. He went after whichever woman took his fancy.

For me, this manifested in an experience that occurred repeatedly over years. When he was completely intoxicated, SMR would pull me into a dark corner. He kissed me and groped me while aggressively encouraging me to come to bed with him. Most of the time, another woman who had been invited to the party was already present. For me to comply with SMR’s wishes, I would have had to displace this other woman. Knowing how painful this would be for her, I couldn’t do it. Year after year, I resisted. There was only one night that I slept in SMR’s bed. There had been no girlfriend present that night. He was so drunk that I spent much of the night holding a bowl for him to vomit into. I snuck out of the room before dawn feeling bewildered and ashamed. Several days later, when he had recovered from the alcohol and I saw him, there was no mention of what had happened. Indeed, there was never any mention of these encounters.


This pattern continued year after year. Trying to make sense of how he could desire me while drunk, but act as if this abuse had never happened the rest of the time, I became more and more confused about what devotion to the teacher meant. And since I was often present at the court, I began to recognize another repeating pattern. This pattern consisted of SMR calling women to his bedroom, spending intimate time with them, and then losing interest. Without any warning or communication, they would be dismissed. This pattern occurred with women SMR culled from seminaries for one-night stands, sending out the Kusung to bring one or another newbie to his bed and it also occurred with longer-term girlfriends. All these women were one moment close and the next minute invisible.

Observing this pattern and experiencing the push and pull of his intoxicated desire for me, my sense of devotion became mixed with ordinary emotional needs to be seen, appreciated, valued, and wanted. I never had any strong sexual desire for SMR, but, I wanted to be special and indispensable. I wanted to be “the one” that was never discarded or abandoned and, for many years, by keeping myself at arm’s length, I believed that I had found a way to stay protected from the pattern of harm that I saw him repeatedly enact.

At the same time, this kind of sexual intimacy appeared as the primary way that an attractive woman could be valued or recognized. Although this horrified me, because he was my teacher, I harbored fear that if I resisted his desires, I would be exiled – I would lose the Dharma, lose my friends, lose my teacher, lose my world. Like so many other women, I continued to hope that he would eventually realize that I was his true consort. I clung to the idea that an intimacy would eventually develop between us outside of drunken midnight groping. But, year after year, this same pattern continued and, year after year, I found myself struggling to rationalize his behavior by telling myself I was being shown the patterns of my own poverty mentality and grasping, my desire for recognition and connection. These patterns were wrong and SMR’s actions were meant to purge me of them.

Finally, however, common sense and the reality of how ashamed, anguished, and bewildered I felt prompted me to speak out. I could no longer rationalize what was happening. After one particularly egregious night, I spoke my mind. I told him, after he’d recovered from his hangover three days later, that if he thought I was waiting around for him to ask me to marry him, he could think again. I told him that I’d seen how he treated women and I wanted no part of it. Years of frustration and wondering what he wanted from me bubbled up. As I spoke, SMR sat with a stunned look on his face and for some time said nothing. When he finally did speak, he said that he was sorry, that he had not meant to hurt me. That was it. He left the room. From that time on, he never spoke to me privately again and bit by bit, I was pushed from the inner circle. There was never any form of clear communication but slowly and steadily I was dismissed, my jobs were taken over by others, and I found myself grasping at clues trying to figure out what was happening. A staff member eventually confirmed that I was being dismissed and he himself would be taking over my tasks.

My final meeting with SMR took place about a year after the incident where I told him what I really thought about his treatment of women. He was sitting in his father’s old bedroom. I was on the floor. I begged him to tell me if he didn’t want me around anymore. I asked him to tell me the truth. I acknowledged that hearing the truth would be hard for me, that I didn’t want to leave, but that knowing was far preferable to trying to figure it out in the dark. He got up and walked out of the room.

When SMR walked away, after so many years and so much work, after so much time together and sense of connection, when he abandoned me with so much ease and without a second thought, I was devastated.
Had I made this whole thing all up? Was it all just a one-sided daydream? I doubted everything about the Dharmic connection I had before felt so much confidence in. I found myself in a miasma of distrust of my own intuition, those deeper levels of knowing. I questioned all the times he had drawn me aside, alone, or with others, to talk to us about his plans for his first teachers, describing how we would be his first teachers, trained by him to teach in the Dharma as we received it from him. I was tortured recalling how it seemed that I was only desirable to him when he was drunk and that my primary value was as an object to be groped and seduced.

And there was no one to turn to. As soon as I was dismissed, the inner court and almost all my “friends” turned their backs on me as if I never existed. I was ghosted, ignored, and at the few programs I attended in a desperate effort to reconnect, those who had been my closest friends were cool, distant, and even actively unfriendly. The few public conversations I had with SMR were brief and general. I continued to struggle with the feeling that I had done something wrong.

When I think back on these events now, I wonder that I was willing to endure these experiences for so long. SMR played this game with me for many years, holding me at a distance, bringing me in close, and dangling me out again. I had tried strategies to break this cycle of torture by distancing myself from him and engaging in other romantic relationships. All along, I wondered what I would do if he ever truly beckoned me in a real way to be with him. By a real way, I mean, in the light of day, with full faculties and honesty, a genuine and real communication of the heart rather than the surreptitious midnight liaisons from which the woman must sneak away before dawn so as not to be seen or known to have been with him. I had seen so many women have that experience. I was there when women were brought to SMR in the middle of night and pushed out the door before dawn to stumble back to their beds and await his choice for the next night. Wondering if they would be chosen again. Waiting day after day to see where his fancy might fall.

At one point, SMR asked me to take care of some of the women and to try to help them “understand.” Understand what, I never quite knew and even if I had “understood” what could I say? But, like a good student and sycophant, I tried to help others with the emotional distress they were experiencing, particularly when it became clear that SMR was about to turn his back on them.

Writing this now, I can still feel the bafflement that has been with me ever since SMR turned his back on me as my teacher. I genuinely believed in the understanding of samaya between the guru and the student that states that samaya is a two-way street in which both teacher and student uphold and support the connection. When SMR turned his back on me because I told him what I thought about how he treated women, it was clear that there was no room for honesty, no room for genuine communication and no room for the exposure and purification of neuroses. One was either with SMR all the way or out. I had believed that SMR and I shared a deep level of both intellectual and non-conceptual intimacy. I had felt this connection in my bones, my blood, my skin. It wasn’t a conceptual thought, it was a deep awakening in my nature that resonated with the Dharma as it came through him. I had trusted this intuitive level of my being, deeply trusted it, and had relied on it for protection from the surface whims and painful vicissitudes of his desires. And then it was gone.

Since those days, I have had to rebuild my dharma path from the bottom up. For many years, I struggled in silence and shame, without anyone to confide in or rely on for help. It was only when I finally realized that the Dharma could never be taken away from me, that it was folded into the very marrow of my bones, that I began to recover some semblance of confidence and clarity. This confidence has allowed me to reclaim my path and to turn the abuse and pain I experienced into a catalyst for growth and compassion. It is my hope that by sharing my story, others who have experienced similar, and often, much more egregious and harmful experiences with SMR will feel encouraged to find healing and resolution.

I continue to hope that deep down, SMR possesses the kind of integrity, compassion and wisdom that I had believed him to possess. I pray that he can find the courage to take responsibility for the harm he has caused. It is unconscionable that he should be speaking of intolerance for sexual misconduct without taking responsibility for all the years of his own enactment of clergy sexual misconduct with so many women. Even if he is no longer engaging in these kinds of activities at this present moment, what about those women who experienced abuse from him for many years who have suffered in silence, isolation and shame? Isn’t their suffering just as important now as it was then? The excuse that all of this happened many years ago holds no water. Wouldn’t the three daughters of SMR want to know that their father cares about the welfare and the spiritual paths of all his students - male, female, transgender, gender-fluid, etc.? Harm was experienced. I experienced it. My honesty is what lost me my home in Shambhala and any sense of a genuine connection with my teacher, who could not face the truth of his actions.


Anonymous Story & Impact Statement #2

When I first learned of Project Sunshine and the conversation that was happening on Facebook I became completely engrossed, reading all that I could find. I was surprised to see that there seemed to be no mention of the Sakyong in the conversation except for people saying how relieved they were that this pattern of abusive behavior was isolated to the old days of the Vidyadhara. Reading through the discussion made me realize how much I longed to hear from other women like myself who had kept the shameful secret of the Sakyongs’ behavior to myself for all these years.

Over many years I had several sexual encounters with the Sakyong that left me feeling ashamed, demoralized and worthless. Like many young women in the sangha, I was deeply devoted to the Sakyong and did whatever I could to serve him and be close to him. I witnessed the steady stream of attractive women that were invited into his quarters and I longed to be the one that he fell in love with and was worthy of being his wife.

During a program you could often tell who the Sakyong was going to pursue that night by who he made eye contact with during the teaching or feast. One night I received a call from his kusung at 11pm or 12pm saying that the Sakyong would like to see me and that I should come to his suite. I was thrilled and nervous. When I got there, he was dressed solely in a robe with no clothes underneath. We chatted for a while. Then he led me into his room and began kissing me and removing my clothes. I said that I couldn’t have sex with him. He seemed stunned. He thought for a while and then pushed my face down towards his penis and said “Well you might as well finish this.” I was so embarrassed and horrified I did it. He rolled over in bed and didn’t say another word to me.

On another occasion I was invited to a dinner party where the Sakyong was encouraging everyone to drink a lot. He then insisted that we take off our clothes. He led one woman into his bedroom while the rest of us danced. After a while his kusung came out to get me to come to the Sakyong’s bedroom. I went into the room and discovered the Sakyong and the woman on his bed having sex. He said to me “She won’t come. Do something to help.” I stood there stunned and he said “Play with her tits. Do something.”

On another occasion I was serving in the household and took some tea to him in his bedroom where he was watching tv. He asked me to sit down with him on the bed.
He was only wearing a bathrobe. After a while he opened his robe to reveal his penis and said “I was hoping you could help me out.” Again, I did it and felt completely disgusted with myself, but I was so conflicted with doing what my teacher asked of me, feeling so devoted to him and not wanting to displease him or fall from his graces. This time especially felt even more demeaning as I was in uniform. More and more it felt like he had no interest in me or my well-being. Only his pleasure.


For years I struggled with these memories and my devotion to him as my guru and the brilliant teacher I believed him to be. I pushed them aside, instead internalizing the tremendous shame and feelings of unworthiness.

It has been one of the great heartbreaks of my life to leave the Shambhala Sangha. It was my life and my family for so many years but I could no longer hold the dichotomy of the Sakyong as my guru and a man who made me feel like I meant nothing.


A Last-minute Story Submission

A second generation Shambhalian, or “dharma brat,” wanted to contribute her story at the last minute after she saw the Sakyong’s "apology" letter (See Appendix 3). She gave me permission to re-print something she shared previously in another forum.

Hello friends.

The last 6 months have been both treacherous and clarifying as conversations have unfolded, dragged on and danced around the topic of Shambhala sexual abuse. I have often thought it deserves its own unique brand. It’s as if a collective community trauma has been triggered and we are drawn to replay, revisit, deny and avoid patterns that seem so engrained to the community. I've watched, listened and engaged in these conversations both online and off— some held really close and privately, some that spread far. I have followed and at various points engaged both Project Sunshine and Shambhala Initiatives to Address Harm and the various strategies being churned up this time around. After being harassed and manipulated to ultimately STFU [Shut the Fuck Up] (sometimes asked really kindly) by ‘friends,’ court staff and various leaders (of which pretty much everyone is), after being given this “incredible opportunity” to stand in the deep river of this community’s relationship to sexual abuse and feel how its currents continue to impact me, I realize that the (false) hope I had reignited for change in December has died.

I was sexually assaulted by the Sakyong in the kitchen of the Halifax Kalapa Court after his wife, the Sakyong Wangmo, retired for the night with her first daughter, following the celebration of her first birthday in August, 2011. This experience was traumatic for me. It took place one year after we welcomed Jetsun Drukmo home on that very lawn. It also marked the one year anniversary of meeting my then partner, who stood in the same room as me that night and watched, did nothing, turned the other way. As time went on, the community’s formal responses and members’ processes of relating to this disclosure and fact have overall exacerbated my confusion and suffering and eroded my mind and body’s health. The responses and denials continue to trigger me and prevent me from moving on from that harm and I believe are preventing the community from its own “healing”. It is truly sad, hard and painful for me to admit this and I would encourage people who deeply care about this community and this family you serve to realize that nothing can change if it doesn’t begin with honesty and recognition of the facts and factors we are working with. The Sakyong’s Chief of Staff is most certainly aware of this incident of “sexual misconduct” despite what he has said to the contrary and to the Project Sunshine Mediator. Kalapa Council members know about this sexual misconduct, one of whom was supposed to be my MI around this time but never followed up. I have told several personally. And I know I am not the only one.

For me, these past 6 months have strengthened relations, turned up new alliances, softened family members and neighbors, challenged, stretched and at times snapped long-held friendships. I have wondered if and how connections with those I adore and appreciate could continue and be cultivated, how our experience of our relationships might have meaning beyond and regardless of our relationship to Shambhala. I met a lot of you through training, practicing, staffing, being socialized in and socializing as an adult in the community and with community members. And although I love you dearly, the Sakyong and his family included (and this is actually true—it’s pretty fucked up), I can't keep “doing” Shambhala and shambhala as we have been taught and are restricted to do it anymore. I know this because it forces me to twist my heart in ways I know it should not have to be twisted. I know there are many meaningful connections with those I’ve met ‘there’ and I invite you to continue to cultivate those with me without the filter of Shambhala the Thing, The Project.

Come be a friend, become a Velveteen —please do. But please don’t ask me to grapple with this experience through a Shambhala lens. Please consider the contradictions in your practice of the teachings if you have to omit the teacher. I cannot have the guru suspended from teaching duties and remove his body, speech and mind from the throne at programs where he tells me how and what to do with my mind, like you might an abusive Acharya or a sangha member. So because none of these initiatives are addressing the Sakyong and the community is not willing to include him in the remedies being touted, I have no choice but to step away. Don’t come to me and ask me to explain my experience in detail, don’t tell me write it up or file a report, don’t propose mediation, don’t try to pull me in and close to keep me quiet, don’t tell me I’m breaking samaya when it has already been broken by him. The labour required to repair that relationship from his end will require much more than a private meeting. Stop coming to me and asking me to talk about my traumatic experience in your way, or on the terms of Shambhala the organization, the vision, the Sakyong. Don’t tell me to not have any dark hidden corners of my mind and then insist Shambhala and the Sakyong need some. Don’t instruct me to lean in and visualize and dissolve into someone who deeply violated not just my physical/sexual boundaries, but who took advantage of my spiritual boundaries/experience/practice too. Don’t tell me to push myself to the brink of suicide and just accept it because Marpa was abusive. Stop accusing me of wanting the headlines, attention or money. I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to become really familiar with all the tactics over the course of my life and I can see them — including “kindness”—coming a mile away. I will not keep grappling and replaying this by conceptualizing or justifying trauma as Tibetan crazy wisdom. I will not keep quiet and pretend it’s all ok by embodying some fucked up version of British colonial denial. But what I will do is invite you to be a friend, and I will be yours if you become real.

Love, always,


(The woman's name has been omitted)

Note: If you are a woman who feels she has been abused by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, please see Appendix 4, as we are organizing a healing group for you.

Preparing For What Is Ahead

How Have Other Buddhist Communities Dealt With Learning The Leader/Guru Was Abusing His Students? – Richard Edelman


I asked Richard Edelman to contribute some words to give context for what we are going through as a community right now in Shambhala. I hope you will find Richard's perspective helpful.
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

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Part 2 of 2

SANGHAS AND SCANDALS

The way that a Buddhist group responds to revelations of clergy sexual misconduct or other unethical behavior can make a big difference for those who have suffered and can have powerful consequences for the well-being and survival of Buddhism and Buddhists globally. This situation is real, global, and historic and is not going away. It is therefore important to know which responses benefit or harm human beings, including dharma practitioners, and also which benefit the Sangha and Buddhadharma, including their integrity, and which produce catastrophic consequences.

We can distill vital lessons from exploring how various sanghas have responded to revelations of clergy misconduct.

Joshu Sasaki Roshi

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a major pioneer of Zen in America and founder of one of the largest American Zen communities, indulged in many decades of “frequent and repeated nonconsensual groping of female students during interviews, to sexually coercive after hours ‘tea meetings,’ to affairs and sexual interference in the marriages and relations of his students.” According to his New York Times obituary, he was a “tainted Zen master” who coerced hundreds into sex with him, resulting in many wrongful excommunications and painful departures from his community during the decades when his circle of complicity colluded in his abuse. According to reporting by Tricycle, his behavior was “hushed up, downplayed, justified, and defended by the monks and students that remained loyal to him.” Thus the community surrounding Joshu Sasaki Roshi covered up his sexual misconduct for decades, colluded in the revictimization of those he abused, and were complicit in many painful departures from the community. None of this coverup succeeded and the truth inevitably emerged into the light of day and became public knowledge. Sasaki Roshi died in 2014 and today his community and reputation are deeply damaged due to collusion and complicity in massive sexual abuse, leaving a profoundly tainted legacy and a questionable capacity to benefit sentient beings.

Sogyal Rinpoche

Sogyal Rinpoche has been among the ranks of the most famous Tibetan lamas in the world and his Rigpa community has been one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist communities in the world for many years. The first public revelations regarding Sogyal’s abusive behavior arose during the early 1990’s when Sogyal was sued by one of his female American students and settled out of court. Over twenty years later, a group of eight of his senior students published an open letter decrying his “unethical and immoral,” “abusive and violent behavior,” “physical, emotional, and psychological abuse of students,” “sexual abuse of students,” and “lavish, gluttonous, and sybaritic lifestyle,” concluding that Sogyal’s “actions have tainted our appreciation for the practice.” Sogyal would be one of the first of several Tibetan lamas exposed for clergy sexual misconduct, including Lama Norlha, Thomas Rich, and others. Although Rigpa attempted to do damage control, when an audience of thousands witnessed Sogyal punching a nun in the belly, a global public condemnation ensued. Sogyal and Rigpa became the paradigm case for abusive gurus and their circles of complicity and collusion, a model of disgraced dharma. The Dalai Lama himself has publicly denounced Sogyal as a disgrace, and vehemently criticized the conditions, beliefs, and behaviors which allow Sogya-llike behavior to fester and damage sentient beings.

Eido Shimano Roshi

Eido Shimano Roshi, also one of the early pioneering Zen roshis in America, sexually abused his students almost upon arrival in America during the early 1960s, resulting right from the start in some of his female victims suffering nervous breakdowns which required hospitalization. According to Robert Aitken Roshi, Shimano’s original sponsor and host in America, Shimano was guilty of the “ruthless exploitation” of women. Shimano Roshi’s toxic behavior was kept secret by his circle of complicity and collusion, enabling him to become the “pillar” of New York City Zen and one of the major Zen roshis of our time, gathering a large dharma community around him, all the while continuing his abuse of women. According to students quoted in an investigative journalism article published in the Atlantic, Shimano especially targeted women he perceived as vulnerable. In 1979, letters by students both named and anonymous began calling Shimano out but were ignored by the sangha leadership. By 1982, when the board president tried to rally the board to address the problem, he was ignored and then resigned. Nearly thirty years later, new revelations again surfaced, and Shimano was forced to apologize and resign. In 2011, Shimano’s community dismissed him as their teacher and in 2012, the Japanese headquarters of his lineage disenfranchised any Zen qualifications of Shimano or his dharma heirs. After over fifty years of the coverup of his sexual misconduct, Shimano and his entire enterprise were ruined and stripped of any lineage affiliation. Shimano died in 2018, his life and teaching disgraced.

TAIZEN MAEZUMI ROSHI

Taizan Maezumi Roshi, also among the pioneering masters who introduced Zen practice and sangha to America, was also the teacher of many great American Zen teachers, including Bernard Tetsugen Glassman, Joan Jiko Halifax, Jan Chozen Bays, John Daido Loori, Peter Muryo Mathiesssen, and others. In 1983, Maezumi Roshi remorsefully issued a public acknowledgement of his own alcoholism and entered recovery. During this time, revelations emerged regarding extramarital affairs Maezumi had been having with some of his students, for which he also repented. Although his sangha erupted in crisis, they did not cover up his behavior or silence those damaged by it. Although his sangha shrank in members and property, his life as a teacher and his reputation recovered and now the seeds he planted flourish around the world. He and his community are an example of how a brilliant yet very human spiritual master can address his imperfections and misdeeds and recover to benefit sentient beings.

SAN FRANCISCO ZEN CENTER

The San Francisco Zen Center was founded by another pioneering luminary of American Zen, Suzuki Roshi. Suzuki Roshi died in 1970 and was succeeded by his dharma heir, Richard Baker Roshi. The San Francisco Zen Center and its many enterprises flourished under Baker Roshi’s guidance, but he was forced to resign as abbot in 1984 upon disclosures of his inappropriate sexual behavior with various women, as well as his reported extravagant lifestyle, abuse of power, and other issues. Baker left the sangha and eventually founded another sangha. He much later acknowledged that he had been unconscious of his “insecurity and self-importance” which was a “bad dynamic in the community.” Following his resignation as its abbot, the San Francisco Zen sangha then switched to a democratically elected leadership model and flourished. Baker Roshi went on to receive significant acknowledgement of his teaching gifts and later reconciled with the San Francisco Zen Community. Like the Los Angeles Zen Center, the San Francisco Zen Center did not silence critics or victims but addressed their concern and instituted reforms empowering itself to move forward as a highly regarded and flourishing sangha.

SANGHAS BEYOND SCANDALS

It should be clear from these and other sangha scandals that colluding with the perpetrator in a circle of complicity to cover up misdeeds and silence victims and critics doesn’t work. Fortunately, sooner or later, the truth comes to light, and the sooner the better. Failure to face the challenge of clergy sexual abuse with integrity, candor, and authentic compassion, failure to walk the talk of the dharma, inevitably results in great damage to those harmed and in disaster for sanghas and the dharma overall. This is the first of many lessons we can distill from the experiences of sanghas which have addressed this challenge with integrity and from those which have not. This is a challenge of global and historic significance which is not going away. The Buddhadharma is transitioning into a very challenged world and its future may well be influenced by how it meets the scandals which emerge from within its own sanghas.

Excerpted from Trauma and Dharma
Copyright 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Richard Edelman


***

Dealing With The Allegations Regarding Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Given the information obtained during the preliminary investigation, a full investigation must now be initiated by Shambhala International into the alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assaults by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. A neutral third-party investigator must be hired, and that this third-party investigator work in collaboration with Buddhist Project Sunshine's investigator.


In addition to this initial first step, the Buddhist Project Sunshine team spent time envisioning what could lie beyond a completed investigation. These are the kinds of things the community will need to come to grips with should a full investigation find these findings have been validated. Depending on the results of a full investigation, there are many avenues and/or remedies that could be undertaken, for instance:

1. Sakyong Mipham and Shambhala International pay a large settlement to fund healing programs for the survivors of his abuse and women survivors of sexual abuse by other leaders in the community. We know that he owns significant assets, and that assets could be sold to pay such a settlement.

2. SMR and SI fund the continued work of Buddhist Project Sunshine, an organization that has a proven track record of working to change the culture that has allowed these problems to rise up.

3. SMR enters into appropriate rehabilitation for a suitably extended period of time before engaging with the Shambhala community and his students again.

4. A truth and reconciliation process be designed to bring reconciliation between Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and the women who were abused, and with the greater Shambhala community.


At the same time, Buddhist Project Sunshine encourages women who feel they were sexually abused by Sakyong Mipham to consider filing civil and criminal lawsuits, if this feels like the right course of action for restoring integrity for themselves and their relationship with Shambhala.

***

Buddhist Project Sunshine Offers A Leading Edge Moderated Discussion Forum In June and July 2018

Buddhist Project Sunshine is hosting a thriving moderated discussion group, including healthy discussion threads about Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s abuses and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s abuses. I (Andrea Winn) have specialized in the research and development of distance healing programs for the past 7 years. I have brought the best of what I know to designing a leading edge moderated discussion forum for anyone with a heart connection to Shambhala, so you can receive support for digesting this information and envisioning a bright future for yourself personally, and for the community. Learn more and register at: http://andreamwinn.com/offerings/projec ... ion_group/ [DISCUSSION GROUP 404 NOT FOUND ON 2/14/19]

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Next steps for Buddhist Project Sunshine

I began working on Project Sunshine in January 2017. It has been over a year and a half of gruelling work. I put my heart out in this way in the hope that genuine healing can happen for the Shambhala community. I am grateful for the healing that has already begun. At the same time I have gone into personal financial debt of $37,500. Therefore, as Buddhist Project Sunshine is coming to the end of the funds raised, I am going on a semi-sabbatical as of Friday June 29th as I begin a small paid job to make money to support myself. I will continue to host the Buddhist Project Sunshine Discussion Forum through July 31st, as promised.

In light of financial uncertainty, and in the hopes that Buddhist Project Sunshine can continue, I am initiating a dialog with a number of people who contributed to Phase 2. We will explore possibilities for group leadership of the project. All decisions about the future or possible closing of the project will be announced on the Buddhist Project Sunshine community email list.

***

Appendix 4: A Call To Women Who Feel They Have Been Abused By Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

We believe in the power of safe sharing to open a space for healing, connection, and community.

This announcement is a compassionate call to women who feel they have experienced any form of sexualized violence or clergy sexual misconduct by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. Clergy sexual misconduct is defined as sexual advances or propositions made by religious leaders to a person in the congregations they serve who is not their spouse or significant other.

The goal of this announcement is to begin to provide a safe resource for women who may have experienced abuse or misconduct by SMR. We intend to start a healing group this Fall (Fall 2018) to provide a space for women to be able to share their stories, to emerge from the silent shadow of shame and isolation, to consider questions, fears, and concerns about samaya, and to, if desired, rediscover the power of honest, compassionate and transparent community. If you would like to be on the contact list for the group beginning this Fall, please sign up at:

http://andreamwinn.com/offerings/smr-ab ... ing-group/

(Note: this group is not being offered by Andrea Winn herself, but Andrea is providing an administrative startup for the group)

***

Appendix 5: Memo of Findings of Buddhist Project Sunshine's Preliminary Investigation Into the Clergy Sexual Misconduct of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche - Carol Merchasin, J.D

MEMORANDUM

TO: ANDREA WINN/PROJECT SUNSHINE

FROM: CAROL MERCHASIN

SUBJECT: REPORT AND FINDINGS OF THE SHAMBHALA PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

DATE: JUNE 28, 2018

CC: RICHARD EDELMAN

Background of the Preliminary Investigation, April 2018

Buddhist Project Sunshine (hereafter “BPS”) is an initiative begun by Andrea Winn to shed light on the sexual harm that has been done in the Shambhala International (“SI”) community. The initial BPS Report (“the Report”) was published on February 15, 2018, and appeared in various media outlets, including Andrea’s own blog and Tricycle magazine.

I saw the report and several subsequent blog posts in early April 2018 and I reached out to Andrea. I had never met her, but I knew how lonely and isolating it can be to come forward and press these issues. As a retired employment lawyer, I had conducted countless investigations into sexual misconduct in the workplace, and I wanted to encourage her to turn her information over to SI so they could conduct a full, independent, and transparent investigation. However, by that time, all communication between Andrea and SI had stopped.

I offered to look over the allegations that had been raised during Phase I of BPS and assess whether there were any that could be investigated. For example, claims of sexual misconduct against Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (“CTR”) would be impossible to investigate as too much time has passed and CTR is deceased. For this reason, I set a time limit of 25 years as the time frame for allegations I was willing to investigate. We also agreed that we would not pursue any allegations that had already been resolved by SI, even if those resolutions were not entirely satisfactory. Those would be a lower priority.

Most importantly, I informed Andrea that while I would do a preliminary investigation, I could not conduct a full investigation, for the following reasons:

1. No investigation is complete without interviewing the accused party so that he or she has an opportunity to tell their own version of events. However, I had no access to anyone within SI.

2. A full investigation seeks to corroborate claims through witnesses, contemporaneous conversations about the events, documents like email and/or texts that support (or do not support) the accuser’s statement. I would not have full access to such corroborating people and documents. A full investigation therefore might be necessary to fully corroborate allegations.

I also informed Andrea that I would be independent of BPS and if I did not find that that an allegation was credible, I would be reporting that fact. I would not base findings on rumors. If I did not have enough information to make a finding, I would be reporting that.

Andrea asked me to proceed with a preliminary investigation. The goal was to decide what allegations could be investigated, conduct interviews, assess the credibility of the accusers, seek corroboration through any documents or witnesses and look for patterns of behavior. This information would then be turned over to SI to encourage them to retain a neutral professional to do a complete investigation in cooperation with BPS.


May 2018 – The Preliminary Investigation into the Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

The initial BPS Report published in February 2018 did not include any allegations against the Sakyong. But by May 2018, women with new allegations came forward. They had seen the Report in the press, and they wanted their voices to be heard. Their claims were all within the established criteria – within 25 years and never resolved. They were all against the Sakyong.

These allegations took priority. In my experience, no organization can begin to address sexual abuse issues if the sexual harm is being perpetrated by the top leadership and especially if it also involves the complicity of other leaders.
Indeed, even the mere perception of this type of sexual misconduct and complicity can create enormous and lasting damage.

The Allegations Investigated

I investigated the following allegations:

1) That the Sakyong sexually assaulted a number of women,

2) That he used kusung to procure women for his own sexual pleasure, not for any spiritual purpose,

3) That he and others retaliated against at least one woman who declined his advances,

4) That kusung, other leaders and the Kalapa Council (“KC”) knew about and were complicit in enabling these assaults, and

5) That when the Sakyong was accused of raping a woman while he was teaching in Chile, SI leaders conspired to keep this allegation secret as well as to get the Sakyong sober.

Credibility, Corroboration and Patterns of Behavior:

In the preliminary investigation, I interviewed the women accusing the Sakyong as well as some corroborating witnesses. I considered three things in those interviews, as I do in every investigation:

1. Credibility: When assessing credibility, I am alert to evasiveness, inconsistency, any evident bias, any motive to lie, vested interests, the inherent plausibility of the allegation and the level of detail of the allegation.

2. Corroboration: Corroboration is persuasive of truth. When there was someone or something else that could corroborate the allegations, and if I could get access to that person or documents, I investigated. I did the corroboration that was available to me but more could be done in a full investigation.

3. Establishing patterns of behavior: When the accounts told by unrelated accusers (as is the case here) establish a pattern of behavior, it is strong evidence that the allegations are true. Two or more independent reports of the same type of misconduct is a known indicator of a credible claim. In this preliminary investigation, a very strong pattern of misconduct emerged.

The Meeting with the Mediator

In May 2018, SI retained Kathleen Franco, a Boulder attorney/mediator to conduct what was termed a mediation between SI and BPS. Although it was not clear what could be mediated, BPS recognized this as an opportunity to re-establish a channel of communication with SI. And, what emerged was that BPS and SI shared a common goal: that there be no perpetrators of sexual misconduct among the Shambhala leadership.

Andrea Winn, Richard Edelman and I met with Ms. Franco on May 24, 2018 via videoconference. I reported the following:

1. As a retired employment lawyer, I was doing a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by the Sakyong;

2. The women I interviewed had made credible allegations of sexual assault and/or sexual abuse by the Sakyong;

3. I had been able to corroborate some of the claims, specifically 1) that of kusung involvement in procuring women for sex and 2) some corroboration of two of the sexual assault allegations;

4. The allegations pointed to a pattern of behavior: that the Sakyong sexually assaulted women when drunk and used kusung to procure women students for his own sexual gratification. And that SI was aware of these actions and did nothing.

5. There are also allegations that the Kalapa Council and other leaders ignored, suppressed, and covered up sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct claims.

Later I informed Ms. Franco of an additional allegation from a woman who had just come forward with a report of an alleged rape by the Sakyong of a woman in Chile. By agreement, we did not disclose this to SI. The allegation of a rape is just an allegation that is second or third hand at best. I have no means of determining whether it is true or false or whether it can even be investigated. However, this credible, first-hand report of a conspiracy to cover-up should be part of a full investigation.

The Findings of the Preliminary Investigation (“The Findings”)

The Allegations That the Sakyong Sexually Assaulted Women


I did a preliminary investigation of allegations of sexual assault brought forward by several women. [1] Their own personal stories can be found in the BPS Report in the section entitled Stories From Women Survivors of Sakyong Mipham’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Misconduct (Stories From Women Survivors). I note that not every woman who came forward submitted a statement to the Stories, preferring not to share details and to remain completely anonymous.

The phrase ‘sexual assault’ can mean many things. One common definition of sexual assault is “any type of offensive sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” In the allegations I heard, there was no consent of any kind. All three allegations meet this definition of sexual assault.

In the most recent situation, 2011, the Sakyong is alleged to have pulled up a women student’s dress, groped her breasts, kissed her, stuck his tongue into her mouth and made a lewd suggestion. He was drunk. [2] This was done without her consent and in full view of at least one other person in a shocking disregard of her physical and emotional well-being. She deflected his advances, but was left humiliated and confused. She had contemporaneous conversations about this incident with a number of KC leaders and other Shambhala members which should provide corroboration of her allegation in a full investigation. I also reviewed some text messages which appeared to indicate that at least one senior leader was aware of the assault sometime in 2011.

Another woman alleges that she was called by a kusung at 11 or 12 pm to come to the Sakyong’s suite after a program. When she got there, he was undressed except for a robe. “Then he led me into his room and began kissing me and removing my clothes. I said I could not have sex with him. He seemed stunned. He thought for a while and pushed my face down towards his penis and said, ‘Well you might as well finish this.’ I was so embarrassed and horrified I did it.” (Stories of Women Survivors in the BPS Report).

Eventually, this woman (and another women who has come forward) “consented” to have sex with him. But the meaning of consent in a situation involving a teacher and a student, who wishes to study and be “close” to the teacher, raises known ethical issues beyond the scope of this investigation but which calls into question whether there can actually be any “consent” in this situation.

Another woman reported that over a period of time at a number of parties, the Sakyong pushed her against the wall, groping and kissing her, while repeatedly trying to persuade her to have sex with him, despite the fact that he was often there with another woman as a date or “consort.” When she finally complained to the Sakyong about his behavior, he refused to discuss it and marginalized her to the point that she felt she had no choice but to leave the community. (Stories from Women Survivors in the BPS Report)

This type of shunning treatment was a common thread in the allegations: “When I began complaining or speaking up to others that I felt deeply impacted by that experience, [of sexual assault] I was told to be quiet, not speak about it publicly, get over it, etc. Not just by leaders, but by friends in the community too. Eventually I left.”
(Email from an anonymous victim to Carol Merchasin)

The Finding

I find the women who came forward to be entirely credible. Each individual story was detailed, consistent and I was able to establish some limited corroboration on the claims of sexual assault. Their individual stories established a strong pattern of similar behaviors. (See Stories from Women Survivors in the BPS Report)

For Full Investigation

If the Sakyong denies that these assaults happened, he should be interviewed to obtain his version of events. It is the case that he issued a Message on June 25th of this year to the community. In the Message, he admits that he had “relationships with women.” However, what is alleged here in this Memorandum is not about a “relationship” but about sexual assaults, which are crimes in every state in the US and in Canada. A full investigation must be done to give the Sakyong the opportunity to respond to these three specific allegations and any others that may arise.

There are at least three additional women who have been identified as having been the victim of sexual misconduct by the Sakyong. They should be contacted and interviewed.

There are additional people within the Shambhala mandala that have knowledge of these events, and others who have heard first hand, contemporaneous accounts of these events. All should be interviewed, if it is necessary to provide additional corroboration of the present allegations.

In addition, a specific kusung who was on duty during one of the incidents should be reinterviewed. He was not in the room at the time of one of the alleged assault and he could not corroborate any of the events. However, since that interview more information is available that might refresh his memory.

There is at least one senior leader that may have been aware of one of the incidents shortly after it occurred and who did nothing, and an allegation that another three leaders may have been aware of an incident at a later point in 2011. All should be interviewed for additional information on what, if anything, leaders were aware of and when.

The Allegations of the Use of Kusung to Procure Women for Sex

Among the women who came forward, several either witnessed the use of kusung to procure women for sex with the Sakyong or experienced it themselves. They observed the same pattern -- that the Sakyong would identify a woman during a teaching or other event and then use a kusung to call sometimes late in the evening and bring her to his lodgings for sex. (See the Stories From Women Survivors in the BPS Report for further details). There is another woman who confirmed that this was her experience also, but her statement is not in the Report.

The Findings:

The women who either experienced this or who observed it were credible witnesses with no discernible motive to lie. While I could not corroborate this directly with any kusung, I heard it from different women victims with no connection to one another and no knowledge of each other’s statements to me. It does not plausible that this is untrue.

For Full Investigation:

In addition to questioning the Sakyong, there are kusung and other leaders who have been specifically named by women as allegedly participating in or condoning this conduct. KC members, current kusung and several kusung no longer in the community should be interviewed for their knowledge of this allegation. If true, this points to a remarkably predatory, institutionalized abuse of women that should not be tolerated in any organization, no less one with spiritual goals.

The Allegations of a Cover-up and Complicity Among Shambhala Leaders

The allegations of a cover-up fall into two categories:

1. Alleged Cover-up: A person came forward who alleged being present during a phone call between a member of the Kalapa Council and an unknown person. In this call, the KC member was informed that the Sakyong had been accused of raping a woman in Chile. After the phone call, the KC member said that a specific group of leaders would be put together to deal with the situation and that members of the KC would conspire to cover-up the allegation and to get the Sakyong sober (allegedly he was extremely drunk). Another Shambhala member confirmed hearing this account from a different person.

Complicity: The totality of the reports makes me reasonably certain that members of the KC and others who surround the Sakyong knew about these alleged assaults and sexual misconduct. I have seen corroborating text messages from a senior leader that appears to indicate that he was aware of the 2011 incident. One woman who was sexually assaulted alleged that she told four different senior leaders and to her knowledge, nothing was done. I have other corroborating witnesses. However, this part of the investigation can only be done by someone who is retained by SI and has the authority and the mandate to interview the KC leadership.

The Findings:

I have no way to assess the claim of an alleged rape in Chile. I do not even know if it is possible to investigate it. Many people I spoke to knew of a rumor of an “incident” in South America in which the Sakyong was “bad” but these are nothing but uncorroborated rumors.

However, the first-hand testimony from the person who heard the phone call and was told about a plan to cover it up is credible.

Further, there is a limited amount of corroboration that a variety of people had knowledge and did nothing. However, if SI feels that this issue of the complicity of other leaders is not true, they should conduct a full investigation into this and any other allegations.

For Full Investigation:

Leaders and members of KC need to be interviewed to determine the veracity of this claim by an investigator whose mandate is to determine the truth of who and what was known about the Sakyong’s alleged sexual misconduct. In addition, the alleged coverup of the situation in Chile should be investigated fully through documentary evidence and interviews with leadership, including whether there were payments made to buy silence.

Conclusion

The goal of this preliminary investigation was to determine whether any of the allegations are credible and if so, to recommend that they be investigated by an independent neutral person that would have access to SI leaders and documents.

I find that all of the allegations I have listed above are credible. The women are from different cities, their experiences are from different time periods, and they have little or no connection to one another until now. The pattern of behavior that their stories establish is compelling.

I spent hours speaking to each of them. In my experience conducting investigations, the level of detail and their reflections on these events in their Stories are not those of people with a vendetta or who have something to gain by lying. In fact, I suspect that each of them would say that stepping forward and speaking out has been a most frightening and unsettling experience.

However, if the Sakyong and the various parties in the leadership of SI believe that these claims are untrue, then it would be in the best interest of the entire Shambhala community for them to commission a full investigation by an independent investigator.
As I have outlined above, there are matters that I could not fully investigate. A full investigation commissioned by SI could likely issue findings with greater certainty on each allegation. SI, like any responsible organization faced with these kinds of credible claims, should welcome the opportunity to dig down deeper to determine the truth and then once the truth is established to outline a clear and specific path toward any necessary reconciliation.

_______________

Notes:

1 These women have requested anonymity. I will therefore not refer to them by name. Some may find it difficult to remain open to claims that are brought anonymously. In my experience, fears of retribution, shunning, and retaliation are overwhelming in these situations and have nothing to do with truthfulness. If people have questions of the truthfulness of these claims, it would be useful to support the conclusion that a full investigation needs to be done.

2 Extreme drunkenness has been a consistent part of the pattern alleged here. But alcohol abuse is just another issue that must be dealt with; it is not and cannot be an excuse for the conduct that is alleged.
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:24 am

Update on the Findings of Sexual Misconduct of the Sakyong (Sexual assault in Chile)
by Carol Merchasin
July 10, 2018

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TO: ANDREA WINN
FROM: CAROL MERCHASIN
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON THE FINDINGS OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT OF THE SAKYONG
DATE: JULY 10, 2018

Since the Phase II Buddhist Project Sunshine Report was published on Thursday, June 28, 2018, much has happened. Both the Kalapa Council and the Sakyong have stepped down and we are told that a full investigation will be done by a law firm in Halifax. Since no investigation has yet begun, I am issuing this update to keep you informed on this, the last part of my investigation.

In my findings published last week, http://andreamwinn.com/offerings/project_sunshine, I wrote, “The allegation of a rape in Chile is just that – an allegation that is second or third hand at best. I have no means of determining whether it is true or false or whether it can even be investigated.”

Within 24 hours of the Phase II Report’s June 28th airing on the Buddhist Project Sunshine blog and on Facebook, a woman came forward to tell the story of her 2002 encounter with the Sakyong in Chile. I interviewed her several times and I interviewed a corroborating witness as well. I also interviewed a kusung who came forward and was able to corroborate certain details. Once again, I will say, as I did in my prior report, that this can only be considered a preliminary investigation. A full investigation must give the Sakyong, leaders of SI and others the opportunity to give their version of this incident.

This woman  [1] alleges that the Sakyong attempted to have sex with her against her will when he came to Chile to teach in 2002. At that time, she was 30 years old.
What follows are the details of her allegation and others that have been raised about this incident.

Allegation #1: The Sakyong sexually assaulted a woman while teaching in Chile in 2002.

The Sakyong invited this Chilean woman to work as an assistant cook for a dinner party on his final night in Santiago, Chile. At some point in the evening, the Sakyong invited all the staff to join the gathering, because he wanted to read some poetry. He was visibly drunk. He asked the Chilean woman to sit next to him. All of a sudden, he took her hand and dragged her to the bathroom. She said that she thought he was going to vomit and that he needed her help.

Once in the bathroom, the Sakyong locked the door and stood in front of it, blocking her exit. He groped her breasts and began trying to remove her clothes. He forced her hand to his genitals, even though she told him “no” several times. She alleges that she told him “No, I don’t want to do this.” She also told him, “I have a boyfriend.” He replied, “That doesn’t matter.” He continued to touch her, to force her to touch him and to tell her that she needed to have sex with him. After some time, in her estimation perhaps 15-20 minutes, [2] she pushed the Sakyong away from the bathroom door, unlocked it and escaped.

She immediately described the assault to the cook, who was still present. The next day, she spoke about it to a person who was traveling with the Sakyong (the Corroborating Witness). The Corroborating Witness was able to confirm that the story the Chilean woman recounted in 2002, one day after the attack, was in all relevant details, the same story the Chilean woman told me this week.


Credibility, Corroboration and Pattern of Behavior

I found this woman very credible. She reached out immediately after the incident to others, telling them the same story; her contemporaneous account to the Corroborating Witness further strengthens her credibility. The Corroborating Witness is also credible; she is a long-time Shambhala Buddhist student with no motive to lie. The Corroborating Witness’s memory of what she was told about the incident is consistent with the Chilean woman’s version.

The account of the incident follows the Sakyong’s patterns of behavior described in the Phase II Report: the Sakyong was drunk, he invited her, a young, attractive female student to come to the dinner “as an assistant cook” when he already had two cooks traveling with him. In other words, he allegedly identified her as someone he was interested in. Then, in full view of others, he pulled her into a bathroom and sexually assaulted her. [3]

Buddhist Project Sunshine received an email from a man who knew about this incident, although he was not present. His version of this incident differed in some minor respects from the Chilean woman’s account and confirmed it in other respects. A full investigation should include an interview with this man to resolve any differences.

Allegation #2: The Leadership of Shambhala Knew About The Sexual Assault in Chile in 2002.

There is considerable corroboration for the allegation that the leadership of Shambhala knew of the Sakyong’s sexual assault at the time that it happened. [4]

1. The Phase II Report explained that a completely unrelated woman, who has no connection to the Chilean woman, told of hearing a 2002 phone call between a man in a leadership position and other leaders who allegedly conspired to keep an incident between the Sakyong and “a woman in Chile” quiet and to “get the Sakyong sober.”

2. A kusung has come forward who was also able to corroborate certain details of the timing and the circumstances surrounding this incident.

3. The Corroborating Witness confirmed that leaders in Shambhala were told of the incident in 2002. The Corroborating Witness was interviewed by David Brown and told him about the sexual assault in detail. She was informed that Mitchell Levy and Jesse Grimes were helping the Sakyong to get sober and “clean up his act.”

4. Later in 2003, when the Chilean woman was in New York City, she informed a Shambhala teacher of what happened to her. She believes that the teacher informed Shambhala leaders because a short time later, a senior Shambhala woman leader was asked to support and help the Chilean woman while she was in New York.

5. The Sakyong came to New York and met with the Chilean woman, presumably to apologize. He sent a letter to her allegedly apologizing for his conduct. It certainly seems likely that the leadership of Shambhala was aware of the sexual assault.

The Kalapa Council’s has said that “…. regarding the rape allegation in Chile, we have reason to believe that it is not true because we have actually heard from first hand witnesses.” [5] Technically, that statement is true, but misleading. The Chilean woman was not raped because she fought off the Sakyong’s assault and escaped. Her allegation is that the Sakyong sexually assaulted her despite her repeated refusals. There is considerable corroboration that the top leaders in Shambhala were aware of this incident in 2002 when it occurred.

The Sakyong's counsel wrote to me on December 24, 2018, as follows:

I can confirm that we are familiar with the allegation to the extent that it appears in the BPS report. Please accept this letter as our response to that investigation.

The [Claimant No. 3] allegation stands in stark contrast and appears to be comprised of three component allegations:

1. The allegation that the Sakyong had a sexual relationship with [Claimant No.3]. It is unclear whether that relationship is alleged to have been consensual or not;

2. The allegation that the Sakyong participated in the ritualized molestation of children; the same was facilitated by the victim's parents, seeking to make "offerings" of their children for the Sakyong's sexual gratification; and

3. The allegation that the Sakyong - and others - conspired to sexually assault [Claimant No. 3] in a hotel room in what could only be described as a "gang rape".

None of the events described above occurred. There is no context or mischaracterization at issue here. The [Claimant No. 3] allegation and its component allegations are dismissed in their entirety. That notwithstanding, we can specifically confirm that:

1. The Sakyong has never had a sexual contact, of any kind, at any time, consensual or otherwise, with [Claimant No.3]. There are any number of people who worked in the Sakyong's household that can confirm same;

2. The Sakyong has never had sexual contact of any kind with a child or children, as described by [Claimant No.3] or otherwise. Again, the availability of witnesses present at the time should offer ample opportunity for confirmation that this claim is baseless;

3. The Sakyong did not participate in any sexual assault of [Claimant No. 3], attempted or otherwise, as part of a group or otherwise. The Sakyong is familiar with the other individuals referenced by [Claimant No. 3] and expects they are equally shocked by this bizarre and unsupported allegation.

Given that there is no truth whatsoever to [Claimant No. 3's] allegations, and that these events did not occur, we do not believe that an interview would yield any additional context or information.


I am, of course, disappointed that I was not able to speak with the Sakyong directly about these allegations. However, I take his written response for what it is. I am conscious of the fact that I have not met with him face-to-face about these allegations. That did not mean that the Investigation could not continue.

-- Report to the Community on the Wickwire Holm Claims Investigation Into Allegations of Sexual Misconduct, by Shambhala Interim Board: Veronika Bauer, Mark Blumenfeld, Martina Bouey, John Cobb, Jen Crow, Sara Lewis, Susan Ryan, Paulina Varas


Allegation #3: The Sakyong had a number of senior students, often women, who were ‘sexual fixers’ whose job it was to placate and silence women whom he assaulted.

This week Buddhist Project Sunshine received an anonymous email message alleging that a specific senior Shambhala woman leader traveled around “fixing” sexual assaults committed by the Sakyong, placating and mollifying the victims and by acting as a “friend.” The email writer’s implication was that this was done deliberately to silence the women whom the Sakyong had harmed.

This email was from an anonymous email address and therefore impossible to investigate. If the person making this claim wishes to contact Buddhist Project Sunshine directly, I can turn it over for a full investigation. I cannot find it credible on its own.

However, as noted above, a senior Shambhala woman leader was allegedly asked to speak with the Chilean woman while she was in New York, to “be a friend to her” and to help her to deal with what had happened. The Chilean woman confirmed that this woman leader did indeed support her, but she did not perceive this help as anything other than friendship, which she appreciated. [6] In fact, the Chilean woman stated that this woman “was there … to truly guide me and help me heal. I think she was genuine.”

Another woman who came forward earlier also spoke of being asked to help placate and mollify several women,
although it is not clear that these were situations of sexual assault or whether they were consensual relationships. Several people within the Kalapa Council appeared to be aware of the alleged assault in 2011 discussed in the Phase II report and offered friendship instead of accountability to the woman who had been harmed.

I do not have enough information to say that there is a pattern of complicity and covering up, but this allegation should fall within the scope of the full investigation.

Allegation #4: The Chilean woman was paid for her silence regarding a sexual assault, that the police were involved, that the Sakyong had to exit the country in a hurry to avoid arrest, that there was a legal action, that something also took place in Brazil and so forth.

I have not found any evidence that any of the above allegations are true.

1. The Chilean woman has said that she was not paid for her silence.

2. She says she never went to the police.

3. The Sakyong left Chile shortly after the sexual assault but this was his planned departure according to both the Chilean woman involved and the Corroborating Witness.

4. The Chilean woman brought no legal action.

5. The Corroborating Witness has stated unequivocally that the rumors listed above are not true.


6. While it is possible that another incident of sexual assault occurred in Brazil, the Sakyong stayed there for a very short time, and the Corroborating Witness has no knowledge of it.

Conclusion

1. There is evidence that the allegation that the Sakyong sexually assaulted a woman in Chile during his trip there in 2002 is credible. There is also evidence that the allegation that leaders of Shambhala were aware of this sexual assault in 2002 is credible and corroborated.

2. There is an allegation that senior Shambhala women leaders were used to “befriend” women who had been assaulted by the Sakyong in an effort to mollify, placate and gain their silence. I do not conclude that it happened in this case, because the Chilean woman is quite clear that the help offered to her was genuine, but it is a pattern that should be investigated.

In a full investigation, members of the Kalapa Council, the Sakyong and others listed below should be interviewed so that a finding on the allegation of the sexual assault and the complicity of leaders can be determined.

The full investigation should specifically include the following additional interviews:

1. The senior Shambhala woman leader who was asked to support the Chilean woman while she was in NYC,

2. The cook and assistant cook who were present when the Chilean woman escaped from the bathroom,

3. The Shambhala teacher in NYC who was helpful to the Chilean woman and who is alleged to have spoken to the Kalapa Council,

4. The man who wrote the email described above with a different account of some of the facts.

5. Another more complete look into the rumors regarding a woman who was paid for her silence, possibly in Brazil, should also be included.

Once again, I conclude that there is more than enough here to warrant a complete investigation. These are serious allegations to which the Sakyong and the people who were in leadership positions in 2002 and 2003 must have an opportunity to respond. No investigation can be considered complete or fully accurate without having an impartial investigator listen to the conflicting information and make a reasoned determination.

Once I have been contacted by a neutral, third-party investigator, I will turn over all of the evidence that I have on this and the prior matters described in the Phase II Report.

_______________

Notes:

1 Her name will be kept anonymous in this report. She is referred to throughout as “the Chilean woman.”

2 She does not know exactly how long she was locked in the bathroom but it was long enough for all of the dinner guests who had been present to have departed by the time she emerged.

3 It is important to understand the terminology used here. The conduct described here is not rape because there is no allegation of sexual intercourse. The definition of ‘attempted rape’ varies but the common definition is conduct where rape was the motive for an assault, although no rape was carried out. Because the victim does not know the Sakyong’s motive and intention, I have used the term “sexual assault” throughout as it more accurately describes her experience.

4 This incident in 2002 predates the formation of the Kalapa Council, although the people in leadership positions are largely the same.

5 This appeared in notes taken by an unknown person during a call among the Kalapa Council and some 100 people in the community. It appeared on a Facebook page and was then deleted but not before it was widely shared. It also appeared in a different set of notes quoted in an article in THINKPROGRESS on July 6, 2018. “Shambhala nevertheless believes the Chile allegation to be untrue and said that the organization has “first-hand witnesses who indicate it isn’t true.”

6 The senior Shambhala woman did not respond to my email requesting an interview.  

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

level 1
Metropolion
7 days ago
Hi Allthewholeworld and everybody!

I'm writing to you from the Southern Hemisphere. Thank you for all the work done and the healing process you've put in motion with your bodhisattva attitude and clear sensitivity. I'm writing now with answers on the detail of what happened in Chile 2002.

I've been a Shambhala practitioner since 93. I've been director, director of practice and education several times, teacher, MI, Ngöndro Instructor and all the other possible roles up to SS. So I know everybody there for a very long time. I have to say that I'm happy to feel that writing to you I'm among like minded and good heart human beings that have woken up from this sticky dream. The dream or aspiration of having a healthy good place on Earth where decency abides and makes all life flourish. But that's not the case of Shambhala and the Sakyong and of course in the Shambhala center in Santiago Chile.

I'm deeply sad, hurt and troubled on the way the "incident" in Chile has been silenced and covered up all these years. And of course I'm part of it, since as director I'm complicit in following the party line on that regards. I'm deeply ashamed for having done so and having faded out my critical intelligence.

As you may be aware of, every time we had teachers they really loooved the country, they used to say that everybody wanted to come teach here since it was so cool and pleasant. But if you looked at it deeply here, it was a place where that culture of abuse flourished without obstruction. All criticism was silenced, avoided, neglected and of course punished, with the smiley and soft Shambhala way of course, that was both brutal and cold and ad hominem. If you were not in total agreement with the right ones, one should forget about belonging to a sane "enlightened community", it becomes the best amplified version of the worse of any dysfunctional human group. The Catholic church scandals and Shambhala are twins in the way they deal with what they have created

So that's the environment, let's introduce you to the main players of the sexual assault that happened here.

The Sakyong have come invited by the actual Director Veronica Guzman, an old practitioner and also the promoters of the culture of abuse in Chile. Public talks were given with great success. The farewell dinner was held at the department where the Sakyong and his entourage was staying. That department belonged to a sangha member.

But if you want names about who was there, please ask Acharya Magaly Meneses. She was the Sakyong's translator in Chile and she was there. She was at the meeting where the sexual assault occurred (it wasn't rape since it was no penetration, if you want to have a technical clarity on it). Along with her was the actual Shastri Jaime Sepulveda and Francesca Nilo. All of them knew it all, so it's unbelievable when Meneses says publicly here in Chile that sexual abuse is something that happens in the North only, that she's talked to the victim and all is clear with no bad feelings from her side. Speaking like that is a crime, she only wants to keep her position and avoid any possible legal action against her. The same with the rest. Jaime Sepulveda was there too exchanging a row of drinks with the Sakyong. But of course he hasn't said a word in all these years and he keeps his position remaining in a convenient silence, the same with Francesca Nilo. All off them have been trying to brush things under the carpet, clenching their theets in order to pass the perfect storm that threatens to end their unchallenged positions. They want to remain alive in their positions for a better future. But things have been falling down little by little without stopping.

And don't forget Veronica Guzman, the director at the time of the sexual assault happened and actual executive director of a mindfulness institute in Santiago (http://www.mindfulness.cl). She made all the possible efforts to silence the whole situation, she's the first complicit. She created the standard that was followed later on this regard. And Julia Sagebien....oh please! She had her sexual predatory tours while in Chile. She is part of this culture because she wanted to behave like CT but her problem was that she doesn't like Mipham. That's why she was ostracized after all this. And now she speaks out loud against it! Why she didn't tell earlier? I do remember her garcon-like chauvinistic predatory behaviour here. To see her speaking as if something happens without her knowing is an insult to basic human intelligence.

These are the main actors, the players on what happened here in Chile in 2002. All of them know it all all the time. And they are part of the culture of abuse here in Chile. Their abusive actions continued later on regarding the Acharya and Shastris, they are the big part of the cultural problem Shambhala has. Here in Chile they are simply unwilling to see their long string of power and clerical abuses they have made here and to simply ask themselves if they have played a role in this catastrophe. Why? because Magaly Meneses became a close friend to the Sakyong after his visit in 2002 where she was her confident and translator. So whoever was protected by her had the protection of Shambhala International granted.

***

level 2
CachitadelBoddhi
3 days ago
Buenos dias Metropolion. Greetings from the Caribbean. I read your post about events in the Chilean sangha. It inspired me to write to you to suggest that you and I open up the discussion about some of the themes you explore in you post.

Three points are particularly important for me to clarify:

You bring up a very important question: why is there no further investigation on SMR's inappropriate behaviour towards 'Andrea'. You seem to imply that -- because the incident has not been mentioned since the Sunshine Report where the details of the incident were described by Ms. Merchasin, and I posted my addendum to that report published in Shambhala Facebook -- there must be some sort of cover up. However, the reality is quite different. Andrea herself felt that, as far as far as she was concerned, the issue had been laid to rest.

I suggest that you write to Carol Marchasin directly and review the process that involved several conversations between her, Andrea, and me as a 'corroborating witness.' I also suggest you read the Facebook posting with my recollections of the Chile incident.

2) You allege that my distancing myself from Shambhala is the result of the fact that I don’t like the Sakyong. Have you ever spoken to me directly or is this an impression you got from conversation you have had with many others who have not spoken to me either? Despite all the rebuff that I have experienced from SMR and from the administration for my public resistance to a path I simply no longer recognized -- I actually, love the man. I recognize all his limitations and confusions, but he is part of my ‘family’. Nevertheless, I have serious differences with him regarding the self-serving elimination of the Kagyu and Nyingma Lineages (other live teachers who hold transmission and are accomplished) from our sangha's spiritual command.

3) As per my alleged 'sexually predatory trips' -- I would like you to provide specific evidence of your claims. As an educator in academic settings and as an educator in dharma -- I consider my students absolutely off limits. I have very close women friends in Chile -– but that is all they were –- very close friends. Once during a seminary at SMC, I had a relationship with a member of the Iberoamerican sangha. I immediately recused myself as her MI and the relationship was conducted between two rather mature consenting adults. Yes -- power differentials are implied in this relationship -- but how are we even going to date across power strata? I am not sure a total ban is most productive approach. I suggest you ask those who you think I preyed upon and provide evidence that there was indeed such an abuse of authority and abrogation of duty on my part. Stylistically -- yup -- you got me. I am flamboyant, extroverted, loving and do have a certain le garcon style. That is simply who I am -- in Chile, in Havana, in Canada and everywhere else. Perhaps you are reading too much into a style? If you find this style offensive, I apologize for any unintended disturbance I may have caused you. But, in return, I request that you consider that perhaps you have a deep prejudice towards people of my style of personality and are projecting all sorts of malfeasance when there is none. Worth contemplating.

Metropolion -- we definitely need to have to our collective inappropriate behaviour outed. But making the kinds of unfounded allegations you itemized in your post -- only confuses the matter because finding the truth becomes simply a matter of 'I said -- you said' instead of a constructive collective understanding of the real dynamics that need to be changed. Please, consult with Attorney Merchasin, Andrea, and those you think I sexually preyed upon. Let me us know what you find.

In addition, should you want to enter a private conversation with me, I am also open to that. Perhaps together we can address the real harm and leave the spurious allegations of harm aside. We have enough serious and real harm to worry about.

Thank you for reading to you and all on this thread.

JS

-- Inside the Tiny Pathetic World of Sakyong Mipham, by allthewholeworld


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

It wasn’t long after starting the tour that we traveled to Chile for a teaching visit. Most of the visit was unremarkable. Near the end of the teaching cycle there was a final dinner at the home of a sangha member. This is the night that was detailed in the Buddhist Project Sunshine (BPS) reports. I will present my recollection to the best of my ability.

The dinner started off quite politely, conversation, thank you´s, and so on. As I recall, local people had taken over the bulk of the service, so I spent most of the early part of the night helping in the kitchen. At some point the serving staff were invited to come to the front. I believe it was the host who stood and opened a fairly impressive liquor cabinet. The cook and I shared a look, concerned.

The night wore on and the crazy wisdom came back out. Writing about this part of it just kind of bores me. I had only been on the road for three or four weeks and I was already getting tired of that crap. It didn’t happen all the time, but I was already wondering why it happened at all.

At some point I had had enough and checked out. I went and sat in a chair in a nearby room, an office. I hadn’t yet learned that my primary job was to protect Mr. Mukpo from himself. To this day I feel shame.

My memory of what happened next differs very slightly from what was reported by BPS. I feel it is my obligation to tell things as I remember them. It was 15 years ago, so I can only say what I remember.

I was sitting in the chair stewing. I looked up and saw Mr. Mukpo and the young woman from the report walking into what I believed to be a bedroom. Another guest closed the door behind them. That guest is currently an Acharya. My anger toward him in that moment was physical. I couldn’t believe he would do that. I was just learning that it was normal.

I had met this woman earlier and I did not think she would find it appropriate. I felt that the Acharya was encouraging her to sleep with him by closing the door. I cannot say for certain what happened behind closed doors so I defer to the account given by the victim. I have no reason to doubt.

After some time, I don’t remember how long, the Kasung on duty, a local woman, came and told me that she was tired, and that the host would drive us home. She forgot to give me the keys to the apartment. Over the same time span most or all of the guests left.

The woman came out of the room very upset. Somehow I wound up talking to her for a while on a balcony. She told me some of what had happened. I got the impression that Mr. Mukpo had forcefully tried to get her to have sex with him. I was not told that she had been locked-in, or that he had forced her to touch him. What she told me was bad enough, but she did not tell me that part.

I only remember pieces of the conversation, mostly of me trying to rationalize the behavior in some tantric sense while still trying to be supportive. Again, I feel shame.

The rest of the story is much as told by others. I kept his secret for 15 years. I smiled and said that I had a great time in Chile. I dodged questions and avoided people who had heard rumors about “something happening”. I had passed on the information to my superiors and just blocked the whole experience out the best I could. After a year or so the interest died down and I just kind of carried it, never speaking to anyone, and I mean anyone, about that night.

That’s how it works. We didn’t even talk to each other. If we had, we would have understood just how widespread it was. We need more Kusung to talk. Then we can see what enlightened society is really built on.

-- by Craig Morman, An Open Letter to the Shambhala Community from Long-Serving Kusung To the Shambhala community, by Craig Morman, Ben Medrano, MD, Laura Leslie, Louis Fitch, David Ellerton, Allya Canepa
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:21 am

Short History of Buddhist Project Sunshine
February 11, 2019

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February 27, 2017 [Launch date Buddhist Project Sunshine]

Project Sunshine is a one-year project that was launched on Shambhala Day 2017 [February 27, 2017]


February 15, 2018 [Phase 1 Report]

I took this 1-year project on as one lone person who cares about the health of the Shambhala community. It was more work than I ever could have imagined! This has been done with my full heart, and I am grateful that I gave myself this gift, and that it will hopefully be received as a gift to the community.

My volunteer position radically scales down today. I will continue giving 5 hours of time a week to follow ups from the project, including fielding questions and contributing to the discussion in the Facebook forum that will be offered soon. If the community gathers energy to take further action needing a project manager, we will need to raise funds for that. But for now, let's just talk!


March 24, 2018 [Go Fund Me Page created]

Buddhist Project Sunshine Go Fund Me page created March 24, 2018
https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2


June 28, 2018 [Phase 2 Report]

Next steps for Buddhist Project Sunshine

I began working on Project Sunshine in January 2017. It has been over a year and a half of gruelling work. I put my heart out in this way in the hope that genuine healing can happen for the Shambhala community. I am grateful for the healing that has already begun. At the same time I have gone into personal financial debt of $37,500. Therefore, as Buddhist Project Sunshine is coming to the end of the funds raised, I am going on a semi-sabbatical as of Friday June 29th as I begin a small paid job to make money to support myself. I will continue to host the Buddhist Project Sunshine Discussion Forum through July 31st, as promised.

In light of financial uncertainty, and in the hopes that Buddhist Project Sunshine can continue, I am initiating a dialog with a number of people who contributed to Phase 2. We will explore possibilities for group leadership of the project. All decisions about the future or possible closing of the project will be announced on the Buddhist Project Sunshine community email list....

Buddhist Project Sunshine is hosting a thriving moderated discussion group, including healthy discussion threads about Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s abuses and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche’s abuses. I (Andrea Winn) have specialized in the research and development of distance healing programs for the past 7 years. I have brought the best of what I know to designing a leading edge moderated discussion forum for anyone with a heart connection to Shambhala, so you can receive support for digesting this information and envisioning a bright future for yourself personally, and for the community. Learn more and register at: http://andreamwinn.com/offerings/projec ... ion_group/


July 31, 2018 [Buddhist Project Sunshine Discussion Forum shut down]

I will continue to host the Buddhist Project Sunshine Discussion Forum through July 31st, as promised.
http://andreamwinn.com/offerings/projec ... ion_group/


August 23, 2018 [Phase 3 Report]

Appendix 1: BPS 3-month organizational start up budget

Image

You can donate to Buddhist Project Sunshine at our on-going GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2

***

Buddhist Project Sunshine needs your support

At the end of Phase 2 [Phase 2 Report was dated June 28, 2018], I announced I was retiring because I have been over working to achieve what we've achieved with this project, and I have gone into significant personal financial debt. However, there has been a continued need for the key role I have been playing. As well, there has been an outpouring of donations to Buddhist Project Sunshine. Two hundred and twenty three people have donated $16,564 since early April [Go Fund Me Page was created March 24, 2018], which is astounding! I am so grateful! So I have surrendered to the flow of goodness and continued my work.

I have formed and run this organization through heroic exertion and passionate focus. At this point a shift must happen, however, both for my own health and the health of BPS. We are not able to work at a scale appropriate to the needs of Shambhala's healing process without paid staff.

A member of our core leadership group did research and determined an appropriate 3-person staff structure for BPS running as a non-profit organization, with an Executive Director (myself), an Associate Director, and a Development Officer. We need an Associate Director to interview, support and manage our growing number of volunteers and a Development Officer to focus on getting charitable status and ensure our financial health through continued donations.

Over the past eight months, Shambhala International has chosen not to support Buddhist Project Sunshine in our efforts to support community healing or our investigation. Instead they have chosen to retain a separate, non-transparent investigation through Wickwire Holm and to hire An Olive Branch. It is clear that BPS will require community support outside of SI leadership to keep our work going.

I have prepared a 3-month budget with the intention of it giving us time to establish nonprofit status. The budget includes mid-range salary amounts for the three needed staff positions. I am including this 3-month budget in Appendix 1 with the hope that this work is proving meaningful enough to be supported in a more secure way. Since we must raise $47,000 in additional funds, this plan calls for seed money from major donors. We will gratefully receive emails to explore major donor relationships. I would like to speak with potential major donors personally. Please email: buddhistprojectsunshine@gmail.com .

Everyone can donate to Buddhist Project Sunshine at our on-going GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2

I also feel it is important to share that by some cosmic karmic fluke, my core leadership group is unavailable for service as of this week (one is on family medical leave, another is on vacation, and another has taken a full time job). I will not have anyone answering Buddhist Project Sunshine email for the foreseeable future, so my ability to respond will undoubtedly be slow. Please be patient with our slow response for the next little while. I can assure you we will get to everyone's request as soon as possible.


January 17, 2019 [Andrea offers "Basic News Service" Jan. 2019 - April 2019 for additional $2,500]

BPS would like to offer a basic News Service for the winter while the staff and volunteers take time off to heal from 2018.

Why is news important?

Shambhala’s leadership seems to, unfortunately, still be covering things up. They are not sharing news that is important for the community to know.

We feel it is important for all people impacted by abuse in Shambhala to know about the three police investigations of Shambhala leaders, including Osel Mukpo, that are now open. We also feel it is important for you to have access to media articles, such as the series of articles in the Denver Post about the police investigation into Osel Mukpo.

Many Shambhalians are waiting for Shambhala’s Wickwire Holm investigation results. In the BPS Phase 3 report we detailed core problems with this investigation. The biggest problem being that according to Wickwire Holm, they will give the results of their investigation to the man who hired them: Alex Halpern. Mr. Halpern works closely for Osel Mukpo and has a conflict of interest for sharing the investigation report fully with the Interim Board. Furthermore, the Interim Board has sworn an oath of loyalty to Osel Mukpo, so this will be second layer of filtering of the investigation results before they will be shared with the community.

Carol Merchasin has some ideas for how these problems could be addressed with the Wickwire Holm investigation, and we hope to share her thoughts through the BPS communication channels.

We see BPS’s established communication channels as something of value. We hope you do too. Provided we can raise funds to run a news service, we will offer this news service over the winter. We need to raise $2,500 to offer this service January through April.

You can help ensure BPS can offer this news service by donating on our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2


February 4, 2019 [Buddhist Project Sunshine completed; Go Fund Me page shut down]

Image
$24,722 of $45,487 goal

With Buddhist Project Sunshine's mission complete, Andrea is closing her BPS social justice campaign February 4th, 2019

Without doubt, it can be said that the mission of Buddhist Project Sunshine has been accomplished at this point, and far more. The original mission was to bring healing light to the sexualized violence in Shambhala. That has happened beyond what I could ever have imagined two years ago, as in the last week the first Shambhala leader was arrested for sexually assaulting a minor and police investigations are now in progress with respect to Osel Mukpo and John Weber.

I am leaving the GofundMe campaign open until February 4th for anyone who would like to contribute to help me pay the debt I accumulated as I devoted my time and energy to BPS. My debt is $20,200. I made decisions along the way to continue to focus on BPS rather than shift my focus back to my coaching service because I personally needed the sexualized violence to be brought out into the light. I do not regret this. And now I am turning my attention to my own healing, paying my debt, and moving forward with a good life. I welcome financial help from those who feel they benefitted from my efforts. If you feel moved, you can contribute here.

I am sincerely grateful to every single person who contributed to the life changing positive work of this project.
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:37 am

Happy New Year from BPS!
by Andrea M. Winn
January 17, 2019

Buddhist Project Sunshine wishes everyone a healing, growing and inspiring year in 2019. After a volatile 2018, it is important to set strong and firm intentions for charting pathways of authentic peace in the new year. There will undoubtedly be further challenges in 2019, and we can face them firmly connected with our loving heart and expecting a healthy and healing outcome.

BPS would like to offer a basic News Service for the winter while the staff and volunteers take time off to heal from 2018.

Why is news important?

Shambhala’s leadership seems to, unfortunately, still be covering things up. They are not sharing news that is important for the community to know.

We feel it is important for all people impacted by abuse in Shambhala to know about the three police investigations of Shambhala leaders, including Osel Mukpo, that are now open. We also feel it is important for you to have access to media articles, such as the series of articles in the Denver Post about the police investigation into Osel Mukpo.

Many Shambhalians are waiting for Shambhala’s Wickwire Holm investigation results. In the BPS Phase 3 report we detailed core problems with this investigation. The biggest problem being that according to Wickwire Holm, they will give the results of their investigation to the man who hired them: Alex Halpern. Mr. Halpern works closely for Osel Mukpo and has a conflict of interest for sharing the investigation report fully with the Interim Board. Furthermore, the Interim Board has sworn an oath of loyalty to Osel Mukpo, so this will be second layer of filtering of the investigation results before they will be shared with the community.

Carol Merchasin has some ideas for how these problems could be addressed with the Wickwire Holm investigation, and we hope to share her thoughts through the BPS communication channels.

We see BPS’s established communication channels as something of value. We hope you do too. Provided we can raise funds to run a news service, we will offer this news service over the winter. We need to raise $2,500 to offer this service January through April.

You can help ensure BPS can offer this news service by donating on our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/project-sunshine-phase-2

Wishing you every joy in 2019,
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Re: Buddhist Project Sunshine Phase 3 Final Report: The nail

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 10:20 pm

In An Evolution, Edelman Moves Deeper Into Agencies' Turf
by Megan Graham
Published on June 11, 2018

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Facing a media business in decline and an endemic crisis in trust, Edelman is evolving its own way of doing business. The giant public relations and marketing consultancy firm has in recent years been quietly bulking up its creative, paid media and consulting expertise. Now it's launching a repositioning campaign called "Act with Certainty."

The campaign is meant to promote Edelman's work with brands in this expanded capacity, like its working with REI to close its stores on Black Friday and start its #OptOutside movement; helping guide CVS Health as it pulled cigarettes and tobacco products from more than 7,000 stores; and helping Dove launch an all-female production company to tell women's stories. The campaign appears in marketing trade publications for now.

It's all meant to illustrate Edelman's new focus on "communications marketing," which goes beyond its public relations roots to include integrated creative campaigns and movements "driven by earned-centric, social-by-design storytelling." The firm says it is on track to bring in $1 billion in annual revenue within the next year and a half.

Edelman President and CEO Richard Edelman cited a few factors that led the firm to the new marketing approach. The media business was in the midst of a "business model problem," he says, where journalism was changing and there were simply fewer reporters to pitch stories to. And traditional creative agencies had a slate of new competition from media buying and digital firms encroaching into the creative business. There was a "real crisis in trust," he says.

"The idea of merging brand and reputation plays to our sweet spot," he says. He pointed to the firm's recent work with Starbucks regarding what the brand is and what it means for America.

"There is more risk in being paralyzed and afraid than there is in acting," Edelman says. "The great brands will distinguish themselves by what they do—not just by what they say … [Brands] will sell more products to more loyal customers if they are relevant."

Edelman hopes to compete directly with traditional ad agencies and digital firms to be a lead agency for this kind of creative, media and brand work.

Forrester analyst Jay Pattisall says the expanded remit makes "perfect sense" as firms in the marketing world look for new revenue opportunities, especially as marketers are compressing their budgets and moving from longer term, AOR-style relationships to more project relationships.

The new model started to take shape about five years ago with a slate of new hires—including Mark Renshaw, most recently chief digital and innovation officer at Leo Burnett, to run the Brand practice; Carol Potter, former CEO of BBDO Greater China to be CEO of Edelman EMEA; and Jesse Lin, formerly vice chairman of APAC and CEO of Greater China for McCann, to be CEO of Edelman APAC.

The firm has also recently hired leaders from agencies and organizations including GroupM, Digitas, Ogilvy, Energy BBDO, R/GA and Resolution Media to work on paid media and digital.

Edelman, which employs more than 6,500, has hired more than 600 creatives, planners and paid media specialists and has also built up a paid media business that now manages more than $200 million in spend. The firm is also launching a communications advisory business, which will be led by Richard Wergan, former chief marketing and brand officer at Royal Phillips.

Renshaw, who joined in January 2017, says Edelman is well positioned to keep a story going and add in new dimensions, whereas traditional ad agencies aren't as familiar with that aspect.

An example: The firm worked with Mars Wrigley Confectionery to create the "Extra Care Box" in China. Since children in China bring lunch boxes to school to collect hot meals from the cafeteria, the firm helped to create an interactive lunchbox encouraging children to pop in sugar-free gum after eating.

"It's not really advertising, not really digital and it's not really PR—it's kind of something in-between," Renshaw says.

Pattisall, the Forrester analyst, says he's found many PR agencies are trying to create "brand-style engagements" that can be "PR-able events that help result in those earned impressions." He gives the example of McCann's Fearless Girl, which didn't have the same kind of traditional media spend but more of a PR approach.

"By having this type of capability, it only increases their ability to be a really good PR agency," he says. The only trouble, he adds, might be breaking outside that legacy, since Edelman is historically known for PR.
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